jeudi, novembre 30, 2006

A News Hound with Voyeuristic Tendencies

I’m posting about TV today because I got so many comments about My Super Sweet Sixteen.

You know that scene in Animal House where there’s a devil on one of John Belushi’s shoulders and an angel on the other and they’re both acting as his conscience guiding his moral decisions?

Yeah, well I have that for television. One introductory comment – the thing I watch on TV more than anything else is sports. I love college football, college basketball, golf, tennis majors, baseball. We’re friends, right? Okay, true sharing: I also watch oodles of HGTV.

Here’s what the devil says:

Big Break
A reality show on The Golf Channel; golf + reality = Dufbliss

Chappelle Show
Often too racy for me, but makes me happy; musical guests are amazing.

That’s right. I occasionally watch COPS (usually when nothing better is on). In its entire history, I’ve maybe seen it 8 times.

Family Guy
I generally cover my mouth in shock and laughter when I watch it.

Flavor of Love (Seasons 1 and 2) and the Reunion Shows
I’ve seen every episode, and yes, I hate myself

MTV Cribs
One of my favorite shows. I often have no idea who the celeb is. But I love, love, love house tours and looking at people's fancy cars. It's not a coveting thing either. I envy neither the celeb nor their material goods. I just love the show. Sue me.

My Super Sweet Sixteen
I’ve seen 3 episodes, I hated every single minute.

The Real Housewives of Orange County
No kidding, I watched all 8 episodes in a row while recovering from surgery. I loved every minute of it. It may have been the codeine.

Trading Spouses: Meet Your New Mommy
I usually miss this show, not as good as Wifeswap.

One of my favorite shows; it’s an anthropological/sociological thing. I hate to miss it. I love insights into how people order their lives. If I were a producer on WS, I would, at least 3 times a year, just have ordinary people (instead of contrasted people). I think it would be just as entertaining. But perhaps that's why I'm not a network exec/producer.

A& E (gets its own special section):

Dog the Bounty Hunter
Can’t say why I love it, but I love it. I usually watch it when traveling.

The First 48
Part of the appeal for me is this show is often set in KC.

I’ve seen it maybe three times. The bulimia episode made me sick to my stomach.

The Angel says:

60 Minutes
Decades of excellence.

CBS Sunday Morning
I’m not kidding, this is my favorite television show. Period. It has been my favorite for years. It will continue to be my favorite for years. Even stuff I think will bore me is amazing.

Two nights ago I watched a Frontline show on the secret history of the credit card, if that doesn’t tell you how much I love this show, then nothing will. Their work earlier this year on the meth epidemic was the best television I’ve seen in years: harrowing but graceful.

The News Hour
When something big happens, this is my only TV news source.

When I can stay up that late.

I mostly watch this on Netflix, but it’s TV, so I count it. Great, great show.

This Week
I liked David Brinkley; I love George Stephanopoulus (but I wouldn’t mind it if he ramped up the energy just 2 or 3%).

And, as a liberal, I must acknowledge here that my philosophies and ideal are undermined by my occasional viewing habits. I watch shows that I consider sexist, racist and classist. I watch shows that portray people in a negative light and (potentially or intentionally) humiliate them. I watch shows knowing that my watching perpetuates them and shows like them.

I view it all through the lens of a middle class educated man and usually recognize that reality subjects are sacrificing a lot for my entertainment. I see that dynamic as horribly flawed.

But, I don't do it often, and for the most part I like my sexism expressed through athletic contests (boys makes millions, girls dance near-naked for free), but I thought I'd unveil all my ugly habits as a way of creating false intimacy and inviting comments that might influence me toward better behavior.

But before you take me to task, two things: (1) I'm significantly more likely to watch Frontline or CBS Sunday Morning than I am to watch MSSS or Cops; and (2) you can't knock me down a peg or two without telling your me a guilty TV pleasure (or two)...

We all have them.

mercredi, novembre 29, 2006

Contract with America Phase II, or: To Win the Future for Me, All You Need to Do is Fade Into Obscurity

“I am not 'running' for president. I am seeking to create a movement to win the future by offering a series of solutions so compelling that if the American people say I have to be president, it will happen.”

Newt Gingrich

“Sure Newt. And at your ‘inauguration’ you can wear a fancy white jacket. Don’t worry about tying it; we’ll take care of everything from here on. All you need to do is rest.”


mardi, novembre 28, 2006

Hope, Hope, Doom

If you want to shock your system or purge after the holiday binge, just follow these three simple steps.

Rent and watch “Born Into Brothels” an inspiring and realistic documentary portraying how photography offered a ray of hope to some children who were born to prostitute mothers in one of Calcutta’s more notorious Red Light Districts. Let me say these children give new meaning to the term disadvantaged. BTW, most of the prostitutes featured in B into B are married or live with their fathers. I just found that interesting.

Rent and watch “Children of Heaven” a must-see fictional movie set in Iran about two earnest and beautiful siblings (brother and sister) who struggle with poverty and are industrious and creative in solving a problem caused when the brother loses his sister’s shoes. It is a wonderful film, and I could not help but think of my middle class child with her 18 jackets* while I watched it.


Watch any episode of “My Super Sweet Sixteen” on MTV wherein spoiled American 15 year olds celebrate their 16th birthday in the most nauseating way possible. I consider it to be the worst television show of all time; in that regard it is without peer. It is, without a doubt, easily twice as disgusting as the worst Springer or Maury episode, and indisputable proof that the apocalypse is nigh. There is more stupidity in one episode of MSSS than in the entire two seasons of Flavor of Love and that includes any scene involving New York. In one sitting, you will get absolute proof that the American Empire is already a thing of the past. You will hate yourself, but not nearly as much as you hate those bratty, awful, rotten and despicable children who cry real tears because they can’t get a national recording artist to perform at their party, because their exclusive VIP list has created conflict, because the BMW** they received is the wrong color, and because their parents’ 16 year effort to completely destroy them is starting to yield fruitful, fruitful returns.

*I'm not kidding. If anything I under-counted.

**It is always, and I mean ALWAYS a BMW.

lundi, novembre 27, 2006

What I Did Over Thanksgiving Vacation, by Duf

Played no-limit Texas Hold ‘em with my Mom, my mother-in-law and my father-in-law*.

Grew a beard.

Painted our 5 x 8 bathroom**.

Played Dance Dance Revolution with my nieces and nephews.

Saw “For Your Consideration”***.

Reorganized our file cabinet.

Saw “Stranger than Fiction” ****.

Reorganized the upstairs closet.

Took walks.

Listened to “Wolf Like Me” by TV on the Radio about 6 gazillion times.

Bought tickets to The Black Keys – performing live at First Avenue on Wednesday night.

Ate Tofurky and Tofurky sandwiches.

Paused and gave thanks for all my blessings – they are both many and significant.

I hope your holiday was wonderful too.

*On my best chance to win, I lost to Mrs. Duf who bet soft when she was hold trip fours which beat my two pair. Then, for all the money, she beat me with ace high (I tried to bluff her out).

**Never paint your bathroom.

***2.5 stars out of five.

****I’ve seen three movies at a theater in the past two years that blew me away: “Crash,” “The Departed,” and “Stranger than Fiction” – who knew existentialism could be so entertaining? Will Ferrell is phenomenal. And, has Emma Thompson ever made a bad movie? I even liked “Love, Actually” and I don’t even like romantic comedies.

mercredi, novembre 15, 2006

Odd Man Out; or: The Triumph of Function over Form as Expressed through the Nightstands of Mrs. Duf, Duf and TinyE

Mrs. Duf's nightstand says: "I like to read, but I don't really use bookmarks all that much. I am not anal-retentive. I like antiques. Form follows function. I am a mother" (note the baby* monitor and the tissues). Currently reading: Until I Find You by John Irving. Just completed: Lisey's Story by Stephen King. On deck: either The Hot Kid by Elmore Leonard or Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger.

My nightstand says: "I'm anal-retentive. I like to read. I like to write. I like antiques. I wear glasses. Function follows form in my world: that lamp does not have near enough foot candles of light to support reading or much else, and in order to know what time it is at night, I have to look across the bed and over a sleeping Mrs. Duf at a clock that actually projects light so that you can read the time in the dark." Currently reading: The Sea by John Banville. Just completed: Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger. On Deck: The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford**.

TinyE's nightstand says: "I don't need an alarm clock to tell me it's 6:00 a.m.! My parents buy my stuff at Ikea so that I can put stickers on it without getting hollered at. I like snowglobes, fairies, Barney (although she would have me add that she is too old for Barney), but reading...not so much."

Just kidding. She likes to "read." She just keeps her books in the bed with her***. Her nightstand is too crowded with snowglobes. Therefore, form follows function in her world. TinyE is currently enjoying (not quite reading yet): Scholastic's First Dictionary.

*In this case, the baby is five (5) years old. And yes, she uses the baby monitor. I think we plan to keep it into TinyE's teenage years.

**One of my all-time favorites.

***Yes, she sleeps with the books in the bed.

Local Dustup; or Satire without Collateral Damage is Preferred

I live in Minnesota, where we’ve got quite a little dustup involving a member of the Minneapolis School Board and an Independence Party candidate for U.S. Congress.

First, look at the congressional candidate’s site.

Then look at the satirical site based on that congressional campaign.

Here’s a little background.

Chris Stewart is a newly elected member of the Minneapolis School Board.

He’s in a bit of trouble for creating (or being involved in the creation of) the satirical site. BTW, the satirical site was not meant for public consumption. Stewart is part of a group that has a web site, but it is password protected. I tried to log on to it as part of my research for this story; I couldn't. I was blocked.

Martin Sabo, one of Minnesota’s favorite elected officials announced his retirement earlier this year.

His announcement touched off a flurry of political activity, much of it focused on candidates seeking the Democratic Party nomination.

Sabo endorsed his Chief of Staff (and former state DFL Chair Mike Erlandson).

When Erlandson and Ember Reichgott Junge lost the party endorsement to eventual congressman-elect, Keith Ellison, and then lost to Ellison again in the primary, Sabo “endorsed”* Independence candidate Tammy Lee.

Why didn’t Sabo endorse Ellison?

This question raised eyebrows in the black community. Folks wondered if Sabo would have endorsed Lee if Reichgott Junge won the nomination. In other words, did Ellison’s race (African-American) or religion (Muslim) compel long-time party member and long-time Congressman Sabo to abandon the typical process (and his long-standing respect for the party’s voice) to endorse a candidate from another party.

Was it that he disagrees with Ellison on the issues? Ellison is a long-time environmental advocate, he supports single-payer health care, he’s pro-choice, he’s worked hard on poverty issues, he has a long record of supporting education. He’s a DFL wet dream. So why endorse someone else? So, no. That probably wasn't it.

Anyway, why didn't Sabo endorse Ellison is the satirical site hoped to ask. To the extent that I take issue with the site (and I do have a sense of humor), I take issue with the fact that it criticizes Lee more than it should and Sabo not enough.

As I see it, Sabo – Sabo is the one who is worthy of criticism, not Lee. Although many out there feel the satirical site skewered Sabo no one can argue that it didn't go through Lee to do it. I felt it was a shotgun approach that peppered Lee (hat tip** to Dick Cheney for adding "peppered" to our national vocabulary!) where a rifle aimed only at Sabo would have been more effective. I like my satire without collateral damage. Thank you very much.

By the way, Lee lost (and she should have). Perhaps Sabo will endorse Ellison when he runs for re-election.

*Sabo never officially endorsed Lee, but he allowed his picture with her to be posted on her site. Not good: it equivocates. If he didn’t want to endorse Ellison for fear that Erlandson would feel bad, then why “endorse” anyone at all. If you’re going to endorse anyone, go all the way.

**Hat tip is the nerdy blogsphere way of saying "thank you for the idea or suggestion or inspiration." In this case, the real hat tip goes my mother-in-law who suggested that I write on this exciting topic.

lundi, novembre 13, 2006

Why Michael Dukakis Makes Me Think of Saddam Hussein

I blame Michael Dukakis*.

There was a moment in the Dukakis/Bush 41 debate when Bernard Shaw, the erstwhile CNN reporter, asked Michael Dukakis if he supported the Death Penalty. Dukakis answered that he was against it. Bernard Shaw followed it by asking “what Michael Dukakis would do if someone raped and murdered his wife – would he favor the death penalty then?” He gave a very intellectual answer. He was right. He was wrong too.

I kind of wish he would have said “Hey Bernie, what did you say about my wife? Huh? What did you just ask me about the mother of my children you son of a…”

In other words…a little more passion.

Bernard Shaw was trying to test the limits of Dukakis’s opposition to the death penalty. Is there a situation that is so extreme that even a stoic man like Dukakis would abandon reason and embrace death. He was trying to appeal to his emotions.

And, if you’ll permit me to establish myself as a member of the lunatic fringe, recent events present an even more interesting hypothetical. More interesting than the Shaw/Dukakis hypothetical, more interesting than the McVeigh hypothetical.

But first let me back up just a few feet.

A couple of years ago, I called in to Minnesota Public Radio during our local mid-morning talk show to say that I was opposed to the death penalty. The moderator asked me if I would even oppose the death penalty for Timothy McVeigh. I said yes, I would. She asked me why. I said that the same society that allows the death penalty for the most heinous crimes we can imagine also allows it for things that are, comparatively, mundane. I also said that we should avoid drafting laws based on extreme cases, and that we should rely on government to provide reason at times when we ourselves are completely ruled by emotion.

And so, with that as background, I would say that I would not support the death penalty for Saddam Hussein. Let me quickly add the following.

I’m not sad about his upcoming hanging.
His crimes were heinous and extreme, savage and numerous.
If the death penalty, was ever justified, and for me it cannot be, it would justified for people like Hussein, Hitler and Stalin.
Killing him accomplishes nothing that we could not accomplish if we sincerely desired it: revenge, prevention, setting an example, protecting potential victims, cost-containment, reducing crimes against humanity (deterrent), etc.

And that’s why I oppose it, even for Saddam.

I know, I know.

*Although we’ve recently seen a small resurgence lately, I blame Michael Dukakis for a lot of the problems that liberals have faced.

As one example, there was a debate exchange where Bush 41 asked Dukakis if he was “a card carrying member of the ACLU” and Dukakis hemmed and hawed. Man, if ever there was a softball.

What he should have said was “If you’re asking me if support the Constitution, if you’re asking me if I support the Bill of Rights and the freedom of speech and the right to bear arms, if you’re asking me if support privacy and freedom from unreasonable search and seizures, if you’re asking me if support the freedom of assembly, then my answer to you, sir, is yes. And what’s more, I’ll put a question to you – why do you not support these rights?”

He got all intellectual in response to a hypothetical that was meant to play to his emotions, and, he got all apologetic in response to a question that was basically asking him if he was a flaming liberal.

And yes, I know he had the flu, but come on!

Anyway, he lost.

dimanche, novembre 12, 2006

Pragmatism or Idealism?; or A Vote for Hutchinson Was a Vote for Pawlenty

Recent history teaches that when the Republicans suspect they have a front runner, they rally convincingly. Thus George W. Bush was lauded as a Texas straight shooter who would be a breath of fresh air in the bloviating smog of Washington (not a prep-school scion with no track record who could barely string together a coherent sentence).

But because liberals are idealists, they are unwilling to do the same. They don't even compare their most promising leaders with the opposition. Instead they compare them with the ideal, the perfect candidate, the standard-bearer without flaw.

Anna Quindlen, Newsweek, October 30, 2006

It feels silly to even ask it at a time when the Democratic party has retaken the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate, the Minnesota House, a Minnesota U.S. House seat that had been Republican for years, and the preponderance of state-wide offices up for grabs, but…

Why did Mike Hatch and Judi Dutcher lose?
This post was inspired by Dirty and TK

Here are my reasons (in no particular order):

Mike Hatch’s “Republican whore” comment cost them votes.

Judi Dutcher not knowing what E 85 is.

Hatch, like Skip Humphrey and Roger Moe before him, has/had a fine career in public service, but lacked the kind of charisma to really motivate people; and

As a result, though he would have won if Peter Hutchinson had not run (the Independence Party is the only third party in Minnesota able to even come close to overcoming the bias of the two-party system – and, as the Quindlen quote points out, Republicans, ever the pragmatists, rally around one candidate while Democrats, in search of the ideal, are prone to stray) he did not have enough in him to overcome his built in disadvantage.

Some other thoughts (in a particular order):

The Minnesota DFL needs to nominate better candidates.

We need a combination of issues and charisma; someone who can promote our agenda, and motivate the citizenry to do the same. Humphrey, Moe and Hatch were long on the first virtue, and lacking in the second.

Progressives, liberals and, as a result, Democrats want ideal candidates. I think we were damaged by Kennedy and Clinton. For right or wrong, we just can’t get inspired by the Gores and Hatchs of the world* (not to mention Dukakis and Mondale). But because we know this, we need to nominate more charismatic candidates.

Our inability to rally around our candidate, particularly when considered against the Republican ability to rally around their candidate (and particularly in a state like Minnesota where the Independence Party essentially runs as a more liberal version** of the DFL*** party) places us at an significant disadvantage.

Recent editorials in the Star Tribune have tried to pinpoint who’s to blame, here’s my list (in particular order):

Mike Hatch

Judi Dutcher

The DFL state convention

The Independence Party (it’s the most viable third party in Minnesota, but, without a Ventura, it’s still not viable, and its candidates get a lower percentage of the vote with each passing election: Ventura won with 37% of the vote; Tim Penny took 16%; and Peter Hutchinson took 6.7%. Besides, what does the Independence Party stand for? In the final analysis, what is its legacy beyond Ventura and giving Tim Pawlenty two terms at the helm? And, don’t kid yourself, you know they get a lot of money from Republicans who use their pragmatism (and liberal idealism) to heighten their advantage by pumping up a party that will appeal to liberals even though it has no chance of winning**** works like a charm too).

Peter Hutchinson who now prides himself on bringing “levity” to the race. Thanks for the laughs, Pete!

Liberals who, in spite of the fact that he consistently polled well-below ten percent, and in spite of the fact that the gubernatorial race was a statistical dead heat, voted for Peter Hutchinson (they knew he could not win, they knew the risk that Pawlenty would win). To frame the issue in a way that plays on Quindlen’s Conundrum, liberals need to compare their candidates to the opposition and not to the ideal. Applying that standard, Hatch takes the office, even though he’s no Adlai Stevenson. It’s how Bush won, it’s how Pawlenty won, it’s how Bachmann won.

I’ll close with this. In Minnesota our last three Governors have been elected with less than 50% of the vote. 63% of the people did not want Ventura, Pawlenty won with 44% in 2002 and 46% in 2006. Until we get instant runoff voting, this structural flaw will continue. And, it must be said: if the goal of a Democracy is to identify the will of the majority, then, until we have instant runoff voting, elections in Minnesota must be considered something less than democratic*****.

Ooops, one other thought - yes, absolutely, people can vote for whomever they want. But, the sad reality is that in our flawed system, some votes count more than others do, and votes for some candidate C, can end up being, when all the precincts close, a vote for candidate B.

*In my view, the admiration, no (let’s call it what it is) the adoration for Baraka Obama is motivated, by the fact that he holds our two favorite virtues so completely. He’s spot on where the issues are concerned, and he is Kennedyesque – larger than life, handsome, passionate, articulate, and more charismatic than even Ronald Reagan.

**For example, Hatch was forced by political reality to equivocate on taxes. Hutchinson proudly proclaimed that he would raise them. Many Minnesota liberals are “proud to pay for a better Minnesota.”

***Democrat, Farm and Labor

****And consider this – something holds Republicans together even though their ranks include, at one extreme, Main Street Republicans and, at the other, Evangelical Christians (but also includes neoconservatives, libertarians, Eisenhower Republicans, fiscal conservatives and Log Cabin Republicans). You know what that glue is? You know what holds Republicans together? It’s that even though no candidate can appeal to all those Republican communities, whoever they select will be better (in their minds) than a Democrat.

*****Pun intended.

vendredi, novembre 10, 2006

Who Knew the Election Would Impact Gas Prices So Profoundly (and So Quickly too)

On the way to work I stopped for gas at one of the worst gas stations in the metro area. Something is always broken at this gas station. The pumps never work, the car wash doesn’t dry your car, the fuel is watered down, and the staff is rude. The only thing that doesn’t suck at this gas station is the vacuum. It’s also about 300 yards away from a Twin Cities International* airport runway. While you pump you gas, you can count on being blown off your feet and deafened all while your nostrils are assaulted by jet fuel.

But they usually have low prices.

Anyway, I was greeted by a big sign reading “under new management.” I was cautiously optimistic.

I followed the proper protocols:

I opened my gas latch.
I unscrewed and removed the gas cap.
I inserted and then quickly removed my credit card.
I said “yes” to the car wash.
I selected the “Express Wash”
I lifted the nozzle.
I inserted the nozzle in my car.
I selected my fuel grade.
I pressed start.
I squeezed the trigger.

And nothing happened. I squeezed the trigger again. Nada. Zilch. Zero. Nary an ounce of petrol.

I cancelled my transaction then drove to pump 9.

I followed the proper protocols again.

I opened my gas latch.
I unscrewed and removed the gas cap.
I inserted and then quickly removed my credit card.
I said “yes” to the car wash.
I selected the “Express Wash”
I lifted the nozzle.
I inserted the nozzle in my car.
I selected my fuel grade.
I pressed start.
I squeezed the trigger.

And nothing happened.

I left the trigger squeezed and went in to ask them to turn on pump 9.

Let me add that it was windy and cold and that my repeated efforts to get gas at this gas station had me out in the elements with an inadequate jacket, no hat, and no gloves or mittens, for quite some time. Two big old jets went by. Big old jets.

The “new management” at the gas station, by its actions, suggested that the pump was fine, but that the customer was a doggone idiot.

So they sent someone out to show me how to pump gas.

Friends, I’ve been pumping gas for more than 20 years, and I can’t be all that dumb – I voted for the Democrats!

He followed the proper protocols (or steps 6 through 10 anyway):

He lifted the nozzle.
He inserted the nozzle in my car.
He asked me to select my fuel grade; I did so.
He pressed start.
He squeezed the trigger.


He repeated the steps. Same results.

Then the “new management” guy told me to try pump 8.

I told him that would be my third one this morning. He shrugged and walked away. I guess the new management hasn’t had time for any customer service training just yet.

I was on my way to pump 8, when some less-than-kind person backed into the spot like I wasn’t there. I had to back up so that he wouldn’t hit my car.

I had enough and decided that after work I’d get gas somewhere else. I only needed to make sure that I had enough to get to work and then, on my way home, to a filling station with competent leadership.

What I saw surprised me.

For the second time this week, God smiled upon me.

My tank was full - the cost to me?

Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zero. Nary a nickel.

Best. Week. Ever***.

*The 8th busiest airport in the world. Yes, I know, that’s what I said (only I didn’t use profanity, and shame on you!). I heard it on NPR, so it must be true. While I’m at it, 62% of Minnesotans voted – which makes us number one in America**.

**And means our American “experiment” in Democracy is not going so well. Politics are too mean, it’s too hard to register, it’s harder still to vote, and you’re just going to end up with a lousy Governor because of a stupid third-party anyway.

***And yes, I gave thought to going back to negotiate some kind of payment. I just got gas for nothing. But what would I pay them? And, perhaps more to the point, how long would it take me to explain all this to the “new management?”

jeudi, novembre 09, 2006

An Open Letter to Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld

Dear Mr. Rumsfeld,

Robert McNamara looks at you and says “there but for the grace of God go I.”

Watch the man’s movie; it’s possible to rehabilitate after a life of crime.

Peace out (emphasis on the peace).

And I’m out.


*A man who is mostly happy, but not without sadness and disgust and despair and despondency and hope (Arizona? Arizona but not Wisconsin? Shame badgers, shame!) and gratitude.

mardi, novembre 07, 2006

Democracy in Action; or: An Alternative to Electronic Voting

TinyE voted with me this morning. She was really great as we waited in line, and she was excited to see that Mrs. Duf had already been there and already voted.

When we finally got to the part where I marked my votes, I explained to her that we were picking people to run our government. We live in St. Paul, St. Paul is a city in the State of Minnesota, and Minnesota is a State in the country of the United States of America. We are picking people to manage things for the city, for the state and for the whole country.

To say the least, she was nonplussed.

I was filling in circles, just like the old ACT and SAT days when she asked me “are there any girls listed on there?”

I was pleased to say that yes, there were.

I told her that I just voted for an Amy, a Betty and a Mike running with a Judi. I told her that I voted for an Ellen and for an Alice.

“The Alice who came to my birthday party?”

“No, a different Alice.”

As we were leaving, she said “that was not what I expected.”

“Really, honey, why not?” I asked.

“Well,” she said, “I thought we’d all sit in a circle, and when they asked who we wanted, then we would raise our hands!”

lundi, novembre 06, 2006

Six Years of Conservatism, the A to Z Case for a Democratic House and Senate

I know I'm forgetting things.

Please help me by adding what I've missed in comments.

Most things are listed because conservative and republican leadership has had a negative impact, some things are listed because, under that leadership, no progress has been made, no effort has been made, or it is clearly not a priority.

Please vote tomorrow. Vote for happiness. Vote for love. Vote for peace.

9/11 Commission recommendations
2836 coalition casualties and counting
45477 to 50446 civilian casualties and counting

Abramoff, Jack
Abu Ghraib
Air quality
Alito, Samuel
Ashcroft, John
Assault Weapons
Axis of Evil

Bin Laden, Osama
Border policy
Brown, Michael (“You’re doing a heck of a job, Brownie”)
Budget Deficit
Bush, George
Bush v. Gore (Supreme Court opinion)

Campaign Finance Reform Act
Carbon dioxide
Cheney, DICK
Child poverty
Civil Liberties
Civil Rights
Coulter, Ann
Culture of corruption

Defense spending
DeLay, Tom
Department of Homeland Security
Dependence on foreign oil
Detainee Abuses
Detainee Rights
Dobson, James

Enemy Combatants
Environmental policy

Faith-based initiatives
Federal aid to international family planning agencies (ending of)
Florida Voting Irregularities
Flu vaccine shortage
Focus on the family
Foley, Mark

Gas prices
Geneva Convention
Global Warming
Gonzales, Alberto
Greenhouse gases

Haggard, Ted
Hanging Chads
Hastert, Dennis
Health care expenses
Heating Assistance

Illegal wiretaps
Imminent Threat
Intelligent Design

Judicial appointees
Jobless rate

Kyoto Protocols

Lieberman, Joseph
Limbaugh, Rush

Medicare and Medicaid
Middle Class
Minimum wage
Mission Accomplished

National Intelligence Estimate
Ney, Bob
No Child Left Behind
Noe, Tom
North Korea

Ohio Voting Irregularities
Oil Company profits
O’Reilly, Bill

Phone records
Plame, Valerie
Poor get Poorer
Ports Dubai
Prescription Drug Policy
Presidential Daily Briefing


Renewable energy
Reproductive rights
Rice, Condolezza
Rich get Richer
Roberts, John
Rove, Karl
Rumsfeld, Don

Santorum, Rick
Scalia, Antonin
Schiavo, Terry
Secret Energy Meetings
Sherwood, Don
Shock and awe
Social Security Reform
Standing in international community
Stay the Course
Stem cell research
Swift Boat Veterans for Truth

Tax cuts for the wealthy
Teach for America (lack of funding for)
Ten Commandments in public parks
Thomas, Clarence
Trade deficit

Unfunded mandates
Union policy
Unilateral military actions
USA Patriot Act

Values voters

War crimes
War wounded
Water quality
White House Office for Women’s Initiatives and Outreach (closing of)
Worker safety


Yucca Mountain


vendredi, novembre 03, 2006

Stakes are High and It Won't Be Easy

Next Tuesday we have a chance to undo mistakes we’ve made at least three times.

It will not be easy.

Today, I won’t write much, please, please, please read this instead.

It’s written by one of my heroes.


“There’s a lively debate among historians over the question of whether the record of the forty-third President, compiled with the indispensable help of a complaisant Congress, is the worst in American history or merely the worst of the sixteen who managed to make it into (if not out of) a second full term. That the record is appalling is by now beyond serious dispute.”

“The Senate’s fifty-five Republicans represent fewer Americans than do its forty-five Democrats. On the House side, Democratic candidates have won a higher proportion of the average district vote than Republicans in four of the five biennial elections since 1994, but—thanks to a combination of gerrymandering and demo-graphics—Republicans remain in the majority. To win back the House, Democrats need something close to a landslide.”

And the stunning conclusion:

“In an interview with one of three dozen right-wing radio hosts invited to spend a day broadcasting from the White House, Cheney was asked if he didn’t think it was “silly” even to debate about “dunking a terrorist in water.” “I do agree,” he replied. The interviewer pressed: “Would you agree a dunk in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives?” Cheney: “It’s a no-brainer for me.”

The “dunk in water” they were talking about is waterboarding. It has been used by the Gestapo, the North Koreans, and the Khmer Rouge. After the Second World War, a Japanese soldier was sentenced to twenty-five years’ hard labor for using it on American prisoners. It is torture, and torture is not a no-brainer. It is a no-souler. The no-brainer is the choice on Election Day.”

jeudi, novembre 02, 2006

What I Believe, What I Support

Two intro comments.

First, I was having a debate with a mormon friend of mine and in explaining myself I wrote down my stance on several major issues. When I was done, I thought - I should post this.

Second, I've been reading a fair number of web sites that politicians put in support of their campaigns. In the issues sections, they are all horrible. I offer this as a model for how they can express their beliefs. Just say it plainly and simply. You'll lose voters, but people will know where you stand. Your stance will be clear.

Here's where I stand - did I miss something?

I am against the death penalty.

I support reproductive freedom and women’s health. I support privacy. I am pro-choice, but I would work very hard to reduce and nearly eliminate the need for abortions by providing education on birth control, making birth control widely available, expanding the availability of and education around Plan B, and by providing meaningful and entertaining diversions for young people, by creating schools that children see as a pathway to a future full of opportunity, and by fighting childhood poverty. I do not support inconvenience legislation in the abortion arena (parental notification, 24 hour waiting periods, informed consent, “think about it” pamphlets). I believe those things are demeaning to women.

I would increase spending on education, and, instead of testing for academic progress, I would legislate a cap on classroom sizes. The cap would be 15 in elementary school, 18 in junior high school, and 20 in high school. I would adopt minimum standards for building quality in all schools. Schools should be clean, modern, comfortable, and inspirational.

I believe we can afford to do those things, if we just make those things our priorities.

I would give every fourth-grader a laptop computer to use for every grade from then until they graduated from high school.

I think that public universities should be tuition free. I believe that text books should be provided at no expense to college students.

Every day, physical education would be required for all students, no exceptions.

Foreign languages are mandatory beginning in elementary school.

I would fund all this with cuts in defense spending and with changes to tax policy.

I support the Apollo II project for renewable energy. Big time. I support it for its positive impact on the environment, I support it for its job creation, its innovation, its reduction to our dependence on foreign oil, and for its sanity. It’s like the modern version of Roosevelt’s WPA – it would improve our nation and our world.

I support Kyoto and would actually strengthen it.

I would aggressive act to decrease carbon dioxide and green-house gas emissions. In other words, I would work very hard to turn back the global warming trend and reduce the greenhouse gas effect (a part of my support for Apollo II).

I would increase taxes on the wealthiest 5%.

I would increase the gas tax two cents per year for the next 25 years.

I would tax pornography at 25%.

I would tax exotic dancers, especially Chippendale dancers.

I would increase the cigar, cigarette and beer, wine and liquor taxes.

Bongs, one-hitters, hookahs and the like would be taxed at 25%.

I would not invest in any new programs until the budget deficit was erased.

I would increase luxury taxes on automobiles that cost more than $45,000, on private airplanes and jets, on jewelry that cost more than $2,000, on fur coats, and other luxury items.

I would increase the tax on guns, rifles, shotguns, bullets, shells and plugs.

I would tax SUVs and gradually increase the tax on SUVs over the next ten years until owning them was painful. I would create an exemption for those who legitimately need an SUV. But I would make that standard very high.

I would not tax any property with a tax assessed value of 50% of less of the median home price in a county.

I would increase property taxes on all homes above 3500 square feet.

I would increase taxes on second homes or vacation homes.

I would decriminalize the possession of drugs.

I would allow the sale of currently illegal drugs by the state or federal governments.

I would tax those drugs.

I would increase taxes on cosmetic dentistry.

I would increase taxes on plastic surgery.

I generally support partial public financing for sports stadiums and arenas.

I favor gun control. In particular, I’m opposed to handguns and anything that expands their use/availability.

I support single-payer healthcare.

I would increase funding on public transportation – buses and trains should be widely available, convenient and inexpensive. I think we should be creative in imagining a system beyond the automobile.

I would increase taxes on parking.

I would eliminate the income ceiling on the Social Security tax.

I would raise the age at which Social Security benefits begin.

I would keep the internet free.

I would allow flag burning.

I would allow idiots and hate-mongers to protest outside of funerals for GLBT persons. I would drown them out with messages of love.

I would plant 1,000,000 trees.

I would dedicate more land for space.

I support historic preservation.

I support rational immigration policy. I would allow documented guest workers. I would review and revise all current immigration limits; I would also review amnesty rules.

I would not build a fence at the border between the United States and Mexico.

I would review and revise the rules at the border to making it harder for immigration without guest-worker status.

Though the neo-conservative movements gives me isolationist tendencies, I would change American foreign policy by participating more actively in the international community. While I would not seek to change our role as a leader, I would recognize that we are no longer a super power. I would seek International assistance in stabilize Iraq and rededicate American troops to participating in an International peace-keeping effort. I would not go to war with Iran. I would focus military energy, currently allocated elsewhere on the capture of Osama bin Laden. I would hold him accountable for his crimes.

I would increase spending on intelligence.

I would devote tremendous energy to coordination among intelligence entities.

I would adopt the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.

I would allow people to bring more than 3 ounces of lotion on-board airplanes, which is
my way of saying I would revisit TSA policies.
I support line-item vetoes for governors and for the President.

I support instant runoff elections.

For a really long time I didn’t, but now I support term limits. I like the idea of a citizen
legislature – 12 years is the max.

I would abolish the Electoral College and elect the President by popular vote.

I would tie voter registration to the licensing and photo ID process. If you have a driver’s
license or photo ID, then you can vote.

I’ll admit that I need to think about Israel and Palestine. I don’t know what I would do there. Educate me.

I would change littering laws so that anyone caught littering would spend a day in jail. I would make it a Wednesday. I would give police officers a $250 bonus for every 10 people they catch littering where a conviction resulted.

I would give new parents 12 months leave to divide as they see fit.

I support same-sex marriage.

I feel that if a class of citizens are excluded from a particular thing, then that particular thing should not be offered by the state.

I do not support prayer in schools.

I do not support the placement of the Ten Commandments in public places.

I would not allow the teaching of creationism in public schools because I believe it establishes a religion.

I would not allow the teaching of intelligent design for the same reason, but also because it’s dumb.

I’m pro union, and I would strengthen labor laws so that executives cannot use labor unrest as a means of strong-arming working men and women into rescuing corporations from years of poor decisions.

No, you may not dishonor your pension commitments. Pensions are guaranteed. They’re not guaranteed by the government, they’re guaranteed by corporations.

My driving theory of criminal justice is rehabilitation, not punishment.

But, I support life in prison – as a way to segregate criminals whose crimes are so heinous, or so likely to recur again, that they cannot be returned to free society.

I would rewrite campaign laws to promote a multi-party system (I believe instant runoff elections is the way there).

I would direct a lot of attention and resources to the global AIDS pandemic.

To fighting hunger.
To Darfur.
To sub-Saharan Africa.
To the Middle East.
To animals and endangered species.
To clean air, clean water, clean soil.
To reducing sprawl.
To urban renewal.
To ending domestic violence.
To peace.

mercredi, novembre 01, 2006

What's the Real Issue Again?

Mrs. Duf and I just finished watching “The War at Home (1979)” a documentary focusing on Vietnam-era protests in Madison, Wisconsin*.

The film touches very briefly on the impact that was felt on campuses all over the country when the draft reached college students. Before the draft, college kids just protested the war, they didn’t fight in it. To avoid the draft, students were given a test. If they scored above a certain number, then they were exempt from military service.

The students, many of whom also burned their draft cards, protested the unfairness of allowing them an out (the test), but not allowing that same out in “Harlem and Watts.”

So, I place John Kerry’s “controversial” comment and Bush’s response in that context.

Throughout this war against Iraq (or is it a liberation?) there have been jokes about 20-year old Republican patriots who talk tough, but aren’t exactly signing up for military service.

The point is that those hypocrites don’t have any skin in the game.

Behind the jokes is the same point that Kerry was trying to make: middle-class kids whose parents can afford college tuition are not as invested (proportionately) in this war as kids from less affluent backgrounds who are persuaded to military service by hefty financial incentives offered to them by Uncle Sam.

This war, like all modern wars, disproportionately impacts the less fortunate.

I think that what Kerry meant was that if Republicans retain control of all four estates, then the war will likely expand to impact those of us who have avoided the impact up to this point.

To take on Iran, we’ll either need a draft or we’ll need cloning technology.

And yes, I’ll admit that Kerry is not the most articulate fellow of all time. His remarks were vulnerable to misinterpretation, and they are being misinterpreted by a newly desperate Republican majority that is desperate to retain its advantage, and very, very adept and the politics of ridicule, slander and misdirection.

So, I will not express surprise that Republicans, rather than limiting their remarks to Kerry’s assertion, are addressing their remarks only at Kerry himself.

Let’s not discuss the statement, let’s discuss the man who made it.

UPDATE: Apparently, Kerry botched the joke. He said: "Do you know where you end up if you don't study, if you aren't smart, if you're intellectually lazy? You end up stuck in a war in Iraq."

He meant to say: "Do you know where you end up if you don't study, if you aren't smart, if you're intellectually lazy? You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq."

*worth seeing if only for the interview with Allen Ginsberg looking squeaky clean in a professorial coat and tie.