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Rob Goodspeed
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6/30: dcist concert @black cat
7/2: live8 in philly
7/13: nat'l student conference
8/15+: student activist training in a2
10/23: detroit marathon

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Thursday, June 30th, 2005

Mainers: No Fools

I was excited to find this Maine Politics blog that got started recently. The author recently attended a visit to the state by Bush advisor Andrew Card:

The exciting part in Bangor didn’t come during the speech, but after it. Card had said his piece, the small audience had applauded politely and he was headed for the exit, when an old Mainer stood up in the middle of the room and said his piece. “Where are you going? I thought this was supposed to be a dialogue.” Card turned and paused, the cameras flashed, and he began to move back towards the podium.

The man, a retired history professor (whom the BDN identifies as “Clyde MacDonald, 75, of Hampden") asked an excellent question about the wisdom of drawing down the trust fund in order to fund a new program when the real issue in Social Security is solvency. Card mocked him a bit and turned for another question. I think he picked me because I was clean-cut and wearing a young-republicanesque polo shirt.

I began my question by stating that President Bush often denigrates the Social Security trust fund, claiming it doesn’t exist and that it is full of worthless IOUs. I didn’t get any farther. Card looked right at me and said that the President does no such thing. …

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsMaine by Rob at 2:02 pm

Wednesday, June 29th, 2005

Intern Blog Launches

Today, the Center for American Progress’ Campus Progress project launched a blog for interns in DC for the summer:

Today Campus Progress launches Social Capital, a new blog/calendar (blogendar?) designed not only to make sure your social calendar remains packed while you’re in DC, but also to give you a place to share stories about crazy intern mixups, tidbits overheard in hallways or on the Metro, right-wing buffet spreads, and more.

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsWashington D.C.Blogosphere by Rob at 3:51 pm

Tuesday, June 28th, 2005

Student Voting Rights

I feel like I’ve been really testing the adage “it’s better late than never” on this blog lately. Anyway, I was recently reminded of a group that I vaguely knew about that did a lot of great work during the 2004 election - the Student Voting Rights Campaign. With Eugene Kang running in Ann Arbor I’ve been thinking about voting rights more frequently these days. Go check out their site. Their their listserv archives is in particular a great treasure-trove of student voting information. From their about page:

So long as students are systematically discouraged or prevented from engaging in electoral politics in the communities that they call home, we will have less young people on the voter rolls, we will have less vibrancy and innovation in our local politics, we will raise more citizens who become politically apathetic adults, we will retain a needlessly vast cultural age gap, our government will be less responsive to the concerns of the young and we will have a weaker democracy than we deserve.

One of the founders of the organization, Ellen Kolasky, wrote a report for the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund last summer that I blogged about in September on the suppression of student voting rights. When I went to find a copy of the report online it was nowhere to be seen, but I tracked down an electronic copy from LCVEF:

> “Not Home, Not Welcome: Barriers To Student Voters” (PDF)

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsElections by Rob at 4:42 pm

Land Politics

When I was on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota a few years back I wondered why there seemed to be so many white-owned ranches on ostensibly native land. Turns out the feds lease the land to the whites, and pass along the check along to the true owners. (Well, some of it at least - remember the billions of dollars of native money they “lost"?) This from an op-ed in the Times:

As the land under their control dwindled, they presumed that Indians were not “competent” to own land outright. It had to be placed under the agency’s own enlightened trusteeship. They kept allotting parcels of this “trust land” to individual Indians, but an Indian couldn’t sell or lease his parcel without permission from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The rules discouraged sales and encouraged parcels of land to be passed on to multiple heirs. Today it’s common to find a tract with dozens or hundreds of owners. Instead of inheriting the family ranch, which they could work themselves or use as collateral to start another business, these Indians inherit the right to collect checks from the federal bureaucrats who lease their land to others, usually non-Indians. …

Some Indians are trying to go back to the old system, but it’s not easy, as Gus Gardner has discovered. For five years he has been hoping to exchange his trust lands - tiny portions of more 100 different tracts on the Crow reservation - for one big piece of land for his own cattle ranch. But he figures the paperwork involved will take at least another three years. …

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsHistoryJustice by Rob at 11:20 am

Monday, June 27th, 2005

BAM-N Activist Killed In Detroit

The Ann Arbor News reports that Joe Wagner, a 21-year-old Ann Arbor man who was an organizer for BAM-N in Detroit has been killed. The details surrounding the killing are unclear. (Via)

Comments (0) • Posted to Ann ArborPoliticsBAM-N by Rob at 4:28 pm

Sunday, June 26th, 2005

What They’re Worth

The WaPo on some notable members of the House and Senate. Look up how much the pols are worth on Opensecrets.

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 10:45 pm

Paulo Freire on ‘the Word’

Not sure why I’ve been thinking about this recently. This is the first few paragraphs of chapter three of Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed:

As we attempt to analyze dialogue as a human phenomenon, we discover something which is the essence of dialogue itself: the word. But the word is more than just an instrument which makes dialogue possible; accordingly, we must seek its constitutive elements. Within the word we find two dimensions, reflection and action, in such radical interaction that if one is sacrificed — even in part — the other immediately suffers. There is no true word that is not at the same time a praxis. Thus, to speak a true word is to transform the world.

An unauthentic word, one which is unable to transform reality, results when dichotomy is imposed upon its constitutive elements. When a word is deprived of its dimension of action, reflection automatically suffers as well; and the word is changed into idle chatter, into verbalism, into an alienated and alienating “blah.” It becomes an empty word, one which cannot denounce the world, for denunciation is impossible without a commitment to transform, and there is no transformation without action.

On the other hand, if action is emphasized exclusively to the detriment of reflection, the word is converted into activism. The latter — action for action’s sake — negates the true praxis and makes dialogue impossible. Either dichotomy, by creating unauthentic forms of existence, creates also unauthentic forms of thought which reinforce the original dichotomy.

Human existence cannot be silent nor can it be nourished by false words, but only by true words, with which men and women transform the world. To exist humanly is to name the world, to change it. Once named, the world in its turn reappears to the namers as a problem and requires of them a new naming. Human beings are not built in silence, but in word, in work, in action-reflection.


Comments (1) • Posted to BooksPolitics by Rob at 2:48 am

Saturday, June 25th, 2005

Rally for Education in Michigan

A rally in Lansing, Michigan this week that organizers had hoped to draw a few thousand people attracted over 10,000, making it the largest rally at the state capitol in at least 20 years. The rally, organized by the K-16 Coalition for Michigan’s Future, was designed to pressure the state legislature to increase funding for public schools in the state:

Schools have had three years of no increases with per-pupil funding stuck at a minimum of $6,700. There were mid-year cuts of about $74 per pupil for two years running, while health care, retirement and other fixed costs increased. Gov. Jennifer Granholm has proposed a $175-per-pupil increase next year. House and Senate versions of the K-12 budget also include the increase. (cite)

With high unemployment and a struggling auto industry, Michigan’s economy has continued to languish. See media clips about the rally.

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsMichigan by Rob at 2:28 pm

Friday, June 24th, 2005

I’m Sorry, Is this Surprising?

Cntr for Public Integrity: Traveling on the Abramoff Plan: Dozens of members of Congress have accepted trips from non-profits with registered lobbyists on their boards

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 10:57 am

Technorati, Live 8 Team Up

The folks at the blog search engine Technorati have teamed up with the organizers of the concerts to create an “Blog Central” where they’ll be aggregating blog posts about the concerts. I’m considering going to the concert, but a friend of mine is in town that weekend so I am not sure if I’ll make it up there. See concert information on the official Live8 website.

Comments (2) • Posted to PoliticsBlogosphereTechnology by Rob at 10:38 am

Data Mining: So Hot Right Now

> WaPo: “Pentagon Creating Student Database
> NYTimes: “Age 16 to 25? The Pentagon Has Your Number, and More

From the NYTimes story:

The Defense Department and a private contractor have been building an extensive database of 30 million 16-to-25-year-olds, combining names with Social Security numbers, grade-point averages, e-mail addresses and phone numbers.

The department began building the database three years ago, but military officials filed a notice announcing plans for it only last month. That is apparently a violation of the federal Privacy Act, which requires that government agencies accept public comment before new records systems are created.

Comments (1) • Posted to PoliticsTechnology by Rob at 10:02 am

‘We finally won something’

Someone at my office said the comment above referring to the change-of-heart the House had on funding for the CPB. No, we didn’t: we kept a radical plot that the conservative movement has been talking about for years from passing. Now, lets talk about firing Tomlinson (which a few organizations are), re-hiring Bill Moyers to do NOW - or at least returning that program to the 1-hour format (the cause of this whole flap if you remember), getting rid of the Wall Street Editorial Board show (they have a major paper as a pulpit and don’t deserve to use public money to shout louder) and perhaps, you know, double funding for public broadcasting. To the naysayers, three letters: BBC.

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 9:14 am

Thursday, June 23rd, 2005

Kang Campaign

I just spoke to someone with Eugene Kang’s campaign. They sound like they’re building a sound infastructure, and promise a website is coming soon …

Comments (0) • Posted to Ann ArborPolitics by Rob at 2:42 pm

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2005

History Repeating

I just read this blurb off the AP wire - apparently a U2 spy plane was shot down over an unspecified Asian country, which is still secret due to “host nation sensitivities.” You may remember a U2 shot down over the Soviet Union in 1960 caused quite the diplomatic flap.

U.S. Spy Plane Crashes in Southwest Asia

Published: June 22, 2005
Filed at 8:16 a.m. ET

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) – A U.S. Air Force U-2 spy plane has crashed in southwest Asia, the U.S. military announced Wednesday, and one official said the location has not been released because ‘’host nation sensitivities'’ are involved.

The cause of the crash and the pilot’s status were not known, U.S. Central Command said in a brief written statement. The crash happened Tuesday night at 2330 GMT.

The Central Command’s statement used the term southwest Asia, which can be used as a substitute for describing the Middle East.

‘’The specific location is not releasable due to host nation sensitivities,'’ U.S. Air Force Capt. David W. Small, a Central Command spokesman, said in an e-mailed response to a query for more information.

Small said he expected that the military would release more information shortly.

Update: It crashed in the United Arab Emirates, and the pilot was killed.

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 9:22 am

Monday, June 20th, 2005

Inviting BAM-N To Speak

According to an email I was forwarded, the featured speaker at a fundraiser in for MARAL Pro-Choice Michigan in Ann Arbor Thursday is non other than Miranda Massie.

Miranda was the lead attorney for one group of student intervenors (the law students - not the undergrad intervenors) in the Grutter v. Bollinger affirmative action case. She’s also the sister of Luke Massie, an organizer for the organization Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action By Any Means Necessary (BAM-N). She’s also one of the core leaders of a Trotskyite sect called the Revolutionary Workers League which goes by the name BAM-N in public. RWL was founded by George Washington, an activist attorney who built up a practice with a small group (Scheff & Washington) in combination with his efforts to build a revolutionary Trotskyite organization.

This one is tough: Massie is no doubt an accomplished attorney and the law firm has certainly litigated a number of worthy cases. In general I have heard only good things about MARAL, and I trust they simply don’t know much about BAM-N, but I question their wisdom of inviting Massie to speak. Despite the slickness of their “Speakers’ Bureau” webpage, there’s a lot about BAM-N they wouldn’t like you to know. BAM-N’s recruitment tactics verge on cult-like (One former member was brought to Detroit to participate in hours-long Marxist study sessions), and their organizing tactics are always divisive, sometimes violent, and frequently downright nasty. In his role as organizer for the group, Luke Massie has physically intimidated friends of mine, engaged in yelling matches, and called one of my best friends (an ACLU member and committed progressive) a “white devil.” Nathan Newman, a well-known journalist and blogger and columnist for the Populist Progressive, has called BAM-N a “threat … to the affirmative action and civil rights movement” and said his research, “In twenty years of political organizing, I have never seen such violent and thuggish behavior, a step beyond the worst sectarian acts I had ever imagined.” The Michigan Daily has harshly criticized the organization in an editorial.

So, I guess I wouldn’t invite a member of the group to come to speak at my fundraiser. But that’s just me. Here’s the bio they circulated on their email:

About Miranda Massie
Miranda Massie is a civil rights attorney with Scheff & Washington in Detroit, and has been actively involved in organizing for women’s rights and civil rights throughout her education and career. Massie is currently representing a sixteen-year-old male from Macomb County charged
with a major felony for trying to assist his girlfriend in terminating her pregnancy. He is being tried for intentional conduct against a pregnant individual resulting in miscarriage or stillbirth, a 15-year felony. Massie argues that it was not assault because the girlfriend consented to the means of the termination, and that the young girl was simply exercising her right to an abortion.

Massie received a B.A magna cum laude from Cornell University, an M.A in History and American Studies from Yale University, and a J.D. cum laude from the New York University School of Law in 1996. One of her best known cases is Grutter v. Bollinger, for which she served as lead counsel to student defendants in the University of Michigan affirmative action case.
Massie is also currently a member of the legal team challenging Ward Connerly’s attempts to ban affirmative action in Michigan.

These days, BAM-N spends their time blowing hot air about MCRI. For organizing that’s not from a freaky fringe group on MCRI, check out Citizens for a United Michigan. For more info, see my somewhat outdated information page:, or if you’re new to all this check out my BAM-N Update post from January 2004.

Comments (3) • Posted to Ann ArborPoliticsBAM-N by Rob at 11:16 pm

More Kang Press

My friend George just posted something about Kang’s race in the 600-member Ann Arbor / Ypsi Live Journal Community

Comments (0) • Posted to Ann ArborPolitics by Rob at 5:47 pm

A Perfect Storm Brewing in Ann Arbor?

Upon the request of summer Michigan Daily editorial page editor Donn Fresard, I adapted my recent blog post on the status of student power in Ann Arbor into a viewpoint for the Daily. In it, I point to the Ann Arbor blogosphere, new student and renter-oriented neighborhood organizations, and Eugene’s candidacy as three conditions which could allow for the fundamental shift in student politics I’ve been rooting for for years:

Student and renter attempts at community organizing have been stymied in recent years. Whether by student apathy, the hostility of the city’s political elites or a lack of serious and motivated candidates for Ann Arbor City Council, efforts to involve a major part of the city in the local public life have sputtered. However, I believe a number of recent developments has shown that a group of students and renters has coalesced that will seriously contend for power in the city: Conditions are ripe for a perfect storm that could revolutionize Ann Arbor politics. …

No matter how perfectly aligned the conditions, the storm won’t strike without unprecedented energy fueling it. If they set their minds to it, students have both the political base and intellectual resources to be a potent political force that could fundamentally reshape the city’s political landscape. An atmosphere of complacency and pessimism about what is possible for the city hangs around city hall. Let’s imagine a city where tenants’ rights are a top priority; the planning commission and council aggressively pursue an agenda of dense, sustainable development; and new and radical ideas to provide affordable housing — such as subsidized housing and rent control — are earnestly explored. If they set their minds to it, students like Dale Winling and Eugene Kang — and their supporters — could begin to make this vision a reality.

> My viewpoint in the Daily: “A perfect storm brewing in city politics

Comments (0) • Posted to Ann ArborPolitics by Rob at 4:37 pm

Sunday, June 19th, 2005

A2 News on Student for Council

I found this photo of Eugene Kang, a 21-year old U-M senior running for City Council, on his facebook profile.

Kang was profiled in this week’s Michigan Daily. Readers of my blog will find some of these themes very familiar:

“The only people who can live Ann Arbor are the extremely wealthy. Those in the middle who don’t make $150,000 per year won’t be able to live here,” he said.

Kang said that current residential areas in Ann Arbor that people enjoy would not exist if introduced to the city today.“A lot of the cooler places built down Main Street could not be built now because of city zoning,” Kang said.

Kang said he is also concerned about student participation in city politics. Alex Donn, one of Kang’s campaign advisers and a third-year Law School student, said that the political limitations placed on students have been a concern of his for quite some time. “Local voting regulations impinge on the rights for students to vote in Ann Arbor,” Donn said. “The same people who say students should pay attention are putting voting regulations on them.”

“The primary takes place when all the students are away.”
“It’s not like they all decided to take a three-day vacation and missed the primary. Students are here 75 percent of the year,” Donn said. Kang said that the five wards prevent students from collectively raising their concerns to the city and that the wards that divide up Ann Arbor were created to better represent diversity.“Unfortunately, that hasn’t been achieved,” Kang said.

The Ann Arbor News also had a recent story on Kang, reproduced below. (Via ArborUpdate)

University student plans run for council
U-M’s Eugene Kang wants 2nd Ward seat
Friday, June 17, 2005
News Staff Reporter

Eugene Kang, 21, said Thursday he has collected well more than the 100 petition signatures required to run for council in the 2nd Ward and will file with the City Clerk’s Office by Monday’s 4 p.m. deadline. His entry into the race would guarantee a second Democratic primary for a council seat this August, a rarity in recent council elections. A contested primary is also expected in the city’s 4th Ward.

“I don’t see this as my future but as a community service,” said Kang, a life-long resident of the 2nd Ward majoring in both English and philosophy en route to a career in law. “The City Council, in general, has the best ability to give back to the community and do positive things for the city, which is what I want to do.”

Former Republican mayoral candidate Stephen Rapundalo announced earlier he is running as a Democrat for the 2nd Ward seat. He filed his nominating petitions Wednesday, city officials said.

Second Ward Council Member Mike Reid, the council’s lone Republican, in April announced he will not seek a third term this fall.

Ann Arbor attorney Thomas Bourque has indicated he is circulating petitions to run as a Republican, but had not filed by Thursday, city officials said.

Kang, whose parents immigrated to the United States from Korea in 1969 and settled in Ann Arbor in 1973, said he believes now is the right time to make his first attempt for public office.

“As a student, my time is my own and I can dedicate as much of it to the city and researching issues as I can,” said Kang, who is entering his senior year at U-M.

He sheepishly admits to spending hours watching City Council meetings on television and reviewing agenda packets at the library, which have helped him develop a platform to address ongoing budget problems, affordable housing and improving political participation from all segments of the community.

He said his age should be viewed as an asset rather than a detriment because he can offer fresh ideas. Also, growing up in the 2nd Ward and attending

U-M gives Kang a unique perspective into issues that intertwine both the city’s and university’s interests, he said.

Five of the council’s 10 ward seats are up for election this year.

Art Aisner can be reached at aaisner at or (734) 994-6823.

Comments (0) • Posted to Ann ArborPolitics by Rob at 1:55 am

Friday, June 17th, 2005

Work With Me at PFAW!

My work just circulated this job posting:

Online Campaign Organizer/Writer
Strategic Planning Department

People For the American Way is an organization with 750,000 members and activists devoted to promoting civil and equal rights, civil liberties, public education, an independent judiciary, and civic participation. The Strategic Planning Department houses all of the organization’s web-related work. The Online Campaign Organizer/Writer reports to the department’s Deputy Director.

- Work with Field and Public Policy Departments to develop and deploy Web-based campaigns.
- Draft web-specific content to portray PFAW activities and promote activism by PFAW’s online community.
- Generate publicity to drive up activism rates at, using knowledge of low cost and creative online marketing methods - message boards, newsgroups, and letters to online publications.
- Load Web content/make updates as needed to existing Web content within selected campaigns.
- Maintain reports on campaign progress, including traffic, participation and content.

- Experience developing online, activist campaigns strongly desired.
- Strong writing skills required; 2+ years experience writing copy for web and/or advocacy preferred.
- Excellent organizational skills and attention to detail.
- Ability to work well under pressure and meet extremely tight deadlines.
- Must be a self-starter, an innovator and a good team player.
- Familiarity with using html and content management systems preferred.
- Interest in progressive issues and public interest commitment.
- Willingness to work campaign-style hours when needed.

Compensation: Salary commensurate with experience; excellent benefits

To apply: Send resume, statement of interest and sample of written work to Dibby Johnson, Director of Human Resources, People For the American Way, 2000 M St. NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC, 20036, email to hr at

People For the American Way is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
June 2005

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 12:38 pm

On the Status of Student Power in Ann Arbor

‘Perfect Storm’ Brewing in A2

The other day I sat down with Dale Winling to talk about a couple organizations he recently launched. Dale is a first year PhD candidate in Architectural History at the University of Michigan. He has undergraduate and graduate degrees in history from Western Michigan University and is from a town outside of Kalamazoo. I met with Dale to talk about two organizations he has founded in Ann Arbor: the New West Side Association is a neighborhood association targeting students in Ann Arbor’s west side, and the Ann Arbor Alliance, a membership organization open for members from anyone in Ann Arbor. The NWSA has a website and blog, and was written up in the Daily and on Arborupdate.

We talked about the role of students in Ann Arbor politics, which has been in recent years very small. This is something I have long bemoaned: in a city where over 1/3 of the population consists of students and renters, that community plays a minimal role in city politics. Furthermore, instead of treating this massive affront to democracy as a problem to combat, city leaders have been all too content to build a status quo which excludes most of the city from meaningful political participation. Although virtually all freshman live in the dorms, by their senior year almost every undergraduate at the University of Michigan will live off campus in a house, apartment, or fraternity or sorority.

However, I believe have been a number of recent developments indicate a group of student and renter citizens has coalesced which will seriously contend for power in the city. A perfect storm is brewing which could revolutionize Ann Arbor politics. The key components have fallen into place: an alternative media structure open to new voices (blogs, Arborupdate, student media), progressive public policy (the engagement of planning students), and viable political candidates. (Yes, the triad is similar to Wellstone’s formula for a “winning politics")

First, through the activism of a small group of blogs, there has developed an online community interested in engaging in local issues. This website has played a role in that, as well as Arborupdate (which I founded last summer), and Ann Arbor is Overrated, among others. Arborblogs, an effort to create a directory of Ann Arbor blogs has flourished under the able control of George Hotelling, and plays a role in connecting the Ann Arbor blogging community. Arborupdate in particular has become a venue where voices who otherwise not have a platform, like graduate student June Gin, can pose the question: “Will [Ann Arbor] continue to be a diverse, multi-cultural community where arts and ideas flourish? Or will it be transformed into a commodified playground for wealthy bored people? … Is urban apartheid part of our “Cool Cities” vision for Ann Arbor?” Second, there has also been interest building in the larger political community in engaging students in city council politics - College Democrats has discussed it at meetings and at least one student has run recently for City Council (Rick Lax). The issue of the greenbelt engaged students in unprecedented levels in local politics. Furthermore, the increase in knowledge and interest in community planning and design by undergraduates has been fueled in no small part by popular history professor of Matt Lassiter and the general coming into vogue of New Urbanism. This heightened level of activity has been a long time coming: My junior year as an undergraduate a friend organized a Student Neighborhood Action Project through the student government and a class to pick up garbage in the Student Ghetto (and hold a barbeque).

Furthermore, the existing city politicians have done much to fan student organizing in the past few years. The eminently reasonable and limited proposal introduced for Accessory Dwelling Units in the city was smacked down by the City Council in 2002, which subsequently fueled much organizing by Students for PIRGIM. City government was restructured to eliminate the planner and move more power to the council members and neighborhood associations. A draconian towing ordinance hit many students unawares with large fines that were reduced after an uproar. Murmurs of a couch ban last summer sparking unprecedented vocal participation in local politics many who had not spoken up before. (See my post on the role of blogs in the controversy)

Most recently, I have heard of perhaps the most encouraging sign yet: a serious student contender for city council. Eugene Kang is a lifetime Ann Arbor resident who will be running in a primary against a moderate democrat. And that brings me back around to Dale’s groups. We spoke how the two could be resources for tenants, advocates for progressive city planning based on the principals of New Urbanism, and a badly needed voice for the downtown renter community in Ann Arbor politics. I believe the combination of a large number of engaged undergraduates and professional planning students provide both the political base and intellectual resources to advance an agenda dedicated to affordability, sustainability, and inclusively. Ann Arbor doesn’t have particularly bad policies, however an atmosphere of complacency and pessimism about what is possible for the city hangs around the Guy Larcom building on 5th Ave. If they set their minds to it, students, renters, and their allies could be a potent political force who could fundamentally re-shape the city’s politics and also urban form. Imagine a city where tenants’ rights are a top priority, the planning commission and council aggressively pursues an agenda of dense, sustainable development, and new and radical ideas to provide affordable housing are earnestly explored. If they set their minds to it, students like Dale Winling, Eugene Kang, and June Gin – and their supporters – could begin to make this vision a reality.

Comments (1) • Posted to Ann ArborPoliticsBlogosphere by Rob at 10:55 am

Antigay Boot Camp and Blog Storms

A 16-year-old Tennessee boy recently came out to his parents. They didn’t react well: they sent him to anti-gay boot camp. However, his moving blog has created what Terrance calls a “blog storm” on the web:

So, that’s where it stands for now. A lonely, scared, gay teenager in Tennessee dropped a post into the big blog pond, and cause ripples and then waves of support, awareness and action. How it will all end, no one can tell. Zach hasn’t blogged since he’s been at Refuge, and probably can’t. According to his blog, he’ll be there for at least one more day, and maybe a few more. When he gets out, returns home, and has had time to sort out his thoughts, He’ll probably blog about it. The difference is that there are a whole lot more of us listening now.

> Zach’s blog

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsBlogosphere by Rob at 9:24 am

Thursday, June 16th, 2005

Getting the Word Out on “30 Days”

I’ve been getting a lot of hits recently to my blog from people searching for information on Morgan Spurlock’s new series, which premiered tonight on FX. I blogged earlier today about my thoughts - it’s very eye opening yet entertaining. Someone left this comment recently on one of my posts about a screening of his first episode:

How do we get the Morgan Spurlock “30 days” regarding minimum wage, seen by a much larger, more wealthy audience? Not to mention that all state and federal employees should see it so that they can figure out how the people they deal with daily, have to live. Poor people in this country are stereotyped as lazy and ignorant. We deserve respect. We work as hard or harder than our wealthy counterparts. This program has just validated things I have been trying to tell agencies for years. Yeah for Morgan Spurlock.

After I saw the minimum wage episode, I immediately thought the film would be excellent to use in a classroom to spark discussion, in combination with work in a local community with low income working people there. When I can purchase it on DVD I plan on doing that to add to my copy of Wellstone! in my small but growing library to show to students in the future. How else can we get the word out? Perhaps a D.C. nonprofit or union could organize house parties around another airing of the program. The other episodes planned tackle alcoholism, American consumerism, what it’s like to be a Muslim in America, and one where Morgan says a “24-year old god fearing homophobe” goes to live in San Francisco’s Castro District. All and all, sounds like some good TV to me.

Comments (1) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 12:46 am

Wednesday, June 15th, 2005

Morgan Spurlock’s ‘30 Days’ Premieres Tonight on FX

Yesterday I attended the premiere of a new series by Morgan Spurlock called “30 Days.” Created in the wake of Morgan’s success with “Super Size Me", each episode is about when someone walks in someone else’s shoes for 30 days. In the first episode, Morgan and his fiance try to live in Columbus, Ohio on minimum wage jobs. Despite their advantages - they are educated, healthy, and motivated - they struggle to make ends meet and end the month in debt due in part to medical bills. The episode should look familiar to anyone who has read “Nickeled and Dimed,” or actually struggled to work a low paying job. Although I wouldn’t call it “fun” television, Morgan does a good job of keeping the episode moving along with humor and the cartoon interludes you may remember from his earlier films. The screening featured a brief visit by Sen. Ted Kennedy who gave a short angry speech about how the low level of the federal minimum wage is a national disgrace. Although I’m pessimistic about how the series will fare against the existing “reality” TV, like Super Size the series’ first episode is daring television that is entertaining but also makes you squirm in your seat.

> 30 Days premieres on FX tonight at 10 p.m.
> See Morgan’s blog

Comments (2) • Posted to PoliticsWashington D.C. by Rob at 10:38 am

Monday, June 13th, 2005

‘We Are Marie’

An immigration reform organization is highlighting the plight of a young activist who faces deportation due to bad legal advice to lobby for badly needed immigration reform. Go sign the petition or read about the DREAM act. Marie has a blog.

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 5:02 pm

Friday, June 10th, 2005

Restoring Jesus in Ohio

A letter in the Plains Dealer:

“To the Editor:

A member of my church gave to me a copy of the Ohio Restoration Project. This project is led by so-called Christians who have a plan for Ohio. The project will target 2,000 pastors throughout the state to become “patriot pastors.” These patriot pastors will be briefed on a specific political agenda and asked to submit names of their parishioners in order to increase a database to 300,000 names. These pastors will be asked to place voter guides in their church pews.

Ken Blackwell, Ohio’s secretary of state and a governor hopeful, is named throughout the document. Blackwell will be featured on 30-second radio ads promoting this group’s agenda and supporting the “Ohio for Jesus” rally set for the spring of 2006. At the end of the document are the words, “America has a mission to share a living savior with a dying world.”

This is not America’s mission. This is frightening, diabolical stuff for non-Christians and Christians alike. It is blasphemous to claim that any earthly kingdom is God’s kingdom. The theological foundations of this movement are vacuous. They are set on the sands of opportunism, self-righteousness and greed.

It is time for the citizens of Ohio to wake up. This group and those like it will stop at nothing in making America a theocracy shaped by one very limited interpretation of scripture.

The media must investigate and show this movement for what it is. Courageous preachers must help their congregations understand what is at stake. Silence is not an option.

The Rev. Dr. John Lentz, Cleveland Heights. Lentz is pastor of Forest Hill Presbyterian Church.


Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 5:10 pm

A Cry in the Blogosphere

I am looking for any information about a now defunct organization called the Center for Campus Organizing. I would also like to get in touch with either of the staffers listed on this website: Bill Capowski or Nikki Morse. If you can help please email (address to the left) or leave a comment. Thanks!

They had some email lists and published this organizing guide, and were active as recently as 2000. An archive of their old website is here, before the domain name was taken by a Kansas church.

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsHistory by Rob at 12:34 pm

Academic Freedom Under Fire in New York

A man selected to be chair of the Sociology Department of Brooklyn College has withdrawn his name from consideration after there was a conservative media firestorm in New York over an online essay he authored. What were the controversial views he aired: was he anti-Semitic? Communist? Worse: he’s an athiest.

… Besides, so what if Shortell’s essay is offensive? Brooklyn College is a public, secular institution, not a Bible college. The Sun claimed Shortell’s disdain for religion would cloud his judgment of job candidates, but there was never any evidence that this would be the case. No student ever complained about his teaching; his colleagues trusted him enough to elect him to the post; the student work posted on his website is apolitical and bland. Predictions of bias, absent any evidence, are just a backhanded way of attacking his beliefs. You might as well say no Southern Baptist should be chair, since someone who believes that women should be subject to their husbands, homosexuality is evil and Jews are doomed to hell won’t be fair to female, gay or Jewish job candidates. Or no Orthodox Jew or Muslim should be chair because religious restrictions on contact with the opposite sex would privilege some job candidates over others.

But nobody ever does say that.

… People who believe in academic freedom have got to take these incidents seriously and get active before it’s too late.

Lest you get too desperate, the author of the article points out the same thing happened to renowned writer and thinker Bertrand Russell. In 1940.

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsNew York City by Rob at 9:47 am

Wednesday, June 8th, 2005

See the Premiere of Morgan Spurlock’s ‘30 Days’

Click here to RSVP for the free premiere of FX’s “30 Days” to be followed by a panel by Sen. Edward Kennedy, and Executive Producer Morgan Spurlock. The event is next Tuesday, June 14 at 6:30 p.m. in the Regal Gallery Place Cinema in D.C.

If you can’t make the screening, the show premieres on FX at 10 pm on June 15th. Yes, Morgan has a blog.

Comments (1) • Posted to PoliticsWashington D.C. by Rob at 10:31 am

Tuesday, June 7th, 2005

A Dollar a Day for the G.O.P?

The Michigan Republican Party has launched a “Dollar-a-Day” giving program. The membership page is great - it’s slightly more harsh than the party’s main website. It’s also educational - I never knew Katie Couric and Michael Jackson were part of the “Liberal Media.” I guess I’m not getting all the memos …

In all seriousness, their idea is a good one, because of the importance of a steady income stream. However, I don’t think they’re implimenting it quite as efficiently as they could - they should also allow people to subscribe with Paypal.

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsMichigan by Rob at 3:36 pm

Monday, June 6th, 2005

Forty Years of Legal Contraceptives in the U.S.

Tomorrow - June 7 - is the 40th anniversary of Griswold v. Connecticut, the landmark Supreme Court case which legalized the use of contraceptives by married couples. Planned Parenthood has issued this statement commemorating the anniversary, noting that “… 40 years later, women still face unnecessary and often politically-motivated barriers to contraception …”

The Supreme Court’s landmark decision was announced June 7, 1965 — five years after FDA approval of the birth control pill and 49 years after Margaret Sanger opened the first birth control clinic in the United States. Griswold paved the way for the 1972 Supreme Court ruling in Eisenstadt v. Baird, which expanded the protection of birth control to unmarried women — and for the widespread use of contraception that exists today.

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 10:48 pm

Live 8 Links

Live 8 Concert - July 2

The Commission for Africa

African Union

The One Campaign

Make Poverty History

UN Walk the World - June 12

Comments (3) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 2:13 pm

Activists Resist New Highway in Indiana

For 15 years, farmer-led resistance has delayed the construction of Interstate 69, the NAFTA superhighway. Now, with the looming passage of the Free Trade Area of the Americas, the politicians and bureaucrats in Washington D.C. and the Indiana Department of Transportation are preparing to finally restart construction.

We are calling for a summer of community organizing, civil disobedience, and direct action to finally stop this bid to pave over tens of thousands of acres of forests and farms, displace hundreds of families, and destroy communities throughout the Midwest, all to serve the interests of multinational corporations.

> Roadless Summer website
> Wikipedia on the Trans-Texas Corridor

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsUrban Development by Rob at 10:27 am

Active in Politics?

Sign up to be a Young People For mentor.

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 9:47 am

Saturday, June 4th, 2005

Granholm Poll

The Detroit News has a poll on their website about who Michiganders will be supporting for governor in 2006 - Democratic incumbent Jennifer Granholm or Republican Dick DeVos. They also run comments from readers after the poll.

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsMichigan by Rob at 11:49 am

Friday, June 3rd, 2005

Bernie Sanders Drops by Take Back America

U.S. Rep Bernie Sanders (campaign website, house website) stopped by the Take Back America Conference today during the send-off lunch to talk up his bid for U.S. Senate. Some googling found me this story which reports he was endorsed by Howard Dean in May.

This from an AP story:

Sanders remains a socialist, although not a member of the Socialist Party.

“What does it mean to me? I want government to stand up for working people, for the middle class, rather than representing, as is currently the case in the United States, multinational corporations and wealthy people.

“I also believe that as citizens in a democratic society people are entitled to certain inherent rights and those rights include the right to health care, the right to form a union, the right to breathe good air, the right to send your child to college.

“There is something fundamentally wrong and very dangerous about a society in which so few have so much and so many have so little,” he said.

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsWashington D.C. by Rob at 4:56 pm

Political Tech Firm in Hot Water

Via E, this from AmericaBlog:

Convio, a big Internet consulting firm in DC, worked on Howard Dean’s campaign among other big lefty clients. Well, now they’re working for the Alliance for Marriage, the lead group of anti-gay religious right bigots trying to write us out of the US Constitution.

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsTechnology by Rob at 4:45 pm

Thursday, June 2nd, 2005

AAPD Chief Criticized

Some Ann Arbor activists have set their sights on AAPD Chief Oates:

… Before coming to Ann Arbor in August 2001, Daniel Oates, an attorney, was the commander of the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) Intelligence Division. In that position, Deputy Chief Oates, while not a named defendant, was an important figure in three First Amendment lawsuits litigated by the New York Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Housing Works–an HIV-AIDS service provider and advocacy group that was critical of New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s AIDS policies. Three separate opinions of federal District Judge Harold Baer, Jr. reveal that Oates and other officials repeatedly violated the First Amendment rights of Housing Works and its supporters under the rubric of security concerns. […]

Less than a month before 9/11, Oates took over as Chief of the Ann Arbor Police Department. In October 2001, Ann Arbor News interview, Oates mentioned an FBI “watch list which has hundreds of Arabic names."[8] The watch list was part of a federal dragnet that swept up more than 1,200 US citizens and non-citizens–mostly south Asians and Arabs. The only person caught in the sweep who was ever charged with involvement in the 9/11 attacks—Zacarias Moussaoui—was known to the FBI before the attacks. Thus, while the FBI’s broad-brush approach had questionable anti-terrorist value, it spread fear and distrust in immigrant communities and, arguably, gave tacit encouragement for scores of post-9/11 hate crimes. Yet, the Oates interview reveals no concern about ethnic profiling or lack of probable cause. Instead, Oates complained, “We need descriptions, ages, dates of birth, drivers’ license numbers, pictures . . . to capture these people."[9]

Repeatedly, and often in cooperation with local police, the FBI has egregiously and systematically violated the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans. According to former Deputy Chief Harold E. Olson, in the 1960s and 1970s, the AAPD, in cooperation with the FBI, “checked on possible subversives as a regular duty.” The AAPD also shared “political spying intelligence” with the infamous Chicago Police “Red Squad."[10]

The AAPD is a participant in the Detroit Joint Terrorism Task Force, one of 66 of such groups around the country convened by the FBI to coordinate intelligence for anti-terror efforts. The Colorado ACLU discovered the Denver Task Force had been “gathering information and building files on the activities of peaceful protesters who have no connection to terrorism or any other criminal activity. I have not seen much information about the Detroit group, but in December 2004 the ACLU of Michigan filed a FOIA request for information on the FBI’s activities in the state:

There is reason to believe that surveillance of law-abiding groups is occurring in Michigan. First, Attorney General John Ashcroft announced in 2002 that law enforcement would be permitted to spy on political and religious groups even though there was no suspicion that they were violating the law. Second, there are documented examples of JTTFs in other parts of the country investigating environmental activists, anti-war protesters, and others who are clearly not terrorists nor involved in terrorist activities …

The Michigan FOIA was part of an ongoing national effort to see how much domestic surveillance the FBI has engaged in since 9/11.

>> See my post 2003 from the same group on the JTTF and AAPD’s role in the arrest of Rabih Haddad

Comments (0) • Posted to Ann ArborPolitics by Rob at 9:09 pm

‘Take Back America’ Day 2 Down

The folks at TBA have posted transcripts and videos of some of the speeches. Antonio Villaraigosa’s is good, and probably worth checking out as he seems like the flavor of the month. He also had the harshest things to say about the conference, interestingly.

John Edwards’ address (not up yet) was good, he abandoned his prepared remarks and gave a very good impromptu speech combining his stump speech and some recent stuff on his anti-poverty work. If it weren’t for a nasty cold I’d be there blogging their tacky evening event.

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsWashington D.C. by Rob at 8:03 pm

Social Security March Tomorrow

As President Bush continues to push his scheme to privatize Social Security and slash benefits for middle-class families, hundreds of concerned citizens from across the country and the region will take to the streets of Washington D.C. tomorrow, Friday, June 3, 2005, at 2:30 pm and march to the White House to tell President Bush “Hands Off My Social Security.”

Citizens will gather at the Washington Hilton’s main entrance (1919 Connecticut Avenue, NW) at 2:30 pm tomorrow and will proceed down Connecticut Avenue towards the White House, rallying in Lafayette Park.

Join hundreds of Take Back America conference participants from across the country, and hundreds of concerned citizens from the region, are expected to participate in the march.

RSVP today:

WHAT: “Hands off my Social Security” March to White House

WHEN: Friday, June 3, 2:30 pm

WHERE: Washington Hilton’s main entrance (1919 Connecticut Avenue, NW. March to Lafayette Park in from of the White House, 16th Street & Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC.

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsWashington D.C. by Rob at 7:18 pm

Wednesday, June 1st, 2005

Grace Lee Boggs to Speak in Ann Arbor Fri.

In Ann Arbor? Check out this fundraiser Friday:

you are invited:
come on out to a benefit dinner supporting

~ Friday, June 3, 7:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
at 205 Division, Apt. 2 (Corner of Ann and Division), Ann Arbor

featured guest speaker:

old timey music performers:

fine organic foods courtesy of:

all are welcome.
suggested donation: $6 - $60
all proceeds support the summer programming of Back Alley Bikes & Detroit

PLEASE RSVP IF YOU ARE ABLE TO ATTEND: email mmedow at or call

Want more info on the beneficiaries? check out this article.

Comments (0) • Posted to Ann ArborPolitics by Rob at 4:10 pm

Live Blogging Take Back America - Day 1

2:00 p.m. …

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) just told us to “stand up straight” and “just do it.”

Antonio Villaraigosa, Mayor-elect, City of Los Angeles, is talking now. Below is paraphrased remarks:

“You look in this room today and you don’t see the strong diversity we need.”
“Neither party is talking about an urban agenda. Neither party is talking about how to improve our cities.”
“When we come to a conference like this and rejoice in the harmony of our message, and look around and we don’t see the faces of a changing America, we must ask ourselves, ‘are we reaching everyone we should?’ “
“America is a great place.”

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 2:54 pm

Tuesday Links

> Kicking off today: Take Back America 2005

> Launched: Group political blog, and the “Historic Washington” Listserv

> Deep throat revealed: W. Mark Felt. As a reminder, Woodward and Bernstein’s papers are in Austin.

Comments (1) • Posted to PoliticsWashington D.C.Blogosphere by Rob at 10:01 am

Friday, May 27th, 2005

Bush at Calvin

Media Mouse has photos

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 4:44 pm

Cities for Progress?

I just RSVP’d for a press conference announcing a new initiative called Cities for Progress. I like progress and I like cities so I am excited, but I don’t know much about what they’ll do. They claim to be born out of the cities for peace initiative which was a national effort of cities to pass resolutions opposing the Iraq war. From the press release:

The cost of the Iraq war at $207.5 billion threatens to cripple the American homeland. The war’s price tag means cities such as Washington, D.C will spend $1.4 billion defending Baghdad while education standards decline in their schools. Cities for Progress is the voice of Americans speaking out against the government’s skewed spending priorities that are weakening our cities.

The initiative brings to mind a post I wrote about an angry post-election article that was much-forwarded last fall titled “The Urban Archipelago,” that argued Democrats should realize they overwhelmingly live in cities, and focus on improving their cities to the exclusion of rural areas. While I don’t agree with their theory, its understandable and perhaps a good idea for some progressives to realize how much their urbanity defines their politics. I look forward to hearing what they have to say, and checking out their promised “virtual map,” next week.

Comments (1) • Posted to PoliticsUrban Development by Rob at 3:58 pm

Afternoon Links

> Google SMS can answer your questions (George had it earlier: “If I can find out something as arbitrary as Ron Howard’s birth date from somewhere as disconnected as a movie theater seat, our entire relationship to information is changing")

> I’m on Blogebrity’s C-list (along with all the Gothamist LLC site editors) except the whole thing was created for a link competition.

> Delay angry about ‘Law and Order’ jab

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 1:38 pm

America’s Army: The Video Game

The Post had an article today about a video game developed by the Army to help find recruits called America’s Army. The images to the right are from their gallery of screenshots. Created to target 14-year-olds, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Robin Williams’ 1992 film Toys, about a toy company bequeathed to a general who uses it to make toy weapons.

The Army’s flagging recruitment numbers are serious business. So Army officials increasingly are turning to a game for help.

It is an online, multiplayer video game that they believe will lure teenagers into Army culture, hoping both to educate them about the military and to spark interest in volunteering to serve … The game, he decided, would provide a gateway to information and entertainment, targeting boys 14 and older. …

Since the game’s launch in 2002, nearly 5.4 million users have registered on the game’s Web site, and more than 2 million users have passed through basic training in the latest version of the game, which focuses on the Special Forces. Wardynski said the game and its nearly 20 updates have been downloaded 20 million times, and recruiters have issued almost 2 million copies of the game on CD-ROM. The Army also has licensed the game for release on Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation platforms later this year.

In related news, my friend Dave who was in Iraq in 2003 after the invasion has posted some of his photos to Flickr.

Comments (1) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 10:07 am

Thursday, May 26th, 2005

‘In all imaginable scenarios, this will be a battle royale.’

Although this article doesn’t contain any new revelations it does a good job underscoring the long-simmering preparations for a Supreme Court vacancy, thought increasingly likely as Bush’s second term wears on. The article reports that “Bush is prepared to name a committed conservative regardless of Democratic opposition” and quotes an ‘anonymous official’ from the administration saying the Court is “going to be one of the key legacies of this administration.” The Post says,

… interest-group machinery on both sides has been mobilizing for war. By any measure, both sides forecast a titanic struggle akin to a national election campaign, a battle waged with the weapons of 21st-century politics against the backdrop of red-state-blue-state ideological division.
The full text is after the jump.

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 10:58 am

First Online Hearing Held On the Hill

A group of House democrats led by Congressman George Miller are holding an unofficial online hearing on the United Airlines Pension Crisis.

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsTechnology by Rob at 7:44 am

Wednesday, May 25th, 2005

Iowa State University Filibuster

Earlier this week students at Iowa State University ended a 100-hour filibuster when the deal brokered by the group of 14 senators were announced. The filibuster was documented on their blog, where they posted this message on Monday:

While we aren’t terribly enthusiastic about some of the terms of the deal that was made, our campaign has been a successful one. The filibuster has been saved for now. Rest assured that, if this becomes an issue in the future, we will be back out here in no time.

Now we have to take the credibility and fame we have built through this event, and use it to shed light on the terrible records and beliefs of these nominees. With luck we can make them a national issue, and force the Republicans to defend the views of these judges as well as their own.

Our filibuster is done, at 8:42. Total time - 104 hours, 8 minutes.

More photos of the Iowa filibuster are on Flickr here.

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 11:29 pm

UCC Welcomes SpongeBob

Wow, I can’t believe I missed this the first time around. Old, but deserves re-play, in my opinion. (Background)

SpongeBob receives ‘unequivocal welcome’ from United Church of Christ

By J. Bennett Guess
United Church News, Jan.24, 2005

CLEVELAND – Joining the animated fray, the United Church of Christ today (Jan. 24) said that Jesus’ message of extravagant welcome extends to all, including SpongeBob Squarepants - the cartoon character that has come under fire for allegedly holding hands with a starfish.

“Absolutely, the UCC extends an unequivocal welcome to SpongeBob,” the Rev. John H. Thomas, the UCC’s general minister and president, said, only partly in jest. “Jesus didn’t turn people away. Neither do we.” … (read the rest from the UCC)

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 5:40 pm

Chilly Welcome For Bush in Michigan

But events at Calvin did not happen as smoothly as Mr. Rove might have liked. A number of students, faculty members and alumni objected so strongly to the president’s visit that by last Friday nearly 800 of them had signed a letter of protest that appeared as a full-page advertisement in The Grand Rapids Press. The letter said, in part, “Your deeds, Mr. President - neglecting the needy to coddle the rich, desecrating the environment and misleading the country into war - do not exemplify the faith we live by.”

The next day, Mr. Bush was greeted by another letter in The Press signed by some 100 of 300 faculty members that objected to “an unjust and unjustified war in Iraq” and policies “that favor the wealthy of our society and burden the poor.”

The article then cites a wonk who thinks the decision to go to Calvin was “strategic positioning” for 2006, when “Dick DeVos, an heir to the Amway fortune and a member of a Michigan family that has been a major contributor to the Republican Party and Calvin College, may challenge Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm, a Democrat. Republicans will also try next year to unseat another Democrat, Senator Debbie Stabenow.”

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsMichigan by Rob at 3:59 pm

‘Take Back America’ Next Week

I’m attending the Take Back America Conference next week, the major annual progressive political conference. You can check out the draft agenda here. I’m excited about seeing LA Mayor-elect Antonio Villaraigosa, DC Activist and consultant Donna Brazile, and hearing John Edwards and Howard Dean speak. Also participating is a litany of the usual suspects: John Podesta, Thomas Frank, George Lakoff, Robert Greenwald, and Jesse Jackson, to name a few. Speakers from PFAW include Ralph Neas, YP4 Director Iara Peng, and the head of our Texas office Deece Eckstein.

They also have invited the “bloggers” for this Thursday night session:


Ready for some sparks? Top progressive bloggers, comedians and radio commentators will take the stage for an animated discussion about the new media and politics. Think Crossfire meets Politically Incorrect. Bring your laptop and tell them what you really think live on stage.

Joshua Micah Marshall*, Talking Points Memo
Duncan Black, Atrios Eschaton
David Corn
Stephanie Miller*, Democracy Radio and the Oxygen Network
Emily Levine

Sounds “edgy,” doesn’t it? I’ll be live blogging it …

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsWashington D.C. by Rob at 3:48 pm

Give to the MLK Memorial

After selecting a site, a design, and getting approval from the required authorities, only one thing remains before the proposed Washington D.C. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial becomes a reality: money.

According to their website they’ve raised an impressive $36 million from private donors and a number of foundations and corporations, however that’s nowhere near the $100 million they’ll need. According to the current schedule the groundbreaking will be held in 2006 and the memorial will be dedicated in 2008. Make an online donation here.

Located adjasent the FDR memorial along the Tidal Basin, the memorial’s design is similar to other newer memorials and seeks to be an “engaging landscape experience” honoring the themes of justice, democracy, and hope. The design will include “martyrs’ wellsprings” (seen to the left) which will document the contribution of individual martyr to the movement, inscriptions of Dr. King’s speeches, and a large bust. Last year, I saw a presentation on the design by one of the jurors in the design competition and have no doubt it will be an impressive and fitting monument.

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsWashington D.C. by Rob at 1:10 pm

Tuesday, May 24th, 2005

Fight Hunger

Click on to donate $.17 to feed a hungry child and find a local event to participate in their Sunday, June 12 Walk the World event. Yes, there are walks in DC scheduled and some other unlikely places, but none in Maine OR Ann Arbor. You know what to do.

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsBlogosphere by Rob at 12:22 pm

Glover Park NIMBY’s Block Reasonable Restaurant Hours

A small group of vocal residents of the D.C. neighborhood of Glover Park are agitating to force a new restaurant – called “Town Hall” and to be located at the former location of Saveur at 2218 Wisconsin Ave. seen to the right – to close at 11:30 p.m. instead of 2 a.m. on weekdays and 3 a.m. on weekends. The restaurant is just down the street from a busy stretch of Wisconsin that contains several restaurants that are open late (Including Austin Grill), one bar (Bourbon), and two strip clubs. Glover Park is a mixed-age community containing young professionals, families with young children, and older people. The owners of the new restaurant argue they need the added revenue of later hours to help pay the high rent for the space.

As a young Glover Park resident and advocate for independent and local businesses, I think Town Hall should be granted a license to serve alcohol until 2 a.m. The local Advisory Neighborhood Commission has already voted to recommend the 11:30 a.m. closing time to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, however it’s unclear whether their hearing before the ABC Board, who has final say, has taken place. I plan on attending next month’s ANC meeting on June 9 to voice my opinion on the topic and I will update this post when I hear from DC government regarding the status of the liquor license.

The full article from last week’s Georgetown Current is after the jump. If you would like to see a local restaurant in Glover Park open late, sign your name below to indicate you support Town Hall and their desire to have reasonable hours.


Comments (6) • Posted to PoliticsWashington D.C.Glover Park by Rob at 11:23 am

Students Protest Military Recruiters in Seattle

Angry that military recruiters come to their schools, more than 100 college and high school students marched on recruiting offices in Seattle yesterday.

Chanting “Education not war, kick recruiters out the door” and other slogans, the students blocked the entrances to military offices and pounded on windows in Northgate, the University District and the Central Area. The three neighborhood rallies began simultaneously at noon.

The young demonstrators said they oppose the war in Iraq and don’t want recruiters trying to sign up students at their schools. They also were protesting the fact that military spending continues to rise while the nation’s public education system struggles financially.

“I don’t want to go to war,” said Ob Flores, 17, from Mount Rainier High School in Des Moines. “I want to learn; I don’t want to die.”

> Seattle PI: “Students picket military recruiters”

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 11:13 am

Monday, May 23rd, 2005

Senators Announce Deal

No Nuclear Option, but seven Ds have agreed to vote on Priscilla R. Owen, Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor.

> W. Post: “Senators Reach Deal on Filibuster”
> Think Progress has a PDF

Here is the text of the agreement, from the Times:

We respect the diligent, conscientious efforts, to date, rendered to the Senate by majority leader Frist and Democratic leader Reid. This memorandum confirms an understanding among the signatories, based upon mutual trust and confidence, related to pending and future judicial nominations in the 109th Congress.

This memorandum is in two parts. Part I relates to the currently pending judicial nominees; Part II relates to the subsequent individual nominations to be made by the president and to be acted upon by the Senate’s Judiciary Committee.

We have agreed to the following:

Part I: Commitments on Pending Judicial Nominations

A. Votes for Certain Nominees. We will vote to invoke cloture on the following judicial nominees: Janice Rogers Brown (District of Columbia Circuit), William Pryor (11th Circuit) and Priscilla Owen (Fifth Circuit).

B. Status of Other Nominees. Signatories make no commitment to vote for or against cloture on the following judicial nominees: William Myers (Ninth Circuit) and Henry Saad (Sixth Circuit).

Part II: Commitments for Future Nominations:

A. Future Nominations. Signatories will exercise their responsibilities under the advice and consent clause of the United States Constitution in good faith. Nominees should only be filibustered under extraordinary circumstances, and each signatory must use his or her own discretion and judgment in determining whether such circumstances exist.

B. Rules Changes. In light of the spirit and continuing commitments made in this agreement, we commit to oppose the rules changes in the 109th Congress, which we understand to be any amendment to or interpretation of the rules of the Senate that would force a vote on judicial nomination by means other than unanimous consent or Rule XXII.

We believe that, under Article II, Section 2, of the United States Constitution, the word “advice” speaks to consultation between the Senate and the president with regard to the use of the president’s power to make nominations. We encourage the executive branch of government to consult with members of the Senate, both Democratic and Republican, prior to submitting a judicial nomination to the Senate for consideration.

Such a return to the early practices of our government may well serve to reduce the rancor that unfortunately accompanies the advice and consent process in the Senate.

We firmly believe this agreement is consistent with the traditions of the United States Senate that we as senators seek to uphold.

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 8:42 pm

Progressive Academy

This past spring I taught a course for the Young People For Progressive Academy on the history of student activism. As the Progressive Academy Coordinator, I am now working to plan the future of the project. The Academy is one part of Young People For, a leadership development program seeking to “identify, engage and equip the next generation of leaders committed to protecting our nation’s core progressive values and our fundamental rights and freedoms.” What courses should we offer to college students in the future?

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 3:15 pm

Sunday, May 22nd, 2005

Rally on Capitol Hill Tomorrow

America Speaks: Stop the Abuse of Power
The U.S. Senate is on the brink of “going nuclear.” At 4:15 p.m. this Monday, May 23 – the eve of the nuclear showdown – we will rally to stop the nuclear option and save our courts!

WHO: Senators, National Leaders, & Concerned Citizens

WHEN: 4:15 p.m. MONDAY, May 23, 2005

: “Senate Swamp,” Washington, DC
(at the corner of Constitution & Delaware Avenues, near the Russell Senate Bldg.)

WHY: Majority Leader Bill Frist plans to break Senate rules to eliminate the ability of those in the minority party to filibuster out-of-the-mainstream judicial nominees. By a 2-to-1 margin, Americans oppose this power grab. On the eve of the showdown, we will tell Sen. Frist and his allies: Stop the Abuse of Power!

Please help spread the word about this final push to stop the nuclear option – forward this invitation to your colleagues, friends, and friendly listservs.

Visit to learn more about the nuclear option and the importance of a fair and independent judiciary.

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsWashington D.C. by Rob at 10:18 pm

Thursday, May 19th, 2005

Students Filibuster Frist in Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor Filibuster The Fristabuster has come to Ann Arbor. Click on the image to see more photos, sent to me by participat Kristin Purdy, or see my story on Arbor Update.

Event organizer Kristin Purdy and myself will be on WCBN tonight at 6 p.m. - listen in online here!

Comments (3) • Posted to Ann ArborPolitics by Rob at 4:07 pm

Wednesday, May 18th, 2005

‘The Argentina Model’?

This article is one of the most striking I’ve seen in the Post recently:

There were no cameras, not a single microphone, and no evidence of a lawmaker or Bush administration official in the room – just some hungry congressional staffers and boxes of sandwiches from Corner Bakery. But what the three spoke about will have greater consequences than the current fuss over filibusters and Tom DeLay’s travel.

With startling unanimity, they agreed that without some combination of big tax increases and major cuts in Medicare, Social Security and most other spending, the country will fall victim to the huge debt and soaring interest rates that collapsed Argentina’s economy and caused riots in its streets a few years ago. …

Walker put U.S. debt and obligations at $45 trillion in current dollars – almost as much as the total net worth of all Americans, or $150,000 per person. Balancing the budget in 2040, he said, could require cutting total federal spending as much as 60 percent or raising taxes to 2 1/2 times today’s levels. …

But such haggling [over solutions] seems premature when both parties still deny the problem. “I don’t think we’re there yet,” Walker said. “The American people have to understand where we are and where we’re headed.”

And where is that? “No republic in the history of the world lasted more than 300 years,” Walker said. “Eventually, the crunch comes.”

He wasn’t talking about filibusters.

If the situation is so dire, why didn’t they print it on page 1? When the politicians get dumb, the eggheads need to get political - if we’re not yet in a position to discuss solutions, what are Brookings - or Heritage - doing about it other than holding poorly covered and ill-attended briefings on Capitol Hill?

Comments (1) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 9:50 am

Tuesday, May 17th, 2005

Filibuster Frist in Ann Arbor



*** JOIN US ***
+ Thursday, May 19
+ 9 AM to 9 PM
+ Steps of the Union

Save the Senate’s voice in judicial nominations
Bring signs, reading material, and your voice!

Please email Kristin at purdykri at for further questions. Also check out the Princeton Filibuster at:

Comments (0) • Posted to University of MichiganAnn ArborPolitics by Rob at 5:40 pm

Friday, May 13th, 2005

Project Democracy Training in Ann Arbor in August

$60 if you register before July 15 … apply online here.

Make Your Voice Heard
Learn how at
Project Democracy’s Summer Activist Training August 15- 19th, 2005

The Summer Activist training will provide a unique opportunity for students from around the country to come together and learn how to run on-campus grassroots campaigns and voter participation campaigns. Students will be taught by some of the foremost activists and trainers
in the country, and will learn everything from the basics of tabling to how to run a sophisticated media campaign through hands on sessions. Become a campus leader. Apply now!

EDUCATE- Our trainers will educate students on the best methods of campus engagement, including the most effective ways to teach your fellow students about important issues.

ADVOCATE- Learn how to make the student voice heard on campus and by elected officials from the local level to national.

MOBILIZE- Go back to campus with all the tools you need to run a successful campaign and get others involved.

LCVEF’s Project Democracy Summer Activist Training The University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI August 15-19, 2005 Apply online at or email Seth Fiur at seth_fiur at

Cost: $75 includes housing, training, and some meals. Apply by July 15th to
receive early discount rate of $60.

Travel scholarships are available. Apply online.

Application Deadline: August 1, 2005

Project Democracy is a program of the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, a non-partisan nationwide effort to train and mobilize young Americans to make their voices heard in elections and with elected officials.

Comments (0) • Posted to Ann ArborPolitics by Rob at 4:58 pm

“Stop Nuclear Strike with a Cellular Spike!”

The title aside, a great idea - sign up with and get a text message when Sen. Frist tries the Nuclear Option.

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsTechnology by Rob at 4:44 pm

Wednesday, May 11th, 2005

Filibuster Update

This AP story was picked up by a number of websites. The filibuster is
going strong - Asheesh Siddique’s parents are here, Congressman Inslee
from Washington state is here and Congressmen Rush Holt is sitting
next to me guest blogging for the Princeton students

> Protest website

Princeton’s mock filibuster visits D.C.


WASHINGTON – The wise words of the Constitution, the Declaration of
Independence and Dr. Seuss’s “Yertle the Turtle” were spoken Wednesday
near the Capitol by Princeton University students protesting a Senate
push to curtail the use of the filibuster.

Since April 26, Princeton students have spoken nonstop in a mock
filibuster targeting Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn.,
himself a Princeton graduate, who has threatened to change Senate
rules to keep Democrats from using the filibuster to block President
Bush’s judicial nominees. It started outside the Frist Campus Center,
named after the senator’s family.

“We decided to take this one step further and bring this to Frist’s
doorstep,” said Juan Melli-Huber, a graduate student who helped
organize the event. “We don’t believe a Democratic process like the
filibuster should be ceased.”

The practice of the filibuster, in which senators speak for long
periods of time to block legislation, is a tradition that goes back to
the early days of the legislative body.

About 50 students arrived by bus - speaking all the way - to bring the
faux filibuster to the Capitol’s reflecting pool, and they continued
speaking even as the area was evacuated when a small plane entered
restricted air space. The filibuster was scheduled to end at 11 a.m.
Thursday so students could take their spring exams.

The filibuster readings have included historical documents and
speeches. Students from Georgetown, George Washington and Howard
universities also participated, as did Rep. Rush Holt and Sen. Frank
Lautenberg, both Democrats from New Jersey.

Robert Kennelley, a Princeton junior, decided to stray from the
serious tomes and read “Yertle the Turtle” because he felt its theme
mirrored the students’ purpose.

“It’s about a king turtle in a pond of turtles who decides he wants a
bigger throne and makes the other turtles sit on each other to make
him sit higher,” Kennelley said.

The book ends with the stack of turtles collapsing, sending the king
tumbling back to earth.

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 9:57 pm

Filibuster at Dusk

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 8:31 pm

DC Filibuster Photos

About 7 pm:

Carl Levin Interns:

DC Shadow Senator Paul Strauss:


Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 8:13 pm

DC Protest Filibuster Today!

> View photos from the event
> - DC Students Website
> Princeton students’ website with live webcam

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsWashington D.C. by Rob at 11:31 am

Tuesday, May 10th, 2005

Filibuster Protest on the National Mall Tomorrow

May 10, 2005
For Immediate Release
CONTACT: Princeton Students: Juan Melli-Huber: 609-468-0715, jmelli at; Pete Hill: 614-397-3769, petehill at
Georgetown Law Student: Jenny Cieplak: 202-256-7082, jennicieplak at

Students Bring Two Week Long Frist Filibuster to Capitol to Protest Nuclear Option on Judges

Washington, DC – Scores of college students will converge on the Capitol Reflecting Pool on Wednesday to stage a 24 hour filibuster in protest of the “Nuclear Option” being considered by Senate Republicans to end filibusters on controversial judicial nominees.

The mock filibuster, initiated two weeks ago by a group of Princeton students outside the Frist Campus Center at Princeton University, a building financed by a $25 million gift from the Senate majority leader’s family, has been running round-the-clock for over 300 hours and has attracted wide spread media attention.

With action on the nuclear option expected within days, Princeton students will travel by bus to Washington, D.C. on Wednesday morning, joining area college students and congressional leaders to continue their filibuster at the Capitol Reflecting Pool within sight of Senator Frist’s Capitol office.

“This student-powered filibuster shows that political activism on college campuses is strong and building. It also demonstrates the overwhelming support for the 200 year-old institution of the Senate filibuster,” said Asheesh Siddique, editor of the Princeton Progressive Review, one of the filibuster’s sponsors. “Buoyed by the dedication of hundreds of Princeton University students and other students across the nation, we are now bringing the fight for a fair and independent judiciary directly to Senator Frist,” said Siddique. The Princeton Progressive Review is one of fourteen of progressive college papers across the country supported by Campus Progress, a new project of the Center for American Progress.

The Washington mock filibuster will be similar to the original Princeton protest, with students reading from texts that range from the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, to Shakespeare and physics texts. Students from Howard University, Georgetown University, Trinity University, George Washington University and American University will also take turns speaking over the 24 hour filibuster.

The protest and its organizers have received coverage from CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, ABC News, New York Times, Washington Post, UK Guardian, the popular blog Talking Points Memo, and Air America Radio. A live Webcam, daily blog, and schedule of special guests will be available at

The student filibuster will begin at 10 a.m. on Wednesday and will continue throughout the night, ending at 11 a.m. Thursday with press conference and rally with members of the House and Senate.

The event is being supported by Campus Progress and Young People For, a project of People for The American Way Foundation.

Event Highlights:

Wednesday, May 11
9:00 a.m. (approximately) – Princeton students arrive via bus at the Capitol Reflecting Pool (3rd St SW & Maryland Ave SW)

Thursday, May 12
11:00 a.m. – Rally and Press Conference with Members of Congress


Comments (1) • Posted to PoliticsWashington D.C. by Rob at 3:51 pm

Monday, May 9th, 2005

A Surprise

What do students from five campuses, the senate filibuster, and 24-hour protests have in common? Answer: they all have been working together to keep me quite busy lately. Stay tuned …

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsWashington D.C. by Rob at 10:34 pm

Wednesday, May 4th, 2005

Blog! Blog!

CampusProgress: Campus Filibuster 101

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 5:41 pm

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2005


Two PFAW positions after the jump: electronic communications writer and development database manager.


Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 3:19 pm

Wellstone Quotes

I did a Wellstone training last weekend. One of the presentations included this information, which I found reproduced on the Wellstone Action website:

“There are three critical ingredients to democratic renewal and progressive change in America: good public policy, grassroots organizing and electoral politics. … A politics that is not sensitive to the concerns and circumstances of people’s lives, a politics that does not speak to and include people, is an intellectually arrogant politics that deserves to fail. … Victories should be won by people where they live, but if the victories never affect national or international centers of decision-making power, then we are still not seriously contesting for power. This is the central challenge for progressive politics: how to build the local victories into a strong national and international presence that can crucially define the quality of life. Right now the whole does not equal the sum of the parts.”

— Paul Wellstone

Sen. Wellstone suggested a “winning politics” is one that integrates three critical ingredients: sound public policy, effective grassroots organizing and electoral politics. As he so often noted, “electoral politics without grassroots politics is a politics without a base, grassroots politics without electoral politics is a marginal politics, and electoral and grassroots politics without good, sound public policy is a politics without a head.” He felt that bringing these three elements together was the foundation for rebuilding progressive power in our nation and linking it to the proud tradition of social change that marks our democracy. …

He believed that a winning politics consisted of:

• Public policy — to provide direction and an agenda for action, in a way that affects the real circumstances and concerns of our everyday lives, by effectively communicating a set of values reflected in efforts for economic, social and racial justice.

• Grassroots organizing — to build a constituency to fight for change, by listening to, advocating for and taking action with ordinary people where they live, work and play.

• Electoral politics — as the central way in which we contest for power and hold decision makers accountable.

• Empowering leadership — to share power and build the capacity of others to actively participate, and to create new leaders with new ideas.

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 2:54 pm

Monday, May 2nd, 2005

Under 25? Register a Free Spot at the Take Back America Conference

The Take Back America Conference is the premiere national political conference for progressives. It will feature speeches and strategy sessions with representation from many political organizations, politicians, and leaders. They are offering a limited number of spots to people under 25 - just apply here.

Also, has posted a “Filibuster 101″ guide for instructions on how to organize your own campus protest.

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 5:11 pm

Princeton Filibuster Going Strong

This cartoon ran in today’s Daily Princetonian. They also had this story, and the Post covered the filibuster as well.

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 12:24 pm

Thursday, April 28th, 2005

Princeton Frist Filibuster Continues

> See the official filibuster webcam
> Live event coverage on the Princeton Progressive Review blog
> AP: “Senate leader’s stance on filibuster sparks protest at his alma mater”

Full press release after the jump.

Comments (1) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 9:53 pm

Filibuster History

According to this Congressional Research Service report, 35 presidential nominations have been subject to a cloture vote - meaning 35 were filibustered.

Cloture is the only means by which the Senate can vote to limit debate on a matter, and thereby overcome a possible filibuster. Until 1949, cloture could not be invoked on nominations, and before 1980 this action was attempted only twice. From 1949 through 2002, cloture was sought on 35 nominations, and invoked on 21. Only three of the 35 nominees were not confirmed; all three were among those on whom the Senate rejected cloture. Except in the 103rd Congress (1993-1994), most of the nominations involved have been judicial. The 103rd and 107th Congress are the only ones in which cloture was sought on more than three nominations.

PFAW has produced a flyer with the names and dates of the 13 judicial filibusters since 1968 …

Students get it. At Carleton College students held a 100-hour protest filibuster … and at Princeton they’re currently filibustering. This from the Daily Princetonian:

At about 2 a.m. Wednesday, it started to rain so hard that protesters had to put away their reading materials. Jeff Brown ‘06 spent his time at the microphone reciting memorized lines from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” and “A Winter’s Tale,” the latter of which he performed last weekend. Fellow cast members sat on the lawn to cheer him on.

During the night, the protesters spoke to an “interesting mix” of exhausted students leaving Frist Campus Center and “a bunch of giddy drunk people coming back from the street,” Solomon said.

Josh Marshall has been watching the situation

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 2:34 pm

Wednesday, April 27th, 2005

D.C. Poverty

See the source.

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsWashington D.C. by Rob at 11:47 pm

Students Hold Filibuster at Frist Center

Students at Princeton University are currently holding at 24-hour filibuster in protest of the “Nuclear Option” at the Frist Campus Center, a building named after Sen. Bill Frist’s family, who gave the university over $25 million for its construction. This photo is from the Mercer County New Jersey Democracy for America blog. Get updates at Campus Progress or the Princeton Progressive Review blogs, and Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo has also covered the protest. The Daily Princetonian covered the protest yesterday: “Students protest Frist at Frist” The filibuster continues until 11:00 p.m. tonight.

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 4:11 pm

Tuesday, April 26th, 2005

Rally to Protect Social Security

Rally to Protect Social Security

Rally today sponsored by Americans United to Protect Social Security. Click to see more photos.

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsWashington D.C.Photos by Rob at 9:57 pm

Find a Rally For a Fair Judiciary Tomorrow

MoveOn PAC and our partners in the Coalition for a Fair and Independent Judiciary are organizing a massive national wave of protest to stop them, culminating with emergency rallies across the country on Wednesday, April 27, at 5 PM (or earlier in a few cities).

This is an “all hands on deck” moment, and we need everyone to turn out and be counted.

> Find a rally on your area

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsTechnology by Rob at 5:11 pm

Cinco De Mayo Party at Chief Ike’s Mambo Room

DCist is sponsoring it’s first bar party next week to celebrate Cinco de Mayo at Chief Ike’s Mambo Room. With $3 Coronas all night, I am pretty excited. Here’s a short history, from the Wikipedia article:

The rise in Cinco de Mayo’s popularity in the United States can be attributed to the Chicano student movement of the late 1960s. Inspired by student-activists nationwide, members of the MEChA organization in California sought to find a day of celebration that highlighted their largely Mexican ancestry. “El Dieciséis de septiembre” (September 16) seemed like an obvious choice; however, this day proved too early in the school-year for college students to effectively organize rallies and celebrations. Thus Cinco de Mayo became the de facto alternative for these student assemblies. Over the years this holiday grew outside university circles and its activist roots, and was absorbed by mainstream culture in the Southwest United States. For many Mexican-American communities Cinco de Mayo is an important way to proudly honor Mexican heritage, overshadowing Mexico’s Independence Day in significance. Non-Mexican Americans also participate in the celebrations, much in the same manner that non-Irish Americans observe St. Patrick’s Day, with holiday-themed parties marked by the consumption of Mexican food, tequila and Mexican beer.

In addition to quaffing $5 rail margueritas and $3 domestic bottles, we’ll be discussing the future of the PRE, the impact of neoliberal economic policies on our southern neighbor, and evaluating the success of Mexico’s maquiladoras in producing sustainable economic development for the country.

> DCist Celebrates Cinco de Mayo on

Comments (1) • Posted to PoliticsWashington D.C. by Rob at 12:15 pm

Virginia Governor

The W. Times has an intereting story about the websites of two Virginians running for governor: “There is a certain demographic that increasingly is getting its news from what we call alternative sources,” said Mark J. Rozell, a professor of public policy at George Mason University.” And this gem: “Anyone with a computer can put up a site using inexpensive software. Purchasing a site can cost as little as $20 annually.” Shocking! The websites:
> Tim Kaine for Governor (D)
> Jerry Kilgore for Virginia Governor ®

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsBlogosphereTechnology by Rob at 9:54 am

Monday, April 25th, 2005

Coca-Cola and Nutrition

The Coke Coalition at the University of Michigan has been working to raise awareness about the pracices of the Coca-Cola corporation as part of the national Killer Coke campaign. Michigan Independent Columnist Ben Grimshaw wrote this about the coalition in a recent column, describing how it has helped various groups realize the interconnected nature of the issues they care about:

We need radical change and that is why I love the Coke coalition. The coalition has linked very different groups of student activists. The crimes of Coca-Cola have united groups who previously only dealt with an issue like the environment or labor rights or human rights or Israel-Palestine. As we work together we see more and more how each piece of any problem is interconnected. This understanding is essential if we are ever going to resolve these problems. I personally do not think working towards the goal of a post-war society is unreasonable or unworthy of my efforts.

The student-led coalition will be making a presentation today at 3:30 before the University’s Dispute Review Board, urging them to cut the University contract with the Coke Corporation. This message is from the coalition’s leadership:

“Tomorrow at the 3:30 hearing in Anderson of the Union, Coke is apparently sending ELEVEN reps–2 calling in from abroad to defend themselves against Amit Srivastava from India Resource and Dan Kovalik, lawyer from SINALTRAINAL (Colombian union that lost 9 workers murdered by paramilitary paid by Coke) and 2 student reps from the UM Coke Coalition (consists of 20 student groups, 5000 kids) in front of the Dispute Review Board.* The DRB will vote within 2 weeks of this trial whether Coke violates our ethical purchasing code b/c of its crimes in India and Colombia. YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS THIS!!! There will be press. There will be seas of students wearing black in solidarity with the Colombian unionists and people of India, in support of CUTTING THE CONTRACT. Be part of the action that will make ripple effects on the WORLD if we cut contracts!

Please show up at 3 on the steps of the Union for the rally wearing black.

While focusing on the company’s more blatant criminal acts (murdering unionists, sucking up so much groundwater wells go dry in India, etc), the coalition hasn’t discussed the nutritional impact of the consumption of soft drinks. Especially when consumed by small children, a segment of the market targeted by the major soft drink manufacturers, soft drinks can cause or contribute to obesity, malnutrition, and other health problems, as this report (see the press release) by Dr. Michael F. Jacobson of the nutrition advocacy organization the Center for Science in the Public interest concludes:

It is a fact, though, that soft drinks provide enormous amounts of sugar and calories to a nation that does not meet national dietary goals and that is experiencing an epidemic of obesity. The replacement of milk by soft drinks in teenage girls’ diets portends continuing high rates of osteoporosis. Soft drinks may also contribute to dental problems, kidney stones, and heart disease. Additives may cause insomnia, behavioral problems, and allergic reactions and may increase slightly the risk of cancer.

The report cites scientific evidence high consumption of soft drinks can cause osteoporosis (by replacing intake of milk), contribute tooth decay and kidney stones, and contribute to heart disease by encouraging the condition of “insulin resistance,” among others. In the third world, the pervasive availability of relatively inexpensive soft drinks can leave people with few options, particularly with the troubling trends of the privatization (or declining quality) of public water. Not only does the Coca-Cola Corporation have blood on its hands in Columbia and many other parts of the world, their existence as the only safe beverage choice in many places - and the lack of clean water and healthy alternatives in many countries - is itself a serious public health problem.

Comments (0) • Posted to University of MichiganPolitics by Rob at 1:11 pm

Friday, April 22nd, 2005

Politicians on Flickr

I just stumbled across the first politician account on I’ve seen - Evan Bayh. I expect by 2006 this type of thing will be de rigueur for candidates, the same that happened with Friendster/TheFaceBook profiles for presidential candidates in 2004. What other celebrity/politician profiles are there on Flickr? Leave a comment.

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsTechnology by Rob at 9:19 pm

Mr. Smith Screening Monday

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsWashington D.C. by Rob at 4:42 pm

Wednesday, April 20th, 2005

History of Judicial Filibusters

I heard this …


Prior to the start of the George W. Bush administration in 2001, the following 11 judicial nominations needed 60 (or more) votes – cloture – in order to end a filibuster:

• 1968: Abe Fortas to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (cloture required 2/3 of those voting)
• 1971: William Rehnquist to be a Supreme Court Justice (cloture required 2/3 of those voting)
• 1980: Stephen Breyer to be a Judge on the First Circuit Court of Appeals
• 1984: J. Harvie Wilkinson to be a Judge on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
• 1986: Sidney Fitzwater to be a Judge for the Northern District of Texas
• 1986: William Rehnquist to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
• 1992: Edward Earl Carnes, Jr. to be a Judge on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals
• 1994: H. Lee Sarokin to be a Judge on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals
• 1999: Brian Theadore Stewart to be a Judge for the District of Utah
• 2000: Richard Paez to be a Judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
• 2000: Marsha Berzon to be a Judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

Because of a filibuster, cloture was filed on the following two judicial nominations, but was later withdrawn:

• 1986: Daniel Manion to be a Judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals
Senator Biden told then Majority Leader Bob Dole that “he was ready to call off an expected filibuster and vote immediately on Manion’s nomination.”
–Congressional Quarterly Almanac, 1986.

• 1994: Rosemary Barkett to be a Judge on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals
“. . . lacking the votes to sustain a filibuster, Republicans agreed to proceed to a confirmation vote after Democrats agreed to a daylong debate on the nomination.”
–Congressional Quarterly Almanac, 1994.

Following are comments by Republicans during the filibuster on the Paez and Berzon nominations in 2000, confirming that there was, in fact, a filibuster:

• “. . . it is no secret that I have been the person who has filibustered these two nominations, Judge Berzon and Judge Paez.”
–Senator Bob Smith, March 9, 2000

• “So don’t tell me we haven’t filibustered judges and that we don’t have the right to filibuster judges on the floor of the Senate. Of course we do. That is our constitutional role.”
–Senator Bob Smith, March 7, 2000

• “Indeed, I must confess to being somewhat baffled that, after a filibuster is cut off by cloture, the Senate could still delay a final vote on the nomination.”
–Senator Orrin Hatch, March 9, 2000, when a Senator offered a motion to indefinitely postpone the Paez nomination after cloture had been invoked

In 2000, during consideration of the Paez nomination, the following Senator was among those who voted to continue the filibuster:

• Senator Bill Frist
–Vote #37, 106th Congress, Second Session, March 8, 2000

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 4:53 pm

Tuesday, April 19th, 2005

Rally to Protect Social Security in D.C.

Join Members of the House and Senate


Tuesday, April 26 at 1:00pm

Upper Senate Park
Delaware and Constitution Avenues, NE


Rain or Shine!

For more information visit:
Or call (202) 955-5705

“Rally to Protect Social Security and Stop Privatization”

The debate surrounding the future of Social Security is the most important policy debate facing our country. On Tuesday, April 26th, the Senate Finance Committee is holding hearings on Social Security. These hearings are taking place as President Bush winds down the Administration’s 60-day campaign to convince Americans to support his plan to privatize Social Security.

As reported in the Washington Post this weekend, President Bush and his allies in Congress are placing a tremendous amount of importance on these hearings as a sign of progress in its campaign to replace Social Security with private accounts. …

As such, Americans United to Protect Social Security has launched a Mobilization Against Privatization culminating in a National Day of Unity to Protect Social Security and Stop Privatization on April 26th to coincide with the first day of hearings. Americans United will be holding a large public rally on that day to voice our strong opposition to privatization.
Concerned citizens from all over the region and the nation will join members of Congress in expressing their desire to protect Social Security and to remove privatization from the legislative options for addressing Social Security’s long term funding needs. This rally is an opportunity for you to publicly remind the Administration that the American people oppose his plan, which would undermine Social Security and replace it with an expensive and risky privatization scheme that will end the guaranteed benefit which has been the foundation of financial security for seniors, survivors and the disabled for the better part of 70 years, and creative massive National debt.

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsWashington D.C. by Rob at 4:30 pm

Monday, April 18th, 2005

Op-Ed on A2 Drug Busts

I received this from an acquaintance, I’ve heard a bit about it but not much.

Many of you have probably already see the news clips about the marijuana bust at the University of Michigan. Some have read articles from the AAnews, Michigandaily you name it. For those of you who haven’t i have provided some links below.

But what many of you may not have read about the same day as reports surfaced about students arrested on drug charges stemming from over 6 months previous to April 15th, is the Department of Justice’s Operation Falcon (
also go to cnn, msnbc, abc, or fox news and search Operation Falcon to read articles from April 15th.

The Ann Arbor news was quick to publish the names, charges (accurate or not), potency level of the marijuana found ("highly toxic” according to police chief Oates) but failed to report on the AAPD’s involvement in Operation Falcon - why the arrests of these students all took place simultaneously and without incident.

In addition, little to no coverage has been given about the rights of tenants and innocent college students who may be living in the same house/apartment building/rental units as those being investigated for marijuana charges. Due to reports by fellow students, who live in
some of the large community residents raided by the police, we know the news failed to report the lack of care given to upholding the terms for search/arrest warrants. The violation of innocent student’s right to privacy may have occurred.

I ask you all if there may be a collective response brought through editorials, research, reporting, civilian dissent and contacts at local news papers, that may help to ensure responsible media coverage - including a discussion of the facts presented, and reasons for the hype surrounding what should be seemingly routine drug arrests. Maybe this is a chance to also follow some of these students and study the effect of being a student at one of the countries top universities
(some of the accused may be middle-class to well off, some white and other minorities) - looking at the punishments given out in comparison with national statistics.

Below are the links for just two of the news articles.

WDIV report

Article from the Ann Arbor News

Comments (0) • Posted to Ann ArborPolitics by Rob at 9:53 pm

Thursday, April 14th, 2005

Michigan Independent Launch Photos

Libby Benton has posted some photos from the Divided State screening and the Michigan Independent launch in Ann Arbor this week.

Comments (0) • Posted to Ann ArborPolitics by Rob at 1:54 pm

Monday, April 11th, 2005

pro-nuclear option rally

Taken near the U.S. Capitol last Thursday

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsWashington D.C.Photos by Rob at 8:59 pm

Michigan Independent Launches

The first issue of the Michigan Independent hits the U-M campus tomorrow. The Independent is supported by the Center for American Progress’s Campus Progress program, and is a new progressive newspaper.

Comments (0) • Posted to University of MichiganAnn ArborPolitics by Rob at 4:16 pm

Thursday, April 7th, 2005


Another Conservative Commentator Hit by Pie

(Indianapolis) - Someone threw a pie at conservative commentator David Horowitz during a lecture at Butler University in Indianapolis Wednesday night.

It’s the second time in a week a conservative has been hit by a pie at an Indiana school. Witnesses say there was some “pushing and shoving” when Horowitz’s supporters followed the pie-throwers out of the hall, but the attackers got away. After the incident, Horowitz completed his lecture.

A Butler spokesman called the incident “deplorable.” Horowitz has criticized what he calls the “leftist domination” of college campuses. On his blog Wednesdaynight, Horowitz spoke of “a wave of leftist violence against conservative speakers on college campuses.”

Horowitz has spoken out in favor of an “academic bill of rights,” proposals in several states including Florida that would force educators at the college level to present diverse views on the subject matter they teach. The movement was initiated by conservative student groups who feel they are discriminated against by “liberal” professors. Opponents worry that such a measure would chill academic freedom and force professors to acknowledge long-discredited theories.

Last week, Weekly Standard editor William Kristol was hit by a pie during a speech at Earlham College in Richmond. And commentator Pat Buchanan was doused with salad dressing during at talk at a Michigan school.

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 1:15 pm

Wednesday, April 6th, 2005

Lifestyle Centers on Slate

Slate has a nice story about lifestyle centers: (via Scott)

… Unlike the previous reinvention of the mall as a “festival marketplace,” lifestyle centers do not attempt to evoke some idyllic past. Faneuil Hall in Boston, which opened in 1976, and the South Street Seaport in New York, which opened in 1983, grafted a mall onto a historic market, hoping to make shopping feel like tourism. At lifestyle centers, the most discernible theme is urbanism itself. Their developers recognize that “shopping” is only one urban entertainment among many, like eating at restaurants, people-watching, open-air concerts, or looking at art. More incredibly, lifestyle centers do all the things that urban planners have promoted for years as ways of counteracting sprawl: squeeze more into less space, combine a mix of activities, and employ a fine-grained street grid to create a public realm—a “sidewalk ballet,” in Jane Jacobs’ alluring phrase. The irony is almost too perfect: Malls are now being designed to resemble the downtown commercial districts they replaced. What sweet vindication for urban sophisticates!

Desert Ridge, a great place for a Frappuccino

Not quite. Lifestyle centers are privately owned space, carefully insulated from the messiness of public life. Desert Ridge, for example, has a rigorous code of conduct, posted beneath its store directory. The list of forbidden activities includes “non-commercial expressive activity"—not to mention “excessive staring” and “taking photos, video or audio recording of any store, product, employee, customer or officer.” “Photos of shopping party with shopping center décor, as a backdrop,” however, are permitted. …

> See more posts on urban development

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsUrban Development by Rob at 4:15 pm

Tuesday, April 5th, 2005

Rally to Oppose the “Nuclear Option” Tomorrow @ 1 p.m.


* Join us on Wednesday, April 6 at 12:45 pm on the steps of the Supreme Court! *

Under pressure from ultra-conservative groups, the Senate Republican
leadership is trying to eliminate senators’ right to filibuster
controversial judicial nominations. Known as the “nuclear option,”
this radical change in Senate rules would dismantle our system of
checks and balances and overturn more than 200 years of Senate
tradition. Because the stakes could not be higher, we will rally on
the steps of the Supreme Court. Please plan to join us as we tell the
Senate: “Stop the Partisan Power Grab!”

— “Rally to Stop the Partisan Power Grab” —

WHEN: Wednesday, April 6, 2005, 12:45 pm
WHERE: Steps of the United States Supreme Court
One 1st Street N.E. (Corner of 1st St. NE and Maryland Ave. NE)
Washington, DC 20543

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsWashington D.C. by Rob at 12:18 pm

Horowitz’s University Gag Rule Moving in Florida

” … the bill would require creationism to be taught alongside evolution at all times.”

” … The bill has been passed through the Choice and Innovation Committee, where the votes followed party lines, with the six Republican members of the committee beating the two Democratic members. … If that trend continues, the bill will pass easily in the Republican-controlled House. …”

” … Creationism is not the only thing the bill might force into classrooms. Other topics mentioned in the ongoing debate include the idea’s that the Holocaust never happened. The Earth is flat and the U.S. Astronauts never really landed on the moon. … “

” … Other state Legislatures have had similar bills from that template introduced, but Florida seems to be taking the bill more seriously than any other state. … ”

> The University of South Florida Oracle: “Censorship in the classroom”

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 10:30 am

Monday, April 4th, 2005

Lakoff on the Chopping Block

The Nation editor Marc Cooper has penned a searing review of George Lakoff’s “Don’t think of an Elephant” for the website of independent bookseller Powell’s:

Much more than an offering of serious political strategy, Don’t Think of an Elephant! is a feel-good self-help book for a stratum of despairing liberals who just can’t believe how their commonsense message has been misunderstood by the eternally deceived masses. Liberal values are American values, they say, but somehow Americans just keep getting tricked – by Fox News, Sinclair Broadcasting, AM talk radio, conservative think tanks – into thinking and voting against their own interests.

So what’s an earnest, honest liberal to do when nobody wants to hear the truth? Why not turn to personal therapy disguised as politics, psychobabble as electoral strategy? Lakoff, revealingly, provides nary a word on reshaping the Democratic Party itself, blunting the influence of corporate cash, eliminating the stranglehold on the party and its candidates by discredited but omni-powerful consultants, reversing its estrangement from the white working class, finding some decent candidates, or just about anything else that might require actual strategic thinking, organizing, and politicking. Never mind. What liberals most need to do, Lakoff says, is “be the change you want.” …

As more data come in from last year’s election, it seems ever clearer that the vote was not decided by some grand clash of moral or personal values. There’s a much simpler explanation: Americans were terrified by 9/11, and a small majority of voters concluded, rightly or wrongly, that the incumbent was clear in his thinking on this matter – and that John Kerry, at best, hadn’t anything much different to offer.

America, now more than ever, needs a vibrant, viable, progressive alternative. The challenge to liberals, then, isn’t to reify their differences with a mythical red America and its strict daddies but, rather, to find common ground. Perhaps they ought to start by taking their own sermons about diversity a good deal more seriously. Diversity should be much, much more than a code word for racial affirmative action. It also entails, as Potter and Heath argue, “[making] peace with mass society” and learning to live with what the philosopher John Rawls called “the fact of pluralism.” Modern America is large and, yes, diverse enough that it’s absolute folly to think some sort of progressive or nurturant world view can – or should – become majoritarian. Who would want that sort of conformity in any case? “We need to learn to live with disagreement – not just superficial disagreement, but deep disagreement, about the things that matter most to us,” Heath and Potter conclude.

The trick of effective politics – as opposed to thinly disguised self-affirming psychotherapy and aesthetically gratifying rebel poses – is precisely to unite people with different views, values, and families around programs, candidates, and campaigns on which they can reach some consensus, however minimal. Before liberals and progressives dash out with their new vocabulary to try to convince others of the righteousness of their values, they might consider spending some time listening to others instead.

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 10:51 pm

Filibuster-A-Thon at Howard U April 22

The organization I work for is sponsoring this event. NOTE: Date changed

at Howard University
Friday, April 22
12 noon - 6 p.m.



Host of BET’s “Cousin Jeff Chronicles”

Chairman, Howard University Political Science Department

Vice President of Research and Programs, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation

President/CEO of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington

President, People For the American Way Foundation

Talk for Your Rights, Talk for Your Freedom, Talk for Your Democracy

On Friday, April 22, Howard University will host a “Filibuster-a-Thon” on the yard from 12:00 to 6:00pm. Prominent campus and community leaders will join together to protest the threat of the “nuclear option”, the Republican attempt to get rid of the filibuster in the United States Senate and eliminate any power of the minority in Congress, by standing up on the historic Howard University campus and speaking for six straight hours.

This Filibuster-a-Thon was organized because we could lose our fight against a right-wing Supreme Court takeover before a vacancy and nomination occur – even as early as the next month. This threat comes in the form of the “nuclear option” proposed by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and being pushed by the Religious Right, who would like President Bush’s Supreme Court nominees to be rubber stamped.

The Nuclear Option would attack the 200-year-old tradition of the Senate filibuster, the tool that empowers 41 or more senators to prevent a narrow majority from abusing its power – and one of the only ways to encourage genuine bipartisan cooperation and compromise on important issues.


If the filibuster is eliminated, Bush, Cheney and 50 senators could steamroll up to four new justices onto the Court – enough to create a right-wing majority. What stands between this and protecting the rights of the minority in the Senate by keeping the filibuster is 44 Democratic senators, the one Independent, and at least six courageous Republicans to prevent the nuclear option.

The threat to our generation and future generation’s freedoms is real. With a Supreme Court controlled by President Bush’s nominees, we could see a fundamental roll back of rights and freedoms we currently take for granted. A right-wing Supreme Court could restrict the Voting Rights Act and other important civil rights gains; threaten privacy and reproductive choice, environmental protections and equality for minority groups; and eliminate the remedies available to Americans victimized by abusive employers, corporations or government agencies.

Please join us in this historic event on April 22 at the center of Howard University. It’s your Senate, it’s your Supreme Court, it’s your voice. Let it be heard.

“It’s a democracy if we can keep it. And in order to keep it, you can’t stand still. You must move, and if you don’t move, they will run over you.”
– Thurgood Marshall, Former Supreme Court Justice and Howard University Law School Alum, November 18, 1978


Invited Speakers Include: Congressman John Lewis (GA-5), Councilman Kwame Brown (At-Large, District of Columbia), Councilman Adrien Fenty (4th Ward, District of Columbia), Kurt Schmoke, Dean Howard University Law School, Goody Marhall, Son of former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and former Clinton White House Official, Mark Tushnet, Professor, Georgetown Law School and former Thurgood Marshall law clerk

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsWashington D.C. by Rob at 11:35 am

Sunday, April 3rd, 2005

Citizen Activism 101

Step 1: Mail a letter

Robert C. Goodspeed
2216 39th Place NW
Washington, DC 20007
April 2, 2005

DC Taxicab Commission
2041 Martin Luther King Junior Avenue, SE, Suite 204
Washington, DC 20020-7024

CC: Mr. Hailu Tekleberhan
Sun Cab Association
1029 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20003

CC: Mr. Rateb H. Thahir
Dial Taxicab Company
1007 First Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003

CC: Kathy Patterson
DC Councilmember, Ward 3
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Suite 107
Washington, DC 20004

CC: Jim Graham
DC Councilmember, Ward 1
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 105
Washington, DC 20004

Dear Sir or Madam:

I’m writing to file a complaint for two taxicabs which violated Title 31 of the DC Municipal Regulations in the early morning of Saturday, April 2. As reflected above, I have sent copies of this letter to the members of the DC Council representing both the neighborhood where the incidents have occurred and also where I live as I believe the infractions described here are part of a larger pattern deserving serious government attention. I have also sent copies of the letter to the companies whose drivers committed the offenses so they may discipline or instruct their drivers as they desire.

I realize that according to your website you require the name of the operator and the vehicles license plate number to file a formal complaint, however due to the nature of the infractions – refuse to haul, and asking for destination – I was not able to obtain this information because I did not enter the cab. Because I have experienced taxis violating both of these laws a number of times before and because it would be difficult if not impossible to obtain this information for these particular infractions, I hope the DC Taxicab Commission is able to waive those requirements in this instance.

The first incident occurred at 3:15 a.m. on the morning of Saturday, April 2, 2005. That evening I had been attending a friend’s party on the 1800 block of 10th Street NW, and I was trying to hail a taxi cab to return to my home in Glover Park. A taxi with the words “SUN CAB 696” on the door was traveling east on U Street. I was standing on the southwest corner of the intersection of U Street NW and 14th Street NW. The taxi slowed upon seeing my raised arm, and pulled over, turning onto 14th Street going south. The driver rolled down the window and asked “Where are you going?” I answered “Glover Park. It’s near Georgetown.” The driver then said something which sounded like “I’m not going that direction.” I tried the rear door handle, which was locked. He then sped away while I was just inches from the vehicle.

The second incident occurred just five minutes later farther down U Street at approximately 3:20 a.m., also on April 2. I had walked in that direction in my quest to find a taxi home. In this case, I had crossed to the north side of U Street, hoping it would help me find a taxi because they would be already traveling in the direction I was heading. Upon seeing my raised arm a taxi which had been traveling east on U street made a sharp U turn and pulled up next to me, with his window down. The taxi door read “DIAL 40.” He asked “Where are you going?” I said “Glover Park. It’s near Georgetown.” As he then quickly said “No” and sped away.

According to the copy of Title 31 of the DC Municipal Code found on the DC Taxicab Commission website, both of these drivers violated two separate provisions of the law. Section 819.5 clearly states that “No taxicab operator shall refuse to transport a person while holding his or her taxicab for hire” and Section 819.9 states “Except in shared riding, the operator shall not ask the destination of the passenger until the passenger is in the taxicab. A dispatcher shall not ask the destination of a passenger.” According to Section 825.1, the fine for violating the first provision is $250 and the fine for the second is $25. I request the DC Taxicab Commission fine the operators of these cabs $275 each.

I have encountered the infractions described here many times before when trying to hail a cab from the U Street and Adams Morgan neighborhoods late at night, when many bar and club patrons are trying to hail taxicabs. I encourage the DC Taxicab Commission to investigate my claim and also instruct their inspectors to combat this practice, which I am afraid is widespread.

I am available to testify to the facts set forth in this letter in person at an administrative hearing.


Robert Goodspeed

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsWashington D.C. by Rob at 1:17 am

Wednesday, March 30th, 2005

Get Educated on GEO

****The Graduate Employee Organization -MFT, AFT, AFL-CIO Local 3550 G.E.O. & S.O.L.E
(Students Organizing for Labor and Economic Equality) ****

> Sunday, 3pm, Michigan Union, Pond Room

Wondering why your GSI’s went ON STRIKE and why they might go out AGAIN?

Have QUESTIONS about their platform
(what they are asking the University)?

Want to know more about how they are defending LGBT rights includingtrying to SAVE SAME-SEX HEALTH BENEFITS?

HERE IS YOUR CHANCE to ask the questions you have to graduate student instructors/employees:

Sunday 3pm
Pond Room in the Michigan Union

This is event is just for undergrads or others who have questions that they want answered.

Here is an update about what GEO has won in bargaining so far and what they
are still asking for- (Cut, see )

Comments (0) • Posted to University of MichiganPolitics by Rob at 9:18 pm

Get On U-M Student Government

**Please forward on to your student orgs**

There are three available positions: Treasurer, Student General Counsel, and Chief of Staff.

Please answer all questions, and clearly indicate which position you are applying for. The first seven questions are generic. The last question is specific to the three positions. If you are applying for multiple positions, please answer the last question differently for each position you are interested in.

1. What is your vision for the Michigan Student Assembly?
2. How do you plan on implementing your vision/goals over the next year?
3. Explain the value of working together in teams, and cite examples from your life.
4. What is your schedule like for next year, and how much time can you devote to MSA Exec?
5. Are you available Sunday nights at 6:00pm?
6. How many Tuesday night meetings do you plan on missing throughout the year?
7. Why did you initially join MSA, and why do you want to become an integral part of MSA in the future?
8. Explain the role of the position you are interested in, and why you think you are most qualified for the job.

Please place applications in the mailbox of Jesse Levine by Friday, April 1st, 2005 at 9:30am. Please also sign up for an interview time at the front desk of MSA (3909 Michigan Union)

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsStudent Government by Rob at 9:15 pm

Write for the Michigan Independent

Do you have a strong opinion that you would like to share with U of M’s

Would you like to contribute to the first issue of U of M’s new progressive

The first issue of the Michigan Independent is hitting campus on April
12th, and your writing could be in it. We are U of M’s newest progressive
voice and our goal is to provide a forum for students to express their
opinions. We are calling for submissions from any student on campus about
ANYTHING. There is no limit to what you can write about. Write about what
you’re passionate about. And you don’t need to have any experience writing
for a publication to submit an article.

We need opinion pieces, in-depth features and profiles about progressive
students/professors/student groups on campus. We also need photographs!
Again, there is no limit to what photos you can submit - submit what you
think other progressive-minded students would like to see.

****Submissions are due APRIL 5TH to****

Please refer to the attached document for submissions guidelines.

As you may have noticed, the mainstream media does not always do the best
job covering issues that progressives care about, and the Michigan
Independent is our chance to change that, so we hope you consider

The Michigan Independent Staff

Comments (0) • Posted to University of MichiganPolitics by Rob at 9:13 pm

Tuesday, March 29th, 2005

Wellstone! Screening In Ann Arbor

Last fall I wrote about the release of a documentary about the life of Paul Wellstone. The film is going to be screened in Ann Arbor this week:

***Michigan Premiere of “Wellstone!” Documentary***

When: Thursday, March 31st, 7 pm - 8:30 pm.
Where: Rackham Amphitheater (4th floor), in the Rackham Graduate School Building, 915 E Washington, Ann Arbor.

Go to to view a trailer. “Wellstone!” is about a remarkable man, Paul Wellstone, who defied tradition, became a U.S. Senatorfrom Minnesota, and brought politics back to the people. The film is funny, stirring and full of surprises.

$5 suggested donation at the door. (all donations will go to Wellstone Action! A non-profit, non-partisan organization).

Sponsored by the Ford School Student Affairs Committee, and the Ford School of Public Policy.

Questions? E-mail angela at aboatman at

> Order a copy of the documentary

Comments (0) • Posted to Ann ArborPolitics by Rob at 10:15 pm

Friday, March 25th, 2005

On Michigan’s “Cool Cities” … Or Lack Thereof

I have written extensively on Richard Florida’s “Cool Cities” theory, and the decision my Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm to try to translate it into a major policy initiative. I believe that despite his prolific naysayers his theory is essentially correct - attracting and retaining creative professionals is critical for the ongoing economic vitality of a city, particularly in an information (or creative) economy. However, I fear his theory too often is simplified to being simply about “edgy” culture, and the political implications of one of the major components to the theory - tolerance - is frequently overlooked for the minor frills of the cool cities theory. This letter, which I received via email from a friend of a friend, is an example of what this tolerance might truly mean for Michigan.

To Whom it May Concern (because Mike Cox certainly won’t be reading this):

I was appalled to read today on the Free Press website that Attorney General Mike Cox has decided to deny employment benefits to gay and lesbian couples. This is unacceptable discrimination. It is hateful and hurtful and the Attorney General could have just as easily decided the issue with common sense and just a bit of human empathy. I have seen countless attempts on the part of the Governor to make Michigan “cool” to people in my age group (I am 25). I grew up in Detroit and I graduated from the University of Michigan. I now live in New Orleans where I attended law school. I am scheduled to take the Michigan Bar this July, but now I am forced to reconsider. I don’t want to live in a state that is so petty that it has to kick a group of people while they’re down. Or if I have to live in such a state, it might as well be one in which the weather is much better. Isn’t it enough that 59% of voters, many of whom voted in complete ignorance, voted to ban gay marriage for its “protection” in what should be an unconstitutionally nebulous proposal? The overwhelming majority of my college friends who grew up in Michigan have left for greener pastures. They have left because Michigan is a cold miserable state with no real major city. They have left because they know that life in Michigan is nothing but constant disappointment and has very little to offer them. I wanted to come back. I wanted to help change the situation. I wanted to be the first in a class of people in my age range to return to Michigan and once again imbue it with hope-hope long gone in an indifferent and gray state whose most popular features are its proximity to other cities. I abhor the decision made by Mike Cox. And I am disgusted that my home state would ever be so cruel and disinterested. I must think long and hard about returning to Michigan. I must wonder if I would not be happier somewhere where I wouldn’t be publicly and legally persecuted by hatred and ignorance. I fully expect that this letter will not be read … let alone answered.

Thank You,
Roderick Thompson, J.D. (Michigan ex-pat)

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsUrban DevelopmentMichigan by Rob at 12:22 am

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2005

Jeff Weise’s Posts on

The Washington Post writes about school shooter Jeff Weisse’s posts on the website You can read one string of comments first-hand in google’s cache here. Excerpts:

Hmn, after a recent discussion with some misinformed people I had to ask you guys, why are people so close minded?

By the way, I’m being blamed for a threat on the school I attend because someone said they were going to shoot up the school on 4/20, Hitlers birthday, and just because I claim being a National Socialist, guess whom they’ve pinned? […]

But the school threat passed and I was cleared as a suspect, I’m glad for that. I don’t much care for jail, I’ve never been there and I don’t plan on it.

Either way, I was wondering if there was a way to become a more active member, besides posting on this board I can’t really think of anything else to do. I could do some recruiting, but a lot of the people I socialize with are against Nazism whole-heartedly, I managed to sway a few opinions in the favor of the movement none the less, and there is also a few of my “friends” who only like Hitler because they think Nazi’s are “cool.” Which I agree with, don’t get me wrong, but they aren’t as serious about it as I am.

Any ideas?

I may young, but I’m willing to help.

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 12:13 pm

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2005

Tom Hayden To Make Rare U-M Appearance Thurs.

This just in:

Tom Hayden will be speaking at the 40th Anniversary Teach-In this Thursday March24. The event goes from 6:30 to midnight in Angell Hall. There will be an open floor for students (and others) to talk at the posting wall followed by speeches in the Angell Auditoriums.

Comments (0) • Posted to Ann ArborPolitics by Rob at 8:39 pm

40th Anniversary Teach-Ins

The first teach-in on the Vietnam War was held in 1965 at the University of Michigan. Today, students and faculty have organized a 40th anniversary event on the “Evaluating the American Empire” with a variety of U-M professors including Ian Robinson, Charlie Bright, Ivette Perfecto, among others. They have set up a website here.

There is also a teach-in planned by United for Peace and Justice and the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive think tank, for George Washington University:

On the 40th Anniversary of
the first teach-in on the Vietnam War


Thursday, March 24, 7:00pm - 10:00pm
George Washington University
Jack Morton Auditorium, Media and Public Affairs Building
805 21st St., NW (Corner of 21st and H St. Map (PDF file)
Foggy Bottom/ GWU metro on Blue and Orange line

Free and open to the public!
Sponsored by the Institute for Policy Studies with United for Peace and Justice,
Black Voices for Peace, Students Against the War in Iraq, Military Families Speak
Out, and Global Exchange

Opening Remarks on the legacy of the Vietnam teach-in movement by Professor Marcus Raskin, GWU and the Institute for Policy Studies. Panel Discussion with: Naomi Klein, award winning journalist and author of No Logo; Phyllis Bennis, Institute for Policy Studies; Damu Smith, Black Voices for Peace; Anas Shallal, Iraqi Americans for Peaceful Alternatives; Celeste Zappala, co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace and member of Military Families Speak Out, whose son, Sgt. Sherwood Baker, was killed in Baghdad in 2004.

Two years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the tragedy of war continues and the U.S. has no plan for bringing the troops home. The death toll soars on all sides, especially among civilians. The cost of the war mounts daily as vital social programs are being cut at home. But many questions remain: Did the January 2005 elections improve the situation in Iraq? Is the US troop presence in Iraq helping stabilize the country, or is it at the root of Iraq’s deadly violence? And what
are the true costs of the war at home – its impact on military families and returning veterans, its $200+ billion price tag, and the legacy of occupation on the people of Iraq?

Join us in Washington, DC, to consider these issues to mark the 40th anniversary of the first Vietnam War teach-in in 1965. Simultaneous teach-ins will be held in San Francisco and Ann Arbor to launch a United for Peace and Justice education campaign on how to end the war in Iraq.

Comments (0) • Posted to University of MichiganAnn ArborPoliticsWashington D.C. by Rob at 4:46 pm

Need an Internship in Washington, D.C.?

My employer, People For the American Way, is hiring interns to work in our Washington, D.C. office this summer. Most positions are unpaid and for credit, and positions are available in a variety of our departments - Field, Strategic Planning, Media Relations, and Public Policy. Positions are also available in our offices in Texas and New York City. Read more about the PFAW/PFAWF internship program on our website here.

I also have a friend that works for a leading political internet consulting firm. If you are knowledgeable about the web and interested in politics, this job is for you! It will require only some HTML but a passion for technology and the desire to learn.

If you are interested in either opportunity please email me at rob at

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsWashington D.C. by Rob at 1:30 pm

Monday, March 21st, 2005

Free D.C. Premiere of Documentary on Michael Moore Tomorrow

The Center for American Progress is sponsoring the free D.C. premiere of the highly-rated documentary This Divided State, tomorrow (Wednesday) at 7 p.m. at the E Street Cinema downtown. The movie is about events that happened in fall of 2004 when a member of the student body invited Michael Moore to come speak at the Utah Valley State College.

This Divided State follows the controversy surrounding Utah Valley State College’s invitation to liberal filmmaker Michael Moore to speak on campus. Though UVSC is located in one of the most conservative counties in the United States, vehement opposition to Moore’s visit was much greater than anticipated. Equally surprising, however, was the overwhelming support for Moore, vocalized by students and community members previously considered “apathetic.” Debate between Moore supporters and Moore protestors raged openly in the media and public forums. Death threats, hate mail, bribes, and lawsuits were all candidly captured on film.

Tickets are free, go to CampusProgress’s website to RSVP online.

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsWashington D.C. by Rob at 6:39 pm

GEO Walkout at U-M On Thursday

The GEO members at the Feb 23 Membership Meeting voted 228-1 in favor of approving the strike platform as proposed and authorizing the Stewards’ Council to send out strike ballots through the mail to all union members. They also approved an action timeline including a one-day walkout on Thursday, March 24 and a potential open-ended strike to begin on Monday, April 2.

Assuming the mail ballot comes back with an affirmative majority, the GEO membership will reconvene at a meeting on Wednesday, March 23 to consider the Administration’s final offer and decide whether to accept it or to follow-through with the walkout.

> View the 2005 GEO Walkout Strike Platform (PDF)

Comments (1) • Posted to University of MichiganPolitics by Rob at 5:53 pm

Horowitz’s Speech Codes

Conservative activist and political provocateur David Horowitz has been pushing academic speech codes (he calls them his “Academic Bill of Rights") in over 20 states in the country. If passed, the laws would require colleges and universities hire a balanced number of Liberal and Conservative professors. The Minnesota Daily printed this excellent op-ed by Jason Stahl today:

First, I recommend they head over to the Carlson School of Management. You would simply not believe the pro-corporate, anti-labor indoctrination that is occurring over there! Moreover, the Carlson School has a brand new building that was paid for by ideologically driven corporate donations. It seems as though the Carlson School is the perfect place to start the purging and set a quota for the hiring of more liberal faculty. …

Somehow I doubt Horowitz, Sen. Michele Bachmann, R-Stillwater; Rep. Ray Vandeveer, R-Forest Lake, and the Bernards of the world will be taking up my suggestions anytime soon (nor should they). They obviously want quota systems and speech codes in some departments and not in others. Here in Minnesota and across the nation, we need to reject the type of thinking that discourages open, critical inquiry in higher education.

I would rather have a classroom built on free and open discussion of all topics between students and teachers, no matter what their political persuasions. To insinuate that this is not already occurring is offensive to the vast majority of teachers who work hard to encourage such an environment. If Bernard thinks he is being victimized when he is asked to defend his conservative beliefs, then he probably does not belong in a university setting. He needs to take some personal responsibility for his own failings rather than try to push his politically correct agenda on the rest of us.

> The Center For American Progress blog has more on Horowitz’s proposal
> Read more about Horowitz on CampusProgress’s “Know your right-wing speakers” series
> Billmon compares Mao with Horotwiz

Comments (1) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 11:09 am

Friday, March 18th, 2005

The “L” Word

Throughout political history, politicians have twisted the truth for their own ends. Sometimes it’s innocent: there honestly are different ways of viewing the world which might seem flat wrong to others. Sometimes it’s malicious: purposely saying something you know is false. Call me a radical, but I think it’s the media’s job to call out journalists who do the latter. However it’s shockingly rare. Journalists frequently balance “both sides” of stories even if one is blatantly false, or give obsequious caveats. I’m sure they do this for lots of reasons - not wanting to unduly anger people in power (not a good reason) or not wanting to appear “biased” chief among them. However I have found if you don’t dish it out straight your readers won’t come back. I ran a flamingly liberal blog in Ann Arbor and found some of my most regular readers were conservative - but they knew I could be counted on to provide all the information I had alongside my views.

The Washington Post today has a great story about the history of the filibuster where they rebut Republican arguments that the Democrat’s use of the filibuster to block the confirmation of 10 of Bush’s 200+ judicial nominations is “unprecedented.” It’s not: conservative Republicans (and, to be fair, a handful of conservative southern Democrats) blocked the confirmation of Lyndon B. Johnson’s nomination of Abe Fortas to be chief justice of the United States Supreme Court in 1968.

The article quotes Republican leaders blatantly lying: “with the filibuster being employed for the first time in the history of the Republic” (Sen. Specter) and “The crisis created by the unprecedented use of filibusters to defeat judicial nominations must be solved.” (Sen. Hatch) and cite unassailable historical fact that directly contradicts these statements. However, they never directly point out these statements are lies, instead leaving their implication unwritten and between the lines.

In case they forgot what that word means, here’s Merriam-Webster on the verb to “lie":

1 : to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive
2 : to create a false or misleading impression

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 1:45 pm

Wednesday, March 16th, 2005

Tim Wise Speaking In A2 On Monday


The MSA Peace & Justice Commission, The Minority Affairs Commission
and UM NAACP Present:

The most Raucous and Raging–Wildly Engaging–Totally Mind Changing
Civil Rights Roadshow in Town…

*******TIM WISE********
That angry white male who has spent his life fighting for racial justice
takes on:

The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative and Affirmative Action!
Race Construction and Privilege!
What the heck we should do!

Back By Popular Demand. To Blow Your mind.

Monday March 21, 7:00, East Quad Auditorium

*******TIM WISE********

Mr. Wise’s Bio:

Tim Wise is among the most prominent anti-racist writers and activists in the U.S., and has been called, “one of the most brilliant, articulate and courageous critics of white privilege in the nation,” by best-selling author and University of Pennsylvania professor Michael Eric Dyson.

Wise has spoken at over 350 college campuses, including Harvard, Stanford, and the Law Schools at Yale and Columbia. He has trained corporate, government, and law enforcement officials on methods for dismantling racism in their institutions, and has served as a consultant for plaintiff’s attorneys in federal discrimination cases in New York and Washington State. Wise has provided anti-racism training to teachers nationwide, and conducted trainings with physicians and medical industry professionals on how to combat racial inequities in health care.

Wise is the author of two books to be released in 2005: White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son (Soft Skull Press) and Affirmative Action: Racial Preference in Black and White (Routledge). Wise is also featured in White Men Challenging Racism: Thirty-Five Personal Stories (Duke University Press).

Wise has a B.A. in Political Science from Tulane University, where his anti-apartheid work received international attention and the thanks of Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He and his wife Kristy are the proud parents of two daughters.

Comments (0) • Posted to University of MichiganPoliticsAffirmative Action by Rob at 6:20 pm

Tuesday, March 15th, 2005

Students for PIRGIM Under Attack

I just sent this letter to MSA.


I’ve been hearing a lot about the PIRGIM proposal before MSA lately. As a former MSA member, former CSJ member, former Michigan Daily staffer, and blogger who wrote about MSA for four years, I thought I would weigh in.

From what I have read and heard, the behavior of Elliot Wells-Reid and the other opponents of PIRGIM has been underhanded, unfair, and downright nasty.

Case in point: Mr. Wells-Reid has filed a CSJ case alleging PIRGIM will cause MSA to violate their tax-exempt status. In reality, BOTH 501©3 and 501©4 organizations can engage in some direct lobbying. I work for an organization that has both c3 and c4 branches and the c4 branch even has a full time lobbyist. Furthermore, members of PIRGIM have repeatedly told the Daily they plan to engage in NO DIRECT LOBBYING - so the point is moot, right?

I appreciate Mr. Wells-Reid’s concern about the future of MSA. However, why did he file a CSJ case when he could have quickly resolved what is a pretty clear-cut legal matter by consulting an attorney? It looks to me like he just wanted to block PIRGIM from passing, but didn’t have the courage to attack it directly.

I remember some similar arguments from when I was on MSA under president Matt Nolan. Mr. Nolan was pro-life and opposed affirmative action but didn’t have the courage to admit either publicly - so he and his allies would instead would use parliamentary maneuvers and false rhetoric to try to prevent student initiatives and resolutions they opposed from passing.

In fact, the maneuvers of Elliot Wells-Reid and his allies sound similar to tactics used by the Republican Party in Congress here in Washington. In the U.S. House Republican leaders have broken their rules to extend time limits to corral enough votes to force through unpopular legislation, and currently in the Senate some Republican leaders are considering eliminating the 200-year-old tradition of the filibuster using something called the “Nuclear Option” because they’re upset only 95% of Bush’s judicial nominees were approved last year.

You may hear many arguments about PIRGIM and the role of MSA and I encourage you to do your homework and think for yourself. Many opponents of PIRGIM will oppose it because they specifically oppose a pro-student political agenda: fighting for tenant rights, lowering the cost tuition, and making textbooks more affordable.

As a governing body, I believe your actions should always be guided by a desire to work for the interests of your constituents. Whether or not PIRGIM is the best way to address the interests of students, they deserve a fair consideration. In his long tenure in and around MSA, Elliot Wells-Reid has done little to serve student interests compared with the members of Students for PIRGIM.


Robert Goodspeed
Former MSA-LSA Member and Student Rights Commission Chair University of Michigan BA ‘04 Field Coordinator, People For the American Way

Comments (1) • Posted to University of MichiganPoliticsStudent Government by Rob at 3:36 pm

It’s Sunshine Week!

This week is Sunshine Week, which Peter Bhatia, executive editor of The Oregonian, described this way: “It is our fundamental responsibility as journalists to be agents for the public on these matters and to fight every day to keep access open and information flowing. It has never been more necessary than it is today.” For college journalists the Student Press Law Center has lots of great information for student journalists.

“This is not just an issue for the press. It’s an issue for the public,” said Andy Alexander, ASNE Freedom of Information chair, who is chief of the Cox Newspapers’ Washington bureau. “An alarming amount of public information is being kept secret from citizens and the problem is increasing by the month. Not only do citizens have a right to know, they have a need to know.

“Our goal is to raise public awareness of this horrible trend that is hurting democracy,” he said of the Sunshine Week project. “We hope that it sparks a public dialogue about the value of open government and the damage to citizens from excessive government secrecy.”

> From the Sunshine week PR
> Read my U-M specific guide: “So you want to file a FOIA?”

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsWashington D.C. by Rob at 12:15 pm

What is the “Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow"?

It looks like Google has some answers!

The world is full of right wing hack organizations funded by shadowy extremists like Richard M. Scaife. You better get good at researching them, because as they say, old bloggers just fade away …

Comments (0) • Posted to University of MichiganPolitics by Rob at 1:34 am

Monday, March 14th, 2005

Rally for Fair Judges Wednesday

MoveOn is sponsoring a major rally on the future of the federal judiciary:

Dear MoveOn member,

The battle over Bush’s far-right corporate judicial nominees is reaching a boiling point, but most Washington insiders—and many senators—see this as a fight that real Americans don’t care about. As Republican leaders prepare to overturn 200-year-old rules in the Senate to eradicate the need for bipartisan support and stack the Supreme Court, we’ve got to show Democratic and Republican senators that this is a grassroots issue.

That’s why we’re holding a big rally this Wednesday, March 16th, and that’s why we want you to come. Our keynote speaker will be Senator Robert Byrd, whose outspoken opposition to the Iraq war inspired many of us and who will be one of the main voices in this fight to protect the courts. The national press will be watching, and together we can show them that real people are ready to fight hard for fair judges—that we’re not going to let it slip through as an insider issue.

Here are the details:

Rally for Fair Judges featuring Senator Robert Byrd
Wednesday, March 16th from 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm.
Grand Ballroom of the Washington Court Hotel
525 New Jersey Avenue NW, Washington DC.
(3 blocks from Union Station Metro)

Space is limited, and we expect seats to fill up fast, so please click here to reserve your seats:

We look forward to meeting you there!

Here’s some background on Bush’s plan to stack the courts and the “nuclear option.”

Last term, Senate Democrats approved 204 of Bush’s nominees, and rejected only the handful most consistently hostile to the rights of ordinary Americans. Even though Bush was able to push through more judges in one term than Clinton or the first Bush, he is determined to force through every last one.

To make that happen, Dick Cheney is threatening to use the “nuclear option,"—a parliamentary maneuver that would eliminate the right to filibuster judicial nominations. The filibuster is a Senate rule dating back 200 years that allows at least 41 senators from either party to extend debate and delay highly controversial votes. Though it is rarely invoked, the right to filibuster has always placed an important check on the ruling party, and nowhere is that more important than when considering life-time appointments for federal judges.

But Dick Cheney (in his role as President of the Senate) is planning to abuse his power and simply declare that the filibuster rule no longer applies. If Senate Republican leader Bill Frist can twist enough arms to get 50 votes to support the ruling, the filibuster will be history–starting with judicial nominations.

If the “nuclear option” succeeds, the Democrats will be completely silenced and Bush would be able to stack the federal courts, and then go on to fill the Supreme Court with as many as four new justices to lock in his hard-right, pro-corporate ideology for decades to come.

As we speak, Frist and Cheney are working overtime to get the 50 votes they need to pull off the “nuclear option"—but they don’t have them yet. The big question on their minds is whether they can sneak this through under the radar—or whether ordinary Americans will see what is at stake and hold them accountable.

If you can join us at the rally on Wednesday, the senators, their staff, and the national media will all hear the answer to that question: the American people will not stand by while our courts are stacked and our democracy dismantled. Together, we can win this fight before they ever get the chance to “go nuclear.”

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsWashington D.C. by Rob at 6:03 pm

Sunday, March 13th, 2005

Steve Shepard

Works by the Mississippi artist Steve Shepard:

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsArt by Rob at 1:52 am

Friday, March 11th, 2005

The Michigan Independent

*** There is a NEW magazine coming to Michigan geared towards serving the entire PROGRESSIVE community here on campus! ***

::: MSA CHAMBERS (3rd floor of the Union) AT 9PM ON WEDNESDAY MARCH 16TH :::

** Come learn about how you will benefit from this new publication and how all the various progressive organizations on campus will benefit as well. **

* Also at this meeting, apply to be on the staff of the Michigan Independent! There are a number of positions available, each of which needs to be filled including: *

* Managing Editor
* Editorial Board seats
* Columnists
* Graphic Artists
* Layout Artists
* Publicist
* Production manager
* Treasurer
* Webmaster

This is a unique chance for all progressive-minded students at this university to voice and share their ideas with thousands of others. Please come to this meeting so you can be part of this incredible opportunity.

Any questions? Contact:

Ryan Werder

rjwerder at

Comments (0) • Posted to University of MichiganPolitics by Rob at 11:06 pm

Wednesday, March 9th, 2005

Register to Take “The History of Student Activism 101″!

Part of my work at People For the American Way is helping out on their Young People For Program, a project to build the progressive movement on college campuses. They will be offering a series of online classes, and I’ll be teaching the first course - a brief history of student activism.

Registration is now open for the first-ever YP4 online course: the History of Student Activism 101! The syllabus and registration information is available on the Young People For Academy website.

The course will cover the history of student activism in the U.S. from the early 20th century to the present. We’ll cover the student pacifist movement of the 1930s, student civil rights activism of the 1950s and 60s, and the myriad of movements and issues which mobilized students in the 1970s, 80s, 90s and today. We’ll discuss student anti-war and anti-apartheid activism as well as students’ ongoing efforts to change the structure and direction of colleges and universities themselves.

The course is six weeks and tuition is free, however there is space for only 15 participants. Students will complete short readings, post to an online discussion forum, and participate in a weekly conference call at 4 p.m. on Thursdays. The course will conclude with a short final project. Participants will earn a YP4 Academy certificate. To learn more, go to or email Rob Goodspeed at rgoodspeed at

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsBlogosphere by Rob at 11:55 am

Friday, February 25th, 2005

“Satire” In the Michigan Daily

Sometimes satire doesn’t quite work …

… Jack sat there silently for a few minutes, and then tears formed in his eyes. As they rolled down his cheeks, he looked up at me and said, “Daddy, are those two men going to hell?” I nodded. “Should I pray for them?” he asked.

The question caught me so completely off guard that I began to cry myself. I hugged my son tightly and told him, “Yes, Jack. Pray as hard as you can.” I had never been so proud of one of my children.

It’s funny how you try so hard to teach your children the right thing to do, and sometimes they’re the ones who end up teaching you. I realized that my heart had hardened on the homosexuals. We shouldn’t scorn them or try to cast them out of society. We should pray for them. Only with God’s help can they learn the error of their ways and get their lives back on track. …

This Michigan Daily story is stirring up some controversy on their comment function, including Mr. Hoard’s inbox, I assume. He’s a rather cliche liberal who might not understand why shit like this pisses people off.

He’s also the author of this anti-flyering column (where he says “Maybe I’m just old fashioned, but I think people should get to know each other before they give one another flyers.") which caused this letter to the Daily.

Comments (0) • Posted to University of MichiganPolitics by Rob at 12:45 am

Wednesday, February 16th, 2005

Progressive Politics on Campus

Today, launched - a new project to cultivate progressive politics on U.S. campuses and encourage alterative student media. The project is related to something I am involved with - People For the American Way’s Young People For project, which has a fellowship program in its first year of operation, campus trainings, and online courses.

The Young People For program also has a blog written by 2004 fellows.

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsBlogosphere by Rob at 12:48 pm

Tuesday, February 15th, 2005

D.C. Weblogger Meetup Tomorrow

I am hosting this meetup tomorrow … it should be fun!

What: Washington Weblogger February Meetup

When: Wednesday, February 16, 2005 at 6:30 PM

SoHo Tea and Coffee
2150 P Street NW
Washington, DC 20037
(202) 463-7646

For More information or to RSVP

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsWashington D.C.Blogosphere by Rob at 2:37 pm

Tuesday, February 8th, 2005

Bush Administration Propaganda Watch, 2nd Edition

(First Edition)

Rumsfeld: Reporters Not Told What to Write

WASHINGTON (AP) - Journalists were not told what to write when they were assigned articles about Europe for Pentagon-run Web sites, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Sunday. The practice is now under review by the military’s chief investigator.

“I’m told that in this case, people were just asked to prepare anything,” Rumsfeld said on CNN’s “Late Edition.”

“They weren’t told what to write, it had nothing to do with an agenda. They were asked to take a subject, and if they wanted to, write something on it, which people do all the time,” Rumsfeld said.

Inspector General Joseph Schmitz is reviewing the military’s practice of paying journalists to provide articles and commentary for a Web site aimed at influencing public opinion in the Balkans, Larry Di Rita, Rumsfeld’s chief spokesman, said Friday.

The investigation followed a CNN report on the Pentagon’s role in two Web sites: Southeast European Times, aimed at audiences in the Balkans; and Magharebia, aimed at the Maghreb region of North Africa that encompasses Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia.


Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 10:40 pm

Sign a Petition on the Filibuster

PFAW LogoMy employer, the organization People For the American Way, has launched a petition to oppose a proposal (called the “nuclear option") to eliminate the filibuster.

PFAW played an instrumental role in defeating one of President Reagan’s nominees to the Supreme Court - Robert Bork - and we expect at least 1 (likely more) Supreme Court justice to resign in the coming years. In the case of Bork, the Senate rejected his nomination because of his radical legal views (he didn’t believe in equal protection or a constitutional right to privacy, for example). Since Senate Republicans have a majority in the Senate, some Republican leaders have proposed eliminating the filibuster (you know, that’s when a Senator talks on and on to delay a vote - they’ve been doing it for over 200 years). The idea is, if they can eliminate the filibuster they will have a greater chance of approving a Bush replacement to the Court with a bare majority and bypass any ugly “discussion” or “debate.”

Read more about the Nuclear Option or go sign the petition!

Oh yeah, also thanks to PFAW: of the 1,000 students enrolled in the D.C. voucher program, 75 are from under performing public schools, and 200 were already attending private schools.
> Post: “Group Opposed to Vouchers Cites Shortcomings”

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 12:25 pm

Friday, February 4th, 2005

Enron Closed Plants to Manipulate Energy Prices in 2001

Why was Enron able to perpetrate all kinds of fraud with our most basic utility? Why were there rolling blackouts in California in 2001? One word: DEREGULATION.

Tapes Show Enron Arranged Plant Shutdown
By TIMOTHY EGAN, The New York Times

Published: February 4, 2005

EVERETT, Wash., Feb. 3 - In the midst of the California energy troubles in early 2001, when power plants were under a federal order to deliver a full output of electricity, the Enron Corporation arranged to take a plant off-line on the same day that California was hit by rolling blackouts, according to audiotapes of company traders released here on Thursday.

The tapes and memorandums were made public by a small public utility north of Seattle that is fighting Enron over a power contract. They also showed that Enron, as early as 1998, was creating artificial energy shortages and running up prices in Canada in advance of California’s larger experiment with deregulation.

The tapes provide new details of market manipulation during the California energy crisis that produced blackouts and billions of dollars of surcharges to homes and businesses on the West Coast in 2000 and 2001.

In one January 2001 telephone tape of an Enron trader the public utility identified as Bill Williams and a Las Vegas energy official identified only as Rich, an agreement was made to shut down a power plant providing energy to California. The shutdown was set for an afternoon of peak energy demand.

“This is going to be a word-of-mouth kind of thing,” Mr. Williams says on the tape. “We want you guys to get a little creative and come up with a reason to go down.” After agreeing to take the plant down, the Nevada official questioned the reason. “O.K., so we’re just coming down for some maintenance, like a forced outage type of thing?” Rich asks. “And that’s cool?”

“Hopefully,” Mr. Williams says, before both men laugh.

The next day, Jan. 17, 2001, as the plant was taken out of service, the State of California called a power emergency, and rolling blackouts hit up to a half-million consumers, according to daily logs of the western power grid.

Officials with the Snohomish County Public Utility District in Washington State, which released the tapes, said they believed Enron officials had taken similar measures with other power plants. This tape, they said, was proof of what was going on.

At the time, power plants in the greater West Coast grid were under a federal emergency order to keep their plants running.

A spokeswoman for Enron, Jennifer Lowney, would not comment on the tapes, citing a blanket policy of the energy trading company, which is operating under bankruptcy protection and facing multiple criminal and civil proceedings. “We continue to cooperate with all ongoing investigations,” she said.

Conversations between energy traders and power plants were routinely recorded to give a record of transactions. The tapes were part of a large seizure of evidence by the F.B.I. The Snohomish County utility, which is in a court battle with Enron, obtained them through a legal action.

Previous tapes released by the district last summer showed Enron officials joking about how they were “stealing” more than a $1 million a day from California and fleecing “Grandma Millie” while bringing Enron record profits.

Other tapes released on Thursday showed Enron executives discussing their fear of going to jail for manipulating power markets in Canada and the United States. And memos showed that Enron practiced as early as 1998 to create artificial shortages and run up prices and extend the market manipulation to Canada.

Three former Enron traders have pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges of fraudulently manipulating the West Coast energy market. Enron’s former chairman, Kenneth L. Lay, and former president, Jeffrey K. Skilling, are under federal indictment for fraud.

In cooperating with federal officials, West Coast traders have told how they devised schemes named “Death Star” and “Get Shorty” to make billions of dollars out of California’s disastrous experiment with energy deregulation.

But until the tapes were released on Thursday, there had been few public details of how Enron set in motion the phony power shortages.

Company officials had long denied that they illegally shut down plants to create artificial shortages. In March 2001 - two months after the recording showed how the Nevada plant was shut down- Mr. Lay called any claims of market manipulation “conspiracy theories.”

Memos uncovered by Snohomish County also show that Enron rewarded midlevel executives based on their performance in manipulating the West Coast market.

The tapes and memos were filed this week with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, as part of a broad investigation into how much money was lost by Enron market manipulation. Snohomish County is seeking to void a $122 million lawsuit by Enron over an energy contract the utility said was based on fraud.

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsUrban Development by Rob at 4:16 pm

Monday, January 24th, 2005

‘Activism At Michigan’ Event

I got this email recently, it sounds like an interesting event in Ann Arbor:

How loud is your voice?

Can you make a difference?

Has anything changed in the past 30 years?

Come learn about how three periods of social activism changed the University
of Michigan forever.

The Untouchable Brothers of Lambda Theta Phi present:


In the past 35 years student activism has shaped University policies, come
learn how students in the past set the foundations for our future. Hear
first hand accounts from people who were there in the struggle for equality
at the University of Michigan.

Monday February 7



The Men in Brown and White

Comments (0) • Posted to University of MichiganPoliticsHistory by Rob at 1:07 pm

Wednesday, January 12th, 2005

Inauguration Protester Housing


T h e U n i v e r s i t y o f M i c h i g a n
—————– ANNOUNCEMENT ——————


The D.C. chapter of the U-M Union of Progressive Alumni is offering protester housing with U-M alumni in the Washington D.C. area during the time surrounding the inauguration.

** To make a housing request send an email with your Name, Email, Cell Phone Number (if you have it), dates you hope to find housing, and any special considerations to project coordinator Hannah Arkin: HannahArkin (at) **

* FYI The Michigan Student Assembly is sponsoring transportation to D.C. leaving Ann Arbor on 6 p.m. Wednesday Jan. 19 returning 7 a.m. Friday, Jan. 21 for $25. For more information contact

* To read about some of the many events planned surrounding the inauguration, see

| The University of Michigan Union of Progressive Alumni is a global membership organization of alumni of the University of Michigan interested in progressive politics.
| To subscribe to our FREE Yahoo group send a message to: Current and short-term students encouraged to join!

University of Michigan Union of Progressive Alumni
PO Box 7207
Ann Arbor, MI 48107
UPA.core (at)

Comments (0) • Posted to University of MichiganPoliticsWashington D.C. by Rob at 10:58 pm

Monday, January 10th, 2005

Bush Administration and Propaganda

WASHINGTON — Armstrong Williams, who was paid by the Education Department to promote President Bush’s education policies, says the public outcry and his firing by the company that syndicated his newspaper column are “the price you pay” for a mistake.

USA TODAY reported on Friday that Williams, a prominent black pundit, was paid $240,000 to promote No Child Left Behind as part of a $1 million department contract with the Ketchum public relations firm. The contract required Williams to comment on Bush’s program on his TV and radio show, to interview Education Secretary Rod Paige and to produce radio spots that aired on his show.

Williams said he deeply regrets his actions. “It’s important that I have a credible voice and that I’m not perceived as being paid for what I say,” he said. “This is my responsibility. I blame no one, I get the message, and I will be better.”

People For the American Way, a liberal interest group, today will launch an online campaign urging Williams to return the money. “It’s the taxpayers’ money given out illegally,” says Ralph Neas, the group’s president.

Williams said in an interview Sunday that he won’t return the money. “That would be ludicrous,” he said, “because they bought advertising, and they got it.”

Several members of Congress are demanding investigations.


Comments (1) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 10:52 am

Friday, January 7th, 2005

Salary Discussions at Work Legally Protected

A University of Michigan employee recently sent me an email pointing me to a 2003 article which reiterates that employees are allowed to discuss their salaries under the National Labor Relations Act.

“If you post the 2005 raises, post this message along with it (attached). I am a U of M employee. It is an article I cut out of the Detroit Free Press about a year ago and I would like to make a bunch of copies and stick it on tack boards around our department, but I know someone in administration will see it and take them all down. It’s called “Don’t be shy: Ask around to see if your pay is fair.” It goes on to say the federal law protects your right to inquire about your salary. I know administration tells everyone that they are NOT ALLOWED to discuss their salary, but this article sets it straight.:

The article, titled “Don’t be shy: Ask around to see if your pay is fair,” encourages employees to investigate how much their coworkers are getting paid, saying “don’t worry if your office has a policy forbidding salary discussions. Charles Craver, a labor expert at George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C., said your right to talk about your pay is protected under the National Labor Relations Act.”

> See 2003 U-M Employee Earnings
> See 2002 U-M Employee Earnings

Many employees have found my resources after the U-M libraries posted a link to my blog in their InfoDex:


The annual list of salaries of UM faculty and staff is available at the Information Center, 2nd fl, Graduate Library, in University Reserves on the 1st fl of the UGL, and at the UGL Reference Desk.

Questions about details not covered by the salary list can be directed to Janet Gilson, Records and Information Services, 763-4502. List can be purchased by anyone for $28 plus $6 shipping if it is mailed.

Michigan Daily sells a separate, different salary supplement that is spun out of the same database. The Daily’s list includes only faculty P&A and includes date of hire. It costs $8 and goes on sale sometime after the salary list comes out.

A local blogger has posted the 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 staff salary lists on the Web, as giant spreadsheets. But please note that neither is the most current salary list. For the 2003-2004 list see:
For the 2002-2003 list see:

Comments (1) • Posted to University of MichiganPolitics by Rob at 3:42 pm

RHYME and REASON: a spoken word event

young people for - a project of people for the american way foundation

Presents …


a spoken word event

At the Young People For National Summit
Saturday, January 15, 2005
8:00 to 10:00 p.m.

Columbian Square at the Marvin Center
The George Washington University
800 21st Street NW
Washington, DC 20052

Join us at the 2005 Young People For Summit for a special event featuring some of the nation’s top slam poets, including noted poets Rich Nichols, Beau Sia, Steve Connell and Sekou (tha misfit) Andrews.

RICK NICHOLS is a community activist and the manager of the world-renowned hip hop group The Roots.

BEAU SIA is a nationally acclaimed poet who was featured in the movie Slam.

STEVE CONNELL is the 2002 Hollywood Grand Slam Poetry Champion, the 2003 L.A. Slam Poetry Champion and won the 2003 National Slam Poetry Contest with Team Los Angeles.

SEKOU ‘THA MISFIT’ ANDREWS, in addition to his critically acclaimed CD releases, is currently the National Poetry Slam Competition champion, winning the 2003 team championship with Team Los Angeles and the 2002 individual championship.

**To RSVP**
Please email poetryslam at by 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 14
Include your name and contact information. Seating is limited.

[[Young People For, a project of People For the American Way Foundation, is a long-term, youth-driven program that identifies and invests in campus activists and leaders and connects them to others in the progressive movement. The program will provide a network for emerging leaders and help them cultivate skills in message development, media and communications, community activism, fundraising, research, and leadership.]]

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsWashington D.C. by Rob at 11:34 am

Wednesday, January 5th, 2005

Let’s Just Say I Have Bipartisan Friends

The Michigan Republican Party has secured a block of rooms at the Westin Grand Hotel on M Street, though we are down to rooms with 1 king or queen bed (roll aways are available) . Reservation forms are available through MRP and must be returned ASAP if you would like to take advantage of the block - you are free to find your own lodging as well. Contact Melissa Knutsen at Melissa (at) or call 517-487-5413 for a reservation form.

The Michigan State Society Ball is a bi-partisan event held every four years. This year’s event is being co-chaired by Sandie Knollenberg and Debbie Dingell. Tickets are $150 per person. The ball will be held January 20 from 7:30-Midnight at the National Museum of American History (at 14th and Constitution, NW). It is important to note that this is not an official ball and the President is not likely to attend.

The Official Ball for Michigan will be the Freedom Ball at Union Station at 7:00 p.m. EST on January 20.

States included with Michigan: Alaska, Alabama, Illinois, Louisiana, Kansas and Diplomatic Corps

The President is likely, but not guaranteed, to stop by this ball. For more information, please contact the Presidential Inaugural Committee Ticketing Hotline.

As always, more information can be found at

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsWashington D.C. by Rob at 12:21 am

Monday, January 3rd, 2005

‘We feel like we have to take desperate measures to … make a difference.’

“As inaugural planners organize a $40 million pageant for President Bush this month, Ashwini Hardikar is preparing for another kind of spectacle.

The University of Michigan junior is one of thousands coming to Bush’s second inauguration to show not their support for the president but their rage.

“A lot of us are going to the inauguration out of desperation,” said Hardikar, 20, who helped form a campus counter-inaugural committee to coordinate student trips to Washington. “We feel like we have to take desperate measures to feel like we’ve made a difference.”

The Jan. 20th inauguration – shaping up to be one of the most heavily secured and expensive in history – will be the scene of small and large demonstrations. Organizers from dozens of local and national groups are planning marches, rallies and acts of civil disobedience on Inauguration Day and the days before and after.

Activists say the demonstrations will be as large – if not larger – than the protests at Bush’s first inauguration in January 2001. They vow to create one of the biggest displays of opposition to the administration’s foreign and domestic policies since the mass demonstrations at the summer’s Republican National Convention in New York. … “

Thus begins a story about the planned protests in Washington D.C. for President Bush’s second inauguration to be held this January 20th:

> WaPo: “Demonstrators Mobilize Under a Slew of Causes”

Comments (0) • Posted to University of MichiganPoliticsWashington D.C. by Rob at 11:17 pm

Tuesday, December 21st, 2004

On Technology and Plagerism

When I tell my father I regularly post writing about my ideas and research (even my honors thesis) directly to the web, he gets concerned. How will I know someone won’t steal it?

I can’t blame him. After all, in an offline world it’s all too easy to steal someone’s idea, particularly if they’re simply a recent college graduate of little stature. However, it hasn’t happened to me yet. In fact, the only result I have seen has been remarkably positive. After posting my thesis online (PDF), I’ve been contacted by a former journalist who I cited in my honors thesis now in her 80s living in Sweden and the planner for the City of Detroit called to ask me if he could use my thesis in that city’s effort to build a park to commemorate a community I wrote about. When I put the syllabus to my course on political activism online, I was contacted by someone who had designed a similar course who sent me some feedback and his syllabus.

Although I don’t have that many ideas or writing worth stealing, I have written some things which have garnered modest online audiences. In those examples, everyone who commented on my idea (that I know of) clearly attributed their source. In fact, in the culture of the web attribution is extremely important. This is due partly because links make it easy (no need to bother with writing out the source author, title, date - just pop in a link) but also because cheating is easy to discover: a quick Google search can easily uncover whether the same words or phrases appears anywhere else on the web, and tools like Technorati can even see who is linking to your webpage.

This is why I think the cultures developing in intellectual communities on the web - which value attribution, transparency, free discussion, and the centrality of ideas and content, not social status – will be good for university communities. In fact, the web can help make universities more relevant and connected to the world. University of Tennessee’s Glenn Reynolds, University of Michigan’s Juan Cole, Stanford Professor Lawrence Lessig, and many other professors already write popular blogs about their area of expertise. As Universities open more of their resources to larger audiences, the quality of scholarship can only improve.

The Chronicle of Higher Education has been running an excellent series on academic plagiarism, which got me thinking about the topic to begin with. While doing an otherwise admirable job, the reporters don’t think much about how plagiarism is found out. Although some of the cases they describe were found through happenstance, at least one was discovered when an undergraduate entered some words from an article into an academic computer database.

I was very excited to hear recently that Google plans on ndexing all of the books in the University of Michigan and Stanford University libraries (to be completed well before 2010, with other libraries on the way). In addition to opening this information to the online world, this news will also profoundly impact plagiarism. Once the work is complete, if plagiarists lift even a sentence from any the millions of books which will be digitized, anyone will be able to discover them through a simple Google search.

In a Shakespeare class I took in high school, we were given the assignment to read and summarize one of the Bard’s history plays. I spent hours dutifully trudging through “Henry the V", and presented my summary to the class. However, one of my classmates’ summaries sounded suspicious: he couldn’t even pronounce some of the words he had allegedly written. A quick web search revealed he had simply copied a summary off of the web. I printed off the website, stapled it to his handout, and put it in our teacher’s mailbox.

The web can also help prevent plagiarism, not just catch it. Although professional organizations seemed hesitant to make claims of plagiarism public, it’s only a matter of time before one of the victims decides to make their allegations and evidence public on the web. (For all I know, this might have already happened) If the allegation is true it could help catch and even prevent the practice in the first place. I have long said that when I become a teacher if I catch a student blatantly plagiarizing, I’ll put his or her full name on the web with a short explanation of the incident with the evidence. I’ll call it my “plagiarism hall of shame.” I would hope any student (or professor) who knows they risk public, lifelong embarrassment would think twice about cheating.

Comments (0) • Posted to BooksPoliticsHistoryBlogosphereTechnology by Rob at 6:51 pm

Monday, December 20th, 2004

A Call for Bloggers

I am looking for collaborators interested in helping create a news and issues blog about progressive student activism in the United States. I am looking for current students (K-PhD) or recent grads with experience in grassroots organizing or working for independent and advocacy media and with a wide variety of ideological, personal, and issue backgrounds and experiences. If you are interested please email me ASAP: rob(at)

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsSite AnnouncementsBlogosphere by Rob at 2:55 pm

Alberto Gonzales on Torture

This is from today’s “Progress Report” newsletter from the Center for American Progress:

HUMAN RIGHTS – THE TORTURE MEETING: Newsweek reports Alberto Gonzales, the White House chief counsel who has been tapped to be the next attorney general, held a meeting in July 2002 to discuss just how far the U.S. could go ( in interrogating suspects. Among the techniques discussed: “Waterboarding,” or making a suspect think he’s drowning; mock burials, which were deemed a little too harsh; and “open-handed slapping,” hailed for its slim chance of bone or tissue damage. Gonzales and the lawyers “discussed in great detail how to legally justify such methods.” Far from urging restraint, Gonzales was aggressive, wondering if in fact they were going far enough. The meetings eventually led to the now-infamous August 1, 2002 memo, which concluded that “only severe pain or permanent damage that was ’specifically intended’ constituted torture. Mere ‘cruel, inhuman or degrading’ treatment did not qualify.”

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 2:32 pm

Friday, December 10th, 2004

People For the American Way EBay Auction Underway

My employer, and all-round great organization People For the American Way is currently hosting their annual celebrity EBay auction. One of the benefits of being founded by Normal Lear is that when it comes time to find donations to auction PFAW can score some seriously impressive items.

Currently open for bidding is a guitar smashed by Trent Reznor at a NIN concert (bidding is currently at $1,750), a Fender guitar signed by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. (The bidding is only at $177!) If Sex In the City is more of your thing, how about a dress worn by Sarah Jessica Parker - which as of tonight had no bidders, and only two days left.

If books are more your thing, you can find signed copies of the Emerging Democratic Majority, Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed, and Craig Unger’s House of Bush, House of Saud among others. Random other stuff includes a Clinton/Glore ‘92 button designed by Roy Lichtenstein, a t-shirt signed by Flogging Molly, and copies of their fundraiser CD “Mary Had a Little Amp,” a signed Margaret Cho poster, and even a signed Distillers promo poster.

Sure, some of the items might be a bit outdated (Red Hot Chili Peppers?), but the money goes to a good cause - go to their auction website and get busy!

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 12:26 am

Wednesday, December 8th, 2004

Howard Dean on the Future of the Democratic Party

This is an excerpt from an address Howard Dean gave in Washington D.C. today:

… There is a Party of fiscal responsibility… economic responsibility…. social responsibility… civic responsibility… personal responsibility… and moral responsibility.

It’s the Democratic Party.

We need to be able to say strongly, firmly, and proudly what we believe.

Because we are what we believe.

And we believe every person in America should have access to affordable health care. It is wrong that we remain the only industrialized nation in the world that does not assure health care for all of its citizens.

We believe the path to a better future goes directly through our public schools. I have nothing against private schools, parochial schools and home schooling. Parents with the means and inclination should choose whatever they believe is best for their children. But those choices must never come at the expense of what has been – and must always be – the great equalizer in our society – public education.

We believe that if you put in a lifetime of work, you have earned a retirement of dignity – not one that is put at risk by your government or unethical business practices.

The first time our nation balanced its budget, it was Andrew Jackson, father of the Democratic Party, who did it. The last time our nation balanced its budget, it was Bill Clinton who did it. I did it every year as Governor. Democrats believe in fiscal responsibility and we’re the only ones who have delivered it.

We believe that every single American has a voice and that it should be heard in the halls of power everyday. And it most certainly must be heard on Election Day. Democracies around the world look to us as a model. How can we be worthy of their aspirations when we have done enough to guarantee accurate elections for our own citizens.

We believe in a strong and secure America… And we believe we will be stronger by having a moral foreign policy. …

Read the rest of the speech here.

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 2:51 pm

Wednesday, December 1st, 2004

CBS, NBC Censors Church Ad With Gay Couple

The United Church of Christ - a loose umbrella group of 6,000 congregations with a combined total of 1.4 million members - has launched an ambitious marketing campaign to present the association’s churches as open, welcoming places. The UCC hopes “60 percent of the U.S. population will see the ads at least three times” In a press release, the UCC says their ads have been accepted and will air on a number of networks including “ABC Family, AMC, BET, Discovery, Fox, Hallmark, History, Nick@Nite, TBS, TNT, Travel and TV Land, among others.”

The group says one ad, which depicts other churches as being closed and intolerant to most people and features a brief shot of a same-sex couple in a scene showing a highly diverse group, has been rejected from being shown on CBS and NBC for being “too controversial.” The group describes the commercial this way:

The debut 30-second commercial features two muscle-bound “bouncers” standing guard outside a symbolic, picturesque church and selecting which persons are permitted to attend Sunday services. Written text interrupts the scene, announcing, “Jesus didn’t turn people away. Neither do we.” A narrator then proclaims the United Church of Christ’s commitment to Jesus’ extravagant welcome: “No matter who you are, or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.”

CBS and NBC’s refusal to air the ad “recalls the censorship of the 1950s and 1960s, when television station WLBT in Jackson, Miss., refused to show people of color on TV,” says Ron Buford, coordinator for the United Church of Christ identity campaign. Buford, of African-American heritage, says, “In the 1960s, the issue was the mixing of the races. Today, the issue appears to be sexual orientation. In both cases, it’s about exclusion.”

The ad in question is viewable on their website, The UCC points out their member churches were the “first mainline denomination to ordain an African-American pastor (1785) … first to ordain a woman (1853) … [and] first to ordain an openly gay man (1972).”

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 1:14 pm

Tuesday, November 30th, 2004

Progressive Victories in Nov. 2

A bit late, but interesting:

” … Progressive activists won huge policy victories with minimum wage increases in Florida and Nevada renewable energy in Colorado (that likely helped U.S. Senate victor Ken Salazar), the clean up of Hanford nuclear reservation in Washington and defeat of mining expansion in Montana, expansion of health care through tobacco taxes in Colorado, Montana and Oklahoma, stem cell research and mental health funding in California, the defeat of tax cuts in Maine and Washington, defeat of charter schools in Washington, patient protections in Florida and much more. …

“Progressive activists in this country need to walk away from this election having learned one thing - even in light of a devastating vote on same sex marriage and support for four more years of the Bush administration, much of the ballot measure results this election cycle show us that voters are clearly willing to support many important progressive policies in the states that are otherwise being blocked by conservative politicians at the federal and local level,” says Wilfore.

> From Ballot Initiative Strategy Center press release: “Ballot Measure Results Contradict Notion of Wide Sweeping Conservative Mandate

Comments (2) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 2:47 pm

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2004

Creationist Beliefs in the Majority

CBS News is reporting that according to a survey they conducted, 55% of Americans believe “God created humans in their present form,” and 37% of all Americans support teaching creationism in schools instead of evolution.

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 1:15 pm

Friday, November 19th, 2004

Rountable on Progressive Politics and Technology

Yesterday I attended the 2004 Roundtable on Progressive Politics and Technology, a mini-conference of a variety of people, organizations, and companies to discuss how Democrats and progressives use technology. Overall it contained lots of interesting tidbits, but little discussion since each panel had too many participants and the questions were saved until the end when most people had left. Some of the people over at EchoDitto blogged the first part of the event.

In my opinion the most interesting parts wasn’t the consultants squabbling over whether (and how) to construct more massive databases, but the introductory presentation by Phil Noble of, who talked about some of the interesting developments occurring in other countries. He discussed the political changes taking place in countries with more advanced cell phone technologies (enabling more political uses of SMS, for example) and broadband. As an aside, as a journalist I am fascinated by South Korea’s Ohmynews, and I’d love to help set up a similar organization in the U.S.

I was also interested to learn that the event was organized to kick off something called The Progressive Project, a “four year commitment to moving the progressive agenda forward by supporting innovative uses of technology.” Their public website launches on January 20, 2004, and it seems the entire initiative is still very much a work in progress.

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsWashington D.C.Blogosphere by Rob at 1:31 pm

Thursday, November 18th, 2004

Torture Is Ineffective

Yesterday, I posted about an article in the Sunday Times of London which revealed evidence which suggests the U.S. government has been flying terrorism suspects to countries like Syria and Saudi Arabia to be tortured. By posting the article I implied I disagreed with the practice, however a commenter suggested torture might be justified. Here’s why I believe torture to be wrong:

I have read it’s commonly known that information obtained through torture is frequently lies, and unusable. In Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, two closely examined cases where U.S. forces have used various torture tactics, there has been no evidence useful information was obtained. What’s the use of torturing someone if they’ll tell lies? All the movies about truth serum and people “cracking” aside, in reality individuals who want to maintain secrets can easily do so, even when tortured.

While I’m not a legal expert, I know at least in the United States that information obtained through torture is inadmissible, mostly because torture is illegal. If what tortured people say are lies, and then the information is inadmissible in a courtroom, I struggle to see how torture can be used to combat political terror.

The New York Times investigation of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba revealed the Bush administration became extremely frustrated because they began to realize that the people they had detained, some of whom were simply innocent Afghanis caught at the wrong place at the wrong time, were all radicalized by the experience. I believe one of the leading causes of political terror is a warped, radicalized worldview. Every person detained indefinitely or tortured by the U.S. government will be radicalized by the experience, and will be more likely to commit terrorist acts if they ever escape or are released. Furthermore, every person detained indefinitely or tortured has dozens of friends, relatives, and significant others who will become radicalized by the experience, and perhaps be more likely to commit acts of political violence. Bush’s “war” on terror causes political radicalization, and only makes the problem worse. A comprehensive approach to eliminating political violence would be to ruthlessly seek out and punish people who are guilty of committing crimes, and then tackling the deeper causes of terror: a warped worldview, social conditions, and enabling conditions. (See more on the causes of terror.)

In Vietnam, every innocent civilian the U.S. military murdered enlarged the number of people willing to fight on the side of the North Vietnamese, and steeled their resolve to never give up fighting the U.S.. The U.S. eventually withdrew, defeated. In Iraq, every innocent person murdered (current estimates - 100,000 civilians killed) means the “resistance” will grow and become more steeled in their resolve. For this reason, Bush’s occupation if Iraq is failing, and will inevitably fail.

If the U.S. continues to secretly or indefinitely detain terror suspects, and torture them to get information, we will only be shooting ourselves in the feet. These actions are not only ineffective ways of directly combating terror, in the long term will only increasing the number of people who might commit crimes of political violence.

Comments (7) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 1:28 pm

The New Urbanist Politics

A friend of mine has sent me an extremely interesting article. Titled ‘The Urban Archipelago,” the article observes that Democratic voters are overwhelmingly concentrated in U.S. cities. The authors argue, provocatively, that cities should basically politically secede from rural areas, focusing on adopting tolerant, progressive, and just policies in the cities they control.

I can’t help but think this article is connected to the New Urbanist movement, and the entire constillaiton of books and writers influenced by Jane Jacobs’ visionary The Death and Life of Great American Cities. I think this sort of argument holds a lot of promise - I agree entirely with the November 3 Theses people, that the Democratic Party critically needs a coherent articulation of values and a clear vision for what they represent to succeed.

I live in Washington D.C., a city that’s extremely racially and economically segregated. There’s lots of rich people and poor people, and all types of religions are represented in the city. The District of Columbia also voted for John Kerry over George W. Bush by a margin of 90% to 9% (Nader got 1%). Yes, you read correct: ninety percent. I found this to be remarkable. Yes, D.C. has large black and gay communities, both of whom vote overwhelming Democratic, yet that statistic is still stunning. This article suggests that progressive politics are intrinsic to cities, and urban residents should seek to improve and enlarge their cities in order to eventually their state and national governments. Not only do the authors seem to be on to something, it’s precisely what a party which has found themselves in the minority on the national stage should do, and where they can not only be the most effective, but where their efforts will most pay off as cities grow in size.

What might this sort of politics - a new, urbanist politics - look like? After being elected in 2000 2002 through the usual (and failing) New Democratic method of adopting highly conservative values, Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm did something interesting. After reading the work of Richard Florida, (who argues the economy is driven by people who move to desirably places to live - “cool cities") she has decided the state’s economic future depends on building successful cities.

As I have been saying for months, this simply choice allows you to view a wide range of issues in new ways. Cool Cities don’t have ugly strip malls and traffic gridlock - that means building public and mass transportation, and planning growth. Cool Cities, if they are to retain vibrant economies, must be tolerant of diverse people. Richard Florida observes the people who are at the vanguard of information technology frequently themselves don’t have mainstream values, or if they do still prefer to live in places that are tolerant of other cultures and lifestyles as a matter of preference. Furthermore, the economy needs creative, educated people: public education.

Thus if you begin with one simple premise - a healthy economy needs healthy cities - you can suddenly begin talking about good city planning, public transit, tolerant social policies (towards racial, ethnic, and other forms of minority groups), and public education. Also, successful cities understand that to develop their neighborhoods and control crime they need to think about the disadvantaged - career training programs, criminal rehabilitation, healthcare for all, good public education, child care, etc. Suddenly, it doesn’t sound like an urbanist politics anymore - simply a progressive one.

If I were to have a criticism of the article, it’s simply that it strikes a too bitter tone against rural, Republican voters. I reject the elitist attitude of most Democrats that Republican voters are a hopeless cause. In fact, I don’t blame some of the people who vote for Bush - it’s easy to think, based on the media and the Democrat’s own statements, that they don’t have a strong vision to present to America significantly different from Bush. There’s lots reasons why people might have voted for Bush, but any vision adopted by liberals and progressives should be about changing minds and adopting an exciting new direction, not about blaming anyone for voting Republican.

Here’s some excerpts from the article:

… In short, we’re through with you people. We’re going to demand that the Democrats focus on building their party in the cities while at the same time advancing a smart urban-growth agenda that builds the cities themselves. The more attractive we make the cities–politically, aesthetically, socially–the more residents and voters cities will attract, gradually increasing the electoral clout of liberals and progressives. For Democrats, party building and city building is the same thing. We will strive to turn red states blue one city at a time. …

Above any other advantage, the new urban identity politics solves “the vision thing” for the Democratic Party. No longer are we a fractured aggregation of special interests or a spineless hydra of contingent alliances–we are a united front, with a clear, compelling image and an articulated system of values. …

So how do we live and what are we for? Look around you, urbanite, at the multiplicity of cultures, ethnicities, and tribes that are smashed together in every urban center (yes, even Seattle): We’re for that. We’re for pluralism of thought, race, and identity. We’re for a freedom of religion that includes the freedom from religion–not as some crazy aberration, but as an equally valid approach to life. We are for the right to choose one’s own sexual and recreational behavior, to control one’s own body and what one puts inside it. We are for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The people who just elected George W. Bush to a second term are frankly against every single idea outlined above. …

Unlike the people who flee from cities in search of a life free from disagreement and dark skin, we are for contentiousness, discourse, and the heightened understanding of life that grows from having to accommodate opposing viewpoints. We’re for opposition. And just to be clear: The non-urban argument, the red state position, isn’t oppositional, it’s negational–they are in active denial of the existence of other places, other people, other ideas. It’s reactionary utopianism, and it is a clear and present danger; urbanists should be upfront and unapologetic about our contempt for their politics and their negational values. Republicans have succeeded in making the word “liberal"–which literally means “free from bigotry… favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded"–into an epithet. Urbanists should proclaim their liberalism from the highest rooftop (we have higher rooftops than they do); it’s the only way we survive. And in our next breath, we should condemn their politics, exposing their conservatism as the anti-Americanism that it is, striving to make “conservative” into an epithet. …

These, of course, are broad strokes. We all know that not everyone who lives in the suburbs is a raving neo-Christian idiot. The raving neo-Christian idiots are winning, however, so we need to take the fight to them. In this case, the fight is largely spiritual; it consists of embracing the reality that urban life and urban values are the only sustainable response to the modern age of holy war, environmental degradation, and global conflict. More important, it consists of rejecting the impulse to apologize for living in a society that prizes values like liberalism, pluralism, education, and facts. It’s time for the Democratic Party to stop pandering to bovine, non-urban America. You don’t apologize for being right–especially when you’re at war.

Read the full article here

Comments (1) • Posted to PoliticsUrban DevelopmentMichigan by Rob at 12:51 pm

Wednesday, November 17th, 2004

British Paper Reports U.S. ‘Torture Flights’

The British newspaper The Sunday Times of London is reporting the U.S. government has used an unmarked plane to transport prisoners to countries with poor human rights records in order to be tortured to obtain intelligence.

The Times reports that according to records they have obtained, prisoners were transported to Egypt, Syria, and Uzbekistan. The article can be accessed online here, and appears in full after the jump.

The newspaper is careful to note the U.S. government denies the claims, but quotes one retired CIA operative who said “If you want a serious interrogation you send a prisoner to Jordan. If you want them to be tortured you send them to Syria. If you want someone to disappear . . . you send them to Egypt.”

The Times discusses a number of incidents were the plane they have tracked, bearing the registration number N313P, has picked up prisoners who have either disapeared or reported being tortured:

Its prisoner transfer missions were first reported in May by the Swedish television programme Cold Facts. It described how American agents had arrived in Stockholm in the Gulfstream in December 2001 to take two suspected terrorists from Sweden to Egypt.

At the time of what was presented as an “extradition” to Egypt, Swedish ministers made no public mention of American involvement in the detention of Ahmed Agiza, 42, and Muhammed Zery, 35, who was later cleared.

Witnesses described seeing the prisoners handed to US agents whose faces were masked by hoods. The clothes of the handcuffed prisoners were cut off and they were dressed in nappies covered by orange overalls before being forcibly given sedatives by suppository.

The Gulfstream flew them to Egypt, where both prisoners claimed they were beaten and tortured with electric shocks to their genitals. Despite liberal Swedish laws on freedom of information, diplomatic telegrams on the case released to the media were edited to conceal the complaints of torture.

Hamida Shalaby, Agiza’s mother, said: “The mattress had electricity . . . When they connected to the electricity, his body would rise up and then fall down and this up and down would go on until they unplugged electricity.”

Click “more” for the entire story.


Comments (3) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 6:15 pm

Monday, November 15th, 2004

Group To Hold Second Screening of Prison Documentary

After an overflow crowd turned out for a November 8 screening of a documentary about the criminal justice system, the U-M chapter of Amnesty International has organized another free screening of the award-winning prison documentary “Juvies".

The group will show the documentary Juvies on Thursday, November 18 at 7 p.m. in the Vandenberg Room of the Michigan League.

I interviewed director Leslie Neale for this website before the first showing. During her visit to Ann Arbor earlier this month, Neale answered questions after the screening of her film and participated in a joint event with the Prison Creative Arts Project, a U-M program where students work with Michigan prisoners to create artwork.

On Nov. 8, the U-M Amnesty International group says “over 50″ people were turned away after the 210-seat screening room filled to capacity. The Michigan Daily covered the event with a lengthy story, which included this excerpt:

… “Every warden I have talked to has said juveniles are the most rehabilitatable group among violent criminals.” [Directory Leslie Neale] then made an analogy between sending adolescents to adult prison and “feeding coal to a furnace.”

She emphasized the financial implications of sending young people to prison as opposed to rehabilitating them and letting them return to society.

“It costs one million dollars to lock a kid up for life,” she said.

LSA student John Smith, said the film was illuminating. “It’s absolutely shocking what they did to those kids – the sentences are egregious,” he said. He blamed the phenomenon on overzealous politicians and a public that has been confused by an alarmist media.

At the film’s end, the pedestrians who said they were in favor of juvenile criminals standing trial as adults were told what [juvenile offender] Ta had done and asked what punishment he should received. The pedestrians, who seemed to agree on a sentence of several years, were in disbelief when informed that he had been given 35 years.

Comments (0) • Posted to Ann ArborPolitics by Rob at 10:02 pm

Thursday, November 11th, 2004

The Washington Post examines the “internet rumors” about the election: “Lastest Conspiracy Theory - Hits the Ether”

Also, some people have launched

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 2:39 pm

Wednesday, November 10th, 2004

President Bush and the Supreme Court

Washington Times columnist and prolific legal writer Bruce Fein wrote an op-ed published yesterday titled “Public Confidence Supreme” where he argue that “President Bush received a mandate on Nov. 2 to appoint Supreme Court Justices in the image of Justice Scalia or Justice Thomas comparable to the 1936 mandate received by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to fill Supreme Court vacancies with justices committed to sustaining the New Deal.”

While that might make for good political propaganda, it’s terrible history. As I point out in a letter to the W. Times today, Roosevelt’s re-election in 1936 was a broad-based victory, however Bush’s narrow margin of victory in November gave him no more mandate than he won in 2000. Here’s my letter:

In his column “Public confidence supreme” (Commentary, Tuesday), Bruce Fein argues that President Bush received a mandate comparable to the 1936 mandate of Franklin D. Roosevelt to “appoint Supreme Court Justices in the image of Justice Scalia or Justice Thomas,” the two justices Mr. Bush has said he admires most.

As a matter of history, I must disagree. In 1936, President Roosevelt received 98.5 percent of votes in the Electoral College and more than 60 percent of the popular vote. By carrying every state except Maine and Vermont, the broad-based election of Mr. Roosevelt certainly gave him a mandate to pursue his policies.

Mr. Bush, on the other hand, won re-election in 2004 by the slimmest of margins — about 53 percent of the Electoral College and a mere 51 percent of the popular vote. A resounding victory for Mr. Bush might have been a mandate to implement his agenda of callous conservatism. However, his narrow victory is a mandate for moderate appointments.

Mr. Fein bemoans Mr. Roosevelt’s justices, whom he argues “sounded the death knell for freedom of contract.” Perhaps he forgets that along with that unfortunate event came the Wagner Act and other critical legislation that helped protect workers from being exploited, overworked or beaten up by company goons for simple organizing.

Although Mr. Fein and others may desire a return to the corporate excesses of the 1920s, I find it hard to believe (or find any evidence) that most Americans desire such a world.


Comments (1) • Posted to PoliticsHistory by Rob at 3:03 pm

Tuesday, November 9th, 2004

Presidential Election Result Called Into Question

This article suggests Bush’s victory was “so statistically stunning that they border on the unbelievable,” pointing out:

While it’s extraordinary for a candidate to get a vote total that exceeds his party’s registration in any voting jurisdiction - because of non-voters - Bush racked up more votes than registered Republicans in 47 out of 67 counties in Florida. In 15 of those counties, his vote total more than doubled the number of registered Republicans and in four counties, Bush more than tripled the number.

Statewide, Bush earned about 20,000 more votes than registered Republicans.

By comparison, in 2000, Bush’s Florida total represented about 85 percent of the total number of registered Republicans, about 2.9 million votes compared with 3.4 million registered Republicans.

Meanwhile, this William Rivers Pitt column documents dozens of incidents where votes were lost, deleted, or otherwise tampered with - and in almost every incident the culprit was an electronic voting machine manufactured by the controversial company Diebold. Also, activists have been circulating a link to this website, which suggests Diebold machines are inaccurate.

The chief executive of Diebold Inc. Walden O’Dell is a Republican activist. In 2003, he told Ohio Republicans in a fund-raising letter he was “committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year.” The statement caused such a furor, he apologized and then moved this summer to prohibit all top employees from participating in the political process beyond voting.

Comments (1) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 6:00 pm

Sunday, November 7th, 2004

That Whole “Mandate” Thing

Here’s a pie chart of the popular vote, via Tom Tomorrow:

Here’s some analysis of the electoral college:
(In these maps, Democratic states are red)

Reagan defeats Mondale in 1984:

Or, the 2004 results - Bush defeats Kerry:

These graphics are from Dave Leip’s Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections.

Also, Boing Boing has this map, which more accurately represents the vote:

(Or, see county-by-county data)

See more of the Atlas of U.S. Presidential Election website maps after the jump.

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 10:32 pm

Saturday, November 6th, 2004

Ten Meanings of the Re-Election of President George W. Bush

Or, opinions I have heard.

1.Bush won. We live in a nation where conservatives outnumber liberals, and conservatism and neo-liberalism has won. Liberals and progressives must realize they are in the minority.

2.Kerry won. If all the ballots were counted equally, Kerry would have won the election. Furthermore, the untraceable electronic voting make it possible cheating might have occurred. Investigative reporter Greg Palast argues that since the 1-3% of “spoiled” votes come from overwhelming democratic precincts, Kerry would have won if “all the votes have been counted.” He’s got a point: with new technology it seems it could be possible to reduce levels of error. In districts using Scantron machines, a voter’s ballot is checked before they leave the polling error, theoretically reducing the “spoiled” ballot rate to 0%. However, this isn’t anything new, and presumably has long plagued the American electoral system. Also built into our system is a disadvantage for the poor who cannot make it to a polling place in time because they have to work (or commute).

3.The ideology of the “new democrats” has failed. Democrats, by turning to a watered-down version of conservatism has failed to present a viable and distinguishable alternative to the Republican agenda of war, pollution, privatization of public services, and the downsizing of the state.

4.The idea that “if people vote, democrats win” has been disproved. Democrats don’t inevitably win, and voter turnout is not enough to ensure a Democratic victory.

5.The voting public is ill-informed. The media / right-wing noise machine has brainwashed them. Most bush supporters think Saddam had a close relation to Al Qaeda, and that weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. If only we can get though to these people with the truth!

6. Lots of “morality voters” turned out. They’re “morality-voters” who vote on gay marriage, abortion, and not economic self-interest. If only we can get people to see these things are just distractions! See Thomas Frank: “What’s the matter with Kansas?”

7. Militarism works. With military spending doubled since the Clinton years and currently at the highest levels of any country in history, our civic culture is becoming perverted. Those in the military and connected to it through friends, family, or business support a foreign policy based in war, and will reward those who have rewarded them with military contracts, and violent, simplistic foreign policy.

8. Corporate interests won, Nader lost. This view holds that since Bush and Kerry hold identical positions on most issues, the outcome is meaningless. Both support expanding the size of the military. Both support neoliberal economic globalization which punishes poor nations and fails to create economic development while providing the wealthy with huge profits. Both support “wars” on terror and drugs. Both support massive U.S. prison population. It doesn’t matter that Bush won since the outcome is basically similar to what would happen if Kerry had won.

9.The election is a huge loss for civil and human rights. Bush’s victory will enable him to pass legislation and appoint a number of federal judges and potentially one or more Supreme Court justices. This will attack individual’s rights, potentially overturning Roe Vs. Wade, and curtail free speech and dissent. Bush and Kerry presented different views of the world, and Bush’s narrow victory means he will be able to implement his fundamentalist Christian worldview on not only the country but the world, setting back progressive goals for decades.

10. The election doesn’t mean any of these things. Political culture is at a low ebb. Only a small minority of the U.S. population have a firm grasp on the political process and have firm political opinions – most voters decisions are fairly arbitrary. Thus meanings assigned to them by U.S. political types will be largely meaningless. They’re aren’t any “morality voters,” or “security moms.” Voting for most people is a craps shoot - they don’t view politics as having any demonstrable impact on their lives.

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 8:08 pm

Friday, November 5th, 2004

Cynthia McKinney Back in Congress

One of the most progressive, outspoken, and criticized members of the House has been re-elected after a two year hiatus.

After being ousted from office 2002 amid broad criticism in the mainstream media, Cynthia McKinney is back, winning 64% of the vote in Georgia’s 4th Congressional District on Tuesday. McKinney had served in the House since 1992. (See her campaign website) Investigative reporter Greg Palast found the charges levied against her in 2002 spurious, arguing she never said one quote widely attributed to her. He chalks up attacks against her to her willingness to challenge corporate power and take principled, unpopular positions. McKinney opposed both the Gulf War, and also Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq.

McKinney has had what the Atlanta Jewish Times termed in 1999 a “complex” relationship with the Atlanta Jewish community for her support of the Palestinian cause, and opposing massive aid to Israel because she was concerned it would make peace negotiation more difficult.

Here’s the Nation magazine on McKinney’s comeback:

McKinney’s antipathy toward the Bush administration made her a target in 2002, after she charged the president had failed to respond to warnings of terrorist threats and that allies of the president and vice president would benefit financially from a war in Iraq. Campaigning less than a year after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, with much of the Democratic political establishment arrayed against her, with Jewish groups criticizing her for supporting Palestinian rights, and with Republicans taking advantage of open primary laws to cross over and vote against the president’s noisiest Congressional critic, McKinney lost the primary that year. After her defeat, she was written off by most political observers as a “conspiracy theorist” who was too radical and too outspoken on hot-button issues to ever make a comeback.

But a funny thing happened between 2002 and 2004.

Many of the concerns that McKinney had been attacked for addressing two years ago fit comfortably in the mainstream of the political discourse this year. Indeed, after former anti-terrorism czar Richard Clarke testified before the national 9-11 Commission about how the president and his aides had neglected warnings that Osama bin Laden and his followers intended to attack the United States, and after all the revelations regarding no-bid contracts and war profiteering by Dick Cheney’s former employees at Halliburton, McKinney was able to campaign as truth teller who had been punished – and then vindicated.

In an election that did not see substantial Republican cross-over voting – a contested GOP Senate primary kept partisans in line – McKinney ran well not only in African-American neighborhoods where she has traditionally been strong but in white precincts where many Democrats have come to see her as someone with the courage to take on the Bush administration. “She has the guts to speak truth to the government, and she’s trying to help poor people and youth,” Jesse McNulty, a teacher from Decatur, Georgia, explained when asked why he had voted for McKinney. “If Bush was to win. God forbid, at least we have McKinney up there (in Washington).

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 11:06 am

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2004

Voting: Got A Spare Eight Hours?

In central Ohio, voters primarily from Kenyon College in Knox County waited for more than eight hours at a polling place that had not prepared for an onslaught of newly registered voters.

“We didn’t have enough machines, and we didn’t strategize well enough,” said Thomas F. McHugh, chairman of the Knox County Board of Elections. “We got caught up in a real bind.”

Nick Papa, 18, a freshman at Kenyon, said he got in line at 4:30 and was told it might be six or seven hours, but he was still in line at 1:30 a.m. At one point, election officials offered paper ballots, but the students rebelled, saying they wanted to use the electronic machines “to make sure our votes count,” Papa said.

> W. Post: “20 Crucial Electoral Votes May Be Stuck in Limbo”

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 11:02 am

Ann Arbor Voters Legalize Medical Marijuana

With 31 out of 48 Ann Arbor City precincts reporting, Ann Arbor’s Proposal C is passing with 74.72% of the vote. Thus far there are 25,223 for and 8,535 votes against. Ann Arbor was one of a number of municipalities considering proposals to liberalize marijuana laws.

Also in Ann Arbor, mayor John Hieftje is winning his bid for re-election with over 68% of the vote. Larry Kestenbaum’s race for County Clerk and Register of Deeds is extremely close, with 27,513 votes recorded for him, and 25,569 for his opponent, incumbent Peggy Haines.

More Ann Arbor Election Results

Comments (0) • Posted to Ann ArborPolitics by Rob at 2:12 am

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2004

Election News

>> Detroit News Poll says Kerry narrowly leads in MI, both anti-gay amendment and gambling restriction proposals will pass

>> The Beyond Voting Coalition is planning protests in 30 U.S. cities no matter the election results to “demonstrate visions for a truly democratic society”

>> Zogby Poll predicts comfortable Kerry victory

>> Michael Moore: “Early word has it that it is very tight in Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, and Iowa! Michigan – don’t let me down! If you haven’t voted, stop reading this and get down to the polls.”

> Michigan:
Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County, Statewide
> D.C.: (
> Nationwide: Yahoo Election, CNN, NY Times, BBC News “Vote USA 2004″,
> “Election Quick Links” from Poynter Online - lots of great election info

Blogs, etc
> Election Night Blogs
> - Progressive blogging community that will have the latest updates, rumor, and scandal
> Technorati Politics - what political bloggers are linking to
> - The one and only
> Wonkette - Gossip, rumor, etc.

Voting Fraud, Error
> Election Protection Coalition
> - who promises to update his website with reports of voting irregularities and fraud
> Greg Palast - Investivative reporter who investigated Florida/2000

Official Sites
> John Kerry’s Campaign
> George W. Bush Campaign

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 9:51 pm

Hoisting A Flag

Stencil featuring a pirate flag photographed in Washington D.C. (See another view of this design.)

Comments (1) • Posted to PoliticsWashington D.C.Stencil Art by Rob at 5:27 pm

When Do the Polls Close?

All times in Eastern Standard Time. Important swing states are in bold:

6 p.m.: Indiana, Kentucky
7 p.m.: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia
7:30 p.m.: North Carolina, Ohio, West Virginia
8 p.m.: Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee Texas
8:30 p.m.: Arkansas
9 p.m.: Arizona, Colorado,Louisiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, Wyoming
10 p.m.: Iowa, Montana, Nevada, Utah
11 p.m.: California, Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon, Washington
Midnight: Alaska

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 10:56 am

‘Be The Media’: Instructions for Michigan and Ohio Citizens

This is a message from the Michigan Independent Media Center:




Help Support Alternative Media on November 2 and Beyond

— website:
— breaking news: 1 877 825 9535
— for more info:

One of the reasons Bush was able to steal the election in 2000 is because everyone was waiting for the television to tell them the answer. This time we’re watching the elections without the corporate filter.

The Michigan Independent Media Center (IMC) is teaming up with WCBN-FM Ann Arbor to mobilize coverage of the November 2 elections and we need your help.

The MichiganIMC will be a grassroots, non-corporate voice documenting possible voter disfranchisement, fraud and intimidation that may occur on November 2 (N2), as well as popular responses to injustices at the polls and other election-related protest activity. MichiganIMC is aiming to facilitate coverage of news from Ohio and Michigan, as well as national news.

This message contains important information that you need in order to support efforts to build an alternative media voice during the presidential elections. Read below for the following information:

-MichiganIMC Breaking News Hotline
-webcast radio
-text message alerts
-web publishing
-financial support
-Call for audio submissions for webcast radio

Comments (0) • Posted to Ann ArborPoliticsBlogosphere by Rob at 10:54 am

Monday, November 1st, 2004

Michigan Election News

- Governor Granholm Opposes Proposal 2 A recent Freep editorial summarizes her views on the proposal. For more information, see the website of the proposal’s opponents:

- Ann Arbor Proposal C would legalize medical marijuana in Ann Arbor for more information see the website of U.M. NORML

- Student Voices In Action Endorses Regents Maynard and Taylor The activist student organization that sucessfully resisted critical cuts to student services last year has endorsed Regents Maynard and Taylor for re-election:


re-elect Olivia Maynard and S. Martin Taylor as our Regents

this Tuesday on your ballot, you will see the names of two U-M regents who are up for reelection. Student Voices in Action supports both Olivia Maynard and S. Martin Taylor as concerned University administrators who have been receptive to student concerns over this past year. The Regents can really have power- both good and bad- so it’s important that we make sure good ones stay in office!

Regent Maynard wrote the following in an email to the organization last week:

“I am by training a social worker. I support advocacy and SVA did a good job as advocates. In terms of sexual assault and violence issues its important that any unresolved issues keep being discussed until they are resolved. This regent is always open to student concerns and always wants to hear from you. It is also important to recognize that the regents’ role is policy making and not day to day involvement in administrative matters. However, knowing what are students issues (and other interested groups) helps us to be better policy makers.

- Flint Native Michael Moore has issued a message to his fans: One Day Left”

Comments (0) • Posted to Ann ArborPoliticsMichigan by Rob at 2:36 pm


John Kerry

In Michigan: view your polling place and ballot
Other States: Vist

Call the Election Protection hotline at 1-866-OURVOTE (1-866-687-8683)


The Bush administration has attacked environmental regulations, underfunded public education, cut taxes for corporations and the rich, and conducted a disasterous, unprovoked, and unsuccessful war in Iraq. I fundamentally disagree with not only the policies adopted by Mr. Bush but also his general approach to government - which is similar to that of a religious fundamentalist. Although I certainly don’t agree with Mr. Kerry on many issues, I believe his election is a critically important step to move our country in the right direction.

> View my Ann Arbor Voting Guide

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 12:25 pm

Sunday, October 31st, 2004

Michigan Daily Won’t Cover County Elections

The Michigan Daily isn’t planning on assigning any reporters to cover county races for this November’s election. This via Larry Kestenbaum’s blog:

… Citing a lack of staff and column space, the Michigan Daily student newspaper will not cover any of the Washtenaw County races in Tuesday’s election.

Two editors I spoke with this afternoon acknowledged that U-M students play a big role in county politics, but politely declined to do anything to inform them.

Although I’m not sure what the newspaper has done in the past, I suspect they covered contested county races at least nominally - assigning a reporter to make some calls and include it in a story for Wednesday. Kestenbaum, who is running for county clerk, is known by many in Ann Arbor, is a University employee, prolific blogger, and administrator of a popular website. Among county races, his campaign at least deserves to be covered by the Daily.

Also, as noted by many Ann Arbor area bloggers (Including AAIO and Kestenbaum’s Polygon) the Ann Arbor News has endorsed President Bush, arguing “Bush offers the best chance to win in Iraq and to slow terrorism.”

Comments (0) • Posted to Ann ArborPolitics by Rob at 9:50 pm

Wednesday, October 27th, 2004

Award-Winning Documentary Coming to Ann Arbor

Film Examines Juvenile Criminal Justice System
“It is a ripe time for change”

Photo Copyright Ara Oshagan
(Documentary film maker Leslie Neale interviews a resident of LA’s Central Juvenile Hall / Photo Copyright Ara Oshagan)

Award-winning director Leslie Neale spent two years teaching a video production class to 12 young adults in Los Angeles Central Juvenile Hall who were all serving sentences after being convicted in the adult criminal justice system. The film they produced, Juvies, documents a system of justice where juvenile offenders “are serving incredible prison sentences for crimes they either did not commit or were only marginally involved in.”

Leslie Neale has said, “The making of “Juvies” has made my life make an irrevocable turn towards correcting the juvenile justice system, making it one that is run with intelligence, responsibility and mercy.” Last January, producer and narrator Mark Wahlberg (yes, that Mark Wahlberg) was interviewed on ABC’s Good Morning America about the film. Wahlberg has himself served time in a juvenile detention facility.

The documentary has been nominated for and won a number of awards. The University of Michigan chapter of Amnesty International is sponsoring a free screening of the documentary at 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 8th in the Screening Room of the Michigan Theater. The screening will be followed by a question and answer period with director Leslie Neale.

Can’t wait until the 8th? Below is is the first-ever Goodspeed Update interview, with Juvies director Leslie Neale.

GU: What is the message you most hope to convey through your documentary? What do you hope viewers take from the film?

Comments (2) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 10:55 am

Monday, October 25th, 2004

Wellstone Documentary Released

Paul WellstoneA small Minnesota video production company has finished work on a documentary on the life of the late Senator Paul Wellstone and his wife Sheila Wellstone, titled WELLSTONE!. Wellstone and his wife and daughter died in a plane crash while running for re-election in 2002.

The film’s creators have posted on their website a moving 15-minute sample video and are actively seeking a distributor.

Their website lists scheduled screenings in a variety of locations in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Comments (1) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 3:58 pm

Blogs and Politics

Last summer, I was one of a number of bloggers who vigorously opposed a proposed ban on couches on porches of homes in Ann Arbor:

> “City May Consider Ban on Porch Couches”
> Defending Porch Couches
> No Reason to Ban Porch Couches

In the end, I concluded:

In the end, this issue isn’t just about couches, its about a certain class of mostly wealthy property owners being overrepresented in city politics. This is the reason why Ann Arbor has rolled back its liberal pot laws by piling on court fees, has exorbitant fines for snow removal towing (they all have garages, after all!) and refused to accept an extremely limited ordinance which might allow a few graduate students and old people to live in “granny flats.” People who are willing to stand up for the interest of the city’s renters, students, the poor (that remain), and many other virtually unrepresented communities must involve themselves in city politics.

The Old Fourth Ward Association is a neighborhood association notorious in the city for doing everything they can to boost their property values by calling police for even small student parties, and agitating for restrictive, puritanical laws. Many people in the city opposed a proposal a couple years back which would have eased the housing crisis by allowing home owners to rent out parts of their homes as apartments. This is from a recent email to members, via Ann Arbor is Overrated:

[O]n the couch ordinance that was tabled in September, some council reps indicated that they had received more emails against than for the ordinance. To me, the suggestion that email campaigns can affect council decisions is troubling. Can a group of temporary residents with easy access to sophisticated technology now exert more influence on local decisions that the individual opinions of longer term Ann Arbor residents with less access to technology?…Certainly, email campaigns and blogs have certainly influenced national politics in this way. The question is whether local politics should be influenced in a similar way.

Our friend AAIO has her own take: “Whew, at least they haven’t found out about our orbital mind-control lasers yet.”

Comments (1) • Posted to Ann ArborPoliticsBlogosphere by Rob at 1:19 am

The ‘Reality-Based Community’

I found this quote, from last week’s New York Times Magazine, rather chilling to say the least:

… In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn’t like about Bush’s former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House’s displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn’t fully comprehend - but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The [Bush] aide said that guys like me were ‘’in what we call the reality-based community,'’ which he defined as people who ‘’believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'’ I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ‘’That’s not the way the world really works anymore,'’ he continued. ‘’We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'’ … “

The Bush administration official’s belief they can define reality reminded me of a passage from George Orwell’s 1984. Here the book’s protagonist, a political dissident named Winston, is being tortured by a member of the ruling political party:

O’Brien smiled faintly. ‘You are no metaphysician, Winston,’ he said. ‘Until this moment you had never considered what is meant by existence. I will put it more precisely. Does the past exist concretely, in space? Is there somewhere or other a place, a world of solid objects, where the past is still happening?’


‘Then where does the past exist, if at all?’

‘In records. It is written down.’

‘In records. And –?’

‘In the mind. In human memories.’

‘In memory. Very well, then. We, the Party, control all records, and we control all memories. Then we control the past, do we not?’

‘But how can you stop people remembering things?’ cried Winston again momentarily forgetting the dial. ‘It is involuntary. It is outside oneself. How can you control memory? You have not controlled mine!’

O’Brien’s manner grew stern again. He laid his hand on the dial.

‘On the contrary,’ he said, ‘you have not controlled it. That is what has brought you here. You are here because you have failed in humility, in self-discipline. You would not make the act of submission which is the price of sanity. You preferred to be a lunatic, a minority of one. Only the disciplined mind can see reality, Winston. You believe that reality is something objective, external, existing in its own right. You also believe that the nature of reality is self-evident. When you delude yourself into thinking that you see something, you assume that everyone else sees the same thing as you. But I tell you, Winston, that reality is not external. Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else. Not in the individual mind, which can make mistakes, and in any case soon perishes: only in the mind of the Party, which is collective and immortal. Whatever the Party holds to be the truth, is truth. It is impossible to see reality except by looking through the eyes of the Party. That is the fact that you have got to relearn, Winston. It needs an act of self-destruction, an effort of the will. You must humble yourself before you can become sane.’


Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 12:02 am

Thursday, October 21st, 2004

Voting Guides

The League of Pissed off Voters has posted local voting guides at

Also, to decide between Bush or Kerry, there’s, or this slightly more objective PBS site.

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 8:01 pm

Wednesday, October 20th, 2004

Gloria Steinem Plans Election Swing State Tour

Gloria SteinemGloria Steinem, perhaps America’s most foremost living feminist, has announced she’ll take a 9-day 1,500-mile road trip through three key swing states to convince women, undecided, and young voters to vote for John Kerry.

Steinem’s tour will include stops in Mentor, OH; Toledo, OH; Cincinnati, OH; Delaware, OH; Pittsburgh, PA; State College, PA; Phoenixville, PA; Philadelphia, PA; Doylestown, PA; Madison, WI; Janesville, WI; and Milwaukee, WI.

Her trip will include an Oct. 25 appearance with Michael Moore in Toledo, Ohio, a stop at a screening of the free “Films to See Before You Vote” film festival in Cincinnati, appearances with band Le Tigre in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Her complete schedule is available on the website of progressive organization People for the American Way Voters Alliance, that organization’s Political Action Committee.

Steinem and her tour were profiled in a recent column in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer titled “The activist at 70: Gloria Steinem hits the road.” Here she explains the rational of the trip:

Young women are angry at the absence of sex education in our schools, they’re angry at suppression of morning-after pills. They’re angry at the expansion of social diseases – including AIDS – due to withholding of information and emphasis on ‘abstinence education.’

… It’s clear to me that Kerry votes right. He’s pro-choice, pro-health, pro-environment. The second question is more complicated: Does he talk right?

Steinem won’t be the only activist on the road as the election nears: the Driving Votes website lists dozens of trips to swing areas.

A complete press release and schedule is after the jump. Download the press release in PDF

(The photo is from Smith College’s Agents of Social Change online exhibit)


Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 9:13 pm

Thursday, October 14th, 2004

Republican-hired Company Trashes Democratic Registration Forms

A consulting firm run by a former head of the Republican Party in Arizona has been accused of pretending to be a liberal voter registration group America Votes and throwing away registration forms for Democrats.

A Las Vegas television station broke the story when an embittered former employee came forward alleging the company tore up Democrats’ forms. The employee presented the station with some of the forms, and the station interviewed people who had thought they had registered:

“We caught her taking Democrats out of my pile, she handed them to her assistant, and he ripped them up right in front of us,” former Voters Outreach of America employee Eric Russell told Las Vegas CBS affiliate KLAS-TV. “I grabbed some of them out of the garbage and she tells her assistant to get those from me.”

Nathan Sproul, the former Arizona Republican Party head, operated the voter registration effort though his consulting firm Sproul & Associates, which had been hired directly to register voters by the Republican National Committee. The RNC has released a statement denying knowledge of his activities, stating they opposed voter fraud.

According to MTV news, his firm had as many as 300 employees in Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Florida and Nevada. Also yesterday, an Oregon television station was investigating the allegation that an employee of Sproul & Associates there who said he was instructed only to accept Republican registration forms.

Earlier in the fall rumors circulated at Michigan that two people were registering voters on the University of Michigan Diag, asking for their party affiliation and throwing away the forms of Democrats. The official registration form in Michigan doesn’t include a party affiliation.

The Republican Party counter-spin to this story will no doubt be to point out that state elections officials have found fraudulent or duplicate registration forms submitted by at least one liberal voter registration group (ACORN). While some errors occurred, liberal groups have registered millions of new voters across the country with remarkable skill and accuracy. None of the errors seemed connected to actual voting - it was simply over-zealous collectors seeking to maximize payments for each completed form.

The fraud described above by Sproul & Associates is categorically different:
1. It was directly funded by the Republican Party
2. It was a systematic, coordinated, and multi-state effort
3. It attempted to deceive Democratic voters and interfere with their ability to vote by making them think they had registered when they had not

The Republican and Democratic Parties can and should try to register to people to vote, even focusing on areas and events where they expect to find the most sympathetic to their parties’ goals. However, throwing away completed registration forms is wrong, and only Republican-funded groups have been accused of doing that this fall.

> Newsday: “Oregon Opens Probe of Voter Fraud Charges”
> MTV News: “Voter-Registration Group Accused Of Trashing Democrats’ Forms”
> Reuters: “Democrats, Republicans Charge Vote Improprieties”

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 12:50 am

Wednesday, October 13th, 2004

Ann Arbor Voting Guide

UPDATE: To see other voting guides from Ann Arbor area bloggers, see this list posted by George on ArborBlogs

To see if you are successfully registered to vote in Michigan, to find out where to vote on November 2, or to view your ballot, go to

If Publius doesn’t have your name and you believe you have registered OR to request an absentee ballot, contact the Ann Arbor City Clerk’s Office.

My Voting Guide (This guide includes information for contested races only.)

John F. Kerry & John Edwards - Democrat

John D. Dingell - Democrat

Chris Kolb - Democrat

Marianne Yared McGuire - Democrat
Herbert S. Moyer - Democrat

I suggest voting for Democrats Olivia P. Maynard and S. Martin Taylor. Although Green Party candidate Nathaniel Dameren is appealing, if elected the Republican candidates would try to end affirmative action and likely have a negative impact on a host of issues I care about: the University’s labor relations, environmental and multicultural policies, etc.

I recommend voting for Democrats Joel I. Ferguson and Phil Thompson.

Tina Abbott - Democrat
Annetta Miller - Democrat

Brian L. Mackie - Democrat

Daniel Minzey - Democrat

University employee, blogger, and administrator of The Political Graveyard Lawrence Kestenbaum will be an excellent county clerk.

John Hieftje - Democrat

Depends on your ward. I’ll post something on this soon.

This case is extremely important: the Michigan Supreme Court is controlled by right-wing Republicans. One of the two Democrats, Marilyn Kelly, is running for re-election, and the other Democrat in the race is Deborah Thomas. There is no party affiliation for this race on the ballot - but it’s easy to remember who to vote for - they’re the only women in the race!

I don’t know enough about these candidates to give an endorsement, however the candidates running are:
Stephen J. Gill
Pamela J. Horiszny
Alfred E. Johnson
Roger W. Lane
Kenneth Lindow

This proposal would make it harder for new casinos and other gambling to happen in the state: it would require a statewide vote and also the local jurisdiction vote to approve gambling. I support this proposal - vote YES on 1.

This proposal would amend the state constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman. It’s part of a nationwide campaign to prevent gays and lesbians from achieving equal rights. Vote NO on 2.
UPDATE: See the website of a group opposing this proposal at

This proposal is to renew a property tax used to fund parks and recreation. Yay parks and recreation! Vote YES on proposal A.

This proposal would restore a property tax to fund Washtenaw Community College. Since I believe public education is the cornerstone to a healthy and economically vibrant democracy, I suggest voting YES on Proposal B.

This proposal would allow for the use of marijuana as a medical treatment in the city of Ann Arbor. Vote YES.

More information on voting law in Michigan

Comments (5) • Posted to Ann ArborPolitics by Rob at 11:12 am

Tuesday, October 12th, 2004

FBI Spied on 1960’s Student Activist

Mario SavioThe Associated Press recently reported that federal records reveal the Federal Bureau of Investigation secretly tailed University of California - Berkeley activist Mario Savio for over a decade, violating federal laws and his constitutional rights.

After examining thousands of pages of previously secret Agency documents, the San Francisco Chronicle concluded the FBI:

– Collected, without court order, personal information about Savio from schools, telephone companies, utility firms and banks and compiled information about his marriage and divorce.

– Monitored his day-to-day activities by using informants planted in political groups, covertly contacting his neighbors, landlords and employers, and having agents pose as professors, journalists and activists to interview him and his wife.

– Obtained his tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service in violation of federal rules, mischaracterized him as a threat to the president and arranged for the CIA and foreign intelligence agencies to investigate him when he and his family traveled in Europe.

– Put him on an unauthorized list of people to be detained without judicial warrant in event of a national emergency, and designated him as a “Key Activist” whose political activities should be “disrupted” and “neutralized” under the bureau’s extralegal counterintelligence program known as COINTELPRO.

In a lengthy description of what they term “Mario Savio’s FBI Odyssey” the San Francisco Chronicle details how the Federal Bureau of Investigation illegally tracked Savio and interfered with his personal life for years after his time at Berkeley. The article concludes:

That day, Congress proposed that the Church Committee investigate FBI abuses of power. The committee revealed large-scale and illegal FBI activities – such as leaking tapes about Martin Luther King Jr.’s sex life to the media – and in 1976 called for a law limiting the FBI’s powers. Congress backed down when President Ford’s administration adopted guidelines for FBI activities and agreed changes would be subject to congressional review. In 2002, Ashcroft became the first attorney general to loosen the guidelines without consulting Congress, expanding bureau secrecy and power to gather information about lawful personal and political activities.

See this website on the USA PATRIOT Act.

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsHistory by Rob at 10:51 pm

Friday, October 8th, 2004

Seymour Hersh To Speak in Ann Arbor

Award winning author and investigative reporter Seymour M. Hersh will speak in Ann Arbor at 4 p.m. on Oct. 26 in the League’s Mendelssohn Theatre. (See the event on

Seymour HerschIn 1969 Hersh won a Pulitzer Prize for uncovering the My Lai massacre in Vietnam where the U.S. military murdered a large group of innocent civilians. He has also written award-winning books about the Nixon and Kennedy administrations, Israel and U.S. foreign policy, and the Army’s investigation of My Lai.

Recently, he has written a series of groundbreaking investigative pieces on torture at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, where he has concluded the torture is part of a secret program personally authorized by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. He has also alleged in speaking engagements much more damning video and photographic evidence of abuse is being withheld by the U.S. government.

His visit is part of the New Yorker College Tour. He will speak Tuesday, October 26 at 4 p.m. in the Lydia Mendelssohn Theater in the Michigan League in a discussion event with New Yorker editor David Remnick.

A full listing of other events during the New Yorker College Tour visit to Ann Arbor follow after the jump.

Comments (0) • Posted to Ann ArborPolitics by Rob at 2:54 pm

Wednesday, October 6th, 2004

First Americans Day is Coming Up!

A soberly written petition on that I recently discovered demands the government re-name Columbus Day “First Americans Day.” The petition politely points out that Columbus did not “discover” America except in the eyes of some Europeans, and points out that much information about his behavior towards his crew and Native Americans that has come to light would “seriously tarnish his image, to say the least.” Although I think rape, murder, theft and ultimately genocide goes a bit further than a simple “tarnish,” the petition writer insists the petition “is not meant to be an attack on Christopher Columbus, but rather an appeal for a holiday that is not insulting to any American.” Here’s the idea:

American national holidays should be days that bring a sense pride and togetherness for ALL Americans, and stem from an “American perspective.” “Columbus Day” fails that test on all counts. “First Americans Day” would be a holiday that would be meaningful to each and every American. It would be a holiday that would be from an “American perspective” rather from an “Euro-centric” one. And, finally it would be a holiday that would instill pride in us as a collective group of people, while still recognizing and honoring our differences. The concept is one that is a “win-win” for all Americans regardless of their heritage.

Colonial MurderLogically, the petition concludes that “primary honor and recognition from this holiday would go to American Indians, who deserve a national holiday in their honor and don’t have one” and it would allow people of all cultures and backgrounds to celebrate “their own ‘First Americans.’”

Where did the idea come from? It’s hard to tell. Activists and historians, including many Native Americans, have long pointed out the horrible crimes committed by Columbus against the people he encountered, as many are meticulously documented in his own diary. (The American Indian movement refers to Columbus as a “colonial pirate.") However, the alternate name for the day bearing his name seems to have a much shorter history: the exact phrase “First Americans Day” only appears a scant 224 times in Google’s massive index.

What few mentions there are make for interesting reading. A law introduced in the Iowa legislature last summer proposed the new name. It also appeared in the project of four high school students from “Mr. Anderson’s AP Language and Composition class” at Bellingham High School in Bellingham, Washington who don’t think Columbus Day should be a national holiday “for many reasons.” (They’re also the source of the graphic) Only time will tell whether the name will gain widespread use and acceptance.

In related reading, the Open Directory project even has a short directory of “opposing views” under the broader Columbus Day heading.

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsHistory by Rob at 10:09 pm

Cheney Voted Against Creating MLK Day, Head Start, Meals on Wheels for the Elderly, and The Department of Education

Cheney, Edwards

Oh, he also lies. From last night’s VP debate: “Now, in my capacity as vice president, I am the president of Senate, the presiding officer. I’m up in the Senate most Tuesdays when they’re in session. The first time I ever met you was when you walked on the stage tonight.” The photo above is from the 2001 Annual Prayer Breakfest.

Photo From DailyKos, also they met at least one another time as well. Perhaps it depends on how you define “meet.”

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsPhotos by Rob at 11:57 am

Tuesday, October 5th, 2004

More Republican National Convention Photos

2004 Republican National Convention Protest

2004 Republican National Convention Protest

Both taken at protests of the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City.

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsPhotosNew York City by Rob at 11:46 pm

A Shorter Veep Debate


The vice president, I’m surprised to hear him talk about records. When he was one of 435 members of the United States House, he was one of 10 to vote against Head Start, one of four to vote against banning plastic weapons that can pass through metal detectors.

He voted against the Department of Education. He voted against funding for Meals on Wheels for seniors. He voted against a holiday for Martin Luther King. He voted against a resolution calling for the release of Nelson Mandela in South Africa.

It’s amazing to hear him criticize either my record or John Kerry’s.

IFILL: Thirty seconds.

CHENEY: Oh, I think his record speaks for itself. And frankly, it’s not very distinguished.

IFILL: In that case, we’ll move on to domestic matters. …


Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 11:32 pm

House Defeats Draft Legislation

In an effort to quell online buzz about a possible draft, House Republicans have forced a vote to defeat a pending bill which would have required young people spend two years in national service:

… The House voted 402-2 to defeat the draft bill offered last year by Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y ….

Speaking to Iowa voters Monday, Bush said, “We will not have a draft so long as I am president of the United States.”

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry has suggested the draft could be reinstated if voters re-elect Bush.

Kerry said his plan for Iraq, which calls for a summit and for allies to share a greater part of the burden, would not need a military draft.

Campaigning in Iowa on Tuesday, Kerry told reporters, “I’ve never said they’re going to have a draft. I’ve said I don’t know what they’re going to do. I know what I’m going to do. I’m going to pursue a policy that guarantees we don’t have to have a draft.”

At a time that the Army is already struggling to meet recruitment targets, Kerry has proposed boosting the U.S. military by tens of thousands of troops, though he argues any increases in Iraq would come from foreign allies.

Rock the Vote said it is raising the draft issue because the presidential candidates haven’t addressed it.

“This is not an Internet rumor,” said Rock the Vote spokesman Jay Strell. “Young people in America deserve an honest and open debate about the possibility of a draft. Neither side has offered up what they’re going to do to meet the current and future military needs.”

Strell said his group’s Web site has seen a huge spike in recent days in downloads of voter registration forms, now up to about 40,000 a day.

The draft legislation was introduced by Rangel, a fierce critic of both the Iraq war and the Bush administration.

“I would not advise anybody that’s running for election as a Democrat to vote for this,” said Rangel, who contended Republicans abused parliamentary standards to rush a vote to the floor without hearings or discussion. “It’s a prostitution of the legislative process,” he said. …

> AP: “GOP Gets House to Nix Draft Bill 402-2″

Comments (0) • Posted to Politics by Rob at 8:57 pm

Thursday, September 30th, 2004

The Politics of Art

Steve Shepard:
Steve Shepard - “Closed Door Meeting”

A Mississippi artist I came across during the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair this summer has been ejected from an art show for his overtly political work.

Steve Shepard’s work has mostly depicted the flora and fauna of the swamps of his native Mississippi over a 20-year career. However, in the past year his works have become intensely political, with titles like “Republicans Kill Wetlands” and “Stop the Earth Haters Bush & Cheney”

The artist was rejected from the “old-fashioned, family-oriented” Art in the Pass street fair in the town of Pass Christian, Mississippi by festival chairman Virgil Harris, who told the Mississippi Sun Herald the artist violated the fair’s policy against “politicking": “What he was doing was purely politicking. The work reminded me of devil worship.”

Comments (1) • Posted to PoliticsArt by Rob at 12:40 am

Monday, September 27th, 2004

2004 Republican National Convention Photos

Republican Convention 2004 #2

Republican Convention 2004

Comments (0) • Posted to PoliticsPhotosNew York City by Rob at 11:18 pm

What about the Draft?

There’s an email circulating that claims the U.S. government will reinstate the draft in June 2005. Is it true?

Probably not.

The Urban Legends Reference pages, a highly regarded encyclopedia of urban legends, says the draft will “probably not” be reinstated in 2005 - and correctly points out the legislation cited by the email was introduced by Democrats making an anti-war statement - and requires national service of many types including the armed forces. Furthermore, even if the draft was approved by both houses of congress today, it would take nearly two years before any draftees would be headed abroad.

A columnist for the progressive news website Working for Change has written a column about the rumor, that concluded “the draft is not coming back":

No serious observers foresee the resumption of a military draft any time soon, regardless of who wins in November. The Bush White House is opposed to the resumption of a draft. So is John Kerry. So is the Pentagon, which claims that with the advent of a high-tech military, it wouldn’t have the capacity to train vast numbers of non-volunteers. The Pentagon claims it needs to fill particular slots, not a general increase in numbers. Rumsfeld and other Bush Administration officials are ideologically invested, and would continue to be after November, in a high-tech armed forces that attacks with relatively few soldiers. And Kerry wants an increase in soldiers in Iraq to come from other countries, not the U.S.

Also, the Rocky Mountain News printed a story today, explaining a the possibilities of a new draft would be “remote at best.” So no draft.

However, a massive segment of the U.S. federal government’s spending now goes to the military. Trillions are spent on nuclear warheads, enriched uranium shells, massive numbers of tanks and armaments, and a bogus Star Wars system which has never - and will never - work. Meanwhile, our public schools are radically underfunded, the social security trust fund has been raided to invade and occupy a foreign country so that corporations with close ties with the Republican administration can profit. Our country is now more militarized than at any point in its history - except perhaps for a period briefly during W.W.I.I.

The U.S.