Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Documentaries you ought to see

" Whatever your opinion of Ralph Nader - you ought to see this documentary film about him.Ralph is the Unreasonable Man. "-Dal LaMagna

An Unreasonable Man is a good movie but it has the problem of making you feel that our politics began in the 1960s. Other documentaries I would recommend:

The Atomic Cafe – 80s look at the American side of the early cold war nuclear confrontation. It’s fascinating to see Nixon debating with Kruschev, and suggesting the Soviet Union may be ahead in the thrust of their rockets but we are ahead in other things such as our color television (Kennedy then went on color television and pummeled Nixon for the missile gap on behalf of the military industrial complex, though this is not in the movie).

Heir to an Execution – granddaughter Ivy Meeropol looks at the Rosenberg executions. The Greenglass family is mostly not talking to the Rosenberg family to this day. It turns out that Julius Rosenberg’s Soviet code name was “Liberal.” Nixon is seen in his own twisted way advocating a kind of restraint in pursuing communists in the U.S. (“if you’re going to shoot rats, you should shoot straight”).

The long history of the left in the United States is one of variously courting the Democratic Party, being courted by it, fighting the Democratic Party, and being demonized by it. So what Nader did in 2000 was not so surprising given this history, as well as his own. It is interesting that after the election Gore stepped away from taking on the type of projects that would cause middle America (the ironically named “red” states) to regret not voting for him in 2000. It has become clear now that Gore chose a path instead to embarrass the left for not supporting him.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Wake me up in 2012.

Take on the Republican Candidates From Boston Beatnik:

Alan Keyes = Who?
Duncan Hunter = Nuts.
Fred Thompson = Done.
Rudy Giuliani = Asshole.
Mitt Romney = More packaged than a TV Dinner.
Mike Huckabee = Creationist. (How nice for you.)
John McCain = Broke.

Ron Paul = Brilliant.

We must end the war. Watch this short video::http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_zDnBe6R5g

If you want to end the war. Vote for Ron Paul.

Reply: that's great. but i will never vote republican.

Reply: Yeah, me neither, I can't trust em. Just can't.

A: It will likely all be over before Massachusetts votes in March anyway.

If you want, you can vote for Ron Paul in the fall when he drops out of the Republican Party and runs as an independent.

Looks like with Oprah behind him, Obama might win enough states that Hillary will have to put him on the ticket. So it will be Clinton/Obama in the fall (or maybe Obama/Clinton if he does so well she has to put him at the top of the ticket). Notice that she's started firing people who sling mud at Obama. That's because they are going to run together, and don't want to damage the product. And that's your next President.

The war will be over by summer. Bush will proclaim V-I Day a few weeks before the Republican convention in September. Here's how it plays out. If we are losing in Iraq, the Republicans are out. And if we are finally winning in Iraq, we don't need the Republicans to run the war anymore anyway.

I suspect what the Republicans are trying to do now is show enough weakness that the Democrats vote their heart and nominate Obama. Then they'll try to mess with the Democrats over the summer with the V-I Day thing. And in the fall, they'll try to get their candidates elected to Congress on the fear of a liberal/left Presidency. And if as is likely they come up short, they'll be back with the same fear mongering in 2010. Plus there will be some mistakes of inexperience to beat the drum on. So they fight in the Senate to block legislation for a couple of years, hope the Supreme Court shuts down the stuff they find truly outrageous, and put their money on winning back the House or Senate in 2010.

Of course, this could all be prevented if the Democrats would show some sense and nominate Richardson, who is their only qualified candidate. That would require some people to step aside who just don’t have it in them. And they'd have to put aside the pet issues, and focus on getting something done that they can run on for reelection. Also not in them.
So wake me up in 2012. Everything until then is foreordained.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Is the United States Bankrupt?

So the US owes around $9,000,000,000,000. The US population is 300,000,000. That works out to $30,000 per person. If you borrowed that from a bank at 6% interest (home mortgage), that works about to about $1,800 per year, or $150 per month. Of course, the interest on the debt gets paid by income taxes, which do fall heavier on the rich because of the graduated tax rates.

For example, the US collected around 1,000,000,000,000 in income tax in 2006 and paid out 211,000,000,000 in interest. That is about 21 cents for every $1 of income tax. So, if someone paid $5,000 in federal income taxes that year, his share of the interest was $1050 or $87 per month. If someone else paid $50,000 in federal income taxes that year, her share of the interest was $10,500 or $875 per month.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Corny crimes against humanity

I found the WSJ article quoting a UN official (later officially disavowed) describing the use of food crops to make biofuels as a crime against humanity. Of course, in this way of thinking:

(1) A lawn or a flowerbed that could be raising vegetables is a crime against humanity.
(2) Harvard Yard and Cambridge Common are crimes against humanity.
(3) Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks are crimes against humanity.
(4) A Christmas tree is a crime against humanity.
(5) Giving your sweetie a single rose is a crime against humanity.

For that matter, belonging to a CSA that grows less productive organic vegetables is a crime against humanity and so is living in a house in the suburbs.

On the other hand, driving up the cost of corn should make crops grown in developing countries more economically viable, which has been a big complaint against US and European agricultural subsidies in recent years (growing more food on a subsidized basis is also a crime against humanity in the eyes of some at the UN, by the way.) And taking all those calories out of the food supply might help do something about the obesity problem in the US. And we don’t have to fight terrorists to get our ethanol (or we might, I think Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols were from corn country).

Friday, November 16, 2007

Things to do in Fall River

From one of our WestPort correspondents:

If you are going to the Narrows, Fall River is an interesting place. I have worked and lived in Fall River. My dad was born there.

If you are looking for a place to eat, I recommend sampling one of the Portuguese restaurants, which are actually Azorean by way of America. If you could eat shellfish, I would recommend Shrimp Mozambique – perhaps you could push that on a dining companion. Their steak is served in a really delicious garlicky gravy-like sauce and normally served with a roasted red pepper, egg, and plenty of fries for sopping (or rice). You are hard pressed to find vegetables in these restaurants. I don’t know why these people don’t get scurvy or something. You can’t go wrong with Flan for dessert.

All the restaurants have variations of the same dishes and everyone knows which place serves each dish in their favorite way. I have taken part in numerous arguments over who has the best Shrimp Mozambique -- I liked O’Gils. Also, you can get true rose wine – not that crappy White Zinfandel that has replaced it in the rest of America. Many of the bars/restaurants have a very “grandpa hanging out at the lodge” feel. And, I bet you can still get a draft for a dollar or two at most of them.

The restaurants have bars with separate entrances because only the guys go into them. You rarely see women in them. We quite a ruckus in these places. Many of these places have dancing in the evening on the restaurant side. I’ve bartended them. They do some old-fashioned Portuguese dances and it’s pretty fun to watch.

The local folk are great. Loud and brash blue collar families who never leave the city. They live in 3-deckers with their extended families. Girls live with their parents until they get married. When they get married, their husbands literally hand over their paychecks to them – the wives give them an allowance. When the husband dies, the wife wears black for the rest of her life. They have these Catholic feast days where there are parades led by people carrying statues of the Virgin Mary and old women bringing up the rear crawling on their HANDS AND KNEES. Crazy folks.

VI Day in Iraq

“Remember VE Day and VJ Day at the end of Wolrd War II. We’re about to see VI Day in Iraq. – Oliver North on Hannity and Colmes.

Reply: A recent poll found that 46% of Ohioans think we are on the right course in Iraq. How could that many people be so wrong?

A: We are winning at the moment and we are starting to withdraw troops. That’s the right course, just needs to move along faster.

Here’s what Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky had to say today: "We ought to get the troops the funding they need to finish the mission without restrictions and without a surrender date."

Remember the old baseball rule. If the team is ahead or tied when the pitcher is changed, the new pitcher gets stuck with the loss. Likewise, if the old pitcher goes out ahead, the old pitcher gets the win and the new pitcher just gets a save. So all this jockeying is just over who gets the credit or has to take the blame. So Pubs can say “We were winning, we wanted to keep pitching, they pulled the funds and put in their own pitcher, then our enemies went ahead. They lost us the war.” Or, if the Pubs draw down troops on their own schedule before the 2008 election they get to campaign on “We won the war” (won past tense).

You wait. I’m guessing V-I day will be declared some time next spring or summer, after the primaries, before the conventions.

Reply: To add to the baseball analogy - When there is a pitching change, the outgoing pitcher is responsible for any men left on base.

A: No, I don’t think the men left on base count for who gets the win and who gets the loss. Maybe men left on base affect the pitcher’s ERA. Men left on base can affect whether a pitcher gets credited with a save. For the Dems they are spinning towards either (A) not our loss, we were behind when we took over or (B) our win, we were losing but turned it around. They could also spin towards (C) our save, we were ahead but vulnerable and pulled out the win, but that doesn’t seem to be in their playbook. I’m personally sticking with, the other side scored some runs but the game is won, let’s come home.

Reply: It's football season, for chrissake. The Pubs fumbled. Let's hope the Dems recover.

A: It’s not enough to recover the fumble, you also have to move the ball down the field.

Reply: True, but you can't move down the field unless you have the ball.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Johnny Carson named Hollywood hick

Lest you think my hick theory (head Iowan in charge) is all wet, native Iowan Johnny Carson has been named Greatest TV Icon, with native Iowan Walter Cronkite at #5 (top newsman in the list).


Q: Who is Marcia Cross (#100)?

Reply: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcia_Cross Desperate Housewives. Important to note she was born in 1962, a very good year.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Banjo night at Sanders Theater

Friday, November 9, 2007 was banjo night at Sanders Theater in Cambridge. About the banjo, Grammy award-winning banjo artist Alison Brown says there are two kinds of people. When you take out the banjo, some people run towards the stage and some run away. The folks in the first category got a real treat at Sanders with a double bill put on by World Music.

There is a danger, when you headline Sanders Theater, of getting upstaged by the opening act. That principle was on display with the Carolina Chocolate Drops, who came on first. They performed old-time string band music infused with fife and drum and other African-American styles of the Deep South. This three person ensemble worked through a range of instruments: banjo, guitar, fiddle, harmonica, snare, bones, and jug. Lead singer Rhiannon Gibbons performed barefoot, a brave and trusting move for a cold November New England night. She asked from the stage that the house lights be brought up so they could see the audience. It was engaging and it was fun. It was a lot of fun. And if they could only get a few people up to dance, they got everyone to sing, and earned a standing ovation that brought them back for an encore.

Then Crooked Still took the stage and brought the lights back down. This four person group played the Cantab bluegrass night for several years, the Somerville Theatre, and Club Passim. They perform a lot of traditional folk songs with banjo, cello, and double bass. The lead singer Aoife O’Donovan (Aoife is pronounced just like it’s spelled) has a sweet voice, but had a little difficulty filling Sanders with it. And there was an air of melancholy. Crooked Still has played together since 2001, when they were all graduate students here in Boston, but now they have spread apart. Double-bassist Corey DiMario now lives in Vermont. Banjoist Dr. Gregory Liszt has been touring with Bruce Springsteen and his Seeger Sessions Band. Cellist Rushad Eggleston, whose attire and demeanor as always brought to mind a down-on-his-luck circus clown, is now living out on the West Coast and is leaving the group for other musical interests. So it was, I’m sure for many of their long-time fans, a special send-off in a great venue. And the technical level of their musicianship was excellent. Crooked Still does plan to add two new members this winter, and one hopes to see them around town, perhaps someday back at Sanders.

Coming up for the banjo crowd: Alison Brown plays the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River on Saturday, December 8. I may need to take a run down there, and am looking to recruit. It’s a great space in an old mill building in the waterfront district.

Geek rock concert report (TMBG)

They Might Be Giants played The Roxy in Boston on Friday night, October 19, 2007.

This is a band you may think you’ve never heard of, but you most definitely have heard. They did the Dr. Evil Theme for Austin Powers II, the theme for Malcolm in the Middle (you’re not the boss of me now …), and performed the theme for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. I remember first seeing They Might Be Giants on Letterman in 1993. IMDB says Mary Chapin Carpenter and Bill Murray appeared on that show too. And I had all their CDs back in the days when I only had 12 CDs. Of course, being the ultimate geek, actually going to one of their shows never even occurred to me back then.

I have never seen a concert audience quite like this one. It is geek pride night: men with plaid shirts, women wearing hooded sweatshirts (not hoodies, hooded sweatshirts), and lots of fans holding up big yellow styrofoam fingers (the first finger, number one). I get me one of those by purchasing their new CD, The Else. And there are a lot of younger fans who couldn’t have been more than toddlers back in the day. The number of brown-haired women sporting the librarian look and wearing glasses warms my heart (contact lenses ruin your geek cred). Admittedly, there are a couple of women dressed in the classic rocker chick style with the designer slacks; the shiny-fuzzy, skin-tight, v-necked top; and the not-quite-shoulder-length blonded hair. But they stand off to the side towards the back, like a couple of wallflowers.

My friend the journeyman wind and reed player from the now-defunct Uncle Shaker Band came with me. TMBG is, he says, about as much rock and roll as he can take these days. He and I stopped before the show at some food joint in the Theater District for a bowl of soup. We may have a convert.

From all appearances, the show at The Roxy is a sell-out. And from the stage TMBG is shamelessly plugging a show Saturday night at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton which they say has not yet sold out. It sounds great, this is to be a special horns show with the horns playing parts on all the old favorites that they don’t ordinarily play. They ask us if we know anyone in western Massachusetts we could call and tell to go. They ask us if we know us, if we can get in a car and drive to Northampton for the show. They ask for a show of hands, for people driving out, that we might hook up with for a ride. But there is a problem they don’t mention. Saturday night is ALCS game 6 with the Boston Red Sox against the Cleveland Indians. What is a self-respecting geek rocker to do? Choose you favorite band or your favorite baseball team? I’m afraid that Northampton horns show won’t sell out, unless they get some fans to drive up from New York City.

The show starts at 7:45pm, and clears out promptly around 10pm to make room for the dance DJs who take over The Roxy on weekend nights. We file out past three hip-hop DJs who are waiting impatiently in the marble foyer with their equipment. They look us over with something between confusion and disbelief.

So what does any self-respecting geek-rocker do after a TMBG show? In my case, I took the subway home and popped the documentary Gigantic: A Tale of Two Johns into the DVD. But after 10 minutes I swapped it out and stayed up way past my bedtime watching episodes of the new Battlestar Galatica. I was a fan of the original show in the late 1970s. The new show stars Edward James Olmos in the Lorne Greene role as Adama. But it also stars Katee Sackhoff as Starbuck in the role originated by Dirk Benedict. I am pretty sure if I watch this new series long enough (which I will), Starbuck is going to hook up with Apollo, now played by Jamie Bamber. And before that Starbuck is likely to dally with the original Apollo, Richard Hatch, who now plays a freedom fighter/terrorist named Tom Zarek. I am so confused.

But I digress. It’s now 3 weeks later and having watched my way through Battlestar Galatica Season 2.5 (2.5, how geeky is that), I’m back to finish watching Gigantic. It turns out the two leads of TMBG, John Flansburgh and John Lindell, are from Lincoln, Massachusetts. So that explains the recurring Ernie Boch theme in the show. “Triangle Man hates Ernie Boch. They have a fight. Triangle wins.” Ernie Boch got famous in Boston back in the 1970s and 1980s by inviting people to “come on down” to his Toyota dealership. I had thought TMBG was a band from Brooklyn, which is true only in the sense that the two Johns ended up there after college. Now that I know they are from New England, I may have to reconsider their entire body of work.

Set list:

The Cap'm
Damn Good Times
The Mesopotamians
Take Out the Trash
Don't Let's Start
XTC Vs. Adam Ant
It's Not My Birthday
Alphabet of Nations
E Eats Everything
Upside Down Frown
Memo to Human Resources
I'm Impressed
Mr. Me
Museum of Idiots
With the Dark
Withered Hope


Bee of the Bird of the Moth
Doctor Worm
Particle Man
Maybe I Know

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Shoot him with your products

Q: Which presidential candidate said the following when speaking to works at a gun factory up in New Hampshire?

"I will follow Osama Bin Laden to the gates of hell and I will shoot him with your products."

A: John McCain

Friday, November 2, 2007

Find your candidate

Q: Take the quiz and find your candidate. http://www.wqad.com/Global/link.asp?L=259460.

A: You call this a quiz? The questions and available choices leave something to be desired. On immigration, where is the choice for stiff fines on employers hiring illegals while establishing a North American Union without doing any of the crazy fence, guest worker, denial of citizenship to kids born in the USA to undocumented parents stuff. And what kind of a question is this on Social Security: “Do you favor the concept of privatization of Social Security to any degree?” Here were my scores:

Dennis Kucinich Score: 21 nutcase
Mike Gravel Score: 21 nutcase
Bill Richardson Score: 20 my first choice, as it happens
Joe Biden Score: 19 idiot, unqualified
Hillary Clinton Score: 18 my third choice, has moved up from fourth
Barack Obama Score: 18 unqualified
Chris Dodd Score: 17 unqualified
Mitt Romney Score: 16 my fourth choice, down from second, would be excellent VP
John Edwards Score: 15 pretty boy
Ron Paul Score: 14 nutcase who wants to repeal 14th Amendment while claiming to be “for” the Constitution
John McCain Score: 12 high personal respect, low political
Rudy Giuliani Score: 11 my second choice, up from third, would feel duty-bound to vote for first pro-choice Republican nominee since Ford
Duncan Hunter Score: 9 who?
Jim Gilmore Score: 9 who?
Sam Brownback Score: 8 who?
Fred Thompson Score: 6 why?
Tom Tancredo Score: 5 who?
Mike Huckabee Score: 3 why?

So Guiliani/Romney would be the best bid the Republicans could make for my vote. Richardson/Clinton would be test best bid the Democrats could make, and I would definitely put aside my sense of duty for that, but that ticket is not going to happen. Of course, I would have to move someplace else for my vote to count, as we know Massachusetts will go for the Dem. Or could Guiliani be competitive in Massachusetts?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Head Iowan in Charge

Whoever you may think is running the country, there is always an Iowan in charge:

1868 to 1914 - Buffalo Bill Cody – He closed the frontier and helped start the conservation movement.

1914 to 1933 - Secretary of Commerce and then President Herbert Hoover. “We could use a man like Herbert Hoover again.” During World War I, as head of the CRB, he saved Belgium from starvation. And I’ll bet you didn’t know that FDR’s bank holiday that restored confidence in the US banking system was actually planned by the Hoover administration.

1933 to 1948 - Secretary of Agriculture and then Vice President Henry Wallace. His hybrid seed corn revolutionized agriculture. He was the New Deal. Had he become President in 1945 or 1948, he might have avoided the Cold War.

1948 to 1962 - Actor John Wayne. These years mark his career from Red River to The Searchers to The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, but it could be argued his hickdom extends into the 1970s. His 1969 movie True Grit ushered in the post-feminist era with the seminal line “she reminds me of me.”

1962 to 1981 - CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite – After Cronkite broadcast that he thought the Vietnam War was unwinnable, President Lyndon Johnson is reported to have said, "If I've lost Walter Cronkite, I've lost Middle America."

1981 to present - Senator Charles Grassley. On the Senate Finance Committee, he saved Social Security as we know it in the 1980s by raising taxes and again in the 2000s by burying private accounts. And in the 1990s he helped Bill Clinton balance the federal budget.

Note: There is a school of thought that Johnny Carson as host of The Tonight Show was the hick from 1962 to 1992. Some maintain that Mamie Eisenhower was the hick from 1941 to 1960, I just don’t know how much influence she actually had. George Gallup is also sometimes mentioned as the hick from 1936 to 1984.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Happy 60th birthday Hillary!

Isn’t there a rule that a husband never tells how old his wife is?

Dear Friend,

In 36 years, Hillary and I have shared a lot of birthdays, and each year I'm amazed at everything she has accomplished. This is a very special year: we're celebrating Hillary's 60th, and I hope you'll join me in sending her a birthday message, sharing your wishes for her and your hopes for the coming year.

I'll make sure to share your message with Hillary. And please encourage your friends and family to send their messages as well.

You can see my birthday message to Hillary and add your own here: Click here to sign the card

I know how happy Hillary will be to hear from you on her birthday. Thank you for helping me to make her day special.


Bill Clinton

Thursday, October 25, 2007

dj BC nominated for a Boston Music Award

Bob Cronin, AKA dj BC, is a friend of LBOTC. Vote early and often.

Sent: Thursday, October 25, 2007 10:07 AM
Subject: dj BC (Bob) nominated for a Boston Music Award- I can has vote?

Hey guys!

I just found out I have been nominated for a 2007 Boston Music Award in the category of best DJ/Dance artist. It's pretty flattering! I am in good company, being nominated alongside bands like The Dropkick Murphys, Dinosaur Jr, Big D and Guster! As a result i am shamelessly spamming my friends in a desperate bid to gain votes, since I think i am up against DJs that are actually famous, such as the great DJ C and Porches On The Audobahn.

Anyway if you have a moment and would like to vote for me (or anyone else, for that matter), you can check it out here:


Again, it's in the "Outstanding DJ/Dance Artist" category. I'm choice #1, DJ BC.

Also worth mentioning are my buddy Dj C (also in the Dj category, damn him), Big D and The kids Table (best indie album, best punk band).

Thanks! GO SOX!

PS Apologies if you got this more than once! And happy halloween.

RE: Bland on Bland

Of course, these things are deceptive. No one in the public at large knows who Richardson or Huckabee are, except that they are Democrat or Republican. So their 33% and 34% are a baseline based on party identification. Hillary’s negative number is really the 17% above that baseline. And one would really like to know who those 17% are. For example, if some significant portion of that 17% are anti-war democrats, they may “dislike” her because they like Obama or Kucinich or Gravel better. But are they really going to vote Republican or for some third party candidate come next fall? The folks who ran to Nader back in 2000 will need to take a deep breath and a long hard look before they refuse to come out for Hillary.

I was talking to a friend last night who is down on Hillary because he doesn’t think she will get us out of the war. So he likes Ron Paul, even though that would be his first Republican and he’s having some trouble with that. Now, if you were a mischief maker like Karl Rove, and Hillary locks up the nomination quickly as expected, you might try to goad Ron Paul into running as a third party candidate, just to draw off support from Hillary.

But here’s the thing about Hillary. If she wins, the war is over. Even if she wanted to continue the war, where would she get the troops? Are Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid going to go out on recruitment drives? Are they going to extend service enlistments? No, if she is elected she has to end the war.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Bland on Bland

Looks like it is going to be Thompson/Huckabee v. Obama/Richardson (see below). Bland on Bland. You heard it from me first.

Although if Peggy Noonan organizes traditional conservative Republican women to cross over in the primaries and vote for Hillary … (And why not, they’re pro-choice, often have prominent husbands who cheat on them, want national health care for their adult children who can’t hold on to a paycheck, don’t want to send those children to Iraq, don’t want to see their maids deported back to El Salvador.)

Guiliani/Romney v. Clinton/Gore. That’s my other prediction. Guiliani and Romney will team to spoil Thompson, who came in to spoil them. Clinton needs someone to help her with the left, and she can’t pick Obama because he is more photogenic and charismatic than her.

How does McCain end up with higher negatives than Guiliani or Romney? I have enormous respect for the man as a person, but he seems to have taken political implosion to a high art.

From: Zogby PollSent on: October 20, 2007, 11:30 PMSubject: Zogby Poll: Half Say They Would Never Vote for Hillary Clinton for President

Zogby Poll: Half Say They Would Never Vote for Hillary Clinton for President
Other top tier candidates in both parties win more acceptance; Richardson & Huckabee favored most

While she is winning wide support in nationwide samples among Democrats in the race for their party's presidential nomination, half of likely voters nationwide said they would never vote for New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, a new Zogby Interactive poll shows.

The online survey of 9,718 likely voters nationwide showed that 50% said Clinton would never get their presidential vote. This is up from 46% who said they could never vote for Clinton in a Zogby International telephone survey conducted in early March. Older voters are most resistant to Clinton -- 59% of those age 65 and older said they would never vote for the New York senator, but she is much more acceptable to younger voters: 42% of those age 18-29 said they would never vote for Clinton for President.

Whom would you NEVER vote for for President of the U.S.?

Clinton (D) 50%
Kucinich (D) 49%
Gravel (D) 47%
Paul (D) 47%
Brownback (R) 47%
Tancredo (R) 46%
McCain (R) 45%
Hunter (R) 44%
Giuliani (R) 43%
Romney (R) 42%
Edwards (D) 42%
Thompson (R) 41%
Dodd (D) 41%
Biden (D) 40%
Obama (D) 37%
Huckabee (R) 35%
Richardson (D) 34%
Not sure 4%

At the other end of the scale, Republican Mike Huckabee and Democrats Bill Richardson and Barack Obama faired best, as they were least objectionable to likely voters. Richardson was forever objectionable as President to 34%, while 35% said they could never vote for Huckabee and 37% said they would never cast a presidential ballot for Obama, the survey showed.

The Zogby Interactive poll, conducted Oct. 11-15, 2007, included 9,718 likely voters nationwide and carries a margin of error of /- 1.0 percentage point.

Monday, October 22, 2007

4 newspapers, 2 oranges, 1 banana

So I’m standing in line at Darwin’s this morning to get a Diet Coke and a Globe. And the tall guy in front of me wearing a Red Sox cap is buying four newspapers, two oranges, and a banana. I see it is David Gergen, advisor to Presidents, Kennedy School guru, and media pundit. I’m thinking of something smart to say to him when the clerk finishes ringing him up, like “that’s a lot of newspapers” or “that’s more newspapers than fruit” or maybe “are you sure that’s enough banana?” (OK, I didn’t think of that last one until just now). But his cell phone rings, and he’s talking to someone about ending the war in Iraq or something, and then he’s out the door.

David Gergen reads USA Today, the Boston Globe, the Wall Street Journal, and the Financial Times.

The smile on the Halloween pumpkin

Q: Who wrote the following about Hillary Clinton in this weekend’s Wall Street Journal:

She is the smile on the Halloween pumpkin that knows the harvest is coming.

A: Peggy Noonan, former speech writer for Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

Peggy thinks that Hillary rather doesn’t have to prove to the electorate that she is as tough as a man as that is already established, but does have to prove she has a soft side too. She also thinks Hillary’s candidacy has the chance to resonate among conservative women voters.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Put it on vibrate!

Q: What presidential candidate said the following and in what context?

She helped me put it on vibrate. If anybody is offended by it, I won't do it again.

Reply: Hillary said it to her girlfriend about her Vibrator.

Reply: Rudy said it about his wife. She showed him how to put his phone on vibrate so he doesn't take calls during any more speeches. He has been taking flak for what was an obvious ruse to win the family values crowd.

Friday, October 12, 2007

New Hampshire yard signs

I was up in New Hampshire this past weekend, and to judge by the yards signs on the country highways, Ron Paul is going to be the next President.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

How to lose an election

Did I miss something or did Michigan and Florida just get kicked out of the Democratic Party?

“The DNC voted to punish both Michigan and Florida by refusing to seat their delegates at next summer's Democratic National Convention.” http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/09/michigan.primary/index.html

So now the Democrats are not going to count the votes at all in Florida, or Michigan?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Call a cow a chicken

Q: Who said the following and in what context?

I guess you can call something, anything you want, but in Iowa you can't call a cow a chicken and have it be true.

Reply: Eisenhower said it to Khrushchev during a visit to an Iowa farm. OR, Chuck Grassley said it about Bush's veto of the SCHIP bill. I like the first one better.

A: You are closer on the second one. Grassley said it about the other Congressional Republicans who were calling SCHIP the first step toward socialized medicine. And apparently they have the Republican votes to override in the Senate but maybe not in the House.

Note: I don’t believe Eisenhower accompanied Khrushchev to Iowa. Khrushchev went by himself to visit the Roswell Garst family in Coon Rapids. It is interesting how Khrushchev’s belligerence helped elect John Kennedy, who campaigned on the premise that Nixon and Eisenhower were not doing enough to stand up to the Soviets. Garst was a business partner of Henry Wallace, the Progressive Party presidential candidate in 1948. Wallace was VP until January 1945 and would have become President at the end of World War II if FDR had not replaced him with Truman on the 1944 ticket. The big question is whether Wallace would have dropped the bomb on Japan. Wallace undoubtedly would not have started the Cold War with the Soviets. And he might well have put in a national health care program, which happened in most other industrial nations right after World War II.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Bill Richardson on Iran and Iraq

He had some good things to say in the debate tonight on both Iraq and Iran, but I can’t find them online yet.

From last week on Iraq: http://action.richardsonforpresident.com/page/community/post_group/Headquarters/CLhp Ads Don't Kill People, Wars Do

From February on Iran: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/23/AR2007022301595.html. The Iranians will not end their nuclear program because we threaten them and call them names. They will renounce nukes because we convince them that they will be safer and more prosperous if they do that than if they don't.

From June on Iran: http://www.richardsonforpresident.com/newsroom/speeches?id=0013 Iran must not acquire nuclear weapons: virtually the entire international community agrees about this. The P5+1 countries -- the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (the US, UK, Russia, China and France) plus Germany -- have been negotiating with Iran, and in June 2006 offered the Iranians a package of incentives to give up their nuclear enrichment efforts.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Ahmadinejad at Columbia

What did you think of the students applauding and cheering Ahmadinejad?

If the Republicans are smart, they will send Condi Rice to speak at Columbia (some other Ivy League would work as well). She’ll get booed. Then they run the students booing her in contrast to cheering Ahmadinejad. That will cost the Democrats the 2008 election.

Of course, that could also undermine the US before the United Nations. So maybe they will someone else out to get booed. Or maybe they have to choose which is more important to the nation, getting Iran to back down or winning the next election.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Amid struggles, arts center chief got $1.2m bonus

Some interesting reading in today’s Globe.


Let’s see. Cut Shakespeare on Common budget by 500,000, that pays for almost half your bonus. Take 100,000 a year pay cut (from 500,000 to 400,000 per year). Over 7 years that will pay for the rest of your bonus. But hire wife to manage web site, that will help with cash flow. Cut performances from 96% of available nights to 33%. That gives you more time to spend at your 3 vacation properties. On the other hand, Boston Globe gets on your case, makes you look greedy, makes your board look stupid, makes your corporate sponsors nervous. You may lose job, wife may lose job. Oh well.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

RE: Presidential preferences

Q: Mitt in your top 4? I have lost all respect.

A: Well, Hillary would go up to #2 on my list if I could be sure her husband won’t embarrass her again. As for Romney, I guess I always go for the underdog. His Mormon background isn’t going down well in certain quarters, and if you take the long view that might shake things up in a good way. My favorite Romney quote: "marriage is between a man and a woman ... and a woman and a woman."

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Presidential preferences

Since you asked, here’s my current personal picking order:

(1) Bill Richardson
(2) Mitt Romney
(3) Rudy Guliani
(4) Hillary Clinton

Right now it’s most likely that the race will be between Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani. So I guess I’m voting for Rudy. But if it ends up being Hillary v. John McCain, or Hillary versus Fred Thompson, I guess I’m voting for Hillary.

Hillary has got a big lead for the Democratic nomination and is likely to be able to protect it. What dirt could they dig up that would be worse than the smacking around she’s taken all these years? Rudy’s lead on the Republican side is not so great. I think he’s perceived as a good match up against Hillary in some ways (puts New York in play, which will cost the Democrats money to defend) but not so good in others (he’s on wife #3, Hillary is still on husband #1). John McCain could be strong against Hillary too, but his statement that he wants to be the last man standing in Iraq is costing him (on some level you got to admire a guy willing to go down fighting for a lost cause). Mitt Romney makes the Christian conservatives nervous and that is fun to watch. Enter Fred Thomson.

There a lot of other people running, although a lot of these candidates are really running for Vice President or cabinet posts. And, in fact, I suspect my two top choices Richardson and Romney, are probably only in contention for VP at this point in the race.

Here’s my take on the rest of the field:

Other Democrats running not currently on my list to vote for:

Joe Biden – longtime Senator from Delaware
Joe Edwards – former one term Senator with no executive experience
Barak Obama – first term Senator with no executive experience
Christopher Dodd – longtime Senator from Connecticut, familiar face that stands for what?
Mike Gravel – former Senator from Alaska, aging crackpot
Dennis Kucinich – Congressman with limited executive experience
Wesley Clark – retired general not officially running
All Gore – former VP not officially running

Other Republicans running not currently on my list to vote for:

John McCain –admirable individual but no executive experience. GWB’s worst mistake was not picking him to be VP instead of Cheney.
Fred Thompson – protégé of Howard Baker (one of the last honest men on American politics), but no real executive experience, except on the screen
Tommy Thompson – former Wisconsin governor, solid Midwesterner with some good ideas on health care.
Mike Huckabee – former Arkansas governor, possibly a crackpot
Jim Gilmore – former Virginia governor no one has heard of
Sam Brownback – Senator with no executive experience
Tom Tancredo – Congressman with no executive experience
Duncan Hunter – Congressman with no executive experience
Ron Paul – Congressman with no executive experience
New Gingrich – former Speaker of House not officially running

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Democrats Love Jesus!

Q: Thought you might find this interesting. Boston Beatnik Post: Democrats Love Jesus! Link:


A: My personal favorite was Hillary Clinton:

O'BRIEN: But I'm going to ask you a delicate question. Infidelity in your marriage was very public. And I have to imagine it was incredibly difficult to deal with. And I would like to know how your faith helped you get through it.

CLINTON: Well, I'm not sure I would have gotten through it without my faith. And, you know, I take my faith very seriously and very personally. And I come from a tradition that is perhaps a little too suspicious of people who wear their faith on their sleeves, so, that a lot of the ... a lot of the talk about and advertising about faith doesn't come naturally to me. It is something that -- you know, I keep thinking of the Pharisees and all of Sunday school lessons and readings that I had as a child.

But I think your -- your faith guides you every day. Certainly, mine does. But, at those moments in time when you're tested, it -- it is absolutely essential that you be grounded in your faith. For some people, being tested leads them to faith. For some people, being tested in cruel and tragic ways leads them away from faith. For me, because I have been tested in ways that are both publicly known and those that are not so well known or not known at all, my faith and the support of my extended faith family, people whom I knew who were literally praying for me in prayer chains, who were prayer warriors for me, and people whom I didn't know, who I would meet or get a letter from, sustained me through a very difficult time.

But I -- I am very grateful that I had a grounding in faith that gave me the courage and the strength to do what I thought was right, regardless of what the world thought. And that's all one can expect or hope for.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Patty Griffin concert report

I saw Patty Griffin at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton, Massachusetts on April 21, 2007.

The opening act was perfect. Her drummer performed with his 2-person band Terremoto featuring rhythms from Brazil, Cuba, and Peru. I had driven out from the city on a Saturday afternoon after a Friday night party at my apartment. I was able to sit back, relax, and snooze a bit in semi-conscious bliss before the start of headliner. Perfect.

Patty came out by herself and started on the piano. Eventually she was joined by her five person tour band for several songs. Then the band drifted away and left her alone on stage with her guitar. The band was back for the finish and encore. Patty’s latest album “Children Running Through” has disappointed some, and her voice seems to lack the power it once had, but the depth is still there. Her voice is developing a gravelly quality with a sultriness she didn’t use to have. Patty seems more respectful of conserving range in her newer songs, and saves the power for some of the older songs. It was a wonderful show.

Production notes: There were some sound problems. The occasional feedback came out a jarring staccato that might have sent a war veteran into post traumatic stress syndrome. I am trying to determine if the music from “Chldren Running Thriugh” is featured in the new musical “10 Millsion Miles” that will be playing at the Atlantic Theatre on East 20th street in New York City.

Set list (per Patty Griffin message board):

J'irai La Vour un Jour
Another Fool
Stay On The Ride
Useless Desires
Burgundy Shoes
Forgiveness (!)
Cold As It Gets (!)
Be Careful With Me
When It Don't Come Easy
No Bad News
Love Throw A Line
Heavenly Day
I Don't Ever Give Up
Up To The Mountain (MLK)
Truth #2

Wishing Well
Getting Ready

We had to go to the judges on this:

It’s not stalking if you buy a single ticket to a show because by the time you got around to going online there were no good seats left for pairs. It’s not stalking if you drive all the way from Cambridge out to Northampton by yourself because you only have one ticket.

It’s not stalking if you check into the Hotel Northampton right across the street from the Calvin Theatre because you don’t want to drive back to the city after the show and that seems most convenient.

It’s not stalking if the hotel gives you a room with a balcony overlooking both the theatre marquis and the artist’s tour bus parked along side it because the hotel told you all they had left were rooms with balconies.

It’s not stalking if you bring your binoculars to the show because lots of people use binoculars or opera glasses at concerts.

It’s not stalking if you pinch a concert poster from a newspaper kiosk after the show because that’s just a dated ad that will get replaced for the next show.

It's not stalking when you go out on your balcony after the show with the corona, limes, smoked salmon, cheese spread, and crackers you packed out from the city for a late dinner.

It’s not stalking when you are still out on your balcony at midnight when one of the guys with the band walks the artist from her tour bus over to your hotel.

It is stalking when one of the lesbian couples on the balcony leans over and shouts. “Hey, Patty, great show. Don’t get hit by a car crossing the street.”

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Q: This morning I heard on the radio that Vermont and Maine have the highest levels of combined local and state taxation. On the other hand, if you exclude Alaska, which reduces the net taxes on residents by sharing its oil revenues, New Hampshire has the lowest level of combined local and state taxation. That is of course why the radio hosts were making such a big deal out of this. But it’s also interesting to see Massachusetts below the mid-point; I’ve heard of this for years, but never had the real data before.


The section of the chart that adds in the federal taxes doesn’t really surprise me – the federal taxes are directly related to the relative level of income, so they are about what you’d expect.

The web site also has some other interesting data, such as, which states pay more than they receive, and vice versa.

So much for “Taxachusetts” and other over-quoted misperceptions about taxation within the states!

A: Look at the chart from 1970-2007 http://www.taxfoundation.org/taxdata/show/460.html, and you can see how the Taxachusetts label got stuck based on the experience of the 1970s and early 1980s. What you see now is certainly better, the result of Proposition 2.5 and some would say 16 years of Weld/Celluci//Swift/Romney. And what happened when Deval Patrick showed up on Beacon Hill and mumbled the words “fiscal discipline.” He was raked over the coals about his Cadillac and his drapes and his wife’s aide – by his fellow Democrats and the liberal press.

In the Midwest, the state with the high tax reputation was Minnesota, and that has remained true. More recently, Ohio has joined the high tax list. Perhaps Lydenberg has some insight into that. But there’s more to it than taxes. Massachusetts has a median household income of $52,354, compared to $48,508 for Vermont and $57,323 for New Hampshire. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Household_income_in_the_United_States#Income_by_state

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Settle a bet

Q: You need to settle a bet. I think that Mormonism is a real liability for Mitt Romney. I said Iowans would vote for a Jew before they would vote for a Mormon.
So in a head to head vote, who carries Iowa, Joe Lieberman or Mitt Romney?

A: That’s a tough one, but I think you need to pay up.

(1) Joe Lieberman got no delegates at the 2004 Iowa caucuses. http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2004/primaries/pages/states/IA/

(2) Iowa is one of the states (then a territory) the Mormons crossed on their great migration from Illinois to Utah. There could very well be more Mormons in Iowa than Jews. I can’t find the stats on that.

(3) In a ranking of "Family Values", based on marriage rate, divorce rate, suicide rate, AIDS rate data from the World Almanac of the U.S.A. Utah was ranked 4th highest in the nation (with statistics most indicative of traditional family values). The states that ranked higher by this cumulative score were Iowa, Idaho, and South Dakota. http://www.adherents.com/largecom/lds_dem.html. It’s been observed that between Romney and McCain (one divorce) and Guiliani (two divorces) it’s ironic that Romney the Mormon is the only monogamist.

(4) The religious affiliation of Iowa though largely Christian tend toward the more tolerant mainstream denominations:

Roman Catholic – 23%
Lutheran – 16%
Methodist – 13%
Baptist – 5%
Presbyterian – 3%
Pentecostal – 2%
Congregational/United Church of Christ – 2%
Other Protestant or general Protestant – 11%
Other Christian – 1%
Other Religions – 6%
Non-Religious – 13%
Did not answer – 5%

Sunday, April 1, 2007

2008 is starting to get interesting

I went to a John Prine show at Sanders Theatre on Saturday night. He performed the song “Grandpa was a Carpenter” that has the famous “voted for Eisenhower” line. He told the audience that someone is trying to do a political parody on his song. I did some research and found this http://www.myspace.com/americanmusicman.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

February Concert Report

Here’s the concert report.

Po’ Girl – I saw them last Thursday at Club Passim, the night after the big storm we had Valentine’s Day. A guy named JT Lindsay from Chicago opened, and he was pretty good. I got seated at a table right in front of the stage. They are Canadian, from the Vancouver music scene, and touring in a big white SunSeeker RV from Canadream.com. They said they’ve been getting lots of “You should go to Florida” as they tour around storm-ridden Canada and New England. (Alas for you, they are not going to Florida.) They played a lot of good stuff from their new CD (it was their CD release show for Home to You) and some old favorites. The band has a lot of chemistry and brings a range of instruments to play. I love their folksy bluesy sound.

Band notes: Po’ Girl is Allie, Awna, Trish, John and Diona. John, the drummer drew some comments. While hey were setting up, one of the women I was seated with remarked, “I wonder what it’s like to be the only male drummer in an all girl band. That must be interesting.” Knowing glances with her friends were exchanged when John and Awna gave each other a quick squeeze before back going on stage after the setup. Jolie Holland is not in Po’ Girl. She was in The Be Good Tanyas and then went off on her own. Trish Stein of Po’ Girl is still in The Be Good Tanyas.

Rickie Lee Jones – She played Sanders Theatre at Harvard on Saturday. She mostly did new material from her new CD, The Sermon on Exposition Boulevard. A religious theme, and very soulful. She was cool as ever. She opened alone at the piano, then brought out her full seven person band, and ended with a duo, her partner playing what appeared to be some sort of Macintosh laptop enhanced guitar. No encore. I love that she doesn’t save material for the contrived spontaneous encore.

Band notes: People commented on the hand and verbal directions Rickie Lee Jones was giving her musicians and sound guy throughout the show. It’s clear who is in charge. She reminds me of the old time band leaders, like Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller.