September 30, 2006

Ugly, ugly

The Rock Island County Sheriff's race has been ugly and in the ditch since the primary race, but it shows no signs of improving.

As a matter of fact, judging by the flurry of ugly comments on John Beydler's "The Passing Parade" on two separate threads, both here as well as here, it's gotten so bad it's almost repellant.

The race has seemed to torn the scab off of some ugly inter-office battles to do with the union and long-festering personal grudges within the Sheriff's department. While it reveals a sheriff's office in critical need of cleaning house, should all should matter to everyone in the entire county.

There seems to be scant issues raised by all these scaborous charges and counter-charges, just a bunch of guys having some sort of really nasty turf war at work.

Should the public care?

Does all this ugly and personal inside fighting reflect badly on both candidates? I can imagine that the entire thing would be a turn off to the public and many might be prompted to turn up their noses and not vote for either men.

Is all the ugliness fair and proper, or ugly and unfortunate?

Don't think you need to worry about electronic voting? Read this

Every electronic voting machine manufacturer has ties to the Republican party, and there have been over a hundred ways to break into the systems and alter the results demonstrated already.

Everyone should read this, Dick Liebovitz and other's in charge of supervising elections using such machines especially.
But as midterm elections approach this November, electronic voting machines are making things worse instead of better. Studies have demonstrated that hackers can easily rig the technology to fix an election - and across the country this year, faulty equipment and lax security have repeatedly undermined election primaries. In Tarrant County, Texas, electronic machines counted some ballots as many as six times, recording 100,000 more votes than were actually cast. In San Diego, poll workers took machines home for unsupervised "sleepovers" before the vote, leaving the equipment vulnerable to tampering. And in Ohio - where, as I recently reported in "Was the 2004 Election Stolen?" [RS 1002], dirty tricks may have cost John Kerry the presidency - a government report uncovered large and unexplained discrepancies in vote totals recorded by machines in Cuyahoga County.

Even worse, many electronic machines don't produce a paper record that can be recounted when equipment malfunctions - an omission that practically invites malicious tampering. "Every board of election has staff members with the technological ability to fix an election," Ion Sancho, an election supervisor in Leon County, Florida, told me. "Even one corrupt staffer can throw an election. Without paper records, it could happen under my nose and there is no way I'd ever find out about it. With a few key people in the right places, it would be possible to throw a presidential election."

Is this story suspicious? Nah.
Then, one muggy day in mid-August, Hood was surprised to see the president of Diebold's election unit, Bob Urosevich, arrive in Georgia from his headquarters in Texas. With the primaries looming, Urosevich was personally distributing a "patch," a little piece of software designed to correct glitches in the computer program. "We were told that it was intended to fix the clock in the system, which it didn't do," Hood says. "The curious thing is the very swift, covert way this was done."

Georgia law mandates that any change made in voting machines be certified by the state. But thanks to Cox's agreement with Diebold, the company was essentially allowed to certify itself. "It was an unauthorized patch, and they were trying to keep it secret from the state," Hood told me. "We were told not to talk to county personnel about it. I received instructions directly from Urosevich. It was very unusual that a president of the company would give an order like that and be involved at that level."

According to Hood, Diebold employees altered software in some 5,000 machines in DeKalb and Fulton counties - the state's largest Democratic strongholds. To avoid detection, Hood and others on his team entered warehouses early in the morning. "We went in at 7:30 a.m. and were out by 11," Hood says. "There was a universal key to unlock the machines, and it's easy to get access. The machines in the warehouses were unlocked. We had control of everything. The state gave us the keys to the castle, so to speak, and they stayed out of our way." Hood personally patched fifty-six machines and witnessed the patch being applied to more than 1,200 others.

The patch comes on a memory card that is inserted into a machine. Eventually, all the memory cards end up on a server that tabulates the votes - where the patch can be programmed to alter the outcome of an election. "There could be a hidden program on a memory card that adjusts everything to the preferred election results," Hood says. "Your program says, 'I want my candidate to stay ahead by three or four percent or whatever.' Those programs can include a built-in delete that erases itself after it's done."

It is impossible to know whether the machines were rigged to alter the election in Georgia: Diebold's machines provided no paper trail, making a recount impossible. But the tally in Georgia that November surprised even the most seasoned political observers. Six days before the vote, polls showed Sen. Max Cleland, a decorated war veteran and Democratic incumbent, leading his Republican opponent Saxby Chambliss - darling of the Christian Coalition - by five percentage points. In the governor's race, Democrat Roy Barnes was running a decisive eleven points ahead of Republican Sonny Perdue. But on Election Day, Chambliss won with fifty-three percent of the vote, and Perdue won with fifty-one percent.

Read more here.


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And for some truly brilliant stuff, there's nothing like Getting Your War On.

What's the message behind "support our troops"?

Passed a group of demonsrators today stationed on all four corners of the intersection of 38th Street and John Deere Rd. in Moline.

They had an array of little flags planted in the ground, and a larger flag which had the emblems of the branches of service on it. They were waving at the traffic and holding banners which said, "Support Our Troops".

Ok. That's a laudible sentiment.

But why the hell do people feel the need to stand on the corner with this message? What are we supposed to do? A lot of people honked. I guess that will really help support the troops. After all, other than spending the country into generations of enormous debt, that's more than most people actually do.

But the more I thought about it, the more I found it a completely pointless and disingenous effort.

They weren't offering people a means to actually support the troops. They were just out demonstrating their supposed patriotism, feeling, evidently, that they needed to stand out on a corner to show everyone just how patriotic they were.

That strikes me as kind of weird. But I don't think that's the whole story.

The real reason these people were there, I would bet, is as some misguided counter-protest to a group which has stood on the corner of 16th St and John Deere Rd. on Saturdays urging an end to the Iraq invasion and to support the troops by withdrawing them from the deadly quagmire they've been sent into.

The "troop supporters" with the flags were from a group with the peaceful sounding acronym "F.I.S.T". I think that was the title of a B movie at some time, but I tried to do a Google search on it to see if I could find out just what group felt the need to stand on a busy corner, wave flags, and urge us all to support the troops (as if anyone doesn't.)

The only group that popped up on a search for "F.I.S.T." was "Females Investigating Sexual Terrain", which bills itself as "social and educational club for women interested in SM, leather and fetish between women."

I'm sure the women in that group may be quite patriotic, but somehow I don't think they were the ones on the corner today. No one was wearing leather.

But truly, what is the "support the troops" group's purpose? What is the motivation to stand on a corner festooned with flags and wave at traffic and urge people to "support our troops"?

Is it not likely that these people are so misguided that they think anyone who opposes our present course in Iraq is therefore somehow against the troops?

Isn't that a preposterous, false, and stupid assumption? And isn't it pretty nasty to even try to suggest it?

What about those who feel that leaving them as human targets in a shooting gallery, sitting ducks for IEDs and snipers, getting them blown up, mangled, shot to pieces, blinded, paralized, left without limbs, and/or traumatized for life isn't the best way to "support our troops"?

Can one "support our troops" while strongly believing that they shouldn't be sacrificed simply because a few impeciles in the White House are too egotistical to admit that their assumptions were dead wrong and at least begin to change course?

What is the purpose of standing on a corner waving a sign saying "Support our troops"? What does it mean? Aren't we already supporting our troops to the tune of all our tax money now and passing the debt on to generations far into the future?
Do they mean that we should demand that the Republicans stop cutting veterans benefits? Is it demanding that we spend billions to construct the facilities that will be necessary to care for all the wounded far into the future? Is it a protest against the Dept. of Defense trying to fight this war on the cheap, sending troops into battle with inferior and insufficient equipment and protection?

What do they want us to do to support our troops?

Honk I guess.

But that's like a group protesting outrageous grocery store prices and another group counter-protesting by saying "Support our bag boys". It's stupid.
(and for the dim-witted, that's an analogy, I'm not comparing our troops to bagboys, only that they are the ones who do the work, not the ones responsible for the position they've been placed in or the way the "store" is run.)

And seriously, do these folks really think that some people DON'T support the troops? I'd bet big money that not one of them has ever heard anyone who didn't.

I sincerely have NEVER heard a person write or utter a single word hostile to our military men and women, left, right, or center. Not one word. Ever. Have you?

So where do they get the notion that people AREN'T supporting the troops? That's easy. Fox, AM radio lunatics, cable boobs, and the rest.

And let's be real. By demanding that people "support our troops", aren't they really demanding that we unquestioningly support the war, and by extention the Bush administration?

If that's the message they're trying to convey, which is hard to deny, I find it dishonest and rather disgusting for them to both wrap themselves in the flag and hide behind "our troops" in order to do so.

One group says "Stop the war" and "Bring them home", and "F.I.S.T" feels compelled to respond by saying, "Support our troops"? Why?

Perhaps it's because they don't have the guts to honestly come out and wave signs saying "Support Perpetual War!", or "The best way to honor those who have been killed is to ensure more get killed" or "We can't accept the thought that our troops are at risk and being killed for no good purpose so please don't disturb our state of denial" just won't fit on a sign, so they pull the phoney "Support our troops" thing.

Obviously it's perfectly possible to want a change of course in Iraq and support our troops at the same time. As a matter of fact, it could be argued that the best way to support our troops is to demand that we begin to get them out of a situation where they're getting slaughtered for nothing.

Clearly, supporting our troops and supporting the way this war has been waged are NOT the same thing whatsoever. Supporting our troops and opposing the war aren't mutually exclusive, so what's the point of the "support our troops" gang?

Republican Majority leader, Speaker of the house knew of sexual predator, did nothing

The resignation rocked the Capitol, and especially Foley's GOP colleagues, as lawmakers were rushing to adjourn for at least six weeks. House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told The Washington Post last night that he had learned this spring of inappropriate "contact" between Foley and a 16-year-old page. Boehner said he then told House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). Boehner later contacted The Post and said he could not remember whether he talked to Hastert.

It was not immediately clear what actions Hastert took. His spokesman had said earlier that the speaker did not know of the sexually charged online exchanges between Foley and the boy.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) took the House floor last night to demand an investigation into the Foley matter. But Boehner headed her off, calling on the House to refer the matter to the ethics committee, which the House promptly voted unanimously to do.
So I guess they did take action. They quickly booted this to the utterly useless republican controlled ethics committee which has refused to take any action against anyone for years.

Story here.

**UPDATE** The coverup continues...From RollCall:
National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds (N.Y.) issued a statement Saturday in which he said that he had informed Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) of allegations of improper contacts between then-Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) and at least one former male page, contradicting earlier statements from Hastert.

GOP sources said Reynolds told Hastert earlier in 2006, shortly after the February GOP leadership elections. Hastert's response to Reynolds' warning remains unclear.

Hastert's staff insisted Friday night that he was not told of the Foley allegations and are scrambling to respond to Reynolds' statement.

**ADDENDUM** Ever wonder if ultra-moralist Republicans seem more likely to be pedophiles and sexual predators? I'm convinced just by what I've seen. But here's a list.
Could exhibiting hard right social positions regarding gays and other sexual matters be simply overcompensation for their own repressed sexual hang-ups?

You be the judge.

44 CONVICTED Republican pedophiles

* Republican anti-abortion activist Howard Scott Heldreth is a
convicted child rapist in Florida.

* Republican County Commissioner David Swartz pleaded guilty to
molesting two girls under the age of 11 and was sentenced to 8 years in

* Republican judge Mark Pazuhanich pleaded no contest to fondling a
10-year old girl and was sentenced to 10 years probation.

* Republican anti-abortion activist Nicholas Morency pleaded guilty
to possessing child pornography on his computer and offering a bounty to
anybody who murders an abortion doctor.

* Republican legislator Edison Misla Aldarondo was sentenced to 10
years in prison for raping his daughter between the ages of 9 and 17.

* Republican Mayor Philip Giordano is serving a 37-year sentence in
federal prison for sexually abusing 8- and 10-year old girls.

* Republican campaign consultant Tom Shortridge was sentenced to
three years probation for taking nude photographs of a 15-year old girl.

* Republican racist pedophile and United States Senator Strom
Thurmond had sex with a 15-year old black girl which produced a child.

* Republican pastor Mike Hintz, whom George W. Bush commended
during the 2004 presidential campaign, surrendered to police after
admitting to a sexual affair with a female juvenile.

* Republican legislator Peter Dibble pleaded no contest to having
an inappropriate relationship with a 13-year-old girl.

* Republican Congressman Donald "Buz" Lukens was found guilty of
having sex with a female minor and sentenced to one month in jail.

* Republican fundraiser Richard A. Delgaudio was found guilty of
child porn charges and paying two teenage girls to pose for sexual photos.

* Republican activist Mark A. Grethen convicted on six counts of
sex crimes involving children.

* Republican activist Randal David Ankeney pleaded guilty to
attempted sexual assault on a child.

* Republican Congressman Dan Crane had sex with a female minor
working as a congressional page.

* Republican activist and Christian Coalition leader Beverly
Russell admitted to an incestuous relationship with his step daughter.

* Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger allegedly had sex with
a 16 year old girl when he was 28.

* Republican congressman and anti-gay activist Robert Bauman was
charged with having sex with a 16-year-old boy he picked up at a gay bar.

* Republican Committee Chairman Jeffrey Patti was arrested for
distributing a video clip of a 5-year-old girl being raped.

* Republican activist Marty Glickman (a.k.a. "Republican Marty"),
was taken into custody by Florida police on four counts of unlawful
sexual activity with an underage girl and one count of delivering the
drug LSD.

* Republican legislative aide Howard L. Brooks was charged with
molesting a 12-year old boy and possession of child pornography.

* Republican Senate candidate John Hathaway was accused of having
sex with his 12-year old baby sitter and withdrew his candidacy after
the allegations were reported in the media.

* Republican preacher Stephen White, who demanded a return to
traditional values, was sentenced to jail after offering $20 to a
14-year-old boy for permission to perform oral sex on him.

* Republican talk show host Jon Matthews pleaded guilty to exposing
his genitals to an 11 year old girl.

* Republican anti-gay activist Earl "Butch" Kimmerling was
sentenced to 40 years in prison for molesting an 8-year old girl after
he attempted to stop a gay couple from adopting her.

* Republican Party leader Paul Ingram pleaded guilty to six counts
of raping his daughters and served 14 years in federal prison.

* Republican election board official Kevin Coan was sentenced to
two years probation for soliciting sex over the internet from a 14-year
old girl.

* Republican politician Andrew Buhr was charged with two counts of
first degree sodomy with a 13-year old boy.

* Republican politician Keith Westmoreland was arrested on seven
felony counts of lewd and lascivious exhibition to girls under the age
of 16 (i.e. exposing himself to children).

* Republican anti-abortion activist John Allen Burt was charged
with sexual misconduct involving a 15-year old girl.

* Republican County Councilman Keola Childs pleaded guilty to
molesting a male child.

* Republican activist John Butler was charged with criminal sexual
assault on a teenage girl.

* Republican candidate Richard Gardner admitted to molesting his
two daughters.

* Republican Councilman and former Marine Jack W. Gardner was
convicted of molesting a 13-year old girl.

* Republican County Commissioner Merrill Robert Barter pleaded
guilty to unlawful sexual contact and assault on a teenage boy.

* Republican City Councilman Fred C. Smeltzer, Jr. pleaded no
contest to raping a 15 year-old girl and served 6-months in prison.

* Republican activist Parker J. Bena pleaded guilty to possession
of child pornography on his home computer and was sentenced to 30 months
in federal prison and fined $18,000.

* Republican parole board officer and former Colorado state
representative, Larry Jack Schwarz, was fired after child pornography
was found in his possession.

* Republican strategist and Citadel Military College graduate Robin
Vanderwall was convicted in Virginia on five counts of soliciting sex
from boys and girls over the internet.

* Republican city councilman Mark Harris, who is described as a
"good military man" and "church goer," was convicted of repeatedly
having sex with an 11-year-old girl and sentenced to 12 years in prison.

* Republican businessman Jon Grunseth withdrew his candidacy for
Minnesota governor after allegations surfaced that he went swimming in
the nude with four underage girls, including his daughter.

* Republican director of the "Young Republican Federation" Nicholas
Elizondo molested his 6-year old daughter and was sentenced to six years
in prison.

* Republican benefactor of conservative Christian groups, Richard
A. Dasen Sr., was charged with rape for allegedly paying a 15-year old
girl for sex. Dasen, 62, who is married with grown children and several
grandchildren, has allegedly told police that over the past decade he
paid more than $1 million to have sex with a large number of young women

Bear in mind that this list omits all those who have been revealed to be gay, including the head of the legal organization who pursued an effort to have Clinton disbarred who was twice caught trying to fondle undercover officers in Georgia parks.

It should also be noted that the Beverly Russell named in the list above is the stepfather of Susan Smith, the woman who murdered her two small children by locking them in a car and rolling it into a lake.

As the entry on Smith in Wikipedia notes, "She was spared the death penalty in a decision by her South Carolina jury, after her stepfather, Beverly Russell, a prominent Union County citizen, Republican Party and Christian Coalition leader, testified that he had sexually molested her when she was a teenager (until the intervention of the local Department of Social Services), and again in the months before the drowning of the two boys. Russell was never charged with a crime, despite the fact that he was accused in court of, and did not deny, the molestation and incestous sexual abuse of his teenaged stepdaughter."

Then there's Roger Stone, the veteran Republican dirty trick master who started his career as a member of CREEP during Watergate, was responsible for organizing the "bourgeois riot" of republican staffers who staged phony "spontaneous" demonstrations and invaded the Dade County clerk's office pounding on doors and yelling eventually forcing them to stop counting votes, and who's had a hand in many scummy tricks up to and including the Swift Boat liars.

Seems he and his wife are confirmed swingers and even placed ads featureing their pictures in swingers magazines. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But it's the HYPOCRISY, stupid.

And of course, there's "Jeff Gannon", the gay prostitute who was a "reporter" (no training or experience whatsoever) from the sham right wing Talon news agency and who was allowed to bypass the usual vetting process and given press passes to the White House dozens of times. He'd sit in the front row and was invariably called on by Scott McClellan due to his pro administration anti-Dem softball questions. It was later revealed that he was advertising his services as a gay escort on internet sites he'd registered in his name, including "", complete with fully nude gay poses. Amazingly, Gannon/Guckert had gotten the White House press passes while using a phony name.

September 29, 2006

Bush's own church condemn's Iraq war

The National Council of Churches will begin airing a television commercial today in which a bishop of the United Methodist Church, President Bush's denomination, says going to war against Iraq "violates God's law and the teachings of Jesus Christ."
United Methodist Church leaders helped launch a week of protest and civil disobedience against the war in Iraq by signing a declaration of peace urging President Bush to pull U.S. troops out of the country.
The Declaration of Peace, signed Sept. 21, is described as a call for nonviolent action to end the war in Iraq. The Washington event was one of 350 that will be staged nationwide to promote the peace initiative. The declaration calls for people to “engage in peaceful protests” if there is not a plan for troop withdrawal established and begun by Sept. 21, days before Congress adjourns for the fall elections.

More than 500 groups, almost half of them faith organizations, are involved in the declaration of peace effort, which recently retired Bishop Susan Morrison said includes “acts of moral witness to seek a new course for our country.”

By signing the peace document in front of the White House, the United Methodists and other protesters hoped not only to make a statement but also to influence congressional races in November by forcing candidates to outline where they stand on the war.

After attacking Dem patriotism, Hastert mangles Anthem

"Oh say can you see, by the stars barely light..."

The Wonkette's right, this is the creepiest thing you'll see all day

Behold the George Allen family portrait.
This guy was supposed to be a Republican front-runner for president.
I'll let Wonkette fill you in.

Latest Republican sexual deviant, hypocrite resigns

In a party built on phony piety and hypocrisy, it's become almost routine when prominent members, almost always those that are most damning and intolerant of gays, are revealed to be gay, perverts, or both. Literally dozens of Republicans have been revealed to be sexual deviants and predators.

Here's just the latest example.
Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.), who suddenly announced this afternoon he is stepping down from Congress after his sex-laced e-mails to a former male page, who was 16, were published, made headlines in May 2003 when he took the unusual step of calling a news conference to denounce a report in a South Florida alternative paper that he is gay.

Foley declined to answer questions about the subject then, saying his sexual orientation had nothing to do with is duties as a lawmaker. New Times had raised the issue.

But Foley accused Democratic activists of spreading the rumor to derail his Senate campaign. That drew a sharp response from Florida Democratic Party Chairman Scott Maddox, who criticized Foley for responding to one inappropriate accusation with another. Foley later dropped out of the U.S. Senate race.

In the House, Foley was co-chairman of the Missing and Exploited Children Causus.

The House in 2005 passed Foley-sponsored legislation that would subject child sex offenders to stringent monitoring requirements and tough penalties for failing to comply with registration requirements. "We track library books better than we do sexual predators," Foley said.

Foley said he was "sorry" today after the emails to the former page were revealed. In the emails, sent from his AOL account, Foley had made repeated references to sexual organs and sex acts.

In Congress, Foley has been considered one of the foremost critics of child pornography and pedophiles. Among other measures, he succeeded in getting a law passed that allowed organizations like the Boy Scouts of America and Boys and Girls Clubs to have access to FBI fingerprint background checks to help protect children.

Woodward book reveals depth of White House deception, denial.

Bush lies about Iraq? Gee, there's a news flash. It's been apparant for years to anyone paying attention that the administration has been committed to a massive propaganda campaign to manipulate the people they supposedly represent.

But even so, it's doubtful that most people are aware that American troops are being attacked on average every 15 minutes of every day, as is revealed in Bob Woodward's new book.

The Bush White House has since the beginning run more like a marketing and advertising agency than servants of the people who elected them. They've rolled out hundreds of PR campaigns, and most have focused on convincing the public that what they see and read with their own eyes is simply not the truth, and pushing a obviously rosy scenario directly at odds with the facts which favors them politically instead.

Now Bob Woodward, who first covered himself with glory for his work with Carl Bernstein in exposing the abuse of power in the Watergate scandal, but who has of late served as a very highly paid hagiographer of the Bush administration, has apparently realized that he's on the wrong side of history and has produced a new book which more closely approaches the truth.

Apparently, the commercial trend is running anti-Bush now, as opposed to the past 10 years when for members of the press, writer, and pundit class, it paid handsomely to be anti-Clinton, anti-Democrat, and anti-liberal. There was big money in trotting out the right wing line. Expect to see the more craven members of this chatty class jumping ship and trying to cash in on the other side as the massively huge, massively funded, and until recently, massively effective right wing noise machine begins to sputter.

Even Chris Matthews has recently lied to try to reposition himself, maintaining he was against the Iraq war from the beginning. (Not. He acted like he had a man-crush on Bush, swooning over his manliness in the flightsuit and was positively gung-ho about going to war)

The enormously successful manipulation of the American people by the right, complete with their very own cable network in addition to hundreds of am radio stations, servile pundits, corporate and individually funded phoney advocacy groups, and lavishly funded think tanks and their reports and "experts" who are widely quoted and appear in the media with the corporate/right wing slant to nearly every story, was only effective as long as they had an aura of credibility with the public.

Even though the lies, distortions, and breathtaking hypocrisy of it all have been plain for years, it takes the public a while to catch up. Bush and the right have enjoyed and capitalized on the public's tendency to give their leaders the benefit of the doubt.

But the lies have been so blatant, the arrogance so supreme, and the spin so far-fetched that even the public, gullible as they are, are finally calling bullshit.

Apparently, you really can't fool all of the people all of the time. The Bushies have been amazingly successful at it for about 7 years, but of course, Rove realized that 9-11 was a gift, not to unite and rally the country to higher purpose and resolve, but a tool which they'd use to gin up fear, drive wedges and divide the country as never before, and a handy all purpose political bludgeon to both scare people into electing them and to cast opponents as being in league with terrorists.
They've used 9-11 with shameless and cynical abandon since literally hours after the buildings fell.

Woodward started the PR campaign for the book with an appearance on 60 Minutes in which he dropped a few tid-bits. Perhaps the spookiest and most alarming revelation is that Bush has been reaching back into the dust-bin of history and actually consulting Henry Kissinger, of all people, on what he should do in Iraq.
The Bush administration is concealing the level of violence against U.S. troops in Iraq and the situation there is growing worse despite White House and Pentagon claims of progress, journalist Bob Woodward said in advance of a new book.

Insurgent attacks against U.S.-led forces in Iraq occurred, on average, every 15 minutes, Woodward said in a CBS "60 Minutes" interview taped for broadcast on Sunday.

"It's getting to the point now where there are eight, 900 attacks a week. That's more than a hundred a day. That is four an hour attacking our forces," Woodward said in excerpts of the interview released on Thursday before the release of his book on the administration, called "State of Denial."

"The assessment by intelligence experts is that next year, 2007, is going to get worse and, in public, you have the president and you have the Pentagon (saying) 'Oh, no, things are going to get better,"' Woodward added.

Parts of a National Intelligence Estimate that President George W. Bush ordered released this week showed an upsurge in Islamic militancy, while a new U.N. report said the Iraq war was providing al Qaeda with a training center and fresh recruits.

A senior administration official saw little new in Woodward's charges "except that Bob believes he has a lot of making up to do since the Washington establishment criticized him for being too soft in his first two books (on the Bush administration)."
Woodward said Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney often met with Henry Kissinger as an adviser. Kissinger was President Richard Nixon's national security adviser and then secretary of state during the Vietnam War.
According to Woodward, Bush was absolutely certain he was on the right course on Iraq. The writer said that when Bush invited key Republicans to the White House to discuss Iraq, the president told them, 'I will not withdraw even if Laura and Barney are the only ones supporting me,"' referring to his wife and Scottish terrier.

Woodward also reports that the president and vice president often meet with Henry Kissinger, who was President Richard Nixon’s secretary of state, as an adviser. Says Woodward, "Now what’s Kissinger’s advice? In Iraq, he declared very simply, ‘Victory is the only meaningful exit strategy.'" Woodward adds. "This is so fascinating. Kissinger’s fighting the Vietnam War again because, in his view, the problem in Vietnam was we lost our will."

Read a more in-depth account of the book in the NY Times here.

Why Clinton pushed back

E.J. Dionne in WaPo:
Bill Clinton's eruption on "Fox News Sunday" last weekend over questions about his administration's handling of terrorism was a long time coming and has political implications that go beyond this fall's elections.

By choosing to intervene in the terror debate in a way that no one could miss, Clinton forced an argument about the past that had up to now been largely a one-sided propaganda war waged by the right. The conservative movement understands the political value of controlling the interpretation of history. Now its control is finally being contested.

How long have Clinton's resentments been simmering? We remember the period immediately after Sept. 11 as a time when partisanship melted away. That is largely true, especially because Democrats rallied behind President Bush. For months after the attacks, Democrats did not raise questions about why they had happened on Bush's watch.

But not everyone was nonpartisan. On Oct. 4, 2001, a mere three weeks and a couple of days after the twin towers fell and the Pentagon was hit, there was Rush Limbaugh arguing on the Wall Street Journal's op-ed page: "If we're serious about avoiding past mistakes and improving national security, we can't duck some serious questions about Mr. Clinton's presidency."

To this day I remain astonished at Limbaugh's gall -- and at his shrewdness. Republicans were arguing simultaneously that it was treasonous finger-pointing to question what Bush did or failed to do to prevent the attacks, but patriotic to go after Clinton. Thus did they build up a mythology that cast Bush as the tough hero in confronting the terrorist threat and Clinton as the shirker. Bad history. Smart politics.
Read more.

Those evil "hate-filled" Democrats are the reason politics are so divisive and paritisan

... and if you believe that, you probably think that there's WMDs in Iraq and George Bush has kept us safe from terror.

The right simply knows no shame, hypocrisy is their stock in trade.

After they rammed through a House bill 253-168 protecting those who have tortured sometimes innocent detainees at the orders of Bush/Cheney, fat bastard Dennis Hastert said the following:
"Democrat Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and 159 of her Democrat colleagues voted today in favor of more rights for terrorists," Hastert said in a statement. "So the same terrorists who plan to harm innocent Americans and their freedom worldwide would be coddled, if we followed the Democrat plan. "
Hastert later decried the divisiveness and rancor in politics pointing out that he felt it is unfortunate that the Democrats practice the politics of division and hateful distortions and employ inflamatory language for purely partisan purposes.

OK, Hastert didn't say that last part, but I can't count the number of times I've heard Republicans or their toadies attempt to blame Democrats or liberals for the terrible partisanship that infests politics. Yet they've been making such reckless and inflamatory, false and defamatory statements as Hastert's quote above on a daily basis for over a decade. They've even codified it and had training sessions for freshman congressmen on how to do it!

How they have the nerve to even begin to point fingers at Dems is beyond comprehension.

Yeah, Dems are poisoning the political discourse. What a freaking joke.

Liars, phoneys, corrupt bought off corporate lackeys hiding behind the flag and the cross.

But if there's any justice, not for long.

The new "Democratic Vision"

Below is "The Democratic Vision: A bold new direction for a secure America"

It's the Democratic National Committee's attempt to provide American voters with a short, easily digestible, synopsis of their goals and agenda and what sets them apart from Republicans.

1. Honest Leadership & Open Government
We will end the Republican culture of corruption and restore a government as good as the people it serves.

2. Real Security
We will protect Americans at home and lead the world by telling the truth to our troops, our citizens and our allies.

3. Energy Independence
We will create a cleaner and stronger America by reducing our dependence on foreign oil.

4. Economic Prosperity & Educational Excellence
We will create jobs that will stay in America by restoring opportunity and driving innovation.

5. A Healthcare System That Works for Everyone
We will join 36 other industrialized nations by making sure everyone has access to affordable health care.

6. Retirement Security
We will ensure than a retirement with dignity is the right and expectation of every single American.

Together, America Can Do Better.

Will this resonate with the American voter?
Were the DLC successful in identifying which issues to stress? Will it appeal to the mushy middle or independents?
And perhaps most importantly, will it trump the fear mongering and focus on "national security" of the Republicans?

What do you think?

Vicki Wright, Mike Huff to hold events

Rock Island County Sheriff's candidate Mike Huff is holding a chili supper fundraiser, Saturday September 30th from 5pm to 8pm at the Rapids City Community Center, 1204 4th Ave., Rapids City, Illinois.

The chili supper will run $6 individual, $10 couple, and $15 for a family. There will be raffles and a 50/50 drawing. It's beginning to be good chili weather, so head out to Rapids City and meet the candidate.


Judge Vicki Wright, candidate for 3rd district Appellatte Court, along with Stanley Steines, candidate for Whiteside County Circuit Judge, will hold a fundraiser this Wednesday, October 4th at 104 East Main Street, Morrison, IL.

Judicial elecions are particularly crucial races this year, and any readers who are able to attend and lend some support are encouraged to do so.

In coming weeks, The East Moline Democrat Club will be putting on a chili supper for Judge Wright at the UAW hall, 630 19th Street, East Moline, on Thursday October 12th. Further details will be posted closer to the date.

September 28, 2006

Psst. Don't bring up the "I' word.

Amazing story about Bush meeting with Republican Senators. Amazing and deeply troubling.
President Bush barely mentioned the war in Iraq when he met with Republican senators behind closed doors in the Capitol Thursday morning and was not asked about the course of the war, Sen. Trent Lott, R-Mississippi, said.

"No, none of that," Lott told reporters after the session when asked if the Iraq war was discussed. "You're the only ones who obsess on that. We don't and the real people out in the real world don't for the most part."

Lott went on to say he has difficulty understanding the motivations behind the violence in Iraq.

"It's hard for Americans, all of us, including me, to understand what's wrong with these people," he said. "Why do they kill people of other religions because of religion? Why do they hate the Israeli's and despise their right to exist? Why do they hate each other? Why do Sunnis kill Shiites? How do they tell the difference? They all look the same to me."

Bush meets with the leaders of the majority in the Senate, they don't ask a single question about Iraq!!!??

Gee, that inspires confidence. It confirms in a vivid way that Republicans have refused to perform and continue to neglect their sworn duty to provide oversight and a check on the executive branch. They've given the White House an utter blank check, and have served as nothing but a rubber stamp, do-nothing congress. And history will record that they absolutely laid down and allowed enormous damage to be done to the country, the world, and the constitution, all in the name of loyalty to party and power above all else.

And Republican candidates are banking on the corporate/Bush millions to carry them into office where they will then pay it all back by serving to expand and consolodate Republican power and serve corporate interests above all else.

Will the public be fooled once more?

And Lott's statement removes all doubt that even prominent members of the "most exclusive club in the world" are often utter idiots. Scary even.

Lott thinks Iraq isn't important to many people? Is he nuts? Well, I think he answered that already. Either that or it's breathtaking wishful thinking ahead of the elections.

Republicans to hold "election day operations training" session at E. Moline Haring office today

Want to learn more about Republican "Election Day Operations"? Then get on down to the Steve Haring campaign office at 464 17th Avenue in East Moline at 6:00 p.m. tonight (Thursday) for the Republican "2006 Election Day Operations Training Seminar".

You might pick up some valuable information.

A familiar character

CLICK HERE for full size

Remind you of anyone you know? This sort of scared-to-death, run for your lives, if you're not terrified the terrorists will win, right-wing stuff is so familiar to me (including from a local blogger) that it's hilarious!

The fact that anyone is clear-eyed about terrorism, realizes that terrorists are a relatively small group, and that they don't include every muslim or arab on earth, or the thought that others aren't sufficiently scared out of their wits and willing to endorse extreme and unconstitutional measures to keep us "safe" just drives them nuts.

And a further irony is that the right is supposed to be the party of the fearless heavily armed action hero macho, macho man, not sceered a nuthin'. Yet they spend their times biting their nails and quaking in their boots swallowing every comic book scare tactic that they read or hear until they're sure, like "Danger Man", that terrorists are salivating to behead them at the mall.

Their empassioned argument is that the irrational fear they feel is the only thing protecting us. (and allowing the tax cuts to continue)

They insist that if we dare ratchet down the debilitating fear level towards the "evil-doers" and their imagined super-human ability to devise and pull of literally any plot or attack that the right's fevered imaginations can conjure, that at that very moment, the "islamofascist" hoard will come screaming into their upscale neighborhoods and incinerate their Lexus' and subject them and their families to weeks long torture fests, drinking their blood and feasting on their pets.
Those terrists hate freedom, you know. Hell, they're suiciders even.

Tom Tomorrow shows how dumb, illogical, and unhealthy this way of thinking is. And it's not hard to see how promoting such irrational thinking is a nearly criminally cynical attempt by Rove et. al. to ensure their continued hold on near total power and further change this country into something more akin to corporate/nationalistic fascism than a liberal democracy.

Hike up your pants, here come the political ads

Political ads have started hitting the area, primarily from the Republicans. If they're laying out this much money this early, we can only look forward to become absolutely sick and tired of them long before election day.

The House Republican Organization and the Illiniois Republican Party respectively have shelled out a hunk of money to pay for glossy mailers for Haring.

Apparently I missed the election and Haring won. Either that or they're being purposely deceptive.

On each of the four sides of the mailers, there's no indication that Haring is a candidate. It simply states, "Steve Haring State Representitive - 71st District"

Not "Haring for State Rep", the word candidate appears nowhere on the mailers. (and neither is there anything to indicate he's a Republican, other than the tiny lines reporting the organizations that paid for the ads, though this seems a common practice.)

Not sure if this violates any campaign honesty rules or statutes, but it's certainly deceptive.

Haring's also jumped into the air war with a TV ad campaign that takes a picture of Boland's face and makes it look like some leering fat buffoon resembling Oliver Hardy.

If this is the negative tone right out of the chute, it's not going to be pretty. The Republicans are obviously out to throw everything they have into this race, and likely others in the area.

In Iowa, Whalen has a goofy ad which opens with his smiling face approving of the message in a friendly manner, then jarringly cuts to an ominous dark montage trying to portray Bruce Braley as an evil "trial lawyer" who would essentially throw your grandma into a snowdrift if he had half a chance.

I did catch the tail end of a Braley ad which they've evidently gotten on the air several days after Whalen, though I didn't catch it's full content.

So, keep those clickers in hand and your finger on the mute button. Here they come, and early signs point to there being a record number this time around.

Want to starve government programs for the poor and middle class while enrichng the rich? Vote Whalen, sez Pickles

First lady Laura Bush urged Iowans to elect Mike Whalen to Congress in an appearance in downtown Davenport this morning, saying he would support the Bush tax cuts she says has boosted the economy and created jobs.

Mrs. Bush is in the state to campaign today for Whalen and Republican congressional candidate Jeff Lamberti, in central Iowa's 3rd District.

The first lady extolled Whalen’s business background, as well as his founding of a Christian radio station in Des Moines and a ranch in St. Charles, Iowa, that helps disadvantaged kids.

GOP picks Twin Cities for convention

The GOP has decided to hold their convention in Minneapolis/St. Paul, a great location central to many midwestern battleground states. It's also reported that the Dems have been considering the Twin Cities for their convention as well.

It only figures that the Republicans would beat them to the punch and leave the Dems stuck. If they do pick Minneapolis, they'll look like lame copy-cats, even though it's a good pick.

Since the Republicans beat them to the punch, maybe the Dems could hold it in Chicago. Yeah, yeah, it's been there about a million times, but, hey, the police riot and bloody street fights of '68 are then, this is now. And besides, they've built the new Millenium Park which has eaten up much of Grant Park so there's not as much room for protesters anymore, and Daley Jr. isn't his dad, thankfully.

Or, if they wanted to make both a symbolic and real gesture of support and caring, while in the process reminding people of and refocusing the country on Bush's utter failure there, they could hold it in New Orleans.

September 27, 2006

Military Brass deliver devastating indictment of Rumsfeld, war planning

Three retired military officers who served in Iraq called today for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, telling a Democratic "oversight hearing" on Capitol Hill that the Pentagon chief bungled planning for the U.S. invasion, dismissed the prospect of an insurgency and sent American troops into the fray with inadequate equipment.

The testimony by the three --two retired Army major generals and a former Marine colonel -- came a day after disclosure of a classified intelligence assessment that concluded the war in Iraq has fueled recruitment of violent Islamic extremists, helping to create a new generation of potential terrorists around the world and worsening the U.S. position.
Batiste charged in his testimony that Rumsfeld "is not a competent wartime leader" and surrounded himself with "compliant" subordinates.

"Secretary Rumsfeld ignored 12 years of U.S. Central Command deliberate planning and strategy, dismissed honest dissent, and browbeat subordinates to build 'his plan,' which did not address the hard work to crush the insurgency, secure a post-Saddam Iraq, build the peace and set Iraq up for self-reliance," Batiste said.

In addition, Rumsfeld "refused to acknowledge and even ignored the potential for the insurgency," the retired general said. "At one point, he threatened to fire the next person who talked about the need for a post-war plan," Batiste added.

"Secretary Rumsfeld's dismal strategic decisions resulted in the unnecessary deaths of American servicemen and women, our allies, and the good people of Iraq," Batiste said. "He was responsible for America and her allies going to war with the wrong plan and a strategy that did not address the realities of fighting an insurgency."

Eaton told the panel, "We went in with a bad plan," adding that "stay the course is not a strategy."

Hammes said removing the regime of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein "introduced major instability not just in Iraq, but in the greater Middle East." And while the Bush administration has repeatedly said the war in Iraq is critical to U.S. security, "it has asked nothing of the majority of U.S. citizens," he said.

"While asking major sacrifices, to include the ultimate sacrifice, from those Americans who are serving in Iraq, we are not even asking our fellow citizens to pay for the war," Hammes complained. "Instead we are charging it to our children and grandchildren."

This hearing, held by Dems since Republicans refuse to hold any sort of meaningful oversight hearings to do with Iraq, earned threats from Trent "Helmet Hair" Lott who threatened the Dems with "retribution" if they dared use a meeting room for such a purpose again.

The entire thing is must see, riveting and inspiring testimony from committed, high ranking, tough, life-long Republican, hardened military officers who bravely and unambiguously tore the bark off the myth of success and competence of both the Bush White House and in particular, Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. All of them made it a primary recommendation that among the first actions needed to ensure any degree of success in Iraq is the immediate resignation of Rumsfeld.

They detailed incompetence and arrogance on a truly disasterous and ridiculous scale from the Secretary of Defense both in the planning for and ongoing efforts in Iraq.

The entire thing is riveting and contains many bombshells (no pun intended)

View it on C-Span at rtsp://

Olberman as Murrow?

Keith Olberman has been delivering a series of scorching endictments against the lies and incompetence of the Bush regime lately in what amounts to an inspiring and hopeful sign that maybe it's finally OK for jounalists to actually report reality, rather than the make-believe story lines enforced by the right for the past several years.

Olberman seems to be casting himself as a later-day Edward R. Murrow, and perhaps he will be remembered as the first journalist with the guts to call a spade a spade and begin to wake up the American people to the danger in their midst.

EAPrez at Details provides both the video and the transcript of "A Textbook Definition of Cowardice"

Allen: From Hero to Zero

George Allen was considered a prime candidate to be the Republican front-runner for president. This I always found curious as the guy comes across as a sort of sedated dunce.

Well, those of you playing at home can safely cross Allen off your score cards.

In addition to the "macaca" remark, it was recalled that Allen kept a confederate flag in his office, as well as a noose.

He then bristled at a question regarding whether his family were jewish, then admitted that his grandparents were indeed jewish, then made the stupid remark that even so, his mom still made plenty of ham sandwiches and pork chops.

Now it's revealed that in college he often deployed the N-word in talking about blacks.

Say good-by George. It sucks when the true colors of Repubicans come to light. At least for them.

September 26, 2006

For Bush, Iraq historically trivial

To President Bush, the Iraq war, the 2600 American dead, all the families torn apart, all the grief, death and destruction will be considered a "comma" in history.

In an interview with Wolf Blitzer yesterday, Bush told Blitzer that the horrific violence in Iraq will be viewed as "just a comma" "when the final history of Iraq is written."

I guess when you're viewing things with a perspective of all history since the beginning of time, you can have the luxury of figuring that monumental slaughter and destruction embarked upon out of ignorance, ego, and ideology isn't that big a deal.

It then follows that John Wayne Gacy didn't really do anything worth getting upset about, since compared to the millions of people killed in the last few hundred centuries, his victims were negligible.

For all his lying, all the phoney stagecraft, all his scripted dissembling, Bush has often given glimpses into his true mindset, such as when he mocked condemned prisoner Karla Fay Tucker's pleas to be spared while he was Texas Governor. In an interview with conservative Tucker Carlson, Carlson was shocked when Bush mimicked her pleas by saying in a mocking female voice, "Please don't kill me! Oh please don't kill me.", showing clearly that in his elitist, juvenile, and near sadistic mind, a woman for whom even the Pope recommended granting clemency asking that her life be spared was a source of humor and mockery.

There's been other glimpses into the rather pathological mindset of the man which I won't list here, but a couple quotes from his mom seems to convey the basic outlook of her son.

His mother provided another insight post-Katrina after touring a crowded arena filled with Katrina refugees in Houston, remarking, "What I’m hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them.”

Yep Babs. They've lost everything. Don't even know where their family members are or if they're alive or dead. Have nothing to return to, and are virtually refugees inside their own country. Yep. It's working out just great for them. Translation: These darkies never had it so good.

Or the day before her son issued the ultimatum to Hussein to leave office or face invasion. When asked by Diane Sawyer if she watched the news, Babs replied haughtily, "But why should we hear about body bags, and deaths, and how many, what day it's gonna happen, and how many this or what do you suppose? Or, I mean, it's, it's not relevant. So, why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?"

It seems apparent by Bush's "comma" remark that his beautiful mind isn't wasted on body bags and deaths and other such untidy things. It's just the little people being fed into a meatgrinder on behalf of the economic elites, just like always. No biggie in the scheme of things, and no reason to get upset too much. Bush understands this and is under no illusion that the war is for some noble cause, and since he expects Americans to line up to die in any cause they can be sold on, there's nothing special that's happened. Even if it is all a huge mistake, oh well, that's history for ya.

One can't help wonder how the thousands of sons, daughters, wives, husbands, mothers and fathers of servicemen and women who have been slain or permanently crippled and scarred in Iraq feel about being told by the man who ordered them into battle that it's all ultimately nothing but a "comma" in history? How would you feel?

Greg Mitchell of Editor & Publisher posts a comment on this sentiment by the man who led the country into his war of choice.

Obama hits the Quads this Saturday

Picture taken at opening of Moline Obama office last January

Sen. Barack Obama will be making a return trip to Iowa to stump for 1st District candidate Bruce Braley after having appeared at Sen. Tom Harkin's annual Steak Fry a week ago, and he'll also be making an appearance in the Illinois Quad Cities in support of Phil Hare's congressional campaign.

As reported by alert readers, Obama is to make a stop at the Moline Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 25 at 4600 Blackhawk Road in Rock Island, IL before continuing on to Iowa for Braley.

Obama is scheduled to appear from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. and tickets are a very reasonable $35.00.

The Hare office is taking RSVPs. Call Louis at 788-HARE, or you can buy a ticket at the door.

God and conservatives

John Danforth, the former Republican senator from Missouri and Episcopal minister, was on Meet the Press this past Sunday. He, as contrasted with most of the more shrill Christian fundementalist leaders who are in the public spotlight, radiated a gravitas and intelligence that was clear to see. He was calm, he was reasoned, and most of all, it was apparent that this was a man who had examined things clearly and honestly, not just as far as was necessary to come up with a justification for an agenda or desire for power.

During the interview, Russert referred to the editorial "Onward Moderate Christian Soldiers" which Danforth had written in the New York Times in June of 2005. The sentiments expressed there need to become more widely acknowledged by the general public, and Danforth expressed an degree of optimism that the public will slowly begin to see the destructive influence of those who misuse God as a tool to gain power. He sees the corrosive and unreasoned influence of the Christian right becoming more widely recognized for what it is, and therefore condemned and pushed back to the margins from where it emerged before Republicans discovered it as a lever to pull for political power and gave them influence far beyond their number.

In the decade since I left the Senate, American politics has been characterized by two phenomena: the increased activism of the Christian right, especially in the Republican Party, and the collapse of bipartisan collegiality. I do not think it is a stretch to suggest a relationship between the two. To assert that I am on God's side and you are not, that I know God's will and you do not, and that I will use the power of government to advance my understanding of God's kingdom is certain to produce hostility.

By contrast, moderate Christians see ourselves, literally, as moderators. Far from claiming to possess God's truth, we claim only to be imperfect seekers of the truth. We reject the notion that religion should present a series of wedge issues useful at election time for energizing a political base. We believe it is God's work to practice humility, to wear tolerance on our sleeves, to reach out to those with whom we disagree, and to overcome the meanness we see in today's politics.

For us, religion should be inclusive, and it should seek to bridge the differences that separate people. We do not exclude from worship those whose opinions differ from ours. Following a Lord who sat at the table with tax collectors and sinners, we welcome to the Lord's table all who would come. Following a Lord who cited love of God and love of neighbor as encompassing all the commandments, we reject a political agenda that displaces that love. Christians who hold these convictions ought to add their clear voice of moderation to the debate on religion in politics.

The full transcript of Danforth's appearance, as well as Russert's interview with Bill Clinton, can be read here. If you have the time, it's worth reading.

It takes not much time or thought to realize that the very issues used most cynically by the religious right and those who want to jump on their bandwagon as a means to power are almost ridiculously irrelevant to the true well-being of our country and the world. And most perversely, if their pet issues were returned to a rational priority, namely very far down the list, it would affect almost no one's life in any way, let alone negatively.

If prayer continues to be forbidden in classrooms, the country will NOT suffer or be diminished. Most people's lives won't be impacted in the slightest.

If gay marriage or civil unions are allowed, the country will NOT suffer or be diminished in any way whatsoever. Most people's lives would not be impacted in the slightest.

If the fight to burn a flag in protest is preserved, the country will NOT suffer or be diminished and no one's life will be even remotely impacted.

If religion is not allowed to be drug blatantly into the courtroom, people's rights will be preserved and no one will be harmed in the slightest. The country will not be worse off and no one will be affected in the slightest.

If schools are allowed to continue teaching established scientific fact regarding evolution, the country will not suffer, and absolutely no one will be harmed. It will have no negative impact on anyone, anywhere, at any time.

If abortion is allowed to be safe, rare, and legal, the country will not be harmed, nor will it suffer. And those that don't believe in it will not be harmed in the slightest, nor will their lives be affected in any way.

The entire agenda of the so-called Christian right is almost frivolous in light of the matters of enormous import to the future of our country and the very world we live which are crying out for immediate attention, energy, and solutions. Rather, such divisive ideological hot-button issues serve as a side-show, effectively blinding millions of people from other far more serious, far more pressing issues which, by contrast, most definitely WILL impact the country, and our planet itself, and will affect the lives of everyone living now and far into the future.

Yet politics are dominated by whether two gay guys should be allowed to marry, forcing religion into the schools and courts, and preventing even common sense gun measures? In the scheme of things, the right's obsession with these issues is impossible to fathom, other than a blatant and cynical attempt to manipulate and use the easily duped to keep them in power.

In a way, the Christian right are useful idiots to Republican power politics. They still, lemming-like, vote for Republicans due to their views on abortion, for instance, even though the Republicans have done essentially nothing on the issue, and don't have any intentions of doing anything, even though they've now controled all three branches of government for a relatively long time. They're willing dupes, fed endless propaganda from the tube and the pulpit. Yet they're still willingly manipulated, almost zombie-like, over and over again.

The right is more than aware that without this core of easily duped fundementalists, fed a steady diet of largely meaningless rhetoric and tossed tiny bones every now and then, they'd never stand a chance at the polls. The polls are the last remaining lever of power that they're money can't buy entirely. (which is why they're focusing on controling the counting of the votes instead, but that's another issue)

And it's precisely as Danforth notes, the Christian right's absolutism, their belief that they and they alone are privy to and understand God's will, that makes them so corrosive and dangerous to our long-standing democratic processes and traditions. They're attitude and choice of issues accomplishes nothing so much as driving wedges and sowing even further division and polarization throughout the country.

And all their fervently argued issues could dry up and blow away tomorrow, and the country would not only not suffer, it would be far better off, far more united, and given a chance to regain the traditional sense that we are all Americans and all together in the effort to make our nation a better place and an example to the world for peace, tolerance, justice, and freedom.

September 25, 2006

Woodpeckers: Satan's little jackhammers

OK, OK. This is a little personal, and as such, I apologize. But woodpeckers are threatening to reduce Dope Manor to dust and put me in a rubber room in the process.

I've been contending with these evil-doers for several years now. It seems that something about Dope Manor attracts them like a politician to a camera. Their knocking and rhythmic pecking never fails to begin at the very worst moment, usually just before I'm waking up or when I'm enjoying some well deserved quiet.

They've banged holes ranging in diameter from pencil sized to large enough to fit a tennis ball, and they've defied everything I've tried to get the unholy feathered demons to leave me in peace.

I've done my research and found that they're not always drilling for insects. A lot of the time it's part of their mating ritual and males are trying to win a mate, since apparently the female of the species is attracted by the most impressive pecker.

(Ahem. Moving along...)

So they favor hammering on surfaces which resonate or produce the most buck for the bang, so to speak. Evidently, the walls of Dope Manor are prime for this purpose.

By the way, these woodpeckers (which I think are downy woodpeckers) are BOLD. I open windows and bang on stuff and yell at them like a lunatic, and they barely move. After thinking it over a few moments, they might hop to a tree a few feet away and just look at me as if to say, "Are you through yet?". Then within a minute after I've gone, they're back at it like a jackhammer from hell.

In my research, I'd found that one Quad City business, Nix-a-lite of East Moline, is a world leader in pest deterrent products, focusing mainly on their patented spike strips which, when installed along various ledges and potential perches, keep pigeons and other critters off of buildings.

There I found that they sell thin foil strips which are supposed to scare off pests such as woodpeckers. They're not cheap, for what they are, so I came up with my own approximation. As it happened, I'd spied a Halloween decoration last year which was a sort of foil spiral, orange on one side and black on the other with a loop for hanging, and tacked it to the side of the house.

I'd also read that these pests are visually attracted by holes already pecked. So I'd picked up a can of this spray foam junk that's used to fill in holes and gaps around the house with the idea of filling in all the holes they'd knocked in the house. You spray it on through a straw and it expands to several times its size and then hardens.

It went fairly well, but was difficult to get on neatly and the foam would expand and ooze and need smoothing which was messy. But I only did one side of the house and didn't get to the areas they frequent which were much higher on the house.

But with the foil thing hung near their prime pecking area and the holes filled, I anxiously waited to see if it would have any effect.

It seemed to, as the pecking disappeared for several months, replaced by the sound of the foil thing scraping against the house. (ugh) I breathed a cautious sigh of relief and crossed my fingers.

But now they're back, and with a vengeance. They start their drumming usually near dawn and at dusk. It must be mating season or something, or they've just gotten used to my handy-dandy foil thingamabob.

Since these tormenters have returned to mock my efforts, they're focusing their incessant knocking on the part of the house where I couldn't fill the holes without an extension ladder.

So today I ran to the store and picked up a different type of this spray foam hole-filler junk and got out the ladder. What I didn't realize is that unlike the kind I used last year, this type wasn't water based and is essentially like foaming super glue.

I'd tried to read the can, but the plastic packaging they had around it blocked this vital information.

If I'd been able to read it, I would have seen that the only thing that even has a fighting chance of getting this stuff off is acetone. This I found out after having already gotten it smeared all over my hands, the can itself, the ladder, and just about everywhere else, including my shirt, face, and hair. I tried searching for some nail polish remover, but wasn't successful.

The label also said in bold, DO NOT WASH OFF WITH WATER.

So I tried to wash it off with water.

But that made it worse. My fingers were sticking to each other and everything I touched. If I bent my fingers it was tough to even straighten them again. It was maddening. It was foamy, gooey, thick, super-glue.

Now I was faced with having to drive back to the store to get some acetone, which wasn't going to be easy when all I could use was a small area of one pinky and the side of one palm which wasn't covered with this toxic, sticky, and rapidly hardening gunk. It took a lot of gyrating and work just to get my keys out of my pocket.

I managed to get back to the store and find the stuff, then got home, and removed the plastic cap on the can of acetone only to find that it had a metal plug thing in the opening. I guessed that it was like the foil over a tube of medicine or something and you were supposed to just poke a hole in it.

So I took a piece of re-bar and started banging on it. It didn't puncture, but I did manage to completely mangle and crush the metal threads that the cap went on before the little metal thing just fell off.

So I continued filling the holes as best I could, with this tar-like gunk dripping and hanging off of everything, and then spent about 15 minutes scrubbing my hands with the toxic and highly flammable acetone. I had to do it about 4 times until my hands were the shade of a ripe tomato, and I still didn't get all of it off.

Why do I relate all of this? Well, hopefully, you might get a chuckle out of my incompetence and the fact that these cute little birds are getting the best of me and driving me crazy.

And the other reason is to make a desperate appeal to the loving public for any advise they may have. I don't want to resort to firearms, but it has crossed my mind, specifically a bazooka.

Any ideas? Suggestions?

Have you had to contend with these infernal beasts, and if so, what did you do? Did it work?

September 23, 2006

Bill Clinton steps up

President Clinton recently used the world-wide respect he enjoys to convene a historic meeting of world leaders from business and varied fields to actually DO SOMETHING about the perilous state of the world.

It doesn't take a genious to realize that this is quite a reflection on the utter abandonment of leadership on so many issues crucial to the world by this incompetent and war-obsessed administration.

Richard Branson, the renegade adventurer and mogul of Virgin enterprises pledged several billion dollars, all the profits of his airline and train companies, to the effort to address climate change, and other's addressed a host of pressing problems nearly ignored by Bush.

The effort got near universal praise and has inspired hope for millions around the world.

In this light, Clinton agreed to sit down with Faux News' Chris Wallace for an interview to discuss this important effort.

But for Fox, it was more imperitive to try to grill Clinton about the lies which have been told attempting to blame him and his administration for 9-11, essentially saying, falsely, that Clinton had many opportunities to take out bin Laden and purposely didn't.

This is provably false, and refuted by any number of courses, including the official government 9-11 report, the report which the propaganda laden ABC series purporting to tell the story of the lead up to 9-11 said it had based the show on, but much of the show was pure fiction, distorting history and attempting to blame Clinton administration figures for letting bin Laden escape, directly contradicting all official reports.

Yet when Clinton objected to this and asked that at the very least, that blatantly made up events not be presented as historical fact, the right had a fit.

Bill Clinton is not allowed to defend himself against anything, not even when provable lies are being aired as fact in an attempt to misrepresent both his role prior to 9-11 and history itself.

If Clinton says ANYTHING to even note that the right are LYING, the right simply goes nuts.

Now Chris Wallace disregards the fact that it was agreed that Clinton would be there to discuss his amazing and important effort to help the planet in positive ways, and instead REPEATS the right wing propaganda that he could have done more to take out bin Laden.

This is after weeks of press which showed beyond any doubt that such a claim is utterly FALSE.

So Clinton points out to little Chris that he did a hell of a lot more than Bush did in the 8 months he was in office prior to 9-11, and that as has been universally acknowledged, his administration briefed Bush and his people extensively and warned them that bin Laden and alQueda would be their number one threat and should be their number one priority.

The Bushies thumbed their noses at it and instead launched an effort to revive the star wars missle defense plan. They did NOTHING. Aschcroft even cut the budget for the FBI's counter terror unit.

A partial transcript of the interview can be read here. (Many thanks to alert reader tiz)

The interview is scheduled to be aired on Faux this Sunday. It will be interesting to see how they creatively edit it.

For an example of right wing frothing on this subject, see Paladin's comments on the post about Meet the Press below.

Timmy's got the big dog, but we don't.

Scheduled to appear on Meet the Press:

Former President of the United States

President of Afghanistan

Fmr. United States Ambassador to the United Nations
Author, Faith and Politics: How the "Moral Values" Debate Divides America and How to Move Forward Together

Should be interesting, to say the least.

But the Meet the Press site reports that MTP will be aired at noon our time due to the Ryder Cup coverage. It suggests checking on it's list of stations to find out what time it will appear in local areas.

Let's see......

Davenport, IA
KWQC-TV, Pre-empted



Can't wait to see what they put on in place of it.

It's not even Easter

This guy was in my front yard yesterday. I wondered if this hare might be related to Phil, but then figured that if he was, he would have at least put up a campaign sign after he was done munching.

September 22, 2006

Gianulis to retire from Blago administration

Kurt Allemeier of the Dispatch/Argus reports:
Long-time Rock Island County Democratic party leader John Gianulis will retire from his position in Gov. Rod Blagojevich's administration to focus entirely on his duties with the county organization.

Mr. Gianulis, who was considered instrumental in electing Gov. Rod Blagojevich in 2002, informed the governor Monday that he would retire as deputy director of intergovernmental relations and personnel effective Sept. 30.

He said his retirement is not linked to a federal investigation of the governor's administration. Mr. Gianulis was questioned by attorneys for the Illinois Inspector General earlier this year, before the investigation into Gov. Blagojevich's hiring practices was taken over by the U.S. Attorney's office in Chicago.
Being involved with personnel in the Blagojevich administration put John G. close to a widening investigation of hiring practice violations which have been swirling around the governor for some time. Regardless of whether any wrong-doing occured, the investigations will no doubt be something Gianulis will have to contend with for some time after his return to chairing the Rock Island County Democratic organization.

"Pickles" Bush to stump for Whalen

The literate half of the Bushs is slated to appear in Davenport next Thursday to campaign for restaurateur Mike Whalen, the latest in a long line of Republican heavyweights to make the trek to Iowa on Whalen's behalf.

The event will be at the River Center. Ticket prices range from $250 per person to listen to the First Lady's remarks to $1,500 per person for a breakfast with Mr. Whalen, priority seating at the reception and a photo opportunity with Mrs. Bush, according to information emailed by the Whalen campaign.

There are also $1,000 per person tickets that include the breakfast and priority seating at the reception.

Hare, Zinga go toe to toe

In a healthy development, a debate held between congressional candidates Phil Hare and Andrea Zinga was held earlier this week in Champaign.

And in another fortunate development, Public TV station WQPT will broadcast the debate tonight (Fri.) at 9:00 p.m. according to media reports.

WQPT also plans to rebroadcast the debate again two weeks later Friday October 6th, again at 9:00 p.m.

WQPT is at channel 10 on the Medicom Cable system.

Should be interesting, to say the least.

September 20, 2006

Follow the leader right into the ditch

George W. Bush doesn't much care for democracy. He doesn't care much what anyone thinks, not his constituents, and certainly not the rest of the world.

And not only does he not defend America's core moral values, standards, and civil rights, but he has actively and consistently used the "war on terror" as an excuse to lower them or destroy them altogether.

One of the series of almost embarassing things that Bush the Lesser has attempted lately, is to go on a podium pounding crusade to argue that he should be able to pervert the Geneva Convention protocols for the treatment of prisoners of war by making up his own definition of what constitutes torture and inhuman treatment.

Bush, in his semi-coherant style, is attempting to argue that the Geneva Accords need "clarification", and right this minute. Even though they've been respected and followed by the U.S. and other "civilized" countries in dozens of wars over the span of over 50 years.

Bush's motivation in this weird quest is to try to shield U.S. agents, and perhaps even members of his administration and himself, from possibly being prosecuted for war crimes.

What Bush is arguing for is akin to you or I committing a murder and then arguing that the law should be changed retroactively so that murder was not a crime back when we did the killing.

He wants to play weasely legal games, aided by the oily Alberto Gonzales, with this long established cornerstone to civilized conflict in order to justify and make legal all the blatantly illegal measures that he's approved of and ordered since 9-11.

No wonder he seems almost panicky and more unhinged than usual when he argues for this. He thinks this might prove a personal embarassment down the road and his legacy might be in danger.

Bush's political survival has always been the guiding principle behind all his decisions, always rising above the good of the country or even the deaths and torture of thousands, including innocent women and children.

The danger that Bush is ignoring is the fact that if he's successful in this effort, future generations of captured U.S. service men and women will be far more likely to be subjected to inhuman treatment and torture.

But true to form, King George can't see past his own nose.

Bush and his regime think that they are literally kings of the world, that everything that has occured prior to Bush is irrelevant. They have such utter disdain and disrespect for history and precedent it's as if they truly think that history began on the day Bush was elected.

They think they're always right, demand to get their way no matter what, consider anyone who so much as questions them as the enemy and throw tantrums if they don't get their way. They act as though there's no one else on earth, and are incapable of seeing beyond their own egos and selfish desires.

This is all too familiar, as it's the kind of behavior we've all seen and endured from 2 year olds.

But now the entire world is suffering for this shallow and incurious dunce's malfeasance and the ideological blindness and utter incompetence of those around him.

Generations of painstakingly crafted argeements, treaties, and protocols are tossed in the trash without a thought if they prove inconvenient to their interest and desire for conquest and power.

Now Bush is insisting that the portion of the Geneva Accords dealing with detention of prisoners who don't fit into the catagory of uniformed soldiers and the use of torture "needs clarification".

This is Bushspeak for saying that he wants Gonzales to come up with some B.S. legal opinion crafted specifically to say that the illegal detention, torture and secretly shipping prisoners to foreign countries to avoid responsibility for torture that they've been doing for years is fine under the terms of the Geneva Convention.

In essence they're demanding that that pesky law against murder be re-written so that the exact type of murder they committed is rationalized away as legal. Retroactively, of course.

But more importantly, and why he seems panicky and extra urgent about it, is that he wants this done before the Republicans lose the house.

In order to keep CIA and others, including his administration, from being tried for war crimes, Bush would rather cover his own ass than protect future generations of U.S. service men and women who will be captured by the enemy.

It doesn't take a really bright person to figure out that if we start to decide what rules of the Geneva Convention we want to follow by disingenously making some twisted legal argument that certain torture proceedures are allowed by the treaty, that it opens the door wide to any country who captures our service men or women to do the same thing.

North Vietnam did this by classifying it's prisoners like John McCain as "war criminals" rather than prisoners of war, and therefore arguing that they didn't have to comply with the Geneva Convention.

Bush is now pounding the lecture and demanding that we should be allowed to do the same thing. Actually, he HAS been doing it ever since 9-11, but now wants to, long after the fact, twist things around to state that it complies with the Geneva Accords.

As I've noted in the past, the only hope for stopping or standing up to the radicals in the White House was if Republicans did it. This is a sad situation, but true. The media plays the Dems as if they're some side show and use them as props, never giving their views or policies any serious attention. The Dems are so impotent that one wonders why they even show up at the Capitol.

Republicans have taken a few small shots at Bush & Co. in the past when the stupidity from the White House has gone so far over the line that even the incredibly disciplined and lock-step Republicans couldn't swallow it.

Now it's taken two statements by Colin Powell, and the opposition in the senate by Sen. John Warner and Sen. John McCain in addition to several former members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to get a little press coverage of just how stupid and ill-considered Bush's petulant insistance that the Geneva conventions mean what he says it means, so there.

In his desire to cover his own ass and spare him the embarassment of having people hauled before war crimes courts, he's endangering all future soldiers, all but assuring that our troops will be sugjected to horrible treatment and torture.

This is the way he always operates. He simply puts NOTHING above his political future and power, no matter if in doing so it results in the deaths of thousands of innocent people, even if they're Americans. We've seen it in this "war on terror" as well as the aftermath of Katrina, and far too many other instances.

Consider the scenario if Bush gets his way and is allowed to hide behind a legal perversion designed to make what he's already guilty of ordering "OK".

The U.S. will be no better than Vietnam, Somalia, Iran, Iraq, or any other rougue state. It will no longer have any claim to have higher standards than it's opponents, and it will have thrown away what moral authority it has earned.

It will confirm to those in the mid-east and around the world that we are indeed barbarians as radical leaders have assured them we were, and take away the ability to righteously condemn the barbarity of terrorists.

And not only that, but it will fuel a downward spiral to even more barbaric and morally depraved actions by all parties to conflicts.

Bush wants to lead us down into the moral gutter with the "terrorists".

Should we follow?

Well, I tried

For some time I've been graced by some critics who take me to task for not being sufficiently "positive" about the area and the achievements of it's leaders. They attempt to slam me for being against everything, which of course, isn't remotely the case.

Feeling a bit guilty, I thought I'd do a post on what people really liked about the area, seeing as there must be positive things that I'd somehow been guilty of overlooking. If my critics were correct, I was ignorant of great things going on all over the place. This would surely be a way to get a flood of the "positivity" that they felt was lacking.

I even made my own list to get people started and then appealed to readers to share things they like about the area.

Well, the post has been up for four days now, sufficient time for people to respond, and so far, exactly ONE reader has managed to come up with 3 things they liked about the area.

I'd thought that at least those who've banged on the blog and local media for being "negative" would have at least contributed, but I guess I was wrong. Apparently they have a tough time thinking of things that are really great about the area themselves, even though they expect it of myself and the media in general.

The area surely isn't THAT bad. From hearing the critics, there's surely a wealth of things going on for which we all should be grateful.

So... again... can anyone think of anything they really like about this area? Anyone?

If so, let us know by commenting on the "That's what I like about you" post below.

September 18, 2006

Judge Vicki Wright scores four

Candidate for 3rd District Appellate Court Judge Vicki Wright has recently gotten the strong endorsement of four key organizations,

  • The Fraternal Order of Police -- Illinois State Lodge;
  • The Associated Firefighters of Illinois;
  • The Illinois Federation of Teachers

  • and
  • The Illinois AFL-CIO.
"Judge Wright’s 15-year career on the bench reflects a strong commitment to integrity, fairness and professionalism. The Illinois AFL-CIO endorses her enthusiastically," said Margaret Blackshere, President of the Illinois AFL-CIO.

"In your 25 years of experience, you have developed a deep understanding of the law and you apply it consistently and equitably," said Rick Merrill, President of the Associated Firefighters of Illinois, which represents 14,500 active and retired professional union firefighters in the state. "As representatives of Illinois’ First Responders, we endorse your candidacy."

"Your commitment to public service and law enforcement is one that we believe strongly yields our support to your campaign," said Ted Street, State President of the Fraternal Order of Police – Illinois State Lodge.

"Judge Wright’s legal abilities, integrity and impartiality make her the best choice in the Third District Appellate campaign," said James Dougherty, President of the 90,000-member Illinois Federation of Teachers. "She has a significant edge over her opponent in terms of judicial experience, as well, and that is important given the court caseload."

"I think Judge Wright just hit a grand slam in her campaign for Third District Appellate Judge," said State Sen. Mike Jacobs, a Wright backer, commenting on the four big endorsements. "Her record as a hard working judge is now bringing these rewards because she earned it long before the campaign ever started."

Read more about these and other endorsements HERE on Judge Wright's website.

General information about Judge Wright and campaign news can be found at the main page at

September 17, 2006

Tsk, tsk

It was brought to my attention in a comment to another post that a Zinga for Congress sign along 53rd street in Moline had a new message added by an enterprising person or persons unknown.

I'd seen the same sign in the past couple days and hadn't noticed any vandalism, though that may be due to the fact that it's hard to notice as you drive by.

The sign is on wooded property behind some very pricey homes just north of John Deere Expressway and is situated in a shallow ditch, which makes it a bit difficult to see clearly, though it's a very large sign and imposssible to miss.

But someone, most likely a youngish female judging from the feminine penmanship and the tell-tale circle used to dot the "i", managed to get to the sign somehow and scrawl "Racist" on both sides.

This is unfortunate, of course, as vandalism of signs isn't a great idea from either side. But the critic in me can't help but note that if you're going to deface a sign with a message, try to pick a more visible color than black, and pick a spray can or marker that writes a line wider than a half inch.

The only redeeming thing about this is that most people probably don't even notice the writing and if they do, can't make out what it says.

Of course, this isn't to say whether the spray painted message is valid or not.

Catch Harkin Steak Fry, Obama on C-Span

For those of you who didn't attend Sen. Tom Harkins 29th annual Steak Fry in Indianola, IA, you can watch the entire thing tonight (Sun. 17th) on C-Span beginning at 5:30 p.m. according to Harkin's website.

This year's star atracting is Sen. Barack Obama and notable as it's his first foray into Iowa. The event will be sure to attrack a lot of media attention.

*UPDATE* The event is being broadcast live right now (3:30 p.m.) and Obama just began to speak. I don't know if it will be rebroadcast on tape later, but I would guess it will be.

I don't know if the starting time provided by Harkin's site was incorrect or if that's when C-Span plans to rebroadcast the event, or if C-Span changed their schedule, or..... ?

At any rate, knowing C-Span (and I do, judging from the fact that I have a ghost of the C-Span logo permanently burned into the lower right corner of my TV screen)they'll surely rebroadcast the entire program most likely later tonight, and perhaps in the near future.

**UPDATE II** Just saw that the event will be shown twice more this evening at 8:30 and 11:30 p.m. CST.