My Talk at the ATLA Convention

I was invited to speak at the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA) national convention last week in Boston.  I talked about the Right's communications machine, and how it affects the "tort reform" debate.  I encouraged trial lawyers to fund advocacy/communication organizations to counter the Right.
I have posted my remarks online here.

Introducing Me

Dave has invited me to guest post. I read Seeing the Forest at least daily and rely on it, so I consider this quite an honor! He says I should introduce myself in my first post -- and keep it short. Well, I could say "I'm just that mysterious lady" and let it go at that.

I'm liberal, or progressive, or whatever bleeping old-fashioned out-of-date word we're using today to describe a particular set of shared values, or I wouldn't be here. I'm also deeply conservative, in the old-fashioned meaning of the word, a conservative being someone who wishes to preserve things. In my naive youth I decided to become a conservator, to preserve art and archaeological artifacts, because I felt strongly that in cold war America civilization itself was under threat and it would make sense to try to keep the best of the past available for future generations. Later I worked for the Department of Environmental Protection in New York City; preserving the environment and quality of living is quite a challenge in a city of over 8 million messy people. I'm proud of that department. I also live within walking distance of the World Trade Center site, watched the twin towers fall, and coped with the aftermath, and I'll write about that.

I agree entirely with Dave's point of view and political analysis. These are wildly dangerous times, and there's more going on than just a battle between points of view or belief systems. This is a battle of values, and there's nothing rational about what's going on. The way I see it, the hidden agenda of the radical right is a determination to undo the great secular accomplishments of the enlightenment. In other words, if we aren't careful, we're gonna find ourselves coping, not just with the conditions of the last century, but back somewhere before the 16th century. One of the major accomplishments was the establishment of great collective public works. The huge advances in public health and safety didn't come from medical advances as much as from public, collective engineering projects -- safe water supplies and sewer systems for example. Unglamorous but essential. With all collective public works now labeled "Socialism" even this is under threat, and that's a threat to our health and safety. Just for openers. 
- Meryl Johnson

More you can do: Donate to Kucinich and/or Cobb

I'm still a Green (not to mention broke), and matched my contribution to Dennis with one to the Green Party's nominee for President, David Cobb, but I felt compelled to do something to impact the course of events at the DNC and within the Democratic Party and Kerry campaign in light of the events below.

By sending a donation to Dennis, you send a message to the Democratic Party establishment that the war in Iraq matters (along with all the other progressive efforts and principled positions taken by Kucinich in this campaign). Money talks. Give Dennis the resources to wage an effective campaign for progressive values at the Democratic National Convention. He's the one candidate who hasn't folded up and gone home, and he deserves the thanks of the progressive community for carrying our flag within the Democratic Party.

By sending a donation to David, you send a message to the Democratic Party establishment that the war in Iraq matters (along with all the other progressive efforts and principled positions taken by the Green Party, as outlined in their national platform). Every dollar donated to David drives home the message that there is an alternative to the status quo, and that the Democratic Party does not have a automatic lock on the progressive vote. You do have a choice in November.

--Thomas Leavitt

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07/17/2004 12:08 AM (PT)
Kucinich For President

Thomas Leavitt
PO Box 7095
Santa Cruz, CA 95061-7095

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Something to do in response to Hersh's revelation.

Go to FaithfulAmerica.org, and donate to support their campaign to put this ad, on Arab television. More than ever, the world needs to hear the message that at least some Americans are horrified by the torture in Iraq.

--Thomas Leavitt

07/16/2004 10:38 PM (PT)
True Majority

Thomas and Gunilla Leavitt
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"The worst is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking..."

Excerpted from a "MisLeader.Org" update:

Leading investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has told the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) that videotapes were made of young boys being sodomized at Abu Ghraib prison. The Bush administration is holding videotapes of these acts, said Hersh, a regular contributor to the New Yorker and other publications and who spoke this week at the ACLU’s annual membership conference.

"The worst is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking," Hersh told the group, adding that there was "a massive amount of criminal wrongdoing that was covered up at the
highest command out there, and higher."

You can hear him for yourself, 1 hour and 30 minutes into the video: "America at a Crossroads," 2004 ACLU Members Conference.

These is what happened to young children of the some of women who were arrested, Hersh says. Clearly, the implication is that this was done to coerce confessions from the women, who must have known about it, perhaps even witnessed it. No wonder they wanted to die. I can't even begin to imagine the horror of it, the pain, the guilt, the sense of helplessness they must have felt.

This is vile and unspeakable. The only appropriate reaction to it is shame and horror. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et. al have not only dragged our nation's good name through the mud, killing thousands of innocent civilians in the process, but he's turned us into a nation of baby-rapers. I feel like throwing up. The shame of it is unbearable. It is absolutely inconceivable to me that I should have lived to see this day, that my nation should have sunk to such depths of infamy. Bush must go. Bush must go, now. Not in November.

If the leader of any other civilized government on the face of this planet had permitted this to happen on his or her watch, that individual would have resigned, immediately, and unconditionally, regardless of whether or not they knew about it, regardless of whether or not any policy of theirs could even vaguely be interpreted as having lead to these events, merely out of respect for him or herself and the people of the nation he or she lead, by taking full responsibility for the actions of those under his or her command.

We should not find out about these events from the press. Our government should not be hiding this information, however horrific, from us. Bush clearly has no shame. He must go. Now. If he won't go, we must hound him from office, he should not be permitted to show his face in public without being confronted about this. Our self-respect as a nation demands nothing less.

Tomorrow, I will spend at least two hours standing on the corner with a sign quoting the words in the header above: "The worst is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking..."

I am overwhelmed with grief.

--Thomas Leavitt

Greg Palast before the Civil Rights Commission

Greg Palast, the main man behind the Florida disenfranchisement  
idealism vs practicality BUT practical errors
sincere yes but this is bad
Lieberman A Anderson
more democrats
To Imus, of course, this all made perfect sense. But Kerry cut him off—and took umbrage:
KERRY: You know, Don, it’s so simple for the president to joke about very serious issues when young kids are dying because he didn’t make a plan to win the peace in Iraq. And I take that very personally as somebody who fought in a war which he chose not to...

In The Right Column

Over on the right side of this page, scroll down and you'll see a new news feed below the BuzzFlash news feed.  This is the new Media Matters feed.  Check it out.


I heard that Calexico was giving a free concert in San Jose yesterday, and drove down to see them.  Visit their website and listen to some of the tunes they have posted there.  They're great.  I live in a neighborhood that is mostly Spanish-speaking, and the band sounds a bit like the neighborhood.  Rock, mariachi, surf and some jazz.

Politicizing Terrorism? Nah...



The Story Behind The Title

Joe Trippi sent me his new book, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, with a note on the inside cover saying he is a long-time reader of Seeing the Forest. I haven't read the book yet, but will post about it when I have.

There is an ad for the book over in the right-side column, clicking the ad takes you to a blog for the book. Go visit the blog.

The lyrics to the Gil Scott-Heron tune that names the book are
The revolution will not be right back after a message
about a white tornado, white lightning, or white people.
You will not have to worry about a dove in your
bedroom, a tiger in your tank, or the giant in your toilet bowl.
The revolution will not go better with Coke.
The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath.
The revolution will put you in the driver's seat.

Bill Moyers: Get Mad! Do something!

Bill Moyers recently gave a Keynote Address at the Inequality Matters Conference held in NYC. It's a powerful statement that resonates with many of the themes the writers of this blog have been expounding on (our memes are spreading). He even references the Enron Tapes. It is definitely worth reading (it came to me via my mother and an League of Women Voters mailing list).

--Thomas Leavitt


Richard Dreyfuss: "you can only learn from your bleeps and move on."

[Ashcroftism at work. Bleepin' bleep of a bleep. -Thomas]

PBS watches its mouth rather than pay big fines. Now it's up to the
other networks to fight the FCC.

by Tim Goodmanm, SFGate.com


Because of this, a new drama called "Cop Shop" starring Richard Dreyfuss
and other actors who made a sort of creative labor of love on the cheap
for public broadcasting, has been edited to avoid the potential wrath of
the FCC. The cuts prompted executive producer and writer David Black
and Dreyfuss to whip out prepared statements before facing the nation's TV
critics here on Friday.

"Ladies and gentlemen, 'Cop Shop' was never meant to be bleeped," said
Dreyfuss, reading from his prepared statement, via satellite from New
York where he's appearing on Broadway. "David and I agreed to be bleeped
because we were told that KCET, our greatly appreciated allies in this
affair, could be subject to intimidating fines in the hundreds of
thousands of dollars. ... And so, more reluctantly than I can describe,
we agreed to be bleeped. But being bleeped is more than it is cracked
up to be. Having now been bleeped, I can only say that it doesn't feel
very good. It feels kind of dirty. But you can never be unbleeped, so you can
only learn from your bleeps and move on."


--Thomas Leavitt

Background info on John Ashcroft.

[The article is rather long, but it goes a good way towards explaining Ashcroft's behavior (insanely rigid, morally certain). Ironically, my Mom is from the Springfield, Missouri area as well (most of her family is still back there). This is scary stuff! -Thomas]

Son of a Preacher Man
How John Ashcroft's religion shapes his public service

Vicki Haddock, Insight Staff Writer
Sunday, August 4, 2002

Of all the Bible stories John Ashcroft knows by heart, none mirrors his own life like the Old Testament melodrama of Daniel.

As a Hebrew captive exiled to Babylon, Daniel worked his way into the palace and was promoted to a high-ranking administrative position. The powers- that-be saw him as smart and politically ambitious, but also as a sanctimonious prig. His religious rectitude invited ridicule, as when he refused to "defile" himself by partaking of the rich food and wine of royalty because his God favored a vegetable-and-water diet.

So his critics set him up, persuading King Darius to outlaw worship of anyone else but the king. Daniel kept praying. They dropped him into a den of lions.
This was a lesson that John David Ashcroft absorbed as a Pentecostal minister's son reared in an Assemblies of God congregation in Springfield, Mo. The moral was clear: Never waver, never doubt, never permit skepticism and mockery to deter you from the course you believe is right.

[... continued ...]

--Thomas Leavitt

Abraham Lincoln speaks up regarding cancelling elections

[Received this through Dave Farber's Interesting People mailing list. Thought it topically relevant. -Thomas]

From: Joseph Holder
Date: July 14, 2004 3:29:16 AM EDT
Subject: Abraham Lincoln speaks up regarding cancelling elections

Recently, the Bush appointed head of the EAC, Soaries, requested
guidance from Homeland Security regarding the possiblity of cancelling
the upcoming November election in case of a "terror" attack somewhere in
the United States somewhere around that time. It seems that this type of
"crisis" has presented its self before.

In 1864, when Washington, DC, was within five miles of Confederate
General Jubal Early's attacking troops
(http://www.nps.gov/rocr/ftcircle/defense.htm), President Abraham
Lincoln, a Republican, did not even dream of cancelling, or even
postponing, the 1864 elections.

Here's a bit of what Ol' Abe had to say on the subject, taken from

"We can not have free government without elections; and if the rebellion
could force us to forego, or postpone a national election it might
fairly claim to have already conquered and ruined us."

--Thomas Leavitt

Kerry Campaign: Nuclear Proliferation

One of the less-amusing peculiarities of the Bush administration is their relative lack of interest in nuclear proliferation. Nuclear proliferation is a question in itself, independent of terrorism, but one of the biggest fears about terrorism is that they might get nuclear weapons someday.

Beyond that, nuclear proliferation is intrinsically destabilizing. A world with 12 nuclear nations would be many times more dangerous than a world with the present five-to-seven.

Nuclear proliferation is a wonk issue which isn't going to win any votes in Philadelphia, Mississippi. There are certain countries you want to look at very closely (e.g., Russia, N. Korea, Iran, and our new non-NATO ally Pakistan), and there are others which are not really involved (e.g., as it happens, Iraq.) There are various things you can do about nuclear proliferation, but it's mostly low-profile stuff that doesn't involve blowing shit up.

Furthermore, if you're a national leader who feeds on public hysteria, nuclear proliferation is actually a good thing, sort of like Abu Mussab al-Zarkawi, since it can be used to justify whatever it is that you're planning to do.

So it's not surprising that Bush is not very interested and that Kerry is. Because Bush doesn't have time for that wonk shit, and Kerry does.

The above is my opinion. Go to the link for what the Kerry campaign has to say.

Kerry Press Release and Fact Sheet

Kerry Campaign: What Did Bush Know?

One of the big questions about our president is how much he knows about anything. He seems to prefer to make his decisions on the basis of simple one-page summaries of the evidence, a method which obviously gives control of policy to whomever it is that prepares the summary. However, the Senate Intelligence Committee was unable to get a copy of the briefing on the basis of which we invaded Iraq.

The most recent Bush administration excuse -- "It's the CIA's fault!" -- lies perilously close to an admission that our President is refusing to do his homework.


The New York Times reports today, “The White House and the Central Intelligence Agency have refused to give the Senate Intelligence Committee a one-page summary of prewar intelligence in Iraq prepared for President Bush that contains few of the qualifiers and none of the dissents spelled out in longer intelligence reviews, according to Congressional officials. [NYT, 7/14/04]" (Reuters version)


A senior administration official who briefed reporters in July 2003 said neither Bush nor national security adviser Condoleezza Rice read the NIE in its entirety. “They did not read footnotes in a 90-page document,” said the official, referring to the “Annex” that contained the State Department’s dissent. The official conducting the briefing rejected reporters’ entreaties to allow his name to be used, arguing that it was his standard procedure for such sessions to be conducted anonymously. [Washington Post, 7/19/03] (Boston Globe version).


(Note: I recently started getting press releases from the Kerry campaign, some of which I will reprint or excerpt here. Be it noted that Seeing the Forest is completely independent and mostly self-funded, with a little help from advertisers).

Madrid bombings - excellent example of media manipulation.

Something that really pisses me off about all the coverage surrounding the issue of postponing federal elections, is the fact that every bleeping story out there repeats the canard that the Madrid train bombings turned the Spanish people against the Anzar government and thus Al-Qaeda managed to manipulate the course of the elections in that country. This is simply not true, what turned people against the Spanish government was the fact that it laid the initial blame for the bombings on the ETA (Basque nationalists) and continued to persist in this even after it became increasingly clear that Al-Qaeda was to blame... the Spanish people reacted very negatively to what they perceived was an attempt by the Anzar government to mislead them (and thus avoid blame for the bombings due to their policy in Iraq), even to the point of mass demonstrations in the streets against the government, two days later, immediately preceding the elections. Thus, it can be credibly argued that what turned the course of the Spanish elections was a FAILED MANIPULATION by the government, NOT a successful one by Al Qaeda. If the government had played it straight with the Spanish people, the outcome might well have been different.

A quote from the article above: "Analysts say the public's anger at the way the government handled the information arising from the investigation, as well as the fact that Spaniards overwhelmingly opposed Spain's support for the U.S.-led war on Iraq, led to the Sunday defeat of the PP."

I haven't seen a SINGLE blessed article on the issue of postponing elections in the mainstream press that points this out when the Madrid bombings are mentioned.

But, of course, the immediate line taken by the Bush administration, and repeated uncritically by our gullible, lazy and far too easily manipulated mainstream press, was that the Spanish people had let themselves been manipulated by Al Qaeda, which of course serves the Bush administration's political needs then (Anzar's government wasn't defeated by legitimate opposition to the war in Iraq) and now (terrorists might seek to do the same here). One might even wonder if they promoted that interpretation, in the knowledge that later on, they would be proposing a mechanism for post-poning federal elections as the result of a terrorist incident.

I urge everyone reading this to write letters to the editor, and write letters to the journalists in question, pointing out the truth about what turned the Spanish people against their government: not the bombing, but outrage over the government's lies about the bombing. I'm sure that people will connect the dots to the current administration's habits as well.

--Thomas Leavitt


Bush AGAIN Accuses Kerry of Bragging About Abandoning Troops

ABCNEWS.com : Bush: Kerry Brags About Abandoning Troops:
"Bush: Kerry Brags About Abandoning Troops
Bush Tours Midwestern States, Says Kerry Abandoned Support for Troops and Then Bragged About It

Courting conservative voters in Michigan's rural Upper Peninsula, President Bush said Tuesday that rival John Kerry abandoned support for U.S. troops in Iraq and then bragged about it.

"Leaders need to stand up with our military," Bush told a cheering crowd, kicking off a two-day tour of three crucial states that he lost in 2000 to Democratic Vice President Al Gore.

Kerry said Monday that he and running mate John Edwards were proud of the fact that they opposed the $87 billion aid package for Afghanistan and Iraq "when we knew the policy had to be changed." Kerry said the Bush administration should have gotten other allies to help with the war in Iraq.

"He is entitled to his view," Bush said, adding that Kerry should not have gone on to "brag about it."
How long IS Kerry going to let Bush get away with this? It is time for Kerry to SMACK THIS DOWN. It is time for Kerry to look American in the face and say that Bush is LYING, and that THIS is just too important to Kerry to continue to let Bush get away with it.

Letting Bush go on saying things like this really makes Kerry look like a wimp. It is working. There really is no other way to deal with this than to smack it down.

I mean, being accused of bragging about abandoning the troops DOES make Kerry angry, doesn't it? But if I don't SEE Kerry getting really angy about this, well, ... maybe it DOESN'T make him angry!

So, Sen. Kerry, what are you going to DO about this? Are you a person who stands up to bullies? That's what the country needs.


Senator Boxer on Possible Election Delays


"To even consider postponing our elections, the most ardent symbol of American democracy, because of threats made by terrorists would be nothing short of allowing fear to rule our country. America is too great and too strong and too brave for that.

If this Administration is so concerned about the possibility of terrorist attacks disrupting U.S. elections, the priority should be how to best defend against those attacks, not how to close polling places.

We need to pass the Rail Security and Port Security bills, both of which passed unanimously out of the Senate Commerce Committee in April. We need to pass my Homeland Defense Act, legislation authorizing grants for our local first responders so they can purchase interoperable communications systems that will allow them to talk to one another in the event of a terrorist attack. And we need to put more federal dollars toward funding these Homeland Security initiatives, including our local first responders.

We are focusing far too many of our resources abroad trying to bring democracy to others while this Administration seems completely at a loss on how to protect us here at home. All we hear about is fear from them and no plan. It is time to stop the fear-mongering and start protecting our people, our homeland, and our democracy here at home."


Why we can't let the election be postponed

The main lesson to take home from the recent uproar about postponing the fall elections is that the Democrats have to have an immediate, aggressive political response ready for any terrorist event that might take place. In many respects, the Kerry campaign's ability to respond quickly to events during the campaign will be taken by the voters as an indicator of President Kerry's ability to respond effectively to terrorism. (If Kerry can't beat Bush, he certainly can't beat Osama Bin Laden.)

Recent reports have told us that the Bush administration is trying to schedule Osama's capture in accordance with the Republican Party's political needs. For that reason, it is important that no one in the executive branch should be given the power to postpone the election. Whichever one of them has that power will postpone the election if he thinks that doing so will help Bush, and not otherwise.

The Republican behavior during the Florida recount tells us not to expect them to pull any punches this year either, and we should make systematic preparations to match them tit for tat -- even down to the formation of flying goon squads, on the model of the Brooks Brothers rioters who did such a great job intimidating the Supreme Court in 2000. We should fight for every single point at every stage of the game.

Since we cannot hope for a neutral arbiter this time around (because of the Supreme Court's outrageous Florida decision), this means that the situation we're facing is exceptionally brittle. If I were David Broder I would make some gaseous comments about civility and implore everyone to be nice and play fair, but I'm not David Broder, and we know that the Republicans are not going to play fair.

Rush Limbaugh doesn't want the elections postponed either, mostly because he thinks that a terrorist attack will help Bush. Does this mean that the trial balloon from the virtually unknown DeForest Soaries was a cunning trick to fool the Democrats into opposing any postponement?

I doubt it. Obviously the bad guys need to have a response for every contingency, and Limbaugh is working the no-postponement side. The Kerry campaign has to be ready for anything too, and the no-postponement principle will take a key weapon out of the Bush campaign's hand.

The big job is to make sure that a terrorist attack, if it takes place, does not help George Bush. And indeed, why should his failure work in his favor? The war in Iraq had nothing much to do with fighting terror. If there's another terrorist attack, won't it tell us that Bush has screwed up?

Postponing the Election: Collected Links

Take my $50!

Spend Time in the Desert

Everything isn't Under Control:
"Coalition deaths have now hit 1,000 Why are we fighting again? It was the anthrax right? No wait, the drones. No, no, the nuclear weapons. All the sarin gas aimed at NYC. The smallpox machine gun! Saddam's doomsday device! A moon-raker like scenario with Saddam living in space and killing all human life on earth! No wait, the Iraqis perfected time travel and were going to kill George Washington's grandmother! Those bastards!

Seriously, cross your fingers and hope you don't get drafted to die in some desert somewhere for reasons unknown. "
Found thanks to skippy.

And Bob Herbert today:
"A government with even a nodding acquaintance with competence and good sense would have launched an all-out war against Al Qaeda, not Iraq, in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11. After all, it was Al Qaeda, not Iraq, that carried out the sneak attack on American soil that destroyed the World Trade Center and part of the Pentagon and killed 3,000 people. You might think that would have been enough to provoke an all-out response from the U.S. Instead we saved our best shot for the demented and already checkmated dictator of Iraq, Saddam Hussein.

Bin Laden and Al Qaeda must have gotten a good laugh out of that. Now they're planning to come at us again. On Thursday, the same day Iraqi insurgents killed the five G.I.'s in Samarra, the Bush administration disclosed that bin Laden and his lieutenants, believed to be operating from hideouts along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, were directing an effort by Al Qaeda to unleash an encore attack against the United States.

According to Tom Ridge, the homeland security secretary, the latest effort may well be timed to disrupt the fall elections.

If that happens, I wonder if we'll finally get serious about the war we should be fighting against bin Laden and Al Qaeda. Maybe not. Based on the impenetrable logic of the president and his advisers, a new strike by Al Qaeda might lead us to start a war with, say, Iran, or Syria.

If we know that bin Laden and his top leadership are somewhere along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, and that they're plotting an attack against the United States, why are we not zeroing in on them with overwhelming force? Why is there not a sense of emergency in the land, with the entire country pulling together to stop another Sept. 11 from occurring?"

Vote Republican and kill a CommieMuslim for Christ!

Postponing the election: a collection of links

Q On Ridge's security warnings, can the President today guarantee Americans that no terrorist attack can upset the U.S. elections this November, that they will go ahead as planned?

MR. McCLELLAN: Ann, I don't think anyone can make guarantees. But the full intention is to move forward and hold those elections.
White House non-answer:

"The prospect that Al Qaeda might seek to disrupt the U.S. election was a major factor behind last week's terror warning by Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. Ridge and other counterterrorism officials concede they have no intel about any specific plots. But the success of March's Madrid railway bombings in influencing the Spanish elections—as well as intercepted "chatter" among Qaeda operatives—has led analysts to conclude "they want to interfere with the elections," says one official".

"U.S. officials have discussed the idea of postponing Election Day in the event of a terrorist attack on or about that day, a Homeland Security Department spokesman said Sunday.

The department has referred questions about the matter to the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel, said spokesman Brian Roehrkasse, confirming a report in this week's editions of Newsweek magazine."

"It was crazy to go ahead with an election a mere three days after the Madrid massacre..... But I do know that reversing course in the wake of a terrorist attack is inexcusable."
(David Brooks, March 16, 2004)

"The government needs to establish guidelines for canceling or rescheduling elections if terrorists strike the United States again, says the chairman of a new federal voting commission. Such guidelines do not currently exist, said DeForest B. Soaries, head of the voting panel."
(AP, June 25, 2004)

"A steady stream of intelligence, including nuggets from militant-linked Web sites, indicates al-Qaida wants to attack the United States to disrupt the upcoming elections, federal officials said Thursday."
(AP, July 9, 2004)

"Osama bin Laden could have made a good living as a political consultant if he did not choose to kill babies instead. The al Qaeda/Ba'ath Party strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan is, at core, a political one. They seek not just to pull Iraq into chaos, but to defeat President Bush as well."
("Terrorists for Kerry", Dick Morris, NY Post, June 5, 2004)

"'While a political resolution to the election might not be quick and might be a brawl, Souter argued that the nation would still accept it,' Kaplan wrote. Souter tried desperately to get Kennedy to vote with the minority, according to the book, but he wouldn't flip. 'He thought the trauma of more recounts, more fighting — more politics — was too much for the country to endure,' Kaplan wrote." (Kennedy had been intimidated specifically by the "Brooks Brothers Riot" of paid Republican staffers which ended the recount in Miami-Dade County; that was the only actual violence that there had been, though a number of Republicans had stated their unwillingness to accept a result which made would put Gore in the Presidency).
(Story: AP/CBS, Sept 10, 2001)

Billmon has something to say

Riba has a lot of interesting stuff

The Left Coaster has a lot of interesting stuff.

Moderate Voice has a lot of stuff

"Memeorandum" has collected a lot of interesting stuff: I II III IV

"Not only is the country's leading touch-screen voting system so badly designed that votes can be easily changed, but its manufacturer is run by a die-hard GOP donor who vowed to deliver his state for Bush next year."
(Salon, Sept. 23, 2003)

Black Box Voting I

Black Box Voting II

Black Box Voting III

Election futures III

People say that my original bet was too vague, so I'm tightening it up a bit.

It's still 30-1, my $50 against your $1500. Show your confidence in America!

You are betting that none of the following will happen:

1. Whoever is in office on Jan. 21, 2004 is not there because he's been elected. Either Bush stays in, or a caretaker is appointed.

2. The November election does not take place as scheduled, but is postponed.

3. In a significant number of states (greater than the margin of victory) the vote in the electoral college is not based on a count of the votes (for example, the state legislature intervenes).

4. Some unprecedented intervention decides the election, as in 2000.

5. Major branches of government openly defy President Kerry and refuse to obey his orders.

I've left out the "denial of legitimacy" point because there's a 100% chance that many conservatives will not accept President Kerry's legitimacy.

This supercedes all previous offers. I'll lower the odds until I get a bet. This is not gambling, but a scientific attempt to determine how much confidence the American people have in our electoral system.


Election Futures Market, II

OK, I'll change my bet. Show how much confidence you have in our electoral system!

I'm willing to bet $50 at 30-to-one that we'll see problems in the 2004 Presidential election as bad or worse than those in the 2000 election. Your $1500 says everything will be OK, my $50 says that there will be major problems -- as bad as or worse than 2000.

Everyone's been telling me that the chances of that happening are insignificant, but the best offer I've seen so far is 10-to-1. Not much confidence there, folks!

My definitive bet is here.

Here are some new stories on the possibility of a postponed election, plus links to the original stuff we had up:



Riba has a lot of good stuff
White House non-answer

Left Coaster

Black Box Voting I

Black Boc Voting II

Black Boc Voting III

Original story here, with links

YOU Can Join A Union

Working America:
"Nonunion workers and retirees are invited to join the people power of America's union movement and help make America work for all of us."
Go sign up and be part of the labor movement, even if there is no union where you work!

Goebbels on Hitler as a Speaker

I ran across this while Googling for details to use in my "spoof" of McClennan's statement, earlier today.

Here are the first three paragraphs:

There are two fundamentally different kinds of speakers: those who use reasoning, and those who speak from the heart. They reach two different sorts of people, those who understand through reason, and those who understand through the heart. Speakers who aim for the reason are generally found in parliaments, those who speak from the heart speak to the people.

The speaker who uses reason, if he is to be effective, must command a wide range of statistical and factual material. He must be a master of dialectic as the pianist is master of the keyboard. With ice cold logic, he develops his line of thinking and draws irrefutable conclusions. He is most effective with people who work primarily or exclusively with reason. Big and compelling successes are denied him. He does not understand how to fire up the masses for a great cause. He is limited to educational discourse. Since he is cold, he leaves his listeners cold. At best he persuades people, but never mobilizes them and sets them marching, regardless of their own ideas or the element of personal risk involved.

The speaker from the heart is different. He may have the skills of the master of reasoning. They are however only tools he uses as a true rhetorical virtuoso. He has abilities not found in the reasoning speaker. He combines clear diction with simple argumentation, and instinct tells him what to say and how to say it. Language is united with ideas. He knows the secret corners and aspects of the mass soul and knows how to reach and touch them. His speeches are masterpieces of declamation. He outlines people and conditions; he inscribes his theses on the tablet of the age; with deep and noble passion he explains the pillars of his world view. His voice reaches out from the depths of his blood into the depths of the souls of his listeners. He brings to expression the secrets of the human soul. He rouses the tired and lazy, fires up the indifferent and the doubting, turns cowards into men and weaklings into heroes.

Does this sound like the difference between right and left in this country?

What tactics do Michael Savage and the rest of the 'wingers and wing nuts filling the AM airwaves use, but those straight out of Goebbel's playbook? These folks don't care about reason, logic... all they care about is provoking a reaction. Who are they most populat with? Folks who don't work primarily with reason (to all appearances, judging by way too many of the emails I get at SavageStupidity.com and other sites). Who do progressives hold up as our models? Thinkers, reasoners, theorists...

I gotta wonder if Goebbels is right, if all our high faltin' liberal thinking is just going to get us nowhere, if we oughta just rip up the playbook and get down and dirty, mix it up in the trenches, appeal to people's primeaval passions and fundamental emotions.

Are any of us capable of that? It certainly makes my head hurt to try and think that way... I'm so intensively devoted to the academic model of proving your point by citing sources, facts, studies, statistics, etc. from credible and documented sources, etc. What would a speech formulated in that fashion look like? How would it differ from the typical politicians speech? Here's a Kerry speech (and here's a more recent one)... it doesn't sound too bad to me... how would it change? How about an Edwards speech?

--Thomas Leavitt

Let's start a list...

I'm going to start a collection of quotes from the media regarding the current administration's policies - ones that, under normal circumsstances, would cause any reader to give pause. The goal here is to help assemble the trees into a forest. If you've got ones of your own to contribute, please post a comment with them (citing source, and a URL if possible).

Here's a couple of examples from articles I recently posted to STF:

"Chambers' departure may not garner the same spotlight as those of former counterterrorism expert Richard Clarke and former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, but it appears to fall into a similar category: officials who leave or are forced out after questioning Bush administration policies." --Ex-chief of Park Police denounces firing, CNN, Saturday, July 10, 2004

"Many in the U.S. intelligence community have been making similar points [regarding the local origin of the guerilla warfare in Iraqi -TL], but have encountered political opposition from the Bush administration, a State Department official in Washington said, also speaking on condition of anonymity." --Iraq Insurgency Far Larger Than Thought, AP, July 8, 2004

I'm looking for stuff that points to a systematic pattern of behavior by the Bush Administration that is contrary to the expected norm by any administration.

As I come across other items of a similar nature, I'll post them here.

--Thomas Leavitt

Bush to federal employees: "shut up or lose your job".

[I wonder how many other public employees are on "paid administrative leave" (seven months) for daring to talk to the press, on the record, about a disagreement with Bush Administration policies? Only in the Bush Administration would a law enforcement official be fired as a result of asking for more funding for his or her organization! Wouldn't your average American consider this woman's actions patriotic? -Thomas]

Ex-chief of Park Police denounces firing
Chambers: Administration 'silencing' dissenting views

Saturday, July 10, 2004 Posted: 8:56 PM EDT (0056 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- One day after she was fired, former U.S. Park Police Chief Teresa Chambers accused the Bush administration Saturday of silencing dissenting views in the rank and file.

Chambers' departure may not garner the same spotlight as those of former counterterrorism expert Richard Clarke and former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, but it appears to fall into a similar category: officials who leave or are forced out after questioning Bush administration policies.


"My professional judgment, based upon 27 years of police service, six years as chief of police, and countless interactions with police professionals across the country, is that we are at a staffing and resource crisis in the United States Park Police -- a crisis that, if allowed to continue, will almost surely result in the loss of life or the destruction of one of our nation's most valued symbols of freedom and democracy," she wrote.

A week earlier, Chambers had spoken with a Washington Post reporter about the budget shortfalls, and the article appeared December 2. Three days later, the chief was on administrative leave.

Chambers said her story effectively put a chill on National Park superintendents who were facing their own shortfalls. She said she has spoken with current officials who know the situation but fear for their jobs.


--Thomas Leavitt

Reichskanzlei won't guarantee elections in November

Press Briefing by Dr. Joseph Goebbel:

"Q On Colonel-General von Brauchitsch's security warnings, can the Fuehrer today guarantee the German people that no terrorist attack can upset the German elections this November, that they will go ahead as planned?

DR. GOEBBEL: Ann, I don't think anyone can make guarantees. But the full intention is to move forward and hold those elections. I don't know specific information related to election day or any other of the high profile events that we have coming up. What we can guarantee to the German people is that we will continue to take strong steps to make sure that we are doing a better job every day of protecting the fatherland, Heil Hitler!, and enhancing protective measures in certain areas of the country. And we will continue waging the war on communism, on the offensive, to defeat the communists! Heil Hitler! That's what we will continue to do.

These are threats that we need to take seriously, and that's why it's important to keep the German people informed. Heil Hitler!"

[O.K., so I'm in a lousy mood.]

--Thomas Leavitt