Help is on the way

Sorry for the dearth of posting. Have family visiting until Tuesday morning so I don't think I'll be blogging at all until Tuesday at the earliest. We have an election party downtown on Tuesday, in which we, along with other like-minded Democratic friends, watch the poll results come in and either cheer or scream in unison, depending on the results and/or vote suppression shenanigans. Either way, I expect everyone's planning to get well and truly plastered. And, as an indication of how crazy-making this election has been, this non-drinker is seriously considering getting plastered right along with them.

Anyway, depending on how things go, how much fun we're having, and who's still sober by later in the evening, we may or may not return home later that night to blog the rest of the election results. In lieu of blogging it with us, I highly recommend Daily Kos as your one-stop shop for all things election-day.

Last and most importantly, VOTE, VOTE, VOTE!


Kerry in an effing landslide, baby!

Pictures from Philadelphia today. One. Hundred. Thousand. PLUS.

Larger versions here, here, and here.

Left vs. Right

If you've been reading my blog for the last few months, you know about my ongoing interest in what's becoming of the Republican party and how it got there in the first place (previous posts here, here, and here).

In that vein, Paul Waldman has an excellent piece in The Gadflyer that discusses another aspect of today's GOP, namely, it's false dichotomy of the "real" and "fake" America:

Why does Bush get away with this? Because the press corps buys the Republican argument that the areas of the country where there are lots of Republicans are "really" American, and the areas of the country where there are lots of Democrats aren't. So they never asked whether the fact that Bush was a "Texas conservative" would hurt him, while they constantly wonder about how damaging it is that Kerry is a "Massachusetts liberal." Disparage Texas – or Alabama, or Mississippi, or Kansas – and you're in for a heap of trouble. Throw insults at Massachusetts or California or New York, and the press will laugh right along.
Truth is, rural America isn't any more American than urban America. For that matter, neither the Midwest nor the South are more American than the Coasts, East or West. And I don't know about anyone else, but as a member of the left coast, I'm getting pretty good and goddamn tired of being accused of not loving my country as much as the mythical down home folks of middle America. I lived in middle America for the better part of my lifetime and I'll tell you, they're no more patriotic than I am. Some of them less so. To try to paint any region or type or demographic with any kind of broad brush is both absurd and insulting. And it's about time the Republicans started paying the consequences for that divisive little tactic.

Matthew Yglesias has more.


Life Imitating Art

One of the stories I've been working on for awhile is a kind of "espionage and international intrigue" sorta thing (with supernatural elements...yeah, I know). I haven't been working on it for a few months (this goddamn election has taken most of my free time) but I've been doing online research about government stealth training and tactics. Since I do most of my research late at night, when it's easy to believe conspiracy theories and the normal sounds of an old house settling sounds exactly like the sly approach of a serial killer, I've thought on more than one occasion that Ashcroft & Co. might be suspicious of my online habits. In the cold light of day, however, such thoughts of course seemed quite preposterous. But apparently, I was right to be paranoid.

Author's Civil Liberties Violated By Federal Agents:

SB: Did you have any reason to suspect you were being targeted for a raid, any advance notice?

Dilyn: No. Not a clue. Although, for awhile prior to the raid, I thought I was being stalked. Mail was missing from my box, I caught someone searching my trash, I saw a prowler in nit yard and actually called the police. One of my neighbors saw someone watching from across the street--she wasn't sure if it was my house or hers. She called the police, too--turns out they taking surveillance photos.


100 Facts and 1 Opinion

Need a handy refutation for that wingnut coworker or die-hard Republican in-law? The Nation has put together a list of FACTS, complete with linked sources, that your Bush supporter will have a hard time disputing.

100 Facts and 1 Opinion
(they've even consolidated it into a convenient, one-page .PDF)

Oh, they'll try -- as I mentioned yesterday, "Ignorance is the new black" -- but cognitive dissonance can only go on so long before the head must explode.


Mad Photoshop skillz


"Bush is toast." Literally.

Eleven days and counting....

October surprise

Well, we've been speculating for months what it was going to be. Capturing bin Laden? Announcement that the elections will be suspended indefinitely due to increased terrorist chatter? Staged event in which "God" confirms that Kerry is, indeed, the Anti-Christ and anoints Dear Leader as "Grand High Emperor of the Universe"? Only Karl Rove really knows.

But since the announcement that Bush is taking the day off on Saturday to spend some time at Crawford, well...the conventional wisdom that it's going to be another secret Iraq trip stunt is probably the best guess. Digby's got the right idea about how to blunt the effect of such a possibility.

Ignorance is the new black

I'll just let this one speak for itself:

Bush Supporters Still Believe Iraq Had WMD or Major Program, Supported al Quaeda

If I start believing that I have a million dollars despite all evidence to the contrary, I can finally go on that 3 month trip to Europe I've been dreaming about!


It starts

These went out yesterday.

Click here and here to see the large versions.

The revolution has begun.


"Visualize Winning"

This is the future we're working toward, people:

Visualize Winning

My bold prediction that I'm sure to regret

I'm going to put down in writing what I've been reluctant to even say out loud, for fear of jinxing it or looking like an outright loony or both. But here's my bold prediction that I'm sure to regret later:

We're not just going to win, we're going to win in a landslide.

I know, unrealistic optimism speaking. But I still believe it. Why? Because I've been hearing people in places like grocery store lines and MAX stations making comments about the disaster of this presidency. Because I've got Republican coworkers who are voting for the Democrat for the first time ever. Because the streets of my neighborhood -- even the spendy UP district, where homes cost 3x what homes on my street cost -- are awash in Kerry/Edwards signs.

Of course, the plural of anecdote is not data. But I've read about the unprecedented number of newly registered voters, the number of people not being accurately counted in polling (due to people using cell phones, which pollsters don't call, instead of landlines, as well as newly registered voters, who aren't counted in polling, either), the dissatisfaction of some Republicans' with their President and their party, the avalanche of newspaper endorsements, the unprecedented fundraising..it's all given me reason to hope that no matter how much electioneering the Republicans engage in, the numbers will just be so overwhelming that there's no way they can steal it this time.

Motivation: now is when it really counts

Got my ballot yesterday. I've been waiting four years to fill in the little circle for the Democrat. I'm proud that Democrat is John Kerry. My ballot goes in the mail tomorrow.

Depending on how much blogging you do, you may already have read Suskind's piece on Bush, but if you haven't, please...make yourself some coffee, get comfortable, and take the time to read it. It's long, I know, but important.

The New York Times > Magazine > Without a Doubt

From the article:

The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''

Look, I realize I'm preaching to the converted here. But as I said previously, one of my main goals with this blog is to keep you motivated. Scared, angry, frustrated? This is the time to do something about it. We're down to the wire, the last days before what will be the most important day in your civic life to date, I promise you. No vote you have ever cast will be as important as the one for the 2004 Presidential election. You know this.

I beg of you to make sure everyone else knows it, too. Sign up for the GOTV efforts of any of a dozen organizations -- MoveOn, League of Conservation Voters, ACT, the DNC, the Kerry/Edwards campaign, whatever-- or, do what Sal and I have and sign up with all of them. I know, you don't have time. We don't, either. Do it anyway. It takes about an hour to get through the list they give you, going door-to-door and reminding people to vote. I know it's hard to believe, but that little appearance at people's doors makes all the difference, especially for voters who aren't as motivated as we are, but who really just need a polite kick in the ass. And I'm no fan of knocking on doors and talking to perfect strangers; to say that I'm painfully shy would be the understatement of the decade. But I'm doing it anyway. (And it's much easier than I thought it would be. People are much more receptive than expected and it turned out to be one of the more positive and uplifting things I've done this election season. If nothing else, it helped boost my confidence that the dark storm that's been over my country for the last four years is about to lift.)

If the door-to-door thing just wigs you out too much, volunteer for an hour or two at the phone bank of any of those organizations. Again, I know it's none of our favorite things, but it's so so so necessary (and also a lot easier than you'd expect). The Republicans aren't going to give up the seats of power easily or willingly, and making our voices heard, making our collective will so loud that it's deafening, is the only way to get rid of them. They're gearing up for stealing this election -- that's not an exaggeration -- and we're not letting it happen.

And to my Oregon readers: you've got your ballot, now vote.


I heart Fafblog

You know, sometimes humor is the only way to point out the absolute absurdity of the Repug's positions on shit. Thank God for Fafblog.

Cheney's Daughter


President Bush, your days are numbered

Just to provide a little balance to the tone of that last post, I encourage you, if at all possible, to either watch the PBS Frontline special "Choice 2004" (check local listings, buy it on video/DVD, or watch it online) or watch the outstanding documentary Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry, which is in theaters now and will be out on DVD on Tuesday. I promise you, no matter who your pick was during the primaries, learn this man's history and you will never be prouder of a candidate. Sure, you can be motivated by your outrage at the Bush Presidency, but there's about 50 reasons to be deeply inspired by the Kerry Presidency.


This is the kind of people we're up against this year, folks. The next time one of your Democrat friends bemoans the ruthlessness of the campaign, or complains that the Democrats shouldn't sink to that level, make them read this article and then ask them if they still feel we should take the high ground. And if they don't immediately reverse themselves and agree that we must win by any means necessary (and legal), administer several sharp raps on their heads until they wake up to reality.

Karl Rove in a Corner | Joshua Green:

"If this year stays true to past form, the campaign will get nastier in the closing weeks, and without anyone's quite registering it, Rove will be right back in his element. He seems to understand -- indeed, to count on -- the media's unwillingness or inability, whether from squeamishness, laziness, or professional caution, ever to give a full estimate of him or his work. It is ultimately not just Rove's skill but his character that allows him to perform on an entirely different plane. Along with remarkable strategic skills, he has both an understanding of the media's unstated self-limitations and a willingness to fight in territory where conscience forbids most others.

Rove isn't bracing for a close race. He's depending on it. "

The Swift Boat Shitheads for Profit episode wasn't the worst of it (and if you haven't heard, we'll be seeing "SBSfP, Part 2: More Assholery and Outrageous Lies about Kerry's Vietnam Service" shortly, though the Kossacks have been waging a kickass war on Sinclair Broadcasting to blunt the attack as much as possible). Repug efforts to disenfranchise voters and to sabotage the huge voter registration success of the Democrats have been hitting local news in Nevada, Oregon, Arizona, and, well, pretty much all over the damn place, but even though it's good that they're getting busted, it's probably too late to mend the damage done to voter registrations.

There are 19 days left in this election, John Kerry and John Edwards kicked ass in all 4 debates, the electorate got a chance to see Kerry looking downright fucking presidential, the Iraq war continues to go to hell, Dick Cheney scares the shit out of everyone, George Bush is lucky if he doesn't actually drool all over himself, and the Administration is so obsessed with power, they're not going down without the holy mother of all fights, so if you don't think things are about to get truly nasty, you are indeed smoking some high-grade crack.



In answer to a reader's question...yes, I've changed my contact address on the blog to my gmail address (writerscramp@gmail.com). Which is probably what I should've done way back when, but whatever. So don't freak when you email me and this previously unknown email pops up in the "TO" line.

And for those of you going "gmail-wha?"...try crawling out from under that rock, people. I've got invites so let me know if you want one.

In answer to a question from Friday

During the discussion after the debate Friday, one of our guests asked me why I'm so motivated in this particular election. That is, what about this election had invigorated me more than, say, the 2000 election. (As I remember, it was really a meta-question about the motivation for those of us who are so passionately against the other side this election and not necessarily a question for me specifically, even though she asked me for my specific motivation. If I've got that part wrong, I'm sure she'll correct me in email or comments.)

Another guest had mentioned previously that four years ago, most people who were unhappy with the outcome of the 2000 election had managed to reconcile themselves with it with the question, "How much damage can they do in four years?" I think she's right on that front...the base of the outrage we're seeing from the left is that we've seen the answer to that question, and it's chilling.

With every Administration, there's an inherent understanding that government is like a very slow game of tug-of-war, where each side will alternately gain ground and lose it but overall, the game itself will naturally seek a state of balance, a swing to the middle that keeps the battle going. (This analogy doesn't fit as well as I'd like because over a longer period, the game itself shifts, most usually in a progressive manner, since both technology and knowledge favor progressivism, which is why totalitarian regimes and dictatorships are doomed to a fixed shelf life. But for my purposes here, the analogy will suffice.)

Traditionally, the balance is struck not just between supporters and opponents of a particular administration, but between the multiple interests that compose those two sides. A balance between labor and management, public and corporate, environment and business, secular and religious, young and old, poor and rich. And really, this is the role government plays, or should play: referee. Now, we can disagree about how well the government performs this job, and argue that the two party system necessarily makes the referree biased toward whatever team is in power, but as part of the larger argument, I would submit that overall, the two sides balance out. Or did, at one time.

What sets this Administration apart is that they, in their role of referee, don't just favor the other side, but have actually moved the center line to the right, greased the rope on our side, and awarded extra points to the their team just because they can. In other words, they've violated the basic understanding we've traditionally had between the two sides, the trust that the referree would hew to the middle.

This was the essence of my answer to the question about why this election is so important to me, albeit without the tortured tug-of-war analogy. As I said Friday, on every issue, every topic, the Administration and the Republicans at large have reversed years and years of small victories and hard-fought compromises on everything from the environment to healthcare to labor protections to foreign policy. In four years, we the people have been under assault on every front by those in power, and believe me when I tell you I know exactly how radical and yes, paranoid, those words must sound.

What I didn't answer then, and what I've been thinking about since, is one of the truer and deeper reasons I've been more obsessed than usual. That reason is much more visceral, much more emotional and difficult to verbalize than talking about healthcare or the economy, which is why I didn't talk about it then. But it better explains the sense of urgency that I feel about this election, a feeling so deep and overwhelming it borders on desperation.

That desperation, that feeling that I had to do something, is what prompted me to start my own blog. And I've had three goals with it:

  1. VENT. Jeebus knows we've had more reasons for outrage than there are pebbles on a beach. Writing is my vent of choice and venting on the web is like standing on a street corner and screaming about the evils of the Republicans, except you get all the satisfaction of saying whatever you want without all the strange looks and whispers about the crazy lady in the Dr. Seuss hat.
  2. INFORMATION. I make no secret of the fact that I'm a political junkie and in the last year, I've become so addicted to blogs that I read far more than is probably good for me. Fact is, there's a mountain of information out there, the vast majority of which most people will never even hear about. If I linked to every story I thought was worth reading or blogged every nugget of information I thought more people should know about, I would be blogging full-time, my posts would be nothing but link lists, and you, no doubt, would run screaming from the room. Look, I realize most people aren't as interested (obsessed, whatever) as I am. But I know a lot of people who are interested so I strive to add a little snippet here or there to whatever your usual sources of information are, just to give you a peek into what's out there. If you want to read more, you know where to start.
  3. MOTIVATION. As I said before, we the people have been under a full assault for the last four years. (Well technically more, but that's a post for another time.) It's easy (and understandable) to be completely overwhelmed by the sheer mendacity of this Administration and to want to just throw your hands in the air and call it a day. No one understands or appreciates this sentiment more than I do, believe me. We all have jobs and families and lives. We know politics are important, the issues affect our lives, blah blah blah, but we've also got mortgages to pay and dentist appointments to make and family to care for. I know. But they're counting on us to get so overwhelmed that we give up, because they know that while they might have the money and the power, we've got the numbers, the one thing that threatens them and their way of doing things. So I try to toss in some motivation, Daily Show clips that get you laughing and energized, links to Photoshopped pictures of Darth Cheney and Zell "I'm not a Democrat but I play one on TV" Miller, and encouraging posts about our GOTV efforts and grassroots successes. I hold no illusions that I'm influencing more than a small circle of people, but in an army of any size, all you can do is pick up the comrades around you and hope that everyone else will do the same.

What I don't often blog about, however, is that deeper feeling, that visceral emotion. Most of the time, it's all I can do to cope with it, let alone write about it, and since I want you to be motivated, not depressed, I choose not to blog it much. Which is why I stay on topics like Republican scandals, candidate ineptitude, and policy discussions. I feel strongly about all of it, but my emotions aren't nearly so close to the surface as they are about the war and the suffering.

We went ahead and watched Fahrenheit 9/11 after everyone left on Friday. We saw it this summer in the theater so we knew what to expect. And even when we'd seen it before, we already knew most of ground the movie covered. Nonetheless, there's no way not to be overcome by it, no matter how prepared or informed you are. You see the pictures of Iraqis before their world disappeared, whose concerns were no different from ours. They worry about their children's futures, they work hard everyday just to put food on the table, they look forward to the simplest of joys -- holidays with family, a day at the market, the birth of a healthy baby. You see these pictures, and they're superimposed with scenes of devastation and chaos, pain and loss and bewilderment, Iraqis who were struggling just to survive their hardscrabble life, now trying to understand what had they done to deserve this. And while you're watching these poor people, angry and sobbing, you can't help thinking, "What if that were my child? What if that were my husband? What if? What if?" The heartbreak, it overwhelms.

But there are soldiers, too. American soldiers, who believed they were avenging a terrible, terrible tragedy, who thought their targets were men worthy of attack, that they were doing a good thing, that they were protecting one country from terrorism and freeing another from tyranny. American soldiers, who were told a lie and did their jobs and must now face, every day, the haunted looks of the people they thought they were freeing, the mistrust and the fear and the desperation and the anger. American soldiers who willingly sacrificed, whose purpose was the most noble of any, who were ill-used by a leader they believed in and trusted not to send them casually to their deaths. American soldiers, who had families in that country they thought they were protecting, but who were losing their benefits and taking pay cuts and ordered to stay away from those families longer than they'd been promised. You watch all of this, these American soldiers now angry and disillusioned and broken and cheated, and you can't help thinking, "What if that were my brother? What if that were my sister? What if? What if?" And the heartbreak, it overwhelms.

It's all the suffering that motivates me. The suffering caused by the war, the economy, the Administration. The suffering of the poor and the hungry and the homeless who've been pushed down to their knees by policies that seem intent to not just ignore them, but seem bent on destroying them. It's the suffering of children who go to schools that have outdated textbooks and whose teachers must pay for pencils and paper out of their own pockets, whose hungry little minds are slowly starving to death on a diet of aptitude tests and stripped-down curricula, where art and music and sports are considered unnecessary. It's the suffering of women who must constantly fight off the groping invasion of this government and its selfish morality, who must fight just for the most basic to control their own bodies, women both here and abroad who are fighting to be something more than an incubator. It's the suffering fo the elderly who must choose between food and medicine while big pharma lines their pockets, holding the weakest among us hostage to their greed, the suffering of all of us who live with the worry of how to pay for care if anything should happen to us, the suffering from not going to the doctor when we're sick or getting new glasses when we need them because we can't afford to pay for it. It's the suffering of families who must work long hours and long weeks to keep the bank at bay and who worry that their kids are missing out because they spend more time in daycare than at home. It's the suffering of the environment, of the birds and the trees, the fish and the air, all of the life between sea and sky, caused by corporations and cronyism who care nothing for any of it, whose only driving force is money, more and more of it, by any means necessary.

Suffering isn't new and it most certainly isn't going away any time soon. But I believe we should always strive to end it and every victory, no matter the size, puts us one step closer to a better world.

That's why this election so important to me.


That crazy internet rumor

A speech made by Ohio Representative Tim Ryan (D) is making the round of the blogosphere and hopefully, email. If you know anyone of eligible age -- and rumor has it that it'd be 18 to 35 year-olds this time around, with no deferments for college, marriage, or family...and don't even think for a moment it'd be men only -- email them this link to the video. Actually, even if you don't know anyone who's of eligible, email it anyway.

Mathew Gross: You're Gonna Get Drafted

As Teresa Nielsen Hayden once famously said, "I deeply resent the way this administration makes me feel like a nutbar conspiracy theorist."


Ah, Memories...

So, unless you've been living under a rock, you know that Charlie Duelfer has confirmed, once again, that Hussein not only didn't have WMD, he had been ramping down his capability for even acquiring them for quite some time.

Funny, I'm having the oddest sense of deja vu. One of these days, this crazy bizarro world we're living in will turn back into the real world we're all so fond of.

November 2nd sounds like a good day to me.

Lies and the Lying Liars...

Had myself a post nearly finished this morning on the multitude of lies spewing forth from Cheney last night, complete with a wealth of links refuting most of them, but Blogger ate it up and never spit it back out. Sigh. The hazards of electronic media, I guess.

Doesn't matter, though. The rest of the blogosphere has been on it (as one would expect), and Kevin Drum has put together the top 6 most egregious ones into a handy chart format. With pictures, even!
The Washington Monthly: Lie Patrol

Too bad Edwards had to waste so much of his time calling Cheney out. But it's to his credit that he managed no only to accomplish that, but to also hit all the major Kerry/Edwards talking points, and doing it with polish and that million dollar smile. The Bushies are just happy that ol' Dick didn't peel his face off and scare all the little children before bedtime.


Fun with JPEGs

It always makes me giggle when The Daily Show accompanies pictures of Darth, er, Dick Cheney with the Imperial March from Star Wars. This however, made me laugh out loud:

The Real Edwards and Cheney

Hee. Debate starts at 6 PM PDT and as always, PBS or C-Span are your best bets.


DeLay going down?

Could it be? Could it really, really be? Could Tom "Lucifer was a Wussy Do-Gooding Saint Compared to Me" DeLay really be at the end of his destructive reign?

Laura Rozen of War and Piece says yes.

In addition to a Kerry win, the ousting of DeLay will be an answer to the very fervent prayers of this non-religious agnostic. Whether it's the corporation corruption scandal, the Texas redistricting kerfuffle, or the whole fake charity front thing that finally brings that evil little man down, I don't care, just as long as he's brought down, preferably with a mighty-satisfying smackdown, but whatever, as long as he's frogmarched all the way to a Texas prison.

Look, George Bush isn't the only problem with what's happened to our country in the last four years. It was a confluence of events, almost all of it engineered by the GOP beginning in 1994 and the "Contract With America" horrorshow, coupled with the party's exchange of traditional conservative idealogy for power-hungry zealotry, that has brought us to the brink of the abyss we're all staring down into right now.

And make no mistake. It's not just George Bush that's culpable, here. Nor is it just Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. It's Doug Feith, Scooter Libby, Armitage, Wolfowitz, etc. within the Executive Branch, working in tandem with the hacktacular Bill Frist and Denny Hastert and unbelievably craven and corrupt Tom DeLay that have driven us to our knees. (I consider people like Condi Rice and Colin Powell only slightly less culpable, mainly because their blame comes from either incompetence (in the case of the former) or selling out their integrity in exchange for god-only-knows-what (in the case of the latter). Either way, they're not the driving force behind the situation we now find ourselves in, but they sure as hell made things a whole lot worse.)

That's why it's not just important that we get Kerry into office NOW, it's also imperative that we do everything we can to change the make up of the Congress to rid ourselves of the totalitarian stranglehold the Republicans usually have, as well as getting rid of the High-Asshole-In-Chief DeLay. Frist and Hastert are, as I said, hacktacular, but it's DeLay who has an iron-fisted grip on the Republican caucus and it's DeLay's brutal, Machiavellian, take-no-prisoners methodology that has turned the Congress into nothing more than a check-writing machine for the most vile, contemptible, and corrupt factions imaginable. Getting rid of him isn't going to magically make everything all better, but just like getting rid of the Shrubbery also gets rid of his entire evil Administration by default, it's where we have to start if we have any hope of turning things around.


Them vs. Us

Haven't had time to blog the debate, though I hope to have a few minutes to get my thoughts down tomorrow.

In the meantime, thought I'd pass along the following link that encapsulates perfectly one of the many hundreds of reasons I'm so violently opposed to the GOP in its current form

GOP Hit Parade

To my Republican friends, again I say: is this really a party to be proud of?