Saturday, April 30, 2005

Judge for governor in 2006?

Judge for governor in 2006?

David Yepsen is handed a trial balloon and floats it:

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Patty Judge said Thursday she is thinking of running for governor next year. The 62-year-old Albia Democrat said in an interview she plans to form an exploratory committee to help her consider the options and will make a final decision on a candidacy by late summer or fall...

Friday, April 29, 2005

Blair in appeal to protest voters

Blair in appeal to protest voters

Six days to go and even Blair looks bored with running against the Even Worse party, the Complacency Party and the Protest Party. The "Iraq War was illegal" revelations don't seem to have dented Labour's lead.

The ultimate protest vote would be for the Monster Raving Loony Party, but the Times seems to have its knickers in a knot about that, declaring the Loonies UnFunny.

Wellstone campaign fliers appear in mailboxes

Wellstone campaign fliers appear in mailboxes

You know, I don't think I'm ever going to get over it:

Post office and Minnesota DFL officials are baffled after hearing that several people received fliers for the late Sen. Paul Wellstone 2 1/2 years after Wellstone died in a plane crash. At least three Minnesota City residents received the mailings, which were paid for by the Minnesota DFL.

Blogging on the road again

Blogging on the road again

The rental vehicle (a pickup truck with Nebraska plates) and I are off to LaCrosse and Madison this weekend.

The parental lilac bushes are reportedly in bloom so I get one last look/smell of that befor the house is sold.

Sunday night is the hometown Garbage show. Well, the 3/4 hometown show anyway and I'm not likely to fly to Scotland anytime soon.

The big vehicle means room for the bike so I can check out the hometown trails as well.

Stay tuned for road reports, and a Garbage review Monday...

Brando Items to Be Auctioned

Marlon Brando Items to Be Auctioned

And the lead is inevitable:

Marlon Brando fans, it's time to make an offer that can't be refused. More than 250 items, including Brando's annotated script from 1972's ``The Godfather'' and a letter from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. urging his participation in a civil rights march, will be auctioned June 30. The items are being put up for bid by Brando's estate.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

What's the Matter with Liberals?

What's the Matter with Liberals?

Donkey Rising highlighted this from the New York Times Review of Books. It dares to mention the C word: class. Only class in increasingly defined in cultural, not economic, terms. The Democrat's inability to deal with this is exceeded only by the GOP's shameless exploitation.

The whole things is a must read, here's a taste:

"The NRA came up with an image that brilliantly encapsulated the whole thing: an elaborately clipped French poodle in a pink bow and a Kerry-for-president sweater over the slogan 'That dog don't hunt.'

And now it was the drawling son of 1992's aristocrat who was drawing the adoring throngs in the shuttered mill towns and coal-mining regions. It was the committed enemy of organized labor whose prayerful public performances persuaded so many that he 'shares our values.' It was the man who had slashed taxes on inherited fortunes and dividends who was said to be, in the election's most telling refrain, 'one of us.'

George W. Bush was authentic; John Forbes Kerry, like all liberals, was an affected toff, a Boston Brahmin who knew nothing of the struggles of average folks. Again and again, in the course of the electoral battle, I heard striking tales of this tragically inverted form of class consciousness: of a cleaning lady who voted for Bush because she could never support a rich man for president. Of the numerous people who lost their cable TV because of nonpayment but who nevertheless sported Bush stickers on their cars.

The most poignant, though, was one I saw with my own eyes: the state of West Virginia, one of the poorest in the nation, in the process of transforming itself into a conservative redoubt. This is a place where the largest private-sector employer is Wal-Mart and where decades of bloody fights between workers and mine owners gave rise to a particularly stubborn form of class consciousness. It does not stand to gain much from Bush's tax cuts and his crackdown on labor unions. But if class is a matter of cultural authenticity rather than material interests, John Kerry stood about as much of a chance there as the NRA's poodle did of retrieving a downed duck. As I toured the state's valleys and isolated mining towns, I spotted Bush posters adorning even the humblest of dwellings and mobile homes."

What's the answer? How do you win these folks back without selling out on substance? Are their against-self-interest votes based on the actual substance of God, guns and guts, or is it the cultural symbolism that does it?

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Another stab at the dollar coin?

Another stab at the dollar coin?

The idea steals a page from the popular 50 State Quarters series, in which the engraving on the 25-cent piece rotates to honor all the states. That legislation was also the brainchild of Rep. Castle.

The subjects depicted on the dollar coins would be the U.S. presidents. The plan is to introduce four new ones a year beginning in 2007, honoring each of the nation's chief executives in the order of their service...

Thus wrecking the Simpsons' Lesser Known Presidents Song:

We are the mediocre presidents, you won't find our faces on dollars or on cents!
There's Taylor, there's Tyler, there's Fillmore and there's Hayes.
There's William Henry Harrison, 'I died in thirty days!'

Jail or Packers?

Jail or Packers?

As Jack Benny said when the robber asked "your money or your life," I'm thinking, I'm thinking:

It's a choice that could give pause to some Green Bay Packers fans. A judge ordered a woman convicted of theft to decide whether to spend 90 days in jail or donate her family's Packers tickets next season to charity.

Sharon E. Rosenthal, 59, took more than $3,000 from labor union accounts before she left the organization, according to a criminal complaint. She was sentenced Friday in Winnebago County Circuit Court on one felony count of theft.

Judge Scott Woldt offered her the decision to either serve the jail time or donate her family's four seats in the Packers' three-game season package to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

The jail time or the ticket donation will occur as part of Rosenthal's overall two-year period of probation.

UPDATE: No jail, no Packers, she gave up the tickets. Some people are just fair-weather fans.


Understanding the UK Media

Understanding the UK Media

Nice analysis at MyDD today as part of the 8 Days Out UK roundup.

American Tactics watch: it seems push polling has arrived in the UK/

And this interesting analysis:

"If you want a Labour government, vote Liberal Democrat. If you want a Conservative government, vote Labour. If you want a Liberal Democrat government, vote Tory. Recite that every morning for a week."

The Guardian collects the best and worst posters of the campaign.

And insert your Chicago punchline here:

Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labour party has apologised for canvassing voters heading to the funeral of a family member.

Carol Hughes was in a black limousine with her daughter heading to her father's funeral when party canvassers approached to encourage them to vote for Labour.

The party said the canvassers had mistaken the potential voters for a wedding party. Their local candidate, member of parliament David Drew, had written to say sorry.

Kinky in TX

Kinky in TX

No, not like that:

"Keep an eye on author-singer Kinky Friedman later this week. He's expected to harvest help in his independent gubernatorial bid from someone who helped professional wrestler Jesse Ventura win in Minnesota...

I never got to play Kinky Friedman on the radio in my country DJ days:

Who else could have written a country song about the Holocaust ("Ride 'Em Jewboy"), or about a human being kept in a cage as part of a circus "Wild Man From Borneo"]?

Friedman appears likely to be the first independent candidate to qualify for the Texas ballot in the 100 years since the state started printing the ballots.

Here's the official site...

The New Independent Voter

The New Independent Voter

A nasty undemocratic confession: I'm somewhat contemptuous of voters who are defiant independens, who "vote the person not the party." I'm not proud of it but I can't deny it. My gut feeling is that these voters either 1) just aren't tuned into the process enough to recognize the very real differences between the two major parties; or 2) really lean one way or the other but have been socialized not to admit it, that it's "bad manners" to be partisan.

This article at Donkey Rising gives me some support for #2:

The recent trend in presidential voting among independents is consistent with another trend in this group. Political scientists have long recognized that most independent identifiers are not totally neutral toward the two major parties. The large majority of independents lean toward one party or the other, and these leaning independents vote overwhelmingly for the party that they lean toward. In 2004, for example, according to the ANES, 88 percent of independent Democrats voted for John Kerry while 85 percent of independent Republicans voted for George Bush.

In 2004, 45 percent of independents expressed a preference for the Democratic Party while only 30 percent expressed a preference for the Republican Party.

This illustrates several interesting things. First off, it means 75% of independents are actually partisans, albiet mild partisans.

It also means we need to factor these leaners in. The study showed the elctorate self-IDing as 32% Democratic, 29% GOP, and 38% "independent" (sic). But break out the leaners, and factor in slighly lower turnout among self-IDd independents, and you have an electorate that's about 49% Democratic, 41% Republican, and only 9% pure "independent" (sic).

Important implications: It's about base and turnout, and that's a battle that despite great Democratic efforts the GOP won. Fewer votes in the middle, where Kerry was looking, are up for grabs, and in the present party alignment a Johnson or Reagan sized landslide is impossible.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Bald truth about attracting voters

Bald truth about attracting voters

Tony Blair might believe that a strong economy and record investment in public services are helping Labour to sustain a healthy lead in the opinion polls.

But some believe the fact that he has a fuller head of hair than his Conservative counterpart may tip a few floating voters mulling over the merits of Labour and the Tories his way.

This might seem trivial nonsense - but research from the early 1990s found that the proportion of bald men making it to elected office in the US was four times less than the number of follicularly challenged males in the population at large.

The last time a bald politician was elected to Number 10 was Winston Churchill in 1951 - and he was up against the equally receded Clement Attlee.

Our last bald Comamnder in Chief was Ford, though you have to go back to Ike to find one who was elected (and he beat Adlai Stevenson whose nickname "Egghead" was applicable to both the interior and exterior of said head).

This brings back some humorous memories of Al Gore's combover. It doesn't, however, explain my defeat. At 32, I still had a reasonably full head of hair, while my mid-60s opponent was receding a bit. But not nearly as bad as I am now at 41.

Or maybe it was something else:

Not that all hair is a good thing. The last prime minister to sport a moustache was Harold Macmillan in the early 1960s, and the last bearded occupant of Number 10 was David Lloyd George, who left office in 1922.

And in America it would be Taft and Benjamin Harrison...

But back to the UK and back to baldness. The Scottish National Party got some voters in a snit using the all-American tool of pre-recorded phone calls from their most prominent supporter: "Hello there. This is Sean Connery. No, it's not a joke - unfortunately the real joke is the Labour party." Years and baldness have not deterred the appeal of the only REAL 007, so there may be hope for us all.

The big story of the day appears to be the defection ofLabour MP Brian Sedgemore to the Lib Dems. Sedgemore was "standing down" this election. "Stand down" is Britspeak for not running, er, standing again. Fans of alt-80s music may recall the great English Beat single "Stand Down Margaret", which somehow was never a US hit.

Mr Sedgemore, who is standing down from parliament and not contesting his Hackney South and Shoreditch seat, said he was leaving Labour after becoming increasingly disillusioned with the government over the Iraq war and "authoritarian" anti-terrorism legislation.

Blair seems aware that the war is a problem. While the cabinet is staying in lockstep, the backbenchers are getting a pass:

More than 30 Labour MPs are putting out statements explicitly opposing the war, including Valerie Davey in Bristol West, who was visited yesterday by Tony Blair.

Bristol West is considered, in American parlance, a swing state.

Not content to let Labour contradict their own policies, the Conservatives have earned the Onionesque headline Tories attack own schools record.

Nine days to go...

Funny like a Clown: Chicago Mob Busted

Funny like a Clown: Chicago Mob Busted

Massive mob bust in Chicago. But they can't find Joey The Clown Lombardo.

And Frank "Gumba" Saladino was found dead in his motel room, with "about $25,000 in cash and $70,000 in checks."

More here and here .

Monday, April 25, 2005

Even Enoch didn't stoke fears like this

Even Enoch didn't stoke fears like this

"Howard does link immigration and asylum (two separate issues that he often treats as one subject) with the increased threat of terrorist attacks. Most of us would choose to have excrement on our doormats rather than be blown up. Howard has escalated the danger of immigration beyond even Powell's wildest excesses."

Most of us Yanks may not know who Enoch Powell was:

On Saturday April 20th 1968 he made a controversial speech in Birmingham, in which he warned his audience of what he believed would be the consequences of continued unchecked immigration from the Commonwealth to Britain. Because of its allusion to Virgil saying that the Tiber would foam with blood, Powell's warning was christened the Rivers of Blood Speech by the press, and the name stuck.

With appalling timing, Powell only realised later that of all the days he could have made a speech that some regarded as racist, it was on the anniversary of Hitler's birth - during a period of Britain's history when it was known that various notorious neo-Nazis held birthday parties in the Nazi leader's honour...

Of course, my favorite Powell reference:

Cleese: "Rastus Odinga-Odinga has taken Wolverhampton Southwest, that's Enoch Powell's old constituency -- an important gain there for Darkie Power."

In other UK developments, swing state syndrome has set in:

"In no previous campaign has so much attention been focused so precisely on potentially uncommitted voters in marginal seats. If you are one of the million voters whose franchise really counts, then you will have received dozens of letters and telephone calls from the party headquarters. The remaining 95 per cent of the population, perhaps fortunately, have been virtually ignored by the party professionals. The election barely exists for them."

Red states and blue states are reversed in the UK and the parties actually USE the [britspell]colours[/britspell], red for [britspell]Labour[/britspell], blue for Tory (plus yellow for Lib Dem and varying shades of orange and green in Northern Ireland).

And Tony has picked up an endorsement, if not a vote: Former President Clinton made the endorsement during a satellite linkup to a Labour Party rally in London Sunday..."

San Diego Mayor Murphy Resigns

San Diego Mayor Murphy Resigns

Mayor Dick Murphy announced his resignation Monday amid a widening federal investigation into the handling of the city's deficit-riddled pension fund.

"It's clear to me that the city needs a fresh start," Murphy said, holding back emotion as he made the announcement at City Hall, surrounded by his staff and family.

Murphy said he will leave office July 15. He said he expects a special election Nov. 8 to select his replacement.

The announcement comes just months after a bruising re-election battle in which Murphy pulled out a 2,108-vote victory over a maverick city councilwoman who waged a surprisingly strong write-in campaign. The councilwoman surf shop owner Donna Frye contended more votes were cast for her, but thousands of the write-in ballots were disqualified under state law...

I haven't followed the scandal but I have been following the election. This was the hanging chad of 2004. Seems that over 5000 voters wrote in Frye's name but didn't make the mark next to the write-in line. While it was clear that the plurality of voters intended for Frye to be elected, state law was clear: no mark by the write in line, no vote. (The law has since been changed.) The honorable thing to do, of course, would have been to resign immediately, but at least he did eventually unlike a certain president (sic)...

A Blue Tinge in the West

A Blue Tinge in the West

Actually it may be blue-green:

Environmentalism, once sneered at in the spacious, resource-rich West, is gaining a foothold as tourism and adventure sports gain economic importance...

This isn't tree-hugger environmentalism, it's huntin' and fishin' environmentalism. My northern Wisconsin roots tell me that's no contradiction.

One facet the LA Times doesn't touch is the up-for-grabs nature of western voters. Ross Perot's best performance in 1992 was in two kinds of counties: rural cantankerous and high-growth rootless. States like Colorado, Nevada and Arizona have both.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Farm and Feline Update

Farm and Feline Update

It's been kind of a human-being weekend, and the news has been sort of tuned out.

The Smallest Farm in Iowa is progressing. The peas are about 5 inches high, in dense-pack formation along the fence. A few odd volunteers from last year's crop are poking out: I've seen cilantro, dill, lots of catnip, and one scraggly sunflower sprout. I didn't even grow sunflowers; I mulched with my daughter's sunflower seed shells once, and one managed to survive both roasting and eating.

The flower bed is also full of sprouts but I'm having a hard time telling the weeds from the seeds since I just broadcast some mixed shady seeds and I don't really know what's in there.

In other veggie news, two of my cats have acquired a taste for - get this - spinach. I'm used to them trying to raid my plate if meat is involved, but now they're after my salad. I thought maybe it was attention they craved, but as an experiment I dropped a couple spinach leaves and they ate it all. The other two still prefer yogurt.

Mob cops plead not guilty

Mob cops plead not guilty

I suppose calling them "mob cops" in the headline could be considered prejudicial.

Two former New York City police detectives accused of being hit men for the Mafia more than 20 years ago pleaded not guilty at their Brooklyn federal court arraignment Thursday on charges that included murder, drug distribution and money laundering.

According to an indictment from a federal grand jury in Brooklyn, Stephen Caracappa and Louis Eppolito routinely passed confidential law enforcement information to the mob and killed rival gangsters.

But since one of them wrote a book called, uh, "Mafia Cop," I suppose I can get away with it.

A High-Tech Lynching in Prime Time

A High-Tech Lynching in Prime Time

"While Sinclair Lewis wrote that Gantry, his hypocritical evangelical preacher, 'was born to be a senator,' we now have senators who are born to be Gantrys. One of them, the Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, hatched plans to be beamed into tonight's festivities by videotape, a stunt that in itself imbues 'Justice Sunday' with a touch of all-American spectacle worthy of 'The Wizard of Oz.'"

Today's "Justice Sunday" the big religous conservative Lollapalooza declaration of war on the judiciary, with Bill Frist as headliner.

Frank Rich's 1920s references in the New York Times and the "lynching" in the headline reminded me of the rise in political power of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s - in the South to be sure but also in the rural North. It climaxed at the 1924 Drmocratic convention. Before the infamous 103 presidential ballots, there was a move by the urban, Al Smith wing of the party to condemn the Klan by name. It lost by 3.3 votes. Meanwhile:

On July 4, 20,000 Klan supporters held a picnic in New Jersey, wearing white hoods and robes. One speaker denounced the "clownvention in Jew York." They threw baseballs at an effigy of Al Smith. The event culminated with a cross-burning.

Am I over the top with the Klan analogy? We're seeing the same behavior from the politicians - the kowtowing, the pandering, the worry about offending an extremist group. Even Democrats are fretting about "values voters," but the always dead-on Bill Maher nailed it with this: "'Activist judges' is a code word for gay." And for today's Klansmen, faggots are playing the role of niggers.

And statements like Tom DeLay's "judges need to be intimidated" smolder like a burning cross.

This is war, folks, why do you think they call it "the nuclear option"?

Thanks also to TalkLeft.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Fix' in pledge raises concern

Fix' in pledge raises concern

"One nation, under 'your belief system."


Lucero said she didn't intend to be offensive but rather wanted to mark the sixth anniversary of the Columbine High School slayings by evoking a sense of tolerance.

"Given the anniversary of Columbine, it was a spur-of-the- moment choice that I made, intended to acknowledge differences that lie in our society," Lucero said. "It's not a reflection of the district, and it was not my intention to offend anyone, rather to include (everyone)."

My memory of the Pledge at school is dominated by the Jehovah's Witness boy who very politely but DIFFERENTly sat through it every morning, and paid for it dearly every afternoon on the way home. At least he only lived two blocks from school so the harassment was short.

The elementary school teacher of the family, Mom, though that unless you could teach the kids what the Pledge and other such creeds MEANT they were just mouthing empty words. Ah, the idolatry of flag worship.

Challenging the golden rules on personal votes

Challenging the golden rules on personal votes

Oh, it's so different in Britain:

There are three bits of conventional wisdom about the role candidates play in elections.

First, because people vote for parties rather than individuals, any personal vote is relatively small. Second, any personal vote is acquired during an MP's first term in office, after which their personal vote levels off. And third, any personal vote results from what the candidate does in the constituency rather than at Westminster.

This election will present a good challenge to all three of these beliefs...

If the first two were true in America we'd have been rid of Jim Leach long ago. The opposite seem to hold true: open seats seem to be closest to natural partisan levels and long-time incumbents build up their personal popularity Back Home. And Americans are incredibly, stupidly proud of I Vote For The Person Not The Party.

But then, the increasing "Americanization" of UK politics has been a common complaint in the Blair era.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Finda da Prime Ministers Inna da Pizza

Find the Prime Ministers In The Pizza

Someone is taking their Guido Sarducci a little too seriously...

Mr Blair, Michael Howard and Charles Kennedy's faces were crafted out of an assortment of vegetable, meat and fruit toppings to make political pizza art.

Other famous faces, created by an anonymous artist, included David Beckham and Ozzy Osbourne...

Blair accuses Tories over asylum (don't mention the war)

Blair accuses Tories over asylum (don't mention the war)

The day's highlights from the UK:

"The Conservatives are trying to exploit people's fears on immigration and asylum, Tony Blair has claimed in his first campaign speech on the issue.

Speaking in Dover, Mr Blair said concerns about immigration were not about racism but about fairness.

But he accused the Tories of waging a single issue campaign on the issue.

Conservative leader Michael Howard has made immigration one of his key election themes..."

Interesting seeing the same code issue for race playing out in the UK. Maybe, now that they've secured Arizona, we can send the Minuteman Project guys off to guard the white cliffs of Dover, blockade the Chunnel, and keep England safe from the French.

The Conservatives may have some competition on this (National) front:

"Because we so enjoy answering questions about ourselves, hundreds of thousands of voters have done one of these electoral tests and been quite surprised by the results.

'Oh dear, it says here that according to my answers I should be voting for UKIP or the BNP!'

'So what's the problem?'

'Well, I'm supposed to be the leader of the Conservative party.' (This embarrassing internet result comes on top of the Tories' other recent technical problems, when the white hoods were all the wrong size and the burning cross kept going out.)"

The BNP is the British National Party - pretty much the Openly Racist Skinhead Party. I suppose the closest American analogy would be a David Duke type. The BNP was on TV the other night. In the UK parties get free broadcast time which varies depending on how many candidates they have. This was the first time they'd had enough candidates to get air time and there were a fair number of complaints in advance. Since they'll deprive the Tories of a few votes I guess they're doing some good. They're also likely to miss the 5% level and lose 500 pounds each in most contests, so the campaign is also taking money away from racists.

Some things are the same everywhere: "Danny Kruger, who withdrew as the Tory candidate challenging Tony Blair in Sedgefield, has been bitten by a presumably Labour symp-athising dog while canvassing in Harlow. His fingers were nipped as he put a flyer through a letterbox."

Just as good was the Tory candidate earlier this week who doorknocked Blair's father.

Mr Blair Sr was a long-term Tory supporter who had once hoped to become a Conservative MP, but famously joined the Labour Party after his son became leader.

Mr Kawczynski was undeterred. Mr Blair Sr gave him a warm greeting when he answered the door, clutching a volume of Trollope. "I have to ask you if you will vote for the Conservative candidate," said Mr Kawczynski. Mr Blair Sr, who has some difficulty talking after suffering a stroke, gave him an apologetic shrug.

"I’m a great fan of Mr Blair," said the candidate, unconvincingly, of his son. "I, er, like Mr Blair very much as an individual..." He conceded defeat. "I realise you can’t vote for me."

Did Mr Blair Sr have any sage words for the young Tory pup? "Ay," he said. "Vote Labour."

And the Times of London bemoans the decline of the yard sign, which is traditionally a window sign in the UK .

But stay tuned next week: the Lib Dems are getting ready to go after Blair on Iraq:

Charles Kennedy will mount a full-scale attack on the government over the conflict in Iraq next week, hoping that voters' lingering resentment will boost his party as the campaign nears its final stages.

May 5 has already been called the "Basil Fawlty election" on the grounds that no one wants to mention the war.

In German town, Pope known for love of cats, conversation

In German town, Pope known for love of cats, conversation

Hm. Would that qualify Pope Dr. Evil the Ist?

"It was full of cats, and when he went out, they all ran to him. They knew him and loved him. He stood there, petting some and talking to them, for quite a long time. He visited the cats whenever he visited the church. His love for cats is quite famous."

Let's see: 78 years old, never married, lives alone with his cats, yet denounces gay people at every chance? Interesting, no?

Actually he doesn't live with cats due to some supreme absolute power, itty bitty living space issues: "The pope doesn't have a cat, however. Heindl doesn't think he can have one living in the Vatican."

Trimble: We take Westminster seriously

Trimble: We take Westminster seriously

"Attacking Sinn Fein as 'incapable', the SDLP as 'marginal' and the DUP as 'caught up with grandstanding' Mr Trimble said it was only the UUP which would represent Northern Ireland."

Despite Trimble's best efforts, "all politics is local" is especially true in Northern Ireland.

The Northern Ireland party structure has nothing to do with the rest of the UK and everything to do with The Troubles. What does Tomy Blair's stand on the war in Iraq matter when you have your own war down the street? There are five parties:

  • The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) is the moderate Protestant party, historically allied with the Tories
  • Ian Paisley's Ulster Democratic Unionist Party (UDUP or DUP) is the hardline Protestant party.
  • The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) is the moderate Catholic party and traditionally aligns with Labour.
  • Sinn Fein is the hardline Catholic party historically linked to the IRA.
  • Alliance is the interfaith party that draws little support in Westminster elections. A Catholic voter isolated in a Protestant constituency with no SDLP or Sinn Fein candidates might vote Alliance.

    Trimble's comment that the UUP would "represent" Northern Ireland is interesting when you consider that Sinn Fein members do not take their seats in the UK Parliament. You see, when you are sworn in you pledge allegiance to the Queen, which an Irish Republican would not do. (SDLP does participate.) So in voting Sinn Fein you are electing a representative who will represent you in Parliament by NOT representing you. Sort of like naming a UN ambassador who doesn't believe in the UN - only in the Irish context it actually makes sense.

    Gerrymandering seems not to be a big feature of UK elections but in Northern Ireland the seats are carefully drawn. Most are heavily Unionist or Republican, so a typical election is DUP vs. UUP or SDLP vs. Sinn Fein. The biggest exception is the hard-fought Fermanagh and South Tyrone, the seat once won by IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands. Sinn Fein took the seat from UUP in 2001 by 53 votes.

    Seats are carefully named, too:

    The Foyle seat has at its heart Northern Ireland's second largest city. Its official title of Londonderry is used mainly by Protestants, but Catholics - who make up the majority of its population - refer to it as Derry. As a result, in order to avoid offence to either community, the Boundary Commission named the seat after the River Foyle, which flows through the city.

    North Belfast is the other seat that could, depending on the split within communities, go either way; "When all four parties stood in 1997, the DUP won with only 27% of the vote, but in 2001 they won much more easily with 41%." This was with Sinn Fein at 25 and SDLP at 21. All four main parties are running this time.

    In 2001 and in recent regional elections, UUP and SDLP have lost ground to DUP and Sinn Fein.

    The 18 NI seats are unlikely to have an impact on the overall Westminster picture. In the last months of his tenure, John Major had to rely on Unionist votes after losing his majority, but it's difficult to envision Blair hanging on with Republican votes - or needing to.

  • Thursday, April 21, 2005

    CT-Sen: Delauro's staff floats Lieberman challenge

    CT-Sen: Delauro's staff floats Lieberman challenge

    Staffers for Rep. Rosa Delauro of Connecticut floated a possible Lieberman primary challenge at a local party event last night. Now, it may very well have been an eager staffer fantasizing about such a challenge (Delauro would become a national figure and grass- and netroots hero overnight), or it could be a something a bit more orchestrated, a trial balloon of sorts amongst the types of people whose support would be critical for such a David v. Goliath challenge...

    Minutemen: Declaring Victory and Getting Out

    Minutemen: Declaring Victory and Getting Out

    The story got stepped on just a little with Schaivo-mania followed by the Popeathon:

    "As soon as the media packed up and left, they left as well. All they accomplished was being a hindrance to the Border Patrol and creating international hard feelings. Their biggest accomplishment was getting the media's attention. It was, as the Mexicans say, all song and no opera."

    Even at the end they got overshadowed - on theor own issue, even - by AHnold:

    In his remarks Tuesday, Schwarzenegger told journalists: “Close the borders in California and all across Mexico and in the United States."

    Apparantly the Governator meant to say he prefers shopping for books online at Amazon.

    The unintentional humor was nearly as bad as my own: the CBS headline Arnold: Border Remark Crossed Line and Schwarzenegger's own attempts to blame his immigrant bashing on his poor command of the English language.

    Aurora Watch

    Aurora Watch

    Earth is about to run into a high-speed solar wind stream, and that could spark a geomagnetic storm. Sky watchers in Alaska, Canada and Scandinavia should be alert for auroras on April 22nd or 23rd.

    We might not see them here in Iowa but you never know.

    Jeffords' retirement sets up scramble for top offices

    Jeffords' retirement sets up scramble for top offices

    Within an hour of Jeffords' announcement, U.S. Rep. Bernie Sanders staked out his own ground and all but declared his own candidacy for the soon-to-be-vacated Senate seat.

    Political insiders were practically giddy at the possibilities because it could lead to an upheaval in a majority of the statewide offices...

    One name NOT in the mix is Howard Dean.

    Assuming Sanders runs the Democrats are not expected to field a candidate, which could lead to a really strange independent-to-independent handoff. I was kind of curious to see how Jeffords' party switch would have played with the voters, but looks like we'll never know.

    Desperate military recruiters and a growing opposition square off in local schools

    Desperate military recruiters and a growing opposition square off in local schools

    As the body counts rise in Iraq and Afghanistan, military recruiters in the United States must contend with an increasingly formidable mission of their own: to convince the nation's young people to join the ranks of a military at war.

    After falling short of recruitment goals in February and March of this year, with another miss expected for April, the increasingly desperate U.S. Army and Marine Corps have dumped more money and personnel into the pursuit of new cadets. But in high schools and colleges across the country, a growing counter-recruitment movement is fighting to keep potential soldiers at home and out of uniform...

    Wednesday, April 20, 2005

    Top Ten Garbage

    Top Ten Garbage

    It all depends when you get released:

    At No. 4, Garbage earns the first top 10 album of its career with "Bleed Like Me" (Geffen), an improvement over the No. 13 opening for 2001's "beautifulgarbage" (Almo Sounds/Interscope. Despite the disparity in chart positions, first week sales of 75,000 for "Bleed" are not that far ahead of the 73,000 copies initially moved by "beautifulgarbage," which has sold 385,000 to date.

    But that's about half as much as 50 Cent sold at number three.

    Finda da Popes Inna da Wienerschnitzel

    Finda da Popes Inna da Wienerschnitzel

    Father Guido Sarducci, live with Al Franken on Air America as the new papacy is announced. He's never gonna make monsignor after this one...

    Columbine Anniversary

    Columbine Anniversary

    And a gratuitous link to the most popular thing I've ever posted... or more realistically, the most popular picture I've ever put in a post.

    The maxim seems to be holding true: the less I do, the more people read. By that logic this minimal post should crank out more traffic. So to counterbalance that I yanked the link to the Laura Prepon picture from the original post. That ought to slow things down around here.

    It's also 4/20, if you know what I mean.

    UK Election draws 3,500 candidates

    UK Election draws 3,500 candidates

    "Labour and the Tories are standing in 627 mainland seats and the Lib Dems in 626 constituencies..."

    Why do Brits STAND for office while Americans RUN for office? How are you going to catch anybody if you STAND?

    Anyway the filing deadline is past. No petitions: you pay a £500 deposit and lose it if you poll under 5%. Most seats have four to six candidates, with more in Scotland and Wales due to the regional parties.

    US bishops defy Rome on Communion

    US bishops defy Rome on Communion

    July 7, 2004. Relevant then. REALLY relevant now.

    A leaked Vatican letter to U.S. bishops that says politicians who support abortion should be barred from receiving Holy Communion is incomplete and does not reflect the full extent of exchanges between Rome and the American hierarchy, a spokesperson for Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington said Wednesday.

    The text of the letter written by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and entitled "Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion, General Principles" was revealed this week by a respected Vatican journalist, Sandro Magister of the Italian magazine L'Espresso.

    German-born Cardinal Ratzinger is considered one of Pope John Paul II's closest collaborators. As head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith he is the church's chief guardian of theological and doctrinal orthodoxy, and is noted for his rigid conservatism.

    Ratzinger's document was dispatched exclusively to the American bishops in connection with the controversy over Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's pro-choice position on abortion. Some U.S. bishops had said that Sen. Kerry -- a practicing Roman Catholic -- should be barred from receiving Holy Communion. A Vatican source said that European bishops, for example, had not received the Ratzinger document.

    According to the six-point "General Principles" no Catholic should seek to receive Holy Communion if he or she is guilty of "a grave sin," and abortion is a grave sin. A priest "may find himself in the situation where he must refuse to distribute Holy Communion to someone, such as in cases of declared excommunication, a declared interdict, or an obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin," Ratzinger wrote. (An interdict, which can only be imposed by a bishop, bars a Catholic from receiving any of the Sacraments, including Holy Communion.)

    This ban on communion is not limited to persons performing abortions, but also to people "whose personal cooperation becomes manifest," including "the case of a Catholic politician consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws," Ratzinger wrote. "The pastor should meet him, instructing him about the Church's teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of the sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Holy Eucharist."

    Favorite New Firefox Extensions

    Favorite New Firefox Extensions

    I'm hooked on a couple new Firefox extensions. As a multi-tab user who constantly switches between about five sites at once, these both come in handy.

  • ReloadEvery will periodically refesh a page for you. I've got my Ping-o-Matic set to re-ping every hour, my news sites reloading every 15 minutes.

  • SessionSaver re-opens the program just as you left it: same tabs, same sites, same everything. Like a Windows hibernate mode for your browser.

  • Tuesday, April 19, 2005

    Tory Meltdown

    Tory Meltdown

    Howard has brought in the Karl Rove of the Commonwealth but the strategery is different:

    "One senior Tory said: “This is a core vote campaign, along the lines of 2001. It is much more professionally organised, thanks to Lynton Crosby (the Australian strategist running the campaign). But in Australia Mr Crosby does not have to worry about the threat from a third party. What seems to be happening here is that when we make a hit on Labour, the Liberal Democrats get two thirds of the benefit.”"

    Combine that with the Lib Dems "decapitation strategy" - targeting Conservative leadership, a game Labour voters in those seats may be happy to play, and the popularity of the Lib Dem leader, cuddly-cute Charles Kennedy, whose first child was born just as the campaign began...

    and Howard's campaign may be doing more harm than good?

    The 50-strong awkward squad threatening Blair's third term

    The 50-strong awkward squad threatening Blair's third term

    Interesting take from the Times of London:

    Seems some on the Labour Left are quietly hoping for a reduced majority in the next Parliament.

    Traditionally, in a parliamentary system, MPs stick very closely to the party line. Blair has a majority of 159 so he can afford a certain lack of party discipline; 50 defections won't cost him a loss.

    Contrast that with the last Tory government of 1992-97. John Major came out of the election with a majority of only 21, and with by-election (I like that term for "special" election) losses had actually dropped to a minority by the 1997 election.

    Should Labour slip to a significantly smaller majority, the mavericks on the left - disturbed by the rightward drift under Blair and ESPECIALLY the war - could be the balance of power. Blair could face a confidence crisis which could meaning "standing down" to save Labour government.

    My thought is that's a more likely outcome of anti-war sentiment than a Lib Dem breakthrough. Blair's eventual downfall will come not at the ballot box, but like Thatcher, in a backbench revolt.

    The Guardian of Orthodoxy

    The Guardian of Orthodoxy

    Meet the new Pope:

    "Ratzinger wrote a letter of advice to U.S. bishops on denying communion to politicians who support abortion rights, which some observers viewed as a slam at Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry. He publicly cautioned Europe against admitting Turkey to the European Union and wrote a letter to bishops around the world justifying that stand on the grounds that the continent is essentially Christian in nature. In another letter to bishops worldwide, he decried a sort of feminism that makes women 'adversaries' of men.

    These and other high-profile pronouncements gave Ratzinger the aura of a vice pope in the eyes of some observers, and he was almost always mentioned in the frequent Who-Really-Runs-the-Vatican lists that flourished during the last months and years."

    Not promising... but at age 78 this isn't likely to be another quarter-century Papacy. Sounds like a rapid consensus emerged for an interim Pope.

    Monday, April 18, 2005

    Henry Hyde Says He Won't Seek Another Term

    Henry Hyde Says He Won't Seek Another Term

    We came close last time and knocked off Phil Crane in the next district over.

    Fellow donkeys, this is an opportunity.

    Toner Mouse Bogus?

    Toner Mouse Bogus?

    OK, I was fished in. It seems my mouse (rodent) caught in the printer is on an urban legend page...

    Once Moderates Built Bridges; Now They Must Burn Them

    Once Moderates Built Bridges; Now They Must Burn Them

    "Historically, Senate moderates have thrived by bridging the differences between the parties. But on most issues, the two parties today are hurtling away from each other at high speed.

    Just as important, each party's dominant voices now believe their side benefits politically from accentuating, not narrowing, those differences. The moderate senators are like diplomats counseling compromise to two countries that have already decided on war. "

    Democrats Push for a New Frontier

    Democrats Push for a New Frontier

    Not a Kennedy thing:

    "The South is increasingly Republican. Democratic states of the East and Midwest are steadily losing electoral clout to the Sun Belt. So a number of Democrats are urging their party to emulate generations of pioneers who sought their fortune in the rugged landscape across the Great Divide.

    If the party is to win back the White House, they say, Democrats must work to reverse their fortunes in New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado and Arizona, and build on other recent gains they achieved in the West. "

    Saturday, April 16, 2005

    DeLay, Red Statesman

    DeLay, Red Statesman

    Interesting history of the Hammer:

    In Gingrich's most pivotal internal House victory, his campaign in 1989 to succeed Dick Cheney as minority whip, DeLay was chief vote counter for Gingrich's opponent, Ed Madigan of Illinois. When DeLay was elected majority whip in 1995, it was at the expense of a close Gingrich ally, Robert Walker of Pennsylvania.

    DeLay joined others much closer to Gingrich in the abortive effort to oust Gingrich in 1997, but unlike most of the others was able to maintain his standing in the House. Even so, he would have remained a cog in the machine (albeit an important one) had not both Gingrich and his chosen successor, Bob Livingston, resigned within weeks of each other a year later. That made possible the sudden elevation to speaker of a little-known DeLay deputy whip, Rep. Denny Hastert, and the Red State era of the House truly began in 1999.

    Tom DeLay is a special target because he is the first legislative power broker to be an authentic Red State conservative. DeLay is the most important of a small but growing group of conservative leaders who are willing and able to operate without permission or praise from Blue State media. The fact that Hastert, DeLay, and their allies have maintained unbroken operational control of the House, never losing a significant floor vote in the four-plus years since Bush became president, has (to put it mildly) opened the door for other ambitious leaders to consider doing the same, either on selected issues or across the board.

    Repubs will hit the wall soon

    Repubs will hit the wall soon

    The pandering to the Schaivo wing of the GOP is about to hit the wall. The day by day stories are so overwhelming that I can't keep up and have been retreating to humor and the British election.

  • Tom DeLay, in an increasingly futile effort to keep the hounds of scandal at bay, is openly questioning the entire concept of judicial review.
  • Bill Frist is getting resdy to push the nuclear option button and protraying efforts to block extremist judges as "an assault against people of faith".

    This is starting to feel like the government shutdown of 1995: the point where they finally push too far. I'm always a little scared of "things have to get worse before they get better" thinking, but we may actually be there.

  • Backwards Censorship

    Backwards Censorship

    Once again, piggybacking on someone else's creativity. But I'm only on my second cup of coffee and this is just too good:

    I've been really excited about this idea I had to remove everything from N.W.A.'s Straight Outta Compton album except for the curse words. It's like a reverse censored version of the album I'm calling "Explicit Content Only".

    Maybe these will take off into the meme-o-sphere. In the memetime, here's a listen to Straight Outta Compton and Fuck Tha Police.

    Suggestions for future efforts:

  • Bodies by the Sex Pistols
  • Flower by Liz Phair
  • Prince's Dirty Mind album

  • Friday, April 15, 2005

    South Park Conservatives: Snapshot of the Culture Wars

    South Park Conservatives: Snapshot of the Culture Wars

    An interesting analysis:

    "The term refers to a kind of irreverent post-liberal or anti-liberal attitude or sensibility, one very in tune with popular culture. But it's not a coherent, fully developed political philosophy. You do find this attitude among a lot of younger Americans, as I show in my concluding chapter, which is based on lots of interviews with right-of-center college kids."

    Those right-of-center college students, for the most part, aren't Alex P. Keaton-clones, decked out in Ralph Lauren double-breasted navy blue blazers. They're more likely to look like every other college kid: jeans, sneakers, and T-shirts advertising their favorite rock groups. But there's one thing that South Park campus conservatives abhor: "Political correctness drives them nuts", Anderson says. "In interviewing students, for instance, it was clear how much the PC conformities of the campus Left turned them off."

    Sounds like libertarian, Howard Stern, gross-out comedy, Cinemax Friday Night types to me. Back in my day, P.J. O'Rourke called them "pants-down Republicans." They wanted Reagan's tax cuts but still wanted to sleep with Debbie Harry (told you the reference was dated.)

    These guys - and it's mostly young, white, and male - really have nothing in common with the Schaivo wing of the GOP and its obsession with Janet Jackson's nipple. And their macho bent on whoop-ass foreign policy will fade as more of their buddies come home in bags, and vanish entirely when the draft starts up.

    The Republicans are bound to push them away, and any group the other team is pushing away is an opportunity.

    But to do that Democrats will have to overcome 30 years of PC image, Chris Rock style, without alienating female, gay, and minority constituencies. It's a narrow opportunity, but an opporunity nonetheless.

    Why does PC-ness bug young white guys? Part of it is the Conehead-speak, and not knowing which Term Of The Week is appropriate. But is basically comes down to women, race, and gays. We need to figure out ways to address that gap with young men, without selling out our principles.

    Maybe we can win over young on choice with anti-authoritarian appeals. Frame it as "the government telling you what you can't do."

    If we pursue tut-tut censorship instead of hip-hop bravado, if we try to take away their video game controllers, we'll never win these guys over. We can;t win over South Park Republicans and "Values" voters at the same time, and the guys are a better bet.

    UK Election: Concern over rise in postal vote

    UK Election: Concern over rise in postal vote

    Early voting arrives in Britain:

    "A survey conducted by the Times found applications had increased by as much as five times in some marginal seats, compared with the 2001 election.

    The number of applications in Cheadle, Greater Manchester, has seen an increase of 485% in postal vote applications.

    The seat is currently held by the Liberal Democrats, with a majority of just 33.

    In Dorset South, where Labour has a 153 lead, applications have increased to 192% of 2001 levels. "

    The Times
    reports: "In Braintree, where Labour is defending a majority of 358 over the Tories, applications have jumped from 3,000 to 10,000.In all the marginals surveyed, the increase would be enough for the seat to change hands."

    It seems the rules for "postal voting" changed in 2000. Before that time voting by mail was only allowed for shut-ins and voters who would in fact be absent. Now anyone can apply and the parties are for the first time taking full advantage of the new rules, catching up to where we in Johnson County have been for quite some time.

    Compromise Is For The Sterile

    Compromise Is For The Sterile

    Good discussion at Pandagon on the pharmacy "conscience clause" issue. One commentattor sums up my thoughts:

    In the end is not about the pharmacists who have come out with their own personal views, it is the potential for this to emerge in the form of intense community pressure on pharmacists in every small town everywhere. It legimates the rights of every congregation in the country to put pressure on some poor congregant pharmacist. And rather than being shunned by friends and family and undergoing constant 'counseling' by Pastor Bob a lot of these guys are going to crack. Just as book stores and record stores crack under the same kind of pressures.

    Much as has happened to abortion providers; how real is choice without access in, say, North Dakota, which when last I checked had only one doctor who did abortions?

    Leach Hypocrisy Watch

    Leach Hypocrisy Watch

    Any praise for Jim Leach's willingness to "slap" the Republican leadership as one of only two GOP members to vote with Democrats in an attempt to review the House ethics rules needs to be tempered.

    Leach actually voted FOR those very same rules (1/4/05) before he voted against them.


    No brain just silly

    No brain just silly

    For some reason the big stories of the world and the blogosphere aren't inspiring me and all I can do is steal funny stuff from other people. Plus it's Cat Blogging Friday.

    Just to show how unhip I got in my old age: this animation was the first place I ever heard the White Stripes' great Great GREAT tune "Fell In Love With A Girl."

    Thursday, April 14, 2005

    Find The Popes In The Pizza

    Find The Popes In The Pizza

    Father Guido Sarducci: And, going along with this Papal mania, I've kind of designed a contest about the Popes. [holds up a large photo showing a close-up of the surface of a pizza] It's called "Find the Popes in the Pizza" ... All two hundred and fifty-four Popes, they're in here. ... And, what we're gonna do in about one minute, we're gonna put a close-up of this on your screen and, you at home, all you have to do is get some, like, wax paper, any kind of paper you can see through and paste it to your screen -- or tape it, whatever you want -- and all you gotta do is get a pencil and draw a circle around every place you see a picture of a Pope...

    USB Coffee Warmer

    USB Coffee Warmer

    Now THIS is useful - or USBful:

    Plug it into a spare USB port on your computer and the Cup Warmer will keep your beverage at the optimum operating temperature for as long as you care to leave it.

    And as if that wasn’t quite enough functionality for your £12.95 thank you very much indeed, it has the added bonus of also being a four-port USB hub!


    Mouse Causes Printer Jam

    Mouse Causes Printer Jam

    Come and fix the printer jam please?

    Forwarded from a former co-worker:

    So you think you got problems?

    I support the printing infrastructure at ***** and we have to deal with this.

    He's not dead but he's sure stuck. We do end up getting him out and letting him loose for those of you that are mouse lovers. How'd you like to get to work and find this problem?



    Governor Shuns Law on Killing of Feral Cats

    Governor Shuns Law on Killing of Feral Cats

    A proposal to legalize the killing of feral cats is not going to succeed, Gov. Jim Doyle said in Madison.

    "I don't think Wisconsin should become known as a state where we shoot cats," said Doyle, a Democrat who neither hunts nor owns a cat. "What it does is sort of hold us up as a state that everybody is kind of laughing at right now."

    Doyle's approval rating among Feline-Americans just went up.

    Schedule proves Green Bay still a prime-time performer

    Schedule proves Green Bay still a prime-time performer

    Da Bears get a lump of coal this year:

    The Packers were still TV's darlings when the NFL released its schedule Wednesday. Ten of the Packers' 16 games will be on national TV, including three appearances on "Monday Night Football" (at Carolina Oct. 3, vs. Minnesota at Lambeau Field Nov. 21 and at Baltimore Dec. 19), one on a Sunday night (at home vs. Detroit Dec. 11) and a Christmas Day showdown at Lambeau Field with their most storied rival, the Chicago Bears.

    Wednesday, April 13, 2005

    Cat Killer Bill: Suggested Response

    Cat Killer Bill: Suggested Response

    If the cat killer bill should get to the Wisconsin governor's desk, I suggest the response Adlai Stevenson issued when Illinois passed the same thing in 1949:

    "I cannot agree that it should be the declared public policy of Illinois that a cat visiting a neighbor’s yard or crossing the highways is a public nuisance. It is in the nature of cats to do a certain amount of unescorted roaming. Many live with their owners in apartments or other restricted premises, and I doubt if we want to make their every brief foray an opportunity for a small game hunt by zealous citizens—with traps or otherwise. I am afraid this Bill could only create discord, recrimination and enmity. Also consider the owner’s dilemma: To escort a cat abroad on a leash is against the nature of the cat, and to permit it to venture forth for exercise unattended into a night of new dangers is against the nature of the owner. Moreover, cats perform useful service, particularly in rural areas, in combating rodents—work they necessarily perform alone and without regard for property lines.

    We are all interested in protecting certain varieties of birds. That cats destroy some birds, I well know, but I believe this legislation would further but little the worthy cause to which its proponents give such unselfish effort. The problem of cat versus bird is as old as time. If we attempt to resolve it by legislation who knows but what we may be called upon to take sides as well in the age old problems of dog versus cat, bird versus bird, or even bird versus worm. In my opinion, the State of Illinois and its local governing bodies already have enough to do without trying to control feline delinquency."

    House Roll Call Estate Tax and Leach

    House Roll Call Estate Tax and Leach

    Another moment of meaningless symbolism from Jim Leach: the only House Republican to vote no - as the bill sailed through with a dozen GOP votes to spare (and, sadly, 42 Democrats).

    Put another way, a House Democrat was 80% likely to vote no, while a Republican was about 99 1/2 % likely to vote yes. And in a House run be Democrats this wouldn't hit the floor. It's the battle for control that really matters, not one meaningless, no-impact vote by one Iowa Republican.

    But Leach will undoubtedly point to this as proof of his "independence." Gag. Eastern Iowa Republicans are smart enough to get that only Leach can hold the seat, but too many Democrats are fooled by the symbolism.

    I want substance.

    MORE from Dave Loebsack (potential Leach opponent):

    First, all Republicans (including Leach) and 7 Democrats voted to cut off debate to bring the issue to a vote.

    The next measure was a Democratic amendment that would limit significantly the amount of the estate tax that would be repealed permanently. Democrat Steny Hoyer stated this amendment would provide that 99.7% of Americans would never pay estate taxes if this amendment were adopted. Leach stayed with the Republicans and voted NO on this amendment.

    Then, on the passage of the main motion that permanently repeals all estate taxes, Leach made the wise political choice and was the only Republican to vote NO.

    Amazing. He knows that probably the only vote the public will hear about will be the final vote. But WE need to be sure that the editorial pages know exactly what kind of shenanigans this guy engaged in today. Only by educating the public that pays attention to such things will we have a chance to win in '06.

    So two votes FOR keeping the rich richer, and one point for CQ's Presidential Opposition scorecard.

    Will Shays Pay a Price?

    Will Shays Pay a Price?

    Pay to play Roll Call wonders aloud if the GOP will punish Rep. Christopher Shays' (R-CT) for criticizing Tom DeLay. They're thinkin' not and I agree. Shays has either the second or third most pro-Kerry district held by the GOP, and they know he's the only kind of Republican, maybe the only Republican period, who can hold it. Of course, he'll be shunned Amish-style within the GOP caucus, but he's a vote for control. He's only said he wouldn't vote for DeLay for SPEAKER, which takes 218. BugKiller doesn't NEED to be speaker when he's running the show as Majority Leader. And Majority Leader only takes 110 votes - within the GOP caucus. And the Ex-Terminator will be gone long before his support sinks that low.

    The number one pro-Kerry district held by the GOP? That would be Iowa 2...

    In Contempt of Courts

    In Contempt of Courts:

    "The 'Constitution Restoration Act' authorizes Congress to impeach judges who fail to abide by 'the standard of good behavior' required by the Constitution. If they refuse to acknowledge 'God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government,' or rely in any way on international law in their rulings, judges also invite impeachment. In essence, the bill would turn judges' gavels into mere instruments of 'The Hammer,' Tom DeLay, and Christian-right cadres."

    A solid article in the Nation on discussion that's been escalating these past couple post-Schaivo weeks. It's an interesting parallel to the Nuclear Option talk. In both cases it seems short-term outcomes are more important than long-term principles to the Right. Politicians of all stripes have been guilty of this for centuries, but it's a strategy that always backfires at some point (in this case hopefully BEFORE they ram their agenda through).

    I'm less enamored of the filibuster, with its segregationist history, but the independence of the judicial branch is absolutely fundamental to the entire checks and balances concept. It's one more sign of the hubris of the current ruling class: trying to enact radical changes on a razor-thin majority with almost parliamentary discipline.

    New Pope to Face Enormous Financial Issues

    New Pope to Face Enormous Financial Issues

    "It seems in today's world the power to absolve debt is greater than, the power of forgiveness..."

    Hmm... now where have I seen THAT before?

    Which reminds me, I need to sit down and watch that movie before the conclave starts Monday...

    That's entertainment

    Pandagon: That's entertainment

    Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon strikes again:

    I don't want to hear about trying to chip off a Republican voter here or there by embracing any part of the "culture wars". "But we're not-" Ha! You know what people like me hear when we hear Democrats lamely justifying their desire to dogpile Hollywood for making trash or crap or whatever you want to call it, hanging their reasoning on the children? The voice of Tipper Gore. And no amount of chipping in that you think children also need X, Y, and Z is going to help. Once Democrats start bringing censorship to the table, young people, artistic people, and those of us who still have a rebellious bone in our body start checking out.

    Stuff like this, by the way, is my main problem with HRC08.

    Between this and the drinking age, it seems to be Deeth's Pet Peeve Day in the blogosphere...

    Lowering the Drinking Age to 18

    Lowering the Drinking Age to 18

    Talk left notes a Vermont legislator proposing just that...

    I continue to wonder: what's the point of an unworkable, unenforcable law. It would be interesting to experiment in a snall, relatively isolated state like Vermont. There's no major border cities and they'd only lose 9.7 million in blackmail, I mean, federal highway funds.

    New York Times covers this too.

    Tuesday, April 12, 2005

    Bleed Like Me

    Bleed Like Me

    New Garbage is here (at last) and LOUD.

    And Shirley is single.

    Bad Push on Mandatory Minumum Sentences

    Bad Push on Mandatory Minumum Sentences

    "If this provision is enacted, there will be almost nothing left of judicial discretion in sentencing: it would eliminate virtually every basis ever relied on by a judge to depart downward..."

    Monday, April 11, 2005

    Nowhere To Run?

    Nowhere To Run?

    Guess not: Martha Reeves is circulating petitions to run for the Detroit City Council. But she needs a new webmaster, this site has that 1996 look to it...


    Brown lifts Labour's hopes for big majority

    Brown lifts Labour's hopes for big majority

    Today's MORI poll, putting Labour seven points ahead among people certain to vote, will be seen as evidence of a 'Brown bounce', following the return of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the campaign's centre stage.

    Brown was persuaded to take a bigger role in the campaign after Blair dropped threats to sack him following the election

    That's one thing you get in the US presidential system that you don't in a parliamentary system: a running mate. But it appears that Gordon Brown is serving as Tony Blair's de facto running mate, even doing joint interviews with the Prime Minister.

    There seems to be a lot of assumption that Blair will resign ("stand down" in Britspeak) midterm and Brown will become Prime Minister at that time. Sort of like Bill Clinton running for a third term and everyone knowing that Gore would take over after a couple years. But here's another analogy:

    One participant said that, without Brown beside Blair, the country would be 'in a state', while another said Brown reminded her of Yes, Prime Minister 's artful underling, Sir Humphrey, 'who was really running the show, but the Prime Minister thought he was doing it'.

    Is Brown the UK's Dick Cheney?

    Calling All Dems: Stop Funding GOP Causes

    Calling All Dems: Stop Funding GOP Causes

    Ruy Teixeira: "Arguably, the most under-utilized resource rank and file Democrats have at their disposal is consumer spending choice. Worse, most of us inadvertantly give money to the GOP every day by supporting corporations that fund Republican candidates, while contributing very little, if anything at all, to Democrats."

    Every day we vote with our dollars. The tricky part, since corporate America is so tangled and capitalism, for better or worse, has some inevitable element of exploitation to it, is picking your battles.

    There's costs to every business and benefits to some. Those costs are distributed unevenly. Wal-Mart keeps its prices to the consumer low by passing those costs along to their underpaid workers, and to society by not giving those workers benefits. Your local food co-op may be more socially responsible, but to be blunt you personally will spend more out of your pocket shopping there.

    So some element of self-sacrifice is involved and the question becomes: who can and should be asked to make those sacrifices?

    Boycotts are a good tactic, but ultimately, given the nature of capitalism, some sort of overarching, not about profit tools are needed. For example, if society as a whole provides health benefits, as is done in most civilized nation-states, the cost of health care is spread more equitably and the small business is more competitive with the Wal-Mart.

    Aside: Does ANYONE know if the pro-choice Domino's Pizza boycott is still on?

    NOmentum: Lieberman re-election and the Connecticut Democratic Party

    NOmentum: Lieberman re-election and the Connecticut Democratic Party

    This from a Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee member:

    Three years ago, when I was distributing flyers that had a local candidate posed with Lieberman (something we can't do anymore because of campaign finance laws), people came up to me, pointed to Lieberman's photo, and said, "If he's with your candidate, I can't vote for your person."

    If the state Democratic convention were held right now, Lieberman wouldn't have the votes to get the nomination without doing some very, very, very serious arm twisting--and even then he might not have the votes. Maybe the population still likes Joe Lieberman, but his friends in the Democratic Party are having second or third thoughts about him. To some it's the votes, to others it's the war, to still others it's the Dem-bashing rhetoric, while others are concerned about the spectacle of Lieberman at Bush's elbow when Bush signs some particularly un-Democratic piece of legislation. But even more telling is that his good friends, people who've known him for 20 or 30 years and who came into politics with him or came up in the party with him, don't want to be associated with him. Months and months ago, many of them, independently, contacted Joe or his close associates and made it clear that Joe was doing himself and the party no good by kowtowing to the Bushies and by continuing his strong support of the war.

    Saturday, April 09, 2005

    A primer on UK politics

    A primer on UK politics

    Long and interesting post at MyDD on the history of UK politics in the past century.

    The parental rummage sale was a rousing success. What didn't sell went to the nearest Goodwill (where I immediately began to reaccumulate more junk). I actually sank to directing traffic at one point and a woman on a moped zoomed up the driveway so fast I thought she was going to ride right into the garage.

    If I accomplished nothing else, my presence gave the Coach an opportunity to escape for a round of golf.

    'Dead Wrong' probes innocent man's fight for life, freedom

    'Dead Wrong' probes innocent man's fight for life, freedom

    Life becomes art:

    Darby Tillis has the distinction of being one of the first exonerated Death Row inmates. He was sentenced to death in 1979 for a double murder at a hot dog stand in the Uptown neighborhood. Fingered by the real killer's girlfriend, who set him up to protect her boyfriend, Tillis went through five trials before he was freed in 1987 with the help of new evidence and petitions brought by Northwestern University's Center on Wrongful Convictions and the MacArthur Justice Center.

    Tillis' one-man show, Dead Wrong, focuses on an examination of the death penalty throughout the country, in hopes of getting the public involved in the fight to abolish it altogether. Woven throughout the piece are blues songs written and sung by Tillis; Davy DeLaFuente provides guitar accompaniment...

    Friday, April 08, 2005

    The real world can wait

    The real world can wait

    And I though I was slacking when I was young:

    "I could have - should have - graduated many years ago, but I keep passing on the real world's invitation," said Johnny Lechner, 28, who is in his 11th year as a student in the University of Wisconsin System, the last 10 at UW-Whitewater.

    After graduating from Waukesha North High School in 1994, Lechner went to UW- Waukesha for a year, then transferred to the 10,000- student UW-Whitewater. Most of his friends were attending colleges in Milwaukee and Madison.

    "I wanted to go to a school where I knew no one. I wanted to discover who I was."

    Turns out he's someone who likes to sleep in, play basketball, write songs and party two or three nights a week.

    This is almost urban legend, too good to be true stuff...

    Bush jeered by Vatican crowd

    Bush jeered by Vatican crowd

    Canadian source, of course: "When the president's face appeared on giant screen TVs showing the ceremony, many in the crowd outside St. Peter's Square booed and whistled..."

    Today's Minuteman Minute

    Today's Minuteman Minute

    Roundup from the international incident waiting to happen:

  • LA Weekly: "The Minutemen were basically a flop. Despite organizers’ claims that 450 people showed up the first day (befittingly on April Fools’ Day), reporters visibly equaled or outnumbered the actual participants. At no point could any reporter see evidence of more than 150 Minutemen gathered in one place — even though the first two days of activities were all about concentrating their forces in a pair of protest rallies. But the bulk of the coverage continued to play along with the fiction that a mass of American citizens had come down here to stand against the immigrant hordes."

  • Amanda at Pandagon makes a headline reference to some better Minutemen and points us to the Southern Poverty Law Center: "Numerous white supremacists have claimed in online postings to be registered as Minuteman volunteers. One who posted to the Minuteman Project forum on the major white power website Stormfront wrote: 'While this project is not a White racialist event, per se, it's a project that deserves backing from the White Nationalist community in general.'"

    She ends with:

    I figure this will end one of four ways:

    1. A Minuteman gets trigger-happy and shoots an alien

    2. Someone who makes money moving illegal aliens shoots a Minuteman.

    3. A Minuteman gets trigger-happy and shoots a Border Patrol agent.

    4. A Minuteman gets trigger-happy and shoots another Minuteman.

    My money's on the last one, but I'm taking bets.

  • And Matthew Gross is unlinkable in re-design but writes: "Who is a bigger threat to America, a Hispanic with a muscle-powered shovel or Wal-Mart with a petroleum-dependent outsourced supply chain?"

  • Joe Lieberman, Vulnerable?

    Joe Lieberman, Vulnerable?

    Specter won (his 2004 primary) by just 17,000 votes out of over a million cast - when not long before the election, he had a 3-to-1 approval rating among his own party members. Pretty remarkable that Toomey came so incredibly close to unseating an incumbent senator in a primary - but perhaps not all that surprising.

    So what does this say to me? Two things: 1) Polls such as these don't accurately reflect the views of likely primary voters; and 2) a 3-to-1 approval rating does not mean you are invulnerable to a challenge. Joe Lieberman should probably not be sleeping too soundly.

    But will progressives hold Joementum's feet to the fire the way wingers did to Specter? Sadly, I have my doubts.

    Slightly Silly

    Slightly Silly

    The Blogger is off to help the parental units with the moving sale. There may or may not be road updates.

    In the meantime, what with the UK election, a word from the Pythons:

    "Well here at Luten, it's a three-cornered contest between, from left to right, Alan Jones, Sensible party, Tarquin fintimlimbimlimbim-whimbimlin Bus Stop Ftang Ftang Olay Biscuit Barrel, Silly party, and Kevin Phillips BONG, who is running on the Slightly Silly ticket. And here's the results:"

    "Alan Jones ("Sensible"): 9,112.
    Kevin Phillips BONG ("Slightly Silly"): Naught.
    Tarquin Fintimlimbimlimbimwhinbimlin Bus Stop
    Ftang Ftang Olay Biscuit Barrel ("Silly"): 12,441."

    "Well there you have it, the first results of the Election there as the Silly party takes Luten. Norman?"

    Caught In The Net: Who is paying the true price of the war on drugs?

    Caught In The Net: Who is paying the true price of the war on drugs?

    The 1986 statutes mandate a fixed sentence for individuals convicted of a crime regardless of culpability or other mitigating factors. The only way to reduce one’s sentence is to provide information to the prosecution that will lead to the conviction of other offenders. This incentive rewards the kingpins the laws were allegedly set up to punish — after all, they have the most information and therefore the most bargaining power — while ensuring long sentences for the low-level female workers who are too loyal, afraid, or uninformed to rat out their male partners and bosses.

    “The mere fact that a woman has lived in a house where her boyfriend or husband has stored drugs, or driven him to the bank, or taken phone messages from his associates, however unwittingly, is enough to convict her. There have been cases where prosecutors haven’t even had to prove that a woman knew she was committing any of these acts. A finding that she should have known what her man was up to has been enough to secure a conspiracy conviction.”

    Amen. And if you know me I don't have to say another word.

    Thursday, April 07, 2005

    Fun UK Election Toys

    Fun UK Election Toys

    I like the Seat Calculator better than the Swingometer, since it better captures the tactical, three-way dynamic.

    But if you're REALLY into it you can check out the Seat By Seat information and the top Tory targets (also Lib Dems and Labour's seats to defend).

    Labour. I louve Anglo-spelling.

    Also: Mathew Gross has a UK Election Primer.

    Wednesday, April 06, 2005

    The countdown for the extinction of CDs is about to begin

    The countdown for the extinction of CDs is about to begin

    Mark Cuban, iconoclast and basketball magnate: "Once that first label, or the first organized group of indies goes purely digital at retail, then the countdown for the extinction of the CD begins. T-minus 5 years from that first day, and your CDs will be sitting right next to the LPs your dad and mom collected when they were kids."

    I suppose that means my 8 track deck is worthless, huh?

    Republicans like Lieberman more than Dems

    Republicans like Lieberman more than Dems

    Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D. "Sen. Joseph Lieberman is in very strong shape for his 2006 reelection bid. Like Rell, he has very strong crossover appeal with even 72 percent of Republicans approving of the job that he is doing, higher than the 66 percent of Democrats."

    One again, Joementum: the GOP's favorite "Democrat."

    U.S. Political Consultants on Papal Election

    U.S. Political Consultants on Papal Election

    In 1999, James Carville advised Ehud Barak in his successful campaign for Israeli prime minister, and said "Who won came down to who got that all-important Jewish vote."

    In that spirit, I think Papal candidates should focus on the all-important Catholic vote.


    Free Speech and Canada

    Free Speech and Canada

    The First Amendment is one of the really great things about America. Sometimes it's honored more in the breach, but at least in theory it's there.

    Now, there's a lot of cool things about Canada - universal health care, gay marriage, mediacal marijuana, the way they say "oot" - but they don't have a First Amendment. They have fairly strict rules on the coverage of trials. But in the era of global communication that doesn't work. In the dark ages of the Internet, the Karla Homolka murder trial was a milestone as Usenet groups flared with the gruesome details that were banned from the Canadian press and airwaves.

    It's happening again and the Canadian papers discuss it only in veiled terms:

    A U.S. website has breached the publication ban protecting a Montreal ad executive's explosive and damning testimony at the federal sponsorship inquiry. The U.S. blogger riled the Gomery commission during the weekend by posting extracts of testimony given in secret Thursday by Jean Brault.

    The American blog, being promoted by an all-news Canadian website, boasts "Canada's Corruption Scandal Breaks Wide Open" and promises more to come. The owner of the Canadian website refused to comment yesterday.

    Publishing the name of the blog or the Canadian news site that promoted it or providing the blog's Internet address could lead to a contempt charge.

    So, in full contempt of the disrespect for free speech: Captain's Quarters

    Kos hipped me to this.