.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

The Tally Ho

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Mount St. Helens


Mount St. Helens
Originally uploaded by HeatherEggs.
Here in Portland, the big news of the day are all the tiny earthquakes happening in and around Mount St. Helens, which is only 65 miles away from Portland.

This is a picture of it as of today, smoking a little. It's cloudy today and from some places in Portland you can see the volcano. But I don't live on that side of town so I wont' get a chance to see it today. Maybe this weekend if it hasn't errupted yet, I might take a drive and have a look! I've never seen a volcano before!

Norah Jones is a goddess!

I know this post has nothing to do with what usually goes on here but last night Kevin (boyfriend) and I went to the Norah Jones concert. It's so refreshing to see a young professional girl with her kind of popularity that doesn't require her to dress provocativly or sing about whatever Britany Spears sings about. Norah looked good last night! Pair of jeans with a blue halter top (not tight or revealing) and high heal shoes. She's not the anorixic pop star that seems to be popular these days. Then again, Norah isn't a pop star, and judging the attendance last night, the mostly graying crowd didn't think she was a jazz singer either. Not to be categorized, I guess, which is the way I prefer it to be. Great musical performance by her entire Handsome Band and Norah sounded fantastic. We had great seats, probably the best i've ever had at a show, right in the center, 10 rows up. Wow...great show!

On a side note, John Kerry supporters were outside the concert venue passing out Kerry-Edwards stickers. I grabbed a few as did my Republican boyfriend to pass out at his work to the Kerry supporters there. See, even a Republican is helping out! Although he does plan on voting for Bush and I dont' know how to stop him! Discussion and debate don't work with him. I need to use some guerilla tactics. Any suggestion?

From my email box

This came from my email box.
Bush's own supporters don't know what his positions are because he lies all the time. From Kos:
As the nation prepares to watch the presidential candidates debate foreign policy issues, a new PIPA-Knowledge Networks poll finds that Americans who plan to vote for President Bush have many incorrect assumptions about his foreign policy positions. Kerry supporters, on the other hand, are largely accurate in their assessments. The uncommitted also tend to misperceive Bush's positions, though to a smaller extent than Bush supporters, and to perceive Kerry's positions correctly. Steven Kull, director of PIPA, comments: "What is striking is that even after nearly four years President Bush's foreign policy positions are so widely misread, while Senator Kerry, who is relatively new to the public and reputed to be unclear about his positions, is read correctly."

Majorities of Bush supporters incorrectly assumed that Bush favors including labor and environmental standards in trade agreements (84%), and the US being part of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (69%), the International Criminal Court (66%), the treaty banning land mines (72%), and the Kyoto Treaty on global warming (51%). They were divided between those who knew that Bush favors building a new missile defense system now (44%) and those who incorrectly believe he wishes to do more research until its capabilities are proven (41%). However, majorities were correct that Bush favors increased defense spending (57%) and wants the US, not the UN, to take the stronger role in developing Iraq's new government (70%).

The Latest Casualties of Bush's War

42 Killed.
141 Wounded.
72 of the wounded were under 14 years of age, 10 were US soldiers.
The day of violence across Iraq, including insurgent attacks and U.S. airstrikes in Fallujah, left a total of 46 people dead and 208 wounded.

In the northern city of Tal Afar, a car bomb targeting the police chief killed at least four people and wounded 16, Iraqi and U.S. officials said. The chief, whose name was only given as Col. Ismail, escaped the assassination attempt, police said.

Also Thursday, the Arab news network Al-Jazeera showed video of 10 new hostages seized in Iraq by militants. Al-Jazeera said the 10 — six Iraqis, two Lebanese and two Indonesian women — were taken by The Islamic Army in Iraq, a group that has claimed responsibility for seizing two French journalists.

A Lebanese official later said kidnappers had released one Lebanese captive, although it was not clear if he was among the 10.

In the al-Amel bombings, grief-stricken parents wailed over the bodies of their children at the Yarmouk Hospital morgue. One woman tore at her hair before pulling back the sheet covering her dead brother and kissing him.

One man carried his younger brother — both legs bandaged — to the hospital, where some children were put two to a bed because of the many wounded. Outside, women sat on the ground and wept as they awaited news about their children.

According to BushCo this means the terrorists are desperate, right? I guess we are also winning the hearts and minds. I hope this is brough up in the debate tonight...

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

PA Senate Race: Win-Win?

If there was ever an election in which voting straight Democrat or supporting every Democrat is important – this is one. Even if you disagree with an individuals politics, setting the agenda would be a nice change – and something Congressional Democrats have not done since ‘92-‘94 (Senate for two short years). Then there is the Senate race in Pennsylvania. Arlen Specter looks as if he is going to easily be reelected in a state where Mr. Bush will lose on 2 November. While Democrats need every Senate seat they can get, is losing this one so bad? First, Democrats will take Illinois (Obama), Oklahoma (Carson), Colorado (Salazar), and Alaska (Knowles) away from the Republicans while only losing South Carolina (don’t count Inez Tenenbaum out) and Georgia. This would give Democrats a 50-49-1 majority in the Senate. Add in the possibility of Lincoln Chafee (who has already said he isn't voting for Bush) joining Jim Jeffords as an independent and Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney having no power to appoint Mr. Kerry’s successor (legislature – filibuster proof Dem majority, say Senator Barney Frank), Democrats at least will control the Senate with a great opportunity to expand the margin by a few more in ’06.

In any case, here is the dilemma. How much support should Joe Hoeffel get? Let me throw this out here: Arlen Specter is pro-choice, anti FMA (for now), and has been endorsed by the AFL-CIO once again. Next year Mr. Specter will be the ranking member on the Senate’s Judiciary Committee. Republicans self impose term limits on chairmanships and Orin Hatch has reached his limit. If Specter is defeated, that position will then go to Arizona Senator Jon Kyl – who is anti-choice, pro FMA, and I doubt has ever been endorsed by the AFL-CIO. Considering Mr. Kerry will probably be appointing three justices in his first term, which will dramatically reshape the court, is 51 Senators instead of 50 more important than having Mr. Leahy and Specter controlling the Judiciary Committee? Mr. Kyl will certainly not be as friendly to Mr. Kerry’s nominees, and his interests, as Mr. Specter will be - ideological wise at least. Also, if by some chance Mr. Bush steals the election again (which Mr. Kerry will no doubt be more prepared legally than Mr. Gore was) wouldn’t Specter being the ranking Republican member be just as important to deny ultra conservatives from getting floor votes? True, Bush backed Specter in the primary over a right winger, but this is Specter's last term and doesn’t owe BushCo a thing.

Of course if I were in Pennsylvania I would vote for Hoeffel. He is a Democrat running for a seat in the Republican controlled Senate – and what if Carson or Knowles self destruct at the end - not to mention that he has been actively involved in the situation in Haiti. But I am just saying, there are some hidden benefits if Democrats lose this seat – most notably the make up of the Supreme Court over the next twenty years. A court that has favorable views towards labor and work place issues, choice, the environment, women's issues, public health, regulations, and more - especially what may be the next fifty years biggest issue in front of the court - personal right to privacy. I still want Hoeffel to win, but I won't be too upset if Democrats take the Senate without him. In any case, Barbara Hafer will beat Rick "Man on Dog" Santorum in '06 to give PA a Democratic Senator (Gov. Rendell will be up for re-election too... that will help).

Edit: If you googled Barbara Hafer, you probably saw her as a Republican. But that is no longer. Read Barbara Hafer makes it official: She's a Democrat again by James O'Toole of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Hail To Chicago

I just had a thought. What would the history of the Democratic be without the City of Chicago? In 1933 Guiseppe Zangara attempted to assassinate President-elect Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Miami, Florida. Then Chicago Mayor Anton Joseph Cermak took one of the bullets that eventually caused his death. FDR didn't bolt away; they put Mayor Cermak back in the car and rushed him to the hospital. Without Cermak, the New Deal may never have existed. On a side note, one friend mentioned to me the other day that many medical historians now say that Roosevelt may not have had Polio, but instead a rare nerve disease that would not have been identified then. The name escapes me at the moment.

Second, if it were not for the old Chicago motto of "vote early, vote often, vote for a deceased relative" (not that I would advocate that) John F. Kennedy may not have been elected in 1960. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson possibly would never have been president. Would we have had a president that could have pushed Civil Rights as effectively? Of course, would we have been that involved in Vietnam?

Just a quick thought...

Electronic Activism and Voting Rights

In case you missed it, earlier this week Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell attempted to disqualify thousands of new voters in Ohio due to the stock of paper that the voter registration was printed on. Well it looks like he has had to reverse his decision. I can't provide a link to the Columbus Dispatch article, but here is a little
At issue is a reminder Blackwell issued this month to county boards of election that voter-registration forms must be printed on "white, uncoated paper of not less than 80-pound text weight," a heavy, cardlike stock.

While the Franklin County Board of Elections and others have continued accepting forms submitted on lighter-weight paper, some county elections officials said yesterday they have been disqualifying registrations because the paper was not thick enough.

Critics charged that the confusion and inconsistency threatened to prevent tens of thousands of would-be voters from participating in the general election and could trigger lawsuits challenging the results. They also blasted Blackwell for issuing the directive less than a month before Ohio's voter registration deadline and at a time when elections officials are working around-the-clock to keep up with record-smashing registration efforts in a presidential battleground state.

"There could be chaos on election day, and at the very least there is going to be inconsistencies," said Scott Britton, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio.

"We should be making it easier for people to register to vote, not harder."

Jocelyn Travis, Ohio coordinator for the Election Protection coalition and People for the American Way Foundation, said, "We can't let a piece of paper stand between people and their right to register and vote."

Make no mistake, not all of the complaints came from within the state of Ohio. This story spread nationally within a few hours because of electronic media (online newspapers, Daily Kos, etc. listing contact numbers of those involved). Next up is Colorado's Secretary of State Donetta Davidson, a Republican. From this Denver Post editorial
The rule, drafted by Secretary of State Donetta Davidson, says that some voters who cast provisional ballots this November will have only their votes for president counted. No other votes will be counted - not even those for statewide races and ballot issues.

Provisional ballots are relatively new to the election scene and were first used in Colorado two years ago. They are given to voters who aren't on a precinct poll list or who don't provide identification. Such ballots aren't counted until after a voter's registration has been verified, which sometimes doesn't happen until days after an election.

Davidson's rule would apply only to voters who not only have ID problems but who also show up at the wrong polling place. If you cast a provisional ballot in your home precinct, all your votes will count once your status is checked.

This is an effort to suppress voting. While I don't think the Democrats will take the house, this does effect the Senate as Democrat Ken Salazar is in great shape. Click here for the links posted on Kos for the contact information of the Secretary of State, Newspapers, television stations, electors, etc.

BBC World Service Interview

Wow, I just heard an interview with Prime Minister Tony Blair. The interviewer actually asked tough questions to Mr. Blair, which he answered - without getting nasty. If our media gave Mr. Bush the questions and treatment that Mr. Blair is routinely given by the BBC, that would be a show. If I find a link I will post it. For me Mr. Blair has been a disappointment. While I wouldn't have labeled myself a "Blair Democrat" or a "Labour Democrat", until the run up to the Iraq War I viewed him in a very positive light. At least he is able to admit and apologize for the WMD claims, but he still insists the removal of Mr. Hussein was necessary. Maybe he feels he has to do that, but either way the war in Iraq is unforgivable. Perhaps one day it will be viewed as successful or something that had to be done at that moment - but I doubt it. James Fallows and others have documented how Iraq has taken the resources away from rebuilding and securing Afghanistan, and the GWOT. This has been ran by incompetents.

Perhaps part of Mr. Kerry's agenda tomorrow evening will be to put Bush on the defensive enough that he gets a little nasty while smirking. Then again, all we will probably hear from Mr. Bush is "freedom... fear... terr'a..."

Found on Dog Fight '04 Blog

I meant to post this earlier, but I feel like I have been terribly busy and its just going to get worse. But while reading the blog DogFight04 I was sent to Salon article from 16 September 2004. The article is titled The Dunce and is written by Mary Jacoby. It is worth a free day pass if you don't have a subscription. Here are a few quotes:
"I don't remember all the students in detail unless I'm prompted by something," Tsurumi said in a telephone interview Wednesday. "But I always remember two types of students. One is the very excellent student, the type as a professor you feel honored to be working with. Someone with strong social values, compassion and intellect -- the very rare person you never forget. And then you remember students like George Bush, those who are totally the opposite." ...

...One of Tsurumi's standout students was Rep. Chris Cox, R-Calif., now the seventh-ranking member of the House Republican leadership. "I typed him as a conservative Republican with a conscience," Tsurumi said. "He never confused his own ideology with economics, and he didn't try to hide his ignorance of a subject in mumbo jumbo. He was what I call a principled conservative." (Though clearly a partisan one. On Wednesday, Cox called for a congressional investigation of the validity of documents that CBS News obtained for a story questioning Bush's attendance at Guard duty in Alabama.)

Bush, by contrast, "was totally the opposite of Chris Cox," Tsurumi said. "He showed pathological lying habits and was in denial when challenged on his prejudices and biases. He would even deny saying something he just said 30 seconds ago. He was famous for that. Students jumped on him; I challenged him." When asked to explain a particular comment, said Tsurumi, Bush would respond, "Oh, I never said that." A White House spokeswoman did not return a phone call seeking comment.

In 1973, as the oil and energy crisis raged, Tsurumi led a discussion on whether government should assist retirees and other people on fixed incomes with heating costs. Bush, he recalled, "made this ridiculous statement and when I asked him to explain, he said, 'The government doesn't have to help poor people -- because they are lazy.' I said, 'Well, could you explain that assumption?' Not only could he not explain it, he started backtracking on it, saying, 'No, I didn't say that.'" ...

...Bush once sneered at Tsurumi for showing the film "The Grapes of Wrath," based on John Steinbeck's novel of the Depression. "We were in a discussion of the New Deal, and he called Franklin Roosevelt's policies 'socialism.' He denounced labor unions, the Securities and Exchange Commission, Medicare, Social Security, you name it. He denounced the civil rights movement as socialism. To him, socialism and communism were the same thing. And when challenged to explain his prejudice, he could not defend his argument, either ideologically, polemically or academically."

People change and grow emotionally and intellectually, but this article infuriated my cousin - problably due to the fact that he works full time and basically attends a highly rated MBA program close to full time. Later on in the article the professor recalls asking Bush how he got into Harvard's MBA program - which he supposedly replied 'My dad has good friends.' But there were other things in the article, being in TANG and "fanatically for the war [Vietnam]." The article is all based in the perspective of retired Prof. Tsurumi, but it is still somewhat a glance at Mr. Bush in past. When I was reading it I though about Bush as the 'compassionate conservative.' Then reading past comments about SEC (Kenny Boy, Harkin Energy), Medicare (give away to drug companies), etc. Like I said, people change their opinions over the years, but... whatever

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Agribusiness

I was sent two articles by a friend in public health. The first is, Is Agribusiness Making Food Less Nutritious? by Cheryl Long and Lynn Keiley. They write
This shift in production methods is clearly giving us less nutritious eggs and meat. Beef from cattle raised in feedlots on growth hormones and high-grain diets has lower levels of vitamins E, A, D and betacarotene, and twice as much fat, as grass-fed beef. Health writer Jo Robinson has done groundbreaking work on this subject, collecting the evidence on her Web site, www.eatwild.com, and in her book Pasture Perfect.

Similar nutrient declines can be documented in milk, butter and cheese. As one researcher writing in the Journal of Dairy Research explained, “It follows that continuing breeding and management systems that focus solely on increasing milk yield will result in a steady dilution of vitamins and antioxidants.” (Today’s “super-cows” are bred and fed to produce 20 times more milk than a cow needs to sustain a healthy calf.)...

...Fertilizers. Non-organic farmers use highly soluble nitrogen fertilizers, and keeping this nutrient in their soils is difficult. To be sure they get high yields, they often apply more nitrogen than the crops actually need.

This dependence upon chemical nitrogen fertilizers means we’re getting less for our money, says Benbrook. Numerous studies have demonstrated that high levels of nitrogen stimulate quick growth and increase crop yields because the fruits and vegetables take up more water. In effect, this means consumers pay more for produce diluted with water. “High nitrogen levels make plants grow fast and bulk up with carbohydrates and water. While the fruits these plants produce may be big, they suffer in nutritional quality,” Benbrook says, “whereas organic production systems [which use slow-release forms of nitrogen] produce foods that usually yield denser concentrations of nutrients and deliver consumers a better nutritional bargain per calorie consumed.”
As someone interested in nutrition and agribusiness, its a pretty good read. I also like this page, Looking for a bargain, a comparision between your typically supermarket tomato and your locally grown tomato.

Speaking of which, Super Size Me came out this week.

New "Liberal" Radio

Speaking of the newly forming liberal media infrastructure, Air America's Al Frankin Show was pretty good today. They had on Ed Shultz (who would be a great addition to AAR), followed by currently my favorite journalist and Atlantic correspondent James Fallows, and ended with one of my favorite repeat guests, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who actually has his own AAR show.

I was skeptical of liberal talk radio when it first arrived on the scene. Despite understanding that it would have growing pains, it too often was labeled as a left wing Rush Limbaugh (or Hannity/O'Reilly). Seeing as I can't stand his show or his mailings (which I find time to time in my grandmothers house - and they are equally as nauseating as the show), I didn't want a left wing Rush. While I only listen to AAR (to be fair, Frankin, b/c To The Point, The World, and Fresh Air are on various local public radio stations) while in the office - I have found it to be a nice mix of humor with real guests like Fallows, Kennedy, Schultz, and the gentleman I missed who directed the Kerry film. I have concluded that when the phrase "talk radio won't work for liberals" they really meant was that the model for right wing talk radio can't be imposed on liberal radio (well, perhaps Randi Rhodes). In any case, I assume that liberal commercial television and radio will expand.

Oh, in case you missed this - The Lone Star Iconoclast, based in Crawford, Texas, endorsed John Kerry, wholeheartedly.
Few Americans would have voted for George W. Bush four years ago if he had promised that, as President, he would:
• Empty the Social Security trust fund by $507 billion to help offset fiscal irresponsibility and at the same time slash Social Security benefits.
• Cut Medicare by 17 percent and reduce veterans’ benefits and military pay.
• Eliminate overtime pay for millions of Americans and raise oil prices by 50 percent.
• Give tax cuts to businesses that sent American jobs overseas, and, in fact, by policy encourage their departure.
• Give away billions of tax dollars in government contracts without competitive bids.
• Involve this country in a deadly and highly questionable war, and
• Take a budget surplus and turn it into the worst deficit in the history of the United States, creating a debt in just four years that will take generations to repay.
These were elements of a hidden agenda that surfaced only after he took office.
The whole piece is worth reading.

Urban Sprawl is Bad For Your Health!

I read CNN mostly everyday and i'm not sure if I'm to trust them as a news source. But, this article entrigued me as I had heard a bit about it on NPR this morning. It pays to live in the city and not the vastly sprawling suburbs. At the end of the article it mentions that Portland is one of the top 5 major cities with the least amount of sprawl. I have an easy answer to why it's on there: Urban Growth Boundary! I had done a little research on this topic last year during my Environmental Law course. The boundary basically penalizes anyone who choses to build outside of the designated area. That still doesn't keep any sprawl from occurring but it definately reduces it. Oh, and there's no Walmart here because the store is too big (square footage). Plus, the hippies out here in Portland don't like the mega store. Fine by me, but I must admit, I do like those low, low prices! Too bad a third world country has to sell it's soul in order to produce goods for Walmart.

Kos and the Guardian

I logged on to the BBC and the Guardian this morning to check the news and much to my surprise I find the first weekly column by Markos Moulitsas. Markos, of course runs the Daily Kos - a site along with Jerome Armstrong's MyDD that introduced me to political blogs. This first piece is titled A Different Noise, and explains how the right wing noise machine came into being.
What is the Rightwing Noise Machine? Conservatives in the United States have spent the last 30 years building a vast infrastructure designed to create ideas, distribute them, and sell them to the American public. It spans multiple think tanks and a well-oiled message machine that has a stranglehold on American discourse. From the Weekly Standard, Rush Limbaugh, Wall Street Journal, Drudge Report and Murdoch's Fox News, to (more recently) the mindless drones in the rightwing blogosphere, the right enjoys the ability to control entire news cycles, holding them hostage for entire elections...

The year 2000 was a wake-up call to many partisans like myself. Surveying the landscape, we could sense the flexing of the Rightwing Noise Machine's muscles, even if we were ignorant of its ultimate size and reach. We had witnessed the goring of Gore, yet sat by, helplessly unable to fight back. We saw the Democratic party get outmanoeuvred in Florida, legally and rhetorically. We looked around for a "liberal media", yet found nothing of the sort.

Nothing that American Democrats or liberals are not aware of, but perhaps the international readers will get an idea of what has transpired. I don't have it infront of me, but a Noam Chomsky (regardless of what you think of Mr. Chomsky's work - it had points) article I read a year or two ago discussed who was putting out large volumes of material, and who paid for it. Back to Mr. Moulitas's column, he writes
Television coverage had become an extension of the Republican party, not just because of the influence of Fox News, but because conservatives had "worked the refs" so diligently that mainstream media outlets piled on their conservative "pundits" lest they be accused of "liberal bias".

I am sure I posted it here sometime, but a FAIR study found that 61% of experts on National Public Radio, which conservatives constantly criticize for being "liberal", had conservative leanings. Didn't Tucker Carlson just join PBS? From the FAIR Study
Despite the commonness of such claims, little evidence has ever been presented for a left bias at NPR, and FAIR’s latest study gives it no support. Looking at partisan sources—including government officials, party officials, campaign workers and consultants—Republicans outnumbered Democrats by more than 3 to 2 (61 percent to 38 percent). A majority of Republican sources when the GOP controls the White House and Congress may not be surprising, but Republicans held a similar though slightly smaller edge (57 percent to 42 percent) in 1993, when Clinton was president and Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. And a lively race for the Democratic presidential nomination was beginning to heat up at the time of the 2003 study.
Partisans from outside the two major parties were almost nowhere to be seen, with the exception of four Libertarian Party representatives who appeared in a single story (Morning Edition, 6/26/03).

Republicans not only had a substantial partisan edge, individual Republicans were NPR’s most popular sources overall, taking the top seven spots in frequency of appearance. George Bush led all sources for the month with 36 appearances, followed by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (8) and Sen. Pat Roberts (6). Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Secretary of State Colin Powell, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer and Iraq proconsul Paul Bremer all tied with five appearances each.

Senators Edward Kennedy, Jay Rockefeller and Max Baucus were the most frequently heard Democrats, each appearing four times. No nongovernmental source appeared more than three times. With the exception of Secretary of State Powell, all of the top 10 most frequently appearing sources were white male government officials.

Despite this, the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) found that
The more commercial television news you watch, the more wrong you are likely to be about key elements of the Iraq War and its aftermath, according to a major new study released in Washington this week.

And the more you watch the Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox News channel, in particular, the more likely it is that your perceptions about the war are wrong, adds the report by the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA).

Based on several nationwide surveys it conducted with California-based Knowledge Networks since June, as well as the results of other polls, PIPA found that 48 percent of the public believe US troops found evidence of close pre-war links between Iraq and the al-Qaeda terrorist group; 22 percent thought troops found weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq; and 25 percent believed that world public opinion favored Washington's going to war with Iraq. All three are misperceptions.

The report, "Misperceptions, the Media and the Iraq War," also found that the more misperceptions held by the respondent, the more likely it was that s/he both supported the war and depended on commercial television for news about it...

...For each of the three misperceptions, the study found enormous differences between the viewers of Fox, who held the most misperceptions, and NPR/PBS, who held the fewest by far. Eighty percent of Fox viewers were found to hold at least one misperception, compared to 23 percent of NPR/PBS consumers. All the other media fell in between.

Back to the article by Kos, he continues that
Liberal thinktanks sprung up to challenge their conservative counterparts. A new liberal talk radio network was launched. MoveOn.org, created to help Bill Clinton stave off impeachment, went from being a grassroots email list to a multimillion dollar media operation. Americans Coming Together will spend nearly $100m (£55m) to register and turn out Democratic voters this November. Berkeley linguist George Lakoff founded the Rockridge Institute and is making waves in Democratic circles by showing how Republicans have hijacked the language ("tax relief", "partial-birth abortion", "pro-life"), and how Democrats can take it back.

Anyway, I guess I went off on a rant, I will end here . Also read Salon’s How the Internet turned everyone into James Carville by Farhad Manjoo. Also check out the new This Modern World cartoon, Memogate!

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Hooray for Elwood!

My husband rocks. After a lot of fussing on my part about how I couldn't find a quote from Rumsfeld that I heard yesterday on NPR, Elwood managed to find the text on Darrel Plant, nicely sourced.

When I heard this beckpedaling yesterday about partial elections and explaining how American cities weren't totally safe either, I was about ten seconds away from a Stupid Man Rant. Suddenly, I flashed back to all the patronizing bosses I'd ever had, most of them male. I was rescued from Man Rant mode when I suddenly remembered Mary Beth, my supervisor from my First Real Job who would smile sweetly when she told me my ideas were all wrong but that my attempts at logic were cute. Well, maybe that's not exactly what she said, but that's the impression that I got from her when I noticed flaws in the system we were attempting to operate. So it's not a male thing; perhaps they teach you the smile and the offhand tone in management school? Where else could Mary Beth have learned it? Where else could Rummy have learned it? He was glibly directing the press in a voice that feigned conversational, explaining that *real* democracy and *real* safety were just models they taught in civics class, and Iraq wasn't entirely safe or democratic in the same way that America wasn't entirely safe or democratic. He even threw in a bogus statistic to reassure us--"...200, 300, 400 people killed in many of the major cities in America last year. Is it perfectly peaceful? No. What's the difference?..." in a tone that implied it was great that we were paying attention to his partial election idea but that there was really no need to be hysterical, honey, because us big boys have already anticipated and handled those messy democratic issues you were so concerned about. We've got it all under control.

For the record, Mr. Rumsfeld, here were the murder rates in 2002:
New York = 580 (lowest in almost four decades! Woo hoo!)
Los Angeles = 653
Chicago = about 645
according to this CNN article. Perhaps you'll want some real statistics on hand the next time you attempt to con us into something that is just not true. It will make you more believable, if not more accurate. I probably would not have noticed the statement if it weren't for your half-assed, flagrant abuse of numbers.

Of course, if Rummy would like to look at our crime rates in context, he could read If America Were Iraq, What Would It Be Like? for a much more accurate picture. Again, thanks to Elwood for the link.

What Women Want

I am cross-posting Agnes' report on the BPWF:

In support of the lovely Trope's post regarding women voters (see "Security Moms II"), The Business and Professional Women's Foundation recently released survey results that address women's interests in the presidential election. For what it's worth, here is some of what they report:

Working women as voters
For political candidates who want to know “What do working women want?” this survey provides clear answers. Overwhelmingly, domestic issues take precedence over terrorism and international issues. When asked “which issues will influence your vote the most,” fully 79%choose “domestic issues such as joblessness and education” and only 21% choose “international issues such as terrorism and trade.”

• The choice of domestic issues over terrorism and trade held for working women of every political affiliation. Republican working women chose domestic issues by two to one over terrorism and trade (67% - 33%), Independents chose domestic issues four to one (79% - 21%) and Democratic working women split nearly seven to one (87% - 13%).
• Nearly nine out of ten (86%) said that Health Care Costs was of major importance while just under half (49%) said Homeland Security was of major importance. Homeland Security ranked well behind Health Care Costs, Retirement Security (80%), Job Opportunities (71%), Good Schools (66%), and Housing Costs (61%) in a list of issues “as to how important they are to you and your family.”

Thank you! I have not yet checked out their website but wish the candidates would.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Will the Red Sox Ever Learn

...that Pedro Martinez is a seven inning pitcher? I have wanted to post this many times. Schilling can still pitch 8-9 innings, but Pedro is usually dominant for the first six inning and the seventh seems to be decided on his pitch count. But the days of pitching the eigth inning against an offense like the Yankees is over. Francona needs to cut Mr. Martinez off, and Mr. Martinez needs to realize that he is an outstanding pitcher - but winning the world series is more important than going eight of nine innings. Especially when you have Embree, Timlin, Williamson, and Foulke to choose from in the bullpen.

Find Your Spot

I was turned on to the site, find your spot. Too many questions, and my spots were predictable. The Atlantic Northeast and Pacific Northwest mixed in with DC, Chicago, and New Orleans. Of those three only Chicago gets my attention. Providence was my #1.

Also, according to MIT students, your computer may one day be powered by spinach.
Why spinach?

In reality, any number of plants could have been used. But the researchers chose spinach because "it is cheap and is easily available from the grocery store," Zhang said.

The spinach was ground up and purified to isolate a protein deep within the spinach cells.

A top layer of glass was coated underneath with a conductive material and a thin layer of gold to aid the chemical reaction. In the middle, the spinach-peptide mixture sits on a soft, organic semiconductor that prevents electrical shorts and protects the protein complexes from a bottom layer of metal.

Um, okay. This article on SEC Investigating Morningstar makes me can't wait for Elliot Spitzer to take over from John Ashcroft.
NEW YORK - Morningstar Inc., the firm that millions of investors rely on to rate the performance of mutual funds, is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission for failing to properly correct inaccurate data it published about a mutual fund.

Afterall, while Mr. Ashcroft is 0 for 5000 on convicting terror suspects, Mr. Spitzer has been very busy. Though I shouldn't knock the SEC too much - I was told last Fall that they were just getting the staff to deal with the high volume of cases.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Brilliant

I lived here once:

I am told if you look closely that you can see the floor below. I really want to use the word effulgent right now, but somehow it doesn't seem to fit...

--
Funny new post by Craig over at NAAS

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Security Moms II

First, read the article that shows how Elwood is just ahead of the curve.

Next, ponder with me: why are Security Moms going for Bush? What is a Security Mom? If I don't have kids, can I still be one? And why don't those pesky unmarried women vote, anyway?

Here's what the NYTimes has to say.

Democratic and Republican pollsters say the reason for the change this year is that an issue Mr. Bush had initially pitched as part of an overall message - which candidate would be best able to protect the United States from terrorists - has become particularly compelling for women. Several said that a confluence of two events - a Republican convention that was loaded with provocative scenes of the Sept. 11 tragedy, and a terrorist attack on children in Russia - had helped recast the electoral dynamic among this critical group in a way that created a new challenge for the Kerry camp.


Okay, so Beslan and the convention convinced all the Security Moms? These may be the reasons for the blinking upswing in Bush numbers, but I don't really think it tells the whole story. Bush's cowboy politics are likely to have left us more vulnerable to terrorist attack in the next ten years, no matter who wins in November. The trouble for these Moms is that Kerry hasn't articulated his plan (if he has one) to make us safer. He's quite busy defending his military record and his willingness to go to war, but he's not really getting to the heart of the issue, which is: a lot of people in this world hate the U.S., and we need to neutralize that threat somehow. As long as he doesn't present a plan that will inspire these Moms, they will continue with their fatalistic attitude that the terrorists will attack and we should have someone who's willing to go blow up the bad guys. I don't think they appreciate the job that Bush has done over the last four years. But in the absence of other options, it's not surprising that they are going with the devil they know.

So who are these Moms? Do I have to be one? Do I want to be one?
Also in the last month, Mr. Kerry suffered in the polls from attacks by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a group that challenged his record in Vietnam and highlighted his antiwar activities in the 1970's. One Democratic strategist said Mr. Kerry's failure to fight back against that attack fed a perception, particularly among married women, that he would not fight for them and their children. And, the strategist said, it is one reason Mr. Kerry must now "rebuild his image on strength.''
. . . Traditionally, there is a gap between married women and single women, with married women voting more Republican and single women voting more Democratic. This year, Ms. Lake said, the gap between how married and single women expect to vote is greater than it has ever been, largely because of the emergence of what analysts call "security moms,'' who tend to be white, married women who have children and who are fearful of another attack within the United States.

The subtext of this statement is that married = kids. Married women aren't more likely to vote Republican because they've borne children; 35% of kids are born to unmarried moms and lots of married women (ahem) are childless. Married women are more likely to vote Republican because their household income is reliably higher. It's not a security issue, and frankly, it's never going to be a security issue. If the unnamed Democratic strategist wants Kerry to "rebuild his image on strength", it's only going to dig him deeper into the hole. He cannot out-Bush Bush (and really, why would he want to?) But right now he is making Bush's mistake: campaigning to women through their husbands by talking about wars and factory jobs. He needs to begin campaigning directly to women, not about rape advocacy, but about the issues that tend to bring women into the political arena to begin with: abortion issues, health care, and education.* Every politician talks about health care for all Americans (unless you're Republican, then it's all working Americans) and about better schools. Tell us how. Every politician wants to reduce the number of abortions. Tell us how, and maybe we'll vote for you.

*Do you find this accurate? Send your thoughts.

Steve Trombley, president of Planned Parenthood Chicago Action Fund, writes:
Did you know that unmarried women were one of the smallest percentages of voters to turn out in the last election? Did you know that if unmarried women voters turn out at the same rate as married women it could advance the Kerry-Edwards ticket to a win?

He wrote this in a fund-raising letter on August 6, before Beslan and before the GOP convention. I'm not sure that his promise is accurate, because he can't guarantee the political leaning of every unmarried woman he's signing up to vote. But I can understand why these gals are not voting: if you are female, but not a Security Mom, nobody's talking to you. If you are unmarried and/or childless, nobody's talking to you. Are we supposed to take Mr. Trombley's word for it that Kerry will "stand up for choice" by keeping reactionaries out of the Court or improve the health care situation that drives so many women to Planned Parenthood in the first place? Trombley seems to think we will. I'm not so sure.

Speaking of Privacy and Fear

I woke up this morning to read this article about airlines turning over passenger data to TSA.
A previous plan was met with an overwhelmingly negative response. The proposed system, which cost $103 million, would have assigned a risk level to all airline passengers based on comparisons of their names with commercial databases. That plan was scrapped because of privacy concerns and technological issues.

Now, the Transportation Security Administration hopes to learn from its experience. The agency is pledging to protect passengers' privacy and taking steps to make sure the system is technologically feasible.

Privacy advocates and the airlines are skeptical.

"There are many people who are still going to find themselves in no-fly hell," said Barry Steinhardt, director of the technology and liberty program at the American Civil Liberties Union.

The TSA plans to order air carriers to turn over the information in November. Passenger names will be checked against watch lists maintained by the Terrorist Screening Center, which is administered by the FBI, as part of a new screening system called "Secure Flight."

Everytime I read articles about "security", I am reminded of the essay Milksop Nation by Jack Gordon, which one the Economist/Shell Writing Prize in 2002. You should read the whole essay, but here are a few pieces:
Twelve hours hadn’t passed since the first airliner struck the World Trade Centre on September 11th 2001 before the talking heads on CNN turned their attention to the subject of how much freedom Americans would be willing to give up in order to feel more secure. I evidently missed the explanation of how they came to see this as the first and most obvious question written in the flames still rising from the rubble in lower Manhattan. As suddenly as the planes that had slammed into the twin towers that morning, the issue simply materialized in the vestments of the story’s anointed spin.

At the time, it seemed bizarre. I had spent most of the day watching the footage of those same flames, and not once had it occurred to me that a logical response to the horror might be to sacrifice my freedom.

Sure enough, though, the newsies had it right. It was as if the USA Patriot Act signed into law by President Bush six weeks later (and denounced by the American Civil Liberties Union as “based on the faulty assumption that safety must come at the expense of civil liberties”) were already drafted and ready on the morning of September 11th, awaiting only one final push from the lobbyists at al Qaeda.

....

It hardly takes an international cabal of murderous fanatics to frighten us into making the trade. This is a country in which millions of working people submit routinely to random inspections of their own urine. Why? So that someone, somewhere, can feel falsely assured that no insurance claim is processed and no forklift in the nation is driven down a warehouse aisle by a weekend marijuana smoker. The act of contributing the sample must be observed by monitors to prevent the wondrous crime of urine fraud—a transgression unimaginable before the 1980s, when we obliged Ronald and Nancy Reagan by opening our bladders to public scrutiny in the name of workplace safety.

Anyway, I like Mr. Gordon's piece.

From the Onion

From the Onion...


More from The Onion Election Guide 2004:

Thanks J

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Desperate Housewives?

I may be jumping in ahead of myself, but since they don't believe in comments over at North Arlington All Stars I thought I'd just respond here. I am the liberal wife in question. No, I did not say that *we* should blow up Chechnya. I said that *someone* should blow up Chechnya. We're a little overscheduled as it is. I know that peace in that region is a great idea, and in fact inevitable--either through shrewd political maneuvering, or through the death of everyone remotely involved. It's just that after the stunt in Beslan, I don't much care which one it will be. I'm not on Russia's side. I don't really argue with Chechnya's point of view. But now that I have seen the work of the homicidal looneys on both sides, I wish it would all just go away.

But I didn't come here to rant, did I? First, the local:
The Chicago spycam plan made the national news section of the NYTimes today. By 2006, there will be a "highly advanced system of video surveillance" in place.

Sophisticated new computer programs will immediately alert the police whenever anyone viewed by any of the cameras placed at buildings and other structures considered terrorist targets wanders aimlessly in circles, lingers outside a public building, pulls a car onto the shoulder of a highway, or leaves a package and walks away from it. Images of those people will be highlighted in color at the city's central monitoring station, allowing dispatchers to send
police officers to the scene immediately.
. . .
Mr. Huberman, a 32-year-old former police officer who is also what one aide called "a techno geek," said this new system "should produce a significant decrease in crime, and from a homeland security standpoint it should be able to make our city safer." When the system is in place, Mr. Huberman said, video images will be instantly available to dispatchers at the city's 911 emergency center, which receives about 18,000 calls each day. Dispatchers will be able to tilt or zoom the cameras, some of which magnify images up to 400 times, in order to watch suspicious people and follow them from one camera's range to another's.

Our City-in-a-Garden is not only observing our actions now, but recording them for posterity or future litigation. I don't see how this will be tremendously useful in preventing terrorist attacks, since seeing a suicide bomber's face doesn't matter if he's dead by the time you hit the scene. I have some grave doubts about how effective this software would be against someone who "wanders aimlessly in circles" around a public area; I do so all the time downtown, and I live here. Imagine how these fancy programs will react to all the tourists flocking around Millenium Park, or our flamingo, or the Water Tower. I'll never be able to leave a BookCrossing book in the wild again, but this may be a puny argument from the Homeland Security Standpoint.

Please keep in mind that the cameras are not the new thing. There are about 2,000 within the city at the present time; they make their presence known in some of the more savory areas of the city with big flashing blue police lights atop utility poles. The new plan would only add another 250 or so cameras, but I expect them to cause more of a public outcry because if they are placed near "terrorist targets" there's a higher probability that the North Siders will notice.

"The value we gain in public safety far outweighs any perception by the community that this is Big Brother who's watching," Mr. Huberman said. "The feedback we're getting is that people welcome this. It makes them feel safer."

I don't feel safer, I just feel more watched.

Now for the cosmic: Fafblog on God vs. Satan. Glad we cleared that up.


Another Craig Post

Check out NAAS for the latest Craig post. I am stealing it here and putting here is you have comments. Thanks for the thoughts Craig...
Election Analysis: Crazy People
What’s wrong with Kansas, and America

So, what the hell’s really going on in this country? There are some underlying political dynamics that I think would be generating a lot of interest this year, if the media actually pretended to live in the same country as we do and stopped talking about f***ing Vietnam already.

1. Neighborhood Swap! Tuesdays on ABC! Educated young people from established suburbs move to the city to “hive,” displacing working-class blacks and Latinos who end up . . . in the old inner suburbs.

Wackiness ensues. While it’s all trendy and PC to be down on “gentrification,” politically the results have favored Democrats. The influx of minority voters has turned formerly red suburban districts blue, while new yuppies, as soon as they get acclimatized to the city, become reliable Democratic voters too. Since Dems dominate urban areas, expanding the sphere of urban-ness has helped Democrats. Think about it – what would happen if more professionals who work in DC moved there, while Marion Barry voters relocated en masse to Virginia? D.C. would stay blue, while VA got more competitive.

Also, the tired suburban Republican line of blaming liberals for the horrible state of cities is losing its power, since most American cities are in pretty good shape, and many of their kids have moved there. Suburbs that want to keep their kids and their tax base are responding by getting more citified, with condos and sushi bars Trader Joe’s.

Gentrification, more than anything else, has turned former swing states in the Northeast and West Coast (and Illinois) into Democratic strongholds. Overall, this is good for Democrats but with some scary implications: If Detroit doesn’t start gentrifying soon, we lose Michigan. Ditto Milwaukee - and look what’s happened with Cleveland. These Democratic powerhouses have lost their clout because they are outnumbered by a ring of Republican dominated suburbs. Sprawl is the opposite of gentrification – it increases segregation, and people who move there rapidly turn Republican.

Implication: Environment matters. Where Democrats are in power, they will promote gentrification. Where Republicans are in power, they will promote sprawl. Zoning may be an even better tool than gerrymandering for influencing elections long-term.

2. Desperate Housewives! Moms by day, commandos by night, these “Security Moms” will do anything to defend their children!

Yes, the media have been yammering about Security Moms, but they don’t get it. These women seem to have shifted from Kerry to Bush over the last few weeks. What they are missing is, that shift has nothing to do with the GOP convention. It was the Beslan massacre. In the aftermath, my extremely liberal wife was basically calling for genocide in Chechnya. Blow up the whole country, she says. (I pointed out that’s already been tried, twice). She’s not about to vote Bush, but many more moderate women are convinced that Bush’s “wipe out the terrorist evil” rhetoric will make them safer.

This of course is nuts. Asymmetrical warfare is an inevitable response to US military power (and we have killed WAY more than 350 children in Iraq, why do you think they hate us?). We seem to think that if we have enough tanks and bombs, we won’t have to negotiate with anyone, ever, and only our views matter. It just doesn’t work that way. We can label people as evil terrorists as much as we want, but the only way to resolve things in Iraq, in the West Bank, in Chechnya is politically.

The right’s rhetoric implies that it is wrong to negotiate with murderers, and that only complete military victory is morally acceptable. Yes, this is madness – you make peace with your enemies, not with friends, by definition. And you wouldn’t be enemies if you didn’t think the other guy was wrong. But the fact that it doesn’t work doesn’t matter in domestic politics – it feels right, and as long as the violence continues and keeps people scared, it benefits the Bushies.

(Note that the Islamists know these terror tactics are not helpful for anyone but Bush – the alleged head of the Chechen rebels condemned the attacks, known beheaders in Iraq have demanded the release of the French hostages, etc. They know that killing children and potential allies doesn't sell. (Thank you for making us all look like crazy people - Jenny Calendar) But the problem of using conventional military tactics to fight insurgents is that you tend to capture, kill, or isolate any strong leadership, which leads to resistance by atomized cells, which answer to no one.)

3. Enlightenment vs. Animal House: Rebellious students challenge the dogma of their hidebound professors and engage in wild hijinks on campus!

At one point I got a lot of e-mail forwards from a relative that really got me thinking about the mindset of Christian Conservative/Evangelical voters. The most interesting was a fictitious conversation in which an Evangelical college student stands up in class and debates his fuddy-duddy professor on evolution vs. creation and wins. Obviously the student’s “logic” isn’t that great and his facts are wrong, but that’s the point – the essential conflict here is Faith vs. Reason, Great Awakening vs. Enlightenment. The old, settled debate has flared up again because of class divisions. The scientific method, evidence based debate, and logic are learned skills, associated (although not exclusively) with the educated elite. People who have been cut off from the upper rungs of society feel resentful about it, and since our social and economic system is no longer allowing them to move up the ranks, they need to find a way to convince themselves that they are really better than these people, anyway. Religion has given them this opportunity – they can claim that all the things you think you know are false, the truth is available to anyone in the Bible, etc. Knowledge, skill, and accomplishment can thus be replaced by beliefs and moral values as the measure of an individual’s worth (which, frankly, is a perfectly “reasonable” position to take). As science increasingly reveals mind and body as one, the soul as myth and life after death as wishful thinking, the anti-Enlightenment point of view becomes increasingly attractive beyond Evangelical ranks - to those of us who fear death, or, like George W Bush, who’s a Methodist but who has adopted parts of the Evangelical worldview, I believe, because he needs the moral certainty to help him stay sober.

4. Jackass: The Protesters: On a dare, contestants infiltrate the Republican convention and start yelling at speakers! If Bush had a convention bounce, it was the protesters that gave it to him, not the Governator's speech. Thanks guys, for making us all look like crazy people.

There was more, but it will have to wait. I have actual work to do.

NYC Jobs/Economy

Today I had to take a car service, something I never do, because I had to carry a computer back to my place from another borough. When the driver and I were talking about jobs, he mentioned that before he drove he was a dotcomer. He mentioned that some of his friends went from 90k a year jobs to driving a cab - and how lucky he was that his wife has the education and skills for the sake of their family. He also was giving me healthy eating tips...

Text of Kerry's Speech

While you probably have heard it or already read a transcript, but here is the transcript from the NYU speech. Here is just a small piece:
That means we must have a great honest national debate on Iraq. The President claims it is the centerpiece of his war on terror. In fact, Iraq was a profound diversion from that war and the battle against our greatest enemy, Osama bin Laden and the terrorists. Invading Iraq has created a crisis of historic proportions and, if we do not change course, there is the prospect of a war with no end in sight.

This month, we passed a cruel milestone: more than 1,000 Americans lost in Iraq. Their sacrifice reminds us that Iraq remains, overwhelmingly, an American burden. Nearly 90 percent of the troops – and nearly 90 percent of the casualties – are American. Despite the President’s claims, this is not a grand coalition.

Our troops have served with extraordinary bravery, skill and resolve. Their service humbles all of us. When I speak to them… when I look into the eyes of their families, I know this: we owe them the truth about what we have asked them to do… and what is still to be done.

In June, the President declared, “The Iraqi people have their country back.” Just last week, he told us: “This country is headed toward democracy… Freedom is on the march.”

But the administration’s own official intelligence estimate, given to the President last July, tells a very different story.

According to press reports, the intelligence estimate totally contradicts what the President is saying to the American people.

So do the facts on the ground.

Security is deteriorating, for us and for the Iraqis.

42 Americans died in Iraq in June -- the month before the handover. But 54 died in July…66 in August… and already 54 halfway through September.

And more than 1,100 Americans were wounded in August – more than in any other month since the invasion.

We are fighting a growing insurgency in an ever widening war-zone. In March, insurgents attacked our forces 700 times. In August, they attacked 2,700 times – a 400% increase.

Falluja…Ramadi… Samarra … even parts of Baghdad – are now “no go zones”… breeding grounds for terrorists who are free to plot and launch attacks against our soldiers. The radical Shi’a cleric, Moktada al-Sadr, who’s accused of complicity in the murder of Americans, holds more sway in the suburbs of Baghdad.

Violence against Iraqis… from bombings to kidnappings to intimidation … is on the rise.

Basic living conditions are also deteriorating.

Residents of Baghdad are suffering electricity blackouts lasting up to 14 hours a day.

Raw sewage fills the streets, rising above the hubcaps of our Humvees. Children wade through garbage on their way to school.

Unemployment is over 50 percent. Insurgents are able to find plenty of people willing to take $150 for tossing grenades at passing U.S. convoys.

Yes, there has been some progress, thanks to the extraordinary efforts of our soldiers and civilians in Iraq. Schools, shops and hospitals have been opened. In parts of Iraq, normalcy actually prevails.

But most Iraqis have lost faith in our ability to deliver meaningful improvements to their lives. So they’re sitting on the fence… instead of siding with us against the insurgents.

That is the truth. The truth that the Commander in Chief owes to our troops and the American people.

I like the speech as a whole, but this one of my favorite parts:
In fact, the only officials who lost their jobs over Iraq were the ones who told the truth.

General Shinseki said it would take several hundred thousand troops to secure Iraq. He was retired. Economic adviser Larry Lindsey said that Iraq would cost as much as $200 billion. He was fired. After the successful entry into Baghdad, George Bush was offered help from the UN -- and he rejected it. He even prohibited any nation from participating in reconstruction efforts that wasn’t part of the original coalition – pushing reluctant countries even farther away. As we continue to fight this war almost alone, it is hard to estimate how costly that arrogant decision was. Can anyone seriously say this President has handled Iraq in a way that makes us stronger in the war on terrorism?

Kerry on Letterman

Top 10 Bush Tax Proposals

10. No estate tax for families with at least two U.S. Presidents
9. W-2 form is now Dubya-2 form
8. Under Simplified Tax Code, Your Refund Check Goes Directly to Halliburton
7. Reduced earned income tax credit is so unfair, it makes me want to tear out my Lustrous finely groomed hair.
6. Attorney General Ashcroft gets to write off U.S. Constitution
5. Texas Rangers can take business loss for trading Sammy Sosa
4. Eliminate all income taxes: just ask Teresa to cover the whole damn thing
3. Cheney can claim Bush as a dependent
2. $100 penalty if you pronounce it “nuclear” instead of “nucular”
1. Bush gets deduction for mortgaging our future

Monday, September 20, 2004

Lunch

Why does Steve like his roommates so much? I came home for lunch today and had leftover stuffed zucchini, suffed squash, and tabuli. Mmm. Thai chicken wrapped in Boston lettuce tonight...

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Latest OTM

Like every Sunday morning I listen to WNYC's On The Media. This week featured an interview with the FCC's Michael Copps, this weeks PBS series Wide Angle will be about the Iranian news media, and a piece titled Genocide Handbook. You can listen to the audio now, or wait until Tuesday when the transcripts are released. As always, it is a good show.

Art Bots

I went to Artbots 2004: The Robot Talent Show today. It was pretty neat.
It's an ArtBots invasion in Harlem! The Third Annual ArtBots: The Robot Talent Show will take place on September 17, 18, & 19 from noon to 6:00pm at The Mink Building on 126th Street & Amsterdam Avenue in Harlem. Featuring the work of 20 artists and groups from seven countries, the show celebrates the strange and wonderful collision of shifty artists, disgraced engineers, high/low/no tech hackers, rogue scientists, beauty school dropouts, backyard pyros, and industrial espionage that has come to define the emerging field of robotic art. Participants include robots that sketch, carve, float, wiggle, hum, ring, grow, wander, and sing, as well a number of works the form and function of which are not yet well understood.
It is a free event, but buying a t-shirt to help fund it isn't a bad idea. My favorite was Sisyphus by Bruce Shapiro. I also really enjoyed Three Blind Mice by ART - but there several others that I enjoyed. You should check it out next year...

Baseball

Yanks Trash Boston (How does the best offense in the game get shut down by an unimpressive Yankee pitching staff? Do they have a mental block or what?)

Cubs take three of four from the Reds (proving they can score without the longball).

Clive Talking

I was surfing through the NY Times this morning and I found Lynn Hirschberg's article Clive Talking. Ever since I saw Croupier I have been a fan. This article is more about a promotion of his next movie Closer. It doesn't look like my kind of flick, especially with Kate Blanchett dropping out and being replaced with Julia Roberts. Anyway, Ms. Hirschberg's article on Mr. Owen is about the progression of his career. But my favorite quote:
''I had a drink with Sean Penn last night,'' he said, a touch of awe in his voice. ''When I first went out to Los Angeles, I was thinking about Penn's integrity'' -- a trait, he found, that was in short supply in Hollywood. ''When I'd go to see a casting agent, they'd shove the video of my work into the machine 10 minutes before I got there, and then they'd lean forward and say, 'So, you do a lot of theater, don't you?''' Owen laughed. ''And I ran back home. I found L.A. a soul-destroying experience. What would I get? A small part in a big, bad film. That wasn't attractive to me.''

Oh yeah, really want to see I'll Sleep When I'm Dead, but I can't find it anywhere!

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Pissed off

I was informed today by a certain traffic engineer that my post on transit in Portland was wrong and that it was interesting that I commented on transit since I drive to work everyday. I told him to fuck off. Just because I don't use transit everyday doesn't mean I can't have an opinion about it. At least I don't drive an SUV that hypocrite!

Mission Cheese

First, I really like my new mission table. It matches my most recent lampshade.

Second, I found Chimay cheese at the store yesterday.
A Trappist style washed rind cheese. Once made at the abbey in Belgium which is famous for making beer. Now made by local farmers. Taste almost like the very famous Canadian Oka. Mellow flavor.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Red Sox Triumph!

Okay, I will root for the Yankees if they make the World Series. But the Cubs and the BoSox has been really fun to watch. So when Johnny Damon singled in Gabe Kapler to win 3-2! Keith Foulke got his 30th save and Mariano Rivera, possibly the greatest closer of all time, lost for the second time to the Red Sox this year. Last time was on a homer by Bill Mueller.

Also tonight, the Cubs pounded on the Reds, 12-4. Derek Lee had 5 RBIs! The Cubs are now in a dog fight with the Giants for the Wild Card spot. Should be fun!

TMP/Frankin/Values?

Joshua Marshall from Talking Points Memo posted a reader comment.
Josh,
Here's a note from a long-time social progressive/economic conservative who has gone increasingly progressive since Bush took office:

Bush's Guard service is a loser for the Dems even if the dereliction stories are entirely true, which they likely are. The problem is that nobody cares other than Democrats who despise Bush, and they seem like just a petty reaction to the Swift Boat ads. I would love for this election to be about the environment, choice on abortion, separation of church and state, invasion of privacy/Patriot Act, the economy, and the culture of fear the Bush admin is creating. But it's about Iraq and terrorism. Unfortunately, Kerry has done a terrible job of getting out any cohesive and compelling message about either. Here's what he needs to hammer for the remainder:

1. Bush is A TERRIBLE LEADER IN THE "WAR ON TERROR". He has failed in the hunt for Osama, misdeployed resources, and put off allies who are key to our long-term success against terrorism. Look beyond the macho swagger of Bush and see that he is completely screwing up this incredibly important long-term battle.
2. Bush and the neocon puppet masters deceived the nation into Iraq, then completely blew the execution of a horrible war, costing us more than a thousand soldiers and billions of dollars, killing countless innocent Iraqis, and creating a disastrous and extremely dangerous situation for America for years to come.
3. Bush has blown the economy.
4. Kerry is the man to put America and the world on course for a better future.

Kerry must not only make these points, he must be pissed off about them. Undecided voters are not compelled to vote by Kerry's suggestion that he can do Bush better than Bush. They, and the party voters we need to inspire to actually cast ballots, will respond to Kerry's passionate belief that Bush is seriously taking this country down a bad path and that Kerry can take us on a safer, more prosperous path. Unfortunately, Kerry's voting record on Iraq prohibits him from taking the real winning stand that the Iraq war was a horrible mistake. So he must refocus on the idea that Bush is a horrible president whose decisions are having disastrous consequences. Kerry has to want to lead this country, and he needs to show Americans that he wants badly to lead this country.

Thanks for your great work. Scott

I agree with much of what Scott wrote to Mr. Marshall. The Texas Air National Guard controversy actually helps Bush because as it eats up more and more media cycles it keeps health care, education, choice, Iraq, and the environment off the front pages and lead stories - while seemingly doing nothing to hurt Bush's "wartime" credibility. TANG won’t undermine his credibility, showing how they botched Iraq does. I still think this is true: Democrats win with issues while Republicans win with nostalgia for a time that never existed and moral outrage. One website I looked at a poster was voting on abortion. He basically said that he couldn't vote for a pro-choice candidate. The mother of a friend voted for Bush over Gore in 2000 for the same exact reason - even while basically admitting that Gore was better. On the Al Frankin show last week they had one of their bbq shows where they check in at a local bbq with a majority conservative audience. This time it was at a place in Atlanta. One customer said he was voting anti-French. As he saw it the French were in Vietnam, Kerry was in Vietnam, and Bush wasn't - so he was voting Bush. While this guy had to be joking, another guest said he was a Democrat voting for Bush because Kerry didn't share his values. Frankin questioned him and it sounded like the "hes from Massachusetts, I'm from Georgia" BS
(as if Northern liberals and moderates decided to vote against Clinton/Gore b/c Big Dog and Al didn't share their "values" – other than St. Ralph’s followers who like to feel good - okay, that is too harsh - and as if being from CT and living in a TX town where the first streets on that side of town were named after Ivy League institutions makes you somehow "southern" or “Texan”, and that gives him the ability to relate? In Kevin Phillips book he says the difference between the Bush family and other powerful families are that they moved to the right state). So a Democrat won't vote for Kerry, supposedly based on personality - because it isn't on accomplishments. The White House paints Kerry as "an unaccomplished Senator" while Bush has a record of sliding by. Supposedly wasn’t a great prep school student, average student at Yale and yet somehow accepted into a Harvard MBA program. 41 gets him into the TANG, he can't find oil in Texas and then becomes Governor, which is mostly a figure head position. I guess those are the "values" that the gentleman was looking for. Or perhaps it is not allowing for reimportation of prescription drugs, or perhaps a unilateral war in Iraq with no exit strategy, or prison abuse, or massive deficit spending, or outing a CIA agent. Meanwhile Kerry finished his military service, was a prosecutor, Lt. Gov., he has been a public servant for his entire adult life. So are the values then being against having everyone having health care, against equity in our schools and other public institutions?

My question though, what are "values" in a political race? I was temped to babble something about the difference between public and private morals. But it seems as if relating to a candidate is somehow important. You hear the pundits say picture of the Heinz-Kerry family skiing or wind surfing is bad while Bush mountain biking or throwing a baseball is good. That Bush pronounced Lambaugh Field correctly while Kerry didn’t. During the primary Edwards was on WNYC saying that he was the one to beat Bush because not only did he have the right campaign and policy, but he had the right accent. Does this crap really matter? One relative doesn’t want to vote for Bush, but Kerry has been made so unacceptable by the “flip-flop” meme and other ridiculousness. But somehow, despite the deficit, the lies and bungling of Iraq, the corporate cronyism, Kerry is the one that has been made unacceptable. So is Bush succeeding at making swing voters question Kerry’s competence instead of Bush’s accomplishments, or lack there of? Of course I am not the most objective. I am not ABB, I am actually a Sen. Kerry supporter and wanted a Mr. Kerry-Mr. Edwards ticket in 2000. While I may have preferred Gov. Richardson as the veep this time around, this is a very good ticket. But perhaps the real differences are that Bush supporters don’t see BushCo as a failed administration, or aren’t just in denial about Iraq.

Because it took up four comments due to character limits, links do not work well in Haloscan, this is Elwood's response:
A lot of this is just the effects of a very, very professional ad campaign. I talked to an actual swing voter yesterday, a black yuppie girl who just moved to Chicago from the South. She supports Obama, doesn't know about Kerry b/c "flip-flops", just like the Rep ads say. Now you KNOW that language comes from the ad campaigns, because who in the hell says "flip-flop" in real life unless they are talking about footware? These ads have been very strong.

Kerry is hanging in there, mostly because most people sense Bush's failure. I mean, he's NEVER used a veto. He SUPPORTED the assault weapons ban, but didn't know how to get it passed! He's as bad as Carter at running the country - name one thing he's accomplished domestically that wasn't a tax cut! And what about Osama - obviously he'd love to catch the guy, it would greatly help his re-election. Yet read here: CIA Officer: al-Qaida Efforts Still Lag by AP's Katherine Pfleger Shrader... again, unable to accomplish his goals. How about the nightmare that was Bremer's CPA? My god, it made Chicago Public Schools look like a functioning bureaucracy! Bush's greatest weakness isn't personality or policy, it's the incompetence, stupid! Kerry's greatest strenght is, to paraphrase FAFBLOG, the capacity to actually govern a country.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Bush: Kerry wants to expand government

While I have very little expectations of big corporate media actually being journalists, this one is just funny. In CNN's Bush: Kerry wants to expand government they don't happen to mention that the government under Mr. Bush's watch has dramatically increased. He represents the new Republican Party, Big Government conservatives. Considering we are an industrialized nation that wants a large military - we have a big government. But this article doesn't even mention the Bush increase, or his budget shortfall, or how much of the deficit is from his tax cuts. Even in the opening paragraph:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Seeking to gain ground against John Kerry, President Bush said Thursday that his Democratic opponent "wants to expand government" in education, health care, taxes and virtually every other area of domestic policy.

What was NCLB? PATRIOT Act? Medicare Prescription Drug Program? How about this for an article: "Kerry Proposes Way to Fund Bush's Commitments". Though I like the title of this article covering Kerry.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Watch the Storm in NOLA

Earthcam.com has a live feed from Bourbon Street, New Orleans. Its going to rain all weekend here. Thanks Ivan...

Also, Nico has a job interview in New York. I want to try to talk him out of interviewing in Dallas, but I hear that it is another great place for international work.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

BBC Report

I am listening to the BBC World Service and they just had a report about the anti-choicers next target, the birth control pill. The five minute story started by interviewing a GP in Wisconsin who refuses to write prescriptions for birth control pills. Why? Something to the effect that is 99% successful, but there is still a chance, no matter how small of fertilization. The second interviewee was a pharmacist in Texas that refuses to fill birth control pill prescriptions, for moral reasons. The BBC ended with a statement that obviously implied that the anti-choicers can't really restrict abortion anymore than they have so the next step is to attack birth control.

I guess what they want is no abortion, no birth control, no education...

Maybe Trope can drop off a comment on this.

Update: Speaking of wingnuttery at its finest, check out this Kos story about the OK Senate rate and this linked Salon article.

Addition: Trope wrote three comments to this post. I will post all three right here.

Trope Responds:
Ah, be still my fist. According to our medical director at a health care facility in Chicago, combined oral contraceptives (COC's; any estrogen/progesterone daily therapy, including patches and rings) are "the gold standard of effectiveness against pregnancy; when taken correctly, pills have a 99.6% effectiveness rate, compared to 99.8% for male sterilization and 99.5% for female sterilization." Most of the medical texts I've read agree with him. So: COCs are more effective against pregnancy than a tubal ligation within one year, comparable to a vasectomy, and those two options are permanent. Are these docs just suggesting that women should not ever have sex if they don't want pregnancy? In many cases, females don't even have the currency to require condom use or periodic abstinence in their relationships.

As for other methods... condoms are great for preventing STIs, but they have a real-life effectiveness rating of about 85-90%, mostly because they're too easy to not use. Many of the anti-choicers I've met are advocating fertility awareness for women, which is such a leisure-class idea I don't generally bother to refute it. (Go to several classes with a medical professional. Take your temp at the same time every morning before you get out of bed. Check your cervical mucus for signs of ovulation. Write everything down on a big ol'chart. Collect three months of data before you can make predictions. And then on the days when you're fertile, say, "Sorry, honey, I can't have sex tonight. Let's just cuddle instead.") *I* couldn't do that. How could we ask a woman doing shift work, with three kids and a drop-in boyfriend, to pull that off effectively? "Natural family planning" is 75-91% effective, by the way.

On a positive note, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation (http://www.gatesfoundation.org/GlobalHealth/) continues to work on an effective microbicide that could be used by women who can't negotiate condom use--as opposed to the spermicide N-9, which can actually increase HIV risk with heavy use. This could make a huge dent in the HIV prevalance in Africa, and as a bonus it would remove another of the anti-choicers' complaints against the wholesale use of hormonal contraceptives. One of the ranty flyers I collected when I was volunteering as a clinic escort referred to the "unholy trinity of abortion, contraception, and sex education". Whether or not they succeed in outlawing abortion, they will continue their attempts to restrict hormonal contraception, including emergency contraception. For many hardliners, it's all the same thing: sex is fundamentally bad, and anyone who succumbs to this animal urge should suffer the consequences, particularly if they're female. Unfortunately, they have a right to teach their kids these beliefs, although their brand of paternalistic misogyny makes my blood boil. But they shouldn't have any right to inflict it on the rest of us.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Water

I had a few drinks with a new roommate last night after learning he sold his house. A few years ago I remember reading an article written by the late Sen. Paul Simon. He basically wrote that due to political shifts in the United States and the increasing water shortages that piping Great Lake water to the Southwest was a real possibility. I found this notion absurd when I read it because I couldn't imagine the citizens of the Great Lake states allowing this. When new roommie and I were talking about politics, he mentioned that about a month all of the Great Lake governors and Canadian provinces had sworn not to let this happen - because the pressure is there. I am not convinced it won't anymore. Bush supposedly is against the shipping of Great Lake waters, but he was also opposed to nation building, the 9/11 Commission, Dept. of Homeland Security... But roommies comment was true
If you want water than don't move to a desert.
Ah, but its hard to union bust and have water I guess. But seriously, this should die now because while the lake levels are up (which helps out shipping), Lake Michigan and Huron had recently hit their lowest levels in almost 40 years prior to the recent rise.

At the bottom of the CNN Sen. Simon article it mentions that Paul Douglas was his mentor. Douglas, I believe was an economist at the University of Chicago before he became a Sentor. If memory from my undergrad days serves me correctly, I read or heard in a lecture that he had said something to the effect of
My first term I wanted to save the world. My second term I wanted to save the U.S. My third term I wanted to save the Indiana Dunes.
Maybe the legacy of a current Great Lake Senator will be to make sure pipping doesn't happen.

Sunday Morning Roundup

I am currently listening to On The Media while enjoying tea. Its a pretty good program. You can hear all the segments or read the transcripts from the OTM Website.

Blast Mushroom Cloud Reported in N. Korea
The Yonhap news agency, citing an unidentified diplomatic source in Seoul, said the explosion happened at 11 a.m. local time Thursday in Yanggang province near the border with China. The blast in Kim Hyong Jik county left a crater big enough to be noticed by a satellite, the source said.

"We understand that a mushroom-shaped cloud about 2.2 miles to 2.5 miles in diameter was monitored during the explosion," the source said. Yonhap described the source as "reliable."

Thursday was the anniversary of the 1948 foundation of the communist regime. Leader Kim Jong Il uses the occasion to stage performances and other events to bolster loyalty among the impoverished North Korean population.

Experts have speculated that North Korea might use a major anniversary to conduct a nuclear-related test, though there was no immediate indication that the reported explosion on Thursday was linked to Pyongyang's efforts to develop nuclear weapons.

"It remains unclear whether it was a deliberately planned nuclear test or it was just an accident," the source in Seoul told Yonhap. "But it doesn't seem to be an ordinary explosion."
According to this NY Times article the likelihood of a test has been rising the last few weeks based on a series of indicators:
The activities included the movement of materials around several suspected test sites, including one near a location where intelligence agencies reported last year that conventional explosives were being tested that could compress a plutonium core and set off a nuclear blast. But officials have not seen the classic indicators of preparations at a test site, in which cables are laid to measure an explosion in a deep test pit.

"I'm not sure you would see that in a country that has tunnels everywhere," said one senior official who has reviewed the data. Officials said if North Korea proceeded with a test, it would probably be with a plutonium bomb, perhaps one fabricated from the 8,000 spent nuclear fuel rods that the North has boasted in the past few months have been reprocessed into bomb fuel.

A senior intelligence official noted Saturday that even if "they are doing something, it doesn't mean they will" conduct a test, noting that preparations that the North knew could be detected by the United States might be a scare tactic or negotiating tactic by the North Korean government.

5 Die as Explosions Rock Baghdad (48 Injured)
Rocket and mortar fire erupted. Several rounds landed in the Green Zone, raising clouds of black smoke and triggering warning sirens.

The rattle of heavy machine gun fire and loud explosions echoed through Haifa Street, located on the western side of the Tigris river near the Green Zone and a "no go" area for international forces.

A Bradley fighting vehicle caught fire and children climbed on top, cheering and dancing beside the flames after the Americans left.

US soldiers fired from positions behind walls and trees along Haifa Street while several hundred residents milled about to watch the battle.

Update: According to Reuters the death is at 22.

Venezuela Objects to American Sanctions
CARACAS, Venezuela - Venezuela's information minister on Saturday criticized a U.S. plan to withdraw support for $250 million in loan requests by his country because of its alleged role in the international trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation...

...Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who defeated an Aug. 15 recall referendum on his presidency, has accused the United States of backing opposition groups he says are plotting against him.
So is it human rights or political?

Friday, September 10, 2004

Graydon Carter on Brian Lehrer

Good show this morning, thus far.
Kerry speaks English, Bush speaks American.

- Graydon Carter's comment on the European poll that showed if Europeans could vote in the US election that Kerry would win in a landslide.

Carter is promoting his book What We've Lost: How the Bush Administration has curtained our freedoms, mortgaged our economy, ravaged our environment, and damaged our standing in the world. Bill Moyers was on earlier promoting his special tonight.

All From Atrios

Cheney: Economic Stats Miss Ebay.
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Indicators measure the nation's unemployment rate, consumer spending and other economic milestones, but Vice President Dick Cheney says it misses the hundreds of thousands who make money selling on eBay.

"That's a source that didn't even exist 10 years ago," Cheney told an audience in Ohio. "Four hundred thousand people make some money trading on eBay."

John Edwards, soon to replace Cheney as Vice President, replied:
“If we only included bake sales and how much money kids make at lemonade stands, this economy would really be cooking,” Edwards said in a statement.

Atrois also weighs in on the Typewriter Proportional Spacing Gate. He writes:
I'm not going to spend the day arguing about fonts and typewriters, because the whole thing is so goddamn stupid, but what kind of "experts" in this are are unable to do a google search in 5 seconds and discover that IBM had been marketing a basic typewriter with proportional spacing since the late 1940s.
I like the jpg that goes along with this post...

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Quote of the Night / Cinema

Stem cells are like tofu, you can do anything with them

- David

I saw María, llena eres de gracia tonight, and I really enjoyed it. IMDB users only give it a 6.8, but I preferred this movie to several of the others I have seen recently.

Speaking of Cinema, on 13 October 2004, there is a CinemaSlam at BAM Rose Cinemas
COme support NYC's truly independent fimmakers in the third annual CinemaSlam, where we'll show anyone's film, with no prior judging or screening. Each filmmaker gets five minutes to show their best work in front of an audience, and there's no entry fee. You never know what you're going to see - and neither do we! Check www.bam.org for entry form and rules.

At the Diker Gallery Cafe and Natman Room, BAM also has their NextNext Visual Art.
While continuing to include BAM's Diker Gallery Cafe and Natman Room as unique venues for ten emerging Brooklyn-based artists to present their works, the 2004 installment of NextNext Visual Art will also include sculptural installations created for both BAMcafe and parts of the BAM Harvey lobby. The media will include photography, video, drawing, painting, and sculpture. Curated by Dan Cameron, Senior Curator, New Museum of Contemporary Art.

This installation will be available from October-December. Again, if you get a chance, check out Maria, Full of Grace. Oh, yeah, and check out the Next Wave Festival too. If anyone wants to go to Next Wave or anything, let me know!

TPM / Dowd

Frist, from TPM:

(September 07, 2004 -- 05:06 PM EDT // link // print)
Coincidences are the strangest things ...

AP: 'U.S. death toll in Iraq passes 1,000 mark' ... 4:27 PM, Sept. 7th, 2004

AP: 'Ridge: Terrorists hope to disrupt election' ... 4:40 PM, Sept. 7th, 2004

-- Josh Marshall


Maureen Dowd's latest op-ed, Cheney Spits Toad. We all heard the Cheney "you will die" comments. Ms. Dowd writes:
These guys figure, hey, these scare tactics worked in
building support for the Iraq war, maybe they can work in
tearing down support for John Kerry. They linked Saddam
with terrorism and cowed the Democrats (including Mr.
Kerry, who has never been able to make the case against the
Bush administration's trompe l'oeil casus belli) and fooled
the country into going along with their trumped-up war. So
why not link Mr. Kerry with terrorism and cow the voters
into sticking with the White House they've got?

It's like that fairy tale where vipers and toads jump out
of the mouth of the accursed mean little girl when she
tries to speak. Every time Mr. Cheney opens his mouth,
vermin leap out.

The vice president and president did not even mention Osama
at the convention because of the inconvenient fact that the
fiend is still out there, plotting. Yet they denigrate Mr.
Kerry as too weak to battle Osama, and treat him as a
greater threat.

*Thanks for the link, Trope.