Archive for July of 2006

July 17, 2006
Bush in Germany: Like a Staged Communist Rally

(Crossposted at the Daily Kos.)

Dubya's visit to Germany has come and gone, and with it a week of protests and peace activism throughout the country (I have an earlier post about the planned protests and over-the-top security, and a photo album about the protest in Hamburg). The event was not much different from what we're used to seeing in the Rovian era of stylish media appearances: a speech with a TV-friendly, aesthetic background, a peculiar press conference in which Bush couldn't stop ranting about a roast pig (even in response to serious questions about the crisis in the Middle East), and as always, a hand-picked Bush-friendly crowd guaranteed to greet him enthusiastically and make him look like a popular, beloved leader. According to news reports, about 1000 hand-picked guests were invited to the outdoor photo-op, and the national news dutifully reported their friendly applause. Meanwhile, protestors were required to stay far away from the show (although Greenpeace managed to get some messages up in plain view, as they will do).

For Americans, these media-savvy appearances with selected, friendly audiences, shielded from any potential opposition, has become a familiar if annoying constant of the Bush presidency, hardly worth commenting any more. But for many citizens of former East Germany, where the visit took place, the spectacle was unnerving, since it was in many ways similar to the ways rallies of the Communist era were staged and reported by the state propaganda apparatus. As a colleague who comes from Leipzig wrote to me: "In those times they would have said, 'About 1000 deserving workers gave an enthusiastic reception to the Chairman of the CPSU.' I have to puke."

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July 16, 2006
Armageddon Days (are here again)

.. if you think that Jesus Christ is coming
Honey, you?ve got another think coming
If he ever finds out who?s hijacked his name
He?ll cut out his heart and turn in his grave

Islam is rising
The Christians mobilizing
The world is on its elbows and knees
It?s forgotten the message and worships the creeds

... If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today
He?d be gunned down cold by the CIA
Oh, the lights that now burn brightest
Behind stained glass
Will cast the darkest shadows
Upon the human heart
But God didn?t build himself that throne
God doesn?t live in Israel or Rome
God doesn?t belong to the Yankee dollar
God doesn?t plant the bombs for Hezbollah
God doesn?t even go to church
And God won?t send us down to Allah to burn
God will remind us what we already know
That the human race is about to reap what it?s sown
-- The The

(Helmet tip to General JC Christian, Patriot)

July 16, 2006
OH-15: Blackwell denies conservative independent challenge

(Crossposted at the Daily Kos.)

Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell (he of the notorious election irregularities) has refused to allow conservative challenger Charlie Morrison to get on the November ballot of Ohio's 15th district as an independent (here is Morrison's brief). His decision will almost certainly help his Republican party ally, the incumbent Deborah Pryce, who very likely would have lost votes to Morrison. Mary Jo Kilroy, the Democratic challenger, has issued a statement saying: "It's a shame that Democracy was denied to Charles Morrison by Ken Blackwell and the Republican Party. It raises the question, what are Deborah Pryce and Ohio Republicans so afraid of?" (See my earlier post on the subject.)

Blackwell's ruling says that he "has always publicly advocated for more access to the ballot" and that Morrison's challenge raises an "otherwise convincing rationale", but nevertheless concludes that his candidacy does not satisfy the legal requirements for an independent run, because he voted in the Republican primary and ran (unsuccessfully) for state and local offices in the party.

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July 13, 2006
"Not Welcome, Mr. Bush" in Hamburg

(Crossposted to the Daily Kos.)

In protest of Bush's visit to Germany (he arrived Wednesday and leaves on Friday), peace protests are already taking place throughout the country under the banner "Not Welcome, Mr. Bush" (as I wrote about earlier). The largest demonstrations are expected at his visit to the Baltic city of Stralsund on Thursday, but local protests throughout the country began this past weekend and will continue until the coming weekend. On Wednesday I attended a demonstration in Hamburg and took pictures. More details below the jump.

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July 08, 2006
Germans say "Not Welcome, Mr. President"

(Crossposted at the Daily Kos)

From July 12th to the 14th, Dubya and Condi Rice will stop over in Germany on their way to the G8 summit in St. Petersburg, by invitation of Chancellor Angela Merkel. They will be visiting the northeastern cities of Stralsund and Trinwillershagen, which are in the district that Merkel represents as a member of the Bundestag, in the northern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, formerly a part of East Germany. The G7 summit in 2007, when Germany has the rotating presidency, is planned to take place in this area. According to preliminary plans, Bush and Merkel will visit the Stralsund Old City, which is on an island and is off-limits to protesters, where they will visit the Rathaus and the St. Nikolai Church, and will greet crowds. Then they take the autobahn over to Trinwillershagen (winner of awards under the East German regime for agricultural production, and a favorite destination of Communist dictator Erich Honecker, who led the building of the Berlin Wall), where Bush and Merkel will feast on grilled boar.

Protests under the banner "Not Welcome, Mr. President" are planned throughout Germany and have already begun. The largest protests are expected in Stralsund on July 13th, where some 12,000 to 15,000 police officers (including sharpshooters and divers) will provide security, at an estimated cost of about 20 million Euros (that's about $25 million).

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July 05, 2006
My Letter to Kenneth Blackwell

(Crossposted at the Daily Kos)

J. Kenneth Blackwell
Ohio Secretary of State

Borden Building
180 East Broad Street
Columbus, OH 43215

Dear Mr. Secretary,

Yesterday I received the postcard acknowledgment of my application for an absentee ballot, confirming my participation in the 2006 General Elections in Ohio. I am very grateful to the men and women who work in the Franklin County Board of Elections for the timely processing of my application.

It was an appropriate stroke of luck that my confirmation arrived on the Fourth of July. As I'm sure you agree, elections form the cornerstone of democracy and are the source of all of the great achievements we have seen in the United States since 1776, and in Ohio since 1803. Absentee ballots only make up a small number of the votes cast, but after the close election in Ohio in 2004, and the controversial result in Florida in 2000, we have learned that absentee votes can determine the outcome of elections that have far-reaching consequences for our nation and our state. My ballot is the means I have to affect the future course of Ohio and the country, and I take that responsibility very seriously.

From my prior experience with absentee voting, I know that the postcard that arrived yesterday is the only form of acknowledgment I receive concerning my vote. After my ballot is mailed, I receive no information about what happened to it. The ballot is a punchcard that is presumably processed by a machine, but in the past I have not known for certain whether it was counted properly, or even if it was received by the Board of Elections at all. While most voters at least have the subjective impression of certainty when they cast their vote at an official polling place, the fate of an absentee ballot is, in my experience, rather mysterious.

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