Sunday, October 24, 2004

Little more than a week to go before the Presidential election, and I'm sure you can't wait for it to be over. I for one am sick of hearing of new polls every two hours. Now Bush is up by two points. Now they're neck-and-neck. Now somebody's leading by only one point, but the other poll shows it's the other guy leading by one. Now they're in a statistical dead-heat. Enough already!

There have been many articles on the number of people casting early or absentee ballots. The articles claim that the reason for this is that people are unsure of the new electronic voting systems and want to be certain that their vote is counted. That may be true, but I think a good number of the early voting is just to be done with it already. Once they've voted they can stop listening to all the noise.

And noise it is. The ads are getting nastier on both sides as each tries desperately to build a meaningful lead. Only successfully pulls each side apart and gives the truth on which each sides lies are based.

Just try to stay above the noise, and don't let it discourage you. Vote anyway, even if just to piss them off.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Cousins for Kerry? No, not my cousins (well, some of them). The second cousins of President George W. Bush have announced their support of Democratic Presidential Nominee John F. Kerry.

You can see who they are, and why they've endorsed the challenger to their family's throne, at

But, of course, the biggest news of the day is the big Red Sox win last night over the NY Yankees! With the World Series coming to Boston on Saturday it's almost enough to make one believe that Kerry can also pull out a comeback upset on November 2.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2004

The latest entry at takes on the oft-repeated myth that John Kerry is the "most liberal man in the US Senate." Sure, he's a little more liberal than average, but whether he's number 1 or number 478 all depends on who's doing the counting and how it is that they decide to measure what a "liberal" is.

And... as has been pointed out before... what the hell is wrong with being liberal? The more liberal candidate has won the popular vote in each of the last three Presidential elections. Keep that in mind on November 2.

"Sure, Ken," I hear you say. "But hasn't Kerry voted to raise my taxes an average of once every three weeks?" Well, if I may quote "Kerry has not voted 350 times for tax increases, something Bush campaign officials have falsely accused Kerry of on several occasions. On close examination, the Bush campaign's list of Kerry's votes for 'higher taxes' is padded. It includes votes Kerry cast to leave taxes unchanged (when Republicans proposed cuts), and even votes in favor of alternative Democratic tax cuts that Bush aides characterized as 'watered down.'"

What about the Bush campaign's improved claim that Kerry voted 98 times "for tax increases?" "That number is still padded, including 43 votes on budget measures that only set targets and don't actually legislate tax increases, as well as multiple votes regarding an individual bill."

Need a good laugh? (Well, maybe laughing through the tears?) - Check out Filmstrip International's little flash presentation. Play it at work and sing along (if you don't really need the income).

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Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Yesterday I posted a new article at "Who's on Third?." This is my round-up of several of the third party and independent candidates for President, along with links and my recommendations.

Regular readers of this blog probably already know that I'm a "Green for Kerry," but may still want to click on the article for background on some of the lesser known also-rans.

Another web site to check is that of Operation Truth. This is an independent, non-partisan organization of veterans from the Iraq and Afghani wars shedding some light on what they've been through. They don't endorse any one candidate over any other, but the image they paint certainly isn't as rosy as the President's.

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Thursday, October 14, 2004

When I check my statistics page to see how many people have come to this page one of the things it tells me is the searches folks have used to find me on Google and elsewhere. I'm always amazed at some of the searches that lead here.

For instance, for over a month I've regularly had hits from people looking for information on "bush and carey", either about the debates or the election in general. Lots of people apparently think W is running against actor/comedian Jim Carey, not Senator John Kerry. I'm guessing that if they vote at all, it will be for Bush. Either that or porn star Mary Carey, who was a candidate for Governor in our recall election last year, has jumped into the Presidential contest and I just hadn't heard about it.

One I've had a couple of hits on in the last week are searches like "Kerry raise drinking age." I haven't heard it, but I'm guessing that there's a rumor on the college campuses to this effect. If that's what brought you here, forget about it. There's absolutely no truth to this or reason to believe it even might be true. What you've experienced is the Republican tactic of "if you can't win 'em over, frighten 'em out of voting."

Interestingly, I haven't had any hits with people searching for the truth about the draft rumors. Both major candidates have made statements against re-instating the military draft. Kerry has made a strong point about how Bush has created a "back door draft" through the multiple tours of duty being served by National Guardsmen, and policies that have extended certain soldiers duty indefinitely.

My personal feeling is that it is true that neither candidate wants to bring back the draft. But... if things continue as they've been in Iraq, and if we expand the war into Iran (or South Korea or ...), we will have no choice but to begin conscription. I believe that is likely under Bush, but can be prevented under Kerry. But that's just my opinion.

One more point. This week's theme for the Bush campaign is to repeat the word "liberal" as many times as possible in relation to Senator Kerry. Well, as the President would say, "Bring it on." Remember: the more liberal candidate has won the popular vote in the last three Presidential elections (even if not the electoral vote).

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

John Kerry kicked ass! The debate just ended and there is no doubt that Kerry has won three out of three debates. The President had absolutely nothing to offer in this debate on domestic policy.

Three questions pertained in some way to jobs - one about layoffs, one on the minimum wage, and one about affirmative action - and in each instance all W could do was talk about No Child Left Behind. The questions had to do with adults who've either lost their jobs, or aren't earning enough to feed their family, or who are being passed over for jobs because of their race, and the President's answer is early childhood education?

No Child Left Behind and tax cuts. Tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts. Oh, and No Child Left Behind. Four years and that's the entire record Bush has to run on. Everything else he's running from. Oh, it wasn't his recession. Oh, but we were attacked. Give me a freaking break.

Meanwhile, John Kerry was strong, forceful, personable, and clear. He didn't dodge the questions; he offered real answers without treating all Americans like idiots.

I came into this election season as a "nobody but Bush" voter. Then I was a "Vote for Kerry, hope you don't regret it" kind of guy. Now I'm truly sold. John Kerry is not a second best choice, or a necessary evil. This guy is good, and I will be proud and pleased to vote for him on November 2.
Fourteen Early Warning Signs of Fascism:

1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism
2. Disdain for the importance of human rights
3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause
4. The supremacy of the military/Avid militarism
5. Rampant sexism
6. A controlled mass media
7. Obsession with national security
8. Religion and government are intertwined
9. Power of corporations protected
10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated
11. Disdain for intellectuals and the arts
12. Obsession with crime and punishment
13. Rampant cronyism and corruption
14. Fraudulent elections

This list is excerpted from “Fascism Anyone?” by Lawrence W. Britt (Free Inquiry magazine, Volume 23, Number 2). Read the full article to get more detail on what Britt means by each of the fourteen points. He created the list after making a study of several Fascist regimes, including Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Franco's Spain, Salazar's Portugal, Papadopoulos's Greece, Pinochet's Chile, and Suharto's Indonesia.

Now, I'm not saying that we live in a Fascist nation, or trying to slyly call President Bush a Nazi. I don't believe that either of those would be true statements. But I do believe that the end result of many of the President's priorities and policies are surely - if not deliberately - leading us toward a form of Fascism.

Read the article, then think about how many of the fourteen requirements today's USA might satisfy. I'd say we easily fit ten or eleven of the points and are well on our way on the few remaining. Luckily, we still have an election scheduled for just a few short weeks from now. We are not quite so far gone that we can't still reverse this drift into totalitarianism. Get out and vote.

"Of all the enemies of true liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. ... No nation can preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare." -- James Madison

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

One of the more accurate and fair criticisms of John Kerry was spoken yesterday on MSNBC's "Countdown": "He's a sixty second guy in a thirty second world."

The discussion was, of course, about Kerry's sense of the nuances of public policy and the feeling that the public "doesn't do nuance." The result is that Kerry is likely to speak in longer sentences that contain multiple clauses separated by "buts" and "howevers". Quoted out of context, with the "buts" removed, the loose clauses can sound un-informed and foolish, rather than serving to explain the complexities of the world. The smarter, 60-second guy end up looking like an idiot in the 30-second world.

Yesterday's example came out of Kerry's longer discussion of our nation's challenges and our current fixation on terrorism as the only issue that matters. The out-of-context quote was, "We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives but they're a nuisance."

The President's campaign, of course, pounced on that. Terrorism as a nuisance? Outlandish! Out of touch! We gotta crush 'em! Go on the offensive; kill 'em where ever they may be!

Except that Bush himself has said that the War on Terror is actually unwinnable. That it's the reality of the 21st century that we will always have to be on guard, vigilant against potential attacks. I think that's probably correct. And, as Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser to Poppy Bush said, the United States can break the back of terrorism "so that it is a horrible nuisance, and not a paralyzing influence."

I believe that's what Kerry what getting at. Yes, we cannot declare victory against terrorism and think we'll be safe. There will be inconveniences - nuisances, if you will - such as airport screenings and the like, but we can get to a place where they don't need to be the focus of our lives. That's the kind of optimistic message that Presidential candidates are supposed to give.

But, in a thirty second world, it doesn't always come across that way. With the polls once again tied up, Kerry gets one more ninety minute opportunity to make his case. See you in Arizona tomorrow night.

Monday, October 11, 2004

My period of semi-under-self-employment is coming to an end. This morning I accepted a position at the Emergency Housing Consortium as Assistant Director of the singles division. That's not singles as in swinging good times, but as in individual homeless persons; the other divisions are families and youth.

Now don't go thinking that this changes my mind about the state of the economy. After all, I'll be going to work at a homeless shelter that has far more people showing up each night than there are beds available, with a primary task of finding more money to keep the doors open in the midst of government budget cuts. Of course, I am feeling a bit more secure about my personal economic situation. So much so that I've just made a little trip to and made a small donation.

After many years on the "technical assistance" side of nonprofit life it will be exciting, rewarding, and just a little bit scary, to return to the direct service side of things. I've got a couple of weeks to wrap up most of my consulting gigs (won't be a problem) and then I'll start work on the 25th. I've got a couple of workshops that I'm scheduled to teach after that, but my new boss is aware of them and is okay with my taking time off to make those commitments.

Interesting thing about being self-employed; rather than having to give notice to one boss, I've got several bosses (clients) to notify and make final arrangements with. I'd better get started...

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Sorry for posting my comments a little late, but my DSL wasn't connecting yesterday...

After the second debate, I still put Kerry ahead 2-0, but I have to admit that Bush did come off a little bit better this time around than he did last week. Where I think the President blew it was in losing his temper and cutting off the moderator when he was trying to ask follow-up questions. I haven't heard anybody else commenting on that, but I found it rude and showing a lack of character. Oh, and facts. He has trouble with facts, too.

There were some points where I wish Kerry would have pushed back at the President's lies a little more, but he did do a good job at both defending himself, and explaining what his position on various issues was.

The "town hall" audience asked some very good questions. I think most pundits underestimated the ability of "regular folks" to ask insightful, probing questions. I wish the rules of the debate would have allowed for a little more contact and give-and-take between the candidates and the questioners, but I do think it was still an effective format.

Here's an interesting article at "Vital Source" saying how progressive and liberal independents, Greens, etc., will be voting for Kerry (even if they don't love everything about him), while many conservatives (Republicans included) will be voting for "anybody but Bush" (either for Kerry or for conservative 3rd party candidates). While Nader has [unfairly] taken much of the blame for Gore's loss in 2000, the authors conclude, this year the wild-card votes could likely work against Bush. I certainly hope so.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Excuse me while I take the morning off from the Presidential race to focus on California politics. We've got fifteen different statewide ballot propositions this time around, including multiple conflicting and competing initiatives dealing with Indian Gaming, Health Care, Primary Elections, Law Enforcement, and more.

I've posted my first impressions of each the fifteen, along with how I think I will be voting, but I reserve the right to flip-flop and change my vote as I read more and learn some of the finer details of proposals.

One issue that's not on the ballot is the ballot itself. Many of us (including here in Santa Clara County) will be using paperless voting machines. No paper proof of how you voted, and no means for a re-count. It's making a lot of people very nervous, and many are planning on using absentee ballots to get around that.

But, here's a little line I found in my "Official Voter Information Guide": Every voter does have the option of casting a paper ballot. "If you would prefer to use a paper ballot instead of a touchscreen/DRE, you may request one when you sign in at the polls." I may try that, and see if they'll actually give me a paper ballot.

There's still time for Californians to register; the deadline is October 18.

Tonight - Back to the Presidential race with debate number two...

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

The VP debate is over, and while there was plenty of blood spilled, there were no dead bodies at the end. Overall, however, I do have to admit that Cheney gave the slightly - that's slightly - stronger performance.

Cheney had the closest thing to a winning line when he said that as VP "I am the president of Senate, the presiding officer. I'm up in the Senate most Tuesdays when they're in session. The first time I ever met you was when you walked on the stage tonight."

It's a beautiful line. It also happens to be a lie. Besides the time they've each spent in the Senate, they've also met on at least two public occasions: a national prayer breakfast in February 2001 during which Cheney, in his remarks, acknowledged Edwards and when Edwards escorted North Carolina Senator Elizabeth Dole while she was sworn in by Cheney in January 2003.

Cheney was also, however, the most flustered, when even he couldn't defend the President's position in favor of a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. He first said what he believes, "States have regulated marriage... That would be my preference." But once states, such as Kerry's Massachusetts, actually moved that way, "the president felt that it was important to make it clear that that's the wrong way to go, as far as he's concerned... he sets the policy for this administration, and I support the president." Talk about flip-flops and having it both ways! Regulating marriage is the state's responsibility, unless they accept that responsibility.

When Edwards then gave a clear outline of his and Kerry's position, and explained that the Constitutional amendment is just a political rouse to divide the nation, Cheney could say nothing in response to defend the administration. He used about three of his 90 seconds rebuttal time. "That's it?" asked moderator Gwen Ifill. "That's it," said the Veep.

But, overall, I do have to say that this was a close match, with Cheney possibly finishing slightly ahead. Despite the items I chose to quote above, he managed to keep Edwards on the defensive throughout the session; defending Kerry's record as well as his own. All Edwards was able to do in return was get in a few of the same rehearsed points that Kerry had given last Thursday. Edwards did very well, but not excellent.

For those who missed the action, The Washington Post has the full transcript online for some exciting reading.

And now, for your shock and amusement, a couple of video links:

G.W. Bush drunk - Looks like he's at some wedding, a few years before running for President, but not that long ago...

G.W. Bush on sovereignty - It's a simple question for a simple man...

And, finally, Bush and Blair in a loving duet.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Be sure to watch the big show tonight when Vice Presidential Candidate John Edwards takes on Shadow President Dick Cheney. I just hope that mean old VP doesn't hurt that nice young man from North Carolina. Hopefully they'll search Cheney for weapons of mass destruction before they allow him on stage.

Over at The Capital Times, John Nichols has 10 questions for Cheney that I'd love to hear the answers to, but which probably won't be asked tonight. Still, I suggest you review the questions and ask them of your right-wing friends.

And, if you think the repercussions of this elections will only last for four years, check out People for the American Way's amusing flash video on Nixon's legacy on the Supreme Court, and how Nixon's hand helped turn the 2000 election. Take a look, and then pass the URL on to your un-decided friends who can't be bothered to vote this year.

After you've checked out those links, and watched the debate, click on over to and make one more small donation to get some ads played in the swing states.

Yesterday I had lunch with a friend who is also a nonprofit consultant. I was telling him that my business has slowed down in the past few months after a good start. He agreed that it is slow, that he's never seen it so bad, and that with upcoming budget cuts it's only going to get worse. He is terrified of a Bush re-election (as am I), and is seriously considering moving to Australia if it happens.

I've had similar conversations over the last few weeks with others in the nonprofit field locally: consultants who've never seen it so slow and professionals with roots in the community who are talking about emigrating elsewhere (Canada, The Netherlands, New Zealand, etc.) if Kerry loses.

Personally, I'm just seeing that I missed the opportunity to move Ohio or Pennsylvania a couple of months ago. At least there my vote would have a chance of effecting the outcome.

Friday, October 01, 2004

See the big show last night? Of course you did. While there were no "knock-out punches", I did feel that Kerry won handily. His only problem was looking at Jim Leher (the moderator) when answering, instead of into the camera. But he did do quite a bit right:
  • He was clear about his position on Iraq - Yes, Saddam Hussein was a danger, but a lower priority than Osama bin Laden, and we should never have gone it essentially alone.
  • He further made headway in pointing out that Osama is still out there due to our being distracted, unnecessarily, by Iraq.
  • He succinctly presented his vision of security through alliances, and how it relates to Iraq, Iran, North Korea, and the war on terror in general.
  • He made the point that while we build police and fire stations in Iraq, we're closing them here at home; instead of protecting our nation we gave millionaires another tax cut.

Beyond what was said, Kerry simply behaved better. While Bush was speaking, Kerry showed proper respect for the President. Bush, however, looked agitated and impatient while Kerry spoke. Other reasons W lost:
  • It was his campaign that insisted on the timing lights being visible to the audience, yet he was the candidate who had trouble keeping to the time limits.
  • Several times (particularly in the second half of the debate) he asked for more time to reply to Kerry's answer, then stumbled around with nothing to say.
  • When at a loss for words he kept repeating the same tired comments about Kerry having "many different positions" on Iraq, after it has already been satisfactorily explained by Kerry.
  • Note to W: the shorter candidate should never slouch behind the lectern. It makes you look smaller than you really are, in both size and stature.

I was also extremely pleased that, despite the campaigns best efforts to sanitize the proceedings, there was a bit of exchange between the candidates that almost approached it being a real debate, and not just a stage managed event.

Still, the best line of the night came before the debate, when Chris Matthews was talking to reverend Al Sharpton. Sharpton began by commenting on the debate being held in Florida, and said of the President that he's "returning to the scene of the crime."

When Matthews asked about Kerry's seemingly changing positions on Iraq, Sharpton replied that Kerry's only mistake at first was "believing this President." He went on to say, "You want to know Dan Rather's sources? Fine! What were [Bush's] sources? Where are the Weapons of Mass Destruction?"

Yes, I think Kerry won the debate, but I only wish he had brought some of Sharpton's excitement and directness onto the podium.

Next up, the domestic issues debate. I just hope that John Kerry tears Bush's domestic record apart, then looks into the camera and quotes Ronald Reagan; "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?"

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