From John Kerry

I suggest reading this message from John Kerry. Then go to the website to join and co-sponsor the bill to provide health care to every child. And note the line that I bring out with bold type.
I want to thank you personally for what you did in the election -- you rewrote the book on grassroots politics, taking control of campaigns away from big donors. No campaign will ever be the same.

You moved voters, helped hold George Bush accountable, and countered the attacks from big news organizations such as Fox, Sinclair Broadcasting, and conservative talk radio.

And your efforts count now more than ever. Despite the words of cooperation and moderate sounding promises, this administration is planning a right wing assault on values and ideals we hold most deeply. Healthy debate and diverse opinion are being eliminated from the State Department and CIA, and the cabinet is being remade to rubber stamp policies that will undermine Social Security, balloon the deficit, avoid real reforms in health care and education, weaken homeland security, and walk away from critical allies around the world.

Regardless of the outcome of this election, once all the votes are counted -- and they will be counted -- we will continue to challenge this administration. This is not a time for Democrats to retreat and accommodate extremists on critical principles -- it is a time to stand firm.

I will fight for a national standard for federal elections that has both transparency and accountability in our voting system. It's unacceptable in the United States that people still don't have full confidence in the integrity of the voting process.

I ask you to join me in this cause.

And we must fight not only against George Bush's extreme policies -- we must also uphold our own values. This is why on the first day Congress is in session next year, I will introduce a bill to provide every child in America with health insurance. And, with your help, that legislation will be accompanied by the support of hundreds of thousands of Americans.

There are more than eight million uninsured children in our nation.

That's eight million reasons for us to stay together and fight for a new direction. It is a disgrace that in the wealthiest nation on earth, eight million children go without health insurance.

Normally, a member of the Senate will first approach other senators and ask them to co-sponsor a bill before it is introduced -- instead, I am turning to you. Imagine the power of a bill co-sponsored by hundreds of thousands of Americans being presented on the floor of the United States Senate. You can make it happen. Sign our "Every Child Protected" pledge today and forward it to your family, friends, and neighbors:


This is the beginning of a second term effort to hold the Bush administration accountable and to stand up and fight for our principles and our values. They want you to disappear; they are counting on that. I'm confident you will prove them wrong, and you will rewrite history again.

Here is what I want you to know. I understand the strength, commitment, and passion that are at the core of what we built together -- and I am determined to make our collective energy and organization a force to be reckoned with in the weeks and months ahead.

Let's roll up our sleeves and get back to work for our country.

Thank you,

John Kerry
Go join.

Regardless of the outcome once the votes are counted. Wow. Think about what he's saying.

Ashcroft Supreme Being

Lifting the Fog:
"Outgoing Attorney General John Ashcroft will change his name to Thurgood Marshall as part of the administration's effort to unify the country when making future Supreme Court appointments."


Vote Count Story

UC Berkeley Study Questions Florida E-Vote Count.

Don't Forget Poland!

Lie Girls... NOT work safe!

(Be sure to visit "Photo Ops")

From Baghdad

From Iraq, Baghdad Burning: American Heroes - and follow the link at the bottom over to Mykeru.com.

Update - Thanks to master-blogger skippy, more Iraq bloggers to check out: Raed in the Middle and tell me a secret.

Flat Tax

Cute idea, sold like this: No deductions, everyone pays the same rate. Really simple – you write down your income, you calculate 15% (or whatever), you send it in. Easy as pie.

Suppose you own a corner grocery store. Suppose you buy $80,000 worth of stuff to sell, and sell it for $130,000. Do you pay taxes on $130,000? Or do you "deduct" the $80,000 you paid for the goods you sold, and only pay taxes on the remaining $50,000? If you are allowed to deduct the $80,000 we are right back where we started, with "deductions," and we are back to arguing about what things we can or can not deduct. Tricky.

And another thing. I'm sure you have heard that a small percentage of taxpayers pay most of the taxes. (Never mind that they also get most of the income…) They pay a higher tax rate – at least on the amounts over $250,000 or so. (The pay NO taxes on most of their income, by the way, because it comes from dividends an capital gains… and NO Social Security taxes after about $87,000…) SO, if they pay most of the taxes now, but after this "reform" you pay the same tax rate as them, what does that say about what is going to happen to YOUR taxes?

(Also here.)


Does the Democratic Party Exist?

A lot of us took some serious flak for not supporting Gore in 2000, and in retrospect we probably deserved it. But I think that the traitors and mercenaries on the other side of the party are actually much more dangerous. I've often wondered whether the pros in the Democratic Party actually lose anything when the Democrats lose, and the first story is evidence that they don't. (Note the words "during campaign").

The second story leads us to ask, for the thousandth time, why Gore chose Lieberman as his running mate. Is Lieberman even capable of loyalty? His unwillingness to confront the Republicans certainly contributed to the 2000 defeat.

Throw in the fact that the Democrats are dependent on a lot of single-issue voters who are lukewarm at best on most of the Democratic positions, and you have a very weak party.

The accomodationist "New Dem" strategy is usually portrayed as a "realist" non-ideological approach intended to win elections, but I believe that the Democratic apparatchiks are realists mostly in the way they feather their own nests and push their own ideological agendas. A couple of years ago I wrote this piece arguing that the New Democrats have actually weakened the party, and I think that events have confirmed my view.

Kerry adviser worked both sides of the street:
RNC paid $93,000 to McCurry’s firm during campaign

Records show that since the end of April, Grassroots Enterprise has received $93,000 in payments from the RNC for Internet hosting, but Heather Layman, an RNC spokesman, said the Republican Party hired McCurry's firm to help deliver content to potential voters, not for Web-hosting services.

McCurry joined the Kerry campaign full time in mid-September and before that served the campaign as a member of a task force on religious outreach. McCurry took a leave of absence as chairman of the board of Grassroots when he joined the campaign. He expects to be reinstated as chairman soon.

"For at least the second time in three days, Joe Lieberman is graciously saying that if the president offers him a cabinet position, he'll take it."

"The most powerful Democratic elected leader in the country opposes abortion. He may be the best hope for the moderation Lieberman says he champions. Was Lieberman consciously snubbing him? Or is he just characterologically incapable of defending the Democratic Party? Either way, unless his goal is to become persona non grata his comments are just pitiful."

(Yes, I'm back, though still on light duty. I've made some progress in my personal affairs in the last two days, and in a couple of weeks I hope to be back to normal.)


In Our Name

"I decided to swim … but I changed my mind after seeing U.S. helicopters firing on and killing people who tried to cross the river."

He watched horrified as a family of five was shot dead as they tried to cross."


... but believable. Go read this one for yourself. The Stakeholder :: Rally 'Round the Family Update

New Site


I'll post more later. Currently parked in an alley behind a Starbucks, drinking a Peet's, snarfing the Starbucks wireless... Went into a Starbucks yesterday to buy a (soy) latte and work but they were playing CHRISTMAS MUSIC on the speakers!!! YUCK! So I fled, tried parking by a Borders... then a library, couldn't connect... can't seem to work from home some days... nomadically wandering the broadband desert, seeking 802.11.g. Even b is OK.


Just stopping by

(All: I'm dealing with a bunch of personal business and thinking things over, but I haven't disappeared entirely. Here are my most recent thoughts, excerpted and revised from an email to Dave.)

The question I'm dealing with now is, to what extent will normal politics even be possible from here on? I expect a very aggressive Norquist-Rove push at the very edge of legality, or past it. Purging the CIA was a start. At some point your options dwindle down to being a lonely dissident witness, perhaps at great personal cost, and exile. (Given present public opinion, I do not see the possibility of much serious resistance).

So while I am participating so far in the dialogue about electoral strategy, etc., there's that second, more pessimistic possibility too. I think that it would be wrong to give up on normal politics too soon, but you have to keep your eyes open.

Recent news gives some unpleasant hints. Apparently we have now chosen a scorched-earth policy -- punishing all of the Iraqis, as if there are no civilians in Fallujah. Blocking the Red Cross, not letting drinking water in, etc. To the trolls, warbloggers, and WW IV advocates, "civilian casualties" is the punchline of a hilarious joke. (Oddly, they're the same people who are so confident of democratization, and so insulting to anyone who thinks the democratization is a fake.). It may end up happening that Bush's military actions will go beyond what can be tolerated at all. I maintain contact with Canadian and European friends and family and we're very close to that line already.

A recent government confiscation of an Indymedia server is another warning. The "accidental" appearance of a tank near a peace demonstration in Los Angeles (I think) might be another.

I hopefully played along with Kerry-Edwards even though they didn't peep a dovish peep during the whole election. But there's no need for that kind of loyalty any more.

Kevin Drum and Matt Yglesias have been proclaiming that the Democrats have to gain "credibility on defense", which I assume means making loud warlike noises. That may be true electorally, but it rejects the very possibility of anti-war stance and is harmful in the world of reality. The claim of Democratic lack of credibility is really a hawkish smear. America's military policy hasn't been defensive since 1812, and the Democrats have been pretty hawkish most of the time since 1984 or earlier.

Rove, Norquist, and Bush plan to remake the United States and the world, and military activism overseas is a big part of their plan. If the Democrats fail to resist or are unable to do so effectively, I fear that we will all be faced with some grim choices in the relatively near future.

In Our Name

Fallujah pictures.

Republicans Using Christians, Encouraging Cultism

There's a great post on how things work inside of the cults, and how The Party is using them.

Yes, I used the word "cults." Question: Is the Republican Party encouraging cult-like characteristics among their followers -- especially the Christians who support The Party? From Cult Formation by Robert Jay Lifton, M.D., 1981:
"Certain psychological themes which recur in these various historical contexts also arise in the study of cults. Cults can be identified by three characteristics:
  • a charismatic leader who increasingly becomes an object of worship as the general principles that may have originally sustained the group lose their power;
  • a process I call coercive persuasion or thought reform;
  • economic, sexual, and other exploitation of group members by the leader and the ruling coterie. "
  • Some questions to discuss:

    Do the Republicans encourage an authoritarian heirarchy?

    Are they accepting and encouraging encouraging deception among members as a tool toward achieving their goals?

    Are they demanding purity, with loyalty tests?

    Are they encouraging isolation from outside sources of information?

    Do they operate with secrecy?

    Do they encourage the feeling among their followers that the world is against them?

    What about the feeling that there is a near-supernatural "enemy" as an explanation for failures of the cult leadership?

    There is a good checklist of characteristics of cults here. More good stuff here.

    To be clear, I am asking these questions about the current, far-right-wing controlled Party, the one that is purging itself of moderates like PA Senator Arlen Spector because he does not exhibit sufficient ideological purity and loyalty.

    In Our Name

    Civilian casualties.