Friday, December 29, 2006

Friday Beagle Blogging

Baxter is keeping an ear open for our dinner guests. We're saying goodbye to Granny Geek and Gentle Ben. Snarling Marmot and the Chatter guy are joining us.

As you can see, Baxter is rather sad about Granny and Ben's move to Dallas. He hopes they'll leave posts for him on this blog.

DocLarry and Mrs. DocLarry will also miss Granny and Gentle Ben. The entire DocLarry household wishes them a safe journey.

Where's Osama?

You know, the guy responsible for 9/11. Doesn't seem like the Bush administration has worried about him, being bogged down in Iraq and all. Oh, they like to pull him out around election time to scare the voters and make the neocons tremble under their beds.

Most thinking beings would consider the failure to capture the man responsible for the 9/11 attacks a failure. But not Bushco. Nope. To them, the capture of bin Laden is a "success that hasn't occurred yet," according to White House Homeland Security Adviser Frances Frago Townsend.

I wonder if I can buy a new house with the money I'm going to win in the lottery? After all, that's just a success that hasn't occurred yet.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Have You Had Enough Yet?

More U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq than the number of people killed in the September 11 terrorist attacks. At least 2,977 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq, and the 9/11 milestone came on Christmas.

NEW YORK (AP) -- In a span of a few hours, 2,973 people were killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. In a span of 45 months, the number of American troops killed in Iraq has exceeded that grim toll.

The milestone in Iraq came on Christmas, nearly four years after the war began, according to a count by The Associated Press.

With new casualties announced by the U.S. military on Tuesday, the death toll of American soldiers since the March 2003 beginning of the Iraq war was at least 2,978 -- five more than the number killed in the Sept. 11 attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

The AP count is 17 higher than the Defense Department's tally, which was last updated Tuesday.

President Bush has said the Iraq war is part of the United States' post-Sept. 11 approach to threats abroad: Taking the offensive against enemies before they could harm Americans.

There has not been any credible evidence linking Iraq to the Sept. 11 attacks. Democrats have said the war in Iraq detracted from efforts against al-Qaida and other terrorist groups.

According to the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, the Dept. of Defense has now confirmed 2,977 U.S. deaths, with another 13 pending DoD confirmation--a total of 2,990 U.S. troops killed in a country that had nothing to do with 9/11.

But hey, at least Dubya is making "good progress" on a fresh strategy on Iraq. That means many more young Americans will die for Bush's folly. And as we all know, deciderating is hard work.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Friday Beagle Blogging

Baxter wishes you all a happy and safe holiday, whatever you celebrate. And he reminds you, as a good midwesterner, there must be Jello with Christmas dinner.

Baxter, the Talented and Lovely Mrs. DocLarry and DocLarry will be traveling north this weekend. For those of you also on the roads, drive safely and courteously. Santa is ever vigilant.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Thanks, I guess.

So I've been named Time's "Person of the Year." I should feel honored, I suppose, even though it puts me on a level with Hitler. But I'm in good company because all of YOU are also Time's "Person of the Year."

I thought the purpose of this annual issue was to address the person or persons who, for bad or worse, most affected world events of the year. So they picked...everyone? So we all most affected world events this year? Equally?

Sounds like we're all above average. All 6.5 billion of us. I feel so special.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Post-Thanksgiving Beagle Blogging

Baxter decides he's had enough turkey and needs a nap.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Bush Loves Baldy

President Bush, right, pets 'Flyer' after pardoning ceremony in Rose Garden, 22 Nov. 2006

What is this obsession Dubya has with bald heads? Why does he feel the need to rub them? Perhaps most importantly, why does the AP feel it necessary to tell us which of the above is Bush?

Vote Counting

Florida still has a problem counting votes, and provides the best argument for requiring a paper trail to electronic voting machines.

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Touch-screen voting machines were supposed to be the answer, a response to the chaos of the 2000 presidential election.

Instead, the discovery of about 18,000 electronic votes recorded as blank in this month's tight race for Congress has created a new black eye for Florida elections.

A paper trail might have provided clues to what happened Nov. 7, but Florida officials have balked at requiring such backup. The state Legislature repeatedly has killed measures to require a verifiable paper trail, and neither Governor Jeb Bush nor the secretary of state's office has pushed the idea.

So six years after late-night comedians joked about "bringing democracy to Florida," the state still has not found a way to hold elections without controversy.

Earlier this week, state officials certified Republican Vern Buchanan the winner over Democrat Christine Jennings by 369 votes, or less than 0.02 percent, in the 13th congressional district.

Jennings has contested the election, arguing that touch-screen voting machines had malfunctioned and asking a judge to order a new election. State officials said Wednesday they would test voting machines, including five used in Sarasota County on Election Day, for accuracy.

The high number of blanks, or "undervotes," cast in the race has been questioned. Computer problems are suspected, but finding an answer has been difficult.

Comparatively, only about 1 percent of Sarasota County voters did not make a selection in the senator and governor's race.

Once again, suspicious vote counts favor a Republican. And Republicans don't want paper trails. Why do Republicans hate America?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Pre-Thanksgiving Beagle Blogging

Baxter makes his glorious return to the blog. Here he is watching the Springfield Labor Day Parade, wondering why people keep throwing stuff at him. No, he's not into candy.

Baxter did not want to share his bed with the Corgi Who Ate Springfield on a recent visit.

Baxter is amaz that could balance a plate of food, hold a hot dog, and drink a beer without dropping any crumbs for the starving beagle.

Baxter does his best impression of Hell Hound while Ozarks Yin Yang risks an arrest by blinding an Aurora law enforcement dude.

Here's wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving, a safe Black Friday, and lots of naps. Try to cuddle with one you love.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Harumph to Pahrump

Pahrump, Nevada, that is. This "quiet, country life" town is 63 miles west of Las Vegas, near the California state line. Prior to the '90s, Pahrump was known to many Las Vegas residents as "the place where the whorehouses are." Now it's the place where the bigots live.

Pahrump's elders voted last week to approve an ordinance that makes it illegal to display a foreign flag unless an American flag is flown above it. You read that correctly. You cannot fly a foreign flag in Pahrump, Nevada unless you fly an American flag above it.


8. Flying of Flags on residential and business property including land. The Official Flag of the United States of America shall be flown in accordance to United States Code, Title 4. No other flag or pennant may be placed above or, if on the same level, to the right of the flag of the United States of America. And, if flown from the same halyard in this order from top to bottom:

a. The Official Flag of the United States of America.
b. The Official Flag of the State of Nevada.
c. The Official Flag of the Town of Pahrump.
d. The Official Flag of our Military Forces.
e. Any other flag or pennant an individual wishes to fly other than a flag of a foreign nation.
f. A flag of a foreign nation cannot be flown by itself, and must always be flown with the Official Flag of the United States of America, union first, from separate staffs. No person shall display the flag of the United Nations or any other national or international flag, equal, above, or in a position of superior prominence or honor to, or in place of, the flag of the United States.

For the purposes of subsections a. through e. these flags can be flown by themselves.

You can not fly the flag of any foreign country unless you fly an American flag more prominently. Guess the First Amendment doesn't apply in Pahrump, Nevada.

Curiously, the town's official web site includes links to translate it into another language.

Pahrump was, for a period, home to the Chicken Ranch brothel after it moved from LaGrange, Texas. The Chicken Ranch now is located just outside Pahrump. The Chicken Ranch brothel was the inspiration for the 1982 movie The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, and the 1973 ZZTop song, LaGrange.

Pahrump was also recently featured on the NBC television drama Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, created by Aaron Sorkin. Guest star John Goodman played a judge who's not a fan of Studio 60. It was a two-part episode airing November 6 and 13. Those of you who saw these episodes now know why Sorkin chose Pahrump for these episodes.

Syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette Jr. sums it up:
At moments like this, I barely recognize my own country. Americans confronted slavery, the Great Depression, the Third Reich, and racial injustice here at home. Now some of us tremble at the sight of a piece of cloth. How sad. We're a bigger people than that. Even if some of us, now and then, tend to forget it.

November Morn

The first fleeting moments of this morning's sunrise, from our deck. I love this house.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Krugman on the Election

Paul Krugman has an analysis of the midterm election with which I agree:

Ever since movement conservatives took over, the Republican Party has pushed for policies that benefit a small minority of wealthy Americans at the expense of the great majority of voters. To hide this reality, conservatives have relied on wagging the dog and wedge issues, but they’ve also relied on a brilliant marketing campaign that portrays Democrats as elitists and Republicans as representatives of the average American.

This sleight of hand depends on shifting the focus from policy to personal style: John Kerry speaks French and windsurfs, so pay no attention to his plan to roll back tax cuts for the wealthy and use the proceeds to make health care affordable.

This year, however, the American people wised up.

No link because the article is behind a subscription-only firewall.

Oh, wait. There appears to be a Firewall Fairy allowing us to read the full column.

Monday, November 13, 2006

A Terrorist Among Us

From the Associated Press:

LOS ANGELES - A man suspected of mailing more than a dozen threatening letters containing white powder to Rep. Nancy Pelosi (news, bio, voting record), Jon Stewart and other high-profile figures was in custody and awaiting a court appearance.

Prosecutors were expected to file a criminal complaint against Chad Conrad Castagana, 39, in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Monday. He was arrested Saturday for allegedly conveying false information and sending threats by U.S. mail.

Preliminary tests showed the white powder was not hazardous, officials said.

The letters, which had fake return addresses, were received by Pelosi, a California Democrat who is in line to become speaker of the House; comedians Stewart and David Letterman; Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer (news, bio, voting record) of New York; and MSNBC host Keith Olberman.

Some letters, which were sent over the past three months to addresses in New York, New Jersey and San Francisco, included phrases like "Death to Demagogues" and pictures of victims of the 2004 Asian tsunami, authorities said.

Turns out the suspected terrorist reads conservative blogs:
Yes, it appears that Chad Conrad Castagana, the man "suspected of mailing more than a dozen threatening letters containing white powder to Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Jon Stewart and other high-profile figures," was a conservative and a commenter on conservative blogs.

He also appears to have been a frequenter of Right Wing sewer, The Free Republic.

I suppose those on the right won't refer to Castagana as a terrorist since he didn't send harmful white powder. After all, there are degrees of terrorism, or something.

Wonder what Vince Dave Schattenkirk (VDj) would do if he opened an envelope full of white powder? Not that I'm suggesting anyone send him talcum powder. Of course, knowing Vinnie, he'll probably send himself some harmless powder just for the attention.

Post-Election STREET TALK

We're in the process of producing a new STREET TALK wrapping up the mid-term election. Mike Smith, former news director at public radio station KSMU, is the guest. The show will debut Wednesday at 8 p.m. on Mediacom Connections, channel 14 on Mediacom cable systems in southwest Missouri. It will repeat Thursday at 10:30 p.m. and Sunday at 12:30 p.m.

A Music Post

I previously referred to my ringtone choice on my cell phone -- Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield. I've admired this masterpiece since it was released in 1973, not because of The Exorcist, but in spite of the movie. Tubular Bells is one song that fills an entire album. It is continuous. But in 1973 you couldn't fit more than just under 30 minutes on one side of a vinyl LP, and thus one song became Part I (25:36) and Part II (23:20). The CD version follows the original recording as one very long song. Perhaps the most amazing aspect of Tubular Bells is that Mike Oldfield was only 17 when he wrote it. It was also the first album released by Virgin Records.

Mike Oldfield played most of the instruments on the album, often recording them one at a time and layering the recordings to create the finished work. My favorite section comes in the last third of Part I when Vivan Stanshall (as The Narrator) introducing each instrument as it is added to the playing of a theme.

[In 2003 Oldfield released Tubular Bells 2003, a re-recording of the original Tubular Bells with updated digital technology and several "corrections" to what he saw as flaws in the first album's production. This version is notable for replacing Vivian Stanshall's narration with a newly recorded narration by John Cleese. I've not heard this version.]

Others have told me them remember seeing a performance of this portion of the album on television, with about a dozen musicians in a circle playing the various instruments. I've often hoped to come across that video somewhere. Thanks to YouTube, I've discovered it was a section of a production of all of Part I produced by the BBC in 1974.

The entire program is broken down into four parts on YouTube due to a limit of 10-minutes run time for posting a video. I've watched all four parts but would really like to see them continuously and full screen. Thus began the search for a DVD of the program.

Eventually, I determined that such a DVD does exist. Mike Oldfield - Elements contains this BBC production along with several other performace videos. It's now on my wish list.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Closure and Weirdness

Eighteen months ago I decided to look at the web site of the Des Moines Register and discovered someone I knew had been murdered. I blogged about that discovery here. The site contained a story about the murder trial beginning.

Tonight I again decided to look at the Register web site and found the outcome of that trial.

Polk County jurors deliberated for slightly less than one day before stopping at noon Thursday to pronounce Morris, a Lincoln, Neb., exotic dancer, guilty of stabbing Patrick McRae to death during a private dance in October 1999.

Morris, 30 years old and now destined to serve a life sentence with no chance of parole, sobbed quietly as she shuffled out of the courtroom Thursday.


McRae’s relatives declined to comment after the verdict.

“I think it just gives them closure,” prosecutor Steve Foritano said. “It’s been seven years of waiting and wondering and believing that everybody just forgot about Pat McRae.”

This remains a tragic story. And reading about the trial leaves me with an odd feeling, wishing I could reconnect with former co-workers to discuss what happened.

But perhaps the weirdest thing is that I somehow felt compelled to check the Register web site on the days these stories were posted. I otherwise would not have known about the murder or verdict. Now why did I check the web site these two particular days? I don't visit the site with any frequency.

I'm befuddled. And I expect to hear Rod Serling's voice any minute. Those who know me will wonder if this is why "Tubular Bells" is the ringtone on my cell phone.

Did Bush Really Say This?

"In my first act of bipartisan outreach since the election, I shared with her [Pelosi] the names of some Republican interior decorators who can help her pick out the the new drapes for her new offices."

I know he said this:

The Democrats have made a lot of predictions. Matter of fact, I think they may be measuring the drapes.

And he said this:
Asked about working with Democrats on the war, he said, "If their goal is success, we can work together. If [their] goal is to get out now, then it will be difficult to work with them.

"I look back to Truman and Eisenhower. Truman started the Cold War and Eisenhower continued it."

Dubya evidently doesn't understand that the Cold War did not involve invading and occupying a foreign nation nor result in 3,000 troop deaths, nor did Truman "start" it with fabricated "evidence."

But Dubya isn't known for thinking on his feet. Or in any other position.

Do you think he refers to Pelosi as a "little lady" in the Oval Office?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Remembering Ed Bradley

The world lost a truely humane and gentle man Thursday. I met Mr. Bradley early in my professional television career while working at the CBS affiliate in Des Moines, Iowa. Mr. Bradley was on assignment and, as was common back then, set up shop at the station to edit, voice and feed his story to the network. I don't recall what the story was about, or whether it was for "60 Minutes" or the "CBS Evening News." But I do remember Mr. Bradley.

Several network reporters, photographers, producers and editors came through the station during my years there. All were decent, but most didn't want to talk with a 20-something local newsie. Unless it was to ask directions to the bathroom. Or to demand I make coffee for them. Yes, demand. The few who did that did not ask for coffee. They demanded it and expected it yesterday. I enjoyed bringing coffee to those who didn't ask. I usually forgot to tell those who demanded when the coffee was ready.

Mr. Bradley was different. While waiting to do whatever he was going to do, he walked over to my desk and asked my name. I have no idea why. He pulled up a chair and sat down to chat with me. Wanted to know how I liked Iowa. Wanted to know things about Iowa that most people overlooked. He seemed to enjoy hearing about my growing up in a small farming community. I think that might have been because he grew up in Philadelphia.

Mr. Bradley was genuinely amazed that I'd never been to the east coast; that I'd never been east of Chicago, or west of Wyoming, or south of Missouri. He wanted to know about the college I attended and the town I in which I grew up. I remember telling him that only one black family lived in our small community and that I'd never attended school with a non-white person until I went to college.

Being star struck and young (and a bit ego-centric) I didn't ask about Mr. Bradley. I didn't even think to ask him what he thought of Iowa, or if he enjoyed traveling for CBS. I regret not asking him about his Vietnam experience.

Instead, I talked about me because this gentle, kind, curious man asked me to. And then Mr. Bradley had to go back to work, and I had to go out to shoot a fire. I didn't get to thank Mr. Bradley. I doubt he remembered me. And I'm OK with that.

But the world is short one truly decent man. And that makes me sad. Thank you, Mr. Bradley. Rest in peace.

Sick. Vile. Disgusting.

No, not the Republicans. Well, yeah, maybe some of them. No, this post is about them there "purity balls" that are all the rage in certain locales. These, you may recall, are events run by "Christian" groups where daddies take their little girls (and some not so little) to some fancy hotel for dinner and a dance, dress up in formal attire, and sign pledges. The daughter pledges to remain a virgin until marriage. That father pledges to subordinate the daughter and teach her how to be a wife.

Amanda Marcotte has posted a promotional video for one of these "purity balls."

. . .just wait until you hear the guy explain about a 17-year-old girl sitting in her dad’s lap and explaining that she doesn’t need boyfriends because she gets everything she’d need from them from Daddy.

As Ron White says, it's one of the "Things that make you go buhhhh!"

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to shower. For days. Buhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

My Dinner with Rummy

So Donald Rumsfeld is out as Secretary of Defense. Lost Chord has this exclusive interview:

LC: Is your resignation a result of the outcome of the midterm elections?

DR: Well, I think that anyone who looks at it with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight has to say that there was not an anticipation that the level of insurgency would be anything approximating what it is. The president had some concerns and I told him I welcomed the debate and to make his case. And we've ended up adjusting or changing or calibrating.

LC: What do you mean you've "adjusted or changed or calibrated?" Didn't the president ask you to resign?

DR: Well, you know, I mean it's awfully easy to be on the outside and to opine on this and opine on that and critique that. The White House is a big place. It's like any big institution. It's resistant to change. Change is hard for people, and there've been a lot of squealing and screeching and complaints as, as the change took place in this election. And I would say that it's attitude and culture as much as anything else. Change makes people feel uncomfortable. Well, it's unfortunate. But life has to go on and the things have to get done, and the American people have to be ignored.

LC: Uh, yeah. So, the president did NOT ask you to resign?

DR: He understands we're in a global war. He understands that defeat is not an option.

LC: So are you or are you not resigning?

DR: Am I tough? Yes. Am I smart? Yes. Am I fair? Yes. Am I focused? Yes. Am I--

LC: resigning?

DR: Stop. ... General, there was no verb in the last sentence.

LC: What?

DR: I would not say that the future is necessarily less predictable than the past. I think the past was not predictable when it started. Freedom's untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things.

LC: But the president announced your resignation.

DR: Needless to say, the President is correct. Whatever it was he said.

LC: So you know the president has replaced you?

DR: Don't automatically obey Presidential directives if you disagree or if you suspect he hasn't considered key aspects of the issue.

LC: Um. . .

DR: If I said yes, that would then suggest that that might be the only place where it might be done which would not be accurate, necessarily accurate. It might also not be inaccurate, but I'm disinclined to mislead anyone.

LC: Wait, I'm confused.

DR: There's another way to phrase that and that is that the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence. It is basically saying the same thing in a different way. Simply because you do not have evidence that something does exist does not mean that you have evidence that it doesn't exist.

LC: With all due respect, sir, you're not making much sense.

DR: Learn to say 'I don't know.' If used when appropriate, it will be often.

LC: OK, then. I don't know what the hell you're talking about.

DR: I don't know what the facts are but somebody's certainly going to sit down with him and find out what he knows that they may not know, and make sure he knows what they know that he may not know.

LC: Who are you talking about?

DR: I'm not into this detail stuff. I'm more concepty. I don't do quagmires. I don't do diplomacy. I don't do foreign policy. I don't do predictions. I don't do numbers. I don't do book reviews.

LC: And now you don't do Secretary of Defense.

DR: Now, settle down, settle down. Hell, I'm an old man, it's early in the morning and I'm gathering my thoughts here.

LC: May I ask about your future plans?

DR: If I know the answer I'll tell you the answer, and if I don't, I'll just respond, cleverly. I don't worry about me. I get up in the morning and my wife Joyce rolls over and says, 'Get out there and do it.'

LC: Get out where and do what?

DR: I believe what I said yesterday. I don't know what I said, but I know what I think, and, well, I assume it's what I said.

LC: Wait, you said what, when?

DR: I am not going to give you a number for it because it's not my business to do intelligent work.

LC: So where will you go when you leave Washington?

DR: In the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.

LC: So you're going to the war zone?

DR: As you know, you go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time.

LC: Sir, you said that many months ago. What does it have to do with your stepping down?

DR: Well, um, you know, something's neither good nor bad but thinking makes it so, I suppose, as Shakespeare said.

LC: Final thoughts?

DR: As we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns -- the ones we don't know we don't know.

LC: Thank you for your time, Mr. Rumsfeld.

DR: Don't do or say things you would not like to see on the front page of The Washington Post.

LC: Uh, yeah. I'll keep that in mind.

Come Again?

Girls will be boys and boys will be girls
Its a mixed up muddled up shook up world
--Recorded by "Kinks", Written by: Raymond Douglas Davies

Someone at the News-Leader may have been listening to the Kinks at work:
(click to enlarge)

The Front Page

The story page

20 YOs Banned from News-Leader?

While I applaud the Springfield News-Leader for publishing a story on Question 1 banning those under 21 from Springfield bars, effective immediately, I wonder why reporter Amos Bridges didn't interview anyone affected by the ban.

Connie Zimmerman, 52, supported the ban.

"If you are 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 years old — I don't care if you are at university — you don't need to be in an alcohol environment."

Rebecca Tidlund, a secretary at Wanda Gray Elementary, supported the ban, as well.

"I would like to keep everyone out of bars, but it is (legal for those 21 and older)," said Tidlund, 53, adding that young people need to be taught that alcohol is not necessary for entertainment. "There's a lot of ways to have fun without alcohol. You don't have to drink."

But opponents of the ban voting Tuesday worried it could have negative consequences for neighborhoods while punishing minors who patronize bars responsibly.

"I have a niece who goes into some bars with the intention of listening to bands and is happy to have her hand stamped," said Denise Schorp, a 55-year-old Springfield nurse. "I think it's a whole lot better to have them there than on a street corner."

Phelps Grove neighborhood resident Terry Rowland said he fears the ban will push students to unsupervised house parties in neighborhoods such as his own.

"I don't think the city has holistically looked at the issue of where do college students go if they don't go to bars — house parties," said Rowland, 46. "Trust me, I've lived in the neighborhood 25 years. If you can't monitor them in the bars, how do you possibly think you're going to monitor them anywhere else?"

Was it just impossible to find a 20-year-old to provide her or his reaction to this ban? Or has the News-Leader decided those under 21 will no longer be quoted in the paper?

Additionally, why is the News-Leader web site still using its "Latest Election Alerts" crawl to tell voters to expect long lines at the polls? Seems those "alerts" haven't been updated for quite some time.

Which leads me to a complaint about using this crawl at all. Cable news outlets have used the crawl since 9/11 despite research showing them to be a distraction. Some local TV news outlets use them during newscasts (which contain about 20 minutes worth of "news") even though they provide no real information. The News-Leader may be jumping on this "look at our pretty bells and whistles" fad as part of its effort to make its web site more difficult to navigate, but I hope not. A user's connection speed, processor speed, and available bandwidth will play havoc with such crawls, irritating many.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I Voted

And I got the kewl sticker. An interesting experience. My polling place is a church. I drove past the church this morning after driving my dog to daycare and my wife to work. The lawn next to the parking area was filled with a forest of political signs.

Took my wife out to lunch (learned that Ziggy's on North Glenstone is moving next door to the old Chinese buffet place) and then to vote. The signs were gone. Every one of them. Turns out that churches have the option to NOT have signs at the polling place. But they can't be selective. The church must either allow any and all signs, or none.

No wait to vote, no problem with the registration, although the poll worker needs to look at names a bit more carefully. She couldn't find mine because she didn't read it correctly and reversed the second and third letter.

Got my ballot and the worker carefully explained how to draw a line so the scanner would read it properly, and made a point of telling me the ballot was on both sides of the paper. Even flipped it over when she handed it to me so that I could see. Found an empty seat--all voting is done at a table at this precinct. Not much privacy, really. But I'm not too worried about it. Made my selections, checked to make sure I made a choice for each office and ballot issue, and took my ballot to the scanner. Slipped it in carefully, following the instructions. . .and the machine spit it back out with a loud beeping noise.

Aha! Voter fraud! For a brief moment I thought I was going to have a real story to tell. I thought I'd have proof that electronic voting machines are error-prone.

The kindly old poll worker said "wait! Don't touch it!" Looked at the print out on the machine and said that the ballot must have gone in at an angle. Sure, blame me. She told me to stay right where I was, but not to touch the ballot, and asked if I would allow her to over-ride the machine. I said yes, she pressed a button, and away went my ballot. The number changed on LED screen, so I assume my ballot was read. No way to know for certain. And that does bother me a bit.

No one else had a problem with the scanner taking their ballot, including my wife. So perhaps it was just a simple error. But if McCaskill loses by one vote, I'm demanding a recount!

Oh, and I had to write-in people for three judge-ships since no Democrats were running. This year I simply refused to vote for a Republican, even though I think some of them are doing a good job. Shocking, I know.

I think the Chatter guy, Granny Geek, and Snarling Marmot will make excellent judges.

Voting Problems Surface, GOP Continues Fraud

The Associated Press is reporting problems with electronic voting machines in several states:

In Cleveland, voters rolled their eyes as election workers fumbled with new touchscreen machines that they couldn't get to start properly until about 10 minutes after polls opened.

"We got five machines - one of them's got to work," said Willette Scullank, a trouble shooter from the Cuyahoga County, Ohio, elections board.

In Indiana's Marion County, about 175 of 914 precincts turned to paper because poll workers didn't know how to run the machines, said Marion County Clerk Doris Ann Sadler. She said it could take most of the day to fix all of the machine-related issues.

Election officials in Delaware County, Ind., extended voting hours because voters initially couldn't cast ballots in 75 precincts. County Clerk Karen Wenger said the cards that activate the push-button machines were programmed incorrectly but the problems were fixed by late morning.

Pennsylvania's Lebanon County also extended polling hours because a programming error forced some voters to cast paper ballots.

With a third of Americans voting on new equipment and voters navigating new registration databases and changing ID rules, election watchdogs worried about polling problems even before the voting began.

"This is largely what I expected," said Doug Chapin, director of, a nonpartisan group that tracks voting changes. "With as much change as we had, expecting things to go absolutely smoothly at the beginning of the day is too optimistic."

At some Broward County, Fla., precincts, electronic ballots were mixed up and, in one case, a poll worker unintentionally wiped the electronic ballot activators.

In Utah County, Utah, workers failed to properly encode some of the cards that voters use to bring up touchscreen ballots.

Rep. Harold Ford, the Democratic Senate candidate in Tennessee, claimed a polling place in Jackson shut down because its machines weren't working, but Tennessee election coordinator Brook Thompson said he knew only of typical election morning problems starting machines.

In Illinois, some voters found the new equipment cumbersome.

"People seem to be very confused about how to use the new system," said Bryan Blank, a 33-year-old librarian from Oak Park, Ill. "There was some early morning disarray."

Meanwhile, in Nebraska Republican fraudulant robo calls are using the Democratic candidate's voice to call people several times an hour in order to harass them, and tick them off against the Democratic candidate.

FCC rules require prerecorded messages to clearly state the identity of the business, individual or other entity that is responsible for initiating the call, and for that statement to be at the beginning of the message.

The Republican corruption continues. Time to toss the bastards out. If you haven't already, go vote.

Today's the Day

In case you need some extra motivation, check this out.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Republican Values

Evidently the GOP is so afraid of losing control of both the House and Senate they have decided the only way to win is to cheat. GOP personnel are calling registered Democrats and telling them their polling place has moved, and in at least one case, that they will be arrested if they show up to vote.

This is the party of "Family Values?" Are these the people YOU want in charge?

The Democrats Plan

The Democrats have a plan to bring our country back:

Honest Leadership & Open Government
We will end the Republican culture of corruption and restore a government as good as the people it serves.

Real Security & A New Direction in Iraq
We will protect Americans at home and lead the world by telling the truth to our troops, our citizens and our allies, and we will heed the advice of our commanders on the ground and force a change in the failed Republican strategy in Iraq.

Energy Independence & Lower Gas Prices
We will create a cleaner, greener and stronger America by reducing our dependence on foreign oil, eliminating billions in subsidies for oil and gas companies and developing energy alternatives.

More Jobs, Better Pay & College Access for Everyone
We will create jobs that stay in America, raise the minimum wage, and open the doors to college for every American.

Healthcare that Works for Everyone & Life-Saving Cures
We will join 36 other industrialized nations in making sure everyone has access to affordable health care, and we will make decisions to invest in stem cell and other medical research based on science, not politics.

Retirement Security
We will ensure that a retirement with dignity is the right and expectation of every single American, starting with protecting workers' pensions expanding saving incentives and preventing the privatization of social security.

If you've had enough of the lies, deceit, and corruption of the Republican-controlled House, Senate and White House, vote for change.

Republican Liars

If the Dems ever pull something like this, I'll say the same about them. The GOP evidently won't even consider running an honest race.

Sources in Bergen County are reporting that an autodial robocall is being made that starts out sounding like a positive Bob Menendez message. If you hang up, it repeatedly calls you back. If you listen all the way to the end, it finishes by saying that Menendez is an embezzler and under criminal investigation.
This is a voter suppression tactic being used nationwide by the GOP. Initially callers will think they are hearing a call from the Menendez campaign asking for support. If they hang up, it will repeatedly call them back. The intention is to annoy the voter so much that they no longer support the candidate. For those who actually listen to the entire call, they are presented with a series of lies and smears against Menendez, also with the intention of suppressing turnout. It's a win-win tactic for them.

The NRCC is doing the same exact thing in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and at least 53 other races across the country.

Republicans think you're stupid. Had enough?

Street Talk Election Special

On November 7th, Missourians will vote on four constitutional amendments, ballot issues which would make changes to the Missouri Constitution, and one proposition, which would make a change to the Missouri Statutes. Springfield voters will also consider a proposal to ban people under age 21 from bars and nightclubs.

On a special election edition of STREET TALK, we examine these six ballot issues. Our goal is to help you better understand each issue so that you may make your own decision on how to vote.

We present each proposal and the arguments of both supporters and opponents. If you're unclear about a ballot initiative, please tune in. We've tried to explain each initiative, pro arguments and con arguments in plain language.

STREET TALK will air tonight at 10:30 p.m. and Sunday at 12:30 p.m. on Mediacom cable channel 14.

UPDATE: This special edition of STREET TALK will air Friday, Nov. 3 at 10:30 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 4 at 10:30 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 5 at 9:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., and Monday, Nov. 6 at 9:30 p.m. All airings will be on Mediacom channel 14 in southwest Missouri.

Still Counting

Sunday, November 05, 2006

An Iraqi Perspective

Riverbend writes a blog from Baghdad. She lives in the midst of the war. Her analysis of today's verdict:

When All Else Fails...
… Execute the dictator. It’s that simple. When American troops are being killed by the dozen, when the country you are occupying is threatening to break up into smaller countries, when you have militias and death squads roaming the streets and you’ve put a group of Mullahs in power- execute the dictator.

Everyone expected this verdict from the very first day of the trial. There was a brief interlude when, with the first judge, it was thought that it might actually be a coherent trial where Iraqis could hear explanations and see what happened. That was soon over with the prosecution’s first false witness. Events that followed were so ridiculous; it’s difficult to believe them even now.

The sound would suddenly disappear when the defense or one of the defendants got up to speak. We would hear the witnesses but no one could see them- hidden behind a curtain, their voices were changed. People who were supposed to have been dead in the Dujail incident were found to be very alive.

Judge after judge was brought in because the ones in court were seen as too fair. They didn’t instantly condemn the defendants (even if only for the sake of the media). The piece de resistance was the final judge they brought in. His reputation vies only that of Chalabi- a well-known thief and murderer who ran away to Iran to escape not political condemnation, but his father’s wrath after he stole from the restaurant his father ran.

So we all knew the outcome upfront (Maliki was on television 24 hours before the verdict telling people not to ‘rejoice too much’). I think what surprises me right now is the utter stupidity of the current Iraqi government. The timing is ridiculous- immediately before the congressional elections? How very convenient for Bush. Iraq, today, is at its very worst since the invasion and the beginning occupation. April 2003 is looking like a honeymoon month today. Is it really the time to execute Saddam?

I’m more than a little worried. This is Bush’s final card. The elections came and went and a group of extremists and thieves were put into power (no, no- I meant in Baghdad, not Washington). The constitution which seems to have drowned in the river of Iraqi blood since its elections has been forgotten. It is only dug up when one of the Puppets wants to break apart the country. Reconstruction is an aspiration from another lifetime: I swear we no longer want buildings and bridges, security and an undivided Iraq are more than enough. Things must be deteriorating beyond imagination if Bush needs to use the ‘Execute the Dictator’ card.

Iraq has not been this bad in decades. The occupation is a failure. The various pro-American, pro-Iranian Iraqi governments are failures. The new Iraqi army is a deadly joke. Is it really time to turn Saddam into a martyr? Things are so bad that even pro-occupation Iraqis are going back on their initial ‘WE LOVE AMERICA’ frenzy. Laith Kubba (a.k.a. Mr. Catfish for his big mouth and constant look of stupidity) was recently on the BBC saying that this was just the beginning of justice, that people responsible for the taking of lives today should also be brought to justice. He seems to have forgotten he was one of the supporters of the war and occupation, and an important member of one of the murderous pro-American governments. But history shall not forget Mr. Kubba.

Iraq saw demonstrations against and for the verdict. The pro-Saddam demonstrators were attacked by the Iraqi army. This is how free our media is today: the channels that were showing the pro-Saddam demonstrations have been shut down. Iraqi security forces promptly raided them.Welcome to the new Iraq.


It’s not about the man- presidents come and go, governments come and go. It’s the frustration of feeling like the whole country and every single Iraqi inside and outside of Iraq is at the mercy of American politics. It is the rage of feeling like a mere chess piece to be moved back and forth at will. It is the aggravation of having a government so blind and uncaring about their peoples needs that they don’t even feel like it’s necessary to go through the motions or put up an act. And it's the deaths. The thousands of dead and dying, with Bush sitting there smirking and lying about progress and winning in a country where every single Iraqi outside of the Green Zone is losing.

Once again… The timing of all of this is impeccable- two days before congressional elections. And if you don’t see it, then I’m sorry, you’re stupid. Let’s see how many times Bush milks this as a ‘success’ in his coming speeches.

A final note. I just read somewhere that some of the families of dead American soldiers are visiting the Iraqi north to see ‘what their sons and daughters died for’. If that’s the goal of the visit, then, “Ladies and gentlemen- to your right is the Iraqi Ministry of Oil, to your left is the Dawry refinery… Each of you get this, a gift bag containing a 3 by 3 color poster of Al Sayid Muqtada Al Sadr (Long May He Live And Prosper), an Ayatollah Sistani t-shirt and a map of Iran, to scale, redrawn with the Islamic Republic of South Iraq. Also… Hey you! You- the female in the back- is that a lock of hair I see? Cover it up or stay home.”

And that is what they died for.
Had enough? Vote for change on Tuesday.

Papers, Please.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has proposed a system which will in essence make it mandatory for you to have permission before leaving or entering the country, effectively putting everyone on a no-fly list unless the government says otherwise.

It doesn't matter if you have a U.S. Passport - a "travel document" that now, absent a court order to the contrary, gives you a virtually unqualified right to enter or leave the United States, any time you want. When the DHS system comes into effect next January, if the agency says "no" to a clearance request, or doesn't answer the
request at all, you won't be permitted to enter-or leave-the United States.

Consider what might happen if you're a U.S. passport holder on assignment in a country like Saudi Arabia. Your visa is about to expire, so you board your flight back to the United States. But wait! You can't get on, because you don't have permission from the HSA. Saudi immigration officials are on hand to escort you to a squalid detention center, where you and others who are now effectively "stateless persons" are detained, potentially indefinitely, until their immigration status is sorted out.

Why might the HSA deny you permission to leave-or enter-the United States? No one knows, because the entire clearance procedure would be an administrative determination made secretly, with no right of appeal. Naturally, the decision would be made without a warrant, without probable cause and without even any particular degree of suspicion. Basically, if the HSA decides it doesn't like you, you're a prisoner - either outside, or inside, the United States, whether or not you hold a U.S. passport.

The U.S. Supreme Court has long recognized there is a constitutional right to travel internationally. Indeed, it has declared that the right to travel is "a virtually unconditional personal right." The United States has also signed treaties guaranteeing "freedom of travel." So if these regulations do go into effect, you can expect a lengthy court battle, both nationally and internationally.

Think this can't happen? Think again. It's ALREADY happening. Earlier this year, HSA forbade airlines from transporting an 18-year-old a native-born U.S. citizen, back to the United States. The prohibition lasted nearly six months until it was finally lifted a few weeks ago. Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union are two countries in recent history that didn't allow their citizens to travel abroad without permission.
If these regulations go into effect, you can add the United States to this list.

Under the proposed rules, orders by the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to common carriers not to transport specific persons... would be based on an undefined, secret, administrative permission-to-travel (“clearance”) procedure subject to none of the procedural or substantive due process required for orders prohibiting or restricting the exercise of protected First Amendment rights.

Best Line of the Month

From Blue Girl, Red State (let's hope she has to change the name come Tuesday):

And having your head chopped off is just a quick way to drop eleven pounds.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

17 Months & Counting

Dick Cheney has a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

You can stop this insanity on Tuesday, November 7th.

Friday, November 03, 2006

...and counting

Vote November 7th

From Media Matters:

While expressing his support for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld during a November 1 interview on CNN's The Situation Room, House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) told host Wolf Blitzer: "[L]et's not blame what's happening in Iraq on Rumsfeld" because "the fact is, the generals on the ground are in charge." Shortly thereafter, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (NV) issued a statement demanding an apology from Boehner for "blaming our troops for failures in Iraq," rather than casting blame on "the Bush Administration's failed policy" and the Republican leadership that "have rubberstamped" it. On the November 2 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Boehner refused to apologize, stating, "[N]ice try, Harry."

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

October Surprise

(click on image to enlarge)

The U.S. military is announcing another U.S. death in Iraq, bringing the October total to 101. In a brief statement, the military says the latest casualty was a member of a police brigade who was killed by small arms fire Monday in eastern Baghdad.

Earlier, it said a Marine died from injuries sustained during combat Sunday west of Baghdad.

The U.S. is now six deaths away from seeing October tie for the third deadliest month there since the war began in 2003.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Stop the Madness

Be sure to vote, Tuesday, November 7th. Support the troops. Bring them home alive.

Supporting the Troops

Read enough right-wing blog and forum posts and you'll come away with the notion that Republicans support our troops while Democrats do not. That's bunk. Most people in the military believe it. Most Republicans believe it. Many moderates believe it and even a few Democrats believe it. But there is absolutely no way it is true. In the reality-based community, Democrats support the troops significantly more than Republicans do.

Republicans favor a war that does absolutely nothing to protect America, have no real plan for how to win that war, lied about the reasons for that war and have undercut the troops in combat by not putting enough troops on the ground to handle the job and poorly equipping those they did put in and by cutting benefits for soldiers during wartime. Republicans have controlled Congress and the White House during this entire debacle. Republicans alone are responsible.

And fortunately, the troops are figuring out which party really supports them. A group called Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America has graded all of the members of Congress. How do the grades come out? Quite clear:

In the Senate, every single Democrat scores higher than every single Republican. The lowest grade for any Democrat is a B-. The highest grade for any Republican is a C. Only five Republicans even get a C- or higher. Conservative Republicans get no grade better than a D+.

In the House, the pattern is not quite as definative, but it is still overwhelming. Everyone with a grade of B+ or higher is a Democrat (or Socialist). Everyone with a grade of D or lower is a Republican. There are a few Republicans that make it into the B range (although again, no conservatives) and a few Democrats who make it into the D range. The average grade for Democrats is B+, compared to a C average for Republicans.

As for Missouri, 100% of Democrats score better than 100% of Republicans:

Rep. Russ Carnahan A-
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver A-
Rep. Ike Skelton A-
Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay B+

Rep. Jo Ann H. Emerson C+
Rep. Todd Akin C
Rep. Roy Blunt C
Rep. Sam Graves C
Rep. Kenny C. Hulshof C
Sen. Jim Talent D+
Sen. Christopher S. Bond D

For a colorful breakdown, go visit Sinfonian.

In addition to the many veterans running for office as Democrats and the IAVA people, a growing number of generals and active soldiers are speaking out against the failed Republican policies regarding the military.

If you REALLY support the troops, vote Democratic.

Stop This BS

I'm very weary of the media machine's obsession with Michael J. Fox vs. Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh could have easily disagreed with Fox's point of view and addressed that. Instead, he chose to mock someone with Parkinson's Disease and accuse Fox of either being off his meds or acting. In other words, Limbaugh did not attack the message. He attacked the messenger. And Limbaugh has received some deserved grief for it. But this should not continue to be a story of any importance. And that it is demonstrates what's clearly wrong with television news operations.

Exhibit A: Washington Week (PBS) which this week included a segment on "attack ads" run during the midterm election cycle. Right up top they include the ad Michael J. Fox did for Claire McCaskill, which Washington Week labelled an attack ad. Here's digby:

Did you see the Fox ad as an attack ad? Did he disparage Talent's character or imply that he was a bad person? Was he appealing to peoples baser nature by playing to their prejudices? Or, as the nation's premiere advocate for Parkinson's disease, did he just ask people to vote for Claire McCaskill because she supported stem cell research and Talent didn't --- a straighforward, endorsement based upon a single issue. I don't see any attack in it at all.

Do people now view all political ads as "attack ads?" Or is it merely that some people
...think it's hitting below the belt for a disabled person to appear in an advertisement --- just as Rush does. They obviously think it's manipulative and wrong to show the actual results of an illness for which you are advocating. After all, somebody might be having dinner and they don't want to have to look at that icky sick stuff that makes them feel all guilty and uncomfortable. Therefore, tt's an attack if someone endorses a particular candidate and he isn't "normal."

Damn it, people, disagree with Fox's opinion. Disagree with his reasons for voting for McCaskill. Disagree with his views on stem cell research. But stop saying he attacked Jim Talent.

And more importantly, stop accusing Fox of "faking" his symptoms.

Exhibit B: Katie Couric's interview with Fox (CBS). Strannix says Couric did a good job.
If you've not had to opportunity to see it, you should check out the excellent (yes, believe it or not, she did a good job) interview that Michael J. Fox did with Katie Couric on the CBS Evening News last night. Seeing him in this condition, for a hell of a lot longer than 30 seconds, easily puts lie to previous statements by Rush Limbaugh (not that that is a difficult feat, mind you).

The portion aired on CBS was good. But if you watch the whole interview you will see Couric push Fox over and over again on "the burning question" of whether he manipulated his medication and ask him whether he should have re-scheduled the shoot when his symptoms were manifested as they were. The whole time she's sitting directly across from him watching him shake like crazy. "Gee. Michael, are you sure you're not faking?"

Do you think the news professionals at CBS ever thought about interviewing a medical expert to determine if there was any basis to Limbaugh's original claim, that Fox was manipulating his symptoms? Someone like William J. Weiner M.D., professor and chairman of the department of neurology and director of the Parkinson's clinic at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
What you are seeing on the video is side effects of the medication. He has to take that medication to sit there and talk to you like that. … He’s not over-dramatizing. … [Limbaugh] is revealing his ignorance of Parkinson’s disease, because people with Parkinson’s don’t look like that at all when they’re not taking their medication. They look stiff, and frozen, and don’t move at all. … People with Parkinson’s, when they’ve had the disease for awhile, are in this bind, where if they don’t take any medication, they can be stiff and hardly able to talk. And if they do take their medication, so they can talk, they get all of this movement, like what you see in the ad.

News professionals use to believe in fact-checking. Anymore, not so much.

Michael J. Fox showed himself to be an articulate and courageous guy, and a class act. He might have asked Couric, if Bush and the Republicans were suppressing research into a cure for colon cancer, would her campaigns to enlighten the public about the disease be manipulative? Would it be fair to say, then, that she was exaggerating the ravages of the disease to score points? But he didn't. I admire him for that.

To me the very worst of this interview was when Couric said she contacted Limbaugh "because I wanted to be fair to his point of view...." She feels the need to be fair to the man who revealed complete ignorance about the role of medications for someone with Parkinson's? Why? And why not show fairness to Fox by not continually asking if he's faking his symptoms?

In fact, why not just let go of the non-story? Used to be highly paid TV anchors pushed senior government officials over and over again on the burning qustions. For Bush and his appointees, it's one quick diffident inquiry, then instant acceptance of whatever answer they give the first time.

If anyone truly doubts Fox was NOT acting, check out this interview from Good Morning America, which aired in July.

But please, stop the BS about Fox manipulating his symptoms to attack Jim Talent. It simply isn't true and it is beneath you to believe so.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Excellent Explanation of Amendment 2

Blue Girl, Red State provides the best explanation of what Amendment 2 (the Stem Cell Initiative) says and does, and doesn't say or do, that I've read anywhere. No hysterics about human cloning, no unfounded claims of certain miracle cures. Just the process and promise explained in laymen's terms.

First lets clear up a huge misconception. Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT) is technically "cloning" - up to a point. In the sense that cloning means replication. But it stops there.

The amendment specifically outlaws human cloning. When the opposition says it legitimizes cloning, they are disingenuous at best, and more likely they are flat-out, intentionally, being dishonest.

In SCNT, eggs are extracted and the nucleus is removed from the egg with a very tiny glass pipette. The same procedure is used to remove the nucleus of a host cell, and the nucleus is injected into the vacated egg cell. If we say just the right magic words in the perfect pitch and cadence, this cell will begin to replicate. At five days, we have a blastocyst of stem cells, and we can harvest those undiferentiated cells. Remember that word. It is going to be revisited a bit down the page.


If Amendment 2 is not passed, members of the Missouri legislature would be able to outlaw therapies that are developed that use embryonic stem cells. Those with private insurance or resources could gain treatment out of state, such as Massachusettes or California. Those who are reliant on Missouri Medicaid (a high percentage of disabled and diabetic patients) will be out of luck. The state won't pay for the treatment. So the bottom line is the state legislature could pass laws that prohibited low income people from accessing cures available to those who are better off.

I don't believe that the opponents are intentionally discriminating against these future patients. I don’t think they have even thought about them, but they should. Especially since they are not only picking up the tab for long-term treatment, they are consciously denying them any hope for a cure, possibly without even realizing it.


Embryonic stem cells are undifferentiated. In other words, they can become anything. Let's say that you or someone you love has diabetes and is facing a future of insulin dependence that will lose effectiveness and it will lead to amputation, organ failure and death. Embryonic stem cells can, in theory, be used to grow healthy cells for implantation into your pancreas. The idea is that healthy cells can be introduced and will replicate to replace the unhealthy ones. This is the only hope that currently exists for a cure for diabetes and many other diseases, as well as spinal cord injuries.

I'm diabetic. I have Type 2 Diabetes. I'm insulin-dependent and am supposed to inject one type of insulin twice daily, and a short-acting type of insulin before every meal. I also take pills twice daily for my diabetes. So yes, I have a very personal interest in Amendment 2. I don't want to lose my eyes (absolutely necessary for the work I do) nor my feet or legs.

My father has Parkinson's. I've watched his decline. The last time I saw him I told my mother I thought his trembling wasn't as bad. Now I know, that means the disease is worse, not better.

I'm happy to agree to disagree on many ballot initiatives and many candidates. Amendment 2 is NOT one of those. Voting against Amendment 2 is, essentially, voting for death for some people. Please. Carefully consider your vote. Read the text of Amendment 2. It is NOT about cloning humans. That is specifically prohibited by the Amendment.

Monday, October 23, 2006

A(u)nti Norma Hates Kittens & Puppies

Norma Champion is so tight-lipped, she won't even tell her constituents her views on animal welfare. Missouri has an abundance of puppy-mills and an overpopulation of unwanted cats and dogs. Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation, "a non-profit organization working to bring positive change for animals through legislative means," sent a survey to all 2006 legislative candidates. Norma Champion refused to respond. Evidently, Norma Champion hates kitten and puppies.

Doug Harpool did respond. Once again, Harpool shares his views with voters while Norma Champion remains silent.

Let's send A(u)nti Norma to Evangel full time.

Kevin Tillman's Letter

This open letter from Kevin Tillman has been posted at Blue Girl, Red State, Heartland Diary of Betty B., and Welcome to the Revolution, among others. As Blue Girl notes, it sounds like Kevin Tillman wants every blog in America to run the full text. The letter clearly demonstrates Keven's had enough and will vote Democratic. It also lays out one of the best arguments I've read of the importance of congressional oversight.

It is Pat’s birthday on November 6, and elections are the day after. It gets me thinking about a conversation I had with Pat before we joined the military. He spoke about the risks with signing the papers. How once we committed, we were at the mercy of the American leadership and the American people. How we could be thrown in a direction not of our volition. How fighting as a soldier would leave us without a voice… until we got out.

Much has happened since we handed over our voice: Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored terrorists, or was involved in the September 11 attacks, or received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we needed to establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created that can’t be called a civil war even though it is. Something like that.

Somehow our elected leaders were subverting international law and humanity by setting up secret prisons around the world, secretly kidnapping people, secretly holding them indefinitely, secretly not charging them with anything, secretly torturing them.

Somehow that overt policy of torture became the fault of a few “bad apples” in the military.

Somehow back at home, support for the soldiers meant having a five-year-old kindergartener scribble a picture with crayons and send it overseas, or slapping stickers on cars, or lobbying Congress for an extra pad in a helmet. It’s interesting that a soldier on his third or fourth tour should care about a drawing from a five-year-old; or a faded sticker on a car as his friends die around him; or an extra pad in a helmet, as if it will protect him when an IED throws his vehicle 50 feet into the air as his body comes apart and his skin melts to the seat.

Somehow the more soldiers that die, the more legitimate the illegal invasion becomes.

Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground.

Somehow those afraid to fight an illegal invasion decades ago are allowed to send soldiers to die for an illegal invasion they started.

Somehow faking character, virtue and strength is tolerated.

Somehow profiting from tragedy and horror is tolerated.

Somehow the death of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people is tolerated.

Somehow subversion of the Bill of Rights and The Constitution is tolerated.

Somehow suspension of Habeas Corpus is supposed to keep this country safe.

Somehow torture is tolerated.

Somehow lying is tolerated.

Somehow reason is being discarded for faith, dogma, and nonsense.

Somehow American leadership managed to create a more dangerous world.

Somehow a narrative is more important than reality.

Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.

Somehow the most reasonable, trusted and respected country in the world has become one of the most irrational, belligerent, feared, and distrusted countries in the world.

Somehow being politically informed, diligent, and skeptical has been replaced by apathy through active ignorance.

Somehow the same incompetent, narcissistic, virtueless, vacuous, malicious criminals are still in charge of this country.

Somehow this is tolerated.

Somehow nobody is accountable for this.

In a democracy, the policy of the leaders is the policy of the people. So don’t be shocked when our grandkids bury much of this generation as traitors to the nation, to the world and to humanity. Most likely, they will come to know that “somehow” was nurtured by fear, insecurity and indifference, leaving the country vulnerable to unchecked, unchallenged parasites.

Luckily this country is still a democracy. People still have a voice. People still can take action.

It can start after Pat’s birthday.

Brother and Friend of Pat Tillman,
Kevin Tillman

Had Enough? Vote Democratic.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

What Is Norma Champion Hiding?

Norma Champion, the incumbant senator for Missouri's 30th district, refuses to debate Democratic challenger Doug Harpool. She told the Springfield News-Leader editorial board, "I didn't see any advantage to a debate for me." That's an odd position for someeone who spent many years on a puppet show, claims to be a leader in the state legislature, has a Ph.D. in communication, and teaches communication courses at a religious college. What's Norma hiding?

Norma won't tell anyone her position on issues
Norma repeatedly refuses to provide any responses to citizens on issues through the 2006 National Political Awareness Test. Norma's been asked to do so by:
+ John McCain, Republican Senator
+ Geraldine Ferraro, Former Democratic Congresswoman
+ Michael Dukakis, Former Democratic Governor
+ Bill Frenzel, Former Republican Congressman
+ Richard Kimball, Project Vote Smart President

Norma is Anti-Civil Rights
She has never supported the interests of Personal Rights of Missourians (PROMO), Missouri’s statewide organization advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality through legislative action, electoral politics, grassroots organizing, and community education.

Norma is Anti-Labor and Anti-Union
She supported the interests of the Missouri AFL-CIO only 50 percent of the time.

Norma is Anti-Choice
Based on voting records and candidate questionnaires, NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri considers the position of Senator Champion to be Anti-Choice.

Norma is Anti-Environment
She voted NO on legislation that requires the Department of Natural Resources to adopt a rule imposing specific requirements on retail providers of electrical energy regarding amount of electricity generated from renewable energy technologies. The bill specifies that the rule provide that electricity from renewable technologies constitute no less that one percent of retail sales in 2009, three percent by 2013, six percent by 2017, and ten percent by 2021.

Norma is Anti-Voter, Anti-Constitution
She voted YES on legislation that requires a form of non-expired, government-issued photo identification to vote (Voter ID). The legislation eliminates the straight-party vote option.

Norma is Pro-Lobbyist, Pro-Special Interest, Anti-Citizen
She voted YES on legislation that removes maximum contribution limits for most state offices.

Norma doesn't want citizens to determine her salary
She voted NO on a joint resolution proposing a constitutional amendment that establishes the Missouri Citizens’ Commission on Compensation for Public Officials to determine salary amounts for all state officials and prohibits all officials convicted of a felony or removed from office from receiving a state pension.

Perhaps this is why Norma won't debate Doug Harpool. And while she may not want to tell voters her position on anything, Norma's voting record speaks volumes.

What is Norma hiding?

A Simple Question

Rep. Geogg DavisThis is Rep. Geoff Davis (R-KY), a member of the party which claims to be the one grasping the importance of the Iraq war. At a debate on Thursday, October 18 at Northern Kentucky University, Rep. Davis was asked how many U.S. soldiers had died in Iraq this month.

Davis replied: "I believe it is 17."

The U.S. combat death toll in October alone stood at 75 - likely to be the highest for any month in nearly two years.

Dick CheneyDo you think this man knows how many U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq this month?

George W. BushHow about this man?

Jim TalentThis is Sen. Jim Talent (R-MO). Do you think he knows how many U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq this month?

Sgt. Lawrence ParrishDo you think he knows about this man? This is Sgt. Lawrence L. Parrish, a soldier who grew up in Versailles, Missouri and whose family recently moved to Lebanon, Missouri.

Sgt. Parrish died from injuries suffered when he encountered an improvised explosive device on October 7 in Iraq. He was 36-years-old. He is survived by his wife, Sarah, and five children, Katheryn, Constance, Jacqueline, Hayden and Gracelynn.

Talent and BushDo you think these men know Sgt. Parrish died in Iraq this month?

President Bush has begun saying this traumatic period in Iraq will be seen as "just a comma" in the history books.

Is Sgt. Parrish "just a comma?" Is his widow? His five children?

Had Enough?

Friday, October 20, 2006

Hannity Orders Dems to Stay Home

Nationally syndicated radio and Faux News chickenhawk Sean Hannity has ordered Democrats to "stay home on Election Day," adding that, "your vote doesn't matter anyway." Hannity says Democrats should not turn out to vote "for the sake of the nation" because Democrats' votes "won't change who occupies the White House."

Unless, of course, Bush is impeached by a Democratically-controlled Congress. Republicans are running scared. Chickenhawk Hannity should go back to peeing his pants while hiding under his bed.

Mark Your Calendar

December 2, 2006: the date at which our invasion and occupation of Iraq will have equaled the calendar length of our entire activity in World War II, beginning with the attack on Pearl Harbor and ending with the day Japan signed its unconditional surrender.

How many more American soldiers will die between now and then?

Damn the Constitution! Full Speed Ahead!

Just keep shredding that Constitution. It continues to be overruled by our little dictator. Your Congress voted to give King George President Bush control over the National Guard whenever he desires it. Major Danby explains:

The Fiscal Year 2007 Defense Authorization Bill was envisioned as a bill that would strengthen the National Guard. With a sick sense of irony, the Bush Administration gutted this provision and replaced it with a "body snatcher" provision that represented "a sizable step toward weakening states' authority over their Guard units." The provision "mak[es] it easier for the President to declare martial law, stripping state governors of part of their authority over state National Guard units in domestic emergencies."

Here's an explanation for what this law does; the citation for which I'm omitting:
When the President invokes section 333 of chapter 15, he may involuntarily call to active duty members of the reserve components (not more than 200,000 Select Reserve and Individual Ready Reserve, of whom not more than 30,000 may be Individual Ready Reserve) for up to 365 days to conduct law enforcement activities in a disaster, accident, or catastrophe area and, if such incident involves a terrorist or WMD threat or attack, other response activities. In addition, the President may involuntarily call to active duty members of the reserve components to provide supplies, services, and equipment to persons affected by the disaster, accident, or catastrophe. As soon as practicable after invoking section 333 of chapter 15, the President must notify Congress of his determination to exercise this authority. However, within 24 hours of involuntarily calling to active duty members of the reserve components, the President must submit to Congress a report, in writing, setting forth the circumstances necessitating this action and describing the anticipated use of these members.

So now the President can send troops from Tennessee to quash what he deems a threat to civil order in Oregon, even if the governors of Tennessee and Oregon both object.

This, by the way, is how the Chinese - whose approach to government and party building Bush seems so much to admire - broke up the protests in Tienanmen Square. They brought in troops from the provinces who knew nothing about what the protest was about, but knew that if they were ordered to shoot, they had to shoot.

Such small changes to the law. Such a huge result. Imposition of federal martial law, using state troops, over the objection of the states.

Go read the whole thing. More of YOUR rights being usurped by Republicans who control Congress and the White House.

Had enough? Vote Democratic.

Votes Have Consequences

Anyone who voted for (or votes for) Jim Talent, Roy Blunt, George W. Bush, and/or Kit Bond has voted to eliminate their, my and our constitutional rights. These four favor the Military Commissions Act of 2006 which grants dictatorial power to King George President Bush. Anyone who disputes that need only read this:

Moving quickly to implement the bill signed by President Bush this week that authorizes military trials of enemy combatants, the administration has formally notified the U.S. District Court here that it no longer has jurisdiction to consider hundreds of habeas corpus petitions filed by inmates at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.

In a notice dated Wednesday, the Justice Department listed 196 pending habeas cases, some of which cover groups of detainees. The new Military Commissions Act (MCA), it said, provides that "no court, justice, or judge" can consider those petitions or other actions related to treatment or imprisonment filed by anyone designated as an enemy combatant, now or in the future.

Immediately after Bush signed the act into law Tuesday, the Justice Department sent a letter to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit asserting the new authorities and informing the court that it no longer had jurisdiction over a combined habeas case that had been under consideration since 2004. The U.S. District Court cases, which had been stayed pending the appeals court decision, were similarly invalid, the administration informed that court on Wednesday.

The administration's persistence on the issue "demonstrates how difficult it is for the courts to enforce in the face of a resolute executive branch that is bound and determined to resist it," said Joseph Margulies, a Northwestern University law professor involved in the detainee cases.

Some Democrats sold out for political expediency and voted for this atrocity. Shame on them. And shame on all of you who are not outraged at this shredding of the U.S. Constitution. Our republic is on life-support. Welcome to the dictatorship. See you in the gulag.

Had enough? Vote Democratic.

poster by Austin Cline