Media in Trouble: All the news thats UNfit to print!: November 2004

"The information of the people at large can alone make them safe, as they are the sole depositary of our political and religious freedom." --Thomas Jefferson 1810

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Have you ever seen the Supreme Court... on weed?!

Ashcroft V. Raich
Question at hand:
Wether the Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. 801 et seq., exceeds Congress's power
under the Commerce Clause as applied to the intrastate cultivation and possession of
marijuana for purported personal "medicinal" use or to the distribution of marijuana
without charge for such use.

Recently the Court (sans Rehnquist who wrote the Commerce Clause) heard arguments on both sides of a case involving (mainly) two California residents who say medical marijuana helped them survive spinal degeneration and a brain tumor. While California state police said their possession of marijuana was legal within state and local law (homegrown), the governments DEA agents said it was illegal (based on the Controlled Substance Act) and seized their medicine.

Ms. Raich’s doctor has said that she would die if she didn’t smoke pot. It increased her appetite, weight, and helped her deal with nausea and pain associated with chemotherapy. The same is true for many other patients in California and the 11 other states that have passed medical marijuana laws. Yet the Controlled Substances Act disregards any medicinal value for marijuana.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Ms. Raich. The government then appealed to the Supreme Court.

The ruling will be based on wither or not Congress has the authority under the Commerce Clause to stop the use of medical marijuana based on its effects on interstate commerce.

Here are some of the arguments put forth yesterday (highlighted in the Times):

Randy Barnett, a law professor at Boston University who argued on behalf of the two women, said medical use of marijuana was a noneconomic activity that falls outside the power of Congress to regulate trade among the states.

Justice Antonin Scalia said Congress also has adopted endangered species laws making it unlawful to possess items such as eagle feathers or ivory. "Are those laws likewise unconstitutional?'' he asked.

Justice David Souter asked Barnett about the government's estimate that as many as 100,000 people could use marijuana for medical purposes if the court rules for the two women. Barnett disputed the 100,000 number.

But Souter said there could easily be 100,000 cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy in California. He said that would undercut Barnett's argument that the amount of marijuana used for medical purposes would have a "trivial impact'' on the market nationwide and on prices.

Market for marijuana? Prices? I thought if a drug is illegal, it shouldn’t have a market. “By limiting the money going into the market it affects commerce.” OF MARIJUANA? I guess it’s OK to sell but it’s not OK to grow or get for free. Is this starting to sound like the opening scene of Pulp Fiction to anybody else?

After seeing so many commercials about how the sale of marijuana is funding terrorists, I wonder where a member of the Justice Souter gets off wanting to make a ruling based on the impact of medicinal marijuana on the market and prices for said illegal drug.

Justice Breyer then said. "Medicine by regulation is better than medicine by referendum.'' The California law was adopted in a voter referendum in 1996.

This is where the court finally made sense. Marijuana is poorly studied and there is a lack of interest by the pharmaceutical companies, and many federal hurdles to study this drug on a large scale. The Pharmaceutical’s and the FDA should team up and design a double blind placebo controlled study to evaluate the risks and benefits of marijuana. Since the government controls marijuana, the FDA could supply the drug for the study. Surely, the industry wouldn’t have any problems enrolling patients for such a trial (one of the costliest aspects of clinical research). However, developing an herbal medication can drastically reduce the return on investment. One alternative is applying for a patent on a strain of marijuana. Another is treating marijuana as an herbal.

Of course, the FDA was founded based at a time when people were selling tapewormeggs in the form of diet pills. The FDA the shield between the citizens and thecircus tent poison…err potion sellers. Today we are in an age of diet pillsbeing sold as “natural remedies” because they come from naturally occurringherbs, immune to the agency’s tentacles of regulation. Why not treat marijuanaas an herbal? Does it not have the same propensity for abuse as ephedrine?

Instead, the FDA and the Pharmaceutical industry kill pain with Vioxx. While the risks of marijuana are somewhat mysterious and poorly documented in clinical trials, the risks of Vioxx are nothing short of murderous.

I think the Supreme Court should decide this case in favor of Ms. Raich, where her doctor chose a painkiller that at best allowed her to live long enough to face the justices, and at worse didn’t cause a stroke.


Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Sorry for the delay folks.. Happy Turkey day!

Hey bloggers,

Sorry for the delay in putting up some posts. I realize I have been lax a bit, but I have added and changed a few things.

First there is a new subscription form for anyone who hates actually coming here randomly. This is the simplest form of subscribing to my blog. It will email you without any problems whenever I put a new post up.

For the few that have already signed up through my google group. I suggest you sign up again through the bloglet box. Once I know you are all there I will get rid of my googlegroup.

Its just easier that way.

Second, New links section! All teased apart so you don't go cross-eyed. I know I was going cross-eyed before. The link service I had before was bloggrolling. It sucked because it made you pay to divide your links in categories. So I had to go to a Portuguese server all the way across the ocean to get me something free and better. One issue I have already found is that it wont work with apostrophes. Sandro and Jose, sorry.

Third, I am now mobilized. This means you can now carry my blog with you or access it on your cell, PDA, or anything else with an internet connection and a small screen. Fun stuff and its pretty easy. I got the idea from instapunit. That bastard gets millions of hits for saying nothing new or interesting. Goshdammit I too shall one day get that many hits.

I too shall rule the living room of my house instead of a half cube in a big pharmaceutical corporation.

Last bug not least, I have sold out. I have put ads up. This is however, a free service so it can't be considered selling out. These are annoying little tidbits just like my ad is. But hopefully it will give me hits galore.

I shall add more things in the future. When you look at the blog you will see nothing but a bunch of boxes and text hiding my actual post.

But it is all about the hits. Anyway, you tech savvy people will enjoy the winksite, as for the rest of you get with it.!

However, nothing is more important to me than you visiting the site and spending some time clicking around from my links to excellent sources of news that wont make the News Hour with Jim Lehrer.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!


Sunday, November 21, 2004

The 700 Club… A personal account

I sat down the other day and did some research. I subjected myself to an episode of the 700 club to get a feeling for what the religious right was thinking.

I had seen Pat Robertson cajoling with Sean Hannity before, I had seen him on many television news broadcasts, but never his own. I had absolutely no idea what I was in for until I watched.

It was by far the scariest experience I have ever had on television. Let me just describe the format. The 700 Club is primarily a news broadcast with the CBN (Christian Broadcast Network) reporters reporting the news of the day. This time they were discussing Arlen Specter and his recent comments and how Arlen Specter should not be appointed head of the judiciary committee etc. This is when it began. They switch to Pat and he gives his Radical Right Wing talk about how Arlen is literally an impediment to the anti-abortion movement. He proceeded to give the best breakdown of the Nuclear Option that I have seen (and I scoured the net for an easy to read version of what this was). Three bullet points is all Pat needed. I remembered hearing Sean Hannity bring up the nuclear option that night, and, since it was the first time I watched the 700 club, I wasn’t sure which came first Hannity or Robertson with this one.

Either way in three bullet points Pat described the nuclear option and how easy it would be to implement. Then he displays another graphic on the screen with the House and Senate numbers and urged his viewers to call. If they loved God and all that is Holy, they will call their representatives to stop Arlen Specter from chairing the JC and to get the nuclear option up and running.

It was the first of more scary television. All the way through the Robertson commentary, he used God’s name the whole time. Mind you, I have seen other televangelists, they are usually out for themselves, asking for money to heal people and praying and stuff. This was the first time I saw news infused with the Crusade agenda.

Next came a news report that was entirely baseless but started with “In John Kerry’s hometown of Boston Massachusetts, an Extreme Muslim Community has begun construction on a mosque.” This report went on to connect (without really connecting) some of the members of the Muslim group to Wahabiism (an extreme form of Islam, like the kind the hijackers were on 9/11). Went on to say that Tony Blair himself condemned the people building the mosque, cutting to a shot of Tony in the House of Commons saying we will not tolerate terrorist groups. They made up a huge concocted story, of the likes I had never seen before. In short, they played 6 degrees from Tony Blair with these people without proving anything but that there was a mosque being built, and while they denied it, the people building it were islamo-fascist terrorists. By the way, all this is going on in John Kerry’s hometown of Boston.

REDICULOSITY, yes? Or is it Strategery?

Pat came right back on, bashed Muslims, and all religions non-Christian. Saying Jesus is the only way. Etc.

Let the brainwashing continue. So far, we have legislation, and hate towards other religions, specifically the ones we are fighting in the Middle East.

Before he gets to bashing feminism, Pat had a small segment where a woman who watched his show was miraculously cured of cancer. This was a segment complete with a halo lighting effect on the cured (black) person, doctors stating it was a miracle, even I thought it was a miracle.

It seemed so far fetched, then they started to pray. Pat and his sidekick woman (who was wearing a sexy leather short skirt with tassels, real red state looking) start a prayer session where people who are watching are healed by their prayers. The weird part is that they take turns praying. When one is praying, the other is whispering very softly, like subliminal messages. They take turns and by my count, at least 10 people were healed of various diseases, which they didn’t even know they had. Seriously, one of the prayers said that you don’t know you have throat cancer, but you will feel a sharp pain in your neck and it will be gone.

Whew, I was glad my neck didn’t feel funny for once.

Leaving no stone unturned in his crusade show, onto bashing feminism. Pat’s lady sidekick then interviewed Rebecca St. James, a Christian singer. The conversation was based on how hard it is to be a feminist in this world and how much easier it is to just be a woman according to conservative philosophy. Just do whatever men tell you to do and you will be fine. God will help heal all your wounds etc.

Onto the music. Rebecca sings a god song.

Then the last and final stone. The children. Pat’s studio audience is filled with Christian kids who are confused on life. They ask Pat questions about gays, dating, sex, drugs, and politics. I mean these kids probably had the questions given to them but Pat answered each and everyone with nothing short of hatred for all groups who were against Jesus, including gays, liberals, Muslims, and of course exonerated and glorified President Bush.

After sitting through yet another round of Jesus based commercials (that’s right, it’s straight Jesus, even in the ads), I finally understood why people could say:

The country is in God’s hands now.

I urge you all to tune into the 700 club with a strong mind and unwavering spirit. It is an education on Right Wing Morality, and how they can brainwash anyone who is willing to listen. I was almost victimized myself. Be prepared, have a Michael Moore movie on hand to bring you back from the Darkside.

Further reading:
Article in the Guardian (I think the reporter saw the same show I did), if you don't believe anything I say, click the title of the post and check it out.


Saturday, November 20, 2004

Message from Kerry Finally a call for Voter Rights!

Dear Supporter,

I want to thank you personally for what you did in the election -- you rewrote the book on grassroots politics, taking control of campaigns away from big donors. No campaign will ever be the same.

You moved voters, helped hold George Bush accountable, and countered the attacks from big news organizations such as Fox, Sinclair Broadcasting, and conservative talk radio.

And your efforts count now more than ever. Despite the words of cooperation and moderate sounding promises, this administration is planning a right wing assault on values and ideals we hold most deeply. Healthy debate and diverse opinion are being eliminated from the State Department and CIA, and the cabinet is being remade to rubber stamp policies that will undermine Social Security, balloon the deficit, avoid real reforms in health care and education, weaken homeland security, and walk away from critical allies around the world.

Regardless of the outcome of this election, once all the votes are counted -- and they will be counted -- we will continue to challenge this administration. This is not a time for Democrats to retreat and accommodate extremists on critical principles -- it is a time to stand firm.

I will fight for a national standard for federal elections that has both transparency and accountability in our voting system. It's unacceptable in the United States that people still don't have full confidence in the integrity of the voting process.

I ask you to join me in this cause.

And we must fight not only against George Bush's extreme policies -- we must also uphold our own values. This is why on the first day Congress is in session next year, I will introduce a bill to provide every child in America with health insurance. And, with your help, that legislation will be accompanied by the support of hundreds of thousands of Americans.

There are more than eight million uninsured children in our nation.

That's eight million reasons for us to stay together and fight for a new direction. It is a disgrace that in the wealthiest nation on earth, eight million children go without health insurance.

Normally, a member of the Senate will first approach other senators and ask them to co-sponsor a bill before it is introduced -- instead, I am turning to you. Imagine the power of a bill co-sponsored by hundreds of thousands of Americans being presented on the floor of the United States Senate. You can make it happen. Sign our "Every Child Protected" pledge today and forward it to your family, friends, and neighbors:

This is the beginning of a second term effort to hold the Bush administration accountable and to stand up and fight for our principles and our values. They want you to disappear; they are counting on that. I'm confident you will prove them wrong, and you will rewrite history again.

Here is what I want you to know. I understand the strength, commitment, and passion that are at the core of what we built together -- and I am determined to make our collective energy and organization a force to be reckoned with in the weeks and months ahead.

Let's roll up our sleeves and get back to work for our country.

Thank you,

John Kerry


Friday, November 19, 2004

Back to the Axis of Evil

Opium futures rose yesterday on news that Afghanistan, the worlds 3rd poorest country, has reported a sharp, though not record setting, increase of 64% in heroin exports for 2004. Ironically, the year that the United States and NATO had been in complete control of the country and, as President Bush will not let us forget, the famous year that a new Democracy was born. The country’s opium crop is now supplying about 87% of the world’s demand, up from 73% in 2003. Of course, a war doesn’t help the drug industry. To the US and NATO’s reassurance, Afghanistan failed to set a new record in terms of opium production. Well actually, it was disease and bad weather to blame for the non-record setting production. So much for our special forces locking down the drug crops.

As reported by The Nation, the mujahadeen warlords who the US once trusted to capture Osama Bin Laden are now working with Hamid Karzai’s support. They are the Afghan Military Forces supposed to maintain law and order instead they maintain full pockets and smuggle drugs. Once they have reaped their opium and marijuana, they report that these fields have been burned to the country enforcing this mandate, England.

I believe this can be one daunting task that our diplomats and the British should be concerned. What of the ancient and failing war on drugs. Christian Parenti’s report names names. It names locations. Yet the US installed government is running the whole show, with men offered government posts for being murderers, thieves, rapists, and anti-American spokesmen. What of these terrorist factions we are supposed to be fighting against? These are the terrorists that have the potential to poison and desecrate our future generations with the mafia they already have in place.

I was waiting to read about the IMF or the World Bank having had something to do with the situation in Afghanistan but alas, this is a country the United States bungled all on its own. It was one to thing to have the noble cause of democratizing a nation. However, where is the nobility of democratizing a nation yet allowing economic and social corruption not just to persist but also to grow?

Instead, our diplomats choose to ignore the threat of their coveted war on drugs, terror, and human rights violations and turn to the other point on the Axis of Evil. Political arms of terrorist groups are now gathering nuclear intelligence that is negative towards the state they are terrorizing. The United States is taking terrorist groups for their word on arms intelligence. Depending on our terrorist enemies to deliver us with intelligence? Is this not a form of enabling terrorists that this nation and this administration pride itself on fighting a war on? These terrorists are coincidentally in opposition to a political party in Iran. The Arabic word for Contras escapes me, though the irony that the Contras used to be in Nicaragua and we used to sell the arms Iran does not.

Iran-gate should be solved in due time though. With only a drop of the experience the ousted agents possessed, Porter Goss’ new crop of partisan intelligence officers surely will “not identify with, support or champion opposition to the administration or its policies.” Once these recruits complete orientation, I am sure they will be hard at work making a case for war based on questionable findings made by the National Council of Resistance to Iran.

Unlike Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice is sure to be easier to convince to appear before the UN with another shaky case for war and cartoon visual aides for the world to laugh at.

Have the Representatives we hired on The Hill learned any valuable lessons from the last four years? Or, will they give Bush what so many of his voters asked for?

Four more years!

Further Reading:
(WaPo's article about CoPo's Intel, David Albright's take on Iran, Christian Parenti's report)


Thursday, November 18, 2004

Rules were meant to be broken

The Republicans in the Senate and House have decided that with the “will of the people at their backs” they don’t have to play by the rules anymore. Instead of fighting the system, just change the rules and have the system fight for you?

First rule change of the year occurred on Wednesday when Rep. Henry Bonilla (R-Texas) and the House Republicans decided that if a leader of a party is indicted in a criminal case there will be no need to step down as leader of the house. In fact, Tom Delay faces a possible indictment after two of his fundraisers have already been indicted for breaking fund raising regulations on Delay’s Texas redistricting magic trick. Delay himself has already had a couple of slaps on the wrist from the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct. So, what if I am a criminal I can still do my job. Isn’t that what we have told to people like Ken Lay, and Other White Collar criminals?

Never mind the dirty tricks used by Republicans in the early 1990’s plucking Democrats out of the House one by one until they no longer had Majority. Delay said, “You give me one instance when this conference has done anything unethically.” I can think of many.

I thought no one in this country was above the law. I think an aide to a Democratic leader said it best: “It would be the height of hypocrisy for a party that came to power promising to clean house to deliberately clear the way for a corrupt and unethical member under indictment to lead the people’s House.”

Now for rule change number two.

The Republican Conference (incidentally) also changed the rule for Senate Republicans to give Bill Frist the power to determine who fills half of the Republican vacancies on “A” committees. There are 12 “A” committees, which include desirable and controversial panels, such as Agriculture, Armed Services, Appropriations, Finance and Judiciary. Senate Republicans passed this on a 27-26 secret vote including the freshmen. It is a good thing this was a secret vote, otherwise 26 good-hearted Senators would be out of contention for any committees.

Onto rule change number three.

The nuclear option is so named because it undermines the only power (that to filibuster) a minority has in the Senate and destroys filibuster possibilities for future Senates. With the help of the President of the Senate (Dick Cheney), the current congress can change a rule to end filibusters with a simple majority of 51 votes. This would affect future Senates including the one about to start January 6th. In 1975 (ironically by the hands of a Democratic majority) the nuclear option was used to change the rule for ending a filibuster from a 2/3 majority or 67 votes, to where it is now of 3/5 majority or 60 votes.

The republicans are on a rampage on the hill, bringing forth their agenda and wanting to push the President’s appointees, be it in the nation’s courts, the CIA, or the cabinet. All of which hang on a 61 Senate majority to pass a filibuster as the rules stand now. It remains to be seen whether the Republicans are truly uniters or are just Power hungry. If they are uniters, they will consider the nuclear option a non-viable one. However, as they have shown in the past their agenda trumps anything, even the wishes of their own constituents.

56 million people would be utterly disappointed if the republicans have their way.

For further reading:
nuclear option, Frist power move, Delay rule change


Friday, November 12, 2004

Shoot the Messenger. The death of Investigative Journalism.

Following the post-election trend, the media (like the Democratic Party) is trying to regroup and reconsider its stance in this country. I was little impressed with the recent Newseum Panel looking forward to a Second Bush term (C-SPAN). The conference was supposed to address the shocking poll numbers in favor of the now over-covered, over-analyzed “value voters” and where the press went wrong in the first term. Ignoring the numbers making up more than 40% of the electorate concerned with Iraq and Terror. One can only watch in awe as these numbers of course reflect the lackadaisical media’s apathy at getting their questions answered. A majority of American’s are still thinking Saddam demolished the World Trade Center and that the WMD’s are in Iraq, were there, or have already been found there (albeit by the insurgents).

Judging whether or not they are biased, media outlets are fortunate enough to wear their politics on their front pages. The so called “informers of the electorate” should be asking themselves why they endorsed a candidate at all. Whilst allowing politicians to fly by press conferences without reporters pointing out lies.

A keen observer at the conference was indeed wise to this fact essentially asking why the media didn’t hold The Hill’s feet to the fire leading up to and throughout the Iraq war. In response, Juan Williams (NPR) and the rest of the panel resorted to the Fox News credo “we report you decide” concluding with “do you want to shoot the messenger? I think that’s ridiculous.” Meanwhile, the midst of this conference, fact based “rumors” of widespread voter fraud circulate ON the internet and OFF the major media outlets. The “legitimate” press is quick to blame bloggers stating they too had an impact on forwarding false news.

It was Dan Rather who when attempting to surface the fact based (yet poorly documented) story about Bush’s past got pummeled for being partisan. Where is this country's press going? They have become a mere spokesgroup for the liars on The Hill. Recalling Dick Cheney’s statements about “operational relationships between Saddam and OBL”, interviewers rarely ask (or re-ask) questions that can be called “Hardballs.” Only once in the election cycle do I recall a reporter actually stating, “He didn’t answer my question” kudos Gwen Ifill.

Monitoring press from around the world Freedom House released a report in which the United States “free press” stands measly 15th on the global list with countries such as Palau and St. Lucia ahead of them. When watching news from countries like Portugal (lower on the list) where they hound and harass politicians to, as president Bush said, “keep them honest.” This report was released in April, before the bloodiest months in Iraq were ahead of us.

Carole Simpson claimed that news programs are not geared towards young audiences, and their apathy is part of the reason they didn’t vote. A conference such as this has ignored the fact that the youth turnout was in fact 4.6 million stronger, choosing instead to look at the percentage of the electorate. The same media publishing that Bush has a mandate, ignoring the 55 million votes against him. Why should the youth watch themselves being ignored?

The press has become the provider of the pundits with words from The Hill. Leaving it to the pundits to decide for the people who is telling the truth and who is not. Should we blame the pundits? They are just using the preaching the distortions allowed by incomplete stories. Answering the questions that go unasked by the press corps.

Not once in the Newseum Conference was Corporate media control addressed by the panel of journalists (among them conservative columnist Pat Buchanan).

Journalists are quick to state that they can loose their sources should they make them walk on hot coals. As long as books from Washington insiders such as Anonymous, Robert Byrd, Paul O’Neil, Richard Clarke, the 911 Commission, and others riddle the best seller lists, I strongly doubt these sources will be exhausted.

The death of investigative journalism is near, with the only story that can possibly be called investigative journalism during Bush’s first term was the Abu Ghraib scandal unearthed the way any story should be, by Seymour Hersh. Unfortunately, Mr. Hersh was not on the Newseum panel.


Thursday, November 11, 2004

The Delusional Debate Ashcroft vs. Gonzales

Now that the election is over we find that cabinet members begin to fly off the Bush wagon faster than Bush himself did.

Andrew Card will remain as chief of staff but soon he will have a fresh batch of staffers to look after. I can’t wait.

Luckily enough the White House gave the papers some fodder to get over their post election news slump. John Ashcroft resigned. Before you can start singing let the eagle soar (as he did in this video clip).

Bush appoints Uncle Al Gonzalez to calm our worries about another 4 years of siphoning your civil liberties.

However, further investigation informs us that Uncle Al really is not just a Hispanic who grew from the poorest of the poor to eventually serve his country, go to Rice, trust in god to get him into Harvard law and sure enough became a lawyer. Uncle Al has been hanging on to Bush’s coattails ever since. Uncle Al’s first job was working for the boys at Enron (which I don’t think got enough coverage this election cycle, take that democrats). Once he was done finagling Ken Lay and the rest of the Enron worms he got promoted to the Texas State Supreme Court. Presiding over cases without ever having judicial experience. He was known to draft memos on the morning of the 150 executions presided over by Bush himself. These memos were “briefs” about the cases of the men who were going to be jolted that morning. These memos were the final chance for keeping these men from the chair.

One of his legacy decisions being debated today is the fact that he went against Texas’ parental notification law granting a 17 year old girl an abortion without having to inform her parents who would have beaten the crap out of her.

That was then this is now. Uncle Al for the last 4 years drafted The PATRIOT Act and all the laws and led to the rodeo at Guantanamo. Al (as he allows even CSPAN interviewers to call him) is on record dismissing the Geneva conventions stating “this new paradigm [war on terror] renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions requiring that captured enemy be afforded such things as commissary privileges” (fact check).

So where is the debate about this guy being just another one of Bush’s henchmen against our civil liberties? Conservatives focus on his lone liberal decision I mentioned above.

As we all now know the nation is in a time of healing. It would look bad to have a conservative Attorney General, one who happens to be Bush’s protégé. Thus the conservatives start their facetious argument against him, calling him a liberal for his stance on the parental notification in the abortion case.

Turning the rhetoric around is this administration’s strongest attribute. They have done it for the past four years with Iraq, Terrorism, and just yesterday by making us feel safe by lowering the national threat level back to peaceful yellow.

Why shouldn’t they! The president has a fresh batch of controversial political capital, and he’s got Uncle Al on his team now.

And anyway, Ashcroft did a fine job, as he said in his last words as Attorney General:
“The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved.”

The Global War on Terror is over! Bring the boys back home!


Wednesday, November 10, 2004


Click Here
Urge your elected officials to take action on the voter fraud allegations that have been surfacing in Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, and New Hampshire.

This is extremely important. My article that I wrote is turning out to be more and more true and less and less of a "tin foil hat conspiracy theory"

It needs to be noticed and it needs to be brough to the attention of congress which reconvenes next week on November 14th.

GET ON THIS ONE PEOPLE. If you believe in Democracy you should be absolutely active with this one. This probably won't change the election results however, it has the possibility of becoming the first step in fixing election fraud "again".


Check for more information regarding what happened in these states.


Sunday, November 07, 2004

Fraud Schmaud? Is the "Liberal Media" Reaching, or are They Onto Something?

At first I dismissed it as a conspiracy theory that the far left was reaching for. I thought we are all in denial about why we lost and there are 3.5 million more voters on the evil doer’s side than ours. I started doubting whether or not people were sane. My jaded self was coming to grips with how many people voted against their interests.

Then I ran across stories of voter fraud which had some foreshadowing in this years news cycle. With things I highlighted in this blog I figured we would be in for a treat come Election Day for yet another disputed and unfair and certainly unfree election. As Election Day neared there were challengers allowed at polling places from both parties.

I wondered how many calls had come into the "My Vote" hotlines determined to document voter fraud occurring in this country. NBC’s voter fraud hotline has not yet released and hard numbers, yet from Florida alone had at least 11,000 calls on Election Day. With a possible 500,000 calls from Michigan up to and including Election Day. Something unthinkable in any other democracy. Look at the stink that election fraud caused in Afghanistan. Not to mention that they are in another country at least we knew about it. And they are just getting started. However, that was a true landslide and our election was not.

55 million people voted for the alternative and that is far from being a landslide in an unprecedented electoral turnout on all fronts and sides. It truly was the most important election of our lives and we blew it.

However, I voted on a machine. One I didn’t really trust but since the absentee ballot that I ordered was so damned complicated I was forced by my own stupidity to vote on a machine that gave me no real confidence my vote was going to be counted or that it was actually who I voted for.

In any case I began to read as usual and noticed that the left was putting out articles claiming voter fraud in Florida and Ohio. Two places where I think everyone was shocked by the outcome. I noticed on some of these websites were crying bloody murder that the exit polls used to call so many elections in other democracies were so wrong this time.

Focused more still on the fact that they were mostly wrong on swing states such as Ohio and Florida I began to wonder. Here are just a few links to articles that would either peak your interest or encourage your dismissal of left wing conspiracy theories:

Thom Hartmann wrote in his article about some of the problems in Florida:

“In Baker County, for example, with 12,887 registered voters, 69.3% of them Democrats and 24.3% of them Republicans, the vote was only 2,180 for Kerry and 7,738 for Bush, the opposite of what is seen everywhere else in the country where registered Democrats largely voted for Kerry.
In Dixie County, with 4,988 registered voters, 77.5% of them Democrats and a mere 15% registered as Republicans, only 1,959 people voted for Kerry, but 4,433 voted for Bush.
The pattern repeats over and over again - but only in the counties where optical scanners were used. Franklin County, 77.3% registered Democrats, went 58.5% for Bush. Holmes County, 72.7% registered Democrats, went 77.25% for Bush.”

Don’t doubt it trusty readers. The get out the vote effort was strong on the democratic side and I was part of it. Not only that but the fact that these GOTV efforts are not some phony two bit canvassing operations. They are well studied and well organized to target communities that are indeed in favor of the democrats while bolstering their efforts in swing communities.

It seems the GOP rather than intimidating voters pushed of course for an electronic system that had already been shown to fail in the 2000 election and pushed for a less controllable system issued by a corporation.

Once we corporatize the vote in this country there will no longer be free and fair elections. We have seen this happen already to ex Senator Max Cleland. Where the e-voting machines were found to have a patch named “Rob Georgia.”

Even Democrat hater Dick Morris called the networks on this whacky exit poll information. He too believed the numbers in those states. The problems began with the optical scan voting machine numbers started rolling in.

Bev Harris was at the forefront of the debacle in Florida in 2000. She pointed out all the problems with voter intimidation, optical scan machines, and butterfly ballots. All the electoral inconsistencies this country faces at the polls. Skepticism became intrigue. I woke up this morning and in Wired Magazine (a respectable publication that actually knows a little something about computers) broke the story that I had read about on Friday.

After Bev Harris had filed the largest Freedom of Information claim in the History of the United States, indeed 3 Congressmen from Michigan, Florida, and New York have written to the General Accounting Office looking into some of the claims voters had made in Ohio and Florida.
Bev Harris demonstrated on Tina Brown’s Topic A show on NBC that election results are fed to a Windows based computer. While the software that runs the information is secure, its security is undermined by it being run on a PC.

While the results of this election are more than likely going to be unaffected by this inquiry and investigation; it is a black mark on our democracy that this investigation actually hasn’t occurred or is more than likely going to be suppressed by the government agencies.
However, it is even more of a smear of our “free democracy” that this investigation must even occur. Ladies and Gentleman this is worse that Pete Rose betting on baseball.

It is aspiring or current members of Your Government betting on YOUR COUNTRY.

Your Freedoms. The only freedom in complete control of our hands.

Or have we that already let that one go.


2100, Got Ice?

As Bush gets Elected again for the first time. Reality once again as it has for 4 years now begun to smack Georgey in the face.

The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) report is due November 8th. This is a joint venture between the counries that produce 30% of the worlds CO2 emmisions. Official sponsors from the United States, Canada, Russia, Japan, Finland, Sweden, Iceland and Norway have confirmed that within a generation or two the earths polar ice caps will be melting.

Global warming will lead to a rise of about 1 meter in sea levels, and subsequent death or serious hard times of the 17 million people who live below 1 meter of sea level.

Polar bears will be extinct since they rely heavily on sea lions that live on the ice caps.

Florida, New Orleans, and other US cities will be affected as well.

As Russia ratifies the Kyoto treaty designed as a colaborative effort to decrease global CO2 emmisions Bush continues to rebuke this and other treaties. While Bush promises to begin to "reach out to everyone who shares our goals." Even the cold blooded Ruskies have trumped us on this one.

While this reality of the polar ice melt will only materialize during our grandchildrens time on earth, it is the responsibility of government and each and every one of us to pu tpolicy ahead of special interests on the environment.

Since Bush's second debate he stated he didn't want to be involved in the Kyoto treaty because it would hurt american businesses.

Mr. Bush don't you think you have helped these businesses enough already?


Friday, November 05, 2004

Blame it on the rain! Where do we go from here?

Click the title!

OK folks, I have finally picked up my head off the ground and come to grips with the election of Bush (he finally won an election without any help from Katherine Harris, brother Jeb, or the Supreme Court).

The media has begun pointing fingers in every direction and every single person from God to Gays.

I shall not venture into that realm. It is overly stated in the media and I personally want to decide what the hell I am supposed to do with this blog for the next 4 years besides bash Bush and keep a watchdog’s eye on the media.

I am conflicted on a very personal level. My priorities in this election were to 1) get Bush out and 2) should #1 be realized, I would work towards the progress of a viable and strong third party. I worked a bit harder than ever before and most of my friends to try and swing this election away from Bush. I helped register voters, I made phone calls to Kerry volunteers to get them to canvas, I made phone calls to swing state voters, I even went as low as to donate funds to the DCCC, MoveOn, and Ralph Nader. All this without yet receiving my phone bills.

So I had a personal investment of my time and (god damn it) money in this election and I wanted Bush out. It seemed like a no-brainer to me, with all the facts that are out there. However, just as one promotes democracy by getting out the vote one needs to accept the final result of this election. The reason people vote is to bring their personal views and political agendas to the forefront. The result is what is happening within the Democratic Party at this stage is just that. They are scratching their heads wondering what went wrong and what did they do wrong. We underestimated the religious right. Was it Nader? Was it the message or the messenger? Was it lack of red meat or too much? Who’s head rolls? Who to appoint as a new head? Was it the lack of new voters or young voters? (actually this one has already been debunked. The youth vote was nearly 21 million the best percentage since 1972; 54% to Kerry 44% to Bush.)

Why don’t they do what they always do…check with the focus groups.

I blame the rain. It rained in Ohio all day Tuesday and into the night. It has been long known that rain affects voter turnout and the party that stands to benefit most from turnout. Typically this is the Democratic Party and this year it is probably no different.

Since God is the one making it rain, maybe (as one of my coworkers put it) “the country [really] is in God’s hands.”

Since I don’t believe in God, my personal battle within my head is where to go from here. What is done is done and with less power in Congress for the Democrats it is difficult to say what is to come. Without the usual checks and balances, let’s hope the press does its job this time around and keeps the politicians honest. With the federal athority given to the Republicans, it is time to go local!

There are 55 million voters who voted against Bush. While this is the largest Democratic vote ever achieved, what does the party do with it?

I am a firm believer in a third party becoming more important and apparent in elections in this country. Election reform itself is also at the top of my priority list of things that should be done. Media balance is another big one. I think Air America and NPR can handle it well enough on their own. So, I won’t be working too hard on this one. Though I do think you should donate some money to your local public broadcasters.

So let me state what I think should be done. I urge all my readers to work at getting a viable third party put together. While I realize that the Democrats have never been so united, and this unity probably shouldn’t be messed with. It could be diverted, for the time being, to electing officials into congress and local governments throughout the country. This would not hurt the Democratic Party as much as one would think. Independents voted in large part away from a third party because most of their goals are alike (that’s how Nader wound up being labeled a spoiler in 2000).

While democrats try and figure things out amongst them, the Third Party candidates are already platform specific and their platform hasn’t wavered that much in recent history. They stand for what they stand for, and most of them stand for electoral reform. Making Instant Run-off elections a priority and subsequently making ballots standardized throughout the country.

It befuddles me that in an election for federal office there is no standard “United States Ballot.” In fact there aren’t even consistencies within a given state. Each County seems to have made up its own mind as to which ballot is going to be used in their county.

Unlike Nader, who thinks that by running for president and being ignored whilst doing so is the best way to start a third party. I believe we need to start from the ground up with or without Nader’s help. With all this “political capital” in our hands right now, we should spend it on at least this issue.

We have learned in 2000 and now this year (with the millions of provisional ballots handed out) that the operational aspect of the system is not working well. The election system in this country is far from being fair and all inclusive. A detriment to democracy.

A few links to the federal and local election board officials:

To all my readers I ask you to join me in a real crusade (not like the one Mr. Bush is on). I ask that you write a letter to your local elected and county board officials. I ask that you ask for a federally standardized simplified voting system that involves a paper ballot that anyone can complete without many instructions. I also ask that you become informed of up-coming elections that are in your area. Register people to vote every chance you get. Get out the Vote at every election. Ask your county official for registration roles in your county and make phone calls. Get friends together to join in your efforts.

As I have said before, Democracy is not a passive system of governing and the religious right just proved it to us. They got out the vote where it counted and were able to make a difference. Knowing their president to be is in line with their opinions I am sure their agenda will get pushed through.

All it takes is a little effort from each of us.


Wednesday, November 03, 2004

We must kleep fighting no matter what!

For those of us who are aching today.

Here are some nice words from Bill Moyers.

More to come once I left my head up.

This is Your Story – The Progressive Story of America. Pass It On.
by Bill Moyers

Text of speech to the Take Back America conference
sponsored by the Campaign for America’s Future
June 4, 2003
Washington, DC

In one way or another, this is the oldest story in America: the struggle to determine whether "we, the people" is a spiritual idea embedded in a political reality – one nation, indivisible – or merely a charade masquerading as piety and manipulated by the powerful and privileged to sustain their own way of life at the expense of others.

Let me make it clear that I don't harbor any idealized notion of politics and democracy; I worked for Lyndon Johnson, remember? Nor do I romanticize "the people." You should read my mail – or listen to the vitriol virtually spat at my answering machine. I understand what the politician meant who said of the Texas House of Representatives, "If you think these guys are bad, you should see their constituents."

But there is nothing idealized or romantic about the difference between a society whose arrangements roughly serve all its citizens and one whose institutions have been converted into a stupendous fraud. That difference can be the difference between democracy and oligarchy.

Look at our history. All of us know that the American Revolution ushered in what one historian called "The Age of Democratic Revolutions." For the Great Seal of the United States the new Congress went all the way back to the Roman poet Virgil: Novus Ordo Seclorum" – "a new age now begins." Page Smith reminds us that "their ambition was not merely to free themselves from dependence and subordination to the Crown but to inspire people everywhere to create agencies of government and forms of common social life that would offer greater dignity and hope to the exploited and suppressed" – to those, in other words, who had been the losers. Not surprisingly, the winners often resisted. In the early years of constitution-making in the states and emerging nation, aristocrats wanted a government of propertied "gentlemen" to keep the scales tilted in their favor. Battling on the other side were moderates and even those radicals harboring the extraordinary idea of letting all white males have the vote. Luckily, the weapons were words and ideas, not bullets. Through compromise and conciliation the draftsmen achieved a Constitution of checks and balances that is now the oldest in the world, even as the revolution of democracy that inspired it remains a tempestuous adolescent whose destiny is still up for grabs. For all the rhetoric about "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," it took a civil war to free the slaves and another hundred years to invest their freedom with meaning. Women only gained the right to vote in my mother's time. New ages don't arrive overnight, or without "blood, sweat, and tears."

You know this. You are the heirs of one of the country's great traditions – the progressive movement that started late in the l9th century and remade the American experience piece by piece until it peaked in the last third of the 20th century. I call it the progressive movement for lack of a more precise term. Its aim was to keep blood pumping through the veins of democracy when others were ready to call in the mortician. Progressives exalted and extended the original American revolution. They spelled out new terms of partnership between the people and their rulers. And they kindled a flame that lit some of the most prosperous decades in modern history, not only here but in aspiring democracies everywhere, especially those of western Europe.

Step back with me to the curtain-raiser, the founding convention of the People's Party – better known as the Populists – in 1892. The members were mainly cotton and wheat farmers from the recently reconstructed South and the newly settled Great Plains, and they had come on hard, hard times, driven to the wall by falling prices for their crops on one hand and racking interest rates, freight charges and supply costs on the other. This in the midst of a booming and growing industrial America. They were angry, and their platform – issued deliberately on the 4th of July – pulled no punches. "We meet," it said, "in the midst of a nation brought to the verge of moral, political and material ruin....Corruption dominates the ballot box, the [state] legislatures and the Congress and touches even the bench.....The newspapers are largely subsidized or muzzled, public opinion silenced....The fruits of the toil of millions are boldly stolen to build up colossal fortunes for a few."

Furious words from rural men and women who were traditionally conservative and whose memories of taming the frontier were fresh and personal. But in their fury they invoked an American tradition as powerful as frontier individualism – the war on inequality and especially on the role that government played in promoting and preserving inequality by favoring the rich. The Founding Fathers turned their backs on the idea of property qualifications for holding office under the Constitution because they wanted no part of a 'veneration for wealth" in the document. Thomas Jefferson, while claiming no interest in politics, built up a Republican Party – no relation to the present one – to take the government back from the speculators and "stock-jobbers," as he called them, who were in the saddle in 1800. Andrew Jackson slew the monster Second Bank of the United States, the 600-pound gorilla of the credit system in the 1830s, in the name of the people versus the aristocrats who sat on the bank's governing board.

All these leaders were on record in favor of small government – but their opposition wasn't simply to government as such. It was to government's power to confer privilege on insiders; on the rich who were democracy's equivalent of the royal favorites of monarchist days. (It's what the FCC does today.) The Populists knew it was the government that granted millions of acres of public land to the railroad builders. It was the government that gave the manufacturers of farm machinery a monopoly of the domestic market by a protective tariff that was no longer necessary to shelter "infant industries." It was the government that contracted the national currency and sparked a deflationary cycle that crushed debtors and fattened the wallets of creditors. And those who made the great fortunes used them to buy the legislative and judicial favors that kept them on top. So the Populists recognized one great principle: the job of preserving equality of opportunity and democracy demanded the end of any unholy alliance between government and wealth. It was, to quote that platform again, "from the same womb of governmental injustice" that tramps and millionaires were bred.

But how? How was the democratic revolution to be revived? The promise of the Declaration reclaimed? How were Americans to restore government to its job of promoting the general welfare? And here, the Populists made a breakthrough to another principle. In a modern, large-scale, industrial and nationalized economy it wasn't enough simply to curb the government's outreach. That would simply leave power in the hands of the great corporations whose existence was inseparable from growth and progress. The answer was to turn government into an active player in the economy at the very least enforcing fair play, and when necessary being the friend, the helper and the agent of the people at large in the contest against entrenched power. So the Populist platform called for government loans to farmers about to lose their mortgaged homesteads – for government granaries to grade and store their crops fairly – for governmental inflation of the currency, which was a classical plea of debtors – and for some decidedly non-classical actions like government ownership of the railroad, telephone and telegraph systems and a graduated – i.e., progressive tax on incomes and a flat ban on subsidies to "any private corporation." And to make sure the government stayed on the side of the people, the 'Pops' called for the initiative and referendum and the direct election of Senators.

Predictably, the Populists were denounced, feared and mocked as fanatical hayseeds ignorantly playing with socialist fire. They got twenty-two electoral votes for their candidate in '92, plus some Congressional seats and state houses, but it was downhill from there for many reasons. America wasn't – and probably still isn't – ready for a new major party. The People's Party was a spent rocket by 1904. But if political organizations perish, their key ideas don't – keep that in mind, because it give prospective to your cause today. Much of the Populist agenda would become law within a few years of the party's extinction. And that was because it was generally shared by a rising generation of young Republicans and Democrats who, justly or not, were seen as less outrageously outdated than the embattled farmers. These were the progressives, your intellectual forebears and mine.

One of my heroes in all of this is William Allen White, a Kansas country editor – a Republican – who was one of them. He described his fellow progressives this way:

"What the people felt about the vast injustice that had come with the settlement of a continent, we, their servants – teachers, city councilors, legislators, governors, publishers, editors, writers, representatives in Congress and Senators – all made a part of our creed. Some way, into the hearts of the dominant middle class of this country, had come a sense that their civilization needed recasting, that their government had fallen into the hands of self-seekers, that a new relationship should be established between the haves and the have-nots."

They were a diverse lot, held together by a common admiration of progress – hence the name – and a shared dismay at the paradox of poverty stubbornly persisting in the midst of progress like an unwanted guest at a wedding. Of course they welcomed, just as we do, the new marvels in the gift-bag of technology – the telephones, the autos, the electrically-powered urban transport and lighting systems, the indoor heating and plumbing, the processed foods and home appliances and machine-made clothing that reduced the sweat and drudgery of home-making and were affordable to an ever-swelling number of people. But they saw the underside, too – the slums lurking in the shadows of the glittering cities, the exploited and unprotected workers whose low-paid labor filled the horn of plenty for others, the misery of those whom age, sickness, accident or hard times condemned to servitude and poverty with no hope of comfort or security.

This is what's hard to believe – hardly a century had passed since 1776 before the still-young revolution was being strangled in the hard grip of a merciless ruling class. The large corporations that were called into being by modern industrialism after 1865 – the end of the Civil War – had combined into trusts capable of making minions of both politics and government. What Henry George called "an immense wedge" was being forced through American society by "the maldistribution of wealth, status, and opportunity."

We should pause here to consider that this is Karl Rove's cherished period of American history; it was, as I read him, the seminal influence on the man who is said to be George W.'s brain. From his own public comments and my reading of the record, it is apparent that Karl Rove has modeled the Bush presidency on that of William McKinley, who was in the White House from 1897 to 1901, and modeled himself on Mark Hanna, the man who virtually manufactured McKinley. Hanna had one consummate passion – to serve corporate and imperial power. It was said that he believed "without compunction, that the state of Ohio existed for property. It had no other function...Great wealth was to be gained through monopoly, through using the State for private ends; it was axiomatic therefore that businessmen should run the government and run it for personal profit."

Mark Hanna – Karl Rove's hero – made William McKinley governor of Ohio by shaking down the corporate interests of the day. Fortunately, McKinley had the invaluable gift of emitting sonorous platitudes as though they were recently discovered truth. Behind his benign gaze the wily intrigues of Mark Hanna saw to it that first Ohio and then Washington were "ruled by bankers, railroads and public utility corporations." Any who opposed the oligarchy were smeared as disturbers of the peace, socialists, anarchists, "or worse." Back then they didn't bother with hollow euphemisms like "compassionate conservatism" to disguise the raw reactionary politics that produced government "of, by, and for" the ruling corporate class. They just saw the loot and went for it.

The historian Clinton Rossiter describes this as the period of "the great train robbery of American intellectual history." Conservatives – or better, pro-corporate apologists – hijacked the vocabulary of Jeffersonian liberalism and turned words like "progress", "opportunity", and "individualism" into tools for making the plunder of America sound like divine right. Charles Darwin's theory of evolution was hijacked, too, so that conservative politicians, judges, and publicists promoted, as if it were, the natural order of things, the notion that progress resulted from the elimination of the weak and the "survival of the fittest."

This "degenerate and unlovely age," as one historian calls it, exists in the mind of Karl Rove – the reputed brain of George W. Bush – as the seminal age of inspiration for the politics and governance of America today.

No wonder that what troubled our progressive forebears was not only the miasma of poverty in their nostrils, but the sour stink of a political system for sale. The United States Senate was a "millionaire's club." Money given to the political machines that controlled nominations could buy controlling influence in city halls, state houses and even courtrooms. Reforms and improvements ran into the immovable resistance of the almighty dollar. What, progressives wondered, would this do to the principles of popular government? Because all of them, whatever party they subscribed to, were inspired by the gospel of democracy. Inevitably, this swept them into the currents of politics, whether as active officeholders or persistent advocates.

Here's a small, but representative sampling of their ranks. Jane Addams forsook the comforts of a middle-class college graduate's life to live in Hull House in the midst of a disease-ridden and crowded Chicago immigrant neighborhood, determined to make it an educational and social center that would bring pride, health and beauty into the lives of her poor neighbors. She was inspired by "an almost passionate devotion to the ideals of democracy," to combating the prevailing notion "that the well being of a privileged few might justly be built upon the ignorance and sacrifice of the many." Community and fellowship were the lessons she drew from her teachers, Jesus and Abraham Lincoln. But people simply helping one another couldn't move mountains of disadvantage. She came to see that "private beneficence" wasn't enough. But to bring justice to the poor would take more than soup kitchens and fundraising prayer meetings. "Social arrangements," she wrote, "can be transformed through man's conscious and deliberate effort." Take note – not individual regeneration or the magic of the market, but conscious, cooperative effort.

Meet a couple of muckraking journalists. Jacob Riis lugged his heavy camera up and down the staircases of New York's disease-ridden, firetrap tenements to photograph the unspeakable crowding, the inadequate toilets, the starved and hollow-eyed children and the filth on the walls so thick that his crude flash equipment sometimes set it afire. Bound between hard covers, with Riis's commentary, they showed comfortable New Yorkers "How the Other Half Lives." They were powerful ammunition for reformers who eventually brought an end to tenement housing by state legislation. And Lincoln Steffens, college and graduate-school educated, left his books to learn life from the bottom up as a police-beat reporter on New York's streets. Then, as a magazine writer, he exposed the links between city bosses and businessmen that made it possible for builders and factory owners to ignore safety codes and get away with it. But the villain was neither the boodler nor the businessman. It was the indifference of a public that "deplore[d] our politics and laud[ed] our business; that transformed law, medicine, literature and religion into simply business. Steffens was out to slay the dragon of exalting "the commercial spirit" over the goals of patriotism and national prosperity. "I am not a scientist," he said. "I am a journalist. I did not gather the facts and arrange them patiently for permanent preservation and laboratory analysis....My purpose was. see if the shameful facts, spread out in all their shame, would not burn through our civic shamelessness and set fire to American pride."

If corrupt politics bred diseases that could be fatal to democracy, then good politics was the antidote. That was the discovery of Ray Stannard Baker, another journalistic progressive who started out with a detest for election-time catchwords and slogans. But he came to see that "Politics could not be abolished or even was in its essence the method by which communities worked out their common problems. It was one of the principle arts of living peacefully in a crowded world," he said [Compare that to Grover Norquist's latest declaration of war on the body politic. "We are trying to change the tones in the state capitals – and turn them toward bitter nastiness and partisanship." He went on to say that bi-partisanship is another name for date rape."]

There are more, too many more to call to the witness stand here, but I want you to hear some of the things they had to say. There were educators like the economist John R. Commons or the sociologist Edward A. Ross who believed that the function of "social science" wasn't simply to dissect society for non-judgmental analysis and academic promotion, but to help in finding solutions to social problems. It was Ross who pointed out that morality in a modern world had a social dimension. In "Sin and Society," written in 1907, he told readers that the sins "blackening the face of our time" were of a new variety, and not yet recognized as such. "The man who picks pockets with a railway rebate, murders with an adulterant instead of a bludgeon, burglarizes with a 'rake-off' instead of a jimmy, cheats with a company instead of a deck of cards, or scuttles his town instead of his ship, does not feel on his brow the brand of a malefactor." In other words upstanding individuals could plot corporate crimes and sleep the sleep of the just without the sting of social stigma or the pangs of conscience. Like Kenneth Lay, they could even be invited into the White House to write their own regulations.

And here are just two final bits of testimony from actual politicians – first, Brand Whitlock, Mayor of Toledo. He is one of my heroes because he first learned his politics as a beat reporter in Chicago, confirming my own experience that there's nothing better than journalism to turn life into a continuing course in adult education. One of his lessons was that "the alliance between the lobbyists and the lawyers of the great corporation interests on the one hand, and the managers of both the great political parties on the other, was a fact, the worst feature of which was that no one seemed to care."

And then there is Tom Johnson, the progressive mayor of Cleveland in the early nineteen hundreds – a businessman converted to social activism. His major battles were to impose regulation, or even municipal takeover, on the private companies that were meant to provide affordable public transportation and utilities but in fact crushed competitors, overcharged customers, secured franchises and licenses for a song, and paid virtually nothing in taxes – all through their pocketbook control of lawmakers and judges. Johnson's argument for public ownership was simple: "If you don't own them, they will own you. It's why advocates of Clean Elections today argue that if anybody's going to buy Congress, it should be the people." When advised that businessmen got their way in Washington because they had lobbies and consumers had none, Tom Johnson responded: "If Congress were true to the principles of democracy it would be the people's lobby." What a radical contrast to the House of Representatives today!

Our political, moral, and intellectual forbearance occupy a long and honorable roster. They include wonderful characters like Dr. Alice Hamilton, a pioneer in industrially-caused diseases, who spent long years clambering up and down ladders in factories and mineshafts – in long skirts! – tracking down the unsafe toxic substances that sickened the workers whom she would track right into their sickbeds to get leads and tip-offs on where to hunt. Or Harvey Wiley, the chemist from Indiana who, from a bureaucrat's desk in the Department of Agriculture, relentlessly warred on foods laden with risky preservatives and adulterants with the help of his "poison squad" of young assistants who volunteered as guinea pigs. Or lawyers like the brilliant Harvard graduate Louis Brandeis, who took on corporate attorneys defending child labor or long and harsh conditions for female workers. Brandeis argued that the state had a duty to protect the health of working women and children.

To be sure, these progressives weren't all saints. Their glory years coincided with the heyday of lynching and segregation, of empire and the Big Stick and the bold theft of the Panama Canal, of immigration restriction and ethnic stereotypes. Some were themselves businessmen only hoping to control an unruly marketplace by regulation. But by and large they were conservative reformers. They aimed to preserve the existing balance between wealth and commonwealth. Their common enemy was unchecked privilege, their common hope was a better democracy, and their common weapon was informed public opinion.

In a few short years the progressive spirit made possible the election not only of reform mayors and governors but of national figures like Senator George Norris of Nebraska, Senator Robert M. LaFollette of Wisconsin, and even that hard-to-classify political genius, Theodore Roosevelt. All three of them Republicans. Here is the simplest laundry-list of what was accomplished at state and Federal levels: Publicly regulated or owned transportation, sanitation and utilities systems. The partial restoration of competition in the marketplace through improved antitrust laws. Increased fairness in taxation. Expansion of the public education and juvenile justice systems. Safer workplaces and guarantees of compensation to workers injured on the job. Oversight of the purity of water, medicines and foods. Conservation of the national wilderness heritage against overdevelopment, and honest bidding on any public mining, lumbering and ranching. We take these for granted today – or we did until recently. All were provided not by the automatic workings of free enterprise but by implementing the idea in the Declaration of Independence that the people had a right to governments that best promoted their "safety and happiness."

The mighty progressive wave peaked in 1912. But the ideas leashed by it forged the politics of the 20th century. Like his cousin Theodore, Franklin Roosevelt argued that the real enemy of enlightened capitalism was "the malefactors of great wealth" – the "economic royalists" – from whom capitalism would have to be saved by reform and regulation. Progressive government became an embedded tradition of Democrats – the heart of FDR's New Deal and Harry Truman's Fair Deal, and honored even by Dwight D. Eisenhower, who didn't want to tear down the house progressive ideas had built – only to put it under different managers. The progressive impulse had its final fling in the landslide of 1969 when LBJ, who was a son of the West Texas hill country, where the Populist rebellion had been nurtured in the 1890s, won the public endorsement for what he meant to be the capstone in the arch of the New Deal.

I had a modest role in that era. I shared in its exhilaration and its failures. We went too far too fast, overreached at home and in Vietnam, failed to examine some assumptions, and misjudged the rising discontents and fierce backlash engendered by war, race, civil disturbance, violence and crime. Democrats grew so proprietary in this town that a fat, complacent political establishment couldn't recognize its own intellectual bankruptcy or the beltway that was growing around it and beginning to separate it from the rest of the country. The failure of democratic politicians and public thinkers to respond to popular discontents – to the daily lives of workers, consumers, parents, and ordinary taxpayers – allowed a resurgent conservatism to convert public concern and hostility into a crusade to resurrect social Darwinism as a moral philosophy, multinational corporations as a governing class, and the theology of markets as a transcendental belief system.

As a citizen I don't like the consequences of this crusade, but you have to respect the conservatives for their successful strategy in gaining control of the national agenda. Their stated and open aim is to change how America is governed – to strip from government all its functions except those that reward their rich and privileged benefactors. They are quite candid about it, even acknowledging their mean spirit in accomplishing it. Their leading strategist in Washington – the same Grover Norquist – has famously said he wants to shrink the government down to the size that it could be drowned in a bathtub. More recently, in commenting on the fiscal crisis in the states and its affect on schools and poor people, Norquist said, "I hope one of them" – one of the states – "goes bankrupt." So much for compassionate conservatism. But at least Norquist says what he means and means what he says. The White House pursues the same homicidal dream without saying so. Instead of shrinking down the government, they're filling the bathtub with so much debt that it floods the house, water-logs the economy, and washes away services for decades that have lifted millions of Americans out of destitution and into the middle-class. And what happens once the public's property has been flooded? Privatize it. Sell it at a discounted rate to the corporations.

It is the most radical assault on the notion of one nation, indivisible, that has occurred in our lifetime. I'll be frank with you: I simply don't understand it – or the malice in which it is steeped. Many people are nostalgic for a golden age. These people seem to long for the Gilded Age. That I can grasp. They measure America only by their place on the material spectrum and they bask in the company of the new corporate aristocracy, as privileged a class as we have seen since the plantation owners of antebellum America and the court of Louis IV. What I can't explain is the rage of the counter-revolutionaries to dismantle every last brick of the social contract. At this advanced age I simply have to accept the fact that the tension between haves and have-nots is built into human psychology and society itself – it's ever with us. However, I'm just as puzzled as to why, with right wing wrecking crews blasting away at social benefits once considered invulnerable, Democrats are fearful of being branded "class warriors" in a war the other side started and is determined to win. I don't get why conceding your opponent's premises and fighting on his turf isn't the sure-fire prescription for irrelevance and ultimately obsolescence. But I confess as well that I don't know how to resolve the social issues that have driven wedges into your ranks. And I don't know how to reconfigure democratic politics to fit into an age of soundbites and polling dominated by a media oligarchy whose corporate journalists are neutered and whose right-wing publicists have no shame.

What I do know is this: While the social dislocations and meanness that galvanized progressives in the 19th century are resurgent so is the vision of justice, fairness, and equality. That's a powerful combination if only there are people around to fight for it. The battle to renew democracy has enormous resources to call upon – and great precedents for inspiration. Consider the experience of James Bryce, who published "The Great Commonwealth" back in 1895 at the height of the First Gilded Age. Americans, Bryce said, "were hopeful and philanthropic." He saw first-hand the ills of that "dark and unlovely age," but he went on to say: " A hundred times I have been disheartened by the facts I was stating: a hundred times has the recollection of the abounding strength and vitality of the nation chased away those tremors."

What will it take to get back in the fight? Understanding the real interests and deep opinions of the American people is the first thing. And what are those? That a Social Security card is not a private portfolio statement but a membership ticket in a society where we all contribute to a common treasury so that none need face the indignities of poverty in old age without that help. That tax evasion is not a form of conserving investment capital but a brazen abandonment of responsibility to the country. That income inequality is not a sign of freedom-of-opportunity at work, because if it persists and grows, then unless you believe that some people are naturally born to ride and some to wear saddles, it's a sign that opportunity is less than equal. That self-interest is a great motivator for production and progress, but is amoral unless contained within the framework of community. That the rich have the right to buy more cars than anyone else, more homes, vacations, gadgets and gizmos, but they do not have the right to buy more democracy than anyone else. That public services, when privatized, serve only those who can afford them and weaken the sense that we all rise and fall together as "one nation, indivisible." That concentration in the production of goods may sometimes be useful and efficient, but monopoly over the dissemination of ideas is evil. That prosperity requires good wages and benefits for workers. And that our nation can no more survive as half democracy and half oligarchy than it could survive "half slave and half free" – and that keeping it from becoming all oligarchy is steady work – our work.

Ideas have power – as long as they are not frozen in doctrine. But ideas need legs. The eight-hour day, the minimum wage, the conservation of natural resources and the protection of our air, water, and land, women's rights and civil rights, free trade unions, Social Security and a civil service based on merit – all these were launched as citizen's movements and won the endorsement of the political class only after long struggles and in the face of bitter opposition and sneering attacks. It's just a fact: Democracy doesn't work without citizen activism and participation, starting at the community. Trickle down politics doesn't work much better than trickle down economics. It's also a fact that civilization happens because we don't leave things to other people. What's right and good doesn't come naturally. You have to stand up and fight for it – as if the cause depends on you, because it does. Allow yourself that conceit – to believe that the flame of democracy will never go out as long as there's one candle in your hand.

So go for it. Never mind the odds. Remember what the progressives faced. Karl Rove isn't tougher than Mark Hanna was in his time and a hundred years from now some historian will be wondering how it was that Norquist and Company got away with it as long as they did – how they waged war almost unopposed on the infrastructure of social justice, on the arrangements that make life fair, on the mutual rights and responsibilities that offer opportunity, civil liberties, and a decent standard of living to the least among us.

"Democracy is not a lie" – I first learned that from Henry Demarest Lloyd, the progressive journalist whose book, "Wealth against Commonwealth," laid open the Standard trust a century ago. Lloyd came to the conclusion to "Regenerate the individual is a half truth. The reorganization of the society which he makes and which makes him is the other part. The love of liberty became liberty in America by clothing itself in the complicated group of strengths known as the government of the United States." And it was then he said: "Democracy is not a lie. There live in the body of the commonality unexhausted virtue and the ever-refreshed strength which can rise equal to any problems of progress. In the hope of tapping some reserve of their power of self-help," he said, "this story is told to the people."

This is your story – the progressive story of America.

Pass it on.


Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Election GET OUT THE VOTE from my personal Phone Call Center

Hey Everybody,

I am making calls from home to florida and ohio today. I posted a party on and I actually have a complete stranger comming over to help me do it.

Freinds Romans Countrymen

the field is hard to judge from the phone. Too many people not home.

However, I noticed that those who voted for Kerry were glad to tell me they did.

However, when I asked a couple Bush voters they were angry and said "Didnt you just want me to vote! GRRRRumble.


Thus far Kerry voters nice. Bush voters not so nice.

lets keep some comments going on this post.

Tell me and the rest of the world what you are feeling either at the polls or with your own phone calls.




Click on the title of the post and you too can have your very own phone calling list for OHIO.

Ohioans have been bombarded with calls etc. but they still need to get to the polls. They also appreciate real people calling instead of crappy recording robots. If you make 50 calls you can get those voters out to the polls and even make a new friend in OHIO.

Turnout is the best way to avoid a recount.

If you live in a non-swing state you can get out the vote in a swing state thanks to techlnology called the "internets" and cell phone.

I know you know that.

If you live in NJ you can do something in your own town to get out the vote. Call this number:


And now a message for Michael Moore:


This is it. ONE DAY LEFT. There are many things I'd like to say. I've been on the road getting out the vote for 51 straight days so I haven't had much time to write. So I've put together a bunch of notes to various groups all in this one letter. Please feel free to copy and send whatever portions are appropriate to your friends and family as you spend these last 24 hours trying to convince whomever you can to show up and vote for John Kerry.

Here are my final words...

To Decent Conservatives and Recovering Republicans:

In your heart of hearts you know Bush is a miserable failure. From having no plan on what to do in Iraq once he conquered Baghdad to the 380 missing tons of explosives that could be used to kill our brave young men and women, this guy doesn't have a clue how to fight and win a war. You should see the mail I've been getting lately from our troops over there. They know how much the Iraqi people hate them. They are sitting ducks anytime they go out on the road. Many believe we are not that far away from a Tet-style offensive inside the Green Zone with hundreds of Americans and Brits killed.
Bush refused to go after and capture Osama bin Laden. He fought, every step of the way, the investigation into the 9/11 attacks. Who on earth would oppose such a thing? If 3,000 people died at your place of work and your boss said we don't need to find out why or how it happened, he'd be thrown out on his ear. Bush's behavior after this great tragedy alone is reason enough for his removal.
You already know that George W. Bush is the farthest thing from a conservative. He's a reckless spender who has run up record-breaking deficits and the biggest debt in our history. He believes in having the government pry into everything from your library records to your bedroom. He has hit you with hidden taxes with his tax cuts for the rich.
I know many of you don't like Bush, but are unsure of Kerry. Give the new guy a chance. He won't raise your taxes (unless you are super-rich), he won't take your hunting gun away, and he won't make you visit France. He risked his life for you many years ago. He's asking for the chance to do it again. Scott McConnell at The American Conservative magazine has endorsed him. What more do you need?

To My Friends on the Left:

Okay, Kerry isn't everything you wished he would be. You're right. He's not you! Or me. But we're not on the ballot -- Kerry is. Yes, Kerry was wrong to vote for authorization for war in Iraq but he was in step with 70% of the American public who was being lied to by Bush & Co. And once everyone learned the truth, the majority turned against the war. Kerry has had only one position on the war -- he believed his president.
President Kerry had better bring the troops home right away. My prediction: Kerry's roots are anti-war. He has seen the horrors of war and because of that he will avoid war unless it is absolutely necessary. Ask most vets. But don't ask someone whose only horror was when he arrived too late for a kegger in Alabama.
There's a reason Bush calls Kerry the Number One Liberal in the Senate -- THAT'S BECAUSE HE IS THE NUMBER ONE LIBERAL IN THE SENATE! What more do you want? My friends, this is about as good as it gets when voting for the Democrat. We don't have the #29 Liberal running or the #14 Liberal or even the #2 Liberal -- we got #1! When has that ever happened?
Those of us who may be to the left of the #1 liberal Democrat should remember that this year conservative Democrats have had to make a far greater shift in their position to back Kerry than we have. We're the ones always being asked to make the huge compromises and to always vote holding our noses. No nose holding this time. This #1 liberal is not the tweedledee to Bush's tweedledum.

To Nader Voters:

See the above note.
Ralph's own party, the Green Party, would not endorse his run this year. That's because those of us who want to build a third party in this country know that the only way to do this is to build bridges with those who believe in the issues Nader believes in. But not one of those people will sacrifice the chance to remove George W. Bush from the White House on Tuesday. The choice here is clear: do we join with our friends, or do we piss on them?
After the debacle of 2000, the Democrats got smart and abandoned the conservative wing of their party. That's why 8 of the 9 Democrats in the primaries this year were from the liberal wing. Ralph should take credit for that and declare victory. It's so sad that he doesn't realize the good he's accomplished. But for reasons only known to him, he's more angry at the Democrats than he is at Bush. He has lost his compass. I worry he has lost his mind. But he still gives a great speech!
And Lila Lipscomb, the mother from Flint who lost her son in Iraq, she still grieves -- as do the mothers of 1,120 others (not to mention the mothers of the 100,000 Iraqis who have died because of Bush's war). That's what this election is about. Not Ralph proving some point. Almost none of us on his 2000 advisory group are supporting him this year. His total lack of respect for his best friends should tell all of you something about what he really thinks of you, too.

To the Non-Swing States:

Stop listening to how your vote doesn't count in this election and that your state is already decided for Kerry or Bush. It is critical that you vote because we not only need to give Kerry the electoral win, but he needs to have a HUGE mandate with an ENORMOUS popular vote victory as well. It will be impossible for him to get anything done for four years if there is no clear mandate. We must not only defeat Bush, we must put a stake in the heart of the right-wing, neo-con movement. If you live in New York, California, Illinois, Texas, the Northeast or the Deep South, you need to vote and you need to bring ten people with you to the polls. If you live in a state where we have the chance to elect the Democrat to the Senate or the House, you need to vote. Turn off the TV. Quit listening to news media that has a vested interest in repeating to you over and over that your vote does not count. It does.
If you have friends or relatives who live in the 30-plus non-swing states, call them and remind them how important it is that Kerry gets a massive popular vote victory.

To Non-Voters:

I understand why you stopped voting. Politicians suck. Nothing ever seems to change. You're only one vote.
Yes, politicians suck. But so do car salesmen -- and that hasn't stopped you from buying a car. Politicians only respond to the threat of the angry mob also known as the voting public. If most people don't vote, that's good news for them 'cause then they don't have to answer to the majority.
Almost fifty percent of Americans don't vote. That means you belong to the largest political party in America -- the Non-Voting Party. That means you hold all the power to toss George W. Bush out of the Oval Office. How cool is that?
I believe that we are going to have the largest election turnout in our lifetime tomorrow. You don't want to miss out on that. The lines at the polls are going to be long and raucous and fun. It is an historic election. You won't want to say that you were the only one who wasn't there. Promise me you'll vote, just this one time.

To All First-Time Voters:

Welcome to the longest running, uninterrupted democracy on earth! You own it. It's yours.
A few words about how messy it's going to be tomorrow. The lines are going to be long. Bring your iPods. Better yet, bring a friend or two. The election officials have no clue just how many millions are going to show up at the polls. This will be the largest turnout in our lifetime. They don't have enough machines. They are going to have to send for more ballots.
And they are going to make it difficult for you to vote. The new law says if this is your first time voting you must bring ID with you that matches the address you are registered at.
If for some reason they can't find your name on the voting rolls, you have the right to ask for a provisional ballot, which you can fill out and then sort things out later.
If you have any problems at the polling place, please call 1-866-OUR-VOTE. The people there can tell you how to find the precinct where you should be voting, get you legal help if you are denied the right to vote, or answer any other questions you may have.
If you need any help figuring out the ballot, don't be afraid to ask. If you screw up your ballot, you can ask for another one. In fact, the law allows you to screw up your ballot two times before you finally have to submit your final ballot! Be careful to vote on the line that says John F. Kerry/John Edwards. Don't vote for more than one Presidential, Senate or House candidate or you ballot won't be counted. If your polling place has a stub or a receipt from your ballot, make sure they give you one.
Thanks for joining us. Democracy is not a spectator sport. It only works when we all come off the bench and participate.

To African Americans:

First of all, let's just acknowledge what you already know: America is a country which still has a race problem, to put it nicely. Al Gore would be president today had thousands of African Americans not had their right to vote stolen from them in Florida in 2000.
Here is my commitment: I will do everything I can to make sure that this will not happen again. And I'm not the only one making this pledge. Thousands of volunteer lawyers are flying to Florida to act as poll watchers and intervene should there be any attempts to deny anyone their right to vote. They will NOT be messing around.
For my part, I have organized an army of 1,200 professional and amateur filmmakers who will be armed with video cameras throughout the states of Florida and Ohio. At the first sign of criminality, we will dispatch a camera crew to where the vote fraud is taking place and record what is going on. We will put a big public spotlight on any wrongdoing by Republican officials in those two states. They will not get away with this as they did in 2000.
In Ohio, the Republicans are sending almost 2,000 paid "poll challengers" into the black precincts of Cleveland in an attempt to stop African Americans from voting. This action is beyond despicable. Do not let this stop you from voting. I, and thousand of others, will be there to fight for you and protect you.

To George W.:

I know it's gotta be rough for you right now. Hey, we've all been there. "You're fired" are two horrible words when put together in that order. Bin Laden surfacing this weekend to remind the American people of your total and complete failure to capture him was a cruel trick or treat. But there he was. 3,000 people were killed and he's laughing in your face. Why did you stop our Special Forces from going after him? Why did you forget about bin Laden on the DAY AFTER 9/11 and tell your terrorism czar to concentrate on Iraq instead?
There he was, OBL, all tan and rested and on videotape (hey, did you get the feeling that he had a bootleg of my movie? Are there DVD players in those caves in Afghanistan?)
Speaking of my movie -- can I ask you a personal question before we part ways for good on Tuesday? Why did you and your friends fund SIX "documentaries" trashing me -- but only ONE film against Kerry? C'mon, he was the candidate, not me. What a waste of your time and resources! Sure, I know what your pollsters told you, that the film had convinced some people to vote you out. I just want you to know that that was not my original intent. Funny things happen at the movies. Hope you get to see a few at the multiplex in Waco. It's a great way to relax.

To John Kerry:

Thank you.
And don't worry -- none of us are going away after you are inaugurated. We'll be there to hold your hand and keep you honest. Don't let us down. We're betting you won't. So is the rest of the world.

That's it. See you at the polls -- and at the victory party tomorrow night.

Michael Moore