Saturday, September 24, 2005

Kheart's rally pics: Salt Lake City

In Salt Lake City an estimated 3000 - 3500 marched against the war on this National Day of Protest. Mayor Rocky Anderson gave a great speech.

More rally coverage

...while I wait for more first person accounts to come in (send them to howardempowered at

From Democratic Underground:
More Protest Photos

Pictures and live blogging from the Democracy Cell Project here.

Brad Blog has videos of the speeches by Cindy Sheehan, George Galloway, Rep. Cynthia McKinney, and Rev. Jesse Jackson.

And still more rally pictures from DC Indymedia.

Rally report from California

Somewhere between 200 and 250 people at the march; LOTS of positive honks, waves, thumbs-up and so forth; almost no (I only observed 2 in 2.5 hours) contrary voices raised by passers-by.

Alan in Fresno

Do you have a rally report to share? Send it to howardempowered at

On The Big March

From: "Zwarich" (
Subject: Re: [MPC] Mainstream Press is Reporting it: Anti-War MajorityDate September 24, 2005 12:20.47PM
Considering 'Mass Actions' in the Cold, Hard Light of 'Scientific' Reality

Thanks to Mark H for posting his thoughts (copied entirely below) in anticipation of today's events. I hoped that a constructive consideration of Mark's comments might be of interest to folks on other list-serves that are, like MPC, keenly focused around an anti-war perspective.

It is early Saturday morning and I am eager for the sun to rise. It's already 7:30 in DC, and I'm imagining the nervous anticipation among the many who worked so long and so hard to make this day unfold in DC according to their will.

I thought of going. I have in-laws I could bunk-up with about an hour out of DC. But the gas alone would cost almost $300, and even the bus is what, $100 or so? Four days solid sitting on a bus, (it's right at 48 solid hours round trip), would mean another $50 to $100 eating highway fast food.

I've thought of going to each of the seven or eight (I've lost the exact count) 'major national mass actions' we've 'held' now since the first in October 2002. I attended three of them, two in NY and one in DC, because they roughly coincided with my own travel schedule, but I've passed on the others, and tried to learn what I can from the experience by avidly sampling the effects that our 'mass actions' have on the grass roots of the citizenry, the 'mainstream citizenry', out here in the day to day 'real world'.

My experience has been that our 'mass actions' are virtually ignored by the mainstream media, and amount to distressingly little more than a large 'celebration among the choir'. Since the definition of these media as 'mainstream' derives from the fact that they are the primary conduit to the attention of the mainstream of the general citizenry, if our 'mass actions' are ignored by the mainstream media, they are not likely to make much of an impression on the mainstream consciousness.

But THIS TIME might be different. Sheehan's efforts were spectacularly successful in forcing the media to point their cameras and microphones at her. Maybe that will carry over. We'll see. I'm excited to find out, and wish the sun would rise and the day would unfold.

I remain concerned, however, that we often make the mistake, (as Mark seems to have made in his comments), of assuming that the powerful message that Sheehan has delivered to 'us', (to 'the choir'), in the 'underground', or 'independent', (or whatever we want to call it), Internet Press, has also been delivered to the people whose only impressions of Sheehan are those they get from mainstream media.

Sheehan accomplished a brilliant flanking maneuver and caught them up in their own game, ('hoist in their own petard' is an old expression that pertains here), but they not only absorbed the blow, they were already steadily and patiently using their power to communicate (The Means of Communication are the means of power) to turn the tables on Cindy, when Katrina hit. We 'had them where we want them' for a few brief days, but even so, they were already starting to play their skillful tune, through the media they own and control, when a 'new subject' came up to divert everyone's attention entirely.

We can rail all we want against their 'swift boat' tactics, but the truth is that they are very effective. (Another truth is that they are also sometimes true. Much of what the actual 'swift boat veterans' were saying about Kerry was actually true, and his disingenuous denials only emboldened the 'swift boaters' in their own sense of 'righteousness' in stretching the truth themselves). Another truth is that another 'new subject' ALWAYS comes along, and when you 'own the press', you control which stories 'get written', (and about what). (If only some celebrity would murder his wife again, they could go full bore into 'hog heaven' mode).

Mark cannot restrain himself from interpreting polls in a manner that is most advantageously flattering to his position. This is very counterproductive to his own cause. Any competent officer knows that to interpret intelligence in any manner except through the cold hard eyes of scientific skepticism is to invite disaster. Many an army has suffered severe loss (or even annihilation) because they interpreted information according to what they WANTED to hear, as opposed to considering it in the glaring light on no-nonsense reality.

Opinion polls are what they are. They give us a certain amount of information that is very useful in real but distinctly limited ways. We will be led astray in our assumptions unless we consider this poll information carefully. Mark's assumption, when he says that:

" Of course, don't hold your breath in terms of seeing any great coverage for the big protests tomorrow, but they are at least communicating that the populace as a whole has had it with the war. "

..he is making an unfounded claim that the 'mass demonstration' speaks for the percentage of the populace that he (falsely) interprets the polls to have reported that they "have had it with this war". This demonstrates a very poor understanding of the nature of polls. All that these polls tell us is that a certain percentage among a completely random sample of individuals who are interrupted from their daily life as 'Americans' to answer certain questions that the pollster has devised, answered those questions in the manner that the poll reports. Mark is representing that a majority have answered 'yes' when asked 'have you 'had it' with this war'? If you look at the specificity of the polls themselves, at the actual questions asked, you will see that this is not the case.

I have presented this argument in the past, and it is tiresome that we have to keep coming back to the same place over and over, but this is the result we have when we decline to discuss these subjects with any sincere purpose in order to build our own understanding. Rather than challenge each other to defend our arguments, in a reasoned exchange, we are inclined instead to ignore each other, and even to scold others for taking the time to present their thoughts via this powerful technology. Or else, of course, we are innclined to play our favorite game, and 'put down' people who say things we don't like. If we don't like the message, we attack the messenger, rather than de-construct the message with our own Resaon.

Anyway...I will watch eagerly today to gauge the impact of today's 'mass action'. With the stark fact in mind that even if each and every 100,000 attendees spent only $50 on this action, (I personally think $100 is more realistic, but let's say $50), that is $5 MILLION dollars per each and very 100,000 attendees. Say the organizers claim, (after the fact), that 600,000 attended. Well, if you assume, for the sake of analysis, that half, or 300,000 traveled some long distance to attend, (and spent $50 to do so), then this 'mass action' cost $15 MILLION dollars to stage, before we even talk about the organizational costs themselves. If you plug in $100 in travel expense per attendee who traveled, that is $30 MILLION dollars.

Whatever numbers you plug in, it is obvious that we are investing a huge degree of resources into these 'mass actions'.

Are they worth it? THAT's the most relevant question, and it is the VERY one that those who organize 'mass actions', (mass actions are their 'rice bowl', as it were), are most eager to ignore.

Whether or not 'mass actions' are 'worth their cost' is really not so easy to determine. If I were a polling company I could try to measure the efficacy of a 'mass action' by conducting a poll after the fact. (I wonder how much it costs to hire a polling company to run a national poll? Does anybody know?)

1000 is the 'magic number' in polling. 1000 is the sweet-spot of 'sample size'. Extensive experiments have been conducted (for decades) that have thoroughly shown that once you get near the 1000 sample size, increasing the sample size does not increase the accuracy of the poll. A poll of 20 people is MUCH more accurate than a poll of five, and a poll of 100 is much more accurate than one of 20, but when you get to 1000, a sample size of 10,000, or 10,000,000, is not appreciably more accurate in scientific terms. I could call 1000 American citizens at random and ask, 'What did you think of the big demonstration?'And the answers they had to choose from could be a) what demonstration?; b) it pissed me off c), I supported it, etc etc, and so on, and if I had an agenda, I coulds skew the poll by asking the 'right questions', (or asking them in the right way). I could ask other questions as well, such as, Did you think that the speakers at the rally reflected your point of view? Do you wish you could have attended? Did you think that most of the signs that you saw demonstrators carrying expressed how you feel about the war Etc? Etc? But THE most basic and important question would be, 'Were you even aware that the 'big demonstration' happened? a) yes, or b) no.

To sink tens of millions of dollars into a demonstration that would communicate a powerful message to tens of millions among the citizenry would, at some level, be worth it'. Say you spend $30 million, (which is a very realistic figure), and then by your poll you learn that you communicated with 30 million people. That might very well be 'worth it'. (A dollar a pop). But if that $30 million only reached 5 million with your message, that is $6 a pop. Is it still 'worth it'?

If we were to look at the field of 'mass communications' as a science, and apply what we know and can observe, to learn more, (which we will then apply to learn even more, which is how this thing called 'science' works), we could evaluate the efficacy of 'mass actions', compare them to the efficacy of say, 'signature ads in newspapers', or 'distribution of video through email', or 'TV advertising', or many other vehicles of communication we might think up. If we discovered that we could get better penetration per dollar, (access people's attention at $.10 a pop say), then we might think we are being foolish to continue to sink resources where they are doing little, or less, good.

Take a signature add for example. If we spend $25,000 to buy a full page in a paper that has a circulation of 350,000, our ad would have to be seen by 4167 people to match the $6 per pop of our theoretical analysis of our 'mass action' reaching 5 million people for $30 million. If our ad 'talks to' 25,000 people (out of the total circulation of 350,000), that matches the 'pop' of our mass action reaching 30 million for $30 million. One dollar a pop.

And so on...If an ad on the Super Bowl costs two million per minute, then we could buy 15 minutes with the $30 million we chose instead to invest in our 'mass action'. Hmmm... 15 minutes on the Super Bowl, (hefted carefully in one hand), compared with the impact we are going to get from today's 'mass action', (hefted in the other). Hmmm...

'Hefting' is not scientific sampling, of course, but common sense decrees that putting our message on a program that is watched by hundreds of millions of Americans is going to 'reach' a significant number of them. We could measure that number, compare it with our measurements of how many are going to be 'reached' by today's 'mass action', (for the same cost), and have some REAL information to use, rather than fantasmagoric rhetoric and wishful thinking. We could then use this 'real information' as the basis for our decisions and judgments about how and where we should spend our resources and time.

(Again, this is called 'science', and it is a method that has been used with much success, including by our opponents).

But we don't do that. We just do what we WANT to do, and bend the facts at our whim and capricious will to conform to what we WANT to believe. (Desire gloats as it proves yet again that Reason is no match for its power.

There is much with which I enthusiastically and wholeheartedly agree in Mark's analysis. When he says that:

" Our other task is one of getting to the roots. We need to make it as clear as we possibly can, to as many people as we possibly can, including all those within anti-war ranks, that the Iraq War is a symptom, not a disease. This is a matter of getting the populace to understand the nature of the situation. We need to be calling U.S. foreign policy by its rightful name: imperialism. We must work to facilitate a true paradigm shift, moving our country away in as thoroughgoing fashion as possible from the role of globaldominator."

....he is making a very eloquent statement of a message that I could not possibly agree with more enthusiastically. But he is giving us a message with no media through which to communicate it to the mainstream citizenry. A message with no media simply has no power. (My basic thesis here).

Rather than look at our predicament through the hard and calculatingly disciplined eyes of Reality, he would rather look at objective data, such as polling information, and bend it into an interpretation that is favorable to him, but is just NOT supported by actual facts.

There has simply been no indication yet that a majority of Americans are even aware enough of the real issues on the ground in Iraq to have arrived at any significant conclusion. Approximately half still believe that Hussein was behind 9/11, etc, etc....Americans simply do not like to hear about losing, and it is becoming more apparent that we are indeed losing. If the US captured bin Laden, and a new constitution was passed in Iraq, such a 'one two' punch would likely cause the polls to spike back in favor of the war. That is the nature of capricious public opinion. It was only just ast March that the purple fingers we saw at every angle had many people who had opposed the war saying, "maybe Bush was right".

Perhaps Mark's most powerful statement is that:

" Large demonstrations will help get attention, but we also need to work on creating a climate in which opinion leaders--clergy, academics, elected officials, labor activists, community leaders, etc.--will take principled anti-war stands. We must expand our grassroots organizing and bring more people into our ranks, and then mobilize them to go out and reach the people their lives touch. We need to encourage anti-war people to run for office at all levels, and especially to challenge those in Congress who support the war. We need to encourage candidates running for office to make unequivocal their opposition to the war, and to support withdrawal, not a "negotiate now" or a "set the date" position."

But here he is indulging himself in empty self-serving rhetoric with phrases like: 'expand our grassroots organizing', or 'mobilize (people) to go out and reach the people their lives touch'.

This is the same old tired, (long-tried and long-proven to be woefully ineffective), strategy of 'word of mouth', face to face, 'organizing'. The general population is highly and intensely focused on the most powerful Means of Communication that have ever existed, and our 'best idea' is to 'organize' people to attend our 'mass actions' that most people don't even know about after they happen, and then to talk to their friends and neighbors.

We gotta do better than that, guys. Believe me, if we expect to win, (as i absoluterly DO!), we just GOTTA do better than that. It's just that simple.
We've already been following Mark's 'program' since the sixties, folks. That's almost forty years, and all the while we've been doing this, we've watched the right wing grow in power. How has the right wing grown in power? By analyzing what works and what doesn't, and doing what works after discarding what doesn't. What do we do? We do what we WANT to do, with no attention paid to whether or not it is actually 'working'.

Anyway...I'm excited about this day. I am hopeful that Sheehan's success will be translated into more attention given to this 'action'. So I'll watch and see. How serious are these rumors of planned nvcd? (non-violent civil disobedience). That could be VERY interesting.

Let's watch and see. Let's report back tomorrow.

Mid-Missouri Peaceworks
Sent: Friday, September 23, 2005 6:21 PM
Subject: [MPC] Mainstream Press is Reporting it: Anti-War Majority

Hello friends,
As activists from all over the country converge on Washington, and communities everywhere are holding demonstrations in solidarity, at least some segments of the mainstream media are reporting what all the polls are saying, that opposition to the war is now a majority sentiment. I found the on-line post by Dan Froomkin and its links, sent by my friend Catherine, to be interesting and worth the read.
What may be as interesting as the content is the source, The links are also all to very mainstream sources, USA Today, NYT and LA Times. The establishment press, which functioned as a servile stenographer for Bush and Company's war-justifying lies and fear mongering, is now, many tens of thousands of deaths later, whistling a different tune. Of course, don't hold your breath in terms of seeing any great coverage for the big protests tomorrow, but they are at least communicating that the populace as a whole has had it with the war. This, at least, is good.

While we still have many people to reach, the real challenge for us in the movement today is not simply convincing people to oppose the war. There are, rather, in my opinion, two critical tasks for the movement.

First we need to empower the majority sentiment so that we can actually get our government to abandon their failed imperial adventure in Iraq. This is no small task given that not only the vast majority of Republicans, but also very many of the so-called "opposition" Democrats who back the war and support its objectives.
Large demonstrations will help get attention, but we also need to work on creating a climate in which opinion leaders--clergy, academics, elected officials, labor activists, community leaders, etc.--will take principled anti-war stands. We must expand our grassroots organizing and bring more people into our ranks, and then mobilize them to go out and reach the people> their lives touch. We need to encourage anti-war people to run for office at all levels, and especially to challenge those in Congress who support the war. We need to encourage candidates running for office to make > unequivocal their opposition to the war, and to support withdrawal, not a "negotiate now" or a "set the date" position.

Our other task is one of getting to the roots. We need to make it as clear as we possibly can, to as many people as we possibly can, including all those within anti-war ranks, that the Iraq War is a symptom, not a disease. This is a matter of getting the populace to understand the nature of the situation. We need to be calling U.S. foreign policy by its rightful name: imperialism. We must work to facilitate a true paradigm shift, moving our country away in as thoroughgoing fashion as possible from the role of global dominator.

For many decades there has been a bipartisan consensus that it is an appropriate role for the United States to have global military hegemony, to maintain a vast network of military facilities on every continent, to station U.S. forces on every ocean, and in the skies everywhere. For far too long we've let our so-called leaders hoodwink us into worrying about a nascent WMD program somewhere in the less developed world, while virtually forgetting the existence of the vast, unrivaled arsenal in the hands of the Pentagon. Far too few people are asking why the United States, with 4.5 percent of the world's people, spends 48 percent of the world's military expenditures, or questions why our government is moving full speed ahead to weaponize space and dominate the so-called "high frontier."

It is essential for us in the movement to be asking these questions. The > NYT and Washington Post won't do it for us.
With prayers for all those in harm's way--those with a massive hurricanebearing down on them, as well as those facing the bombs and bullets--I wish you all well. I hope to see many of you who are here in mid-Missouri at the big Rally & March Saturday (1 p.m., Peace Park). I hope the rest of you are either on your way to Washington or hooking up with folks in your area to make some noise.
All the best,Mark Haim

Can You Marginalize a Majority?
By Dan Froomkin

804-C E. Broadway
Columbia, MO 65201
Web site:
"Dissent is the highest form of patriotism" --Thomas Jefferson

Cindy Sheehan's speech, 9/24

I've been checking around the blogs for any first hand reports from the rally in D.C. I haven't found any of those yet, but I *have* found Cindy Sheehan's speech, which is currently at the top position on the recommended diary list over at Kos.

Here is an excerpt:

We as a young colony of Great Britain broke from another tyrant, King George the Third. Well, I wish our George the Third were here today to see us out here in force protesting against his war and against his murderous policies. George is not here, though, because he is out galavanting around the country somewhere pretending that he cares about the people who are in the path of hurricane Rita. We know that he cares nothing for the people of America: Katrina, Iraq, and his idiotic response to 9/11 are evidence of that. He is just out and about play-acting like a President whose country is in crisis just like he pretends to be a Commander in Chief and a Cowboy (I wonder if before he took off to Texas or Colorado or wherever he went, he watched a movie like Independence Day to see how that other fake president acted?). The reason he is out today is that his handlers told him that he got a little flak for playing golf and eating birthday cake with Senator Me Cain while some of his employers were hanging off rooftops and treetops in New Orleans. He swaggers around arrogantly like he is a macho dictatorial tyrant who doesn't have to answer to his employers, the people of the United States of America. Those days are over George, we are here today to tell you that we are a majority and we will never rest until you bring our young people home from the Middle East and until you start putting money into rebuilding OUR communities: the ones natural disasters destroy with your help, and the ones which your callous and racist war economy are decimating. We won't allow you to take anymore money out of social programs to finance Halliburton to rebuild the Gulf States: there is no money. Our bank account is empty. George, this is our rainy day and you have failed us miserably. Stop pouring money into the pockets of the war profiteers and into building permanent bases in Iraq . It is time to bring our billions of dollars home from Iraq too!!!

Read the rest of Cindy's speech here. If you'd like to have your own firsthand rally report featured here, you can send it, along with pictures if you have any--to howardempowered at
Update--I've been told that Cindy is up next on C-SPAN. Right now Evelyn Harris is leading the crowd in singing "Down by the Riverside".

Cruise report from Jo*in*Vermont

Looks like today will be a day to experience things vicariously--so many people are in D.C. for the big rally, or are attending local rallies closer to home. I look forward to hearing first hand accounts and seeing pictures. Also, in the overnight thread, we had a DFA Fall Cruise report from Jo*in*Vermont:

... the cruise was beautiful! clear as a bell, nice sunset, windy with some good rollers, but not too cold.

I met Lynn in Cincy! she was having a great time and I got a great photo of her with Paul Hackett! it was tough getting photos on the boat because the sun was so bright and at such an angle you were either in too much light or too much shadow - wish I'd brought my 35mm too!

it was great, they had a lot more folks show up than they expected! Maria, Paul and Jim spoke well. Big thanks to DFA and the blogs from Maria and Paul. Paul laughed and said who would have thought when he got home from Iraq that just 5 months later he would be here in Vermont - and that everyone he has met so far had donated to his campaign in Ohio!

Thank you for that report, Jo. And a belated Happy Birthday to Lynn--the cruise must have made it a memorable one!

(Yesterday was also Bruce Springstein's birthday, FYI.)

Friday, September 23, 2005

Message from the National Nurse Team

The following is a guest entry from Teri Mills

Read Teri's Proposal at and then....

As many of you know, the National Nurse Team has been working with nursing leaders in Congress for a bill. Representative Lois Capps (D-CA) has taken the lead and her staff spoke with us a few weeks ago, stating that the bill was headed to Legislative Counsel. We are asking Congress to create an Office of the National Nurse to focus on providing all Americans with preventive health care resources.

The Office of the National Nurse would provide Americans with the tools to prevent disease and effectively manage chronic illness thereby reducing utilization of health care resources. The National Nurse will oversee state coordinators who will assemble volunteer nurse teams to provide screening, education and referral services in their communities. The office is necessary to acknowledge the critical role nurses play in hands-on patient care and education.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." Howard Dean used these exact words when he announced his presidency in June 2003. Each of us can make a difference to help move the bill for a National Nurse forward. Please email Representative Capps’ office at or if you prefer, call Rose Gonzales, the Government Relations Specialist at the American Nurses Association (301-628-5000).

Please tell Representative Capps and Rose Gonzales The Office of the National Nurse will serve to:

1. Focus Americans on preventive health practices.

2. Focus on reducing health care costs through prevention and education.

3. Complement government services already in place; help prioritize and deliver the health agenda to the nation.

4. Provide a trusted unified source for people to consult first when considering options for addressing their wellness needs.

5. Involve entire communities because nurses in the community they live in will provide services.

6. Continue the collaborative work nurses do with physicians and other health care providers in individual settings on a community and national level.

7. Develop National Nurse teams to serve as prepared volunteer groups in emergency situations.

8. Demonstrate the value of education as an important intervention to help decrease health care costs.

9. Focus national attention on the value of nursing; inspire entry into nursing careers, and enhance the value of practicing nurses.

10. Attract nurses to become educators by demonstrating teaching in action.

I would appreciate hearing the result of your call and/or email. You can reach me at

Florence Nightingale declared, “I think one’s feelings waste themselves in words; they ought all to be distilled into actions which bring results.”

Teri Mills, RN
Terri Polick, RN
Alisa Schneider, RN
The National Nurse Team

Things that make you go "Hmmmm"

FDA head Lester Crawford has resigned. Crawford declined to elaborate about the conditions surrounding his departure, calling it a "personnel issue." Crawford has been in the position since July and his tenure has been marked by controversy, including delays on the approval of the morning-after pill; whether the agency had acted quickly enough to warn the public of the dangers of Vioxx and Zoloft; and most recently, the resignation of the director of the FDA's Office of Women's Health over the approval delays of the morning-after pill.

In keeping with the Bush Administration's preference for appointing highly-qualified people to top posts, Crawford was a veterinarian who specialized in food safety.

H.R. 3763, the bill to overturn the Gulf Coast Wage Cut, is sponsored by Rep. George Miller. To date, all but 13 House Democrats have co-sponsored the bill. Do any of the following Democrats represent you? If so, you may want to call their office and ask why they haven't gotten behind this bill.

1. Mr. Sanford D. Bishop Jr. of Georgia
2. Mr. Dan Boren of Oklahoma
3. Mr. Rick Boucher of Virginia
4. Mr. Allen Boyd of Florida
5. Mr. Robert E. "Bud" Cramer Jr. of Alabama
6. Mr. Henry Cuellar of Texas
7. Mr. Lincoln Davis of Tennessee
8. Mr. Bob Etheridge of North Carolina
9. Mr. Mike McIntyre of North Carolina
10. Ms. Cynthia McKinney of Georgia
11. Mr. John M. Spratt Jr. of South Carolina
12. Mr. John S. Tanner of Tennessee
13. Mr. Melvin L. Watt of North Carolina

The number of Republicans who have signed on? Zero.
(Thanks to Josh Marshall)

More Josh Marshall:

For all of us who criticize from the sidelines, sometimes it's hard to appreciate the sort of tireless, behind-the-scenes efforts that the White House puts into into screwing the middle class and abandoning those displaced and uprooted by Katrina.

[According to the LA Times,] Two days after Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast, the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced plans to issue emergency vouchers aimed at helping poor storm victims find new housing quickly by covering as much as $10,000 of their rent.

But the department suddenly backed away from the idea after White House aides met with senior HUD officials. Although emergency vouchers had been successfully used after the 1994 Northridge earthquake, the administration focused instead on a plan for government-built trailer parks, an approach that even many Republicans say would concentrate poverty in the very fashion the government has long sought to avoid.

Asks Josh, "...isn't the idea of giving rent vouchers to refugees rather than stacking them up in mobile housing projects something that folks on both sides of the aisle should be able to agree on?"

I think that's a no-brainer.

After making such a big deal about "having learned his lesson," Bush was headed to Texas to oversee things (is that like clearing brush on his "ranch"?) but canceled those plans, saying he did not want to get in the way of preparations and Rita's changing path. So instead he's off to Colorado to "monitor the situation." I'm sure there are sighs of relief being heaved deep in the heart of Texas.

The NY Times reports that "federal prosecutors contacted Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's office about his sale of stock in HCA Inc., the hospital operating company founded by his family. The Securities and Exchange Commission began an investigation, too, and prosecutors asked HCA to turn over documents about the transaction."

According to Kos, we've got ourselves a trifecta: "The Republican leadership in the Senate, House and White House are ALL officially under investigation."

Also from Kos, some of life's perplexing questions:

If Karl Rove is in charge of reconstruction in the Gulf coast, why is he fundraising in North Dakota--on the same day Rita is due to make landfall?

If the non-partisan GAO and the partisan OMB have a staring contest, who do you think will win?

Who's the bigger spendthrift--LBJ or GWB?

Now for your after-dinner enjoyment, the comedy stylings of Bill "Billy" O'Reilly:

Independents swung the 2004 election for Bush.
Republicans don't control the judicial branch.
Uses sleight of hand to defend Bush's economic records.
Claims Iraqi oil success story.

(Courtesy of

Could Annette Bening become the next first lady of Colly-for-nee-ah? Maybe so. The London Times reports that "Warren Beatty is considering a challenge to Arnold Schwarzenegger for the governorship of California next year."

If this actually happens, I'd like to get Warren to autograph a copy of "Bulworth" for Howard and I think it would be very cool if Howard made a campaign appearance for him.

Can the Dean-inspired network pull this off? Stay tuned.

Friday Comics

Roberts Backup
Bagged & Tagged
Elephant In The Room
Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Hurricane Scream
Washed Up
Glass Half-Empty...
...Or Half-Full
Planning Ahead
Stating The Obvious
Grey Poupon
Potemkin Presidency
Red State Wake-Up Call
Trapped In The Closet
Birth Tax
The Other Shoe

And my favorite for today: Bush/Cheney '04

'Cause I wanted to, that's why.

Howard Dean at Stubbs BBQ--DeanFest 2005 Posted by Picasa

Just trying out "Hello" which you can use to post pictures from your computer directly onto Blogger. This is my favorite picture of all the ones Demetrius took in Austin this summer. Here's the diary, in case you didn't see it when I first posted it.

Our DeanFest Diary (Boxed Set)

Also, here is my write-up of the main forum I attended when I was there:
Religion, Democracy, and the Common Good

TGIF, people, TGIF

There's lots of interesting news today. On the heels of the 3 Democrats voting with Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee to confirm John Roberts, comes the news that scientists doubt the existence of Democrats.

With President George W. Bush's approval ratings plummeting in recent weeks, the inability on the part of Democrats to capitalize on the president's waning fortunes has caused some leading scientists to postulate that the Democratic Party may not exist at all.

And what does this mean for our fearless leader?

"I've discussed the Howard Dean phenomenon with my colleagues," Dr. Drazin said. "And it's the consensus of the scientific community that there is no logical explanation for Howard Dean."


Atrios was in DC recently, testifying to the Committee on House Administration, headed by Bob Ney, on regulating internet speech:

Basically where we are is that the FEC is at the tail-end of a rulemaking process, which I testified for previously, regarding regulating political speech on the internet which they were forced to do by a judge. It's unclear, however, why they have yet to actually issue their ruling. It's possible they're dragging their feet either because they want and/or expect congress to intervene in some fashion nullifying anything they do, or because they're waiting for a ruling on the standing of those who filed the lawsuit which led to them being forced to do something (they didn't appeal the ruling itself, but if it's determined that there's a issue with the standing the ruling could be chucked out anyway).

The Associated Press put its own spin on the hearing:

The FEC, in its initial rules, had exempted the Internet. Bloggers told the Committee on House Administration that regulations encompassing the Internet, even ones just on advertising, would have a chilling effect on free speech. The FEC vice chairman also questioned the necessity of any rules.

Atrios: I don't remember either of us saying anything of the sort. (He was testifying along with Mike Krempasky of Red State.)

Stay tuned.

Remember those issues of class and race that Katrina exposed, which were promptly denied by BushCo? Well, Rita is going to remind them:

HOUSTON Sep 22, 2005 — Wilma Skinner would like to scream at the officials of this city. If only someone would pick up their phone.

"I done called for a shelter, I done called for help. There ain't none. No one answers," she said, standing in blistering heat outside a check-cashing store that had just run out of its main commodity. "Everyone just says, 'Get out, get out.' I've got no way of getting out. And now I've got no money."

With Hurricane Rita breathing down Houston's neck, those with cars were stuck in gridlock trying to get out. Those like Skinner poor, and with a broken-down car were simply stuck, and fuming at being abandoned, they say."

All the banks are closed and I just got off work," said Thomas Visor, holding his sweaty paycheck as he, too, tried to get inside the store, where more than 100 people, all of them black or Hispanic, fretted in line. "This is crazy. How are you supposed to evacuate a hurricane if you don't have money? Answer me that?"

And the news keeps coming about Jack Abramoff. Today's Washington Post carried this little headline on page A6: Tyco Exec: Abramoff Claimed Ties To Administration. The Tyco executive in question is general counsel Timothy E. Flanigan--whom Bush nominated to be Deputy Attorney General after his tenure as General Counsel, where he sought a way for the company to avoid paying taxes.

More news asbout Flanigan courtesy of MyDD commenter tommywonk: "Flanigan worked in the White House with Alberto Gonzales in 2001 and 2002. He went to work for Tyco in November, 2002 (after former CEO and now convicted felon, Dennis Kozlowski had left the company). Flanigan hired Abramoff to lobby the federal government to allow Tyco to compete for government contracts even though the company is domiciled in Bermuda to avoid paying taxes. And now he is President Sluggo's nominee to the post of deputy attorney general."

If you're concerned about Bush passively running this country into the ground, rest assured. He's actively running the country into the ground.

Why is Wesley Clark trying to keep Democrats from speaking out in favor of withdrawal from Iraq?

LoBiondo & Davis-Bacon: Why just 60 days? asks Josh Marshall. Apparently Rep. LoBiondo's letter doesn't really ask Bush to call it off. The letter, which is supposedly going to be released today, asks for him to leave it in place for no more than sixty days. What is up with that?

Think Progress reports that the FTC head overseeing the Katrina gas-gouging probe was a lawyer for Chevron. Just another exampleof Bush getting by with a little help from his friends.

The House has ok'd a bill that “lets churches and other faith-based preschool centers hire only people who share their religion, yet still receive federal tax dollars,” according to an AP story.

As a public school parent, this tickles my funny bone. The Republicans are afraid that kids will become independent thinkers in the public schools so they want to start indoctrinating them early.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Open Thread

Since we're up to 100 comments, I thought I should put a new thread up before going to sleep. If you haven't checked out Street Prophets yet, there's a lot of good stuff there. I definitely need to find time to read more the diaries over there. Here's the compline for Thursday night, in which musin85 attempts to do a Taize prayer service online. In my optical illusions diary over there, I've added a few more reversible images in the comments. By the way, thank you to jc for creating the "cheat sheets" to help people see the father and son in the image I posted earlier.

Terri in Tokyo has a diary at Kos, Congressional Black Caucus - Derelicts and the Honor Roll. Go show it some love, why don'tcha.

I, like many people here, will not be able to make it to the rally in Washington D.C. this weekend. I hope that some of you who do attend will share your stories and pictures with us. We'd love it if you would send those first person accounts, or any front page story submissions, to howardempowered at

Finally, prayers, positive energy, and general well-wishing going out to all who are in the path of Hurricane Rita.

Life lessons from an optical illusions web site

Crossposted at Street Prophets: Faith and Politics

First of all, I'd like to thank Pastor Dan for inviting me to be one of the front page posters at here at Street Prophets. I only hope I can prove worthy of the honor. I've already told a little bit about myself here in the Speaking in Tongues diary.

The other day, when Pastor Dan wrote the introductory diary on Daily Kos in which he listed me as one of the front page posters, I started trying to think of what I could write about. But I found myself unable to devote much attention to that question, because I was so focused on starting off the new quarter on a positive note. Last night I taught my first psych class of the fall quarter, and now I have my topic for my first Street Prophets diary.

Optical illusions.

I bet you didn't see *that* coming.

I have been teaching psychology courses on a part time basis for almost ten years. Pretty early on, I discovered that some classes were really involved and engaged, and we could have really great discussions. In other classes, it was almost impossible to get students to talk. Present a question for discussion, and I'd be met with prolonged, awkward silence. And once I had a room full of zipped lips for the first couple class meetings of the quarter, it seemed there was very little I could do to turn things around.

One thing I've found is that getting the students actually *talking* about something fun and interesting on the first day was a good way to set the tone and create a classroom atmosphere where students were *willing* to speak up. Back when I first started student teaching in graduate school (a lifetime ago!) I asked a more experienced student teacher for suggestions. She said that she has students introduce themselves on the first day of class, and, in addition to asking them to give their name and major, she asks them each to share something interesting about themselves.

But you know what I've discovered? People actually find that to be an intimidating question. "Something interesting about me? No, there's nothing interesting about me." Sure there is! But a lot of students had a really hard time answering that question. Maybe they thought it would sound like boasting, or maybe that's just a difficult question for people to answer about themselves. It's a lot easier, I suppose, to pinpoint what's interesting about another person. Whatever the reason, I realized that just wasn't going to be a good way to break the ice at the beginning of the quarter.

Finally, after lots of trial and error, I hit upon an idea. What if, instead saving the fun optical illusions web site for the chapter on Sensation and Perception, I moved that to the first day of the quarter? Eureka! That was it!

Here's the site. There are all kinds of optical illusions on that site, but what I have students focus on are the images that can be seen two different ways. The most famous of these reversible images is probably the face-vase image seen here.

Can you see the vase in the center? Now can you shift your perspective and see two faces? That's one of the easier ones. A lot of the reversible images on that site are trickier. Like this one--can you see both the father (old man) and the son (young man)?

That one, like some others on the site, can be a little trickier. Some people can look and look, but only be able to see one or the other. I instruct the students not to give up--don't move on until you can see the image both ways. If necessary--and it usually is--ask a neighbor for help. What follows is always fun to watch...

"I see the young man, but not the old man."
"Here it is" this is his nose, here's his mouth..."
"I'm still not seeing it..."
"Here's his eye, and his eyebrow..."
"I'm still not--Wait! Oh my gosh! I see it!!"

After the students finish looking at all of the images, I ask them what they think the lesson was supposed to be. Some common responses:

--take a closer look
--things aren't always what they seem/there's more than one way to look at things
--don't give up too easily. Keep trying, and you'll get it

There are many potential lessons to be learned, and they are all valid. But I have two lessons that are my favorites, because I think they convey things that are pretty important in life, but do so in a nonthreatening context.

First, sometimes you'll "get it" easily, and sometimes you'll struggle. If you're having a hard time "getting it", it's perfectly okay to say so and ask for help. It doesn't make you any less smart or talented than other people; it just means that *this time* you're feeling stuck or confused, and you could use some help figuring things out. Next time you could be the one who "gets it", and will be able to help someone else.

Secondly, very often in life there is more than one valid way to look at a situation. But sometimes we get so emotionally invested in proving that *our* way is right, that we're not even willing to *consider* that there could be another way of looking at the picture...much less actually *trying* to shift our perspective and see things another way. Of course, with these images, we know going into the exercise that there *are* two "correct" ways of seeing them, so shifting perspectives in this case isn't risky or threatening. But still, there's something very satisfying--and very hopeful--about hearing people say, even in this small way: "I don't understand, but I want to. Help me see what this looks like from your perspective."

Protect Those Tax Cuts!

Is it possible to become any angrier?

Bush and the Congressional Republicans have refused to consider rolling back the $336 billion in new tax cuts that the richest 1% are due to get over the next 5 years. For all their talk about sacrifice, they won't ask the rich to sacrifice anything to help pay for reconstruction but what they will do is cut spending massively. This includes cutting quality of life programs for the military--including health care. During war time. While seriously injured troops are trying to figure out how to put their lives back together after they've lost a limb or suffered some other disfiguring injury.

Support our troops, my ass.

And because everything has to have a name, the SOBs have called this "Operation Offset." They are asking troops to "accept reduced health care benefits for their families." Additionally, "the stateside system of elementary and secondary schools for military family members could be closed." In the past, this idea "has faced strong opposition from parents of children attending the schools because public schools [in and around bases] are seen as offering lower-quality education."

I'll never forget the day after Election Day. I walked into daycare to see one of our providers cheering Bush's reelection with another parent. A military parent. I sure hope he's happy now.

Sirota has the rest. I need to go have some scream therapy or something.

Thursday Comics

Aggressive Campaigning
Supply & Demand
Shaken, Not Stirred
Those People
Top Priority
Stuck On Stupid
Going For Broke
Cost-Benefit Analysis
No More Hurricanes
Damned If You Do
Pledge of Allegiance
And The Twins

And my favorite for today: Clothed In Integrity

Congress: House of Games

I thought David Mamet's movie "House of Games" (1987) was intriguing. Anything Mamet does involves some sort of con, either literally or figuratively. In "House of Games," the con is literal and begins with a poker game that sets the tone for the rest of the movie. The stakes get higher and higher but no one leaves. It's not that the best hand necessarily wins; you could have a bad hand but if you play your cards right, you could win it all. In poker, it's not what you do, it's the way that you do it. It's called a "tell," a small giveaway look or gesture that poker players use to read the minds of their opponents.

In an op-ed in today's LA Times, Mamet uses poker as an analogy and the Democrats are patsies. In poker, the only way to win is to take the initiative. The Democrats need to take the initiative or be rolled over again:

ONE NEEDS TO know but three words to play poker: call, raise or fold.

Fold means keep the money, I'm out of the hand; call means to match your opponents' bet. That leaves raise, which is the only way to win at poker. The raiser puts his opponent on the defensive, seizing the initiative. Initiative is only important if one wants to win.


In poker, one must have courage: the courage to bet, to back one's convictions, one's intuitions, one's understanding. There can be no victory without courage. The successful player must be willing to wager on likelihoods. Should he wait for absolutely risk-free certainty, he will win nothing, regardless of the cards he is dealt.


The Democrats, similarly, in their quest for a strategy that would alienate no voters, have given away the store, and they have given away the country.

Mamet says Democrats watched as Al Gore frittered away the 2000 election; they watched as Bush declared a phony war; they voted for a phony war because they didn't want to be seen as weak; then they ran a candidate who refused to stand up against accusations of not being patriotic.

The Republicans became more bold when they learned to recognize the Democrats' "tell"--their absolute reluctance to take the initiative.

Here's how Kerry should have handled the Swift Boat accusations, according to Mamet:

Control of the initiative is control of the battle. In the alley, at the poker table or in politics. One must raise. The American public chose Bush over Kerry in 2004. How, the undecided electorate rightly wondered, could one believe that Kerry would stand up for America when he could not stand up to Bush? A possible response to the Swift boat veterans would have been: "I served. He didn't. I didn't bring up the subject, but, if all George Bush has to show for his time in the Guard is a scrap of paper with some doodling on it, I say the man was a deserter."

This would have been a raise. Here the initiative has been seized, and the opponent must now fume and bluster and scream unfair. In combat, in politics, in poker, there is no certainty; there is only likelihood, and the likelihood is that aggression will prevail.

You can sit at the poker table all night, never bet, and still go home broke because you anted away your stake. Similarly, the Democrats are anteing away their time--they risk defeat by being bold but by remaining passive, they ensure it.

March Day Plans

Last night on Blog for America, there was a guest entry from Mike Shor of DC for Democracy entitled March Day Meetings.

DC for Democracy will be rolling out the welcome mat for DFA affiliated marchers and their friends. We've arranged for a meeting place before the march and rally, and for those coming into town the night before, a social happy hour. Details below. Please send a note to Mike Shor: for more information and to let him know you're coming.

Click here for more details.

Also, a reminder from Hypatia:

Are you or someone you know coming to DC for the peace march? Want a friendly spot to gather afterwards to discuss the day's events, and do some more of that invaluable networking, planning, strategizing, framing, etc.? Then come to the...

Saturday, 9/24 at 4pm
Hypatia's backyard (or inside if it rains)
Visit DFALink and type in zip 20012 for more details or click my name above to learn more and RSVP!

Click here to sign up via DFA-link.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Four Amendments & A Funeral

Matt Taibbi turns over a few stones and watches what crawls out from under them in this Rolling Stone story from mid-August. And what crawls out is not very pretty. I thought in light of the Democratic Party rolling over on John Roberts' nomination, it was worth another look.

As Taibbi explains, an aide to Bernie Sanders approached him about doing a story on Sanders. Taibbi wasn't interested in doing a garden-variety political profile, but if Sanders was willing to give him an insider's look at the goings-on in Congress Taibbi would be interested. Taibbi was interested in Sanders mainly because of his Independent status, claiming the "socialist" tag is misleading; Sanders, he says, is more of a classic populist outsider: "The mere fact that Sanders signed off on the idea of serving as my guide says a lot about his attitude toward government in general: He wants people to see exactly what he's up against."

Taibbi also arrives at an important moment: against some very long odds, Sanders has introduced and passed three important amendments. By Taibbi's last week in Washington, however, all the amendments were rolled back, "each carefully nurtured amendment perishing in the grossly corrupt and absurd vortex of political dysfunction that is today's U.S. Congress. What began as a tale of political valor ended as a grotesque object lesson in the ugly realities of American politics -- the pitfalls of digging for hope in a shit mountain.

"Sanders, to his credit, was still glad that I had come. "It's good that you saw this," he said. "People need to know."

Taibbi doesn't hesitate to point out the warts in either party. David Drier (R-CA), the current chairman of the House Rules Committee, "is a pencil-necked Christian Scientist from Southern California, with exquisite hygiene and a passion for brightly colored ties. While a dependable enough yes man to have remained Rules chairman for six years now, he is basically a human appendage, a prosthetic attachment on the person of the House majority leader, Tom DeLay."

Wisconsin Republican James Sensenbrenner Jr.: "your basic Fat Evil Prick, perfectly cast as a dictatorial committee chairman: He has the requisite moist-with-sweat pink neck, the dour expression, the penchant for pointless bile and vengefulness."

In one hearing, "The Democrats generally occupy a four-seat row on the far left end of the panel table, and during hearings they tend to sit there in mute, impotent rage, looking like the unhappiest four heads of lettuce to ever come out of the ground."

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid: "Reid's predecessor as minority leader, Tom Daschle, was a marionette of the banking and credit-card industries whose public persona recalled a hopped-up suburban vacuum-cleaner salesman. In the wake of the Daschle experiment, Reid is the perfect inheritor of the Democratic leadership mantle: a dour, pro-life Mormon with a campaign chest full of casino money. Trying to figure out his motives on this vote proved no less difficult than figuring out what the Democratic Party stands for in general."

So what conclusions does Taibbi draw?

After a month of watching him and other members, I get the strong impression that even the idealists in Congress have learned to accept the body on its own terms. Congress isn't the steady assembly line of consensus policy ideas it's sold as, but a kind of permanent emergency in which a majority of members work day and night to burgle the national treasure and burn the Constitution. A largely castrated minority tries, Alamo-style, to slow them down -- but in the end spends most of its time beating calculated retreats and making loose plans to fight another day.

Taken all together, the whole thing is an ingenious system for inhibiting progress and the popular will. The deck is stacked just enough to make sure that nothing ever changes. But just enough is left to chance to make sure that hope never completely dies out. And who knows, maybe it evolved that way for a reason.

If this story does nothing else, it ought to make you more determined than ever to take back this country.

Wednesday Cartoons

Hurricane George
Know Your Place
Emergency Rescue
One Of These Days
Po Boys
Snow Birds
Monkey Business
Parallel Logic
Quod Erat Demonstrandum
True Americana
White Flight
What? Me Worry?

And my favorite for today: 2 Balls, 1 Strike

Po' Boy for Rich Boys

Ann Telnaes does it again. Check out the latest cartoon on her site.

More Bush cronyism. His nominee for Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA has no actual health and safety experience. Why should this appointment be different from any other? The nominee, Edwin Foulke, is an attorney from a union busting lawfirm (Jackson-Lewis), a local Republican Party chairman and an officer in the Republican National Lawyer’s Association. Confined Space has the scoop.

I'm inclined to believe John Edwards really hid his light under a bushel during the campaign. Remember how Bush was all about an "ownership society"? Edwards says what we need is a working society.

Arianna Huffington believes that never-confirmed UN Ambassador John Bolton played a key role in Plamegate. "According to two sources, Bolton's former chief of staff, Fred Fleitz, was at least one of the sources of the classified information about Valerie Plame that flowed through the Bush administration and eventually made its way into Bob Novak's now infamous column."

Who is Fred Fleitz?

Bill in Portland Maine waxes rhapsodic at Daily Kos over George Clooney's new movie, Good Night, and Good Luck .

A boring correction: In last night's post, I identified Jon Tester as Max Baucus' opponent. Tester is challenging Republican Conrad Burns. Doesn't matter, really, because both Baucus and Burns need to go.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Gulf Coast Wage Cuts & Other Updates

The Gulf Coast Wage Cut is the frame for Bush's rescinding of the Davis-Bacon Wage Act of 1931. The Davis-Bacon Act required that workers employed in a project involving a government contract must be paid the local prevailing wage rate. For some reason, Republicans were afraid that labor unions would put their self-interest ahead of rebuilding the Gulf Coast. So Bush threw his buddies like Halliburton a bone and told them to have a party when he suspended Davis-Bacon.

Josh Marshall at reported today that Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) is circulating a letter among House Republicans calling on the president to rescind the Wage Cut. Word has it that Rep. James Walsh (R-NY) may also be on board.

Also from Josh, HR 3763 is Rep. George Miller's bill to overturn President Bush's Gulf Coast Wage Cut. The bill currently has 171 Democratic co-sponsors but there are more Democrats who have not signed on. The list is here. Personally, I'm pretty surprised at some of the names that appear: Cynthia McKinney, Marty Meehan, Harold Ford, James Clyburn. Why wouldn't they oppose a wage cut?

Over at, Ellen Miller (Deputy Director of Campaign for America's Future and director of its Project for an Accountable Congress), explains why the indictment of David Safavian had Bob Ney's name all over it.

RawStory has Harry Reid's remarks opposing the confirmation of John Roberts as Chief Justice. In a show of support for Reid, Max Baucus (D-MT) announced today he will vote to confirm John Roberts. Baucus is a Democrat who cain't say no to Bush. The gutless wonder is being challenged by Jon Tester.

In today's episode of "As The White House Turns," Political Wire is reporting that Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) may be brought in to oversee the Katrina recovery efforts. I guess Mitt knows as much as Karl does about construction.

Romney is among those named as a potential 2008 Republican nominee. That remains to be seen. During the 2002 governor's race, Romney stated he would honor a "moratorium" on abortion in which he would not attempt to change state abortion law. Although he told voters that he was personally opposed to abortion, he said he wanted to keep abortion "safe and legal in this country." In May, 2005, Romney claimed his stance had changed; he considered himself a "pro-life governor" who wished "the laws of our nation could reflect that view." Romney also said recently that perhaps mosques should be wiretapped for potential terrorist activity and that foreign students from "terrorist-sponsored states" might merit special scrutiny and surveillance.

Mitt Romney is an example of what happens when Democrats run poor campaigns.

The Rude One has some praise for the Big Dog.

Let's wrap things up with some comedy, courtesy of

Sean Hannity pledged the maximum contribution of $4,200 to Jeanine Pirro, who is challenging Hillary Clinton, and asked his listeners to donate too. Sean's amnesia apparently kicked in, because he forgot the embarrassing incident of the missing page of Pirro's speech which left Pirro unable to continue speaking as she looked for it. Moral: When somebody else writes your speeches, read them first so if you lose a page, you won't look like an idiot.

Chris Matthews claimed that Democrats don't care about inflation, because they live with it and that only the Republicans are concerned about it. "Democrats live with inflation. Jimmy Carter had it. He didn't care that much." An odd statement coming from someone who worked in the Carter White House. Perhaps Matthews was out the day that Carter announced the appointment of Paul Volcker as Federal Reserve chairman, who ultimately achieved control of inflation.

Brit Hume says that Bush Senior never criticized Bill Clinton or his administration as Clinton did Bush Junior on ABC's This Week.

Bill O'Reilly is mad at MediaMatters for reporting his wish that Hurricane Katrina should have hit the UN building instead of New Orleans. Former Sen. Tim Wirth (D-CO), chairman of the United Nations Foundation, asked both Fox and O'Reilly to apologize. In an unsurprising move, O'Reilly did neither and instead attacked both MediaMatters and Wirth as "creepy" and "pinhead," respectively.

And last, remember the cool graphic designed by Kossack highacidity that Working Assets wanted to turn into a billboard? The image will be displayed on a mobile billboard outside of Grover Norquist's "Wednesday meeting" tomorrow at 8:45 a.m., 1920 L Street NW. (Not close enough for me to swing by and see.) Nordquist's landlord is a bit jumpy: "For the duration of the protest, the building will be "locked-down" as if it were after hours. All tenants will be required to use their access cards to enter the building, and access their floors. Furthermore, tenants will be required to escort all guests up to their suites." (Via Kos)

Sleep--refreshes like nothing else. I think I'll get some.

New banner and other site changes

A great big thank you to Demetrius for creating a new banner for this site. As I mentioned earlier today in the comments, he was in the middle of a busy time when this new blog was first going online. So I put something together using one of the components Demetrius created for People-Powered Graphics, and used my entry level Photoshop skills to put some text on it. But now that he isn't quite so swamped with work, and now that this new blog has had a chance to grow up a bit and develop its own unique personality (and it's own name!), I asked Demetrius to make a custom banner for this blog. The result is what you see above.

You may have also noticed some other changes. One of them is that I've taken down the headline feeds (Javascript has been a bit troublesome) and added direct, named links to more grassroots-created sites, like National Nurse, Blankets for America, Underground Railroad, and Disabled Americans for Democracy. If I've left off your favorite grassroots Dean-inspired site, please let me know so that I can add a link.

A new link I have just added is to a brand new Kos-descended community blog called Street Prophets: Faith and Politics. You can find Pastor Dan's Kos diary introducing the site today here, and Markos' front page post about the site here.

Reid To Vote 'No' on Roberts

This went up on about 15-20 minutes ago.

Democratic Leader Intends to Vote Against Roberts

WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 - Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, intends to vote against the confirmation of Judge John G. Roberts Jr. to be the nation's 17th chief justice of the Supreme Court, a Senate Democratic aide said today.

The aide declined to elaborate, saying Mr. Reid would detail his reasoning in a speech this afternoon on the Senate floor. But with Democrats openly conflicted about the nomination, Mr. Reid's decision could set a tone for the rest of his caucus to follow.

The move comes as a surprise; many Senate observers expected Mr. Reid, who comes from a Republican-leaning state, to support Judge Roberts. But with a second vacancy on the court, Mr. Reid could be using his vote to send a message to the White House, which must replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, a critical swing vote on the court.

Democrats have insisted that Mr. Bush replace Justice O'Connor with a moderate, and Mr. Reid has already declared that several candidates the White House is considering would be unacceptable to Democrats.

Mr. Reid and his Republican counterpart, Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, have been invited to meet with President Bush Wednesday morning to discuss the second vacancy; the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, and the committee's senior Democrat, Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, have also been invited.

With a vote in committee scheduled for Thursday, the eight Democrats on the judiciary panel met this morning to discuss the nomination. They emerged tight-lipped, saying they wanted to speak to the entire Democratic caucus before announcing their votes. At least one, Senator Leahy, said he had not yet reached a decision.

"I'm close," Mr. Leahy said. Asked if he would know by the end of the day, he said, "I may. You won't."

I'm sorry, but why do I have a hard time believing that Leahy has not yet reached a decision?

Tuesday's Comics

Male-Bovine Fecal Material
Saving What's Important
Elmer Bush
Transparent Neanderthal
Napolean Complexity
Abortion Analogy
So Do We
Trickle-Down Effect
Advantage: Clinton
Mission Impossible
Exercise In Futility
Some Assembly Required

And my favorite for today:
Bush's Exit Strategy

Morning news roundup

Good morning, campers. Here's a quick summary of what I've read this morning.

Hurricane Rita is bearing down on the Gulf. It may or may not hit NO or it may hit Galveston/Houston. Only God knows, and He's not telling. Mayor Ray Nagin rescinded his order allowing people back into the city and anyone who has returned should evacuate.

As Emily Litella said, "Never mind."

From the crony files: The Bush administration is seeking to appoint a lawyer with little immigration or customs experience to head the troubled law enforcement agency that handles those issues, prompting sharp criticism from some employee groups, immigration advocates and homeland security experts. The nominee, Julie C. Myers, comes in the midst of intense debate over the qualifications of department political appointees involved in the sluggish response to Hurricane Katrina.

Myers worked briefly as chief of staff to Michael Chertoff when he led the Justice Department's criminal division before he became Homeland Security secretary. Her uncle is Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, the departing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. She married Chertoff's current chief of staff, John F. Wood, on Saturday. She will likely be confirmed.

With Paul Krugman's columns now safely ensconced behind the New York Times firewall (unless you pay for it), I want to recommend Tom Oliphant's columns in the Boston Globe. I've heard Oliphant on the Al Franken Show and he is a delight to listen to. Today's column, "Edwards got it right about poverty," is about John Edwards' comments on the moral issue of poverty.

In a clue to his instinctive understanding of poverty, Edwards's summary of first principles includes the central concept (I first heard it from Hubert Humphrey on the subject of civil rights some 40 years ago) that confronting poverty is not something ''we" do for ''them."

''This is something we do for us -- for all of us. It makes us stronger; it makes us better," he said.

Another Globe columnist, Derrick Z. Jackson, explains Bush's tax-cut math:

WE HAVE two wars abroad. Moreover, we must rebuild a Gulf Coast region so thoroughly devastated that had the destruction come from human hostilities, we would have declared a third war. Yet President Bush pretends in a critical way as if nothing happened at all.

Here in the Old Dominion, the latest Mason-Dixon poll is showing a virtual tie between Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican Jerry Kilgore, despite Kilgore's lame performance in last week's debate, which was moderated by Tim "Pumpkinhead" Russert. This despite Kilgore's unfavorables being twice Kaine's (22% v. 11%). Russ Potts is a 3rd candidate yet his name recognition is still low. Among undecideds, 8% say that Bush's support for Kilgore makes them less likely to support Kilgore and 16% say that Gov. Warner's support for Kaine makes them more likely to support Kaine.

Yesterday Josh Marshall reported that David Safavian, who until Friday was the head of Bush's Office of Federal Procurement Policy, has been arrested on three charges of making false statements and obstructing an investigation. (It's in today's WaPo dead tree edition.)

According to an AP wire report, "David Safavian, then-chief of staff of the General Services Administration and a former Abramoff lobbying associate, concealed from federal investigators that Abramoff was seeking to do business with GSA when Safavian joined him on a golf trip to Scotland in 2002, according to an FBI affidavit and the officials.

"At the time, FBI agent Jeffrey A. Reising said in the affidavit, a lobbyist -- identified separately as Abramoff -- had enlisted Safavian's help in trying to gain control of 40 acres of land at the Federal Research Center at White Oak in Silver Spring, Md., for a private high school that Abramoff helped establish and supported.

"For his part, Safavian edited a letter the lobbyist was preparing to send to GSA, and arranged and attended a meeting involving a GSA official, the lobbyist's wife and others to discuss leasing the property, the affidavit said."

Marshall is speculating that Safavian was arrested with the intent of getting him to testify against Abramoff. This makes sense, especially if you play "the Six Degrees of David Safavian": he has ties to not only Jack Abramoff, but also Grover Norquist, Ralph Reed, Joe Allbaugh, Rep. Chris Cannon, and Rep. Bob Ney. Oh and his wife, Jennifer Safavian, is "chief counsel for oversight and investigations" for Rep. Tom Davis's House Government Reform Committee.

In case you didn't recognize it, that is the sound of one shoe dropping. Personally, I would love to see Davis get caught up in this. It would certainly explain his recent inquiries into private sector employment.

Finally, it's official: the universe was created by the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Let's end with a moment of silence for Simon Wiesenthal, who died at age 96.

Monday, September 19, 2005

GOP Strategy on Immigration: Bait & Switch

I considered linking to this in the previous post's comments but I like to keep examples of GOP duplicity front and center. This has been linked all over the place; I saw it on MyDD but Atrios has a link from RawStory, where it originated. Here it is from RawStory:

Immigration memo intended for Rove arrives on Democrat's fax
Larisa Alexandrovna

An immigration memo intended for embattled White House advisor Karl Rove arrived instead on the fax machine of a Democratic congressman, RAW STORY can reveal.

The congressman who received the fax opted not to comment, and asked that his name not be used.

The focus of Smith's memo, addressed to "Hon. Karl Rove," is on immigration politics.

(Hon. Karl Rove? Oh puh-leeze)

"Immigration needs to be considered in the context of: (1). Media Bias, (2). Animosity toward the president and (3) the feelings of the Republican base," Smith's memo states.

Smith is a member of the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims as well as the Subcommittee on Economic Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Cybersecurity. No issues regarding the legislative jurisdiction of these committees are mentioned.

Smith goes on to suggest that "Liberals can easily and accurately be painted as opposing enforcement." His office did not return a call seeking comment.

The document, verified by RAW STORY and traced to Smith's fax machine telephone line, follows.

If you click over to RawStory, you'll see Smith's memo to Rove. As Jerome Armstrong observed over at MyDD, "There's your Rovian strategy for you, bait and switch, while all the while the Republicans build a bigger bureaucracy. First, talk tough; then cast liberals as oppossed to enforcement; then having framed the debate, open the borders to guestworkers and create a permanent second or third class group of "residents", not citizens. Come to think of it, with Bush having lifted the requirement of minimum wages in the Gulf Coast, I'm sure we are going to see alot of "residents" arrive in the Gulf area to work for those low wages... "

Say good night, Gracie.

Howard Dean's trip to Israel

Just read this on the DNC blog...

Governor Dean is currently travelling through Israel and is writing about his experiences on the National Jewish Democratic Council website. Be sure to keep an eye on for updates.

Pictures of Howard Dean's visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem here, here, and here.

Reminder: MViMV Guest Blogger at 8 p.m.

Just posting a quick reminder that tonight's interactive guest blogging event on My Vote is My Voice is coming up in a little over an hour. Tonight's guest blogger will be California Senator Debra Bowen (D-Redondo Beach). The topic will be: Protecting the Vote.

Monday, September 19, 8:00pm EDT.

Daily Cartoons

I just tried to post the cartoons in the comments but Haloscan apparently has a limit on the number of links that can be posted, so I'll just front-page the links for now.

Today's 'toons:

Right To Privacy
Upward Mobility Myth
A Rising Tide...
...Lifts All Ships?
P & C Abortions
You're In Good Hands
Reinforced Levees
Hegelian Synthesis
Drunk Driver
Incredible Shrinking President
Taking Responsibility
Spin Cycle
Wretched Refuse
P-Q4, N-KB3
Chapter 7 Liquidation

Arrrhh! It be "Talk Like a Pirate Day"!

Crossposted at My Left Wing, MyDD, and Daily Kos

Ever wish you could set sail on the tall ships?

Ever wish you could keel haul every scurvy dog on Capitol Hill?

Ever want to burst into your local Blockbuster and demand the latest releases, a stack of blank tapes and a couple of their finest VCRrrrr's?

If you answered "yes" you might have the makings of a fine pirate. Or, maybe you would just enjoy talking like one. You're in luck! Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day! Started by 2 guys some years ago and popularized in columns by Dave Barry, TLAP Day is a chance to shrug off workaday life for for the adventure of the high seas... or at least to inject some fun and nautical whimsy into your workaday life. So, gather up your mates! Buckle up your Cap'n Morgan boots. Cock your hat to a jaunty angle and join in singing the official TLAP Day shanty! And, after work? Flagons of grog 'til your timbers shiver! Arrr!!!

Most days are like all of the others,
Go to work, come back home, watch TV,
But, brother, if I had me druthers,
I'd chuck it and head out to sea,

For I dream of the skull and the crossbones,
I dream of the great day to come,
When I dump the mundane for the Old Spanish Main
And trade my computer for rum! ARRR!

T' me,
Yo, Ho, Yo, Ho,
It's "Talk Like A Pirate" Day!
When laptops are benches God gave us for wenches,
And a sail ain't a low price to pay!
When timbers are shivered and lillies are livered
And every last buckle is swashed,
We'll abandon our cars for a shipfull of ARRRs
And pound back the grog till we're sloshed. Yo ho ....

Bring Them Home Now Rally in DC

I won't be able to make it to the March on Washington next weekend, but if anyone attends and would like to submit a first person report (with pictures would be even better), just let me know and I can post a "guest blog" from you. And, in general, if there are any stories you'd like to see covered in a main blog post here, please pass them along and I'll do my best to make sure they are included.

Here is Cindy Sheehan's most recent diary: See you in DC

Oh, and I'd also like to add...
Cindy Sheehan
Cindy Sheehan
Cindy Sheehan

UPDATE from Hypatia

Are you or someone you know coming to DC for the peace march? Want a friendly spot to gather afterwards to discuss the day's events, and do some more of that invaluable networking, planning, strategizing, framing, etc.? Then come to the...

Saturday, 9/24 at 4pm
Hypatia's backyard (or inside if it rains)
Visit DFALink and type in zip 20012 for more details or click my name above to learn more and RSVP!

Click here
for details.

It has been brought to my attention that while some people have found the Haloscan comment style simpler and more straightforward, others have been blocked from commenting or even reading the comments. I was just going to switch back to the old comment system, but I wanted to try something first. I think I mentioned that on my phone I can't use the comments, but when I tried Atrios, which uses the same system, I could. So I logged into the Haloscan forums and found someone had asked a question about this

sorry for making this a new thread but I did several searches and couldn't find anything to help me. This is my problem: on any blogspot blog that I go to that has Haloscan, I am unable to comment and pull up the comments thread, at all. This happens on every blogspot/haloscan combination I come to. I click the comment button and zip, nothing. Can you please help?

Here's the link to check out with possible explanations/solutions. The most common reason appears to be that any pop-up blocker you have installed may be keeping the comment window from opening. I went ahead and changed the settings so that comments open in the same window rather than a pop-up window. That doesn't help me with my Sidekick--I still get a "Javascript not supported" message--which I *don't* get if I click comments on Atrios.

It *does* say that other Javascript on the page may interfere, so the problem could be because of the blogroll. Hope not, as that's an easy way for me to add the blog family links. If I have to take down the blogroll and replace it with the old fashioned style of adding those links, I'll do it, but I wanted to check out the simpler fixes first.

In the meantime, I'll continue to crosspost here for anyone who can't read the comments.