Monday, September 26, 2005

CPB cuts?

GOP Calls for End to CPB Funding
Study Group Seeks Ways to Fund Katrina Relief
By Doug Halonen- TV Week

Threatening to yank public broadcasting's federal purse strings, House Republicans last week proposed to eliminate federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting as part of an initiative to help the government pay for the mammoth recovery costs associated with Hurricane Katrina.

"Congress must ensure that a catastrophe of nature does not become a catastrophe of debt for our children and grandchildren," said Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., chairman of the House Republican Study Committee.

The committee, representing more than 100 conservative GOP lawmakers, recommended in a report last week that public broadcasters be required to pitch in for relief-by forgoing the $400 million federal appropriation that CPB is expecting to receive in fiscal 2006.

Permanently zeroing out CPB, which funnels federal funds to public radio and TV stations, would save the federal government more than $5.5 billion over the next 10 years, according to the GOP group.

The need for public broadcasting, however, is as evident as ever in the wake of the natural disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, however, said Michael Levy, a CPB spokesman.

"If there ever was a time that reinforces the extraordinary value and need for public television and radio, it is now," Mr. Levy said. "Public broadcasting again demonstrated its worth many times over by serving as a lifeline to those struggling to survive Katrina and rebuild their lives in its aftermath. Locally owned, locally controlled public broadcasters know their communities. And the public knows that in good times or bad, it can depend on public broadcasting to serve the public interest, whether through high-quality educational programming or with life-saving information."

The proposal came during a particularly good week for PBS in terms of awards. The network won 10 Primetime Emmys, including the award for outstanding miniseries. The broadcaster also won six News and Documentary Emmys, more than any other network for the fifth year in a row.

As of late last week, the committee's recommendation for CPB-included in a massive package of proposed cuts for dozens of federal programs-had not been publicly embraced by House Republican leaders. "We still haven't discussed any specific proposals," said a spokesman for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas.

But the proposal comes at a particularly sensitive time for public broadcasting.

In the wake of a major on-air publicity campaign by public broadcast stations, the House earlier this year restored $100 million that had been proposed to be cut from CPB's $400 million budget next year, but declined to provide the more than $100 million public broadcasters wanted for other programs.

A Senate committee subsequently voted to leave the $400 million intact, and to provide much of the additional funding public broadcasters had been seeking, including $35 million for digital TV conversion and $40 million to beef up public broadcasting's interconnection system. In addition, the Senate committee also provided $25 million of the $32 million public broadcasters wanted to fund children's TV shows such as "Sesame Street" and "Postcards From Buster."

The full Senate has yet to vote on public broadcasting's appropriations. In addition, assuming Senate approval, the appropriations bill must still be approved by a conference committee of leaders in the Senate and the House. So the new search by House lawmakers to find ways to underwrite the massive recovery costs for Hurricane Katrina has undermined the security of public broadcasting's federal funding.

"We take it as a serious threat," said John Lawson, president and CEO of the Association of Public Television Stations.

"If there's an across-the-board cut to domestic programs, we will do our part," Mr. Lawson added. "But we will fight any attempt to target CPB funding for deep cuts or elimination."

In a speech to the Media Institute in Washington last week, Ken Tomlinson, CPB's outgoing chairman, insisted that the contribution that public broadcasting makes to educational programming makes the case for continued funding by government.

"There's ample justification for public broadcasting," Mr. Tomlinson said.

But his critics accuse Mr. Tomlinson of having undermined CPB's case with his Republican colleagues on Capitol Hill by blasting PBS and NPR as tax-supported bastions for liberal ideologues.

"The irony is that Tomlinson has made CPB a target for the budget ax," said Jeff Chester, executive director of the watchdog Center for Digital Democracy.

Demanded 'Balance'

In his swan song speech as CPB chairman last week, Mr. Tomlinson insisted that he had never tried to eliminate public broadcasting shows that he believes exhibit a liberal bias.

"I demanded political balance in public broadcasting, and there are people in this town who would see me pay for this sin," Mr. Tomlinson said.

"In the end, if I threatened the cozy atmosphere of public broadcasting over the failure to balance the liberal advocacy journalism of Bill Moyers, my answer is, so be it.

"This thing of balance is not rocket science, and that is why I had so little tolerance for public broadcasting's inability to achieve balance," he said. "Let the record show that, if I was frustrated, I gave as good as I got."

Mr. Tomlinson also said he thought that public broadcasting should focus on improving education-based programming for children.

"I am highly skeptical of so-called nonpartisanship in public broadcasting, because it seems to me that means the same old liberals making the same old decisions," he said. "But I do strongly believe in bipartisanship in public broadcasting, and Republicans and Democrats and conservatives and liberals should join together to support education-based children's programming."

In response to requests from leading Democratic lawmakers, CPB's inspector general is investigating the propriety of Mr. Tomlinson's efforts to study political bias and his hiring of lobbyists to influence legislation he opposed that would have forced CPB's board to include station representatives. In addition, the inspector general is investigating whether CPB inappropriately cut corners earlier this year to hire Patricia Harrison as CPB's president-the candidate that Mr. Tomlinson allegedly favored.

The inspector general's report had been expected to be released as early as this month, but sources said it now isn't expected to be released until early November.
CPB Expected to Pick Halpern
By Doug HalonenTV Week

Cheryl Halpern is expected to be named the successor to Kenneth Tomlinson as chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting when the Republican-dominated board meets today.

Ms. Halpern, a CPB board member, is a longtime Republican activist and political donor who appears to share Mr. Tomlinson's belief that public broadcasting has a liberal bias that's in need of a fix. As a result, critics are asking what difference she will make.

"At her confirmation hearing [to become a CPB board member], she left the impression that she would like to have the authority to intervene directly in program content when she thought the program was not balanced," said Celia Wexler, VP of advocacy for Common Cause. "That's a real big concern."

"We don't have real high expectations," John Lawson, president and CEO of the Association of Public Television Stations.

Ms. Halpern has been on the CPB board since 2002 and chairs the Audit and Finance Committee. She previously was on the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which has oversight of Voice of America and other government broadcasters, and was a community activist. She lives in Livingston, N.J.

The other CPB board member who has been mentioned as a possible successor for Mr. Tomlinson is Gay Hart Gaines, who previously served as a chairman of GOPAC, a Republican fund-raising group headed at the time by former Rep. Newt Gingrich, R-Ga. GOPAC is credited with helping Republican candidates win a majority of the seats in the House in 1994.


Remembering Peter Jennings- By Michele Greppi TV Week

Not one of the 2,000 or so who attended last week's memorial service for Peter Jennings is likely to forget it, ever.

It served perfectly as a reflection of his life and the ways in which he touched the lives of so many others, from colleagues and competitors to the public, both powerful and powerless, and, of course, his loves.

The power brokers of Disney and ABC, electronic journalism and of New York City queued up on the sidewalk outside Carnegie Hall, where they attracted knots of lookie-loos.

The result, said ABC News alumnus Jeff Gralnick, now a consultant for NBC News, was "a perfect New York moment. A cop walks up to four 'barrier leaners' and wants to know if they are there 'for the show. If not, youse gotta move on, please.'"

Mr. Gralnick spoke for many when he said: "'The show.' It was one. And the right one."

Those who studied the loops of photos that played over the stage-adorned only by the architecture, the tools of the speakers and the musicians and two exuberant sprays of flowers that seemed fresh from a cottage garden-saw a man who seemed forever tanned, windblown and madly in love with his life.

Those invited to reflect on Mr. Jennings as they knew him did so intimately and modestly. There was no emotional one-upmanship as had happened at the memorial after the December 2002 death of Roone Arledge, the ABC Sports and News president who made Mr. Jennings and so many others stars.

Those who listened to the words and the music that filled Carnegie Hall-from Yo-Yo Ma doing Bach, Wynton Marsalis and Clark Terry doing jazz, Natalie MacMaster blending Celtic and bluegrass influences and Alison Krauss breaking hearts-were reminded how eclectic Mr. Jennings' passions were. People laughed. They cried. They marveled at the articulacy of his son Christopher and daughter Elizabeth. They envied the expression on their father's face in photos of the family as it played together. They grieved, still and silent, for Mr. Jennings' widow Kayce as Ms. Krauss sang "Slumber My Darling."

Then they gratefully pulled themselves together while the Gates of Praise Choir sang "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands."

They walked back into the sunshine resolved to lead a life that would warrant them even a piece of so fond a farewell and musing about possible figurative meanings of the words printed on the back of the program:

"I hate dirty hockey." Peter Jennings, Aug. 7, 2005

Once again, he left us with much to think of.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

RwR meter 9/20/05

Ramblin with Roger

-- Site Summary ---

Total .......................... 940
Average per Day ................. 40
Average Visit Length .......... 2:17
This Week ...................... 281

Page Views

Total ........................ 1,633
Average per Day ................. 66
Average per Visit .............. 1.6
This Week ...................... 463

--- Visits this Week ---
Hour 9/14 9/15 9/16 9/17 9/18 9/19 9/20 Total
---- ----- ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ -------
1 2 3 0 0 0 2 0 7
2 0 1 0 1 0 0 2 4
3 0 1 3 3 0 0 0 7
4 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 2
5 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 3
6 2 2 1 1 0 1 0 7
7 1 2 0 3 0 4 1 [11]
8 3 1 1 1 0 1 1 8
9 0 4 0 0 2 0 0 6
10 1 2 3 1 1 4 3 [15]
11 4 7 0 0 0 2 4 [17]
12 4 3 3 1 1 4 3 [19]
13 3 4 2 1 0 2 2 [14]
14 1 5 5 0 3 2 5 [21]
15 2 4 4 1 2 1 3 [17]
16 5 3 0 0 1 0 1 [10]
17 8 2 3 2 2 3 3 [23]
18 6 2 7 1 0 2 4 [22]
19 3 1 2 1 0 2 0 9
20 1 2 0 1 2 4 3 [13]
21 0 1 0 2 2 2 3 [10]
22 1 2 1 2 1 0 0 7
23 6 1 2 0 1 2 1 [13]
24 3 4 4 0 2 3 0 [16]
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ -------
56- 57- 41- 23- 24- 41- 39- 281

--- Page Views this Week ---
Hour 9/14 9/15 9/16 9/17 9/18 9/19 9/20 Total
---- ----- ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ -------
1 2 3 0 0 0 2 0 7
2 0 1 0 1 0 0 2 4
3 0 2 5 3 0 0 0 [10]
4 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 4
5 0 0 0 1 5 0 0 6
6 6 4 3 1 0 1 0 [15]
7 1 2 0 8 0 4 1 [16]
8 3 1 1 1 0 2 2 [10]
9 0 5 0 0 2 0 0 7
10 5 2 [10] 3 1 5 4 [30]
11 5 [11] 2 0 0 7 4 [29]
12 8 5 4 1 1 [12] 3 [34]
13 4 [12] 4 1 0 5 2 [28]
14 1 8 9 0 4 6 7 [35]
15 2 4 8 1 2 1 3 [21]
16 [18] 4 [12] 0 1 0 1 [36]
17 [15] 3 4 3 4 3 3 [35]
18 9 5 [16] 1 0 2 7 [40]
19 5 1 2 2 0 2 0 [12]
20 1 9 0 1 2 6 3 [22]
21 0 1 0 3 2 2 5 [13]
22 1 2 1 3 1 0 0 8
23 11 1 2 0 1 2 1 [18]
24 5 8 5 0 2 3 0 [23]
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ -------
102- 94- 88- 34- 32- 65- 48- 463

RwR meter 9/13/05

Ramblin with Roger

-- Site Summary ---

Total .......................... 659
Average per Day ................. 47
Average Visit Length .......... 3:54
This Week ...................... 331

Page Views

Total ........................ 1,170
Average per Day ................. 90
Average per Visit .............. 1.9
This Week ...................... 627

--- Visits this Week ---
Hour 9/7 9/8 9/9 9/10 9/11 9/12 9/13 Total
---- ----- ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ -------
1 4 1 3 1 1 1 0 11
2 2 0 0 2 2 0 0 6
3 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
4 0 0 1 0 0 0 2 3
5 1 2 0 3 3 0 2 11
6 1 3 1 0 1 3 1 10
7 3 3 1 0 0 2 0 9
8 1 2 1 0 0 1 1 6
9 0 0 2 2 1 1 2 8
10 7 2 4 0 4 2 6 25
11 4 5 5 3 3 5 5 30
12 4 3 4 1 2 2 1 17
13 9 3 2 1 3 3 1 22
14 15 2 2 1 1 4 4 29
15 9 3 2 1 1 8 2 26
16 1 6 2 4 1 1 3 18
17 6 3 0 1 2 2 3 17
18 5 2 1 0 0 3 2 13
19 3 1 1 0 1 2 2 10
20 3 2 2 1 2 0 2 12
21 4 3 2 0 0 3 2 14
22 2 1 0 0 1 2 0 6
23 3 2 3 2 1 1 3 15
24 4 3 1 2 0 0 1 11
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ -------
93- 52- 40- 25- 30- 46- 45- 331

--- Page Views this Week ---
Hour 9/7 9/8 9/9 9/10 9/11 9/12 9/13 Total
---- ----- ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ -------
1 5 1 6 3 1 1 0 17
2 3 0 0 3 3 0 0 9
3 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
4 0 0 1 0 0 0 6 7
5 1 2 0 7 11 0 3 24
6 1 4 2 0 1 4 2 14
7 4 6 1 0 0 5 0 16
8 1 2 1 0 0 1 1 6
9 0 0 2 4 5 4 6 21
10 10 7 12 0 5 8 22 64
11 5 6 7 5 7 8 9 47
12 7 3 7 2 3 8 1 31
13 9 6 3 1 4 3 1 27
14 36 3 4 1 3 5 7 59
15 30 20 2 7 1 11 2 73
16 23 9 6 8 1 4 3 54
17 9 4 0 1 3 3 12 32
18 7 6 1 0 0 8 2 24
19 4 1 1 0 1 5 2 14
20 3 3 2 1 8 0 2 19
21 6 4 3 4 0 4 3 24
22 6 1 0 0 1 2 0 10
23 4 3 3 2 1 1 4 18
24 6 3 1 2 0 0 3 15
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ -------
182- 94- 65- 51- 59- 85- 91- 627

RwR meter 8/26/05

Ramblin with Roger

-- Site Summary ---

Total ........................... 23
Average per Day ................. 12
Average Visit Length .......... 3:25
This Week ....................... 23

Page Views

Total ........................... 41
Average per Day ................. 21
Average per Visit .............. 1.8
This Week ....................... 41

--- Visits this Week ---
Hour 8/20 8/21 8/22 8/23 8/24 8/25 8/26 Total
---- ----- ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ -------
1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
6 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
7 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
8 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
9 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
10 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
11 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
12 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
13 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1
14 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2
15 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 3
16 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2
17 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2
18 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2
19 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1
20 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2
21 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 3
22 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1
23 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 4
24 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ -------
0 0 0 0 0 0 23 23

--- Page Views this Week ---
Hour 8/20 8/21 8/22 8/23 8/24 8/25 8/26 Total
---- ----- ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ -------
1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
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8 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
9 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
10 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
11 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
12 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
13 0 0 0 0 0 0 10 10
14 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 6
15 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 4
16 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2
17 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 3
18 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 3
19 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1
20 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2
21 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 3
22 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1
23 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 6
24 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ -------
0 0 0 0 0 0 41 41

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Beatles as Musicians I

The Beatles as Musicians: Volume I: The Quarry Men Through Rubber Soul By Walter Everett

A stream of consciousness review by Don Labriola

Just began reading the intro to Volume I and if this book walks the walk as well as it talks, it'll be a terrific read. According to the author, at least two years of college-level music theory are required to follow much of his discussion, but regardless of the readers' background in musicology, I think there will be a lot here that would be of interest to any serious Beatles fan.

The intro states that the book is the result of "the study of many thousands of audio, print, video, and multimedia sources, including the close consultation of uncounted audio recordings of the Beatles' compositional process, traced through tapes that are treated as the equivalents of compositional sketches and drafts. All available concert, broadcast, and demo recordings in both audio and video formats have been scoured for the broadest possible understanding of what the Beatles did musically... The reader will find particularly helpful both the thoroughness with which every recording is contextualized, both historically and musically, and the fact that aspects of the Beatles' choices of instruments, vocal production techniques, recording equipment, and studio procedures -- the essence of their recording practice -- are exposed here as in no other source."

As if that isn't enough, the book is meticulously indexed and includes huge reference and notes listings, as well as musical references for the reader whose musicology chops may be a bit rusty, such as a table of "chord functions", which describes how each chord form is typically used in the Beatles' music (one example: "III#: Aside from its implied role as V of VI, III# is known only as a surprising substitute for I6 on its way to IV in the reharmonizing codas of 'I Want to Hold Your Hand' and 'Yes It Is'.") There's also a lengthy appendix that describes in detail the instruments that the Beatles used, everything from the banjolele, which was the first instrument Lennon & McCartney played in the early 50s, through the Vox Continental MK 1 4-octave keyboard that the band used live ca. 1965-6. All in all, over 100 pages of reference material.

OK, maybe this sounds frighteningly anal, even for me. But as I've mentioned before, there's a plethora of material out there about the Beatles' personal lives, their drug use, sexual encounters, legal battles, and on and on ad nauseam. But very little has been written about the music itself, which I consider a heckuva lot more interesting than the blow-by-blows of Yoko's relationship with Paul or voyeuristic descriptions of Brian Epstein's sex life. What was it about the Beatles' music that made it sound so fresh 40 years ago? What did these four guys, none of whom could even read music, do that had never been done before? Why has the music remained far more popular than anything else produced back then (or since)? Here's a book that finally tries to explain why their compositions rose above the background noise.
Even if I only skim the denser sections, and don't take the time to explore all the author's examples, I think that this will be a fascinating read.

Volume II covers the period from Revolver through Anthology.
p.s. 9/22
One thing I just discovered is that reading this book requires that you also purchase the "Beatles: Complete Scores" book (published by Hal Leonard), which is an oversized 1100-page hardcover collection of full transcriptions of all known Beatles recordings. The BaM text refers constantly to measure markings in the Scores book (as well as timing positions in the EMI recordings), so without it, you're lost.

The good news is that you can find copies of "Scores" on Amazon for just under $51. That's not exactly pocket change, but it's pretty reasonable for a book that size. Just ordered my copy.

IAC, I have started to read BaM Vol One and I'm surprised by how thoroughly it discusses the 1950s Quarry Men-period Lennon-McCartney compositions. It goes through dozens of them (in chronological order) and includes a half-dozen score excerpts, even comparing versions heard on different home recordings. Did you know, for example, that McCartney wrote "When I'm 64"
(the music, not the lyrics) when he was 16 years old? It was one of his first compositions.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Rethinking the Runoff, New York Times

Published: September 18, 2005

Call it the run-on primary. The results of last week's election to
choose a Democratic challenger to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg have
politicians, the public and good-government groups pondering whether a
process envisioned as a vehicle for electoral reform needs fixing or has
even run its course.

Runoffs were in store for Herman Badillo, center left in top photo, and
Abraham D. Beame in 1973, and for Edward I. Koch and Mario M. Cuomo,
center photo, in 1977. But Ruth W. Messinger avoided a runoff with Al
Sharpton in 1997.

For the fourth time in nine mayoral races, the preliminary returns
suggested that no candidate had reached the 40 percent threshold
required to avoid an automatic runoff between the top two vote-getters.
But this time, with Fernando Ferrer tottering only 250 votes shy of that
threshold, according to the earliest unofficial count, Representative
Anthony D. Weiner decided, in the interests of his party and his own
political future, to defer to Mr. Ferrer rather than mount the
potentially divisive runoff that Mr. Bloomberg's strategists had been
eagerly expecting. (While the latest count now shows Mr. Ferrer barely
over 40 percent, final results may not be known until Tuesday.)

Mr. Weiner's beau geste has flummoxed election officials who are
debating whether having a runoff is legally up to the voters or the
candidates. The decision will depend, in part, on the official vote
count, which politicians have been known to interpret flexibly in the
past for less noble purposes. That potential legal anomaly is prompting
a reassessment of the entire primary runoff process.

Runoffs were instituted in the 1970's in part to assure that a candidate
had wide support from the party before heading into a general election.
Otherwise, in a field of many Democratic candidates, a politician with a
relatively low number of votes could emerge as the party's nominee.

But for the Democrats in recent years, runoffs have increasingly bred
division - often along racial and ethnic fault lines. In fact, a runoff,
or the threat of one, contributed to the defeat of the candidate of the
city's Democratic majority by a Republican in the last two mayoral

It's arguable, meanwhile, whether runoffs have met their stated goal of
producing the most representative candidates.

Calls for a runoff were raised in 1965 after Abraham D. Beame won a
four-way mayoral primary with 327,934 votes, which, with 32 percent of
Democrats voting, meant that only about 14 percent of enrolled party
members voted for him. He was defeated that year by John V. Lindsay, a
liberal Republican congressman.

The real impetus for runoffs was the 1969 primary victory of Mario A.
Procaccino, who tapped into the rage of middle-class white voters
outside Manhattan who were rebelling against Mayor Lindsay's brand of
liberalism and perceived favoritism toward blacks and Hispanics.
Procaccino led a five-man field with 33 percent of the vote but was
anathema to many liberal and mainstream Democrats: "If you think my
record is that of a bigot, you're out of your mind, your cotton-picking
mind," he declared. He lost to Mr. Lindsay, the incumbent (he had been
defeated in his own Republican primary and won on the Liberal Party line).

After the recommendation of a bipartisan mayoral panel, whose members
included Herman Badillo, the former Bronx borough president, the
Legislature imposed a runoff, effective in 1973. Even before the
election, Mr. Procaccino challenged its constitutionality, arguing, "How
is a poor guy like myself to run in two elections?"

He lost the lawsuit and did not run again for mayor, but Mr. Badillo
did. In the 1973 primary, he finished second, with 29 percent, to Mr.
Beame's 34 percent. Mr. Badillo, like Mr. Ferrer a Puerto Rican, was
defeated after a raucous runoff (some Beame followers, masquerading as
fired-up Badillo supporters, brandished bongo drums in white
neighborhoods; then, when the diminutive Mr. Beame accused him of
racism, Mr. Badillo responded fatally, "You are a malicious little man").

Four years later, Edward I. Koch finished first in a seven-candidate
mayoral primary, with only 20 percent, and won a runoff against Mario M.
Cuomo, who had 19 percent. Mr. Koch went on to win that November. In
1989, Mr. Koch was defeated for the nomination by David N. Dinkins, who
was renominated without a runoff in 1993.

But it is only in recent elections that the runoff has actually
undermined Democrats, producing bitter feelings that endured and often
exposing searing racial divisions within the party and contributing to
their successive defeats in November general elections.

In 1997, Ruth W. Messinger was nearly plunged into a runoff against the
Rev. Al Sharpton (she got 39 percent in the preliminary count), but
eight days later absentee ballots helped her squeak past 40 percent. He
sued, claiming fraud. The lawsuit was dismissed, but the damage was
done. The long count weakened Ms. Messinger, and the charges by Mr.
Sharpton left black voters, in particular, disaffected. Whatever her
chances before the primary, she lost the general election to the
incumbent, Rudolph W. Giuliani, a Republican.

In 2001, Mr. Ferrer won the Democratic primary but lost an acrimonious
runoff to Mark Green. Lingering anger by Mr. Ferrer's supporters is
believed to have seriously damaged Mr. Green in the general election,
and he was defeated by Mr. Bloomberg, then a novice politician.

If some people think the system seems broken, there is no shortage of
solutions for fixing it.

Among the earliest suggestions in the 1960's was for a runoff if too
small a proportion of the electorate turned out. The present system has
not improved turnout, to be sure. Last week, Mr. Ferrer received 182,428
votes, with about 17 percent of Democrats voting, which means that about
7 percent of the city's Democrats actually voted for him.

Mr. Green has proposed having an earlier primary and runoff because a
late September runoff leaves too little time to raise money and campaign
effectively for a contested race in November. He and a number of
politicians would also impose an instant runoff, a form of preferential
balloting, in which voters can rank their choices in the primary. In
other states, that system has passed muster with federal voting rights

The runoff now also applies to the two other citywide offices,
comptroller and public advocate, but Jerry H. Goldfeder, a professor of
election law at Fordham Law School, would broaden it. Scott Stringer was
nominated for Manhattan borough president last week with 26 percent of
the 147,650 votes cast, or about 4 percent of Manhattan's voting-age

Another stated reason for runoffs was that they might increase black and
Hispanic representation by encouraging multiethnic and racial
coalitions. That rationale was frequently challenged; Mr. Badillo
contends he might have won without a runoff in 1973 and testified in a
civil rights challenge that the process discriminated against candidates
with less money and encouraged negative campaigning (the money problem
has been mitigated by public campaign financing).

Mr. Badillo now favors the runoff. "It will require that you build up a
larger constituency to win the election rather than a particular group
you are appealing to," he said.

Mr. Sharpton, who was opposed to a runoff until he almost found himself
qualifying for one in 1997 against Ms. Messinger, these days opposes
runoffs. "It gives an advantage to the opposing party, and it only slows
down the process," he said.

In fact, leading black political officials and strategists are of mixed
mind as to whether runoffs help or hinder minority candidates,
particularly now that non-Hispanic white voters will be a minority for
the first time this year.

"The playing field has leveled," said Bill Lynch, an adviser to Mr.
Ferrer. "It's hard to say whether a runoff helps or hurts so-called
minorities. You're finding minority candidates very much players in the
regular election."

But Mr. Green argues that there is one compelling reason to keep runoffs
- the same one advanced two years ago when the mayor proposed to scrap
the primary system and replace it with nonpartisan elections, including
a runoff.

"The argument that you don't want a wacko unrepresentative candidate of
the party because he or she gets 21 percent far exceeds any competing
arguments, especially since it's not at all clear that the runoff system
is antiminority," he said. "Beame beat a minority, Green beat a
minority, Dinkins and Ferrer won outright. Of the four examples, it's
two to two."

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Scum victimize Katrina contributors

@ A new low in phishing
There are always people who will take advantage of tragic situations so it is no real surprise that we’re seeing spam and phishing making use of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

We’ve seen various spam messages using keywords like New Orleans and Katrina in an attempt to by-pass filters. Some are fake news message. Others are ‘stock tips’ for companies that will supposedly benefit from the clean-up or rebuilding contracts.

A message arrived a short time ago that is a new low in scamming and so offends us that we’re sending this special warning.

It appears to be a message from Amazon suggesting that you make a donation to the American Red Cross for victims of Katrina. But the message does NOT come from Amazon at all.

The From: address is faked to make it seem to come from Amazon. The look of the message copies the style used by Amazon and the wording is mostly lifted from the real Amazon appeal on their web site.

But the link in the email isn’t to the Amazon site, instead it goes to another web site – though the link uses the Amazon web address in it to make the url look more legitimate. Tracing the link takes us to the details for the “ China Railway Telecommunications Center “ in Beijing which could be real or just a front.

As with other phishing scams, the link takes you to a site that looks legitimate and lures you into entering your account, password or credit card details.

We picked this particular message as spam because it was sent to an address that we don’t use with Amazon, otherwise it would not have immediately rung any alarm bells. Having seen the messages on the real Amazon site it looked sincere.

The moral of this story is to NEVER use links in email messages from banks, online stores etc. If an email prompts you to action, ignore the link in the email and enter the normal link etc in your browser. Anything you need should show up on the home page or after you login to your account yourself.

For example, there are many phishing scams pretending to come from Paypal. They usually say there’s some security or other problem which needs to be fixed with a bogus link. If you think any such message might be real (almost certainly it won’t be real) then go to and login to your account (ie ignore the link in the email, even if it looks OK). When logging into your account, the Paypal system will automatically tell you of anything you need to do or update on your account.

Sadly there’s no point in complaining to the company being spoofed – it’s not their fault and there’s little they can do to stop messages going out in their name. The authorities might close the web link being used but by the time they’ve done that, people have been tricked and the baddies are long gone.

@ Donations Welcome
Of course, we’re not suggesting that you do not donate to the various appeals for victims of recent events. But you do have to be careful about any email solicitation like this and scams generally.

Amazon were quick to respond with a scheme to donate using your normal account details direct to the American Red Cross. Go here for details.mMoney will go direct to the American Red Cross.

The Salvation Army is doing their usual amazing job.

Death & Bush -Doctorow

An essay attributed to writer E.L Doctorow

I fault this president (George W. Bush) for not knowing what death is. He does not suffer the death of our 21-year-olds who wanted to be all they could be.

On the eve of D-day in 1944 General Eisenhower prayed to God for the lives of the young soldiers he knew were going to die. He knew what death was. Even in a justifiable war, a war not of choice but of necessity, a war of survival, the cost was almost more than Eisenhower could bear.

But this president does not know what death is. He hasn't the mind for it. You see him joking with the press, peering under the table for the WMDs he can't seem to find, you see him at rallies strutting up to the stage in shirt sleeves to the roar of the carefully screened crowd, smiling and waving, triumphal, a he-man. He does not mourn. He doesn't understand why he should mourn. He is satisfied during the course of a speech written for him to look solemn for a moment and speak of the brave young Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

But you study him, you look into his eyes and know he dissembles an emotion which he does not feel in the depths of his being because he has no capacity for it. He does not feel a personal responsibility for the thousand dead young men and women who wanted be all they could be.

They come to his desk not as youngsters with mothers and fathers or wives and children who will suffer to the end of their days a terribly torn fabric of familial relationships and the inconsolable remembrance of aborted life.... They come to his desk as a political liability which is why the press is not permitted to photograph the arrival of their coffins from Iraq.

How then can he mourn? To mourn is to express regret and he regrets nothing. He does not regret that his reason for going to war was, as he knew, unsubstantiated by the facts. He does not regret that his bungled plan
for the war's aftermath has made of his mission-accomplished a disaster. He does not regret that rather than controlling terrorism his war in Iraq has licensed it.

So he never mourns for the dead and crippled youngsters who have fought this war of his choice. He wanted to go to war and he did. He had not the mind to perceive the costs of war, or to listen to those who knew those
costs. He did not understand that you do not go to war when it is one of the options, but when it is the only option; you go not because you want to but because you have to.

This president knew it would be difficult for Americans not to cheer the overthrow of a foreign dictator. He knew that much. This president and his supporters would seem to have a mind for only one thing --- to take power,
to remain in power, and to use that power for the sake of themselves and their friends. A war will do that as well as anything. You become a wartime leader. The country gets behind you. Dissent becomes inappropriate.

And so he does not drop to his knees, he is not contrite, he does not sit in the church with the grieving parents and wives and children.

He is the President who does not feel. He does not feel for the families of the dead; he does not feel for the 35 million of us who live in poverty; he does not feel for the 40 percent who cannot afford health insurance; he does not feel for the miners whose lungs are turning black or for the working people he has deprived of the chance to work overtime at time-and-a-half to pay their bills --- it is amazing for how many people in this country this President does not feel.

But he will dissemble feeling. He will say in all sincerity he is relieving the wealthiest one percent of the population of their tax burden for the sake of the rest of us, and that he is polluting the air we breathe for the sake of our economy, and that he is decreasing the safety regulations for coal mines to save the coal miners' jobs, and that he is depriving workers of their time-and-a- half benefits for overtime because this is actually a way to honor them by raising them into the professional class.

And this litany of lies he will versify with reverences for God and the flag and democracy, when just what he and his party are doing to our democracy is choking the life out of it.

But there is one more terribly sad thing about all of this. I remember the millions of people here and around the world who marched against the war. It was extraordinary, that spontaneously aroused oversoul of alarm and protest that transcended national borders. Why did it happen? After all, this was not the only war anyone had ever seen coming. There are little wars all over the world most of the time.

But the cry of protest was the appalled understanding of millions of people that America was ceding its role as the last best hope of mankind. It was their perception that the classic archetype of democracy was morphing
into a rogue nation. The greatest democratic republic in history was turning its back on the future, using its extraordinary power and standing not to advance the ideal of a concordance of civilizations but to endorse the kind of tribal combat that originated with the Neanderthals, a people, now extinct, who could imagine ensuring their survival by no other means than pre-emptive war.

The president we get is the country we get. With each president the nation is conformed spiritually. He is the artificer of our malleable national soul. He proposes not only the laws but the kinds of lawlessness that govern
our lives and invoke our responses. The people he appoints are cast in his image. The trouble they get into and get us into, is his characteristic trouble.

Finally the media amplify his character into our moral weather report. He becomes the face of our sky, the conditions that prevail: How can we sustain ourselves as the United States of America given the stupid and ineffective warmaking, the constitutionally insensitive lawgiving, and the monarchal economics of this president? He cannot mourn but is a figure of such moral vacancy as to make us mourn for ourselves.

E.L. Doctorow

Edgar Lawrence Doctorow occupies a central position in the history of American literature. He is generally considered to be among the most talented, ambitious, and admired novelists of the second half of the 20th century. Doctorow has received the National Book Award, two National Book Critics Circle Awards, the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Edith Wharton Citation for Fiction, the William Dean Howell Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the residentially conferred National Humanities Medal.

Doctorow was born in New York City on January 6, 1931. After graduating with honors from Kenyon College in 1952, he did graduate work at Columbia University and served in the U.S. Army. Doctorow was senior editor for New American Library from 1959 to 1964 and then served as editor in chief at Dial Press until 1969. Since then, he has devoted his time to writing and teaching. He holds the Glucksman Chair in American Letters at New York University and over the years has taught at several institutions, including Yale University Drama School, Princeton University, Sarah Lawrence College, and the University of California, Irvine.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Open Letter to W

OUR OPINIONS: An open letter to the President
from the Times Picayune, New Orleans, LA

Dear Mr. President:

We heard you loud and clear Friday when you visited our devastated city and the Gulf Coast and said, "What is not working, we’re going to make it right."

Please forgive us if we wait to see proof of your promise before believing you. But we have good reason for our skepticism.

Bienville built New Orleans where he built it for one main reason: It’s accessible. The city between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain was easy to reach in 1718.

How much easier it is to access in 2005 now that there are interstates and bridges, airports and helipads, cruise ships, barges, buses and diesel-powered trucks.

Despite the city’s multiple points of entry, our nation’s bureaucrats spent days after last week’s hurricane wringing their hands, lamenting the fact that they could neither rescue the city’s stranded victims nor bring them food, water and medical supplies.

Meanwhile there were journalists, including some who work for The Times-Picayune, going in and out of the city via the Crescent City Connection. On Thursday morning, that crew saw a caravan of 13 Wal-Mart tractor trailers headed into town to bring food, water and supplies to a dying city.

Television reporters were doing live reports from downtown New Orleans streets. Harry Connick Jr. brought in some aid Thursday, and his efforts were the focus of a "Today" show story Friday morning.

Yet, the people trained to protect our nation, the people whose job it is to quickly bring in aid were absent. Those who should have been deploying troops were singing a sad song about how our city was impossible to reach.

We’re angry, Mr. President, and we’ll be angry long after our beloved city and surrounding parishes have been pumped dry. Our people deserved rescuing. Many who could have been were not. That’s to the government’s shame.

Mayor Ray Nagin did the right thing Sunday when he allowed those with no other alternative to seek shelter from the storm inside the Louisiana Superdome. We still don’t know what the death toll is, but one thing is certain: Had the Superdome not been opened, the city’s death toll would have been higher. The toll may even have been exponentially higher.

It was clear to us by late morning Monday that many people inside the Superdome would not be returning home. It should have been clear to our government, Mr. President. So why weren’t they evacuated out of the city immediately? We learned seven years ago, when Hurricane Georges threatened, that the Dome isn’t suitable as a long-term shelter. So what did state and national officials think would happen to tens of thousands of people trapped inside with no air conditioning, overflowing toilets and dwindling amounts of food, water and other essentials?

State Rep. Karen Carter was right Friday when she said the city didn’t have but two urgent needs: "Buses! And gas!" Every official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency should be fired, Director Michael Brown especially.

In a nationally televised interview Thursday night, he said his agency hadn’t known until that day that thousands of storm victims were stranded at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. He gave another nationally televised interview the next morning and said, "We’ve provided food to the people at the Convention Center so that they’ve gotten at least one, if not two meals, every single day."

Lies don’t get more bald-faced than that, Mr. President.

Yet, when you met with Mr. Brown Friday morning, you told him, "You’re doing a heck of a job."

That’s unbelievable.

There were thousands of people at the Convention Center because the riverfront is high ground. The fact that so many people had reached there on foot is proof that rescue vehicles could have gotten there, too.

We, who are from New Orleans, are no less American than those who live on the Great Plains or along the Atlantic Seaboard. We’re no less important than those from the Pacific Northwest or Appalachia. Our people deserved to be rescued.

No expense should have been spared. No excuses should have been voiced. Especially not one as preposterous as the claim that New Orleans couldn’t be reached.

Mr. President, we sincerely hope you fulfill your promise to make our beloved communities work right once again.

When you do, we will be the first to applaud.

Labor Day 2005: September 5

Labor Day 2005: Sept. 5

The first observance of Labor Day is believed to have been a parade on Sept. 5, 1882, in New York City, probably organized by Peter J. McGuire, a Carpenters and Joiners Union secretary. By 1893, more than half the states were observing a "Labor Day" on one day or another, and a bill to establish a federal holiday was passed by Congress in 1894. President Grover Cleveland signed the bill soon afterward, designating the first Monday in September as Labor Day.

Who Are We Celebrating?

149.1 million
Number of people age 16 or older in the nation's labor force in May 2005. Among the nation's workers are 80.0 million men and 69.1 million women. These men and women represent 66 percent of the civilian noninstitutionalized adult population.

Employee Benefits

Percentage of full-time workers age 18 to 64 covered by health insurance during all or part of 2003.

Percentage of workers in private industry who receive a paid vacation as one of their employment benefits. In addition -

* 79 percent of workers receive paid holidays.
* 18 percent have access to employer assistance for child care.
* fewer than 10 percent have access to subsidies for commuting,
telework opportunities and adoption assistance.
* 11 percent have access to long-term care insurance.

See Table 630, 2004-2005 edition.

Another Day, Another Dollar

$40,668 and $30,724
The annual median earnings, respectively, for male and female full-time, year-round workers in 2003.

Average weekly wage in New York County, N.Y., for the third quarter of 2004, the highest among the nation's 317 largest counties. St. Joseph County, Ind., led the nation in growth of average weekly wages over the third quarter 2003-2004 period, with an increase of 10.4 percent. <>

Our Jobs

Americans work in a wide variety of occupations. Here is a sampling:

Occupation/Number of employees
Gaming services workers/85,000
Hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists/718,000
Chefs and head cooks/281,000
Musicians, singers and related workers/179,000
Taxi drivers and chauffeurs/286,000
Service station attendants/96,000
Farmers and ranchers/825,000
Teachers/6.5 million

See Table 597, 2004-2005 edition.

7.3 million
Number of workers who hold down more than one job. So-called moonlighters comprise 5 percent of the working population. Of these moonlighters, 3.8 million
work full time at their primary job and part time at their other job,
and about 293,000 work full time at both jobs. See Table 590, 2004-2005 edition.

10.3 million
Number of self-employed workers.
See Table 586, 2004-2005 edition

20.3 million
Number of female workers in educational, health and social services industries. More women work in this industry group than in any other. Manufacturing was the most popular industry among men, with 11.3 million workers.

Percentage of workers 16 or older who work more than 40 hours a week. Eight percent work 60 or more hours a week. Table 584, 2004-2005 edition.

15.8 million
Number of labor union members nationwide. About 13 percent of wage and salary workers belong to unions, with New York having among the highest rates of any state - 25 percent. North Carolina has one of the lowest rates, 3 percent. Table 640, 2004-2005 edition.

Number of jobs added in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Ariz., between September 2003 and September 2004, the highest of the nation's 317 largest counties. Among these counties, Rutherford, Tenn., experienced the highest rate of job growth, 9.2 percent.

4.5 million
The number of people who work at home.

The Long and Winding Road - to Work
24.3 minutes
The average time it takes to commute to work.

Of the 233 counties with populations of 250,000 or more, Queens (41.7 minutes), Richmond (41.3 minutes), Bronx (40.8 minutes) and Kings (39.7 minutes) - four of the five counties that comprise New York City - experienced the longest average commute-to-work times. Workers living in Prince William County, Va. (36.4 minutes); and Prince George's County, Md. (35.5 minutes) - suburban counties located within the Washington, D.C., metro area - also faced some of the longest commutes.

More Than 100 hours
The amount of time the average American spends commuting to work each year. (This exceeds the typical two weeks of vacation time taken by many U.S. workers over the course of a year.)

Percentage of workers nationwide who face "extreme" commutes to work - that is, they spend 90 or more minutes traveling to their jobs.

Among the 10 counties with the highest-average commuting times, the highest percentages of extreme commuters were found in the New York City metro area: Richmond, N.Y. (11.8 percent); Orange, N.Y. (10.0 percent); Queens, N.Y. (7.1 percent); Bronx, N.Y. (6.9 percent); Nassau, N.Y., (6.6 percent); and Kings, N.Y. (5.0 percent).