Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Left 'Sphere, Right 'Sphere

I can't help but note that, unless I'm missing something, the blue blogs are pretty quiet on the Susan Kennedy tip.

Except for this site and the new Keep California Blue, a blog by the California Young Democrats.

I suppose I really hadn't given much thought to the blue blog deficit here in California, but either I'm really off my game (entirely possible) or they just aren't there.

Bob's blog is quiet on the subject so far, as is Dem firm Acosta Salazar's California Democratic Majority. It's not wholly surprising since I think the consensus on our side is a unified, to quote Jon Stewart, "whaaaaa?"

Still, gotta say something, guys. Our silence is notable.

They've got a whole nifty alliance thing going on over there. So? Speak up. Who's with me?

Links to blue blog reax welcome below.

Damn That Responsive New Media

Phoblog reader MM points out a new website launched today: Stop Susan Kennedy.com.

Good grief.

Nice set of links to Blogosphere reaction on the subject however:

OC Blog
Flash Report
Eric Hogue Blog
The Bear & the Elephant
Local Liberty
Hack n Flack
California Campaigns
Sacto Dan

Well, "nice" is relative, I suppose. And hey - there really are more righty blogs than lefty blogs, aren't there? Nice organization, guys. I don't have to agree with you, but I applaud all 'sphere additions. Okay, most.

And there's a petition, naturally. Those are always so effective, no?

Whatever your view on this - it's fascinating to watch as an education tool and as, possibly - okay, probably - a train wreck of epic proportions for all involved.

If there's a strategy burried in all this that makes either the Governor or Susan Kennedy come out on top, I'll go ahead and cop to not getting it yet.

Also fun - check out the list of "'highlights'" on the front page. If you dropped the "" it would seem pretty reasonable. Guess accomplishment is in the eye of the beholder.

A WHOIS search reveals only a Sacramento-based admin service, not a definitive name. Not that it matters much.

Had The Titanic Just Driven Straight INTO The Iceberg . . .

Via The Roundup, news of Schwarzenegger having hired, wait for it, Susan Kennedy as his next chief of staff:

Gary Delsohn writes in the Bee "As word spread Tuesday about Kennedy, Republican blogger Jon Fleischman published a plea on his Web site asking the administration or Kennedy to 'help me understand why this appointment should not be interpreted as the big kiss-off to the GOP base.'"

"Karen Hanretty, spokeswoman for the state Republican Party, cautioned Republicans 'to hold their fire and give Gov. Schwarzenegger the benefit of the doubt,'" reports Carla Marinucci in the Chron.

"'Susan Kennedy's job is not to set policy; her job is to guide the governor's agenda,' she said."

Robert Salladay and Peter Nicholas report for the LAT "'She embodies everything I have spent my life opposing. It obviously raises more problems and concerns about where he is headed next year,' said Mike Spence, president of the California Republican Assembly. 'There is a list of things now where it appears we would have been better off if Gray Davis were governor.'"
Somebody please parse that set policy v. guide agenda comment above, because, for the life of me, I can't figure out the difference.

To explain the title of this post - many have theorized that had the Titanic driven directly into the iceberg, rather than trying to turn too late, it would've effectively beached itself and not have gashed a hole and sunk. For those of you who were econ majors in college and never too a literature class, substitute Schwarzenegger administration for Titanic, the iceberg would be, well, hard to choose, the complete melt down of his failed reform attempts, and that turn was executed by Captain Kennedy trying to guide the turkey - er, Titanic - back to the center. The gash was caused by the jagged edge of the Republican base.

And now they all get why taking out Gray Davis was a pretty big miscalculation, eh?

But why on God's green earth is Susan Kennedy taking this job? I've always liked her. And I've always also been foolishly part of the Ainsley Harriet, "your country needs you" school of thought wherein side-switching can be a noble endeavor and help make a better country/state/etc.

But I am so in the minority on that. Is Kennedy not just shoveling her political capital on a raging fire? She's a capable, brilliant politico regardless of where she works, but is there enough soap in the world to rid her of the Republican taint? And not just any taint - one from the Schwarzenegger administration. Talk about kissing the hand that starved you.

I don't see how anyone wins under this scenario. Not even Californians for having her back in the horseshoe. She is capable of doing a lot of good, but only if both sides are out for her blood - which they likely will be. If she succeeds in her post, then she helps defeat Angelides or Westly or whomever in November. If she fails then, well, she fails, nothing good happens for the state, and she'll still be hated for sleeping with the enemy.

Abandon ship . . . .

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

For Joe: A Post On 'Crimson Cooked Crabs'

Because it makes me think of former West Virginia officemate and honest to god seaman, Joe, here's a link to an article about the long-awaited start to Dungeness crab season.

I've never had one, but he swears they are tops. Maybe this year I should try it . . . . I'm more of a lobster gal myself.

Just Don't Call Them Late For Dinner

So, Rumsfeld has decided that those people with the bombs, er, improvised explosive devices, aren't insurgents anymore:

More than 2 1/2 years into the Iraq war, Donald H. Rumsfeld has decided the enemy are not insurgents.

"This is a group of people who don't merit the word `insurgency,' I think," Rumsfeld said Tuesday at a Pentagon news conference. He said the thought had come to him suddenly over the Thanksgiving weekend.

"It was an epiphany."

Rumsfeld's comments drew chuckles but had a serious side.

"I think that you can have a legitimate insurgency in a country that has popular support and has a cohesiveness and has a legitimate gripe," he said. "These people don't have a legitimate gripe." Still, he acknowledged that his point may not be supported by the standard definition of `insurgent.' He promised to look it up.

Webster's New World College Dictionary defines the term "insurgent" as "rising up against established authority."

Even Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who stood beside Rumsfeld at the news conference, found it impossible to describe the fighting in Iraq without twice using the term `insurgent.'

After the word slipped out the first time, Pace looked sheepishly at Rumsfeld and quipped apologetically, "I have to use the word `insurgent' because I can't think of a better word right now."

Without missing a beat, Rumsfeld replied with a wide grin: "Enemies of the legitimate Iraqi government. How's that?"
It sucks, Mr. Secretary. Kind of like your war strategy, misguided ideology, and general attitude.

Why not just go back the old standard "evil-doers?" You guys LOVE that one.

More Evidence That Nuance, Humor Are Dead

So a Kansas prof wrote an email revealing his true views on intelligent design. I'm going to paste the whole article below, and then tack on some more commentary after:

A University of Kansas religion professor apologized for an e-mail that referred to religious conservatives as "fundies" and said a course describing intelligent design as mythology would be a "nice slap in their big fat face."

In a written apology Monday, Paul Mirecki, chairman of the university's Religious Studies Department, said he would teach the planned class "as a serious academic subject and in an manner that respects all points of view."

The department faculty approved the course Monday but changed its title. The course, originally called "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationisms and other Religious Mythologies," will instead be called "Intelligent Design and Creationism."

The class was added to next spring's curriculum after the Kansas State Board of Education decided to include more criticism of evolution in its standards for science teaching. The vote was seen as a big win for proponents of intelligent design, who argue that the universe is so complex that it must have been created by a higher power.

Critics say intelligent design is merely creationism — a literal reading of the Bible's story of creation — camouflaged in scientific language.

Mirecki's e-mail was sent Nov. 19 to members of the Society of Open-Minded Atheists and Agnostics, a student organization for which he serves as faculty adviser.

"The fundies (fundamentalists) want it all taught in a science class, but this will be a nice slap in their big fat face by teaching it as a religious studies class under the category mythology."

Mirecki addressed the message to "my fellow damned" and signed off with: "Doing my part to (tick) off the religious right, Evil Dr. P."

During the weekend, Chancellor Robert Hemenway began a review of Mirecki's e-mail, which resulted in Mirecki's apology, issued Monday night. He called it "an ill-advised e-mail I sent to a small group of students and friends."

The university on Monday defended the teaching of a class on such a timely subject, but some legislators said withholding funding from the school remained a possibility.

Rep. Brenda Landwehr, vice chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, called the e-mail "venomous," adding, "He's not sorry he wrote it. He's sorry it became public."
You're damn right he's sorry it became public. But so what. Unless there is evidence that his course was taught - in the classroom - with bias and "venom" who the hell cares what his private views or in his extracurricular capacity as an advisor to a student organization? I'll tell you who shouldn't care, the Kansas House Approps Committee.

Many professors at my alma mater hold policy and political views that are 180 degrees from mine. But they kept it out of the classroom. Their publications and extracurricular involvements sure clued me in fast enough, but so long as they kept it out of the classroom, then fine. I was free to examine and either accept or reject their views in the wider marketplace of ideas.

So this poor schlub professor got caught in a conversation that sets him at odds with some - maybe many, shiver - in Kansas. He's teaching a mythological concept clothed in pseudo-science in a religious studies class that I'm guessing isn't compulsory for any student. How humiliating to made to apologize for a private communication.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Walk The Walk

In a story I missed last month from the Los Angeles Times:

Educators across California are grappling with what to do with nearly 100,000 seniors who could be denied diplomas next spring after failing the state's first-ever high school exit exam.

At issue is whether students should be allowed to participate in graduation ceremonies, and whether to offer an alternative certificate in place of a high school diploma — and what currency such a certificate would have in the job market.
Um, it should have no currency since the kids didn't graduate.

Let's leave aside the merit and/or structure of the exit exam for a moment. If it is required to graduate and a kid can't pass it, the kid doesn't actually graduate, right?

Then why let him walk?

Now, full disclosure, last May, I walked with what I consider to be my class during the spring commencement exercises because I certainly didn’t want to hassle with coming back in May 2006 to walk with people I don't know and UCs don't have a problem letting students go through the motions without having accomplished anything except, I suppose, successfully picking up their caps and gowns.

Does that sound harsh? My older sister walked a quarter before she was actually done at UC Santa Cruz (having experienced first-hand the ease - note implied sarcasm - with which UC students get the classes they need, I'm not surprised most UC kids take 4+ years to graduate). I did it. Lots of kids do it.

My college, however, was notoriously hard-assed about graduation. Seniors complete their finals no later than a week before the ceremony and all grades must be submitted and tabulated so that participants know 100% that they have actually graduated. We got our real diplomas when we walked across the stage. No waiting or worrying about the Postal Service losing our $100k+ pieces of paper. If your eyes were bleeding out of your head, you were one unit from being finished, and just couldn't get that last 2 page paper in on time, tough luck, sporto.

Perhaps I was just conditioned to a tradition, but I found my faux-graduation last May to be a pretty hollow, meaningless endeavor. (I guarantee you that somewhere, my mom is getting upset reading this). The sole upside was the chance to have my family come visit and to spend time with my departing friends and meet their families. That was worth it, of course. But since I had accomplished nothing at all save completing my fifth semester of law school - why was I allowed to walk? When I really do finish in a few (blessedly/frighteningly) short weeks, the only ceremony I'll have is the one where I pop open a bottle of Asti in my living room and pass out from exhaustion before I've downed the first mug. I don't regret for a second the decisions I made that have me finishing now, but I wish the cap and gown part were this December.

I think it is inexcusable that so many California students are failing what is - in all likelihood - not a difficult test. But we do them no favors by letting them out in the world unqualified for the jobs they'll need to have. In fact, high school education is pretty sorry even for the passers. But don't pretty up the disappointment with a tinsel-wrapped consolation certificate. Keep them at school and hope like hell it will only take a year to get them out.

Letting students who aren't really graduation walk with ones who are won't make them feel better about failing the exit exam.

I'd say, no diploma, no walk. And it'd be nice if UCs had the same standard.

First Ever Headline Contest!

We haven't run a caption contest here in a long time, but seeing coverage today about, as the Chron/AP heralds it, 'Pieces of Marble Fall From Court Facade' I have to figure we can do better. Because isn't it a sign for something?

And there was some kids choir from Benecia out front too. The poor dears.

At any rate - if you can come up with something catchy that will capture that falling marble, you know where to, uh, stick it. (In the comments section, sheesh people . . . .)

That joke reminds me of one about how the angel ended up on top of the Christmas Tree . . . .

Winner: Stupidest Statement From A Court Opinion Ever

From a case I'm reading for my California Civil Procedure class, on this, the eve of my Final Day Of Classes Ever:

We decline to hold that failure of the bill to reach the Assembly floor is determinative of the intent of the Assembly as a whole that the proposed legislation should fail.
Um, except that it is. No, really, what in the hell does it mean then?

Would you refuse to hold that failure of the initiative to pass is determinative of the intent of the voters that the proposed initiative should fail? Or, more closely analogous, would you refuse to hold that failure of an initiative to garner the necessary signatures to reach the ballot is determinative of the people's intent that the proposed legislation or constitutional amendment fail?

Honestly, why have a representative government at all.

Thank goodness I can get back to my branch of choice shortly . . .

Holiday Memories: Volume I

To celebrate the season, I'll be posting a favorite holiday memory or story every Monday between now and Christmas. Why? Because it's easier for my brain to handle than in-depth, or even superficial, policy coverage during finals. Joy to the World.

Volume I: A Very Hill Holiday

Professor Jack Pitney says that every American should watch sunset from the West Steps of the United States Capitol at least once. He's right. Another must, however, if you can swing it (which will probably involved working or interning somewhere on the Hill, acquiring a Capitol security badge, and making at least one friend in a high place), is to stand on the seal in the center of the rotunda and sing "Rudolf The Red-Nosed Reindeer" to the best of your [in]ability, late at night, when no one is around to interfere with the awesome, dome-made acoustical effects.

It's very American, especially if you have a partner to toss in the much-needed "like a lightbulbs" and "like Columbuses" at the appropriate times.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Girls From Ipanema

Here's another women's health post - so the squeamish types should click out now.

On the local news tonight, a report about the latest scourge - er - trend among young women: The Brazilian.

Now, in the grand local news tradition, this trend isn't new. At all. But according to the report, it has been growing exponentially in popularity in the past few years. Rather than use the words "complete removal of pubic hair, no really, we mean complete," the news opted for the slightly less cringe-inducing "hairless look."

They even found a woman "hair removal client" to talk about why she favors the frequent, painful process. And she didn't mind talking about it. Wonder if she asked her mom and her boss to watch a different station tonight.

Focusing on the youth angle - how high school girls are a growing salon constituency - the new report chose to head to Berkeley to interview the young 'ens. Those of you thinking that Berkeley = underarm hair, oh, so wrong you are.

One girl said she thought it was popular because girls' partners prefer it - "it's a trend." One intellectual wonder of a student said hairless girls were "cleaner" and their brazilians show they try to "take care of their bodies." "I'm just not attracted to hair," said another young fellow. Never mind that the on-screen doctor stated hair is - wait for it - there for a reason. Down there, it's for protection and lubrication. Never mind that lasering or waxing can lead to burns, injuries, in-grown hairs, or - I kid you not, he said this - HERPES OUTBREAKS. The boys like it. Hair is gross. Boys like girls who follow trends! Trends to make them clean! One wonders who implied to them that unshaven/plucked/waxed girls never bathed.

I certainly have many girl friends who have fallen prey to this foolishness (I love you all, but I think you're nuts). Many of them will say that they just feel better themselves, that it has nothing to do with partners or potential partners or magazines or TV shows or expectations. Except I don't believe that. Maybe it's true to a certain extent. Or maybe it's just one of those cognitive dissonance things: I'm doing this, it MUST be for a good reason. But the partner-pressure is there. Or at least the fear of that pressure. Even if it isn't discussed, there's the concern that it might be expected. And better not take the chance of offending him by being . . .well, by appearing to be over the age of 12.

Over at Amber's blog, there's always a lot of banter about gender interaction: are covered Muslim women expressing their faith or being bullied by misogynistic men? Are men who tell women to smile being condescending or complimentary. Well, I would add this question to the mix: are women who undergo painful procedures to make their adult genitals appear pre-adolescent really doing it for themselves? Have we slouched so far from enlightenment that we blithely ascribe to just one gender a presumption of filth? Why would you want to look less like a woman and more like a girl - and why would you want a man who wants you to look more like a girl? The burning? The ripping? The itching between waxings? Tell me ladies, who has time to vilify Cosmo for forcing us to purge or starve when we're so busy mutilating our selves in our spare time?

At least Muslim headscarves have a legitimate connection to an organized religion. This "trend" should end. Now.




More On The Death Penalty

Athene's Heather Barbour weighs in on the larger issues in the Stanley Williams case - from a heartbreaking perspective.

And one full of grace.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

"Compulsory voting in Australia: Turnout with and without it"

Election Law Blog links to An Australian paper examining that country's compulsory voting scheme and addressing those who would seek to end it.

Death And Taxes

STATE / Governor agrees to Williams hearing / Convicted killer gets closer to possible clemency

Without commenting on whether I'm for or against the death penalty, I'd like to ask whether Williams's change of heart and subsequent anti-gang crusading could ever, for even a minute, change what he helped found and the hundreds, if not thousands, of deaths resulting from his gang alone.

I find it hard to give him too much credit for unleashing that kind of horror on thousdands of urban youth and the victims of their crimes.

I also wonder if star power is all that is required to get through to our star governor.

Friday, November 25, 2005

And How Wise Are Crowds, Exactly?

Craig Newmark, you may know him from his List, is a partner in a planned net-based new news media project. Newmark says the US media are "afraid to talk truth to power."

I'm guessing he means US media are insufficiently inquisitive or skeptical, because it isn't really a reporters job to talk truth to power, but rather to talk truth to us and let us take it up with our employees.

At any rate:

"The big issue in the U.S. is that newspapers are afraid to talk truth to power. The White House press corps don't speak the truth to power -- they are frightened to lose access they don't have anyway."

Newmark, who started Craigslist in his apartment in 1994 and has seen it grow to a worldwide audience, said recent developments, such as journalists coming under fire for controversial leaks in the Valerie Wilson case, are eroding readers' trust.

"The American public has lost a lot of trust in conventional newspaper mechanisms. Mechanisms are now being developed online to correct that," he said, according to the Guardian.

Yet Newmark, whose site was blamed in one study for siphoning $50 million in ads from Bay Area newspapers, struck a more conciliatory note on his blog, at www.cnewmark.com.

"This kind of technology is intended to preserve the best of existing journalistic practices and should help retain newsroom jobs," he wrote. "It's intended to complement, preserve and grow existing media."

It was unclear from his comments if his site would resemble a news aggregator, like the Google News feature that searches online news sites, or if it would be more of a so-called "citizen journalism" initiative, in which ordinary people offer their own reportage outside the strictures of conventional newsrooms.
"Citizen journalism" has been a Craig-buzz-word for the past few years. It's also been a buzz-word for others, but one that, I'd argue, has been struggling to find traction and meaning in a world where it's increasing clear that pretty much anyone, anytime has the potential to strike it media-rich as a celebrity in any number of capacities, including newsmaking/reporting.

This article piqued my attention because I'm currently working on wrapping up a paper dealing with issues of anonymous sourcing, reporters' privileges, and journalistic duty - if such a thing exists.

If this Craig-assisted project does involve the creation of a new - hell - paradigm or even a new method of providing information to the "crowds," I'd be very curious to see how it is structured and executed.

After this paper is written, I'll have to post some more about the disturbing First Amendment discussions held among some members of my class. They should, hopefully, frighten more than just my libertarian readers.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

10 Things For Which Phoblog Is Thankful - 2005 Edition

Another year of blogging come and gone - much for which I am thankful and much more to be thankful for in the coming months (like being the hell out of law school). So here, in no real order, The Top Ten of 2005:

- Posting this from my favorite bar while working on one of my last academic assignments ever while drinking a pumpkin ale. Yeah, you heard me. Paper, bar, ale. Ha!
- My family.
- My dog Patches.
- Sandra.
- Rob.
- Freedom to and from many things.
- My friends, without whom, I would have gone completely insane ages ago and with whom I have only gone partially insane.
- This blog which I continue to hope helps: the greater discourse; you get a laugh; me stay true to my ideals. It also makes me feel like a rockstar sometimes. And like a goofball the rest of the time.
- Did I mention Rob? I'm thankful I can do so.
- Having so many things for which I am thankful that I know a top ten list is futile.

But of course, as ever, I'm ever so thankful for my readers - those that comment, those that blurk, and everyone in between. Without you - this place would be pretty boring.

Happy Thanksgiving. Finals preclude full feelings of holiday cheer this year, but by next year, things should be much brighter.

Enjoy your turkey. Call your parents. Say thank you to someone who deserves it. Back to the heavy political stuff and the CMC woes soon. But for now, whatever time isn't spent studying or writing should really be spent relaxing and spending time with my family.

A Question Of Theory, Democracy

I received an email today announcing the upcoming elections for a local organization of which I am a member. It says:

The annual election of club officers will take place at our December 21 meeting. All five offices are up for election: President, Vice President of Membership, Vice President of Programs, Secretary, and Treasurer.

A nominating committee is now being formed which will present its recommended slate of officers. Nominations will also be accepted from the floor at the December meeting.

Please plan to come and vote! If you are interested in running for office, stay tuned for instructions on how to notify the nominating committee.
My question: Is a "nominating committee" really an appropriate method for selecting the future leadership of a "Democratic" organization?

While, in a practical sense, slates are commonly part of selecting leadership in political organizations - including government - appointing a committee to forward a slate of officers sounds decidedly more corporate than grassroots to me. Though nominations are allowed from the floor, what are the chances that on so nominated will win? And though candidates for public office may be vetted and endorsed by grassroots clubs, is applying such a method on a micro level appropriate? Shouldn't any would-be leader be compelled to campaign member-to-member?

I've long been opposed to slates for the internal governance of clubs and other local level organizations because to me they seem to reflect the very patriarchal heirarchy which the Democratic Party seems to love to oppose publicly. And if one is looking for a way to get more involved and sees a pre-approved slate of insiders, how welcoming will that club seem?

This plan rubs me the wrong way. But I'd love your input or anecdotal evidence of the methods employed by other community-based clubs and orgs.

CMC Update

Though I haven't had time to write more since this post, I do have more information for you. So if you'll be patient a bit longer, I'll have more for you soon . . . . .

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Sweet, There's Room For Me Yet!

Not that I hope to be a practicing attorney in the practical sense, but this columns notes a decline in the number of attorneys serving in the Legislature.

Though, as Dan Walters discusses, whether more or fewer lawyers is good or bad is an open question.

Lawyers as lawyers don't necessarily hold better qualifications for service than do others. Since lawyers are literally responsible for drafting California statutory law (the writing gets done by Legislative Counsel staff attorneys) and our code is largely unreadable and requires the interpretation of other lawyers and judges, I wonder how useful legal training on its own is - especially given the sorry, confused nature of modern legal education.

Walters doesn't address the number of lawyer-lobbyists, a sector likely growing and one seemingly predisposed to lord their J.D.s over ususpecting staffers.

The whole reason I embarked on this law school thing was to learn to speak a language frequently used in the Capitol to roll over those easily spooked by the spectre of bar cards. I took down a few lobbyists when I caught them trying to legalese me into advocating their position to my boss (who was himself an attorney).

If you speak lawyer, you know that speaking lawyer is pretty much all there is to law. In a good way and a bad way.

Overall, however, I don't foresee law schools impressing upon their pupils the importance of improving their representation in legislative bodies since most of law school is spent ignoring that troublesome, ignorant first branch of government anyway.

More On The CMC Issue - And More Information Coming

October 4, 2005

Memorandum

To: Members of the Claremont McKenna College Community

From: Peter K. Barker, Chairman of the Board of Trustees
Pamela B. Gann, President of the College

Re: Growth of the College

We are writing to update the CMC community on the recent decision of the Board of Trustees to increase the size of the College to approximately 1,100 students in Claremont. This increase compares with the current on-campus enrollment level of approximately 1,040 students.

At its recent meetings on September 30 – October 1, 2005, the Board of Trustees engaged in a comprehensive discussion of the qualitative and financial aspects of a potential growth in enrollment to approximately 1,100 students. As a result of this discussion, the Board of Trustees voted to increase the targeted on-campus enrollment level to approximately 1,100 students. The Board’s decision to pursue modest growth at this time included the following considerations:

· Student Selectivity and Shaping the Class. The College has experienced a significant increase in its already high selectivity in the past two years. In particular, the number of freshman applications has increased from approximately 3,000 at the beginning of this decade to approximately 3,500 in 2004 and to over 3,700 in 2005. CMC’s rate of admission has correspondingly fallen from approximately 30% to 21% for this year’s entering class.

CMC’s increased selectivity is a result of a combination of factors, including the continual strengthening of the College’s reputation and the College’s strategic decisions to recruit more actively in the east and to increase international recruitment. These figures also reflect the current demographic trend in which more students are applying to colleges and universities than at any time previously.

These factors indicate that CMC will continue to have a robust applicant pool through the next decade. As a result, we are highly confident that the modest increase of approximately 20-30 students per class will strengthen the overall quality of the class and will also provide more flexibility to shape the class overall.

· Academic and Teaching Resources. Increasing the size of the student body affords the opportunity to increase strategically the size of the faculty, which strengthens the College’s academic program and reputation in general. Most importantly, enrollment growth will not diminish the College’s strategic goal to maintain a student-faculty ratio of approximately 9-1. The Dean of the Faculty’s Office will work closely with our academic departments, our relevant standing faculty committees, and the faculty as a whole to develop revised faculty staffing goals in view of both the planned enrollment growth as well as the move to a four-course teaching load for core faculty.

In addition, the Dean of the Faculty’s Office will also work closely with these groups to ensure that appropriate consideration is given to any necessary investments that will be needed in such areas as academic advising, faculty and administrative support, academic computing, and other areas administered by the Dean of the Faculty’s Office.

· Growth, Campus Intimacy, and the Student Experience. CMC’s campus intimacy is an essential characteristic of the College that is highly valued by all members of the CMC community.

Although many factors contribute to campus intimacy, we believe that maintaining a single dining hall is one of the most important factors related to physical campus. Thus, it is important to emphasize that the planned growth can be absorbed by Collins Hall at its current size.

The Campus Master Plan has also identified a dormitory site in Badgley Garden as well as a potential location for additional apartments that can comfortably accommodate the increased enrollment while maintaining the campus’ open space and aesthetics. As the planning for growth proceeds, we will consult with students, faculty, and alumni to gain the important feedback that will be necessary to ensure that the new residential space will improve and enhance our campus and our residential life program.

In addition to these “physical” characteristics of our campus, the Dean of Students Office will work with the student representatives on the relevant Board of Trustees Committees and ASCMC to insure that appropriate investments are made for student activities and co-curricular activities (including funding opportunities for internships, study-travel programs, community service, and student research) to maintain the excellent range of opportunities that are currently available to students to enrich and enjoy their learning experience outside of the classroom.

Finally, it is important to remember that CMC will remain among the smallest national liberal arts colleges in terms of enrollment. In particular, enrollments at highly selective national liberal arts colleges average 1,600-1,900 students. Thus, even at 1,100 students, CMC will remain a distinctively small college.

· The Claremont Colleges Consortium. Claremont McKenna’s decision to grow comes at a time in which other members of The Claremont Colleges are also growing or are considering growth. The CMC Administration is committed to working affirmatively with our sister institutions to ensure that growth will not create any negative “externalities” for the other Colleges in terms of our respective academic programs or in terms of student or administrative services supported through the Claremont University Consortium.

· Financial Resources. The Treasurer’s Office will work to develop a financial model for the proposed growth that will incorporate the recommendations that will be developed through our planning process. Since these recommendations have yet to be finalized or approved, it is not possible to provide an estimate of the financial impact of growth on the College’s operations. Nevertheless, we are confident that we can implement growth in a manner that will have a positive or neutral impact on the College’s operations. In addition, although growth will necessarily involve some dilution of the College’s endowment per student in the short term, the effect is relatively small and, assuming that the College will pursue a fund-raising campaign in the next decade, should be offset by new endowment gifts over the next 5-7 years.

· The Opportunity to Extend Access to a CMC Education and to Strengthen Alumni Base. As noted above in the admission discussion, we are in a period of unprecedented growth in demand for higher education in the United States. Although the level of growth approved by the Board is modest, pursuing a plan for reasonable growth that maintains the outstanding quality of a CMC education represents an important commitment by the College to assist in meeting the responsibility of private higher education to educate America’s young people. Growth also presents an important opportunity to extend access to a CMC education to more students.

Finally, it is also important to highlight that responsible growth enables the College to deepen the impact of our mission through a continued expansion of our alumni base. Over time, the growth of our alumni base is an important factor in enhancing the value of a CMC education and in building a network of support for our graduates and future generations of CMC students.

As noted above, the next step for the College in this process is for the Administration to work collaboratively with faculty, students, staff, alumni, and with the other members of The Claremont Colleges to develop an implementation plan and timeline for the proposed growth. The Board of Trustees has requested that the Administration present a preliminary implementation plan and timeline for growth to 1,100 students at its next meeting on November 30, 2005.

I'm Head Of The Class, I'm Popular . . . .

Shockingly, people aren't in love with celebrities as elected officials.

Too bad they seem to get elected, then.

To be fair, I don't think one's film or television oeuvre should be held against them if they want to move into more meaningful public service. But my hunch is that its the sense of entitlement leaving voters cold. Schwarzenegger's constant self-congratulatory tone, his animosity toward those who came to power without the benefit of personal training and an agent, and his general hubris combined to make a dip in popularity inevitable.

Of course, it isn't just the Governor who suffers from a positive vibe deficit. A Field Poll shows that Warren Beatty - and actor and, let's be clear, absolutely nothing else closer to serving in office than his marriage to the co-star of The American President, has a 16% favorable to 48% unfavorable rating.

And this is surprising because . . . . .

Field Poll director Mark DiCamillio said, "Beatty's got an image problem that's hard to deal with."

Well, maybe for him, but I'm handling it fine, thanks. Really, is this guy running for anything yet? People are surprised when I say my first bid for office would likely be for the legislature - why not ask Beatty if he's planning on starting at the School Board level?

So if the premise supporting the discussion of candidate Beatty - or candidate Reiner for that matter - is that celebrity must be made to counteract celebrity, then why not get right down to it and enlist Linda Hamilton to run against Arnold. At least we know she's beaten him before. Twice.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Toot Toot

To get back on message - in a purely self-interested way - Phoblographer* was mentioned on Capitol Public Radio's Insight today and the site links here.

If you're visiting via that link - welcome! And please do take the time to scroll around a bit - we've devoted a fair bit of time lately to off-the-normal-track topics here. But don't worry - a political post is never far off.

So What Happens Now?

Unsurprisingly, there's been some email chatter this morning about last night's post on the CMC Student Body increase.

The number one question: so what do we do?

Answer: I'm not sure.

The most often mentioned option is "mobilize the alumni" but I'm not sure exactly how to best go about that - though thankfully, the young average median age of CMC alumni makes an email campaign to get the word out much more plausible than for an older institution.

The second most often mentioned option is to cease giving to CMC.

Here's where it gets tricky for me. I'm on the Alumni Giving Committee - and though I frequently miss the conference calls, I've still served on the committee for 2 or so years and believe that active giving to CMC is good for everyone. My biggest - okay, one of my biggest - complaints about UC Hastings is the utter lack of connection between alumni and the campus and the absence of a so-called "culture of giving" that helps make CMC what it is.

Of course, if they keep upping the numbers, what CMC is will change dramatically. What it might become will probably be a fine school. But it won't be my school. It won't be the CMC small-campus culture that drew me to the campus.

To non CMC readers, arguing about a difference in student body size between 1000 and 1100 or 1400 students might seem petty. But look at the percentages. It makes a huge difference. Huge.

When I wrote last night's post, and when I was talking to phonite and making my pledge, I thought about whether I should threaten to yank my funding. I don't give that much, though, so it's not like monetarily speaking, I can instill much fear.

I'd like to think, however, that my service as a student and alumna would make the administration concerned about whether or not someone like me - someone who owns a CMC pillow and had her own stadium blanket embroidered with the school name - would so much as consider no longer supporting the school. I really don't want to stop supporting CMC. But then again, if the CMC I support ceases to exist, why give a dime?

What I am going to do, however, is talk with the giving people about insuring that NOT ONE PENNY of my meager donation goes to building a new dorm or harming a stone of Badgley Garden. I'll probably kick my funds partly toward the Rose and the DC program and perhaps a little to the Ath this year.

But I am sick about these changes. President Gann, if you ever read this or hear about it, I implore you to knock it the hell off. Embrace the CMC niche and run with it. Or move on to a campus where you'll feel more comfortable. Pomona has 1500 students, why don't you go hang out with them.

Okay, I Get It Joel

So this latest Joel Stein column in the LAT got slammed about out and about in the 'sphere. At first, I thought I might've lost my journo-crush on the baby curmudgeon who does nothing so well as fall up the pecking order after opening his mouth too freely, too often. But the piece that started out snarkily calling Special Election voters suckers and opining that "every percentage point of voter turnout is just another justification for continuing this voting fad", actually up and bitch slaps Arnold, Swift-ly:

If California is giving up entirely on representational democracy, we've got to sex things up for our regular monthly elections. As Karl Rove figured out by throwing gay marriage on every state's ballot in the last presidential election, if you want people to come out, you've got to scare the crap out of them. . . .

At least the 2003 California recall was like watching pop culture explode all over politics, leading to an argument over the role of celebrity in democracy, a topic we've been dancing around since Ronald Reagan. And once we were paying attention, we started talking about incumbency and the power of special interest money. The second recall of a governor in U.S. history may have seemed silly, but it was really a populist uprising the likes of which we hadn't experienced since Richard Nixon was hounded out of office.

All last Tuesday did was cause people to talk about how unnecessary elections waste money. Maybe that in itself was worth it. I just hope your stupid vote didn't hurt the message.
Stein walks a fine line, to be sure. Sometimes sarcasm becomes so impenetrable that it's no longer capable of serving its purpose. I think Stein runs to the edge, but not over here. I'm still mulling though, so second opinions are welcome.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

An Open Letter To CMC

Dear President Gann and The CMC Board of Directors,

Where to begin . . .

Tonight, I received my annual Phonite call. Perhaps surprisingly, I look forward to this call all year long because I get to pester the unsuspecting sophomore who draws my name about life on campus, offer unsolicited advice, and reward her patience with a donation large enough to give them a bonus, even though I can't afford it. Yes, all, I am that alumna. I don't have deep pockets, but I like to think the proportion of my heart left at Claremont McKenna College makes up for that.

The lucky phoniter opened with the newest news that CMC's Board had recently approved increasing the student body by 60 students.

Wow, did this girl choose the wrong news.

Non-alum readers, 60 students might sound like a drop in the keg bucket - but for my little 1000 student college, it's significant.

Why is it so significant, you ask? Because to accommodate 60 students, CMC will need a new dorm.

The campus, as small as our student body, doesn't have much room for growth - so where are the powers that be considering planting the new dorm?

IN BADGLEY GARDEN.

Yes, Badgley Garden, where the class of 2001 enjoyed its first dry week toga party. Badgley Garden, where we celebrated the visit of the real Rudy by watching the reel Rudy on a cold, damp night. Badgley Garden, where the annual Luau gives Stags and Athenas the chance to wear the beach garb they wear anyway, but for a reason. Badgley Garden, from which countless classes have bid a fond farewell to their beloved alma mater.

Badgley Garden.

Some background: Back when I was a senior, I served as the student representative on the Strategic Planning Steering Committee. I came to know the Board of Governors at the time fairly well and found them to be dedicated, intelligent folks, more of whom were alums than you'd be likely to find on most governing boards. During that process, the topic of increasing student body size came up and led to many a contentious discussion. I was on the "no" side of the increase debate - and vehemently so.

It seemed to me then, as it seems to me now, that increasing the CMC student body is tied to a desire to boost CMC's position in the arbitrary, foolish US News & World Report rankings.

President Gann mentioned frequently during those Strategic Plan discussions that CMC's small size was one of the main reasons cited by students choosing to transfer from CMC to other institutions. Students who depart CMC prior to graduation become part of the school's attrition rate. High attrition rates get you dinged by US News. Get dinged in enough categories and your numbers tumble.

Except that retention/attrition rates do not a great college make. Lat time I checked, CMC's retention rate was in the mid to upper 80s. So why should the 85% or so of CMC students who chose a small college, have come to appreciate a small college, be penalized by the need to appease the 15% who exercise their right to move on to find a better match? Hell, half of marriages end in divorce, so CMC's doing alright, right?

Oh, and I'm not the only one who thinks that playing to US News is a bad way to run a railroad.

But I'm not there anymore. I'm not on the Board of Governors, faculty, or administration of the college. And while I'm a slightly-more-engaged-than-most alumna, I'm no where near as involved as others. So fine, you, President Gann and the Board, feel you need to increase the student body by 60 students, costing the college millions in construction costs to absorb the new bodies. Okay, for the sake of discussion, I'll assume you've made the right decision.

But must you go after our garden?

President Gann warned, and rightly so, that sometimes alumni can become so attached to a physical aspect of a campus that they jeopardize the natural growth and evolution of an institution. Emotional attachment is understandable, but it isn't always appropriate.

I think she was right on that. I was initially skeptical of the "pods" constructed on each North Quad dorm. But they are an architecturally natural extension of existing structures and didn't drastically alter the feel or look of North Quad.

However, I think there are limited situations in which alumni attachment to a physical aspect of campus is warranted. This is one of those times.

Please, don't move a single stone from that Garden. Mid Quad needs its open space. And many of us need our memories to remain attached to a physical space - one that, unlike dorms or dining halls, won't ever really need to be updated to remain useful.

Thank you for considering leaving Badgley Garden put. And thanks in advance for stopping this student body increase nonsense.

If I'd wanted to go to something Pomona or Berkeley sized, I would have, and could have, gone to Pomona or Berkeley.

Yours truly,

Christiana Dominguez

Some New Lawyers Walk Into A Bar

A big congrats to all my friends who passed the bar, including fellow blogger and Athena, Amber, Debbie, Debbie, Cheryl, Amanda, Graham, Monty, James, Sam, Joel (there, happy? see this is why I shouldn't list because I'll unintentionally bunch somone's panties) and, oh shoot, seems to have been a great day for everyone. Certainly makes me feel better about February . . . .

Thursday, November 17, 2005

'A Flawed Policy Wrapped in Illusion'

One more voice asking for change:

"It is time for a change in direction," said Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., one of Congress' most hawkish Democrats. "Our military is suffering, the future of our country is at risk. We cannot continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interests of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf region."

House Republicans assailed Murtha's position as one of abandonment and surrender, and accused Democrats of playing politics with the war. "They want us to retreat. They want us to wave the white flag of surrender to the terrorists of the world," Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said in a statement.

Murtha estimated that all U.S. troops could be pulled out within six months. A decorated Vietnam veteran, he choked back tears during his remarks to reporters.

Murtha's comments came just two days after the Senate voted to approve a statement that 2006 "should be a period of significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty" to create the conditions for the phased withdrawal of U.S. forces.

In recent days, President Bush and other top administration officials have lashed out at critics of the war and have accused Democrats of advocating a "cut and run" strategy that will only embolden the insurgency.

Vice President Dick Cheney jumped into the fray Wednesday by assailing Democrats who contend the Bush administration manipulated intelligence on Iraq, calling their criticism "one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired in this city."

Murtha, a Marine intelligence officer in Vietnam, angrily shot back at Cheney: "I like guys who've never been there that criticize us who've been there. I like that. I like guys who got five deferments and never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done."

Referring to Bush, Murtha added: "I resent the fact, on Veterans Day, he criticized Democrats for criticizing them."
Murtha's comments have given war-hungry, blind Republicans another opportunity to call the Democratic Party's war opposition (oh that it were unified in its degree and passion) reprehensible and irresponsible. Cheney called us liars. Murtha has two purple hearts.

Question of the Day: I wonder how many Democratic purple hearts it takes to equal 5 courageous Republican deferments. How about how many limbs? Kerry didn't have enough medals. Cleland apparently retained one limb too many to prove his courage. So how many does it take? Will Murtha's be enough?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

To Everything A Season


We've had the sad news of the day, but life is balance - so I'm more than pleased to offer some happy news. Long time commenter, friend, and former ASCMC President Josh Walter married his lovely fiance Marisa and we now have photographic proof. Big Phoblog congrats, best wishes, and love to the happy couple.

The Hardest Blogging Decision So Far

In blogging, we have the special position of not being required to blog about things we don't want to talk about. If our friends - political or otherwise - get bad press, we don't have to repeat it or mention it at all.

Today, though, a friend forwarded to me (and The Roundup linked to) what is likely the worst news I've woken up to this year and probably for many years.

Today, the Los Angeles Times reported that an Ex-Davis aide testified that he molested 2 boys over 30 years ago. Reading the headline, I was wondering if I'd even know the person referenced since, though I was always a Davis fan, I never worked in the Horseshoe.

But I did know him.

The man is John Stevens, former Chief of Staff to former Speaker Herb Wesson, my boss, and a fellow camp counselor and staffer at Camp Whittle.

The same camp at which I grew up and worked since the age of 5.

I can't remember how we discovered our common ancestry, but I remember thinking how great it was, since my memories of the camp are fond ones, it was such a major part of making me who I am today, and there are - I believe - few higher callings than camp counseling. If it weren't just a week per year, I'd make it a profession in a heartbeat.

John Stevens is also a ragger. That sentence means little to anyone unfamiliar with YMCA camping and everything to those familiar with it. He is, as I recall, a purple ragger. I bought him a ragger pin on my last trip to Whittle.

Camp Whittle is a sacred place. More can be done in a single week there to change a child's life than in an entire school year or an entire year in the child's home. The LA Metro YMCA serves, as you can imagine, a large population of underprivileged kids for whom camp is the highlight of the year, the only vacation they get from drug-addled neighborhoods, troubled homes, or just the regular stressors of kids' lives today.

As I write this, I'm not angry at John. Perhaps I will be. I think I should be. Thirty years is a long, long time. Then again, it is also a long time for those 2 boys.

My legal education and political upbrining, combined with a skeptical nature, usually put the breaks on accepting allegations as facts. But he admitted to these acts, so I don't even get to protect myself in the "alleged molestation" legal fiction. It is there in a court record and now in the newspaper and that's that.

You've noted by now, I'm sure, that this post has no direction and no point. But it had to be posted because I know this news hurt many people in the capitol who read it today. John Stevens was - is - I don't know- widely respected and admired. I felt privleged to count him as a contact and enjoyed that he knew me and would chat with me about various capitol goings-on. We started out at the beginning of Herb's Speakership over in the L.O.B. He, the biggest upcoming cheese, me the cheesiest young Fellow. And knowing we shared our camp experiences . . . that made it all the more special.

So I'm not angry. But I am tremendously, heartbreakingly sad.

Thirty years may give a molester time to work out his issues. But no number of years ever gives the victims back what they lost at his hands. A small part will always, always, always stay missing. And these aren't just words.

Two sacred areas of my life clashed here today in a manner I never could have expected - and the world is a lesser place for it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

First Foray Into Foolish Meme-ing

Or - "cd doesn't feel like being substantive today.

Jacked from Bamber who borrowed it from Will Work for Favorable Dicta's Energy Spatula (this and many week's blogger-I'd-like-to-meet), who stole it from . . .

Anyway - if you stop by for my erudite bitching and biting political commentary - come back later. If you don't mind sharing a few minutes of gazing at my navel, knock yourselves out:

10 FAVORITES

Favorite Color: Orange.
Favorite Food: Sandwich
Favorite Month: December, even though it has too many events in it.
Favorite Song: Lately - The Staunton Lick by Lemon Jelly
Favorite Movie: Don't ask a fluent film-speaker to pick one. Here's a few - Wet Hot American Summer, Xanadu, Love & Sex, The Best Years of Our Lives
Favorite Sport: Football (for watching anyway)
Favorite Season: Summer
Favorite Day of the week: Thursday
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: 3-way Tie - B&J's Chocolate Fudge Brownie FroYo; Ginger; Pumpkin
Favorite Time of Day: 10 am or 5pm, depending on season.

9 CURRENTS

Current Mood: Stressed.
Current Taste: For interesting flavours or crisps and biscuits.
Current Clothes: Squirrel t-shirt, black 'round-the-house shorts.
Current Desktop: A funny photo of a guy's face in a life preserver.
Current Toenail Color: None.
Current Time: 8:02pm.
Current Surroundings: My living room, piles of Maritime Law notes, and tufts of cat fur.
Current Thoughts: I hope Rory and Lorelei work things out tonight/I should be studying Maritime Law.

8 FIRSTS

First Best Friend: Mariel Down The Street.
First Kiss: DQ, in the snow, 1992. Or was it 1993?
First Screen Name: Er . . . .
First Pet: Rascal the cat.
First Piercing: Earlobes at the too old age of 13. At the doctor's.
First Crush: Jeff Murray. He's married now. And I ran into him almost exactly one year ago, quite randomly, in Cambridge, Mass.
First CD: I have no idea. But my first tape was the Bangles's Different Light.

7 LASTS

Last Cigarette: Dude, my mom reads this site.
Last Drink: Champagne. A lot of it. Saturday night.
Last Car Ride: Sunday, from Camarillo to SF.
Last Kiss: Wednesday, October 12, approximately 5:57pm.
Last Movie Seen: Love & Sex.
Last Phone Call: Miss Amanda Levy, birthday girl, and fashionista.
Last CD Played: All Over The World: The Very Best of ELO

6 HAVE YOU EVERS

Have You Ever Dated One Of Your Best Guy/Girl Friends: Yes. Come to think of it, I'm doing so right now.
Have You Ever Broken the Law: Yes
Have You Ever Been Arrested: No
Have You Ever Skinny Dipped: How about big-boned dipped?
Have You Ever Been on TV: Yeah, duh.
Have You Ever Kissed Someone You Didn't Know: Dude, my mom reads this site.

5 THINGS

Thing You're Wearing: my glasses.
Thing You've Done Today: Purchased a protective case for the iPod so I can take it outside safely. As safely as I can carry fancy toys anyway.
Thing You Can Hear Right Now: The two new housecats romping around upstairs.
Thing You Can't Live Without: RN, internet access, television. That wasn't things plural? Fine - RN
Thing You Do When You're Bored: Blog.

4 PLACES YOU'VE BEEN TODAY

1. Home
2. Class
3. The 47
4. Best Buy

3 PEOPLE YOU CAN TELL ANYTHING TO

1. Sandra.
2. RN.
3. You know, I tend to tell too many people too much. I probably shouldn't have three options available to me.

2 CHOICES

1. Black or White: White
2. Hot or Cold: Hot.

1 THING YOU WANT TO DO BEFORE YOU DIE:

Get it.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Say 'Allo To My Leetle Friend


New toy! New toy! My advice: get the Best Buy service plan because when your iPod breaks you get a new one. And if you're lucky, your iPod breaks just after it is being replaced and you'll get the comparable model - which will kick the old model's *ss. So, 20G, I loved you, but I don't miss you now that I have a new 30G iPod in my life.

This thing rocks.

And as soon as I get Spaced loaded on it, I will be technologically complete.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Scatter The Petals, Pop The Cork, Cut The Cake

Yes, those crazy kids Deb and Rich are getting hitched this weekend and Phoblog is hitting the road for the festivities. God-willing, that means no blogging for the next few days - but you kids have fun with the comments sections - but, as another blogger said before - have some people over, but no wild parties, you hear me?

In honor of my friends' big day, here's a link to one of my favorite, snarkfests of a site, Veiled Conceit, "A glimpse into that haven of superficial, pretentious, pseudo-aristocratic vanity: The NY Times' Wedding & Celebration Announcements." Now, D&R are the least pretentious people you'd meet, but even on the eve of their nuptuals, I know they'd appreciate the chance to make fun of all those other happy couples out there.

We snark because we care.

P.S. It's Veterans' Day. Go find and thank one, please. Here, I'll go first - Thanks, Dad.

P.P.S. And happy anniversary to my parents. So much marriage stuff in one weekend. Break out the almonds!

Update: Congrats! It was a gorgeous day and a gorgeous ceremony

Thursday, November 10, 2005

'Commander in Chic'

In keeping with Theme 2 of this week - Women in Office (Theme 1 being Voting: More or Less), here's an article on the same ol' stop describing our looks idea.

The article raises some valid and some invalid points. Too often we are given stylistic details about would-be women-electeds. But we are also offered some for the men-folk. The problem isn't the type of detail offered, but for what the detail is a shorthand. Bush clears brush, wearing a snug, sweaty t-shirt. Miers bakes a means sweet potato pie. Each detail is equally irrelevant to leadership or policy vision. But typically feminine traits are seen as liabilities - so we - women - get mad when they are raised. Typically male traits are predictors of success - virility, strength, courage, sweat, etc.

So how about we start discussing this differently: I think it's great that Miers bakes great pies. Baking requires attention to detail, it implies a respect for cultural traditions and familial history. It is a relaxing activity, a luxury for many people - like John Edwards's running hobby. My reaction to "feminine" attributes being played up in the media is - go for it. I'm just going to draw different conclusions and encourage others to do the same.

The liability here is that these women are feminine and whether or not any diminuative language is used when referring to their hobbies or character, we - women - immediately overreact when a candidate's broach or hairstyle is described in an article.

John Kerry's carved-from-stone face and imposing frame got plenty of ink. John Edwards, the fresh-faced cutie pie from the South made the voters swoon with his soft accent. We talk about men's appearances too, they are just glad when they haven't screwed up an outfit enough to get called out on their mismatched socks.

The piece takes special offense at this comment:

But the top prize for misogynistic Miers mumblings goes to the San Diego Union Tribune, whose columnist (and former congressman) Lionel Van Deerlin wrote, "In judging persons for public office, there are certain routine tests... in assessing a feminine prospect, I have to wonder -- would I wish to be married to her?" It's difficult to imagine more chauvinistic and irrelevant criteria for vetting a candidate for the nation's highest court. Yet while the Beltway buzzed about Miers' political opinions and crony status, Van Deerlin labeled her unsuitable not because of her lack of judicial experience but because, as a workaholic, "she doesn't meet my exacting standard"... as a potential wife! "Can it be any wonder she's single?," he asked, "What relationship could flower with a woman who works from 4 a.m. to 10 at night?"
Of course, what kind of relationship could flower with a woman who works from 4 am to 10 pm? Probably ones as strong as those with men who work the same hours. Make no mistake, male workaholics may be sorta-lauded in the boardroom, but they end up just as lonley in the bedroom, married or not, since they effectively alienate their families to become the model salarymen we love.

The piece also takes issue with Bush's "pit bull in size 6 shoes" comment.

It's hard though, isn't it, to pinpoint exactly what angers us about these comments. Is it that we get in trouble both for being feminine and for not being feminine enough? Is it that our gender's primary attributes are dictated by stereotypes? Or is it that our gender's primary attributes aren't sufficiently valued? Would it be wrong to judge a male candidate unworthy husband material and decide if we wouldn't hand over our marital trust, perhaps he doesn't deserve the public trust either?

I'm not sure, of course, exactly who I'm defending or attacking here. But I do think some narrative descriptions of candidates - male and female - is fine. It's the conclusions drawn from those descriptions that are the problem. I guarantee I judged legislators less suitable for office for their fashion faux paus - male and female - because if you can't be bothered about your appearance, then you probably can't be bothered about a lot of other things either. No, they needed all drench themselves in Dior, but coordinated shirts and suits, or outfits that look less stock-power-suit and more this-is-my-style would be nice.

Bet you didn't think I could start the week with my H&M fashion ink, move on to the role of women in both this past election and elected office generally, and then unite the two issues on one post, didja.

Well there it is.

The way I see it - women tend to feather their nests and themselves more often than do men. If their feathers get press attention, fine. If their feathers give rise to the inference that they are flighty - that's where we get into trouble.

More On Voting - The Why Of When

Via Election Law Blog: David Broder asks the question 'Why Vote on Tuesdays?', or rather, he covers the question, looking at the history of Tuesday voting, its reasons, and the movements to change the day:

And why Tuesday? The debates from the time tell us that Tuesday was deemed the most convenient day for what was then a largely rural society. Saturday was a workday on the farm. Sunday was the Lord's day, not to be profaned with partisanship. But it took a day for many farmers to reach the county seat in those horse-and-buggy times, so Monday was out as well. Tuesday or Wednesday would let them vote and return home in time for the weekend. But Wednesday was market day for many communities, so Tuesday it became by process of elimination.

What was a matter of convenience in 1845 is hardly the same today in our urban society. It is a working day for most Americans, which means that they have to leave early for work (as I did Tuesday to vote in Virginia) or stop by the polling place at the end of their day.

That means, among other things, that polls tend to be crowded in the early morning and the late afternoon and early evening, delaying or frustrating many would-be voters.

Tuesday is also a school day, and since many communities (including mine) use schools as polling places, they either have to cancel classes or arrange for the buses to discharge and pick up students from parking lots crowded with the cars of voters.
I think the historic reasons for voting on Tuesday are too easily dismissed as inapplicable today. Here's how I see the other available days of the week - with special consideration given to the young folks out there and how they apportion their week (being that I'm on the CYD Board and all):

Monday: Sucks. Why damn any candidate or issue with an pissy electorate with a case of the Mondays?

Wednesday: Hump Day! It's just so middle-of-the-road, no? Meetings scheduled, tedium of the work week, too marginal a day for an increasingly marginalized electorate.

Thursday: Thirsty. For college kids, 'nuff said. Thursday, by the way, is my personal favorite day of the week because none of the weekend's mystery has evaporated and there's so much Friday-promise in the air. With all that personal life distraction and end of the week rushing, is adding a vote going to help? What if NBC ever makes Thursday Must-See TV again?

Friday: No, no, no, Friday is every bit as much for drinking as Thursday and in fact is a Thursday recovery day and Saturday prep day. Friday is for happy hour.

Saturday and Sunday: Those days are for football, which leads me to chant in response to those who say/believe turnout would be higher on a weekend - a time specifically reserved for doing non-work, no-responsibility things - "bulllllsh***tttt, bulllllsh***tttt!" C'mon. That's like that national holiday idea - I just refuse to believe a vast majority of people wouldn't take that as a cue to get out of town, and no, they wouldn't sign up to vote absentee first. This country has an awfully backwards view of vacation time anyway (i.e.: we don't get any compared to the rest of our well-rested, well-traveled, broadened-horizoned, Euro friends).

So we've got poor little Tuesday left - a day with no point and nothing to look forward to save its Election Day honors.

Before testing a hypothesis with too many variables - like swapping the election day (weekends? what about Seventh Day Adventists, Orthodox Jewish, strict Christian sects, for whom one of the two days could not be used for voting?), why not add in some of the factors mentioned in the article such as increased vote-by-mail awareness and availability or early voting days or weeks?

Of course, anytime you allow people to vote early, you'll still get a bunch who want to wait because the story isn't finished yet. Campaigns design, and people expect, a narrative arc that - in a perfect world - hits the climax on Election Day or the day or two before. West Virginia implemented early voting - available at all (most?) county courthouses. For the two weekends prior to E-Day, voters could run on down and vote. How simple! It sort of attracted a bunch, and sort of didn't. It was new, so perhaps its popularity will grow.

California has some particular early vote stumbling blocks - for one thing, we're a HUGE state. A huge sprawling state. We don't have 58 centralized county courthouses. In San Francisco, a 7mi by 7mi city, having early vote available at City Hall makes it relatively accessible to anyone with a Muni pass or two legs. In Los Angeles, very few people would be close enough to, say, city hall, or the Norwalk-based registrar/recorder's office to make the effort.

And as we've established in earlier posts, apparently no Californian wants to get close to a courthouse - lest they be tapped for jury duty (dear god, no! give me my duty-free right to vote, please!).

I'm highly, highly skeptical about moving Election Day to a weekend or any other day of the week. Streamline polling places, encourage absentee voting (which is SO simple and has SUCH an efficient turnaround time - and I'm an LA County voter, so if they can be efficient . . .), or implement early vote.

After all the horses have been led to such easily flowing water, they're going to have to dip their heads and drink on their own. How much more must we do?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

'Pumping Irony'

Best Cobert Report Teaser Yet: Governor Schwarzenegger's reforms fail, "have Californians gone sane?"

'California Women Defeat Governor'

Athene in California's Heather Barbour credits California women and the gender gap with defeating Schwarzenegger's measures (and the rest of the offerings):

This election the Governor chose as his adversaries on teachers and nurses (traditionally women's professions), supported limits on abortion rights, and got behind a measure that could be sold as cutting education spending (a favorite issue for women). And voters never heard the pro-women message that could have been developed on Prop 77 -- namely that more competition means more women candidates.
I never really thought about it in those terms - but, yes, teachers and nurses are traditionally feminine professions. The only time I can recall the gender divide becoming a bit more apparent was when the Governor made his "I kick their butts" statement. Not only was the line lame, but since the faces of the nurses opposing him were nearly all female, there was a nasty violence-against-women angle that resonated more strongly given his past grope issues.

I don't know if I'd give women all the credit - but it was there on some level, I'm sure.

Some Questions For Readers

Is voting too difficult?

If so, what could be done to make it easier? What should be done?

Would those changes make a difference?

Is Redistircting Reform Dead?

Via Election Law Blog, Mickey Kaus's take on yesterday's results and what they mean for redistricting reform efforts:

Anti-gerrymandering reform lost in both California and Ohio. You might say it's time to take the fight to the courts--and there are valid constitutional arguments to be made, along Baker v. Carr lines, against partisan or pro-incumbent gerrymanders. But isn't it kind of difficult to argue that the courts need to intervene to make democracy fair after the voters, in a perfectly fair, non-gerrymandered state-wide election, have rejected the idea? This doesn't seem like a case of minority rights, where the majority's opinion shouldn't count. The vast majority of California voters are denied the chance to cast an effective ballot because they live in manipulated districts where the incumbent can't lose. They don't seem to care! Who are judges to tell them they should?

In this sense, the pro-reform movement is arguably worse-off than if the voters had never been asked. ...
I agree with the idea that the courts shouldn't step in on the issue - seems an obvious political question to me, which, as we know, the courts NEVER address. I also agree that the pro-reform side is worse-off - but then again, they haven't really been better off in a long time, if ever, have they? Shouldn't have tied the cause to this turkey of an election. Or that turkey of a "people's advocate" Ted Costa. Or Costa should've stayed out of this one. At any rate - let's blame Costa first, Schwarzenegger second.

Early And Often

Or just once.

Schwarzenegger's name was marked as having already voted when a poll worker was testing some procedures or some such nonsense. The issue was worked out, but it's what's buried a few grafs down that frosts me:

Schwarzenegger's aides were informed of the problem when they arrived Tuesday to survey the governor's polling station. When Schwarzenegger showed up later, a poll worker told the governor he would have to use a "provisional" ballot that allows elections workers to later verify whether the same person cast two votes. McCormack said the poll worker did the correct thing.

The governor insisted on using a regular ballot and was allowed to do so
So he "insisted," eh? Wow, bet that would've worked for everyone else, right? A provisional ballot is the proper protocol even when there's been an obvious error with the list. Why does he get special treatment?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

'Pennsylvania Voters Oust School Board'

More good electoral news:

DOVER, Pa. -- Voters came down hard Tuesday on school board members who backed a statement on intelligent design being read in biology class, ousting eight Republicans and replacing them with Democrats who want the concept stripped from the science curriculum.

Atta Girl

There's my county . . . .

With LA finally beginning to roll in, 75 finally flips creating, at 11:03pm and 55% of statewide precincts reporting, a neat little row of red Ns.

We'll see if it holds.

If 75 Is The Only Y . . .

Would the potential squeaker give Schwarzenegger the rhetorical edge? Along the lines of: see, those union manipulators mucked with reform but the glimmer of hope is that Californians have set them free so that in the future, they can't defuse my box-blowing bombs. Etc, etc.

"Special interests supporting the status quo" says Duf Sundheim, the CRP chairman - that's what we've seen today. Lots of money poured in, etc. He also says the guv had 70% approval rating in the polls and he had the courage to do something or other - then Sundheim likened Schwarzenegger's long term prognosis to NYC Mayor Bloomberg. Uh-huh. No mention is made, of course, of the steady, undeniable, basement-bound dip of his approval ratings over the course of this election. Approval ratings that might indicate that the voters didn't see him as courageous at all. They might imply the voters see him as, well, wrong.

Only time will tell.

No, wait, I think tonight's election results are pretty telling. But 2006's rhetorical war is just beginning.

Step On It, Los Angeles

LA County is dragging its large heels - the main page of their live results still says 0% of precincts are reporting. The Prop 75 page reports 2% reporting at 10:20pm. I would guess those 2% represent the very first absentees counted and/or the precincts closest to the Registrar's office. But who knows.

LA is likely going to flip the close props one way or the other - so c'mon, out with it already. Some of us have to be up early in the morning.

Early Reaction From The Other Side

Says one Republican friend and reader: "we'll work together starting Thursday, my ass."

Reep friend also calls for the heads of Murphy, Stutzman, Bryant, Costigan, and all the governor's advisers. "Clean house," is the request he makes. A focused policy agenda, however, is number one on the Reep holiday wish-list.

Along with the collective Republican 2 front teeth that have been squarely knocked out tonight.

Or There's Always Option Three

10:26pm - Make your speech before the results are final and give the let's all get along speech. Let's have a Big 5 meeting! Let's have bigger-is-better, radical ideas!

Let's just push ahead and ignore the fact that - The Voters Didn't Like Your Ideas. They Didn't Like What You Said Or How You Said It.

The local news anchor asked the on-scene reporter if this speech made it seem like he was just going to push ahead. Yes, said the savvy on-scene reporter.

Don't let him get away with it. If it humbles him - great. If.

And There He Goes

Rob Stutzman is on the local station already running the lines I knew he would. Someone, please, pay me to run on at the mouth - keyboard - like this. The guv's spokesman is saying that they were outspent by interests who want to prevent California from going forward.

I believe he also just said look, this guy doesn't need the job and if Arnold can't lead the state forward, than who can. And I'm only barely paraphrasing here. Amazing. Simply amazing. I wish I'd ordered the TiVo in time for tonight.

Will Arnold still run for re-election? Will the media/voters buy his sad story?

The Story So Far

9:55pm - So, with 27% of precincts reporting (and at last look, not uberfish counties like SF or LA), it looks like most things are going down, with the exception of 73 and 75. So far. That will likely change. in fact, the local NBC station has 73 down already.

So let's say everything fails. What's next? Spin baby - more spin than I've been spinning in spinning class all week. The polls have looked bad for weeks - so expectations game-wise, the governor's loss won't be as, er, lossy as it might've been otherwise.

So will Schwarzenegger play the woe-is-me card as I predicted earlier this week? Will the true will of the people have been thwarted by evil special interests? Some army of dissemblers dispatched to undermine his box-blowing mission?

When the judgment comes down, who is to blame? Schwarzenegger could score some major points by elegantly accepting that his reforms weren't the way to go, that they were presented improperly, and that Californians have firmly, decisively rejected this special election strategy of running over the legislature and undermining representative government. He could salvage his image that way - but more likely than not, this is someone else's - anyone else's - fault.

Either way, I hope the media refuse Schwarzenegger a pass on this one. He was wrong. The voice of the people sure sounds different when it isn't singing your praises, eh Governor?

CD's Rule Number One

Which is: Never Ask A Question The Answer To Which You Do Not Want The Answer.

That rule applies in many serious situations. It guides a lot of courtroom interaction. And here, we apply it to the policy discussion context - i.e.: never ask a question requiring a wonked out answer if you don't want a wonked out answer.

I don't know if he wanted one or not, but when Josh Trevino asked how today's Special Election threatens representative democracy, I had no choice but to wonk out and tell him. So here's what I wrote. I welcome all comments on both the opinion expressed in my comment and my gross simplification of political history (Professors Pitney and Blitz, I apologize in advance):

Glad you asked Josh - though be warned, you've now opened the door for me to wonk out in a way I usually reserve for my own blog.

As I'm sure you recall from your high school civics class, the Greeks experimented with direct democracy and realized that it flopped when the population exercising it grew beyond, oh, let's say 7 people or so. Any true majority view ran the very real risk of getting lost in the white noise of everyone having a literal, direct say in running the state. So they had to get a bit creative with how they ran things. Compressing and mutilating years of political history gets us to the representative democracy. A republic. The form of government guaranteed to us in the Federal constitution and the term that best describes our current system of government (sorta).

The idea is that - see, we're all busy people who'd like to spend more time enjoying the guarantees of freedom, life, liberty, etc, than we would like to spend enacting the laws that guarantee it. So we elect people to take care of it for us - endowing in them our unalienable rights, etc [cue "1776" songs here].

In California, we have 3 branches of government: legislative, executive, and judicial. The representative branch of government is the legislative branch. The executive branch is supposed to execute the laws written and passed by the legislators, and the judicial branch is there to hash out what the hell the first one said and how the second one got it right/wrong/took a walk/etc.

But in 1911, under the corrupt, unbearable influence of greedy railroad dudes, Californians said "enough" and gave themselves the rights of initative, referendum, and recall. Ah the Progressives . . . . Hiram Johnson, the governor at the time, is the historic architect of the 3 powers and if you have a problem with the consequences of his reforms (ie: the 2003 recall and subsequent selection of Arnold Schwarzenegger and the unending California election season), you can visit his grave and have words with him - he's buring in Colma (file that under slightly useful local trivia for your next pub quiz emergency).

So now, what have we got? We have a branch 2 dude (that's Arnold) talking about how's going to do branch 1's job by taking legislation straight to the people via the initiative process, removing our representatives from the process altogether. The practical effect is that most voters learn what they can from 30 second, absurd television ads and a few ballot pamphlet paragraphs, if they haven't already thrown it out come Election Day.

More practical effect: anyone with a few million dollars can qualify ANYTHING for the ballot. The courts don't have the power to say "yo, dude, you wrote that wrong/into the wrong section of the code/it's stupid/etc" - their power to pre-adjudicate ballot measures is highly limited to a few issues (single-subject rule; prohibition on revisions, etc).

More reality? There's a term in political science known as "drop-off." That describes what happens when people drawn to the poll for the top of the ticket (Presidential elections, etc) give up on the rest of the ballot because it either stretches on too long, they don't know as much about everything else on there, or they just don't care. This is their right as voters, of course, but it undermines the idea that ballot measure are "The Voice of The People." They are more likely The Voice Of Well-Funded Interests Who Could Get Their Targeted Language On The Ballot And Run Enough Ads To Convince People To Stick Around Long Enough To Vote Their Way.

This election, featuring very few candidates, will play out a bit differently - but in the normal course of things, the butchered "direct democracy" idea doesn't bear out and usually serves to hamstring our elected representatives to the point that they can't legislate effectively. Which in turn makes the well-funded types or others antsy. Which makes them run more initiatives, which makes the legislators look like they aren't doing anything . . .Rince. Repeat. Dizzy yet?

Now - there are some - some - things that might need to go directly to voters. And those things are provided for in the State Constitution. But we've mucked up that bad boy too. If you haven't read it - take a moment to marvel at its girth: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/const.html.

Little of what Arnold is trying to pass was fully cooked by the time it landed on the ballot. For instance, my personal preference is for redistricting reform - the sooner, the better. Except not the way Ted Costa wrote it. He botched it. Bad. And Arnold's threats of "if you don't do it, i'll go to the ballot box" aren't really the best way to start meaningful deliberation about needed reforms. He wanted to blow up boxes, but all he's really terminating is representative government by removing the representatives as often as he can.

I elect legislators to legislate. I don't elect the governor to legislate. I certainly didn't vote for the recall or Arnold, but even if I had, I would not - and do not - favor any governor who's main selling point is "vote for me so I can get rid of that pesky first branch of government."

So I voted No on everything today because I completely disagree with the motivations for this election and I want today's results to send a message that Californians are smart enough to protect they form of government guaranteed to them by the United States Constitution and given them by their own State Constitution.

There. I have wonked.
By the way, the number one rule to which I refer in the title of this post is a general rule. My number one political rule is: Never Leave The Original In The Copier - though I'll admit that Jack Pitney taught me that and many others have learned that the hard way. Political Rule Number Two is: Always Confirm The Microphone Is Off.

Happy Election Day! Go Vote No!

Classics No More?

Having been raised with the belief that, when it comes to fashion, the classics never die (and therefore, investing in high quality, timeless pieces is a good use of ones limited clothing resources) articles like this one on the rise of disposable fashion frustrate me.

It's hardly news that yet another aspect of our on-demand, in-the-now culture is succombing to the disposa-ethic. And I'm as excited as anyone that H&M is on the way. But if their market foothold forces other makers to slash quality (much faster than they will slash prices, duh), who wins? Closet makers, I suppose. Dry cleaners lose because why clean it if you're going to toss it.

I fear for the future of the little black dress.

Hey - Watch Me Throw Myself In Traffic!

Via today's Roundup - news of Carole Migden taking some, uh, time off from her favorite job:

Sen. Carole Migden told Capitol Weekly yesterday that she is taking a "temporary leave" from her job as chairwoman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee. "Midgen says she is taking the leave to have more time to focus on Steve Westly's gubernatorial campaign. She will remain in the Senate, but with a lighter work load.

"I'm going to be talking to [the Westly campaign], and I'm sure I'll have some fancy title," she said. "But I intend to spend a great deal of time day-to-day working on this campaign, and I wanted a minimal workload in the Senate during the next six months."
Okay, so I know it's not like she's taking a leave from the Senate altogether, but only can a pistol of an SF-area representative get away with saying, on the record, that she's going to be too busy politicking to work her regular load in the office to which she was elected.

I love Carole Migden. Her approps committee hearings are the stuff of legend (word of advice: never, ever chew gum in 4202). But I still find her statement a bit shocking. Refreshingly honest, I suppose, from an elected - the folks who usually spend most of their time singing woe-is-me-I'm-so-busy-in-the-Capitol - so perhaps that's the source of my shock.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Go Ahead, Make Another 'Judgment Day' Joke

You politically immature nut.

The moment Schwarzenegger manages to work "Jingle All The Way" into his campaign, I'll consider voting yes on some of his measures.

Oops, too late. Already voted no. On all of them.

Yes, even that one.

I urge you to do the same.

Still don't know about the proposals? Don't know where to vote? Check the Secretary of State website.

Jesus Hates A Quitter

I already linked to this article once today, but I wanted to highlight another graf from the Chron piece on the Dover Monkey Trial:

Intelligent design is science, defendants say, because the "irreducible complexity" of some aspects of the natural world cannot be accounted for otherwise
So, those who would have intelligent design taught in science classes are making the argument that gee, this stuff is hard, I give up, therefore, God did it?

God don't dig on the lazy, c'mon now.

The intelligent design people seem incapable of uttering the word "yet." Add "yet" to the end of the above quotation: " . . . some aspects of the natural world cannot be accounted for otherwise, yet." See, that's science - acknowledging that we don't know everything yet but we'll do our damndest to try. Intelligent design is the theoretical equivalent of a period. As in, game over. If it wants to be taught as though it were a legitimate scientific theory (a designation denied to evolution), then it should adopt a "yet" philosophy.

Except it won't.

Intelligent design is most please with complacency. It rests on the premise that those affected by the design seek not intelligence, but certainty - even if the cost is ignorance.

Mommas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Biologists

Because really, they're going to be burned at the stake again soon.

How can a country claiming to be a world leader be so stupid about science. Any West Wing viewer should've snickered at Arnie Vinnick's debate speech about how great our scientists are. Okay, so maybe they are world leaders, but when our leaders allow their findings to be paired equally with religious dogma, what have we to be proud of?

More on the Dover case and what will be a telling Election Day here.

Gov 20 Memories, High Turnout Dreams

On the first day of Jack Pitney's Gov 20 (that's the honors section, thank you very much), he asked a question that's stuck with me for the past - good lord - nine years: Does every vote count?

Of course, I argued - of course it does. I based my answer on the same argument your mother uses against you when you pick flowers from a public garden: if everyone picked a flower, would there be any left to enjoy? Conversly, if everyone stayed home, how would anyone get elected?

But the numbers really are against me. Even in the frustratingly close last few elections, one vote may or may not have made the difference - but, as this NYT article, "Why Vote?" explains, close elections can actually result in the removal of that monumental power from the margin to the courts:

The odds that your vote will actually affect the outcome of a given election are very, very, very slim. This was documented by the economists Casey Mulligan and Charles Hunter, who analyzed more than 56,000 Congressional and state-legislative elections since 1898. For all the attention paid in the media to close elections, it turns out that they are exceedingly rare. The median margin of victory in the Congressional elections was 22 percent; in the state-legislature elections, it was 25 percent. Even in the closest elections, it is almost never the case that a single vote is pivotal. Of the more than 40,000 elections for state legislator that Mulligan and Hunter analyzed, comprising nearly 1 billion votes, only 7 elections were decided by a single vote, with 2 others tied. Of the more than 16,000 Congressional elections, in which many more people vote, only one election in the past 100 years - a 1910 race in Buffalo - was decided by a single vote.

But there is a more important point: the closer an election is, the more likely that its outcome will be taken out of the voters' hands - most vividly exemplified, of course, by the 2000 presidential race. It is true that the outcome of that election came down to a handful of voters; but their names were Kennedy, O'Connor, Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas. And it was only the votes they cast while wearing their robes that mattered, not the ones they may have cast in their home precincts.
Economists - those other CMC demigods - argue that rational individuals abstain from voting. On the eve of yet another damn California statewide election, its hard to feel like a rational voter, that much is true, but what about the process generally?

The article offers a few possibilities: we're stupid and think we matter; we like games of chance - voting is like the lottery so what the hell, try to change the world like you try to change your bank account; or the civic-duty argument has school-house-rocked its way into our minds and guilt propels us to the polls. Well, a little less than half of us, anyway . . . .

It's an interesting article, to be sure - and will make for great cocktail party discussions (if you attend the same wonky parties I do anyway).

Oh - and in yet another bit of proof that I may be missing my calling, I began this post (as I routinely do) while reading the article, meaning I didn't have a complete picture at the start of where the piece would go. So when the NYT busts the flower-picking argument, know that I got there on my own. For whatever that's worth.

At any rate - read the article and ponder the Swiss model of voting and its results. Then think about whether arguments about making voting "easier" would result in the massive behavorial change that is the stuff of activits' dreams. I will forever maintain that leading voters to water won't likley lead them to quench their thirst for democratic participation. A war, economic downturn, fiscal crises, and rampant corruption never seems to make them thirty. I'm not sure what will.