I believe President Bush is wrong. All Americans should be concerned when a President who is in political trouble tries to tamper with the Constitution of the United States at the start of his reelection campaign.
This President can't talk about jobs. He can't talk about health care. He can't talk about a foreign policy, which has driven away allies and weakened the United States, so he is looking for a wedge issue to divide the American people.
Not a gay marriage post, but news: I left the house for the first time since I got home on Friday!
When I'm sick I get bored, and also get weird cravings. I've desperately wanted some glazed donuts since last night, when Stef admonished me not to go get any. Stef had to go into town this afternoon, and since she wasn't here to counterbalance my craving, I ran out to the General Store to buy junk food, including donuts. I also replenished our chicken noodle soup supply, so I'll be on the road to recovery in no time...
My friends, this election is about much more than who gets what. It is about who we are. It is about what we believe. It is about what we stand for as Americans. There is a religious war going on in our country for the soul of America. It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we will one day be as was the Cold War itself.
Everything old is new again. No wonder I still feel sick.
WAR IS DECLARED: The president launched a war today against the civil rights of gay citizens and their families. And just as importantly, he launched a war to defile the most sacred document in the land. Rather than allow the contentious and difficult issue of equal marriage rights to be fought over in the states, rather than let politics and the law take their course, rather than keep the Constitution out of the culture wars, this president wants to drag the very founding document into his re-election campaign. He is proposing to remove civil rights from one group of American citizens - and do so in the Constitution itself. The message could not be plainer: these citizens do not fully belong in America. Their relationships must be stigmatized in the very Constitution itself.
'bout time Andy woke up and smelled the bigoted coffee.
Why...should it be said that the liberty of the press shall not be restrained, when no power is given by which restrictions may be imposed? I will not contend that such a provision would confer a regulating power; but it is evident that it would furnish, to men disposed to usurp, a plausible pretense for claiming that power. They might urge with a semblance of reason, that the Constitution ought not to be charged with the absurdity of providing against the abuse of an authority which was not given, and that the provision against restraining the liberty of the press afforded a clear implication, that a power to prescribe proper regulations concerning it was intended to be vested in the national government. This may serve as a specimen of the numerous handles which would be given to the doctrine of constructive powers, by the indulgence of an injudicious zeal for bills of rights.
What is the liberty of the press? Who can give it any definition which would not leave the utmost latitude for evasion? I hold it to be impracticable; and from this I infer, that its security, whatever fine declarations may be inserted in any constitution respecting it, must altogether depend on public opinion, and on the general spirit of the people and of the government. And here, after all, as is intimated upon another occasion, must we seek for the only solid basis of all our rights.
I bring up this passage because it has always struck me as one of the most important constitutional concepts. Our founding document (which I ofttimes affectionately and lazily call the Big C) is a "prudent" document, if I might borrow from information security. That means our Constitution denies the government the right to do anything, except for specific powers enumerated in the various articles. In other words, anything not explicitly deemed to be in the demesne of the government is something denied to the government, and reserved as a right for the People (and/or the Several States).
That's a much better approach to defining government (or a security policy) than being "permissive"; that is to say, that the government can do anything it wants except for X, Y, and Z2. That would make it much easier for a government to overstep its bounds, and much harder for people to regulate said government. Inherently, then, the Big C is a prudent security blueprint that limits what the government can do, all with the intent of protecting us from unwarranted intrusions into our lives.
And that was the point Hamilton (aka Publius) was making, specifically about the concern many people had that the proposed constitution lacked a bill of rights. His concern was that if you take the approach that you must spell out the rights of the People, you open the door for abuse even if you aren't really allowing government to regulate said rights. In my mind this also means you've just taken a step toward implying that if a right is not defined, it is either not important or worse, doesn't exist.
So I look at the current brouhaha over gay marriage. Some people in various venues have claimed there is no right to marry. I disagree strongly. The right to love and join someone in a meaningful union is self-evident, natural, and clearly something that is protected by the Big C because the government was not granted the right to regulate marriage3. Having the government in the business of defining this institution is an overstep of grievous proportions.
Of course, this is why the President and his bigoted partners in crime must resort to amending our Constitution. Once they define marriage in this way, then any considerations of Amendment I, or Amendment XIV or a Hamiltonian view are moot. The government will thereby be granted the power to regulate what marriage is and to whom it applies.
As most of you are aware, the last time we did such tinkering at the behest of moralizers was in 1919 with the adoption of Amendment XVIII--that was repealed in 1933 by Amendment XXI. At least Prohibition was not something aimed at only a particular segment of our population. As I alluded to below, when we adopted the Constitution we only counted (black) slaves as three-fifths of a (white) free person for purposes of apportionment. I find it appalling that we here in the 21st century are now going to repeat the 18th century travesty of reducing some of our people to less than full members of society.
This is why an amendment must be fought at all costs4, and I demand that the Democratic candidates stop dancing around the gay marriage issue. It is time for them to stand on principle and defend a fundamental civil and human right. It is also time for them to defend our founding document from tinkering and from being fundamentally altered in its purpose, for an amendment prohibiting gay marriage5 will change the Constitution from one that places limits on the powers of government to one that restricts the rights of the people.
1 - Okay, I lied. Sorry, but I needed a hook.
2 - The analogy I use in class is a parent trying to regulate a child's behavior. If you tell your child not to draw on the wall with crayon, they could view that as license to draw on the wall with a marker.
3 - In addition to my Hamiltonian perspective wrt to our right to marry, I note that Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights explicitly asserts that marriage is a right, though it is sufficiently vague on what "marriage" is.
4 - Of course it's not easy to amend the Big C, and clearly this is more crass, cynical political pandering on Bush's part, but if we don't stand against this, it could still happen.
5 - One proposal is S. J. RES. 26, which reads: Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the Constitution of any State, nor State or Federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.
[Update: I corrected a few items, and reorganized the footnotes.]
¶ 11:54 AM
President Bush on Wednesday will back a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in an attempt to halt same-sex unions like the thousands that have been allowed this month in San Francisco, the White House announced Wednesday [sic].
Nothing like codifying bigotry into our founding document once again. Maybe they'll also revive the notion that some people should only count as three-fifths for purpose of the census/apportionment.
My last words on He Who Shall Be Ignored come from none other than Howard Dean:
Those who truly want America's leaders to stand up to the corporate special interests and build a better country for working people should recognize that, in 2004, a vote for Ralph Nader is, plain and simple, a vote to re-elect George W. Bush. I hope that Ralph Nader will withdraw his candidacy in the best interests of the country we hope to become.
While the Green Party annoyed me in 2000, I don't blame Nader voters for our current mess. Everybody has a right to vote their conscience, and I think Dems who still get angry with the voters really need to remember what a democracy is all about. But those same voters need to recognize that every vote taken away from the Dems this year does help Bush (Rook's theories aside), and there are times when you do need to consider voting strategically. Now that we know exactly how dangerous Bush is, can we please keep our eyes on the prize?
Okay, no more on HWSBI, unless he comes to his senses.
[Update: fixed some typos and made a couple other minor edits.]
¶ 2:04 PM
The Bush administration has rejected a plan by Michigan and Vermont to jointly negotiate lower prescription drug prices from pharmaceutical companies, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm said Monday.
The two states were the first to pool their resources for buying drugs under the state-federal Medicaid program providing health care to the poor. Michigan has said the pool purchases would save the state millions of dollars. Other states, including New Hampshire, were considering joining.
Granholm, a Democrat, said she was told late Friday that the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services was rejecting the program as a violation of federal procurement procedures.
How nice that BushCo respects the rights of the Several States to be creative in delivering better services to their people. Lemme guess, "federal procurement procedures" dictate you have to buy at the price set by Bush's Big Pharma buddies. Is it any wonder his Medicare bill is going to cost more than the administration admitted?
[Update: As Lambert says over at corrente: "$5 into your front pocket, $10 out of your back pocket...." And if corrente had implemented Trackback, I would ping the post!]
¶ 1:26 PM
Oy. I don't seem to be getting any better, but I have to have to have to do a conference call today with a customer unless by some miracle it gets postponed. Fortunately I can do that from home. The rest of the day is sick time. I'll probably still blog a little later today because there's only so much napping and Dune: The Machine Crusade I can take.
[Update: 30 minutes into the call we decided to postpone it until Weds due to some glitches. I guess that's good. But I have some other work to do on my sick day. Hopefully it won't take long. I need a nap.]
¶ 8:29 AM
Now enabled after some prodding by Rook. If it's good enough for Atrios and Steve Bates [Update: and upyernoz, and Charles2 and Elayne Riggs], it's good enough for me. And now I gotta go to bed: my head is about to explode.
The Lincoln-Douglas debates created an almost unparalleled furore throughout the whole country. In Illinois the debates were attended by immense crowds, many of the people coming for miles to listen patiently to three hour speeches. The eye of the nation focused on the State of Illinois, which was divided into opposing halves, the northern section against the southern section for slavery.
Each orator endeavored to force the other into admissions which would ruin his chances for Senatorship in these antagonistic sections of Illinois. In the second debate Lincoln put questions to Douglas that if answered to please northern Illinois must offend the South. Lincoln's friends warned him that he would lose the Senatorship if he so questioned his rival, to which he replied: "Gentlemen, I am killing large game; if Douglas answers he can never be President and the battle of 1860 is worth a hundred of this."*
The format was thus: one person spoke for 1 hour, the other spoke for 1.5 hours in reply, then the first speaker got another 30 minutes of "rejoinder". Quite a contrast to today's debates!
And I use the term 'debate' loosely when referring to the silly displays of campaign soundbitism we are accustomed to these days. Would that we could hear something other than prepackaged drivel crammed into 30 or 90 second chunks. Alas, thoughtful discourse seems to have gone the way of the Do-Do.
After class last week, while I was chilling a bit before dinner, I caught Alan Keyes on C-SPAN. Far be it from me to agree with a winger such as he, but I've always found Keyes to be articulate and fundamentally right about a number of things, including his take on debates:
The major party candidates can openly hold exclusionary and stilted pseudo-debates if they want to, but to do so under the rubric of nonpartisanship is an unacceptable lie that gravely damages our democracy.
As we have seen with the circuses we call debates during the Democratic primary season, having too many candidates up on stage doesn't provide for meaningful exchanges, nor a chance to really learn what a person stands for. We certainly don't want every crackpot who has delusions of grandeur to be afforded an opportunity to stand on the soapbox just because they've declared they're running for President. However, limiting the affiars leading up to the general election to the two major parties' nominees seems to be anathema to democracy.
What to do, then? I was thinking that if a candidate has the organization and wherewithal to get enough signatures to put them on the ballot in an appreciable number of states--maybe 3, or maybe the equivalent of 5% of the total votes in the Electoral College--then they should be able to participate. If HWSBI or the Green Party candidate or Joe Schlobotnik can get their act together, I would like to see some diversity in choices presented to the voters (despite my desire to see nobody mess up our chances to defeat Bush this year).
And what of the format? Clearly today's MTV-addled audiences wouldn't stand for a Lincoln-Douglass style of long-winded speechifying, but could we cover issues in a more meaningful way than we've seen of late? What about covering a subject for 5 minutes, with an 8 minute rebuttal, and a 3 minute follow-up? I wonder if Bush could go on for that long--without repeat "September the 11th, 2001" a hundred times, that is.
* Fascinating to hear how strategic Lincoln was in his approach to the debates. And really interesting to think of how slavery shaped campaigns back then in light of the gay marriage issue and its impact on today's race.
¶ 5:35 PM
In San Francisco it is license for marriage between blacks and whites. Maybe the next thing is another city that hands out licenses for assault weapons and someone else hands out licenses for selling drugs, I mean you can't do that.
In my town we're already debating whether we should allow boiling babies and strangling kittens. I tell you, once local governments start disobeying anti-miscegenation laws, all hell will break loose.
Statement will be released at 10:00 a.m. EST on February 23, 2004
Live at Press Conference; Watch CSPAN-2.
I'm already sick, so I won't be watching the statement. His campaign manager has this to say on the front page:
Now that Ralph has decided to run, we are no longer taking a referendum on the question of whether he should. If you encouraged him, we hope you will now help by getting him on the ballot, contributing to the campaign and volunteering at the local level. If you discouraged him and disagree with his decision, don‘t support or vote for him. But please keep an open mind and have the courtesy to recognize that others would like to have the opportunity for more choices and voices in the electoral process to move this country forward. And that is exactly what this campaign will be all about.
Ordinarily I would agree that we need more choices and voices, but let's get one thing straight: this year there's not a dime's worth of difference between Nader and Bush. They both will do whatever they can to make sure Bush gets 4 more years to destroy our country.
[Update: speaking of being sick, Lambert over at corrente reminds us of the etymology of 'ralph'. Heh.]
¶ 9:51 AM
Sir Bedevere: ...and that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana shaped.
King Arthur: This new learning amazes me, Sir Bedevere. Explain again how sheep's bladders may be employed to prevent earthquakes.
Sounds like an exchange you might hear in the Bush administration:
Today, more than 60 leading scientists—including Nobel laureates, leading medical experts, former federal agency directors and university chairs and presidents—issued a statement calling for regulatory and legislative action to restore scientific integrity to federal policymaking. According to the scientists, the Bush administration has, among other abuses, suppressed and distorted scientific analysis from federal agencies, and taken actions that have undermined the quality of scientific advisory panels.
"Across a broad range of issues, the administration has undermined the quality of the scientific advisory system and the morale of the government’s outstanding scientific personnel," said Dr. Kurt Gottfried, emeritus professor of physics at Cornell University and Chairman of the Union of Concerned Scientists. "Whether the issue is lead paint, clean air or climate change, this behavior has serious consequences for all Americans."
I can't wait until we have a real President who appreciates facts, not fanciful musings and faith-based governance. There appears to be hope...
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger intervened Friday in the controversy over gay marriage, asking the state attorney general to take legal steps to stop San Francisco from issuing wedding licenses to same-sex couples.
The governor said the city's granting of marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples presents "an imminent risk to civil order" and warned that "thousands of people appear to be seeking the same unlawful certification as each day passes."
Yes, I understand it's the "rule of law" Ahnold is talking about on the surface, but really we all know that the GOP really fears a breakdown of society if gays can get married. All the noise about obeying the law is just the fig leaf the bigots hide behind.
Regardless, hasn't anybody heard of civil disobedience? Fundamental civil rights are at stake. San Francisco is refusing to observe the legal and moral travesty that is Prop 22. This is no more a threat to civil order than a sit-in at a Whites Only lunch counter, and just as necessary.
The top U.S. civilian administrator in Iraq has said Iraqi elections might not take place for another year to 15 months because of "technical problems."
Paul Bremer was speaking after the White House Friday acknowledged a point U.S. officials have conceded privately -- the administration's plan to use a caucus-style procedure to choose an interim Iraqi government has been shelved. However, it remains firm on the June 30 handover date.
"Iraq has no election law, it has no national commission to even establish a national law governing political parties, it has no voters' lists, it has not had a credible, reliable census for almost 20 years, there are no constituent boundaries to decide where elections would take place," Bremer told Dubai-based Al Arabiya satellite network.
"However, rigged Diebold machines are ready to ship right now," Bremer added.
A San Francisco county judge has combined three cases concerning whether the city's issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples is legal.
The judge did not issue an injunction to stop the marriages.
As the legal dispute continues, so do the ceremonies at City Hall. City workers ushered 100 more same-sex couples into the rotunda while hundreds of other couples awaited their turns in a line that circled the building.
Besides, only perverted weirdos would want to get married. Our civilization is clearly doomed, just as Dr. Venkman said:
Dr. Peter Venkman: This city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.
Mayor: What do you mean, "biblical?"
Dr. Raymond Stantz: What he means is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor, real wrath-of-God type stuff. Fire and brimstone coming down from the sky. Rivers and seas boiling.
Dr. Egon Spengler: Forty years of darkness. Earthquakes, volcanoes...
Winston Zeddemore: The dead rising from the grave.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together - mass hysteria.
Run for the hills!
[Update: BBWW tells us that Chicago is also queer. And Atrios informs us that New Mexico and New York are going all gay as well.]
¶ 8:39 PM
I bought a Pepsi at a Shell station in Marlboro, MA. I won a free iTunes download, so I got Outkast's She Lives in My Lap:
She stays alone, never sheds a single tear
She stays in the coolest moods, clearly woman of the year
She and all her girlfriends, they go out dressed to win
She comes back to the cooler side of town
but she lives in my lap
And I came by my winning bottle cap honestly, not like some people.
Received: from mail pickup service by hotmail.com with Microsoft SMTPSVC;
Thu, 19 Feb 2004 20:28:23 -0800
Received: from 22.214.171.124 by by3fd.bay3.hotmail.msn.com with HTTP;
Fri, 20 Feb 2004 04:28:23 GMT
From: "vk ratliff" [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 2004 22:28:23 -0600
JEEZ, NTODD -- MUST YOU PERSIST IN BEING SUCH A TREMENDOUS PUSSY?
Guess he has nothing better to do. I love you, too.
The Dean campaign came up at a break during class today. 3 of my students knew all about The Scream, at least the media portrayal of it, and only 1 knew The Truth about the media manipulation of his post-Iowa speech. Damn the press.
Of course I am troubled by Edwards' support of Iraq, which is why I ultimately couldn't support him as my first choice in the Dem race. However, I like his overall message much better than I like Kerry's, and see him as my next logical choice. I'd really rather have Kucinich but I am a realist.
I still can't accept Kerry yet. And really, why should I? He still only has around 600 of 2600 delegates needed for the nomination? I refuse to succumb to the inevitability thing. And I honestly am troubled by his dreadful explanations of his votes for BushCo policies, his dirty pool, and his lack of passion. Yesyesyes, I'll vote for him if he's the nominee, but I deserve to raise my voice for a better choice in November.
I'm so very glad Howard Dean reframed the political debate in this country, forced the Dems to grow spines and take on Bush, and reinvigorated the Democratic Party. Probably not enough to ever make me a Dem, but no matter who emerges from the convention this summer, Dean will have made him a better candidate, not to mention a better Dem, a better President, and a better person.
Question to Dean supporters who have not gotten to vote yet: are you still going to vote for Howie?
I am no longer actively pursuing the presidency. We will, however, continue to build a new organization, using our enormous grassroots network, to continue the effort to transform the Democratic Party and to change our country. And I...
And speaking to all of you and all of the hundreds of thousands of people around America who are going to get this word, either by the establishment media...
... or the Internet, I have some things that I specifically want to ask of our supporters.
First, keep active in the primary. Sending delegates to the convention only continues to energize our party. Fight on in the caucuses. We are on the ballots. Use your network to send progressive delegates to the convention in Boston. We are not going away. We are staying together, unified -- all of us.
Secondly, Dean for America will be converted into a new grassroots organization. We need everybody to stay involved. We are -- as we always have -- going to look at what you had to say about which directions we ought to be going in, and what we ought to continue to do together.
We are determined to keep this entire organization as vibrant as it has been through this campaign. There are a lot of ways to make change. We are leaving one track, but we are going on another track that will take back America for ordinary people again.
Third, there have been a lot of people who have decided to run for office locally as a result of this campaign.
We want to encourage you out there in the grassroots effort, run for office, support candidates like you who run for office, and we will use this enormous organization to support you as you run so we will change the face of democracy so that it represents ordinary Americans once again; government that will not be bought and sold.
Let me be clear, I will not run as an independent or third party candidate and I urge my supporters not to be tempted to support any effort by another candidate.
The bottom line is that we must beat George W. Bush in November whatever it takes.
Class act all the way. Let's keep the faith. Remember: you still have the power...
Wow, given the last Zogby poll, I thought Dean would hold on to second place and maybe pick up a little ground against Kerry. I s'pose he's done now that he finished third, but it's great to see my second choice, Edwards, put some pressure on Kerry. Let's not allow him to run away with it just yet!
Received: from mail pickup service by hotmail.com with Microsoft SMTPSVC;
Tue, 17 Feb 2004 18:22:55 -0800
Received: from 126.96.36.199 by by3fd.bay3.hotmail.msn.com with HTTP;
Wed, 18 Feb 2004 02:22:55 GMT
From: "russ russ" To: email@example.com
Subject: Five dollars for how weird.
Date: Tue, 17 Feb 2004 20:22:55 -0600
X-OriginalArrivalTime: 18 Feb 2004 02:22:55.0400 (UTC) FILETIME=[1E1C3280:01C3F5C6]
your predictions R soooooooooooooooooooooooooo good. dean 4 preznit --
gives me turkee. asshole.
I was wondering when my banned troll would send me an e-mail. Well, Cherry Baby (aka Russ Russ), I appreciate your continued readership. I will note, however, that should I receive more abusive e-mail, I will report it to your provider.
Not surprisingly, DM didn't win the 2003 Koufax Award for Best New Blog. Check out all the worthy winners at Wampum. And thanks to everybody who supported this blog in the various stages of the award process. It means a lot.
Kerry will win tomorrow. Dean will come in a respectable second despite the continued negative press. People will call for him to drop out, even though he's placed higher than Edwards yet again, and has more delegates.
It's a fundamental debate going on in this country. It's pretty clear where I stand. I stand with the people in this debate. I want them to have more of their own money. - George Bush today in Tampa, FL.
And screw the 8 million poor bastards without a job that earns them any money.
I couldn't be happier that President Bush has stood up for having served in the National Guard, because I can finally put an end to all those who questioned my motives for enlisting in the Army Reserve at the height of the Vietnam War. I can't tell you how many people thought I had signed up just to avoid going to Vietnam. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Even though the National Guard and Army Reserve see combat today, it rankles me that people assume it was some kind of waltz in the park back then. If only. Once a month, for an entire weekend — I'm talking eight hours Saturday and Sunday — we would meet in a dank, cold airplane hangar. The temperature in that hangar would sometimes get down to 40 degrees, and very often I had to put on long underwear, which was so restrictive I suffered from an acute vascular disorder for days afterward.
Our captain was a strict disciplinarian who wouldn't think twice about not letting us wear sneakers or breaking up a poker game if he was in ill humor. Once, they took us into the woods and dropped us off with nothing but compasses and our wits. One wrong move and I could've wound up on Queens Boulevard. Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to find my way out of there and back to the hangar. Some of my buddies did not fare as well and had to call their parents to come and get them.
Then in the summer we would go away to camp for two weeks. It felt more like three. I wondered if I'd ever see my parakeet again. We slept on cots and ate in the International House of Pancakes. I learned the first night that IHOP's not the place to order fish. When the two weeks were up, I came home a changed man.
Perhaps this will curb the Left's enthusiasm for going after Bush on the AWOL issue...
Officially, the Kerry campaign pledges to bring the party together and to move past such gloating. But some establishment Democrats, both inside and outside the Kerry campaign, still intend to punish the Dean heretics. And, while well-known politicians, such as Gore, Harkin, and Moseley Braun, may endure the most public abuse, the people who may ultimately suffer explicit retribution for their Dean-boosting are cogs in the Democratic machine--people like Daalder, who toil in think tanks or union leadership or groups like the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC). As one former high-ranking Clinton administration official puts it, "Will they work again in this town again? I hope not."
If true, then after November I will work my ass off to punish the Democratic establishment. If bluster, then it is at best ill-timed...
So I took the plunge and joined the DNC's ePatriots. Please note the Boot Bush button in the right nav, below my Howard Dean stuff. Yes, I'm beginning the transition to an Anybody But Bush site.
You probably know that I'm not a Democrat, but an Independent. I hope that all Independents, Greens, and even Republicans join me in supporting the Democratic Party this year in the most important effort of ridding our nation of the scourge known as George W. Bush.
Please click on the button or donation link and give as generously as you can. I hope you also can find some inspiration in the Dean campaign and harness it: work as hard as you can to take the White House back from the GOP and take our country forward.
PS--I'll get credit for any donation you make. If my readers contribute enough, I can get a phone briefing with Terry Mac--I'd love to give him an earful.
[Update: I've kicked things off with a sustaining donation of $40/month. It doesn't show up in my totals yet, but I will update the tracker when it does, and when other donations are credited.]
¶ 1:44 PM
At Baghdad's Central Teaching Hospital for Children, gallons of raw sewage wash across the floors. The drinking water is contaminated. According to doctors, 80 percent of patients leave with infections they did not have when they arrived.
To be sure, Iraq's hospitals were in bleak shape before the American-led invasion last year. International isolation and the sanctions imposed after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990 had already shattered a public health care system that was once the jewel of the Middle East. Crucial machines stopped working. Drugs were in short supply.
Conditions eased a bit once the United Nations oil-for-food program started in 1996, but the country still suffered, especially the children.
But Iraqi doctors say the war has pushed them closer to disaster. Fighting and sabotage have destroyed crucial infrastructure and the fall of Saddam Hussein precipitated a breakdown in social order.
"It's definitely worse now than before the war," said Eman Asim, the Ministry of Health official who oversees the country's 185 public hospitals. "Even at the height of sanctions, when things were miserable, it wasn't as bad as this. At least then someone was in control."
With infrastructure in tatters and violence escalating, can the prowar people please explain to me how this invasion is anything but an unmitigated disaster? And I mean that honestly. Don't give me any "why do you hate America?" or "the Iraqis are now free" or "Saddam's not jailing children" talking points. I want real, thoughtful answers.
[Update: forgot the link to the Times article. Fixed.]
¶ 10:07 AM
Free Speech Isn't Free
At least for trolls. I have implemented my first anti-troll action ever and banned two specific IP addresses: 188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206[Update: and now 220.127.116.11. That was the third addy I've seen this troll use, but it was so infrequent I thought I could ignore it. No longer.]. These have been the biggest offenders, and I'm hopeful that I won't need to ban an entire range.
I also deleted a bunch of idiotic posts, so some commenters' reactions to the troll might sound like non sequiturs. This won't completely solve the troll infestation, but it helps a little and certainly made me feel good.
Hopefully our troll friend will get a life, get laid, and stop whoring for BushCo.
CBS has stopped running the Bush administration's publicly funded ad for the new Medicare prescription drug law, pending a review of its content by congressional investigators.
The 30-second ad, titled "Same Medicare. More Benefits," has prompted strong criticism from Democratic lawmakers and a range of interest groups who say it is a barely disguised commercial for President Bush’s re-election campaign.
Democrats asked the General Accounting Office, Congress' investigative arm, to examine whether the administration should be using taxpayer money to air the commercial. And several lawmakers have been lobbying network executives to get them to yank the ad, pending the GAO review.
Reagan bio-pic, MoveOn controversy, Janet's boob, and now problems with the Medicare ad. Poor, poor CBS. Non-existant WMD, AWOL controversy, budget deficits as far as the eye can see, and now problems with the Medicare ad. Poor, poor BushCo.
Media concentration = bad. One party rule = bad. And nothing lasts forever...
Researchers say they have produced hydrogen from ethanol in a prototype reactor small enough and efficient enough to heat small homes and power cars.
The development could help open the way for cleaner-burning technology at home and on the road.
Current methods of producing hydrogen from ethanol require large refineries and copious amounts of fossil fuels, the University of Minnesota researchers said.
The reactor is a relatively tiny 2-foot-high apparatus of tubes and wires that creates hydrogen from corn-based ethanol. A fuel cell, which acts like a battery, then generates power.
"This points to a way to make renewable hydrogen that may be economical and available," said Lanny Schmidt, a chemical engineer who led the study. The work was outlined in Friday's issue of the journal Science.
President Bush ordered that his Vietnam-era military files be made public, the White House announced Friday, a move that comes amid continued questions on whether he fulfilled his duties as a member of the Air National Guard.
The records to be released would cover his service in the Guard from 1968 to 1973.
Coulda put this whole thing to rest by releasing these things long ago, just like John McCain did...
The Senate Intelligence Committee said Thursday that it planned to investigate whether White House officials exaggerated the Iraq threat or pressured analysts to tailor their assessments of Baghdad's weapons programs to bolster the case for war.
I came up with a few in honor of faithful reader Steve Bates:
Q: How many Howard Deans does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: I don't have the power to screw in a lightbulb, YOU have the power!
Q: How many Howard Deans does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: Unless we replace the dim bulb in the White House who gave us massive deficits, an irresponsible tax cut and two costly wars, we won't be able to afford any more lightbulbs.
Q: How many Howard Deans does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: We won't just screw in one lightbulb! We will screw in lightbulbs in New Hampshire! We will screw in lightbulbs in South Carolina! We will screw in lightbulbs in Arizona and New Mexico, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan! Eyyahh!!!
Nope, not Deaniacs. Volleyball. Excellent match, long, close, hard-fought games with one of the best teams in the league. We came out on the losing side, but it was really fun.
Each side was short-handed and had to play 4 players. That's much more entertaining than 6 because you have to cover more ground, get more chances for digs, etc. I had some nice gets, several spikes, and a few good blocks. My serve still is more returnable than it used to be, but I was perfect for a change.
Now if only we can continue to play this well and actually close the deal...
I wish he could've stayed in until Super Tuesday, or Wisconsin at least. I know it's probably throwing good money after bad, and he might not have any money to throw, but I don't like the idea of any candidate running away with this thing without giving people a chance to really consider their choices. I really dislike this compressed schedule.
The bandwagon effect is dangerous, and all the rapid fire voting just makes it worse. Either create a national primary, or stretch out the contests. The current approach seems to be the worst of both worlds: it amplifies the money advantage and the king-making influence of two very small, unrepresentative states. That strikes me as being undemocratic (but maybe not un-Democratic).
Interesting spin Kerry is putting on yesterday's results:
Once again, the message rings out loud and clear: Americans are voting for change East and West, North and now in the South.
I don't think that's the message people are sending. Memo to Dean and Edwards: please stick around for a while. Looks like Edwards plans on it:
The voters who voted today in the election are saying to the country that we're going to have a campaign and an election, not a coronation.
Q Scott, a couple of questions I have -- the records that you handed out today, and other records that exist, indicate that the President did not perform any Guard duty during the months of December 1972, February or March of 1973. I'm wondering if you can tell us where he was during that period. And also, how is it that he managed to not make the medical requirements to remain on active flight duty status?
MR. McCLELLAN: John, the records that you're pointing to, these records are the payroll records; they're the point summaries. These records verify that he met the requirements necessary to fulfill his duties. These records --
Q That wasn't my question, Scott.
MR. McCLELLAN: These payroll records --
Q Scott, that wasn't my question, and you know it wasn't my question. Where was he in December of '72, February and March of '73? And why did he not fulfill the medical requirements to remain on active flight duty status?
MR. McCLELLAN: These records -- these records I'm holding here clearly document the President fulfilling his duties in the National Guard. The President was proud of his service. The President --
Q I asked a simple question; how about a simple answer?
MR. McCLELLAN: John, if you'll let me address the question, I'm coming to your answer, and I'd like --
Q Well, if you would address it -- maybe you could.
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry, John. But this is an important issue that some chose to raise in the context of an election year, and the facts are important for people to know. And if you don't want to know the facts, that's fine. But I want to share the facts with you.
Q I do want to know the facts, which is why I keep asking the question. And I'll ask it one more time. Where was he in December of '72, February and March of '73? Why didn't he fulfill the medical requirements to remain on active flight duty status in 1972?
I'd quite forgotten what an aggressive press corps was like. Let's see if they pursue this issue as ferociously as they did Clinton's fellatio.
I frankly could care less if Bush did all his time in the TANG. It was Vietnam, and lots of rich kids did what they could to get away with avoiding service in the war. Lots of other people took whatever avenues they could as well.
However, given all the trivial crap the Right tried to hang on Clinton1 throughout his tenure, especially about draft dodging2, I have to say this is certainly just desserts. What's more, this is a President who is running on his alleged national security credentials and has screwed current Guard members. Why should we give him a free pass on this?
What's more, like all the other stonewalling by this administration, from Cheney's energy cabal records to the 9/11 panel to the new intel commission, these people just continue to show utter contempt for government transparency and accountability. The AWOL thing won't win the election for the Dems, but it's another piece of the mosaic: a disturbing picture of evasion, deceit, and outright lying.
And it's nice to see our media finally living up to its responsibility. Here's hoping their newfound resolve lasts...
1 - For the record, I voted for Clinton twice, but don't have any great love for him.
2 - Back in July I blogged about the contrast between Bush's and Clinton's actions during Vietnam.
¶ 8:14 PM
Kerry Lightbulb Jokes
Somebody posted some lightbulb jokes in the primary open thread at dKos. My faves, in reverse order of preference (edited for punctuation):
#3 - Q. How many Kerrys does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A. "When I was in Vietnam...."
#2 - Q. How many Kerrys does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A. However many it takes to stand on all sides of the light bulb.
#1 - Q: How many Kerrys does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: One. The Democratic Party won't let you have another choice.
Now before somebody gets on my case about being a Kerry Hater, I am indeed still ABB. Doesn't mean I can't enjoy myself...
My friend David gave me an off-the-cuff report about his caucus yesterday:
It was a great experience.
Dennis Kucinich, Congressman Markey (MA) for Kerry, and Howard Dean all spoke.
I am afraid Howard came across pretty bad. He was obviously really tired. He tried to draw parallels to past presidents, most of which the average American could not identify. Warren Harding? Wasn't he the fifth Marx brother? The news cameras did not bother to tape his speech, only the reaction to their rhetorical question, "Do you honestly think you still have a shot at the nomination?"
The Kerry campaign really rubbed me the wrong way. I felt the atmosphere of Tammany Hall. Many of the people organizing the caucus were clearly Kerry supporters. The machine is behind him. The same machine that lost the House and Senate, and failed to win with Gore.
I still have hope, but sense that the easiest path for most voters, a path dictated by the status quo, is to go with the more traditional candidate. In that world a senator - even from Mass - trumps a governor from Vermont.
Indeed, Kerry was trumping Dean 45-26 with 50% of the precincts reporting (and maybe someday the results will be updatedCNN now has delegate totals: Kerry 15, Dean got 9). Dean will get yet more delegates out of it all the same...
[Update: I added a break between Dave's overall assessment of the experience and list of who spoke. In response to The Commissar's snark (which I appreciate!). Should capture the intent better.]
¶ 4:27 PM
Nonfarm payroll employment fell an average of 50,000 workers per month in the first seven months of 2003, before increasing 35,000 in August, 99,000 in September, and an average of 48,000 per month in the fourth quarter.
Amazing how the administration loves to use averages, on average, when it covers up ugly numbers. Use the averages for the ugly first 7 months of the year, then crow about 2 specific numbers that show growth, then revert back to averages the last 3 months of the year. Why? Because October's increase was 100k (revised down from 126k), November's was 43k (revised down from 57k), and December's was a measely 1k (this was actually revised up to 16k and not taken into account for the ERP). Why use specifics when averages can cover up a downward trend?
President Bush: This commission? You know, I don't testify? I will be glad to visit with them. I will be glad to share with them knowledge. I will be glad to make recommendations, if they ask for some.
And here's John Kerry taking the fight to George Bush:
I hope that...President Bush will not only immediately agree to testify before his Intelligence Commission, but will clearly and precisely tell the American people what he knew when he launched the Iraq War and why what he is saying today is so very different.
I still don't like him, but I have more hope that he'll at least be a better candidate and President than Bush. And we all owe Howard Dean a great debt for showing John Kerry the way to fight...
What a evasive, inarticulate, lying buffoon. Bush's appearance on MTP was awful. But don't take my word for it--here's what the folks at NRO are saying:
THE MEET THE PRESS DISASTER [Michael Graham]
President Bush looks like he's afraid of Tim Russert. He's stammering and unsteady. For the first time, I've felt a twinge of fear myself about the November election.
Posted at 09:22 AM
RE: MEET THE PRESS [KJL]
Not to pile on here, but I think lots of eyebrows legitimately raise re: the March 2005 commission deadline. I’m not sure he sufficiently answered that…
Posted at 10:34 AM
Michael, I don't know that it was a disaster. I don't think it helped much, but it probably didn't do much damage either. He sounded defensive on intel and, oddly, he seemed almost removed from his service answer. I'm taking comfort in the fact its Sunday morning and most people were doing something other than watching meet the press. What I always do think is useful is people seeing how heartfelt is his love for this country, for its people, and for freedom. That came across, as it often does when he does sitdowns. But again, all in all, I don't think it was a disaster, by any stretch.
A pundit-type just said to me: "If he loses this year, this will be the day he lost it."
Posted at 11:40 AM
You remember U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 clearly stated show us your arms and destroy them, or your programs and destroy them. And we said, there are serious consequences if you don't. That was a unanimous verdict. In other words, the worlds of the U.N. Security Council said we're unanimous and you're a danger. So, it wasn't just me and the United States. The world thought he was dangerous and needed to be disarmed.
And, of course, he defied the world once again.
Hmm...Far be it for me to suggest he's pulling one of those Washington tricks where you leave half the equation out, but let's review. First, here's what S/RES 1441 said (PDF):
4. [The UNSC decides] that false statements or omissions in the declarations submitted by Iraq pursuant to this resolution and failure by Iraq at any time to comply with, and cooperate fully in the implementation of, this resolution shall constitute a further material breach of Iraq’s obligations and will be reported to the Council for assessment in accordance with paragraphs 11 and 12 below;
11. Directs the Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC and the Director-General of the IAEA to report immediately to the Council any interference by Iraq with inspection activities, as well as any failure by Iraq to comply with its disarmament obligations, including its obligations regarding inspections under this resolution;
12. Decides to convene immediately upon receipt of a report in accordance with paragraphs 4 or 11 above, in order to consider the situation and the need for full compliance with all of the relevant Council resolutions in order to secure international peace and security;
13. Recalls, in that context, that the Council has repeatedly warned Iraq that it will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations;
14. Decides to remain seized of the matter.
In other words, the Security Council would get a report, convene and reserved the right to decide what to do ("remains seized of the matter"). Please also note that UN resolutions use diplomatic language that has extremely specific meanings. 1441's "serious consequences" is a notch lower than "all necessary means", which is the language that authorized force in S/RES 678 (PDF) back in 1990. 1441 allowed for other types of sanctions other than military force, and it was up to the UNSC to determine what those sanctions would be in response to Iraq's transgressions.
Further, we see that Iraq was in fact complying because there were no WMD. Remember, Mr. President, what chief weapons inspector David Kay said?
I don't think [WMD] existed. I think there were stockpiles at the end of the first Gulf War and those were a combination of U.N. inspectors and unilateral Iraqi action got rid of them.
Now you can complain all you want about how hard it is to get good intelligence. It is hard to get it right and easy to get it wrong. It is also easy to invent cause for war, such as the Germans did before invading Poland. This is why Justice Jackson uttered these wise words at Nuremberg:
[W]e must not allow ourselves to be drawn into a trial of the causes of the war, for our position is that no grievances or policies will justify resort to aggressive war. It is utterly renounced and condemned as an instrument of policy.
All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state...
All of this is not new. I argued these points before the war, and I think people need to be reminded of just how flagrantly we violated the rules born from the ruin of the most devastating aggressive war the world has ever known.
It is clear that the Bush administration kept screaming about Iraq being an imminent threat (yes trolls, they did use the word "imminent" in addition to every possible synonym and inference) because they wanted to justify their war as "pre-emptive". It is equally clear that this war was "preventive" (i.e., not to pre-empt imminent use of WMD, but to prevent vaporware Weapons of Mass Destruction related program activities from being developed), which is fundamentally an aggressive war and is wholly wrong, even considering the ever-shifting ex post facto justifications.
So Bush left off a few details in his answer. Interestingly enough, a little while later in the interview Bush responded to a question from Tim Russert thusly:
I'm not suggesting you're pulling one of these Washington tricks where you leave half the equation out.
[Update: fixed a few minor items that bugged me.]
¶ 11:30 AM
I don't think America can stand by and hope for the best from a madman. - George W. Bush on Meet the Press.
Indeed. So can we impeach the madman now, or do we have to wait until November?
And given how Dean has focused on WI at the expense of MI and WA, he did better than I expected. The latest polls had shown (via Kos):
WA Kerry 40
MI Kerry 62
And the final results (delegates in parentheses):
WA Kerry 49 (47)
Dean 30 (29)
MI Kerry 52 (91)
Dean 17 (24)
Edwards 13 (6)
Sharpton! 7 (7)
Yes, it looks like Kerry will win just on pure momentum at this point, but he still needs 1700 delegates. On the whole, Dean's remaining more competitive than I expected, and maybe the Wisconsin strategy will pay off. Not very probable, especially since the media has yet to give Kerry the same treatment they slammed Dean with, but still in the realm of possibility. And that's what it's all about, isn't it?
In the precinct my parents voted in, as they went in, Dean was behind Kerry by six votes, 15-21. There was one uncommitted person that wanted to know who to vote for between Kerry and Dean. My dad went over and gave her 5 reasons why should vote for Kerry (took more special interest money, funded his own campaign with millions...), and she replied, 'those don't sound like reasons why I should support him at all'... then finally, he bribed her to Dean, offering up his delegate spot if she would switch to Dean, she went for it. That got Dean within 5 of Kerry.
There were 4 people who were in support of Edwards, which was not enough to claim a delagate. Immediately when it was announced, my mom and a neighbor tore over to the Edwards people and convinced all 4 of them to join Dean, which they did. Still one behind, my dad noticed a neighbor who had a "No War" yard sign at his house who was in Kerry's corner, and his wife was in Dean's corner. After a bit of persuasion, he too joined Dean, making it a tie at 20-20.
[T]here were seven delegates to award, three to Dean and Kerry each, but who would get the fourth. Without either ether side budging, it was finally decided to flip a coin. Dean's folks called heads, and it was tails. Kerry won 4-3.
Caucuses certainly are more interesting than primaries!
[Update: you really should read the discussion thread. Lots of people reporting delegate counts from their precincts and a few stories about how they worked. Very cool, even if the concept is a bit foreign to me.]
So Bush has been crowing about 112k jobs created last month, which is the best job growth since December 2000. All y'all know I'm no economist, but I was curious all the same about what's been really happening with unemployment, the economy, and Bush's tax cuts over the past 3 years.
Bush signed the first tax cut bill into law on June 7, 2001, and has also cut taxes in 2002 and 2003. For an analysis of the impact on taxpayers, check out Citizens for Tax Justice.
It's interesting to note that soon after the first round of cuts went into effect, our recession ended, at least by traditional definitions related to GDP growth. Here's a chart from the US DOC:
So gosh, everything's been hunky dory since 4Q01, right? Well you and I know that this "boom" hasn't had a great deal of benefit for American workers. As the Fed observed last summer (PDF), increased reliance on temp workers and overtime has meant our "recovery" has been distinctly jobless for quite some time.
One measure I looked at was "total unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of all civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers". This looks like it gets closer to the "true" unemployment that some people talk about (basically taking into account all people who can't get work that meets their needs):
I'd say this more accurately illustrates the plight of the American workforce. To be fair, we are seeing improvement here, though not as marked if you just look at the unemployment rate. Things are back to where they were 1 year ago, but still the rate is 0.5% worse than 2002, and a full 3% higher than the December 2000 figure.
To give you a sense of the raw numbers, back in December 2000 there were 1.1M marginally attached workers, 265k of whom were discouraged ("not currently looking for work specifically because they believed no jobs were available for them" according to the BLS). Last month, the total was 1.7M, 432k of whom were discouraged. That's about one and a half times the 2000 figures.
Again, there's improvement in this area, but it is very slight. We still have more long-term unemployed people than we did 1 year ago. The figure is also greater than it was 2 years ago. In fact, the number is larger than it was last month. What's more, there are roughly 3 times more long-term jobless than in December 2000.
So yeah, I'm glad there were 112k jobs created, and unemployment dropped 74k in January. And maybe Bush's tax cuts and wars have helped the GDP grow. Unfortunately we have a long, long way to go, and the "recovery" still isn't doing diddly for average Americans. In fact, all of our current economic growth has come at the expense of our children with ballooning Federal deficits and few jobs in sight to help pay it all off. That says to me that this is not sustainable, and we're only going to be back at square one (or worse) in the future.
But Americans don't tend to vote with the future in mind. Okay, so are we better off than we were 4 years ago? Obviously not. Still, I'm a reasonable fella and I'm willing to let Bush slide regarding 2001. Go ahead and blame the 2001 recession on Clinton (don't forget to credit Clinton for the expansion, though). Go ahead and blame 9/11 for the spike in unemployment at the end of 2001.
So, are we better off than we were 2 years ago? Have the 3 tax cuts Bush pushed - and now wants to make permanent - created all the millions of jobs he promised? Alas, the answer is still "obviously not"*.
People are starting to get the hint that a vote for Bush is a vote against their own interests. About bloody time.
* I almost wrote "sadly, no", but I wouldn't want to steal Seb's line.
[Update: fixed some typos and miscellaneous formatting.]
['nother update: fixed 3 of the charts. Apparently they disappeared from the BLS webapp after a while, so I stored them on my host. Thanks to faithful reader Mustang Bobby in the comments for the heads up.]
¶ 2:02 PM
The past few weeks have confirmed that America's economy is strong, and growing stronger. The nation's unemployment rate fell to 5.6 percent in January, the fourth consecutive monthly decline, and we added 112,000 new jobs, the largest single month increase since December of 2000. Overall, the nation has added 366,000 jobs in the past five months.
We'll help create more jobs in America by making tax relief permanent; by enforcing spending discipline and reducing the deficit...Taking these steps will add momentum to our nation's economic expansion and extend jobs and prosperity to more Americans.
Oh, I just realized my headline might be misleading: Bush actually wants Congress to eliminate toxin research. My bad.
Still, it was an honest mistake, given the juxtaposition of the ricin incident and Bush's desire to cut funding that would help find better ways to rid the Senate of said ricin. Hmmm. Maybe the hed isn't so wrong after all? What better way to shore up power than to get rid of one branch of government...
And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men....when thou prayest, enter into thy closet and when thou has shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret...
"Dear Lord, get me out of this mess and I swear I'll give up drinkin' fer good this time...
It's official. Howard Dean got my vote in the March 2nd Vermont primary. I just filled in the circle next to his name on my absentee ballot*.
Let Howie tell you some of the reasons why:
"Some in Washington will use [the Massachusetts Supreme Court decision to support same-gender marriages] to justify the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This would be the first constitutional amendment to authorize discrimination, and I oppose it. Marriage is a matter of state law, and gay bashing has no place in the Constitution." (via the Dean blog)
"I opposed President Bush’s war in Iraq from the beginning." (via DFA)
"The skyrocketing cost of campaigns, driven largely by the cost of radio and television advertising, still forces candidates to spend too many hours every day raising unprecedented sums from the wealthiest Americans and special interests, rather than listening to ordinary voters. Left out are the vast majority of citizens who contribute the small amounts they can afford -- or who do not give at all." (via DFA)
"In Vermont, where I served as governor for the last 11 years, nearly 92% of adults now have [health] coverage. Most importantly, 99% of all Vermont children are eligible for health insurance and 96% have it." (via DFA)
"Long term economic growth...requires fiscal discipline. The federal budget deficit soars out of control, with no relief in sight. The Bush Administration philosophy has become “borrow and spend” and let our children and grandchildren pick up the pieces. Meanwhile, this administration lets those who have benefited from all the resources of this great country pay less in taxes than their fair share." (via DFA)
To the pundits, supporters of other candidates, and wavering Dean people who argue we should now rally behind Kerry because he's in the lead, I say this: after the Party has selected a candidate I will vote for that person in November no matter who it is, but until then, I will not allow voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, or any other state determine where my vote goes. Maybe I'm silly, but I kinda figure a democracy is about individuals exercising their franchise independently.
I supported Dean when he was an asterisk. I supported him when he was a front-runner. I support him now that he's on the ropes. His standing in the polls and the delegate count does not change the fact that I believe he would be a better President than any other candidate, particularly George W. Bush.
I don't always agree with Dean on all issues, but I do agree with him on the things that are most important to me. His record as Vermont Governor was good enough for me and most of my fellow Vermonters to re-elect him every time he ran, even in three-way races and in the wake of our controversial civil unions bill. He is committed to delivering necessary services, protecting civil rights, and maintaining fiscal discipline.
Dean has executive experience that the other Democratic candidates lack. He also has passion and is unafraid to speak his mind. While that has gotten him a lot of negative press coverage, it's amazing what he has been able to do with all the establishment resistance to his candidacy. I am very proud to have helped him force debate on important issues during the campaign.
If you are looking for a candidate who can take on Bush, bring positive change to the Democratic party and get our country back on track, please consider supporting Dean. It's especially important now as he fights against the "Kerry's inevitable" meme and attempts to regain momentum by winning in Wisconsin. Give Howie some money so he can continue to be competitive. That's not only good for Dean: a competitive race can and will help the Democrats frame the debate as they get ready to go up against Bush.
I still believe that mousepads, shoe leather and hope will enable Howie to pull off a victory. Win or lose, I am very happy that I voted for Howard Dean.
* Funny thing: only Dean, Clark, Kerry, Kucinich and LaRouche made it on our ballot.
Today's ruling of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court is deeply troubling. Marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman. If activist judges insist on re-defining marriage by court order, the only alternative will be the constitutional process. We must do what is legally necessary to defend the sanctity of marriage.
Those damned activist judges, always trying to guarantee civil rights and shit.
Out on the streets I overheard a lady say
We now have everything or so people say
But now this emptiness haunts me every day
We seek the lion's share never knowing why
Come alive spread your wings and fly
Yes, cheesy 70s and 80s acts are a guilty pleasure of mine. And speaking of guilt and pleasure, I note what I think is irony (tell me, Alanis): the song is basically about how wealth can rule our lives if we let it, and I'm listening to the tune on my iPod, an extreme example of crass consumerism, all made possible by my pursuit of pieces of eight.
What's more, I had a just tried to publish a fairly long post on the subject of consumerism, my yearlong funk/midlife crisis/whatever, solving world problems and liberal guilt, when the phone rang. Our wireless phone happens to sometimes interfere with my wireless card, and since Blogger really sucks, I lost my entry. Rest assured, the post was incredibly thought provoking and angst-ridden, and would have brought great value to the blogosphere (n! iwusp!).
Anyway, it's funny that all these conveniences contrived to prevent me from getting my thoughts out there. And my damn thumb hurts with nothing to show for it!
It's times like this that remind me just how incredible opposable thumbs are. After having missed volleyball for the first three weeks of the season, I finally got back on the court. And then I jammed my right thumb. Three times. The same thumb I jammed last season*. The same thumb I broke 16 years ago**.
I'm always amazed how often the thumb comes into play, such as when I'm typing on my blog. Ouch.
PS--Oh yeah, we played okay, but lost our match.
* Took about 6 weeks before I was a pain free and had any range of motion back. Still have a hard time gripping things. I'm getting old.
** Happened when I made a sweet steal playing intramural basketball. Resulted in a fast break and two points. I got these big pink pills to take, but they forgot to put the "do not mix with alcohol" label on my prescription. First night out drinking, and one beer put me under the table. Good times.
¶ 9:47 PM
I Have The Power
No, this has nothing to do with Dean or politics. Back when Marduk was blogging, he took a swipe at me for my choice in lawn mowers. If only he could see me now:
This is my new snow thrower, which I just got done using for the first time. The awesome power of 9 horses is sweet. I'd bet this would redeem me in Marduk's eyes...
The Massachusetts high court ruled Wednesday that only full, equal marriage rights for gay couples -- rather than civil unions -- would be constitutional, erasing any doubts that the nation's first same-sex marriages could take place in the state beginning in mid-May.
The court issued the opinion in response to a request from the state Senate about whether Vermont-style civil unions, which convey the state benefits of marriage -- but not the title -- would meet constitutional muster.
"The history of our nation has demonstrated that separate is seldom, if ever, equal," the four justices who ruled in favor of gay marriage wrote in the advisory opinion. A bill that would allow for civil unions, but falls short of marriage, makes for "unconstitutional, inferior, and discriminatory status for same-sex couples."
I expect MA to feel God's wrath any minute, just like we did in VT. Oh wait...
Anyway, this is indeed good news. As many of you might recall, I don't actually care what you call the institution so long as civil rights are preserved. That said, I certainly love the idea of making marriage an equal opportunity deal. Take that, Ohio!