This came to me, titled, "Karma's a bitch"KATV Channel 7 - Father and Son Drown in Eudora
"Eudora - A man and his son drowned Monday night after the son tried to drown their dog. It happened near the city of Eudora, just outside of city limits. Police say the son fell into a pit full of water inside an old cotton gin and the father went in after him.

Police say the son and his cousin were trying to drown their pit bull, because the dog was old and wouldn't fight anymore. Before drowning the dog, the son fell in and the cousin ran for help.

18-year-old Eugene Weston Junior and his cousin planned to drown their pit bull in an old abandoned cotton gin across the street from their home.

The gin hadn't been used in more than 30 years and inside the pit was a thick combination of water, oil, diesel fuel, hydraulic fluid, and dirt. As the son looked into the eight to ten foot pit, he slipped and fell in.

The cousin ran for help and called 9-1-1. That's when the father, 42-year-old Eugene Weston Senior, jumped into the pit after his son.

Police say the old gin has been pumped dry and is now covered up. They plan to fill it in with dirt to prevent this kind of accident in the future.

The pit bull is still alive and unharmed. "
What can I say?

pseudorandom: Does President Bush Count Like a Dog?

Does President Bush Count Like a Dog?



Jimmy Carter Calls Zell A Mistake

Carter: Miller appointment a mistake:
"Former President Jimmy Carter says the appointment of Georgia's Zell Miller to the Senate was a mistake because his fellow ex-governor 'betrayed all the basic principles that I thought he and I and others shared.'
[. . .]

"I would rather not even comment about Zell Miller on the radio," then proceeded to call the appointment "one of the worst mistakes" then-Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes made in his four years in office.

Barnes tapped Miller in 2000 to fill the vacancy left by the death of Republican Sen. Paul Coverdell. He then went on to win a special election to complete Coverdell's term, which ends in January 2005. Miller has announced he won't seek re-election, and Republicans are viewed as the favorites to capture the seat."
Don't let the door hit you on the way out, Zell! On second thought...

Better Support The Prez - Or You Don't Get No Turkey on Thanksgiving!

Thanks to TBOGG we learn that the troops who attended Bush's Thanksgiving visit were pre-screened and many were turned away from having a Thanksgiving turkey dinner at all!
"With the Pentagon just recovering from that, Stars and Stripes is blowing the whistle on President Bush's Thanksgiving visit to Baghdad, saying the cheering soldiers who met him were pre-screened and others showing up for a turkey dinner were turned away."
And the White House line is that this campaign photo-op visit was to improve the morale of the troops!

Campaign Finance

I'd like to make a point about the Campaign Finance law, which seems to be over the head of everyone in the media this week.

The ban on issue ads only involves corporate and union money. You can't run an issue ad paid for with corporate or union money in the 30-day period before an election.

A Moral Issue

In the car just a minute ago, I heard Rush Limbaugh talking about the issue of denying Iraq contracts to companies from countries that did not support the US position on invading. He said, "They have engaged in no behavior that deserves to be rewarded."

To you and me, the issue of contracts to rebuild Iraq would seem to involve diplomatic relations, preservation of our relationships with Europe and the rest of the world, international law, logic, fairness, competitive bidding, and especially "common sense" -- that further pissing off our allies does us no good, and in fact endangers us because these countries may not be there for us when we really DO need them because of some REAL threat we might someday face.

This is an excellent opportunity to encourage people to read George Lakoff's book Moral Politics! From this book you will gain understanding of how the right-wing mind works. Lakoff shows how, for the Right, this is a moral issue. All arguments of logic, fairness, or anything else, pale in comparison to the moral issue of rewarding what they regard as bad behavior! This is the Right's version of "common sense." It doesn't matter what the future consequences of breaking with decades of international relationships might bring. In fact, the concept of international law itself is objectionable to the Right because it leads to situations where we violate the Right's moral values.

In the meantime, while waiting for the book to arrive, you can read a summary of Lakoff's ideas here and here (part 2).

Update - Richard, in the comments, makes a VERY GOOD point! Rush is saying here that the contracts are being used as REWARDS for behavior. So what behavior is Halliburton being rewarded for?!! Very good question.

Calpundit Has A Good Idea

Calpundit, talking about software patents:
"I happen to think that patents on 'fundamental' software technologies are way too easy to get in any case, but the real problem here is that of letting a broad patent sit dormant for a long time while other people use it, either knowingly or not. After there's a critical mass, and the users can't easily switch to something else, the patent holder sues. Unisys pulled this same trick over the underlying technology for the GIF image format.
It strikes me that patent law should resemble trademark law in this respect: if you don't defend your patent, you lose it. Companies that adopt technology need to have a reasonable way of knowing whether the technology is patented and what the patent holder's licensing terms are, and they need to know this before they invest heavily in the technology. Anything else is fundamentally unfair."
Defend it or lose it. That's a start, anyway.

I remember when (I think it was) Magnavox claimed a patent on using the "XOR" (exclusive or) instruction to generate graphics in video games. They sued some small companies that would have to settle, and used the precedent to go after bigger companies. Finally they went after Activision, won the lawsuit, and received a huge award.

Software patents are bad enough, and restrict innovation, but the practice of keeping your patent a secret until a rival has built up a significant business, and then pouncing, should be outlawed.

ALSO - go read the comments following Calpundit's post!

Senator Boxer Introduces Paper Trail Voting Bill

Boxer wants new voting machines to give receipts:
"Sen. Barbara Boxer, reacting to a growing controversy over possible security flaws in electronic voting, said Thursday she would propose a law requiring all states with counties that use such computerized touch-screen systems to provide voters with a paper receipt -- and do it by next November's presidential election."
It's in the mainstream, people.

Sweatshops For Christmas

Inside Santa's workshop. (high bandwidth recommended.)


Weblog Awards

If you can think of any weblogs to nominate, do it here: Wampum: The 2003 Koufax Awards.

Sen. Graham Introduces Verified Voting Bill In Senate

Statement -- October 23, 2003:
"Senator Bob Graham, D-Florida, today introduced the Voter Verification Act, legislation that would require computer voting systems to produce a paper record.
“After the election of 2000 and the mid-term election – where stories of voter problems were not uncommon – we have to put an electoral system into place in which Americans can have full confidence,” said Graham. “This legislation will take us one step further to ensure that every vote really counts and we do not have another debacle like the 2000 election.”

Election Central

"Election Central is published by Warren Slocum, a non-partisan Registrar of Voters. This site chronicles the voting machine wars and explores the nexus of technology and voting and the battle for integirty of elections - legislation, verified voting, election reform, voting machine innovations, security and election policy making are of special interest."

What will W and the boys try to get away with over the Christmas holiday?

Occasional guest blogger Tom Spencer from the defunct (at least for the next few months) Thinking It Through blog over at History News Network here.

As we all know, this administration is always trying to get away with things. Today's story about Halliburton's profiteering is a perfect example of this. Do you really think they'd be announcing the results of any sort of investigation into Halliburton if it hadn't been for the NYT story earlier this week? They'd love to keep the gladhanding of their political cronies under the radar, right?

BTW, I'm shocked, shocked I say, to discover that there's profiteering going on in those no-bid contracts to the Vice President's old company. Aren't you?

As a historian of the Gilded Age, I'm used to seeing corruption like this in my research -- especially since a lot of my research is in Lincoln Steffens's favorite town, St. Louis. However, I must admit, these guys may have outdone what I thought were some of the most corrupt administrations in American history.

But I digress. The point of this post is that I'd like to ask bloggers and readers of STF an interesting question that we can all talk about for the next week or so. What do you think the Bush administration will try to slip under the radar over the upcoming holiday? We all know how adept they are at trying to sneak things under the radar, don't we? They really do make Clinton's folks look like amateurs at times, don't they?

My bet is that they'll release the 20% of Gitmo detainees they've known were innocent for several months now over the holiday. It is a helluva note that these guys are so ethically challenged that they're waiting for the right time to do it instead of, um, doing it immediately because it's the, um, ethical thing to do.

But, once again, I digress. What bombshell will the administration quietly announce "ho-hum" like around the holiday? Let's say between the dates of December 23 and December 26?

What do you think?


A guy gets into a car wreck in 1988, goes into a coma. He wakes up, and they start to tell him about things, and eventually he asks about President Reagan. They tell him that President Reagan has Alzheimer's disease.

He says, "OH MY GOD!! That means that George Bush is President!!!"

Who Is Our Economy For?

What does rising productivity mean to you? A commenter named Lawrence Krubner left this excellent comment at Brad DeLong's weblog:
When unions are strong labor gets more of productivity gains than capital. When unions are weak, capital gets more of productivity gains than labor. When markets are competitive consumers get the majority of productivity gains. When markets are monopolistic the majority of the gains go to labor or capital, depending on the strength of the unions.
Saying unions are weak now would be an understatement.

Take No Prisoners

Take No Prisoners -- watch US Marines execute a wounded man, while other Marines cheer. (Warning - disturbing footage.)

Watch the Marine describe the feeling of executing the guy as "awesome." How many Timothy McVeighs are we creating?

Bush Mocks The Very Idea Of Laws Applying To Him

Yahoo! News - Bush Rejects Europeans on Iraq Contract Flap:
"Bush scoffed at a question seeking his reaction to Schroeder's statement on Thursday that international law must apply to the awarding of the contracts.

'International law? I better call my lawyer,' he said. "


Who Spends?

From The Volokh Conspiracy:
"...in the first three years of the Bush administration, non-defense discretionary outlays will have risen by 20.8 percent. This compares to a .7% decrease in such spending for the first three years of the Clinton administration..."
That first 3 years of the Clinton presidency, by the way, was before the Republicans took the House and Senate.

Not exactly what Rush and the rest of The Party would have you believe.

Who Are We "At War" With?

Something I've been thinking about -- Who are we "at war" with?

With the Bush administration and the dictatorship of The Party, we have to look at what they DO, not what they SAY, to understand their agenda. Because they lie. Because they use a cloud of false words as a smokescreen to cover what they really wish to achieve.

The United States was attacked on 9/11 by al-Queda, an organization run by Osama bin Laden. They were harbored in Afghanistan, by the Taliban. We invaded that country, overthrew the Taliban government, and have been pursuing the remnants of al-Queda since.

But, with Afghanistan, the Taliban and al-Queda largely out of the way, Bush has instead declared that we are still "at war" with "terrorism," that there is a larger war to be fought, and that this "war" will go on for many, many years.

So who and where are the "terrorists" we are "at war" with? Are we at war with Chechnya? Are we at war with Palestinians? If so, WHY? What do Palestinian or Chechnyan terrorists have to do with the United States? In the Philippines we are at war, again against Islamists who were no threat whatsoever to the people of the United States. What about Iraqis? What threat were Iraqis to the people of the United States? No.

Are we at war with American militias? Are we at war with the Irish Republican Army? Clearly not. So by looking at what they are DOING instead of what they are saying, we can see that it isn't just any "terrorism" that is our enemy. By ignoring American right-wing terrorists, The Party shows that it isn't even terrorism that DOES threaten Americans that they are "at war" against.

If there is any tie between al-Queda, the Taliban, Palestinians, Chechnyans, etc., it is because of their religion, not because they had anything to do with the 9/11 attacks or any other threat to the people of the United States. So are we "at war" with a religion? Many in the U.S. would say that we are -- would say that this is a war of Christianity (never mind that the U.S. is not entirely Christian -- under Bush it IS entirely Christian for all practical purposes) against Islam.

What are the goals of this "war?" What are the limits? When is it over? Only when The Party says so?

Jilted Joe Cries Like A Baby - Proves No Tempermant For Presidency

Call by Gore Does Little to Soothe Lieberman

The War WAS About The Money - Not The Iraqis

Yahoo! News - U.S. Defends Barring Iraq Opponents from Contracts.

So it's about getting contracts, not who can do the best job of helping the Iraqis build a new country.

A Good Analysis Of What Has Been Going On

This, in today's Washington Post, does a great job explaining what has happened to the Democratic Party:
"By winning office with a negative 540,000-vote margin and then proceeding to govern in the most relentlessly partisan fashion from the right, the president has made unmistakably clear that the concerns of Democrats are of no interest to him. On Capitol Hill, meanwhile, the Republican leadership relies solely on Republican votes to get its measures passed, going so far as to exclude mainstream Democrats from conference committees. When America's new laws are to be negotiated, Republicans talk only to themselves.

Disastrously, it's been the Democrats in Congress who've been the slowest to pick up on their new marginality. Some of the Democrats who voted to authorize the Iraq war in October 2002 did so -- or say they did so -- in hopes of prodding Bush to embrace a more multilateral approach toward Iraq.

Call this the Tony Blair Fallacy -- both the prime minister and our own legislators failed to realize that Bush wanted only their permission, not their advice. And this year it was Ted Kennedy -- long the wisest liberal head on the Hill -- who calculated that the Medicare bill would grow more palatable the longer it was deliberated. In any previous Congress, that could well have been the case. In this Congress, however, no Democrats are allowed into the deliberations that matter.
[. . .]
While the nation's Democratic leaders were unable to understand just how marginal they'd become, however, millions of rank-and-file Democrats and just plain disgruntled Bush-haters intuitively grasped what was going on. Bush was bent on repealing the New Deal and replacing the internationalist order that the United States had erected after World War II with a more nationalist vision of his own. If you weren't with him, you were against him. And he was against you. "


We All Lose Now

US Using Israeli Military to Train Special Ops to fight Iraqis: "I have a sinking feeling that Bush just lost the war on terror."

A Better Reason

If you're looking for Machiavellian reasons for the timing of Gore's endorsement of Dean, take a look at LiberalOasis. LiberalOasis suggests the timing was to put Bush's signing of the Medicare reform and prescription drug con-job on the back pages.
"It’s tough to step on a presidential news story. But Gore did, making Bush’s sell job, already uphill, just a little bit harder."
It worked. And all the TV and radio talking heads, talking about Gore vs Hillary (see below), helped. Joke's on them.


I'm getting in the many hundreds of spams a day. If I check my mail, and then check my mail again, there is at least one new spam NO MATTER HOW QUICKLY I CHECK IT AGAIN!


This morning I was driving around, so I had the radio on, listening to Rush and O'Reilly. This evening, after today's Democratic Party Presidential debate I did something I don't usually do anymore -- I flipped through the cable TV channels to see what they were saying. I shouldn't be, but I am rather surprised that every single pundit on every single channel said the same things, and it was the very same things that Rush and O'Reilly were saying this morning! It was all about Gore's endorsement, and how it is some kind of war with Hillary Clinton for leadership of the party, and had nothing to do with Dean, and how Dean is a little twit who Bush will easily stomp, and how Gore has moved way to the left, and Dean is a leftist extremist, and it's all about the 2008 election because this one is all over.

Total and complete uniformity of opinion, on the radio and on the TV. I imagine this is what I'll read in the major papers tomorrow.

So here's the problem. How do we get enough Americans away from the Wurlitzer? If this is all they hear, of course this is what many of them will think. It isn't like they will have a choice. Sure, Dean will be able to buy commercials, but if each commercial is followed by 10 minutes of the media telling the public why everything Democrats say is nonsense what good are they?

So how DO we reach the broad, mainstream public in time for the election? The Internet has been good for us to reach EACH OTHER, but how do we get honest news to regular Americans? THIS will be the problem of the election.

Dean Condemns Profanity and Ethnic Humor

I was listening to some right-wing stuff on the radio today, and they said that at a Dean fundraiser last night a speaker called Bush a "piece of shit" along with some other choice words. They were all outraged that Dean did not condemn it, and said this is typical of him and Democrats, and shows what Democrats think of "regular Americans."

Well, of course, Gov. Dean did condemn it. Here's one reference: Dean Objects to Ethnic Humor at a Comedyfest in His Honor. Of course, he also condemned it and condemned the profanity.
"When the M.C., Kate Clinton, introduced Dr. Dean, she had to stall for a few minutes, because he was still fuming in the other room. A few minutes later, he took the stage and apologized for what he called offensive language. "I just don't have much tolerance for ethnic humor," he said. "We are all one community."
[. . .]
"That's not the kind of humor that has any place in the governor's campaign," said a spokesman, Doug Thornell, adding that the comedians had all been "given instructions to keep it clean."

"The governor was incensed and angry," Mr. Thornell said. "He thought the language was totally outrageous.""
Nasty, personal attacks are not the trademark of the Dean campaign. Sure, you get a dose of Bush-hating at Seeing the Forest and many other places online, but Dr. Dean's campaign is about policy, democracy, integrity and the people.

Expect right-wing lies -- it's all they have.

The Attack On Dean

We're seeing the Right's attack on Dean starting to shape up. Here is an example:
"The old Dean was a free trader. The new Dean is not. The old Dean was open to Medicare reform. The new Dean says Medicare is off the table. The old Dean courted the N.R.A.; the new Dean has swung in favor of gun control. The old Dean was a pro-business fiscal moderate; the new Dean, sounding like Ralph Nader, declares, "We've allowed our lives to become slaves to the bottom line of multinational corporations all over the world."
But the liberated Dean is beyond categories like liberal and centrist because he is beyond coherence. He'll make a string of outspoken comments over a period of weeks — on "re-regulating" the economy or gay marriage — but none of them have any relation to the others. When you actually try to pin him down on a policy, you often find there is nothing there.

For example, asked how we should proceed in Iraq, he says hawkishly, "We can't pull out responsibly." Then on another occasion he says dovishly, "Our troops need to come home," and explains, fantastically, that we need to recruit 110,000 foreign troops to take the place of our reserves. Then he says we should not be spending billions more dollars there. Then he says again that we have to stay and finish the job.

At each moment, he appears outspoken, blunt and honest. But over time he is incoherent and contradictory.

He is, in short, a man unrooted. This gives him an amazing freshness and an exhilarating freedom."
I find this stunningly dishonest. Of course, it's from The Party so what else should I expect?

Dean IS for free trade, as long as the rights of workers in all countries are protected. What's wrong with that?

The "old" Dean did not "court" the NRA, and the new Dean is no more for gun control than the "old" Dean. He says keep the laws we have and leave the rest to individual states, just like he always said. Vermont does not HAVE gun murders.

There is nothing contradictory about being pro-business and fiscally moderate, and wanting to do something about multi-national corporations turning us all into serfs.

When Dean said we can't pull out of Iraq responsibly, he meant that we have responsibilities to rebuild and establish order. When he says we need to bring the troops home he means after establishing order and bringing in an international force to keep the peace.

Well, I just got caught in old the trap of refuting each little lie - each tree - and letting this distract me fom seeing the forest. The forest is that they lie. They just lie. They're like the con men who always have a fast response,a new lie, trying to get you to look the other way while they pocket your wallet.

Brooks pretends not to understand Dean's positions, even to say Dean does not have positions. This is the Right's attempt to transmit that because Dean's well-thought-out positions aren't sound bites, they should be dismissed as eggheaded liberal intellectual stuff. "Don't listen to that man's positions. Let's all laugh at him instead. Hey, look over there."

The attack is shaping up now. Because Dean's positions have DEPTH they should be mocked, ridiculed, distorted, lied about. This is how they are going to attempt to campaign around their own unpopular positions -- character assassination, distraction, ridicule and lies, mixed with a dose of give-the-public-something-to-hate-so-they-don't-think. And, of course, lots and lots of fear. They count on Americans being stupid. Of course, this is what we knew they would do - it is what they always do. They lie. They just lie. It's really all they have to offer. That's the forest. Each lie is a tree. Let's start pointing this out at every opportunity.

Blogger Acting Screwey (Surprise!)

Blogger is acting screwy. In fact, you probably aren't reading this. Things I posted yesterday aren't showing up... Good luck.


When The PEOPLE Get The Chance To Speak

THIS is why The Party is struggling so hard to keep anyone from having any say in policy, and to keep anyone from investigating anything they are doing. Because when you can actually shine some light on their activities, and bring them in front of PEOPLE for judgment, the people DO judge:
"A hometown jury deliberated just five hours Monday before convicting Rep. William J. Janklow, the state's only congressman, of manslaughter for killing a motorcyclist after running a stop sign."

Good News For Software Engineers

Are you a software engineer (programmer)? I've got good news for you! You are now a "low-skilled" worker! Hooray! From this NYTimes story from yesterday -- read on an airplane, ON PAPER! -- Who Wins and Who Loses as Jobs Move Overseas? an economist says this:
"Out in the Bay Area there are plenty of folks who would love to create a little bit of protectionism around their I.T. jobs, but we are far better off letting a lot of those jobs go. Low-skill jobs like coding are moving offshore and what's left in their place are more advanced project management jobs."
Better off letting those jobs go? As compared to high-skill jobs like economist?

And for the rest of you, who might think you are not as "low-skilled" as software engineers, there is this:
"China for all practical purposes has an infinite supply of labor: 400 million in its urban population and another 900 million in the rural area. The average wage of a Chinese worker is still 2.5 to 3 percent of the counterpart in the developed world. Those are disparities that will be around for a long time."
Someone, somewhere, please tell me why it is a good thing to negotiate trade agreements that do not protect workers and the environment? Aren't we guaranteeing a "spiral to the bottom," when we set up these deals with China allowing them to pay workers only pennies per hour, meanwhile forcing them to work 80-hour+ weeks? No one can compete with that - but the Chinese workers don't benefit either, and they certainly aren't earning enough to buy anything we make in the US! They are not allowed to organize independant unions, and they know that if they make trouble they can be replaced by one of those 900 million from the rural areas. Meanwhile the labor savings are not passed on to regular Americans. They are pocketed by CEOs and ultra-rich shareholders who don't even have to pay much in taxes on the money gained from sending OUR jobs offshore. We get poorer, the Chinese don't get particularly richer -- at least not rich enough to be buying the few things we still make. Over time this HAS TO erode demand in the US so even our corporations stop benefitting from this arrangement. (Of course the current crop of executives will have already pocketed their millions, (giving a share to The Party,) and flown off in one of their jets to one of their $5 million homes, so they don't care.)

Who IS our economy for, anyway?