Thursday, January 30, 2003

Pirozzi heading to Iowa for Kerry
Belmont gal Angelique Pirozzi is leaving town soon to organize Iowa for the Kerry for President Campaign, according to a recent email. Pirozzi is a protégé of uber-Dem Mike Whouley, the man who basically helped run Al Gore’s campaign into the ground. Here is what he told Mass. Dems attending the convention in 2000, as reported by David Nyhan of The Boston Globe:
"We're going to win this election,'' said Whouley, and he ran down the polling and electoral vote situation for the audience of insiders. He derided Bush's double-digit polling lead as ''footsteps in the sand,'' based on an illusory appeal to ''values, personality, integrity,'' that can be whittled down by expert attack. Gore's been only ''a two-dimensional'' figure because ''he stood behind a larger-than-life president,'' said Whouley, while Bush built his lead as ''the anti-Clinton, throw-the-bums-out, I'm a nice guy'' crusader. ''Bush is playing with the house money,'' which he defined as ''nominal Democrats, persuadable voters.'' Whouley ticked off favorable portents and recent successes in key Midwestern states, and predicted more gains ''once we move this thing to archery range.'' The Dems will scorch Bush for colluding with polluters in Texas and ''turning them into regulators,'' with sacrificing interests of uninsured children and elders to big money contributors, he said.
Oh how wrong he was. And well, okay, Gore drove Gore’s campaign into the ground. But if you know inside ball in Boston politics, you know about Whouley – he is a top dollar, bare bones kind of player. Some people like him and some people hate him. Nuff said.
But back to Pirozzi – who I interviewed while working as a reporter for the Belmont Citizen-Herald when she was hired to run Kerry’s 2002 Senate reelection campaign – a virtual cakewalk – since Long Jawn had minor competition in ignored Libertarian Michael Cloud. She was also Gore’s point person in Wisconsin during the general election and a field organizer in Iowa during the primary. Pirozzi has also been immortalized in David Kaplan’s recent book, "The Accidental President:"
Angelique Pirozzi was field director and had been in Iowa for months. Whouley had been there five weeks. One afternoon, Pirozzi was sick to her stomach with a fever and the flu. "I’m going to throw up," she told Whouley. "Okay,'"he answered, "go out to the alley, throw up, and then come back and get to work." She did and she did.
This is prime time for her: A chance to reestablish relationships made last time around and organize a state that is going to be exceedingly difficult for Kerry to win. We have had dinner and gossip sessions on occasion and despite her glossy-eyed view of the Democratic Party, she is a pretty good person and Kerry is lucky to have her.
Greider gets it right: Bubba has to go
William Greider has a great piece in The Nation concerning problems with the Democratic Party ["Still Clinton's Show?"]. Let us hope someone is reading out there.
"Another approach to war and tax cuts"
Here is my column from this week's The Winchester Star:

In recent days, the Bush administration has firmed up its plans for a unilateral attack against Iraq in an effort to oust Saddam Hussein. At the same time, the president has also unveiled a tax cut "stimulus package" that basically transfers even more wealth to the richest 5 percent of the nation. But one has to wonder who is running the president's strategy and what the heck they are thinking about?

To start, the outpouring of anti-war sentiment is overwhelming. Hundreds of thousands of people honored Martin Luther King Jr. by spending a freezing Saturday afternoon rallying at the Capitol to protest Bush's war plans. Undetermined numbers of others participated in smaller rallies in communities all across the nation, including Winchester.

I watched the rally on C-Span, from the comfort of my favorite chair, and was amazed and proud to be an American. Even though it is more than a week later, it still strikes me as a moving tribute to the freedoms we have in our nation when people take advantage of their civil rights and peacefully assemble.

But since that time, a number of conservative columnists have taken pot-shots at the organizers of the DC rally - a group called ANSWER - calling it a front for sympathizers of Islamic Jihad, communism, terrorists or any other name they could come up with.

ANSWER stands for "Act Now to Stop the War & End Racism!" and to be accurate, some members of the organization are admitted socialists. But that doesn't mean they are terrorists or communists and this kind of name calling against people who don't want a war is both disingenuous and foolish.

If anything, these people were being conservative and patriotic, using their God-given rights to assemble and protest against their government in what they believe is potentially an unnecessary, expensive and wasteful war.

And while most of the speakers at the rally were one-sided on the issue of Palestinian rights - which admittedly grew tiresome to listen to after awhile - most of the crowd was white and middle class. They were ordinary Americans, the same people you see at your jobs and in town every day. And just as many other speakers were elected Democrats who want the $100 to $200 billion that is going to be spent on the war with Iraq to be spent domestically instead. Rebuilding schools, job training, small business loans, and lower and middle class tax cuts to encourage growth in the economy, were all on the agenda of protesters - hardly proposals put forth by Osama bin Laden or Hussein.

In fact, these are some of the same ideas promoted by elected officials of both parties on the local and national level as a way to turn the economy around.

Winchester is currently facing a $2.4 million hole in next year's budget. Most other cities and towns in the state are facing the same problem. Leaders are expecting to slash budgets. They will lay off teachers and decimate public safety budgets and staffing - never mind the other jobs like public works and administration staffing - in an effort to balance budgets.

These actions are irresponsible at best, especially when our nation still has homeland defense issues to address. And with Bush pushing us into an unpopular war - both here and abroad - who knows what kind of work our firefighters and police officers be engaged in over the coming months. Not to mention the teachers who will be addressing a number of war-time emotions from our children.

The other option for cities and towns will be to promote Proposition 2 1/2 overrides to raise funds to save these services - an unpopular and risky venture in a down economy at a time when residents are already paying high property taxes.

But there is another option, promoted by the Economic Policy Institute [EPI] in a paper released to counter the Bush tax cut proposal [].

The group's stimulus package includes a one-time grant of $110 billion to states to offset law enforcement costs, extend unemployment benefits and cover school repair and renovation costs. This money is badly needed by cities and towns in our state and could eliminate the need for overrides or layoffs.

The EPI is also promoting a one-time "wage bonus" or income tax cut of 3.5 percent on the first $15,000 of wages earned. Essentially, this cut would give everyone who earned more than $15,000 last year - 149 million American workers - a $525 refund. A two-income family would receive $1,050. This would give residents more than enough money to cover an override and have some spending money or savings left over.

In the end, only you can take action to make your lives better. The EPI stimulus package and a sensible, sane foreign policy are steps in the right direction.

Monday, January 27, 2003

From Ari & I
Below is the latest between Ari Fleischer [Bush's spokeman] and Russell Mokhiber from this afternoon's press briefing. Doesn't this really say it all?

Mokhiber: The San Francisco Chronicle reported yesterday that a number of major American corporations -- including Hewlett-Packard and Bechtel -- helped Saddam Hussein beef up its military in the 1980s. And also the Washington Post last month in a front-page article by Michael Dobbs said the United States during the '80s supplied Iraq with cluster bombs, intelligence and chemical and biological agents. In that same article, they reported that Donald Rumsfeld, now Secretary of Defense, went to Baghdad in December 1983 and met with Saddam Hussein, and this was at a time when Iraq was using chemical weapons almost on a daily basis in defiance of international conventions. So there are some specifics, and the question is -- if Iraq is part of the axis of evil, why aren't the United States and these American corporations part of the axis of evil for helping him out during his time of need?

Ari Fleischer: Russell, as I indicated, I think that you have to make a distinction between chemical and biological. And, clearly, in a previous era, following the fall of the Shah of Iran, when there was a focus on the risks that were underway in the region as a result of the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Iran, different administrations, beginning with President Carter, reached different conclusions about the level of military cooperation vis-a-vis Iraq. Obviously, Saddam Hussein since that time has used whatever material he had for the purpose therefore of attacking Kuwait, attacking Saudia Arabia, attacking Israel. And, obviously, as circumstances warrant, we have an approach that requires now the world to focus on the threat that Saddam Hussein presents and that he presents this threat because of his desire to continue to acquire weapons and his willingness to use those weapons against others.

Mokhiber: If I could follow up on that --

Ari Fleischer: Russell. Russell.

Mokhiber: If I could follow-up on it. You and the President have repeatedly said one of the reasons Saddam is part of the axis of evil is because he's gassed his own people. Well, he gassed his own people with our help. You saw the Washington Post article, didn't you, by Michael Dobbs?

Ari Fleischer: I think that statement is not borne out by the facts.

Mokhiber: Did you see the Post article by Dobbs?

Ari Fleischer: I think that he gassed his own people as a result of his decisions to use his weapons to gas his own people.

Mokhiber: But who gave him the weapons?

Ari Fleischer: And I think the suggestion that you blame America for Iraq's actions is way beyond the pale.

Mokhiber: Who gave him the weapons?

(Ari moves on.)


White House reporter Russell Mokhiber is the editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter. He co-authors the weekly Focus on the Corporation column with Robert Weissman which Common Dreams publishes. He can be reached at:

Sunday, January 26, 2003

Sharpton removed from poll
The Rev. Al Sharpton has been removed from a straw poll conducted weekly by
The reason? Poor showings.
According to their posts, the bottom two candidates in the poll each week are eliminated from future polls. Sharpton, who bottomed out Nov. 28, has been kept off each poll since then despite increased media coverage and being the only announced black candidate running for the Democratic nomination. As well, is also encouraging the candidacy of former Ill. senator Carol Moseley Braun, a straw of another kind being foisted into the primaries. This week both Rep. Dick Gephardt and Vt. Senator Jim Jeffords, a former Republican and now independent, finished in the bottom of the field and will be removed from future straw polls.
This all seems ridiculous, especially from Democrats who constantly preach inclusion.
Why keep off serious and announced candidates just because they may have a bad week? What good does that do?
California group moves to impeach Bush
Various Democrats around the country are quietly organizing petitions and meeting with their representatives about filing formal impeachment papers against the president over the secrecy and prior knowledge of the Sept. 11 attacks: ["Beating the drums for justice: Calls for Bush's impeachment for 9–11"]. The grounds for a possible prior knowledge charge are pretty strong ones, although probably not against Bush but other people in the administration. In addition, there has always been an aching in my jaw about the fact that Sept. 11 happened at the same time that the media consortium was planning on releasing the information about the Florida recounts. This information was delayed after the attacks and released two months later, to the day. The verdict reached by many: If there had been a state-wide, hand recount, and the votes of people who were stupid and both punched a hole for Al Gore, as well as wrote-in his name on the same ballot, Gore would have won the state of Florida and therefore, the presidency. It should be noted that while Florida does not have an "intent of the voter" law in recounts, Texas does. That law was signed into law by Bush when he was governor. Counting and analyzing the intention of voters was also promoted and approved of in other recount cases by Ken Starr.
Sure, it is all a little conspiratorial and nothing will probably be done about it. Hey, the BATF knew about the Oklahoma City bombing before it happened and none of their agents have been brought up on charges. Now people believe Jose Padilla might have been involved [].
What makes anyone think that this will work against Bush?

Friday, January 24, 2003

Total Information Awareness funding blocked
Well, it's about time the United States Senate got its act together against the creeping fascism that is overwhelming our government. Yesterday, it blocked funding, by voice vote, for the Pentagon's Total Information Awareness project []. It still has to go to the House for passage and the Pentagon could just ignore the congress and fund it out of its black operations budget. But let's just say that this is a good first step in reeling in the fascists.
Kennedys endorse in 2004
Hmm. So, Sen. Ted Kennedy endorses Sen. John Kerry ["Kennedy endorses Kerry for president"] while his son, Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I. - the rehabbed cokehead otherwise known as "Patches" - endorses Rep. Dick Gephardt ["Patrick Kennedy says he'll back Gephardt"]. Very interesting.

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Nader as a Dem in 2004?

Seth Gitell, the political reporter for the Boston Phoenix, speculated this week that Ralph Nader should consider running as a Dem in 2004, and then duck out and run as a Green if he lost:
According to some in Nader’s circle, among the 2004 electoral possibilities for the 2000 Green Party presidential candidate is the tactic of entering the Democratic primary as a Democrat, and then, when he loses, running in the general election as either an independent or a Green. This would enable Nader to receive the publicity of a primary season, gain inclusion — along with Sharpton and other progressive Democratic candidates — in debates, and possibly even earn federal matching funds to fuel a campaign. On the Republican side, this strategy was considered, and rejected, by Arizona senator John McCain in 2000.
"It’s technically possible," says one McCain-camp source. " The problem is that the room for such a candidate is not on the fringes — the far right or the far left — but in the vital center. Whether the Democrats would allow it is unclear. But it could be one interesting scenario to look for as the 2004 race draws closer."

Why the Rev. Al Sharpton can not be dismissed ...

From the NY Post today, in a piece entitled "Sharpton candidacy giving Dems the jitters" by Deborah Orin, she noted that:
... most other Democratic candidates seemed a bit cowed while Sharpton and [Vermont Gov. Howard] Dean - the two Democrats who are farthest to the left and the most passionate speakers - got the loudest cheers from activists at Tuesday's dinner for the pro-choice lobbying group NARAL. One Democratic strategist says: "We pray for Carol Moseley-Braun" - the former Illinois senator who's the only black woman elected to the U.S. Senate. The hope is she'll join the race and draw some support away from Sharpton.
The Democrats: The "party of the people" - [Hah!] the fighters of the common man - [Hah!] the ones who lecture the rest of us about affirmative action, equal access, and openness in the democratic process - [Hah!] - basically hijacking Sharpton and limiting the chances of the only black candidate from his right to run for president. I would bet just about anything that Democrats set the fire at the National Action Network HQ this week.
Bush under 50 percent in polls with Dem candidates
In early polling done by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News via the Drudge Report shows that 41% "will probably vote for President Bush" if he runs for reelection in 2004; 34 percent will "probably vote for the Democratic candidate," 3 percent will "vote for another party's candidate," 16 percent said it "depends on who his opponent is," 6 percent were not sure.
Of the likely Democratic candidates, Bush beats Lieberman 50 to 34, Bush beats Gephardt 51 to 32, Bush beats Kerry 48 to 31. It's amazing that so many people would be undecided or voting for other candidates, essentially Ralph Nader or the Libertarian candidate, since the Reform Party is all but nonexistent.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Sharpton’s theme song: “Livin’ in America”
On last night’s "Pleasure Pit" show on WRKO 680 AM, host Virgin Boy [VB] discussed with listeners – in mocking tone – who was the better black candidate: the Rev. Jesse Jackson or the Rev. Al Sharpton. He also asked for suggestions of theme songs for the Sharpton campaign. Along the way, VB played some hilarious Jackson clips [sans the side-splitting “Stay outta dah Bushes” from the 2000 Democratic Convention] and took calls from listeners.
One caller suggested any James Brown song like “I feel good.” But VB couldn’t get “Sex machine” out of his head. Another caller suggested James Brown “Livin’ in America” from the “Rocky IV” film, which had a number of callers laughing for most of the night.
But at least one caller said Sharpton’s campaign should not be laughed at – adding that he is the only candidate opposing a war with Iraq or the free trade deals such as NAFTA backed by most of the other Democrats. Pointing to a Pat Buchanan win in NH in 1996 with 23 percent of the vote, and a 37 percent turnout in 1992, who knows what could happen if Sharpton could harness voter anger in the Granite State, the caller said.
Plus, the caller added, imagine how hilarious it will be seeing Sharpton slam-dancing to Nine Inch Nails ala Alan Keyes in 2000 on MTV. On prank value alone, a vote for Sharpton is NH is worth it and when Sharpton gets to South Carolina, who knows, the caller concluded.
VB agreed – with reservations – but said that an extended Sharpton campaign would make the primaries interesting.
"Pleasure Pit" can be heard from weeknights from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. on 680 AM WRKO.
Kill Fenway: Save Boston
Thank you Cosmo! The Boston Herald's Cosmo Macero, who always did a pretty good job covering the controversy surrounding the Boston Red Sox megaplex proposal, has written a pretty good column today promoting the Sox move to Southie. []. Way to go.
Bush rally boxes: Made in China
Anyone see the Bush tax cut/war rally/speech this afternoon live from J S Logistics, a trucking, courier and warehouse business in St. Louis? Did you notice all the "Made in USA" boxes as the backdrop for his speech?
Well, leave it to the Washington Times' Bill Sammons who was videotaped on FoxNews exposing the fact that the boxes were all marked “Made in China” but covered up with tape or ink, hiding the Chinese labels.
When questioned about the boxes, the Bush administration blamed "an overzealous volunteer."
Yeah, right. Friggin' liars.
When is a frat party not a frat party?
San Jose frat brawl leaves one dead, several injured
Published 9:00 a.m. PST Wednesday, January 22, 2003
SAN JOSE, Calif.(AP) - An early morning brawl between members of two rival fraternities armed with sticks and knives left one young man dead and several others injured Wednesday. The large group of fraternity members gathered shortly after midnight at a park in the northeast section of the city, police said. One man died in the fight. His name was not released. Police did not immediately say which fraternities were involved with the brawl or what led to the violent confrontation.
What are they putting in the keg these days?

Monday, January 20, 2003

Gephardt leading in Zogby poll
Early Iowa Polling Shows Gephardt With Slight Lead Over Lieberman; Kerry Places 3rd; 60% Say Bush Re-Election Likely, Zogby Poll Reveals
Democratic Presidential hopefuls toured Iowa over the weekend looking for support. In a poll of 480 likely Democratic voters conducted by Zogby International January 17-19, Congressman Richard Gephardt of Missouri leads the pack at 19%, followed by Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman (17%) and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry (11%). No other candidate earned more than 5% support.
Six in ten of the likely Democratic voters surveyed said it is likely that President Bush will be re-elected, 40% somewhat likely and 20% very likely.
More than a third (37%) are unsure which candidate they’ll support in the January 2004 caucus in Iowa. When asked how likely they are to change their mind in the coming year, three in four (75%) say somewhat or very likely. One in five (20%) say they won’t change their mind.
When questioned if there were candidates they would never vote for, nearly one in four (37%) said ‘yes.” Leading the ‘would never vote for” list were civil rights advocate Al Sharpton (32%), Gary Hart (19%), Lieberman (10%) and Gephardt (8%).
Candidate Would Never Vote For: Sharpton 32%; Hart 19%; Lieberman 10%; Gephardt 8%.
Unfamiliarity with candidates in Iowa remains a hurdle for many of the hopefuls. More than eight in ten likely Democratic voters (82%) said they were not familiar with Vermont Governor Howard Dean. Florida Senator Bob Graham polled a 65% “not familiar,” followed by North Carolina Senator John Edwards at 64%. Al Sharpton has a 55% unfamiliar rating, followed by Kerry (41%), Hart (23%), Lieberman (18%) and Gephardt (17%).
The Iowa poll was the initial poll in a Zogby subscription series, “The Road to Boston,” which pollster John Zogby said will measure voter values and preferences leading up to the Democratic National Convention in Boston in 2004. Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina will be polled quarterly through year-end, he said.
Draft Gore?
Okay, it had to happen but ... ugh ... draft Gore? No thanks.
Dubuque Telegraph Herald welcomes Kerry
"Welcome, Senator
Drudgery: Not all Dubuquers take offense; few like fund-raising
Dear Sen. Kerry:
Welcome to Dubuque!
You might be apprehensive about bringing your fledgling presidential campaign to Dubuque today after you appeared to disparage the city.
In 1996, you told the Boston Globe, "I hate going to places like Austin and Dubuque to raise large sums of money. But I have to." That old quote found new life the other day on the Drudge Report internet site.
The resultant publicity gave some folks the opportunity to feign outrage and to profess civic pride.
(Drudge quoted offended "Dubuque resident Marsha Vittal." How the site found her - or selected her, out of tens of thousands of Dubuquers - we are not sure. Indeed, we are not even sure there is a Marsha Vittal in Dubuque. If she does exist, she is not a registered voter.)
If people would set aside their parochial indignation for a minute and take another look at your quote, they should see that it concerned fund-raising, not Dubuque as a travel destination or place to live.
Not many people in Dubuque like asking their neighbors and associates for money, either.
Anyway, soon this tempest will pass. Enjoy your time in Dubuque today, and come back soon."

Saturday, January 18, 2003

CNN/Time poll: Country in "deep and serious trouble" ...
From Drudge:
Sat Jan 18 2003 8 12:49:33 ET
New York -- Over half of Americans (53%) polled approve of the job George W. Bush is doing as president, according to the latest TIME/CNN poll. His approval rating has dropped slightly from 55% a TIME/CNN poll in December. Over half (56%) say the country is in deep and serious trouble, while over a third (39%) say the problems we face today are no worse than at any other time in recent years. Only a quarter (27%) think economic conditions will get better in the next 12 months, down from 35% in October 2002. Over half (51%) think Bush is doing a poor job handling the economy, while half (50%) think he is doing a good job handling foreign policy. The TIME/CNN poll was conducted by Harris Interactive by telephone among 1,010 adult Americans age 18 or older Jan. 15-16, 2003. Margin of error for total sample is +/- 3.1%.
Shoe bomber explosion simulation vs. Murrah building explosion simulation
Okay, so I am watching MSNBC this morning present prosecution evidence in the Richard Reid shoe bomber case. Apparently, the simulators took the same amount of plastique explosives that were in the guy’s shoes, placed it where he was sitting, and ignited the fuse. The explosion caused a massive hole in the fuselage of the plane, which broke in half. Larry Johnson, an ex-deputy director of the State Department's office of counterterrorism, was the guest, and he didn’t think the simulation was accurate. As an aside, Johnson is one of many people who believe that there is a connection between the Sept. 11 attacks and Oklahoma City bombing but heaven forbid MSNBC should allow that information over it's cable lines.
However, as I was watching this simulation, all I could think about was another simulation that was never presented by the mainstream press.
That simulation was the reenactment of the bombing of the Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City. According to numerous published reports, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms [BATF] spent months simulating the Ryder truck explosion in order to present evidence to the jury determining the fate of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. But unfortunately, despite numerous attempts to mix thousands of pounds of ammonium nitrate fertilizer and diesel fuel oil [ANFO], the BATF was never able to duplicate the Ryder truck explosion and this “evidence” was never presented to the jury and has never surfaced.
However, one former military official, an explosives expert may have had the key all along.
Former Air Force Brigadier General Ben Partin looked at the damage of the building and pointed to the third floor columns and said that he knew an air blast from a truck on the street level would have never destroyed the reinforced concrete and steel of the building. Partin said he believed that charges had been planted in order to collapse columns.
Now granted, Partin is a former cold warrior who probably believes that the Democratic Party is a bunch of communists. But that doesn’t mean that a simulation shouldn’t have been reported, analyzed, or exposed by the press. We never saw this and hence were never able to question whether or not a Ryder truck filled with manure could actually destroy a huge building.
Al Sharpton could be elected ...
if every person at the protest rally today kicked in $100 and 10 hours a week in their states on his behalf. While watching the rally on C-Span today, I am amazed and proud. However, it isn't enough to protest. Political action and campaign organizing on the street level is the only way to create real change. That means more than marching and protesting. It means voter listing, phone calling, registering, and politicking.
Unfortunately, most of these people protesting don't get it and refuse to do the work it takes to win elections and kick these bums out.
Voter News Service - good riddance
Major news organizations announced Monday they are disbanding Voter News Service, the consortium they had built to count votes and conduct surveys on Election Day. The decision follows two major election-night failures in a row by VNS.
Everyone knows what happened in Florida during the 2000 election when the mainstream press was based their data on exit polling done by VNS Essentially, VNS had pollsters outside of polling locations in certain areas of the country trying to get a random sampling of the electorate. Unfortunately, VNS wasn't always in the best places and what if people lied during the exit polls?
The main reason that VNS was created in the first place was to pool resources from the news organizations. But if you think about it, the amount of people hired to be at all those exit polls could easily be manning phones and calling town clerk offices around states attempting to get accurate and timely vote totals in essentially the same manner that machine politicians have the vote totals called into their campaign offices.
Ever wonder how a candidate knows they have won or lost at like 8:30 p.m. at night? That's how. By having tons of volunteers at polling locations, calling in the totals. There is no reason why news agencies can't do the same thing and become competitive news gathering organizations again.
In the end, a statistical sampling will probably still need to be used by news organizations for data on opinions and issues. But let's keep the actual vote tallies actual.

"Poor" John Kerry hates fund-raising

Drudge reports this week that our junior senator who wants to be president "detests" having to fund-raise:
On the eve of a fundraising trip to Dubuque, Iowa -- quotes surface which detail Kerry's feelings about trips to Dubuque.
"I hate it. I detest it," Kerry told a Boston reporter in 1996.
Kerry will attend church services on Sunday in Dubuque with state Rep. Patrick Murphy, and have lunch with activists in Dubuque.
"I hate going to places like Austin and Dubuque to raise large sums of money. But I have to," Kerry revealed to the BOSTON GLOBE.
So far, Kerry has collected slightly more than $10,000 from Iowa residents, insiders tell the DRUDGE REPORT.
"I am sorry he hates coming here and taking our money!" Dubuque resident Marsha Vittal said in anger on Friday. "He wants to be my president, but he detests, detests coming to where I've chosen to live my life, to ask for support?!"
A Kerry staffer explained the senator holds no personal dislike of Dubuque or its residents.
"He's actually very excited to be making the trip this weekend," said the insider.
Note to Long Jawn: This is a perfect opportunity to talk about campaign finance reform although you have lost a lot of credibility on the issue. You once limited your contributions to $250. No more. You once refused political action committee [PAC] money. Now you take PAC money [77 percent from business in 2002 according to] and now you have your own PAC [The Citizen Soldier Fund]. Then, you decided to drop your $10,000 limit on contributions to your PAC so you can take huger sums of money. You raised $940,000 for your fund last year. Some "citizen" fund.
On second thought, don't talk about campaign finance reform John.
Takin' it to the streets ...
There are a number of decent articles on the Web the last few days about the emerging protests surrounding the MLK Day celebrations and the upcoming war with Iraq.
Here is one from Alternet []. Despite the frigid tempatures, huge crowds are expected across the nation. It is nice to see this all happening. Not only because it is our civic duty as Americans to assemble when we think there is injustice, but it is pretty obvious to most that this war with Iraq is unnecessary. One person who put it best this week was John le Carre in his piece suggested our nation has gone mad: ["The United States of America has gone mad"]:
In America, where all men are equal in His sight, if not in one another’s, the Bush family numbers one President, one ex-President, one ex-head of the CIA, the Governor of Florida and the ex-Governor of Texas. Care for a few pointers?
George W. Bush, 1978-84: senior executive, Arbusto Energy/Bush Exploration, an oil company; 1986-90: senior executive of the Harken oil company. Dick Cheney, 1995-2000: chief executive of the Halliburton oil company
[Sidebar: Halliburton were allowed to build pipelines by the Clinton Administration in Iraq in 1998. More than likely, Cheney's friends can't wait to take control]. Condoleezza Rice, 1991-2000: senior executive with the Chevron oil company, which named an oil tanker after her. And so on. But none of these trifling associations affects the integrity of God’s work.
In 1993, while ex-President George Bush was visiting the ever-democratic Kingdom of Kuwait to receive thanks for liberating them, somebody tried to kill him. The CIA believes that “somebody” was Saddam. Hence Bush Jr’s cry: 'That man tried to kill my Daddy.' But it’s still not personal, this war. It’s still necessary. It’s still God’s work. It’s still about bringing freedom and democracy to oppressed Iraqi people.
To be a member of the team you must also believe in Absolute Good and Absolute Evil, and Bush, with a lot of help from his friends, family and God, is there to tell us which is which. What Bush won’t tell us is the truth about why we’re going to war. What is at stake is not an Axis of Evil — but oil, money and people’s lives. Saddam’s misfortune is to sit on the second biggest oilfield in the world. Bush wants it, and who helps him get it will receive a piece of the cake.
How true it is.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Praise for The Note
If you are looking for all the political news you can find, go to ABCNews' The Note which comes out almost daily. You can also subscribe to their daily email update.
Bill and Monica ... 5 years later
It's hard to believe it has been five years since Matt Drudge revealed the Clinton/Lewinski sex scandal on the internet. He relives all the gooey details today at

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Kennedy gets the budget crisis right
Speaking of Dan Kennedy, he gets the answers to the budget crisis dead on in his Media Log entry this morning:
Since the legislators lack both guts and brains, they're almost certain to go along, notwithstanding their plaintive cry to Romney to explain what he's got in mind. But they shouldn't. Here's what they ought to do: Borrow the $600 million needed to get through the rest of the fiscal year without any further cuts.
Reform the state tax system. That means going ahead with the voter-approved mandate to return the state income tax to five percent, but rethinking and possibly repealing the $3 billion to $4 billion in tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy that were passed during the 1990s. That's where the money is. Here's a good place to start: reversing the special-interest tax break that Fidelity got in the mid-'90s. Wonder what former Fidelity executive Robert Pozen -- currently receiving all kinds of praise for serving in the Romney administration without pay -- would think about that? Go after the hackerama head-on. Today's Herald reports that MDC commissioner David Balfour continues to run amok, and that virtually the first act of Tim for Treasurer was to reward one of Tom Finneran's coat-holders with the six-figure job of "running" the Lottery. Ugh.
It really is that simple.
Landing on your feet ... Part 2
The disgraced former head of Massport has been hired as the deputy editorial page editor of the Boston Herald. Virginia Buckingham was hired on Monday in what she hopes will be a new career as a writer. There has been a lot of back and forth about the Buckingham hire in media circles, like media critics Dan Kennedy of the Boston Phoenix and Boston Globe media critic Mark Jurkowitz. Kennedy stated in his Media Log entry Monday that people should "give Buckingham a chance." Others have been more skeptical.

Sunday, January 12, 2003

Sharpton on 'Meet the Press'
If you missed "Meet the Press" today you missed a good one. The Rev. Al Sharpton held his own against host Tim Russert, chatting up his presidential aspirations. When Russert asked Sharpton if he was raising money, he said no, adding that he was traveling around the country to find out what the American people think. The best line:
I think that part of what’s wrong with politics today is that we are too poll driven rather than pulse driven.
President Dennis? Who knows?
In Sunday’s Cleveland Plain Dealer, Tom Diemer has written a piece about the possible presidential candidacy of Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio: [
The former Mayor of Cleveland has risen to prominence after passionate speeches from the House floor attacking President Bush’s war against terrorism, escalating plans to attack Iraq, and the USA PATRIOT Act. And with the prospects of another corporate democrat being nominated for president [see "Contenders scramble" Politizine blog post from Jan. 5], some activists are looking for a true-blue progressive candidate at all costs.
As well, with the specter of another Ralph Nader Green Party candidacy in 2004, the democrats are wisely trying to find a candidate who cannot be as easily pummeled in the media as Al Gore was by Nader. In fact, Nader is quoted in the article, saying:
"There needs to be a clearly progressive candidate in the primaries. I hope he does [run]"
... giving some progressives the clout they may need to galvanize around a candidate like Kucinich. But The Nation’s Katha Pollitt says not so fast.
In a piece entitled "["Regressive Progressive?"]" from May 2002, Pollitt suggested that Kucinich may not be the great progressive hope for Democrats:
In his two terms in Congress, [Kucinich] has quietly amassed an anti-choice voting record of Henry Hyde-like proportions. He supported Bush's reinstatement of the gag rule for recipients of US family planning funds abroad. He supported the Child Custody Protection Act, which prohibits anyone but a parent from taking a teenage girl across state lines for an abortion. He voted for the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which makes it a crime, distinct from assault on a pregnant woman, to cause the injury or death of a fetus. He voted against funding research on RU-486. He voted for a ban on dilation and extraction (so-called partial-birth)abortions without a maternal health exception. He even voted against contraception coverage in health insurance plans for federal workers--a huge work force of some 2.6 million people (and yes, for many of them, Viagra is covered).
However, while a Kucinich candidacy could upset Pollitt and others who will hold their candidates to the abortion rights litmus test, others don’t seem to mind that Kucinich is not pro-choice:
It is time for a Kucinich candidacy to speak the truth, to relate to the everyday problems and concerns of Americans, to throw out the political-speak of those who reach out to Corporate America for their support and speak directly to the people and allow them to hear, in plain, clear terminology the truth about the blatant assault on their rights, the failure of their government to lead on the domestic problems facing the average working person, the war hungry insiders who want to fight first and talk later (while enriching defense contractors)," said Mike Swickey from Oklahoma and the creator of the Draft Kucinich Web site:

Saturday, January 11, 2003

Landing on your feet ...
Congratulations to Drew O'Brien who was recently appointed as the state director for Sen. John Kerry, a presidential aspirant: ["Kerry's staff in Boston gets local flavor"].
O'Brien, who Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr deemed a "hack" and targeted during the last gubernatorial campaign, was an aide for both Treasurer Shannon O'Brien and before that, Boston Mayor Tom Menino. He recently did a pretty good job running Chris Gabrieli's campaign for lieutenant governor. O'Brien is a good strategist, and Kerry was smart to pick him up. And as everyone knows, win or lose, good hacks always land on their feet somewhere.

Friday, January 10, 2003

Lieberman is no 'Scoop' Jackson
What is this obsession with journalists comparing possible presidential contender Sen. Joe Lieberman and the late Sen. Henry "Scoop" Jackson, a former Democratic presidential candidate?
Ever since Lieberman appeared on the Democratic ticket with Vice President Al Gore, the Connecticut Senator has been compared to the imposing and impressive Jackson. Locally, both Scot Lehigh of The Boston Globe [a few months ago] and now Seth Gitell of The Boston Phoenix have made the same comparisons ["Lieberman’s tough road ahead"].
But neither seems to have a grasp of Jackson, and the late senator is probably turning over in his grave. Sure, the two have some things in common: Both practiced Judaism, were "defense hawks," considered conservative Democrats, and soon, presidential candidates. But that is where the similarities end.
Most people don’t know much about Scoop Jackson but political history writers of the 1970s have covered the guy pretty extensively. Jackson spent 43 years serving Washington State both in Congress and the Senate where he concentrated his work on creating national parks, fighting communism, and international relations. He was first elected to Congress in 1940 and then served in the Army during World War II, and was elected to the Senate in 1952 where he served 30 years. Jackson was also a two-time presidential candidate – toying with the idea in 1972 and going all out in 1976, where he raised millions of dollars and won the Massachusetts and New York primaries.
But unlike Lieberman, Jackson was a rabid union supporter and had backing from both the leadership and rank-and-file of labor during his campaigns. Scoop’s slogan in 1976 was "Jackson means jobs!" In fact, Jackson probably would have sold his mother into slavery before ever voting for NAFTA or GATT which sent good Democratic union jobs overseas. Not like Lieberman who has never seen a wage slave he didn’t love.
Also, Jackson was:
... a tenacious foe of totalitarianism in all its forms, continually broke with liberals on national security issues by supporting higher defense budgets and asking tough questions about arms-control treaties ...
as stated by The Washington Times back in August. Lieberman, in some ways, can be considered similar since he was one of the sponsors of the Senate bill authorizing Bush to use force against Saddam. But Jackson fought totalitarianism of all kinds, especially global communism, which makes these little skirmishes with Iraq and North Korea seem miniscule. Lieberman only stands up to dictators when it is suitable – to the benefit of big oil and military contractors – while ignoring tyrants when it benefits free traders and the import industrial complex.
And despite his long public service to the state of Washington, Jackson was never a sleazy Democratic insider. From Jules Witcover’s book "Marathon," on the presidential campaign of 1976:
For all his dedication, for all his expertise, for all his campaign resources, [Jackson] always seemed an intruder – a brash, single-minded guy who didn’t belong, who didn’t fit in, who had to knock doors down because they were so seldom flung open for him.
As well, Jackson was an old-styled Democratic liberal where fighting for the working man was the most important job of a senator. This is quite the opposite of Lieberman who has been a lapdog of the Democratic Leadership Council, the corporate and conservative wing of the Democratic Party, for his entire career.
Here’s hoping the journalists can get a little more creative in their comparisons – or find out a little more about our history.

Thursday, January 9, 2003

Inslaw and Sept. 11
According to the Washington Times, William Hamilton, president of Inslaw Inc., has requested that the Commission on Terrorist Attacks look into the validity of published reports saying Osama bin Laden penetrated classified computer files before the attacks to evade detection and monitor the activities of U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
The link is at Maybe Danny Casolaro will find justice after all.
Speaking of Cuomo ...
Marie Cocco of Newsday thinks the Democrats need him:,0,7579215.column

Save 'Donahue'
For those of you who did not see my New Year's column published in The Winchester Star on Dec. 26, I opined my hope that 2003 would bring "good things." One of those things was an audience for the "Donahue" currently airing on the cable news channel MSNBC. Here is what I wrote then:

… I truly hope “Donahue,” the new show hosted by maverick Phil Donahue, will find some kind of audience on MSNBC. Rumors have been all over the Internet that the fledging news network is going to sack the show. This would be a real shame because the show is just about the only news program that features politically populist and progressive guests. The format, the standard Donahue roaming the audience with a microphone, is also the only program where normal people who show up can actually speak. As well, the producers of the show are covering important issues ignored by all the media. While other shows are blaming “communists” for the ever-growing peace movement, Donahue had a myriad of guests – from all political perspectives – to talk about the issues of war and peace. It makes an amazing difference to see an issue debated with intelligence instead of name-calling nonsense.

I bring the show up again to make a point about certain topics covered in the media, and this ridiculous nonsense about the media being "liberal," instead of "corporate," which is the problem.
Last week, "Donahue" had the topic of liberal vs. conservative media. I happened to miss the show but luckily Bill Berkowitz, a columnist with, didn’t and published this great article on the show: ["Down goes Goldberg! Down goes Goldberg!"]. The show’s guests were ex-CBS News reporter and author of "Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News" Bernard Goldberg, former Democratic Governor of New York and public radio talk host Mario Cuomo, comedian and author of "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot" Al Franken, and a conservative radio talk show host. And it seems as though they all had a pretty healthy discussion of the issues, with Franken, who apparently came well prepared for the show, nailing Goldberg on some references in his book that he could not substantiate and did not know about. You can read some of the transcript text in Berkowitz’s article.
According to the latest Drudge Report, Donahue’s talk show is earning a 0.4 share – tied for dead last – with Chris Matthews’ “Hardball” show in the cable news ratings war [And I am sure that Drudge just loves rubbing Phil’s face in it].
Now, I admit, I don’t always watch the "Donahue" show, although I try to. Sometimes, the topics don’t interest me. Sometimes, I am just too busy to watch any television. However, we are always complaining about the lack of good programming airing on television. This is a good show. So, maybe we should all make a concerted effort to try and watch the program before MSNBC pulls the plug.

Garvey: Why can’t we have a gutsy candidate for president?
Here is a pretty good column from the Wisconsin candidate for governor in 1998 also published on].
In the column, Garvey laments the fact that almost all the Democrats running for president look and sound alike. He then points to newly elected Brazilian president Luiz Lula da Silva who cancelled a $760 million fighter jet contract to pay for health care for the poor. Garvey says:
Imagine a Democratic candidate for president saying, "I will cancel all military contracts until every American has comprehensive health coverage."
We can only imagine Mr. Garvey.

Mitt’s first steps follow same old path
[My latest column published today in The Winchester Star]

Sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for.
This sentiment is probably hitting Gov. Mitt Romney right about now as he realizes just how difficult the job of being governor is going to be for the next four years.
After the rigorous campaign, it is obvious to all that major changes need to occur in how our state government runs. "Cleaning up the mess on Beacon Hill" was Romney’s major slogan, and he smartly targeted patronage jobs.
But right out of the box, Romney has fallen into the same patronage trap as past administrations. Take the recent salary waiver slipped into the news on New Year’s Eve.
Both Romney and Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey announced that they would forgo their salaries for the next four years. Since both are multi-millionaires and don’t need the money, it was a nice gesture, especially during rough economic times.
However, the next day, the true purpose of the waiver was revealed: They relinquished their salaries not to save the state money, but to give pay raises to their staffers. This, at a time when most people in the state are working harder and longer for less — if they are even working at all.
Romney told the media in a statement, "We face huge challenges in the coming year that require sacrifices of us all," adding that "This is a symbolic move that we hope sets the appropriate tone and which demonstrates our strong commitment to public service."
Sacrifice? Setting an appropriate tone? You’re kidding, right?
Take Eric Fehrnstrom, the former spokesman for disgraced Treasurer Joe Malone.
Fehrnstrom enters the New Year as the governor’s Communications Director, a newly created press position. The previous press secretary, James Borghesani, who worked for Gov. Jane Swift, received a pretty decent salary of $110,000. However, Romney felt Fehrnstrom deserved more — and will boost his media rep’s salary to $150,000 annually. At this price, Fehrnstrom will not only earn more than Swift was paid last year but almost five times what the average private sector worker takes home.
How is this sacrificing?
When he worked for Malone, Fehrnstrom was paid $95,000. During the campaign, Romney paid him about $6,700 a month. So, we know he can live comfortably on $110,000. Now, Fehrnstrom did do a pretty good job of guiding the secretive Romney through the media minefield, earning a press position in Romney’s administration. But does that warrant a pay raise — never mind, salary — which is more then most people in the state earn? Will Fehrnstrom do a better job for the taxpayers with $40,000 more than the previous press liaison made?
On top of raising Fehrnstrom’s salary, Romney is also keeping a separate press secretary position, which will be filled by Shawn Feddeman, a former Swift staffer who worked on Romney’s campaign. She will earn a salary of $85,000.
Many other secretaries’ salaries were increased and given to politically connected Republicans according to press reports. Romney even created two new positions, although one of them, Robert Pozen, the new Chief of Commerce & Labor, will not be paid a salary, only benefits.
So essentially, Romney has expanded the amount of patronage positions in the governor’s office, increased many of their salaries, and rewarded positions to campaign staffers and Republican supporters. Weren’t these kinds of political handouts the same thing Romney criticized Treasurer Shannon O’Brien for doing during the campaign?
Everyone knows the dilemmas with the state government are systematic. The problems are about waste, fraud, abuse, and patronage — something Romney obviously doesn’t take too seriously right out of the box.
As well, everyone knows that the way to good citizenship — whether through sacrifice or public service — is to do good deeds without expectation of reward. Plenty of people in our state perform "public service" while never receiving a dime.
In the end, Romney’s plan to run the state like a business might pay off and we shouldn’t be so critical, so early in his tenure. But his first steps — paying already overpaid staffers and cabinet heads like bloated CEOs — are not changing the mentality on Beacon Hill. It is following the path of the past.

Wednesday, January 8, 2003

Media Madness ... Part 1
Imagine, you create an advertisement to run on television and then the television companies refuse your money. Such is the situation with Arianna Huffington’s new ad promoting hybrid automobiles which links SUV drivers to terrorists.
What, you say, terrorists? Yup, terrorists: ["Stations Reject TV Ads That Connect SUVs to Terrorism"].
However, if the Ad Council – the non-profit organization that creates public service announcements – can constantly bombard us with FREE ads telling kids that the joint they smoked at a party Friday night bankrolled terrorists, surely Arianna can take her greens and pay for ads linking gas-guzzling SUV’s to the bankrolling of most of the princes of OPEC, right? Remember, while we may not be at war with some of these nations, like Saudi Arabia, the Saudis still teach their children that Jews are "pigs" and most of the Sept. 11 terrorists were Saudis. A prince was even recently accused of siphoning money to al Quaida.

Media Madness ... Part 2 or 'God Bless Russ Feingold and John McCain!'
Let's be honest: Sen. John McCain from Arizona is becoming a conservative Democrat. It really has become clear. First, it was campaign finance reform with Sen. Feingold. Then, it was a pseudo-populist presidential campaign. Then, he voted against Bush's $1.3 trillion transfer of wealth to the Top 10 percent of wage earners. Then, he threatens to vote against Bush's new tax plan. And still further McCain goes after radio consolidation: ["Radio: Where's the Diversity"]. So the guy is still pro-life and pro-free trade. But he is turning out to be more liberal than Sen. Joe Lieberman!

Tuesday, January 7, 2003

Vennochi slams Romney/Healey party
Pretty good column in the Boston Globe this morning by the usually snippy Joan Vennochi.
In this piece, she basically lays out the reasons why "running the state like a business" – Romney's campaign slogan – is probably not going to be a good experience for the rest of us. Although, while taking jabs at Romney's inaugural ball, she is quick to note that things would be the same if the Dems won:
"In Romney's world, the rich and well-connected inhabit a better, different place. But there is nothing new, startling, or even partisan about that observation. The same is true in John Kerry's world or Ted Kennedy's world. And it would have been true in Shannon O'Brien's world, if she, not Romney, had won the governor's race. The rich and powerful are welcome to enter whatever political tent they choose; once inside, they can always count on the best accommodations. That is politics as usual and applies to elephant aficionados as well as those who prefer donkeys."
As an aside, in a chat this afternoon, Vennochi was asked if she ever regretted any of her columns.
"I regret two columns over the past six months. (maybemore) (sic) The first
said Bob Reich couldn't win; the second ssaid, (sic) don't vote for Jill Stein."
Sharpton blasts through Boston
The Rev. Al Sharpton literally swept through town over the weekend giving a flurry of speeches at black churches and function halls promoting his long-shot campaign for president. Surprisingly, for someone who is not taken too seriously as a candidate, Sharpton was able to garner a large amount of media time — both television and print — during his visit. Clips of speeches were repeatedly aired on local news and he also was interviewed Sunday morning on WILD 1090 AM, Boston's only black owned and operated radio station, as well as Channel 2's "Greater Boston" on Monday [although I missed both interviews]. The Boston Herald's sharp-tongued [no pun intended] columnist Marjery Eagan penned a pretty humorous [albeit not very kind] article about the candidate, complete with pictures of his then and now hair styles [What does she think she is doing, appearing on "The View" or something?]
However, let's hope in the future that Sharpton can get some better advance men helping his campaign. Almost no one knew about his appearances, which is probably one of the reasons he had very slim crowds at places like Dorchester's Mason Lodge, which in the past, has been packed for political events.
Daschle quickly gets out
The Washington Post reports that former Senate majority leader Democrat Tom Daschle, S.D. will not run for president. As referenced below, with heavy-hitters like Gore and Daschle now out, this is getting to feel more and more like 1992. All I can say is "Thank you, Tom."

Sunday, January 5, 2003

Contenders scramble: But which Democrat can lead the nation?
In recent weeks, a cornucopia of Democratic candidates have announced plans to run for the highest office in the land. Seizing on issues such as the weak economy and a president who is completely distracted with "regime changes" and the globalist desires of his warlords and campaign contributors, the Democrats are thinking, "Why not me?"
Fresh in the minds of all of these candidates is the 1992 election.
In early 1991, President George H. W. Bush was riding high in the polls after "liberating" Kuwait during the first Gulf War. At the time, the only Democrat who was thinking about challenging the president was former Mass. Sen. Paul Tsongas. All the other "heavy hitters," like Sen. Al Gore and Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, didn’t think Bush was beatable and sat out the primaries. Eventually, Bush’s numbers crashed after the economy continued to slide and the Democratically-controlled Congress tricked him into breaking his “No new taxes” pledge. Everyone knows the end result: Bush was clobbered, with the help of Ross Perot, and a glad-handing, sex-crazed governor from Arkansas, William Jefferson Clinton, played Fleetwood Mac songs and pied-pipered right into the White House.
But of all the candidates who have announced that they are running [or at least forming exploratory committees to raise and spend money to flirt with the idea] which can actually turn the economy around? Should Democrats take advantage of the 54 weeks before the first primary to find out what these candidates stand for and what they plan on doing differently than Bush or past candidates? As well, will the populist-progressive wing of the Democratic Party be told – once again – to cast aside their values in favor of a candidate who is more conservative or viable?
Thankfully,, a Cambridge-based Web site, and have compiled scads of information on almost all of the nation’s elected officials. The site uses a "VoteMatch" chart – similar to the little card libertarians hand out to assist voters in analyzing their political affiliations. Vote-Smart has downloadable PDF files of voting records.
The announced candidates, alphabetically, are Sen. Tom Daschle, SD, Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, Sen. John Edwards, NC, Rep. Dick Gephardt, Sen. John Kerry, MA, Sen. Joe Lieberman, CT and the Rev. Al Sharpton. Other candidates will probably come forward in the future. For now, this is what the Dems have to choose from. Not surprisingly, most of them score in the "moderate liberal" category according to VoteMatch. But a closer examination of voting records and positions reveal that some are very closely aligned with Republican President George W. Bush – bleak results for voters hoping for a progressive-populist candidate.
In the last few election cycles, decisions on international trade treaties have been controversial. The passage of NAFTA in 1993 and later, GATT and the World Trade Organization [WTO] in 1994, put forward by Clinton – with the help of Republicans – have led to millions of American jobs being shipped to Mexico and China, decimating many unions who have historically supported Democrats. These treaties have also devastated the manufacturing sector – a part of the economy relied on when economic times turn sour. Unfortunately for many Americans, that factory job down the street that a person could raise a family on has been replaced by that retail job [or two] that no one will ever be able to raise a family on. Another negative result of the trade deals is the loss of tariff tax revenue, which less than 90 years ago, once paid for the entire federal government.
But, if Democrats are looking for a candidate who is the champion of “fair trade” issues, their choices are slim.
Daschle, Kerry, and Lieberman have all been champions of the failed free trade cult, voting for NAFTA, GATT, and Fast Track authority to Bush and Clinton – usurping their own Constitutional authority as senators to negotiate trade deals. They all supported Permanent Most Favored Nation Trade Status [PMFN] for China, a repressive dictatorial regime that, frankly, should be on Bush’s list for “regime change” but will never be because of the cheap goods flooding our markets. Edwards, who was elected in 1998, didn’t have the opportunity to vote on NAFTA or GATT. But he did support PMFN for China. CNN suggested this vote could help differentiate Edwards from the other candidates in a move to the center, even though they all supported this vote. Gephardt, to his credit, is the best Washington-based candidate on trade. Gephardt voted against PMFN, against giving Bush and Clinton fast track, and rebuked NAFTA, assisting in organizing the opposition although according to John MacArthur’s book, "The Selling of 'Free Trade,'" did not fight as hard as he could have while the Democrats controlled the Congress. But like the others, Gephardt supported GATT. Since Dean is a governor, he did not vote on any of these treaties but he seems to understand the importance of the issues. During a September interview with the Texas Triangle, Dean said he leaned “towards the notion of fair trade,” but then added, “Free trade is good, but it has to be accompanied by environmental standards and labor standards in order to be fair trade. And if we don’t have that, free trade is probably going to hurt us more than it will help us in the long run.” On his Web site, Dean said, “Unfortunately, our free trade policies have also had the effect of hollowing out our industrial capacity, and most worrisome, undermining our own middle class.” Sharpton has been a long time critic of the trade deals and has seen first hand the damage the agreements have done to both urban and rural minority communities. Many of the factory jobs that fled across the border were filled by minorities who quickly found themselves in unemployment lines. In an exchange on FoxNews on Nov. 7, host Bill O’Reilly accused Sharpton of trying to move the Democrats to the left, Sharpton countered by saying, "I want to move [the Democrats] to the center. I think pro big business, pro NAFTA, pro GATT, pro what they’ve done to this country is not the center. That’s to the right,” according to transcripts published on the FoxNews Web site.
As Americans struggle to balance their own books, some have looked to the government for assistance, either through extended unemployment benefits, tax breaks, bankruptcy law revisions, minimum wage increases, or welfare benefits.
But Washington Democrats haven’t always been helpful on these issues. Senators and Reps. headed home for the holidays without extending unemployment benefits and almost 800,000 people didn’t receive a check last week. Elected officials say they will work on the issue in the next legislative session but that remains to be seen since both parties are divided on how best to remedy economic problems.
On taxes, the democrats running do differ with the administration with all of them voting against Bush’s $1.3 trillion tax cut and the elimination of estate taxes. And, at the same time, each have promoted their own specialized plans for tax breaks, including payroll tax cuts and "middle class" tax cuts.
However, when it comes to bankruptcy laws, surprisingly, many of the announced Democrats preferred to support the banking industry – that regularly floods the economy with easy credit at astronomical rates – over people who need relief from the debts. Daschle, Edwards, and Lieberman voted for stricter filing rules which would basically keep people eternally in debt to the credit card industry without any regulation on how that industry performs its business. Kerry was one of a handful of senators who voted against the measure. Gephardt has no record on the matter, according to Vote-Smart. Dean also has no information available on the issue. But Sharpton aggressively campaigned against the issue, noting that a rider was put into the Senate version of the bill would allow police to search homes without a warrant.
Admittedly, supporters of Clinton’s 1995 welfare reform bill say it has had mixed results. Some say it is because the program is laxly administered. Others say, the economic downturn has pushed many former welfare recipients from the jobs they were filling [at the same time jobs low-skill, decent-wage work was being sent overseas]. But to rank-and-file Dems, welfare reform is considered one of the most disgraceful things promoted by Clinton. But he wasn’t alone. Daschle, Kerry, and Lieberman, all voted for welfare reform while doing nothing to rein in billions spent on corporate welfare and subsidies, International Monetary Fund spending, or foreign aid. Edwards, who was not in office in 1995, has no record on the issue. Dean, as well, was unable to vote on the federal legislation, but did testify before the Senate Finance Committee in favor of continuation of the law, according to a National Governors Association press release. But in implementing the law in Vermont, Dean guaranteed that health care, child care, transportation and job training were provided to people in the program, according to a profile in the Columbia University Record. Sharpton has always been against welfare reform, saying in a piece from Delaware Online, "When they [white politicians] talk about their welfare reform plans, they are talking about theory. When I talk about welfare reform, I'm talking about something I lived. I know the humiliation of having to go down and stand in line to get the welfare cheese and the welfare peanut butter."
On wage issues, the democrats again are pretty good. Gephardt has always promoted "a living wage" although he has not specified what it should be and all the senators running voted “no” to killing an increase in the minimum wage. Sharpton’s National Action Network has been active in the living wage cause and Dean has a very good voting record with the local AFL-CIO.
In stepping away from the economic issues, liberal democrats will also be a little bewildered at what they will find. On almost all the issues surrounding the war on terrorism, whether the fascistic USA PATRIOT Act, the wasteful Star Wars program, or the Iraq war resolution, Democrats have been lockstep with the president.
Daschle, Edwards, Kerry, and Lieberman all approved the USA PATRIOT Act and two other bills which gave sweeping wiretapping authorities to law enforcement officials. They also all voted for expanded military spending, Star Wars, and for the president’s Iraq war resolution. Kerry did vote against Star Wars in 1998, but flipped and supported the program in 1999. Gephardt also voted for the USA PATRIOT Act. While Dean and Sharpton have not voted on military or terrorism issues, they have taken political positions. Dean, trying to have it both ways, told the Iowa City Press-Citizen on Sept. 24 that “he would endorse a pre-emptive strike against Iraq if it can be proven that Saddam Hussein has access to weapons of mass destruction and the means to discharge them,” but later told the Boston Globe he was against pre-emptive strikes, and has since been touted by liberals as the peace candidate. Sharpton, on the other hand, has been actively involved in the anti-impending war movement, speaking at rallies in NYC and DC. Sharpton has also had a long history of bouts with the military industrial complex, including protesting the Navy’s test bombing in Puerto Rico which landed him in prison for a short stint.
Wildcards: While most of the issues here are Washington-based, or the results of voting records, there are a few wildcards in this emerging campaign that need to be considered.
The first is Sharpton himself. While the "experts" will write-off any chance at the nomination, his power during the primary process cannot be rebuked. South Carolina, the third primary state, is a heavy minority state and if he spends enough time there – with a crowded field – he could win. [Barring any attempts by Donna Brazile to siphon votes from Sharpton with minority “favorite son” candidates, as she has already threatened to do.] There will also be other primaries in which he can compete including New York, Georgia, and Florida. As well, if he tears a sheet out of the Jesse Jackson 1988, Jerry Brown 1992, Pat Buchanan 1996 campaign playbooks, and campaigns on a populist theme about working class issues, he could become a powerful force in Iowa and NH. People forget that Buchanan won NH in 1996 with about 23 percent of the vote in a crowded field by hammering away at the globalists in Congress sending jobs to Mexico. There is still a receptive audience to these issues, years later, if a candidate focuses on them. If Sharpton comes in fourth or better in either contest, he could survive to South Carolina and beyond.
Dean’s pro-gun position and support for single-payer health care system will open many doors for the relatively unknown governor. Both issues are very popular with grassroots support, albeit most often, on different sides of the political aisle. However, with independent voters, a key to almost all the primaries, their opinions can vary. If Dean can last through the early primaries or take similar strides that Sharpton needs to take, he could see his support galvanize in the south and industrialized mid-west. As well, by clarifying his war position, he could easily be seen as the "electable" default peace candidate, which will play with primary voters in the west.

Saturday, January 4, 2003

44 candidates in Hawaii
Hawaii House District 2 Special Election is today. Forty-four, yes 44, candidates running. Here is the story: [
Field_of_44_candidates_before_:.shtml] and here is the list of candidates [].
Hmm, more than two candidates to choose from? Voting on Saturday? If it is good enough for Hawaii, why not the rest of us?
2002 - A year of conspiracies
Mike Ward, a film critic with, has prepared a pretty good collection of oddities and strangeness surrounding the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in his year end column ["Of Big Oil, By Big Oil, For Big Oil"].
As someone who likes challenges to the mainstream press, doesn't believe Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols acted alone in blowing up the Murrah Building, and thinks there is more than meets the eye with Sept. 11, this is a welcome collection. However, it is doubtful we will ever get the truth in the end.
Post far and wide.
Romney says state government should be more like al Queda
Thank You, Seth Gitell.
The political reporter for the Boston Phoenix this week picked up on one of the most offensive statements concerning the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks yet by a Massachusetts politician. In his inaugural speech Thursday, Governor Mitt Romney called the terrorists "inventive" and "nimble" and suggested, in a sense, that state government should be more like al Queda. Here is the exact quote from Romney’s speech:
Surely, historians will look back to September 11, 2001 as a pivotal inflection point. Like us, they will be moved by the human tragedy of that day and by the redefinition of heroism. They may also see September 11th as a symbol marking the emergence of a fundamental change in human endeavors. Perhaps the most obvious of these changes is the reassessment of military strategy. Massive battle groups and warheads capable of destroying the entire planet were frustrated by a handful of murderous fanatics with box cutters. The large, slow, impregnable force gave way to the nimble, stealthy and inventive.
Say what? Did he really say what I thought he said? I almost didn’t believe it when Scot Lehigh of the Boston Globe first reported part of this quote and then followed with:
Egad! Isn't Sept. 11 better used as a metaphor for the new realities of a dangerous world and for the perils we face from fanaticism?
But it took Gitell to expose the hypocrisy of the slide Romney received by the comment:
There is a double standard between how comments that disparage, belittle, or misuse the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks are treated. When the commentator is on the left – as was former ABC talk show host Bill Maher who stupidly called the 9/11 terrorists brave – he or she is scorned, ridiculed, even threatened. (Following Maher’s comment, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer warned Americans to "watch what they say, watch what they do." Maher eventually, roughly a year later, lost his show Politically Incorrect.") When the speaker is on the right, however, it is a different story.
Gitell goes on to analyze the comment calling it Romney’s first "major blunder." I would add "offensive" to that description as well.

Friday, January 3, 2003

Carr going national ... again
The Boston Radio Archives list was abuzz today over the news that Boston Herald columnist and WRKO blabber Howie Carr is getting a new syndication deal via SuperRadio, according to Dean Johnson's column in the Boston Herald this morning []. But listeners to Carr’s will fall down laughing over this hilarious quote Johnson snatched from Super Radio's COO Jack Bryant:
Howie's show is somewhat unique. He takes on political issues, but he's not identified with a particular party; someone like Rush Limbaugh is. [Carr] just seems to be a little more objective, and he also talks about other issues and has real entertainment value. He's not another 'Bush is great and Clinton is bad' talk host.
Huh? What Howie Carr show is this guy listening to?
At times, I find Carr’s muckraking columns to be quite funny. How can you not love a guy who exposes the offensive patronage of political families feeding out of the trough of our state government? But as a very long time listener of his show, it has become quite hard to listen to.
First off, Carr is not an independent. Sure, he is admittedly registered as an "unenrolled" - the political designation of independents in Massachusetts. But on almost every issue on the political scene, Carr comes down just to the left of Attila the Hun. This is why I have always called him "a knuckle draggin’ old man" when I call in. LOL.
But over the years, Carr’s show is annoyingly repetitive - the same old thing, over and over again, day after day. And many of us have lost interest. He’ll rant for a few minutes, throw out the question of the day [or hour], and then let callers rant for 30 seconds or so before they are hung up on.
Yawn. What happened to the intelligent conversation?
Well, that has gone by the wayside since Carr thinks that every Muslim is a terrorist, every immigrant is an illegal alien who doesn’t work, is somehow collecting 12 welfare checks, with loads of "bahstahd" children, who should be hung by his thumbs until he bleeds to death.
Or - and how can I forget - Carr thinks we should nuke all our enemies into the Stone Age with any regard for anyone else in the world.
Of course, the repartee Carr has with his producers Virgin Boy ["VB"] and "Sandy" [who used to be "Nancy" with Jerry Williams], is still pretty funny. As is the daily "Chump Line" feature at 5 p.m. where callers call and leave witty voicemail messages.
[Sidebar: Carr claims he originated this idea but actually he borrowed it from NYC talker Alan Colmes who was doing his own "Graffiti Phone" years before Carr was even doing a weekly stint with Williams.]
The problem with syndication for Carr is that local politics has always been his strong suit. That is what made him so great when he first started out. However, local politics has been shelved to just one hour at 6 p.m. and even here, the topics Carr chooses to discuss are extremely limited. This has led many of us to think that the move to syndication years ago has slowly slid his show into the gutter.
And so are the ratings.
WTKK FM Talker Jay Severin - the former political consultant for Pat Buchanan and former "Rock n’ Roll Republican" talker of WOR in NYC - is killing Carr in drive time ratings by a huge margin.
Personally, I wish Carr the best because I do love his column. And he does have a bunch of daughters he needs to feed, clothe, educate, and wed - so I can see why he wants the syndicate cash. But that doesn’t mean I have to listen to what has essentially become a bad radio talk show.

Wednesday, January 1, 2003

Taste the Floor Radio Show Tops in 2002 list
Here are some of the best music releases of the last year which I have featured on my radio program heard every other Thursday from 1 to 3 p.m. on WMFO 91.5 FM in Medford.

The Apples in Stereo — "Velocity of Sound" — A great pop album filled with big hooks and crunchy guitars. Every song on here is a winner and I was happy to play many of them. I only wish I got to see them live when they played the Roxy.
Astroblast — "This Will Help You on Your Way" — Some of the best noise pop/space rock out there from this Texas-based band. The songs are uplifting and dynamic, the effects are loud, and Jenn is a charm. I hope to hear more from this band in the future.
The Black Watch — "Lovestruck" track — A great pop tune. Period.
Bratmobile — "Girls Get Ready" — I fell in love with this riot grrl trio back in the old days when they released the "Kiss & Tell" single. Years later, they are still churning out beautiful, blasting lo-fi punk. Excellent.
Chao — "Gotta go" track — A show closer for weeks and weeks.
Maggie Connell — "The Luxury of Sadness" — This one is hard to describe but it is an absolutely brilliant record. Maggie is a jack of all trades on this one and masters many different styles of music from performance art rock to pure pop.
Devil Doll — "Queen of Pain" — Oh my, oh my. Where the hell did this come from? Colleen Duffy sings her heart wrenching — yet rocking — tunes of loves won and lost in almost every style imaginable. So often in this industry, you hear someone with real talent or a knack for a hook but they never get anywhere. Someone please, don’t let this girl waste away on the Sunset Strip!
The Flaming Lips — "Yoshima Battles the Pink Robots" — A very mellow collection and not as good as past efforts from these purveyors of acid punk. However, anything by The Flaming Lips is still better than most bands out there.
Gladshot — "Relic" — Very good power pop from this NYC duo who drove all the way up to Boston to play my show in March. See the Web site for a quick pic. This one has nice strumming, nice humming, and nice keyboards. A gem.
Goo Goo Dolls — "Gutterflower" — Okay, so music snobs don’t like this band and some are probably surprised to see this CD here. But the Goo Goo Dolls are one of the only good mainstream bands around today. This hook riddled record is a lot of fun.
Grandpa Boy a.k.a. Paul Westerberg — "Mono" — While his "Stereo" release gave us many of the heartfelt Westerberg tunes we have come to love, the Grandpa Boy disc of this two CD set was the smash-em-up kind of stuff that made us fall in love with Westerberg in the first place!
Tami Hart — "Trapped in your blood" track — This is what punk was supposed to be about.
Blake Hazard — "Little Airplanes" — North Shore label Kimchee Records put out some of the best local stuff this year. Blake's "Little Airplanes," guided by lo-fi guitar guru John Dragonetti a.k.a. Jack Drag, was a stellar pop record. Can hardly wait to hear the next one.
Jabberpony — "So Far" — This New Jersey quartet plays jazzy folk pop with nice vocals and do-it-yourself attitude.
Lava Baby — NYC-based new wave pop quintet's "Big Muff" was released twice last year and received airplay both times. A very enjoyable album.
Lords of Acid — "Scrood Bi U" track — A trivial masterpiece. Sluts rule.
Mary Lorson & Saint Low — I loved the first two Madder Rose records which I played to death when they came out. The new release from Mary Lorson was a bit on the moodier side but still exciting and pleasurable.
Jana McCall — "Slumber" — A very mellow but stimulating album from a former member of the punk band Dickless. A surprisingly beautiful collection of tunes.
Merrick — "Merrick" — Great indie pop record from the daughter of a guy from Little Feat. This record is much better than anything her dad's band did. Unfortunately, the band broke up recently.
Midnight Oil — "Capricornia" — Probably the last release with amazing front man Peter Garrett but keeping with the fine Oil's tradition of full melodic structures and powerful prose.
Mistle Thrush — "Drunk with You" — After a short hiatus with lineup changes and bouts with labels, the Thrushies burst back onto the Boston scene with this collection of great songs. Well worth the five year wait.
Josh Rouse — "Feeling no pain" track — A numbing jaunt into pop bliss.
27 — "Animal Life" — Maria Christopher was one of Boston's mesmerizing talents in The Dirt Merchants. Fronting 27, she is mature, poetic, and masterful. They have everything you could possible want in a band. The album was so good I decided to play the whole thing in its entirety on one show.
Wilco — "Heavy metal drummer" track — Quirky reality seeps in again and commercial radio belatedly picked up on this band. A great single.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs — "Yeah Yeah Yeahs" EP — Almost as powerful a debut as The Jesus & Mary Chain’s "Psychocandy" back in 1985. Almost, that is.
Maytag moves to Mexico
Rep. Bernie Sanders has a nice piece in the Chicago Tribune today [received via Common Dreams] about plant closings.

Daschle forming exploratory committee
NYT reporting this morning. Double ugh.