Tuesday, December 07, 2004

The Sideshow is down?

Well, I just stopped being able to find it. And I don't know why, yet, either.

Update: It's back now. I don't know what happened, but at least it didn't last long.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Eyeball news

Okay, I haven't set up a re-direct for The Sideshow yet, but I will as soon as I've properly wrapped my mind around the idea. The whole site is mostly duplicated at its new home now but archives aren't deleted, so your old permalinks to individual posts will still be good.

So do me a favor and change your blogroll links and your favorites ASAP to:

http://sideshow.me.uk

And then you can watch some movies:

Fiore: The Depressed Democrat's Guide to Recovery (Via An Age Like This)

Video: George W. Bush: MISTAKEN

Propagate this link!

I'm now http://sideshow.me.uk. (The www. prefix will work too, but why bother?)

Fact vs. Fantasy in the election

We have two strains of thought: One is that every single indicator of who would win and was winning the presidential election was wrong because of a stealth campaign by Bush that was largely invisible and occurred almost entirely below the radar, to the extent that nothing was indicating a Bush win (except for some cooked polls that have been picked apart to the point of destruction). The other is that the vote itself was cooked.

The first strain is clearly conspiracy theory: that the Republicans somehow, deliberately, managed to hide their campaign and their support completely from experienced watchers who were looking for them, yet somehow their supporters showed up to overwhelm Kerry supporters at the last minute, and nobody saw them.

The facts clearly support the second strain of thought - that the vote was cooked - but the media has chosen to believe that despite any evidence on the ground, a lot of mysterious Bush voters happened to be there when no one was looking. And lied to the exit polls. And did this only in places that were using electronic voting machines owned by a highly-partisan Bush-supporter who had publicly vowed to do whatever he could to bring home the election for Bush.

To believe the "Bush won" conspiracy theory, you have to believe that not only Zogby was wrong, but that both Democrats and Republicans completely altered their behavior and switched their voting patterns, and that Republicans did this in such a way that nobody noticed it even while it was happening.

Democrats vote late in the day. It's always been true, and everyone knows it. When exit polls early in the day say the Democrat is winning by a wide margin, you can take it to the bank that it's not going to get any better for the Republican as people start coming home from work. And that's exactly how it looked on the ground on election day - there was no late surge of Republicans to outnumber the Democrats. And yet, at the last minute, somehow, the polls suddenly started showing Bush coming even and then breaking ahead at a time when there was no sign of these Bush voters suddenly showing up at the polls. How did that happen?

Some folks at Berkeley have done a statistical analysis for us, with all sorts of charts and tables and graphs with color lines and everything, The Effect of Electronic Voting Machines on Change in
Support for Bush in the 2004 Florida Elections
. That's a .pdf (via Bartcop), but here's the finding for those who don't want to be bothered:

Electronic voting raised President Bush's advantage from the tiny edge he held in 2000 to a clearer margin of victory in 2004. The impact of e-voting was not uniform, however. Its impact was proportional to the Democratic support in the county, i.e., it was especially large in Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade. The evidence for this is the statistical significance of terms in our model that gauge the average impact of e-voting across Florida's 67 counties and statistical interaction effects that gauge its larger-than-average effect in counties where Vice President Gore did the best in 2000 and slightly negative effect in the counties where Mr. Bush did the best in 2000. The state-wide impact of these disparities due to electronic voting amount to 130,000 votes if we assume a "ghost vote" mechanism and twice that - 260,000 votes - if we assume that a vote misattributed to one candidate should have been counted for the other.
Well, now, that's mighty suspicious, isn't it? The suggestion of the machines flipping Kerry votes for Bush is about as subtle as a brick, here, folks.

Need more? How about Was it hacked? in The Orlando Weekly:

How do we know the fix was in? Keefer says the total number of respondents at 9 p.m. was well over 13,000 and at 1:36 a.m. it had risen less than 3 percent - to 13,531 total respondents. Given the small increase in respondents, this 5 percent swing to Bush is mathematically impossible. In Florida, at 8:40 p.m., exit polls showed a near dead heat but the final exit poll update at 1:01 a.m. gave Bush a 4 percent lead. This swing was mathematically impossible, because there were only 16 more respondents in the final tally than in the earlier one.
No, really, you think it was a fair election? Just how big a brick do you need to get hit in the head with?

The New York Times needs a brick the size of Ohio, apparently, and even that may not work. You have to work to ferret out the facts in Matt Bai's Who Lost Ohio? because Bai apparently believes it's good enough to say that, well, since Kerry lost, the Republicans must have done a better job than anyone noticed at the time. But here we have people actually going out and looking at the supposedly conservative boondocks counties that made an 11th-hour swing for Bush, right at the moment they are supposedly making the swing, and there's no one there - except a few straggling Kerry voters. It's not just that no one saw the Bush campaign, but there weren't many signs of Bush voters at the polls at the time when this surge of same was supposed to be suddenly swamping what had until then been a commanding Kerry lead.

No, I'm sorry. All of the facts say that people voted for Kerry. Only the machines disagree. The only real question at this point is why Keith Olbermann seems to be the only person in Big Media who thinks that theories about the magical/invisible Bush surge aren't good enough to counteract the facts.

Around the web



More from Oliver Willis' Brand Democrat project

Kevin Drum has a short round-up of some of our favorite examples of moral values by the returned Republican-controlled Congress. Buying Sailor George a yacht was a particularly popular choice. (Atrios liked that one, too.) Not that we think he can pilot a boat any better than he can ride a horse....

At Salon, Joe Conason says a document has been declassified that proves Richard Clarke was telling the truth and Bill Frist was slandering him.

Democrats.com blog is keeping track of the stolen election stories.

Summer Cosmetic Must-Haves!

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Election stories

Then: Election Worker Refuses to Lie for Voting Software Company:

Marion County Clerk Doris Anne Sadler revealed Tuesday that the company installed illegal software before last November's election.
1st Tuesday: First hand reports by other Ohio volunteers:
5. There were numerous reports of voters trying to select Kerry and Bush was selected on the screen instead. The voters would try repeatedly to get Kerry to come up. Voters were only allowed three "pushes." They were told they could request a different machine, but of course by the time they were on the phone with the Election Protection project workers, it must have been too late.

6. There were also reports of voters getting to the review screen and seeing "No Selection." For president. This was often at the same polling places where machines were breaking down. Voters could not get their vote for Kerry for president to register.

9. Another GOP challenger asked a voter for a Green Card in order to get a provisional ballot. The voter called in to find out what a Green Card is. Of course, this was a trick. Voters must be citizens.

10. Machines at some polls had to be re-set after every voter. This took so long that people started to leave. This Election Protection project lawyer and her colleagues sent food out to the voters. They sent food out to voters at different precincts at least three times during the day to encourage them to stay in line.

Now: David Rees says Chin Up. (via)
Enlightenment strikes again
So....What Happened To The Truth? : The Crushed Optimism of a Young Republican

I am, and have always been, a registered Republican. I grew up in a Republican family in a Republican area, and went to church every Sunday with other southern white Republicans. I went to a private Lutheran College in NC. Growing up, we had Boy Scouts, and bake sales, and school plays with lots of other white Republican families. We didn't hang around white kids because we were racist, that's just all there were.
[...]
You know, there really is more to the Bible than "striking down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who seek to destroy and poison my brothers."(Ezekiel 25:17) I read that part, too, and it even showed up in a movie! But let us remember that in that verse, God is the one doing the striking, not a man. Look, George W. Bush is not the Holy Sheriff. George Bush is Barney Fife, and I wish he would put his bullet back in his shirt pocket and go back to his fake-ass Dude Ranch in Crawford. Religion is important to people all over the world, but we should all know by now that it makes very poor public policy. Religion and Government DO NOT MIX! Church-Run Day Care Programs are great, but never forget that 9/11 was a Faith-Based Initiative, too.
[...]
What has brought this to a head for me is our last election, which, despite the dismissals by Diebold and others, really does look like it was stolen. "But your side won!" I hear you say. Yes, we won, but there is no honor in winning this way. I'm pretty sure I could whip anybody in chess if my friends snuck in and took my opponent's queen and bishops away, but even though I had the trophy and cash prize, I don't think I'd feel very good about it. You're not a bad-ass street fighter if your friend kicks the wheelchair out from under the Vietnam Vet you're fighting so you can kick him in the teeth while he's down.

This is no wild "conspiracy theory", by the way. I've done a great deal of research - it's on my site and many others. It really does look like the 2004 election was stolen. By us.

I saw this four years ago, after the selection - a number of Republicans and libertarians I know were saying they were never going to vote Republican again after what happened in Florida and Bush v Gore. They've been dribbling away ever since, after the appointment of Ashcroft, or finding out that Bush ignored the warnings before 9/11, or the Patriot Act and the war and so on. So, welcome to a new cycle.
Hey, it worked for Bush....

Blunkett plans tough new anti-terror laws

LONDON (Reuters) - The government is considering new tough anti-terrorism laws to prevent an al Qaeda attack including plans to target suspects even if they have not committed an offence, Home Secretary David Blunkett will say today.

The proposals would see the creation of special anti-terror courts which would sit without juries, allowing information obtained from phone taps to be used as evidence in trials, and civil orders against people suspected of planning terrorism.

Those breaching such orders could face jail even if they have not committed a crime.

There's not actually anything to stop them passing it if they want to, but it has nothing to do with anyone being afraid of terrorism. It's probably just that their afraid to vote for the Lib Dems like they ought to.
Make 'em pay
2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice-President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State. -- Amendment 14, Clause 2, United States Constitution
Someone should work out how many Congressbeings should lose their seats in Washington.
Cooking the vote

Flan points to another "insightful analysis from Glenn Reynolds," which reads, in its entirety, as follows:

Indeed.
The link is to a silly item in the Daily Telegraph last week gloating about how Michael Moore didn't deliver the election for Kerry after all and snorting that it took him three days to make any public remarks about it. But this bit caught my eye:
In 2000, Mr Moore's support for Ralph Nader helped lose Florida for Al Gore. This time, he boosted President Bush by outraging Middle America. Take a bow, Mike: you've done it again.
For the first time, I was called to ask myself: Do we actually know that Nader made any difference? I just keep remembering all these sudden reversals in the count and I can't help thinking that if there had been no Ralph Nader in the race, those votes would simply have been shifted to someone else at the 11th hour - and not by the voters. We've already seen a voting machine glitch case in this year's election where votes for Dems were "accidentally" registered for the Libertarian candidates. We have no assurance that this hasn't happened in numerous other races.

Speaking of which, OpEdNews is keeping a page of links on the voting problems in the 2004 race. So, of course, is WhatReallyHappened.

Important stuff

One of the things I've neglected over the last few days that Josh Marshall started was the idea of calling your Republican reps and demanding to know whether they voted for the DeLay rule or whether they were part of the "handful" of Republican Congressional members who actually refused to support it. A tiny number of people have had some good news, but a lot of Republicans just aren't answering.

In another story, Josh has details on the insertion of an interesting clause into the omnibus spending bill by an Oklahoma Republican. It would exempt designated individuals from criminal penalties if they spy on your tax records on behalf of politicians.

The provision was slipped into the bill at the last moment. And, at least on the Democratic side, no one was told about it until some Dems caught it at the last moment.

Senate Republicans quickly backtracked, calling the provision a mistake or snafu and insisting they knew nothing about it. You can see some of the back-and-forth that took place on the Senate floor in this AP piece at CNN.

Josh wants to know where the idea for it came from and whether anyone will pretend to discipline Rep. Istook.

AmericaBlog has a good reason to write a letter to Michael Getler, the ombudsman at The Washington Post: The Washington Post yesterday published a magazine ad supplement, bought by religious right groups, that is one of the most bigoted homophobic things I have ever read. I am astonished the Post would print this filth.

But you knew that, right?


From Political Animals, via Bartcop

Saturday, November 20, 2004

War stories

Iraqi Physician Confirms US Chem Weapons Use In Fallujah: Anger that is seething throughout Iraq and the world over the assault on Fallujah turned to rage yesterday as an Iraqi physician came forward to confirm reports of the use of banned chemical weapons in Fallujah. Speaking on the condition of anonymity to the Panorama radio station, the physician said he had just examined two dead bodies and confirmed that the victims died of banned chemical weapons. The physician found no evidence of bullet wounds, shrapnel, or any objects penetrating the bodies.

CAPITOL HILL The videotaped shooting of a Fallujah combatant by a U-S Marine has evoked strong emotions in the Arab world and on Capitol Hill. The remedy? Fallujah Video has congressman calling for reporter ban

Can the media be educated?

Is it possible that the Newspaper of Record has actually learned from a mistake? Dig this - they've got an editorial about the Iran rumblings called Groundhog Day: Stop us if you've heard this one before. The Bush administration creates a false sense of urgency about a nuclear menace from a Middle Eastern country. Hard-liners talk about that country's connections to terrorists. They portray European diplomatic efforts to defuse tensions as a feckless attempt to appease a rogue nation whose word can never be trusted anyway. Secretary of State Colin Powell makes ominous-sounding warnings about new intelligence, which turns out to be dubious.

More on the Ohio vote

Lawyers to challenge election in Ohio:

Columbus- A trio of activist lawyers armed with mysteriously wrong exit polls and hundreds of voter horror stories announced plans Friday to contest Ohio's presidential election as soon as the vote is official.

Their challenge could lead to widespread reconsideration of dozens of alleged election irregularities around the state - from reported computerized voting glitches to provisional-ballot mishaps to unusual incidents involving voter rolls, poll workers and machine technicians.

Of course, no one knows when, exactly, any of this will be completed.
The Church of Reality

Those of you who aren't familiar with Marc Perkel ought to know that he's One of the Good Guys and works hard to keep lefties on the web. Aside from being a helpful web provider, he has a sense of humor and is into the reality-based community in a big way. So visit The Church of Reality, and check out some wonderful Ozark scenery photos while you're there.

The knives are out

First there is John Podhoretz in The New York Post on GOP Arrogance:

WHAT is the great Demo cratic hope over the next four years? The answer isn't Hillary.
Nor is it the magical unknown figure Democrats have been fantasizing about - a Blue State liberal in Red State clothing who sounds like Barney Fife, prays like Billy Graham, sweet-talks like Bill Clinton and lives like George W. Bush. The hope is that this heroic avatar would be able to "communicate" the Democratic message more clearly to the American heartland - just as long as he and his consultants can figure out just what that message is aside from gay marriage, abortion rights and affirmative action.

There is no great Democratic hope in the Democratic Party.

No, the Democrats' great hope is Republican arrogance.

We've just gotten an unfortunate taste of that arrogance in the astonishing decision of the House Republican caucus to change a key rule for the purpose of protecting a single powerful GOP House leader.
[...]
Why the change? Because the No. 2 House Republican, Tom DeLay, is in danger of being indicted back in his home state of Texas.

And then there is David Brooks in The New York Times with A Scandal Waiting to Happen:
Tom DeLay is bleeding and he doesn't even know it.

This week, House Republicans bent their accountability rules to protect their majority leader from what they feel is a partisan Texas prosecutor. But they hated the whole exercise. They sat in a conference room hour after hour wringing their hands. Only a few members were brave enough to stand up and say they shouldn't bend the rule. But afterward, many House Republicans came up to those members and said that secretly they agreed with them.

So, the stage is being set to cut The Hammer loose, it seems. The meme has been unleashed, the talking-points passed out among the shills and hacks: The House Republicans have been given permission to stop playing ball with Tom DeLay.
Hot news at Talk Left

In Congress: Negotiators Add Abortion Clause to Spending Bill. This is being advertised as protecting the conscience of doctors who don't want to provide abortions, but federal law already does this, so it's another stealth bill. This thing allows insurers and other institutions to claim a "conscience" that we all know they don't have. Having already allowed anti-abortion terrorists to frighten many doctors out of providing abortion, the march to forced pregnancy is taking the next step. Barbara Boxer is on the case:
"I am willing to stand on my feet and slow this thing down," Ms. Boxer said. "Everyone wants to go home, I know that, and I know I will not win a popularity contest in the Senate. But they should not be doing this. On a huge spending bill they're writing law, and they're taking away rights from women."
In the media: Clinton Rips Starr, Media on Prosecution:
In a prime-time television outburst, Bill Clinton ripped old nemesis Kenneth Starr and what the former president portrayed as a gullible media eager to report every "sleazy thing" leaked from a prosecutor bent on bringing him down.
President Bill lets Peter Jennings have it over the lousy job they did at holding Starr and the Republicans to account. The article has some satisfying quotes.

In the White House: Pardon Me:
Case statistics released last month by the Office of the Pardon Attorney in the Justice Department show that, since assuming office, Bush has granted a total of 25 pardons while he has denied 839 applications. His pardon grant rate is thus about 3% of all requests acted upon. (He has also denied 3,446 commutation requests, and that grant rate has too many zeroes to be meaningful.) By contrast, most Presidents in the past 100 years have granted between 20% and 30% of the pardon applications they considered.
Of course, his father didn't pardon a lot of people, either, having apparently saved most of his compassion for his personal friends and co-conspirators. If he'd had more friends, his own record would have been higher. If we ever get the little prince out of the White House, look for him to suddenly up his percentage when he absolves his entire cabinet of any accountability.

(Jeralyn, you really must come visit me in London.)
That old soft shoe

No More Mister Nice Blog applauds a couple of Democrats for being willing to condemn an alleged liberal radio talk-show host (no one I've ever heard of, but we don't get a lot of that around here) for calling Condi Rice Aunt Jemima. He also called Colin Powell an Uncle Tom.

That's poor form, for a number of reasons, but I'm not impressed with Senator Feingold and Mayor Cieslewicz for going after the guy. That's Democrats for ya - won't catch them letting some bigmouth insert himself into the public discourse where he might pollute the otherwise pristine landscape that Limbaugh, Savage, Coulter et al. have given us.

At least the guy apologized:
"It is with a heavy heart that I apologize this morning to Aunt Jemima," John "Sly" Sylvester said on WTDY-AM in Madison. "She wasn't a self-serving hack politician who got up in front of Congress and lied. Aunt Jemima didn't kowtow to Don Rumsfeld or Dick Cheney."
[...]
He said Aunt Jemima was really a "strong, independent black woman" named Nancy Green. Born a slave in Kentucky, Green was hired in the 1890s to advertise the pancake mix.

"Aunt Jemima never lied about yellow cake uranium, she just makes a damn good pancake," Sylvester said.
And no doubt the advertisers figured she was a symbol of that nice lady who worked for your mom and was "just like part of the family."

I'm not quite sure what Condi and Colin are. As someone who came out of the house in DC, I have to admit I was mighty uncomfortable watching Powell say all those things he knew were lies and didn't agree with. But I bet an awful lot of people back on my home turf had trouble not thinking of those two as tokens. They may still feel that way about Powell. I have the impression they think considerably less of Condi.
Sex and the rest

AMERICAblog is closely following the important story of Senator Brownback's campaign against masturbation.

Economist of the Day: Angry Bear on Alan Greenspan's recent announcement that things are bad for the dollar but don't worry, be happy, because the US economy is magic. (Via the Blogwire at LiberalOasis, which you want to read anyway for Bill's take on Dubya's Odd Trial Balloon, among other things.)

Kevin Drum has a trick question: Which of these famous institutions has the most data? A. Wal-Mart B. The entire internet The answer can be found in this article in the NYT.

The Higher Pie has a nice David Horsey cartoon.
The Values Thing

In Stand up For Moral Value of Economic Justice, Michael Zweig asks:
But this easy amazement obscures a deeper problem: If the Democratic Party platform and candidate for president embodied moral values more faithfully than the Republicans, why didn't a large percentage of people voting Democratic cite moral values as their highest concern?
Just for the record, I did, on the last Zogby poll that was done immediately after the election. Of course it's about moral values. Bush violated all of 'em.

Friday, November 19, 2004

A few good links

David Podvin says the south has risen again.

Alterman has a good post up exploring the question of objectivity in the press.

Check out this series on "Values" Oliver Willis posted. Then wear them on t-shirts and make them into fliers to stick under the windshield wipers at the mall parking lot.

Don't you hate those things? Finally, someone figured out what to with one. (Via PNH.)

I like the image at the top of this page.

Ego scans

Thanks to Jack K. at RuminateThis, Jeralyn at TalkLeft, and Mary at The Left Coaster for your concern over The Sideshow blinking out yesterday. Thanks also to the people who wrote to express similar concern, especially those that offered to hit the tip jar. I'm still not sure what's going to happen yet, but it will probably cost money, so if you really want to make a donation to the project - bearing in mind that my PayPal account is a free one and doesn't accept credit card payments (the finks), here's the button:

In other ego news, I was fooling around with Google Scholar, which I saw linked at Electrolite, and found my name in this paper which is, "an exploration of the growing taste for amateur or "reality" pornography, situating it within the larger context of the rise of reality genres more generally." So there you are.
How much more do you need?

'Stinking Evidence' of Possible Election Fraud Found in Florida by Thom Hartmann:
Bev Harris of www.blackboxvoting.org, the erstwhile investigator of electronic voting machines, along with people from Florida Fair Elections, showed up at Florida's Volusia County Elections Office on the afternoon of Tuesday, November 16, 2004, and asked to see, under a public records request, each of the poll tapes for the 100+ optical scanners in the precincts in that county. The elections workers - having been notified in advance of her request - handed her a set of printouts, oddly dated November 15 and lacking signatures.

Bev pointed out that the printouts given her were not the original poll tapes and had no signatures, and thus were not what she'd requested. Obligingly, they told her that the originals were held in another location, the Elections Office's Warehouse, and that since it was the end of the day they should meet Bev the following morning to show them to her.

Bev showed up bright and early the morning of Wednesday the 17th - well before the scheduled meeting - and discovered three of the elections officials in the Elections Warehouse standing over a table covered with what looked like poll tapes. When they saw Bev and her friends, Bev told me in a telephone interview less than an hour later, "They immediately shoved us out and slammed the door."

In a way, that was a blessing, because it led to the stinking evidence.

"On the porch was a garbage bag," Bev said, "and so I looked in it and, and lo and behold, there were public record tapes."
[...]
The outcome of that debate was that they all went from the Elections Warehouse back to the Elections Office, to compare the original, November 2 dated and signed poll tapes with the November 15 printouts the Elections Office had submitted to the Secretary of State. A camera crew from www.votergate.tv met them there, as well.

And then things got even odder.

"We were sitting there comparing the real [signed, original] tapes with the [later printout] ones that were given us," Bev said, "and finding things missing and finding things not matching, when one of the elections employees took a bin full of things that looked like garbage - that looked like polling tapes, actually - and passed by and disappeared out the back of the building."

This provoked investigator Ellen Brodsky to walk outside and check the garbage of the Elections Office itself. Sure enough - more original, signed poll tapes, freshly trashed.
[...]
But the Ollie North action in two locations on two days was only half of the surprise that awaited Bev and her associates. When they compared the discarded, signed, original tapes with the recent printouts submitted to the state and used to tabulate the Florida election winners, Harris says a disturbing pattern emerged.

"The difference was hundreds of votes in each of the different places we examined," said Bev, "and most of those were in minority areas."

When I asked Bev if the errors they were finding in precinct after precinct were random, as one would expect from technical, clerical, or computer errors, she became uncomfortable.

"You have to understand that we are non-partisan," she said. "We're not trying to change the outcome of an election, just to find out if there was any voting fraud."

That said, Bev added: "The pattern was very clear. The anomalies favored George W. Bush. Every single time."

This is, by the way, the same county that on election night in 2000 suddenly flipped for Bush when thousands of votes simply disappeared off the boards - votes that had already been recorded and broadcast. It was explained away at the time as a "computer glitch" - that is, the machines had accidentally recorded some 16,000 votes for Gore that he didn't really get, and someone had to "correct" it. With no further explanation, we were simply expected to dismiss the removal of a significant number of votes before our eyes.

Now we learn that Volusia County turned over forged tapes from the optical-scan machines in response to a Freedom of Information request, and that these forgeries had "errors" that favored George Bush in every case. That's what's known as evidence. It's proof that further investigation is needed and that there is real reason to doubt whether George Bush received the number of votes he is alleged to have won in Florida - possibly even whether he won the state. Anyone who doubts it is being silly.

The difference is, you're reading this

Must-read of the day: Digby has found a fascinating article by Christopher Hayes at The New Republic on undecided voters that provides a somewhat scary look into the minds of the Undecided Voters. Undecided voters do care about politics; they just don't enjoy politics. [...] Undecided voters don't think in terms of issues.
My provider has responded!

I've put up an explanation but I'm not actually sure whether I dare post over at The Sideshow for the moment.

Short version - I had actually been exceeding bandwidth for a couple of months but they suddenly cut me off without warning, claiming the problem had arisin "in the last 24 hours", which obvously wasn't true. I suppose this is my fault for not noticing what my usage limit was to begin with. That's just the sort of thing that would escape my notice. But it does have to be said that my provider isn't particularly good at making things clear. *sigh*

So they want me to upgrade and I've asked them to give me appropriate details and in the meantime I'm comparison-shopping and looking into getting The Sideshow it's own domain name (one that doesn't involve frames) so further emergencies (or future migrations) don't result in this sort of thing again.
Links to ponder

What does the right-wing have that we don't have? Sugar Daddies for the cause. How else could someone like David Horowitz make a living?

How Boring was Bill Clinton's book? Despite what you've heard from some quarters, some of its most "boring" sections are fascinating, and could help Democrats learn how to talk across the divide, according to Bob Somerby.

At The Mahablog, a suggestion for an ad campaign for Radio Free Heartland, so those red-staters will learn what's happening to their health care.

Jeralyn recommends: 8th Circuit Senior Judge Donald Lay has an op-ed in the New York Times today, Rehab Justice. He argues for federal drug courts, like those in the state system. Also, another way Iraq is like Vietnam: Judge to Drug Defendant: Jail or Join Military.

Ruy Teixeira says that alleged rise in Bush's popularity among Hispanic voters doesn't fly once you look at the figures. (Actually, none of the figures make any sense once you look at them. But you knew that, right?)
Blog hits

The Angry Liberal, whose site you might want to check out if you haven't been there before, sent me this joke:
Clocks in Heaven

A man died and went to heaven. As he stood in front of St. Peter at the Pearly Gates, he saw a huge wall of clocks behind him.

He asked, "What are all those clocks?" St. Peter answered, "Those are Lie-Clocks. Everyone on Earth has a Lie-Clock. Every time you lie the hands on your clock will move."

"Oh," said the man, "whose clock is that?"

"That's Mother Teresa's. The hands have never moved, indicating that she never told a lie."

"Incredible," said the man. "And whose clock is that one?"

St. Peter responded, "That's Abraham Lincoln's clock. The hands have moved twice, telling us that Abe told only two lies in his entire life."

"Where's President Bush's clock?" asked the man.

"Bush's clock is in Jesus' office. He's using it as a ceiling fan."
In other news just look at this idiotic thing someone wrote about Patrick and Teresa.
No Fourth Estate, no democracy

At Consortium News, Sam Parry is not too happy with the sniffy response they got from a certain newspaper on their serious look at voting problems:
Washington Post's Sloppy Analysis

The Washington Post and the big media have spoken: Questions about Nov. 2 voting irregularities and George W. Bush’s unusual vote tallies are just the ravings of Internet conspiracy theorists.

In a Nov. 11 story on A2, the Post gave the back of its hand to our story about Bush's statistically improbable vote totals in Florida and elsewhere. While agreeing with our analysis that Bush pulled off the difficult task of winning more votes in Florida than the number of registered Republicans, the Post accuses us of overlooking the obvious explanation that many independents, "Dixiecrats" and other Democrats voted for Bush.

Mocking us as "spreadsheet-wielding conspiracy theorists," Post reporters Manuel Roig-Franzia and Dan Keating signaled their determination to put questions about Bush's victory outside the bounds of responsible debate. Yet, if they hadn't been so set in this agenda, they might have avoided sloppy mistakes and untrue assertions.

In an example of their slipshod reporting, Roig-Franzia and Keating state that we focused our data analysis on rural counties in Florida. They suggest that Bush's gains in these rural counties might be explained by the greater appeal of son-of-the-South Al Gore in 2000 than Bostonian John Kerry in 2004.

But we didn't focus on rural counties in Florida. Rather we looked at the vote tallies statewide and zeroed in on Bush's performance in the larger, more metropolitan counties of southern and central Florida, where Bush got the vast majority of his new votes over his state totals in 2000.

It was in these large counties where Bush's new totals compared most surprisingly with new voter registration because Democrats did a much better job in many of these counties of registering new voters. In other words, Bush outperformed Kerry among a relatively smaller ratio of Republicans to Democrats in many of these counties.

Also undermining the Post's claims, Kerry actually improved on Gore's total in the smallest 20 counties in Florida by 5,618 votes -- 50,883 votes for Kerry vs. 45,265 for Gore, a 12.5% increase. So, even the Post's notion that Gore's Southern heritage made him more attractive to rural Floridians doesn't fit with the actual results.
And that's just the first bit. But it's oddity piled upon oddity, and the "debunking" you may have seen of the questionable ballot tallies just doesn't explain them. Do read the rest.
International conversation

Remember Sorry Everybody?

Well, Everybody answered: Apologies Accepted
I see going out didn't make the world change

Free-Online still hasn't responded to my wailing, so The Sideshow is still down.

Meanwhile, here are a couple of pages I found in my referrers tonight:

Andrew Tobias linked the Dwight Meredith page I have up at The Sideshow Annex, Just For The Record, in a piece called Duccio di Borealis explaining that Democrats are better than Republicans at handling the economy. But I went over to his front page where he has a good Thomas Oliphant article up, on The Gay Marriage Deception, pointing out that the laws in question ban a great deal more than gay marriage (which is why they are unlikely to survive court challenges) and talking a bit more generally about how this is Bush's MO.

I also found GratisNet, which doesn't appear to have permalinks for entries but also liked Dwight's "Just For The Record" enough to cache the page at their site, and had some interesting entries on the front page. I was particularly interested in this one:
Salem witch trials ahead? 11-14-04
Last week, on ABC News This Week with George Stephanopoulos, James Dobson was asked about his comment to an Oklahoma City newspaper that "Patrick Leahy is a 'God's people-hater.' I don't know if he hates God, but he hates God's people," when Stephanopoulos remarked that it seemingly was not a Christian thing to say about the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. Dobson questioned whether Stephanopoulos should "lecture me on what a Christian is all about?"

It is fairly obvious that someone needs to lecture Dobson on what it means to be a Christian, for it is more than obvious that, if he ever knew what it meant, his recent words and deeds indicate he has lost the knowledge.


Meanwhile, I have fired off a few more grumpy words to my provider but have given up hope of hearing from them tonight.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

The fight goes on

At The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Democrats take up fight over ballots

Cincinnati - Seeming to brush aside John Kerry's concession speech, the Ohio Democratic Party has launched a federal court fight over nearly 155,000 provisional ballots by contending a proper accounting of those votes might decide who really won.

In Ohio, Bush now holds a lead of about 136,000 votes over Kerry.

The fight seems to have ended in New Mexico, but here's a curiosity:

After two weeks of controversy, lawsuits and national scrutiny, New Mexico's vote counting ended with 86 ballots being found Tuesday in a locked bathroom in the Doña County Courthouse.
My suspicion is a DOS attack at The Sideshow. I haven't heard back from my ISP yet.

Meanwhile, Atrios has a pretty important piece of news this morning from The Washington Post about a major tax shift the administration has proposed that advances the movement of the tax burden to workers-only. If they really do this, though, it may work out to quite the opposite of what they intended. If employers stop offering health insurance altogether things could get very interesting indeed.

Meanwhile, Huey says it best:

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

The Republican legality strategy of Rove
by Jerome Armstrong

It's becoming clearer as the vote approaches. Just today, the Republicans in Oregon challenged thousands of registered voters in Portland, OR; yesterday, it was the Republicans in Wisconsin challenging likely Democratic voters in Milwaukee, WI; before that in Ohio & Florida. There are literally thousands of Republicans that the GOP has planned to move into predominant black preciencts tomorrow in Cleveland, OH, to challenge voters (I'll believe the rulings to the contrary of this happening when the reality matches the ruling).

What are Republicans doing? Simply, they are laying the groundwork to challenge the election results by attacking the vote of those who live in cities within contested states.


Stupid & Delusional
Ken Layne
Howell Raines -- the jackass who made a total joke of the New York Times, the fool who randomly directed the paper's energies at a golf club in Georgia rather than the venal gang of profiteers steering the nation to disaster, the enlightened editor who ignored the horrible truths about Sept. 11 in favor of maudlin capsule obituaries and a wretched Oprah-inspired daily special section comically titled "A Nation Challenged," the awards whore who unquestioningly trumped up the phony Bush case for invading Iraq in hopes he & the Chalabi toady Judith Miller would get a Pulitzer -- writes a loathsome column for a Florida paper in which he sniffs the air and finds it's all the fault of Rupert Murdoch and the Internet. Fantastic.

Friday, May 14, 2004

It's the Christianity, Stupid.

Close readers of The Sideshow already know that I was raised on the Gospels and that, to a large extent, this is where my values come from, even though I've left all the churchifying behind. It's not something I normally think of as part of my core identity, but I was taught that certain things were right and certain things were wrong, and I've thought about those things a lot in my lifetime, and they still seem pretty solid to me, whether you believe in a Higher Being or not.

I think most Americans - whether today they call themselves Christians, or atheists, or something else - pretty much picked up the same values in the same way.

Consider the teachings of Jesus: He preached against public piety, against putting material wealth above the spiritual, against casting the first stone, against bigotry. He spoke up for the poor and told us to love our neighbors. He blessed the peacemakers and the merciful, and taught his followers to share. He preached love, hope, and charity. He was about forgiveness and redemption.

And so, as someone who, "was raised on the Good Book Jesus 'til I read between the lines," it's pretty much impossible for me to look at the modern GOP and the Christian right - and particularly at the Bush administration - and see any of Jesus' teachings there. I don't claim to know the mind of any god (which, after all, would be blasphemy), but it seems to me that Bush represents the kind of self-righteous, publicly pious, war-mongering rich men who Jesus warned us not to become.

We all want material comfort, but most of us would rather not see our neighbors starve. We can spare a bit if it prevents large sections of the populace from becoming miserable. And Jesus hung out with tax-collectors, and told us to render unto Ceaser what is Ceaser's. We can share.

We all have our prejudices, and many of us are uncomfortable with people who we see as too different from ourselves, but we don't want hateful discrimination written into our laws. And just as Jesus reminded us not to hate those of other religions just because they were of different tribes and faiths, we can learn to judge people by what they do, like the good Samaritan, rather than what they are - Muslims, gays, whatever.

Like most Americans, I do pick and choose which of the Ten Commandments I try to abide by, but some make sense to me not because they were decreed by a god, but because living by them just seems to make the world a better place. Killing and stealing seem like pretty bad ideas to me, for example, and bearing false witness makes things pretty nasty, too. So it's hard to put faith in leaders who steal our Social Security money, rob our treasury generally, and murder thousands of Iraqi civilians based on lies they made up about Saddam Hussein.

(They're not so good on the Seven Deadly Sins, either, now that I think of it.)

So there it is: We're liberals because no matter how far we've strayed from Sunday School, we still think like Christians - even those of us who never were.

And that's what it really means that America is a nation with Christian values. And by those values, we have to reject the leadership we are getting from Bush and the GOP.

[This article was originally published on 9 March 2004 at DailyNewsOnline.]
On the Radio

Last week I listened to the last broadcast of Mike Malloy's show on the union-supported I.E.America radio network. I say "broadcast" although, as far as I know, Malloy's show was available only on one or two local stations and on the Internet. Though Malloy has always been popular in whatever market he worked in, right-wing organizing to silence him has usually been effective enough to keep him from being heard anywhere for long. But in this case, the union just couldn't see trying to make a go of maintaining a liberal station on the Internet any longer, and that was the end of Malloy's current run.

Meanwhile, Clear Channel dropped Howard Stern's show from the six markets in which they carry it. They said it was because of indecency.

As Eric Boehlert points out in his recent Salon article on the subject, Clear Channel boss is shocked -- shocked -- to find indecency!, this appears to be another timely response by the network to Congressional interest in broadcast violations. FCC head Michael Powell, mysteriously uninterested in what otherwise serves the public interest, has had a sudden disturbance after the appearance of Janet Jackson's breast rippled the broadcast waters. Congress gets into the act, and next thing you know, Clear Channel notices that Howard Stern has not been squeaky clean for all these years.

Now, it's true that members of the public have complained of what they regard as Stern's vulgarity. But it's equally true that members of the public have complained about some far more serious breaches of the public trust on Clear Channel's part. For example, the continuous stream of falsehoods and hate-mongering by Rush Limbaugh, the neglect of local programming - including local news and vital information during emergencies - and the network's national lock-out of musical innovation and diversity. Many of us regard these things as far more obscene than any Howard Stern show.

Some form of liberal radio is now trying to emerge in the form of something that started off calling itself "Central Air" and is now calling itself Air America. (And, yes, having read the book, I'm a bit disturbed by that name.) There's been a rather high profile given to the fact that comedian Al Franken has been asked to do a show on the new network - they want a star. But if they are to succeed, they really need people with experience in radio. If they want to compete with the likes of Rush, they should pick up folks who know the business, as Malloy has said, and as Ed Schultz and others have proven can work.

One of them, I'm pleased to say, has indeed been tapped for the network - Randi Rhodes, popular South Florida radio personality, is slated to have her show syndicated on Air America. (Clear Channel apparently considered syndicating her show, but legend has it that Rush Limbaugh threatened to take his toys and go elsewhere if he had to share their national airwaves with her.) But one radio star - even a "ratings queen" like Rhodes - is not enough.

As I so often say, the airwaves belong to the people. One way or another, we need to take them back.

[This article was originally published on 2 March 2004 at DailyNewsOnline.]

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Should Bush Be Shot for Desertion?

All right, I'm not really going to argue for a firing squad for Bush, but I'm getting annoyed with the question of why we should care whether he was AWOL from his required service with the Texas Air National Guard.

I have seen someone say that we shouldn't care because the Vietnam war was a mistake and many of us were actively against it, so why should we mind that Bush couldn't be bothered to fight in it or even put up a good imitation of ANG service?

Well, this isn't a question of how well he executed the defense of his country during the Vietnam war, it's a question of how well he stood up for his convictions and took responsibility for his promises. He said he supported the war - and he "supported it" by making sure he didn't have to risk anything to be in it. And then he broke the deal that kept him out of the war, without any repercussions.

So we have a guy who offers nothing more than lip-service to something he says he believes in. We have a guy who makes deals (to serve in the ANG), and then doesn't fulfill his obligations - that is, he even breaks deals with his own country. And then tries to pretend this military record makes him some sort of hot-shot flying war hero.

I've seen some people try to compare Bush with Clinton, saying that each of them evaded service in Vietnam. But there is a rather significant difference, in that Vietnam was Bush's war, not Clinton's. Clinton's war was against the war, and he actively protested it. So only one of these two men showed the courage of their alleged convictions.

Did Bush actually believe in the Vietnam war? Who knows? Bush claims a lot of beliefs that his actions appear to betray. And that's a significant part of the problem: Bush never seems to be able to back up what he says he believes in. That's a pretty important character flaw.

This one little story actually tells us quite a good deal about Bush, and could be taken as a predictor of what was to come. Bush's Vietnam "service" looks an awful lot like his "presidency" - lip-service and astonishing laziness, moral laxity at levels most of us can't even imagine, and what looks like an allergy to behaving honorably.

When light-hearted blogger Skippy refers to Bush consistently as "awol" he doesn't just mean his ANG record, but his entire performance in government. It's not just that Bush was AWOL, it's that he is AWOL, and has been since his first day in office.

Consider Bush's 2000 campaign, in which we were simultaneously told that his vast experience as governor of Texas made him eminently qualified to lead the nation, while the disastrous results of his administration of Texas were none of his doing since the governorship in Texas confers little power. Every criticism of Bush's tenure as governor was answered with the information that it's really the lieutenant governor who has the authority in Texas. So nothing is ever Bush's fault.

Bush's occupancy of the White House has been one example after another of broken promises. He arrived in Washington and, having been warned of the dangers of terrorism, promptly overturned every protection his predecessor had put in place, and then told our intelligence services they could not investigate our most likely attacker, Al Qaeda, at all.

Allied intelligence warned that an attack was imminent. Osama bin Laden himself went on the radio and said he had something big planned for the US.

And then Bush went on vacation.

It's almost as if he was daring us to realize we had been insulted. In a country where a remarkably high number of people are unemployed solely because those who still have jobs are being forced to do the work of more than one person, afraid to take what little dwindling vacation time they purportedly are still entitled to because that might put their jobs at risk, Bush was publicly sneering at the idea of diligence and service. By September 10th of 2001, his habitual shirking was already being discussed everywhere.

Even when he was supposedly doing his job, he was expressing resentment at having to do it at all, sniping at reporters when visiting other nations, and insulting foreign dignitaries - with the excuse that he was being kept up past his bedtime. He had no excuse for doing the same from the White House itself, but he did it anyway, destabilizing the situation in Korea and with China within the first months of his tenure.

The rest of his "work" has involved photo-ops in which he pretended to care about important issues like education, each of which seemed to precede the promotion of a new order or bill that would gut whatever program he claimed to be supporting.

We have been told that what Andy Card whispered into Bush's ear as he read to school children on the morning of September 11th was that the nation was under attack. And Bush just sat there and kept reading. Then he got on Airforce One and took a little tour of midwestern airspace for a few hours.

As a leader of his country, Bush has been AWOL from his very first day. He may have quit drinking (or maybe not), but he is still the same arrogant layabout he always was. It's a shame America wasn't shown that true picture of George W. Bush in 2000. After all, what is past is prologue.

[This article was originally published on 23 February 2004 at DailyNewsOnline.]

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

The Sour Taste of Iraq

I don't read Jane's. I am not an airfix kid. And yet I knew instantly that Tony Blair's claim that Saddam could deploy WMD to strike at British interests within 45 minutes was false.

How did I know? I used this simple test:

Do I recall ever having read a front-page headline announcing that Iraq had tested a nuclear bomb?

No.

So they can't be nuke-ready, because you can't hide that sort of thing; when it happens, everyone knows it.

And they had no delivery systems. And even if they'd never destroyed their stocks of biological and chemical weapons, they were past their sell-by date. And even if they hadn't been past their sell-by date, they had no way to use them against Britain or even Cyprus as a means of mass killing.

So it was obviously not true.

And here is my problem: How could Tony Blair not know this? He's the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, it's the sort of thing he really, really ought to know. Or he is way too stupid for the job.

On the other side of the water, opinion is divided on whether George W. Bush was out of the loop on this. No one really believes he has the sharps to put 1+1 together, and he says he doesn't read the papers, so maybe he actually didn't know.

But now even right-wing Fox personality Bill O'Reilly has admitted that there are no WMDs.

Two years ago I expressed bafflement at the sudden interest even sensible people seemed to have in "protecting" ourselves from Saddam Hussein. I was told Iraq had weapons of mass destruction ready to deploy against us - something that obviously wasn't true. I was told that we needed to liberate Iraqi women from a sexist society - a thought that sounds nice, but it seemed very odd given that women in Iraq were already a great deal more free than women in Saudi Arabia. I was told that Saddam was chummy with Osama bin Laden - an obvious lie, since the two of them hated each other. I was told it was part of our "war on terror" against Islamist extremists, even though Saddam was running a secular state (and Saudi Arabia is not).

And I warned that war could make life worse for the Iraqi people, that invasion risked their lives and their infrastructure, that tearing down the secular government actually endangered the rights of Iraqi women and made it more likely that strong-men, warlords, and religious extremists would take over the country.

I was right. Thousands of people are dead, women are afraid to go out and live their normal lives, and people are still having trouble getting water.

I want an apology from all of those people who called me a fruitcake. I want an apology from all of those people who think you need to "hate Bush" to have seen these things.

This was not a humanitarian war. It was insanity.

[This article was originally published on 18 February 2004 at DailyNewsOnline.]

Thursday, April 29, 2004

LatinAmericazation of the USA

It's pretty basic stuff. You soak the populace in taxes paid for services which will, for the most part, not actually be provided by the government.

Those services will be sold off to private enterprise or devalued altogether - by a government that claims to be giving you even better service! at even lower prices! but in fact is putting them into the hands of people who have been promised they will not be held accountable.

The private companies aren't even going to try to keep up the standard of service, but will raise prices considerably. A lot is usually said about all the nifty jobs that will be created by this wonderful modernizing project, but in fact productive staff will be cut and the new bosses will say they have no choice and anyway they have their obligations to their shareholders to think of (and obligations to no one else to even consider).

In most cases, the sale of utilities or other projects to private enterprise won't even have the benefits of an actual sale, since the government will continue to pay out taxpayers' money to subsidize the same projects. Extra layers of administration are laid on (at increased costs to you, of course), and the real deal is that the work has in essence been outsourced to a more expensive and less responsible provider. The private company mines profits from the bills you pay directly into their own pockets, while costs are returned to you through the government to be covered by your now increased taxes.

Of course, the government has to at least go through some cost-cutting motions, but they won't cut them at source. Instead, they will tearfully explain that we're just going to have to tighten our belts and get rid of some projects which, mysteriously, have now become inefficient and just plain too expensive - luxuries like a properly-trained police force, say, or public defenders, or medical care for indigent children.

So one year you were paying about $160 annually for your gas heating, and then it's privatized, and next year you pay around $20 for each monthly bill that is sent to you by the new gas company, but the government (i.e., your tax money) still has to cover costs for the inefficiencies that have been introduced. The trains, which now have fewer routes, and schedules that are becoming increasingly incomprehensible (not to mention a lot more serious accidents), seem to raise their ticket rates exponentially every year, and yet the government is still having to pay running costs.

Gee, the money has to come from somewhere, so... ah, we'll add 2% to the sales tax (which hits those in the lower income brackets the hardest).

Eventually, the current Prime Minister or President and their respective cabinet members will retire from public service to go into the private sector. What will they do? Well, Norman Tebbit, who sold off British Telecom, went on to run the privatized telephone service in Britain. See how it works out? Baby, you're a rich man!

Wait, he gave the phone company to himself? Doesn't this sound kind of...corrupt? How do they get away with it?

British Telecom is a lovely case study. The government ran BT, so they could decide to fund and operate it any way they wanted to. It was a simple matter to simply run the service down while crying poor. It's not that the money wasn't actually there, you understand, it's just that they chose not to put it where it was needed. Upgrades were seriously required, but they just weren't funded, and the system was limping along in the 1980s with the same technology they'd had since the '50s. Engineering was grossly understaffed, so you waited weeks, even months, after you called for service.

People were increasingly aware that Britain had the worst telephone service in the industrialized world, except for France. The crowning moment was when the country had a chance to upgrade to a new system - of British design - that would have made it exceptional. The Thatcher government turned it down. The French bought it. And then the French had the best telephone system in the industrialized world. (Imagine the humiliation! The French!)

The drumbeat for privatization became intense. Rhetoric flew high that the system was now unmanagible in its present form and only private industry could save it. So the government arranged a sale. What they didn't trumpet too loudly was the fact that part of the deal included a pile of sweeteners fattened with funding the upgrade we somehow couldn't afford before. And only some of the responsibility for running the system would go to private hands - so we'd still be paying for it, we'd just be paying for it twice. The profits, of course, would not be returned to us. But at least the phones were working a lot better, and we could finally get modular systems like they had everywhere else already.

Making the phone company the first experiment in privatization was a smart move, because it was the one that held out the most potential for actually working profitably. That was the thing that made it most attractive for private interests to buy, of course. Other utilities don't necessarily work the same way. So in this instance, privatization appeared to have worked.

But then, curiously, the railways started to be inefficient. (Actually, they weren't all that inefficient, but Tories kept saying they were.) Mysteriously, rush-hour trains started to be less and less reliable. There were problems. The drums got louder. The rails were privatized. And cost more. And were less efficient. And had lots of accidents.

It is rather amazing, when you think about it, that people can so easily overlook the simple fact that no private company would have any interest in buying a public utility unless it was profitable. Think about that: Why would someone want to buy the phone company if it weren't profitable? They wouldn't. So either it is profitable, which means there is no advantage to the public in selling it off, or it's not going to be worth buying. If it can't be run without public subsidy, they aren't going to buy it - unless they can still get the public subsidy.

If a service cannot be provided efficiently to the public by the government at a profit, it can't be provided any more efficiently to the public at a profit by the private sector. And because the private sector must make a profit, you can be sure that privatization will be more expensive and still be less efficient. All over the world, this has been proven again and again. It's not in question; it can't work any other way.

Privatizers try to convince the public that the market is magic. They do this, largely, by lying. They tell you that a government-run service doesn't work, even when it has always worked. They make people paranoid about costs and convince them to allow legislators to tinker with the system until it starts to break. Then they claim they can fix it by privatizing it. The privatized system never runs as well or as cheaply as it did before, but by then it's too late - it's a lot harder to re-nationalize a service once it has been in the hands of the private sector.

Just look at American healthcare, among the worst and most expensive in the industrialized world. Oh, you hadn't heard? Isn't American healthcare - because it is a commercial system - the best there is?

Well, no. First of all, it's not an entirely commercial system. The government funds a great deal of it. Most of the significant research is performed by the National Institutes of Health and government-funded university programs. The commercial sector reaps the benefits, but it doesn't pay for them, because you already have. And a considerable part of the overall running cost of hospitals is also paid for by the government.

So first you pay for it in taxes, and then you pay your middleman in the insurance industry and then you pay for immediate treatment. You pay several different entities for healthcare, and most of them are profit-making entities, which means you don't just pay what is necessary, you also pay an additional premium that exists to make other people rich. That means that a huge proportion of your payout is never put toward maintaining your health; it goes directly toward maintaining someone else's wealth. (Then, of course, there are the drugs....)

In Britain - and here we are talking about fully "socialized" medicine, not single-payer - residents do not pay these additional wealth-maintenance costs. Britain spends less money to provide free-at-source healthcare to everyone in the country than America pays for healthcare you still have to pay for at source.

And, despite some meddling by "modernizers", Britain still gets pretty good healthcare. I know enough to make the comparison, because I grew up in Montgomery County, Maryland, at the time the wealthiest county in the wealthiest country in the world. And now I live in a working-class neighborhood in London.

You hear horror stories about the NHS, of course - waiting lists and such. But most of that didn't exist before the Thatcher government decided to "fix" the system. Even so, enough has been retained that it still compares favorably with American healthcare. Yes, we have access to the same equipment, the same medicines. We have at least as much control of what doctors we see as anyone in an American HMO does. We get immediate treatment when we need it, and we get non-vital treatment in reasonable time.

And we never have to ask ourselves if we can afford it. (And private care, and private insurance, are still available if you want the pricier standard in the style of the USA - which means the furniture is better, but not the medical care. We already have good medical care.)

Oh, you say, what about those high taxes? Well, my social security and other taxes on my paycheck come to 20% of income above the personal allowance. (Equivalent to a "standard deduction". I think about five grand - sterling - at the moment, though I haven't looked lately, and it could be more. That's, what, $8,000?) There are no additional state and local taxes taken out of my pay. One member of any married couple (by default, the husband - you have to hassle them if you want the wife to get it) gets to take another deduction, I think called "the married person's allowance".

Taxes actually got higher as "modernization" started to kick in. It's interesting, isn't it, that "cost-cutting" always seems to make things more expensive? It was, naturally, Conservatives who doubled the sales tax.

The "fiscally conservative" "free-market" program of modern "conservatives" is a scam, pure and simple. It isn't based on any serious economic analysis. It's piracy that takes your tax money and hands it over to privateers who don't care whether you are getting what you think you're paying for. And it's not just hurting the poor; it can destroy the middle-class, while a small handful of rich people learn that they can spend your money on...a lot of expensive shoes.

Meanwhile, your jobs become less and less secure, and lower-paid, with fewer benefits - and what benefits you do get (like healthcare) are so vital that you don't dare leave the company, no matter how badly you are treated. You're still paying taxes, but everything they are supposed to cover gets privatized and now you are having to pay for them again. Soon you can't pay for them because you just don't have the money, and your neighborhood starts to look like a slum, your streets fill up with crime, and if the police do come, they harass you and all your neighbors.

What separates you from all those teeming masses of Latin American laborors who struggle while their leaders live in luxury, sucking up the nation's wealth into their foreign bank accounts? Some people just assume that it can never happen in America, but that's magical thinking. It can happen. It has happened, everywhere, at one time or another, and that includes America. We are not so far from 1929.

[This article was orginally published on 12 February 2004 at DailyNewsOnline.]

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Yet another service interruption

Yes, the provider for The Sideshow is doing another upgrade, and as usual this seems to be messing me about with the FTP server. Service will resume...when it does.

Meanwhile, this week's DNO article is called Watching the Fabric Tear.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

My latest DNO article: It's the Christianity, Stupid.

(Lately I can't seem to get a ping on The Sideshow half the time. Dunno why.)

Thursday, February 26, 2004

And now, back to our regularly scheduled program

The Sideshow's provider does seem to have things back together again. I hadn't realized that some things that appeared to have posted before the page went dark hadn't actually proliferated. But it's all there now, and that's the main thing....

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

The race/sex card

Nice catch by Hesiod at Counterspin Central:


GEORGE W BUSH IS A RACIST AND A SEXIST: Pretty strong allegations, I know. But I am just applying Republican criteria.

What do I mean?

Well, remember when the Republicans kept whining about how the Democrats in the Senate were "racists," and "sexists," because they refused to confirm Judge Priscilla Owen and Judge Miguel Estrada to the Federal Courts of Appeals?

I certainly do.

And applying that same standard makes George W. Bush a racist and a sexist. How do I come to this conclusion?

Because neither Judge Owen or Judge Estrada were given recess appointments to the bench. You'd think, based upon GOP whining and hand-wringing, that they would be the administration's top priorities.

But conservative, white males, Charles Pickering and William Pryor were the ones who got recess appointments instead.

Art & Politics

The Propaganda of William Safire, by David Corn.

Making Light on some astroturf, Ashcroft, her mother the terrorist, and Elmore Leonard?s ten rules for writers.
Sports and entertainment

Throw rocks at boys and watch a drawing take shape (via The Biomes Blog).

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Stuff I wanted to post today

But I still can't FTP to The Sideshow, so here it is.

Tonight is apparently the last chance to hear The Mike Malloy Show on i.e.america. What a bummer.

Talk Left reports that a grand jury in Palm Beach has issued a "a scathing report" on the privatized girls prisons in Florida, and has this: How many times does this go on when and no one finds out? A high school principal has admitted planting marijuana on a student he suspected of using the drug.. Plus, a powerful reminder that children can and do sometimes make false accusations that can ruin lives. On a lighter note, a pointer to the Sex & the City quiz. (I am 40% Carrie. Well, no surprises there.)

Digby on Kerry's appeal to Democrats.

Barefoot And Naked explains that the Texas redistricting has two important goals. One is stated openly in analysis by congressional aide Joby Fortson, who said: "This has a real national impact that should assure that Republicans keep the House no matter the national mood." The other is an attempt to silence Rep. Martin Frost, the most important Democrat in Texas. He has a real chance to win his race, though, and maybe you can help.

As mentioned earlier at The Sideshow, George Bush has admitted that he ducked service in Vietnam. He also did so more recently on Meet the Press. But now, Marc Racicot, chairman of Bush's campaign, is claiming that Bush volunteered to go to Vietnam. Yeah, right. Josh Marshall has details and wonders if anyone is going to ask questions about this latest lie. (Also: Look, folks, the only thing about Nader's campaign that matters is how it diminishes what's left of his reputation. It's not an issue in the race. No one supports him. Hell, even Noam Chomsky is telling people to vote for the Democrat. And Michael Berube says we should file him away with LaRouche.)

Speaking of Berube, check out his posts responding to continuing right-wing claims that the presence of non-right-wing professors in academe represents...er, something-or-other.

Life happened: If you want someone to be a successful on radio, you don't get TV stars or politicians, you get radio guys. Ed Schultz was a successful conservative talk radio jock, and then life happened to him and he moved to the left. Then he became even more successful in his market - in North Dakota. Esquire has the story.

Monday, February 23, 2004

The webhost for The Sideshow is upgrading their web servers this morning, in case anyone is wondering where I went.

Meanwhile, here's my latest DNO article.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Service restored

BT wuz here and fixed the phones. God, what a relief!

Friday, February 13, 2004

Daily News Online

There's this other thing I'm doing called Daily News Online. Fortunately, I had e-mailed an article for it to someone else to post on the grounds that my computer kept crashing. My computer seems to be working now, but since I still can't get online, I still can't upload to The Sideshow but here's my article about LatinAmericanizing the US.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Live from an Internet cafe!

Yesterday I discovered that both of my phone lines were dead. BT admits it's a problem on the network and not me. I think it's those guys that were digging on the street just down the road.

BT promised they would send an engineer by....

Monday.

So I can post here from the local Internet cafe, but I can't post to the Sideshow from here. *sigh*

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Your Comment Here

People ask me why The Sideshow doesn't have comments. Pretty simple: I don't know how to code them.

So I wondered if maybe it would be useful to direct comments here. I could create a post here for each day, or maybe even for individual posts if they are substantive ones, and direct people to that post from The Sideshow.

Is that a stupid idea?