Friday, February 06, 2004

Hastert and our money 

Kos sees it as a threat to the farmers; vote our way our you’ll never see a cent. I see it as cash for votes; vote our way and we’ll give you presents. Either way Hastert is using our money to try to influence the vote in an election. Of course, while spending taxpayer money on projects to gain votes is really the very definition of “pork barrel,” Hastert is so blatant in his quid pro quo that he is pressing the barrier between the merely unethical and the flagrantly illegal to the breaking point.
U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert pledged for the first time yesterday that he would push a tobacco buyout plan to the House floor -- but only if Republican Alice Forgy Kerr is elected to Congress.

Tobacco growers attending the $50-a-head Kerr-sponsored event in Lexington applauded Hastert's remarks. A Kentucky Farm Bureau representative was more reserved, saying the group was encouraged but would fight for a buyout regardless of who wins the Feb. 17 special election for Gov. Ernie Fletcher's vacant 6th District seat.
Jason Sauer, spokesman for Chandler's campaign, said he could not comment on Hastert's specific words.

"But if it's a political condition being put on something as important to farmers across Kentucky and the country, then that's unfortunate," he said. "That's playing politics with the farmers of America. And that seems beneath the office of the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives."

Democrats at all levels need to seize on this kind of behavior and publicize it. In 1998, in the middle of the impeachment farce, and in a midterm election, we did the best we have in a decade by making a symbol of Newt Gingrich and running against him. This year we need to publicize the dirty politics, bad sportsmanship, and outright corruption of DeLay, Cheney, and Hastert and run against the symbol.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

The Massachusetts Ruling 

I've already devoted posts and pixels to the discussion on gay marriage, and I probably will again. But let me ask this: How does the issue of whether or not two people can live together in a legally binding relationship actually threaten the rights of others and the welfare of the state? Answer me that.

From Bark Bark Woof Woof.

The Washington Caucuses: When Dean Turns it Around 

Okay, it's all over. Kerry's going to win the Democrat nomination, so let's forget Edwards, Clark, Dean, Kucinich and Sharpton (no, seriously, let's really forget Sharpton), and unite behind Kerry. His momentum is unstoppable. Well, anyway, his momentum is unstoppable if no one tries to stop it. And Kerry's the most electable candidate anyway, isn't he? Isn't he the Democrats' best hope of defeating Bush?

No. I believe that Kerry can beat Bush. Considering the Bush record, I believe that Dennis Kucinich could beat Bush. So instead of choosing the frontrunner in order to satisfy a self-fulfilling desire to back a winner, why not support the best candidate?

The rap on Dean is that he's too liberal and too angry. But Dean was a very centrist governor of Vermont, while Kerry has a Senate voting record as liberal as Ted Kennedy's. Sure, Dean has strong opinions and states his case emphatically, which is why the right has successfully cast him as 'angry' or 'not presidential'. But the most electable candidate is the one who will attack Bush's record from every angle and not back down. That's exactly what Howard Dean will do.

So I want to urge folks to help Howard Dean. It's true that his campaign is in trouble, but he can still turn things around this weekend in the Washington state caucus. Washington provides a number of delegates second only to California on the west coast, and Dean is still competitive there. A Dean win in Washington will give him momentum going into the Wisconsin primary on the 17th, which will in turn allow him to make a strong showing --- maybe even reclaim frontrunner status --- in the March 2 Super Tuesday round.

Dean can win Washington. Even U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, who's running Kerry's Washington campaign, acknowledges it's Dean's race to lose:

"Kerry 'is the only candidate in the race who's running a national campaign,' Smith said. Though he conceded that Dean still has to be the favorite in Washington 'given everything that he's put together,' Smith said that some Dean supporters have come over to the Kerry camp."

So please consider contributing to a resurgent Howard Dean campaign. Yeah, if you contribute and he loses, you'll be sorry if he doesn't get the nomination. But you'll be more sorry if he comes close to making it, and doesn't, because he ran out of money.

And if you live in Washington state, hightail it out to the caucuses on Saturday and stand up for Dean!

Yet more News From and About Steve 

Okay, just called him; here's the haps:

1) First let me note that CommentThis on Stevegilliard.blogspot.com is acting gimpy; will check/respond to comments as soon as I can get back into the darn things. If anyone has any adminihints or tricks that I may be able to fix on my end, please email me at jen at runne dot com and let me know....

2) Gilly says that he WILL be taking at least a week of rehab and nutritional training--everyone, keep cheering for him! ETA for homecoming is around 2-21.

3) To his friends: You need to call HIM at the hospital as he cannot call OUT.

4) For everyone who sent him stuff at the hospital early on before the "no sending stuff to the hospital" note came out--his folks got the flowers, cards, boxes, etc. OK, and it's all waiting for him back at his folk's place. Again, his gratitude is deep and genuine.

5) Okay, here's the specific request from Steve. He knows that many, many people have offered to help him out with copays, etc...and...well, he wants to at least alleviate the financial hardships for out-of-pockets that his FOLKS have paid. Over the month, his parents have paid quite a bit for things NOT covered by insurance, such as his phone and TV fees. So, Gilly is requesting that people who are so inclined please send him checks to his home addy--you can get that from me at jen at runne dot com if you don't already have it. So far, the tab it up to $300 and rising. Both of his folks are retired, in their 70's, and on limited incomes. He wants to surprise them with a check for the full amount when he's out. So, please, if you can and want to help, any amount would be very very appreciated.

More as it rolls in! Thanks again...

---Jen Runne

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Who Said That? 

Salon.com's Christopher Farah has an article that strikes close to home for a lot of bloggers: the "anonyblogger."
You don't have to look long to find the names of a slew of public (and often media) figures held up for some serious derision on the blogs Atrios, Media Whores Online or The Minor Fall, The Major Lift.


It takes a certain courage to shoot half-cocked into the media landscape like that. Or does it? These and other bloggers have made names for themselves by having no names at all -- and by using the safety and security of their secret identities to spread gossip, make accusations and levy the most vicious of insults with impunity.

Anonybloggers have given various reasons for the decision to withhold their identity. MWO's proprietor told Salon in a detailed e-mail that MWO writers and producers were concerned that if their identity were known, it could "detrimentally affect their employment," given the site's controversial content. "There is a long tradition of anonymous speech in America," writes MWO, adding, "the right is consistently protected and defended by our courts." MWO went on to claim that mainstream publications would be better off if all their articles were published anonymously. "Editors and publishers would be far more concerned with accuracy and credibility if they understood their entire news organization would be accountable."

But what about the hypocrisy in attacking others while protecting oneself from any sort of retaliation? MWO says its critics "are able to respond directly to our content, and they do. Should any contributor run afoul of any free speech regulations, there would be legal accountability." Atrios, meanwhile, refused to comment at all for this story, saying, "I just don't think it's an interesting topic."


Not surprisingly, journalism experts suggest anonybloggers are operating outside of any reasonable ethical line. "One of the things that's going to have to become a standard for the Internet is, if you want to be taken seriously, you have to be identified," says Alex Jones, director of Harvard's Shorenstein Center. "Anonymity is almost always, for the mainstream anyway, something that says, 'Be very, very careful.'"
Maybe it's just me, but do I detect a tinge of jealousy in Mr. Jones's warning?

Many of my fellow Liberal Coalition colleagues use pseudonyms, and we have our reasons, either serious or whimsical. It wouldn't take Sherlock Holmes to figure out my real name (the members of TLC know it) and I don't keep my blogging a secret from my friends and family. There's a difference between the anonybloggers like Atrios and MWO and those of us who write under a pseudonym. They have their reasons for keeping their identities under wraps. I respect them, and it really doesn't bother me that I don't know what name is on their driver's license; it's their business, and I let their writing speak for itself. (Besides, how do we really know - or care - if "Christopher Farah" is the real name of the author of the Salon.com article?) As for going off "half-cocked" with wild stories and rumors, I take as much care with my sourcing and citations as I would if I were writing a research paper (old grad school habits die hard) regardless of what name appears on the post. After all, we read half-cocked and rumor-filled stories by people who use their real names - Jonah Goldberg, Pat Buchanan, etc. - and it doesn't make them any more or less believable.

[Update: Check out Nick Confessore's take on this issue at TAPPED.]

Reprinted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Gilly sends a Dispatch Live! 

Okay, gonna type in pre-dictated statements after this, but I have him on the phone NOW:

Thank you so much my family, Jen and I really appreciate your efforts and support...I plan on replying to each and every one of you at some point, it may take some time, because I'm lazy [ed note--bullshit he's still in Isolation] but your acts of kindness and support can't go unnoticed.


MAKE SURE TO VOTE wherever you are if you can, keep reading the other sites and keep participating, and keep the comments and other sites going, and keep the exchange of ideas going. I am going to get better, the prognosis is good, and I'll keep on writing things people don't like. So, let's keep exchanging ideas. As my father says, it's time for Bush to go back to the Pig Farm (my Dad is a lifelong Republican).

So says Steve, live from the cardio ward!!

---and some comments from over the phone, earlier....----

First of all, he got moved, and he has a TV now! Believe it or not, they actually wheeled a TV in front of his glass for the Superbowl!

So now he's in semi-isolation--still can't have extra stuff in his room, but he's at least hooked up to less shit....and he's learning to walk again. He should be home in about 12 days or so. He still needs an external pacemaker for a few days, and has a few tubes left in him, but ht'e improving VERY rapidly.

And, he's on solid hospital food, "if you can call hosptial food that." "All I want when I get home is a SANDWICH" says Gilly...."With mayo." [Gilly goes on to regale me with tales of today's fish lunch, which was "too dry to eat."]

"These guys are good" says Gilly of is surgeons...

And note, I was mistaken--Gilly has had insurance for a few YEARS, not a few months...AND all of his copayments are taken care of with Family Health Plus. So, that's nailed down. He's "lucky enough to have it all covered, medicine and all." His copays WOULD have been $5K on what is turning out to be around a $200K tab.

He goes on...he doesn't need help with his copays, but one day, he wants to do a charity event for his pal who has a Down's Syndrome kid--"and for everyone who was generous now, please be just as generous then." He said this with empathy and enthusiasm. He's rather raise money for his pal than for any political candidate.


"Kerry looks like a president--America wants someone who looks and acts like a president, and Kerry fits the bill...Kerry and Edwards look like John and Bobby Kennedy...."

"Kerry looks like a better person than Bush.." [went on to mention his Vietnam record, etc.]

Oh, and he was AWARE the whole time he was in isolation, and yes, bored to shit...

"Hospital time is like jail time--every second of it. People assume you're in a coma or senile or drugged, and it just ain't so." He was even bored on morphine, which he was on for a few days...

At this point he's learning how to walk and sit up again. He'll be walking by the time he's out, and getting Visting Nurse Service for 6 weeks. That includes IV drug treatment and other fun--but in the comfort of your own home.

His family came down to prep his room.

So, he's on his way...

And very, very grateful for everything and to everyone....

Keep the good wishes coming. He'll be back soon.

Monday, February 02, 2004

Beggars To Their Own Demise 

SoonerThought attempts to explain--with info from Paul Krugman--just how damaging the Bush tax cuts are--even to the Dittoheads. We doubt they will listen.


"If all the Bush tax cuts--those actually passed in 2001, and those the administration is now pushing--were fully in effect, they would reduce annual taxes collected per family by about $2,500. But averages can be deeply misleading. When Bill Gates enters a bar, the average net worth of the patrons soars, but that doesn't make everyone in the bar a billionaire. So it with the tax cuts., which bestow most of their benefits on the very, very affluent. Most families will see their taxes fall be less than $800--in many cases much less. Meanwhile, a handful of people will benefit hugely: The top 1 percent of families, with incomes averaging less more than $1 million, will get tax breaks to the tune of $80,000 each."

Need some input 

Over at my blog, I'm looking for book recommendations. There's a list of ones I'm thinking about, though any recommendation would be appreciated. Thanks.

Status Report on Steve Gilliard 

Okay, it's update time...sorry I didn't get this out sooner; dealing with apartment sitch (no heat or hot water) all weekend...

I saw Gilly at the hosptial on Saturday evening...and it was a surreal experience.

Before I launch into the details, here's good news...he should be out of there in two weeks!

Until then, though, visiting is limited--he really IS in a sterile glass box full of equipment, and he still really can't move.

I had to go in in special duds--I had to disinfect my hands and then get into: a gown, hair cover, rubber gloves, and full face mask. I got ten minutes total. At this point in the game, even a common cold could kill him, and I NEVER would dream of visiting him if I wasn't 100% healthy.

Gilly is in this little glass room , with full-time staff on the other side of the partition. No TV, no extra light, no table---just all of these machines that he's hooked up to, and disposable sterile contact point covers on everything. When I was led into the antechamber to drop off my coat and bag before getting into the sterile gear, I looked to my left--and behind a partition was Gilly.

He was semi-propped up in a huge almost throne-or-podium-like bed. He was covered to just under his breastbone. Tubes and wires bristled out of everywhere--three out of his mouth alone.

However, when I was finally let into the clean room, his eyes showed response. He can't talk, and even squeezing my hand was an effort. His scar was in plain sight--a Y-shaped incision the size of a smaller frisbee on one side. The very first thing I told him was that it was great to see him alive. I then told him about all the support and good thoughts that the blog was sending him--his eyes lit up. He obviously coulnd't believe just how many folks from so many different places were pulling for him.

For amusement value, I also told him about the BBC crisis and Kerry's pull ahead. I did NOT tell him about that horrible stupid troll rumor--let him find that BS out when he gets home. I also told him that good wishes weren't all we were sending him; he'll have plenty to read at home. This also got an eye-change response.

He's obviously still sedated, and when he went to rotate his wrist to give a thumbs-up, he could barely get his arm off of the bed. But he'll make it. I also told him that we all collectivley demand that he take advantage of any rebab, physical therapy, and nutritional help that the hospital can give him--we don't want to see him back in the cardio recovery ward--and that got a faint nod and another thumbs up.

On top of the sheer horror of just seeing anyone linked up like a Beta Borg to all of that stuff...I can only imgine the BOREDOM. His only view, 24/7, is through the glass partition in front of his (curtainable off for particularly painful/humiliating procuedures it seems) is the goings and comings of the nurse in the front half of the ward-room and the unfortunate fellow in less critical condition, also in a bed alongside the nurse's station. Everything in his little cube is sterile and necessary--nothing spare is allowed, nothing that may trip or upset some of his wires and tubes. I mean, he had stuff hooked up to ever visible locus--through the veins on the backs of the hands, neck, chest, mouth, and who knows what the hell else he had doing out of sight under the glare white sheets....I wouldn't wish any of that on my worst enemy, nevermind one of my best friends, and I genuinley hope that his two-week prediction is correct (I asked him when he was getting out, and he squeezed my hand twice, and I asked if that was two weeks, and he eyeball-nodded yes).

After that I talked to his Mom on the phone for a bit. She's also grateful for everyone's support and understanding.

So, his condition is officially "critical stable" which is apparently S.O.P. after heart surgery.

I shall keep everyone posted as I find out more. Keep up the good-karma blasts, prayers, and wishes--it seems to be working!

---Jen Runne

Sunday, February 01, 2004

McGovern on Clark 

War hero and former Democratic nominee for President Sen. George McGovern gives his views on Wesley Clark at SoonerThought.

The Resumption of Chess! 

Just to inform all you rabid fans of the Blogger's Chess Match between NTodd and myself; he has emailed me his move and I've uploaded the image file of the move to OSP. The post itself should be up within, oh say, about two weeks from now.

Oh, alright, I'll behave. I'm sure NTodd will do his level best to get the post up as soon as possible. However, I do plan on having my Birthday Party ready, just in case................