Rebuilding The Foundation

In the last week or so there has been an ongoing conversation between the ASZ’ers and Public Org Theory about the direction of left blogistan and how to best use the resources, talents and energy to facilitate real change in this country and the Democratic party.

This morning, while visiting one of my favorite stops in left blogistan, I came across something called Blog Call.

BlogCall is a regular conference call hosted by progressive and Democratic “bloggers” do discuss exposes of Republican and rightwing crimes and scandals that deserve national media attention. We invite mainstream journalists to participate fully in each BlogCall.

Each BlogCall features a progressive or Democratic “blogger” who has broken a major expose. The format is a virtual press conference, in which the featured “blogger” will present his/her story for 15 minutes, followed by 20 minutes of Q&A about the story.

Brad Friedman of The BradBlog will be talking about the Curtis/Feeney/Yang vote-rigging scandal on March 8 at the next BlogCall. The first BlogCall featured John Aravosis of and the Gannon/Guckert White House ‘Ho scandal.

While a vigilant, free and open media plays one part in a healthy democracy, the right to vote and have that vote counted is the cornerstone. With the corporatization of our country the right to a fair and transparent vote has been traded away in exchange for immediacy. Having a secret ballot no longer means being able to cast your ballot without fear of recriminations. A secret ballot has morphed into casting your ballot and not being sure if it is counted or if it is counted as you cast it. Technology and the corporations that have brought it have turned your secret ballot into their secret by claiming “trade secrets” and “proprietary information” when asked to open up the voting machine source code for examination and verification by outside, impartial experts.

Velvet Revolution‘s “Divestiture for Democracy” is challenging the e-voting companies to do the patriotic thing.

On February 21, 2005 (President’s Day), Velvet Revolution sent a letter to each of the nine major American Voting Machine companies — (Advanced Voting Solutions, Diebold, Danaher-Guardian, Election Systems & Software [ES&S], HartInterCivic, MicroVote, Sequoia Voting Systems, Triad GSI and UniLect Corp) — asking them to do the right thing for our country!

In short, our letter gives the companies 60 days to take the following patriotic actions: (See the letter we sent them in full and our official statement for more details!)

  • Voluntarily open their hardware and software for independent public inspection and analysis.
  • Provide auditable, voter-verified paper ballots for all votes cast.
  • Assure that there can be no form of networking on their machines.
  • Allow for non-partisan, independent monitors of the vote tabulation process.
  • Institute a corporate policy prohibiting the company and all of its executives from supporting candidates for public office or political action groups.
  • Disclose all data, codes and records from the last three national elections, if requested.
  • Adopt all feasible best practices suggested by a national committee of experts.
  • Do all of the above at no extra cost to their governmental clients with which they work.

If there is any hope in reclaiming/rebuilding a democracy in this country liberating the media and our votes from corporate and party control are battles we can’t afford to lose and can’t afford to sit out.

Monday, February 28th, 2005 by sukabi |
Category: Uncategorized

USA Next is Going to be Sued

It’s all over the place. The gay couple in the USA Next anti-AARP advertisement is thinking of suing USANext. DailyKos started it, according to AmericaBlog, but John Aravosis at AmericaBlog is taking this one to town. The lawyer sent this letter to USANext on behalf of Richard Raymen and Steven Hansen, the couple in the advertisement. Crooksandliars is on the story, and this one is getting ready to explode. I’ll bet 30 more blogs will pick up the story in the next couple hours.

The lawyer the Raymen and Hansen have hired is Christopher Wolf of the Proskauer Rose law firm. Big firm and quite the powerful lawyer. I see this as more than just posturing. You don’t get a big gun like Wolf just to make USANext back off. They’re definitely hunting bigger game.

Monday, February 28th, 2005 by SpinDentist |
Category: Uncategorized

Lynn Swann, Pennsylvania governor

As a Republican? He’s announced the formation of a campaign committee. You can find a biography at, which appears to be the folks who arrange his speaking engagements for upwards of $50,000 per.

Well, first, he’s got a woman’s name, and that’s going to play poorly in the “Alabama” part of the state, where voting for a woman is not something men do well, and those men who do recognize the “Lynn Swann” name as that of a former football star will remember that he’s black. Yeah, the “Alabama” part of Pennsylvania is pretty backwards. Second, he played for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and as Out of Context comments, he’d have to have played for the Eagles to have a real chance.

Finally, Lynn Swann was two years late to witness the immaculate reception. And even that play would be tainted, at least in Republican minds, because it involved both John “Frenchie” Fuqua and Franco Harris. Lynn Swann’s relation to these obvious Frenchmen will be his candidacy’s demise. Of course, even with that huge name recognition, Swann is trailing Fast Eddie by 16 points.

Monday, February 28th, 2005 by SpinDentist |
Category: Uncategorized

Hate in America: Can we Blame Republicans

I think this is a bit of a sticky issue. I’m called to it by Pam’s House Blend, a blog that describes itself as “American. Female. Lesbian. Ethnically diverse. Opinionated. Proud member of the Reality-Based Community.” Yup, Pam’s got an agenda, but if she’s biased I’ll drink that koolaid. She alerts us to Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church’s latest “action,” where they will protest a speaking engagement by John Edwards by attacking Mr. Edwards dead son. Here’s the flier for the event. (Maybe we can raise the traffic over there at Westboro and hurt them by raising their internet bills?)

There is, of course, no question that Phelps and his crew are the scum of the earth and a disgrace even to a Republican that employed hate in attacking gays and lesbians. Phelps and his crew are famous for protesting the death of Matthew Sheppard, for instance, with their insistence on erecting a “memorial.” They even protest at other churches, and often, with the most recent such protest yesterday at Reverend Terry Fox’s Immanuel Baptist Church in Wichita. It seems Fox agreed publicly with something Tiffany Muller, Kansas’ only out public official said, and thus he has earned the wrath of Westboro.

The issue here isn’t that Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church are easily the scummiest and most venal group in America. I’m curious more about what responsibility the Republican Party has in condemning this sick behavior. They certainly were forced to denounce David Duke many, many years ago. This group is easily as sick and destructive to the America as Duke’s KKK, so why do we not hear anything from the Republicans about Westboro, which seemingly is doing its dirty work for them (of course, they haven’t shrunk from dirty work much in recent years — is that the real answer to my question?).

Bob Dole is from Kansas. Why doesn’t he speak out? Sam Brownback (email form), why don’t you speak out against hate so ugly and obvious? Pat Roberts (email form), as Senator you have an opportunity to stand up for true family values, why don’t you do so? Is it really so risky to stand up against this filth that these Republicans fear doing it?

Are Republican values so shallow that these guys can’t even speak out against such evil in their own state, or do they seriously think, through some sort of electoral calculus, that it would cost them votes to take on Fred Phelps? If the latter is the case, then the Republicans are further out in Right Field with the Right Wing Ding Christian Clerics than I thought.

Monday, February 28th, 2005 by SpinDentist |
Category: Uncategorized

Is It a Quagmire Yet?

Suicide Bomber Kills at Least 106 110 115 in Iraq:

BAGHDAD, Iraq – A suicide car bomber blew himself up Monday in a crowd of police and Iraqi National Guard recruits south of Baghdad, killing at least 106 110 115 and wounding 133 148, police and witnesses said.


–  – 
(Photo Credits: Reuters; click on pictures for story.)

Monday, February 28th, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

This Is Your Brain on Drugs

What is it about the middle of the night that makes my mind hum? It’s a great and seductive mystery to me.

I found these for you. Lights in the darkness. Darkness in the darkness. Enjoy, I think.

Hunter Thompson, The Derby Post 1970.

Informant Society

Indigent Makes Legal Mark

Air Jesus: With The Evangelical Air Force

This Is Your Brain on Drugs.

I’m not kidding. Just “light in my head, and dead on my feet”. ;-)

Monday, February 28th, 2005 by Kate Storm |
Category: Uncategorized

Assclownism as Art

I’m all about a good laugh — especially when it comes at the expense of no-talent assclowns. Let me correct that. I don’t want to paint no-talent assclowns with the same broad brush as James Guckert. Our boy JimmyJeff’s escapades transcend assclownism. He has fallen to heretofore unseen assclownish depths, which absolutely assures he rates a unique brand of brush all to himself.

So anyway, I’m doing a bit of freerange blog surfing of the ASZ blogroll, and I run into a posting at Rubber Hose, which in turn directed me to a fabulous parody of JimmyJeff’s current journalistic endeavor. For full frontal impact, you need to:

1) Take a look at Guckert’s real blog,

2) Then, read the parody site.

I promise, you’ll get an evening full of bellylaughs – and that’s before you even click through to the parody site.

Guckert’s one of those kind of guys who really should seriously consider quitting while he’s giving head ahead. I think he’s going to find out who his real friends are now.

Monday, February 28th, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

From the “Coincidence Files”

Mr. Bond, they have a saying in Chicago: ‘Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action.’

Ian Fleming, Goldfinger (1959) ch. 14

I have two stories to discuss this morning, neither of which is receiving much oxygen from the left. So I’ll try to do a bit of CPR.

Last week, the New York Times revealed that a 32 member FDA oversight panel which determined the market fate of Celebrex, Bextra, and Vioxx (Cox-2 class pain relievers for arthritis, linked to heart and stroke problems) was stacked with no less than 10 advisers who had direct links to the pharmaceutical companies which make the drugs. Unsurprisingly, the panel endorsed a return all three drugs to the market. Also unsurprisingly:

…If the 10 advisers had not cast their votes, the committee would have voted 12 to 8 that Bextra should be withdrawn and 14 to 8 that Vioxx should not return to the market. The 10 advisers with company ties voted 9 to 1 to keep Bextra on the market and 9 to 1 for Vioxx’s return.

And in more unsurprising news

NEW YORK, February 21 ( –– The share price of Merck & Company (MRK.NYS) closed with a 13% gain on Friday, on the news of a possible re-launch of the company’s blockbuster arthritis drug, Vioxx.

A cynic might suggest that if one were able to examine the stock portfolios of the Vioxx 10, said portfolios would contain many shares of Merck and Pfizer (which suffered a similar rebound in stock price…). Here’s why the stock rebounded. It had nothing to do with the safety (or not) of these Cox-2 inhibitors, because it’s unlikely that either Vioxx or Celebrex will make a splashy return to the market. Some say the stock rebound had everything to do with a defense strategy, articulated in the form of the positive FDA panel ruling, against pending litigation targeted at both companies for ignoring or suppressing trial data.

In still other unsurprising news from the Land of Nod, comes this report on the dumping of stock by ChoicePoint insiders after the breadth of their information loss scandal became clear last year, but before reports of the security breach hit the news this year:

ATLANTA Feb 25, 2005 –— ChoicePoint Inc.’s top two executives made a combined $16.6 million in profit from selling company shares in the months after the data warehouser learned that people’s personal information may have been compromised and before the breach was made public, regulatory filings show…

Shades of Enron (and a tip of the hat to ASZ reader Uncle $cam for the heads up).

These folks don’t even bother to hide the hubris anymore. This is the corporate culture that the Bush administration has embraced since its first days in office. Speaking of Enron, anyone heard from Ken Lay recently?

Just askin’.

Anyway, I’m reading a book right now, Unequal Protection – The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights, by Thom Hartmann, which was so kindly given to me by Eligere from Noblesse Oblog. It’s quite eye opening and highly recommended for anyone interested (as we all should be) in the culture of corporate malfeasance and the death of democracy.

Sunday, February 27th, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

The Picture of Dorian Bush

Every now and then, there’s an inkling that a columnist truly “gets it”. Regarding last week’s European leg of the Bamboozlepalooza Tour (â„¢ Josh Marshall), Ed Montini writes this morning in the Arizona Republic:

The important thing is that you shouldn’t allow liberals to convince you that Bush’s comments to Putin were some kind of unintended and ironic commentary on the United States. The president said, “Democracies always reflect a country’s customs and culture.” Then he mentioned the stuff about rule of law, protection of minorities, a free press and viable political opposition.

Putin answered him in Russian but I didn’t hear the translation. After studying the expression on Putin’s face, however, I’m guessing that he said something like, “I’m rubber. You’re glue. Whatever you say bounces off me and sticks on you.”

The entire column is a devastating head-on collision with reality for TeamBush. Go read it.

Update, 11:15AM – Attaturk @ Rising Hegemon (among others) points to another great column on the same topic, this one by Maureen Dowd. Jeez, who’s been pissing in MoDo’s Wheaties? That’s two outstanding columns from her in the past two weeks.

Sunday, February 27th, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized

Gimme That Olde Tyme Kansas Religion!

Cub Scout Leader Arrested in BTK Killings:

Rader, a Cub Scout leader who was active at his Lutheran church, lived with his wife, neighbors said. Public records indicate they have two grown children. Messages left for family members were not returned on Saturday, and no one answered the door at the home of his in-laws.

As someone noted in the comments to a previous thread, there’s little doubt on how he voted on November 2, 2004.

Ah, it’s always the quiet ones…I’m left to wonder if Rader and JimmyJeff have more than a little in common…

And what did Kansas AG Phill “Ve Vant Ze Records” Kline have to say?

“Victims whose voices were brutally silenced by the evil of one man will now have their voices heard again…”

Good to see ol’ Phill is staying ‘on message’. Keep clicking them ruby slipper heels together, Phill.

Sunday, February 27th, 2005 by Richard Blair |
Category: Uncategorized
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