Friday, September 30, 2005

Presidential Politics And Broadband

Presidential Politics And Broadband

Interesting correlation between the need for speed and leaning to the left:

  • Eight states had broadband penetration over 35% - all voted for John Kerry in 2004

  • Eleven states had broadband penetration at or below 20% - all voted for George Bush in 2004

  • Cumulative broadband penetration in states that voted for Kerry was 33% - compared to 25% in states that voted for Bush.
  • Rhetorical Escalation

    Rhetorical Escalation

    The level of public discourse is sinking to Ma, Ma, Where's My Pa levels. Just a couple noteworthies:

  • "Former Education Secretary William Bennett told a caller to his syndicated radio talk show Wednesday: "If you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that were your sole purpose -- you could abort every black baby in this country and your crime rate would go down."

    Obviously, Bennett has decided not to pander to the anti-choice wing of the GOP.

  • A white hot blogosphere exchange launched by Mark Noonan at Blogs for Bush:

    I really do urge our Democrats to step back from the edge - you are sitting in a lake of gasoline and you are playing with fire. We on our side will only put up with so much before we start to pay back with usury what we have received.

    That really does stylistically echo 19th century attack rhetoric. And Hunter at Kos reponds:

    Your party has set aflame the entire political landscape, and now, once burned, you warn sternly from the branches of a burnt-out tree about "playing with fire". You used the ashes of one of the great liberal cities of America, New York City, as war paint for your own sick, racist dreams. You shudder at a burning flag, yet are willing to snip-and-cut basic tenets of the Constitution as needed or convenient.

    This has more of a 21st century feel, complete with F-bombs. Still, I can't help thinking of the Cross of Gold speech and other such over the top discourse.
  • Attention Turns to Associate Justice Nomination

    Attention Turns to Associate Justice Nomination

    A primer for the next round.

    Thursday, September 29, 2005

    Sleeping Bears Lie

    Sleeping Bears Lie

    At the risk of violating some Democratic Party Loyalty Oath, not that I would ever do THAT cough BLOUIN cough: Oh, I hope I hope I hope:

    The statewide rumor mill is buzzing with reports that Lowell Weicker is considering an independent run for his old U.S. Senate seat next year against Democratic (sic) incumbent Joe Lieberman...

    The rumors have been building since last week, when Weicker appeared at a public forum with radio talk-show host and Hartford Courant columnist Colin McEnroe. Weicker, a former liberal Republican who turned independent in 1990 when he left the Senate to run successfully for governor, dropped notice at the Sept. 20 forum that he'd consider another political run.

    Weicker claimed he's "99 percent" uninterested in running. But then he went on, and on, about how he wouldn't sit by if "somebody pisses me off enough." And he went on and on about how pissed off he is about the direction of the country.

    I trust that in the post-Jeffords, pre-Senator Bernie Sanders era, it's officially OK for Democrats to love leftish-leaning independents from New England. Those of us with long memories recall that Liebrman won in 1988 by running to the RIGHT of Lowell Weicker.

    Speaking of independents, there's that rumor again about McCain... Don't be fooled: his actual record is solidly conservative. But like Weicker and his colorful quotes above, it's persona that matters with McCain. John McCain doesn't act or talk like a blow-dried, focus grouped politician. His persona crackles with attitude: "I spent seven years in Charlie's tiger cage, and after that nothing you throw at me can even leave a scratch." That attitude is the entire basis of his appeal.

    Of course, look how far Nam Vet got John Kerry.

    Roberts Confirmed

    Roberts Confirmed

    Barely noticed; tuned out once it was a done deal. On to the next after noting the honor roll:

    NAYs --- 22
    Akaka (D-HI)
    Bayh (D-IN)
    Biden (D-DE)
    Boxer (D-CA)
    Cantwell (D-WA)
    Clinton (D-NY)
    Corzine (D-NJ)
    Dayton (D-MN)
    Durbin (D-IL)
    Feinstein (D-CA)
    Harkin (D-IA)
    Inouye (D-HI)
    Kennedy (D-MA)
    Kerry (D-MA)
    Lautenberg (D-NJ)
    Mikulski (D-MD)
    Obama (D-IL)
    Reed (D-RI)
    Reid (D-NV)
    Sarbanes (D-MD)
    Schumer (D-NY)
    Stabenow (D-MI)

    Fans sound off in ‘pink’ debate

    Fans sound off in ‘pink’ debate

    Ah, any time one messes with athletic tradition, unreasonable amounts of ire are raised. And Hayden Fry's famous pink visitor locker room is, it seems, now a tradition.

    The argument is made that pink tones reduce aggression. The valid point is also made that the color pink is associated with femininity. So: which comes first? Does the pink perhaps "reduce aggression" because it's subconsciously associated with femininity? Or is this just all elaborate pseudoscience to justify a juvenile, "you guys are fags" prank?

    On the other hand, one must pick one's battles. Despite the over-reaction, would a fresh coat of paint in one locker room really be a significant victory? Feminists have more important fights - and so do the 2-2 Hawkeyes.

    'McCarthy' cry follows King's comment on 'values

    'McCarthy' cry follows King's comment on 'values

    Iowa's own little Joe makes comparisons to the original Tailgunner, as Berkeley meets western Iowa:

    "If she studied her history, she'd recognize Joe McCarthy was a great American hero," King said of Lee, in an interview.

    At least we Iowans aren't all wingers: Harkin is a NO on Roberts.

    Wednesday, September 28, 2005

    Court Will Rule on Campaign Spending Limits

    Court Will Rule on Campaign Spending Limits

    With the Big Nomination coming as soon as tomorrow, the court takes on a couple campaign finance cases: Vermont's spending limit (original story trapped behing the New York Times' new pay to play wall) and parts of McCain-Feingold.

    Will the court revisit the 1976 Buckley v. Valeo ruling that spending money on campaigns is a form of free speech? McCain-Feingold is First Amendment problematic from the get-go and doesn't solve what it's supposed to solve.

    The "campaign finance reform" that the politically uninitiated majority REALLY wants is a spending limit that gets the 30 second ads off TV. That's impossible under Buckley v. Valeo. I don't like spending limits unless they're accompanied by some sort of cheap or better yet free media access. As much as we praise the blogosphere, the average undecided voter still relies on the Big Three evening news and more improtantly the local newscast that follows. 30 seconds isn't my preferred format, but I think anything above five minutes would suffer from massive tune-out.

    In either case, free TV time would negate the need for so much money, and could divert spending into more of the grass roots, door to door kind of stuff that we do around here.

    Buckley v. Valeo isn't the most burning issue facing the Roberts court, but it's important.

    I'm John Deeth and I approved this message.

    Iowa City-Chelsea Clinton connection

    Iowa City-Chelsea Clinton connection (very tenuous)

    Las Vegas Review-Journal: Chelsea Clinton's mystery man at the opening of Tao nightclub is no stranger to family politics. Marc Mezvinsky's mother is former Pennsylvania Rep. Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky, a Republican, and his father is former U.S. Rep. Ed Mezvinsky, D-Iowa, who pleaded guilty to fraud charges in 2002.

    None of which is really important... except that Ed was from Iowa City at the time of his Congressional service and was the last Democrat to beat Jim Leach (in 1974; Leach knocked him off in `76.) Ed also has one of the funniest name ID ads I ever saw - long before my time in Iowa City, we actually viewed it in an undergrad political science class. It showed people-on-the-street butchering the name Mezvinsky.

    And, Ed and Marjorie, jointly, were my last-ever news story, right after she won her primary in 1992 but before her shocking upset win, her one term tenure, and the chants of "Bye-bye Marjorie" on the House floor. Which makes the newspaper mis-ID-ing her as a Republican all the more inexcusable.

    Of course, I doubt that the younger Mr. Mezvinsky has ever set foot in Iowa City.

    All Our Base Are Belong To Us

    All Our Base Are Belong To Us

    Kos vs. Drum in a blogosphere brawl on How To Win In 2006.

    Drum says run the ball down the middle:

    The fact is, by every previous standard of Supreme Court nominees, Roberts is well qualified for his position. Is he conservative? Of course he is. But that's because the American public elected a conservative president and a conservative Senate. If we want better nominees, that's what needs to change.

    Kos says go deep, down the left sideline:

    Most Americans do not even know who the hell John Roberts is. The people that care, the bases of both parties, are the only folks who do and who care. The fact is that the Supreme Court, vitally important to our nation, registers not at all with most swing voters, one way or another. This is a base issue. And SMART political parties play to their base on issues like this. Moreover, on the issues that are affected by the Supreme Court, especially privacy, Independent voters are with the Democrats. This was a perfect highlight issue for Dems. The people who cared and could be moved to the Dem side would have been swayed by a strong stand for privacy rights. Roberts was a missed political opportunity.

    Well, you know I'm a lefty kinda guy. The next opportunity should be later this week as W makes his second pick for Great Justice...

  • Also noted: TalkLeft on the financial aid ban for students with drug convictions: "Denying financial aid to students because of a drug conviction is a stupid policy and fiscally irresponsible." Long substantiation here.

    And the American Library Association is out with the Banned Books List again which should provide lots of good reading ideas.
  • Tuesday, September 27, 2005

    Several States May Revisit Redistricting

    Several States May Revisit Redistricting

    Lengthy look at how the lines matter and what's being done about it.

    I've never heard of US-style gerrymandering being an issue in other democracies. WOnder how they handle it?

    Remember Doderer's contributions, live by her example

    Remember Doderer's contributions, live by her example

    I rip on David Yepsen a lot but here he shares some of the stories we heard Saturday. Plus it's an entire column about an Iowa Citian that doesn't use the words "People's Republic" or "latte".

    I'm still amazed that, after all Doderer's battles for choice, Mike Blouin had the nerve to show up.

    As for the governor's race, more writeup here and here.

    Monday, September 26, 2005

    Court overturns RIAA mother-child case

    Court overturns RIAA mother-child case

    "The RIAA was forced to withdraw its case because it held the mother couldn't be held to be liable for letting her daughter share music online..."

    All that music? It's my daughter's. Yeah. That's it.


    Morning Roundup: The Next Chess Moves

    Morning Roundup: The Next Chess Moves

  • 74 House Races To Watch for 2006 with David Loebsack ranked 13.

  • Winners in 2006 Will Be in Place for Remap-Crucial 2010 Elections: It's a little bit of a reach - the new governors elected in 2006 will be up for re-elect in 2010 with remapping happening in 2011. But in the permanent war we're in now, it matters.

  • Another generic congressional ballot story. Looks good but states the reality:

    Polls throughout 2003 repeatedly showed that "Democratic candidate" fared several points better against Bush in trial heats than specific Democrats, like Dean, Clark and Kerry. In other words, actually knowing who the Democratic candidate was served as a drag on the Democratic ticket. However, in the generic versus specific ballot, voters were allowed to imagine their ideal Democrat going up against Bush, thus boosting the Democratic cause several points.

  • New York Daily News: "John Kerry loyalists are kicking themselves for cooperating last year with "Inside the Bubble," a potentially devastating behind-the-scenes look at the Massachusetts senator's failed presidential campaign.
    Hillary Clinton partisans are licking their chops to see the film, which "could end up being the silver bullet that kills Kerry's presidential chances for 2008."
  • Sunday, September 25, 2005

    Dems BBQ Roundup

    Dems BBQ Roundup

    JCDems gathered Saturday for the annual barbecue. Better attendance than I expected - seems the candidates for governor, at least en masse, are a good draw. Nothing like `03 when we got Dean, Kerry, and TED FREAKIN' KENNEDY, but still good.


  • Culver: Clearly Chet's been getting some speech coaching, and he didn't mention his father once. His shots at the other candidates were subtle, sometimes so subtle only a true insider would catch them (I thought I detected a bank shot at Fallon?). But those also seemed to be the main points of substance. More emphasis on "I can beat Nussle" than "what I will do."

  • Blouin: Clearly he was on hostile territory in Johnson County. He addressed the Issue That Must Not Be Named in the breach as the "elephant, in the room, though I shouldn't say elephant." The rationalization: he noted his Senate endorsers "don't agree with me on every issue" thus attempting to rhetorically reduce choice to "just one issue." It should be noted that each of his opponents mentioned choice and got their biggest applause line with it.

    Had a nice brief conversation with Blouin in which I told him anti-choice was a deal killer for me. He was polite but stuck to his guns. I'll give him credit for that, but not a vote (the word "Green" crossed my lips). A lot of people feel like I do - but most are too deferential to say it to his face. One of the advantages to being one of the "crazies."

  • Fallon: Seems to be attempting to play in the big leagues: he even sported a TIE early in the day though he doffed it before his speech. It was a nice, firey liberal speech with solid stands for choice and against death penalty, and got a nice reaction. But the rousing chorus of "This Land Is Your Land" undercut the image change and even prompted a Dennis Kucinich reference.

  • Mohamed: The audience was polite but used the speech as a chance to grab seconds on dessert or bid on auction items.

  • Judge: She was on really friendly ground as the theme of the event was a tribute to the late great Minnette Doderer, godmother of Iowa politics. I honestly can't recall a mention of death penalty, but the choice section was lengthy, moving (the former nurse implied, without gory details, the coathanger horrors of pre-Roe), and unequivocal. And she rattled off a long and impressive resume. Unfortunately, she suffered from being the last speaker as the crowd thinned and the attention spans waned; some folks thought she had left without speaking and thus departed themselves during Mohamed's speech.

    Johnson County's influence in state primaries is a bit disproportionate. Turnout is always high since the June primary tends to be the de facto election for the courthouse offices (last Republican to win a county race was in 1984). That's diluted a little by Republican crossover but a lot of those folks leave the statewide offices blank. Case in point: The last really hot statewide primary was in 1998 and saw Mark McCormick beating Vilsack by 10 votes in Johnson County - but with a thousand more votes for county recorder than for governor ("who cares, I'm voting for Lightfoot anyway.") Next year the governor's race will be overshadowed locally by the first open contest for county attorney in three decades.

    In any case the prevailing attitude toward the four main contenders for governor seems to be "wait and see." I have a favorite but ultimately my decision will be based on who is best positioned to stop Blouin.

    NOTE to whoever at the Iowa Democratic Party reads me on a daily basis: Please say Hi sometime.

    More coverage at the DI.
  • Massachusetts Finalizes Plans to Phase Out Microsoft Office

    Massachusetts Finalizes Plans to Phase Out Microsoft Office

    Gee, if EVERYBODY did it...

    To capitalize on any momentum the state's decision may have on further migration away from proprietary office formats, Microsoft competitor Sun Microsystems is expected next week to release an update to its StarOffice productivity suite and unveil new customers for the product, according to a company spokeswoman...

    Vander Plaats: Flat tax better to fund schools

    Vander Plaats: Flat tax better to fund schools

    Why does "flat tax" always make me think of "flat earth"?

    Saturday, September 24, 2005

    Mob factors in fish market relocation

    Mob factors in fish market relocation

    A judge put the relocation plans of the nation's largest wholesale fish market on ice yesterday after hearing claims that it could be vulnerable to Mafia infiltration when it moves to its new site.

    State Supreme Court Justice Carol Edmead extended a restraining order blocking fishmongers from taking over unloading duties at the Fulton Fish Market, which is moving to the Bronx after more than 180 years on the Lower Manhattan waterfront...

    The alleged Mob control of FFM dates back to the Carlo Gambino era. Giuliani cleaned house in the post-Gotti days, but move could be, uh, an opportunity.

    Friday, September 23, 2005

    Katrina drove up hybrid demand

    Katrina drove up hybrid demand

    Maybe this tragedy is the paradigm shift:

    "Toyota Motor Corp. has seen a rise in demand for hybrid vehicles in the United States in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as consumers seek more mileage out of $3 a gallon gasoline..."

    Top Democrats won't attend anti-war rally in Washington

    Top Democrats won't attend anti-war rally in Washington

    Disappointed yet again:

    Nationally known Democratic war critics, including Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, Russell Feingold of Wisconsin and John Kerry of Massachusetts, won't attend what sponsors say will be a big anti-war rally Saturday in Washington.

    Today's leading Democrats head a party divided over the war, and many leaders are wary of standing with anti-war activists, who represent much of the party's base...

    One more chance to Vote Loebsack

    One more chance to Vote Loebsack

    Loebsack currently at #6, with voting closing at 4:00 Saturday...

    Coralville police investigate counterfeit $100 bills

    Coralville police investigate counterfeit $100 bills

    The fact that ARETHA Franklin's portrait was on the bills was a tipoff.

    Disappointing endorsement from Gronstal, Senate Dems

    Disappointing endorsement from Gronstal

    Sez here that Mike Gronstal has just endorsed Mike Blouin for governor. And it sez here a bunch of other Senate Dems did too.

    I know western Iowa is a different,much more conservative planet, but it's not SO different that Democrats aren't at a minumum supposed to be pro-choice.

    Here's the math. John Kerry won 64% of the vote in Johnson County and lost the state. Vilsack and Harkin won 66, 67% and won. You need a solid, two to one win in the People's Republic to win the state, and an anti-choice Dem heading the ticket will divert a significant number of voters. Including me.

    Nice to see that the Johnson County senators aren't on the Blouin list.

    The wannabees are all going to be in Johnson County this weekend. I'm interested in what the others have to say, but Blouin had been off my list for some time.

    Thursday, September 22, 2005

    GOP to Audit the Poor?

    GOP to Audit the Poor?

    Verify Income of Earned Income Tax Credit Participants

    "This appears to be a proposal to audit people who claim to be poor, to make sure they are truly poor and deserving of the tax credit. I'll try to find out more to make sure I'm not missing some essential element of the idea. The GOP apparently believes that massive fraud exists in this program, and that we could ease the federal deficit by aggressively collecting taxes from the not-truly-poor -- people who could be defined as the merely non-affluent, the not-doing-so-well, the just-scraping-by. But not "poor."

    Hillary to vote NO on Roberts

    Hillary to vote NO on Roberts

    Statement here.

    SurveyUSA - 50 State Bush Approval

    SurveyUSA - 50 State Bush Approval

    Aaaand the score is Dem 452, Bush 86.

    Senate Panel Endorses Roberts

    Senate Panel Endorses Roberts

    "Voting against Judge Roberts were Senators Dianne Feinstein of California, Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, Joseph R. Biden of Delaware, Charles E. Schumer of New York and Richard J. Durbin of Illinois."

    Is Clinton Worried About Gore Running?

    Is Clinton Worried About Gore Running?

    I don't know, but I sure am. New York Post:

    As Sen. Hillary Clinton ratchets up her attacks on President Bush, some Democrats think they smell an explanation: the threat of a 2008 Al Gore presidential bid that could come at her from the left on Iraq.

    I neglected to note the 20th anniversary of the PMRC hearings earlier this week.

    A couple stolen links:

  • Mattthew Gross likens the blogosphere to the pseudointellectual juvenilia of the late night dorm bull session.
  • TalkLeft pics up on Bill Frist as the new Martha Stewart.
  • Leahy Caves on Roberts

    Leahy Caves on Roberts

    Deep disappointment here. Thanks, Harry Reid and Ted Kennedy... and it appears John Kerry, in a stab at relevance. John Edwards also sent out a note of opposition. But since he gave up his seat, which he could have run for even while seeking other office, and since a Republican won it, that's not especially important either.

    UPDATE: Feinstein to Vote Against Roberts

    Still awaiting word from the junior senator from New York.

    Kos sums it up perfectly:

    Ultimately, the Republicans have the White House and a solid majority in the Senate. If we want to stop the Roberts of the world in the future we have to do so at the ballot box. The Roberts battle was lost in 2004, 2002, and 2000.

    Wednesday, September 21, 2005

    Tancredo, Bush Foe on Immigration, Poised as Republican Spoiler

    Tancredo, Bush Foe on Immigration, Poised as Republican Spoiler

    One can hope:

    "Right-wing populists have bedeviled American political parties in presidential elections for more than 30 years. These include George Wallace in the 1960s and 70s, Patrick Buchanan in the 90s, and may include another such spoiler in 2008: Republican Tom Tancredo."

    They left out Perot... but a big splash by Tancredo couldn't hurt.

    Oil CEO: Rita Could be "National Disaster"

    Oil CEO: Rita Could be "National Disaster"

    Mathew Gross: "Three words: Fill 'er up."

    Browser wars: A new front opens

    Browser wars: A new front opens

    "Opera has removed the banners, found within our browser, and the licensing fee. Opera's growth, due to tremendous worldwide customer support, has made today's milestone an achievable goal."

    THIS oughta make things interesting. Let's hope Bill Gates isn't the beneficiary of vote-splitting...

    Meanwhile, Mozilla launches Firefox 1.0.7, with 1.5 in beta testing.

    Frist Sold Stock Before Price Dropped

    Frist Sold Stock Before Price Dropped

    "Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a potential presidential candidate in 2008, sold all his stock in his family's hospital corporation about two weeks before it issued a disappointing earnings report and the price fell nearly 15 percent."

    First he panders to the theocrats with Schaivo, then he overcompensates on stem cells and alienates alienates them. Now he's adopted a Martha Stewart campaign strategy. The ineptitude is remarkable...

    and I didn't even mention cats.

    Tuesday, September 20, 2005

    Mystery Protesters Unveil Their Account of Protest

    Mystery Protesters Unveil Their Account of Protest

    Been forever since I linked to Wonkette:

    Yesterday's protests on the Hill by disability-rights group ADAPT prompted some coverage (mostly here) and lots of confusion. Having had their signs confiscated outside the building, the group's message was somewhat blurred, though they apparently did a good job of clogging the hallways and getting arrested. We were especially impressed by the response they got from Sen. Charles Grassley, who asked the police to wait until after the office closed to arrest the disabled people, thus ensuring all of them spent the night in jail. Sensitive!

    Son Of Teflon

    Son Of Teflon

    "In a startling setback to federal prosecutors, John A. Gotti Jr., the Gambino crime family prince who said he wanted to leave the mob life behind and drive a minivan with his family, avoided conviction today in his racketeering trial, as the jury returned hung verdicts on three charges against him and voted to acquit him on a fourth..."

    SurveyUSA - 50 State Governor Approval

    SurveyUSA - 50 State Governor Approval

    Another 50 state survey, governors this time. A few interesting notes:

  • Gray Davis' Revenge: AHnold ranks 48th, with a net -33% disapproval. That puts him BEHIND Ernie "Under Indictment" Fletcher of Kentucky, but well ahead of Bob "Faded Genes" Taft of Ohio, who has a net -62 yet has the chutzpah not to resign.

  • On the other hand, REPLACING a crook does wonders, as Republican Jodi Rell of blue Connecticut ranks #2 with a +54.

  • Dave Heineman of Nebraska is a +37 in a Big Red state - yet is probably going to lose his primary next year when Coach Osborne comes home to Lincoln.

  • Of all those mentioned for the presidency, only Mark Warner of Virginia ranks really high. Most are in the middle of the pack (with Vilsack right at 25th), but Pataki is in the bottom ten and net -8; he may be running for president because he can't get re-elected.
  • Apple's Jobs warns on 'greedy' music pricing - Yahoo! News

    Apple's Jobs warns on 'greedy' music pricing

    "Apple boss Steve Jobs, the man behind the popular iPod digital music player, called the music industry greedy for considering hiking digital download prices, warning such a move would drive users back to piracy."

    Back? BACK?!?! Hahahahahahahaha....

    He also says Pirates Will "Burn in Hell". ARRRRRRRRGH! Prepare t' be boarded!

    Hinckley Wants Girlfriend, Psychologist Says in Court

    Hinckley Wants Girlfriend, Psychologist Says in Court

    In the category of Singles Ads Least Likely To Get A Call, Especially From Jodie Foster.

    Also: British cuisine has a reputation as awful but this is a bit much:

    "Hundreds of tons of British food aid shipped to America for starving Hurricane Katrina survivors has been condemned as unfit for human consumption and will be burned."

    Monday, September 19, 2005

    Loebsack: On to DFA Round Two

    Loebsack: On to DFA Round Two

    Hi, everyone.

    Okay, we made the final round. I appreciate all of your support in the first round. I hope we can now do even better and win this nationwide race. Already, we have demonstrated amazing grassroots power, especially for a campaign that is only in its beginning stages.

    Voting will take place Tuesday-Saturday of this week. Please vote at and please spread the word!

    This endorsement would mean valuable national and local publicity, lots of excitement about the campaign, and all-important early funding. Anyone in America can vote for me so please keep spreading the word.

    Thanks everyone! David

    Bicycling Rant

    Bicycling Rant

    Pet peeves that need to be vented:

  • People in downtown Iowa City who yell at cyclists like myself "get on the sidewalk." Ususally they are in large SUVs and likely haven't ridden a bicycle since third grade. If they had they would have seen the "No Bicycles On Sidewalk" signs ALL OVER DOWNTOWN. And they certainly have never seen the Bicycle Cop who gives you tickets for riding on the sidewalk or ped mall.

  • On the other hand, the extra wide sidewalk along South Gilbert Street south of Highway 6 is a bike path. And drivers exiting the Hills Bank have a really annoying habit of blocking this path which is a reular part of my noon hour ride, ignoring the WATCH FOR BICYCLISTS signs Hills Bank has put up.

  • Last I'll spew about drivers who motion you to go ahead, like they're doing you a favor - after they've already forced you to stop. You see, the momentum of a cyclist comes not from fossil fuels, it comes from leg muscles, and if I'm already stopped I've already lost my momentum and you, in the car, might as well go ahead.

  • No wait, I got more! Why do grocery stores sell cigarettes and lotto tickets in the EXPRESS line? What, you can't WAIT?
  • Yes we have no bananas?

    Yes we have no bananas?

    Today's Sign Of The Apocalypse is the lack of biodiversity in the banana crop:

    The 100 billion Cavendish bananas consumed annually worldwide are perfect from a genetic standpoint, every single one a duplicate of every other. It doesn’t matter if it comes from Honduras or Thailand, Jamaica or the Canary Islands—each Cavendish is an identical twin to one first found in Southeast Asia, brought to a Caribbean botanic garden in the early part of the 20th century, and put into commercial production about 50 years ago.

    That sameness is the banana’s paradox. After 15,000 years of human cultivation, the banana is too perfect, lacking the genetic diversity that is key to species health. What can ail one banana can ail all. A fungus or bacterial disease that infects one plantation could march around the globe and destroy millions of bunches, leaving supermarket shelves empty.

    A wild scenario? Not when you consider that there’s already been one banana apocalypse...

    Which actually prompted the vaudeville-era song.

    The same thing happened with pears in the early 19th century which is why all pears now have a gritty texture; that was the variety that was disease-resistant.

    P.S. I don't really like bananas.

    Talk Like A Pirate Day - September 19

    Talk Like A Pirate Day - September 19


    Translate my blog into Pirate

    I and me mateys'll be celebratin' by pirating some free downloaded music...

    JUST KIDDING (my lawyer made me say that)

    Election Overhaul: Carter, Baker offer imperfect solutions

    Election Overhaul: Carter, Baker offer imperfect solutions

    Lots of coverage today on the election reform commission headed up by Jimmy Carter and James Baker: here, here and here for starters.

    The recommendations include the Sergio Leone trinity and more:

  • The good: more voter registration outreach, though they exclude the single most effective tool - same-day registration.
  • The bad: The insistence that elections should be run only by non-partisans is a slap in the face to thousands of good election administrators who balance their personal politics with a strong sense of fair play.
  • The ugly: Photo ID to vote. Even though they qualify it as many ways as they can it's still going to impact outsiders of all stripes more.
  • The indifferent: I just can't make myself care about paper trails; I know computer systems are fallible but I look at anyone who insists that information is only "real" when it's on a piece of dead tree as a Luddite. TalkLeft calls this the "most important" item. I seem to be in a minority here and have no real objection.

    I'm sure the blogosphere will ramp up quickly on the regional primary issue: They propose four dates, one a month, but leave Iowa/New Hampshire as exceptions. TalkLeft calls this the most controversial item. And obviously my self-interest is close to the bone here.

    Also missing: any discussion of instant runoff, proportional representation, or redistricting reform.
  • Sunday, September 18, 2005

    Eternal sunshine of mice minds

    Eternal sunshine of mice minds

    Really scary, in a Orwell way, coming as it does from China:

    Researchers at Fudan University have discovered a way to block memories in mice...

    The Ministry of Truth, and the Muggle Memory Modification Squad, should love it. Obliviate!

    101 things that the Mozilla browser can do that IE cannot

    101 things that the Mozilla browser can do that IE cannot

    Giant lizards are cool. Much more exciting than a blue e.

    Also on the nerd front: bad passwords, which is an interesting insight into people's fixations or lack of creativity.

    Another Argument For the Draft

    Another Argument For the Draft

    TalkLeft points us to the latest installment in the Draft Watch. It's the Katrina angle: the hurricane has exposed the reality of class in America as nothing in decades had. So Michael Rooke-Ley of the Eugene Register-Guard jumps to this conclusion:

    If we are truly committed to bridging the gulf between rich and poor, black and white, there is no doubt that a dramatic transformation of our foreign and domestic policies is required. We can begin, however, by reinstituting the military draft.

    It's a variation on the Charlie Rangel argument: the false hope that if the sons of the rich and powerful (drafting women will never get past the theocrats) are in the military, war will be less likely.

    I'm inclined to believe otherwise: the sons of the mighty always find a way out and John Fogerty must have been writing about one George Walker Bush. A fully manned conscript army will facilitate foreign misadventures.

    Browns Top Packers 26-24 At Lambeau Field

    Browns Top Packers 26-24 At Lambeau Field

    Wasn't as close as the score. At least the rest of the division is lousy this year too, so we have the chance to win the North at 8-8 and lose a road playoff game.

    Memos reveal Vilsack advisers' influence

    Memos reveal Vilsack advisers' influence

    The inside scoop on the low point of the Vilsack years: signing English Only. Turns out it was fully vetted by the consultants:

    Under Plan A, Vilsack would sign the controversial legislation on a Friday and provide only a written statement to minimize press coverage. The governor was also advised to "stay away from the media in general for the weekend, ensure (the) schedule is cleared of potentially confrontational events."

    "We shouldn't ever join what is perceived as a hostile act toward the immigrants we, ourselves, are trying to recruit. It would be read as a retreat from a position of courage and character — a surrender, really," said Axelrod in a March 2001 e-mail to Cacciatore, then Vilsack's chief policy adviser.

    "As I said on the phone, I'm not into political suicide. But capitulation, too, would have a terrible price," said Axelrod.

    Vilsack was forced to take a position the next year when the Legislature completed action on an official English bill. GOP leaders made it more palatable to the Democratic governor by promising to include $1 million in the state budget for classes teaching English as a Second Language to newcomers.

    After Vilsack was re-elected, he convened a group of Latino leaders and expressed regret about signing the legislation

    None of this is shocking, of course. I'm a big boy and I've been in this ball game 15 years, long enough to be at least a little cynical. But I hope someone, somewhere, was making the counter-argument that English Only was just plain wrong and mean.

    Generic Congressional Ballot looks good for Dems

    Generic Congressional Ballot looks good for Dems

    I've never been much of a believer in the generic Congressional ballot as a measure of success. The dynamic of support for My Local Guy Who's Not Like The Rest Of Them usually wins out, and the fine art of gerrymandering means a lot of Democratic votes get wasted in too-safe GOP districts. But this is heartening:

    "Only 3% of Democrats, whether they are liberal, moderate or conservative Democrats, plan to vote for a Republican in congressional elections 2006. "

    If this comes true in 2006 in Iowa 2, where Jim Leach more often gets 20 to 25 percent of the Democratic vote, then David Loebsack has it won.

    The melting Arctic: it's worse than you think

    The melting Arctic: it's worse than you think

    One, two, many Louisianas:

    The greatest fear is that the Arctic has reached a "tipping point" beyond which nothing can reverse the continual loss of sea ice and with it the massive land glaciers of Greenland, which will raise sea levels dramatically.

    The prediction is that rising sea levels will erode coastlines and could submerge most of the Maldives, and have devastating effects on low-lying countries like Bangladesh...

    Saturday, September 17, 2005

    Flash Based Laptops, Sooner Than You Think

    Flash Based Laptops, Sooner Than You Think

    Now this looks promising. And let's cross it with USB for your car.

    FEMA's City of Anxiety in Florida

    FEMA's City of Anxiety in Florida

    What Louisiana has to look forward to: a look back at last year's Charley:

    The hurricane began that slide, destroying hundreds of modest homes and apartments along both sides of the Peace River as it enters Charlotte Harbor, and almost all of Punta Gorda's public housing. Then as the apartments were slowly restored -- a process made more costly and time-consuming because of a shortage of contractors and workers -- landlords found that they could substantially increase their rents in the very tight market.

    As a result, the low-income working people most likely to have been displaced by the hurricane are now most likely to be displaced by the recovery, too.

    The Washington Monthly comments: "The basic problem is that some of the places ravaged by Charley didn't rebuild their low-income housing because — not to put too fine a point on it — they didn't especially want their low-income residents back."

    Two Twenties and a Ten Please

    Two Twenties and a Ten Please

    "On August 30--when thousands of Americans were trying to survive disaster in New Orleans--Grover Norquist, a key Republican strategist, sent out a fax on a critical issue of the moment: placing Ronald Reagan on the fifty dollar bill."

    Friday, September 16, 2005

    Being Poor

    Being Poor

    Whatever has a killer list, written in the wake of the flood, that I just found.

  • Being poor is six dollars short on the utility bill and no way to close the gap.
  • Being poor is crying when you drop the mac and cheese on the floor.
  • Being poor is knowing you work as hard as anyone, anywhere.
  • How many members of the Bush Administration are needed to change a light bulb?

    How many members of the Bush Administration are needed to change a light bulb?

    The Answer is TEN...

    1. One to deny that a light bulb needs to be changed,

    2. One to attack the patriotism of anyone who says the light bulb needs to be changed,

    3. One to blame Clinton for burning out the light bulb,

    4. One to tell the nations of the world that they are either for changing the light bulb or for eternal darkness,

    5. One to give a billion dollar no-bid contract to Halliburton for the new light bulb,

    6. One to arrange a photograph of Bush, dressed as a janitor, standing on a step ladder under the banner Bulb Accomplished,

    7. One administration insider to resign and in detail reveal how Bush was literally in the dark the whole time,

    8. One to viciously smear #7,

    9. One surrogate to campaign on TV and at rallies on how George Bush has had a strong light-bulb-changing policy all along,

    10. And finally, one to confuse Americans about the difference between screwing a light bulb and screwing the country.

    Via TalkLeft

    This reminds me of some of my favorite lightbulb jokes.

    How many teamsters does it take to change a light bulb?
    Twelve. Ya got a problem with that?

    Q: How many surrealists does it take to change a light bulb?
  • Fish.
  • To get to the other side.
  • Two: one to hold the giraffe, and one to put the clocks in the bath tub.
  • Two: one to hold the giraffe, and one to fill the bath tub with brightly colored power tools.
  • Two: one to fill the bath tub with water, one to run a wire from the tub to the bulb.
  • Three: one to change the bulb, one to hold the ladder.
  • Three: one to hold the giraffe, one to rewire the fruit bowl and one to occupy a non-dimensional N-space.

    Q: How many ADD kids does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
    A1: Mmm... Cookies!
    A2: Wanna go ride bikes?

    The all purpose generic version:

    Q: How many members of a given ethnic community does it take to change a lightbulb?
    A: Ten - one to hold the lightbulb and nine to behave in a fashion generally associated with a negative stereotype of that group.
  • Mamet: Poker and the Dems

    Mamet: Poker and the Dems

    I'm incapable of playing poker for the same reason Harry Potter is so bad at occlumency (look it up): my emotions ride too close to the surface and I can't bluff. Perhaps that's one reason my forays into electoral politics were failures.

    But that's not Mamet's broader point:

  • In politics as in poker, the only way to win is to seize the initiative. The Democrats need to make bold wagers or risk being rolled over again.

  • Greens, Libertarians Sue Iowa

    Greens, Libertarians Sue Iowa

    From the excellent Ballot Access News, a follow up from last week:

    On September 15, the Iowa ACLU sued Iowa on behalf of the Green and Libertarian Parties, to overturn state practices that force all voters to register as Republican, Democratic or Independent (sic). Iowa is one of only two states that doesn’t have a blank line on the voter registration form, in the “political party” question.

    UPDATE Iowa coverage here.

    Energy Poll: 8 in 10 Want Drivers to Drop SUVs

    Energy Poll: 8 in 10 Want Drivers to Drop SUVs

    Really interesting numbers in a post-Katrina, post-peak oil poll that doesn't hew to any one party's agenda.

    The American devotion to free-market capitalism has always been honored more in the breach, and heavily tempered by self-interest both on the business side and for consumers. Now that Americans are paying something approaching prices the rest of the world pays there's overwhelming support for regulations mandating higher fuel efficiency, tax breaks for alternative energy, public transportation, and even price controls, a phrase I haven't heard bandied about much since the Nixon era.

    I'm sounding unusually non-collectivist here, but I wonder how this will translate into individual action in the long run. I feel a certain self-righteous smugness as I bike to work, or as I shopped for a small, fuel-efficient car that I drive roughly twice a week. I've made deliberate life-style choices to accomodate this, such as living withing biking/walking distance of my job, and I'm fortunate to be in good enough health to be able to do so.

    I know that not everyone has the luck or luxury to do such things - but I will go so far as to say many, many more people COULD choose to do so, and far more could be done to facilitate it.

    For example, here at my government office the parking issue is invariably addressed in terms of "where can we find more parking spaces," and never considered as a question of "how can we encourage people to use other transportation."

    Will the sudden public interest in these issues fade if and when the immediate crisis fades? Will the ripple effect of this natural disaster finally end our love affair with the solo-piloted car?


    On the other hand, the survey shows about a 20 point spike, and a reversal in position, on items like drilling in ANWR. One more nail in the coffin of environmentalism as a mainstream issue, as the abstract of a wilderness few will ever see collides with the here and now of $3 a gallon at the pump. Sadly it seems we've bought the fallacy that a good environment is bad business. While we're showing great long term foresight in some things, we retain a bottom-line nearsighted focus on our own wallets.

    Friday link roundup

    Friday link roundup

    Mushy brain after my latest dental trip yesterday, but I saw a few things worth sharing:

  • MyDD looks at the ongoing beltway vs. blogosphere debate amongst us Dems.

  • Kos points us to an American Prospect article arguing that interest group progressivism fails to look at the Big Picture problem of ongoing Republican control.

  • And in Ohio an anti-gerrymandering issue is headed for the ballot.
  • Louisiana elections put off

    Louisiana elections put off

    A small piece of the big tragedy, but it's MY small piece. And democracy isn't really a small thing, anyway.

    Louisiana officials yesterday postponed local elections scheduled for Oct. 15, citing a lack of equipment and manpower.

    "Right now, because of Hurricane Katrina and its resulting aftermath, we don't have the machines, personnel, or electorate in place to properly conduct a fair election in these affected areas," said Al Ater, Louisiana's secretary of state. "We will reschedule these elections at the appropriate time."

    9/11 was an election day for me and it felt like a very right thing to be doing. It was election day in New York, too, and they postponed two weeks. But this tragedy is very different because of the sheer displacement of people. Who "lives" in New Orleans? Who's coming back? It's a very thorny question, and as everything about Katrina is it's a racially charged question too.

    UPDATE: Some of the Uprooted Won't Go Home Again: "Fewer than half of all New Orleans evacuees living in emergency shelters here said they will move back home, while two-thirds of those who want to relocate planned to settle permanently in the Houston area, according to a survey by The Washington Post, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health..."

    Thursday, September 15, 2005

    Don't Tell, Don't Even Need to Ask

    Don't Tell, Don't Even Need to Ask

    More coverage of the sudden discovery that the military is discharging far fewer gays than before 2001:

    Still, we're left with the original question itself: does the military suddenly discover that unit cohesion can survive the presence of gay soldiers perfectly well whenever they also discover a more urgent need for units? Do they stop enforcing their anti-gay policy when a war starts and their need for boots on the ground outweighs their need to placate social conservatives?

    Once again Bush cynically uses the theocrats. Perhaps they deserve each other, but the rest of us don't deserve either of them. But it's clear that the oil-war agenda is the real agenda, and the religious right's agenda is just a useful tool.

    Wednesday, September 14, 2005

    Why I switched to Firefox

    Why I switched to Firefox

    Berkun blog takes sides in the Browser Wars, but not without a few suggestions for Firefox.



    A coronal mass ejection (CME) is racing toward Earth and it could spark a severe geomagnetic storm when it arrives--perhaps tonight (Sept. 14th and 15th). People everywhere should be alert for auroras...

    Commanders Ordered Not To Fire Gays Until War's End

    Commanders Ordered Not To Fire Gays Until War's End

    They're getting REALLY desparate for troops, and the gay-bashing agenda has lost to the war agenda:

    "Scholars studying military personnel policy have discovered a document halting the discharge of gay soldiers in units that are about to be mobilized.

    It states that if a discharge for homosexual conduct is requested 'prior to the unit's receipt of alert notification, discharge isn't authorized. Member will enter AD [active duty] with the unit.'"

    Loebsack in Top 10

    Loebsack in Top 10

    Davd Loebsack is #6 in the Blog for America vote - though apparantly he was in third place yesterday.

    If you haven't yet voted for David, PLEASE DO SO NOW at this link. Winning this endorsement could make a huge difference in our effort to unseat Jim Leach.

    Stealth candidate fails in Solon

    Stealth candidate fails in Solon

    Not a shocker in Iowa City's school board race yesterday. Patti Fields and Liz Crooks will be nice additions to the board, and I hope Jerry Gilmere gives it another shot.

    The fireworks were in Solon where challenger David Asprey, one of the leaders of last year's attempt to toss some gay-tolerant texts out of the classroom, narrowly lost to incumbent Dick Schwab. Schwab has been an outstanding community leader, both on the school board and in the community, and it's disappointing that Asprey even came close.

    A couple interesting things in the returns: while the correlation isn't exact by precinct, it's remarkable that the Schwab vote was so close to the YES vote on the funding measures. Perhaps the twin Republican agenda of Bible-thumping and tax-cutting was at work. It's just weird that a district that voted 71% yes on a major bond for a new high school five years ago just barely passed a routine school levy yesterday.

    It's also funny to watch Clear Creek-Amana for the remarkable unanimity with which Amana voters seem to vote. This time they outvoted Oxford and send a former board member back after a one year absence.

    Tuesday, September 13, 2005

    Random animals and politicized penguins

    Random animals and politicized penguins

    It seems the Biblethumpers cam find a political agenda wherever they want, and now penguins have been politicized:

    The movie is "March of the Penguins," and of all the reactions it has evoked, perhaps the most surprising is its appeal to conservatives. They are hardly its only audience; the film is the second highest grossing documentary of all time, behind "Fahrenheit 9/11."

    But conservative groups have turned its stirring depiction of the mating ordeals of emperor penguins into an unexpected battle anthem in the culture wars.

    In response, we have this story from, I kid you not, the San Francisco Chronicle:

    Roy and Silo, two chinstrap penguins at the Central Park Zoo in Manhattan, are completely devoted to each other. For nearly six years now, they have been inseparable. They exhibit what in penguin parlance is called "ecstatic behavior": That is, they entwine their necks, they vocalize to each other, they have sex. Silo and Roy are, to anthropomorphize a bit, gay penguins.

    And the 102nd use has been found:

    A German inventor says he's found a way to make cheap diesel fuel out of dead cats.

    Space Station Watch

    Space Station Watch

    A couple good passes coming up; 8:59 Thursday night is the best of the batch. That's for Iowa City; more distant readers need to enter their own location...

    Vote for Loebsack Today

    Vote for Loebsack Today

    No, he's not running for school board, but you can still vote for congressional candidate David Loebsack today, in DFA's on-line primary, They're narrowing their short list from 40 candidates to 10.

    Minor Parties will sue 3 states this week

    Minor Parties will sue 3 states this week

    Including, it seems, Iowa:

    "The ACLU will file a lawsuit for the Green and Libertarian Parties against the state’s practice of forcing all voters to register “Republican”, “Democrat”, or “independent” (sic) on voter registration forms. Iowa is the only state in which it is physically impossible for a voter to register into any party other than the Democratic and Republican Parties. "

    The actual phrase on the form is "no party", not "independent", but otherwise it's accurate. Got this from the excellent Ballot Access News, but it's dated a week ago. No word on whether anything has actually happened yet.

    As a (mostly) loyal Dem I still like this; knowing who's a Green, Libertarian, etc. is really useful in nonpartisan elections.

    Like today's. Go vote.

    50 States on Choice

    50 States on Choice

    As the Roberts hearings slog on into Day 2, my new favorite tool Survey USA comes out with a 50 state choice survey. And as usual I'm going to another great site, US Election Atlas, and running the results through the electoral college:

    It's a pro-choice landslide: 56% - 38% in the popular vote, with the electoral college breaking out 435-100 and a tie in North Dakota.

    Of course, this assumes that perople were voting on that ONE ISSUE, and obviously pro-choice voters aren't doing that. If Roe gets overturned, the GOP will need to work that into their electoral calculations.

    The other interesting thing is the map. You don't see a simple North-South divide, or even a Red-Blue map. Instead, there's a broad swath of anti-choice states running along the Appalachians, from West Virginia to Alabama (Pennsylvania is the least pro-choice state won by Kerry), with spurs into other small-town and rural dominated states (and heavily Catholic Louisiana - the survey was pre-hurricane). There's another small-town rural chunk in the Dakotas and Nebraska, and funally you have the Mormon belt of Utah and Idaho.

    The surprise here is that the fastest growing parts of the South - the Atlantic states and TEXAS (!) - show up as pro-CHOICE. That makes it more clear that the choice battle is an urban-rural fight.

    Army Expects to Miss Goals for Recruiting

    Army Expects to Miss Goals for Recruiting

    Draft Watch continues, and even I'm starting to sweat; they're talking about raising the maximum recruiting age to a grizzled old 42 and now that I'm in shape I'm not as likely a candidate for a 4F.

    The Nyew York Times article is full of numbers and a rare flash of that old definition of oxymoron punchline, militray intelligence:

    The Army has attributed the recruiting shortfalls to a growing wariness about military service because of the Iraq war...

    Ya think?

    I may still be able to qualify for the Group W bench if all else fails.

    Monday, September 12, 2005

    Fitzgerald bows out before governor gate opens

    Fitzgerald bows out before governor gate opens

    And the field narrows a little more...

    I think everyone had already come to this conclusion. This makes an indecisive primary much less likely, unless Ed Fallon has a hidden base capable of getting him into double digits. Fitzgerald keeps his safe job that he's had forever - he was only about 30 when fiest elected in 1982 - and the Great Iowa Treasure Hunt continues...

    What's sleepin' in our soul

    What's sleepin' in our soul

    I've been on an Oasis kick for about the last three days which is strange. They came along a little after my time, just after Cobain, just after I lost day to day touch with popular music and popular culture. But I do recall the radio omnipresence of "Wonderwall" and especially "Champagne Supernova" (references to "getting high" still got that huh huh, huh reaction in the mid-90s) and the storuies of the brawling Gallagher brothers. They may have been one of the last bands that made guitar-BASED songs - music centered around the guitar as the fundamental instrument, rather than a solo plopped in on top of a beat.

    In any case I'm only now tuning in enough to bother with the b-sides and stuff, and I've just stumbled onto the brilliant "Acquiesce". The rap always was that Oasis had nonsensical lyrics, which Noel Gallagher freely admitted. But this time he actually SAID something:

    I don't know what it is
    That makes me feel alive
    I don't know how to wake
    The things that sleep inside
    I only wanna see the light
    That shines behind your eyes

    I hope that I can say
    The things I wish I'd said
    To sing my soul to sleep
    And take me back to bed
    You want to be alone
    When we could be alive instead

    Because we need each other
    We believe in one another
    And I know we're going to uncover
    What's sleepin' in our soul

    Who the hell knows what it's about - could be about the brothers, could be a romantic fantasy. Could mean whatever you want about whoever you want. But it sounds really great with all the loud guitars...

    Republican Rhetoric Run Amok in Minnesota

    Republican Rhetoric Run Amok in Minnesota

    The Rainforest becomes an issue in Minnesota:

    This weekend Republican Mark Kennedy provided Minnesotans with yet another example of just far Republican rhetoric is from reality. In a speech Kennedy gave in front of the Minnesota GOP he used an indoor rain forest in Iowa as an example of “outrageous” pork spending. Too bad he forgot that he actually voted for that bill himself!

    Locally, the Coralville election seems to be a lot quieter this year; in 2003 an anti-hotel, anti-rainforest challenger slate opposed the incumbents (and lost roughly two to one). This year, with the hotel a fait accompli, support for the rainforest melting dowm on the council, and the entire rainforest project in disarray, the challengers are either invisible or absent.

    hat tip: From The Roots

    Sunday, September 11, 2005

    How Bush Blew It

    How Bush Blew It

    Newsweek digs into Who Lost Louisiana and hits on the problem, that's equally applicable to Iraq:

    Most presidents keep a devil's advocate around. Lyndon Johnson had George Ball on Vietnam; President Ronald Reagan and Bush's father, George H.W. Bush, grudgingly listened to the arguments of Budget Director Richard Darman, who told them what they didn't wish to hear: that they would have to raise taxes. When Hurricane Katrina struck, it appears there was no one to tell President Bush the plain truth: that the state and local governments had been overwhelmed, that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was not up to the job and that the military, the only institution with the resources to cope, couldn't act without a declaration from the president overriding all other authority...

    AMERICAblog sums up Newsweek into nice bullet points.

    I remember, way back before the original 9/11, right after Bush rammed the tax cuts through. I asked: "what is he going to DO the next 3 1/2 years? He's done the one thing he wanted to do, cut taxes for rich people." Well, it turned out he also wanted to play global chess world conqueror too, just like Daddy. But clearly domestic nuts and bolts, boring stuff like preparedness, isn't worth the bother. And several thousand people have paid with their lives.

    Nice way to start the season

    Nice way to start the season

    Vikings lose, on a 71 yard touchdown run from some Tampa Bay rookie named Caddilac Williams, while Fox plays the Clash's versin of "Brand New Caddilac."

    Packers at Detroit next...

    UPDATE: Uhhh, never mind. Pack held without a TD for the first time since about the turn of the millenium.

    Saturday, September 10, 2005

    Bush Would Still Beat Kerry

    Bush Would Still Beat Kerry

    Such a story in one paragraph:

    Though President Bush's approval rate is the lowest of his presidency -- and he would lose in a hypothetical match up against any past president of the last 30 years -- Bush would still beat Kerry, 48% to 47%.

    Is it possible to be any lamer than the Democratic Party in the 21st Century? Bush stole it the first time so what did we do the second time? HAND it to him. Most forms of carbon based life could have beaten Bush, but we go and nominate a candidate who actually repelled people so strongly that a year later, as Bush's approval sinks to Nixonian levels in the muck of Katrina, he STILL looks better than Kerry.

    The funny part is Kerry actually thinks he has a chance NEXT time!

    DeLay to evacuees: 'Is this kind of fun?'

    DeLay to evacuees: 'Is this kind of fun?'

    I know I'm doubling up but this deserves its own mention:

    DeLay stopped to chat with three young boys resting on cots.

    The congressman likened their stay to being at camp and asked, "Now tell me the truth boys, is this kind of fun?"

    Stupid Quotes About Hurricane Katrina

    Stupidest Hurricane Katrina Quotes

    A good roundup of idiocy, largely GOP in nature but the media makes a few appearances.

    Also, speaking of GOP stupidity, Steve King offers his thoughts on his NO vote to disaster aid.

    Friday, September 09, 2005

    Apparent Hunter S. Thompson suicide note published

    Apparent Hunter S. Thompson suicide note published

    Gonzo journalist to the end:

    The brief message, scrawled in black marker and titled "Football Season Is Over" (an apparent reference to the end of the NFL season he avidly followed as fan), reads as follows:

    "No More Games. No More bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun -- for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax -- This won't hurt."

    In Rolling Stone, of course, though it doesn't seem to be on line yet.

    Worst Katrina Quote Yet

    Worst Katrina Quote Yet

    "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did."

    -- Rep. Richard Baker (R-LA), quoted by the Wall Street Journal, "overheard" in a conversation with lobbyists.

    At least you can envision that Barbara Bush doesn't get it, and feels indifferent toward the victims - but Baker is clearly and openly HOSTILE to them.

    Mark Morford hits the nail on the head:

    The truest measure of any president, of any leader, is how well he takes care of his own people. And Bush, well, Bush has done a simply spectacular job of taking care of exactly his own people -- the wealthy, the corporate, the extreme religious right, his core base of supporters -- while happily and fiercely ignoring, restricting, condemning, destroying the rest. Are you educated or progressive or liberal or alternative-minded or sexually open or homosexual or anti-war? This means you. Are you dirt poor and belong to a minority and don't drive an SUV and contribute six figures per annum to the RNC and maybe live in a flooded swamp in the Louisiana bayou? This means you, squared. Sucker.

    Meanwhile, rapper Kanye West, who called a, uh, spade a spade when he said words to the effect of "Bush hates black people," suffers no backlash and jumps from 19 to 1 on Billboard's Hot 100. Of course, his rhetoric plays TO his audience (take note, Dixie Chicks).

    PAULAs now may become blots later

    PAULAs now may become blots later

    She received a citation for possession of alcohol under the legal age, one of 664 issued from January to July, and was fined $147. But more worrisome to the nursing student than the money was the possible complications that could arise when applying for jobs.

    PAULAs are classified as simple misdemeanors, which appear on criminal-history checks and leave many students with a blemish on their records.

    It seems to be the goal of our police department and county attorney's office to make sure every UI student leaves Iowa City with one of these on their record...

    The article goes on to discuss the ethics of fudging one's resume, which may help one become FEMA director someday.

    Thursday, September 08, 2005

    Team Hate America

    Team Hate America

    These eleven congressmen, Republican conservatives all, just voted against the $51 billion package ( H. R. 3673) for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Horrible human beings, all.

  • Joe Barton - TX
  • Jeff Flake - AZ
  • Virginia Foxx - NC
  • Scott Garrett - NJ
  • John Hostettler - IN
  • Steve King - IA
  • Butch Otter - ID
  • Ron Paul - TX
  • James Sensenbrenner - WI
  • Tom Tancredo - CO
  • Lynn Westmoreland - GA
  • WA Truth-in-campaign law struck down

    WA Truth-in-campaign law struck down

    "A state law prohibiting political candidates from lying about their opponents is an unconstitutional violation of free speech and chills political discourse, a state appeals court ruled yesterday."

    Well done. As distasteful as most people find campaign ads, they're truly the ultimate in free speech. (And modern ads are pretty tame compared to the stuff they threw at Jefferson and Lincoln...)

    Money Flowed to Questionable Projects

    Money Flowed to Questionable Projects

    They were spending money in Louisiana, but on the wrong stuff:

    "The Corps also spends tens of millions of dollars a year dredging little-used waterways such as the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, the Atchafalaya River and the Red River -- now known as the J. Bennett Johnston Waterway, in honor of the project's congressional godfather -- for barge traffic that is less than forecast."

    Wednesday, September 07, 2005

    Brown's past work did not 'translate'

    Brown's past work did not 'translate'

    Michael Brown must be beyond inept:

    From failed Republican congressional candidate to ousted "czar" of an Arabian horse association, there was little in Michael D. Brown's background to prepare him for the fury of Hurricane Katrina.

    Now, as the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Mr. Brown faces furious criticism of the federal response to the disaster that battered New Orleans and much of the Gulf Coast. He provoked some of it himself when he conceded that FEMA didn't know that thousands of refugees were trapped at New Orleans' convention center without food or water until officials heard it on the news.

    "He's done a hell of a job, because I'm not aware of any Arabian horses being killed in this storm," said Kate Hale, former Miami-Dade County emergency management chief. "The world that this man operated in and the focus of this work does not in any way translate to this. He does not have the experience."

    Mr. Brown ran for Congress in 1988 and won 27 percent of the vote against Democratic incumbent Glenn English. He spent the 1990s as judges and stewards commissioner of the International Arabian Horse Association...

    Getting dissed by The Washington Times is a bit unusual for a Republican, but not unheard of these days. But you've got to be uniquely unappealing to get 27% of the vote as a REPUBLICAN in OKLAHOMA.

    Israel to build more West Bank houses

    Israel to build more West Bank houses

    Flying waaaay under the radar, the Guardian (UK) notes that after the Gaza withdrawal Israel is back up to its old ways:

    The State Department said Tuesday it had raised with the Israeli government the approval of construction of 117 houses in the Ariel settlement in the heart of the West Bank...

    Goldberg Out of Iowa City Race

    Goldberg Out of Iowa City Race

    Chuck Goldberg is out of the Iowa City council race. Tuesday was the legal deadline, so he won't be on the October 11 primary ballot.

    Anyone have any idea why? I had him pegged as a sure thing for the top four...

    The field was already slimmer than expected, with Irv Pfab and Brad Workman not filing. There was also a student candidate whose name escapes me, who announced his candidacy, with spectacular timing, in the last Daily Iowan of the spring semester.

    I suppose the really big story is Connie Champion's uncontested instant winner third term. She made herself a lot of new friends with that NO vote on the Wal-Mart zoning.


    No explanation of the Goldberg withdrawal in morning press coverage. It's mentioned in passing in articles on last night's candidate forum. The Daily Iowan has decent coverage and a concise summary of where the candidates are on 21 bars:

    Incumbent Mike O'Donnell said he has chosen to work with students, not against them, while combating underage and excessive drinking.

    Amy Correia, Mitch Rotman, Garry Klein, and incumbent Connie Champion all agreed with O'Donnell and said they were against the 21-ordinance.

    "I'm a supporter, but not at this time," said Champion, who has been considered as a swing vote on the 21-ordinance issue in the past. "I would not want my daughters drinking at a house party. I would want them downtown."

    Meanwhile, ordinance proponent Larry Baker, who is running for an at-large seat, argued that the bars have created an atmosphere downtown that discourages other businesses from locating in the area.

    Candidate Rick Dobyns also advocates implementing the 21-ordinance.

    Here's a couple links:

  • Amy Correia
  • Garry Klein
  • Tuesday, September 06, 2005

    Roots of anti-Americanism

    Roots of anti-Americanism

    Four years later, we repeat what we should have known all along:

    But the really interesting part was this: he ran regressions on nine different families of variables - everything from education to gender to religiosity to income - to find out what best explained expressions of support for terrorism. None of these shows any stasticially significant relationship. The only independent variables significantly correlated with support for terrorism were "negative views of U.S. foreign policy" and - and here's the interesting part - "negative views of one's own political system."

    Discontent with their own government was vastly more significant than religion, education, culture, class, or anything else for explaining support for terrorism against the U.S. Which offers some really interesting support for the idea that there is a clear American interest in promoting reform in such countries - even if Greg Gause is right that doing so will not itself end terrorism.

    So the so-called Arab Street blames us for propping up the House of Saud as well as the House of Sharon. Interesting...

    A Political Tempest?

    A Political Tempest?

    I thought I was the only person who thought like this:

    "Katrina may change Louisiana politics for another reason: demographics. The storm forced a mass exodus from New Orleans and vicinity, and many residents surely will resettle out of state. The political effect will depend on whence the emigrants turn out to have come.

    In the 2004 election, President Bush carried Louisiana by 281,870 votes, according to data from David Leip's election atlas. A breakdown by parish shows that the two candidates ran almost exactly even in the New Orleans area: John Kerry had a 109,763-vote margin within the city (Orleans Parish), while Bush beat Kerry by a combined 109,546 votes in the suburban parishes of Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. Bernard and St. Tammany.

    Obviously if more New Orleans residents than suburbanites move out of state, Louisiana will become more Republican. Less obviously, the state will become more Republican even if flight from the suburbs equals that from New Orleans, since the evenly divided New Orleans region will account for a smaller part of the population than the heavily GOP-leaning rest of the state.

    New Orleans's Mayor Ray Nagin is up for re-election in February 2006, Gov. Kathleen Blanco and Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu in November 2007, and Sen. Mary Landrieu in November 2008. All four are Democrats. When they point the finger at the federal government for whatever went wrong in the Katrina response, remember that they are fighting for their political lives."

    The people who couldn't afford to leave aren't going to be able to afford to go back. Will New New Orleans be a gentrified version of its old self, a tourist trap artificial re-creation, just another Southern Anyplace with nothing to distinguish it but homogenized mock-Cajun cuisine?

    Santorum Calls for Fines on NOLA Residents Who Stayed Behind

    Santorum Calls for Fines on NOLA Residents Who Stayed Behind


    There may be a need to look at tougher penalties on those who decide to ride it out and understand that there are consequences to not leaving.

    Santorum nudges just into second place behind Barbara Bush's let them eat cake. What's the saying, the law equally prohibits the rich man and the poor man from sleeping under a bridge? Wish I could remember the exact quote and who said it...

    Barbara Bush: Things Working Out 'Very Well' for Poor Evacuees from New Orleans

    Barbara Bush: Things Working Out 'Very Well' for Poor Evacuees from New Orleans

    In a segment at the top of the show on the surge of
    evacuees to the Texas city, Barbara Bush said: "Almost
    everyone I’ve talked to says we're going to move to

    Then she added: "What I’m hearing which is sort of
    scary is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is
    so overwhelmed by the hospitality.

    "And so many of the people in the arena here, you
    know, were underprivileged anyway, so this--this (she
    chuckles slightly) is working very well for them."

    When the heads roll, at least whe know who'll be playing the role of Marie Antoinette...

    Gannett does it again

    Gannett does it again

    Looks like the Des Moines Register is going the route of the Cedar Rapids Gazette with the ridiculously unreeadable "electronic edition" format. I assume pay to play is coming soon.

    Monday, September 05, 2005

    Alan Dershowitz: Telling the Truth About Chief Justice Rehnquist | The Huffington Post

    Alan Dershowitz: Telling the Truth About Chief Justice Rehnquist

    I have a reputation for dancing on graves:

    So here’s the truth about Chief Justice Rehnquist you won’t hear on Fox News or from politicians. Chief Justice William Rehnquist set back liberty, equality, and human rights perhaps more than any American judge of this generation.

    Roberts nominated Chief Justice

    TalkLeft: Roberts nominated Chief Justice

    Well, THAT's a change of gears.

    There is a silver lining: O'Connor is going to stay till A Player To Be Named Later is confirmed. So assuming Roberts is a Rehnquist-brand winger, that means we're no worse off than when we started... for the moment. And since we Dems didn't have any backbone in us to fight Roberts, maybe we can muster it for the next one.

    Sunday, September 04, 2005

    Head of FEMA has an unlikely background

    Head of FEMA has an unlikely background

    The dangers of patronage:

    "He's done a hell of a job, because I'm not aware of any Arabian horses being killed in this storm," said Kate Hale, former Miami-Dade emergency management chief. "The world that this man operated in and the focus of this work does not in any way translate to this. He does not have the experience."

    Chief Justice Rehnquist has died

    Chief Justice Rehnquist has died

    And this is going to fly completely below the post-Katrina radar, just like the Roberts hearings next week...

    First analysis from David Corn:

    "What will George W. Bush do now? Elevate Antonin Scalia to chief justice? Appoint someone who's not already on the court to the job? Will he wait until after the hearings on John Roberts to name his pick? That would be good politics. It would be foolish to add any other factor to the Roberts confirmation process, which, from a White House perspective, is going rather well. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, might Bush look to Edith Clement, a conservative federal appellate judge from New Orleans? Or how about Janice Rogers Brown, an African-American woman and sharecropper's daughter who is now a far-right California state judge (who seems to hate the federal government)? After all the recent talk about poor black people being shafted in New Orleans by the US government, Bush might enjoy standing in the Oval Office with Brown and talking about her personal story."

    Staged relief

    Staged relief

    There was a striking dicrepancy between the CNN International report on the Bush visit to the New Orleans disaster zone, yesterday, and reports of the same event by German TV.

    ZDF News reported that the president's visit was a completely staged event. Their crew witnessed how the open air food distribution point Bush visited in front of the cameras was torn down immediately after the president and the herd of 'news people' had left and that others which were allegedly being set up were abandoned at the same time.

    The people in the area were once again left to fend for themselves, said ZDF.

    Friday, September 02, 2005

    Ccivil defense in Cuba (often sans phones, power)

    Civil defense in Cuba (often sans phones, power)

    Here's how Cuba deals with hurricanes: people power.

    Hurricane Katrina: Bush Negligent Homicide

    Hurricane Katrina: Bush Negligent Homicide

    Friend of mine wrote this; gave me permission to steal it.

    Where in the hell is congress? Where is Senator Harkin? Barney Frank? Nancy Pelosi? Maxine Waters? Where is Where is the outrage over the unnecessary devastation in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi?

    Most of the deaths, injuries, and destruction are the consequence of negligence of the Bush administration before and after Hurricane Katrina.

    FEMA warned of the potential disaster in New Orleans as long ago as 2001, but the Bush camp diverted funds to prepare for and prevent the disaster to the war in Iraq.

    The Bush Administration had a four-day warning that a category 5 hurricane was barreling into the city, and all knew fully well the consequences would be just as severe as they were, in fact they believed they might be even more severe. Even so, there was no evacuation plan of any kind to remove residents, no response plan, no National Guard ready to deploy, no convoys of supplies for days, no fleets of medical staff with semi-trucks of medical supplies, generators, medicine, etc.

    The only evacuation plan presented was "get in your own car and get your own hotel room with your own credit card." 150,000 people were left behind, mostly poor and Black who didn't have those resources. They had four days. It would have taken 500 buses making three six-hour round-trips each to have taken these people to safety. Everyone who wanted to leave, and most of these people did want to leave, could have been evacuated in less than 18 hours. Why weren't these buses provided? Was even one public and free bus provided for the poor?

    Why weren't hundreds of convoys making their way to the city immediately after the hurricane? Even when the water became problematic, why weren't water and supplies air-dropped? If we can air drop supplies into a war zone thousands of miles away in a few hours, we can sure get them to Louisiana.

    Where was homeland security? How is it remotely possible that a sniper taking a shot at a helicopter can halt a rescue mission? Why did it take the Army and the National Guard to get there?

    People are dying by the scores by the hour, not from injuries incurred during the hurricane, but from dehydration and lack of medical supplies.

    Where is FEMA? If this is the top of their game, what's our fate if we have a really large metro catastrophe with millions trapped or injured?

    Why hasn't Congress called a special session already? And not just to approve appropriations but to order FEMA, the Guard, and the Army to do something? They moved more quickly over Terry Schiavo.

    Which brings me to the point, I think we all know. Congress, corporate America, and the Bush right care more about one brain dead and blind woman from an affluent family than they do about 150,000 poor, mostly healthy children, and mostly Black.

    Maybe it's just me, but I think it's wrong for a mother to put her baby into the arms of strangers to save its life or worse yet watch that baby die when it was so preventable.

    If this isn't enough to wrench people into action and the streets for justice, I really don't know what is.

    Call, write, email, and scream at your representatives. Now. Before more people die.

    Political Leaders Urge Gas Conservation

    Political Leaders Urge Gas Conservation

    GREAT weekend for me to be going out of town. Managed to fill up for $2.89 a gallon last night; prices seem to be jumping in increments of dimes rather than pennies.

    Selfish of me to be griping while I'm off to a family reunion at a time when so many have lost loved ones.

    Kuwaiti: 'The terrorist Katrina' is a soldier of Allah'

    'The terrorist Katrina' is a soldier of Allah'

    Maybe THAT would get Bush to DO something...

    Thursday, September 01, 2005

    Play ball?

    Play ball?

    Remember how after 9/11, everything "frivolous" like sports, theater, entertainment on television, just completely got shut down?

    Of course, it was mostly rich white people in those towers...

    Fats Domino missing in New Orleans floods

    Fats Domino missing in New Orleans floods

    Not that fame makes one life any more valuable than another, but his music is so closely associated with his home town...

    UPDATE: They found him OK.