Saturday, July 31, 2004

The Presidential Race

There is a certain lack of detailed analysis in most reporting on the results of polls. This morning I discovered two interesting resources, New York Times Presidential Calculator(the link will take you to a page called Interactive Graphic 2004 Election Guide--click on Presidential Calculator) and Latest Swing State Polling data (via Zogby/WSJ). By modifying the New York Times map with the results of the latest Zogby/WSJ poll I get 216 electoral votes for Bush, 322 for Kerry. And this poll was taken before the Democratic convention.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Senator Kerry, It Bothers Us That You Refuse to Destroy Yourself

To: bgallagher@usatoday.com (Editor, Editorial Page)
Subject: Kerry's challenge: Set his own war-time course

It must be very frustrating for you that Kerry refuses to shoot himself in the foot. If you're really interested in his specific proposals (why am I so sure you're not?), try, as he suggested last night, johnkerry.com.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Talking Head Torture

To: editor@usatoday.com
Subject: Cable networks taking flak for show schedules

It's very funny that PBS's coverage of the Democratic convention has more viewers than CNN, Fox News and MSNBC combined. But not surprising. The talking heads couldn't possibly be expected to understand that most people would rather be tortured than have to listen to their cynical, mean-spirited 'commentary'.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Fuzzy on Iraq?

To: 'Shapiro, Walter'
Subject: Viewers need to see Kerry in high definition, with no fuzz


Dear Mr. Shapiro,

In response to your column I'd like to quote Senator Biden, page 10, Dems know 'experience matters right now':

Q: Is this convention a good opportunity for Sen. Kerry to lay out some options on Iraq?

Biden:
Why would you do that at a national convention?

For the first time this year, the vast majority of the American people, when they turn on the TV (to watch Kerry's acceptance speech) Thursday night, are going to say, "Let's take a look at this guy." The only thing John Kerry has to do is (to get) them to walk away from the TV saying, "I kinda like the guy. Let's see." All he's got to do is hit a single. He doesn't need any home runs.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Will the True Haters Please Stand Up?

USA Today is offering right-wing commentary on the Democratic Convention and left-wing commentary on the Republican Convention. The first installment is Democratic unity: Bush-hating, which asserts that the Democrats all hate Bush, and makes no substantive comments.

Hate Bush? I'm as liberal as a Democrat can get, and even I don't hate Bush. (A few weeks ago I suggested that he would make a good second-grade teacher--nothing higher that would include history or geography, of course.) Consider how he is caricaturized by cartoonists: a small guy (it's hard to realize that he's six feet tall) with big ears and no room for much between them, clueless but cute.

Besides, hating just isn't a Democratic thing. Liberals are interested in love, peace, tolerance and saving the planet. You want hate? I can't think of a more hating person than Ann Coulter, who was originally given Goldberg's spot. Apparently her venom was too much for the editors (Coulter column canceled after editing dispute), who must have decided that projecting hatred was preferable to a direct display.

Can you imagine, if you dare, being her prisoner?

Monday, July 26, 2004

Al Gore's 'Transformation'

To: editor@usatoday.com
Re: A 'powerful reminder' to rally Dems Monday night

The media, as usual, has its own twisted slant on events. Having destroyed the candidacy of Howard Dean, who was exciting to the Democratic base, by endless replays of the brief emotional outburst of an exhausted man, it has forced the loyal opposition to play a good cop/bad cop game. Because of the willful stupidity of the American public, the candidates themselves are not allowed to be angry or to think anything that might be interpreted as 'unpatriotic'—so they need other people to be angry for them, in order to connect with the part of the electorate that understands the Constitution, has considered the lessons of history, and thinks about politics more often than once every four years.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Bush/Cheney Lay Claim to the Roman Coliseum

My husband thinks that Bush ought to be reelected. Not because he agrees with his policies, but because he believes it's what the American people deserve. And I follow his reasoning to some extent. If weakening the new (but not so new) American empire is a good thing, four more years of Bush would certainly further that goal. (How many American voters know that Asian governments are snapping up US bonds? Just As Scary As Terror - Anyone Seen Our Economic Policy?)

The real question, for me, is how much lasting harm the planet and its people would suffer. Bipartisan resistance to Bush's attempts to accelerate the pillaging of the environment will probably prevent significant change in the amount of damage being done. And it's probably too late to reverse the melting of the polar icecaps, no matter who is running the show. Judicial appointments are a bothersome question--the democratic freedoms that still survive in this country must be protected--but the behavior of judges, and supreme court justices, can be hard to predict, as the Bushes have already learned to their chagrin.

So, although I'll vote for Kerry, I won't be terribly upset if Bush wins. People should have the opportunity to reap what they sow. And, like my husband says, Kerry is too decent a person to deserve this mess. The Rabid Right would destroy him.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Javier Solana in Jerusalem

To: letters@nytimes.com
Re: Europe Asserts role in Middle East, A4/
EU insists on having role in Mideast peace process

Tiny story, big implications. US foreign policy is paralyzed by isolation and the stress of two wars, but life goes on. Decisions that will have global consequences are still being made. But the US is no longer even part of the conversation.

(Note: Although I read this first in today's New York Times, it is not in their online edition--it's an AP story--so I've linked to the International Herald Tribune's version.)

Friday, July 23, 2004

Twisted Minds

To: editor@usatoday.com
Re: Performers, spare us your politics

I feel so sorry for pop-music fans who pay for concert tickets then have to listen to a few political remarks. Maybe they should only go see performers whose politics they agree with. And if they don't know anything about a performer's thinking, they can blame their own ignorance.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Old Thinking by Kerry, Bush?

To: editor@usatoday.com
Re: Old Thinking by Kerry, Bush tunes out youngest voters

Both the Kerry and Bush campaigns have good reason to avoid talking about the concerns of the youngest voters: Kerry doesn't need to and Bush doesn't want to. And please, those concerns have nothing to do with Social Security or the debt burden. All competent observers of human nature have long known that the young expect to be young forever. And while many young people will be affected by gay rights issues, Kerry's position is acceptable to a wide range of voters in all age categories.

The overwhelmingly important issue for young voters is one you don't even mention: the draft. Young people don't worry about what may happen to them in forty years, but they do worry about getting killed or maimed in the next four.

And your chart? It's interesting that the highest level of voting by the young that you record was in 1972—right around the time Richard Nixon was pressured into ending the draft.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Just say no to the draft

There was nothing new or interesting in yesterday's New York Times. Even Maureen Dowd, Rapier Mind, was dull and predictable. One story tried to explain the lack of news from Iraq (Reporting, and Surviving, Iraq's Dangers): "It's too dangerous."

What was going on? Were the media giants hunkering down, trying to avoid making any more stupid and ultimately discrediting assertions? Could they possibly now realize that predicting the future on the basis of what they know is a fool's game?

Then I turned to the pages of Zazzle, a little-known internet enterprise that produces prints, notecards and T-shirts of extremely high quality for museum collections, digital artists, and anybody who wants to share a design with the world. On their pages of T-shirts in the Government, Military, Politics section I found many new additions: Save America: Keep the Bushes out of Washington, REGIME CHANGE '04, WANT PEACE ON EARTH?/DISARM BUSH!, I have a conscience & a brain./So no, I won't be voting for Bush., JURY DUTY WON'T KILL YOU BUT ANOTHER FOUR YEARS OF BUSH MIGHT. REGISTER TO VOTE!, support the troops:/bring them home., Peace also takes courage., If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention, Bush-Cheney 2004/Because there's so much left to destroy., Voldemort/Ashcroft 2004, Bush guilty of criminal acts, STOP ME BEFORE I KILL AGAIN (with photo of Bush), Just say no to the draft.

Despite denials from all official sources, Congressmen report getting deluged with phone calls and emails from constituents anxious about a revival of the draft. Young men are worried about the future, and unemployment doesn't seem nearly so serious when you're facing death and dismemberment.

Behind much of the anti-war fervor of the Vietnam era was a simple instinct for survival. More than three months of events will precede the November elections, and they can be predicted only in a very general way: none of them will help the Bush government. Polling places ought to prepare for large numbers of young, first-time voters.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Cheney & Saddam: Who scares you?

This is a plug for a T-shirt I designed a few weeks ago: Who scares you?. There's a photo of Cheney on one side, Saddam on the other, and it was difficult because I was working from very small photos lifted from the mainstream press (but ArcSoft PhotoImpression rocks!). Now all I need is the guts to actually wear it...the Santa Monica mall should be safe.

Bush Cancels Election

This morning I was awakened by my husband saying crazy things like, "Bush will arrange a 'terrorist' attack to enable cancelling the election." Then I staggered out of bed to read my email, and found this: Ted Rall: Fun with Fascism.

Re: Cartoon 7-15-04-A
From: Tedrall
In a message dated 7/17/04 1:21:00 PM, vicky@ writes:
My husband woke me up this morning suggesting exactly what's in this cartoon.

Uh-oh.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Christian Country

Interesting...USA Today's online edition doesn't include Letters to the Editor. So, since I couldn't find a link to the letter I was responding to, here's the whole thing:

USA TODAY
FRIDAY, JUNE 16, 2004
Topic: Sanctity of marriage is under assault--but not from gays
Subject: Promote civil unions

No matter how ambiguous our feelings about the institution of marriage, one thing is clear: As a Christian country, we have a responsibility to preserve and protect traditional marriages that have, for more than 2000 years, served mankind well.

John J Strong
Newton Square, Pennsylvania


To: 'editor@usatoday.com'
Subject: Promote Civil Unions

I'm so tired of hearing the U.S. described as a "Christian country." Not only does our Constitution enshrine freedom of religion, but many of the founding fathers, including Thomas Jefferson, were Unitarians, not Christians.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Questions for Dick Cheney

A column by Andy Borowitz in this morning's NY Times made me laugh: Sneak Preview! The Cheney-Edwards Debate. I make no pretense of impartiality, so here are only the questions for Cheney:

1. Former Senator Alfonse D'Amato has suggested President Bush dump you from the ticket. What's your response to him, in two words?

2. If Halliburton and the Carlyle Group both invited you to the movies on the same night, who would you go with?

3. Over the past four years, how many days would you say you spent above ground?

4. Describe in detail your favorite high-impact aerobics routine.

5. Didn't "Fahrenheit 9/11" totally rock?

6. Exactly when did you remove Kenneth Lay from your online buddy list?

7. If there really are no plans to reinstitute the draft, why did you just request a sixth deferment?

8. Is it true that you wept during Darth Vader's death scene?

9. If anything happened to you while serving a second term, would George Bush be fit to be president?

10. Here's something I've always wondered: Does the other side of your mouth work?

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Out With The Old

Maybe I will have to change the name of this thing. TIME is printing that letter I sent them about Clinton. Well, "excerpts"--it will be interesting to see what they've cut. The original, in any event, will remain here.


From: Time Letters [mailto:letters@time.com]
Sent: Friday, July 09, 2004 10:27 AM
To: (real email address deleted here)
Subject: Your letter in TIME

Dear Ms. Xxxxx:

I am pleased to tell you that excerpts from your letter will be
published in the July 19 issue of TIME, which will be available on
newsstands Monday July 12. Thank you very much for letting us hear
from you. We're sure that other TIME readers will be interested in
your comments, too.

Sincerely,
Robert Cushing


Things may to be going better in Iraq than anyone (I mean anyone with a functioning brain) expected. Intensive negotiations between the new government and the resistance:In the Ancient Streets of Najaf, Pledges of Martyrdom for Cleric. With Chalabi out, it's probably close to a representative government...and can the U.S. really assume that they can continue to control it?

Which gets me back to my topic. Three weeks ago I was supposed to spend a week downtown at the Wilshire Grand for advanced training in the Open Court reading program required in most LA schools, enjoying gourmet lunches and enduring the mind-numbing boredom of listening to professional trainers who consistently misinterpret, and sometimes assault, the fundamental principles of the OCR program (which is superb).

The District lost all the registration data for people who had registered for this training online, so after waiting in line for an hour, several hundred teachers, including me, were told to go home.

Not only did I go home, I started cleaning house. Not a usual event. Since I married John in 1992 he has done all the housework, and his standards are even less rigorous than mine. Suddenly, all that has changed. Scrubbing, laundering, ordering new bedding, putting everything useable than we don't want anymore outside for the neighbors (sitting all day having a 'yard sale' is too boring for me), exploring the recesses of closets that haven't seen daylight in decades. (It's part of an old 4-plex in the Fairfax district, and its last occupant was attorney Robert Shapiro's grandmother, whose other grandson was an old friend of mine from acidhead days 35 years ago...but that's another story.)

Out with the old, in with the new. It's a brave new world out here.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Honorable men?

To: editor@usatoday.com
Subject: Edwards offers rare look into VP selection process

Maybe I'm too cynical. When John Kerry first explained his vote in favor of the invasion of Iraq by saying that he had been fooled by Bush, I didn't believe him. How could a U.S. Senator have been fooled by Bush when I—a kindergarten teacher in the LA ghetto—wasn't? (I have access to only what I find on the Internet, including media commentary from Washington, London, Moscow, Beijing, Hong Kong, Jeddah and Tel Aviv--being able to read 20 languages helps.)

But this story has made me pause, and reflect. Is it possible that we could have political leaders who behave honorably, and sincerely try to do the right thing?

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

1492 in Spain

Reading in the news that Marine hostage Wassef Ali Hassoun is safe because he promised not to rejoin the U.S. military, I started thinking about Spanish history. "Do you know what happened in 1492 that was important, besides Columbus' landing on Hispaniola?" I asked my husband. "Ferdinand and Isabella kicked all the Jews and Moslems out of Spain."

But before that happened, they were given an opportunity to convert to Christianity. Those who did were called 'conversos'.

The flip side of this phenomenon may be beginning.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Composers in my spam filter

I'm on the mailing list of a group of "new tonal composers"--even though my husband, who's the new tonal composer in our family, has no interest in discussing music with anybody. So I filter out their messages to each other, so John won't see them and get mad. A few days ago they stopped talking about music and started talking about Fahrenheit 9/11. And today one of them posted in its entirety this article by Michael Moore: The Patriot's Act: What's More American Than Asking Questions?.

Faces of Fear

Just designed a T-shirt that I think is really tight: Who scares you? Saddam Hussein on the front, Dick Cheney on the back

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Lemons?

Letter printed today in the LA Times! Grading LAUSD Teachers

Interesting that the teachers who complain about oversight all have addresses in rich suburbs. Those who actually live and work in Los Angeles know how it is. And if anybody were ever to ask me why I didn't report these abuses when they happened I would say, "You're obviously not familiar with the 'warm body' principle of staffing ghetto schools."

I scanned the page and posted it on my own site,
latimes_letter_07_03_04, because a week from now it will cost $2.50 to read the original.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Nailed by Ted Rall

I can't find this cartoon anywhere online, so I'm posting it here: Appropriate Punishments for Deposed Bushists.

I especially like the YOU'RE NOT WHITE, STUPID T-shirt.

And no, if you've checked (MRS. CHENEY'S LITERARY MASTERPIECE), Amazon.com does not have any copies of Lynn Cheney's lesbian novel 'Sisters.' If anyone reading this knows how to get one, please help me out. I've got a burning desire to read the whole thing...then scan it...

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Standing

Although I attacked Joe Klein last week, something in his latest column, Plenty More to Swear About, really impressed me:

Presumably the Secretary of Defense doesn't do his standing naked, continuously, in the middle of the night, surrounded by hostile guards and attack dogs.

Wrong-headed again. Me, that is.