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American Greatness
By Brad Friedman on 8/13/2004 1:40pm PT  

(Blogged by Brad on the road...in the woods...on 8/10/04 at 8:43p PDT)

Not sure when this item will get posted, as I'm writing from site #25 at the Aspen Point campgrounds in Lake of the Woods, Oregon.

The sun is all but set now, though the lake still shimmers from the remains of the day as Desi builds a fire, and I peck out a Blog Item to be posted whenever the Internet and I shall next meet.

The weather here has been exceptional. Each day in the 90's and pushing 100 near the water's edge. But here amongst the towering Ponderos pines, many of them 200 feet or more, (think Styx's Grand Illusion cover meets Stephen King's Any Book That Takes Place in the Woods meets Dirty Dancing) it stays dry and cool all day long.

Our one night stay here has turned into four nights when our calculations determined that we could be here with a great view of the night sky on the night of the 11th, morning of the 12th when the Perseides Meteor Shower is predicted to be in fine and stunning form.

Lake of the Woods is in the Southern part of Oregon's Cascade Mountain Range. A chain of currently-dormant and spectacular volcanic peaks, cone and lava fields that have left a wonder of a summer playground for those Americans (and otherwise) clever enough to take advantage of them.

Today's day trip took us forty or so minutes north to the breathtaking Crater Lake National Park which has mostly inspired this evening's twilight entry.

For a measly $10 to the shamefully underfunded National Park System we were able to enjoy the entire day slowly working our way around the 33-mile rim road that encircles yet another natural American Marvel. In this case, one I didn't even realize existed until it found it's way onto our imagined path Northward smack dab in the middle of our well worn 2001 Rand-McNally Road Atlas.

Formed some 7700 years ago, when the former Mt. Mazama blew it's literal load and collapsed into itself forming a six-mile wide sinkhole surronded by towering peaks of molten lava, this awe inspiring site spent the next several thousand years collecting rainfall and snowmelt to become the bluest and deepest lake in the United States. And it's such a rich, vibrant --- even unnatural --- color of blue, such as I don't recall seeing before that the only comparison we could come up with was an overdose of Tidy Bowl. Hopefully you get the drift.

Reservations were unavailable for the Restaraunt (with mouth watering menu!) in the elegant old Crater Lake Lodge at the end of the day. So appetizers in the firelit Great Room would have to suffice. And so the day's journey ended at dusk sipping an excellent Red Crater beer (from the great local Deschutes Brewery) and munching on inspired appetizers overlooking the lake a few thousand feet below us.

The inspiration for this entry is not so much to share today's adventure with you, but to once again share some of the news that it took me, personally, and to my own shame, some three decades to discover; The extraordinary National Park and National Forest System that we have in this country.

If you're not taking advantage of these National Treasures whenever possible, you're out of your mind. If you're not doing everything you can to support these "local" Wonders of the World, then you simply must be unaware of their unparalled majesty.

I've heard America described over and over as "the greatest country in the world", but often wonder --- particularly when you hear something like that outta the mouth of the current Resident of the White House, who'd never even travelled across an ocean before becoming installed as "President" --- exactly what it is that makes us so "great".

I know it ain't our "freedoms" here, as many countries I've visited seem to be far "freer". It's certainly not the education or health of our citizenry. Other countries are much "greater" in both of those regards. We've had great victories in war, but also shameless failures in that same regard. We're technologically very clever, but have given up much of our lead in those areas as well. With our current Administration we are losing all sorts of ground in the area of science "greatness". Our economic system is certainly "great" as every country in the world seems to measure theirs against ours, though the seperations between the Have's and Have More's continue to widen and even the International Monetary Fund is taking us to task for our current Tax Cut and Spend Blowout. (Even Warren Buffett is chosing to invest in the Euro, instead of the Dollar! And for good reason!) Our system of government might have been considered "great" until the Stolen Election of 2000 and all the inequalities it revealed.

So what can we regard as "greatness" indeed? The still-mostly-protected wonders of our National Parks and Forests. Why any national politician could fail to see and protect with all their might the greatest of earth's miracles that we've inherited as a nation is far beyond me. The price is so small, given the rewards they present to every strata of American Society.

Teddy Roosevelt knew this of course, when he declared Crater Lake the country's 6th National Park back in 1902, long before there was any danger of Wal-Mart hoping to open up a new super-store on the rim, and even before the Logging Companies had figured out how to "save our forests" from devastating fire by clear-cutting them. FDR continued to understand the importance of these National Icons by pouring funds into them to protect, develop and make them family friendly through many CCC projects that still stand today as testament to a forward thinker and a great American.

I've rambled on enough, the light on my keyboard is gone, and the gnats are now migrating towards my computer screen, so I suppose that's more than enough for this evening.

Point of it all: Hit the roads, enjoy the parks and all that America has to offer. Skip the airplane, bust out an atlas and pay attention to those areas highlighted by a thick purple or red boundary line. They are the best that a Great America has to offer.

And while I'm at it, don't stand for any politician slacking off in their role as temporary proprietor of these Majestic Wonders!

Now back to my campfire. And back to your regularly scheduled fire fight.

UPDATE: Click here to easily send a letter giving your opinion of the Bush Administration's recent opening of National Forests to the Logging Companies!

UPDATE 8/30/04: Here's me blogging the entry above at Lake of the Woods!

More pictures from Crater Lake and the rest of the Road Trip here!

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By Brad Friedman on 8/8/2004 12:21pm PT  

(Blogged by Brad on the road...)

While driving the scenic mountain byways at dusk up here near the California/Oregon border, we always must remind ourselves to be very careful of deer who enter the road and become transfixed by our headlights.

Hope you'll do the same this summer. Here's your reminder...

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By Brad Friedman on 8/8/2004 12:15pm PT  

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(Three Cheers for Wireless Access!)
By Brad Friedman on 8/8/2004 12:06pm PT  

(Blogged by Brad on the road...)

Our trek through three battleground states (Nevada, Oregon and Washington), helping to influence the electorate to do the right thing, takes us back into Northern California for 24 hours or so and man is it glorious up here!

Not only are the folks smart enough to vote against George W. Bush without any efforts on our part, they get to look at stuff like that mountain you see on the right. It's Mount Shasta and it was outside our motel room window last night. Very lucky us.

All my years in Southern California, and I've never made it North of San Francisco until now! What was I waiting for?!

Hoping to find a beautiful campsite on the shores of one of the many lakes up here, and into Oregon (near Klamath) where we plan to end up shortly. Just thought I'd quickly check in to say hello, from this friendly wireless coffee shop. And happy to see that johnhp was already on the Hypocrital Keyes issue!

So it turns out that Keyes doesn't have the moral integrity he seemed to have enjoyed acting like he had in the past, and that it turns out it's power he craves after all, as he is willing to represent the people of Illinois as a Maryland resident (see John's previous post for more details).

It's good to be out of the catfighting for a few days, though with news cycles happening every two hours these days, I'm always eager to check in. Hopefully our Fake Conservative friends, Paul and Ed will come back in to let us know how the Libs here are all wet! It's always fun! And in all seriousness, I'm very impressed, for the most part, at the level of honest discussion and debate that has occurred here over the last few weeks. With things as hot as they are now, most similar discussions quickly degrade into hostility and name-calling. For the most part, I'm glad to see BRAD BLOGGERS have avoided that quicksand. For now, anyway :-)

See you all at the next available Internet Outpost! And thanks again to Johnhp, Jaime and Bryan for keeping the fire lit under the lying liars!

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By Brad Friedman on 8/6/2004 12:42pm PT  

(Blogged by Brad on the road...)

We'll be moving Northward very shortly on our great trek and thus leaving the mysterious wireless access that reached us in our 10th floor hotel room at the Sands in Reno. I don't know when I'll get net access again. Could be tomorrow, could be two weeks. So until I'm able to revisit, here's a couple of (possible) parting thoughts for a while...

From my hotel room, I've been able to watch the line reach around the corner each day starting at around 11am for the Soup Kitchen next door to our hotel. I know that Bush and Rush and BRAD BLOG Commenter Paul have told us that this is "the best economy" in twenty years. So all I can assume is that those men (and they are all men) who are lined up around the block do so because they are lazy and they enjoy waiting in line in the blistering 95+ degree desert heat for 45 minutes each day. Either that, or the food at the soup kitchen is really good.

As the latest Zogby poll shows that Kerry is now leading in 13 out of the 16 "battleground states", I can conclude only that he must have gotten Nevada wrong by leaning it towards Bush. Since I have been in Nevada, I have seen two political bumper stickers. Both for Kerry. Therefore, using Fox News' "some people say..." logic, or Paul's "I have a co-worker who believes..." logic, it's clear that Nevada will instead be going to Kerry as well, since "every bumper sticker I've seen in Nevada is now supporting Kerry".

Meanwhile, I'm still waiting for the Rush and Fox News reports that tear Sen. Richard Shelby a new one for leaking classified information while the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, as Johnhp mentioned here previously. And I imagine I'll be waiting a while. Shelby is, unlike Sandy Berger --- who's been accused of nothing --- a Republican after all. So different rules of "outrage" apply.

I'm also waiting for the Bush Administration, as John McCain demanded of them, to condem the scurrillous allegations by Veteran Bush Supporters that Kerry fabricated the stories of his bravery in service in Vietnam and caused self-inflicted wounds to receive Purple Hearts. I'll likely be waiting a while for that too, I guess, since the White House has refused to condemn that group and their ads to that effect which are now airing in swing states.

Thanks to Johnhp, Jaime and Bryan for their great Guest Blog contributions! And to everyone else for supporting the BRAD BLOG! Go buy a ticket to see Springsteen and Fogerty and the Dixie Chicks and REM and Pearl Jam this October as they fight for all that's good in America! And use that Email it to Someone! button on each item to bring in more folks (on the Right or the Left!) over here so --- as the Jesus Loving Abortion Clinic Bombers on the Right might say - the Good News keep spreading!

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"Freud in Action" Edition
By Brad Friedman on 8/5/2004 3:06pm PT  

(Blogged by Brad from the road...)


"They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."
- Your Commander-in-Chief, today, speaking about terrorists.

Smoking Gun has the video for posterity.

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America Under Attack
By Brad Friedman on 8/5/2004 12:13pm PT  

(Blogged by Brad from the road...)

In 1942 the U.S. Government forced some 150,000 Americans of Japanese descent, two-thirds of them actually born in America, to leave their communities, sell their houses (if they were able to in the two weeks time they were given) and relocate to one of 10 "relocation" or "internment" camps here in the United States of America.

A few days ago, while on the road, we had the occasion to stop by and spend a few hours at what is left of the Manzanar Relocation Camp between Lone Pine and (ironically, enough) Independence, California. The remains of the camp are found on a quiet dusty stretch of lonely Highway 395 as it runs along the Eastern Sierras near Mt Whitney (at 14,000+ feet it's the tallest peak in the contiguous 48).

On the desert floor at the foot of the mountain range, lies the remains of Manzanar, shamelessly razed after 1945 as if to wipe out all memory of it's existence.

Some 10,000 Japanese-Americans, citizens, business owners, doctors, professionals, Army veterans and their families and thousands of children, were relocated into makeshift barracks in blockhouse rows here during WWII after the attack at Pearl Harbor. None of the interned were ever officially accused or convicted of "sabotage" against the United States.

This was our second time at Manzanar following the guided auto-tour along the ruins, imagining the life there for those four years. It was again a moving and troubling experience. In 1997 the area was taken over and protected by the National Park Service and finally, in April of 2004 --- over half a century after the camp was finally shut down --- a terrifically designed and very educational Interpretive Center has been opened in what had been the High School auditorium building, the only building still standing on the 800 acre site. The Center is chock full of information and artifacts which bring the place back to life after it has so shamelessly been relegated to the dustbin of Americas Forgotten History.

If you find yourself near Manzanar, set aside a few hours to learn and/or remember one of the shameful chapters in our country when we last panicked in the face of fear and gave in to our worst instincts in the name of "self protection". Last time it was under a Democratic President, this time it's under a Republican "President". Apparently, we haven't learned all that much from the last time we were attacked by an enemy we didn't understand and found ourselves willing to sacrifice much of what this country stands for in the name of giving in to our most base and unfounded fears.

The US Constitution, like our Tax Laws and our Welfare System has many flaws and loopholes to be exploited by those who care to for political or personal gain. It's our job, as Americans, to see to it that the spirit of that Constitution is upheld, no matter who the charlatans are who may wish to use our fears against what that document stands for.

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One from the Road...
By Brad Friedman on 8/5/2004 2:17am PT  

This one caught my eye, and while I've got some wireless net access from the road, I thought I'd drop it by...

Brought to my attention by AMERICAblog...

Here's the full story (courtesy of Knight-Ridder who, by the way, deserve some praise!) in case the story didn't make it at all onto Drudge or Fox.

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On the road again...
By Brad Friedman on 8/2/2004 11:46am PT  

I'll be out battling the forces of evil on the road for the next week or two. I hope to check in here when and if possible, but in the meantime, please welcome first-time Guest Bloggers, Jaime, Johnhp and Bryan to the BRAD BLOG! See their items as they roll in below this one. I'll leave it to them if they wish to introduce themselves, or just pick up where I left off, saving the world, and causing mayhem however possible. Keep 'em honest. Thanks as always for your support, and keep spreading the good word (the "Email it to Someone!" link at the bottom of each item works great!)

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These White Men in Blue Suits will Protect You!
We are 'a safer nation in danger'!
By Brad Friedman on 8/2/2004 11:33am PT  

See this previous item. Then read this:

"We are a nation in danger," Bush said as he announced his position during an appearance with top administration national security figures in the White House Rose Garden.
...
He said he had no plans to summon Congress back into a special session this summer. "They can think about them over August and come back and act on them in September," he said.

Just so you're not confused...remember, "America is safer now" and yet "We are a nation in danger". Threats are "imminent and real", but think about that during your August vacation. Also..."I am a war President" and "I am a peace President".

Got that? Confused? Good, that's just where we want you. Happy and not afraid and angry and terrified.

Now go out, enjoy the summer by vacationing with your families and shop, and buy duct tape and be aware of your surroundings at all times. The threat is real though the terror alert color will not be changed. Have a nice/horrible day.

(We're Bush-Cheney '04, and we approve of this mixed message.)

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By Brad Friedman on 8/1/2004 4:18pm PT  

The Democratic radio address Saturday was given by a Retired General and Bush 2000 supporter...

A former Air Force chief of staff and one-time "Veteran for Bush" said Saturday that America's foreign relations for the first three years of President Bush's term have been "a national disaster" but that the president's Democratic rival was "up to the task" of rebuilding.

When both the "Solid South" and the Military are falling away from a Republican "President", one needn't be Miss Cleo in order to connect the dots.

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A Dark Chapter in American History
By Brad Friedman on 8/1/2004 4:08pm PT  

I had planned a review of the various failed strategies of the Bush-Cheney Campaign, and a look at what is left for them to try. I hope to do just that before leaving town shortly.

But by way of a preview, Atrios hit upon the lynchpin of a very dark and dangerous truth. There is only one way for Bush-Cheney right now to eke out a win (short of Kerry imploding of his own volition). In the attempt to do so, I'm sad to say, they'll be manipulating and preying upon the fears of the American people between now and November in every subtle, and sometimes not-so-subtle, way possible.

Here's a perfect example of their only "hope". And it's a dark, cynical, and dangerous one indeed...

Playing Politics With Terror Alerts

Ridge, today:

But we must understand that the kind of information available to us today is the result of the president's leadership in the war against terror, the reports that have led to this alert are the result of offensive intelligence and military operations overseas, as well as strong partnerships with our allies around the world, such as Pakistan.

Today's "terror alert", coming as it did earlier enough to make it onto the Sunday News Programs after a universally lauded DNC Convention, along with the announced arrest in Pakistan last Thursday (on the morning of Kerry's big speech) of one of the African Embassy bombers who had been captured the previous Sunday (but the announcement waited as requested until "'twenty-six, twenty-seven, or twenty-eight July'--the first three days of the Democratic National Convention in Boston") shows that the Bush Leaguers are not ashamed in the least to play this card. Ridge's phrasing above demonstrates that clearly.

This is not the stuff of conspiracy theorists. This is the stuff of subtle, shrewd and cynical manipulation of the very real fears of the American people.

While such tactics should be out of bounds at all times --- and from both parties in this country --- Bush-Cheney has such a dreadful "record of achievement" to draw from, and their other hopes of dividing and conquering have amounted to little more than $100 million down the drain, this sort of insidiously subtle parasitism may well be the only prayer they have left. Clearly they are not above the moral dishonesty required to exploit such a cynical tactic for all they can.

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By Brad Friedman on 8/1/2004 3:23pm PT  

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Soviet States of America?
By Brad Friedman on 8/1/2004 12:35pm PT  

Updating a previous item on the Bush-Cheney campaign requiring a signed pledge of loyalty to George W. Bush before allowing voters to attend a Dick Cheney campaign event...

Drudge is finally running a piece on this now that it's being suggested that "some Democrats" were required to sign loyalty oaths.

Am I just a pinko, commie, terrorist Freedom Hater if I think that shouldn't really make any damn difference...here in America?! The story doesn't exactly inform us how campaign officials knew who were Democrats and who weren't, and even goes on to say that "Some Democrats who are Bush supporters were welcomed without signing anything."

The story also does not explain how the Bush campaign would know which Democrats were Bush supporters and which weren't.

But read on...

Vietnam veteran Michael Ortiz y Pino said he refused to sign the pledge and was refused tickets.

Ortiz y Pino said he was asked if he associated with veterans, pro-life, gun rights or teacher groups.

Neither man wanted to give driver's license numbers but did so.

"I said why do you need that?" Ortiz y Pino said.

A campaign worker, he said, replied: "Secret Service stuff."

PLEASE, is there any conservative out there who can explain to me how this is what you are looking for in a "conservative" nominee for President of the United States (of America!)??

Once again...here is what the "pledge" says. The one you must sign to see your Vice-President speak during a Presidential Campaign:

"I, (full name) ... do herby (sic) endorse George W. Bush for reelection of the United States." It later adds that, "In signing the above endorsement you are consenting to use and release of your name by Bush-Cheney as an endorser of President Bush."

Dan Foley, of the Bush Campaign, explains...

"The endorsement pledges, he said, were for screening purposes, not for any advertisement listing names of Democrats who support Bush.

Oh, well that's a relief!

Anyway, the story is now linked on Drudge, so it should be reported by the Mainstream Media shortly. As long as it hasn't been taken it down by Monday.

UPDATE: A follow-up piece from the Albuquerque Journal would seem to defy the "some Democrats" report which claimed that it was just people who called from "a line that self-identified as ACT, America Coming Together, an activist group that supports Kerry."

As well, it quotes a Republican National Committee spokesperson, Yier Shi, explaining the policy for restricting the event --- at a public school gymnasium! --- only to the loyal ones:

Democrats, independents and others were welcome to attend the speech, he saidó as long as they like Bush and Cheney.
And people should understand that Cheney is visiting New Mexico in the role of a candidate for re-election, Shi said, explaining that Republicans are treating the trip as a political campaign visit and not as an official visit of the vice president.
"The argument that you're an American and you have a right to see the vice presidentó you can when he comes to New Mexico on an official visit," Shi said. "On this visit, he's Dick Cheney, a candidate for vice president and he happens to also be the vice president."

Got that distinction?

This is a campaign in big --- very big --- trouble.

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RNC Convention Website conspicuously short on info!
By Brad Friedman on 7/31/2004 5:40pm PT  

It's odd, but since the DNC Convention has ended, I just can't wait for the next one! The big RNC Convention starts in a few weeks, so I was reading up on it at the official RNC Convention website!

Given the previous two items about signed loyalty oaths being required to attend a Dick Cheney rally, and the Bush-Cheney campaign's requirement for journalists to provide their race to the Bush Cheney campaign before getting security clearance, I thought I'd go and learn a little more about this Dick Cheney fellow!

I went straight to "presumptive nominee" Dick Cheney's official biography page at the site! Very impressive! Lots of interesting information! (Did you know his real name is "Richard"?! He certainly doesn't look like a Richard!)

He has a very impressive resume though! Reaching all the way back to the 60's as both a business man and public servant! But, there seems to be a gap in his resume on that page! It says nothing about what Dick Cheney was doing since he left his post as Sec. of Defense in 1993 until the time he became Vice-President in 2000.

Was he just taking a sabbatical or something during that time? Working for the Peace Corp, perhaps? (Though you'd think they would list that if he was). Spending time with his family? Writing a book? Or what? There's nothing mentioned about the years 1994 to 2001 at all!

On "presumptive nominee" George W. Bush's official biography page at the site, they speak in detail of his career in "the energy business" and as "managing general partner of the Texas Rangers" during that period. But for Cheney, during those same years, there seems to be nothing! I wonder if they forgot that part of his biography or something? Wierd.

ReddIt this story!



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