Thursday, March 31, 2005

Posse Gathers in AZ

Posse Gathers in AZ

Now that D-Day is near for the vigilantes of the Minuteman Project and their unofficial border partol, media other than the Washington Times are picking up on it. The Chicago Sun-Times:

"law enforcement officials and human rights advocates are worried about the potential for bloodshed.

Critics contend the project may attract vigilantes. At least one white supremacist group has mentioned the project on its Web site"

And bloggers other than me are mentioning it, too. The esteemed TalkLeft:

Given the risk that a whacko or two will join the 800 to 1,000 volunteers that the project expects, the Border Patrol doesn't appreciate the "help" that the untrained volunteers are offering. If the volunteers fear that the Border Patrol isn't doing its job, they should seek a political solution. Running around the desert with guns isn't a productive response.

In the post-Schaivo era, could this be the wackosphere's next stand?


Bamboozlepalooza Comes to Iowa

Bamboozlepalooza Comes to Iowa

Local coverage of the Bush event is extremely fluffy. There's a sidebar about the "surprise" visit to a Cedar Rapids restaurant - how can it be a surprise when the Secret Service has spent days checking it out? I remember going on one of those in my journalist days with Dan Quayle. The site of the "unexpected" visit was surprisingly full of dressed-up local Republicans...

This is probably a typical local news response to The President Comes To Town - it's a Big Deal and the coverage is relatively non-critical compared to, say, the Washington Post. Note the tacked-on "balance" at the end of the Gazette story. This, of course, is why Bush is taking this approach. Local press is easier to keep on the talking points. And opposition is never as bug a story as The President Comes To Town. The counter-protest story is buried on the bottom of page 7A, next to the second cutesy sidebar: "What The View Was Like From The Bush Stage" (with more on-message bullet points).

Here's links to the Iowa City and Des Moines coverage... and (since the local paper is pay-to-play) the full Cedar Rapids story.


Bush pushes for overhaul
Social Security ideas touted at C.R. forum

By Steve Gravelle The Gazette

CEDAR RAPIDS — President Bush spent almost three hours in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, stopping at a diner and Kirkwood Community College to bolster his campaign to change Social Security.

‘‘People are now beginning to understand this a problem,’’ Bush said during a radio interview at the Spring House restaurant, 3980 Center Point Rd. NE. ‘‘They just need to hear the truth.’’

Forecasters say the Social Security system will be paying out more than it takes in by 2017 and could go broke by 2041.

‘‘The problem is there’s a hole in the safety net for the generation that is coming up,’’ Bush said later at a town hall meeting at Kirkwood.

‘‘You’ve got more people getting greater benefits and living longer, with fewer people paying into the system. That doesn’t work,’’ he said.

Instead of heading directly to the Kirkwood campus after Air Force One’s 10:50 a.m. arrival at The Eastern Iowa Airport, the president’s motorcade went north on Interstate 380 to the northeast Cedar Rapids diner, then retraced the route to Highway 30, where it turned east toward Kirkwood.

The previously unannounced detour and stop complicated security arrangements and stalled some lunch-hour traffic, but it delighted Spring House customers and gave thousands of local residents at least a sudden glimpse of the presidential Cadillac and its support fleet.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who last week said chances of a Social Security plan passing are ‘‘right now, less than 50-50,’’ warmed up the crowd of about 1,000 people in the Johnson Hall Gymnasium at Kirkwood, expressing enthusiasm for change — although the details remain vague.

After brief comments on developments in the Mideast, energy policy and recognizing local residents, Bush got down to Social Security business, chatting with five Iowans, each selected to illustrate his talking points.

‘‘I was a nervous wreck,’’ said Lisa Loesch after the event. ‘‘It was a blast, though.’’

Loesch, 43, of Cedar Rapids, a nurse at St. Luke’s Hospital, said the White House apparently found her through an e-mail her husband, Steve, had sent with a question about Social Security. Steve Loesch is a financial adviser at Financial Resources Group in Cedar Rapids.

Loesch ‘‘is kind of representing the generation that knows there’s trouble with Social Security,’’ Bush said.

Loesch, who said she rehearsed with White House staff Tuesday night, discussed the returns future retirees could expect with private accounts proposed by Bush and the conservative mix of stocks and bonds they’d include.

‘‘I thought that I would be nervous, but the minute he walked in, it put the whole room at ease,’’ said Jinny Adams, 64, of Robins. With her husband, Joe Studer, Adams represented current retirees.

Studer, a former Small Business Administration employee, praised the Thrift Savings Plan for federal workers, which provides a very limited selection of investment options and has been offered by Bush as a model for his changes.

‘‘It’s been far better than Social Security,’’ said Studer, 67. ‘‘One of the better decisions I’ve made.’’

‘‘It was a great experience,’’ said Chris Knudsen, 20, a Kirkwood sophomore from Cedar Rapids. Knudsen said he volunteered to appear with Bush and was screened by White House staff.

‘‘They asked about Social Security and ourselves, and so forth,’’ he said. ‘‘None of it was really scripted, but they wanted us to get used to what was going to happen.’’

‘‘The way the system’s set up now, it’s not going to be there,’’ Knudsen said during his chat with the president.

But it could be, with ‘‘a combination of fairly modest changes, some of which are called for in any event,’’ said University of Iowa associate professor of economics John Solow.

Solow said phasing in later retirement, extending payroll withholding beyond its present $89,000 ceiling and a few other tweaks ‘‘might go along way’’ to mending Social Security. He granted the system does face a temporary shortfall as baby boomers retire and age.

‘‘Whether it’s a crisis or not, it’s an issue,’’ Solow said. ‘‘The privatization question has nothing to do with that. It’s about fundamentally changing the program from a government-funded pension plan for the elderly, funded by a tax on income from the current working generation, to a forced savings plan.’

| |

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

'Mr. Smith' joins filibuster fray

'Mr. Smith' joins filibuster fray

Life imitating art imitating life:

People for the American Way, (PFAW) founded by Hollywood producer Norman Lear, launched a television ad campaign Wednesday featuring a scene from the 1939 movie, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” Jimmy Stewart, as starry-eyed freshman Sen. Jefferson Smith, filibusters on the Senate floor to block a corrupt pork-barrel project...

I'll bet Bill Frist doesn't leap out a window to his death. That'd boost the ratings on CSPAN2. And it's too bad we didn't have CSPAN to record Huey Long's gumbo recipes.

It's hard for me to get excited about the coming Nuclear Option battle. I find it telling that PFAW had to go to the movies for its example of a Good War. Most 20th Century filibusters were by backers of segregation, a far less noble cause than Jeff Smith's boys camp.

But I'm realist enough to understand that in this era of Politics As Total War, the power to stop the US Senate dead in the water is the only concrete, real power in the hands of the Democratic Party. The other team has the ball and we're on defense - and on defense the goal is to STOP `em.

(We male bloggers are accused of making too many sports analogies, and that may be true. But I'm rarely accused of excess machismo, and I have the excuse of being the son of a coach.)

Women Not Winning In Iowa: Part 2

Women Not Winning In Iowa: Part 2

Roxanne Conlin wrote in the Register yesterday, noting some objection to David Yepsen's column about women not winning in Iowa and reminding me that I'm about aa week behind in following up on my first installment on the subject.

Bonnie Campbell and the Nightmare of Ninety-Four

In June 1994, Terry Branstad survived the mother of all primaries with Gopher Grandy by two points, only to find himself trailing Democratic nominee Bonnie Campbell by nearly 20 percent. Five months later "Governor Braindead" rolled to a 20 point win. The sexism of Iowa voters strikes again? Or was it something else?

Bonnie Campbell's loss is a poor test case because of the national political watershed of 1994. It was just a rotten year to be a Democrat. 1994 was enough to doom Elaine Baxter in her rematch with Jim Ross Lightfoot. But unlike the contests of 1992 and the 2002 races I'll visit in part three, a big share of this loss goes to the candidate herself.

Iowa Democrats win at the grass roots with labor intensive campaigns driven by field staff and volunteers. Toms Vilsack and Harkin have followed in the footsteps of Neal Smith, Harold Hughes, John Culver and Dick Clark winning a door at a time.

Bonnie Campbell was not a big believer in the grass roots. Her general election campaign started with a direct slap in the face of the grass roots: a formal denunciation of the state party platform because it endorsed - ten years ago! - gay marriage. Let me repeat: TEN YEARS AGO. I've never been especially interested or involved in the platform process. I suppose it matters, but electing people matters more. I'm cynical enough to half-expect candidates to ignore the activists' platform. But it's really rare for someone to go out of her or his way to actively attack it.

So there's the symbolism of the grassroots. As for substance, Campbell devoted less of her resources to field and get out the vote efforts than any major Iowa candidate I've observed in my 15 years here. What kind of campaign strategy DID Bonnie Campbell believe in? TV. Lots and lots and lots of TV.

There's a school of thought for lots and lots and lots of TV, and it can work - IF it's GOOD. Campbell's TV was bad, because her message was bad. If she had simply repeated something to the effect of "After 12 years of Terry Branstad it's time for a change" for five months, she might have made it. But instead, she chose to fight the election on Republican turf.

I'm reminded so much of the Campbell race this week because of tragedy in the news: the abduction and murder of a child in eastern Iowa. A similar case dominated state headlines throughout the summer of `94. Calls for Iowa to adopt the death penalty were part of the political climate that year.

It was certainly a tough issue to face - it was one I faced on hostile terms in my own campaign. And I concluded that all you can really do is take a stand on conscience. But Campbell tried to argue that her experience in law enforcement made her tougher on crime than Branstad. And she pushed and pushed and pushed that point. Now, one could make an argument that enforcement of stalker and domestic violence laws truly IS tougher on crime than the execution of one murderer. But in 1994 in Iowa, "tougher on crime" meant fry `em, lock `em up, throw away the key. And Campbell as tougher on crime than Branstad didn't sell. (Brilliant legislative work in 1995 stopped the death penalty in Iowa by a handful of votes, and just this week the House speaker said it won't come up again this session. Knock wood.)

The personal, intangible factors make me wonder about the role of sexism in Campbell's defeat. Bonnie Campbell, to be blunt, didn't seem like the most folksy character. Yet the same criticism was also made of the last two (male) Democratic presidential candidates. There was some criticism of Campbell's husband's role in the campaign - a charge aimed four years later at Jim Ross Lightfoot's spouse. Was Campbell's out-of-state birth, and move to the state after marrying an Iowan, an issue? Ask Tom Vilsack of Pittsburgh and Christie Bell of Mt. Pleasant. Do things like this hurt female candidates more than male candidates?

There's no way to really know but I strongly suspect:
1) The dynamic in the national electorate shifted dramatically between June and November. This is the only time in my adult life that I have seen an offyear election truly nationalized, and that made this race unwinnable for any Democrat, man or woman.

2) A poor campaign and message turned what might have been a narrow loss and a try-again mood into a loss that was big enough to knock Campbell out of a future in electoral politics.

3) Sexism probably made the bad loss a little worse.

Bonnie Campbell went on to do good work in the Clinton Justice Department, and the filibuster politics of choice cost her a judgeship. Funny how people's thoughts on the principle of unlimited debate change.

When next I get around to it (no deadlines), I'll look at the 2002 congressional campaigns of Julie Thomas and Ann Hutchinson.


What if no one went pro?

What if no one went pro?

In an alternate universe, the NBA has an age restriction and all high school phenoms go to college – and stay for four years.

In an alternate universe, this is what happens ...

THIS is why I could care less about the Final Four this weekend.

Q: What's the worst thing you can call a college hoops player?
A: "Senior."

Bush's Social Security tour to hit Iowa

Bush's Social Security tour to hit Iowa

We're political ground zero again as the dog and pony show comes to the best John Kerry congressional district held by a GOP house member.

Loretta Lynn and finding the heart of the South

Loretta Lynn and finding the heart of the South

Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon strikes again on class politics, the South, feminism that doesn't speak its name, and country music.

There's a movement right now to get arrogant, misogynist Southern Baptists into pharmacy jobs where they can deny women their right to birth control. On a national level, this can be fought politically, debating and disputing the idea that one has a specific right to enforce anti-woman religious beliefs on customers. But the real battle is cultural, a battle to get women to realize they have a right to their damn drugs so that never can the pills be denied without a woman raising holy hell over it. And that energy is there. I believe it because I am a Southern woman who raises hell and listens to Loretta Lynn raising hell.

Just read the whole thing.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Schiavo protestors flood Florida abuse hot line

Schiavo protestors flood Florida abuse hot line

The Culture of Life strikes again:

Hundreds of protesters trying to keep Terri Schiavo alive (sic) are calling the Florida Department of Children & Families hot line each day, and officials are concerned they could be jamming the line for people who are trying to report abuse unrelated to the case...

"Inadvertently these callers may be putting other neglected, abused and vulnerable citizens at risk,'' said DCF spokeswoman Zoraya Suarez on Friday.

Partisan Polarization Intensified in 2004 Election

Partisan Polarization Intensified in 2004 Election

True enough, the story is simply a big handle on one factoid:

Only 59 of the 435 congressional districts went in different directions in presidential and House elections last year, according to newly released data from the political analysis firm Polidata. In the remaining districts, voters either backed both President Bush and the Republican House candidate or John F. Kerry and the Democratic House candidate.

The findings came as no surprise to election experts but as confirmation of patterns that now appear ingrained in American politics. In 2000, there were 86 such "split-ticket" districts, and in 1992 and 1996, there were more than 100 such districts.

Increasing polarization is one explanation, and perhaps a factor. But the story doesn't focus enough on the rise of the perpetual gerrymander. There are simply more one-party-safe districts now than there were a dozen years ago.

Charlie Cook picks up on it better and gives us lists.

The 10 Democrats sitting in the most Republican districts by Bush percentage are: Chet Edwards, Texas-17, Gene Taylor, Miss.-04, Jim Matheson, Utah-02, Ike Skelton, Mo.-04, Earl Pomeroy, N.D.-01, Bud Cramer, Ala.-05, Stephanie Herseth, S.D.-01, Bart Gordon, Tenn.-06, Rick Boucher, Va.-09, and Dan Boren, Okla.-02.

The 10 Republicans sitting in the most Democratic districts are: Jim Leach, Iowa-02, Rob Simmons, Conn.-02, Michael Castle, Del.-01, Mark Kirk, Ill.-10, Jim Nussle, Iowa-01, Curt Weldon, Pa.-07, Chris Shays, Conn.-04, Clay Shaw, Fla.-22, Charlie Bass, N.H.-02, and Jim Gerlach, Pa.-06.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Dog whistle politics

Dog whistle politics

Roll Call on the UK election:

Over the past few weeks, a new expression has entered the Westminster lexicon: dog-whistle politics. It means putting out a message that, like a high-pitched dog-whistle, is only fully audible to those at whom it is directly aimed. The intention is to make potential supporters sit up and take notice while avoiding offending those to whom the message will not appeal.

We've got a lot of those here.

Kos: "For example, Bush's puzzling debate diss of the Dred Scott decision left the vast majority of people scratching their heads, but the anti-abortion movement knew exactly what he was saying. It's Religious Right code for attacking Roe v. Wade."

I'll tune the pitch of my ears higher and watch for more...

Use Language That Implies Your Opponent has Done Things Far Worse than What has Been Proven

Use Language That Implies Your Opponent has Done Things Far Worse than What has Been Proven

The old communication and argumentation teacher in me loves this article:

"Use language that implies 'greater guilt' and inspires a thought process in the listener that likely concludes with the idea that your opponent is a deceitful, guilty, low-life, capable of 'God knows what' because he is hiding all of his 'real' improprieties from public view -- at least as long as he can hide them from becoming 'new revelations'. And do it in such a way that the listeners' conclusions far exceed the implications of the currently available evidence."

Oldest tricks in the book. Probably Aristotle's book, though he no doubt looked askance...

Teaching Darwin splits Pennsylvania town

Teaching Darwin splits Pennsylvania town

Inadvertent quote of the day from an anti-evolutionist:

'We've been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture,' he said, adding that the school board's declaration is just a first step."

Hm. Can't argue that one...

For gays, it happens all the time

For gays, it happens all the time

Schaivo meets gay marriage at Ground Zero of the culture wars: "It certainly resonates with us," said Buckel, director of marriage-related activities for Lambda Legal. "If folks look at this situation and see that a spouse is struggling to carry out the wishes of his loved one, imagine what folks face when they don't even have access to the spousal relationship because they can't get married."

New Burger King breakfast offering outdoes Whopper

Burger King breakfast offering outdoes Whopper

"The sandwich has one sausage patty, two eggs, two American cheese slices and three strips of bacon.

That works out to 730 calories and 47 grams of fat -- more than a Whopper burger, which the Burger King Web site said has 700 calories and 42 grams of fat.

While the new breakfast sandwich goes against the trend at some competitors to offer healthier fare, some analysts were quoted as saying the new sandwich is likely to be a sales success.

"The critics will still label it food porn," Sherri Daye Scott, editor at fast-food magazine QSR, told USA Today, which first reported the story. "But the average male fast-food customer does not have a problem with this."

Maybe I shouldn't feel morally superior about losing 40 excess pounds since last summer.

But sometimes, it's just too easy.

You can wash that sandwich down with a hot populist latte (attn: David Yepsen).

Geo-Greening by Example

Geo-Greening by Example

Thomas Friedman writes in yesterdays New York Times:

"By doing nothing to lower U.S. oil consumption, we are financing both sides in the war on terrorism and strengthening the worst governments in the world. That is, we are financing the U.S. military with our tax dollars and we are financing the jihadists - and the Saudi, Sudanese and Iranian mosques and charities that support them - through our gasoline purchases."

Something I've been saying for a while. Reducing dependence on foreign oil needs to be one key pillar in our Middle East policy (the other being standing up to Israel). But Friedman argues a bigger global picture:

The oil boom is also entrenching the autocrats in Russia and Venezuela, which is becoming Castro's Cuba with oil. By doing nothing to reduce U.S. oil consumption we are also setting up a global competition with China for energy resources, including right on our doorstep in Canada and Venezuela. Don't kid yourself: China's foreign policy today is very simple - holding on to Taiwan and looking for oil.

Friedman presents, in nice bullet points, a three point plan.

  • "A gasoline tax that would keep pump prices fixed at $4 a gallon." FAir enough. That would more accurately reflect the true social costs of our single-driver-vehicle society.
  • "We need some kind of carbon tax that would move more industries from coal to wind, hydro and solar power, or other, cleaner fuels." Also good, though I have bad memories of how fast "BTU tax" got shot down in the Clinton years."
  • " We need to start building nuclear power plants again." Sorry, can't go there. He argues that new technology is safer - but I'm not convinced that means "safe enough."

    The point I see Friedman leaving out is significant public transit on the European scale, and a re-shaping of our cityscapes to make living without a motorized vehicle a real option in more of America.

    Ruy Teixeira calls energy policy, in this oilman administration, "the GOP's 'Achilles' Heal'" (sic): "As the energy and environmental crises deepen in the near future, Democrats have much to gain by uniting behind a comprehensive energy independence strategy."

  • Sunday, March 27, 2005

    Easter Reflections on Tom Delay vs. Jesus Christ

    PERRspectives Blog: Easter Reflections on Tom Delay vs. Jesus Christ

    Smallest Farm in Iowa: Week 2

    Smallest Farm in Iowa: Week 2

    An unbelievably beautiful sunny Easter Sunday in Eastern Iowa. The smallest farm is still mostly quiet, but the pea seeds have begun to sprout out of their yogurt cups.

    Speaking of yogurt, Mister Back To The Land here has started home-growing yogurt again. I picked up a large-size Salton yogurt maker at a sale a couple weeks back. Yogurt makers are about a dime a dozen at used stores; I think during the Seventies craze of special cooking mini-appliances that did only One Thing (hot doggers, burger makers, fondue pots etc.) millions of folks got a yogurt maker, used it once, and broke the thermometer. The used ones NEVER have the thermometer. Then, after a twenty year cool off period in the basement, it went to Goodwill along with the Stir Crazy popcorn popper that was last used the day before microwave popcorn was invented. Anyway, most of the yogurt makers have one cup cups but this one has 1 1/2 cup cups.

    I grew yogurt back in my latter day hippie grad-school days when I had long hair (when I had hair, period) but then gave up on it. Now that I'm living in the Bohemian Paradise of the student ghetto again, it seems the thing to do. I better be careful or I'll break out the sprout-grower again.

    You don't need a yogurt maker to be a yogurt maker, but it's easier. Here's how.

    DeLay Quietly Steps Out of the Schiavo Spotlight

    DeLay Quietly Steps Out of the Schiavo Spotlight

    ... but a little too late:

    While the Schiavo case may have energized his conservative supporters, Democrats and some independent analysts say, it may also have thrust him into the national consciousness at the very moment his opponents are trying to make him a symbol of Republican excess and force another ethics investigation.

    Some Democrats have begun drawing parallels between Mr. DeLay and another Republican who eventually became a weight on his party, former Speaker Newt Gingrich.

    "The public is beginning to sense a whiff of extremism in the Republican leadership in the House and the Senate," said Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. "If it continues, it could prove very detrimental to them and good for us."

    The most effective run we ever had agains our phony moderate Jim Leach was in 1996, when we were able to say "a vote for Leach is a vote for Gingrich." We had symbolic shorthand for the issue of House control.

    True to form, of course, Leach went back in January 1997 and cast a meaningless symbolic vote against Gingrich for speaker thus taking away our shorthand. But DeLay may blow up big enough to become a household word ouside the inside-baseball crowd. My biggest worry is that the ethics stuff will blow up BEFORE November 2006!

    Saturday, March 26, 2005

    Stairway to Heaven Backwards

    Stairway to Heaven Backwards

    Remember the evils of Satanic Backmasking? Oh you know that this blogger, obsessed with Tipper Gore for twenty years, sure does!

    It was so EASY to do this in the analog days of vinyl and tape, but digital audio backwards just doesn't give you that luciferious effect. Well, this guy figured it out. Give it a listen, what do you have to lose (other than... your SOUL! Mwa ha ha ha ha...)

    Should I really be doing this Easter weekend?

    The Culture Of Life

    The Culture Of Life

    "A man arrested in North Carolina Friday is accused of sending an e-mail putting a $250,000 bounty "on the head of Michael Schiavo" and another $50,000 to eliminate a judge who denied a request to intervene in the Schiavo case, the FBI said."

    And Kos cites a web site (I won't link direct to it, Kos does) with this headline:

    I advocate the use of force to rescue Terri Schiavo from being starved to death.

    I further advocate the killing of anyone who interferes with such rescue.

    Culture of life?

    Friday, March 25, 2005

    Friday Frist Cat Blogging

    Friday Frist Cat Blogging

    "I visited the various animal shelters in the Boston suburbs, collecting cats, taking them home, treating them as pets for a few days, then carting them off to the lab to die in the interest of science" - Bill Frist, MD, in his 1989 autobiography Transplant: A Heart Surgeon's Account of the Life and Death Dramas of the New Medicine

    Thursday, March 24, 2005

    Conservatives Split in Debate on Curbing Illegal Immigration

    Conservatives Split in Debate on Curbing Illegal Immigration

    "Rancor over illegal immigration has become a staple on conservative blogs and talk radio, with much of the wrath directed at Bush... The immigration debate pits one core GOP constituency (law-and-order conservatives) against another (business interests that rely on immigrant labor). One camp wants to tighten borders and deport people who are here illegally; the other seeks to bring illegal workers out of the shadows and acknowledge their growing economic importance."

    The Washington Times, still the only ones focused on this aspect: "President Bush yesterday said he opposes a civilian project to monitor illegal aliens crossing the border, characterizing them as 'vigilantes.' He said he would pressure Congress to further loosen immigration law."

    The Best 90 Minutes of My Life

    The Best 90 Minutes of My Life

    Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore on the joys of homemade music, as I play my own unique Buffalo Springfield compilation:

    These days, CD technology has displaced the cassette in the mainstream, and mix CDs have become the new cultural love letter/trading post. Once again, we're being told that home taping (in the form of ripping and burning) is killing music. But it's not: It simply exists as a nod to the true love and ego involved in sharing music with friends and lovers.

    Turn it up.

    The Schiavo bill and the "nuclear option"

    The Schiavo bill and the "nuclear option"

    Is this whole thing a double-bank shot in the side pocket?

    "The whole POINT was not to grant relief. This would enable the Republicans to say that a "runaway federal judiciary" was ignoring the will of Congress. And this just so happens to occur when the Republicans are about the exercise the nuclear option regarding filibusters of judicial nominees. Just another way to astroturf this issue among the Christian right. "Make sure that what happened to Terri Schiavo doesn't happen again!"

    Meanwhile, on the Messianic front, this quote of the day: "'I mean, this is Holy Week and governor Bush is a Catholic, so he has to come down and save this lady,' Martin said."

    Yahoo! News - UN Official Urges Israel Free Jailed Palestinians

    UN Official Urges Israel Free Jailed Palestinians

    "What is required of Israel is a bold step, of the kind taken by other transitional societies, which have released prisoners in order to further peace," Dugard said in a speech on Tuesday.

    Dugard, a South African jurist, told reporters on Wednesday his country's former apartheid regime had agreed to release political prisoners on a massive scale "as the price paid for peace."

    Interesting to see an apartheid analogy. As I recall, South Africa also established a one person, one vote multicultural state...

    Wednesday, March 23, 2005

    We could all use a laugh

    We could all use a laugh

    The news has been so mind-numbingly grim that we need a break.

  • Daily Kos: Exclusive! Interview With The Devil

  • The Onion :National Gonzo Press Club Vows To Carry On Thompson's Work

  • Army misses recruiting goals again

    Army misses recruiting goals again

    Feeling A Draft update:

    "In February the Army missed its monthly recruiting goal by 27 percent. That was the first time it had fallen short for any month since May 2000, and it underscored the difficulty the Army faces in signing up young men and women during time of war..."

    The ghouls and vampires who oppose choice

    The ghouls and vampires who oppose choice

    Amanda strikes again on Schiavo/choice, with a tip of the hat to Matgaret Atwood: "After all, the only proper punishment for being an insufficient woman, one who couldn't gestate a healthy baby, must be to make her sit through her entire pregnancy and labor only to deliver a dead baby."

    Also a link to the great Molly Ivins.

    And I would note that all the right to lifers (sic) who are making Nazi analogies are violating Godwin's Law - except Godwin's Law is supposed to be self-evident and actually citing it is bad form.

    So I won't.

    U.S. Rule on Women's Sports May Ease College Compliance

    U.S. Rule on Women's Sports May Ease College Compliance

    The Education Department has quietly issued a new clarification of the regulations interpreting Title IX, the statute barring sex discrimination at institutions that receive federal financing.

    The clarification, which was posted Friday afternoon on the department's Web site, is being criticized by women's advocacy groups as a weakening of Title IX's protection of a right to equality in collegiate sports opportunities. The law has led to an explosion of women's athletics on campuses, though critics assert that it has curtailed men's competition as some colleges, concerned with prohibited imbalance between the sexes, find a remedy in eliminating a number of lower-profile men's sports.

    Under the new clarification, colleges can demonstrate that they are satisfying the demand for women's sports by taking an online survey showing that female students have no unmet sports interests. The Education Department says they may use e-mail to notify students of the survey and must offer it in a way designed to generate high response rates - as part of the registration process, for example. But, the department said, even if the nonresponse rate is high, nonresponse will be interpreted as a lack of interest.


    Tuesday, March 22, 2005

    Langevin Rules Out U.S. Senate Campaign

    Langevin Rules Out U.S. Senate Campaign

    Pat Kennedy, call your dad: anti-choice U S Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI) will run for re-election and NOT challenge moderate Republican Lincoln Chafee. Good news for pro-choice Dems.

    thanks to KyDem

    Bonds says he might miss season

    Bonds says he might miss regular season

    Bonds said he was tired and disappointed following a winter in which he was accused of steroid use, his grand jury testimony was leaked and he had two knee operations. He blamed his troubles on the media.

    "You wanted me to jump off a bridge, I finally did," Bonds said. "You finally brought me and my family down. ... So now go pick a different person."

    Barry Bonds will never play again. He will either retire, his injuries suddenly and mysteriously slow to heal, or he'll be Pete Rosed. MLB needs a fall guy for the steroid scandal, and McGwire won't do because he's not an active player. They need a head on a platter, and we all know Barry has a big head.

    And they want to do it before he passes Babe Ruth on the career homers list. He's at 703 as I write, only 11 shy.

    Aside: When I was about 11 my dad took us to see the Brewers, during the couple of years Hank Aaron was playing out his string as a DH. I think he went 0 for 4 that day. But I saw the all time home run king play ball. And thirty years later I'm writing about it.

    Thanks, Dad.

    $3 gas = breaking point?

    $3 gas = breaking point?

    Personal observation this morning. As I was commuting to work this morning I passed immediately beneath a man on a ladder raising his station's price to $2.09 a gallon.

    You may recall: I commute to work on a bicycle.

    A block later I ran into a friend of mine commuting to work. On foot.

    Measure would disconnect drug convictions, aid

    Measure would disconnect drug convictions, aid

    "A bill introduced this month in the U.S. House of Representatives is aiming to repeal a provision of the Higher Education Act that denies federal financial aid to students with minor drug-related convictions, a move supported by UI officials..."

    WOULD be nice. While they're at it they could dump the Solomon Amendment requiring draft registration, too.

    Women Not Winning In Iowa: Part 1

    Women Not Winning In Iowa: Part 1

    David Yepsen follows up today on yesterday’s story noting the lack of success for high profile female candidates in Iowa. The focus is narrow – Roxanne Conlin’s 1982 race – and he lays blame for the loss squarely on the candidate.

    I didn’t make it to Iowa until 8 years later so I can’t make that call. But that got me to thinking about some of the other high-profile races I’ve observed and been involved in. I think I’ve got enough material to make this last a few posts so stay tuned.

    1992 was the much-ballyhooed “year of the woman” and saw a great leap forward in female congressional membership: Carol Moseley Braun, Patty Murray, Blanche (Lambert) Lincoln, and the California duo of Feinstein and Boxer among others. But not in Iowa.

    Elaine Baxter was always a good interview in my journalist days and the best of the three Secretaries of State I’ve observed. I remember that in June 1992, at the height of the House check-kiting scandal, Jim Ross Lightfoot was ranked as the number one most vulnerable congressional incumbent. Lightfoot slimed her at the whispering, push-poll level, and in a bizarre district that covered five media markets in four states, that was effective.

    God bless Jean Lloyd-Jones for taking on Chuck Grassley in `92. That was a long shot from the word go, and it got worse when her announcement was stepped on by a state Senate ethics scandal. She was not involved, but she was chairing the Senate ethics committee and the good ole boys left her holding the hot potato. So all anyone heard in the news was “ethics scandal… Jean Lloyd-Jones.” As a result she had a close call in the primary from a candidate who could charitably be described as a wacko.

    The low point was a debate with six minor party candidates – an attempt to nail Grassley for refusing to debate that instead wound up reducing Jean to their level. Grassley eventually debated. The night before the election. I was a party staffer that year and Jean's staffer said, "She did great. And nobody saw it."

    Turnout was high that year, but it seems that despite the Clinton win in Iowa this didn’t help Democrats. Perot voters apparently voted Republican down the rest of the ballot. The evangelicals were also out in full force; that was the same year Iowa made its second attempt to pass an actual ERA. It lost narrowly, hampered by an ineffective campaign. The tactic of holding signs at polling places alienated more voters that it encouraged, and reminded opponents to vote no more effectively than it got supporters to vote yes. And it drew critical volunteers away from Democratic GOTV efforts. (MoveOn made the same mistake in 2004.)

    Next up: Bonnie Campbell and the Nightmare of Ninety-Four.

    Possible Leach Opponent?

    Possible Leach Opponent?

    From David Loebsack:

    Some of you may already have heard that I am giving some thought to running against Leach in '06. I know there is at least one other person who is also "exploring" whether he should do this or not.

    Having worked on numerous campaigns in the past, including most of the recent campaigns for congress, I think I am aware of the hurdles facing anyone who might make the decision to take on Leach.

    At this point, I truly am exploring this. I invite folks to e-mail me expressing support, sympathy, disbelief, constructive comments, etc., etc. I will not make a decision until late summer or early fall, although if it appears before then as though this is likely to be little more than a quixotic venture on my part, I will refrain from putting anymore energy into this process.

    Finally, feel free to tell others who might have an interest that I am looking into this and that I can be reached via e-mail..." (

    Dave's a good Democrat and a good Deaniac and I wish him the best!

    Monday, March 21, 2005

    Recruiter-turned-peacenik hits nerve in N.C.

    Recruiter-turned-peacenik hits nerve in N.C.

    If you were young and tough and wanted a challenge, Jimmy Massey was the man to see. He was gung ho. He was Semper Fi. He was the strutting, cussing, tobacco-chewing Marine recruiter.

    The staff sergeant won scores of recruits in this and other patriotic mountain towns by talking courage, honor, commitment. Then, following his own adage — "you gotta walk the walk" — he went to Iraq.

    That was two years ago, before Massey left the Marines, returned to Waynesville, and began saying things about the war that make people wonder whether they really knew him in the first place...

    Why Schiavo is a cause celebre

    Why Schiavo is a cause celebre

    Just voted in the online poll on this story: "Should Congress intervene in the Schiavo case?" At the moment it's running 89 percent no. Not that it matters or is scientific, but it seems rather accurate.

    So why are the Republicans so strongly allying themselves with what appears to be an overwhelmingly unpopular position?

    "'Their gamble is that the general public will be divided on the issue and will not vote on the subject come 2006, but that the Republican-base ... group of conservative Christians will remember this vote forever,' says Larry Sabato, a political scientist at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville."

    Nailed it. This is a classic example of an issue where strength of opinion outweighs the numbers. That 89 percent likely have varying feelings on right to die, ranging from activism to mild support. And those mild supporters may well vote for someone who's in the Save (sic) Terri faction based on other issues. Far too often, libertarian leaning voters support cultural conservative Republicans bases on economic issues (that "what's in it for me" of taxation.)

    But that 11 percent - they'll base their entire voting decision based on issues like these. So there's little to no gain in being with the majority, and potential for great loss in irking the minority. This is why ERA died in the late 70s, and in retrospect that looks like the first big shot in the Kulturkampf.

    AFTERNOON UPDATE: All over the blogosphere; MyDD has the must read. It's interesting how much left blogging on this one is prefaced with reluctance: "I wan't going to write about this, but."

    And I just realized one more reason this is feeling so much like Elian Gonzalez: the calendar. Once again this frenzy is climaxing right at Easter, which might explain the Messianic zeal...

    Iowa lags in electing women to top leadership posts

    Iowa lags in electing women to top leadership posts

    Not much to add except there is one factual oops: in mentioning the most recent women to run for COngress they omit Joyce Schulte, Steve King's 2004 opponent.

    And a quote or two from Lynn Cutler or Elaine Baxter would have been nice.


    Who Will Free Fiona Apple?

    Who Will Free Fiona Apple?

    "Suddenly on the Internet: A flood of unreleased bootlegs sung by a goddess. What gives?"

    Fascinating story. I noticed something was going on but didn't know why. Short version: Niche artist records quirky third album. Corporate weasels refuse to release it. Two years later, it's all over the net.

    Sunday, March 20, 2005

    Michael Schiavo: 'Come down, President Bush'

    Michael Schiavo: 'Come down, President Bush'

    In the midst of the circus, and what must be an awful mess of emotion, Michael Schiavo has the most intelligent comment of the day:

    'Why doesn't Congress worry about people not having health insurance? Or the budget? Let's talk about all the children who don't have homes.'"

    Hullabaloo has a nice summary of Republican hypocrisy on this issue.

    Solstice on Iowa's Smallest Farm

    Solstice on Iowa's Smallest Farm

    Spring is here, or at least near, and I took a chance on putting some seeds in the ground of my "garden annex," another bed next to last year's Smallest Farm. Catnip is pretty cold-hardy so that was no big deal. I also tossed out a few seeds from packets that dated back two or more years to the garden that never happened, just to see if some carrots, lettuce, spinach or onions will volunteer.

    The Smallest farm now has a half dozen cloves of garlic in the ground, surrounding a spot that's designated for a tomato plant. But the real harbinger of spring is twenty little potted pea seeds, in old yogurt cups. I can haul them in if we get a hard freeze. Everyone says you can't transplant legumes but I've always had great luck with it. Built my fence and figured out how to cram more bushels per acre into the Smallest Farm.

    I'm going to try beans again this year, just to see if I have better luck.

    I just tracked down a piece of music that's eluded me for years: the nine minute extended version of "Bluebird" by Buffalo Springfield. It was only on a long-deleted double album compilation that I used to bring in myself to play on my college radio show. They didn't even put in on the box set. Neil Young and Stephen Stills, barely out of their teens, sound like they're playing about a hundred guitars each all at once.


    Cast of Characters Developing in New Mob Case

    Cast of Characters Developing in New Mob Case

    TalkLeft has a nice roundup of the Eppolito and Caracappa cops as hit men case. We see some familiar characters - Bruce Cutler from the Gotti trals is representing one of the cops. And the guy who ratted them out is described, I kid youse not as: "A wiry man, compared by one associate to the Hyman Roth character in the film "The Godfather Part II..." But that was just his appearance. It had NOTHING to DO with BUSINESS.

    The excellent Gangland News, which specializes in dis dere sorta t'ing, has more detail. Too much even to excerpt; the cast of characters includes Gaspipe Casso, Sammy the Bull, Little Al, Fat Pete, Frankie Fapp (LOVE those nicknames) and even Gotti. I', blogrolling it - there should be good reading for months.

    Saturday, March 19, 2005

    Leach votes for Bush budget again

    Leach votes for Bush budget again

    Dave Franker, Jim Leach's opponent last year, notes:
    "Thursday in the U.S. House of Representatives the George W. Bush FY06 federal budget, a budget that, as you have read at length in the past weeks, guts one progressive Democratic priority after another, was passed - barely - 218-214.

    30 year Republican Congressman Jim Leach, who has carried Johnson County in each of the last 4 elections, once again (5th time in 5 years) supported the George W. Bush budget and its priorities in a close vote...

    Leach will doubtless "fight" for one or two minor changes here or there in a federal budget that belies hundreds of Bush priorities, all the while repeating his oft self-proclaimed but meaningless "moderate" mantra.

    This, in a nutshell, is the real rap on Leach. He throws liberals a lot of bones when it's meaningless, when the margin is 300 to 100. But when it's close, when it most matters, he's the Jim Leach who's been a Bush family ally for 35 years, back to the days he worked for George HW at the UN.

    Switch just two votes, and that budget is a tie. And the 20 to 25 percent of Democrats who voted for Leach instead of Franker, the academic types who are all interested in international relations and want to reward Leach for a vote agains the Iraq war that while good was ultimately meaningless, need to examine the significance of this.

    218 to 214 is the REAL Jim Leach. When push comes to shove, he's a Republican and he must go.

    Some favorite Firefox things

    Some favorite Firefox things

    Since it's a gloomy Saturday morning I'm sitting at my computer contemplating the good things about the Firefox browser.

  • Built in popup stopping. Say no more.

  • The Adblock extension. I've used it often enough now that it's stripping out a fair precentage of ads. Which in theory marginally increases speed since you're not downloading the ads. The trick is to tweak each entry: strip out the long, full file name and put a wild-card * right after whatever level directory has ad or advertising in the name.

  • ForecastFox. A weather bug that's not adware. You can set it to rotate through different places. Mine has the whole extended family; it's a neat little way to use the technology to feel connected knowing your brother has snow in Minnesota while you have drizzle in Iowa.

  • The Bookmarks Toolbar. For your absolute most important constant use links. Mine has my blog stats, Ping-O-Matic, the Technorati tag builder, and my bank, among others.

  • Tabs are easier to manage than multiple windows. Though I have noticed that if I've had the browser open for a LONG time - I'm a leave the computer on person and I'm talking about DAYS now - there tends to be a lot of memory in use. Right now I've got 60 meg in use, and two windows open. One is a Blog This! window. The other had three tabs open, and when I closed one tab the memory use didn't drop. That may just be an artifact of my user style. I often have as many as five tabs going.

  • And it's Non-Microsoft! Of course if I were really gutsy I'd dust off that Linux disk that's sat on my shelf for a year... either I'm chicken or too Microsoft Office addicted.

  • Friday, March 18, 2005

    Army vice chief of staff worried about future of all-volunteer military

    Army vice chief of staff worried about future of all-volunteer military

    “The all-volunteer force is close to breaking right now,” said retired Maj. Gen. Edward Atkeson, now a prolific author on military affairs and a senior fellow at the Institute of Land Warfare. “When it does break, that’s when you’ll see the draft come back.”

    And THAT'S when you'll see the anti-war movemt kick into high gear...

    Today's Bad News on Choice

    Today's Bad News on Choice

  • "Senate Democrats, saying they are seeking common ground in the nation's divisive abortion debate, offered a pregnancy prevention measure in the Senate Thursday night but it was defeated 53-47 on mostly party lines.

    The measure, offered as an amendment in the Senate budget debate, included more funding for family planning, teen pregnancy programs and education about emergency contraception. It also would have expanded health insurance coverage of prescription birth control..."

  • South Dakota Governor Michael Rounds signed a series of antiabortion bills, including one that requires doctors to tell women that the procedure ends the lives of humans..."

    We'll pause for a moment for a word from that seemingly unlikely feminist philosopher, Gwen Stefani:

    "Cause I'm just a girl, little 'ol me
    Don't let me out of your sight
    I'm just a girl, all pretty and petite
    So don't let me have any rights..."

    Even more true now than it was a decade ago when she wrote it. No wonder Terri Schiavo is Miss Thing of the moment on the right. They seem to like brain dead women.

    UPDATE 1: The latest move is subpoenaing her in an attempt to subvert the court order to remove the feeding tube. Which leads to this bizarre, cringe-inducing headline: GOP Asks Brain-Damaged Woman to Testify. That would be just about right.

    Wonder how concerned about her "life" they'd be if she had an ectopic pregnancy?

    UPDATE 2: As they pull the plug, I'm still bewildered by this bizarre fight. There's no real "winners." The husband is reviled for doing what he thinks is right, the parents let themselved be used as pawns out of their own genuine grief and irrational denial. And the people who are making the most noise have no real stake in the woman herself.

  • 2008 Rumblings, Cheesehead Style

    2008 Rumblings, Cheesehead Style

    Russ Feingold's hometown paper reports: "His Senate campaign registered the domain name for the Web site as well as the .org and .net versions. And, no, he's not facing re-election to the Senate that year..."

    Friday Frist Cat Blogging

    Friday Frist Cat Blogging

    Hello Children! For some reason, one of my favorite laboratory felines seems to have run away from me. Will you please help me find him before he gets hurt by someone else? Thanks!

    Thursday, March 17, 2005

    Wednesday, March 16, 2005

    The latest on the Nuclear Option

    The latest on the Nuclear Option

    Blatant cribbing from Roll Call:

    "Roll Call's Paul Kane writes that Sen. Trent Lott, while working with Sens. Santorum and Hatch on whipping the rules change, has also met with Sen. Nelson six times recently to work on a compromise to avoid the train wreck. And, poor thing, sounds like he's thrown up his hands because Sen. Reid's attitude has just plain left Republicans with no other choice.

    "Lott has a one-page, three-paragraph draft of his proposed compromise he carries in his coat pocket."

    "The basic framework calls for an up-or-down vote on all judicial nominees, which meets the current GOP demand. In exchange, Republicans would admit their role in denying a vote to 60 Clinton administration nominees by delay tactics in the Judiciary Committee — setting up a certain time frame in which the panel must consider each nominee."

    Seems it was Lott who first publicized the term "nuclear option." At least they aren't saying nuke-u-ler.

    We seem to be getting close to who'll blink first here. And it worries me. While the war over judicial nominees is extra-critical, the immediate battle is over Senate rules which is completely inside baseball.

    It's a catch-22: a slowdown by Senate Dems may be the only way to keep radical conservatives off the bench, but will the GOP noise machine make Democrats look as bad as Newt Gingrich looked in the `95 government shutdown? That, as you may recall, was the beginning of the end for the "Revolution of `94." Their reach exceeded their grasp. And they were playing offense at the time; we're on defense and in an even weaker position.

    Making things worse, the mainstream media, hobbled by "objectivity," won't be able to point out that it's the Republicans that have shattered the traditions of collegiality and bipartisanship.

    But the only other answer may be admitting defeat for now, retreating strategically, carefully choosing battles and duking it out at the ballot box. Meantime, these nasty judges settle in for life.

    I have no answers for Harry Reid and the troops, yet I hope they see the potential pitfalls.

    Kill the Cats

    Kill the Cats

    The inconvenient truth is that cats kill more American birds, particularly songbirds, than DDT and pesticides ever did.

    Wisconsin is considering allowing residents to shoot feral cats in part because a respected study found that felines kill between 7.8 million and 217 million birds in Wisconsin alone. Data from a Michigan study suggest that some 75 million birds are killed there just in the summer alone.

    A non-random survey of four Feline-Americans finds 100% opposition to this. Must be a plot by Bill Frist supporters.

    Of course, according to the stories my northwoods Wisconsin relatives used to tell, kitty killing is long since commonplace.

    Border vigil 'not a call to arms'

    Border vigil 'not a call to arms'

    Hey, isn't "vigil" the root word of "vigilante"?

    More than 1,000 volunteers are expected to take part in a monthlong vigil on the Arizona-Mexico border in what organizers said yesterday will be a peaceful protest of the government's failure to control illegal immigration, complete with guidelines on how to avoid confrontations and handle the press.

    According to the guidelines, volunteers will not be permitted to carry rifles, but will be allowed to carry handguns if they are licensed to do so...

    The story's pretty one-sided, what more do you expect from the Moonie Times. But no one else seems to be picking up on this at the moment. Monitoring...

    Tuesday, March 15, 2005

    Gay Marriage: California, Iowa

    Gay Marriage: California, Iowa

    Media coverage from Los Angeles and San Francisco.

    More analysis from Iowa City will be... focused on Iowa. House just passed a gay-marriage ban amendment. 54-44. Three Republicans voted no. The Dems could have won this. But seven Democrats took the low road.

    Four were from rural districts, but I won't give them a pass. I RAN in a rural district and while I didn't win I didn't feel the need to sink to the least common denominator. Some issues are worth taking a stand and while I chickened out on a couple, I like to think this one is worth fighting for, worth being a LEADER on.

    A Democrat just last year won a later version of my district by beating my old opponent - and he voted No. So a Hee-Haw salute tonight to Rep. Nathan Reichardt of Muscatine. SAAAAL-OOT. (and thanks to the Johnson County delegation too)

    It's the three urban Democrats - Paul Shomshor of Council Bluffs, Wayne Ford of Des Moines and Swati Dandekar of Marion - that I'm most disappointed in. I've got no great love for Shomshor- he was all set to head up Lieberman's campaign in Iowa until Joementum bailed on the caucuses, so obviously he's a cultural Neanderthal. But I expected better things from Wayne and Swati.

    This thing should die in the 25-25 Senate. And you could argue that in a Democratic House it never would have come up. Probably true. But that still doesn't make it right to vote wrong.


    Today's Interesting Items

    Too many things too weird to write:

  • Jeb Bush for Veep?

  • Reid, Frist clash over judges: "American politics has devolved into a grim battle between two approximately equal-size armies in a take-no-prisoners culture war..."

  • Amanda Marcotte at XXblog rips Minnesota a new one for their proposed anti-choice legislation. She's also guesting at Pandagon.

  • Perpetual Gerrymander Cajun Style

    Perpetual Gerrymander Cajun Style

    BAM! Just the briefest nibble of shrimp creole: "Roll Call's Chris Cillizza looks at the possibility of a revamp of Louisiana's congressional districts, which appears to rest with Gov. Kathleen Blanco (D), who seems on the fence."

    UPDATE: Probably won't happen; Blanco's more concerned about the re-elect and internal Louisiana stuff than about the congressional delegation. I'm not sure what the potential gain would be.

    Scalia Bashes Banning of Juvenile Death Penalty

    Scalia Bashes Banning of Juvenile Death Penalty

    I'd let this Scalia speech slide until TalkLeft - one of the greats in the blogosphere - used it as a handle for Antonin Scalia's Greatest Hits. And you couldn't squeeze it onto one CD, you'd need a box set.

    "If you think aficionados of a living Constitution want to bring you flexibility, think again," Scalia told an audience at the Woodrow Wilson Center, a Washington think tank. "You think the death penalty is a good idea? Persuade your fellow citizens to adopt it. You want a right to abortion? Persuade your fellow citizens and enact it. That's flexibility." "Why in the world would you have it interpreted by nine lawyers?"

    It's frightening that someone with a jurisprudence this radical could concievably be Chief Justice within the year. I'm sure it's even scarier if you're not a straight white male like me.

    Monday, March 14, 2005

    Calif. judge strikes down gay marriage ban

    MSNBC - Calif. judge strikes down gay marriage ban

    Huge. Breaking.

    Arnold can't dodge; he's live on Hardball in 45 minutes...

    FOLLOWUP: Despite California's vote for a gay marriage ban, Schwarzenegger would probably be the only politician with enough popularity and charisma to get away with calling his constituents bigots. Unfortunately he didn't do that. But he did seem to make it clear he's not gonna fight this man-on-dog style and seemed to hope Californians would "change their minds" (the phrase popped up a couple times). Arnold may be one of the only Republicans who doesn't NEED the queer-bashing hate mongering in order to win.

    EVERY court ruling on this subject hs been in favor of equal rights. And I'm not going to call opposoition to it anything other than what it is. It's bigotry. That's right. If you don't think gay people deserve the same rights as everyone else, including the right to have their life partner sanctioned with equality, you are a redneck primitive narrow-minded bigoted asshole. And your "religion" does not give you the right to be a bigot. And no excuses about being too "old" to accepted a changing society. You're a bigot. Join the 21st Century NOW.

    My preferred solution remains what it has been: get government out of the marriage business, make everything a civil union, and let the churches duke it out internally. "But then people will marry their roommates just to get health care!" Well, then, GIVE EVERYBODY HEALTH CARE and it won't be an issue! Jeez, WHY can't this be a civilized country like Canada!

    I'll take Potpurri for $100, Alex

    I'll take Potpurri for $100, Alex

    Today's miscellany:

  • Talking Points Memo cites the pay to play Roll Call: former NAACP chair Kweisi Mfume to run for the Sarbanes senate seat... UPDATE: Now it's official.

  • San Francisco supervisor blogging: Accessibility is nice. Too bad Dharma didn't win that special election, though.

    Fight Over Dean Records Goes Before Court: Fourteen months ago people CARED (sigh)...

  • And Wonkette reports that hard-hitting journalist Brenda Starr is taking on W's journalist-for-hire scandal. Judge Parker and Mary Worth were unavailable for comment.

  • Primary wrangling

    Primary wrangling

    Jerome Armstrong at MyDD discusses the meeting of the DNC Commission on Presidential Nominations:

    "The real thrust is to grandfather in Iowa and NH in '08, in return for moving to a rotation by '12, and that MI is the primary hammer with which to force NH to come to the table. NH'ites are pretty stubborn though, and may just push their primary into '07 rather than letting their 'first in the nation' status give way. "

    Iowa did itself no favors in 2004 by flipping from Blue to Red in November. It would have been better for us had Kerry WON; he would have owed us one even WITH a November loss. But instead we have most of the blogosphere (like me still broken-hearted over Dean's loss) angry at us for de facto nominating Kerry.

    I'd not be shocked if we don't even get grandfathered in for 2008. New Hampshire might - note that they were the only state to flip from Red to Blue. But the caucuses had some serious procedural weaknesses. Disorganization (we tried our best), bad lists (inflicted on the locals by the state party), and - this could be the fatal flaw - no absentee procedure.

    It was fun while it lasted. Here's the take from Jane Norman at the Register.

    Battle on Teaching Evolution Sharpens

    Battle on Teaching Evolution Sharpens

    Buried deep, a bold statement of the real agenda:

    "To fundamentalist Christians, Fox said, the fight to teach God's role in creation is becoming the essential front in America's culture war. The issue is on the agenda at every meeting of pastors he attends. If evolution's boosters can be forced to back down, he said, the Christian right's agenda will advance.

    'If you believe God created that baby, it makes it a whole lot harder to get rid of that baby,' Fox said. 'If you can cause enough doubt on evolution, liberalism will die.'"

    Where's Clarence Darrow when we need him?

    Sunday, March 13, 2005

    Big Boxes Blow Blog

    Big Boxes Blow Blog

    Welcome to the blogosphere, Garry:

    Candidate for City Council of Iowa City, Garry Klein, has created a blogspot to help deal with the new Walmart Supercenter scheduled to be built in Iowa City. Anyone who has concerns over Walmart issues (we all do), advice, or temper tantrums.....go there.

    Rice Denies '08 Presidential Aspirations

    Rice Denies '08 Presidential Aspirations

    As if she would rule out a candidacy, Rice said, "Oh, that's not fair, but ... I really can't imagine it."


    UPDATE: Sunday's version is:

    "I don't have any desire to run for president, " Rice said in an interview with "This Week" on ABC. "I don't intend to. I won't do it."

    A little stronger but not even CLOSE to Sherman Statement.

    Saturday, March 12, 2005

    California State Quarter First Reports

    California State Quarter First Reports

    I win again! I'm the biggest coin nerd in Iowa!

    Iowa: John Deeth of Iowa sent a report, received at Coin World March 7, of having found a roll of 2005-D California quarters available at a bank in Iowa City.

    Of course the REAL honors should go to the bank teller...

    Congress Mulls Cutting Food Aid to Poor

    Congress Mulls Cutting Food Aid to Poor

    "Cuts in food programs for the poor are getting support in Congress as an alternative to President Bush's idea of slicing billions of dollars from the payments that go to large farm operations."

    How shameless and evil can they get? Even Jello Biafra's reduction to the absurd doesn't seem implausible any more. And this is just one headline out of too many to count every day.

    If the penalty for poverty was jail, they'd at least have have to FEED people. Instead they seem intent on imposing the death penalty by starvation, lack-of-capital punishment.

    No Bail for Ex-Cops Accused of Mafia Ties

    No Bail for Ex-Cops Accused of Mafia Ties

    They seem to have been especially well-placed: "Caracappa, who helped found the NYPD's Organized Crime Homicide Unit, was the gatekeeper for information about Mafia killings investigated by the department's Major Case Squad. Prosecutors allege the detectives targeted four other mobsters on Casso's orders, and used their access to police information to give mob associates the names of three confidential informants who were later slain."

    Casso. That would be Lucchese family underboss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso. As I recall the nickname was for his youthful specialty of installing phony gas meters, and he hated the name...

    Friday, March 11, 2005

    Sarbanes to Forgo Another Senate Term

    Sarbanes to Forgo Another Senate Term

    "His departure signals the unofficial start of a wide-open season in Maryland politics to succeed him, a race that could also have ramifications on next year's governor's race."

    We should be able to hold this one. Any bets on when Mosh Pit Al will move back to Maryland?

    Dems talking up a Lieberman challenge

    Dems talking up a Lieberman challenge

    And look, here's a site: "Had enough of Joe Lieberman playing both sides of the aisle?" the site's home page asks. "Let's give the Left-Hating, War-Hawking, Bush-Kissing, Neo-Con, Torture Apologist the primary he deserves."

    Frist chased by headless laboratory cats

    Frist chased by headless laboratory cats

    Friday Frist Cat Blogging:

    Bill had purchased two lottery tickets and a package of Ho-Hos at a Washington 7-11 store when he noticed a gang of twenty headless laboratory cats lurching toward him in a threatening manner. The cats, believed to be remnants of Bill's days as an overeager medical student, stumbled forward in unison, gurgling from their neatly exposed larynxs. The correct spelling of "larynxs" is not important to this story.

    The cats gathered in formation and then begin the opening dance number from "Thriller"..."

    Thursday, March 10, 2005

    DeLay Treated for Irregular Heartbeat

    DeLay Treated for Irregular Heartbeat

    House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) was treated yesterday for a heart condition at Bethesda National Naval Medical Center, a spokesman said.

    How did they find it? Must have been buried somewhere under all the ethics violations...

    Two 'Goodfellas' Accused of Mob Hits While NY Cops

    Two 'Goodfellas' Accused of Mob Hits While NY Cops

    We ran everything. We paid off cops. We paid off lawyers. We paid off judges. Everybody had their hands out. Everything was for the taking. And now it's all over.

    About time for a good mob story here at the blog. And life imitates art imitates life:

    Two retired New York detectives were charged with secretly working for the Mafia while employed as police officers and undertaking 11 murders or attempted murders, prosecutors said on Thursday.

    In one of the most shocking accusations of police corruption ever in New York, Stephen Caracappa and Louis Eppolito were arrested on Wednesday evening for undertaking a series of Mafia murders, attempted murders, a kidnapping and various other crimes. The two were arrested in Las Vegas, where they now live.

    Eppolito, a New York police officer for more than two decades, also worked as an actor, playing the role of "Fat Andy" in the hit movie "Goodfellas" and playing character roles in several other Hollywood productions.

    How circular can you get? Even more: "In a story line almost straight from mob movies like "Goodfellas," the pair are accused of kidnapping James Hydell, bundling him in the trunk of a car..."

    AND they seem to have had the contract on Sammy the Bull too.

    Perpetual Gerrymander: Not in Illinois

    Perpetual Gerrymander: Not in Illinois

    During a Tuesday night meeting called by Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Ill.), nine of the delegation's 10 Democrats who attended concluded they should not to move forward with the redistricting idea being pushed by Reps. Rahm Emanuel and Jan Schakowsky.

    "The conclusion that was reached [Tuesday] night is we have more of a concern for the institution than we do our partisan concerns," Costello said Wednesday. "There's not a consensus. There are a few people in the General Assembly and a few people in the delegation that would like to proceed, but there's not a majority consensus on this so for the moment the issue is dead."

    He added: "Just because this was done in Texas doesn't make it right."

    What this tells me is: the GOP WANTS it worse. One of the reasons they've been winning stuff lately. We're fighting under Marquis of Queensbury rules; they're biting and crotch-kicking, and there are no referees.

    Firm Accused of Falsifying Survey Results

    ABC News: Firm Accused of Falsifying Survey Results

    "The firm's owner and manager told employees to alter poll data, prosecutors said. Managers told employees to 'talk to cats and dogs' when instructing them to fabricate the surveys, according to the indictment by a federal grand jury in New Haven."

    In that case they should have called my house! The opinions of Feline-Americans are just as valid as anyone elses, and they usually don't lie to pollsters or tell them "none of your business." In fact one Feline-American is agressively helping me type this very post, expressing strong opinions that more attention should be paid to the immediate affection needs of Feline-Americans. They would have also found high levels of support for increased cat food consumption, and strong opposition to Bill Frist.

    Seriously: this is no shocker. The ever-rising refusal rate and screen-out rate has no doubt put tremendous pressure on pollsters to complete surveys. And I don't know about the pay structure at this particular firm, but payment by the completed survey would not be unheard of.

    Wednesday, March 09, 2005

    World Bank, local impact?

    World Bank, local impact?

    Buried in the last paragraph: "Others said by the Times to be under consideration for the (World Bank) post include Randall Tobias, former head of Eli Lilly & Co. (Research) and the administration's coordinator on AIDS; John Taylor, the top-ranking Treasury official for international affairs, and Rep. James A. Leach, R-Iowa, an expert on aid and development..."

    Now THAT would make this year more interesting in eastern Iowa.

    Police chief to retire

    Police chief to retire

    "However, Winkelhake said his time in Iowa City was not without its controversies. He cited the shooting by Iowa City police officer Jeffrey Gillaspie of Eric Shaw on Aug. 30, 1996. . .

    'That's got to be one of the worst things that could happen to a law enforcement agency,' Winkelhake said."

    To a law enforcement agency. Hm. It's also pretty bad for the guy GETTING SHOT AND KILLED.

    This retirement ought to make this year in Iowa City more interesting and may help put the Iowa City War On Drugs And Young People back on the front burner. I want a top cop who's going to say "21 is an unrealistic drinking age and I'm not going to waste the city's time and resources." Yeah. I know I'm weird. I still want that, though.

    Tuesday, March 08, 2005

    Young Blacks, Females Saying No to Army

    Young Blacks, Females Saying No to Army

    "For both groups, concern about being sent to fight in Iraq is the major turnoff, according to a series of unpublicized studies done for the Army over the past year and a half.

    "More African-Americans identify having to fight for a cause they don't support as a barrier to military service," concluded an August 2004 study for the Army. It also said attitudes toward the Army among all groups of American youth have grown more negative in recent years.

    "In the past, barriers were about inconvenience or preference for another life choice," the study said. "Now they have switched to something quite different: fear of death or injury."

    Meanwhile, here's a neat story about peace activists working as "counter-recruiters".

    Gore Out: A Rousing Chorus Of A Dirty Record

    Gore Out: A Rousing Chorus Of A Dirty Record

    "The 2008 Presidential campaign will not include Al Gore. I'm reporting tonight that the former Vice President and 2000 Democratic Presidential nominee will not run for President. I've been given this scoop from a perfect source who informed me that the purpose of this disclosure at this time is to end speculation about a campaign that will never occur." - Chris Matthews, MSNBC

    And I am a happy, happy man doing a happy, happy dance to a dirty, dirty record.

    So is my Gore gripe ancient history? Looks like not: When Matthews and guests began discussing Gore's non-candidacy, here was the first thing out of Matthew's mouth:

    MATTHEWS: Now a potentially big shakeup in the ‘08 race for president.

    In a HARDBALL exclusive tonight, I reported that former Vice President Al Gore will not be a candidate for president in the year 2008.

    Chuck Todd is the editor in chief of “The Hotline,” called the Bible of politics and certainly the tom-tom drums of politics.


    MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Chuck, Gore out, does that surprise you?

    CHUCK TODD, EDITOR IN CHIEF, “THE HOTLINE”: It does a little bit.

    I thought that he, considering what—how he won, in his mind, in 2000, and how John Kerry lost, and how John Kerry lost, some of this on the values stuff—Tipper Gore, she was talking about this in the ‘80s.

    MATTHEWS: Oh, about the bad words on radios.

    TODD: About moral values and the bad words.

    MATTHEWS: Demonic words and all that stuff.

    TODD: It all felt like there was this whole sort of...

    MATTHEWS: She was ahead of her time.

    Twenty years later and it's STILL the first thing associated with Gore. And given the nature of this story, so obviously a plant from Gore himself - was that spin a plant, too? Is that how Gore WANTS to be seen, the direction he wants the party to go?

    Now all I need to make me happy is to see Joe Lieberman knocked off in a primary.

    Republicans Say Dumb Things

    Republicans Say Dumb Things

    At a Lincoln Day Dinner in Tennessee over the weekend, Senator Lindsay Graham, doing his best impression of Trent Lott, made the following comment:

    "We don't do Lincoln Day Dinners in South Carolina. It's nothing personal, but it takes awhile to get over things."

    Do they EVER learn? Looks like Strom Thurmond's successor is following in Trent Lott's footsteps.

    Meanwhile in a followup, Raw Story notes that Rep. Jim Gibbons (R-NV), who suggested that anti-war activists should go to Iraq to act as “human shields” (and later admitted to ripping off the speech), NOW appears to have taken his speech link off his web site. (At last check the individual speeches were still there IF you had the direct URL to each file).

    AND "Some might find it odd that the Bush administration feels that our best representative to the United Nations would be someone who has joked (harmlessly joked!) that the U.N. could lose ten stories and 'it wouldn't make a bit of difference...'"

    Monday, March 07, 2005

    Perpetual Gerrymander: The next shot is fired

    Perpetual Gerrymander: The next shot is fired

    And this time Democrats are shooting back:

    In retaliation for similar Republican efforts in other states, two Democratic U.S. representatives are pitching the idea of redrawing congressional districts in Illinois, illustrating a growing partisan split among a once-collegial congressional delegation.

    U.S. Reps. Rahm Emanuel, of Chicago, and Jan Schakowsky, of Evanston, want Democrats to hold a larger number of seats in a state with a Democratic General Assembly and governor and that backed Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in the last election...

    State-side politics may head this off - but it's one more step in the escalating Total War. Anything once regulated solely by tradition and collegiality is now fair game.

    Medical residents - and election workers?

    Medical residents - and election workers?

    A blogger named Jane Galt has apparantly been discussing the insane hours that medical residents work and notes:

    No matter how high your IQ, how young your heart, how charged your system with adrenaline, when you've been awake for 24 hours . . .

    You. Are. Stupid.

    Your reactions slow down. Your memory gets fuzzy. You become prone to make (bad) snap decisions. You are dangerously willing to cut corners if it will get you home to bed. You have difficulty keeping the thread of what you are doing, forcing you to go back and do it again. It takes longer--a lot longer--for you to diagnose even familiar problems given a set of symptoms.

    Having supervised others on little sleep, I can readily state that anyone who thinks he was fine after 24 hours without sleep is either lying, or has had his memory permanently impaired by sleep deprivation. You may be the smartest guy in the whole world, but around hour 16 you began dropping 10 IQ points an hour.

    As my regular readers know I work in the election office. I was averaging close to 80 hours a week the last month before the election.

    And all I'll say is: this principle could explain more problems than hanging chads, black box voting and deliberate malice put together...

    MyDD: 2008 Primaries Will Be Just As Frontloaded as 2004

    MyDD: 2008 Primaries Will Be Just As Frontloaded as 2004

    Interesting discussion: "If Clinton wins either Iowa or New Hampshire, she would basically seal the nomination on February 5th, 2008. If someone else wins both Iowa and New Hampshire, that person would probably seal the nomination on February 5th."

    And the reporter's fantasy: "If two people who are not Hillary Clinton split Iowa and New Hampshire, then look out for a wild, long lasting primary season that might not be decided until the convention..."

    The comments are worth the price of admission (OK it's free) and reasonably thoughtful. The Iowa bashing hasn't started... yet.

    Lieberman the Centrist Ruffles Democratic Feathers

    Lieberman the Centrist Ruffles Democratic Feathers

    Just five years ago, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut was praised for his cross-party appeal as the vice presidential candidate on a Democratic ticket that won the popular vote.

    Now some in Mr. Lieberman's home state wonder if he qualifies as a Democrat at all.

    See? In 2000 I wasn't an apostate - I was just ahead of my time! Now where was that primary challenger I was looking for...

    Monday Morning 2008 Roundup

    Monday Morning 2008 Roundup

  • The Union Leader: Frist packs house in city Preumably the house was not packed with cat lovers.

  • Clinton Vies With Bush For Hawkishness on War: "Exhibiting a knack for political repositioning that has some Republicans tremulous about 2008, Senator Clinton nearly matched President Bush's hawkishness in her remarks to the Jewish Community Relations Council yesterday morning, hours before she enthusiastically denounced his position on abortion at New York University in the afternoon..."

  • Ted Kennedy 'respects' Hillary, but Kerry gets his vote

  • Also in Boston, the Globe looks at Romney family history. The word "brainwashed" does not appear until the third of three pages.

  • Roadblocks ahead for Giuliani: Robert Novak: "Lott, who likes and admires Giuliani, told him that the New Yorker's support for abortion, homosexual rights and gay marriage are heavy burdens for a Republican to carry nationally. Giuliani protested that he never supported same-sex marriage, only civil unions. Lott advised that in Mississippi, they don't see any difference between gay marriage and civil unions." Novak is evil but must be at the top of the leak list again.

  • Edwards in Kansas and Missouri; if the Whig Party ever makes a comeback is taken.

  • Daddy Bush tells Newsweek Hillary will run and Jeb will not. I'm still betting heavily on Jeb being the nominee in `08 under the Republican Principle of Whose Turn Is It.