Thursday, January 31, 2008

Required Reading

Gail Collins on some of the reasons Democrats are happy, yet uneasy.

And this on the fall of Rudy Giuliani, the New Yorker New Yorkers love to hate.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

27 Turkeys

This parade just passed through the yard, working its way from the bird feeders over to the bird cages.

Goodbye, Rudy Tuesday

I wish I could claim credit for that headline, but I can't. Carrie wonders whether Giuliani was ever really a candidate or whether it was all about making money. Certainly he now has a war chest should he plan to run for HRC's Senate seat. . .

Sadly, John Edwards is leaving the race, too. I still think he was the true progressive and populist voice on the Dem side. Now I really have to think about whom to vote for next Tuesday.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Sexism in America

Close your eyes and picture who--from today's world--should be the first female president of the United States.

The big stories of this election season, it seems to me, are (1) the fact that media manipulation has reached its peak, discarding candidates (Edwards, Giuliani) like old chewing gum while telling chatty, personal stories in sound bites as though this were the X-Games, and (2) the apparent fact that this country, racist as I believe it to be, would sooner elect an African-American man than a woman.

HRC is not my first choice. She may not even be my second choice. But I am for sure attuned to those things that make her some people's last choice--and I promise you, most of them are sexist. Look at some of the nicknames she's called just by bloggers in the Ithaca Journal alone--Mrs. Bill, Shrillary. . . . Think about what we focus on--her inability to orate (it seems all good orators are male, just like all good chefs); her fake laugh; her tears; her hair; her spouse.

You might say: "That's not me; I just don't like her stance on the war and her pandering to the right wing." You know what? I just don't believe you.

Try the exercise I started this post with. I'll bet you can't come up with anyone. And in the year 2008, that's just sad.

Monday, January 28, 2008

World Clock

I think its creator is a bit of a nutcase, but Paul sends this link to his "World Clock," which is a snapshot in just-about-real time of everything from military expenditures to cancer deaths to forests cut to abortions to Internet users.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Of Two Minds

Although I recognize that SC is hardly representative of the country as a whole, I was surprised enough at Obama's 2-to-1 results to have a brief frisson, equally of excitement at the thought that someone with his message might win and of fear at the thought that. . . someone with his message might win. I can't help recalling that our most emotionally resonant candidates (e.g., JFK) often led us down the garden path to the greatest disasters (cf. The Best and the Brightest), as did those candidates who were least connected to the mess in DC (e.g., Jimmy Carter).

Carrie points out that the unrepentant Grandpa Joe Kennedy must be spinning in his grave at his granddaughter's endorsement of the man who would never have been allowed at his club.

Super Tuesday had better come quickly. The fallout is going to be huge, either way.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Can't We All Just Be Friends?

Bob Herbert has a lot to say about the divisiveness of the Clinton campaign, and there's been a big hubbub on both sides about how down-and-dirty the campaign in SC has become. All I can say is, they're fooling themselves if they don't think the national campaign isn't going to be the dirtiest, nastiest ever. Wait till the GOP has only our candidate to compete against, whether it's Obama or Clinton. Hideous. Consider this a warmup, and get over it.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Strength Through Peace--Not So Much

Kucinich dropped out yesterday, just hours before our Presidential Forum. Eric Lerner still spoke passionately about his candidacy.

One Day of the Iraq War

Adam sent this, which seems worth posting:

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Toles Cartoon


In Case You Had Any Doubt Whatsoever. . .

Carrie sends this chart via the Dem Caucus, showing how we were doing pre-Bush and how we're doing now. Stark. A few lowlights:
New Private Sector Jobs Created:
THEN--1.76 million/year NOW--369,000/year
Americans Uninsured:
THEN--38 million NOW--47 million
Consumer Credit Debt:
THEN--$7.65 trillion NOW--$12.8 trillion
Combat Readiness:
THEN--All divisions ready NOW--No brigades ready
U.S. Trade Deficit:
THEN--$380 billion NOW--$759 billion
Etc., etc. A snapshot of a country in decline.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Carlson Cartoon

PZ sent this, which I love:


I'm getting endless input about the Governor's budget, telling me what I should think about it. Right now, I'm keeping an open mind, although I would dearly love to understand how the state will pay for it--closing loopholes is nice, but can it possibly make that much of a difference? Dryden will get an additional $1.7 million--or will it? It all depends on how that money is earmarked. If it's Pre-K funds, for example, we're out of luck, because we don't yet have a Pre-K program. And I wish the state would just bite the bullet and exempt schools from the Wicks Law.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Simon alerted me to the presence of snow buntings on Mt. Pleasant, and sure enough, there was a flock of maybe 50 when I drove up and over this morning. Plus I saw what I thought was a northern goshawk, although I tend to mix up my acciptors and buteos. It was as white underneath as an osprey in flight. (Note: These are not my photos!)
LATER: PZ suspects that my goshawk was a rough-legged hawk, also very white from beneath. That might be more likely.

One Got a Beesting, Then There Were Five

He was just lovely on Law & Order, and he should've stayed there. Fred Thompson is out. I firmly believe Mike Huckabee would've taken SC without Fred there to steal his votes. So this changes the odds once again in the GOP race.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Sup't Search FYI

Dryden Central School Superintendent Search
7:00 p.m.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
MS/HS Room C-13

Democracy? Not So Much

Carrie points out that who's ahead and by how much depends on which media source you use. Here's the score as it's posted today by ABC, CBS, and CNN.
Why the discrepancies? It has to do with the way delegates are assigned, which is, any way you slice it, bizarre. The Dems, by the way, with their reward system of Superdelegates, are far less democratic about it than are the Republicans.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Then There Were Six

I know, it seemed like there were six last time, but that's 'cause I never added one when Thompson got in. But now Duncan Hunter is out, having come in seventh in NV and SC.

Meanwhile, don't miss Frank Rich's vitriolic piece today on the GOP's refusal to deal with the issues that affect most Americans.
As if it weren’t crazy enough for Republicans to lash themselves to the listing mast of immigration, they are nonplayers on the issues that do matter most to voters. The more the economy tanks and steals Americans’ attention from a relatively less violent Iraq, the more voters learn that the Republicans have little to offer beyond their one-size-fits-all panacea of extending the Bush tax cuts.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Required Reading

Krugman on how we became a borrower nation and did it badly.
In other words, the United States was not, in fact, uniquely well-suited to make use of the world’s surplus funds. It was, instead, a place where large sums could be and were invested very badly. Directly or indirectly, capital flowing into America from global investors ended up financing a housing-and-credit bubble that has now burst, with painful consequences.
And the recession was the number one story on NPR this morning, as predicted.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Thistle Sock Rates Four Stars

Paul brought home this feeder, which holds five pounds of thistle or niger seed. At first, we had goldfinches, but now we seem to have an astonishing number of purple finches, who seem quite content to share.

Why a Good Media Consultant Is Critical

SmileyCentral.comCarrie sends this from, showing, I believe, how the media shapes our expectations simply by covering one candidate more than another.
Meanwhile, the meaning of third place was also fungible last week. Mike Huckabee, a distant third in the GOP race, got sizably more media attention than did John Edwards among the Democrats.

And New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who is not running, got nearly as much coverage for showing up at a conference in Oklahoma as Rudolph Giuliani did for finishing fourth among Republicans.
We'll see whether the recession takes over as the number-one news story in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

SSFC Budget v. NYS Budget

Central NY School Board Association just sent out an appraisal comparing NYS's 2007 budget allocation for schools to that proposed by the Statewide School Finance Consortium, which aims to replace a convoluted formula with one that provides equity and simplicity. I have the whole thing for anyone who's interested, but here are the data for our local districts in the TST-BOCES region. The comparison is over four years, as the 2007 budget was designed to be implemented over four years.
Additional Aid Under SSFC Plan
Candor: $2,027,548
Dryden: $1,967,358
Groton: $1,869,411
Ithaca: $0
Lansing: $0
Newfield: $1,513,484
Trumansburg: $1,250,612
South Seneca: $0
I'm not sure why South Seneca gets nothing. In most other cases that I've seen, poorer districts make out much better under the SSFC Plan.

For what it's worth, local State Senators Seward and Winner support the SSFC Plan.

Eat Globally

With apologies to all our friends who are trying to eat locally, this made me laugh.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Sup't Search

The district website now features an online survey that we invite all Dryden readers to complete. The survey asks you to rate characteristics you'd like to see in the next superintendent. Students and residents are encouraged to participate.

Gamblin' Fool

Speaking of government supported vices, SAZ writes about the newest controversy in CA:
Fierce ads on TV for and against licensing 17,000 new slot machines at casinos run by four (rich) Indian tribes. Application for permission to add the machines are ballot choices for CA voters. The Gov (Schwarzenegger) says yes ($1,000,000,000 over 10 years goes to the state); other (poorer) Indian tribes, and racetrack owners, say no. Expectations are for $50,000,000,000 profits per 10 years from 17,000 slots.

The Union-Tribune today ran an article pointing out that permission for the slots requires Department of the Interior permission. The four tribes made their request months ago, but the Department of the Interior lost the application. The law says than if an application gets lost, it must automatically be approved. Pretty odd. The article mentions that the four tribes contribute huge amounts of cash to both parties.
First firewater and smallpox; now this. NYS has the same kinds of issues.

Monday, January 14, 2008

It's the Economy, Stupid

Apparently, no one cares about Iraq anymore, so we're likely to hear more and more about domestic policies. Today, Krugman has an informative column on the candidates' economic policies, confirming for me that Obama is to the right of Clinton and Edwards, at least domestically.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Scrap the Lottery

SmileyCentral.comSimon blogged about the governor's lottery proposals and commented that we ought to shut the lottery down. I second that; the lottery has been a huge scam for too many years. The odds are such that you would need to play for a quarter million years to win once. Worse is the misguided belief on the part of many purchasers that the money they spend is funding education; as Safire remarked in 1999, this is a classic bait-n-switch that taxes the poor (granted, it's a voluntary tax) while saving the rich millions in taxes they would otherwise pay.

Friday, January 11, 2008


PZ sends along this nonpartisan site, created by Harvard undergraduates to keep track of the presidential race. Very comprehensive, and I love the gopher.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Bye Bye Billy

He thrilled me at the DNC meeting a year ago, but today Bill Richardson is expected to leave the race, having garnered just handfuls of votes in Iowa and NH.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

NH v. Iowa

So the question becomes: How often is there a split between results in Iowa and results in NH? And the answer is: Often. In 1972, Edmund Muskie won NH but lost to "Uncommitted" in Iowa. In 1976, Jimmy Carter won NH but lost to "Uncommitted" in Iowa. In 1984, Walter Mondale won Iowa, but Gary Hart won NH. In 1988, Dick Gephart won Iowa, but Mike Dukakis won NH. In 1992, Tom Harkin won Iowa, but Paul Tsongas won NH.

It's worth pointing out that 1972 and 1992 were the only years on record in which the winner of either Iowa or NH did NOT go on to be the party's nominee. In 1972, Muskie was undermined by Nixon's "Dirty Tricks" campaign and lost the nomination to George McGovern. 1992 was the year that a southern upstart named Bill Clinton defied expectations, helped by the fact that Paul Tsongas failed to raise the money he needed to go national and was upset by Jerry Brown in several late primaries. Tom Harkin, an Iowa favorite son, went nowhere after Iowa. It seems likely that if Mario Cuomo or Dick Gephart had run that year, he would have won, but neither thought Bush the First was beatable.

So the odds are that either Obama or Clinton will be the nominee, but it is by no means a done deal, at least as far as we can learn from the ghosts of primaries past.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Required Reading

Gloria Steinem on how women are never front runners--why it's possible that America is ready for a black male president but not for a woman.

Monday, January 7, 2008


Mark arrives tomorrow from Hawaii for a week's stay, and in his honor, all the snow is melting, and it's supposed to be 60 degrees tomorrow. I'll pick him up at Syracuse Stage, where he's lunching with Tim Bond, their new artistic director (former director Robert Moss is interim at the Hangar this year) and a friend from Seattle days.

Not many people can say that their brother-in-law is also their best friend from childhood. I wrote about Mark in this IJ piece six years ago. I've become less enamored of the TC Public Library since then, but at least he and I are still friends!

Sunday, January 6, 2008


Today is the one-year anniversary of the launching of this blog. This graph shows the breakdown of topics. It seems pretty close to what I would have guessed at the beginning, although I think the History and Friends categories may grow.

And here's a quick panorama of the back yard over that year, minus April, which unaccountably got lost in cyberspace.

The Ick Factor

Joe Klein exactly pinpoints the ick factor that surrounds candidate Romney--the fact that his in-person persona doesn't match his media persona. It turned up again at the NH debate, where he said McCain's immigration program wasn't really amnesty. Apparently all of his attack ads and flyers call it amnesty. Our MA friends just can't stand the guy. I think of GWBush--an empty vessel surrounded by his dad's powerful friends. Of course, unlike GW, Romney was actually a successful businessman.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Deadline Approaching

It's worth pointing out to any New Yorker reading this that Friday, January 11, is the last date to register to vote if you want to vote in the primary.

However, if you change parties now, that change won't be valid until November 11, 2008. In other words, if you're a registered Republican and you want to vote in the Democratic primary, you're SOL. It's not like Iowa, where people can cross-vote.

The Price of Inevitability

The price of inevitability, as HR notes in a comment yesterday, is that people don't like being told what to do. HRC (still considered inevitable if you look at national polls) was slapped down in Iowa, and there's a lot of talk about how if she doesn't win NH, she's done.

However, I would just point out that in 1992, Bill Clinton took 3% of the Iowa delegates (coming in fourth after "undecided"), and he lost NH to Paul Tsongas. I can still remember thinking, "Who is this guy?" when he finally started winning.

In other words, it ain't over till it's over.

Meanwhile, Kucinich is fighting ABC over their debate rules, and my uncle and others are claiming a censoring conspiracy. Fun!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Meanwhile, Back in Dryden

God forbid our local media should cover any historic event in Dryden, so I'll let our new deputy supervisor tell you what went on at last night's meeting.

Obamarama, For Sure

Well, it was as predicted, but far more decisive than I would have guessed. Edwards gave a great speech, but Obama's was just outstanding. It made me strongly consider whether I'm just too old and cynical to be swayed by his message. I'll have to ponder that today.

NY's own David Paterson stood behind HRC as she delivered her rather wooden "I'm still the one" speech. Huckabee is a better speaker than she is.

And Dodd and Biden have dropped out and are therefore off my list. Sad.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Caucus Race

"What IS a Caucus-race?" said Alice; not that she wanted much to know, but the Dodo had paused as if it thought that SOMEBODY ought to speak, and no one else seemed inclined to say anything.

"Why," said the Dodo, "the best way to explain it is to do it." (And, as you might like to try the thing yourself, some winter day, I will tell you how the Dodo managed it.)

First it marked out a race-course, in a sort of circle, ("the exact shape doesn't matter," it said,) and then all the party were placed along the course, here and there. There was no "One, two, three, and away," but they began running when they liked, and left off when they liked, so that it was not easy to know when the race was over. However, when they had been running half an hour or so, and were quite dry again, the Dodo suddenly called out "The race is over!" and they all crowded round it, panting, and asking, "But who has won?"

This question the Dodo could not answer without a great deal of thought, and it sat for a long time with one finger pressed upon its forehead (the position in which you usually see Shakespeare, in the pictures of him), while the rest waited in silence. At last the Dodo said, "EVERYBODY has won, and all must have prizes."

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Worse Than Watergate?

You make the call. I think setting up a commission and then choosing to withhold information from that commission might be considered a waste of time and money, if not an indictable offense. Here's hoping that this irate editorial from a moderate duo finally strikes a chord with our bumbling, see-no-evil Congress.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008