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."