Monday, June 30, 2008

The final countdown

Seymour Hersh has an article in The New Yorker that scares the hell out of me.

According to Hersh, President George Bush has persuaded key congressmen to go along with covert operations inside Iran--$400 million worth. They're getting nervous about the operations being more extensive than they bargained for: mainly gathering nuclear information. Something like authorizing military action in Iraq a few years ago.

Evidently the operation includes funding dissidents. An excerpt:
The use of Baluchi elements, for example, is problematic, Robert Baer, a former C.I.A. clandestine officer who worked for nearly two decades in South Asia and the Middle East, told me. “The Baluchis are Sunni fundamentalists who hate the regime in Tehran, but you can also describe them as Al Qaeda,” Baer told me. “These are guys who cut off the heads of nonbelievers—in this case, it’s Shiite Iranians. The irony is that we’re once again working with Sunni fundamentalists, just as we did in Afghanistan in the nineteen-eighties.” Ramzi Yousef, who was convicted for his role in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is considered one of the leading planners of the September 11th attacks, are Baluchi Sunni fundamentalists.

Hersh suggests that the White House, particularly Vice President Dick Cheney, is more than interested in direct military action, but the military has been resisting.

Here's the thing: it's Hersh, who has a long record of digging up some pretty well-buried secrets. His stories hold up.

On the other hand, it's Hersh, with a track record of hyperbole when speaking about the stories he covers. He has more Deep Throats than the Mitchell Brothers, and that always makes me nervous. I have to go back over his stories and winnow the sources he names into column A and the unnamed sources into column B. It's almost impossible to check a lot of his facts until other reporters catch up.

He's got enough for me this time. I'm just desperately counting the days until we have a new President.

Labor papers

Whose bright idea was the Department of Labor website?

Let's ask another way: Who is most likely to be computer illiterate, to not have internet or even a computer? My guess would be the jobless and those making minimum wage. In practice, people needing work are least likely to 'surf DOL' and look at job announcements.

But all they have to do is drop by the Department of Labor. Sure, they can fire up the Hummer and cruise on down, or maybe stop at the Library instead to save gas. These Laborites have been working for the government too long.

Oh, and once you get there you've got to register before you see any announcements. Also, "Job seekers must be approved by the CNMI Department of Labor before their Résumés will be displayed."

It's meant to control the make-believe job postings, the Your Help Not Wanted ads, to catch illegal workers. I can see that, better enforcement has been overdue for a loooong time. How does it help when you're denying access to the very job-hunters you're protecting? Keep your system and require its use, you probably have to justify the grant that funded it anyway. It's a good control, but job announcements should be advertised publicly in newspapers or on the air.

Unclean hands

I have a hidden agenda, of course, having boarded this train of thought when I went looking for an old advertisement in the Saipan Tribune. I suddenly noticed many days when there weren't any ads. The thought had been like a pesky mosquito buzzing around in the back of my head and I finally nailed it. I'd chuckled when the 'job announcements' dwindled from a few pages to a few lines. All that easy, steady revenue gone, it must drive the publishers bonkers, thought I.

But wait, today I saw that the display ads have dwindled too. That's what's been bothering me. Two Tan Holdings companies, the government's Wise Women Project and Carmen Safeway hold Sunday's Tribune together. That's all she er, wrote and it won't pay the bills. I went through back issues of the Tribune and the Marianas Variety (Only a couple because I usually read it online). Uh, oh. Unless fat Friday issues and government notices can float the boats, they're leaking money.

Happily, that means a bigger news hole, paradise for a news junkie like me who prefers paper cuts and ink-smudged fingers to squinting at a screen. It's a fleeting pleasure because I know it can't last. Cutting pages (four at a time) would help a little, though not enough and it's noticeable when you get lower than 28 or possibly 24.

Which brings us to the classified ads. Not only would my rationalization give the newspapers more revenue, it's actually a good idea. I might have thought of it before, but it seems I'm as disconnected from the real world as those folks at Labor.

The subject would make a great editorial, except people would think it a tad too self-serving.

PS: Today's Saipan Tribune was full of ads. Hard to categorize because I only glanced: alien workers snapped up all of my copies in less than an hour because of that Don't hold your breath headline about green cards.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Plucking a lame duck

I never really understood Hunter S. Thompson's visceral loathing of Richard M. Nixon, but I'm getting closer.

Seven years of watching George Bush neuter government agencies, loot the treasury and edit the Constitution will do that. It wasn't so at first: he seemed like an affable front man for Business, as usual. Someone who could become best buddies with a former opponent, like his father and Bill Clinton. Maybe it was the affected Texas drawl, or that I really did want to think he was just another Good Ol' Boy.

Now I watch his eyes. In unguarded moments the 'aw shucks' wide-eyed innocence disappears and you see the mean Machiavellian squint of Dick Cheney. I've come to believe he regains his composure by imagining his tormenter in Gitmo.

'You don't support the troops if you're against the war', he wheedles, 'embedding' brave men and women in our consciousness so we ignore the privatized bounty he's bestowed on favored corporations. Where's Dwight Eisenhower when we need him?

Or Teddy Roosevelt, for that matter. Environmental agencies have been filled with eunuchs who roll over and present their empty sacks when his underlings start editing scientific publications. Their staffs have been gutted, their rules watered down.

There is so much incompetence in so many agencies it must be intentional. That's one way to fight big government: starve it and sell off what's left.

We had a chance to show how a great nation deals with its enemies in 2001. The world was behind us. They, and the U.S., got George Bush instead, shrilling sound bites and campaign slogans from the back of his hobby horse.

Now we've got our Homeland Security superagency. It can't deal with hurricanes, but by golly it can require that every state look out for Improvised Explosive Devices. Why shouldn't the government monitor calls and confiscate laptops? It's a small price to pay: there hasn't been another 911. Absolutely right. The U.S. Postal Service should be opening all of our mail to prevent another anthrax attack.

How do you disprove a negative? More specifically, exactly which of our preventive measures would have saved the World Trade Center and 3,000 lives? The buildings had already been attacked, and by Islamic radicals. I wouldn't call it a failure of intelligence, but a failure to be intelligent.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Half of what?

This is what I hate about stories based on unreleased reports.

Dick Pierce, the Governor's elfin trade adviser, apparently leaked parts of the draft Government Accountability Office report and a Department of Interior funded economic report on federalization effects to the Saipan Tribune.

Nothing wrong with that, you might say. We all want to know how federalized labor and immigration might affect us. Yeah, but. What assumptions are made in both reports? Are the prospects as bleak as painted and planted? Gov. Benigno R. Fitial cited a 50 percent decline in Gross Domestic Product in his Sue You speech and Pierce dutifully repeated that "Our economy would be cut in half." Half of what? Our now threadbare garment economy? The Japan Airline years?

Spin cycle

The spin doctor is in. These reports are being used to justify the Governor's quixotic quest for legal action. It's hard to argue against them if they're State Secrets.

They may be right. I don't know. How can I? What I see now is a parade of locals and non-residents asking for work. That parade is very likely to stop in a year or two. For now, Shell, Mobil, CUC and the shipping companies are driving businesses into the ground. It's not the threat of federalized immigration or the $4.05 minimum wage.

Borrow me $4 million

Rep. Victor B. Hocog says they're looking at raiding the Marianas Public Land Trust for four of the six million dollars needed for temporary power from Aggreko International.

Woops, how do they stick with "strict standards of fiduciary care" while making " reasonable, careful and prudent investments" on this one?

Fool me twice, shame on me

The Commonwealth Development Authority has already tossed $45.5 million into that black hole. Maybe they've read up on fiduciary duty: while forgiveness was 'authorized' they didn't go for it. Oh, but CDA did give Gov. Benigno R. Fitial another $4 million two months after the first bill.

So I suppose MPLT will have to stand in line for repayment.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Focus on the family man

James Dobson just doesn't like to be left out. He's come out with an attack on Barack Obama. (You can find his scree and part of the two-year-old Obama speech he hates on the NPR website. I tried to visit Focus on the Family but the server was down. The Lord works in mysterious ways.)

Dobson has reportedly said he wouldn't vote for John McCain either; apparently he's 'not conservative enough.' Geez, what's he got to do to burnish his back to the Bush credentials? Advocate stoning? They say McCain has offered to meet with Dobson, who's holding out for an audience at his palace.

My impression is that Obama is encouraging Christians to participate in politics, just take it easy on the Old Testament savagery like genocide, slavery and murder. After all, we don't want to be like Malaysia and Indonesia-- check that, they're our friends. Okay, like Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. Wait, I've got it. We don't want to be a theocracy like Iran.

I really don't know what to make of it, except that maybe he's having second thoughts. The anti-abortionist in hand is worth two in the Bush. And maybe McCain will join the fray, or even come calling.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Windmill Power Revolution

If the Commonwealth Utilities Corporation got some windmills up, maybe some of our leaders would stop attacking the federal government.

Hard on the heels of Oscar Rasa's impassioned (and shrill) appearance on the John Gonzales Show* Gov. Benigno R. Fitial paid for a special edition to announce he may sue the feds over the new labor law. The Saipan Tribune has the story; it must have been past the Marianas Variety's bedtime.

Acting Labor Secretary Cinta Kaipat and "Special" Legal Counsel Howard Willens rounded out the show, with a special guest appearance by Mel Gray of Immigration.

The Governor's not suing, mind you, just jetting off to ask a law firm if he should. I believe the stock answer is "Where's the check?" Gonzales, to his credit, did ask how much this was going to cost, but Willens didn't really answer. All of the 'panelists' sounded like they were lobbying against a proposed bill.

Suing to sue or suing to negotiate? Doesn't matter, does it? Just stop. The law has passed; deal with it. Have at amending it. Dig in when the regulations are being written.

(Cutting) In the same vein

Oh, we can't forget Rep. Stanley M. Torres and his resurrected proposal to "reexamine" the Covenant.

It's a good thing the Commonwealth is flush, otherwise it would be upsetting to see these gentlemen trying to flush money away.

* Two questions: Am I reading too much into the tone of his questions? It sounds like the Covenant Party has a Washington Delegate candidate after all; and, I haven't read the law in 20 years, but is it legal for Gonzales to hold down both jobs?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Why I almost support Obama

New York Times Op-Ed columnist David Brooks nailed Barack Obama's public persona.

I've been having similar thoughts, but he catches most of them so I'll be lazy. It's not the first time Brooks has done it.

If you read people who are willing to look behind the curtain without getting into the doctrinaire 'left' or 'right' talking points, tales of people who "think" Obama agrees with them appear with surprising regularity.

That would include me.

Can the Con-con

Rep. Rosemond B. Santos' proposal to have another Constitutional Convention is a lousy idea.

The lawmaker claims it would be cheaper than changing the Constitution 'piecemeal' because of the 25 initiatives (including hers?) that have been proposed.

Santos said this number indicates that the Constitution is in need of change, according to the Saipan Tribune.

Of course, it might also indicate that people are fed up and don't know how else to make changes.

And the argument that $25,000 was requested for education on only one initiative? (Implying 25 X $25,000, I think) That's a lot like bragging about how much you saved when you bought more than you needed because it was on sale.

Let the pros and cons have their say in the media: the newspapers are always looking for an excuse to do a special feature.

The current initiatives (including hers)will be 'educated' to us and put up for a vote before there can be a Con-con. Do we really want to spend money on another election, and on the building, power, supplies, staff and stipend for conventioneers?

Will they amend the amendments, or come up with a new batch?

Ah well, the CNMI Constitution says "The legislature, or the governor in the event the legislature fails to act, shall submit this question to the voters at a regular general election no later than ten years after the question was last submitted and as provided by law."

She's right about that part. So pass the resolution. Educate me. Then I'll vote no.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Chicken without sexual life

That name didn't make it, so you'll have to order
steamed pullet
at the Beijing Olympics.

China is pulling out all of the stops, and that includes an official English translation of restaurant items. With some resistance. According to Reuters:
I don't like this new naming method, it's abandoning Chinese tradition," one Internet comment declared. "There are many stories in the names of these dishes."
I can understand the concern. Who wouldn't want to know the tale behind "husband and wife's lung slice" and "Bean curd made by a pock-marked woman"?

I went to the tourism bureau website to see if there were more gems, but my Chinese is a little rusty. The link for 'English' helpfully redirected me to the Beijing Tourism Administration. Good stuff, but not what I was looking for.

I've heard about 'undesirables' being relocated temporarily, about polluting businesses being suspended. Now they're taking steps against doping: a good thing since that's another market in which China has forged ahead. Reuters again:
Wu (Zhen, deputy commissioner of the State Food and Drug Administration) said investigations, both open and covert, carried out over the last year had discovered 151 enterprises producing or distributing anabolic steroids, Erythropotein (EPO) or human growth hormone (HGH).

They had been punished, Wu said, some having their licenses to trade stopped.
Strong action indeed, and they're hiring 40,000 smoking inspectors to prowl public places. Here's the out-of-context scoop from Sun Xianli of the Patriotic Health Campaign Committee: "The idea is that the inspectors should provide a good example by not smoking in their own venue."

"Inspectors don't have the authority to issue fines, but can report venues where smoking is allowed," he added.

The toilet signs are a great idea, especially in some of Saipan's karaoke bars. I want the job since I thought of it first.

Getting the lead out

I've been stewing about oil companies' greed for months, and it's got very little to do with gasoline prices *.

Where they can get away with it, they're still poisoning people with leaded gasoline. Okay, the United States still allows lead for specialized uses: planes **, boats and off-road vehicles, but I thought the world had dumped that poison decades ago. We've known about it since the 1920's.

Then I saw a throw-away line in a Philippine Inquirer story on another subject. 'That can't be true,” I thought. I was appalled by what came up after a little web-surfing.

Big oil happily trades lives for profits wherever and however it's allowed. The Australian LEAD Group tries to track countries that still allow lead additives, but there's a big difference between having restrictions and enforcing them.

According to an article in BusinessWorld (Philippines) "Figures from the World Wide Survey of Motor Gasoline Quality showed that the levels of lead added to fuel in third world countries were consistently twice as high as those added to the fuel in Western countries."

Since my search was in English, the Philippines popped up more than other countries. I, for one, suspect their experience applies to other places where big money meets weak governance.

Lives are cheap and gas is dear. Since leaded fuel is more efficient, it's hard to see any government stepping up enforcement at this time.

So I'm angry, and helpless.

* Their dirty little secret? Whether we've reached the 'tipping point' or not, they don't really want to increase production

** If you know any bat-shit crazy pilots, well, there you are.

*** One interesting item: because our gas comes from Singapore, Saipan stations were pumping lead into the 1980's.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Good for Tina Sablan

Rep. Tina Sablan and two other lawmakers deserve credit for voting against a bill to privatize the Commonwealth Utilities Corporation. I single out Sablan because the Saipan Tribune didn't report why Francisco Dela Cruz and Edward Salas voted no.

Don't get me wrong, I've wanted CUC to be privatized for more than 20 years. If it's a crooked deal, then go after the bad guys.

But I'd have to agree with Sablan:

“Previous efforts to privatize CUC failed primarily because they were rushed and involved a multitude of procurement irregularities. By rushing this bill, I feel we're just repeating history,” she said.

(CUC irony: Saved this morning, but the power went out just as I was about to post it)

Steinbrenner's foul remark

Another stupid Steinbrenner. Shadows are getting shorter, basketball is finishing up and I'm ready for summer.

I don't have George III (nod to Red Smith) to ridicule anymore, but it looks like son Hank will fill in very well.

"The National League needs to join the 21st century," he says, lobbying for the Designated Hitter because pitcher Chien-Ming Wang got injured running the bases. You know, playing baseball.

Let's see, his 21st Century innovation came in with leisure suits and Nehru jackets. Put pinstripes on either and throw them on the Yankees. Then we'll talk about the Designated Hitter in the National League.

Baseball players should be able to play baseball. If your pitcher can't hit, tough. Remember the big fuss about Roger Clemens going to the National League where he might actually have to stand at the plate after beaning an opposing player?

Marketing people can worry about where to put over-the-hill sluggers and clueless pitchers. Look into aluminum bats, try red-white-and-blue balls like the American Basketball Association. Me? I want to watch the game.

Trial and error

I'm wondering if Patrick Calvo can get a fair trial.

On Monday, Calvo was "charged for sexually abusing a minor", according to the Marianas Variety. Oops, new reporter, but the Editor really should have changed 'for' to 'with'.

This after a weekend-long manhunt, complete with SWAT team.

He surrendered to police at 7:30 Monday morning. That sounds more like a man who doesn't want to spend the weekend in jail than a desperate criminal on the run.

Just out of curiosity, what time was the arrest warrant issued on Friday? Does the way this was handled seem unusual?

Granted, he's a public figure as President of the Rotary Club and as a candidate for Washington Delegate, but it appears he's already been tried in the press, with the possible exception of KSPN2.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Pit stop

It's nice to learn something new every day, but a new fetish? Armpit sniffer gets jail and cane. (Reuters)

The headline would normally be more than I really want to know, except the Law of Unintended Consequences popped into my head. Would this veddy British form of punishment attract a certain er, class of lawbreaker to Singapore?

Let's get political

While I'm mentioning this Law, how about President George Bush and his co-pilot (Maverick) opposing a new GI Bill because it might encourage veterans to leave the services? Does the same concern apply to throwing often unaudited money at private security firms so they can hire mercenaries?

That's no heifer, that's....

A Henny Youngman moment about fetishes. Have you been following the Appeals Court judge who dropped down to the District Court for a bestiality case? He declared a mistrial after he was caught posting the pictures on his website.

No pictures, sorry (I think). Why do these things always happen in the 9th Circuit?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Landing rites

The already-troubled Commonwealth Ports Authority will lose $106,000 in revenue when Continental Airlines stops its direct Manila flights, according to the Saipan Tribune.

Here we go: higher costs for businesses, huge inconveniences for contract workers and the few remaining NCLEX takers. Most importantly, medical referrals will be in trouble. Our politicians will be inconvenienced going to 'the Farm' and even our 'fly-by-night' educational industry can expect a hit.

The word on the street is that the Saipan Continental office will close.

Our ace in the hole may be Northwest adding flights in July. Flights to Honolulu and Las Vegas should become increasingly expensive, giving us a competitive advantage. Okinawa may trump that card,of course: in the past that was the choice of many Japanese travelers in similar circumstances.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Size matters, and random observations

I loved the Marianas Variety's survey of Marianas gas prices: Rota $5.30, Tinian $5.00, Saipan $4.80 and Guam $4.57 per gallon. The differences are about what you'd expect given the islands' size and other factors. For good measure, we get a peek at $6.00 gasoline in the Federated States of Micronesia.

So we're all getting 'hosed' equally. The closing paragraph was entertaining, though not very amusing:

"Robert Koppen of South Pacific Petroleum Company, which runs Circle K gas stations, declined to comment, saying oil companies don't normally discuss gas price issues."

Fish stories

An anonymous poster had a cow because of my ruminations about the Marianas Variety and Saipan Tribune perhaps, er, leaning one way or another on the proposed Marine Monument. Follow the links and see how they handle the same story. No comment here; I want to be fair and balanced. You decide. (Gee, I always wanted to write that. Does Fox have the copy write?)

Site sighting

This is just a quick jab at my pal Ed Stevens for writing "re-zero your sites" in his Friday column. Tch, coming from an experienced writer and self-proclaimed gun nut. I wouldn't even mention it, but he once mocked my affection for The Elements of Style.

Round three to the Governor

The House of Representatives may oppose Gov. Benigno R. Fitial's 'emergency' takeover of the Commonwealth Ports Authority, but it's been outfoxed. The Governor has extended the state of emergency and there's nothing they can do. He's forced the board to resign, but no replacements have been appointed.

Modem well done

My modem died today. Actually, it's been in failing health for about a month, but the technician has officially pronounced it DOA. Like most trails of woe these days, the breadcrumbs seem to lead to the Commonwealth Utilities Corporation.

I suggested that, even though it was on the backup battery, it probably hadn't done the little DSL gadget any good to be reset from one to three times a day. She agreed.

I combine my trips these days, so I went mouse hunting while I was on the road. Batteries were stacked in a pyramid at PC Outlet. “Your best seller?” I asked. The clerk smiled. I'm shopping around, because mine has been warning me with strange plaintive chirps that it's not happy about working this hard. My brother's just went to the great recharger.

All of which makes me wonder about the cumulative toll on Saipan's electrical population. Many of our toys just aren't designed to be abused this way. Cycling between off and on is the most precarious part of their existence, dangerous like taking off and landing in an airplane. Add the horrendous spikes that piggyback on our already 'dirty' power and, well...

I also wonder how many backup generators are getting enough hours that they're ready for an overhaul. And, because of the economy, how many people will be like CUC and put off that maintenance.

“The mouse that roared?”

The clerk didn't get it. It's an old movie after all, and a tale of a country declaring war on the United States so it can get aid isn't very relevant here.

My chosen rodent has a microphone. “Free” earphones thrown in. No webcam yet, though I was tempted. I'm not ready to play dress-up on the net and, hmm, I'll have to see how federalized immigration would affect that other idea. You know, the sort of Call Center we're likely to get.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Monumental error

I wouldn't have run that Saipan Tribune story on the proposed Marine Monument. Study: Marine monument will infuse $333M to NMI

What's so earth-shattering that you have to use a few spoon-fed excerpts instead of waiting a week? That's sloppy journalism at best. Maybe the Tribune is staking out an editorial position in its news, that wouldn't be new. The quote from Century Travel's Dave Sablan might give us a hint.

And the Marianas Variety? Since they've come out against it editorially, they've adopted John Gourley's tactic of branding it the Pew Memorial. Yeah, let's talk about the Pew family instead of the proposal. I suppose that's one reason not to give them the 'exclusive' sneak peek.

I expect the response, probably from Mr. Gourley, to be about the article and not its content.

Make no mistake, the opposition is not limited to “some local government officials and lawmakers”, as Business Editor Stefan Sebastian would have it. I've had more than one person tell me 'I'm against it' and change the subject. They probably think I'll take off on them being uninformed, or ignorant, when I'm just asking for their views.

It's time for the supporters to look at this as a marathon, not a sprint. Extending the metaphor, elbowing in the turns is counterproductive. If it happens, it will be a matter of years, not months, of convincing, not criticizing.

Oh, I've always liked the idea. I look forward to reading the study.

Yer headline too

'Infuse' should be used in a headline... well, never, probably (and you infuse 'with' or 'into', not 'to'). On the same page, the Tribune descends into the seedy world of text messaging with 'Unidentified dead woman found in '79 was Miura's missing GF'. GF? WTF? On page five (? {I'm looking at the online edition now}) they have MVB eying a sinking ship. Arrr, matey.

But their headlines are often unintentionally entertaining, though too often in the passive voice. As in, Federal officials to descend on NMI. Nice image, are they bringing torches?

I regularly restrain my outbursts, but I've been looking for an excuse to mention the story chirping that “Resident Representative Pete A. Tenorio is by far the only one to submit his letter of intent to run as GOP candidate...” And if you've got to run press releases (they do), at least read them so we don't end up with “The Garapan Fishing Base Complex—boat launching ramp and the pier facility—will be closed off to all users and the general public starting June 27 through July 7, 2008, for the annual Liberation Day Parade.”

There's lots, but those are my current favorites. The Variety generally does better, though I wonder who slept through “Majority of government offices in the CNMI are located in buildings built before or shortly after World War II." I'd link it but the Variety search engine can't seem to find Monday's article Feds revising building code for insular areas

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Spam song

OK, so posting my email address isn't very bright. But marking the lotteries and West African money scams just takes a second--less time than the email notifications I've asked for. Occasionally you get a gem.

No gem, but if SabaluMarket! has to spam me, what the heck? How can I turn down anybody with the slogan "Buy and sell Micronesia"? Besides, the Saipan garage sale is a bit out-of-control.

It made my day with the University of Loyola at CNMI ad. No slogan, but I think it's going to be something like "Get a third-world medical degree on U.S. soil". And that's a fine picture of the Call Center nee Nauru Building on the website.

Give them a chance you say? Sure, since the Governor wants the CNMI to become the Pacific's educational center. (Maybe they'll buy the Fiesta Mall instead of building a campus) I'll just give the director/cashier a call. Where else could you get a six-month test-taking course for only $14,000?

Please note, I didn't even use this opportunity to take a shot at Emmanuel College.

I liked the baseball. Too bad it's sold out, but I'll be keeping 20x200 around. Cheap art, what a concept.

So the email adress stays posted. The Internet Cafe, like Monty Python's, doesn't offer any dishes without at least a little spam.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Conventional lobbyists get to Obama and McCain

It should be fun to see our presidential candidates wiggle out of this one. The parties are trying to get corporations to fund their conventions to the tune of $100 million-- more or less.

It's a loophole in the soft money ban John McCain co-sponsored. Barack Obama, of course, has very publicly shooed special interests away from his campaign and the Democratic National Committee.*

The parties swear the money is needed to supplement federal funds: $16.3 million apiece and another $50 million to both St. Paul Minnesota and Denver Colorado for anti-terrorism. That'll buy a lot of silly hats. (We can only hope they're not demanding an Improvised Explosive Device Hunt** with the Homeland Security dough.)

Soft on money

According to the Democrats:
“The 2008 Democratic National Convention will bring together a unique group of business leaders, high-level lawmakers, members of the national and international media and prominent academics,” said a brochure from the host committee. “This is a rare opportunity to play a leadership role in a substantive discussion on timely issues affecting your industry with company executives, scholars, elected officials and members of the media.” (New York Times)
And the Republicans? of the three co-chairmen of Mr. McCain’s presidential campaign, Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, has taken the lead in soliciting corporations on behalf of the Republican convention in St. Paul, with promises, according to literature from the Twin Cities committee, of golf outings and private dinners with Republican leaders, including Mr. McCain and other members of Congress. (New York Times)

* A thought; give Hillary Clinton something to do.

** If you're a McCainite, don't get excited. That's IED's, not IUD's.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Power ratings

I blame it all on the Commonwealth Utilities Corporation.

Random power outages have made my modem as temperamental as Greg Cruz. When there's power, and when I can finagle an internet connection, I burn my time on updates and on picking up after my kids' internet adventures. Read a few stories and woops, where's the time go?

The mood thing tops it off. What I'm thinking does not translate well. Share my thoughts? I think not. Wouldn't be prudent.

Field of dreams

On the bright side, reliable power and a $186,000 salary makes the new Washington Delegate sinecure look awfully nice. But no, in that crowded field I'd have less chance --and certainly fewer contributions-- than Lynn Knight. Maybe if I announced my Chief of Staff ahead of time; a running mate with a large family.

Just a candlelight dream. The candidates seem to fall into two groups, and it's hard to see myself as either qualified or deluded.

I'm sure Pete Tenorio or Greg Sablan would do a good job. John Gonzales, maybe, I don't know him. But what's up with that Director of Mining stuff? Too many employees to supervise? Too much work? Not enough salary?

Jeez, don't expect a shopping list, there are too many names. A primary and runoff would be the way to go, except that there's no money for one election, nevermind two.

Survivor Saipan

I'm more intrigued by the second group anyway. To an outside observer it's obvious that some of these people simply have no chance, even in a split election. Who are they talking to? Is it just about putting 'ran for' on their resume?

Unless, of course, they're counting on the 'survivor' vote. Who do you most want to vote off of the island? If that's what's going on I've got a few suggestions.