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Saturday, January 31, 2004

Black Box Voting: An Update 

It's official. Though no one with an understanding of the issues could have ever doubted it, a highly-respected, mainstream conservative publication, The Economist, confirms that the current state of electronic voting systems in the U.S. is a complete mess. And supposedly alarmist concerns about 'black-box' electronic voting are no longer just hypothetical; the uncertainty inherent in the system has already yielded at least one election --- in Florida, of all places --- where there is no way to be sure that the declared winner actually got the most votes.

Much more at edwardpig.

Friday, January 30, 2004

It's A Guy Thing 

Paul Krugman asks a very good question today in his NY Times column: "Where's the Apology?" He's asking why the Bush administration, after a series of mistakes and hyped intelligence reports that launched an invasion, after leaks from the White House that compromised the identity and perhaps the safety of a CIA employee, and after giving no-bid contracts to companies run by friends, there's not a word of acknowledgement or admission that maybe, just maybe, it's wrong.

Well, Mr. Krugman, don't hold your breath. The Bush administration will never admit to doing anything wrong and they will fight you tooth and nail to prove you are wrong for suggesting they are wrong. Not only would it be devastating in an election year, it would be counter to everything that makes up the character of George W. Bush. It wouldn't be manly, and woe betide anyone who suggests that George W. Bush and his administration is anything less than that.

Read the rest at Bark Bark Woof Woof.

Bat The Penquin! 

Ok you all, there are a few of us done got ourselves a little competition going on how far a person can bat the penquin. I highly recommend this incredibly simple yet totally addictive game.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

SO MUCH FOR HELPING THE POOR AND DOWNTRODDEN REALIZE THE DREAM OF DEMOCRACY 

"Since there's apparently no WMDs, we ostensibly went into Iraq to free the poor Iraqis from the iron grip of an evil dictator and allow them to chart their own course and create a government by the people and for the people, just like America, right?

Uh-uh. You see, our friends in Turkey don't like the Kurds. As a matter of fact, our genocidal friends in Turkey (talk to any Armenian) would probably like to make the Kurds just go away..."

Read the rest at MX23

Reporter Asks Followup Question! 

That shouldn't be big news, but as we all know, in today's media environment it's huge news. That the question was asked of Condoleeza Rice about BushCo's misleading WMD statements in the run up to the invasion of Iraq is of even greater import.

Unbelievably (in fact I almost choked on my breakfast), the SCLMW doing the interview was none other than Diane Sawyer. She acted almost like a true reporter when she didn't just accept the non-answer that Condi gave her and re-asked the same question in a tone of voice that left no doubt that it had not been answered the first time.

Did Condi answer the question? Did Diane bitch-slap Condi on national TV? Read all about it in my post on The Fulcrum titled: Shorter Condi: "Screw the American People."

Important Update About Steve, Visits, Sending Stuff, etc... 

Hey, all--finally got thru to Gilly's Mom--here's the haps--please read.

1) do NOT ATTEMPT to visit him at the hospital! A few guys from the bar did and were turned away. He's heavilly drugged, hooked up to a halftime show's-worth of instruments, and only immediate family can visit him--when wearing a full gown, face mask, and gloves. She couldn't emphasize this enough--I promise to let everyone know when he can take visitors, phone calls, and the like...


2) Don't send stuff to him via the hospital! They keep moving him and stuff is at risk for getting lost. Some dear people already sent flowers and cards, which alas, can't go in his current isolation-type room--it's a "constant clean" environment, and as noted, they keep moving him as his equipment needs change. Rather, send stuff to his home addy--his Mom said that in a lucid moment, Gilly said that that way he'd have what to do (and read) once he gets home...


3) In the end, he didn't need a valve replaced--they were able to repair the valve, and this is already having a positive effect on his kidneys.

4) Both he (in his two seconds of lucidity since the zipper went in) and his Mom are overwhelmed and very grateful by the outpouring of concern and generosity from everyone...

For his home addy, please email me at jen at runne dot com


His Mom can bring him stuff as he's ready for it...

You know where to find me, guys! I'll keep ya posted. Thank you so much again for your kind words of support for Gilly, his family, and to me...



Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Head for the Mountains, Bush.. Please. 

You can find this post (with the link to the Center for American Progress article) at the Gotham City 13.

Bush at a news conference in Poland:

"And then we went to the United Nations, of course, and got an overwhelming resolution -- 1441 -- unanimous resolution, that said to Saddam, you must disclose and destroy your weapons programs, which obviously meant the world felt he had such programs. He chose defiance. It was his choice to make, and he did not let us in."

Okay, so we ordered Saddam to disclose and destroy his weapons program. Maybe, then, when Saddam chose "defiance", what he was really saying was that he didn't have anything to find.

Here's my take:

Saddam ruled by fear. His people feared that he would and could kill them.

GWB wanted to avenge his father's loss for personal gain so he began the run-up to war.

Along the way, GWB decided that Iraq's WMD threat was the best justification for war.

Grudgingly, he went to the UN to ask for inspections.

They agreed. The act of UN agreeing doesn't imply that the UN believed he had WMD. Maybe they agreed to let inspections resume so inspectors could find nothing, therefore smearing egg in the face of Bush.

So Resolution 1441 was passed. It ordered Saddam to allow inspections to continue.

According to Hans Blix, there was nothing. Long before him, Scott Ritter found nothing.

Saddam said nothing. He's not about to tell all the people that are so afraid of him that he doesn't have these horrific weapons to hold them down, is he? He's not that stupid! He used these non-existent weapons to scare his people into submission. All the while, he knew he didn't have them. That meant more money in his pocket and more mansions for him to reside in.

In short, he wanted people to think he had the weapons when, in fact, he didn't.

Maybe Saddam's "defiance" (as Bush put it) wasn't defiance at all, but a mere last gasp to scare his own people from coming to get him combined with nationalism.

Had Bush let inspections continue and if he had taken an objective look at the results of findings on Iraq's WMD program, then we would never be in the mess we are in today.

There were effective more ways to remove Saddam than to invade Iraq and get people killed under the false premise of WMD.

Bush, as always, became blinded by money and power...

...and here we are today....

512 dead and counting.

In this same vein, the Center for American Progress has "A chronology of how the Bush Administration repeatedly and deliberately refused to listen to intelligence agencies that said its case for war was weak" called: Neglecting Intelligence, Ignoring Warnings. You absolutely must read it.




Update on Gilly--and info on WishList (got lots of questions on that) 

Okay...still trying to get thru to Gilly's Mom (pronounced with a hard G for all who asked :) ) but she left a note on my machine late last night. Apparently she may get to talk to him today---he was pretty well out after the surgery. Still don't know if they gave him a pig valve or a plastic one; we'll find out....

ALSO--looks like our wily Gilliard has two different wishlists--one is actually more recent; I gave the URL for one that I've had in my Amazon info for ages.

So, it looks like he uses the following email for his Amazon stuff...

sgilliard at yahoo dot com

And this is the URL for a fresher Wishlist--but feel free to deplete the old one also!

http://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/registry.html/104-4682512-4335133?%5Fencoding=UTF8&id=31LCKUXCVS1S5

And here's my attempt to put it up as a link.

Keep the good thoughts coming...gonna go check his inbox now...again, while I'm sure he's love a gift cert, please try to work the wishlist instead--while I'm doing all I can to keep up with his Yahoo account, it's 95% full of business stuff that doesn't look safe for me to delete!

More updates as they come....

:D



Kerry Wins NH / What the Republican Primary Says to President Rove 

Very good news for John Kerry and Howard Dean in NH. Bad news for Clark, Lieberman, and Edwards, but Edwards can call it a safe loss. The race is back where I expected it to be, with Dean facing off with an untested Kerry instead of Clark. Dean is facing upwards momentum, Kerry is coasting on the glory phase of frontrunnership which will have its brakes slammed as soon as he gets the test by fire that Dean got.

Just for your own information, here's the real results, compared to the ARG poll and the Zogby polls from yesterday:

Kerry 38.5% (ARG: 35%) (Zogby: 37%)
Dean 26.2% (A: 25%) (Z: 24%)
Clark 12.4% (A: 13%) (Z: 9%)
Edwards 12.1 % (A: 15%) (Z: 12%)
Lieberman 8.6% (A: 6%) (Z: 9%)
Kucinich 1.4% (A: 1%) (Z: 3%)

Also interesting, in NH, if you want to change party affiliation, you have to write in a Republican name on the Democratic Party Ballot, or the other way around. There were 103 Write In's for GW on the Democratic Ballot, and about 4300 total write ins for Democrats on the Republican ballot (nearly 1400 for Kerry alone). Bush won New Hampshire by only 7200 votes in 2000. Maybe this is meaningless, but it could be a signal of a greater siphoning of Republican votes than Democratic votes. GW only got 85% of Republican votes cast in an unopposed primary.

-and then...?

STRADIOTTO 

All the best, my friend. I hope whatever you have to do works for you and that you come out of the darkness you're in sooner than later. There are things more important than liberal and conservative. Be well soon.

Leak Against This War 

I've been meaning to write this post for a long time, but never got around to it (those of you with children, you know). It's just as well. Daniel Ellsberg was the best person to make this argument anyway, and now he's finally done it.

The media have allowed the Bush administration to play cat-and-mouse with the public for too long. The media have obediently followed every Bush misdirection ploy to distract voters from the truth about the war (Hey, everybody, we're going to Mars! In 25 years or so.). On those rare occasions when the Democrats point out Bush's malfeasance, the media focus intently on Dean's rage or Clark's sweaters or Kerry's wife.

The media, in short, have demonstrated that they are utterly incompetent at their job.

So it's up to the insiders to come forward and tell their stories, and force the media to report them, make them front page news for days, weeks and months, so that everyone will know that a vote for Bush in November is a vote for criminal political opportunism, a vote for war profiteering, a vote of approval for lies and manipulation.

More at edwardpig.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Gilly OK, New Room Info 

Just got off the phone with Lenox Hill. Gilly made it!

No more details--have yet to talk to his Mom

Note new room number if you want to send a card: 1110.

He has no phone yet, and frankly, probably shouldn't be called whilst he settles in....

He DOES hava an Amazon.com wishlist, if anyone wants to get him more reding material :D

Here's the link:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/registry.html/104-8592749-9523942?%5Fencoding=UTF8&id=2UL34G9DZCYZR

And here's the same link, done neatly.

More details as they come in!

---Jen

A Dynasty...Just Like The Medicis, but Tactless 

Kevin Phillips used to really piss me off. Back in the 1990's he'd get on NPR or some talking-heads show to excoriate Bill Clinton and the Democrats like all the other pompous and smug right-wingers - Bill Bennett, George F. Will, William Kristol, et al - and he did it with a professorial and studied manner of condescension that made me want to just slap him.

But in the last few years Phillips has had a come-to-Jesus conversion and has turned his wrath on Bush, and not just George W. In his new book American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush, he takes it all the way back to before the start of the 20th century to include the partnership between George H. Walker and Samuel Bush and up through the business career of Senator Prescott Bush, father of George H.W. Bush, all the way to the present day. Joan Walsh in Salon.com takes a look at it.

Read more at Bark Bark Woof Woof.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Posting for Steve Gilliard 

Folks--I'm Jen Runne, a pal of Steve Gilliard's. Gilly is in the hospital, the result of a prior hospital visit for a virus. He will be in for some time--he may need surgery for a heart valve condition. Please check his other blog for more info--stevegilliard.blogspot.com

Thank you,

---Jen

UPDATE:

1) Please don't send him email; he doesn't have access and his box will just get full.

2) Well-wishers can send him a card thusly:

Steve Gilliard
c/o Lenox Hill Hospital
100 E. 77th Street
Room 1110 <----note new room post-op
New York, NY 10021

He's scheduled for surgery some time this coming week; he'll be in for a while after that. If they move him to another room and I find out about it, I'll let folks know.



Panda gone? 

I haven’t been able to reach Pandagon since Friday. Is anyone else having this problem? Does anyone know what the straight poop is on this? Are Jesse and Ezra under siege again, is it just me, or is something else going on? Did someone open the box and, upon finding no cat at all, cause the quantum wave function to collapse into a different shared reality with no Jesse and Ezra? And if so how will that effect the New Hampshire primary?

Just wondering.


Signs and Portents 


You can ask Trina Magi anything; she's ready to help you find the answer. Who, exactly, was on Richard Nixon's "enemies list"? How do you create a cranberry bog? Where do you find the marketing data you need to write a business plan? How can one find a photograph of Jesus Christ?

No question is foolish, she believes, though that last one -- which a student truly did ask -- still draws a smile. In fact, it's the very unpredictability of what's on people's minds that makes her daily stint on the reference desk at the University of Vermont's Bailey/Howe Library, in Burlington, so rewarding. "We want to nurture a love of inquiry in others," she says, "not squelch it or make people afraid to ask questions."

These days, it's not people fretting about what she might think of their questions that worries Magi; it's their unease about what the federal government might think. When the USA Patriot Act passed in October 2001, it contained language in Section 215 making it easier for federal agents to look into the business records of, among other places, libraries and bookstores. In particular, agents no longer need to show probable cause before getting a judge's approval to round up private records; the act also makes it illegal for the keeper of those records to tell any one else -- including the customer or patron involved -- about the investigation.

To Magi (whose last name is pronounced "Maggie") and other librarians, all of this strikes at the heart of free inquiry: the right to privacy. "It's one of the basics of librarianship, to respect privacy," says Gail Weymouth, chair of the Intellectual Freedom Committee of the Vermont Library Association, "to understand that what people read isn't necessarily what they believe, and to give them the ability to come in and find information without any chilling effect."

The fear of that chill -- the possibility that people will not explore questions because of how that might look to the authorities -- has turned Magi into an anti-Section 215 crusader.

~ Rob Gurwitt. "Defender of the Free Word: Librarian Trina Magi stands up to the Patriot Act." Mother Jones. January/February 2004.


Not only does provision 215 of the Patriot Act undermine this basic tenant of librarianship– the right to privacy, it instills a fear in people to read, at least on a subliminal level. The message is quite clear: “Uncle Sam doesn’t want you reading anything dangerous, so play it safe kids and just don’t read at all.”

Perhaps this is just a bit of unwarranted hyperbole on my part. I’m sure Attorney General John Ashcraft has our best interests at heart. After all, why would an Evangelical Christian who spends thousands of dollars to drape bare breasted statues, is deathly afraid of calico cats and anoints himself with oil in the manner of Old Testament Kings want to restrict our access to information?

Read the rest at The Invisible Library

The Price 

I picked up Turbo Tax yesterday morning on the way home from the supermarket, and by the early afternoon I had finished and electronically filed my return. I should get my refund in a couple of weeks. It won't be a lot - another payment on the Mustang, maybe, or a donation to the Inge Festival - but at least my taxes are over and done with for another year.

I am one of the few people I know who has no complaint about paying taxes. That probably has to do with the fact that my taxes are pretty simple (single, no kids, no mortgage, one job, a pitance of interest earned) and it's been about twenty years since I've had to pay addtional taxes. (The last time I wrote a check to the IRS was thanks to an idiot stockbroker in Boulder who forget to explain to me about how capital gains will come back later and bite you in the ass.) But I don't really mind that much. It's the price we pay for what we take for granted in America, and if you want to fly first class, it's going to cost you something.

Read the rest at Bark Bark Woof Woof.