Friday, October 24, 2008

Don't share the wealth

Undecided? Really?

Who the hell are you? Are you evil? Are you Jesus?

 I'm told it is sometimes helpful to project outside yourself, to mess with your own ideological boundaries, to attempt, however exasperatingly and however much it makes you want to hose yourself down with the cool fire of intellectual clarity afterwards, to enter the minds of your enemies, or those with whom you merely disagree, or -- perhaps most challenging of all -- with those whose mental gyrations you simply cannot fathom in the slightest.

Behold, the Undecideds. Have you heard of this bizarre, nefarious group? The millions of faceless, slow-blinking, mentally unattached Americans who are, right this minute, with mere days to go before the most historic election in our lifetime and when faced with what seems to be the most glaringly obvious divisions of attitude and perspective you could possibly imagine, still "on the fence" about Obama or McCain, love or hate, country or disco, Paris or Fresno, oil or water, Porsche or Pinto?

Do you know anyone from this group? Those who have the uncanny ability to stare straight at the biggest issues and most momentous decisions of their very lives, and shrug?

Odds are very good you do. Because they are, apparently, legion. And pivotal. And they are, it must be said, one of the most baffling groups in world history. Impenetrable. Unnerving. As such, it is perhaps a worthy experiment to try to enter the Undecided mind, to examine what might be going on -- or, as the case may be, not going on.

What we risk: instant madness, increased frustration, screaming. What we stand to gain: perspective, empathy, more screaming. Shall we?

The choice

McCain is having second thoughts about his pro-life stance

News Groper: These Blogs Are Not Real

October 23rd, 2008

Hi Michael Dare! 

With this news of the shopping spree making waves, McCain wondered if it would be possible to abort a 44-year-old running mate. Also, Bin Laden took credit for an attack and Christian Bale is upset he can't be the Joker for Halloween.

My rejected SNL sketches by Sarah Palin

Suck it AIG by Jim Cramer


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The Late American Space

by Hervé Kempf

MacLean "describes for us, with neither animosity nor complacency, how America has changed in a generation, spreading everywhere the tentacles of a life based on the car, which ends up eating space even as it isolates human beings. (Photo: Alex MacLean / "Over: The American Landscape at the Tipping Point")

    Alex MacLean
    "Over: The American Landscape at the Tipping Point"
     Abrams, New York: October 2008
     336 pages

    We regret to inform you that the American myth has given up the ghost. It had been fashioned by the anxious wonder of generations of Europeans discovering this unexplored continent, unlimited space just made for every kind of adventure. That has vanished, devoured by shopping centers, golf courses, residential areas, parking lots, hangars, factories. America was empty; now it is full. It was infinite; now it's restricted. It was open; now it's divided into grids.

    One felt this conclusion ripen over the course of trips, as one looked at pictures, like a proof the contours of which slowly emerge in the developing bath of a photo lab. Now it's achieved the stage of final clarity, that is, of revelation.

    The agent for this operation of elucidation is Alex MacLean, an aerial photographer by trade, whose simultaneously superb and surgical snapshots draw up the death certificate for the naive age of the United States. His book's title, "Over" is as clear as its double meaning: "over" as in the photographer covering his subject as he flies over it and "over" as in "the game is over." What game? That of the infinite, of the inexhaustible horn of abundance, of the pioneers' wagons traveling across the plains at a slow mule's pace, of cars rushing by for hours across the desert, of the solitary meditations of Thoreau and Abbey, of the solar wanderings of Kerouac or Lolita.

Always Were, Always Will Be

George Will, Rush Limbaugh, Pat Buchanan, are bigots.  Deep down inside, or bubbling unbid to the open in the face of having nothing else in their bag of tricks, they believe that America means conservativism and conservatism stands for the preservation of an America perpetually dominated by wealthy white males.

Attacking the messenger is predictable fodder this close to an election, but when the messenger is someone as distinguished and respected as Colin Powell, especially in Republican circles, there's not a who heckuvalot of ammunition available, not when he says something like this, what Juan Cole calls his "finest moment."

I'm also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the party say. And it is permitted to be said such things as, "Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim." Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he's a Christian. He's always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, "He's a Muslim and he might be associated terrorists." This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay was of a mother in Arlington Cemetery, and she had her head on the headstone of her son's grave. And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone. And it gave his awards–Purple Heart, Bronze Star–showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death. He was 20 years old. And then, at the very top of the headstone, it didn't have a Christian cross, it didn't have the Star of David, it had crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, and he was an American. He was born in New Jersey. He was 14 years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he can go serve his country, and he gave his life. Now, we have got to stop polarizing ourselves in this way. And John McCain is as nondiscriminatory as anyone I know. But I'm troubled about the fact that, within the party, we have these kinds of expressions.'

People, it's common knowledge that the GOP is a sanctuary for racists.  Argue if you must, but it is merely a side-effect of political correctness that we never discuss in polite company just why they don't attract minorities or better educated constituencies, and are left with bed-wetting nutbags

Birds of a feather . . .

I plan on bein' rich!

Voting Machines Switch Votes; Officials Blame Voters

By Kim Zetter


Voters using touch-screen voting machines for early voting in two West Virginia counties have complained that when they tried to vote for Democratic candidates, the machine registered their vote for other Republican candidates instead.

At least three voters in Jackson County, West Virginia, complained that when they tried to cast a vote for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, the machine recorded a check in the box for Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

One of the voters reported the same problem in the governor and state senate races. In each case, the voter tried to cast a vote for a Democratic candidate, but the machine marked his vote for the Republican challenger instead. Another voter who tried to cast votes for two state Supreme Court candidates said the machine cancelled one of her choices twice before it finally accepted her selection.

Three other voters in Putnam County say they had the same problem.

Jackson County Clerk Jeff Waybright blamed voters for not touching the screen properly and said that 400 other voters had cast ballots on the machine with no problem. But he agreed to recalibrate the machine's screen after the Secretary of State's office contacted him.

More W.Va. voters say machines are switching votes

In six cases, Democratic votes flipped to GOP

WINFIELD, W.Va. -- Three Putnam County voters say electronic voting machines changed their votes from Democrats to Republicans when they cast early ballots last week.

This is the second West Virginia county where voters have reported this problem. Last week, three voters in Jackson County told The Charleston Gazette their electronic vote for "Barack Obama" kept flipping to "John McCain".

In both counties, Republicans are responsible for overseeing elections. Both county clerks said the problem is isolated.

They also blamed voters for not being more careful.

"People make mistakes more than machines," said Jackson County Clerk Jeff Waybright.

Shelba Ketchum, a 69-year-old nurse retired from Thomas Memorial Hospital, described what happened Friday at the Putnam County Courthouse in Winfield.

"I pushed buttons and they all came up Republican," she said. "I hit Obama and it switched to McCain. I am really concerned about that. If McCain wins, there was something wrong with the machines.

"I asked them for a printout of my votes," Ketchum said. "But they said it was in the machine and I could not get it. I did not feel right when I left the courthouse. My son felt the same way.


Election Integrity Filmmaker Sees Own Vote Flipped on ESS Touch-Screens in TN

Blogged by Brad Friedman
David and Patricia Earnhardt Report Their Problems During Early Voting in Nashville
Obama Vote Won't Register, Then Flips to Other Candidate, as Similarly Reported Recently in WV...

Now comes the vote-flipping on touch-screen machines in Davidson County (Nashville), TN, where early voting has also begun. This time, the problems occurred for David and Patricia Earnhardt, the director and executive producer of the award-winning election integrity documentary, Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections which details the history of problems with electronic voting across the nation and some of the whistleblowers and EI advocates who've helped to bring the matter to light. [Disclosure: The BRAD BLOG is prominently featured in the film.]

The Earnhardts' story of what happened to them last Friday when, among other things, Patricia's attempt to vote for Obama on the ES&S touch-screen wouldn't register at all, and at one point, with a poll-worker trying to help, had actually registered a vote for Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney --- five rows away from Obama on the screen --- follows below.

The first reports of vote-flipping on touch-screen machines (we expect many more, as we saw in both '04 and especially in '06) came in from two counties last week in West Virginia, which also uses ES&S touch screens across the entire state.

The machines in both TN and WV need to be taken out of use and impounded immediately. So far, it's been Democrats, again, who are being affected by these problems, while votes are flipping from Democratic candidates to others. While the DNC and the Obama campaign ought to be raising holy hell, so far they are not...

Action alert: help get the word out about confusing North Carolina ballots


An Online Magazine in the Reality-Based Community.

by: jonpincus

NOTE FROM PAM: Early voting in NC has been a roaring success, with long lines of people eager to cast their ballots, but it's all for naught if people are not aware that in the Tar Heel State "straight ticket" votes don't count for Presidential candidates or judges. There are signs but new voters are particularly vulnerable to missing this key information. If in doubt, voters can learn more at the N.C. Center for Voter Education. Below the fold is a sample NC ballot.
In a classic example of confusing ballot design, a "straight party" vote in North Carolina does not include the presidential contest.  If you want to vote for a president, you need to make an additional mark in the presidential contest even if you've chosen a straight party vote.  (See detailed instructions in the first comment.)

This policy has been in place for over 40 years (added by Dixiecrats in 1967), and historically has resulted in at least a 1% "undervote" -- people not choosing a presidential candidate.  With huge numbers of new voters this year, there's a lot of concerns that it could be even higher.  While there are signs up in polling places, and many (most?) poll workers give instructions as they give the ballots out, there are already many reports of people mis-voting.

voter suppression wiki logo

This is exactly the kind of situation where we hope the Voter Suppression Wiki can add a lot of value, supplementing the other educational efforts.  So let's give it a try, and help get the word out!


War erodes respect of press freedoms: media group

Press photographers
Reuters – Press photographers 'embedded' with the U.S. Navy work on the flight deck of the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft …

PARIS (Reuters) – The United States and Israel, despite their democratic credentials, fall down badly in their respect for press freedoms in conflict zones, a media group said on Wednesday.

Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said the U.S. had slipped to 119th in respect of press freedoms outside its own territory in an annual ranking of more than 160 countries, from a joint ranking at 111 in its previous annual report.

Israel, whose armed forces killed a Palestinian journalist this year for the first time since 2003, was 149th on the list for press freedoms beyond its frontiers, compared with 103rd place in RSF's 2007 rankings.

Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana was killed in April by a shell packed with darts fired from an Israeli tank in the Gaza Strip. Israel's senior military lawyer said troops could not see whether Shana had been operating a camera or a weapon but were nevertheless justified in firing.;_ylt=AupKWtTu0hbWITjY0g_4zHSek3QF

McCain/Palin: Putting Japan First

by Kagro X

"Drill, baby, drill!" "Sell out to the Japanese, baby, sell out to the Japanese!"

The Republicans have just spent a month going completely frothy over the need to drill for oil and natural gas in every backyard in America, claiming it'll lower gasoline prices at the pump.

But did you know that in the meantime, they've been preparing to secret all that natural gas out of the country and sell it to the Japanese?

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) did:

               September 2, 2008

The Honorable Samuel W. Bodman
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20585

Dear Secretary Bodman,

    On June 3, 2008 and July 30, 2008 respectively, your Department issued and affirmed an order pursuant to Section 3 of the Natural Gas Act that will allow two major integrated oil companies – ConocoPhillips and Marathon Oil – to export 98.1 billion cubic feet of Alaskan natural gas to Japan and other Pacific Rim countries.  This order, which will allow the export of as much natural gas as is used by 1.4 million American families in a year, comes at a time when the President had demanded that the moratoria on oil and gas drilling along our environmentally-sensitive coastal areas be lifted and Americans are being warned that their winter heating bills are going to be dramatically higher.   The Administration is trying to have it both ways – arguing that we need to drill everywhere because we don't have adequate energy supplies, while finding that we have so much energy that big oil companies can export it overseas and keep prices here at home higher than they would otherwise be.

Well, well, well. Energy prices going through the roof in the U.S., supposedly because we're not drilling enough, and the Republicans are selling what we are drilling out the back door! Wish I could say this was a surprise.

And sakes alive! Who'd have guessed it'd be Slick Sarah Palin and the Alaskans selling it off? We're all paying through the nose for our energy needs down here, Republicans are wetting themselves over the supposed need for more drilling, and Slick Sarah and her cronies are hawking their America's wares to overseas bidders. Which, not coincidentally, has the effect of hiking the prices Reg'lar Hockey MomsTM pay to, say, heat the seats in their new boondoggle hockey rinks, and, it seems, boosting the dividend checks paid directly to... Alaskan families like Sarah Palin's, who received $3200 per head this year. Wow! I haven't seen a scam this blatant since yesterday, when we found out Slick Sarah was charging Alaska taxpayers $60 a day to sleep in and munch those mooseburgers in her own kitchen.

Hollywood Director Attack Ads

John McCain turns to famous Hollywood directors for help with his attack ads.