Thursday, March 31, 2005

A big mushy thank you from your hostess

I want to thank everyone who has dug deep in their pockets to make a contribution to Janet Oleszek already. Man oh man, you are an impressive and generous group of people. The first quarter filing deadline is midnight tonight, and everything you've given will make a big difference. But don't let the deadline hold you back: Janet's campaign is in fundraising mode from now till November, and anything you can give really helps, so if you've been thinking of making the click but haven't made your donation yet, do yourself a favor and invest in some good government.

It's a great feeling to be part of community like this and know that you can reach out, and people will come through for you. Thanks everyone, from my heart. Janet Oleszek is someone I have a tremendous personal and professional admiration for. You couldn't be helping out a nicer, harder working, or more deserving person. Thanks again for your generosity.

Stand up and be counted

Everyone *else* seems to want to speak for bloggers these days, so go on, and speak for yourself. :)

My name is Anahí Lazarte and I am agraduate student at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Currently I am working on a project related to political blogs. I am looking for volunteers to share their thoughts about blogging.

Here is a link to the survey:

If you know of friends or family who also read political Blogs please forward this email to them. The survey needs to be completed by Sunday, April 3, at midnight.

Your responses will help communication research to study political blogging and the experiences of Blog users. The goal is to achieve a better understanding of how individuals relate to media and the Internet, and how they perceive the political information that is available across different media.

This survey is part of a graduate course, and it is still in its developing phase. Your feedback will be very important to improve the questionnaire.

Remember, participating in this survey is voluntary, and you can withdraw at any time. This survey is confidential.

Thanks! For additional info call 313-413-2128 or send an e-mail to
Via What She Said! thanks to Media Girl.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Welcome New Readers

I've recently learned that Tsuredzuregusa has gained some new regular Virginia readers. Welcome, folks! (I hope you enjoyed The Passion of the Tchotchke while you were here.) It is always great to have new eyeballs on the page.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Yo, Virginia Bloggers

The Fairfax City Democratic Committe have a new blog, courtesy of their Chair Dan Drummond.

They're off to a great start. Go give them some bloggy support at

In their honor, I've finally got off my posterior and put together a Virginia politcal blogroll in the sidebar. It's hardcoded, so it doesn't show updates--but please go and take a look at the excellent work Virginia bloggers are producing.

Put your money where your mouth is

I've got a great big post on gender and politics and the Democrat's "big tent" on the back burner right now, that I'll hopefully be posting soon.

In the meantime I have a favor, for all my progressive political readers, and especially to feminists of any gender, and the folks upset by the latest "no girls allowed in our bloggy sandbox" spat:

Can you help a sister out?

I've just put up an ad in the sidebar for Janet Oleszek. She's running for the Virginia House of Delegates in an primary right now. The first financial reporting deadline is the end of March, and your contributions would go a long way to help her out.

The good news is, unlike federal elections, there are no contribution limits in Virginia state politics. So if you want to go online and contribute $10,000--why bless your heart, go right ahead.

But, er, back in reality (because we are part of the reality-based community after all), if you have $5, $10, or $25 you can contribute--the price of a hamburger, the price of a movie, the price of a dinner out--your contribution will make a big difference.

Want to know why there aren't more women in politics? When you want to run, the powers that be check you out, check out how much your earn, check out how much money is in your *family* and who you know...and then decide if you can bring enough money to the game. So, at 74 cents on the dollar average wages, don't be surprised that more women can't buy our way into the game. It's a plutocracy, plain and simple.

Want to know how women win in politics? When we help each other out. I'm assuming most readers here are familiar with Emily's List--they raise money for pro-choice democratic women, largely from women donors, and by pooling women's resources to work on women's issues, Emily's List candidates consistently win. When women work together, we win. In fact, Emily's List takes its name from the old fundraising adage: Early Money Is Like Yeast--It Makes the Dough Rise. Part of how candidates get money later, is by raising money early. When women help out other women candidates early in an election cycle, that early fundraising momentum establishes the candidate's credibility (what I refer to as "buying the love of the state party), and means that other donors jump onto what they see as the bandwagon of a winning campaign. One more time, with feeling: "When women work together, we win. "

Want to know why our reproductive rights, our bodies, and our self-determination are used as political currency? Because we don't have enough women in government, plain and simple.

Want to do something about it? Contribute to Janet's campaign.

She's an agressive campaigner, she is a dedicated community leader, and she's a helluva good person. She's exactly who we need in Virginia politics.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Jesus of Montreal spoiler post

I want to ask people who've seen the movie a question. But I don't want to spoil the film for anyone. So I'm asking it in the comments.

If you've seen the film, you know why I don't want to spoil it. If you haven't seen it, just go and rent it.

Tsuredzuregusa Easter Treat Bonanza

  • The Passion of the Shrimp

  • movie poster for 'The Pssion of the Shrimp'
    Go visit the entire Passion of the Shrimp art collection.

    A reprint from August, orginally thanks to the fabulous Pen-Elayne.

  • The Passion of the Tchotchke

  • last supper floaty pen
    bread goes up, bread goes down...

    Check out the whole collection, as well as The Stations of the Kitsch and a special Passover Bonus, all courtesy of Going Jesus via Anita Rowland.
    And finally...

  • The Passion of Peter Rabbit
  • Bitch Has Word presents what is now my favourite easter(-ish) story. Ever. I can't tell you how hard this made me laugh--or how happy I am my mother hasn't taken up blogging. Just go read it.

    On a different note, if you're renting movies this weekend, do yourself a favor, and check out the award-winning Denys Arcand film, Jesus of Montreal/Jésus de Montréal. You don't have to be religious, or Christian for that matter. It is a kick-ass Quebecois film that will leave you reeling. It vies for top spot as my favourite movie with Roberto Bennini's Life is Beautiful. And if you watch it I want to know what you think--especially about the ending.

    Great Blogging Milestones

    I just wanted to pass on some great news in the blogging community.

    The Progressive Women Bloggers Ring just added its 100th blog. Carla of Preemptive Karma has been very generous in pointing out that some discussions here on Tsuredzuregusa back in August about "the female loop" was part of the germinating process that got the blog ring started. In return I have to say that hard work and actual realization of the blog ring are all thanks to her. Progressive women bloggers who would like to join the blog ring can sign up here.

    Also this week, Morgaine at What She Said!" notes that the Progressive Women Who Blog Politics blogroll just welcomed their 500th blog--the appropriately named Bloodless Coup. ;) (Knowing the total, I no longer feel guitly for how long it takes me to read through the blogroll.)

    What a collection of outstanding resources. Brava, Carla and Morgaine (and Morgaine's talented crew of helpers) for the wonderful tools you have built.


    I meant to add to this post originally, Genia Stevens of Sisters Talk has made two great additions to the blogging community:

    The Blogs by Women Directory - go find great blogs bywomen on every topic you can imagine. They've added their 100th blog this week and they are aiming for 1000 blogs by June. A tremendously broad (in every sense) and inclusive resource.

    The New Jane: Blog Ad Network for Women - I'm doing my part, with a New Jane Ad in the sidebar. I'm not "ad-oriented" as a general rule, but Genia has a good thing going here for all of use, and I'd like to help out.

    Brava, Genia, and thank you.

    Wednesday, March 23, 2005

    And by the way

    The last post about tea was inspired by the latest "let's celebrate the marginalization of women in yet another sphere""where are the women bloggers" spat.

    I want to write more on blogging, gender, and self-censorship on another occasion; for the moment, I just wanted to write a non-political, non-link driven, non-phallocentric post.

    (Nothing seems to frighten armchair mysogynists, other than talk about female biology, more than chamomile tea.)

    Hah! Take that, ya buncha wankers.

    To a tea

    I have always been a tea drinker. I never got into coffee (aside from a year in France, which like a first job or a first boyfriend was such a disaster that I now feel it "didn't count" and I generally choose to forget it ever happened) and I don't drink alcohol, but I've always been a fan of all manners of tea.

    When I lived in Japan, I fell in love with green tea--because it was the first time in my life I had ever tasted quality green tea. I first tried Genmai cha in Iwate prefecture in 1987; it is a green tea with popped rice kernels which absorb the bitterness of the tea. It is still one of my favorite teas and the taste transports me, instantly, back to Japan.

    When I travelled and later worked in South Korea, I fell in love with barley tea, or mugi cha as it is called in Japan, and I still prefer cold mugi cha to American sweet tea in the summer.

    Incidentally, "sweet tea" in the Southern US is what we call "iced tea" in Canada; "iced tea" down here refers to unsweetened ice tea, which I had never heard of before moving here. But then, true Southern sweet tea here has approximately the same sugar levels as maple syrup. To order "tea" here, one must ask for "hot tea." When we first moved to Texas, I repeatedly made the mistake of trying to order "tea," and was met with blank stares of incomprehension (stares that were usually reserved for the occasions I forgot myself and spoke with *two* syllable words). Given that Americans don't seem to even drink tea all that much--as evidenced by the fact that when my husband orders "hot tea" with cream, it is often helpfully served with a slice of lemon already placed inside the cup--I find it bizarre that they have felt a need to develop a proprietary language of tea.

    I have no patience for proprietary language. I despise Starbucks, and avoid it like the plague, but on the rare occasion I find myself inside their cursed establishment, I refuse to speak their silly marketroid-speak and order, in plain English, a "small," "medium," or "large." Often the staff don't understand me. English was perfectly functional before Starbucks decided to reinvent it, and while I have happily studied and acquired some proficiency in "real" languages, I don't consider "Starbuckian" to be one.

    I'm not quite old enough to be a curmedgeon, but I'm working on it. The antioxidants in the tea must be keeping me young despite myself.

    I also have a passing knowledge of herbalism, and look forward in the new aparment to unpacking (into the pantry! a real live pantry!) jars of lavender, chamomile, mint, clover blossoms--and medicinal nasties like senna pod and valerian. In fact, since those boxes were never unpacked at this address (too sick to bother), I'm excited to *discover* which herbs I still have.

    I find the current commodification/yuppification/gentrification of tea to be a bit of an annoyance. Does tea need to be upscale? Does everything have to be super-packaged and super-marketed? It's like the gentrification of crafts--which a blog I was reading this week (and I forget which one! Pipe up if you are reading this so I can give due credit) pointed out was originally about thrift, and is now about mass consumerism. I drink tea because I *like* it--so the many johnny-come-lately, tea-poseurs are a bother. On the other hand, tea has beneficial properties, and isn't downright bad for you like coffee is (regardless of what studies bought and paid for by the Coffee Marketing Board might have to say), so if the trendiness of tea helps wean people off coffee, I suppose I can't complain.

    Our last aparment in Vancouver was around the corner from the eponymousT, a tea specialty shop that was just a pleasure to visit. They always had free samples, the staff was knowledgeable, friendly and helpful in a down-to-earth way (i.e., in a Vancouver-way, not an I'm-on-cocaine/TGIFriday's way), and the teas were of spectacular quality. They sell their own blends and will custom-make teas to order--thinking right now about Old Blue Eyes I can aaaalmost smell it, aaaaaaalmost taste it. When we got married, our teeny-tiny wedding didn't warrant a custom tea (nor could we afford it--we were dirt poor and I was sick and expected to die, so the wedding was a very low-key affair), but we went in and talked to the staff about the cake we were serving (my favourite - the vegan carob-walnut cake from The Naam), and they helped us choose a tea that would complement the cake. We decided on the Golden Assam, a veritable champagne of black tea, and I kept some aside for special occasions for years afterwards. (Writing about The Naam's carob walnut cake, on top of T, has now made me completely homesick for Vancouver. The fact that it is raining outside right now probably contributes.) One day, we stopped in for tea, and it turned out that The Food Network was there, and we filmed an ID spot for them: "We're in Vancouver, British Columbia and you're watching the Food Network." Got our tea for free too. Neither of us expected to be on television, and we walked out of the house looking like hell--and since them, various people have mentioned seeing the spot. Ah well.

    Thanks to Watermark, I've just learned that Adagio Teas is offering goodies for mentioning them in a blog post. Well, I am happy to say in all honesty that I haven't tried their tea, but I thank them both for their offer of tea to try, and also for inspiring me to write a long-rambly post about tea. Watermark writes "They hooked me with their unique website and their savvy respect for blogs." I'll give them credit for that--I've spent the last month looking at Virginia political websites that are crimes against graphic design and web protocols, if not humanity itself, and the Adagio site is clean, esthetically pleasing, and easy to navigate. (Come to think of it, a tea pot would do a better job in the legislature than a lot of our delegates, too.) From a design/user-interface perspective, I appreciate the reviews built into the site as well. In addition to about every kind of tea you could think of (Black Tea, Flavored Black Tea, Oolong Tea, White Tea, Green Tea, Herbal Tea, Rooibos Tea, and Decaf Tea), they have an attractive selection of teaware as well. If you'd like to give them a try, the information is all here. It looks like they have been directly soliciting bloggers as well--it is nice to see bloggers taken seriously, in an appropriate way. Functionally, Adagio is rewarding bloggers for a positive Google bomb--the more I think about it, the more it strikes me as a brilliant idea. I'll report back on if I do indeed receive anything from them and what I think. Hats off to innovative marketing that rewards both parties.

    Teaware brings me to my next question, for any habitual tea drinkers still reading at this point: what kind of "equipment" do you use? We have an electric kettle that detaches from its base, that we bought in Canada. The kettle is old enough that it has been bashed around a bit, and we're looking to replace it soon. I'd prefer something that isn't plastic--stainless steel inside would be fine, glass would be even better. Any suggestions?

    For tea paraphenalia, we just bought the husband a Bodum travel mug with a built-in French Press. The concept is *great*--but the design is a bit of a problem. Unless he heats the cup thoroughly first, it doesn't seal tightly. So, having just bemoned the trendification of tea, I now have to confess we are on the hunt for a new french press travel mug, and we'd love recommendations.

    Back to Japan. When I worked in Osaka, I used to take the train in to work, and have breakfast at 8:00 a.m. every morning at a restaurant that catered to salaryman called "Bisque Doll." I had a choice between the "A set" and the "B set", which included coffee or black tea, a minature green salad with ginger dressing, a piece of fua-fua toast about two inches thick that reduced in actuality to approx 1 tsp of flour and a square foot of air, a hard-boiled or soft-boiled egg, and a businessman magazine with a soft-core porn centerfold that managed even with complex orgy shots never to show a single strand of public hair. Ah, Japan. I think that was the first time I had ever seen a french press. The breakfast tray included a timer to indicate when it was time to press down the plunger.

    The husband approaches tea the same way he approaches computers: with a great appreciation for hardware. So, he is also looking for a good way to keep tea *warm* in the house. He doesn't like tea cozies, and we both agree that the chintzy-fondue-set-inspired tea racks with tea lights underneath little bit too silly and unsubstantial for us--not to mention we drink enough tea that we'd go broke buying the candlest. We've used a cheap coffee maker to keep tea warm before, but loose tea is still a problem. We worked for a Taiwanese company in Vancouver that had a "tea machine" for making tea for guests, that would steep tea and keep it warm. I assumed that if anyone made such a gadget it would be Zojirushi, but I haven't been able to locate anything similar.

    These days, I am drinking a lot of oolong tea, on the recommendation of my acupuncturist (the fabulous John Kang of Richmond, who works very hard to keep me running smoothly, despite my body's worst efforts to not get better); the husband is alternating between a mate-based chai, and white tea. I suppose that makes us so relatively esoteric that Red State pundits haven't even got around to hating us yet. We'll just have to wait our turns.

    It's about Abortion, Stupid

    Republic of T asks what's the difference between Terri Schiavo and Sun Hudson?

    The difference isn't about race or economic status: it's about stagecraft, about symbol manipulation, about postmodernism--about evaluating human beings in terms of their exploitable potential as religious-political icons.

    And What Do I Know has broken the code:
    ...But it's not ignorance of the facts; these people don't care that poor Terri has no functioning brain, that her cerebral cortex doesn't exist. In fact, that's exactly WHY they've chosen her for their right-to-life poster girl.

    In poor Terri, they've found the perfect fetus-surrogate.

    Here's a fully-formed fetus-like adult, who smiles, blinks, perhaps sucks her thumb, with help. She even stars in her very own DVD! If they can get a judge somewhere, anywhere—a congress will do even better—to declare a person without a cerebral cortex has a right to live despite the attempts of her husband (read "mother") to intervene, then they've won an important battle....

    [Emphasis added.]

    The political agendas behind the Republicans' overreaching machinations to invade the Schiavo family are complex and multifold: it is about red meat for their religious extremist base; it is about trampling states' rights; it is about the public exercise of power, and in this case, thinly-veiled theocracy; it is about full-out assault on the separation of church and state; it is about fascism...the list goes on. Just make sure you add abortion to that list.


    What book are you?

    You're The Guns of August!

    by Barbara Tuchman

    Though you're interested in war, what you really want to know is what causes war. You're out to expose imperialism, militarism, and nationalism for what they really are. Nevertheless, you're always living in the past and have a hard time dealing with what's going on today. You're also far more focused on Europe than anywhere else in the world. A fitting motto for you might be "Guns do kill, but so can

    Take the Book Quiz
    at the Blue Pyramid.

    I don't know about the focus on Europe, but otherwise, it seems the book jacket fits.

    Via What do I do now.

    Monday, March 21, 2005

    What are you reading?

    Via Fragmentary Blue:

    1. Grab the nearest book.
    2. Open the book to page 123.
    3. Find the fifth sentence.
    4. Post the text of the next 3 sentences on your blog along with these instructions.
    5. Don’t you dare dig for that “cool” or “intellectual” book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest.
    There was an issue or rum, and everybody breathed sweetly on everybody else. A battalion mess was set up in the cave that had belonged to Number 3 platoon's first section, and there were stories of wassailing and Mac singing rude songs to celebrate their triumphal landing in Italy.
    They could all hear the noise of battle in Carroceto and Aprilia but there was a lot they couldn't hear, hand-to-hand fighting with bayonets and grenades.

    Any Old Iron, by Anthony Burgess
    I'm on a kick of reading Anthony Burgess, William Golding, Graham Greene, and Jeanette Turner Hospital these days. I've also recently read my local library branch's total collection of P.D. James.

    Jeanette Turner Hospital is an Australian writer, with an intoxicatingly surreal, non-linear style. (The narrative may sometimes get away from me as the reader, but I never feel like she has let go of the reins as the writer--which is my standard for non-linear writing.) She also writes great unconventional, uppity women protagonists and supporting characters--that generally get the crap kicked out of them (often literally) for transgressing the boundaries of patriarchal society. Don't let me understate this: her novels can be absolutely brutal. Because I'm sick right now, I have little tolerance for violence, but the full-out conflict in her novels doesn't bother me the way, say, US political news does--perhaps because the characters are struggling for a worthy goal; because the violence is contextually realistic rather than gratuitous (her most horrifying scenes take place "off screen" a la Hitchcock, and are all the more terrible as a result; no violence porn here); and because her characters have some estimation of the risks, walk into danger with their eyes open, pay the consequences, and then get back up to look for more trouble.

    If you're looking for powerful, moving, and troubling fiction, I'd recommend starting with Oyster, followed by Due Preparations for the Plague.

    Truth by Numbers

    Q How many American soldiers died while in custody of the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam War (i.e., between March 15, 1962 and March 28,1973)?
    A 114 -- from all causes

    Q How many Iraqi prisoners, i.e., soldiers and civilians, have died while in custody of the United States during the 2 year and counting illegal invasion of Iraq?
    A 108 as of March 17, 2005 -- mostly from "violent causes"


  • The North Vietnamese killed 114 POWs in captivity over 11 years, or an average of just over 10 per year.

  • The US has killed 108 Iraqi prisoners in 2 years, or an average of 54 per year. The US has killed over 5 times more prisoners per year than North Vietnam did.
  • Look in the mirror, America. Look in the goddamned mirror.

    A Joyous Floating Friend to Brighten Your Day

    August Strindberg with his joyous floating friend Helium depicted on a mousepad I just stumbled across Strindberg & Helium via Barak Yedidia's Blog. The site includes 4 animated shorts (with the promise of more to come!) showing the adventures of that famous Swede August Strindberg, granted somewhat of a downer kind of guy, along with his joyous, floating friend, Helium--who functions as a kind of spherical, pink, floating greek chorus.

    Don't you wish *you* had your own personal joyous, floating friend?


    My family has always loved surreal, random, absurdist stuff like this... I understand that people who come from more normal families or had more normal childhoods may not be able to appreciate the wonder of Strindberg & Helium. What a sad, bleak world that must be.

    Sunday, March 20, 2005


    I've pulled some of the mess out of the sidebar, added CS Thota's BlogMap at the bottom (more on that later), made a space for a Virginia political blogroll, and weeded out the blogroll.

    In fact, I may have weeded the blogroll too enthusiastically.

    I didn't realize that so many people had been bloggered by Blogger lately, and I assumed that some blogs were defunct that I now realize may have just been having technical difficulties.

    For example: Youngfox Canada. Is he still around?

    If I've weeded out your site and you are in fact still alive and kicking, please let me know and I'll rectify the error promptly.

    You see?--housekeeping is *dangerous.*

    What's going on in Virginia's House District 37?

    James at Virginia Progressive just raised the question, and my reply was so long I'm reposting it here.

    James writes:
    The 37th is Chap Petersen's district. Janet [Oleszek] and David Bulova are vying for the nomination to replace him. Is Chap running there as well? I haven't gotten a straight answer on that one. Anyone know???
    My reply:
    James, there isn't really a straight answer. The situation in HD37 has even the party regulars confused.

    Here is my understanding. Please take this with a grain of salt and verify it with other sources.

    Currently, Chap has his name on the June 14th primary ballot *twice,* for his House District seat and for Lieutenant Governor. (Virginia election law allows him to do this.)

    Chap also told a local paper last month that he would ultimately choose to run for only one of those two seats, and on April 6 (the date of the General Assembly's veto session), he will make a public announcement as to which position he is actually running for. Given the work he has put into his LG race and the money he has raised, he is generally expected to pick the LG race, but for the moment, no one knows what he will be announcing.

    In the meantime, as the situation stands, the Democratic party has asked that Democrats interested in his seat not challenge Chap in the primary, which both candidates (of course) agreed with. However, the two primary campaigns have been preparing to deal with a number of different scenarios:

    1. On April 6, Chap announces he is running for Lieutenant Governor, and removes his name from the primary ballot for the House of Delegates seat.

    In this case, candidates will need to collect ballot petitions signatures to qualify for the June 14 primary.

    2. On April 6, Chap announces he is not running for LG, but will run again for his House seat.

    In this case, the other candidates would graciously withdraw. I don't know their legal options for dispensing funds raised in their HD37 candidate committees.

    3. Before Chap told the local papers about his pending April 6 announcement, candidates also had to consider a third scenario: Chap keeps his name on the primary ballot for both positions and wins the LG nomination. At that point, there would be NO democratic candidate for the house seat. The Democratic party would then hold a firehouse primary (or special primary) on June 25. Fortunately, since Chap let on that he'd be making a public choice on April 6 between the two seats, this no longer seems to be a contingency.

    So if you find people are confused about what's going on, it is for good cause: HD37 is in the middle of a very confusing situation.

    It is obviously a great challenge to explain this mess to the voters--and even party regulars aren't sure of what is going on. And, I know that both primary campaigns have been making great efforts to make sure they can qualify for the primary ballot, should that become a real option, without confusing voters or making anyone think they intend to challenge Chap, with they don't. In other words, it's a dog's breakfast up there.

    Unfortunately, at least one Republican candidate intends to run, and is door-knocking in the district already, which means in all our tail-chasery the Democrats are losing precious time and a tactical advantage.

    I'm sure you know that a Republican held the seat for 20 years before Chap won it in 2001. Given the number of open seat races and unexpected retirements this year, it would be a great loss to the Democrats to let go of this seat now. (After our 3 historic pick up seats in 2003, we can't afford to lose ground now.) Whatever happens on April 6 and on June 14, I hope that Chap, local Democrats, and the state party will throw support in behind making sure an experienced candidate and aggressive campaigner has every resource to win the seat for the Democrats in November.

    And for the moment, everyone is holding their breath until April 6.

    Fetish, anyone?

    From via my fellow Virginia blogger Alice Marshall at GOTV...

    G.W. Bush about to seize the head of a bald man

    ...a truly remarkable collection of photos of Bush and bald men.

    My take: the gesture of an insecure man habituated to overcompensating for deeply-felt personal inadequacies by physically posturing as an alpha-male. (At least he isn't peeing on them.) Either that, or he was bottle-fed.

    Perhaps our friends at Abu Aardvark or BAGNews Notes can offer a better explanation.

    Saturday, March 19, 2005

    New RPV website

    Waldo has done such a great job writing up the new Republican Party website, that I am shamelessly cribbing it from him word for word.
    The Republican Party of Virginia has set up a new website. It looks good — it’s quite an improvement over their old site. On the downside, it has no RSS, it doesn’t flex, the front page is a whopping 107k (a 21 second download on a 56k modem) and the code doesn’t even come close to validating (of course, they’re Republicans — they’re opposed to international standards ;). They’ve made a bunch of fundamental mistakes that should never be found in a newly-launched website, but it all amounts to a big step forward for the RPV’s web presence.

    I won’t hold my breath waiting for them to start a blog, like the Democratic Party of Virginia.

    I do feel compelled to point out that I am *far* more fond of the Fairfax County Republican Commitee website, because of great features like:
  • Delegate Albo, in session, pondering a gravy stain on his tie (that *is* gravy, isn't it, Dave?);
  • Tom Davis's high school year book photo; and
  • waaaaay down at the bottom, G.W. making his case to Barbara Bush why he should be allowed to stay up late on a school night.
  • |

    Friday, March 18, 2005

    US Immigration Strip Searches Canadian Blogger

    I, too, read this article and immediately thought, "Is Ian okay?"

    Turns out that the blogger in question was not BOP's Ian Welsh, but Canadian blogger Jeremy Wright. Jeremy was detained and interrogated by US Immigration when he arrived in New York last week for a meeting with a US media company to discuss a job as a blogger. It appears that the immigration people simply did not believe that Jeremy could make a living as a blogger. And they gave him the third degree - including an humiliating strip search - as a result for some hours. And banned him from entering the US--or at least made the legally empty threat that he was banned.

    Jeremy has pulled the original posts that provided the full details of his experience with the government representatives of his friendly neighbour to the south (ahem), but wraps it all with a post on the end of the story, that includes this delightful exchange with immigration officials:

    Him: Why would you visit someone in the states you’d never met (I mentioned I was planning to visit several people whilst down there)
    Me: Well, I have met most of them, but I’ve talked to them dozens or hundreds of times online.
    Him: Do you have any of their phone numbers?
    Me: No, but I talk
    Him: You can’t talk to someone without a phone number. Stop lying to me.
    Me: No, really, I can talk from my computer to theirs
    Him: Don’t be a smartass. If you don’t have their phone number, and you’ve never met them, how can you have ever talked to them.
    Me: … (at this point I’ve learned that sarcasm doesn’t help, nor does answering questions he doesn’t want to hear the answer to)
    Him: So, you’re trying to tell me that you’re going to visit someone who you’ve never met, never talked to and who knows nothing about you? And I’m supposed to believe this?
    Me: … (This was two hours in, and minutes before I demanded to be released)
    [Given that I met my husband online--and proposed to him an hour after we met in person--I can't say how much my heart goes out to Jeremy on this one.]

    I have to say that Jeremy is taking this with better humour than I'm afraid I would. To their collective credit, bloggers all over the place have been supportive of Jeremy and have been very supportive, and even CBS Marketwatch has run a story on how immigratin is protecting us from evil Canadians.

    Earth to Karen Hughes: it doesn't matter how many Happy American Muslim videos you churn out as the Czarina as propaganda. Putting Gestapo on your borders to harass law-abiding citizens *really* isn't doing anything for you PR.


    Opt-in Press List Invitation for Virginia Bloggers

    I am working with the Janet for Fairfax campaign to set up their press list.

    We would (of course!) like to invite supportive Virginia bloggers to participate in our press list.

    I will be emailing the bloggers I know. If I have missed anyone, and you'd like to join the press list, just leave a comment below and I'll put you in touch with the campaign.

    Thursday, March 17, 2005

    What's up with the google searches?

    How very, very interesting.

    Just two days ago, I was commenting on someone else's blog (King of Zembla, if I recall correctly), about how I don't get to write up interesting posts about Tsuredzuregusa's search engine hits, because search engines so rarely turn up in my site stats.

    I should have kept my mouth shut.

    I was looking at my site stats just now, and I found **12** Google searches on my name. One ISP was Virginia Tech in Blacksurg, the other was Cox Communications in Vienna, Virginia.

    I find it odd that my name should suddenly become such an interesting Google search term.

    Especially given that my email address is all over the internet--and every second Democrat in Virginia has it as well.

    So, if you want to know something...just come on out and ask me directly.

    Tuesday, March 15, 2005

    The standard boilerplate

    The Overdue Disclaimer
    I work with candidates and electeds in Virginia politics. My opinions are mine and mine alone. They don't reflect those of the people I work with. If you want to know what the people I work with think, ask them directly. They are, I assure you, big boys and girls with minds of their own.
    The Overdue Clarification of the Overdue Disclaimer
    If anyone takes issue with anything *I* write on this site, please have the courtesy to convey your concerns to me directly, and not by way of a third party. You can reach me at shaulaevans (at) comcast (dot) net.
    If anyone is still confused, please go to the top, read to the bottom, rinse and repeat, ad infinitum.

    Three Things One Public School is Doing Right

    My daughter is in 7th grade at the same public regional school system where I went through 7th grade exactly 22 years ago. A lot has changed in 22 years. "Regional School System" used to be code for "school system that sucks" during my salad days when I was cold and green, at least here in Southeastern Massachusetts where I grew up. This is certainly not the case today.

    There are three new simple, inexpensive innovations that are part of the program at my daughter's school now that weren't there 22 years ago that I think are great and wish had been in place for me way back when:
    • Teams - My daughter's Middle School enrolls more than 1000 students from three towns in 7th and 8th grade. One of the three towns produces eight classes of 7th graders who enter the school each year. Another town produces just one class. In order to prevent "losing" these kids to little fish in a big pond syndrome, every student is assigned to one of eight "teams" with names like "The Adventurers" and "The Buccaneers." Each team is a loose confederation of students who, for the most part, travel amongst themselves throughout the school day - a school within a school. A student shares the same English, math, science and social studies teachers with the other members of his or her team, fostering a social network that is a transition between the nurturing of one teacher, one class, all day in elementary school and the social Darwinism that lies ahead in High School.

    • Daytimers - In my corporate life, one common thread I saw across most of my successful colleagues was fantastic organizational skills, an area in which I was personally very lacking. Much of this success hinged upon the flawless integration of a Daytimer-type appointment/calendar system into their personal and professional lives. Oh, I envied them - no matter how hard I tried to raise myself above the shitstorm of yellow Post-It Notes that tyrannized my life I could never bring myself to their level. A child of the 60s, to me, chaos meant order. I was poisoned - every Daytimer I ever tried to make part of my life would soon be buried under a pile of unread mail, memos, coffee-stained napkins and dreams deferred... At my daughter's school, however, they are training the future leaders of tomorrow to use Daytimers today! Every student is issued a colorful teen-flashy 3-ring student style notebook that is really a stealth Daytimer. Students are forced to schedule and plan their homework, their project milestones, due dates and tests in these notebooks, and it works. Even if they aren't doing the homework and projects, the discipline and system behind the scheduling becomes second nature to them and graduating to a "for real" Daytimer in high school or college should be effortless. (On a side note, I wonder if this isn't a corporate indoctrination scheme. Are the Daytimer people programming the youth of this nation to be non-functional without the security blanket of their color-coded calendar-appointment systems?)

    • FIVE terms per school year instead of THREE - Five report cards plus five mid-term progress report cards forces parents to confront their childrens' school performance ten times per school year. With a mid-term report card coming home after just one month in school and subsequent updates coming every month thereafter, parents can be made aware of problems their children are having before they spin out of control and can no longer be corrected. For parents of sneaky children there is a bonus element to this: the day before a progress report is to come home a computer at the school calls every student household with a recorded message from the principal telling parents to keep their eyes peeled. All progress reports must be signed and returned.
    Is your child's school doing something right? If so, I'd like to hear about it. Is there something they should be doing? I'd like to hear about that, too. Please post your thoughts in the comments here.

    [Cross-posted to]

    Lysenkoism! It's not just for Soviets anymore!

    In a happy synchronicity of bloggy goodness today, right after posting about BushCo's ongoing harassment of American scientists, I not only learned the fabulous term (new to me) of Lysenkoism from Cathy from Canada, but also that Reps Waxman and Gordon are fighting hard to stop it.

    Trofim Lysenko speaking at the Kremlin in 1935; at the back left to right are Stanislav Kosior, Anastas Mikoyan, Andrei Andreev and Joseph Stalin
    Trofim Lysenko speaking at the Kremlin in 1935;
    at the back left to right are Stanislav Kosior, Anastas Mikoyan,
    Andrei Andreev and Joseph Stalin

    Lysenkoism was a campaign against genetics and geneticists which happened in the Soviet Union from the middle of the 1930s to the middle of the 1960s, centered around the figure of Trofim Denisovich Lysenko. In a broader context, Lysenkoism is often invoked to imply the overt subversion of science by political forces.

    Read more about Lysenkoism at the Wikipedia.
    Thank you greatly to Cathy for introducing me to the term Lysenkoism; it rockets right up to the top of my political zeitgeist list, just a hair above Quisling.

    Reps Henry Waxman and Bart Gordon are no friends of Lysenkoism, and back in February they introduced H.R. 839, legislation to protect federal science from political interference and restore scientific integrity to research and policy making. The bill includes bars on manipulating science, suppressing research, and using political litmus tests to appoint members of scientific advisory committees. You can read the Bill Summary here, and the Bill Text here. For a solid summary of the state of American Lysenkoism, read Waxman's Feb 16 statement, here. For a gritty, detailed look at American Lysenkoism in action, see Waxman's site, Politics & Science.

    Let's take a step back, review, and ask the big question: Lysenkoism, a state-funded Czarina of Propaganda, fake news for domestic consumption...

    America, does anyone have the memory/education/apprehension to grasp how much it looks like Stalinist Russia around here? Do you? Does anyone other than Waxman and Gordon care?


    What the Pictures Really Say

    We often examine here at BOP how the Bush administration is the ultimate postmodern/stagecraft/all-hat-no-cattle/PR presidency. The cynical reality of the Bush administration was reaffirmed this week by the one-two blow of the appointment of Karen "Goebbels in Bad Drag Hughes as the czarina of propaganda, and the coincidentally breaking story of the millions of dollars BushCo spends to spoon-feed propaganda to the collaborating news (sic) industry. Towards an antidote, I'd like to draw readers' attention to two blogs that are doing an excellent job of deconstructing the images behind the propaganda war: Abu Ardvark, and BAGnews Notes.
  • Abu aardvark has a series of posts up on how news cameras strategically zoom out or zoom in--and the discussion and reaction in the Arab press.
  • BAGnews Notes, home of the Bag news cartoons, has gone into overdrive deconstructing news images. I highly recommend the running and steady stream of posts, but for starters, you may want to look at She Who Laughs Last on the growing acceptance of news image tampering; the pictorial cracks in Schwartzenegger's PR wall; and Darth Norton, as a prime example of Bushco's glitzy Orwellian policy marketing.
  • Do read down for the comments; the discussion engendered by the posts on both these sites are excellent and elucidating.

    Further Reading

    For readers interested in learning more about the mechanics of the Madison Avenue techniques that BushCo and the infotainment world exploit in their image making, I highly recommend the old ad-world classic, Subliminal Seduction by Wilson Bryan Key.

    And, to apprehend the elements of voyeurism and exoticism that are rampant in Western media coverage of the Near East, which Abu Aardvark and BAGNews both touch on (cf Cartooning the Revolution, Eye Foreign Eye and Following Through with the Engagement), I recommend Europe's Myths of the Orient by Ranna Kabbani and Orientalism by Edward Said.

    And then they came for the scientists...

    Via Guns, Germs & Steeled, Published in The Nashua Telegraph on March 8, 2005 with the title: Scientists Under Stress

    To The Nashua Telegraph

    Dear Editor:

    Regarding the Telegraph article, “Bush said to stifle voice of science” on Monday. As a former Research Scientist for the National Park Service, I find it a sad day for America that our government is intimidating scientists to reach conclusions based upon politics and not facts. Some who have not towed the line have been forced to resign in frustration or have been fired for specious reasons. Which young scientists will choose government service if they know that their future conclusions will be pre-determined by development interests and/or government mandate?

    Stephen Nodvin
    Nashua, New Hampshire

    Remind me: at what stage in the progression of facism to they quash the intellectuals? And who comes next?

    The overdue disclaimer

    I should probably put this in the footer or sidebar or somewhere permanent...

    But for now, here it is.

    I work with candidates and electeds in Virginia politics. My opinions are mine and mine alone. They don't reflect those of the people I work with. If you want to know what the people I work with think, ask them directly. They are, I assure you, big boys and girls with minds of their own.

    That wasn't elegant, but, it seems sometimes necessary to point out the obvious.

    This place looks like a dog's breakfast

    I mean, it really does.

    I need to clean up the template, clean up the blogroll, just...pull a phoenix and burn it to the ground and pull something shiny and new out of the ashes.

    And you know what? I'm up to my ears in Virginia primary campaigns, and it ain't gonna happen soon.

    Just wanted everyone to know that I *know* it's as ugly as home-made sin around here...and I'll get to it, eventually. I beg your forebearance in the meantime. :)

    The Black Solution is the Brown Solution

    I wrote earlier this week how BushCo's agenda to fracture the African American progressive vote includes GOP seducing black pentecostals. Today on Latino Pundit I read that now Pentecostals are actively targeting Hispanics.

    Let's get real. The title of the Newsweek article LP links to, "The Battle for Latino Souls", should really read, "The Battle for Latino Votes". Because it's all about votes, GOP power, and eroding voting blocks that Democrats neglect and take for granted.

    To keep all of this in perspective, bear in mind that the GOP got their foothold with white, rural Southern voters, *especially* in Texas, through their multi-decade campaign to infiltrate and dominate the Southern Baptist Convention.

    So, let's revisit the solutions:

  • turnout voters outside the Pentecostal ranks targeted by the GOP
  • increase support for voter mobilization conducted by progressive Black and Hispanic clergy and secular institutions in '06 and '08.
  • document, expose, and fight like hell against the BushCo's infiltration and appropriation agenda in *every* community
  • get elected Democrats to unite to shut down the campaignistration elements that let the GOP drive the wedge issues that are fracturing the country, and put "faith based bribery" initiatives at the top of this list.
  • and, if you're up for something really radical, how about separating church and state and kicking Bush and his cohorts out of the nation's churches while we're at it
  • Religion as a branch of the one party state--watch for it coming to a GOP-targeted ethnic community near you.


    Sunday, March 13, 2005

    You've Come a Long Way, Gray Lady

    This evening I picked a wet copy of the Sunday New York Times off of my driveway for the last time in my life and threw it in the trash barrel for pickup tomorrow morning. I had already read the NYT this morning, not in the slush on my driveway but from the comfort of my living room without getting my hands wet or dirty. I did this, of course with my notebook computer and a Wi-Fi/broadband internet connection, something that would have been nearly inconceivable just a decade ago. This has become so ingrained into my routine that last week I finally cancelled my pulp and ink subcription to the Sunday Times. You've come a long way, Gray Lady.

    In Spring of 1994, I was working for Nolo Press, a publishing and software company in Berkeley, California. We were in the business of getting self-help legal information out to consumers - mostly through books, increasingly through software and with plans to do so online. In March of 1994, however, "online" meant via BBS, America Online and Apple's eWorld, a soon-to-be-doomed AOL-like service from Apple for which I toiled many hours behind the scenes.

    We'd also heard whispers by then of something called "the web" and it sounded like something we needed to find out more about. One of Nolo's founders, Steve Elias, a great Berkeley visionary thinker and problem solver had contacts at a place in San Francisco called ConflictNet where work was being done on this mysterious "web." He would arrange for a meeting where we could go and see what was happening there.

    One beautiful, crisp Spring Bay Area morning, my boss, Nolo Vice-President of Software Albin Renauer, Steve Elias and I hopped in a car, lattes and organic birdseed cookies in hand, and headed across the Bay Bridge to The City.

    ConflictNet was located somewhere South of Market - a portentous location for one of the first internet companies on the face of the planet, indeed.

    They wined us and dined us (more organic birdseed cookies and espresso drinks, probably), and showed us the focal point of their project at the time: Snippets of headline news in HTML pumped out over a 56k line and displayed in a Mosaic browser. It was breath-taking. It was exciting. It was the future.

    Ever the realist, however, I can remember throwing a wet blanket over our excitement during the drive back to Berkeley from San Francisco:
    "Yeah, it was all well and good, but first of all, who on earth is ever going to be able to afford a 56k line, and who is ever going to want to read more than a page or two of text on a computer screen?"

    Ah, to be 24 again and so sure of myself.

    How times have changed.

    The discussion is no longer about whether or not anybody will be able to afford a 56k line, but rather about whether or not broadband over WiFi should be a service provided by the state and possibly free. While widespread acceptance of eBook devices has stalled, every day more and more people around the world are, like me, throwing away their last pulp-and-ink copy of their favorite newspaper and reading tomorrow's edition online. The dynamics surrounding the distribution of news and information are constantly changing, and innovations in this area are rarely without an internet component.

    Tonight, the New York Times is printing one less copy of tomorrow's edition because my subscription has ended. I could have never imagined this day coming now, so relatively soon, back then in March of 1994. If I only knew then what I knew now...

    The last 11 years have been quite a ride, nothing short of revolutionary. In the grand scheme of things, however, 11 years is just a blip on the screen. We have only just entered into this new information era.

    Today I threw away my last soggy copy of the Sunday New York Times. What will it be tomorrow?

    I can hardly wait.

    [Cross-posted to]

    Meet my favourite new blogger

    One of the great progressive candidates I am working with this cycle, Janet Oleszek*, has just got her campaign blog up and running.

    It is the first time Janet has blogged, and to the best of my knowledge, she has the first candidate blog in the history of Virginia state-level politics.

    Plus, Janet's doing a damn fine job. She's a school board member, and has been a local education activist for over 20 years, and her blog is full of informed opinions and current information about education issues in her community (vs the stuffy, one-to-many press releases of many wannabe campaign blogs last cycle).

    I don't ask for favors often, but I'm asking one now: go say hello and give her some fellow-blogger encouragement at

    Thanks, folks.

    *If the name Janet Oleszek sounds familiar, and you're not from Virginia, you might recognize her from an article I wrote about the importance of school board elections that mentioned her last year. :)

    This is so funny, it ought to be illegal

    In fact, there's the FBI at my door now. Oh my.

    From The Progressive Blog Alliance HQ:

    by John Cleese

    To the citizens of the United States of America,

    In the light of your failure to elect a competent President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective today.

    Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths and other territories. (Except Utah, which she does not fancy.)

    Your new prime minister (The Right Honourable Tony Blair, MP for the 97.85% of you who have until now been unaware that there is a world outside your borders) will appoint a minister for America without the need for further elections. Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire will be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed. To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect :

    1. You should look up "revocation" in the Oxford English Dictionary. Then look up "aluminium". Check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it. The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'favour' and 'neighbour', skipping the letter 'U' is nothing more than laziness on your part. Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut' without skipping half the letters. You will end your love affair with the letter 'Z' (pronounced 'zed' not 'zee') and the suffix "ize" will be replaced by the suffix "ise". You will learn that the suffix 'burgh is pronounced 'burra' e.g. Edinburgh. You are welcome to respell Pittsburgh as 'Pittsberg' if you can't cope with correct pronunciation. Generally, you should raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. Look up "vocabulary". Using the same twenty seven words interspersed with filler noises such as "like" and "you know" is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. Look up "interspersed". There will be no more 'bleeps' in the Jerry Springer show. If you're not old enough to cope with bad language then you shouldn't have chat shows. When you learn to develop your vocabulary then you won't have to use bad language as often.

    2. There is no such thing as "US English". We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take account of the reinstated letter 'u' and the elimination of "-ize".

    3. You should learn to distinguish the English and Australian accents. It really isn't that hard. English accents are not limited to cockney, upper-class twit or Mancunian (Daphne in Frasier). You will also have to learn how to understand regional accents - Scottish dramas such as "Taggart" will no longer be broadcast with subtitles. While we're talking about regions, you must learn that there is no such place as Devonshire in England. The name of the county is "Devon". If you persist in calling it Devonshire, all American States will become "shires" e.g. Texasshire, Floridashire, Louisianashire.

    4. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as the good guys. Hollywood will be required to cast English actors to play English characters. British sit-coms such as "Men Behaving Badly" or "Red Dwarf" will not be re-cast and watered down for a wishy-washy American audience who can't cope with the humour of occasional political incorrectness.

    5. You should relearn your original national anthem, "God Save The Queen", but only after fully carrying out task 1. We would not want you to get confused and give up half way through.

    6. You should stop playing American "football". There is only one kind of football. What you refer to as American "football" is not a very good game. The 2.15% of you who are aware that there is a world outside your borders may have noticed that no one else plays "American" football. You will no longer be allowed to play it, and should instead play proper football. Initially, it would be best if you played with the girls. It is a difficult game. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which is similar to American "football", but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like nancies). We are hoping to get together at least a US Rugby sevens side by 2005. You should stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the 'World Series' for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.15% of you are aware that there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. Instead of baseball, you will be allowed to play a girls' game called "rounders" which is baseball without fancy team strip, oversized gloves, collector cards or hotdogs.

    7. You will no longer be allowed to own or carry guns. You will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous in public than a vegetable peeler. Because we don't believe you are sensible enough to handle potentially dangerous items, you will require a permit if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

    8. July 4th is no longer a public holiday. November 2nd will be a new national holiday, but only in England. It will be called "Indecisive Day".

    9. All American cars are hereby banned. They are crap and it is for your own good. When we show you German cars, you will understand what we mean. All road intersections will be replaced with roundabouts. You will start driving on the left with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

    10. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips. Fries aren't even French, they are Belgian though 97.85% of you (including the guy who discovered fries while in Europe) are not aware of a country called Belgium. Those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called "crisps". Real chips are thick cut and fried in animal fat. The traditional accompaniment to chips is beer which should be served warm and flat. Waitresses will be
    trained to be more aggressive with customers.

    11. As a sign of penance 5 grams of sea salt per cup will be added
    to all tea made within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, this quantity to be doubled for tea made within the city of Boston itself.

    12. The cold tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all, it is lager. From November 1st only proper British Bitter will be referred to as "beer", and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as "Lager". The substances formerly known as "American Beer" will henceforth be referred to as "Near-Frozen
    Knat's Urine", with the exception of the product of the American Budweiser company whose product will be referred to as "Weak Near-Frozen Knat's Urine". This will allow true Budweiser (as manufactured for the last 1000 years in Pilsen, Czech Republic) to be sold without risk of confusion.

    13. From November 10th the UK will harmonise petrol (or "Gasoline" as you will be permitted to keep calling it until April 1st 2005) prices with the former USA. The UK will harmonise its prices to those of the former USA and the Former USA will, in return, adopt UK petrol prices (roughly $6/US gallon - get used to it).

    14. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns,
    lawyers or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not adult enough to be independent. Guns should only be handled by adults. If you're not adult enough to sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist then you're not grown up enough to handle a gun.

    15. Please tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us crazy.

    16. Tax collectors from Her Majesty's Government will be with you
    shortly to ensure the acquisition of all revenues due (backdated to 1776).

    Thank you for your co-operation and have a great day.

    As a displaced Canadian living on this side of the line, all I can add is, "ColoUr! NeighboUr! God Save the Queen! Out and About!"

    Yeah, that felt good. :)

    Share the Love: STDLH

    Via Fact-esque, Kathy, Brad, and ultimately Rox, comes a great new concept: the Subvert the Dominant Link Hierarchy Random 10. Post 10 Random links to blogs you know and love, share the traffic, and break the A-list dominance.

    Sounds brilliant to me.

    If I can keep my head above water long enough to do some blogging for a while, I'll certainly join in. And in the meantime, I'm spreading the word.

    The Solution to Bush's "Black Solution"

    Glen Ford and Peter Gamble, co-publishers of The Black Commentator, deliver a one-two punch this month with two great articles deconstructing the GOP pitch for Black votes.

    Al Jolson in and out of blackface makeupWe're talking about Michelle Malkin in blackface, folks. Read on for details on how the GOP is making progress in infiltrating the Black political community (and I do mean infiltrating in the absolutely most pejorative sense), as well as what Democrats can do about it.

    On, Ford and Gamble look at the nuts and bolts of how Bush achieved a slight increase in his percentage of African American votes in 2004. The short version?--using wedge issues such as "faith-based initiatives," vouchers, gay-baiting, and the estate tax, to alienate blacks from teachers' unions, seduce opportunistic black clergy, and ultimately demolish Black political consensus. [Uncoincidentally, when I wrote earlier about Virginia politicians abandoning the base to chase swing voters, Black Pentecostals are specifically one of the groups they've been chasing.]

    Back at home on The Black Commentator, they go a step further and look at the GOP m.o. we love to hate: appropriating community voices with front groups, with a detailed examination of how Bush et al are attempting to replace Black political leadership. If this looks and sounds familiar, that's because it is Kamal Nawash and the Free Muslims and Michelle Malkin all over again.

    Rudy Texeira at Emerging Democratic Majority suggests that the solution to Bush's Black vote increase lies in "voter turnout outside the Pentecostal ranks targeted by the GOP, and more support for voter mobilization conducted by progressive Black clergy and secular institutions should prove to be a cost-effective investment in '06 and '08."

    Um, Mr. Texeira? That's all well and good, but you are using campaign strategy to fight *campaignistration.* In other words, taking a knife to a gunfight.

    Activists and leaders like Glen Ford and Peter Gamble are documenting, exposing, and fighting like hell against the infiltration and appropriation agenda of Bush's "New Black Leadership."

    The missing piece is that elected Democrats need to get unite and shut down the campaignistration elements that let the GOP drive the wedge issues that are fracturing the Black political community.

    Heh. I know you thought that "Black Solution" was going to refer to The Selective War to Promote on Drugs or The Selective War to Promote on Poverty...but I'm just looking at it from a public record political angle today.

    Drawing the Lines in Virginia State Politics

    Well, I've raised my head above water for what seems to be my *montly* blog post. As my health steadily improves, and my real-world obligations lighten, I hope to be posting on more frequent basis in the near future.

    Earlier this week, Ian Welsh wrote a compelling post on BOP about political payback in the context of drawing your own moral lines: the lines over which you will not step, and the lines over which you will not be pushed--which got me thinking about how lines, and the lack thereof, are shaping up to effect the election cycle in Virginia this year.

    Here in Virginia state politics we have a growing cadre of relatively young men in elected offices, from backgrounds that range from comfortable to privileged--the Golden Boys of the Virginia Democrats. (In fairness, because of Virginia's "civilian legislator" system, and the cost of mounting campaigns in the northern part of the state, it is very difficult for anyone but a person of means to *afford* to be involved in state politics. Welcome to the farm leagues of the plutocracy.) Our aspiring young politicos enter public life at such a tender age that they are essentially untried and untested: they have never faced a real moral choice, never had a need to draw their own lines. They may have equivocated once over whether to study or go drinking maybe, whether to lie to impress a girl, whether or not to wear white after Labor Day, but not much of any greater magnitude. And then suddenly, they are in Virginia state politics, showered with checks from lobbyists, being advised by the party machinery to cast their legislative votes with an eye to relection rather than good policy. (Get thee behind me, DPVA.) Let's just say our Golden Boys didn't receive life lessons in in drawing lines before they got into politics, and now that they are in state government, we don't see them picking up this skill on the fly.

    Somehow, when they have been faced with tough votes in the last two legislative sessions, the question has turned from "does that cross *my* line," to, "what do I have to do to get voted back in 2 years?"

    We have our equivalents to Senator Byrd here at the state level, too--and, unsurprisingly, they tend to be on the top end of the demographic scale. In the meantime, the Virginia Democrats are so starved for life-blood that the Golden Boys are held up as the Young Turks and rising stars of the party--despite their voting records.

    Unfortunately, we have a number of young state Democrats on the wrong side of some very big lines right now, most notably regarding votes in the past two sessions on some horrific bills attacking civil rights for the GLBT community and attacking reproductive rights.

    Now, I suspect some readers will accuse me of age-ism, and I don't want you to get me wrong. I do a great deal of work on lowering the entry barriers for young people (down to high school and middle school students) into the political process--because the only future for the Democratic party is to open the doors and let people in. However, in Virginia at least, the Democratic party doesn't seem to understand that just because someone is willing to knock on doors and make fundraising calls (and granted, those characteristics are already rare enough in potential candidates), that doesn't mean he or she will make a good legislator. (I'm writing "he or she" out of old academic habits; the reality is that we have a handful of truly kick-ass women in Virginia politics, but their numbers are far too small, and the overwhelming majority of candidates we field are men--in fact, affluent white men. So much for the big tent myth.) We're worried about winning for winning's sake, with little eye to good governing, which is how we wind up with so many Republicans in Democratic clothing. Personally speaking, before the Democratic party backs a candidate, I'd like to make sure that person can not only do a good job of getting elected, but also do a good job once he or she is in office. And before a politician tells me what I can do in my bedroom, or in my uterus, or how to raise my children, or how to live my life...well, I'd like *him* to have done a little bit of living and growing up on his own time. In other words: learn how to draw your own lines before you make a career out of legislating mine.

    In the political world, all that lobbyist money and relection pressure can make lines pretty hard to see, especially for someone not used to drawing lines at all. (The lines seem to wind up obscured by the strings attached to the checks.) In political terms, winding up on the wrong side of a line is very often known as "abandoning the base." The GOP pushes wedge issues that hinge on homophobia and racism, for example, for that very reason: they have established that modern Democrats will consistently take the bait, chase after swing voters by voting *with* the GOP, and abandon their base. In campaign terms, the base is coincidentally the same people who knock on doors, put up yard signs, and stuff envelopes. And, even if our Golden Boys aren't willing to draw a line, some of their abandoned base are drawing their own lines this cycle.

    I've been working on volunteer recruitment this week for some progressive campaigns, which has given me the opportunitiy to talk with Democratic activists I know in different parts of the state. A common theme I've heard from these grasstops people has been, "Can you believe how (various Golden Boys) voted last session? What the hell is going on?" Activist after activist has said, "I'm not going to work against the Golden Boys, but I feel really betrayed, and I'm certainly not going to lift a finger to help them this time around."

    BOP readers know that across the country, Republicans significantly raise more campaign money than Democrats, which is why Democrats rely on grassroots
    support to win. Grassroots is another term for the unpaid labor of your base--a base that's been shut out and kicked around pretty thoroughly, in some quarters of Virginia, for the past 2 years.

    The 2005 Virginia state election cycle is just getting warmed up. Primaries all over the state are up and running, candidates going straight to the general election are staffing up and revving their fundraising machines, and the statewide candidates are feverishly gathering ballot petitions and running laps around the Commonwealth. Virginia Democrats that voted to court lobbyists and swing voters instead of drawing their lines and voting their conscience in the past two legislative sessions are about to receive a very abrupt wakeup call when the activists they count on stay home.

    Ian wrote earlier that "...while redemption is always possible, it's a bitter road you're better off never having to walk." In Virginia politics this year, that bitter road may include losing some Democratic seats in the General Assembly. Hopefully our Golden Boys will take advantage of the time off to go home and finally learn how to draw those moral lines.