Wednesday, January 09, 2008

VIDEO: Does Chris Shays Want To Stay In Iraq 100 More Years?

Chris Shays campaigned in New Hampshire for John "100 more years in Iraq" McCain... while wearing a Peace Corps hat.

read more | digg story

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

MyLeftNutmeg

Seeing as how time has been to scarce to contribute to this blog, let alone the others that I've committed to in the past, I've decided to consolidate all my activity in one place. withoutApurpose is officially dormant and I will focus on blogging over at Connecticut's #1 Progressive Blog, MyLeftNutmeg. It's a great community with several active front-page posters. Please head on over, register, and start participating.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

withoutApurpose: It's BlogCastic

withoutApurpose is officially re-launching as a BlogCast. The last few months have placed tremendous demands on my time, making it extremely difficult to continue my writing. Much of my day is spent in the car traveling between project sites and clients' homes. This gives me lots of time to think about all the things I would like to blog about. When I get home at night two small children fight for my attention and by the time they go to sleep I'm just way too exhausted to write. So, I got new headset mic for my digital audio recorder in order to have something meaningful to show for my hours in the car; well, something beyond the trail of greenhouse gases I've been spewing about the State. And please, no suggestions about purchasing Carbon Credits.

My broadcast debut is planned for Monday, with the first Connecticut Senate Primary debate as the topic.

Also in the works is an Internet radio show that will most likely be broadcast through BlogTalkRadio.com. More details soon. So, thanks for dropping by. Please have a listen to my introductory broadcast and come back soon. In the meantime, "keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars!" Casey Kasem, you're my new hero.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Connecicut for Lieberman supporting Ned Lamont?

The founders of Joe's backup plan - the Connecticut for Lieberman party are nervous. Their web site has an Action Alert urging people to go out and vote for Ned Lamont. If in some strange twist of events, Joe manages to pull off a win in the Democratic Primary, CT for Lieberman has no candidate to run in November. All that effort collecting signatures will be for naught. Worst of all, Joe would have to go another 6 years pretending to be a Democrat.

Please support Connecticut for Lieberman by casting your vote for Ned Lamont. Because it's just not a party without Joe Lieberman.

Monday, June 19, 2006

If You're Not Outraged, You're Not Paying Attention

I've been finding it harder and harder to write political opinion lately. Not because there isn't enough to write about. But because it's all so negative, and I'm just so damned angry. I was having a hard time even understanding my anger, which is the necessary first step before channeling it in a useful direction.

Yesterday I saw a bumper sticker with a message so obvious, it helped clear things up for me.

If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention.

Yes, it's a bit embarassing to have been so inspired by a bumper sticker. Yet it helped me understand my anger. I'm angry at anyone else that isn't angry. Mostly it's about elected officials that aren't outraged by our country's current situation. By regular non-elected folks are to blame as well.

That's right. This is the message we must send to our Senators, Congressmen, Governors, Mayors, and other elected officials. If you're not expressing your outrage, you're not doing your job. Or, to put it another way, if your not shouting from the rafters with a bullhorn, you're part of the problem. And if you're a citizen, with the right to vote and the power to influence, an you just sit back and pay your taxes wiuthout becoming an activist, well you're part of the problem too. The bottom line is that in a mere six years, the Bush/Cheney/Rove clan has caused irrepairable damage to our nation, our world, and our planet.

I doubt anyone here needs to see the evidence again, but let's take a look at the obvious ones; the ones that keep me up at night: They've tossed aside the Constitution by disregarding clear limits on executive authority and treading all over States' rights. They've treated their own citizens like enemies through illegal spying and warrentless searches. They waged a bloody war half way across the world based on blatant lies in order to further a frightening agenda of imperialism and lining the pockets of friends and corporate interests. They've given handouts to corporations and the wealthiest 1% of Americans while making life more difficult for the rest of us. They've operated with such incredible arrogance, that the rest of the world has turned against America. In Iraq, where they said we would be "greeted as liberators" America is now considered by most to be the enemy. And in perhaps the penultimate display of arrogance and Cover Your Ass mentality, they have filled our courts with neo-con justices that prevent due process and checks on authority. I'd go on, but it just gets me more riled up. (Feel free to add more examples in the comments.)

And what have the majority of our elected officials been doing? Not a god damned thing! Actually, they've done worse than nothing. They've been complicit in the Bush/Cheney agenda to destroy what had once made America the envy of the free world. The problem persists beyond any political labels. It's not about Democrats, Republicans, Conservatives, Liberals, Neo-Cons, Theo-cons, or other-Cons. Because memebers of all of these groups are guilty of the same crimes against the electorate. They've forgotten the mission. The founders didn't put it in the Constitution, probably because it just seemed so damned obvious: our elected leaders should adopt a version of medical community credo: "First, do no Harm."

OK, I'm rambling without focus. Focus Neal, focus. Perhaps the issue that most disturbs me can be summed up in a discussion of loyalty. Yes, loyalty is a great virtue and one we should look for when electing leaders. But loyalty to whom? Well, clearly the founders intended loyalty to the electorate. Our leaders should be held soley accountable to those that put them in office. Yet today our leaders have a very confused understanding of loyalty. They put the interests of other elected officials ahead of the citizens. They are more concerned about securing their jobs than they are about doing their jobs. They expend great amounts of effort to protect the interests of corporate lobbyists and wealthy individuals that finance campaigns, at the exclusion and expense of pretty much everyone else.

The Lamont vs. Lieberman campaign has been at the top of my mind lately. This campaign clearly illustrates my point. Lamont is the outraged one - a good guy! Like me, he just can't even begin to comprehend how Senator Lieberman and his cronies in Washington sit back and allow this administration to destroy our nation. Not only that, but when someone like Lamont has the courage (and the finances) to finally call "bullshit," the Liebercrats come to the defense of the criminals at BushCo!

Those that continue to defend Lieberman are perfect examples of misplaced loyalty. Here's a guy that goes on Fox News and mocks other members of his own party. A man that led the charge against Democratic President Bill Clinton. A man that constantly acts as volunteer State's Attorney everytime the Bush Admin. runs afoul. A man that DOES NOT HAVE THE SUPPORT OF THE ELECTORATE IN HIS OWN STATE. Yet every other major Democrat comes out of the woodwork to support him. They see it as a matter of loyalty. Yes, instead of expressing OUTRAGE, which is all Lieberman and those like him deserve, they offer up misguided and confised loyalty. Frankly, there are days I wonder if Lieberman has comprimising photos of every other Democrat in DC. For that's about the only plausable explanation I can think of for the outpouring of support he is receiving. Here in Connecticut we rarely see any regular citizens standing up to support Lieberman. Yet Barak Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Chuck Shumer insist that we should keep him as our Senator. Senators, one word of advice: mind your own fucking business and let us choose our own Senator, thank you. Or, are you frightened that more Ned Lamonts will appear to threaten your jobs in DC too? Well, good. You should be scared. Shape up or ship out.

But this is about more than Lamont vs. Lieberman. That's been going on for a while now, and I've written much about it. It's really about the OUTRAGE felt by me and so many other great Americans right now. Sure, the Liebercrats will call us angry liberals and say that we hate America. That's just because they don't get it and because they're scared. If your friend is a drug adict, and you love him, what do you do? Do you support his habit or stage an intervention? Well, I love America, which is why I say we need to stage an intervention.

So, how do you stage an intervention for a country? Do we send the President to AA? (Hopefully he's already been.) No, it's called VOTING. We use the electoral process to CLEAN HOUSE. And by HOUSE, I mean the House of Representatives, the Senate, the White House (not soon enough), and even our state houses and municipal governments.

Yes, the guilt extends all the way down to the local level. When our Federal Government is stealing money from us in order to fund a $250 million a day debacle in Iraq, and to hand out no-bid contracts to their buddies at Haliburton, every Mayor and Governor should be expressing their outrage. Why aren't they protesting in front of the White House? Why aren't they holding rallies in every town square in America? Our local officials are under the misguided notion that the War in Iraq is not a local issue. Well, time to wake up and smell the rotting corpses. Did any of the soldiers come from your home towns? Did you cut education or law enforcement because Federal Grants didn't come through? Is your state going to fail No Child Left Behind requirements because the Federeal Government passed the law but then didn't bother funding it? Yes, the War, the crooked Adminsitration, and the ineptitness of our leaders (I use that term lightly) in Washington are all local issues.

All of this has big implications for upcoming elections. The Democratic Party is celebrating prematurely. The logic seems to be that the voters will express their OUTRAGE by voting Republicans out of office in November. The point that's being missed is that the OUTRAGE will be directed at incumbents - Republican AND Democrat. Americans are fed up with the status-quo of government and they're going to take it out on everyone. It's not about party lines or liberal vs. conservative. It's like lifting that plastic sheet on the magic slate and trying to draw a new picture better than the last.

The Lamont-Lieberman challenge is a case in point. I'm not saying that every incumbent is going to lose (see Harman vs. Winograd) but few are safe. And to me, this is a good thing. The only way to fix this country is with a Civil War at the ballot box.

So my message to anyone up for election this year: If you're not outraged, you're part of the problem. Either get off your asses and fight for us or we'll find someone that will.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Stuff from People More Talented than Me

From FiredogLake, one of the few blogs I actually make sure to read every day.

"Keepin' it Real" by Jane Hamsher



(Graphic by FXQ)


From Jesus' General on Chuck Schumer encouraging Joe Lieberman to run as an independent.



Thanks to CTBlogger for pointing this one out.

If the Lamont Boat's Rockin - Joe Won't Come Knockin'

The Lamont web site just launched a great new feature - Personal Fundraising pages. This campaign is already running on rocket fuel. With some more cash and committed supporters, we can really Pimp Ned's Ride.

Yes, I know, Ned Lamont is a gazillionaire. But he's our gazillionaire and needs our support. The more individuals that contribute, the more momentum we build. Contributions don't need to be large. People with skin in the game are more likely to volunteer and support in other ways - including showing up on August 8th if they're registered Connecticut Democrats.
Visit my Personal Fundrasing page by clicking on the boat. Be sure to have your credit card handy.Sailboat Image

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A Bunch of Weirdos

In an interview in yesterday's Harford Courant, John F. Droney Jr., a former Democratic state chairman who helped Lieberman unseat Republican Sen. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. in 1988, urged Lieberman to drop out of the August Democratic Primary and instead run as an independent. Rumors and conjecture of a potential Independent Lieberman run have been flying around the traditional newsmedia and blogosphere for some time now - and as recently as this week, Lieberman has still refused to rule out an independent run. But, this is the first time a major party figure has actualy publicy suggested that this is a good idea.

Droney seems to hold a great amount of disdain for the democratic process.

I think to be terrorized through the summer by an extremely small group of the Democratic Party, much less the voting population, is total insanity for a person who is a three-term senator...

Droney went on to comment about how Lamont is energizing his base of supporters to turn out for the August 8th primary.
Every single weirdo in the left wing will be there. That's what the Lamont strategy is all about.
Wait, let's get our weirdos straight. Either Droney is off his rocker, or at least 1/3 of Connecticut Democrats are "weirdos" by his standard. The most recent Q-Poll shows Lamont at 40% among likely primary voters and 32% among all registered Connecticut Dems. Hmmm, that's a lot of weirdos for one state. And, quite a large number of people to qualify as a "small group" wouldn't you say?

The same day as Droney's brilliant remarks were published, Lieberman Campaign manager was asked whether the Senator would support Ned Lamont if he wins the Democratic Primary. Smith's response was not only unconvincing, but undercut Droney's claim that Lamont only appeals to extreme left-wing weirdos.

Smith said Lieberman would not promise to support Lamont, because the businessman voted frequently with Republicans as a local official in Greenwich. "The only public record this guy has, he voted time and again like a Republican," Smith said. "Why would we support that?"
So, let's try to unravel the logic here. Ned Lamont is a Conservative Republican who appeals only to the most extreme liberals. Perhaps this makes sense in the bizarro parallel universe inhabited by Lieberman, Smith, and Droney. Too bad for them that the Connecticut voters live in Realityville.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Lieberman Rebuffs Lamont Challenge - Will Not Support Party if Lamont Wins

This morning on WSTC/WNLK here in Connecticut, Lieberman campaign manager Sean Smith made it official. He said this to news reporter Erik Campano,

Are we going to support Ned Lamont? Ah, no! (laughs)...

Listen to the audio clip (MP3 , 42kb, 10sec)

Smith goes on to make eroneous claims that Lamont is a closet Republican, and that's the reason why Lieberman will not support him. As in the past, Smith claims, without any specifics, that when serving on the Greenwich Board of Selectmen and Board of Estimates and Taxation he voted with the Republicans 80% of the time. Smith fails to mention that Lamont served on these boards over 12 years ago, and that in Greenwich town politics there are rarely divisive partyline votes as in the US Senate. The Lieberman campaign attempted to paint Lamont as a Republican in their "Greenwich Millionaire" TV ads, which were pulled almost immediately because they were not effective. I assumed they would have moved onto another strategy by now.

Lamont spokesperson, Liz Dupont-Diehl responded to Smith's remarks by quoting from Joe Lieberman's own book, In Praise of Public Life, saying:
"it's unfair and misleading to go back many years into an opponent's record and take isolated votes and distort them, and here he is doing the exact same thing" (more in the clip)

Listen to the audio clip (MP3, 81kb, 20sec)

Smith's comments were in response to questions about Ned Lamont's latest radio ad , in which he makes this challenge to Senator Lieberman:
So I have a challenge for our junior senator. Joe, let’s both go to the Democratic primary on August 8th, and let the people of Connecticut decide. I’ll pledge to back you one hundred percent if you win. And for the good of the party, you’ll pledge to support me one hundred percent if I’m victorious. What do you say Senator? May the best Democrat win.
Stories about the new Lamont radio spot are all over the news and blogs this morning. But, it appears that local reporter Campano was the only one to get the Lieberman campaign on the record stating Lieberman's intentions to NOT support the winner of the Democratic primary. Perhaps Sean Smith thinks that no one listens to AM radio anymore?

Several newspapers, including The Boston Globe picked up the story of Lamont's ads from the Associated Press. Though the AP story does not have the Lieberman campaign saying they will not support Lamont if he wins.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

DFA / MoveOn Rally for Lamont

Today's rally in New Haven was really amazing. Much has been said online about the event already, so I will spare you my commentary right now and let you check it out for yourself. For more about the event:


Listen to the entire event

Program details:
  • 0:00 Jim Dean (DFA)
  • 6:44 Vivien Blackford (Guest Speaker from CT)
  • 22:47 Joe Hefle (MoveOne member invited to introduce Ned)
  • 30:26 Ned Lamont

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Speaking of Blogs

A few days ago, BranfordBoy of MyLeftNutmeg and I were interviewed by Erik Campano, a local radio newscaster here in Connecticut. We spoke about the Lamont campaign along with the impact of bloggers on Connecticut politics in general. The show aired this weekend on several stations around Connecticut. It was a lot a fun and I think we even said one or two intelligent things. Please take a listen for yourself.

MP3 File of Interview (24 Minutes) (5.8mb)

Friday, June 02, 2006

Hallelujah!

Considering we barely spoke for the first 20 years of our lives, it's remarkable the things my brother and I have found in common as adults. I've admired his taste in music for many years and he has introduced me to some great songs and artists. But until this post today at Reports from Poisonville, I didn't know we shared this one among our favorite songs.

Hallelujah! was written by Leonard Cohen and has been recorded/performed by many others. I didn't realize quite how many before seeing this list at My Old Kentucky Blog. Ironically, until today I don't think I ever heard Cohen's own recording of the song. The version most of you have probably heard was performed by Rufus Wainwright for the Shrek soundtrack.

You may have also heard K.D. Lang's recording from Hymns of the 49th Parallel. If not, this CD, which pays homage to Canadian songwriters is certainly worth adding to your collection. The recent season finale of The OC features an a capella rendition of Hallelujah! by Imogen Heap; I don't love this version, but it's nice to know that Fox is exposing the kids to some quality music (I'm a few episodes behind, so the finale's still on the Tivo.) I haven't listened to them all yet, so I can't yet say which is my favorite.

Happy listening!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Joe Liberman supports "Right to Lifense Plate"

A few months ago I wrote about the disturbing anti-choice license plates being issued in Connecticut. Under the guise of a pro-adoption theme, revenues raised by these license plates go to organizations that use misleading tactics of methods of questionable eithics to pursuade woment to proceed with unwanted pregnancies. You can read my original post on the subject here.

Picture of Anti-Choice license plate


Since I wrote that original post, our Democratic Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal intervened with the DMV and forced them to suspend issuance of these plates. Nice job Richard!

Today I learned that our Neo-Con friend Joe Lieberman has come out in support of Choose-Life Inc. and their multi-state license plate effort. Jane over at FiredogLake did a great job catching this one. Joe's really batting 0% when it comes to women's rights lately. This is the same Senator that spoke out in opposition of state legislation that would require all hospitals to offer access to emergency contraception (RU-486) to rape victims. The man who claims to be a strong supporter of women's rights in his stump speeches and TV commercials stated that "in Connecticut another hospital is always just a short cab ride away." CT-Bob has an excellent diary on this topic, complete with maps showing just what an assenine comment it was.

The National Organization for Women and Connecticut Choice Voice are two great organizations supporting Ned Lamont in his bid to unseat our Joe Lieberman. Please send e-mails (contributions are good too) and thank these organizations for their support. Urge them to raise hell and call Joe out for this latest in a series of failures on women's issues.

Thanks to Maura for pointing this one out to me.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Lamont Kicks into Overdrive

Still in high-gear from yesterday's NOW endorsement (see yesterday's post), the Ned Lamont for Senate campaign kicked it into overdrive today with the launch of a TV campaign produced by the world's greatest political ad man, Bill Hillsman. The results are awesome. Hillsman is the same guy that created my favorite political ad ever, the Jesse Ventura Action Figures.

Video: Right Now (60 sec): Windows Media -- Quicktime



Video: Underdog (30 sec): Windows Media -- Quicktime



Please forward these ads to your friends. The success of the campaign depends on our ability to spread messages like these virally to friends, family and networks both online and offline.

Be sure to visit some of the grassroots blogs supporting the Lamont campaign too. For some strange reason there don't seem to be any independent sites or blogs supporting that other guy running against Ned. What's his name again?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

NOW, with Big Balls

It's ironic that the organization with the biggest balls in this country is a group of women. Today, the National Organization for Women became the first group to endorse Ned Lamont for Senate. Many important Democrats and political organizations have expressed support for Ned, but NOW is the first group with the cajones to stand up to Old Joe Lieberman.

I was at the announcement today in Hartford with video camera in tow. Thanks to CTBob for lending me his camera and editing the footage. Also on display at the press conference were CTBob's brilliant maps (scroll down to May 4, there don't seem to be permalinks) directing women in need of emergency contraception to a local hospital that might actually provide this service. When Joe Lieberman stated, in support of Catholic hospitals that didn't want to provide emergency contraception, that "another hospital is always just a short cab-ride away" he drove the final nail in the coffin for support from any women's groups.

So hats-off to NOW for the awesome courage to stand up to Joe Lieberman and the Democratic Party Brats. Kudos to Jane Hamsher over at FireDogLake for her pivotal role in securing this endorsement.

Here's the video. YouTube kind of sucks, so if the video gets stuck, press pause, wait for it to cache a bunch and the press play again.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Gee Wiz, I'm a Candidate for Who's Who?

I find it quite surprising that someone would choose this moment to honor me "based on a candidate's current position, and usually with information obtained from researched executive and professional listings." You see, although I've been busy pitching ideas to venture capitalists and blogging prolifically, I haven't had an actual paying job since November 2005. Perhaps if this were "Who's Who Among the Unemployed", or "Who's Who on their Spouse's Shit List" than I might be a better fit.

Anyway, these things make me laugh. I hope you enjoy it too. The shocking part is that thousands of people will actually respond and pay money for a book just because their name is listed. Now, that gives me an entrepeneurial idea. Send me $10 and your bio and I'll post it at withoutApurpose in a new section titled "Who's Who Among People Willing to Give Me $10."

Dear Candidate:

You were recently appointed as a biographical candidate to represent your industry in the Madison Who's Who Among Executives and Professionals, and for inclusion into the upcoming 2006-2007 "Honors Edition" of the registry. We are pleased to inform you that on May 4th, your candidacy was approved. Your confirmation for inclusion will be effective within five business days, pending our receipt of the enclosed application.

The Office of the Managing Director appoints individuals based on a candidate's current position, and usually with information obtained from researched executive and professional listings. The director thinks you may make an interesting biographical subject, as individual achievement is what Madison Who's Who is all about. Upon final confirmation you will be listed among thousands of accomplished individuals in the Madison Who's Who Registry. There is no cost to be included.

We do require additional information to complete the selection process and kindly ask that you access this form on our website at:

http://formdesk.com/MadisonWhosWho/Registration

Or you can manually enter this address into your web browser:

http://formdesk.com/MadisonWhosWho/Registration

To ensure your biographical data is received in time, please complete the online form above as soon as possible. Our editorial deadline is quickly approaching. I urge you to act today. If you delay, I cannot guarantee the committee will have ample time to review your submission.

Sincerely,

Matthew Johnson
Managing Director


Madison Who's Who is not associated or affiliated with Marquis Who's Who or any other Who's Who.

Madison Who's Who, Inc.. 4-35 27th Ave., Long Island City, NY 11102 USA

I hope there not holding the presses waiting for my entry.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Relay for Life

Last year I participated in Relay for Life, which is an amazing national annual event to raise money and awareness for cancer research. Along with some friends and family we organized a team of about 30 people, which joined hundred of others for our local Relay here in Fairfield. I have set a personal goal to raise at least $1,000 this year from my blog readers, and hopefully more. If each of you contributes $25-50, we cean rach $1,000 in no time. Please visit my personal Relay for Life page to make your donation. There is also information below if you would like to participate with us in this year's event. Please read on for more information.


Our team from 2005

This year, cancer will strike more than 1.3 million Americans and take more than half a million lives. My family has been touched by cancer too many time, making this is a very personal cause for me. Two years ago we lost my mother to Lung cancer. My wife Pamela's two sisters are both breast cancer survivors. Based on her family and genetic history, Pamela herself faces an 80% lifetime risk of breast cancer. As friends and family, we can do something to save lives and help those already fighting this disease. That’s why I’m taking action against cancer by supporting the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life® in Fairfield, CT.
<>Relay is an overnight event that unites our community in a common effort to support the American Cancer Society’s lifesaving mission to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. The Society works every day to prevent cancer and save lives by supporting groundbreaking research, affecting public policies that protect us from cancer, and educating people on how to prevent or detect cancer early. The Society helps people in our community who have cancer through its many programs and services. Together, we can help the American Cancer Society accelerate the progress toward a cancer-free future.

I hope you’ll be able to join us for this year’s event. Please click on the link below for more information, including details on the inspirational Survivors’ Lap and the moving Luminaria Ceremony. If you can’t join us, will you please visit my personal Relay for Life page and make a donation to support our efforts? Either way, you will make a real difference in the lives of people facing cancer – and in the lives of the people who love them. Thank you!

Please follow this link to visit my personal Relay for Life page and make your donation.

If you would like to participate with us in Fairfield, CT, you are invited to join our team, Life Beats Cancer. Please follow this link and select Join our Team.

For state fundraising notices and the American Cancer Society’s privacy policy, please paste this link into your browser: http://www.cancer.org/docroot/SU/su_0.asp

Please forward a link to this page to others that might be interested in participating or willing to make a contribution. Thank you for your support.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

An Official "Lefty Blog"

Yesterday withoutApurpose was finally added to LeftyBlogs. Perhaps not my greatest claim to fame, but my hits doubled today. Please, no "doubling zero is still zero" jokes. My actual greatest claim to fame was the time Steven Wright made a joke about me. I'll write another post on that sometime.

Letter from Senator Lieberman

Cross-posted from MyLeftNutmeg

A while back I contacted Senator Lieberman's office criticizing him for not supporting the Feingold Censure Resolution. Today I finally received a reponse by e-mail. It's amazing that someone can fill an entire page with words, yet say absolutely nothing. Don't you just love career politicians?

Well, I'm sure glad the Senator has taken a stand. I just wish I knew what it was!
April 27, 2006

Mr. Neal Fink
Fairfield, CT 06824

Dear Mr. Fink:

Thank you for contacting me to express your views regarding a Senate resolution (S.Res. 398), which was introduced by Senator Russell Feingold (D-WI), that would censure President Bush for authorizing the National Security Agency (NSA) to conduct warrantless surveillance on Americans in the United States while communicating with people overseas. I welcome the opportunity to respond.

I believe that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) required the President to obtain court approval before conducting this surveillance. The Administration argues otherwise. I find the Administration's arguments unconvincing and unsettling. Every Senator who I have spoken with, including Senator Feingold, believes the new technologies employed by NSA to listen to phone conversations and read emails of suspected terrorists, should continue to be used to protect our security, but they should be used only after a court order.

I believe we would better spend our time in the Senate working to bring this NSA surveillance into the judicial system in the future. However, I do not want that decision to leave any uncertainty about my opinion of the way the Administration carried out this necessary and important surveillance program without court approval. It was wrong.

Please be assured that I will continue my commitment to maintaining the balance between the crucial need for tools to fight the war on terror and the equally important need to protect our constitutional liberties.

My official Senate web site is designed to be an on-line office that provides access to constituent services, Connecticut-specific information, and an abundance of information about what I am working on in the Senate on behalf of Connecticut and the nation. I am also pleased to let you know that I have launched an email news update service through my web site. You can sign up for that service by visiting http://lieberman.senate.gov and clicking on the "Subscribe Email News Updates" button at the bottom of the home page. I hope these are informative and useful.

Thank you again for letting me know your views and concerns.
Please contact me if you have any additional questions or comments about our work in Congress.

Sincerely,


Joseph I. Lieberman
UNITED STATES SENATOR

JIL:ae



Run, don't walk, to www.nedlamont.com and make a donation now. We desperately need money to perform a Lieb-otomy!


I don't care how big the tent is, there's no room for an elephant!

Neal

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A Penny for Joe

An interesting discussion came up recently over at MyLeftNutmeg. The question is whether Joe Lieberman should return contributions from Democrats if he ends up running as an Independent. After all, if someone gives him money because they support him as a Democrat, and then he flips, the money would have been taken under false pretenses. Anyway, I'll leave that for the ethicists and lawyers to debate.

In the meantime, that discussion developed into the idea of sending Joe miniscule donations. Would the campaign bother to deposit checks for 1 cent? The administrative cost of handling such checks would be far greater than the value of the contribution. But, if I understand the FEC regulations correctly, they would have to either deposit my check or return it. A hassle for them either way.

So, I figured the only way to find out would be to try a little experiment. Today I sent off my contribution to Friends of Joe, Lieberman's official campaign committee, to "show my support." Here's a copy of my check and the text from my cover letter. Feel free to use this as the basis for your own letter and micro-contribution. Please make sure you contribute generously (no
micro-contributions please) to Ned Lamont for Senate. We know Joe's not going to change. Ned Lamont is the solution.


April 24, 2006
The Honorable Joseph I. Lieberman
Friends of Joe Lieberman
PO Box 231294
State House Square
Hartford, CT 06123


Dear Senator Lieberman:

Although I disagree with you on many issues, including your support of the war in Iraq, I feel it is important to support Democrats when they run for office. As such, please accept the enclosed contribution as a show of my support. I would also like to mention some issues that you will hopefully address during the remainder of your term, and the next if you are re-elected.

  1. Bring the war in Iraq to a quick and peaceful end, and return our troops home to safety.
  2. Support Censure of President Bush. You have acknowledged that the administration used illegal wiretaps. It is also clear that President Bush lied to Congress and America in order to garner support for an illegal war. No one is above the law; not even our President.
  3. Work to rescind the punitive bankruptcy bill that you supported. This type of bankruptcy form hurts well intentioned middle-class citizens that run into financial problems. You claim to support the middle-class and be their voice in the Senate, yet this bill is nothing but a handout to the credit card banks and big business.
  4. Publicly apologize for your careless remarks regarding proposed Connecticut legislation regarding emergency contraception for rape victims. To say that a woman, after being beaten and raped, can take a taxi to another hospital is absolutely reprehensible.
  5. Always remember that your job is to represent the will of the people of Connecticut and not your personal opinions. Your recent television commercials suggest you may have forgotten your role within our system of representative democracy. In one commercial, you state “some of you feel passionately against my position on Iraq, I respect your views…” Every poll shows that the citizens of Connecticut overwhelmingly oppose the War. By continuing to support President Bush’s “stay the course” strategy, clearly you are not respecting our views.

Lastly, if you claim to be a real Democrat, then please commit to remaining a Democrat and support the primary process. As the world’s greatest democracy, we have systems for addressing disagreements with our representatives. One method is to voice concerns to our legislators, hoping to influence their positions. If that fails, another method is to select a new representative. On August 8th, if the voters of the Democratic Party, your party, select a different candidate, I urge you to respect this choice. Your threats to run as an Independent cause me to question your true loyalty to the Party as it not only undermines the Democratic voters, it may have a severe negative impact on others running in critical races.

Thank you for taking the time to consider my thoughts.

Sincerely,


Neal R. Fink
So, please send those letters and teeny tiny checks to Joe. And, don't forget to send your REAL contribution to Ned Lamont for Senate.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Things I'm Embarrassed About

  1. I once agreed with something that George Bush said - he was talking about chocolate chip cookies
  2. I have a slight crush on Anderson Cooper. He's liberal, cute, has a rich mom, and is rumored to like guys.
  3. I have occasional fantasies about Katie Couric (sorry Anderson, don't be jealous)
  4. I once worked on an off-Broadway production of "Rasputin: The Musical" (and it wasn't even the one written by Ozzie Osbourne)
  5. I love animals, but vegetarians annoy me
  6. I have 4 computers and often use them all at the same time
  7. I liked Steel Magnolias. Who cares if it's a chick flick. The tough guys at Maximcan kiss my ass.
  8. I keep my "For Dummies" guides hidden so the books on my shelves make me look smarter
  9. I told my son that there's no Santa Clause when he was two (I figured we're Jewish, so who cares? Apparently the other kids at pre-school. Oops.)
  10. I drive a gas guzzling SUV and yesterday it cost me $56.15 to fill the tank

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Hypocrites all Around

So much has been written about the Senate's failure to act on my Feingold's censure proposal. It's incredible that clear and obvious violations of the Constitution don't seem to merit reprimand. I've avoided the now trite comparison to Clinton's impeachment because to me this minimizes the egregiousness of Bush's crimes. The Lewinsky affair and lies that followed certainly showed poor moral judgment, and I feel did deserve reprimand. Though in Clinton's case Censure would have been the more appropriate route rather than impeachment. Bush's misdeeds, on the other hand, have led us on a path to worldwide disaster and the deaths of thousands of innocent Iraqis, American soldiers, and other bystanders including reporters and peaceworkers from around the world.

Last night at a DFA meeting, someone mentioned this quote, allegedly from a closed door session between Bush and several top Republican officials in November 2005.

"“Stop throwing the Constitution in my face, Bush screamed back. "It'’s just a goddamned piece of paper!"
There's more about this meeting at Capitol Hill Blue's.

This quote was widely written about on the blogs last December, many of which attributed Capitol Hill Blue's. At the time it seemed so extreme a comment even for King George, that I questioned whether it was true. Although I still can't prove he actually said these words, it certainly splausiblesable. Furthermore, after months of circulation, no one has come forward to deny the remarks.

So, why write about this today, after much of the noise has died down? Well, a friend just sent me this picture which swayed me a bit on the Clinton vs. Bush argument.



Have a happy day!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Fair and Balanced

Does the right-wing control the media? Lately I have found myself engaged in this dicussion quite a bit. I've heard all the arguments, and frankly can't make up my mind. Part of me feels that liberals are just angry that Fox News is so incredibly popular. It's also obvious that massive media conglomerates have profit incentives that likely influence their spin on the news and selection of programming.

Last night I went to see Ned Lamont speak to the New Haven chapter of Democracy for America. During the Q&A period, Lamont was asked if he would support legislation to bring more balance to the media. He responded that more competition, and not legislation was the solution. He went on to say that the Internet (with a nod to his supporters from the Blogosphere) is a great equalizing factor.

These are two very popular arguments. Though neither really satisfies me. With regard to competition, there used to be strict regulations limiting the ownership of TV/Radio Stations and newspapers. In the 1970s, the FCC and the Federal Courts started chipping away at these limits. The 1996 Telecommunications Act blew the doors off, allowing the creation of today's media conglomerates. Most recently, an FCC review in 2003 further eased restrictions on TV and Radio ownership (these most recent changes have not yet taken effect.) Today we have a small number of companies each controlling a large chunk of the mainstream media. Thus, less competition with little opportunity for new upstarts. The few newcomers that do manage to gain traction are quickly gobbled up by the media giants. It seems pretty clear that there was less media bias, and the quality of TV and Radio news was generally better before the FCC started deregulating.

As for the Internet being the great equalizer, it's a bit too early to know for sure. But, already the same Fortune 500 companies that own the mainstream media, control a massive portion of the Internet. AOL Time Warner is the onramp for millions of Americans accessing the Internet. Fox and CNN are the most popular news destinations online. Even Google, with their "don't be evil" motto is becoming more like a media conglomerate every day (they own the site where this blog is hosted.) This isn't a criticism of Google. They have to answer to shareholders just like NBC/GE, AOL Time Warner, Fox, and the rest of the gang.

I'm certain that the Internet will continue to provide open access for sharing views and opinions. Whether it's blogging, PodCasts, or the next innovation, the barriers to entry will remain incredibly low. Individuals like me and responsible news sites like CommonDreams will always have an opportunity to put our message online. The question is whether we will be able to attract an audience.

There's only so many hours in the day. The 20 minutes a week you spend reading this blog is 20 minutes you didn't spend at Fox, CNN, or CommonDreams. The giants are not going to sit idle while millions of people get their news and entertainment from properties they don't own. No one knows exactly how it will play out. Just don't be surprised when one of them buys CommonDreams (even the greatest idealists among us have a price) or starts saturating the market advertising until the independents can't afford to compete for visibility. Already the media giants are using whizbang technology to make their online news more exciting and appealing to a larger audience. How can an independent site or upstart ever hope to compete with the sizzle of CNN Pipeline?

It would be really nice if I could wrap this up with a nice solution, or at least a conclusion. But I'm still trying to digest the problem. I do think that some type of media ownership limitations, but less restrictive and more up to date than the old 7 Radio / 7 TV station rule is in order. But, we can't legislate our way out of this problem. Plus, only a suicidal politician would dare take on this issue. After all, the media controls the message1. Remember what happened to Howard Dean when he suggested breaking up the media conglomerates2?

Another component of a long term solution would be a massive overhaul and upgrade to our educational system. I believe that a better educated America, comprised of people that appreciate the lessons of history will demand greater fairness and objectivity from our media. After all, the audience ultimately decides whether the media companies live or die. In other words...If Fox News was on TV in the forest and no one was there to watch, would Sean Hannity make a sound? Probably not.3

1. As always I welcome your e-mail and comments. Just please don't write to tell me that no one can control the message in the Blogosphere. I agree and have said it many times. But if you think that's relevant then you didn't get my point.
2. Matt Drudge doesn't need any more promotion, it's just a good transcript of a Dean interview on the subject.
3. Before you write to ask, no I don't believe that everyone who watches Fox News is stupid. Just most of them.

Special thanks to Sufi for making me think about all this, though I could have been watching TV instead.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Zionists and Rotarians Unite

We've always know that Hamas is a nasty bunch. But now it seems they've crossed a line. Word of advice. Don't screw with the Rotary Club.

Jon Stewart is Trying to Destroy Me

Coming up with interesting and original material to write about is hard enough on its own. For me, it's extra challenging because I try to make my posts newsworthy and somewhat humerous. As if this weren't enough, I have to deal with Jon Stewart constantly stealing my ideas.

Each day, as I watch the news, read the papers, and browse the blogs, my mind is constantly spinning with ideas to post here on WithoutAPurpose. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes me a day or two to get around to writing. Then, each night at 11 I face the crushing blow of hearing MY thoughts out of the mouth of Jon Stewart. I think to myself, "damn, why didn't I write that earlier today" before this thief at Comedy Central had the chance to steal my idea.

Here are a few recent examples:

  • Last week during a press conference, Bush announced that his "administration is stable." Then yesterday he announced the resignation of Andrew Card, Chief of Staff. I had a nice story planned all about chaos (or maybe even Kaos) at the White House, and Bush's penchant for lying every chance he gets. Of course he knew last week that Card was on his way out.

    So, what was the opening story on last night's Daily Show? First, footage of Bush's press conference from last week, followed by Cards' resignation. So what if you have access to video archives and fancy editing equipment while all my stuff is limited to HTML? Do you have to show off so much? Come on Stewart, try and tell me you guys thought of this one on your own. In fact, don't tell me, tell it to my lawyers (Eric, please expect a call from Comedy Central's legal department.)

  • The Blue Ribbon panel I commissioned has released preliminary results of their research into the comedic aspects of the "Dick Cheney Shot a Guy in the Face" debacle. Stewart, the arrogant scofflaw that he is, ignored a subpoena to testify. OK, it was a few questions scrawled on a bar napkin and not an actual subpoena signed be a judge, but still he could have had the decency to respond. The evidence clearly shows that I deemed the Cheney story to be both funny and newsworthy while Stewart was still in bed sleeping. Yet, who got a week's worth of material out of it? That's right, liberal-hollywood-insider, Jon Stewart.
  • And finally, the one that really kills me. Every year during the Acadamy Awards I tell my wife, "wow, this show sucks. Even I could do a better job hosting." Well, we all know what happened next. Ariana Huffington said it best when commenting on how Stewart should approach the Oscars,"politics and the Oscars have a long history of going together about as well as Muslims and Danish cartoons." In your face, Jon Stewart!
Once this stuff has been on TV, I have to come up with new topics, lest people accuse me of recycling Daily Show material. How ironic is that?

There are only two possible explanations for this situation. Either, 1)Stewart has conspired with the Bush Administration to wiretap my brain, or 2)Stewart is a comic genius, and great minds think alike. Since my comic abilities and sense of...um, um, oh yeah, timing are clearly in a different league than Stewart's, there's no other logical conclusion. He is using advanced technology to steal my thoughts. X-Rays confirm that they collaborated with my ENT to implant a brain scanning chip and transmitter during my deviated septum surgery last year.


In fact, maybe my septum wasn't deviated at all. The whole diagnosis could have been part of Stewart's evil plot to use my brilliant mind for his own evil purposes.

As if stealing my thoughts weren't enough in this competition for laughs and audience, Stewart stacks the deck. While I develop all of my own ideas and do my own writing, he relies on a staff of overpaid writers and producers to do the real work. When asked about this, Stewart tries to pretend he's innocent, saying things like "who the f... is Neal Fink?" But come on, if I had a big staff, a cable TV deal, a little more talent, and was maybe better looking, it would be Jon Stewart complaining to half a dozen people online while I raked in the big bucks on late night TV.

After ignoring my accusations for years, today Mr. Stewart finally tipped his hand, revealing his cowardace. I was speaking with his talent producer pitching an appearance by Ned Lamont (yes, Stewart even has a special person just to book guests; how lazy is that?) But, the Stewart people must have seen through my ploy. They told me they had to "pass for now" on a Lamont appearance. Some crap about how the Connecticut senate primary may not "resonate" with their national audience. But I know the real reason. They thought my Lamont pitch was just a ruse; a backdoor into the studio, where my fake-news nemesis, Jon Stewart, would be forced to face me in person. Scaredy Cat! Oh yeah, how does that "resonate?" And, don't think I'll remember this the next time one of your buddies wants to post a guest blog here at WithoutAPurpose.

Well, Mr. Stewart, you may have won this round, but the competition continues. The stats for my blog are climbing faster than your ratings. Soon I'll have more regular readers than you have domestic staff at your fancy Manhattan co-op. That's right, Stewart. I know you're shaking in your fancy suit right now while you read this. And, don't try and pretend that you're not DailyShow_JewBoy@aol.com that reads all my posts and e-mails veiled threats. I'm onto you.

Well, I have to wrap this up so I can go shove some tongs up my nose and yank out that evil braintapping chip. Be sure you watch The Daily Show tonight and see the nervous look on Stewart's face. If the show is a little less clever than usual, you'll know why.

Thanks for reading the blog and be sure to join us again tomorrow. Yes, Stewart even stole his signatgure sign-off line from me.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Dean Mythos

Note: Somewhere along the way I took a detour and this post became more about the Lamont campaign than Howard Dean. But, hopefully you'll get the connection.

We all have a tendency to glamorize the past; it's human nature. But the Deanies seem to be masters of the art form. Being involved in the Lamont campaign, I read and hear way too much about how great and exciting the Dean campaign was, and almost nothing about what was learned from its massive failure.

Dean is often credited with validating the NetRoots as a vital part of the political process. I would argue the opposite - the NetRoots validated Howard Dean. The Internet is an incredibly powerful medium that gives a voice and power to the masses. Its role in the Democratic process was inevitable. To those who were the pioneers, blogging and posting before the 2004 election, take some credit for your work. Don't give it away to Howard Dean.

I've done volunteer work for several campaigns in the past. But, my online and offline involvement in the Lamont campaign, and voracious reading of relevant material has opened my eyes to at at least two critical problems of the Dean campaign worth addressing:

#1 The leaders that emerged from the NetRoots made those that wanted to join the campaign later feel unwelcome in Club Dean. Quite a bit has been written online about this phenomenon. As far into the future as I can predict, the NetRoots will play a critical role, especially in rallying support early on. But, elections will still be won or lost in the physical world. Traditional media will still matter. Live public appearances will still matter. Massive numbers of volunteers stuffing envelopes and drinking too much coffee will still matter. And, even with the success of efforts like ActBlue, big-money donors will still matter. The NetRoots needs to find a way to work in harmony with the Grassroots, the big donors, and old-fashioned volunteers (maybe we can come up with a cool "roots" nickname for these folks.)

#2 Dean himself was a much better candidate online than in real life. In person he came off as too angry and rough around the edges. This was an ongoing problem and not something isolated to the famous "I Have Scream" speech after his third-place finish in Iowa. I'm not sure how the NetRoots can solve this problem, other than to do more homework when vetting candidates to support.

But, this is all old news. Why am I writing about it now? Because many people have started making comparisons between Ned Lamont and Howard Dean. This makes sense, to some degree. Both are progressive Democrats who were catapulted to the national stage by the NetRoots. Before you ask, yes I believe that Ned Lamont would not have even made it to his announcement day two weeks ago were it not for the NetRoots.

So, how is Lamont doing with regard to the two problems descried above?

I don't think Lamont will suffer from #2. He's an incredibly likeable guy. We've all read the stories of skeptics making a 180 after a single meeting (I've reported on some of these.) Despite any effort by the Lieberman campaign to paint him as an angry guy, Ned Lamont is Mr. Congeniality.

For me, the jury is still out on #1. My involvement to date has been primarily through the NetRoots - writing blog entries, posting comments, and e-mailing friends to encourage their involvement. The main theme of Lamont's pre-announcement work was that he needed "1,000 volunteers, representing every city and town in Connecticut." The last I heard, over 1,500 had signed up through www.nedlamont.com. However, it takes great persistence to become involved. I've spoken with others who are eager to lend a hand, but haven't received any response or direction from campaign officials. Nearly everyone on the Lamont campaign team worked or volunteered for Dean. I hope Club Dean learned a lesson from its exclusive membership policy of 2004 and makes a concerted to make everyone feel welcome.

Now, before the hardworking folks on the Lamont team get pissed off at me, would like to commend a few ace recruiters. Kim Hynes ("official scheduler") is amazing (as is Aldon). Until two months ago they didn't know me from Adam. But, Kim and Aldon have encouraged my involvement and are incredibly responsive to e-mails and phone calls - even when it's about something outside their areas of responsibility. If Kim ever decides to make another run for office, I'll be one of the first to volunteer. Rose Ryan is also a great asset to this campaign. For a Volunteer Coordinator, having 1,500 eager helpers must be both a blessing and a curse. I pestered Rose for a while, and she has put me to work. Hopefully she can get hundreds more involved while they are still fired up.

Hopefully this campaign will hold fast to Ned's initial message. To make use of those 1,000+ registered supporters, everyone on the staff should view him/herself as a Volunteer Coordinator. Welcome, encourage, and take full advantage of the folks that want to send Ned Lamont to Washington as our next Senator.

Spell Check Stupiditity

I use Blogger (owned by Google) to create and manage this site. Their editor offers a handy little spell checker. My spelling is so bad, that when posting to other blogs, I often write in MS Word and then copy/paste to the destination site.

Today I made an odd but surprising discovery. The following words do not appear in the Blogger spell check dictionary: "blog" and "blogging". Even Blogger with a capital "B" - the name of the site that runs the spell check, comes up as an error.

How strange.

Monday, March 20, 2006

OK babies, the next round is on your Uncle Sam

I was eating lunch at the local Einstein Bagels today and the only thing to read was a portion of the local excuse for a newspaper. Nonetheless, the Police Blotter is always entertaining. Among the routine domestic disturbances and stolen cars in Bridgeport, there was mention of a convenience store robbery. The crook made off with about two dozen packages of underarm deodorant and some cans of baby formula.

Then it mentioned a very troubling statistic. What's the number item stolen by shoplifters in the US? No, not cigarettes or liquor (my first two guesses), or even underarm deodorant (which is surprisingly popular among shoplifters)... it's baby formula. This little statistic, buried in the local police blotter pretty much sums up how we are failing as a country. There is absolutely no reason why anyone should have to steal baby formula. If you have a baby and can't afford to feed him/her, there has to be a government program to pitch in.

The merits of welfare have and always will be a source of great debate in this country. But, how can anyone - even the most right wing libertarian bastard argue against providing formula for babies that are going hungry. Regardless of what you think of the parent(s) and their circumstances, be they drug addicts or well-intentioned people that have fallen on hard times, no one should be forced to steal just to feed a baby.

How many malnourished babies do you think we could feed for the cost of just one day of the war in Iraq? I would guess pretty much all of them. Before we can even begin to justify "spreading freedom" to the rest of the world, we should be sure that at least the basic needs are being met for our children. You don't need to be a scholar on Maslow to understand that freedom and democracy are not even on your radar when you can't afford to feed your own child.

I'll make this promise now, and to my friends and family, hold me to it. When I'm king, no parent will ever have to steal baby formula.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Endorse the Democratic Process

By endorsing Joe Lieberman, Diane Farrell has bought into the rhetoric of the Democratic Party leadership. Last week, Farrell said in an interview that it’s "difficult in a party to see primaries take place." Well, I beg to differ. Most of us view primaries as an essential part of the democratic process - especially in a two party system. Most jobs involve a performance review at least once a year. How can anyone argue that after 18 years an evaluation of Joe Lieberman’s performance by his employers (the citizens of Connecticut) is out of order?

Unfortunately, endorsements for Lieberman by folks like Diane Farrell are about money and favors, not the issues on which campaigns should be based. Joe is a cash cow and Diane wants her share of the milk. We know that she disagrees with Joe on Iraq, I assume she’s not happy about Alito, and I would imagine she cringes when Joe appears on TV hugging President W or paling around with his buddy Sean Hannity. On the issues, Diane Farrell has much more in common with Ned Lamont than she does with Joe Lieberman. But, politics is politics and after coming so close in the last election, Diane’s going to grab at every straw she can.

I would love to see a long list of visible Dems endorse Lamont. I'm also realistic enough to know that most will not take what they perceive as a political risk. So, to those who are caught in the ethical struggle between endorsing a candidate that will support real Democratic values and stand up to the right-wing administration(Ned Lamont) and the guy they think will dump some cash behind their campaigns (Joe Lieberman) I offer a suggestion: Instead of endorsing a candidate, throw your support behind the democratic process. Stand up and say:


"There is great disagreement within our party over many important issues, including the war in Iraq, universal healthcare, women’s rights, and the selection of Supreme Court Justices. The people of Connecticut have made it clear that they want to be heard on these issues. On August 8th we will have a statewide forum where the people can make their views clear. It’s called an election. I believe that this primary is in the best interest of Connecticut's Democrats and the party as a whole."

Perhaps we can start a movement called “Endorse the Democratic Process.” For, if someone believes that primaries are somehow bad, we can assume they are against the democratic process that the rest of us hold so dear.

Finally, I will make this (not so bold) prediction. When Ned Lamont wins the primary in August, his phone will start ringing off the hook. On the other end will be people like Diane Farrell who have suddenly seen the light, asking Ned for his support.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Jessica Simpson

There was much talk today about Jessica Simpson snubbing President Bush. Apparently she turned down an invitation to meet the President. Simpson's public explanation was that the invitation was to meet Bush at a Republican fundraiser, and her fundraising work was non-partisan. She didn't want to send the wrong message to her supporters. I think the real reason is that Simpson is uncomfortable in situations where she's the smartest person in the room.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Lamont Rocks the Old Statehouse

(cross-posted from http://www.myleftnutmeg.com)

Lamont Rocks the Old Statehouse

by: Neal Fink

March 13, 2006 at 19:19:51 EST5EDT

I just returned home from the Lamont announcement in Hartford. What a fantastic official start to this incredibly important campaign. I’ve seen Ned a few times and he’s always a capable and confident speaker. But, today he was on fire. He came out swinging for Joe Lieberman – attacking him on a whole range of issues beyond the war in Iraq. And, he didn’t hold back his frustration with the Democratic leadership, explaining that the “political brass do not like the idea of a primary.” It’s about time someone spoke up against the status quo. Go Ned!

One of Lamont’s gifts, that will be a key ingredient in his recipe for victory, is a unique ability to take a strong stand on some very controversial issues without coming off as angry (imagine a much more articulate and likeable Howard Dean.) Ned’s energy and enthusiasm is contagious. Everyone in the room was at the edge of their seats, applauding and cheering enthusiastically as he laid out a clear and succinct agenda of issues.

For me, one of the highlights of the afternoon was hearing Ned being introduced by his eldest daughter, Emily. She is an incredibly bright and articulate young woman. Her performance was enough to convince me that Ned cares a great deal about family and education. Maybe Emily should take some time off from Harvard and go on the speaking circuit full time with dad…

Lest you dismiss today’s enthusiasm as the reaction of a loaded audience of Lamont supporters, let me share a bit of what I got to see and hear first hand. I was standing in the back of the room, alongside the platform for the many TV crews and photographers covering the event. Before the event started, and during the brief introductory speeches, most of these news crews seemed settled in for another dull assignment. A few minutes into Ned’s talk, even these ordinarily disinterested folks seemed to sit up and take notice of what was happing on stage and around the room.

Not only did I catch a few of the press representatives applauding during Ned’s speech, I overheard a fantastic exchange between a cameraman and one the reporters. After it was all over, one of them remarked “wow, I would vote for this guy” to which the other responded “me too!”This is the same reaction I keep hearing and reading about as Ned appears around the state. After just a few minutes of hearing Ned speak, something clicks and people “get it.” If he can get an audience with a massive number of Connecticut Democrats, the August primary will be a Lamont Landslide.

The full text of today’s announcement is online at http://www.nedlamont.com/speech031306.html and I believe http://www.politicstv.com will be posting the video.

Friday, March 10, 2006

George Bush's Secret Weapon

Update 3/15/05:This is the first thing I’ve written that people have openly criticized. I was trying to make a different point, so I didn’t get into my personal opposition to the ports deal. The real issue was that Bush tried to cram it down our throats without any proper review. I’m surprised that even much of the liberal blogosphere attacked the ports deal based on national security and anti-Arab grounds rather the real issues of port security and how these deals are reviewed by the government.One of the weakest arguments I’ve heard is that “two of the 9/11 hijackers were from Dubai.” Based on that logic, perhaps companies from New York and Michigan(homes of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols) should be banned from operating ports as well.

George Bush has a secret weapon. No, I’m not talking about Dick Cheney or Karl Rove – they may indeed be human WMDs, but they’re some of the few tricks the Bush administration hasn’t tried to keep secret. No, what I’m talking about is the fact that we continue to underestimate him. Mr. Bush may appear to be the stupidest man ever elected president, but he’s clever enough to use this perception to his advantage. It’s particularly useful when Bush wants to distract Congress and the American people from what's actually happening to our country.

The recent tussle over the Dubai ports deal is a great example. No doubt port security is a disaster in this country. Few containers are inspected, review of documentation is poor, and there is no plan to improve this situation. However, there is no real reason to suspect that security would have been impacted negatively under DP World’s management. The same agencies would still be responsible for security and DP World would be under the scrutiny that all port management companies face (which, of course, is too little.)

The United Arab Emirates is a ridiculously wealthy nation with billions of dollars invested in the US economy. Their interest in owning ports is financial, not ideological. In fact, one could argue that because they would be operating under a microscope, DP World would be more likely to enforce security measures than the current port operators. They want to protect their profit.

The need some feel to limit investments because the UAE is an Arab nation is motivated not by facts, but by the same fear mongering that controls our foreign policy, prevents effective immigration reform, and allows the administration to destroy cilvil liberties and ignore the Constitution. George Bush, master of distraction. [I’ve heard he can magically pull quarters out of Dick Cheney’s ear and fold balloon animals too.]

While Congress, the media, and Americans at their dinner tables were worrying about the frightening prospect of “the evil Arabs” taking over our ports, the real issues of security have been ignored (we've also forgotten about Jack Abramoff and the guy that Cheney shot in the head.) Now that DP World has pulled out of the deal, life will move on and everyone will forget about port security again. Hooray, we think we’re safe again.

So, why don’t the Democrats in Congress see through Bush’s trickery and slight-of-hand? Perhaps some really can’t figure it out, which would mean they are even dimmer than Bush. Because that thought will keep me up at night, hopefully there’s another reason.

Ah, yes, Democrats are desperately afraid of appearing weak on national security, so they grasp at straws like the DP Ports deal to create the illusion of being tough on terrorism. It’s the same reason so many Democrats voted in favor horrific legislation like the original and new-and-un-improved-Patriot-Act. It’s even more frightening when you consider that this same fear of appearing soft on terrorism caused John Kerry and others to vote in favor of a war to which they were clearly opposed. Let's get a backbone, folks.

Wait a minute, this second argument isn’t going to make me sleep any better at night either. Perhaps the only solution is a revolution within the Democratic Party, and enough Ambien to sleep until 2008.

My, that’s one big powerful weapon you have Mr. Bush.

Apologies to my Loyal Readers - all 6 of you

Just when I was actually starting to get some readership, my schedule blew out of control. I've been spending a bunch of time in San Francisco, which is a nice break from the cold Connecticut weather. I've also been trying to devote more of my free time to some important campaigns here in Connecticut. More on that in a future post.

Another problem seems to be that work is a real impediment to successful blogging. My friend Uri and I have received serious interest from investors for a new business idea. So, after enjoying a few leisurely months, I'm heading back to the crazy hours of building a software company. The upside is that it's a very exciting idea and receiving a regular paycheck isn't so bad either.

Hopefully I'll continue to find the time to post new musings here. I really enjoy the opportunity to write about whatever is on my mind. Hopefully a few people out there enjoy reading it as well.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Constitution - Top Secret

This is the lead from a story in today’s New York Times:

“In a seven-year-old secret program at the National Archives, intelligence agencies have been removing from public access thousands of historical documents that were available for years, including some already published by the State Department and others photocopied years ago by private historians.”

Although most experts believe that this activity has been driven primarily by the CIA and other spy agencies, the Times article described the general feeling among historians, that

“it is part of a marked trend toward greater secrecy under the Bush administration, which has increased the pace of classifying documents, slowed declassification and discouraged the release of some material under the Freedom of Information Act.”

In a related story, not reported on by the major media, mounting evidence collected by this writer over the past 5+ years suggests that the White House has ordered the highest level of secrecy regarding a certain document titled the “Constitution of the United States.” It seems that provisions of this document are considered by the Bush administration to be a threat to presidential authority and national security. Despite my numerous inquiries, Bush spokespeople will neither deny nor confirm the existence of any such Constitution. I’ll keep investigating this one.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Your Senator Does Not Need a Free iPod

When I first heard about this, I thought it was a joke. Now I have confirmed that the Intellectual Property Action Committee ("IPac")is raising money to give video iPods to all members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

IPAC feels that these senators need a first-hand experience to better understand the issues of digital rights management (drm). The iPods will come pre-loaded with "examples of the cultural richness made possible by sharing and collaboration - public domain content, Creative Commons content, and audio messages about the importance of balanced copyright policy. It will be engraved with the words "listen to the people." And it will arrive at each Senator's campaign office with a letter of explanation and a list of all the people who helped pay for it."

I predict a few things will happen with these iPods:

  • Hopefully at least some of the senators will say "no thank you"
  • Many of them will be given away to children or granchildren, unopened
  • Pretty much all of the pre-loaded content will be deleted without ever being listened to - assuming the senators can figure out how

Regardless of what happens to these devices, it's absurd to think it will have any impact on the drm issue.

One interesting note: this appears to be a non-partisan issue. The list of senators for whom IPAC has purchased iPods so far is split pretty evenly between red and blue. I'm hoping that at least Barbara Boxer and John Kerry will fall into my "no thank you" category, though I doubt it.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Al Qaeda HR Policies

According to a story from CNN today, West Point has released two studies regarding the organizational structure of Al Qaeda. Incredibly, this terrorist organization offers a better vacation policy than most US corporations. This is similar to other research about gangs that offer disability payments and death benefits to members and their families. Of course, Al Qaeda and the Crips do demand unquestioning loyalty from their members, who have an above-average chance of being killed under extremely violent and painful circumstances. Wait, maybe they're not that much different than some American corporations? I wasn't comforted much by the reports that the miners killed recently in Pennsylvania "didn't suffer."

Here's my favorite part of the CNN story, or read the whole thing:
Indeed, some of the documents used by researchers indicate that al Qaeda has vacation plans -- seven days every three weeks for married members, five days a month for bachelors -- and provides its members with 15 days of sick leave a year.

One document states that al Qaeda operatives must request vacation 10 weeks in advance, and another document outlines the pay scale for members: about $108 a month for married members, less if they're single and more if they have more than one wife.
This kind of plan probably wouldn't work in the US. You couldn't pay me enough to have more than one wife!

DIY - DNA

I saw this product displayed with the impulse items at the Party City check out last night. Not totally sure why, but I find the whole concept extremely disturbing. Pardon the grainy pics. It's the first time using my handy new phone/pda/camera.



From the maker:

The easy and effective way to keep your child's personal records!
The kit includes:
-One disposable camera
-One personal profile sheet
-One non-toxic ink strip for fingerprinting
-One DNA bag

The personal profile sheet enables you to record a Complete Physical Profile of your child, which includes:

-Space for a color photo
-Height, weight and date-of-birth
-Physical Characteristics (birthmarks)
-Blood Type
-Medical Information
-Medical conditions and medications
-Allergies
-Finger Prints
-Instructions for saving hair for DNA
-Dental Chart