Monkey-brained Musings

Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Looks great, but can it fry an egg?

Frank Gehry's shiny, new concert hall in Los Angeles is being criticized by neighbors for reflecting heat into their homes and by others for raising the temperatures on adjacent sidewalks to as high as 138º F. Somebody should mention this, though, to the landscape architects who promote their contribution to the concert hall as offering "a cool and shady retreat from the heat and noise of the surrounding downtown streets."
Update: Gehry has agreed to sandblast the building to reduce the glare, but he wants the taxpayers of LA County to pay for the modification.


Thursday, November 18, 2004
Apologies to the World is collecting pictures of folks with regrets about the election, attempting to let the world know that there are Americans appalled at the outcome of the Presidential election. Any kind of picture may be submitted as long as it is in GIF, JPG, or PNG format and no larger than 75 KB and 640x640. They already have more than 500 pages of photos with about six photos per page.


Wednesday, November 17, 2004
Democracy Fest Coming to Austin

Austin has won the bid to host Democracy Fest, June 17-19, 2005. The conference will bring together progressive and grassroots activists from across the country to focus on the skills and strategies needed for political organizing. Democracy Fest will be hosted by My Vote is My Voice and Democracy for Texas.


Tuesday, November 09, 2004
Measuring the Vote

A group of professors from the University of Michigan has posted an interesting series of maps regarding the 2004 presidential election. In addition to the state and county breakdowns that have been widely reported, they offer the following maps:

• results on a population cartogram where the states have been scaled according to their population.

• results by county on a population cartogram

Note the weight of Travis County’s population compared with the rest of Texas. Also note that Long Island is as big as Montana, Wyoming, and the Dakotas combined.


Saturday, November 06, 2004
Red States to NYC:
Drop Dead

Now that the Red States have turned their backs on the city and region that suffered the most on 9/11, I trust that people in the Red Counties will be returning their NYFD and related apparel as soon as possible.


Friday, November 05, 2004
Taking Back Texas

As the message below from Texas Democractic Party Chair Charles Soechting notes, there was encouraging news for Texas Dems, once you looked below the federal races:

For the first time in 32 years we have gained ground in the legislature.  Since 1972 we have lost seats or just barely held our ground.  This year we gained 1 seat and we won it in the best way possible- the 20 year incumbent House Appropriations Chair, Talmadge Heflin, was defeated by Hubert Vo.  Heflin is the architect of the plan that cut more than 150,000 kids off of their health insurance and has shown a callousness toward the people of Texas that would make Tom DeLay blush.  Hubert Vo beat him with a great campaign and the people of Texas will benefit.

We also defeated 2 of the freshmen GOPers who were at the center of the TRMPAC scandal- Jack Stick lost to Mark Strama in Austin and Ken Mercer lost to David Leibowitz in San Antonio. 

In Dallas County we elected a Democratic sheriff- Lupe Valdez, the first female sheriff of Dallas County.  We also elected some new judges there and our friends who came up short lost by less than a percentage point.  Dallas County will be in the Democratic column in 2006 and 2008.  Harris, Travis and Bexar Counties also saw an increase in their Democratic vote and with more than a third of our electorate in those 4 counties- Dallas, Harris, Travis and Bexar- we are in very good shape for 2006.

In Travis County, we also prevailed at the courthouse and elected our first African-American sheriff.

Kerry's loss also improves the prospects for 2006 Congressional candidates in Texas. On Tuesday afternoon, when we were hearing the false exit poll data and when many of us were thinking that Kerry was on his way to winning, I realized that a Kerry victory would be a disaster for Texas' Democratic Congressional candidates in 2006. The general rule is that the party not in the White House is favored in off year elections. With Kerry in the White House, Democratic candidates in Texas would be fighting against Repubs determined to exact revenge for Bush's defeat. Now, with the shoe on the other foot, we can anticipate that Texas Dems will have a great opportunity in 2006 to take to the voters a message of fiscal responsiblity and national security at home and abroad.



Reform Gap

There are several cogent thoughts in the New Dem Daily. This passage on the need to develop a forceful and positive message on the importance and direction for reform is particularly on point:

Having lost control of every nook and cranny of the federal government during the last two elections, Democrats were perfectly positioned to run as bold, outsider, insurgent reformers determined to change Washington, and the public was ready to embrace such a message and agenda. While Democrats did made a strong negative case against Bush, we never conveyed a positive agenda for reform. Indeed, Democrats often reinforced the idea that the GOP was the "reform" party by trying to scare voters about every bad or deceptive Republican idea for changing government programs, instead of offering our own alternatives for reform. In the end, we relied on mobilizing voters who were hostile to Bush instead of persuading voters who were ambivalent about both parties, and about government. Since Republicans did have a simple, understandable message, it was an uneven contest: message plus mobilization will beat mobilization alone every time.


Thursday, November 04, 2004
Psalm 2004

Forwarded by a friend:

Bush is my shepherd, I shall be in want.
He maketh me to lie down on park benches.
He leadeth me beside the still factories.
He restoreth my doubts about the Republican Party.
He leadeth me onto the paths of unemployment for his cronies' sake.
Yea, though no weapons of mass destruction have been found,
He makest me continue to fear Evil.
His tax cuts for the rich and his deficit spending discomfort me.
He anointest me with never-ending debt:
Verily my days of savings and assets are kaput.
Surely poverty and hard living shall follow me all the days of his administration,
And my jobless child shall dwell in my basement forever.


National Nightmare Continues

Okay, the national news is bad. However, the situation in Texas is less grim, and we pushed the Repubs back in Travis County. So, keep hope alive.

Travis County was one of 18 counties to go with Kerry, but it was the only Kerry county north of I-10. All four of the major metro counties went with Bush. Bush also managed to increase his winning percentage from 59 to 61 percent. So, we clearly have lots of work still to do in this state.

The Repubs did an amazing job turning out their base. The challenge now is that Bush is already taking this narrow victory as a sweeping mandate. Andrew Sullivan has noted that Bush won not by appealing to mainstream voters but by turning out conservative voters. Kerry’s winning margins among liberals (86:13) and moderates (55:45) was overwhelmed by Bush’s conservative supporters (84:15), with conservatives making up 34 percent of voters as compared to 29 percent in 2000.

This was Karl Rove’s strategy. After the 2000 election, Rove saw that conservatives, particularly the evangelicals, who had stayed home had made that election too close to call. He has spent the last four years working the conservative base to ensure that they turned out. The worst of his efforts were the 11 anti-gay marriage ballot measures. These ballot measures were specifically designed to encourage conservative voter turn out. The strategy worked. Bush carried at least nine of the states where these measures were on the ballot. In Ohio, where one of these measures was on the ballot, conservative voters in rural counties helped put Bush over the top.

In exit polls, voters said that “moral values” was their top concern in this election. Apparently, those values include denying other people the rights, privileges, and domestic tranquility of marriage.


The Truth Hurts

Thanks to Ian for the link to this editorial from the Daily Mirror (London):

Nov 4 2004


THEY say that in life you get what you deserve. Well, today America has deservedly got a lawless cowboy to lead them further into carnage and isolation and the unreserved contempt of most of the rest of the world.

This once-great country has pulled up its drawbridge for another four years and stuck a finger up to the billions of us forced to share the same air. And in doing so, it has shown itself to be a fearful, backward-looking and very small nation.

This should have been the day when Americans finally answered their critics by raising their eyes from their own sidewalks and looking outward towards the rest of humanity.

And for a few hours early yesterday, when the exit polls predicted a John Kerry victory, it seemed they had.

But then the horrible, inevitable truth hit home. They had somehow managed to re-elect the most devious, blinkered and reckless leader ever put before them. The Yellow Rogue of Texas.

A self-serving, dim-witted, draft-dodging, gung-ho little rich boy, whose idea of courage is to yell: "I feel good," as he unleashes an awesome fury which slaughters 100,000 innocents for no other reason than greed and vanity.

A dangerous chameleon, his charming exterior provides cover for a power-crazed clique of Doctor Strangeloves whose goal is to increase America's grip on the world's economies and natural resources.

And in foolishly backing him, Americans have given the go-ahead for more unilateral pre-emptive strikes, more world instability and most probably another 9/11.

Why else do you think bin Laden was so happy to scare them to the polls, then made no attempt to scupper the outcome?

There's only one headline in town today, folks: "It Was Osama Wot Won It."

And soon he'll expect pay-back. Well, he can't allow Bush to have his folks whoopin' and a-hollerin' without his own getting a share of the fun, can he?

Heck, guys, I hope you're feeling proud today.

To the tens of millions who voted for John Kerry, my commiserations.

To the overwhelming majority of you who didn't, I simply ask: Have you learnt nothing? Do you despise your own image that much?

Do you care so little about the world beyond your shores? How could you do this to yourselves?

How appalling must one man's record at home and abroad be for you to reject him?

Kerry wasn't the best presidential candidate the Democrats have ever fielded (and he did deserve a kicking for that "reporting for doo-dee" moment), but at least he understood the complexity of the world outside America, and domestic disgraces like the 45 million of his fellow citizens without health cover.

He would have done something to make that country fairer and re-connected it with the wider world.

Instead America chose a man without morals or vision. An economic incompetent who inherited a $2billion surplus from Clinton, gave it in tax cuts to the rich and turned the US into the world's largest debtor nation.

A man who sneers at the rights of other nations. Who has withdrawn from international treaties on the environment and chemical weapons.

A man who flattens sovereign states then hands the rebuilding contracts to his own billionaire party backers.

A man who promotes trade protectionism and backs an Israeli government which continually flouts UN resolutions.

America has chosen a menacingly immature buffoon who likened the pursuit of the 9/11 terrorists to a Wild West, Wanted Dead or Alive man-hunt and, during the Afghanistan war, kept a baseball scorecard in his drawer, notching up hits when news came through of enemy deaths.

A RADICAL Christian fanatic who decided the world was made up of the forces of good and evil, who invented a war on terror, and thus as author of it, believed he had the right to set the rules of engagement.

Which translates to telling his troops to do what the hell they want to the bad guys. As he has at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and countless towns across Iraq.

You have to feel sorry for the millions of Yanks in the big cities like New York, Washington, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco who voted to kick him out.

These are the sophisticated side of the electorate who recognise a gibbon when they see one.

As for the ones who put him in, across the Bible Belt and the South, us outsiders can only feel pity.

Were I a Kerry voter, though, I'd feel deep anger, not only at them returning Bush to power, but for allowing the outside world to lump us all into the same category of moronic muppets.

The self-righteous, gun-totin', military lovin', sister marryin', abortion-hatin', gay-loathin', foreigner-despisin', non-passport ownin' red-necks, who believe God gave America the biggest dick in the world so it could urinate on the rest of us and make their land "free and strong".

You probably won't be surprised to learn of would-be Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn who, on Tuesday, promised to ban abortion and execute any doctors who carried them out.

He also told voters that lesbianism is so rampant in the state's schools that girls were being sent to toilets on their own. Not that any principal could be found to back him up.

These are the people who hijack the word patriot and liken compassion to child-molesting. And they are unknowingly bin Laden's chief recruiting officers.

Al-Qaeda's existence is fuelled by the outpourings of America's Christian right. Bush is its commander-in-chief. And he and bin Laden need each other to survive.

Both need to play Lex Luther to each others' Superman with their own fanatical people. Maybe that's why the mightiest military machine ever assembled has failed to catch the world's most wanted man.

Or is the reason simply that America is incompetent? That behind the bluff they are frightened and clueless, which is why they've stayed with the devil they know.

VISITORS from another planet watching this election would surely not credit the amateurism.

The queues for hours to register a tick; the 17,000 lawyers needed to ensure there was no cheating; the $1.2bn wasted by parties trying to discredit the enemy; the allegations of fraud, intimidation and dirty tricks; the exit polls which were so wildly inaccurate; an Electoral College voting system that makes the Eurovision Song Contest look like a beacon of democracy and efficiency; and the delays and the legal wrangles in announcing the victor.

Yet America would have us believe theirs is the finest democracy in the world. Well, that fine democracy has got the man it deserved. George W Bush.

But is America safer today without Kerry in charge? A man who overnight would have given back to the UN some credibility and authority. Who would have worked out the best way to undo the Iraq mess without fear of losing face.

Instead, the questions facing America today are - how many more thousands of their sons will die as Iraq descends into a new Vietnam? And how many more Vietnams are on the horizon now they have given Bush the mandate to go after Iran, Syria, North Korea or Cuba...?

Today is a sad day for the world, but it's even sadder for the millions of intelligent Americans embarrassed by a gung-ho leader and backed by a banal electorate, half of whom still believe Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11.

Yanks had the chance to show the world a better way this week, instead they made a thuggish cowboy ride off into the sunset bathed in glory.

And in doing so it brought Armageddon that little bit closer and re-christened their beloved nation The Home Of The Knave and the Land Of The Freak.

God Help America.


The scattered musings of Jeb Boyt, Austin Texas. A collection of the random bits that scamper through my monkey brain. This blog is my personal record. The opinions expressed here are my own and are in no way associated with any employer, board, commission, organization, or other entity that I may be affiliated with. So there.

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