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The Tally Ho

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Tavis Smiley Leaves NPR

Many of you may listen to the Tavis Smiley Show sometime during the week. As of mid-December he will be off the air. The Washington Posts's Richard Leiby writes
Former Black Entertainment Television personality Tavis Smiley, who joined National Public Radio a few years ago, bailed out of his NPR gig yesterday. He said he'll give up his show, heard on 60 stations, in mid-December. Though NPR says the show successfully reached out to African Americans, his departure letter challenged NPR to do a better job of appealing to "the most multicultural, multiethnic and multiracial America ever."

Mr. Smiley's letter can be found here, at Reclaim the Media dot org. NPR writes on the shows website
Tavis Smiley informed us today that he will not renew his contract and that his last day will be December 16. We wish him well. Tavis is a remarkable talent and holds an important place in public radio history. We applaud Tavis for his energy and drive, which contributed greatly to the success of this historic show. NPR and the African American Consortium intend to continue this program with a new host and to expand and build upon its successes.

Four years ago, the African American Consortium and NPR together conceived of a public affairs show for public radio that would build diverse audiences and reflect the interests and perspective of the African American community. Tavis helped us to jumpstart this effort -- and for this we will always be grateful.

This partnership has been very successful. According to the Arbitron Spring 2004 research, the show reaches nearly 900,000 listeners each week on 87 stations, including 18 stations serving predominantly African American communities and stations that serve general audiences in nine of the top ten markets. It attracts one of the most diverse audiences to public radio: 29 percent of the listeners are African American, and 40 percent are listeners aged 44 or younger. Each of these measures is the highest of any NPR program...

Yet as Mr. Smiley wrote in his email
I wanted to contact you personally and immediately to express my gratitude to you and your staff for giving me the chance to be heard by your listeners. I know the ridicule many of you had to endure when you decided to take this journey with me by adding my program to your line-up. I will always be appreciative of your confidence and trust.

With your support, I have come to care even more for public radio and its social, cultural and intellectual potential. Yet, after all that we've accomplished towards our goal of seeking a broader, more diverse and younger audience for public radio, NPR's own research has confirmed that NPR has simply failed to meaningfully reach out to a broad spectrum of Americans who would benefit from public radio, but simply don't know it exists or what it offers.

In the most multicultural, multiethnic and multiracial America ever --- I believe that NPR can and must do better in the future.

Court Panel Recommends NYC Receive...

...$23 Billion In School Funding

A court-appointed panel on Tuesday recommended New York City’s public schools receive an additional $23 billion in funding by 2010 in response to a landmark lawsuit.

Under the proposal issued by the three special masters, the city’s Department of Education will get a steadily increasing amount of money for its operations budget over the next four years: $1.41 billion in the first year; $2.82 billion in the second year; $4.22 billion in the third; and $5.63 billion in the fourth.

At the same time, the state would kick in nearly $2 billion more each year for capital improvements over five years...

...Governor George Pataki says he's not convinced the panel's recommendations are sound. His office released a statement saying: “We are particularly concerned that the recommendations appear to reject any type of real reform and fail to overhaul the current accountability system, while recommending a substantial infusion of new spending."

The court appointed the three-member panel in the summer after the state Legislature and Pataki failed to agree on education funding reform. Last year, the state’s highest court ruled that the state’s funding formula shortchanges the city’s public school students.

Senate News

Now that caffeine is flowing through my bloodstream and the lack of sleep from the previous weekend is somewhat remedied, I heard two pieces of Senate news this morning.

First, NAACP President Kweisi Mfume is expected to step down after seven years. The rumor is that he is going to run for retiring Maryland Senator Paul Sarbanes's seat. The son of Senator Sarbanes is also said to be interested. Seeing how it is likely that Rep. Harold Ford, Jr. will run to replace probably retiring Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and win, this could mean 3 African Americans elected to the Senate in two cycles.

Second, New Jersey Senator Jon Corzine is said to announce his intention to run in the Democratic Primary for the Gubernatorial Race anytime. Current Governor Richard J. Cody hasn't said what he will do, and on public radio this morning it was mentioned that US Rep. Robert Andrews could run to balance out the North-South Jersey candidates. In 2002 when Sen. Lautenberg decided to come out of retirement to keep Douglas Forrester out of the Senate, another name that was mentioned at that time was Rep. Robert Menendez.

Unfortunately neither winning the seat in New Jersey or Maryland will change the overall makeup in the Senate.

Monday, November 29, 2004


Wow, Trope really did take some great pictures while Wells was stranded in Chicago. Here's another one:

Jacob Wells and Elwood Grobnik, Thanksgiving 2004

I also just finished "What's the Matter with Kansas," and I will be posting on it as soon as I get my hands on the relevant theoretical background to make sense of it all, namely Anti-Semite and Jew : An Exploration of the Etiology of Hate by Sartre. I recommend this book to everyone. No, I'm not claiming the Religious Wrong are anti-semitic - the book is a great dissection of culture-based cultural resentment, whether of Jews, Homos, or Sushi-Eaters. Joe Bob says "check it out."

Thomas Frank & Nicolas Kristoff

I know many people talking about Thomas Frank's What's the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America. If you haven't read the book, or have and want to hear Mr. Frank with Mr. Kristof in an interview, click here for a link to Monday's Brian Lehrer Show.

Non caffeinated Monday Morning Thought

Screw 'till we're blue, as its been called. For decades people have been moving to the burbs, spreading South and West, and reproducing conservatism as they go. Now they have all the power. All this talk about controlling the media spin, starting think tanks, careers in education, framing the issues, the Southern lowlands, the culture war, etc. is only good for the short term. The long term solution is more radical. The long term solution is to out reproduce our conservative brothers and sisters. It is correct to say that our single branched plan for a long term left center progressive political domination is a complete and utter lack of family planning while ignoring environmental concerns. Okay, be wise, but breed within your means. While I realize that many of us do not want to undermine our diaperless lifestyles that include such wonderful things as sushi, whiskey, dinner with friends, live music on a Tuesday, not having to clean baby vomit off our clothes, and much, much more. But we can cut back on our mindless consumerism that drives our quest for cushy lifestyles and create a real grassroots political movement!

So ladies and gentleman, free yourself of birth control. It is never too early to get involved in the 2024 and 2028 election cycle!

This 2024 Democratic voter could be yours!

*A product of a caffeine deprived Monday morning.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Elwood & Wells, Race for the DNC Chair

Last Wednesday when my connecting flight was canceled in Chicago, Elwood and Trope were nice enough to consume thai and whiskey with me. That evening Trope snapped a shot of us.

In other news Howard Dean is making a push to be the chair of the DNC. This is a photograph from a Dean's last speech.

I couldn't resist that Dean pic even though I like him. I must go watch Desperate Housewives and stop this annoying blog post.

Blumenthal in the Guardian / War on Drugs

Maybe you caught Sidney Blumenthal's latest for the Guardian, One gulp, and Bush was gone. My favorite part
Offstage, beforehand, Rove and Bush had had their library tours. According to two eyewitnesses, Rove had shown keen interest in everything he saw, and asked questions, including about costs, obviously thinking about a future George W Bush library and legacy. "You're not such a scary guy," joked his guide. "Yes, I am," Rove replied. Walking away, he muttered deliberately and loudly: "I change constitutions, I put churches in schools ..." Thus he identified himself as more than the ruthless campaign tactician; he was also the invisible hand of power, pervasive and expansive, designing to alter the fundamental American compact.

Bush appeared distracted, and glanced repeatedly at his watch. When he stopped to gaze at the river, where secret service agents were stationed in boats, the guide said: "Usually, you might see some bass fishermen out there." Bush replied: "A submarine could take this place out."

David sent me Rachel Van Dongen's piece in the Christian Science Monitor, Quietly, the war on drugs gains ground. Here is a piece
When President Bush visits the seaside city of Cartagena Monday, he and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe are sure to tick off the latest figures: crops of coca, the main ingredient in cocaine, were reduced in Colombia by 16 percent in 2003, to 213,000 acres, according to the United Nations. That's a 47 percent decline over three years, from a high of 403,000 acres in 2000. US figures, which rely on different methodology, are slightly less optimistic but still significant - a 33 percent decline since 2001. Production of poppies, the source of heroin, is down by 33 percent in the past two years, the US government says. With US help - to the tune of $3.3 billion - Colombia in recent months has seized record amounts of cocaine headed to US ports, approved the extradition of infamous drug barons like Cali cartel chief Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela, and confiscated scores of luxurious properties belonging to notorious narcotraffickers.

Also, under the hard-charging Mr. Uribe - perhaps the firmest US ally in Latin America and a strong supporter of the Iraq war - Colombia has launched an unprecedented military drive called Plan Patriot against the leftist rebels known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). And Uribe is in peace negotiations with the right-wing paramilitaries, who are heavily involved in the drug business. Up to 3,000 troops in the 20,000-man army are expected to demobilize by year's end.

The drop in drug production is largely due to the aggressive coca fumigation program, mostly executed by US planes and pilots. In 2003 they sprayed 328,500 acres, the UN says. So far in 2004, according to the Colombian government, 310,600 acres have been sprayed, a slight drop from this time last year.

Saturday, November 27, 2004


Thursday, November 25, 2004

language keeps me locked and repeating

I'm engaging in some serious multi-tasking this morining. Cleaning my room (to make room for more crap), rippin' cds for my new 40oz ipod (am i really ever going to listen to 20 Dolly Parton songs? hell yeah!), and clicking on some links I've been saving.

One of them sends me to the text of a 1996 memo by Newt Gingrich -- Language: A Key Mechanism of Control. Check out the list of "Optimistic Positive Governing Words" and "Contrasting Words" used to demonize the opponent.

Remember, just like on Pee Wee's Playhouse, whenever your favorite politico uses these words you must scream.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

New Rule

From this point on all posts containing Religious Right will be edited to Religious Wrong (note: this is not serious).

Also, I did finally switch back to the "Wells" as it what I post with everywhere else.

It has been written, it is so.


I had this crazy idea in my head that my Thanksgiving traveling, would somehow be free of my usual travel headaches. My morning went way too smoothly. I got up late, had breakfast, checked email, caught the bus wicked late, no lines at the airport - and it actually left on time (something that never happens between New York City and Chicago)! However, upon our decline into O'Hare I looked out the window to find driving ice (not driving rain), nasty winds, puddles of slush, and a very hard landing that happened after three bounces - and it did end up late. So as I am waiting to exit the plane to and head over to my connecting flight, my phone tells me that I have a message. It is from the airline telling me that my connection is canceled due to weather. Was I upset? Absolutely not! After my summer travels which consisted of all delayed flights, one for 8 hours, a flight with a fight between a passenger and a flight attendant, a run in with Midwestern Amtrak, this was nothing. The beauty of being stranded in Chicago for Thanksgiving is that it is Chicago! Even better is that I am going to be drinking whiskey with Elwood and Trope all night. Thai food down the street. Best damn Turkey day possible. My suggestion: If traveling from East to West, go through Chicago and hope your flight gets canceled.

BTW, this post is sponsored by Markers Mark

This Totally Rules

The Kids are All Right, If a Bit Loud. Like I said, this totally rules.

Chimay of Thought

While consuming our last Chimay, and while participating in our traditional Tuesday before Thanksgiving drink fest, David and I had a few thoughts.

1) If corporations have personhood, can we file a restraining order against Viacom or GE?

2) David on metrosexuals: "Men are not happy enough oppressing women so they oppress themselves too."

3) Ronald Reagan really is dead. He can't be brought back for Bill Frist's run for president in '08. This we forgot. How could we forget?

Chimay, I say.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Barack Obama on WNYC

I have been very busy the last few weeks, but I wanted to link WNYC's Leonard Lopate Show interview with newly elected U.S. Senator Barack Obama. By the way, I think Illinois has the best Senate delegation in the country. Though Vermont and others are pretty strong too. Okay, I am bias. Here in New York, within a week after the election I saw "Obama '08" buttons everywhere. But as Mr. Obama says, "I am 99th in seniority in the Senate." Many New Yorkers won't like this, but he says Sen. Clinton is a good model for serving ones state.

Click here for the audio link. It is located at the bottom of the page and is 34 minutes long.

Best Line of the Day

On purchasing a Gameboy DS for his wife, Jason writes:
Yesterday at work, someone said that they went out over lunch to buy one for their 9 year old. Over lunch, I went out to buy one for my 31 year old.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Debt forgiving: Why just Iraq?

I just saw this article in the NY Times regarding the U.S. push to have other countries forgive Iraq's debt.

See it here:

While I think this is a good idea (although one that the Bush administration will trumpet first as a point that the world agrees with what we're doing and second as one that his administration is doing the right thing in Iraq), my main question is why aren't we pushing for this more in Africa or Haiti?

The author of the piece even takes a poke at the countries that are struggling in Africa:

The treatment being given Iraq has in the past been reserved for so-called heavily indebted poor countries, mostly aid-dependent nations in Africa.
Italics mine. Anyone know what the full story is here?

Friday, November 19, 2004

Brad Carson: Vote Righteously!

Elwood has a great post below on addressing the lowlands and breakdown of the US voter, as did Jen. But I have had something else on my mind – I’ll make it quick because I have stuff to do. You may have caught recently defeated Senatorial candidate, Representative Brad Carson's piece this week, but if you haven't it is The New Republic and titled Vote Righteously! Mr. Carson writes
As a defeated Senate candidate in the most red of red states, many people have asked me for insights into the Democratic Party's failure to connect with culturally conservative voters. Much has already been written on this topic, and scholars will add more. But I do know this: The culture war is real, and it is a conflict not merely about some particular policy or legislative item, but about modernity itself. Banning gay marriage or abortion would not be sufficient to heal the cultural gulf that exists in this nation. The culture war is about matters more fundamental still: whether nationality is, in a globalized world, a random fact of no more significance than what hospital one was born in or whether it is the source of identity and even political legitimacy; whether one's self is a matter of choice or whether it is predetermined, before birth, by the cultural membership of one's family; whether an individual is just that--a free-floating atom--or whether the individual is part of a long chain that both predates and continues long after any particular person; whether concepts like honor and shame, which seem so quaint, are still relevant in a world that values only "tolerance." These are questions not for politicians but for philosophers, and, in the end, it is the failure of liberal philosophy that we saw on November 2.

For the vast majority of Oklahomans--and, I would suspect, voters in other red states--these transcendent cultural concerns are more important than universal health care or raising the minimum wage or preserving farm subsidies. Pace Thomas Frank, the voters aren't deluded or uneducated. They simply reject the notion that material concerns are more real than spiritual or cultural ones. The political left has always had a hard time understanding this, preferring to believe that the masses are enthralled by a "false consciousness" or Fox News or whatever today's excuse might be. But the truth is quite simple: Most voters in a state like Oklahoma--and I venture to say most other Southern and Midwestern states--reject the general direction of American culture and celebrate the political party that promises to reform or revise it.

I do not really think that liberal philosophy was a failure on 2 November. But I think there is a difference in national, statewide, and local elections. Democratic Senatorial candidates were asking too many voters to split their ballots. Mr. Coburn had 13% fewer votes than Mr. Bush had. Mr. Martinez also had less votes than Mr. Bush, as did Mr. DeMint, Mr. Burr, Mr. Thune, Mr. Coors, Ms. Murkowski, and Mr. Daniels in becoming Indiana's governor. Democrats have lost 10 Southern and Red State Senate seats in the last two cycles. I think contrary to many of my northern secular liberal friends, it is not due to the economy (especially considering besides Ohio, Democrats had very strong candidates). Ohio did not vote for Mr. Bush by 100,000 votes because of the strong rebounding Ohio economy. There is a reason Ohio went from having Metzenbaum and Glenn to Senators DeWine and Voinovich. South Carolina’s textile industry has been hurt in the several years – but still retained and added a Republican Senator. While the conventional wisdom has been that economic indicators are the trump card, Representative Carson paints a little different picture. As a Northeast liberal who has lived in five states, four solid blue and one swing, I don't pretend to really understand how or why people in different regions or states vote. In 2004 I voted on my personal issues: health care, a stronger job market, against the budget deficit ("birth tax"), for stronger environmental standards, alternative fuels and public transit, against the direction of the war in Iraq and preemptive military strikes, for retaining our civil liberties and a woman's right to choose. There are lots of reason why we vote. What I find difficult to believe is that my top issues are really that different than someone from another region or state. But nowhere did my faith or religion enter in. Perhaps it is interpretation, or as Rep. Carson suggests, not important. The latter perhaps is the scariest prospect for us on the center-left, economics may not be as powerful a trump card as we may want to believe it is - or was. But as Elwood points out very well, it isn't as simple the Red vs. Blue.

The last week or two I had two posts regarding the panels of pollsters that I listened to on CSPAN. One Republican pollster commented that these new Republican voters were not a broadening of the base as much as identifying more of the same voters that already exist. Read more on those here and here. One thing that I found interesting in "Vote Righteously!" was how Mr. Carson said these voters "reject the general direction of American culture and celebrate the political party that promises to reform or revise it." First, what is American culture? Second, as I understand it some scholars say that youth culture is American culture as the United States does not have the distinctions seen in Britain or France, for example. So in a way are we rejecting youth culture? Or is this cultural divide based on theocracy vs. secularism as one of the pollsters refers to the Republican Party as theocratic, or the growth of sprawl, or progressives vs. conservatives, or other phenomena’s (good post at dkos about the agenda)? So for whatever the reasons, I think both sides see a general misdirection of the country.

Last week Josh Marshall had two good posts to read, if you haven't all ready here and here. Alright, out of time. Just wanted to put up Mr. Carson's article

Addition: While I have a minute, I meant to write that you have to sign up (for free) to use the TNR site. Also, I was watching CSPAN last week and it was a call in show with the Rev. Jerry Fallwell. Mr. Fallwell didn't let anything slip out that could be considered for a news cycle. But there was a caller from Mississippi who was a veteran of Vietnam and use to be Democrat. He basically said that his eyes were open now. That it is the Republicans that are moral while the Democrats are the party of homosexuals and gays - which he repeated at least twice.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Kevin Sites

Check out http://www.kevinsites.net/. He is writing from Falluja.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Is Walmart good for America?

I watched the Frontline special last night on Walmart on PBS. It was a farily good show that explained the Walmart philosphy and then traced how that philosphy leads to more lay offs and plant closing in the US to more companies moving shop to China. Bottom line = Walmart is bad for America. Not only bad for American workers but bad for the small towns that Walmart overruns and bad for American consumers. You're not really saving money at Walmart. Their strategy is based on point sales. You see one item that has a great low price that lures you into that specific department. Then in that department, the remainig items are usually higher priced than at other stores. The point sales are the only items you're getting a bargain on. Now how many people know that? I surely didn't before I saw this show. I was dissapointed that they didn't focus on labor relations within Walmart itself. It was never mentioned that Walmart doesn't allow unions or pays women less than men. That's what I would've expected of such a show.

Big cities, that I know of, like Chicago and Portland are trying hard to keep Walmart out of the city. Portland has one Walmart store and from what I've heard, the store is pure crap. The city of Portland is keeping Walmart out based on square footage requirements for commercial buildings. Walmart stores are simply too large to build in the Portland city limits. The nearest Walmart Supercenter is a good 30 mile drive out of town. I'm getting used to not having Walmart around. Target is now my destination of choice, although how much better is that? It's still a mega store. Where else is there to go?

For more info on the program, click here

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Mark Thatcher Faces Charges in Coup Plot

In case you didn't notice, ex British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's son Mark is in trouble:
MALABO, Equatorial Guinea - Equatorial Guinea has decided to seek the extradition of Mark Thatcher, son of the former British prime minister, for trial in an alleged coup plot in the isolated, oil-rich central African nation, a legal official close to the government said Tuesday.

Prosecutors have added Thatcher and seven others to the list of those charged in the alleged March takeover plot, legal officials said.

Thatcher, a 51-year-old businessman, is now under arrest in South Africa in connection with the alleged plot.

"It's not a question of being tried in absentia," a legal official close to Attorney General Jose Olo Obono said, speaking by telephone to The Associated Press in Senegal on condition of anonymity. The intention is "to invite him to come along," the official said.


No, Condi! is not a dramedy on NBC. Condi! is a reality show and an alumnus of the Hoover Institute, the National Security Advisor and the soon to be Secretary of State. But Dr. Rice has not been without her own controversy. Glenn Kessler and Thomas E. Ricks write in the Washington Post
But Rice's management of the interagency process has been lagging, according to Rothkopf and former and current officials. In part, this is because Rice not only had to manage two powerful Cabinet members with sharply different views -- Powell and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld -- but also to deal with a player distinctive to the Bush administration: Vice President Cheney, who weighs in on every major foreign policy question...

..Throughout the first term, policies on such critical issues as dealing with North Korean and Iranian nuclear programs have remained mired in disagreement, and officials said Rice never seemed to drive the process to a resolution. Officials on both sides of the administration's debate over North Korea faulted Rice for failing to fashion a coherent approach to dismantling North Korea's nuclear program.

Dr. Rice may think King George II is her husband, he isn't. As William Branigin writes for the Washington Post

Known as one of President Bush's closest confidants, Rice reportedly shares his deeply religious nature, joining him often in prayer. She is also an avid football fan and has said her dream job would be commissioner of the National Football League.

But I think before Dr. Rice can take her dream job, she will be on the short list to be Senator Bill Frist's running mate in 2008. At the moment one thing seems certain, President Bush is consolidating his power. But I think Dr. Rice may be around a while.

Senate News/New York Gubernatorial Race '06

As was likely, and as Jen wrote, Harry Reid will be minority leader - with a few positives and negatives. A big positive is Illinois Senator Richard Durbin as minority whip.

Also, Charles Schumer is now on the powerful Senate Committee on Finance, thus you can probably remove his name from consideration in the New York Governors race. New York being a patron state - this is important. This avoided a potential nasty primary with current New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer. It is unclear if Governor Pataki will run again (at least I haven't heard anything), but either way I think Mr. Spitzer is the best candidate and probably win. Pataki's future seems unclear though. With the direction the GOP is going, I doubt he has a place nationally. But how much opposition will Mr. Spitzer have? Not from Democrats, but as AG he took on Wall Street and now he is going after the insurance industry. Campaigns involve raising a lot of money. So will these groups lock Mr. Spitzer out of the fund raising, donate a much larger sum to his challenger, or be smart with their bets? After all, chances are very good he is the next Governor of New York State.

Monday, November 15, 2004

The Ten Americas, Beyond 2004

Steve first brought this Robert David Sullivan character to my attention about a year ago, I believe. He has a new analysis out about the 2004 elections on a regional basis. You may have seen this DailyKOS diary, which is interesting, although the comments section is annoying. The whole Globe article deserves a close read, because it suggests that much of the conventional wisdom about 2004 has been wrong. The first reaction of many Democrats has been to decry the lingering influence of the old Confederacy in establishing a racist solid South for the Republicans. But a regional analysis shows this isn't true. The South has always been divided between lowlanders and "hillbillies;" and while Appalachia, which we have mistakenly contested, has become the country's most conservative region, the piedmont, which Sullivan calls the "Southern Lowlands," has been trending Democratic. Yes - the very people I was misguidedly badmouthing last week. Atlanta suburbs? Savannah? Sullivan groups them in with Northern Virginia as modernizing, high-tech areas ripe for Democratic takeover.

The other important regional news: "Big River." A lot of people mocked it at the time, but Al Gore's riverboat tour down the Mississippi probably won him the popular vote. If you look at the county map (Kerry is RED here) you will notice lots of red counties along the river. There were more in 2000, when Gore won the region (Bush won Big River this time with 50.1% of the vote). A lot of these counties are not in major media markets and are hours from the nearest big airport. The riverboat tour was good politics, and should be repeated.

A third point: Bush's popular vote margin came from getting votes in "Blue States." This is where 9/11 helped him win a "mandate:" He won some NJ suburbs and Staten Island, and did better on Long Island than he did four years ago. These areas were home to many dead firefighters and cops, especially SI and Brooklyn. I think the 9/11 gains were a one-time anomaly, but they illustrate a point: central cities aren't enough. This is not an urban nation anymore. Democrats can win if they hold the central cities and make gains in the suburbs. As long as Republicans can hold the suburbs and make gains in the "nice" neighborhoods in the cities, we are screwed, landslide screwed. It's amazing how much that election map looks like America from space. The bright spots are Democratic, the outer darkness Republican. We are the thing the darkness fears. To win, like Buffy, we need to invade Hell.

BBC: Powell Resigns

So, who replaces Secretary Powell?

BBC Options: Condi Rice or former Missouri Senator John Danforth. Dr. Rice would be interested in the job, but U.N. Abassador Danforth is the politically smart pick. He will have little trouble with confirmation. Before Iraq turned into a quagmire, remember when Paul Wolfowitz was mentioned as a replacement? Not anymore.

Powell Political Epitaph: "irrelevant"

Jay Street of Time added on the Brian Lehrer Show that Sec. Powell was never really trusted by Republicans while Democrats looked at him as the lone hope within the administration. Also says that it is an open secret that he is unhappy about the misleading evidence in his UN Speech and always lost battles with Sec. Rumsfeld and Vice President Cheney. Also, foreign leaders realized that he did not speak for the White House. Mr. Street also added that NSA Rice was more interested in the CIA than State.

Update: CNN is reporting Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham is stepping down. As a Senator didn't he propose a bill to get rid of the energy department?

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Are You Loyal to Generalissimo?

I read this article, CIA plans to purge its agency: Sources say White House has ordered new chief to eliminate officers who were disloyal to Bush, by Knut Royce this morning.
WASHINGTON -- The White House has ordered the new CIA director, Porter Goss, to purge the agency of officers believed to have been disloyal to President George W. Bush or of leaking damaging information to the media about the conduct of the Iraq war and the hunt for Osama bin Laden, according to knowledgeable sources.

"The agency is being purged on instructions from the White House," said a former senior CIA official who maintains close ties to both the agency and to the White House. "Goss was given instructions ... to get rid of those soft leakers and liberal Democrats. The CIA is looked on by the White House as a hotbed of liberals and people who have been obstructing the president's agenda."…

…But another former CIA official who retains good contacts within the agency said that Goss and his top aides, who served on his staff when Goss was chairman of the House intelligence committee, believe the agency had relied too much over the years on liaison work with foreign intelligence agencies and had not done enough to develop its own intelligence collection system.

"Goss is not a believer in liaison work," said this retired official. But, he said, the CIA's "best intelligence really comes from liaison work. The CIA is simply not going to develop the assets [agents and case officers] that would meet the intelligence requirements."

Tensions between the White House and the CIA have been the talk of the town for at least a year, especially as leaks about the mishandling of the Iraq war have dominated front pages.

Some of the most damaging leaks came from Michael Scheuer, former head of the CIA's Bin Laden unit, who wrote a book anonymously called "Imperial Hubris" that criticized what he said was the administration's lack of resolve in tracking down the al-Qaida chieftain and the reallocation of intelligence and military manpower from the war on terrorism to the war in Iraq. Scheuer announced Thursday that he was resigning from the agency.

I think that speaks for itself.

"All of the data are precious to Wal-Mart"*

Be afraid. Be HUGELY afraid. Wal-Mart, in addtion to shortchanging their "associates" and bullying publishers into changing the cover art on books, has been doing, and keeping, lots of homework on their customers. The entire frightening article is here. An excerpt:

With 3,600 stores in the United States and roughly 100 million customers walking through the doors each week,Wal-Mart has access to information about a broad slice of America - from individual Social Security and driver's license numbers to geographic proclivities for Mallomars, or lipsticks, or jugs of antifreeze. The data are gathered item by item at the checkout aisle, then
recorded, mapped and updated by store, by state, by region. By its own count, Wal-Mart has 460 terabytes of data stored on Teradata mainframes, made by NCR, at its Bentonville headquarters. To put that in perspective, the Internet has less than half as much data, according to experts.

There is a bright side to this dark, dark story; the prosecution in the class-action lawsuit brought by the female employees of Wal-mart is working to use this database to calculate back pay and comparative hours and wages by store. Like Nixon's tapes, these data might come back to bite Wal-Mart in the ass. I can only hope.

*No, it's not a typo. And God bless the NYTimes; no matter how weak their writing has become in other areas, they can still use the word "data" correctly in a sentence.

OTM Piece

Hacks 'R' Us
Sick and tired of the mindless pap that constitutes campaign coverage, New York Press columnist Matt Taibbi finally decided to take action. This year, he launched the First Quadrennial Election Hack Invitational. The goal of the tournament was to determine America’s worst political reporter, the wretch who truly deserves the scorn of the masses. Taibbi tells Brooke why he chose to fight fire with fire. ARTIST: Miles Davis Quintet TRACK: Surrey with the Fringe on Top ALBUM: Steamin' with the Miles Davis Quintet LABEL: Prestige

Listen to it here. As usual the whole show is good.

Even more Specter talk

Frist: Specter Must Prove Himself for Post
WASHINGTON - Sen. Arlen Specter must prove to his Republican colleagues that he is the right man to head the Senate Judiciary Committee in the next Congress, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Sunday.

Specter, R-Pa., will make his case to GOP colleagues this week when Congress returns for a postelection session...

...Frist, R-Tenn., said he expected a chairman to understand that he is responsible "to the feelings, the wishes, the beliefs, the values, the procedures that are held by the majority of that committee."

He added that Specter, as chairman, "has a clear obligation ... to take what the president nominates (and) get that nomination through committee."

Frist would not say if he backed Specter for the job.

Specter said he already has spoken to many other senators. "There has been a concern as to whether I would apply a litmus test to Supreme Court nominees, and the record is conclusive that I have never done that. I have voted for pro-life nominees," he told ABC's "This Week."

I have been following this for a few reasons, one of which is the process that Republicans are using. But I actually feel Sen. Specter is being treated unfairly. For Sen. Frist to say that Sen. Specter has to prove himself is laughable. I realize all of this is helping Mr. Frist solidify his likeability and credentials for his 2008 Presidential run with the people that are taking the most credit for pushing Mr. Bush into a second term, but Sen. Specter has been in the Senate for what, 24 years and counting? I think his record speaks for itself. He helped Justice Thomas get on the bench but helped derail the confirmations of Robert Bork and current Senator Jeff Sessions. He has also commented that there are no legal giants currently on the court and like to remedy this. That is what you get. Not to mention that Sen. Frist is only majority leader because Sen. Lott was pushed out from a leadership position and the White House wanted Mr. Frist, who had only been in the Senate for eight years. Supposedly Mr. Frist could never keep up with out going minority leader Tom Daschle on proceedure. So perhaps there is a lot going on other than qualifications and ideology.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

One more for the road

Ashcroft just wanted something for us to remember him by. On Friday, he pronounced that the federal courts --which ruled against the Bush administration and gave prisoners at Guantanamo legal protections--are endangering national security in the GWOT.

"The danger I see here is that intrusive judicial oversight and second-guessing of presidential determinations in these critical areas can put at risk the very security of our nation in a time of war."*

It seems that this man has seriously misunderstood the phrase "separation of powers" to mean: "This is the executive branch's power and you can't touch it". Is there any way we could fire this man, instead of just letting him quit?

(In a speech to the Federalist Society national convention. Quoted from the Chicago Tribune, 11/12. Interested in learning more about the Federalist Society? Read here.)

Friday, November 12, 2004

Parental Consent Laws = Less Birth Control = More Pregnancy

(sigh) In the State of Illinois, any person 12 or older is entitled to confidential reproductive health care; a girl can get birth control pills, a guy can get an STD test, etc, etc. If a girl is pregnant and younger than 12, she is also entitled to RH care, under IL law. Except, apparently, in McHenry county, where they have found a "better way". Reprinted from the Kaiser Daily RH Report on Thursday.

Ill. County Requiring Parental Consent for Birth Control Publishes Response to Study Linking Policy to Rise in Teen Pregnancy Rate

Public health officials from McHenry County, Ill., in a letter to be published in the February 2005 issue of the American Journal of Public Health say they want to correct a "serious error"
and "misrepresentations" in a study that reported an increase in the county's teen pregnancy rate in the first two years after implementing a policy requiring parental permission for minors to obtain contraceptives, the Crystal Lake Northwest Herald reports (Legue, Crystal Lake Northwest Herald, 11/9). According to the study, which was published in the August issue of the American Journal of Public Health, McHenry County between 1998 -- when the law was implemented -- and 2000 experienced a significant relative increase in its teen pregnancy and birth rates compared with neighboring counties. The study also found that the county experienced an insignificant decline in the relative proportion of abortions obtained by women under age 20 over the same period (Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report, 8/2). However, McHenry County officials say that the study included 18-year-olds, who were not subject to parental consent, according to the Herald. In addition, county health officials in the letter write that the two-year study period was too short to draw conclusions about changes in the teen pregnancy rate.

Researcher Response
However, study author Dr. Madeline Zavodny -- who worked in the Economics Department at Occidental College in Los Angeles at the time of the study and now is based at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Ga. -- said that the teen pregnancy rate in McHenry County over the period studied was higher than in neighboring counties, even without the data from 18-year-olds. She added that 75% of the 18-year-old pregnant women included in the study would have been pregnant minors when the policy changed and women who turned 18 over the study period might have eschewed birth control after their 18th birthday because of "habits formed by the policy change," the Herald reports. Zavodny conceded that the two-year study period was too short, saying, "We'll get a better fix on things in the long term." She added, "But then again, this is very important. Do we want to wait that long to find out if people are being affected?"

Policy History//The policy, which makes McHenry County ineligible for Title X federal grant funding, stems from a 1997 incident in which a male teacher pleaded guilty to several counts of child sexual assault for having sex with a 14-year-old female student. The student had been obtaining contraceptive injections from the health department, which at the time was prevented from notifying the girl's parents (Crystal Lake Northwest Herald, 11/9).

I get needled all the time about this law, which I didn't help make, and I've heard teachers or nurses outright lie to teens who are asking whether or not they can get BC or exams without their parents' permission. I feel like printing out this article and handing out copies to everyone who argues with me.

Shameless Self-Promotion

Enter my Caption Contest and win a 12-pack of beer.

I have finally figured out how to post at the Tally Ho, so I am going to abuse this privilege to shamelessly promote my own blog. I have no idea what is going on in the little corner of hell we know as Iraq anymore, so all you have to do to win is be more convincing than Donald Rumsfeld or Scott McClellan.

You know you want to. Who among us does not love beer?

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Its Not All Politics

I realize that the election has taken over other cultural and regular life type blogging. It is expected as we begin to fully realize that we are stuck with four more years with Mr. Bush at the helm with his gigantic 51% mandate, knowing full well that the opposition offered what we thought was superior policies. But there is a lot more to life. Here are some examples:

  • Elwood wanted to know the proper pronunciation of cepiatone, starting his voice mail with the phrase “hey, photoboy...”
  • I received a letter and questionnaire from the United States Office of Personnel Management informing me that they are investigating (which is routine) a friend that applied for a gig and I am a reference (which I agreed to). This is great, we need good federal employees. I decided to make two copies, one that is serious and one that reaches total absurdity that I will mail to this person hoping it doesn’t induce heart failure.
  • I bought a better bed, but I didn’t buy a new frame as I am way too cheap to consider it at this time. Therefore I made a make shift one, without using any time life books or duct tape.
  • Tony & Terra are having a baby! My friends are reproducing – and their new heated (not really) discussions involve what music is to be pumped into her womb. I hear Terra prefers the pixies – I’m sure Tony wants to introduce it/her/him to the Smoking Popes.
  • Nick has accepted a job in NYC and will be morning here with his soon to be wife in the summer.
  • Mr. Bush’s reelection has not yet negatively affected the price of wine, whiskey, and those several highly underrated American beers.
  • A housemate is cooking with goat cheese and Lamb as I type.
  • I am becoming mildly intoxicated, thus mildly goofy.
  • The new Atlantic Monthly arrived on Tuesday, Foreign Affairs last week
  • Tomorrow is Friday. I love my fair city.
  • NAAS finally has a comment section
  • The best holiday, Thanksgiving, is right around the corner
  • NYC says, "Bring on those FCC fines!"
  • Only four more years…

Feel free to add your own.

Letters Home

Since it is Veterans' Day...
from a NYTimes.com article today entitled "The Things They Wrote". Go read all three, if you're registered.

Excerpts from letters to his 2-year-old son and his wife from Sgt. Christopher Potts of the Army. Sergeant Potts, 38, of Tiverton, R.I., was killed on Oct. 3 in Taji by small-arms fire.
Hi my big guy. How are you? I miss you bad. I miss things like you calling for me in the morning when you hear me in the kitchen, or when you come home at the end of the day. I also miss cooking for you and Mom. But most of all I miss your big hugs. I enjoy hearing your voice on the phone and seeing the pictures you draw for me. I'm sorry for not writing you till now. But the days are very long here, and we only get about four-and-a-half hours sleep a night. I got up a little early to write this because I know you need your own letter too.
March 18
Hi my love. Well, where should I start? First we left Kuwait after being issued a combat load of ammo - M-16 ammo, grenades, smoke grenades, grenade-launcher ammo and C-4. I knew that night that this is for real. Some people paced, some people slept, some of us had to write the just-in-case letters, some just sat. The letter-writing was a real hard thing to do, it definitely makes you aware of the situation and your life. But you'll never have to read it - unless you want to when I get home. It's weird because I'm not afraid of what might happen, or the pain of it. I'm just afraid of not being able to see you again.
The first leg of the trip through the desert was really bad. There were children of all ages from God knows where begging for food and water. The dust was blowing all over them, and some had torn outgrown clothes, and some were barefoot. I looked over at my driver and we were both crying after a few miles. I said to him, You know, this is why I'm here, so that my kids won't ever have to live like that. Then we just drove in silence for a while.
As we got closer to Baghdad you could see blown-up military equipment, ours and theirs. People were on the side of the road selling gasoline out of plastic jugs. There was diesel and fuel spilled everywhere ... then you'd see some slaughtered lambs on the side of the road. The meat is hanging out in the sun and dirt and germ-infested air. Farther down the road there were people bathing and washing up. Other people were picking through garbage.
I hope today I can call. I miss you so much that as I write this part my eyes are
running. The TV in the mess hall said you got snow yesterday. I wish I was there to shovel. I hope you are being taken care of.

It's odd that they are running this piece today; I've always thought that Veterans' Day was more for the soldiers who lived through a war than for the soldiers who died in one. However, it's good for all of us to remember that this war is a personal as well as a political and military event.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Okay, I'm back.

Once again, Molly Ivins says it all.

If I didn't work in the schools, I would have completely forgotten about Veteran's Day tomorrow. It seems particularly relevant this year, since the war will only continue. Don't forget.

Alberto Gonzales to Replace Ashcroft

WASHINGTON - President Bush has chosen White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, a Texas confidant and the most prominent Hispanic in the administration, to succeed Attorney General John Ashcroft, sources close to the White House said Wednesday...

...Gonzales has been at the center of developing Bush's positions on balancing civil liberties with waging the war on terrorism — opening the White House counsel to the same line of criticism that has dogged Ashcroft.

For instance, Gonzales publicly defended the administration's policy — essentially repudiated by the Supreme Court and now being fought out in the lower courts — of detaining certain terrorism suspects for extended periods without access to lawyers or courts.

He also wrote a controversial February 2002 memo in which Bush claimed the right to waive anti-torture law and international treaties providing protections to prisoners of war. That position drew fire from human rights groups, which said it helped led to the type of abuses uncovered in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

The American Civil Liberties Union said it expected the Senate to closely examine those issues during confirmation hearings. The ACLU said it had no position on Gonzales, but added: "Particular attention should be devoted to exploring Mr. Gonzales' proposed policies on the constitutionality of the Patriot Act, the Guantanamo Bay detentions, the designation of United States citizens as enemy combatants and reproductive rights."

Some conservatives also have quietly questioned Gonzales' credentials on core social issues. And he once was a partner in a Houston law firm which represented the scandal-ridden energy giant Enron.

So which Republicans will question this appointment? I remember Sen. Lindsay Graham's questions during the Abu Girab hearings... Oh, here is the link. What next, Estrada for Supreme Court?

More on the Cultural War: from the Left

Last night on Bill Maher, yes the one with Andrew Sullivan, during his segment is says the following:
[Picture of Bush] Stop saying that you have an agenda, it’s a series of laws that your corporate donors requested.

[Showing an election map] After reconsidering, 140 years too late, you can leave and take Texas with you. Its not that I don’t understand there values, I don’t share them… When blow jobs are more important than job-jobs, there is a problem…

Maher's last comment was something about a fetus that I didn't quite catch. Jason sent me this link to the latest Savage Love. The question was:
I am sunk into a depression over the election results. I started out Anyone But Bush, but I actually came to like John Kerry, which makes his defeat even harder. I feel like I'm looking at four years of prison, and like I share this country with a pack of baboons. Everywhere I look, I see that smug bastard's picture, and I am filled with grief.
A Freaked Fan

And part of his answer was:
Back to you, AFF. Provided we don't all leave, here's how we get through a second Bush term: For at least the next four years, American lefties, artists, and queers should not consider this land our land. It is not a land of opportunity that spreads from sea to shining sea. No, we live on a chain of islands, an archipelago, not a continent. Sane people live on our islands—New York, San Francisco, Denver, Seattle, Portland, Madison, Austin, Boston, and on and on; basically all the cities, in red states and blue, that voted for Kerry—and we may not be the majority right now, and it may feel like sea levels are rising. But, hey, we own all the best real estate. We've got the cities, the Northeast, the Midwest, and the West Coast. And what have they got? The Wal-Marts, the West Virginias, the Alabamas, the McMansions, and the mega-churches. Fuck 'em. Let 'em have that crap. We'll fight the fuckers in two years during the midterm elections and take back Congress. And we'll take 'em on again in four years and take back the White House. In the meantime, enjoy island life.

I don't expect the culture war to go anywhere for the time being. Not only out of frustration, but it has been so very effective.

A Couple Thoughts on the State of Politics

First, I thought the dKos post about the wingnuts wanting to kick us blue states out was classic. As my roommate says, “go ahead, let us see how your economy looks without the West coast and Northeast.” After all, who is going to pay for their federal government? It seems to me that most of the patron states are blue or purple.

Second, as I was battling sleep Monday night, I flipped through the right wing cable news roll call. It was filled with talk about denying Senator Specter of his long sought after chairmanship by right wing pressure. Also on was Joe Scarborough talking about how the New York Times and the liberal intelligentsia are intolerant and patronizing of evangelical Christians and their issues (“values”). I thought of Elwood’s post, but also thought about what my issues were. But before that I have a few thoughts on the moderate and liberal Republicans no longer having a home. The pending denial of Sen. Specter’s Chair – or at least the attempt to make him a yes man of the right wing. Republicans use to say they believe in fiscal discipline and in personal freedom, do they even say that anymore?

Much has been talked about Lincoln Chafee’s struggle with leaving the Republican Party or not. It cannot be an easy choice. With the Senate 55-45 in favor of his current party, he will be going from the majority to minority. This does not help his issues or those of Rhode Island – and the Senior Senator is also a Democrat. As it has been pointed out, he is probably more liberal than many of his Democratic colleagues, but he is a Republican from another time. Because of the number difference, he will not get the deal Sen. Jeffords was given by former minority leader Daschle. So where is the incentive? The Chafee name in Rhode Island is said to be enough to be re-elected as whatever he wants. If the Republicans run a wingnut against him in the primary, he probably overcomes it. If not, he can run as an independent and win statewide vote. But there is no incentive to run as an independent when the Republican and Democratic machines will be importing money into Rhode Island to challenge him. Could he raise enough money in a small state like Rhode Island to cover the cost of a Senate run? Could he lose to a Patrick Kennedy in a one on one competition? Sure, but it won’t be easy. What about Olympia Snowe of Maine who will be a Senator until she decides when she is done? In defense of these two, where is the benefit in switching at this moment? It is not close in the Senate – and it won’t change the way they vote. Susan Collins is probably more vulnerable and what if Senator Specter is ousted?

Whether these described moderates become independents or Democrats is not the real concern. The real concern is that they are the past. That the House of Representatives only had around 35 competitive races and the expulsion of moderates within the Republican Party will eventually cause them to over reach their hand because there is little stopping them. Freshman elect Senators are not supporting Sen. Specter, who is about to start his fifth term says it all. So do you really think that Senators Chafee, Collins, Snowe, and even Specter will be heard?

But what about the youth? Let us call this 35 and under. This is a mix of second half xers and early neo-boomers (or generation brand or yers). It is this age group that is being injured and dying in Iraq. It is this group that is twice as likely to not have health care. It is this group who has seen their education and health care costs consistently increase at the same time they are looking for work, or better work in a soft job market. It is this group that will have to pay for the debt caused by tax cut mania. It is this group that is shouldering the burden in Iraq and the cost of the conservative movement under President Bush. Who is there to represent their interests and their quest to be able to provide their children with what was provided to them? Meanwhile the media cycles have been dominated by the power of evangelical Christians and voter “values”, Arlen Specter’s probable demise, Lincoln Chafee’s uneasy relationship with the modern GOP and the how intolerant the liberal intelligentsia is – it is all drama and more cultural war.

I am still registered as an independent though my “values” are mostly Democratic issues now, I guess (as Teresa Heinz Kerry said, “I haven’t changed, the Republican Party has.”) – you know like strong public schools, health care for all, protecting me and my neighbors civil liberties from a government that seems to desire more authority, not leaving the next generation with a “birth tax”, leaving the next generation with clean air and water, and making sure my fellow Americans have a proper social safety net for when times get rough. I don’t feel that I need, and shouldn’t have to have a political party to identify with in seeking my agenda. But this does not seem like reality right now. Sitting around being one of those critics who say “Democrats only suck less” probably gives a nice wiff and feeling of superiority, but it is just an easy way out. It is like watching a building burn down and instead of grabbing a bucket and helping out, standing there and commenting that a fire truck would be better than buckets of water – as if this is some revolutionary idea previously never thought of. So where do we go from here? Can we turn to the Republicans to make sure our money isn’t wasted or protecting us from deficit spending? Nope. Can we turn to the Republicans to not over extend the military and only enter wars of necessity with our allies? Nope. Can we turn to the Republicans to protect our civil liberties or our environment? Nope. So I guess we have to push for the alternative. I hope the moderates aren’t totally purged in Washington. I like having Senators Chafee, Snow, Collins, Breaux, and other “moderates”. After all you can’t be a progressive without having progress, and you won’t have progress without compromise and consensus. Being right and feeling good doesn't make you a "progressive".

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Does your IQ determine who you voted for? YES!

A friend of mine came across this website that tracks average state IQ's with who the state voted for in this past election. I don't know how true this is but I found it amusing nonetheless. http://www.commonalty.com/iq.txt

Kerry "Fired Up"

The Washington Post's Mike Allen has an article today titled "Fired Up" Kerry Returning to Senate. Allen writes
Aides said Kerry is relishing the prospect of renewed combat with President Bush, fighting such measures as the president's proposal to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. Kerry has spent most of the past two years on the campaign trail, meaning that his return to Capitol Hill will be something of a reintroduction to colleagues.

Kerry's plans contrast starkly with the approach taken by former vice president Al Gore, who all but disappeared from the political scene after losing to Bush in the disputed 2000 presidential election.

Kerry fueled talk about a 2008 bid during remarks at a Washington restaurant Saturday night. He provoked a thunderous reaction by reminding about 400 campaign aides and volunteers that Ronald Reagan twice sought the Republican nomination for president before winning it in 1980.

"Sometimes God tests you," Kerry told the crowd at H20, a restaurant on the Potomac waterfront, according to an aide. "I'm a fighter, and I've come back before."

Further down the article discusses the internal battle: ABB vs. Kerry, New Voice vs. Old Voice, and the message - James Carville adds
Carville said that the party's concern about interest groups had resulted in "litanies, not a narrative."

"The party needs a narrative," he said. adding later that one possibility would to become "an aggressively reform, anti-Washington, anti-business-as-usual party."

I am happy about this. Not the part about having an eye on 2008 (Is there a Senator or Governor that doesn't have an eye on the Presidency?), but the "relishing the prospect of renewed combat with President Bush." Sen. Reid is taking over as Senate Minority leader, and is said to be non-combatative. How vocal will he be? Democrats don't need a frontrunner for 2008, but they need someone, or a group, repeating that narrative, from day one to be a vocal opponent of the Bush Administration Agenda - and Sen. Kerry isn't fading away like Al Gore did in 2000. The counter policies are already there. It also seems that Howard Dean is considering the DNC Chair (including Harold Ickes) - if so, voices will be there. Regardless of how one feels about Mr. Dean or Mr. Kerry, there are potential voices and they are household names. As it has been suggested numerous places though, let the Republicans drown themselves. As Mr. Carville always says, if your opponent is drowning throw them an anvil. I can't imagine support will be there for further driving up the debt, an economy that doesn't create jobs, continued increased health care costs and education costs without an increase in wages, etc., but then again I thought we would be talking about the Democratic cabinet and the future of the GOP. So, who knows. Both Mr. Carville and Sen. Kerry are correct, we need a message and cotinued debate.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Whatever crumbs of hope I can find

I'm feeling a certain sense of somber relief in the election outcome--is this the last stage of grief? Anyway, it feels good to report on political issues that are not focused on the next Leader of the Free World. Perhaps, since the POTUS seems to have declined that position, we can turn some attention to what officeholder might become the new Leader. Clinton, as UN Sec-Gen?

But first, we need to figure out just who that Leader will be leading. The Kaiser Daily RH Report has posted the latest UN report on world population projections for 2300. They say, basically: "We don't have any idea how many people there will be!" Here's the long version.

Harvey Fierstein's OutTakes video clip, discussing gay marriage bans, is just excellent. You can also read the transcript from this link, but the monologue is much better. Little phrases from it have been rolling around in my mind all morning.

More on Specter

This morning on The Brian Lehrer Show they are talking to Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer. They played Senator Specter's comments about it being highly unlikely that there would be enough judges on the court to overturn Rowe v. Wade. Then they played a more recent clip of him saying that he supports the President's nominations. Mr. Krauthammer said that Mr. Specter was staking out his territory, but after his initial comments the cultural conservatives were calling for a way to deny the Senator his prized possession, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

As for President Bush spending his captial, Mr. Krauthammer hopes that Mr. Bush goes the way of Harry Truman and spend it all instead of they ways of Presidents Clinton and Reagan.

Long Way Round

Sleeping on a Sunday night is a difficult task. Every weekend my week schedule gets screwed up, and I pay the price by being a zombie on Monday morning until 10 or 11ish. But I have found an entertaining show on sleepless Sunday nights. Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman star and produce their 20,000 mile motorcycle trip in Long Way Round. At one point last night they were in a small village in the Ukraine, looking for a hotel. This guy comes up to them as says they can stay at his house, which is huge. So their night turns into a party - the man who is putting them up comes down the stairs with an AK in one hand, and a guitar in the other. The party continues... anyway, (click here for the Bravo site) I enjoyed it. Check it out.

Sunday, November 07, 2004


For a good listen (or read on Tuesday when the transcripts are available), check out this weeks On The Media. Here is the show content

Handled With Care
It was the most important election, we were told, of our lifetimes. And as we anxiously watched the news anchors on Tuesday evening, they watched the exit polls with just as much anticipation. But unlike 2000, when the networks barged through the night to a premature declaration of victory for Gore, this time the watchword was caution. Bob sizes up the real-time coverage and assesses the lessons learned.
ARTIST: Andy Summers TRACK: Think of One ALBUM: Green Chimneys LABEL: RCA

Returns to Power
It was an exhausting evening for everybody, and especially for Kerry supporters who bothered to look at early exit poll returns on the Internet. Those numbers showed Kerry ahead in all the crucial states, and so by the end of the night, how the seemingly mighty had fallen. But it appears that our belief in exit polling itself will survive. A couple of days later, everybody was once again poring over the data. Bob talks to Philadelphia Inquirer TV critic Jonathan Storm.

Europe, You’re Down
The front page of a section in the London’s Guardian newspaper on Thursday was all black, save two white words in the middle of the page: “Oh, God.” The reaction to Bush’s victory in much of the rest of the European press was only slightly more muted. Brooke gets a sampling of the coverage from UPI editor in chief Martin Walker.
BREAK I: ARTIST: Mstislav Rostropovich TRACK: Suite Nr. 4 in E flat major, Sarabande ALBUM: J.S. Bach Cello-Suiten LABEL: EMI

Deep Freeze
Over the past four years, OTM has often been accused of tilting in the direction of the president’s opponents. And we’ll be the first to admit that criticism has flowed often from these fonts. But we do, after all, focus on media, and the news media rely on the free exchange of information. As we prepare for another Bush Administration, Brooke takes the opportunity for a long, hard look at how freedom of information has fared under our once and future president.
ARTIST: Jonas Hellborg TRACK: It's the Pits, Slight Return ALBUM: Elegant Punk LABEL: Day Eight

Lights Out
Government secrecy was not a big issue in the Presidential campaign. But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a major difference in the candidates’ respective attitudes on the issue. Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy joins Bob to discuss four more years of what many call the most secretive executive branch in history.
ARTIST: Stephen Kovacevich TRACK: Sonata No. 17 in D minor, Op. 31 No.2, 3rd mvt. ALBUM: Beethoven- Complete Piano Sonatas LABEL: EMI BREAK II: ARTIST: Stephen Kovacevich TRACK: Sonata No. 17 in D minor, Op. 31 No.2, 3rd mvt. (end) ALBUM: Beethoven- Complete Piano Sonatas LABEL: EMI

Innocent Accounting Errors
Last week, the British medical journal The Lancet published a study estimating the number of Iraqi civilians who have died as a result of the war at 100 thousand. It’s a staggering number, especially considering that previous estimates had been about one-fifth of that. Brooke talks to Human Rights Watch senior military analyst Marc Garlasco about the difficulties, and value, of counting civilian casualties.
ARTIST: Mstislav Rostropovich TRACK: Suite Nr. 2 in D minor, Courante ALBUM: J.S. Bach Cello-Suiten LABEL: EMI

The C-Word
It begins with C, rhymes with grunt, and refers to female anatomy. And its origins and usage were the subject of a freelancer’s story in the Chicago Tribune last week. But when editors decided that the story shouldn’t run after all, it was already too late, and staffers had to remove an entire section from hundreds of thousands of newspapers by hand. The word never actually appeared in the story, nor will you hear it in this one, from Chicago Public Radio's Diantha Parker.

The Persuaders
The Kerry and Bush camps are packing up their campaign offices, having collectively burned an estimated one billion dollars on advertising over the course of the campaign. The figure is bigger every four years, it’s probably safe to say, because ads work. In the Frontline documentary “The Persuaders,” which airs this week, media critic Douglas Rushkoff explores how new technology is helping marketers pitch products – and presidents – with increasing accuracy at targeted audiences. Rushkoff joins Brooke to discuss the power of persuasion.

Personally, lights out held the most interest for me.

Surfing Through IMDB

I stopped by IMDB this evening and found a few interesting things. First, on the political front: MPAA To Sue Pirates
As expected, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) announced Thursday that it plans to take legal action against people trading movies via peer-to-peer networks on the Internet. "We believe if we don't act now, the consequences will be devastating for the film industry," MPAA chief Dan Glickman said during a news conference held at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. (College students, using high-speed Internet connections at their dorms, are thought to be the primary culprits in online movie trading.) At the news conference, the MPAA cited the supposed success of the music industry in thwarting piracy by filing more than 6,000 lawsuits against filesharers. However, some analysts question the tactic, pointing out that 2.5 million people per day continue to use the FastTrack.com network alone and that any attrition in record trading can be attributed to low-cost legitimate sites such as Apple's iTunes and the growth of new trading sites that provide greater anonymity. A spokesperson for one peer-to-peer site, who requested anonymity, told the publication E-Commerce Times, "The problem can be solved by partnering with providers of peer-to-peer applications. It's efficient, effective, and the way to go, especially with video, which requires a large amount of bandwidth. But relying on older technology is typical of the industry. If it had its way, movies would still be shown on 16mm film."

Bush Second Term Will See Tougher Content Regulation, Say Analysts
In the wake of President George W. Bush's reelection, the FCC is expected to crack down harder on on-air indecency, Billboard magazine reported today (Friday), citing unnamed FCC staffers. One staffer told the trade publication that he expects the "ramp up" on enforcement to occur following pressure from family activist groups. "We've been reluctant to do a lot more on this issue, but it's going to be tougher to ignore," the staffer said.

Sinclair Says Controversial Kerry Film Was Worth Millions
Sinclair Broadcasting claimed Thursday that its controversial special last week about John Kerry's anti-Vietnam War activism paid off in publicity that was "probably worth tens of millions of dollars." In a conference call with analysts, Sinclair chief David D. Smith remarked: "What's the promotional value of being on Good Morning America for five minutes? What's the promotional value of being on every cable news channel literally for a period of six to eight days and being the topic of conversation. What's the effect of being in the print media a multiple number of times?" Before Sinclair backed off on its original plan to air the anti-Kerry documentary Stolen Honor: Wounds that Never Heal, numerous advertisers, responding to protests from Kerry backers, pulled their spots from Sinclair stations. However, overall, Smith said, "We made more revenue during that show than we would across the entire platform normally."

I am sorry to say that you can't provide exact links because they are updated daily, but for the future, click here for Studio Briefing. While I was on IMBD, I did find a link to the Star Wars Episode III trailor, click here. I will see the Episode Three, but I wasn't overly impressed with the first too. But considering the expectations and hype? Anyway...

Veteran Sues After He Receives Duty Order

This article is about Persian Gulf War veteran David Miyasato of Hawaii sueing the Army after recieving order to report 13 years after he had been honorably discharged, including eight years in the reserves.
Miyasato, 34, was scheduled to report to a military facility in South Carolina on Tuesday.

Within hours of filing the lawsuit, however, Miyasato received a faxed letter from the Army's Human Resources Command saying his "exemption from active duty had not been finalized at this time" and that he has been given an administrative delay for up to 30 days, said his attorney, Eric Seitz.

Miyasato, his wife, Estelle, and their 7-month-old daughter, Abigail, live in Lihue, where he opened an auto-tinting shop two years ago.

His lawsuit states that Miyasato is suing not because he opposes the war in Iraq, but because his business and family would suffer "serious and irreparable harm" if he is required to serve.

Miyasato enlisted in the Army in 1987 and served in Iraq and Kuwait during the first Persian Gulf War as a petroleum supply specialist and truck driver.

The article continues
The Army announced last year that it would involuntarily activate an estimated 5,600 soldiers to serve in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Army officials would be tapping members of the Individual Ready Reserve - military members who have been discharged from the Army, Army Reserve or the Army National Guard, but still have contractual obligations to the military.

Miyasato said he never re-enlisted, signed up for any bonuses or was told that he had been transferred to the Individual Ready Reserve or any other Army Reserve unit.

"I fulfilled my contract," Miyasato said. "I just want to move on from this, and I'm optimistic that I'll be successful."

Miyasato speculated that he may have been picked because his skills as a truck driver and refueler are in demand in Iraq. He told reporters he did the same work as that done by a group of Army reservists who refused to deliver fuel along a dangerous route in Iraq last month.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

From the Onion

There is a great Onion piece titled National Museum of the Middle Class Opens in Schaumburg, IL.
SCHAUMBURG, IL—The Museum of the Middle Class, featuring historical and anthropological exhibits addressing the socioeconomic category that once existed between the upper and lower classes, opened to the public Monday.

The splendid and intriguing middle class may be gone, but it will never be forgotten," said Harold Greeley, curator of the exhibit titled "Where The Streets Had Trees' Names." "From their weekend barbecues at homes with backyards to their outdated belief in social mobility, the middle class will forever be remembered as an important part of American history."

Museum guests expressed delight over the traditions and peculiarities of the middle class, a group once so prevalent that entire TV networks were programmed to satisfy its hunger for sitcoms.

"It's fascinating to think that these people once drove the same streets as we do today," said Natasha Ohman, a multi-millionaire whose husband's grandfather invented the trigger-safety lock on handguns. "I enjoyed learning how the middle class lived, what their customs were, and what sorts of diversions and entertainment they enjoyed. Being part of this middle class must have been fascinating!"...

...Unlike members of the lower class, middle-class people earned enough money in five days to take two days off to 'hang out,'" said Benson Watercross, who took a private jet from his home in Aspen to visit the museum. "Their adequate wages provided a level of comfort and stability, and allowed them to enjoy diversions or purchase goods, thereby briefly escaping the mundanity."

Many museum visitors found the worldview of the middle class—with its reliance on education, stable employment, and ample pensions—difficult to comprehend.

Thirty-five Booker T. Washington Junior High School seventh-graders, chosen from among 5,600 students who asked to attend the school's annual field trip, visited the museum Tuesday. Rico Chavez, a 14-year-old from the inner-city Chicago school, said he was skeptical of one exhibit in particular.

"They expect us to believe this is how people lived 10 years ago?" Chavez asked. "That 'Safe, Decent Public Schools' part was total science fiction. No metal detectors, no cops or dogs, and whole classes devoted to art and music? Look, I may have flunked a couple grades, but I'm not that stupid."

Others among the 99 percent of U.S. citizens who make less than $28,000 per year shared Chavez's sense of disbelief.

"Frankly, I think they're selling us a load of baloney," said laid-off textile worker Elsie Johnson, who visited the museum Tuesday with her five asthmatic children. "They expect us to believe the government used to help pay for college? Come on. The funniest exhibit I saw was 'Visiting The Family Doctor.' Imagine being able to choose your own doctor and see him without a four-hour wait in the emergency room. Gimme a friggin' break!"

Some humor for Saturday...

The Future of John Kerry?

One question that has been floating around the blogsphere, the barsphere, and the talking headsphere is what is next for Senator John F. Kerry, winner of 55 million votes (more than Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Gore, or Bush IIs first try had) in the 2004 Presidential Election? The four most popular choices I have heard and read are the following: 1) Windsurf and hang out Teresa until he is rested up. 2) Challenge Harry Reid of Nevada for Senate Minority leader. 3) Be a champion of a new Voting Rights Act and make sure all ballots are counted from the 2004 election. 4) Create a shadow government that constantly responds to Bush Administration incompetence and dangerous right wing policy. One thing seems obvious, Sen. Kerry isn’t retiring like Sen. Dole or going quietly into the night like Vice President Gore or Governor Dukakis.

The first, he deserves, and by all accounts is relaxing in Boston before he heads back to Washington. Second, Sen. Reid probably has the votes tied up, and I read somewhere that Sen. Durban will be minority whip. The third is something that Democrats should do anyway, and doesn’t seem large enough after a grueling national campaign. The fourth is intriguing. I think this suggestion is meant to be based on a British oppositional government model. Some version of this is what I would like to see. Sure, I understand that many never warmed up to Sen. Kerry – but it is the same on the other side of the aisle. If some of my relatives did vote for Mr. Bush, I can tell you that for many it was not enthusiastically. But this is just reality, there is no perfect candidate, either by policy, style, or public personality. This article states:
Instead, they said he would probably take the road less traveled by recent senators who tried and failed to take the White House, and remain a strong voice in Congress on issues he cared about.

"He has a lot to say," Kerry's former chief of staff David Leiter said Friday. "Dukakis faded into the sun. I don't see that in Kerry."

Dukakis agreed. In a Senate that just lost Democratic leader Tom Daschle in a narrow South Dakota race, Kerry "could become a very strong voice for a strong opposition," said Dukakis.

"It was a very impressive performance," Dukakis said of Kerry's campaign. "I think it's important for him to build on what he's done and at the very least to be a major leader in the party and in the Senate."

Most agreed, however, that Kerry was not likely to get another shot at the presidency.

"Nowadays, these election cycles are so excruciating and they last so long, there's a feeling that there's a need for a fresh face," said presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.

History is filled both with senators who came back and those who cleared out.”

So in all likelihood, Senator Kerry is not going to run for President again. However, being only 64 years old in 2008, I assume that he will run for and easily win reelection to the Senate. This is ten more years as a Senator. In that time he can be vocal in pushing for expanding health care, his energy plan as an alternative to the big oil agenda, military affairs, and the Democratic agenda – but in a way that we are presenting a clear alternative to Republican policies, being against it is just not enough. As the minority party, Democrats have to show that they are the party of ideas, the party of progress, the party responsibility. Why Sen. Kerry as opposed to another? Simply, he is not fading away; 55 million votes were cast for him, and outside of President Clinton he is probably the most well known current Democratic politician, unless John Edwards becomes the new head of the Democratic National Committee. Regardless, he is a national figure, and despite the multi-million dollar smear campaign they could not Clintonize him. The biggest draw back that I see with this is being called uncooperative. However, the way I see it – Bush’s “mandate” is slim. Mr. Bush’s reelection was historically weak. Therefore, the opposition needs a strong voice. It needs a voice today. Waiting for the midterm election is too long.

One of the reasons why I started liking Sen. Kerry as a candidate was after watching a fund raiser he held for then New Hampshire Governor Jeanne Shaheen's campaign for the Senate. In Mr. Kerry's speech he said that the most basic difference between the two parties was the notion of fairness. Considering what the Bush Administration will be pushing for, basic fairness and the two Americas and going to be big arguments against these policies.

Errol Morris

This weeks Studio 360 was very good. Errol Morris had some interesting comments about conspiracies and incompetence. The whole show is worth a listen.

More of CSPAN's Coverage of Pollsters Post Election

The whole reason why I have a television is to examine visual culture and media. So I end up watching CSPAN because, well, that is me. Below I wrote about a group of Republican and Democratic pollsters on a panel Thursday at George Washington University. Well, not long after that E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post moderated three between three pollsters, two of which were Republican Tony Frabrizio and Democrat Douglas Schoen. I was not able to watch the entire discussion, but both initially had some interesting things to say, some of which contrasts the opinions expressed below. I'll start with Frabrizio.

According to his initial research, among voters President Bush won the issue of the Global War on Terror while Senator Kerry won on the war in Iraq. He also stated that Mr. Bush hogged the spotlight enough to take economics and healthcare sufficiently out of the equation to have the large impact that was expected. Next he said that the GOP GOTV was real good, and what he found was that their new voters were not young people or a new group, it was an addition to the same type of voters that already exist within the GOP. While many thought that Bush went too far on his use of language in regards to good and evil, these new voters by and large agreed with the President's terminology. What struck me even more, coming from a Republican pollster, is how he said the GOP is theocratic. This has grown since the 1996 election, and he should know because he worked for Senator Dole. Speaking of theocrats, he said that in battle ground states after party affiliation, the next indicator of voting was if the voter was more theocratic or secularist. Frabrizio said that homemakers were theocrats and working women were secularist. Lastly, the most striking change in from four years ago has been the change in the gender gap. Vice President Gore won women voters by 19% while Senator Kerry won by 3%.

Democratic pollster Douglas Schoen started out his presentation by saying the DNC has a very big problem. Schoen traces the origin of this problem to 1964, the voting rights and civil rights acts which started much of the cultural gap. That LBJ was right, and there are serious warning signs in the future. Usually we have been hearing about how difficult it is to defeat a war time president, etc., but he thought that Bush started from a weak head. His approval rating was under 50%, the public is not hot on the war in Iraq, which was a loser issue for him, and then the job loses. Schoen stated that he thought Senator Kerry did a very good job on the stump and in the debates, but the campaign couldn't transform these performances away from anti-Bush. In 2000 Al Gore did not want to deal with "faith based" plans fearing the Democratic base's possible disapproval, and it was too late by the time they came around to this. He did not say this, but perhaps this was the reason for Mr. Kerry to talk about his Catholicism to the length that he did in the last debate. Next Schoen said that the Democratic Party has to establish itself as the party of fiscal conservatism/responsibility while showing that the government can play a role health care, education, etc. Back to the cultural issue of religion, he mentioned that many of the voters who voted for the bans on gay marriage also were in favor of raising the minimum wage. What I took from this is that secular Democrats and liberals need to understand the evangelical and religious groups positions, especially seeing their willingness to support economic issues and making the right moral arguments for health care, fair wages, etc. need to be made. At this point I had to leave. Hopefully I will be able to catch the replay so I can see the end.

Last week on WNYC's Brian Lehrer show (or at least I think it was that show) a caller mentioned that for many religious and evangelicals, there is a broader community that helps out with child care, provides meals, etc., things that the government has done less of for a few decades.

In any case, I thought I would pass this on too.

Update: I am watching the end of this panel. It is very interesting. To continue, and I didn't see the whole thing as my roommates girlfriend is in town and the prospect of wine was too great.

Frabrazio Cont. Mr. Frabrazio continued to say that political strategy is about what you can win, not wah you do to blow your brains out the back of your head. On Senator Kerry's Iraq vote she responded to Schoen's comments that it didn't matter because like it or not Mr. Kerry became the anti-war candidate. The Bush campaign worked on his Iraq vote by boxing him in. Mr. Kerry would have only gotten out of it by proving that he was heartless and had bloodlust (think "We will kill all terrorists"). Later, about the GOP coalition, he continues that the GOP found a kind of sweet spot, but problems will arise. First, Mr. Bush didn't lose many gay republicans. Second, the theocrats vs. secularists will arise as the former has more power. The Giuliani-Pitaki-McCain-Governator axis will have a very hard time ever getting a nomination. Later on he states that without 9/11, there is no coalition. This allowed domestic issues to be put on the backburner - caused the various groups not to destroy each other internally. As for Mr. Bush and the conservatives, he could say that he had no litmus test for judges because Pat Robertson and Gary Bauer know that he does. In response to what the Dems need to do, he sates that they need to talk to Senator Bayh and Governor Easley - it sounded as if not necessarily specifically on issues, but on style. Democrats have to build new coalitions. Follow the successful models.

Mr. Schoen described Mr. Kerry's position on Iraq as bad because he had to navigate around Dean's anti-war, around getting rid of a dictator, and allowing the president to bring a big stick to the negotiating table. Mr. Schoen is of the opinion that people don't think in terms of class across the board. As for the Bush Campaign, he thinks that they have no intention of reaching out despite that fact that if the GOP could seize the center while holding the coalition they will be able to hold a permanent majority. If they fail at this, no majority. And as the Republican pollster above stated, Mark Warner has a successful formula and it should be learned from.

E.J. Dionne, who somewhat reminds me of one of my undergraduate professors chimed in with a few things. First, John Kerry was the only on to actually kill communists. On the Iraq vote he thought it was an intentional political trap that Senator Salazar best answered by saying that he would have voted for it, but now that we know the truth about WMD there never would be a vote. One difference in the campaigns that he pointed out was how Mr. Rove ran this campaign for evengelicals, but underground by direct mail and so forth. Democrats courted the left more publically.

Lastly, Melinda Henneberger chimed in by saying that Sen. Kerry was too complicated, but was in fact consistent. Mr. Kerry believes that you need a big stick while negotiating - but couldn't say it that simply. She was of the opinion that environmental issues were a huge under reported, not paid attention to moral issue for many.

That is all for tonight.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Pollsters on CSPAN

I was listening to panel of pollsters at George Washington University, covered by CSPAN. They discussed the Religion vote and other things. Look at these numbers:

Catholic: 26% of voting population, 50%-50%, tied.

Protestant: 53% of voting population, 53%-46% for Bush.

Jewish: 3% of voting population, 78%-22% for Kerry.

One of the Democratic pollsters joked that John and Jack Kennedy are rolling in their graves. But what I would like to know is how many of the Protestant voters consider themselves evangelical - and their break down.

The same Democratic pollster that joked about President Kennedy is of the opinion that the GOP put together an outstanding coalition. However, it is not a permanent (just like 1964 despair of the GOP and 1980 despair of the DNC) coalition. It is her opinion that it is an inherently unstable and was benefited by the war. Also, the President's close out strategy to pick up undecided women voters late, worked. Much of which was based on the war. As for the South, it was the opinion that it will hold - but its a different South than many think. North Carolina for example, reelected a Governor that looked vulnerable not long ago. In the state races Democrats did well. So Southern (way too broad!) voters are willing to split their tickets. Lastly, one of the pollsters had the feeling that in 2006, and what should have been better this cycle, was a stronger critique of President Bush's homeland security. That over all it is not about liberal or center-left, it is articulation, not soundbite based.

Just thought I would share this.