Friday, December 22, 2006

Wishing Everyone A Happy Everything!

Will be taking a blog break until the end of the year. The Green Party's Ruth Weill said it best in an email earlier today: "Wishing Everyone A Happy Everything!"

Watch Yer Step

Lahey nails it (click image to enlarge).

See more of Lyle Lahey's cartoons here.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

"Stay the course" Named Top Catch Phrase of 2006

That's according to the group Global Language Monitor, as summarized by Reuters.

Taj Mahal Headlines Doyle Honest Graft Fest

Legendary bluesman Taj Mahal will be the headline act at Jim Doyle's Honest Graft Fest, code named "Inaugural Ball" by the event organizers.

Taj has worked with some great musicians over the years, including the the late, great guitar player Jesse Ed Davis. In the video below, see Jesse and Taj rocking at the Rolling Stones' 1968 "Rock and Roll Circus."

The other video is more recent Taj.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Save The Internet

More information is available here.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Hand Farts Beat Hendrix: 417,000 to 10, 200

Those Woodstock era baby boomers who thought that Jimi Hendrix's version of the "Star Bangled Banner" was the greatest thing since hand farts might be surprised to know that the YouTube audience might not think so. Jimi's version of the national anthem only has slightly over 10,000 views, while a hand fart version has 417,000. What is this world coming to?

How Suite It Isn't: Even For Under 40s and Especially in Wisconsin

Yesterday the New York Times published in its "Your Money" section a report on "How Suite It Isn't: The Dearth Of Female Bosses." The report featured the story of Carol Bartz, a 1971 UW-Madison graduate who by the early 1990s had become one of the first women to run a large corporation. But the report suggests that, even in the 21st century, Bartz is still somewhat of an anomaly:

While top business schools are churning out an increasing number of female M.B.A.’s, only about 16 percent of corporate officers at Fortune 500 companies are women, according to Catalyst, an organization that studies women in the workplace. The numbers are even sparer at the top of the pyramid: women fill only nine, or less than 2 percent, of the chief executive jobs at Fortune 500 companies.

“There have been women in the pipeline for 20 to 25 years; progress has been slower than anybody thought it ever would be,” laments Julie H. Daum, the North American board practice leader for Spencer Stuart, the executive search firm. She says she does not expect the situation to change anytime soon. “It’s not as if we’re in the beginning of something that’s going to explode and that there are going to be lots of women in the c-suite,” she said. “I think we’re still way far removed from where we should be and from where women would like to be.”

Lest anyone think the dearth of female CEOs is a product of a generation gap, check out Business Week's list of 100 CEOs under the age of 40. The younger CEOs represent a range of industries worth as much as $17 billion--you won't find many women on the list.

In Wisconsin, the situation is grim. The Center on Wisconsin Strategy in its 2006 State of Working Wisconsin report found that "Wisconsin women are less likely to work in managerial or professional positions than almost all other states."

Friday, December 15, 2006

Could Tesla Have Imagined This Mess?

Today in his Online Beat column John Nichols summarizes the findings of an important new report by the Future of Music Coalition on the history of ownership consolidation in the radio industry. Among the report's key findings:

* The top four radio station owners have almost half of the listeners and the top ten owners have almost two-thirds of listeners. This means that a handful of companies control what the overwhelming majority of Americans hear on the radio.

* The "localness" of radio ownership--ownership by individuals who live in the community--declined by almost one-third between 1975 and 2005.

* Just fifteen formats make up three-quarters of all commercial programming. Moreover, radio formats with different names can overlap up to 80 percent of the time in terms of the songs played on them.

* Niche musical formats like classical, jazz, Americana, bluegrass, new rock and folk, where they exist, are provided almost exclusively by smaller station groups.

* Across 155 markets, radio listenership has declined over the past fourteen years, a 22 percent drop since its peak in 1989. The consolidation allowed by the Telecom Act has failed to reverse this trend. In fact, it may well have caused the trend to accelerate.

I wonder if Nikola Tesla could have imagined this sad state of affairs for radio. Few American recognize his name, but Tesla is probably the single most important figure in the history of wireless communications. Many were involved in the invention of radio, but in a key 1943 patent dispute, the Supreme Court decided in Tesla's favor. (Yeah, I know that Wikipedia isn't always the most reliable source.).

Media Saturation

From Reuters:

Americans will spend nearly 10 hours a day watching television, surfing the Internet, reading books, newspapers and magazines and listening to music this year, the U.S. Census Bureau said on Friday.

In its "Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2007" released on Friday, the agency also noted that Americans drink about a gallon of soda a week, along with a half gallon each of milk, bottled water, coffee and beer.

All of which may help explain another figure in the pages of the 1,300-page book of tables and statistics: About two-thirds of Americans are overweight, including one-third of whom are obese.

The Journal Sentinel says the numbers reflect a "TV Addicted" society.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

ZappaFest Tonight

I won't be able to make it, but tonight is the seventh annual ZappaFest at the Stonefly in Milwaukee (735 E. Center St.). Show starts at 10 p.m.

Frank performed his critique of television, "I'm the Slime," on Saturday Night Live in the 70s:

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Rock Concert Movement Instructions For Barack Obama

Listening to the corporate press these days, it appears as if Barack Obama can be swept into the presidency on the basis of being a blue state rock star selling "hope." Fightin' Bob LaFollette, who literally worked himself to death trying to sink machine politicians and the private wealth that kept them afloat, apparently didn't realize that a real progressive tries to make friends with that wealth. A Robert LaFollette, Inc. machine could have been a rock star before anyone even knew what rock and roll was! He could have been bigger than Barack Obama, Inc.

Who knows, maybe someday Barack will translate the rhetoric of hope into some real policy prescriptions for justice in America. We'll know he's there when the corporate press turns against him. But until then, he probably needs to perfect his rock star movements. The Blue Man Group, who ought to be the official band for blue state politicians, offer some instructions:

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Didn't It Rain?

The legendary Sister Rosetta Tharpe for a rainy and damp Fox Valley weather day . . .

Monday, December 11, 2006

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

I've been a fan of turtles ever since I can remember. As a kid I loved Dr. Seuss' "Yertle the Turtle," and loved it even more many years later when I found out that it may have in fact been a commentary against Hitler and fascism (the story includes the famous ending, "And the turtles, of course . . . all turtles are free. As turtles and, maybe, all creatures should be.").

Not surprisingly, our shelled friends' major adversary these days is . . . us. According to the New York Times:

". . . herpetologists fear that in humans the stalwart survivors from the Mesozoic era may at last have met their mortician. Turtle habitats are fast disappearing, or are being fragmented and transected by roads on which millions of turtles are crushed each year. 'There’s no defense against that predator known as the automobile,' Dr. Gibbons said. Researchers estimate that at least half of all turtle species are in serious trouble, and that some of them, like the Galapagos tortoise, the North American bog turtle, the Pacific leatherback sea turtle and more than a dozen species in China and Southeast Asia, may effectively go extinct in the next decade if extreme measures are not taken. 'People love turtles, people find them endearing, but people take turtles for granted,' Mr. Cover said. “They have no idea how important turtles are to the ecosystems in which they, and we, live.'"

The turtle, like the four pillars of the Green Party, will endure. Slow and steady wins the race.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Convenientest Truth

This essay by psychotherapist Peter Michaelson is a bit too pyschobabble-ish for my tastes, but it does allow an opportunity to share Stephen Colbert's hilarious Al Gore satire.

Friday, December 08, 2006

NPR's 10 Best CDs of 2006

National Public Radio's 10 best CDs of 2006, as chosen by a listener poll, can be found here. Tom Waits' recently released "Orphans" made the list. Listener Steve says:

"Way back in 1972 The Rolling Stones released Exile on Main St. That album was a tour through various styles and genres: blues, country, gospel, etc., but with all of them filtered through the Stones' musical identity. Well, it's taken 34 years, but someone has finally created another record of equal breadth, stylistic adventurousness and power. There's something here for everyone, and yet it's unmistakably Tom Waits. Only real artists can pull something like this off, and Waits not only pulls it off, he makes it seem easy."

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Palmeri For Oshkosh

As noted this morning on Babblemur's blog, I have decided to seek election to the Oshkosh Common Council. As a full-time associate professor of communication at UW Oshkosh, I do not plan to make a formal announcement or do much campaigning before submitting final fall semester grades later this month.

I'm running because our city needs a voice for open and accountable government, quality services delivered cost effectively, and strong neighborhoods. In my 17 years as a resident of Oshkosh, I've never seen local government in as much disarray as is currently the case. In the last two election cycles citizens thought they were voting for fiscal responsibility and leadership, but got garbage fees, buck passing, and blatant open meetings law violations instead.

We can and must do better.

If you would like to help circulate nomination papers, email me at

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Bush Pressured To Accept Reality

Only in Washington could a statement about Iraq that has been blatantly obvious to the sane for more than three years be treated as some kind of new revelation. Thus we have the inside the beltway Iraq Study Group saying that "the situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating." No!!! Really??? C'mon!!!

Those who think the Iraq Study Group report represents some kind of progress in the effort to get out of Iraq should think again. The "bipartisan" group included no one who opposed the war from the start, nor do any of its 79 recommendations come even close to suggesting a complete withdrawal of American forces in the foreseeable future. Representative Jack Murtha of Pennsylvania, the defense hawk who shook up official Washington last year when he called for a redeployment of US forces out of Iraq, says the study group's report is essentially an endorsement of the status quo.

We're living in a time when the moral bankruptcy of the establishment political parties is on the level of the Whig v. Democrat configuration of the pre-Civil War days. In the past 24 hours we have seen the approval, by a 95-2 vote, of Robert Gates (he of shady past and also a member of the Iraq Study Group!) as new Defense Secretary; we have seen a leading House Democrat call for sending more troops to Iraq; and we have seen a "bipartisan" report that (not surprisingly) wasn't worth the pre-release hype.

Mr. Bush has been delusional on Iraq from even before the start of hostilities. If anything good can be said about the Iraq Study Group report, it is that it might at the very least pressure the president out of his delusional state and force him to accept the fact of a horrific Iraq reality that was and is a direct result of the incompetence and arrogance of his administration.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Let's Hold The Dems Accountable, Part III

I expected Robert Gates to be confirmed as Rumsfeld's replacement over at the Pentagon, but I'm quite sure even he did not expect the free ride given by the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. In 1987 Gates withdrew his nomination to the post of CIA Director because of unanswered questions about his role in the Iran-Contra scandal; chief Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh believes that Gates lied about his role in the affair and probably was responsible for slanting intelligence. (scroll down). Gates was renominated in 1991 and was confirmed, though 31 Democrats voted No.

Today, most people believe that the Iraq fiasco occurred at least in part because of bad or intentionally distorted information gathered from intelligence sources. That a Senate Committee, and especially the Democrats on that Committee, could gush over Gates' "refreshing candor" simply because he openly admitted the obvious fact that we are not winning in Iraq, is mind boggling. If today's hearing was any indication of how "tough" the Democrats plan to be on foreign policy, then George W. Bush can rest easy for the next two years.

Meanwhile, the incoming Democratic Chair of the House Intelligence Committee says he wants to see an increase (!!!) of 20 to 30 thousand troops in Iraq. So much for lesser evilism.

64th Wisconsin Service Member Killed In Iraq

With the president's Iraq policy in disarray, another Wisconsin soldier killed. Over 2,900 American soldiers have now been killed in the war.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Political Foibles Of 2006

[Note: Valley Scene Editor Jim Lundstrom asked me to write a column for the soon-to-be released December issue on the "Political Foibles of 2006." Below is what I came up with.-TP]

Political Foibles of 2006

By Tony Palmeri

Politically, 2006 will be remembered as the year Republicans were soundly defeated at the polls. Saddled by association with an unpopular President, corruption scandals, an Iraq quagmire and partisan gridlock, the GOP was reduced to relying on some of the most negative campaign advertising in the history of American politics. The public finally said “enough!” and gave control of the Congress back to the Democrats for the first time since 1994.

So in “honor” of the Republicans’ defeat, let’s talk about some of the worst political foibles of 2006:

*”Macacagate”: At the start of 2006, Virginia Senator George Allen was widely considered to be a shoo-in for reelection and the possible GOP presidential nominee in 2008. All that came to a crushing end when Allen was caught twice on videotape referring to an Indian American as “macaca,” a racist slur. Allen ended up losing his seat to Democrat Jim Webb. To this day Allen claims that he made up the term “macaca” and had no idea of its racist meaning.

*Bush Toadies Booted Out of Senate: George Allen was a rubber stamp for the Bush Administration, but was hardly alone. Joining him in retirement from the US Senate will be Mike DeWine of Ohio, Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Jim Talent of Missouri, and Conrad Burns of Montana. Each of these Republicans were point men for the Bush Administration on a variety of issues, especially Iraq. With his chief Senate cheerleaders gone, Mr. Bush will have to work that much harder to make the case for Iraq, social security privatization, and more tax cuts for the wealthy.

*The Abramoff Scandal: In January, power broker lobbyist Jack Abramoff pled guilty to three criminal felony charges in federal court. The charges included corruption of public officials. Staffers connected to Congressmen Tom DeLay and Bob Ney were indicted for Abramoff related activities, while DeLay and Ney themselves resigned from the House in ’06. In October, Ney (the inventor of the call for French fries to be called “freedom” fries) pled guilty to making false statements related to the Abramoff. Expect more Abramoff fallout in ’07; this time expect some prominent Democrats to be named in the corruption probe.

*Congress Opposes FBI Raids On Their Own Offices: Speaking of corrupt Democrats, in May the FBI raided the office and home of Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson. Press reports say that they "found $90,000 of the cash in the freezer, in $10,000 increments wrapped in aluminum foil and stuffed inside frozen-food containers." Congressional leaders responded with outrage and deep concern about the raid, in spite of the fact that since 9/11 they have greatly expanded the powers of the Executive branch to monitor and harass ordinary, average Americans.

*The Foley Scandal: Republican Mark Foley, once chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, was forced to resign from the Congress when it was revealed that he had sent sexually suggestive email and text messages to congressional pages. The Foley scandal became a symbol of the Republicans’ hypocrisy on “family values” while casting doubt on their ability to manage the Congress effectively.

*Falk Wins Primary Battle, Dems Lose AG War: When Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk announced she would challenge incumbent Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager in the Democratic primary after Democratic insiders concluded Lautenschlager’s drunk driving arrest would maker her reelection difficult, Peg loyalists claimed that Falk would stand no better chance against a strong Republican challenger. The Peg loyalists turned out to be correct: Republican J.B. Van Hollen defeated Falk in a year when Democrats gained control of the Wisconsin Senate, kept the governorship, and gained 8 seats in the Assembly. Lautenschlager, who despite the drunk driving conviction was still a popular Attorney General with high name recognition, probably would have kept the seat in Dem hands.

*Marriage Amendment Helps Democrats: It is widely believed that the Republicans placed the so-called Marriage Amendment on the November ballot in order to help Mark Green for governor and conservative Republican candidates throughout the state. Conservative Republican Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner believes the strategy backfired. In November he told the press that the Marriage Amendment brought out high numbers of conservative, “Reagan Democrats” to the polls who voted YES on the amendment to ban recognition of civil unions, but then voted for Democrats. If Sensebrenner is correct, it suggests that the Republican strategy of winning elections via recourse to divisive “wedge” issues may have come to and end.

*Jensen Picks Go To Jail Card: In 2001 Dane County DA Brian Blanchard began what has become the longest corruption probe in the history of Wisconsin politics. By 2006, five legislative leaders were convicted of crimes. All of them except former Speaker of the Assembly Scott Jensen (R-Brookfield) plea-bargained to avoid trials that could result in lengthy prison terms. Jensen chose the trial, and in March a jury convicted him of three felonies with the potential for 16 years in jail. Judge Steven Ebert ultimately sentenced Jensen to 15 months in prison after calling his actions "common thievery elevated to a higher plane."

Friday, December 01, 2006

The 2006 TONY Awards

What you've all been waiting for (yeah, right): the 2006 TONY Awards for journalistic achievements in the Fox Valley. The awards can be found here.

In 2006, cartoonist Lyle Lahey wins his second TONY!: