Thursday, November 30, 2006

Ted Haggard Day: Did You Miss It?

Well, officially it was "National Methamphetamine Awareness Day", but for some reason -- I hope I'm not being too cynical here -- I don't think this would have happened on behalf of some anonymous speed freak from the streets of D.C.

Pat Robertson must be so jealous -- what, no "National Call For The Assassination of Freely-Elected Foreign Leaders Who Are Not Right-Wing Puppets of the U.S. Government Day"?

The press release (hat tip to Kvatch and If I Ran The Zoo) says:
"Now, therefore, I, George W. Bush, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim..."
(I'm getting a mental picture of the Mayor of Munchkin City unrolling his scroll, proclaiming a holiday throughout the Land of Oz...)
"...proclaim Nov. 30, as National Methamphetamine Awareness Day. I call upon the people of the United States to observe this day with appropriate programs and activities."
Except that, since the press release went out late morning the day before, nobody had any chance to prepare any "appropriate programs and activities". No working it into the next day's Social Studies lesson, no time to book a conference room and invite panel members for discussion. The only thing they left time for anyone to do was to call up the local neighborhood meth dealer and score (optional: get a hotel room, call the escort service for a "massage").

Government by press release. What is it about this administration that it resembles a business run entirely by the legal and marketing departments?

I can hear him now, holding court on the evils of meth: "Y'all oughta get off the crank and just do a few lines, like I did way back when. And if you're too coked up to show up at the National Guard base for your aeromedical exam, well, you probably didn't want to see any combat anyway." Hail to The Chief!

When it's some pointless dog-and-pony show, he pulls himself up to full height, cues the march music, and cites "the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States". I guess that, in his diminutive view of the Constitution, that’s all it’s good for. For anything else, especially if it affects our freedom, our safety, or the economic future of our country, it's "Ah've got me sum political capital, and ah'm gonna spend it.", or "Ah'm the decider, not the uniter", or "Ah'm just gonna pull this foreign policy outa mah ass".

Anyway, happy National Methamphetamine Awareness Day, a day late. If you missed it like I did, there's always "National Free The Country From Crippling Cynicism Day" -- November 3, 2008. Mark your calendars.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Random Flickr Blogging: img_2343

Originally uploaded by tienmao.
Random Flickr-blogging explained.
The new tax legislation did specify one way to avoid the 90% bracket:

Participation in the annual "Running Of The CEOs".

Originally uploaded by Doxieone.
This guy's message is pretty clear, but what's with the little dog silhouette next to it?

Originally uploaded by jenac.
There's more to channeling Andy Kaufman than fancy lighting.

Originally uploaded by Sally Payne.
We're the Log Cabin Republicans...are you conservative enough for us?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Random Flickr Blogging: img_1635

Originally uploaded by Saady.
Random Flickr-blogging explained.
It seemed that the controversy over America's detainee policies had died down; then came the startling revelations about Donald Rumsfeld's childhood.

Originally uploaded by smee32.
The end of ratings dominance brought about some changes at Fox News.

Originally uploaded by zakw845.
Karaoke has some specific, mandatory prerequisites...and that's just for the audience.

Originally uploaded by 1st Austinmer Rover Crew.
"OK, OK, I'm glad to see you...very help me get down off of this thing!"

Originally uploaded by Elgar.
Happy Hill Day Nursery quickly developed a reputation as the Abu Ghraib of early childhood education.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Random Flickr Blogging: img_6842

Originally uploaded by kittykowalski.
Random Flickr-blogging explained
The crowd having been whipped into a complete frenzy, the band launched into its big hit single, "The Struggle of The Workers To Cast Off the Bonds of Imperialism and Complete The Tractor Factory"

Originally uploaded by zzcoyote.
Wednesday morning, Dennis Hastert met with the press to try to explain what had gone wrong.

Originally uploaded by ben bouwmeester.
"When the government of Iraq is ready to stand up, we'll stand down."

Originally uploaded by kennycharn.
All things considered, Massachusetts Republicans were surprisingly upbeat as they gathered for their party's convention.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Tricycle on the freeway in VA

Now, see, here's a problem: We're all waiting for the VA race to be settled (could be Christmas before that happens, I'm told), and at this point, with 99.8% of the vote counted, Webb (D) leads Allen (R) by 7,847 votes, and by the fabled less than half a percentage point. Guess what? The Independent Green candidate, Glenda Parker, got 26,000 votes. I'm sure she's a lovely person, and I agree there should be more public transportation, cleaner air and water, etc., but

what part of this election is a national referendum on the disastrous leadership of the country by Republicans don't you understand?

This is the U.S. Senate we're talking about. How difficult is it to see the common interest -- among Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Greens, Purples, Chartreuses, Socialists, Libertarians, and everyone but George Allen -- in preventing a racist wingnut Bush apologist like George Allen from representing Virginia in the U.S. Senate? "Not-George-Allen" leads George Allen 50.7% to 49.3%, a margin that would not trigger a recount; but we're going to get one, and only because the "Not-George-Allen" vote is split.

The Democratic party in Vermont, with the shoe on the other foot, understands this. They endorsed Bernie Sanders (I) instead of fielding a separate candidate. As a Virginia voter, you owe it to your fellow citizens in Virginia and in the whole country to look at the biggest picture possible, given the reality of how things are right now, not the way we wish they would be.

The reality is that -- hopefully not forever, but for now -- it's a binary operation. Walk up to a light switch and make a choice: On or Off. You can't always predict for a given race whether the third-party vote will be a "message" or or a shot into your own foot, and until there's instant runoff voting or something like it, the latter possiblity will always exist.

I already know the psychobabble that's coming..."But you can't say that all those IG votes, or even a majority, would go to the Democrat if the IG candidate weren't running? And anyway, the Democrats and Republicans are exactly the same." I'm sorry, but frankly, now that the evidence is actually in, that is some seriously tired s--t. Bottom line, at the end of the day, how have Greens and Independents and Independent Greens (don't get them mixed up, OK? Puh-leeze!) been doing since 90,000 Floridians voted Green in 2000? How are we doing on the environment? Public Transportation? Foreign Policy? If anyone really believes we aren't worse off now by some incredible multiple than we would have been with Al Gore as president -- and even worse, believe that Nader's candidacy had nothing to do with the six years of needless death, negligence, fear-mongering, and despair that we got -- well, that kind of denial is pathological.

Third parties need to put their energies into building a power base, by running candidates for state and local government, and by advocating for real campaign finance and election reform, and voting with the national party (guess which one) that is most likely to support those.

And yes, I'm glad I finally got that off my chest.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Random Flickr Blogging: img_4884, part 4

Originally uploaded by Hajos Bilderbücher.
Random Flickr-blogging explained.
Tensions ran a little high this year at the annual "Red State - Blue State" pageant.

Random Flickr Blogging: img_4884, part 3

Originally uploaded by Suikerrock 2006.
Random Flickr-blogging explained.
As the date for his brain-tumor surgery approached, he was having second thoughts about selecting the low-cost, high-deductible health plan option.

Random Flickr Blogging: img_4884, part 2

Originally uploaded by Clauuuuuudia~~~~.
Random Flickr-blogging explained.
"Just routine, sir...we stop everyone with a 'My Other Car is an IED' bumper sticker."

Random Flickr Blogging: img_4884, part 1

Originally uploaded by tomandjp.
Random Flickr-blogging explained.
"If I have to watch Moe throw that pie right at the camera one more time, I'll just...

Friday, November 03, 2006

"October Surprise" Fatigue Sets In

Yes, I know it's (finally) November, but if you say "October Surprise" to anyone, the listener knows exactly what you mean; that's how embedded in the political culture this pattern is now. The risk when you pull a stunt like this is that it always begs the question "Why couldn't this have happened sooner, like anytime in the last [2, 4, 6 years]?"

This was meant to be an equal-opportunity OS, helping build phony crimefighting credentials for Republican candidates at the state level (sorry, Lt. Gov. Healy, too little, too late) as well as provide preening opportunities for the feds, and by inference, the White House. Funny, though, how this only made the front page in the Globe.

Only one problem: Don't any of these people think they also should be governing during the other 23 months of the year? Is this their idea of shrinking government -- start with the calendar?

Unfortunately for conservatives, this story is getting nothing nationally compared to this.

To be clear, nobody is saying that rounding up criminals is just a stunt, OK? Allowing criminals to roam the streets until five days before an election is a stunt.

During a press conference announcing the arrests yesterday, First Assistant US Attorney Michael K. Loucks said, "Protecting the most innocent among us is more important than anything else we do."
Except hold on to power at all costs, apparently.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Juntos Pedemos and the Fart-Joke Presidency

I think by now it's understood that the slogan "Together We Can" is not original to the Deval Patrick campaign, but I ran across a connection that the Globe missed.

After hearing a podcast of it, I read a Slate article titled Bush's Fart-Joke Legacy, which documents that the Leader of the Free World can't get enough of fart jokes, and contains this passage, for example:

Perhaps you are puzzled that the president of the United States would embrace so eagerly a genre of humor that the typical male Homo sapiens stops finding irresistible around the age of 12. But [Carl] Woodward is not the first to report on Bush's fondness for fart jokes, and Bush is not the first member of his family to display this particular affliction.
But guess what? 2000 the Houston Chronicle (according to Texas Monthly's "Bum Steer Awards") mistranslated into Spanish the inaugural theme of President Bush's second gubernatorial term, "Together We Can." Instead of Juntos Podemos, the paper translated the phrase as Juntos Pedemos, which means "Together We Fart."
Attempts to contact members of Consuming Beer, Sausage, and Beans Liberally in Massachussets were unsuccessful.

Originally posted at Blue Mass Group Fri Oct 27, 2006 at 11:58:51 AM EDT

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Centrum

Last night, I was reminded why I'm a Democrat. I worked the DCU center rally in Worcester as a volunteer, and came away with these assorted impressions:

Tim Murray said “Deval Patrick and I aren’t just running for the job, we want to do the work!” (clearly a slap at career opportunist governors of the past and present, and the second-best line of the night).

It seems that only Democrats know what that work really involves any more. Deval says that we don’t have to agree on everything before we can do anything. Bill Clinton didn’t balance the federal budget -- Bill Clinton, working with a Republican-led Congress, balanced the federal budget. Clinton also reminded us more than once that leadership doesn’t come from ideologues who already know the answers, but from listening and arguing based on the evidence.

JFK, from his 1961 inaugural address:

...let us begin anew—remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate. Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us...

Ted Kennedy is not so smooth in front of a crowd these days, but seeing him and hearing him reminded me (as did Bill Clinton and others who spoke) of his astonishing term of service to the country – the last twenty years of it as my senator -- spanning most of my lifetime, and characterized not only by loyalty to his constituency and his principles, but his ability to foster bipartisanship in getting things done.

I remember sitting with my parents in the gallery of the U.S. Senate in December 1963, the nation still in mourning over JFK’s assassination. One after another, the senators gave tribute to the late president; finally, a very young Ted Kennedy – one year into his first term – rose to acknowledge the memorials and give his own. I wish I could remember even a little bit of what he said -- I was eight years old. I just remember the gravity of the moment, and how moved my parents were. As had many of their generation, they had heard JFK say “Ask not…” and taken it to heart.

Two years later, my father had moved the family to Greenville, Mississippi, to work for a civil rights organization. My parents never forgot how, as a U.S. Senator, Robert F. Kennedy was one of the few politicians from Washington to come down to the Mississippi Delta. He didn’t just fly over or pose for pictures; he stood on the porches of shotgun shacks and spoke with real people living on real mud streets, with no schools and no healthcare, until he understood firsthand what it all meant. Another memory I have from those couple of years in the South is of the three portraits it seemed like I saw in a place of honor in every black family’s home: Jesus Christ, Martin Luther King, and John F. Kennedy.

Deval spoke about collecting donations from the well-heeled on the upper floors of fancy buildings in downtown Boston, but then appreciating just as much that each one of the cleaning crew approached him to tell him “I’m with you”.

The sight of Tim Murray on the stage (Deval had to leave early for last night’s debate) alongside Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy suggested a connection between legacy of the Democratic Party and its present and future.


…the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans…unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed…

Clinton talked about the historic opportunity in front of us, and all the speakers talked about what it would take to fulfill it.

Deval Patrick:

I do know the right words, spoken from the heart with conviction, because of a vision of a place just beyond our reach and a faith in the unseen, are a call to action. That's what I'm asking you to do: Take action.


…In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than in mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course.

The chorus of the campaign's theme song asks "What have you done today to make you feel proud?" All I had to do last night was to watch and listen. Beginning today, and for the next two weeks, it's going to take whatever I can give, because of what's at stake.

Originally posted at Blue Mass Group Thu Oct 26, 2006 at 15:52:07 PM EDT

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Any one for trick or treat in Beverly this year?

This year's campaign for governor by Lt. Governor Kerry Healy(R) is widely acknowledged to be the worst Massachusetts has ever seen.
The governor’s race plunged to a new low yesterday as charges flew of beatings, sexist insults and harassment between Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey’s orange-jumpsuit-wearing “Inmates for Deval” and rival Deval Patrick’s camp. Patrick staffers accused the Healey volunteers of taking their protest that he is soft on crime to the doorstep of his campaign manager’s Abington home, frightening the aide’s 12-year-old son...The controversy surrounding the Healey volunteers continued yesterday morning, when two groups of her supporters waved signs outside the South Shore homes of Patrick, who lives in Milton, and his campaign manager, John Walsh of Abington. Rubin said the group frightened Walsh’s 12-year-old son, Coleman, who was home alone and getting ready for school when the “inmates” appeared outside his house. “It would have been nerve-racking for anyone, let alone a 12-year-old,” Rubin said. Asked about the allegations of assault against Patrick’s sign wavers outside Thursday’s debate, the Patrick spokesman said, “I have no knowledge of that, but we would ask any of our supporters to deal respectfully with the other side, even if they don’t get that same kind of respect.” Healey campaign officials denied giving any direct orders to the “inmate” volunteers. But several of the volunteers blamed union correction officers for initiating the violence outside the debate. (Boston Herald, October 21, 2006)
(Originally posted at Blue Mass Group Sun Oct 22, 2006 at 02:06:17 AM EDT)

An Oldie But a Goodie

I was browsing through my record collection (yes, kids, as in vinyl records -- there's a wikipedia entry for that) and look what I found!

Nothing like dusting off those old tunes and playing them over and over again, is there?

(Originally posted at Blue Mass Group on
Tue Oct 10, 2006 at 12:19:32 PM EDT)

A Note of Explanation

Yes, I know; no more blogs are needed in the world. I really only need one because there was no other good way to participate in "Random Flickr Blogging" (explained here), a game my brother invented and hosts on his excellent blog If I Ran the Zoo. Needless to point out, his is the best blog title on the Internet, taken from the title of a Dr. Seuss book. Since that was already taken, I had to sort through a bunch of less-inspiring choices. Either as evidence of a spectacular lack of imagination, or in conceptual solidarity with my brother and in tribute to his wisdom, I kept coming back to Dr. Seuss titles. On Beyond Zebra, written the year I was born, would have been ideal ("Fighting alphabetical fundamentalism since 1955"), but that was taken as well. On Beyond Thnad (Thnad being the last of the imaginary extra letters after Z in On Beyond Zebra)? Arcane and potentially incomprehensible and/or unpronounceable.

Dr. Seuss' third book (1939), after And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street and The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, is The King's Stilts. Not quite the anapestic orgy of his later works, it's a mixture of prose and rhyme. Like many of his books, there's allegory aplenty, intended or imagined. This time the themes are: Authoritarian resentment of pleasure; the interdependence of seemingly unrelated elements in sustaining a precarious world, and the consequences of reckless, short-sighted disregard of that interdependence; the role of leisure in a balanced life; humility, loyalty, etc., etc.

Anyway, I'm choosing to identify with all of that, and the title wasn't already taken, so...