Friday, August 31, 2007

We Need Candidates With Good Judgment

Guest Perspective/Lee H. Hamilton

All over the country, political candidates, consultants, reporters, campaign volunteers, and politically active citizens are pondering a single question: What do voters want in a candidate? Will voters be motivated in next year's elections by issues, personalities! or some intangible mix of qualities in the candidates they're considering?

Every voter makes up his or her mind differently, of course, but my suspicion has always been that most voters weigh a mix of considerations; the true "single-issue voter" is rare. To be sure, they want to know candidates' stands on the issues they care about - how they articulate them and what they consider most important. They also want to get a sense of the candidates' overall vision and where they want to take us as a nation, how they see the role of the federal government at home and whether they propose a muscular or more restrained foreign policy.

They look for less tangible things as well, qualities that would make them comfortable with a candidate. Voters generally want a sense that a candidate knows why he or she is running for office - and in particular, that it has to do with a desire to accomplish goals or to improve the common good, rather than simply to slake some person! al ambition.

Voters also want to feel good about a candidate's values, intelligence, and sensitivity to their concerns. This is why candidates who are masters of statistics and dense policy arguments sometimes leave voters cold, while candidates who can present a compelling "story" attract attention and support.

Over the years, poll after poll has suggested that voters put "integrity" and personal honesty at the top of their requirements in a candidate. My sense is that other concerns come higher. If voters like what a politician stands for or find some deeper personal connection, they can forgive a lot: Witness the re-election of Richard Nixon in 1972 or the high poll numbers Bill Clinton enjoyed despite questions about his personal conduct.

One such consideration, generally dismissed by pundits but clearly embraced by voters, is simple likability. Americans want to feel at ease with the person they're voting for. And while they won't admit it, at least not to pollsters, they take physical attractiveness into account, as ! a string of handsome presidents in the television age - John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, both Bushes, Bill Clinton - suggests.

But I have always thought that perhaps the most important trait in a political leader is invisible, or at least difficult to discern ahead of time: sound judgment. It often gets confused for intelligence, but intelligent people can misjudge affairs if they're led astray by ideology, dogmatic thinking, or even good intentions.

On the other hand, you can often tell if candidates lack good judgment: If they are unable to be wary of their own passions, inclined to dismiss other views, unsuspecting of the information they receive, or unwilling to admit that their views might be wrong, then it's a good bet they will mishandle people, events and the difficult situations that confront our nation regularly.

A great deal is at stake in this regard. Historians note, for instance, that while George Washington was neither a good speaker nor a! scintillating intellect, he possessed very good judgment about people and events. The course of our nation's history would surely have been different had he been otherwise.

Good political judgment calls for a keen sense of what will work and what won't in a given set of circumstances, and what the best means might be to achieve policy goals - in essence, it requires that leaders see the world as it is, not as they would like it to be. It demands great insight into others: who is competent and who is not, who will speak the truth to them and who will not, whom to believe and whom not to believe, who will persevere and who will fold.

It demands equally keen insight into complex situations and events, and an ability to discern possibilities for progress that others might miss. Finally, it requires a keen sense of what can be accomplished given the personalities and events in play: when to compromise, when to yield, and when to stand firm.

It is probably expecting too much that voters will be able to see all this as they go ! about choosing whom to vote for. But we can certainly hope they will try.

Lee Hamilton is Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Daily Kos August Straw Poll

Yikes, more than 29,000 respondents. Wow. That's bigger than a convention.
Here are the results: Edwards 34 [down from a peak of 40 in April], Obama 30 [back up from lower numbers previously], Clinton 9 [steady], Kucinich 8 [gaining], Richardson 6 [steady], Other 5, No Freakin' Clue 4, Dodd 2 [the poll was posted a day before the IAFF endorsement], Biden 1 [steady], and Gravel 1 [steady, 167 votes separate Biden and Gravel].

R.I.P. Richard Jewell

Richard Jewell, an American hero, if you think about it, died earlier today: ["Richard Jewell dies at 44"]. This guy, falsely labeled the "Una-bubba," by the likes of Howie Carr and others, saved a ton of lives during the Atlanta Olympic games. Then, the FBI was looking at him as a suspect and hell broke loose. In the end, he wasn't. He was a hero. But I'm sure the stress of being the "Una-bubba" didn't help him, health-wise.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Dodd gets big endorsement ... but will it really help?

I don't know. But the IAFF, representing tens of thousands of firefighters, could help in some key states. It might give Sen. Dodd a few extra points. I just don't see him getting much more than that out of this. He, frankly, is too far down in the polls at this point to really factor in. He is barely middle tier, if there was a middle tier. Richardson is middle tier, alone. Dodd is barely a blip on the screen, a point or two above Gravel. Unlike John Kerry, who was in the top tier of candidates when he received the IAFF endorsement.
Anyhow, here is some video from the endorsement:

Bubba's $$$
I was sent this link from an aquaintaince who thought I might be interested in Hillary Clinton's financial disclosures. I wasn't, really, but clicked through anyway. Here is the link: ["U.S. Senate Financial Disclosure Report"]. What shocks me about this disclosure is that Bubba is making $150k to $250k a speech! No wonder everyone wants to be president!! The post-presidency speaking fees!

I love this woman
Katherine Prudhomme-O'Brien, rightwing trollop or gadfly Goddess? You decide, but I know what I think: ["Inquisitive NH Voter Reacts to Giuliani Remark"]. This is the same lady who asked Al Gore in 1999 during a town hall meeting what he thought about Juanita Brodderick's rape allegations against Bill Clinton and Gore looked dumbfounded and said, Hmm, hmm, alot, without really saying anything. Had he had the stones and said he believed her or thought Bubba should apologize or something relevant instead of looking like a mannequin, he would have shown he was a true leader ... and champion of women's rights, too.

Short cuts
* Someone punk'd Rove's car: ["White House pranks punk Rove's car"].
* Ted Nugent was a chickenhawk!: ["Facing a draft, Nugent wet his pants"]. For all his big, bad-ass talk about machine guns and Democrats, and he found a way to get out of it. He should shut up and play his guitar.
* Interesting potential czar find: ["Find Could Be Russian Heir's Remains"].
* While this tart is out of jail after one day, the guy who stole the slice of pizza and it was his third strike, is still in jail: ["Lohan Gets 1 Day in Jail on DUI Plea"].
* A cartoon about Mormon history: ["What Mormon Theology Is Really All About"]. I love the bit about the "Mormon Jesus" and his wives and how blacks are neutral in the war between the "Mormon Jesus" and Satan and that is why they are black. Oh my word.
* Hmm, this is interesting: ["Hannity's "Freedom" concerts are reportedly a money scam"]. I wonder how much money is actually getting to the kids.
* I got a nice mention in Chris Lovett's piece on whether or not Boston should cancel its preliminary election during non-mayoral race years: ["For Council at Large: Later and Less Often"]. Civil Boston, Lovett's blog, is a good read.
* The Weekly World News is now, officially, defunct: ["Weekly World News"].
The $7M man?
Could be: ["WTKK deal may make Carr $7M man: Ratings bonuses would boost pay"].

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Monday, August 27, 2007

Is an economic collapse coming?
Let's take a look at some of the signs: First, consumers are defaulting on their credit cards payments: ["Credit-card defaults on rise in US"] and now, because of that corrupt bankruptcy bill, folks who are getting hammered by debt will never get out from underneath it.
Housing sales are crumbling, literally: ["Home Sales Hit Slowest Pace in 5 Years"] and this is one of the engines which has kept this economy growing. However, not unlike most economic growth, because it has been unregulated, it grew too fast and was corrupted by greedy loan officers selling people bad mortgages with high commissions. Now things are falling apart ... instead of steadily going along at a regulated pace in order to ensure that everything lasts and home buyers get into their homes.
Experts think it is a recession: ["US could be heading for recession"] but I wonder if it couldn't be worse. Between the hundreds of billions of dollars fleeced from consumers by the big oil companies charging way too much for gas and the subsequent increases in almost everything due to higher fuel costs, this recession could be pretty big.
One of the neat things about reading the WSJ is that you really get an incite into how these speculators see things. This morning, there was this interesting column from today's newspaper, about the leverage buyout craze: ["The Real Deal for Buyouts"]. These people seem to be sucking the life our of the credit business by buying up these businesses and squeezing every bit of life out of them.
And don't get me started on the globalism stuff. "Economists" have encouraged whole sectors of the American economy to carve out billions and send it overseas. And they really didn't think there would be some sort of backlash, financially?
Lastly, isn't it great that the Fed can basically just start printing money to make sure there isn't a "credit crunch." So, they can just start printing paper or clicking clicks on a computer screen but we can't do that for ordinary folks who are getting hammered, like those in the Katrina disaster. Up is down and down is up. The sky is green. Ugh.
What the heck is this?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

September Noise Chart
Reporting stations: WAAF, WBCN, WFNX, WMBR, WMFO, WTCC, WZBC
1.Hallelujah the Hills – Collective Psychosis Begone
2.Buffalo Tom – Three Easy Pieces
3.Frank Black – The Best of Best
4.Polyethylene – What Goes On Inside Houses
5.Reports – Mosquito Nets
6.The Big Disappointments – The Big Disappointments
7.Willard Grant Conspiracy – Let it Roll
8.The Atlantics – Atlantics Live
9.The Luxury – This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
10.Everyday Visuals – Things Will Look Up
11.The Gobshites – Get Bombed
12.Trans Am – Sex Change
13.Various Artists – “History of Boston Rock, Here and Now”
14.Sarah Borges and The Broken Singles – Diamonds in the Dark
15.Cheater Pint – “Control Freak”
16.Dear Leader – The Alarmist
17.Frank Smith – Heavy-Handed Peace and Love
18.Three Day Threshold – Against the Grain
19.Viva Viva – Art, Sex, Death, and Time EP
20.Brown Bird – Such Unrest
21.Desolation Bells – What is Your Trajectory?
22.Frog Eyes – Tears of the Valedictorian
23.Girls Guns & Glory – Alt Country Extravaganza
24.The Lavas – Wall to Wall
25.Don Lennon – Radical
26.Prime Movers – back in line
27.Martin Sexton – Seeds
28.Various Artists – “Knock from the Underground – The Best of Underplayed Boston”
29.Dreamers Wanted – “End War Now”
30.Auto Interiors – Let’s Agree to Deceive Our Best Friends

Saturday, August 25, 2007

John Edwards in Concord

John Edwards campaigned at Concord's historic White Park on Saturday afternoon.
I finally got a chance to go out and see a presidential campaign here in New Hampshire. Today, Edwards dropped into Concord, holding an outdoor town hall meeting at Concord's White Park. I figured out that my crappy digital camera actually records video although only about 5 minutes worth. So, there isn't a lot here:

Last week's Iowa debate
I missed the Iowa debate last week so I didn't offer comment on it. However, I did find this lovely debate clock, again courtesy of the Dodd campaign. And like the previous ones, this one says a lot:

John Edwards is in Concord today, holding a town hall forum at White Park. I'm going to try and go to it today and check it out. I will post photos or video or something later on.

Friday, August 24, 2007

R.I.P. Aaron Russo
About 30 minutes ago, I received an email stating that Aaron Russo, the film producer ["Trading Places," "The Rose"] and Libertarian presidential candidate, has passed away. I don't know if this is legit or not although I know he was sick. I still haven't watched "From Freedom to Fascism," although I bought it on DVD quite awhile ago. I guess it might be time to watch it now.

Update: Russo died of cancer: ["Aaron Russo dies of cancer"]. Those wishing to offer a card or donation to help offset medical expenses can do so here:

All Your Freedoms, Inc.
P.O. Box #1213
264 South La Cienega Blvd.
Beverly Hills, California 90211

Did Rove quit over upcoming Iran attack?
That is what former CIA Agent Ray McGovern is suggestion: ["Are Bush & Co. Gearing Up to Attack Iran?"].
Ted Nugent ... unhinged
Like anyone is surprised by this footage from a recent concert. Should he really be advocating such activity, sauntering around on stage with what looks like two AK-47s, threatening Barack Obama and suggesting that Hillary Clinton and Dianne Feinstein "suck on my machine gun?" Eh ... Even if this is all in "good fun," he really gives advocacy for the Second Amendment a bad name:

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Trippi on Rove
This came out via email yesterday morning but I didn't get to post it until now. It is interesting ... very interesting ... Later today, I will post some of the SUSA state by state polls, showing Hillary beating most of the GOP runners in states Democrats have historically lost. Sigh.

To: Interested Parties
From: Joe Trippi
Re: Karl Rove's Worst Nightmare

You may have seen Karl Rove's recent attacks on Hillary Clinton in the news.

This is a page straight out of his tired old playbook—Rove is attacking Hillary Clinton because he doesn't want John Edwards to win the Democratic nomination.

Rove knows that Democrats will rally around whomever he attacks—so he attacks the candidate he thinks Republicans can most easily defeat.

It may seem backwards, but Rove and his cronies did the same thing last time around. In 2004, they were scared of John Edwards, so they attacked John Kerry.

Don't take it from me—take it from Rove's own lieutenant on the Bush-Cheney 2004 reelection campaign, Matthew Dowd:

"Whomever we attacked was going to be emboldened in Democratic primary voters' minds. So we started attacking John Kerry a lot in the end of January because we were very worried about John Edwards." [Los Angeles Times, 8/19/07]
Rove and the Republicans want our opponents to win—because they know John will be the strongest candidate in the general election.

We may not be the richest campaign—but John is the strongest candidate. This time around, the candidate with the boldest ideas for changing America—the candidate who can take on the special interests in Washington, D.C. and win—is also the most electable. We know it—and the Republicans know it, too. But they won't be able to stop us if we have the support of people like you.

Can you make a contribution today—and send Karl Rove the message that his efforts to influence the Democratic primary won't work this time?

It is no secret that John is the only Democratic candidate who can beat any of the Republican candidates hands down. Just look at the polls conducted by Rasmussen Reports—a major national polling firm—over the past few months. They show that John is the Democratic candidate who consistently beats all of the Republicans candidates in head-to-head match-ups in battleground states—and by the widest margins.

Rove and the Republicans are seeing the same numbers we are—and drawing the same conclusions. So Rove is using his sneaky, underhanded tactics to try and trick Democrats into rallying around a candidate who won't be as strong as John in the general election.

But with your support, we can make sure that Rove's plan doesn't work this time. We are building a strong grassroots organization in the key early states and across the country. John has the best and boldest ideas for bringing big change to America, he can take on the special interests and win, and of all the Democratic candidates he will be the strongest in the general election—in other words, John Edwards is Karl Rove's worst nightmare.

All we need is your support to drive right past Karl Rove's see-through tactics—and keep our campaign on the road to victory.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Guest Perspective/Roy Morrison
Sam's on the mound. I'm catching. He's 14 now. Taller than me. Torquing his body, showing me his back as he winds up. His four-seamer hits the catcher's mitt with a resonant baseball snap. The way it's supposed to be.
In Babe Ruth League, we try to do things with class—as best we can. During late afternoon games this year, there was almost always thunderstorms gathering, or threatening, or exploding over the field.
Umpiring, or sitting in the stands, at the first flash of lightning—hopefully still miles away and we haven't waited too long— I'd jump up and yell lightning and stop the game. A dad protecting my son and everybody's kid. Our job is to say the truth. Not sit on our hands.
Isn't it time that dads stand up and demand the insane Iraq war stops now? The lightning flashes and the dangers to our kids are all too clear.
Any parent can do this. But now I'm saying it's time for the dads.
My son-in-law Ryan is a captain in the Air Force. He's served one tour in Iraq. If George Bush and his Congressional collaborators aren't stopped he'll be back there. And then, before you know it, it'll be Sam's turn.
It's time for fathers to shout lightning and stop this madness. It's time for us to demand this war stop before another one of our kids gets maimed or killed.
Lightning. It's not in the distance. It's all around us.
Roy Morrison is Director of the Office of Sustainability at Southern New Hampshire University.His latest book, "Markets, Democracy & Survival," is forthcoming in 2007. "Markets, Democracy & Survival" available now for download in PDF from:
Scondras pleads guilty, gets slap on the wrist
My former city councilor pleaded guilty to enticing a child under 16 and was ordered to register as a sex offender in Cambridge. Here are the details: ["Scondras: Guilty sex plea protects my family"].
I find this completely outrageous. Some of my comments are posted here: ["Scondras pens book, has to register as a sex offender"]. I don't have to repeat it but I will: If he were a 61-year-old man targeting girls instead of boys, he would probably be in jail. Here is a previous post about Scondras: ["My former city councilor"].
Freaky fog
Did anyone else see the freaky fog this morning? It was so cold the air was thick with fog. It was a bit weird, actually, because it doesn't normally get this way until late September or early October, when the frost starts to come. And then, the fog is really only down by the Merrimack River. Tonight, it is supposed to be as low as 53, which is freezing for August. I heard it was 44 this morning. Should we be wondering about this global warming stuff with these kinds of temperatures?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Criminals and radio
Editor''s Note: This post has been edited and a correction is offered below:
What is it about some criminals and radio? Why must radio programmers continue to hire criminals and others to build their station programming instead of the ton of radio people out there who could easily do just as good a job and don't have the criminal records?

The reason I speak of this is the latest move by a radio station to hire a criminal, in this case, former Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci, who has been rehired at WPRO in Providence: ["Rhode Island"]. Like, it isn't bad enough that the Felon Finneran is on Boston's historic talker, WRKO. Or, that the pill-popping oaf of a human being, Rush Limbaugh, is still on hundreds of talk stations instead of in jail where he probably should be.
Then there is G. Gordon Liddy, Oliver North ... sigh ... the list goes on and on. Where are the standards?

Correction: In an earlier version of this post, it was mistakenly written that Tom Leykis was convicted of a lesser charge concerning an incident he was involved in while hosting a program on WRKO in Boston. That portion of the post was incorrect and has been removed. The charges were dropped as the link below explains: ["The Smoking Gun"].
As the writer of the post, I failed to correctly remember the incident and posted the information incorrectly. While the post was only up for about an hour, that isn't really the point. The information wasn't correct and I'm sorry for that.
As this shows, not everyone who is arrested is actually convicted of the crimes they have been charged with. As well, Cianci, Finneran, and others, all served their time so maybe I shouldn't be so judgmental about it.
One complaint about 3WK
OK, I've found a complaint about the new Classic Alternative Radio playlist at 3WK: They play too much Pere Ubu and the Sugarcubes. It seems as though the rotation plays both bands two or three times a day. Alternative commercial radio pretty much ignored Pere Ubu. What minor amount of airplay the band did receive was on college radio. Personally, I never liked the band. Their songs just go on and on and not in the cool on and on way by which a Sonic Youth goes on and on, for example. It just never seems to end and the singer's voice is annoying.
The Sugercubes, on the other hand, received a lot of commercial airplay. But, they play the annoying songs which featured Bjork's husband barking through them, destroying the songs. It is truly annoying. I did, however, hear the lovely "Birthday" today, which was nice. Oh well.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Quotes from candidates
Here are some interesting quote from candidates of late:

John Edwards, in Iowa, from the NYT:
"I've been fighting these people all my entire life. I fought them in the courtroom, and I've beat them. ... We've got to stop being mealy-mouthed and careful. We've got to get rid of the robber barons. We need to have some guts."
Rudy Giuliani, in New Hampshire, telling voters why he can win in states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania:
“The only other candidate that I see has a chance in at least some of those states is (Arizona Sen.) John McCain. I think the others lose by more than double digits to Hillary Clinton there. Those are states we have to put in play to win the presidency. They are also states we have to win back Senate and congressional seats.’’
Unlike the children of some candidates, Joe Biden's son will be heading to Iraq next year, from Radio Iowa:

"I don't want him going. But I tell you what, I don't want my grandson or my granddaughters going back in 15 years and so how we leave makes a big difference. There's no political point worth my son's life. There's no political point worth anybody's life out there. None."

Mike Huckabee in the WSJ:
"We have to show that we are also problem-solvers, not just ideologues. People are not going to tolerate a government that just is led by people who just believe something. They want a government that is led by people who can do something. And all the beliefs in the world don't change the dynamics if we're unable to function and function effectively."
Padilla Convicted, Bill of Rights Overturned
Gust Perspective/Ralph Lopez

The Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution reads:
"In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence."
The conviction of Jose Padilla means the administration has now enshrined the authority to pick you up off the street at any time, put you in a military prison, do anything they want to you, including torture, for 3 1/2 years, then release you if they feel like it to a civilian court, psychologically helpless to assist in your own defense, as long as the charge is "suspected of terrorism." According to AP Padilla did not look surprised. Why should he? His lawyer said he did not trust anyone and fully expected this would be another part of the long charade in which interrogators posed as lawyers, he was told he would never be released, and in general messed with his mind in ways that made him emerge not the same man.
This could now happen to you, to me, anybody. This is way bigger than the Iraq War. It is for the freedoms for which the Iraq War is supposedly being fought. George Bush has overturned the U.S. Constitution.
The only remedy now is impeachment on grounds that Bush violated his oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, the Law of the Land, legislation in Congress stating that previous precedents for the "enemy combatant" designation cannot apply to American citizens in a war that has no end, and the immediate release of Jose Padilla for grievous violation of his constitutional rights. If he "assisted" in terrorism, and he probably did not, as we can see from the government's incredibly weak case, so be it. Killers are released all the time because police did not read them their Miranda rights. The blame is on the government for blowing the case. It has been held in law that dismissal of a case is the only remedy which would instill proper respect by the authorities for the Law of the Land.
If the Padilla case stands, and GWB leaves office without being impeached, it will be as if the American Revolution had never been fought, as if the thousands of men who died at Normandy died for nothing. All officers of the U.S. government are hereby reminded of their duty to the oath they took to uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution, and are ordered by We the People to effect the immediate arrest of the traitor George W. Bush.
From May 8th, the date Jose Padilla was arrested.
Ralph Lopez is a former state Rep. and state Senate candidate from Cambridge, Mass. and the author of "American Dream." He also writes his own blog,

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Ten Suggestions for Karl Rove
Guest Perspective/Raymond Buckley

In what seems to be another strange turn of events in Bush’s White House, Karl Rove is leaving. I think we all thought he would fight until the bitter end, considering he did not leave after or during any number of scandals that had his name written all over them. Rove should hear this message loud and clear: It is too late. Leaving now will not make us forget, nor will it make us forgive, the indefensible assault on honest and transparent government that you masterminded. The President, however much a puppet of Rove he is, should ultimately be held responsible for including such a reduced person on his team for so many years.
Here are a few ways Karl Rove could fill his newly found free time:

* Spend a day with the family of every soldier lost in Iraq and explain why Bush misled us into the war.
* Volunteer at a VA hospital and give our veterans a reason why they are not receiving the best healthcare possible.
* Write a hand written letter of apology to the tens of thousands of African Americans in Florida whose names were struck from the voting rolls just before the 2000 election.
* Tell the truth to the people of New Hampshire about your role in the 2002 phone jamming scandal.
* Enlighten Americans why you thought it was honorable to stand behind your corrupt friends Tom DeLay, Scooter Libby and Jack Abramoff.
* Visit every law school in the country and describe why you, Bush, Cheney, Gonzalez and the rest of the Administration think you are above the law.
* Spend a month living with a working family and tell them why you oppose labor unions that would provide them better wages and increased healthcare access.
* Volunteer in the Gulf Coast and assist the families still ravaged by Bush’s indifference to the Hurricane Katrina crisis.
* Spend a month in witness protection so you know how scared Valerie Plame and her family were after you broke her CIA cover for political retribution.
* Testify on Capitol Hill, as you were subpoenaed to do, so Congress can perform oversight on the Bush political operation.

Ray Buckley is chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Boycott Smithfield Foods
I haven't been on a boycott kick for a while. In the past, I would spend a lot of time not buying products because of corporate standards. Over the last, I don't know, six or seven years, I've loosened the standard a bit although I still don't buy certain products.
I've been to Wal-Mart once in my entire life because I couldn't find a $3 taxi cab mirror at any other store; I don't buy gas from ExxonMobile and haven't since the Valdez spill; I try not to buy Proctor & Gamble and Gillette products because they test on animals in an inhumane way and I haven't for almost 20 years. For a while there, I didn't buy ham or pork products because I saw "Babe" and the pig was so cute, I couldn't bare eating the stuff. But then, I slipped back into eating it after I got bored with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and the short shelf life of deli roast beef and turkey meat, my other choices.
Well, earlier today, a reader sent me this article from the French newspaper, La Monde [via], about what is going on in Romania near the farms of a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods: ["Swine Plague: Romania Criticizes American Group's Attitude"].
I was pretty shocked by this but I probably shouldn't be. Corporations do this all the time. They treat people like shit and then expect everyone to just go on about their lives. But enough already. If we are going to have a civil society, then we have to treat people with the respect and dignity they deserve. It goes double for you if you are a corporation. Corporations have no rights; the people have rights. But corporations have a responsibility to treat people decently in order to continue to do business with people.
So, to that end, I penned this short email to the corporate office of Smithfield Foods, in Virginia:

To whom it may concern,

I’ve just read a story online about the situation with the swine plague near your Romania farms and the way your company is treating the people in that area. I am shocked by what I read and I doubt a newspaper with the credibility of La Monde would get the story wrong.

I want to let you know that I am refusing to buy any of your products until you change your corporate standards, farming practices, and the way you treat your neighbors. I currently buy Krakus ham and Carando pepperoni on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, and I buy at least one Butterball turkey during the holidays. I will buy no more of your products until you fix this problem and treat the “peasants” of Romania with the decency and respect they deserve.

I'm boycotting Smithfield Foods. I ask you to join me. I don't know if it will make any difference. One might say that I'm denying myself the joy of eating Krakus ham, something I really love and is a real treat at $6 a pound. But, at the same time, I can buy a different brand of lunch meat and feel better about the situation knowing that my money will not go to promote this kind of corporate behavior. You can too.
Republicans Can Cut Pentagon Waste, too
Guest Perspective/Jack Shanahan

Presidential candidates routinely rail against big government, but they're often silent when it comes to denouncing the biggest source of waste, redundancy, and inefficiency in the federal bureaucracy. That is, the Pentagon.
This year, against a backdrop of ballooning deficits and serious threats from terrorists, we're already starting to see a few candidates break freefrom the taboo against calling for serious cuts in defense spending.
But if you listen closely to the presidential hopefuls traipsing though Iowaand New Hampshire these days, you'd think it's only a few of the Democrats who will cut Cold War weapons systems from the Pentagon budget - and their proposed cuts are mostly nominal compared to the potential savings that could be realized.
Sen. Joe Biden, for example, opposes space-based weapons. Gov. Bill Richardson wants to cut 10 percent from the Pentagon budget. Both candidates would cut the V-22 Osprey and the F-22 Raptor fighter plane. And Sen. John Edwards opposes Star Wars.
All of these programs are big bonanza projects for defense contractors, butare of little or no use for our national defense.
The failures of missile defense are the stuff of legend, and offensive space-based weapons are almost literally pie-in-the-sky ideas that could trigger an arms race in space.
The Osprey, a helicopter-airplane hybrid, offers only marginal improvements to our existing helicopters, yet costs five times as much and has killed 23 Marines in test flights.
The F-22, designed to fight Soviet jets, brings little to an Air Force that has easily proven its superiority in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is why the Air Force has tried to convert the F-22 to close-air support missions. But at 25 times the cost of a regular A-10, it's hard to see the value of a supersonic stealth fighter to attack ground targets.
Cutting these programs would potentially save taxpayers more than $80 billion over the next four years without affecting our national security.
Republicans on the presidential stump can hardly manage to name a single multi-billion dollar system that they would cut, though most deserve credit for at least acknowledging the fact that substantial waste can be found over at the Pentagon.
This is strange, because some brave Republicans have indeed stood up in the past and called for an end to the Pentagon's Cold War relics.
When he was Defense Secretary, Dick Cheney canceled the Osprey, only to have it saved by Congress. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld tried to scale back production of the F-22.
Just last year, President Bush tried to scale back the Army's ambitious Future Combat System, a bloated weapons project, only to be overruled by the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Sen. John McCain is famous for his scorn for pork spending, including wasteful defense programs, and has fought to rein in cost overruns on big acquisition projects.
But it's one thing to talk about cutting waste in the abstract, and quite another to single out programs that have built-in constituencies in Congress and the defense industry.
In an era where it's considered politically safe to lavish money on defense budgets regardless of the threat to America, it takes leadership to stand above parochial interests.
Now is the time for Republican candidates to muster some of the courage they will surely need if elected President, and name specific Cold War weapons systems that would be cut under their Administrations.
And it's time for Democratic candidates, like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, who have yet to name specific Cold War relics that should be axed, to tell us what they plan to cut.
And all candidates, Republicans and Democrats, should go further, offering their own plans to save tens of billions in wasteful defense spending. There's no doubt the savings are there for the taking.

Vice Admiral Jack Shanahan (USN, ret) formally commanded the U.S. Second Fleet and heads the Military Advisory Committee of the Priorities Campaign.

Editor's Notes: If you would like to submit a guest perspective to Politizine, feel free: Email it to to be considered. Second point: $80 billion is a pretty good chunk of change. The next time you see, say, a certain Republican senator by the name of Judd Gregg going on and on about entitlements and how we are bankrupting the future for our children but when you point to a study by Public Citizen which showed more than $300-plus billion in corporate welfare, subsidies, giveaways and abuse, and he responds to you that Public Citizen is a "liberal" organization or says, eliminating those line items would be "raising taxes," point to the $80 billion mentioned here. Let's see if he can stammer through that one. Or, will he just call you a liberal and slough you off?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Is Edwards pulling out of Nevada?

If he is, it's a mistake: ["Edwards Opts to Redirect Nevada Staff"] and ["Edwards Lowers Nevada Status"]. I would probably bet that the campaign's comments are correct on this but I have to wonder. It seems to be in a bit of disarray right now at a time when it shouldn't be, but, the flip of this is that it shouldn't be that surprising when you consider what is going on out here in the real world.
The Edwards campaign has some good people. But, as I've already noted on this blog, they seem a tad rudderless at times. This can sometimes happen in a campaign. You can't be 100 percent everyday. And, it is still early ... although time is starting to run out. I don't have a lot of detail about the ground game here in New Hampshire right now and I can't explain why. I do, however, sense an unease about the whole thing right now.
In addition, if someone is going to knock Hillary down a few pegs, and end the air of inevitability, it will have to be someone like Edwards [Obama is finding his own ways to peg himself down]. Pretty much, everyone else is out of it. Richardson has a very slim long shot but I agree with most perceptions that he is running to be vice president [I do, however, happen to like some of his more conservative stances, like his comments on taxes and gun ownership].
What is shocking about this though is that as a candidate, Edwards is really on top of his game right now. In forums and debates, he is straightforward and pointed, and that might be why he isn't holding up out there, too.

Sidebar: Let's look at some poll numbers from the last two weeks. The good news for Edwards ... the Iowa remains: Edwards 30, Hillary 22, Obama 18. But look elsewhere. New Hampshire: Clinton 37, Obama 22, Edwards 14. Florida: Clinton 40, Obama 20, Edwards 16; Michigan: Hillary 45, Obama 26, Edwards 16. South Carolina: Clinton 36, Obama 33, Edwards 12. North Carolina: Clinton and Edwards 29, Obama 23; Georgia: Clinton 35, Obama 25, Edwards 17. Missouri: Clinton 40, Edwards 22, Obama 15. California: Clinton 51, Obama 27, Edwards 14. When does the "Stop Hillary" movement start?

John Edwards, unfortunately, might be scaring some people away with his talking points. He is on all cylinders. He is jabbing at the important things which need to be fixed - tackling the poverty problem, standing up for American workers, figuring out what to do with the health care system [something Hillary royally effed up back in 1993 when Bill Clinton had an elected MANDATE to fix the problem], going after lobbyists and attempting to limit their influence over public policy, etc. These issues aren't just about fixing the nation either. It's about reforming the Democratic Party, too, something folks like me have been writing about for close to 20 years.
But pulling folks out of Nevada, if it is true, is a mistake ... unless, of course, you're sending them to Florida and Michigan, which seem hellbent on getting in front of everyone.
Yeah, but is he John Doe#2?
After years and years of being held in prison, it looks like the federal government finally figured out a way to jam up Jose Padilla on some pretty flimsy terrorist charges: ["Padilla Convicted of Terror Support"]. What happened to the "dirty nuclear bomb" charge? I also find it interesting that somehow his defense of wanting to go and learn more about Islam would get twisted around to being membership in Al-Qaida. It doesn't make any sense, not unlike everything about this case.
But here is my question: Is he John Doe#2? Because, he sure looks like he is: ["Is Jose Padilla John Doe Number 2 at the Oklahoma City Bombing?"]. It seems to me that there is more suspicion that he is John Doe #2 than a pal of Osbama bin Ladin.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Why Is Congress So Partisan?

Guest Perspective/Lee H. Hamilton

Early in my career in the U.S. House, I trekked over to the Senate side one day to watch a debate between Hubert Humphrey and Barry Goldwater, two of the great ideological warriors of the era. I don't recall the issue, but I do remember the heat they generated as they went at each other hammer and tongs. They were knowledgeable, passionate, and deeply committed to their vastly different points of view.
I remember just as keenly what happened after they'd tried to eviscerate each other rhetorically: They joked together as they left the floor, heading off to have a drink.

I have a hard time imagining such a scene in today's Washington, where a moment of camaraderie like that might be viewed with deep suspicion, as though personal friendship somehow undercuts ideological integrity. In the intensely partisan atmosphere that reigns today on Capitol Hill, it is much less common for two legislators to pursue their beliefs with such intensity of purpose, yet remain fast friends or work together when their interests coincide.

Americans of all stripes have noticed this, too, and they don't like it. The partisanship that divides Congress, and its members' apparent inability to transcend their divisions, is one important reason the institution's public standing is at historic depths.

How did we get here? In part, the answers lie in a series of long-term political trends that have converged to create this current unhappy mood.

For one thing, computers have enabled state legislators - or members of Congress eager to dictate to them - to draw congressional district lines that create safely Democratic or Republican districts. The result is that politicians running for the U.S. House don't have to appeal to the center to win, they need to appeal to the core of their parties' supporters.

This has happened at the same time that the parties themselves have moved toward their ideological extremes, pushed by the interest groups that fund and try to influence them. As members become spokesmen for particular points of view, their positions take on a harder edge, since they are playing to potential campaign funders or to an interest group whose supporters' votes they need at election time. The upshot is that moderate Democrats and Republicans are the exception in office these days, not the rule.

The sad truth, though, is that the electorate, too, is divided, which manifests itself at the moment in a Congress that is narrowly controlled by one party and faces a President of the other. Over the last decade, each party has been struggling to become the majority party, and so every vote on Capitol Hill has taken on heavily partisan implications, since the leadership hopes that by taking the position it does - and forcefully encouraging rank-and-file members to go along - it will pick up a few extra seats at the next election. This invites partisan struggle.
These political trends have been cemented by changes within Congress. If it is hard to find moderates there, it is even harder to find institutionalists - people who worry about the role of Congress as a separate and independent branch of government and who focus on strengthening Congress as an institution. Preoccupation with partisanship and political calculation erodes Congress' role as a deliberative body; "debate" these days is generally two sets of talking points hammering at each other, rather than a genuine effort to reach consensus on the best course for the American people to follow.

Even something as mundane as the congressional schedule now works in favor of partisanship. As their time on Capitol Hill has come to focus on committee hearings, floor debate and other opportunities for confrontation, and as their weekends now are often taken up with travel back to their states to meet with constituents, members of Congress in recent years have found far fewer opportunities to develop the kinds of friendships that cross party lines - and that produced such close friends as Humphrey and Goldwater.

These are all deep-seated trends, and they are not easy to reverse. My hope, oddly enough, lies in the low standing Congress currently enjoys. For all its faults, it does respond to public pressure, and if enough Americans let their members know that they're unhappy with the intense partisanship they see, change will come.

Perhaps it will be a move in some states to abandon partisan redistricting and move to some more neutral way of drawing lines; perhaps it will simply be a change in attitude and a greater emphasis on Capitol Hill on careful deliberation and comity, or greater respect for the institution of the Congress. Whatever the case, even little moves in the right direction would be an improvement over the situation as it stands today.

Lee Hamilton is Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.
New 3WK stream
3WK, the online music streaming station, has added a third network to their site: Classic Alternative Radio. I don't know when they added it but it wasn't there last week. And the stream is pretty good. It features all the best of the 1980s and 1990s. Already today I've heard Translator, Juliana Hatfield's "Spin the Bottle," and the Psychedelic Furs' masterpiece, "Book of Days." Very, very nice.
Frankly, this is the format of the future, as we late baby boomers and X-ers long to hear the music of our lives and I'm surprised that rock radio stations haven't moved some of these tasty tracks into their playlists. While I dig 3WK's indie rock stream, I may be coming back to this stream a bit more often.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

900th post
OK, I've reached the 900th post here on Politizine. Almost five years and 900 posts. Wow. I was going to write up something special for the 1,000th post but I'm not there yet. I probably would be if I did what other bloggers do, and put everything in an individual post. I just don't have time for that, frankly. And, I like a bunch of stuff on one page. To celebrate, here is a link to some very cool UFO footage, supposedly from Haiti. I don't know what these things are and I don't know if they are real. But, if they are toys, someone tell me where to get one because I want one!

R.I.P. Merv Griffin
["Merv Griffin, popular talk-show host, creator of 'Jeopardy!' dies"]
Thoughts on Ames
W. Mitt Romney easily won the Iowa Ames Straw Poll, as expected. Here are the results:

1. W. Mitt Romney: 32 percent
2. Mike Huckabee: 18 percent
3. Sam Brownback: 15 percent
4. Tom Tancredo: 14 percent
5. Ron Paul: 9 percent
6. Tommy Thompson: 7 percent
7. Fred Thompson: 1 percent
8. Rudy Giuliani: 1 percent
9. Duncan Hunter: 1 percent
10. John McCain: less than 1 percent
11. John Cox: Less than 1 percent

Some thoughts: First, the Republican nomination is still anyone's race, especially with Giuliani leading polls in various places and nationally, Thompson, the ghost candidate waiting to emerge, and Romney now winning Ames and leading in polls in New Hampshire. But Ames may not mean a whole lot when you consider that McCain was campaigning in New Hampshire and Giuliani was hanging out at home in New York [Giuliani is currently second in most Iowa caucus polls].
Huckabee coming in second and Brownback third is interesting but not a surprise. A former Baptist minister, Huckabee is good one-on-one and Baptists have always done well at this event. Pastor Pat Robertson won it in 1988, scaring the bejesus out of everyone at the time. Brownback reportedly spent more than $300k on the event - a huge amount of money before this campaign cycle. Tommy Thompson is expected to end his campaign. There is no word on anyone else dropping out but there are rumors that Hunter is probably a goner, too.
Tancredo was the victim of a political dirty trick, reported here: ["Hoax aimed at Tancredo's straw poll chances"]
. No word on whether the 500 people targeted showed or not. But, if they didn't, the campaign might be able to claim that it affected the results: Tancredo's fourth place finish was 230 votes shy of Brownback's third. A Tancredo third place finish would have probably made big news.
Kudos to the NYT and others for including John Cox in any of their results. Cox has been forwarding himself as the Reagan candidate and has been getting hammered all over the Web for being delusional. No information on Alan Keyes' write-in efforts.

Adam Reilly of the Boston Phoenix has his take here: ["And the results ..."]. I think Adam is right on Ron Paul, who turned in an impressive 9 percent showing at Ames, even though he is considered a "fringe" candidate. The Atlantic blog has some details: ["Ames: The Romney Victory"].

Speaking of Cox, he has a rock video out now about illegal immigration: ["John Cox video"].
I find it interesting that Cox, while criticizing illegals trying to flee to a better life, at the end says we should only accept skilled immigrants who are willing to become Americans. No disagreement there. But, what about all the thousands and thousands of Americans who can be trained to do the jobs Cox's acceptable immigrants would do? We don't need skilled immigrants; we need the people who are already here trained to do the jobs the marketplace needs filled. In actuality, the jobs which the marketplace needs filled - many of them currently filled by illegals - won't be done by Americans because the pay isn't good enough. I know Americans who will clean office buildings and pick lettuce if the price was right. They just won't do it for $3 an hour.
What is also interesting is that while chatting with Cox after his interview at a local radio station back in 2006, I randomly stated that I thought it was funny when Keyes was filmed by MTV in a moshpit back in 2000 [We were all talking about how great the New Hampshire primary was and all the fun things that happen covering campaigns]. I said, the event and coverage humanized and normalized the candidate. And it was a lot of fun to watch. Cox scoffed at my comments, stating that such activity was an undignified stunt not worthy of the office of President of the United States. But, somehow, a silly music video, which was probably done without the permission of Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, is dignified? OK, whatever. We all know that parody is allowed under copyright laws, but this kinda isn't a parody. It is probably a violation of the copyright law. Which would make it illegal and against the terms of agreement for YouTube. How undignified is that?

The Village Voice has this biting piece on Giuliani: ["Rudy Giuliani's Five Big Lies About 9/11"].

Monday, August 6, 2007

Edwards at the YearlyKos Convention
On lobbying reform:
"We don't have to wait for a new law - the Democratic Party can end the game today - and from this day forward say to Washington lobbyists - your money is no good here anymore. The system in Washington is broken - it's rigged to serve the interests of those with the most money to throw around, rather than the best interest of the American people. The type of change America needs will never be achieved if we just replace the insiders from one party with the insiders from another party. That's why the Democratic Party must lead the way in taking a bold step toward reform that will return the power in Washington back to where it belongs."
Cramer melts down on CNBC
It's all right here:

I love his line about "they're building homes in Iraq ..." Yeah, right. Somehow, we can't help an American who might be in a jittery financial situation because of say, very high health care bills or some debt based on said bills, but they can give away billions overseas? Come on. We need to get this fixed, pronto.
Interestingly, on videos here: [""], Cramer says the housing industry isn't a big deal, only $35 billion, or about a quarter of what ATT's stock is worth. If it crashes, big deal, is what he is implying. Hmm. I wonder. I also like that he explains what he did saying, I was just telling it like it is.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Making Economic Growth Work Ecologically

Guest Perspective/Roy Morrison

Our hearts tell us what we should do. Prices tell us what we will do.
The principle is clear if we want to make economic growth mean ecological improvement, not ecological destruction. More pollution must mean a decrease in the rate of profit. Less pollution must mean increasing profits.
It’s not hard. We need to tax consumption, not income. Pay taxes on whatever we buy or use. More pollution, more tax. Lower pollution, less tax. Ecological consumption taxes can enlist the invisible hand of Adam Smith in the cause of ecological sustainability.
An average 18 percent ecological value added tax, or E-VAT, can replace all U.S. government taxes on income, fund the federal budget, and get the prices right by raising taxes on more polluting goods and services. The more polluting, the higher the E-VAT tax rate, and the lower the rate of profit.
Helping save the planet and our kids’ futures is to phase out income taxes and the IRS. How painful is that? Just make the E-VAT rate on all goods and services increase with the amount of pollution, depletion, or ecological damage. That is the path to ecological sustainability and peace, instead of climate change and resource wars for oil, water, and fertile high ground.
We can phase in the E-VAT over 10 years as we phase out income taxes. The E-VAT is simple for consumers. You pay a sales tax at the point of purchase. You file no tax forms. You avoid taxes by buying less polluting goods or services with lower tax rates indicated by color codes.
And the E-VAT is simple and largely self-enforcing for businesses. Businesses file only a simple form reporting the tax you collected from your sales and taking credit for the tax you paid your suppliers. You send the difference between what you collected and what you paid to the government. This credit for invoices system means that the value sellers add to their product is only taxed once. The E-VAT could be based, first, on average amounts of pollution, depletion, and ecological damage by S.I.C. code (Standard Industrial Classification) with less polluting items applying for reductions.
The E-VAT is consistent with WTO rules that permit taxes on imports with exemptions for exports. If the U.S. adopted an E-VAT, it would make exporters from China to Germany change their practices.
The E-Vat tax base is final sales to domestic purchasers, more than $13 trillion a year. An 18 percent average E-VAT, with allowances for collection and non-compliance, could replace all personal , corporate, and payroll taxes.
The E-VAT as a tax on all consumption, not simply on pollution, is positively reinforcing. As the market responds to E-VAT rates, highest polluting items would lose market share. To maintain revenues, the tax on moderate polluting items would rise. Over time, this would mean the E-VAT would tend toward a flat tax on most items that were sustainable in impact with high taxes indeed on the few polluting outliers.
The regressive nature of the E-VAT can easily be remedied by a targeted negative income tax. An additional $64.5 billion for a negative income tax would keep federal tax rates flat for the 40 percent of U.S. households with the lowest income. My forthcoming book, "Markets, Democracy & Survival," discusses the E-VAT in detail.
The simple relationship between less pollution and higher profit will lead in short order to a fundamental transformation in the way we do business and make investment and consumption decisions. If polluting goods and services cost more, we just need to be price conscious shoppers and businesspeople. Our ethics and our pocketbooks will be once more aligned.

Roy Morrison is Director of the Office of Sustainability at Southern New Hampshire University.His latest book, "Markets, Democracy & Survival," is forthcoming in 2007. "Markets, Democracy & Survival" available now for download in PDF from:

GOP Iowa Debate
I didn't see the GOP debate today on ABC [I assume it was on "This Week," but I'm not sure], but others did. Here are some polls about who won.

ABC News has an online poll, with almost 24,000 voting, here are the results: Paul 13,355, Romney 2,133, Giuliani 1,912, Nobody, I'm waiting for Fred Thompson or Newt Gingrich 1,597, Huckabee 1,529, Nobody won. I'm voting Democratic 1,342, Brownback 704, Tancredo 429, McCain 381, Thompson 259, and Hunter 239.

Over at Drudge, he also has a poll, with more than 61,000 voting: Paul 37 percent, Brownback 32, Giuliani 12, Romney 10, Huckabee 3, Tancredo and T. Thompson 2, Hunter and McCain 1.

Here is some coverage: ["ABC News Politics"].

Smaller Times, save money
Tomorrow, you might see something different about the NYT:
["Honey, They Shrunk The ... Times?"]. I can say that I did notice a difference in the WSJ when it shrank but I have to admit that between the redesign and the size cut, it is an easier, more thorough read. Now that I'm working in Massachusetts again, I've been flipping through the Boston Globe on an irregular basis. They also recently cut the size down but the also shrunk the font text and it is a bit harder to read.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

If I were a Simpsons character ...

... this is what I would look like! For those of you who know me, you'll see that this isn't a bad representation, although not perfect. I couldn't get the hair or ears correct, but whatever. Feel free to Simpsonize yourself here: ["Simpsonize Me"]. This is a pretty cool promotional tool.

It's difficult to be a journalist these days
A lot has been written about all the journalists who are dying in Iraq. But they are being killed right here at home too: ["7 Arrested in Death of Oakland Newspaper Editor"]. Dan Kennedy also has this interesting piece from the Guardian's Web site: ["The people's presses"].

Gingrich continues his own version of the Straight Talk Express
Like it wasn't juicy enough when he called the entire GOP field a bunch of pygmies, now he's going after the War on Terror: ["Gingrich says war on terror 'phony'"]. Then, he steals a progressive/leftwing line, from the subhead - "Former speaker says energy independence is key" ... gee, how many of us have been saying that? Is Gingrich going off the deep end? One has to wonder.

Tasteful classic music ...
... can be enjoyed or used as a weapon: ["Wash. City Using Classical Music To Chase Gangs from Bus Stop"].

Thursday, August 2, 2007

WRKO responds to Herald hit piece
In the ongoing, and amusing, media battle down here in Boston, here is the PD of WRKO responding to a Herald hit piece: ["Unfair to Finneran"]. Here are some of the responses over at ["Jason Wolfe vs. The Boston Herald"].
I'll report on the fab Cheap Trick/Squeeze show in Boston last night in the next day or two. I might include some comments about all the changes at the South Boston Seaport District too, which are pretty impressive.