Saturday, November 27, 2004

So Little Time, So Much To. . .

Some Timely Good Reads For The Weekend. . .
Compiled by The Old Hippie, Because Knowledge Is A Requirement Of Freedom


Let's get started - Click the "Below The Fold" link below.


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Porter Goss' WIA – Worthless Intelligence Agency

by Chalmers Johnson, Tomdispatch.com, Nov. 27, 2004

"Two weeks after George Bush's re-election, Porter J. Goss, the newly appointed Director of Central Intelligence, wrote an internal memorandum to all employees of his agency telling them, "[Our job is to] support the administration and its policies in our work.  As agency employees, we do not identify with, support, or champion opposition to the administration or its policies."[1]  Translated from bureaucrat-speak, this directive says, "You now work for the Republican Party.  The intelligence you produce must first and foremost protect the President from being held accountable. . ."

Full Article Link Here

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Apocalypse (Almost) Now

by Nicholas D. Kristof, NY Times, Nov. 24, 2004

If America's secular liberals think they have it rough now, just wait till the Second Coming.

The "Left Behind" series, the best-selling novels for adults in the U.S., enthusiastically depict Jesus returning to slaughter everyone who is not a born-again Christian.  The world's Hindus, Muslims, Jews and agnostics, along with many Catholics and Unitarians, are heaved into everlasting fire:. . .

Full Article Link Here

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Group Passes on Addressing Global Warming

by Bart Cameron, AP via Mercury News, Nov. 25, 2004

The US turns yet another blind-eye to global warming, this time in its own backyard.

"When Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja said, "It is the best possible declaration that could be adopted today," other delegates exploded in laughter."

Full Article Link Here

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How's This For Irony?

by Steven R. Weisman, NY Times, Nov. 25, 2004

"WASHINGTON, Nov. 24 - Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said Wednesday that the voting in Ukraine's presidential election was riddled with fraud and that the United States could not accept a victory by Victor F. Yanukovich as legitimate."

Full Article Link Here

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Fallujah Refugees in Their Own Words

by Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches at MichaelMoore.com, Nov. 26, 2004

"The Americans announced for people to come to a certain mosque if they wanted to leave Fallujah, and even the people who went there carrying white flags were killed!"

Full Article Link Here

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U.S. Threatens to Cut Aid over Court

by Colum Lynch, San Francisco Chronicle,Nov. 26, 2004

"They [Republicans] are taking another swing at international relations that I think are already damaged by cutting off economic support programs that promote American ideals."

Full Article Link Here


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Thursday, November 25, 2004

Up, Up, And Away. . .

America Is Still On Its Way Up. . .
by The Old Hippie, Because "Unbelievable" Is No Longer A Bombastic Description


The number of Americans that don't get enough food, up again - The number without any health insurance, up again - The number without jobs, up again - The number not counted because they "gave up," up again - The number below the poverty line, up again - The number of men put into prison, up again - The number dead in a profit taking war, up again - The number of dead since
Read "Mission Accomplished," up again - The number of "dirty-tricks-found" to suppress the vote by republicans since the election, up again, The number of women put into prison, up again, - The number of known corporate environmental "escapes," up again - The number of corporations with off shore tax dodging headquarters, up again - The number of those given federal no-bid contracts, up again - The number of innocent civilians killed for our war, up again - The number of jobs with less pay, less benefits, and less security, up again - The number of "Christians" that "believe" that the Separation of Church and State should be done away with, up again - The number of Islamic terrorists in the world directly because of the Iraq war, not our
freedoms, up again - The number of radical imbecilic born-again Evangelical fundamentalists that "know" the gay-marriage issue is more important than all the above listed "up agains," and "know" that Creationism is a science, and that it must be taught to your children, and that the "Rapture" must be "made" to happen, up again. . .


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I have gotten emails, and comments, from born-agains that have taken offense at being referred to as imbeciles.  I make no apology for the offense, and the offense is meant.  Here is why. . .

I find it offensive that you want to destroy the Separation of Church and State that is a founding basis of our Constitutional Democracy that protects you from my religious beliefs, and protects the rest of us from your religious beliefs.

I find it offensive that you are trying to force my children, my grandchildren, and everyone elses' children, to be taught Creationism or your euphemistic "Intelligent Design", a religious belief of the reality of the universe based on biblical absolutism - not scientific reality, in our nations public schools.

I find it offensive that you claim that you elected this administration because of "moral values," when it so very obvious this administration has none, they even arrogantly brag about it, that for this administration, torture is okay, cutting the pay and benefits to the troops and their families during war is okay, at the same time cutting the taxes of the ultra rich during war and the worse U.S. economy since the Great Depression, (tax cuts for themselves - not for you or us,) sending our children, fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters into war without basic armor protection and/or training is okay, giving no-bid contracts to proven corrupt crony corporations is okay, outsourcing our jobs to third world slave economies without human rights regulation is okay, etc., etc. . .

I find it offensive that you are so blind to your own imbecilic destruction, and since you are around 46% of the electorate, also my nation's destruction.

Creationism, and your recent euphemistic Intelligent Design beliefs are the most imbecilic of all, and to try to force those religious beliefs onto the rest of us Americans, and our children within our schools, is morally offensive.

If you really believe that you will get away with it for very long - You are imbeciles.

Do I hate you?  No.
Do I pity you?  No.

You have the right to believe as you wish - You do not have the right to force your beliefs onto us, and forcing Creationism, or "Intelligent Design," into our schools is forcing your beliefs upon us.  Which is completely unacceptable, and imbecilic, and dangerous to our Nation's health - And we - the rest of America - will fight you over it - and for it.

If you want to teach your children that the Earth is less than 7,000 years old, and that most all of cosmology, Astronomy, biology, geology, is wrong, and that Darwin, Einstein, Freud, et al, were wrong - Fine - Do it.  But do it in your homes, or churches.  Do not try to force our public schools to teach your religious beliefs to our children.


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Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Just An American Reality. . .

Why The World Laughs At Us, And Also So Fears Us:
by The Old Hippie, Because Born-Again Evangelical Ignorance & Denial Is Dangerous


A New Poll at CBS News - Concerning Americans current "beliefs" concerning Evolution, and the teaching of Evolution vs Creationism.  (Basic tenet of Creationism is that the earth is less than 7,000 years old, and all of its "science" is biblically based.)


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Voter IQ

Link To Source Of The Above Chart Here


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Sunday, November 21, 2004

American Resistance

AMERICAN RESISTANCE
by Manuel Valenzuela
www.dissidentvoice.org
November 10, 2004


Valid Outrage

If you are still upset at the resounding defeat of humanity that occurred on November 2, 2004 you have every right to be.


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. On that day billions of us lost a most important battle through both the vote of the ignorant, unenlightened among us and the systemic fraudulent manipulation of electronic-voting machines which, it is becoming more and more apparent, helped steal victory, for the second time in four years, for George W. Bush and the Republican/corporatist party. The consequences on America and the world of such tragedy may inevitably set us back to the dark ages and to a meeting with a most ominous destiny.

You should be outraged that so many fellow Americans were methodically conditioned to vote against their own interests and for the benefit of the corporate world, sending the world a message of backwardness, of warmongering, of ignorance and thirst for violence. Americans of all varieties should be incensed that so many gave George Bush a thumbs-up mandate for the feeble leadership, incompetence, violence and killing of the past and the ineptitude, violence, war, division, terror, criminality that is sure to come. By voting Bush back into office we have lost all respect in the world, we have become the terrorists we fear, the war criminals we loathe and have allowed for the continued slaughter of untold thousands through the weapons of mass destruction we are so proud to manufacture.

We have given the corporatists in government the confidence that what they have done is endorsed by so many millions. We have given the neoconartists new life, their ideology fresh legs, and their delusional preemptive ideas to reshape the world continued existence. You should be ashamed at your fellow citizens, 59 million strong, for voting while living in bubbles and disconnect, for voting kidnapped by fear, bigotry and homophobia, for voting not with their brains but with their manipulated emotions.


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We should be outraged as hell.

The Beast Emerges, the Enemy is Now Known

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We the People are being robbed of every truth we once knew to exist, raped of the knowledge that serves to liberate and ransacked of the lives we once led. Yet in these dark days where light has vanished can reality now be seen, where the charade of what America is has given way to what it has always been. An eclipse of sun, moon and eyes now hovers over us, finally allowing us to see the silhouette of reality, of the beast that controls us, of the Evil Empire.

The America of old, that America that never existed, the fantasy we so long believed in, has given rise to the America that always was, now present for all to see, no longer ruling and controlling behind the scenes, finally coming out of dark rooms to claim unfettered power over the People.

What the world has forever seen, known and experienced can those residing inside the belly of the beast now recognize. The America of wars for profit, of economic genocides, of market colonialisms, of feudal ownership of nations, of devastating poisoning of the planet, of enslavement of peoples, of destruction of talent and opportunity, of murderous rampages, of evisceration of democracy, of insatiable appetite for resources and of addiction to consumption has risen like a blazing phoenix, becoming a reality finally made apparent through the darkness we are enveloped in.

The United Corporations of America is now visible, an Evil Empire that has plunged billions into perpetual suffering, indigence, enslavement and premature death, an empire whose true calling is to make of its citizens ignorant, unthinking sheep easily herded, efficient machines bred for perpetual production and a gluttonous plague of locusts addicted to ceaseless materialistic consumption. The time has arrived to resurrect minds made numb, lingering since birth in the abyss brought by lifelong conditioning. The time has come to escape the fictions that control our minds, breaking free from the shackles of bondage that have been placed at our appendages.


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Thanks to the beast, America has been taken hostage by religious fundamentalism, ensnarling the world’s most powerful, diverse and talented nation inside the claws of religious backwardness and its conditioned ignorance. This has been done methodically and purposefully, for the beast understands that religion controls human beings, it suppresses and it manipulates, transforming human minds into conduits of obedience and exploitation. For millennia the Christian religion sequestered knowledge and innovation, free-thought and analytical thinking, keeping humanity in the abyss of primitive belief. People were prevented from seeing the world in its reality, instead depending on myths and fairy tales to explain existence.

Science was persecuted, as were those courageous enough to seek truth. Anything that proved the fallacy of religious belief or exhibited the controlling mechanisms by which the leadership ruled over the masses was destroyed, burned at the stake and banished. The People could never know the truth, for truth and reality are enemies of Christianity, as are education and knowledge. Christianity has systematically eroded and robbed humanity of education, knowledge and potential, and is why, still in the 21st century, the establishment and those who pull the levers of control seek the implementation of religious conditioning upon the less enlightened among us.

Religion is control; it is ignorance and subservience, oppressing shining stars and spawning black holes. It is acquiescence, unthinking minds and devastating exploitation; it is hereditary conditioning from which few human minds are ever able to escape. Those at the helm of religious belief hold the keys of power, of altering society and controlling minds, of regressing backwards in time and holding static the progress of humanity. This is the reason America is now the most fundamentalist nation on Earth, for to have the ability to manipulate and control those living inside the belly of the beast is to have immense power. It is to make ignorant and unenlightened tens of millions, transforming them into easily managed and exploitable entities striving for the dogma of their convictions and the sinister motives of their leaders.

Thus, corporatist America seeks the harvesting of souls for the manifestation of profits. It seeks the introduction of the Cross for the continued hegemony of the Almighty Dollar. It seeks to inhibit human thinking and progress so that it may more readily control those residing inside its bowels, transforming America into a nation of conditioned parasites, consumerist drones, exploited slaves and warmongering crusaders.

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The Birth of American Resistance

The fight of our lives is upon us, for war has been declared against us. For years we have been oblivious to the lost battles and eroded rights, the vanished freedoms and kidnapped protections. For decades the beast has grown, its veins filled with greed and its eyes saturated with the green of the Almighty Dollar. Its power swells with each new day and year that passes, and still we refuse to accept that we are in a most important battle. Our nation is under siege, its people hijacked by a corporate world and a corporatist elite addicted to the smell of money and the taste of greed. If we refuse to act, this siege will continue, growing exponentially until the day arrives that we are impotent to do anything. What totalitarian regimes were to the 20th century, corporate control will be to the 21st. The question is whether we respond now or wait until we are too far behind.

The birth of American resistance is upon us. Through the re-selection of George Bush can we now see the destruction of the America we once thought existed. It is time to join ranks, marching side by side along the trumpets of solidarity and fraternity, putting aside our differences and egos for the common good. It is time for resistance, peaceful and non-violent, yet devastating and triumphant nonetheless. If 55 million of us can vote in one day, mobilizing in earnest to help eliminate a most malignant tumor, then certainly we can mobilize again and again, uniting millions, marching in our cities, demanding justice and equality, demanding the return of our nation and the banishment of tyranny.

Do not let your outrage dissipate, do not let it subside. Rather, keep it inside your body and mind, letting it gather steam and anger, for what the corporatists in power are doing to our nation is treasonous and without shame. Keep your outrage alive, for it will be a most useful tool. Mobilize, unite and act, joining in hands and minds, sending 10 million people to Washington if we have to, causing civil disobedience if we must, instituting boycotts, sit-ins, strikes, in the end trying to release the hostage called democracy and the prisoner called America.

Do not conform, do not forget and do not let time make you indifferent. Let the peace movement be reborn, let peace and love once more supercede war and violence. Let brotherhood of humanity replace division of peoples. Let love of people triumph over love of profit. Let us retire greed and love for the Almighty Dollar, embracing instead the principles of humanity, equality and justice.

We are the many and the enemy the few, and only together can we defeat this most formidable enemy. In time our ranks will swell, as more and more of those liberated and free join our side, as more and more begin to see the truth. As Iraq descends further into the abyss, as more thousands are murdered and their towns razed the peace movement will grow, our numbers will increase. It worked once, it will work again, but this time it must continue to a new understanding of governance and humanity.

If Bush and his cronies do wrong, then let us do right. If they murder, then let us give life. If they maim, then let us heal. If they increase poverty, then let us increase well-being. If they choose wealth and materialism, then let us choose communalism and humanity. Whatever they may do, we must do the opposite. If they make war, let us make peace. If they divide, then let us unite. If they destroy, let us rebuild. If they use bullets, then let us use flowers. If they hit us, then let us forgive them. Only united, in peace, through nonviolence can we achieve victory. Only by doing good can we defeat them. It is through our humanity that wretched scoundrels wither away and die. It is through love and peace that warmongers are made to lie in ruins.

American resistance must begin now. It must incorporate all the tools at our disposal. We must do all we can, from small town meetings to large city marches. Do what you can, but please do something. From musicians to poets to writers to teachers to doctors to lawyers to radio personalities to celebrities to editors to activists to professors to factory workers to high school students to government employees to secretaries to college students to managers to burger-flippers to retail store salespeople and everything in between, the movement must be massive, it must be united, and it must be strong, knowing that what we are fighting for is just, it is right and it is necessary.

Let the American resistance commence, let it alter this most horrific parallel world, let it transform and empower, and, most importantly, let it free us of the corrosive grip of corporate power and the addiction to greed and materialism it spawns. The enemy is now known, unmasked for all to see. It can be defeated, and it will, for in the end, the united hearts and minds of millions always trample over the hollow cavity of the few.

Together we will win, and together will we reclaim the nation we want and rebuild the foundations we most cherish. Together we will banish tyranny to the gates from where all demons arise. Together will we make our planet safer, healthier and more peaceful, according to the wishes of billions, not the commands of the few. Together must we march through haze and fog, through smoke and fire, for we must first taste the bitter to better enjoy the sweet.

Let the American resistance be born, let it breathe the air of life; let it grow to dimensions high and mighty, guided by our collective fight.

Manuel Valenzuela is social critic and commentator, international affairs analyst, Internet columnist and author of the novel Echoes in the Wind. A collection of essays, Beyond the Smoking Mirror: Reflections on America and Humanity, will be published in early 2005. Mr. Valenzuela welcomes comments and can be reached at manuel@valenzuelas.net. A collection of many of his essays and articles can be found here: Articles by Manuel Valenzuela, 2004






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Just Another Rant. . .

Time For A Bit Of The Old Rant. . .
by The Old Hippie, Because It Is So In Our Collective Face


This picture says a thousand articles about how we "elected" this administration.  In essence "We" didn't.  "We" all know it is true - not possibly, not maybe, not could be - but definitely true.  You know it, and I know it.  It's a sure bet that all of us Americans deserve what is coming, because we did allow this to happen.  No ifs ands or buts - We allowed, and are still allowing it to go on.
Hacker All of the born-again imbeciles that actually wanted this do truly deserve what's coming much more than the "we" that fought this, even though it is now obvious we just didn't fight hard enough.  Most of us, the other 49%, actually believed, right up to the end, that our democracy was still intact, and would weed out the insane religious zealots and the criminal politicians with the vote - What a joke on us.  But the "why" of our deserving what's coming?  Is because - "We" knew -
"We" knew private corporations, run by two arrogant "Bush Pioneers," two brothers heading both corporations, had full control of the voting computers, and "we" knew these same corporations had 23 convicted felons in positions of manage-
ment, and software control, of the programs that control the
"count," without any traceable paper trail.  "We" knew it, and allowed it to happen anyway.

So. . .


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Yes - I'm angry at "them" for bringing this about - BUT - I'm much more pissed off at the "we" that allowed this come about.  No matter how you reason it, or justify it, or deny it, the "we" are more at fault, than the "them," of our divided nation.

"We" were not deluded by insane religious rapture, "we" were not lost within the throes of profit and power of neo-con'ed aggressive Empire, "we" were not members of the corporate criminal cronies - "we" were/are simple naive Americans that believed our Constitutional Democracy actually was still a reality.  Believed it would protect us.  But the reality is our government is now, and has been for the last four years, run by the combination of insane fundamentalist zealots, delusional neo-con imperialists, and opportunistic corporatist criminals taking every advantage of the other two's insanity.

No matter how you twist it - It is conspiracy that is so obvious that it is invisible within the denial.
Every day we look more and more like Germany of the late 1930s.  We deserve what is coming.

The rest of the innocents on the planet do not.


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Friday, November 19, 2004

So Little Time, So Much To. . .

Some Timely Good Reads. . .
Compiled by The Old Hippie, Because Knowledge Is Stimulating


Let's get started - Click the "Below The Fold" link below.


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Tomgram: Schell, The Battle for Minds (Forget the Hearts)

by Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch.com, Schell's article will appear in
the December 6, 2004 issue of The Nation magazine.


Tom's intro to Schell's article is as interesting as the article itself.

Full Article Link Here

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"We're Looking The Real Thing Right In The Face"

by Matthew Barganier, AntiWar.com Blog, Nov. 17, 2004

Nothing like being slapped by reality, to wake one up to reality.

Full Article Link Here

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An Angry "Good Rant" Response To The Above Mind Set

by fuckthesouth.com/

Again - Nothing like being slapped by reality, to wake one up to reality.

"...a number of readers seem to have a problem with this one.  All I can say is, "lighten up."  And remember that Swift wasn't really suggesting that we eat Irish babies, either.  Sure, this piece is hyperbolic, but the fundamental point is important: how exactly is it that liberals, especially North-
eastern liberals, have come to be defined as somehow less than "real" Americans?  I've been getting bashed over the head with that crap since 9/11, and I can assure you, it gets old real quick."
-- Tom Tomorrow, This Modern World

Full Article Link Here

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If you survived those two rants, let us carry on with more reasoned reads.

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The Muddle Machine. . .  Confessions of a Texbook Editor

by by Tamim Ansary, Edutopia Magazine, Issue 2, November 2004

Everything you ever wanted to know about the making of textbooks for our nation's schools, but didn't realize you wanted to know.

"SOME YEARS AGO, I signed on as an editor at a major publisher of elementary and high school textbooks, filled with the idealistic belief that I'd be working with equally idealistic authors to create books that would excite teachers and fill young minds with Big Ideas.

Not so."

Full Article Link Here

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Update On The Cut-Off of Medicaid Support for Lauren Rainey

by by WPMI NBC15 News, Nov. 18, 2004

"Last Friday the Must Read [at MichaelMoore.com] linked to a story about 13 year old Lauren Rainey whose life was in danger after Alabama Medicaid threatened to terminate her nursing care.
We also included the phone number for Alabama's Medicaid office so you could share your thoughts with them.

Well, WPMI in Mobile has an update on the story--and your efforts to help Lauren are working.  But we have more to do, and this time we're calling the governor, Bob Riley, who seems to blame every-
one but his own state.  So... read the story and call (334-242-7100) or E-mail the fine governor of Alabama.

Let's get Lauren some help from the state--a little government by the people, of the people, and FOR the people."
-- Michael Moore, MichaelMoore.com

Full Article Link Here

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White House to 'gut' CIA

by by Molly Ivins, Creators Syndicate, Nov. 16, 2004

"Purging for disloyalty makes us sick to our stomachs."

Full Article Link Here


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Thursday, November 18, 2004

From A Loyal Oppositionist. . .

A Republican Tells It Like It Is. . .
by Chuck Herrin


Chuck Herrin is a Microsoft Certified Professional Systems Engineer, and a long time loyal Republican - Not a tin-hat, loony-leftie folks.

This is his take and FAQ, at his website, on the reality of the hack of the vote. . .

"Q: How'd you get involved with this?  Aren't you a Republican?"


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A: I get asked this a lot, and it really shows how focused our country is on partisan politics.  I am a voter, first and foremost.  That being said, yes, I am a Republican and have been since being sent to Republican Indoctrination Camp at age 2.  That's where we are taught supply-side economics and the values of mutually assured destruction.  :-)

I got involved with this because I have been against the adoption of these voting systems for years.  It's a dumb-ass idea to implement them this way - our votes are too important.  I wouldn't trust my Bank with computer systems this insecure; Hell, I wouldn't keep recipes on a system this insecure.  When I saw all of the documentation regarding Diebold and their heavy partisan leanings, and then when the results came flooding in with a clear Bush victory when I seriously expected Kerry to win, I put two and two together.  I am, by trade, a professional White-Hat Hacker, so I know how easily "secure" systems can be breached, especially by insiders.  Roughly 80% of all computer crimes are perpetrated by insiders, so that's always the best place to look first.  When the insiders also write the code and roll the machines out, there is no question that they have too much power and can not be trusted, whether they support my party or not.  It's called "Segregation of Duties" in the professional world, and it is vital for system integrity.

But that was all theory and conceptual before I tried it myself.  I knew that the descriptions and ideas were bad, but I hadn't actually seen a copy of the software.  So I went to BlackBoxVoting
.org
following a link off of some website, I don't remember which, and saw Bev's plea - "Computer Guys - Test it yourself!".  I thought, all right, I will.  After all, this IS what I do for a living.  It's like asking an accountant to balance debits and credits - nothing special, and besides, I was curious.  Surely if our states are rolling this out to Hundreds of Millions of voters, somebody checked it.  It can't be as bad as these liberal whiners are making it out to be - they're just pissed off that our folks turned out in mass.

What I found truly shocked me, and made me physically ill.  That's what is documented on the other page.  It IS that bad.  I personally don't have conclusive evidence that voter fraud was perpetrated, but I can tell you as an Information Security professional that it would have been very, very easy to do.  If I had to choose between someone conspiring with exit poll workers nationwide or someone changing values in an Access Database as the cause of the difference between the poll numbers and the "actual" results, I'll go with the easier, more effective option every time.  Why choose the hard way when it's more trouble and you're less likely to succeed?
Again, I'm staying clear of making specific allegations - I'll leave that to the activists who are gathering data - but I would be much more surprised if the election weren't hacked than to find out that it was.

It was too easy, the companies were too partisan and unethical, and there was too much at stake for them NOT to hack it.  It looked like Bush was going to lose, and they had this tool available to pull out a victory.

Why do I call Diebold partisan and unethical, you ask?  How's this:

"I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president." - Walden O'Dell, Diebold's CEO in a fundraising letter to Republicans, Fall 2003.  O'Dell and other Diebold Senior Executives are Republican "Pioneers", which is the designation you get when you raise over $100,000.  His brother is President of ES&S, the #2 vote machine maker, and is also a "Pioneer".
Is that partisan enough for you?  Well, what about calling them unethical?

Check this out - No less than 5 of Diebold's developers are convicted felons, including Senior Vice President Jeff Dean, and topping the list are his twenty-three counts of felony Theft in the First Degree.  According to the findings of fact in case no. 89-1-04034-1:

“Defendant’s thefts occurred over a 2 1/2 year period of time, there were multiple incidents, more than the standard range can account for, the actual monetary loss was substantially greater than typical for the offense, the crimes and their cover-up involved a high degree of sophistication and planning in the use and alteration of records in the computerized accounting system that defendant maintained for the victim, and the defendant used his position of trust and fiduciary responsibility as a computer systems and accounting consultant for the victim to facilitate the commission of the offenses."

To sum up, he was convicted of 23 felony counts of theft from by - get this - planting back doors in his software and using a "high degree of sophistication" to evade detection.  Do you trust com-
puter systems designed by this man?  Is trust important in electronic voting systems?


So here we are - Means, Motive, Opportunity - the whole package.  And since the systems are so poorly designed, no audit trail to show any wrongdoing.  Add some cries of "conspiracy theories" and "sore losers", and you've got yourself a mandate.  Four more years, indeed.
Surprise, surprise.

BUT - what happens in 2006 or 2008, now that tens of thousands of activists know about the holes and how easy it is to steal votes?  Well, it'll be interesting, that's for sure.  These systems appear to be DESIGNED to be easy to Hack, so one can only imagine what will happen.  But I for one will embrace President Homer Simpson and will fully support his new 2008 doughnut agenda as a welcome change.  I hope that we can all stand together and welcome him as we Republicans continue to bring "dignity back to the White House."

Q: Why did you post this?  Won't this tell the Hackers what to do? back

A: That's a reasonable question, particularly for someone outside Information Security.  Let me answer in 2 parts:

1) The short answer is that Hackers already know this.  Not to insult those of you who are just finding out about this, but this isn't really news - it's been known for quite some time, and a mix of computer types and social activists have been trying to tell you that it's coming.  The GEMS software has been available for some time thanks to a dumb-ass move by Diebold, when they left an FTP server open to the public.  Copies of GEMS software, database files, user guides, code, and all kinds of "good stuff" have been circulating around the 'Net ever since.

2) The ONLY way to get this fixed is with a huge public outcry.  I need YOU to help spread the word.  Not just read this, but tell two friends.  And it would help if one of them was a Senator.  :-)

Q: I thought the problem was the touchscreens, but you're talking about something different.  Why would an attacker target the GEMS software instead of the Touch-
Screens?
back

A: Good question.  With all of the hype about the touch screen terminals, you'd think they'd be a likely target.  When you look through Hacker eyes, though, that's the best reason to avoid them.
Here's what I think:

I feel that it is unlikely that these individual touch screen machines would be targeted.  At greater risk than the individual touch screens are the Central Voting Tabulation computers, which compile the results from many other systems, such as touch screens and optically scanned cards.  From a hacker’s standpoint, there are a couple of reasons why these central computers are better targets:

a.  It is extremely labor intensive to compromise a large number of systems, and the chance of failure or being detected increases every time an attack is attempted.  Also, the controversy surrounding the touch screen terminals ensures that their results will be closely watched, and this theory has been born out in recent days.

b.  If one were to compromise the individual terminals, they would only be able to influence a few hundred to maybe a couple of thousand votes.  These factors create a very poor risk/reward ratio, which is a key factor in determining which systems it makes sense to attack.

c.  On the other hand, the Central Vote Tabulation systems are a very inviting target – by simply compromising one Windows desktop, you could potentially influence tens or hundreds of thou-
sands of votes, with only one attack to execute and only one attack to erase your tracks after.
This makes for an extremely attractive target, particularly when one realizes that by compro-
mising these machines you can affect the votes that people cast not only by the new touch screen systems, but also voters using traditional methods, such as optical scanning systems since the tallies from all of these systems are brought together for Centralized Tabulation.  This further helps an attacker stay under the radar and avoid detection, since scrutiny will not be as focused on the older systems, even though the vote data is still very much at risk since it is all brought together at a few critical points.  This also has been born out by early investigations, where the touch screen results seem to be fairly in line with expectations, while some very strange results are being reported in precincts still using some of the older methods.

This is not to say that the touch screens don’t have their problems, which are well documented on the web and the news.  My point here is that if you want to steal an election, targeting the individ-
ual touch screen machines is not the easiest way to do it.

Q: Where can we see the Diebold memos you're referencing? back

A: Some fine person (or people) at Swarthmore have posted a complete archive of Diebold memos at http://scdc.sccs.swarthmore.edu/diebold/.  Read the excerpts there, or you can download the entire 7.7MB archive HERE.

Q: Do you know what the version of the software that was used this election and is it available for download?  1.18.17 is from early 2003 if I recall.  Or does anyone at least have release notes so we can see what is different? back

A: Officially the version for this election is 1.18.19, but per their changelog there were no major changes.  I don't have the release notes handy, however.  I will try to find a copy - I know the folks at blackboxvoting.org have one.

Q: If there is a password on the Access db that would make it tougher to access, is this info stored in a specific table in a “master” db that can be accessed to reset the pass-
word?  Is it encrypted, and is there a crack utility to decrypt?  I’m asking because I want to know every possible way in for a hacker or dishonest poll worker.
back

A: There is no Access password.  Diebold's engineer (quoted in the article) talks about why they never put one on it.  See the "King County is famous for it" line.

Speaking of passwords though, the actual GEMS password is stored inside the Access database, so even if you don't have the GEMS password, you can get it very easily.

Q: Do you know of any s/w copies and db’s of the other electronic voting companies systems that can be reviewed as well?  Do they use Access as well and are they as easy to circumvent?

A: Sorry - I've only tested Diebold.  I do know that there is one who uses better, more open software, but I don't have any details on the other systems.  Diebold is definitely the 800 lb gorilla.

Q: Do you know of any information that breaks down the irregularities by precinct using each competing brand?  That could help determine if any one particular type of machine was “harder” for them to rig…?  Since I hear Diebold is the majority, perhaps this isn’t as relevant, but I’d like to know for purposes of discussion.

A: There is more data being generated out there than I have had time to analyze.  Democratic
Underground.com
has a big forum on the voting issues, with several different big analyses.  You might find it there - if you do, please let me know!

Q: Do you know if there have been any specific software security guidelines given to the government as part of their RFP process?  We should make sure there is, in case we do get the opportunity to get legislation on the floor.  I say this because I doubt we’ll be able to get rid of the e-voting type machines, so we’ll have to settle for smart, common sense, industry standard operational guidelines and procedures at the least.

A: Yes, there are specific requirements - there are a bunch of certification papers on blackbox
voting.org
- the main page, where it says "Technical people, test it yourself".  They're pdf files from the certification process.  They list requirements and what the certifying authority is to have checked.  Note the one that says "Penetration Analysis - N/A, not tested".  

back

My Open Letter of Thanks to my Site Visitors:

Thanks! Your support means a lot - it's a little overwhelming when something that you've been talking about for a long time suddenly hits the spotlight.  I probably should have let it go by now, but I just have this character flaw that won't let me just shut up when I know I'm right.  I just got off the phone with Chronograph magazine out of NY - they wanted an interview - and I have had I don't know how many site views in the last few days.  People are trying to hook me up with Congressmen - I'll keep you posted on that.  I might be meeting with some local representatives later, but it's not confirmed yet.  I've been asked if I would testify on Capital Hill, and yeah, I'd be glad to.  Whatever I need to do to preserve our Democracy.  Or get it back.

From what I understand, Bush's lawyers are waging quite an effective war trying to shut dissent-
ing voices down, regardless of the now over 37,000 incidents reported to verifiedvoting.com. Even the NY Times has told its reporters that the paper will not cover it.  Well, I will.  For what it's worth ;-).  It's amazing to me that with the MOUNTAINS of evidence and information that this issue is being dismissed by so many as a "tin foil hat crowd" conspiracy theory.

I wrote to the NC Republican Party last week, but haven't heard anything back.  I'm so disap-
pointed at some of our fellow Republican's responses - some people can't see past the partisan politics and look at the real problem.  It's like "It's OK if our votes don't count, as long as my guy wins."  Is that what real "Values Voters" believe?  What about when your son or daughter gets drafted and killed?  Should your vote have mattered then?  Makes me want to be a Congressman like Bush Sr. just so I can protect my kids in case of another Vietnam.  We all know that with a few exceptions, rich kids don't fight wars.

Sorry, don't mean to vent - just frustrated.

Thanks for your support, and keep fighting the good fight!

Peace,

Chuck

More questions?  Drop me a line.


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Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Think It's Over?

Oh Ye of Little Faith. . .  It Has Just Begun.
by The Old Hippie, Because Being Clueless Sucks


Checking in on the upsides, downsides, outsides, and insides of the election fraud battle.  The first
Patriot article comes from an extreme moderate, (i.e. not partisan right or left,) an excellent unbiased perspective to start from.  And of course, the immediate response from the outside edges of both sides would be the expected. . . "She's not moderate.  She's biased toward them!"

So - Let us get started with our investigative research to determine if "our" Constitutional Democracy, in reality, still exist - Or if it's just the constructed illusion to quell the ignorant and deluded masses, (the "we the people,") from questioning them.

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Think Kerry Is Not Involved In This Fight?  Think Again.

by Betsy R. Vasquez, The Moderate Independent, Nov. 10, 2004


Full Article Link Here

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Oh Brother, Ohio, and O'Reilly (Keith Olbermann)

by Keith Olbermann, MSNBC - Bloggermann, Nov. 16, 2004


SECURE UNDISCLOSED LOCATION— Keep your aluminum foil hats at the ready.

Full Article Link Here

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Evidence Mounts That The Vote May Have Been Hacked.

by Thom Hartmann, Commondreams, Nov. 6, 2004


So - Was It The Touch Screens, or the Optical Scanners, or both?

"While the heavily scrutinized touch-screen voting machines seemed to produce results in which the registered Democrat/Republican ratios largely matched the Kerry/Bush vote, in Florida's counties using results from optically scanned paper ballots - fed into a central tabulator PC and thus vulnerable to hacking – the results seem to contain substantial anomalies."

Full Investigative Article Link Here

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Votergate TV

Produced by Simon Ardizzone, Russell Michaels and Robert Carrillo Cohen
In association with Teale Productions and Public Interest Pictures


This 30 minute Presidential Election Special Edition of VOTERGATE was created
as a free educational service to get out critical information to the public.

Full Link To Video Site Here

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BlackBoxVoting.ORG Website

by Bev Harris, et al.


Current Black Box Voting.ORG fraud investigations.

Full Website Link Here

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BlackBoxVoting.COM Website

by David Allen, et al.


Current Black Box Voting.COM fraud investigations.

Full Website Link Here

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Cursor's derelection2004 - Covering the Media's Coverage.

by the people at the CURSOR & MEDIA TRANSPARENCY websites


MEDIA PATROL - Wednesday [Nov. 16, 2004] on derelection2004 Twenty new posts, including: "Wimblehack" has a winner and Matt Taibbi discusses the competition with On the Media, evangelicals go into perpetual campaign mode, counting in Ohio and locking down in Florida, media conservatives rail against Keith Olbermann, and Campaign Desk looks at how a Boca Raton paper launched "Post-Election Selection Trauma," or, 'PEST, the Affliction That Flew Around the World.'

Full "Covering the Coverage" Link Here


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Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Signs Of Horror Begun. . .

Signposts, Some New, Some Old, Some Camouflaged
by The Old Hippie, Because we fucked up and its exposure is necessary


"It is not a sign of good health to be well adjusted to a sick society."
- J. Krishnamurti (1895-1986)

  9 of the 10 lowest divorce rate states?  Blue states.
10 of the 10 highest divorce rate states?  Red states.

[Here's the kicker - This study was done by born-again Evangelicals.]

The higher the ratio of born-again Evangelicals, the higher the divorce rate.  Which is on par with; "War is Peace," "Creationism is Science," "Ignorance is Smarter."  And now. . . A higher divorce rate is "better family values," and "more moral"?


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Walking The Walk on Family Values

By William V. D'Antonio, Boston Globe, Oct. 31, 2004


"Take a look at the findings from the George Barna Research Group.  George Barna, a born-again Christian whose company is in Ventura, Calif., found that Massachusetts does indeed have the lowest divorce rate among all 50 states.  More disturbing was the finding that born-again Christians have among the highest divorce rates."

Full Article Link Here

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"The best (though perhaps not the smartest) way to build an intelligence
community is to eliminate everyone who disagrees with you."

CIA plans to purge its agency

by Knut Royce, Washington Bureau, Newsday, Nov. 14, 2004


"Sources say White House has ordered new chief to eliminate officers who were disloyal to Bush." . . . "Goss was given instructions ... to get rid of those soft leakers and liberal Democrats.  The CIA is looked on by the White House as a hotbed of liberals and people who have been obstructing the president's agenda."

Full Article Link Here

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I have just witnessed a murder on my TV screen

Matt Hamon -- 11/11/04


"How did we become as bad as this, when did the coalition forces become terrorist themselves.

I am choking, gagging, I want to vomit.  I have just witnessed murder by my own people."

Full Statement and Video Link Here

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With Colin and Condi in the news, here's the clips the media won't be showing you.

Colin resigned, Condi named to replace him.


Well, at least she didn't work for Monsanto, like Donald Rumsfeld, Clarence Thomas, Ann Veneman, Linda Fisher, Mitch Daniels, et al., names that should be quite familiar to you.

Full Statement and Video Link Here

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"Our" USDA, on August 3, 2001, approved patent US # 5,723,765, "Terminator Technology" is now licensed to a subsidiary of Monsanto, and they can now "legally" inflict it upon "our" planet.

The real horror has begun.  But if you still doubt . . .  Click Here, and/or Here or "Monsanto."

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One final note today.  If you spend dollars (your "money supporting vote") at/to/for any of the following corporations; Nestles, Coca-Cola, MacDonalds, Wal-Mart, Exxon/Mobil, to name just a few. . .  Ask yourself why you are so brain-dead, and why your "moral values" are so fucked up.

If you don't know why this is important - Start here. . . LINK

Awww hell - Put your self-centered-self out a bit - Do a little research.
You do have to right to not be clueless.


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Sunday, November 14, 2004

It's the Cities, Stupid. . .

The Most Interesting Read Of The Day
by The Editors of The Stranger, Nov. 11, 2004


THE URBAN ARCHIPELAGO


It's the Cities, Stupid.

There are two maps on this page.

The one at the top should be familiar.  It's one of those red-state/blue-state maps that have been tormenting Democrats, liberals, and progressives since November of 2000.  Over the 36 days that
George W. Bush and Al Gore fought for the White House in Florida, "red" and "blue" became metaphors for America's divided electorate.  Red vs. Blue--Democrat vs. Republican; liberal vs. conservative; pro-life vs. pro-choice; gun-huggers vs. gun-haters; gay-huggers vs. gay-haters.

The red-state/blue-state map opposite shows the re-
sults of 2004's presidential election--red states won by George W. Bush, blue states won by John F. Kerry.
But the red-state/blue-state map is misleading.  If a Republican presidential candidate takes 50 percent of the vote plus 1 vote in any given state, the whole state is colored red (even worse, a mere plurality of voters can turn a state red when third parties are involved).
The same goes for the Democratic candidate--corral the most votes, and the whole state is colored blue.
But painting an entire state one color or the other creates a false impression, an impression that we be-
 Islands
lieve is hampering the Democratic Party's efforts to pull itself out of its tailspin.


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Take a look at the second map on the opposite page.  This map shows a county-by-county red/
blue breakdown, and it provides a clearer picture of the bind the Democrats finds themselves in.
The majority of the blue states--Washington, Oregon, California, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware--are, geographically speaking, not blue states.
They are blue cities.

Look at our famously blue West Coast.  But for the cities--Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego--the West Coast would be a deep, dark red.  The same is true for other nominally blue states.  Illinois is almost entirely red--Chicago turns the state blue.  Michigan is al-
most entirely red--Detroit, Lansing, Kalamazoo turn it blue.  And on and on.  What tips these states into the blue column?  Their urban areas do, their big, populous counties.

It's time for the Democrats to face reality:  They are the party of urban America.  If the cities elected our president, if urban voters determined the outcome, John F. Kerry would have won by a landslide.  Urban voters are the Democratic base.

THE URBAN ARCHIPELAGO

It's time to state something that we've felt for a long time but have been too polite to say out loud:  Liberals, progressives, and Democrats do not live in a country that stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from Canada to Mexico.  We live on a chain of islands.  We are citizens of the Urban Archipelago, the United Cities of America.  We live on islands of sanity, liberalism, and compas-
sion--New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle, St. Louis, Minneapolis, San Francisco, and on and on.  And we live on islands in red states too--a fact obscured by that state-by-state map.
Denver and Boulder are our islands in Colorado; Austin is our island in Texas; Las Vegas is our island in Nevada; Miami and Fort Lauderdale are our islands in Florida.  Citizens of the Urban Archipelago reject heartland "values" like xenophobia, sexism, racism, and homophobia, as well
as the more intolerant strains of Christianity that have taken root in this country.  And we are the real Americans.  They--rural, red-state voters, the denizens of the exurbs--are not real Ameri-
cans.  They are rubes, fools, and hate-mongers.  Red Virginia prohibits any contract between same-sex couples.  Compassionate?  Texas allows the death penalty to be applied to teenaged criminals and has historically executed the mentally retarded.  (When the Supreme Court ruled executions of the mentally retarded unconstitutional in 2002, Texas officials, including Governor Rick Perry, responded by claiming that the state had no mentally retarded inmates on death row
--a claim the state was able to make because it does not test inmates for mental retardation.)
Dumb?  The Sierra Club has reported that Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Alabama, and Ten-
nessee squander over half of their federal transportation money on building new roads rather than public transit.

If Democrats and urban residents want to combat the rising tide of red that threatens to swamp and ruin this country, we need a new identity politics, an urban identity politics, one that argues for the cities, uses a rhetoric of urban values, and creates a tribal identity for liberals that's as power-
ful and attractive as the tribal identity Republicans have created for their constituents.  John Kerry won among the highly educated, Jews, young people, gays and lesbians, and non-whites.  What do all these groups have in common?  They choose to live in cities.  An overwhelming majority of the American popuation chooses to live in cities.  And John Kerry won every city with a population above 500,000.  He took half the cities with populations between 50,000 and 500,000.  The future success of liberalism is tied to winning the cities.  An urbanist agenda may not be a recipe for winning the next presidential election--but it may win the Democrats the presidential election in 2012 and create a new Democratic majority.

For Democrats, it's the cities, stupid--not the rural areas, not the prickly, hateful "heartland," but the sane, sensible cities--including the cities trapped in the heartland. Pandering to rural voters is a waste of time. Again, look at the second map. Look at the urban blue spots in red states like Iowa, Colorado, and New Mexico--there's almost as much blue in those states as there is in Washington, Oregon, and California. And the challenge for the Democrats is not just to organize in the blue areas but to grow them. And to do that, Democrats need to pursue policies that encourage urban growth (mass transit, affordable housing, city services), and Democrats need to openly and aggressively champion urban values. By focusing on the cities the Dems can create a tribal identity to combat the white, Christian, rural, and suburban identity that the Republicans have cornered. And it's sitting right there, on every electoral map, staring them in the face: The cities.

The urbanites. Howard Dean had it wrong when he tried to woo the "Pickup Truck with Confederate Flag" vote. In fact, while Kerry won urban areas by a whopping 60 percent--that actually represents a 15 percent drop in urban support from 2000 when Gore won the election. The lesson? Democrats have got to tend to their urban base and grow it.

In cities all over America, distressed liberals are talking about fleeing to Canada or, better yet, seceding from the Union. We can't literally secede and, let's admit it, we don't really want to live in Canada. It's too cold up there and in our heart-of-hearts we hate hockey. We can secede emotionally, however, by turning our backs on the heartland. We can focus on our issues, our urban issues, and promote our shared urban values. We can create a new identity politics, one that transcends class, race, sexual orientation, and religion, one that unites people living in cities with each other and with other urbanites in other cities. The Republicans have the federal government--for now. But we've got Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, New York City (Bloomberg is a Republican in name only), and every college town in the country. We're everywhere any sane person wants to be. Let them have the shitholes, the Oklahomas, Wyomings, and Alabamas. We'll take Manhattan.

EMBRACING URBAN SELF-INTEREST

To all those who live in cities--to all those depressed Kerry supporters out there--we say take heart. Clearly we can't control national politics right now--we can barely get a hearing. We can, however, stay engaged in our cities, and make our voices heard in the urban areas we dominate, and make each and every one, to quote Ronald Reagan (and John Winthrop, the 17th-century Puritan Reagan was parroting), "a city on a hill." This is not a retreat; it is a long-term strategy for the Democratic Party to cater to and build on its base.

To red-state voters, to the rural voters, residents of small, dying towns, and soulless sprawling exburbs, we say this: Fuck off. Your issues are no longer our issues. We're going to battle our bleeding-heart instincts and ignore pangs of misplaced empathy. We will no longer concern ourselves with a health care crisis that disproportionately impacts rural areas. Instead we will work toward winning health care one blue state at a time.

When it comes to the environment, our new policy is this: Let the heartland live with the consequences of handing the national government to the rape-and-pillage party. The only time urbanists should concern themselves with the environment is when we are impacted--directly, not spiritually (the depressing awareness that there is no unspoiled wilderness out there doesn't count). Air pollution, for instance: We should be aggressive. If coal is to be burned, it has to be burned as cleanly as possible so as not to foul the air we all have to breathe. But if West Virginia wants to elect politicians who allow mining companies to lop off the tops off mountains and dump the waste into valleys and streams, thus causing floods that destroy the homes of the yokels who vote for those politicians, it no longer matters to us. Fuck the mountains in West Virginia--send us the power generated by cleanly burned coal, you rubes, and be sure to wear lifejackets to bed.

Wal-Mart is a rapacious corporation that pays sub-poverty-level wages, offers health benefits to its employees that are so expensive few can afford them, and destroys small towns and rural jobs. Liberals in big cities who have never seen the inside of a Wal-Mart spend a lot of time worrying about the impact Wal-Mart is having on the heartland. No more. We will do what we can to keep Wal-Mart out of our cities and, if at all possible, out of our states. We will pass laws mandating a living wage for full-time work, upping the minimum wage for part-time work, and requiring large corporations to either offer health benefits or pay into state- or city-run funds to provide health care for uninsured workers. That will reform Wal-Mart in our blue cities and states or, better yet, keep Wal-Mart out entirely. And when we see something on the front page of the national section of the New York Times about the damage Wal-Mart is doing to the heartland, we will turn the page. Wal-Mart is not an urban issue.

Neither is gun control. Our new position: We'll fight to keep guns off the streets of our cities, but the more guns lying around out there in the heartland, the better. Most cities have strong gun-control laws--laws that are, of course, undermined by the fact that our cities aren't walled. Yet. But why should liberals in cities fund organizations that attempt, to take one example, to get trigger locks onto the handguns of NRA members out there in red states? If red-state dads aren't concerned enough about their own children to put trigger locks on their own guns, it's not our problem. If a kid in a red state finds his daddy's handgun and blows his head off, we'll feel terrible (we're like that), but we'll try to look on the bright side: At least he won't grow up to vote like his dad.

We won't demand that the federal government impose reasonable fuel-efficiency standards on all cars sold in the United States. We will, however, strive to pass state laws, as California has done, imposing fuel-efficiency standards on cars sold in our states.

Cities have the clout, and the imperative, to give people alternatives to driving solo, and to punish those who insist on clogging our city streets. In Seattle, we've done exactly that. We've built bike lanes, expanded the bus system, and banned new park-and-rides inside city limits. We've funded a South Seattle-to-downtown light rail system. And we've overwhelmingly supported the monorail, an inner-city mass-transit system that's paid for by one of the most progressive taxes available: an excise tax on the value of cars in the city. Want to buy a Hummer? Fine. But you're gonna pay for it--and help fund public transit. If you want to rely on environmentally friendly public transit, though, we'll make it affordable and easy to use. That's a truly urban value.

Transit like the monorail, in turn, promotes density in outlying areas (like Ballard and West Seattle), which leads to the creation of housing that's affordable to everyone--not just the proverbial penthouse-dwelling downtown urban elite. Cities like Seattle can further encourage dense urban housing by adopting policies that encourage developers to build dense low-income housing. And we've done it: Last year, Mayor Greg Nickels unveiled a new push to increase density outside downtown by increasing building heights and providing incentives to developers who build inner-city housing.

The more housing that is built in cities, the more people can afford to live there. And the more cities pass laws that make it easier to live in cities--laws like Washington State's inflation-indexed minimum wage, which passed overwhelmingly in Seattle--the more cities will attract the kind of culturally and economically diverse populations that make them attractive places to work and live. And, as counterintuitive as it may seem to composting, recycling self-righteous suburbanites, living in dense urban areas is actually better for the environment. The population of New York City is larger than that of 39 states. But because dense apartment housing is more energy efficient, New York City uses less energy than any state. Conversely, suburban living--with its cars, highways, and single-family houses flanked by pesticide-soaked lawns--saps energy and devastates the ecosystem.

Cities' freedom to go their own way extends, of course, beyond mere infrastructure. Urban dwellers are cultural libertarians--we don't just tolerate a diversity of lifestyles and attitudes, we embrace it. Seattle, for example, has over 1000 churches, mosques, and synagogues. From San Francisco to Ann Arbor to Seattle, cities have been the vanguard.

Drug reform is a prime example. Eight states have passed medical marijuana initiatives; none could have done so without the pro-pot clout of cities. Last year, Seattle voters overwhelmingly passed Initiative 75, which effectively decriminalizes marijuana possession by making it cops' lowest law enforcement priority. And just this month, Ann Arbor passed a law legalizing medical marijuana, the second city in Michigan to do so. There are countless other examples. But the bottom line is this: Cities, not the outlying suburbs, are leading the way on drug reform. And where cities go, the nation will inevitably follow.

Gay rights, another national issue, took a beating this November, as 11 states passed constitutional amendments banning gay marriage. But locally, Seattle has ensured that gays and lesbians enjoy the full protection of the law. Not only are Seattle city employees and employees of firms that contract with the city entitled to domestic partnership benefits, earlier this year, Mayor Nickels announced that the city would honor gay marriages from other progressive jurisdictions, such as Portland and San Francisco.

But there's still more to do that the Feds and the State are loath to deliver: Subsidized childcare; safe injection sites; expanding the monorail through the rest of the city; discouraging excessive auto use by taxing mileage (to pay for more public transit); and providing family planning for low-income families. An aggressive new urbanist movement will go its own way, making the cities, not the states, the true laboratories of democracy.

URBAN STATES

In November 1960, a black 6-year-old girl named Ruby Bridges entered the newly desegregated William Frantz Public School in New Orleans. In reaction to her admission, white parents withdrew their kids from Ruby's class and she completed the first grade alone, with instruction from one teacher and support from a child psychiatrist. Ruby's walk to class on the first day of school inspired Norman Rockwell's The Problem We All Live With. In this painting (one of Rockwell's best, as far as we are concerned), a very black Ruby Bridges is escorted to school by four big white U.S. marshals. The image is powerful because it represents the federal government as an institution and enforcer of reason. The white bigots of New Orleans can complain, bitch, and threaten the lives of black boys and girls all they want, but in the end the federal government steps in to ensure that the rights of every American are protected.

This image of the federal government is now in a coma. The lawmaking bodies that are clustered in Washington, D.C. (the Senate, the House, the Justice Department, the Supreme Court, the White House), no longer form the enlightened center from which reason and justice emanate. During the civil rights era, the federal government could claim to at least aspire to this transcendental order (the Great Society, the War on Poverty, the Voting Rights Act of 1965), but not today. Since the beginning of the 21st century, Washington, D.C., has exerted a force that is not progressive (as epitomized by Rockwell's painting) but oppressive. This is not an exaggeration. For example, the sole reason why the state of California--or more accurately, the cities of California through the agency of the state--turned to its own citizens to establish funding for stem cell research is because the federal government, in the form of the reelected Bush administration, holds a profoundly backward position on the matter.

Under Bush, the federal government spent almost nothing ($25 million) this year on stem cell research, a policy that's entirely informed by the bizarre belief in a God who has a white beard, lives in heaven, and hates the idea of stem cell research. The reality is this: There are over 100 million Americans (most of them Christian) whose lives would be improved or saved by therapies and treatments that could be developed through stem cell research. The federal government, however, holds the opinion that God should not be deprived of worship from the souls that are supposedly housed in the miniscule cells of five-day-old embryos. Realizing this is just plain stupid (or country, an archaic synonym for stupid that should be revived in our post-2004 election world), California's citizens--its urban citizens--passed Proposition 71, which would allocate for research nearly $300 million a year over the next 10 years. This figure, $300 million, is three times larger even than what John Kerry proposed, and promises to bring the benefits of this new science to all Americans before the close of this decade. Clearly the federal government is no longer the enforcer of reason, the cities are, we urbanites are.

Proposition 71 is just the beginning of a new, muscular urban politics. More and more decisions involving health, education, transportation, and law must be wrested away from our theocratic federal government by large humanistic cities. The federal government may give us its prayers but it will never give us even the most basic health care coverage. The State of Hawaii has what the rest of America doesn't have--universal health care coverage. Why can't other states do the same? Or, more to the point, why can't big cities compel the states they're located in to do the same? Again, it is not the State of Washington that is blue, it is the concentrated population of Seattle that is deep blue; and because Seattle is so damn big it has the power to dictate the politics of its generally hostile state. So, this is not about state rights--indeed, the counties in California that passed Proposition 71 by 60 percent or more were all urban (San Francisco with the highest percentage in the whole state, 71). It's about urban rights, about empowering the bastions of reason and rationality in a nation that is increasingly unreasonable and irrational. As a resident of the city, you should be proud to be an urbanite.

URBAN VALUES

It's no secret what the urban population is against--the Bush administration and its red armies have done us the favor of making it a cinch to identify: We oppose their sub-moronic, "faith-based" approach to life, and, as stated above, we hereby relinquish our liberal tendency to sympathize with their lack of, say, livable working conditions, a family wage, and a national health care program. We no longer have to concern ourselves with the survival of the family farm, nor do we have to concern ourselves with saving fragile suburban economies from collapse. They're against us; we're against them. This is a war.

But if liberals and progressives want to reach out past our urban bases, it might be helpful to identify some essential convictions, thereby allowing us to perhaps compete on "values." Identifying and articulating our core convictions, as opposed to compromising and downplaying them in search of some kind of non-urban appeal, might actually attract voters in exurbs and rural areas who understand the importance of cities to the national economy. But even if it doesn't, ours is a superior way of life. Wherever people choose to live in this country, they should want to live as we do.

So how do we live and what are we for? Look around you, urbanite, at the multiplicity of cultures, ethnicities, and tribes that are smashed together in every urban center (yes, even Seattle): We're for that. We're for pluralism of thought, race, and identity. We're for a freedom of religion that includes the freedom from religion--not as some crazy aberration, but as an equally valid approach to life. We are for the right to choose one's own sexual and recreational behavior, to control one's own body and what one puts inside it. We are for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The people who just elected George W. Bush to a second term are frankly against every single idea outlined above.

Unlike the people who flee from cities in search of a life free from disagreement and dark skin, we are for contentiousness, discourse, and the heightened understanding of life that grows from having to accommodate opposing viewpoints. We're for opposition. And just to be clear: The non-urban argument, the red state position, isn't oppositional, it's negational--they are in active denial of the existence of other places, other people, other ideas. It's reactionary utopianism, and it is a clear and present danger; urbanists should be upfront and unapologetic about our contempt for their politics and their negational values. Republicans have succeeded in making the word "liberal"--which literally means "free from bigotry... favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded"--into an epithet. Urbanists should proclaim their liberalism from the highest rooftop (we have higher rooftops than they do); it's the only way we survive. And in our next breath, we should condemn their politics, exposing their conservatism as the anti-Americanism that it is, striving to make "conservative" into an epithet.

Let's see, what else are we for? How about education? Cities are beehives of intellectual energy; students and teachers are everywhere you look, studying, teaching, thinking. In Seattle, you can barely throw a rock without hitting a college. It's time to start celebrating that, because if the reds have their way, advanced degrees will one day be awarded based on the number of Bible verses a person can recite from memory. In the city, people ask you what you're reading. Outside the city, they ask you why you're reading. You do the math--and you'll have to, because non-urbanists can hardly even count their own children at this point. For too long now, we've caved to the non-urban wisdom that decries universities as bastions of elitism and snobbery. Guess what: That's why we should embrace them. Outside of the city, elitism and snobbery are code words for literacy and complexity. And when the oil dries up, we're not going to be turning to priests for answers--we'll be calling the scientists. And speaking of science: SCIENCE! That's another thing we're for. And reason. And history. All those things that non-urbanists have replaced with their idiotic faith. We're for those.

As part of our pro-reason platform, we're for paying taxes--taxes, after all, support the urban infrastructure on which we all rely, and as such, are a necessary part of the social contract we sign every day. We are for density, and because we're for density, we're for programs that support it, like mass transit. If you ignore the selfish whimperings of the Kirkland contingent, it's not too hard to envision a time when the only vehicles allowed on the streets of Seattle are buses, trams, and shuttles. Utopian? Wrong: reality-based. It's a better, smarter way to live, and the urbanist is always in favor of that. People who commute to the city for their livelihood and then attack urban areas and people in the voting booth are the worst kind of hypocrites. Commuters, we neither want nor need you. We welcome, however, new residents, new urbanites, the continual influx of people from other places who come here to stay (are you listening, liberal residents of Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming?). These transplants help create the density we find so attractive, and they provide the plurality that makes cities thrive.

A city belongs to everyone in it, and expands to contain whoever desires to join its ranks. People migrate to cities and open independent businesses or work at established ones. They import cultural influences, thus enriching the urban arts and nightlife, which in turn enrich everything. Most importantly, they bring the indisputable fact of their own bodies and minds. We wait in line with them at QFC, we stand shoulder to shoulder with them at the bar, we cram ourselves next to them on the bus. We share our psychic and physical space, however limited it might be, because others share it with us. It's not a question of tolerance, nor even of personal freedom; it's a matter of recognizing the fundamental interdependence of all citizens--not just the ones who belong to the same church. Non-urbanites have chosen to burn the declaration of interdependence, opting instead for tyranny, isolationism, and "faith." They can have them.

These, of course, are broad strokes. We all know that not everyone who lives in the suburbs is a raving neo-Christian idiot. The raving neo-Christian idiots are winning, however, so we need to take the fight to them. In this case, the fight is largely spiritual; it consists of embracing the reality that urban life and urban values are the only sustainable response to the modern age of holy war, environmental degradation, and global conflict. More important, it consists of rejecting the impulse to apologize for living in a society that prizes values like liberalism, pluralism, education, and facts. It's time for the Democratic Party to stop pandering to bovine, non-urban America. You don't apologize for being right--especially when you're at war.


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Saturday, November 13, 2004

Grim Signs. . .

Global Warming Is Real - It Is Here - Now.
Two reports released this week


"Observed Impacts of Global Climate Change in the U.S."
by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, an independent, nonprofit and nonpartisan organization
and "Arctic Climate Impact Assessment"
by the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental body involving eight nations -- Canada, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Norway, Russia and the United States -- and six indigenous peoples' organizations.


America is the only nation to feel this is just too expensive to deal with.  As if there is any choice.  This election has proved that denial of reality is the prevailing reality, in just over one-half of America.  The undeniable reality now is - It, global warming, is going to get far worse - faster.  Not maybe, not could, not possibly, but as is being observed right now - It is getting worse, faster, far faster than even recent earlier predictions.  Denial just isn't an option any longer, really hasn't been since before the original Kyoto agreement was drawn up.  We who did not vote for this insane "ignoring" because of corporate costs, or even worse, the ignorance of religious ideology - Do not deserve what is happening on this planet. Polar Bear

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Grim Signs Mark Global Warming

by Stephen Leahy, Wired News, Nov 10, 2004


Global warming has disrupted the lives of dozens of types of animals, birds and insects in the United States and will soon make the Arctic nearly unrecognizable, according to two reports released this week.

The reports document sweeping "you-can-see-them-with-your-own-eyes" ecological changes underway and offer dire predictions of massive species extinctions, an elevation of sea level
Melting by 3 feet and widespread disruptions to Earth's
life-support systems.

These dramatic changes should be a wake-up call to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and bolster efforts to conserve American wildlife and natural habitat, said Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, an independent, nonprofit and nonpartisan organization that commis-
sioned the Observed Impacts of Global Climate Change in the U.S. report.

"Continued climate change could drastically alter the U.S. natural landscape," said Claussen.

Half of the approximately 150 wild plants, animals
by global warming.  "This is a surprisingly and insects scientists examined have been affected high number," said report co-author Camille Parmesan of the University of Texas at Austin.

Half of the approximately 150 wild plants, animals and insects scientists examined have been affected by global warming.  "This is a surprisingly high number," said report co-author Camille Parmesan of the University of Texas at Austin.

It's the first look at climate change's impact on U.S. wildlife, and the report shows that global warming is "changing life in your own backyard," said Parmesan.

Global warming is blamed for the 1-degree Fahrenheit temperature increase in the United States over the past 100 years.  This warming is uneven, however: Alaska has warmed 4 to 7 degrees in just the past 50 years.

Many wild plants and animals are going extinct in the southern edges of their ranges, but doing better at the northern edge, said Parmesan. Edith's checkerspot butterfly, for example, is in sharp decline near the Mexico-California border where it has become too warm and dry.  But its numbers are expanding in British Columbia, which used to be too cold for the butterfly.

In a similar fashion, the red fox is heading north and can now be found in Arctic regions where winters have become less severe.  That's bad news for the cold-hardy arctic fox, because it can't compete with its larger, more aggressive cousin.

Meanwhile, tropical species are moving into Florida and the Gulf Coast.  "People are seeing many, many new species coming up from Mexico and the Caribbean," Parmesan said.

Similar changes are happening to wildlife the world over, said Parmesan, who published a study on global warming's impact on 1,500 species globally in 2003.

"Small levels of climate change have (already) had strong impacts on the natural world," she said.

But it could get much worse.  As much as a third of all species will be extinct by 2050 by some estimates, said report co-author Hector Galbraith of Galbraith Environmental Sciences and the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Galbraith said he also worries that entire ecosystems are being affected, which could disrupt soil creation, plant pollination and the natural cleaning of water and air.  "Climate change has the potential to affect all those benefits that we get for free."

The damage is most evident in the Arctic regions, according to the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, an unprecedented four-year scientific investigation.

Polar bears, walruses and some seals are on their way to extinction, warns the report, which was released Monday at an international science meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland.  Summer sea ice may disappear entirely and, combined with a rapidly melting Greenland ice sheet, will likely help raise the world's sea levels 3 feet by 2100, swamping homes from Florida to Bangladesh.

Average winter temperatures in Alaska and the rest of the Arctic are projected to rise an additional 7 to 13 degrees over the next 100 years because of increasing emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities, said the report.

The assessment was commissioned by the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental body involving eight nations -- Canada, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Norway, Russia and the United States -- and six indigenous peoples' organizations.

The area is warming twice as fast as anywhere else because of global air circulation patterns and natural feedback loops, such as less ice reflecting sunlight, leading to increased warming at ground level and more ice melt.  Native peoples' ways of life are being threatened as well.  Animal migration patterns have changed, and the thin sea ice and thawing tundra make it too dangerous for humans to hunt and travel.

The Arctic Council wanted the scientific study and policy recommendations to be released at this week's meeting in Reykjavik, but the latter has been delayed until Nov. 24, said Susan Joy Hassol, author of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment report.  Although unwilling to explain the reason for the delay, Hassol said that seven of the eight Arctic nations had agreed to the recommendations some time ago.

When asked about the Arctic climate policy report, Claussen said the U.S. government does not want to see strong policy recommendations.  "They prefer to stick with their own policies," she said, and she doesn't expect any major changes in the Bush administration's policies on global warming.


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