Saturday, October 25, 2008

Bye, Now

Rats, fleeing the sinking ship:
Republican nominee John McCain heads into the final week of a historic presidential election beset by a wave of high-profile GOP defections and the second-guessing and recriminations from ostensibly friendly quarters that losing campaigns attract like flies.


Voter Tampering

The White House knows how to do it:

President George W. Bush late Friday asked Attorney General Michael Mukasey to investigate whether hundreds of thousands of newly registered voters in the battleground state of Ohio would have to verify the information on their voter registration forms or be given provisional ballots, an issue the U.S. Supreme Court weighed in on last week.

The unprecedented intervention by the White House less than two weeks before the presidential election may result in at least 200,000 voters in Ohio not being able to vote on Election Day. Information on the 200,000 voter registration forms does not match up exactly with information on government databases. Republicans are claiming that's evidence of voter registration fraud.

But the mismatched information can be attributed to misspellings and other minor mistakes, not a malicious intent on the part of voters to cast fraudulent ballots.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Gramsci, Not Patrolling, But Very Circular

Gramsci would, however, just like to add that he's on to you, and all this circular resting doesn't disguise his fundamental alertness.

Gramsci would also like you to know that, as a Feline-American who is unable to vote, he would appreciate it if you, like his food providers, would vote for Obama.

Personally, I should add I have a student whose 4-year-old son is the biggest Obama fan I know - he kisses Obama posters, and has been (with his mom, my student, who's awesome) to see Obama 2 times in person, and tells his conservative father about how great Obama is. (So, obviously, not just a case of parroting parental views!!!) He was at a kids' election event with a faux voting booth and got incredibly excited because he thought he could vote for Obama. So, for this 4-year-old white boy, who at the dinner table gives thanks this way: "I am thankful for Obama, because I want change. That's all." - vote for Obama, because this kid is 4 and can't vote, but it's his future we're all voting on, and I think he gets it as much, if not more than, any of us adults do.



Sometimes it's easy to feel that America is a lost cause when it comes to racism:
In a gruesome case with powerful echoes of the dragging death of James Byrd a decade ago, a black man was killed underneath a pickup truck in East Texas and two white men have been charged with murder.
McClelland died after going with two white friends on a late-night beer run across the state line to Oklahoma, investigators said. Authorities said he was run over and dragged as much as 70 feet beneath the truck. His torn-apart body was discovered along a bloodstained rural road on Sept. 16. His mother said pieces of his skull could still be found three days later.

According to court papers, Finley and Charles Ryan Crostley, both 27, told police they left the dry town to get beer in Oklahoma, and on the way back, the three men, all apparently drunk, argued about who was sober enough to drive. McClelland, an unmarried maintenance worker, decided to walk home, taking some beer with him, the men told police.

But Finley's estranged wife and one of his friends said they had been told by the two defendants that Finley began to bump McClelland with the front of his truck until McClelland fell, and Finley drove over him, according to court papers. Crostley and Finley then allegedly drove to a car wash to clean off the blood.



McCain has them:
An acclaimed celebrity makeup artist for Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin collected more money from John McCain's campaign than his foreign policy adviser. Amy Strozzi, who works on the reality show "So You Think You Can Dance" and has been Palin's traveling stylist, was paid $22,800, according to campaign finance reports for the first two weeks in October. In contrast, McCain's foreign policy adviser, Randy Scheunemann, was paid $12,500, the report showed.


Re-Elect Me, Please!

Even though I'm a hateful person!
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) has taped an advertisement apologizing for her televised comments calling Barack Obama anti-American, according to a Republican source familiar with her campaign’s decision.
The move comes as polling, both public and internal, shows Bachmann rapidly losing ground in her reelection bid.


Staying the Course

Unfortunately, the course leads downward:
Wall Street joined stock markets around the world in a huge selloff Friday, sending major market indexes to their lowest levels in more than five years on the belief that a punishing economic recession is at hand. A grim outlook from electronics maker Sony helped trigger the selling, and another bleak forecast from the automaker Daimler added momentum to the drop.

U.S. trading was dramatic and fractious, with the Dow Jones industrials falling more than 500 points soon after the opening bell. The blue chips followed the pattern of recent sessions, recovering ground only to fall sharply again, before ending the day with a loss of 312. All the major indexes fell more than 3 percent.


Scary Malaysian Tomboys!

Absurdity abounds:
Malaysia’s main body of Islamic clerics has issued an edict banning ‘tomboys’ in the Muslim-majority country, ruling that girls who act like boys violate the tenets of Islam, an official said Friday.



A new low for the homophobic bigots:

Pay up or else, marriage equality foes have written to several businesses who have made donations towards the defeat of California's constitutional gay marriage ban, Proposition 8.

"This letter is so blunt, so demanding, that at first, a Yes on 8 campaign spokesperson told me it's a scam," said KFMB reporter Steve Price. "And then, she called me back later today and said, nope. This letter is real."

"This outrageous attempt to raise money by using threats," EQCA executive director Geoff Kors said, "reveals their true agenda: to harm the LGBT community, our organizations, our allies and our supporters, permanently."

San Diego businessman and Equality California board member Jim Abbott, whose firm recently donated $10,000 to EQCA's No on 8 campaign, received one of the letters from, which were sent to about thirty companies. "We are sure that you would want to review the way that they are using Abbott & Associates' name, since many more of your clients support traditional marriage than support same-sex marriage," it reads. "We respectfully request that Abbott & Associates withdraw its support of Equality California. Make a donation of a like amount to which will help us correct this error and restore Traditional Marriage."


The "Real America"

Reminds me of why I dislike St. Louis so very much:

Several sixth-graders from suburban St. Louis are being disciplined for creating "Hit a Jew Day" and then hitting Jewish classmates.

Four or five students at Parkway West Middle School in Chesterfield could be suspended and undergo counseling for last week's incident, school officials told the Associated Press. Others who taunted Jewish students or encouraged others to participate face lesser punishment.

Officials said fewer than 10 of the school's 35 Jewish students were hit. One was slapped in the face and the others were hit mostly on the back of their shoulders.


Tista On Patrol

Checkin' out his territory, making sure everything's OK.

We feel much safer after he's given things the "tails-up"!


Navajo Nation Endorses Obama


WINDOW ROCK — The Navajo Nation Council went out on a limb Tuesday and endorsed Democratic candidate Barack Obama for U.S. president in hopes of a new era of federal Indian policy.

In doing so, Council snubbed one of Arizona’s own — Sen. John McCain. But according to Dennehotso Delegate Kathryn Benally, McCain has snubbed Navajo for the past 24 years. “What has he done for us? He refuses to open the door to us when we go to the Hill. He refuses our requests for additional funding, and at this point in time, he stands there and says, ‘It is my pride that I do not support earmarks.’

“You know, that is who we are — we are earmarks!” she said. “He refuses to stand up for us and give us the funding that we deserve. He’s not going to turn around in the next four or eight years and remember us.”

It's worth the reminder that the Navajo Nation, aside from being here since long before the U.S., has also contributed substantially to the U.S. The WWII Code Talkers were Navajos, and the U.S. nuclear program for some time depended on the uranium found on Navajo land. (And health consequences of the uranium mining continue to this day, mine tailings are still not fully cleaned up, and some areas still have levels of radiation far too high for healthy living (both in the land and in the water).)

And somehow, it's not surprising that McCain doesn't give a rat's ass about any of that.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Timely Justice

I'm glad the government got on top of this issue right away:
A federal judge has held a hearing on the meaning of "enemy combatant," which the US government uses to justify holding suspects indefinitely.


Smell the Fear

The GOP can see what's coming:
An internal document circulating among House Republicans warns of an impending congressional bloodbath, listing 58 Republican-held House seats being at risk, and 11 already considered as good as gone. As many as 34 GOP-held seats are in serious jeopardy of swinging to Democrats, the assessment shows.


Lead Poisoning for the People!

Hurray. Can we please get an administration that will stop politicizing governmental functions?
After the White House intervened, the Environmental Protection Agency last week weakened a rule on airborne lead standards at the last minute so that fewer polluters would have their emissions monitored.


Gray Lady on Life Support?

Not a good sign:
Not sure how it came to this so fast, but the New York Times (NYT) is approaching the point where it will have to manage its business primarily to conserve cash and avoid defaulting on its debt. This situation will only get worse as advertising revenue continues to fall, and it will be very serious by early next year.

The company has only $46 million of cash. It appears to be burning more than it is taking in--and plugging the hole with debt. Specifically, it is funding operations by rolling over short-term loans--the kind that banks worldwide are cancelling or making prohibitively expensive to save their own skins:

At the end of the quarter, cash and cash equivalents were approximately $46 million and total debt was approximately $1.1 billion. The Companys current source of short-term funding is its revolving credit agreements under which it had approximately $398 million in borrowings outstanding at the end of the quarter.


Generational Effect

Social conservativism's days are numbered:
The popularity of the Democrats among voters under 30 - and young Americans’ progressive views on everything from same-sex marriage to race and immigration - could have a significant impact not just on U.S. society in the years to come, but on party politics.

If, as some predict, the death knell is sounding for social conservatism in the United States, the Republican party has a day of reckoning ahead after years of pandering to the far right among its supporters.

“The Republican party is in danger of turning itself into a regional minority party, a party of southeastern Bible-thumping zealots,” Eric Lotke, research director of the Campaign to Change America, an organization committed to promoting liberalism in the United States, said Wednesday.

I'm not entirely sure I can believe this, as people in America do tend to drift to the right as they age.

But one can hope.


Job Security

Bernanke wants it:
Ben Bernanke apparently wants four more years as Federal Reserve Chairman. At least that's a reasonable conclusion after Mr. Bernanke all but submitted his job application to Barack Obama yesterday by endorsing the Democratic version of fiscal "stimulus."

Mr. Bernanke could have begged off -- and would have been wiser to do so -- given how much the Fed has already made itself a political lightning rod with its many Wall Street interventions. He might also have thought twice about endorsing one party's policy preferences a mere two weeks before Election Day given his obligation to preserve the Fed's independence. We can remember when tougher Fed chairmen used to refrain from adjusting interest rates close to an election for fear of seeming to be political; they would never have dreamed of meddling in campaign tax and spending debates.

Perhaps Mr. Bernanke's blunderbuss political intrusion will win him more Democrat friends, and maybe even Mr. Obama's goodwill. To the rest of the world, he has harmed the Fed and made himself less credible.


Business As Usual

When the GOP gets nervous, they go straight for the fearmongering and gay-bashing:

A new anti-gay offensive has been launched against Democratic North Carolina state senator and U.S. Senate candidate Kay Hagan. Campaign literature produced by the North Carolina Republican Party has been mailed to households in the state, PageOneQ has learned.

A new mailer in support of incumbent Sen. Elizabeth Dole claims that Hagan's agenda, with the help of "liberal judges," will be to advance a "radical homosexual agenda" which includes same-sex marriage, removing "Under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance, and forcing the Boy Scouts to accept gay and atheist troop leaders.

Hagan's opposition to an anti-gay amendment is the focus of the mailer. "Across America," it reads, "liberal judges are overturning state laws banning gay marriage. In North Carolina a state constitutional amendment is needed to protect traditional marriage and prevent liberal judges from imposing their gay marriage agenda on the state."


Couldn't Have Happened to a Nicer Guy

My heart bleeds:
Renowned investor Harold Simmons is no wimp when it comes to a fight.

He played a central role in the development of leveraged buyouts and corporate takeovers and once tried to gain control of Lockheed Martin (LMT, Fortune 500). He's funded Republican candidates and conservative attack-ad campaigns, including the current one linking Barack Obama to one-time domestic terrorist Bill Ayers.

But these days the Dallas-based billionaire isn't only delivering punches, he's taking them - his empire hit hard by the stock market's general decline and by cost and demand issues related to his companies' industrial products.

Simmons' losses (or, more directly, losses by trusts controlled by Simmons) over the past year could amount to just over $4 billion, based on the trusts' ownership stakes in six publicly-traded companies as spelled out in the 2008 proxy statement for Valhi Corp.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008


McCain is still tight with the Keatings, it would seem:
Campaign finance records have revealed that the law firm founded by Charles Keating - before he went to jail for fraud, racketeering, and conspiracy for his activities as chairman of Lincoln Savings and Loans - has made donations totalling over $50,000 to McCain's campaign.

The Center for Responsive Politics has done the maths, and says: "In amounts ranging from $200 to $2,300, about 30 partners and employees of the legal firm Keating, Muething and Klekamp, as well as their family members, have contributed $50,200 to McCain's 2008 campaign. All but two of the contributions came in July, and all but three of those July donations were logged on July 31, suggesting they were delivered at the same time. As with any bundle of campaign contributions, it's difficult to determine which donor was the "bundler," the person who solicited the contributions on the campaign's behalf. McCain's online roster of bundlers, which purports to name any individual bundling $50,000 or more for the campaign, does not associate any of McCain's major fundraisers with the Keating firm."

This is not improper in itself, and the only Keating included in the bundle is William J. Keating, Jr., Charles Keating's nephew, who is listed as a partner in the firm and contributed $1,000.

But it reminds us of McCain's role in "The Keating Five," a group of senators who received a total of $1.4 million in campaign contributions connected to Keating and personally intervened with government regulators to allow Lincoln Savings and Loans to make highly risky investments that defrauded thousands of investors and cost taxpayers $3.4 billion.

Keating, now 84, once wrote to McCain that "I'm yours till death do us part". Could he be keeping his promise?


"Crushing Defeat"

Yet another embarrassment for Bush:
The final draft of the U.S.-Iraq Status of Forces agreement on the U.S. military presence represents an even more crushing defeat for the policy of the George W. Bush administration than previously thought, the final text reveals.


The Elitists

It ain't the Dems

Since early September, the Republican National Committee (RNC) has spent more than $150,000 dressing the Palins, shopping at department stores across the country. According to financial disclosure records, there was a $75,062.63 spree in Neiman-Marcus in Minneapolis, Minnesota and $5,102.71 in New York. Other purchases included a $92 romper and matching hat with ears for Palin's baby, Trig, at a baby store in Minneapolis. It is unlikely that her fellow "American moms" have such a budget.

The Republicans have been trying to pitch themselves as the party for the heartland's hardworking man: Cindy McCain appeared at the Republican national convention in an outfit costing around $300,000. Michelle Obama, by contrast, was estimated to have spent $1,500 on her outfit for the Democratic national convention.


Texas Has Still Got It

Even with Bush long gone, Texans still love them some killin':
The state of Texas has scheduled ten executions in 30 days, a record in the southern state that is already the US leader in capital punishment, having put more than 400 people to death in 30 years.



The Dow ended with a loss of 514 points -- or 5.7 percent -- to 8,519.

The S&P fell 58 points to 897.

And the Nasdaq composite lost about 81 points to 1,615.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers by a 5-to-1 margin.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008


The radical leftist academic organization known as the MLA is meeting there this year:

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- In this live-and-let-live town, where medical marijuana clubs do business next to grocery stores and an annual fair celebrates sadomasochism, prostitutes could soon walk the streets without fear of arrest.

San Francisco would become the first major U.S. city to decriminalize prostitution if voters next month approve Proposition K - a measure that forbids local authorities from investigating, arresting or prosecuting anyone for selling sex.

And I'll be there.


Gitmo Lives

Surprise, more hypocrisy:
Despite his stated desire to close the American prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, President Bush has decided not to do so, and never considered proposals drafted in the State Department and the Pentagon that outlined options for transferring the detainees elsewhere, according to senior administration officials.



Getting worse:
More families with children are becoming homeless as they face mounting economic pressures, including mortgage foreclosures, according to a USA TODAY survey of a dozen of the largest cities in the nation.

Local authorities say the number of families seeking help has risen in Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Minneapolis, New York, Phoenix, Portland, Seattle and Washington.

"Everywhere I go, I hear there is an increase" in the need for housing aid, especially for families, says Philip Mangano, executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, which coordinates federal programs. He says the main causes are job losses and foreclosures.


Just Lovely

These next couple of weeks ain't gonna be pretty:
The carcass of a black bear that had been shot in the head was found wrapped in Barack Obama campaign signs on a North Carolina campus on Monday.


Monday, October 20, 2008

We Have to Win

Herman Schwartz of The Nation provides a laundry list of reasons we cannot give the GOP the power to appoint Supreme Court justices for the next four years:
The upcoming presidential election will shape the Supreme Court for decades to come. John Paul Stevens is 88, David Souter dislikes Washington and the 75-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been treated for cancer. One or more of these liberal Justices will probably leave the bench in the next four years. The replacement of one or two of them by a conservative would mean a rollback of key rulings of recent years.



McCain was against them before he was for them:

Three pre-recorded phone calls are making the rounds in swing states such as Missouri and Ohio. One chides Obama for holding a Hollywood fundraiser during the economic crisis, another attacks his abortion record, and a third says ominously that Obama has "worked closely" with Ayers – a claim debunked widely in the press.

Palin is not the first in her party to publicly criticise the McCain robocall strategy. Two Republican senators who face tough re-election battles this year, Susan Collins of Maine and Norm Coleman of Minnesota, have urged McCain to stop the calls.

McCain has come under fire for running anti-Obama robocalls created by the same firm that devised a brutal smear campaign against him eight years ago during his Republican primary race against George W Bush.

The calls broadcast to South Carolina voters in 2000 suggested wrongly that McCain's adopted Bangladeshi daughter was an illegitimate black child. After the phoned-in rumours were credited with pushing Bush to victory that year, McCain vowed not to use robocalls as a political tactic.



Strange stuff:
Two U.S. fighter planes were scrambled and ordered to shoot down an unidentified flying object (UFO) over the English countryside during the Cold War, according to secret files made public Monday.

One pilot said he was seconds away from firing 24 rockets at the object, which moved erratically and gave a radar reading like "a flying aircraft carrier."

The pilot, Milton Torres, now 77 and living in Miami, said it spent periods motionless in the sky before reaching estimated speeds of more than 7,600 mph.

After the alert, a shadowy figure told Torres he must never talk about the incident and he duly kept silent for more than 30 years.

His story was among dozens of UFO sightings in defense ministry files released at the National Archives in London.


"The order came to fire a salvo of rockets at the UFO. The authentication was valid and I selected 24 rockets.

"I had a lock-on that had the proportions of a flying aircraft carrier," he added. "The larger the airplane, the easier the lock-on. This blip almost locked itself."

At the last moment, the object disappeared from the radar screen and the high-speed chase was called off.

He returned to base and was debriefed the next day by an unnamed man who "looked like a well-dressed IBM salesman."

"He threatened me with a national security breach if I breathed a word about it to anyone," he said.


So Much for States' Rights

Palin is already breaking to the right:
Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin says she supports a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, a break with John McCain who has said he believes states should be left to define what marriage is. In an interview with Christian Broadcasting Network, the Alaska governor said she had voted in 1998 for a state amendment banning same sex marriage and hoped to see a federal ban on such unions.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Grandmother v. McCain

Good for her:
A Kansas City grandmother is suing John McCain and Sarah Palin for promoting hate speech. Mary Kay Green told KSHB that some statements at McCain campaign rallies terrify her as much as the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
Green believe that Palin has been working crowds into a frenzy. There have been reports from McCain campaign rallies with words like "kill him," "off with his head," and "Muslim terrorist."

According to Green, her father managed the Nebraska campaigns of John and Robert Kennedy. After both were felled by assassins, her father died "of grief."

"I think John McCain and Sarah Palin have no understanding of what we went through as a nation," she said. "[The lawsuit] will be dismissed as soon as I hear public statements from these two candidates that they abhor these death threats and that they will not tolerate these intruders in their audiences."


I Blame ACORN!

Or something:
Freddie Mac secretly paid a Republican consulting firm $2 million to kill legislation that would have regulated and trimmed the mortgage finance giant and its sister company, Fannie Mae, three years before the government took control to prevent their collapse.

In the cross hairs of the campaign carried out by DCI of Washington were Republican senators and a regulatory overhaul bill sponsored by Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb. DCI's chief executive is Doug Goodyear, whom John McCain's campaign later hired to manage the GOP convention in September.

Freddie Mac's payments to DCI began shortly after the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee sent Hagel's bill to the then GOP-run Senate on July 28, 2005. All GOP members of the committee supported it; all Democrats opposed it.



I'm too tired even to feel surprise:

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.