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August 31, 2005

Satellite views of New Orleans

NASA presents these chilling before-and-after pictures:


To the north, Lake Pontchartrain overflows its shore and nearly merges with Lake Maurepas to the west. In the eastern half of the city, you can see the surrounding land fill with water. And in the southwest, Pontchartrain bulges out to bury the western part of the city.

Give. Give now.

August 31, 2005 in Hurricane Katrina | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Stop what you're doing and give. Give to whomever you'd like, but I gave to the American Red Cross's Hurrican 2005 Relief fund. Come on, you stingy bastard, you're not doing too badly, you've probably got a home and a job, unlike most of the former residents of Biloxi, Gulfport, and New Orleans. Dig deep. Give 'til it hurts.

August 31, 2005 in Hurricane Katrina | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 30, 2005

Peace of Excrement

Cindy Sheehan and her followers have taken to calling themselves the "peace movement". I'd like to talk about that, and I'd also like to make a point about a bias that exists in favor of liberals.

Many in the mainstream media have adopted the "peace movement" terminology. The more respectable media confine the description to their editorial pages, as in "Stanton: In pushing for peace movement, it takes a mother", published in the Tucson (AZ) Citizen. I disagree with the term, but I congratulate the Citizen for not only plainly labeling the item an opinion piece, but putting the name of the editorialist right in the headline. If one must present liberal points of view, that's the way to do it.

To give an example of how not to present liberal points of view, there's the Associated Press, which ran a story on August 18 which headlined "'Peace Mom': Spearhead of Peace Movement?" in the Washington Post, the San Jose Mercury News, the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the London (UK) Guardian, the Miami Herald, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Twin Cities (MN) Pioneer Press and of course the Los Angeles Times. (Hey, Google News: your search for "allintitle:" is broken.) Subscribers to the wire service are free to choose their own titles for articles, but the fact that so many chose identical wording is strong evidence that the Associated Press offered it as a suggested title. Not only is the article not flagged as an editorial, but it came over the AP's "News--Nation/World" wire. Peace Mom is presented in "Scare Quotes" [1], peace movement is not.

Why is it bad that they're using those terms? Because by any objective standard, Cindy Sheehan is not a "Peace Mom", and the loose-knit organization of her fellow-travelers is not a "peace movement". This is not my opinion. This is a demonstrable, provable fact.

Look at Cindy Sheehan's message. It is not, despite what some would have us believe, "President Bush, please meet with this grieving widow." Sheehan admitted as much herself when she stated she was glad the President didn't meet with her (WaPo). Sheehan's message, explicitly stated many times, is "Withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq immediately!" For example, from the latest essay in the "Peaceful Occupation of Crawford" series that either Sheehan writes herself or Michael Moore writes for her:

I know you don't want Camp Casey to come to the place you reside between vacations, so I would suggest you bring our troops home immediately.

And of course, this nauseatingly exploitive bit of Moore-babble:

But most of all: thank you, my son. Thank you for living the kind of life that inspires people to work for peace and justice. Thank you for choosing me to be your mom. Thank you for being the embodiment of love and thank you for being the inspiration for the Camp Casey movement. I promise you it won't end until all of your buddies are brought home.

For the record, Cindy Sheehan accuses the President of using her son's name (MSNBC), although I've never heard him do so. Sheehan herself has no problem with literally using the names of every single other grieving family's sons (and daughters), but if she really wants to find somebody who's crassly exploiting her son to push a political cause, she need look no further than a mirror... and/or Michael Moore's scruffy face.

Sheehan touts the Bring Them Home Now Tour, although Sheehan herself will apparently only be on it for a couple of days; I guess she needs to rest after all that sitting in an air-conditioned trailer in Crawford and jetting back to Los Angeles allegedly [2] due to her mother's illness. One of the stated aims of the Tour is:

From George Bush’s door step to Communities along the way, We Demand That:

Elected Representatives Decide Now to Bring the Troops Home

There's not much room for wiggle there. The Peace Mom and her Peace Movement are working very hard and spending a lot of money to get the troops brought home from Iraq now.

Now, you may agree with that strategy. You may not. But one thing everybody beyond the literally hopelessly deluded can agree on is this: if the United States were to follow the advice of this peace movement, the one thing that would most absolutely certainly definitely not follow is peace. There is no room for reasonable doubt, there is not even room for outlandishly unreasonable doubt. Picture anybody, Cindy Sheehan herself, or even Michael Moore, standing up in front of the friendliest possible audience, consisting entirely of posters to Democratic Underground [3], and declaring, "If we were to immediately leave Iraq, there would be peace." Picture the reaction. The only reactions imaginable are stunned silence and uproarious laughter. Nobody could take that statement seriously. If we were to immediately withdraw troops, Baghdad would make Saigon look like Madrid, and everybody, even Cindy Sheehan, knows it.

Objectively, what Cindy Sheehan and Michael Moore are moving for is not peace. There have been numerous groups throughout history that have striven desperately for peace at terrible cost against mighty odds, and to call Sheehan's and Moore's crowd a peace movement is to insult every one of these heroes. To crassly exploit an American institution that's as cherished as apple pie and baseball by calling Cindy Sheehan a "peace mom" is a slap to the face of Motherhood itself. This has no place in respected public discourse, let alone in allegedly-respectable "news" [4] organizations.

But let's not think that the media is the only institution where the mighty have fallen both far and radically leftward. You can also find the "peace movement" in academia:

David Cartwright, founder of the Win Without War Coalition and a University of Notre Dame professor, said Sheehan re-energized a peace movement that was in the doldrums after Bush's re-election.

"I have the impression she's under inhuman pressure. She's just a mom," he said. "She's done an amazingly good job."

(Scripps Howard news service) Now, okay, this guy is a professor for the University of Notre Dame. Good school, right? Private and Catholic, even? And here he is publically cheering for Cindy Sheehan. The University, as far as I know, has made no objection. Prominent academic organizations are likewise silent. There is no comment from the NCAA, which gets upset over the nonexistent insensitivity of the name Florida Seminoles.  One wonders what the reaction from Cartwright's peers in academia would have been had he done something really controversial, like cite recent research in behavioral genetics in front of a working lunch of about ten participants.

Hey, maybe Cindy Sheehan is right. Maybe immediate withdrawal of United States troops from Iraq would be the best course of action. I really don't think so, and I feel confident I could easily rip every argument in favor to shreds, but maybe it would be. But even those who strongly agree with Cindy Sheehan must concede that immediate withdrawal of United States troops from Iraq would not bring peace. It offends me, it honestly turns my stomach to hear Sheehan and her crowd referred to as what they obviously are not, a Peace Mom and a Peace Movement. Aren't liberals supposed to be all about sensitivity? Isn't offense to be judged only in the eye of the offended?

If the liberal institutions like academia and the mainstream news media [5] had any integrity, they'd stop using these terms. I don't expect that the true crazies, like Michael Moore and Joan Baez and Al Sharpton and David Duke and Stormfront and of course Sheehan herself, will stop grossly misapplying the word peace, but at least they don't pretend to objectivity, like the media, and they don't pretend to intellectual superiority, like the university.

[footnotes in extended entry]

[1] "Scare Quotes"TM are a registered trademark of Reuters.

[2] Yes, allegedly. I am certainly not alleging that anything is false about Sheehan's alleged reasons for departing Camp Crawford, I'm merely stating that she alleges that a family medical emergency was the reason for her departure.

[3] Hat tip to PJ-Comix. Mary Matalin, give him a call.

[4] See [1]

[5] By this term of art I refer to the "old media", including news wires like Reuters and the Associated Press, large-city print newspapers, and the news desks of the big three networks. I do not include "new media" such as Internet bloggers or columnists, cable news networks, or talk radio. While I firmly believe that the editorial pages of print newspapers are dominated by liberals, I present no evidence and thus do not include them in the media I am accusing of bias.

August 30, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 29, 2005

In the tiger's den

Curt Loftis spent a couple of days undercover in the company of Sheehan, Inc, and reported about it to Power Line. His account is interesting and worth reading. A few highlights:

We talked sports, and cars and how wonderful California is, and just about everything that could be discussed without my divulging that I am a conservative. But when “scratched” just a little with some mild political talk, they all responded the same way…”it is America's fault”. No matter what the issue, each and every one of them had the same default…”bad things are America’s fault”.

Toward the end of my time there, I decided to innocently toss into the conversation different issues just to elicit a response. One issue I politely deposited into our talks was of the peasant unrest in rural China, and the brutality shown to the peasants by the government and their hired thugs. There response to this problem was…”well, look how we treated the blacks in America”, or, “gays are being beaten every day in America”.

So the cliché of the “hate America” crowd is indeed true. It is as if the protesters were intellectually bulimic, and having ingested all of the hate America bile, they looked forward to regurgitating it as a show of their steadfastness to their cause of peace and love.

On the Messiah herself:

During one conversation I had with her I tried to ask her a pointed question about how much time she would actually be on the bus tour to Washington (I had discovered she would only be on the tour for two days, and would be away giving speeches during the rest of the trip…and I wondered if she were being paid for these speeches) Her media person grabbed her arm and led her back to the trailer, and away from me. The message was protected. I was left standing there…alone, and feeling a little less secure about my status at Camp Casey.

But just a few minutes later, she emerged from the trailer, smiling, and performing for the cameras. Like the chicken at the local carnival that plays tic tac toe, she eagerly performs for any microphone. She is relentless, and professional, well financed and on message.

And the message is “All things bad are America’s fault."

Read the whole thing.

August 29, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 28, 2005


The first person to suggest that Katrina is in any way the punishment of God gets a punch in the face.

Ditto the first person to suggest that she's the result of the Bush administration's environmental policies.

And finally, the media has successfully scared the crap out of me. If this turns out to be a fizzle, I'll never trust media scaremongering again.

Update: Other punch-worthy people:

  • Anyone who complains about the media devoting too much attention to this story and not enough to Cindy Sheehan.
  • Anyone who attributes the inevitably disproportionately black death toll to racism.
  • Anyone who blames the disaster on the people of New Orleans for not preparing adequately.
  • Anyone who files a ridiculous lawsuit for hurricane-related negligence.

8:55 PM Pacific:

Stephen Green preemptively retorts to the "wrath of God" crowd with:

Well, guess what? We will clean up, fix up, and move on. And while we'll rightfully mourn our dead, there won't be very many of them.

Then imagine how many would die if that same Act of God hit a major city on the coast of, say, Pakistan. Thousands dead? Tens of thousands? More? And after, Americans would come in to help clean up, fix up, and move on.

While I share your appreciation for the strength of the American people, Stephen, I have to disagree that "there won't be very many [dead to mourn]". In fact, I'm pretty confident that we will see thousands dead, and I think it's likelier than not that we'll see tens of thousands. Katrina looks very, very bad.

I don't believe in God either. But I'm praying anyway. I suggest you do too. It can't hurt.

9:04 PM Pacific

Jesus Christ, reportedly power may be out to much of the Gulf Coast for weeks. The power and telephone poles will be snapped like twigs. If that happens, the city will become completely uninhabitable for a long time. The rats will have a field day... or a banner year.

Katrina is looking more and more like a Sim City disaster.

9:11 PM Pacific

According to an NOAA release, the center of Hurricane Katrina is less than 160 miles from New Orleans. Michelle Malkin has a good roundup of hurricane bloggers. Reporter on Fox News is hinting that the 1 AM Eastern release from the NOAA might suggest that Katrina is weakening slightly.

9:24 PM Pacific

Americans emptied their wallets for the victims of this year's tsunami... which didn't stop some from sniffingly declaring us stingy. I wonder just how much the world will chip in to help rebuild the entire Gulf Coast?

New Orleans was founded by French fur traders, who chose the location because of its convenience as a portage between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain and in spite of it being a low-lying, disease-ridden swamp, highly vulnerable to the violent storms to which the Gulf of Mexico occasionally gives rise. So is it okay to blame this on France?

10:20 PM Pacific

New NOAA release is out. Might be weakening. We can hope.

WizBang has an idea of what the conditions inside the Superdome will be like. Preview: not good.

Fox News reports that EMS service in New Orleans is shut down.

12:16 AM Pacific

NOAA says Katrina has been downgraded to a very strong Category 4. Sustained winds 155 MPH. Good luck, Big Easy.

Louisianans bury their dead above ground. Should the city flood, it may carry off an awful lot of coffins. So in addition to the wind damage problem, in addition to the storm surge problem, in addition to the flooding problem, New Orleans will also have to deal with the zombie problem. And Cajun zombies, not the good kind.

11:40 AM Pacific

Well, while there's plenty of damage, it looks like the predictions of utter destruction were false. Thanks, media scaremongers!

August 28, 2005 in United States | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 27, 2005

For those who have forgotten

It's come to my attention that there are people who have forgotten the noble cause for which we fight in Iraq. Some of those people have a memory so bad that they're compelled to wander the wasteland, asking others to remind them. I don't want to name any names here. I'm fair.

For those poor unfortunates, I offer these reminders:








And, of course, this:


Now do you remember?

August 27, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Here we go again!

So once again MichaelMoore.com features an article allegedly written by Cindy Sheehan. Time to get out the ol' Fisking Machine... but before I do, I note that whoever is writing this stuff has apparently taken the hint and only refers to the President as "George" once.

I finally figured out George Bush's NEW reason for staying in Iraq.

Meet the new reason, same as the old reason. Because our mission in Iraq, while progressing nicely, is not yet complete.

This reason has also been co-opted by the Move America Forward (forward to what: Fascism?)

Zzing! Boy, you sure showed them, didn't you?

and the poor mothers who would be honored if their sons were killed in George Bush's war for greed and power.

You mean the poor mothers who are actually proud of their sons (and daughters), rather than ashamed? The poor mothers who believe that bringing down a torturing despot and working to build a stable democracy in a region that's been sorely oppressed is a worthy cause? Those poor mothers?

Since the Freedom and Democracy thing is not going so well

Really? When did Iraq become unfree and undemocratic?

and the Iraqi parliament is having such a hard time writing their constitution.

Any idea how long it took us to write a Constitution? Any idea how many bitter fights there were between bitterly opposed factions? Heck, we just had to deal with pro-slavery and anti-slavery conflicts; the Iraqis are trying to deal with factional distrusts that have existed for over a millenium.

Since violence is mounting against Iraqis and Americans

Yes, it is true that the terrorists who have invaded Iraq are killing innocent Iraqis and rather fewer American soldiers. Your point is that we should surrender to these terrorists, right? Withdraw entirely and leave the field to them? Stop fighting them, let them have their way?

and since his poll numbers are going down everyday

Yep, you and your media allies have succeeded in banging the drum of surrender loud enough that the President's approval has suffered. Congratulations. We'll see how long it lasts.

he had to come up with something.

The same something he's been saying all along, as a matter of fact.

I have continually asked George Bush to quit using Casey's name and the names of the other Gold Star Families for Peace loved ones to justify his continued killing.

And several of the families of the casualties have asked you to stop using their loved ones's names on your politically-motivated field of crosses. You refuse. By the way, when did George W. Bush use Casey's name?

He continues to say this: "We have to honor the sacrifices of the fallen by completing the mission."

And how.


Uh, no.

Let's try an analogy here. Suppose you buy a new Prius, and you get a car loan, and you start making payments. Along comes some busybody who demands to know why you're making a payment every month. You answer that if you stop making the payments, the bank will take your car, and all of the money you've already spent will go for naught. The busybody retorts, in mature caps-lock, YOU MUST CONTINUE SPENDING MONEY BECAUSE YOU'VE ALREADY SPENT MONEY!

Back when there were zero casualties, American forces were engaged in a noble cause. When the casualty counter reached 500, they were still engaged in a noble cause. Today, with 1,875 Americans killed, it is still a noble cause. If we were to follow your ridiculous advice and withdraw now, not only would the noble goal towards which we've made such progress never be achieved, but all the sacrifice made in pursuit of that goal would be wasted.

How can anyone, anyone in their right minds support this line of reasoning?

How can the author still believe that negative rhetorical questions are anything less than a cheap trick?

I have been silent on the Gold Star Moms who still support this man and his war by saying that they deserve the right to their opinions because they are in as much pain as I am.

And also because you sure as hell don't want to draw attention to them. The spotlight is yours, all yours! If people should become aware that very many mothers who have also lost sons support the cause, it would dilute your message.

I would challenge them, though, at this point to start thinking for themselves.

Major, major irony from Ms. Moore Mouthpiece.

Iraq DID NOT have WMDs

All the available intelligence said it did. Thank you, Mr. President, for not ignoring evidence that a sworn enemy of the United States was preparing deadly weapons which could be used to strike America.

Iraq WAS NOT linked to Al Qaeda and 9/11

Actually, there are credible links between the Hussein regime and al Qaeda. But who are you to let the facts get in the way of a rant?

Iraq WAS NOT a threat or danger to America.

Hussein WAS shooting at American pilots engaged in lawful enforcement.

Hussein WAS in material violation of several United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Hussein DID plot to assassinate a former U.S. president.

Hussein DID give shelter to Abu Abbas.

Hussein DID give shelter to Abu Nidal.

Hussein WAS painfully oppressing his own people.

Boy, I could go on all day.

How can these moms who still support George Bush and his insane war in Iraq want more innocent blood shed just because their sons or daughters have been killed?

Nice. Your political opponents, some of whom are grieving mothers just like you and therefore share the absolute moral authority granted to you by Dowd, "want more innocent blood shed".

I don't understand it. I don’t understand how any mother could want another mother to feel the pain we feel.

Perhaps because these mothers know that there are causes worth fighting for. Perhaps they consider the liberation of upwards of twenty million people to be one of those causes.

I am starting to lose a little compassion for them.

But how could you? Their moral authority is absolute, is it not?

I know they have been as brainwashed as the rest of America, but they know the pain and heartache and they should not wish it on another.

Okay, so now not only do Sheehan's opponents want innocent blood shed, they wish "pain and heartache" on others. How evil those Gold Star mothers are!

However, I still feel their pain so acutely and pray for these "continue the murder and mayhem" moms to see the light.

I doubt your prayers will have any more effect than their prayers for you to stop sliming the sacrifice of your son and theirs.

August 27, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Two more grieving parents

Five gets you fifty that these two guys don't get a tenth the media coverage of Cindy Sheehan.

These two men, Gregg Garvey and Gary Qualls, each lost a son in Iraq, which gives them absolute moral authority according to Maureen Dowd. They're in Crawford now, camping out by the side of the road with some supporters. Sound familiar?

Except these two mourning parents support the war. Not only do they support the war, they are aghast at Cindy Sheehan. As Garvey eloquently puts it:

"I lost my oldest son in Iraq. I’ve been working on this memorial project for two years every since my son was killed. I was sitting at home in Florida watching what was going on here and had no idea what to expect. I’m not here because of politics. The election is over. The president won again, and it’s time as they say to move on again. But at the same time I was not going to sit at home and watch what was going on here, this travesty and injustice to my son and all of his fallen brothers and sisters.”

And then, later:

“We’re brothers in a way we never anticipated. We have a lot of the same healing towards the desecration of our sons and daughters. This is no longer about a grieving mother over there. She referred to these terrorists as freedom fighters. The media insists on calling them insurgents. They are neither. They are terrorists. We liberated that country and now the terrorists are invading that country.”

Camp Casey erected a field of 1,800+ crosses, to "honor" the fallen. Many families of these dead heroes would be appalled to have their son's or daughter's name used in support of these whackjobs, but Cindy Sheehan didn't ask them. Camp Qualls also has a field of crosses. But not 1,800+ of them... only those of the families who gave permission. Quite a few did. Some of them reportedly actually uprooted their child's cross from Camp Casey and delivered it to Camp Qualls. (Of course, this blog does not support theft.)

Let's check out Google News:

"Cindy Sheehan": 15,500 hits.
"Camp Casey": 2,170 hits.
"Gary Qualls": 896 hits
"Gregg Garvey": 3 hits
"Camp Qualls": 3 hits

Thanks, mainstream media, for once again making plain which side you're on!

(Great big hat tip to Eric Pfeiffer and his blog, The Buzz, at NRO. I've been remiss lately in reading the NRO blogs, and this is the kind of thing I've been missing.

August 27, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (12) | TrackBack

A question for the blue ribbon crowd

That's "blue ribbon" as opposed to "orange ribbon", of course. If you don't know what I'm talking about, click here. Actually, click there anyway. It's an Associated Press report via the Tampa Bay Tribune. We'll get back to it later.

Here's what I have to say to and ask the blues. Now that you've succeeded, now that you've removed people from homes they've lived in since they were born, now that the Israeli Army is completely out of Gaza, do you realize what's left behind? Do you know who will be running what will pass for the government of the Gaza Strip? Here's a hint: they won't pay much attention to the so-called Palestinian so-called Authority and its so-called President, Mahmoud Abbas. Starts with an H. Ends with an S. Recognized as a terrorist organization all over the world. Very, very popular in Gaza.

Congratulations, blues. You've just created a brand-new terrorist state.

You know, I wonder how many of the Western lefties who mindlessly chant "Israel Out of Palestine" give any thought to who will rule in Israel's absence. I wonder how many of them blast the Bush administration for allegedly not giving enough thought to postwar Iraq. I wonder how many of them don't care about Hamas because Hamas only kills Jews. I wonder how many of them actually support Hamas.

Now, that Associated Press article. Let's quote a little bit of it.

On the orange side are Jewish settlers and their supporters. On the blue side are peace activists.

I just love how the blues are described as "peace activists". As if the oranges don't want peace. As if any human being doesn't want peace. Thanks for the kind of unbiased "news" reporting we've come to expect, AP. ("Scare Quotes"TM are a registered trademark of Reuters.)

One final question for the blues. When satellite intelligence shows massive terrorist training camps in Gaza, when the new Hamas government starts claiming responsibility for the blowing to bits of teenaged Israeli girls who made the mistake of going to the record store... what then?

Postscript: There actually have been very few attacks lately from Gaza, thanks to the presence of a security fence -- er, I mean, crime against humanity.

Update: So much for the postscript. Captain Ed notes a suicide bombing in Israel near Gaza. This must be that "peace" we've heard so much about.

August 27, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 26, 2005

John McCain, give me a call

Good news, everybody. I just rewrote American campaign finance law. It was hard work, but I did it. Now all I need to do is write it up in bill form and present it to John McCain, who will surely become its champion.

Ready? Here it is:

  1. All limitations on campaign contributions and expenditures are hereby repealed.
  2. If somebody paid for it, then everybody has to know who did.

That's it. Beautiful in its simplicity, isn't it?

Remove the contribution limits on corporations. They're legal persons and have interests of their own.

Remove the contribution limits on unions... but strictly enforce the Beck rights of union workers.

And for God's sake, remove the contribution limits on individuals. They're as grotesque a violation of free speech as I've ever seen. The Republicans probably won't be happy (most of the gazillionaires are Democrats), but c'est la vie.

If somebody paid for it, everybody has to know who did.

Current law, in some cases, goes well beyond this. And this leads to confusion. A lack of clarity in Congress's definition of "in-kind contribution" has led to the FEC wondering if it has been mandated to regulate blogs. And a Washington judge recently ruled that radio editorials in favor of a ballot proposition constituted a regulated in-kind contribution. The law is vague and muddled, unlike my model of clarity. In my system, if someone paid a blogger to write something, he has to put "Paid for by Someschmoe for President" on the bottom. If a radio host gets money from a campaign, he has to declare that, too. And Someschmoe Inc. and Conservative Talk Radio Corporation have to declare it as well. Simple. In the words of Brooksie from The Shawshank Redemption, easy peasy Japanesy.

But don't we already have full disclosure? Isn't that what those "I'm Joe Bumblefudge, and I approve[d] this message" are all about? What about "Game Show Hosts for Truth is responsible for the content of this advertising" (not affiliated with any campaign or campaign committee)? Isn't everything disclosed already? Isn't that what all those huge databases available on fec.gov are all about?

Hey, I thought so too.

I live in Washington's Eighth Congressional District, which comprises the affluent Seattle suburbs of Bellevue and Mercer Island, and the better-than-affluent enclaves of Yarrow Point, Clyde Hill, and Medina. Contrary to freshman Representative Dave Reichert's web page, it also includes parts of Redmond, which I and my voter registration card can attest to personally.

According to the information on my Caller ID, at 7:31 PM on August 26, I received a call from "Out of Area." I was greeted by an automated recording, which stated (to the best of my recollection) "This is the American (something) Political Survey. Please answer these two questions." Okay, I thought, I'm always happy to give my opinion. "What is your opinion of Congressman Dave Reichert? If you approve of him, press 1. If you disapprove, press 2." I dutifully pressed 1.

This was followed by a string of diatribes against Mr. Reichert, which began with "He took (twenty-something) thousand dollars from oil company lobbyists." It continued on in a fashion I can't remember, but which I presume ended with, "...and he hates babies and small puppies." So I was pissed. Someone was trying a slimy push poll on me. I disapprove of these tactics, whether they're from Democrats or Republicans. Also, I question their effectiveness... they must only work on the really stupid. When the voice finished and commanded, "If the Congressional election were today, would you vote to re-elect Dave Reichert? If you would vote to re-elect, press 1. If you would not, press 2," I went ahead and pressed 2. Maybe if they think Reichert's seat is competitive they'll waste more money on it.

As I sat there listening to the rant, I couldn't wait until the end when I would hear the legally-required disclosure of who is paying for this poll, so I could expose them on my blog. "Hey, everybody, [insert organization here] is push-polling the 8th CD!" My fingers were poised over my keyboard, Notepad at the ready, as the voice finished, "Thank you. Goodbye. *click*"

I was stunned. Even more stunned than I am when a telemarketer breaks the law by hanging up on me when I demand a written copy of his employer's do-not-call policy. A lawbreaker! And a Democrat to boot! I couldn't wait to inform the world. I was sure that Stefan Sharansky would be interested in this.

So I started to write this post. In fact, I wrote most of it. The middle has remained pretty much the same, but the beginning and the end have changed a great deal. Because just when I was just about done, I thought I'd be really smug and post a citation to the law against it. Dutifully, I surfed over to the Federal Election Commission's web site, and was stunned a second time: it isn't illegal.

The FEC's annual report, in a section titled "Legislative Recommendations" warned:

Congress might want to consider adding disclaimer requirements for so-called "push poll" activity. This term generally refers to phone bank activities or written surveys that seek to influence voters, such as by providing false or misleading information about a candidate. This practice appears to be growing.

Congress has thus far failed to act. Oh, and this was the FEC's 1996 annual report.

Someone is campaigning, is spending money to campaign, and I don't know who that is. And that's wrong.

The Push Poll Disclosure Act of 2005 languishes in the House. Call your Congressman. Dave Reichert, if you're reading this, I expect to see your name on this bill as a cosponsor soon, or maybe my answer to Question 2 will be accurate.

August 26, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack