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March 3, 2004

Forming up. For the convenience of Electrolite readers inclined to toss them some support, handy links to the Kerry campaign, the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee are now in the sidebar to the left.

All of them are worth your bucks. Unseating Bush is important; so is taking back Congress. The latter is certainly more of an uphill fight, but even reducing the Republican margin would count as progress. Remember, having Tom DeLay and Bill Frist in charge of the House and Senate significantly expands the scope of no-goodness up to which the nincompoops in the White House and Pentagon can get. And having Exterminator and Death-to-Kittens running Congress for the first couple of years of a Kerry administration would seriously limit how much could be done to repair the damage done over the previous several years. So to heck with the virtues of divided government. It all matters.

At the same time, the Democratic National Committee is important too. One of the points of having a national party is to command resources that can be tactically deployed. Money raised by Senator Smith’s campaign can’t be redirected to Congressional challenger Jones, even if Senator Smith is comfortably far ahead and challenger Jones’s race is neck-and-neck. But the DNC can pick and choose where to spend DNC money. You can be sure the Republicans do the same. So if all this talk of alphabet-soup party machinery repels you and makes you grumble about how you’re a political independent, not some kind of Party Hack, just close your eyes, breathe evenly, and murmur to yourself Chief Justice Scalia. Chief Justice Scalia. Spiritual enlightenment will follow.

Meanwhile, the DNC, the DSCC, and the DCCC all have blogs, too. The latter, first mentioned on Electrolite just a couple of weeks ago, even manages to be funny and snarky, just as if it were written by a human being or something:

As hard as it may be to believe, Katherine Harris, the former Florida Secretary of State and current Representative from the 13th District of Florida, attended a TRMPAC (Tom DeLay’s PAC to funnel money into Texas state elections—which paved the way for their re-redistricting) fundraiser in Austin in 2002.

This fundraiser was paid for by corporate money, which may be illegal. A grand jury is investigating. I know. Tom Delay and Katherine Harris accused of violating election law? I am as shocked as you are.

The Dallas Morning News has the story (registration required).

Please register your support for Tom DeLay and Rep. Harris in the comments below. I am not sure where to send donations to their legal defense fund…

Act now, act without thinking, send all these outfits some bucks today. [12:06 PM]
Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on Forming up.:

Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2004, 12:34 PM:

State parties also have congressional election funds. I contributed to the Oregon fund last year.

Act locally and all that.

(And I found out just the other day that Oregon lets you take as a deduction $50 of political contributions!)

Nina ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2004, 03:03 PM:

Do you have a specific amount of pennies you ask us to add to a donation, so that they know it's from your readers? Kos adds a penny, Atrios .18.

Act now before all the good numbers are taken!

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2004, 03:23 PM:

Absolutely. I'll take ".00".

Fear my fundraising might!

Chuck Divine ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2004, 03:56 PM:

PNH writes:

"act without thinking"

Off to the side he quotes:

“They lied to you. The Devil is not the Prince of Matter; the Devil is the arrogance of the spirit, faith without smile, truth that is never seized by doubt. The Devil is grim because he knows where he is going, and, in moving, he always returns whence he came.” (Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose)

I don't act without thinking. To me that's the road to disaster.

Currently I'm more inclined to support John Kerry than George W. Bush. But, to toss a bit of iconoclasm into the mix, I'll say one good thing about the Bush administration.

A couple of years ago the very bad NASA Administrator Dan Goldin resigned (possibly because it was about to come out how bad he'd been). Goldin was a bipartisan disaster. He was appointed by Bush I and kept on all throughout Clinton's two terms.

The man Bush II picked as Goldin's successor is, by all reliable accounts, an incredible improvement. I'd like to see Kerry pick a Democratic equivalent to Sean O'Keefe if he's elected.

The new Bush space proposal seems like a major improvement as well.

Granted, both of these improvements were, to some degree, forced by events. But at least Bush II managed to make things better, not worse.

Yes, I'm very engaged in how we do science and technology in this country today. I think we're getting it wrong in major ways. I'm not a one issue voter, but I want to see Democrats -- if elected -- imrpove this situation, not make it worse.

That's enough for now.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2004, 04:52 PM:

"Act now, act without thinking, send money today" is an old joke that has appeared on Electrolite at least twice before.

In fact Electrolite stands four-square in favor of thinking before acting. Just wanted to clear that up.

Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2004, 04:54 PM:


I can't tell if you're being extremely subtle, or slightly bone-headed. "... the Devil is... faith without smile, truth that is never seized by doubt. The Devil is grim ..." Whereas, "Act now, act without thinking..." is, in my country, what we call a j-o-k-e.

So, why _did_ you quote Eco? Enquiring minds want to know.

Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2004, 07:22 PM:

I think the Bush fils proposal on Mars, et al. is a cynical ploy, (like his going to various places to praise the work they do, a few days before he guts their budgets) to get people like us to support him.

Given the changes he has caused in the economy (that whole slash and spend thing) I can't see him carrying out the program.

But it sure looks good as a campaign issue, sort of like CO2 reductions, and treating developing nations with humility.


BSD ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2004, 08:26 PM:

Actually, being a positive thinker, I find that murmuring "Chief Justice Ginsburg" to myself and getting a nice, mellow feeling works better than the screaming terrors and need to lie down I get from "Chief Justice Scaliaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhgggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhh"

Excuse me... I need some of my "medicine"...

natasha ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2004, 08:40 PM:

Chuck - As someone who really supports space travel and colonization in the future, I have this to say to that: Bush's space policy is a cynical publicity ploy designed to cut off funding to other projects like the Hubble and global warming monitoring. Just like his support for hydrogen fuel cells, he passes over worthwhile existing projects to support pie-in-the-sky endeavors that wouldn't bear any fruit until long after he'd be gone, if ever.

With these people, it's always jam yesterday and jam tomorrow, but never jam today.

rickfman ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2004, 06:08 AM:

Take a look at this detailed commentary on the new Bush ad campaign, and how Kerry should respond:

Chuck Divine ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2004, 01:43 PM:


Probably slightly boneheaded this time. I don't hang out all the time on Electrolite. I haven't heard that joke before. Interestingly enough, I have a very well developed sense of humor -- sometimes subtle, sometimes not. If you check out my web site, you will see ample evidence.

Why did I select the Eco quote? Because I've encountered entirely too many people (of a variety of political and nonpolitical persuasions) on the net who are never seized by any sort of doubt. I find them unbearable -- and wrongheaded. When they wind up agreeing with me, I check my arguments again.

It's entirely possible I've become too sensitized to humorless fools -- at least in some contexts.

Next time I see that joke, I'll laugh.

Terry, Natasha,

I personally know Republicans who are quite involved in space politics. They are honest, good people. They are doing good work. Are they above criticism? No. But I do think they are on our side.

NASA has been a dreadful mess for some time. Check out the Columbia report. Or you could come to one of my talks.

So, while I'm all over the place politically (OK, I can't stand either the religious right or Ralph Nader), I can give the Bushies somewhat positive marks in this area. Part of my own political style is to be open, friendly and democratic as much as possible. Yes, I can be quite angry at times. You'll find some of that in some of the serious stuff on my web site. But even when I'm angry, I try to control it and moderate it -- I don't want to be owned by my anger.

Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2004, 06:07 PM:

Oh, I am not owned by my anger (otherwise I might be in prison... these days I own a lot more anger than I want), but I look at the monies authorized for all sorts of things, then I look at the monies appropriated, and I gnash my teeth.

I look at the stuff moved from this bucket, to that bucket, and I tear my hair.

I look at the left hand taking what the right hand giveth and I rend my garments.

Then when I've done with the self-indulgent grieving I collect my thoughts, go to and fro in the world and preach against the ways of things today.

I would love to see a mission to ANYWHERE. Based on what I have seen of this administration I can not, no way, no how, believe they mean it.

If there were money to back it up, if he had kept any of the promises he made, if he had ever met a tax cut, or a benefit reduction for the masses which he didn't like, maybe I'd grant him credit here.

Be he hasn't, and I won't let myself be owned by my hopes and dreams either. In politics I have learnt to subordinate a lot of my gross decision making from my heart to my head.

Which is no small part of why I come here, and to places like this, so that I can enjoy my dreams with those who share them, rekindle my hope, affirm my belief that mankind is full of goodness, and so avoid the black pit of despair.

Terry K

tomb ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2004, 04:56 AM:

Okay, it's know your candidate time, with a special on book reports. I finished Tour of Duty, by Douglas Brinkley. Brinkley seems to be a historian in the tradition of Stephen Ambrose, so it is a good book to read if you want to be inspired. I certainly was.

If you haven't already read it, I'd like to recommend the Boston Globe's special series John Kerry: A Candidate in the Making. Obviously the Globe knows Kerry well, and it is with great journalistic pride that they point out his lapses and his shortcomings, but overall I'd say that Kerry comes out relatively unscathed (and not for the first time).

Thanks for the links to the DCCC and DSCC. I will be contributing. The way I see it, either I pay now, to people I like, or Bush will take much more from me in the future, against my will.

Chuck Divine ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2004, 09:31 AM:


I'm past looking for a mission to anywhere. While I understand the crowd that thinks an inspiring mission with a proper budget is all that NASA needs to fix what ails it, I tend to disagree.

Personally, I want to see the space field morph into an entity which can easily support multiple ventures by less than national level organizations. I think this requires the reform of the field into one that is more free, open, flexible and democratic. Is such a reform possible? I and others think it is.

I don't know how many of the people who read Electrolite have actually worked in contemporary aerospace. When people ranging from me to the Columbia Accident Investigation Board say things are screwed up, you can trust that we're telling the truth. And, yes, even after the recent successes on Mars, the situation is still really screwed up. Those triumphs happened with inadequate testing and severe stresses on the people who did the work. Around JPL, I have heard, they joked that Spirit and Opportunity should really have been named Divorce and Exhaustion. Looks like some reform is still needed at NASA.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2004, 02:24 PM:

"I don't know how many of the people who read Electrolite have actually worked in contemporary aerospace."

Um, more than you might think. Plus veterans of various kinds of space advocacy. We've had more than one lively discussion of the issues you raise.

Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2004, 04:44 PM:

I would love to see a free-wheeling space program, but this ain't it.

In fact I would argue (though more as devil's advocate) that such a proposal by the White House reduces the chance, since there is less incentive to spend the money on the part of the private sector, and any failure will make it seem less feasible than it actually might be.

And, having been in the fringes of the aerospace industry, I know it's screwed up. I just don't think a bit of Potemkin vilage on the subject is going to help, and if it gets this man re-elected I think it will do more harm than not.

Terry K

Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2004, 06:25 PM:

I've gotten over my snit and just gave Kerry thirty-five bucks.

Chuck Divine ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2004, 01:06 PM:

PNH, Terry, All,

I'm only an occasional visitor on this board. The things I've said so far are things I've addressed to the general public. I'm not surprised to find out there's been discussion I haven't been aware of.

The only name I've seen that I recognize (besides PNH & TNH) is Tim Kyger's. Tim possibly remembers me from old L5 days.

This discussion has been most interesting. I've learned some good things about people here. I'll try to spend more time here -- and speak with more knowledge about the crowd.