Thursday, December 29, 2005

The next time Tony Blair stands with George Bush remember this...

As the excerpt from today's BBC news elaborates, MI-6, the British Intelligence Agency, has been connected to abduction, torture, and collusion with a foreign government over the treatment of "suspects".
Claims that an MI6 officer took part in the abduction and torture of 28 Pakistani terror suspects in Greece must be investigated, Lib Dems say.Foreign affairs spokesman Sir Menzies Campbell called for an intelligence and security committee (ISC) inquiry.

A Greek newspaper has published the names of 15 Greek agents and one MI6 operative it says were involved. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has told MPs that claims of UK involvement are "complete nonsense".

While Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, MP, says it is "complete nonsense"; shall we review the acts of the British government in their treatment of the Irish over twenty five years of occupation, struggle and campaigns for civil rights, non descrimatory employment, and fair housing throughout the six counties of that part of the UK that exists on the island of Ireland. There were at least three Amnesty International reports that documented the ill treatment of Irish prisoners, the use of military tribunals, called Diplock Courts, where you were denied the right to question your accursors or even have a jury trial, and let's not forget the murder of thirteen unarmed civil rights marchers in Doire [Derry] on what has been condemned worldwide as Bloody Sunday! Human Rights Watch has also detailed the abuse by the British of not only the Irish, but also racial minorities on the island that encompasses England, Wales, Scotland, and Cornwall. The major allies stand to answer numerous questions that show no moral authority, and a denigration of the human rights standards that we once championed as a government throughout the world, and our answers to date have been deficient to say the least.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Correction: Little Red Book Story is Hoax

In my entry "They Know If You've Been Bad or Good...", I linked to a Daily Kos story about a student who claimed to have been visited by Homeland Security agents for requesting a copy of Mao Tse-Tung's "The Little Red Book" for a class paper. Turns out the story was a hoax.

While this doesn't negate the point of my original post, I will admit that I was wrong in promoting this particular story.

Rendition - the subject is not going away

In an earlier blog I had mentioned that the habit of rendering a prisoner into foreign hands was not included in the McCain Anti Torture statute that was passed in Congress this past week. The Associated Press has just reported the following:

WASHINGTON - The CIA's independent watchdog is investigating fewer than 10 cases where terror suspects may have been mistakenly swept away to foreign countries by the spy agency, a figure lower than published reports but enough to raise some concerns.

By KATHERINE SHRADER, Associated Press Writer

You will note that if there are a possible ten cases that the CIA are investigating; how many more are there that have not been identified in the areas of control by the other alphabet soup agencies. Let's name a few shall we? The Defense Intelligence Agency who has the direct line of access anywhere we have troops on the ground, ie. Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, South Korea, add in any country where we have military bases. The military intelligence apparatus in each separate service, ie. Office of Naval Intelligence, Air Force Security Service, Army Intelligence, and let's not forget the NSA which can tap, listen, document and add to the intelligence findings that add a person to the possible rendition list. It seems that everytime the administration attempts to mitigate the story we turn over another rock finding more questions that require investigation by a free press.

Hypothetically Speaking

I've heard this suggested a lot of late in similar forms, but I think it's worth passing on with perhaps some value added....

When a Bush supporter tells you that the president is justified and correct in repeatedly breaking explicit laws and flouting the Constitution in his domestic spying activities, under the pretexts of "We're at war" and "I'm keeping Americans safe", ask this: It's now February, 2009 and President Hillary Clinton has just taken office. Do you want her to have the same unchecked powers that you're now glibly assigning to Bush?

(a) If he answers "Yes" or "There's no way that bitch is gonna be elected president", you can be assured with 99% confidence ±2σ that either he's lying or is just being supremely arrogant and overconfident as only a 21st century style Republican apologist can be. He won't ever admit to either, so tell him so and just let him stew in his own poisoned juices. Move on.

(b) If he answers "No" or remains mum, you'll know that you humbled him into admitting that he's wrong. Perhaps there's hope for him. Treat with care.

(c) If he answers "I'm not going to answer a hypothetical question", tell him "Listen here, McClellan.... you're already on record proclaiming that we should allow Bush to do whatever he hypothetically damn well pleases whenever he hypothetically damn well pleases. Now answer the damn question." Follow (a) or (b), or repeat (c) as appropriate.


Last night, as I was stopped at a traffic light on Ventura Blvd., an older Mercedes pulled up in the lane next to me. As I looked over, the 20-something driver gave me the 1-finger salute. I was only about 1/4 mile from home at the time, and the ride had been totally uneventful up to that point, so I was certain that it wasn't because of some previous driver error or indiscretion on my part. Might have been just some random event, but chances are it was a reaction to a bumper sticker on my car.

Was it the "Impeach Bush 2006" or the "Support Our Troops: Bring Them Home" or the "Dissent is Patriotic"? Perhaps the "Send the Bush Twins to Iraq"..... I know for a fact that that one frequently gets me a big thumbs up when on the road.

Based on this best guess, I reacted in the way that I normally do when I'm confronted politically by a Yahoo at one of my activist events: I smiled and waved. If that made him feel just a little bit foolish, then my day was complete.

As we drove away I began to wonder why this fine, strapping, brave young fellow was in fashionable Sherman Oaks, where life is good and reasonably safe, and not in Iraq with all those other brave men and women. The same for his 20-something lady friend in the passenger seat. (Did I mention before that this model citizen and patriot was also talking on his cell phone during this sequence?)

He must have been home on leave for the holidays. Yeah, that's what it must have been.

Sunday, December 25, 2005


From Stephanie Miller's show....

This Christmas it's an all new Christmas classic: George W. Bush is George W. Bailey in "It's a Blunderful Life". What would it be like to see how much better the world would be if you had never been born?

George: Look Clarence, everybody's so happy. Look at them shopping and laughing. Everybody's got a good job and health care and a pension.

Clarence: Of course they do George because you weren't there to take those things away from them. They actually have an elected president who has their best interests at heart.

George: Wow, there's Arlington Cemetery. Hey, it's practically empty. I thought there were more graves in there.

Clarence: All those boys are alive George because you weren't there to send them to their deaths in an unnecessary war.

Continued, and listen to audio.... (Check under Thurs, Dec. 22nd)

Friday, December 23, 2005

Cheney and Rumsfeld on catching spies

Most Americans are not aware of the Office of Special Planning, created secretly and privately by Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretery Rumsfeld, to oversee all Intelligence Agencies. When Cheney/Rumsfeld leave office, of course all that secret information on American citizens will disappear into their own private bunkers for their personal use.

Recently, the Office of special plans intercepted a threatening phone conversation when they bugged a notorious Vegan cell group, also known as Lettuce. The mid-eastern heads of Lettuce, led by the mastermind named Leafy and his 2nd lieutenants Radish and Rutabaga, have been lurking around produce sections in some of our U.S. major markets. Who knows what evil lurks in the heads of Lettuce. We certainly feel safer knowing the Cheney/Rumsfeld Office of Special Planning is protecting us from the fast growing Vegan bunch.

Jerry Drucker

The Museum of What's Happenin' Now

U.S. District Judge John E. Jones has ruled that intelligent design is not science but religion in disguise, which would make its teaching in public schools unconstitutional. An intermediate and necessary victory, but undoubtedly, this particular fight is far, far from over. The attack on evolution has already extended beyond the classroom into the museums, and the museums are in turn going on the offensive.

Warren Allmon, museum director at Museum of the Earth in Ithaca, NY has developed a special workshop and guide book to help volunteers and staff answer questions about evolution, creationism and intelligent design. Since running the first workshop last July, the museum has received more than 70 calls from other small museums and organizations around the country. Zoos and aquariums are stepping up too.

AP article....

Let's lend the necessary support to all these educational institutions and others in our neighborhoods. The smaller ones, because they more likely lack the financial and community muscle to fight back, are probably especially targeted by forces of ignorance, superstition and disregard for the Constitution.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Hey Arnold, What's Goin' On?

Governor Arnold hasn't been in the news much for a few days -- for better or for worse -- but to fill the void this reporter has obtained a copy of the Schwarzenegger Family Christmas Letter that was sent out recently to family and a few thousand of his closest friends. The full letter is posted here, including a downloadable/printable pdf version scanned from an original.

OK, so I occasionally engage in a little self promotion. For long before I started planting my braindroppings into a blog, I've been contributing to the California-centric satire magazine The LaLa Times, which the other Times in Los Angeles has referred to as "The Onion for L.A." (And while I'm at it, I also sell buttons, stickers, t-shirts, etc. at The Impeachment Store to support in a small way my political devotions.... a portion of sales donated to progressive causes.)

Speaking of politics and The L.A. Times and the grassroots.... a most interesting development this week. Later...

A happy holiday to you and to Arnold too.

Using the 'ph' word

I phinally phigured out a way to get around using the ophphending 'ph' word. Unless you're the Vice President oph the United States, who is allowed to use the 'ph' word with impunity, even on the phloor oph the Senate, one should phind a way to express the phull meaning and phorce oph the 'ph' word, especially in these phateful and phearful times, when true phreedom loving Americans try to phocus on being phaithphul to reality, phacts and truth.

Our Phounding Phathers, who phollowed the Constitution religiously (in the secular sense) would be mortiphied (not just because they're long dead) to phind out what has happened to their phine and noble great experiment. Thomas Jephpherson would be phlabbergasted, phinding out how George W. Bush, the phundalmentalist phanatic, has phucked up our nation, the Bill of Rights and his beloved Constitution. Actually, Jephpherson is better off dead, then seeing how a phear mongering phool, in a very short period of time, could destroy his dream and our nation phor decades to come.

To phrase it bluntly, phollow the 'ph' word and you'll phind the phickle phinger of phate that phucked us "Big Time."

Phaithfully yours,

Jerry Drucker

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

What I Heard About Iraq

"What I Heard About Iraq": I just learned that this powerful play has been extended once again, through at least January, at the Fountain Theatre in Hollywood. Told entirely through the actors quoting those intimately involved in the war (Dubya, his cabinet, military officers, soldiers, Iraqi civilians), supplemented by background images and soundtrack. It might seem that such a staging could soon get repetitively tiring, but it is truly and unapologetically compelling throughout. Adapted and directed by Simon Levy (from the article by Eliot Weinberger). Post show discussions led by cast, crew and special guests after the performances.

Check it out. Info here at the Fountain Theatre web site.

POTUS is at least disingenuous if not dishonest

The controversy that is currently swirling around the secret FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] Court that has included the resignation of one of its sitting judges just highlights the disingenuous if not dishonest statements of the President of the United States. That a sitting judge would step down over his protestations that the Administration is wrong and violating the Constitution is an eloquent statement to the degree of disappearing support for the Patriot Act and the opposition to covert spying on our own citizens. There are provisions under FISA to request a roving wiretap to cover the use of disposal cell phones which again refutes the comments today that this action cannot await a judicial review, albeit a secret review which is another question as well.

One is reminded of Benjamin Franklin's advisory, "
They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." , that is as relevant today as when the British were quartering soldiers in people's homes and denying the early revolutionaries their freedoms. That this President can still defend his extra legal abuse of his executive power in light of continued revelations supports the argument that he is no longer fit to govern or lead a democratic government.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Time Has Come, the Walrus Said......

"The Time Has Come The Walrus Said, To Speak of Many Things..."; with that Alice and Wonderland shares with us the parable about duplicity and betrayal of the young oysters and Charles Dodson added another tale to critical western thought as satire.

To paraphrase U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer's alert of this morning; she participated with former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean on a panel this past Sunday, December 18th. John Dean, whose testimony during the Senate Watergate hearings electrified the world, stated that President George W. Bush is "the first President to admit to an impeachable offense". Mr. Dean has confirmed that statement today.

The cause for entering a House Resolution for Impeachment is for "High Crimes and Misdemeanors". That burden of proof has been arrogantly confirmed from the President himself as he has defended and proudly stated that he would continue extra legal wire tapping of US citizens through domestic spying by the National Security Agency! The time is now, the cause is just, and this President should now be indicted, tried, and removed from office.

Monday, December 19, 2005

A Better Idea For National Security

A wonderful idea was just passed my way....

Since Dubya and his cronies are undoubtedly greater threats to national security than anything they are supposedly trying to counter with their illegal wiretaps, Congress should establish a FISA-authorized wiretap on all of their phone conversations.

Xmas in, July in December.... um

From AP: Global warming gases grew by 2 percent in the United States last year, the Energy Department reported.

The report followed by nine days closure of a United Nations conference at which the United States and China refused to join any talks for imposing binding limits on emissions of such gases.

the rest...


Mr. Bush, Mr. Gonzales.... You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to be speak to an attorney, and to have an attorney present during any questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you at government expense.

They seem to be proud of flouting the law.

The U.S. Constitution... gotta love it!

Kos, Atrios, Josh, ReddHedd

Time Has Come Today

Time Magazine has announced its Persons of the Year 2005: Bono, Melinda & Bill Gates.

But of greater note, Time has had a full year to update Dubya's Person of the Year page, since he was so named in both 2000 and 2004, but 2004 is curiously missing. (Click previous on the page to see that Clinton's page shows both 1992 and 1998, etc.)

Buyer's remorse.

Last Minute Gift Ideas

Jewel-encrusted Mr. & Mrs. Potato Heads, from the Jay Strongwater collection, available exclusively from the Nieman Marcus holiday catalog. $8,000 each. Gift box included.

Too much? Then how about Duncan's top-of-the-line Cold Fusion YoYo? Only $90. Made of hard anodized aluminum alloy, using ball bearings for record breaking spins. Red/black. Production limited to 1600. (But can you fry an egg on it?)

Final suggestions: Peace on earth, goodwill towards all people and peoples, a just society and leaders that we can trust.

Happy Holidays to all!

Hit the Toads, Jack

Jack Cafferty, on CNN:
Who cares about whether the Patriot Act gets renewed? Want to abuse our civil liberties? Just do it.

Who cares about the Geneva Conventions. Want to torture prisoners? Just do it.

Who cares about rules concerning the identity of CIA agents. Want to reveal the name of a covert operative? Just do it.

Who cares about whether the intelligence concerning WMDS is accurate. Want to invade Iraq? Just do it.

Who cares about qualifications to serve on the nation's highest court. Want to nominate a personal friend with no qualifications? Just do it.

And the latest outrage, which I read about in "The New York Times" this morning, who cares about needing a court order to eavesdrop on American citizens. Want to wiretap their phone conversations? Just do it. What a joke. A very cruel, very sad joke.
Video at C&L, transcript at CNN.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

New York Times - Checking Up on Diebold

Turns out that Randy, California Election Protection Network, Brad Friedman, Ion Sancho and myself aren't the only folks that are looking askance at Diebold. Today's New York Times features an editorial piece which offers a brief overview of Diebold's recent troubles and entreaties that the post-O'Dell era Diebold should make itself worthy of trust.

My favorite part of the piece?
Diebold has always insisted that its electronic voting machines are so reliable that there is no need for paper records of votes that can be independently verified. Fortunately, the American people feel otherwise. (Emphasis mine.) Nearly half the states - including large ones like California, New York, Illinois and Ohio - now require so-called paper trails.
There's still a lot of work to do on this issue, but it's nice to know that parts of the MSM realize we don't live in Paranoia Land.

They Know If You've Been Bad or Good...

I sometimes joke with several of my friends in the political activism community about us being on a government troublemaker list somewhere, due to either to our activities or our known associations with perceived troublemakers.

In light of discoveries by NBC News - which I saw on, you guessed it, Countdown with Keith Olbermann - our joking may not be far off the mark.

In a segment on Thursday's show, Keith reported that the Pentagon's TALON database, used to keep track of possible threats to national security within the United States, is also keeping track of such high security risks as Quaker educational meetings (scroll down one third of page - the actual MSNBC report is here ).

Today, Pentagon officials admitted that some of the information on antiwar protesters included in this secret Pentagon database should never have been on the list in the first place.

A Defense Department spokesman also announced a thorough review of domestic intelligence operations and refresher classes on how to properly collect and store intelligence, especially involving U.S. citizens.

The database of suspicious incidents obtained by NBC News includes legitimate potential threats, such as someone taking pictures outside a recruiting station, and a lookout for a suspected al Qaeda terrorist.

But it also contains information on antiwar meetings or protests, including this group‘s peaceful discussion at a Quaker Meeting House.
At one point they showed a printed copy of the database which had entries that read, "Counter Military Recruitment Planning Meeting" and "Anti-War Demonstration scheduled for 13 November 04."

When such news is paired with news of Homeland Security agents showing up on the doorstep of a student who had requested a copy of Mao Tse-Tung's "The Little Red Book" for a class paper, well, a girl's gotta start wondering when she's going to be paid a visit due to progressive political activities, phone calls to overseas friends and checking the Qu'ran out of the local library because she's curious about what Islam really is about. Not to mention association with her more politically radical friends.

Maybe I should make sure to post everyday so y'all know I haven't been dragged out of my bed in the dead of night...

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Phone and Fax protocols in the age of Bush

The recent revelations concerning the monitoring of all US citizens overseas phone calls by the analysts at the Puzzle Factory, The National Security Agency [NSA] should not have come as any surprise. Even 60 minutes years ago did a piece on "Echelon"; which is the project supported by the US Government, in league with the British, Australian, and other Western allies to monitor all transmissions. The British listening post is located on the Western coast near the Irish Sea and has a well guarded perimeter. These Big Brother ears guarantee that anything you say, fax or share will be taped, monitored for key words and phrases, and identified for future use without any respect for your civil or human rights.

The question is how should one deport themselves with the Ft. Meade operators listening in by the use of massive computers buried in the Maryland countryside along the beltway. These new protocols have been utilized for a long time by any of us that have international relationships, support any efforts for self determination in foreign lands, or honestly respect movements for freedom and democratic elections. What might these efforts or struggles be? Let's at least include Anti Apartheid, the Irish Good Friday Agreement, and the moral and religious work of CISPES in that list of americans wanting to export true democracy rather that the WTO version of economic dominance. Also we can definitely include those who realize that "democratic elections" held under the guns of an occupying force, whether British, American, South African, or in the past Russian gives room for international scepticism.

The protocols are simple. They already know you are the caller/sender; they can identify the recipient or the location of the receiving phone/fax/ip address. Have the discipline to not mention third persons accept by oblique references, ie. how are our friends on the Jersey shore, or some other arcane reference that is not easily recognized. Whatever your adjusted phone protocols become; remember the axiom that just because you are feeling paranoid does not mean you aren't being followed, watched or listened to. We are living in a George Orwell world peopled by the likes of Admiral Poindexter, of Iran Contra fame, whose wish is to catalog, and monitor everything we free citizens may be reading, discussing or if he could thinking.

The Latest on Diebold (Conny Can You Hear Me?)

Carol and I have been following the saga of Diebold and Conny McCormack/LA County.

In addition to Leon County (FL) dumping Diebold earlier this week because of a "successful" and apparently undetectable hack -- oh, my! -- now Volusia County (FL) has followed suit -- my, oh, my!! But not before Ion Sancho, Director of Elections in Leon County "now believes that such a hack occurred in the 2000 Presidential Election in Volusia County, Florida." Aayyyyyy!!

Brad Blog has been covering these stories in detail. Check the posts here and here.

I just downloaded this white paper from titled "Myth Breakers: Facts About Electronic Elections". (Subtitled: Essential Information For Those Entrusted With Making Decisions About Election Systems in the United States") Should be an interesing read and follow-up, since Conny made the outrageous admission last week to our grassroots organization that she was not all that interested in statistical abnormalities (to characterize them lightly) in Ohio elections:
MODERATOR: I don’t want to go over the same ground, but I’ll ask something about previous problems that we’ve noted in Ohio. Various statisticians, including a group writing for US Count Votes, have prepared scientific papers claiming that the outcome of the 2004 election was statistically impossible to have been so different from the exit polls. What do you think of those claims and do you believe any of these reports about that?

CONNY: Well, you know, I’m not a statistician and I’m also not someone who does polls, so again, it’s outside of the area of my expertise. Do people answer polls differently than they vote? I don’t know. I have no idea if they do or not. When an election’s very close are polls ever very accurate? I don’t know. It’s not an area of expertise for me, so I don’t know why I should be expected to know about polls anywhere in California, let alone in Ohio. All I know is we count the votes as they come into us and we count them as accurately as we can and I don’t rely on polls. Polls are just what they are – they’re a poll is a subset of people that responded to the poll. They’re not everybody’s ballots. But, you know, I don’t think it’s a very fair question to ask me about polls in Ohio. Are you – are you done with your questions?

MODERATOR: (faint) I’m sorry, but we were just asking your opinion of whether that seems possible to you—

CONNY: Well, you know, I don’t know. I mean, it’s just not my area of expertise to know whether or not it’s possible or not. I’ve read the same articles. I certainly have read them....

Taking her last comment at face value, she may have read them, but our county's chief election officer apparently didn't think it important enough to get these claims evaluated by our own local experts. Outrageous.

Friday, December 16, 2005

A Mushroom Cloud of Lies and Deception Is Enveloping and Endangering Our Nation

But as many, many more people of goodwill and insight are coming to realize this, perhaps there's hope for us after all. It takes more than just realizing it, however, we have to actively do something about it. Or our children will surely suffer, unless they are among the "chosen few."

Get involved politically. Now. Write letters to your representatives and newspapers, talk to your neighbors, volunteer for a local candidate you believe in. The history books are filled with evil and duplicitous leaders who did not take power, but who were voted into power.

Someone else will not do it.... you have to do it.

The rapture is not an exit strategy.

First They Want To Force Evolution On Us... And Now This??

WP: Scientists Find A DNA Change That Accounts For White Skin

Scientists said yesterday that they have discovered a tiny genetic mutation that largely explains the first appearance of white skin in humans tens of thousands of years ago, a finding that helps solve one of biology's most enduring mysteries and illuminates one of humanity's greatest sources of strife.

The work suggests that the skin-whitening mutation occurred by chance in a single individual after the first human exodus from Africa, when all people were brown-skinned. That person's offspring apparently thrived as humans moved northward into what is now Europe, helping to give rise to the lightest of the world's races.

the rest...

House of Reps Win the War on Christmas

Last night I was watching Countdown with Keith Olbermann, enjoying his nicely dry snark, when I found myself suprised, yet again, by stupidity in Congress. Keith reported on a resolution which had been debated in the House: HR 579, "Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the symbols and traditions of Christmas should be protected."

Because, heaven knows, this is something that needs to be legislated by Congress. There is absolutely nothing else going on in this country that needs the House's attention more than the protection of Christmas.

Worse yet? The House legitimized this bullshit resolution by debating it on the floor for forty minutes and then passing it, overwhelmingly, with a vote of 401 - 22.

But wait, there's more! When Democratic leaders asked that Hanukkah be included in the language of the resolution, the brain trust that authored HR 579 - one Jo Ann Davis of Virginia - said, "Nuh uh. And you can't make me!" Or words to that effect.

Why am I even surprised any more?

Thank heavens one Democratic representative stepped up to the plate and expressed the proper distain for 579. What's more, John D. Dingell of Michigan did so in a poem:
'Twas the week before Christmas and all through the House,
no bills were passed `bout which Fox News could grouse.
Tax cuts for the wealthy were passed with great cheer,
so vacations in St. Barts soon should be near.

Katrina kids were all nestled snug in motel beds,
while visions of school and home danced in their heads.
In Iraq, our soldiers need supplies and a plan,
and nuclear weapons are being built in Iran.

Gas prices shot up, consumer confidence fell.
Americans feared we were in a fast track to ..... well.
Wait, we need a distraction, something divisive and wily,
a fabrication straight from the mouth of O'Reilly.

We will pretend Christmas is under attack,
hold a vote to save it, then pat ourselves on the back.
Silent Night, First Noel, Away in the Manger,
Wake up Congress, they're in no danger.

This time of year, we see Christmas everywhere we go,
From churches to homes to schools and, yes, even Costco.
What we have is an attempt to divide and destroy
when this is the season to unite us with joy.

At Christmastime, we're taught to unite.
We don't need a made-up reason to fight.
So on O'Reilly, on Hannity, on Coulter and those right-wing blogs.
You should sit back and relax, have a few egg nogs.

'Tis the holiday season; enjoy it a pinch.
With all our real problems, do we really need another Grinch?
So to my friends and my colleagues, I say with delight,
a Merry Christmas to all, and to Bill O'Reilly, happy holidays.
Ho, ho, ho. Merry Christmas."

Christmas Colors

Baghdad, Iraq: Green Zone

Washington, DC, USA: Red Zones

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Oh Ralphs, How Could Ya?

I remember during the grocery workers strike in Southern California two years ago there was talk about Ralphs and, perhaps other, supermarkets secretly "rehiring" striking/locked out workers under less than kosher circumstances.

Well, a federal grand jury evidently found enough evidence to bring a 53-count criminal indictment against the company.

LA Times:
Ralphs used fake names and Social Security numbers and falsified thousands of employee records sent to various government agencies to conceal the rehiring effort, the 53-count indictment alleged.

If convicted on all counts, Ralphs and its parent company, Kroger Co., could face fines totaling more than $100 million, as well as back pay and restitution for Ralphs workers and their union, the United Food and Commercial Workers, prosecutors said.

Ralphs orchestrated the rehiring to better weather the strike and lockout that pitted Ralphs and two other major chains against the UFCW for more than four months, the 106-page indictment alleged. The violations reflected "tacit approval, if not encouragement, by Ralphs' senior management," the indictment alleged.

the rest...
I have no sympathy for Ralphs and the other supermarkets. Didn't have much before the strike and certainly not during. I, and undoubtedly hundreds of thousands of SoCal residents, changed our shopping habits during the strike/lock out -- finding that other stores like Trader Joe's satisfied more of our shopping needs -- and haven't changed back. (Ask me another time how I feel about the workers.)

My cat, Ralph, 1982-2002

McCain's Ban On Torture Does Not Address Rendition

In the Associated Press story by Liz Sidoti on the Bush White House acceptance of US Senator John
McCain's Ban On Torture; the agreement to language on such a ban and interrogation standards woefully
does not address the practice of "Rendition"! In the AP article posted this afternoon "Bush said that the
ban and accompanying interrogation standards will ' make it clear to the world that this government does
not torture.....' "

Secretary of State Condolezza Rice " During a trip to Europe last week, was pressed repeatedly on the
topic, finally saying that ' as a matter of U.S. Policy, such treatment was banned for U.S. personnel wherever
they are ."

You will notice in both cases, the quotes from the Administration address that the government or U.S.
personnel do not torture. The allows a holland tunnel size exception in the case of the practice of
"Rendition". This practice is the widely recognized, but never admitted practice of rendering a prisoner
or detainee for interrogation to a foreign agency for what might well be practices that we ourselves
cannot do! In granting CIA operatives the same exemptions and defenses that U.S. Military Personnel
are given, also would not technically cover the acts of foreign nationals or operatives recruited by our
Intelligence Agencies in the field but not employees of, nor classified as U.S. personnel.

At the end of the Day a detainee could be subjected to sensory deprivation, water torture, lack of
sleep or other physically damaging treatment along with all the catalog of psychological deprivations
that the United Nations, Amnesty International, or Human Rights Watch consider as torture and not
be in violation of this current panacea for the damaged reputation of our country around the world.

Until Rendition is addressed and repudiated the posturing of the current administration on human rights,
the Geneva Convention, and the treatment of "Confined Prisoners of Interest" will be just so much
smoke and mirrors.

Trusting Diebold Software? Not A Chance.

As Randy mentioned last week, L.A. County's Registrar of Voters, Conny McCormack, spoke at the December meeting for Valley Grassroots for Democracy. Speaking only for myself, I wasn't very impressed with her, but one thing she said really stood out. She said, several times, that we just shouldn't worry about the proprietary software in electronic voting systems, that such paranoia and concern were unfounded because she knew of no evidence that the software had been compromised.

Unfortunately, due to my own emotions, I forgot to question her about Harry Hursti's successful hacking of a Diebold optical scanner in Leon County, Florida this May. Guess what? Additional testing in Leon County exposed vulnerability to hacking in Diebold machines:
A political operative with hacking skills could alter the results of any election on Diebold-made voting machines -- and possibly other new voting systems in Florida -- according to the state capital's election supervisor, who said Diebold software has failed repeated tests.

Ion Sancho, Leon County's election chief, said tests by two computer experts, completed this week, showed that an insider could surreptitiously change vote results and the number of ballots cast on Diebold's optical-scan machines.
Ms. McCormack, still think we're just being paranoid?

(Tip o' the hat to The Democratic Daily for the story.)

Light Reading for Political Junkies

By this time we all know that pretty much everything that comes out of Bush's mouth is contradictory to his actions, if not out and out lying. But it's nice to have so much of it in one place, with links.

Nice job, Daily Constitutional.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Day 1,000 (Mar 19, 2003 - Dec 12, 2005)

From The Independent (London, UK) "The war in numbers: From WMD to the victims"

$204.4billion The cost to the US of the war so far. The UK's bill up until March 2005 was £3.1 billion

2,339 Allied troops killed

98 UK troops killed

30,000 Estimated Iraqi civilian deaths

0 Number of WMDs found

8 per cent of Iraqi children suffering acute malnutrition

$35,819m World Bank estimated cost of reconstruction

53,470 Iraqi insurgents killed

67 per cent Iraqis who feel less secure because of occupation

$343 Average monthly salary for an Iraqi soldier. Average monthly salary for an American soldier in Iraq: $4,160.75

66 journalists killed in Iraq. Journalists killed during Vietnam war: 63

5 foreign civilians kidnapped per month

47 per cent Iraqis who never have enough electricity

20 casualties per month from unexploded mines

20 per cent Inflation rate 2005

25-40 per cent Estimated unemployment rate, Nov 2005

251 Foreigners kidnapped

70 per cent of Iraqi's whose sewage system rarely works

183,000 British and American troops are still in action in Iraq. There are 162,000 US troops and 8,000 British with 13,000 from other nations

90 Daily attacks by insurgents in Nov '05. In Jun '03: 8

82 per cent Iraqis who are "strongly opposed" to presence of coalition troops

15,955 US troops wounded in action

What Would Kansas Say?

Lee Lorenz, The New Yorker, 11-21-2005

Monday, December 12, 2005

Sam Seder Declares War on Christmas

I don't particularly care for Sam Seder (Majority Report, on Air America) so I listen to him rarely, and even less for his (on leave of absence) partner on the show, Janeane Garofalo... her often-kneejerk politics, that is. I really enjoy her as a comic actress.

However, this is hilarious... and effective: Sam "debating" the War on Christmas on CNN. Video at C&L.

Tookie Williams to Die Early Tuesday

From ABC News:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger refused to block the execution of Stanley Tookie Williams, rejecting the notion that the founder of the murderous Crips gang had atoned for his crimes and found redemption on death row.


But Schwarzenegger suggested Monday that Williams' supposed change of heart was not genuine, noting that the inmate had not owned up to his crimes or shown any real remorse for the countless killings committed by the Crips.

"Is Williams' redemption complete and sincere, or is it just a hollow promise?" Schwarzenegger wrote less than 12 hours before the execution. "Without an apology and atonement for these senseless and brutal killings, there can be no redemption."
What a horrible thing. As I mentioned previously I am categorically against the death penalty, as I see it as nothing more than a state-sanctioned revenge murder. Leaving aside that, evidence points to Williams having realized the horrible harm his actions as a youth had wrought as he worked to turn children away from gang life.

Did Williams commit the murders he was convicted for? He says no and there is a possibility that the case against him was flawed. Is he in some way responsible for the murders that were committed by a gang that he started? I say: yes. The chances are pretty damned good that, even if he didn't commit the four murders in 1979, he may have killed others. Should Williams have been released? No. And I haven't heard that anyone asking he be granted clemency demand that he be released. Only that his sentence be commuted to life without parole.

But he shouldn't die. If his actions since his first children's book isn't evidence of trying to redeem himself and to better the lives of at-risk youth around the world, then what is? What is sufficient proof for Schwarzenegger? Wailing and begging and self-flagellation? From what I can tell, that wasn't Williams' style.

If nothing he's done shows that he's redeemed himself, then what does the word redemption mean to our governor and the courts? Apparently nothing. Which means that everyone in prison hasn't got a chance in hell of redeeming themselves anyway, so why not just kill all of them? Why even try for appeals? If we're going to kill one, why not kill them all?

What's that? You say that's barbaric?

My point exactly. In my mind there are only three instances in which murder is acceptable: defense of one's self, defense of one's loved ones, and true defense of one's country (not the obscenity currently happening in Iraq). But even those instances don't change the fact that murder is barbaric.

No matter the victim. No matter the perpetrator.

Keeping an Eye on the Crooks and Liars

John Amato, one of our favorite bloggers (Crooks and Liars), and an L.A. local, was interviewed in yesterday's LA Times Magazine... "Meet the Truth Squad". Check it out here.

Pssssttt.... John's on the right in this photo from Jane Hamsher (firedoglake), another of our favorite bloggers.

Texas Redistricting Back In Court

From AP: The Supreme Court said Monday it would consider the constitutionality of a Texas congressional map engineered by Rep. map engineered by Rep. Tom DeLay that helped Republicans gain seats in Congress.

The 2003 boundaries helped Republicans win 21 of the state's 32 seats in Congress in the last election, up from 15. They were approved amid a nasty battle between Republican leaders and Democrats and minority groups in Texas.

The contentiousness also reached Washington, where the Justice Department approved the plan although staff lawyers concluded that it diluted minority voting rights. Because of past discrimination against minority voters, Texas is required to get Justice Department approval for any voting changes to ensure they don't undercut minority voting.

the rest....

Verrrrrrrry interesting...

Note that Texas was redistricted after the Republicans gained control of the state legislature in 2002, aided by the money laundering that DeLay and company are now accused of.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Letting New Orleans Die

While $300 billion is a perfectly acceptable amount to allocate to the invasion of a sovreign nation, apparently spending $32 billion to protect what's left of New Orleans so that it might have to chance to permanently rebuild is just too much for the US budget to bear.

All we can do, as Ray in Austin recommends, is to write our elected representatives. And throw Bush & Co. out of office.

Let's do all we can do.

Fox Leads the War on Christmas

As many of y'all know, good ol' Bill O'Reilly, in trying to stem what he sees as the systemic secularization of Christmas (ignoring, of course, that such secularization was started years ago by corporations, not the average liberal joe), has ferreted out a non-existent War on Christmas. In his haste to vilify those who would dare to show sensitivity to ALL religions that celebrate holidays in December, he seems to have over-looked one of the prime movers in consolidating the holidays: Fox.

Fox is the home network for the popular series, The O.C., which introduced a new holiday into pop-culture vernacular last year - Chrismukkah, a hybrid of Christmas and Hanukkah, perfect for Christian/Jewish interfaith families. It's become big enough to spawn a Chrismukkah card website and Chrismukkah menu at Loews Hotel restarants.

Maybe O'Reilly had better look to his own bosses. It may be time for him to add Fox to his possible list of companies to boycott. With luck, that'll mean he'll leave the airwaves.

The man is such a pompous, egostistical nutbag that it'll never happen, but it sure is a nice dream...

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Schwarzenegger Still Undecided On Clemency

From Reuters:
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will not decide on Saturday whether to grant clemency to former Crips gang leader Stanley Tookie Williams, who is slated to be executed on Tuesday for murdering four people in 1979, his office said.

Barring clemency or last-minute court intervention, officials will administer a lethal injection to Williams at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday in the death chamber at San Quentin State Prison.

The case has generated widespread interest and fierce debate over the death penalty in the United States because Williams, 51, has written a series of books warning young people against gangs and says he has found redemption.
I hope that Schwarzenegger will pardon Williams. It's true that I'm against state-sponsored murder. But aside from that, there is every indication that Williams has repented for his role in starting the Crips. He has worked hard to turn children away from following the same path that he has walked. Murdering him would do society no good.

Three days left, Governor. What are you waiting for?

Meet & Greet with Steve Westly

Today SoCal Grassroots - in conjunction with Valley Grassroots for Democracy - hosted a Meet and Greet with Steve Westly, current controller for California and 2006 Gubernatorial Candidate. As you may have guessed, your humble contributor attended.

Unfortunately, due to the infamous Los Angeles traffic, I didn't arrive until the event had been underway for an hour. Thankfully I didn't miss Controller Westly's talk to the gathered group of progressives.

He spoke to the usual progressive talking points: universal health care, funding education for children starting in pre-school, environmental issues and, in answering a question from the audience, his full support of same-sex marriage. Very sincere in his support of all these issues, but they are the bread and butter of progressive candidates. As they should be.

Where he differed was when he spoke of ways to fund programs. He spoke about his record as controller, how he has managed to reduce the deficit in California without raising taxes by using "found money," i.e. collecting taxes from corporations that were owed to the state (amongst other methods). And he promised to use the same sort of financial acumen to help California.

There was no opportunity for me to meet with him, as he had to leave for the airport immediately after he addressed the group.

My impressions? He spoke well. When I saw him address the Women's Caucus at the California Democratic Convention in April, I found him too polished. It didn't feel as if he spoke to me. This time I was more favorably impressed. Perhaps it was that the smaller group gave a more intimate feeling. I can't really say.

I will say that I think he makes a fine candidate. Personally I've been leaning towards Phil Angelides, but I'm happy that I got a chance to see Controller Westly speak again. It's good to know that we've got good Democratic candidates out there who could very likely win the governorship.

Nicely done, Mr. Westly. Very nicely done.

Eugene McCarthy

Eugene McCarthy

Friday, December 09, 2005

Guest Entry: The Red, White, and Bluelag Archipelago

by Jim Etchison

I must admit, it's exhausting to be a critic of the Bush administration. They provide such a ominous list of things to criticize that after awhile you just run out of breath. You want to say "fuck it" and play Tetris until 2008. I’ve seen this burnout in myself, and I’ve seen it in some of my progressive blogging compatriots.

But the fact is, Bush is not relenting on his agenda, so we should not relent on ours. Recently, we all learned that prisoners have been detained by the US in secret prisons in Eastern Europe.

The Bush Doctrine was portrayed as having the goal of "extending democracy, security, and liberty to all regions," but has debased itself to putting other nations at risk of terrorist attack so that the CIA could continue unabated with their agenda of torture without being pestered by the likes of Amnesty International and the American Red Cross.

Bush's blatant disregard for diplomacy started when he disregarded the United Nations' recommendation of continued non-violent measures Iraq. It continues now with his refusal to answer the world regarding the discovery of these "black sites." Reuters reports that Amnesty claims "we are mocking international law."

The Bush Administration promised the world last week that they would respond. The fact that their response is so slow in coming betrays exactly how damaging this allegation is. It takes time to weave a brilliant lie, and that is, in this writer’s opinion, exactly what is going on in the oval office right now. Our straight-shooting President and his team are working out their story. I can’t wait to see what they come up with.

There should not be a fine line between extending democracy, security and liberty to all regions, and being an international war criminal. But apparently there is, which might indicate that the Bush Doctrine is flawed.

Where are the democrats with balls big enough to impeach Bush? I trust they are building their case, and will launch their attack when the time is right. Yes, that must be it.

Until then, us bloggers must stay the course, and continue to narrowcast our opinions. Even though our voices are relatively puny, if enough of us keep up the pressure, it might just make the difference between the Bush years starting the dusk of the Age of Reason, and it merely being a brief eclipse.

SoCal resident Jim Etchison is a Renaissance man: writer, manager, father, poker player and many other words ending in "er". More of his writing, including criticism of Bush and his cronies, can be found at The Meat of the Matter. He is also the man behind BooYahoo!, which has garnered national attention from the New York Times, Jim Hightower, Reporters Without Borders and Amnesty International. Jim also likes meat.

In Search of…Accurate Rally Counts

Rallies. Protests. The bread and butter of the grassroots activist, right up there with petitioning. Unlike petitioning, however, we do not have accurate counts of those who choose to use sheer numbers of their bodies to make their wishes known. Every news story reporting such activities - when the MSM decides to cover a rally or protest, that is - merely uses phrases such as, "organizers claim that approximately 25,000 protestors were present," or, "an estimated 800 participants showed up, according to organizers." Hardly scientific. In fact, such imprecision, even when organizers claims are reported, fosters dispute by government, the media and the opposition.

While it is true that, in some cases, numbers can be extrapolated by using security cameras - as was done with protestors at the 2004 Republican Convention in New York - that is still very inaccurate. Nor is it an option that is always, or even frequently, available. And the final count will always remain in dispute.

"Big deal," you say. "As long as we show up, they'll know what we're thinking and that's all that matters."

Wrong. This is a numbers game, pure and simple. There are several reasons we get out there on the streets and march with our signs, or stand on street corners with placards: We want as many people as possible to join us. We want to educate the public. But in these difficult times we especially want those in authority to know that things need to change. To notice that the numbers that agree with us are growing every single day.

During the Three Days of Actions for Peace & Justice in DC in September, there were conflicting reports about the number of people who had shown up to march on Saturday, September 24th. About halfway through the march word reached some of us that CNN had reported over 500,000 people had converged on the streets of Washington, DC. It was later discovered that those counts were unfounded. On the opposite end friends here in California had heard on various networks that less than 100,000 marchers were in attendance. A count that had definitely been low-balled, as there were no doubts to those of us there that somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 protestors showed up to make their wishes known. Perhaps even more.

When numbers are underreported, it makes it seem as if the growing anti-war sentiment just isn't that big a deal. It hurts us when the numbers are huge, such as the anti-war march in September in DC (and with similar marches around the country). And it hurts us even more when the numbers are smaller.

Read more of In Search of…Accurate Rally Counts

He Knows Where You've Been Sleeping...

NY Times: Conservative groups are running ads in Colorado, Wisconsin and West Virginia, portraying Samuel Alito as the protector of Christmas.

Finally! The real-life sequel to the 1996 Hulk Hogan movie "Santa With Muscles" . The actual movie tagline "He's naughty, He's nice, and He's coming to save Christmas." IMDB rates it as the 5th worst movie of all time.

Not too sure here how naughty or nice Alito is.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Onward Diebold Soldiers

Conny McCormack, LA County Registar-Recorder/County Clerk was the guest last night at Valley Grassroots For Democracy's monthly meeting, speaking on electronic voting systems, a subject of major concern to the grassroots. Her performance was... let's say "spotty." More on this later....


Voting officials across the country are struggling -- with varying degrees of success -- to deal effectively with these new technologies, and....


Michael Petrelis reports on a Diebold executive making political contributions (to Ohio Senator Mike DeWine, Republican) in violation of a standing company policy... follow Michael here, here and here, and....

In North Carolina, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a court complaint Thursday aimed at blocking North Carolina's recent certifications of voting machines, saying state elections officials failed to meet legal requirements before signing off on the systems.


Someone would have to be living in a cave, one without wireless net access of course, to not know that today was the 25th anniversary of John Lennon's death. I've always loved The Beatles, not so much Lennon on his own, but he was undoubtedly one of the premiere musical talents of our (my) age. That said, I'll leave it to others to tell his story.

A few months from now will also mark the 25th anniversary of the death of another wonderful musician/storyteller and a great human being who was cut short in his prime. I loved Harry Chapin. But July 16, 2006 will probably come and go without much notice, so I'll commemorate him now.

From a Rolling Stone obituary, September 3, 1981, "Harry Chapin: 1942-1981":

Harry Chapin often described himself as a "third-rate folk singer," and judging from most of the reviews he received in these pages and elsewhere, he wasn't only kidding. Yet Harry Chapin was something more than that. For many who knew him, he was a legitimate hero, not so much for his music as for his consistent and conscientious willingness to fight the right battles, to stand up for a just cause, no matter how hopeless.

When his friends and political associates -- from Mary Rogol and Bill Ayres of World Hunger Year to Ralph Nader and Representative Tom Downey -- spoke of Chapin after his death in an auto accident on the Long Island Expressway July 16th, the word they all used was *fearless*. "It was the one quality of Harry's that I admired most," said Rogol. "Harry was never afraid. Not just physically. Where most people feared embarrassment, being laughed at or rejected, Harry just went right ahead. He just wanted to know what was right and what was the best way to accomplish it. That's real courage."

As Chapin was the first to acknowledge, such bravery isn't cool, for it lacks the necessary arm's-length distance from the world and its problems. And it was that lack of cool that gave Chapin his negative image. It always gnawed at him that he never got particularly good reviews. He made jokes about what the critics had to say: that he was preachy and didactic, a simplistic and woeful singer, a careless craftsman in the studio, emotionally overwrought onstage. I still can't see that these criticisms were wrong, but I know they weren't entirely correct, either.

Harry Chapin's function in the music world was not to be cool. He was *supposed* to be awkward and overtly unhip; he was *supposed* to stand in contrast to the glibness and callousness of many of his peers. If the ungainly accents and sputtering diction of some of Chapin's songs can't kill their power, that is because more important things than simple aesthetics are at work in those tunes, and because Chapin wasn't working in a pop context of craftsmanship and cool but from the folk-music traditions of the American left.
[Senator Patrick] Leahy's eulogy was well written and moving, but what I'll always recall was what he said before he read it: "You know, I think I've shed more tears in the last few days than at any other time in my adult life."

On the floor of Congress, the reaction was very similar. No other singer -- not Bing Crosby, nor Elvis Presley, nor John Lennon -- has ever been so widely honored by the nation's legislators. Nine senators and thirty congressmen paid tribute to Harry Chapin on the floor, and not all of them were the kind of liberal Democrats on whose behalf Harry had campaigned so long and hard last fall. No less a conservative than Senator Robert Dole of Kansas, not exactly known for his political generosity of spirit, called Chapin "a liberal, and a liberal in the best sense of the word. He possessed a spirit of generosity and optimism that carried him through his various commitments with a great sense of seriousness and purpose... What he was really committed to was decency and dignity."


Harry was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor in 1987 for his tireless work on social issues, most notably world hunger. He was a key player in the creation of the Presidential Commission on World Hunger in 1977.

As I've been writing this for the last hour or so, I've been listening continuously to "Taxi", Harry's first big hit from 1972. Some songs you just can't get tired of listening to... "Taxi" is one of them. Listen to it here: Windows Media or Real Audio.

Oh, I've got something inside me
To drive a princess blind
There's a wild man, wizard
He's hiding in me, illuminating my mind
Oh, I've got something inside me
Not what my life's about
'Cause I've been letting my outside tide me
Over 'til my time, runs out

"When in doubt, do something"
-Harry Chapin
BTW, Harry would have been 63 yesterday.

Andrew Sullivan Takes on John Bolton

From Sullivan...
"I think it is inappropriate and illegitimate for an international civil servant to second-guess the conduct that we're engaged in in the war on terror, with nothing more as evidence than what she reads in the newspapers." - John Bolton, our U.N. ambassador (quoted in WaPo)

Bolton is surely aware that the evidence that the U.S. has engaged in torture, and "cruel, inhuman and degrading" treatment of detainees may be found in more than just the newspapers. Has he read his own briefs? He could also read the Schmidt Report, the Jones-Fay Report, the Taguba Report, the Schlesinger Report, the Bybee memo, the Yoo argument, the reports from the International Red Cross, and on and on. His own government has provided ample evidence of its own violation of American law and basic human rights. What you find in Bolton is something democratically repulsive...


Applaud, Dammit!

From Think Progress:
The Washington Post reports that, at yesterday’s speech for the Council on Foreign Relations, President Bush had trouble filling the room

Only a few hundred members showed up for the hastily organized event at a Washington hotel and empty chairs were removed from the back of the ballroom before Bush arrived.

It wasn’t for lack of effort. We were forwarded this desperate plea the Council sent out late Tuesday, asking people who were planning on coming to bring a friend:
Bush broke Council tradition by refusing to accept questions after his speech. Apparently, most people aren’t that excited about being used as a presidential prop. This may explain why Bush has preferred giving his speeches in front of military audiences, who are required to attend.
Note: John Murtha responds (video) ...

More: Dan Froomkin in WaPo reflects on the veracity of Dubya's claims...

More, more: Transcript and audio of speech...

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


Michael Schiavo has formed TerriPAC, a political action committee devoted to defeating the Bible-thumping politicians who used his comatose wife as a football.

From the web site:
“The easiest thing would be to move on and let the headlines fade,” Schiavo said. “But my experience with our political leaders has opened my eyes to just how easily the private wishes of normal Americans like me and Terri can be cast aside in the destructive game of political pandering. The best way to hold them accountable is to make sure voters know where the candidates stand when they come looking for votes next November.”
This is a great move. The Christian right and their pandering politician friends will not be happy -- and even then they probably will not be -- until they control every aspect of our lives. Thanx, but no thanx. Keep your so-called "morals" and "values" to yourself. (And I should refer to them as so-called "Christians" as well.)

Results: 48th Congressional District Election

I was in Orange County for much of yesterday, putting in a few hours helping out Steve Young and his campaign. Despite the hard work of Steve, his campaign workers and many grassroots activists, the congressional seat was won by John Campbell, the Republican candidate.

It's not surprising, and not just because Orange County is notoriously difficult for Democratic candidates. After all, with DCCC's refusal to put money behind Steve, it's hard to pull ahead.

What is surprising is that approximately 25% of voters turned out to support the founder of the Minutemen, freaking Jim Gilchrist. When people vote for a racist because he purports to have an answer to immigration problems, there are serious problems.

For results, go here.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Rice (addendum): "Just watch out for my shoes when you pull the trigger"

As evidenced before by her NYC fling during Katrina, Condi loves her fancy shoes.

ReddHedd (firedoglake) has a fun take on Condi's Europe trip:
Poor Condi. In Europe before Christmas . . . and no time for shopping.

The rest...

Rice's Troubleshooting Shoots US In the Foot

From today's Financial Times, Rice’s European troubleshooting fails threefold:
In her response to allegations about the Central Intelligence Agency’s activities in Europe, the US secretary of state failed to get to grips with European perceptions that President George W. Bush’s America is a wild, brutal place that contrasts with the peaceful, law-abiding EU.
While it's true that Rice seems to have shot her boss in the foot with her attempts at justification of rendition (transporting suspects from third countries without the say-so of a judge), unfortunately the rest of us have been wounded by the flying shrapnel.

Monday, December 05, 2005

National Call-In Day on Iraq War

On Tuesday, December 6, Congress will reconvene in Washington, D.C. United for Peace and Justice, in conjunction with Win Without War, is calling for a massive national grassroots call-in day against the war.

More info at UPJ here. Also at After Downing Street and at Progressive Democrats of America.

ACTION ALERT: Final GOTV Push for Orange County Special Congressional Election

[Bumping to top - election almost upon us!]

All Orange County voters: be sure to vote for your representative in Congress. Information on the election and the candidates can be found at the Orange County Registrar's site.

The Democratic candidate is Steve Young, who has been endorsed by numerous local and national progressive organizations, including Orange County Grassroots and Progressive Democrats of America. Find out more about Steve by going to his website,

There is a Final GOTV Push for Steve in the days leading up to the election and there are volunteer opportunities - on Sunday, December 4th the Irvine headquarters will need people to assemble GOTV kits and brochures and on Election Day poll watchers will be needed throughout Orange County.

Additional ways you can help: donate on SoCal Grassroot's Act Blue page, contact Steve's campaign headquarters at (949) 640-4400 or fill out his volunteer page to sign up for precinct walking and virtual phone banking.

Help Steve to turn Orange County blue!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

ACTION ALERT: Sign Senator Debra Bowen's Petition - Require That Diebold Voting Machines Pass the Hack Test!

From State Senator Debra Bowen:
Diebold voting machines must pass the hack test!

It's time to restore the public's trust in how our votes are counted here in California. But, if Republican Secretary of State Bruce McPherson has his way, that may not happen.

With a January 1, 2006 deadline looming, Secretary of State McPherson is considering recertification of Diebold electronic voting machines for use in California elections, even though recent studies have shown failure rates of up to 20% on some Diebold systems.

That's outrageous! The very integrity of our elections is on the line -- and the people of California deserve a thorough, rigorous testing of these Diebold voting machines before they're used in our state ever again.

Tell Secretary of State Bruce McPherson to thoroughly test the Diebold electronic voting machines before even considering using them in the next California election!
Please sign Senator Bowen's petition immediately! We need to let McPherson know, yet again, that Californian voters will not stand idly by while Diebold and similar companies attempt to hijack our elections.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Bush: But We've Always Had A Strategy! Honest!

Today Bush is planning to answer his critics by speechifying at poor Naval cadets. As if the cadets don't have it hard enough as it is.

My favorite part of the article?
The White House plans to release a document on the national strategy for victory in Iraq, which officials say will mainly reiterate policies that have already been in place.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan described the document as "an unclassified version of the plan that we have had in place and the plan that we've been pursuing."
They've actually been pursuing a plan? Sounds like more rewriting of history to me...

Cunningham Cries, "Mea Culpa"; Bush Bleats, "Bad Boy!"

On Monday U.S. Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham confessed to accepting bribes from several defense contractors and resigned his seat in Congress:
Cunningham, who denied any wrongdoing in July, said he was deeply sorry and ashamed and would cooperate in the government investigation of at least four defense contractors.

"I broke the law, concealed my conduct and disgraced my office. I know that I will forfeit my freedom, my reputation, my worldly possessions, most importantly, the trust of my friends and family," he said, choking back tears.


Cunningham is a member of the House intelligence committee and the appropriations sub-committee that controls defense spending.

"Yes, your honor," Cunningham said when Judge Larry Burns asked him if he had accepted bribes in return for influencing the award of tens of millions of dollars in defense contracts.
Surprisingly, Bush entered the real world, however briefly, and took Cunningham to task:
"Any member of Congress, Republican or Democrat, must take their office seriously and the ethics seriously," Bush said to reporters during a trip to Texas.

"The idea of a congressman taking money is outrageous. And Congressman Cunningham is going to realize that he has broken the law and is going to pay a serious price, which he should," Bush said.
Thing is, unlike Bush, Cunningham has realized that he has broken the law. That's why he said that he knew he was forfeiting his freedom. Perhaps Bush doesn't know what "forfeit" means. It's only recently that he learned the meaning of "ethics." Perhaps that's why he's using the word whenever possible.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Violence is Spreading

From AP: Next 'Apprentice' to be shot in Calif.

Just imagine what's gonna happen to the losers...

The Name's Hackett... Paul Hackett

I looked up "After Hours" on IMDB the other day... one of Martin Scorsese's lesser known gems, a very dark, funny and disturbing film.

And so I discovered that the main character's name is Paul Hackett, as in Paul Hackett of Ohio, near-winner in OH-2 and currently running for the U.S. Senate.

And then I got curious and looked further: Seems there have been 4 movie characters named Paul Hackett, including.... get this.... a Major Paul Hackett in the movie "Extreme Prejudice".

And then I got curiouser and looked even further: A French movie named "Les Clowns de Dieu" (The Clowns of God) was directed by a Jean Schmidt. Well, not that Jean Schmidt, but The Clowns of God... you can't make this stuff up.

And just for final good measure, the 1931 movie "The Ruling Voice" had a character named Dick Cheney. Foreshadowing.... undoubtedly.

A Swift Wiki is Swiftly Corrected

I've frequently linked to Wikipedia in this blog, as I find it the best encyclopedia on the Net.... constantly updated, comprehensive, great cross-referencing, and it's owned/updated by its users. (The only downside I've found is that it often runs slowly, probably because it's so popular.)

In the last day, the entry for Swiftboating has been in quite a whirlwind. A few hours ago, Crooks and Liars reported that the entry started thusly:
"Swiftboating is American political jargon for truthful and accurate debunking of John Kerry's exaggerated military experience in Vietnam. The Swift Boat Veterans For Truth organization's ads against Democratic presidential candidate Senator John F. Kerry in the 2004 election campaign revealed the candidate to be untruthful in his representation of his military record. Swiftboating is a new political term for exposing the truth while being under constant attack from those that desperately want to believe the lie. "
As of this writing, just a few hours later, the entry has been reverted to its original content (with the page "temporarily protected from editing to deal with vandalism"):
Swiftboating is American political jargon for the sensationalized portrayal of John Kerry's decorated military experience in Vietnam. The Swift Boat Veterans For Truth organization's ads against Democratic presidential candidate Senator John F. Kerry in the 2004 presidential election campaign alleged that Senator Kerry was being untruthful in his representation of his military record. All available military records support Senator Kerry's accounts of his own service.
What will it look like when you view it now?

Wow!! Regarding Wikipedia "vandalism": A 2002 study by IBM found that most vandalism on the English Wikipedia is reverted within five minutes (see official results).