Wednesday, January 29, 2003 News: Liz Phair Gets Happy

New Liz this spring, it says here...
State of the Union Review

I don't understand why every newscast on every station and every headline in every paper every day doesn't say: "George W. Bush, who got half a million less votes than his opponent, continues to occupy the White House today..."

So Powell goes to the UN February 5. The bombs are gonna start dropping on the 6th...

And what's the deal here anyway?: "The Democratic response, from Washington Gov. Gary Locke, offered no hint of dissent on Iraq... "

Friday, January 24, 2003

1988 revisited continues...

So Al Gore didn't invent the internetd but Gary Hart says "'I can make a plausible case for having invented the Iowa caucuses', recalling his decision to focus on the then-obscure caucuses when he managed the 1972 campaign of the then-obscure George McGovern..."

Maybe, but I've heard stories of some fiercely contested 1968 caucuses from several of my Iowa mentors...

Former Mafia Boss Gets Early Release

Judge Grants Early Release for Former New England Boss 'Cadillac Frank' Salemme. But it sez here he hadda be a rat to get out...
Poetic Justice

Man Accidentally Shot to Death While Using Gun to Beat Dog; Had Told Wife He Planned to Kill Pooch...
The Politics of Celebrity - TV's Jerry Springer considering U.S. Senate bid - Jan. 23, 2003

Oprah For Senate?

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Mob Boss Charged with Ordering Killings, 12 Others Indicted

"Federal prosecutors allege that Joel Cacace -- identified as the acting boss of the Colombo crime family -- ordered the killing of former prosecutor William Aronwald for 'disrespecting' organized crime. But two hit men killed Aronwald's father, George, instead, authorities said."

I smell a rat...
In Turn, 6 Presidential Hopefuls Back Abortion Rights

Gephardt tries to explain his flip-flop on choice.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

1988 Revisited Yet Again Again

Biden plans to dive into presidential pool... and there are more Gary Hart stories out there than I can list...

The last time I tried to post this I wound up in Impossible To Edit Hell. There's probably a weird looking post next to this. Apologies - The ed.
1988 Revisited One More Time

Biden plans to dive into presidential pool... and the
Frozen Sheep's Head Left In Indiana Candidate's Car

You're supposed to use a horse's head, nitwits! And we thought our central committee meetings were bad!

Where I grew up sheephead is just a card game...
New depths of GOP outrageousness - just from TODAY

Return of the Lucky Duckies - The Journal re-enters the tax-the-poor fray

Republican Hypocrisy Watch 3 House GOP Erodes Its Gift Ban (

Evangelical Christian who attacks 'gay deathstyle' appointed to US Presidential panel on HIV

Just When We Thought He Was Out, They Wanna Pull Him Back In Draft Gore? CBS reports:

"The Carthage Courier will run a full-page ad Wednesday asking Gore to run for president in 2004. The group that paid for the ad, Grassroots Democrats, also has a Web site urging Gore to reconsider his decision not to run for the Democratic nomination again. The group says that it has plans in the works to organize pro-Gore Democrats in Iowa and New Hampshire to help draft the former vice president.

In a release Tuesday about the ad, the group says it 'does not expect or request a response from Al Gore in the immediate future. His was an extremely difficult decision that will not change overnight. What Gore supporters do hope is that the former vice president will keep his options open as we near the primary season in 2004.'"

Remaining on standby for any action needed to prevent this unfortunate possibility...
Edwards backs NAACP SC boycott

Followup on a previous rant. This is a good sign - but is it enough?

Edwards is likely kicking himself for the "prior committments" that kept him out of Iowa for the past weekend's de facto caucus kickoff. Lieberman and Sharpton were also gone, but they had little to lose here...

Sunday, January 19, 2003 : Mystery Grows Around Hole in Lake

A Minnesota lake refuses to freeze:

"It could be aliens or someone's septic backing up," added a man in coveralls between bites of his waffle... "The fishing was never that great here anyway."

Ya... The funniest thing to me about Fargo was that my relatives from northern Wisconsin talk exactly like that.

Saturday, January 18, 2003

Opening Weekend

Three Democratic in hunt for White House for 2004 court party activists in Iowa...

How many reporters can fit into an Iowa living room? Well, I'd say a couple dozen judging from this afternoon.
Vilsack makes pitch for gay civil rights

"In a surprise bid for compromise, Gov. Tom Vilsack used his inaugural address Friday to make another pitch for extending civil rights protections to gays and lesbians. Linking two seemingly disparate issues, Vilsack said if GOP lawmakers want faith-based groups to get more involved in delivering social services, they should consider extending protections to gays and lesbians in return..."

Puth your money where your mouth is, Republicans?

They won't bite:

"'I''ve never been real thrilled about giving special rights to special people,' Senate Majority Leader Stewart Iverson said...'

Friday, January 17, 2003

Moseley-Braun May Launch Presidential Bid
also local from Chicago Sun-Timesand Tribune

"Former Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun (D-Ill.), ending months of speculation, announced today that she will not run for the Senate, and she is expected to soon join the crowded Democratic presidential field... Leading Democrats here said they were not discouraging the ambitious move because the party must improve its appeal to African-Americans and women. A national campaign by Moseley-Braun also could dilute the presidential candidacy of civil rights activist Al Sharpton, whom many party officials view as a wild card..."

And the not so invisible hand:

"'The Democratic Party is running on the same tank of gas we had in 1992. We have not broadened the electorate,' said Donna Brazile..."
A little presumptuous?

"U.S. military commanders will likely rule Iraq for at least several months in the aftermath of a U.S.-led ouster of President Saddam Hussein, according to Bush administration blueprints for Iraq's future..."

The bombs drop when the polls drop below 50%...
Ring around Uranus
in Sky and Telescope - A Mistaken Case of Ring Around the Collar

... no, clean up your mind! I mean the seventh planet!

Funny, though, when I grew up the seventh planet was pronounced like the element uranium - up until 1986 when the first spacecraft got there. I envision a mass boycott of newscasters who refused to pronounce your-A-nus and demanded the change to YOUR-a-nus. Especially if the word "probe" was anywhere in the script.

See, an on-air giggle fit is a broadcaster's nightmare. The veneer of cool objective professionalism is shattered by a moment of inappropriate silly humanity. Anchorman Dirk Studley at Action Chopper News Channel 62 doesn't want to suddenly transform into Beavis. So a planet with a silly name is too risky.

I had one once, reading a promo about cannibalistic insects. For some reason that I can't recall, the line "popped their heads off" just cracked me up. All you can do is turn off the mic, turn up the background music, and laugh Uranus off.

(So, since it's named for the same Roman god as the planet, why don't we now call the 92nd element YOUR-a-nee-um?)

1986 was also the year Halley's Comet quit being pronounced like Bill Haley. Anyway it's a cool picture of a cold planet.
Off Ill. Death Row, To a Rougher Place (

Fascinating piece on what will actually happen to the commuted prisoners. Also note that Blagojevich has extended the moratorium.
Frist burn-out?

"Voice of America has a more traditional profile of Frist's 'meteoric rise.''"

Why do they call it a "meteoric rise"? That's a silly term. Meteors fall. And while they fall they burn up.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

So Much For George Ryan's Lead, Part 2 : Okla. Executes Man for 1987 Killing
Blast From The Past (literally!) - '64 'Daisy' ad revived to warn against Iraq war - Jan. 16, 2003
Internet Group Revives Cold War Ad to Sway Public Against Iraq Attack

"The original was produced by LBJ's campaign to paint Barry Goldwater as an extremist who might lead the US to a nuclear war with the Soviet Union."

Ah, the Ur-negative ad. LBJ did it first and did it worst. Many have tried, but no one has ever topped "my opponent wants to blow up the world."

I remember the first time I saw this. It was in history class. They showed it once as a paid ad, a hundred times on the news, and a hundred thousand times in history class.

Someone at the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists must be getting ready to reset the clock...

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

House leaders tighten grip, anger centrists

"Some of the centrist members have even charged that the Republican leadership is quietly working to oust several of them from Congress altogether..."

I don't see the name "Leach" anywhere in here. But does he fit the profile?

The Hill, btw, is a nice free alternative to the Roll Call site which now charges.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

New Md. Gov. to End Execution Moratorium
Texas Executes First Inmate of 2003

Well, so much for George Ryan's lead...
Male Pattern Baldness Is Just A Backwards Mohawk - The Latest Strummer/Clash Updates
Strummer's Last Songs Due
On News via News Is Free

"His casket was adorned with bumper stickers reading 'question authority' and 'vinyl rules'..." An update on the last album situation and some nice comments from Paul Simonon.

Epic Readies Clash Essentials
On Billboard via News Is Free

"The 40 songs for 'Essential Clash' were chosen by Strummer before his death..." A completist like me - and I've listened to side 6 of Sandinista! - would argue that more than 40 Clash songs are "essential", but we'll let it go for now.

Article includes track listing - including "This is England," the first time a Clash compilation has acknowledged the existence of Cut The Crap. Disputing the choices is problematic since Joe 1) chose them and then 2) died, thus getting the last word (much as A. Bart Giamatti ended his argument with Pete Rose). But I've lived with this music almost as long as Joe did. So. Too much Give 'Em Enough Rope (seven out of ten songs?!? "Julie's In The Drug Squad"?!?), not enough Sandinista! (six songs out of 36, no "Something About England" or "Charlie Don't Surf.") And where is "Armagideon Time"?

Meanwhile, the South Africa concert at which Strummer's Nelson Mandela tribute song was scheduled to premiere has been cancelled due to business problems.
Bigmouth Bob Barr on Comeback Trail?
On CNN - Politics via News Is Free

"Rep. Johnny Isakson is expected to seek the Republican nod to succeed retiring GA Sen. Zell Miller... Isakson's decision could pave the way for ex-Rep. Bob Barr to return to public office. Sources said party leaders are urging Barr to drop his plans to run for Senate and instead seek Isakson's House seat, a Republican stronghold in the Atlanta suburbs. Early signs are that Barr, who lost a primary last year in a nearby district, is receptive..."

Just when we thought he was out, they pulled him back in...

Trivia: Bigmouth Bob was born right here in Iowa City. We definitely don't brag about it.

Lieberman Rips Hollywood in Announcing Bid

"'...I have taken on the entertainment industry for peddling sex and violence to our children -- and spoken up for parents who feel they are in competition with the popular culture to raise their children and give them the right values,' Lieberman said Monday..."

Censorship Joe didn't miss a beat on his pet issue on announcement day... and why did I only find this article on Yahoo Australia?

Monday, January 13, 2003

Voter News Service Ends After Failures
News groups disband Voter News Service
On CNN - Politics via News Is Free
On AP Politics via News Is Free

"Six major news organizations announced Monday they are disbanding Voter News Service, the consortium they had built to count votes and conduct surveys on Election Day. The decision follows two major election-night failures in a row by VNS."

Coupla things.

VNS never did get the nation-wide trend toward early voting. Exit polls do not catch people who vote before Election Day. In my county that's been nearly 40 percent the last two general elections.

The total meltdown of the VNS exit poll last November deserved more attention. What happened? Was it logistical problems on the VNS end?

Or - more likely - are so many people refusing to answer that the data is useless?

Politics may be entering the post-polling era. That's a huge, huge, under-reported story.

Polling as a tool has one weakness: it depends on a stastically average group of people responding accurately. And the public is hitting the burnout point. With higher refusal rates, talk of state and national no-call lists, caller IDs, and unlisted cell phones replacing wired lines for more and more people, it's becoming impossible to get an accurate sample of voter opinion. People who refuse, avoid or are missed by polls are different from people who answer them. We just don't know exactly how.

This has huge implications for the political world. (Not to mention the world of commerce, so I won't mention it.) Governing by popularity poll will become impossible because the polls will be unreliable. Politicians will need to adapt, either by working without measures of public sentiment... or by finding new measurement tools.

The tools of the past eventually wear out. Torchlight parades, five hour Chautauqua style campaign speeches, whistlestop train tours, brokered conventions - all these are now just quaint memories. Public opinion polling could join them if it stops working.

Saturday, January 11, 2003

All Illinois Death Sentences Commuted

"Gov. George Ryan said Saturday he is commuting the sentences of all 156 inmates on Illinois' death row because the state's death penalty process is 'arbitrary and capricious — and therefore immoral.'" Almost all go to life w/o parole (four pardons, four 40 year sentences).

This is a landmark... Very disapponted in Demo Gov-Elect Blagojevich for bashing the move.

George Ryan may be a lame duck and a crook, but he did a great thing.

Friday, January 10, 2003

Joe Strummer's Final Album Due In May
On News via News Is Free
Ice Bowl symbolizes Packers' home field

"Referee Norm Schacter's whistle froze to his lip on the first play of the game, after which plays were simply yelled dead..."

With no game this weekend (sob) I found a look back at the Most Sacred Moment In Packer History. Boys in Wisconsin are raised on the bedtime story: "Once upon a time there was a frozen football field..."

Thursday, January 09, 2003

Bush pitches tax relief at flag maker
On US Politics via News Is Free

Retro Flashback Moment: it's George Bush at the Flag Factory! Didn't I just say it was 1988 all over again? I had an interesting 1988 and there's a lot of it i'd like to revisit, but the presidential campaign was not a highlight of the year. (It was, however, my last as a civilian. Since then I've been a reporter, a campaign staffer, a candidate, and in my latest incarnation an election staffer.) I also had extremely long hair in 1988. In fact I had hair in 1988.

Back to 1988 (oh I wish!) maybe we will get that Guns N' Roses revival after all... and that Gary Hart comeback hangs in the air. What's the slogan gonna be? "Gee, after Monica Lewinsky, that Donna Rice thing doesn't seem like a big deal, huh?"

On a completely unrelated subject I was buying groceries and glancing at a TV Guide ranking the 100 Greatest TV/Music moments of All Time. I muttered "Beatles on Sullivan better be Number One..." Number THREE? With Bill Clinton playing sax on Arsenio Hall at Number One?!? Now, I may be one of the biggest Bill Clinton fans around but come ON.
Alleged Bonanno Crime Boss Indicted in `Donnie Brasco' Murder

After the Sopranos story we get big news on the REAL wise guys today: "The reputed boss of the Bonanno crime family was charged Thursday with the 1981 murder of a fellow mobster who allowed an undercover FBI agent -- the legendary "Donnie Brasco" -- to infiltrate the family. Joseph Massino, 60, and three other ranking members of the Bonanno family were charged with murder, racketeering and other crimes spanning two decades. The murders included the previously unsolved slaying of Dominick "Sonny Black" Napolitano..."


"Shooting on the show's upcoming season is scheduled to begin this spring, and it was originally thought the show's new season would debut in September. But HBO now says it's not so sure that's going to happen - and doesn't have a solid idea when the show will air."

Pass the gabbagool, it's gonna be a loooong year...

Kerry taps Norris for Iowa effort
"Democrats say Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry's choice of a former party chairman in Iowa to run his Iowa operations is a sign that Kerry plans a serious caucus campaign even with Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt in the field."
On DesMoinesRegister: Politics via News Is Free

This is a big deal in the small world of IA Demo activists. John Norris ran an extremely competitive House race on tough turf against Tom Latham last fall. The resume also includes a stretch as chief of staff to Gov. Vilsack and Rep. Boswell, and running Jesse Jackson's `88 campaign (the last was used against Norris in the House race but could boost Kerry's street cred with progressives at caucus time).

Speaking of 1988, isn't this campaign looking awfully familiar? It's almost as if the Clinton Administration never happened...

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Lieberman in, Zell Miller out

Sources: Lieberman to run
On CNN - Politics via News Is Free

Zell Miller
On CNN - Politics via News Is Free

News today from two of my least favorite "Democrats" (sic).

I know many will argue that only a Zell Miller can win in the South - but then what's the point of winning?

My presidential choice has now shifted from "uncommitted" to "anyone but Lieberman."

Damn, I miss Paul Wellstone.

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

Dr. Mengele Of The Cat World

Many stories on the above, but this headline was the most, er, catchy. Seems in his med school days, budding surgeon Bill Frist adopted a great many shelter cats in order to, ah, "give them a good home, yeah, that's it, a good home."

"Gee, Bill, you must really love cats! That's the fourth one this month!"

"The other ones all, uh.... ran away! Yeah, they ran away,"

Now, I know I'm waaaaaay too much of a softie when it comes to kitties, and sometimes the animal rightsers are rhetorically over the top* - but this is just icky.

*Ask about my conspiracy theory that PETA got secret backchannel corporate funding in the late 80s and early 90s to discredit the environmental movement. I have absolutely no evidence, which, uh, proves the coverup is working.

Anyway, the local animal shelter reports that anyone doing the same thing in my town today (not necessarily in Mass. 25 or 30 years ago, I disclaim) would be subject to prosecution for animal cruelty and for falsifying a contact (the adoption agreement specifically excludes use of the pets for testing).
Are Guns Done?
On News via News Is Free

"After the tour was shuttered, Rose sent musicians and crew packing, with no plans to reschedule the remaining sixteen dates. The band's label, Interscope, continues to maintain that Gn'R will soon put the 'finishing touches' on the infamously delayed Chinese Democracy CD..."

We'll see actual Chinese democracy before we see Chinese Democracy the album.
Republican Hypocrisy Watch
"Los Angeles Times"
On US Politics via News Is Free

GOP-Led House Will End Term Limits for Speaker...
Anyone else see this coming back in 1994? Now, for the record, I don't like term limits. The first vote of my life was to elect Bill Proxmire to a 5th term. We already have term limiting measures called "elections." But the Republicans got a lot of cheap mileage out of this quick-fix non-solution back in the Gingrich era. Now that term limits are inconvenient for them, they're bailing.

Monday, January 06, 2003

Packers' Favre to Return Next Season

Thank you Lord! (cues up rousing chorus of "Dropkick Me Jesus Through The Goalposts Of Life")

Saturday night was a historic disappointment for the Pack but with the mighty Favre around they'll always be in the running...
Roll Call Goes Subscription
"Roll Call is back with a new site design and an additional publication day, but is no longer free to non-subscribers."
On Political Wire via News Is Free

Great. We just lost one of the best Web sources on DC inside baseball. $199 a year anyone? (Anyone paying out of their own pocket, that is.)

Sunday, January 05, 2003

I'm leery of the Edwards "NASCAR strategy". How much pandering to Southern whites does this entail?

When is someone gonna say to the Confederate Flag People:

"You know, y'all - I can call y'all y'all, right? - when y'all talk about the Confederate flag as 'heritage' y'all remind me of an 85 year old German who was 'just following orders'. Neither one deserves any honor at all. Know what else you got in common with the Nazis? Y'all both LOST! State's rights my ass. The Confederate cause was the enslavement. of. human. beings. It's time to take that flag, soak it in a barrel of Jack Daniel's, and burn it on the infield of the Daytona speedway. And as for you, Lynyrd Skynyrd - y'all ain't even Lynryd Skynyrd! I don't care how many little brothers Ronnie Van Zant had, the band died in the plane crash. And what's the deal: 'Saturday Night Special' or 'Gimme Back My Bullets'? Make up your mind, change your name to the Southern Rock Old Fart Tribute Band, AND GET A NEW STAGE BACKDROP!"

Is John Edwards going to say anything even remotely resembling this in the South Carolina primary?

Most Obscure Godfather Political Reference Ever Seen
"New York Daily News"
On US Politics via News Is Free

Zev Chafets of the NY Daily News dismisses John Edwards by likening him to Merle Johnson, Connie's pretty boy golddigger in Godfather 2.

Now I'll leave Edwards aside for the moment. I haven't met him yet. Now that might sound like the old New Hampshire primary joke but in Iowa it's the truth. So far this cycle I've met Dean, Gephardt and Kerry without leaving town, and skipped out on Edwards at least twice and Daschle once. No big deal. In Iowa there's always another chance.

Now, back to important stuff: The Godfather. An ongoing discussion at the Godfather bulletin board is whether Merle married Connie. I think he took Michael's disapproval as An Offer He Couldn't Refuse, since after the communion party that opens the Pacino part of the film we never see Merle again.

Another movie-politics note is the forthcoming Civil War flick "Gods and Generals". Senator Robert Byrd, who got to be the GOP's favorite whipping boy in the Lott debacle due to his ancient Klan membership, makes the spectacular poor timing gaffe of appearing in a cameo in this film as a Confederate officer! However, most stories on this don't mention that fellow Senator George Allen (R-VA) and recent retiree Phil Gramm (R-TX) also appear as Southern officers, making the gaffe bipartisan. However, near as I know neither Gramm or Allen is on tape saying "nigger" in the last year... also seems odd that Byrd would play a Confederate since West Virginia's very existence is due to the region's loyalty to the Union. Anyway, no traction on this bipartisan oops.

So the Godfather connection: Robert Duvall plays Robert E. Lee, adding to his portrayal of illustrious and/or infamous historic figures including Adolf Eichmann, Josef Stalin, Eisenhower, and Jesse James - not to mention the original (movie) Frank Burns, Boo Radley in "To Kill a Mockingbird," the absolutely unforgettable Col. Kilgore ("I love the smell of napalm in the morning") in Apocalypse Now, and of course Tom Hagen in Godfather 1 and 2 but most unfortunately not 3.

I also should mention that Troy Donahue's real name was Merle Johnson.

Saturday, January 04, 2003

Hatch Interested In Supreme Court
"Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orin Hatch (R) "has been spreading the word" that "perhaps it's time his name should be sent to" his committee as the next Supreme Court nominee, the Washingtonian reports. "Hatch has surfaced in the past as a potential Supreme Court nominee. If anything works against him..."
On Political Wire via News Is Free

Well, the Rehnquist Retirement Watch is underway.

A Hatch appointment would be hard to Bork. Part of why Ashcroft got through as AG with relative ease was the ancient tradition of Senate collegiality. It's harder to bash a colleague. Hatch has cross-aisle friendships, most notably with Ted Kennedy. And the dilemma for Judiciary Dems: if by some miracle they actually block Hatch, he's right back as committee chair.

A non-Iowan might not have ever noticed, but anyone else remember Hatch running for President in 2000? Dead last in Iowa - McCain beat him not only not coming to Iowa but actively attacking the Iowa Caucuses (the old Gore '88 strategy). Tangent: Which Democrat is going to be the anti-Iowa Caucus candidate? I'll bet Bob Graham if he gets in (Edwards is already playing here).

Back to Hatch: That would tighten the Senate margin at least temporarily, but UT has a GOP governor and is so weak for Democrats that Clinton actually finished THIRD in 1992. But Jim Matheson could be a player. Maybe Gov. Leavitt could appont SLC Olympic chair Mitt Romney... oh, wait. I forgot.

It gets worse. Four words: Chief Justice Clarence Thomas.

Thursday, January 02, 2003


"Right-wing Senate majority leader Bill Frist, a wealthy surgeon, was spotted by witnesses at the scene of a major highway disaster in Florida on New Years Day. Although Frist claimed to authorities that he was, "just trying to help", that came as little consolation to the two victims who perished -- including a 10 year old boy. Four others "treated" by "Doctor" Frist were listed in grave condition.

Frist, a conservative right-wing Republican from the Southern state of Tennessee, was once a heart and lung surgeon before quitting medicine nearly a decade ago. It is unknown whether Frist is still technically qualified to treat victims of serious accidents..."

Read on, it manages to touch a lot more bases.

Wednesday, January 01, 2003

Outflanked Democrats Wonder How to Catch Up in Media Wars: New York Times: Politics: "Democrats are scouring the nation for a liberal answer to Rush Limbaugh and others on the deep bench of Republican friends."

This is a good read and about time...