Blog update

I've updated the links on the right with as many Ithaca related blogs I could find using Google and by searching Blogger.

The blogs are roughly ordered top to bottom as such: Local Ithaca Media > Ithaca College Blogs > Cornell and Ithaca Community Blogs > Politcal Blogs > Music Blogs.

For the Ithaca blogs, an inclusion on the links list is in no way an endorsement of the content, rather an acknowledgement of their membership in the online Ithaca community. I tried to only include blogs that stepped beyond the purely personal.

Hopefully once I get a bit more understanding of how to actually manipulate things on the web (i.e. the actual making of a webpage), I will redesign the color scheme and layout of this blog so that it is a bit easier on the eyes and sexier to look at. I'll also create clearer categories for the links on the right.

Though I've failed at following up on some of the topics I've said I'll follow up on in the past (like the Ithacan critiques), I will write tomorrow about the stabbing that occured at Cornell over the weekend.

- Glitter

Oh, and in a random aside, The Hype Machine is an all too addictive fix for my music junkie monkey. Check it out.



Well, this certainly seems to be the news item of the day. Bush is loudly suggesting that NATO should significantly increase its military presence in Sudan. That's kind of a big deal. Considering that the genocide there is quite real and quite the bruise on any serious person's moral record. I know many people who are well aware of the genocide, but not so many who have responded to the urgency of the situation, myself included. This is one of the major areas, granted there are many, that Buzzsaw has fallen short in its coverage of international events is a lack of an article about Sudan. We've had them in the works before, but for one reason or another they have always fallen through. Hopefully we will have one for the upcoming "War is Complex" issue.

Now, I don't know if this is the correct policy prescription in any form, but I do know that Bush's call does bring a very large spotlight onto the genocide. Which can only be good. Though I do worry that this may be an example of big booming words followed by much smaller action. Notice what's buried at the very end of the article:

NATO diplomats said in Brussels this week the allies would look kindly on new appeals for help for African troops in Sudan but ruled out for now a major deployment of their own.

The U.N. Security Council has authorized Annan to draw up contingency plans for U.N. peacekeepers to go into Darfur.

Annan has indicated that U.S. help in planning was not enough and emphasized he needed sophisticated logistics, such as air support and intelligence so that soldiers could get to a trouble spots in time.

Washington has been noncommittal on troops for such a mission. If there were to be any significant deployment of U.S. troops in Darfur, it would be Washington's first major foray into African peacekeeping since it quit Somalia in 1994.

Also interesting to note are the two Senators who co-sponsored the resolution "calling for NATO troops to help the African Union `stop the genocide' in the Darfur region."

Both Biden and Brownback are both seeking the White House in 2008 for their respective parties.

This is definitely a story to keep an eye on in order to play witness to whether promises and pledges are followed through on.

- Glitter

My Favorite Country Kids

With his tour in full effect, Bobby Bare, Jr is getting little bit of press. Here's a Cleveland paper's lowdown on Bobby and crew coming to town. Unfortunately, I don't think I'm going to be able to make it to Buffalo to see him, but if you can make the drive, it's sunday night and certainly worth the $8 ticket price. The Young Criminals Starvation League smoke live. Here's an Indianapolis papers' take on the man.

My new musical obsession, Hank Williams III, also has a tour coming up and an album coming out. Here's a review of his new album, Straight To Hell. Remember, as Hank III says, if you're going to buy it, don't buy the censored version from Walmart or Hank's record label, Curb. Blender has an interview with Hank III too.

- Glitter

The Ongoing NSA Program Saga

So inquiries into the NSA program are going to happen, but just not about any of the aspects of it which people are legitimately curious about. For the record, there is still a program that was authorized by the President that allows the NSA to eavesdrop on American citizens' international communications without a warrant. But now, instead of looking into whether the program infringes harshly on civil rights and civil liberties, the Republican led Congress wants to change the FISA law that the Republican president broke so that it can no longer be considered broken.

Now, I don't claim to know many details about this program, as no one really does, but apparently the deal is that Congress will change the law in order to protect a program they don't know much about other than the fact that they apparently have no oversight over it. I think Senator Wyden brings up a good point here:

Mr. Roberts and other Republicans say they are wary of an investigation into the secret program because providing information to Congress might result in leaks. But Democrats say there is no way to pass legislation involving the program until they have more information about it.

"I don't think it's possible for Congress to produce responsible bipartisan legislation dealing with a program that Congress knows very little about," Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, said.

And I agree with Senator Specter here:

"Unless they're prepared to have a determination on constitutionality as to their programs, window dressing oversight will not be sufficient."

If anyone is curious about how the White House is putting pressure on Congressional Republicans to cover for them, perhaps this will be enlightening.

Glenn Greenwald has a more optimistic take on the latest developments in the inquiries into the warrantless eavedropping program. Consider it a pep talk after the first quarter of a basketball game when the opposing team just scored a flurry of points right before the bell. These recent developments aren't good for morale, but they don't necessarily speak of the outcome of the story that is unfolding.

The Times has an outraged editorial about Senator Pat Roberts, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Commitee, continued obstruction of investigations into the administration.

Oh, and somewhat unrelated, but kinda sorta fucked up.

- Glitter


Hackett Drops Out of Ohio Senate Race, Politics in General

I wrote a post a few weeks ago about my mulling of a Congressional campaign to work on after I graduate in May. At the time the front runner for my grunt work was Paul Hackett. That feeling has now become null and void as Hackett has dropped out of the race and supposedly politics forever.

It seems Hackett was pressured to drop out by party insiders, specifically Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Senator Charles Schumer of New York, in order to make room for Congressman Sherrod Brown. While it is understandable that the party infrastructure wants to support the candidates whom they believe will have the best shot at winning, I can understand why Hackett feels he got a bit screwed over by them. According the the Times article, Reid and Schumer are the same Senators who urged him to join the race in the first place. It's been said that they wanted Hackett to run again in Ohio's Second district against Jean Schmidt, who narrowly beat him in a special election last year. However, Hackett claims he had already given his word to fellow Democrats who are running in that district that he would not run, and he does not want to renege on his word, which is an utterly respectable position, though perhaps disappointing from a purely political POV as Hackett would surely be the strongest candidate that could be fielded in that district. There's been a lot of mixed feelings about this on the internet with some like Markos, the Kos of Daily Kos thinks this is understandable and probably for the best. Many of his commenters disagree. As for me, I agree with Kos in the sense that strategically this might be better (though I don't really know, and Hackett out of politics is bad for Dems), but personally it is really disappointing because Hackett was a politician who actually riled me up and inspired me.

Now, this is also disappointing news for me because not only was Hackett running for a Senate seat that will be important in wrestling control of Congress from the Republicans, but he is also a veteran of the Iraq War, which is one of the pre-requisites for me in terms of working on someone's campaign this summer and fall. I'm not hardline on that point, but I really do think it would be the most enlightening experience I could seek out. There are still plenty of vets running as Dems in plenty of parts of the country, and I am sure I will find one I will feel comfortable working for, but most of them are for House seats, and while the House is certainly important, the Senate is the best shot we have at taking back one of the chambers of Congress. Though apparently things are looking better in the House then they had previously.

Hackett explains his decision here. He sent the same message to is email list.

More thoughts from Kos. Chris Bowers gives his thoughts on it here. Atrios simply calls it ugly.

If you're down in the dumps about this development, maybe this will help, a recording of a live Of Montreal concert that consists mainly of covers.

- Glitter


Defining America

The New York Times ran an interesting editorial observer yesterday about the role of Noah Webster in American history. Apparently he was an old time progressive, but perhaps more importantly, his efforts to establish an American lexicon of words was direct effort to distance America from England and in some ways to help establish a distinctly American culture.

The latest issue of Buzzsaw Haircut, The America Issue, aims to take look at some slices of American culture and what it means to be American or to even label something as American. Admittedly we were unable to cover many many aspects of the debates that surround the idea of America, so I thought this piece on Webster might be an interesting addition to our efforts, particularly covering an area we missed out on.

As for the plug that was surely telegraphed by the previous paragraphs, The America Issue is on campus now. Check it out.

- Glitter

Cheney Gives Shotgun Rash

I assume most people have heard the news about Vice President Dick Cheney shot a millionaire friend with a shotgun while hunting quail. By all accounts this seems to legitimately look like an accident, but it's also seems like it is still being spun by the White House.

Josh Marshall has a few posts delving into it, using his large readership as a base of knowledge about the likelihood of this particular huntin narrative(here, here, here, and here).

Interesting stuff. Obviously not a huge scandal or anything, but it certainly fits into the Cheney as bad guy image that is pretty common these days.

- Glitter

Oh, and this news broke on the same day that Republican and Democratic Senators called for an investigation into Cheney's involvement in the leaking of Valerie Plame's identity. George Allen is not someone generally considered a moderate or a RINO (Republian In Name Only), so it's pretty big that he's the Repub talking on this. Probably the best source for further and updated info on the Plame scandal is Murray Waas.

Flipper Kidz Fun Show

The show's on right now. You can listen here.

For a playlist, check this livejournal.

- Glitter

Oh, and a hat tip to Copy,Right? for the french cover songs.


Blog Discourse

As seems to be the norm here, Peter Daou has written something worth reading. Check it out here. Daou and Josh Marshall are the two people thus far who I feel have been able to see the forest amongst the trees of the blogosphere in terms of analyzing and realizing the politcal potentials of this medium. Others, such as Kos and Atrios have definitely done much in terms of articulating and illustrating the potentials for this medium in terms of fostering political community and effectively activating it for change. However, in terms of articulation, I feel like Daou's essays on "the triangle" have been the clearest argued statement of how blogs can affect political change and Marshall's use of his readership's muckraking abilities on specificed issues such as social security bamboozlement has been the epitome of the potential of the blogosphere in bringing together citizens as active independent researchers conferring together to figure out what is the "truth" as best they can. So yeah, to me, most anything Daou writes about what blogs are doing, aren't doing, could be doing, shouldn't be doing, and so on, is worth a read.

I'm going to weigh in a little bit later on the latest chapter in the blogs vs. Washington Post scuffle, especially regarding the Post's online editor, Jim Brady's latest missive about the ordeal. My opinion in short form: The Post fucked up then fucked up again, but I don't agree with all of the criticism and tactics that have been dished by some of the big liberal blogs, mainly Atrios and Firedoglake.

- Glitter

PS, for those of you on the Ithaca College campus, keep your eyes open for the fresh issue of a certain magazine that will be hitting the stands this evening.


Library Tax Update

So I should have written about this on Weds., but I didn't, and I can't change that now.

So, the tax was defeated, by rather definitive margin too.

About 65 percent of all voters cast their votes against the proposed $540,000 tax levy. The vote count was 3,091 against and 1,679 for the tax, according to unofficial results from the ICSD.

I can't say I'm surprised by this. I only started paying attention during the last few days, but it was clear at that point that the dominant narrative was that the tax was not needed as direly as the library posited. Both local newspapers editorialized (here and here) against the tax, using separate, but confidently reasonsed arguments. The opposition made a louder argument in the press, and the library never sufficiently argued its position and reasoning for new tax. Whether the tax was needed or not, the impression created by the coverage was that it was extraneous and mysterious.

I never really came to a decision as to how I was going to vote on it, and to be fully honest, I didn't vote because I legitimately could not tell for myself what the right decision was. Thus my inertia, which I concede and know is not a good an example to be setting as someone who argues for active citizen participation in elections and governance. So, I fucked up and didn't vote. However, when I reflect on it now, I'm sure that at that moment in the booth when I would have had to make my final decision, my gut impulse would have swayed me to vote against the tax.

Perhaps the reason that I feel so odd about my opinion on this is not because of the merits of that decision and the fact that I would have voted against an increase of library resources at the cost of increased taxes, but because it means my decision aligned with the political goal/aim of Joe Brennan, a Republican in ICR who's sense of ethics caused another member of ICR to quit the club in protest over Brennan's potential leadership. Though in Joe's defense, I do have to say that the person who quit has a peculiar system of ethics. Conversations with him about relationships and the death penalty tend to contradict.

But yeah, I don't mind ending up at the same principled point (albeit from different direcetions and paths) with conservatives whose reasoning and moral base I can empathize with, but for some reason I have never been able to find an empathetic point with Mr. Brennan's arguments. That's not to say that he is someone who is beyond empathy. I've just never been able to find it when talking politics with him. He's very much in the vein of a Ken Mehlman where he so naturally spins for a political party's talking points, and yes all political parties spin talking points, that you hardly ever get the feeling he is struggling with the principles involved rather than just how to win political power.

So that's one of the places where my tension over this vote comes from.

I also think I am reflexively weary of the media manipulation when two people from the same ultimate source are labeled as being from different organizations and representing different points of view. Such as this:

Opponents of the tax said they were surprised with the results.

“I have never been so happy about being so wrong,” said Mark Finkelstein, the vice chairman of the Tompkins County Republican Committee. “I think it shows enough is enough. Perhaps this is some sort of turning point, and the taxpayers are saying ‘There is a limit.'”

Joe Brennan, the leader of the Students Against the Library Tax, said: “The voters of the Ithaca City School District have spoken, and hopefully this failed idea of a library tax is truly laid to rest in the history books.”

Ok, Finkelstein and Brennan are both cogs in local Republican party machinery. From what I understand of the Ithaca College Republicans through the infomral conversations I have with much of the leadership of, whom I have taken various classes with, Brennan is the person in the campus group who is most closely tied to Finkelstein and the local GOP. No where in the coverage of Students Aganist the Library Tax was it mentioned that it was comprised solely of members of the Ithaca College Republicans (as far as I can tell). I believe Brennan even goes on Finkelstein's cable access show regularly. Clever, strategic media outreach by the Repubs and a poor contextual job by the local media.

So yeah, that's that. I suppose this experience could be called my first foray into the world of being a lurker on local politics.

- Glitter


CPAC is Back

It's that time of year again when all the disperse strands of movement conservatives gather together to show off their claims to ideological purity. That's right folks, it's CPAC 2006. Myself, and two other Buzzsaw editors attended the conference last year as undercover correspondents, and I can say it was a surreal and frightening time, but also a strange look into an active movement for political and legislative power in this country (and perhaps world). Unfortunately the article we wrote doesn't seem to be online. So, instead, if you're curious, may I suggest checking out the current conference through the eyes of an undercover Campus Progress correspondent.

It's especially worth a look for college students, as much of CPAC is focused on grooming the young of the conservative movement. It's also notorious for drunken College Republican shenanigans.

That's all for now, but hopefully I'll have a post up later today going over yesterday's Ithacan as well as other news of the day.

- Glitter

(Full disclosure: Buzzsaw Haircut is partially funded through a grant from Campus Progress.)


This seems like a rather big deal, and also rather deceitful.

Allen Sloan in the Washington Post:

Last year, even though Bush talked endlessly about the supposed joys of private accounts, he never proposed a specific plan to Congress and never put privatization costs in the budget. But this year, with no fanfare whatsoever, Bush stuck a big Social Security privatization plan in the federal budget proposal, which he sent to Congress on Monday.

His plan would let people set up private accounts starting in 2010 and would divert more than $700 billion of Social Security tax revenues to pay for them over the first seven years.

If this comes as a surprise to you, have no fear. You're not alone. Bush didn't pitch private Social Security accounts in his State of the Union message last week.

Seems the Social Security trench wars are back on. Better check in with Josh Marshall.

Now it just so happens we still have the Conscience Caucus list online -- remember, that's the list of the Republicans who wouldn't publicly commit to phase-out last year.

Are they coming out against Phase Out Round Two?

I wonder how this will play out for the 2006 elections? Grassroots pressure seemed to turn the tide against Round One. Can it do it for Round Two?

Here are more numbers from Sloan:

Unlike Bush's generalized privatization talk of last year, we're now talking detailed numbers. On page 321 of the budget proposal, you see the privatization costs: $24.182 billion in fiscal 2010, $57.429 billion in fiscal 2011 and another $630.533 billion for the five years after that, for a seven-year total of $712.144 billion.

In the first year of private accounts, people would be allowed to divert up to 4 percent of their wages covered by Social Security into what Bush called "voluntary private accounts." The maximum contribution to such accounts would start at $1,100 annually and rise by $100 a year through 2016.

It's not clear how big a reduction in the basic benefit Social Security recipients would have to take in return for being able to set up these accounts, or precisely how the accounts would work.

It will be interesting to see if this gets much press beyond Sloan's article and a sail around the liberal blogosphere. I'm sure TPM will be on the case.

- Glitter

Something of Note about the Role of Blogs

I would never argue that blogs are some kind of threat to traditional forms of media or journalism, as some bloggers can tend to imply in the dizzying heights of blog triumphalism. But I would like to point out two specific recent instances where original reporting by blogs has opened up larger stories and actually had the type of impact journalism is meant to have, in that they brought more truth to the discourse.

Example #1: Glenn Greenwald and the DeWine Amendment.

On his blog, Unclaimed Territory, Glenn pointed to legislation that was introduced by Ohio Senator Mike DeWine in 2002 that sought to eliminate the same barrier in FISA that Gen. Michael Hayden argued the administration was necessitated to bypass for the NSA eavesdropping program. But at the time, the Bush Department of Justice objected to the legislation, arguing that FISA was fine as it was and the change might be unconstitutional. This revelation brought many new questions to the discussion of the NSA eavesdropping program and in effect shifted the discourse a bit. This story was picked up by the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, amongst other news media outlets. All gave credit to Glenn for first scooping the story.

Example #2: Nick Anthis and the Bush appointee

I noted before that a NASA scientist was complaining about having his voice muffled by political appointees of the Bush administration. Days later, another article came out that named George Deutsch as the person who actively tried to suppress the scientist as well as alter the language of NASA educational materials so that they allowed room for intelligent design. Two days ago on Feb 6th, on his blog called Scientific Activist, Nick Anthis posted that through his own reporting he had discovered that Deutsch had never graduated from Texas A & M, even tough news reports had listed him as a graduate. Today, the New York Times reports that Deutsch has resigned, at least partially over lying about his graduate status from Texas A & M. Just like with Greenwald, Anthis' blog was given a hat tip for making the initial discovery that opened up this new part of the story.

Now, these two cases by no means prove that bloggers are all journalists, but I do think they does throw spit in the eye of the argument that bloggers are nothing, but partisan and opinionated pundits. Some are, some aren't. There are many forms in the blogosphere. As Jay Rosen points out (well, he's quoting James W. Carey), journalism is a practice, not a label. You are a journalist when you are reporting on and recording for posterity what is going on in life, not just because you draw a paycheck from a news media institution. To me, the above mentioned examples are but two instances of how blogs can positively play into our culture and democracy.

- Glitter


Doesn't Rove Have His Own Investigation To Worry About?

White House puts politics over rule of law...film at 11.

Oh, and does this vaguely sound like either a bribe or extortion to anyone?

The sources said the administration has been alarmed over the damage that could result from the Senate hearings, which began on Monday, Feb. 6. They said the defection of even a handful of Republican committee members could result in a determination that the president violated the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Such a determination could lead to impeachment proceedings.

Over the last few weeks, Mr. Rove has been calling in virtually every Republican on the Senate committee as well as the leadership in Congress. The sources said Mr. Rove's message has been that a vote against Mr. Bush would destroy GOP prospects in congressional elections.

"He's [Rove] lining them up one by one," another congressional source said.

Mr. Rove is leading the White House campaign to help the GOP in November’s congressional elections. The sources said the White House has offered to help loyalists with money and free publicity, such as appearances and photo-ops with the president.

Those deemed disloyal to Mr. Rove would appear on his blacklist. The sources said dozens of GOP members in the House and Senate are on that list.

It does to me.

- Glitter


NSA Congressional Hearings Day One

You, whomever may read this, may have noticed that I'm rather interested in the revelation of NSA's warrantless domestic spying program authorized by the administration.

The first day of the Senate hearings was/is today, with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testifying, though apparently not under oath. I haven't gotten a chance to read too much about how it went, so I'm just going to link to things as I go through it. Consider this a round up:

* Senator Leahy's smackdown opening statement.

* WaPo's article,Gonzales Defends Legality Of Surveillance.

* Gonzales' prepared opening statement.

* NY Times' article, Defense of Eavesdropping Is Met With Skepticism In Senate.

* Glenn Greenwald's live blogging of the hearings. In general, Glenn's blog is kind of the go to site for left of the aisle analysis of this affair.

* Reuters' article, Democrats Frustrated By Gonzales On Eavesdropping.

* LA Times' (via Chicago Tribune) article, Spirited Debate On Limits Of Presidential Power. Be sure to read page 2 of it.

* Think Progress picks out a strong point made by Lindsay Graham (R-SC).

* Here's the Fox News' take on the proceedings. Strangely, their front page, as of 5:39 PM, has the hearings relegated to a side bar while 3 stories pointing towards "big bad Muslims" are front and center.

* John at AmericaBlog has a running commentary throughout the day. Take a scroll down it. Same goes for Digby

* For a taste of how the hearings are being interpreted over on the still-supporting Bush Right side of the aisle (I say that because some conservatives and Repubs have come out against this program), you can check out Powerline, a good enough weathervane for the apologists.

I'll probably give my thoughts on this sometime soon.

- Glitter

Library Tax Debate

It's been a motto of mine for a year or two now that I will only be legitimately politically engaged once I am engaged in local politics. With that idea in mind, I have been trying to read more and more about not only Ithaca College, but also Tompkins County issues. So today, I'm going to try to look a little deeper into a pertinent local issue while adding what I can to the discussion.

Tomorrow, Feb. 7th, there is a county-wide referendum to decide whether or not to approve a new tax that would ultimately provide $540,000 in new funding for the Tompkins County Public Library. (BTW, having just read the above linked article for a second time, and for an article that claims to be looking at the spectrum of debate, it seems to lopsidedly report on the opposing viewpoint. Strangely, or not so strangely, the article appeared in the same issue as the paper's editorial against the tax. Another article that focuses more on the library's POV, and is generally more balanced, can be found here.)

When I first recieved a flier about this at the library, my initial gut reaction was "of course the library should be supported, it's a great public service that all can benefit from." But I do have to say, after reading this editorial in the Ithaca Journal, I'm not so sure anymore. The editors do make a rather compelling case against the tax, mainly due to the fact that the tax will be added onto property tax, and according to the editors:

the property tax levy carried by local households in the Ithaca school district has increased $12.54 million, about 28 percent, in the past five years. For city residents, that increase comes on top of a 75 percent jump in combined county and city property taxes for the same time.

I'm not completely convinced by the editorial, but I do have to say, if their numbers are right, they do raise some vexing questions. Another issue they bring up is the state of the library workers' labor contract. Apparently they have a pretty good deal through United Auto Workers 2300. I consider myself pretty pro-union, and don't really mind that much that library employees get paid a decent salary and a living wage (Under the recently expired contract, librarians were earning between $20.99 and $26.25 per hour; Clerks earned $13.30 an hour; and Pages earned $11.79 per hour), but some of the provisions pointed out by the Journal do seem extraneous to me. According to the Journal's editorial:

Union employees at the library work 35-hour weeks, with time between 35 and 40 hours triggering “compensatory time” or paid time off. The contracts contain seven paid holidays, five “floating holidays,” 12 personal/sick days and two weeks vacation as a starting point; meaning even without comp time, after the first year a new employee can have as many as 34 paid days off. The deals also carry over a previous arbitrator's ruling making summer Saturdays join all Sundays as workdays at time-and-a-half pay. That means, putting aside comp time again, for every weekend the library is open in the summer wages equal to the cost of another Sunday are burned in overtime.

Terry Sharpe, President of the UAW Local 2300, responded to criticism of the union's contract with a letter to the editor here.

He raised the interesting point of how focus has been on the labor contract while the library administration earns and spends a lot:

If the public somehow believes that our union workers earn too much, why is no one asking about the director's salary ($84,152 in 2004), which is significantly more than those of many county managers? What about the huge annual bonuses awarded to the director and assistant director (totaling $20,050 in 1999-2001)? Why do they spend thousands in legal and miscellaneous fees ($45,400 in 2004)? Why do they hire an expensive lawyer to negotiate the labor contracts, when traditionally the library trustees have always negotiated these themselves? Why pay a private company to water and maintain the plants?

Truthfully, after having read all of this, I don't quite know where to stand on it. The meme by most supporters is that the tax increase would come to about $25 per year for the average residential property in the Ithaca City School District. I don't know how much this will affect people in the district, especially those who come under the average. Apparently the tax works by a "rate of 17 cents per $1,000 of taxable assessed value in 2006 and will be on the same bill as school district taxes. A house assessed at $100,000 would pay about $17 for the library tax."

The Journal printed 6 letters supporting the tax (here, here, here, here, here, and here) as well as one opposing. The Ithaca Times also came out against it in an editorial as well. The Times also had an Op-Ed in favor of the tax.

It seems to me that oppositional voices have some legitimate concerns, but there also seems to be a more generalized anti-tax feeling fueling much of the opposition to this particular tax. This seems most apparent to me in the case of the so-called Students Against Library Tax (SALT), run by an Ithaca College student who is an active, and quite partisan, member of the Ithaca College Republicans. That person, Joe Brennan:

Image hosting by Photobucket

wrote an Op-Ed for the Journal that doesn't address any of the substantial issues raised by most opponents, but rather just attacks the process. His first point of contention is that the election is in February, instead of the generally accepted electoral month of November. This point seems odd to me considering Brennan just got back from a holiday season campaign in San Diego. This leads me to believe that the criticism of the timing of the election is hypocritical and likely just political.

He does also raise the legitimate question of the fact that the election and much of the pro-tax support was being funded by a philandthropist who until recently had been anonymous. This does raise some questions, but it is also a diversion from tackling the tax on its merits - whether it is the right choice for the community or not in terms of finances and services.

My instinct that Brennan is against the tax for ideological reasons stem from having had two classes with him as well as from this graf in his Op-Ed:

As it stands, New York already has the second highest combined state and local taxes. By passing this measure, not only will we further perpetuate this problem that has caused thousands of citizens and jobs to head elsewhere, but we will be publicly stating our support for such a policy. I cannot do either in good faith, and have formed Students Against the Library Tax in response to my beliefs on the issue. Our group is dedicated to informing the public on the issues raised in this article and strongly urges the defeat of the library tax.

As for SALT, I find it kind of odd that the group is being displayed as a student initiative, yet to my knowledge there has not been a single effort to engage the Ithaca College student community on this issue. I have not seen a single op-ed or letter to the editor in the Ithacan nor have I seen a single flier on campus. For a group that is purporting to speak for students it has done a piss poor job of informing students that an election is even occurring. If one of Brennan's main worries is that people won't turn out for this election because it is in February then why isn't he trying to inform his community that the election is occuring? Without these efforts, Students Against Library Tax reeks to me of a manipulative attempt to use the image of students (which can be a strong image rhetorically in a discussion about libraries) without actually engaging students.

BONUS UPDATE: A view into College Republican electoral tactics. Also, an article by Franklin Foer about the teaching of dirty tricks to Republican youth.

Now, I may end up taking the same final position on the tax as SALT, a No vote, but their tactics don't seem right to me. I'm not basing my position on ideology (or fufillment of school credit), but rather a weighing of the pros and cons of the matter. SALT however, its not clear to me what their real reasons for being against the vote is. If it's cause they're ideologically anti-tax, why don't they just come out and say it?

Hopefully I'll have made a decision by the end of the day in terms of yay or ney.

Oh, and finally, some needless libel of Mr. Brennan through his own actions and words:

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Joe on a Mets message board:

There are a lot of Asians here at Ithaca, some with funny names. There' Soo Me Kim, and So Yung Ho.

On the subject of names, (and I know this is superficial, but I'm up front about it) I have a very hard time becoming attracted to girls with obscure names. Fortunately for me, I recently came by a pretty Ms. Lisa Smith.

- Glitter

Two Interesting Sounding, Upcoming Talks

Via Intercom:

Professor Craig Duncan of the Ithaca College Department of Philosophy and Religion will give a talk entitled "The Question of Torture" on Wednesday, February 15, at 7:30 p.m. in Friends 306.

The talk, which will be a mixture of lecture and discussion, will explore the question of torture from the perspectives of moral and legal philosophy, with an eye to illuminating recent controversies over torture. The talk is free and open to the public. It is being sponsored by the Ithaca College Philosophy club.

And again via Intercom:

Simon Deng, a former Sudanese child slave, will be speaking at Ithaca College on February 7 at 7:00 p.m. in Emerson Suite C. He will offer a first-hand narrative of slavery in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Abducted into slavery at age 9, Simon endured a brutal life as a slave before finally escaping at age 11 and going on to become an important voice in the abolitionist movement.

Sponsored by DIIS; the Departments of English, Politics, Philosophy and Religion; the Anthropology club; MAUYA; SGA; IC Journal; Honors Program; the Diversity Awareness Committee; and the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

Both definitely sound interesting, I'm marking my calender.

- Glitter



Flipper Kidz Fun Show at midnight.

This is the official time for the rest of the semester, Sunday night to Monday morning, Midnight to 2 am.

Tune in!

- Glitter

Your Source for Contacting Local Media

I plan to post more later, specifically about what marching orders we might expect the Republican party's campus foot soldiers to be following in the month of February, at least according to one of their own field guides.

As for now, I just wanted to link to a very useful website with contact info for local media all over the country. Though it is by no means complete, considering it only has the Ithaca Journal for print media in Ithaca, even though this community is also served by the Ithaca Times, the Cornell Daily Sun, and the Ithacan. Not to mention more left of center magazines like Buzzsaw Haircut and Turn Left, as well as the heir's of Ann Coulter's Cornell legacy, the Cornell American. (It's only in the name of fairness and balance that I link to the Cornell American, it is in no way an endorsement.)

(Hat tip Jane@FDL, which she in turn got from an unamed diarist at Daily Kos.)

- Glitter


Designing Park 3rd Post

Dean Lynch has made her third post to her Other blog, Designing Park.

This one is about how she wants the Park school to follow the Music school's model for governance. She links to a bunch of documents describing the structure, but also warns that they are stiff and stuffy, and she will have someone offer a more understandable explanation soon.

I think she may have also given a clue as to who her target audience is for the blog in this graf:

While I would be happy to summarize the processes and bodies for you, I think it would make more sense for one of the faculty to take on that task; it's really important that there is no concern about bias or filtering here. Please let me or Gordon know if you're willing to provide that service.

Seems to be an expectation that the faculty is reading the blog. I wonder if she expects students to be reading it as well.

- Glitter


Friendly Ithaca Blogs

Josh Elmer, an up and coming Buzzsaw writer, has a really good post over at his Live Journal about "The State of Indian Nations" and how it relates to his own personal history.

For some reason there doesn't seem to be permalinks on his site, so just scroll to the post titled "2:43pm: State of the American Indian" on February 3rd.

Also, got a link to another Ithaca College student's blog, Insert Wit Here, it's by Jon Callan and it seems to be focused on comics.

- Glitter

Stonewalled, nothing but Stonewalled

So, the adminstration doesn't want to turn over internal legal opinions about the NSA domestic eavesdropping program.

The argument is that the administration's legal arguments have already been made in public, so it would be redundant and useless for memos to be released. According to an unnamed administration official, everything in the memos was also in the 42-page "white paper" that was issued last month.

To me this raises the question, if everything pertinent was included in the "white paper" then why is there resistance to releasing the memos? Refusing to release the memos only throws gas on the fire of suspicion surrounding the program and the legal thinking that allows it, or atleast portends to allow it.

Similarly to pre-war intelligence about WMD, it seems the administration wants to be the only judge of what information is noteworthy and important. But as we know, they have a track record for emphasizing the bits of info that supports their case while downplaying or ignoring bits that detract from it.

I think Chuck Schumer's got it right when he says:

"Without the Justice Department memos and without more witnesses, it's hard to se how anything other than a rehashing of the administration line is going to happen," Mr. Schumer said Wednesday. "I am worried that these hearings could end up telling us very little when the American people are thirsty to find out what happened here."

Unsurprisingly, one of the memos in question is thought to have been written by John Yoo, of torture memo fame. Yoo is one of the most influential lawyers guiding the administration's claims to increased executive power.

Another memo in question was apparently written by Jack Goldsmith, whom Newsweek highlights as being one of the stronger dissenting voices within the Justice Department, in terms of assertions of Presidential power.

If these two memos are in question, and if they were in fact written by these two men, then it seems to me that there is reason to believe that their could have been differing opinions within the Justice Department about the legality of the NSA program. And that is pertinent to the Congressional investigations.

Hopefully, Congress will be able to breakthrough the stonewall being put up by the administration, and we the people can get some answers about an issue we have every right to be up in arms about.

My own jumping to conclustions mind thinks the domestic spying scandal could be the one that sparks the political and legal flames that burn the White House from inside out. I wouldn't be surprised if the administration's final defense comes down to this.

- Glitter


Patriot Act and the Death Penalty

There's an interesting post in the diaries over at Daily Kos about proposed changes in the PATRIOT ACT that would give some decision power over death penalty cases to the Attorney General instead of judges. Kind of makes one wonder how many non-terrorism related law changes are actually in that law.

The post stems from a Seattle Times article titled "Additions slipped into Patriot Act".

Definitely worth checking out.

- Glitter

Ithacan Round Up

* The cover story is pretty good this week, focusing on the effects of pollution released by the Morse Chain division of Borg Warner, which was purchased by Emerson Power Transmission in 1983. Specifically it looks at the effects of chemicals in the soil on residents of the area. Good Job to the Ithacan and writer Stacey Coburn for covering this. I'd heard mention of this problem during the summer from a professor, but never was able to get a writer to follow up on it. I'm glad someone has now.

Interesting quote at the bottom from Ithaca College's own Meg Jamieson:

Jamieson said she hopes Emerson, the DOH and the DEC are being honest when they say they want to help ensure the safety of residents’ homes. But she said officials at the Jan. 25 meeting failed to mention what happens when residents are exposed to the eight chemicals that are considered to be related to the plant.

“There were continual reassurances that they were doing the right thing, but there was also a continual stonewalling of the neighborhood’s concerns, and our only presentation of options was furthering testing,” Jamieson said.

* It's good to see SGA attempting to connect students to politics and legislation outside of the campus. Focusing on student aid is a good way to forge the connection that what happens in Capitol buildings (on the local, state, and federal level) can have a real world effect on students and members of the academic community. Two thoughts about the article/story:

1)It quotes senior Julie Roberts as if she were just a random student who was in the pub during the protest and was inspired to get involved, but the article does not divulge that she is a rather active member of Students for a Just Peace (SJP), a group in which Dan McCarey, one of the organizers of the protest, is also a leader in. I have no problem with what Julie said or that she was quoted, but I do feel like this piece of information does provide a bit more context for her words.

2)This might be a half-baked notion, but I've thought for a while now that having to secure a particular permit for a particular place in order to demonstrate using one's free speech rights was rather antithetical to the notion of free speech. I realize there are legal precedents for free speech being hemmed in by time, place and manner considerations, but the idea that free speech on this campus can only happen at "Free Speech" Rock or by approval of bureacrats on campus just doesn't sit right with me. I know that there have been demonstrations and what not on campus that have not been at free speech rock, but comments like:

“We have procedures in place for students who wish to demonstrate or put up displays, but without the proper approval, groups run the risk of losing all ability to advertise and solicit on campus,” she said. “Purposefully ignoring college policies undermines the sense of community we are trying to create.”

not only sound like a threat, but also like "it's ok to express your opinion in demonstration, but only if you do so with in the boundaries we set up for you." Alas, kudos to the fire safety official who allowed the tent to stand for the remainder of lunch.

* Intersting editorial about the St. Patricks Four. I do believe it contains the editorial board speaking out against the war in Iraq, calling it unjust and a violation of international agreements. Good for the Eds on that point. However, I do think they are slightly off point with the headline "Criminalizing Peace Activism." Although the editorial acknowledges that the convictions were "appropriate" and that "The St. Patrick’s Four should be punished for breaking the law," the headline and subheadline give the impression that the paper feels they should not be punished for what they did. While I agree with the main thrust of their argument that this should not have been a federal case and federal imprisonment is not the appropriate punishment, the headline "Criminalizing Peace Activism" reminds me too much of when Tom Delay told his supporters that liberals and the press were "criminalizing conservatives". It has always been my understanding that part of civil disobediance was the acceptance of the legal punishment for your crimes. I've actually always thought that was part of the symbolic power of non-violent action, in that a person is willing to risk their comfort and break the law in order make their statement. In doing so, the action elevates the cause above the individual. But within that is the knowledge that one's actions are breaking established law, whether that law is just or not is a different story, but it is the standing law at the time of the action. So, it seems to me that being legally punished for knowingly breaking the law is hardly having one's actions criminalized. Now, if they wanted to talk about the troublesome aggresiveness of the government in pursuing the case, I would most definitely support them. And in fact, I support most of this editorial. There is a disturbing trend in this country right now of singling out anti-war and left voices, as was demonstrated with the arrest of Cindy Sheehan at the State of the Union for simply wearing a T-shirt with the number of dead US soldiers on it. One example of this that is clearly illustrated by the St. Patrick's Four case is the stupid practice of relating them to "terrorist organizations." Assistant U.S. Attorney Miroslav Lovric is an asshole for trying to argue that the St. Patrick's Four is part of a terroist organization.

* Their editorial on Bill Bradley is rather stinging. Can't complain with much there. Though I do doubt much change will come about in terms of how the commencement speaker is chosen, since the only people agitated by it are likely to be seniors, and changing the process won't do anything for them, since they've got Bradley now and the decision is rather final. Real change on this point would have to come pro-actively and pre-emptively from younger classes, so that they aren't caught complaining about the process after the process has already been completed. As for Bradley, he may be a boring speaker, but hopefully he'll have some good things to say. I'm not really familiar with him as a politician as 2000 was right before I started paying attention to politics and about 2 years before I became a news and political junkie.

* Dean Lynch gives another indication of the direction she is trying to push the Park School, and with that, much of the rest of campus. My one question is if the student's in the Park School's Advisory Council is enough student input. I'm especially curious if students were given the information about the proposed changes in a timely manner that would have allowed them to air their concerns with their representatives so that their representatives could legitimately speak for other students, rather than just themselves as students. None the less, Dean Lynch seems to have some good ideas, and she is pretty damn supportive of student projects and what not. As always, I'll be checking her blog and keep things updated over here on what she is publicly stating over there.

* Pretty interesting Op-Ed by Jon Bougher about Iran and the media's coverage of it. Definitely made me think, and I would say it is one of the better guest commentaries I have read in the Ithacan in a long time.

* Strong column by Kim Gilman this week. Glad to see someone speaking loudly about this issue. Especially given the Ithacan's disappointing coverage of labor issues in the past. Two words I feel are missing from the column though. Peggy Williams. What are her feelings towards unions? Do we really know what she thinks about any of these hot button issues?

* Although I can't say I hardly ever come close to agreeing with him, Patrick Schwab has written his first ever coherent letter to the Ithacan. This is an important, perhaps even monumentous, occasion for the Republican presence on our campus. The first step towards having your politics respected is having your words follow actual logical trains of thought. I personally don't mind having a robust conservative movement on campus as it kind of forces us liberals to keep our politics robust. Hopefully this example of coherence means we won't have to sit and read shit like this and this again. However, as is the case with most of what Mr. Schwab writes, I can't help but focus in on certain rhetorical flourishes he uses, like "it seems as if Williams relented to a particular group." Who could this particular group be? Would Schawb be as outraged if Williams caved to his particular group and accepted their Intellectual Diversity proposals?

However, even if I can read some problematic undertones into his words, I do have to agree that the logistical concerns he raises are legitimate, though I would also say that the conversation of how to incorporate an MLK Jr. day holiday into our campus schedule has been going on for a long time now, and Mr. Schwab could have participated and "spoke up" back then when his voice could have constructively done something. But of course, then he might have had to interact with "particular groups," and that would have hurt his intellectual diversity.

That's about it for me and the Ithacan today.

- Glitter


They Clash...

"Bill O'Reilly vs. NBC" Vs. "Keith Olberman vs. Bill O'Reilly"

(Via Crooks and Liars)

- Glitter

Chris Hedges

Didn't get a chance to update yesterday, whole lot of stuff to talk about today. For now, I'll talk about a speech I watched last night that wasn't by George W. Bush.

Chris Hedges:

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spoke at IC last night about his book War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning. In general, the talk was pretty powerful. Hedges speaks in a very deliberate and heavy tone that seems to repeatedly remind the listener that he has "been there" and he has really "seen it." Even though the speech was mainly a rehashing of most of the main points of the book with a few examples to illustrate, and I had already read the book, I still found myself moved by his reminder that war is not what we see on TV, but a FUBAR situation that pushes humans to all ends of the emotional spectrum while dancing around the edges of its core, which is Death. At least that's the message I have gotten from Mr. Hedges. Unlike him, I have never been face to face with war, so I have no way of knowing if his account of it all is correct. But it certainly is compelling.

I found myself a bit surprised at how snugly his talk fit into the general sentiments of Ithaca activists. War is horrible. The media lies. Bush and crew are bad. Now I'm not saying there isn't some validity to each one of these positions, but in my experience with world renowned journalists such as Bill Moyers and Seymour Hersh, they give speeches that force the local population to challenge their deeply held convictions about the political realities of complex issues such as war and the forces that bring us into it. I don't mean to say that Hedges wasn't challenging and rewarding, which he most certainly was. I just mean to say I was surprised by how accomodating his views were to the prevalent views of Ithaca. For myself, perhaps it is good that someone whose reporting I greatly admire has now challenged me to reassess how I view the politics of my host city here, which I usually do with a pinch of skepticism.

Also, interestingly enough, I got the distinct impression that bringing Hedges to campus was a political statement by the Provost of IC, Peter Bardaglio. In his introductory speech, Bardaglio made a stinging reference to Hedges being a witness to war unlike George W. Bush, followed by a plea to the audience to keep Hedges words in mind when listening to the State of the Union later in the night. And Hedges was definitely anti-war. In some ways, this doesn't surprise me since Bardaglio and the Office of the Provost were at the forefront of the Engaging Democracy And Troubling The Water speaker series in the 2003-2004 academic year, which for all intents and purposes, did end up leaning on the left side of the spectrum. But at the same time, Bardaglio has also been one of the most vocal supporters (perhaps appeaser would be a better word) of the Ithaca College Republicans' push for "Intellectual Diversity" on campus. Bardaglio co-wrote a guest commentary with Roger Custer, calling for IC to "embrace intellectual diversity." He was also integral in bringing Jonah Goldberg to speak on campus in the spring of 2005. My guess is that Bardaglio is personally liberal, but his position as Provost forces him to take seriously the complaints and initiatives of Republicans and conservatives on campus. In other words, his expression of external politics is overrided by the internal politics of IC.

Here is an article that takes exception to "Intellectual Diversity," as well as a description of the controversy at Source Watch. Professor Charles Venator Santiago of IC wrote about it in the Ithacan here.

A few choice Hedges quotes I was able to jot down in my notebook:

" I always distrusted power, no matter whose hands power was in."

"Current coverage of war in Iraq does not expose the pathology of war."

"War for now is presented briefly, through the distorted prism of the occupiers."

On embedded reporters: they have "no relationships to victims, essential for balanced coverage" of war.

"The press has lost the outrage to expose great lies, to hold liars accountable, and even when it is uncomfortable, to expose the truth."

"Once you master a people by force, you depend on force for control."

In war, we are "compelled forward not by logic, or passion, or understanding, but by fear."

"we have become the company we keep."

"The seduction of war is insidious."

"And the essence of war, Death, is always held from the public view."

Post-Vietnam: US citizens were "forced to confront our own capacity for atrocity, for evil, and in this we see ourselves."

In war "all things, including human beings become objects. Objects to gratify, objects to destroy, and sometimes both."

"It doesn't matter how many Mr. and Mrs. Johnsons are anti-war because those who know how to use the weapons are not."

When asked about parallels between the Bush administration and the Nazi propaganda tactics, Hedges responded that (and this is a paraphrase): this administration runs a very sophisticated propaganda machine, Bush flying onto the air craft carrier after major combat operations had ended reminded me of Triumph of the Will. They are very aware of propaganda techniques and how to manipulate public opinion, and some of those tactics may have come from them, but that is as far as I would go with the Nazi analogy.

The New York Times is in a "slow self-immolation."

"If you think Fox is bad, turn on Trinity Broadcasting or CBN - and then maybe the Nazi analogy works."

- Glitter