Saturday, November 05, 2005


As Kimmy mentioned in the overnight comments, today is the one-year anniversary of the death of her sister Christy. In that comment, she thanked us, her blog family, for being there for her through the rough times, and we responded with some heart thingies. Because, really, what can you say?

I still can't think of anything to say that doesn't sound hopelessly trite, but I felt the need to post something marking the day. It occurs to me that this would be an appropriate time to post a link to Concerned Consumers Advocating Safer Health (C.C.A.S.H.), a web site Kimmy started working on in the months following Christy's death. Sometimes tragedy inspires us to action--even though we can't bring a loved one back, it just somehow helps when that tragedy becomes a springboard for action and reform. The following is from the "About" page of C.C.A.S.H.:

C.C.A.S.H. stands for Concerned Consumers Advocating Safer Health & Care, the name of this organization. The name was chosen because it is also a person's initials, as you can see in the graphic at the top of each page. Christy Nicole Cash is her full name and she died Nov. 5th, 2004 from multiple hospital-acquired infections. Every struggle Christy Cash endured, each infection that attacked her body, every "adverse event" and error was preventable and I accept that I am partly to blame. Please don't take that the wrong way, Stage of grief or survivor guilt is not what I am speaking of. I share the blame because of my own apathy and ignorance surrounding hospital-infections. I didn't know much about the issues at hand and honestly, I paid no attention because I never faced anything like it. Apathy and ignorance.

Our seed was planted by Christy during her hospital stay. Off the ventilator, each time, Christy questioned the care she was receiving and the source of her conditions. It was a guessing game then because not one physician let her or her family know that these infections were, in fact, all hospital-acquired. She wondered how the other patients might be doing. Not knowing for certain she would say "I know they're doing this to me... can we hold them accountable?" She often asked our mother to chart problems (needles laying on the floor) and photograph the "evidence". Our answer to Christy everytime she questioned was "Yes, we can hold them accountable. As soon as you get better and get out of here, we will!" Obviously she did not getter and get out of the hospital but our reply to her still stands. We can and we will hold "them" accountable. You can read more about Christy's hospital stay below.

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Pudu blogging

I actually was going to post this here hours ago, but then I couldn't log into Blogger, so I posted it as a Kos diary, and also over at My Left Wing. But now that I *can* post again, I hate to leave my favorite blog pudu-less, so here you go...

Not appropos of anything in particular, but this is just freakin' adorable, and I had to share. Found on Bob Harris' blog

I know Holden started getting ponies when Bush's numbers fell under 40. But the first time Bush falls under 30, I'm suggesting pudus foreveryone.

I'd never seen one of these before, so I had to Google to find out more. Too damn cute, no? Be sure to check out the poll on the left hand side of the page.

On this page , he has more about pudus:
Pudus (actual species name: pudu pudu) are the world's tiniest deer, two-foot-tall little ungulates with big wide eyes and a body that resembles a Vienna sausage balanced on four wobbly toothpicks.

They have no natural defenses to speak of. When threatened, pudus usually try to find a log to hide behind or possibly climb.

This works about as well as it sounds like it works. Imagine a full-grown deer whose nose is at the height of your shins, peering up at you timidly and hoping you might give it a mulberry leaf to chew.

Unfortunately, pudus are as endangered as they are impossibly cute. This section is about understanding and exploring pudu customs, language, and culture, especially as they relate to the lives of other tiny creatures -- dik-diks, hyraxes, duikers, et al -- as they try to find a way to survive on a planet they don't quite seem to belong on.

Just like a lot of the rest of us.

Oh, and just so you all know, I've already snagged that pudu for my new Gravatar. Here's another one:

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Saturday Comics

I have some free time so I figured a weekend edition would be timely:

Deaniac Department
Undisclosed Location
I Never Knew You
K Street Project
No Comment
Domino Theory
And No Kiss
Oscillating Injection
Poor Priorities
In A Hand basket

And my favorite for the weekend: All The President's Men

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Friday, November 04, 2005

Protect your vote (from being counted)

I'm about to leave the house and won't be home until late, at which point I'm probably going to have enough brain cells left to say things like "I like pie" while staring ahead vacantly. So I'm going to do just a super-quick post about the opposition to Reform Ohio Now. Anyone who is "in the know" on this issue, please be sure to fill in the details in the comments, okay?

Via Common Cause blog: Temper Tantrum in Ohio

This is what a group ironically named "Protect Your Vote" is saying about the Reform Ohio Now coalition, which includes Common Cause.

More here

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Just Say No To Arnold

Teri Mills is a longtime Democracy For America community member. Her guest column on health care appears on Blog for America on Fridays and she blogs at

Only a few more days until Californians unite to say NO to Arnold and his "special" election. Interest in this election is increasing as the time to vote grows near, and public opinion polls now show most of the ballot measures to be losing or to close to call, very different than just two weeks ago. The only Californian who seems to be sitting this election out is Maria Shriver, the Governor's wife. Speculators say the First Lady of California still remains loyal to her legacy as a Kennedy.

The ballot measures have a wide topic range, and it is difficult to understand what is making this election so "special" or different that it couldn't wait until the regularly scheduled date. One example is the measure that would require parental notification before a teenager would be allowed to undergo an abortion. Opponents feel this could lead to further restrictions on abortion should it pass.

Another ballot measure prohibits a public employee labor organization from using dues or fees for political contributions unless the employee provides prior consent each year on a specified written form. Just a thought, but if this measure passes, where does that leave big business and corporations? Shouldn't they then be required to ask every employee to give written permission for their campaign contributions?

Ballot Measure 77 which amends the state Constitution's process for redistricting California's Senate, Assembly, Congressional and Board of Equalization districts must be one of the Governor's personal favorites. California is one of the bluest states in the nation and should it be redistricted, look for a color change to red.

There are more Democrats registered in California, so a heavy turnout will spell trouble for Schwarzenegger. Four out of five voters are now paying attention to the election that the California governor called to "help him solve the problems in his state." The citizens in California have found that their vote is their voice—this would make Jessica in Vermont (jjem) very proud!

Jim Dean gave us some suggestions on ways we can help California. Don't let your voice be silenced. Let's all join together and scream a big loud NO to Arnold on November 8th.

—Teri Mills, RN, MS, ANP
Democracy for Oregon

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Friday Comics

New Labor
Homeland Security
Old School
Category 5
Eye Of The Beholder
Placebo Effect
Knuckles Too
Truth In Advertising
Dick's Dirty Deed
Just Say No
Divided States Of America
Fishnets & Red Pumps
Truth Be Told
Colonoscopy For Three
F U Very Much
Corleone Family Values
Brown White Stone Homes
Totally Immune
Thelma Harry & Louise

And my favorite for today: THEORY Of Evolution

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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Articles about the '04 election debacle

Both from the Free Press

Powerful Government Accountability Office report confirms key 2004 stolen election findings
by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
October 26, 2005

Watergate-style money laundering indictments stoke Ohio's stolen election fires
by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
October 28, 2005

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Bird Flu: What Me, Worry?

JC's decision to post a link to Bush v. Bird Flu yesterday gave me the idea of doing something with all the avian flu material that's been cluttering up my desk.

In announcing all the money he's devoting to this new "national security" threat, Bush says we are "likely to face another pandemic." Well, no one knows really for sure if/when/where a pandemic will erupt. So let's look at some of what is known:

"Inside the Race To Find Vaccine For Avian Flu," The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 28, 2005

So far, H5N1 has killed some 60 people over the past two years, a small fraction of the nearly quarter- to half-million people who die each year from regular flu. But because humans do not have a natural immunity to this virus, the search for a vaccine has become a pressing priority.

GlaxoSmithKline, Roche, and Sanofi Aventis are just a few of the companies searching for a vaccine that would offer broad immunity and protect against any human-to-human strain that may emerge. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a unit of the National Institutes of Health, is working closely with companies to try to develop a vaccine. According to John Treanor, a virology expert at the University of Rochester (NY), a mismatched vaccine is better than no vaccine but "it's going to be difficult to be confident of making an exact match."

This story reports that just one avian-flu vaccine has withstood clinical testing. Over the summer, researchers from Sanofi Aventis, NIH, and St Jude Children's Research Hospital created a vaccine designed to protect against the human-to-human spread of H5N1. The US government has placed an order valued at $100 million.

The drawback to this vaccine is that it requires two doses to spark a robust immune reaction, which isn't useful if a pandemic breaks out. In a pandemic, authorities would implement an emergency "ring vaccination," rushing vaccine to people around the site of an outbreak. Anything that requires more than one dose isn't practical in those circumstances. Chiron has also developed a vaccine that has not been tested, yet the US placed a $62.5 million order.

Although companies and governments are pulling out all the stops to develop an effective vaccine, no one can say for sure how long it will take.

There has been a surge in demand for Tamiflu, in the meantime, to the point where people are asking their doctors for prescriptions they can fill now, in order to stockpile in the event of a pandemic. Roche has suspended shipments to private-sector recipients in the US to ensure that enough is available for use during the regular flu season.

In the meantime, Glaxo and Sanofi are attempting to form an adjuvant, which would make a flu vaccine effective against a broader range of virus strains. It could also potentially help circumvent the scarcity in manufacturing capacity by increasing the power of a vaccine and stretch it into more doses.

Stratfor: Strategic Intelligence Report

This is a newsletter I subscribe to and a recent one looked at the avian flu. Here are some excerpts from that newsletter--

An uncomfortable but undeniable fact is that there are a great many people and institutions in this world that have a vested interest in feeding the bird flu scare. Much like the "Y2K" bug that commanded public attention in 1999, bird flu is all you hear about. Comparisons to the 1918 Spanish influenza have produced death toll projections in excess of 360 million, evoking images of chaos in the streets.

One does not qualify for funding -- whether for academic research, medical development or contingency studies -- by postulating about best-case scenarios. The strategy is to show up front how bad things could get, and to scare your targeted benefactors into having you study the problem and manufacture solutions....

A bird flu pandemic among the human population is broadly in the same category as a meteor strike. Of course it will happen sooner or later -- and when it does, watch out! But there is no -- absolutely no -- particular reason to fear a global flu pandemic this flu season.

This does not mean the laws of nature have changed since 1918; it simply means there is no way to predict when an animal virus will break into the human population in any particular year -- or even if it will at all. Yes, H5N1 does show a propensity to mutate; and, yes, sooner or later another domesticated animal disease will cross over into the human population (most common human diseases have such origins). But there is no scientifically plausible reason to expect such a crossover to be imminent....

A virus can mutate in any host, and pound for pound, the mutations that are of most interest to humanity are obviously those that occur within a human host. That means that each person who catches H5N1 due to a close encounter of the bird kind in effect becomes a sort of laboratory that could foster a mutation and that could have characteristics that would allow H5N1 to be communicable to other humans. Without such a specific mutation, bird flu is a problem for turkeys, but not for the non-turkey farmers among us.

A more likely vector, therefore, would be for H5N1 to leap into a species of animal that bears similarities to human immunology yet lives in quarters close enough to encourage viral spread -- and lacks the capacity to complete detailed questionnaires about family health history.

According to Stratfor, the most likely candidate is the pig. On many farms, birds and pigs regularly intermingle, allowing for cross-infection, and similar pig-human biology means that pigs are more likely to be the mutation incubator--a much faster route to a human pandemic.

What about 1918?

One factor that has been driving fears of a 21st century pandemic are references to the 1918 Speanish Flu epidemic. It killed 675,000 Americans when the population was 100 million. Fifty million to 100 million people perished worldwide. Could it happen again?

The short answer is, probably not. Stratfor identifies 4 differences between 1918 and any new development:

1) The flu virus itself

No one knows how lethal H5N1 would be once it adapts to a human host. If you don't know that, you can't calculate a mortality rate. "At this point, the mortality rate among infected humans is running right at about 50 percent, but that hardly means that is what it would look like if the virus became human-to-human communicable. Remember, the virus needs to mutate before it is a threat to humanity -- there is no reason to expect it to mutate just once. Also, in general, the more communicable a disease becomes the lower its mortality rate tends to be. A virus -- like all life forms -- has a vested interest in not wiping out its host population."

2) 1918 was not a typical year

World War I was still being fought and it was fought in the trenches--not the most sanitary of places to be. And if the soldiers weren't fighting, they were living in the barracks so they already weren't in the best of health and were also susceptible to whatever airborne diseases affected the rest of their unit. Thus, the soldiers were not only susceptible to catching the flu, they were also susceptible to dying of it: Over half of U.S. war dead in World War I -- some 65,000 men -- were the result not of combat but of the flu pandemic. So it should come as no surprise that in 1918, the movement of military personnel was the primary means of infecting civilians worldwide. Suffice to say that in 2005, we've come a long way from trench warfare and the total percentage of US population fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan is far lower than the proportion that fought in WWI (0.0005% v. 2%).

3) Health and nutrition levels have improved since 1918

I think it's safe to say that in general, American health today is better than it was in 1918 despite concerns about obesity and other health-related issues. And the healthier you are when you get sick, the better chances you have of getting better.

Having said that, however, there is still a problem in this country with access to medical care. The poor tend to live in closer quarters and work in jobs that bring them in contact with large numbers of people. According to a 1931 study of the 1918 flu pandemic by the U.S. Public Health Service, the poor were about 20 to 30 percent more likely to contract the flu, and overall mortality rates of the "well-to-do" were less than half that of the "poor" and "very poor."

4) Antibiotics

Antibiotics are not a silver bullet and they can't protect against viruses. However, they can treat bacterial or fungal illnesses. The 1918 pandemic was similar to the standard flu virus in that the people didn't die of the flu, they died from the secondary illnesses--bacterial or fungal--that triggered pneumonia and could be treated with antibiotics. But penecillin wasn't discovered until 1929--11 years after the 1918 pandemic.

Personally, my philosophy is not to panic but to be concerned. The greater concern should focus on the consequences of obsessing over whether a pandemic will even occur. A new World Bank report says that an avian flu pandemic would lead to enormous global economic costs:

Tourism, transport and retail sectors would all suffer if a pandemic broke out, while East Asia's poultry industry is already struggling, the bank said.

The warning came as regional leaders met for talks dominated by bird flu.

The World Bank predicted that East Asian economic growth would slow during 2006, but would suffer much more if a pandemic erupted....

Individual efforts to avoid infection, as well as official quarantines and travel restrictions, would have an immediate impact on the economy, the report added.

The short term effect of the pneumonia-like disease SARS in 2003 was, the report says, equivalent to about 2% of incomes in East Asia. SARS killed about 800 people.

So the pandemic doesn't have to happen for the world's economy to take a hit, according to the BBC, "because business is a confidence game that relies entirely on the emotional responses of investors and consumers."

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Thursday Comics

Three Years Too Late
Legal Immorality
Rotten To The Core
Full Spectrum
Lord Protector
Beep Beep
In Memoriam
Sieg Heil

And my favorite for today: White Power

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Seattle's King County Honors Rosa Parks

The Metropolitan King County Council has acted on an idear from BFA blogger "Danny" who suggested an inspiring way to honor Rosa Parks.

Danny wrote to Seattle City and County Council members:

It has been reported widely that Rosa Parks passed away today. She certainly showed that one courageous person can make a difference. I suggest that King County put Rosa's name on a seat at the front of each bus for the next week. We should fly the city and county flags at half staff as well. Rosa Parks was an amazing American. "She accomplished more by sitting down than most Americans do standing up!" Please don't disappoint me by standing by and doing nothing. Take courage for ROSA.


According to the County Council's website:

"The Metropolitan King County Council today unanimously approved a motion honoring Rosa Parks’ life and her role in the struggle for civil rights, and asked the County Executive to place a message in all Metro Transit buses dedicating the front seat in her honor for the month of November. Ms. Parks’ refusal to leave her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus sparked a new era in the civil rights movement. Ms. Parks passed away last week. "

'“Ms. Parks is gone, but her act of defiance on a public bus changed all of our lives –- for bus riders and BMW commuters alike,” said Councilmember Dwight Pelz, the prime sponsor of the motion. “It is appropriate that we honor her on the buses owned & operated by Martin Luther King, Jr. County. A new generation of bus riders will see a reminder of how a simple act can change the world.”

It's a great idear from the grassroots, and one that could be emulated all over the country.

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Thank you Senator Reid.

Tuesday's move by Senator Reid confirms that he is the right guy at the right time and right place. For some time now, I have been surprisingly pleased with the ways in which he has played his role as Minority Leader.

Lots of Kossaks seem pretty pleased too.

I remember how many of us "progressives" were worried when Reid became Minority Leader, and I was a little worried too: some of his positions on the so-called "social values" are a bit too much to the right for me. Today shows how the Democrats, by playing as a team, can get over some of its own ideological differences and provide a larger vision for what they ought to be standing for.

By the way, that's what the Republicans have been doing for decades already. And it has worked for them...untill now.

But on Tuesday , Senator Reid has acted as any leader of the opposition ought to act.

Hopefully, Democrats will follow his leadership. Hopefully this is only the begining.

And just to be helpful, here is a reminder for them:

OPPOSITION - noun resistance or dissent, expressed in action or argument : there was considerable opposition to the proposal the regime cracked down against the threat of opposition. • (often the opposition) a group of adversaries or competitors, esp. a rival political party or athletic team. • ( the opposition) the principal political party opposed to the one in office.

Thank you, Senator Reid.

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The Gentle Revolution

It *is* possible for people to change their government. Without violence. And with very little hope of success, objectively. The secret is: don't quit.

"I really do inhabit a system in which words are capable of shaking the entire structure of government, where words can prove mightier than ten military divisions."

~~ Vaclav Havel

Check out the entry in the Wikipedia. Read. Regain hope.

Vaclav Havel : "I recall that my friends and I for decades were asked by people visiting from democratic Western countries, 'How can you, a mere handful of powerless individuals, change the regime, when the regime has at hand all the tools of power: the army, the police and the media, when it can convene gigantic rallies to reflect its people's "support" to the world, when pictures of the leaders are everywhere and any effort to resist seems hopeless and quixotic?'

"My answer was that it was impossible to see the inside clearly, to witness the true spirit of the society and its potential -- impossible because everything was forged. In such circumstances, no one can perceive the internal, underground movements and processes that are occurring. No one can determine the size of the snowball needed to initiate the avalanche leading to the disintegration of the regime."

Was it Howard Dean? Cindy Sheehan? You?

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Wednesday Cartoons

Lap Dog
Matrix Position
Bear's Gonna Get Them Too
Way, Way, Way, Way, Way,...
Disaster Relief
Campaign Manager
Kick Me Harder

And my favorite for today: SSDD

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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

I Was Just Thinking...

What with the kind of work i do, i find myself traveling quite a lot. Often, I'll be on the road traveling California, Oregon, Washington, or Nevada for 2 to 4 days at a time. I'll always end up taking the backroads and going to small town everywhere. This coastal picture was taken last week just north of Fort Bragg, California.

When I'm in these remote areas, there's usually no radio reception, no cell phone coverage, etc. I've been meaning to swap out the 20 or so cd's in my car for, oh, about a year and a half now, but keep forgetting. You probably know already that i rarely play the cd's anymore.

So, this is when i've got time to think. When I'm out there all alone with only the sound of the car on the road and whatever nature has to offer. This photo was taken a couple of years ago in the spring. All of the hills along Hwy. 49 were lit up with flowers like this. There were a lot of people stopping to take pictures. The next photo in in the Trinity Alps along Hwy 3 in north-eastern California. Having lived almost a 1/2 century in this state, and knowing how beautiful it is here, it makes me sad to know that the "development people" would build on all of this if they had the chance.

This one's Mt. Shasta last summer. That's an active glacier on that mountain.

So, when I'm on the road, i think about politics a lot. I try to refine all of my position speeches. I try to work out arguements. I try to discover conflicts and contradictions in my own thinking. Then, I re-hash old personal occurances: "oh, if i had only just..." But, then there's never any going back, so I just shake it off and tackle politics.

Sometimes, i sing, whistle, beat on the dash board, or just scream. Watching people watching you scream while driving down the freeway at 70 mph can be real entertaining. Remember, this is after 2 or 3 days on the road alone.

I don't think I've come up with too many answers to anything, but that's ok as I've got pleanty of time. I'll just keep trying because there's crazy people right here in my backyard that have to be dealt with.

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Bush-Cheney Traitors Deserve Prison, Impeachment

Article by Ted Rall in Common Dreams: Bush-Cheney Traitors Deserve Prison, Impeachment

What articles have you seen today that you recommend?

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Eternity 101

It is ingrained tradition from time immemorial to imagine that God is some really old dude with a long white beard and a lousy fashion sense, sitting on a throne in the middle of someplace called Heaven. We are told through scripture that we are created in God's image, which I guess means that "He" has opposable thumbs, armpits and toenails just as we humans do.

Some folks also tend to think that God is just as arrogant, spiteful, greedy, wrathful, and rude as we tend to be in our daily lives. He is, after all a 'dog eat dog' 'early bird catches the worm' "survival of the fittest' kind of God that we've been handed down through the ages. In some minds God is such a narrow minded bastard that will He would damn you to eternal fire simply for choosing the wrong religion. After all, He loves you.

Polls show that a vast majority of Americans believe not only in Adam and Eve, but also that Saddaam Husein had something to do with 9/11, in spite of all evidence to the contrary. Numbers are similar to those for the belief in Santa Clause for people age seven and under. Even our good friend Oscar, in this space on Sunday, spoke of the story of Job as if it had actually happened, and not as the object lesson that it is.

Now I'm not saying that everything in the Bible is just the ravings of historic figures with no grasp of science or even indoor plumbing. In fact, the most profound thing that the Bible has to offer can be summed up in just three off the cuff words, coined now and then by one Jesus of Nazareth:

Son Of Man.

Enter the Twenty First Century.

Hello and welcome to "The End of Civilization as We Know It." You are about to become a New Species. Actually, it's a very ancient species, but needless to say you have arrived, and I'm here to help begin your orientation. Don't be alarmed, this is no more painful than graduating High School. Well I know that must have been a drag for a lot of you, but then you did get through that now didn't you? Alright then, let's all take a long, deep breath. That's good. Are we ready? Then let us begin.

The species you are about to become is called Son of Man or Homo Infinitis, and you, along with several billion of your closest neighbors are about to make a conscious evolutionary leap beyond your current space time continuum. For those of you who have come for the Apocalypse, or the Gates of Death exhibits, I have an announcement. The Apocalypse has been canceled for lack of brimstone, and the Gates of Death exhibit is being phased out over the next fifteen or so years. I'm sorry if this takes all the fun out of dieing, however your coupons will be redeemable at any other ETERNITYPASS (tm) attraction.

Now I realize that this whole "spontaneous evolution" thing comes a surprise to many of you, but I did try to tell you way back in 1994 that "The Awakening" was coming. It's not my fault that your media didn't see the signs. But now The Awakening is upon us, and it's time to prepare your minds for what your hearts already know.

Love is God. Compassion, Empathy, Insight Oneness, Wisdom, and Mercy are some of the named attributes of Eternal Love that are manifest in the Human Heart through its connection to The Bliss Harmonic. The Bliss Harmonic is what connects us to the Eternal Love which holds the fractal of All Life together. In a real sense, The Bliss Harmonic is identical to what has been called The Lost Chord, or The Name of God. It is the point where all of the musical notes played by the human heart spin recursively at a specific Phi ratio. (.618hz) If this seems complicated, just imagine a tornado, or a simple whirlpool in your bathtub. The spin in its Phi ratio keeps the whirlpool from collapsing on itself. Similarly Compassion and Empathy grow when all of the musical notes in the heart are In-Phi-Knit with those of others.

Well, so what? What does any of this have to do with spontaneous evolution?

Everything. When the hearts of two lovers beat as one and they feel like two halves of the same person, their hearts are singing The Name of God in unison. The same is true when one feels Compassion, Empathy and all the rest. What will happen when millions of human hearts begin to sing The Bliss Harmonic in unison like a global choir?

Ascension, of course.

To be continued.


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Tuesday's Comics

Metaphorically Speaking
Be His Blood On Our Children
Alito The Hun
Sychophant Of The United States
General Grievous & Nute Gunray
Harriet Initially Said 'No'
Head Handed To Him
Brass Tax

And my favorite for today: Jump!

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Monday, October 31, 2005

Howard Dean on Hardball, 10/31

Matthews: Somebody in the Democratic party is putting out an attack sheet on this new Justice for the Supreme Court, Sam Alito, and the first attack is that he was lenient on the mob back in an '88 case. He let the Lucchesi family get off. It says he's an embarrassment to the government. And here's a guy who's been tough on crime--why start off on that issue?

Howard: Well, first of all, I didn't put it out, but somebody did, so let's all be responsible for it.

Matthews: It was put out by the Democrats.

Dean: The President put out a sheet this morning of Republican talking points. One of the things he said was that Judge Alito was a spectacular prosecutor. Well, it turns out he wasn't so spectacular and he lost some important cases. And one in which, in that particular case, those guys--20 of them--all got off, without even putting up a defense witness. So at least in that particular case that's an example--

Matthews: What about the Genovese case a year later where he won the conviction, put three big guys away, including the top guy in New Jersey--

Dean: I think it's great, all I'm trying to say is this guy isn't the best prosecutor since sliced bread. Look--

Matthews: You don't sense a little ethnic aspect to this, the fact that he's Italian-American and they nailed him, the number one issue against this guy, that he's weak on the mob. You don't see that, huh?

Dean: No, I'll tell you what the number one issue--

Matthews: I think everybody else does. I see it--

Dean: The number one issue I worry a lot about is, first of all, we have a very weak president, who is letting the right wing make judicial selections. Second of all, we have a president who didn't keep his word and fire Karl Rove as he promised he would. two years ago when he said he'd fire anybody who leaked. Well, the special prosecutor identified Official A who leaked, and that was Karl Rove. He may not be indicted, but what is going on is unethical. Third of all, I am concerned about Judge Alito's record. Judge Alito in one case said that Congress did not have the right to regulate the sale of machine guns. I think that's a mistake.

Matthews: I think they've done that since the 30s. Tommy guns have been outlawed since the mob days back in the early 30s.

Dean: In a case where he was on the court, he dissented from an opinion that upheld Congress' right to regulate machine guns. In other words, he made the case in his dissent that he did not believe that Congress had the right to regulate the sale of--

Matthews: --automatic weapons. Oh, I know. But I thought that was settled law.

Dean: It may have been settled law, Judge Alito disagreed. Judge Alito also supported the police when they went and searched somebody they had a search warrent for, but then also strip-searched the guy's wife and 10-year old daughter. I don't think that's a good thing. There were some sex discrimination cases and disability discrimination cases where he raised impossibly high standards. So, we do not think that Judge Alito is a great nominee...

Matthews: What about the husband notification--does that bother you?

Dean: It bothers me in the fact that Bush people seem to insist on inserting the government into people's private and family business, and this is a private family matter, not a government matter. To have the government insinuate itself in the relationship between a husband and wife I think is a mistake.

Matthews: But that was a Pennsylvania law, and that was passed by a Democratic governor, Bob Casey, it wasn't the Bush people--

Dean: This administration continually wants to insert themselves into family business--the Terri Schiavo case--that's the family's business, not the government's business. All these abortion cases, that's a family's personal business, not the government's business, and we'd like to keep the government out of people's private lives.

Matthews: So the Democratic party is a pro-choice party, period?

Dean: No, my party respects everybody's views, but my party firmly believes the government should stay out of people's personal lives.

Matthews: But you're a pro-choice party are you not? You sound like you're against them for being pro-life, are you pro-choice?

Dean: I'm not against people for being pro-life. I actually was the first chairman who met for a long time with the pro-life Democrats.

Matthews: The people believe the Republican party, because of its record, supports the pro-life position. Does your party support the pro-choice position?

Dean: The position we support is that a woman has a right, and a family has a right to make up their own mind about their health care without the government's interference.

Matthews: That's pro-choice.

Dean: A woman and a family have the right to make up their own minds about their health care without government interference. That's our position.

Matthews: Why do you hesitate from the phrase "pro-choice"?

Dean: Because I think it's often misused. If you're pro-choice, it implies you're not pro-life, and that's not true. There are a lot of pro-life Democrats. We respect them, but we believe the government--

Matthews: Do you believe in abortion rights?

Dean: I believe that the government should stay out of the personal lives of families and women. They should stay out of our lifes. That's what I believe.

Matthews: I find it interesting that you've hesitated to say what the party's always stood for, which is the pro-choice position--

Dean: The party believes that the government does not belong in our personal lives--

Matthews: It's just that I'm learning things here about a hesitancy I didn't know about before. We'll be right back with Howard Dean. Now you're getting hesitant on the war, hesitant on abortion rights--it's very hard to get clarity from your party.

What a freakin' tool, that Matthews. It's like he was rhetorically trying to pin Howard Dean's arm behind his back, insisting, "SAY IT! SAY THE WORDS! Buy into the black and white worldview so that I can have some good ammo for my interview with Ken Mehlman tomorrow!" Anyway, here's what came after the break...

Matthews: On this leak case, do you think Scooter Libby was a rogue, operating on his own?

Dean: You know, there's a big question about that, which I think is what did Vice President Cheney authorize Scooter Libby to do? In the indictment, the prosecutor talks about Vice President Cheney being the source of Libby's knowledge. In that case, did they discuss that Libby was going to leak this--

Matthews: Well, also, that he testified to the investigators that his boss, the vice president, told him how to deal with this information after giving it to him, on July 12--he gave the information June 12, a month later they go meet on a plane somewhere, and said here's how to deal with it. And then he started giving it out. Libby.

Dean: Well, I think that this may reach higher. This is not over--

Matthews: But don't you think it already has, in your mind? Don't you sense that--

Dean: Well, it's reached into the president's office. First of all, five years ago he promised this was going to be an ethical administration, which at this point is sort of a joke, given the vice president and Frist, and DeLay, and the procurement officer, and all these people involved in scandals of all sorts. But, I think that this is a serious problem, because the President of the United States looked the American people in the eye and said if anybody was leaking, they would be dealt with. They would be fired. Well, now we know. Karl Rove hasn't been indicted for leaking, but he did leak. And that's in the indictment, so it seems to me that the question of whether Karl Rove leaked something or not is not at issue any more. The president promised he'd fire a leaker--Karl Rove still has security clearance. This is a guy with security clearance, who's a leaker.

Matthews: Do you believe the Vice President constructed the case for war? The WMD case, the nuclear case--

Dean: Well, I don' t know who did, but somebody did, because the case wasn't there. The 9/11 Commission said it wasn't there. The 9/11 Commission, chaired by a Republican I might add, said there was no connection between terrorism and Saddam Hussein, there was no evidence for WMDs. Somebody either told the President the wrong information knowingly, or else the President knew the wrong information and lied to the American people.

Matthews: How come 80% of your party is opposed to the war in Iraq, believes we shouldn't have gone, and the leadership continues to stick with the war? John Kerry won't come out against the war, Chuck Shumer, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, they're all--

Dean: First, let me say this. I was very much against the war as you know, because I suspected--

Matthews: --you're with the 80%

Dean: I suspected we were not being told the truth, which it turns out we weren't. But I thought John Kerry's speech the other week was very good. We're there now. I was on one side, John Kerry was on the other, whatever--we're now in Iraq, and we've got to figure out how to get out. And Kerry has a plan to get out, which is more than--

Matthews then cuts him off and says he'd love to talk more about how to get out of Iraq, but they're out of time. Tomorrow, Ken Mehlman is scheduled to spew something on Hardball. Wonder if he'll be bringing up the "Merlot" thing again...

[UPDATE BY CORINNE: My fellow paesan Hunter has posted over at Kos that Chris Matthews lied about the Italian American slam in the memo. Go read the document Hunter has linked to and you'll see.]

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After observing the purple prose flying around the blogosphere all day on the nomination of Samuel Alito, I have gone from moderately concerned to progressively annoyed. I promised myself that I would not let myself be distracted from the real issues that need to be addressed, like Alito's judicial record and philosophy.

What is it? My heritage--being an Italian American. And it's being used in the lowest way possible to get Alito confirmed to the bench. I'm not surprised but I am pretty pissed off.

Drudge posted a claim on his website earlier today that "the right-wing is pushing back on the nickname “Scalito” given to Samuel Alito because they see it as “ethnically insensitive”:
One outraged Republican strategist claimed, “If Alito were a liberal there would be no way Democrats and Washington’s media elite would use such a ethnically insensitive nickname. Italian-Americans should not have to face these types of derogatory racial slurs in 21st century America.”

Later on, Orrin Hatch picked up the baton and ran with it on Faux Gnus implying that opponents of Samuel Alito’s nomination may be motivated by Alito’s ethnicity. He warned senators “to be very careful here,” because a vote against Alito would be “held against them” by Italian-Americans:

[They] think they own the Italian-American vote all up and down the East Coast. They don’t, but they think they do. If they become offensive against somebody with the qualifications of Sam Alito, Judge Alito, then I think it’s going to be held against them. They’re going to have to be very careful how they handle this, and frankly what bothers me if 22 — in other words, half of the Democrats in the Senate — could vote against John Roberts, can you imagine what this nomination is going to be like? There’s no reason they should have voted against Roberts. And I think Alito’s going to be just fine but we’re all going to have to work really hard to make sure that’s so.

In the interest of remaining as civil as possible, all I'll say is Hatch you SOB. These guys wouldn't know ethnic sensitivity if it walked right up and bit them. Remember this reference from their darling Justice Roberts: [A]nticipating a presidential interview with Spanish Today, he wrote. "I think this audience would be pleased that we are trying to grant legal status to their illegal amigos."

I bet he cracked them up at the Federalist Society with that one.

And as for Drudge's assertion that "Italian-Americans should not have to face these types of derogatory racial slurs in 21st century America" I've got news for you Sunshine--we do. Italian Americans are not a race, we have an ethnic and cultural heritage. A heritage, I might add, that has been hijacked by the Mob stereotype, aided and abetted by the likes of Coppola, Scorcese, DeNiro, and Pacino. That is why you'll never see an Italian character on TV or in the movies who has an everyday job like a dentist or who doesn't come across as loud, crass and ignorant. Because that's boring. People aren't interested in that. Oh, they love the music, food, and art from Italy. Where do you think Gucci, Fendi, Valentino and all those luxury goods started out? What about those hot sports cars like Ferraris and Maseratis? And the contributions of Galileo and Michaelangelo? People are more than happy to have as much of that as they want. But put us in the movies or on TV and the stereotypes prevail.

The biggest traitor is A. Kenneth Ciongoli, the Chairman of the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF), who posted this over at Drudge--

Update: National Italian American Foundation Demands “Scalito” ApologyMon Oct 31 2005 15:56:42 ET

National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) Statement:

The NIAF is distressed by the attempts of some senators and the media (CNN, CBS) to marginalize Judge Samuel Alito’s outstanding record, by frequent reference to his Italian heritage and by the use of the nickname, “Scalito.”

Appropriately, no one mentioned that Justice Breyer was Jewish or suggested that he was lock-step ideologically with the other Jewish Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, it would have been outrageous to do so. We still do not know Justice Robert’s ethnicity.

We are justly proud of Justice Alito’s Italian heritage and his sterling academic and judicial records as well as his impeccable integrity. However, he should be considered as an individual. In honor of the memory of the just departed Rosa Parks the Senate champions of civil rights should insist that Judge Alito be considered only on his extraordinary merits.

Someone over at ThinkProgress looked up Ciongoli and found something not so surprising: a loyal Republican. Ciongoli's bio at NIAF identifies him as a board certified neurologist. "Currently, he is President of the Neurological Associates of Vermont and Clinical Associate Professor of Neurology at the University of Vermont College of Medicine (UVM)....Dr. Ciongoli is founding member of the Vermont Italian Colonial Association (VICA), a member of The Mutuo Soccorso, The oldest Italian American organization in Vermont and a past member of the Board of Governors of the Ethan Allen Club, the oldest continuous club in North America."

And even Chris Matthews has jumped into the fray. This afternoon on MSNBC, he claimed the Democrats are circulating a paper about Alito losing a case in 1988 that was Mafia related. He said that a producer handed it to him and it says at the top: "The Democrats are handing this out." If I had known about this much earlier today I would have called the DNC to personally ask Howard to rip Tweety a new one and avenge my cultural honor. I'm sure Howard dispatched that rumor with surgical ease. (Update: Based on Renee's transcript, it sounds like he didn't. Sigh.)

For the record, the earliest mention I can find of Alito being referred to as "Scalito" is a March 2003 article on I could be wrong but it's not a new nickname.

Anyone who thinks Italian Americans will hold it against a senator who votes against Alito is relying on the old stereotypes to work. In the meantime, don't look for me at The Olive Garden. I entertain in my home where I am a damn good cook and I guarantee you'll be treated like family.

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MViMV Guest Blog

Tonight's My Vote is My Voice Guest Blog will be an hour later than normal, from 9pm-10pm EST.

Our guest blogger will be Quintus Jett, Executive Director of African Americans for Democracy. The topic will be "Be a Spirit, not a Ghost". Please join us at


I'll be marching with the Rutland City Democrats in our local Halloween Parade tonight, and may not make it back in time for the guest blog. Everyone who is around, please stop by and make a comment or ask Quintus a question. Thanks, and Happy Halloween!

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White House Talking Points: Alito

Courtesy of Is That Legal?

Responses to Likely Attacks: Judge Samuel A. Alito

1) Attack: Alito upheld a Pennsylvania anti-abortion law that the Supreme Court overturned in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.


a) In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Judge Alito agreed with the Third Circuit majority that Pennsylvania’s informed consent, parental consent, and reporting and public disclosure requirements were constitutional. The Supreme Court upheld these holdings.

b) Judge Alito also concluded that the spousal notification requirement was constitutional, based on the “undue burden” standard articulated by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in Supreme Court cases (Webster v. Reproductive Health Services and Hodgson v. Minnesota) that had addressed the abortion issue following Roe v. Wade.

c) Judge Alito did not make up the spousal notification provision. The voters of Pennsylvania enacted it, and it contained four exceptions to the spousal notification requirement: (1) if the woman believed the husband was not the father, (2) if the husband could not be found after diligent effort, (3) the pregnancy was the result of a spousal sexual assault that was reported to authorities, and (4) the woman believed the notification was likely to result in the infliction of bodily injury on her. Judge Alito was merely called upon in his role as a judge to determine if the voters of Pennsylvania had violated the Constitution by enacting such a statute.

d) Judge Alito noted in his opinion in Casey that the Planned Parenthood plaintiffs challenging the Pennsylvania statute had made a facial challenge to the statute: that is, in order to strike it down, one would have to find that there was not a single circumstance in which the statute could be applied consistent with the Constitution. That he noted this in 1991 shows his attention to detail, precedent, and applicable legal standards: this term – 14 years later – the Supreme Court is finally attempting to clarify its own confusing precedents on the applicable standard of review question that Judge Alito identified.

e) Judge Alito has shown that he respects and follows Supreme Court precedent and does not automatically rule for or against abortion laws. Indeed, in Planned Parenthood v. Farmer, Judge Alito voted to strike down New Jersey’s ban on partial birth abortion. The Supreme Court previously had invalidated a similar Nebraska law, and Judge Alito emphasized the “responsibility” of judges “to follow and apply controlling Supreme Court precedent.”

2) Attack: Alito also subscribes to a states’ rights approach that undercuts the ability of federally elected representatives to enact laws that protect civil rights, an approach that leaves women vulnerable.

Response: Judge Alito’s federalism rulings faithfully applied settled Supreme Court precedents.

a) In United States v. Rybar, Judge Alito argued in dissent that Congress could not regulate wholly intrastate possession of machineguns. He simply applied the Supreme Court precedent United States v. Lopez, which struck down a nearly identical ban on possessing guns near schools. Judge Alito said explicitly that states can ban possession of machine guns and that Congress could reenact the law if it found that intrastate possession of machine guns substantially affected interstate commerce.

b) In Chittister v. Dep’t of Community and Econ. Dev., Judge Alito ruled that parts of the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act violated states’ Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity. That ruling was unanimous, joined by two Democratic appointees. Scores of other Democratic appointees have agreed that parts of the law were unconstitutional. States and the Federal Government remained free to ensure adequate family leave, and Judge Alito noted that every state in the Third Circuit had already enacted generous family-leave policies.

3) Attack: Alito has a disturbing record in cases involving discrimination based on race, disability and gender. Under his judicial philosophy, victims would face near-impossible burdens to prove their discrimination.

Response: Judge Alito is even-handed and fair to employees and employers.

a) In Robinson v. City of Pittsburgh, Judge Alito reversed a trial judge’s decision to throw out the plaintiff police officer’s sexual-harassment claim. Judge Alito held explicitly that a plaintiff need not suffer monetary loss to show that she suffered an adverse employment action.

b) In Konstantopoulos v. Westvaco Corp., Judge Alito agreed that the plaintiff had not proved sexual harassment. Her only evidence of discrimination was that her co-workers had “squinted their eyes and shook their fists” at her, and that a colleague had once thrown her lunch away.

c) In Sheridan v. E.I. Dupont de Nemours & Co., Judge Alito argued that courts should not be required to rule automatically for employees whenever they show that an employer’s explanation is pretextual, but stressed that in practice employees should almost always win these cases.

4) Attack: Alito is a notorious foe of church-state separation.

Response: Judge Alito’s opinions stress the importance of neutrality, neither specially burdening religion nor granting it special benefits. He has resisted government efforts to impose discriminatory burdens, especially on religious minorities.

a) He struck down a police policy that required Sunni Muslim police officers to shave their beards, because they believed they had a religious duty to grow beards.

b) He struck down a school policy that allowed nonreligious student groups to distribute informational materials but forbade religious student groups to do the same.

c) He struck down a state permit requirement that made no exception for a Native American who wished to keep a wild bear, which his faith regards as sacred.

d) He has also ruled that a city could erect a holiday display that included not only a crèche and a menorah, but also a Christmas tree, Santa Clause, Frosty the Snowman, a sled, and Kwanzaa symbols. In doing so, Judge Alito simply applied the governing Supreme Court precedent, Lynch v. Donnelly.

These points attempt to address what the White House considers to be the weaknesses in Alito's nomination. You also have to wonder what Arlen Spector will do--he can't ignore Alito's position in Casey, that's for sure.

Atrios wonders, "It's time to see if the guy has any actual principles or if the "moderate pro-choice Republican" thing he's milked his whole career was just a scam."

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Halloween story

I was asked to tell a story to our local Peace and Justice group tonight. It was suppost to combine Halloween while telling about the peace rallies that I have attended. I thought you might enjoy reading it.

Welcome to the upside down world where down is up and backward is forward. Once upon a time there was a country, let’s call it ASU. ASU was a perfectly nice country that had caring people. But in this backward world, some people got control of ASU and the rulers thought everyone in the world should be just like them. These ASU rulers, we will call con-neos, didn’t care if other countries were still struggling to make things the way THEY wanted it to be. The con-neos thought that all countries should be just like ASU. If other countries of the world had things the con-neos wanted, the con-neos decided they would call those country the “bad guys”. The con-neos really, really wanted lotion. They wanted to control the world supply of lotion but other countries had lotion and these counties didn’t want to give it to ASU. Any country that had lotion would be watched very closely by the con-neos.

What is very sad is the people in ASU could get scared very easily. The con-neos knew this so they decided that all they would have to do is wait until something bad happened. So when something bad did happen, the con-neos could scare the ASU people to do what they wanted. The ruler’s didn’t care who did the bad thing in the first place. The con-neos decided to blame the bad thing on a country that had lotion. The rulers didn’t want to pick the country that did the bad thing because that country didn’t have any lotion. The rulers didn’t want to pick a strong country that had lotion because they might not win the fight. So they decided to pick a country they thought they could beat up and had lots of lotion. The ASU people were so sad about the bad thing that they didn’t even stop their rulers.

Some people from ASU DID understand what was happening. They were sad about the bad thing but they were smart and saw that ASU might be doing something wrong. We will call these people nick-peacers. The con-neos did not like the nick-peacers getting in their way of starting a fight with the lotion country. They called the nick-peacers unpatriotic. They said that the nick-peacers didn’t like the ASU. The con-neos had friends that ran the television shows. So these shows would make fun of the nick-peacers or worse yet not even show on television what the nick-peacers were doing or saying.

In a small village called Fordrock, in the state of Nois-ill, there were some smart nick-peacers. These smart people had rallies, wrote letters and shouted about how wrong it was to beat up on another country. These nick-peacers knew that many people could get hurt including their own children during the fight. But even the rulers in Fordrock believed the con-neos. They told the people of Fordrock that we must stop the “bad guys.” Meanwhile the nick-peacers worked very hard to get new rulers but sadly most the people of Fordrock and ASU were so afraid that they did not listen to the smart nick-peacers.

The nick-peacers tried to tell the people the truth but newspapers and television people ignored their rallies and letters. Meanwhile more and more sons and daughters of the ASU kept getting hurt in the big fight with the lotion country. The nick-peacers met with the rulers of Fordrock. They even talked with the national leader Lowmanz who was friends with the con-neos but no one listened. The nick-peacers kept meeting together, protesting and talking to officials and writing letters. Many nick-peacers traveled all the way to the ASU capitol to protest the big fight. Meanwhile more and more sons and daughters kept getting hurt.

Finally after 2,000 sons and daughters were hurt very badly the ASU people started to wake up. The nick-peacers, because they were peaceful, brought flowers and cards to Lowmanz office to tell him that they wanted the fight to end. The next day Lowmanz came out in the newspaper and stated that the fight was a bad thing and that it should end soon.

The nick-peacers were very happy that people were starting to see that the fight was bad.

I am sorry that I cannot tell the end of this backward story. We will have to get together next Halloween to see what happens.


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Bush Nominates Alito to Replace O'Connor

We interrupt the cartoons to report that Bush has nominated 3rd Circuit Appeals Court Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr. to replace Sandra Day O'Connor.

Who is Samuel Alito? Think Progress has the scoop.

ALITO WOULD OVERTURN ROE V. WADE: In his dissenting opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Alito concurred with the majority in supporting the restrictive abortion-related measures passed by the Pennsylvania legislature in the late 1980’s. Alito went further, however, saying the majority was wrong to strike down a requirement that women notify their spouses before having an abortion. The Supreme Court later rejected Alito’s view, voting to reaffirm Roe v. Wade. [Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, 1991]

ALITO WOULD ALLOW RACE-BASED DISCRIMINATION: Alito dissented from a decision in favor of a Marriott Hotel manager who said she had been discriminated against on the basis of race. The majority explained that Alito would have protected racist employers by “immuniz[ing] an employer from the reach of Title VII if the employer’s belief that it had selected the ‘best’ candidate was the result of conscious racial bias.” [Bray v. Marriott Hotels, 1997]

ALITO WOULD ALLOW DISABILITY-BASED DISCRIMINATION: In Nathanson v. Medical College of Pennsylvania, the majority said the standard for proving disability-based discrimination articulated in Alito’s dissent was so restrictive that “few if any…cases would survive summary judgment.” [Nathanson v. Medical College of Pennsylvania, 1991]

ALITO WOULD STRIKE DOWN THE FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE ACT: The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) “guarantees most workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a loved one.” The 2003 Supreme Court ruling upholding FMLA [Nevada v. Hibbs, 2003] essentially reversed a 2000 decision by Alito which found that Congress exceeded its power in passing the law. [Chittister v. Department of Community and Economic Development, 2000]

ALITO SUPPORTS UNAUTHORIZED STRIP SEARCHES: In Doe v. Groody, Alito agued that police officers had not violated constitutional rights when they strip searched a mother and her ten-year-old daughter while carrying out a search warrant that authorized only the search of a man and his home. [Doe v. Groody, 2004]

ALITO HOSTILE TOWARD IMMIGRANTS: In two cases involving the deportation of immigrants, the majority twice noted Alito’s disregard of settled law. In Dia v. Ashcroft, the majority opinion states that Alito’s dissent “guts the statutory standard” and “ignores our precedent.” In Ki Se Lee v. Ashcroft, the majority stated Alito’s opinion contradicted “well-recognized rules of statutory construction.” [Dia v. Ashcroft, 2003; Ki Se Lee v. Ashcroft, 2004]

Alito already comes into the nomination process with a nickname: Scalito, a blend of Alito and Scalia. I joke that when Clarence Thomas was appointed to the Supreme Court, it only meant that Scalia got two votes. Now it looks like he'll have three if Alito succeeds since Alito has an ideology that is very similar to Scalia's.

That's a big 'if.' Over the weekend Harry Reid warned Bush not to nominate Alito, signaling possible significant opposition from the Democrats. Republican Lindsey Graham has already stated that if the Democrats try to launch a filibuster, "it will not stand." Bush, predictably, is demanding and up or down vote before the end of the year.

UPDATE: Armando has a new diary up at Kos about the Alito nomination.

UPDATE 2.0: Think Progress reports that on the "Today" show this morning, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley says that Alito is "the top choice for particularly pro-life people. Sam Alito is viewed as someone who is likely to join the hard right in likely narrowing Roe and possibly voting to overturn Roe." In response to Katie Couric's question of whether Alito is a strict constructionist, Turley replied, "Oh absolutely. There will be no one to the right of Sam Alito on this Court. This is a pretty hardcore fellow on abortion issues."

So Bush does what he should have done in the beginning, which is to say mollify his conservative base. And can anyone tell me if Katie Couric really knows the meaning of "strict constructionist"?

UPDATE 3.0: The American Constitution Society has more information on Alito. Turns out the nickname Scalito is not new and ACS has a link to's evaluation of the nickname. The RNC will allege that the nickname is "ethnically insensitive." The RNC won't be able to explain why it's ethnically insensitive because a) they don't understand ethnic insensitivity (remember "illegal amigos"?) and b) the objections to his nomination have nothing to do with his being Italian American. As an Italian American, I find the Godfather movies and The Sopranos more objectionable than a judge's nickname.

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Monday Comics

Low Goals
Trashing The White House
Alcoholic Beverage
Spinning Turd Blossom
Deep Strokes
More Equal Than Others
Decision 2000
Tastes Like Chicken
D & X Nomination
Birds Of A Feather
Dead Men Walking
Wrap HIMSELF In A Flag
Underlying Problem
Inner Circle
Restoring Integrity

And my favorite for today: Your Bad

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Sunday, October 30, 2005

Happy Halloween

Hat tip to jc for this series of Poe-inspired images featuring Bush and his cronies.

Just now I was trying to find the "Bush Scares Me" button image--although I have to admit I didn't try all *that* hard. Anyway, what I did find was Dan Potter's Dean and Bush Pumpkins. I wondered if I really should post this picture, and bring on the bittersweet "what could have beens". But in the end, I decided to go for it. It's just such a dang handsome pumpkin!

And anyway, I figure I needed to post this picture, if for no other reason, to take the curse off this blog after having several Cheney pictures on the screen at the same time.

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Charisma and Values: Is that all there is?

I was planning to write something about the coming mayoral election here in New York City. I thought that I could write on what the race has been about, what the issues are, and what my little sample of New Yorkers think about them. But then, well… I just couldn’t come up with anything.

After all, it’s just about electing the leader of the biggest and most influential city in the US.

Unfortunately, unless something truly unexpected happens in the next nine days, 2005 can be safely put away as the Year No New Yorkers Paid Any Attention to their Mayoral Race.


You would think that we New Yorkers would be excited about this coming election. After all, Bloomberg got elected while no one was looking—or more accurately, while everyone was still staring at the dark smoke rising from the southern tip of the island; you would think that this year, New Yorkers would be paying attention, if only to make up for their (understandable) distraction in the fall of 2001.

Yet, four years later, and after twelve (yes, that’s twelve) years of having a Republican mayor in a city where less than 15% of registered voters are Republicans, no one really seems to care that much about the coming election on November 8th. Bloomberg has spent a fortune in his electoral media blitz, but I haven’t heard anyone mention any of his ads or slogans --not even as a joke or a parody, as one would expect. And on the Democratic side, Fernando Ferrer, after winning the primaries by barely squeaking by the 40% necessary to avoid a runoff, has stayed vaguely visible in the public’s imagination thanks to the name recognition he gained from running in (and losing) the past two elections.

The two candidates are, by pretty much all accounts, light on charisma. Ferrer often sounds and looks like the Old Party Dignitary that he happens to be; Bloomberg, the “non-politician” who sounds and looks like the CEO he once was, tends to speak as if he were addressing the gigantic airless, neon-lit boardroom of a company called “NYC Inc”. The sound of New Yorkers snoring through the meeting would be deafening, if New Yorkers actually bothered to attend it.

Now, in principle, I don’t have anything against charm-less candidates. In this political culture of ours where Hollywood looms larger than ever, lack of charm can conjure the possibility of authenticity. Granted, that’s the best-case scenario. In our case, it seems that Bloomberg’s drabness has been received as a welcoming change from the self-righteous, in-your-face, holier-that-thou attitude we suffered for eight years with Rudy Giuliani. Whereas Giuliani was drama personified, Bloomberg’s utter lack of any apparent emotional life is what gives him the appearance of being a “good steward” of the city. But whether one agrees with his stewardship or not, an inspiring leader he is not.

But if inspired leadership is what gets voters to the polls, don’t count on Ferrer to get New Yorkers to line up at poll stations on November 8th . No one really knows what to think of him; no one seems to know how to define him. Some people (from both parties) really don’t like him. Not because he is too much of a “liberal”; nor because he is not enough of a liberal. He is not liked for not being anything in particular.

So, in a political race with no charisma and no personality, what on earth could get voters interested?

You might think: “I know what! Values! You know, the values stuff people kept talking about during the 2004 presidential election.”

Most likely though, that won’t work either. New Yorkers pretty much agree on values—at least, in relation to the supposed divide that exist between “red” states and “blue” states. In New York City itself (New York State is another story), you have “True Navy” blue districts like the Uppper West Side and Harlem and “Aqua” blue districts like the Upper East Side and some “Powder Blue” districts spread throughout Brooklyn and Queens. Staten Island, Former Land of the Fresh Kill landfills, is as purple as you will get around these parts. (And guess what? They want to secede anyway!)

In a sense, what we are witnessing here is the absence of true partisanship as we know it (and not as it necessarily means). We all know that Bloomberg used to be a Democrat before running for office, and no one, I bet, fears in any way that he might be a threat to women’s or gays’ rights or to the separation of Church and State. (Civil rights is another issue, as anyone who has got arrested during the RNC convention will tell you. Those arrests, and the smoking ban, are the only issue that have come close to providing the grounds for an anti- Bloomberg movement). Ferrer, on the other hand, could be a DINO, or not, but it does not matter, since, again, even a New York City DINO would still be relatively “progressive” in comparison to many other parts of the country.

What is truly amazing to me is that once you take away the entertainment value of a campaign—charisma, or personality, and values—no one (and that includes the media) seems to be interested.

Could it be that the reason why no one seems interested in this New York contest is that it has none of the wedge issues that have bee used so artfully in national elections? Could it be that we do not know how to speak of any other political issues that those which divide us, the so-called “social” issues? Could it be that without those social issues at stake, there are absolutely no differences between the two main parties?

Could it be that we, as a culture, have forgotten what matters beyond personalities and so-called social values?

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Word For The Week

(Originally posted at The Underground Railroad)

Have you ever felt like God was picking on you? Like God was getting His jollies seeing just how much He could screw with you? Have you ever felt like cursing God and dying? Job was a man of impeccable character whose righteousness was questioned by no one. Job was blameless before God and had done nothing to deserve the pain and suffering that was inflicted upon him. Job was the man, yet everything of value to him was taken away from him. Everything that he used to glorify God was removed from him. Even his health was decimated, yet Job had done nothing to deserve all of this. Have you ever felt like you have held up your end of the bargain but God had let you down? Have you ever wished that you could subpoena God and put him under oath to make Him testify about why He's brought calamity into your life? Have you ever wanted to scream at God, "Come down here and fight like a man!"

Be careful what you ask for.

Job got his wish in our text - God answered his questions with a series of questions. Where were you when God laid the earth's foundation? Who marked off its dimensions? Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone - while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when God made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when God fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when God said, 'This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt'? Do you really want to go toe-to-to with Him who creates ex nihilo? You see, Job faced calamity because God was trying to prove a point - we worship God for who He is, not because of the hook-up. We serve God because He is God, not because He gives us stuff. We love God because of what he has already done for us through Christ Jesus our Lord. God recommended Job to Satan in order to prove the point that those who are truly His will serve Him no matter what.

Could God have recommend you to Satan, or does Satan recommended you to God?

May The LORD bless you and keep you;
May the LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
And may the LORD,
Who wants you to get with Him,
May He turn His face toward you and give you peace.

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