Knowing the Score What with all the commercials airing about alleged votes against God, country and the Boy Scouts, the middle of a campaign season can be a lousy time to get the facts about a candidate. On environmental issues, for instance, just about every Republican has pawned off earlier votes on drilling holes in the Arctic to come out as a fan of big blue skies, clean rivers and tall trees. People who don’t keep score inevitably get confused.
At the League of Conservation Voters we do keep the score, and last week our scorecard for the 107th Congress hit the street. Here in Georgia, the difference between the candidates for the Senate can boggle the mind — Republican nominee Saxby Chambliss netted a zero, a score reserved for politicians who still think trees pollute.
I Don’t Want That Extra Time High school students in Henry County, Ga., have no problem keeping their minds focused on their studies, thanks to a high school principal who considers it his personal mission to help teens curb their hormonal urges. His chief means of encouragement: dishing out healthy in-school suspensions to students he catches in mid-amorous dalliance in the hallways. He benched a football player from the homecoming game this weekend for giving his girlfriend a peck on the forehead.
With Georgia students coming close to scraping up double-digit scores on the SAT, I thought that schools here might have better priorities to tend to. But that’s just me. The principal says the hugging and kissing detract from a “strong academic environment,” and he may have a point — but if you ask me, a good kiss is an education in itself.
The kids of Henry County are smart enough to figure that out in good time. But would I ever hate to be that principal’s kids when they start dating.
My Public-Service Ad Can Beat Your Public-Service Ad It’s Friday afternoon in the ATL, and I’m feeling cocky. Why? Well, our office got hit with a flurry of e-mails last night and this morning about a get-out-the-vote radio spot we produced last month. We needed to get something quick to boost turnout among black women between the ages of 30-54. We did it in stealth mode.
What’s so nifty about it? Nothing really. Just a voiceover by some lady named Coretta Scott King (*.mp3 player required).
Now the whole nonprofit is beating a path to our door to get the rights. They’re welcome to join the party, of course. When you hear the ad in your town, though, just remember: we thought it up first.
What's the point here? Simple: that I'm the king of rock. There is none higher. Now, get back to work.
He'll Be Illin' As you probably know, hip-hop legend Jam Master Jay was shot and killed last night at a in a Queens recording studio. Watch next week to see whether Glenn Reynolds causes a kerfuffle about, say, inappropropriately boisterous rap music at the memorial service.
Playing Games with Health The policymeisters in the Bush administration have struck again, continuing their sub rosa war on the right to choice by having a science panel redefine embryos as "human subjects" when used in medical research. Brilliant. Through using regulations to make the change rather than a bill in Congress, the White House gets to throw the GOP kulturkampf caucus a bone without rousing media attention or organized opposition. Democrats, meanwhile, get presented with a fait accompli — the party can't go on a counteroffensive without looking bent out of shape. [Last month's move to extend health care to fetuses makes an even better example of the White House's tactics.]
Make Sense, Not War With all my joking around about the War of Inigo Montoya, I need to clarify that I'm no peacenik. Call me a Hitchens liberal on this: Saddam is a huge problem — and he's our problem. We created him. He's a threat to his own people, a proven threat to the region, and he needs to be brought down.
But this administration's war gives me the willies. Bush lies too much. He plans too little. He speaks loudly among diplomats, then carries a wee tiny stick. He has no strategy, and he offers no vision for a future Middle East aside from the leaked plan to hold it in military trusteeship. How long will that take? How many reservists will we need to keep mobilized? When can we stand down? No one knows. It makes Gore Vidal's complaint about "perpetual war" sound none too far from the mark.
And then there's the war on radical Islam. We can grab an upper hand in that fight by defunding the Islamists — that is, by curbing America's appetite for Middle Eastern oil. Doing that would dry up the money pool for terrorists and leave us with no reason to prop up repressive governments that breed prime recruits for terrorists. Conquering Iraq, on the other hand, only leaves us more enmeshed in regional affairs, and gives stifled young Arabs an more prominent target for their frustrations. With Bush's war, in other words, America would end up with more exposure to the region at a time when it should want less.
Which leaves me completely torn. Do I go on record against war? No, because I don't oppose war. I just oppose this one. That makes me tactically allied with the movement, even though I disagree with it. There, I've said it — I oppose this war. But don't expect me to don my Socialist Workers' Party hairshirt.
I will, however, link to this new site, which apparently plans to become a clearinghouse for the most sensible antiwar arguments around. Even though I don't oppose war, I can support these bloggers' reasons for opposing this one.
Insta-Piffle Okay, now this is just plain asinine.
So Mondale and Clinton see each and other at a funeral, have a joke, and laugh. So what? Funerals can be a tough time, trying and emotionally fraught — but they also bring together old friends and colleagues who haven't seen one another in years. Why not smile about that? Why stifle your emotions for the sake of decorum? Why not just live — after all, isn't life what a funeral is supposed to celebrate?
When someone dear to my heart took her own life a few years ago, I got a chance to see high school classmates and teachers I hadn't talked with in five years. Do you know what? I laughed. I almost cried a few times, too, but laughter and smiles were all around the room. So I'm the kind of guy who laughs at a funeral — but it felt right, it felt good, and at the end of the day not one of my friends didn't seem to feel better. I dare anyone to question our humanity for that.
The High, the Mighty, and Me I had a weird day at work. I had to spend a few hours with Jane Fonda.
Alright, so I didn't get the up-close-and-personal treatment — I can't send you autographed photos from Barbarella. But it was a fundraiser. What could I do?
The event was a Turner Foundation shindig called Empowered Women: Voices and Visions, and for a first run it went pretty well. The planning team was disorganized as heck — I've been on the phone with them off and on in the last few days, and once or twice I thought I heard the distinct sound of bats in a belfry — but somehow, even with about 1500 in attendance, the lunch came together.
The highlight would have been Maxine Waters — something tells me she does a great monologue. Events in Minnesota stole her away, though, so we had to make do without. We were hardly short for talent — what with the presidents of PBS and the League of Conservation Voters in attendance, the guest list still looked pretty empowered.
My boss delivered a few remarks that went over just fine, as always. Fonda stopped the show, though. Somewhere in the middle of her Joyce-esque stream of consciousness she decided to share a choice observation with the crowd: "[n]ow that I've gotten to a certain age, I've started to move toward causes that are . . . close to my heart. And that's sex."
Poor waitstaff. They had to pick an awful lot of jaws up from the floor after the show was over.
This being Atlanta, the setting wouldn't have been complete without Ted Turner, who cracked a few jokes before letting his daughter run the show. When he made his way to my corner of the lobby before the show, I had to make a dash for it to keep from hitting the floor laughing. He startled these two poor Junior Leaguers working the event with a totally improvised song about "women, women — powerful women . . . "
Yowza. They don't call him the mouth of the South for nothing.
Anyhow, that was my day. I had a good lunch, and heard some pretty good guests. Not that I feel like an empowered woman now, but I'm glad I spent the time.
What Do I Know? Design tips, Mac notes and local commentary from a fellow Atlanta blogger. I haven't emphasized this before, but we've got some trulygiftedonesdownhere. [And I could show you plenty of links where those came from.]
Big White Guy. Observations of an American a Canadian thirtysomething in HK. Click here for a good vignette about life over there.
The Morning News. Someone tell me — why have I been skipping past this site for so long?
Four sites, four perspectives, and four great ways to while away a few minutes of time. Knock yourselves out.
Asking the Tough Questions Your inquiring blogger wants to know a few things:
ever since Microsoft Outlook stopped displaying e-mail in fixed-width fonts by default, the neat .sig files that people used to spend gobs of time perfecting for display have completely disappeared. I kind of miss them. Anyone else for bringing those back?
Okay, music theory buffs: where do you put the downbeat in the Nokia default ringtone? I can't tell. Is it on the first note or the third?
At Blockbuster over the weekend I saw not one, but two copies of Glitter on the new rentals shelf. Query: can there be any legitimate excuse for renting that? [Note: "for a drinking game" is an acceptable answer.]
The Green[e]house Effect. Going after the answers you need to know.
Just a Dainty Little War I read at breakfast that White House officials say the War of Inigo Montoya — "you killed my father. Prepare to die" — might require the military brass to call up as many reservists as the Pentagon needed for the Gulf War. But there's nothing to fear. The war should be a breeze. And we won't need to stay around for long to clean up the mess. Pass the margarine?
Why Make Matters Worse? Israel's a great country with a great people, period. Which is why it troubles me to see stories like this.
YANUN, West Bank Oct. 19 — Sobbing as they filled a truck with furniture and piled themselves into dusty cars, six Palestinian families set out from this tiny village of old stone houses, leaving it completely abandoned.
Members of the Sobih clan said they were fleeing the village once home to 25 families after four years of worsening attacks by Jewish settlers, who have set up illegal outposts on nearby hilltops. The attacks have become increasingly frequent in recent months, they said.
Groups of masked Jewish settlers have charged into the village, coming at night with dogs and horses, stealing sheep, hurling stones through windows and beating the men with fists and rifle butts, Palestinian residents said.
An electricity generator has been scorched by fire, knocking out power to the village. Three large water tanks were tipped over and emptied.
Land for peace is bankrupt until the Palestinians can select a peaceful leadership. That's a given. But sooner or later, the situation has to get resolved, and expropriating land in the meantime only makes matters worse. It doesn't make sense from a security standpoint — and it's not what Israel is all about.
On the Green[e]house Job Line If you're an environmental lawyer, and the idea of keeping a river from going to crap is your speed, heads up: the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper needs a new general counsel. The organization is at the forefront of efforts to rehab north Georgia watersheds and fight for tougher enforcement of environmental laws. Applicants need three years of litigation experience. The job pays between $50,000 and $60,000 per year.
I'm not interested in the post right now, but maybe you are — or maybe you know a talented lawyer who might be. Whatever. Just spread the word.
Let No One Put Asunder For me, at least, this story is pretty darned inspiring.
So close were they, friend Marcia Avner said, that "a really bad day for a [campaign] scheduler was when you couldn't bring them together at the end of the day. They just had to be together. Neither one was fully comfortable unless they were working together."
Occasionally, he had to endure the ribbing of fellow senators, who would ask him before a vote, "Well, what did Sheila tell you?"
Mondale Returns It looks as though Walter Mondale is going to take the baton from Paul Wellstone in the Minnesota senate race. What good news.
He may not be the font of energy and innovation that I was looking for. [And, frankly, that lots of young progressives hanker for — paging Cory Booker! — 'though that's another subject.] But that's not the point here. What Mondale does is something far more valuable: bring the Democrats walking proof that what we're doing right now — opposing the Bush agenda, and fighting to stop it — is important enough to put everything else on hold for. Including retirement.
Think about it for a second. Lautenberg came out of retirement a few weeks ago to save the New Jersey seat. He's nobody's idea of a liberal icon, but his intercession still sent a message about how serious Democrats are about keeping that seat. Now comes Wellstone's death in unimaginable circumstances — and through the revolving door comes a former vice president, a liberal lion if ever there were one. If that doesn't show you how seriously our elder statesmen take holding onto the Senate and fighting against Bush, I don't know what does.
If that message sinks through in the next nine days, it'll be worth more than even the most brilliant get out the vote effort. And it should make for some memorable times when Tom Daschle convenes the Senate in 2003.
We Can't Win 'Em All Watching Wahoo football is about to make me a nervous wreck. If this team tries to pull out just one more last-minute comeback, I'll be flat out of fingernails.
Yesterday, here in Atlanta, their luck ran out. Once again, those trusty Cavs scored all of their points in the second half — but that couldn't bail them out this time, so they lost to the Yellow Jackets, 23-15. Let me personally attest that the first half of football was so heinous that I fled into Borders books after a few minutes and read through a British music magazine.
I like surprises; don't get me wrong. It's just that I'd rather watch world-championship girls' curling than live through a full season of these rollercoaster, high-blood pressure Saturdays. Let's hope — for your faithful blogger's sake — that the next time the Wahoos hit the gridiron, they can get some points on the scoreboard before the very end.
In the News The D.C. protest march against war in Iraq made the front page of the Post today. News of the firing of an Emory history professor is still nowhere to be found, though, so somewhere in Knoxville, Glenn Reynolds is still harrumphing.
Doin' It for Themselves The wife of George Tenet, who heads the CIA, just co-wrote a book on how women can fix gadgets around the house when their husbands are too busy to pitch in. If you're asking me, that's intelligence.