escapist reading about our “leaders”

an upsetting day. so, reading the news.

Farewell to the crown, farewell, the velvet gown, won’t you all come tumbling down? Goodbye to the crown! (Chumbawamba, “Farewell to the Crown”)

Nepal votes out their monarchy and institutes a republic. Gyanendra has to vacate the palace within two weeks or face eviction. Also, he had to start paying his own electric bills a while back. Ha ha, I love that. It is balm to my troubled soul. The palace building will be turned into a museum.

The NYT also reports that former Illinois governor George Ryan, with six years left on his prison term for racketeering and fraud, will seek executive clemency from Bush.

The lawyer, James R. Thompson (also a former Illinois governor), said any larger purpose in the conviction and sentence of Mr. Ryan, 74, had been served. “The man has gone from being the governor of the state of Illinois to being a prisoner in a federal penitentiary,” Mr. Thompson said, later adding: “His career is gone. His reputation is gone.”

Ah if only that were the standard for all prisoners. Anyway I will say that Ryan did a good thing by ordering a moratorium on the death penalty after learning of wrongful convictions.

And, finally, the NYT reports on McCain’s use of Bush for fundraising:

Despite the efforts by the McCain camp to keep at arm’s length a president with an approval rating stalled at 28 percent, it is worth remembering that that 28 percent can be fiercely loyal and often wealthy. … “He is very popular with high-dollar donors,” [conservative economist] Mr. Bartlett said of the president.

updated 5/29: Also this note on how the presidential fundraising travel expenses get billed:

By blending official events with party fundraising, Bush dramatically reduces the cost of presidential travel that’s charged to the political campaigns. Taxpayers pick up the rest of the tab.

media annoyances part 1: Adam Nagourney

Two things annoyed me in the last 24 hours. Well, two media things.

First, this morning in an article about same-sex marriage in the NYT, there was utter stupid cluelessness that led me to conclude the article must have been written by a straight person. And indeed, But then I just looked at the byline and it was by Adam Nagourney, which explains this article. Why is Adam Nagourney so bad? Anyway today he wrote in paragraph 1:

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plagiarism is the new blowjob

Accusing someone of plagiarism is the latest version of pointless distraction from the real issues. Much like the brouhaha about the infamous Lewinsky/Clinton blowjob, it relies on an overwrought anxiety approaching paranoia about an issue that is of interest to politicians only insofar as it serves to distract people from substantive issues. Like Ann Coulter before them, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s much-publicized skirmishes with plagiarism are disappointing because they divert from real issues, and because they contribute to the general paranoia around “ownership” of information. Without, as it happens, doing much to educate or inform anybody about plagiarism, authorship, or creativity.

Nevertheless, a few commentators muster up something worth reading:

  • Houston Chronicle, 2/24: “Rule No. 1: If it’s transformative, it’s not plagiarism.” (link from 43(B)log)
  • MSNBC Meet the Press (link from copyfight)
  • Jerome Doolittle, John F. Kennedy, plagiarist?, salon.com 2008/2/20 (“[Lincoln's version] is equally free of meaning, but goes a considerable way toward explaining why Seward was the incoming secretary of state and Lincoln was the incoming president. It ain’t what you say but how you say it. And that is why the Clinton camp has found itself reduced to rolling out the pop gun of plagiarism at this difficult point in the campaign. They have no other artillery.”)
  • Rohn Robins, Vail Daily, 2/26
we don’t need 2 republican parties (or even one)

Salon.com WarRoom did a good job of excerpting from Ted Kennedy’s speech @ the National Press Club [kennedy website transcript], so I’ll just take their excerpt:

I categorically reject the deceptive and dangerous claim that the outcome last November was somehow a sweeping, or a modest, or even a miniature mandate for reactionary measures like privatizing Social Security, redistributing the tax burden in the wrong direction, or packing the federal courts with reactionary judges. Those proposals were barely mentioned — or voted on — in an election dominated by memories of 9/11, fear of terrorism, the quagmire in Iraq, and relentlessly negative attacks on our Presidential candidate.

In an election so close, defeat has a thousand causes — and it is too easy to blame it on particular issues or tactics, or on the larger debate about values. In truth, we do not shrink from that debate.

There’s no doubt we must do a better job of looking within ourselves and speaking out for the principles we believe in, and for the values that are the foundation of our actions. Americans need to hear more, not less, about those values. We were remiss in not talking more directly about them – about the fundamental ideals that guide our progressive policies. In the words of Martin Luther King, “we must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.”

Unlike the Republican Party, we believe our values unite us as Americans, instead of dividing us. If the White House’s idea of bipartisanship is that we have to buy whatever partisan ideas they send us, we’re not interested.

In fact, our values are still our greatest strength. Despite resistance, setbacks, and periods of backlash over the years, our values have moved us closer to the ideal with which America began — that all people are created equal. And when Democrats say “all,” we mean “all.”

We have an Administration that falsely hypes almost every issue as a crisis. They did it on Iraq, and they are doing it now on Social Security. They exploit the politics of fear and division, while ours is a politics of hope and unity.

In the face of their tactics, we cannot move our party or our nation forward under pale colors and timid voices. We cannot become Republican clones. If we do, we will lose again, and deserve to lose. As I have said on other occasions, the last thing this country needs is two Republican parties.

le guin was for kerry

altercation / 2004-08-17

Name: Brian Thomas
Hometown: Portland, Oregon

Eric,
I’ve been out on the streets of Portland, Oregon five days of every week registering progressive voters.

Today I met up with Portland’s most famous author and anarchist, Ursula K. LeGuin (The Dispossessed, The Left-Hand of Darkness, The Earth-Sea Trilogy, etc.) while she was buying movie tickets at our Fox Towers theatre complex.  I asked her the same question I’ve asked
thousands of our citizens:

“Do you want George Bush out of the White House?”

Ms. LeGuin flipped her purse around to reveal a Kerry/Edwards button.

“Wow, I’m thrilled to see an anarchist wearing a Kerry button.  All my best anarchist friends are voting for Kerry, but they’re not ready to wear buttons.”  And then Ursula smiled broadly as she became the first person I have ever heard utter these words:

“Anybody but Nader.”

Now, let’s get to the real point of this letter.  Whether you like it or not, some of these just mentioned Portland anarchists and assorted other activists (including this liberal) are coming to your town next week.  Don’t believe the lies you hear on Fox News.

Although we will not be looking for trouble, we will be looking for Central Park.  Here in Portland, Oregon when we have grievances to redress we gather in our central town square or in one of the central parks that run through our city as Central Park runs through New York City.  Our concerns about war becoming a first choice, not a last resort are central to what we are as a people and so we meet in the center of our city as we will be meeting in the center of yours.  Last Friday, in Portland’s Waterfront Park, 50,000 of us met to hear John Kerry.  Only a few score of policemen were on hand to direct traffic and keep the park from overflowing with people.  Another world is possible.

Your colleague at THE NATION, Naomi Klein’s article “Ditch the Distraction in Chief” was a big hit with my friends.  However, we missed your buddies Todd Gitlin and John Passacantado’s words of wisdom for us protesters as they appeared in the subscribers only portion of THE NATION.  Any words of wisdom or tips on cheap places to eat you wish to send my way will be shared with all the anarchists from Portland who will soon be descending on your city.

Thanks,

savage advice on election 04 & the next four years

Dan Savage’s 11/10 column advises us to enjoy our urban islands and hold out for midterm elections, being grateful that the Republicans will have no one else to blame but themselves.

If that doesn’t work:

But, hey, if this cold-comfort analysis is wrong, SSF, if we all live to regret the gay marriage issue coming to a head, rest assured that all the dykes and faggots out there will pay a high price for it.

What he said.

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romanian wisdom for our times

As my friend Mort wrote me yesterday, “My Romanian grandfather used to say to me, ‘Remember, Morton, this is such a wonderful country   – it doesn’t even need a president!’”

— Michael Moore, Election 2004: 17 Reasons Not to Slit Your Wrists, 2004-11-08, AlterNet

looking around, groundhoglike

Well, I’m starting to look around, groundhog-like. It looks like four more years of winter.

Small mercies: Thank the dark lords that Shrillblog keens on. After scraping the residue of election obsession from my life, I found all I had left were Jon Stewart & Shrillblog. And my Buffy DVDs.

more election wisdom

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post election thoughts, rants, assorted impressions
  • Overwhelming emotion on Wednesday: I’m hurt that so many americans don’t have a problem with TORTURE and 100,000 DEAD PEOPLE in iraq and incompetence and graft and destruction of the environment.

  • Make that disappointed and ashamed and embarrassed and angry.

  • I’m not surprised that the anti-marriage propositions won in every state. I’m just surprised by how personally I took it with each defeat. I felt personally assaulted every time I saw those numbers.

  • Unfortunately, it’s clear that it wasn’t just a one-off Bush thing (really, how could it have been), but a Republican thing: those jerks won offices high and low across the country. So what’s depressing is not that Bush won (well, that is depressing, too), what’s depressing is that people voted for him, and for others like him down the ticket. It reflects something real & unifying to the people who voted for the Republican campaigns.

  • Wednesday I was too upset to talk to people (like my sister JM) who would be sympathetic but wouldn’t get it and probably voted for Bush. And I was too upset to listen to the bullshit barely-concealed-gloating reconciliation let’s-all-be-friends-now speeches from the Republicans. Thursday I started pulling myself together and getting a little more coherent and I figured some shit out.

  • “reconciliation” means suck it up & concede defeat & hide your values & shut up. fuck that.

  • “morals issues”? killing 100,000 iraqis in an illegitimate war isn’t a “moral issue”? torture isn’t a moral issue? unfucking believable. social justice is a moral issue. peace is a moral value.

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trauma & healing

I have many thoughts about the last few days, and hopefully I’ll begin to articulate them soon. But I can’t. Not just yet.

In one of her novels, Ursula Le Guin says something like: When you can do something, act. When you can’t act, gather information. When you can’t gather information, sleep.

Well, yesterday I walked the world in a daze, did what I had to do to get through the day, and then began reaching out to friends, comrades, loved ones, and colleagues — my closest friends, friends I haven’t spoken to in years, and folks I have never gotten to know as well as I want to.

And I am seeing an amazing outpouring of wisdom, coping strategies, calls to action, expressions of grief and fear. Some folks are struck dumb, able to express themselves only in short phrases: Depressed. Talk later. Others are already moving ahead and figuring out their next fighting moves.

So, since I can’t, quite, act yet, since I am still grieving, I have decided to gather information. I want to capture this outpouring, chronicle it, and bring together all the reactions of my friends and loved ones.

… more to come

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i’m angry

Voters Complain About Misleading Calls

Mon Nov 1, 6:03 PM ET

By KATHY BARKS HOFFMAN, Associated Press Writer

LANSING, Mich. – Some Michigan voters have received phone calls falsely claiming that Sen. John Kerry (news – web sites) would make gay marriage legal. In New Jersey, some voters have heard a man claiming to be former Army Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf backing the Democrat.

Republicans and Democrats were furious Monday about the blatantly false, 11th-hour political calls to voters and demanded an end to the messages.

Schwarzkopf has endorsed Bush, but in a recording of a phone call played for The Associated Press, a man identifying himself as the Persian Gulf War (news – web sites) general says, “In 2000, I voted for George W. Bush, but this year I’m voting for John Kerry. … John Kerry has a real plan to make our military stronger and to go after terrorists wherever they hide. We need a vote for change, vote for John Kerry.”

A voice says the message was paid for by the Democratic National Committee (news – web sites).

In a statement from the Bush campaign, Schwarzkopf said the DNC was making fraudulent phone calls claiming that he had endorsed Kerry, and “nothing could be further from the truth, and I demand that they stop immediately.

The DNC had no immediate reaction.

In Michigan, in a recording of a call played for the AP, a young woman says: “When you vote this Tuesday remember to legalize gay marriage by supporting John Kerry. We need John Kerry in order to make gay marriage legal for our city. Gay marriage is a right we all want. It’s a basic Democrat principle. It’s time to move forward and be progressive. Without John Kerry, George Bush (news – web sites) will stop gay marriage. That’s why we need Kerry. So Tuesday, stand up for gay marriage by supporting John Kerry.”

Both Kerry and his running mate, Sen. John Edwards (news – web sites) of North Carolina, oppose gay marriage and say marriage should be limited to a man and a woman. Kerry has said he supports civil unions.

The calls began Sunday afternoon, according to Rodell Mollineau, spokesman for Kerry’s Michigan campaign. The campaign said voters in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Flint and Pontiac received calls.

“We’re shocked and pretty much appalled that Republicans would sink to this in the last 48 hours of the campaign,” Mollineau said.

Michigan Republican Party executive director Greg McNeilly said recorded phone calls have been made by former Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler and by President Bush (news – web sites) to Michigan voters, but he didn’t know anything about the calls described by the Kerry campaign.

GOP officials, meanwhile, have been getting reports of phone calls being made by a person who says he’s representing the Bush campaign, and then unlooses a string of swear words. Another phone call is said to tell voters they’ve been drafted for military service because Bush needs them for the war in Iraq (news – web sites).

“There are so many reports of phone calls going on right now that appear to be untoward,” McNeilly said.

Associated Press Writer Donna De La Cruz in Trenton, N.J., contributed to this report.

Yahoo! News – Voters Complain About Misleading Calls

Okay, i hate all these attempts to suppress the vote, but only one of them attempts to play on bigotry. Call me gay, but i am personally most offended by the “support Kerry to support gay marriage” call.

And another thing. Folks who compare different levels of rumors and try to say X is just as bad as Y. That pisses me off. It’s simply not correct, for instance, to suggest that “Bush will institute a draft” is the same thing as “Kerry supports gay marriage.” The equivalence is wrong in one important, objective way — it compares a political position to the likelihood of an event.

And it’s wrong in a couple of other equally important but somewhat more subjective ways:

(1) Actual likelihood of event occurring. In other words, even if we consider both statements to be about the candidates’ likelihood of doing something (Kerry will legalize gay marriage, or Bush will institute a draft), I think there is no chance in hell that Kerry will legalize gay marriage. (Alas.) But I think it possible that the Bush administration will push for a draft at some point.

Kerry is not going to have any significant lobby for legalizing gay marriage, and it’s not even clear what that would mean. He certainly could not pass a law or a constitutional amendment requiring states to perform same-sex marriages. It is doubtful he could get DOMA repealed or even revised. So what, exactly, could Kerry do on this front even if he were so inclined? Maybe get some federal recognition of same-sex unions or partnerships — but not “marriage”, which DOMA defines as between a man and a woman, and DOMA is going nowhere.

On the draft argument, by contrast, the mathematics of the situation in Iraq suggest that a draft would be helpful to the military effort. The Bush administration hasn’t exactly wanted to do the war “right”, so it’s quite likely they wouldn’t do a draft. On the other hand, it might turn out that they want a success, and would institute a draft. They’ve already been figuring out how to draft medical personnel in the advent of a national emergency, for instance. So, a draft is perhaps not likely, but certainly not inconceivable.

In this analysis, neither Bush’s nor Kerry’s statements of their intents count — we write those off as mere political BS. But if you want to tip the balance a little further, I think that Ohio state rep. Tim Ryan said it well: why on earth should we trust the Bush administration which has repeatedly lied to us about their intentions and about the state of affairs in the “war on terror”?

(2) Moral equivalency. Once again I protest the suggestion that it is morally equivalent to play on people’s fears of a draft, and to play on their hatred, fear, disgust of queers. I simply cannot take seriously people who think that these are on the same level. Only in the most abstract sense are these equivalent: both are policy questions with significant impacts on people’s lives. In that sense the draft is the more serious charge — a draft would force people into the military where they might die or be maimed or forced to kill. Playing on the fear of the draft plays on the fear of death — love of self and love of life. A big deal, no question.

But playing on the fear of same-sex marriage plays on hatred and disgust for other people. It’s negative in the deepest sense. It attempts to make issues where there are none (because same-sex marriage is simply not going to happen nationally) and it attempts to do so on the backs of — well, me, and my same-sex partner. I take that kinda personal. You find me a whole crowd of someones who are personally the subjects of the draft threat. And then maybe I’ll consider whether these are moral equivalents.

things in common with voting

Salon.com News | “Nobody should have to go through so much to vote”

Reminds me of waiting in line to be married in San Francisco, February 13, 2004.

bush campaign trips IP rights again

the bush campaign dropped the song “Still the One” after the songwriter protested & said the campaign hadn’t asked his permission. [y!]

ha. this follows the olympics brouhaha. [athens olympics blog 8/26] [ZNet Blogs 8/26]

voter intimidation in pictures
  • flyer circulated in Milwaukee’s African American neighborhoods [dkos, 10/29]
  • letter claiming to be sent from Ohio sheriff; tells folks who were registered by Democrats, ACT, etc., that their registrations may not be valid [lawgeek, 10/28]
    sheriff says letter is fake & he will investigate [wkyc, ohio]
who knew? bush is really a horror movie character. or two.

[T]those of us who argued that there was really no difference between Bush and Gore look pretty stupid now. None of that reflects especially well on Al Gore, by the way; it simply wasn’t evident at that early date that the then-Texas governor was the real-world version of Greg Stillson, the born-again, world-destroying future president in Stephen King’s “The Dead Zone.”

and later:

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes: Kerry is a lot better than Bush on the environment, abortion, civil liberties and judicial appointments. Again, it’s a comparison between that good-looking real estate guy who only gouged you a little and Chucky, the devil doll from the “Child’s Play” movies.

— Andrew O’Hehir, “Civic Avowal”, salon.com, 2004-10-28

hee-hee.

high stakes

me & some friends, on sunday, celebrating with joss whedon & hoping to get bush out

whump (the organizer) has pictures. so does the high stakes 2004 website.

i had promised to bring one of our anti-war posters from last year ["Buffy, help! there's a vampire in the White House!"] but since everything i own is in boxes or storage, it didn’t really work out. but the village voice is helping me out. [thanks to americablog for linking to the cover.]

media-driven governance

regarding the stolen cache of explosives, wonkette reports that rove is upset that it’s even being discussed:

Rove: “Kerry, by so rapidly embracing the story, is going to end up being tarnished by it. What would he do as president? Get up every morning and say, ‘I’m going to govern based on what I find in the newspapers?’”

wonkette, 10/27

Or maybe — and it’s just a thought — maybe Kerry would respond to issues before they reached the papers! You know, in sort of a, a proactive way. Maybe, if something goes wrong, a president should acknowledge the problem and tell the American people what was being done to fix it. Maybe we wouldn’t have to rely on The New Yorker [Abu Ghraib] and The New York Times [missing weapons] to tell us what happened a year ago.

Gack. These guys make me crazy.

a history of the bush website

georgewbush.com: one website’s story

  • 1999-may-21, the bush campaign thinks “[t]here ought to be limits to freedom” (at least for website satirists gwbush.com) [but see georgewbush.org which bravely soldiers on]
  • in 2004, the bush website looks like it was designed of, by & for microsoft products
  • in 2004, the bush website put up the popular but short-lived bush-cheney sign generator ["the sloganator"], which was rapidly appropriated by the administration’s critics, even though the administration’s web team had cleverly thought to ban some potentially troublesome words (like “dumb, stupid, fascism, evil, lying, scum”. The campaign took down the sloganator but luckily a number of galleries & archives of signs were created and an offsite sloganator live on. So popular was the hacking of the sloganator that the anti-Kerry folks used the idea to develop a Kerry Sloganator.
  • in 2004, the bush website uses colin powell to demonstrate its “compassion”
  • 2004-10-26: the register and netcraft report that the bush campaign website has blocked international access. (The 51st state is apparently permitted access, although plans for conquest have not yet been publicized/finalized.) 10-28: the bbc reports that it was a DDOS that caused the security response.
plaid adder immoderator

plaid adder: the immoderator – some truths were spoken.

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