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We're leaving for a trip to New York City tomorrow morning. We'll be spending three days seeing the sights of most of Manhattan and part of Brooklyn when we go see They Might Be Giants on Friday.

Here are some of the things I'll be thinking about while flying:

  • Whatever happened to Haiti? Could or could not John Kerry knock George Bush completely off-guard in the debates if he responded to a terrorism/democracy question by talking about Haiti?
  • Conventional wisdom right now is that Karl Rove may have made a mistake by scheduling the Republican Convention so late, that Bush may be in too big a hole by then to climb out. However, openly claiming that they expect to be down 15 points after the Democratic Convention was brilliant. No modern convention can provide that type of bounce, not with the broadcast networks taking entire nights off of covering it. The post-Convention spin, no matter what the actual bounce is, will be that Kerry didn't meet the expectations.
  • You think it's bad that Georgian voting machines went down as soon as they went up? Miami-Dade County, FL, lost the results of the 2002 gubernatorial primaries. The machines used in these elections were not backed up until over a year later, some months after the results were lost due to a series of "crashes." Look, I am by no means an expert in systems design or computer security, but I am former professional network adminstrator and a high-level user of any number of computerized devices. The simple fact of the matter is that the people designing and implementing these systems either don't have the first clue what they're doing or are malaciously attacking our system of open democracy. Please go to Verified Voting to find out where your Congressional representatives stand on this issue, and let them know they need to be on the right side of it.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
The World at Large ... Permalink



So this guy calls me up and tells me that he works all night, comes home, watches some pornos, jacks off, and goes to bed. He doesn�t usually have to call me (ie. this line), because there are some hookers that come around his place of work during his shift. But sadly, last night inclement weather kept the hookers away.

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posted by
My 69 Cents Worth ... Permalink




It appears that Diebold voting machines went all to hell during Georgia's primary elections on July 20.

We had a poll watcher in every precinct, informed and trained with the things to look for and how to address the problems the moment they cropped up. We insured the law was followed to the letter.

The calls from the poll watchers began promptly at 7:00 AM with every irregularity, improper behavior and machine malfunction they saw reported to the attorneys.

One precinct reported almost upon opening of the polls that all machines (10) were failing. Voters inserted the access card and the card was immediately ejected. The pollwatcher reported that voters were offered provisional paper ballots, but they were prepared with only 25 of these ballots and ran out within 10 minutes. It took almost 2 hours to rectify the situation even though our HQ personnel reported it to the County office immediately.

The report continues with more detailed information about breakdowns related to, among other things, overheating. What does Georgia's Secretary of State have to say about it? "It was a very ordinary primary election day."

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Politics ... Permalink




Tony Blair now says the Iraq invasion was France's fault:

In a blunt attack he said French support for a UN resolution before the fighting could have forced Saddam Hussein to allow full-scale weapons inspections, thus averting any conflict.

The PM also revealed for the first time that Mr Chirac � dubbed Le Worm by The Sun � had warned him personally he would not back military action.

Mr Blair told MPs: "France would not accept any resolution that contained an ultimatum. That was what was said to me on the phone. They did not agree to these benchmarks."

So, France's participation would've caused Iraq to do what? Be more convincing when they said there were no weapons? Create some new weapons programs that they could publically dismantle?

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Politics ... Permalink




It appears that Everclear has very quietly broken up:

Craig and Greg have officially departed the band. Both, however, have given their full blessing to Art continuing to perform and record as Everclear.

Craig has formed a new band with Scotty Heard (formerly of Sweaty Nipples) and one-time Everclear touring percussionist Brian Lehfeldt (also formerly of Sweaty Nipples). After months of debates, the band has finally settled on the name Tri-Polar, and have a preliminary website at TripolarMusic.com.

Art Alexakis will continue to tour under the Everclear name with new bandmates, but won't record any new material. Ah, well.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Music ... Permalink




Tomorrow's Syndey Morning Herald will contain a story alleging that Iraq's new Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, personally murdered six prisoners just days before taking power:

Iyad Allawi, the new Prime Minister of Iraq, pulled a pistol and executed as many as six suspected insurgents at a Baghdad police station, just days before Washington handed control of the country to his interim government, according to two people who allege they witnessed the killings.

They say the prisoners - handcuffed and blindfolded - were lined up against a wall in a courtyard adjacent to the maximum-security cell block in which they were held at the Al-Amariyah security centre, in the city's south-western suburbs.

They say Dr Allawi told onlookers the victims had each killed as many as 50 Iraqis and they "deserved worse than death".

The Prime Minister's office has denied the entirety of the witness accounts in a written statement to the Herald, saying Dr Allawi had never visited the centre and he did not carry a gun.


The names of three of the alleged victims have been obtained by the Herald.

If true -- hell, if not proven false with some reasonable evidence -- this is it for the Bush Administration. There's nothing here that they can blame on the CIA. They handpicked this guy after their first handpicked guy turned out to be a profiteer/spy and now it appears that he's just as bad as Hussein. Are we going to have to reliberate Iraq now?

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Politics ... Permalink



According to nin.com's access page, Dave Grohl is drumming on the new Nine Inch Nails record:

there is a much less refined approach to most of this record and i wrote a lot of the tracks envisioning powerful live drumming: enter dave grohl. working with him has been one of the most inspiring and exciting experiences i've had in the studio. the tracks he's played on (all fifteen), have come alive in a "better-than-i'd-even-hoped-for" type way.

The bad news is that the record is now targeted for an early 2005 release, rather than this fall.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Music ... Permalink




An article that postulates George W. Bush as non-existent has gotten me thinking. Let's look at three things that happened on TV in 2004.

1. On January 19, following a third-place finish in the Iowa caucuses, Howard Dean finishes a speech to cheering supporters by energetically listing off the states whose primaries and caucuses were soon to come. He closes with a loud "Yeah!" The speech is broadcast live on the cable news networks.

2. On February 1, a variety of pop music stars, including Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake, perform at the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVIII. At the end of their performance, Timberlake rips off a piece of Jackson's bodice, momentarily exposing her right nipple. The nipple is broadcast live on CBS.

3. On April 13, George W. Bush holds his eleventh solo press conference since becoming President. Toward the end of the questioning, he is asked, "After 9-11, what would your biggest mistake be, would you say, and what lessons have learned from it?" Following 30 seconds of near silence, he responds, "I wish you'd have given me this written question ahead of time so I could plan for it. John, I'm sure historians will look back and say, gosh, he could've done it better this way or that way. You know, I just -- I'm sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press conference, with all the pressure of trying to come up with answer, but it hadn't yet." The press conference is carried live on the broadcast and cable news networks.

While the first and third items have a common element in politicians, the first and second have a more pressing common element in that they were both replayed ad infinitum by all television news outlets. Have you seen a clip of Bush confoundedly biting his lip since April 14?

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Politics ... Permalink



All Music Guide, probably the Internet's most useful source of information about musicians and recorded music, has just unveiled its new site design -- its terrible, terrible new site design. Many features -- including elementary ones, like the pointer changing when hovering over a link -- only work in Internet Explorer for Windows. Information that used to be on one page, such as a brief band bio and entire discography, are now spread over as many pages as possible. It's so user friendly that it crashed my browser while I was writing this post.

Waxy.org has a more detailed summary.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Technophunk ... Permalink




Emily and I have been sending out letters announcing our marriage to friends and family lately. They include a snarky opening in which we attempt to bridge the partisan divide by supporting John Kerry's advocation of universal health care, but also demonstrating that George Bush's drive to get straight people married for no particular reason is good too. This was, of course, not so much bridge-building as it was a shot at Bush. In today's New York Times, Barbara Ehrenreich takes the same shot is a more classy, intellectual way:

Commitment isn't easy for guys � we all know that � but the Bush administration is taking the traditional male ambivalence about marriage to giddy new heights. On the one hand, it wants to ban gays from marrying, through a constitutional amendment that the Senate will vote on this week. On the other hand, it's been avidly promoting marriage among poor women � the straight ones anyway.

Opponents of gay marriage claim that there is some consistency here, in that gay marriages must be stopped before they undermine the straight ones. How the married gays will go about wrecking heterosexual marriages is not entirely clear: by moving in next door, inviting themselves over and doing a devastating critique of the interior decorating?

It is equally unclear how marriage will cure poor women's No. 1 problem, which is poverty � unless, of course, the plan is to draft C.E.O.'s to marry recipients of T.A.N.F. (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families). Left to themselves, most women end up marrying men of the same social class as their own, meaning � in the case of poverty-stricken women � blue-collar men. But that demographic group has seen a tragic decline in earnings in the last couple of decades. So I have been endeavoring to calculate just how many blue-collar men a T.A.N.F. recipient needs to marry to lift her family out of poverty.

The answer turns out to be approximately 2.3, which is, strangely enough, illegal.

The Bush Administration seems to like to fall back on its ultra-conservative social stances whenever issues like the war, the economy or years-long patterns of deception turn sour. The thing is, it never seems to quite work, and it's not going to work here. This gay-bashing Amendment is going to die in the Senate, and they're going to look like idiots campaigning on how much the Democrats love those homos. The general public of most states is just not homophobic enough to want such bigotry added to the Constitution.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Politics ... Permalink




Fantasy G. This means it can be 15 minutes long and NOT EXPLICT.

I answer the ding dong with my �Hello???� and hear a man with a really thick Indian accent on the other end.

Right off, he tells me he wants to bend me over and do me in my butthole. This is trouble, I try to slow him down by asking his name, asking about his cock, you know, sexy but not SEX.

He answers my questions but always goes back to doing me in my butthole. And not just doing me. Bending me over a desk and pounding me until I bleed. He wants to hurt me. Calls like this used to really upset me but now I use them to try and learn.

Click to read more

posted by
My 69 Cents Worth ... Permalink




Since everyone's in such an uproar about what Michael Moore does or does not say or imply in Fahrenheit 9/11, a transcript would prove quite helpful for debaters on all sides. So, here it is, at least the first half.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Movies ... Politics ... Permalink



Something that the Republican Party -- and especially those in charge now -- is very good at is changing the terms of debate. Sometimes it's a simple word usage. Look at how often John Edwards is referred to as not just a "trial lawyer" but a "millionaire trial lawyer" during the general campaign. But sometimes it's setting up certain ideas as truth and forcing the debate around them. I wrote a column during the 2000 campaign that looked at this phenomenon from a large-scale perspective -- the resolved nature of the debate over Bush's readiness for office. Now, Josh Marshall has an excellent post that neatly lays out the way America is looking at Bush as a proponent of democracy:

What interests me is the last line of the column: "The Bush administration talks about democratic change. But it's the Saakashvilis, armed with their homegrown how-to manuals, who actually make it happen."

That sentiment is obviously critical, at least to some degree, of the Bush administration's role as an advocate and force for democratization on the international stage. Implicit in that line, however, is an assumption which now permeates much of the debate about foreign policy in this year's campaign.

That is, that however successfully or wisely the goal has been pursued, the Bush administration is the champion of democratization as a strategic goal on the world stage while John Kerry is the advocate of a more traditional foreign policy Realism, which prioritizes stability and alliances with existing powers over democratization and the export of American values.

Indeed, this was the premise of a critical David Brooks column in the Times from June 19th ("Kerry's Cruel Realism").

Perhaps the clearest sign of the ubiquity of this assumption is that it is not only advanced by the president's advocates but -- from a different and more critical perspective -- by his opponents as well. Many of them fault the president for a heedless or ill-conceived neo-Wilsonianism, which will damage US national security by pursuing illusory or improbable goals.


I don't pretend that all of these decisions were wrong. In the case of Pakistan I think it has been, by and large, the correct and unavoidable course, though I think the "major non-NATO ally" business was perhaps laying it on a bit thick. And to one degree or another many instances of the Bush administration's cozying up to dictators has been the result of the exigencies of its 'war on terror.'

In essence, if you support the US war on terror, how you run your country is your own business.


At the risk of repeating myself, this is not to say that the US should, willy nilly, upend friendly non-democracies with an indifference to American strategic interests. But if that's the model the administration is following then there's really, at best, no difference with previous administrations and the whole premise -- so widespread now in our political and foreign policy debates -- that the Bush administration is hawkish on democracy or neo-Wilsonian -- and that this is a departure from previous administrations or a potential Kerry administration -- is just an empty claim embraced by the inattentive and incurious.

We cannot expect the media or the general public to get right with this on their own. This is an issue that the Kerry campaign needs to look at in the longview and understand that we will buy it if they call the Administration's bluff, precisely because most of us now understand the Administration to be, at best, blinded by a very particular ideological amoralism or, at worst, incompetent.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Politics ... Permalink




So, John Edwards, our next Vice-President. Rather an uninspired pick, but then, that's what I thought about Al Gore in 1992.

I saw Edwards speak in the run-up to Wisconsin's primary back in February. For a very brief period I was considering voting for Edwards over Howard Dean, because I didn't want John Kerry to just run away with the nomination in an orgy of "electability." It quickly became clear, though, that Edwards wasn't going to close on Kerry and I should vote my conscience. The worst thing I can say about Edwards is this: His speech did nothing to sway my vote. During the primary season, James Carville said Edwards was the best speaker he'd ever seen, better even than Bill Clinton. Somebody else, and I want to say it was Josh Marshall but I'm not sure, said an Edwards speech was like Chinese food: It tastes great and fills you up at the time, but half an hour later you're wondering why you ever felt so full. I tend to agree with the latter assessment. Edwards's "Two Americas" has a nice sound to it, and is very Clintonian. Step one in emulating Bill Clinton is to display more empathy than the other guys, and that's just what "Two Americas" does. But after I left the speech, I wasn't really sure that Edwards was more than a lilting accent and a haircut -- which isn't to say that he's substanceless, just that I didn't get any substance from his speech. To be honest, Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, who endorsed and introduced Edwards, spoke in more substantive terms.

Part of this is Edwards shifting himself from legislative to executive work. His career as a Senator is over. Even if he hadn't run for President and wasn't now running for VP, he would not have been re-elected to the Senate. He's going to spend the rest of his career as a Presidential candidate, a Vice-President, a President or one of those in the former. 21st century America likes slogans from its executives, and it loves a clever framing device like "Two Americas." Look at any major Bill Clinton speech and you'll see a similar method at work.

So is Edwards ready for the Presidency? Probably not, at least not the in way that more experienced Democrats like Kerry, Dean or Dick Gephardt are -- and I'm talking about readiness in terms of being able to perform the duties of the office effectively, not in policy terms. He's certainly more ready than George Bush was four years ago, and probably more ready than Bush is now. After eight years as VP (or, pessimistically, four years as VP and four more as former VP), Edwards certainly will be ready, and I think this selection all but destroys the Presidential ambitions of Hillary Clinton and Howard Dean in 2012.

I'll be posting more on this in the next few days as I think over the various implications. First: how does soft-spoken Edwards match up against Cheney in a debate setting? What advantages does he have more aggressive debaters like Dean, Gephardt and Wes Clark?

(Oh, and lest anyone this I'm trying to bash Edwards with the title of this post, it's a humorous reference to this and this.)

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Politics ... Permalink




Attention members of the electorate -- be careful what you wear:

"Our immediate task in battle fronts like Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere is to capture or kill the terrorists ... so we do not have to face them here at home," Bush told a cheering crowd outside the West Virginia Capitol. An enthusiastic audience estimated by state capitol police at 6,500 people waving American flags chanted, "Four more years."

Regarding Saddam, the deposed Iraqi president, Bush said: "Because we acted, the dictator, the brutal tyrant, is sitting in a prison cell."

Two Bush opponents, taken out of the crowd in restraints by police, said they were told they couldn't be there because they were wearing shirts that said they opposed the president. Supporters of Bush's presumed opponent in November's election, Sen. John Kerry, attended a picnic across the street from the capitol at state Democratic Party's headquarters.

Overreact much? I mean, it's not like they were wearing Marilyn Manson t-shirts -- that would've been cause for concern.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Politics ... Permalink




Sometimes in the middle of it all, I hear BEEP BEEP BEEP in my ear as the guy punches at his telephone number pad. I used to get pissed and say, �You have to hang up to get a new girl,� which is true. But I got to thinking and today when this guy who seemed totally into me being 23 and cute and bubbly started BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP in my ear I thought, �Fuck you, I�m a phone actress,� and in my best automaton voice said, �Welcome to the main menu.�

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posted by
My 69 Cents Worth ... Permalink




Local Call. That means it can be explicit, maximum of 15 minutes long, and I have no idea what he is looking for. So, here I go�

The guy has a real feminine voice and he starts telling me about how he has fallen in love with a girl on the line (yes, a phone girl). He loves her so much and tonight they are finally going to meet! They both live in the city (New York) and he is going to meet her tonight at work and then they are going to go to a hotel that she insisted on paying for.

Click to read more

posted by
My 69 Cents Worth ... Permalink ...
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