The continuation of Skiing Uphill and Boregasm, Zug is 'the little blog that could.'

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Name: Ed Waldo
Location: of The West

I am a fictional construct originally conceived as a pen name for articles in the Los Angeles FREE PRESS at the 2000 Democratic Convention. The plume relating to the nom in question rests in the left hand of Hart Williams, about whom, the less said, the better. Officially "SMEARED" by the Howie Rich Gang. And now, smeared by Fox News and Sean Hannity, as well! Plus, FEARED by Ted Nugent! AND Hated by the Freepers!

Saturday, April 7, 2007


America's Achilles heel is electricity. Here in the Northwest, where our electrical grid was initially based on hydroelectric power, a three-day power outage is a sobering experience.

We use everything to make electricity, coal, oil, solar, wind.

I used to live on the San Ildefonso Pueblo reservation in New Mexico, in the shadow of Black Mesa, and a good stiff wind would crash the black & white Mac every time. I learned to back up whatever I was working on every couple minutes.

But the technology was still (or could be) Neolithic: Thick adobe walls to trap heat in winter and cool in summer; a wood-burning stove.

The loss of electricity was an annoyance, but we had candles. Computers, however, well, too bad.

Now, the end of the world comes when the battery dies. Without our little electricity transporters, constantly plugging into the Central Grid to recharge, most of us end with that little chirp that says "battery dead."

Yes, there are a few with propane technology. Some with gas generators. A few with solar power, but the great problem with electricity is that you can't store it.

So, whoever knocks out our electricity knocks out the country.

I worked in a defense plant in Santa Ana, California, where we were fulfilling a Navy contract to provide UPS units for our embassies around the world. There were, in the parking lot, several autos with 'Pat Robertson for President' bumper stickers, which means that it must have been the spring of 1988. I rode a bicycle to work, which confused the denizens of the factory, but that isn't important here.

Someone in Washington, D.C. had realized that all a hostile country had to do to grab a whole bunch of U.S. Secrets was shut off the power to the embassy, capture the computers, and turn them back on again. Passwords would be broken. So, the UPS units were to give embassy staff (I think) an hour to unleash the shredding 'bots. Or, I seem to recall -- in the parlance of the bureaucratese -- to 'secure' them.

There was another thing about that plant that gave me great hope. We had workers from every continent, religion, and civilization, but you COULD not tell their status by their surname. It was truly the Starship Enterprise.

Well, except for the fact that the refrigerator-sized UPS units-- Uninterruptible Power Source units -- were actually assembled as far as legally permissible in the Mexicali plant, and we were basically to do a smidge of final assembly, and then to perform 80-hour burn in tests -- which were required by the contract and above my pay grade. Mostly, the Official Embassy Sekurity Devices were Hecho En Mexico.

That border has never been closed, nor will it ever be. (Sorry, conservative dudes.)

But the idea is a good one, no matter how corruptly and ineptly carried to fruition, and UPS has become a fact of life in computerland. (I'm typing on one right now.)

So, we are at the mercy of the magic juice that can't be stored and must constantly be generated (peak capacity, recall, is that quality that inherently causes 'brownouts' whenever EVERYBODY turns on their air-conditioner at the same time). And with plants and substations everywhere, they can't possibly ALL be protected.

You take my point.

The problem is, electricity as a secondary fuel source is great for computers, but lousy on every other generating and distribution model.

How about hydrogen?

You see, hydrogen is, like electricity, a SECONDARY energy. You use whatever technology you use to make electricity to make hydrogen. Hydrogen CAN be stored. So, during the times of little consumption, you can store up a reserve. Then, when 'peak' demand occurs, you have plenty of hydrogen. When you burn it, its 'residue' is distilled water, so burn as much at peak as you want -- and save that water; it has 1001 household uses.

But the security issue is putting a fuel cell in every home. Decentralizing the electricity economy. If you want to use solar power to crack water during the day, you can 'burn' that hydrogen at night.

By 'burn,' I mean fuel cells. Each home can have its own fuel cell bank, and the hydrogen can be piped in like natural gas, collected in home generators, et al.

The savings would more than offset the costs on many levels, not the least of which being the ability to threaten the power supply. One of the ways that Electric Americans dealt with the power outage was to retreat to their RVs and automobiles, and heat and cool themselves, and listen to music, sleep, etc.

You could deliver it the same way you deliver propane. You could deliver it the same way you distribute natural gas. You could deliver it the same way you get gasoline. And you could deliver it the same way you cook up your own moonshine.

Then run your TV off your fuel cell. Run your dryer off your fuel cell. Your lifestyle doesn't change. All that changes is the manner in which your electricity is delivered.

It's an easy concept: Electricity is a secondary energy source (you make it from primary energy sources, it doesn't occur naturally: no 'electricity mines,' 'electricity trees,' 'electricity springs,' etc.)

Hydrogen is a secondary energy source.

You can't store electricity. You can store hydrogen. Electricity requires a huge, vulnerable, centralized distribution system engineered to be capable of delivering 'peak' capacity, but mostly unused because excess electricity is simply wasted.

A significant portion of electricity is lost in transmission, creating ozone, frying the occasional bird, and kite enthusiast. Our landscape is scarred with electrical wires and erector sets.

Wouldn't it be great to take them down?

But, in creating energy independence by giving each household energy independence, you would TRULY benefit the long term security interests of the nation.

Not 'Fortress America.' UPS America. (NO, not those parcel post people -- but 'Backup Battery America' sounds kind of dumb.)

UPS America.


Friday, April 6, 2007

The Return of the Radio Blog

For the first time since I provided state-by-state accounts of how the Howie Rich measures were doing on Election Night 2006 (as they lost 34 of 35), this morning I was back on KOPT, our local AirAmerica "progressive" talk radio affiliate.

As heard on KOPT-AM 1600 in Eugene ("Oregon's Progressive Talk") this morning at 6:38. I call 'em 'political cartoons for the ears.' They are somewhere between Stan Freiberg and Frank Zappa. (No quality comparison intended.) Today's mashup is taken from the Byrds and from Dubya's Saturday radio speech. It clocks in at almost exactly one megabyte and 2:06 duration, in FM-quality stereo.

Today's Radio Mash
Right click and "save as"


Thursday, April 5, 2007


Without comment ...


Lorry Bomb Kills Children in School
By James Hider
The Times of London
Tuesday 03 April 2007

... 21 Shia market workers were ambushed, bound and shot dead north of the capital. The victims came from the Baghdad market visited the previous day by John McCain, the US presidential candidate, who said that an American security plan in the capital was starting to show signs of progress.


Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Jackbooting With Gay Abandon

There is no unifying theme today, unless it is 'evil.' Too much madness to even attempt witty segues or an overarching leitmotif:

Bush went ahead and named Sam "Swiftboat" Fox to be ambassador to Belgium, ANYway, using the excuse that since congress is out of town for Easter (which he criticized, then got on his helicopter and motored away for HIS Easter vacation), he could make Fox a recess appointment. John Kerry had, you will recall, killed the nomination in the Senate.

Bush names Fox to Belgium post despite criticism

Does ANYbody get that Bush uses the Constitution for toilet paper? It's like a cry for help: "Impeach me! Someone PLEASE impeach me!"

Naturally, the pigs of Washington thought that this arrogance was FUNNY. Wonkette sniggers, labeling John Kerry "a born loser," since Bush was able to "defeat" Kerry again. Gee, Wonkette, I wonder how funny it will be when the jackboots kick in your door? "Constitution? We don' need no steeenkin' Constitution!"

And, Randi Rhodes points out that when Bush was pulling his "I'm going to veto the supplemental troop funding bill because it (gasp!) contains pork!" (etc. etc.) speech, DICK CHENEY was lurking in the bushes. No. Seriously. CSPAN caught it on film.

Lurking Cheney

And, while we 'debate' this misbegotten war, you might like to take a short reality check and take a look at the latest American victims of the ghoulish odometer that this "war" has become. (When is anybody going to challenge the meme that we're "losing the war," etc.? It's not a war. It's an OCCUPATION, dammit!)

View the latest "coalition" war dead. (Sorry, the Iraqis aren't worthy of any site, evidently. No inherent racism here.)

Speaking of AirAmerica, WHAT GOES ON!?!?! I went looking for the Cheney video on Randi Rhodes' site, which is parked, and so I went to AirAmerica, and SAW THIS (captured at 7:19 PM PDT)!!!

Click here.

Gee, no wonder he isn't the GOP front runner. Truly weird.

But hey, Tommy Thompson has a PLAN for ending the war! And he announced it today, as he announced his long shot presidential campaign in Wisconsin and again in Iowa.

He's for having the Iraqis "vote" whether we should be there. And for adding a flat tax to the income tax. And he's just gaga about school vouchers. But the funniest moment in his speech was when -- after he waxed nostalgic about his one day of vacation each year as a child, when his parents would take the family to the Wisconsin State Fair and then a Milwaukee Brewers game every year, I kid you not -- when he noted the Republican Party's genesis in Ripon, Wisconsin, and rhapsodized:

"These core beliefs have endured for more than 150 years as we continue to be the Party of Lincoln, the Party of Teddy Roosevelt and the Party of Reagan."

Well, at least he's got a devilish sense of humor. As near as I can tell, the latter spent his time in office attempting to undo everything the former two had accomplished. An oxymoronic candidacy for a party that lost the "oxy" a long time ago.

Full text of Thompson's candidacy announcement (which you probably won't see anywhere else).

And what the hell is it with "American Idol"? I HATE karaoke, and have been immune to the moronic TeeVee display of technique over music that's so popular these daze.

But ALL I hear as "News" is who's been voted off, etc.

This is news? Are we really that mindlessly vapid and sterile? A (dumbass) TV show is NOT news. Got it? GOT IT?

And, I DON'T watch, leave me the hell alone!

Finally, I sent yesterday's blog ("Head 'Em Off At The Dumbass") to Kari Chisolm at BlueOregon, because I thought he might find its take on Oregon politics interesting (even as he appeared, this morning, on my local AirAmerica affiliate, KOPT, as a "pundit" on All Things Oregon).

A reply came back saying I didn't have to bother emailing it to him, because he'd put this little blog up on "Leftie Blogs" (per, to be fair, my request of last week). I take it, therefore, that he didn't actually read it. Too bad.

And, Leftie Blogs Bogs: it never showed up.


Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Head 'Em Off At The Dumbass

It seems astonishing to me that a bunch so "in tune" with the reptile brain could make such an idiotic blunder as Bush did this morning during his canned statement. (His bungling and blundering in the Q&A afterward were, of course, to be expected, and even entertaining).

Let's see what the Dumbass had to say to the reptile brain: If you don't give me the money for the troops I requested, THEY WILL SUFFER.

You gave it to me, but with extra stuff. So, I will veto it.

If you don't give me what I want, the troops will suffer.

The reptile brain isn't big on nuance. What it heard was: GIVE ME WHAT I WANT OR I WILL MAKE THE TROOPS SUFFER.

Combine that with the "if you don't support the troops you are a traitor" message they've been drilling into your head for (literally) years now, and you've got a major reptile brain problem on your hands -- to mix metaphors.

Dumb. Really, really dumb.

But understandable from this crowd: Because they just don't get it.

Just like our own, local dumbasses just don't get it.

You see, last November, they tried to "tricksy" a tax onto the ballot. Oregon, you might be aware, is another one of those "Tax Rebellion" states in which any taxes are automatically seen as evil, but also a state in which, if the case is made reasonably, the voters will vote for a reasonable tax.

The problem goes back to the late 19th century, when it was noticed that all the forests were being logged off. Thus, the national forests were created, and Oregon is reasonably unique in that you will find "checkerboard" patterns in significant chunks, where national forest land was interspersed with private land, because the economy was dependent on logging.

As it remained (and remains) for a century and more.

In order to balance out the equation, the Federal government offered a timber offset fee, that would substitute for the lost property tax that the counties were out of because of the new national forests.

At the time, you will recall, kiddies, the property tax was the main tax in the land. The income tax, used in the North for a brief period during the Civil War was brought in again as a Populist reform measure in 1894, declared unconstitutional and then enshrined in same in 1913.

Which, incidentally, was what the County Commissioners proposed. You see the offset, the timber subsidy, went away this year, in its entirety. Or is ABOUT to go away. ("About" is very, very important here.)

And the county commissioners decided to be prudent and enact a minor add-on to the state income tax. But they couldn't trust the voters, you see.

They phrased the ballot measure along the lines of "That the county income tax should be capped at n percent." (Where n = the old 'n' that you used to not understand in algebra).

["Shall County Charter limit income taxes, dedicate revenues to public safety, and provide property tax relief and a reserve?"was the actual official language)

The capping of a tax that didn't exist would have created the tax, and while Lane County voters may not all be whizzes at algebra, they saw through that one in a heartbeat. The tax was voted down.

So, claiming that NOW there was a huge crisis, and the wolf was at the door, three of the five county commissioners voted to enact an income tax just a couple months later.

"This isn't the SAME tax," they said with tremendous credibility.

The howl that was raised spread across the land, making it all the way to Paul Jacob's house in the new, fashionable suburbs of Washington, D.C. and he did a "Common Sense" radio spot yowl about it.

And then, the Oregon congressional delegation stepped in. Are you kidding? quoth they. We shall get another year for the timber offset.

And when has Congress ever turned down such a thing? We Americans may often be stupid and even brutal, but, generally, we cannot perceive of ourselves as not nice, and thus, the rider was easily tacked onto both the House and Senate versions of the supplemental war funding bill (e.g. emergency cash for the war, because we didn't bother funding it in the lame duck session of the GOP congress).

That was the bill Bush was threatening to veto this morning.

Meanwhile, back in Lane County, the Three Commissioners drew into Siege Mentality, and after considering and rejecting (3-2) repealing the tax, voted to put it on the May ballot, after a quick petition drive got a repeal question for the November ballot (I believe) qualified in ONE DAY.

Gee, do you suppose that the people are MAD at them?

They don't get 'reptile brain,' either.

Because it's not about reason and rationality anymore. The response is just as real as it is visceral and all the argument in the world won't change that.

You ask me permission to do something. You cheat in the way you ask, and I angrily say "NO," and you go ahead and say, I'm going to do it anyway, well, you're either an idiot or a used car salesman.

But don't think that we aren't pissed off.

This county has a long history of putting aside elections. In the first territorial (and runoff) election, it was clearly decided to locate the capitol in Eugene, but, since the Federal Government had already appropriated funds for government buildings in Salem, the election was ignored.

By the time another election was held, the state capitol had been where it was for so long that moving it would have been a major inconvenience and the state dutifully rubber-stamped Salem as the capitol.

Over the past thirty years, here in town, a few elections have taken place, approving a West Side Bypass. And every time, the election is set aside.

The arguments sound remarkably like the arguments being made about the tax that's now on the MAY ballot.

I call it Oregon's own "YOU vote until WE win" tradition. Hell, we've voted down a sales tax NINE times. And it's lost by a wider margin EVERY TIME. (And they're talking about doing it again, naturally. Eventually, enough Californians will move here, and we'll have a sales tax.)

Here in Eugene, we voted on a library five or six times and the last time, it lost by 12 votes, and the City Council said "HEY! Look! We found URBAN RENEWAL money, and built the damned thing anyway, and THEN put a two year funding measure on the ballot, to OPERATE the damned thing, and it was, reluctantly, approved, as was the next one, two years later, as will we in a year or so, again. It is an ugly side to the Oregon "democratic" process that provokes a visceral reaction in voters.

And that's what the county commissioners don't get: as stubborn as they are, the voters are just as stubborn and just as pissy.

Today, a recall was launched against Bobby Greene, our Black commissioner. He's an interesting guy. Used to play football at the University of Oregon. Was appointed to the city council. Won election as an incumbent. Was appointed to the county commission. Ditto.

I only point it out, because, while the angry citizens leading the petition drive would like to recall all three, Bobby is the only one that they can legally go after -- the other two having been re-elected last fall, and not within the time limitation of the recall law. And Bobby is Black.

In lily-white Eugene.

So, now, on top of the fact that this whole freakout has turned into a political war, we're going to have to listen to endless discussions of the fact that Bobby Greene is Black. I don't know WHY it is so. I only know THAT it is so. Onward.

And the County Commissioners are CHIDING us for DARING to suggest that we don't HAVE to pass this tax. They are talking about old people not getting meals on wheels. They are threatening to close parks. They warn us of glaciers attacking helpless coeds.

And I think of what a dumbass George W. Bush is.

Evidently, it cuts across all party lines, since two of the three idiot commissioners are Democrats, albeit extremely conservative Democrats in "nonpartisan" elective office. The enlightened commissioners are both Democrats, as well.

So, this whole damned conflagration.

And I remember that Ulysses S. Grant (I believe) said that the most important thing he learned was not to make important decisions until he HAD to.

So, even though Bush may veto the current war bill and harm the troops until he gets a "clean" bill, I have a feeling that the supplemental timber money will make it through congress.

And, IF that happens, then this whole insane food fight never need have happened. In trying to be "prudent," these Nervous Nellies jumped the gun, crossed the Rubicon, and NEVER HAD TO.

They could not distinguish between a real crisis and a possible (e.g. fantasy) crisis.

Like Major General Joseph J. Reynolds at Chickamauga, they've spent all their time in the battle trying to surrender. So, yes, I think recalls might well be in order. But, as I said, Bobby Greene is Black, and, more importantly, he's a football star from the university, so it's a tough call.

In a crisis, you don't make important decisions until you have to; things just might change. Or, deal with the crap you have, and not the crap you imagine you're going to get. There'll be time enough for that when it arrives.

If the supplemental funding had been killed, there was still time to enact the emergency tax, and have convinced the voters that we should pull together and solve the REAL crisis. As it stands, the tax is DOA.

A fake crisis is sometimes more dangerous than a real one.

At least it was in this case.


Monday, April 2, 2007

But What About Wymong?

I sometimes wonder if all this "early election" stuff isn't just a red herring to take the heat off a besieged Republican party that has engaged in negligent and criminal behavior on a scale unprecedented in American history.

I was a crazy-early founder of "Lane County for Kerry" in 2005. We met in JULY! In American political history, it was karazzee early, but I was very committed to getting Bush out of the White House.

Were I to do the same in this electoral cycle ... I would be karazee LATE. Over at BlueOregon there's a long series of speculations on the fate of Gordon Smith in November of 2008.

And that's called "science fiction" where I come from—which includes a lot of science fiction authors.

I'm going to tell you my old political rule of thumb, and back it up with something I said in 1991 that nobody now remembers. During the State of the Union speech in 1991, George Herbert Walker Bush got the longest sustained ovation I've seen in the House of Representatives, period. And I listened to the TeeVee talking heads trying to fill the time during the ovation by yakking about how astronomically high his approval ratings were, and how it was IMPOSSIBLE to imagine him not being re-elected in November 1992.

And I said: Pshaw and bullfeathers, children. I don't give a damn WHO it is, whoever the Democratic candidate is, he or she will win that election.

And I recited Hart's Rule of Thumb for US Politics: A YEAR is an eternity in politics.

(You might recall who won the election in 1992. I recall predicting it almost a year before I ever heard of William Jefferson Clinton. But then, we all know about my credibility.)

And I want to talk about another Clinton, and I want you to understand how angry I am that "We, the People" STILL refuse to have the national debate (or, more to the point, are NOT allowed by our talking head media) on WHY we have junked the primary system in favor of a "Whoever Has The Most Money Wins" system.

The backers of George W. Bush realized that. If you will recall, by MARCH, John McCain (who was kicking Bush's ass because large numbers of voters were jumping the political fence to vote in Republican primaries ... for McCain!) by March, McCain was sunk, because he literally didn't have the money to be competitive on "Super Tuesday," and that was it.

And, I predicted that the next primary season would be over by the end of March, and we'd have a national debate on the question of WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO THE PRIMARY SYSTEM?

I am no Crystal-ball Psychic, obviously. I got that one spectacularly wrong. (But, in both cases, the conclusions were reached by REASON and not by any obscure form of skrying or mantic art whatsoever.)

I was right that the race was over, though. I can't remember which "O.J." circus they entertained us with, but I do remember eating a lot of free bread. Think about it: The whole presidential primary system has gone completely off the rails.

We will never have another Jimmy Carter. We will never have another John F. Kennedy. Hell, we may never have another Reagan or even George H.W. Bush ("The Elder") again. We'll never have the debate a Jerry Brown could bring to the race, or the weird sideshows of Pat Robertson or Pat Buchanan. It is tempting to say that America can't stand pat, but, alas, we should have stood pat. We'd never have another Bill Clinton, either, no matter how you feel about him.

The system that we had in the primaries, which were first PRACTICED in Oregon in 1904 (as one of the first Ballot Initiatives from the Referendum that created the process in 1902, by a vote of 62,024 to 5068) is busted. By 1996, so many greedy states had moved their primaries up that the Republican presidential campaign was essentially over by April first. Here's what happened in March 1996, with Pat Buchanan and Steve Forbes duking it out with Kreepy Old Bob Dole. (Courtesy of CNN's All Politics, adapted and condensed here):

Friday, March 1

* Dem.. super delegates

Saturday, March 2

* South Carolina GOP primary
* Wyoming GOP caucuses

Sunday, March 3

* Puerto Rico GOP Primary


* Colorado Primary
* Maryland Primary
* Georgia Primary
* Vermont Primary
* Maine Primary
* Rhode Island Primary
* Massachusetts Primary
* Connecticut Primary
* Minnesota Caucus
* Idaho Democratic Caucus
* America Samoa Caucus
* Washington Caucus
* South Carolina Democratic Caucus

Thursday, March 7

* New York Primary
* Missouri Democratic Caucus

Friday, March 8

* Alaska Democratic Caucus
* Arizona Democratic Caucus
* South Dakota Democratic Caucus
* Missouri GOP caucus

Sunday, March 10

* Nevada Democratic Caucus
* Puerto Rico Democratic Primary


* Florida Primary
* Louisiana Primary
* Mississippi Primary
* Oklahoma Primary
* Tennessee Primary
* Texas Primary
* Hawaii Primary
* Oregon Primary

Thursday, March 14

* [Steve] Forbes will formally announce that he is dropping out of the GOP race, and will endorse Bob Dole

Saturday, March 16

* Michigan Democratic Caucus

Sunday, March 17

* Michigan Democratic Caucus.

Tuesday, March 19

* Illinois Primary
* Michigan Primary
* Ohio Primary
* Wisconsin Primary

Saturday, March 23

* Wymong (sic) Democratic Caucus

Tuesday, March 26

* California Primary
* Washington Primary
* Nevada GOP Primary

Thursday, March 28

* Utah Caucus

Friday, March 29

* First Day of North Dakota Democratic Caucus

Saturday, March 30

* Virgin Islands Caucus

Sunday, March 31

* Final Day of North Dakota Democratic Caucus
I'd tell you what the primaries were in April, but there weren't any. In fact, there was only one caucus. Here is the last day of the primary race:

Tuesday, April 2

* Kansas Caucus
* Buchanan is in the Washington area.
* Dole is on vacation in Florida.
So, if you were in Wymong for the month of March, the entire presidential primary season was over by the time you got back in April.

But at the beginning of February, here's how the field looked—with the usual assortment of TV and Radio personalities, senators, governors and a congressman, precisely TWO months earlier:

Thursday, February 1

* [Lamar]Alexander in Grundy Center and Dubuque, IA
* [Pat] Buchanan in Merrimack and Concord, NH
* [Bob]Dole in Nashua, NH
* [Steve]Forbes campaigns in Council Bluffs, IA
* [Phil] Gramm makes four stops in IA
* [Dick] Lugar stumps in Council Bluffs, IA
* [Maurice "The Grizz"] Taylor in IA

Friday, February 2

* Alexander campaigns in Manchester, NH
* Forbes campaigns in Des Moines, Newton and Marshalltown, IA
* Dole campaigns in South Carolina
* Gramm campaigns in Iowa
* Lugar campaigns in Des Moines, IA
* [Alan] Keyes campaigns in Iowa
* Taylor campaigns in Iowa

Saturday, February 3

* Buchanan campaigns in Louisiana
* Dole stumps in Iowa
* Forbes in New Hampshire
* Gramm goes to New Hampshire
* Keyes campaigns in Iowa
* Taylor in New Hampshire

Friday, February 9

* All the candidates campaign in Iowa

Saturday, February 10

* [Robert "B-1 Bob"] Dornan is in San Francisco on Saturday (Dornan's first appearance since making TV & radio appearances in D.C. in January).

By April first, all would be gone. Buchanan would soldier on (but mostly because he loved the attention).

Was that REALLY what we wanted? And it's only gotten worse since then. Already, Governor Tom Vilsack of Iowa has suspended his campaign. Why? He couldn't raise enough money FAST enough! That should have sent up red flags.

According to today's news, Hillary Clinton raised $26 million in the first quarter (and transferred $10 million from her senatorial war chest, frugally set aside from her non-race for re-election in 2004) for a record total of $36 million.

No wonder we've had to start the presidential election so early. It used to be that the longer primary season gave us a chance to really shop—in 1968, Bobby Kennedy clinched the Democratic Nomination in the June California primary, having built an organization and an operation from scratch between the time Eugene McCarthy shocked then-President Lyndon Johnson in the March New Hampshire Primary, Johnson's withdrawal from the race, and Kennedy's entry into the race on March 16.

Sirhan B. Sirhan ended that candidacy in the hallway of the Ambassador Hotel (razed last year) in the minutes following RFK's June 6 victory speech with a .22 pistol.

But we had a chance to decide who the candidates would be. In 1976, Jimmy Carter went from Jimmy Who? to the nominee in the long testing process of the primaries.

Wikipedia says it fine, so no need to remint:

"... As a result, rather than stretching from March to July, most primaries take place in a compressed time frame in February and March. National party leaders also have an interest in compressing the primary calendar, as it enables the party to reduce the chance of a bruising internecine battle and to preserve resources for the general campaign...."

And California just moved its primary up to "the first Tuesday in February." Oregon considers following suit, as our legislature moves in the direction of a February 5, 2008 primary, as well.

Nevada has moved its caucuses up to the week between the Iowa Caucuses (Jan. 14) and the New Hampshire Primary (Jan. 22). And so it goes.

The dominoes are tumbling, but that all started a long time ago, when Iowa cut in line ahead of New Hampshire -- according to Wikipedia, an accident:

In 1976 an uncommitted slate received the most support, however, the headlines went to a formerly obscure Georgia governor Jimmy Carter, who, while coming in a distant second, won the most votes for any actual candidate. With no actual front runner at the time, Carter was able to use the publicity of his "win" to achieve victory in the New Hampshire primary, and then on to win his party's nomination and eventually the presidency. Since then, presidential candidates have focused increasingly on achieving a win in Iowa.

In 1977, New Hampshire enshrined in law a statute that their primary HAD to be the first in the nation. And so the electoral arms race began, with few winners and 300 million losers.

The madness continues at an accelerated pace today. The Concord [NH] Monitor reports today:

More than 20 states - many of them delegate-rich and home to expensive advertising markets - have either moved their primaries to Feb. 5, 2008, or are considering the change. The moves could mean that both parties' nominees will be decided just days after New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary.... "Money is much more important this time around than ever before because no candidate can count on momentum to build from Iowa and New Hampshire," said David King, a lecturer in public policy at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. Feb. 5 will likely be "a national primary of the most stupefying kind because it's a primary that takes place 10 months before the national election."

As it stands, the presidency is on the block to the highest bidder. You have to have a horse in the race that's "electible" (in 1996 Texas Senator Phil Graham had a potload of money but nobody voted for him).

But the day of the "dark horse" is over.

And that's a damned shame. We lose the people who might have served with distinction, and we lose the debate. The only winners are the marketers, who, increasingly, package and sell our politicians to us like so many sausages.

Or, if you like, weiners.

I think I'll just head for Wymong. Tell me when it's over.


Sunday, April 1, 2007

April Fools

In deference to the "leadership" of the Executive branch, we will forego the complex Zen jokes and zany epistemological pratfalls that generally characterize our response to this, their special day. (If we keep this simple, even Homeland Sekurity will be able to understand it.)

Instead, we will merely offer this pithy quote in honor of Gonzo, Dubya and the other wannabes who have managed to make George McGovern nostalgic for Nixon:

: Apes don't read philosophy.
Wanda: Yes they do, Otto, they just don't understand it.
And the London Underground STILL isn't a political movement.