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Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Folkbum's Official 2004 Predictions
the things that turn out wrong are due to the medication

Pop Culture:
The real Michael Jackson will be found working in an auto chassis factory in Michigan, and the cyborg we think of as MJ will be humanely destroyed by prosecutors in what is almost, but technically not, the first televised execution.

Lord of the Rings: Return of the King loses the Best Picture Oscar to Bad Santa.

NBC launches "Law & Order: K-9," featuring the voice of Marv Albert as the talking dog.

Simon from "American Idol" and Vern from "Trading Spaces" are the first ones voted off the island.

In an attempt to top 2003's Brittney-kisses-Madonna stunt, the 2004 MTV Music Video Awards features people who actually like music getting screwed.

George W. Bush, in a move that surprises evryone, replaces himself at the top of the ticket with an infinite number of monkeys at an infinite number of typewriters. "Hey," he says by way of explanation, "these guys wrote Shakespeare."

Howard Dean wins the 2004 Democratic nomination, but only after he bests everyone else in the Thunderdome.

In California, newly elected governor Arnold Schwartzenegger resigns amid controversy after Maria publishes a tell-all memoir entitled He Groped What?

The anthrax killer, the Plame leaker, and Osama bin Laden are all caught, finally, by the A-Team.

The US Supreme Court faces its toughest case ever, when they agree to hear Spy v. Spy.

World Events
Terrorists strike somewhere, with some casualties.

Ariel Sharon reveals that the wall he's building to separate Israelis and Palestinians is really just his attempt at getting Roger Waters to re-unite with the rest of Pink Floyd for a concert of The Wall. It works initially, but halfway through "Bring the Boys Back Home" David Gilmour whacks Roger in the head with his strat, rendering him unconscious.

China sends up four more manned space missions, including one in September that docks at the International Space Station, where the Chinese pilot beats the US astronaut at weightless ping-pong.

Folkbum's Personal Life
After gaining fame and fortune as the key player in Dean's WI election victory, your humble folkbum is signed to a multi-record deal with, oh, let's say, Philo-Rounder (they do Good Things), and wins Teacher of the Year.

On the down side, Dean overlooks him for the cabinet. Sigh.

Tomorrow: Resolutions.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Sounds of silence

You may or may not have noticed, but has shut down. C|Net bought them out, and supposedly C|Net's working on a music download service that will be running sometime in the future. In the meantime, most of my on-line music is now unavailable. However, you can still download "I Hate to Disappoint You" from, and a live version of "The War Game" from New Songs for Peace. (While you're at NSfP, check out my friend Jym Mooney's excellent "I Have Come to Take my Boy Home.")

When C|Net gets its service up, I may make more songs available again. Of course, you could always write and offer to buy a CD chock-full of songs that aren't all bad. Ten bucks is the usual price, but you never know how low I might go to get rid of these things.

Monday, December 29, 2003

Folkbum at rest

The flu has struck the folkbum household. Even my knuckles ache.

So, with holidays, recovery, and such, blogging is/ has been/ will be light.

Monday, December 22, 2003

From my outbox

From: folkbum
Date: Mon Dec 22, 2003 10:40:51 PM America/Chicago
To: Jonathan Chait < >
Subject: Worst. Idea. Ever.

Mr. Chait:

How can you possibly believe that the best way to ensure that Democrats can beat Bush in November is to spend your time denigrating the man with, it seems from this vantage point, the best shot at being the one to face him?

I wouldn't want you to set aside your principles (if you have any; it's hard to tell) or compromise your integrity (see previous parens), but it seems to me that a more valuable use of your blogging time might be one of the following:

1. Exposing Bush for what he is--a lying bastard with no business in the White House;
2. Promoting the other Democratic contenders instead of tearing down the one you dislike; or
3. Doing pretty much anything else.

Not one vote has yet been cast, of course, so there is no sense in running around asking people to "fall in line." But understand this: Bush is strong (see today's post of yours--you never do say why Bush is successful, leading me to think you may not know!) because he enjoys stronger solidarity among Republican voters than his father, for example. Democrats couldn't hold the coalition in 2000--discounting a popular-vote win--for if the Nader voters had allied with instead of against us, we would have won New Hampshire and Florida, and we'd be talking right now about how to re-elect president Gore.

In other words, you're part of the problem. You sow disunity and dissention when within a few short months we must, absolutely must, present a united front.

Ann Coulter has a word for people like you, which, I expect, she has probably called you many times. In this case, I concur, for your politics of destruction--self-destruction, at that--are nothing short of traitorous.

(NB to my readers: I refuse to link to Chait's Dean-o-phobe blog, though I'm thinking of doing a point-by-point rebuttal of an entry or two of his later this week.)

UPDATE, 12/23: cynic has started the Chait-o-Phobe response site. Check it out.

DefCon: Ernie

(If you don't get the joke, check the right column.)

Tom Ridge came out of his hole yesterday to tell us there would be six more weeks of winter is an increased threat level of terrorism on US soil. Nothing to kill the holiday spirit like a hefty dose of irrational panic, no? And I wonder who's getting duct tape and plastic sheeting in their stockings this Christmas?

The most damaging effect of this elevated terror alert will be further depletion of state and municipal budgets. Even though Homeland Security is slated to reimburse local agencies for additional costs incurred (because the feds have so much money!), short term, cities, couties, and states will be faced with a tab that they cannot pick up. Just think of the holiday overtime, for example.

It's not that I don't think that there may be a threat of terrorism or that I don't want everyone at home and abroad to be safe. It just seems like there has got to be a better way, something that involves not so much panic and "threat levels" here at home, but concerted efforts at cultivating and using allies to help us find and dismantle terrorist networks here and abroad. Attacking Iraq and capturing Saddam Hussein has not made us safer (and that's not just me talking). Treating this like a holy war has not made us safer (remember that Ashcroft, Ridge, and the Whopper only tout busts of terrorists if they are not Christian). Reelecting the Whopper in 2004 will not make us safer.

I want my country back.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Folkbum on Radio

Teachers Speak Out, the grass-rootsy group of Milwaukee Public Schools teachers I am a part of, will be making our public debut this weekend for anyone in Southeastern Wisconsin. A few of us will be appearing on Dave Melnick's show in 620 WTMJ radio from 11 AM to 1 PM. It's a call-in, so if you would like to talk live and in person to your humble Folkbum about the issues surrounding the public schools in Milwaukee, you can. (There is no web-cast available, sorry!)

For the uninitiated, Dave is the voice of the left, or at least of reason, on WTMJ's talk radio (owned by the same company that owns the daily paper and the NBC affiliate in town), relegated to the Sunday 11-3 slot, unless there's a Packers game on. In the meantime, eight or ten hours a day during the station has right-wing Rushclones who hate teachers.

This is probably the last time I will mention TSO and our work here on this blog, since I do want to keep the inherently political stuff separate from the work I want to do for teachers. But you can bookmark the TSO site to keep up with that kind of thing over there.

Old Friends and New Pages

Fellow Milwaukee Dean Supporters--

When ten other people and I gathered at Alterra Coffee the first Wednesday of March to talk about this Howard Dean fellow we'd become enamored of, I had no idea how that we would come this far. I had hopes sure, but I never imagined that, at the moment when the Iowa caucuses are just a month away, you and I and everyone I've met along the way would be a part of a real revolution in American politics. The tea is in the harbor, folks, and I'd like to think we're all responsible for at least a few leaves.

In the intervening months, I took on a number of responsibilities with this group, going so far as to call myself--at the urging of others--the coordinator of our, at the time, rag-tag band of Dean supporters. But it has been a while since I posted to this group at all, and even longer since I've done any real coordinating.

Since August, with the arrival of Mike Tate and Meagan Mahaffey in Milwaukee, not to mention the new school year starting for me (I am a teacher), the Dean campaign has had an official presence in town. In addition, many other great people have taken on tremendous responsibility in coordinating and hosting activities around town.

And, hey, now that Al Gore's on board, you really don't need me at all! :)

But another reason I have been away from the campaign these past few months is that I am attempting to put together a new grass-roots coalition here in Milwaukee. As you know, the Dean campaign has probably done more to revive the grassroots in this country than even a strong dose of Miracle Gro could. I have taken those lessons in grassroots organizing, and, in concert with some other Milwaukee Public Schools teachers, have put together a group that will try to provide a positive voice for public school teachers in Milwaukee. We are in the midst of contract-negotiating time, and, as you know if you've been reading the Journal Sentinel or (shudder) listening to Charlie Sykes, teachers and our union are being demonized, painted as the enemy. Teachers Speak Out, the name of our group, is going to try, grassroots-style, to change that.

So, I have not abandoned Dean. I will be Meeting Up, phone-banking when I can, and GOTVing as much as possible in both February and November. But I may seem a little pre-occupied with my other projects. And I do want to be thank all of you for your help and your, more importantly, your inspiration. If I tried to name you all, I would miss someone, I'm sure. I will see you on the campaign trail--

Sunday, December 14, 2003

It's October Already?

I'm not a warblogger, never have been, never wanted to be. But today's capture of Osama bin Laden the anthrax killer Saddam Hussein is really, really big news, even if they didn't save it for the "October Surprise."

My guy Dean's response was out earlier this morning:
Statement by Governor Dean on the Capture of Saddam Hussein

WEST PALM BEACH-- Governor Dean issued the following statement this morning:

"This is a great day for the Iraqi people, the US, and the international community.

"Our troops are to be congratulated on carrying out this mission with the skill and dedication we have come to know of them.

"This development provides an enormous opportunity to set a new course and take the American label off the war. We must do everything possible to bring the UN, NATO, and other members of the international community back into this effort.

"Now that the dictator is captured, we must also accelerate the transition from occupation to full Iraqi sovereignty."
I think Dean's response hits all the right notes:
• Good troops (not administration of the war)
• Good for Iraqis (not Bush's re-election)
• Get US troops out and international forces in now, and end the occupation

And I think we have to face it: The only one who gets a bump in poll numbers now is Bush. Those great polls showing him at under 50% for re-elect? We won't see those again for some time.

I also don't think we're going to see an end to violence in Iraq, since I have a hard time believing we're under attack from Saddam loyalists. I think we're mostly facing Iraqi resistance to the American occupation, and as long as we are there our troops will die needlessly.

Friday, December 12, 2003


As much as I think that electability arguments are a losing game, I would like to point out that we're in the process of gaming the system for a new Google Bomb: We want to make sure that unelectable gets into the works at Google, too.

It's also not a bad idea to try linking Bush inauguration, Bush inaugural, Bush inaugural address, and Bush inauguration speech, to that great Onion article, "Bush: 'Our Long National Nightmare Of Peace And Prosperity Is Finally Over.'" (Idea from KarMann/ John.)

New York Times: Folkbum is right

A while back I had a nice long post, "Electoral Math is for Losers" (read it with comments over at dKos), in which I wrote
You may believe that the election will be decided in just a few key battleground states and you may want to bother over which candidate you think has a better shot in those few key battleground states.  But that's not what I want.  I want a candidate who campaigns to win the election, not a candidate who campaigns to win, say, Tennessee.

When we start talking about who looks good in the South, or who looks good in the Midwest, or who looks good in whatever pet state you think will be the deciding one in 2004, we lose sight of the big picture.  We are in this election as Democrats, and we will win as Democrats.  We are not the party of one region or another.  We are not the party of one group or another.  We represent the majority view on every major domestic issue in the country, and it's time to win--and win the whole country.  I don't want to hear about how one guy will win one state.  That's loser talk.  I want to hear about how we will win period in 2004.
Well, New York Times columnist Bob Herbert seems to agree. Among other great points about November 2004, he writes
The Democratic Party's circular firing squad has assembled. Everybody's angry with everybody else. [. . . T]he Democrats need more than a candidate or two. The party needs a plan. It needs a coherent, compelling, convincing narrative that shows how voters and the nation would be better off under Dr. Dean or General Clark or Dick Gephardt--take your pick--than they are now.

To regain control of the White House, the Democrats need to give voters, who are frightened by terrorism and disoriented by the pace of 21st-century events, new reasons to hope. That can only be done by a thoughtful, united, energized and creative party. A party with a plan and a ferocious will to win.
It's nice to be vindicated by the Gray Lady, I guess, but it does make me wonder why this whole thing hasn't sunk in with everybody else yet. It's not a matter of trying to win one state or another, or having the most "electable" guy (sorry, Moseley Braunatics). It's a matter of wanting it, wanting it bad, and working for it. What's so hard about that? What's not to get? Can anybody explain it?

Help me stop the end of the world

Take Ralph Nader's survey. Tell him no, in every way possible. Thank you.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

A Must Read

I so seldom just point to other blogs and say "Go read" (except OSP ;) ), but when I do, do I ever steer you wrong? Cowboy Kahlil has one final post at his blog (he's moving to a new host eventually), and it's called 50 reasons to elect Howard Dean. Go read.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Goodbye, Bow Tie

Former Senator Paul Simon, and recent Howard Dean-endorser, died today after his heart surgery yesterday. I always liked him, and I know he was very well respected among the Illinoisites. Condolences to his family and friends.

And I was really looking forward to seeing that bow tie with Howard Dean on the campaign trail this summer.


I've said just about all I have to say about the Gore thing at OSP.

So today, instead, I'm pleading for some more of us Dean supporters to freep the POTUS Poll (I'm talking to you, Al!). The poll is run by folks who support Instant Runoff Voting. The Kucinich people have got this thing locked down, it seems, despite what one would think would be Dean's overwhelming netroots.

Email everyone you know. We need to take this puppy back.

(As an aside, I am constantly amazed at Kucinich supporters' organization. As much as people talk about Dean's and Clark's machines being excellent, the DKers are almost LaRouche-like in their tenacity. I heard a Wisconsin Public Radio phone-in straw poll one day recently where Kucinich probably won 2-1 over Dean. That takes discipline and real organization. Too bad it doesn't take many live voters.)

Monday, December 08, 2003


I'm really surpised no one is using this, but I haven't seen it anywhere else and the only Google entry for it comes from an OSP article of mine.

Well, I hereby stake claim to this coinage, and would like the world of neologisms to take note:

BLOGONYM (blog´ • o • nim) n. The pseudonym adopted by one who writes a web log (a web blogger, or blogger) who wishes to remain anonymous. This blogger's blogonym is "folkbum."

Paranoia strikes you deep

Here's one to keep you up at night. John Williams at Open Source Politics asks the very simple question: Do you want your vote to count? The article contains a link to a voting "machine" he programmed that, surprise surprise, may not actually count your vote correctly.

You might think I'm crazy

Which Historical Lunatic Are You?
From the fecund loins of Rum and Monkey.

Via NTodd

Saturday, November 29, 2003

Electoral Math is for Losers

Steve Gilliard used to say that all the time, that electoral math is for losers. He got a lot of people all het up about it, too. But the more I see Democrats--good, solid, thoughtful, intelligent, all-on-the-same-side Democrats--carefully crafting arguments around which candidate to support (or not) in the primaries based on "electability" and the vagaries of the Electoral College, the more convinced I am that Gilliard is right: This gets us nowhere and serves to do nothing but sow dissension among us.

I should be clear: I'm not calling all those who fiddle with electoral maps and count the electors on their fingers and toes losers. When I say that electoral math is for losers, I mean that counting electors is, ultimately, a losing strategy. I'll elaborate in a moment.

Am I defensive? I mean, after all, most of the people spelling out electability issues or predicting Electoral College doom are doing so to argue against Howard Dean. I am, it is well known in these parts, a long-time Dean supporter. So, then, is it just a reflex mechanism on my part to say that only a loser would argue against Howard Dean based on electoral math? I don't think so. I firmly believe that a bean-counter approach to 2004 is ultimately the worst strategy we can take (no offense to bean counters in the audience).

First of all, electability is a canard. We are a full year, basically, away from November 2004. George W. Bush is consistently at or below the level of "generic Democrat" in head-to-head polls. Yet most candidates most of the time fall behind Bush in head-to-heads. Sure, there's a state poll here and there showing some candidates up and some down, or a national poll every once in a while with one guy up over the others. But in the end, if we're looking just at the polling data from today, the Democrats all have roughly equal shots if you average the polls, and the Democrats, with an unnamed candidate, have an excellent outlook in general.

But when people talk about Howard Dean's unelectability--or, for that matter, any Democrat's--the polls are secondary. It's all about personality. Dean's too angry. Dean's (perceived as) too liberal. Dean's too gruff. Contrariwise, Clark's too militaristic to attract former Greens; Kerry's too lackluster; Gephardt's too old-school; Edwards is too young. And so on. For the most part, there is nothing objective in these elecability arguments.

What really sticks in my craw, though, is the unspoken but ever-present sense among the Democrats making these electability claims that one candidate or another (usually, again, Howard Dean) will not have the full support of the Democratic Party--or at least some Democratic voters. This is bad voodoo, my friends. Look, I'm hip-deep in the Dean campaign. I have as much invested in this as anyone. And yet, if Dean is not the nominee, I have no intention of just walking away, or of only giving lackluster support to the nominee. Why? Because Democrats must win next November.

I put that in italics so there would be no question where my loyalty lies. I want Bush out of Washington. Period. I don't care if the Democrats nominate a limp rag, I will bust my hump going door-to-door for that scrappy little rag. And face it: With about a bazillion dollars to spend next year, the Bush campaign will be hard for any Democrat to beat without all of us working hard for victory. If all you plan to do is sit on your butt if your guy doesn't win, then I don't want to read your whining about how all of the other guys can't win.

Now about that pesky Electoral College thing. You and I both know that the only thing that guarantees a win in 2004 is 270 or more electoral votes. So why, then, do I think all of this electoral math is for losers? Simple: Did you ever notice how southerners get upset whenever anyone reminds us that we don't need the South to win? You and I both know that there is very little chance that the Democrat will win Mississippi. But if all goes according to plan, our guy will be the president in Mississippi just as he will be the president in Massachusetts. And we cannot campaign nor can we act as though the South is not a part of this country or a part of this race. (Plenty of other states or regions can be substituted in the preceding without changing a thing.)

You may believe that the election will be decided in just a few key battleground states and you may want to bother over which candidate you think has a better shot in those few key battleground states. But that's not what I want. I want a candidate who campaigns to win the election, not a candidate who campaigns to win, say, Tennessee.

When we start talking about who looks good in the South, or who looks good in the Midwest, or who looks good in whatever pet state you think will be the deciding one in 2004, we lose sight of the big picture. We are in this election as Democrats, and we will win as Democrats. We are not the party of one region or another. We are not the party of one group or another. We represent the majority view on every major domestic issue in the country, and it's time to win--and win the whole country. I don't want to hear about how one guy will win one state. That's loser talk. I want to hear about how we will win period in 2004.

So don't show me your electoral math. Don't complain about some candidate's personality and call it electability. Instead tell me how we're gonna win. That's the talk of winners.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Louise the Rabbit
1994(?)-November 24, 2003

'Mid brown castor fur
A little pink tongue darted.
She licked everything.

Rest in peace, little rabbit girl.

UPDATE: Thanks to all leaving condolences, and to NTodd for directing you all here. If you so choose, in memorium you can make a donation to the House Rabbit Society.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

The Cake has now been Taken

I got found yesterday on Google with the search string (I shudder to type this) "Aaron Carter armpits" (somehow I was in the top ten).

I think in the last couple weeks I set a pretty high standard, what with that posting once, sometimes twice a day. I should have saved them all up and spread them out; I have some guilt now because the last week has been dry around here.

I'm working on a write-up of my visit with way-cool Wisconsin state superintendent Elizabeth Burmaster last Friday. This past week has also been NCLB testing week, and I'd like to get some thoughts down about how all that went (like you don't know what I'm going to say already!). Tonight I have tickets to a house concert with Cosy Sheridan, so those posts probably won't be until next week.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Fun with free image hosts


Howard Dean:

The interview that led to my appearance in USA Today (I'm the one who doesn't look like Jill Lawrence):

All pictures by Mrs. Folkbum Sarah ("I'm not Mrs. anybody!"), who famously gets forgotten for her photos. There's a story in that for later.

Saturday, November 08, 2003

Okay, I'm giving up the themed post titles

It was fun while it lasted, but I'm moving on. Anyway, no big news to report.

Oh, there was an eclipse.

And Howard Dean has rejected matching funds at the request of 85% of the people who voted in his "poll." The most telling bit of news: "During the two-day vote, supporters of the campaign pledged or contributed over $5.3 million with an average contribution or pledge of $116.89." So, going into the vote, word in the street was that Dean had already topped $5m in contributions for the quarter. Add to it this $5.3m, and Dean's at over $10m for the quarter with 60% of the quarter left to go. At this rate, he will raise $25m easy for the quarter. Ouch.

Here's an interesting one on the likely AFSCME endorsement, too. Every week, National Journal runs a "Democratic Insider" poll to find out who "insiders" think will win the nomination (I found it through Political Wire). For the three weeks that they have run this poll, Howard Dean has won it. I noticed this week, among the list of "insiders," this bit: "INSIDERS (candidate affiliation or endorsement, if any): [. . .] Gerald McEntee [. . .]." Gerry McEntee, of course, is the president of AFSCME. I would have loved to have been in the room to hear what McEntee said as an "insider" and why!

"Boston Bound" is done at OSP, with Howard Dean and a bonus edition of predictions.

Friday, November 07, 2003

You can try again, it might work next time

I've mentioned the odd Googling that happens to get people here. Today it was from the German version of Google: "Das Web wurde nach Mousepads mit Winnie Puh durchsucht.  Ergebnisse 1 - 3 von ungefähr 5. Suchdauer: 0.30 Sekunden." I was number two on the list.

I guess Google in Germany is a lot like Google here. It turns out that when you suche das Web with common words, it exludes them: "'mit' ist ein sehr häufiges Wort und wurde in der Suchanfrage ignoriert."

I have to say that Suchanfrage is my new favorite word. (For a long time, my favorite word was fardel, which you can find most famously in Hamlet's "To be or not to be" speech.)

Oh, and OSP has part five of my "Boston Bound" series up, on Dick Gephardt.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

And the only friend you can reach isn't a good friend at all

Let me take a moment to thank Joe Lieberman for doing something right in this campaign. Notice that his name is missing from this sentence:
Gephardt, Clark and Kerry are working together once again to try and stop an endorsement.
And how about this whole SEIU plus AFSCME deal? Is that just mind-blowing or what? I was, in fact, going to title this post "Holy Fucking Shit," but then I thought the Dar Williams fans would get confused.

[UPDATE: Alert (and nit-picky :) ) reader Jeremy points out that Wesley Clark is not involved (it is Edwards instead) in the behind-the-scenes politicking to stop the endorsements for Dean. I didn't leave Clark out for nefarious reasons; I just thought the joke was funnier with Lieberman.]

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Even after the anger, it all turned silent

Untelevised seems to be missing. Does everyone else see just a blank screen? Where are you, Matt?

And I look out and say, "Yeah, she's really blonde"
bonus headline!

And at OSP, Kenneth Q. takes on the monumental task of refuting Ann Coulter. Godspeed, man.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Tonight I went running through the screen doors of discretion

Howard Dean is taking the populist thing in every direction possible, no? Now, he wants us to decide if he should abandon public financing in the primary:
I am writing to place the most important decision of this campaign in your hands. We need to choose whether we will decline federal matching funds or accept them. [. . .] This decision is no longer mine to make. This is a campaign of the people, by the people and for the people. Your successful effort of raising a historic amount of money through small contributions has made this choice possible. This is why I am putting this decision in your hands. I am asking you to vote on what kind of a campaign we will conduct from this point forward. No matter how well intentioned both our options are – the choice is difficult: do we choose option (a) to fund our campaign ourselves and decline matching funds, or do we choose option (b) and accept federal matching funds and the spending limits?
This announcement came early. It was not due to be made until tomorrow. If you want my honest assessment, I think he did it tonight because he got battered in the "Rock the Vote" forum tonight about the confederate flag. (And he lost some esteem in my eyes because he prefers peecees to Macintosh. Sigh.) But now the headlines in the morning will not be about his being battered in the debate, but rather his decision to turn the decision on public financing over to his supporters. Very shrewd.

I don't necessarily think it wise to forego the public financing in the primary--though Dean does make the point that we Dems are dead in tha water until after Boston--but this was a great media move on somebody's part. Dean owns the news cycle for the next week.

Taking out the compost

Go say congrats to another USA Today alum, Candidate's Wife.

(It was tricky finding an appropriate title for this post that matches my theme. But CW is in garbage janitorial supplies, so it works. Kind of. It's not a judgment on CW or her USA Todayness.)

I think magic's in the learning

Blog of a Math Teacher has a question: Teachers, what would it take for you to change what you do in class? Interesting dicussion to follow, I'm sure.

bostonbound.jpgAnd don't forget to drop by OSP for my Joe Lieberman Boston Bound post. And don't make fun of the logo; our design team didn't come through and I had to do it myself. :(

Monday, November 03, 2003

The child who played with the moon and stars

Congratulations to Mrs. and Mr. Kos on the birth of Aristotle Alberto. Much cooler than NTodd's cat.

If you're gonna get your heart broke, you'd better do it just right

For the Kucinichistas, Sharptonites, and Moseley Braunatics out there, I have a post up at OSP detailing what may be their only hopes for success in the primaries. It's part one in a six-part "Boston Bound" series.

I'm taking a cue from Atrios with the post titles for a little while. The bonus credit is still available for the first enterprising soul to get it!

Sunday, November 02, 2003

I have a good, I have an evil

This site is certified 29% EVIL by the Gematriculator This site is certified 71% GOOD by the Gematriculator

And bonus points if you spot the allusion in the post title!

Saturday, November 01, 2003

As cool as I am

I guess the prize for forgetting to submit my votes for the weekly "Best of Blogs" segment of Open Source Politics is that they vote for one of my pieces as one of the best. This week's BoB is "The Best of Us," a collection of good OSP posts from October. My "Wither College Funding?" post from a few weeks back made the cut.

I also recommend Loren Webster's "Goodbye to the Clean Water Act?", Dru Blood's "Why I Homeschool My Children", Patrick Taylor's "The Deportation of Maher Arar", Kenneth Quinnell's "T. Rex's North American Field Guide to Monsters: The Right-Wing Zombie", Barbara O'Brien's "Life, Death, and Politics", and NTodd's "Around the World in 80 Sentences (Or Half That)". The rest of them are just as good; I just don't have time to list them all here.

Go read. Now.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

I've been trolled!

In response to my latest Open Source Politics post, I got a Republican troll in the comments. I never get Republican trolls, not even here! So I'm quite pleased with myself. Here's the comment:
Found this by chance on weblogs. I also watched most of the NOW show--keeping up on the enemy. When asking gov't officials about education, esp. Bush and Paige, remember to also look to the author of the No Child Left Behind Legislation--namely, Ted Kennedy, D-Mass. I am sure there was/is much more that could be done, and I am of the opinion that it was a huge mistake to allow a communist who loves dictators more than his own country (partisan as I am) to write the law that would educate our children, rather than more qualified individuals. This, if anything, is Bush's mistake. As for the NOW gang, if you've watched for any length of time you know the stances they take on most issues--leftest communist are often praised while those that truely love this country are ridiculed. The only real hope we have to educate the children in our country is to disallow any more federal spending on this network (PBS), then take that wasted money, now spent to brainwash good and decent Americans, and apply it to real education.

Posted by Paul at October 28, 2003 05:47 PM
Here's my response.

Thanks for your comment, Paul. I hope some day to be enumerated among your enemies. :)

You make a number of assertions here. I'll not address the PBS stuff, except to say that, even according to your conservative peers' figures, the PBS share of our federal bounty is less than $300 million, which is just a small percentage of the total budget of just my school district, let alone federal funding of education overall. As someone who knows all the Spanish I do from watching "Sesame Street" (
agua! uno, do, tres!), I think that the federal money is mui worthwhile.

As to NCLB, you may say that Comrade Ted Kennedy was involved in writing the bill, but believe me, he was not pleased with the entire bill. Education Week, which is not known in teachers'-union circles for being all that sympathetic to our causes, noted that "[t]he final package reflects a political compromise by a range of interests, but embraces many of the president's original proposals unveiled just days after Mr. Bush took office a year ago this month." Yes, there was bi-partisan support for the bill, passing with nearly 90% in congress; but the key parts of the bill, and the ones I as an educator and liberal commentator have biggest problems with, are straight out of Rod Paige's Houston, which "NOW" and many others have fully debunked.

Kennedy was more for the good parts of the bill, which Boehner, Hastert, and the Bush administration had to agree to (the compromise) in order to get Democrats on board with the bill. He was not fully pleased with it, and recognized that a good bill would take continuous fights. The same Ed. Week article notes that
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, said just before the bill's final Senate passage that major urban areas would see increases of at least 30 percent in Title I aid. Under the fiscal 2002 budget, Boston public schools will get an extra $11 million this year, Los Angeles an extra $87 million, and New York City an additional $143 million, according to preliminary estimates by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service. High-poverty rural areas will also see significant gains, Sen. Kennedy said.

One key measure excluded from the final deal would have meant even more money for school districts across the country: a plan to shift spending for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act from the "discretionary" to the "mandatory" side of the federal budget. That proposal would have skirted the annual appropriations process in Congress and locked in years of spending increases for special education. The measure was included in the Senate version of the ESEA, but was removed in the face of staunch opposition from Republicans on the House side of the 39-member conference committee on the ESEA. [. . .]

Mr. Kennedy pointed to provisions in the bill that would expand opportunities for educators' professional development, provide money to help schools reduce class sizes, and expand and strengthen after-school programs. He also said the bill would provide new resources and support for failing schools.

"I regret that we are not going to be able to reach all of the children that could benefit from these kinds of programs," he said. "We will see a significant increase in the resources. [. . .] We're going to have that battle next year, and the year after that. That's the way this process works," Mr. Kennedy said.

Kennedy fought hard for the increases in Title I (and as a teacher at a Title I school, I am glad). Kennedy also fought for full IDEA funding (the feds are supposed to kick in ~30%, but they've been paying ~12%), which would be a tremendous relief to state budgets (in the red everywhere) and urban districts which have proportionally more special education students than wealthier suburban districts. And Democrats have continued to fight for full funding not only of IDEA but NCLB itself. You seem to be in favor of increased funding for education (at least, your call for unfunding PBS points that way), you should spend your time lobbying your congresscritter for full IDEA and NCLB funding instead of calling Bill Moyers a communist.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Today's Reading Assignment

Of course, the readings are all from Open Source Politics. The first is mine, a review of "NOW with Bill Moyers" from a while back all about the "Houston Miracle" and No Child Left Behind.

The second is Natalie Davis writing the post I've thought about on the partial-birth abortion fiasco last week. Kenneth Quinnel looks at another example of Republicans playing doctor with the Terri Schiavo case.

But the cool one is Laura Poyneer's (aka Al-Muhajabah) post explaining Ramadan, the Islamic holiday. Not only is it thorough (when you click through to her FAQ), it's also getting mention at the USA Today webguide! As a USA Today veteran myself, I say welcome to the club, Laura!

I may have another post later today about taxes. Maybe about the primaries. Maybe not until Saturday. I don't know. This week is funny for me. Check back often.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

I Know What's Wrong

It's the end of the month and there's no bat.

Plus, it got dark at 4:45.

A Blast from the Past

I posted this in the comments over at NTodd's place, but I realize that I never did post a wrap-up to all the stuff I was into during Howard Dean's Sleepless Summer Tour here on my own blog. So here's one small piece of it. Enjoy.

Did I ever tell you about the time I almost got Jodi Wligoren in trouble with Howard Dean's campaign manager Joe Trippi? The Sleepless Summer tour was literally sleepless for me. And I had a van full of journalists in my power.

I was one of several people drafted to show up at 5:30 the morning after the 9:00 p.m. rally here in Milwaukee to drive the people back from the hotel to the airport (only about a three-minute drive).

Wilgoren was in my van, and after I deposited the press at the airport, she asked me if I could drive her across the way to the Speedway station to see if they had any New York Timeses (it was Sunday morning).

She found three, and then I started back for the hotel, since I knew there would still be people to pick up. She thought I would just take her back to the airport. We had our wires crossed, I guess.

But when I pulled up in front of the hotel, there was no press left (the remainder had all been in the van that left just before we got back). Joe Trippi and whatsisname, the pollster, were standing around with a few other staffers, and Trippi got this what-the-hell-is-a-reporter-doing-here look on his face as we came to a stop. Wligoren, to her credit, and perhaps saving us all, rolled down the van window and said, "Here, Joe. I got you a New York Times."


She was not the last press person left, though. As the LAST last van was about to pull off, some guy came flying out of the hotel's front doors, screaming, "Am I too late? They didn't give me my f***ing wake-up call!"

(And, once the press was safely on the plane, I got to drive the Gov. and Kate O'Connor in my Saturn--lucky me for being the only one with an American car!)

Friday, October 24, 2003

Happy "Take Back Your Time Day"

I'll be blogging more about it when I get home from work tonight at 6:30.

I have a new Open Source Politics entry up on the very scary (for people with kids, anyway) report on skyrocketing college tuition. I blame the Republicans. (Bonus points to anyone who recognizes the building in the graphic accompanying that story. Stacie, you're disqualified.)

Also in the past couple of days I had a diary entry make it to the front page of the Daily Kos, generating more comments than any other post over there since Kos's Scoop migration a few weeks back. Now if only that would translate into readership here.

I should plug someone else, so I don't sound too stuck up or nothing. Dru Blood has just about the coolest (and seasonal-holiday-appropriate) blogging pseudonym ever. And her blog is good, too.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Some random questions to keep you entertained

When did purple become a Halloween color? And, for that matter, why is it that now we decorate as much for Halloween as for Christmas? If the amount of Halloween crap on display in my new neighborhood is any indication of what's to come, they will be able to see the Christmas lights from the International Space Station.

What's my list of things for Kevin Drum to do while he's in my native Cincinnati? I'm assuming he doesn't want to visit my parents, so that limits things, as that's pretty much all I usually do there. He can see White Tigers (like the one that ate Roy) at the zoo. And Union Station's fixed up all pretty now. And there's apparently nice new sports stadiums for the Reds and Bengals to lose in. But my advice: Get out now. It worked for me, no?

Have you tooled through my blogroll lately? Lots of relatively new stuff on there.

Anyone want to come to my house and grade papers? I will buy you Krispy Kreme. Swear to Jeebus. (And I have dog training homework to do, too!)

Speaking of new animals, NTodd has a new kitten. Go give him a virtual cigar or something. (Not really a question, I know.)

We should offer condolences to Chicago's Kenn and Boston's Amy for that whole baseball thing. I think Kos was pretty broken up about the Cubs, too, but he has enough traffic already, and a new Scoop-powered blog to keep him busy. (Not really a question, either.)

Identify what's wrong with this sentence, if you can: "COTTON RUGBY SHORTS (For Men and Women): Like the rugged sport they're named after, these robust cotton knit shorts have a 6" inseam."

Are you reading Open Source Politics every day yet? Why not?

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Open Thread--Suggestions, Please

I'm going to add another section to the links there on the right. At this point, I've got the shameless self-promotion section, the Howard Dean section, the music links, and the blog links. I'm going to add an education links section, and I'd be interested in your input for what you think belongs in that section. So far, I'm looking at Rethinking Schools, the NEA and the AFT, and the ERIC database. I have a few others I'm considering, and I want to include bloggers who write primarily about education issues. So if you know of any, drop me a line in the comments. And you can talk about anything else that interests you, if you'd rather.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

I'm not dead

Though the various viruses (anybody's band need a name?) I've suffered under for the past week and a half are doing their damnedest.

My latest OSP post is on developments in Wesley Clark's campaign (done relatively without bias). The cool part is that Taegan Goddard of Political Wire has picked up on it, and mentions it in the same sentence as two of the three most-read liberal bloggers on the block, Josh Marshall and Kos. Just kind of reinforces the notion that you can't trust anything on the web anymore--you never know what kind of nut is writing it.

Part three of my No Child Left Behind series will be up at OSP this week yet, I swear. Though there's some re-organization going on over there, and the "Knowledge" section is being folded into the "Inside/ Outside" section. So who knows. But you can read parts one and two now if you haven't.

Friday, October 03, 2003

Something Happy

For those of you who thought my earlier post today was too much of a downer (or at least the "I'm having a crappy life, woe is me" part of it), here's some happy news:

If you care (I know you do), four of the top five blogs on The Truth Laid Bear's Ecosystem stats are liberals. For a long time, few if any lefties ranked that high. Help us out, will you, and link to Talking Points, Atrios, Kos, and CalPundit. We still have a ways to go to knock Instapundit out of #1, though. (Notice I didn't link to him--I'm not gonna help his stats!)

Open Source Politics (my moonlighting gig from this blog) has jumped into the top ten as well, at #7, making fully half of the top ten and more than half of the top seven blogs liberal blogs. Yay, us! Note that this is just link-tos, though; OSP's in the low twenties in terms of overall traffic.

Speaking of OSP, Kenneth Quinnell (occasionally known as T. Rex) has a fantastic post up there about all kinds of bad news for conservatives, meaning happy news for us!

Finally, appealing to my softer side, the anonymous (near as I can tell, but I'm a little dim) poster at Blog of a Math Teacher has both linked to my OSP columns on No Child Left Behind and tacitly endorsed Howard Dean. Go give him/ her some needed traffic, positive feedback, and encouragement, because we damn sure need more math teachers!

And I've posted twice in one day. If that's not happy news, I don't know what is.

I'm not buying "Not This War"

I need to blog today. I've had a crappy week, I'm tired, I'm frustrated, and I have mounds of other stuff to do. But I need to blog today.

My subject of choice is something that's been bugging the hell out of me for some time: John Kerry's vote on the Iraq War Resolution and his subsequent attempts to explain why he voted for it:
"I voted for the resolution to provide the President with the credible threat-force which I believe the President has to have," Kerry said, but added that he had presumed that Bush would respect multilateral institutions like the United Nations and would work with the world rather than going it alone.
Now, I will happily admit that the sum total of my foreign policy experience is limited to some very relaxing time on a Mexican beach every couple of years, and that my military and diplomatic credentials begin and end with a high-school addiction to the game Diplomacy. I've got nothing on John Kerry. Nothing. And I have even less on Wes Clark, who in the last couple of weeks seems to have aligned himself with Kerry's position.

The venerable Josh Marshall, who seems to be firmly in the Clark camp now, writes that "the heart of the matter [is] the difference between thinking that this war was ill-conceived and poorly planned (which I think is Clark's position) and being 'anti-war' in the sense of some broader political ethic." Marshall complains that some people--notably media watchdogs FAIR--see only this dichotomy, without any acknowledgement that there can be a third (or fourth or fifth) way about it.

But what Josh doesn't quite get is that it's not at all about being pro-Iraq war vs. being a pacifist. Dennis Kucinich is probaly the only true pacifist in this race, and the number of true pacifists in the Democratic party is probably not much bigger than the number of DK supporters. No, the real issue is the vote. Period.

Joe Lieberman has been prattering on for a long time now about how the Iraq war is a "just war," and Edwards refuses to discuss his vote. Gephardt, of course, sold out Daschle and the Senate Dems there in the Rose Garden. Those three seem to be fully on the one side of that vote.

Dean, Kucinich, Sharpton, Moseley Braun, and the (departing?) Bob Graham have all been consistently against waging this war. That's the other side of the vote. (I know DK and Graham are the only ones of those actually to vote on it.)

But Kerry and Clark now seem to want to populate the middle, saying that a yes vote in October 2002 was the only way to go, since without it, there would have been no likelihood of a peaceful solution. I say that's bunk. Why? Simple:

You cannot give a lighter to an arsonist and expect him not to start a fire!

They had to have known that Bush would go to war. Unquestionably, they had to know. I mean, I knew, and, as I said, I don't have squat in the experience department.

And Clark! My god, if he's the modern war genius his supporters claim, he must have been daft to think that Bush would not take the blank check right down the street to the liquor store.

Most other presidents? Sure, they may have acted responsibly. This one? No. And I'm not just saying that because I have a visceral reaction when I see him or hear him or think about him. The Bush administration established early on in his term a pattern of idiocy, of disregarding the international community (even after 9/11!), and of unabashed militarism. They spent the summer of 2002 talking about "march to war, march to war," while stepping up attacks in the no-fly zone and building new bases (thanks, Brown & Root!) all over the middle east to accomodate the troops that they knew, well before October, would be taking out Saddam.

Know what really gets me about Clark's position? He knew since the morning of September 11 that the administration wanted to go after Iraq. Whether or not the phone call he got that day was from the White House, it still should have been obvious--like, written across the sky in big letters obvious--that there was no stopping the march to war in Iraq.

No stopping it, that is, except for Congress. Yet, they voted to give that lighter to that arsonist. Now, who do we blame for starting the fire?

I tried to find a way to work this in above, but Matt Langer over at Untelevised has a good take on this, too. He writes, in part, "the moderate Democratic support of multilateral invasion is easily pidgeonholed into the position of tacitly endorsing the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive strike, perhaps the most horrific result of the post-Sept 11 world. The natural defense to this accusation would be to bring up the continued Iraqi violation of a handful of UN resolutions, but this doesn't explain the pressing imminence that the situation in Iraq developed seemingly overnight. And regardless of the aforesaid resolutions, any invasion of Iraq - even a UN-sanctioned one - that was not in response to an aggressive action would have been inherently unjust and a gross violation of international sovereignty."

You go, Matt.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

The Scandal (and more)

OPEN SOURCE POLITICS has exploded in readership this week. These entries have become must reads for the informed:

Robert Novak is a coward, The CIA's Patriotic Math, A Matter of Trust, I Have A Little List ... are all about The Valerie Plame Affair.

There's also the Ben Franklin True Patriot Act Action Alert, Pie In the Sky, The Politics of Power Barry's two-parter, Asbestos Legislation #1 and #2, and the Florida Political Breakdown. Plus, part two of my series on NCLB!

It's all good.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

I'm neglecting you, gentle readers . . .

. . . so go feed the bat instead.

At the current rate of an average $62.57 contribution, it will take just shy of 80,000 individual contributions to reach the $5 million goal. Given that, as I write this, there have already been over 5000 donors, that means each of my faithful readers need contribute only about 25,000 times.

Oh, what do I think about Wes Clark, you may ask?

Meh. I'm unimpressed so far.

See me on Open Source Politics. My No Child Left Untested series starts sometime this week.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Miscellaneous = Mousse in a Cell
Just a few short bits today

So I'm writing for this Open Source Politics e-zine/ metablog/ project thing now, and one of our number has thoughtfully installed some stats tracking things. (I'm not illtechnorate, but some things are beyond me at 8 AM on a Sunday.) The shocking thing? Of the most-used phrases typed into search-engines that found our site, is the third most popular.

I used in this essay about Wisconsin politics, knowing that, after dust-up upon dust-up between Gov. Jim Doyle and the Republican state legislature, there would be a movement afoot to recall him, especially given what's going on in California and what happened last year in Milwaukee County. (The Milwaukee County recalls are discussed in that same essay if you don't know what I'm talking about.)

I guess the idea of is so popular, it's leading people to my essay decrying the idea more than just about anything else that's leading people to Open Source Politics at all. (And really, the top two search phrases are save overtime and save our overtime, which ought to count as one search; they take you to this great piece by C. Brian Lavigne.)

I'm playing tonight (Sunday) at the Coffee House at 7 PM in a benefit show for Rethinking Schools, a great progressive-minded education reform outfit. Doors open at 6:30; a free-will donation is requested at the door. I'm probably playing first, with another teacher playing after me.

If you're not in Milwaukee to see me tonight, be sure to check out "K Street," the new HBO series which is airing at 9:30 central, featuring James Carville and Paul Begala. Tonight's guest is Howard Dean, and they're airing the real-live debate prep they did for him before Tuesday night's Congressional Black Caucus debate. C & B claim to have given Dean several lines for the debate, though in promoting the show they didn't say which lines. But my money's on the Trent Lott/ Martin Luther King line. I like Dean, but I could tell when he siad it that he didn't write it.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Of Straw Men and Paper Moons

It's only a paper moon
Sailing over a cardboard sea . . .

The Bush administration, to me, has always seemed plasticky, fake. And I'm not just talking about the way Bush took office; the whole thing has an eerie staged look to it, from the press events to Bush's phony Texas-by-way-of-Maine-and-New Haven accent. I don't need to mention the USS Abraham Lincoln, do I?

The impression of Bush on the campaign trial in 2000 was just as carefully crafted--it was an act, in fact, designed to give the impression that he was folksy and frugal. The Washington Post wrote that "Bush made his maiden voyage to Iowa and New Hampshire with a single paid advance man leading the way. Gore's traveling entourage included about 32 advance staff, half a dozen White House aides, his pollster, speech coach and media adviser." (Of course, Somerby was all over that one: "But somehow, in two full days of reporting, the writers never provided the actual data: the Gore campaign had spent $8.1 million, compared to $7.2 million for Bush. Was it true, that Gore had 'spent far more?'" I do love Somerby!)

But since his ascendancy to the Oval Office, Bush has grown progressively more theatrical:
[O]n the one year anniversary of September 11th President Bush gave a speech on Ellis Island and the White House had gone so far as to rent three sets of Musco Lights which they set down on a barge across New York harbor and tethered in the water around the base of Liberty Island and then sort of blasted them upward and lit up the Statue of Liberty in a huge, fabulous way so it could be seen on television. [. . .] There is a new guy who's head of the presidential advance team. Presidential advance is the group of people that sets up all the presidential events 2, 3, 4 or 5 days ahead of time. He was a producer for Fox News.
It all stinks: "I want you to like me," he says. "I want you to think I'm a good, regular guy." But it's also very transparent. Remember the speech in Indiana when the Republican officials behind the president had to remove their ties to look more like "normal" people?

Lately I keep thinking of Wag the Dog, you know, and of course, I'm not the only one. The funny thing is that in many ways, the war is not the overproduced sideshow, but the presidency itself.

That's not to say there aren't distractions. And Saddam Hussein is this president's straw man.

Yes, it's only a canvas sky,
Hanging over a muslin tree . . .

Now, I thought I knew what a straw man was, and then I actually looked it up. (I also do love the Wikipedia!) Turns out the straw man was originally in rodeos, if you can believe that. A man-shaped thingie stuffed with straw was there in the ring, the hope was, to draw the bull's attention long enough to let thrown bull riders get to safety.

Well, my friends, George W. Bush is the thrown bull rider. We are the bull.

Before September 11, 2001, the most challenging thing that Bush had ever faced was the stem cell research decision. I still remember his squished-up-in-thought forehead, trying to show he was serious, as he spoke from the movie set that is his ranch in Crawford. It seemed like this presidency would just be a statistical bump, an aberration that, as slickly produced and vapid as any summer blockbuster, would be forgotten soon after it left the White House--er, theater (sometimes I get lost in my metaphors). In fact, apart for some abdication of responsibility in North Korea and a general air of idiocy, I had found very little overall in his administration to object to, until that Tuesday morning.

It was there and then that the United States woke up to two things: First, we were not unassailable. Second, this president was never really riding the bull. It's been well documented how Bush was off the bull as the attacks were happening that morning, and everyone agrees that Rudy Giuliani was the only one really acting presidential.

But worse than that, since the release of the results of the congressional investigation into the terrorist attacks, we know that the bull had tossed Bush's phony cowboy self long before: The administration ignored repeated warnings describing al Qaeda activity and warning of attacks using hijacked airplanes.

The administration wisely tried getting back on the bull. As soon as it became clear that bin Laden and his group were behind the attacks, they went into Afghanistan after them. Trouble is, Bush couldn't stay on the bull for very long--bin Laden disappeared and Afghanistan slowly sank back into the swamp.

Lucky for Bush, the Office of Special Plans (great parody here) was on top of it, digging out the old stand-by straw man, Saddam Hussein. From jump street--basically, the afternoon of September 11--plans were rolling to tie the new war on "terra" to Iraq, and the neo-conservatives could start playing out their imperialist American fantasy.

So when, right on schedule, Bush's poll numbers got too low and the public started to forget about Afghanistan, we started hearing--how did he put it?--"March to war, march to war, march to war" with Iraq, to distract us from the fact that Bush was off the bull again.

In fact, if Saddam Hussein had not already been there, they would have had to invent him. We may be on the verge of seeing it now; since Saddam himself is MIA and Iraq is quickly becoming the worst quagmire since Viet Nam, I imagine that somewhere in the bowels of some agency there's a cabal of neo-cons desperately stuffing straw into a turban.

It's a Barnum and Bailey world,
Just as phony as it can be . . .

So then came Bush's address to the nation last Sunday. It bore none of the high production values we have come to expect from this spectacle of an administration. The only thing shocking about it was the Really Big Number.

But it did hold some telling moments: Bush is asking for our patience. "This will take time and require sacrifice," he says. We can't give up now, he says, for "[t]errorists in Iraq have attacked representatives of the civilized world, and opposing them must be the cause of the civilized world." Basically, he wants us to keep the faith. He wants us to believe in him.

It reminds me of the stories about Donald Rumsfeld a few months back, and his forbidding criticism of the US occupation. One columnist opined, "Questioning the president only makes our enemies stronger. Or as Tinkerbell would say, 'Every time you say you don't believe in the president, a U.S. soldier dies.'"

How does that song end? Oh yeah:

But it wouldn't be make believe,
If you believed in me!

Ella could make it work. But from this administration, it just sounds kind of desperate, doesn't it?

Monday, September 08, 2003

Do you think he and Zappa are jamming yet?

The thing that burns me up most about it is that Warren Zevon will be best remembered for "Werewolves of London." Not an awful song, sure, but as far as legacies go, not the one I would have chosen. RIP, New Von Razer.

Sorry about the sporadicity of posting here lately; it's not (entirely) because I don't love you any more. I do have some good things posted (and more coming) up at Open Source Politics, and, of course, I've spent too much time lately belaboring the obvious over on the Daily Kos boards. Mostly, though, it's just that the opening to this school year has been the toughest in my career so far. The thing what pays the bills gets the most attention.

Somebody found me today by Googling anagram howard dean. Well, for the curious: Howard Dean = Head Onward.

Didn't even need Andy for that.

Saturday, September 06, 2003

A Dependent Woke Her
or, Weekend Open Thread

Talk amongst yourselves. Suggested topic this week: Where were you on September 11, 2001?

And don't forget to check Open Source Politics all this week for remembrances of the anniversary, and news about what's happened (and not) since.

Props to Andy's Anagram Solver for this post's title.

dye job patsy # 5:41 PM

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Math is Hard Redux

Spears: "I think we should just trust our president in every decision that he makes and we should just support that."

I like my shirts roomy

Turns out that I share a birthday with Damon Wayans, Beyonce Knowles, Paul Harvey, Richard Wright, Pink, and Mitzi Gaynor.

On this day in history, Romulus Augustus, the last emperor of the Western Roman Empire, was deposed by Odoacer, a German barbarian who proclaimed himself king of Italy in 476; Los Angeles was founded in 1781; Geronimo was captured in 1886; Pancho Gonzales and Ted Schroeder played 67 games in five sets in the longest tennis game ever in 1949; the Edsel was introduced in 1957; The Beatles recorded "Love Me Do" at Abbey Road studios in 1962; Albert Schweitzer died in 1965; both "Gilligan's Island" (1967) and "Lawrence Welk" (1971) had their last network airings; and Mark Spitz won his seventh gold medal in 1972.

If you want to give, click on the "Boot Bush" button to the right. I would be so happy this time next year to be on the verge of kicking him out.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Open Source Politics

So a couple of months ago, I was given the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a project that would bring an unprecedented number of left-wingish bloggers together with the singular focus of spreading the good word and helping restore this country to some semblance of balance, order, democracy, and, most of all, hope.

After much back-and-forthing on a name and a format and a mission statement, we finally settled on Open Source Politics. I'd like to think our mission is fairly inherent in our name, but if it's not clear, see my opening paragraph here. We're out to tell a story, to weave a dialogue that creates an awareness of new issues and provides fresh insight to old ones. I am honored to be in the distinguished company of such luminaries as have joined this project. I will not try to list them all--there are over 40 of us, and the list is ever-changing--but among them are some of the real lights of the blogging left.

We are live today. It's starting slowly, but soon you can expect to find a dozen posts a day from some of the sharpest minds on the left side of the blogosphere in all different categories. Please don't worry about some of the clearly "to be built" aspects of the site yet; they are coming. Better hands than mine have been hard at work making sure that this thing both sings and looks pretty.

I predict that within a month, like Atrios or Daily Kos, we will be one of the few daily must-reads for the left. However, you can start now.

What does this mean for your humble Folkbum's own blog? Little, I think; I may occasionally post a teaser for what I have over at, but I will keep this site moving ahead with humor, other pieces not meant for, and my shameless shilling for Howard Dean. (I do need to try to stay objective on the new site!)

Sunday, August 31, 2003

Making the Shareholders Happy

This blog is listed on BlogShares, which is kind of like the stock market for blogs. My market share, by the way? 0.0008%. Woo. Hoo.

But I want to give a brief shout-out to my investors:
  • Kenn from Cogicophony

  • Melissa from the Blue Bus

  • Kos from the Daily Kos

  • One of these days I will hold a shareholders' meeting, like in the movies, up in the windowed corporate offices of Folkbum's Rambles and Rants. If you want to make sure you're invited to the party, go buy some shares. I just offered up an additional 1000 shares for y'all to fight over!

    And, watch this space for more info tomorrow, when a new project OPENs that will be a great SOURCE for all of your questions about POLITICS, as well as health, the environment, the arts, the international scene, and lots more. Since we're not live until tomorrow, I can't give away anything about what we might be called or our URL. Sorry . . .

    Friday, August 29, 2003

    A slow news week. Well, on my blog, anyway.

    So I give you something fun instead:

    Folkbum's Rules for Writing
    (I am an English teacher, you know)

    1. Verbs HAS to agree with their subjects.
    2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
    3. And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.
    4. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
    5. Avoid cliches like the plague. (They're old hat.)
    6. Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.
    7. Be more or less specific.
    8. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually) unnecessary.
    9. Also too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
    10. No sentence fragments.
    11. Contractions aren't necessary and shouldn't be used.
    12. Foreign words, phrases, and bon mots are not apropos.
    13. Do not be redundant; do not use more words than necessary; it's highly superfluous.
    14. One should NEVER generalize.
    15. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
    16. Don't use no double negatives.
    17. Eschew obfuscation.
    18. Avoid ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
    19. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
    20. Analogies in writing are like fur on a snake.
    21. The passive voice is to be avoided.
    22. Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary. Parenthetical words however should be enclosed in commas.
    23. Never use a big word when a diminutive one would suffice.
    24. Kill all exclamation points!!!
    25. Use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
    26. Understatement is always the absolute best way to put forth earth-shaking ideas.
    27. Use the apostrophe in it's proper place and omit it when its not needed.
    28. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."
    29. If you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times: Resist hyperbole; not one writer in a million can use it correctly.
    30. Puns are for children, not groan readers.
    31. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
    32. Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
    33. Who needs rhetorical questions?
    34. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
    35. Use quotation marks only when you “really” need them.

    (Some of these were cribbed from long-lost sources; apologies if they're yours)

    Tuesday, August 26, 2003

    The REALLY Big Time
    And I ain't talking Dick Cheney, neither

    So at first I was on Democratic Underground. Then I was on Daily Kos. But this is the real Big Time: USA Today!
    "I consider myself a Howard-powered person," says [Folkbum], 28, coordinator of Milwaukee For Dean, playing off Dean's "people-powered Howard" slogan. Other candidates ask for people's votes, the high school English teacher says, but only Dean has sought their leadership skills and feedback. The result is a surge of involvement by newcomers, and a pledge from Dean to bring 3 million new voters into the process.

    Saturday, August 23, 2003

    Another Open Thread

    Stuff's just too crazy this weekend. Howard Dean will be here tonight as part of the Sleepless Summer tour; Darryl Purpose is playing a house concert at my house on Monday; my first real day of school is Thursday; and next Monday--Labor Day--comes the launch of a new, top-secret multi-blogger project (more details then). Plus then comes my birthday soon after (hint: I like my shirts roomy).

    In other words, posting will be light over the next two weeks. So can I count on you to entertain yourselves for a little while? Thanks. If you need a suggested topic, how about this: How has No Child Left Behind affected your local schools? I get visitors from all over the place, and I'd be interested in hearing what's going on in your town. Provide links to sources, too, if you could.

    Thursday, August 21, 2003

    In case you couldn't tell

    You are a Folkie. Good for you.

    What kind of Sixties Person are you?
    brought to you by Quizilla
    (Via Poison Kitchen.)

    Righteous Anger

    Every once in a while, I come across a particularly moving piece elsewhere on the net that I have to share. Sometimes I merely link to it; today's essay is reproduced in its entirety, as the author, mccbill, does not have a blog of his own. It's based on this NPR report.
    I have long held the belief that the war in Iraq was unjust and wrong. We were lied to time and again by this administration and the reason for the lies is that the truth is too weak and self serving for the US public to agree with. I knew that hundreds of our soldiers would die and will continue to die, and I knew that thousands of Iraqis would die, all the while our unjustified military action would make us less safe at home and elsewhere in the world.

    Well, this morning those thousands of dead Iraqis have a face: Helma Al-Saadi.

    You may or may not remember her as the German born wife of Amer Al-Saadi. Amer was the top science and weapons advisor to Iraq who voluntarily surrendered to US forces on April 12th. He was the first of the US's "55 Most Wanted" list to be captured because he walked up to some soldiers in Baghdad with his change of clothes and turned himself in.

    He wasn't a Baathist and hadn't been involved in Iraq government for years before he was tapped to be a liason for the Iraq to the UN weapons inspectors that were readmitted to the country last year. He wasn't a fan of Saddam but was fairly well respected for his scientific brilliance, integrity, and concern for his country.

    He was schooled in London over 30 years ago and was there that he met his German wife, Helma. They met, fell in love, and married. She returned with him to Iraq after schooling and they began a family. When Saddam came to power they contemplated defecting, but he was tapped as a valuable Iraqi science resource and not allowed to leave the country before they could make their move. He was so concerned for his family however, that he begged his wife to take their children and leave so that they would be safe.

    His wife eventually complied and left the country for 20 years, only seeing her husband once or twice a year and limited to lengthy phone conversations. Their love for each other did not diminish, and once their children were raised she returned to Iraq to be with her husband. By this time, Amer had wormed his way out of government, having walked a fine line between standing up for his beliefs by not caving into pressure to join the Baath party, and following orders in development of rocket and artillery technology for Iraq.

    He was free, but observed for several years before being reactivated to interface with the UN and convince them that Iraq had destroyed all of their banned weapons. When Baghdad fell, he waited until the streets were clear before giving an interview to a German public television station and then turning himself in. His wife wanted to go with him but he bade her to stay home. He took a change of clothes and some books to read and assured her that he would be home in anywhere from three hours to no more than three days. When they kissed across from the US controlled Republic Palace it was the last time she would ever see her husband.

    This Chief Science Advisor to Saddam Hussein gave himself up and told the US and the German media that Iraq had no banned weapons and no active nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons programs. He told them that Iraq had destroyed them in the mid 90's. He told them what they didn't want to hear.

    Helm Al-Saadi had only received two letters from her husband in over four months since April 12th. Those letters were limited to a maximum of one page each. She had plead to the consul and US authorities to have her husband who had cooperated fully released and yet nothing had happened. She tried international and media channels and yet nothing had happened.

    On Tuesday, August 19th, Helma Al-Saadi had taken her case to the UN. At 4:25pm she was near the office of the UN appointed official in Iraq. At 4:30pm a bomb exploded under his window killing 20+ people. Helma apparently was one of those people.

    Damn you George W. Bush. You are an awful president, a horrible tyrant of a democratic country, and an evil person. Damn you to hell.

    Wednesday, August 20, 2003

    Why do Republicans Hate America?

    Ask your Republican friends (if you have any left) that question. All the time. And if they say, "Republicans don't hate America," pause for a moment to beg to differ.

    Offer as proof the fact that the very thing that has made this country great--our Constitution--is being ignored at will by Republicans. They seem to feel that the safeguards and protections Our Founding Fathers are meaningless. There is no clearer proof of this than the electoral shenanigans going on all over the country as we speak.

    Exhibit A: Redistricting. It's happening most famously in Texas, of course, but efforts at redistricting to tighten Republican control of the US House of Representatives is going on Colorado, Georgia, and now in my former homeland of Ohio.

    Texas redictricting is being done under the thumb of Tom DeLay, who can't seem to fathom why districts in his home state that are already Republican-rich keep electing Democrats. Could it be because that's what the voters want? And in Ohio, the Republicans controlled the redistricting process after the 2000 census. And now they want a do-over, because they see that other states are getting away with it!

    Exhibit B: Recalls. Again, California is getting all the attention, but it is hardly alone. Seeing how easy it is to recall a duly-elected Democrat, Republicans elsewhere now feel up to that challenge. Take my home state of Wisconsin, for example. A couple years back, we had a big dust-up here in Milwaukee that led to the recall of quite a few Milwaukee County Supervisors. The Republican-fronted group that spearheaded the recalls of (technically non-partisan but clearly) Democratic supervisors, "Citizens for Responsible Government", is now gearing up to recall a dozen or more Democratic state legislators for doing their jobs well.

    And, to top it off, there's also a "Recall Jim Doyle" campaign, aimed at the Democratic governor. I wouldn't be surprised if soon the Republican-controlled legislature starts contemplating redistricting, too.

    These exhibits, of course, are simply an outgrowth of the success Republicans had in Florida in 2000. There are serious fears that an even worse electoral disaster is coming with the voting machines being produced by Republican-owned companies, whose security is suspect and whose software is proprietary and, therefore, not open to scrutiny.

    The Republicans seem hell-bent on making this country into a one-party state. You might even call it a kleptocracy. This is truly scary when you consider how absolutely horrible Republican stewardship has been of late, both at the national and state level.

    I want my country back, people. I want it back from those who hate America.