Monday, March 31, 2008

20 days? Was this really worth the $$$?

Former NHCD1 candidate Gary Dodds gets a fine and 20 days in jail: ["Dodds Sentenced To 20 Days For Faking Disappearance"]. I can't believe this. What a friggin' waste of money this trial was.

This woman should be nowhere near the presidency ...

More unpaid bills!!: ["Cash-strapped Clinton fails to pay bills"]. Frankly, I don't think she should drop out if she doesn't want to. Take it to the convention. Have a floor fight over every last delegate. Rip the party apart for all I care. It will be a better spectacle if she doesn't concede.
However, if she can't afford to campaign anymore because she doesn't have the money to pay vendors, then she should slow things down and pay her bills. She is losing all credibility because her campaign can't pay vendors in a timely manner. I truly hope that vendors start requiring payment up front from the campaign.
And you have got to love Politico. They have been digging up all kinds of great angles in this campaign, often beating the big newspapers. Amazing. I don't know if they are making money or not but they are doing a great job.

I meant to post this last week: Jesse Ventura on Donny Deutsch:

Saturday, March 29, 2008

We have tired. We have faltered. We have failed.

"We will not tire ... we will not falter ... we will not fail ..."
President George W. Bush, addressing the nation after the 9-11 attacks

This morning, I spent a bit of time doing some work research on newspaper design. Even though I'm tremendously busy, I'm a little bored with what I am doing design-wise at work. It isn't lack of imagination as much as the need to think about things in a deeper way, with emphasis on getting more creative and challenging myself. The same old pedestrian design gets stale fast. In these strange media times, there is not a lot of time for this kind of contemplation. But, I find it exhilarating to even be toying with design ideas.
Over the past few weeks, the head of our pagination department has let me borrow his editions of The Best in Newspaper Design published by the Society for News Design. They are relatively inexpensive - about $30 a piece - but since he already has them sitting around his office, why not take a look at what the real pros are doing out there.
Most of the award-winning designs are the big papers, with big staffs [slowing shrinking big staffs], who spend nothing but time looking at how their newspapers are put together each day. For a weekly, you often don't have this kind of time unless you think ahead. As well, it is hard to localize content when looking at foreign policy issues or great societal shifts, some of the big things the award winners have tackled.
But, at the same time, if you can do a little planning, you can get creative and that is the point for even spending any time on this. In any process, the first step is to educate yourself. The second step is figuring out how to get it done. The third step is to get it done. Sometimes you have to do that quickly; other times you don't.
A couple of weeks ago, I took a look at the 25th edition, covering 2003 and got a lot of ideas for the future. Some were silly. Others were cool. Some were totally off the wall and would take hundreds of manhours to create. But other ideas weren't that hard to consider. Some graphics, a picture or two, some creative fonting, and wah lah, something challenging, fresh and new.
After returning the 25th edition, I was sent the 23rd edition, the one with a lot of 9-11 stuff in it. I was struck by the emotion and, frankly, depravity of it all the covers ... violent, painful, and frightening ... everything a newspaper should be to convey such a tragic event. And for the first time in a long time, I thought about 9-11.
While I was skimming through the endless amounts of front covers portraying the attacks towards the end of the book, one stuck out at me. It was The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, La., from Sept. 21, 2001, and it featured a picture of President Bush holding up a police badge with the words 'WE WILL NOT TIRE. WE WILL NOT FALTER. WE WILL NOT FAIL.' in bold across the top.
I almost passed by it completely and then went back and looked at it again. I paused for a minute just staring at the cover.
The words and the headline's boldness, pun completely intended, struck me. We just acknowledged the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. There are more than 4,000 American servicemen and women dead, tens of thousands of American and coalition forces wounded, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead, wounded, and upended by the violence of our invasion, and hundreds of billions spent and wasted on this debacle. There is absolute chaos on the ground in Iraq, to the point where the supposedly safe green zone is under constant attack. And the most important thing to remember about all of this is this point right here: Osama bin Ladin - the alleged perpetrator of the 9-11 attacks - is still on the loose.
You can only come to one conclusion: We have tired. We have faltered. We have failed. And, frankly, many American people have forgotten. Why? Because the perpetrators of this fraud, the invasion of Iraq, sent our resources, men and women, and treasure on a wild goose chase which had nothing to do with 9-11.
Until we can get our troops out of Iraq and hunt every damn inch of dirt in Afghanistan and Pakistan to find bin Ladin and bring him to America to stand trial, we will never be able to resolve these attacks and heal from them. And this doesn't take into account the endless amounts of unanswered questions surrounding the attacks, like how a $500 billion a year military and intelligence system could so hopelessly fail us against some clowns with box cutters, something our nation has still not addressed. No, we've thrown more money at the same departments and entities which failed to keep our nation safe from the 9-11 attacks in the first place.
In a way it has become clear that some people in our country never want us to heal from the attacks. They don't want justice to prevail. If they did, we wouldn't be thinking about attacking Iran. If they did, we wouldn't be in Iraq at all. We'd be in Afghanistan with all the resources we are wasting in Iraq, hunting down bin Ladin. At this point, all of this is about nothing but control. Because, so long as you are scared of something, you can and will be controlled.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wednesday short takes

Manch Mayor Frank Guinta will not run for governor this year: ["Frank Guinta won't challenge John Lynch"]. This is interesting. Just a couple of weeks ago, he was struttin' around like a proud peacock. Does this open the door for former Franklin Mayor Tony Giunta?

Mike Gravel joins the Libertarian Party and will attempt to win their nom in May: ["Gravel Joins the Libertarians"]. Very interesting. I've known George Phillies, the central Mass. Libertarian activist who is running, for a long time. He's a good man. This will be an uphill battle for Gravel. But who knows?

Mike Huckabee makes some interesting comments about the Obama/Rev. Wright situation:

Think you're paranoid? Well, you may not be alone: ["The Truth About Fusion Centers Will Blow Your Mind"]. I wonder if this has anything to do with this: ["Bush's Mysterious 'New Programs'"]. Or maybe this: ["Which bank is going to follow the Bear?"]. And while Rome burns ...: ["Split Is Forming Over Regulation of Wall Street"]. Sigh.

I meant to post this last week but spaced it. Crybaby Clinton Kossacks: ["Pro-Clinton Bloggers Boycott Kos"]. I won't pile on Hillary Clinton for her outright lying about Bosnia. No need to. Others are doing it. Dan Kennedy does writes some stuff here: ["Clinton under fire"].

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Noise Top 30 Chart/April

Stations reporting: WAAF, WBCN, WFNX, WMBR, WMFO, WTCC, WZBC

1. Neptune – Gong Lake

2. December Sound – The Silber Album

3. Black Fortress of Opium – Black Fortress of Opium

4. Dirt Mall – Got the Goat by the Horns

5. Hallelujah the Hills – Collective Psychosis Begone

6. A.K.A.C.O.D. – Happiness

7. Chris Pearson/EKRANOPLAN – Soundtracks

8. Mobius Band – Heaven

9. Pants Yell! – Alison Stratton

10. Guillermo Sexo – Guillermo Sexo

11. Ball and Pivot – Heart in the Sky

12. Bobb Trimble – Iron Curtain Innocence

13. The Doom Buggies – The Doom Buggies

14. Hot Box – The Histone Code

15. Me and Joan Collins – From Behind EP

16. Miskatonic – Let Us Entertain Us

17. Passion Pit – Chunk of Change

18. While Rome Burns – The Beauty In Violence

19. Apple Betty – Let’s Play

20. Cheater Pint – Cheater Pint

21. Concord Ballet Orchestra Players – Flying Together EP

22. Cuddle Magic – Cuddle Magic

23. Dear Leader – Dear Leader

24. Fire on Fire – 5 Song EP

25. Freezepop – future future future perfect

26. Gondoliers – Gondoliers

27. Paper Thin Stages – Flying Hearse

28. Gregg Porter – Final Final EP

29. Pulse Prophets – Breathe

30. Turpentine Brothers – Turpentine Brothers

Monday, March 24, 2008

An American Way for a Zero Carbon Future

Guest Perspective/Roy Morrison

If we’re concerned about global warming, endless wars for oil, nuclear proliferation, and our economic future then we need to face four very convenient truths.

Combining four very American enthusiasms: the automobile, electricity, free renewable fuel, and market opportunities, makes a zero carbon future ours for the taking.

That’s right. In this zero carbon future we can drive with no gas and no pollution, turn on our computers to connect us to a smart global grid, and get checks in the mail every month for our troubles.

The technologies are at hand or need just the slightest push. New plug-in electric cars using lithium-ion batteries will be charged at night from a renewable grid and help provide peak daytime power while we’re at work. This is doable. Just a small percentage of our millions of cars can give us much of the energy needed to balance and stabilize a renewable energy grid system.

Copious wind resources on farm and ranch land from the Dakotas to Texas will be combined with solar electric concentrators and PV panels from the South West and local PV arrays covering our roofs and parking lots. DC power lines, underground if necessary, will facilitate moving the power to where it’s needed.

The system will be integrated and coordinated through a smart electric grid using real time price control to optimize energy use and energy generation. We’ll buy power when it’s cheap, and sell it back into the grid when it’s expensive.

By using renewable energy hedges, like the one negotiated between Southern New Hampshire University and PPM Energy, every energy consumer and car and PV panel owner will have a profitable stake in our common renewable energy future. We can use our energy purchases and investments in plug in vehicles and photovoltaics to fix our net annual energy expenses for a generation, and receive monthly income for buying our grid tied cars and home PV systems.

We don’t need to subsidize nukes and watch more countries build bombs while we pile up the waste. We don’t need to subsidize corn ethanol and turn food for a hungry world into fuel that raises food prices for the poor and does little to reduce net carbon. We don’t need to lop off the top of our mountains and subsidize “clean coal”, or try to capture and inject carbon dioxide into the ground in the hopes it will stay there for five-hundred years. We don’t have to send our kids and loved ones to fight wars for oil when we have more than enough energy from the sun and wind.

And yes there’s more. Combined heat and power that turns every heating system into a micro-generator, and district heating from existing urban power plants should play a part. Compressed air, capacitors, and flywheels can help balance the renewable grid. We need to adopt high efficiency standards and zero pollution industrial ecological practices using “waste” from one process as input for another. We can use duck weed and water hyacinths fed by our sewage plants and agricultural runoff to produce enormous amounts of biomass for bio-fuels.

We can make the whole thing work rather painlessly by phasing out income taxes, abolishing the IRS, and phasing in ecological consumption taxes on all goods and services. If something pollutes more, it will cost more. If something pollutes les, it will cost less. The market price, not just regulation will tell us what to do.

Wake up America. Let’s use our cars, electricity, free renewable fuel, and the market to build a zero carbon, sustainable, and peaceful future.

Roy Morison is Director of the Office for Sustainability at Southern New Hampshire University. His latest book is "Markets, Democracy & Survival," available online at He can be contacted at or

McCain's VP

Politics1 has some rumors about John McCain's VP pick. Mitt Romney is apparently out. Mike Huckabee will probably get a cabinet offer. McCain would like to put Joe Lieberman on the ticket but a senior advisor says he doesn't have to guts to do it. That leaves Gov. Charlie Christ of Florida or Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina, according to insiders.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Party like it's 1929 ...

An acquaintance of mine from Winchester sent me the link to this Paul Krugman column this morning. It is worth a look: ["Party Like It's 1929"]. Krugman gets it mostly correct especially when concentrating on the financial markets. But there is so much more to the recession/impending depression than just what is going on in the financial markets. Brace yourself because the worst hasn't even come yet.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

An Election Without Meaning

Guest Perspective/By Peter Phillips

Will November 2008 bring a meaningful change to America? Will getting rid of George W. Bush and Richard Cheney without impeachment or indictment really make a difference? Will a $600 billion war/defense budget be cut in half and used for desperately needed domestic spending? Will the $93 billion dollars profits in the private health insurance companies ­­— those parasitic intermediates between you and your doctor — be used instead for full health care coverage for all? Will Habeas Corpus and Posse Comitatus be restored to the people? Will torture stop and the US withdraw from Iraq immediately? Will all students in public universities be able to enroll for free? Will the U.S. national security agencies stop mass spying on our personal communications? Will the neo-conservative agenda of total military domination of the world be reversed?

The answer to these questions in the context of the current billion dollar presidential campaign is an absolute no. Instead we have a campaign of personalities and platitudes. There is a race candidate, a gender candidate and a tortured veteran candidate, each talking about change in America, national security, freedom, and the American way. The candidates are running with support of political parties so deeply embedded with the military industrial complex, the health insurance companies, Wall Street, and corporate media that it is undeterminable where the board rooms separate from the state rooms.

The 2008 presidential race is a media entertainment spectacle with props, gossip, accusations, and public relations. It is impression management from a candidates’ perspective. How can we fool the most people into believing that we stand for something? It is billions of dollars of gravy for the media folks and continued profit maximunization for the war machine, Wall Street, and insurance companies no matter who is determined the winner in November.

We must face the fact that the U.S. government’s primary mission is to protect the wealthy and insure capital expansion worldwide. The U.S. military — spending more than the rest of the militaries of the world combined — is the muscle behind this protect-capital-at-all-costs agenda, and will be used against the American people if deemed necessary to support the mission.

Homeland Security, the North American Command, mass arrest practices with the FALCON raids, new detentions centers, and broadened “terrorism” laws to included interference with business profits are all now in place to insure domestic tranquility through extra judicial means if needed.

The two party corporate political system is having a HOMELAND presidential campaign — Hillary, Obama, McCain, Election, Lacking, Actual, National, Debate. It is time for real change, but it will only come with a social movement of reform in the tradition of the progressive, labor, civil rights, anti-war movements of the last century. We need to use all of our activist, legal, and political resources to reverse these threats to freedom. Naomi Wolf says it is not too late to prevent totalitarianism, but we have to act fast.

Peter Phillips is a Professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University and director of Project Censored. Access to verifying facts and analysis for the issues mentioned above is available at

Is it time for a sane energy policy yet?

This chart shows the spike in oil prices during the last two years. These are non-cash prices offered by one of the local oil dealers in Concord. These prices were discounted by $0.10 per gallon if paid within a certain time period.
The cost of living has been on my mind lately for obvious reasons. It has been on everyone's mind. It is becoming clear that the economy is in a real tailspin and for whatever reason, none of our "leaders" seem to want to do anything about it.
A lot of the problems are the fault of ordinary folks who have not been able to catch up with their standard of living. They spent too much, they bought too many things, and now they are paying the price. But that is only a small section of the nation. Many others have had it bad for a very long time and for those folks, it is getting worse.
Here is just one example of how bad things are for normal, ordinary folks like me.
On Wednesday, we ordered 100 gallons of home heating oil for our residence. The quoted price was $3.79 per gallon. On Thursday afternoon when the delivery guy brought the oil, it had gone up 10 cents. In seven weeks, it had gone up 54 cents per gallon. In a little more than two years, the price has gone up 250 percent.
In looking at the overall picture, our household will pay about $600 more this year to heat our home than we did last year. I'm hoping that the latest delivery of oil will actually be the last one for the year but I'm not so sure. Sometimes, we have to have the heat on in April. In previous years, we have been able to ride through the spring with very little oil. This winter though blew the doors off the budget without the spike in oil prices. If we have to get more before it starts to warm up, that $600 price will go to $800 or $1,000.
At the same time, without going into specifics, our household income has stagnated and is less than it was the previous year. We are thankfully hanging in there due to creative budgeting and savings tactics on my part while at the same time paying down long-term debt as fast as possible. But I know a lot of folks who are barely holding on and I can just imagine how bad it is for them.
As we come to the end of this winter, let's not forget what we have gone through. This is an election year. Incumbents and challengers will be begging for our votes. While elected officials were pontificating about the home heating set asides they were able to line up for poor folks just a few months ago, the rest of us have been getting hammered due to their refusal to come up with some sane national energy policy which benefits all Americans. They have refused to enforce anti-trust laws and refused to put any kind of cost controls on the energy businesses. We are paying for their negligence.
The costs of heating our homes, commuting to our jobs, powering our homes and jobs, and putting food on the table, have skyrocketed. The result of the last few years has been a massive transfer of money from the majority of Americans to a handful of energy companies. And this isn't Wall Street - this is one sector of the economy. We need look no further than ExxonMobil posting a record $43 billion profit last year. That's not good business; that's predatory capitalism at its worst.
For more than 30 years we have had energy problems and beyond a few token suggestions, nothing has been done about the problems. Businesses are, thankfully, making advances in hybrid car technology and solar panels. But that isn't enough. And the costs of these two items are often prohibitively high and out of reach for most Americans, even if they could amortize the cost over a number of years.
When shopping for a car last year, I compared the prices of hybrids and high mileage non-hybrids. Since I was commuting about 130 highway miles per day to get to work, it seemed worth the time to do some math to see if the hybrid would be beneficial or not. As it turned out, even with the better mileage, the hybrid was just too expensive and did not provide the long-term cost savings. It broke even after seven years. Hybrids only get about 45 miles on the highway or just a bit higher than the 35 to 40 mpg high mileage non-hybrids will get if you stay within the speed limits. If I was doing 130 miles in city or back roads driving, the hybrids, which get around 60 in the city, would be worth the extra money. But with highway miles, the hybrid just wasn't worth the added expense. As well, the tax deductions put in place to encourage hybrid purchases were expiring and not renewed, despite their popularity and the Democrats controlling both houses of Congress.
Solar panels are a similar situation. About six years ago, I did a story about a guy who had a two-family home in Massachusetts and installed solar panels on his roof to supply power to heat the hot water for both apartments. There were tax incentives for the installation and if I recall correctly, after eight to 10 years, the expense of the panels were to be paid off, with unlimited, free hot water, warmed by the sun, after that time period. However, you need to have the initial $5,000 to have the panels installed. Those same panels are probably double the cost now. Had our nation thought about forcing [or recommending] that home builders install these panels into new homes during the housing boom, the nation could have radically lowered the cost of energy on many of these homes with little or no noticeable cost to the homeowner. I mean, what's $8k to $10k when you are buying a $500k house? If there were more tax incentives, the end result may have cost $0 to install, depending on how the language of the incentive was written. The flood of solar panels installed on thousands of new homes would have created thousands of jobs and lowered the price of the panels, long-term. This would have been a heck of lot more responsible and equitable then giving oil companies tax breaks. With Democrats in Congress trying to rescind those tax breaks, the oil companies will just pass that on to us. Heaven forbid they give back any of the $43 billion they basically stole from us.
If we go back into the past, we can see that some have suggested changes to the nation's energy policy. In his 1976 presidential campaign, Oklahoma Sen. Fred Harris suggested completely nationalizing the energy system in order to lower prices for consumers. This may have been a bit far-fetched and way too populist for the American people at the time since Harris placed fourth in the Iowa Caucuses that year and dropped out after not winning in Wisconsin, his firewall state. After being elected president, Jimmy Carter suggested that Americans turn down the heat, wear sweaters, and drive less, after gasoline shot up from 35 cents a gallon to 60 cents. The kings of the Middle East, where a good chunk of the oil is, began living high off the hog, encouraging random acts of terrorism with their wealth, while many of America's powerful elite served them as masters.
It's time for some sweeping changes. We are beyond conservation. Many of us are already doing that or will be soon due to the very high costs of energy. The answer is clear: We need regulation. And if the Democrats are not going to offer the sweeping changes the people of the country need, the people will have no other choice but to look elsewhere. Our lives depend on it. It really is that simple.
Many of my conservative friends will say that my complaints are just a part of living in America in this day and age. Any solutions that regulate a free market business, they will suggest, smacks of Socialism and is against everything the nation has always stood for. But I will respectfully disagree. When working families and seniors have to choose between food, gasoline, and home heating oil, there is a problem. When even after cutting back to save money, you're still not breaking even, there is a problem. I, thankfully, don't have it that bad. But others do. It is time for some real changes.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

What is a bigger issue: Rev. Wright or welfare for Wall Street?

I'm following up on my comments earlier today with this video. I think it speaks for itself, right?:

While the Fed and Wall Street pillage our future ...

and Bear Stearns brokers get stipends dangled in front of them to move to other jobs within the financial world: ["Bear Stearns Brokers Get $2 million Offers to Move"] federal prosecutors are worried about perjury over friggin' steroid use: ["Prosecutors to seek new Barry Bonds indictment"].

Some in the financial world seem to be telling us the truth about the Bear Stearns bailout, note these remarks by Jim Rogers of Rogers Holdings:
You know the reason they did it this way was because, if Bear Stearns had to declare bankruptcy, you'd realize that Bear Stearns paid out billions of dollars in bonuses in January - six weeks ago. If he let them go into bankruptcy, they all would have had to send back their bonuses.

This is what they're doing, they're doing it so they don't have to give back their bonuses. That's why they didn't put them into bankruptcy. Jamie Dimon has gotten a great deal because the Federal Reserve is paying for it. The Federal Reserve is using taxpayer money to buy a bunch of Bear Stearns traders' Mazeratis.

Emphasis added by Bloomberg. He makes some other comments about banks failing throughout modern history. Here is the link: ["Jim Rogers on the Bear Stearns Bailout"].

While Cheney scoffs at the opinions of Americans, on the anniversary of his trillion dollar invasion debacle: ["Cheney On Two-Thirds Of American Public Opposing The Iraq War: 'So?'"] a former detainee says American interrogators threatened him with rape: ["Canadian says U.S. interrogators threatened rape"].

And, while all this was going on, here is what was on talk radio yesterday in New England:

Col. David Hunt in for Howie Carr on WRKO 680 AM in Boston: The Rev. Wright issue.
Sean Hannity via satellite on WGIR 610 AM in Manch: The Rev. Wright issue.
Jay Severin on WTKK 96.9 FM in Boston: The Rev Wright issue.

A bunch of blabbermouths talking about some true comments and other crazy comments by Barack Obama's reverend. What has that got to do with anything?

If you don't think we need the Fairness Doctrine reimplemented for radio and television broadcasters in the United States, you don't understand the concept of brainwashing and manipulation.
If you are waiting for the Democrats to get some stones to deal with some of these issues, you may be waiting a long time.
If you are not outraged, you are not paying attention. And it is clear that a lot of folks are not paying attention.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wall Street on welfare ...

Oh this is so true: ["The Street on Welfare"].
I'm waiting [aren't we all] for the Democrats to get enough stones [any stones] to start regulating the economy again and rescinding some of the bad legislation in the last two decades. Enough of the band-aids. Our nation and economy need major surgery, now.
Despite what the theorists say, regulation is a good thing for long-term economic growth and stabilization. Controlling and guiding the economy is the best thing for the economy and it is the best thing for regular folks. Making everything based on an absolute free market, without any legislative controls, fraud investigation, or policing, is a recipe for corruption and disaster, as we are seeing now. Nothing in the world works on a 20 percent return every quarter. I just doesn't. Their Wall Street goes against everything we know to be true and now we are expected to spend [or print] our money to bail them out?
If the Fed can basically print $200 billion for Wall Street, they can print $200 billion for Main Street. If the Fed can bail out Bear Stearns, the Congress can rescind the Bankruptcy Bill on regular folks [or at the very least, loosen some of the problems with the bill]. Where are the f*cking Democrats? They run the show now and they aren't doing anything but borrowing money against the future for some phony stimulus package. Why are our troops still in Iraq?
Another thing: how come we don't hear any serious questions about the economy on TV, radio, in the newspaper? Why is it only on the Internet that we can read normal folks talking about different ideas to fix the economy? How come someone like Phil Hyde who created the Timesizing economic model doesn't have think tank funds or a college professorship to experiment with economic models? How come Roy Morrison's carbon tax idea isn't debated in the halls of Congress right now? I'm waiting for Tim Russert, anyone, to start asking the hard questions. No, we get, Mr. Kucinich, is it true you saw a UFO? At the same time, more young people believe they will see a UFO before they will see their Social Security benefits! Come on already.
Or, instead of changing laws and bailing everyone out, we can do the opposite: We can let the capitalists live with themselves and let everything crash and we will all pick up the pieces later. Sure, there will be a lot of pain but there is going to be a lot of pain anyway. Look at what is going on. If you don't think there is going to be pain, you aren't paying attention. The key is this: Will the pain by shared? Will the guilded class have to give up their $25,000 desserts now that the rest of us have given up ice cream to make ends meet? Or, is the pain only going to be felt by the ordinary folks?
The great thing about starting over is that you can start over. Call it the great do-over. We can all go back to the Bailey Building & Loan again where everything we do in our communities was interconnected. We can put checks on everything to make sure that the bad guys are kept at bay. We can have a one-strike and you're out for all employees connected to the financial sector. You screw up and hide things, you shovel pig sh*t somewhere and instead, we'll let the ditch diggers run everything because they know how to get the job done. We can learn to sacrifice a bit more like many folks are already doing now, instead of immediately turning to the government for whatever [I'll write a bit more about this later this week, since it has been on my mind lately]. Instead of screaming about the school system because we know the future sucks because of what these people did to the economy, trade, and jobs, we can spend more time with our kids so that they know and learn the values we hold dear.
As an example, I heard recently from an older woman I know who was talking about some of the younger women she knows with kids in school. She said she asked a few of the women what they were doing for volunteer work in the school system, like she did when she was their age. They all said they didn't have time for it. They will donate money for fundraisers, but to a person, they expected the system to fend for itself. They were too busy to donate their time. Now, frankly, he kids probably appreciate their parents not hovering over the school. But the older woman was shocked by what she was hearing. While these women were yelling and screaming about the school system, they wouldn't give their time to make it better. Essentially, they are expecting government to make it easier for them to have the lifestyle they want. It was interesting to hear the perspective of a 60-plus mom, being a 40-plus man and not knowing what it is like to be a 60-plus mom, and the shock she had for others who didn't seem to care enough to make the time.
As we all know, time is more cherished than money or products or vacations or anything else. If you have not learned this, you will. Some have no other choice or do what they can, and that is fine. But trust me when I say that time makes a difference; money just buys things.
And lastly, speaking of sacrifice, I'm still wondering where the national movement is to get behind our troops and learn to live with a little less, like Americans were asked to do during WW II.
I posted some posters of the time period here:
and here:
Those people who don't know their history ... or, whatever.
"Rationing means fair share for us all." Fair share? For us all? What commie wrote that? It was the U.S. government! Or, right, we were fighting the Nazis at the time. But the theory still remains, doesn't it? If Al Qaida is that bad, rationing means fair share for us all. No, here's a check, go by a flat panel. Wow.
"Help stop fuel waste." But no, I can't do that, I need a Hummer! I can't give up my Escalade because my dog likes the color [Yeah, that is an actual paraphrased comment from a person I know who heard their boss say that]. Don't ration. Don't save. Spend. If you ration, save, and sacrifice, the enemy wins!
"Should brave men die so you can drive...?" This is a killer, no pun intended. Where is the sacrifice by the rest of us? Where is the sacrifice by Halliburton for our brave men and women? No, they charge astronomical amounts for food and guard the Twinkie truck with mercenaries. Wow. As Ralph Nader has said, if Iraq's biggest export was carrots, we wouldn't be there.

How frustrated are some Democrats? They are considering voting for Nader again!: ["Independent candidate Ralph Nader wins 5%, taking more support from Democrats"]. Nader gets 6 percent with Clinton as the nominee.
Of course, this is a simple argument because Zogby does not allow readers to have all the data. While the press release states that Nader would take support from Dems, it doesn't say how much. They also don't say how many Dems McCain gets, which is another part of the problem for Democrats, a much bigger problem than Nader. Clinton earns the votes of 75 percent of the Dems while McCain wins 79 percent of Republicans. That is as close as we get to the breakdown.
While they don't mention specifics, what is interesting is that Nader's support is broad: 15 percent of indies say they will support him. 12 percent are under the age of 30 [Those idealistic fools, hah ...]. 12 percent deem themselves libertarian while 6 percent of liberals and conservatives support him. 15 percent of progressives support Nader.
In the end, national polling like this doesn't mean anything at all, since the Electoral College elects the president. But if individual state polls start showing Nader movement like this, there could be a problem for the Dems. And this doesn't even figure in Cynthia McKinney who has all but secured the Green Party nomination and will be on many state ballots too. As much as I respect and admire Nader, I think she will be a bigger factor this year.

Obama-Nelson '08?

Guest Perspective/Rich Rubino

If Barack Obama is awarded the Democratic presidential nomination, his first major decision will be the selection of a vice presidential running mate. While some may advise Obama to seek Hillary Clinton for that post, Obama may want to consider a broader array of strategic options. He should focus his attention on how he can leverage his quest for the White House by choosing a running mate who can add something of significance to the ticket. In short, his choice of a vice-presidential running mate should be geared solely toward achieving the very best competitive positioning possible.

Sen. Obama will have a litany of names to consider for his running mate. These will include the more conventional choices like Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Wesley Clark, to a few dark horses such as N.C. Gov. Mike Easley and Tenn. Gov. Phil Bredesen. You may even hear some unconventional choices like the former Commander in Chief of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) Anthony Zinni, or Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel, both vociferous critics of the Iraq war.

As history dictates, the most important asset for a potential running mate is that he or she not become an issue in the campaign. For example, in 1968, when the Republican nominee Richard Nixon chose the little known Governor of Maryland, Spiro Agnew, the reaction from political observers was: “Spiro Who?” Agnew then showed his inexperience when he uttered the following comment about inner cities, “If you've seen one slum, you've seen them all.'' The campaign of Nixon’s opponent, then Vice President Hubert Humphrey, exploited Agnew’s lack of experience and credibility, running an advertisement on television with a banner reading “Agnew for Vice President” with laughter in the background. The ad ending with the punch-line: “This would be funny if it weren’t so serious.”

Beyond not impairing a campaign, the most important attribute for a vice presidential nominee is that he/she be viewed by the electorate as a credible person with requisite experience should he/she be forced to assume the Office of President at a moments notice. Beyond that, it helps that the nominee hails from an electorally critical region or state. Recent history however reveals this to be less of a factor. Perhaps the last Vice-Presidential contestant to have carried his state for the ticket was then Texas Senator Lyndon Johnson. The Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy carried the lone star state by less than 50,000 votes.

In many respects, Johnson was the ideal nominee in that he served the ticket in a micro sense by bringing to the ticket his enormous popularity in his home state of Texas. He garnered 85% of the vote in his re-election bid in 1954. In addition, he helped the ticket in the macro sense as well. Johnson, the Senate Majority leader, brought 24 years of Congressional service, including almost six years as the Senate Majority Leader. While many questioned Kennedy’s youth and lack of government experience, having a seasoned government official in Johnson on the ticket helped to inoculate him from that criticism. Moreover, Johnson was a rare moderate in a polarized Democratic Party Senate Caucus. With the likes of liberals such as Minnesota Senator Hubert Humphrey on one end and Southern Conservatives such as Mississippi Sen. James Eastland on the other end, Johnson was palatable to both factions of the party.

Sen. Obama faces a similar predicament to then Mass. Sen. Kennedy. Obama is actually more of a political neophyte than Kennedy, having just been elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004 (following eight years in the Illinois State Senate). Given this dearth of experience, I would suggest that the best candidate for Obama to choose as his running mate is Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida. Like Johnson, Sen. Nelson can serve a micro purpose in that he represents arguably the most important state in the electoral union, Florida, a political combat zone. No Republican has won the Presidency without carrying the Sunshine state since 1924, when the solid south was solidly Democratic. It is hard to envisage a scenario in which a Republican wins the presidency without garnering Florida’s critical 27 electoral votes. As the aftermath of the 2000 presidential election instructs us, Florida is “ground zero” in modern presidential politics.

Nelson has shown his electoral bona fides in Florida, having been re-elected in 2006 with 60 percent of the vote. In addition, from 1979 to 1991, Mr. Nelson won five terms in the U.S. House of Representatives from a Congressional district which includes Brevard County, not known as a citadel of liberalism. In fact, Brevard County gave 57 percent of its votes to President Bush in the 2004 general election while awarding their favorite son, Senator Nelson, with 59 percent of the vote in 2006. While a vice-presidential candidate rarely carries a state for a ticket, in a state as important and closely divided as Florida, this could be the exception. One must wonder, had Al Gore chosen Florida’s then popular Sen. Bob Graham as his running-mate in 2000, if the American people would have gotten acquainted with hanging Chads, pregnant Chads, or bulging Chads.

Furthermore, Nelson’s presence on the ticket would be a major asset to the Obama candidacy at the macro level. Nelson’s experience would complement Obama’s charisma. Nelson brings gravitas to the ticket in the critical area of national security. He is a member of both the Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees. Moreover, the national press and the American people would be intrigued and fascinated when they learn that Senator Nelson, while a member of the House of Representatives, served aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia as a Pay Load Specialist, orbiting the earth for six days.

From a strategic standpoint, the choice of Sen. Nelson would likely put Sen. McCain on the defensive. Knowing how pivotal Florida is to his electoral chances, the Arizonan might be forced to choose a running-mate from this battleground state simply to neutralize Nelson’s presence in the race.

Should Sen. McCain be channeled into looking to Florida for a running-mate, he would find only two viable candidates: current Florida Gov. Charles Christ and his predecessor Jeb Bush. Sen. Mel Martinez might also be a good choice but he is not constitutionally eligible because he was not born a U.S. citizen.

Charles Christ is immensely popular in Florida, sporting approval ratings exceeding 70 percent. He has shown that his electoral prowess can expand beyond his own election in that his endorsement of Sen. McCain in the recent Florida Republican Primary is widely credited in playing a significant part in the Senator’s victory there. Indeed, Christ’s presence on the ticket would somewhat neutralize that of Nelson’s. On the downside, Christ has a thin political resume, at least on a national level.

Nationally, the choice of Christ by McCain would be seen largely as an act of pure political expediency. Sen. McCain would be seen as choosing a running mate more for electoral reasons than for who is best for the job. While most would concede that Christ has been a successful Governor in his short tenure (elected in 2006), the McCain campaign would have a difficult time making the case that Christ has the requisite qualifications to be a heartbeat away from the Presidency. In addition to lacking foreign policy experience, the highest political height Christ reached prior to becoming Governor was Attorney General of Florida.

Furthermore, adding Christ to the ticket would likely inflame the Conservative inteligencia who are luke-warm toward Sen. McCain’s candidacy already. As a governor, Christ has not governed as an ideologue but as a problem-solver working across party lines. Some of his positions will not sit well with the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and Sean Hannity. For example, Gov. Christ said in a December press conference that he is a “live and let live kind of a guy,” and although he supports a proposed Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage (slated to be voted on by the electorate this November), Christ insists: “It’s not an issue that moves me.”

In addition, many conservatives are furious that, as Attorney General, Christ chose not to intervene in the Terry Schiavo situation. Christ has also left the conservative reservation on climate change, and has establishing ambitious targets for reducing Florida's greenhouse-gas emissions by 10 percent by 2012. Additionally, Christ advocates stricter vehicle-emissions regulations.

The only other realistic option for McCain within Florida would be to pick Jeb Bush who served as the state’s chief executive for the eight years prior to Gov. Christ’s term. Bush left office with a job approval rating exceeding 60 percent. Accordingly, the choice of Jeb Bush would do much to neutralize Obama’s choice of Nelson in the Sunshine state. Unfortunately for Jeb, however, his last name happens to be “Bush.” His brother George W. Bush is presently suffering from anemic approval ratings in the low 30’s. Bush fatigue would likely hinder Jeb Bush. Besides, the choice of a Bush would be hard for McCain to explain. In addition, Florida Democrats, still enraged by the role the former Florida Governor played in the 2000 election, would likely be galvanized to work hard to defeat McCain.

Finally, there is a real similitude between Kennedy’s pick of Johnson and Obama’s potential choice of Sen. Nelson. Like LBJ, Nelson has positioned himself in the center of the Democratic Party, and the choice of Nelson would likely be palatable to moderates, while at the same time not alienating the liberal constituency that has come to see Obama as their champion. For example, while Nelson voted for the authorization of funding for the use of military force against Iraq in 2002, he has since become a critic of solving the conflict with military might, having voted against President Bush’s troop surge plan while favoring instead a phased redeployment of U.S. troops. Nelson favors a political solution dividing the country in a tri-partite solution, Kurds in the north, Sunnis in the center, and Shiites in the south.

Bill Nelson is pro-choice, yet favors notifying parents of minors who seek out-of-state abortions. Nelson voted for the confirmation of President Bush’s choice for Chief Justice John Roberts, yet voted against his choice of Samuel Alito. He supports a path to citizenship for undocumented workers, while at the same time voting to construct a fence along the Mexican border and establishing English as America’s official language. Nelson would be a consensus choice, palatable as a Vice President and potential air-apparent to Obama to both liberals and conservatives within the Democratic Party. In addition, Nelson is a proven vote-getter in Florida, which has become a very important swing state that can change the course of a national election. Nelson also has foreign policy gravitas.

And last but not least is the fact that every winning presidential Democratic ticket since 1944 has had at least one southerner. An Obama-Nelson ticket would be a formidable strategic force. Let the games begin!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Quote of the day

From the Obama speech today:
"Just as black anger [is] often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze – a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns – this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding."
Wow, shocking.

Why I dislike the diversity crowd, reason number I don't know ...

As regular readers to this blog know, I have a very low threshold of tolerance for the diversity crowd right now. After years of being bombarded by their political correctness and their manipulation of reality in order make everyone feel good, I have come to realize that this is all a waste of time and a lost cause. Instead, if everyone would just treat people with respect and dignity, as best they can, we wouldn't need all this.
To be honest, I totally understand where they are coming from. I agree with their concerns that we are not just a white or male society and we have to acknowledge others for their contribution to history and future contributions. I just don't believe in the way they have gone about it, especially in limiting the speech of others who don't agree with them.
The point though of this rant is the upcoming Conference for National Media Reform scheduled for June. Personally, I agree with a lot of what these folks are talking about. Not all of it, but a lot. We'll agree to disagree on the loosening of newspaper ownership rules by companies that own radio and television stations. We'll also agree to disagree that, instead, they should be organizing to get the Congress to deregulate the radio and television industry, instead of getting bogged down in minutiae.
So I went to check out the site this morning. On the masthead, there are flashing pictures of some of the folks who are a part of this movement. I thought, Oh, that's cool. Real people. The real faces of America fighting for media reform. But as I turned to another part of the homepage and saw the repeat of faces, I began to notice something. Let's see if you notice it too:

Barbara, Librarian, middle-aged white woman
Natalia, Newspaper editor, late-30s white woman
Alice, Intern, young Asian woman
Kathy, Concerned Citizen, middle-aged white woman
Mari, professional, young Latina-looking woman
Anand, Musician, mid-30s Arab-looking male
Michael, Producer, late-30s/mid-40s black man
Chip, Student, young black man with dreads

I stopped and watched it run through again to see if I had seen what I saw. I then refreshed the page, thinking it might reload a new round of faces, which it did not.
Essentially, the, the sponsor of this conference is sending us the following messages. First, that there are no white men who are supporting this cause or interested in this conference. Second, that we are not worthy of a spot on their roster because we are not a reflection of America. Third, that our views about media are not important. Fourth, they may even be telling us that somehow, those of us who are white males and can't get access to media ownership to either promote a different point of view or expand localism, are somehow not worthy of showing representation to the cause.
Wow. So much for the big tent. So much for respect for diversity. So much for building coalitions with others [you can continue to put your favorite diversity crowd mantra here].
Similar to being angry about commercials and programs produced by Madison Avenue and Hollywood which portray fathers as idiots and nothing but the family wallet or that men don't know how to wash dishes or operate a washing machine, this stuff is infuriating. We all have to fight it.
With all due respect to the, white males are one of the highest population segments in the United States and we give a damn about these issues. White men have been fighting along side all the repressed segments for gender and race equality and access to fair media coverage for a long, long time. To basically treat us like second class citizens or to somehow insinuate that we don't matter in the media reform movement is outrageous and offensive.
In fact, this is all kind of personal for me. I, and other white males, have been involved in the media reform movement for a very long time. I was so critical of the media I became the media! I can trace back my roots to the early 1990s when I first started doing community radio and became something of an on-the-air media critic. And I'm not alone. In Boston, look at John Grebe at WZBC and Chuck U over at WMFO, formerly of WMBR, guys who have been at this longer than I have. But, for whatever reason, we didn't warrant inclusion in the faces. We're white. We're male. Our contributions don't seem to matter to them.
In closing, I will say if the whole point of not including white male faces in the collection of people involved in the media reform movement was to make a point, it has been recognized. But a question to those folks making the point: When are we, as the white men of America, granted forgiveness for the sins of our fathers? Please, let us know so we can all move forward from all of this divisiveness and polarization based on gender and race instead of respecting what is in the hearts and minds of all Americans and respecting everyone for differing opinions and thoughts which may not agree with yours ... you know, true diversity and all.
To paraphrase MLK, I have a dream that we will one day live in a nation where everyone will not be judged by the color of their skin or their gender, but by the content of their character.

This is sad

As I have stated before, I don't write a lot about local politics here. I did, however, post a note last year about this 23-year-old woman and bartender in Manch who ran and surprisingly won a seat on the school board. I think it is cool that young people get involved in politics and I was impressed as everyone that she won.
Well, it has all been downhill from there.
I have not written about her problems - an arrest for unpaid loans, not showing up to meetings, and now, residency and voter registration problems - but now, it has all led to her resignation: ["Peabody resigns her post"].
Frankly, she did the right thing, especially if she no longer lives in the Ward or does not want to talk about her living situation. Which, at this point, could be just about anything. However, long-term, young people can look to this situation with wide open eyes to understand just how important it is to, for lack of a better term, have your sh*t together.
I don't have a problem with her working in a bar or going to night school or any of the choices she made in the past which she says led her to decide to run for the post. We all make bad choices. But outstanding loans which are so bad off that you get arrested for them, as well as not living in the Ward, are just no-nos for public officials. Sure, politicians have done a lot worse while in office and before gaining office [the Juanita Broadderick rape allegations against Bill Clinton are the most glaring example]. But the last thing you want as a young politician is to come across as a flake. It could ruin you. And, if you have enough gumption to run for school board at 23, then we need more and more types of young people like you so we can get a different perspective in some of these political offices.
Look at the world we are in right now. Look at what the older generations have done to our nation. Young people have a responsibility to take on these problems and fix them just as the previous generations attempted to do [with many successes and failures]. It is our future but it is also yours. Seize it - but be prepared and capable of seizing it beforehand.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Country of Laws

Guest Perspective/Ralph Nader

The Governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer, has resigned for being a longtime customer of a high-priced prostitution ring.

The President of the United States, George W. Bush, remains, disgracing his office for longtime repeated violations of the Constitution, federal laws and international treaties to which the U.S. is a solemn signatory.

In his forthright resignation statement, Eliot Spitzer—the prominent corporate crime buster—asserted that “Over the course of my public life, I have insisted, I believe correctly, that people, regardless of their position or power, take responsibility for their conduct. I can and will ask no less of myself.”

In a recent speech to a partisan Republican fund-raising audience, George W. Bush fictionalized his Iraq war exploits and other related actions, and said that next January he will leave office “with his head held high.”

Eliot Spitzer violated certain laws regarding prostitution and transferring of money through banks—though the latter was disputed by some legal experts—and for such moral turpitude emotionally harmed himself, his family and his friends.

George W. Bush violated federal laws against torture, against spying on Americans without judicial approval, against due process of law and habeas corpus in arresting Americans without charges, imprisoning them and limited their access to attorneys. He committed a massive war of aggression, under false preteneses, violating again and again treaties such as the Geneva Conventions, the UN Charter, federal statutes and the Constitution.

This war and its associated actions have cost the lives of one million Iraqis, over 4000 Americans, caused hundreds of thousands of serious injuries and diseases related to the destruction of Iraq’s public health facilities. As the popular button puts it, "He Lied, They Died".

From the moment the news emerged about Spitzer’s sexual frolics the calls came for his immediate resignation. They came from the pundits and editorialists; they came from Republicans and they started coming from his fellow Democrats in the Assembly.

Speaker Sheldon Silver told Spitzer that many Democrats in the Assembly would abandon him in any impeachment vote.

George W. Bush is a recidivist war criminal and chronic violator of so many laws that the Center for Constitutional Rights has clustered them into five major impeachable “High Crimes and Misdemeanors” (under Article II, section .4)

Scores of leaders of the bar, including Michael Greco, former president of the American Bar Association, and legal scholars and former Congressional lawmakers have decried his laceration of the rule of law and his frequent declarations that signify that he believes he is above the law.

Many retired high military officers, diplomats and security officials have openly opposed his costly militaristic disasters.

Only Cong. Dennis Kucinich (Dem. Ohio) has publicly called for his impeachment.

No other member of Congress has moved toward his impeachment. To the contrary, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Dem. Calif.), Rep. Steny Hoyer (Dem. MD) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman, John Conyers (dem. Mich.) publicly took “impeachment off the table” in 2006.

When Senator Russ Feingold (Dem. Wisc.) introduced a Resolution to merely censure George W. Bush for his clear, repeated violations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act—a felony—his fellow Democrats looked the other way and ignored him.

Eliot Spitzer came under the rule of law and paid the price with his governorship and perhaps may face criminal charges.

George W. Bush is effectively immune from federal criminal and civil laws because no American has standing to sue him and the Attorney General, who does, is his handpicked cabinet member.

Moreover, the courts have consistently refused to take cases involving the conduct of foreign and military policy by the president and the Vice President regardless of the seriousness of the violation. The courts pronounce such disputes as “political” and say they have to be worked out by the Congress—ie. mainly the impeachment authority.

Meanwhile, the American people have no authority to challenge these governmental crimes, which are committed in their name, and are rendered defenseless except for elections, which the two Party duopoly has rigged, commercialized, and trivialized. Even in this electoral arena, a collective vote of ouster of the incumbents does not bring public officials to justice, just to another position usually in the high paying corporate world.

So, on January 21, 2009, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney will be fugitives from justice without any Sheriffs, prosecutors or courts willing to uphold the rule of law.

What are the lessons from the differential treatment of a public official who consorts with prostitutes, without affecting his public policies, and a President who behaves like King George III did in 1776 and commits the exact kinds of multiple violations that Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and other founders of our Republic envisioned for invoking the impeachment provision of their carefully crafted checks and balances in the Constitution?

Well let’s see.

First, Bush and Cheney are advised not to travel to Brattleboro or Marlboro Vermont, two New England towns whose voters, in their frustrated outrage, passed non-binding articles instructing town officials to arrest them inside their jurisdictions.

Second, George W. Bush better not go to some men’s room at an airport and tap the shoe of the fellow in the next stall. While one lame-duck Senator barely survived that charge, for the President it would mean a massive public demand for his resignation.

We certainly can do better as a country of laws, not men.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Hello again

Hello Politizine, howyadoin'? Long time no talk. Yeah, well, I have been pretty busy both professionally and with the family. Priorities, ya know?
I do not normally talk about my professional life out here except in generalities but this week was a bit busy. We had what is called a "TMC Week," which in the newspaper biz means "total market coverage." That is when you send the newspaper to every household to show them what they are missing in an effort to get folks to subscribe. For about two weeks, one of prep, one of actually putting it together, I was killing myself to make it a perfect newspaper, chock full of stuff, tons of pictures, every page as perfect as it could be, like I do every week but only this week it needed to be super special.
As it turned out, 97 percent of the newspaper looks fantastic. Big, bold pictures, great stories, tons of information. But, there were a few things I did not like which hit me like a 2 x 4 after the fact. How did I miss that? Well, you missed it because you wrote four stories and performed an interview for a fifth which was not finished and you did too much work, that's why. I even had to hold one of the stories I had been working on - this huge historical capital projects overview that never came together how I wanted it to. Initially, it was too long - about 4,700 words. I then spliced it down to 2,700 words with an 800 word sidebar and it seemed to miss the whole mission. But, it was good enough. Then, I asked for a big newspaper and got one and there was no room for the history story because I had so much other stuff to put in! Rats!! So, it got held, after I spent weeks working on it. Oh well. I will keep working on it and get it finished for next week I guess.
The moral of the story though is that even if you have a huge deadline approaching, you cannot do everything. Don't kill yourself doing extra work when you have a larger goal to get to. What I should have done was blocked out the entire week and just focused on the newspaper, maybe doing one story. Ah well, everything is a learning process.

Moving on.
Is Jesse Ventura going to run for president? No one knows but he floats the idea in his new book: ["Ventura: Will he or won't he?"]. As I have said previously, I think a Nader/Ventura vice-versa ticket would have been a powerful one. And, as I have also said before, it is too late right now to get in. Even Nader probably waited too long. There are so many state ballots to get on Ventura would need millions of dollars and an army of folks to gather signatures. I do, however, like the aspect of announcing during Wrestlemania. That's funny! And, if all those folks who turn out for matches signed petitions or even collected them, maybe he would get on the ballot in all 50 states. Hmm ... I may have to think about that one a bit more.

Here in New Hampshire, a legislative committee has been analyzing the issue of RFID tags on merchandise in stores: ["Lawmakers Debate Use of RFID Technology"]. This issue came up in the 2005 and was forwarded by this conservative lawmaker, Rep. Howard "Crow" Dickinson, who was ousted in the 2006 Dem rout here.
I covered a couple of the hearings on the issue at that time and I was amazed at how the committee giggled at Dickinson, reps from the ACLU, and others about this issue. RFIDs and transponders are just about everywhere. But the issue is who has control over the implementation of RFIDs and transponders. Ultimately, the consumer should know where these things are and be able to say, No, I don't want that in my clothing, car, whatever. The legislative committee rejected this idea earlier this week.
So, there you have it, a legislative committee in the supposed Live Free or Die state rejects a major privacy measure. Bad precedence.

There has been a lot of talk lately about problems in the music industry. Not only is technology changing things, the sputtering economy is making the purchase of CDs and other entertainment options even more difficult. This doesn't get into the issue of the really bad music major labels and corporations have been throwing out there for decades. I have written about this subject extensively over the years. Some of us predicted their would be declining revenues with record companies even before we knew what an mp3 was.
Essentially, there was a boon and artificial bubble in the industry, when people started replacing all their records and cassettes with CDs. After everyone replaced what they wanted, they stop replacing them. When that happened, the artificial increase in sales evaporated. As well, for the most part, a lot of these sales were pure profit beyond payment to the artist and production of the CD itself. The Credence or CSNY music was already recorded and paid for. There was no huge overhead like there is with a newer artist recording a new record. So, the bump in music industry sales was a one-time uptick which slowly turned down after that.
Instead of realizing this, the music industry started blaming cassette taping and selling of promo CDs by radio geeks - CDs they sent to radio geeks, knowing full well that said geeks would sell the promos at a used record store and use the credit to buy something they really wanted. The industry then managed to put in a tax on blank tape and CDs that we pay to this day whether you are dubbing music or not. Ah, the power of lobbying.
Now, with the technology, it has gotten even worse and the industry's obsession with controlling something it never could has been dubbed the biggest mistake of all time: ["War against Web tops biggest music biz 'screw ups' list"].
Now, the RIAA is trying to siphon more money from radio stations and more control over artist revenue and more of everything as they try to figure out how to survive in this brave new world. Well record companies, welcome to the club.
The beauty of all this though is that with the advent of downloadable songs, the musician can take total control over their careers if they so choose to. Of course, they have to really want it. If they are dreaming of the big payout from the major label, it ain't going to happen any time soon. Those days are gone. But, if you believe in your music and are willing to market yourself and put everything into it, you can succeed. Tons of people are marketing themselves and making money on iTunes and eMusic and have total creative control over what they are doing. This change is so empowering for the artist especially in light of the fact that before, the artist was always at the mercy of some A&R rep. getting them on the label. Now, you are the label and you reap whatever rewards you can muster. It is a beautiful thing.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Where does the time go?

Just a quick note for some of my regular and irregular readers. Due to Mother Nature's rainstorms last week, as well as family and work stuff, I have been completely preoccupied and unable to post anything. There is a lot of stuff to write about but I just don't have the time right now [Boy, doesn't that statement say a lot? Tony doesn't have the time to "write" ... hah!]. Seriously though, I'll be back with more stuff on Wednesday. That is, unless the world blows up, Hillary Clinton concedes the presidential race, or something major happens and I find a quick minute ...

Friday, March 7, 2008

Gaza Under Siege

Guest Perspective/Ralph Nader

The world’s largest prison—Gaza prison with 1.5 million inmates, many of them starving, sick and penniless—is receiving more sympathy and protest by Israeli citizens, of widely impressive backgrounds, than is reported in the U.S. press.

In contrast, the humanitarian crisis brought about by Israeli government blockades that prevent food, medicine, fuel and other necessities from coming into this tiny enclave through international relief organizations is received with predictable silence or callousness by members of Congress, including John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

The contrast invites more public attention and discussion.

Israel has militarily occupied Gaza for forty years. It pulled out its colonials in 2005 but maintained an iron grip on the area—controlling all access, including its airspace and territorial waters. Its F-16s and helicopter gunships regularly shred more and more of the areas’ public works, its neighborhoods and inflict collective punishment on civilians in violation of Article 55 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

As the International Red Cross declares, citing treaties establishing international humanitarian law, “Neither the civilian population as a whole nor individual civilians may be attacked.”

According to The Nation magazine, the great Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, reports that the primitive rockets from Gaza, have taken thirteen Israeli lives in the past four years, while Israeli forces have killed more than 1000 Palestinians in the occupied territories in the past two years alone. Almost half of them were civilians, including some 200 children.

The Israeli government is barring most of the trucks from entering Gaza to feed the nearly one million Palestinians depending on international relief, from groups such as the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). The loss of life from crumbling health care facilities, disastrous electricity cutoffs, gross malnutrition and contaminated drinking water from broken public water systems does not get totaled. These are the children and their civilian adult relatives who expire in a silent violence of suffering that 98 percent of Congress avoids mentioning while extending billions of taxpayer dollars to Israel annually.

UNRWA says “we are seeing evidence of the stunting of children, their growth is slowing…” Cancer patients are deprived of their chemotherapy, kidney patients are cut off from dialysis treatments and premature babies cannot receive blood-clotting medications, reports Professor Saree Makdisi in the February 2, 2008 issue of The Nation.

The misery, mortality and morbidity worsens day by day. Here is how the commissioner-general of UNRWA sums it up—“Gaza is on the threshold of becoming the first territory to be intentionally reduced to a state of abject destitution, with the knowledge, acquiescence and-some would say-encouragement of the international community.”

Amidst the swirl of hard-liners on both sides and in both Democratic and Republican parties, consider the latest poll (February 27, 2008) of Israelis in the highly respected newspaper—Haaretz: “Sixty-four percent of Israelis say the government must hold direct talks with the Hamas government in Gaza toward a cease-fire and the release of captive soldier Gilad Shalit. Less that one-third (28 percent) still opposes such talks. An increasing number of public figures, including senior officers in the Israeli Defense Forces’ reserves have expressed similar positions on talks with Hamas.”

Hamas, which was created with the support of Israel and the U.S. government years ago to counter the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), has repeatedly offered cease-fire proposals.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

There, somebody finally said it

Taegan Goddard actually did: ["Clinton's Path to Victory is Through the Smoke-Filled Room"].

Howard Fineman has a bit here:

Both Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich won their primaries yesterday meaning their dreams of the presidency did not keep them from their day jobs.

CBS News has the delegates this way:

Obama 1,512
Clinton 1,423
Edwards 26

Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Texas results

I'm amazed that thousands of people are still voting for John Edwards even though he dropped out a month ago.

State-by-State Votes
03/04/08 Presidential Primary / Caucus
March 05, 2008 - 07:13AM ET(i) = incumbent
= winner
= runoff

President - Dem Primary
11194 of 11238 Precincts Reporting - 99%

NamePartyVotesVote %
Clinton, HillaryDem1,203,92454%

Obama, BarackDem976,36844%

Edwards, JohnDem37,8822%
President - Delegate-at-Large - GOP Primary
11194 of 11238 Precincts Reporting - 99%

NamePartyVotesVote %
McCain, JohnGOP632,57560%

Huckabee, MikeGOP323,07431%

Paul, RonGOP48,7425%

Romney, MittGOP34,8103%

Thompson, FredGOP16,3422%
Rhode Island

President - Dem Primary
176 of 179 Precincts Reporting - 98%

NamePartyVotesVote %
Clinton, HillaryDem106,47158%

Obama, BarackDem73,60940%

Edwards, JohnDem1,1121%

President - GOP Primary
176 of 179 Precincts Reporting - 98%

NamePartyVotesVote %
McCain, JohnGOP17,34265%

Huckabee, MikeGOP5,76622%

Paul, RonGOP1,7617%

Romney, MittGOP1,1734%


Keyes, AlanGOP1140%

Cort, HughGOP240%

President - Dem Primary
8231 of 8247 Precincts Reporting - 99%

NamePartyVotesVote %
Clinton, HillaryDem1,452,77651%

Obama, BarackDem1,354,55347%

Edwards, JohnDem29,8041%

Richardson, BillDem10,6670%

Biden, JoeDem5,2960%

Dodd, ChrisDem3,7170%
President - Dem Caucus
2947 of 8247 Precincts Reporting - 36%

NamePartyVotesVote %

Obama, BarackDem20,20952%

Clinton, HillaryDem18,68948%


President - GOP Primary
7959 of 7959 Precincts Reporting - 100%

NamePartyVotesVote %
McCain, JohnGOP707,62251%

Huckabee, MikeGOP521,95138%

Paul, RonGOP69,8245%

Romney, MittGOP27,5792%


Thompson, FredGOP11,7861%

Keyes, AlanGOP8,5711%

Hunter, DuncanGOP8,2541%

Giuliani, RudyGOP6,1690%

Cort, HughGOP9180%

Tran, HoaGOP6230%

President - Dem Primary
224 of 260 Precincts Reporting - 86%

NamePartyVotesVote %
Obama, BarackDem82,49860%

Clinton, HillaryDem52,83938%

Edwards, JohnDem1,6961%

Kucinich, DennisDem9101%
President - GOP Primary
224 of 260 Precincts Reporting - 86%

NamePartyVotesVote %
McCain, JohnGOP25,07072%

Huckabee, MikeGOP4,86714%

Paul, RonGOP2,3327%

Romney, MittGOP1,5725%

Giuliani, RudyGOP8172%