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October 10th, 2002:

International Powers of Ten Day

Today is International Powers of Ten Day, fitting enough for 10/10/02. Larry pointed it out to me and also got into the spirit of things as only he can.

Here’s a fun fact about the number one billion, which is 10 to the ninth power. Imagine you were given one billion dollars on the day you were born. Suppose you knew that you were going to live to be exactly 100 years old. How much money could you spend every single day of your life and not run out until the day you died? Answer below under the “More” link.


Ron Kirk for Senate

The liberal part of the blogosphere has been doing its part for some important Democratic candidates, most notably Bill McBride and now Tom Strickland. I’d like to implore people to consider giving the same kind of support – even if it’s only a link – to Ron Kirk, the Democratic candidate for Senate from Texas. Here’s an email I got from my good friend Matt, who just attended a Kirk fundraiser:

First, the pitch – I’m writing to ask you to donate money to Ron Kirk’s campaign to become US Senator from Texas.

Ron is the popular two-term mayor of Dallas [he resigned to run for Senate] and has served as Texas’ Secretary of State. He is running for the open seat left by the retirement of Phil Gramm – the seat that has been held by a Republican since LBJ became Vice President. Ron built a bipartisan consensus in Dallas that has gained him many supporters across the political spectrum.

Next, the story – I met Ron in person last night at a fundraiser and was extremely impressed. I talked to him for maybe ten minutes, and he seems like a really kind, decent person who shares my values and position on the issues, and is someone I would be proud to have represent me in the Senate. He’s a left-leaning consensus-building moderate Democrat, which is why he can get elected in Texas and will be a very effective Senator.

I’m tired of having to hang my head when I talk about Texas’ elected representatives, and decided for once I’d do something about it. Many of you live in Texas or spent significant time here – perhaps you will feel the same way. The rest of you will hopefully see this as a historic chance to affect our nation’s future.

Some important points to remember:

* Ron is within sight of a win. Some polls show him 3-6 points ahead, some a bit behind. It’s probably neck and neck, which is why donations are so crucial right now.

* There may not be a better time for many years to get involved. With no incumbent, and control of the Senate up for grabs, you can make a real difference. Imagine the laws (and judges) that we’ll see if the White House and Congress are both controlled by the Republicans.

* A loss in George Bush’s home state would be a big blow, so the national Republican Party has committed to spend whatever it takes – perhaps $20 million or more in soft money.

* The huge blitz of negative ads running against Ron right now, paid for by Republican soft money, hasn’t affected the polls, and has raised Ron’s name awareness. He can win as long as there’s enough money to keep the positive ads going for the next four weeks.

* Ron’s opponent, John Cornyn, has pledged to bring “strong conservative values” to Washington, and is running mostly on being a friend of George Bush. If he wins, expect more of what we got from Phil Gramm.

* Ron was the first black mayor of Dallas and would be the first African-American Senator elected from the South (and the third overall) since Reconstruction. He is sure to become one of the leading voices in America as Senator from Texas.

I’ve not been very politically active in my life, but I really feel that now is the time. This is the best year in over a decade in Texas for Democrats – Tony Sanchez for Governor, John Sharp (former Comptroller) for Lt. Governor, Kirk Watson (former mayor of Austin) for Attorney General, all of whom deserve your support, but Ron Kirk can make a huge difference on the national stage for a long time.

US citizens and permanent residents may donate up to $1,000 to a candidate for Senate. If you want to donate more, you can send any amount to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which will spend it in Texas if you ask.

I’ve personally given more money to candidates this time around than in my whole life up to this year. If you care about who represents you, perhaps you will too. The next four weeks will be crucial, so if want to donate, do it today – please.

You can donate quickly and easily with a credit card online, or if you prefer, by mail:


Feel free to forward this message as you see fit.

Further Reading:

Texas Monthly: Mr. Happy Man Goes to Washington
[a good read to see what’s he’s like – matches my experience]

New Yorker Magazine: Why George Bush is scared of Ron Kirk

Ron Kirk’s great chance (Washington Post Writer’s Group)

New Democrat Network: Ron Kirk

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee: info on the Texas race


Source of Funds: Kirk vs. Cornyn

African-American members of Congress since 1870 (only 4 Senators)

I’ve made a donation. Please help in any way you can.

Another convert

The Fat Guy has gone Movable Typing, complete with a nifty new template. Have a look and give him some advice on the various MT goodies.

Montgomery County (TX) update

Rob has the latest on the censorship battle in Montgomery County (TX). Check it out.

MEC Day 3 Report

Party time last night – HP (among others) sponsored a food-drink-and-playathon at the ESPN Zone, where I’d met some of the local folks on Monday. The difference was no Monday Night Football crowd to deal with, and all of the games were available to play for free. The NHL2Nite game, in which you shoot pucks at a movable goalie was way cool.

Finally spent a little time in the vendor area and chatted with a couple of our providers. They’re always very happy to talk to (and give free stuff to) an employee of one of their big accounts.

The CommNet area was down during the afternoon due to a server crash. At least you knew they had plenty of people around who could fix it.

The Conservative Top 40

Via The Poor Man comes The Top 40 conservative rock songs. My initial reaction was to snark about the cheesy nature of many of the songs within, but I reconsidered. A requirement for making the list was cracking the actual Top 40, so any questions of taste can be foisted on the public at large, and we all know how that goes. I’ll leave that for a genuine conservative like Eve Tushnet. There were plenty of other points of interest, so let’s get started:

Song #2 is “Revolution” by the Beatles, which gets things started on the wrong foot for me. Listmaker Bruce Bartlett includes it because it is “fundamentally anti-revolution”. Why is being “anti-revolution” inherently conservative? Am I the only one who remembers the Reagan Revolution of the 80s and the Gingrich-led Republican Revolution of the 90s? Does that make me a conservative for opposing the Contract With America?

Bartlett also expresses surprise at the rebuke to the “often-violent demonstrations” on college campuses contained within the lyrics. I think he’s misreading their sentiment. It’s pretty clear that L&M agree with the goals of the revolutionaries (“Well you know/We all want to change the world”), they’re simply disagreeing with the methods. Doesn’t that put Lennon and McCartney in the same category as Martin Luther King? I’ll be magnanimous and state that their belief in the effectiveness and righteousness of nonviolence is a universal humanitarian one, and not one that hews to a particular political ideology.

Song #7 is “Turn! Turn! Turn!” by the Byrds. Bartlett notes:

This is an odd conservative classic, having been written by old time lefty Pete Seeger and performed by a group that later glorified drugs in “Eight Miles High.” Nevertheless, it makes my list because the lyrics are drawn straight from the Book of Ecclesiastes. I figure that any song based on the Bible deserved inclusion. I also like it.

Hmm. The one lyric that always comes to my mind when I think of this song is “A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late.” Given when this song was recorded, I don’t think you’d have had too many conservatives humming along.

Song #15 is the Bobby Fuller Four’s “I Fought the Law (And the Law Won)”, which Bartlett fetes as having a “strong law and order message”. There’s a bit of subtext in there as well if you look – consider the lyric “I needed money ’cause I had none” and ask yourself if this isn’t a tacit admission that poverty causes crime. I don’t usually hear conservatives making that case.

Song #18 is George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord”, a song whose inclusion Bartlett recognizes may be problematic:

The inclusion of this song may be controversial because of its non-Christian lyrics. However, I take the view that being deeply religious makes the song per se conservative, even if the religion is Hinduism or Buddhism.

Or Hare Krishna, I guess. I look forward to their application for faith-based services funding.

Song #30 is Madonna’s “Papa Don’t Preach”. Says Bartlett:

Amazingly, this is a strongly pro-life song, for which the singer was criticized by pro-choicers at the time. In it, she asks her father’s advice about what to do with an out-of-wedlock child. “My friends keep telling me to give it up,” she sings, but in the end decides, “I’m gonna keep my baby.”

Hmm again. I recall it being religious leaders who criticized this song, claiming that it “glorified” premarital sex, but whatever. I actually think the choice Madonna’s character is making is not between abortion and carrying the baby to term, it’s between adoption and raising the child herself. I suppose as long as she doesn’t apply for welfare or AFDC she qualifies as a conservative heroine.

Finally, there are a couple of interesting choices in the runners-up as well. I’m not exactly sure how “Summertime Blues” qualifies as a “libertarian” song. It’s a song about the drudgery of having to work for a living, which (call me crazy) would seem to resonate across the political spectrum. “Wake Up Little Susie”, a song about how two kids fear their lives are ruined because their dirty-minded friends will never believe that a boy and a girl could spend a few unchaperoned hours together without having sex, is cited for its “cultural conservatism”. Indeed.

UPDATE: Charles Dodgson weighs in, as do Max Sawicky and Alex Frantz.