Wednesday, October 31, 2007
I don't know about you, but there's nothing more frightening to me then a right winger with a microphone. Okay, maybe a Yale C-student with an Oedipal complex and the most powerful job in the world.
So, you stumped about how to scare the goblins who ring your doorbell and beg for an invitation to get Type II diabetes?
If you don't think they're scary enough, think about a national emergency, martial law and the abolition of elections. Don't say, "boo," say "Cheney."
Too often, I harken back to the days when AM Top 40 radio was alive with variety and diversity created by local DJs who had the ears and minds to recognize great music. I know Bruce Springsteen (check out the pre-Halloween hijinks from LA in the clip on his site - "Is there anybody alive out there, indeed) thinks of those days to, because on his current concert tour, the pre-concert music is an amazing mix of old and new, rock and soul, edgy and pop, all hosted by an imaginary DJ.
Now Clear Channel wants to Dixie Chick Bruce. According to the Fox Entertainment Network:
If consolidation of radio, TV and newspapers ever seemed like a good idea to you, maybe you should consider what you aren't getting to see, hear and know.
Bruce Springsteen should be very happy. He has the No. 1 album, a possible Grammy for Best Album of the Year for "Magic," an album full of singles and a sold-out concert tour.
Alas, there’s a hitch: Radio will not play "Magic." In fact, sources tell me that Clear Channel has sent an edict to its classic rock stations not to play tracks from "Magic." But it’s OK to play old Springsteen tracks such as "Dancing in the Dark," "Born to Run" and "Born in the USA."
Just no new songs by Springsteen, even though it’s likely many radio listeners already own the album and would like to hear it mixed in with the junk offered on radio.
Why? One theory, says a longtime rock insider, "is that the audience knows those songs. Of course, they’ll never know these songs if no one plays them."
"Magic," by the way, has sold more than 500,000 copies since its release on Oct. 2 and likely will hit the million mark. That’s not a small achievement these days, and one that should be embraced by Clear Channel.
But what a situation: The No. 1 album is not being played on any radio stations, according to Radio & Records, which monitors such things. Nothing. The rock songs aren’t on rock radio, and the two standout "mellow" tracks — "Magic" and "Devil’s Arcade" — aren’t even on "lite" stations.
The singles-kinda hits, "Radio Nowhere" and "Living in the Future" — which would have been hits no questions asked in the '70s, '80s and maybe even the '90s, also are absent from Top 40.
What to do? Columbia Records is said to be readying a remixed version of "The Girls in their Summer Clothes," a poppy Beach Boys-type track that has such a catchy hook fans were singing along to it at live shows before they had the album. Bruce insiders are hopeful that with a push from Sony, "Girls" will triumph.
I’m not so sure.
Clear Channel seems to have sent a clear message to other radio outlets that at age 58, Springsteen simply is too old to be played on rock stations. This completely absurd notion is one of many ways Clear Channel has done more to destroy the music business than downloading over the last 10 years. It’s certainly what’s helped create satellite radio, where Springsteen is a staple and even has his own channel on Sirius.
It’s not just Springsteen. There is no sign at major radio stations of new albums by John Fogerty or Annie Lennox, either. The same stations that should be playing Santana’s new singles with Chad Kroeger or Tina Turner are avoiding them, too.
Like Springsteen, these "older" artists have been relegated to something called Triple A format stations — i.e. either college radio or small artsy stations such as WFUV in the Bronx, N.Y., which are immune from the Clear Channel virus of pre-programming and where the number of plays per song is a fraction of what it is on commercial radio.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Over the past two days, I've watched documentaries passed to me over the internet, and have found that an additional, related doc will play at Wesleyan on Thursday.
Susan Forbes Hansen passed along a documentary called Freedom to Fascism. I'm obviously not the first one to see it. According to the accompanying info, it's been viewed by three million. I've never found much in common with tax rebels, feeling that most of them are simply people too cheap to cough up the yearly tribute for the common good. This documentary, made by Aaron Russo (who died in August), a "Hollywood producer" is an amateurish mess, but it's irresistable, and frightening. It moves from the IRS to the Federal Reserve to the Patriot Act, and finds connections throughout. It will leave even those most skeptical of conspiracy theories looking over their shoulder.
Rani Arbo passed along a documentary called Good Copy Bad Copy by a pair of Danish documentarians. It's about copyright law and music. It may sound boring but it's anything but. This is a well-made, totally fascinating look at how the world of music has changed, and how it affects the music, the musicians and the corporations which continue to try to make a living on their backs. Set aside an hour for this one. It's worth it. And send the producers a donation.
Finally, a new doc on the same topic, Before the Music Dies, will be showing on the Wesleyan University campus Thursday. The director will be on hand to introduce the film and to comment. I haven't seen it, but the trailer looks great
Not only is the Bush administration pushing for ex post facto immunity for giant telecoms, but it turns out that the State Department has already handed out immunity to the murdering mercenaries of Blackwater.
While Chris Dodd has had an exemplary career, he hasn't always been right. He voted for George Bush's invasion of Iraq, and as Tim Russert pointed out, Dodd gave a speech assuring the public that WMD's surely existed in Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Dodd has also been kind to bankers, but more on that in a later post.
The difference between Dodd, and Hillary Clinton, for example, is that Dodd admits that he was fooled by the intelligence provided by the White House, and now admits that he was wrong.
But something significant has happened. And it's a mystery what the trigger may have been. Was it the abandonment of the Democratic party by his colleague and (former) friend Creepy Joe Lieberman (and Dodd's subsequent show of support for Lieberman's opponent, renegade candidate Ned Lamont)? Was it the realization that a candidate who doesn't show in the media polls will be ignored by the selfsame media (including those who conduct the debates)? Was it working on a book about his father's part in the Nuremberg trials and realizing that the Constitution and the rule of law are more important than government and power? Was it an understanding that, as Ralph Nader said a few elections ago, there isn't a dime's worth of difference between the Republican and Democratic candidates for presidents (or more specifically there's no difference, really, between George Bush and Hillary Clinton and will we be resigned to having the presidency passed between these two dynastic families for the next several decades?) Is it his notion that running a quixotic campaign, he's got to sound different or be relegated to the scrap heap of also-rans. Or is it simply that, as he said last night on Chris Matthew's show Hardball, that with the loss of habeus corpus, domestic spying and torture, he doesn't recognize America anymore?
Whatever it is, Chris Dodd seems different to me, and apparently to others. He's not the perfect candidate, and I fear that with any hint of success he may revert to a safer version of the man now knocking on doors in Iowa.
I suspect that, at the moment, he's mad as hell, and he doesn't intend to take it anymore.
Monday, October 29, 2007
When Dylan sang this back in the sixties, he came to this conclusion:
Some time ago a crazy dream came to me,
I dreamt I was walkin' into World War Three,
I went to the doctor the very next day
To see what kinda words he could say.
He said it was a bad dream.
I wouldn't worry 'bout it none, though,
They were my own dreams and they're only in my head.
I said, "Hold it, Doc, a World War passed through my brain."
He said, "Nurse, get your pad, this boy's insane,"
He grabbed my arm, I said "Ouch!"
As I landed on the psychiatric couch,
He said, "Tell me about it."
Well, over at the LA Times, Rosa Brooks has come to the same conclusion.
Our Connecticut cowboy of a president has begun to woof again about kicking some ass, and this time Iran is in his bombsites. The New York Times called out the king of all chickenhawk bullies today, but it seems unlikely that anyone has the wherewithal to put a blunt end to the adolescent game of chicken.
Chris Dodd is the only Senator who seems willing to risk his reputation, and his run for the presidency by actually defending the Constitution.
Despite this, he hasn't been able to get the press to pay attention to this serious story. He's willing to use a parliamentary procedure in the Senate to put a hold on the FISA bill, which strips US citizens of civil rights, and unconstitutionally provides retroactive immunity to the giant telecom companies.
Even the "hometown" paper, The Hartford Courant has virtually ignored the story until they printed an editorial cartoon on the subject by noted alternative political cartoonist Ted Rall
Unfortunately, you won't even find the cartoon in the Courant's regular online edition. You'll have to buy a print copy, or subscribe (free in October) to their eCourant online edition to see the cartoon with Rall's accompanying editorial comments.
This is, after all, a Constitutional issue - the basis for our entire government and way of life. Seems like a front page story to me.
As far as I know, extraordinary Middletown artist David Schulz doesn't have a blog, though his work is displayed on his web page.
Still, he manages to get an editorial viewpoint across by posting signs, Burma Shave style, in the front yard of his Ridge Road home here in Middletown.
Burma Shave produced shaving soap, and are remembered for the advertising legacy of placing series of five or six consecutive rhyming, road signs along highways before the freeway and the thruway were invented. For example:
SHE PUT A BULLET
THROUGH HIS HAT
BUT HE'S HAD CLOSER
SHAVES THAN THAT
If you're any younger that I, you won't have ever seen a Burma Shave sign.
Schulz uses the Burma Shave model to good effect. Here's what his signs said this week:
Sunday, October 28, 2007
At that Halloween party last night I was talking to Rani about the pre-election signage going up in front yards around Middletown.
She noted that I had one in my front yard supporting Catherine Johnson for the Planning and Zoning Commission. True.
Rani noted that many folks who don't traditionally vote Republican had put up the sign, but somehow X'ed out the tag "Vote the Entire Giuliano Team."
Sure 'nuf, when I was out walking with the boys this morning, I saw two doctored signs. One which simply clipped off the "vote Republican" message, and one which had replaced it with a new slogan in Spanish which, loosely and badly translated (by me), says something like "She's great," referring to Catherine.
So, I got out the duct tape.
By the way, I plan to cross the dreaded Republican barrier to vote for Catherine Johnson, and Councilman Dave Bauer, and former deputy police chief Phil Pessina, and maybe even Earle Roberts, whom I rarely agree with politically, but whom I like a lot.
Although I didn't have the pleasure of attending the Anais Mitchell/Jeffrey Foucault concert at Roaring Brook Nature Center last evening (a halloween party precluded my attendance - a parent and child affair it was a lot of fun), I did have the privelege of interviewing Anais in a short visit to the WWUH studios on Saturday.
Anais is pretty amazing. First and foremost, she's a singer and songwriter to be reckoned with. With that on her side, she's decided to write and stage a "folk opera" called Hadestown, based on a retelling of the Orpheus myth. As she noted, it's set in a "post-apocalyptic depression, dust-bowl town." The show with a full folk band, along with cast, costumes and sets will travel to five old Vermont theaters, and one in Somerville Mass (near Boston) on the last weekend of November and the first of December. If the songs she sang in the interview are any indication, it's a show not to miss. Anais is also looking for angels to sponsor the show rehearsals, costumes and sets. You can find out all you need to know at her website.
The interview will play Wednesday morning (6-9 a.m. Eastern US at wwuh.org) on my show along with one I did a few weeks back with Will Kimbrough, and if all works out, a live interview with Nerissa and Katryna Nields to preview their weekend show at the Sounding Board, and to talk about their new album, Sister Holler.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Mayor Sebastian Giuliano spoke passionately before the Planning and Zoning Commission, some might say in an intimidating manner, about his support for the new Rite Aid pharmacy to be built on the corner on Main and Union Streets.
The plans were passed by the P&Z.
Attorney Ralph Wilson represented the plans of Centerplan Development before the P&Z and the Zoning Board of Appeals. From the minutes of the ZBA meeting:
Atty. Ralph Wilson presented the proposal. Bob Landino, President of Centerplan Development, explained the application.
Attorney Ralph Wilson was noted as the mayor's "chief fundraiser" by The Hartford Courant.
Politics as usual?
On the floor of the Senate, Chris Dodd continues to speak against retroactive immunity for telecoms in the FISA bill.
Just one problem, the entire FISA bill is problematic, allowing spying on US citizens. It's not merely retroactive immunity that's the problem. It's the simple fact of giving more power to a power-mad administration.
Props to Dodd, but he's got to step it up. Needless to say, his timorous colleagues need to follow his example, particularly one Hillary Clinton. How is she ahead in the polls.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Tomorrow's the day when folks around the country will gather in towns squares to try to scream down this damned war, and the damned administration who have foisted it upon us.
The nearest mobilizations to us are Boston and New York. Connecticut Opposes the War will have buses leaving from Hartford.
Those scary Democrats are threatening to block the nomination of Attorney General nominee Mukasey.
I'm sure the Bush administration is quaking.
Unfortunately Democratic Senators have threatened before, and still we have FISA and war funding.
I'm about ready to see the Dems finally make good on a threat.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
You know how it is when someone shows you a feature you didn't know existed on your cell phone or computer?
Well, Betsy Gordon was showing my kids something called Photo Booth on her iMac, and Lucy correctly predicted that I would be playing with it for two hours sometime this week.
What resulted was a new portrait for this blog. What came in between that portrait, and what went before, were several experiments.
It hasn't been a fun few days on the hill for Condi Rice. First a Code Pink protester confronted her with bloody hands and accused her of war crimes.
Then the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee led by Henry Waxman accused her and the State Department of being lax with government contractors because corruption is rife.
Then poor Condi had to admit that the extraordinary rendition of Canadian citizen Maher Arar to Saudi Arabia, where he was imprisoned and tortured, was not handled how it should have been.
The other shoe did not drop. No apology was issued.
My recent exchange with Wesleyan student, and candidate for the Planning and Zoning Board, Matt Lesser has done him a bit of good. As they say, any publicity is good publicity, and Matt's candidacy is featured in a story in the Hartford Courant which mentions the old blog.
After last night's P&Z meeting I reiterate my intention to vote for Matt. The panel could use his insight, energy, intelligence and willingness to listen.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
That settles it for me, I'm not casting a vote in the upcoming charade of a mayoral election in Middletown.
After a lengthy presentation and public hearing, the Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously to allow the construction of a new Rite Aid on the corner of Main and Union Streets.
There was some public support, and support from the business community, but several individual residents stood up and argued against the drive-thru window in the rear of the building which requires changing the grade level of the back parking lot. Construction of that window then requires a tall retaining wall running nearly the entire length of Union Street. Residents also noted that allowing the exception for the drive-thru downtown opens the door for other businesses to request the same kind of accommodations.
Mayor Sebastian Giuliano spoke passionately in favor of a project he obviously endorses. His right as mayor and resident. But at the end of public comment, he asked the commission's indulgence to speak again. Obviously agitated at the arguments made by residents against the wall, the parking lot and the drive-thru, he made an intimidating argument to the commission basically telling them that a denial of the special request would likely end up in court with a judgment against the city.
I think the mayor went overboard. His argument had been made earlier, and the objections that the citizens raised were legitimate. After the public spoke, it was up to the commission to make a decision without a reprise scolding from the noticeably upset mayor.
Anais Mitchell and Jeffrey Foucault
Saturday October 27
Roaring Brook Nature Center, Canton CT
The pairing of these two young, musical geniuses is inspired. Mitchell is a quirky, amazing, gifted singer and songwriter (read this great article by Hugh Blumenfeld, who should know) who is currently working on mounting a folk-opera called Hadestown, a re-telling of the Orpheus myth. Foucault is sultry, and soulful and a frighteningly honest observer of life, love and the attendant travails. These are musicians who won't be playing the coffeehouses forever. You will, years from now, be able to say, "Remember when we saw them at that little place in Canton."
Thurs. October 25, Cafe Nine, New Haven
Sun. October 28, Iron Horse Music Hall, Northampton MA
Okay, maybe I throw around the whole "musical genius" thing too much, but Fulks is brilliant. He's a lanky guitar virtuoso with a big vocab, and a dangerously sharp sense of humor. He can play bluegrass, grunge or retro-country without grinding a single gear. I've never seen him when I haven't had a great time. As the listing at Cafe Nine says, "Not from Nashville."
Cantora Records Showcase
With Rumspringa and Chief
Friday Oct. 26
Eclectic House, Wesleyan University
I've been blogging about the wealth of student music bookings at Wesleyan, and this is yet another example. I never heard of any of the four bands at the showcase until I check out their sounds via auralwes.com. Spirit and Chief are intriguing for different reasons. Both harken back to older styles, while creating something that's brand new. I don't know what the policy is for admitting non-Wes attendees, but the quality of these bands might make it worth checking into.
Remember a few years ago when we heard conservatives, Republicans and right-wing pundits repeat again, and again, and again, "Saddam Hussein bombed his own people using chemical weapons." They were referring to the Northern Iraqui Kurds, who were not exactly Hussein's "own people." It was, and remains, a horrific instance of attempted ethnic cleansing against Hussein's longtime enemies.
Now, in yet another futile attempt to keep the Iraq war from unraveling further, into a cross-border conflict with Turkey, reports have George Bush himself offering to bomb the Kurds (who have attacked Turkish troops). These bastards can't seem to get a break.
These are the same Kurds whom Bush used as examples of people who needed America's help, and now he wants to bomb them. These are the people Saddam Hussein bombed, and now George Bush wants to bomb them. Obviously, these are not really people George Bush ever had any sympathy for. They are not "his people." But they are the people he set out to save. The irony is stomach turning.
Of course, with so many people now turned against the war, a case could be made that George Bush is using violence against his own people. And a further case might be made that "his own people" are no longer, really, his own people anymore.
Chris Dodd just wrote a bunch of us an email with practical suggestions for preventing telecom immunity in the FISA bill. I prefer to stop the FISA bill in its tracks, but here's what Chris has to say:
Let's get right to it and talk about how we stop retroactive telecommunications immunity from becoming law. The way I see it, there are three ways to get this provision stripped from the final bill:
1.)The first step would be to make sure the idea doesn't make it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee -- where it will be considered shortly. If we can get it stripped there, it will have to be offered as an amendment to the overall bill where it will be a lot easier to get 41 votes against retroactive immunity than 41 to sustain my filibuster if necessary.
Take a moment and call up members of the committee, let me know what they said, and join others in tracking our progress in stopping the provision right there.
The other two ways: 2.) If retroactive immunity does make it out of committee, Senate leadership can honor the hold I've placed on any legislation that includes retroactive immunity. 3.) If leadership does not honor my hold, I remain committed to filibustering, and working to get the 41 votes necessary to maintain it.
This has the potential to be a long fight -- so let's build a solid foundation for our effort today by asking members of the Judiciary Committee to vote against any FISA bill that includes retroactive amnesty.
I'd like to see a little more spine, frankly, on these issues. People tell us they want to lead, but a little leadership right now would certainly be welcomed on these questions. I don't want to, but I'm not afraid to do this alone. Chris
The links will take you to the phone numbers of Judiciary committee members who can vote to strip FISA of retroactive immunity. The chart at the bottom of this blog will indicate, over the next few weeks, how successful we were.
Hey, you either believe in this Constitution shit, or you don't.
Right now it's unclear how presidential candidates Clinton and Obama feel about the abridgment of Constitutional freedoms dictated by FISA. What's more disturbing is that neither will speak directly to the unconstitutional assignment of ex post facto immunity to telecom companies who broke the law.
I've always heard that ignorance of the law is no excuse. Crimes committed under the veil of "patriotic duty" are crimes nonetheless.
Several important bloggers are urging us to call the offices of Clinton and Obama to make them take a stand on FISA. Take a few minutes and make a call.
Listeners pledged nearly $5200 for our WWUH fall fundraiser during the three hours of Caterwaul this morning. Spurred on by a 2x Bush voter, who pledged 2 cents so that the "airhead" on the air (me) should stop the "rhetoric," many listeners responded in kind and made counter pledges. One listener even offered an extra-generous pledge so he could send the penny donor one of our rugby shirts.
Anyway, it's a privilege to be able to broadcast my show, and totally gratifying to get the kind of response we experienced this morning.
BTW, I pledge that when the daily visits to this site average 100 or more for a consistent amount of time, that I'll get a Caterwaul t-shirt designed, and make it available here.
I also pledge to stop writing these posts so fast that I neglect to use the spell-check.
In a speech yesterday, our conniving commander-in-chief, cited examples of so-called, "prevented terror attacks" to justify torture.
Dan Froomkin of the Washington Post writes:
In this morning's speech at National Defense University, Bush unfurled a vicious rhetorical campaign against opponents of the harsh CIA interrogation techniques he approved for use on suspected terrorists
"This program has produced critical intelligence that has helped us stop a number of attacks -- including a plot to strike the U.S. Marine camp in Djibouti, a planned attack on the U.S. consulate in Karachi, a plot to hijack a passenger plane and fly it into Library Tower in Los Angeles, California, or a plot to fly passenger planes into Heathrow Airport and buildings into downtown London," Bush said.
"Despite the record of success, and despite the fact that our professionals use lawful techniques, the CIA program has come under renewed criticism in recent weeks. Those who oppose this vital tool in the war on terror need to answer a simple question: Which of the attacks I have just described would they prefer we had not stopped?"
The last time Bush suddenly disclosed alleged plots that had been allegedly stymied through CIA interrogation, most if not all were called into question.
So my questions for the White House are these: Which of those attacks was more than a fantasy? And which would not have been stopped with more humane and arguably more effective interrogation techniques?
Bush is asking the wrong questions. He should be asking: "If we did this to your brother, father, sister, mother, how would you feel?"
It's unAmerican. It's unconstitutional. It's treason.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
The plan for the proposed Rite Aid pharmacy on the corner of Main and Union Streets goes before the Planning and Zoning Commission Wednesday evening at city hall (7 pm Council Chambers).
So the architects have made-nice by making it all store front on Main Street.
Then there's the drive-thru window. A bad idea for a Main Street building to begin with (so bad that an ordinance is on the books against such drive-thrus), but the ZBA voted to allow an exception.
What no one talked about at that ZBA meeting was the plan to put the parking lot along Union Street at the same grade level as Main Street. This means building an inclined ramp to access the parking lot, and constructing a retaining wall that, if I'm reading the elevations correctly, could be more than 140 feet long, and up to 6 feet tall by the time you reach the ramp, and 11 feet tall by the end of the lot.
A 140 foot long, concrete wall which inclines to 11 feet, topped with a chain link fence is neither pedestrian friendly, nor good downtown planning.
Planning and Zoning needs to ask for an adjustment to the plans, and must be brave enough to face a developer who claims they are ready to walk away if they don't get what they want. Believe me, they want this location, or they wouldn't be going through the time and expense they've already spent.
After criticizing his intemperate political rallying cries, I got an email from Wesleyan student, and Democratic candidate for alternate on Middletown's Planning and Zoning Commission, Matt Lesser. He wanted to meet, so we decided on coffee at the Red and Black Cafe on Broad Street.
Matt is, as he suggested, a more nuanced politician than I gave him credit for. He has a lot of experience for a young man. He took two years off from school to work for the DNC recruiting voters during the last presidential campaign, and spent time studying Urban Planning at the Brookings Institute. He's a committed Democrat, understands that being a Democrat doesn't make one pure and perfect, but he's a bit unwilling to brook criticism of local Democratic politicians and the local Democratic Town committee.
Which frightens me a little. Loyalty of that sort can be used in a way that's counterproductive. One needs to be able to admit the errors of colleagues, and to accept the good ideas of opponents.
Matt seems to have his head screwed on relatively straight. He's ambitious, articulate, and he's young. And he's working his ass off to get his fellow students to the polls.
I'll vote for him on Election Day.
I have to say that I really don't enjoy Stephen Colbert's satirical take on right-wing punditry as much as I love John Stewart's straight-out mockery of news, culture and politics.
However, Colbert will always remain a hero for jabbing repeatedly at the President and the White House Press corps in his unforgettable appearance as keynote comedian at the annual press corps dinner.
And as of his appearance, last night, on John Stewart's show, he says, he's considering announcing that he's considering running for President of the United States.
As my cousin Chris Cillizza (he grew up in Marlborough, the son of my second cousin John, and his wife Maryellen) wrote yesterday in his blog, The Fix, at the Washington Post, in one poll, Colbert has surged ahead of Richardson, Kucenich and Gravel.
The irrefutable power of television.
Now we just have to figure out who Colbert is laughing at, us, or them.
The fall fundraiser at WWUH is underway.
It's our, low-key, autumnal effort, which means we interrupt programming less, and ask for money less. However, we still need the dough to keep us the station we want to be. As a station with only two paid personnel, we get by mostly on volunteer effort, and on a shoestring budget.
This season's premium is a longsleeve, all-cotton, polo-style shirt, for those of you who play polo, or maybe a rugby shirt, emblazoned with the WWUH logo (which, as far as I'm concerned is past its sell-by date), but here's a picture. You can decide for yourself.
If you enjoy the mix of music and commentary that comes at you each Wednesday morning on Caterwaul, give a call Wednesday morning between 6-9 a.m. Eastern Time U.S. (860-768-4008) and make a pledge.
Everybody complains, but not everybody votes. And while some citizens fight for the right to vote for their leaders in democratic elections, we don't seem to have the same passion here (nor the same concern for democratic elections, for that matter).
Our leaders are only able to lead if enough voters cast a vote for them. If you count on the small percentage of us who do vote to make up your mind for you, you're making a mistake.
I understand that lots of people don't vote because they don't believe their vote counts, or they don't believe there's anyone worthwhile running for office, or they don't believe in the political process.
Cynicism is the enemy of freedom, my friends.
And when it comes to municipal elections, a handful of votes can swing a race.
So if you're not registered, do it today.
One would think that running for election would assume the underlying principle that you're running to uphold the Constitution.
That's not necessarily so these days.
So when Chris Dodd explains that he's running to defend and honor his oath of office, which requires him to uphold the Constitution, it means that the current President, and some of the other presidential candidates, are not quite as concerned as he about the document which is the basis for our government.
The constitution exists to protect the rights and freedoms of the people of this country, not the rights and freedoms of the government, its leaders, or its corporate sponsors.
Dodd's principled stand against the FISA bill should be front page news, but I haven't read a major news account of it yet.
Monday, October 22, 2007
For those of you who don't know, the silos filled with Capra-corn, are just down the street from me in Middletown.
There in the Wesleyan film archives, you can find all of Frank Capra's papers and films, from a storied career. All thanks to Jeannine Basinger, head of the film archives, and who happens to have a brand new book on the shelves. It was Basinger who convinced Capra to donate is archives, to kick start the Wesleyan film archives. Of course, the film program which grew out of it, and created Hollywood's "Wesleyan mafia" is all due to Basinger's dogged persistence and love of film.
Why do I bring this up?
Well, Capra recognized a good story when he heard one (a man tries to commit suicide, then gets to see what the world would look like without him; an assertive female reporter convinces a down-and-outer to pretend he will commit suicide to protest social ills, creating a new political movement, and of course she falls in love with him; a boy scout leader is convinced to run for the Senate because the political bosses think they can control him, when in fact, they can't). He would have recognized the power in the Chris Dodd story ( a man making a quixotic run for president on principle, stands up to a corrupt President and an ineffectual Senate by putting his reputation on hold to block some horrifying legislation).
Dodd, a presidential candidate, is calling in his Senate chits by putting a hold on the FISA bill which he feels threatens the constitution and democratic liberties. What's at risk? His opponents will call him weak on terror. His allies won't have the courage to stand with him. The public might adore him.
Only problem - the press is ignoring the story.
Glenn Greenwald (how does this man research and write as many columns a week as he does?), resurrects Robert Kennedy to demonstrate why the FISA bill should not provide retroactive immunity to the telecoms.
Tip of the hat to Mr. Gill.
No doubt, the vicious, repetitive, ill-informed right-wing punditry will be out in full force today to dismiss the 60 Minutes interview with Valerie Plame.
But one thing has become unavoidably clear. The man, who as recently as this weekend, has been pledging to keep nukes out of the hands of Iran, was the same man who outed Valerie Plame, a CIA agent, whose main mission was to keep nukes out of the hands of Iran.
A man like Dick Cheney, so committed to keeping the world safe from nuclear weapons, must have been mighty pissed to pull the trigger on one of the most effective operations working toward that goal. He must have been so angry as to go, well, nuclear.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Okay. I should never say anything to discourage young, college-age students from being actively involved in local politics, or from voting.
So, Matthew Lesser, Wesleyan student and candidate for the Middletown Planning and Zoning Commission, you have my vote.
And Wesleyan students, heed Matthews advice to vote in local elections.
But Matthew, as a student you are, temporarily, a professional learner. So think about some of the things you've said, and learn.
Diversity -- the Republicans as usual are a bunch of old white guys. We're not.
Well, you would have to waterboard me before I voted Republican at a state or federal level, but the local Democrats, are the entrenched political machine in Middletown. You should check their voting record before you begin to brag. They have voted in reckless development plans, loss of wildlife and environment (Maromas), and destruction of historic properties. Catherine Johnson, on the other hand, a woman, a white woman to be sure, is running against you on the Republican ticket because the Democrats wouldn't have her. She is a nationally known and respected consultant on urban and Main Street development, a fine architect, and a campaigner for historic preservation in Middletown. She has worked tirelessly against bad development and developers, and can be credited with helping to save more than one eighteenth or nineteenth century building from the wrecking ball. She has logged hundreds of hours at committee and commission meetings, some of which I've attended as well, and I've never seen you there. In addition, the current mayor, a Republican, helped fight the development of a big box store downtown, ended the reign of an ineffectual police chief, and helped fire an indicted developer who a Democratic mayor had hired to build the high school.
There's a referendum on the ballot to raise $4 million to buy open space in Middletown to protect it from the WalMarts of the World.
Supported, BTW, across the board, by Democratic and Republican candidates, and put on the ballot by a bunch of aging, middle-class white people.
Every developer who wants to buy, build or tear down anything in this city has to come to the Planning and Zoning Commission for approval. When I'm on the Commission, I will look very hard at the impact of development on the environment, on working families and on Wesleyan students.
Good. Good, but remember most development plans have been pushed by a Democratic machine at the Economic Development, Zoning and Redevelopment level, and passed by the majority on a Democratic council. And unfortunately, Wesleyan University is the most egregious example of the 400 lb. gorilla developer, taking down old houses, demolishing historic academic and municipal buildings, pouring yards and yards of asphalt so students like you can park close to class. So, as the saying goes, charity begins at home. Convince your school to be more environmentally, historically and community-conscious, and you'll go a long way towards making Middletown a better place.
We may have activist students, but if the city government is dominated by right wing fanatics hostile to Wesleyan, your activism will get a lot less done.
As a community activist, I've meet a lot of people in city government, many of who I don't like or respect, and I've met a lot of right wing fanatics, but in Middletown I have never met anyone in government who is a right-wing fanatic hostile to Wesleyan. I have met members of the Democratic town committee who supported right-wing fanatic, independent, Republican-lite, candidate Joe Lieberman instead of the progressive, sanctioned candidate Ned Lamont in the Senatorial election last year.
So, Matt, don't grow up and be a typical politician who speaks before he knows what he's speaking about.
Really smart, politically engaged people keep telling me what a great candidate Hillary Clinton is. Aside from the important task of avoiding yet another dynasty in the White House, and being the first legitimate woman candidate for president, I can't think of a single reason I'd vote for her, except if she were the only candidate running against one of the Republicans now running.
And now she's trying to dance away from her (Creepy Joe) Lieberman/Kyl vote. She can't laught this one off.
She's a true politician, compromising everything to move forward.