Sunday, December 31, 2006

More on Edwards' swing

Here are a couple of articles from the rest of Edwards' announcement tour. Here is the scene in Nevada: ["Edwards courts Nevadans with Reno stop"]. And here is the coverage in Iowa: ["Edwards enters presidential race"].

Here is a good piece about Hillary's fall in the polls:
["Hillary falls to earth in poll race"]. Interesting that she is worried about Obama and she hasn't even gotten into the race. You're supposed to get into the race first, then worry about your opponents.

Over on the GOP side, he is a piece about a local guy getting into the ring for John McCain again: ["Dennehy on the job for McCain"]. I think McCain is going to have more problems this time around than he did last time. A lot of Republicans here are against the war, never mind a continuation of the war, and there hasn't been a lot of "straight talk" from McCain in the last six years.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Edwards announces; blazes a trail

Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards announced his campaign for the presidency this week from New Orleans and is in the midst of a "world-wind" tour of the early primary and caucus states. 
There are a ton of stories out there and a lot of blogging going on about the announcements. Edwards' first DailyKos entry made the recommended list, with almost 1,000 entries on it, in just one day. C-SPAN has video here: ["John Edwards Presidential Announcement"]. Ah, technology.
Here are a few local pieces about the announcements. 

This one is from Portsmouth, where Edwards talked to a SRO crowd: ["Overflow Crowd Greets Edwards' Tour"]. I have a problem with Ramer's line here:

Besides, Edwards, only Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack and Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich have formally announced they were seeking the Democratic nomination. Other potential candidates include New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, ret. Gen. Wesley Clark, and Sens. Joe Biden of Delaware, Chris Dodd of Connecticut, and John Kerry of Massachusetts, the 2004 nominee. Former Vice President Al Gore has said he has no plans to enter the race, but he has been careful not to completely rule out a bid.

This isn't altogether accurate because the first one to announce he was running for president during the summer was former Alaskan Sen. Mike Gravel. While this could just be a simple slight on Ramer's part, she is a pretty good AP reporter, Gravel has as much legitimacy as Rep. Kucinich to be on the list. The guy did more in his career in the Senate than Kucinich has ever done in the House. Gravel also has a more thorough platform than Kucinich for 2008. I mean, it's bold for a Dem to propose eliminating the income tax with a national sales tax!
This is kinda how the section should have looked: ["Edwards Enters Race for Democratic Presidential Nomination"].

Update: It was a simple slight on Ramer's part but I should try not to be so damn critical about every little thing. Over at Kos, they are having an eruption over the press on Edwards' crowd sizes: ["Edwards 08: Crowd Size and the Press"].

Sarah Liebowitz used to be the city reporter for the Concord Monitor but was recently brought on to share the political beat with Eric Moskowitz at the paper. She has a pretty good piece today about some of the stuff Edwards has been doing behind the scenes to shore up support: ["Nevada unions key for Edwards"]. Sure beats covering the Concord City Council, hey Sarah? :-)


ARG releases four state poll: ["Presidential Preference"]. Not too many surprises here. Kucinich beats Kerry in Iowa and Clark in New Hampshire and it is looking like a four-way over on the Republican side. Way too early to tell anything here but it is interesting to look at.

A Draft Obama group moves forward with ad buy: ["DraftObama ad set for DM market"].

Some other quick headlines
Congrats to Gary LaPierre on 40-plus years in Boston radio news: ["Gary LaPierre gives final broadcast on WBZ"].
French government to release UFO data: ["French space agency to publish UFO archive online"].
Spitzer gets another settlement: ["Entercom Payola Suit Settled"].
The late President Ford critical of Iraq war: ["Ford Speaks From The Grave, Criticizes Bush On Iraq"].
Must be nice: ["Pay Packages Allow Executives to Jump Ship With Less Risk"].
Saddam's gone: ["Iraqi TV Says Saddam Hussein Executed"].

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Latest 2008 headlines
Here are the latest headlines from the 2008 race along with some other things

First, thanks to the Americans for Richardson group for linking one of Politizine's recent links. There has been a bit of extra traffic coming this way due to the link - and some others - and it is appreciated.

The AP had a pretty good piece this week about our local high school here in Concord which is becoming a campaign stop for most presidential candidates: ["Campaign trail stops at this NH high school"]. I'm bummed that we, CHS 1983, didn't think about this for the 1984 cycle. I would later meet a slew of candidates that year - including Sen. Fritz Hollings, Sen. Alan Cranston, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and Gary Hart's daughter - at various places, including Kearsarge Regional High School and while waiting tables at the old Highway Hotel in Concord right out of high school. Cranston tipped me a quarter for a breakfast; Jackson's group stiffed me on a coffee party. I ended up voting for Hollings in the primary, my fist vote. I thought it might be cool to have Foghorn Leghorn in the White House and I believed in the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act, the nuclear freeze, mutual arms reductions, and fair trade. Ahhhh, the memories.

Over at the New Hampshire Union Leader, Granite Status had this preview piece: ["
A year of drama ahead in '07"]. Hee, hee, hee, wringing our hands with glee ... can hardly wait for the new year. Heh, heh, heh.

Just when you thought we were done with 9-11, at least as when it comes to the catastrophic event being used for political purposes, we hear this: ["Rudy's Angels of 9/11"]. Illogic - and Anne Coulter - would say that since the widows themselves have been using 9-11 for their benefit, why shouldn't Rudy? Well, I guess. But you know, we should have some amount of decency when it comes to these things. Is anyone using the Cole attack for political benefit? The Murrah Building? Alright, we'll have to wait and see what Frank Keating starts saying on the stump if he does actually run for president. But come on. Let's leave this stuff alone. Then again, there is mention in the piece that Rudy might be worried about some Swiftboat-like attacks from anti-Giuliani folks. I guess in that case, it is fair game to line up some folks who like you.

Oh no, not this: ["
Clinton Hires Evangelical Consultant for Presidential Campaign"]. What is it about the Clintons and focus groups? Don't they know deep down what they stand for? A candidate shouldn't have to hire an evangelical consultant to figure out how to share their views on religion with the American people, the same way they shouldn't need a peace or war consultant on issues of peace and war, and other issues. You either know what you stand for or you don't. And if you don't, then you shouldn't be running for the highest office in the land. It really is that simple.

Another fluff story about campaigns and the Internet: ["
White House hopefuls develop campaign skills for the Internet"]. This is like a standing head. Yawn.

Sen. Chris Dodd tries to reshape his image, message, and voting record: ["
Anti-War Step By Dodd"]. More revisionist history. I'm just waiting for the reporters of New Hampshire and Boston to start asking Sen. Dodd about Ted Kennedy, drinking, and the waitress sandwich ...

Sen. Obama's ground troops: Are they ready to invade Iowa?: ["
Obama eyes Iowa in putting '08 HQ here "]. As we all know, field is everything in a campaign. But be careful. Sometimes, invading forces going into states can feel like invading forces. And the home folks, no matter which state, don't like to be told what to do, don't like to be talked down to, and don't like it when outsider campaigns assume that they know more than the hometown team. Obama should consider himself warned.

A pretty good article here about Michigan and its more prominent role in the Republican process in 1008: ["
'08 hopefuls hot for Mich."]. The great thing about the New Hampshire experience is that most of the time, the voters get to take a good look at these folks and make solid decisions on who should be the nominee. Sometimes, our voters make stupid decisions after getting a good look at these guys, like voting for John Kerry in 2004, Al Gore in 2000, and giving Bill Clinton second place in 1992. Other times, they make wise decisions, like John McCain in 2000, Pat Buchanan in 1996, and Gary Hart in 1984. As I have said previously, the best thing for the political committees to do is spread the New Hampshire experience to other states - not take our experience from us. And hopefully in Michigan, over the next year, they will have the chance to get the retail political experience that we have here.

The beating of Willard continues: ["
Romney left Mass. on 212 days in '06"]. He doesn't care though. He is on the way out and he won't win Massachusetts even if he manages to become the nominee. Most people don't know that Mitt Romney's real name is "Willard Mitt Romney." They should. For awhile there, he was calling himself "W. Mitt Romney," but later dropped the W. entirely. I've taken to calling him "Guy Smiley," named after the Sesame Street game show host character who isn't on much any more [I know, I have a toddler]. Kat Powers, the editor of the Somerville Journal, had taken to calling the governor Willard not unlike folks call Bush W. Maybe we should all begin to call Mitt by his real name, Willard.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Massachusetts to lose a Congressional seat?

According to a recent study, population shifts and Hurricane Katrina, could change Congressional districts around the country: ["PDF"].
New Hampshire would need another 376,000 people moving into the state in order to gain a third Congressional seat and that isn't going to happen any time soon, never mind by 2010. But also included in the study is the potential loss of one seat in Massachusetts. This is very interesting and could create a total free for all in that state before 2010.
While it is only a few years away, I don't see any of the current representatives giving up their seats any time soon. They are essentially representatives for life. Throw in the fact that the Democrats will soon be in control of the Congress and it's a given that none of them will want to leave - never mind be shoved out. This means that if the data is true, there will have to be a primary between two of the existing incumbents sometime around 2012.
I don't have any of the specific data readily available at the moment as far as precinct by precinct populations. This is needed in order to really get creative. But let's do a little speculating here just for the fun of it.

Redistricting
There is a good chance the entire state would have to be redistricted. This would be a good thing for everyone involved. Let's start with the western part of the state and work our way east.
I don't suspect that the 1st District, currently represented by John Olver, will get any bigger than it is. In area, it is practically 40 percent of the state. It is too big for one person to represent, IMHO. Granted, redistricting Congressional districts has nothing to do with area. It is all about population. But the way the map looks now, the guy has too much turf.
There could be changes though to the 1st and 2nd District, represented by Richard Neal, which could create smaller area districts in the most western part of the state, one on top of the other, almost like pancakes. In this kind of scheme, the 1st would push forward into the 5th District's territory - currently represented by Marty Meehan - with the 2nd pushing into the 3rd District - currently represented by Jim McGovern. A new 3rd could be created from the western part of that district - essentially Worcester - and some parts east - running into the 5th and 7th, which is currently represented by Ed Markey.
The second part which could be accomplished is a revamping of the middle districts of the state. The middle state districts - especially the 4th, which is currently represented by Barney Frank - are gerrymandered jokes. The 4th squiggles around like a dancing snake from a basket. It is bizarre to say the least. The 3rd, 9th and 10th also have little consistency to them. The 3rd runs from Swansea, up the side of Rhode Island, to Worcester, in almost a quill pen shape. The 4th runs from Buzzards Bay all the way up to Newton and Brookline, almost like a deformed claw. The bulk of the 9th, currently represented by Stephen Lynch, isn't so bad especially in the middle cluster. It just goes all the way up through Southie and into the North End! The 10th also isn't too bad when you consider that it includes all of the Cape and most of the seashore south of Boston. But it is odd shaped running from Quincy on down. Bill Delahunt represents the area and "lives" in Quincy. Hence the odd shape.
The creation of these districts were based on two factors - one relevant; one not: The standard districting population numbers and where the incumbent representative lived in 2002. But where a current elected official lives should have nothing to do with the process of redistricting. This was something I brought up countless times while living in the state and watching politics there. But alas, it is Massachusetts, which means that Democratic incumbents are protected at all costs. There were some citizens groups looking at the redistricting process but I think that was more about protecting incumbents and keeping an eye on then-Speaker of the House Tom Finneran, who was later indicted for perjury over the redistricting issue [Does anyone recall whatever became of his case?].

Splitting up the 8th or 9th?
The 8th District, currently served by Michael Capuano, is the alleged minority-majority district even though a minority has little chance of winning the seat. No matter what they do to "set aside" districts, minorities have had difficulty winning primaries in Massachusetts. Deval Patrick is the one exception; Andrea Cabral, who was challenged by Stephen Murphy for the Suffolk County Sheriff's seat, is another. But in an eight or 10-way race for Congress, both Cabral and Patrick would lose, especially when competing against ethic whites, super-progressives, and millionaires, in Congressional races.
No one seems to be pushing Mike out any time soon either, that we know of. So why bother worrying about the set aside district? Well, it makes the redistricters feel good about trying to do something for minorities when in fact, it isn't anything at all. Which seems silly if you really think about it.
However, in the wake of losing a Congressional seat, there could be a move on to eliminate the 8th or the 9th District seats. The logic would be to push one of the two newest members of Congress out: Capuano was elected in 1998; Lynch in 2001 after the passing of Joe Moakley. The others could say, "Hey Mike and Stevie, fuggetaboutit ... one of youse is outta here."
Possible scenarios for this could be shifting Somerville into the 7th and splitting up the 8th evenly between the 9th and 4th, with other districts shifting west; or moving the 9th's Boston neighborhoods into the 8th and split up the 9th amongst the 4th and 10th, with the other districts, again, moving west. The former would be a way of pushing Capuano out with the latter, pushing Lynch out. The shift of Somerville into the 7th was floated quietly back in 2002 but never made any headway.
Let's take the Somerville move first.
Capuano would have two choices: Face off against Markey in the new 7th or sell his nice house on the hill and buy a condo somewhere in the rest of the 8th. This would mean facing off against the other person for the 8th, more than likely, either Lynch or Frank, depending on where the redistricting went or where Capuano bought the new house.
Facing off against Markey would be Capuano's best option because he could beat Markey in a bloody primary [It would be great to see how the media covered such a race and it would be a fun race to cover]. Here is why I think Capuano would beat Markey. First, Capuano is a rough-and-tumble pol compared to Markey being kind of an empty suit. Second, the 7th is more Italian than ever. It was more Irish when Markey was elected in the 1970s. Not any more. Third, the area is more college-oriented, young people oriented, and yuppie-oriented than before. Which do you think is more in touch with these constituents? Fourth, Markey is clueless on a slew of issues. He is a paper tiger at best, having voted for the stupid invasion of Iraq, terrible trade bills, and the 1996 Telecom Bill which consolidated TV and radio stations into a handful of corporations. Capuano has been a solid progressive since being elected. Capuano would get the more liberal votes in the district. Advantage: Capuano.
Let's take a look at the other option.
Shifting Boston's other neighborhoods into the 8th would essentially put Lynch out of work. It would be an interesting race but Capuano would probably prevail. While Lynch would take Southie and Dorchester easily, Capuano would hang onto Somerville and Eastie. The fight would then go down to Boston and Cambridge, with Capuano beating out the pro-life Lynch in those areas easily. Chelsea would probably be a toss up. Advantage: Capuano.
The 8th could also be totally split apart, gobbled up by bordering the 4th, 7th, and 9th.
That has happened in the past when Massachusetts has lost seats. While it is considered "The historic 8th District" - even the Chicago Tribune had an article on the great 1998 race - it has changed since the days when JFK and Tip O'Neill represented it.
Splitting apart the 8th, however, would create a whole slew of other problems, specifically, the metropolitan area being represented by three separate representatives instead of two. That could be a net positive though - especially the creation of more realistic districts in the southern part of the state which is seeing the most growth. The urban compact would also get more clout with three representatives thinking about it instead of two.
However, having Capuano face off against Lynch or Frank, in hypothetical primaries with a split up 8th, would almost be doom for him. Lynch has Southie locked up and I don't know if Capuano could compete for votes in places like Brockton, Norwood, and Milton. He would say he could, but I doubt it. Frank, a "minority," he's openly gay, would easily out liberal Capuano and beat him in the more progressive areas of the 8th, like Cambridge. Frank is also solid in places like Brookline and Newton.
Since the state Legislature decides how things are redistricted, neither Capuano nor Lynch, or frankly, any other incumbent Congressman, has any control over how the process goes. Lynch, a former state Senator, would probably have more influence over the Legislature than Capuano. There are also a lot of conservative Irish pols still on Beacon Hill who would probably back Lynch. But there are also very liberal members of the Legislature who probably wouldn't be too keen on eliminating a staunchly pro-choice and progressive Congressman [Capuano] over a very conservative, pro-life Congressman [Lynch] who also voted for the invasion of Iraq and other Bush policies. Advantage: Lynch, although very slim.

Other dynamics
Throw in these dynamics too: The gubernatorial seat could be open again in 2010, assuming Deval Patrick only serves one term or is elevated to the Senate in some way; Sen. Edward Kennedy's seat will more than likely be up in 2012, although Teddy has given no indication that he plans on retiring any time soon; and Another presidential election will be occurring in 2012 and there is always the dynamic of that, although I don't see any of the current Congressional membership - or Sen. John Kerry, for that matter - being presidential timber by that time.
The larger point to all this speculating is the fact that potentially losing this one Congressional seat creates an interesting dynamic in the state. What would happen if some truly independent people were allowed to sit down with all the numbers and were given the chance to map the state in a way which is best for the state and the voters? What would happen if these people were allowed to look at the data without any preconceived agendas, biases, or any regard to where incumbents lived? The state might actually get some real representation and a fairer democracy.
You can do your own speculating by looking at the Secretary of State's map here: ["Massachusetts Congressional Districts"], looking up some population numbers, noodling around a bit. It will be a fun experiment over the next few years, to say the least.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Concord Monitor releases primary poll
This morning's Monitor has an extensive 2008 poll conducted by Research 2000 during the same time period pollsters completed a poll in Iowa. The online edition of the Monitor doesn't have the poll but the newspaper version does. Here is the article: ["Obama strong in new poll"]. Clearly the poll is biased because Sen. Obama was in the state just before the polling and got a slew of media coverage. But who knows. Here are some of the details:

DEMS:
Hillary Clinton: 22%
Barack Obama: 21%
John Edwards: 16%
Al Gore: 10%
John Kerry: 7%
Wesley Clark: 4%
Dennis Kucinich: 4%
Joe Biden: 2%
Tom Vilsack: 2%
Evan Bayh: 2%
Bill Richardson: 2%
Undecided: 2%

GOP:
Rudy Guiliani: 26%
John McCain: 25%
Mitt Romney: 10%
Newt Gingrich: 8%
Condi Rice: 6%
George Pataki: 3%
Jeb Bush: 1%
George Allen: 1%
Sam Brownback: 1%
Rick Santorum: 1%
Duncan Hunter: 0%
Undecided: 18%

Some thoughts: Where do the Gore voters go if he doesn't run? Kerry should just give it up. It's hilarious to see Clark, the war criminal, tied with Kucinich, the peace candidate. Kucinich got 1.3 percent in 2004's primary so he is already three times ahead of the game. It is also interesting to see voters naming a slew of candidates who are not running, like Bayh, Allen, Bush, and Santorum. Allen lost a squeaker but any presidential aspirations he had are over. Santorum got totally clocked ... by 18 points. Anyone thinking he is going to run, or has any chance of winning, is delusional. Lastly, Vilsack, Bayh, and Gingrich didn't seem to get any boost from recent visits to the state. Granted, it's early.

Global warming?
It's friggin' Christmas and it is 47 degrees outside! Where is the cold weather? Where is the frost? Where is the snow? I got my son a two-man rubber toboggan for Christmas ... but there's no snow to use it! Ugh.

Link dump
Here is a bunch of stuff I've been meaning to share.

Ralph Nader continues to make sense: ['This is about corporate-managed trade']. Lori Wallach is one of my heroes. I also haven't bought Sen. Byron Dorgan's book yet but I plan to when it comes out in paperback.

If the end of oil is coming soon, this is something we should all look at: ["DIY Fuel"].

Very interesting: ["Pyramids were built with concrete rather than rocks, scientists claim"]. So, I guess they won't be digging around the Sahara looking for those space machines from Exodus any time soon ...


Last night, I stumbled across the "Dark Skies" pilot listed in On Demand and watched it. I had forgotten how good the show was. And, it makes sites like this one, even more interesting: ["Alien Payback"]. I saw this linked at DailyKos of all places. I don't fault the guy for trying to get his story out there. But I find it strange that you can get booted from DailyKos for supporting Ralph Nader or for challenging anything but the official story about 9-11, but he then accepts ads from people who claimed to have been abducted by aliens and injected with stuff. Ohhhh-kaaayhh.

Speaking of 9-11, this site has a whole slew of stuff which is really worth a second look: ["Killtown"]. This site, along with this one: ["9-11 Truth"] this one: ["Share the truth"] and this one: ["Scholars for 9/11 truth"], are worth second looks. I would also advise people to watch the "Loose Change" documentary ... with an open mind. I don't know if 9-11 was an "inside job" or whether or not government officials had prior knowledge. But, I don't believe that a 757 was flown into the Pentagon and no one has yet explained why WTC 7 was "pulled." I wish the FBI would release all the security tapes they confiscated from the Sheraton and 7-11 right near the Pentagon. Which actually find out that it was a cruise missile and not an airliner which crashed into the Pentagon.

Aaron Russo, a former Libertarian Presidential candidate, has been working on this new documentary, which is now out on DVD: ["America: Freedom to Fascism"]. I'm looking forward to checking it out.

This guy created MySpace ... and he has a lot of complaining to do: ["Free MySpace"].

Joy Division doesn't like upcoming documentary: ["Joy Division doesn't like 'Control'"].

And then, there is this: ["Forespray"].

WSJ
I really enjoy reading the Wall Street Journal. Despite some delivery problems - it took six weeks to get the sub started and since that time, I haven't received a full week. I usually only get four issues a week and I don't think I'm the only person in Concord, N.H. getting the thing. But I really like reading it. There are changes coming and most of them look pretty good:

Dear Subscriber:

We live in an era of change, and the way we get our news has also changed.

So, starting January 2, 2007 you will see a more relevant Journal designed to better meet your needs. There will be increased focus on interpretation, insight and ideas …more of what the news means and not just what happened.

And your Journal will look different too. It will come to you in a slimmer, easier to handle size, with a more legible typeface. There will be better section labeling and more daily summaries to help you find what you need more quickly.

Some other great new features include …

  • “Today’s Agenda” designed to alert you to the meaning of news expected later in the day.
  • “In Brief” summaries which will mirror the popular “What’s News” on key industries and topics inside the paper.
  • Value-added Statistics that graphically communicate market information and global market trends each day.
  • NEW Markets Data Center at WSJ.com available free to all subscribers. This site will provide full stock listings and easy ways to put data into context. Innovative features include stock and index charting, access to market-moving headlines and email delivery of key market information.

Please visit now at wsj.com/mdctour to find out for yourself how easy Markets Data Center is to use.

We hope you like what you will see on January 2. Be assured that what has not changed is the high quality content and credibility you have come to expect from The Journal. As always we welcome your reactions, comments and thoughts. You can contact us at newlookfeedback@wsj.com.

Sincerely,
The Wall Street Journal

Happy Christmas and Happy Holidays. I'm on vaca this week so blogging will be limited ... unless the world explodes or something. Have a good one.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

More 2008 news
Here is the latest stuff

Nah, nah, I said it first: ["Bayh looks solid as running-mate material"]. As we all know, Sen. John Kerry lost in 2004 on his own. Winning Indiana, with 11 Electoral College votes, wouldn't have helped him. But it might help the next person who runs, especially if that person is chastised by the media and talk radio as being too liberal. Personally, I haven't seen a serious presidential candidate, beyond Ralph Nader, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, and the Rev. Al Sharpton, who was really that liberal.

Romney drags out his announcement: ["Romney poised for 2-step presidential announcement"]. The more media, the better, especially when it shows off that perfect Guy Smiley hair and genetic code.

Ugh, all the more reason Hillary shouldn't run: ["If Hillary runs, Bill could make or break her campaign"]. This is so true. And because the former president is so damn self-obsessed, he will probably be more worried about fixing his legacy than actually helping her win. Although, Hillary doesn't seem like someone who is going to take too much sh*t from Bubba. The question will be, Who is going to regulate the former president's entourage to make sure there are no more Lewinsky-type problems.

Sung to the Sex Pistols "Anarchy in the U.K.": ["'I have no future, says Jeb Bush"]. This should, thankfully, put to bed the whole Clinton vs. Bush stuff. Now if we could just put the Condi vs. Hillary stuff to bed too ...

John Edwards will announce in New Orleans, then make stops in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina, according to a liaison to the campaign. Wonkette has this about his recent Christmas email ... showing off the gams of his oldest daughter: ["Edwards wishes you a leggy Christmas"]. Here is the picture, since I'm on his email list too:




Polls
Research 2000 poll for KCCI-TV in Des Moines [Dec. 18 to Dec. 20]:

Democrats
John Edwards 22%
Barak Obama 22%
Tom Vilsack 12%
Hillary Clinton 10%
John Kerry 5%
Wesley Clark 4%
Dennis Kucinich 4%
Joe Biden 1%
Evan Bayh 1%
Bill Richardson 1%

Republicans
John McCain 27%
Rudy Giuliani 26%
Mitt Romney 9%
Newt Gingrich 7%
Condoleeza Rice 4%
George Pataki 1%
Jeb Bush 1%
George Allen 1%
Sam Brownback 1%
Rick Santorum 1%
Duncan Hunter 0%

The Hedgehog Report has more polls here, including side by side match ups from this poll: ["2008 Polls"].

Friday, December 22, 2006

2008 Roundup
Here is the latest roundup of 2008 presidential race articles:

The national media is finally starting to look into Gov. Mitt Romney's swift shift on social issues and here is the latest analysis: ["Mass. Governor's Rightward Shift Raises Questions"]. Romney was in the Granite State today campaigning, including a stop by the radio station I work at. Here is the key passage of the article:

The apparent gulf between the candidate who ran for the Senate in 1994 and the one getting ready to run for president has raised questions as to who is the real Mitt Romney.

Well, that's true. But reporters, don't miss the 2002 gubernatorial campaign in which Romney essentially reiterated many of the same things to win the corner office. He won that race by 5 percent and the only thing that saved him was his liberal positions on social issues. Also, don't forget his four years as governor. Any observer could make the case that human beings - even politicians - can change their political positions over a period of 12 years [figuring 1994 to 2006]. But one or two years? Eh, no, that smacks of opportunism not enlightenment. And those of us who have been following Romney aren't really surprised by this. More, much more, to come later.


Rep. Hunter pulls a Buchanan: ["TV spots say China is stealing U.S. jobs"]. This is a total surprise but it shouldn't be. Airing these ads so early in the process is a smart move by Hunter, who is a total long shot in the 2008 presidential race. The trade issue should be a bigger one than it probably will be. However, there are votes there and Hunter has a good rep on the issue.

This guy nails Pataki about debt service and taxes: ["Pataki lacks presidential timbre"]. A guy I know who recently moved from New York called Pataki delusional for thinking he could become president. But who knows.

And, the all important people skills: ["Making sure you have the right people gear"].

Thursday, December 21, 2006

2008 Roundup
Here are the latest 2008 stories from around the country, including a few long shots:

A $1B race?: ["2008 Presidential Race May Cost $1 Billion"]. Yikes. This is enough to make anyone sick to death about the influence of money on our political process. All the free television and radio interviews in the country aren't going to make up the difference. There has to be another way of doing this without shutting off anyone's free speech while at the same time, giving all the candidates the opportunity to compete no matter how much money they can raise.

Nevada tries to get serious: ["Nevada Democratic Party Hires 2008 Caucus Team"]. Good for them. We in the Granite State should applaud them for taking their process so seriously. However, they should prepare to be third in the process, not second. :-)

Being the anti-moderate and anti-McCain, Brownback stumps in Iowa: ["Kansas Senator setting up 2008 presidential campaign"]. I interviewed Brownback in 2005 before a New Hampshire visit where he talked extensively about the raging war in Iraq and stem cell research, which was a big issue at the time. Brownback is playing to the conservatives and Christians in the Republican Party. But unlike Ark. Gov. Mike Huckabee, who seems to be focusing on the words of Jesus, Brownback and others seemed to be distracted with the Old Testament, which isn't really the gospel of Christ.

On the flip of that, we have Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who actually seems to be promoting the gospel of Christ: ["Kucinich for President?"]. Kucinich doesn't have a chance to win the nomination but like 2004, he represents different ideals which most of the "top level" candidates won't come near. A Department of Peace? That should be a no-brainer to most. And who can forget that freaky California couple in the dayglow clothes doing advance work for him at events. Hilarious. For new readers who may have missed it, here is what I said about Kucinich in 2003: ["Kucinich candidacy extremely intriguing"]. I still believe that he would have been in a better position to win the nomination had he stayed pro life in 2004 and galvanized those votes, along with the peace votes.

Back over to the GOP, there is this: ["Former Virginia Governor Gilmore 'Intends' To Run in '08"]. With the way things are shaping up, a candidate really only needs 15 or 20 percent in a bunch of primaries to close in on the nod. At this point, why not run?

And then, there is this: ["Global orgasm for peace"]

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Early morning riser
I've been an early morning riser of late and it's actually become a pretty strange process which I'm not very comfortable with. I am getting a bit more used to it but it is odd. For most of my life, I've been a member of the Late Risers Club, meaning that I liked to sleep late [LRC is also the name of a spotty radio program on MIT's WMBR. I say spotty because there are five different DJs hosting the two hour program weekdays and some of those DJs pick good stuff to play and some don't].
I think it all started back in September when I went to Dallas for the radio convention and had to be up around 3:30 a.m. to catch an early morning flight. My sked has been out of whack since that time, including trying to work out each morning and a couple of days in late November when I had to anchor the morning news.
But what's most interesting about getting up early is how much stuff I can actually get done - compared to getting up later - and the increased amount of rest I get on the back end of the day. Instead of going to bed at 1 a.m. or Midnight, I'm asleep earlier. And the sleep seems to be thicker and more complete than previous evenings which is hard to explain.
Watching the sun come up today was just amazing. The complete blackness of the morning turning to from dark blue to lighter shades of blue. The color was striking. While I've seen the sun come up in different places around the United States, the process still amazes me.

Electricity
Here is an interesting column about trying to find power drains in your home: ["A hunt for Energy Hogs"]. Those of who live in New England have seen huge spikes in electricity prices. A monthly bill which once costs $60 or $70 now costs $125. It's ridiculous and makes no sense. But the hunt for energy hogs does make sense. Jason Fry, the author, comes to some conclusions that most folks wouldn't necessarily reach, especially when assuming that the fridge is bleeding you dry. Dryers and ACs are definitely some of the worst appliances. This year, we lived without one AC - going from two efficient and one not really efficient model to the two efficient models - and really didn't notice a drop in the kwhs. I still think we all have to figure out a way to have on-site electric production via solar or wind modules. I just wish either the market or government would figure out a way to reduce the costs of the initial capital expenditure of the modules.

Trade and the Dems
While staying with the WSJ for a minute, check out this piece about the infighting while the Democratic Party about trade, jobs, and the economy: ["Trade, Fiscal Goals Split Ranks"]. To be sure, it should be splitting the ranks, with the sane Dems leaving the Robert Rubin and the free trade "legacy" on the side of the road. The country is hemorrhaging low skill, decent wage jobs and no one wants to admit it. Things are not fine and voters are starting to smarten up a bit.

2008 press

Here is some of the latest 2008 news:

The big "D" word gets floated in of all places, the Washington Times: ["Diversity marks '08 race as it intensifies"]. I think it will be interesting how voters react to a woman and a black man being the front runners in a Democratic primary race which is a year away. Sure, the goo-goo liberals are going to go nuts for this but what about the rest of us folks out here?

McCain continues to cozy up to W's friends: ["McCain taps Bush donor network"]. The "straight talk" express man is solidly becoming the go along to get along express man. I don't see him impressing Granite State indies who helped him win in 2000 with these kinds of actions, especially with "Guy Smiley" Mitt leaning over from Massachusetts [by way of the mansion in Wolfeboro, St. Lake City, or wherever else he considers "home"]. I could be wrong but I doubt it. Speaking of Mitt, I was talking with an acquaintance of mine about how, if elected, Mitt might get up to the summer home which would probably be nick-named, Camp David 2. Would he fly into Manch? Pease? Imagine the disruption to the Granite State way of life just to get him to and fro Wolfeboro.

WSJ John Fund, who has also written a book about vote fraud, has this piece on why Obama might not run after all: ["Not So Fast"]. Then, there is also this funky land deal thing: ["Obama Says He Regrets Land Deal With Fundraiser"]. Hypothetical Obama random thought: 'I shouldn't have really done that land deal because I didn't know my book would be a big seller and I could actually be president because there is such a vacuum within the Democratic Party ... I should have learned from the Clinton's Whitewater mess but didn't ...'

Edwards leans in: ["Officials: John Edwards to announce '08 run"]. I still continue to be intrigued by Edwards and his potential campaign. He continues to talk about poverty - an important issue - but one which almost every consultant will tell you is a born loser. Few voters in this country want to be lectured about poverty and yet he still keeps bringing it up. That tells you a lot about a pol when they do that.

Gingrich will wait until Labor Day: ["Gingrich plans to wait and see"]. This doesn't seem like a good strategy on Gingrich's part, playing coy and all. But if he keeps promoting limits to free speech and other such nonsense, he won't go anywhere no matter when he decides to announce.
What is frightening about Gingrich is that on a number of occasions, especially on C-SPAN, I've sat and listened to the guy and I'm amazed at how impressed I am with him. I compare the feeling to experiences some of my friends have shared with me about reading "Dianetics" ... it starts making so much sense to them that they had to put it down fast before they got sucked into the Scientology stuff. That is kinda how I feel. I start shaking my head back and forth quickly like I'm in a Warner Brothers cartoon ... arhwhy, arhwhy ... 'That's Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House ... the guy who dump his wife while she was on her deathbed fighting cancer ... the guy who has cheated on two wives now ... but he's lecturing the American people about morality ... I dig this new wave future stuff ... but I must wake up ... wake up, wake up, does not compute, does not compute ...'

Sure thing Giuliani may not be so: ["Giuliani's primary hurdle in race for presidency"]. And, if anyone delves into some of Rudy's background and strange deals in New York, they may be surprised what they find.

And lastly, this, from the indie perspective ... the "sane" Ross Perot: ["Early contenders: Bloomberg could quench yearning for independents"]. This is very intriguing, even this early. But if Bloomberg is thinking about an indie run, he needs to start planning now. Indie runs are the hardest way to run since each state has its own arcane way of running elections and gaining ballot access.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Thirteen months away
The 2008 presidential primaries, including the New Hampshire primary, are a little more than a year away. I've been meaning to blog about this - a very special time for New Hampshire voters - but I haven't had time. I will try and get to it this weekend, probably by Sunday night.
One thing I have noticed right away is that people seem to think the process is coming on too fast. But when one compares it with the 2004 cycle, the primary process is actually starting pretty late here. Most of the candidates were already skulking around by this time in the process last time with some even announcing they were running. Before the midterms, there were only a handful of announced candidates, including former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel, a Dem, who has an apartment in Manch now, and Chicago businessman John Cox, a Republican. Since that time, a few more, like Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich, have jumped in with at least one big name, Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, seeing the writing on the wall: ["Bayh Rules Out White House Bid in 2008"]. This was a smart move on his part because, while it is anyone's guess who will win, his chances were probably pretty bad. However, he will be on the short list for VP, especially if the Democratic nominee is left-of-center.
For at least a year, potential candidates have been scoping things out. Junkies have already been talking about it and Web sites have been set up [I would encourage everyone to go to the WKXL 1450 "Eye on '08" page at wkxl1450.com for a look at audio gathered by the station's staff].
Former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating is also considering a run, saying he doesn't see any Reagan Republicans in the field. I guess he hasn't met Cox: [John Cox]. More later this weekend.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Thank goodness New Hampshire has 'the pledge'

By ANTHONY SCHINELLA
Commentary [From the New Hampshire Union Leader]

AS A NATIVE of the Granite State who has lived in states that have income and sales taxes, I've learned to appreciate what some call the New Hampshire Advantage.

Despite a political perspective that would be considered left-of-center by most, I'm glad that many elected officials took "the pledge" in 2006. The long-term health of our state and its quality of life will only be preserved by trying to solve our problems without broadbased taxes.

After spending many years living and working in Massachusetts, I can tell you firsthand that broadbased taxes rarely solve society's ills. At the same time, they can lead to corruption and dishonesty by governments.

For those of you who don't know, here's a bit of Massachusetts history. In 1989, after the state experienced a real estate slide and recession, then-Gov. Michael Dukakis and the Democratically controlled Legislature raised the state income tax from 5 to 6.25 percent and promised that after the economy improved, the tax would return to 5 percent.

In just a few years, the economy did improve, as expected. But instead of rolling back the income tax, Republican governors, with the assistance of Democrats in the Legislature, lowered taxes and fees on just about everyone but the individual.

Democrats in the Legislature were the worst, awarding anyone and their lobbyist targeted tax cuts while the rest of us got nailed with the higher income tax rate year after year. It was so bad that the voters had to pass a lobbying reform and disclosure bill via initiative petition.

Fidelity Investments, for example, screamed poverty while reaping millions in profits and landed a huge tax break. Then, the company moved thousands of jobs to Rhode Island. Raytheon was able to create a break for itself and then proceeded to layoff thousands of workers, despite record profits. Another loophole, which still exists, allowed banks like Citizens and Fleet to pay as little as $456 annually in state income tax while residents barely surviving on $20,000 a year paid more.

At the same time all this was going on, the state budget doubled. In 1998, a citizens group attempted to roll back the income tax rate via initiative petition. The campaign slogan was "Keep the Promise" and every interest group under the sun did all they could to thwart the effort. After two tries and a slew of lawsuits, the question was finally put on the ballot in 2000 and it passed overwhelming by more than 19 percent.

But legislators scoffed at the will of the people. The Massachusetts state income tax was lowered over the years, but it was never returned to 5 percent, as promised.

You would think that after doubling the budget all of Massachusetts' problems would be solved. Well, anyone who watches Boston-based television news these days knows the problems weren't solved: The schools still aren't good enough, there are still people who are hungry and homeless, many remain unemployed or underemployed, and residents continue to flee the state in droves. In the last decade, according to MassINC, a non-partisan think tank, more than 110,000 people have moved out of Massachusetts. Many of them moved here or to Florida where taxes are lower.

While New Hampshire is not Massachusetts, we can learn a lot from the mistakes our neighbor to the south has made. We can also preserve the reason many people move here (or move back here).

One thing I would like to see attempted is zero-sum budgeting. Essentially, every budget cycle, the state should start at zero and work its way up to what was collected the budget before. We might be surprised that we can actually live within our means without these taxes. It is worth a try.

While we are trying to be thoughtful about solving our state's problems, we need to be wary about assumptions made from election results or "discussions" about tax reform that are fronted by activists who have repeatedly thrust broadbased taxes into the political arena. Seldom do these types of discussions lead to anything but the conclusion at which the group wants to arrive.

No matter what anyone says, November's election results had nothing to do with ending "the pledge" and implementing a sales or income tax. The results, however, had everything to do with getting government to use the resources it already has more efficiently and wisely.

Anthony Schinella is the station manager of WKXL 1450 in Concord. He also writes for Politizine, a blog about politics, music, and modern times, at www.politizine.blogspot.com.

Monday, December 4, 2006

That warm and fuzzy feeling
It's starting to feel like Christmas.
Earlier today, I dropped off some presents for Operation Santa Claus, a program put on by the SEA, the State Employee's Association of New Hampshire. Operation Santa Claus asks people to go out and buy at least $50 worth of gifts for a needy child in the state who might not have Christmas presents otherwise. They ask that you buy at least two gifts so that everyone has at least two gifts on Christmas morning.
For a few years now, I've participated in the program, as well as similar programs in Massachusetts, but I've never really felt like I was doing more than just buying some gifts for someone else. Sure, I like giving to others, especially those who don't have much in the first place. I'm not rich, but I've been quite blessed and I have more than enough. Most of the time, the whole process can be a pain in the ass because I leave it until the last minute and then spend time running around the city trying to find the perfect gift for a teenager I don't even know.
This year wasn't an exception although I didn't leave it until the last minute ... I actually got the shopping done a few days before the deadline. But, as I went around, I found it a bit difficult to get it together and I didn't really feel in the spirit.
The description of the child I got was a 13-year-old boy with family issues who asked for a snowboard, Rollerblades, skateboard, and winter clothes. I was able to find some bargains and get him some winter clothes and a set of Rollerblades, which was cool. But I didn't quite feel like I was doing more than just buying some gifts. Last year, I didn't feel so special about the process either. I had a young girl who asked for a bunch of stuff, like makeup and other things I didn't know how to buy. But I bought and wrapped the gifts, and then dropped them off at the state office complex which used to be the state hospital facility. When I went in the drop the gifts off, a woman met me at the door and that was that.
Last night, I wrapped and labeled the gifts, put them in a bag, and prepared to drop them off and didn't think too much about it.
So on my lunch break today, I bolted down to Stickney Avenue to drop the gifts off at the state Dept. of Transportation building. In the lot, I saw a bunch of cars lined up also bringing gifts into the building. I peeked inside the dirty windows of the building and didn't see much inside.
So I carried my gifts inside and was shocked by what I saw. A handful of folks were labeling bags at a desk and I looked to the right, there were rows and rows of brand new bicycles, along with bags and bags of gifts on conveyor carts. It was truly an amazing sight and I felt so warm and fuzzy inside.
The feeling wasn't because I was doing anything that special or that I was special or anything. It was because hundreds and hundreds of kids in the Granite State who might not otherwise have Christmas presents this year, will have them this year because of the SEA and so many cool people who donated the gifts.
Crossposted at Area603

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Our CIA: Acting like Nazis?

Question: Read this piece in the Washington Post and tell me the difference between our government running concentration camps overseas and Nazi Germany running concentration camps during WWII: ["CIA Holds Terror Suspect in Secret Prisons"].
The only difference I can see is that the Jews, Catholics, gypsies, gays, etc., were rounded up and killed in the days of the Nazis, and in this case, we are rounding up American citizens, Muslims, and "al Qaida" members, probably torturing and killing them, but we don't know exactly for sure what the hell they are doing, in some sort of Final Solution to prevent terrorism in the United States. They have gone completely mad.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Noise Chart for December

Reporting stations: WAAF, WFNX, WMBR, WMFO, WTCC, WZBC

1. Campaign for Real Time – Let it Rise

2. Christians & Lions – More Songs For Dreamsleepers And The Very Awake

3. Tanya Donelly – This Hungry Life

4. Fluttr Effect – Marking Time

5. Ho-Ag – The Word from Pluto

6. Pernice Brothers – Live a Little

7. The Snowleopards – “Hipmatize Me”

8. Bentmen – Mark of the Astro-Zombies

9. Atlantics – Atlantics

10. Cul De Sac – ecim

11. The Kamikaze Hearts – Oneida Road

12. Fancy Trash – Three Cheers for the Cheated

13. L.E.O. – Alpacas Orgling

14. The Vital Might – Obsidian

15. Andrea Gillis – Want Another?

16. Paul Angelosanto – Jihad CafĂ©

17. Bang Camaro – “Push Push”

18. Dear Leader – All I Ever Wanted Was Tonight

19. Lenny & The Piss Poor Boys – “Cambridgeport Saloon”

20. Melt – Melt EP

21. Corin Ashley – Songs from the Brill Bedroom

22. Aberdeen City – The Freezing Atlantic

23. Over the Edge – Tales from the Blacktop

24. Black Helicopter – Invisible Jet

25. Apple Betty – Let’s Play

26. The Motion Sick – Her Brilliant Fifteen

27. The Daily Pravda – She’s So Mature EP

28. Feathers – Feathers

29. Gene Dante & The Future Starlets – Gene Dante & The Future Starlets

30. Cassavetes – “On Our Own”

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Catching up on things, Part 2

Well, this is part two of Catching up on things since that is what I've been trying to do. Plus, a few new things too.

Headlines
Well, here are some headlines I've found pretty interesting in the last few days. And, my Wall Street Journal finally started its subscription after almost two months waiting for the damn thing! I have the interactive site working. But I prefer to read the newspaper in my hands and not online, even if that is the wave of the future.

First, Sen. John Sununu and Sen. John Kerry may be in a little bind in the next year: ["Approval Rankings for all 100 Senators]. Look at those approval ratings. Yikes! And both are up for reelection in 2008.

Kerry is probably safe but you can see how he might not be. There is uncertainty there. Look at previous polling numbers from the state, like in 2003 when Howard Dean polled higher than Kerry twice before the 2004 primary cycle. Also, Kerry did have at least one tight race, against then-Gov. Bill Weld in 1996, with a Conservative Party candidate shaving off some support.
You could see a multi-level scenario where Kerry might have a problem getting reelected: 1) A well-funded, union-supported Democratic challenger could give him a run for his money in a primary and beat the daylights out of him; and 2) Some combination of a well-financed, popular liberal Republican was on the ballot with a well-financed and aggressive Green-Rainbow Party candidate, in the wake of the primary battle.
OK, "a well-financed Green-Rainbow candidate" is an oxymoron. But Grace Ross became very popular at the end of gubernatorial race in 2006 and both Dr. Jill Stein and James O'Keefe scored impressive numbers, granted, running against Democrats who didn't have any GOP challengers. Again, it would be a really long-shot for this to come together but you never know. In addition, I don't know if a primary challenge to Kerry would even get on the ballot since there is a 15 percent delegate threshold. It would depend on how early the candidate started and whether or not that candidate could firm up the support.
As we've seen, Kerry's support is fickle at best. He is aloof, out-of-touch, and hasn't passed any significant legislation in his years in the Senate. Although, he always manages to pull it off in the end and there is something to be said for that.

Sununu is a different story especially in the wake of the results of the mid-term elections where no one expected Carol Shea Porter to do anything in District 1 and she cleaned Rep. Jeb Bradley's clock. Again, a well-financed, aggressive, and popular Democrat would have to be on the ballot to challenge Sununu, whose name is a legacy in some ways in this state. Although with the dynamic trends of population shifts in New Hampshire, who knows whether that all matters any more.
Gov. John Lynch has already ruled himself out of that one. There have been some rumors that former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen might end her job at Harvard's JFK School and try again. But that 2002 race was a bloodbath and Dems can't use that GOTV phone-jamming scandal as a reason why they lost that one. They lost it because Shaheen was suffocating her own base - like claiming to be for higher defense spending on radio spots which aired on Seacoast radio stations. Who thought of that one?

Second, Sen Russ Feingold has decided not to run for president: ["Feingold rules out 2008 run for president"]. This is terribly disappointing. Sen. Feingold was the only senator to vote against the Patriot Act. He was one of the only ones considering a run who voted against invading Iraq. It isn't good enough to say some of the things that Sen. John Kerry and Sen. Hillary Clinton have been saying to cover their asses on their invasion votes or their Patriot Act votes. I'm sorry. If the regular folks of America knew that these votes were unConstitutional and unneeded, then they did too and just ignored the facts.

Next, daddy Bush gets shellacked by Arabs in what he thought was going to be a soft crowd: ["Pop rocked by criticism of W, U.S.A. "]. I'm surprised that guy didn't get his tongue cut out! Oh, that's right, we don't run the world ... yet.

The Boston Phoenix recently turned 40 and put together this Web site in celebration of the milestone: ["40th"]. There are some pretty cool articles in there, which, obviously, I never got a chance to see because I only started reading the paper in the early 1980s.

Have sex on a plane? You're a terrorist!: ["Mid-flight sexual play lands US couple afoul of anti-terrorism law"]. Obviously, they were being stupid. But come on. Does Homeland Security really have to be called for a bit of nookie?

More stupid stuff from that hack Robert Rubin: ["Rubin's Tax Gambit"]. When will the Clintonistas learn? When will they go away? The government doesn't need more money - it needs to spend what it has more wisely. And, if it does need more money, then it needs to get it by ending corporate welfare, subsidies, and giveaways and stop taking money from us working stiffs.

Rehash, rehash, rehash. Do we really wonder why the music industry is in such dire straits? Could it be rehashing the same old thing every year?: ["An Oldies Christmas"]. I am, though, intrigued by the Beatles compilation especially since they have been using pieces from one song, and splicing and mixing them into another. Interesting, indeed.

I meant to post this months ago but spaced. When I was looking for other folks who had been banned from the Daily Kos site, I found this blog entry from another person who was also participating in the site during its early days: ["Payola at DailyKos?"].

Here is another old post which has been sitting the saved bin for awhile: ["Media ownership study ordered destroyed"]. While this is a couple of months old, it points out a number of problems with the commissioners currently running the FCC. And, in the wake of the Clear Channel sell-off in Northern New England and the problems over at Nassau Broadcasting, one has to wonder why anyone would try to squelch this stuff.
The impending change in the Senate and Congress, however, should make things a tad better - or, at least not any worse. Although, I don't know, since it was Clinton and the Republicans who got the Telecom Bill passed in the first place which created this mess. Before the election, I started working on a post about the need for the reinstitution of the Fairness Doctrine, which I never finished. I hope to finish it soon though.

Another old post I've been meaning to put up is this one: ["Longtime Rock Critic, Christgau, axed at 'Village Voice' in Latest Layoffs"]. This is sad. When I lived in NYC and later, when I moved to Boston, I would pick up the Voice religiously just to read the guy's reviews. After reading this piece, I did a Google on "I f*cked Christgau with my AIDS-inflicted dick," which was the name of a song put out by Sonic Youth - or some other downtown art band of the early 1980s, I'm getting so old - which was put together after the band received a bad review from the guy. Imagine being immortalized like that! Christgau has his own site here: ["Robert Christgau"].

Probably the most powerful political ad of the 2006 election cycle: ["Body Armor"].

Can she get sworn in first?
I can't believe the 2008 Congressional elections are already starting: ["Shea-Porter: Republicans are already campaigning"]. And Bradley, what the heck is he thinking? He gets swamped and he actually thinks he has a second chance? Unless Shea Porter really, really screws up, he doesn't stand a chance, especially in a presidential election year with New Hampshire shifting and becoming a slightly more liberal state with each year. And I don't think being concerned about Katrina victims is going to cost her the Congressional seat. We are all still concerned about Katrina victims and we should be.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thankful

There's a lot to be thankful for at this time in my life.
I'm thankful for life, in general. I'm thankful that I have my health and family, and that they are healthy and safe. I'm thankful that I'm gainfully employed and that I have a great, loose network of friends and acquaintances. I'm thankful that I have more than I will ever need and that I'm not that worried about the future, despite dark times. I'm thankful for the seasons changing, for the natural resources we take for granted as human beings, and for things that make you feel like you are alive.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Catching up on things, Part 1

I do want to thank all the new visitors the site has been getting of late. I hope you are enjoying what you see here. I will also be reposting some of the side columns which were taken down while I tweaked the design and layout of the site. These were taken down because Blogger has added a ton of new features which make the entire process a lot easier.

Press releases
One of the neat things about working in the news business is the press release. In some ways, press releases are a nag; the people who send them, usually paid press relation reps., can be difficult. Some, can be very cool. But the information you get in a press release - barring political ones, which can often be biased or manipulated - are pretty interesting. If you don't have a ton of time, and you get your news from briefs, there is a good chance it came from a press release. In addition, press releases can serve as a good source of helping a reporter to get to a story which is important to readers.
Here are a couple of I have gotten recently which I thought were interesting but which weren't really relevant to a local radio station.
This first is from the group known as Consumers for Cable Choice. They are essentially trying to break open the cable monopoly. The flack sent out a quick release - late, albeit - trying to get people to look at the cost of cable in a new light. Thanksgiving dinner this year will cost American families a little under $37, which is up a bit from last year. "Too bad for American consumers that the cost of watching the big parade and games on television will cost significantly more than that," the release notes.
The release goes on to say that according to the FCC, from "Report on Cable Industry Prices" from Feb. 2005, cable rates rose 86 percent between 1994 and 2004, with all the major cable companies raising rates in 2006 and Comcast, my cable company, announcing another 6 percent increase in January 2007.
But compare this with other services which are becoming modern necessities, during the same time period: The average cell phone bill has decrease by almost 6 percent over that time, with three times as many people owning cell phones; long distance rates have dropped 50 percent; PCs have dropped 78 percent; electricity has dropped 6 percent [Sidebar: I wonder about the electricity rates. Maybe these are national rates but I can tell you that per kwh, I'm playing more than I was in 2004, never mind 1994!]
Here is another one from a representative of Experian entitled "Consumer Borrowing Trends Released As Holiday Shopping Kicks Off." It should have been called "Borrowers in trouble as the holiday approach."
Since 2001, according to the release, "there has been a near 17 percent decline in the rate at which consumers are opening new credit accounts, and a near 13 percent increase in the rate of late payments. The study also revealed a 7-point decline in the national average credit score from 2001 (682) to 2006 (675)."
Now, the bad news is pretty clear - people are having problems paying their bills and it is effecting credit reports. The net positive is that with fewer cards being opened, there is less debt, although that probably comes from problems with current debt.
But here are some other problems: During the same time period, auto loans are down 17.5 percent ... that's not so good for the auto industry which is already hurting; Installment loans are down 15.6 percent ... this could be a positive or negative though, as more people could be paying off their loans or budgeting better as to not have to take out installment loans; Nationwide, the percentage of consumers late on their installment loan payments in the last 90 days increased by 15.5 percent ... again, missing payments on installment loans is kind of the point before bankruptcy; and lastly, what should be considered positive news, late payments on car loans and credit cards have declined by 4.1 and 11.9 percent, respectively.
Here is an opinion piece from Mother Jones I finished reading the other day, granted, written before the election, but which outlines some of the issues about the lack of a war dividend: ["The Firing Line"].
These statistics shouldn't be that surprising but they are if you consider that millions of people think the economy is great. As the political slogan goes, are you better off than you were four years ago, or eight, or 12? Maybe, maybe not. But is it better for everyone else? Clearly not. Those less fortunate are falling through the cracks during a modern time where everyone is expected to not only keep up with the Jones but to surpass them. Some of those things can be controlled by subduing desire and teaching our children what is worth valuing. But that is work on top of the work a person is already performing to survive. Life isn't easy, as the saying goes, but life is good.

Taxes
In keeping with the theme of press releases, I did want to post this one by the people who organized the recent gubernatorial campaign of Rep. Jim Coburn, the GOP's sacrificial lamb, who ran against popular Democratic Gov. John Lynch this year.
They have formed the New Hampshire Advantage Coalition, a PAC which serves "as watchdog protectors of New Hampshire’s low tax and less spending traditions." This is a smart move by Heath & Company. Democrats promised to keep things in check, with many campaigning and promising that there won't be a sales or income tax passed in New Hampshire, while at the same time, some of my liberal friends claiming that sweeping victories by Democrats means that it is time to throw out "the pledge" [For those of you that don't know, the pledge is a commitment to not implement a sales or income tax in New Hampshire].
I'm afraid that I'm with conservatives on the issue of the pledge. I've seen first-hand, living in Massachusetts for many years, how income and sales taxes, with little oversight, can lead to wasteful spending and no solution to the nagging problems of society.
The 2006 election wasn't about more taxes and more spending - it was, however, about oversight, accountability, and prioritizing our taxes and spending. It was a solid vote against badly planned wars, with no end, which are ripping our nation apart. It was a solid vote against spending hundreds of billions of dollars turning the deserts of Iraq into glass. That is what the vote was about and anyone who can't see that will unfortunately risks the return of swing voters sending Republicans back into power. Don't screw it up, Democrats!
Back to the Coalition for a second, it is made up of former Superior Court judge and U.S. Rep. Chuck Douglas, who can be thanked endlessly for spearheading a ballot question to protect New Hampshire citizens from the U.S. Supreme Court's eminent domain ruling, Coburn, Tom Thompson, the son of former conservative icon Gov. Meldrim Thompson, and State Rep. Pam Manney of Goffstown.
One cheap shot side note though, which is important to state: Heath's group, Meridian Communications, didn't do the best job spending Coburn's money, IMHO.
During one campaign press release, Meridian announced the launch of some radio spots for the campaign. The ads were aired on a few stations and it wasn't a bad run of spots. But, the airing of spots on a well-known Top 40 station with high ratings in youth numbers was a waste of money. Young people don't vote in high numbers in New Hampshire. Compare their audience with that of smaller AM stations with less expensive ad rates and adult numbers - i.e., people who actually vote - and it is clear that Coburn's media buyers were throwing some of his money out the window. While I have no love lost of Coburn losing - like many others I think Gov. Lynch is doing a good job - I hate to see political parties unable to compete for the hearts and minds of voters.