Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Thirty-three years after Watergate

In June of 1972, five men were arrested breaking into the Democratic National Headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C. They were there to make repairs to electronic bugs they had planted previously.

In the months that followed, Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein would eventually link the breakin to the White House while being fed inside information by a source identified only as "Deepthroat" named for pornstar Linda Lovelace. We now know that Deepthroat's true identity is W. Mark Felt, a high-ranking FBI official in the 70's.

The political dirty tricks of the 1972 election and the coverup in the aftermath would ultimately force Richard M. Nixon to resign the Presidency in the summer of 1974.

Questions: How big was Watergate, really? If it were to occur today, rather than in the early 70's, would it be enough to force a President to resign?

Pajaro Dunes sunset

Our close friends, Pat and Jeff, invited us to their beach condo near Watsonville, CA for some great companionship, food, sun, sand and, OK, maybe just a little wine. A fine way to spend part of our Memorial Day Weekend. Thanks guys!

Sunday evening we stepped out onto the beach to watch the sun go down and I took the opportunity to snap a few pix. I had already clicked off two or three fine sunset photos when Mrs. THC suggested that she might do a better job. I handed over the camera and she took just one photo. It is displayed above. She has a pretty good eye, huh?

Monday, May 30, 2005

Happy Anniversary!

Nineteen years ago, nearly to the minute, Mary walked down the aisle and we said our vows to become Mr. and Mrs. THC. Happy anniversary, dear.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Short your house

What if the U.S. housing market really is a bubble? And what if it is about to take a big nose-dive? What then?

Even though many economists and loads of homeowners agree that today's housing market bears remarkable resemblances to tech stocks five years ago, there's just not much that most folks can do about it. If your exposure to real estate is your own home, you're not likely to sell now just so you might be able to buy a bigger or better one in a couple of years. Where do you live in the meantime? And if you're waiting for prices to fall to buy a home, how do you know where the bottom is? What if a correction never comes and your dream home just keeps getting farther away?

Robert Shiller, a Yale finance professor and author of "Irrational Exuberance" just might have the solution. He is a lead figure at Macro Securities Research.
The New York research group has developed financial instruments--called "MACROs"--–that will be tied to a housing index that tracks property values in certain cities. By purchasing Up MACROs or Down MACROs, investors would be able to place bets on whether a property market is going to keep rising, or whether it's going to fizzle.

In effect, speculators could play the bubble: They could short the City of Angels and go long on the Big Apple, or vice versa. Homeowners in bubbly markets could hedge against a pop. They could stand to gain if the value of their homes go down. If property values keep rising, of course, the homeowners lose on their MACRO investments -- but at least their homes would be worth more.
MACRO has filed plans for the new securities with the Securities and Exchange Commission and hopes to have them begin trading on the American Stock Exchange later this year.

Anyone interested in hedging the value of your house? What markets would you short, betting values will fall and which markets would you go long, betting prices will rise?

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Hot weather and barbeque

Memorial Day weekend, the ceremonial start of summer. Since moving to California a few years back, there are two things that I miss about summertime in Kansas City, hot weather and barbeque.

Now I do appreciate the mild temps of the Bay Area most of the year, but in the summertime I crave the kind of weather that gets folks to dust off the sunscreen and shorts. And as Mark Twain said, "The coldest winter I ever spent was one summer in San Francisco." The forecast for San Francisco today is 59 degrees. That's just wrong!

When it comes to barbeque, Bay Area folks don't really get it. Tossing a few burgers on the grill is not "having a barbeque", that's just grilling.

barbeque n 1: meat that has been barbecued or grilled in a highly seasoned sauce.

It's all about the sauce and there's just not a good selection in stores here. Gonna have to get back to K.C. and fill a suitcase.

Anyway, enough of this rant. It's Memorial Day weekend, enjoy! And I hope you have some hot weather and barbeque to help you celebrate.

Friday, May 27, 2005

The housing market--what will kill the boom?

At Berkshire Hathaway's shareholder meeting earlier this month, Warren Buffet commented on the housing market:
People go crazy in economics periodically, in all kinds of ways. Residential housing has different behavioral characteristics, simply because people live there. But when you get prices increasing faster than the underlying costs, sometimes there can be pretty serious consequences.
So much has already been said, written, predicted, speculated and surmised about the possibility of a "bubble" in housing, why not add even more rhetorical kindling to the fire? Here goes.

The most widely held belief has been that higher interest rates would bring about the demise of the boom. But Greenspan's Fed has tripled short-term rates in their last eight meetings and long-term rates have barely budged. So, if mortgages stay cheap, could the bubble still burst?

UCLA economics professor Edward Leamer believes such a scenario is already in the works: a flattening yield curve.
With long-term rates as sluggish as sea cows and Greenspan & Co. relentlessly raising short term rates, the gap between the two has tightened to nearly nothing. When the spread was very wide, banks raked in profits by borrowing at super-low short-term rates and then lending at high long-term rates. When the spread narrows, their margins get pinched, and they have less incentive to lend. Also, they have less extra cash to cover defaults, so they scrutinize new borrowers more carefully.
Fewer borrowers mean fewer buyers, and you don't need a UCLA economics professor to figure out the rest.
There are so many similarities between the housing market of '05 and tech stocks in early 2000. Are we headed for a bust? Is there anything we can do to stop it?

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Right on the left coast

From the SF Chronicle:
Thousands of public employees staged the biggest political rallies of the year at the state Capitol and in Los Angeles on Wednesday, charging that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's policy agenda shortchanges schoolchildren and undermines the fabric of California's poor and middle class.
Darren, a Sacramento area teacher was there and has this account of one of his experiences at Right on the Left Coast: Views from a Conservative Teacher. It's disgraceful that off-duty police officers would threaten someone for disagreeing with them politically.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

KSU slackers

Along the banks of the Kansas River in Manhattan, home of Kansas State University, is an interesting sight. There, amid the lush green foliage, are the giant white letters "KS". Now, not a rocket scientist myself, but I'm inclined to think that the hillside initials are incomplete. Just where is the "U" that should follow the "S"? Did the artists run out of rocks or white paint? Perhaps the semester ended before they could finish? Or, as my friend Jim at The Shaggy Dog suggests, maybe they're just slackers.

As a graduate of the rival University of Kansas, I like the "slacker" explanation.

Click here for the Google aerial photo.

Thanks, Jim!

Give yourself a big raise

So what do you do, as a California state legislator, when the coffers are $22 billion in the red and the forcast for next year is an additional $5 billion shortfall? You give yourself a raise, of course!
On Monday, an independent state commission granted legislators a 12 percent pay increase, boosting their annual salaries for the first time since 1998. Beginning in December, lawmakers in both houses will see their salaries increase from $99,000 to $110,880 — the highest compensation in the country for state legislators.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Massachusettes arrogance

Back on January 30th, John Kerry promised to sign Form SF 180 to allow the release of his military records during an interview with Tim Russert on "Meet the Press". Well, he's finally signed the form...he just hasn't submitted it to the Navy yet.

From the Boston Globe:
'I have signed it," Kerry said. Then, he added that his staff was ''still going through it" and ''very, very shortly, you will have a chance to see it."
Six months after Kerry's loss to George W. Bush, it feels somewhat gratuitous to point out how hard it can be to get a clear, straight answer from Kerry on this and other matters. But as long as the Massachusetts senator is thinking about another presidential run, the candor gap remains on the table, because he puts it there.
His arrogance and disdain for Americans continues to overwhelm.

Cashing out?

It's quite tempting, when you know that your house could sell for 50-60% more than you paid for it a few short years ago. But what then? If you want to stay in the same city, everything around you has skyrocketed as well.

The California Association of Realtors has released sales figures for March and East Bay prices are way up again.

From the East Bay Business Times:
Alameda County saw its median home price hit $549,500 in March, up from March of last year's price of $441,500. The county's 24.5 percent price increase in a year's time outpaced the state's average of 15.7 percent, according to CAR's figures.
The only way that you can really win in this game is if you're willing to move to a less expensive part of the country. It's getting tempting...

Monday, May 23, 2005

Blogging Islam

The very thought that Americans might be desecrating the Koran created riots and murder while a report last week from Al-Qaida that killing innocent women and children was acceptable in the name of jihad, barely drew notice. It's no wonder confusion abounds. Does Islam really promote violence and hatred or is it just radical groups of Islamic extremists that cause comparisons to Nazism?

Three of my favorite bloggers have been engaged for the last couple of days in a debate over Islam and the ignorance many Americans have about the faith.

The discussion at Bloggledygook started with Taking Islam Seriously and has now migrated to a new post today, Seriously Responding to the Respondents.

Jim, at The Shaggy Dog, expresses his frustration in this post.

Finally, my good friend Vavoom at Tedrow Drive, describes what it is like to be an American Muslim and to feel the hatred and prejudice first hand in this post.

Read all of these posts and the accompanying comments and you are sure to come away with a broader knowledge of the problem and a better understanding of the spectrum of emotions people have. Regardless of your own feelings, I believe this is the most powerful example I've seen of the thoughtful expression and debate blogging can foster.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Clyde for Governor?

What is it about showbiz folk and politics?
Academy Award-winning actor-director Warren Beatty delivered a devastating critique of Arnold Schwarzenegger at a UC Berkeley commencement Saturday, and refused to rule out a Democratic run for governor -- saying that he would "think about it" if Schwarzenegger continues to endorse "a totally unnecessary special election."
And with her political experience, Annette Bening (Beatty's wife) would make a great first lady of California.

Friday, May 20, 2005

I'm an enterpriser

The Cafeteria Catholic links to this quiz developed by the folks at the Pew Research Center that analyzes your political typology. I took the quiz and I'm an Enterpriser.
DEFINING VALUES: Assertive on foreign policy and patriotic; anti-regulation and pro-business; very little support for government help to the poor; strong belief that individuals are responsible for their own well being. Conservative on social issues such as gay marriage, but not much more religious than the nation as a whole. Very satisfied with personal financial situation.
While my values don't match those of the group exactly, it's an interesting exercise. Take the quiz. There are nine typology groups. Which one are you?

(Sorry about the photo, I couldn't resist).

Common sense, part II

On March 19th I posted this about Elisa D. Cooper who was being sued by Kaiser Permanente for publishing patient information on her blog in apparent retaliation for being fired by the health care giant. Late yesterday I received this email from Elisa.

Hi -

I'm the person that's been "squaring off" against

I did not sell, or attempt to sell, any patient
information on eBay. The reporter fell for an
insinuation Kaiser made in the lawsuit. I pointed out
to the reporter, Henry Lee, and I have complained to
the Chronicle about the error. The same reporter made
several major errors in a subsequent article as well.
They refuse to correct it despite the fact they
supposedly have an "immediate corrections" policy.

Your blog shows how when people read this stuff in a
reputable newspaper like the Chronicle, they just
assume it's true. From my own recent experience, I'm
never going to believe anything I see on the news and
read in the paper again. While you have no cause to
believe me one way or the other, I hope you will keep
your mind open to the idea that some reporters may be
choosing their "hot button issues" in advance, and
they look for the evidence to support that story -
even when that evidence isn't there.

--- Elisa
Today I took some time to read other publications' accounts of the story and learned that it is much more complicated than the San Francisco Chronicle made it appear. She had discovered patient data on a Kaiser website that was not firewall or password protected. She linked to it on her blog in an attempt to show how cavalier Kaiser was being with internet security.

As for trying to sell patient information on eBay, the Chronicle just might have made it up. It wouldn't be the first time.

Good luck with your battle, Elisa.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

No swiping

According to this Associated Press story:
JPMorgan Chase & Co. said Thursday it will offer a new credit card that allows users to pay for items by holding the card near a terminal instead of manually swiping it.
As I read this story I was immediately reminded of something I saw while on the elevator in my office building recently. As you get off of the elevator, you have to hold a security card up to a reader to unlock the heavy doors leading out of the elevator foyer. We've all used cards like this and I've often seen women just hold their purses up to the reader. But the other day I saw a man hold his wallet up, only without taking it out of his back pocket. He just turned around and put his butt up to the card reader.

Imagine what life might look like if these new credit cards catch on.


Am I the only one bothered that, here in the United States of America, I have to tell the ATM that I want my instructions in English?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Roth 401(k)

Beginning in January of 2006, employers will have the option to offer employees a Roth 401(k). That is, a 401(k) plan with the features and benefits of Roth IRAs.

Employees would have the option of contributing up to $15,000 per year ($20,000 for those over 50) on an after-tax basis. The kicker, like in a Roth IRA, is that all of your money could be taken out tax-free. For example, let's say you contribute $10,000 to a Roth 401(k) next year and never contribute another dime. We'll assume a 7% annual return and it stays invested until you retire in 30 years. Your account is now worth over $76,000 and you can take it all without paying a dime in income tax--you receive $66,000 that Uncle Sam never gets his mitts on.

In a traditional 401(k) plan, your contributions are not taxed as income when you earn it but it are taxed, along with all earnings, when you take it out. A $10,000 contribution could save you $2,800 (28% tax bracket) today, but, using 7% for 30 years like above, your $76,000 will all be taxed in retirement.

Too much of a good thing? Here are a couple of things to know. Most employers don't know about it and will not likely offer it to employees unless they are aware of an interest--talk to your employer. Also, this is part of a tax act that expires at the end of 2010, so unless Congress extends it, it's gone after five years.

Power outage

Electrical power was lost for much of downtown this afternoon including my office building. I hung around for awhile but, as it turns out, I really can't address many of my responsibilities without a phone, computer or lights to read by. Great excuse to leave early.

There was one elevator running on emergency power but I didn't want to risk being stuck in a dark box if it failed and, being a bit of a fitness nut, I decided to hike the stairs. Twenty-two floors. My legs were a bit wobbly for awhile.

Sicker and sicker

This whole Wendy's chili finger thing just gets more and more bizarre.
The Las Vegas man whose severed fingertip ended up in a cup of Wendy's chili gave his mangled digit to a co-worker to settle a $50 debt -- but had no idea it would be used in an alleged scheme to swindle the fast-food chain, the man's mother said Tuesday.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Fightin' words

According to the Associated Press, Al-Qaida posted an internet statement today blasting Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and calling her a hag.

Alright. They've blown up the World Trade Center towers and part of the Pentagon. They've beheaded innocent civilians and posted the video on the internet. They have terrorized the Iraqi people and people around the world and killed thousands with cowardly suicide bombs.

But calling Condi a hag...them's fightin' words. Now I'm really pissed.

Media and the military

An editorial in today's Wall Street Journal suggests that Newsweek's blunderous story about flushing a Koran wasn't an honest mistake. Rather it's part of a basic media mistrust for the military that goes back to Vietnam. The editorial concludes:
We have all been reading a great deal lately about both the decline of media credibility, and the decline of both TV news viewership and newspaper circulation. Any other industry looking at such trends would conclude that perhaps there is a connection. Certainly a press corps that wants readers to forgive its own mistakes might start by showing a little more respect and understanding for the men and women who risk their lives to defend the country.

Monday, May 16, 2005


Throwing chairs, throwing cellphones, throwing beer and throwing punches. All just part of professional sports, right? Not just for pros anymore.
Rohnert Park police are seeking criminal charges against as many as 10 people following a bloody melee over the weekend at a girls rugby tournament during which two coaches and a referee were beaten so badly that one was knocked unconscious in fighting that spread from adults to the teenage players.
Professional sports have set such a great example, is it any wonder that there's now violence in high school girls' sports?

Buy direct and save

In 1933 the Constitutional Amendment that ended prohibition gave birth to a three-tiered distribution system: liquor producer to licensed wholesaler to licensed retailer, with great powers given to the individual states. This system enabled states to track and tax alcoholic beverages and, in many states, control pricing. The Supreme Court ruling today throws a wrench in the crusher.
The Supreme Court ruled today, in a case of interest to millions of wine-drinkers and those who make a living in the multibillion-dollar industry, that people can buy wine directly from out-of-state vineyards.
Those arguing against this "direct from producer to consumer" ruling insisted that it would enhance minors access to alcohol. The Supremes weren't buying it.

But the ruling raises a couple of interesting questions. Why couldn't retailers now buy directly from producers, eliminating the wholesaler altogether and reducing prices to consumers? For that matter, why couldn't consumers buy beer and liquor directly from producers too?

I'm the guy with a pallet of Dewar's being delivered on my driveway.

Red and blue, rich and poor

In this op-ed piece in Sunday's NYT, David Brooks cites a Pew Research Center study to support what he has sensed about rich people and poor people for a long time.

The educated-class liberals, who make up about 19 percent of the electorate, and the business-class conservatives, about 11 percent, are pretty well represented by their political parties and are not likely to change. But poorer voters are more conflicted and not well-represented by either party and it's this lower middle class that could swing future elections.

Poorer folks have already had such an impact. In 2004, George W. Bush won the white working class by 23 percentage points. Why have so many working class voters aligned themselves with the GOP?
These working-class folk like the G.O.P.'s social and foreign policies, but the big difference between poor Republicans and poor Democrats is that the former believe that individuals can make it on their own with hard work and good character.

According to the Pew study, 76 percent of poor Republicans believe most people can get ahead with hard work. Only 14 percent of poor Democrats believe that. Poor Republicans haven't made it yet, but they embrace what they take to be the Republican economic vision - that it is in their power to do so. Poor Democrats are more likely to believe they are in the grip of forces beyond their control.
Brooks concludes with the assertion that Republicans haven't yet figured out how to explore their biggest growth market, but they will have to in order to compete with Hillary Clinton who is already very popular with poor Republicans.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Where's the outrage?

Mexican President Vicente Fox made an interesting comment about our immigration problems on Friday.
"There's no doubt that the Mexican men and women _ full of dignity, willpower and a capacity for work _ are doing the work that not even blacks want to do in the United States," Fox told a meeting of the Texas-Mexico Frozen Food Council in the western city of Puerto Vallarta on Friday.
Even more interesting was Jesse Jackson's response to it.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson told CNN that the comments were "unwitting, unnecessary and inappropriate."
What? That's it? That's all Jackson had to say about one of the most racist comments from a politician since George Wallace? I guess you have to be an American Republican to get one of Jackson's full-blown, fire and brimstone demands for resignation.

Bernard Higgins at A Certain Slant of Light has more in this post and this one. And Daniel at Bloggledygook has some interesting perspective as well.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

New to my blogroll

Blogging around recently I've discovered a couple of fun and interesting blogs that I've now added to my blogroll. Fred's World and i love a rainy night... have become frequent stops for me--check 'em out.

Friday, May 13, 2005


I think we all suspected from the very beginning that Anna Ayala was perpetrating a scam against Wendy's, but now it's all over but the guilty plea.
The finger found in a bowl of Wendy's chili belongs to an acquaintance of the husband of Anna Ayala, the 39-year-old Las Vegas woman who claimed she had bitten into the finger, San Jose police said this morning.
The Bay Area Wendy's saw their revenues decline by 20% since the incident. Geez, all because this sick woman was looking for the easy way.

Don't know much about history

The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that some Evanston Township High School students would like a debate with Rush Limbaugh to show their knowledge of WWII after Limbaugh made some derogatory comments about their curriculum.
Rush Limbaugh said on his nationally syndicated radio show that Evanston Township High School students "don't know anything about World War II" and "they've probably never heard the name Adolf Hitler" because they're so focused on a multicultural curriculum.
I have no idea if Limbaugh's assertions have any validity, but the story reminded me that I have always felt much of the 20th century was ignored when I was in public schools. My history classes put a lot of emphasis on the colonization of America, the American Revolution and the Civil War. As a junior in high school my history class covered the 1920's and 1930's but stopped short of World War II.

Are schools today teaching much 20th century history? Does anyone else feel that there were important periods of history ignored by your schools?

Thursday, May 12, 2005

UAL and Social Security

The Wall Street Journal made an interesting point about United today.
The unions are blaming United management for the pension fiasco, and not without some cause. But they have helped to put the industry into its current state by using the whip hand they are given under the Railway Labor Act to threaten strikes and force up labor costs in the good times. Now the unions are discovering that they will lose some of the pension benefits they bargained for. The same thing will eventually happen to the Social Security benefits of workers if the AFL-CIO and AARP succeed in blocking private investment accounts.
There is really very little difference between the condition of United's defined benefit plans today and where Social Security could be in a couple of short decades unless some major renovation is made to the aging plan.

As for United, several labor unions are threatening to strike if the company goes through with its intention to default on several pension plans. That could very well be the end of United.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Head cold at 40,000 feet

We traveled to the Midwest to visit family for a long weekend and I arrived back home yesterday with a miserable cold. I didn't even feel like turning on the computer last night and now it's been days since I've posted anything.

You just haven't lived until you've flown four hours with a head full of crap. The pressure changes on take-offs and landings give you that sinus squeeze where you can't be sure if your head is going to burst or implode. It just hurts. And trying to pee in those claustrophobic lavatories while your head is throbbing and your balance is off is an adventure in itself.

Anyway, I'm staying home today to consume massive quanities of fluids and pop Sudafed and aspirin. Maybe I'll get a little blogging in between naps.

Friday, May 06, 2005

SF in the AM

I stopped and took this photo on my way to work this morning and wanted to share. I hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Red hot hybrids

The Toyota Prius is becoming one of the hottest cars in California and, following the lead set by California real estate, they're selling at a premium.
Far from sticker shocked, buyers have in the past year have paid private sellers and used car dealers $1,000 to $3,000 above the advertised price of a new 2004 or 2005 model, according to Irvine-based Kelley Blue Book, which tracks used car prices. Older Prius models are not seeing the same phenomenon.
According to the SF Chronicle, Priuses list new for $21,000-$26,000 but it's not unusual for a used one with a few thousand miles to go for $27,000 or more.

Are these cars as hot in other parts of the U.S. as they are here? Are they really that great or has it just become a status thing?

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

No police

It's been a wet spring in Northern California but today's shower was particularly annoying because it really started coming down as I was walking the two blocks from my office building to the parking garage.

While trying to avoid the puddles along the sidewalk, I heard a car on my left sliding on the wet surface and then a loud thud followed by the sound of small pieces of glass and plastic bouncing around on the asphalt. I turned to see that a Honda Accord had buried itself in the rear bumper of an older BMW. Steam was already rising from the hood of the Honda.

I stood in the rain to be sure no one was hurt and both drivers got out and appeared to be ok. The driver of the Honda, an Asian boy in his teens, seemed to be pleading with the older woman from the BMW. I couldn't hear what they were saying but I could tell she was upset so I walked into the street to see if I could help.

The Asian boy's English was quite poor but he was begging the woman not to call the police because he didn't have insurance. She asked me what to do and I told her to call 9-1-1. This made the Asian boy more upset, he pleaded, "no police, please, no police!" The woman made the call and afterwards thanked me repeatedly for stopping to help. I hung around for a couple of minutes to be sure everything was alright and then went on my way.

Now I can't help feeling sorry for the Asian boy and a little guilty for having the woman call the police. Did I make the right call? What would you have done? What would have happened if she didn't call the police?

Four dead in Ohio

The Shaggy Dog commemorates the 35th anniversary of the "Kent State Massacre".

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Republican leaders and the religious right sing different hymns

Somehow the debate over the Bush administration's judicial nominees has degenerated into a debate over religion in government. Actually it degenerated into a debate over the history and appropriateness of the filibuster first and from there it degenerated into a religion fracas. Some Democrats feel that their opposition to the nominees has been taken as an "attack on people of faith". While they might be getting this impression from leaders of the religious right, it is does not seem to be the message from the White House.

Michael Kinsley from the LA Times was impressed by Bush's remarks on the subject in last week's news conference.
Starting with the cliche that in America you can "worship any way you want," Bush plunged gratuitously into a declaration that "if you choose not to worship, you're equally as patriotic as somebody who does worship." How long has it been, in this preacher-spooked nation, since a politician, let alone the president, has spoken out in defense of nonbelievers?
The people who oppose his judgeship nominees aren't prejudiced against religion, he said. They do it because they have a different "judicial philosophy."
And Sunday's Kansas City Star had this.
Repeatedly, in recent weeks, top Republicans have tried to signal their Christian conservative allies that religious-based attacks on Democrats and the judiciary are inappropriate. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said this a week ago, on a religious right broadcast. That same day, Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina weighed in, telling Fox News: "I would call on them not to say that Democratic senators are not people of faith, or (suggesting) that they are religious bigots. I don't think that's fair."

Monday, May 02, 2005

Circulation problems

In this Associated Press story, the Washington Post reports the circulation woes of America's newspapers.
Circulation fell broadly at major newspapers in the six-month period ending in March as the industry struggled with the impact of do-not-call rules, competition from other media and the migration of readers online.
The Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and the San Francisco Chronicle each showed readership declines of over 6 percent and the average paid circulation of the 814 newspapers surveyed declined 1.9 percent.

The industry was quick to blame electronic media and the internet for the losses and the new federal do-not-call list for papers' inability to sign up new subscribers.

But what about credibility problems caused by their biased and sometime fraudulent reporting (Jayson Blair, et al)? Aren't many Americans just fed up with the quality of many newspapers?

I'm also a little intrigued by the idea that newspapers were so dependent on phone solicitation to sell subscriptions. Do a lot of people really decide to subscribe to a paper because someone called during dinner to offer a great deal on 12 months of home delivery?

Glittering grills for girls

At my high school prom it was all about the dress or the tuxedo, maybe a rented car--but that was long ago and far away.
No longer just for rappers and street toughs, gold teeth have gone to the girls. For prom or a day in the park, girls from the Bay Area to the Bayou to the Bronx are accessorizing their smiles. Bay Area makers of the removable mouthwear say teenage girls are the fastest-growing segment of their customer base.
According to the SF Chronicle, gold teeth have become the latest teen fad. I was just getting used to pink hair, tatoos and nose rings.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Filibustering hubbub

"Again and again in recent years, the filibuster has been the shame of the Senate and the last resort of special-interest groups. Too often, it has enabled a small minority of the Senate to prevent a strong majority from working its will and serving the public interest."
Ted Kennedy

"I have stated over and over again on this [Senate] floor that I would...object and fight against any filibuster on a judge."
Patrick Leahy

"[E]veryone who is nominated is entitled...to have a hearing and to...have a vote on the floor. It is not...appropriate...not to bring them to the floor and not to allow a vote."
Joe Biden

In all of the hubbub over judicial filibustering, I've forgotten to ask the all-important question, "what is it about these nominees that has Democrats' panties in a big collective knot?" Are they all just a bunch of bible-thumpin', pistol-totin', abortion-hatin' religious zealots out to destroy apple pie, motherhood and the American way of life? Isn't that what all Republicans are?

Today's Chicago Tribune has the only rundown I've seen on who the nominees are and why Democrats might oppose them.