Friday, October 10, 2003

Reverse Migration

NewForge has a really interesting post from someone who migrated from the Linux operating system to Windows. A longtime Linux user tried out Windows XP for a week and writes up the experience.

He makes some good observations, but there's also some of the usual snarky undertones you find with Linux users. Not bad, but it's there. Read the whole thing, as they say, and the correctives in the comments. Not quite eye-opening, but it may make you think.

I'm fascinated with Linux, to be honest, though I haven't made the migration yet. My first computer, from 1997, had Win95 on it and I refused to upgrade. Way too much hassle for a home-using slacker like me. It wasn't until a buddy (Mark at Conservative Zone) bequeathed an eMachine to me that I was finally forced over to Win98, where I remain to this day. After many months of tweaking and pruning and digging through arcana and waiting with bated breath to see if changes would hose the computer, I finally got it stable. It's been a long time since I've had any kind of crash, other than Mozilla's Firebird browser choking things sometimes, and I intend to keep it there.

That's the appeal of Linux to me, the stability and the tinker's attraction (after all, I do hand-code my own HTML rather than go WYSIWYG). I don't mind looking under the hood to solve things I know will stay solved, but I hate Windows constant behind-my-back crap, and its "we know better" attitude. From software?! I think not. You serve me, bucko. Microsoft's ubiquity and "ease of operation" aren't more appealing than the numerous flaws and bugs in its software, as well as the increasing intrusion of the company's financial interests into my computing needs.

The thing keeping me from it is the arcana, and frankly, a lot of the sneering superiority you get from some in the Linux community. Some of it is the acceptable skills-based scrutiny and meritocracy you find in the computer community. That I don't mind. But some of it is the moral snobbery of cliques. Screw that.

I dunno. Maybe I should contact Brock of Signifying Nothing, who is also the President of the Memphis Linux User's Group and just take the plunge. What do y'all think?
Weird Vote Fraud In California?

Mark Crispin Miller, a once-intelligent media critic gone bonkers after Bush's win in 2000, has a really startling post about a statistical study done on the voting patterns in the just-completed California recall election. The results are a real pause.
I ran a number crunch of CA counties that use Diebold
machines to cast/count votes and found some weird
figures that show a skim of votes from top candidates
to people who were unlikely to affect the outcome. I
did my hand calculator work on the California election
results (from the secretary of state's site) when 96%
of precincts had reported....

I had earlier noticed some lower order candidates
(ones who couldn't affect the result) were getting
unusually large numbers of votes in Tulare county. I
decided to test to see if the these and other 'fringe'
candidates might be used to receive skimmed votes in
other Diebold counties.
The answer is a disturbing yes.

Diebold machines are completely computerised. There is no paper audit trail. And, worse, the software used in the machines is proprietary, meaning that State election officers aren't allowed to see it, much less test it for honesty and integrity. The potential for abuse and fraud is unknowable because the Diebold people won't let you find out.

This subject has also received a whole lot of attention on the computer tech site, Slashdot. Try here, here, here and here. This is not "conspiracy" paranoia, but well-grounded worries about the electoral system. Ballot-tampering has long been a problem in this country from its earliest days, and continues today. Just ask any Democrat.

Or ask Pat Buchanan. It's been alleged, and those allegations have considerable evidence to support them, that he was robbed of votes in the 1996 Presidential elections. Read up here and here. By the way, is a good source on this controversy.

You can also learn more at BlackBoxVoting. Tennessee doesn't have this problem yet, but it is coming. Now's the time to get informed.

Even if you think this is hooey, at least read the Mark Crispin Miller post and think about it.
District Five Results

Last night's election results in the District Five City Council race are in, and it's not good. Carol Chumney, old-style Liberal Democrat, with 39% is in a run-off with Republican red-headed stepchild George Flinn, with 31%. The election will be in a month. It doesn't appear that Flinn can win.

Why? Because the third-place finisher was Jim Strickland, former head of the Shelby County Democrats, with 26%. Nearly all of those voters can be counted on to move over to Chumney, giving her an unbeatable margin. (Why is it every time I hear her name, "Chumney," I keep thinking of a Peabody and Sherman cartoon?)

Flinn is also cursed with a surrealist Republican party. One would think that they'd rally to the guy who will help to keep a Republican presence on a City Council teetering on a solid Democratic lock. But it helps to remember that these are the same folks who abandoned their own candidate for Mayor in favor of Herenton, because Herenton's government is openly welcoming to the various and many Republicans who are seeking to make and increase their own fortunes. They'd gladly abandon their own party and principles for a buck. And punish the guys, like Flinn, who try to upset that applecart. It's the money, first and foremost.

That's why the Republicans haven't been able to really capitalise (Hah! There's a pun for you.) on their increasing numbers and appeal in the eastern suburbs of Shelby County. Lots of fertile ground, but few sprouts. Because they would rather eat their own than jeapardise their own personal interests.

Saddled with that, Flinn is almost certainly doomed. And we get...shudder...Chumney. Just go ahead and open your wallets right now, and throw your money at the City Council.

You'll end up doing something like that soon anyway. It's just easier this way.
Answer Received: Shameless Whores It Is

Earlier this week, I posted (if the link is bloggered, scroll to "The Commercial Appeal: Shameless Whores Or Opportunists?") about the Commercial Appeal's shamelessly one-sided and partisan coverage of Mayor Herenton in yesterday's election race. I left the question open, in a spirit of charity.

Well, today's Commercial Appeal provides a firm and conclusive answer. Yep, they're whores down at the Big Glass Fort. A giant, full-page picture of Herenton, standing alone, coveres the top of the fold. Just visible below this are two partial headlines to stories further down. Their placement is fortuitous, if you read straight across it says: "Mayor credits... Inevitability..."

Yeah, no bias here. Nope. (Note that they repeat their Sunday editorial theme of inevitability here as well. Good use of literary technique.)

The headline continues the new CA policy of clever, less-than-four-words, vague and uninformative phrases, especially on the front page. Large type, lots of white space, little conveyed. Today it's "Herenton: 4 for 4." The day after Summerstorm 2003, it was "Gale Force." I could list dozens of examples. I suspect some marketing research droid from corporate had a seminar or workshop with the upper editorial staff. He presented lots of their research which showed that using "intriguing" headlines like this made people curious, so they picked up the paper. More research showed that once folks had the paper in hand, they were 17% more likely to buy it. So, the Big Guys at corporate Strongly Encouraged them to try it here. After all, you want to sell more papers, right?

Or something like that. It means that the CA isn't about journalism or reporting, but has become a product. Yet another bit of branded something to sell to Joe and Jane Consumer. Among the several biases already operating at the paper, we must now add product packaging and presentation. Consumer "stickiness." Mystery, intrigue, desire. Sales.

But I digressed. Newly re-elected Mayor Herenton actually said the following:
He also praised his administration as being free of corruption.

"We are proud of how we have managed this city and we have earned the respect of the people in this city."
Well, yeah! Of course there's been no corruption reported. The CA isn't interested in finding any that might tarnish Their Hero. Why would I expect a publication so enamored of this guy to go after him, or the folks who work under him?

Look at the crooks on the City Council. Literally! There's been folks with actual criminal records sitting there. Look at the flap that's erupted with the indictment of Shep Wilbun following last year's allegations. Look at the dirt that suddenly appeared in Shelby County government once AC Wharton was elected to replace Jim Rout. Are we supposed to believe that it doesn't extend to our City government as well? Are we fools?

What's sobering to remember is that in none of these cases was the illegality turned up by work done by the Commercial Appeal. Not once. Nor did it happen in the Madison day care case. What did happen was that later, after the story was broken and unavoidable, did they then go deeper. The Commercial Appeal reserves it real investigative work for the Ford family, for whom they have an abiding animus.

So no wonder Herenton can make a claim like that with impugnity. Remember when the links between his casino investments and local casino operations turned up? The Commercial Appeal didn't evidence much interest in that, relegating most stories to the depths of Metro. Herenton now knows with certainty that he doesn't have to worry. His boys have his back.

Want more?
Herenton hasn't been afraid to take on controversial subjects during his time as mayor. Several years ago, he set up a "second chance program" to provide job opportunities for convicted felons....
One that was used to find employment for a member of his personal body guard who was found to be involved in drug dealing. Never saw anything about how that story might have touched the Mayor, did we? (To be fair, though, I will say that this program does seem a good idea. We have a lot of felons here in Memphis who are serious about making a good, clean start. So, I'll also credit him here.)
Herenton also generated some controversy earlier this year by first proposing that the city school board be appointed rather than elected and later that the city and county school systems be merged.

Those suggestions angered city school board members and some suburbanites, but some city voters said they approve of Herenton's calls for education reforms.
That's all they were, calls. No further action from his office and the City Schools proposal was watered down to ineffectualness. Heard anything more on this subject? Didn't think so. This is a constant in the Herenton psychology. He proposes something and then, at the first signs of resistance from any quarter, he'll disparage the critics and then drop the idea. It might show up again one day, or it might not. Can't be sure. But it's darn sure you won't see criticism of him from the Commercial Appeal; they spin it as an amusing, if frustrating, quirk.

Enough of this. The Commercial Appeal is a monopoly and very arrogantly handles itself in that position. Credibility is a precious thing. The CA spends it like a drunk sailor on shore leave in the Phillipines. Or, looked at another way, they crave the power to shape Memphis politically, culturally, and even physically; to be kingmakers and power-brokers. To befriend anyone who can make them a few dollars. Like Phillipino barsluts watching the sailors debark.

So, yeah, shameless whores it is.
Xenophobic Democrats

Here in the Memphis media market we've been saturated for weeks now with anti-Barbour ads from Democrats seeking to keep Democrat Ronnie Musgrove as Governor of Mississippi. We have plenty of wattage in our television and radio stations and they cover the northwest corner of the state pretty well.

What finally occurred to me today was the essentially xenophobic nature of the Musgrove ads. The latest radio iteration repeatedly calls Republican challenger Haley Barbour "Washington lobbyist Barbour" and refers to Musgrove as "Mississippi's Ronnie Musgrove." Note the possessive. He's "ours" and Barbour's one of "them." They attach Barbour's name to his lobbying efforts for countries like Mexico, Bolivia, Switzerland and the Honduras. Previous ads have worked hard to play up the non-Mississippi aspects of Barbour's most recent career.

It's blatantly xenophobic! It's a pure play for a bizarre strain of nativism. Bizarre, because if you've heard Barbour speak it's clear he could only have come from Mississippi. After all his years in national-level Republican politics and both national and international lobbying, he still sounds like Bubba from Tupelo.

Not only that, but Musgrove's latest ads mention that he's "conservative, independent." How strange is that, coming from a Democrat? No mention of his Democratic party affiliation. But such is the post-Clinton, post-1994 Southern political landscape. I haven't been following Mississippi politics, but my sense is that Musgrove has done much better for a Democrat than you'd expect, not unlike Tennessee's Bredesen. He has some solid accomplishments he can claim and the red ink in Mississippi's budget is no different from the bleeding of most states right now. But Barbour brings enormous political connections and experience; his lobbying contacts can also be rightly seen as invaluable to Mississippi in this free-trade era. So, I'm agnostic and indifferent on this race.

It amazes me though that Musgrove is straight-facedly and earnestly using conservativsm, xenophobia, trade protectionism and nativism as his themes.

Why, he sounds like Pat Buchanan. Think about that.

**INSTANT UPDATE** Seems like Chris at Signifying Nothing has already posted his thoughts on my post and the election in general. Woo! Internet-speed news cycle tonight.

And that makes three links in a week. We have a trifecta! Chris, collect your Bonus Cool Points** from the cashier in the lobby.

**BCPs can be redeemed with the nearest group of hip people in your area and socioeconomic/education/class group. Cool passport and a beginner's cool permit required. Do not use BCPs without knowing what you are doing, as they can be dangerous to your cool if used improperly. Always wear shades.
When In Doubt, Cave

Ole Miss administrators, dismayed over the tepid response to their lame efforts at sweeping something distasteful under the rug, have pulled the plug. Apparently heeding calls from some quarters, there will now be no mascot on the field at University of Mississippi games. Thanks to Chris for the heads-up.

The reason cited was a huge disinterest on the part of the invited voters. Only 2400 out of 40,000 possible voters participated. The administration took this as a sign of the lameness of their choices, which is certainly true, but I think there's something else at work here. If I recall correctly, there was a poll recently on campus (sorry I can't find the link) that found most students were content to leave things as they were. Given that, the lack of voter participation is a rejection of the false choices being given in the poll. It would likely have been better, though not for the anti-Colonel forces, to have asked again if they wanted to keep their mascot.

Reading the whole article, there's some interesting stuff buried near the end.
Boone did comment on the rumors spreading that anyone could vote illegally.

He said just because someone could cast a vote does not mean that person's vote would count. Season ticket holders and UM Loyalty Foundation members are listed on a computer database, which after a vote was cast, the database would scan to see if there was a match between the voter and a name on the list.

"We thought the best way was to allow people to vote in those two categories, no matter what they put in," Boone said. "Whenever they do it, the computer would flag those and delete those that did not match up with what the database had."
I suppose they also compared student votes against the student database. This is interesting as it also means they have a list of everyone who voted and what their choice was! Is this the usual way of doing these kinds of things at Ole Miss? It begins to shade close to Big Brotheresque thoughts of flagging those who make the "wrong" choice.

There was also this:
Boone in a previous interview said the same artist who created Rebel Bruiser, the artist whom the athletic department approached to submit an idea after the contest was over, had created an image at least a year earlier with Rebel Bruiser holding a bulldog by the neck.

Boone did not mention during that interview that the image he described was already being sold.

"I regret that this has become such a divisive issue," Boone said in the press release.

"It is now time to move forward."
Oh yeah! "Move along. Nothing to look at here." Was someone doing a little bit of friendly steering here? This might bear a bit of examination, if only to put some heat on Boone and turn him away from getting rid of the Colonel for now.
The Results Are In

In the next post, I took Blake Fontenay to task for seeming to argue both ends of an argument, saying that election turnout would be low or record-low in one article, while writing another that predicted unusually high turnout.

In a post-election write-up today, Blake says:
Only 103,226 of the city's 441,156 registered voters participated, including those who voted early, for a total turnout of 23.4 percent.
Only? Before, there was talk of turnout to match the former low record of 15% and yesterday he was writing of turnout approaching 35%.

Schizophrenia isn't a pretty thing to see. He really should pick one page and get on it.

I was thinking turnout might be close to 15%, so the actual turnout was surprise for me. Good to see, but still disheartening.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Get Your Story Straight

Over the weekend I blogged about the Commercial Appeal's shameless shilling for Mayor Herenton. Part of the editorials by Kushma and Kelly were the usual moans about low voter turnout. Yesterday, over at Blake's Blog, he also makes mention of low voter turnout today.

So, it was more than a bit of a surprise to see today's front page story, "28% of Memphis may vote today". Say what?! The article goes on to claim something called the "Schwarzenegger effect" may boost turnout. As if. This is one of the saddest election cycles in recent memory, and for Memphis that's saying an awful lot. No imaginary spill-over of fascination with California's recall, which is also largely a press phenomenon, is happening here. Anecdotal evidence on my part suggests that a whole lot of folks are as disgusted as they've ever been with our "leaders," and this comes from across the political spectrum, not just the libertarian and conservative Right.

Most amusing of all, guess who wrote the article today? Why Blake Fontenay, Mr. Blake's Blog himself. I think he should start scheduling more meetings with the various parts of his mind more often.
Perceived Media Bias

Chris Lawrence gets two links in a week! He's on a roll.

He has a post with figures on this topic and a link to a previous discussion. As clear a picture as only numbers can paint.
How Much Is Inside?

I found the How Much Is Inside? website while on my random link, I mean while researching important stories. Yeah, that's it.

Anyway, it answers the questions you've always asked. How much Cheez Whiz in a can? How many cups of beer in a keg? How many ketchup packs does it take to refill a ketchup bottle? How big a puddle of blood would a dead person make? How much lipstick in a tube? How long is the Silly String in a can? And so many more.

Yet another of my efforts to make learning fun. Enjoy!
Longmire Does Memphis

Mark of the World of Longmire came to Memphis recently and took pictures. It was the usual touristy trip -- Beale Street, Elvis, etc., but with the Longmire twist. Here's the tale.

Can't believe he didn't go inside Abe Schwab's on Beale (see the pic about a third of the way down). That has to be one of the coolest places in the city. It's like an old-timey general store, but for real. They can even meet your voodoo needs! Plus, ribs at Blues City Cafe? Pleez.... That's like going to the Gulf Coast and eating at Red Lobster. Man, and the Rendevous was right down the street, too.

If you ever come back, Mark, give me a shout first and I'll send you to the really cool places that tourists mostly don't see.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Come See The Liberal Bias! Come See The Liberal Bias!

Yeah, there's no liberal bias. Not at all. Except on CNN.

CNN's original story on the victory of Arnorld Schwarzenegger in the California recall read like this:
He has also been dogged by allegations that he expressed admiration for Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler in a 1975 interview, though those charges largely dissipated after two figures involved in the interview discounted them. Schwarzenegger, who, like Hitler, is a native of Austria, has vehemently denied that he ever had Nazi sympathies.
"Schwarzenegger, who, like Hitler, is a native of Austria...." What? So all Austrians have Hitler-like impulses? This is fair and neutral, balanced and objective reporting?

You can see the text of the original here. An Arizona television station reprinted the story, apparently not looking through the text. Or not finding it objectionable, who knows?

CNN, however, quickly covered their mistake. Here's what the page reads now:
After surging ahead in polls after a September 24 debate, the actor found himself fending off the sexual harassment allegations and a claim that he expressed admiration for Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler in a 1975 interview.

While vehemently denying he had Nazi sympathies, Schwarzenegger both apologized for behaving badly and disputed some of the accusations, but he has given no specifics
Although someone, somewhere, for some reason, decided to change the story, nope, no liberal bias here. The press is fair and neutral.

My ass.

Thanks to Tim Blair for reporting this one.
All Good Now

Seems that some of the links down below were FUBARed. I went back through the posts and fixed 'em. See, I really do do it all for you. You're welcome.

Of course, it will now turn out that other links are hosed and I missed those. It's my curse.
Don't Forget To Vote!

Thursday is election day in Memphis. Do not forget to vote. Even if this is the most unimpressive and uninspiring election that I can recall, one with options so awful you hate to pull any lever, we must still do our part. Otherwise, the forces of status quo reign.

Right now, over in Iraq, are men and women who will soon be given the first meaningful votes they have known in over thirty years. Flocks of candidates will vie for their place in the first representative, democratic government many Iraqis have ever seen.

We sent our men and women over there to "secure these blessings" for them, and hundreds have died in the process. For us not to vote here is to make a mockery of their sacrifice over there. It's to make hollow the gift we have given the Iraqis.

The American experiment, conceived in Great Britain and birthed in North America, that was launched over 220 years ago has transformed the world. Every decade, one more nation finally throws off the tyranny of the few to grasp the liberty of self-rule and self-determination. One by one, the world comes closer and closer to the dream of a planet of people living in freedom.

That dream depends on you. On your vote. It really does. Do not throw away what so many have fought and worked and most certainly died for. As we have made a gift to the Iraqis, so have our ancestors made a gift to us, an unbroken chain of promise and hope. Do not break your link. Don't let down the side.

Memphis City Council: District Five

Yours truly lives in this district, which largely encompasses Midtown. Our City Council representative for the past few years was John Vergos, local restauranteur. He was not spectacular, but I felt comfortable with his representation. Mostly, he was a successful businessman (Rendevous restaurant; very highly recommended!) who brought that approach to the Council and a long-time resident of Midtown. He was the true citizen-representative, not a professional politician.

Well, Mr. Vergos is stepping aside, having given back to the city, and we have five folks running to replace him. Not a one is worth it. Two are life-long professional politicians, one is a new politician looking to move up, one perennial runner and a newbie. Not an impressive, nor compelling, slate.

Carol Chumney is a long-time professional politician, of the orthodox post-Seventies Democratic variety. She has been making noises for some time about retiring from the Tennessee House of Representatives to become Memphis mayor. She's running for City Council as a placeholder until Mayor Herenton steps out of the way. She's been trying to make a name as a "women's" candidate, focusing on childcare and education issues. Her run for District Five is not about representing the district but about Chumney. Bleh.

George Flinn ran unsuccessfully for Mayor last time as a spoiler primary candidate who upset the Republican Party's chosen straw man but then lost to the Democrat when the party was less than willing to help him win. The Republicans had already decided to fall on their sword against Wharton, whom they believe to be willing to play ball with the usual business interests. Flinn ran as a populist and "clean government" man. He's a widely liked guy, nice by all descriptions, a local physician and owner of a small radio empire, a successful businessman.

But he's in the District Five race only to secure a political office. One of the criticisms he received in the mayoral race was his novice status. He's out to remedy that by being a City Councillor. Again, it's not about my district, but about Flinn's political ambitions.

Then we come to Jim Strickland, also a Democrat. He's an attorney, so right away that's one strike against him. (All you attorneys and lawyers can hold your protests. Government is infested with lawyers to our great detriment. That's my opinion, and I'm stickin' with it.) He's also been involved in local Democratic politicss for various campaigns for years. Strickland has one of those impressive resumes that sounds more like a template for political points.

The Commercial Appeal endorses him, which is pretty close to a deal-breaker, but then his predecessor John Vergos also endorses him and that carries some weight for me. Still, Strickland is a Democrat, and that's almost always a deal-breaker.

Next, we come to Mark Follis (no web site), an "arborist" and owner of Bluff City Tree Preservation. He is a member of the Sierra Club and appears to be making himself the "environmental" candidate. I admire his decision to become a citizen-representative, but without more knowledge of his politics and knowing his apparent environmentalism...I'll pass.

Last, there's the only African-American candidate in the race, Kerry White (also no web site). He's the perennial office seeker. He's an "adviser" to the South Memphis Merchant's Association, whatever that means. I have a hard time taking this man seriously when you see comments like this, where he proposed toll roads as one revenue solution:
I wish we would get a toll here so we wouldn't have to increase taxes so much,'' White said. "Those (property tax) funds are going to have to be replaced some kind of way, but I don't think it should be from new taxes.
Sorry? What is a toll but a tax on road use? That's not the kind of thinking I need on the public purse strings.

So where does that leave me? There's no Libertarian to support out of principle. Chumney seems to have the edge here, as a recent story suggested she has very strong support from women in the district. God help us if she wins. So do I vote defensively and give Flinn the nod? Do I give up effective representation of my district for one man's ambitions to Mayor so I can block one woman's ambitions to Mayor and her repugnant politics?

I wish there was some other choice. I'll probably trudge to the polling place and glumly vote for Flinn. And hate every minute of the years to come, I'm sure.
Wonders Of The Web, An Ongoing Series

Nearly every day, the web continues to amaze me. The most obvious and most obsure things you can find there.

For example, who'da thunk that Memphis Democrats would have their own website? Seems obvious in retrospect, doesn't it? Well, sure enough, here it is.

Oh, wait, that's The Memphis Democrat, a newspaper. Sorry.... Apparently there's a print version somewhere, but I haven't run across one in fifteen years here.
Globe of Blogs

Dang it! I can't remember who it was now who pointed me to this the other day, but I know it was a Rocky Top Brigadier. Anyway, thanks!

Globe of Blogs is a world-wide compendium of blogs and bloggers. Only 8000 blogs right now, but jeez...that's a lot of reading. GoB has a searchable database, though it's not perfect. Searching for "Tennessee" produced a whole lot of blogs, many in Memphis, but searching for "Memphis" only produced three. It is also searchable by a whole host of parameters: hobbies, politics, activist causes, lifestyle, etc.

Go sign up and then try it out. Very cool.
Hopeless Idiots

I haven't commented on the University of Mississippi brou-ha-ha over the Colonel Reb mascot/logo up to now. It's pretty obvious that some PC folks in the administration are embarrassed to have to be seen with that hate-filled symbol of white bigotry at their official functions with other schools. ("Ugh, do you see what he's wearing? How Neanderthal." "Let's snub him, to make our point. Oooh, brie!") They keep citing a loss of potential athletes, and hinting at a loss of revenue, but fail to provide any names, institutions, businesses, or even, God forbid, actual numbers. That's the sign of an argument based not on facts but on emotion.

Ole Miss started a contest to find a replacement mascot. They've coughed up two candidates today. Both are failures. Why?

Because both are white! That's right, the replacements for the hateful white patriarch are themselves both white. In fact, one is nothing more than a redressing of Colonel Reb in modern day athletic drag. Even the names are bad: Rowdy Rebel and Rebel Bruiser.

I can't wait to hear from the campus feminists and pacifists. The new choices are not women-inclusive on a campus that's half female, and they both celebrate violence ("Bruiser"?). That "Rowdy" designation will probably bring out the MADD forces, protesting that "rowdiness" leads to "drunkeness" which leads to violence against people and highway death. Yeah, should be fun.

I should note that Chris Lawrence of Signifying Nothing has covered this issue on his blog. Click here and start scrolling down. A very good blog, by the way; always recommended.

These folks at Ole Miss are proving that they don't have a coherent vision they want to project, but a deep embarrassment for their past, one they just want to get rid of. Sorry kids, but the past is the past. Embrace it, own up to it, acknowledge the wrongs, work on the future by focusing on the rights. Then you can look for the mascot that fits that vision.

But not before.
Your Lesson For Today

Thanks to Fark for pointing me to this: Why Are Legal Pads Yellow? You'll also learn when they were invented!

Yes, learning can be painless and fun. Class dismissed.
Don't Give Up

Kevin over at The Smallest Minority has a long, thoughful, link-filled, though despairing, post titled "Not with a Bang, but a Whimper?" In it, he worries over the state of the fight by the Right against the forces of Statism and Liberalism. It's well worth the read, as are the comments.

I had this to say: "Don't despair because you won't live to see the dream. Rejoice that you did your part to bring us closer to it."

So hang in there, Kevin.
A Map To Help The Democrats

This is pretty much my only comment on the California recall. The California Secretary of State's office is publishing a map of the winners in each county of California. By "winner" they mean the highest vote getter. Of course, that means if Schwarzenegger got 42% and Bustamante got 41%, then Schwarzenegger got the whole county, so there's some skew there.

Like the famous 2000 red/blue presidential election map, there's a lesson for Democrats there, but I trust they'll learn as little from red/green as they did from red/blue.

Hat tip to Instapundit for the link.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Hillary in 2004: The Mystery Ends

It's the hot rumor of the Internet. Folks have discovered a filing at the Federal Election Commission for Hillary Clinton for President in 2004. The listing is very bare and contains no real information, especially on who filed the document, or triggered its filing.

WorldNetDaily, with Insight Magazine, has an article that claims to clear up the confusion. They contacted the FEC and asked some basic questions. A group called "Draft Hillary 2004 For President" had filed the enticing document, said WND. It was a private filing, not an official one, required by the FEC for draft organisations. End of mystery, yes?

Well, not quite. The document WND found and researched was this one. Note that the filing number is C00390468. It lists some contact information. A simple Google search quickly turned up two webpages connected to the DH04FP group. This one is their press release that doesn't seem to have attracted too much press attention.

The other one is the main page for Here you will find some of the information listed in the FEC filing above. A simple call to Adam Parkhomenko showed that they were in fact the group responsible for this filing.

But, the mystery filing is this FEC page. Note that its filing number is P00003392. This is not the Draft Hillary / Vote Hillary filing. Note, too, that the Draft Hillary filing has a Committee Designation (unauthorized) and a Committee Type (Independent Expenditure). There is no party affiliation listed.

The P00003392 mystery listing has this curious information:

Office Sought: President
Election Year: 2004
State: Presidential Candidate
District: 03
Party: DEM (Democratic Party)

This does list a party affiliation, but has the strange "District: 03" denotation. And since when is "Presidential Candidate" a state of the Union?

So, I made a quick call to the FEC and the mystery was cleared. The gentleman I spoke to immediately knew I was calling about the "Clinton listing." He was a bit amazed at the amount of calls he was receiving, even international calls, but was also somewhat bemused. He seemed to be taking things in good spirit.

He said that the P00003392 document was initially triggered somewhere in 1997 or 1998 by the first group to ever mount a "Draft Hillary"-type campaign. This is a standard document created every time a candidate either files or has an organisation file on their behalf, including completely unaffiliated ones. As long as there is some organisation active on their behalf the document is actively retained in the system. While the "Draft Hillary 2004" movement, which filed on September 17 of this year, is only the latest, its creation means that the P00003392 listing will still be found in a search for "Hillary."

The gentleman at the FEC was unable to explain the "District: 03" line. It seems to be a mistake of some kind. On the initial filing forms, like this one from Friends of Hillary (her official campaign committee) for her Senate run in 2006, there is a line asking for district up in the address field, but this has been left blank in the forms I looked through.

Maybe that's the mystery? That she will be rerunning for her Senate seat, instead of leaving the Senate to campaign full-time? Many of the conspiracy theories I've heard have her being a one-term Senator in order to avoid having to face a challenger.

Anyway, it seems the current mystery has been laid to rest. Ah well....

Sunday, October 05, 2003

The Tennessee Independent Media Center

This is only a quickie. I discovered last week a source for traditional, Leftist/activist, news: the Tennessee Independent Media Center. All the usual topics, but covered from the "grass roots." Updates are sporadic, of course, due to the nature of the thing. There's a real "Hey kids, let's put on a news site!" feel here.

Conservatives and Republicans, meet barrel of fish. Barrel of fish, meet guns.
Wanda Wins! Questions Still Remain

I reported last week on this bizarre story of a woman who claims to have been locked in a storage bay for over two months. If the permalink doesn't work, look for the post "Too Many Questions Remain."

The jury returned a verdict against the storage company and Wanda won $100,000! Of course, she was seeking $10 million, so it's a bit of a letdown for her. As always in the press, you have to read to the bottom of the story for the fun stuff:
Hudson was vague about why she was in the storage unit so late on Nov. 7, and denied she heard the metal door close. Parkway's attorney, Burt Taylor, suggested she was sleeping and, furthermore, that she had been living in the unit. She denied Taylor's supposition.

Hudson claimed she was staying with a sister in West Mobile, but under cross examination from Taylor, said that no one filed a missing persons report, despite the lengthy time she spent in the unit.

Jurors declared Monday they were deadlocked and could not reach a verdict. But Mobile County Circuit Judge Rick Stout urged the jury to try harder, which two hours later yielded the $100,000 verdict.
Wouldn't you have liked to have been in that jury room?
Southern Identity On Decline

Via Possumblog comes this story on the decline of Southern pride. It's a sad day indeed. Read Possumblog's thoughts and the comments as well.
Early Warning Sign?

It's a popular conspiracy theory of the Right that General Wesley Clark is Hillary Clinton's stalking horse for a back-door, emergency run for President in 2004. I personally think she's waiting for this year's crop of Democratic candidates to implode so she has a clear field, and a mandate from her party to run.

But then I found this, a listing from the Federal Election Commission of Hillary's Presidential Election Commission disclosure form. Or, well, part of the listing. The actual information seems to be missing.

I've seen comments that this is a private, non-candidate filing and it's old. But with the data not there, who knows? Comments welcome.
This Person Must Die

Normally, I'm opposed to the death penalty. It's irreversible, after all. But in this case, from the UK, I have found someone for whom I can make an exception.

Someone drowned a pregnant dog. In a public lake. Warning, there are graphic and horrifying pictures with this story. If your ire is arousable, or your heart breakable, or your guts churnable, don't click the link.

But seriously, that puke needs to die the same death he inflicted.
The Commercial Appeal: Shameless Whores Or Opportunists?

When Dr. Willie Herenton first ran for City Mayor back in 1991, the Commercial Appeal were staunch supporters of incumbent Dick Hackett. They predicted dire things if Hackett were thrown out. History shows them wrong, of course. The city's fine and now the Commercial Appeal are staunch supporters of the incumbent once again.

The CA finds in him a kindred soul, I suspect. Both are enamored of government as a prime mover in the community. Both are believers in elitism in government: Mayor Herenton routinely disparages critics as uninformed and the CA always favors the usual suspects in elections over outsiders. Both are believers in privacy: Herenton simply doesn't discuss himself or his personal life and the CA accomodates him in that. It didn't used to be that way. When Herenton was City Schools Superintendent, they used to make hay of his dating life. No more, of course.

So, the Sunday CA isn't quite a surprise, and it is. This is their biggest circulation issue (225,000 readers by their own statement) and this is the Sunday before election day. You would expect them to say something positive about their guy. But five columns and articles? Jeez Louise....

It begins on Page One, below the fold. In what is ostensibly a story about how Mayoral Republican candidate John Willingham is being short-changed by Herenton's close ties with Senator Lamar Alexander, which have led the local Republican Party to not support their own candidate, we find that Willingham is once again short-changed! Willingham is merely a bit player in a recitation of all the goodness that is Herenton's cross-party support. He's so over-shadowed it's not even funny. Even in the page two picture, we see Willingham slumped over in the corner of the picture, with a standing Herenton right in the middle. Pictures and a thousand words.

Then we move to the editorial page. Ever since Susan Adler Thorp and Paula Wade hied for the loving embrace of government after the arrival of new Editor in Chief Chris Peck, the CA has been pushing Michael Kelly to fill the space. And fill he does! Not one but two editorials, right next to each other, and both extolling the wondrous juggernaut that is Mayor Herenton. Kelly even wonders if Herenton can do wrong sufficient to get him bounced from office.
Herenton has been in the mayor's office for so long, with so few significant setbacks to his personal or political reputation, during a time in which city government has raised taxes so infrequently, that he has developed an aura of invincibility.
Never mind that the CA routinely calls for raises in tax to cover the latest government fiasco. Never mind that the CA chooses not to report the "setbacks" where folks can see them. Never mind that when he leaves office eventually, he'll leave his successor with an enormous debt load to cover. Yeah, don't look at that stuff.

Both are larded with the usual hooey about Herenton's ability to cross the racial divide and draw support from whites. That much of this support comes from white Democrats and from businessmen who will benefit from the vast public-money boondoggles he's been pushing isn't mentioned, of course.
His support bridges party lines as well as racial divides in Memphis. The Shelby County Republican Party, concerned that legions of Herenton voters turning out for the election would make it hard for them to elect GOP City Council candidates, is not supporting the candidacy of a prominent Republican challenger.
Can't even be bothered to mention Willingham's name. It might confuse voters who must vote for Herenton, after all.
Herenton's success is all the more amazing considering he emerged from the superintendency of a school system that a consultant had described as consumed by organizational chaos.
Kelly of course doesn't mention that the school system is still in the crapper, in even worse shape in fact, and no effort at rooting out the "organizational chaos" is even on the horizon. Herenton is a staunch defender of the teachers' union. Herenton's solution to the City School Board woes is, surprise surprise, to replace the elected officials with a group of professionals selected by him! Hey, the city is covered in boards and commissions, so what's one more?

Ah well, it goes on and on like that. One marvelous thing after another and nary a whisper of the problems behind every statement Kelly makes. It's a shame Kelly isn't a better writer, like Thorp or Wade, so that tackling this kind of dreck would be more fun.

Now, having written a sloppy hagiography of Herenton's career in two parts, you'd think that would be sufficient, but no, there's more. To remind readers that racial unity is a wonderful thing we need more of from our government, comes this guest editorial; and to remind readers that blacks have seen great financial and class success in recent years, a success we'd be well advised not to tamper with by, say, voting out the current Mayor, we have this second guest editorial.

In all, we have nearly a full two pages of Herenton praise. From a newspaper. That wants to be taken seriously as a neutral, balanced and fair reporter of city events and news. Really.

Shameless whores or opportunists? You decide.
Good News For Downtown

According to this Commercial Appeal Business section story, a trio of (out of town) developers have serious plans for a couple of downtown landmarks. First up will be the Rhodes/Jennings (nee Lowenstein) building, which will become a loft-apartment complex with included parking and a small commercial mezzanine. Work is expected to be completed by mid-summer next year.

This is all to the good. Saving these historic buildings is enough, but getting developers who are not beholden to the Belz/Turley/Herenton vision is better. They sound like they are here to stay, and I wish them success.