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Sinclair TV, who does for television what Clear Channel does for radio and who provides some of TV's most vile commentary via the reprehensible Mark Hyman, has ordered its eight ABC affiliates not to run tomorrow's Nightline. The show plans to air nothing but the names and photos of soldiers killed in Iraq, commercial-free. Sinclair's general counsel says the broadcast is "contrary to the public interest."

The ABC Television network announced on Tuesday that the Friday, April 30th edition of �Nightline� will consist entirely of Ted Koppel reading aloud the names of U.S. servicemen and women killed in action in Iraq. Despite the denials by a spokeswoman for the show the action appears to be motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq.

While the Sinclair Broadcast Group honors the memory of the brave members of the military who have sacrificed their lives in the service of our country, we do not believe such political statements should be disguised as news content.�As a result, we have decided to preempt the broadcast of �Nightline� this Friday on each of our stations which air ABC programming.

Remember, these heroes made the ultimate sacrifice to keep the United States safe from the evil, evil terrorists and their doubleplusdangerous weapons of mass destruction. And thinking about it won't bring them back.

Sinclair's ABC affiliates are located in Greensboro, NC; Pensacola, FL; St. Louis, MO; Columbus, OH; Asheville, NC; Charleston, WV; Springfield, MA; and Tallahassee, FL.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Politics ... TV ... Permalink




Some sights from day two of the walkout:

On the bridge is the big sign that elicited numerous honks from University Ave. traffic. It had to be taken down a few hours into the picket because the high winds broke the wooden support structure. Whoops! In the late morning, some kind came riding his bike down the sidewalk where we were marching and had a sign pinned to his shirt that said "Unions Support Communism." As he passed, I yelled, "Yeah, communism!" and everybody cheered.

Union workers at UPS had agreed not to cross picket lines to make their deliveries; thus, nothing got delivered yesterday. Today, a UPS truck showed up at the Vilas loading dock just as our shift was about to end. We quickly reconvened the line but it didn't matter: The guys hauling the packages were Brown management. Ha ha ha.

Right after the UPS thing, this RV drove by. According to some of the stuff painted on it, it seemed to be connected to Granny D. In the foreground stands my advisor, who joined us on the line for a little while.

As we were heading to Dottie Dumpling's Dowry for beer and burgers, this crowd of people stormed the bridge over University Ave. They had a bullhorn, which we weren't allowed to use for some reason, and a lot of people compared to any other single picket group. Turns out they were undergrads, probably the ones who nearly got arrested several times during the morning. They were trailed by several cops, three of whom stood watch from one of Vilas's weird ledges and another of whom took up a perch right next to the guy with the bullhorn. Hooray for speech without intimidation!

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Around Madison ... Permalink




I've digitized the clip of my interview. It went pretty well, though I forgot to explicitly connect TA recruiting to quality of education for undergrads, and I couldn't wedge in the fact that our proposal is $300,000 cheaper than the state's. If you'd like to deal with a 43MB download, click here.

Oh yeah, by the way, my VCR doesn't play well with the antenna, so it records fuzzily. The clip looks better than the still. How about some more pictures?

This is Monday night's press conference. The questioner is Paul Blume, the guy I dealt with from NBC 15. Coincidentally, he had given a guest lecture that very morning in the class I teach.

Those of us in the j-school picketed around the Humanities building; this is some of us. Tomorrow morning we'll be picketing our own building, Vilas Hall.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Around Madison ... Permalink




So, we're striking tomorrow. For two days we will picket about a dozen high-traffic buildings on campus. I'll be doing an interview with the local NBC affiliate tomorrow morning at 6:25. I have never done a remote link-up interview, so that should be interesting. Also, I expect I will become a local celebrity afterwards.

Hopefully this will be enough to avert the grade strike. We shall see.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Around Madison ... Permalink



Guided By Voices will break up at year's end:

Beloved indie rock act Guided By Voices will split at the end of the year, frontman Robert Pollard announced on stage last night (April 24) at New York's Bowery Ballroom. The group's final album, "Half Smiles of the Decomposed," will be released Aug. 24 via Matador. A full announcement is expected from the label on Monday.

I guess Bob Pollard will be down to just a dozen releases a year after this.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Music ... Permalink




7:24pm Legs X.

I don�t get the �Legs� prompt very often, so I made a special note of it in my book so that I would remember to tell him I�m taller than I usually tell my callers I am. It usually goes like this:

�Hmmm, baby. Tell me what you look like.� And I tell them what I look like.

�I�m 5�2�, I have long light brown hair, and blue eyes with long dark lashes.�

But tonight I told him that I was 5�9� and had nice long legs. He asked where I live and what I do, and asked if I liked to be creative and role-play. You know me, I LOVE to role-play. He tells me he has a couple in mind that we could act out, describes them to me and I pick the �we are in a massage parlor� scenario, thinking that he was going to come to me for a rub down. I was very wrong.

Click to read more

posted by
My 69 Cents Worth ... Permalink




From the AP's story on Kerry's military record release:

Records of John Kerry's Vietnam War service released Wednesday show a highly praised naval officer with an Ivy League education who spoke fluent French and had raced sailboats -- the fruits of a privileged upbringing that set him apart from the typical seaman.

Damn you, liberal media!

[UPDATE: The AP has released a new version with this lede:

Records of John Kerry's Vietnam War service released Wednesday show a highly praised naval officer who volunteered for a dangerous assignment and at one point was "unofficially credited with 20 enemy killed in action."

Not only has the liberal media caved to Kerry on this one, they've failed to mention the 10,000+ enemy killed in action racked up by President-in-His-Majesty George W. Bush. 10,000 is way more than 20, you liberal jerks!]

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Politics ... Permalink



[Editor's note: Jeremy's been away for a while, so if you'd like to reacquaint yourself, you can find his old columns here.]

Listening to: Blake Babies, God Bless the Blake Babies

Look, I'm just going to get this out of the way: I fucking hate The Apprentice. I've never met Donald Trump, and I don't really have anything against him, but the popularity of his show is driving me batty. A large part of my job involves meeting new people, often as a sort of landing party for the ship of Hoffmaster. I contact somebody, say, "Hi, so and so, I'm calling from Hoffmaster, Finney and Cordes, and we're interested in discussing your product, service or other." This used to be a painless process. Now, invariably, after I tell the person that I am Hoffmaster's personal assistant, I hear, "Oh, like on The Apprentice?"

Attention, everyone I call in the next several years: I am not a contest winner. I am not a minstrel. For that matter, I'm not Charlie Sheen, either. Is that settled? Great. Now that I'm good and mad, let's talk about charter schools.

Click to read more

posted by
Capital Ideas ... Permalink




The new set of Get Your War On strips might be the best yet.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Politics ... Permalink




So this guy calls me up and we start chatting about this and that, where we�re from, what I look like, and that this is his first time calling a line like this. Hmmm, oh really? I rarely believe anything they say. Well, anyways, I start to lead him through it, ask him what I would see if I came into his room right now. He tells me I would see him lying on his bed in his boxers. I tell him I feel way overdressed and he suggests I take off my clothes. I tell him I�m naked now and ask him what part of me he goes for first.

Click to read more

posted by
My 69 Cents Worth ... Permalink




Demagogue has an unbelievable find. A Treasury Department press release ends with this paragraph:

America has a choice: It can continue to grow the economy and create new jobs as the President's policies are doing; or it can raise taxes on American families and small businesses, hurting economic recovery and future job creation.

That exact paragraph is found in this RNC fact sheet.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Politics ... Permalink ...
Comments (1)




I posted last month about a lawsuit against Madison bars that allegedly engaged in price-fixing. The Daily Show came to town last week, which gave Doug Moe the opportunity to call the lawsuit "stupid":

But, let's face it, this is a strange lawsuit. When the Wisconsin State Journal made light of it in an editorial, a UW law professor, Peter Carstensen, wrote a serious-minded guest editorial scolding the paper for failing to realize that if the allegations in the suit are true, "the bar owners have violated one of the most basic principles of American antitrust law."

OK, the suit isn't frivolous. It's just stupid. Allow me, with many years in the trenches on this issue, to list a couple of reasons why.

1. The bar owners made a grass-roots, informal effort to curb the worst of excessive drinking on campus by voluntarily cutting back on specials late on weekend nights. They did this as a good-faith response to a possible 24/7 ban on specials that UW officials were thinking of pursuing. Here's a fact: The last thing anyone needs at 10 p.m. on a Saturday night is encouragement to drink more. The late actor Humphrey Bogart, asked in a deposition if it was true that he was intoxicated one Saturday night at midnight, responded, "Isn't everybody?"

2. It didn't save the bars much money and it didn't cost the kids much, if anything. Most of the bars that are named in the suit are packed on Friday and Saturday nights and don't need to offer specials to get people in the door. Some didn't offer them. Those that did often put off-brand items they couldn't move otherwise on special.

I agree that the quality of the claim is sketchy against bars that didn't have specials in the first place. However, to claim that the law shouldn't apply because this case involves the sale of alcohol is ridiculous. "Justice is blind" doesn't just mean that we all receive the same treatment no matter what we look like, it means that the law applies equally in all cases.

Finally, a note to the plaintiffs: Drinking something just because it is on special identifies you as a rube.

Looks like it's been quite a while since Moe was a poor college student. I am a certified vodka snob (the only thing you'll find in my house is Ketel One, which I guess places me on the poor rung of the vodka snob ladder), but if I can get rail cocktails for $2, bring on the cheap-ass vodka.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Around Madison ... Permalink




William Saletan nails down what's going on inside Uncurious George's head:

One thing is for certain, though, about me, and the world has learned this: When I say something, I mean it. And the credibility of the United States is incredibly important for keeping world peace and freedom.

That's the summation President Bush delivered as he wrapped up his press conference Tuesday night. It's the message he emphasized throughout: Our commitment. Our pledge. Our word. My conviction. Given the stakes in Iraq and the war against terrorism, it would be petty to poke fun at Bush for calling credibility "incredibly important." His routine misuse of the word "incredible," while illiterate, is harmless. His misunderstanding of the word "credible," however, isn't harmless. It's catastrophic.


Outside Bush's head, his statements keep crashing into reality. Tuesday night, ABC's Terry Moran reminded him, "Mr. President, before the war, you and members of your administration made several claims about Iraq: that U.S. troops would be greeted as liberators with sweets and flowers; that Iraqi oil revenue would pay for most of the reconstruction; and that Iraq not only had weapons of mass destruction but, as Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said, 'We know where they are.' How do you explain to Americans how you got that so wrong?"

Inside Bush's head, however, all is peaceful. "The oil revenues, they're bigger than we thought they would be," Bush boasted to Moran, evidently unaware that this heightened the mystery of why the revenues weren't covering the reconstruction. As to the WMD, Bush said the chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq had confirmed that Iraq was "hiding things. A country that hides something is a country that is afraid of getting caught." See the logic? A country that hides something must be afraid of getting caught, and a country afraid of getting caught must be hiding something. Each statement validates the other, sparing Bush the need to find the WMD.

This kind of armchair psychoanalysis probably has no basis in scientific theory, but it's an interesting look at one way the "logic" we can see from the outside might fit together on the inside.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Politics ... Permalink




One time I told my boyfriend that some of my callers tell me that they are going to perform cunnilingus and then proceed to slurp and lick and smack their lips. After laughing about how silly those guys must look, he said I should try and get a caller to hum while they pretending to cunnilingus-ing, that THAT would be REALLY FUNNY. I accepted the challenge, and everytime I got off the phone, he would ask if I got anyone to hum.

Click to read more

posted by
My 69 Cents Worth ... Permalink ...
Comments (1)



We got another parakeet yesterday, a little female we're calling Lassie. The total is now three parakeets, one cockatiel and one cat who's not especially skilled at being a predator. Lassie's job will be to mate with Dinner, who we got last summer as a test for the cat. We should be in the new house by the time they get to it, and then we'll be able to enjoy the never-ending fun of baby parakeets all over the place.

[Motion City Soundtrack] When my best of '03 post gets done, Motion City Soundtrack's I Am the Movie will be at the top of it. I vascillate on what my favorite track is, but lately it's been "The Red Dress" (3.6MB), one of many MCS songs that puts to shame most of the last decade's Moog-based pop. Plus, they're absolutely crazy live.

[Burning Airlines] Two years ago, Burning Airlines was at the top of the list. Their second (and ultimately ultimate) record, Identikit, was unlike anything I ever would've expected from J. Robbins, formerly the main guy in Jawbox. The opener, "Outside the Aviary" (2.0MB), sets a blistering pace that describes angularity in a way nobody outside of math rock has done since. It's a shame almost nobody paid attention and they broke up in 2002.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Music ... Permalink ...
Comments (3)




We just bought 12 tickets to the Pixies show in Chicago on November 13. They included over $80 in "convenience charges." Fuck you, Ticketmaster!

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Music ... Permalink




Antonin Scalia, in a speech, before ordering two reporters to destroy their audio recordings:

"The Constitution of the United States is extraordinary and amazing. People just don't revere it like they used to."

That's "Future Chief Justice of the United States of America" Scalia to you.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Politics ... Permalink



Six Clear Channel-owned radio stations have been fined almost $500,000 for "obscenities" aired during Howard Stern's morning show.

Clear Channel suspended Stern in February from its six stations that carry his program, which regularly features graphic sexual discussion and humor. It decided to make the move permanent after the Federal Communications Commission cited the chain for 18 alleged violations from Stern's April 9, 2003, show.

"Mr. Stern's show has created a great liability for us and other broadcasters who air it," said John Hogan, president of Clear Channel Radio. "The Congress and the FCC are even beginning to look at revoking station licenses. That's a risk we're just not willing to take."

In a statement posted on his Web site, Stern said he was not surprised by the fine. He characterized it as furtherance of a "witch hunt" against him by the Bush administration.

Stern didn't anything so bad as show people a female nipple for half a second, but he did make various sexual references and fart sounds. Whoops:

The FCC investigation was prompted by a listener in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who complained about a Stern program that included discussion of sex accompanied by flatulence sounds.

Federal law bars radio stations and over-the-air television channels from airing references to sexual and excretory functions between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., when children may be tuning in. The rules do not apply to cable and satellite channels or satellite radio.

This law apparently does not apply to sitcoms, dramas, reality shows, talk shows, commercials, infomercials, news broadcasts, cartoons or any radio station that ever played R. Kelly's "Bump n' Grind."

Most intriguing about this is that only Clear Channel stations were fined. Stern's show airs on hundreds of stations, but these six were the only ones hit. Clear Channel is a major GOP donor, and Stern has become increasingly anti-Bush of late. Clear Channel had already suspended broadcast of his show after The Tit That Roared, and now they have permanently dropped it. And by the way, John Ashcroft has decided to wage war on porn, including under that umbrella softcore programming such as HBO's Real Sex.

What the fuck kind of free fucking society are we living in?

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
The World at Large ... Permalink




(Yeah, I stole that title from The Village Voice.)

For a while now, Wal-Mart has been trying to build one of their insane "supercenters" in the Madison suburb of Stoughton, already home to a non-mutant Wal-Mart; the Stoughton City Council strongly opposed any new big box construction, and refused to allow a city-wide referendum on the new store. Yesterday, two anti-Wal-Mart Council members were voted out of office and two others were defeated for open seats, setting up a 6-6 split on the issue, with the pro-Wal-Mart Mayor breaking the tie. Madison itself already has two Wal-Marts, and the company has plans in the works in other Madison suburbs.

Meanwhile, the voters of Inglewood, CA, don't have their heads up their asses:

A bid by the world's largest corporation to bypass uncooperative elected officials and take its aggressive expansion plans to voters failed Tuesday, as Inglewood residents overwhelmingly rejected Wal-Mart's proposal to build a colossal retail and grocery center without an environmental review or public hearings.

With all votes counted Tuesday evening, 4,575 Inglewood residents had voted in favor of Wal-Mart's plan, while 7,049 had voted against it.

Wal-Mart hopes to break into California's grocery business by opening 40 such Supercenters statewide. The one in Inglewood would have been Los Angeles County's first.

The proposal would've effectively made the Inglewood Wal-Mart a sovereign city. If you're curious why this would be bad, please go here.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Around Madison ... Politics ... Permalink



It came out last week that, on the very day we were attacked with box-cutters, Condi Rice was due to give a speech on national security that highlighted missile defense and played down anti-terrorism efforts. The Washington Post had excerpts of it and now the 9/11 Commission wants the whole thing. The White House says it's confidential:

The White House has refused to provide the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks with a speech that national security adviser Condoleezza Rice was to have delivered on the night of the attacks touting missile defense as a priority rather than al-Qaida, sources close to the commission said Tuesday.

With Rice scheduled to publicly testify Thursday before the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, the commission submitted a last-minute request for Rice�s aborted Sept. 11 address, the sources told Reuters on condition of anonymity. But the White House has so far refused on the grounds that draft documents are confidential, the sources said.

Meanwhile, you might recall that Scott McClellan repeatedly called the Commission on the carpet for only having five members show up to Rice's informal questioning, when asked why the President would only talk to two members. Turns out that even five was too many:

Dealing with criticism that national security adviser Condoleezza Rice wouldn't testify in public before the 10-member commission investigating the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, White House spokesman Scott McClellan complained last month that when she testified in private, "only five members showed up" to hear what she had to say.

What McClellan didn't tell reporters was that on Nov. 21 � long before Rice met with the five commissioners in February � the White House counsel's office had sent the commission a letter saying no more than three commissioners could attend meetings with White House aides of Rice's rank.

Is a lie of omission really a lie? Who cares. These people are dirty to the core.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Politics ... Permalink




Grade inflation is to higher education what social promotion is to grade school. The Chicago Tribune has this (login with username/password as the username and password):

A's accounted for 56 percent of the undergraduate grades during the just-completed winter quarter at Medill, according to an internal university report.

"When you come to a school like Northwestern, everyone's a perfectionist anyway and is intelligent," said Kellie Mitchell, a freshman from Kansas City, Kan., who received three A-minuses and a B her first quarter.

But the avalanche of A's has the Medill faculty and administrators concerned. Medill Dean Loren Ghiglione has set up a committee to study the matter and is even talking about reviving the nearly extinct grade of C.

Ghiglione said at a meeting with Medill faculty there was a consensus to "try to reintroduce this notion: To get a C at Medill is not a horrible thing."

Medill is Northwestern's School of Journalism. I'm a journalism TA at the University of Wisconsin, one of the top j-schools in the country (alum Anthony Shadid just won the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting), and this is something that we're genuinely concerned about, but not especially worried about. My students this semester will definitely not be getting 56% A's, and neither will the other TAs', based on what they've told me. However, given what we've heard from some students, many other TA's and professors are not so conscientious. A lot of our kids are devastated by even BC's (the equivalent of a B- or C+) and still somewhat shocked by B's.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
The World at Large ... Permalink




Sunday night.

Flat 15 X was the prompt. That means that the person bought a 15 minute block of time outright instead of getting charged by the minute. But that�s all I get, a one or two word prompt that helps me identify what kind of ad the caller is responding to. Flat 15 gives me nothing.

Ding Dong.

I say hello and start up my little spiel and try to see what this guy is into. He tells me he is in his kitchen (which I think is weird) and try to probe to see if he has some kind of kitchen fetish. Well, after about 2.5 min he says,

�You know what? You just aren�t doing it for me. You are just trying to lead me through shit and that is insulting to me.� (I really can�t understand this guy at all, if I was going to insult him, I�d probably just laugh and laugh and laugh my evil laugh that he is calling PHONE SEX, hello?!?!)

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posted by
My 69 Cents Worth ... Permalink




Emily and I went to some rummage sales yesterday. At the first one, which was really this big community center benefit thing, I bought a game that apparently failed to replace Scrabble several decades ago, called Option, and a kitchen device that doesn't make much sense to me but only cost $0.10. I think it may be a grapefruit puller-outer, or at least that's what I'm using it for.

[Mark Lanegan] Tomorrow it's ten years since Kurt Cobain killed himself. I was 14 at the time, and a huge Nirvana fan. The event had as much impact on me as any cultural event probably could, and it still informs most of my thinking about death, depression, rock and roll and the mass media. I posted something a couple years ago about Bruce McCulloch's "Vigil," a spoken word track full of flip brusqueness and desperate curiosity, to the effect that I doubted I would ever be able understand what Kurt didn't see in the world and whether I couldn't see it either.

I don't know if Mark Lanegan has ever spoken publically about any of this. Lanegan, then the frontman for Screaming Trees, and Cobain were friends in the Seattle scene, and they collaborated on a couple tracks for Lanegan's solo debut, The Winding Sheet. "Where Did You Sleep Last Night" (3.6MB), the Leadbelly song with which Nirvana closed their Unplugged set, features Cobain on guitar and Krist Novoselic on bass and has a much more driving, gothic feel than does the Nirvana version. Lanegan and Screaming Trees were always the closest thing there was to a "grunge" prototype, I think, even more so than Soundgarden. I saw him perform with Queens of the Stone Age last summer and couldn't believe that the Trees never became huge arena-fillers. Their early work (and much of The Winding Sheet, to be honest) is a little inaccessible, but by the time "Nearly Lost You" got them their 15 minutes in 1992, their material was ready for prime-time.

Like everybody but Pearl Jam, Screaming Trees are gone now. After the suicide, one of Cobain's songs was given to Lanegan, but I can't find anything to indicate whether or not he's recorded it. Courtney Love has become a sad punchline, for the most part, Dave Grohl is now his own rock star and Novoselic is helping tend to the pigs on Bill Berry's farm. Ten years have elapsed in all our lives, unless you got here after Kurt left. If there are lessons in this that haven't already been summed up in 20-word greeting card poems, I don't know what they are.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Music ... Permalink




Audrey Seiler is a fraud:

University of Wisconsin student Audrey Seiler made up her original abduction story.

Seiler says that she was not abducted from her Regent Street Apartment Saturday; however, she was abducted from another place in the city at knife-point. However, Madison police say they don't think a suspect exists.

The search for Seiler has been the focus of national attention all week. Seiler changed her story when police confronted her with "inconsistencies," said acting Madison Police Chief Noble Wray at a press conference.

And The Capital Times has this:

Police also have uncovered videotapes of Seiler in a store buying the items she claimed her abductor used to keep her captive, including duct tape, rope, cold medicine, gum and a knife, Wray said.

And they discovered that two entrances to The Regent apartments had no video surveillance, suggesting that she might have used those entrances to come and go unnoticed after her "disappearance."

And he said flatly, "We do not believe there is a suspect at large, period."


posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Around Madison ... Permalink



You've probably never called phone sex, but I bet you wonder what happens on the line. Never fear, I'll save you 69 cents a minute by reporting to you the craziest calls I get as a phone actress. Be warned, there may be explict language....

So this guy calls me up, demands my name, and asks if I have a problem with taking advantage of men. I follow the cardinal rule of phone acting and say �No, I don�t have a problem with that.�

Click to read more

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My 69 Cents Worth ... Permalink




It hasn't taken long for questions about the various parts of the Audrey Seiler story to go mainstream:

Police described the suspect as a white male in his late 20s to early 30s, with a longish rectangular head and chubby cheeks, a prominent chin, a long fleshy nose, and a small mouth with downturned corners. The suspect is about 5'10 or 5'11, with a stocky build, police said.

Yesterday he was 6' tall and skinny.

A law enforcement source outside the Madison Police Department who is familiar with the case said Thursday, "I can't go anywhere in this city without hearing someone say, based on what I've heard, this doesn't make sense. If it doesn't make sense to the average citizen, you can imagine where law enforcement is."


The source said Madison police burned themselves by jumping to conclusions in previous cases, such as the "Patty" rape case, and do not want to repeat the mistake. "They just can't expose themselves, considering what they've just gone through," the source said.

In that case, police in 1997 accused a Madison woman known as "Patty" of making up a story about being sexually assaulted. Later DNA evidence identified a state prisoner as the suspect, and Joseph Bong was convicted of the rape after a weeklong trial in March.

Meanwhile, local affiliates are reporting tonight that the woman who first noticed Seiler walking around in the marsh had also seen her walking out there alone the day before:

The Department of Revenue employee who called police after discovering Audrey in a marshy area near her office yesterday, is not talking to the media, but some who work with her have indicated Seiler may have been spotted in the same area on both Monday and Tuesday.

My own theory may be too callous for public consumption.

UPDATE [04:02:08:52] - The Wisconsin State Journal has a story out headlined "Police: No reason to think Seiler story made up," which means the possibility is at least being discussed; Seiler's parents have denied that she has a history of drug problems or mental illness.

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Around Madison ... Permalink



If you follow the national news, you probably know that a University of Wisconsin student disappeared last Saturday. She was one of about 100,000 missing persons in the country, but managed to become an important news item on at least two networks by the beginning of the week.

I saw a news van from St. Paul, MN, parked outside her apartment building yesterday around 1:00 and took a picture of it so I could do a post about watching this local story go national from the inside. For some reason my spycam didn't actually capture the picture, but it didn't matter: She was found right around the time I was passing the truck.

Click to read more

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Around Madison ... Permalink



I think it's clear by now that there will be no smoking gun for the Bush Administration, unless Bush himself is caught having shot someone. Somewhere between 40 and 45% of the country simply doesn't care and won't care before November. But today's Washington Post basically nails down the claim that the White House was interested in terrorism before the attacks, and their post hoc claims now are flat-out lies.

The speech was postponed in the chaos of the day, part of which Rice spent in a bunker. It mentioned terrorism, but did so in the context used in other Bush administration speeches in early 2001: as one of the dangers from rogue nations, such as Iraq, that might use weapons of terror, rather than from the cells of extremists now considered the main security threat to the United States.

The text also implicitly challenged the Clinton administration's policy, saying it did not do enough about the real threat -- long-range missiles.

"We need to worry about the suitcase bomb, the car bomb and the vial of sarin released in the subway," according to excerpts of the speech provided to The Washington Post. "[But] why put deadbolt locks on your doors and stock up on cans of mace and then decide to leave your windows open?"

The text of Rice's Sept. 11 speech, which was never delivered, broadly reflects Bush administration foreign policy pronouncements during the eight months leading to the attacks, according to a review of speeches, news conferences and media appearances. Although the administration did address terrorism, it devoted far more attention to pushing missile defense, a controversial idea both at home and abroad, the review shows.


"The president's commitment to fighting terrorism isn't measured by the number of speeches, but by the concrete actions taken to fight the threat," said James R. Wilkinson, deputy national security adviser for communications, when asked about the speech. "The first major foreign policy directive of this administration was the new strategy to eliminate al Qaeda that the White House ordered soon after taking office. It was eliminating al Qaeda, not missile defense, not Iraq, and not the [Anti-Ballistic Missile] Treaty," he said.

The administration requested such a directive in May 2001, but it did not take shape until a week before Sept. 11, according to a staff report of the commission investigating attacks. Bush signed the final directive in October, weeks after the attack.

A review of major public pronouncements in the first eight months of 2001 found relatively few extensive statements by Bush, Vice President Cheney or Rice about al Qaeda, bin Laden or other Islamic extremist groups.

The president set the tone. In his first address to Congress, on Feb. 27, 2001, Bush acknowledged the danger of bomb-wielding terrorists, but also promoted missile defense as the priority in protecting the United States.

The thing is, as basically everyone has said, they could get a pass on this. They turned out to be wrong, but I don't think the argument can really be made that, pre-attacks, their policy was irresponsible. But as long as this part of the story goes on, the part where they continued to focus on ICBM's, WMD's and "rogue states" after the attacks will go on. That's the real crime, and I can't figure out why political genius Karl Rove doesn't see where this is headed.

Or maybe he can? Campaign Desk has an interesting analysis of recent polling data:

On Saturday, a Newsweek poll showed President Bush's approval rating for his handling of terrorism and homeland security had dropped from 70 to 57 percent in the past two months. The poll also said, however, that the president's overall approval rating had held steady.


But it's the second thought that's the big one, and it's not addressed by either Newsweek or the AP: Could it be, as this poll indicated, that voters' growing discontent with Bush's performance at fighting terrorism -- supposedly the central issue in his campaign -- is of relatively minor importance? After all, second poll released by CNN/USA Today/Gallup late Tuesday, actually showed the president widening his lead over presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry.

That flies in the face of all conventional wisdom in both campaign camps and in the press itself -- and that's a story.

As I see it, there are two major potential explanations here. One is that Campaign Desk is right. We don't really care about terrorism in political terms. I'm not entirely sure I buy that as is, but I think I could be convinced that people believe Bush and Kerry would have roughly equal levels of success over the next four years. The campaigns have also not explicitly politicized their plans for the next four years of dealing with terror, so it may simply not be that charged up for people. Since we're two and a half years out from the attacks, I don't have a problem believing that people no longer process terrorism in domestic or non-military terms.

Option two is that the White House power structure is filled with pathological liars. These possibilities are not mutually exclusive, of course, and the recent travails of David Letterman indicate that this is the case.

Last night we showed a clip of the President giving a speech. Behind him stood a lad who was obviously bored silly. The 14-year-old or so yawned, scratched, yawned, yawned, checked his watch, bent over, stared at the ceiling, and then fell asleep during the President's speech. It was very funny. So funny, in fact, that CNN replayed the clip Tuesday during their broadcasts. But, but, but, the first time is was shown, CNN anchorwoman Daryn Kagan reported that the White House said the clip was a total fake, it was merely the Late Show having fun with their ability to edit and do TV tricks. Dave says what the CNN reporter said was an out and out 100% lie. A couple hours later, CNN anchor person Kyra Phillips reported that the kid was at the speech but not where the Late Show had him. Dave again makes the claim, "That's an out and out absolute 100% lie. That kid was exactly where we said he was." It's true. The speech was at a Florida Rally on March 20th at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. Dave is irked that the White House was trying to make him look like a jerk. But he's glad he got his side of the story out in the open.

Later, the White House claimed it never called CNN and the network said the anchors "misspoke." Now Letterman says he has a source that tells him the White House did make the calls. What the fuck?

posted by Aaron S. Veenstra
Politics ... Permalink