$175,700 a year not enough (for a Republican) to put kids through college.

Tom Ridge, our Secretary of Homeland Security, is considering resigning from office, because he “needs to earn money in the private sector to put his teenage children through college”, say others in the Bush Administration according to CNN.

Also, according to CNN, Ridge’s decades of public service have left him with “relatively little savings” – this after six years as Gov. of Pennsylvania, where he earned $138,316 a year.

He owns an $873,000 home with a $784,000 mortgage, and his financial disclosure reports from 2003 show that he owned between $122,000 and $787,000 in equities.

This prompts the question: if a man currently making $175,000 a year, who has been earning a six figure salary for almost a decade can’t manage to accumulate enough savings to finance the college education of two kids, what hope do the rest of us have?

Or perhaps the question should be: has the ruling political class in our country had its expectations so distorted by close association with private sector potentates that they’ve lost all perspective?

Seems like it to me.

Thomas Leavitt, posting from Santa Cruz, CA (and earning well under six figures a year, with two kids).

Go See the Novak Picture!

Go read the Burnt Orange Report about Natasha and Novak, and see the picture of Novak just before he turned into a bat and flew away.

I was there, too, and Natasha of Pacific Views chased Novak down the street, holding out a microphone, saying “Mr. Novak, do you have any comment on the aftermath of your outing of Valerie Plane?”

It was something to see, especially coming from us HAYSEEDS! Us HAYSEEDS didn’t get the memo saying not to ask, what Michael Moore calls, THE QUESTIONS.)

"Anti-American" Marketing Campaign?

This came in an urgent emergency e-mail from Heritage Foundation’s Town Hall, in its entirety (please, sue me, and get FOX to sue me, too!):

To: Conservative Friends

From: Center for Individual Freedom

Re: Subway’s Anti-American Tray-Liners

Dear Friends,

I am writing today to ask for your help on an issue of utmost importance.

It has come to our attention that SUBWAY, an American company, is using this tray liner (see below for English translation) in their restaurants in Germany and across Europe. In a shameless and anti-American effort to increase sales in Europe, SUBWAY restaurants are promoting the film, “Super Size Me,” a documentary about a man who gains weight by gorging himself at McDonald’s for 30 days straight without any exercise. Learn more about “Super Size Me”, and its irresponsible message.

The most offensive part of this new advertising campaign is the display of an obese Statue of Liberty holding a burger and fries in her hands. The headline screams “Why are Americans so fat?” (The headline uses the German word “Amis” – a derogatory term for Americans.)

Simply put, SUBWAY’s advertising strategy is a new low in corporate behavior — exploiting cultural tensions and inflaming anti-American sentiment abroad just to sell more sandwiches. It is appalling that SUBWAY, a U.S. company, would attack Americans and the Statue of Liberty in a time of war … just to gain market share.

In response, the Center for Individual Freedom (www.cfif.org), together with Frontiers of Freedom (www.ff.org) and several other organizations, has launched its own campaign to demand that SUBWAY immediately end its anti-American marketing ploy.

To be effective, we desperately need your help!

An excerpt from today’s Houston Chronicle, which reported on this issue in a front page article, reads: “SUBWAY officials thought a tie-in with a movie featuring [Jared] Fogle and raising awareness about the nation’s weight problem ‘just seemed to make sense’ for a company that has just launched a campaign to fight childhood obesity,” Kane said.

There you have it folks. No denial, no apology, no shame.

Please join us in demanding that SUBWAY immediately halt its anti-American propaganda scheme overseas. Call SUBWAY CEO Fred DeLuca today! Urge him to stop his cynical advertising campaign against the United States. The phone number for Mr. DeLuca at Subway’s Executive Offices in Connecticut is 800-888-4848, ext. 1401.

I also want to encourage you to write letters to the editor of your local newspapers condemning SUBWAY for its anti-American marketing scheme. And to make this campaign successful, it’s critical that you help spread the word by forwarding this call to action to your friends and family.

We need your help. Let SUBWAY know that Americans refuse to tolerate their shameless gambit. Take Action NOW!


Jeff Mazzella

Executive Director

Center for Individual Freedom


Translation of Subway Tray-liner–Germany

Michael Moore quote:

“The only time I have been scared/frightened for my life has been going through a McDonald’s drive-thru.”

Trayliner text:

Why are Americans so fat?

In the Michael Moore tradition, New York filmmaker Morgan Spurlock does some deep questioning and self experiments for 30 days on products from the world’s largest fast food company.

Astounding revelations…scary liver levels and horrifying blood levels that would cause any doctor the highest degree of alarm.

In this top satire, which won the prize for best direction from Sundance 2004, Spurlock explores the questions of responsibility between big business and consumers, and the big money which contributes to this “Fast Food” culture, and how to make Americans healthy again. An ironic hit into the stomach that is enriched by fat and facts behind this dubious mega industry.

Passage near Statue of Liberty:

You care about what you eat and everything isn’t equal? Then you shouldn’t miss this film about foolish intake. It will open your eyes.

This is “attacking Americans in a time of war.”

What this REALLY is, is flat-out intimidation. It looks to me like Subway’s check was late and they’re being made an example of. Seriously, there are probably meetings going on between the organization putting out this letter and Subway management, looking for a $500,000 contribution.

The Greatest Band in the World Today

“Amelia” is a classy indie band whose self-released CD is getting some airplay (reviews below). If you just hate alt country or anything that’s called “retro”, you won’t like them, but if you like that kind of thing they are in the top rank. Their lyrics tend toward the edgy and dark. I love their stuff but then, I’ve never been known for my objectivity.

This link should take you directly to free Rolling Stone downloads: http://tinyurl.com/66dup

You can find out more here: http://www.ameliaband.com

Buy here: http://www.ameliaband.com/store.html


“Sultry and sophisticated cabaret pop with just a whisper of twang that flits in and out like a friendly ghost. The music of Amelia is a staggeringly cool exercise in understatement”. Clay Steakley, “Performing Songwriter”

“‘After All’ opens with the sound of a needle being dropped into the groove of an LP, or maybe an old 78, telegraphing Amelia’s retro approach to their music, but there’s nothing old-fashioned about their playing, songwriting or the smoky confidence of lead singer Teisha Helgerson.” Waxed J. Poet (?), “No Depression”

“Subtle bands like Amelia usually count on such audience diligence, but the indie group from Portland, Ore., is immediately addictive with ‘After All.'” Chuck Campbell, Scripps

A couple of years ago I swore I’d never use my awesome blogging powers for selfish purposes, but sooner or later each of us must fall.

My disclaimer: my son plays on this album and wrote some of the great songs.

Amelia’s disclaimer: they like me fine but they are not terribly political and would rather not be identified with my vivid persona.

Lots of dirt on Bush from the 9/11 report

While everyone else has been having fun in Boston, I’ve been plugging away at the 9/11 Commission report (*sniff*).

I’ve come up with some results. Bush doesn’t look good in the report, but you have to search things out. If the facts were embarassing for Bush or for Clinton, the bipartisan commissioners reported them without spelling out their significance. And while they did leave stuff out, there’s a lot to work with in there.

1. Despite many urgent warnings, Bush took almost no action on terrorism before 9/11. On August 6 he was informed by PDB that Osama Bin Laden intended to strike within the U.S. He left for a month-long vacation the next day, and did not talk with anybody about this new information until after the 9/11 attack had taken place.


(Text of Bush’s Aug. 6 PDB)


2. Easy-to-get Saudi visas made Osama’s job a lot easier. The problem was bipartisan, but Bush made it worse and, for fear of offending the Saudis, was very slow to correct the situation. There are some very odd twists and turns in this story. For example, how did Armenia get lumped in with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan?


3. Bush and Ashcroft have a propensity for fibbing and passing the buck.


4. Contrary to the media spin, the 9/11 report is devastating for Bush. Where comparisons can be made, Clinton’s pre-9/11 performance was definitely better than Bush’s (which was wretched).


5. Before 9/11 Ashcroft had no interest in terrorism and took no action on it whatsoever, despite repeated attempts to talk to him about the subject. The day before 9/11 he denied a request for additional counterterrorism funds.


Revised 10:46 PDT

Balloon Drop

I think being there for a balloon drop is one of the more wonderful experiences in life. Here’s one picture. More later, but it might be tomorrow, after I get home.

Actually, I named this picture “BD1” when I uploaded it. Is that too Hayseed? Should I have given it a longer name?

Info For the Hayseeds

Through Dave Winer I found Cybertourists in Boston. It’s full of great professional journalism like:

With a few exceptions, most of the credentialed bloggers came off like cyberhayseeds in the big city. Many dared for the painfully obvious as they updated their posts. Most of the blogging entries I have read ranged from the insufferably pedantic to the sublimely mediocre. There were exceptions, of course, but the see-me, hear-me tenor of their reporting was only exceeded by the vapidity of the banal commentaries peddled as analyses.

Did they get co-opted? Sure seems that way at first glance. Maybe the ego-lifting moment of their 15 minutes of prime-time fame got in the way of clear thinking. Or maybe they were simply starstruck at rubbing shoulders in the lvoiine for the men’s room with folks like Ben Affleck and Warren Beatty. I remember covering my first political convention as a college junior in 1976 and how wowed I was when bandleader Peter Duchin deigned to smile at me.

But these are big boys and girls. After spending years belittling the shortcomings of the mainstream media, they had me expecting more. Instead, I had to content myself with gems such as, “Bill Clinton looks really small from the upper tiers of the Fleet Center.” Really? If that knocks your socks off, my advice would be to take in the view from the bleachers at Fenway Park sometime.

The thing is, pretty much every insult he flings at the bloggers I took as compliments! Seriously!

Meanwhile, Paul Krugman writes about the Big City journalists today:

The failure of TV news to inform the public about the policy proposals of this year’s presidential candidates is, in its own way, as serious a journalistic betrayal as the failure to raise questions about the rush to invade Iraq.

It says a lot that Charles Cooper COVERS things like bloggers, yet he is so far from “getting it.”

People who read Seeing the Forest and other weblogs learn a lot more about what is happening to their country than people who get their information from the Big City professionals. I mean hard, factual information that is important for citizen participation in a democracy. But that isn’t all that blogging — at least THIS blog — is about. It’s ABOUT the “hayseed” perspective. It’s ABOUT being told what it’s like to actually BE in a convention for the first time, and meet famous people, and what a balloon drop is like from the balcony. It’s ABOUT seeing things through the eyes of SOMEONE WHO IS LIKE THEM.

Scroll down and read the interview with the anarchist, including the invitation to Ricky to leave a comment to make sure his perspective is voiced correctly, and the rest of the comments and tell me where you’re going to find anything like that in a Big City paper. Then scroll down a little further and look at the pics starting with the one FROM THE BALCONLY — only a Hayseed would show THAT — and the rest of the pics, and tell me which Big City journalist would have posted those. And then tell me if this is a good thing or a bad thing. I’m getting plenty of e-mail from other hayseeds asking for more just like that. I don’t know if I have any Big City readers, though, since that’s what counts.

I’m working on a serious piece about all of this, but like I said a few days ago, I gotta get home, walk the dogs, eat actual food at actual mealtimes, etc. before I can really digest what I have seen this week.

Oh, Please!

U.S. Lacks Records for Iraq Spending:

“U.S. civilian authorities in Baghdad failed to keep good track of nearly $1 billion in Iraqi money spent for reconstruction projects and can’t produce records to show whether they got some services and products they paid for, a new audit concludes. “

However, spending in restaraunts in Washington and Dallas, and orders for private jets are WAY up.

The Fear III

Fear of Death Wins Minds and Votes, Study Finds:

“President Bush may be tapping into solid human psychology when he invokes the Sept. 11 attacks while campaigning for the next election, U.S. researchers said on Thursday.

Talking about death can raise people’s need for psychological security, the researchers report in studies to be published in the December issue of the journal Psychological Science and the September issue of the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

‘There are people all over who are claiming every time Bush is in trouble he generates fear by declaring an imminent threat,’ said Sheldon Solomon of Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, who worked on the study.

‘We are saying this is psychologically useful.’

Jeff Greenberg, a professor of psychology at the University of Arizona in Tucson, said generating fear was a common tactic.

‘A lot of leaders gain their appeal by helping people feel they are heroic, particularly in a fight against evil,’ Greenberg said in a telephone interview from Hawaii, where he presented the findings to a meeting of the American Psychological Association.

‘Sometimes that may be the right thing to do. But it is a psychological approach, particularly when death is close to peoples’ consciousness.’ “

Roosevelt: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” Bush: “Be afraid. I want you all to be afraid.”

“In one we asked half the people to think about the September 11 attacks, or to think about watching TV,” Solomon said. “What we found was staggering.”

When asked to think about television, the 100 or so volunteers did not approve of Bush or his policies in Iraq (news – web sites). But when asked to think about Sept. 11 first and then asked about their attitudes to Bush, another 100 volunteers had very different reactions.

“They had a very strong approval of President Bush and his policy in Iraq,” Solomon said.

Gosh, you don’t think the Bush campaign has employed psychologists who already figured this out,, do you? Nah – no one would do that to other people on purpose, just to get elected, would they?

The volunteers were aged from 18 into their 50s and described themselves as ranging from liberal to deeply conservative. No matter what a person’s political conviction, thinking about death made them tend to favor Bush, Solomon said. Otherwise, they preferred Kerry.

“I think this should concern anybody,” Solomon said. “If I was speaking lightly, I would say that people in their, quote, right minds, unquote, don’t care much for President Bush and his policies in Iraq.”

An E-mail I Received

Here’s an e-mail I just received (from Frances Cherman — with a ‘C’) about the convention center:

Why is the security-conscious Democratic party holding its national convention at Boston’s FleetCenter when everyone knows Fleet is public enema #1?