Thursday, November 29, 2007

Log Cabin Republicans release 'Mitt Flops' radio spot

From a press release received this afternoon:

New Log Cabin Radio Ad Highlights Romney’s “Mitt Flops” on Taxes

Radio Ad Targets Governor Romney’s Record Hiking Taxes on New Hampshire Residents

( Washington , DC ) – Log Cabin Republicans launched a radio advertisement in New Hampshire today highlighting Governor Romney’s “Mitt Flops” on taxes.
“Mitt Romney’s record doesn’t match his rhetoric on taxes and almost every other issue,” said Log Cabin Republicans President Patrick Sammon. “No matter what he says now, Romney’s record on taxes doesn’t add up. Running for Governor of Massachusetts , Romney promised not to raise taxes, but he ‘Mitt flopped’ after taking office. Our Party may disagree on some issues, but we can all agree that raising taxes is NOT conservative.”

The 60-second ad will run in the Manchester and Portsmouth-Dover-Rochester radio markets. The commercial highlights the fact that Romney, when running for Governor, said he’d balance the budget without raising taxes, but then “Mitt flopped” and raised taxes anyway. He even raised taxes on some New Hampshire residents who work in Massachusetts —taxing pensions and pay. The ad also focuses on Romney’s refusal as governor to endorse President Bush’s tax cuts.

“No one knows what Mitt Romney believes because he changes his positions so often—even more than John Kerry,” said Sammon. “Our Party deserves better than a flip-flopper with no principles.”

The radio ad is a continuation of Log Cabin’s effort to educate Republicans about Romney’s “Mitt flops” on numerous issues—from taxes, to guns, to immigration, to campaign finance reform, to abortion, to gay rights and beyond. You can listen to the ad and read more information about Romney’s record at http://www.logcabin.org/.

In October, Log Cabin aired a 30-second television ad highlighting Romney’s “Mitt-flops” on various issues, including gun rights, abortion, and whether he’s a Reagan Republican—all issues on which Gov. Romney has changed his position. The television ad ran nationally on Fox News Channel and in Iowa . Plus major media outlets featured the ad, including NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Radio Ad Script:
ANNOUNCER:

Mitt-Flops…sounds like something you'd wear to the beach, but they could cost you.

Let's see.

Running for governor, Mitt Romney said he'd balance the budget without raising taxes.

So what'd he really do? He raised taxes on some New Hampshire residents who worked in Massachusetts , taxing their income and their pensions.

That's a Mitt-Flop.

Then Romney claimed he was just 'closing loopholes'. The truth: ­he raised taxes $128 million.

After that? $70 million more.

A year later? He tried to hike taxes another $170 million. That’s a triple Mitt-Flop.

Romney even refused to support the Bush tax cuts.

Now? He’s seen the light on tax cuts. Do you believe this conversion?

Massachusetts Mitt sounds like another flip-flopping politician…

JOHN KERRY:
“I actually did vote for the 87 billion dollars, before I voted against it.”

ANNOUNCER:
Mitt Romney – just another Massachusetts flip-flopper.

Paid for by Log Cabin Republicans who are responsible for the content of this ad. Learn more about Romney’s record at logcabin.org.
###

Log Cabin Republicans is the nation's largest organization of Republicans who support fairness, freedom, and equality for gay and lesbian Americans. Log Cabin has state and local chapters nationwide, full-time offices in Washington , DC and Sacramento , CA , a federal political action committee and state political action committees.

John Cox not on Massachusetts ballot ...

Why is this not a surprise? From a MassGOP press release sent out a few minutes ago. With friends like these ... Oh, and BTW, there is no Alan Keyes on the ballot either!:

MassGOP Chairman Peter Torkildsen delivered the list of Republican Presidential candidates to the Secretary of State to be placed on the February 5, 2008 Massachusetts primary ballot. The Secretary of State will soon conduct a drawing to determine the order of the names on the Presidential primary ballot. The names submitted by the Massachusetts Republican Party - in alphabetical order - are:

  • Rudy Giuliani
  • Mike Huckabee
  • Duncan Hunter
  • John McCain
  • Ron Paul
  • Mitt Romney
  • Tom Tancredo
  • Fred Thompson

"The GOP has an outstanding slate of candidates that all embrace the philosophy of less government and lower taxes, and I have seen significant interest from Republicans across the state to participate in Super Tuesday," said Chairman Torkildsen. The MassGOP has chosen these names based on debate participation and well known status as a candidate for President.

Why the Clintons cannot be allowed back in the White House ....

Bill Clinton cannot stop lying!!: ["Bill Clinton's Claim of Opposing Iraq War From Outset Disputed"].
How quickly people forget. Clinton was TOTALLY FOR the war. In fact, it is worse than that: Clinton wanted to invade Iraq in 1999! Doesn't anyone remember the Madeline Albright/Bill Cohen/Sandy Berger talking points speaking tour advocating toppling Saddam Hussein? Am I the only one who remembers that? It was all over CNN and C-Span and the trio was booed at every speech with tons of peace protesters showing up at the events. This is absolutely ridiculous.
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting has this Action Alert about it: ["Bill Clinton, Anti-War?"].
As Clinton likes to say about his enemies, "These people are shameless ..." Well, if the shoe fits ...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Greening the Corporation

Guest Perspective/Ralph Nader

The “Business of Green” and “Green is Gold” are among the phrases finding their way onto the nation’s business pages and into the advertisements of major corporations.

After years of corporate greenwashing, is this wave of corporate greenmania for real? Is it more than hype when the New York Times marks a recent article with the sidebar “The market tells producers: It’s go green or goodbye.”?

Well, not if the impetus has to come from stronger regulation or environmentally driven government purchases. Those two pressure points have largely been kept dormant or are de minimis.

When business sees environmental management as saving it money, increasing productivity, becoming more competitive and attracting young talent, the prospect of sustainable policies taking root becomes more likely.

Obviously, it was not always viewed this way by corporate bosses who, not long ago, saw our air, water and soil as their toxic sewers.

There is still a long way to go to “green” the entire supply chain from the mines to the markets.

No corporation illustrates this broad continuum better than the Atlanta-based Interface Corporation—the country’s largest commercial carpet tile manufacturer. In 1994, founder Ray Anderson started his company on its goal as a “restorative enterprise,” which he described as zero net pollution and 100% recycling by 2020. The company is 45 percent there, he estimates. (http://www.interfaceinc.com/)

Anderson speaks figures in his 100 plus lectures around the nation and world. His company’s use of fossil fuel is down 45 percent, net greenhouse gas production is down 60%, while company sales are up 49 percent. Water use is down by a third in its manufacturing and the filling of landfill with waste is down 80%.

“Sustainability,” Anderson told the New York Times, “pays in customer loyalty, employee spent-hard cash,” plus 336 million dollars in savings since 1995.

Anderson is unique in that what he and his team have done is not anecdotal, but system wide in scope. The news is replete with one large company achieving this with lighting or that with their transportation. With Interface, ecological efficiency is across the board.

Since even a stodgy company like General Electric is moving quickly into selling “green” technology as the next profit center, why are the aggregate figures on hydro-carbon use, greenhouse gases still increasing? Because there are no national missions to take these successful examples—these best practices—and make them a mandatory floor for all companies.

I refer to mandatory performance standards by the federal government—not specific design standards—backed up by specifications set by Uncle Sam, who is the buyer of so many products we all use, for its departments and agencies. These include vehicles, building construction, paper and many other goods and services that could be purchased only from solid “green companies.” (See: Forty Ways to Make Government Purchasing Green by Eleanor J. Lewis and Eric Weltman. Available from the Center for the Study of Responsive Law for $10. Mail orders to PO Box 19367 Washington, D.C. 20036.)

Mandatory federal standards and government purchasing specifications brought the people safer cars, higher recycled paper content and greater fuel efficiency for their vehicles and appliances. The deregulation craze of the past twenty-five years ended most of this forward progress.

Moreover, the retarding corporate powers are still going anti-green. They oppose a carbon tax and long overdue upgrades of fuel efficiency and pollution control standards. They want to build dozens of costly, unnecessary, unsafe atomic power plants with no less than 100% federal government loan guarantees.

This overall persistence of corporate intransigence needs to be kept in mind as the blizzard of green announcements by companies continues.

To keep our demands on industry and commerce to become more efficient, productive and environmentally benign, it is worthwhile to quote a passage drawn from Natural Capitalism, a book co-authored by a physicist, a lawyer and a successful businessman:

“Whether through better design or through new technologies, reducing waste represents a vast business opportunity. The U.S. economy is not even 10% as efficient as the laws of physics allow. Just the energy thrown off as waste heat by U.S. power stations equals the total energy use of Japan. Materials efficiency is even worse.”

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Huckabee's ad in Iowa

This was posted over at First Read, which I've started reading again after meeting and talking with Adam Aigner-Treworgy, a Mass. guy covering Fred Thompson's campaign [More on "Grandpa Fred" later]. I think Huckabee, a former Baptist preacher, misses the mark with this one. The abortion issue is not as important to Iowa Republicans as the international trade issue is. If it was, we'd know President Pat Robertson and President Gary Bauer:



Ben Cohen coming to Manch
From a press release from earlier today:
Ben Cohen speaks to College Convention Thursday
Priorities Campaign president and Ben & Jerry's co-founder will use Oreos to illustrate America's need for sensible budget priorities
MANCHESTER, N.H. - Priorities Campaign president and Ben & Jerry's co-founder Ben Cohen will introduce several hundred politically mindedstudents to his campaign for sensible federal budget priorities when headdresses the College Convention 2008 at noon Thursday, Nov. 29, at theCenter of New Hampshire/Radisson Hotel in Manchester.
"This is an historic moment. We have the power to change the direction ofthe United States," says Cohen. "We need to start judging ourselves not onhow many people we can kill, but how many people we can house, clothe, feedand care for."
PrioritiesNH, a project of Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities, isworking to shift America's budget priorities to increase federal investmentin education, health care, energy independence, job training and deficitreduction -- at no additional taxpayer expense -- by reducing funding foroutdated Cold War weapons and a stockpile of 10,000 nuclear warheads.
PrioritiesNH has been the most visible and aggressive issue campaign in this N.H. Primary season. Its eye-catching vehicles, like the PigMobile and Topsy-Turvy School Bus, have crisscrossed the Granite State; its Cookie Momhas sweetened dozens of presidential campaign events; and its small army ofactivists has questioned the candidates nearly 200 times about their budgetpriorities.
As a result of Priorities efforts in NH and Iowa, several candidates whowould not even acknowledge Pentagon waste when they began campaigning nowroutinely talk about the need to identify wasteful Pentagon spending andshift the funding to Americans' real priorities. Cohen is the noon plenary speaker at the Convention, which drew a thousandparticipants from more than 30 states and countries when last held in 2004. The full schedule and media credentialing information are available at theCollege Convention Web site: http://cc2k8.nec.edu/forthemedia.htm.
For information about the PrioritiesNH campaign, please visit our Web siteat www.PrioritiesNH.org <http://www.prioritiesnh.org/> or contact Campaign Director Steve Varnum at (603) 748-0317 or (603) 224-3800.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Last minute but ...

Former U.S. Steve Marchand sent me this email this morning [I'm on his list] about what seems like a pretty interesting event tonight:

NATIONAL PUNDITS DISCUSS HOW EDUCATION IS BECOMING A KEY ISSUE FOR PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

Washington, DC-Senior Advisor for Political Affairs at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics Jennifer Donahue will moderate a political discussion about how education will play into presidential politics on the campaign trail in New Hampshire. Panelists include: Washington Post National Political Correspondent Dan Balz, Fox News Chief Political Correspondent Carl Cameron, Director of Harvard University's Institute of Politics Campaign 2008: Campus Voices Project Sue Casey, WMUR Senior Anchor Tom Griffith, former National Spokesperson for Bush-Cheney 2004 and Principal of Holt Strategies Terry Holt, Salon.com Washington Bureau Chief Walter Shapiro and ED in '08 Executive Director Marc Lampkin.

The roundtable discussion, which will be followed by a question and answer session from students, teachers and community leaders, is sponsored by Saint Anselm College and ED in '08, a national nonpartisan campaign supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, which urges the candidates to put forth a plan of action to address America's education crisis.

In New Hampshire one in five students will not graduate from high school with their classmates and one in three college freshmen fail to earn a diploma within six years. And across the United States, the picture is worse. America's high school graduation rate has slipped behind 18 other countries and America's share of the world's college graduates has shrunk by half, undermining America's competitiveness and economic security.

For more information about ED in '08 events and a list of the New Hampshire advisory board members, log onto: www.EDin08.com.

Date: Monday, November 26, 2007

Time: Reception 5:30 p.m.

Panel Discussion 7:00 p.m.

Location: New Hampshire Institute of Politics Auditorium

Saint Anselm College

100 Saint Anselm Drive

Manchester, NH 03102

# # # #

Strong American Schools, a project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, is a nonpartisan campaign supported by The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation promoting sound education policies for all Americans. SAS does not support or oppose any candidate for public office and does not take positions on legislation.

Unfortunately, I won't be able to attend, due to the short notice. But, I'm sure it will be online in a Podcast or something at a later date. If you go, enjoy.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A few quick things ...

Here is an Editor & Publisher article about how newspapers are trying to stave off the depressing cuts in circulations: ["Preview -- Circ Declines, Some Steep, Continue "].
and ["Top 25 Daily and Sunday Newspapers"].

Oh wow, this is very cool: ["Honda FCX"].

Don Feder is an ultraconservative commentator, talk host, and columnist. His daughter, a lovely young woman, worked on the Nader 2000 campaign, and I was able to work with her a couple of days during that campaign, which was great. I'm on Feder's list but I don't often agree with his columns. However, he makes some really good points here in his latest column, "Hollywood vs. Family: ["Don Feder"].
I don't agree with everything in it but if you really think about some of the comparisons, they are legitimate. How come they treat men like idiots, like we can't do the wash or change a diaper? Is it so responsible to suggest that activity which isn't healthy, like premarital sex, does not have consequences? On the flip, in liberal Massachusetts, there aren't as many divorces as there are in red states. And, per capita, more have died in the Iraq occupation than in red states. And do I really want to go into my rant about porn shops and red states again? Search the page if you want to read that one.

I went to John Cox's presidential Web site a couple of times today and it was down for most of the day. What's up with that?

Here is one way to try and get universal health care ... embarrass one of the big companies: ["Sick of Blue Cross"].

Green construction is all the rage: ["Push To Build 'Green' Homes Picks Up Steam"].

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Date set: Jan. 8

The New Hampshire Primary date has been set for Jan. 8. I still think Gardner should have set it for late December.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving week

I'm going to take some time off from posting on Politizine, probably about a week, to tend to some personal and professional matters. Of course, if things get really crazy in the political world, I may be back. Enjoy your Thanksgiving week.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Note to moms, wives and girlfs ...

Giving your husband, son, or boyf an electric razor for Christmas is like us giving you a vacuum or ironing board for Christmas. Don't believe the hype ... or the ads. And who is actually giving anyone a car for Christmas?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Howie Carr goes back to WRKO!

Wow, this is a bombshell: ["It's official: Howie Carr back to WRKO"]. I'm shocked. Well, I guess money talks and bullshit walks.

FoxNews ... porn!

Brave New Films has done it again ...



At the Web site, foxnewsporn.com, the company is flogging an updated and "special edition" version of "Outfoxed." I wonder if they have corrected any of the problems with the original DVD: ["'Outfoxed' film misfires"].

'1968: The Long Goodbye'

Daniel Henniger has a column in the WSJ this morning which hit upon some critical points and made me think a bit about things this morning: ["1968: The Long Goodbye"]. The online version is corrected from the print one, which had Henniger claiming that George Wallace was "shot dead" in 1972. Wallace was only wounded and paralyzed, and ran for president that year and in 1976.
But the column indirectly makes some interesting points especially in light of what we consider "the modern society."
If you compare the events of the 1960s and how our society has dealt with similar issues in the early part of the 21st Century, there are some significants differences.
Even though many protests during the 1960s shut a lot of things down, or at least attempted to, the best this generation has been able to do is bust some Radio Shack and Starbucks windows at some global trade riots [Battle for Seattle, for example]. Even the large scale protests semi-annually protesting the Iraqi occupation are nothing like the old days. Sometimes they are big; sometimes sparsely attended. And what do the protesters actually accomplish? Nothing really. Do the protesters abandon the Democrats because they haven't accomplished anything and refuse to stand up to this president? No, they get back into the Subarus, lament about how great it was, and go back to whatever they were doing. John Edwards and others are right on this.
I wonder. Is it because the standard of living was easier back then? Is it because workers are all in hock up to their eyeballs, so much so that they must show up for work everyday or they'll lose everything? Whereas, the hippies and yippies did not have much of anything, were able to live on less, so there is less to lose?
Is it because college students are more interested in beer, Internet porn, free file sharing and video games to care about the thousands of Americans dying in a fraudulent war and occupation - never mind the hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis dying for nothing, many of them women and children? Are young people too busy texting about the latest in the Britney Spears child custody hearings to worry about some soldier getting his legs blown off and then having the VA say, Sorry, no more medical treatment for you ... and good luck finding a job now in the retail slave wage sector now without any legs. What a way to treat a hero.
And what does that say about our news media, which would distract us from the important things with the trivial. News directors will constantly say, This is what the public wants. But who are they talking to? Maybe I'm weird but I don't know a single person who gives a damn about this tabloid crap. Yeah, maybe they will scoff at the latest headline, but half of that scoff is because we are even being told this information. Remember when the entertainment report was the latest movie preview or update and not about some star's divorce?
Would we truly call all of this "enlightenment"?
Don't get me wrong: I'm in my early 40s now and I think my parents' generation, generalizing, were sellouts and completely screwed everything up. I like to joke, every time I hear about the good old days, how they wrecked sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll, and gave us AIDS, addiction, and classic rock, which gets played over and over and over and over again ... Maybe that is harsh but it is also accurate. Our generation has yet to be judged but I'm sure we'll get ours too.
But it has been a long goodbye. And I, for one, can't wait for it to finally say goodbye and be done already. 'Nuff said. Back to my morning coffee.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Interesting primary story angle here

I just started receiving alerts from WMUR-TV News and they are helpful if you are a busy person trying to keep track of news going on in the state. This story, which aired in the last day or so, struck me as an interesting one: ["Primary Shuffle Causes Problems for Local Hotels"]. There is a video clip of the segment at the link too.

The Sleeping Professions

Guest Perspective/Ralph Nader

One of the most noticed photographs in the newspapers last week was that of a well-dressed Pakistani lawyer on the streets hurling back a tear gas canister toward the soldiers who were suppressing a demonstration by lawyers protesting the martial law (called “emergency rule”) of Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

Can anyone remember anywhere in all of modern history, large numbers of lawyers leading the resistance as they did on the streets of Pakistani cities way ahead of the workers, peasants and even the university students?

Pakistani police and troops rounded up the mass protests of lawyers and pushed hundreds of them into trucks on the way to the prison. Lawyers were willing to go to prison and endure beatings, while demanding the re-establishment of the rule of law and the independence of judges right up to the Supreme Court, a rare display of professional courage and duty.

What about lawyers in the United States standing up to the Bush regime’s regular violation of our Constitution, the imprisonment of thousands of people without charges and without attorneys, the assault on due process, probable cause, habeas corpus, the spying on Americans without court approval and the defiant, illegal use of torture?

No demonstrations yet. No resolutions by bar associations saying that Bush and Cheney should resign or be impeached.

Except some dozens of active civil liberties’ lawyers, law professors and the former head of the American Bar Association, Michael Greco, the 800,000 or more practicing lawyers have been pursuing business as usual. Given their canons of ethics and their status as officers of the court, this looking the other way is not very professional behavior.

Professional behavior also has been in short supply on Wall Street. Once again, the accountants, the corporate lawyers, and the Boards of Directors of such giant companies as Merrill Lynch and Citigroup either were paid to go to sleep on the job or cared less.

Both Merrill Lynch and Citigroup have announced that thus far they are writing off a total of $20 billion on subprime mortgage paper in the housing sector. At the same time, the bosses of these companies, Stanley O’Neal and Charles O. Prince, have been fired and awarded vast golden parachutes totaling $360 million for their mismanagement in taking on reckless levels of risk for short term premiums.

But where were the highly paid watchdogs for these companies in the accounting and legal professions? Professionals are supposed to prevent trouble, not just profit from it. This looks like a repeat of the previous busts during the savings and loan scandals and the dot com collapses.

Once again, see the bitter fruit of de-regulation or non-regulation by the federal and state governments. It will happen again and again to worker pensions, small investors and the workers, who are laid off, until there is regulatory law and order and the investors are given more dedicated legal authority over the corporations which they own.

This week, a new book titled Corpocracy (Wiley Pub.) by veteran corporate governance champion, Robert Monks, will be released to shine a bright light on this lack of shareholder rights and the passivity of large institutional shareholders (like pension funds, trusts and university endowments) toward meeting their fiduciary duties.

The gross greed, power and unfairness of this whole rigged system of non-accountability for the top bosses, who mess up big time but leave with the riches of Kings, were the subject of a remarkably forthright article in Sunday’s Washington Post by William S. Lerach—until recently, a very successful litigator against corporate scam artists.

Lerach pleaded guilty last month in federal court to a conspiracy charge regarding payments made to investor-plaintiffs in lawsuits brought against corporations claiming fraud and other misdeeds. For this behavior he will have to pay $8 million in fines and go to prison for at least one year.

Who was damaged by Lerach’s crime? The court was misled because it was not told that monetary incentives were given to ready-to-sign-on plaintiffs in the race to the courtroom to become the lead law firm in such class action lawsuits.

Compare this violation with the trillion dollars looted or drained from millions of workers, investors and pension-holders by the corporate crime wave of the past ten years. Lerach and his firm recovered billions of dollars for defrauded investors over that same time span.

Lerach can be forgiven for wondering why so many reckless bosses were rewarded at the expense of shareholders and company profits. Especially, since these big bosses of the huge losses through their rubberstamp, selected boards of directors, essentially decide what to pay themselves while they are in their suites and when they leave.

Top mismanagement of many U.S. companies—consider the domestic auto manufacturers, for example—is rife with rewards for bad jobs done. Big rewards. In any fair system of corporate governance and SEC regulation, these bosses at least would have had to give up their undeserved pay and cancel their golden parachutes.

Even though O’Neal and Prince have admitted to “mistakes” and “flawed risk models,” O’Neal leaves Merrill Lynch with $160 million in addition to over $100 million he received in pay for the past two years.

Reports have Prince leaving with $100 million along with the $100 million he was paid as Citi’s CEO. Both companies’ stock value has fallen sharply in recent weeks.

In his article, Lerach mused about how the “legal system is a lot tougher on shareholder lawyers than it appears to be on Wall Street executives.”

During his time in prison, maybe the determined Lerach can plan his next moves to bring corporate crime, fraud and abuse against all too trusting individuals, institutions and government purchasers to systemic accountability.

Maybe he’ll take his strategies to a level far beyond the occasional class action suits that get through all the interference that indentured legislators and conservative judges put in their way.

For if we the people do not have a say, we will continue to pay and pay.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Huckabee surge ...

The blaring headline across the Drudge Report is "Huckabee Poll Surge in Iowa" and points to this article: ["Poll: Top Democrats Deadlocked in Iowa"]. But, it is not that much of a surprise for some of us folks who have been watching this race. Republicans are looking for a legitimate candidate who addresses their concerns. Huckabee is a more stable Pat Buchanan without all the alleged anti-semitism. In other words, he is good on a lot of things and quite electable.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Any new news on the Howie front?

No, not really, I've just been too busy to really follow along.
Over the past week, there were rumors that he would actually be heading back to WRKO, tail between his legs: ["The scoop on Howie"]. Some, like the Greater Boston blog, speculate that he might go back if Entercom cuts a couple of years off the extension: ["Radio waves"].
I honestly can't imagine Howie going back. He holds grudges for too long. But maybe the $7M is just too tasty to refuse. I mean, we all know how he has been phoning in his column for so long. He could just do the same thing with the radio show. Play the same bits over and over again. Talk about Who do you want to see naked on TV every day until listeners tune out ... or suffer along with him. Or, he could just learn to live on less like the rest of the world does. Who knows.
Jessica Heslam has a pretty good overview here of the pathetic state of talk radio in Boston: ["Hub talk radio in turmoil"]. Turmoil. That's an understatement.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Polly's Think Pink Radio-Thon raises $37k!

New Hampshire radio stations raised more than $37k in funds for breast cancer research on Thursday with a radiothon. Polly's Think Pink Radio-Thon, in honor of Pauline Robbins, a DJ from the Upper Valley, was thrown together in a matter of days but was quite successful. The stations involved included Nassau Broadcasting, Koor Communications, Dartmouth Broadcasting and Great Eastern Radio. Congratulations to all involved!

The first one to open an office is the first one to close it

According to New Hampshire Presidential Watch, John Cox has closed his campaign office in Manch: ["So long John Cox"].

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Is U.S. Rep. Mike Capuano a traitor?

Author, blogger, and unsuccessful Cambridge politico Ralph Lopez thinks so: ["Capuano traitor"].

More on Tuesday's elections

Two articles from the Union Leader.
First, this one about the new school board member who is getting hammered because she is a college drop out and is only 23: ["School Board winner: Give me a chance"]. First, she won, fair and square. Second, she looks a bit old for 23. And what is this about the employment thing? So she works in a bar, big deal. Does that mean she can't advise the schools as a member of the board? No, it doesn't.
Second, a writer, John Whitson, comes up with this story - interview people who didn't vote and find out why: ["Manchester: Why didn't YOU vote?"]. As an experiment, I've always wanted to take a voter's list after an election and go around and talk to people about why they didn't vote. I know there are a ton of reasons. I think I have voted in every election I could possibly vote in since first turning 18. I can't imagine not voting. The process is just too important.
Down in Cambridge, there is this odd story: ["Embattled newsletter editor demands cash for campaign coverage"]. I can see putting the pressure on. Being an independent business person and publisher is not easy these days. But this seems a bit ridiculous.

Update: I missed one other big race: Bob Danderson lost his mayoral seat in Berlin. I interviewed Danderson in 2006 when he challenged U.S. Rep. Charlie Bass in the GOP primary. He noted in his interview how he was a Republican who was able to get elected in a largely Democratic city. Well, that didn't last long.

FoxNews attacks decency?

Hmm:

See what I mean?

Editor's Note: It was suggested in a subtle way that I depersonalize the original version of this post. So, for the record, this is an edited version. I'm not one for editing stuff this way. I say what I mean and mean what I say. But, after reading it over a few times, I agree that it needed to be edited. The point is made without sharing horror stories.

A few months back, I wrote about the local weekly arts newspaper, The Hippo, advertising a job for a new features reporter. I posted the ad and then made a crack about how I was really sick and tired of media outlets in New Hampshire essentially selling the jobs in our state to people outside of our state. It seems to say, "Granite Staters need not apply." The Hippo didn't do this and I thanked them for it, not that it probably mattered to them.
But, lo and behold, look what I found on the New Hampshire Association of Broadcasters' Web site ... a New Hampshire Public Radio ad for a talk show producer.
Here is a segment of the ad:
NEW HAMPSHIRE OFFERS BUCOLIC NEW ENGLAND SCENERY AND IS A HAVEN FOR OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES LIKE HIKING, SKIING AND FISHING. NEW HAMPSHIRE IS ALSO A VERY AFFORDABLE PLACE TO LIVE WITH NO STATE INCOME TAX AND NO STATE SALES TAX. CONCORD, WHERE NHPR IS BASED, IS AN HOUR FROM BOSTON, FROM THE SEACOAST AND FROM WHITE MOUNTAIN NATIONAL FOREST.
Why would they post this listing on a New Hampshire job board? We know how great it is to live here ... we already do. You don't need to tell us that. The polite thing to do, which would probably net more potential job applicants, would be to post a local notice without going on and on about how great it is to live here, and post a national notice like this one. Unless, of course, Granite Staters need not apply, and then, we get the point, thank you very much.
People may ask, what is the point? Well, the point is this: This is how the people covering your state get hired to cover your state. It is sickening when you think about the fact that media employers in our state, who may not know as much as others about New Hampshire, are telling you who is qualified and who is not qualified to tell the stories of our state.
I have been hearing that donations at NHPR are down right at a time when they need more money because they are expanding into a bigger location, at the old Blue Cross Blue Shield building in the South End of Concord [It is an exciting change for the network and it looks like a great space]. And this new show, not unlike another show proposed in 2005 called "The Current," which never went anywhere, seems like a new opportunity for them. But one has to wonder where the money will come from.
Earlier this year, they didn't limit the amount of donations for the Prius raffle whereas last year, the odds were better because there was only X-amount of donations taken. Why limit the popular contest, especially when you need more $100 donations?
Back in April, a few weeks after the interview, I was asked to make another donation to NHPR. The phone conversation went something like this:

Pablo: Hi, I'm Pablo from NHPR. How are you tonight?Me: Fine.Pablo: We know you are a regular listener to NHPR so you know all the wonderful things we do, correct [or something like that]?Me: Actually, I just stopped listening to NHPR recently [Go ahead, ask me why, Pablo, ask me why! I really want you to tell you ...]Pablo: Oh, I'm sorry to hear that ... Can we sign you up for your annual contribution of $100?Me: No.Silence for a moment.Pablo: Well, can we renew your $35 annual membership.
Me: No, sorry.
Silence again [Come on Pablo, ask me why ...].
Pablo: OK, thank you for your continued support and we will talk to you again soon.
Me: OK, bye.
Come on people, you don't want to know why? Over the years, I have had to talk to people who weren't happy with the product I was employed to deliver. I ALWAYS ask why someone is canceling their subscription or canceling their ads. Always. Why didn't Pablo want to know? Shocking, isn't it?
Lastly, I wonder why any radio network with as many stations as NHPR, with a ton of employees gathering news and interviewing people, would ever need to hold listening sessions around the state to find out what the pulse of the state is or what listeners think? Doesn't that say a lot?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Price of Oil

Guest Perspective/Ralph Nader

Question of the day - who and what is determining the price of oil and your gasoline and home heating bills? Don’t ask Uncle Sam, because George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are running a regime marinated in oil that does not issue reports which explain the real determinants of petroleum pricing beyond the conventional supply-demand curves.

First, let us create a historical framework to provide some background. In the good ‘ole oil days, before the producer-countries’ cartel in the Third World gained pricing power, there were seven giant oil companies called the ‘seven sisters’ led by Standard Oil (now Exxon) and Shell. As chronicled in Robert Engler’s classic book, "The Brotherhood of Oil," they were able to affect pricing through extra-market means. Economists called them a tight oligopoly.

OPEC later took their place at the table in the mid to late Seventies and set the price of crude oil at highly publicized meetings of the various member countries representatives from the Middle East, South America and Africa. Adjusting, ‘seven sisters’ concentrated their pricing and supply power downstream at the refining, pipeline and marketing levels.

Pricing power was never total but it was always complex, occurring in the interstices of an industry few outsiders understood, and fewer regulators could affect. Besides, natural gas was de-regulated between 1978 and 1993, after which its prices really took off.

Today, a third party has moved to the table - the New York Mercantile Exchange, a similar operates in London and a new one in Dubai. There, boisterous traders buy and sell futures contracts on the delivery of oil. But as Ben Mezrich, the author of the new book, "Rigged," said recently, the dollar amounts of these futures contracts are far, far larger than the actual oil deliveries they represent as they turn over and over at the Mercantile Exchange.

So now the critical resource of oil is driven by speculation at ever higher abstract electronic levels of futures trading. Increasingly, the distance becomes greater and greater between this abstract trading (fueled by rumors of storms in the Gulf of Mexico, or some possible political turmoil in a region of the world, or some other frightful excuse for bidding up) and the physical supply and demand for oil and its refined products.

These oil gamblers in New York and London try to justify their frenetic daily bidding by saying that these futures markets provide liquidity, and a clear price for oil. Alright, but who benefits when, how and where?

Certainly, the strain between physical supply and demand in recent years does not explain such extreme volatility. With OPEC countries down to supplying only 40 percent of the world production, Chinese demand for oil growing fast, and the expansion of production by Saudi Arabia and others to meet this demand, crude oil supplies are not tight enough to explain such pricing behavior.

Old factors like inadequate oil company investment in refinery capacity, longer down times for repairs than some observers believe necessary, and the slumping dollar are factors that western governments, especially the Bush regime, have not wanted to investigate. After all, with consumers paying sky-high prices for these fuels, free market theorists are supposed to expect expanded supplies from recoverable reserves to grow. But, of course, the global market for oil is anything but a free market from the producers- both corporate and governmental- toward the downstream companies to the consumers.

In recent days, the price of crude oil escalated to over $90 a barrel, fluctuating up to a high of $96 a barrel. Yet the average price of gasoline in the United States - around $3 per gallon - is about what it was earlier this year when the price of crude oil was around $60 a barrel. Why the disconnect?

“It’s a big gambling hall,” The Washington Post quotes Fadel Gheit, an oil analyst at Oppenheimer. “This time it’s just speculation,” Peter C. Fusaro, chairman of Global Change Associates, told the Post, adding, “There’s a large bet out there that prices will continue to trend higher. But it’s detached from fundamentals because there’s no shortage of oil.”

Meanwhile, the government of Big Oil runs Washington, D.C. It thumbed its nose at pleas from then Chairman of the powerful Finance Committee, Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) who asked the major companies, swimming in massive profits, to contribute some charitable dollars to help the poor pay for their winter home heating bills, and has smugly watched the major Presidential candidates avoid the subject in their debates and declarations.

Oil companies seem to spend more executive effort looking for oil by merging with other companies (note the unchallenged merger of Exxon and Mobil under the Clinton administration) than with developing efficient oil-producing and consuming technology or expanding their solar energy subsidiaries.

So long as the price of crude oil is set by speculators on trading floors, so long as the oil-indentured politicians are not challenged by new candidates standing tall for people and environments, so long as we do not protest for change and press ourselves to prevent wasteful habits and uses, get ready for higher oil prices.

Interesting elections all around

Folks interested in some of the Concord election stuff can go here: OurConcord.com.
In ManchVegas, Republican Frank Guinta won reelection, with less than 20,000 people voting.
In other races, there are two significant races to look at and, since I lived in both locations, I still keep track of the races.
First, over in Somerville, there is another squeaker in the at-large alderman race, with the fourth and fifth finisher 21 votes apart: ["RECOUNT! Lafuente 'definitely' demands ballots be impounded"].
In Boston, the city's first Latino councilor, Felix Arroyo, goes down to defeat reaching for his third term: ["City of Boston, Election Results"]. More than 3,400 votes separate Arroyo to newcomer John Connolly, so there won't be a recount there. Just 15 percent of the city voted.
Two quick points: 1) Arroyo got trounced, proving hunger strike campaigns don't work, and, 2) again, for the whateverth time, there is no "New Boston."

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Destroying the Rule of Law

Guest Perspective By Ralph Nader

Every law student promptly learns the national ideal that our country is governed by the rule of law, not the rule of men. Today, the rule of law is under attack.

Such activities have become a big business and, not surprisingly, they have involved big business.

On October 25th, Secretary Condoleeza Rice officially recognized before a House Oversight Committee that, remarkably, there was no law covering the misbehavior of Blackwater Corporation and their private police in Iraq.

Any crimes of violence committed by Blackwater and other armed contractors commissioned by the Defense and State Departments to perform guard duty and other tasks, fell into a gap between Iraqi law, from which they have been exempted by the U.S. military occupation and the laws of the United States.

Since the United States government is ruled by lawless men in the White House who have violated countless laws and treaties, Bush and Cheney clearly had no interest in placing giant corporate contractors operating inside Iraqi jurisdiction under either the military justice system or the criminal laws of the United States.

Presidential power has accumulated over the years to levels that would have alarmed the founding fathers whose constitutional framework never envisioned such raw unilateral power at the top of the Executive branch. Accordingly, they only provided for the impeachment sanction. They neither gave citizens legal standing to go to court and hold the Presidency accountable, or to prevent the two other branches from surrendering their explicit constitutional authority-such as the war-making power-to the Executive branch. The federal courts over time have refused to adjudicate cases they deem “political conflicts” between the Legislative and Executive branches or, in general, most foreign policy questions.

Being above the law’s reach, Bush and Cheney can and do use the law in ways that inflict injustice on innocent people. Politicizing the offices of the U.S. Attorneys by the Justice Department, demonstrated by Congressional hearings, is one consequence of such Presidential license. Political law enforcement, using laws such as the so-called PATRIOT Act, is another widespread pattern that has drag netted thousands of innocent people into arrests and imprisonment without charges or adequate legal representation. Or the Bush regime’s use of coercive plea bargains against defendants who can’t afford leading, skilled attorneys.

Books and law journal articles have been written about times when government violates the laws. They are long on examples but short on practical remedies of what to do about it.

Corporations and their large corporate law firms have many ways to avoid the laws. First, they make sure that when Congress writes legislation, the bills advance corporate interests. For example, numerous consumer safety laws have no criminal penalties for the violations, or only the most nominal fines. The regulatory agencies often have very weak subpoena powers or authority to set urgent and mandatory safety standards without suffering years or even decades of corporate-induced delays.

If the laws prove troublesome, the corporations make sure that enforcement budgets are ridiculously tiny, with only a few federal cops on the beat. The total number of Justice Department attorneys prosecuting the corporate crime wave of the past decade, running investors, pensioners and workers into trillions of dollars of losses and damaging the health and safety of many patients and other consumers, is smaller than just one of the top five largest corporate law firms.

Out in the marketplace, environment and the workplace, the corporations have many tools forged out of their unbridled power to block aggrieved people from having their day in court or getting agencies or legislatures to stand up for the common folk.

Companies can wear down or deter plaintiffs from obtaining justice by costly motions and other delaying tactics. When people get into court and obtain some justice, the companies move toward the legislature to restrict access to the courts. This is grotesquely called “tort reform”-- which takes away the rights of harmed individuals but not the corporations’ rights to have their day in court.

Lush amounts of campaign dollars grease the way for corporations in the legislatures in the fifty states and on Capitol Hill.

As if that power to pass their own laws is not enough, large corporations become their own private legislatures. You’ve been confronted with those fine-print standard form agreements asking you to sign on the dotted line if you wish to secure insurance, tenancy, credit, bank services, hospital treatment, or just a job.

Those pages of fine print are corporations regulating you! You can’t cross any of them out.

You can’t go across the street to a competitor- say from Geico to State Farm, or from Citibank to the Bank of America, because there is no competition over these fine-print contracts, with their dotted signature lines. Unless, that is, they compete over how fast they require you to give up your rights to go to court or to object to their unilaterally changing the terms of the agreement, such as in changing the terms of your frequent flier agreement on already accumulated miles

Oh, for the law schools that provide courses on the rule of men over the rule of law.

Oh, for the time when there when there will be many public interest law firms working just on these portentous dominations of concentrated power to deny open and impartial uses of the laws to achieve justice and accountability.