Politics: November 2004 Archives

I just learned that the donuts I love to hate are more distasteful than I had thought.

Krispy Kreme* contributed $90,260 to the Republican Party and only $1,842 to the Democratic Party during the 2003-2004 election cycle, according to data assembled by the creators of a new (and very interesting) website, Choose The Blue, designed to help consumers identify the politics of the corporations whose products and services they patronize.

So not only are these donuts bad for their patrons' health and bad for at least one of the communities in which a plant/store is located, but they subsidize the regime which threatens the nation and the world.

But maybe the relationship is about to come apart. Yesterday's donut star is also in trouble and even their Republican friends may not be able to bail them out.

The corporation's earnings are sharply down, the result, according to the NYTimes, of "slipping sales and underperforming franchise operations."

The disappointing news is the latest in a string of troubles for Krispy Kreme. It is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission for the aggressive manner in which it accounted for franchises that it bought back and for the prices paid for some of these franchises. Last month, the investigation was upgraded to a formal inquiry.

This year, the company's stock, which once traded as high as $50, has been in free fall.

But what do I know about this financial esoterica? I admit that my relationship with the un-donut company is on a personal level, and it bagan just after they first opened a New York location. I tasted their incredibly-hyped product and found that I really hated it. For this kind of sugar and fat, if I'm going to support a chain store, I'd rather follow the example of the gentleman in the picture at the bottom of my previous post: He's licking a cone just purchased at the neat little Ben & Jerry's shop to the right of the Krispy Kreme. Now there's a politically-wholesome treat I could support!

* According to Choose The Blue, "Corporate totals are based on donations from PACs, employees, subsidiaries and affiliates for the 2003-2004 election cycle."

[thanks to Barry for the Choose The Blue site tip]

Sentencing of the four remaining M26 defendents, until now scheduled for November 18, this Thursday, has been stayed pending the New York State Court of Appeals decision on whether or not it will review the unsealing of their older dismissed cases. This means that unless there is a last minute change there will not be any significant activity in court this week other than an announcement of the rescheduled date.

The defendents will know in four to eight weeks whether the Appeals Court will consider their petition. If the Court of Appeals agrees to review the petition, the defendents expect that sentencing will continue to be stayed in the interim. The review decision itself would not come until next string at the earliest.

If it decides not to review the petition, there will be no higher recourse and the D.A.'s sentencing memorandum will stand. They will be sentenced as Judge Stolz sees fit, which could mean anywhere from zero to 365 days in jail. If it decides in their favor, it will be, as Steve Quester writes, a great victory for the entire civil rights community in New York, and these defendents could be sentenced only with jail time effectively off the table altogether.

I will post more developments as they happen, including of course any and all future court dates.

Ah, how the sledge of justice does plod on.

He's gone. Colin Powell's finally gone, and under the most cowardly of circumstances, just slipping out the back door quietly to no good purpose, and not three years ago, not two years ago and ultimately not at any time before November 2, but instead only days after the apparently successful election campaign of the man for whose stupidity and insane belligerance he destroyed whatever reputation he may* have assembled years ago.

That same cowardice, in the line of his duty as Secretary of State, is responsible for the deaths of perhaps over a hundred thousand Americans and Iraqis.

Powell's legacy will, and not incidently, include his argument that the U.S. armed services couldn't (shouldn't?) be integrated - for homosexuals, that is. I'm sure however that he would have made the usual exception for times of war like the present, when they are needed for cannon fodder.

A very small man indeed.

*I'll leave it to others, who know much more than I do, to comment on Powell's early, very problematic career in the Viet Nam war (a Mai Lai cover-up is apparently only part of it) and in the Iran-Contra affair (coordinating the sale of missiles to Iran), and I'm sure they will.

[thanks to Elise Engler for the reminder about Powell's early days]

David Wojnarowicz untitled (1988-89) collage on masonite 39" x 32" detail

David could make the stones weep, but he could also make them scream. Last night we were welcomed by PPOW and Poets House to a tribute to the artist and writer David Wojnarowicz, who died of AIDS complications in 1992. The evening was scheduled for one of the last days of the gallery's current show, "Out of Silence: Artworks with Original Text by David Wojnarowicz." Five writers, artists and activists read from his texts or delivered original work inspired by his art and his rage.

For someone who had met David and who had been familiar with and in awe of his power for twenty years, the most surprising thing about the evening was the description and engagement of the overflow crowd; most of the people in the room were too young to have known the man whose memory brought them together last night.

The young novelist and poet Douglas A. Martin read an excerpt from Wojnarowicz's powerful memoir, "Close to the Knives," the scene where the artist/poet describes an erotic encounter with a stranger inside his "salesman station wagon" parked off a deserted road somewhere in Arizona. This was more of a performance than a reading. David was in the room.

Douglas A. Martin inside David Wojnarowicz

His former lover, Tom Rauffenbart, reminded many in the room that David was not just an angry man. A child who loved life of all kinds, he never shut down an extraordinary curiosity which began very early. One of the works on display in the room was a black and white photographic print showing an obviously homemade biological specimen (certainly not dead from David's hand) in a jar on a windowsill. There was a text within the image, small white print in the lower right corner:

When I was a kid I went into the backyard and tried to
dig a hole to China with a shovel and a bucket. After an
entire afternoon I hadn't even left New Jersey
For more on David and the evening, see Bloggy.


We spotted this wonderful, much-used Toyota last night while walking to the E train Spring Street stop. I had already taken this shot before I walked around the side of the car and saw the door emblazoned with a large "Citizen Reno" sign. Of course!

Inside on the dashboard was a small stack of her DVD, "Rebel Without a Pause." Is our hero tempting the culturally and politically savvy thief, or just advertising?

Practice, practice, practice.

this tank is one of two which circled the block and then parked in front of a modest anti-war demonstration in Los Angeles yesterday evening.

This is on Wilshire Boulevard, in Westwood, people! I can't think of anything more useful for generating civic anger and destabilizing an uneasy civil peace than the appearance of tanks in our own neighborhoods. In the 1920's and 30's they sent thugs out on foot with clubs, but they didn't have a mandate then. Actually, the National Socialists never did win anything close to a majority.

For more see Bloggy.

[image from MyDD]

I don't know what to say about this story, but it has moved me more than I thought possible.

November 6, 2004, 4:39 PM EST

A 25-year-old university worker from Georgia shot and killed himself at ground zero Saturday morning, authorities said.

The man, Andrew Veal, of Athens, Ga., was found atop the structure housing the 1 and 9 subway lines after a hotel worker spotted what he believed was somebody sleeping inside the site around 8 a.m., said Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

A shotgun was found near the body, Coleman said. No suicide note was found, he said.

Police were investigating how Veal entered the former World Trade Center site, which is protected by high fences and owned by the Port Authority.

Veal worked in a computer lab and was planning to marry, friends said Saturday.

I used to live just blocks away from the Trade Center and for over six months even here on 23rd Street I lived with the acrid smell of the fires which destroyed it on September 11. I watched out the front windows and I heard hundreds of police motorcycle-escorted ambulances speed down the street to a temporary morgue on the East Side which is still there. For a dozen years I worked at the Trade Center, each day entering and leaving the 1/9 subway line through the concrete structure on top of which Veal took his life; it's the only part of the original complex remaining above ground today. I made repeated heartbreaking trips to the site beginning two days after its destruction. The neighborhood was my first home in New York.

I'm still in New York today and I've grown to love it even more than I did when its wonders first brought me here. This also means, strictly speaking, that I'm still in the country where I was born, but I no longer feel that I am. If this was true before the election on Tuesday, the results which were announced have confirmed my exile.

Andrew Veal felt that dispossession more deeply than most. His despair brought him to the site which is still cynically being used to feed the agony in which so many of us share, and there Veal at least was able to end it.

Why were the exit polls so completely "wrong" in Ohio, Florida and certain other states this year? Was it because of massive election fraud?

The administration didn't need an October surprise; they knew it was already wrapped up - by their own people strategically placed where they really counted. And we were all fools to imagine otherwise. We'll be even greater fools if we let them get away with it a second time, but we'll have to hurry if it's going to be resolved without civil war. The Electoral College meets on December 13, and Congress counts their votes out loud on January 6.

My own representative, Jerrold Nadler, is one of the three Congressmen who asked on Friday that the General Accounting Office immediately begin an investigation into irregularities with voting machines used in Tuesday’s elections. [Incidently, Nadler won re-election handily on Tuesday (80 points) against the stealth Republican, Peter Hort. Hort would presumably not have seen anything irregular about his leader's second "victory," and I expect that at some time in the near future his brethren will reward his sacrificial candidature with a juicy patronage appointment.]

Wednesday, the stage at the New York State Theater, before the lights darkened

We went to New York City Opera Wednesday night to see Charles Wuorinen's new opera based on a short novel by Salmon Rushdie, "Haroun and the Sea of Stories."

Almost totally bummed because of the national disasters reported over the previous 24 hours, we really weren't expecting to be greatly amused. According to the reviews we had read we would find a delightful story seriously handicapped by its dependence upon the composer's complex 12-tone techniques.

We both loved it on every level, for each of its elements.

We knew the story and it really is delightful. It's definitely not simply a children's story, although there were plenty of smart New York kids there with their parents. It was written while Rushdie was forced to hide from the mortal threat of the fatwa directed against him because of his writings. The book is a fable about free expression. It's as fresh as tomorrow morning's bread. In Act II the evil Khattam-Shud complains about the limits of his dark authority, singing,

Inside every single story
There lies a world, a story world,
That I cannot rule ar all.
It is beyond my control . . .
It spoils everything!
The libretto by the poet James Fenton, necessarily more condensed than the book, did so with great success, tightly playing with the pleasure of words both real and imagined, in delightful groups strung together and wound around or threaded through each other.

I admit that serial music holds no terrors for me and under normal circumstances I would have been delighted to be looking forward to a live performance of an entire opera using its forms. We have a large wall cabinet stacked with the sadness of 12-tone opera sound-only recordings, their visuals unfulfilled. I was surprised and delighted to find that Wuorinen's score was a perfect foil for the story, the singers and the glorious sights unfolding on the stage.

And what sights they were! In their totally uninhibited color and movement, and with imagination not bound to any reality or even to the usual conventions of fantasy, the sets and costumes fulfilled the promise of the story. I don't think I've ever seen anything more delightful on a stage, opera or otherwise. I'm not normally sighted shrieking in glee from a seat in Linclon Center.

Election? What election?

There are still three more performances, one tomorrow afternoon and one in the evening on Tuesday and on Thursday.

Why don't we just order everyone (except males under 45, meaning "the enemy") to leave Iraq altogether? We're going to level this city of 300,000 people (since a ground battle would mean too many casualties for the good guys, that is, the ones belonging to the country which invaded theirs), and Ramadi, where there are 600,000 more people hungering for our freedoms, is obviously going to be next. The logic of our scorched-streets policy will require that we go on to do the same thing in every city of Iraq, so why prolong the agony for these people?

Iraqis have obviously given Bush the same unqualified mandate he got from me.


The skys are blue again, all over the world.

But the real work is only beginning.

It's not going to be easy rebuilding a nation and removing the curse which has rested so heavily on the planet [the cultists will remain to plague our wounded polity, and a hundred thousand lives have been wiped out in Iraq alone], but tonight Barry and I will be celebrating a new world with champagne. It will be French, of course, by definiton - and by choice.

Listening to: Gustav Mahler, Symphony No. 2 in C minor "Resurrection" (Klemperer, Philharmonia, Schwarzkopf, Hilde Rössel-Majdan)

[image taken on Sunday afternoon outside our windows, about the time I was first convinced that Bush would not survive this referendum, at least without overturning it]

Thomas Nast cartoon, featuring Boss Tweed ( referencing the 1876 disputed election)

The caption:

Boss. "You have the liberty of Voting for any one you please; but we have
the Liberty of Counting in any one we please."

"Do your Duty as Citizens, and leave the rest to take its course." - New York Times.

My overwhelmed friends in Washington, Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania and elsewhere will find it difficult to believe, but I've barely seen a single political campaign ad, TV or print, all year long. (I'm not complaining, of course, especially since no real information is ever conveyed by this stuff.)

Yeah, so I don't even watch TV (except Jon Stewart and SNL) and somehow I've always been able to turn a blind eye to print advertising of any kind (except for those which include particularly sexy men). Actually however my relative isolation from the campaign (it's always war metaphors in America) has more to do with the perverse wonders of the Electoral College and the fact that everyone long ago agreed that New York belongs to the Democrats.

So where do I leave my teeny tiny vote for president tomorrow? Not for the Republican candidate of course, but I'm also not going to check the Democratic column. As I've said often before, both clubs are Rightwing parties and while only one of the two standard-bearers has a mind, he's used it to argue, among other things, that the Iraq war must be expanded, that Americans can't have single-payer universal health care, that he might nominate anti-choice candidates for federal courts, that the WTO is a good thing, that lesbians and gays should not be permitted to marry and that we need the Patriot Act.

But do I have an alternative? Like most of the United States, New York makes it very difficult for parties or candidates to get onto the ballot, the result being this abysmal selection (taken directly from the New York State Board of Elections site).

[REP] REPUBLICAN: George W. Bush







[LBT] LIBERTARIAN: Michael Badnarik

New Yorkers can choose among only five people (all men). There are probably twice as many kinds of premium brands of butter available at each of the two food stores a block away from where I'll be voting tomorrow!

The Democrats and the Republicans are clearly part of the problem and are both responsible for our current crisis, the Conservatives think the Republicans are too Lefty and the Libertarians would eliminate government from all regulation and welfare responsibilities.

I don't know whether to admire or ridicule the fact that the only socialist party on the ballot has advanced a candidate who, regardless of his merits, could not Constitutionally become President of the U.S. and who in fact is not even a U.S. citizen. I do think this tells us a lot about support in the U.S. for the kind of social contract other industrial societies take for granted, even the parties on the Right.

Aside from his own heroic history of social contributions which have benefitted the entire world, Ralph Nader once again represents an almost perfect platform, and I will not condemn his campaign for accepting funds from sources to whom he could never be beholden. The money is well-spent. Nader is one of the few true democrats in American politics.

There is still the possibility of pulling the lever for Kerry on the Working Families line, but while that excellent party is worthy of the attention and support of any progressive, that is still a vote for a seriously flawed candidate. Besides, it's totally unnecessary to keep every one of New York Electoral votes away from Bush.

Whoa, wait a minute. Where are the Greens? What does it say about our fake democracy that so important a party (okay, make that any party) is not permitted on the ballot? But I think we are still allowed a write-in candidate, so in very good conscience we could make it David Cobb, the Green Party candidate for President.

But back to the discussion of the least of many available evils, or at least a resolution of the current dilemma. Even now I can't say for sure if I'm going to vote for Nader on the Independent Party line, Kerry on the Working families Party line or Cobb as a write-in. Wow! I guess this means that technically I could be labelled as one of those reviled "Undecideds," even if my indecision does not relate to anything having to do with Bush or the Republicans. At least I don't have to agonize about deciding between someone who has already demonstrated he's a bungling idiot and someone without Bush's extraordinary record.

Anyone but Bush? I don't think so.

The only point I wanted to make with this post is the fact that in New York and a large number of other states voters with consciences and minds should be able to see that "anyone but Bush" could still mean that there is a choice, even on Election day itself. We don't have to feel totally powerless when we walk into a polling place. The anti-democratic system we have to work with allows at least some of us to balk at ratifying a slate or a platform not established democraticaly.

Many of us do have some choice tomorrow, and our numbers will be recorded. We have to think ahead - now.

[image from HarpWeek]

This page is an archive of entries in the Politics category from November 2004.

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