Betsy Devine: Funny ha-ha and/or funny peculiar

Making trouble today for a better tomorrow…

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Entries from December 2005

Brand new shiny, undented, unspeckled New Year

December 31st, 2005 · Comments Off on Brand new shiny, undented, unspeckled New Year

Will you look at that?

Here comes 2006!

Beautiful…and not the tiniest ding or dent on its shiny surface anywhere.

That’ll change soon.

I know that. You know that.

But for now–let’s just enjoy this moment–this infinite promise of new possibilities.

Tags: Editorial

“Little girl, do you see this dime?”

December 30th, 2005 · Comments Off on “Little girl, do you see this dime?”

On some chilly and rainy NH election day back in 1960-something, my father invited me to tag along to a “boiler room” in downtown Manchester. Oh boy! I would have tagged along just about anywhere for the chance to spend some extra time with my dad. Dad’s “boiler room” turned out to have no actual boilers but lots of busy grown-ups and loud-ringing phones. They were getting out the vote, my dad explained, it was very important. People with no cars could call up the “boiler room” for a ride to the polls.

I was “helping” by passing out paper cups of weak coffee when a man with gray hair beckoned me over. “Little girl, do you see this dime? Do you know whose picture is on it?” He had such a heavy French-Canadian accent that he wasn’t very easy to understand.

I looked closely at the dime. “It’s Roosevelt, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” he almost shouted. “It’s Franklin Delano Roosevelt. And do you know why I come here, every year?”

“No, sir,” I said, wishing that my father would rescue me.

“Franklin Delano Roosevelt, that’s why I come every year. Because back when the mills closed, when I lost my job and I couldn’t find a new one. When my family was hungry–my children were hungry. Franklin Delano Roosevelt turned things around. And that’s why I come here, and I’ll come here every year. Franklin Delano Roosevelt.”

The memory ends there, just when I’d stopped wanting to be rescued and started wanting to remember every word. But, over the years, I’ve often thought of that man and his busy, jangling boiler-room .

So, if you have wondered why I should care so much about the NH phone-jamming scandal, when some Republican wiseguys tried to disrupt the Democrats’ get-out-the-vote effort with multiple hangup phone calls… Maybe I care because my dad would have cared. And maybe I care because of that old man with his Roosevelt dime.

Tags: New Hampshire!

Not guilty? Tobin’s neighbors disagree…

December 30th, 2005 · Comments Off on Not guilty? Tobin’s neighbors disagree…

Here’s what some New England voices are saying about Maine-resident James Tobin, after his conviction by a Concord, NH federal jury:

Tobin deserves severe punishment for phone jamming…In the end, Tobin’s deceit and brazen efforts to influence the outcome of an election would make him a criminal who, like the others involved in the phone-jamming plot, deserves to pay a steep price.
Maine Morning Sentinel
Any effort to rig an election or to thwart voter turnout, no matter how incompetent or unsuccessful, is an assault on democracy…Tobin had the power to make the phone-jamming possible. Only he knew instantly where a Republican operative could go to get such dirty deeds done. He also had the power to prevent the crime. Instead, he abetted it.
Concord (NH) Monitor editorial titled “Jail time appropriate for election tampering”
Elections should be decided on the merits of the ideas and candidates the parties put forward, not on which side can hatch the more devious plot to hamper the other’s effort. Serious punishment for those involved in this type of nonsense lets perpetrators know that voters have little tolerance for their schemes.
Daily News of Newburyport (MA)
He could get a seven-year term when he is sentenced in March. There could also be a fine, but maybe the Republican National Committee will pick that up; it has already spent about a million dollars on Tobin’s defense. For whatever reason, the jury acquitted Tobin of a charge that he had conspired against voters’ rights. But McGee, Raymond and Tobin certainly conspired to disrupt the electoral process that day, and for a while they succeeded.
Keene (NH) Sentinel

Tobin’s neighbors may agree he was guilty as charged, but if he just keeps quiet, he can probably look forward to many years of paid political activism for some wing group or other* of the GOP.

* After being outed for his role in the phone jamming, Tobin’s co-conspirator Chuck McGee quickly found a new job as NH Executive Director for the conservative think tank Citizens for a Sound Economy. Since returning from 7 months in federal prison, McGee has been employed by “a national, full-service GOP direct mail firm.” James Tobin can probably look forward to similar jobs if he stays in the good graces of the RNC.

Tags: New Hampshire!

No surprise: Tobin’s lawyers hope to overturn guilty verdict

December 29th, 2005 · Comments Off on No surprise: Tobin’s lawyers hope to overturn guilty verdict

From Kevin Wack’s story in the December 28 Portland (ME) Press Herald:

James Tobin, the Republican political operative from Maine who was convicted last month of plotting to jam Democrats’ phone lines, is seeking a new trial. Tobin, once a rising star in the GOP, also wants a federal judge to overturn the jury’s guilty verdict…The documents filed in U.S. District Court in Concord, N.H., do not include an argument for why the jury’s guilty verdict should be vacated or why Tobin should be granted a new trial.

Before and during the trial, defense lawyers came up with a laundry list of legalistic complaints, including 44 objections in the time it took Judge Steven McAuliffe to read 39 pages of jury instructions. So it’s hard to guess which claim will serve as the basis for this appeal.

Tags: New Hampshire!

Soft bigotry of low (sun) expectations

December 27th, 2005 · Comments Off on Soft bigotry of low (sun) expectations

Wow, 5 p.m. and the sky isn’t even dark yet!

Not only that, the days are already getting longer….

Tags: Wide wonderful world

Christmas landscape with berries, birds, and blogfriends

December 24th, 2005 · Comments Off on Christmas landscape with berries, birds, and blogfriends

Swedish space physicist Ingrid Sandahl sent us her Christmas photo of two waxwings enjoying a shared meal of berries despite the cold, somewhere way up north of the Ice Hotel.

Frank and I are enjoying a peaceful post-Christmas, our daughters having departed together to party, our house still full of warm smells of cookies and pie. The racing around to buy, to ship, to gather, to cook, to wrap or en-stocking, is over for one more year. All is calm. I won’t clean up till tomorrow.

How lucky I feel that we’ve made it past one more Christmas–surfed the crazy, commercialized wave of meeting insanely high expectations defined as “normal.” Now that it’s past, I’m having a chance to remember the older image of Christmas (and Hanukkah), celebrating the power of both courage and hope.

I’m sending out special thanks tonight to Kalilily, Amygdala, and Niek, whose courage in coping with this particular Christmas may well come back to inspire their blogfriends someday. In the long run, we all need more courage than pie, as well as renewable hope for a better New Year.

Tags: Heroes and funny folks

From iTunes with attitude: My Christmas mix

December 24th, 2005 · Comments Off on From iTunes with attitude: My Christmas mix

My daughters get tired of my Christmas music choices, which tend to oscillate between classical choirs and an old Dolly Parton tape that makes me smile.

So, for my December birthday, I got a present of “a Christmas mix we won’t complain about.”

Not exactly traditional, but I’m enjoying it too…

Snow (From “White Christmas”) Rosemary Clooney
Mr. Heat Miser Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree Brenda Lee
Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer Elmo & Patsy
Cool Yule Louis Armstrong & The Commanders
Santa Claus Is Coming To Town Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
Nuttin’ for Christmas Spike Jones
Little Saint Nick (Single Version) The Beach Boys
Boogie Woogie Santa Claus The Christmas Jug Band
Santa Baby Eartha Kitt
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus The Ronettes
Town Meeting Song Danny Elfman
You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch Thurl Ravenscroft
(Everybody’s Waitin’ For) The Man With the Bag Kay Starr
Jingle Bell Rock Brenda Lee
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Dean Martin
Winter Wonderland Louis Armstrong
Blue Christmas Elvis Presley
Lonesome Reindeer Blues The Christmas Jug Band
White Christmas Bing Crosby

Tags: Wide wonderful world

Ookles for Christmas, delivered by RSS

December 24th, 2005 · Comments Off on Ookles for Christmas, delivered by RSS

Is this the first-ever delivery of a job offer via RSS? In one of my “vanity feeds,” in my-favorite-boss-ever (at Feedster) Scott Johnson’s blog….

We likely need to bring in someone to shamelessly work the community. Hm…I wonder if I can convince Betsy The Devine to join up. After all she already knows what Ookles is (Betsy is smart, she’s a family person (and this is all about family) and when I had the idea and needed a sanity check I called her; no NDA, no legal paperwork just “Betsy here’s the idea – mumble mumble mumble – do you have this point of pain – YES – Cool”. Talk to me if you’re interested Bets — real founder stock this time not just options you might never get the legal paperwork on..

You’ve got to, got to, got to notice that Scott Johnson really, really gets the web. And my off-the-cuff response showed up in his blog comments:

Heh. Well, this is a fast way to communicate your message, and to expose me as a subscriber to vanity feeds on the URL of my blog. I loved working with you, Scott, and I’m confident that Ookles will be a huge success. OTOH, I might need a sanity check for thinking about adding even one item to my incredible schedule. Hmmmm, founder stock, you say? I’m definitely thinking about it.

One thing for sure–in 2006, we’ll all hear lots more about Ookles

Tags: Heroes and funny folks

Imperfect angels of Christmas

December 22nd, 2005 · Comments Off on Imperfect angels of Christmas

I saw a one-winged angel this morning.

Driving down Hampshire Street, late to the gym, I got stuck behind an erratically driven old car. Nor was I in any very Christmas-y mood–until I noticed the battered Christmas-tree decoration the woman had hanging down from her rearview mirror.


Tonight, looking for images tagged with “christmas” over at Flickr, I spotted “Gloria” here, half of an angel from some creche scene in Australia.*

I could write a long piece now about imperfect angels, but your own imagination can tell you the same story better.

Here’s wishing you happiness and warm appreciation for all of the imperfect angels of your own holidays.

* Photographer “The Department” blogged this angel too.

Tags: Sister Age

Against the Constitution, but not the law…

December 22nd, 2005 · Comments Off on Against the Constitution, but not the law…

James Tobin was found guilty in the NH phone-jamming case on two different counts related to harassing phone calls.

His defense attorneys worked hard to convince the judge* that “harassing” phone calls must be intended “to instill fear”–therefore multiple hangup calls to the Democrats were not “harassing.”

What James Tobin okayed, and his co-conspirators carried out, were not crank calls or threatening calls but a massive denial of service (DOS) attack on the Democrats’ phones on Election Day. The possibility of such an attack was, in 2002, something brand-new. Telemarketing technology could be re-purposed to strike down your political opponents’ communications, in a close race, on Election Day, all day long.

And, AFAIK, such a strategy isn’t illegal, in 2005, so long as you do it without getting tripped up by laws that were set up to outlaw quite different behavior.* * In 2005, such activity would be much easier. Just one tech-savvy Skyper could automate his own barrage of calls to tie up the Democrats’ (or Republicans’) phones on Election Day.

Against your Constitutional right to a free and fair election? Absolutely–but is it against the law?

In the recent Bush-wiretapping scandal, new technology made it so easy and so tempting to step around the Constitution.

The breath-taking reach and possibilities of using telephone denial-of-service against political opponents must surely have made a real impression on James Tobin in 2002. I hope Federal prosecutors will press on to discover just how high up the political foodchain he carried this news. And I hope Federal legislators will make sure that such attacks are, as they should be, completely illegal.

* Argument stated several times in “Amended and Supplemental Proposed Jury Instructions of James Tobin” (CR. 04-216-01-SM)–for example, on page 57, “Proposed Jury Instruction No. 35.”

* * The US Department of Justice Cybercrime Unit helpfully posts online a number of exploits now possible but not covered by current laws. Their plea for improved federal oversight of cybercrime was made on March 5, 2000, in the last days of the Clinton administration. More recent postings, however, show a new DOJ focus on “piracy” and praise for the Patriot Act (surely our tax dollars shouldn’t be spent to influence legislation.)

Tags: New Hampshire!