when the status quo frustrates.

The E-Team

Saturday, September 30th, 2006

This one’s for you, Marc.

Jane Hamsher Mildred Speaks: The importance of hating yourself

Saturday, September 30th, 2006

Or why you need to hate yourself and how

We all judge people (via), how we dress, the way we comb our hair, little things really, but have you ever noticed how big a deal we can make out of those little things? For instance, a man may walk a certain way or sleep with a certain gender and suddenly people start labeling him “gay”! The reason I bring this up is to highlight the carefully guarded secret that feminists don’t want you to know: Everyone is judging you, that stranger you passed in the street, your parents and loved ones especially.

Now of course a feminazi would suggest that you find a way to have self esteem that didn’t rely on other people’s opinions and judgments of you – but think about that for a second, do you really not want to care whether a stranger thinks you’ve got a fat ass? For one thing, it fails to in anyway deal with the problem at hand – namely your fat ass – and for another, it completely ignores the fact that as a woman you in no way deserve to feel good about yourself.

And that is the most important lesson of all: You are ugly and therefore worthless as a lady. (more…)

We liberals are going to take back the Democrats

Saturday, September 30th, 2006

In the wake of the Democrats’ failure to put up a real fight against the legalization of torture and the ability to suspend the Writ of Habeas Corpus, two things about our party have become clear (if they weren’t before):
1) They are weak and rudderless.
2) They have abandoned their liberal roots.

Many staunch Democratic voters feel hurt and abandoned by this latest debacle, but it’s hardly the first time we’ve felt this way. Disenchanted voters who hate the conservative agenda have even less reason to turn out and vote for a party that can’t distinguish itself from the right wing.

Right now, a number of incumbent Republicans are weak, and the Democrats stand to benefit. In theory. The races are close, but based on the outrage and dismay over their latest debacle, and considering the number of times previous we’ve gone into close elections with high hopes only to have those hopes dashed by hook or by crook, I fail to see how the Democrats will emerge victorious.

Should they somehow take back the House, it will be entirely because of who they are not. The Democrats have no positive identity, nothing to rally voters to their cause outside of hating someone else. Even then, they adopt the hated people’s agenda and language, arguing only that the hated people have taken too long or spent too much.

As I wrote on Monday, the Democrats can’t get new votes this way. Republicans don’t believe they’ll be better at waging war, and disenchanted liberals see them talking just like conservatives. Ask John Kerry how well this strategy works.

Only deep unpopularity by an incumbent Republican president or Congressional majority ever results in Democratic gains anymore, and that’s no strategy for long term success. If the Democrats want to regain long-term control of the White House and Congress, they have to tap into the liberal agenda. Not only is it the right thing to do, poll data suggests it’s quite popular.

If that’s the case, then we have to do something to get the Democrats to see the value in returning to their liberal roots. They must be convinced that if they start pushing a liberal agenda, the votes will come. We have to show them that going liberal is the right thing to do, which is what we care about, and the best way to remain in power, which is what they care about. As I’ve said before, this is the essence of win-win.

We just have to get the idea out there, and we have to do it in a focused manner. As Dick Cheney knows, buckshot hurts, but lasers kill.

To that end, what if we had a united liberal voice to communicate to the party the power and the hope that comes with returning to liberalism? What if we could show how many Democratic voters feel abandoned and how many potential new voters would be gained from a return to our roots? What if we decriminalized the world “liberal” and reattached it to the notion of being a Democrat?

Why, if I’m not mistaken, I think we’d have ourselves a majority party that fights for the liberal agenda again.

That’s why I’m starting Liberal Democrats.

The idea here is to provide voiceless Democrats and potential new party voters with membership in a group that speaks a focused liberal agenda to the Democratic Party. It’s also going to show the Democrats just how successful a return to liberalism can be for the party. While groups like MoveOn.org and ActBlue have done a great job mobilizing money and people to achieve immediate election results, there’s no group out there protecting the long-term Democratic product. I think we can fill that need.

At first, we have to get the Democrats to endorse a few broadly popular liberal ideas and begin formulating policies/platforms to address them. Once they do, we have to show them the votes. It’s as simple as that.

The ideas that strike me as big wins are:
-environmental responsibility via sustainable American energy
-health care reform for every citizen in America
-accountable, transparent governance

I know there are a million other liberal issues to address, many of which are deeply important to all of us, but the 3 above speak to almost every single American, and I think they represent the most electable platforms for a new national Democratic agenda. If we concentrate on these ideas first, there’s a good chance that we’ll be able to show the Democrats some real successes.

I know there’s been a lot of outrage and frustration expressed about the Democrats. I hope that once we officially launch our presence, you’ll direct some of that energy to joining with us. It’s not gonna cost you a thing, and we’ll need as many names as possible to show the Democrats how serious we are.

Once we get a critical mass, we can begin making a few targeted efforts to draw Democratic and media attention to our ideas. It may be as easy as flooding Howard Dean’s office with a postcard from each of us, for example, or coming up with our creative ways to use our size to good effect. A few minutes from every member put towards a single idea will cause quite an impact.

If you believe in liberal ideas, then we have to take back the Democrats, however long it takes. They’re our only hope of making systemic changes for the good of all. I know there are millions of people who feel just like we do and want more from the party.

I’m a few weeks away from the official launch, but I hope you’ll consider participation. It may seem like a longshot now, but if all our hours of frustration can be refocused into a few minutes each month of communicating our strong, simple message to the party, we can affect real change. I can’t tell you how long it might take for that to happen, but I do know that we’ll feel a lot better right away if we starting trying together.

“Diebold’s AccuVote is crap” finally entered into Congressional record a whole 4 weeks before next election.

Friday, September 29th, 2006

A while back I linked to Edward Felton’s examination of Diebold’s voting machines.

He’s submitted written testimony to the House of Representative’s hearing on e-voting, and has testified in person as well just yesterday. Here is a link to his 10-page written testimony. Some highlights:

One lesson of our study is that security depends on getting the technical details
right. A security measure that sounds robust in the abstract may be useless or worse if
implemented poorly. Too often, the designers of the AccuVote-TS failed to get the
details right.

A good example is the AccuVote-TS access door. The access door on this
machine protects the removable memory card that stores the votes, so the door should be
locked securely and access to the keys should be strictly limited. In fact, the tens of
thousands of AccuVote-TS machines can all be opened with the same key, and this very
same key is used widely in office furniture, jukeboxes, and even hotel minibars…
————
The AccuVote-TS suffers from many such problems. It encrypts stored votes, but
stores the secret decryption key where it is easily found by hostile software. It keeps two
redundant copies of each stored vote, but both copies are subject to easy tampering…
————
More worrisome than any specific vulnerability is
that, despite its many problems, the system we studied was certified, purchased and
deployed by many states and counties, and is slated for use in the upcoming November
election. This leads us to conclude that existing certification and procurement
procedures are inadequate to prevent the kinds of serious vulnerabilities we discovered…
————
For example, the AccuVote-TS system we studied will
silently accept and install any software update offered by any memory card that is
inserted into the system. The system makes no effort to verify that the offered update is
authorized by the vendor, election officials, or anyone else…
————

Abandoned Democrats unite!

Friday, September 29th, 2006

Today is traditionally the day of kitties and tune lists and getting tore up with your peeps after a long week at a so-so job, but I just want to make sure everyone’s still as pissed off today as we were yesterday about the official end of our rights protections and the beginning of the police state.

Maybe you believe other issues are as important, or more important, than the torture legislation. In general, I’ve been more pissed off about the lack of action on the environment than anything else, with reproductive rights issues coming in a very close second. Whatever you care about most, though, odds are you won’t be able to get very far on it if the government can just call your agenda “terrorist” and lock you up with interrogators that’ll be able to rape you without real fear of prosecution.

But what are we gonna do about it?

People I respect are still mistakenly calling for moderate response to the Democrats’ laydown. As I wrote yesterday, the entire Dem strategy is a losing effort. They sell out in the short term, which buys them little, and then can’t hold the moral high ground in the long term, which means they can’t ever call the Republicans on their shit. It will never work.

But those of us who continue to vote straight ticket Dem keep them running a close second, and that’s good enough for them to think their strategy is working.

12 Democrats voted for the torture bill, but will the party strip them of their committee seats or send any kind of message whatsoever? Nah. They don’t wanna look soft on terror. But the only people who care about that nonsense will always vote Republican. Based on actions like these, I can only conclude that the party doesn’t actually have any backbone, morality, or liberalism left in it.

Should we really be voting for any party that believes the fabricated War on Terror is the only major issue facing Americans? Can we really keep letting the Democrats get away with this and keep our vote? Doesn’t that make us as complicit as the Democrats?

So many people miss the point of this kind of talk. I have no interest in abandoning the Dems. In fact, I want to do whatever I have to do to take them back. And that comes with a little tough love.

I know the Republicans are the real bad guys; the Dems are merely weak. But yelling at the Republicans and their voters because they suck will always fall on deaf ears. It may not be too late for the Democrats, and if not, we have to scare the sense back into them.

It’s time to form a group of abandoned Democrats. It’s time for us to draw together with a voice loud enough to be heard by our party on Capitol Hill.

I’m on it, people. More soon.

Don’t look down, Dems, but there’s blood on your hands, too

Thursday, September 28th, 2006

Scott Lefarkins posted a list of Senators voting for torture legalization and the end of our right to the Writ of Habeas Corpus. Only one Dem Senator voted for the bill*, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t sell us out.

Alternet has a great round-up of reactions to the news. My favorite comes from Booman:

The Dems have already agreed not to filibuster, hoping the Specter amendment might pass. This shameful cave-in will never be forgotten. Ever. We haven’t forgotten other blemishes on our history, like the Japanese internments, the Dred Scott case, or the resolution authorizing force in Iraq.
[...]
The Democrats didn’t prove they are strong on terrorism. They proved they are weak on human rights and defending the Constitution.

Someone in Scott’s comment’s pointed out that the Democrats are “Republicans Lite,” and I can’t disagree. Oh, sure, John Kerry and a few others lamented the passing of a few hundred years of rights protections with solemn speeches, but what did they do? Nothing. The fear of looking soft of terror has driven the party into total paralysis, and until we break them of it, things will not stop getting worse.

As I wrote Monday, no one will vote for the Democrats because of their foreign policy stances, and certainly not on terrorism. They have no hope of winning the bloodthirsty crowd. Yet Howard Dean and other party leaders continue to talk about one subject only: the War on Terror. Democrats are obsessed with pointing out how much the administration spends on the WoT/Iraq and how little they’ve accomplished. Even new Democratic challengers can’t seem to spew anything else. They offer no alternatives but feel tougher having said that they could’ve kicked more ass for a litle less scratch somehow, someway.

Unfortunately, all Republicans hear is someone trying to sound Republican, but with that twinge of insincerity in one’s voice that comes from not actually wanting to own Muslim oil slaves. There are no votes to be had from that crowd.

All the millions of disenchanted, non-voting, liberal-minded citizens hear are Charlie Brown teacher noises from a group no more likely to represent their real interests than the Republicans. As long as the Dems continue to suck in their guts and talk bully talk, none of those people will rush to the polls, either.

That leaves the Dems with what they already have, which is the group of pissed off people like me, who realize they’re our best available option in a bad situation, and their apologists who continue to enable the disintegration of their identity. And that hasn’t been good enough for some time.

Unless they rise up and provide genuine opposition, there will be no new votes to be had. That makes it nearly impossible to take back Congress or the White House. And that means the police state we just enabled will continue into the indeterminate future.

If you’re one of the Democrat apologists who says we shouldn’t disparage them before the midterms, or that they’re only dealing with the realities of the post 9/11 world, shame on you. You’re playing the same game they are. By trying to make short-term gains and avoid criticism from the right, you’re sacrificing your principles. By sacrificing yours, you make it easier for elected Democrats to sacrifice theirs. And that has led to the police state.

John Kerry struggled in large part because he voted for the war in Iraq. If he hadn’t, he could’ve gone on the offensive without compromise because he’d stuck to his principles. Instead he was forced to call it “the right war the wrong way,” and the flipflopper tag was applied. He deserved the scarlet ‘F,’ too, because he took the path of least resistance in the short term, only to have it backfire on him over the long haul. It’s a microcosm of the betrayal perpetrated by the entire party.

Apologists assume that Democratic criticisms from the left are defeatist or intended to push third party politics, but the sellouts have it backwards. We’re insisting that the party return to its recent roots of humanism and liberal social activism because it’s the party’s only hope of long term success. Those of you who make excuses for the present bed-wetting mentality are the ones sinking the ship, and I’m goddamned ready to throw you overboard.

*Update: In the final tally, 12 Dems wound up voting for this bill. Nice work, y’all.

Rape spam leads to secret patriarchy handbook

Thursday, September 28th, 2006

This morning, I noticed a comment caught by our spamguard:
rape pornrape picturesrape fantasylesbian rapehentai rapegay rapegang rapedate rapeanime rapeanal raperape videorape videosrape

Subtle. With that “fantasylesbian” bit thrown in, I almost missed that this might lead to some rape porn.

I had a feeling the link provided would be [THE LEAST WORK-SAFE LINK I'VE EVER POSTED] one of the ugliest sites I’d ever visited. It was, but it also provided a surprise: it turns out that the patriarchy keeps its handbook at a “rape paysite portal.”

[Warning: This is disturbing, graphic stuff. Proceed at your own risk.]

(more…)

How long till they come and take your favorite blogger away?

Wednesday, September 27th, 2006

Much as I like to celebrate the wingnut administration calling itself a moron, Echidne points out the troublesome inclusion of the term “leftist terrorist” in the NIE report. They’ve advanced the theory that the left could start going all right-wing and bombing shit like, say, a federal building in Oklahoma or something.

ANYWAY, leftist terrorism is now considered a legitimate threat by the omnipotent Bush administration. Once the torture/detainee legislation passes, they can label anyone they believe has a “terrorist agenda” an enemy combatant and lock them away for torture. Remember, they don’t need cause or charges to take your rights away anymore (see Photographer, Pulitzer Prize winning). They’ll probably be able to rape you for shits and giggles, too, if they feel like it.

I’m going to put on my crazy hat for a moment. It’s the one that won’t look so crazy in another few years, once the police state comes back into full fashion again.

As Lindsay notes
, decorated photographer Bilal Hussein had been a target of right wing blogs for some time. They considered his work too close to the action, too full of anti-US visuals, to be anything other than insurgent propaganda. Apparently, their cries were heard, and now he’s a torture toy.

The wingnut blogs also complain about the crazy, frothing “leftist” blogosphere. Lots of us say all kinds of mean things about the Bush administration, which, as we all know, is a gateway drug for terrorist agendas*. Before you laugh, remember that talking negatively about our efforts in Iraq has already been equated with helping the terrorists. Isn’t that the same as having a terrorist agenda?

Or suppose there actually is some random cell of people intent on doing violence, and the federal government breaks it up. What if their browser histories are littered with visits to Amanda’s site? Or Glenn Greenwald’s? The wingnut blogs have been gunning for those two for years because they’re particularly good at blowing holes in Bushchev logic. If Amanda or Glenn or anyone else is ever seen as fueling the cause of anyone who’s even written an email mentioning explosives, I see no reason they won’t be next on the hit list.

People know John Stewart, and Keith Olbermann. You couldn’t lock them up without drawing national outrage. But like Bilal Hussein, other people pave the way for Olbermann and Stewart, stirring the pot or raising issues that eventually receive their attention. Bloggers are a big part of that group, and their work is at least as dangerous as unforgiving photos — which is to say not at all, unless you mean dangerous to the cause of perpetual war.

I am no one. Punkassblog is still pretty small. But people close to me are deeply hated and feared for their uncompromising work and popularity. Every day, I get a little more worried they’ll be taken away. If you are one of the outspoken pillars of the radical left — not people like Kos who stick to the political rules, but someone really agitating for deep change** — I think you should be worried, too.

*Note: this is not true. Please do not kidnap me or frame me or torture me. Thank you.

**Non-violent change! Honest!

You can keep Uncle Sam, I just want me some oil and dead Muslims

Wednesday, September 27th, 2006

Since we were Hit and Things Changed, it’s been considered high treason to question the good men and women who serve as our nation’s government. If they say there were WMDs, then by god, there were WMDs somewhere, and we woulda found ‘em if they hadn’t escaped to Syria. If they say sexually torturing whomever we damn well please is necessary to stop terrorism, we should molest anyone who gives our flag the crook eye. And if they say that the Iraq war is causing a massive increase in terrorist sentiment around the globe, we should… um… I…

Huh?

That can’t be right, can it? Oh, but by now we all know that it so is.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t make sense*. Everything our government had been telling us previously was that this war was a shining beacon for democracy in the Middle East. We were showing the rest of those Muhammed-loving sissies how to set up a manly government. Once they got a dose of the good life, they’d kiss our jackboots, spread their asscheeks, and ask for another delivery of American democracy.

How could a report by our own government’s terrorism experts say our government was wrong? It must be all those Clinton appointees left behind- oh wait, Bush purged all those people. Maybe they typed increase when they meant decrease. I guess they probably have editors on these reports, though, huh?

Wingnuts have been telling us we’re supposed to bow down to the almighty government and fight a constant war against Islamofascism, but they can’t have both anymore. Now that they have to choose one, which do you think they’ll choose?

You guessed it, the war. That damn gubment wasn’t no good anyways.

*If you consider common sense akin to a nasty rash

NFL Week 3 Round-up: Bad wins, good losses

Tuesday, September 26th, 2006

Oh, to be 3-0. Undefeated teams like the Saints and Colts receive beaming rays of sunshine from sports pages and talk radio all around the country. Their players start talking momentum, their fans start talking Super Bowl.

For formerly unbeaten teams that had their bubble burst, though, week 3 can be a sobering bummer. The Falcons and Patriots are suddenly pelted with questions about weaknesses they’d been praised for overcoming just a week ago.

As we look back on the last week of NFL action, two big stories stand out: the Bengals beating the Steelers and the Jaguars losing to the Colts. Each fits one of the descriptions above. The 3-0 Bengals are being hailed as potential champions, and the 2-1 Jaguars’ newfound credibility from their MNF win has been all but washed away.

Both storylines have it exactly wrong. Dig a little deeper, and you’ll see the Bengals win was a fluke, while the Jags’ loss revealed them to be as strong as previously advertised.

(more…)

If you want to win elections, you have to change the talking points

Monday, September 25th, 2006

Today I got a mailing list message from Howard Dean and the Democratic Party. He explained his plan of attack for the fall:

We’re sick of playing defense against a Republican leadership that uses national security to scare people to win elections. We’re not going to be pushed around, spun, and defamed by right-wing extremists and those whom they use to disseminate their propaganda.

Our plan for this election is to go on the offense — to talk straight about the Republican failures and lay out a clear Democratic plan to take American foreign policy and national security in a better direction.

The email offers us a chance to donate money to make this plan happen, despite not telling us any specific ideas on which Dean intends to elaborate.

But you know what? His specific ideas don’t really matter. Whatever Dean says about national security or the War on Terror, almost no one will vote Democratic because of their foreign policy position. The Republicans have been lying about their expertise in the arena for decades, and while they’re actually terrible mismanagers of international relationships and responsible for creating more foreign threats than they extinguish, the lies have worked. People believe the Republicans have the national security issue locked up. Though generally unpopular, Bush and Republicans consistently poll well on terrorism — not Iraq, mind you, but terrorism and national security. We’re barking up the wrong tree.

We’re doing this because, for too many years, the Democrats have let the Republicans define the terms of our political debate. Liberalism is a dirty word, the only acceptable government is small government, we must show deference to the baby Jesus, and national security is the only issue worth mentioning.

Every single one of those ideas is a conservative talking point. We have to play the whole game by their rules because the Democrats refuse to create their own. In Bill Scher’s book “Wait! Don’t Move to Canada!,” he produces quality evidence that Americans like liberal ideas, can be swayed by the idea of effective governance regardless of its size, and badly want someone to address issues like the environment, health care reform, and government accountability.

If ever want to do more than win a few fluky elections against unpopular incumbents (see: Ford, Gerald and Bush, George HW), and if Democrats ever want to regain lasting control of Congress, we must change the talking points. We can win on the issues mentioned above: the environment, health care reform, and government accountability/effectiveness. We just have to get the country talking about them.

This happens 3 ways:

1) We must inject our ideas into the minds of the public. They have to lead off every Democratic speech, every politician’s answer to a question, every party advertisement. We must talk about the present problems in clear terms, saying things like “the planet is going to bake us off its surface if we don’t give it some TLC.” We should also talk clearly about what we intend to do about them, like taxing polluters and creating American energy on which we can depend.

Notice that I framed the energy independence issue as “creating American energy.” This is a bit more visceral and less abstract than the former term. It sounds like jobs and growth while still capturing the idea of self-reliance. We must find as many of these phrases as possible and say them until they’re permanently part of the lexicon.

2) We must dwarf the Republican talking points with our own. When a conservative talks up the threat of terrorism, a liberal can shrink it any number of ways:

  • “Why would we expect a Republican government to fight an effective war on terror when they can’t even balance the budget?”
  • “Fighting terrorism sounds like a good idea until you realize how many preventable diseases and illnesses are killing tens of thousands of our own people, all because they can’t seek help when they need it. That sounds like the real national security issue to me.”
  • “Terrorism? The real imminent attack on Americans is about to come from the planet itself. If we care about our way of life, maybe we should focus a little more energy on not getting cooked to a crisp sometime this century. 9/11 will pale in comparison to what rising sea levels will do to New York, and it’s time someone said so.”

The change won’t be automatic, but if we keep saying these things, they’ll start to stick. Eventually, “terrorism” will sound as ridiculous as it actually is.

3) Find or create new media sources.
Obviously, we have to deal with the mainstream media, and by working with points #1 and #2 above, we might be able to use them effectively, but if we really want to change the way people think, we must find new ways for the Democrats to reach people directly. I have a few thoughts on the idea, but we’ll discuss those later this week. Surely you recognize we can’t let the consolidated corporate media filter what Democrats say and expect our primary message to reach the people of America. A communication revolution is possible; we just have to force the issue.

———

We don’t have much time to get this right. The planet needs our attention badly, and our government is crumbling. If you really believe these things, we can’t play losing political games any longer. We have to get very serious about rethinking how to be Democrats.

This starts by change the national political debate to focus on the Big 3 topics that dwarf anything the Republicans can lay claim to:
-keeping the planet from killing us
-keeping diseases from killing us
-keeping our government from killing our way of life

It’s been proven that most people want the government to address these issues. Right now, though, they have to be reminded. And that’s what we have to fix.

Reproductive rights, LGBT rights, immigration, and millions of other issues must be engaged, but the Democrats can do that much more effectively if they actually control our government, and the way to do that is to focus exclusively on environment, health care, and governemnt accountability at election time.

Xbox 360 laptop

Monday, September 25th, 2006

Break out your mad reassembly skillz:
lappy pic