31 December 2009

New Year Chill

Whether it's background music as you prepare for the evening's festivities, or whether you listen on your way to the midnight hour, here is part of the night's soundtrack as we countdown to 2010:



Playlist:
The Forgotten People - Thievery Corporation
Reserver - Redlounge Orchestra
Free - Lisa Shaw
Music & Wine (Conga Lounge Remix) - Blue Six
Love You Inside Out (Cole Medina Remix) - Bee Gees
Big Fun - Inner City
The World Is a Beat - N'dambi
Crazy (2005 Remix) - Seal
We're In the City - Saint Etienne
The Music's No Good Without You - Cher
Aerer - Redlounge Orchestra
Postales - Federico Aubuele
MJ Mega-Remix - Michael Jackson

Happy New Year!

28 December 2009

Thoughts On Detroit

More on the attempted terrorist attack in Detroit later, but suffice it to say:

1. The President has done the right thing in not putting these thugs front and center by rushing back to D.C. to tend to the follow-up investigation. (I don't know that I would have played golf, but that's just me.) That said, Mr. Obama is monitoring events and his team has been hard at work since the 25th.

2. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's contention that "the system worked" is way off base. Obviously it didn't. The "system" as it stands does not, I presume, take into account the fact that airline passengers function as air marshalls. Granted, the system broke down in Niger and the Netherlands, as well as the United States, and the American government needs to work in concert with both of those countries to put a working system in place; but to say the system worked is arrogant along the lines of the Bush administration. One way Napolitano can redeem herself? She can fire the staffer responsible for letting this guy slip through the cracks.

24 December 2009

Happy Hanu-Kwanz-Mas!

Have a wonderful holiday everyone. Be safe. I'll be back after the long holiday weekend.

It's Official: Health Care Passes Senate

On a strict party line vote, following a filibuster attempt by the Republicans and several more procedural moves, the Senate passed their version of health care legislation this morning. The vote was 60 to 39 (one Republican was not present). All 60 "yes" votes came from the Democratic caucus.

Read the President's remarks on passage of the bill here.

23 December 2009

"The courage to do the right thing"

As always, Thomas Friedman nails it:
As I listened to Denmark’s minister of economic and business affairs describe how her country used higher energy taxes to stimulate innovation in green power and then recycled the tax revenues back to Danish industry and consumers to make it easier for them to make and buy the new clean technologies, it all sounded so, well, intelligent.

How long are we Americans going to go on thinking that we can thrive in the 21st century when doing the optimal things — whether for energy, health care, education or the deficit — are “off the table.”

My fellow Americans, the fact that the recent Copenhagen climate summit was a bust in terms of solving our energy/climate problems doesn’t mean that we can ignore those problems — or that we can ignore how individual countries, like Denmark, have effectively addressed them. With unemployment in Denmark at about 4 percent, compared with our 10 percent, maybe we should at least consider putting a few of its ideas on our table.
Because I was disgusted with the lack of gravitas in the Democratic presidential field, I cast a write-in vote for Mr. Friedman in the California Democratic primary in 2004. The man was the only one who wanted America to take the debris of 9/11 and turn it into something positive; he was the only person to say out loud that Americans had to sacrifice a whole lot to get where we needed to go; he was the only guy in the room warning that if we didn't step up to the plate, America was to find herself a second-class world citizen.

Yet many in congress (mainly Republicans, but a few Democrats as well) refuse to make the hard choices needed to make us less dependent on Middle East oil, to overhaul our failing education system, to repair and solidify our manufacturing sector. These members of congress have one goal and one goal only: to be re-elected time and again. To which I ask, "for what?" The longer they wait to do something, the harder those things that need to get done will be when a future congress finally has the cajones to address these issues head on.

And until these imbeciles cast the votes necessary for such legislation, America's stature diminishes further by the day.

Update, thinking out load: Personally, I think it would behoove President Obama to add two voices to his team of advisers in the White House - two men who could challenge the President to go the extra mile, to serve as key players during administration debates, to add a level of intelligence to the discussion that Mr. Obama doesn't necessarily get from his core political team. Those two men are Mr. Friedman and Andrew Sullivan.

Had I been president, those two would have been offered key advisory roles in my administration. I wouldn't have agreed with them 100% of the time. Not even close. But to have such brain power challenging the president on the key issues of the day would help make any president one of the greats of the 21st century.

Chateau Vaux le Vicomte

Our buddy Curtis puts together his 2009 gingerbread house. It's nothing short of amazing, really.

22 December 2009

Released This Week, 47 Years Ago

My personal all-time favorite...



The role of Atticus Finch won Gregory Peck that year's Best Actor Academy Award. His acceptance speech should be studied by every nominee in every category every year.

Movie vs TV Mash-Up: "Let's Enhance"

Pretty fun stuff...

Santorum of the Day

The fascists over at World Net Daily...

Christmas Across America

Peace and joy, my ass. THIS is your typical American Christmas...

More On Health Care

Andrew Sullivan nails it:
What Obama has done is force the existing system to insure 30 million more people at a modest cost, and to include a swathe of (still-insufficient) varieties and strategies of cost-control. This is huge - the biggest first year achievement of any president since Reagan. If you consider that he did this while also managing the steepest down-turn in decades, revamping America's image in the world, preventing a banking implosion, and prosecuting two unresolved wars in the face of almost deranged opposition, it's pretty damn impressive.
Ross Douthat:
In the end, when the history of the health care debate is written, I don't think any of the choices that G.O.P. lawmakers made this year will loom particularly large. The choices that they made, or didn't make, across the last fifteen years are what made all the difference. Between the defeat of Clintoncare and the election of Barack Obama, the Republicans had plenty of chances to take ownership of the health care issue and pass a significant reform along more free-market, cost-effective lines. They didn't. The system deteriorated on their watch instead. And now they're reaping the consequences.
Taegan Goddard:
...the political blunder made by Republicans -- an all or nothing effort to defeat the bill -- means they will now have to live with the consequences for a generation or more.
Two more random points:

1. As Sullivan said, the cost-controls in the Senate bill are insufficient. Over the next couple of years, congress should work to get those under control. This bill is a step in the right direction, though.

2. While 60 votes were cobbled together to end the filibuster the other night, and while the bill looks to be on track to jump over some procedural moves this week on its way to passage by Christmas Eve, this process still has one more major battle ahead before it becomes law. This is the SENATE bill. Last month the HOUSE passed their bill. Once the Senate passes their bill this week, a conference committee consisting of key members of both houses will try to merge the two bills into one. The final bill is then voted on by both houses of congress before going to the president for signature. This is how most bills work. But with two conservative Democrats saying they won't support certain measures in the House bill if they wind up in the merged final product, then we're in for another bumpy ride after the holidays. (As the Ways and Means Committee Chairman said about merging these two health care bills, "It's akin to mating a Chihuahua with a Great Dane.")

21 December 2009

Kyle at Christmas

Heh!

Filibuster Defeated - Health Care Final Vote This Week

On a raw party line vote, the Republican filibuster to the Senate health care bill was defeated at 1am this morning. All 58 Democrats and the two independents who caucus with the Democrats provided the 60 votes needed to end the block. Not one of the 40 Republicans voted with the Democrats.

While there are still several procedural things that need to take place, the bill looks to be on track for final official passage sometime this week.

And despite all that is wrong with this bill, that is a huge step forward. There's still some work to do, but we're heading in the right direction. For the first time since a health care overhaul was first proposed in 1917, a bill will go to the president's desk for signature.

UPDATE: Sen. Al Franken (Democrat-MN) explains why is supporting this bill over at DailyKos.

UPDATE 2: Krugman is pleased:
Unless some legislator pulls off a last-minute double-cross, health care reform will pass the Senate this week. Count me among those who consider this an awesome achievement. It's a seriously flawed bill, we'll spend years if not decades fixing it, but it's nonetheless a huge step forward.

20 December 2009

The Winter Solstice

Fourteen songs for these shortest days of the year. Press play and enjoy...



Playlist:
Maybe So, Maybe No - Mayer Hawthorne
Moon River - Henry Mancini
Happy Ending - Joe Jackson/Elaine Caswell
Planet Home - Jamiroquai
Never There - Cake
Stand By Love - Simple Minds
Two Weeks - Grizzly Bear
L.I.E. - N'dambi
I.G.Y. - Donald Fagen
Reality - Steve Taylor
Undress Me Now - Morcheeba
What It Feels Like For a Girl - Madonna
Your Love Is Forever - Ben Bridwell
Je Cherche un Homme - Eartha Kitt

19 December 2009

Kennedy's Widow Endorses Health Care Plan

Victoria Reggie Kennedy's op-ed will appear in tomorrow's Washington Post. Key passages:
The bill before the Senate, while imperfect, would achieve many of the goals Ted fought for during the 40 years he championed access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans.

Ted knew that accomplishing reform would be difficult. "If it were easy," he told me, "it would have been done a long time ago." He predicted that as the Senate got closer to a vote, compromises would be necessary, coalitions would falter and many ardent supporters of reform would want to walk away.

Saturday Morning Mash-Up

Boston and the Black Eyed Peas have a feelin'.

Google's Quest For World Domination Continues

They've put an offer on the table to buy Yelp.

A Senate Deal on Health Care

For better or for worse, the hapless majority leader has struck a bargain with Sen. Ben Nelson (Democrat-NE) regarding abortion language.

TPM has the scoop on the poop here.

18 December 2009

Pass the Health Care Bill

Paul Krugman, the New York Times columnist and 2008 winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, wants congress to pass the health care bill.

Key passages of today's column:
A message to progressives: By all means, hang Senator Joe Lieberman in effigy. Declare that you’re disappointed in and/or disgusted with President Obama. Demand a change in Senate rules that, combined with the Republican strategy of total obstructionism, are in the process of making America ungovernable.

But meanwhile, pass the health care bill.

...let’s all take a deep breath, and consider just how much good this bill would do, if passed — and how much better it would be than anything that seemed possible just a few years ago. With all its flaws, the Senate health bill would be the biggest expansion of the social safety net since Medicare, greatly improving the lives of millions. Getting this bill would be much, much better than watching health care reform fail.

At its core, the bill would do two things: First...Americans could no longer be denied health insurance because of a pre-existing condition, or have their insurance canceled when they get sick Second, the bill would provide substantial financial aid to those who don’t get insurance through their employers, as well as tax breaks for small employers that do provide insurance.

All of this would be paid for in large part with the first serious effort ever to rein in rising health care costs.

The result would be a huge increase in the availability and affordability of health insurance, with more than 30 million Americans gaining coverage, and premiums for lower-income and lower-middle-income Americans falling dramatically. That’s an immense change

Bear in mind also the lessons of history: social insurance programs tend to start out highly imperfect and incomplete, but get better and more comprehensive as the years go by. Thus Social Security originally had huge gaps in coverage — and a majority of African-Americans, in particular, fell through those gaps. But it was improved over time, and it’s now the bedrock of retirement stability for the vast majority of Americans.

Whereas flawed social insurance programs have tended to get better over time, the story of health reform suggests that rejecting an imperfect deal in the hope of eventually getting something better is a recipe for getting nothing at all. Not to put too fine a point on it, America would be in much better shape today if Democrats had cut a deal on health care with Richard Nixon, or if Bill Clinton had cut a deal with moderate Republicans back when they still existed.
Krugman then goes on to suggest that the Senate needs to change its ways:
Beyond that, we need to take on the way the Senate works. The filibuster, and the need for 60 votes to end debate, aren’t in the Constitution. They’re a Senate tradition, and that same tradition said that the threat of filibusters should be used sparingly. Well, Republicans have already trashed the second part of the tradition: look at a list of cloture motions over time, and you’ll see that since the G.O.P. lost control of Congress it has pursued obstructionism on a literally unprecedented scale. So it’s time to revise the rules.
With rules as they stand, the Democratic majority can't govern. Of course, they have only themselves to blame for making the rules that way. But, with the hapless Harry Reid leading them, the only way the Democrats stand a chance next November is if they change the Senate rules so they can actually GOVERN between now and Election Day next year.

I am not suggesting they do away with the filibuster. But they really ought to make it so that it's really hard to call one. As I have suggested before, the way to do that is to go back to the old days solid Senate leaders like Alben Barkely and Lyndon Johnson. If a senator calls a filibuster, then that senator (and only that senator) must stand on the senate floor and discuss the issue at hand non-stop until either one of two things happen: 1. the chamber cobbles together 60
votes to stop the filibuster; 2. The senator stops speaking.

As it stands right now, the current rule essentially requires every bill to pass with a 60-vote majority. That's a super-majority rule, and that, in my view, is unconstitutional.

UPDATE: A TPM reader writes Josh Marshall:
If I feel abandoned, it's not by Obama and the Democratic party, it's by those on the left advocating to kill the bill.

I am unemployed and have a pre-existing condition that requires daily medicines, quarterly doctors visits and an annual test. I am on COBRA, which runs out mid-2010, when I will have to find new health insurance. I will need to purchase some kind of health insurance, assuming I can find provider who will insure me.

I don't pretend to understand all the intricacies of the health care reform bill, but I do read a lot. From what I can glean, if the bill passed, I would be able to find health insurance because I could not to be turned down due to my pre-exisiting condition. And based on my income at the moment, my premuims would be subsidized.
My hunch is that once (if) this bill passes, more people will be pleased with it than you think.

But as I said earlier today, those on the left who are advocating that congress jettison the current proposals and start from scratch aren't really thinking. Dump the current legislation and it will be another generation - if not longer - before we see this tried again.

End-of-the-Week Levity

Santa Claus: Terrorist?

Jack Bauer is on the case...

Point, Counterpoint

Nate Silver and Markos Moulitsas debate the current Senate health care proposal, with Silver thinking we should take what we can get and Moulitsas thinking we should jettison the plan and start from scratch.

In hindsight, this probably should have been approached at more piecemeal pace, with a ban on pre-existing conditions and policy cancellations, along with some serious cost control measures put into place in one bill, then tackling how to insure the uninsured later.

That said, I tend to agree with Silver at this point. We should take what we can get at right now, because with 2010 being an election year, most of Congress won't touch a revised bill. And with the Democrats more than likely to lose a significant number of seats in that election, the chances of doing something in 2011 are almost nil. In fact, if the current bill isn't considered (or if it fails) we won't see significant health care legislation for at least another generation.

16 December 2009

Joe and Harry

1992 Illinois Democratic Senate primary: Twelve-year incumbent Alan Dixon loses re-nomination to Carol Moseley-Braun. Dixon, ever the Democratic Party loyalist, concedes gracefully:
I spent a lifetime in Democratic politics, and I spent that lifetime in Democratic politics playing by the rules.... And I said in this primary campaign that I would support the winner, that I would endorse the winner, and that I would vote for the winner.... I accept that result just as fully as I accepted 29 good results for Alan Dixon in the past.
2006 Connecticut Democratic Senate primary: Eighteen-year incumbent Joseph Lieberman, his party's nominee for vice-president in 2000, loses re-nomination to Ned Lamont. HIS concession? Classless:
I am of course disappointed by the results, but I am not discouraged...let me tell you...I cannot and will not let this result stand.
Back in the days of Alben Barkley and Lydnon Johnson, Lieberman would have been stripped of every committee assignment and chairmanship, his seniority in the chamber rolled back to zero, and his professional life made miserable.

But in the Senate of a cuckold old rooster like Harry Reid? A turncoat like Lieberman barks and the majority leader bends over and spreads his ass open.

Pathetic.

Mid-Week Brain Break

Amateur video put together to "Two Weeks" by Grizzly Bear...

Two Weeks - Grizzly Bear from Gabe Askew on Vimeo.

Lieberman vs. Reid

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a fucking cuckold wimp of a man, has given Sen. Joe Lieberman (Fascist-CT) way too much power.

Adult Swim was able to film health care negotiations between the two men. Here, Lieberman (wearing black) tells Reid (wearing blue) exactly what needs to be done if Lieberman is to support a bill...

15 December 2009

Little Miss Chloe

Waiting for her daddy to sit down on the sofa and settle in for the evening.

Lieberman: Fuckwad of the Year

Greg Sargent dug up a video from THIS PAST SEPTEMBER, in which Sen. Lieberman backed the Medicare "buy-in" he is currently threatening to filibuster:



It is obvious at this point that Lieberman's only goal is to screw the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. This isn't about health care for him. It's about payback for his loss in the 2006 party primary.

Asshole.

Up Shit's Creek, Sans Paddle

Quote of the Day:
It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.
-Upton Sinclair, as quoted yesterday by NY Times columnist Paul Krugman.

In that column Krugman argues that, as history shows us, it's up to the Democrats to reign in the banks and put our financial system back on solid footing.

With THIS congress?

Well, shit. We're fucked, aren't we?

Update: Elizabeth Warren, chairperson of the Congressional oversight panel on bank bailouts, says bank regulations fail over time.

As I just said: Fucked.

Biden: Lieberman Wrong on Health Care

Well, at least the VICE-president hasn't lost his cajones.

14 December 2009

Parker Wins Mayors Race In Houston

Annise Parker was elected mayor of Houston, Texas this past weekend, winning 53.6% of the vote to her opponent's 46.4%. Parker becomes the first openly gay mayor of a major U.S. city.

Her acceptance speech:

Buckley on Heller

Christopher Buckley, in yesterday's NY Times, on the anniversary of the death of his good friend, author Joseph Heller:
The death of any friend leaves a hole. In this case, a succession of holes, for I’ve often found myself wondering over the last 10 years, “What would Joe have made of this?” Having died just before the start of a tumultuous — to say the least — decade, the author of a landmark 20th-century satire missed, or perhaps another way to put it, avoided:

• the Florida recount

• 9/11

• weapons of mass destruction

• Saddam Hussein’s hanging, available on cellphone and YouTube

• Dick Cheney shooting his lawyer

• Hurricane Katrina

• John Kerry, war hero, being depicted as a Swift-boating wimp

• Lady Gaga

• A.I.G. bonuses

• Bernard Madoff

• the election of Barack Obama

• Glenn Beck

• the “controversy” over Barack Obama’s birth certificate

• Sarah Palin, best-selling author.
Heller's "Catch-22" is next on my list of never-read-classics. I have been meaning to pick it up ever since reading "No Laughing Matter," his memoir about battling Guillain-Barré syndrome, in 1987.

That one, I recommend highly.

Santorum of the Day

Senator Joe Lieberman (Fascist-CT):
You've got to take out the Medicare buy-in. You've got to forget about the public option. You probably have to take out the Class Act, which was a whole new entitlement program that will, in future years, put us further into deficit. And you've got to adopt some of the cost containment provisions that will strengthen cost containment, that all of us favor.
Never mind that you argued FOR those exact things during your 2000 run for the vice-presidency, and again in 2006 during your run for renomination to your Senate seat.

Hey Joe: It seems to me that your move to the dark side is now complete, and that the only reason you continue to caucus with the Democrats is so that you can remain chairman of your beloved Homeland Security committee.

Why don't you do us all a favor? Admit that your transformation to becoming a Fascist Republican is now complete, caucus with their lot, and then fuck right off.

Wright vs. Hitchens

The Republican Party (namely the Fascists among them), as well as some Democrats, would do well to watch this debate over the war on terrorism between Robert Wright ("The Evolution of God") and Christopher Hitchens (Vanity Fair).

In watching it myself, there were times when I wanted to reach through the monitor and ring Hitchens' neck; but at the same time I had to respect the courage of his convictions, even years after the evidence has proven him so terribly wrong.

THIS is how a policy debate should take place, especially on something as grave as war. Had the United States Senate actually took the time to think it all through, to weigh the intelligence (or lack thereof), well, things may have turned out a bit differently, don't you think?

The Dispensaries vs. the Dime-Baggers

Joel Stein's hilarious take on California's growing, and practically legal, pot industry:
I was granted a medical-marijuana license, even though I'm healthy and I don't smoke weed. I went to a doctor's office that consisted of a desk, a TV, two cans of air freshener and a man wearing a Hawaiian T-shirt. I told Dr. Magnum P.I. about my constant anxiety, insomnia and headaches — two more conditions than any previous patient had bothered to mention. He freaked out and gave me a pot license for only six months until I saw a psychologist. My lovely wife Cassandra, however, got a full year's prescription by claiming she was afflicted with a condition called "menstruation."
The entire piece is well worth your time.

11 December 2009

Obama's Nobel Speech

In its entirety...



I will say it again: Mr. Obama is not a dove. He never has been and he didn't campaign as one. Those doves on the left who find themselves disappointed in the President's new policy for Afghanistan were not listening during last year's presidential run. Obama isn't against all wars. Rather, he thought it foolish to fight dumb wars. Thus, his decision to slowly draw down in Iraq.

Afghanistan, however, was always thought of as a just war, and during 2008 he promised to refocus the war effort there. There will - and should - be debate over whether it remains a just war eight years after its start. But to act shocked and dismayed at his decision to add 30,000 troops to the Afghan effort is a bit perplexing.

09 December 2009

Ten Years On

Happy Anniversary, sweet man. The last ten years have been the highlight of my life. You are my soul mate, the love of my life, my best friend.

With all the love in the world,
Wayne



Playlist:
Banana Pancakes - Jack Johnson
You Were Meant For Me - Jewel
Your Smiling Face - James Taylor
Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever - Susan Tedeschi
You Make Loving Fun - Fleetwood Mac
Swept For You Baby - The Sylvers
Saint - Texas
Power of Two - Indigo Girls
My Funny Valentine - Elvis Costello
Buckets of Rain - Neko Case
How Deep Is Your Love - The Bird and the Bee
Elton's Song - Elton John
Nobody Does Me - Diane Schuur
I Try - Macy Gray
Candy - Paolo Nutini

03 December 2009

One More Try

Quote of the Day:
On reflection, Obama was saying something quite simple: one more try, guys...He has put Petraeus and McChrystal...on notice: prove your case.

As always with Obama, look a little deeper. He has made the very best of a very bad situation. And he is playing a long game for a win or a necessary withdrawal or both. I retain all my doubts; but I give him and Gates and McChrystal and Clinton and the troops all my support for the two years ahead. This much he and they deserve.

One more try, guys.
-Andrew Sullivan's take on President Obama's decision to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan.

Santorum of the Day

Thirty-eight assholes in the New York State Senate.

02 December 2009

Obama as Bush? Give me a break!

I love Rachel Maddow. I really do. Her intelligent and well-parsed commentary and debate are a joy to watch.

That said, I highly and respectfully disagree with last night's piece on President Obama's Afghanistan war policy...



Obama as Bush? Give me a break!

Look, I'm a lefty but I'm no dove, yet I am not a hawk either. Like President Obama, I am not against all wars, I am simply against dumb ones. Iraq was a war of choice, fought illegally on the wings of a lie, at the expense of the real war in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Had the previous president kept his eye on the ball we would be wrapping this up right now. But he detoured, and now his predecessor is forced to finish the fight and clean up the mess.

This move should shock and disappoint no one. (NO ONE.) My fellow compatriots on the left who are crying foul this morning obviously weren't paying attention during last year's presidential campaign. Mr. Obama made no secret of his desire to wind things down in Iraq so that we could tidy things up in Afghanistan. Am I thrilled? No. In a perfect world we'd pull out. But to have watched last year's presidential campaign and then turn around and act shocked and dismayed at this decision flies in the face of reality.

And to compare Mr. Obama's new Afghan policy to the irresponsible and incompetent policy of the Bush/Cheney team is over the top and an insult to those of us who voted for Mr. Obama with the knowledge (however much we disagreed with it) that he was going to increase troop numbers in Afghanistan. Mr. Bush shot from the hip, making snap decisions without fully fleshing out the pros and cons (thus, the mess Mr. Obama inherited last January). I for one am extremely content with the knowledge that President Obama and his team took the time to talk this through, time and time again, over the course of several months, to come up with what they felt was the right approach. Whether it will succeed only time will tell. But the grown-ups were at the table for this one. And I sleep better at night knowing that.

01 December 2009

Better Than I Thought

Ok, 30,000 troops with the goal of shoring things up and getting the hell out of Dodge by 2011. I'm less weary and hope this goes well.

We'll see.

30 November 2009

No Timetable, No Conditions

Marc Ambinder previews President Obama's speech on Afghan war policy:
Officials said last week that while [the President] would outline a clear exit strategy, he would not tie troop withdrawals to any specific political developments in Afghanistan, which might run into opposition from Democrats in Congress, who are demanding benchmarks. Nor is the President likely to impose direct conditions on Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai.
The speech is scheduled for tomorrow night. If this is truly the strategy he is to propose, then I am not on board. It sounds a bit to Bush-esque for comfort.

The Second Dip

If Friday's events in Dubai are any indication, the Great Recession is about to take a most worrisome second dip.

26 November 2009

Stuffing Mix

The 2009 Thanksgiving Day Mix. The perfect soundtrack for your holiday. Press play and enjoy...



Playlist:
Evil Ways - Rusted Root
She's a Lady - Tom Jones
Love Is Just a Game - The Magic Numbers
Give the Drummer Some - Nickodemus
Straight Back - Fleetwood Mac
Saint - Texas
Thinking of You - Sister Sledge
Maybe Tomorrow - Stereophonics
Ben's Letter - 54 Seconds
Speak - Nickel Creek
Cry Me a River - Julie London
Peg - Steely Dan
Couldn't Get It Right - Climax Blues Band
Cold Heart - Elliott Yamin
The Very Thought of You - Nat "King" Cole

25 November 2009

Rewriting History

George W. Bush's former press secretary has a rather limited memory, it seems...



Yes...because...you know...9/11 happened on President Gore's watch.

24 November 2009

Obama's Plan For Afghanistan

Reports this morning say the President will announce his plan on Tuesday, December 1.

23 November 2009

"Right Across the Street From Russia"

Dumbed-down on steroids...



Holy hell! Makes you want to stick an ice pick in your eye, doesn't it?

Spoiled Fucking Brat

This is exactly the kind of cry-baby bullshit that makes me extremely happy that this guy bowed out of the 2010 race for governor. As it is, it makes me want to take back my 2007 mayoral vote - one he BARELY earned.

Disgusting and Beyond Vile

From the Huffington Post:
A group called the Chicago Tea Party Patriots publicly heckled a grieving family and suggested that the couple fabricated their tragic story.

Midge Hough was heckled by anti-reform crowd members. "You can laugh at me, that's okay," she said, crying. "But I lost two people, and I know you think that's funny, that's okay."
These people are not patriots. They are hate mongers and hypocrites, and the #1 reason why would never EVER be able to cast a Republican vote in a federal election.

To the Brink

Quote of the Day:
We need citizens who will convey to their leaders that they are ready to sacrifice, even pay, yes, higher taxes, and will not punish politicians who ask them to do the hard things. Otherwise, folks, we’re in trouble. A great power that can only produce suboptimal responses to its biggest challenges will, in time, fade from being a great power...
-NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman, laying down the gauntlet.

Alas, it will take an economic downturn of unfathomable proportions for U.S. voters to demand that their representatives make such hard choices (and even then a small but significant percentage of the American public would resist). For we only make the important decisions when we have to - as a last resort - and not a single second before hand.

Ugh.

Earlier in the piece, Friedman makes a strong point (numbers 2, 3, and 4 of which are quite important):
..at least six things have come together to fracture our public space and paralyze our ability to forge optimal solutions:

1) Money in politics has become so pervasive that lawmakers have to spend most of their time raising it, selling their souls to those who have it or defending themselves from the smallest interest groups with deep pockets that can trump the national interest.

2) The gerrymandering of political districts means politicians of each party can now choose their own voters and never have to appeal to the center.

3) The cable TV culture encourages shouting and segregating people into their own political echo chambers.

4) A permanent presidential campaign leaves little time for governing.

5) The Internet, which, at its best, provides a check on elites and establishments and opens the way for new voices and, which, at its worst provides a home for every extreme view and spawns digital lynch mobs from across the political spectrum that attack anyone who departs from their specific orthodoxy.

6) A U.S. business community that has become so globalized that it only comes to Washington to lobby for its own narrow interests; it rarely speaks out anymore in defense of national issues like health care, education and open markets.

22 November 2009

60 to 39

The United States Senate voted 60 to 39 yesterday to stop a filibuster on their version of health care legislation. The vote simply allows debate to begin on the bill.

While this is a huge step in the right direction, this is far from over. The actual bill still needs to go through an actual vote. Then it has to be reconciled with the House bill (essentially merging both bills into one), and then that bill needs to be voted in both houses of congress. Filibusters are still a threat.

So, a step in the right direction. But we still have quite the road to travel.

20 November 2009

9th Circuit: Defense of Marriage Act Is Unconstitutional

From Bill Egnor at FDL:
Something somewhat big happened in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on the 18th. Judge Stephan Reinhardt issued a ruling, which finds a significant part of the Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional...
What DOMA did was to deny federal benefits or recognition of any same sex marriage. This is a real problem as many of the rights, which married folks enjoy, are Federal rights not State level. As a practical matter this affects Federal employees the most as they are ineligible to have their same sex spouses on their insurance plans, ineligible to have their spouses as beneficiaries of any pension, and the like.

Normally there is nowhere for a Federal Employee to sue to try to change this, but in California (where the 9th Circuit is located) they have a program for Federal Public Defenders which resolves disputes about benefits. In this program they expressly forbid discrimination against anyone for gender or sexual orientation in awarding of benefits.

Along comes Mr. Brad Levinson, a Deputy Public Defender. He is also gay and married his long time partner Tony Sears in California on March 16, 2008. He then tried to have his husband added to his Federal Employee benefits program. This was denied, with a citation of DOMA as the reason.

Judge Reinhardt has found and states conclusively that the denial of benefits based solely on the sex and sexual orientation of Mr. Levinson’s husband is unconstitutional because is violates the 5th Amendment Equal Protection clause. He spends 25 pages detailing how he has the power to order the benefits office of the 9th Circuit to either add Mr. Sears to his husbands insurance or order them to pay a for a similar plan.

Sarah Quits Again

This should surprise no one...



Jed Lewison nails it:
It's hard not to feel bad for these folks after they took time off work to meet their hero, but when your hero is a failed vice presidential candidate and former governor of Alaska who resigned halfway through her first term in office, you shouldn't really be surprised when she ditches you in the cold for something better.

End-of-the-Week Levity

You gotta love Wanda...

Santorum of the Day

Catholic Charities has threatened to stop feeding the hungry and housing the homeless in D.C. unless the city council there votes down same sex marriage.

Wolf, uuuhh, Blitzer reports...

19 November 2009

Don't Prea...Stop Trying To...Just... DON'T

I have had way too much religion forced down my throat today. First a former co-worker posted on Facebook that there isn't enough god in America today. I don't know what he's been smokin', but I think most would agree there's TOO much god, and that reams of hate are being spewed in his name.

And earlier today, a rather nice lady in the parking lot at the shopping center saw my "REPEAL PROP 8" bumpersticker, walked over to my car, and asked, "Have you found love and peace in the bosom of Jesus Christ?"

My response? (In my best non-British Ian McKellen) "As a matter of fact, I did. Back around 1996, I think. Although his last name wasn't Christ. Perez, I think it was. A rather sturdy boy."

I smiled a rather wicked grin, thanked her, got into my car, and drove the hell away.

Disgusting and Beyond Vile

From Andy Towle: On November 14, the body of a gay 19-year-old was found on an isolated road in the city of Cayey, Puerto Rico partially burned, decapitated, and with both arms, both legs, and his torso dismembered.

What makes this more unfathomable is the statement released by the police. According to Towle, the police agent that is handling this case said in a public televised statement that "people who lead this type of lifestyle need to be aware that this will happen."

What. The. Fuck!??!

Another Huge Step Forward on Health Care

MSNBC reports that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has all his ducks in a row and will hold a vote to kill a Republican filibuster this weekend, with a possible vote for final passage of the health care bill scheduled for the week after Thanksgiving.

I'll believe it when I see it.

Lawrence O'Donnell, sitting in for Keith Olbermann, has the goods...

Changing Minds

Rep. Tammy Baldwin (Democrat-WI) and the House Oversight and Government Reform committee have voted to move the Domestic Partners Benefits and Obligations Act to the House floor for a vote. If the bill become law (a very tall order), same-sex partners of federal employees would be able to share the workers' benefits, including those covering health insurance, retirement and disability.

Peeing. My. Pants.

The Incident at NBC

Heh!

I See Stupid People

Bush's Torture Lawyers to Be Disbarred?

That's where things could be heading.

Detroit's Devastation

In yet another sign of how far the Detroit area has fallen over the last several decades, the infamous Pontiac Silverdome, once home to the Detroit Lions, has just sold for $580,000.

The stadium was estimated to be worth $20 million last year.

18 November 2009

Day-yum!

Mid-Week Brain Break

This is a hoot!

"Poker Faces" by Lady Gaga vs. Cartman vs. Christopher Walken

'It Was Hard to Believe That I Was In America"

Many of you may have seen this "Countdown" segment from Monday night, but I post here for those who haven't. (Although if you have, it would do you well to watch it again.) I only just watched it for the first time last night.

Keith Olbermann reads a blog post, in its entirety, by "Countdown's" senior producer, Richard Stockwell, after Stockwell attended the first of several free health clinics beings sponsored by Olbermann and his newscast.

If you watch only one video clip regarding the health care debate, this is it.

Santorum of the Day

Now that the blog is back, it's time once again to start handing out the occasional "Santorum of the Day" award.

The definition of the word:
Santorum
Pronunciation: san-TOR-um
Function: noun
1. The frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex;
2. The former right-wing Republican United States Senator from Pennsylvania
With the fascist-wing of the modern conservative movement clearly on a bat-shit bender, a week doesn't go by where at least one or two of them make a really fascist remark. On occasion, I will highlight those remarks here as the "Santorum of the Day."

Today's goes to Faux News fuckwad, Bill O'Reilly. When Judge Andrew Napolitano argued that the 9/11 conspirators had the constitutional right to be tried in the place where the crime was committed, O'Reilly countered with, “I don’t care about the Constitution!”

Behold pure, unadulterated fascism at work:



Make no mistake, people. The fascists on the far right want to get rid of the United States Constitution. These guys aren't patriotic Americans. They hate their country and everything it stands for.

Questions of the Day

1. Why is it taking so damn long to count 10,000 absentee ballots in New York's 23rd congressional district?
Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman has "unconceded" in New York's special House election after reports that the vote margin narrowed between him and Rep. Bill Owens (D). Officials in the upstate New York district are still counting over 10,000 absentee ballots (and Owens' margin has dropped from 5,335 votes to 3,026).
In the overall scheme of things, 10,000 ballots should have been counted THAT NIGHT. I don't understand why it's taking so damn long.

(For the record, Hoffman's chances of overtaking Owens' lead are zero.)

2. Why are absentee ballots always counted after Election Day? Shouldn't they be counted with all of the other ballots?

Just sayin'.

16 November 2009

Rogue Wave

All the talk tonight is of the appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show by former half-term Alaska governor, and failed 2008 vice-presidential candidate, Sarah Palin. Two things: First, it was OPRAH! I don't know why ANYONE was expecting anything of substance. Second, why are we still paying attention to this dim bulb!?

I mean, look, if you were president of the local bank and a very nice 40-something mother showed up and applied for a job as the bank vice-president, yet didn't have a working knowledge of the basics of banking, would you really hire her just because you like her and think she holds personal values similar to yours? Of course you wouldn't.

That 40% of Americans would entertain voting for the dim bulb from Alaska is absolutely perplexing.

From my endorsement of Barack Obama last year:
The differences in judgment between these two candidates - Obama's solid, thoughtful steadiness versus McCain's wild flailing - couldn't be more evident than in their choices for vice-president.

In Joe Biden, the Democratic ticket has an elder statesman, much respected around the globe, who epitomizes the essential definition of vice-president: He is more than ready to step into the role of president if need be.

As many readers of this blog know, Biden was my original choice for the Democratic nomination. As such, I look forward to seeing what the Obama/Biden ticket can do if they are fortunate enough to serve as President and Vice-President of the United States. They are an all-star team in my book.

And then there is Sarah Palin. By all measures John McCain essentially disqualified himself for the presidency when he tapped Gov. Palin to be his running mate. She is nowhere near qualified for the job...not by a long shot. Her tremendous lack of understanding of the vice-presidency and, more importantly, of our Constitution, let alone the fact that she has little working knowledge of domestic and foreign affairs, is more than enough to reject the Republican ticket outright on Tuesday.

The irresponsibility of McCain, a 72-year-old cancer survivor, to add Palin to his party's ticket is unfathomable. His decision to do so - one that could very easily result in a "President Palin" - should shake every American to their very core.
Enough said.

15 November 2009

Happy 20th!

Released on this very day in 1989...

Dancer With Destiny, Tempter of Fate

This week's playlist begins with a 1995 track from an incarnation of Fleetwood Mac that did not include Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. The lead vocal on "Winds of Change" is beautifully done by Bekka Bramlett, with guitar work by Dave Mason.

Set also includes a track from Robbie Williams' brand new album, "Reality Killed the Video Star," and concludes with a gorgeous song by Duncan Sheik.

Press play and enjoy...



Playlist:
Winds of Change - Fleetwood Mac
Electric Feel - MGMT
Pop Goes the World - The Gossip
Squeeze Me - Kraak & Smaak
Under Your Spell - Phyllis Hyman
Sexy - Los Amigos Invisibles
Clean Living - RJD2
The Real End - Rickie Lee Jones
Cry of a Dreamer - The Sylvers
Nemesis - David Gray
All I Want Is You - Andy Caldwell
Morning Sun - Robbie Williams
Lady Madonna (from "Love") - The Beatles
Choo Choo Cha Cha - Rinky Dinks
Earthbound Starlight - Duncan Sheik
(Playlist photo: T. Boyer)

Healthcare Around the World

I missed the original airing of this "Frontline" when it aired in 2008, but watched it last night On Demand. It is well worth the hour, and will make you wonder why the Fascist-Republicans (and that includes you, Joe Lieberman) are trying to block healthcare reform.

Take the time to watch this, and you'll find yourself agreeing with me: With some alterations here and and a bit of strong-arm nudging there, the plans currently making their way through congress might just work.

Click here to watch. The episode begins with the healthcare system in Britain. Click on the links above the video to watch segments on Japan, Germany, Taiwan, and Switzerland.

10 November 2009

Long Days at the Office

A major "everything else waits" project fell into my lap last week and goes into overdrive today in anticipation of a deadline this Friday. Post will be light or non-existent until the weekend.

Chat with you all then.

04 November 2009

Mid-Week Brain Break

Time lapse stormy weather...

One Year Ago, Tonight

I will post an assessment of President Obama at the one-year point of his presidency in January, when he reaches the official 365 day mark from his inauguration. Today, I want to focus on the historic election that took place on this day, one year ago. No matter your feelings of Mr. Obama then or now, one can't deny the huge step forward America took that evening.

Let's flash back, shall we?

Although my first choice for the Democratic nomination was Joe Biden, he dropped out of the race before California's February primary, and I shifted my support to Barack Obama. My passionate support for the junior senator from Illinois went against many of my friends, as well as my partner, who were all supporting Hillary Clinton. I held firm, though. I believed strongly that Mr. Obama truly was the best choice for our great country. As Election Day neared, I laid out my reasoning in my official endorsement. You can read that essay by clicking here.

In the final weekend before the election, polling showed Obama leading his Republican opponent, John McCain, by an average of 7 percentage points. I thought things would tighten up and that some sort of "Bradley effect" would take place in a few key states. Thus, I predicted the final result would be much closer: 311 to 227 in the Electoral College. (For the record, the pundits were right, I was wrong. Obama won 365 to 173.)

On the morning of Election Day, Brent and I walked down to our polling place and stood in line for an hour to cast our ballots in that historic election. Later in the day, with hopes high and fingers crossed, our friends Gil and Duane joined us at our place to watch returns come in. Things started off well and never let up. By 7:35pm California time, the math looked really good - Barack Obama had 207 electoral votes, and polls were scheduled to close here, as well as in Washington, Oregon, and Hawaii at 8pm. I knew that if pre-election polling in those states held true, the networks would be able to call the presidency at the top of the hour.

I poured the champagne, made sure everyone was in front of the TV, and sure enough, at 8pm straight up...



This reaction from the crowd in Chicago's Grant Park still puts a lump in my throat...



My post-election analysis can be found here.

Like I said, I will post my personal critique of Mr. Obama's first year as president in January. Suffice it to say, I'm pleased and displeased depending on the issue. But I wouldn't take back that vote for anything. I'm proud of what my country did a year ago. And I think, deep down, my fellow Americans are just as proud.

LGBT Issues: A Mixed Bag

A mixed bag of results from the scattered off-year elections last night. First, the heartbreak in Maine:
"Do you want to reject the new law that lets same-sex couples marry...?"

Yes
266,324
52.7%

No
238,595
47.3%
The result was about 50/50 for the first couple of hours following poll closure, with each side swapping a small lead. But then around 8:30pm California time, the "yes" side took a solid lead and never let it go. The current margin is much bigger than I anticipated, and marks yet another lost battle in the overall war to win marriage equality.

The LGBT and senior communities can rejoice at the results in Washington State:
"Approve or reject a bill that expands the rights, responsibilities, and obligations accorded state-registered same-sex and senior domestic partners to be equivalent to those of married spouses, except that a domestic partnership is not a marriage.”

Approve
509,673
51.1%

Reject
487,808
48.9%
Two things on Washington: 1. The vote wasn't regarding marriage, but rather for or against civil unions that, similar to California, give gay couples the same rights as marriage, just without calling it "marriage." 2. The "Approve 71" side is not declaring victory, as the current small margin will likely result in a recount request. I don't see a recount changing the result, but I understand why they want to hold back.

In Kalamazoo, Michigan, voters overwhelmingly cast ballots against discrimination:
"Shall an ordinance be adopted to generally prohibit discriminatory practices on the basis of an individual’s race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, height, weight, marital status, physical or mental disability, family status, sexual orientation or gender identity in the provision of housing, public accommodations, and employment, take effect?"

Yes
7,671
61.9%

No
4,731
38.1%
In Chapel Hill, North Carolina, openly gay two-term city councilman Mark Kleinschmidt won the mayoral race:
Mark Kleinschmidt
4,006
49.5%

Matt Czajkowski
3,766
46.5%

Others
322
4.0%
In other races:
Openly gay former news anchor Charles Pugh received the highest vote total in the races for Detroit City Council, and will thus serve as that body's leader.

James Llanas in Maplewood, Minnesota fought off some hideous anti-gay attacks to win a seat on that city's council.

Annise Parker, the openly gay comptroller in Houston, received the most votes in the race for mayor, but because no candidate reached 50% +1, the contest is headed for a run-off between Parker and Gene Locke.
Overall, the night was essentially one step forward, a step and a half back.

NY-23

In last night's off-year elections, the biggest surprise came out of the special election in New York's 23rd congressional district. Those upstate voters were asked to choose a replacement for Republican John McHugh, who was named Secretary of the Army by President Obama earlier this year. Because the state Republican Party nominated a moderate to run in the contest to fill out the last year of McHugh's term, the national fascists had a temper-tantrum, sending the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin to stick their noses in the political affairs of a solid Republican, yet very moderate district.

The fascists endorsed a conservative third party candidate, resulting in a split among Republican base voters, which in turn caused the official Republican candidate to bow out of the the race this past weekend.

The Limbaugh-Palin wing of the GOP were absolutely giddy, and the Republicans who had endorsed their party's nominee were falling all over themselves to endorse the Conservative Party candidate. That candidate, Doug Hoffman, was on his way to victory and a seat in the United States House of Representatives.

But the voters had a different idea:
Bill Owens
Democratic
63,496
49.3%

Doug Hoffman
Conservative
58,161
45.2%

Dede Scozzafava*
Republican
7,137
5.5%

(*The Republican candidate's name remained on the ballot.)
The moderate Republican district essentially told Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh to fuck right off, thank you very much. And, for the first time since the Civil War, this area of upstate New York will be represented by a Democrat in congress.

Well...at least until next year's mid-term elections.

Republican Pick-Ups

Republican candidates for governor went two for two last night: In New Jersey, the much-hated Republican candidate defeated the much-hated Democratic incumbent by a small but comfortable margin:
Christopher J. Christie
Republican
1,140,134
48.8%

Jon S. Corzine
Democratc
1,040,404
44.6

Christopher J. Daggett
Independent
132,919
5.7%
In Virginia, it was a landslide:
Robert McDonnell
Republican
1,159,003
58.7%

R. Creigh Deeds
Democratic
815,343
41.3%
Many on the right will argue that these results are a rejection of President Obama's first ten months in office. While that may have been the case for some voters, the reality overall is that these contests were decided based on local issues. 60% of voters in NJ said Obama was not a factor in their balloting choices. In Virginia, that number was 56%.

My take on the Republican victories here.

03 November 2009

Tonight's Results Already Clear

All signs seem to point a Republican landslide tonight in Virginia's race for governor, and to a possible victory for the GOP in New Jersey. In New York, a right wing candidate of the states's Conservative Party looks to be the beneficiary of the moderate Republican's withdrawal from the race for an upstate congressional seat.

I would argue against the temptation to call such victories a repudiation of President Obama's performance in office. Take a look at Virginia's gubernatorial election in 2001. That contest took place in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when President Bush's approval ratings were in the stratosphere. Yet, the Democratic nominee won a comfortable victory. No one, not even an anti-Bush progressive like me, would argue that the result was a repudiation of Mr. Bush's presidency at that time.

If we take anything away from tonight's elections - even if the Democrats lose NJ, VA, and NY-23; even if marriage loses in Maine - it is that the civil war within the Republican Party has now fractured it beyond recognition. And tonight's victories will be one of only a few inconsequential ones for the GOP over the next generation.

The right-wing-dominated Republicans in 2009 resemble the left wing Democrats of 1981 - overwhelmingly rejected by voters the previous year and banished to the political wilderness. Sure, the Dems picked up congressional seats in the 1982 mid-terms, handing the Reagan White House a small set back at the peak of a pretty nasty recession, but the party remained in tatters, with the left wing dominating and Walter Mondale losing 49 states two years later.

So, as for tonight, the actual vote totals won't matter. The real result of the 2009 off-year elections is already clear: The Republican Party's downward spiral into civil war has come its next logical step - a complete and utter implosion.

Today, In Maine

Fingers crossed.

Today, In Washington State

The ballot initiative there is to preserve civil union protections.

Dysfunctional California

Ronald M. George, the chief justice of the California Supreme Court, makes the same argument I've been making for years on this blog - that ballot initiatives put in front of voters have put the state legislature in a straitjacket. Some key points:
One might reasonably ask: Is the voter initiative, in its current form, an impediment to the effective functioning of a true democratic process? The nation's founding fathers, wary of the potential excesses of direct democracy, established a republic with a carefully crafted system of representative democracy.
Meaning, our elected representatives are to make decisions for us. If we feel those representatives are bucking our interests, we have the right to replace them at the next election. More from Chief Justice George:
California's Constitution permits a relatively small number of petition signers - equal to at least 8 percent of the voters in the latest gubernatorial election - to place before the voters a proposal to amend any aspect of our Constitution.

The Legislature (by a two-thirds vote of each house) shares the power to place proposed amendments before the electorate. California, however, is unique among American jurisdictions in prohibiting its Legislature, without express voter approval, from amending or repealing even a statutory measure enacted by the voters unless the initiative itself specifically confers this power.
So, unlike the federal government, where a 2/3 vote of both houses of congress and 3/5 of the fifty state legislatures are needed to amend the Constitution, the California legislature can only vote to put a proposed constitutional amendment before the voters. The office holders themselves are unable, by law, to amend the state constitution directly. More:
Thus it is considerably easier to amend the California Constitution than the U.S. Constitution...

As a result, while only 17 amendments to the U.S. Constitution (in addition to the Bill of Rights, ratified in 1791) have been adopted since that document was ratified in 1788, more than 500 amendments to the California Constitution have been adopted since the document's ratification in 1879.
FIVE HUNDRED AMENDMENTS!! One can easily see how this makes it impossible to govern:
Perhaps most consequential in their impact on the ability of state and local government to function are constitutional and statutory mandates and prohibitions - often at cross-purposes - limiting how elected officials may raise and spend revenue. Lawmakers, and the state itself, have been placed in a fiscal straitjacket by a steep two-thirds-vote requirement - imposed at the ballot box - for raising taxes.

A similar supermajoritarian requirement governs passage of the state budget. This situation is compounded by initiatives imposing constitutional requirements of specified levels of financial support for public transportation and schools. These constraints - when combined with a lack of political will (on the part of some officials) to curb spending and (on the part of others) to raise taxes - often make a third alternative, borrowing, the most attractive option (at least until the bankers say "no").
Alas, being able to change the California constitution with such ease, some rather bogus amendments have been passed:
Initiatives have enshrined myriad provisions into California's constitutional charter, including a prohibition on the use of gill nets and a measure regulating the confinement of barnyard fowl in coops. This last constitutional amendment was enacted on the same 2008 ballot that amended the Constitution to override the California Supreme Court's decision recognizing the right of same-sex couples to marry. Chickens gained valuable rights in California on the same day that gay men and lesbians lost them.
George concludes:
Californians need to consider some fundamental reforms. Otherwise, I am concerned that we shall continue on a course of dysfunctional state government, characterized by a lack of accountability on the part of our officeholders as well as the voting public.
When it comes right down to it, I don't trust the voters to make the important decisions. The onslaught of misinformation from both sides of any issue skew the facts and render an informed decision impossible. More over, the ease at which we are able to amend our state constitution goes against everything America's founding fathers stood for. They understood fully that putting the decision making directly in the laps of the people would lead to the impossible situation California finds herself in today.

The Golden State finds herself falling deeper and deeper into the abyss. We need a total overhaul of the state constitution - a full-fledged convention to re-write the document from scratch. Alas, I know my fellow Californians...and it will probably take a crisis of unfathomable proportions to change how we govern ourselves.

01 November 2009

A Sunday In Autumn

The perfect Sunday morning: A hot cuppa joe, the Sunday paper, and some really good music. Enjoy this week's playlist, put together by yours truly...



Playlist:
Whatever You Want - Club 8
Enjoy the Ride - Morcheeba, with Judy Tzuke
Candy - Paolo Nutini
Reserver - Redlounge Orchestra
Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler) - Marvin Gaye
The World Is a Beat - N'Dambi
Menina Moca (Young Lady) - Stan Getz
Manhattan - Ella Fitzgerald
Mrs. Cold - Kings of Convenience
Fin de Septembre - Aimee Ailen
What Are You Like - Indigo Girls
Save Me, San Francisco - Train
Silver Lining - Bonnie Raitt
Clouds - Amy Duncan
Revolutionary Road - Thomas Newman

31 October 2009