Tuli Can't Stop Talking

These are just my thoughts on contemporary issues and an attempt to open up a dialogue.

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Location: New York City

A citizen who cares deeply about the United States Constitution and the Rule of Law.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Don’t I Wish!

This is one of my favorite songs and videos.

And I wish that Cyndi was right.

Oh, how I wish. But times have so changed.

Now we just want to survive!

Ohio in Play!

This is big in Ohio and for democracy. Here are some numbers from the Columbus Dispatch article:

Although we’re miles from Election Day, a new Dispatch Poll shows that a near-sweep of statewide races appears within the grasp of Ohio Democrats.

Led by gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland’s commanding 19-point lead at the top of the ticket, Democrats are up by at least 8 points in the contests for auditor, secretary of state and treasurer.

The only Republican currently ahead for any state administrative office is Auditor Betty D. Montgomery, vying for the attorney general’s job she held from 1995-2002.

Strickland’s continued dominance — he led by 20 points two months ago in the first Dispatch Poll for the general election — could shift the spotlight in Ohio to the battle for U.S. Senate.

Right now, Democratic challenger Sherrod Brown clings to a 5-point lead over incumbent Sen. Mike De-Wine in one of the nation’s most watched match-ups.

And here are some choice quotes:

Poll participant George Sentell, 81, who said he has voted Republican for more than 50 years, is one of the GOP faithful who has crossed over to Strickland.

"In all these years, I’ve tried to be a moderate Republican and I’ve had a harder and harder time doing that," said the former chemical engineer from his retirement home in the northeastern Ohio city of Hudson.

He said Blackwell’s advocacy of tax cuts won’t fix Ohio’s dismal ranking in so many categories, especially education.

"I think he’s pretty far out in some things," Sentell said. "His Reaganomics has been disproved years and years ago. And he’s supported by the religious right, which I don’t go for."

Joyce Detunno is an example of respondents who back all Democrats for administrative offices, except in Montgomery’s attorney general race.

"I’m sick of the Republican Party. What a bunch of crooks," remarked the 65-year-old North Sider, who said she has voted mostly for GOP candidates in recent elections. "When the Democrats were in power it was bad, but nothing like the Republicans have done. …

"(Gov. Bob) Taft’s been caught. I don’t know why the people didn’t force him to step down. Now we’ve got (U.S. Rep. Bob) Ney. They should send him to prison and take away his retirement. We’re putting these people in office … and they’re doing everything except what the people want them to do."

Well, let’s see if this actually holds till November. I am always a skeptic, but this looks like someone may have gotten the message and taken a look at the facts on the ground.

And those facts, i.e., reality, aren’t pretty!

But as we all know the voters, i.e., the unwashed, have the final say!

And their say is the only one that counts. Unless you count Bush v. Gore, that is!

I am Feeling So Much Safer, Aren’t You?

So, 16 of the Intelligence Agencies of the U.S. Government are saying what an awful lot of us have been saying for sometime. Some have been saying that this was expected in the run up to the War on Terra attack on Iraq. But then we were mostly accused of being anti-American and more than likely supporters of the Terrorists and soft on Terra. But I digress.

Here is what the NYT’s reports:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 — A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes a more direct role to the Iraq war in fueling radicalism than that presented either in recent White House documents or in a report released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee, according to several officials in Washington involved in preparing the assessment or who have read the final document.

The intelligence estimate, completed in April, is the first formal appraisal of global terrorism by United States intelligence agencies since the Iraq war began, and represents a consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government. Titled “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States,’’ it asserts that Islamic radicalism, rather than being in retreat, has metastasized and spread across the globe.

An opening section of the report, “Indicators of the Spread of the Global Jihadist Movement,” cites the Iraq war as a reason for the diffusion of jihad ideology.

The report “says that the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse,” said one American intelligence official.

More than a dozen United States government officials and outside experts were interviewed for this article, and all spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were discussing a classified intelligence document. The officials included employees of several government agencies, and both supporters and critics of the Bush administration. All of those interviewed had either seen the final version of the document or participated in the creation of earlier drafts. These officials discussed some of the document’s general conclusions but not details, which remain highly classified.


More recently, the Council on Global Terrorism, an independent research group of respected terrorism experts, assigned a grade of “D+” to United States efforts over the past five years to combat Islamic extremism. The council concluded that “there is every sign that radicalization in the Muslim world is spreading rather than shrinking.”

So, it appears that those who have grabbed the Terra Threat by the Throat to make the voters afraid have been lying to them. Geesh, I am shocked! I always knew that our War on Terra was going in the wrong direction. It’s not like you have to be Sherlock Holmes to know that.

So, just like the electronic voting machine problems, is this another “Duh moment?”

Wow, Watch This!

Here it is, what you have been waiting for via our favorite Crooks and Liars, the full video of Clinton v. Wallace, Fox News, et al. Big Dog takes them all on, Wallace, Fox, Republicans, etc. He just doesn’t take kerosene and throw it on them and then light the match. This is what the Democrats and any right thinking person should be doing this fall. Why some are so afraid of the truth is put in stark relief in this interview.

Now, Clinton did some things during his reign that I am so opposed to as in the welfare and criminal justice policy and legal areas. But the man has balls and a spine. These are things that the current crop of Dems lack and it is what is making the electorate so crazy. Clinton could triangulate with the best of them. But, when he comes out swinging, he actually comes out swinging.

No one, and I mean no one, is going to accuse him, in the face of Dubya’s vacation from Terra, of not going after OBL. He has made that clear.

So, the question remains, when will Fox ask the same question of say W, Darth Vader, or Ms. America?

I am not a betting person, just ask my horseracing partners, but I am willing to bet that Fox will never raise this issue with this current administration.

Besides, they would only get lies and spin anyway.

What would be the point? We already know the answers.

Watch the video and have the hairs on your head stand-up!

Thank you David, John and the whole C&L crew, we love you!

Update: Tristero at Hullabaloo agrees and I couldn’t have said it better, well it is Tristero:


by tristero

I read the transcript but nothing prepared me for the passion and intelligence shown by President Clinton as he makes mincemeat of Chris Wallace. It really must be seen.

More importantly, it must be carefully studied by the leadership of the Democratic Party. This is exactly how to respond to the right wing's attempt to load the questions and manipulate the debate to their advantage. Notice how Clinton responds immediately to the rhetorical framing* of the question by challenging its honesty. Notice how he reinforces that assertion of opinion - the question is loaded, biased and cheap - by literally overwhelming Wallace with clear, detailed, assertions of fact. Wallace expected evasion and bluster. But he clearly had no idea who he was dealing with.

Within the space of a few minutes, Wallace realized he was in way over his head - that Clinton, this figure he's held in contempt, knew far more about the subject of his responsibilities, his successes, and his failures than Wallace ever would - and that the trap Wallace had tried to spring on Clinton had totally backfired. He seemed to be all but begging Clinton to let him off the hook. But Clinton, both furious and capable of channeling that fury, toyed with him longer. By the end of the segment, Wallace looked drained, grinning inanely, and Clinton appeared as if he was just getting started.

Many honest folks, as opposed to rightwingers, had serious problems with the Clinton presidency - NAFTA, welfare "reform," don't ask don't tell - and I'm not sure they're wrong. But warts and all - damn, that was a helluva president and is a helluva human being. There are some great potential presidents out there - Gore, Clark, Kerry, add or subtract your own names - but it is very, very unlikely this country will see anyone as brilliant as Clinton - both intellectually and emotionally brilliant - in my lifetime.

Watch the video. The only thing I can compare it to is Coltrane live at the Half Note or the Ives Concord Sonata. A simply amazing treat for which we have the hapless Chris Wallace to thank almost as much as Clinton. Chris Wallace is surely no Elvin Jones. He's more like an insipid melody like "My Favorite Things" or "Inchworm" which a genius can turn inside out, develop and reveal a reality that the melody itself could hardly imagine it held.

*Simply because fans of Lakoff have made the words "frame" and "framing" trendy, slathering them on arguments where they don't belong, is no reason to avoid using it in the proper context.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Something to Think About!

Ralph over at NewsFare has gone wild. As well he should. He has spit out what many of us have been thinking.

From Ralph:

Rumsfeld: I have a dream

Donald Rumsfeld now has his eye on Africa.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Friday he favors creating a new U.S. military command responsible for Africa, as the Pentagon aims to guard against potential threats to U.S. security arising from the continent…

Pentagon officials have expressed an awareness of the growing strategic importance of Africa and potential threats to American security emerging from the continent’s many war-ravaged regions and huge expanses of ungoverned territory. Pace specifically voiced concern about the al Qaeda network’s designs on Africa, among other regions.

Now our Great Leaders just have to decide which defenseless country to take over for military bases. Some place where “al Qaeda” is very fearsome, no doubt, and where there is much oil beneath the ground.

Here is the Neocon story in a nutshell. Worn-out Republicans from the Nixon, Reagan, and Bush I administrations were resuscitated to create the Bush II regime. These used-up ideologues of self-interest saw disaster heading our way, with the American standard of living hanging by a thread.

Since the 1970s, the United States has gradually decommissioned its manufacturing base, while steadily ramping up consumption. Energy self-sufficiency for the U.S. is now so far in the past that it has become astonishing to realize that in 1950 the U.S. was the world’s biggest producer and exporter of petroleum products.

As U.S. imports of raw materials and manufactured goods increased, exports were decreasing. But, as the 16th century doctrine of mercantilism asserts, it is better to give (to export) than to receive (import). When you are selling more than you are buying, the world owes you money and favors. Though the U.S. was once the king of exporters, we now depend on imports of fuel and consumer goods, purchased with borrowed money.

Such a trade imbalance cannot last forever. Therefore, the Neocons decided, as U.S. economic power waned, they would substitute military power to prop up domestic affluence. To do so required that we act the bully worldwide, taking over countries, threatening entire regions, exacting tribute in the form of raw materials — most especially oil — which could then be traded to finance the torrent of imports on which our country now depends.

To put the matter briefly, the Neocons decided to steal, at gunpoint, that which they could no longer buy. They therefore scheduled the U.S. for a quick makeover from nice, competent, wealthy good guy to broke, nasty, brutish aggressor, one who takes what he wants, laughing at anyone’s protestations.

Simultaneously, “terrorism” became a convenient excuse for any form of U.S. aggression, anywhere in the world.

Say, Citizen, you don’t much like the Neocon plan? Too bad. Just like those in the countries we attack, our own people have no recourse against the spoiled, narcissistic, heartless “heartland” of 21st-century America.

This is why the Global War on Terra is going to last forever! Get use to it!

Bill, it is About Time!

Andros over at Liberal Citizen has a take on the Clinton v. Wallace smack down and I like it. Of course I have to disclose that Andros has a special place in my heart so, I am pleased to pass this on.

Here is a snippet:

If it feels right, it’s true. Ask Homer Simpson, he’d tell you that if it’s on TV it’s a fact! A few days ago, ABC showed “The Path to 9-11”—a fictional (and libelous) account of a period in our recent history. It “confirmed” what many people already “knew” that is, the Clinton administration was to blame for not destroying Osama and his Al-Qaeda “because Clinton was too distracted with Monica and didn’t go after Bin Laden when he had the opportunity to capture or kill him.” The same people also blame president Clinton for the terrorist attacks on 9-11-2001.

Faux News has been promoting all this nonsense and more. It’s OK to have an ideological & political bend, but this network is nothing more than a brain-washing machine. Well, it doesn’t have to try too hard anyway, because it’s job is not to clean the misconceptions but to enhance and perpetuate them. Dumbing down your audience never requires seeking the truth by examining the facts. Truthiness will suffice!

As I’m writing this, Fox News is planning to air an interview with Bill Clinton on Sunday, 9/24. If you can’t watch it, you can read the full (rough) transcript here. Clinton was masterful in destroying the myths the conservatives have been creating regarding 9-11. Chris Wallace asked Clinton questions that were based on the falsehoods shown in the Path to 9-11. Here are some excerpts:

WALLACE: When we announced that you were going to be on Fox News Sunday, I got a lot of email from viewers, and I got to say I was surprised most of them wanted me to ask you this question. Why didn’t you do more to put Bin Laden and al Qaeda out of business when you were President? There’s a new book out which I suspect you’ve read called the Looming Tower. And it talks about how the fact that when you pulled troops out of Somalia in 1993, Bin Laden said “I have seen the frailty and the weakness and the cowardice of US troops.” Then there was the bombing of the embassies in Africa and the attack on the USS Cole.


WALLACE: …may I just finish the question sir. And after the attack, the book says, Bin Laden separated his leaders because he expected an attack and there was no response. I understand that hindsight is 20/20.

CLINTON: No let’s talk about…

WALLACE: …but the question is why didn’t you do more, connect the dots and put them out of business?

CLINTON: OK, let’s talk about it. I will answer all of those things on the merits but I want to talk about the context of which this arises. I’m being asked this on the FOX network…ABC just had a right wing conservative on the Path to 9/11 falsely claim that it was based on the 9/11 Commission report with three things asserted against me that are directly contradicted by the 9/11 Commission report. I think it’s very interesting that all the conservative Republicans who now say that I didn’t do enough, claimed that I was obsessed with Bin Laden. All of President Bush’s neocons claimed that I was too obsessed with finding Bin Laden when they didn’t have a single meeting about Bin Laden for the nine months after I left office. All the right wingers who now say that I didn’t do enough said that I did too much. Same people.

And, here Clinton takes aim at the Conservatives:

WALLACE: Do you think you did enough sir?

CLINTON: No, because I didn’t get him.


CLINTON: But at least I tried. That’s the difference in me and some, including all the right wingers who are attacking me now. They ridiculed me for trying. They had eight months to try and they didn’t…I tried. So I tried and failed. When I failed I left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy and the best guy in the country, Dick Clarke… So you did FOX’s bidding on this show. You did you nice little conservative hit job on me. But what I want to know..

WALLACE: Now wait a minute sir…


WALLACE: I asked a question. You don’t think that’s a legitimate question?

CLINTON: It was a perfectly legitimate question but I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you asked this question of. I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you asked: Why didn’t you do anything about the Cole? I want to know how many you asked: Why did you fire Dick Clarke? I want to know…

I have to say that when I watched this brief video and read the transcript, provided by our favorite Crooks and Liars, I was so impressed as here was a Democrat with cojonnes. He was so intense and on the point. He was the Big Dog and he was not wagging anyone’s tail.

I remember the Millennium threat and having to traverse Times Square on my way to work through all of the security and bag checks and street block offs, etc. that Clinton put in place to deal with the terrorist threat. Funny I don’t remember any security actions that the Bush administration took after that scary PDB of August 6, 2001!

Watch the video and see the truth, and truthiness be damned.

Thank you Bill and it is about time!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Vote Stealing Virus Will Spread!


As I have noted previously, the MSM is definitely late to the “Real Voter Fraud” issues (and I don’t mean voter fraud and those pesky “non-felons that Republicans are constantly railing about) in this time of digitization.

Well, those geeks over at Princeton have finally made what is at stake, and just exactly how simple and quick it is these days (think of Spam and Microsoft’s perpetual security update packets), so clear that even the biggest boob or the MSM pundits should get it with this video.

Watch it and think about the ramifications to democracy and our country in the very near future. And this is before we even talk about Republican Voter Suppression that we have seen in the recent past.

This can no longer be ignored.

Write to each of your representatives and send them this video.


Update: I guess that someone at the New York Times has noticed and it is too important to snip:

September 24, 2006

Officials Wary of Electronic Voting Machines


WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 — A growing number of state and local officials are getting cold feet about electronic voting technology, and many are making last-minute efforts to limit or reverse the rollout of new machines in the November elections.

Less than two months before voters head to the polls, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. of Maryland this week became the most recent official to raise concerns publicly. Mr. Ehrlich, a Republican, said he lacked confidence in the state’s new $106 million electronic voting system and suggested a return to paper ballots.

Dozens of states have adopted electronic voting technology to comply with federal legislation in 2002 intended to phase out old-fashioned lever and punch-card machines after the “hanging chads” confusion of the 2000 presidential election.

But some election officials and voting experts say they fear that the new technology may have only swapped old problems for newer, more complicated ones. Their concerns became more urgent after widespread problems with the new technology were reported this year in primaries in Ohio, Arkansas, Illinois, Maryland and elsewhere.

This year, about one-third of all precincts nationwide are using the electronic voting technology for the first time, raising the chance of problems at the polls as workers struggle to adjust to the new system.

“I think there is good reason for concern headed into the midterm elections,” said Richard F. Celeste, a Democrat and former Ohio governor who was co-chairman of a study of new machines for the National Research Council with Richard L. Thornburgh, a Republican and former governor of Pennsylvania.

“You have to train the poll workers,” Mr. Celeste said, “especially since many of them are of a generation for whom this technology is a particular challenge. You need to have plans in place to relocate voters to another precinct if machines don’t work, and I just don’t know whether these steps have been taken.”

Paperless touch-screen machines have been the biggest source of consternation, and with about 40 percent of registered voters nationally expected to cast their ballots on these machines in the midterm elections, many local officials fear that the lack of a paper trail will leave no way to verify votes in case of fraud or computer failure.

As a result, states are scrambling to make last-minute fixes before the technology has its biggest test in November, when voter turnout will be higher than in the primaries, many races will be close and the threat of litigation will be ever-present.

“We have the real chance of recounts in the coming elections, and if you have differences between the paper trail and the electronic record, which number prevails?” said Richard L. Hasen, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and the author of the Election Law blog, www.electionlawblog.org.

Professor Hasen found that election challenges filed in court grew to 361 in 2004, up from 197 in 2000. “What you have coming up is the intersection of new technology and an unclear legal regime,” he said.

Like Mr. Ehrlich, other state officials have decided on a late-hour change of course. In January, Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico decided to reverse plans to use the touch-screen machines, opting instead to return to paper ballots with optical scanners. Last month, the Connecticut secretary of state, Susan Bysiewicz, decided to do the same.

“I didn’t want my state to continue being an embarrassment like Ohio and Florida every four years,” said Mr. Richardson, a Democrat, adding, “I also thought we needed to restore voter confidence, and that wasn’t going to happen with the touch-screen machines.”

In Pennsylvania, a state senator introduced a bill last week that would require every precinct to provide voters with the option to use paper ballots, which would involve printing extra absentee ballots and having them on site. A similar measure is being considered on the federal level.

In the last year or so, at least 27 states have adopted measures requiring a paper trail, which has often involved replacing paperless touch-screen machines with ones that have a printer attached.

But even the systems backed up by paper have problems. In a study released this month, the nonpartisan Election Science Institute found that about 10 percent of the paper ballots sampled from the May primary in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, were uncountable because printers had jammed and poll workers had loaded the paper in backward.

Lawsuits have been filed in Colorado, Arizona, California, Pennsylvania and Georgia seeking to prohibit the use of touch-screen machines.

Deborah L. Markowitz, the Vermont secretary of state and the president of the National Association of Secretaries of State, said that while there might be some problems in November, she expected them to be limited and isolated.

“The real story of the recent primary races was how few problems there were, considering how new this technology is,” said Ms. Markowitz, a Democrat. “The failures we did see, like in Maryland, Ohio and Missouri, were small and most often from poll workers not being prepared.”

Many states have installed the machines in the past year because of a federal deadline. If states wanted to take advantage of federal incentives offered by the Help America Vote Act, they had to upgrade their voting machines by 2006.

In the primary last week in Maryland, several counties reported machine-related problems, including computers that misidentified the party affiliations of voters, electronic voter registration lists that froze and voting-machine memory cards whose contents could not be electronically transmitted. In Montgomery County, election workers did not receive access cards to voting machines for the county’s 238 precincts on time, forcing as many as 12,000 voters to use provisional paper ballots until they ran out.

“We had a bad experience in the primary that led to very long lines, which means people get discouraged and leave the polls without voting,” said Governor Ehrlich, who is in a tight re-election race and has been accused by his critics of trying to use the voting issue to motivate his base. “We have hot races coming up in November and turnout will be high, so we can expect lines to be two or three times longer. If even a couple of these machines break down, we could be in serious trouble.”

Problems during primaries elsewhere have been equally severe.

In the Illinois primary in March, Cook County officials delayed the results of the county board elections for a week because of human and mechanical problems at hundreds of sites with new voting machines made by Sequoia Voting Systems.

In the April primary in Tarrant County, Tex., machines made by Hart InterCivic counted some ballots as many as six times, recording 100,000 more votes than were cast. The problem was attributed to programming errors, not hacking.

In the past year, the Government Accountability Office, the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University and the Congressional Research Service have released reports raising concerns about the security of electronic machines.

Advocates of the new technology dispute the conclusions.

“Many of these are exaggerated accusations by a handful of vocal activists,” said Mark Radke, director of marketing for Diebold Election Systems, one of the largest sellers of touch-screen machines. “But if you want to talk about fraud and tabulation error, the newer technology is far more accurate.”

Mr. Radke cited a study from the California Institute of Technology that found that between the 2000 election, when touch-screen machines were not used, and the 2004 election, when they were, there was a 40 percent reduction in voter error in Maryland, making the vote there the most accurate in the country.

“There is always the potential for human error,” Mr. Radke said, “but that is easily correctible.”

But critics say bugs and hackers could corrupt the machines.

A Princeton University study released this month on one of Diebold’s machines — a model that Diebold says it no longer uses — found that hackers could easily tamper with electronic voting machines by installing a virus to disable the machines and change the vote totals.

Mr. Radke dismissed the concerns about hackers and bugs as most often based on unrealistic scenarios.

“We don’t leave these machines sitting on a street corner,” he said. “But in one of these cases, they gave the hackers complete and unfettered access to the machines.”

Warren Stewart, legislative director for VoteTrustUSA, an advocacy group that has criticized electronic voting, said that after poll workers are trained to use the machines in the days before an election, many counties send the machines home with the workers. “That seems like pretty unfettered access to me,” Mr. Stewart said.

Monday, September 18, 2006

A Reclamation of Independence.

Here is a website from Rhode Island that seeks to reclaim our government. Now I have to disclose that I am familiar with some of the folks involved. These folks are serious as a heart attack. So, check it out, sign up, and check out the article (click on news) written about them.

Here is their declaration:

We the People of the United States, in order to protect and preserve our rights, demand that our elected Federal officials run an effective government based upon cooperative principles.

The government derives its power from the governed and we, the governed, are displeased with the results achieved by the office holders and their appointees. We are petitioning to reclaim our government. It is our contention that our elected officials should advance the well being of the people by creating a climate where individuals can thrive through hard work and initiative. The foundation pieces for that climate are eroding. We believe our elected officials have done a poor job and are deserving of rebuke.

It saddens and angers us to see:

  • The lack of an effective energy vision and strategy
  • The lack of a strategy leading to affordable health care
  • The lack of an economic strategy that creates and maintains good, value adding jobs.
  • The lack of a strategy to achieve excellence in public education
  • The lack of a foreign policy befitting the United States of America, a country created as a reaction against abuses and usurpations


It is our fervent hope that this action rings clearly across our land and is heard by our elected officials as a call to real leadership on the issues effecting the lives and futures of all the people.

This is where our fellow citizen is coming from:

A Rhode Island man formed a Web site for citizens to show their dissatisfaction with how the government is functioning Neale Cummisky, from West Warwick, R.I., formed the Web site, www.wethenation.com almost two weeks ago. The Web site posted the “Reclamation of Independence,” a document asking to dock the pay of government officials for just one day: Election Day 2006.

I think people would like to dock their pay for doing an unsatisfactory job, Cummisky said. Cummisky said that he believes this is a way for the average person to make a statement about several issues that the government is not doing correctly.

The Web site does not have any political party affiliation and cannot actually dock the pay for government officials. “It’s a way to say, ‘I’m mad. I don’t think you should get paid,’ for everyone, young or old,” Cummisky said.

On the Web site, there is a list of issues that Cummisky and other people think need to be changed, such as the lack of effective energy visions and strategies, the lack of affordable health care or a plan to get affordable health care, the lack of good, value adding jobs, the poor quality of public education and the lack of a foreign policy to benefit the United States.

Cummisky said the government needs to have at least 10-year plans for each issue to correct them, instead of short-term two-year plans.

Cummisky said he hopes people will take the time to read the Web site and decide if they think the government is doing their job. “Simply take the time to push the button to say, ‘Yeah I agree,’” Cummisky said.

Cummisky said the Web site started as a local effort with only a handfull of signatures on the “Reclamation of Independence” and has started to grow with more than 100 signatures. Still, more are needed, Cummisky said. “[We] Need millions to make a statement to elected federal officials that their pay needs to be docked,” Cummisky said.

Even though the “Reclamation of Independence” cannot actually dock government officials pay, Cummisky hopes officials will see how unsatisfied the public is and dock it themselves for one day.

“Hopefully, officials will give up their pay for Election Day 2006,” Cummisky said. “They can give it to charity or something.”

Cummisky said there are great leaders, but the political system is making it hard for them. “We need leadership and real leaders to do the heavy lifting,” Cummisky said. “It’s not going to be easy. It’s only going to get harder.” Since its creation, “Reclamation of Independence” has only received good feedback, said Cummisky.

The “Reclamation of Independence” will run through Election Day.

Cummisky wants www.wethenation.com to become a forum that people can register their opinions on. “It will be a place where people can express that they aren’t happy and want change,” Cummisky said.

Cummisky said he hopes www.wethenation.com and the “Reclamation of Independence” gets the national attention to be noticed by those in charge. “If it’s successful, that will be great,” Cummisky said. “If it isn’t successful, it will be a bad thing, but at least I tried.”

Yes, Neale, you will have tried. That is more than can be said for most.

Citizen participation in its grandest form.

It is about time!

Sunday, September 17, 2006


Today, from the pages of “Where Have You Been for the Last Six Years,” we get this headline from the Washington Post:

Major Problems At Polls Feared
Some Officials Say Voting Law Changes And New Technology Will Cause Trouble

Here is what the WAPO has finally noticed:

An overhaul in how states and localities record votes and administer elections since the Florida recount battle six years ago has created conditions that could trigger a repeat -- this time on a national scale -- of last week's Election Day debacle in the Maryland suburbs, election experts said.

In the Nov. 7 election, more than 80 percent of voters will use electronic voting machines, and a third of all precincts this year are using the technology for the first time. The changes are part of a national wave, prompted by the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002 and numerous revisions of state laws, that led to the replacement of outdated voting machines with computer-based electronic machines, along with centralized databases of registered voters and other steps to refine the administration of elections.

But in Maryland last Tuesday, a combination of human blunders and technological glitches caused long lines and delays in vote-counting. The problems, which followed ones earlier this year in Ohio, Illinois and several other states, have contributed to doubts among some experts about whether the new systems are reliable and whether election officials are adequately prepared to use them.

In a polarized political climate, in which elections are routinely marked by litigation and allegations of incompetent administration or outright tampering, some worry that voting problems could cast a Florida-style shadow over this fall's midterm elections.

"We could see that control of Congress is going to be decided by races in recount situations that might not be determined for several weeks," said Paul S. DeGregorio, chairman of the federal Election Assistance Commission, although he added that he does not expect problems of this magnitude.

"It's hard to put a factor on how ill-prepared we are," said former Ohio governor Richard F. Celeste, a Democrat who recently co-chaired a study of new machines with Republican Richard L. Thornburgh, former governor of Pennsylvania, for the National Research Council. They advised local election officials to prepare backup plans for November.

"What we know is, these technologies require significant testing and debugging to make them work," added Celeste, now president of Colorado College. "Our concern -- particularly as we look to the November election, when there is a lot of pressure on -- is that election officials consider what kinds of fallbacks they can put in place."

The main focus is on whether people know how to properly use the machines, particularly the large army of volunteers who staff the polls at most precincts.

"We know the equipment works because it's been qualified to federal standards," said Kevin J. Kennedy, executive director of the Wisconsin State Elections Board and president of the National Association of State Election Directors. "The real challenge is to make sure our poll workers are trained and make sure voters have been educated so that we don't have an experience like Maryland had."

What is clear is that a national effort to improve election procedures six years ago -- after the presidential election ended with ambiguous ballots and allegations of miscounted votes and partisan favoritism in Florida -- has failed to restore broad public confidence that the system is fair.

To the contrary, litigation is on the rise. Rick Hasen, a law professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and the author of Election Law Blog, found that the number of election challenges filed in court had risen sharply from 2000 to 2004 -- from 197 per year to 361. "Parties have become more willing to go to court," Hasen said.

In 2004, some Democrats alleged widespread voting irregularities in Ohio, including questionable vote-counting and problems with machines in Democratic-leaning precincts. Nonpartisan election experts have said the problems were not so severe to call President Bush's victory, by about 119,000 votes, into question.

This year, there are debates over standards for keeping voter registration rolls up to date; for the handling of "provisional ballots" used by people who do not show up on those rolls but believe they are legally qualified to vote; and for assuring the validity of electronic vote counts through the use of paper trails for all electronic machines. State legislation requiring state or federal identification for all voters has been challenged in courts.

One reason many issues are coming to a head this year is that the Help America Vote Act set the start of 2006 as the deadline for states to comply fully with its regulations.

Help America Vote does not mandate electronic voting, but it has greatly accelerated that trend. The law banned lever machines and punch cards to end debates about ambiguous "hanging chads" of the sort that occurred in Florida in 2000. What is clear is that electronic machines have their own imponderables.

In Montgomery County, the breakdown came when election officials failed to provide precinct workers with the access cards needed to operate electronic voting machines. In Prince George's County, computers misidentified some voters' party affiliation and failed to transmit data to the central election office. At least nine other states have had trouble this year with new voting technology.

During Illinois's March primary, poll workers in Cook County (Chicago) experienced problems at hundreds of sites with new voting technology, delaying results in a crucial vote for the county's board.

In Ohio, results from the May primary election were delayed for nearly a week in Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) when thousands of absentee ballots were incorrectly formatted for electronic scanners and had to be counted by hand.

Twenty-seven states require electronic voting machines to produce a paper trail available for auditing during a recount, but an analysis of Cuyahoga County's paper trail by the nonpartisan Election Science Institute showed that a tenth of the receipts were uncountable.

So far, none of these problems has prompted lingering legal challenges. But experts say turnout in general elections is much higher than in primaries and will put new stresses on the election system.

Although Help America Vote imposed national standards, it did not impose a uniform system. There are different styles and brands of equipment in use, with the potential for different bugs. The main systems are optical-scan machines and touch-screen machines. The potential problems election officials cite include machines breaking down or paper ballots not being read by optical-scan machines.

Beyond technical bugs, questions remain about whether the machines are vulnerable to vote fraud by hackers.

For several years, prominent computer scientists have taken aim at the electronic voting machines, which in essence are computers. In analyses of the software that runs widely used models of the machines, and in tests on specific brands, the scientists have shown how they could manipulate the machine to report a vote total that differed from the actual total cast by voters.

Machine vendors and some election officials have said that, while changing vote totals may be possible for someone with sophisticated technical knowledge in a controlled experiment, it is highly unlikely in a real election, given the security and oversight.

In the wake of Help America Vote, Congress has appropriated more than $3 billion to states to upgrade equipment, and Vermont Secretary of State Deb Markowitz, the president of the National Association of Secretaries of State, said many states have met all of Help America Vote's requirements. Backers credit the law with making voting easier for the disabled and people for whom English is not a primary language. And they say that when machines and databases work properly, they make voting more accurate.

As Election Day nears, however, states remain embroiled in legal disputes growing out of Help America Vote's requirements for centralized voter databases and for some first-time voters to show identification at the polls. The Justice Department has sued New York state for failing to comply with Help America Vote requirements, such as upgrading machines and building a central voter database.

Democrats and Republicans remain at odds over voter registration rolls. The Brennan Center for Justice, a liberal advocacy group, recently showed that properly registered voters in Florida, New Jersey and Kentucky were being removed from voter databases through electronic purges.

"Voter suppression doesn't happen with intimidation on Election Day, but rather through silent and sometimes secret government actions in the weeks leading up to an election," said Michael Waldman, the center's executive director.

Republicans have pressed for laws requiring voters to show a state or federal identification card -- a requirement Democrats say could disenfranchise low-income and minority voters.

A handful of states have passed expansive laws requiring voters to show state or federal ID at the polls. On Thursday, a circuit court judge in Missouri struck down as unconstitutional that state's ID requirement. That ruling followed a similar decision by a court in Georgia. A court in Indiana, however, upheld the requirement.

Further clouding the election process is the fact that, in many states, the administration of elections remains in political hands -- run by secretaries of state or other officials who run for office with partisan affiliations and who often have designs on higher office.

Robert Pastor, director of a commission on election reform organized by American University and headed by former president Jimmy Carter and former secretary of state James A. Baker III, said this tradition should be abandoned.

"The Carter-Baker commission identified 87 steps that need to be undertaken," he said. "Regrettably, almost none of them are being done right now. I would start by establishing statewide, nonpartisan election administration."

So, I guess that makes it official: the U.S. has problems with its voting system!

Okay, so just call me overly sensitive and a real cynic here, but haven’t we all been talking about this, what with Florida and Ohio, for the last six years and haven’t there been plenty of articles about Diebold, and voter suppression, etc., not to mention historical fact to suggest that this was a continuing and inevitable scar on democracy?

What happened in Montgomery County was not unexpected. The officials were warned in 2005, but they apparently chose to ignore the warnings.

If Microsoft has been unable to have a product that is “Hack” free, and has been “perfecting” its software since 1984 and has to update it constantly with security patches, why would anyone have any confidence in a new “paperless,” or otherwise, computer voting system? And it isn’t as if we don’t already know that these computer voting systems can be hacked.

It isn’t as if Diebold didn’t make it clear where its ballot was going.

How long will all of the warnings go unheeded? And don’t these folks read their own paper?

9/11: Press For Truth

In the wake of the faux story of 9/11 brought to us by ABC and the Mouse, or Rat as the case may be, here is the movie which chronicles the struggle of the families who tried to get to the truth about that tragic day and what led up to it.

Just Watch it.

Thank you MediaChannel.org. This is indeed a public service.

Let’s hope the American Public can “Connect the Dots.”

Sadly True, We are Debating Torture!

As usual Bob Herbert has identified what I believe is a crisis in the United States: our character. Now, has our character changed or did the tragedy of September 11th merely expose it to the world in great relief?

I wonder if this War President’s fear mongering has tapped into what was always right below the surface of what appears to be a psychotic national response to the Global War on Terra? Did so many of my fellow citizens really always support torture and the Star Chamber?

I am by nature, I guess it’s nature, an optimist. So, in the last six years I have been endlessly disappointed by my fellow citizens' reactions to how this GWOT should be prosecuted. And even if indeed there is a GWOT, and not merely a PR stunt for an enormous power grab by this executive.

This psychotic moment in our Country reminds me of another psychotic moment: the Civil Rights Movement and the reaction of many citizens’ to the threat against segregation. Those of us who opposed segregation and supported Civil Rights where accused of, among other things, being communists. And that was the least offensive of the accusations. We were accused of being Traitors. Now doesn’t that sound familiar?

Bob Herbert suggests that we take a look in the mirror. I suggest that most who should won’t, and they should be ashamed.

So, from behind the wall:

September 14, 2006

The Stranger in the Mirror


We had elections in New York and around the country on Tuesday. But it seems to me that the biggest issue of our time is getting very short shrift from the politicians, and that’s the fact that the very character of the United States is changing, and not for the better.

One of the things that stands out in my mind amid the memories of the carnage and chaos of Sept. 11, 2001, is the eerie quiet — an almost prayerful quiet — that hovered over a scene on the western edge of Manhattan that afternoon.

I stood for a long time outside the triage center that had been set up at the Chelsea Piers sports and entertainment complex. Sunlight glistened off the roofs of ambulances lined up in military fashion on the West Side Highway. Doctors, nurses and other medical personnel were standing by, waiting for what they thought would be the arrival of legions of seriously wounded victims in need of emergency care.

There seemed to be very little talking. As I recall, most of the people maintained a kind of stunned, awed silence.

The expected onslaught of victims never came. As the afternoon faded, I headed east, along with others, toward the morgue at Bellevue Hospital.

What I thought was the greatest expression of the American character in my lifetime occurred in the immediate aftermath of those catastrophic attacks. The country came together in the kind of resolute unity that I imagined was similar to the feeling most Americans felt after Pearl Harbor. We soon knew who the enemy was, and there was remarkable agreement on what needed to be done. Americans were united and the world was with us.

For a brief moment.

The invasion of Iraq marked the beginning of the change in the American character. During the Cuban missile crisis, when the hawks were hot for bombing — or an invasion — Robert Kennedy counseled against a U.S. first strike. That’s not something the U.S. would do, he said.

Fast-forward 40 years or so and not only does the U.S. launch an unprovoked invasion and occupation of a small nation — Iraq — but it does so in response to an attack inside the U.S. that the small nation had nothing to do with.

Who are we?

Another example: There was a time, I thought, when there was general agreement among Americans that torture was beyond the pale. But when people are frightened enough, nothing is beyond the pale. And we’re in an era in which the highest leaders in the land stoke — rather than attempt to allay — the fears of ordinary citizens. Islamic terrorists are equated with Nazi Germany. We’re told that we’re in a clash of civilizations.

If, as President Bush says, we’re engaged in “the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century,” why isn’t the entire nation mobilizing to meet this dire threat?

The president put us on this path away from the better angels of our nature, and he has shown no inclination to turn back. Lately he has touted legislation to try terror suspects in a way that would make a mockery of the American ideals of justice and fairness. To get a sense of just how far out the administration’s approach has been, consider the comments of Brig. Gen. James Walker, the top uniformed lawyer for the Marines. Speaking at a Congressional hearing last week, he said no civilized country denies defendants the right to see the evidence against them. The United States, he said, “should not be the first.”

And Senator Lindsey Graham, a conservative South Carolina Republican who is a former military judge, said, “It would be unacceptable, legally, in my opinion, to give someone the death penalty in a trial where they never heard the evidence against them.”

How weird is it that this possibility could even be considered?

The character of the U.S. has changed. We’re in danger of being completely ruled by fear. Most Americans have not shared the burden of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Very few Americans are aware, as the Center for Constitutional Rights tells us, that of the hundreds of men held by the U.S. in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, many “have never been charged and will never be charged because there is no evidence justifying their detention.”

Even fewer care.

We could benefit from looking in a mirror, and absorbing the shock of not recognizing what we’ve become.

And from the Talkingpointsmemo the following:

The torture debate in Congress--I never expected to write such words--is as surreal to me as watching the collapse of the Twin Towers. If the Democrats are able to take control of at least one chamber in November, then surely the President's pro-torture bill will be viewed in hindsight as the nadir of the Bush presidency. If not, how much lower can things go?

I am beyond being able to assess the political implications, one way or the other, of this spectacle. Regardless of which version of the bill finally passes, this debate is a black mark on the soul of the nation. Of course passage of a pro-torture bill will diminish U.S. standing internationally and jeopardize the safety and well-being of U.S. servicemen in future engagements. But merely having this debate has already accomplished that. Does anyone honestly believe that if Congress rebuffs the President in every respect that the rule of law and the inviolability of human rights will have been vindicated? Of course not.

The Republicans have defined deviancy down for the whole world, including every two-bit dictator and wild-eyed terrorist.

In Slate, Dahlia Lithwick writes of the pro-torture presidency:

[L]egal obfuscation is enormously attractive to President Bush. It means all but the most highly credentialed law professors and government lawyers are constantly confused; it means subsequent legal claims that interrogators "did not know that the practices were unlawful" have real credibility. And perhaps, most importantly to this White House, it obscures where things have gone awry up and down the chain of command. One possibility, then, is that all these eleventh-hour redefinitions of torture are presidential attempts to "afford brutality the cloak of law," in the words of Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter. But increasingly, it seems clear that its real purpose is simply to brutalize the law.

And to brutalize people.

Only the weak, scared, and evil torture. Those who order and sanction torture, but leave the dirty work to others, are an order of magnitude more culpable morally. (A special place is reserved for the lawyers who give legal cover for such orders.) In their fear and their weakness and their smallness, the President and those around him stepped over the line. To do so in the heated days after 9/11 is understandable to a point, though not justifiable. Yet they persisted, first in saying that they did not step over the line and now in seeking to redraw the line. So which is it?

They are descending from the morally reprehensible to the morally cowardly.

I would suggest that this administration and all who support torture and the Star Chamber should read The Wretched of the Earth, by Franz Fanon and a lot of Robert Jay Lifton.

If the United States descends into the hell that is torture and the Star Chamber then the “Terrorists” will have won and made us them.

How ironic is that?

Molly Remembers Ann!

I have been waiting to hear Molly’s thoughts on Ann Richards passing and they do not disappoint.

One Great Texan’s thoughts on another Great Texan:

Remembering Ann Richards

Molly Ivins - Creators Syndicate

09.15.06 - AUSTIN, Texas -- She was so generous with her responses to other people. If you told Ann Richards something really funny, she wouldn't just smile or laugh, she would stop and break up completely. She taught us all so much -- she was a great campfire cook. Her wit was a constant delight. One night on the river on a canoe trip, while we all listened to the next rapid, which sounded like certain death, Ann drawled, "It sounds like every whore in El Paso just flushed her john."

She knew how to deal with teenage egos: Instead of pointing out to a kid who was pouring charcoal lighter on a live fire that he was idiot, Ann said, "Honey, if you keep doing that, the fire is going to climb right back up to that can in your hand and explode and give you horrible injuries, and it will just ruin my entire weekend."

She knew what it was like to have four young children and to be so tired you cried while folding the laundry. She knew and valued Wise Women like Virginia Whitten and Helen Hadley.

At a long-ago political do at Scholz Garten in Austin, everybody who was anybody was there meetin' and greetin' at a furious pace. A group of us got the tired feet and went to lean our butts against a table at the back wall of the bar. Perched like birds in a row were Bob Bullock, then state comptroller, moi, Charles Miles, the head of Bullock's personnel department, and Ms. Ann Richards. Bullock, 20 years in Texas politics, knew every sorry, no good sumbitch in the entire state. Some old racist judge from East Texas came up to him, "Bob, my boy, how are you?"

Bullock said, "Judge, I'd like you to meet my friends: This is Molly Ivins with the Texas Observer."

The judge peered up at me and said, "How yew, little lady?"

Bullock, "And this is Charles Miles, the head of my personnel department." Miles, who is black, stuck out his hand, and the judge got an expression on his face as though he had just stepped into a fresh cowpie. He reached out and touched Charlie's palm with one finger, while turning eagerly to the pretty, blonde, blue-eyed Ann Richards. "And who is this lovely lady?"

Ann beamed and replied, "I am Mrs. Miles."

One of the most moving memories I have of Ann is her sitting in a circle with a group of prisoners. Ann and Bullock had started a rehab program in prisons, the single most effective thing that can be done to cut recidivism (George W. Bush later destroyed the program). The governor of Texas looked at the cons and said, "My name is Ann, and I am an alcoholic."

She devoted untold hours to helping other alcoholics, and anyone who ever heard her speak at an AA convention knows how close laughter and tears can be.

I have known two politicians who completely reformed the bureaucracies they were elected to head. Bob Bullock did it by kicking ass at the comptroller's until hell wouldn't have it. Fear was his m.o. Ann Richards did it by working hard to gain the trust of the employees and then listening to what they told her. No one knows what's wrong with a bureaucracy better than the bureaucrats who work in it.

The 1990 race for governor was one of the craziest I ever saw, with Ann representing "New Texas."

Republican nominee Claytie Williams was a perfect foil, down to his boots, making comments that could be construed as racist and sexist. Ann was the candidate of everybody else, especially for women. She represented all of us who have lived with and learned to handle good ol' boys, and she did it with laughter. The spirit of the crowd that set off from the Congress Avenue Bridge up to the Capitol the day of Ann's inauguration was so full of spirit and joy. I remember watching San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros that day with tears running down his cheeks because Chicanos were finally included.

Ann got handed a stinking mess: Damn near every state function was under court order. The prisons were so crowded, dangerous convicts were being let loose. She had a long, grinding four years and wound up fixing all of it. She always said you could get a lot done in politics if you didn't need to take credit.

But she disappointed many of her fans because she was so busy fixing what was broken, she never got to change much. The '94 election was a God, gays and guns deal. Annie had told the legislature that if they passed a right-to-carry law, she would veto it. They did, and she did. At the last minute, the NRA launched a big campaign to convince the governor that we Texas women would feel ever so much safer if we could just carry guns in our purses.

Said Annie, "Well, you know that I am not a sexist, but there is not a woman in this state who could find a gun in her handbag."

I will miss Ann Richards’ wisdom, wit, energy, and laugh.

Thank you Molly for making me laugh at this very sad time.

I love them both.

Reverend Billy!

To commemorate the fifth anniversary of 9/11 my friend Janis and I went to see the Reverend Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping. It was wonderful. I have been a fan for a long time, but he rarely has programs preaching the Theology of Slowing Down Consumption through Divinity at a time during the week that allows me to partake.

His message was of “Forgiveness.” It is one that is hard to swallow. But, I am willing to drink his message. It is opposite to this administration's “good” vs. “evil” message. He also makes it clear that “evil” comes from somewhere and it behooves us to find out the basis for that “evil.”

I am reminded of the supposed “liberal” reasons for crime. Now I know a few criminals and quite frequently when you look back, as the Rev. tells us to do, you see an almost inevitable slide to criminal behavior. I am always astounded when I look back on some folk’s backgrounds that they are not criminals.

Now this maybe an unpopular point of view, but I do believe that “evil” comes from somewhere. And I don’t believe you can just lock it up or bomb the hell out of it.

I believe you must eradicate “evil” at its roots and reasons.

So, as the Reverend says, “forgiveness is a start.”

What would Jesus do?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Ann Richards


1933 - 2006

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Madwoman of Chaillot!

There are probably those on the Upper West Side of Manhattan who think that I am the incarnation of the Katharine Hepburn character. But this weekend many of my neighbors and those who shop here were subjected to my outrage.

In every store or shop that I entered this weekend I made the plea that those who were in attendance not watch ABC/Disney this weekend and why. I met only one person who had even a clue as to what I was talking about.

Well, maybe it made somebody think, but the blank faces of those who consume on the Upper Westside was disheartening.

How is it that folks don’t know what is going on with the Disney Path to 9/11?

Perhaps Katherine Hepburn should have been doing the announcement instead of me. Oh, okay, she is dead! That would have gotten those consumers’ attention though!

And CNN would have been all over it as it was about a white woman.

The Path to 9/11: My 2 Cents, or less, Worth!

So, if ABC and the Mouse really wanted to blame someone for 9/11 other than our Dear Leader with their $30 million dollar campaign contribution to the Republican National Committee why not go back all the way.

Well, I guess I can understand their trepidation as it takes you to Ronald Reagan in 1985 when he armed and outfitted Osama in the jihad against the Soviet Union.

Oh okay, I guess that would make the mouse that is roaring at the Clintonistas, not to mention their cohorts, a tad uncomfortable.

So, because it isn’t just the left and center of the political spectrum that is upset about this Political Ad offered up by ABC and Disney, on the free airwaves I might ad, I think that Tristero over at Digby’s Hullabaloo has the right reaction:

Even The Cons Hate It

by tristero

You know you've got a Condition Red public relations debacle on your hands when everyone from Bill Clinton to John Podhoretz agrees you suck. What Christy sez.

I assume someone will collect and publish the list of commercials for show 2 - show 1 being broadcast without ads. I for one will take that list very seriously. Any sponsor whose products I can avoid, I will, and those that can't will hear from me.

As for ABC, you couldn't pay me to watch their shows. And there are plenty of really exciting places to take my kid for vacation, none of which have anything to do with copyright-protected rats... sorry, I meant mice.

Exactly! And I personally find it to be counterproductive and stupid to disagree with Christy!

Disclosure: I haven’t watched ABC/Disney since they pulled the plug on TimeWarner several years ago in the cableland dispute, so no great loss for me. As if ABC/Disney would be a great loss for anyone! And why was it that they refused to distribute Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11? Oh, that’s right it was too political during an election year

Campaign contribution to DNC: not so good. Campaign contribution to RNC: good.

I smell a few law suits, but that could be just rat and mouse droppings.