Friday, December 24, 2004

Here is a picture of the Tre Bon Nouvel, the ship built by my father, burning last week. This picture was taken by some folks at the scene and was published in this week's edition of the Upper Keys Reporter. Here is an updated story: ["Family loses boat a week before Christmas"].

Saturday, December 18, 2004

A family tragedy:

Dear friends,

I am sorry to be asking for your support tonight.
On Thursday night, my father, his wife, and five of their children, lost their home [a live aboard ship] due to a fire. Thankfully, everyone got off alive before the entire ship was engulfed in propane tank explosions and flames. A story from the Upper Keys Reporter is linked here: ["Missionary family loses everything in boat fire"]. I have also posted a couple of articles published about my dad when he was building the ship below.
The cause of the fire is not known at this time but the devastating effect of its damage is: Essentially, my family lost everything. Also, the ship was not insured.
They have lived in the Keys and southern Florida for the better part of 25 years and have done so much for so many over the years. Fortunately, they have a lot of friends and support. A local TV station set up a benefit fund for them and one of the churches and a radio station will be holding an event to raise money for them. They also have a place to crash until they manage to get enough money together to rent an apartment.

I know that times are tough for everyone right now. But if you have some extra funds that you can throw in the mail to the fund to help them get through this extremely rough period, I would be eternally grateful. The fund address is below:

Schinella Family Benefit
c/o First State Bank
171433 Overseas Highway
Key Largo, Fla. 33037

Thank you for your generosity and please keep my family in your prayers. Have a great holiday.

Here is an article from a paper in the Keys.

This article appeared in the Miami Herald in 1994.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Let the Sex Pistols in: The Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame announced the names of new inductees yesterday. U2, the Pretenders, Buddy Guy, The O'Jays, and Sire Records co-founder Seymour Stein were all named. One-hit wonder Percy ["When a man loves a woman"] Sledge was also named.
But, yet again, the Sex Pistols - and others, like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, The Stooges [Iggy Pop's first band], and Patti Smith - were not named.
Okay, now this is getting a bit ridiculous. Who is more influential and worthy of nomination - Percy Sledge or the Sex Pistols? Sledge or Skynyrd? Come on. This is a no-brainer. The Sex Pistols have influenced thousands of bands over the years. Percy Sledge's one hit has been included on a handful of baby boomer soundtracks like "The Big Chill." Snooze. Who is more worthy? Sledge's "When ..." is a great song. But what about Skynyrd? "Free Bird!" has been called for from every stage in America. And on impact, can Sledge compare to the imprint the Pistols made on "rock and roll"? It is no contest. You could even make the case that Johnny Rotten/Lydon is more worthy by himself than Sledge because he was involved in two very influential rock bands - the Pistols and Public Image Limited. PIL, as the band was known, had two pretty amazing albums - "Second Edition" and "The Flowers of Romance." I wouldn't consider the first album, "This is what you want ..." or the bootleg album as "great," but they should be considered very good.
FMQB reported that the Pistols have "have not exactly spoken highly of the Hall in the past" with MTV reporting that Rotten once called the museum the place where "old rockers go to die." But who cares about that crap. Stop being a bunch of pompous rock snobs - put the Pistols in the Hall already.

Wednesday, December 8, 2004

Bruds: WBZ talk show host David Brudnoy is near death, according to numerous reports, and probably will not survive the week. Bruds acknowledged he had AIDS in 1994 but managed to cheat certain death and enjoy the last decade thanks to the age of modern medicine. Last year, he was stricken with Merkel cell carcinoma and, unfortunately, it is winning. WBZ has a gut-wrenching interview with Bruds from his deathbed as well as posts from well-wishers and listeners here: ["For David... Our thoughts are with you"].
There was some confusion about whether or not David had already died from a bad TV report or something, which I mistakenly passed on to some folks. Sorry about that.
Dan Kennedy has a post here about the situation: ["The David Brudnoy Era"]. I have to disagree with him slightly that Bruds was "the best radio talk-show host in the history of the city, if not the country." I would give that nod to Jerry Williams, who practically created the format and was on the air here in Boston forever until his death a couple of years ago. But, to label a "best host" and then argue about it is like having an argument over who the better homerun hitter was: Hank Aaron or Babe Ruth? Bruds and Jerry were giants in the field and irreplaceable. They commanded the respect and attention of everyone. And, they created/will create a massive vacuum when they left/will leave the airwaves.
Over the years, David and I have had our scuffles both on the air and off. But I have always enjoyed his camaraderie and intellectual discussions.
Goodbye, David. Thanks for all that you gave the format of radio ... and us.

Update: Brudnoy passed away on Thursday. Such a tragedy. The news made national headlines and was covered heavily on local TV. Such sadness. We'll miss you David.

Wednesday, December 1, 2004

A quick goodbye to Winchester - thank you all for everything

In all the years that I have been writing, this is probably one of the hardest columns I've ever had to put together. Next week will be my last one editing The Winchester Star. I have decided to go back into the radio field and will continue my community journalism career in a city closer to my new home.
The decision to leave The Star was a difficult one but made all the easier after the birth of our first child in August. Starting a family was something I put off to the very last minute, preferring to dabble in music, politics and media. But one of the things I always promised myself was that when I did have children, their needs would be put first to the best of my ability. By "needs," I didn't necessarily mean possessions. I promised myself that I would not be one of those fathers who was never around. What would be the point? I didn't wait all these years to have kids so that I could spend my entire life at work, even if I do enjoy it. While there will always be a story to chase on deadline, this change will allow me more flexibility and more time with my beautiful son and supportive wife.
I hope readers understand that this is a personal choice. This decision is what is best and just one of many, as we measure what is truly most important in our lives.
With that said, there are so many people to thank and I know I will miss a few.
Professionally, I want to thank all the remarkable people I have worked with here at CNC, including two great reporters: Christopher Rocchio and Kristina Arvanitis. Thank you all for your camaraderie and friendship.
In Winchester, I would like to thank everyone who contacted me with story ideas, congratulations, praise, and criticism. Thank you for letting us into your homes and interesting lives to tell your stories.
One of the things I love about this town is that there are so many straight-shooters. You always know where Ellen Burkhardt, Fire Union president John Frongillo, Peter Haley, Superintendent Jim Marini, Selectman Chuck Nurnberger, and state Sen. Charlie Shannon stand on any issue. Thanks for being there.
Thanks to all the regular contributors: Mary Courville, Lynn Engle [and her husband Wayne], Lauren Field, Walter Finneran [keep smiling], Hope-Valerie Pashos, and so many others who helped to make The Star better than it would have been without you.
Thank you Bob Baughman and Annette Farrington for your long-time friendship as we worked together in the music and political worlds.
A quick "good luck" to problem solvers like Roger Berman, Paul Collins, and other FinCom folks; Maureen Meister, Charles Smith, Sam Stroud, and other planning, engineering, and historical hawks; and others like Fran Sabatino and the West End Neighborhood Association; everyone at WinCAM, the Jenks Center, the library, and recreation department; and all the employees at BookEnds and The News Shop.
And thank you also to Katherine Allen, Eva Arnott, Chris and Elena Benoit, Debbie Catalano, Tony Conte, Cheryl Eagan-Donovan, Patrick Fortin, David Frenkel, Robert Guarente, Selectman Tom Howley, Kathryn Hughes, Carolyn Latanision, John Natale, Michele Nathan, Andrea Phelan, Mary Pronski, Marcia Saltmarsh, Michael Schindelman, Peggy Schleicher, Dan Sheridan, Pam Swartzel, Margaret Sullivan, Kim Whittaker, and so many others for good conversations and contributions to the paper.
Last, but certainly not least, I would like to thank Laurie Russell of the Winchester Community Music School, the first person in town who invited me into her world. I'm sorry I never got a chance to peruse the huge record library at your school but maybe someday.
Regrets? Yeah, I've had a few: Not being able to get to the bottom of the Winning Farm mess and not working harder to expose the town's business, records and meetings to the public. There is so much you should know that you don't.
In some ways though, people get the town they deserve if they stand on the sidelines and allow their elected officials to lead in a vacuum. Participatory democracy is only healthy and strong when the people are involved and when the press is investigating and not hamstrung. I think we have done our part to the best of our ability. Now, it's your turn. Run for one of those town seats that go unchallenged year after year. Run for Town Meeting - the last bastion of historical democracy - which languishes and never reaches its full potential in Winchester despite the efforts by some. It isn't meant to rubber-stamp - it is meant to inform, debate, challenge, and amend. That is what the founders intended.
Lastly, please remember this: Despite what anyone says or writes, it is not a personal attack to criticize or dissent. Residents should be able to disagree with their leaders [and other residents] but still sit down with them after the fight and have a beer. That is the essence of a town that is truly a community.
Alright, one more bowl of lasagna and Chianti at Lucia's, a swing around to the drop boxes and we'll call it a night. Maybe I will see you all again sometime in the future.
Until then ... Best, Tony.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Interesting stuff ...

Here are some links in the past few weeks I haven't been able to post because I have been too busy with other stuff.
Yesterday, this was posted by Kevin Zeese, Ralph Nader's press secretary: ["Mishandling Nader"]. Check out this section, about the meeting between Nader and Kerry:
"Instead, at the meeting Kerry warned us of the coming legal threat telling us of the thousands of lawyers they had lined up to ensure a Kerry-Edwards victory. Some of us thought these lawyers were to prepare against Republican harassment, others interpreted it as a threat to the Nader-Camejo campaign’s ballot access. And, when we got back to the office the news was not only covering the Kerry-Nader meeting but the announcement of a new anti-Nader, pro-Kerry 527 organization. Rather than a two fisted battle against Bush the Democrats drew the battle lines between Nader and the Democrats – diverting significant attention from Bush-Cheney."
Wow. So, once again, the Democrats blew an opportunity to win an election because there were obsessed with Nader. Zeese is currently in New Hampshire, heading up the Nader recount effort, which so far, has yielded little change in the results: ["Nader-requested recount in N.H. moving slowly"] and ["Recount New Hampshire"]. It's interesting that AA's big mouth Randi Rhodes would request Nader perform a recount when she attacked him so harshly during his campaign. Here is some of the data from Ida Briggs: ["Invisible Ida"].
Here is another post from Common Dreams, about the recount in Ohio: ["Ohio Presidential Results to be Challenged"]. Isn't it interesting that the Greens and Libertarians would care enough about the actual outcome to raise $150k to force a recount, yet Kerry and Edwards can't seem to be bothered? And why is the media ignoring all of this? Mark Jurkowitz has a good piece here: ["Media accused of ignoring election irregularities"].
Then, there is Clinton and his silly library. Interestingly enough, there isn't any factual information about the numerous scandals he and his wife were involved in: ["Whitewashing Whitewater"].

Friday, November 12, 2004

New Mexico: A history lesson for practical fusion

This was forwarded from reader Bill from the Green Horizon Quarterly. He wrote, "Jack Uhrich goes deep into the actual history and experience of the Green Party in New Mexico and asks fundamental questions about Green Party political strategy. This is well worth a read and much pondering."

New Mexico: A history lesson for practical fusion
By Jack Uhrich

In 1994, the New Mexico Green Party made national headlines when its candidates for Governor and Lt. Governor, Roberto Mondragon and Steve Schmidt, received over 10% of the vote, and the favored Democrats in the race, Bruce King and Patsy Madrid, lost.
All of a sudden, seemingly coming from nowhere, the Greens were a power to be reckoned with in New Mexico politics. Over the next six years, they would become what David Cobb called a "flagship" state party of the national Green movement, looked to as a model by Green Parties all over the country.
Yet today, the New Mexico Green Party is a shell of its former self. Its website doesn't appear to have been updated in almost two years. They've only elected two candidates in the last three years, and one of their elected officials, Santa Fe City Council member Miguel Chavez, switched from Green to Democrat in 2002. Further, the Greens' candidate for Governor in 2002, who helped the party regain its ballot status, has also switched his registration to Democrat to help the Dennis Kucinich campaign, and many others in the Albuquerque area have done the same.
What happened to the momentum of the New Mexico Greens? Is their fate indicative of larger issues within the Green Party nationally? What lessons can we learn from their successes and shortcomings?
Even though many independent and Democratic progressives (incorrectly) blamed the Greens for the Democrats' loss in 1994, there were also many progressives - both inside and outside of the Democratic Party - who were glad to have an alternative. In late 1995, this writer helped to pull together Green Party leaders and leaders of New Mexico's Pro PAC (a Political Action Committee for progressive Democrats). An informal compromise was worked out, whereby the Greens agreed not to run candidates against incumbent Democrats that we considered progressive and supportive of our platform. Essentially, New Mexico Greens were practicing what Abe Gutmann called "Practical Fusion", whereby, even though they didn't formally endorse some of the non-Green progressive candidates, Greens were tacitly supporting them by not running someone against them and splitting the progressive vote. And that type of principled, positive cooperation was reciprocated by Progressive Democrats. Green Santa Fe City Councilmember Cris Moore was endorsed by a key local union in his successful bid to become the first elected Green in New Mexico, Abe Gutmann was endorsed by Pro-PAC and the Sierra Club, this writer by the National Association of Social Workers, and other Greens were endorsed by key People-of-Color, feminist, gay and lesbian leaders who were active progressive Democrats. So Greens were seen as exercising their "Green Clout" both ways, by helping progressive Democrats, as well as punishing conservative ones.
Unfortunately, a number of events in late 1996 and early 1997 changed the direction of the Green Party and its strategy. First, the New Mexico Democratic leadership undercut the efforts of progressives in their own party, and blocked the Greens' attempts to run Democratic progressives like state legislator Max Coll and Carol Miller (who was still a Democrat at that time), as fusion candidates on the Green Party ballot line. And in June 1997, the New Party lost its case for fusion before the US Supreme Court, by a daunting 6-3 vote.
Just before the Supreme Court decision, in the spring of 1997, the New Mexico Green Party again made national headlines, when Carol Miller (now a Green), got 17% of the vote in a three-way special election for U.S. Congress. This time there was no denying the "spoiler" impact of a Green in the race. Conservative Republican Bill Redmond defeated Democrat Eric Serna by just 3%. Miller's 17% of the vote was a clear factor in Serna's defeat.
Following the exercising of the spoiler part of the party's "Green clout" in the 1997 race, even more progressive and moderate Democrats made overtures to move towards fusion, whether practical or legal. According to John Nichols, in the August, 1997 issue of The Progressive magazine ("Spoiling for success: in New Mexico, the Green Party costs the Democrats a Congressional seat"), Bill Richardson, then the most prominent New Mexico Democrat, and a Latino, called for "early entreaties" to the Greens, and even talked about a Green-Democrat fusion ticket for Governor in 1998. Also, in early '98 Shirley Baca, a popular, progressive Chicana Democratic State Legislator, approached the Greens about running as a fusion candidate for Congress in New Mexico's southern district, which had a reactionary Republican incumbent. She was even willing to use her situation to put forth another test case on fusion to the New Mexico courts, which many Greens and legal experts believed they could have won.
At the same time, Greens continued to win on the local level. Fran Sena Gallegos was elected as a Santa Fe Judge in March of 1996, Gary Claus was elected to the Silver City Council in May of 1997, and Cris Moore was reelected to the Santa Fe City Council in March of 1998.
But the accumulation of high-profile "spoiler" races had begun to dampen the tenuous coalition the Greens had built with Roberto Mondragon and his progressive allies in the Chicano community.
Mondragon, a life-long friend of Eric Serna's, left the Greens and returned to Serna and the Democrats when the Greens endorsed Carol's run in 1997.
At this point the New Mexico Greens were at a crossroads. Legal fusion, at least as a national strategy, was dead. However, it was still legally possible in New Mexico; there was support for it among even some mainstream Democrats like Richardson, and, even without it, there were practical things that Greens and progressive Democrats had cooperated on up until then, and could continue to cooperate on.
However, at the Green Party's State Convention in 1998, Carol Miller refused the urgings of a number of the elders in the party that she run for another, less volatile office, like Secretary of State, where many felt she had a real chance of winning. Instead, she choose to run again for Congress, this time against popular NM Attorney General Tom Udall. As Attorney General, Udall had protected the Greens' ballot status with a ruling, and he was supportive of many parts of the Green Party Platform.
At that same convention, the Greens voted formally not to continue to seek fusion, but to instead push for IRV as its major electoral reform. They did stay out of the Governor's race, but they refused to support Shirley Baca for Congress, or moderate Republican Lorenzo Garcia in his race for Treasurer (even though he had gained the Greens their highest vote total ever in a statewide race, 33%, running as a Green in 1994).
Besides Miller's race, 1998 also brought two more spoiler races where the Democrats lost. Green Bob Anderson gained more than 15% of the vote in a Congressional special election in Albuquerque in the spring of 1998, and then more than 10% in the General Election in the fall.
In both races, Anderson's percentages prevented the Democrat from winning and helped elect conservative Heather Wilson, who is now a national force in Republican politics.
In the meantime, Carol Miller received less than 4% in her race against Tom Udall, avoiding another Democratic loss. However, her decision to run caused a major split amongst Greens over practical fusion vs. the more purist spoiler/IRV strategy. Many Greens in Miller's district and around the state had openly expressed concern about the spoiler effect of her run in the Udall race, and Abe Gutmann, even went so far as to organize a "Greens for Udall"
campaign. He was ultimately censured by the party for taking financial support from Udall for this effort, but his censure led to an ongoing internal struggle that ultimately split the party in two, and that continues to this day.
Along with that, Miller's insistence on running against Udall, coupled with the outcome of the 1998 Congressional races in Albuquerque, angered many in organized labor, the People-of-Color communities, and other former allies of the Greens in the gay and lesbian, environmentalist, and women's movements. Most people agreed that the Democratic candidate in Albuquerque was particularly weak, but they also felt that the Republican, Heather Wilson, was infinitely worse.
Consequently, in 1999, a coalition of progressive People-of-Color groups attacked the New Mexico Greens with a public campaign that reached the national media, accusing them of being racist and not caring about working-class people.
The Greens eventually met with and worked-out an uneasy truce with these groups, but the die was cast. From then on, for all intents and purposes, active alliances between the Greens and People-of-Color organizations - as well as most of organized labor and other progressive groups - were essentially over.
In 2000, there was yet another high-level spoiler race in the Albuquerque Congressional race, coupled with the impact of Ralph Nader's national race. So, in a period of six years, the Green Party of New Mexico found themselves involved in 6 high-profile "spoiler"
races, in addition to the Nader 2000 race. In each race, there were good reasons not to like the choices the Democrats offered. But in each case, the Republican who was elected was measurably worse than the Democrat. And in the case of Udall's election, the state Green Party officially opposed him, and then punished the most prominent Green who supported him, alienating many of Udall's supporters, most of whom would have supported Greens in other races.
All of this set the stage for what has taken place since. Despite the Greens continued arguments that IRV is ultimately in the Democrats'
interest to support, the Democratic establishment appears to have chosen instead to wait out the Greens. They apparently believe that the Greens will eventually wear out their welcome with the people, who they think will ultimately decide that it's better to elect a bad Democrat than vote for a Green and see an even worse Republican elected.
The Democrats' strategy seems to be working. At present there are only two elected Greens in office, down from a high of five in 2000.
New Mexico's experience with their own six Spoiler races, combined with the impact of the 2000 Presidential race, has left every state Green Party with a spoiler "albatross" that it must begin to address realistically. In order to implement practical reforms like Instant Runoff Voting, Greens need to have at least a working relationship with Democrats, especially those closest to the beliefs and values of the Green Party Platform. But the effects of continuous spoiler races, without counter-balancing cooperative efforts with the broader progressive community, have been to drive a wedge between the two camps.
A different strategy is needed. I advocate that we return to the original New Mexico strategy of fusion, both legal fusion, where possible, and practical fusion where it isn't. That does not mean we should abandon the quest for IRV, or that we would never use the threat of "spoiling" a race. The "spoiler" races in 1994 and 1997 obviously had some major positive outcomes towards building the party (though there were also a major downside to the 1997 race – the loss of Mondragon and our coalition with many in the people-of-color communities).
Our initial judicious use of a combination of practical fusion and spoiling in the mid-90s enabled us to come very close (one vote, in the last legislative committee) to getting IRV on the ballot as a constitutional amendment.
However, after 1997 the party became too rigid in its approach, too unwilling to accept certain political realities that they were not in a position to change at that time, and too lacking in collective knowledge about how to negotiate with the Green Clout they had built.
Instead, the political purism of the New Mexico Greens of the late 90s (and this author embarrassingly includes himself as all-too-often a part of that purist camp), led to too few wins on the local level to counter-balance the effect of the high-profile spoiler races, and a growing unwillingness on the part of new candidates to step forward and run on the Green Party line. This left the public with the perception that the Greens may have admirable values and good ideas, but don't have the knowledge to make them reality.
Looking back, one cannot help but wonder, what if, after the 1997 race, Carol Miller had instead run for Secretary of State and the Greens had instead supported Udall openly, as well as Shirley Baca in her southern New Mexico Congressional race (a race she could also have run with our support)? Both Democrats were basically supportive of most of the Green Party Platform. What if both of them had won, with open Green support? What if, instead of running in the second election in '98, Bob Anderson had declared the first race as essentially the first outcome of an IRV-style selection process, with him being the candidate disqualified in the first round of voting, and thrown his support to the Democratic candidate in the second race.
It's possible that New Mexico would now have possibly three Democrats in Congress instead of just one, and two of them more progressive than most Democrats in Congress.
Would not the Green Party in New Mexico also have looked different today? When progressives saw that the Green Party used their Green Clout in more than just negative ways, the Green Party wouldn't have been yoked with the "spoiler" albatross. Green Clout would be seen as a force that could help Democrats as well as hurt them. In turn, the New Mexico Green Party today would be enjoying increased support from labor, progressive organizations, People of Color organizations and progressive Democrats, all grateful for the critical support of the Greens - support that had been the key to victory in these elections.
Perhaps then, Abe Gutmann's 45% vote for City Council in 1997, and Melissa McDonald's 46% in her 2000 race for County Commissioner, would have instead been stretched to a winning 51%, and Greens would have representation in the governments of two of the most influential counties in the state. Perhaps Tom Udall and other progressive Democrats would have been so grateful for our support that they would have continued their qualified support for the party, and we would be growing in numbers, candidates, and newly elected Greens, instead of scratching our heads as to what went wrong.
Unfortunately, the history of New Mexico's Green Party cannot be rewritten. Greens can only learn from it, apply it to their own times, develop new strategies, and try to do better in their future work. But the history lesson of New Mexico is that it's time for a change in strategy, if the Green Party is to grow and thrive.
As we go to press, there is some indication that the climate in New Mexico is starting to change. Popular Green leader Rick Lass has decided to drop out of his race for the New Mexico State Legislature, so as not to split the vote with a progressive Democrat, who has a better chance of winning, and who supports much of the Green Party Platform. Perhaps once again, the New Mexico Green Party will provide a model for Green Parties all over the country to look up to.

Another lost moment

Tuesday's election results shocked the nation. This surprise was not about a war-time president winning reelection as much as the Democrats losing to one of the most despised political figures of modern times. While it wasn't a landslide, it came pretty close.
Quietly, with veiled - and not so veiled - help from conservative churches across the country, Democrats were defeated. The majority of voters ignored the important issues of the day - ballooning deficits, the gutting of domestic spending, billions wasted on a needless invasion, the erosion of our civil rights and Osama bin Ladin on the lam - and instead determined that what Adam and Steve do together is a bigger danger to the nation.
There is some legitimacy to the fear of social issues. Things like stem-cell research and gay marriage might wig out any good Christian - but so should biometric microchips being installed in humans and required retina scans just to fly on an airplane.
While it is clear that the Democratic Party is out of touch with some voters, the voters are also out of touch with what is best, just, and right. I don't agree with the premise, but I now understand the frustration of conservatives who suggest that ill-informed people shouldn't be allowed to vote.
Tuesday's election was a hard-hit slap against the media and cultural elite delivered by ordinary people. They are clearly sick and tired of being denigrated for attending church, wanting values in society and schools, and doing what they think is best for their families. Unfortunately, these folks missed the larger picture: The corporate and war culture worshipped by this administration - and some Democrats - is more of a threat to civil society and the United States than anything pumped out by Hollywood.
A lot has been said about the Electoral College in this election cycle. But, once again, the American voter can learn from history and understand why the process is the way it is.
The founders established the Electoral College to keep the mob from ruling. Some changes should be discussed - like some sort of instant runoff voting, ending the rigged two-party system, or awarding Electoral College votes in a more proportional manner. Opponents of the Electoral College can look at it this way: Despite John Kerry's faults and losing the popular vote by over three million, he was within 70,000 votes of winning the presidency.
[Note: Kerry may have conceded too early. The Cleveland Plains Dealer reported last week that over 92,000 punch-card ballots in Ohio were rejected by the tabulation machines. Another 156,000 provisional votes have yet to be counted. Bush won the state by fewer than 135,000 votes. If Kerry earned more than 75 percent of the ballots not counted, he would win the state and be elected president. So, are they going to count the votes this time?]
Kerry's lack of a clear vision and refusal to answer devastating accusations about his war record killed his campaign. Some of us warned voters early in the primary cycle that Kerry would not be able to cut it in the red states. Having watched him for close to two decades, I was not surprised that the Republicans were able to tag him as the out-of-touch Massachusetts elitist he has always been. As Ralph Nader has said, "The Democrats have become very good at electing very bad Republicans."
Over the last few days, I've wondered what might have happened if we could turn back the clock. I thought of Rep. Dick Gephardt stumping throughout the heartland at closed factory after closed factory, calling the president "a miserable failure." I envisioned Howard Dean exhorting the men and women of the Deep South - Confederate flags and all - with the virtues of fiscal responsibility and his endorsements from the NRA when he was a governor.
Such a lost moment.
Isn't it also interesting that the Democratic establishment and Washington cocktail crowd who wanted Kerry so badly were worried that the civil union issue in Vermont would sink Dean in a national election, yet it was an actual court decision about gay marriage in Massachusetts that helped sink Kerry?
It's time the Democrats stopped listening to the insiders.
In Massachusetts, Republican Gov. Mitt Romney's effort to bring some balance to the Legislature was a $3 million flop. The intention was good, but the implementation was careless. Instead of campaigning on much-needed reforms, the state GOP in last-minute mailers lashed out against some incumbents for being soft on crime. Examinations by the local press revealed the mailers to be not entirely accurate and the negativity backfired: The GOP lost three House and one Senate seat.
Despite the whining and crying about the press by entrenched politicians, setting up debates, investigating voting records, analyzing campaign finance reports, and writing about an incumbent's history are not "hooligan tactics" or unfounded attacks.
Most civil individuals know that it is immature to gloat in the face of victory. Thin-skinned elected officials who believe that the slightest criticism is a personal assault should be mindful that they get the coverage they earn and deserve.
Moving forward, the Democrats have to stop obsessing about social issues and instead, worry about the economic conditions of working families, which will win them back the red states. For almost three decades, both parties have been chipping away at the earning power of the working class. Most workers earn less today in real dollars than they did in 1972. It's no longer "Vote or Die," it is lead or move out of the way.
If the party refuses to reform its ways and work towards the interests of the majority of us out here in the real world, it will never be able to gain power again.

Friday, November 5, 2004

Red vs. blue; definitely white

Impromptu musings; Election Day aftermath by Kristina Arvanitis of Wicked Words.

I realize now, once and for all, that I no longer know America.

The voters have decided that they care more about two consenting adults’ sex lives and their personal choice to make a commitment to one another than the fact that their children face a crushing burden of college debt and a gloomy job market upon graduation.

The voters have decided that the lives of more and more American soldiers, most with few opportunities in life, are expendable in our pursuit of invisible weapons and our quest to punish – not Osama bin Laden – but dictators that did not have a connection to September 11th.

In the eyes of the electorate, restricting a woman’s right to make choices about her body and her pregnancy trumps the need for a clean environment, a viable Social Security system, and scientific research that could mean the cures for cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, and spinal cord injuries.

An undefined sense of “security” promised by a warmongering president trumps the American citizenry’s right to privacy. Americans will apparently readily relinquish rights guaranteed to them by the Constitution and by the soldiers who fought and died valiantly in justified wars to preserve the American way of life. A majority of the electorate will gladly submit to sneak and peek searches of their homes, despite the fact that the incumbent president ignores credible security threats from nations like North Korea, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, ignores the urgent need of nations like Sudan and Haiti, and ignores the pleas of former allies to stop policing the world.

Can it simply be attributed to voter ignorance, or is the fear and bigotry of others still to blame for the disappointing result of this election? Or is it the utter cluelessness of the Democrats who fail to grasp that there are millions of liberal young people just waiting to be heard? The failure of John Kerry to connect with others is definitely a huge reason why so many that doubted Bush's leadership refused to lend him their support.

As an inhabitant of the blue states, I don’t know this American where a vague notion what is “moral” trumps all other things. Perhaps, as the Republipundits say, I have lost touch with the rest of America, the bright reds of the South, the Midwest and the mountain states; the second of the “two Americas” that John Edwards used to highlight on the trail. While Edwards attempted to delineate the differences between the poor and middle class and the rich; the difference really appears to be a lack of education, a dearth of informed decision-making and an almost-eager readiness to be manipulated by the media, political advertisements, and a blind loyalty of a wartime president.

Exit polls (although their accuracy has been called into question today, obviously) suggest that most voters in the states with ballot questions about gay marriage cited "morality" and "values" as their number one determinant of their vote for president. The issue of gay marriage – as minor as that may be – may have just decided the most important election in decades. I suppose I don’t know this America that hates gays and lesbians so much that they are willing to jeopardize their children’s futures in order to dictate what love can be legally recognized. These so-called religious voters preach the values of Jesus and the Bible while casting their ballots; never mind that Jesus never took a position on homosexuality, His whole philosophy, in fact, was about helping those in need without regard to race, religion or national origin. His exhortation to render those things unto Caesar’s which are Caesar’s and those to God which are God’s may just have been an early call to separate church and state. I wonder how many of those who voted solely on the issues of gays, God and guns have actually read the Bible.

On a more personal note, here I am, poised to graduate (again) during a Bush presidency. What will that mean for my and my generation's job prospects and future prosperity? When looking at colleges in 1998, I came upon job fairs and employment recruitments for the eager university seniors who had the fortune to graduate in the time of Bill Clinton. At least 250 employers lined up at my then future alma mater of Brown University. In 2002, that number had dwindled to less than 25, with the likes of car rental companies and the U.S. Army looking to recruit the once optimistic young Ivy League graduates. After six months of searching, I was able to land a job that I liked, but one that was not my initial target, and certainly not enough to pay both rent and college loans. Some college friends are still out of work. Others are unhappy and underpaid at companies that they never anticipated working for. The voices of America's youth are muffled. When will we make ourselves heard?

Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Aftermath 2004, Part 1

There will be a lot said about the 2004 election. Scholars, activists, organizers and historians will be saying a lot in the future. However, here is my reaction, brief and bulleted.

Were the Democrats really that organized?
In this campaign, much has been written and said about how active and organized the Democrats and Democratic-leaning groups like were in their efforts to defeat President George W. Bush. However, it is very clear that they weren't organized in anything more than their anger towards the president.
As Charlie Cook said earlier tonight on MSNBC, Democrats would have voted for a "potted plant" against Bush. For the most part, this was true. Most of those votes were secure. Sure, they might gain 1 percent by motivating more Democrats to get to the polls. But those folks who were against Bush were never going to miss the 2004 election. The key to winning this election was both holding your base and going after the middle swing voters, something Bush did very successfully, or so it seems.
The good news for Democrats was also the fact that most of the Ralph Nader [and to a lesser extent, Green David Cobb] votes were going to the Democratic nominee despite John Kerry's lack of solid stances on important issues. Those voters were clearly scared into not supposedly making the same mistake twice, although many didn't consider it a mistake at the time. It should be noted that Nader, as the 'zine predicted, was not a factor. Imagine how much money - probably millions - was wasted attacking Nader. In the end, there was no Nader factor.
The bad news is that no matter how the nattering nabobs of liberalism go on and on about having a progressive nation, as we see time and time again, the nation isn't progressive. It is liberal on the coasts but populist, moderate and conservative in the middle. The key to Democrats winning nationally isn't to alienate their own base by trying to out-conservative conservatives, like they did during the DLC days, but to be more populist on trade and working issues like Dick Gephardt and Pat Buchanan.
Unfortunately Kerry, the aloof, flip-flopping, do-nothing Mass. Senator, with five mansions, a jet, who snowboards, who wind-surfs with the "plumbers and electricians on Nantucket," was never going to be accepted by the Skoal-chewing, trailer park-living because they can't afford anything else, bar stool warming, and gospel singing and praying folks of middle America. John Mellancamp, Bruce Springsteen, and the Dixie Chicks tried to pull those folks over, but it just didn't work. Kerry was the wrong nominee for this time in the nation's history. In this cycle, the Democrats really needed someone who had actually fought for Middle America like Gephardt or someone who was a fiscal conservative with a good NRA voting record like Howard Dean [or both, together]. Imagine Gephardt campaigning at every closed factory across the Midwest. How could Kerry do that? You can almost hear the quote: "Yeah, I first voted for outsourcing via NAFTA, but now I'd vote against it." Hogwash. Mickey Kantor, the negotiator for Clinton's NAFTA, was his "manufacturing czar." Former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, the architect of Clinton's $50 billion peso bailout, was working on Kerry's economic policy. With friends like that ...
With all the 527 ads and paid organizers, George Soros' millions, the celebrities, and the relentless attacks on Nader, the Democrats still couldn't win. All the money in the world may have made a small difference in places like New Hampshire but it didn't help anywhere else. This is shocking.
It is so clear now: The Democrats completely blew the best opportunity they had because they had a lousy nominee who didn't know who he was or why he was running and now we are stuck with Bush. God help us all.

Huge Bush turnout
While turnout was higher, it wasn't astronomically higher [20 or 30 million], as predicted by most Democrats. The droves of new voters predicted to be coming out against Bush never came out. Reportedly, the youth vote, who were supposed to be motivated by fear of a draft or P. Diddy wearing "Vote or Die" T-shirts, also didn't come out, although we will take a look at that once more data is finalized [Note to P. Diddy: It is clear that young folks know that politicians are a sham. Stick to fashion and producing, and hope young people don't smarten up to the fact that they are more than consumer slaves].
In fact, it was Bush who gained a lot from the new voters and was probably helped by the veiled - and not so veiled - organizing by Methodist and Baptist churches across the country. These churches took a page out of the Democratic black church playbook. Look at the results from the last two elections for an eye-opener about what really happened with the "new voters" in this election cycle:

Bush: 59,095,822
Kerry: 55,532,080
Nader: 395,523
Badnarik: 374,586
Peroutka: 128,965
Cobb: 104,517

Gore: 50,996,116
Bush: 50,456,169
Nader: 2,703,869
Buchanan: 438,487
Browne: 375,024

Roughly 10 million more voters went to the polls in 2004 - and Bush received over 8 million of them. This is a shocking statistic. How can it be? How can all these people go to the polls and vote for this guy? It's just unbelievable. But after looking at more data and the machines used to count the votes, it might sink in a bit more. [Note: Also, according to early data, 2.7 million more blacks came out to vote, according to David Bositis in a Unity '04 news conference on C-Span Thursday afternoon. Bositis credited these new voters, saying they are more progressive, but acknowledged that Bush's black numbers in Ohio increased from 9 to 16 percent, buoyed by an anti-gay marriage ballot initiative which went down in flames, despite the Republican governor and AG asking voters not to support it]. However, with Bush taking 80 percent of the new voters, it looks like many blacks came out to the polls to support Bush.
While Bush did surpass the results of previous "landslides," he gained little in the way of actual blue Democratic states. He held his own states and then won New Mexico and Iowa while Kerry took back New Hampshire. Despite higher turnout, John Kerry faired worse than Al Gore did in 2000. Granted, there was a bit of redistricting that shifted seven Electoral College votes from blue Gore states to red Bush states. This clearly made Kerry's effort a bit uphill but the nation is still divided and Bush doesn’t really have a mandate.

Democrats abandoned Kerry
The problem for Kerry was that in state after state, as predicted in this 'zine, Democrats went for Bush in droves and it made all the difference between Kerry winning and losing. According to exit polls, Democrats voted for Bush in these states, by these numbers:

West Virginia: 30 percent of Democrats voted for Bush; Kerry lost by about 9,650 votes out of 745,000 cast.
Louisiana: 21 percent of Democrats voted for Bush; Kerry lost by more than 282,000 votes out of almost 1.5 million cast.
New Mexico: 15 percent of Democrats voted for Bush; Kerry lost by less than 12,000 votes out of 725,000 cast.
Arkansas: 18 percent of Democrats voted for Bush; Kerry lost by slightly more than 100,000 votes out of more than 1 million cast.
New Mexico: 15 percent of Democrats voted for Bush; Kerry lost by less than 12,000 votes out of 725,000 cast.
Florida: 14 percent of Democrats voted for Bush; Kerry lost by 376,500 votes out of 7.3 million cast.
Nevada: 10 percent of Democrats voted for Bush; Kerry lost by 21,600 votes out of 820,000 cast.
Ohio: 9 percent of Democrats voted for Bush; Kerry lost by 146,483 votes out of almost 6 million cast.
Iowa: 8 percent of Democrats voted for Bush; Kerry lost by 7,251 votes out of almost 1.5 million cast.

No one can survive this kind of pummeling from their own party's registered voters. This is important because a shift of these Democrats to Kerry in Nevada and New Mexico would have tied the election. Add Iowa, a traditionally Democratic state, and Kerry wins - even without Ohio and Florida. Now, many people in the blogosphere when they saw polls showing Democrats supporting Bush sloughed it off, saying these folks aren't really Democrats. They are conservative and they just never changed their affiliations, many said. Well, that might be true. However, when these folks bother to change their affiliations - look out. The Republican voter registration numbers will swell. And if that isn't the case, what's a Democrat? If there is a "D" next to their names, aren't they still "Democrats"? Yes, they are. You don't have to be a volunteer for the party or a super-liberal to be a Democrat. There are conservative Democrats. But millions of them voted for Bush, as you can see. The Democrats should have been more worried about these Democrats than the handful that might - and did -vote for Nader.
These Democrats also seemed to have voted against their nominees in other races too. The Democratic Party lost three congressional seats and four senate seats. This is not good for a party that claimed before the election that they would have the U.S. Senate and maybe, although slimly, the House.
The party is in a worse position than they were in 2000. Clearly, Terry McAuliffe must go. Period. Bush and the Republicans have more power. And for all this talk of "unity" and "healing," their agenda - not unlike most of Clinton's agenda - is not the agenda of the regular folks out here in the real world.

Gays, guns, and God?
It is very interesting that the exit polls were so off, showing Kerry winning by landslides at 5 p.m. These polls were used to exhort conservative voters to the polling booths. Drudge posted the "good news" for Kerry early. Later, rightwing talker Sean Hannity begged his audience to go out and vote, stating that exit polls were showing that Kerry was going to win. Hannity also specifically asked voters in Florida and Ohio to drop everything and go and vote for Bush.
Hannity, Drudge, and others, clearly used the early information to exhort their voters to vote. The reverse effect, for any liberal readers or listeners, was that Kerry would be winning and maybe they didn't need to vote after all. I wonder how many people didn't rush home from work or didn't take an extra 15 at lunch to go out and vote based on these results. Drudge claimed that over 25 million people went to his site on Election Day. Hannity reportedly has 10 million listeners. Their announcements that Kerry was going to win clearly had influence.
Yet in 2000, when CBS' Dan Rather called Florida early for Gore at 7 p.m., based on exit polls, Republicans screamed bloody murder for years because a few towns on the panhandle hadn't voted yet. Some of those people may have been discouraged from voting. And Republicans used this to attack the mainstream media for years. But isn't it interesting that no one has said one word about the use of these exit polls to scare Bush supporters into voting or Kerry supporters into not voting?
Despite the flawed exit polls, the media still points to these polls for what they believe is relevant data on the pulse of the nation. Maybe in the future, exit polls should only be used for this purpose and not to predict the winners. Or, maybe they should be ignored entirely. But for now, this is what we have to look at.
According to exit polls, the most important issue of people polled as they exited the polls was not the economy, health care, education, or terrorism, but "moral issues," by 22 percent.
This is pretty shocking. Osama goes on TV a few days before the election threatening the United States. Millions have lost their jobs and if they have found new jobs, they earn less than the old jobs. Health care costs are skyrocketing and most workers can't move to another job because of health care issues such as preexisting conditions or transition problems. Thousands of our soldiers have been maimed or killed in an invasion that didn't need to occur. College tuition is higher than ever and you can't get a job at McDonald's now without a college degree in Cash Register 101.
No, of all the things in the world we should be worried about, it's moral issues. Well, there is some legitimacy to that. Things like stem-cell research and gay marriage might wig out any good Christian - but so should biometric microchips being installed in humans and required retina scans just to fly on an airplane. How moral is that? Haven't these people read Revelations?
Of those moral issues, same-sex marriage was probably the biggest lightning rod for social conservatives, acceptance of which was rejected on 10 state ballots. Not only that, but the fact that Kerry's home state Supreme Court orders the acceptance of gay marriage - something reviled by middle America - didn't help his cause. Isn't it interesting that the Democratic establishment and Washington cocktail crowd who wanted Kerry so badly were worried that the civil union issue in Vermont would sink former-Gov. Howard Dean in a national election, yet it was an actual court decision about gay marriage that helped sink Kerry? Clearly, for millions the fear of the acceptance of Adam and Steve was more powerful than unending war and the inability to put food on the table.
But there is hypocrisy about this issue.
Yesterday, there was Mary Cheney, Dick and Lynne's lesbian daughter, and her "friend," on the stage at the Ronald Reagan Center during Bush's speech to the nation. That seems like a pretty bold reversal of the "love the sinner, hate the sin" rule we constantly hear preached from the pulpit of the red states, doesn't it? Or is it just one rule for them and another rule for the rest of us?
Many complain about the gay agenda being foisted on the American people - in our schools, churches, society, and courts - yet there was the Cheney family on the stage with Bush, clearly accepting their lesbian daughter's "wife." Where is Dr. James Dobson now? Why isn't he screaming about the fact that Cheney's lesbian daughter had her "wife" on stage with him after scaring the American voters with "It's Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve"? I wonder what would be said if Kerry had won and allowed a gay stepson to have his lover on the stage. Do you think the Limbaughs of the world would have attacked him for foisting his beliefs on gays onto the American people?
The NRA also got their base out to vote for Bush which is a bit tricky since it is clear that the Bush administration is also heading down the path of friendly fascism in this department too. The NRA was able to target Kerry as a gun-grabbing liberal - which he is - and all the camo and geese hunting were never going to save Kerry with these voters. This is another problem Democrats have that they need to deal with long-term. Gun control, in the classic, leftist sense, is dead, and it should be. These rights - to keep and bear arms and to form a militia to defend the nation against enemies foreign and domestic - are sacred to many Americans. And yes, it is about being able to use a weapon to be safe in your home and on your persons and it is about hunting. But the Founders were also more specific about the right: The citizenry should be able to take up arms against their government. In 2004, as liberals began to worry about another stolen election, many of them joked online that maybe they should start looking into this Second Amendment thing. Plus, gun control has gotten so stupid in some places, like the Massachusetts Legislature, which passed a sweeping gun bill a couple of years ago that required a safety lock to be put on a historic musket on display in the State House. How foolish was that? While we don't want to bring the nation back to the Wild, Wild West, these rights are just as important as free speech and search and seizure rights. Democrats need to learn and accept this.
Lastly, the moral folks who came out to vote did so because they believe Bush was a "Christian" man. While I would never question his faith, I do question his actions. If he calls himself a Christian, he probably is. But you have to wonder if he is following Christ or pretending to be God. Far too often, those graced by faith believe that they are a vehicle for God and then therefore can offer God’s retribution like God. As we know, the scriptures are clear that those who act like God will be punished for doing so. Far too often, Christians forget to practice what they preach and are clearly too influenced by preachers from the pulpit who condemn sinners and forget the words of Christ. No true Christian who has read the words of Christ would have invaded Iraq. It really is that simple. You can’t free a people by massacring tens of thousands of them. You can't free people by allowing sanctions that kill millions of women and children. You can't free people by targeting their water supply so that they die agonizingly of cholera. You can't free people by using depleted uranium munitions which cause the most horrid of birth defects. You just can't free a people this way.
Outside MSNBC's "Democracy Center" on Tuesday afternoon there was a scribbled single word sign: "SHAME." It didn't take the network long to remove the guy, but he was dead right. Christians should be ashamed of themselves for being used like they have been in this election.
Or maybe that is the point. They don't mind being used. As we all know, you can't stop Armageddon. It is coming whether it is Bush or Kerry in the eyes of those who believe. All the ads showing Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld shaking the hands of the Butcher of Baghdad weren't going to change these minds even though it should. Millions spent on video of our children facing deficits, death and war were not going to sway these voters. All the "Fahrenheit 9/11" films weren't going to change these votes. All the investigations - from Vanity Fair, to the newspapers, to the blogs - none of it mattered. While it is clear that the Democratic Party is out of touch with the voters of America, the voters of America are also out of touch with what is best, just, and right.

In future posts, we'll be looking at where the Democratic Party should go from here, whether or not the voting machines can be trusted, electoral reform and whether or not young people actually did go out and vote.

Monday, November 1, 2004

Vote tomorrow!
Yes, Election Day is finally here. Thank God, it will all soon be over. And this, coming from an admitted political junkie who has finally become sick and tired of this campaign.
Although, it was nice to get praised at work for a lot of the stories and effort we put into covering this campaign season. Our company sponsored a couple of debates and also published questionaire answers from the candidates. No one can complain that we didn't go out of our way to share information with the public.
Once again, the two major parties have outdone each other in the nastiness department, with the help of the media. Here in New Hampshire, the Democrats have really been pummeling away at Bush - and our sleazy Gov. Craig Benson - with pretty good glossy mailers. The TV ads have been pretty over-the-top too, especially the anti-Kerry 527 ads. Some of them are pretty funny.
In the office pool, I picked Kerry to win, 283 to 255 [Interestingly, The Hedgehog Report, a Republican site, has it Kerry 287, Bush 251]. I awarded Kerry all of Gore's states plus New Hampshire and Ohio. I also awarded Bush with one Electoral College vote from Maine. The tie breaker will come down to popular vote, which I gave to Kerry, 50 to 49, with Nader getting 1 and Badnarik less than 1. Actually, all of my co-workers did a pretty good job of guessing who would win. Only one guy picked Bush to win with most picking slim Kerry wins.

If Kerry loses, don't blame Nader

If by some strange chance John Kerry loses the presidential election, don't blame Ralph Nader. The Democratic Party has done everything in its power to keep Nader off of state ballots - abandoning its supposed "democratic" principals. It has been interesting listening to all the liberals say that the nation "can't afford" democracy in this election because of George W. Bush. Can't afford democracy? Since when?
While the nation is a constitutional republic, it is founded on the notion that anyone can do just about anything they want to do, especially in the political arena. I have supported Nader's right to run in this election but I am furious by how he was treated. However, I am also encouraged by some of his recent statements, including those Nader made in Manchester on Saturday ["Nader to Democrats: 'It’s not over'"]:
Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader Saturday warned Democrats to expect legal action over tactics he called "disgraceful" and "fascistic."
"Stay tuned. It's not over," he said.
Democrats have tried to keep Nader off the ballot in several states, including New Hampshire. Nader called their efforts "the most disgraceful, fascistic practices in the modern history of the Democratic Party."
Good for you, Ralph. Sue away! Make them pay for what they have done to you. They deserve it, the way they have behaved. Can you imagine the yelling and screaming from the Democrats and liberals if the Bushies went after the Libertarians the way they have gone after Nader?

But frankly, here is the reason if Kerry loses Nader can't be blamed: Democrats voting for Bush! Almost no one but Ralph Nader and I have said word one about all the registered Democrats who are planning on voting for Bush tomorrow. In 2000, had even less than 1 percent of the 13 percent of Democrats who voted for Bush in Florida or 2 percent of the Democrats who voted for Bush in New Hampshire voted for Al Gore, Gore would be cruising to reelection now. But no, few people in the political world ever talked about before or after 2000. It was all Nader the spoiler this, Nader the traitor that.

However, in 2004, a similar result could occur. In poll after poll after poll during this campaign, I have posted the huge numbers of Democrats who are plnning on voting for Bush with few Democrats voting for Nader. Well, one more time, here are some of the numbers from the last round of polls posted.

* Arkansas: Survey USA - Bush 51, Kerry 46. 9 percent of Democrats, 11 percent of self-proclaimed "liberals," and 25 percent of pro-choice voters supporting Bush.

* Colorado: Survey USA - Bush 52, Kerry 46. 9 percent of Democrats, 8 percent of liberals, and 32 percent of pro-choice voters supporting Bush.

* Florida: Survey USA - Bush 49, Kerry 48. 11 percent of Democrats, 14 percent of liberals, and 34 percent of pro-choice voters supporting Bush.

* Iowa: Survey USA - Bush 49, Kerry 49. 5 percent of Democrats, 15 percent of liberals, and 28 percent of pro-choice voters supporting Bush.

* Nevada: Survey USA - Bush 49, Kerry 49. 9 percent of Democrats, 8 percent of liberals, and 35 percent of pro-choice voters supporting Bush.

* New Hampshire: ARG - Bush 47, Kerry 47, Nader 2. 8 percent of Democrats voting for Bush. 1 percent of Republicans and 0 percent of Democrats voting for Nader.

* New Mexico: ARG - Kerry 48, Bush 47, Nader 2. 20 percent of Democrats voting for Bush. 1 percent of Democrats voting for Nader.

* Ohio: Survey USA - Bush 49, Kerry 47. 9 percent of Democrats, 7 percent of liberals, and 27 percent of pro-choice voters supporting Bush.

* Wisconsin: ARG - Kerry 48, Bush 47, Nader 1. 10 percent of Democrats are voting for Bush. 1 percent of Republicans and 0 percent of Democrats are voting for Nader.

In state after state, Democrats voting for Bush are costing Kerry Electoral College votes or making states closer than they should be. In state after state, Nader is either not a factor or helping Kerry by taking votes away from Bush, something I have predicted here for months.

In the case of New Hampshire, it will be in more difficult for Nader since he is the only independent on the ballot here. So, no matter what happens, if Kerry loses, Nader will be blamed, even though he will most surely earn the votes of conservatives and Republicans as a protest vote just as he has done in the past.

It is unfortunate that this election cycle has turned out the way it did. I hope for the best and just decision. But our nation truly needs - and deserves - more political choices. The days of the rigged two party system, rigged by the same two parties, must come to an end.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

R.I.P. John Peel: Groundbreaking UK DJ John Peel died today. He was 65: ["Legendary British DJ John Peel Dies"]. Most underground music fans know Peel from his "Peel Session" releases. Because he was such a big alternative DJ in England, bands would re-record their songs for his show, creating special versions which would often be released as rare import EPs. Such a loss for the industry.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

This is too funny ...

This is too funny:
["Bush Wins Florida!"]

This is not:
Of course, the voting problems have just started. Here is a roundup of some of the stories:
["Battleground vote fraud alleged"]. There has been a lot on the Web about this story.
["Florida looks into vote fraud"]. Again, Florida. Ugh.
["Florida probes activists' voter-registration effort"].
["Election tactics push envelope"]. Hmm: Don't give Republicans absentee ballots, eh?
["Voting Irregularities In Dona Ana County"].
["Early voting brings cries of bullying"]. I wonder if they should be allowing this early voting stuff. Absentee ballots? Sure. Machine voting weeks before the election. I don't know.
["Vote fraud: What they aren't telling you"]. OK, Devvy Kidd is a little out there. But, that doesn't mean she is lying.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Dems twisting figures: This was splashed all over Common Dreams last week from Democrat Celinda Lake's group, again, twisting the numbers around to make Nader look bad: ["Nader Voters Favor Kerry Over Bush by 3-to-1 Margin"]. Of course, nowhere in the press release does it mention that this polling firm is a partisan Democratic strategy firm. Note from their Web site:

"Lake Snell Perry & Associates principals are among the Democratic Party's leading strategists ... LSPA is led by its president, Celinda Lake ..."
As all politicos know, Lake is a long-time Democratic Party strategist, who along with Stanley Greenberg, has worked on almost every Democratic presidential campaign in the last two decades. A Google of her name often labels her "a Democratic pollster." So, of course a pro-Democrat Party group is going to do anything they can to make Nader look bad just like all the other thugs out there attacking Nader. Also, look at the specifics:

"The survey was conducted in Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, West Virginia, for The Nation Institute, a public foundation dedicated to an independent, free press. ... The survey was conducted October 17-19 of 500 registered voters (including 300 Nader voters and 200 who like Nader but are undecided or weak Kerry supporters). It has a margin of error of +/- 4.4 percent."
So, they interviewed 500 voters in seven states. That's like 71 voters per state! You can't determine what people think with only 71 interviews in each of those states!
However, let's look at the exit polling data from 2000 for some more thorough results.
First, in Florida, Nader took equally from both sides: 1 percent of the Republican vote and 1 percent of the Democrat vote. In New Hampshire, Nader earned twice as many Republican votes as Democrat votes: 2 to 1. In other states, Nader took equally from both parties or even more from Republicans despite the refusal of partisans to accept these facts.
In 2004 polls, as I have noted here numerous times, Nader is taking votes from Republicans everywhere. As noted by Richard Winger, editor of Ballot Access News, on CNN recently, the USA Today/CNN/Gallup national poll has shown Nader taking more votes from Bush than Kerry consistently. Winger specifically mentioned the fact that both Kerry and Bush support more illegal immigration and many conservatives with nowhere else to turn, are turning to Nader. Yet, at the same time, no one is saying a thing about poll after poll showing the hoards of Democrats who are voting for Bush.

One of the things I hate about Common Dreams is that they post these press releases and don't allow anyone to challenge the "facts" in the press releases. The best anyone can do is just do what I did here, which is to point out that Celinda Lake is a Democratic partisan and the way partisans have been acting towards Nader, her opinion or the data she reveals, cannot be trusted.
I can't believe ... That I have managed to get myself suckered in to watching the Red Sox again. After last year's debacle, I told myself, "Never again." As a baseball fan, that is a hard thing to do. This year, I think I saw all of two or three innings all year. Sure, I might skim the sport pages of the Herald to see what was going on but I didn't really follow the team. Instead, I played men's softball twice a week and had one hell of a time playing the sport instead of sitting on the couch watching the pros.
However, my wife started watching them during the championship series with the dreaded Yankees and I got pulled into the Sox maelstrom again.
After Saturday night's humiliating 19-8 loss, I thought for sure it was over. But over the next four games the Sox pulled off a miracle which was watched in disbelief by millions. So bring on the Cards. Maybe this the Sox's year after all. Go Sox!

A terrible tragedy: The death of Emerson College student Victoria Snelgrove was a terrible tragedy and it could have been prevented. Unfortunately, most people have focused their disgust on the media - which I will get to in a minute - and the cop who shot her, instead of the people who are really responsible.
For so many years, the city of Boston, its leaders, and its universities, have done nothing - NOTHING - to reign in the out-of-control, drunk, and arrogant college students who run amok in the town. This has been going on for years and years and years. We're not talking about "Animal House"-styled pranks. We're talking outright criminal and toxic behavior. Residents, property owners, and law abiding citizens have been begging - pleading - for the city to do something about drunk and out-of-control college students. And every time, they have been ignored. The mayor hasn't done a thing about it even though residents have complaining for years. He just goes off about how great this school is and that university is. It's an embarrassment and a tragedy and now it is even more tragic.
About the media: The reaction to the Herald printing an almost full page front photo of Snelgrove's bloody body lying on the ground has been pretty swift. Dan Kennedy's take is here: ["A Tabloid's New Low"].
The Herald's editorial director Ken Chandler will offer an apology tomorrow but Dan printed it today:

"The Herald today published two graphic photos that angered and upset many in our community. For that I apologize. Our aim was to demonstrate this terrible tragedy as comprehensively as possible. In retrospect, the images of this unusually ugly incident were too graphic."
On the Herald's Web site, where they have been allowing comments like a blog, there has been a slew of letters: [eLetters].
Of course, no one has said word one about all the TV coverage [Howie Carr talked about it tonight] with Kennedy mentioning that the Globe had the photo too. But the larger point is that this can be used as a tool for parents to warn their children not only to behave themselves but to also avoid mobs. It will also, hopefully, lead to more action taken against drunken lunatics and the colleges that house them. It is time for the city to get tough on these students and these schools. For far too long, the residents of Boston have been held hostage because of these institutions. Now is the time to fix these problems.

ABC's new shows: I'm not a big fictional TV person. I prefer to watch C-Span or cable news. But of late, I have enjoyed some of the new TV shows this season on ABC.
The first one, "Lost," is pretty interesting. An airliner crashes on a remote island and there is some unknown monster out there. The plane is off course so there is no way rescue teams can find them. Through flashbacks, we learn about the passengers' lives and some oddities about the characters. The older brother from "Party of 5" plays the main character and there is a guy who was on "Millenium" playing this kinda creepy guy. I wonder if they will spend the whole season introducing us to the characters and wait until the end to unveil the monster.
"Desperate Housewives" is another show which ABC had been promoing all summer and I am enjoying it. Sure, it is a bit racy; but how can you not watch all those hot older women? Terry Hatcher looks so great although Nicole Sheridan has not aged well. The woman who plays the cold wife and used to be on "Melrose Place" also plays a loony perfectionist.
"Boston Legal," the off-shoot of "The Practice," isn't so good without some of the stronger characters from the previous show. I like James Spader a lot. In fact, I've liked almost everything he has ever been in. But he can't save the show. William Shatner's character is getting annoying. In every seen, he IDs himself as "Denny Crane." It got old in the latter weeks of "The Practice" and is getting really old now. But there are some other potentially strong characters, including some unknown female actresses who put on a pretty good show as attorneys.
And, I can't wait for the return of "Alias."

Unity map finally gets it right: In previous posts, we have chastised The Unity Campaign, an anti-Nader outfit, that has been twisting polling numbers to make Ralph Nader look like he was stealing the presidency from John Kerry even though there wasn't much truth to the numbers. Well, the latest posting of the map finally gets it right, showing no Nader effect: [Nader 04 Impact Map]. The presidency is a toss-up. We have all known this for a long time. And now the Nader-haters have finally started being honest about it.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Left Hook zinger: Wow, did anyone see this piece? ["In Defense of Ralph Nader"]. I don't know this guy but this is a great piece. I couldn't have said it better myself. And the Zachary Taylor analogy is a great one. At the same site, there is this: ["Of icebergs and islands: Captain David Cobb abets the Collapse of the Left"]. Another great entry on the site which really does question the need for third parties if they aren't going to be third parties.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs yeah: The band The Yeah Yeah Yeahs will release their first DVD, "Tell Me What Rockers to Swallow," on Oct. 19, which will include their amazing live performance of "Maps" from the 2004 MTV Movie Awards.

Candidates arrested: Well, at least it wasn't Nader this time: ["Candidates arrested at debate"].

Friday, October 8, 2004

Third party candidates debate: For those of you who didn't think it would happen, four of the independent candidates for president - Reform Party Presidential nominee Ralph Nader and Green Party candidate David Cobb, Constitution Party candidate Michael Peroutka and Libertarian Party candidate Michael Badnarik - will be joining "Now with Bill Moyers" for a one hour discussion about issues that should be in the debate.
On WGBH 2 out of Boston, it will air tonight at 8 p.m. On WENH 11 in New Hampshire, it will air Sunday at 4 p.m. Check your local listings here: [].

It's dead even: David Wissing, who has been tracking the state polls all year at his Hedgehog Report, has the race a dead even 269 to 269 between Bush and Kerry! His site is here: [THR Poll Watch]. This is huge for a bunch of reasons. First, it is the first time all year that the race has been "tied" according to compiled polls. Second, just before the first debate, Bush had a 90-vote EC lead on some polls. For Kerry to literally vault up so high after just one debate is a bit of a surprise. However, is it really? In 2000, Al Gore has a 74-vote EC lead and huffed and puffed it away in the first debate. He was as close as you can get to an incumbent in that race, being a sitting vice president and all.
Update: Late last night, Wissing updated his page and now has it 270-268, awarding one of Maine's EC votes - the state isn't a winner-take-all EC state; Nebraska isn't either - to Bush. Colorado may also award its EC votes by congressional district win instead of state win if the initiative petition passes in November. Personally, I think this is a good idea and it would be a good way "liberalize" the EC without eliminating it entirely.

Wednesday, October 6, 2004

R.I.P.: Rodney Dangerfield

Where was Dr. Vinnie Boombah when you needed him? Goodbye, Rodney. Thanks for all the laughs.

Saturday, October 2, 2004

Reality is sometimes too much ...

I didn't watch the entire Republican convention but after watching this Quicktime movie of some selected clips from speeches, it is downright frightening: ["George W. Bush: Keeping America Scared"]. Was Bush wearing an earplug at the debate Thursday night? Some people think so: ["Bush Blows It!"]. Want some more fun with sound? Check out Bill O'Reilly getting set up with an old Bart Simpson trick: ["Jack Mehoffer"].

Rock show: The Boss and others hit the road for Kerry the other night: ["Rockers Open Tour in Support of Kerry"]. You have to love this quote from Natalie Maines of The Dixie Chicks:
"We have nothing to lose at this point, so any sort of fear or inhibition is out the window. We definitely want a regime change, and now that we're getting down to the wire I'm even less afraid to speak out. I just think things are absolutely life or death right now. We sort of weeded out the people who apparently didn't know who we were, though we never felt like we were trying to hide what we thought. Free speech is not free: we paid dearly. But we're more determined and stronger now. And from this point on, what fans we have will be our true fans.''
'We're prepared for when you get drafted ...' ["Come to Canada ..."].

Lost nuke?: Boy, it's good the terrorists didn't find out about this: ["Air Force Begins Search of Wassaw Sound"].

Friday, October 1, 2004

Pre-debate Poll Watch:
As promised, here is the last polls posted before the debate last night.
As of Oct. 1, according to most Electoral College vote watchers, John Kerry is behind President George W. Bush:

* The Hedgehog Report has it Bush 296, Kerry 242.
* has it Bush 296, Kerry 238, tied 4.
* Election Projection has it Bush 295, Kerry 243.
* Samboni has it Bush 295, Kerry 197, Undecided 46.

Is Nader impacting Kerry?
For months, we have been tracking whether independent candidate Ralph Nader is having any potentially impact on Kerry's numbers. In almost all of the polling, he isn't: Kerry either wins the states with or without Nader. In just a few polls through the entire month of September is Nader a factor:

* Colorado: A Rocky Mountain News poll from Sept. 17 showed a one point Bush lead: 45, Kerry 44, Nader 3, and 6 percent Undecided. However, the poll did not ask voters who they would support with only two candidates.

* New Hampshire: A Research 2000 poll from Sept. 23 Bush and Kerry are tied with 46 percent. Nader has 2 with 6 percent Undecided. Without Nader in the poll, Kerry gains a point: 47 to 46. Nader received 1 percent of the Democrat vote. Nader is on the ballot in N.H. but even if he weren't, Kerry would still lose the presidency based on the current polling.

* West Virginia: An ARG poll shows Bush and Kerry tied with 46. Nader has 2 percent with 1 percent for other and 6 Undecided. Nader earns 2 percent of the Democrat vote and 1 percent of the Republican vote while Bush gets 21 of the Democratic vote.

Nader helping Kerry?
In at least

* Wisconsin: A Sept. 16 ARG poll shows a Bush Kerry tie: 46 to 46, with Nader taking 1 percent. However, Nader earns 1 percent of the Republican vote and 0 percent of the Democrat vote. Democrats voting for Bush? 11 percent.

Democrats abandoning Kerry
While Democrats scream about the Nader candidacy, there is a larger problem they refuse to address: The fact that droves of Democrats are backing Bush. In poll after poll, registered Democrats are abandoning their own nominee even in the tight swing states.

* Alabama - Sept. 16 ARG: Bush 54, Kerry 40, Nader 1. 15 percent of Democrats voting for Bush.
* Alaska - Sept. 12 ARG: Bush 57, Kerry 30, Nader 5, Others 3. 12 percent of Democrats voting for Bush.
* Arizona - Sept. 23 Survey USA: Bush 54, Kerry 43, Other 2 [Nader is not on the ballot here], Undecided 1. 16 percent of Democrats voting for Bush.
* Arkansas - Sept. 29 Survey USA: Bush 53, Kerry 44, Other 2, Undecided 2. 11 percent of Democrats voting for Bush.
* Colorado - Sept. Survey USA: Bush 52, Kerry 44, Other 3, Undecided 2. 8 percent of Democrats voting for Bush.

* Oregon - Sept. : Bush 48, Kerry 47, Other 3 [Nader not on the ballot], 2 Undecided. 9 percent of Democrats voting for Bush.
* Pennsylvania - Sept. 19: Kerry 47, Bush 46, Nader 1, Other 1, Undecided 5. 11 percent voting for Bush. A Qunnipiac poll from Sept. 26: Kerry 49, Bush 46. 9 percent of Democrats voting for Bush.
* Tennessee - Sept. 23: Bush, 55 Kerry 41, Other 2, Undecided 2. Democrats voting for Bush? 9 percent.
* Texas - Sept. 12 Survey USA: Bush 58, Kerry 37, Other 2 [Nader is not on the ballot], Undecided 3. 13 percent of Democrats voting for Bush.
* Virginia - Sept. 23 Survey USA: Bush 53, Kerry 42, Other 3 [Nader is not on the ballot], Undecided 2. 9 percent of Democrats voting for Bush.

* Iowa: A Research 2000 poll from Sept. 22 Bush has 47, Kerry has 45, Nader 2, with 6 percent Undecided. In a two-way race: Bush leads 47 to 46 with 7 percent Undecided. Deep inside the poll, other numbers were revealed. Nader earns the same amount of Republican votes as Democratic votes: 1 percent. At the same time, 7 percent of Democrats plan on voting for Bush.

The Badnarik Factor:
In more states than Nader, Libertarian presidential candidate Michael Badnarik could be having an effect on Bush's poll position.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Crashing the parties 2004: Channel 2 in Boston will present a documentary, "Crashing the Parties 2004," at 8 p.m., before tonight's debate. Here is a bit about it from this morning's Boston Phoenix: ["Meet the spoilers"]. It looks like an interesting documentary.

Goodbye to NCR: Tomorrow night will be the last broadcast of WMBR's "No Censorship Radio" on MIT Radio. The show will air from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on 88.1 FM. The show has been on the air for 12 years and was easily one of the best alternative media/political/music programs in Boston. As an infrequent guest, it will be sad to see them go but sometimes, it is good to step away from something you have been doing for a long time. One of the hosts, Linda P., will have a new show on Sundays called "What's Left" along with a slate of new talk shows on Sunday. I am sure it will be a quality show. Thanks to everyone at NCR for giving Boston listeners something different to listen to on their radio dials.

Catching up on other stuff: Here are some links and news items that are collecting dust in my favorites file:

I've seen author Peter Lance twice on C-Span and he seems like a pretty amazing guy. Earlier this year, I purchased "1000 Years for Revenge," but haven't had a chance to do more than skim it. Well, now he has a new book - "Cover Up: What the government is still hiding about the War on Terror." The book describes extensive material left out of the 9-11 Commission report [which I am currently reading] including links between al Quaida and the TWA 800 explosion and the Oklahoma City bombing. He also talks about how the federal government hid these connections from the commission and the public. Lance has a long history as an investigative journalist so this isn't a Jim Keith conspiracy book [although his were fun to read, too]. Check out Peter's site here: ["Peter Lance"].

On the Nader front, here are some recent headlines:
First, publisher Greg Bates [of Common Courage Press] has a good piece on Counterpunch here: ["How to Win Enemies and Influence People: Nader's Victories: a Mid-Campaign Assessment"]. Bates is also the author of "Ralph's Revolt," a lean and quick read about his 2004 effort.
Next, a New Hampshire man was arrested after admitting to falsely signing his brother's and mother's signature on Nader petitions: ["Man says he falsely signed Nader petition"]. This isn't such a big deal since everyone in the signature gathering business knows that husbands sign for wives; wives sign for husbands, etc., although, it is illegal. Surprisingly, this arrest didn't make national play - probably because Nader isn't to blame! In the end, the Democrat's lawsuit against Nader's petition drive here was thrown out. Nader is the only independent on the ballot in New Hampshire, along with Bush and Kerry. So, don't be surprised if Nader receives more protest votes from disgruntled Republicans, Libertarians, McCainiacs, and other conservatives just like he did in 2000.
Speaking of that, here is a great site from a Republican Nader-backer - who would've voted for Bush in 2000: [I Voted for Nader and I Would've Voted for Bush].
Also, The Unity Campaign has finally updated its "Nader Impact" map which now shows Kerry losing with or without Nader on the ballot: [Nader 04 Impact Map]. On the map, Nader "costs" Kerry 17 Electoral College votes but Bush still wins by 42 EC votes. Of course, not surprisingly, they strategically ignored poll after poll after poll throughout the summer showing no Nader impact at all. And now, with Kerry getting hammered in state after state, what difference does it make? Just like Gore, Kerry is costing himself his own campaign. If I have the time, I will try to do an update soon about polling data. It is critical because at this point in 2000, just before the first debate in Boston, Gore was 74 EC votes ahead of Bush. Nader was around 4 percent nationally or on the verge of scoring millions in public funds for the Greens. However, Gore then huffed and puffed through the debates, blew his lead, had to go our and steal/scare votes from Nader, and still lost the presidency when the Supreme Court selected Bush.
What will happen tonight? We will soon know. But the key to everything is to understand where the race is at this very moment. Everything in history will be about the moment before the first debate.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

'Regime change begins at home': Back when it looked like another Democratic candidate for president was going to win the nomination, I decided to sit down and write a little diddy of a song: ["Regime change begins at home"]

I planned on including "Regime change ..." with a new collection of songs I have been trying to finish for a couple of years. Unfortunately, over the years, work, my other band at the time [Lunar Girl], and family, etc., distracted me from finishing this CD - until now.

My new musical project is rts:collab and I will soon be releasing the project's first CD - "the long lost lover's last long play" - a collection of 10 songs that I have been working on over the last few years. Some of the songs are very personal; others are just for fun. The CD, which was a collaboration with my long-time friend Joel Simches, of Sonic Enhancement Productions, plays with various musical styles while at the same time not straying far from my alternative/post-punk roots.

The first song to be released from the CD, "Regime change begins at home," will be shipped to college radio stations in limited release this week.

The inspiration for the song came when a friend of mine asked me why I never wrote political songs, being a songwriter while also dabbling in and following politics. I told this person that I'd written political songs before but never shared them with people because the songs always ended up being dated or sounding corny. You can almost hear some of the silly songs people could write about politics but then a few weeks later, the songs would be meaningless. There have been a few bands who have written hard-hitting, political songs well, bands like the Dead Kennedys or even some of the bands from the 1960s. Instead, as a songwriter, I try to play with metaphors and vagueness in an effort to get some political thoughts across without actually being overly political.

Sidebar: Some songs on the CD I am about to release are rather subtle. "Hate Ashe Buried," an 11-plus minute, three part track addresses the need to control anger with a play on words about the San Francisco neighborhood. So does the lead track, "Cleanse my soul," which has a spiritual bent to it. And "Redemption through lifestyle" pokes fun at commercialism without being too political.

However, the particular candidate I was hoping would win got strangled by the media and didn't win the nomination and I became a little depressed. I got distracted by other things - working on my blog, unfinished book projects and investigative pieces for my job - and the songs sat. Plus, Joel got busy - touring with and doing sound for All the Queens Men and Dresden Dolls, two big Boston bands really starting to make their mark - and we couldn't tidy up the loose ends. But this ended up being a good thing because I was able to spend more time with the material and we eventually went back, remixed a couple of songs, mastered the whole thing again, and now, it's finished and I can't wait to release it to the world. I probably won't do a huge pressing - just enough for radio, family, friends, and maybe some sales.

However, with the election coming up, it is important to get "Regime change ..." out to listeners. The link is here: ["Regime change begins at home"]. Enjoy the song. I hope it inspires people to go out and take back their country. If you don't like it, no biggie, you didn't have to pay for it and only wasted a few minutes downloading it. :-) However, if you are interested in checking out the rest of the CD, I will have more information soon at this site and the rts:collab site.