Thursday, March 25, 2010

April 2010 Top 30 Chart

Reporting: 13 different radio stations and Internet programs

1. The Hush Now – Constellations
1. White Hinterland – Kairos
3. The Luxury – In The Wake Of What Won't Change
4. Ad Frank & the Fast Easy Women – Your Secrets Are Mine Now
5. Jenny Dee and the Deelinquents – Keeping Time
6. Pants Yell! – Received Pronunciation
7. Magic Magic – Magic Magic
8. Mission of Burma – The Sound The Speed The Light
9. Yes Giantess – “The Ruins”/”I’m Not Your Toy”
10. Cotton Candy – Top Notch & First Rate
11. Dinosaur Jr. – Farm
12. Mascara – Fountain of Tears
13. Symbion Project – Misery In Soliloquy
14. Township – Selections from Volume 1
15. Dead Cats Dead Rats – Dead Cats Dead Rats
16. Dear Leader – Stay Epic
17. Hallelujah the Hills – Colonial Drones
18. Michael Tarbox – My Primitive Joy
19. Social Circkle – City Shock
20. Sodafrog – Hang the Moon
21. Spirit Kid – Spirit Kid
22. Whistle Jacket – Compliment
23. The Peppermint Patties – One Night Band
24. Choo Choo La Rouge – I’ll Be Out All Night
25. Clem Snide – Hungry Bird
26. Aaron Perrino – The Covers EP
27. Joy Kills Sorrow – Darkness Sure Becomes This City
28. Bacchus King – Bacchus King
29. The Konks – “Nerves”
30. Three Day Threshold – Straight Out of the Barrel

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Questioning aid to Israel

Guest perspective by Ralph Nader
On July 10, 1996, at a Joint Session of the United States Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a standing ovation for these words: “With America’s help, Israel has grown to be a powerful, modern state. …But I believe there can be no greater tribute to America’s long-standing economic aid to Israel than for us to be able to say: we are going to achieve economic independence. We are going to do it. In the next four years, we will begin the long-term process of gradually reducing the level of your generous economic assistance to Israel.”

Since 1996, the American taxpayers are still sending Israel $3 billion a year and providing assorted loan guarantees, waivers, rich technology transfers and other indirect assistance. Before George W. Bush left office a memorandum of understanding between the U.S. and Israel stipulated an assistance package of $30 billion over the next ten years to be transferred in a lump sum at the beginning of every fiscal year. Israel’s wars and colonies still receive U.S. taxpayer monies.

What happened to Mr. Netanyahu’s solemn pledge to the Congress? The short answer is that Congress never called in the pledge.

In the intervening years, Israel has become an economic, technological and military juggernaut. Its GDP is larger than Egypt’s even though Israel’s population is less than one tenth that of the Arab world’s most populous nation. The second largest number of listings on America’s NASDAQ Exchange after U.S. companies are from Israel, exceeding listings of Japan, Korea, China and India combined. Its venture capital investments exceed those in the U.S., Europe and China on a per capita basis.

Israel is arguably the fifth most powerful military force in the world, and Israel’s claims on the U.S.’s latest weapon systems and research/development breakthroughs are unsurpassed. This combination has helped to make Israel a major arms exporter.

The Israeli “economic miracle” and technological innovations have spawned articles and a best-selling book in recent months. The country’s average GDP growth rate has exceeded the average rate of most western countries over the past five years. Israel provides universal health insurance, unlike the situation in the U.S., which raises the question of who should be aiding whom?

Keep in mind, the U.S. economy is mired in a recession, with large rates of growing poverty, unemployment, consumer debt and state and federal deficits. In some states, public schools are shutting, public health services are being slashed, and universities are increasing tuition while also cutting programs. Even state government buildings are being sold off.

Under U.S. law, military sales to Israel cannot be used for offensive purposes, only for “legitimate self-defense.” Nonetheless, there have been numerous violations of the Arms Export Control Act by Israel. Even the indifferent State Department has found, from time to time, that munitions such as cluster bombs were “likely violations.”

Violations would lead to a cut-off in aid but with the completely pro-Israel climate in Washington, the White House has never allowed such findings to be definitive.

The same indifference applies to violations of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act that prohibits aid to countries engaging in consistent international human rights violations. These include the occupation, colonization, blockades and military assaults on civilians in the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza, regularly documented by the highly regarded Israeli human rights group B’Tselem as well as by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

This week, Prime Minister Netanyahu visits President Barack Obama after the recent Israeli announcement of 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem made while Vice President Joe Biden was visiting that country.

The affront infuriated New York Times columnist, Tom Friedman, who wrote that Mr. Biden should have packed his bags and flown away leaving behind a scribbled note saying “You think you can embarrass your only true ally in the world, to satisfy some domestic political need, with no consequences? You have lost total contact with reality.”

Friedman, a former Times Middle East correspondent, concluded his rebuke by writing: “Palestinian leaders Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad are as genuine and serious about working toward a solution as any Israel can hope to find.”

But until a few days ago, the U.S. government had no levers over the Israeli government. Cutting off aid isn’t even whispered in the halls of Congress. Raising the issue would further galvanize Israel’s allies, including AIPAC.

The only lever left for the U.S. suddenly erupted into the public media a few days ago. General David Petraeus told the Senate that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has foreign policy and national security ramifications for the United States.

He said that “The conflict foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel. Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples in the Area of Responsibility…Meanwhile, Al-Qaeda and other military groups exploit that anger to mobilize support.”

A few days earlier, Vice President Joe Biden told Prime Minister Netanyahu in Israel that “what you’re doing here undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

What Obama’s people are publically starting to say is that regional peace is about U.S. vital interests in that large part of the Middle East and, ultimately, the safety of American soldiers and personnel.

As one retired diplomat commented “This could be a game-changer.”

Friday, March 19, 2010

Our country is decaying

Guest perspective by Ralph Nader
A society not alert to signs of its own decay, because its ideology is a continuing myth of progress, separates itself from reality and envelops illusion.

One yardstick by which to measure the decay in our country’s political, economic, and cultural life, is the answer to this question: Do the forces of power, which have demonstrably failed, become stronger after their widely perceived damage is common knowledge?

Economic decay is all around. Poverty, unemployment, foreclosures, job export, consumer debt, pension attrition, and crumbling infrastructure are well documented. The self-destruction of the Wall Street financial giants, with their looting and draining of trillions of other people’s money, have been headlines for two years. During and after their gigantic taxpayer bailouts from Washington, DC, the banks, et al, are still the most powerful force in determining the nature of proposed corrective legislation.

“The banks own this place,” says Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), evoking the opinion of many members of a supine Congress ready to pass weak consumer and investor protection legislation while leaving dominant fewer and larger banks.

Who hasn’t felt the ripoffs and one-sided fine print of the credit card industry? A reform bill finally has passed after years of delay, again weak and incomplete. Shameless over their gouges, the companies have their attorneys already at work to design around the law’s modest strictures.

The drug and health insurance industry, swarming with thousands of lobbyists, got pretty much what they wanted in the new health law. Insurers got millions of new customers subsidized by hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars with very little regulation. The drug companies got their dream—no reimportation of cheaper identical drugs, no authority for Uncle Sam to bargain for discount prices, and a very profitable extension of monopoly patent protection for biologic drugs against cheaper, generic drug competition.

For all their gouges, for all their exclusions, their denial of claims and restrictions of benefits, for all their horrendous price increases, the two industries have come out stronger than ever politically and economically. Small wonder their stocks are rising even in a recession.

The junk food processing industry—on the defensive lately due to some excellent documentaries and exposes—are still the most influential of powers on Capitol Hill when it becomes to delaying for years a decent food safety bill, using tax dollars to pump fat, sugar and salt into the stomachs of our children, and fighting adequate inspections. Over seven thousand lives are lost due to contaminated food yearly in the US and many millions of illnesses.

The oil, gas, coal and nuclear power companies are fleecing consumers and taxpayers, depleting and imperiling the environment, yet they continue to block rational energy legislation in Congress to replace carbon and uranium with energy efficiency technology and renewables.

Still, even now after years of cost over-runs and lack of permanent storage for radioactive wastes, the nuclear industry has President Obama, and George W. Bush before him, pushing for many tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer loan guarantees for new nukes. Wall Street won’t finance such a risky technology without you, the taxpayers, guaranteeing against any accident or default.

Both Democrats and Republicans are passing on these outrageous financial and safety risks to taxpayers.

Congress, which receives the brunt of this corporate lobbying—the carrot of money and the stick of financing incumbent challengers—is more of an obstacle to change than ever. In the past after major failures of industry and commerce, there was a higher likelihood of Congressional action. Recall, the Wall Street and banking collapse in the early 1930s. Congress and Franklin Delano Roosevelt produced legislation that saved the banks, peoples’ savings and regulated the stock markets.

From the time of my book, Unsafe at Any Speed’s publication in late November 1965, it took just nine months to federally regulate the powerful auto industry for safety and fuel efficiency.

Contrast the two-year delay after the Bear Stearns collapse and still no reform legislation, and what is pending is weak.

Yet the entrenched members of Congress, responsible for this astonishing gridlock, are almost impossible to dislodge even though polls have Congress at its lowest repute ever. It is a place where the majority is terrified of the corporations and the minority can block even the most anemic legislative efforts with archaic rules, especially in the Senate.

Culturally, the canaries in the coal mine are the children. Childhood has been commercialized by the giant marketers reaching them hour by hour with junk food, violent programming, video games and bad medicine. The result—record obesity, child diabetes and other ailments.

While the companies undermine parental authority, they laugh all the way to the bank, using our public airwaves, among other media, for their lucre. They can be called electronic child molesters.

We published a book in 1996 called Children First!: A Parent’s Guide to Fighting Corporate Predators in the Media. This book is an understatement of the problem compared to the worsening of child manipulation today.

In a 24/7 entertained society frenetic with sound bites, Blackberries, iPods, text messages and emails, there is a deep need for reflection and introspection. We have to discuss face to face in living rooms, school auditoriums, village squares and town meetings what is happening to us and our diminishing democratic processes by the pressures and controls of the insatiable corporate state.

And what needs to be done from the home to the public arenas and marketplaces with old and new superior models, new accountabilities and new thinking.

For our history has shown that whenever the people get more engaged and more serious, they live better on all fronts.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Insurance companies will benefit from Washington's plan

Not surprisingly, the Concord Monitor endorsed the Washington health care plan today saying that "everyone will gain from health reform ..." Well, technically, no, not everyone will gain from this bill because it really isn't "health reform" ... I, like many other people, want true health insurance reform and this bill is not that. I personally hope it gets killed and they start the process over again.

With all the pomp and circumstance about this bill, one things is for sure: Insurance companies are really going to benefit from this bill. Why? Because it truly doesn't contain any real cost controls, even with the minor tweaks, but it does force people to buy their for-profit insurance.

This quote from the Monitor editorial is the main problem everyone should worry about:
"By 2014, Americans will be required to buy insurance or pay a small fine if they decline unless they receive an exemption."
Any bill that forces people to buy private insurance if they don’t have it is simply unacceptable. This is corporate welfare for insurance companies. Essentially, the government is forcing people to subsidize the profits of Anthem BCBS, Harvard Pilgrim, or whatever company, whether the people can afford to or not. It’s just plain wrong. I’d rather live without insurance, thanks.

How can I say this? Throughout most of my adult life, I’ve been without insurance because it wasn’t offered by an employer or I couldn’t afford it. I know what it is like. I dealt with sports injuries, colds and flu, at least other major problem, all by myself. When I lost my job in 2007, we couldn’t afford the Anthem plans, even after I got a new job. So I canceled my part of the plan for four months so my wife and son could have coverage and hoped for the best until my employer plan kicked in to cover all of us. Today, if I lost my health care and was forced by the government to buy it out of pocket, it would be about $1,200 a month for the four of us, on the cheapest plan available right now in New Hampshire, with thousands and thousands in deductibles. We would have to buy this plan or face fines and penalties. What a choice, huh?

Before people just blindly accept this bill, or anything, do the research for yourself. Go find out what private market insurance is right now and then, figure out how you'd pay for health care if you lost your employer insurance tomorrow and were forced to buy a plan. Most folks can't afford the private insurance now. They aren't going to be able to afford it when they are forced to buy it because there are no cost or profit controls at all. And yet the government is going to force them to buy it!

And before folks go on about how this is the same as car insurance, it's not. And, in New Hampshire, you don't have to buy car insurance if you don't want to (although that is a mistake). Car insurance is a fraction of the cost of health insurance. It's not an equal comparison.

Also understand that the plan being proposed in Washington is very similar to the plan in Massachusetts, RomneyCare, if you will, and you can see how that is going. It's a disaster - price fixing by the insurance companies, the government not regulating profits so it can't control costs, some people falling through the cracks, etc. Read the headlines in the Massachusetts newspapers. It's a disaster. This is what will happen on a national scale. In other words, it's not going to work.

There is a simpler solution for helping those people who don't have insurance or can't afford insurance: Allow them to buy into Medicare with a payroll tax like Bernie Sander’s bill proposes only on a smaller scale. Gee, that was easy, everyone covered. Wow.

After that, the Congress should propose regulatory changes - like the proposals lumped into this bill - and vote on them one at a time, instead of one behemoth bill. This will allow true bi-partisanship and fix the problems.

Do this, and the Congress will actually reform health insurance and not screw it all up.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Filibuster Flim Flam

Guest perspective by Ralph Nader
The U.S. Senate has become the graveyard of Congress! Dozens of bills passed by the House of Representatives—to improve the health, safety and economic well-being of Americans—are locked up in the Senate month after month.

This was not always the case. In the sixties and seventies, legislation affecting consumers, workers and the environment often started in the Senate and was sent to the House in the hope that that body would not weaken or defeat these bills.

Committee chairs like Senators Warren Magnuson, Gaylord Nelson, and Walter Mondale would move legislation after great public hearings open to the citizenry. Auto safety, product safety, meat and poultry inspection, gas pipeline safety in the late sixties, followed by the sweeping air and water pollution control bills in the early seventies, were examples of Senatorial initiatives.

Today, the Senate lies paralyzed even as it is controlled by 59 Democrats—usually enough for comfortable passage of legislation sought by a majority party that also controls the presidency.

A combination of a few reactionary Democratic Senators, a unified pro-corporate Republican opposition, anti-democratic Senate rules and the decades-long weakening of citizen and trade union groups have combined to produce a constipated Senate.

The usually mild House Democratic Caucus Chairman, John Larson (CT) showed his irritation recently when he said that people are tired of the House passing legislation that stalls in the Senate.

Some of the bills passed by the House include the financial reform bill regarding Wall Street’s abuses, the omnibus energy bill, a long overdue adjustment of Postal Service pension payments, vision care for children, a job security act for wounded veterans, a paycheck fairness bill, an elder abuse victims bill, a water use efficiency and conservation research bill, an act to prohibit the importation of certain low-level radioactive waste into the U.S., an imposition of additional taxes on executive bonuses awarded by financial companies under bailout salvation, a mortgage reform and anti-predatory lending bill, food safety legislation, stronger enforcement authority for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and a student aid and fiscal responsibility bill.

These are some of the 290 bills already passed in the House—many of them minor to be sure—that House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi (Dem. CA.) has noted. (See:

Granted the major House bills are not as strong as some citizen groups would like, which is why they try to get them strengthened in the Senate. Fat chance, as long as Rule 22—the notorious filibuster mechanism—exists, and as long as the Senators remain marinated in corporate campaign cash and prospective jobs for them or their relatives.
The filibuster is now virtual, unlike the traditional filibuster where its practitioners would have to go on the Senate floor for hours straining their bladders and the patience of the public.

Presently, all Minority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell (Rep. KY) has to do is merely notify Majority Leader, Senator Harry Reid (Dem. NV) of the intent to extend debate and, voila, a minority of forty-one Senators defeats the majority rule of fifty-nine Senators.

So Senator Reid bewails that: “We had to file cloture some seventy times last year, seventy times. That’s remarkably bad. Let’s change that.”

So why don’t the Democrats “change that?” In 1975, Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, in his role as president of the Senate, ruled that fifty-one Senators could amend Senate rules. Senator Tom Udall has a resolution to do just that—predictably languishing in the Senate without even a hearing.

Moreover, Senator Tom Harkin proposed a resolution that would require a series of votes to cut off a filibuster. The first stage would need sixty votes, the second would need fifty-seven, then fifty-four and finally a simple majority over a period of weeks. That proposal is going nowhere.

Obviously, the Democrats could end the filibuster with a majority vote but choose not to because they may wish to use this tool of obstruction should they be in the minority. In fact, Harry Reid has ruled out any filibuster reform. Well then, why not end the “virtual” filibuster and make the Republicans hit the floor with round-the-clock debate televised around the nation. People are waiting and suffering from corporate-desired inaction.

Chicago lawyer and scholar, Thomas Geoghegan wrote an open letter to Senator Reid (See it at: urging that he make the Republicans actually filibuster. Either make them stall the Senate on a minor bill to generate public ire or generate public outrage by making them filibuster a popular bill aimed at curbing corporate crime, waste and abuse or one that would save people money or their health.

Still, no response, other than debilitating talk by the Democrats about seeking bi-partisan support for their bills.

Face it—the Senate is breaking an already broken Congress into little pieces which are then sold for a mess of pottage. Organize Congress Watch Locals in every state, folks, for nobody will save you but yourselves.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Vote Yes on HB 1356

On Wednesday, the Legislature will decide whether or not the New Hampshire Right-to-Know Law should be expanded to cover access to records of large nonprofits that receive government funding. The bill, HB1356, expands the law to include nonprofit organizations that bring in more than $100,000 annually and receive more than 50 percent of their money from a state or local government.
The logic of this bill is easy to understand. Currently, these nonprofits are not accountable to the public or the press on how they spend our tax dollars. Often when the public and the press do try to investigate the disbursement of taxpayer dollars, these nonprofits refuse to tell us how they spent our money.
Some say forcing nonprofits to comply with 91A will be burdensome to small nonprofits. However, the truth is that the law only covers about 21 percent of the state’s largest organizations, according to The New Hampshire Center for Nonprofits. The law also does not force nonprofits to comply with the open meeting portion of the law.
HB1356 has bi-partisan support from good government types, conservative budget hawks, the state employees union, and journalists like me. The Judiciary Committee recommended that the bill ought to pass. Please contact your state representatives and ask them to vote Yes on HB 1356.
In these difficult economic times, we need to make sure every last red cent of our tax dollars is spent sensibly and wisely and the only way to ensure that is accountability under 91A.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Politizine is now carbon neutral ...

Politizine is now a carbon neutral Web site!
According to studies, a blog with 15,000 visitors a month has a yearly carbon dioxide emissions of eight lbs., based on the electricity usage of the people visiting the blog. To offset the emissions, kaufDA and the Arbor Day Foundation is planting trees in the Plumas National Forest in California in our name, simply because I agreed to put up a blogger button on the site. I will also be planting at least one new tree this spring in our yard to double the effort.
If you're interested in more information about this effort, click on the carbon neutral button and join in the effort!

A history lesson ...

From Ron Paul, via the out of Afghanistan resolution:

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

New book on WTC 7 ...

Author David Ray Griffin has a new book on WTC 7. He talks a little bit about a Japanese official who is claiming that 9-11 was a hoax created by the U.S. government to attack Afghanistan ... shades of what the guy in Iran was clamoring about this week too.

NENPA hires executive director

From the inbox:
The New England Newspaper and Press Association, the trade group comprising 460 daily and weekly newspapers across six states, today announced the hiring of its first executive director: a 30-year newspaper veteran with nationwide experience in advertising, circulation, strategic planning, and consulting to the newspaper industry.

Dan Cotter began his duties Monday, March 8, at NENPA's offices on the Northeastern University campus in Dedham, Mass. He succeeds Morley Piper and Brenda Reed, who had each led their respective news associations before the two groups merged last summer to form NENPA. Reed had also continued as interim head of NENPA for eight months while NENPA searched for a leader of the new, combined organization.
That wide-ranging search led NENPA to select Cotter, who most recently served for almost 10 years as the head of one of the newspaper industry's top research and consulting firms. As chief operating officer of Sharon, Mass.-based Urban and Associates, Cotter worked with a wide range of newspapers throughout the United States, Canada, and Latin America, helping them to develop strategies for increasing audience and advertising market share.
The selection highlights the importance NENPA is placing on helping its member newspapers to find new sources of revenue and to develop imaginative print-and-Internet strategies during an economically challenging period for the industry. Click here for the entire press release.

Citizen Funded Elections Task Force to meet Friday

The Citizen Funded Elections Task Force will hold a number of public hearings in the coming weeks:

Friday, March 12 at 2 p.m. in Rm 101 of the Legislative Office Building, 33 N. State Street, Concord
Friday, March 19 at 2 p.m. in Rm 103 of the State House
Friday, April 2 at 2 p.m. in Rm 103 of the State House
Friday, April 16 at 2 p.m. in Rm 103 of the State House.

The meetings are open to the public. The Task Force is working on a public funding mechanism for state candidates in New Hampshire.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

RIP Granny D ...

["Granny D dies at 100"].

Coming up on three years ...

Just as a personal/professional FYI, I was named Senior Editor at my company a few weeks back. I will be leading the Lexington satellite office of our company. I haven't had much time to celebrate (or blog for that matter) due to other things going on. But, it's a nice recognition of my hard work.
It's funny because last year I was analyzing my work patterns the last 20 years or so and it seems that every 18 to 30 months or so, something around my employment changes. I either leave a job or get laid off, get promoted to another job that was completely different than the job I had, or whatever. I was joking with another employee that it would be nice to make three years without any changes. I haven't done that since I worked at this clothing store in Harvard Square for seven years between 1990 and 1997. I didn't quite make it this time - with the promotion - but I'm not counting this as a major change. I'm still an editor. In May, it will be three years in Belmont, which will be nice, solidly breaking the 18 to 30 mold.
I was doing a little research one night trying to find out if this was a mental or emotional thing or, if I just get bored after two years and bolt from employment. I couldn't find any condition that would explain it (What, no "boredemploymenitis"?). Whatever I guess. Back to the day.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

In the shadow of power ...

Guest perspective by Ralph Nader
Our just published In the Shadow of Power is a penetrating collection of 92 black and white photographs about life in Washington, DC, by Venezuelan photographer Kike Arnal.

After scores of books and reports by our groups over forty-five years, where the premise was that “a thousand words is worth one picture,” I am reminded of the impact of the reverse saying “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

If you want to see the power of these 92 pictures aided by the discerning eye of a masterful interviewer, visit Brian Lamb’s one hour C-SPAN program about Mr. Arnal’s book (

The accomplished photographer Fred Ritchin captured the visual impacts in his foreword with these words: “In shades of gray the murkiness is probed, fragments of anguish exposed, painful contrasts fractionally illuminated.”

Mr. Ritchin asked “how government can expect to lead a planet if it cannot properly help take care of its own.”

“I was born in Washington, DC,” he adds, “and left as a very young child. I never had any strong feelings about my birthplace. Now I do.”

The early, intense reaction to In the Shadow of Power was quite different than the responses to factual reports about Washington, DC’s tale of two cities. It’s the difference between a searching look that reverberates with its own feedback and a scan of factual renditions drained of emotional intelligence.

You decide which prompts more engagement.

Week after week the newspapers report cases of dysfunction, corruption, indifference and harmful delays in the municipal government. They report less the valiant efforts of local citizen groups striving to slow the erosion of municipal functions and services. They almost never report why so many of the wealthy and powerful classes rarely come close to even a state of noblesse oblige for their adopted metropolis. Foreign observers of the way our nation’s capital is run, and run into the ground, come away with disbelief punctuated by puzzlement at the vast resources and their unused capacity here. A few blocks from the White House are the headquarters of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, whose pronouncements describe other countries as under developed.

There are truly many tales of two cities in Washington, DC. There are the two cities of wealth and poverty. By and large, Northeast, Southeast and Southwest Washington cry out for repairs, for affordable housing, for public protection, for health and retail services. The other city, Northwest Washington—the part frequented by tourists—has the private schools and clubs, the gallerias and theaters, the well-kept homes and grounds befitting the affluent and upper-middle professional and business classes.

While the city is experiencing widespread gentrification, it maintains its dubious status as having the highest rate of low-income children in the United States, the highest child poverty rate, and the highest AIDS mortality rate in the country. The capital’s hospitals, medical schools and clinics have co-existed with the lowest life expectancy of any of the fifty states. Scores of countries have higher life expectancy levels than what prevails in the District of Columbia.

The well-off and the poor do share some common experiences: potholes, constant sirens, unreturned calls to municipal government officials, expensive housing and gridlock traffic. The difference is that the former have the means to mitigate, endure, avoid or override. There lies the rub. Those who can make change are not part of the daily risks and desperation so they do not have to be part of the solution.

Henry Allen, the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for photographic criticism when he was at the Washington Post, summed up his reaction: “This book comes in close on Them, who are not to be confused with Us. We do well to know as much as we can and should about Them – we’re all in the same boat after all.”

Kike’s style is not one of overt contrasting photography as in previous books about the tale of two Washingtons; it is more than artistic choice, though his photos are taken with an exceptional artist’s eye. His photos, standing alone or connecting to one another without words, make you wonder and ponder. One can allow them to enter into one’s thoughts and values. Perhaps they may incite you toward a new level of engagement for the human condition portrayed in this volume is, to be sure, Washington, DC-based, but it is also part of the grand tradition of photographers worldwide who have recorded the inhumanity of the few toward the many through this form of indelible visual communication.

For more information, and to purchase a signed copy, visit

Friday, March 5, 2010

Prediction: With Delahunt out, look for Dems to gerrymander GOP out of a seat

I think this is something you will only read here. With U.S. Rep. Bill Delahunt, D-Quincy, deciding not to seek another term, and the MassGOP looking to score a potential victory in the 10th CD, could this be the seat that gets gerrymandered out of Massachusetts by 2012?
Regular readers of will recall that I did a pretty thorough piece back in late 2006 analyzing the fact that the state will probably lose a Congressional seat after this year's Census: ["Massachusetts to lose a Congressional seat?"].
In looking at the map, one could see where the 10th could be split up between the 3rd, 4th and 9th districts, with shifts to the west of cities and towns to other seats. It would be difficult to do.
But picture this: 2010 is a crazy year. The GOP picks up the 10th. Would anyone put it past the Democrats on Beacon Hill to gerrymander the winning Republican candidate completely out of a seat and make him (there are only men currently thinking about running) face off against Reps. Barney Frank, Stephen Lynch, or Jim McGovern? If they could create the most insane districts imaginable to save their friends having to face each other in a primary, and a powerful House Speaker being brought down by a felony charge for lying about the redistricting proceedings while under oath, what makes anyone think they won't figure out a way to bump off the first Republican to hold a Congressional seat in 14 years?