Tuesday, November 30

#@%& Blogger

The publisher for this and other blogs (Atrios among them) has broken down for the quizillionth time this month. I had many more stories to share with y'all - did you believe I wanted the Jeopardy story to remain in the top slot all day? - but the system isn't allowing it. Hopefully, we'll move this popstand to a reliable server. We're open to suggestions.

Thanks for your patience.

From the Pen of: Tom Toles

America Must Now Reluctantly Move On

LINK - Nancy Zerg smiles during an interview in New York, Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2004. Zerg, a realtor from Ventura, Calif., finally defeated Ken Jennings, a software engineer from Salt Lake City, Utah, the record holder for most money ever won on a television game show with 74 consecutive wins on 'Jeopardy!.' Jennings won $2,520,700. His final show airs Tuesday night.

Rummy Is Served

Wow. The scales of justice are finally beginning to tip...
Rumsfeld Sued for Alleged War Crimes

Alleging responsibility for war crimes and torture at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison, a human rights group has filed a criminal complaint in Germany against US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other top US officials.

The New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and Berlin's Republican Lawyers' Association said they and five Iraqi citizens mistreated by US soldiers were seeking a probe by German federal prosecutors of leading US policymakers.

They said they had chosen Germany because of its Code of Crimes Against International Law, introduced in 2002, which grants German courts universal jurisdiction in cases involving war crimes or crimes against humanity.

It also makes military or civilian commanders who fail to prevent their subordinates from committing such acts liable.

Recommended Bookmark

If you've never read Katrina vanden Heuvel's Republican Dictionary yet, do so.

Flashback: November, 2000

I used to write for someone else, and found those writings deep in my hard drive. Here are a few excerpts from a slightly more innocent time...
Man, I Just Voted Four Years Ago

(11/3/2000 - Four days before the election) ...Turns out those damned Democrats and liberals played dirty pool and found out that George W. Bush was once arrested for...DRIVING DRUNK. And this after the damned Democrats and liberals got Bush arrested twice before for stealing from a hotel room and fighting at a football game.

Hey. Wait a minute. I thought we Democrats and liberals were the victims, according to the Rush Limbaugh rhetoric we've been subjected to for the last decade. Seems that Dubya is now a victim of dirty politics. He couldn't possibly be responsible for those "indiscretions" could he? Especially since those indiscretions were kept neatly tucked away until days before the election. Oops.

Bush is saying that the timing is suspicious - that it's all political maneuvering. Imagine that.

Look in the mirror, George. You'll see the same thing Gore, Nader, Buchanan and every other person who runs for office sees: A POLITICIAN.

Surprise! You're in politics, W. The very word 'politics' practically means 'playing dirty.' Why is this such a shocker to the recipients of political games?

It was politics that made Clinton's pants-dropping a national emergency. The main difference between Dubya and Clinton was, when Clinton performed HIS indiscretion, there was nobody in his way that he could swerve into and kill with his pickup truck.

I come from a long line of Democrats. Our family always felt that the Democrats generally gave the regular guy a fair shake. And we always embraced the idea of helping others less fortunate than ourselves before that notion was called "big government" and "taxing and spending." Yeah, we have bigger problems today that we need to take care of, but I'm still for taking care of our own and I'm willing to kick in a few more dollars to help out.

So you'll understand why Bush lost me 'way back when he declared himself a "compassionate conservative." If you have to differentiate yourself from other conservatives by declaring your compassion, then you're admitting there's a teensy little policy problem with your faction. Thanks for letting me know I was on the correct side of the issues all along.
I'll toss up more gems from my past as I find 'em. It demonstrates how I've evolved into the angry old jerk screaming to himself in the park I am today.

Trippi: Saving the Democrats from Themselves

I've avoided all the things I've read on what the Democrats did wrong, how we coulda done this and coulda done that, and all the whiny post-mortem stuff which makes me cringe.

But Joe Trippi has written a column in the Wall Street Journal (and republished at his own site) which resonates with me. Democrats - to thine own self, be true. Excerpts:

...the problem for Democrats is not Mr. Rove; it is that they're doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. That's the definition of insanity.

Since the Democratic Leadership Council, with its mantra of "moderate, moderate, moderate," took hold in Washington, the Democratic Party has been in decline at just about every level of government. Forget the Kerry loss.

Today the number of Democrats in the House is the lowest it's been since 1928. Democrats are on the brink of becoming a permanent minority party. Can the oldest democratic institution on earth wake from its stupor? Here are some steps to pull out of the nose-dive:

* Democrats can't keep ignoring their base. Running to the middle and then asking our base at the end of the campaign to make sure to vote is not a plan. It sure hasn't worked. And to those who say talking to your base doesn't work-Read the Rove 2004 playbook!

* Democrats must reconnect with the energy of our grass roots...We must build a base of at least seven million small donors by 2006. With the Internet it's possible. But it can't just be about the money, it also has to be about ideas.

* Instead of a DLC in Washington, Democrats should be holding Democratic Grassroots Councils in every county. Democratic National Committee members in each state, along with the state party, should host and moderate these meetings to help develop ideas that come from the people, instead of the experts in Washington.

* A party that ignores the needs of state and local parties is doomed. We must begin to invest aggressively in states we continually write off in national elections.

* In a world in which companies like Wal-Mart pay substandard wages with no real benefits, our party has got to find innovative ways to support organized labor's growth.

* The Democratic Party has to be the vehicle that empowers the American people to change our failed political system. We all know the damn thing is broken. Democrats should lead the way by placing stricter money restrictions on candidates than the toothless Federal Election Commission does.

* Finally, What is the purpose the Democratic Party strives for today? What are our goals for the nation? You couldn't tell from the 2004 election. The fact is, very few good ideas come from the middle. Ideas in the middle tend to be mediocre...the time has come to develop bold ideas and to challenge people to sacrifice for the common good. Experts will tell you that you can't ask the American people to sacrifice individually for the common good. Those experts are wrong - it's just been so long since anyone has asked them.

Monday, November 29

Bird Flu May Reach Pandemic

Thank God our country has plenty of flu shots to go around. Oh. Wait a minute...
WHO says bird flu pandemic could kill millions

The regional director of the World Health Organization's Western Pacific Regional Office says the bird flu virus is proving far more lethal than the SARS virus that struck Asia and other parts of the world last year.

Last week, the WHO estimated that the bird flu virus, called H5N1, could infect up to 30 per cent of the world's population. The organization also predicted it could kill up to seven million people.

But WHO regional director Shigeru Omi now says that estimate is conservative and it is more likely up to 50 million people could die if the bird flu becomes a pandemic.

Thirteen Asian countries have promised to co-operate by sharing information and research work in an attempt to ward off the growing threat of an avian flu pandemic.

HELD OVER - Pentagon to Bush: Stop the Cowboy Act NOW

It appears that our military is telling President Crackhead to stop the shoot-'em-up cowboy mentality and to refrain from saying the terrorists hate our freedom.

According to the Pentagon, Bush has simply been putting our country in danger with his rhetoric and his sabre-rattling.

We turn to page 39 of the Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Strategic Communication, released ever-so-quietly by the Pentagon on the night before Thanksgiving. I boldened the highlights if you're pressed for time. Believe me, you'll still absorb more from it than Bush will.
2.3 What is the Problem? Who Are We Dealing With?

The information campaign - or as some still would have it, "the war of ideas," or the struggle for "hearts and minds" - is important to every war effort. In this war it is an essential objective, because the larger goals of U.S. strategy depend on separating the vast majority of non-violent Muslims from the radical-militant Islamist-Jihadists. But American efforts have not only failed in this respect: they may also have achieved the opposite of what they intended.

American direct intervention in the Muslim World has paradoxically elevated the stature of and support for radical Islamists, while diminishing support for the United States to single-digits in some Arab societies.
* Muslims do not "hate our freedom," but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the longstanding, even increasing support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, and the Gulf states.

* Thus when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy. Moreover, saying that "freedom is the future of the Middle East" is seen as patronizing, suggesting that Arabs are like the enslaved peoples of the old Communist World - but Muslims do not feel this way: they feel oppressed, but not enslaved.

* Furthermore, in the eyes of Muslims, American occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq has not led to democracy there, but only more chaos and suffering. U.S. actions appear in contrast to be motivated by ulterior motives, and deliberately controlled in order to best serve American national interests at the expense of truly Muslim self-determination.

* Therefore, the dramatic narrative since 9/11 has essentially borne out the entire radical Islamist bill of particulars. American actions and the flow of events have elevated the authority of the Jihadi insurgents and tended to ratify their legitimacy among Muslims. Fighting groups portray themselves as the true defenders of an Ummah (the entire Muslim community) invaded and under attack - to broad public support.

* What was a marginal network is now an Ummah-wide movement of fighting groups. Not only has there been a proliferation of "terrorist" groups: the unifying context of a shared cause creates a sense of affiliation across the many cultural and sectarian boundaries that divide Islam.

* Finally, Muslims see Americans as strangely narcissistic - namely, that the war is all about us. As the Muslims see it, everything about the war is - for Americans - really no more than an extension of American domestic politics and its great game. This perception is of course necessarily heightened by election-year atmospherics, but nonetheless sustains their impression that when Americans talk to Muslims they are really just talking to themselves.
Thus the critical problem in American public diplomacy directed toward the Muslim World is not one of "dissemination of information," or even one of crafting and delivering the "right" message. Rather, it is a fundamental problem of credibility. Simply, there is none - the United States today is without a working channel of communication to the world of Muslims and of Islam. Inevitably therefore, whatever Americans do and say only serves the party that has both the message and the "loud and clear" channel: the enemy.
If the fact that this came from the military - and not some senior fellow at the Such-And-Such Institute - doesn't send a chill down your spine, you shouldn't be allowed to ever vote again. You can read the entire report here in a .pdf file. Be warned - it takes a while to download, so be patient.

The Keith Olbermann Update

Today, along with a great essay about Dick Ebersol, Keith updates us on the Ohio voting situation. Is Kerry still alive?
LINK - You don't have to have seen the entirety of the original movie "Frankenstein" to remember the over-the-top scene in which Colin Clive as the doctor recognizes the first twitching of his creation, and begins to rapturously repeat that line: It's Alive!

It is ungenerous, but not together inaccurate, to point out that Frankenstein's Monster's head was shaped not unlike that of John Kerry's. So, after the weekend's developments in Ohio one can almost see Colin Clive hovering over the recumbent Democrat nominee and repeating his two-word claim to fame.

"John Kerry supports a full investigation" of the voting irregularities in Ohio, the Rev. Jesse Jackson told reporters Saturday before he began two days of rallies in the state to push for an investigation - and a recount. "I talked with John Kerry last night (Friday), and he supports the investigation," The Chicago Sun-Times further quoted Jackson. "His lawyers are observing it closely."

Well, evidently Rev. Jackson can observe the body twitching even if the rest of us are still where we were when Senator Kerry made his direct-to-video, M.C. Escher drawing of a statement: "regardless of the outcome of this election." We're scratching our heads with one hand, and wanting to use the other to poke the tall, supine creature with a stick to see if it really is alive.

Several reporters on Saturday's conference call asked about the event that ensured the mainstream media silence that has been roundly mistaken as a "lock-down": Senator Kerry's concession speech on November 3rd.

"Kerry was inclined to believe what he was told," begins Jackson's quote in The Cincinnati Enquirer, "and he was told the election was over. But now we're unearthing information that did not surface at first. I suppose the more information Kerry gets, the more you will hear from him."

Send us a postcard, Senator.

And lastly, though he legally has until December 6 to certify the Ohio vote, Cincinnati television station WCPO reported Sunday that Blackwell is in fact expected to do so on Wednesday of this week.

Sunday, November 28

Just Don't Call Us "Victims"

Mel Gilles makes a great parallel at Matthew Gross' blog. But this essay can easily be twisted around as a big "Oh Boo Hoo Hoo" for us. Still, it's worth a read.
Hear the cacophony of voices, crying out, "Why did they beat me?"

And then ask anyone who has ever worked in a domestic violence shelter if they have heard this before.

They will tell you, every single day.

The answer is quite simple. They beat us because they are abusers. We can call it hate. We can call it fear. We can say it is unfair. But we are looped into the cycle of violence, and we need to start calling the dominating side what they are: abusive. And we need to recognize that we are the victims of verbal, mental, and even, in the case of Iraq, physical violence.

As victims we can't stop asking ourselves what we did wrong. We can't seem to grasp that they will keep hitting us and beating us as long as we keep sticking around and asking ourselves what we are doing to deserve the beating.

God Grant Me the Serenity to Not Kick These People's Teeth In

Here we are, folks - the people who swept the little crackhead back into the White House are beginning to make their demands. And the demands are frightening. And will Bush reciprocate? My answer below.
Evangelicals to Bush: Payback Time

Among some conservative Christians, there is a belief that President Bush received a "moral mandate" to win the recent presidential election — and they are calling on him act on their agenda now.

"I believe Our Lord elected our president and I believe he put him in office and it is my prayer that he will sustain him in office," said one woman at the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Another was asked if she believed that God intervened in the election. "Absolutely," she said.

"Values" voters delivered for the president, and the president must now deliver for them - especially in the courts, said Gary Cass, head of a grassroots political organization affiliated with Coral Ridge, called the Center for Reclaiming America.

"It's about the next 40 years and how the courts are going to affect the world in which my children and grandchildren are going to be raised in," he said.

Cass wants a U.S. Supreme Court that will outlaw abortion and gay marriage. "Do you want to take your children to a National League baseball game for instance and have homosexuals showing affection to one another? I don't want my kids to see that," he said.

Dr. James Kennedy delivers sermons at Coral Ridge which are broadcast to three million homes. He said he knows of no timetable for God's wrath, but wants results fast.

He dismissed the concerns of people who worried about the impact of Christian conservatives on the U.S. government.

"Repent," he said with a laugh. "Repent. That's what I'd say."

People who are concerned about the influence of Christianity "have never really surrendered their life to God and submitted themselves to his commandments -- and if they did that they wouldn't have so much concern about some court saying again that it's wrong," he said.

Asked about the millions of Americans who are not Christian, or have a different interpretation of Christianity, Kennedy said with another laugh: "I couldn't care less. It's true."
We're saying - with a laugh, of course - God is appalled at your absolutism, Dr. Kennedy, and will probably deal with you when your time comes. Ha ha ha!

This we know about Bush - he's not the kind of guy who'll keep whatever promises he made to your flock. He won the election. That's all he wanted - and he's got nothing to lose by ignoring you from this point forward. Deal with it.

From the Pen of: John Sherffius

Yes, of course it gives me an idea...

Why We Kept Hammering on the Judicial Nominee Issue During the Campaigns

This is abuse of power, plain and simple. There are more important problems we should be going "nuclear" over, but these crackheads have their priorities programmed so wrong, they can't even see straight. The GOP is ready to squash any opposition, no matter how dangerous it is.

There are two things we can hope for: That there's still a shred of compassion among the public for what the Democrats stand for - and that those on our side of the aisle grow a spine and throw the GOP smacktalk back in their fat faces.
Senate GOP set to go 'nuclear' over judges

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans, boldly confident after their Nov. 2 electoral success, are preparing to end months of frustrating delays over President Bush's judicial picks by hitting Democrats with Republican's ultimate legislative weapon.

But the Republican threat to neuter long-cherished filibuster rules by steamrolling Democrats is risky - so potentially destructive that Capitol Hill calls it the "nuclear option." Democratic retaliation would be swift and long-lasting, raising the prospect of escalating clashes in a body that prides itself on gentility and cool judgment.

Even so, Republican leaders are signaling their intent to go nuclear in word and deed.

"We're going to use every tool we possibly can," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., who also unveiled a kinder, gentler phrase for the potential rules change: the "constitutional option."

The nuclear option would be a last resort if other measures fail, said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who will likely play a central role in the debate as a member of the Judiciary Committee and chairman of the Constitution subcommittee.

Cornyn argues that judicial filibusters unconstitutionally require a 60-vote supermajority to approve nominees, not the simple majority mandated in the Constitution.

"Democrats must stop not only for the good of the Senate but out of respect to the president, who received almost 60 million votes on November 2, and out of respect for the Constitution itself," Cornyn said. "No group of senators has the right, no minority has the right to tyrannize the majority of the Senate."

The nuclear option would begin with Frist taking the Senate floor to seek a ruling from the presiding officer, likely to be Vice President Dick Cheney in his role as Senate president, to determine whether judicial filibusters violate the Constitution.

Cheney's affirmative response would initiate a vote on changing the filibuster rule which also would be subject to a filibuster unless Cheney over- rules the Senate parliamentarian on whether normal debate rules apply. Then, only 51 votes would be needed for approval.

Another option includes changing Senate guidelines to disallow judicial filibusters, which also would require the Senate president to declare that normal filibuster rules do not apply, so 51 votes could prevail. Changing Senate rules should occur early in the session to gain legitimacy, some Republicans say, making this option potentially less appealing.

Either way, it would be pure power politics, leaving Democrats unable to respond. Other Senate rules, however, would give the minority party plenty of opportunity to express its anger in the months, and years, to follow.

Hard to Put Heat on the Guys Doing Your Dirty Work

You want Bush to put pressure on two guys who want the military to have more intelligence power? Who do you think is pulling their strings?
9/11 Chairman: Bush Should Apply Pressure

The fate of an overhaul of U.S. intelligence agencies rests with President Bush, who must exert more pressure on holdout Republicans if he wants compromise legislation to pass this year, a lead Senate negotiator said Sunday.

"If the president of the United States wants this bill, as commander in chief in the middle of a war, I cannot believe Republicans in the House are going to stop him from getting it," said Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., on ABC's "This Week."

But two powerful opponents of the deal, GOP Reps. Duncan Hunter of California and James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, are showing no signs of wavering on a measure intended to put in place recommendations from the Sept. 11 commission.

Hunter, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, has expressed concerns that the intelligence realignment could interfere with the military chain of command.

Saturday, November 27

New Product Showcase

Click the shirt or the button. New Hoffmania schwag for the holidays.

Friday, November 26

More Horsecrap in the Spending Bill

Wild horses are now fair game if the bill passes. The GOP is truly on a mission to become the most hated group in the world.
New Provision Would Allow Slaughtering of Wild Horses

In a reversal of three decades of government policy that protected all wild horses, a provision approved by Congress last weekend would allow some of them to be sold to slaughterhouses.

The provision, attached to an omnibus spending bill by Senator Conrad Burns, Republican of Montana and chairman of the appropriations subcommittee with responsibility for the Interior Department, requires the sale of wild horses that have been rounded up and are more than 10 years old or have been unsuccessfully offered for adoption three times. The bill is awaiting final action.

The new language appears to override an existing requirement that those buying horses for adoption care for them for a year before assuming ownership, a hedge against horses being sold for slaughter. Now, the prospective law says, unwanted or old horses "shall be made available for sale without limitation."

There are about 37,000 horses and burros running free in 10 Western states, but most are in Nevada, said Maxine Shane, a spokeswoman for the Reno office of the Bureau of Land Management. An additional 14,000 are in captivity in Oklahoma and Kansas, with a few thousand more in regional facilities. Ms. Shane estimated that at least 8,000 of the horses in captivity would be eligible for immediate sale to the highest bidder.

Voting Discrep Story from the Eye of the Hurricane

The Columbus Dispatch chimes in.
More voting questions raised

Several new voting concerns surfaced yesterday as lawyers combed totals from the Nov. 2 presidential election.

An Akron man filed a complaint with the Summit County Board of Elections saying he "witnessed election judges telling potential voters that they could cast a provisional ballot at any table or precinct and if they did so, it would be counted."

Neil F. Schoenwetter Jr. was a volunteer election challenger for the Democratic Party on Nov. 2 at Copley High School, where six precincts voted.

Congress' investigative agency, responding to complaints from Ohio and elsewhere, has begun to look into the vote count, including the handling of provisional ballots and malfunctions of voting machines.

Meanwhile, attorneys for various citizen action groups that plan to contest the results said they are puzzled that vote totals in the presidential race in Warren County far exceed totals in most other statewide and countywide races.

For example, the total of 94,415 votes cast there for President Bush or Sen. John Kerry is 3,000 more than all those cast in the U.S. Senate race and a constitutional amendment about same-sex marriage.

Further, 20,000 to 24,000 fewer votes were cast in three Ohio Supreme Court races and 13,000 to 24,000 fewer were cast in various countywide races.

In Warren County, which reported a 33 percent increase in voter turnout from the 2000 elections, election officials had banned observers at the polls for "homeland security" concerns.
The GOP added their fair and patriotic 2c to the fray...
Ohio Republican Party Chairman Robert T. Bennett issued a statement questioning the vote challenges:

"These groups have already acknowledged the outcome of the election will not change, and their actions represent a foolish attempt to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the Bush presidency," he said. "I call on the leadership of the Ohio Democratic Party to immediately concede that this worthless recount request is an insult to the integrity of Ohio's election system."

Thanks, YK

Eating Their Own Fan Base

By now, you've read all the stories of Vietnam vets and any active military human being called up for duty to try to win the Iraq nightmare the historically anti-military Bush and Cheney started. Stories are everywhere chronicling how much difficulty we seem to be having recruiting people voluntarily.

For God's sake, 59 million-plus people of all ages elected President Crackhead because they supported his "moral" crusade in Iraq and the subsequent breeding of new terrorists therein. Why don't we simply root out these supporters and knock on their doors to find able-bodied footsoldiers? It wouldn't be a draft per se. It'd be a dandy way to tell Bush's supporters "Thanks for telling us you like what we're doing!"

Give all these 59,040,057 voters physicals. If they pass muster, ship 'em off. Seriously. We'll win this thing in days. But only if they're willing to walk their damned talk.

But wait! It looks like someone has beat us to it. NASCAR has happily allowed itself to tap into their hardcore Bush-lovin' fans to become a great big recruiting center for the Iraq war. It's a start.

Read it and weep, folks. This is from NASCAR's own web site.
Army uses NASCAR to bolster recruiting

Joe Nemechek is "G.I. Joe" to many NASCAR fans, a nickname stemming from the GoArmy.com logo on the hood and bumper of his Chevy Monte Carlo.

Every lap he leads and every pole he wins puts the Army in millions of living rooms nationwide.

Sponsoring Nemechek is part of a military recruiting strategy, which includes advertising at football games and rodeos, aimed at maintaining the all-volunteer force during the war in Iraq and the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

"We have to get the best young men and women in the Army to continue," said Tom Tiernan, a 22-year Army veteran who is now a civilian employee leading the marketing program.

The Army has a traveling exhibition for NASCAR events, filling four semitrailers and covering 12,000 square feet, giving recruits a version of shock and awe.

Visitors can view the latest Army equipment, including uniforms and weapons, said Guy Morgan, Army account director. Other activities include laser target shooting and a challenge involving changing tires on a stock car.

Everyone who enters the exhibition area must sign a liability form, which also generates some leads for the Army, Morgan said.

At all events, the Army also hopes to meet parents who may be reluctant about their children enlisting.

"When senior officers are out there, they can talk to parents and tell them that the Army will do everything possible to protect their sons and daughters," Tiernan said.

Thursday, November 25

1000 Words Worth

Bush's body English speaking loudly on Clinton Library day. Thanks, Jer.

UPDATE 11:15am 11/25: Sidney Blumenthal provides the backstory of this picture in the Guardian:
LINK - John Kerry arrived to defiant cheering from the crowd. Then, when the presidents were announced, Bush tried to push his way past Clinton at the library door to be first in line, against the already accepted protocol for the event, as though the walk to the platform was a contest for alpha male.
Here are a few more classy moves from the crackhead-in-chief from Blumenthal's story.
Offstage, beforehand, Rove and Bush had had their library tours. According to two eyewitnesses, Rove had shown keen interest in everything he saw, and asked questions, including about costs, obviously thinking about a future George W Bush library and legacy. "You're not such a scary guy," joked his guide. "Yes, I am," Rove replied. Walking away, he muttered deliberately and loudly: "I change constitutions, I put churches in schools ..."

Bush appeared distracted, and glanced repeatedly at his watch. When he stopped to gaze at the river, where secret service agents were stationed in boats, the guide said: "Usually, you might see some bass fishermen out there." Bush replied: "A submarine could take this place out."

At the private luncheon afterwards, in a heated tent pitched behind the library, Shimon Peres delivered a heartfelt toast to Clinton's perseverance in pursuing the Middle East peace process. Upon entering the tent, Bush, according to an eyewitness, told an aide: "One gulp and we're out of here." He had informed the Clintons he would stay through the lunch, but by the time Peres arose with wine glass in hand the president was gone.

From the Pen of: Tom Toles

From the Pen of: Pat Oliphant

Conason's Courtesy Corner

From the Pen of: Paul Conrad

Joe's got some suggestions on how to deal with your wingnut relatives this Thanksgiving...
Let them eat poundcake

In the election's immediate aftermath -- and following a big meal and a few drinks -- your most dearly beloved conservatives may not be able to resist the urge to gloat. They may even begin to lecture you about the bright future that awaits us all as George W. Bush fulfills his "mandate."

Rather than start screaming about the bloody debacle in Iraq, the nasty campaign against gays, or the pillaging of the environment, just smile and nod until your favorite 'winger pauses for breath (or a bite of pie). Then say, "I hope you're right, of course, for everybody's sake. But have you heard about the President's economic plans?"

As soon as you have everybody's attention, politely explain what Bush and his administration plan to do to the gullible middle-class voters who re-elected him. Remind them how the President promised to make taxes "fairer" and "simpler," to make health care more widely available and to cut the deficit in half.

Nod your head and say yes, you agree, the forthcoming White House tax plan is pure simplicity. It will transfer the tax burden from the wealthy to the workers, from families with high earnings to those in the middle. That means creating new shelters for the richest taxpayers, who will be rewarded with various schemes for tax-free savings and medical accounts. Pretty fair, eh?

Assuming that your Republican relatives despise Hollywood liberals, misbehaving athletes, foul-mouthed hip-hop artists, and George Soros, it's worth pointing out that the Bush tax scheme will greatly benefit such pampered "elitists." And thanks to Bush's repeal of the estate tax, the children of those elitists may never have to pay any income taxes, let alone do any work, for the rest of their lives!

And while your listeners are still chewing over that piece of gristle, gently inform them about the President's other plan to compensate for the next round of regressive tax cuts. He wants to take away their employer-sponsored health insurance.

Although he neglected to discuss any such proposal during the presidential campaign, when he emphasized his commitment to expand health coverage, Bush reportedly plans to eliminate corporate deductions for health insurance coverage. That will leave wage and salary earners to fend for themselves against the big private insurers. Take a generous sip of chardonnay and say, "What a deal!"

So smile again, a bit sardonically, as you sum up what middle-class Americans, red and blue, can expect as the second Bush regime begins: Higher taxes, exploding deficits and the end of health coverage as we know it.

There's just so much to be thankful for, isn't there?

Wednesday, November 24

Still Doubt the Draft is Imminent?

They're calling up Vietnam veterans. VIETNAM VETS. Eventually, they'll run out of them. Who do you think is next?
Vietnam veteran, 53, called to active duty

PLEASANT UNITY, Pa. - More than three decades after he was last in combat, a Vietnam veteran has been called to active duty in Iraq.

Paul Dunlap, 53, of Pleasant Unity, will leave for Fort Bliss, Texas, on Monday after being called up as part of Operation Dragoon.

Dunlap, a first sergeant in the Army National Guard Company C 28th Signal Battalion out of Torrance, Westmoreland County, hasn't been in combat since he was a 19-year-old Marine and served 11 months in Vietnam from 1970 to 1971.

"I'm thinking I'm going to be away for at least a year from my family and my grandchildren (and) friends," Dunlap told the Tribune-Review of Greensburg in a story published Wednesday. "I'm thinking it's been a long time since I've been in war."

Dunlap, a machinist, found out about his call-up at work in November.

Dunlap will spend about two weeks at Fort Bliss before linking with the 1st-103rd Armor in Kuwait. He is a signal systems specialist and his unit will likely handle radio retransmissions and fix equipment.

He will leave behind his wife, Mary Dunlap, four children and three grandchildren.

OOOkay...We All Need a Few Days Off...

It actually looks more like Patty Hearst in her post-SLA days to me.

LINK - The happy folks at the GoldenPalace online casino certainly believe.

Today, they forked over more than 28-thousand dollars for half a grilled cheese sandwich that's more than ten years old.

The seller claims it bears the image of the Virgin Mary. That's even with a bite missing. So, she put it up for bid on e-Bay.

More than one and a-half (m) million hits later -- sold!

The online casino will be putting it on display. First stop -- Las Vegas. After that comes the world tour.

From the Pen of: David Horsey

These Times Weren't Meant for Him

Oh my GOD! Rather's resigning! There must be a reason! The Bush National Guard papers! That's GOTTA be it! When you read stories like this in the L.A. Times, that's the conclusion you reach.
LINK - Dan Rather announced Tuesday that he would resign in March as CBS News anchor, catching many by surprise just weeks before the release of a report expected to criticize his role in a discredited story about President Bush's National Guard service.
How about I float this wacky possibility: Rather is 73 damned years old. 73. By contrast, Walter Cronkite was only 65 when he signed off the CBS Evening News. True, it was due to CBS' retirement policy at the time which has since changed. But the fact is, Dan Rather had an entire career as news anchor, and Uncle Walter was among us to see the whole thing.

I never see this reason being floated in the news-within-the-news story. Maybe Rather would like to, y'know - do something else at this age?

I do think the Bush National Guard story may have been instrumental in his decision, but in a very different way than the "He's being pushed out" scenario everyone's embracing. Maybe it was the final straw in this hyper-sensitive political climate telling Dan that it ain't gonna be as free a press as you remember, pal.

The "sin" in that episode, as you may or may not recall, was not that the information in those papers was false. In fact, everyone agrees the content was very much real and the truth. It's that the documents shown on TV were found to be replicas of the originals. For this, Rather - as the face of CBS News - had to go before the cameras and apologize profusely.

There was a time when a man apologizing was enough for us to move on. But as we keep saying here day after day after day, contrition is a sign of weakness under this GOP regime. Rather's critics wouldn't let up. They only saw the apology as an admission, and as such, only his head on a silver platter would be the proper conclusion.

For this reason, I truly believe that Dan Rather has finally decided that these days aren't made for guys like him. The journalists who dare to challenge our elected leaders on our behalf to get the truth about their actions are officially leaving the airwaves when Rather makes his final bow.

Believe me, there's rejoicing in the wingnuttery today. The last remaining broadcast network voice of questioning authority is going away in March. Ironically, Rather did only a mild version of what the right wing media do every five minutes: Take some information, make a scenario and put it out there. The difference is, Rather would seek out the objects of the story. Fox News and the talking heads of wingnut radio bring on "experts" only to bolster their theories.

So Dan Rather will take his microphone and go home, leaving a void which seemingly no one wants to fill.

It's been a wild journey. Some of it was, well, interesting ("What's the frequency, Kenneth?"; "Courage"). But I prefer to remember his on-the-scene reporting of the Vietnam war, his fiery confrontations at Nixon's press conferences (remember press conferences?) and his investigative stories which harkened back to the ballsiness of Edward R. Murrow and Mike Wallace - and which never required apologies from him or CBS News. Rather's work was done not only out of his inherent quest for answers, but also out of our own curiosity and hunger for truth.

Thanks for being there, Dan. A lot of us will truly miss you.


Wow. Republicans vs. Republicans - and almost turning into a fistfight! Istook would be a dandy recipient of a smackdown. Could they be melting down so soon? From The Hill:
LINK - Deep in the transportation section of this year's omnibus spending bill, Rep. Ernest Istook (R-Okla.) dispensed a little appropriator's justice, punishing 21 Republicans who wrote him a letter in support of $1.8 billion for Amtrak.

Istook, chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation, Treasury and Independent Agencies, drastically reduced, or entirely excised, the transportation earmarks that those lawmakers were expecting to receive, making good on a little-noticed threat he issued in a letter last February.

Istook's anti-Amtrak retribution hit several of the Republican majority's most vulnerable members, including Reps. Rob Simmons (R-Conn.) and Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.), two Northeastern centrists who won tight races, in part, by convincing constituents of their ability to bring home road money.

The affected lawmakers did not learn of Istook's drastic action until last Saturday, when the bill was passed. Several of them contacted Republican leaders to inquire if they knew of Istook's punitive action and were told that party leaders were unaware that Istook was harming vulnerable members.

In addition to Gerlach and Simmons, Reps. John McHugh (R-N.Y.) and Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.) were said to be particularly outraged at Istook's actions, according several committee sources. Upon learning that his projects were cut, McHugh came close to physical blows with Istook, according to some accounts.

Tuesday, November 23

Frist Apologizes!

For his vicious slandering of Richard Clark on the senate floor last spring? Aw, hell no. Don't be naive. He apologized to the esteemed Republican Congressman from Oklahoma, Ernest Istook. From Josh Marshall:
"I have spoken with Congressman Istook and he assures me that his office is not responsible for inclusion of the IRS provision into the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2005, the so-called omnibus bill. I regret any confusion my earlier remarks may have created."
Frist is still a pusbucket. At least we can all rest assured of that.

From the Pen of: Tatsuya Ishida

When Clinton Unzipped His Fly, No One Died


This Is Why We Question the Election Results

There is still more doubt, more criticism, more repulsion on how he's running things. Still, this little crackhead won the election. Even to this day, Americans - in their heart of hearts - don't really like this guy. I still find it hard to believe Kerry lost because he was a "flip flopper." The whole thing still stinks.
Americans Show Clear Concerns on Bush Agenda

After enduring a brutally fought election campaign, Americans are optimistic about the next four years under President Bush, but have reservations about central elements of the second-term agenda he presented in defeating Senator John Kerry, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll.

At a time when the White House has portrayed Mr. Bush's 3.5-million-vote victory as a mandate, the poll found that Americans are at best ambivalent about Mr. Bush's plans to reshape Social Security, rewrite the tax code, cut taxes and appoint conservative judges to the bench. There is continuing disapproval of Mr. Bush's handling of the war in Iraq, with a plurality now saying it was a mistake to invade in the first place.

While Democrats, not surprisingly, were the staunchest opponents of many elements of Mr. Bush's second-term agenda, the concerns extended across party lines in some cases. Nearly two-thirds of all respondents - including 51 percent of Republicans - said it was more important to reduce deficits than to cut taxes, a central element of Mr. Bush's economic agenda.
CBS News/New York Times Poll. Nov. 18-21, 2004. N=885 adults nationwide. MoE +/-3.

"Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president?"

Approve: 51%
Disapprove: 44%
Don't Know: 5%

"Is your opinion of George W. Bush favorable, not favorable, undecided, or haven't you heard enough about George W. Bush yet to have an opinion?"

Favorable: 48%
Unfavorable: 39%
Undecided: 10%
This, to me, is the most telling.

"What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?"

War in Iraq 25%
Economy/Jobs 18%
Terrorism (general) 11%
Health care 6%
Miscellaneous moral values 4%
The President 3%
Social Security/Medicare 2%
Education 2%
Poverty/Homelessness 2%
Foreign policy 2%
Defense/Military 2%
Other 17%
Unsure 6%
Moral Values. 4%. Compare that to the 35+% in the exit polls. Any doubt that the religious right was controlling the voting that night when most of America obviously couldn't give a rat's ass about morality?

War, the economy and terrorism - more than half. Kerry's talking points were right on the money. If this doesn't shut his Democratic critics up about which issues he shoulda coulda woulda talked about, then they should just tear up their cards and re-register as nutbag Reformers.

Monday, November 22

From the Pen of: Steve Benson


LINK - Thieves have stolen scantily clad garden gnomes from a gnome peepshow in an eastern German amusement park, park manager Frank Ullrich said on Thursday.

"The gnomes display naked body parts -- the same ones you'd expect to see in a human peep show," Ullrich said of his missing stars.

The adults-only attraction at Dwarf-Park Trusetal, where visitors peep through keyholes to see the saucy German miniatures in compromising poses, was smashed open early on Thursday morning.

Ullrich said he feared the gnomes would not be traced.

"I doubt they're standing in someone's garden, they'll have to have been hidden inside."
I didn't want to post this obscene lewd and anti-Republican story...unless I got a picture of said gnomes. Thanks to Jer, click here to see 'em in action. WARNING: Sexual, not explicit, but titillating in a gnome-like way.

The Theocratic Republic of the United States

The flood gates have opened. The slim Bush win seems to have given every crackpot in high office (or high judicial stature) a reason to pattern our ways of life based on religion. America - despite having God stuck into our cash and pledge - was founded on being religion-neutral. The religious ball-and-chain is what the founding fathers were trying to GET AWAY FROM.

So Scalia's not only a crackpot - he's an UNEDUCATED crackpot. This is the LAST guy you want a history lesson from.
Scalia says religion infuses U-S government and history

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia says a religion-neutral government doesn't fit with an America that reflects belief in God in everything from its money to its military.

Scalia told an interfaith conference at a New York synagogue that courts should consider that heritage in making their rulings.

In Europe, Scalia noted, religion-neutral leaders almost never publicly use the word "God." But he asked, "Did it turn out that, by reason of the separation of church and state, the Jews were safer in Europe than they were in the United States of America?" He added, "I don't think so."

Scalia said official examples of the presence of faith go back to America's Founding Fathers -- the word "God" on U-S currency, chaplains in the military and the legislature, real estate tax-exemptions for houses of worship and the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Judge Scalia might want to sport this belt buckle worn once upon a time by a certain "master race" as ordered by (ahem) Hitler. It's getting that frightening.

Translation: "God is with us."

Psst. Wanna Get a Free Sirius Radio?

If you've been thinking about getting satellite radio, we're going to help you out here. Sirius is giving away free hardware plus a car OR home kit if you purchase a one-year subscription for $142.45 (and $9.95 postage).

Well, that was quick. They've hit their limit on the Audiovox freebies. But if you're still interested in a deal, you can get either the Audiovox or the more compact Clarion radio WITH a car or home kit for under 50 bucks. It ain't free, but it beats the hell out of anything you'll find in the stores. You'll also have a choice of half-year or whole year subscriptions to get this deal. Here's how.
1) Go to Sirius.com, click on "Get Sirius", then click "Buy at Sirius Direct."
2) Enter the promo code 252 and click "Go."
3) The Audiovox SIR-PNP2 and Clarion SIRPNP tuners will come up for $49.99 each. Choose one by clicking "Add to Cart."
4) You'll be asked for a referring e-mail address. Use mine - [hoffmanblog at earthlink dot net].*
*Type it in as a regular e-mail address. I spelled it out that way so I don't get spam from website crawlers.
5) Choose either the car kit or the home kit for free.
6) Follow the rest of the procedure to subscribe.
If you still really want a free Sirius radio, you can use the old promo code 262 in Step 2 above. You'll find an XACT Palm-Sized Sirius radio with car kit for $0.00 (the second choice on the page). I tried fiddling with this unit in the store the other day, but the method of direct tuning a channel is kinda cumbersome. It may be right for you, so check out the product info here before you take the plunge.

Conason: Frist Slandered Clark

Even though this declassified government document vindicates Richard Clark, you'll hear nothing that resembles an apology from Frist - because apologizing is a sign of weakness in the new "moral" GOP. Jerks.

Bill Frist exposed

In Washington's fetid culture of personal destruction, the powerful and privileged can trash an adversary's reputation without concern that the truth will embarrass them when it emerges months or years later. Consider the case of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.

Last March, Frist rose on the Senate floor to demonstrate his fealty to the White House by attacking Richard Clarke in the ugliest and most personal terms. Seeking to discredit the former counter-terrorism chief after his stunning appearance before the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, Frist essentially accused the former counter-terrorism chief of committing perjury.

But now we know who was telling the truth and who wasn't, thanks to the release of a newly declassified document. That document is the transcript of Clarke's testimony before a closed, joint congressional hearing in June 2002, when he discussed "the evolution of the terrorist threat" leading up to 9/11 with members of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees. While the declassified text contains lengthy redactions, it also shows conclusively that Frist slandered Clarke last spring.

In his furious floor speech, the senator mocked Clarke for acknowledging his own responsibility in the government's failure to prevent the 9/11 disaster, berated his "profiteering" from the tragedy with his revealing memoir, "Against All Enemies," and went on to insinuate that the star witness had lied and might be prosecuted:

"Mr. Clarke has told two entirely different stories under oath," said Frist. "In July 2002, in front of the Congressional Joint Inquiry on the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Clarke testified under oath that the administration actively sought to address the threat posed by al-Qaida during its first seven months in office ... .[It] is one thing for Mr. Clarke to dissemble in front of the media. But if he lied under oath to the United States Congress it is a far more serious matter. As I mentioned, the intelligence committee is seeking to have Mr. Clarke's previous testimony declassified so as to permit an examination of Mr. Clarke's two different accounts. Loyalty to any administration will be no defense if it is found that he has lied before Congress."

Clarke reacted by urging the immediate declassification of the entire six-hour transcript of his secret testimony, confident that he would be vindicated. Eventually, Frist's own spokesman admitted that his boss hadn't read Clarke's testimony -- and that his only "evidence" was gossip from other unnamed legislators who had called the majority leader to complain that Clarke's "tone" differed from what he had said two years earlier. Some Republicans who had heard Clarke's testimony quietly suggested that Frist didn't know what he was talking about, including Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kansas.

His detailed description of those efforts, which explodes Republican attempts to blame Clinton for 9/11 and confirms both his testimony and his book, should be required reading for mythologizers like the Senate majority leader. And when Frist has finished reading the 103 pages, the majority leader ought to be decent enough to apologize publicly for lying about this remarkable public servant.

From the Pen of: John Sherffius

Clinton's cabinet looked like America. Bush's looks like Crawford, TX...

Sunday, November 21

Olbermann Flogs It Into The Mainstream!

And he's paying the price. He's being extremely kind here, but word is he's received more than just a couple of death threats for keeping this bona fide election irregularity story alive. I say to them as they say to him - Live with it.
LINK - It is noteworthy that the announcement of a legal challenge made it into weekend editions of The Cleveland Plain Dealer, The Columbus Dispatch, the Associated Press wires, and other publications. The Columbus paper even mentioned something curious. "Earlier this week, the Ohio Democratic party announced it would join a lawsuit arguing that the state lacks clear rules for evaluating provisional ballots, a move the party said will keep its options open if problems with the ballots surface."

The Ohio newspaper coverage suggests that even the mainstream media is beginning to sit up and take notice that, whatever its merits, the investigation into the voting irregularities of November 2nd has moved from the Reynolds Wrap Hat stage into legal and governmental action. Tripe does continue to appear, like Carol Pogash's column in today's San Francisco Chronicle. Its headline provided me with a laugh: "Liberals, the election is over, live with it." I've gotten 37,000 emails in the last two weeks (now running at better than 25:1 in favor), and the two most repeated comments by those critical of the coverage have been references to the ratings of Fox News Channel, and the phrase "the election is over, (expletive deleted), live with it." I hesitate to generalize, but this does suggest a certain unwillingness of critics to engage in political discourses that don't have no swear words in 'em.
Keith also goes into more detail about the UC Berkeley study and how it, too, is gaining traction. Stay tuned.

Make Your Own Caption

LINK - From left to right, President of Chile Ricardo Lagos, U.S. President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin, walk in together wearing traditional Chilean ponchos as they arrive for the APEC Leader's Official Photograph at La Moneda Sunday, Nov. 21, 2004 in Santiago, Chile.

From the Pen of: Don Wright

From the Pen of: Jeff Danziger


Somebody in the sales department at the Washington Post was gunning for Salesperson of the Month by selling a 16-page advertising supplement. What got past the editors is a racially-charged tirade against gays put together by the Grace Christian Church which was included in everyone's WaPo this morning. The message is that unlike blacks, gays' rights aren't a civil rights issue because gayness is a matter of choice, not genetics.

Raw Story has the sordid details and a PDF file of the "magazine."

They're DEAD! Their wives? DEAD! Their kids? DEAD!

Bush is gonna have a hissy fit when he gets home. This morning's L.A. Times...
House Blocks Intelligence Reform Bill

Defying their leadership and direct appeals from President Bush and Vice President Cheney, two powerful House Republicans on Saturday blocked intelligence reform legislation that would put a single director in charge of the nation's spy agencies.

Passage of the legislation that would have implemented recommendations from the Sept. 11 commission had appeared likely earlier in the day. Commission members and families of the victims of the terrorist attacks reacted with frustration and outrage at the reversal.

The prospects of reviving the bill appeared uncertain late Saturday.

Hours after House and Senate negotiators said they had a deal, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) said he was unable to persuade Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-El Cajon) and some other Republicans to support the compromise. The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), also opposed elements of the bill.

The two chairmen stood firm even after the president called Sensenbrenner from Santiago, Chile, where Bush was attending a summit of Asian and Pacific leaders, to urge him to make a compromise. Vice President Cheney asked Hunter to do the same.

Hunter said the bill would undermine the Pentagon's ability to obtain real-time intelligence during a battle. Sensenbrenner objected to stripping out controversial law enforcement and immigration provisions that had been included in the House's intelligence bill.

"We're just doing our jobs," Hunter said in an interview.
And the one thing I find fascinating here is that Hunter and Sensenbrenner have managed to find a way to piss off EVERYBODY. 9/11 families. The 9/11 commission. Bush and Cheney.


Saturday, November 20

CSPAN2 - Now!

There's some amazing TV happening right now. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) apparently got caught sticking a provision in an appropriations bill allowing senate members to snoop into citizens' and business' IRS records. CSPAN2 has suspended its Book TV hooha to carry this. The Democrats are going nuts, as did John McCain and a few other moderate GOPers. Barbara Boxer just went off, and Robert Byrd is currently taking the senate to school, decrying what has happened to it over the "last few years."

It's GREAT TV. Tune in...this ain't ending soon.

UPDATE: Byrd said he's voting against the bill out of protest. It's also his 87th birthday. Well played, Mr. Byrd.

Friday, November 19

From the Pen of: Ann Telnaes

From the Pen of: Ben Sargent

Great! I'm not the only verbose one here today...

Olbermann Still Fighting the Fight

But he's beginning to understand why the mainstream media doesn't report the voter fraud story. It's too much work for them. Poor babies.

We appreciate Keith Olbermann immensely. We hope he stays on it and doesn't bow to an impatient news desk at NBC. He's trying reeeeealy hard to make it digestible to us ADD infomaniacs, and his work deserves your attention.

If by some small amazing turn of events you see John Kerry being sworn in on January 20th, you'll remember who in the mainstream media kept this story afloat.
LINK - I'll add one factor to explain the collective shrugged shoulder: reading this stuff is hard. It's hard work.

There are, as we know, lies, damn lies, and statistics. But there is one level of hell lower still - scholarly statistical studies. I have made four passes at "The Effect of Electronic Voting Machines on Change in Support for Bush in the 2004 Florida Elections," and the thing has still got me pinned to the floor.

Most of the paper is so academically dense that it seems to have been written not just in another language, but in some form of code. There is one table captioned "OLS Regression with Robust Standard Errors." Another is titled "OLS regressions with frequency weights for county size." Only the summary produced by Professor Michael Hout and the Berkeley Quantitative Methods Research Time is intelligible.

Of course, I'm reminded suddenly of the old cartoon, with the guy saying "I don't understand women," and the second guy saying, "So? Do you understand electricity?"

In his news conference yesterday at Berkeley (who attended? Who phoned in to the conference call? Why didn't they try?) Professor Hout analogized the report to a "beeping smoke alarm." It doesn't say how bad the fire it is, it doesn't accuse anybody of arson, it just says somebody ought to have an extinguisher handy.

...you are forced to conclude that compared to the Florida counties that used paper ballots, the ones that used electronic voting machines were much more likely to show "excessive votes" for Mr. Bush, and that the statistical odds of this happening organically are less than one in 1,000.

They also say that these "excessives" occurred most prominently in counties where Senator Kerry beat the President most handily. In the Democratic bastion of Broward, where Kerry won by roughly 105,000, they suggest the touch-screens "gave" the President 72,000 more votes than statistical consistency should have allowed. In Miami-Dade (Kerry by 55,000) they saw 19,300 more votes for Bush than expected. In Palm Beach (Kerry by 115,000) they claim Bush got 50,000 more votes than possible.

Hout and his research team consistently insisted they were not alleging that voting was rigged, nor even that what they've found actually affected the direction of Florida's 27 Electoral Votes. They point out that in a worst-case scenario, they see 260,000 "excessives" - and Bush took the state by 350,000 votes. But they insist that based on Florida's voting patterns in 1996 and 2000, the margin cannot be explained by successful get-out-the-vote campaigns, or income variables, or anything but something rotten in the touch screens.
As he said - it's hard work going through all this. And the above is my distilling of his distilling. As we've said many times, we're damned glad Olbermann has adopted this story - even during his vacation week - and we look forward to his nuturing it to bear more fruit in the coming weeks.

Thursday, November 18

From the Pen of: Pat Oliphant

Pat's now just pissing off Rush Limbaugh...

The Dayton Daily News Article

I'll save you several clicks here...
Two precincts had high undercounts, analysis shows

Two Montgomery County precincts had extraordinarily high numbers of ballots cast Nov. 2 with no presidential vote counted, and the county's overall rates of such undercounts were highest where Democratic hopeful John Kerry did best.

Undercounts are ballots that do not register a vote for a particular race, in this case for president. Two precincts - one in Kettering and another in Washington Twp. - had undercounts of more than 25 percent, according to a Dayton Daily News analysis of the county's unofficial results.

Overall in Montgomery County, 5,693 or 2 percent of the ballots cast registered no valid vote for president.

As predicted by political scientists, who say the poor and less-educated are more likely to have problems with punch card voting, the rate of so-called undercounted presidential ballots was higher in Democratic areas of the county than in Republican strongholds.

The undercount amounted to 2.8 percent of the ballots in the 231 precincts that supported Kerry, but only 1.6 percent of those cast in the 354 precincts that supported President Bush.

"That again, certainly, is torture," said Dennis Lieberman, the Montgomery County Democratic chairman.

Across the state on Nov. 2, counties that used punch-card voting, as Montgomery County did, had a higher rate of undercounted ballots than counties that used optical scanning technology or electronic voting machines, which had the lowest undercount.

With punch cards, undercounts can occur when a voter:

•Inadvertently votes for two candidates in the same race.

•Decides not to vote in the race.

•Does not sufficiently puncture the punch card to eliminate a "hanging chad." Hanging chads can make it impossible for machines to read the punch cards.

The highest undercount rate in Montgomery County was in precinct Washington X, around Paragon Road and Spring Valley Pike in Washington Twp.

In the precinct, 168 or 27.5 percent of the 611 ballots cast did not have a good presidential vote. That was followed closely by Kettering 3-A, near Stroop Road and Far Hills Avenue, where 121 or 27.3 percent of the 444 ballots cast were undercounted.

Both of those precincts supported Bush, as did seven of the 10 precincts with the highest rate of undercounted presidential ballots. That's despite the county's overall trend, in which precincts where Kerry did well tended to have above-average undercounts, while precincts where Bush won had lower-than-average undercounts.

County elections officials said they have no reports of any problems at either Washington X or Kettering 3-A. The punch-card voting stands, checked Wednesday using demonstration ballots, appeared to work appropriately.

Rates that high show something must have gone wrong, said Larry J. Sabato, a political scientist from the University of Virginia. Undercounts during presidential elections are typically between 1 percent and 2 percent, he said.

"It is very difficult to believe that a quarter of the people would not vote for president, especially in a year like this," Sabato said. "If I were the election officers in those areas I would be doing some very extensive checks of those machines."

Keith Olbermann Stays With The Story

LINK - ...stay tuned for the latest disaster from Ohio.

For 40 years, the Dayton Daily News reports this morning, Shirley Wightman has worked at polling places on election days. Two weeks ago, she says, turnout was high - 611 voters - and she and her colleagues paid careful attention to their punch-card, chad-filled, voting stations in Washington Township, Ohio.

"We checked the machines periodically," Ms. Wightman told the paper, "and I could see nothing wrong with them."

Yet when the votes were tallied, 168 of the 611 voters had made no choice for president. Unless these were the famed undecideds we heard so much about in the closing weeks of the campaigns, something went terribly wrong. 27 and a half percent of the voters in that "Washington X" precinct in Montgomery County officially didn't have a presidential preference.

This was the high point of the Daily News' investigative analysis of the still-unofficial voting results in its county - or more properly, perhaps, the low point. The paper discovered that of the 284,650 votes in Montgomery, a total of 5,693 registered no valid vote for president. And the percentages were significantly higher in the 231 precincts that wound up voting for Kerry (2.8%) than did the 354 that wound up voting for Bush (1.6%).

Besides Washington X, a second County precinct exceeded 27% 'undercount,' as the election professionals, such as they are, call it. Washington X, Kettering 3-A, and five of the other top ten 'undercount' precincts by percentage wound up supporting Bush.

Since, as the papers note, political scientists suggested that the poor and the lesser-educated are presumed to have more trouble with punch card voting, there are several logical disconnects here. Given the outcomes in those two precincts, Washington X and Kettering 3-A, were those mostly Bush voters who managed to blank out more than a quarter of their own ballots, or did the precincts wind up voting for Bush because more than a quarter of the ballots had no valid presidential vote?

What happened in the voting precincts in Moraine, Ohio? 2,557 votes were cast at seven sites there. The President won the city by 2%. The number of ballots without a valid presidential vote was 5.6%.

What do the state undercounts in Ohio look like? Did they reduce Bush's margin of victory? Did they eliminate votes for Kerry? What the hell happened?

As the Ohio recount nears, the number of hotspots continues to multiply. You are aware of the remarkable late night voting lines throughout the state, and the mysterious Glitch of Youngstown which initially registered negative 25,000,000 votes. There is the Gahanna machine which gave one presidential candidate 4,000 extra votes in a community of 600. And the farcical "walling off" of the vote counting in Warren County, because the county head of security was told face-to-face of an FBI terrorism warning there - except the FBI says it didn't issue any terrorism warnings there.

The Associated Press today carries a report of 2,600 ballots in nine precincts around Sandusky, Ohio that were counted twice - as that paper puts it - "likely because of worker error." The Clyde precinct showed a voter turnout of 131%, to the dismay of the head of the elections board, Barb Tuckerman.

Ms. Tuckerman, in one of the great quotes of the election, told the News-Messenger of Fremont, Ohio: "I knew there was something amiss."

Tell me about it, Barb.

Agent Orange v. 2004

I'm guessing the second word in this story is a typo. But here we go again with mysterious illnesses within our troops.
Rare Blood Infection Surfaces in Injured U.S. Soldiers

An expectedly high number of U.S. soldiers injured in the Middle East and Afghanistan are testing positive for a rare, hard-to-treat blood infection in military hospitals, Army doctors reported on Thursday.

A total of 102 soldiers were found to be infected with the bacteria Acinetobacter baumannii. The infections occurred among soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany and three other sites between Jan. 1, 2002, and Aug. 31, 2004.

Although it was not known where the soldiers contracted the infections, the Army said the recent surge highlighted a need to improve infection-control in military hospitals.

Eighty-five of the bloodstream infections occurred among soldiers serving in Iraq, the area around Kuwait and Afghanistan, the U.S. Army said in a report published on Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

GOP Deems Specter Fit for Duty

From the pen of Nick Anderson

Arise, Knave Specter. Thou has shown remorse for thy reality-based blasphemy and thou has displayed the proper worship of thine president of faith and virtue. Now for thine final test of loyalty...

(I don't want to go there...)
Senate leader backs Specter for Judiciary chairmanship

WASHINGTON - Sen. Arlen Specter on Wednesday went before his toughest audience to date, all the Republican members of the U.S. Senate, and won fresh support from many of his colleagues in his quest to secure the chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee.

Perhaps the most significant statement came from Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, who only a few days ago had sounded less than enthusiastic about Specter's prospects.

"Today, he had the opportunity to make some comments, which were received very well by members of the caucus," Frist said at a news conference after the meeting of the Republican Conference.

Specter is expected to complete his penance by issuing a written statement clarifying his post-election remarks in which he appeared to signal that anti-abortion judges would have a rough ride through confirmation.

The 74-year-old Pennsylvanian has since vowed to support all of President Bush's judicial nominees and impose no litmus test on abortion.
"Penance." So that's what our elected officials must go through these days. Swell.

From the Pen of: John Sherffius

From the Pen of: Steve Benson

UC to Unveil Voter Fraud Study

What would make this perfect is if it didn't come out of UC Berkeley, but instead if they transfered the presser to UC Irvine. It would carry a lot more gravity to all parties if it came out of Orange County. Click the headline to find out how to attend if you're in the area.
UC Berkeley Study Questions Florida E-Vote Count
Research Team Calls for Immediate Investigation

When: Thursday, November 18, 2004, 10:00 a.m. PST

Where: UC Berkeley campus, Survey Research Center Conference Room --
2538 Channing Way (intersection of Channing/Bowditch). Parking on Durant
near Telegraph.

What: A research team at UC Berkeley will report that irregularities
associated with electronic voting machines may have awarded
130,000 - 260,000 or more excess votes to President George W. Bush in
Florida in the 2004 presidential election. The study shows an unexplained
discrepancy between votes for President Bush in counties where electronic
voting machines were used versus counties using traditional voting
methods. Discrepancies this large or larger rarely arise by chance -- the
probability is less than 0.1 percent. The research team, led by Professor
Michael Hout, will formally disclose results of the study at the press

Wednesday, November 17

From the Pen of: John Sherffius

In Through the Nose...Out Through the Mouth...

(DEEP BREATH) Okay. Gotta lighten things up around here. I was under a lot of pressure to put up a new poll. Something for the music lovers out there.

The Democratic Circular Firing Squad Gathers Again

We're idiots. I know I'm not helping the cause by saying so, but we're idiots.

It amazes me how Democrats are so fast to attack other Democrats - pointing fingers and blaming Kerry for every damned thing that went wrong - while America burns.

So there's a $15 million surplus in the Kerry campaign. Now the leadership in the Democratic party wants Kerry's head. What the frick? Kerry handled the finances himself? Kerry bought the TV time himself? Kerry oversaw all the spending himself? Kerry had his campaign set aside $15 million for no reason? Let me answer that for you. No, No, No and No.

All these accusations have been made without hearing a peep from Kerry. And at some blogs, several have chosen character assassination (see the comments).

Nobody gives more ammo to the Republicans than Democrats. The GOP has been flouting the law eighty-fold. America is in a hellhole. And THIS is what the Democrats are focusing on? THIS is what they're outraged over?

You will never - and I do mean NEVER - hear anything like this coming from the GOP about themselves. We have a lot to hate about the Republicans, but dammit, we have a lot to learn from them too.

Instead - we find a problem within our ranks, and we drag it out for the world to enjoy. Nice strategy. Not like the wingnuts won't use THAT against us down the road. Sometimes, you just gotta keep your damned trap shut until (and I know this is a wacky concept) you get an explanation.

We better get our act together, folks. This is nonsense. Screaming bloody murder at Kerry for the Democrats' defeat just doesn't cut it for me.
Democrats Question Kerry's Campaign Funds

Democratic Party leaders said Wednesday they want to know why Sen. John Kerry ended his presidential campaign with more than $15 million in the bank, money that could have helped Democratic candidates across the country.

Some said he will be pressured to give the money to Democratic campaign committees rather than save it for a potential White House bid in 2008.

"Democrats are questioning why he sat on so much money that could have helped him defeat George Bush or helped down-ballot races, many of which could have gone our way with a few more million dollars," said Donna Brazile, campaign manager for Al Gore's 2000 presidential race.

Brazile is a member of the 400-plus member Democratic National Committee, which meets early next year to pick a new party chairman.
May I be excused? I need to vomit.

From the Pen of: Pat Oliphant

Oliphant's second favorite bird gets co-star billing...

American Epidemic - Stumbling Upon Uncounted Votes

From the St. Pete Times...
Pinellas ballot box sat ignored in office

The unmarked brown box sat unnoticed in the Pinellas Supervisor of Elections office until Monday, two weeks after the election, when an employee cleaning a desk stumbled upon it.

Inside were 268 uncounted absentee ballots.

"I think this is a very serious situation," Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark said Monday, vowing to fire or discipline any employee found to be negligent.

"I assume all responsibility for everything that happened in that department, but I have to rely on other people," Clark said. "It's not a one-woman show."

The unmarked box wasn't the only problem.

Five days ago, Clark sent the state the county's final results for the Nov. 2 election. But her office had failed to perform a standard check to ensure that all ballots had been accounted for.

Clark assumed her staff had performed the check, but they had not.

Now she will ask the state for permission to change Pinellas' official results. The canvassing board will count the missing ballots Thursday.

Although it is numerically possible, officials say the missing ballots probably won't change any results. Only a few races were decided by less than 268 votes - including the presidential contest.

George W. Bush won the presidential race in Pinellas by just 226 votes. While Bush's margin in Pinellas could change, his statewide victory won't.

"If you found a couple hundred thousand votes in Ohio, that might be exciting," said Paul Bedinghaus, chairman of the Pinellas Republican Party. "I expect that human error will continue to occur as long as human beings are involved."
Pardon my outburst here (so what's new?), but I am getting really goddamned sick and tired of hearing stories of "found" votes which are dismissed as not likely to change anything. Paul Bedinghaus can go to hell for that anti-American attitude. Screw him and everyone with that mindset. I don't care if 10,000 votes are uncounted or if just one vote is uncounted. They're votes. At least these voters frigging made the effort to be counted. Absolutely no vote should be dismissed.

This isn't rocket science. It's simple. Count every damned vote. That's all. Count every damned vote. I don't care what the outcome is. Just count the goddamned votes.

What part of "count the goddamned votes" is so difficult to understand?

Meet Your New National Security Adviser!

As always, Bush is stacking so many horrible decisions on the plate that it's impossible to know where to start saying "no." Our government-run-like-a-business once again elevates a raging incompetent instead of firing his useless butt. Why? Because President Crackhead has that psychological dysfunction of surrounding himself with sycophants - no matter how dangerous to the country's well-being they are.
A Hawk in Bush's Inner Circle Who Flies Under the Radar
Stephen J. Hadley, selected to be the next national security advisor, backs missile defense and is skeptical of arms control pacts.

Like others in Bush's inner circle, Hadley has demonstrated his loyalty. His most highly publicized appearance during Bush's first term came when he effectively took the blame for the president's mistaken claim in the 2003 State of the Union address that Iraq had sought to purchase uranium in Africa.

The assertion attracted controversy in July 2003, when it was disclosed that the Central Intelligence Agency had sent the White House two memos raising doubts about the uranium claim. Hadley appeared before reporters at the White House to say that he should have read the memos — and should have kept the erroneous 16 words out of Bush's speech.

"It is now clear to me that I failed in that responsibility," he said. Immediately afterward, Bush aides stressed that Hadley retained Bush's complete confidence and would stay on the job.

On Tuesday, as he announced the selection, Bush called Hadley a "man of wisdom and good judgment" who had "earned my trust."

Tuesday, November 16

New Product Showcase

Wouldn't this look great on your chest? Of course it would.

Click to see the whole line of this design. T-shirts. Mugs. Y'know. The usual.

"Mosh" Redux

Eminem's seminal "Mosh" video was a wake-up call to millions of young voters. It's been re-shot and re-edited - and the message is just as strong and uplifting. Instead of marching en masse to the voting booth...well, see for yourself. Check it out.

Oh, Sweet Jesus, NO...

The Red States' party is completely running roughshod over the laws of the land. And there's no one - NO ONE - who can stop them. They know something here, and they're preparing for it. If there's ANY conscience left in the Republican Party, they better act now and reject this insanity. I'm not holding my breath.

To all those who prayed for this to happen - the hijacking of our government by the radical right - you better reap the same screwjob the rest of us will get. This is an outrage.
House GOP May Change Leadership Rules

House Republicans were contemplating changing their rules in order to allow members indicted by state prosecutors to remain in a leadership post, a move designed to benefit Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) in case he is charged by a Texas grand jury that has indicted three of his political associates, GOP leaders said today.

The rules change, which some leaders said is likely to be adopted Wednesday, comes as House Republicans return to Washington indebted to DeLay for the enhanced majority they won in this month's elections. DeLay led an aggressive redistricting effort in Texas last year that resulted in five Democratic House members retiring or losing reelection. It also triggered the grand jury inquiry into fundraising efforts related to the state legislature's redistricting actions.

House Republicans recognize that DeLay fought fiercely to widen their majority, and they are eager to protect him from an Austin-based investigation they view as baseless and partisan, said Rep. Eric I. Cantor (R-Va.), the GOP's chief deputy whip.

"That's why this [proposed rule change] is going to pass, assuming it is submitted, because there is a tremendous recognition that Tom DeLay led on the issue to produce five more seats in our majority," Cantor said after emerging from a meeting in which the Republican Conference welcomed new members and reelected Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and DeLay as its top leaders.
Kos points out that the GOP pushed through the original law when Rostenkowski was about to get hung out to dry. These people are bastards. Every last one of them. Bastards.

Now That's What I Call Hip Hop! Volume II

Loved his professional work. Like most of us, it seems his personal affairs needed a little shoring up.
ODB's family woes

The sister of hip-hop star ODB said yesterday that his money was beginning to become an issue within the family since his death Saturday.

Lamarenae Jones, 32, said she and her mother, Cherry Jones, were angry that ODB's separated wife made public statements that he had only three children when the rapper had seven children to whom he was financially committed.

"All these kids were always around each other," Jones, of Manassas, Va., said. "We have no idea why she said he only had three - her three - but it looks like his money is definitely going to be an issue."

Biographies of the rapper have put the number of his offspring at 12 or 13.

His wife, Icelene Jones, met ODB at her 16th birthday party in East New York about 20 years ago and lives in Deer Park with the couple's three children, Taniqua, 16; Barson, 15; and Shaquita, 13. After ODB's death, she insisted he had only three children and would not be responsible for any more than that.

She could not be reached yesterday.

Now That's What I Call Hip Hop! Volume I

Wasn't this the awards show which ended in a trophy-grabbing free-for-all last year? Or was that another UPN show, WWE Smackdown?
Man Stabbed in Melee at L.A.-Area Rap Awards Show

One man was stabbed and rapper Dr. Dre was punched in the nose during a melee at the second annual Vibe Awards for hip-hop stars at a hangar at Santa Monica Airport on Monday night, police said.

The fight, in which crowds of people traded punches and hurled chairs, started when Dr. Dre was punched while waiting to go on stage to receive a lifetime achievement award after being introduced by arranger Quincy Jones and rapper Snoop Dog.

Dre's bodyguards went after the assailant and fights broke out in the crowd of about 1,000. The man who was stabbed was not identified but officials said he was in stable condition and police were hunting for his attacker. The victim's name was not released.

When taping of the show resumed, Dr. Dre was presented with his award. The program was scheduled to be broadcast on Tuesday night on the UPN network.

Another Development in the Burning Man

It seems to be an epidemic - people serving the government, having their work bungled beyond hope and ultimately getting distraught to the point of quitting - or worse. If you're not missing Clinton by now, you have no trace of the soul you claimed to vote by.
Post: Man Who Ignited Self at White House an Informant

A man who set himself on fire outside the White House on Monday was a Yemeni federal informant on terrorism upset over how the FBI had managed his case, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

Mohamed Alanssi, who had recently discussed his work as an informant in interviews with The Washington Post, told the newspaper by faxed letter and telephone on Monday he intended to "burn my body at unexpected place," the newspaper reported.

From the Pen of: Clay Bennett

From the Pen of: Tom Toles

Ink for One Of Our Own

It's always good when one of our contributors gets ink, especially in long form. Mark Richards has a piece in the Littleton (MA) Independent titled Little hope in second term for Bush. As we used to say in the old neighborhood in New York - nice piece.

Monday, November 15

New Product Showcase

Click the bumper sticker to get one.

From the Pen of: Ben Sargent

The Bush Crapstorm Continues

Man, not even two weeks after the election, and things have sunk lower than we could have ever predicted. Condoleezza Rice screws up the August 2001 PDB which led to the 9/11 attacks - so she'll make a swell Secretary of State. The Bizarro World is here.

Heads of state around the world will hide under their desks when they see her coming their way...

It Gets Even Worse

Compassion, gone. Rules of war, dead. I will now come right out and say this: I've never been more ashamed to be a citizen in Bush's America.
NBC video shows Marine killing wounded Iraqi

A U.S. Marine shot and killed a wounded prisoner in a Fallujah mosque, according to a television pool report broadcast Monday. A Marine spokesman said the shooting was being investigated.

Pool pictures taken by NBC correspondent Kevin Sites embedded with the Marines 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment, were recorded Saturday as the Marines returned to an unidentified Fallujah mosque.

The video, according to a version aired by CNN, showed a Marine raising his rifle toward the prisoners but neither NBC nor CNN showed the shooting itself. The video was blacked out but the report of the rifle could be heard.