Filtered news 11/1

Be thankful for independent courts (as long as they last) Judge of the Denver Three (folks kicked out of Bush Social Security event for not being true believers).

"Scary" is right ... I saw a Daily Show montage this morning in which every Republican candidate shouted some version of the argument that Democrats would "raise taxes" and "lose the war" in Iraq. said the same thing yesterday. I get pretty depressed by the state of the world when I see this kind of thing because of how stupid these people assume voters must be. Who started this war that we are now losing and will continue losing until we've finally admitted we lost? Who destroyed the fiscal balance they inherited from the Clinton administration and helped cause the single worst reversal of fiscal fortune in the country's history? And just how would a Democratic House or Senate "raise taxes" without Bush's signature on a bill? Does anyone think they are about to assume a "veto-proof" majority? In other words, the Republicans are running a campaign on what is, whatever you happen to believe politically, pure nonsense. And not only do they expect it to work, none of the smart-guy pundits think to call them on it. Sad, sad, sad, particularly when you think about how many hundreds of thousands of people must die in Iraq and elsewhere, for this idiocy.

The George Allen thug saga Mike Stark, the fellow who was treated like a tackling dummy by Senator George Allen's staff yesterday, that Allen fire his staffers and saying he's pressing charges against Allen himself. "I spent four years in the Marine Corps. I'll be damned if I'll let my country be taken from me by thugs that are afraid of taking responsibility for themselves." Stark to Washington Post: And no, Stark says, there wasn't any heckling or yelling before Allen staffers started pushing and shoving him. The video clip posted from CNN gives a better view of exactly what happened. As far as I can tell there was no heckling or raised voices before the Allen staffers started grabbing and pushing the guy. Stark ; and he's pressing charges against the Allen staffers too. John Aravosis has a of Stark being put in a choke hold and hurled to the floor. Aren't there laws against attacking someone like this? I mean, first they call a guy macaca, then they're assaulting people asking questions. I mean, sheesh, what happens next? He just starts picking off dudes in the audience from behind the podium with a TEC-9? That's one dangerous campaign.

He's on the highway to Hell P. W. Botha, “the South African leader who struggled vainly to preserve apartheid rule in a tide of domestic racial violence and global condemnation,” . Botha was in power when conservatives, including Vice President Cheney, .

How's that Iraq thing going? “A classified briefing prepared two weeks ago by the United States Central Command portrays Iraq as .” One states that urban areas are “experiencing ‘ethnic cleansing’ campaigns” and that violence is at an “all-time high.”

It's OK when "we" fix the vote, but not when "they" do it So let me get this straight. Diebold, an electronic voting machine company with spotty record run by extremely , not a problem. , made by Hart InterCivic, that just happen to cut off the name of the Democratic candidate in three of the most liberal areas of the state, not a problem. (Or a problem that’s not fixable until after the election, according to the Virginia board of elections. And wasn’t the whole point of electronic voting machines supposed to be that such problems could be simply reprogrammed…but I digress.) What’s the electronic voting machine scandal that makes the front of the New York Times and all the nightly newscasts? The implication that , an American voting machine company that has Venezuelan investors, must naturally be under the influence of lefty strongman Hugo “el Diablo” Chavez. Do we really think that Hugo Chavez's master plan to take over the world involves a multi-year complicated strategy of corporate mergers? At least now that the are as agitated about electronic voting machines as those on the left, real reform might be possible. (For more on disenfranchisement by machine, check out Sasha Abramsky's Mother Jones : "Just Try Voting Here: 11 of America's Worst Places to Cast a Ballot (or Try)," and plus this fun by Marc Rosenthal. And for more regarding Sequoia and electronic voting machines, check out .)

What happened to my dad's GOP? Former Republican John Cole on

I am not really having any fun attacking my old friends — but I don’t know how else to respond when people call decent men like Jim Webb a pervert for no other reason than to win an election. I don’t know how to deal with people who think savaging a man with Parkinson’s for electoral gain is appropriate election-year discourse. I don’t know how to react to people who think that calling anyone who disagrees with them on Iraq a “terrorist-enabler” than to swing back. I don’t know how to react to people who think that media reports of party hacks in the administration overruling scientists on issues like global warming, endangered species, intelligent design, prescription drugs, etc., are signs of ... liberal media bias.

That about sums it up. The modern Republican Party — definitely not the party of Dwight Eisenhower or even Ronald Reagan — had full control of the government for a mere four years before they overreached so far that the American public became disgusted by them. It took Democrats 50 years to do that. So, you know, congratulations on that. Apparently pandering to the most extreme elements of the Christian right and selling their soul to K Street turned out to be less popular than they thought. Imagine that.

“The American electoral system is rotten and we need to deal with that,” Ion Sancho, supervisor of elections in Leon County, Florida, told . Sancho and Bev Harris, founder of Black Box Voting, point out the vulnerability of our voting system in an HBO documentary, Hacking Democracy, airing November 2. The film follows Harris and Sancho as they stumble upon Diebold’s software on their FTP site, dig through trash and find illegally discarded voting records, and stage a mini-election with a computer hacker. In that election, the outcome of the vote is opposite the votes cast: 7:1 instead of 2:6. As Sancho points out, this is not just a Diebold problem. It is a problem with all electronic voting machine companies: “The other companies are just much better at keeping secrets.” Hacking Democracy should cure anybody of trusting electronic voting machines that do not have a paper trail.

What liberal media? You could not make up: "On Air Force One on the way home, [Karl Rove] made a rare appearance in the press cabin, handing out chocolate-covered pecans to the reporters. He waved the lid of the tin theatrically and said, 'Sweets for my sweets!' "

Ever seen Colbert lose it? .

How easy is it to actually rig an election? Well, one website lays it all out in a detailed list titled The document was posted on a site about database administration created by computer tech expert named Steven Hauser. It is a work in progress that makes some disturbing statements: “A simple PC and a database program or spread sheet is enough technology to sort targets by vulnerability or effectiveness for attack. Public available data files such as public voting records from the Secretary of State, (about $45 for the data set from the State of Minnesota) and the US Census are enough data to fine tune a set of targets figure out vulnerabilities and organize subsets of targets by method of attack.” What method of attack, you ask? Well, they range from “Inserting Security Problems with Voting Rule Manipulation” (essentially consisting of challenging voters’ identities and records), to the more traditional method of gerrymandering. If you want something that will give you a good scare tonight, pause that Scream 3 DVD and check out this scary how to list.

Campaign slogan suggestion: Last night on Olbermann's Countdown, Iraq vet Paul Rieckhoff tossed off a line about politics and Iraq that went something like "politicians in DC seem more interested in attacking each other than attacking the enemies of this country."

I'm still laughing! defiantly proclaimed on Fox News, “I haven’t had .” Here’s of his ethical improprieties.

Nearly 100 ABC advertisers have insisted that “NONE of their commercials air during AIR AMERICA programming.” Among the advertisers listed are Bank of America, Exxon Mobil, Federal Express, General Electric, McDonald’s, Microsoft, Wal-Mart, and the U.S. Navy. Media Matters has the full list . Take a look and make a note of where NOT to spend your money. Regardless of what one might think of the personalities or programing, there is no argument that America desperately needs more, not less, balance to the right wing control of talk radio.

Fixing the vote -- they're trying! When the meet Diebold, the result is Purportedly the web home of an outfit called Elections Consultants, the site teases with promises such as "we overcome the challenges of competition and ensure election results for our clients." The site's pitch-perfect stock photography and annoying tinkling music are the hallmarks of a satire but sadly, not everybody has got the joke. Darius Parker, who claims to be the president of Elections Consultants, said that he had been contacted by representatives of about 30 political campaigns to date. "They're asking me the details of a specific geographic location and what I can do to enhance the election for them," he told . Those 30 eager campaign workers called the wrong number: everybody knows that if you want to rig an election, you call or .

Last man with a sense of humor After hosting “The Price is Right” for 35 years, Bob Barker plans to retire in June: “I will be 83 years old on December 12 and I’ve decided to retire while I’m still young.” Barker said he will be open to movie roles, but said, “I refuse to do nude scenes. These Hollywood producers want to , but I don’t want to be just another beautiful body.”

The lying is starting to smell like desperation Speaking of Nancy Pelosi, here's part of the latest tirade aimed in her direction from desperate conservatives. "As regards the war on terrorism and the terrorists’ war against the west, Nancy Pelosi has opposed having international phone calls to and from terrorists monitored by American intelligence agencies." This is, flatly, a lie. Pelosi, like many Democrats, opposes NSA surveillance of American residents without a warrant. That is all she opposes. Period. The rest of the piece isn't much more honest. But this business of liberals "opposing surveillance of terrorists" is McCarthyish mendacity of the worst kind. Even National Review should be embarrassed to peddle it.

This guy wouldn't know truth if it hit him in the face At the White House press briefing, Tony Snow claimed that “Any stem cell research that takes place in the United States today is a result of a decision the president made in 2001.” Snow claimed, “no president who has stepped up and made possible more research and encouraged more research than George W. Bush.” Snow, , added that “adult and blood cord stem cells” have “demonstrated far more promise” than embryonic stem cells. Snow’s lesson on stem cell research was chock full of false and misleading information. Here’s a fact check:

1. Bush’s decision did not begin embryonic stem cell research in the U.S. Embryonic stem cell research funded by the Geron Corporation began in the late 1990s at the University of Wisconson and Johns Hopkins University. [Congressional Research Service, ]

2. President Clinton proposed broader federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. Bush suspended the Clinton rules and replaced them with his own that restrict federal funding to lines derived prior to August 2001. Clinton did not propose federal funding for embryonic stem cell research earlier because it didn’t exist. [Congressional Research Service, ]

3. Adult and umbilical cord stem cells do not show “more promise” than embryonic stem cells. An article in the New England Journal of Medicine called the White House source for this claim “patently false” and “pure hokum.” []

Stephen Colbert dedicated his word to defending Rush Limbaugh against "people exploiting their diseases to find cures for their diseases". - WMV - QT It's great to have Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert back after their week off. I was wondering how they would put their humorous spin on the whole Limbaugh/Fox ordeal, and now we all know.

"I had a run-in with a less than compassionate conservative.
I guess I'm not supposed to speak until my symptoms go away."
- Michael J. Fox, rubbing Der Pigboy's face in it

Oops. John McCain shows up at to campaign with Tammy Duckworth's opponent, fresh from a visit to Walter Reed, the nearby hospital where Duckworth, a double amputee, was treated, and the "brave young [soldiers] who have served and sacrificed so much. Many of them have lost limbs, as you know."

And to the Big Oil, for which it stands... The Interior Department has dropped claims that oil giant Chevron “systematically underpaid the government for natural gas produced in the Gulf of Mexico, a decision that could allow energy companies to .”

Any Repugs on the list? No? Huh.... Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) said she was briefly to a United Airlines flight last week because her name appeared on a “no fly list” set up after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Previously, (D-MA) and (D-GA) found that they had been ensnared by the program.

Big Brother watch The Defense Department has set up a new unit to , using “new media” channels to push its message. CNN reports that the unit would likely be run by political appointees.

They just keep piling the BS higher and higher White House Press Secretary Tony Snow stated that “contrary to stereotype,” President Bush has been “actively engaged in trying to fight climate change.” He also took issue with a reporter’s comment that the United States has been absent from a global emissions and cap trade program, arguing that the Bush administration has “actually taken the lead on those kinds of innovations.” President Bush has taken very little real action to fight climate change and even . He broke his and insists that global warming can be fought through . Despite being the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, the United States has , an international agreement that assigns mandatory targets for the reduction of greenhouse gases. Between 1990 and 2004, emissions of all industrialized countries decreased by 3.3 percent, but in in that same period and now accounts for approximately two-fifths of the industrialized world’s greenhouse gases. The rest of the world is leading and the Bush administration isn’t following.

Why Bush Smirks Excerpt: In observing our president's expressions over the years, I saw a feature of Bush's face that revealed more about his inner self than anything issuing forth from his mouth. He has a disconnect between the right side and the left side of his face. While the right side of his mouth and the corner of his right eyes portray a smile, the left side of his mouth and the corners of his left eye convey a scowl. The result is a twisted smirk that has become his trademark expression.

Why oh why does the GOP have such a ?

The federal government's "no sex without marriage" message isn't just for kids anymore. Now the government is targeting unmarried adults up to age 29 as part of its abstinence-only programs, which include millions of dollars in federal money that will be available to the states under revised federal grant guidelines for 2007. The government says the change is a clarification. But critics say it's a clear signal of a more directed policy targeting the sexual behavior of adults.

And they accuse liberals of using government power in the service of utopian social engineering? Personal note: For the record, I've always been strongly in favor of sex.

Bush: Democrats = terrorism

So now, according to Bush, anyone who votes for a Democrat is voting for the terrorists. And law-abiding citizens get manhandled or arrested for questioning officials at public events—or addressing Dick Cheney in a Colorado mall. This isn’t the country I know and love. It’s gone to a very dark place, not one I care to visit, let alone inhabit. I’m an old-fashioned romantic, I guess—or maybe just old. But my favorite political story, probably apocryphal, is of the little old lady who was polled in one of the Eisenhower-Stevenson races in the 50s. Who, she was asked, would she vote for. “Why, I’m not going to vote,” she replied. “Why on earth would you not vote?” asked the pollster. “Well,” she replied, “Mr. Eisenhower and Mr. Stevenson are both fine gentlemen, and the country will be in good hands either way.” Would that we could still feel that way. And that our leaders, elected or selected, could treat us with a little respect.

Six more days.

"In the RNC's attack ad on Harold Ford, a sleazy-looking fellow says,
"So, Ford took money from porn movie producers. I mean, who hasn't?"
Who hasn't? Well, it turns out that the RNC has...the RNC has accepted contributions
from Nich Boyias...the owner of one of the largest producers of gay porn.
The difference between the money Ford took and the money the RNC took?
Ford gave his back..."
--Tim Grieve,

Why George Allen must lose In a campaign season filled to the gills with ginned up absurdities, perhaps the most absurd of them all has been George Allen's desperation last-minute attacks on Jim Webb over some racy scenes in one of his war novels. This ranks high on the short-list of campaign stunts that deserve to blow up in the most gruesome possible way, if only to serve as a warning to future politicians: No, the American public is not willing to put up with literally anything. Yes, you can go too far.

That, along with revelations of Allen's youthful — and possibly lingering — racism really ought to be enough to send him packing. But in case it's not,

I personally think the most damning thing about the Allen Story is that he has been exposed as the ultimate Golden State Child of Privilege who has spent much of his life trying to impersonate a dirt-farm, dirt-track Yahoo, mainly by aggressively embracing the underside of Yahoo culture, without the mitigating circumstances of actually growing up that way, or any indication that he shares the positive features of that culture (e.g., a healthy disrespect for economic elites). To put it another way, most true southern white crackers may well have contempt for those well-heeled cultural elitists who look down on them, but they'd also kill to give their kids the kind of advantages that George Allen had, and, if confronted directly with the full Allen Story, would probably consider his efforts to remake himself as a 'bacca-chewing, thuggish redneck the ultimate insult.

Allen is a fake in much the same way that George Bush is a fake — except that he's not quite as good at it. Perhaps Virginians will finally cotton to Allen's peculiar brand of condescension next week.

It's time for the closing argument. The issue of the day may be Iraq. I think it is. But an issue isn't an argument. An argument brings the issues together and motivates action. So what's the argument? What should candidates and surrogates be saying at campaign stops this week?

I think it comes down to this. Beyond the incompetence, the bungled policies and the lies (which are plenty bad enough), where the country finds itself is a situation in which the leadership of the country either can't see, or won't see, or most likely wants to pretend not to see what a growing majority of the country clearly can see.

It's most clear, most visible in Iraq. Though there's a bit less consensus on whether it was a mistake from the outset, there's an overwhelming consensus among Americans today that Iraq has become a disaster for the United States and that it's not going to get better on the course we're now on.

But the president just says, No. Sure, there are a few bumps along the way. But fundamentally it was a good idea, we're doing the right thing and we're on the right track. No matter what however many people tell him, that's what his gut tells him so it's full speed ahead. He's going to stay the course right over the cliff.

In America, political action in Washington usually tracks fairly closely with public opinion, even though the voters only get a real bite at the apple every two years. But it doesn't have to be that way. The people in charge can pretty much ignore what people think and say. For the two years between elections, they're close to invulnerable.

And that's the closer in this election. How do you think Iraq has gone? How do you think Congress is doing its job? How did you think Katrina was handled? Different people are going to have different hot button issues. But across the board I think what we're seeing in the country is that sense of disconnect -- things are seriously off course but the folks in charge won't admit it and don't know what to do about it.

So to voters I think the pitch is, think back over the last two years. You only have one chance to go on record with your verdict. Thumbs up or thumbs down. One chance before you have to go back and sit in the stands again for another two years.

Are you on board with what's happening? Or do you want to go on record saying things have to change? One chance.

And if you give the thumbs up, how will you feel when you wake up on November 8th?


November 1, 2006 - 11:41am