I'm a Yellow Dog Democrat! Steve Bates,
The Yellow Doggerel Democrat
I'm a Yellow Dog Democrat!

for November 2006


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This Is Cool

Gov. Ann's bridge:

Austin to rename bridge in honor of late governor
Associated Press

AUSTIN — A downtown bridge famous for political marches, parades and a bat colony will soon bear the name of the late Texas Gov. Ann Richards.

The Austin City Council on Thursday plans to name the Congress Avenue Bridge after Richards, the quick-witted former governor who died in September of esophageal cancer. Richards led a march up Congress Avenue from the bridge to the Capitol on the day she became governor.


This is a fitting memorial. Not that Gov. Ann was bats; another former governor deserves that description... but that there is hardly a sight in the great state of Texas comparable to that of the bats emerging from under that bridge. It's a genuine natural wonder... and so was Ann Richards.


Speaking Of Bigotry...

... there seems to be an ample supply these days:

BALTIMORE, Nov. 14 -- Faced with rising public acceptance of same-sex relationships, three U.S. Christian denominations are taking strong measures this week to condemn homosexual acts as sinful.

The nation's Roman Catholic bishops, meeting in Baltimore, declared Tuesday that Catholics who minister to gays must firmly adhere to the church's teaching that same-sex attractions are "disordered." Catholics with "a homosexual inclination" should be encouraged to live in chastity and discouraged from making "general public announcements" about their sexual orientation, the bishops said.

The largest Baptist group in North Carolina, meanwhile, moved to expel any congregation that condones homosexuality, adopting a policy that allows the Baptist State Convention to investigate complaints that member churches are too "gay-friendly."

And on Wednesday in Pittsburgh, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), a mainline Protestant denomination with about 3 million members, will put a minister on trial for conducting a marriage ceremony for two women.

The decisions are part of a mounting backlash in many U.S. denominations against church groups whose stated goal is not only to welcome but also to "affirm" gay congregants. For many religious groups, the biblical injunction to hate the sin but love the sinner is no longer sufficient, because many believers do not view homosexuality as a sin.


I am absolutely certain it is a sin to discriminate against any person on the basis of a characteristic that is an accident of birth. However, in the spirit of "hate the sin but love the sinner," I shall not hate these religious leaders, poor, confused, bigoted bast... um, lost souls though they may be.


The Right Of The People

After the passage of the MCA, with its compromise of habeas corpus, the Bush administration didn't waste any time putting it to blatantly unconstitutional uses:

WASHINGTON — Immigrants arrested in the United States may be held indefinitely on suspicion of terrorism and may not challenge their imprisonment in civilian courts, the Bush administration said Monday, opening a new legal front in the fight over the rights of detainees.

In court documents filed with the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., the Justice Department said a new anti-terrorism law being used to hold detainees in Guantanamo Bay also applies to foreigners captured and held in the United States.

Ali Saleh Kahlah Al-Marri, a citizen of Qatar, was arrested in 2001 while studying in the United States. He has been labeled an "enemy combatant," a designation that, under a law signed last month, strips foreigners of the right to challenge their detention in federal courts.

That law is being used to argue the Guantanamo Bay cases, but Al-Marri represents the first detainee inside the United States to come under the new law. Aliens normally have the right to contest their imprisonment, such as when they are arrested on immigration violations or for other crimes.

"It's pretty stunning that any alien living in the United States can be denied this right," said Jonathan Hafetz, an attorney for Al-Marri. "It means any non-citizen, and there are millions of them, can be whisked off at night and be put in detention."


Stunning indeed... and it would have been stunning to our nation's founders, who attempted to prevent this very sort of thing by embedding constraints on all branches of government in the Constitution. In that Constitution, in matters of rights and liberties, please note the frequency of the words "person" and "people" ... and the infrequency of the word "citizen." People... all of them... have all significant rights and liberties in America, whether or not they are citizens. At least that was the intention of our founders.

It is clearly not the intention of Bush and his henchmen.

Last Tuesday's message to Mr. Bush couldn't be clearer: Americans don't want to live in the kind of society he is creating. We don't want our liberties infringed "for our own good." We don't need a despotic dictatorship to keep us safe. Unfortunately, Bush seems not to be listening.


Farmers Branch Of Bigger Tree

Or something that sounds like "bigger tree." From the Star-Telegram:

Farmers Branch council OKs illegal-immigration measures

FARMERS BRANCH -- Despite loud protests from scores of pro-immigrant demonstrators, the City Council adopted ordinances Monday night to crack down on illegal immigration and to make English the city's official language.

Opponents of illegal immigration cheered when the council voted unanimously to pass ordinances that will:

* Require city officials to conduct nearly all official business in English.

* Prohibit landlords from renting apartments to people who cannot prove their citizenship or legal status.

* Have city police enter into a cooperative agreement with federal immigration officials to target "criminal aliens."


(Bullets added for clarity - ed.)

Ihre Papiere, bitte! Could I prove my U.S. citizenship? Probably, but I don't typically think of taking my birth certificate or passport with me when I go to rent an apartment.

So... Farmers Branch is suffering a huge wave of illegal immigration, right? Um, not so much, if you believe David Flory, police chief of another town in the Metroplex:

"We really don't think we have a problem with illegal aliens in this particular city," Flory said. "We don't run across them very often."

Will police agreements with ICE help cities and towns that enter into them?

Representatives for the Fort Worth and Arlington police departments said that enforcing immigration laws is a federal responsibility, and that they could alienate segments of the Hispanic community if they enforce immigration laws.

The English-only provision is, of course, ludicrous; I don't think I need to hold forth on the First Amendment to readers of this site, or to recite talking points about every resident's learning to speak English. No one I know objects to everyone's learning English if they live in America, most especially the people who live here who don't speak English. It's a paper tiger, and the paper is wearing thin. (Besides, does this mean that Dubya Bush can't transact official business in Farmers Branch?)

So... no real illegal immigration problem in Farmers Branch, a danger of compromising the ability of local police to operate in the Latin American community (including among citizens and legal residents), and attempt number 142,857 to require the exclusive use of English in public transactions.

These ordinances obviously aren't about illegal immigration; clearly, there's another motive at work here. Gosh, whatever could it be? Surely not... "bigger tree"?


Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act

From the CRS...

Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act - Rewrites federal criminal code provisions regarding animal enterprise terrorism to prohibit anyone from traveling in, or using the mail or any facility of, interstate or foreign commerce for the purpose of damaging or disrupting an animal enterprise and, in connection with such purpose: (1) intentionally damaging, disrupting, or causing the loss of property used by or owned in connection with such enterprise; (2) intentionally placing a person in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury to that person or a family member through threats, vandalism, property damage, trespass, harassment, or intimidation; or (3) conspiring or attempting to do so. Prescribes escalating penalties.

Authorizes restitution for: (1) the reasonable cost of repeating any experimentation that was interrupted or invalidated as a result of such offense; (2) the loss of food production or farm income reasonably attributable to such offense; and (3) any other economic damage, including any losses or costs caused by economic disruption, resulting from such offense.

According to a friend who phoned me, an attempt is being made to fast-track this 2005 bill in Congress. Today. To my regret, some Democrats support it.

Look: I am not, in the extreme sense of the word, an animal rights activist. I oppose needless mistreatment of animals, and I won't eat them, but I understand that humans have used animals since time out of mind, and my interest in opposing cruelty is typically not furthered by people who disrupt businesses that kill animals.

But those people are not terrorists. If we start accusing anyone who engages in any unlawful activity of being a terrorist, we hand over unconscionable powers to the executive... and we render the term "terrorist" meaningless for practical purposes. Bush's dictionary notwithstanding, protest is not terrorism. It may, at times, be criminal, but it is not terrorist in nature.

This is a dangerous bill, for that reason alone: it is a last-gasp effort to use the courts to control dissent by raw intimidation. When even nonviolent protesters can be labeled terrorists if they disrupt economic activity, dissent is stifled, and not just for those dissenters. We are all at risk. If you can, call your member of Congress and try to stop it. The bill number is HR 4239.

UPDATE: I am unable to confirm that this bill is being debated today. I'll keep you informed if I find more info. Here is the full text of the bill.

UPDATE: It's after 6:00pm Central time, and the House web site still doesn't show this bill as having come to the floor. Perhaps it's a false alarm, or perhaps they'll push it through at 3:00am.


McCain-Brained Ideas -- DOGGEREL!

On Meet the Press, John McCain advocates more troops into Iraq...


Embracing discredited policies sucks,
But here is what John and his fellow lame ducks
Are pushing: more war in Iraq, to their shame.
There's clearly much more than a duck that is lame...
   McLame, McLame; it's John McLame;
   When thousands die, you'll be to blame.

And what do you say of this war that we've hated?
You're saying America's merely "frustrated."
You can't force reality into that frame:
"Appalled" is more like it. "Frustrated"? that's lame...
   McLame, McLame, see John McLame;
   Can't see the picture for the frame.

You once were a hero; you fought for your nation,
In war much like this one: was that mere "frustration"?
You know from experience: war is no game.
But you, you're OK with more dead, sick and lame...
   McLame, McLame; it's you I name,
   Out loud to you I cry, "For shame!"

They captured you, tortured you, held you in cages,
Inflicted all manner of treatment outrageous.
But this cage, into which you willingly came,
You built it yourself: only you are to blame.
   McLame, McLame; you are to blame;
   For shame! For shame! For shame! For shame!

Steve Bates


Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda

As I said on the thread attached to Mustang Bobby's excellent collection of post-election analyses, if you believe Republican spinners, particularly those in the GOP leadership at both state and national levels, last Tuesday didn't happen. Nope. Not at all. You imagined it. You dreamed it. There was no great Democratic victory, no Democratic control of Congress. It's all a myth. And if Democrats did win a race here and there, it's as bad for their party as toxic waste; Democrats will live to regret it. Read this article, by Houston Chronicle reporter R.G. Ratliffe, for a sample of the kind of crap being advanced by various GOP leaders.

Where do they get these people? and how do they keep their jobs?

Face it, GOPers: "woulda, coulda, shoulda" doesn't cut it. While Republican rule was not utterly obliterated... primarily because Dubya and Dick were not up for election... this is a major Democratic victory. Democratic control of the Senate may be scant, but it's there. What is the great Karl Rove going to do about that... put out a hit on a Democratic senator? I wouldn't put it past him, but I think he will be restrained by GOP senators not comfortable with the precedent that would establish.

I admit it is fun watching Republicans engage in finger-pointing more characteristic of Democrats in recent years. What is more difficult to fathom is Democratic finger-pointing by the likes of... awwww, gimme a break... James Carville. James, what have you done for the party lately? And now you want to dump Howard Dean, the man whose strategy arguably brought about Democratic control of Congress? Go back to publishing your cutesy books with recipes in them; I liked those (the books, not the recipes). You had Bill Clinton to work with, one of the political geniuses of all time (whatever anyone things of his personal life) and one of the great presidents of our lifetime (whether you agreed with his politics or not). You had the best possible raw material for the campaigns you claim credit for. Bill Clinton is out of politics, and Howard Dean brings us victory nonetheless... how dare you suggest he be replaced? My hope is that Carville, along with a couple of other relics, stands alone in his folly. "To the victor belongs the unemployment line..." what kind of message is that?

Then there's the intra-GOP debate over whether Bush should have ditched Rumsfeld before the elections. Fools! Of course he should have! Indeed, Rumsfeld should never have been appointed in the first place. But I doubt it makes much difference. America's discontent is with the handling... indeed, the very existence... of the war in Iraq, and the Bush administration's incompetency extends far beyond Rumsfeld. Replace Rummy with anyone willing to implement Bush's misbegotten policies in Iraq and the Middle East generally, and the outrage of the American people will be as great as it was on Election Day.

Finally, McCain crawls out of the woodwork and possibly into the 2008 presidential race. This man held my respect until his figurative and literal embrace of George W. Bush... and until his premeditated lies in the interest of his own presidential prospects. I once thought McCain to be a man of honor, whose politics I happened to disagree with. No more. McCain is a liar like George W. Bush. Why should America want more of that?


Armistice, Remembrance, Veterans

By whatever name you know it, this is a day of remembrance and acknowledgement. If you were able to vote last week, turn around and thank a veteran. If you have managed to avoid living under a fascist or communist dictatorship (to this point at least), turn to your left and thank a veteran, and turn to your right and thank another veteran. They're all around you. They did a thankless job... almost literally thankless these days... and your life is better for their having done so.

For better or worse, I am not a veteran. I am just about the only male member of my family in the past few generations who was not a veteran and on active duty at some point. I wish I had scanned photos available of each and every one of them, but lacking that, I honor them all as I honor my father and his brother, both survivors of the war but both now deceased, for their service in W.W. II. The photo above was taken in July 1944, and my father said it was one of the few times he saw his brother face to face in the course of the war.

If America is to survive in this world, its leaders must treat the men and women of our armed forces much better than they are being treated today. I hope Tuesday's election results will help, but the Abuser-in-Chief is still at the helm, and I do not expect him to become the picture of reason just because his party has lost an election. If he continues to order up discretionary invasive wars, wars based on a lie, wars that have no security benefits for the United States, Congress must put the brakes on. I imagine I hear a stirring from the direction of my father's ashes every time Bush or one of his minions uses the phrase "unitary Executive." There is no such damned thing as unitary Executive power, and Congress and the courts must put a stop to it. And our troops have more motivation even than the rest of us, for the sake of their lives, their families and their careers, to see that America's military power is not unilaterally redirected by a wayward administration for purely political purposes. Our troops are, as individuals and as a trained force, worth far too much to abuse in that way.

I detest war. War is not grand or glorious. I regret that it is occasionally necessary... I am not quite a pacifist, because there are genuine threats in the world, threats which do not have to be fabricated by self-interested bullies like Bush... but if there were never another war, I would be happy indeed. Until the day that happens, which I shall not live to see, we need our armed forces, and we need to treat them, both veterans and currently serving members, with the respect they deserve.

Paul Simon has a new CD out, called Surprise. (To me, it was just that; I didn't know he had one in the works.) Check out the track called "Wartime Prayers"; it seems appropriate to the day.


Tough Problem, Wrong Solution

The problem is real enough, but this man's solution is extreme:

GALVESTON — An ornithologist charged with animal cruelty in a fatal cat shooting this week is a self-professed cat hater with a killing record that goes back to the time he arrived in one of the world's best birdwatching areas on west Galveston Island a decade ago.

Wildlife author and photographer Jim Stevenson said in a 1999 Internet posting that "there were cats out the wazoo" when he built his isolated island home.

"And I'm sorry if this offends, but I sighted in my .22 rifle and killed about two dozen cats in about the first year," the passionate birdwatcher and professional birding guide wrote. "When we allow feral cats to roam free, we might as well be out there with BB guns plinking away at the songbirds ourselves."

Stevenson's arrest Wednesday stirred cat and bird lovers whose passions clash frequently across the nation and world. It has raised anew long-fought debates about what damage feral cats do to wildlife and how to stem the population growth of wild cats.


Cats are astonishingly efficient predators, and they do a pretty good job of breeding, too. On the other hand, if you believe the late Isaac Asimov, cats were at least partially responsible for saving human agriculture from overpopulation of rodents getting into the grain.

Perhaps feral cats do diminish bird populations to dangerously low levels; I don't know. The evidence seems to be mixed, and people with opinions are not shy about voicing them. And we've all seen what introducing nonnative species can do to a region's ecosystem. Think of kudzu, just one of many examples.

West of Houston is one of the great migratory bird flyways in America. There, the greatest danger to the birds is not feral cats, nor even humans with .22's, but humans with the power to pass out roadbuilding contracts to their cronies. Humans are a nonnative species here, too. But most of us don't consider killing them with rifles an acceptable solution to the problem.

My objection is not to Stevenson's goal of protecting songbirds from feral cats, but to his needlessly violent methods. Cats are not, in this society at least, food animals for humans, nor are they trophy game (don't get me started), so he can't justify what he is doing as hunting, either for food or for sport. There are other approaches that can save both cats and birds (if indeed the birds are in danger from cats at all, an issue not definitively resolved).

And it appears Stevenson has gone outside the law here; judicial process can now decide that. Whatever the verdict, Stevenson is an ornithologist; he should have known better.

Whatever his motives, if he is guilty, he gets no sympathy from me.


Some People Never Learn

Lame-duck sessions of Congress are always unpleasant matters, and especially so after landslide elections... excuse me, I suppose an election these days is a "tsunami," not a "landslide." Much of what Bush proposes to attempt to pass in the waning days of the 109th Congress is what you would expect: tax cuts and pork for his buddies, confirming Robert Gates at Defense, confirming John Bolton (a recess appointment, after Senate Democrats quite rightly filibustered Bolton's nomination) as America's U.N. Representative for the Total Dismantlement of the U.N. and Offending of All U.S. Allies, etc. One item, though, persuades me that Bush has completely failed to understand the intent of voters in this election:

President Bush met on Thursday with GOP congressional leaders and came up with a similar to-do list. He added a Vietnam trade bill and legislation giving legal status to his warrantless domestic eavesdropping program.


The eavesdropping measure has stalled in the Senate because of a Democratic filibuster threat.

Uh, no, Georgie. I think you can forget about that last one now. What the American people told you in this election, whether or not you are too finger-in-ears-la-la-la-I-can't-hear-you deaf to hear it, is this: you've done enough damage. Stop it.

If only the late great Ann Richards could have lived to "stick a fork in him." Ann, if you're out there somewhere watching all this, at long last, you're right: "he's done."


Friday Missing Mom Blogging

Stella is out of town for a couple of days...

Samantha may be bored, but Tabitha misses Stella. So do I.

Added for clarity: as I read it again this morning, I see that the post title is badly constructed. No one is missing.


Senate Majority Leader Reid

You already knew about Speaker Pelosi. Now, via Mustang Bobby, from MSNBC...

Democrats win control of Senate
NBC projects Webb victor in Va.;
win solidifies Democratic power on Hill

NBC, MSNBC and news services
Updated: 2 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - Democrats wrested control of the Senate from Republicans Wednesday with an upset victory in Virginia, giving the party complete domination of Capitol Hill for the first time since 1994, as NBC News reported that Democrat Jim Webb was the apparent winner.

Webb’s apparent squeaker win over incumbent Sen. George Allen effectively gave Democrats their 51st seat in the Senate, an astonishing turnabout at the hands of voters unhappy with Republican scandal and unabated violence in Iraq. Allen was the sixth Republican incumbent senator defeated in Tuesday’s elections.


As Mustang Bobby put it... "Game over."


Headline Of The Day - UPDATED

This one got to me:


I've seen those gates, many decades ago. They're formidable. Hell, one brick out of those gates could replace Rumsfeld...

UPDATE: TAMU has a great Google Maps image of campus. I was unable to find the gates I thought I remembered as a child. But I did note the intersection of George Bush Dr. and Coke St. ...


Rummy Rhymes -- DOGGEREL!

Rumsfeld is out as Secretary of Defense, to be replaced by Robert Gates. Rumor has it that Bush is raving mad (and Mad is probably who I should have left this effort to). Here's Bush's song to Rummy, the one he didn't sing at the presser...

Rummy, how I hate ya, how I hate ya!
I... fear, old Rummy,
You blew the polls... you... see,
We even lost... in... D-I-X-I-E-ven now my's bayin' at me, neighin' at me,
"Down! Bye to Rummy!"
The folks up north... won't... love me no more;
'Til I get rid of Rummy's war.

Steve Bates


A Trip To The Dentist

You know the drill.

I thought the morning after elections would be a good time for a dentist's visit, because, win or lose, I'd already be numb.

After that, I have quite a bit of sleep and, yes, work to catch up on. Forgive me if I take the afternoon off, and maybe even the evening. I'll see you fairly soon, I promise.


Turning The Senate - UPDATED

It could all hang on the Webb-Allen race, and Josh Marshall points out Karl Rove's history:

     ... It looks like Virginia will decide the senate. Karl Rove has turned races like this around before. You don't know the lengths they'll go to. Believe me, you're not being imaginative enough.


Get ready for the bogus headlines on Drudge. The rumors and innuendo. Live boys and dead girls. Like I said, your imagination will only get you maybe half the way there. Get ready.

As Josh said... get ready. This will be very, very ugly.

UPDATE: I arose this morning to find Webb ahead by a few thousand votes, likely enough to survive a recount, absent really astonishing dirty tricks. Expect Rove to provide those tricks. Just remember as you read CNN's (and possibly other networks') Senate counts, that Webb appears to have won outright, but they're not counting him in their Senate totals. Is that a sign of Karl at work already?


Election Half Alive Blogging

It's roughly 9:30pm, and depending on whose numbers you believe, Dems have picked up about 11 House seats and 3 Senate seats. Texas looks awful as usual, but it also looks possible I'll have a genuine Democratic State Representative (Borris Miles), as opposed to a DINO, for the first time in quite a few years. Just don't ask about the governor, the Senator who was up for election, my U.S. Representative (though they haven't called that one quite yet), etc. Those are looking awfully Republican. All in all, at this point, I'd have to say it's a good evening for the good guys. Fatigue is catching up with me. If I can just hold out for a few more results tonight...

With all the money Harris County spent on these fancy-schmantzy eSlate voting systems, why do I see numbers like "2 percent of precincts reporting," this late in the evening? Is it taking them all this time to fix the numbers they don't like?

I'll be up for a while, and the comment thread on this post will be our unofficial live-blogging of whatever the hell we find interesting. For the record, I have a dental appointment at 9:00am tomorrow (I made the appointment figuring that, win or lose, it would be a great time to have my teeth cleaned) so don't expect any early morning analysis (or anything else) from me. Talk to me on this thread!


Voter Suppression Underway

Again via TPM, this time mostly through TPMMuckraker (also here and here and here), we get the word of the latest GOP ploys to interfere with the Democratic vote in several states. From hiring out-of-state homeless blacks to distribute flyers urging votes for a candidate labeled a "Democrat" (actually a Republican) in Maryland, to three people with a gun and a videocamera and a clipboard intimidating Latino voters in Arizona, to individual phone calls threatening people in heavily Democratic areas of Virginia with arrest if they attempt to vote, these sordid techniques make up in variety what they lack in ethical substance.

But the biggest word of the year seems to be "robo-calling." Reports are now coming in from multiple states of at least two companies hired by the RNCC to do robo-calls that appear to be from the Democratic candidate, sometimes calling five or six times in an hour but at a minimum several times a day, always directed at likely Democratic voters, and not announcing the Republican origin of the call until the end of the message... which as I understand it is illegal under federal election law.

Robo-calling. Hmm. "Is that you in there, Murphy?" Somehow I doubt it. The similarly named mechanical cop was always on the side of the law.


Who Really Watches Your Tax Dollar?

Via TPM, a noteworthy CNN headline:

Bonds rally on election day
Treasurys surge on hopes of fiscal discipline created by a Democrat-controlled Congress; greenback slips.

"[F]iscal discipline created by a Democrat-controlled Congress..." I like the sound of that. Is there anybody out there who is still voting for the GOP because they are fiscally conservative? Really? What decade are you living in? About two years ago, I read an article that asserted that the Bush administration and Republican Congress had spent more money than all other presidential administrations from George Washington's to Bill Clinton's... combined. Apparently, bond traders, as conservative as they probably are, must believe that even Democrats can do better than that.


It's Time -- DOGGEREL!

From 1998...

November March

Vote... vote... vote... vote...
If Elephant, Donkey or monkey or goat,
If eagle or pigeon, or even a stoat,
Go vote... vote... vote... vote!

Vote... vote... vote... vote...
Ignore the commercial with five-second quote
And image of enemies crossing the moat,
And vote... vote... vote... vote!

Vote... vote... vote... vote...
If not, your opinion is not worth a groat,
You'll have no control of who's bless'd and who's smote,
So vote... vote... vote... vote!

Vote... vote... vote... vote...
Just think of the children on whom you do dote,
Or of your opponents, obscure or of note,
The beam's in their eye, and in yours but a mote,
You're useless unless you are rocking the boat,
Stay home and your policies never will float,
Get out of your house or your hovel or cote,
Go winnow the grain while you're feeling your oat,
Rely on your brain, or a list you may tote,
Use mind or use heart, or just do it by rote,
Just vote... vote... vote... vote... vote... vote... VOTE!

Steve Bates

Ah, those were the days. Matters have gotten far worse than ever I could have imagined when I wrote those rough rhymes. Since then, we've been through a stolen presidential election (maybe two) and a preemptive, invasive war based on a bald-faced lie, a war disastrously lost by the administration of the preznit who stole that election... as well as the loss of more of our civil liberties than I ever imagined possible... with less public protest than I ever imagined possible.

In 1980 and again in 1984, Ronald Reagan was elected by the people of the United States of America. I was dismayed beyond reason. But Ronald Reagan was my president.

In 1988, George H.W. Bush got the nod from the American voting public. My disappointment aside, he, too, was my president.

In 1992 and 1996, Bill Clinton was elected. I supported him. I gave his campaign money. He was my president. His zipper problems aside, and his more conservative politics aside, he was a brilliant leader, and I had many other reasons, rooted in the domestic economy and in international diplomacy, to be glad he was my president.

In 2000... but I hardly need to tell you if you visit this site and if you've read this far. George W. Bush was not my president. He wasn't elected, or perhaps he was elected by a vote of 5-4.

In 2004, I have an idea who might have been elected, but by then, the GOP had gotten very, very good at stealing elections, so I don't know whether George W. Bush is my president today.

By 2008, the GOP may well be perfect at election theft. That's why I say this midterm election may be our last chance. I do not desire a return to bipartisanship (if indeed there ever was such thing); I desire a return to representative democracy. Our republic has been stolen from us, far too easily and with far too little resistance: it's time to take it back.

This is it, folks. It's no longer a matter of whether Democrats or Republicans control Congress or the White House. The party's over. The parties are very nearly over. The mess that's left is very nearly an unmitigated dictatorship. You can't make telephone calls or send emails without being monitored... no, I'm not talking about terrorist suspects, whom everyone agrees must be monitored; I'm talking about you, the good American citizen. Your right of habeas corpus is gone, superseded by the newly legislated power of a president... real or ersatz... to declare you an enemy combatant and lock you up, without a trial and without access to any part of due process. The preznit claims the power, in his signing statements, to tell us which laws he will obey and which laws he is above. Soon, if the Department of Homeland Security has its way, you will have to ask permission to leave or enter the country... you, an American citizen, whether or not you hold a valid U.S. passport. Soon, if the preznit and his SecDef continue to abuse our troops, you will find your sons and daughters drafted into the military, not for the defense of our nation but for the preznit's private political purposes and financial gain. Soon...

It's gut check time for Democrats and sensible Independents. Vote. Bring a like-minded friend.

Aside: I saw in a post on Off the Kuff that Gov. Perry has agreed with his minister that all people who are not Christian are going to Hell, and that we have a "nonstop ticket." Well and good. I'm glad it's a nonstop ticket; I'd hate to run into Gov. Perry at a whistle stop along the way. It would embarrass him terribly.


Not A Campaign Commercial

I was just reading a Chronicle article on the race in Dist. 22, which was Tom DeLay's seat. Former Democratic Congressman Nick Lampson is running against... well, there's no Republican candidate on the ballot, because DeLay screwed up the timing of his resignation, but Shelley Sekula-Grouch (sorry; my face-to-face impressions were not positive a few years back) is mounting a write-in campaign. In today's episode, Sekula-Grump calls Lampson a "liberal carpetbagger." It's an interesting choice of term, as I am unable to determine Sekula-Gripe's birthplace on her web site or any other I've seen. (Circumstantial evidence is that she was born in Texas.)

An ad at the bottom of the article bore the caption, "We Buy Houses Quick! No, it turned out not to be a GOP campaign commercial. But the Chronicle article was almost entirely about Sekula-Grinch, not Lampson.

Although according to Greg Sargent at TPMCafe on 11/1, Charlie Cook has now changed his evaluation of the race from "Leans Democratic" to "Toss-Up," regular TPMCafe commenter ohiomeister, quoting an unidentified source, reminds us:

"Forty percent of poll respondents say they usually vote straight-party. Thirty-two percent plan on doing so this year.

Republican straight-ticket ballots will not register votes for Sekula-Gibbs, since the special election is nonpartisan and the general election does not have a Republican candidate in the district."

So Sekula-Grouse will not get the straight GOP vote, which typically carries many GOP candidates to victory in districts like 22. To top it all off, her name does appear on the ballot... as a candidate for DeLay's unexpired term, for which Lampson chose not to run. Some may vote for Mrs. Groan for that slot, thinking they've voted for her for next term.

And as for buying Houses, unless things have changed in the past couple of days, I gather she is nearly out of money, and the GOP is sensibly not bothering to spend money on her. As a financial advisor used to say to me, "I haven't got a crystal ball," but please explain to me again how all those dedicated Republicans are going to dial their way through a twenty-character name on an eSlate (those who are Harris County residents at least). I've voted for one write-in candidate on an eSlate (when my precinct chair didn't file quite in time), and it's not an easy matter. If someone wants help, and if I were the helper, I'd be concerned about Greg Abbott's rampant prosecutions. (Oh, I forgot: he prosecutes only Democrats. Never mind.)


AG Abbott Is Coming To Get You

If you want to assist elderly or disabled voters with their mail-in ballots, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott wants to prosecute you... especially if you are a Democrat. He's been doing it since 2003. Now, a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, now upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, assures that he can continue doing so.

Here are the relevant details from yesterday's AP article:

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court today denied the Texas Democratic Party's request to stop Attorney General Greg Abbott from prosecuting people who help elderly and disabled voters cast mail-in ballots.


Appeals Court Judge James L. Dennis ruled that while Texas law appears to be overly broad in criminalizing conduct intended to assist disabled voters, it does not completely deny people the opportunity to vote. Allowing the election to continue without an injunction will give the courts a better record on which to judge the Texas voting provisions, Dennis wrote.

The law in question bans people from handling or mailing absentee ballots for voters who are not relatives or don't live with them. State lawmakers amended the law in 2003 to permit such assistance if the helper signs the envelope with a name and address.

Abbott's office has indicted 13 people for voter fraud since 2003. All of them had a record of voting Democrat [sic]; 12 were either black or Hispanic.

Did I mention that Greg Abbott is in a wheelchair? (No, it didn't happen in service to his country... a tree fell on him while he was jogging. Honest. Check his campaign site if you don't believe me.) In other words, if Abbott were not a wealthy and powerful man, he might be among those who need assistance with mail-in voting. But like many Republicans these days, he's got his, and to hell with anyone else... especially if anyone else happens to be a Democrat. Abbott is taking voter suppression to new depths, and considering his disability, he is a hypocrite in doing so.


Mad Kane

... is at it again. Enough said.

What are you doing still here? Go! read! laugh!


Revoltin' Joe's Storm Troopers

I haven't wasted a lot of virtual ink on Joe Lieberman (I-Raq), a man for whom my already diminished respect has plummeted to new depths in the past few months. But this incident of campaign violence by Lieberman thugs, comparable in nature if not in detail to the Allen assault team a few days ago, must not go unnoticed:

Today at an event in Hartford, at a senior center, Joe “volunteers” swarmed the “stand up for change” bus and pressed their bodies against the vehicle, not allowing the doors to open and anyone to exit.

When the bus moved and the door was partially opened for Ned and staff, Joe’s “volunteers” rushed the bus again, violently screaming in the door. Ned was never able to make it off the bus and into the senior center.

Small-scale local violence in behalf of powerful figures and against any good thing... democracy, free speech, union representation, etc. ... has a long and sordid history. But from the Brooks Bros. riot after the 2000 "election" forward, violence by GOP operatives intended to influence the outcome of elections has gone public, with no apologies from its perpetrators. Now we learn what we already expected: if Lieberman (I-Suck) is elected, he will fit right in with the Thugs-in-Chief. I am glad this man is no longer associated with my political party. Good riddance.

I don't have the dimes to spare, but if you do, consider sending a few of them to the Lamont campaign. Strike a blow for nonviolent campaigns... if that isn't too great an oxymoron. (No, I forgot... Limbaugh is the oxy moron.)

(Via Avedon, via Atrios.)


Friday Cat And Mouse Blogging

Samantha is steadfastly determined to ignore the very, very oversized toy catnip mouse...

When Stella brought this toy home, a terrified Tabitha literally ran from it. Both cats have grown accustomed to it, but it's not typically their favorite toy. Hey, how would you feel about a ten-foot-tall stuffed domestic cat introduced into your space?


Healthcare By The Numbers

Gar Lipov of MaxSpeak has those numbers, along with one of the best FAQ's I've ever seen about single-payer systems.


GOP To Dems: Get Flu And Die

Matters are actually not much better than that here in Houston:

Offer of free flu shots halted at polling places
Mayor cancels program after critics slam it
as a politically motivated ploy


Mayor Bill White ordered a halt Wednesday to the city health department's privately funded drive to offer flu vaccinations at early voting sites in predominantly Hispanic and black neighborhoods, amid conservative criticism that the effort would boost Democratic turnout.

About 1,300 flu shots were given to people age 50 or older in the past three days under the program, which didn't require the recipients to vote. Health officials said they were only trying to reach people in medically underserved communities.

White defended the program Wednesday but said he decided to abandon it to avoid the perception that it was an attempt to draw certain voters to the polls. White is a former chairman of the state Democratic Party and served in the administration of former President Clinton.


So... how did it come to this?

White's decision followed two days of criticism from some conservative bloggers and talk radio shows hosts after officials announced the program Monday. At least 20 other municipalities have launched the same initiative in several states, city officials said.

Local Republicans, who had scheduled an afternoon news conference on the vaccination issue before the mayor's announcement, accused White of deliberately selecting early voting sites in Democratic strongholds in an attempt to gin up votes favorable to city propositions on Tuesday's ballot.

"I think the program was completely motivated by a plan to turn out Democratic voters," said Harris County Republican Chairman Jared Woodfill.


To chairman Woodfill and those "conservative bloggers and talk radio shows hosts [sic]": your concern for the public health is touching. You'd rather see old people get flu and die than see them vote against your candidates. You are a bunch of sick fucks, arguably racist fucks, and what ails you is far worse than the flu.

To every other Republican in Harris County: do you really want to be associated with people like this? If so, what is wrong with you, that you can tolerate denial of health services to poorer, elderly people as just another voter suppression tactic?

Oh, and one more thing. Mayor White... I thought you had 'nads. I guess I was wrong.


Over The EDGE

With Sequoia EDGE voting machines, you can vote twice. Or ten times. Or more. No expertise necessary. explains:

Anyone who can get at the yellow button can ruin the election. It takes no password, no computer knowledge, no equipment.

The formula is printed in materials that have been distributed to thousands of people. The machines will count millions of votes.


Sequoia agreed it could be done, but claimed it would be difficult to do unnoticed (they focused more on voters doing it than the idea of an insider doing it)

The Secretary of State contacted every California county that uses Sequoia and confirmed with them that they were indeed aware of this feature.

California counties are to inform all their poll workers of this and instruct them to be very vigilant during the Election Day to anyone spending too much time in the booth, or reaching around to the back of the machine where the button is located. Poll workers are supposed to be instructed to listen for a beeping sound made when the yellow button is pressed.


Here is how the "Yellow Button Hack" is done:


Oh, no; you're not going to get voting machine hacks from me. But trust me (or read Bev Harris's post): it ain't rocket science, or even computer science. Californians and Floridians, beware; your polls are in danger.

A voting machine with a built-in "Cheat" button? As Dick Cheney would surely say, that's a no-brainer. I.e., nobody with a brain could have designed the thing.


Flaky Cruft

HaloScan is so flaky this morning that you could probably use it in place of phyllo. Baklava, anyone? Have patience and keep trying; occasionally it works.


Common Dreams

Common Dreams is an unabashedly liberal news and opinion clipping site which I find refreshing from time to time, if for nothing else than the absence there of the constant barrage of right-wing opinion commonly labeled "news" these days on supposedly mainstream sources. Thirty or so years ago, Common Dreams would have been considered moderate. Much of it is, in fact, moderate. If it seems otherwise, that is primarily because large quantities of money have purchased the assistance or at least acquiescence of a willing mainstream media in pursuit of an agenda that deserves the term "radical" much more than it merits "conservative." The American public can reasonably be called liberal for the positions they consistently support in polls, or conservative for their affinity for preserving traditions (including the tradition of preferring deliberate, thoroughly considered changes in their government rather than rapid restructuring of its underpinnings), but the one thing Americans as a group cannot reasonably be called is radical. Our current administration is radical, not conservative, a fact to which some conservatives are reluctantly waking up.

In any case, if you're not reading Common Dreams occasionally, you're probably missing something. Here is a sample of today's offerings:

  • Drastic Action on Climate Change is Needed Now - and Here's the Plan -- George Monbiot reviews Nicholas Stern's dramatic assessment of what we must do to avoid catastrophic consequences to civilized life in the coming century. It's not going to be easy... but it appears we have no choice. The only rational disagreements now are not over "whether" but over "when" and "how much." Monbiot examines the realities and proposes some goals... and some means... by which catastrophe may be avoided.

  • Voting Just Isn’t Enough -- Sean Gonsalves examines three items of conventional wisdom about African American voters, then not so much debunks them as places them in the context of the Supreme Court's recent ruling allowing Arizona to keep its new voter ID laws (requiring photo ID and proof of citizenship) in place for this election. Gonsalves makes a persuasive argument that this ruling, by requiring citizens wishing to vote to produce documents that cost money to obtain, has de facto reintroduced the poll tax, which was ruled unconstitutional in 1966. Let me be a bit more explicit than Mr. Gonsalves: in the utter absence of any documented evidence of significant voter fraud (sorry, Ronald Reaganesque anecdotes don't count), these laws are a solution in search of a problem, and the GOP has found that problem in the heavily Democratic voter turnout in poorer districts. As the GOP sees it, no voter... no problem. Where have we heard something like that before? There are even terms for the practice: "voter suppression" (Ed Rollins used that one once; I heard him myself), "KATV" ("keep away the vote," by analogy to "GOTV"), etc. But I suppose if you don't really believe in representative government in the first place, there's no harm in keeping the rabble from voting, right?

  • The Consequences of the Death of Empathy -- The always energetic and often controversial Robert Jensen, tenured professor of journalism at the University of Texas at Austin (not that board members haven't tried to have him fired for his not really excessive political views) takes on the topic of the diminishment of empathy among the privileged (in which term he includes the educated middle class in America) and its consequences in matters of race relations, international outlook and (oddly enough) the more destructive forms of pornography. I do not agree with Jensen in all instances, but he makes persuasive or at least thought-provoking cases on a great many issues. He is not shy about practical activism, either: he appeared and spoke in 2003 at an antiwar protest in which I participated. Preventing the Iraq war was by then a lost cause, but I have to admire Jensen for doing a great deal toward that end.

  • Hampering The Vote -- Robert Kuttner, economist, editor, pundit and author, lists the ways in which the vote is being obstructed, manipulated, litigated over and outright suppressed by today's GOP. He freely admits, as do I, that the practice of machine politics has a long and sordid history heavily involving the Democratic Party of yesteryear. That was then; this, regrettably, is now... and the GOP is far and away today's culprit. For those of us who think representative government is a good thing in and of itself, tweaking the vote is always wrong, no matter who does it. That the GOP has outright systematized the practice of distorting elections is deplorable.

  • Could a New GOP Court Victory and Karl Rove's Attack on Ohio 2006 Doom the Democrats Nationwide? -- Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman look into the results of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling supporting a law imposing extreme voter ID requirements in Ohio. This one looks to me as bad as Florida in 2000. Read the article for details; there's no one money-quote in this one.

  • GOP Ineptitude and Some Advice for Dems -- Molly Ivins (who needs no heroic epithet; her name alone evokes her forthright, typically cheerful approach to the most difficult questions in politics) reminds Democrats to be gracious in victory, if indeed victory is ours next week. All of you know Molly; read and enjoy. (Or not, if you're a real curmudgeon.) An aside: based on a recent photo I saw in the paper edition of the Texas Observer, I'd have to guess that Molly is not in the best of health. If you're the praying sort, say a couple for her.

And that's just part of a couple of days of Common Dreams. Now that you've been reminded, bookmark the site; there's more where that came from.


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The Scariest Thing


One Hundred


Everybody Needs An Outlet


On Finishing What You Start


Wrap Her Up, I'll Take Her


Bush's Second A Fence


Dark Days - UPDATED


Have You Ever Wondered...


Surprise, Surprise


Firefox 2.0 - First Impression


Internet Explorer 7 - First Impression


Make My Arm Like The Other One


I Voted


Brain Full Of Bytes


Sign Of Our Times


Goodbye Habeas Corpus


Friday Repossession Blogging





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Better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity than the constant omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference.
  - FDR

I belong to the Democratic Party wing of the Democratic Party.
  - Paul Wellstone

I am a Democrat without prefix, without suffix, and without apology.
  - Sam Rayburn


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