28 November 2004

The biggest fear is of doing anything that could get you or your network accused of being liberal

Some interesting comments from the former producer of the MSNBC Donahue show.
In 2002, I was an on-air commentator at MSNBC, and also senior producer on the "Donahue" show, the most-watched program on the channel. In the last months of the program, before it was terminated on the eve of the Iraq war, we were ordered by management that every time we booked an antiwar guest, we had to book 2 pro-war guests. If we booked two guests on the left, we had to book 3 on the right. At one meeting, a producer suggested booking Michael Moore and was told that she would need to book 3 right-wingers for balance. I considered suggesting Noam Chomsky as a guest, but our studio couldn't accommodate the 86 right-wingers we would have needed for balance.

I was never a fan of Phil Donahue, but he did have the highest rated show on the MSNBC network at the time of its cancellation and it looks like conservative corporate mainstream media interests axed it in lieu of more pro-war programming.

Liberal media bias my arse…

Delusion is still the defining characteristic of the Bush administration

Former Reagan Assistant Secretary of the Treasury asks what became of Conservatives.
America has blundered into a needless and dangerous war, and fully half of the country’s population is enthusiastic. Many Christians think that war in the Middle East signals "end times" and that they are about to be wafted up to heaven. Many patriots think that, finally, America is standing up for itself and demonstrating its righteous might. Conservatives are taking out their Vietnam frustrations on Iraqis. Karl Rove is wrapping Bush in the protective cloak of war leader. The military-industrial complex is drooling over the profits of war. And neoconservatives are laying the groundwork for Israeli territorial expansion.

Not so long ago I would have identified the liberal media as the New York Times and Washington Post, CNN and the three TV networks, and National Public Radio. But both the Times and the Post fell for the Bush administration’s lies about WMD and supported the US invasion of Iraq. On balance CNN, the networks, and NPR have not made an issue of the Bush administration’s changing explanations for the invasion.

Do the Village Voice and The Nation comprise the "liberal media"? The Village Voice is known for Nat Hentoff and his columns on civil liberties. Every good conservative believes that civil liberties are liberal because they interfere with the police and let criminals go free. The Nation favors spending on the poor and disfavors gun rights, but I don’t see the "liberal hate" in The Nation’s feeble pages that Rush Limbaugh was denouncing on C-Span.

In the ranks of the new conservatives, however, I see and experience much hate. It comes to me in violently worded, ignorant and irrational emails from self-professed conservatives who literally worship George Bush. Even Christians have fallen into idolatry. There appears to be a large number of Americans who are prepared to kill anyone for George Bush.

Paul Craig Roberts is dead on in his assessment of the neoconservative mind mold.

24 November 2004

Top 10 Myths About Thanksgiving

Courtesy of Rick Shenkman, one of the editors at History News Network.
  1. The Pilgrims Held the First Thanksgiving

    To see what the first Thanksgiving was like you have to go to Texas.

  2. Thanksgiving Was About Family

    If it had been about family, the Pilgrims never would have invited the Indians to join them.

  3. Thanksgiving Was About Religion

    No it wasn't. Paraphrasing the answer provided above, if Thanksgiving had been about religion, the Pilgrims never would have invited the Indians to join them.

  4. The Pilgrims Ate Turkey

    No one knows if they had turkey, although they were used to eating turkey. The only food we know they had for sure was deer.

  5. The Pilgrims Landed on Plymouth Rock

    According to historian George Willison, who devoted his life to the subject, the story about the rock is all malarkey, a public relations stunt pulled off by townsfolk to attract attention.

  6. Pilgrims Lived in Log Cabins

    The log cabin did not appear in America until late in the seventeenth century, when it was introduced by Germans and Swedes.

  7. Pilgrims Dressed in Black

    Not only did they not dress in black, they did not wear those funny buckles, weird shoes, or black steeple hats.

  8. Pilgrims, Puritans -- Same Thing

    The Pilgrims came over on the Mayflower and lived in Plymouth. The Puritans, arriving a decade later, settled in Boston.

  9. Puritans Hated Sex

    Actually, they welcomed sex as a God-given responsibility.

  10. Puritans Hated Fun

    Actually, the Puritans welcomed laughter and dressed in bright colors (or, to be precise, the middle and upper classes dressed in bright colors; members of the lower classes were not permitted to indulge themselves -- they dressed in dark clothes).

AFI List of 400 nominated movie quotes

American Film Institute's list of 400 nominated movie quotes for the top 100 list.

23 November 2004

Spyware and adware can prove quite difficult to remove, even for dedicated anti-spyware scanners

Even the best anti-spyware scanner missed at least a quarter of stuff it should have cleaned up.

Another reason to put your trust in alternative operating systems, or one unburdened by proprietary hooks. And drop Microsoft Internet Explorer in lieu of Mozilla or Firefox.

With Deepest Sympathy

KIA letters to parents and spouses from Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld appear to be machine stamped rather than signed by hand.
Donald Rumsfeld – who’s known as a people-eating systems man – has a long history that shows he prefers technology to humans. Certainly as SecDef he’s always gone for high-tech military gear rather than giving the boots on the ground max priority when it comes to the basics: armored vehicles and vests, sufficient ammo and all the other vital stuff that helps soldiers make it through the Valley of Death. 

His beloved shock-and-awe whiz-bang wonder weapons worked well enough initially in Afghanistan and Iraq, but as we saw on the tube last week, we’re once again back to the age-old struggle of man against man – with grunts, not machines, taking and holding ground.

And now, apparently, Rumsfeld’s obsession with machines and their efficiency has translated into his using one to replace his own John Hancock on KIA (killed in action) letters to parents and spouses. Two Pentagon-based colonels, who’ve both insisted on anonymity to protect their careers, have indignantly reported that the SecDef has relinquished this sacred duty to a signature device rather than signing the sad documents himself.

Anything to keep themselves detached from an immoral and unjust war and its nasty human fallout…

21 November 2004

When he was killed in front of my eyes and my camera -- the story of his death became my responsibility

Kevin Sites, the embedded reporter who filmed the video footage of a U.S. Marine shooting a wounded man inside a Iraq Mosque, breaks his silence and speaks out about the event.
"He's fucking faking he's dead -- he's faking he's fucking dead."

Through my viewfinder I can see him raise the muzzle of his rifle in the direction of the wounded Iraqi. There are no sudden movements, no reaching or lunging.

However, the Marine could legitimately believe the man poses some kind of danger. Maybe he's going to cover him while another Marine searches for weapons.

Instead, he pulls the trigger. There is a small splatter against the back wall and the man's leg slumps down.

Sites has been the recipient of death threats in the aftermath of the release of this video.

I disagree strongly with those who believe this U.S. soldier is guilty of war crimes. Everybody that our forces come across are suspect, and many booby traps have been unleashed, as these insurgents and terrorists are eager to employ any underhanded scheme to inflict damage. However, it must be acknowledged that such video footage will be perceived much differently in the Arab world. Which is why I opposed this immoral invasion from the start, believing its outcome would be tainted and the U.S. would not be accorded liberator status, but instead, be decried as bullies. And that's precisely how this sordid campaign is playing out.

We're not winning the hearts and minds in Iraq. Which calls into question why we are there, given the fact that the other justifications (WMD, Al-Qaeda link, etc.…) were found to be fraudulent.

20 November 2004

Equality, equity and government for all the people

Progressive moral values.
Moral values at the national level are idealized family values projected onto the nation. Progressive values are the values of a responsible nurturant family, where parents (if there are two) are equally responsible. Their job is to nurture their children and raise them to be nurturers of others. Nurturance has two aspects: empathy and responsibility--both for yourself and your children. From this, all progressive values follow, both in the family and in politics.

If you empathize with your children, you will want them to have strong protection, fair and equal treatment and fulfillment in life. Fulfillment requires freedom, freedom requires opportunity and opportunity requires prosperity. Since your family lives in, and requires, a community, community building and community service are required. Community requires cooperation, which requires trust, which requires honesty and open communication. Those are the progressive values--in politics as well as family life.

On the other hand, the strict-father family model assumes that evil and danger will always lurk in the world, that life is difficult, that there will always be winners and losers and that children are born bad--they want to do what feels good, not what's right--and have to be made good. A strict father is needed to protect and support the family and to teach his kids right from wrong. That can be done in only one way: punishment painful enough that, to avoid it, children will learn the internal discipline necessary to be moral. That discipline can also make them prosperous if they seek their self-interest and no one interferes. Mommy isn't strong enough to protect the family and is too soft-hearted to discipline the children. That's why fathers are necessary.

Apply this, via metaphor, to the nation: We need a strong President who knows right from wrong to defend the nation. Social programs are immoral because they give people things they haven't earned and so make them undisciplined--both dependent and less able to function morally. The prosperous people are the good people. Those who are not prosperous deserve their poverty. Taxes take away the rightful rewards of the prosperous. Wrongdoers should be punished severely. Government should get out of the way of disciplined (hence good) people seeking their self-interest. The President is to be obeyed; since he knows right from wrong, his authority is legitimate and not to be questioned. In foreign policy, he is also the absolute moral authority and so needs no advice from lesser countries.

18 November 2004

Thousands of Ohioans were denied their right to vote, and the ultimate vote count is very much in doubt

Hearings on Ohio Voting Put 2004 Election in Doubt
“In precincts 1 A and 5 G, voting as Hillman Elementary School, which is a predominantly African American community, there were woefully insufficient number of voting machines in three precincts. I was told that the standard was to have one voting machine per 100 registered voters. Precinct A had 750 registered voters. Precinct G had 690. There should have been 14 voting machines at this site. There were only 6, three per precinct, less than 50 percent of the standard. This caused an enormous bottleneck among voters who had to wait a very, very long time to vote, many of them giving up in frustration and leaving. . . . I estimate, by the way, that an estimated loss of over 8,000 votes from the African American community in the City of Youngstown alone, with its 84 precincts, were lost due to insufficient voting machines, and that would translate to some 7,000 votes lost for John Kerry for President in Youngstown alone. . . .”

“Just yesterday I went to the Trumbull Board of Elections in northeast Ohio, I wanted to review their precinct logs so I could continue my investigation. This was denied. I was told by the Board of Elections official that I could not see them until after the official vote was given.”

The testimony has revealed a widespread and concerted effort on the part of Republican Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell to deny primarily African-American and young voters the right to cast their ballots within a reasonable time. By depriving precincts of adequate numbers of functioning voting machines, Blackwell created waits of three to eleven hours, driving tens of thousands of likely Democratic voters away from the polls and very likely affecting the outcome of the Ohio vote count, which in turn decided the national election.

While Democrats embraced a Get Out to Vote campaign, Republicans in Ohio opted for a supress the voter scheme that paid off.

17 November 2004

Things you can only say at Thanksgiving

  1. Talk about a huge breast!
  2. Tying the legs together keeps the inside moist.
  3. It's Cool Whip time!
  4. If I don't undo my pants, I'll burst!
  5. Whew, that was one terrific spread!
  6. I'm in the mood for a little dark meat.
  7. Are you ready for seconds yet?
  8. It's a little dry, do you still want to eat it?
  9. Just wait your turn, you'll get some!
  10. Don't play with your meat.
  11. Just spread the legs open and stuff it in.
  12. Do you think you'll be able to handle all these people at once?
  13. I didn't expect everyone to come at once!
  14. You still have a little bit on your chin.
  15. How long will it take after you stick it in?
  16. You'll know it's ready when it pops up.
  17. Wow, I didn't think I could handle all of that!
  18. That's the biggest one I've ever seen!
  19. How long do I beat it before it's ready?

They simply do not care if their leaders are ethical

It only matters when it's the opposition party.
House Republicans proposed changing their rules last night to allow members indicted by state grand juries to remain in a leadership post, a move that would benefit Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) in case he is charged by a Texas grand jury that has indicted three of his political associates, according to GOP leaders.

House Republicans adopted the indictment rule in 1993, when they were trying to end four decades of Democratic control of the House, in part by highlighting Democrats' ethical lapses. They said at the time that they held themselves to higher standards than prominent Democrats such as then-Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski (Ill.), who eventually pleaded guilty to mail fraud and was sentenced to prison.

The blatant hypocrisy from the "moral values" party is staggering.

15 November 2004

The crime for which the Fallujans were punished was their refusal to submit to the authority of an unelected CIA-designated dictator

Victory in Falluja!
Question 1: Does the conquest of Falluja mean that that the U.S. occupation of Iraq is now over? Apparently not, because it seems that as U.S. officials were slowly preparing to flatten and “pacify” the city, most of the thousands of insurgents in Falluja hightailed it out of there in order to continue their guerrilla attacks elsewhere, much to the chagrin of U.S. military officials, who had hoped to finally kill, once and for all, all the “bad guys” in Iraq.

Question 2: Will the ranks of the insurgents now be reduced by 600, the number of “insurgents” killed in Falluja? Not necessarily because each of those 600 dead people probably had brothers, sisters, cousins, friends, parents, nephews, and nieces, all of whom now have reason to join the insurgency to avenge the death of their friend or loved one, to oust an illegal invader and occupier from their country, and to overthrow its unelected dictatorial puppet regime.

Question 3: Isn’t Allawi’s attack on Falluja somewhat similar to what the Allawi regime is accusing Saddam Hussein of having done – killing his own people for resisting his regime? What will Allawi and U.S. officials say when Saddam says at his trial (assuming he lives long enough to be tried), “Hey, wait a minute! How can you complain about my putting down a resistance when you’ve done and are doing the same thing I did? What’s wrong with killing, flattening, and ‘pacifying’ people who are opposing our respective dictatorial regimes?” (Actually, Saddam would claim that his regime was more legitimate than that of Allawi, given that Allawi is an unelected stooge of a foreign power illegally occupying the country while Saddam was reelected in the 2002 Iraqi presidential election by supposedly receiving 100 percent of the 11,445,638 votes cast.)

Question 4: Why did U.S. forces obey Allawi’s orders to flatten and “pacify” Falluja? Well, certainly not to liberate the Fallujans from the clutches of Saddam Hussein because, remember, he was taken into custody long ago. And not because the Fallujans were threatening America with weapons of mass destruction because, remember, those were destroyed long ago. And not because the Fallujans had anything to do with the 9/11 attacks because they didn’t.

For every one killed five more are recruited…

13 November 2004

Letter to the Editors of Red State Newspapers

Making it's way around the internet…

Bravo middle America! Until election day, I was worried about what you were  going to do when your job is outsourced, when you find privatized social security isn't enough to live on, when you can't afford healthcare, when  you're arrested for something you didn't do and find you have no civil  liberties, when global warming's hurricanes and tornadoes destroy all you've  worked for, when a corporation poisons your drinking water (I drink bottled  water), or when your sons and daughters are killed in Iraq.

I don't worry  about myself. I'm only thirty, making close to $150K a year, and it's only  the beginning. I won't need social security, I will buy my way out of any  legal trouble, my investments are diversified enough to survive natural  disasters, my kids will get a superb education in private school, and believe me, on a salary like this, my health care costs are not a problem.   Best of all, you can bet that - like George Bush - neither I nor my kids  will ever be caught dead in some foreign war. That's what you're for!

Privilege has its perks. While you were voting based on feelings about an abortion you'll never have or gay people you don't know, you increased my tax cuts and made my life easier. Yours will get harder, and in the  process, you will get what you exactly what you voted for. You got played, middle America, and all of us "latte drinking liberals" and the rest of the rich thank you for being too stupid to realize it.

The Scott Peterson Effect

I am just curious; For those of you who do NOT believe that life begins at conception, what do you think about the Redwood, CA. jury finding Scott Peterson guilty of "second-degree murder" in the death of the UNBORN "baby Peterson"?

At a minimum, it must make one think about the potential ramifications of this verdict.

I think it is interesting that Peterson was charged with the murder of his Unborn child. For years now, pro-choice extremists have maintained that the unborn life is; a "fetus", a "life-form", an "embryo", a "fertilized egg", all of which are euphemism's too deny that it is "Life" In the Peterson case, the baby was unborn, yet Scott was found guilty of second-degree murder of the "fetus". Abortion, OK, second-degree murder, not OK.

In 2004 it is outrageous that we even need to have the abortion discussion, isn't it? Adoption, has always been one "option." Additionally, I believe we would better serve society by offering more advanced sex education in our schools, to prevent unwanted pregnancies, (and here's a novel concept), BEFORE they occur. I will go so far as to say that every high school should have free condoms available to anyone requesting them. I wouldn't mind supporting that expenditure with my taxes. I know that someone may say that in doing so promotes sexual activity. Wrong! I support abstinence, until marriage, but lets be real, those who are going to have sex, will do so regardless. And, those who are not going to engage in sex, will not.

So, abortion of a "FETUS" OK?, but Second-degree murder, of the same "FETUS" not OK. Huh??

A mainstream America far different from what the emerging conventional wisdom about this election is making it out to be

As Ohio begins its counting of provisional ballots, political pundits across the nation are still inundating us with the triumph of conservative values theme. Rob Robb touts cultural conservatism and conservative NY Times columnist David Brooks bellows on how in touch Rove and Bush are in with the exurbia culture.

However, here is a different take on the matter from a historian

Perhaps most telling is how the election would look if the thirteen states of the solid red South were separated from the overall vote totals. These states represent only 30 percent of the population and 168 of the 538 electors, but they flexed their Bible Belt muscle and voted as a George Bush bloc, giving him a 5.75 million vote margin over John Kerry, with nine of the states going for Bush by at least 15 percentage points. Yet the president's overall margin in the election was 3.5 million votes, which means the rest of the country -- representing 70 percent of the population -- gave Senator Kerry a 2.25 million vote margin and an electoral vote edge of 252 to 118.

Socially conservative white Southerners may be a knotty problem for the Democrats, but despite their power as a voting bloc and ability to impose their political will on the nation, it is they who stand outside America's emerging mainstream. They may call themselves "ordinary Americans" and go regularly to church, but that doesn't mean they're any more ordinary or moral than my e-mail correspondents and the majority of Americans who live in diverse metropolitan areas and subscribe to the national norms of tolerance, inclusion, social equality, and personal freedom. Indeed when it comes to accepting these cultural norms, the white South has for years been behind the rest of America, stubbornly so.

Of course some pundits may argue that the momentum is on the side of these socially conservative Americans, but again the trends say otherwise. In fact the illusion of a growing social conservatism has much to do with the fact that the pre-Baby Boom generation of more traditional Americans are living much longer lives and voting in very large numbers. Once younger voters begin to replace them, the socially conservative vote will dwindle.

This is borne out by survey research conducted in recent years, much of it done by the University of Chicago's well-respected National Opinion Research Center (NORC). According to my cohort analysis of their on-line data, the generation gap in social attitudes is compelling and wide, with older Americans steadfastly conservative and younger Americans the opposite.

12 November 2004

Alberto Gonzales is a poor choice for the top law enforcement post

So says Human Rights Watch
As White House counsel, Gonzales was the architect of the Bush administration’s policy of placing detainees captured in the fight against terrorism beyond the protection of any law. That policy opened the door to brutality against detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay and unfair legal proceedings against them.

"The Attorney General should enforce the law,” said Jamie Fellner, director of the U.S. Program of Human Rights Watch. “Gonzales has helped the president circumvent it. His record suggests that he would be more likely to defer to the President than to uphold basic rights.”

10 November 2004

Flu Who

Typical Communist healthcare...shortages; long lines, and a more-or-less genteel Black Market. Note who gets the state medicine--the old; the sick, and, of course, the children--favorite "victims" in the view of The Left.

Capitalists want the middle aged, middle class workers, who collectively have all the money (before taxes), to buy their own family health services from among competing private providers. They offer health care for the poor through teaching hospitals and free clinics...wherein the poor present themselves as practice subjects to defray the cost of their health care. After all, if we don't keep the bourgeoisie healthy, how can we exploit it.

The Plutocracy wants medicine to be "Big Medicine," and Big Medicine to be (unconstitutionally) federalized medicine. This flu vaccine shortage is a typical example. Production has been outsourced to maximize profit by cutting labor and regulatory costs. The system enevitably malfunctions. The victims of The Plutocracy get bad medicine, grossly overpriced.

If the agent government does not meet our demands within 48 hours we will behead

In Iraq, Prime Minister Allawi's relatives have been kidnapped, and are being held for ransom.
An Islamic militant group said in an Internet statement it abducted three relatives of Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi and threatened to kill them in 48 hours if the state did not halt a raid on Fallujah and free prisoners.

"Body parts everywhere" in Fallujah but word is, many of the insurgents already departed Fallujah for other cities. And here's a disturbing note:

A little later I’m talking with someone on the street who told me that earlier today someone offered him $3,000 for his car. I looked at his car, and it would maybe earn $500 on a good day. He said, “They told me they wanted to use it as a bomb.”

Iraqi troops desert their posts, torn by orders from commanders and outrage from their countrymen.

Destroy it, then build it up again. Your tax dollars at work.

Meanwhile, America's most decorated military veteran calls out President Bush to hold those accountable for the many grievous, even criminal, mistakes that have occurred in Iraq on their watch. Also, his note about how the ambitious former mayor who dodged the Vietnam draft should be rapped on the head.

One Iraqi take on the Allawi imposed martial law and US Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's recent remarks on Fallujah.

Finally, The Economist takes a look at the Lancet medical journal study, that estimated 100,000 civilian death toll in Iraq and concludes that their mark may be an accurate estimate.

8 November 2004

Moral Values Were Key

Plastered all over the mainstream media is the theme of how moral values was the deciding factor in the election.

But consider these factoids:

Here's a more vitriolic take, making many of the same points, albeit in a bit angrier mode.

Or could a case could be made that ignorance played at least as big a role in the election's outcome?

A recent survey by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland found that nearly 70 percent of President Bush's supporters believe the U.S. has come up with "clear evidence" that Saddam Hussein was working closely with Al Qaeda. A third of the president's supporters believe weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. And more than a third believe that a substantial majority of world opinion supported the U.S.-led invasion.

This is scary. How do you make a rational political pitch to people who have put that part of their brain on hold? No wonder Bush won.

The survey, and an accompanying report, showed that there's a fair amount of cluelessness in the ranks of the values crowd. The report said, "It is clear that supporters of the president are more likely to have misperceptions than those who oppose him."

7 November 2004

Florida election was hacked

Florida Democratic U.S. House candidate says the election was hacked and he knows who and how.
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 9,676 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.

Yet in the touch-screen counties, where investigators may have been more vigorously looking for such anomalies, high percentages of registered Democrats generally equaled high percentages of votes for Kerry. (I had earlier reported that county size was a variable – this turns out not to be the case. Just the use of touch-screens versus optical scanners.)

Some charts illustrating voting irregularities. Not absolutely conclusive, but certainly fishy. And we've discovered that Warren County (in Ohio) officials "locked down" its administration building to prevent anybody from observing the vote counting there.

MSNBC Keith Olbermann has chimed in on this course of events, and pledges to pull these stories into the mainstream on Monday.

Thus the majority of the media has yet to touch the other stories of Ohio (the amazing Bush Times Ten voting machine in Gahanna) or the sagas of Ohio South: huge margins for Bush in Florida counties in which registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans 2-1, places where the optical scanning of precinct totals seems to have turned results from perfect matches for the pro-Kerry exit poll data, to Bush sweeps.

A summary list of articles and posts on the matter can be found here.


Much ballyhooed is the 51% mandate that now grants President Bush his needed political capital, but I'm still numbed that the race was close at all. Barring any new developments regarding election 2004, this will be my last missive and I shall move on to other matters worthy of writing upon here. And, here is a comprehensive roundup of all the election result data, showing that all the results weren't captured by Republicans – Democrats made gains in state legislatures and had three million more composite votes for U.S. Senate candidates.

In any case, I'm still in disbelief how:

Some post election predictions:
» read more

6 November 2004

Free States vs. Slave States

Lots of Election 2004 maps have been bandied about, but this one is definitely the most disturbing. With the exception of Iowa (which went down to the wire and a definite east/west split is evident) and Indiana (a great KKK bastion in the 1920s), the free states all went for Kerry and the red states and brown states (territories open to slavery) opted for Bush.

Of course, during pre-Civil War times, Democrat and Republican allegiances were reversed, and Abraham Lincoln was a Republican. When Lyndon Johnson signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act he remarked that There goes the South for a generation. Well, it's two generations and counting now.

It appears that the cultural and geographical division has remained intact.

5 November 2004

Hard to imagine how one could conclude that this election was clean

As President Bush boasts of his political capital, questions linger on whether this election was a clean one. Over a 1000 reports of electronic voting trouble and perhaps many more escaped detection, considering that there is no audit trail, no verification process of the validity of counting the vote.

In North Carolina, a voting computer irretrievably lost 4,500 votes. They simply vanished into the ether, and cannot be recovered, thus disenfranchising those voters. Did this happen in other places and not get noted? With no audit trail, there can be no recovery. That is a state that must be remedied ASAP.

And the large turnout was an increase over 2000 totals, but not that significant, in terms of percentage. Yet, while most reported no problems with lines and excessive waits in 2000, there were widespread accounts of excessive lines, and polling places that were kept open until the wee hours of the morning. Here's a discussion of Franklin County, Ohio voting. And here is another citizen report from Ohio:

Hundreds of thousands of people were disenfranchised in Ohio. People waited on line for as long as 10 hours. It appears to have only happened in Democratic-leaning precincts, principally (a) precincts where many African Americans lived, and (b) precincts near colleges.

I spoke to a young man who got on line at 11:30 am and voted at 7 pm. When he left at 7 pm, the line was about 150 voters longer than when he'd arrived, which meant those people were going to wait even longer. In fact they waited for as much as 10 hours, and their voting was concluded at about 3 am. The reason this occurred was that they had 1 voting station per 1000 voters, while the adjacent precinct had 1 voting station per 184. Both precincts were within the same county, and managed by the same county board of elections. The difference between them is that the privileged polling place was in a rural, solidly republican, area, while the one with long lines was in the college town of Gambier, OH.

Lines of 4 and 5 hours were the order of the day in many African-American neighborhoods.

Touch screen voting machines in Youngstown OH were registering "George W. Bush" when people pressed "John F. Kerry" ALL DAY LONG. This was reported immediately after the polls opened, and reported over and over again throughout the day, and yet the bogus machines were inexplicably kept in use THROUGHOUT THE DAY.

Countless other frauds occurred, such as postcards advising people of incorrect polling places, registered Democrats not receiving absentee ballots, duly registered young voters being forced to file provisional ballots even though their names and signatures appeared in the voting rolls, longtime active voting registered voters being told they weren't registered, bad faith challenges by Republican "challengers" in Democratic precincts, and on and on and on.

Here is a detailed chart on surprising Florida election results. I'm too tired to make sense of it now, or even if it is indicative of anything.

Again, I'm not concluding that the election was rigged. On the other hand, we cannot definitively say it was not, since there is no way to tell.

But some people say Kerry won….

These are extremely vulnerable workers

A glimpse at the plight of California Dairy Workers.
Lorenzo Bravo Salgado, 35, can barely walk. He used to work at Soares Dairy in Turlock, California, until a cow he was milking kicked him in the chest. Bravo fell backwards and broke a disc in his back.

"I started to black out. I started urinating blood," says Bravo. "I told the patrón [dairy owner] what happened, but he told me if I didn’t want to work, there were plenty of others who would."

Bravo says he regularly worked from 11 p.m. to 11 a.m., and then would turn around and work from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. "It was a choice of eating or sleeping," he says. "If I slept I didn’t eat, if I ate, I didn’t sleep."

His co-worker Juan Carrillo, 37, reports that he was paid no overtime and was given only one day off a week. If he was sick, he had to pay for it. "[Soares] made me sign a contract saying I would pay a fine of $50 a day if I didn’t come to work."

This is why everyone should be in opposition to any proposed guest worker program.

4 November 2004

The Great Divide

A county by county presidential voter U.S. map breakdown. Rural versus urban appears to be a greater schism than red state/blue state model.
An interesting tidbit: the number of counties that the Democrats or Republicans won by less than 5 percent appears to have decreased from 404 (229 Bush, 175 Gore) in 2000 to 292 (162 Bush, 131 Kerry) in 2004. It isn't clear to me if all counties are included in the 2004 count of close counties, but it appears enough are to raise some questions about increasing polarization. I hope to identify those counties that moved from (or even to) those groups once I get my hands on complete official returns.

Another overlooked, but interesting tidbit about state tax burdens :

I have also found it interesting to compare data on per capita dollar returns from federal taxes (available from the Tax Foundation at with the state-by-state red/blue map. Surprisingly, blue states (considered "liberal") tend to contribute more in federal taxes than they receive in federal largess, whereas the red states (considered to be "conservative" and against big government) tend to receive more from the federal government than they contribute. In other words, via their federal taxes, the folks in blue states like Connecticut and Massachusetts are effectively subsidizing the folks in red states like Alaska and Montana.

3 November 2004

The numbers were nonsensical so we knew there were problems

Values of negative 25 million showing on voting machines, software glitches, and black screens. Among the growing accounts of questionable vote results generated by electronic voting, this story coming from Youngstown, Ohio.
Also, there were 20 to 30 machines that needed to be recalibrated during the voting process because some votes for a candidate were being counted for that candidate's opponent, Munroe said.

There are a variety of reasons for that problem, including static electricity, Munroe said. Munroe said he strongly believes that the calibration issue didn't mark people's votes improperly because when a vote is cast for a candidate, their name is lit up in bright blue and the name comes up as a review of a vote before it is finalized.

About a dozen machines needed to be reset because they essentially froze.

How does Mr. Munroe know for sure? How does anyone know for sure that the vote tallies are accurate, when there is no audit trail for most of these electronic voting machines. Even an ATM prints out a paper receipt and the deposits and withdrawls must balance out to the bank's money.

All night, I heard the election news coverage repeatedly stress how smooth the voting went, and how few problems there were, and how this vindicated the electronic voting machine makers. Again, how would anyone know if anything was astray? What checks and balances are employed to ensure accuracy and integrity? And why is proprietary technology used, hiding the process from the public?

And who can forget the bold statement of Walden O'Dell, CEO of Diebold, a voting machine company, who last year informed fellow Republicans in a fund raising letter that he would do all to help the Bush cause:

I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year.

And this presidential election all boiled down to Ohio, which was the deciding factor. is launching a massive freedom of information action act to obtain internal computer logs and other documents from 3,000 individual counties and townships.

I am no luddite by any stretch of the imagination, but black box voting without a full, comprehensive audit trail is just an open invitation for vote fraud. And, even more tragically, there's no way to detect its presence, without suitable validation of the integrity of the process.

A Broad, Nationwide Victory?

While I don't think it's time to head for Canada or explore expatriating, I'm deeply saddened over the election results. I weep for my country.

However, life goes on, and while 51% of you who voted may be gloating jubilantly, the rest of us pray that the damage to be inflicted to our country won't be as impactful as feared. It appears that we're more deeply divided than we were in the 2000 election – urban versus rural, coastal versus heartland, college degree versus high school diploma, etc.… Looking over exit poll results and county breakdowns, it's clear that Bush strongholds strengthened, and Kerry bastions in urban areas tilted further to the Democratic ledger. More people voted than ever, and the new Kerry voters were offset by even greater numbers of new Bush voters.

Some post mortem thoughts on Election 2004:

  • Northeast liberal Democrats cannot win an election anymore in the U.S. electoral landscape - Southern contenders are 3-1-1 (counting Gore as a tie since SCOTUS decided) while Northeast candidates (including Humphrey and Mondale) are 0-5 since 1962. When LBJ signed voting rights act in the 60s he stated that he had just signed away the southern vote for a generation; well, it's two generations now and counting.

  • Referendums against gay marriage - brought out the evangelical vote in force. (In Arizona, the propositon 200 anti-immigrant measure, which passed overwhelmingly despite bipartisan campaigning against, may have been a factor in guaranteeing AZ did not turn blue). But moral values was the biggest factor for folks going to the polls.

  • War – Most, are still in favor of an unjust, illegal invasion of a sovereign nation that threatened the U.S. not, and actually has served the strategic objectives of the enemy. Ditto for the botched campaign against Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Folks are content with the spoon fed public relations script by neocon spinners that changes like a chameleon.

  • Rural vote - Democrats really have lost touch with rural voters and the issues that concern them, or at least their core perceptions of what the Democratic platform is, and that it includes them, and hasn't sold them out in interest of minority and urban voters. Kerry going duck hunting just didn't fill the bill.

  • The schism between "reality based" voters and being misnformed, I believe. There's no way that if you study the issues, unless you're a diehard partisan oblivous to fact, that 51% of folks can logically vote for someone who's blundered so much and done great harm to working folks. Maybe this is a media issue (meaning that many don't care to use internet and get most of their info from Rush Limbaugh and/or FoxNews). The local library is a wonderous resource that most never ever set foot into, and instead, fill their mind with sound bites and snippets of campaign propaganda or prattling pundits. Factual studies and surveys have illustrated this succinctly.

  • Celebrity, entertainer backlash - I think celebrities, musicians and actors speaking out is a great hinderance to the progressive cause. They really should take a page out of the Republican playbook and funnel that money into think tanks and other ideological campaigns - Republicans have spent billions of dollars on influential think tanks like AEI, Heritage, Hudson Institute, CATO and it's been effective wedge in moving public opinion and influencing legislative actions, and more importantly framing the debate. Democrats have no equivalent organization - the organizations in support are single issue deals or focused on a small set of policy and are pragmatic based. Again, I think people really don't like Hollywood types telling them what they should believe and do - I don't and I'm in agreement with everything Springsteen said on his stump tour. As it is, it serves to give the Republicans a wedge to affix an elitist, out-of-touch tag on their opponents.

  • Fear factor - I think Republicans played "they're coming to get you" card quite well, or at least to the detriment of Kerry. And the scurrilous, uncredible charges by the partisan Swift Boat Veterans probably resonated with a core of voters.

  • 51% - It doesn't matter that we're split down the middle, net effect is a Republican mandate as Bush in his victory speech, referred to it as a broad, nationwide victory. Congress, Senate, POTUS, and SCOTUS will be all lock in step now. And there will be an extremist, partisan agenda enacted that has grave repercussions for our nation. Disparity between rich and poor will grow, poverty will increase, and I believe we're in store for turbulent times ahead. I really pray I am wrong, but at least they're won't be any "blame the Democrat" excuses while they run the country into the ground. Here's a peek of what may be in store.

My, how we've lapsed in our expectations of government – here is what a another president thought about matters of freedom and justice.

In the future days which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

The first is freedom of speech and expression --everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way-- everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want, which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants --everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear, which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor --anywhere in the wold.

That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called "new order" of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.

To that new order we oppose the greater conception --the moral order. A good society is able to face schemes of world domination and foreign revolutions alike without fear. Since the beginning of our American history we have been engaged in change, in a perpetual, peaceful revolution, a revolution which goes on steadily, quietly, adjusting itself to changing conditions without the concentration camp or the quicklime in the ditch. The world order which we seek is the cooperation of free countries, working together in a friendly, civilized society.

This nation has placed its destiny in the hands, heads and hearts of its millions of free men and women, and its faith in freedom under the guidance of God. Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere. Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights and keep them. Our strength is our unity of purpose.

To that high concept there can be no end save victory.

I hope the discourse can stay peaceful and non-violent. Free speech and the first amendment are going to important as ever in the coming days.

2 November 2004

Latest Presidential Election Returns by State

Follow along at home on your personal computing machine. Mouseover each state and see the tallies that include Congress and Senate races.

Follow Arizona election results here.

1 November 2004

Meet the Votemaster

Webmaster for the popular electoral college vote poll reporting website unmasks his anonymity. And it's an noted Computer Science professor, who's famous for another reason.
I wrote MINIX, the precursor to Linux, for example. I also have experience designing Websites, for example, that of the Computer Science Dept. at my university.

Andrew Tanenbaum, who inspired Linus Torvalds, creator of Linux operating system.

Everyday, the site is updated and the most recent state-by-state polling numbers are tallied to show a presidential electoral college scoreboard. Here is what the map looked like on November 1, 2004.

What happens to them afterward?

Compassionate Conservatism for our fighting men.
ABC News offered an appalling glimpse in a report two weeks ago. A critically injured soldier spoke of being sent a collection notice from the Pentagon while he was recuperating at a military hospital. The Pentagon was demanding the return of a $2,700 bonus because the soldier — who now lives in his car — could not fulfill his three-year tour of duty. A National Guardsman with a leg injury said he'll have to sell his home to pay his bills. A double amputee complained of getting the runaround from the Pentagon while financial ruin closes in like the shadows of twilight.

And here is another sad story of a soldier taking a hit for Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld incompetence.

First the Army gave Chief Warrant Officer Darrell E. Birt a medal. Then they handed the former Hempfield Township man six months behind bars. Birt said the Bronze Star and prison sentence he received while serving in Iraq were his reward -- and punishment -- for plugging holes in a faulty supply network that even the military has painted as flawed. ‘The supply system was broke,’ Birt said. ‘From the time we left Kuwait until the time we got into Iraq, it took two months to get the computer codes loaded for supply. So for two months, we couldn't get new supplies.’ Short of vehicles and spare parts critical to his unit's ability to haul fuel to infantrymen and helicopter pilots, Birt said he and other high-ranking soldiers agreed to procure the needed equipment improperly.

But I bet the executives at Halliburton, Kellog Brown & Root and other private military contractors are going to get fat bonuses this year…