Friday, November 19, 2004

Soul food

All right, dear readers, your blogstress has learned her lesson. Never again will she declare her breakaway republic to be a spleen-free zone, the resultant loneliness being more than she can bear. For ever since she asked her devotees to spare the spleen and pass the erudition, she has received not one bit of postable correspondence from her once enthusiastic public.

Today's proclamation, therefore, will declare to be a confection concocted with Spleenda, a low-invective derivative of spleen that is safe for consumption by cardiac patients, bi-polars, bi-sexuals, hypertensives, hyperbolics and just plain old hot-heads.

Her readers will recall that, in the wake of the horrifying results of the presidential election, your Webwench despaired of the fact that the highly articulate outrage of Very Smart People in the upper reaches of medialand was actually playing into the hands of the righties with its contemptuous portrayals of the moralists who voted for President Bush.

This is not to say that your cybertrix is not a pot of fury herself. (You'll recall that she almost came to blows over a plate of smoked fish at a Yom Kippur gathering with a loud-mouthed right-wing retiree.) It's just to say that those of our kind need to exercise caution until we've arrived at a sound messaging strategy for selling the values of peace, love and understanding (isn't there something about those in the New Testament?), not to mention affordable health care, solvent Social Security, and the notion of a government constructed of the people's money for the public good, not for corporate profits.

As any good shrink will tell you, rage is often the expression of sadness, and vice versa. When infuriated in settings deemed inappropriate for female anger, women tend to cry. In grief, men often rail. In our current dilemma, your emotionally androgynous blogstress sees grief as the higher form of expression, and none has expressed it better than Hendrik Hertzberg in last week's New Yorker:

Here in the bluest borough of the bluest city of the bluest state in all our red-white-and-blue American Union, it has not been a happy week.

In his characteristically elegant cadence, Hertzberg guides us down his river of tears at a gliding, not furious, pace, explaining without name-calling the phenomena that confound us blue-staters about the vaunted religious vote for Bush:

In voting for a party that wants to tax work rather than wealth, that scorns thrift, that sees the natural world not as a common inheritance but as an object of exploitation, and that equates economic inequality with economic vitality, they have voted against their own material (and, some might imagine, spiritual) well-being. The moral values that stirred them seem not to encompass botched wars or economic injustices or environmental depredations; rather, moral values are about sexual behavior and its various manifestations and outcomes, about family structures, and about a particularly demonstrative brand of religious piety.

The piece is hardly humorless; in describing how certain types of religious trust Bush's impulsive leadership style because of a belief in the president's anointment by the Creator, Hertzberg refers to W's ruler as "Almight Gut". (Nice play, by the way, on the German...)

The consolidation of power into the executive branch provides the essay's closing shot, with an ominous insinuation of a Constitution nearly broken:

The system of checks and balances has broken down, but the country remains divided—right down the nonexistent, powerless middle.

Read Hertzberg's "Talk of the Town" Comment

If, like your net-tête, you just can't get enough of Hertzberg, check out this pithy interview with Susan Q. Stranahan of Columbia Journalism Review's Campaign Desk:

Stranahan: Do you think that the national media (concentrated in Blue States) can ever hope to understand the motivations of this segment of the population, or is the cultural divide just too great?

Hendrik Hertzberg: I guess we'll find out. Even as we speak, explorers commissioned by the Blue Media are trying on pith helmets and khaki shorts, readying themselves for the trek into the Heartland of Darkness, with nothing but a tattered copy of
What's the Matter with Kansas? to guide them. I wish them, you should excuse the expression, Godspeed.

Read Stranahan's interview with Hertzberg

Now, your Webwench's point in all of this, dear reader, is not to simply delight her readers with the utterances of an outstanding writer. It is to say, here is the way to vent. We can't all write with the grace of Hertzberg--yeah, we got dat--but we can part our curtain of rage to risk the exposure of our souls to this harsh reality. It will hurt a bit. But without taking the risk of that pain, our souls will retreat as the power-mongers soldier on. And what a terrible sin that would be.

NOTE: In his list of daily reads of which he speaks to Stranahan, Hertzberg neglects to mention Your blogstress is certain that this was a mere oversight.

Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Spleen-free zone

Over the course of the last week, your blogstress has received all manner of angry, amusing and rueful missives and graphics from her faithful readers. Bai Lon, our beloved White Dragon, was the first to send the now-famous "Jesusland" map (admittedly funny); Beltway Breaker sent some witty screeds from the London Daily Mirror, the fabulous Frankie G. (your blogstress's partner in musical crimes) passed on a vast array of visual gags and expressions. Others sent evidence of rage and frustration, as well.

Though the impulse to post on these was strong, and your Webwench went so far as to request links to much of the amusing material, in the end she refrained, momentarily obeying the Victoria's Secret angel on her shoulder who whispered, "What does this do for us?"

There being no shortage of cyberspace available, indeed designed, for the venting of spleen, your cybertrix has declared, for the time being, her breakaway republic to be a spleen-free zone, so that she and her readers might turn their focus to this question: What do we do now?

While our rage fills us with an instantaneous sense of power when expressed, it is a self-depleting sort of power that is not terribly productive. True empowerment will come from imagining new ways of moving in the world, new ways of marketing our values and new ways of expressing the democratic impulse.

Now, don't mistake your blogstress for some blissfully serene creature. She is plenty pissed off. But in listening to all of the brilliant, pissed-off people she loves--such as the inimitable Maureen Dowd--growling in the upper reaches of the media about ill-educated religious nuts having delivered the presidency to George Bush, she can't help but think that such expressions only play into the opponents' hands. (Look at those godless media elites!)

Karl Rove's declaration of the religious right as having delivered the victory serves three purposes: it pays back the right by playing to its leaders' vanity, it attests to Rove's own "brilliance" as a strategist for having focused on that base since 2000 and, most importantly, it drives liberals to frothing distraction at the thought of creationists owning the White House.

None of this is to say that the GOP's focus on the religious right as the source of its margin of victory is a fable; your Webwench has been warning of just such a prospect for more than a decade. (See the December 1995 Mother Jones, "Power Preying," your écrivaine's primer on the right's plan for dominion.) But it's not the whole story of this election. There's the polling place shenanigans, Democratic ineptitude in expressing moral values (what is liberalism if not a set of moral values?) and timidity in owning up to liberal values, and poor strategy in responding to scurrilous attacks.

Today, in a thinly veiled but welcome power-grab, Andrew Stein of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) launched a page on the SEIU Web site called Unite to Win, asking unionists to examine the state of the labor movement and suggest improvements. While your net-tête entertains some anxiety over the upheaval already begun within liberal establishments, indeed a change is needed, and it's a-gonna come.

So let the soul-searching begin. And let the artists, the writers, the musicians, the thinkers show the world how imagination can fuel the revolution.

Send in your ideas.

Sphere: Related Content

Monday, November 08, 2004

Specter of a family feud

As Arlen Specter (R-Penn.), upon winning his fifth term to the U.S. Senate, prepared to assume the chairmanship of the chamber's powerful Judiciary Committee, he let it be known that he was in no mood to pussyfoot around.

When asked about the kind of jurists likely to ascend to the Supreme Court, Specter said, "When you talk about judges who would change the right of a woman to choose, or overturn Roe v. Wade, I think that is unlikely." The media promptly reported Specter's comments as a warning to the president when considering nominations, and the right went nuts.

James Dobson, creator of the Focus on the Family empire, said on ABC's "This Week," that Specter "is a problem, and he must be derailed." According to the Washington Post's Susan Schmidt:

Senate offices were swamped with calls about Specter late last week, and the uproar is "not going to go away," Dobson said. "Republican senators know they've got a problem."

The paper's Helen Dewar and Charles Lane reported Specter's "explanation," issued late last week:

"Contrary to press accounts, I did not warn the president about anything" and would "never apply any litmus test" on abortion, Specter said in a statement. "I expect to support his nominees," Specter said later in a telephone interview.

Believing its own press releases, the ecclesiastical class of the religious right thinks it, not Diebold and Democratic miscalculation, delivered the president's electoral victory, and is using the Specter flap as an opportunity to strut about and flex its muscle. Dewar and Lane report:

Concerned Women for America, a conservative group, issued a statement saying Specter had disqualified himself from the chairmanship and stuck by that statement even after Specter issued his clarification.

It's still unclear whether Specter will hold onto his chairmanship of the prestigious committee. What befuddles your blogstress is that in 2000, when the stakes were much lower for Specter personally, he played nice with the Bush ticket on the issue of abortion. He did, however, wonder aloud whether pro-choice Republicans were being a bit too accommodating, and when asked for clarification by your Webwench, demurred:

On Sunday, Arlen Specter, the pro-choice Republican senator from Pennsylvania, surveyed the crowd composed largely of Republicans that filled the ballroom of Philadelphia's famed Bellevue Hotel for an event sponsored by Planned Parenthood, the Republican Pro-Choice Coalition, the National Women's Political Caucus and several other women's rights groups.

From the podium, he invoked the ghost of Barry Goldwater, quoting the late Arizona senator: "'We have to keep the government out of our pocketbooks, off our backs and out of our bedrooms.'" The line drew a round of enthusiastic applause. "We are all good Republicans," he told an audience in need of appreciation, "and maybe we are too good Republicans...We don't want to make trouble for the ticket."

After he left the stage, Specter explained to me that it had been his own inclination to simply raise the issue of removing the GOP's harsh anti-abortion plank form its platform but not to press it. When I asked if his remarks reflected a pang of conscience over having gone along with the wishes of the Bush campaign, the senator replied, "Well, you heard me. I can't say it any better than that."

Read full story, "Very Good Republicans"

The outcome of the Specter flap should give the politically attuned a better sense of who's using whom. Is it Bush using the evangelicals, or the evangelicals owning Bush? Your cybertrix is betting on the former.

Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Fish sandwich, please

Okay, America, so we're screwed. Time to put on our thinking caps and figure out, what next?

Hey, your blogstress has this idea: How 'bout organizing around something other than an election? The liberals, progressives, and people who just like having some civil rights, did a mighty fine job of organizing folks and getting them to the polls. It would be a shame if, like too many liberal endeavors, that was declared "Mission Accomplished," because we know that the real war has just begun--so strip off those flight suits, kids.

One thing your cybertrix is hearing over and over again from people just back from organizing in the field is what an uplifting and inspiring experience it was. It seems not to matter where they were--Columbus, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, East Cleveland, Seattle--they've all come back in a state of subdued bliss.

Let us not forget how Pat Robertson and Ralph Reed built the Christian Coalition out of the mailing lists from Robertson's failed 1988 presidential campaign. And don't forget our friend Jerry Falwell; he didn't really build anything. He was the front man for the first organization of politicized evangelical Protestants, an outfit called the Moral Majority, concocted by a couple of right-wing Catholics and bankrolled by Joseph Coors of brewski fame.

So let's get ourselves a preacher--someone who can call down the Spirit with ferocity--and paste his face on some smart-but-folksy-looking outfit bankrolled by Soros. Secularism just won't do it, folks. If the other side is winning by boxing up peoples' fears and selling them as religion, the least we can do is gather their hopes together in an open basket, and ask them to partake. And get their names and numbers.

Don't worry; there's enough in the basket to go around--at least seven loaves and a few fishes.

Sphere: Related Content

Friday, November 05, 2004

Exit, stage right

As much as it pains your Webwench to extend the ever-widening platform afforded the we've-got-a-three-percent-mandate-so-get-outta-the-way other side, it would be unfair of your blogstress not to commend Barry Johnson of The Hopeful Cynic for his thorough examination of why the exit polls were so off the mark in the presidential election. Since polls drive so much of the campaign process, this is a must-read for those who wish to consider the mechanics of confusion.

Read Johnson's piece on the polls

Of course, your blogstress prefers to believe that the exit polls were actually correct, and the voting machines just wrong. (Which is actually possible, even in a republic as great as ours.) More likely, though, Bush did really win by his slender margin--by boxing up people's fears and selling them in swing states as religion.

NOTE: Why can't these self-described Christians just read the New Testament, and do as Jesus instructed them? As our friend, the Spiritualist, points out, just look at what he said about homosexuality: a big fat zero. And as your cybertrix points out, check out his instruction on abortion: nada. (And yes, they did have abortion in Jesus's day. Abortion has existed since women started getting pregnant.) So what did Jesus say? Love God and one another. Imagine that.

Sphere: Related Content

We're not in Pasadena anymore

WASHINGTON, D.C.--This morning, 9:00 a.m., intersection of North Capitol and D Streets, NW:

On a bicycle, a sixty-something lady in a billowy raincoat of Wedgewood blue, pedaling away in navy-blue nylons and matching pumps. Nice legs.

Sphere: Related Content

Muddling through

Our friend Mallemaroking sends this note of encouragement:

Somehow, we will muddle through this. I love this country to the depths of my soul and I refuse to believe that BushCo is what we are about. We will sail to a better place and fulfill the opportunity that was given us. Of this, I have no doubt.

Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, November 04, 2004

A bit behind

WASHINGTON, D.C.--Please forgive, dear readers, your delinquent cybertrix for being a bit behind the eightball in posting all your brilliant comments. You all wrote with such a fury, and your Webwench is presently not up to doing much more than lolling about the Oppo Factory in her cat suit. Do bear with.

Sphere: Related Content

Denial is bliss

From your blogtress's good friend, Deep South (who had the misfortune of lending his well-muscled form to one of your Webwench's many ill-planned moves between apartments), comes this:

As of today, November 3, 2004, my life is proceeding along happily with the assumption that President Bartlett (a.k.a. Martin Sheen) retains control of the White House. I can rest assured that he will use force abroad only as a last resort, that he will attempt to unite the country, that he will maintain a balanced budget, and that he is acutely aware of history and the true dynamics that drive the world.

I will get my news only from NBC on Wednesdays, at 9:00-10:00 p.m.

Denial is bliss.

Deep goes on to rhetorically ask whether reality could really be that much worse than his alternate televised universe, only to arrive at the conclusion that, well, it could--and probably would--be, but only should he wish to marry the man of his dreams ("I'd have to FIND one first, right?" he adds), drive a gas-guzzling car, or:

* I didn't want my grandchildren to pay off a multi-trillion dollar debt
[but since I don't have any grandkids, what the hey?]

* I get on Ashcroft's radar

* I breathe the air

Hey, Deep, word is that Ashcroft's resigning, so there's one off your list. And just hold your breath, would ya?

Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Hope & other things

AMTRAK 79, BALTIMORE, MD.--"Remember, they're not done counting in Ohio," said the beautiful young man who drove your blogstress to the Trenton train station this morning in the hotel van. "Keep hope alive," he added, as he handed your Webwench her bags.

Your cybertrix has begun to wonder whether hope isn't a pursuit best suited to the young. While she refuses to embrace cynicism (though she has been guilty of periodic dalliances with that cad), a sense of weary sadness so fills her being that she finds it difficult to feel much of anything else.

Your écrivaine would feel less depleted, she thinks, had the president ever given her reason to believe that he had the humility to read the fact of the evenly-divided electorate as something less than a mandate for his earth-raping, pocket-picking, Constitution-mangling, innocent-killing agenda. And his deployment of the politics of trauma in his own cause--his blatant exploitation of the 9-11 horror and the damage it caused to the psyches of so many Americans--is something for which your blogstress will no doubt spend pounds of candle wax and countless hours kneeling at the feet of her pagan deity in order to experience only brief moments of forgiveness for the deeds of the commander-in-chief. Yet grace, like joy, tends to run that way: in glimmering, fleeting manifestations that can offer years of sustenance in a single moment, if only we are willing to share the fruits of the feast..

So, here's to hope...and faith...and charity. May we hold fast to one another.

Sphere: Related Content

An onrushing train

From our dear friend, the Composer, comes this:

Well, I feel the wind knocked out of me: it feels like an onrushing train--coming toward me. However wonderful it is to know so many people voted in this election, the results are horrifying....If I were a theist, I'd pray for interesting and effective art.

Sphere: Related Content

Blogstress signing off for the night

TRENTON, N.J.--Not having slept for days, and only fitfully for weeks, your cybertrix is calling it a night, in order to actually make an 8:00 a.m. train back to our nation's capital.

Hang in there, America. We'll figure it out.

Sphere: Related Content

Edwards speaks;
we're waiting it out

"We have waited four years for this victory, and we can wait one more night," Edwards told a weary crowd in Boston.

Rather and Ed Bradley say it could be as many as 10 days before Ohio is decided, since the election's outcome may be decided by the provisional ballots delivered by the African-American wards of Cleveland and Cincinnatti. Why so many provisionals there? Republican challengers at polling places, it seems.

Looks like Iowa is another cliffhanger.

Sphere: Related Content

Lawyers, lawyers, lawyers

TRENTON, N.J.--Josh Marshall is keeping watch on what he calls Republican delaying tactics in Ohio, a story he says the media are ignoring (like so many others).

Read Marshall on Ohio

Your blogstress was told by a poll-watcher on the ground in Columbus (on what is now yesterday) that the president's inpromptu visit to his Columbus headquarters at noon on Election Day served to shut down a number of streets in a Democratic ward.

Because the Columbus drop-in was billed, not as a campaign appearance, but as a visit to thank his Columbus volunteers, the media apparently refrained from noting Mr. Bush's violation of a long-standing tradition in presidential politics: no politicking on Election Day after the polls open. But what do you want from a guy who thinks the Constitution was made to be broken?

Sphere: Related Content

Live free or die

TRENTON, N.J.--Guess they're not loving that U.S.A. Patriot Act up there in libertarian heaven, otherwise known as New Hampshire.

Rather points out that New Hampshire is the first state tonight to go a different way than it did in 2000, and it went for Kerry.

Nonetheless, it looks as though a Kerry victory is becoming ever less likely.

Sphere: Related Content

Coors not so Golden in Colorado

TRENTON, N.J.--Well, the Senate may remain in Republican hands, the House definitely will, and the White House is lookin' mighty red at this late hour. In this distressing environment comes this bit of good news: Coors is goin' down in his bid to become a U.S. senator from Colorado.

It's hard to get much more hypocritical than the Coorses of Golden, Colorado. The brewing dynasty provided more than seed money for the religious right (they basically bankrolled Paul Weyrich and his Heritage Foundation) and continue to embrace that platform, all the while courting gay male patrons by sponsoring gay festivals (leather parties and the like) that feature some activities which, in the the lock-down minds of morally superior righties, should ensure the imprisonment of the participants, if not their death by stoning.

Sphere: Related Content

You say you want a revolution

The smoldering Gang of One responds to your blogstress's post labeled Apocalypse:

Ché was a medical school student; Castro, a minor league baseball player; Pancho Villa (née Doroteo Arango), a cattle rustler; Emiliano Zapata, a humble farmer; Mao was a peasant; Lenin was a lawyer. Hitler was the only "revolutionary" who considered himself an artist.

Well, probably not the only one (your cybertrix comes to mind)--just the only one among the smoldering Gang's selected group. Intriguing nonetheless.

Sphere: Related Content

Cleveland rocks?

TRENTON, N.J.--Looks like Ohio will be decided by the county in which Cleveland resides, a single Midwestern county could determine the outcome of the election if the verdict goes negative for Kerry. They all say that he can't win without Ohio, and they're still counting votes in Cuyahoga County--and they figure to be doing so until about 4:00 a.m.

From an election-night party in Washington, D.C., the Internationalist informed your cybertrix hours ago (10:55, to be exact) that it would be all about Ohio.

About the chance of the election being decided before daybreak, Rather said to Shieffer: "I used to say that if a frog had side pockets, he'd carry a handgun."

Your blogstress is not sure what that means, but you gotta hand it to these old guys girding their loins for an all-nighter while your more youthful Webwench finds herself fading.

Sphere: Related Content

It all comes down to Ohio

TRENTON, N.J.--Dan Rather to Kerry Communications Director Joe Lockhart: "I know you'd rather walk through a furnace in a gasoline suit than lose Ohio."

This is why Rather is still worth watching on election nights. The forced folkisms are at least amusing, giving the viewer a reason to suffer through all the mathematical electoral-vote scenarios run across the television screen. Your blogstress's favorite harkens back to 1992, when Rather referred to Ross Perot as someone regarded by some folks as being "half a bubble off plumb."

Sphere: Related Content

Less than scintillating

TRENTON, N.J.--Here at Kerry's New Jersey election-night headquarters (Marriott Trenton Yard), the energy is pretty low. True, the state was called early in the evening, after weeks of yo-yo polls that yielded an exhausted sense of relief among the troops once the dead-heat surveys were handily defied.

As your cyberscribe blogs, a hard-core group surrounds a large-screen TV in a hotel lounge, fretting and subdued--in fact, exuding a sense of quiet so uncharacteristic of the local culture so as to be downright odd.

Earlier in the evening, Governor-not-elect Richard J. Codey* addressed the crowd, seeming like a nice man--which, in New Jersey politics, could account for the perplexed silence of the partisans herein.

*Readers will recall the resignation of New Jersey Governor James McGreevey, effective November 15th, which propels the ascendence of the state Senate president to the governor's mansion. McGreevey, who resigned in the midst of a patronage scandal that involved either a gay lover or harassment victim, depending on whom one believes (about the harassment or consensuality--we're quite certain about the patronage), was noticably absent tonight.

Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Technical difficulties

TRENTON, N.J.--Drat! Your blogstress just learned that nothing she had posted earlier actually published until now! And it's f'n Election Day (Jersey dialect). Although your blogstress published no witticisms of her own, she had published a heartfelt missive from the smoldering Gang of One, and her own little set piece about a set-to on a Washington, D.C., bus. Really, really she did!

Sphere: Related Content

Blogging alone

TRENTON, N.J.--From Douggie, the Real Estate Maven comes this:

OK, so you left the epicenter of political power to go to New Jersey on one of the biggest political days in years. What gives, what are you not telling us, do I dare ask did you leave town to be with some one else?

So, back to the matter at hand: it is 9:30 at night and no witty writings, hmmmmmmm?

Well, yes, your blogstress has been quite remiss (bad blogstress!) in not, as yet, issuing the witticisms promised in an earlier post.

And while Douggie clearly has a lascivious imagination when it comes to your Webwench's personal life, alas, the cause of the absent witticisms had to do with your cybertrix's pesky day job, the cause of her Jersey soujourn.

And so, the panic scenario your écrivaine had envisioned came not to pass in your net-tête's homeland, as the more prescient had predicted. Karen, Executrix of Jersey, comes to mind. Earlier, a voice mail was left by the Executrix, who said:

I spent the whole day at an elementary school in [Union County town], handing out Kerry flyers, and I can tell you that there's no way in hell Bush is going to win in New Jersey.

And right she was. Voter turnout in New Jersey, said the Executrix, was approaching an unheard-of 70 percent, and in Linden, turnout at 3:00 p.m. equalled the turnout yielded in 2000 at 7:00 p.m.

And so the race drags on, the big story being Ohio, Florida and the upper Middle West, while your cyberscribe blogs alone in a Trenton hotel room. Oh, fate, cruel fate!

Sphere: Related Content

Interesting times

TRENTON, N.J.--From the smoldering Gang of One comes this:

Blogstress knows I am a member of the opposing camp, and we have had our donnybrooks regarding the liberal camp versus the conservative horde. But I am not here to shill for my man, nor pick a fight with those loyal to the challenger. I suppose I am here as an American. An American pained by the sharp divisions in our nation. I am distressed that we have come to such blows and to such horrific mudslinging. I recall in the last election so-called celebrities vowing to move to Paris or some other imagined haven were George W. Bush to become POTUS. I cannot understand this mindset. To me, that is sullen, immature and selfish. Only spoiled children turn their backs on their siblings.

It is possible that John F. Kerry wins tonight. If he does, he will still be my president. I may disagree with his philosophy. I may have serious issues with his agenda. But it is the Office that I cannot turn my back on. If Kerry wins, I can only wish him Godspeed, and that he truly does what is necessary to protect us all, and honor his obligation of defending the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

In the event the incumbent is voted out of office, certainly I will be disappointed. But I will believe that Kerry has the chance to rise to the occasion, and demonstrate those characteristics that mark leaders of men and women in trying times. I may not be a complete believer in Mr. Kerry but I am, without question, a believer in the goodness of this country.

Sphere: Related Content


WASHINGTON, D.C.--His name, he said, was Apocalypse, a rather improbable appellation for this plump, baby-faced young man of maybe 19 or 20. What occasioned the conversation was your blogstress's "I Voted" sticker, tentatively laid on the collar of her fabulous black leather jacket, which he noticed as she sat herself down across the aisle from him on the number 96 bus. "You did that," he said. Your Webwench looked around. The man in the wheelchair who had gotten on the bus just ahead of your cybertrix fumbled around a minute in his wallet, proudly producing his own sticker. A further scan of the passengers revealed most wearing the cute little stickers. Most were African-American. Apocalypse appeared to be of mixed heritage, his dreads, about the thickness of the wool used for baby sweaters, were bleached to a soft gold that matched his perfectly smooth skin; his eyes a merry shape and blue-green.

"Well, did you?" your cybertrix asked. Well, no, he hadn't, he said. "See, now, we need you young people," your net-tête said, sounding uncharacteristically something like her actual age.

"I just need to get my music and my writing out there," he replied.

Your blogstress agreed that artists nearly always comprise the vanguard of any revolution, but they are also society's most vulnerable activists, she explained. "Especially artists of color," she added, before her eyes landed on her own very pale hands and she wondered if she hadn't overstepped.

The conversation took off from there, ranging from Christ being the true leader (Apocalypse), you're gonna wind up fighting in a war (blogstress); people died for you, how dare you not vote (educated 50-something black woman); ain't no talkin' to you (working-class 50-something black woman).

Finally, the driver could take it no more. "Isn't anybody hearing what God is saying?!" he yelled. He was about 60, and African-American himself. "It's simple; it's about good and evil. Look beyond yourselves! This ain't about you; it's about the world.

"When I get some form and they ask all that stuff--race, ethnicity, what-have-you," he continued, "I cross it out and write Earth Man--'cause I'm a man, and God put me here on this earth. That's why we're here--to take care of this earth. And if this thing don't go right, it's gonna be hell on earth. And that's the right word--hell."

Your Webwench exited the bus, chastened.

Sphere: Related Content

Monday, November 01, 2004

Change of venue

It just gets better and better. Fate is taking your blogstress tomorrow evening to chronicle the election returns from Trenton, New Jersey. ("Trenton Makes, the World Takes," say the big, block letters mounted to the side of a bridge that spans the Delaware River.) So your Webwench will be making blog in Trenton, from which the world will take countless witticisms, no doubt.

Sincerest apologies are issued by your cybertrix to those who had planned to wander through the Oppo Factory to be part of the blogstressing experience; your net-tête swears she'll make it up to you (though some are likely to get more made than others).

So send those e-mails, and she'll endeavor to get them up. Douggie the Real Estate Maven; Nancy the New York Artist; Karen, Executrix of Jersey; Spirit Guide; SallieSixToes; the Internationalist; Beltway Breaker; Bai Lon, the White Dragon; Play Right; Lips Buzz; the Fabulous Frankie G. (your blogstress's partner in musical crimes); and the smoldering Gang of One--your blogstress awaits your missives.

Sphere: Related Content

Tune in Election Night!

As she did during the debates, your cybertrix will be blogging the election results and election night coverage in real time. For up-to-the-minute commentary, tune into, and join the conversation.

In addition to your beguiling Webwench, on election night will feature a revolving cast of readers, bloggers and whichever characters choose to wander into your blogstress's Oppo Factory.

Sphere: Related Content

Different needs

Though your écrivaine remains eternally mystified by the fact of the occasional sane-sounding voice on the other side, she reluctantly admits to having found one, or rather it having found her.

Barry Johnson's take on the state of the Garden State is much the same as your Webwench's, though, for him, it's a state of affairs that suits his needs. (Mars, Venus: we got some very different needs.) From Barry's blog,
The Hopeful Cynic, we learn:

I don't think John Kerry has a reasonably probable electoral vote win path if he loses New Jersey to George Bush, and I don't think that's out of the question right now, especially on the heels of Osama Bin Laden's tape release on Friday...

It looks like the Quinnipiac numbers out last week continue to paint a bleak picture for Kerry in NJ, and these were from interviews conducted before the Bin Laden tape on Friday.

Read Barry on Jersey

Sphere: Related Content

Must-reads, before you pull the curtain

As your blogstress frets about trauma, Osama and Jersey City, others have taken a broader view of the 2004 presidential contest.

In his National Journal column, Off Message, William Powers calls us back to a time when we could all be afraid together, rather than blaming each other for facilitating fear:

[B]y and large, atomic-age fear was a fear that united. We experienced it collectively, in effect as one big family. The most beloved kitsch images of the time are about domestic preparations for the big blast, and the families depicted always have a generic Norman Rockwell look.

Powers goes on to remind us that the outcome of this election will not cause civilization to end (though some of us wonder if it hasn't already). A welcome corrective to an overheated environment. (What global warming?) Plus, if more enticement is needed, there's a delightful William Shatner sighting in there. (We hear he's recording another music album. And for that, we're very afraid...)

Read Powers's column

From the New Yorker comes an endorsement of John Kerry signed, simply, "The Editors". But with its resplendent opening paragraph, your Webwench can't help but wonder whether it came from the pen of one of the best living essayists working in the English language:

This Presidential campaign has been as ugly and as bitter as any in American memory. The ugliness has flowed mostly in one direction, reaching its apotheosis in the effort, undertaken by a supposedly independent group financed by friends of the incumbent, to portray the challenger-—who in his mid-twenties was an exemplary combatant in both the Vietnam War and the movement to end that war—-as a coward and a traitor. The bitterness has been felt mostly by the challenger’s adherents; yet there has been more than enough to go around. This is one campaign in which no one thinks of having the band strike up "Happy Days Are Here Again."

Read the editors' complete endorsement

And speaking of fear, rage, and one of the best living essayists working in the English language, your cybertrix urges her readers to revisit Hendrik Hertzberg's masterful piece, "Under Fire," which ran just before the Republican National Convention took over New York:

The Republicans are here. We—-we New Yorkers—-hope they enjoy the amenities of our city. We hope they are treated politely by all of our fellow canyon dwellers, including those among us who are alarmed by the performance of the incumbent Administration during the past three and a half years—-alarmed by its mania for shovelling cash to the very rich at the expense of families of middling means, its servility to polluters and fossil-fuel extractors, its reckless embrace of fiscal insolvency, its hostility to science, its political alliances with fanatic religious fundamentalisms of every stripe except Islamic (and of that stripe, too, when the subject is family planning or capital punishment), its partisan exploitation of our city’s suffering after the attacks of September 11, 2001, its transubstantiation of the worldwide solidarity that followed those attacks into worldwide anti-Americanism, and its diversion of American blood, treasure, and expertise away from the pursuit of Al Qaeda to a bloody occupation of Iraq that appears to have done nothing to weaken Islamist terrorism and may have done more than a little to strengthen it. We sincerely hope that those who will inevitably take to the streets in order to register their objections to the above will conduct themselves courteously and will refrain from offensive or destructive behavior—not only because such behavior is ill-mannered but also because it would represent a huge gift to the political purpose that has brought our conventioneering guests to town. It’s nice to make nice, but that would be overdoing it.

Read Hertzberg's complete piece

Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, October 30, 2004

The politics of trauma

Being the blithely arch but lighthearted creature she is, your blogstress maintains an alter-ego to handle life's more somber moments: a mostly serious journalist who writes under the byline of Adele M. Stan.

For weeks, Stan has labored over a piece on what she calls the politics of trauma, a brand of politicking she claims has replaced the much-vaunted politics of fear:

The politics of fear is based around ideas such as these: that
homosexuals are out to recruit your children, that God will punish the
nation for its sins, that the family is broken when women have power,
that membership in the United Nations demands the surrender of our
nation's sovereignty. In short, the politics of fear exploits the
trepidation innate in humans when facing change of any kind, and tweaks
it to a twitchy pitch in times of great social change.

The politics of trauma is another beast entirely, based as it is, not
on fear of the unknown, but the exploitation of something atrocious
that has already occurred, the fear that it will happen again, and the
psychological toxins produced by experiencing the atrocity.

The piece explores the ways in which the politics of trauma have been practiced in the 2004 presidential campaign, and offers a prescription.

Read the full story

Sphere: Related Content

Enter Osama, right on time

Well, it looks as though Osama bin Laden, in his new release, has spared the Bush administration a need to concoct an elevated alert out of archival material. Your blogstress has yet to discern exactly what bin Laden means by this message, but your cybertrix can't help wondering if he isn't operating a 527.

In bellwether New Jersey (yes, your Webwench knows you non-Jerseyans out there are sick of hearing of her beloved homeland), every time the alert meter ticks up to a richer hue, Bush's numbers spike upwards, even on the domestic issues--economy, health care, etc.--on which Garden Staters usually rate him as a slacker. (Do recall, dear reader, that your net-tête predicted an elevated alert in time for this Sunday's papers.)

Sphere: Related Content

Friday, October 29, 2004

Creative visualization

From our friend, Spirit Guide, comes this story on the Guerrilla News Network. Russ Baker breaks news with his interview of Mickey Herskowitz, a ghostwriter of Bush's campaign biography, A Charge to Keep: My Journey to the White House (2000, William Morrow):

HOUSTON--Two years before the September 11 attacks, presidential candidate George W. Bush was already talking privately about the political benefits of attacking Iraq, according to his former ghost writer, who held many conversations with then-Texas Governor Bush in preparation for a planned autobiography.

“He was thinking about invading Iraq in 1999,” said author and journalist Mickey Herskowitz. “It was on his mind. He said to me: ‘One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief.’ And he said, ‘My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it.’ He said, ‘If I have a chance to invade….if I had that much capital, I’m not going to waste it. I’m going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I’m going to have a successful presidency.”

Read full story

Well, guess he was workin' on that vision thing...

Speaking of creative visualization, Breaker sends us this inspirational video, which advocates the Tinkerbell approach (believe, believe, believe) in a really amusing way.

Now, everybody clap your hands...

Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Court back as an issue

The timing of the chief justice's cancer surgery has thrust the issue of Supreme Court appointments back into the public eye--which should have never averted its gaze from this one--just before Americans head to the polls.

Anybody who thinks this election is just about tax cuts, job losses, gay marriage and Iraq (as if those weren't enough) will hopefully be shocked back to reality.

More than anything, this election is about the Constitution of the United States, and whether or not that gorgeous Enlightment document* will survive the age of Chaos Theory.

Anyone who doubts the breadth of this proposition should contemplate this specter: Justice John Ashcroft.

NOTE: You may have to first obtain your free day pass in order to get the Ashcroft link to work. Well worth the extra clicks.

*Gorgeous Constitution--In form, the girl is clearly stacked. In short, it's the Consitution's shape, its form, that has allowed it transcend the limitations of its framers. If ever the Divine Hand shaped a piece of literature, it was at a little convention in Philadelphia. There's lots of good content, too, of course, except for the part about who gets to vote, and who's less than a full person.

Sphere: Related Content


So glad to hear that the democratic party is ready to pull out all the stops to win Arkansas's six electoral votes, according Ryan Lizza's Campaign Journal at The New Republic Online:

ARKANSAS REALLY IN PLAY?: The DNC is buying ads, and Clinton will be there Sunday, according to The Arkansas Times's blog:

Terry McAuliffe, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, just held a conference call with Arkansas media to announce a $250,000 television ad buy for Arkansas...

McAuliffe also confirmed that Bill Clinton will visit Arkansas on Sunday afternoon for a campaign event, although the details have not been finalized. He said it will be Clinton's last campaign stop in 2004 -- the former president will return to to his home in New York from Arkansas.

Hey, Bill, think ya could manage a swing through Jersey on your way back to Chappaqua? Not that those 15 Northeastern electoral votes mean as much as six big, fat, batter-dipped Southern votes or anything. Still, the folks who saw the towers fall on 9-11 seem to still be on the fence. Hoboken awaits you.

Note: Another confusing poll, this one from The Record of Bergen County finds Kerry seven points ahead of Bush, while two others, from Quinnipiac University and Strategic Vision, call it a dead heat. The Dems obviously have absolute faith in their own tracking polls, since they've not put a dime of advertising in any market that would reach North Jersey, where the undecideds dwell.

Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Is it a tie?
Or a rout for Bush?

It looks as though the Red Sox are about to win the World Series, which would be a good thing, thinks your blogstress. Those poor people in Boston have suffered long enough, and besides, your cybertrix is still holding a torch for the Mets--which means the Yankees are bad, bad, very bad.

Your cyberscribe's blogger colleague, Kurt Gallagher, posits that a Red Sox victory would signal a cosmic shift of a positive nature, while the Internationalist, a die-hard Yankees fan, will be sobbing in his beer for the human race, doomed, obviously, by the coming apocalypse.

Which leads us to the topic at hand: will New Jersey tip the scales toward the apocalypse by delivering 15 unexpected electoral votes to Geroge W. Bush? A new Quinnipiac poll calls the race a tie, with 46 points apiece.

Bush, Kerry In Dead Heat In New Jersey,
Quinnipiac University Poll Finds;
Terrorism Concerns, Campaign Visit Help President

President George W. Bush has closed a four-point gap with Democratic challenger John Kerry and the two candidates are locked in a 46 - 46 percent tie among New Jersey likely voters, with 2 percent for independent candidate Ralph Nader, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Six percent remain undecided...

Given four choices, 30 percent of New Jersey voters list terrorism as the most important issue in the presidential race, followed by 27 percent who list the economy, 26 percent who list the situation in Iraq and 13 percent who list health care.

Other polls show Kerry up by as many as eight points, so who the heck knows what is going on in the fertile land that spawned your Webwench? (For an excellent aggregation of all New Jersey polls, check out the excellent site,

All of this leaves your blogstress tearing at her silken tresses, wondering: WHY THE H*LL THE DEMS ARE PUTTING NO RESOURCES INTO WINNING JERSEY?

Notes Quinnipiac pollster Maurice Carroll: "Bush's quick drop in to New Jersey last week probably helped him. Will Kerry and/or former President Clinton stop by before Tuesday?"

Only if somebody wakes up and smells Secaucus.

Sphere: Related Content

Today, Democrats
Tomorrow, the world

From our trumpet-playing pal, Lips Buzz, comes this fascinating BBC News tidbit about the Bush campaign's control-freak tendencies run amok:

Bush website blocked outside US
Access to the site is blocked

Surfers outside the US have been unable to visit the official re-election site of President George W Bush.
The blocking of browsers sited outside the US began in the early hours of Monday morning.

Since then people outside the US trying to browse the site get a message saying they are not authorised to view it.

The blocking does not appear to be due to an attack by vandals or malicious hackers, but as a result of a policy decision by the Bush camp.

Read the full story...

Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Religion is sexy

Seems that while we in the reality-based community can't get enough on the topic of Bush and religion, neither can those in the faith-based community.

On the heels of Ron Susskind's masterful piece in the New York Times Magazine two Sundays ago comes
Laurie Goodstein's assessment
, in today's Times, of the president's church preferences, which she finds at odds with his political expressions of faith (such as queer-baiting and stem-cell shenanigans).

For the faith-based contingent, the Philadelphia Inquirer offers
this exposé
on the role local churches are playing in distributing a video that all but lauds W as the Second Coming. (Well, he his the second coming--of a President Bush, that is.)

For more reverent and thoughtful discussions of the presidential religion thing, your blogstress directs her readers to fellow bloggers Nathan Paxon and Josh Rhoderick, of Nate Knows Nada and Turnspit Daily, respectively.

Sphere: Related Content

Monday, October 25, 2004

More confusion
in the Garden State

"What to believe?!" writes Sallie SixToes from South Jersey, urging us to check out the latest Star-Ledger/Eagleton-Rutgers Poll of likely New Jersey voters. The poll, reported last Tuesday, shows Kerry ahead by double digits:

A Star-Ledger/Eagleton-Rutgers Poll estimated Senator Kerry is supported by 51 percent of likely voters compared to 38 percent for the President--a 13-point margin that would, if accurate, mark Kerry's largest lead this month in New Jersey. The survey was conducted by telephone with 805 registered voters from October 14 to 17, 2004--after the final debate but before President Bush’s October 18 campaign stop in the state. [Emphasis added by cybertrix.]
In the meantime, Quinnipiac reports, in a survey conducted over the same period, only a four-point margin--which is practically a tie when one considers the margin of error. And The Record of Hackensack reports Kerry as being seven points up. Says SixToes:
I can tell you everyone in Monmouth County is busting their butts to make [a Kerry victory] happen. Not so in some other counties, from what I hear. And a trip north on Sunday to the Ridgewood area left this Kerry supporter more than mildly depressed.
In fairness, your écrivaine must note that Ms. Sallie sent her missive a week ago, but your Webwench has been so caught up in her oppo factory, doing the offline work of regime change, that she has been remiss in reporting the observations of her refined readership.

Nonetheless, today's edition of The Record, an excellent newspaper (with a crummy Web site) out of Bergen County, perpetuates the confusion with a well-reported piece by Tom Troncone, "N.J. lead for Kerry shifts when subject turns to terrorism" (reg. req.):

Sen. John Kerry enjoys an unassailable lead against President Bush in New Jersey polls measuring usual election-year issues--health care, the economy and the environment.

So Kerry can put New Jersey in the blue state column, right?

Not so fast.

An 800-pound gorilla lurks in Kerry's path to New Jersey's 15 electoral votes, and its name is terrorism.
Troncone goes on to talk to a number of different people--some regular folks, some pollsters and some analysts--to deliver a hodge-podge of numbers and emotions (the numbers being largely the result of emotion).
In a Quinnipiac poll released last week, 27 percent of state residents listed terrorism as the most important issue in the presidential race, followed by the war in Iraq, 25 percent, and the economy, 24 percent. When the poll asked which condidate could better deal with terrorism, respondents gave Bush a 53 percent to 37 percent advantage over Kerry. [Emphasis added by blogstress.]
And while Kerry wins, hands-down, on domestic issues, there's this chilling bit of réportage to consider:
"Even the approval ratings of Bush's handling of the economy increases with terror alerts," [said Cornell University sociologist Robb Willner]. "That suggests that people have security concerns that can even swamp other issues." [Emphasis added by Webwench.]
How much ya wanna bet on some dire warning for Northern New Jersey this week, say, just in time to make the Sunday papers?

Sphere: Related Content

We have a winner

Phillip Coons, creator of the indispensible, is the winner of an autographed photo of your blogstress in her bustier for his correct answer to the question posed in the endnote to the AddieStan post titled, "Whenever the blues become my favorite song..."

The song is "I Concentrate on You" by Cole Porter. (Despite the quiz's obvious appeal to the gay male contingent of the AddieStan readership, your Webwench somehow expected that a straight man would get there first.)

Speaking of straight men getting there first, it should be said that one Mallemoraking actually was the first to report the correct answer, but was disqualified for already having seen your cybertrix in her bustier, oh, so many moons ago. Your blogstress does, nonetheless, bid him a happy birthday.

Late out of the box was a very handsome queer woman with a penchant for parody, who came in third with the correct answer. In the banquet of your blogstress's life, it seems the ladies have always come a bit late to the party.

Sphere: Related Content

No cannon fodder left behind

From Nancy the New York Artist comes this chilling mass-generated missive, which she received from the suburban public high school attended by one of her very creative offspring:

Dear Parent/Guardian of [name of New York Artist's child]:

Pursuant to the No Child Left Behind Act, N. Public School District must disclose to military recruiters and institutions of higher learning, upon request, the names, addresses and telephone numbers of high school students. The District must also notify parents of their right and the right of their child to request that the District not release such information without prior written parental consent.

Parents wishing to exercise their option to withhold their consent to the release of the above information to military recruiters and institutions of higher learning must sign and return the attached form to the Principal by October 25, 2004.


[principal's name]


Thank goodness, says Nancy, that this innocuous-looking form letter surfaced to the top of her pile of mass-generated mail before the opt-out date.

His dad may have been the self-proclaimed education president, but looks like W really is the war president he claims to be.

Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Stateside military installations
Outta dough

As the vice president evokes images of bombs falling on American cities, and billions earmarked for reconstruction lay untouched in Iraq, US military installations are living on austerity budgets that could affect the nation's ability to defend itself from attack. An AddieStan exclusive.

An item on today's, making note of the fiscal 2005 defense authorization bill awaiting the president's signature, offers this plea: "It is hoped that the President will soon sign this bill into law."

It's difficult not to read this as an understatement when one considers that military installations throughout the U.S. have been essentially out of money since early May. Two memoranda--one from an Army general, and another, obtained by, by an unnamed Navy chief petty officer--express hope for relief at the end of the 2004 fiscal year, which concludes on October 30th.

Ship out of luck

At Norfolk Naval Station, the world's largest naval base, the situation is dire enough that the number of tug boats and cranes assigned to move an aircraft carrier out of port have been reduced, creating a situation that the chief petty officer, reporting on a June leadership conference hosted by the station's executive officer, characterized in urgent tones:

Decreasing the number of cranes and tugs available to reduce port costs. Will reduce to only four tugs. (Four is the number required to get a[n aircraft carrier] underway - so they can not drop below this number.) This may have a major impact on inport and underway times. Already ships have been told they can not get underway on the day scheduled because services not available.

The danger scenario: Ship intends to get underway at 0800. They have a crane and tugs set up for the 0800 underway. Engineering issues result in a delay. Ship is ready at 0930, but crane has moved on to other commitments and no back up exists. Ship is told they can get underway at 1130 the next day because no services are available until then.

Overtime is a complete non-starter.

Seems like a mighty lucky deal that the Navy hasn't been faced with moving one of those things out quickly in the event of, say, a surprise attack on U.S. interests.

Also mentioned in the chief petty officer's memo is the observation that the resulting decrease in "underway days" (days when ships leave port) will create a parking crisis, as more ships in port mean more cars in the lot. The officer, however does see a bright spot in this:

MWR (Morale, Welfare & Recreation) has contracted two full-time tow trucks to tow all those that park illegally. Currently the trucks are working full-time every day, efficiently towing Sailors' cars...On the flip side, cars not picked up after towed are sold at auction quarterly, providing MWR with funds and cheap cars to other sailors.

Other austerity measures at Norfolk include cutting phone lines and voice mail, as reported by Jack Dorsey of the Virginian-Pilot.

Life and limb

Over at the Army's Installation Management Agency (IMA), things are scarcely better. A May 12 NETCALL memo to garrison commanders from Major General Anders Aadland, IMA's director, garnered some attention when first written for its draconian-sounding call for the dropping of certain environmental safeguards. When Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) posted the missive on its Web site, resulting coverage yielded a backpedaling on Aadland's demand for "increased environmental risk" (the Army suddenly found some money to forestall the risk-taking), and the reinstatement of some temporary personnel whose positions were slated for the ax. Aadland flatly attributes the budget woes to the pursuit of the Global War on Terror (GWOT), which in Armyspeak includes the war in Iraq. (One military sage suggested to your cybertrix that the severe tone of Aadland's memo was a ploy to get his higher-ups to pony up some bucks.)

It should be here noted that garrisons house and maintain armored vehicles such as tanks and personnel carriers, as well as tactical weapons. Despite partial reinstatement of IMA's funding, your blogstress has found no evidence that the general has rescinded his call for a reductions of services to on-base personnel ("Reduce/limit [services] to provide only those services essential to support an Army at war or critical to life support of supported population"), and the slowing of maintenance work on tactical equipment.

"Perform tactical equipment maintenance only to funded support levels -- stop or control work until additional funding is provided," Aadland wrote. "Ensure coordination with supported mission activities and region director in all instances where work must be refused."

And one wonders just what this one would mean at a garrison: "Limit sustainment expenditures to repairs essential to preservation of life, limb or property and payroll for on-board personnel."

Homeland defense?

In a week in which we learned of the severe supply problems experienced by Gen. Ricardo Sanchez during his tour in Iraq, and the extreme overstretching of the Army, there is, perhaps, little surprise in learning that , here in the homeland, sailors are losing phone lines, aircraft carriers can't move out of port on schedule, and tactical equipment is being maintained at minimum levels at Army garrisons. It may be tempting to say, well, war requires such sacrifice. But in a season when homeland security is all the rage, one has to ask, aren't these outfits the first line of homeland defense?

Here in America, we've had the grace to use our military primarily as on offensive force. But what if we should require defensive action?

Your cyberscribe asked a civilian garrison worker what would happen at his installation if another GWOT front was opened? "We'd have nowhere to house the troops," he said. "The start-up would kill us."

In rallying his troops, Gen. Aadland wrote, "I know that some of these actions will be painful; I also know you understand that we would not go to these severe measures if we had a choice -- but we do not...All of you must implement these actions now and ensure resources are best used to support the war effort. I need your help to do all you can do to control costs, pursue efficiencies and cost-savings, protect the SRM investments you have already made this year, and mitigate the negative impacts of these cuts to the Soldiers, family members and civilians who depend on your installation for their vitality and life support."

Our chief petty officer chimes in, "No idea on what next year may bring. If war is continued at current pace, these measures may be long-term."

Tax cut, anyone?

Sphere: Related Content

Monday, October 18, 2004

Whenever the blues become
My only song...*

Noting your blogstress's fixation on electoral vote-counting (and no doubt her recent linkage to that novel site,, your cybertrix's partner in musical crimes, the fabulous Frankie G., sends along this soothing visual, instructing us all to relax.


*Readers who can cite the title and composer of the song from whence this lyric comes will receive an autographed picture of your blogstress in her bustier.

Sphere: Related Content

So that's what they're up to...

One of your blogstress's favorite cyberscribes takes issue with her dire warnings about Bush make a play for the Garden State. Josh Rhoderick of Turnspit makes this fascinating observation:

In 2000, Karl Rove pumped funds and advertising into an almost hopeless California to give the impression that the campaign was confident. The idea was to generate good headlines throughout the media: "Bush Confident," "Bush Strong," etc. Well... it didn't work, but now he's trying it again with a minor shift in strategy. This time, Rove isn't wasting any valuable assets on New Jersey.

Point taken, but your Webwench is still less sanguine on account of that dark hole of undecided voters in her beloved Garden State--all 12 percent of them. And the president's despicable speech delivered today in Burlington County was, alas, very effective.

Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Too soon to sigh relief
in the Garden State

A recent Farleigh Dickenson poll puts New Jersey back in the Kerry column, but by a mere two points--which is really a tie if you factor in the margin of error.

The outcome of the toss-up rests with an unusually wide swath of undecided voters, calculated at some 12 percent of likely voters.

As noted in yesterday's post, President Bush will grace New Jersey with his presence tomorrow, to deliver what is billed as a major homeland security address. One can only hope that the voters have the good sense to see beyond the posturing to take note of the austerity budgets on which the enforcers of border protection and immigration law have been placed for nearly a year.

One also hopes that the Dems and the unions get off the denial train about what's going on west of the Hudson River, and stop sending Jersey's foot soldiers to Pennsylvania. We're talkin' 15 electoral votes, folks, that are virtually up for grabs east of the Delaware River. And yeah, Pennsylvania's 21 electoral votes are just as important, but there are plenty of folks from all over the country walking that beat.

Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Yo! Jersey!
Whassup (with those electoral votes)?

Much to your blogstress's dismay, she finds that the denizens of her beloved homeland have thrown the typically Democratic Garden State into play as a battleground. It appears to be a homeland security thing.

The largest number of undecided voters live in North Jersey which, in many ways, is a sort of the sixth boro of New York City. There many people saw the World Trade Center fall with their own eyes, and some 700 New Jerseyans lost their lives that day in the attacks.

Somehow that trauma has drawn ordinarily Democratic voters to President Bush, on the premise that he is somehow better able to protect them and the homeland from the schemes of the terrorists. And this perception could cost Sen. John Kerry the election, since it's hard to imagine how he can win without Jersey's 15 electoral votes.

On Monday, the president will make a rare visit to New Jersey to deliver what is being billed as a major address on homeland security. At this stage in the campaign, the only reason the president would make a personal appearance there was if his advisors thought he had a good chance of winning those 15 votes. The volatile situation in Jerseyland is serious enought to have drawn the attention of the Washington Post.

The dark irony in all of this is the president's actual record
on homeland security. Since April, the Border Patrol and the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection have worked under a hiring freeze, meaning that if an officer leaves or retires, he or she can't be replaced. While offers struggle with faulty equipment of the most basic sort--radios, patrol cars, expired body armor--DHS bigs spend millions on high-tech toys whose purchase lines the pockets of defense contractors.

At the Bureau of Customs and Immigration Enforcement a spending freeze has taken effect that has caused some officers to be turned away at the gas pump when trying to fill the tanks of their official vehicles; their government credit cards were refused.

Your blogstress has deep compassion for what her countrypeople suffered on September 11, 2001. And because of that, she begs them to examine the record, not the posture. Anybody can stroll into disaster and speak into a bullhorn. But someone committed to the safety of everyday people would not have the nation's homeland security enforcers on a budget that deprives them of the most basic resources.

Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Blue suits, red ties, white shirts
and those cute little flag pins

The final debate in Tempe

Sphere: Related Content

The measure of the man

Kerry's on a roll; it's too bad there are no more debates--clearly an arena in which the Democrat excels.

Bush was, once again, twitchy, and got himself in trouble by denying his 2002 comments about Osama bin Laden, about whom he claimed to have no worries. (Note, dear reader, that AddieStan had aptly rebutted this claim within minutes of its utterance with a link to the transcript of the March 13, 2002, press conference at which Bush made that assertion. Scroll to item, "Exaggeration? You decide".)

Torn between tracking down links and making original analysis or commenting on every question and answer, your Webwench chose the former path. Consequently, a number of consequential issues--Social Security, the minimum wage, abortion rights--escaped the wisdom of her pen. So she will do her best to follow up on those matters tomorrow, with special attention the women whose votes the candidates were wooing.

Your cybertrix also received insightful commentary and questions from her readers during the debate, which she will endeavor to address in the daylight hours.

Sphere: Related Content

Who's outta line?

How awful of that John Kerry to mention Vice President Dick Cheney's out lesbian daughter in a discussion of sexual orientation and gay marriage! Just ask MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, or Ben Ginsburg, legal adviser to the Swift Boat Veterans for Bush and late of the Bush Cheney campaign (not that the two have anything to do with each other). According to these two, it was just despicable and depraved for the Democratic presidential candidate to note the vice president's top campaign adviser and beloved daughter as an example of a queer person who apparently knows who she is.

Your blogstress concurs with those pundits who suggest, as did MSNBC's Ron Reagan, Jr., that Kerry's mention of Mary Cheney in this context wasn't exactly a smooth move. Indeed, this sort of thing always makes your Webwench squirm.

However, a Google search of Scarborough's response to GOP senatorial candidate Alan Keyes' assertion that Ms. Cheney was, by definition, as "a selfish hedonist" (see Krazy Keyes' explanation of his comment to your blogstress during the Republican National Convention; scroll to the 7th item, The anti-Obama: Alan Keyes talks to AddieStan about Mary Cheney, sex organs and journalists) came up mysteriously empty.

[NOTE: Readers' challenge--your Webwench, with her undying faith in humanity, would love to stand corrected on this. Send in your citations.]

Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Bob Schrum: Arf!

Whoa! Out of the dog house?

Schrum sighting on MSNBC for spin. As the Internationalist said, "Who took the sock out of your mouth, Bob?"

For those outside the Beltway, Bob Schrum was the the big wheel on the Kerry campaign before he got kicked aside by the Clinton crew when Kerry was lookin' like toast.

Sphere: Related Content


The the question that led to the candidates' stating their personal theologies escaped your Webwench's ears, overridden as they were by the Internationalist's exclamations of joy as the Yankees extended their lead over the Red Sox.

The answers were, nonetheless, fascinating. Here's the president at his most eloquent:

"I received calmness in the storms of the presidency [from prayer]."

But then he went on to say that he had "unleashed the armies of compassion," heedless of the hackles once raised elsewhere in the world when he delcared a "crusade" against America's enemies. (Onward Christian soldiers...)

"That's part of my foreign policy," the president said of his faith. "I believe that the freedom [in Afghanistan] is a gift from the Almighty."

From the peanut gallery came an alarming cry of, "Yes!"

The Yankees had just scored.

In a poignant rejoinder, Kerry replied,"I believe that all things are a gift from the Almighty." Nice move; amazing statement of a comprehensive, universalist personal theology.

"Yankees 3-0!"

(In the Internationalist's eyes, a gift from the Almighty, to be sure.)

As he went on, Kerry delved even deeper, citing not only the essence of Christian theology, but noting the many scriptures and traditions--including the Koran and "the Native Americans who gave me a blessing"--as really being different means to the same end.

As your blogstress's friend, the Jazzman, stated recently, "There are many paths that lead to the same road."

Your Webwench did indeed experience a near swoon when the Massachusetts senator offered this:

I was taught—I went to a church school and I was taught that the two greatest commandments are: Love the Lord, your God, with all your mind, your body and your soul, and love your neighbor as yourself. And frankly, I think we have a lot more loving of our neighbor to do in this country and on this planet.

Or perhaps she just needed to loosen the stays on her bustier.

Sphere: Related Content

Standing tall against the hierarchy

When asked about the unconscionable cadre of Roman Catholic bishops who are all but instructing their flocks not to vote for Kerry, the Massachusetts took no bait but brooked no bitterness, with the simple response that he did not agree with the bishops' position.

What a change in perception from even the last presidential election. It seems that someone seems to have gotten the message--unlike much of the media--that there is no "Catholic vote," nor has there been one for some time.

For at least 15 years, Catholic voters have split about the same as the general population on the subject of abortion, and most other subjects, for that matter. It's all about class and geography--not the ethno-religio thang.

Sphere: Related Content

Calling all blimps

The Internationalist got all excited--alas, not by your blogstress's fetching attire, but by the president's mention of unmanned vehicles tracking illegal immigrants.

So that's where the blimp (item: "Big Peep") went, he said.

On a more serious note, the administration is starving the Border Patrol for human resources (the entire Department of Homeland Security is under a hiring freeze) while spending big bucks on unmanned surveillance drones. But, as one sage told your blogstress, "A drone never made an arrest."

Sphere: Related Content

The tie that binds

Our dear friend, the Internationalist, who is wandering between your your blogstress's oppo factory and another television (torn 'twixt the Yankees' contest against the reviled Red Sox and the Arizona presidential slugfest) ambles to his laptop, wine glass in hand, to e-mail your blogstress from the next room:

What's so damn great about marriage?

Being a single, straight man, he appears flummoxed by Shieffer's question about gay marriage.

To this, your ambisexual cybertrix knows not the answer. But she does know the correct answer to Shieffer's main question: Do you think homosexuality is a choice?

It doesn't matter, Bob, whether or not it is. What consenting adults do in their own bedrooms matters not to me. As Thomas Jefferson said about those whose religious practice differed from his, "It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."

Sphere: Related Content

What's with the matching suits?

Must be a Skull 'n' Bones thing...

Sphere: Related Content

Exaggeration? You decide

From the President's press conference of March 13, 2002

President Bush: So I don't know where [Osama bin Laden] is. You know, I just don't spend that much time on him, Kelly [Kelly Wallace, Cable News Network], to be honest with you...

Q: But don't you believe that the threat that bin Laden posed won't truly be eliminated until he is found either dead or alive?

The President: Well, as I say, we haven't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. And again, I don't know where he is. I--I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him. I know he is on the run. I was concerned about him when he had taken over a country. I was concerned about the fact that he was basically running Afghanistan and calling the shots for the Taliban...

Sphere: Related Content


Will our children live in as safe a world as we did? The opening gambit, that. (Your blogstress, who admires Mr. Shieffer, regrets to remind him that people in, say, Cambodia or Angola or Bangladesh weren't living in a very safe world when your cybertrix was but a young Selectric-vixen.)

Kerry's answer was good: question is not whether we're safer than we were, but "Are we as safe as we ought to be?" He then reminded viewers that Bush once said he wasn't terribly worried about Osama bin Laden; that he didn't think about him much. To which the president, replied, "That's one of those ex-ag-ger-a-tions."

Oh, you mean like Saddam's awesome weapons of mass destruction?

Sphere: Related Content

Tune in, dammit!

While watching tonight's big finale in the presidential debate, be sure to keep up on your screen for drole and pithy real-time analysis of the candidates' on-screen antics. As usual, your bustiered blogstress will be cranking out the commentary from her Capitol Hill oppo factory.

In the meantime, contemplate this: If the Bush family has its way, it won't matter who won tonight's debate, or anything else, for that matter. Check out this Washington Post report on brother Jeb tossing out the voter registration forms of African-Americans.

Sphere: Related Content

Monday, October 11, 2004

It's a start

With the Afghanistan presidential election having taking place without a burst of violence on Election Day, fortune has smiled upon the Bush administration--not to mention the Afghan people.

Your blogstress has little doubt that fraud occurred through both nefarious intent and simple confusion, but it's important for critics to understand that A VOTE TOOK PLACE in a nation long controlled by demi-Napoleons claiming crowns for themselves.

Western commentators would be wise, thinks your cybertrix, to drop that line about the Afghans having no tradition of voting to which to refer: the Loya Jirga, a sort of tribal council, has been the traditional instrument of rule in villages and provinces for hundreds of years. Reminiscent of native American Indian councils, the Loya Jirga is a body of elders who determine courses of action by votes among themselves. Hardly a perfect form of government in a nation where women are locked out of governance structures, but nonetheless it does constitute a somewhat representative structure governed by votes.

In 2000, your cyberscribe had the privilege of interviewing two courageous young women activists from Afghanistan who were advocates for democracy. When your blogstress began to wax poetic on the glories of the United States Constitution, she was gently interrupted. Our democracy won't look like yours, she was instructed. Our democracy will reflect our culture, not yours.

Oh. Guess that's a point. The trick for Westerners, in our inevitable paternal posturing, is to appreciate cultural expression in the shape of government without resorting to the destructively patronizing position of blessing, or turning a blind eye to, violations of human rights with the rationale known as, "That's how they are."

If that's how they are, we need to acknowledge our complicity in creating that reality. It was the U.S., after all, that poured weapons into Afghanistan for the purpose of defeating the Soviet Union in that theatre (not an unworthy goal), and then once the Afghans turned the Soviets out, declared that Ronald Reagan had won the Cold War, splitting without so much as a "by your leave." One wonders, did Uncle Sam mutter under his breath as he looked over his shoulder, "have fun pointing those Stingers at each other."

And so, as political opponents of Afghan interim president (and presidential candidate) Hamid Karzai boycott the election, or demand an investigation into fraud (as two or three candidates who've backed away from the boycott have done), it is ours to applaud their right to do so, and the courage of the millions of Afghans who voted despite threats of violence from the Taliban and others.

It's said that U.S. Ambassador Zalmad Khalizad made deals with two who backed out of the boycott. Hey, Zal--cough up the details, huh?

For readers who wish to aid the cause of the women of Afghanistan, or to simply stay on top of developments there, your blogstress recommends a visit to the Web site of Women's Alliance for Peace and Human Rights in Afghanistan (WAPHA), a resource rich in information run single-handedly by Zieba Shorish Shamley, Ph.D., an Afghan refugee from Herat.

Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Momentary bliss

This piece was originally posted on Friday, October 8, 2004.
It was moved for indexing purposes.

It's a perfect caress of an evening here in the nation's capital, with a breeze stirring just enough to make its presence known, the air neither too cool for short sleeves nor too warm for long. Behind the Capitol dome, a sky recently vacated by the sun forms an indigo backdrop streaked with teal-tinted clouds.

In the day-to-day leading up to the Most Important Election in a Generation (or a Lifetime, or the Century, depending on whom is speaking), it's become all too easy to forget what a truly lovely place this can be. The denizens, including your blogstress, can hardly be blamed as they navigate checkpoints and endure surveillence and warnings of impending doom.

To the nation, Capitol Hill is the place where the laws, the kielbasi, whatever you want to call them, get made. But it is also a neighborhood lined with trees and quaint row houses that take on a twinkly glow as evening falls. Those who live far from Washington no doubt view the machinery of politics as something large and lumbering, left over from the manufacturing era--just retrofitted with cyberware. The apparati this election year, however, are found not in some giant sausage plant, but in the living rooms and kitchens of Capitol Hill.

Taking her evening constitutional last night, your cybertrix passed by the home of a senator, the windows of which revealed a gathering that could only have been a political fundraiser. People in blazers and khakis and very subdued suits stood facing a single point in the room, glasses of chablis in hand. The focal point was likely the host giving the requisite speech calling for a keeping of the faith and ponying up. Judging from her own mail, your blogstress can assure you that dozens such events take place every night here, and will until Election Day.

In other homes on the Hill, strategy is debated across dining room tables and whispered in bedrooms. Living rooms such as your Webwench's are transformed into oppo factories wherein mind-numbing facts submit to the propagandist's alchemy to become shocking claims.

Some toil for the preservation of the Constitution, others for global domination, most for movement forward in their own careers and all for the victory of their man. All in one charming little village.

Sphere: Related Content

The town hall (Oh, come on!)
presidential smack-down

Mea culpa

Watching Kerry perform tonight, your blogstress is nearly poised to take back every mean thing she ever said about the senator from Massachusetts. (Note the adverb, "nearly.")

What she has most to answer for is her premature prediction that he couldn't win the election, and for that she is indeed beating her comely breast.

In order to facilitate her self-flagellation, your cybertrix is closing up the blog shop for the evening.

Bon nuit, mes amis.

Sphere: Related Content

Friday, October 08, 2004

Counselor to the president

Karen Hughes turned up on MSNBC as Bush's heavy artillery, looking ebullient, no doubt ecstatic not to have witnessed a second meltdown of her candidate. In assessing the president's purported success in this evening's forum, the former counselor to the president (now counselor to the candidate) asserted: "He's a people person."

To her credit, MSNBC's Chris Jansing challenged this perception: "He looked angry, he looked mean," she said, "[and] he nearly charged Charlie Gibson at one point."

"He looked friendly," countered the grinning Ms. Hughes. "He had that twinkle in his eye."

Apparently what your blogstress saw as a twitch turned out to be a twinkle.

Naughty to be haughty

Watch word of the night: haughty. The Bush spinners--most recently, Karen Hughes--are all using it. They say that's how Kerry looked. And they're a bit right. He's a haughty guy. But your cybertrix is not so sure it matters. If your blogstress was John Kerry (a mind-bending scenario), she would ignore the charge and talk about issues.

Sphere: Related Content

Hillary pirouettes

She just turned up on Chris Matthews' show in the guise of a spinner, a role for which she's a bit too thoughtful. No dervish, she; rather, the senator from New York took a characteristically artful turn.

When asked how well Kerry did on the issues of stem-cell research and tort reform, Sen. Clinton noted the complexity of both of those issues, and stated her belief that the latter could be effected in such a way that protects both patients and health-care providers. The answers to such questions lay not in the extremes, she asserted, but more often "in the mushy middle." Hardly a spinner's yarn.

Her best line: "President Bush [admonishes] Senator Kerry for changing his positions to suit the facts, while the president changes the facts to suit his positions."

How can ya not love her?

Sphere: Related Content

Different planet

Shocked, shocked is your blogstress at the universal suggestion among pundits that President Bush did well in tonight's debate. Perhaps it's the law of diminished expectations at work.

Having spent the so-called town-hall meeting (enough with this euphemism, already) attuned to her inner human rather than her inner wonk, your cybertrix was certain that the senator came across as much more calm, confident and commanding than his plaintive opponent.

Righties will no doubt accuse her of bias, which would defy reason when one considers how much less than sanguine she has been about the senator's chances, and her lack of love for the mature Kerry. (Back when she was young and crunchy, she loved the young, shaggy Kerry.)

Out on her limb your Webwench will stay, betting on her gut, which tells her the president didn't come off well.

Sphere: Related Content

No litumus test

(except for how they interpret the Constitution)

Now, there's an objective test. The president wouldn't appoint a justice who would prohibit the Pledge of Allegiance from being said in public places with the "under God" phrase.

If the Republican House has its way, the president won't have to worry about that, for decisions delivered by the federal courts will be dictated by the Congress. Check out this legislation, which would virtually undo the structure of the Constitution.

Sphere: Related Content

Kerry to endorse Ginkoba

Well, he's obviously doing something to keep all those synapses firing at once. Your cybertrix is most impressed with the senator's referral, by name, back to an audience member (Nikki) who earlier asked a question about U.S. relations with other nations.

Here your cyberscribe must apologize for glossing over much of the substance of this discussion, so distracted is she by the glorious dynamic of the president so supremely p*ss*d off that he's either yelling at or pleading with the audience. (Well, he just got a tiny laugh with his rejoinder to Kerry, "I own a timber company? That's news to me. Need some wood?")

Bush is so clearly rattled by Kerry's relentless onslaught that he's looking less than presidential. But don't get too smug there, Senator. There are moments when you're looking like you're having too much fun batting the mouse around. (A little Botox could've gone a long way on both faces tonight.)

Sphere: Related Content

Practicing their love

The president is speaking once again of all the OB-GYNs gone out of business because of the scurrilous work of trial lawyers such as the one, according to Mr. Bush, that Senator Kerry "put on the ticket."

Here we delight in the opportunity to remind the American people of the president's September 6 comments at a campaign stop in Poplar Bluffs, Missouri:

"Too many good docs are getting out of business...Too many OB-GYNs aren‘t able to practice their love with women all across this country." [Emphasis added by blogstress.]

Sphere: Related Content

Blinky the sputtering president

Bush's head may explode the next time Kerry opens his mouth. Restraining the scowl seems to result in rapid eyelid movement.

"I'm worried," he says...worried about his blood pressure, we're sure.

Sphere: Related Content

A little twitchy

Bush is clearly trying to master the reaction shots that did him in during his last outing against the Senator from Massachusetts, but his attempts at facial-muscle control is leaving him looking startled and verging on tics.

Sphere: Related Content

Channelling Cheney

Bush spouts the line; Kerry takes the tactic.

Bush tried pulling out the line Cheney used against Edwards, saying that Edwards and Kerry only took issue with the war in Iraq after Howard Dean, who stood against the war, began to pull ahead in the Democratic primaries. Kerry, however, took his cue from Cheney's debate strategy.

He didn't directly address the president's assertion; instead he went after Bush on the way in which he prosecuted the war. He went directly on attack about the Bush strategy. Kerry appears to be kicking ass.

Sphere: Related Content

Weapon of mass deception

A very nice midwestern lady just asked Kerry how she can defend him against the charge of some co-workers and family that he is wishy-washy. Kerry started out reasonably well with the "weapons of mass deception" line. (Bush didn't find WMD in Iraq so he's turned his campaign into a weapon of mass deception.) Excellent explanation of his position on the Patriot Act: supported it; just doesn't like the way Ashcroft "has applied it." (Your blogstress, for the record, finds fault with both the act and the application.)

But then he yammered on a string of facts that lost your cybertrix in their intricacies.

Sphere: Related Content

Momentary bliss

It's a perfect caress of an evening here in the nation's capital, with a breeze stirring just enough to make its presence known, the air neither too cool for short sleeves nor too warm for long. Behind the Capitol Dome, a sky recently vacated by the sun forms an indigo backdrop streaked with teal-tinted clouds.

In the day-to-day leading up to the Most Important Election in a Generation (or a Lifetime, or the Century, depending on whom is speaking), it's become all too easy to forget what a truly lovely place this can be. The denizens, including your blogstress, can hardly be blamed as they navigate checkpoints and endure surveillence and warnings of impending doom.

To the nation, Capitol Hill is the place where the laws, the kielbasi, whatever you want to call them, get made. But it is also a neighborhood lined with trees and quaint row houses that take on a twinkly glow as evening falls. Those who live far from Washington no doubt view the machinery of politics as something large and lumbering, left over from the manufacturing era--just retrofitted with cyberware. The apparati this election year, however, are found not in some giant sausage plant, but in the living rooms and kitchens of Capitol Hill.

Taking her evening constitutional last night, your cybertrix passed by the home of a senator, the windows of which revealed a gathering that could only have been a political fundraiser. People in blazers and khakis and very subdued suits stood facing a single point in the room, glasses of chablis in hand. The focal point was likely the host giving the requisite speech calling for a keeping of the faith and ponying up. Judging from her own mail, your blogstress can assure you that dozens such events take place every night here, and will until Election Day.

In other homes on the Hill, strategy is debated across dining room tables and whispered in bedrooms. Living rooms such as your Webwench's are transformed into oppo factories wherein mind-numbing facts submit to the propagandist's alchemy to become shocking claims.

Some toil for the preservation of the Constitution, others for global domination, most for movement forward in their own careers and all for the victory of their man. All in one charming little village.

Sphere: Related Content