Steinem: Nader Was Wrong to Have a Woman on His Ticket

Gloria Steinem was just one of several prominent feminists who went out of their way to criticize Green Party candidate Ralph Nader for daring to run for president. Steinem and others, including the National Organization for Women, argued that the main effect of Nader’s candidacy would be to elect the pro-life George W. Bush who would appoint people in the mould of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court (ignoring, conveniently, that a Democratic Senate voted to confirm Thomas).

Steinem certainly has the right to share her views, but toward the end of the presidential campaign she penned a “Top Ten Reasons Why I’m not Voting for Nader” letter that was widely distributed via e-mail. Among the ten reasons Steinem wasn’t voting for Nader, number four was bizarre,

4) Nader asked Winona LaDuke, an important Native American leader, to support and run with him, despite his likely contribution to the victory of George W. Bush, a man who has stated that “state law is supreme when to comes to Indians.”

This is a bit bizarre. She’s not going to vote for Nader specifically because he was able to convince a woman to run as his vice-president? As Ellen Johnson noted in a reply to Steinem, she appears to be questioning LaDuke’s agency, as if the Native American activist had no choice in the matter.

I think LaDuke was a bad choice because, like Nader, she’s pretty much wrong about everything, but to argue that feminists should vote against Nader because he had the temerity to ask a woman to run as his vice-president is absurd.

Why Josh Harper Won't Testify to Grand Jury

On Friday, November 17, 2000, animal rights activist Josh Harper was scheduled to be indicted in Portland, Oregon, for refusing to testify before a grand jury. Harper has in the past claimed to be an innocent conduit of information from other, anonymous, activists who have carried out terrorist attacks on animal enterprises. Although apparently not a target of any investigations himself, federal prosecutors subpoenaed Harper to testify before a grand jury investigating such attacks. Prosecutors likely believe that Harper has direct knowledge of who is carrying out Animal Liberation Front/Environmental Liberation Front attacks.

Harper’s own behavior makes it seem likely that he has such knowledge. Harper has repeatedly told animal rights-friendly audiences that he has no idea who is behind the ALF attacks, but refuses to appear before a grand jury and say, “I have no idea who is behind the ALF attacks.” Why?

If you believe Harper, its because his way of protesting the oppressive state. If you read between the lines, however, Harper’s got the best reason in the world for not testifying — he almost certainly does know who was behind the attacks and if he testifies otherwise he would open himself up to later perjury charges.

A recent statement by Harper seems to indicate he knows more than he claims. According to Harper,

This is a first in our movement, and will set a precedent that could be very harmful. The government is essentially saying, “Snitch on your friends or go to jail” Failure to cooperate with a grand jury is going to start costing people years of their lives.

If, as Harper claims, he has no knowledge of who committed several prominent ALF attacks, why would he be forced to snitch on friends before the grand jury? It might come as a shock to animal rights activists, but generally “their my friends” is not considered a good reason not to testify about criminal actions of acquaintances.


Don’t Let Harper’s Jailing Go Unnoticed. Frontline Information Service press release, November 15, 2000.

Josh Harper Statement: Increase the Momentum. Frontline Information Service press release, November 11, 2000.

No-show spurs FBI to arrest Eugene activist. Mark Larabee, The Oregonian, September, 29, 2000.

Josh Harper Statement. Frontline Information Service press release, October 2, 2000.

We Want Information… er, DVDs

Excellent news — the late-1960s television show, “The Prisoner,” is being released on DVD. Currently two DVD sets containing the first six episodes have been released in the United States, with the rest of the episodes to be released by October 2001.

What’s the big deal about “The Prisoner”? The Prisoner Appreciation Society has all the details about the series, but to my mind it is easily the best science-fiction/fantasy television series ever and one of the best television series, period.

Detroit Schools: We Need More Money for Our Principal’s Lavish Lifestyles

Michigan had a voucher initiative on the ballot, and as in other states this election cycle it went down in flames. To their credit, the anti-voucher forces ran a very sophisticated and very expensive ad campaign that led voters to believe that the voucher proposal would cause property taxes to skyrocket and take money away from public schools.

The first claim was false — Michigan has a stringent law limiting the rate at which property taxes can increase. The second claim was true but that was the whole point — the failing school districts that the voucher proposal would have targeted needed to have money taken away from them because, for the most part, those school systems are extremely corrupt and large sums of money just end up disappearing.

As an example of how bad the situation is, The Detroit News has an investigative report about the results of a confidential audit (i.e. the News was never supposed to get a copy) that would be almost unbelievable if it weren’t for the fact that such revelations about the Detroit public schools is so common.

The audit found $630,000 that simply could not be account for from various high schools and which apparently went to line the pockets of principals and their associates at the school.

One high school principal billed the school system for his son’s trip to Italy along with almost $4,000 for alcoholic beverages! Another got the school system to cut him a $600 check so he could travel to the Final Four basketball tournament. Moreover, there was a pattern on behalf of the principals to hide revenues. In a scam typical of the schools, one principal simply stopped keeping track of attendance at athletic events so that no one will ever know if the deposited funds actually are equal to the gate receipts. At nine different schools a total of 193 days worth of lunch receipts are simply unaccounted for.

But the real kicker is how seriously the Detroit public school administrators deal with such misuse of funds. Three of the principals profiled by the Detroit News, including one ordered to pay back almost $80,000, were all promoted after the audit was conducted.

This from a school system that is constantly whining it doesn’t have enough money for supplies and other essentials for it students. Of course the local private schools spend less per pupil and achieve much better results, which was the whole point of the voucher proposal. Better that students see their principals sending their children to Italy at taxpayer expense rather than be forced to sit in a safe classroom in a private school where they might actually learn to read.


Detroit school funds misused. The Detroit News, November 20, 2000.

If You’re Running MS Office 2000, You Need a 1.5 GHZ Chip (At Least)

Wired quotes consultant John McCormick as saying that the newly announced 1.5 gigahertz Pentium 4 won’t have much impact on ordinary office workers. “People who use word processing applications and spread sheets won’t see much of a difference in performance,” McCormick told Wired.

Give me a break. Has McCormick used this bloatware recently? At work I’m running on a 500 MHZ Pentium III with 128 mb memory, and both WordPerfect and Microsoft Office consume resources like crazy. Not only will I need a 1.5 GHZ, but I also need a SCSI hard drive given the way these programs are constantly going to the C: drive (this even with no other programs open).

Some people I know like to use the latest 3-d games to test how fast a computer system really is. On the other hand I think MS Office 2000 is the real test of how much a system can handle (I’m surprised Nvidia and 3DFX never decided to market Office Accelerator Cards!)