Category Archives: Politics

Off I Go To The County Board – David Bloom, inspired by Mary Morgan of @a2chronicle

David Bloom holds forth in song in Off I Go To The County Board, one of the few songs written about the process of covering public meetings.

Off I Go To The County Board,
inspired by Mary Morgan

Off I Go To The County Board,
To hear the rabble bray,
Of taxes met, infractions scored,
On this harumphing day.

Oh Washtenaw, brave Washtenaw,
Of eighty-three, the best.
The other counties hold in awe,
Your credit-worthiness.

There's more verses (oh, so many more) – in fairness to the author, I commend you to view and listen to them directly.


Anti-government protests in Wisconsin

Anti-government protests are held in Algeria, Bahrain, Iran, Yemen – and Wisconsin.

LA Times / Associated Press: Thousands rally at Wisconsin Capitol to protest anti-union bill.  

The new Republican governor, Scott Walker, is seeking passage of the nation's most aggressive anti-union proposal – a plan that would all but eliminate the bargaining process for most public employees.

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Union chief asks MPS to close schools Thursday

The head of the Milwaukee teachers' union has asked Milwaukee Public Schools to close school Thursday to "ensure the safety of children and staff" at a time when many teachers may be headed to Madison tomorrow to protest Gov. Scott Walker's budget-repair bill.

River Falls Journal: Letter: Egypt, Wisconsin traveling in opposite directions

To make matters worse, Walker, surrounded by extra security at the state Capitol, revealed a long-planned contingency to call in the National Guard against state workers in the event of strikes or protests.

The last time that the Wisconsin National Guard was called in for a labor dispute was the 1934 Kohler Strike. The Sheboygan Press covered the strike in 1934:

The relatively peaceful strike took a violent turn on July 27th (1934) when special deputies broke through the picket lines to escort a coal car that strikers had turned back. A battle ensued outside the plant that left two strikers dead and over 40 wounded. The next day, Governor Schmedeman called out the National Guard to restore order.

Liberation, the "Newspaper for the Party for Socialism and Libertation at PSLWEB.ORG", runs two parallel headlines: "Wisconsin Labor Fights Back" and "Revolution in the Arab World". Eyewitness from Wisconsin’s labor battle

That’s why, when I was in the throngs of rank-and-file workers, I was hearing “tax the rich.” People were comparing Scott Walker to the U.S.-backed Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak, who was forced to resign last week after 18 days of protest. They are calling him “Hosni Walker” because only dictators side with the tiny minority.

Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson refers to Walker as the cheesehead pharaoh of the Middle West. 

It's a throwback to 19th-century America, when strikes were suppressed by force of arms. Or, come to think of it, to Mubarak's Egypt or communist Poland and East Germany.

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Present, former Packers say they back AFL-CIO. You know things are serious when the Green Bay Packers weigh in on state politics.

The NFLPA also released a statement in support of the AFL-CIO. "The NFL Players Association will always support efforts protecting a worker's right to join a union and collectively bargain. Today, the NFLPA stands in solidarity with its organized labor brothers and sisters in Wisconsin," the statement said.

More protest coverage than I can possibly read, right now, from Defend Wisconsin, Uppity Wisconsin, Not My Wisconsin, AFL-CIO Now blog, and

Nattering nabobs of negativism

Spiro Agnew's term of rebuke for the Democratic party in the 1970 elections.

The obits from September 1996 have the most recent coverage.

NewsHour with Jim Lehrer: Remembering Agnew

SPIRO AGNEW: In the United States today, we have more than our share of the nattering nabobs of negativism.

Time Magazine, 1996: Naysayer to the Nattering Nabobs

In a 1969 speech against war protesters, he said, "A spirit of national masochism prevails, encouraged by an effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals." "In the United States today," Agnew told a 1970 audience in San Diego, "we have more than our share of the nattering nabobs of negativism." He went after "pusillanimous pussyfooters" and "vicars of vacillation" and "the hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history."

Read more:,9171,985217,00.html#ixzz0wY2gLHR5

The quote specifically from Bartleby, via the Congressional Record, pins it to the 1970 California Republication convention.

Vice President SPIRO T. AGNEW, address to the California Republican state convention, San Diego, California, September 11, 1970.—Congressional Record, September 16, 1970, vol. 116, p. 32017.

The original AP wire story is saved in Google News

Agnew's speech was prepared for a $125-a-plate Republican fund-raising dinner.

on the email interview and the validity of written communications

There's a wide variety of quality in people's ability to express themselves in written form, and an "email interview" is one way of assessing this.  This generally takes the form of a set of questions provided to the interviewee to be answered by them using whatever means they have to prepare a suitable answer.  You will often find that it takes some time to get a response back, especially if there are a lot of questions or if the questions are hard.

Frankly, I'm disappointed that more people don't spend the time on getting better at both writing written questions and in responding to them.  A well-written set of questions, thought through in advance, can give a candidate or any other interview subject time to prepare and reflect on the tone they wish to project.  This can be very instructive when compared to the same person's behavior in an unreflective, spontaneous, unscripted moment.  In addition, email leaves a trail and a public record and you know how useful it is to have a public record to refer to from time to time rather than private, unreliable personal notes.

I know that the stereotype is the ink-stained reporter clutching the steno pad grabbing a good phrase here and there.  But there needs to be more attention to how people present themselves in email, especially given how much municipal business is transacted through the email.  I am certain that a reporter is capable of being just as tough and as hard-nosed via written form to members of government and candidates for elected office – just as good elected officials are skilled in the art of writing pointed requests for information from agencies and departments in order to get at the details they want.

Ann Arbor, Michigan absentee ballots

From the Ann Arbor City Clerk:

Absentee Ballots

Applications for absentee ballots are accepted up to 75 days prior to each election. A signed application must be received by the City Clerk before an absentee ballot will be issued. To obtain an absentee ballot, call the City Clerk at 734-994-2725 or complete the attached form and mail or hand deliver it.

Absentee Ballot Application Form

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“Thank you Harry Taylor”

“While I listen to you talk about freedom, I see you assert

your right to tap my telephone, to arrest me and hold me

without charges, to try to preclude me from breathing clean

air and drinking clean water.”

— Harry Taylor (, a citizen of

Charlotte, NC and a Sierra Club member, who made headlines

recently when he stood up at a town hall meeting and told

President Bush he has “never felt more ashamed of [his]

leadership in Washington.”

thanks mms for the pointer