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Scott Brown: How Facebook Exposed Us All as Freaks. Personally, I'm very, very reluctant to turn my personal preferences loose in the commercialized social networking realm. Lord knows, you can find out more about me here than I know myself, but do you really have the patience to wade through it all? I've got some security through obsecurity for some of the dots that are there for reconnection; who's got the time to read all this stuff?
But just because I have no Facebook Friends and no mob in MySpace, doesn't mean all that purchasing history, and pen registers (and full voice recordings, what the heck?), and georeferenced timestamps aren't out there for the taking. You'll have to pay for it if you want it, but the personal isn't as valuable as the aggregate, so once again, my garish colors will be muted by dilution, and with any luck, I'll keep my head down long enough for a safe exit.
Call me a glutton for punishment, but days after it was delivered, and fully disected by the punditocracy and when there must surely be more important things for me to be doing, I watched George W. Bush's final (hooray!) State of the Union address from Monday night. 7 years in, getting a standing ovation from the Congress for a line about how the Federal government ought to balance its budget. Excuse me? You who came in to office with a surplus, and mortgaged our country for decades to come?
I love the pasted-on grins of everyone in the crowd, having already read the speech and knowing what's coming. The veto threats that get his half of the House standing.
I love the decorum of the Men (and Woman) in Black, up front, sitting on their hands and keeping their own counsel. Perhaps their could be a rule that ovations have to follow their lead. The whole show would be half as long, I'm thinking.
What was that? "Help homeowners refinance their mortgages"? Which big corporation is going to get that money? The "epidemic of junk medical lawsuits." There's so much not to applaud for.
About the time he got into the trade agreements, both Nancy and Dick sitting behind him looked like they were fading. Hello, what's that over on stage left? Oh nothing. You are getting sleepy. Verrrry sleeeepy. (You'd think all that clapping would keep the left ear awake, anyway.)
Dick's got a leg up on Nancy, he can just turn up the speed on his ticker and perk up whenever he needs to.
"...embolden the purveyors of false populism..." Let's see, false populism, that sounds bad. Is he talking about Hugo, d'you suppose?
"Emissions free nukyular power"? Waste free, too? Greenhouse gases?! Hoo rah, look who got a clue, finally. He's committed to showing leadership by going last on that one.
That George W. Bush has a lot of gall, standing there in the well of the House and blathering about the occasional scientific result he likes, maybe a way to do stem cell research without it being "embryonic," "without the destruction of human life." All the blood on his hands, and he has a soft spot in his heart for blastocysts.
Ensuring that "all life is being treated with the dignity it deserves," he says, this man who started a war that led to hundreds of thousands of dead.
Such a uniter! Look at those Democratic members united in their stone-faced silence. The Republicans united in their hollering and applause and standing ovations.
The worst part of the speech is when he gets to what's closest to his heart, talking about evil and enemies and terrorists, and the "defining ideological struggle of the 21st century." I keep thinking about how what he accuses others of sounds so much like what he's done. "Evil men who despise freedom, despise America, and aim to subject millions to their violent rule...."
"We will deliver justice to our enemies." The men and women in uniform applaud, but do not stand for this royal "we."
Tara Rowe's endorsement of Clinton is a remarkable testimonial, and a story of inspiration over the years:
"By the time I was twelve I had memorized Kennedy's greatest speeches, the speech at Rice where he promised we would make it to the moon, his speech on the world stage in Berlin, and the speech he was to give in Dallas on November 22, 1963...."
While there may well be "more at stake in this election than most of us realize," it has more to do with our limited capacity for realization than not seeing issues of import coming at us. A war without end in the middle east, the deflated housing bubble, the tanking economy, the mortgage on our grandchildren's future, the highest incarceration rate in the world, the threats of global climatic disruption and nuclear proliferation, and on and on. We live in interesting times.
Leadership matters, even more than it did in 2000, when the electorate was willing to flip a coin, and take a flier on a good-time Charlie who couldn't find the middle east on a map.
I'd be OK with either of the Democrats left in the race, but the sum of my reservations are a little higher for Clinton than Obama at this point.
I'm sorry to hear that Edwards has given up the campaign; it's so much more interesting with more participants than with fewer, and his presence seemed to keep more focus on the issues instead of the infighting and personalities. Boise's bracing for a visit from a Democratic candidate for President, most incredibly, and then the Tuesday caucuses.
Of the remaining two contenders, Obama has the only detectible campaign presence, which was lively enough before the news of his visit broke. I'm guessing Tuesday will bring him a big win in our "little" state.
Sawtoothcamera.com has a collection of guest photos that is too big for a window spread across both my monitors. "Page may load slowly," as we say, but it's worth the wait to have a look at central Idaho's beauty.
"It bordered on science fiction to think that someone as liberal on as
many issues as Rudy Giuliani could become the Republican nominee.
Rudy didn’t even care enough about conservatives to lie to us."
–Nelson Warfield, Republican consultant
Quoted by Michael Powell and Michael Cooper, For Giuliani, a Dizzying Free-Fall.
Caroline Kennedy's Op-Ed is worth a read: A President Like My Father. She and I must be close to exactly the same age...
"...There is a generation coming of age that is hopeful, hard-working, innovative and imaginative. But too many of them are also hopeless, defeated and disengaged. As parents, we have a responsibility to help our children to believe in themselves and in their power to shape their future. Senator Obama is inspiring my children, my parents’ grandchildren, with that sense of possibility."
Didn't watch it, although I have it recorded (I think, assuming PBS did preempt their regular programming). Maybe I'll get to it, I don't know. While listening to the talking heads on Charlie Rose pick it apart, I read Steven Lee Myers' news analysis and stopped at this:
"(T)hough he declared that the state of the union would remain strong, as tradition obliges presidents to do, only 19 percent of Americans think the country is generally on the right track, as low a number as any recorded."
Martha Radatz says that on foreign policy, the speech avoided mention of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Not just on the wrong track, but utterly in denial, too.
No, it's not a left-over ticket from someone who messed up the reservation for Iowa and went to Idaho instead... he's really coming here on purpose, Saturday. I guess since I'm wondering why, this makes me a pundit; Julie noted that pundits will be wondering why he's coming here when there are bigger fish to fry on the weekend before Super-duper Tuesday. We do like visitors... if I were going to be in town, I would probably try to go say "hey."
A year ago today, my dad died.
I miss him, I remember him, I look at that picture of us reflected in a mirror in a shop in Del Mar, and I feel him standing right next to me, that mischievous, boyish grin enjoying the moment, enjoying us being together, finding surprises in the everyday world.
The condo in Milwaukee finally sold, and the last of the belongings were parceled out, forwarded, or given to charity. The new owner bought some of the cabinetry that was made just for the place, that was nice. Dad was always building things in, he loved to show off closet improvements, clever drawers, various handy innovations he'd come up with.
We had a hole in our kitchen floor, behind the door, neatly trimmed out with a standard collar for a garbage disposer. Down in the basement, there was a paint can set up in the ceiling joists underneath the hole, so that the kitchen floor could be swept, into the hole behind the door, and the sweepings emptied from the paint can every once in a while, so that you didn't need to keep a dustpan around.
The last part of his estate to arrive was a big, plush rug with a beautiful, complex pattern. We unrolled it and laid it out under the kitchen table, where it can keep our feet warm against the one floor in the house that's over a crawl space instead of our own basement.
As part of remembering, I re-read what he wrote after 9/11, The Real Challenge Facing America, long before we compounded our reaction with the horrifically misguided and unjust war in Iraq, and thought about how we have yet to meet our challenges in a positive way.
Betsy Russell reports in the Spokesman-Review that all 14 of the recommendations from the "House Family Task Force" led by Emmett Representative Steven Thayn were removed from the final report to the Legislature, "under pressure from House majority leaders."
Families are good, and important, and we want to support them, and help them. 'Nuff said.
Jim Schrempp and I amused ourselves with an email conversation this morning, and one of many ideas tossed about between the messages and our websites was 20 Questions, an innocent little game that I gave a whirl, thinking of "snow." If you feel that 20Q is in error, the only way to correct it is to play again! it says, but I'm not sure it'll ever get beyond Contradictions Detected for that one.
Does it shine? You said Sometimes, 20Q was taught by other players that the answer is No.
Is it round? You said Sometimes, 20Q was taught by other players that the answer is No.
Does it spin? You said Sometimes, 20Q was taught by other players that the answer is No.
Is it made in many different styles? You said Yes, 20Q was taught by other players that the answer is No.
Do you use it at night? You said Yes, 20Q was taught by other players that the answer is No.
Does it move? You said Sometimes, 20Q was taught by other players that the answer is No.
Can it be used more than once? You said Yes, 20Q was taught by other players that the answer is No.
(Well, it's true there are no tracks like the first ones.)
In the twilight of his career, our senior and once singing Senator refuses to go quietly into the dark night. He's strutting about his Sterling Three-peat, garnering a Silver Mouse for Seventh Best Senate Site. A forwarded copy of his electronic newsletter led me to the site, and by jiminy, I have to say it's quite well done. I signed up for my own copy, so I can vote on his eVIEWS polls, such as the current one, "How will you use most of the money you receive from the economic stimulus package?" (There was a radio button for "Other," but he wasn't interested in finding out more.)
It's made me a bit more interested in ColdFusion, which I gather is what the interactive features are built with, pages ending in .cfm and all. You can see the archive of eNews, subscribe to it, or to his RSS feed, or play a video of his Washington Report, introduced with a martial fanfare, and anchored by the lilting narration of Iris Amador, pretending she's reporting, instead of press releasing.
Beyond the eye candy and well-designed interactive features, I see that Craig seems to think the rest of us have finally caught up with him on what he's been working on "for years," reducing our dependence on foreign oil: "After three decades of policy work on energy independence and clean energy development, it appears the American public is taking note of energy again."
Such as in the results of his Nov. 30 survey, pie-charted in the accompanying sidebar: How much more would you pay for a car that gets 5 miles per gallon more than what you get now? The cheapest option beyond "Nothing" was $1,000. Almost two-thirds of the 386 "voters" said "Nothing." Check back when gas hits $5, $6, $10 a gallon. Yet earlier, 84% of 226 "voters" said the U.S. should reduce carbon emissions by "Establish(ing) clean energy and efficiency standards for individual sectors (autos, fuels, power, forests, agriculture)." Go figure.
There is at least one accomplishment he lists that sounds good to me: "helping to convince the Departments of Defense and Energy to cancel the Divine Strake weapons test, which had the potential to affect the health of Idahoans."
Good on ya for that, Larry.
After I'd struck a glancing blow at the power of positive thinking, acknowledging its fuzzy surface but noting the limits of its power, I got a private reply leading me to look up the Law of Attraction.
The Universe will provide just what you need. What a delightful and charming bit of tripe, right next door to the recognition that God blesses the righteous with bounteous wealth. I'd come across the idea and way of thinking often enough, just hadn't seen it Named such.
Funny thing is, there are so many attractive elements of social interaction, though. We find friends like ourselves, and we become more like our friends (and spouses,and pets). And of course, if we apply ourselves to something, we can become... wallpaper! Oh wait...
Then there's the realm of cognitive dissonance: we see, hear, feel what we want (or expect, or need) to see, hear, feel. The inevitable denouement of every online discussion that isn't limited to mutual reinforcment is the various camps shouting with increased enthusiasm LA LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU until the opposition gives up, falls asleep, runs away.
As one side in comments about a global warming-related article said, decrying denier-deniers, "there are two sides to everything." And as another side said, "there are many more than two sides to everything."
Except Möbius strips. Those only have one side.
I've never read a lick of John Grisham, which I guess puts me in some kind of weird minority. Or should I say, another weird minority. But now I've seen him talk, and heard some of what's on his mind.
Bill Moyers: You once called the war "a moral abomination."
John Grisham: I did. Still do.
Bill Moyers: How so?
John Grisham: Well, it's, you know, we attacked a sovereign nation that did—was not threatening us. What was our justification? I don't know. We were lied to by our leaders. It wasn't what they said it was.
The Center for Public Integrity has done some research on "what they said it was," and added up some 935 lies.
One of the readers responding to the Freakonomics Quorum discussing "What Don’t We Know About the Pharmaceutical Industry?" complained "What’s Freakonomics about this?" No "objective data analysis, just different points of view." But what interesting points of view:
The first point of view in the list is the most important one for public policy, however, from a professor of medicine, epidemiology, and public health at Yale: "pharmaceutical companies, along with their consulting academic physicians, have engaged in practices that obscure or misrepresent information about their products." ("Consulting physician" in this context is a codeword for "technical marketing representative" as artfully described by Dr. Drug Rep's memoir in the NYT Magazine last November.
The campaign's gone a bit quiet on my blog of late, as the also-rans slowly give it up, but at least until Super-Duper-Tuesday, we've got a couple of three-ways going, and providing grist for a lot of milling. Speaking of which, here's Mitt milling with some regular folk of a different color, fishing for a suitable cultural reference and establishing a new high-water mark in the Cringe Comedy genre.
(Speaking of that genre, LowerManhattanite refers, and links, to the original BBC series, "The Office," which I haven't seen. But I did come to the realization on my own that what was so funny about the U.S. version was the way it could keep you cringing for a half hour at a time.)
IdaBlue blogrolls LegiBloggers, 3:1 Democrats, hmmm. The official Idaho Legislature website lists members "personal" sites for the House and Senate. Just for grins, I loaded the 13 Senate links, and found:
Having done that, I guess I need to do the House, too.
"Surfing the web so you don't have to."
Snow overnight &
the poplars glowed
in diffuse morning light
white on silver
against pale blue sky;
& I circled
the grove, laughed
to see each other
grabbing pieces of
My recent breathless accounts of raptors in our yard now stand corrected by further experience and consultation. Bird identification has never been my strong suit; I'm better at plants, which don't try to run—or fly—away while you examine them. I don't know for sure what's been lunching here, but it's safe to say it hasn't been one or more peregrine falcons. Best guess is now the relatively ubquitous American kestrel, Falco sparverius, or else the Sharp-shinned Hawk, Accipiter striatus.
We saw one of these at church, perching atop of silver poplar on Sunday, and I snapped some bad pictures of it, hoping to at least be able to identify what was at first too far away to see unaided. (Then it flitted around the trees next to the parking lot, carefully dodging my shutter finger.)
My consultant reassures me that "all the books say that differentiating these raptors is among the most difficult problem in birding," and provides a yardstick: "Is this a little bigger than a robin (kestrel); a little smaller than a crow (sharpie); or bigger (cooper's hawk)?"
Wasn't bigger than a crow.
Update: Turns out I have an even more expert friend, a past President of the Golden Eagle Audubon Society. He assures me that my photos have the jizz to identify an American kestrel.
We hear from the new state Democratic Party chairman, Keith Roark, who thinks Bowers' "obsession [is it that serious?] with imagined 'communist plots' shows a failure to focus on issues important to Idahoans." Roark thinks Bowers may have made the 1992 meeting up; and if not, what was he doing meeting with Communists, anyway?
Ok, that's a little silly, but the larger point stands: we don't need to keep fighting the Cold War. Bowers' novel take on the continuing culture war that pits the Ward and June Cleaver model of family values against the rights of actual people doesn't add anything to the make-believe side of the equation.
A more personal view comes from Representative Nicole LeFavour. She may not be the only Idaho Legislator who's blogging, but hers is the first one I've seen, and her heartfelt post about what it's like to be "different" from the rest of the group, with its response to Curtis Bowers is a good one.
And another entry notes a suitable commemoration for Martin Luther King Day: the Senate State Affairs Committee (at least) is willing to have the Legislature consider "ending centuries of discrimination against gays and lesbians in employment, housing, education and public accommodation."
In the holiday edition of his daily update: "note: 'Human Rights' is a code word for the homosexual, feminist and secular fundamentalist agenda."
Who knew?! Was Ronald Reagan a secret agent for said agenda?
Hard to know which quote to pull from Maureen Dowd's Red, White and Blue Tag Sale with so many to choose from. Will it be the "sword dance," the "stallion inspection," or "his fur-lined George of Arabia robe"? (She covered the bling in her previous column.) Or the capsule description of how the Republicans lost the 2008 election: "Now it’s a race between Iraq, stupid, or the economy, stupid, to see which one will usher out W"?
You know you're in trouble when Dowd starts writing about economics.
"The country is engaged in a fit of nativism and Lou Dobbsism, obsessing about the millions of Mexicans who might be sneaking across the border when billions in foreign money are pouring into Citigroup. You figure out what might be a bigger problem."
Frank Rich is writing about economics, too.
"Mike Huckabee alone made affinity for economically struggling Americans his calling card. Unfortunately, Huckanomics is more snake oil. All federal taxes would be replaced by a national sales tax that despite its Orwellian name (the Fair Tax) would shift more of the burden to middle- and low-income Americans.
"For the other Republicans, the downturn has been an occasion to recycle the mindless what-me-worry optimism of the pre-1929 G.O.P. presidents and Wall Street potentates since relegated to history’s dustbin...."
Two additions to the site's collection of documents today, in two very different realms...
This one a contribution from my better half, billed as "a preface to a resolution of what the US/individuals in Boise can do to further a peaceful resolution of conflict in Iraq (and related territories) following US action (preemptive invasion and destruction of Saddam Hussein's/Baathist party control of Iraq in spring of 2003 and the consequent occupation and coercive control of the country)."
My review of Ed Slott's 2003 book, The Retirement Savings Time Bomb... A Five-Step Action Plan for Protecting Your IRAs, 401(k)s, and Other Retirement Plans from Near Annihilation by the Taxman, was motivated by the loan on my copy from the Boise Public Library running out, and a desire to capture its useful information for my own reference. I figured I might as well share my work...
As noted in the notes, there's a new edition, a 2007 paperback, available for a bargain price from Amazon, or your favorite bookstore.
Bill Moyers kicked off his Journal this week with a moving essay, on Clinton, Obama, King and Johnson, drawing from his first-hand experience of the civil rights movement, to distill the history out of Hillary Clinton's observation about the power of the Presidency, after those itching for a fight did their best to stir it into a racial tempest.
"Of course the movement had come first, watered by the blood of so many, championed bravely now by the preacher turned prophet who would himself soon be martyred. But there is no inevitability to history, someone has to seize and turn it. With these words at the right moment—we shall overcome—Lyndon Johnson transcended race and color, and history, too—reminding us that a president matters, and so do we."
In the rest of the program, Moyers interviewed authors of some interesting books that I've been thinking I should read sooner, rather than later: David Cay Johnston's FREE LUNCH: How the wealthiest Americans enrich themselves at government expense and stick you with the bill, and Craig Unger's House of Bush, House of Saud: The Secret Relationship Between the World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties and, most recently, The Fall of the House of Bush: The Untold Story of How a Band of True Believers Seized the Executive Branch, Started the Iraq War, and Still Imperils America's Future.
As the NewsHour ran down the week's campaign events, I noticed the backgrounds in Margaret Warner's 1-on-1s with the candidates. Huckabee: a non-background: beige-walled room, pussy willows in a vase. McCain: on his campaign bus, as it starts to roll by nothing in particular. (Too bad they haven't washed the windows lately.) Thompson: in front of a stump stage, the porta-background looks like a Jeopardy set... ("Last Republican running with zero chance" Ah... Who is Fred Thompson?) and last but not least, Mitt Romney, perfectly positioned alongside his Washington is Broken poster, with the message that... hey, Washington is Broken. And I have a white horse named Businessman that I am going to ride to the rescue.
Yeah, well, we tried that with the last guy who claimed he was going to be a "CEO" President, building on his success at being born into a rich, white, and well-connected family to become a rich, white, and well-connected businessman. Great credentials for accumulating more wealth, but not necessarily so great for being a leader in a democracy.
I wrote my share of letters to Congresscritters over the years, and the ease of electronic communication has increased the frequency of messages from me. Almost all of the time, I'm asking for support for something the person hasn't made a point of supporting, or disagreeing with the position of the person, as I understand it. It's not that I'm disagreeable by nature (although I have heard it said...), it's just that unless they're taking an unpopular stand and need an attaboy from those who agree, I take agreement to signal "no action required" on my part. Plenty to do.
Everyone likes a certain amount of positive reinforcement, which is perhaps why the Representative from that next Congressional District over, Bill Sali, writes to tell me about his fishing expedition last month, asking his constituents to "write me and let me know if they support my efforts to combat illegal immigration." He's proud to report that he's "received more than 10,000 letters saying they support my call for more border enforcement, no amnesty, English as the official language and enforcing our existing immigration laws."
Nice to throw in that English language kicker, eh? We don't want you here, and we don't like the way you talk, either.
Of course, these 10,000 "letters" were not the spontaneous and unique expressions of that many of his constituents, providing their unique opinions to the Congressman and put in the mail with a 41 cent stamp, nor were they emails containing personal messages. They were returns (MG tells me the constituents did have to supply their own postage, at least) of the "Legislative Opinion Ballot" that Bill enclosed in his "newsletter" to his constituents. Astoundingly, few (none?) of his constituents checked the box that says
No! We must find a way to allow illegal immigrants to stay in our country without penalty.
and (most?) everyone who didn't just chuck the thing in the trash where it belongs checked the Yes! box, "strongly" supporting
a renewed emphasis on fixing our illegal immigration problems focusing on border enforcement, no amnesty, English as the official language and enforcing existing immigration laws.
Maybe some even did add something to the two-line "Comments" field, like, oh, I don't know, EFFIN RIGHT ON BILL!!!!
With representative democracy like this, who needs tyranny?
Maybe Sali's next Congressional Update will include his sob story about being targeted by "Cronies of former President Bill Clinton," Clintonites (what, no Clintonistas?) and yes, even "the Clintons" themselves. (Who knew? They're running that big campaign and attacking Bill Sali behind his back, too. They must be all-powerful.)
Note the brave conclusion to Sali's press release: let's see those Clintons come to Idaho and run for something! He dares them.
Good background piece in The Boise Weekly about the manuevering for and against developing nuclear power in our fair state.
This part is interesting: a law passed last year that offers help from the state to its cities and counties for advice and counsel regarding energy production facilities, but in exchange, they're precluded from "consider(ing) the potential need or use for the energy produced. Nor are they able to consider the financial characteristics of the energy purchasers. Last but not least, the bill—which Otter signed into law in July, about the same time that Weatherby's energy plan had become public—forbade counties from considering any alternative energy options when they were considering the new production sites."
My name was carried to the U.S. House of Representatives last night, in the company of almost 200,000 others, signators to Robert Wexler's petition calling for hearings to consider articles of impeachment against Vice-president Richard B. Cheney.
"We owe it to history to investigate and record the many abuses of this Administration. We cannot allow the unlawful actions of President Bush and Vice President Cheney to be become precedent for future administrations."
Curtis Bowers channeling Paul Revere for the Communist Menace barking at our shores is getting a lot of mileage out of his Idaho Press-Tribune screed. The IP-T's own follow-up story has some nice details, including "general agreement" from another of our fine Legislators on the three-pronged Communist agenda to overthrow society (you thought it was just the homosexual agenda, ha!), and a rebuttal from someone else who says he was at the fateful 1992 meeting. One hopeful sign: there were a few Legislators smart enough to "decline to comment" on the dust-up.
The Boise Weekly came up with the photograph evidence, sort of.
Thanks to the unequivocal notion for keeping track of the comedy, and all the links.
Thanks to Sheryl Dowlin's videographic magic, you can enjoy William McNary's keynote address at last Friday's UVI banquet.
"At US Action, we say there are three kinds of people, there are people that make things happen there are people that watch things happen and then there are people that don't knoooooooowhat's happenin'..."
NBC "wins" the right to exclude one of the Presidential candidates from their Nevada debate. Too bad the other Democratic candidates didn't see it as a chance to shown union-like solidarity and tell the company that they wouldn't be participating, either.
Brad Talbutt's account of last night's symposium on the Iraq war, held at the Boise Unitarian Universalist Fellowship was accurate enough, for as far as it went. Which wasn't very far, considering that many of the people who took the trouble to come, stayed to listen and discuss the issue for 3½ hours on a Sunday night.
The panel, and the audience, did not represent the full range of opinion on the subject, by any means. Like the vast majority of the U.S., we are now opposed to the war. (Unlike the vast majority, many of us have opposed to the war from before it started.)
The panelists were pretty much agreed we need to get out, the differences in how quick and how complete the withdrawal should be.
Dr. Richard Slaughter, Co-founder and Vice President of American Committees on Foreign Relations and Director of the Boise Committee on Foreign Relations made an excellent point toward the end, answering the question of how you get a government to admit a mistake, and change course? The answer is that YOU DON'T. You CHANGE THE GOVERNMENT.
Slaughter also made the point more than once that we, the people get the government we ask for, as if this war was somehow what we really wanted, and not something we (and our Congress) were tricked and manipulated into.
I'm not so sure about that, but there is certainly a broad middle of this country willing to be led wherever they're told to go. We re-elected George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, driven by the fear that this administration so artfully fed, and continues to feed.
Rabbi Dan Fink's discursion on the unmet pre-requisites for a "Just War" was somewhat old news, but given that this is not the last time the Congress, and our Press are going to fail us, it bore repeating. Too many of our citizens confuse the largest military in the world with "just means," as if it ability provides ample cause, authority, and justification. For those situations when war IS justified, the entire population must fight together. Not JUST the poor, and economically disadvantaged, while the rich are exhorted to take their tax breaks and shop harder.
Veterans for Peace member Steve Scanlin identified what may be the most important response, with a long-term view: "We need to create a culture of peace," starting with anti-bullying programs in grade school. We must be the change we want to see. And we must plan on working on this for generations to come, to out-work, and out-live the legacy of Bush's debacle.
I've been so busy keeping up the publicity elsewhere that I haven't gotten around to mentioning here that we're having a get-together to talk about what we (as a multifaceted religious community) can agree on concerning Mr. Bush's war on Iraq.
Should we get the hell out, when, and how? Or should we plan on staying for 50 years, or a hundred years, as John McCain apparently thinks is the appropriate planning horizon?
Let's talk about it.
The comments on newspaper sites tend to be the sort of thing that the academic "journalists" decry as the clanging gongs of the Intertubes, but I did get a kick out of "reddog181's" header for its response to the news that the Good Old Boys met for a straw poll on Saturday and declared Mitt Romney to be Idahoans' choice for a Republican Presidential candidate.
And Fred Thompson, they like him, too. Law and Order is so popular in these parts.
Tip to Ridenbaugh Press for flagging the "news" item of how the Republicans go about the business of electoral politics in our state.
Update: Speaking of how they go about that... right below the straw poll story in the paper paper, was John Miller's AP Story about the continuing flappage over closing the Republican primary. (If the AP wanted to serve you, they would; get Betsy Russell's account in the Spokesman-Review, I guess.) Rod Beck accuses the Party chair of a stalking horse bill. Who'd vote to pay $800,000 to let Republicans have their way, after all? Except other Republicans of course. Who kind of run the Idaho government... So we'll see.)
Ok then, I went through the list and trimmed out the folks who've given it up (or moved with no forwarding address), updated links to the ones who are still going, somewhere else. The cardinal rule is, keep writing.
The alignment has never been perfect, but in this random walk adventure known as the internet, when I find something I find striking, I'll link to it. If you think you're striking (and well-aligned, or even nicely contrapuntal), drop me a line and I'll consider adding you to the list.
I do have a sort-of rule that coincides with my own non-anonymity; I want a surname to use for the link text. It's not a 100% firm rule; there are some group blogs in there, and I'll consider noms de plume, if the fit is good.
My periodic vetting of the blogroll brought me to Jay Rosen's response to an academic gasbag's lament of the lack of journalism in the blogosphere, that "loudest corner of the Internet, noisy with disputation, manifesto-like postings and an unbecoming hatred of enemies real and imagined."
We're criticized for the foolishness of writing for free, and not writing well enough, along with our delusions. ("Something larger is needed: the patient sifting of fact, the acknowledgment that assertion is not evidence and, as the best writers understand, the depiction of real life.")
Rosen points out that "something more" includes doing your homework before riffing criticism on something you haven't really researched all that well. We have that problem out here, too.
That's the only rational justification that's come to mind for the NYT bringing William Kristol on as an Op-Ed columnist. Tom Tomorrow captures the craziness in a prefatory subhead, a single drawing, and 11 memorable quotes...
And a blog entry: "...he shouldn’t have been hired because he has been wrong on everything over the course of this war, not to mention the fact that he is an operator first and a commentator second, and his commentary is frequently and deliberately dishonest and misleading in the service of his objectives."
Why else would he accept a position with the "irredeemable" bastian of liberalism in media?
Since I blogged Luna's iSTARS site, it's only fair to give equal links to the Idaho Education Association's alternative: under IEA's Pay Plan you wouldn't have to forfeit your right to due process in order to get a raise.
Turns out that the teachers themselves rather favor the IEA approach over Luna-cy. Nathaniel Hoffman runs down some of the history and handicapping in the Boise Weekly Unda' the Rotunda feature:
An independent survey of the Association's members found that 92 percent favor the union plan... which includes upping base pay for teachers across the board and some performance-based bonuses as well.
(Boise school board member Rory) Jones said the Luna plan did not take into account the desires of most teachers, who want to increase their pay, but not fundamentally alter the whole package: "Teachers are not saying change the way we are paid, it's unfair."
Criminy, and I thought we'd won the Cold War. Curtis Bowers, the latest reactionary addition to the Idaho Legislature, courtesy of a güber-appointment, shares the insight he gained from meeting with Communists 16 years ago. It's a vast conspiracy, don't you know. Cohabitation to destroy families, environmentalism to destroy business, and homosexuals to destroy our culture by eliminating religion and morality.
It was too incredible for him to take seriously as a threat back when the Berlin Wall had just been torn down. He set himself about opening Mona Lisa Fondue restaurants instead of working to stop the menace. Then he got on to real estate wheeling and dealing, until Butch's call to serve came out of the blue.
Is Bowers providing a clarion call to circle our societal wagons, or is he perhaps a double-agent, infiltrating our Legislature with mock protestations of a culture war, and the tired clichés of "activist judges" as cover for a regressive agenda designed to waste the precious time of our citizen lawmakers?
Finally took the leap (no, not the Lambeau Leap, at least not yet) into the world of Digital Video Recording. It is possible to be overly frugal, and now that I can pause "live" TV—of course!— and rewind, or fast forward, or skip ahead—naturally!—all I can think to ask is... why did we wait so long?
Well, I know some of the answers: fear of monthly fees, the 2-year contracts, the sign-up process that's incredibly dense and winds up swimming in microscopic fine print, the incomprehensible billing, and last but not least the multi-corporate business model with too many automated phone menus and a shell game of "bundle discounts" between me and satisfaction.
The last time I ended up talking to DirecTV, the agent said that due to our account information, she had to charge me an extra $50. Ok? Ah, no, not OK. Especially when she couldn't explain why there'd be that extra half a hundred going from us to them. Weeks pass, try again... and the extra $50 didn't come up this time around.
Events conspired to make the installation visit overlap with Packers game time—oh no!—but our dish guy did an exemplary job of keeping the essential feed alive while he converted from the old box to the new, got through the setup, reboots and essential training.
We're now dashing through the snow, and the commercials, and getting just the parts we want. Life is good.
Yes, TV is still vile and pernicious but if you've bought the package, you might as well buy the one that comes with a DVR.
I found myself in the company of a big banquet hall full of progressives, and found myself enjoying the event more than I expected to. Met some of those neighborhood bloggers with the funny names and was gratified to see that I didn't look like too much of a doofus in the video testimonial to Julie Fanselow. (On the day-of, I'd forgot about the interview, and was still in bed at 9am, when the doorbell rang; not exactly how I like to prepare for performance.)
Serephin and D2 were sounding a little scripted, but they had a nice script with a good punchline; and Serephin took the trouble to produce the highlight of the whole testimonial set. Thanks to Sheri Dowlin for a huge amount of work to make the testimonial speechifying creative and fun rather than a drag on the night's festivity.
My favorite part of the evening though, was the keynote speech from William McNary, of USAction, raising the roof, rallying the troops, and riveting the wait staff along with the rest of the crowd that stuck it out past 9:30.
The Bush/Cheney administration has done so much to erode good will in government (never a strong category to begin with), they have plenty of "wealth" to share. Every news statement about the cellar-dwelling positives in poll numbers about Bush have to mention how little confidence we citizens have in Congress. (And yet... we almost always re-elect incumbents, go figure. And hate ourselves for doing it?)
Discussing Bush's Incredible Invisible Veto of the Defense budget authorization, and the resulting lack of support for the troops, Paul Rieckhoff wonders what's going to follow this redefinition of "veto":
Will Congress invoke the little-known "I'm rubber, you're glue" rule? Will the president respond by redefining "Congress"?
As the administration continues to plow through effective government like a drunken bull in a china shop, they wave their horns at Congress, and blame them. See? Government is broken! We should have less of it!
Ah, celebrity. You'd think our gloriously unique wilderness (and Wildernesses) would attract high-profile visitors on a regular basis, but the truth is, we're out of the way, geographically, as well as politically. The few people who have found their way to Idaho, and settled down, are mostly here because they like being somewhere out of the way. Wilderness, after all, requires a significant committment to experience (much less enjoy), and even among supposedly rugged Idahoans, the truly committed are hard to find.
Good on the local Dems for snagging Markos Moulitsas Zúniga for the premier annual Party get-together.
I guess if I have any hope of maintaining my bona fides as part of the "progressive Idaho blogosphere" I have to buzz about this. So, bzzzz.
While it's somewhat interesting to hear Senator Craig's thoughts on Democracy as a Universal Value, and the big news that he's going to be Senate speechifying about "a plan for energy independence in our country by the year 2030," we do have to note just how far afield he's had to go to find an interviewer who doesn't have any questions about his disorderly conduct case in Minnesota: the Czech Republic.
They know he's a "prominent U.S. policy maker," but apparently not why.
The coercive way: California's proposed policy for Programmable Communicating Thermostats with non-removable radio links to allow Big Brother to control your energy use.
The smarter way: better feedback, and market incentives.
"Over a 20-year period, this could save $70 billion on spending for power plants and infrastructure, and avoid the need to build the equivalent of 30 large coal-fired plants, say scientists at the federal laboratory."
I'm not sure if the headline writer and the author of the story were on the same page, or if perhaps the former was being ironic with Gold hits record high. Is now the time to invest? There's no byline, or attribution, and no sign of the "how to invest" story as printed today in the Statesman, although they do have the AP story about the sort-of record high.
It's got a lovely up-and-to-the-right graph covering the last two years, with a caption NOT AS GOOD AS 1980 when gold hit $2,200 in inflation-adjusted numbers. How would that be for a "smart way to diversify your portfolio, particularly as a hedge against inflation"? "Over the long run," the story continues, "gold is likely to hold its value."
As will the rather attractive selection of bridges I have for sale. Please contact me for pricing information, and specify your preference for suspension, truss, or arch.
The New York Times is off to the races again, with another interactive Election Guide with fascinating ways to look at the myriad state contests, and continuing their standard-setting on informative and interesting use of the web.
Not just state-by-state, but county-by-county results, margins of victory, and maps of where candidates' money is coming from. Clinton was closing in on a hundred $million by the end of the 3rd quarter last year, more than the bottom 12 candidates combined. Those maps use the "sliding window" first seen on Google's stock charts, to allow you to focus week-by-week, or animate the cash flow over the year.
Some of the also-rans have chipped in a small amount of their own money for their campaigns, but of the top six, only Romney has that kind of money he's prepared to burn. $17.4 million of it, through September of last year.
Handicap the coming contests in Florida, Michigan, Nevada, South Carolina, review 6 x 15 = 90 issue blurbs (linked to 90 pages detailing candidates' positions), and more, more, more.
You can't even get choked up on the campaign trail without being put under the microscope, for sure. Is Hillary too stingy with emotion? Was this latest teaspoon stage-managed? If it was, that woman ought to be in pictures, she's good.
The phrase that banged on me was the one highlighted by others: "Some of us are right, some of us are wrong," she said.
We had enough of that Good/Evil, Right/Wrong, Black/White crap under the Bush administration, let's move on.
I sometimes feel a little self-conscious about our pseudo-wild landscaping here on the west bench, trees and shrubs that never seem to get as much pruning as they might, leaves and spent plants and a champion compost heap keeping us close to nature.
But then I look out the window at our straggly honeysuckle and see it getting worked over by a flock of chickadees and a squirrel or two, and figure that we're OK, we're contributing to urban wildlife.
While typing away yesterday, I heard the clunk of a bird hitting the window in the next room. (I wouldn't have recognized the sound, but for having had a bird clunk into the window in front of me a couple weeks ago.) I stuck my head out the door to see if it was still around, but no. As I was telling Jeanette about it, and she surmised that something might have been chasing it, another (?) Peregrine falcon swooped down into the back yard, with a chickadee in its grasp! Exciting times in the suburbs.
In 2000, slightly less than half of the voters wanted a change, and got more than they bargained for, I'm thinking. In 2004, maybe slightly more than half of the voters wanted to stay the course. And now in 2008, when great balls of fire, we need some things to change, all the candidates for President want to be your guy (or gal) for change. And experience. For the primary season, they also want to be their party's guy (or gal) on the proper side of the hottest hot-button partisan issues.
We hardly need a reminder to be careful what we wish for at this point, but Michael Kinsley points out that there's also a fair possibility that we don't really want what they say we do. Or that we say we do, after we've been spun around a few too many times.
"(B)eing the candidate of change in some vague and meaningless way gives you cover to come out for stasis in most of the particulars. Americans say they want change, and think they want it, but there is room for doubt. The candidates of real, serious change, like Dennis Kucinich or Ron Paul, are going to be dropping like petals. And no wonder: they are scary. Change is scary."
Frank Rich is ready for change, excited about "an election that was not a referendum on either the Clinton or Bush presidencies," but not so big on change-as-slogan: "a brand now so broad and debased that both Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney appropriated it for their own campaigns." But as a focus-tested slogan, it "does not do justice to the fresh starts that Mr. Obama and Mr. Huckabee represent."
File that under "things you never expected to hear from a commentator for a football game." I don't know that there's a foul for grabbing someone by the hair, but if they've figured out that chop blocks, and low blocks and horse collars are bad, the hair-pull must be something that would be foul. If you can afford the maintenance then, what's the downside to having in-your-face hair?
It might hang down out of bounds on you.
"Biding my time until the Packers game."
Randy Stapilus thinks there might be more to the Iowa-Idaho connection if their caucus result signals the eventual candidates the parties will put forward. Not having Clinton, or Romney in the race would both be good for non-Republicans in Idaho.
Thank goodness for Bill Moyers' Journal giving us the chance to listen to intelligent give and take between two of the better candidates that aren't getting as much publicity as they deserve, Ron ("too scary for Fox News") Paul and Dennis ("banned by the Des Moines Register") Kucinich.
And not hear: Harry Shearer hosts two of the candidates formerly known as front-runners.
(Bet you can't watch just one of Harry's videos on My Damn Channel... maybe... some soft jazz? No Cooler for the Scooter maybe? But the Silent Debate joke isn't funny enough for 4 or 5 of those, I'll admit.)
Jared Diamond asks What's Your Consumption Factor? on the way to describing how the economic developing of our 5.5 billion not-so-developed planetary neighbors adds up to more than our planet's carrying capacity.
The bad news is that "whether we get there willingly or not, we shall soon have lower consumption rates, because our present rates are unsustainable." The good news is that "living standards are not tightly coupled to consumption rates," so we can lower our consumption without lowering our standards.
"Just as it is certain that within most of our lifetimes we’ll be consuming less than we do now, it is also certain that per capita consumption rates in many developing countries will one day be more nearly equal to ours. These are desirable trends, not horrible prospects. In fact, we already know how to encourage the trends; the main thing lacking has been political will."
Idaho's anti-intellectual bias (and hostility toward public education) often shows up in who we put in charge of our schools. Our latest Superintendent of Public Education, Tom Luna, has come up with a plan to bribe public school teachers out of what little job security they enjoy, as an "incentive" plan to somehow improve the process, or at least test scores.
Can we really be so short-sighted as to make education about test scores?
That's a rhetorical question of course; George W. Bush's glorious "No Child Left Behind" initiative has already done that. At least Luna has a sense of limitation about his proposal—we agree on one thing: "It would be a waste of our time, and eveyone else's time, to put forth a plan that isn't going to go anywhere," he says.
Anne Wallace Allen's reporting in the Statesman gives a succinct description of the quid pro quo:
The plan, known as iSTARS, would reward teachers who opt out of their continuing employment contracts, making it easier for districts to fire them.
This would be a brilliant idea if the problems with education were centered on the difficulty of firing teachers.
The flashy state website for the Idaho State Teacher Advancement and Recognition System has a half-hour speech from Luna, telling us how he's fulfilling his campaign promise of "solving the problem of low teacher pay" with his proposal. Just adding 2 or 3% per year is not going to get the job done, he says.
$60 million for an "alternative pay plan for teachers," building an alternate "career ladder" for teachers who want to give up the idea of secure employment in return for getting "pay for performance."
"Category 4" employees, don't become "at will" employees; they can still get "multi" (as in 2, or 3) year contracts. They will still have a contract... See if Luna's explanation makes you feel better about him coming up with a broad new employment arrangement for you:
"The other issue is that teachers may find out at the end of their contract that their contract will no longer be renewed. Again, because of the 'rolling' nature of this contract, that won't happen. Let me illustrate this. If I'm a teacher that [sic] has a three year contract, if at some point the district decides not to add that third year on to my contract, I still have two years of contract with that district, two years to work out whatever issues there may be, or to pursue other options. But no teacher will ever get to the end of a contract only to find out then that the services are no longer, ah, desired by the district."
The hints were out there, and authenticity seems to have won the day with the Iowans. Now for the more jaded? demanding? rigorous? New Hampshireans.
Record turnout, more than twice as many Democrats took more than twice as much time to express their preferences, well done. And Iowa winnows the field for us; Dodd, Biden, Richardson are done. And on the Republican side, shouldn't some of them be quitting, too? Hunter and Tancredo, certainly. (Or did Tancredo already quit?) And Thompson. What exactly is Fred Thompson doing still in the race?
David Brooks sees the results as two earthquakes, and it's hard to say which one is bigger. The "story of youth, possibility and unity through diversity — the primordial themes of the American experience," or the man who "took on Rush Limbaugh, the Club for Growth and even President Bush," shaking the Republican establishment to its boots.
Gail Collins' headline seems to be watching its weight after the holiday eataree: just a Slice of a Sliver for her, please. After 12 hours or a day more, we can stop being reminded how much Iowa is going to Matter, and go on to find out the possible preference of the other 99% of the country, but in the meantime, she's got an entertaining take on tonight's secret and not-so-secret musterings.
"The charges are too serious to ignore. There is credible evidence that the Vice President abused the power of his office, and not only brought us into an unneccesary war but violated the civil liberties and privacy of American citizens. It is the constitutional duty of Congress to hold impeachment hearings."
(Oh, and Robert Wexler is running for Congress, too.)
When it's a tool for Microsoft to "balance competitive innovation with the real interoperability needs of customers and partners." Rob Weir deconstructs the latest episodes of the proprietary format war that will never end. The broken transition between Office '95 and Office '97 seems like just yesterday...
Same story, different decade.
Timothy Egan wins the early round of best campaign headline with his "Outposts" entry, Two-Buck Huck. Extra points when you can get it to fit in one of those narrow "most popular" boxes on the side. It gets better below the headline, too.
"Class war is forbidden in the Republican playbook. But Huckabee, despite an inept last week of campaigning, has forced the Republican party to face the Wal-Mart shoppers that they have long taken advantage of. He’s here. He’s Gomer. And he’s not going away.
"Huckabee revels in the class war. He’s Two-Buck Huck, and darn proud of it. He likes nothing better than playing the Hick from Hope. He and his wife lived in a trailer for a while, he points out...."
Hey, so did I, although it never occurred to me to brag about it. Perhaps the good pastor is considering how well the dumb hick act worked for our current Resident of the White House. But Egan surmises (correctly, I imagine) that acting rubishly is one thing, but being a rube is quite another.
"All the other leading contenders would be comfortable on the massage table at a Trump seaside resort, in between seminars on how to keep poor people from getting health care."
The word was used up at an after-Christmas 10% off sale, and not a moment too soon. You don't have to be feeling superior to appreciate having LSSU provide us with their list of banished words for 2008.
Saw in the paper that the ad blitz from Southwest Airlines is getting ramped up. Which made me happen to notice one of their commercials in the "want to get away?" series. (They're entertaining, if nothing else.) They've taken "99" pricing to new levels of dishonesty, which I guess we're supposede to ignore because they're so funny?
For a round-trip fare that's going to be, oh maybe $250, the ad price is "$99." One-way, exclusive of all the stuff they can think of to exclude. And must travel on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. That was in the first line of fine print that flashed at the end of the ad. Who knows about the other 3 or 4 lines. Maybe if I had TiVo I could read about those, or I could visit their website and see about my next travel plans. Pretty much every time I've tried that, and comparison shopped, Southwest has nothing to offer me, price-wise.
I guess it works for some folks, but after I enjoy their little show, I'm going somewhere else to buy my tickets.
Tom von Alten tva_∂t_fortboise_⋅_org