Month: October 2004


Take the Votergasm Pledge:

  • Citizen level: I pledge to withhold sex from non-voters for the week following the election.
  • Patriot level: I pledge to have sex with a voter on election night and withhold sex from non-voters for the week following the election.
  • American Hero level: I pledge to have sex with a voter on election night and withhold sex from non-voters for the next four years.

And would you believe, I heard about it on BBC radio?

Marketplace’s Ballot Buck$

One of the best news features I’ve heard for cutting through all the political rhetoric and BS is Marketplace‘s five-minute Ballot Buck$ segments. Each one talks about where Bush & Kerry stand on a particular issue, but rather than leave it as a he-says, she-says thing they then actually talk to economists and other experts to evaluate each proposal, explain what neither side is mentioning and really but through the fog, all in a non-partisan way.

Take a look especially at the last few entries on healthcare, the deficit, and social security.

Fire wings…

I think I’ve found a new toy I want to play with…

SBGI takes a beating

Yow. Sinclair Broadcasting Group’s stock just tumbled by 7.81% today over concerns about lost advertising revenue due to the Stolen Honor flap. To put it into perspective, SPGI’s stock price is now the lowest it’s been in a decade except for a couple weeks in April of 2001. As Lessig points out, that’s a good $60 million they’ve lost in market cap over this.

UPDATE 10-21-04: Sinclair has now backed off from their original plans (along with the plea of No really! We never said pickles!) and the market has responded with an 11% bump.

Bush Campaign a Uniter of Strange Bed-fellows

DocBug Exclusive — For months now, Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis and other conservative Catholics have been emphasizing to their flocks that when it comes to politics, you can’t vote for a pro-choice candidate and still be a good Catholic. While not mentioning either presidential candidate by name (which might put the church’s tax-exempt status into question), Burke’s message is clear: vote Bush in this election, or your soul is at risk. He might be surprised to know a similar message is being preached across town, from a very different source.

Reverend Bob “The Impailer” Simmons is pastor and High Lieutenant Destroyer at the First Temple of Ultimate Evil, which formed in 1983 after a merger between Anton Levey Satanists, the Campus Crusade for Cthulu and the Church of Universal Damnation. The church is dedicated to the promotion of death, destruction, and “all that is evil, corrupt, and immoral in the hearts of men,” according to their website and flyers. Rev. Simmons says he was somewhat embarrassed when he discovered he and Archbishop Burke were supporting the same candidate in their sermons. “At first I thought it was a joke,” he said in a recent interview for Evil Monthly. “I mean, [Archbishop] Ray [Burke] and I rarely see eye-to-eye on religious matters.”

Rev. Simmons, who claims he can’t set foot on holy ground due to “the vibrations,” had to wait several days before a transcript of Archbishop Burke’s statement was faxed to his office. “Our first mass after the news broke was tense, to say the least. The Leveyists were especially up in arms,” he recalls. “It just sticks in their craw to have anything in common with the Catholic Church.” There were also reports that some of the Old Ones threatened to eat Simmons’ head, though he claims this is normal.

After going over the transcript, most in the congregation were mollified if not comforted. “It was just a big misunderstanding,” explains Simmons. “We were looking at completely different issues. Ray is something of a one-issue do-gooder; if it’s not about abortion, he doesn’t care. We UEs look more at the big picture — you need a broad brush to paint the world black. For example, our congregation is very excited about the Federal death penalty and the message it sends about the sanctity of death, and this administration’s stance on the use of torture and ignoring the Geneva conventions are right in line with our core doctrine.” Simmons admits he shares Burke’s support for Bush’s anti-gay-marriage amendment, but is quick to point out his position is a natural outgrowth from his broader opposition to equal rights for all Americans. “That and gays give me the willies,” he told reporters. As for abortion, he says the UE favors neither candidate’s position, as UE church teachings say that life begins at 40.

In spite of these differences, some of the faithless are still concerned. “I was a big Bush supporter in 2000,” says Monica “Queen of the Night” Townsend, a long-time Republican and UE member, who still sports a Bush-Cheney 2004 button painted black and red to go with her eye shadow and long razor-like fingernails. “I’ll probably still vote for them, ’cause of their hate-based initiatives and the war in Iraq and Kerry being Catholic and all, but this Burke thing really took all the fun out of being a Bush supporter, y’know?” John Templeton, her companion with matching black eye shadow and long red fingernails, flashes a toothy grimace as he nods in agreement. “I think it’s great great the way he antagonizes the rest of the world with his Us vs. Them attitude, and I love the opaqueness he’s put back in the way our government runs. But now… I donno, come November 2nd I might just vote for Nader.”

From the funny papers

Doonesbury has been running what it calls the Honest Voices Reading List®, described as “roundup of indispensable writing from conservative sources” (translation: the conservative case against George Bush, as written by conservatives). Since URLs aren’t well-suited for typing from the funny papers to the browser (oh where, oh where has my Que-Cat gone?) I figured as a public service I’d link them here:

Doonesbury 10/11/2004

John Eisenhower: Why I will vote for John Kerry for President by John Eisenhower, son of Dwight D. Eisenhower and life-long Republican (The Union Leader / New Hampshire Sunday News, 9 September 2004)

Doonesbury 10/12/2004

WSJ reporter Fassihi’s e-mail to friends Farnaz Fassihi, Wall-Street Journal reporter (Poynter Online, 29 September 2004)

Doonesbury 10/13/2004

Why conservatives must not vote for Bush by Doug Bandow, senior fellow at the Cato Institute (Salon, 10 September 2004)

Doonesbury 10/14/2004

Local View: Going to war in Iraq was a mistake by Rep. Doug Bereuter (R-NB, retiring), outgoing Vice Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee (Lincoln Journal Star, 18 August 2004)

Debate #2 fact-check compilation

Kevin Drum at Political Animal has written a great little scorecard for who fudged, obfuscated and out-right lied the most in the second presidential debate based on post-debate fact-checking articles. The overall numbers look pretty bad for Bush (surprise, surprise), but the real value is his handy compilation of all the misstatements and links to the fact-checkers that found them. Take a look for yourself and see if you agree with Drum about which lies are important and which ones are trivial exageration.

Broadcast propaganda & free speech

The blogsphere is awash with the news that Sinclair Broadcasting Group is telling its 62 TV stations to broadcast an anti-Kerry documentary, released by the newly-merged and renamed Swift Vets and POWs for Truth. Sinclair will show pre-empt regular night programming, including prime-time, and show the program commercial free.

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo reports that former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt has expressed his “objection and concern” in the matter. Adam Thierer over at The Technology Liberation Front is taking the free-speech line, asking:

Where are the defenders of free speech and the First Amendment? This Sinclair episode should be about the easiest First Amendment case study in the world. Sinclair should be free to air whatever they want, whenever they want, however they want, regardless of what their intentions may be.

He ends with something of a platitude: Free speech for all. No exceptions.

If Sinclair was a website, movie producer, newspaper or even a cable channel I could accept his whole Free speech for all argument. But Sinclair is an over-the-air broadcaster, and thus has been granted a license for exclusive use of a public resource, namely a slice of spectrum, in exchange for providing a public interest, convenience or necessity.

Thierer can argue that it is not appropriate for a government to make such a bargain, and I’m sympathetic to that viewpoint myself. But since Sinclair has long benefited from this agreement and the resulting high barriers to entry for new competition, it’s hard to see the sense in his call for universal free speech — unless by “no exceptions” he means I can now set up my own unlicensed TV-broadcast tower without the FCC coming to shut me down. I find it hard to feel sorry for the lap-dog and all her restrictions, while the rest of us farm animals sit out in the rain.

The Eloquence of Dan’l Webster

As the candidates prepare for tomorrow’s debate, you can be sure they’re sharpening their jabs and rehearsing every trick their trainers can think of. That’s the way the game is played these days, and you can’t really fault them for it… there’s no real point in joining the game if you aren’t willing to do what it takes to win. For the rest of us though, all us bloggers and armchair pundits who keep raising the volume as we echo our favorite side’s attacks, I can’t help but remember the story of The Devil and Daniel Webster. It’s a great read and not too long — if you don’t have time to read the whole thing here’s the part I’ve been thinking about. I figure if Dan’l Webster can put his anger and hate aside when arguing against the Devil himself, how much easier it should be for us arguing with our fellow countrymen.

Then the trial began, and, as you might expect, it didn’t look anyways good for the defense. And Jabez Stone didn’t make much of a witness in his own behalf. He took one look at Simon Girty and screeched, and they had to put him back in his corner in a kind of swoon.

It didn’t halt the trial, though; the trial went on, as trials do. Dan’l Webster had faced some hard juries and hanging judges in his time, but this was the hardest he’d ever faced, and he knew it. They sat there with a kind of glitter in their eyes, and the stranger’s smooth voice went on and on. Every time he’d raise an objection, it’d be Objection sustained, but whenever Dan’l objected, it’d be Objection denied. Well, you couldn’t expect fair play from a fellow like this Mr. Scratch.

It got to Dan’l in the end, and he began to heat, like iron in the forge. When he got up to speak he was going to flay that stranger with every trick known to the law, and the judge and jury too. He didn’t care if it was contempt of court or what would happen to him for it. He didn’t care any more what happened to Jabez Stone. He just got madder and madder, thinking of what he’d say. And yet, curiously enough, the more he thought about it, the less he was able to arrange his speech in his mind.

Till, finally, it was time for him to get up on his feet, and he did so, all ready to bust out with lightnings and denunciations. But before he started he looked over the judge and jury for a moment, such being his custom. And he noticed the glitter in their eyes was twice as strong as before, and they all leaned forward. Like hounds just before they get the fox, they looked, and the blue mist of evil in the room thickened as he watched them. Then he saw what he’d been about to do, and he wiped his forehead, as a man might who’s just escaped falling into a pit in the dark.

For it was him they’d come for, not only Jabez Stone. He read it in the glitter of their eyes and in the way the stranger hid his mouth with one hand. And if he fought them with their own weapons, he’d fall into their power; he knew that, though he couldn’t have told you how. It was his own anger and horror that burned in their eyes; and he’d have to wipe that out or the case was lost. He stood there for a moment, his black eyes burning like anthracite. And then he began to speak.

He started off in a low voice, though you could hear every word. They say he could call on the harps of the blessed when he chose. And this was just as simple and easy as a man could talk. But he didn’t start out by condemning or reviling. He was talking about the things that make a country a country, and a man a man.

And he began with the simple things that everybody’s known and felt — the freshness of a fine morning when you’re young, and the taste of food when you’re hungry, and the new day that’s every day when you’re a child. He took them up and he turned them in his hands. They were good.things for any man. But without freedom, they sickened. And when he talked of those enslaved, and the sorrows of slavery, his voice got like a big bell. He talked of the early days of America and the men who had made those days. It wasn’t a spread-eagle speech, but he made you see it. He admitted all the wrong that had ever been done. But he showed how, out of the wrong and the right, the suffering and the starvations, something new had come. And everybody had played a part in it, even the traitors.

Then he turned to Jabez Stone and showed him as he was — an ordinary man who’d had hard luck and wanted to change it. And, because he’d wanted to change it, now he was going to be punished for all eternity. And yet there was good in Jabez Stone, and he showed that good. He was hard and mean, in some ways, but he was a man. There was sadness in being a man, but it was a proud thing too. And he showed what the pride of it was till you couldn’t help feeling it. Yes, even in hell, if a man was a man, you’d know it. And he wasn’t pleading for any one person any more, though his voice rang like an organ. He was telling the story and the failures and the endless journey of mankind. They got tricked and trapped and bamboozled, but it was a great journey. And no demon that was ever foaled could know the inwardness of it — it took a man to do that.

THE FIRE BEGAN TO DIE ON THE HEARTH AND THE wind before morning to blow. The light was getting gray in the room when Dan’l Webster finished. And his words came back at the end to New Hampshire ground, and the one spot of land that each man loves and clings to. He painted a picture of that, and to each one of that jury he spoke of things long forgotten. For his voice could search the heart, and that was his gift and his strength. And to one, his voice was like the forest and its secrecy, and to another like the sea and the storms of the sea; and one heard the cry of his lost nation in it, and another saw a little harmless scene he hadn’t remem bered for years. But each saw something. And when Dan’l Webster finished he didn’t know whether or not he’d saved Jabez Stone. But he knew he’d done a miracle. For the glitter was gone from the eyes of judge and jury, and, for the moment, they were men again, and knew they were men.

The defense rests, said Dan’l Webster, and stood there like a mountain. His ears were still ringing with his speech, and he didn’t hear any thing else till he heard judge Hathorne say, The jury will retire to consider its verdict.

Walter Butler rose in his place and his face had a dark, gay pride on it.

The jury has considered its verdict, he said, and looked the stranger full in the eye. We find for the defendant, Jabez Stone.

With that, the smile left the stranger’s face, but Walter Butler did not flinch.

Perhaps ’tis not strictly in accordance with the evidence, he said, but even the damned may salute the eloquence of Mr. Webster.