October 30, 2008 archive

Memo to Progressives for Obama

Original article, by Joshua Frank and subtitled What Happens After Election Day?, via counterpunch.com:

Unless John McCain has a bombshell of a scandal to drop on Barack Obama at the 11th hour, this election is beginning to look like it’s in the bag for the Democrats. The Republicans will finally be kicked out of the White House and peace and calm will slowly return to Washington.

Pushback: how turning the tables wins you the game

On the national Vets for Peace list, a gentleman sent out a notice that Washington DC was instituting random subway searches on it’s Metro Line. He sent out a plea for ways to discourage this behavior and hopefully end it, and specifically asked for advice from the people who travel on New York City public transit systems. I am still furious about the policy that went into effect on July 22, 2005 mandating that all travellers on MTA and LIRR transit would be subject to random search of their bags by police, and this was my response:

The ACLU pushed back very hard in NYC and I have not seen anyone searched or stopped in a long time. They instructed people to collect data on the police as part of the pushback: officer’s names, badge numbers, asking them what their probable cause was, exact data on what was searched, search location, were other people being stopped, and whether racial or religious profiling appeared to be taking place.

A lot can be accomplished when you turn the tables in this manner. It’s something best done in person, but sometimes it works online too.

Returning Reservists – Jobs – 60min. Sunday

Reservists Face Rocky Return In Job Market

60 Minutes Report Also Examines Costs Borne By Employers Of Deployed Citizen Soldiers

Lesley Stahl could only talk to some of the thousands of reservists and guardsmen who have returned from active duty to find problems with their employers over their jobs.

The rest can call the assistant secretary of defense directly to complain after he broadcasts his phone number during her 60 Minutes report this Sunday, Nov. 2, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.


Four at Four

  1. Just in time for Halloween, McClatchy Newspapers report John McCain could still win. To do so, everything would have to break his way. “He’d have to squeeze out more support from independents… and hope that enough undecided voters swing his way to help him sweep almost all the states that now are considered tossups.”

    For McCain to win, he must hold all the states that went for President Bush four years ago, which would be enough to give him 286 Electoral College votes and victory. He could even lose one midsized Bush state, such as Virginia, which has 13 electoral votes, and still have more than the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win.

    The NY Times notes Al Gore is to Campaign in Florida for Obama. He will be joined by Tipper in Palm Beach and Broward counties.

  2. The NY Times also reports Days before the election come stark signs of a slowdown. The U.S. economy “contracted in the third quarter as consumer spending dipped for the first time in 17 years.” The GDP is “shrinking at a 0.3 percent annual rate… The impacts of a now-global financial crisis are continuing to squeeze companies and impede investment, prompting more layoffs and another wave of austerity.”

    Meanwhile, the Washington Post adds Exxon Mobil profits set a record in the third quarter. The oil giant “smashed its own record for quarterly profits today, ringing up $14.8 billion in net income”. Their “earnings, at $2.86 a share, are up 58 percent from the same period in 2007”.

    While over in the UK, the Chancellor demands cheaper petrol as Shell posts record profits, according to The Guardian. “Alistair Darling today called on oil companies to pass on lower costs to consumers by cutting petrol prices as Royal Dutch Shell posted a 71% rise in profits.” Shell reported a profit of $10.9 billion, up $6.4 billion from last year.

Four at Four continues with ominous signs of inflation, increasing sophistication of Taliban attacks in Afghanistan, and a bonus NASA update.

The Vision Thing…Part Two

Part One

All visions have to start somewhere, and since this is a vision of how to get from where we are to where we want to be, I will start this one with where we are. We are starting a new century, for one thing. Though we have certainly not started it well. Unless of course we realize that in order for a new world to be created, the old one must be ‘destroyed’ to make way for it. In which case, George Bush and the Republicans (past and present) have done a simply bang up job of starting the century right by ‘destroying’ nearly every aspect of the old, American dominated world, by destroying nearly every aspect of the structure of America . They have destroyed our economy, which once led the world. They have overstretched and destroyed our military might, which once ruled the world. They have destroyed America’s moral reputation, which once the world looked up to. They and their cohorts at Fox News have destroyed American journalism and any notion of a truthful and “free” press. They have destroyed our educational system and decimated the notion that we are technological world leaders. They have destroyed infrastructure through neglect, using the moneys for it in their destructive war. In addition to attempting to destroy the very concept of  science, they have destroyed, or tried to destroy, the concept of environmental protection. They have destroyed eight of the precious years we had to fight Climate Crisis. In fact about the only thing they have not destroyed are the industries and services geared towards serving the very wealthy, Ferrari dealerships, for instance, are doing very well!

In the construction industry, when a structure has suffered major damage, as the structures of America have under the “stewardship” of the Republicans, you are faced with a choice. You can rebuild the structure as it was….or you can build a new structure in its place, on the remains of whatever parts of the foundation are still solid.


When it is obvious, as it is now, that the structure collapsed of its own weight, because of bad design or ill-thought out additions, the answer becomes obvious. Build a new, more sound structure.

Open Thread


Access denied. Invalid Thread Call.  

A Conversation about Afghanistan

My husband was talking yesterday about Afghanistan, how it was about to really blow up. Besides his ardent love of listening to NPR on various stations during his working hours, he had caught a Frontline “War Briefing” about Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Musharraf made a deal with the war lords, paid them off and got voted out of power. Bhutto got assassinated. You all know the recent history.

The real point of the show was that the influx of Extremist Muslims to the area from all over the Islamic world determined to make it an Islamic State has made it volatile.

Here’s where our conversation got interesting.

The Fixer: Taking Back Florida

Wednesday night Barack Obama and Bill Clinton spoke at a rally in Kissimmee, Florida, while a new AP poll shows Obama leading or tied in eight crucial states.

October 30, 2008 – about 7 minutes

Bill sells Barack

In Central Florida, Bill Clinton pulls no punches to seal the deal for Obama

In a late night rally in Kissimmee, Central Florida – a strategic area in the Sunshine State, in the so-called I-4 corridor, filled with still undecided voters – former President Bill Clinton, extremely popular in Florida, forcefully exposed the merits of Barack Obama as the best candidate for the Presidency. Obama returned the compliment, showering praise on the 42nd President and making the huge crowd dream of the golden years of the 1990s. Obama’s stump speech though does not take any chances, less than a week before the election. Obama equates McCain with Bush and does not get into details on how he will implement most of his promises.

Discussion: Voting Problems

State Officials, Attorneys Prep for Possible Voting Problems

With a rush of early voters going to the polls, state officials are preparing for a strong voter turnout and lawyers are amassing in battleground states in case problems occur. Legal experts weigh the situation.

Read Transcript

Watch On Streaming Video

Listen To Discussion mp3

“I really question why we are not like other democracies. Most Western democracies, when you turn 18, you automatically are registered. You do not have to go through this entire process of tracking down, constantly registering, losing your registration if you move, all these problems. You become a permanent registrant in that country.”

Docudharma Times Thursday October 30

Barack Obama Talks To America And Offers Hope And Change

John McCain Talks To America And Offers Fear

Thursday’s Headlines:

Vote watchdogs warn of troubles on election day

Ex-political prisoner wins Maldives poll

Johann Hari: How we fuel Africa’s bloodiest war

Afghans plan museums to replace moonscapes

Earthquake kills scores and intensifies Pakistan’s woes

Westfield shopping centre opening: Tens of thousands of people expected

French assertiveness on credit crisis jars Europe

While Baghdad improves, a family’s hopes still arrested by war

Turkey tightens controls on Internet speech

Colombia fires 20 army officers over civilian deaths

The Decided Go in Droves to Vote Early


Published: October 29, 2008

HENDERSON, Nev. – At grocery stores across Las Vegas, voters are casting their ballots, and then shopping for bananas or hitting the slot machines a few feet away.

About 100 people have voted from the windows of their cars, A.T.M. style, in Orange County, Calif. Several busloads of voters pulled up to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections in Cleveland on Sunday, did what they came to do, and then repaired to a church across the street for some fried chicken.

In all its forms, early voting has been an election year hit. Enormous lines in Florida led Gov. Charlie Crist to issue an executive order extending early voting hours statewide from eight hours a day to 12, while in Georgia an elderly woman in Cobb County stood in the sun so long to vote that she collapsed.

Chinese want a piece of movie ‘Action!’

 Thousands of would-be extras arrive at the gates of Beijing Film Studio each year, hoping to become stars or just to generate a little excitement in a tough life.

By Mark Magnier

10:41 PM PDT, October 29, 2008

Reporting from Beijing — When you have a movie calling for 700 eunuchs, it’s good to live in a country with a potential pool of more than 1 billion extras. And this is the place to find them: at the gates of a nondescript compound on the north Third Ring Road called the Beijing Film Studio.

It’s just after 6 on a recent morning, but a sizable crowd is already swarming the entrance to the studio, which has become a mecca for wannabe actors across China yearning for their big break. Most aren’t particularly ready for their close-up — migrant workers with dusty clothes and dirt-etched fingernails — but they’re hungering for a bit of celluloid to counteract a tough, often dull, existence.

By some estimates, 100,000 people land in front of these gates each year looking for infinitesimal roles as policemen, soldiers, pedestrians. The odds don’t favor wallflowers, which prompts many to toot their own horns, sometimes literally.



Banks to Continue Paying Dividends

Bailout Money Is for Lending, Critics Say

By Binyamin Appelbaum

Washington Post Staff Writer

Thursday, October 30, 2008; Page A01

U.S. banks getting more than $163 billion from the Treasury Department for new lending are on pace to pay more than half of that sum to their shareholders, with government permission, over the next three years.The government said it was giving banks more money so they could make more loans. Dollars paid to shareholders don’t serve that purpose, but Treasury officials say that suspending quarterly dividend payments would have deterred banks from participating in the voluntary program.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

Random Poem

Splitting the Binary

Can you learn?

They asked me

if I hunted or fished

choose one

What did I kill

for fun?

I gave my answer

eight years later

I killed their comfort

in dead seriousness

Can you learn?

Too often

the answer

was disappointing

There was danger

in proving

that human life

could exist

could endure

could survive

could even thrive

in between

There probably still is

Can you learn?

It is not too late

Can you learn?

It is never too late

Can you learn?

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–December 14, 2007

On This Date in 1938 …

Many families have a story about that night.

My grandmother used to describe how my grandfather spent the night on the roof of their tenement building, drunk out of his mind, brandishing his old WWI  Navy service revolver.  From time to time my grandmother would hang her head out the apartment window and shout out updates.

“Al! Al! They’re coming! God’s sake, they’re by Passaic now!”

“Shut up and get your head back in the house, will you?”

“Oh God, Al! They’re coming up on the Palisades! They starting to wade over to New York!”

“Will you get back inside, god damn it!!!”

“Can you see ’em, Al?  God’s sake, can you see ’em???”

A long pause … his eyes would have been squinting, scanning the horizon hard, searching for Martian machines the way he had once scanned for German U-boats … his voice drifted down from up above on the roof  … his voice sounded very small, very sober, and very, very scared.

” … yeah … yeah, I see them … they’re coming ….”

He went to his grave insisting that he saw a line of vast Martian machines striding across to Manhattan. You understand: he saw them.

From the Writer’s Almanac:

   It was on this day in 1938 that a radio broadcast based on a science fiction novel caused mass hysteria across New England: Orson Welles’s adaptation of War of the Worlds. The first part of the broadcast imitated news bulletins and announced that Martians had invaded New Jersey. There was a disclaimer at the beginning of the program explaining that it was fictional, but many people tuned in late and missed the explanation. So they panicked; some people fled their homes and many were terrified.

   War of the Worlds (1898) was a novel by H.G. Wells set in 19th-century England. Orson Welles kept the same plot but updated it and set it in Grover’s Mill, New Jersey.

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