Friday, April 21, 2006

Can hardly wait for this ...
CONCORD - Thursday, the New Hampshire State Senate responded to the concerns of New Hampshire property owners and unanimously approved CACR 30, a constitutional amendment that would prohibit eminent domain seizures for the purpose of private development.
The New Hampshire House had already approved the measure by a vote of 266-71, surpassing the two-thirds majority needed to pass.
In the well-publicized case of Kelo et al. v. City of New London, the U.S. Supreme Court held that private property may be taken by eminent domain and transferred to private developers solely to promote economic development. CACR 30 is a direct response to the Kelo decision.
Former State Supreme Court Justice and Congressman Chuck Douglas stated, “This is a victory for homeowners in our State. It is a victory for our voters. We have a chance to let the people of our State show that their property rights will not be stripped away.”
Voters will now decide on whether to amend article 12 of the state constitution, adding the following provision:

No part of a person’s property shall be taken by eminent domain and transferred, directly or indirectly, to another person if the taking is for the purpose of private development or other private use of the property

A two-thirds majority of the popular vote in November is needed in order to amend the constitution. Douglas intends on running a statewide campaign for the measure, making property rights a front-and-center issue in the November 2006 election.
No John, no
This morning, I awoke to one of the most frightening headlines a political junkie could wake up to ... a headline which is almost as scary as "Hilary wins nomination ...": ["Kerry 'thinking hard' about 2008 run for president"].
This is one of those headlines I have been dreading seeing for a long time and have wondered when it would pop up. Personally, I don't want to deny anyone the right to run for any political office. If he really wants to put himself - and the American people - through the torture of watching another one of his campaigns, well, what can I say?
But, at some point, common sense has to prevail. It was the same common sense which led me not to vote for Ralph Nader again in 2004 having done so in the previous two elections. Despite my desire to do what I wanted with my own vote - my God-given right - I did what my wife and others wanted me to do with my vote - and I held my nose very hard and wasted my vote for that soulless yuppie. Needless to say, I'm probably not going to do that again. So, the Democrats better make sure that they have a nominee who isn't going to make folks like me look somewhere else - whether it is to a Nader or a decent Republican.
So, message to John Kerry, loud and clear: Please don't run. Instead, put your own ambitions aside - for the good of the nation and your party - and back a true patriot like your colleague in the Senate, Russ Feingold.

My payola: The Dead Kennedys used to have a parody song, done to The Knack's "My Sharona," which they did only once, live, at a music awards ceremony in San Franscisco in 1980, called "Pull My Strings." The key chorus: "Drool, drool, drool, drool, drool, drool, my payola ..." It is on "Give Me Convenience of Give me Death" collection of B-sides and rareties put out after the band broke up. But I can't help but think of this song whenever I see stories like this: ["FCC Launches Payola Probes of 4 Radio Giants"].

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Noise Top 30 chart
For May: Reporting stations - WAAF, WBCN, WFNX, WMBR, WMFO, WTCC, WZBC

1. Dresden Dolls – Yes, Virginia
2. Damone – Out Here All Night EP
3. The Rudds – Get the Femuline Hang On
4. Campaign for Real Time – Yes … I Mean, No
5. Taxpayer – Bones & Lungs
6. Various – Ace of Hearts: 12 Classic 45’s
7. The Curtain Society – Every Door of the Room
8. Various – Mister Comp 3
9. Wild Zero – Wild Zero
10. Acrobrats – Go Down Swinging
11. Bleedin Bleedins – Life Without Computers
12. The Glass Set – The Glass Set
13. Muck & the Mires – 1234
14. Blanketeer – Blanketeer EP
15. Compass – Munchy the Bear
16. Mittens – Fools on Holiday
17. Rockets Burst from The Street Lamps – Departed
18. Frank Smith – Red on Wine
19. Victory at Sea – All Your Things are Gone
20. Chop Chop – Chop Chop
21. Cocked N Loaded – Ding Dong Doom Baby EP
22. Paula Kelley – Some Sucker’s Life
23. Scissorfight – Juggernaut
24. The Weisstronauts – Featuring Perky
25. The Welch Boys – The Welch Boys
26. Witch – Witch
27. Zippo Raid – The Special Olympics of Punk Rock
28. Tracy Bonham – Blink the Brightest
29. Ramona Silver – Intermission
30. Andrea Gillis – Want Another

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Spring's Political Flowers Bloom
Guest Perspective/Roy Morrison
It's early Saturday morning in April and Sen. John McCain is on stage before a full house at Keene State College answering questions from anyone who comes to the mic. While the nation is just starting to focus on this fall's congressional elections, in New Hampshire, the 2008 presidential campaign is underway.
McCain is an engaging speaker, tolerant of hostile questioners. He takes heat for his pro-immigration leadership. Anti-illegal immigrant bashers in the audience mutter about "parasites," their eyes burning with the passion of having a target to unreservedly hate.
It's my turn at the mic. I suggest the biggest challenges facing the next president will be global warming and sustainability. We need to make economic growth mean ecological improvement, not ecological destruction.
Ending taxes on income and instead taxing all goods and services based on their level of pollution, depletion, and ecological damage is key, I tell the Senator.
McCain's concerned about global warming.
"We don't know where the tipping point is," he says.
Meanwhile, as we spiral toward ecological catastrophe and the Bush administration continues to delay, stonewall, and politically back fill, McCain is ready to standup for ecological survival. He declares, "Climate change is real. It's here. It's dangerous. And it's worse than we thought ... It's terrible that we haven't taken more action to prevent it."
I don't share McCain's embrace of nuclear power as part of the solution. The Bush Administration, for example, wants to build nuclear reactors in India while bombing them in Iran. Nevertheless, McCain appears quite willing to craft innovative solutions to major questions whether immigration or global warming.
A consumption tax system would be based on a smart sales tax, an ecological value added tax or VAT [value added tax], on all goods and services in the economy, currently worth about $10 trillion a year. Ecological VAT rates would vary. The more polluting, depleting, or ecologically damaging a good or service, the higher the tax.
What's sustainable will be cheaper, what's more polluting will be more costly. The market, not regulation will lead the way toward sustainability.
The market price will reflect true costs. A 25 percent VAT would raise about $2.5 trillion a year for the federal budget. The VAT could be phased in over ten years, replacing income based taxes dollar for dollar.
And since consumption taxes are regressive, the poor spend all their income while the rich don't, the ecological VAT system need be accompanied by a negative income tax (NIT). The NIT, proposed by Richard Nixon, would end welfare and poverty by lifting the poorest above the poverty line, and the working poor toward a liveable wage.
The market and democracy, what we know best and what we do best, is the road to sustainability. After Katrina when gasoline prices soared 50 percent, the sales of the gas guzzling Ford Explorer SUV, declined 50 percent in the following quarter.
Remember, since World War II global carbon dioxide emissions have declined only in the years 1974, and 1980-1983 following OPEC oil embargoes that sent prices soaring.
In April, it's nice to sense that not only can we be free from income tax hell, but find deliverance as part of a basic reform that will lead the way toward ecological sustainability and prosperity.
Certainly it remains to be seen if McCain will take my advise on phasing out income taxes and instituting an ecological consumption tax. But he's willing to listen and willing to take action.
Maybe a presidential candidate's political instincts will converge with our nation's long term interests in 2008. That's what democracy and the New Hampshire primary is all about.

Roy Morrison is a writer and energy consultant. His latest book, "Eco Civilization 2140," is available on and local bookstores everywhere.

Sunday, April 9, 2006

Mmm ... Spring
What a damn beautiful day today. Spring is finally here in New England. Soon, the black flies will be out. But for now, things are getting warmer and greener and it looks like winter is over.

Nukes against Iran?: The big news of the weekend has been this ... Sy Hersh busts open another one: ["US considers use of nuclear weapons against Iran"]. Shocking. Simply shocking.

Consultants: This column by Joe Klein about political consultants ["Pssst! Who's behind the decline of politics? [Consultants.]"] reminded me about a course I took at Harvard Extension School about political consulting.
In the class, the late author Murray Levin, talked about how a handful of consultants were basically running the process into the ground and pointed to a slew of incidents and interviews he had performed over the years with consultants. He also brought in a bunch of different guests, folks like Charlie Cook, to talk about campaigns and political consulting. It was a pretty interesting course and gave me a good overview of a process I was already kinda familiar with [That's probably why I got an A. That, and the hip radio spots I recorded].
Anyhow, in the article, Klein talks about the losing Gore and Kerry campaigns and notes that the consultants working for both candidates found out too late what the voters wanted:
"We're going to meet the voters where they are," Shrum had told me early in the Kerry campaign, which sounded innocent enough—but what he really meant was, We're going to follow our polling numbers and focus groups. We're going to emphasize the things that voters think are important. In fact, Shrum had it completely wrong. Presidential campaigns are not about "meeting the voters where they are." They are about leadership and character. Mark Mellman, Kerry's lead pollster, figured that out too late. "If you asked people what they were most interested in, they would say jobs, education and health care," he later said. "But they thought the President should be interested in national security."
However, the larger point is this: Gore and Kerry lost because they really didn't know who they were as people, never mind candidates. No political candidate in their right mind should be listening to a consultant, especially when it comes to public policy. The whole point of having an opinion is to have one; the whole point to being involved in politics is to move and effect public policy. This should be a fiber-in-the-being kinda thing with politicians. Essentially silencing Gore during the 2000 campaign about environmental issues took the one thing away from him that he had passion for; the one thing which made him human.
These consultants, especially ones who run presidential campaigns, also need to remember that the nation is pretty much divided down the middle. As pathetic as John Kerry was as a candidate, he only lost by 34 Electoral College votes or 118,000 votes in Ohio. It wasn't a blow out like Reagan beating Mondale in 1984 or Bush beating Dukakis in 1988. Had polling machines not been kept out of strong Democratic counties by the Republican Secretary of State in that state and had the provisional ballots been counted [were they ever counted?], Kerry probably would have won the election.
Also, as noted by the Cook Political Report here: ["Cook Electoral Rating"] right before the election, Bush had 218 Electoral College votes; Kerry had 207, with another 109 toss-ups. Wisconsin was surprisingly close but in hindsight, Minnesota wasn't. The election was a toss-up. It could go either way. And voters were going to make decisions on visceral, gut reactions to the candidates or to ideas, not to anything of any substance.

Kerry's mistake: On "Meet the Press" today, it was interesting to see that Kerry said that spending limits were the main reason he lost the election: ["Kerry: Taking Federal Money a Mistake"].
"I think the biggest mistake was probably not going outside the federal financing so we could have controlled our own message," the Massachusetts senator said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Eh, yikes. Kerry still doesn't get it. But, I guess, it isn't really a big deal since it has only been 16 months. Sometimes, it takes a lifetime to learn those kinds of lessons. Thankfully, I'm hearing from the trail here in New Hampshire that Democratic activists are thinking, Been there, done that with Kerry.

Interesting piece here: ["And Now the News... Or Is It an Ad?"]. I have always wondered about some of the things I see on TV news these days. Where does a staff of six or seven get all that footage? Well, now we know!