Archive for January, 2008

Just why did John Edwards drop out of the race yesterday?

January 31, 2008

Yesterday, I wrote about John McCain and the site On the Issues, which offers information on the site for any presidential candidate still in the race or otherwise. And speaking otherwise, why did John Edwards drop out January 30? Could it have anything to do with the virtual shutdown of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) over the nomination of Hans von Spakovsky which I wrote about on January 9?

Today the FEC issued a news release on its proposed rules for operations without a quorum, published in yesterday’s Federal Register. Essentially the FEC will be able to do little more than offer advisory opinions. And, as reported by the Washington Post’s Matthew Mosk on
December 22,

When it comes to federal matching funds, Democrat John Edwards has the most to lose. The FEC certified the payment of the first installment of funds this week, including $8.8 million for Edwards. But matching payments for money he has raised this month, or will receive in subsequent months, may have to wait until the FEC has four members.

As I commented on Mother Jones blog in response to “Jonus” who thought Edward’s departure was “good riddance to bad baggage, ” there have been what I regard as too many Republican/Clinton/Obama talking points criticizing Edwards. For an example of the latter, see “Dropping Oppo.”

Nobody questioned Bobby Kennedy’s advocacy for the disenfranchised on the grounds that he had money. Or is it just okay if your wealth is inherited? Unlike Clarence Thomas who distances himself from his modest beginnings, Edwards has embraced a fight against corporate greed. While the Washington Post exposed Edwards worked on a hedge fund from October to December 2005 and the money he received money from this sector, it also noted the contributions of this sector to Clinton, Obama, Dodd and others.

The MSM shut out coverage, not only of Edwards, but Dodd, Biden, Richardson, Kucinich and Gravel. What I want to know, and haven’t seen covered in the MSM, is why did organized labor split its support? And what happened to the “I’ll be in all fifty states” promise of John Edwards after NH? Why not stay until Super Tuesday, much less for the whole race? The same goes for Richardson, who might have run stronger in the vote-rich West. Were both men tired of not coming in first? Of hearing how they’re perennial losers?

Richardson dropped out the day after NH with money problems, but Edwards kept competing and said he had enough to make it through the race. As late as five days before he dropped out he sent out a news release saying,

As a sign of John Edwards’ growing grassroots support across the country, today the Edwards campaign announced that it has raised more than $3 million online during the first 25 days of the quarter – more than it raised during the whole 4th quarter of last year. Just yesterday, the campaign had one of its best fundraising days, taking in more than $230,000 in contributions. The vast majority of online contributions will be doubled by federal matching funds.

And just the day before his withdrawal, he was critiquing the economic stimulus package.

“States like Missouri need immediate help – or we could see devastating cuts to education, health care and other basic services, along with increases in property taxes,” Edwards said. “Providing this assistance to states will not only protect our schools and our most vulnerable citizens, but represents an important and critical step to avoid a recession.”

On December 22 – long before Congress, the President, or any other candidate – John Edwards warned about the prospect of a looming recession and proposed an economic stimulus plan that includes extended unemployment benefits, investments in the renewable energy industry to create jobs within 90 days, a Home Rescue Fund to help families avoid foreclosure, and immediate federal financial assistance to states.

Today, Edwards emphasized the need to increase the federal contribution to Medicaid and provide additional aid to states, helping them avoid cuts to education, health care and other basic services and avoid increases in property and other taxes that disproportionately impact working families and seniors on fixed incomes. Under Edwards’ plan, Missouri would receive up to $375 million in direct aid to help avert those cuts and stimulate the state’s economy.

With Congress considering the Bush stimulus plan this week, Edwards called on members of Congress to act quickly to provide this important relief to states.

One has to wonder if his announcement means he heeded the pundits of that same media who failed to provide a level playing field, when they said over and over that it was time for him to drop out. We may never know for sure and the speculation will soon give way back to the horse race and the scrapping and name calling between the anointed front runners.

What I fear is that the Democrats will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, enabling a McCain or Romney win in November. No, no candidate is without flaws, but for those who say there was no difference between the parties, between Gore and Bush during the 2000 race, I say: the Patriot Act, the elimination of habeas corpus, offers of telecom immunity, Iraq, tax cuts for the rich, weakening of environmental laws, the SCHIP veto, the threatened veto on the union card-check law, Roberts and Alito. And the list could go on.

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So where does McCain stand on the issues?

January 30, 2008


Photo by Reuters’s Carlos Barria (Reuters archive, other work) shows Republican presidential candidate John McCain (R-AZ) with Mel Martinez (R-FL) on stage as, Joe Lieberman (I-CT) addresses a town hall meeting at the Savannah Center in Lady Lake, Florida on 1/27/08.

With news that McCain’s candidacy is off life-support with wins in NH, SC and FL, and his attractiveness to some independents (v.s his status as an anathema for some conservative Republicans), I reckoned it was time to look at where he stands on the issues. For this, I turned to (doh) On the Issues, which provides non-partisan information based on newspapers, speeches, press releases, and the Internet.

For instance on abortion from Meet the Press:

Q: In 1999, you said, “In the short term, or even the long term, I would not support repeal of Roe vs. Wade, which would then force X number of women in American to undergo illegal and dangerous operations.”

A: That was in the context of conversation about having to change the culture of America as regards to this issue. I have stated time after time after time that Roe v. Wade was a bad decision, that I support the rights of the unborn.

Q: If Roe v. Wade was overturned during a McCain presidency, and individual states chose to ban abortion, would you be concerned that, as you said, X number of women in America would undergo illegal and dangerous operations?

A: No, I would hope that X women in America would bring those children into life in this world, and that I could do whatever I could to assist them. Again, that conversation from 1999, so often quoted, was in the context of my concerns about changing the culture in America to understand the importance of the rights of the unborn.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series May 13, 2007

On foreign policy, McCain appears to be every bit as much of an interventionist as George Bush. On Cuba, he’d maintain the embargo and indict the Castro brothers (thus appealing to the conservative Cuban American émigré community in Miami?)

Q: Cuban dictatorship has survived nine U.S. presidents. What would you do differently, that has not been done so far, to bring democracy to Cuba?

A: Of course we need to keep our embargo up. Of course we cannot allow economic aid to flow to Cuba. And if I were president of the United States, I would order an investigation of the shoot-down of those brave Cubans who were killed under the orders of Raul and Fidel Castro, and, if necessary, indict them.

Source: 2007 Republican primary debate on Univision Dec 9, 2007
And while George Bush was promoting humility in foreign policy in the October 11, 2000 presidential debate, saying,

If we’re an arrogant nation, they’ll resent us; if we’re a humble nation, but strong, they’ll welcome us.

McCain, had, in addition to advocated for the toppling of Saddam (and his willingness, now, to stay in Iraq virtually forever), favored “rogue state rollback” for Libya and North Korea:

Q: What area of international policy would you change immediately?
A: Our policies concerning rogue states: Iraq, Libya, North Korea-those countries that continue to try to acquire weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them. I’d institute a policy that I call “rogue state rollback.” I would arm, train, equip, both from without and from within, forces that would eventually overthrow the governments and install free and democratically elected governments. Source: GOP Debate on the Larry King Show Feb 15, 2000

Here are the all the categories available, all with quotes and sources on McCain:

International Domestic Economic Social
Foreign Policy Gun Control Budget & Economy Education
Homeland Security Crime Government Reform Health Care
War & Peace Drugs Tax Reform Abortion
Free Trade Civil Rights Social Security Families & Children
Immigration Jobs Welfare & Poverty Corporations
Energy & Oil Environment Technology Principles & Values

UPDATE: 1/31/07, David Corn has an interesting piece in the Mother Jones blog about McCain and Romney’s attempts to take on Reagan’s mantle, “At GOP Debate, McCain and Romney Bicker Over Whom Reagan Would Love More.”

Biofuels: Poultry, Germs and Algae

January 29, 2008


Graphic (artist uncredited) from Scott Harper’s 9/2/07 story in the Virginian -Pilot, “Next in biofuels: Poultry power.”

My correspondent via John Dufresne, Joe from Cheese, TX, alerted me Sunday to Elizabeth Svoboda’s (website, email) piece in the February 2008 Fastcompany.com, “Fueling The Future: The oil well of tomorrow may be in a California lab full of genetically modified, diesel-spewing bacteria.” (Issue 122, page 45), via a blog post by Scott Streater (email), the (Fort Worth) Star-Telegram’s environmental reporter.

According to Svoboda, the fuel produced by the San Carlos, California company LS9’s

microbes is virtually pump-ready — requiring only a simple cleaning step to filter out impurities — making bacteria fuel uses 65 percent less energy than making ethanol, which needs extensive chemical processing that drives up its price and damages its good-for-the-planet cred… [and] LS9’s finished product also has 50 percent more energy content — a gallon of bacteria fuel would last your car about 50 percent longer than a gallon of ethanol.

Closer to home, Virginia Tech, here in Blacksburg, is experimenting with poultry poop, according to the Virginian Pilot (see link accompanying the illustration at the top of this entry.) And then there’s algae at Old Dominion University.

The library’s closing, so I’ll wrap this up, but until I get back, check out this archive of articles on Virginia’s biofuels and more at the Virginia Coastal Energy Consortium.

The Pain Will Be For Ever

January 28, 2008

Link

Mr. Zuker’s page
on Poesia Diaria (Everyday Poems). The site features newspaper remembrances of the disappeared, some with translations.

Enter the exhibit and then click on:

The public is invited to see, read, and participate
in translating these fragments of stolen love.

More tomorrow. The library is closing….

The Personal Well-Tempered Environment

January 27, 2008


Sketch from Dan Hill’s post, The Personal Well-Tempered Environment

Something hit me very hard once, thinking about what one little man could do. Think of the Queen Mary — the whole ship goes by and then comes the rudder. And there’s a tiny thing at the edge of the rudder called a trimtab.

It’s a miniature rudder. Just moving the little trim tab builds a low pressure that pulls the rudder around. Takes almost no effort at all. So I said that the little individual can be a trimtab. Society thinks it’s going right by you, that it’s left you altogether. But if you’re doing dynamic things mentally, the fact is that you can just put your foot out like that and the whole big ship of state is going to go.

So I said, call me Trimtab.

— R. Buckminster Fuller, Barry Farrell (Playboy Interview, Feb 1972)

*
I once heard Bucky Fuller speak at William and Mary around the same date as that interview. He was talking about how architecture should start with the idea of its relationship to the human scale. Such a different idea from those who set out to build monuments. I found myself in awe of his genius at encapsulating complicated ideas in simple metaphors.

Check out how Dan Hill uses the trimtab metaphor at his blog, City of Sound in a January 15 post as named above, in which he outlines his idea that feedback from devices monitoring real-time usage of electricity, gas, water and so forth could encourage conservation with

maximum information coming from a minimum of conscious engagement.

Hill cites research by the Design Council, published in its report, “Designing for a Future Climate” that

studies show that if people can see what they’re using, they use up to 15% less energy.

The post is filled with illustrations and links to other sources both philosophical and practical.

*

The Trimtab was the name for the Buckminster Fuller Insitute‘s newsletter, which has archives available online through 2005. Also on the site is the new of a play which opened January 17 and runs through February 10 opens at Rubicon Theatre in Ventura, CA–R. Buckminster Fuller: The History (and Mystery) of the Universe.

Star Women Build Portable Skills

January 26, 2008

Graphic (artist not credited by source) for Vilma Patil’s “Striving to Break Through the Glass Ceiling…” in the October 14, 2001 Tribune (Chandigarh, India).

In “How Star Women Build Portable Skills” in the February 2008 issue of the Harvard Business Review, Boris Groysberg (website, email) an Assistant Professor at Harvard Business School, looks back at his prior research that “star performers” fade when they move to new companies. In that research, published in the May 2004 Review, “The Risky Business of Hiring Stars” (authored with Ashish Nanda and Nitin Nohria) he found that companies are usually better off “growing stars than buying them.”

Now though, he has further analyzed his data and found that the trend is more true for men than for women. That’s because women were more likely to have:

  • built their success on relationships with clients and companies as opposed to relying on on internal networks (the good ol’ boys?)
  • considered more factors in assessing prospective employers as opposed to emphasizing compensation.

But here’s the weird thing. Wendy Pollack (email) at the Wall Street Journal blog, The Informed Reader, posted yesterday about the study:

The female analysts’ more successful transitions might be partly inadvertent — the women could have felt compelled to build external relationships because they had more difficulty than their male colleagues securing in-house mentors. Sexist attitudes could force them to work harder to protect their portability within the industry. And women generally look for organizations “that will welcome them as individuals,” raising the odds that they will be successful at the new firm.

I’m leaving Ms. Pollack a comment at the entry inviting her to respond:

Men, when they succeed are termed “strategic.” I was struck by the fact that you refer to the success of “star” women (such as yourself, I’d add) as “partly inadvertent.”

more later…I’m off to the contra dance

Star Women Build Portable Skills

January 26, 2008

Graphic (artist not credited by source) for Vilma Patil’s “Striving to Break Through the Glass Ceiling…” in the October 14, 2001 Tribune (Chandigarh, India).

In “How Star Women Build Portable Skills” in the February 2008 issue of the Harvard Business Review, Boris Groysberg (website, email) an Assistant Professor at Harvard Business School, looks back at his prior research that “star performers” fade when they move to new companies. In that research, published in the May 2004 Review, “The Risky Business of Hiring Stars” (authored with Ashish Nanda and Nitin Nohria) he found that companies are usually better off “growing stars than buying them.”

Now though, he has further analyzed his data and found that the trend is more true for men than for women. That’s because women were more likely to have:

  • built their success on relationships with clients and companies as opposed to relying on on internal networks (the good ol’ boys?)
  • considered more factors in assessing prospective employers as opposed to emphasizing compensation.

But here’s the weird thing. Wendy Pollack (email) at the Wall Street Journal blog, The Informed Reader, posted yesterday

The female analysts’ more successful transitions might be partly inadvertent — the women could have felt compelled to build external relationships because they had more difficulty than their male colleagues securing in-house mentors. Sexist attitudes could force them to work harder to protect their portability within the industry. And women generally look for organizations “that will welcome them as individuals,” raising the odds that they will be successful at the new firm.

And this from a “star woman” in her field of journalism? I’m leaving Ms. Pollack a comment at the entry asking, why when men succeed they’re “strategic” and yet women are “partly inadvertent.”

more in just a bit….

The Sad Death of Daniel Sun Kim

January 25, 2008

There was another student lost to the Virginia Tech shootings last April 16, not on the day itself because, as with the case of Cecil Ison, the cause was PTSD. Unlike Ison, Kim took his life. On December 9, he was found in his car, a gunshot wound to the head. You probably didn’t hear this story and there’s no Hokie stone dedicated in his memory. Perhaps there should be…

I’ll be posting this later, as the library is closing.

i’ll be post

o

The Sad Death of Daniel Sun Kim

January 25, 2008

There was another student lost to the Virginia Tech shootings last April 16, not on the day itself because, as with the case of Cecil Ison, the cause was PTSD. Unlike Ison, Kim took his life. On December 9, he was found in his car, a gunshot wound to the head. You probably didn’t hear this story and there’s no Hokie stone dedicated in his memory. Perhaps there should be…

I’ll be posting this later, as the library is closing.

i’ll be post

o

Split This rock Poetry Festival Coming March 20-23

January 24, 2008


Today I was working on a program description for a poetry reading I’m organizing for Women’s month and that got me over to the site for the Split This Rock Poetry Festival in DC, March 20-23 at a variety of venues in the U Street Neighborhood and at George Washington University in Foggy Bottom. The grand finale will feature a march to, and reading in front of, the White House.

Just think, four days of readings–and we’re talking about folks like Robert Bly, Grace Cavalieri, Lucille Clifton, Mark Doty, Martín Espada, Carolyn Forché, Galway Kinnell, Ethelbert Miller, Naomi Shihab Nye, Sharon Olds, Alicia Ostriker, and Sonia Sanchez, among the folks I’ve already read and heard read their work. I’m looking forward to discovering others to admire on the list of featured readers.

Besides the readings, there will be workshops, panels, film, walking tours, activism. The whole shebang is only $75, if you register before March 10. If you procrastinate and miss that deadline, you only need toss in an additional sawbuck.

The goals of the festival are two:

  • To celebrate the poetry of witness and provocation being written, published, and performed in the United States today; and
  • To call poets to a greater role in public life and to equip them with the tools they need to be effective advocates in their communities and in the nation.

Those of you who know my poetry and that of the rest of us in the Southern Appalachian Writers Coop know I support both of those goals. Here’s what the founders of the festival have to say about their motivation:

Poets have long played a central role in movements for social change. Today, at a critical juncture in our country’s history, poetry that gives voice to the voiceless, names the unnamable, and speaks directly from the individual and collective conscience is more important than ever. The festival will explore and celebrate the many ways that poetry can act as an agent for change: reaching across differences, considering personal and social responsibility, asserting the centrality of the right to free speech, bearing witness to the diversity and complexity of human experience through language, imagining a better world.

As we head into the fifth year of war in Iraq, our country faces a crisis of imagination. Most Americans agree that we need dramatic change: to end the war, reorder our national priorities to meet human needs, save our planet. How we address these challenges is a question not just for policy makers and strategists. It is a question for all of us. We believe that poets have a unique role to play in social movements as innovators, visionaries, truth tellers, and restorers of language.

*

Check out “Statement by Robert Greenstein: Reported Stimulus Package Would Provide Little Immediate Boost Due to Removal of Most Effective Provisions, 1/24/08” from th eCenter on Budget and Policy Priorities –

…the two most targeted and economically effective measures under consideration — a temporary extension of unemployment benefits and a temporary boost in food stamp benefits — were zeroed out, apparently at the insistence of House Republican leaders…. [Moody’s] Economy.com found that for each dollar spent on extended UI benefits, $1.64 in increased economic activity would be generated. For each dollar in increased food stamp benefits, $1.73 …..

Greenstein supports his judgment with evidence. Citing CBO, Moody’s, Nobel laureate Stiglitz and now-CBO director Orszagin (I’ve put up the links at Newstrust), he argues Congress elevated “ideology over sound economic reasoning,” deleting temporary unemployment insurance and food stamps increases, after Republican leaders argued ” inclusion…would derail the package.”

A lot to consider here, such as how business tax cuts “would cause states to lose at least $4 billion in state revenue, due to linkages between federal and state tax codes.” With no offsets, “many states will have to enact deeper and more painful budget cuts, likely hitting areas from health care and education to aid to local governments [which will]…act as a drag on the economy. ” He suggests that since “the working poor…will spend — rather than save — the largest share of their rebate dollars, the optimal design would be one under which working-poor families do not receive smaller rebates than people at higher income levels do.” His conclusion: “In the bipartisan negotiations over the stimulus package, an appropriate trade would have been to include the sizable (but not especially effective) business tax cuts in return for a rebate that extended to the working poor, but not to drop the unemployment insurance and food stamp provisions. It is unfortunate that those two provisions — the most targeted and effective measures under consideration — were removed, and that states facing deficits will be driven deeper into deficit and thus have to cut services or raise taxes more, rather than being provided some fiscal relief.”

Other reading from today:

  • The Kings English blog
  • “Of FlickR, the Library of Congress and the day Beth played hooky to read up on the Great Depression and the Communist Party” David Rothman over at Teleread riffs on my entry, “Library of Congress on Flicker but CIPA may ban it.”
  • Gnod now has a literature map and my friend John Dufresne is on it. But even more a sign he’s achieved fame is this offer to help you cheat on a term paper or even a dissertation on his work. And I thought he’d arrived when W.W. Norton published his first book, The Way that Water Enters Stone, in 1990. It may have taken another ten years, but
  • Since 2000, our John Dufresne experts have helped students worldwide by providing the most extensive, lowest-priced service for John Dufresne writing and research. Regardless of your deadline, budget, specifications, or academic level, we can provide immediate help for your John Dufresne essay, term paper, book report, research paper, dissertation, or thesis.