Friday, June 22, 2007

The Judy Miller Times- name to stay until further notice

Until further notice, all pieces, no matter how much I like them, from the "liberal" paper of New York will be referred to either as the Judy Miller Times, or by their full name, the Wire Tap story burying, full section advertisement to the genocidal regime of Sudan selling, Red Sox owning Judy Miller times.

Why the change? After I was so close to relenting?

This morning's hit piece on my favorite in the 08 marathon was full of inuendo that turns out to be nothing. And it also turns out that, while slandering the work and the motives of John Edwards, they did (BIG SHOCK) precious little research into the actual people his anti-poverty project helped.

Of course, the hat tip as usual goes to the good folks at TPM media (Greg Sargent this time):

But if you are going to put such lines on your front page -- if you are going to publish an enormous story alleging that a person's antipoverty program was set up mainly to benefit the person who set it up -- then basic journalistic fairness would dictate that you make a genuine effort to see how the program fulfilled its "stated" purpose of helping people. Surprisingly, no mention of how the programs actually impacted people appears until the story's 18th paragraph -- and at that point it comes from the mouth of an Edwards spokesman. There's no indication that the reporter made any genuine independent effort at all to discover whether the programs helped anyone.

The mainstream media makes me want to vomit. A lot. All over them.

It's amazing to read stories like this and think of how lazy they've become. And that if I had just gotten a little more financial aid, I might have been stuck with an entire industry of lazy, sloppy, bogus clowns.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Bloomberg for President: worst idea ever.

I'll some substance to go with this in a bit, but I just want to put it out there now as I had a kind of frightening conversation with a friend that made me think about just how pressing this is. Michael Bloomberg for President is an awful idea. A horrible one. One that literally makes me want to throw up. Seriously.

New reasons to be frustrated with China, hate the Olympics

Given the reports of worker abuse in making Olympic goods, I have been reminded of my frustration with China and my hatred of the olympics. Oh goodie, another reason for both:

China plans to build a highway on the side of Mount Everest to ease the Olympic torch's journey to the top of the world's tallest mountain before the 2008 Beijing Games, state media reported yesterday.

Construction of the road, budgeted at $19.7 million, would turn a 67-mile path from the foot of the mountain to a base camp at 17,060 feet “into a blacktop highway fenced by undulating guardrails,” the Xinhua News Agency said.

A road. A road to Everest. a road THROUGH everest. a road through EVEREST with UNDULATING GUARDRAILS.

Shit, why don't they just liquify all their coal as quick as they can, mandate that every car in China be a gas guzzling SUV and WAIT FOR ALL THE FUCKING ICE AND SNOW TO MELT! Then, YOUWON'TNEEDAROAD.


A ROAD TO THE TOP OF EVEREST?! What, are they going to put a fucking mickey ds at the top? maybe Ronald McDonald can hang out at the top, greeting people that actually hiked it with a free cup of coffee. "Hey, neighbor, if you want it iced, just step outside. hah hah hah."

20 million dollars for a road, sullying one of the only natural things we have left.

I'm not a huge hiker. I imagine you have a better chance of seeing me elected president in 2008 than seeing me hike Everest. (and I won't be 35 in 08). But that doesn't mean it's fucking okay to put a road through the tallest mountain the world.


If they really want to decimate attractions, wait till they break ground on the Chucklenutz Library. I'd even take 2 million for it.

(see, Lilit, reading the sports pages is good sometimes)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

We're gonna need a bigger bench

Great piece in In These Times by Adam Doster about the over decade long problem of how does the progressive movement create an effective support system to educate, train, and nurture the next generation of organizers. (h/t to Mike Connery on MyDD's breaking blue page)

As I've watched wave after wave of friends being chewed up and spit out by The Work, I'm truly glad to see pieces like this come out. And as someone who's shifting what he does to do the work in a slightly more stable way, I feel like this is a giant problem. From rank and file union activists chewed up by their own union, to people completely burned out by the crazy hours and lack of support, to people working thesmelves to serious exhaustion and other injuries, it is an absolute shame what The Work has done to people who were (some still are) willing to dedicate their life to this fight. Many of us are resiliant and figuring out how do it in other ways. But we're losing some valuable allies along the way, and we better do something about it, and quick.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Understanding what being a representative is...

For 7 years, I put no bumper stickers on my car. It started with wanting to be a clean slate... I was starting my career as a professional troublemaker, and I figured I didn't want to to give people any more reasons to judge me or dislike me than they already had (that I was a young kid of 21/22 telling them I knew what they needed to make their job better). No band stickers, no Yankees or Rangers stickers, and no political stickers or decorations on my car.

See, I was the face of the union to those workers. When doing house visits and shop visits, I was representing the local, and in some cases, was the major interaction the workers had with their union that day/week/month. So I couldn't do anything that would cause people to object.... or at least, I tried. And when you sign up, when take on a cause, campaign, or project, it becomes necessary for you to to realize that it's bigger than you, and your missteps, shortcomings, and seemingly non relevant opinions now matter, and will attract attention to you and can be very negative for your cause.

I write this, almost incredulously, because already this 2008 Presidential Slog has been rife with gaffes, missteps, and public floggings of campaign officials and their staffers. we're getting to a point where not only will a candidate be flogged over past mishaps, but any staffers with controversial opinion will be taken to task as well.

There's been a lot of "ink spilled" in the blogosphere about some of the previous ones, but the one that jumps out at me as incredibly stupid is Robert Bauer's suggestion of a "progressive case for a Libby Pardon" in the Huffington Post. I don't think his argument has a lot of merit, but more to the point, why would you, a public figure involved in a very prominent political campaign, take a controversial position on a public issue that will certainly anger primary voters?

Like it or not, Bauer, you're a representative of Obama 08. So why you'd put your boss in the annoying position of having to answer questions about your argument to see Scooter Libby pardoned is beyond me. Now Senator Obama has to respond to your position, which will undoubtedly be picked up by the mainstream media and used to knock Sen. Obama down in the polls (ala the Scream).

It frustrates me that I've only been doing this for a few years, but somehow understand it better than these clowns who have been doing it forever. Maybe because they've been doing it forever they've lost touch. To the public, you must be a faceless representative of your candidate or cause. It's the workers, not you. It's the schoolchildren, not you. It's your candidate, not you. When it becomes about you, you need to rethink what you've done. When it becomes about you, you're not helping, you're hurting. I'm not saying I think it is fair. I'm not saying you should never have opinions.

Dad used to say "treat everything you write like it could be on the cover of the NY Times someday." It amazes me that, in the age of Drudge and the right wing media echo chamber, people don't understand that crap like this just gives the other clowns more ammo.


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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Somewhere, Grover Norquist must be smiling...

While trolling the JM Times this am, I came across this story. Seems that tens of thousands of people are having serious trouble getting their passports in time for trips, despite paying expediting fees, despite filing for their passports months in advance. I then noticed there's a huge increase in demand for passports, according to the story, and wondered why:

Much of the spike in applications is attributed to the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which went into effect Jan. 23 and requires passports, merchant mariner documents or frequent-traveler Nexus cards for air travelers returning from Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Bermuda. Next January, the requirement is likely to be extended to ship, rail and road travelers.

Okay, increasing requirements to get into this country. Where did this recommendation come from, DHS?

This change in travel document requirements is the result of recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission, which Congress subsequently passed into law in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.

The State Department is a wee bit more descriptive:

The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 requires the Department of Homeland Security and Department of State to develop and implement a plan to require all travelers, U.S. citizens and foreign nationals alike, to present a passport or other document, or a combination of documents, that denote identity and citizenship when entering the United States. Congress amended portions of the Act in 2006. The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative is the Administration’s proposed plan to implement this mandate.

The goal of the Initiative is to strengthen border security and facilitate entry into the United States for U.S. citizens and legitimate foreign visitors by providing standardized, secure and reliable documentation which will allow the Department of Homeland Security to quickly, reliably and accurately identify a traveler.

I'm trying to find the actual text that changed the law, but haven't yet.

In the meantime, here's what I don't get (take it away, JM Times):

But somehow, the government seemed caught by surprise when crowds began besieging passport offices this spring.

Wait, what? Let's see that again:

But somehow, the government seemed caught by surprise when crowds began besieging passport offices this spring.

Caught by surprise.


You implement a plan mandating that passports are now necessary for air travelers to Canada, Mexico, and the Carribean, and you're SHOCKED when your volume nearly doubles?

Did it not occur to the federal gov't to, oh, I don't know, hire some more people to deal with the process? Did no one think, maybe there are going to be more pasport applications, we should staff up to deal with this new law? Nope, and instead, you have stories about people waiting months, people showing up at 3am and not even being first in line, people spending whole days to deal with this.

What kills me about this is that, once again, our government was caught "unprepared" to deal. Another case of a meaningless mandate, which doesn't provide the funds or other resources necessary for the program to be implemented successfully. Oh, and other zinger about this program?

The problem extends nationwide, said Rob Smith, executive director of the National Association of Passport and Visa Services in Silver Spring, Md., an organization that represents about two dozen of the largest companies registered with the Passport Office to hand-carry or otherwise expedite a limited number of applications for a fee higher than what the government charges.

This year, Smith said, the government is expected to more than double the seven million passports issued in 2002.

Loosely translated, it means even the rich folks are having problems. But scratching just a bit deeper, you'll find that yes, there are companies where, if you have the money and time, will help you expedite the process. It's a two tier system, where private companies ensure that applications get to the top while a regular Jane or John has to go through everything on their own and hope for the best. Which, if this article is any indication, is not very good, not due to the quality of work of the passport folks, who I'm sure are working hard, but because of the sheer "unanticipated volume".

Some conservatives are so convinced that government must not provide servies that they're willing to screw millions to make a point. I'm not sure if this was intentional with regard to this specific case, but it a points to an incredibly shaky track record.

Get your passports early, people.

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