30 June 2009

After 238 Days...Sen. Al Franken (Democrat-MN)


Franken beat Coleman by 312 votes. The final official result:
Al Franken

Norm Coleman

Dean Barkley


The LGBT Event at the White House

A few key excerpts from the president's speech to LGBT leaders yesterday.

On the administration's slow pace in tackling LGBT issues:
...I know that many in this room don't believe that progress has come fast enough, and I understand that. It's not for me to tell you to be patient...

But I say this: We have made progress and we will make more. And I want you to know that I expect and hope to be judged not by words, not by promises I've made, but by the promises that my administration keeps...We've been in office six months now. I suspect that by the time this administration is over, I think you guys will have pretty good feelings about the Obama administration.
Indirectly addressing the Justice Department's defense of DOMA in a legal brief last month:
Now, I want to add we have a duty to uphold existing law, but I believe we must do so in a way that does not exacerbate old divides. And fulfilling this duty in upholding the law in no way lessens my commitment to reversing this law. I've made that clear.
I wouldn't put it past the Fascist wing of the Republican Party to clamor for impeachment if Mr. Obama were to make any moves on the LGBT front that even resembled breaking current law, however the brief filed by the administration regarding DOMA sounded more like a Bush administration argument than one coming from Obama. But, I digress.

On "Don't Ask, Don't Tell":
I know that every day that passes without a resolution is a deep disappointment to those men and women who continue to be discharged under this policy -- patriots who often possess critical language skills and years of training and who've served this country well. But what I hope is that these cases underscore the urgency of reversing this policy not just because it's the right thing to do, but because it is essential for our national security.
On the HIV travel ban:
...my administration is committed to rescinding the discriminatory ban on entry to the United States based on HIV status. (Applause.) The Office of Management and Budget just concluded a review of a proposal to repeal this entry ban, which is a first and very big step towards ending this policy.
On changing minds:
There are unjust laws to overturn and unfair practices to stop. And though we've made progress, there are still fellow citizens, perhaps neighbors or even family members and loved ones, who still hold fast to worn arguments and old attitudes; who fail to see your families like their families; and who would deny you the rights that most Americans take for granted. And I know this is painful and I know it can be heartbreaking.

...And yet all of you continue, leading by the force of the arguments you make but also by the power of the example that you set in your own lives -- as parents and friends, as PTA members and leaders in the community. And that's important, and I'm glad that so many LGBT families could join us today. (Applause.) For we know that progress depends not only on changing laws but also changing hearts.
The entire speech below...

(PS: I absolutely abhor MSNBC's new graphics package.)

Jackson's Will

Contradicting reports on CNN last night, the Wall Street Journal is reporting this morning that Michael Jackson drafted a will in 2002 which divides the late superstar's estate among his mother, three children, and various charities.

But, of course, the estate is a huge mess. This will take years to sort out.

29 June 2009

I leave town for a few days...

Just back from our long weekend and I am catching up on all the crazy news of the last few days. I was able to receive texts on my iPhone but couldn't respond to them or log on to the internet. (AT&T: More lost calls in more places!)

I am tired and cranky and am about to veg on the sofa, but a few quick thoughts on the major items of the weekend:

Michael Jackson: His death came out of nowhere, but I am not all that surprised...that his heart gave out, that he didn't have his affairs in order, and that his father is using the tragedy to make a few bucks.

Farrah Fawcett: The poor woman is no longer in pain.

Billy Mays: Well, your TV will be a lot more quiet, no?

Obama and the gays: He talks a good talk, and I will certainly hold him to his promises. If we get to early 2012 and nothing has been done regarding DADT and DOMA, I will have to take a serious look at other candidates.

25 June 2009

On Vacation

Brent, Chloe and I are hopping in the Explorer this morning, grabbing Gil and Duane, and heading up to Humboldt County for an extended weekend of camping in the beautiful redwood forests of northern California.

Unless something comes up, you won't hear from me while we are away. I plan to return to the blogosphere at some point late Monday or early Tuesday.

Everyone enjoy your weekend. And Happy Pride! Be safe.

From Five to Ten

Starting next year that will be the number of Academy Award nominees in the Best Picture category for the first time since 1943.

Michael Cieply:
In a question-and-answer session that followed the announcement, [Academy president Sidney Ganis] said: "I would not be telling you the truth if I said the words ‘Dark Knight’ did not come up.” Earlier this year, “The Dark Knight,” a critically acclaimed blockbuster fantasy, was excluded from a list of nominees that included “Frost/Nixon,” “Milk,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The Reader” and the winner, “Slumdog Millionaire.”

None of those films were as widely seen as “The Dark Knight” or “Wall-E,” another favorite that was snubbed, adding heat to a debate about whether the Oscar voters had drifted too far from the audience.
One part of me wants to get up on my soap box and rail against this, that the Academy is supposed to celebrate the art and science of movie making, not the box office (let the MTV Movie Awards do that). Then another part of me balances it all out, remembering that "Slumdog Millionaire" won Best Picture last year over four contenders more worthy of the prize.

So, we wait for January to see what the first list of ten nominations brings.

24 June 2009

Your Daily Santorum

Everyone's favorite man-lady, Ann Coulter.

The Argentinian Affair

Gov. Sanford was fucking around on his wife.

And so another Republican hypocrite admits to having an affair. Let me see if I can muster up the energy to be shocked.

Update: As usual, when a REPUBLICAN politician admits wrong doing Fox "News" magically turns them into Democrats...

Mid-Week Brain Break

Meet Dua, a small-clawed otter at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, who plays the piano in an effort by his handlers to get him to eat more...

(Shout out: Maya)

Changing Minds

Meet Lt. Colonel Victor Fehrenbach, a stellar member of the U.S. military by any measure, who is being discharged because he is gay.

Really? With two wars being fought in the Middle East and a Cold War-like struggle going on with Iran and North Korea, the U.S. can afford to lose people like Lt. Col. Fehrenbach?


The Sanford Saga

I mean, really...this is just nuckin' futz:
South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) will return to work today, the Columbia State reports, "cutting short a mysterious hiking trip along the Appalachian Trail" if that's where he's really been.

WYFF-TV reports Sanford's state vehicle "was tracked down, not to the Appalachian Trail, but to the Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta." A federal agent spotted Sanford in the airport boarding a plane to Minneapolis.

However, CNN has pictures of a car believed to be Sanford's but at a different airport in South Carolina. There is a sleeping bag in the back seat.

Meanwhile, Sanford's wife said yesterday she still hadn't heard from her husband and wasn't concerned, but said "he had left to have time to write." The governor's staff still insists he's on a hiking trip.

Politico says Sanford's "disappearing act is reviving an often-whispered, if rarely written, question about presidential hopefuls: Just how strange is too strange?"

Update: Returning home, Sanford tells The State newspaper that he was in Argentina, not on the Appalachian Trail as his staff had said in official statements. He said he had considered hiking the trail but wanted to do "something exotic."

"Sanford said he was alone on the trip. He declined to give any additional details about what he did other than to say he drove along the coastline."
Did you follow that? Argentina by way of Minneapolis via the Atlanta Airport from the Appalachian Trail with a quick stop at a South Carolina airport.

James Patterson couldn't make this shit up.

American Health Care In a Nutshell


Nixon Would Have Aborted Obama

Just when you thought ol' Nixon couldn't surprise you any further:
There are times when an abortion is necessary. I know that. When you have a black and a white.
(Shout out: Andrew)

23 June 2009

Your Daily Santorum

We have two today.

Fox "News" White House correspondent, Major Garrett:

And, Chuck Todd of NBC News:

Honorable mention to CBS News' Chip Reid.

Notice how the president was able to slap each of them down without breaking a sweat.

(For those not in-the-know, a primer on Your Daily Santorum here.)

Like Petulant Children

Quote of the Day:
When I voted for Obama, I did so knowing he would not wave a magic wand and fix everything overnight. I voted for him thinking he was the best choice of the candidates available to choose from. I still support that decision. Was he perfect for gays? No. We knew that ahead of time. Will he deliver on everything he promised? Probably not. What President ever has? The last President who rushed into trying to overcome centuries of prejudice left us with [Don't Ask, Don't Tell]. Oh what a great compromise that turned out to be.

While I am disappointed by Obama’s lackluster support, I am also trying to see the bigger picture here. Our country is facing some of the largest crises in our history. Our financial markets are practically in ruins from rampant deregulation. Our country is virtually broke and we are “robbing Peter to pay Paul." Our healthcare system is on the verge of collapsing under its on mismanaged weight. More and more companies are going under daily and adding to the already record numbers of unemployed. Not to mention, we are facing two wars overseas, a pending disaster with North Korea, and now Iran’s turmoil threatens to embroil us even further.
-Moby, a San Francisco blogger posting a rare political piece.

He's right, you know. With everything this president inherited (the worst mess since Franklin Roosevelt), it is foolish for us to get so upset over the fact that he has decided to put some of our issues on the back burner while he tries to tackle the issues that, dare I say it, matter more.

For those who argue that he should be able to multi-task, I would suggest you take another look at the news...he is multi-tasking to the extreme at the moment. The financial meltdown, North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan...if all of these issues go the wrong way we'd be facing the proverbial perfect storm. If our economy collapses and we lose "Cold War II," then it won't matter what President Obama or congress do on LGBT issues. America will be done.

In the mean time, Moby suggests we stop crying like babies and do something:
Oh yes, we were quick to point fingers and blame. And I ask you, what has that gotten us? Nothing, zero, zip, nadda, zilch. Personally, I see it as a cop-out. We blame others in an effort to absolve ourselves of any personal responsibility. In the process, we give up our power and relegate ourselves to the “helpless victim” mentality. How many of you reading this right now has contacted a single government representative at any level? Even simpler, have you done anything at all, besides complain?

I have a radical idea. How about we get off our collective asses and get involved. Whether it be thru voting, marching, volunteering, educating, donating, whatever. Everyone of us can contribute, one way or another. Contact your local, State, and Federal representatives and let them know you expect results. In an age of electronic communication, its as simple as type and click. We can forward stupid memes, pics, porn, and funny emails till we are blue in the face, but we can’t contact our elected leaders? How sad is that?

...The point here is pinning all our hopes on one man and then getting angry when he doesn’t deliver is foolish and naive. Yes, he could be doing better. Yes, we should hold him accountable for his promises. And yes, we should continue to demand more. But, the same is true of ourselves.
Don't get me wrong. The administration's defense of DOMA was way over the top and we should all be angry at the language used in that legal brief. That said, I expect President Obama to tackle at least DOMA and DADT before the end of his first term. In the mean time, the poor guy has much bigger fish to fry.

Tobacco Regulated By FDA

In perhaps one of the best domestic moves of his presidency thus far, President Obama yesterday signed legislation bringing tobacco products under the purview of the F.D.A.

I've never been a smoker and believe wholeheartedly that nicotine is a killer drug that should be banned outright. I understand it never will be, but regulating it via the F.D.A. is a tremendous step in the right direction.

Marijuana, on the other hand...it is not a killer drug and its medicinal use is well documented. The government should make it legal, regulate it via the F.D.A., and tax the hell out of it.

My hunch is we'd soon see a decrease in the drug dealer wars and a tremendous reduction of the federal deficit.

Ed McMahon, 1923 - 2009

Ed McMahon, the longtime sidekick to "Tonight Show" host Johnny Carson, died early this morning in Los Angeles. He was 86.

WTF Is Going On In SC?

Gov. Mark Sanford (Republican-SC) seems to be missing. No one has seen him since Thursday and explanations of his whereabouts by his office and family are all over the place.

Josh Marshall puts it all together for us here.

Of course, I sincerely hope the governor is safe and that he will turn up soon.

But this is just way too weird.

22 June 2009

Be Bold

Quote of the Day:
Approval ratings for Republicans hit an all-time low last week in both the New York Times/CBS News and Wall Street Journal/NBC News polls. That’s what happens when a party’s most creative innovations are novel twists on old-fashioned sex scandals. Just when you thought the G.O.P. could never match the high bar set by Larry Craig’s men’s room toe-tapping, along came Senator John Ensign of Nevada, an ostentatiously pious born-again Christian whose ecumenical outreach drove him to engineer political jobs for his mistress, her cuckolded husband and the couple’s son. At least it can no longer be said that the Republicans have no plan for putting Americans back to work.
-Frank Rich, beginning his column in yesterday's NY Times.

Now, if President Obama would only take the same approach to the opposition. Because if the roles were reversed (see "2002, election of") you know damn well the GOP would be kicking the Democrats while they were down.

I was all for the president's talk of bipartisanship, but the Republicans continue to refuse him at every turn. So fuck 'em. Our ship of state is perilously close to sinking, and it seems the Democrats are the only ones who wish to save her. But they need to be bold. Half measures aren't going to work.

Changing Minds

From Fayette County, Georgia:
Eric Mongerson's kids couldn't meet his partner of two years, much less join the couple for ice cream. His friends couldn't cheer on the children at concerts or Little League games.

The divorced dad spent thousands of dollars fighting an unusual ban imposed by a county judge in 2007 that kept the three minors from having any contact with his gay friends or partners.

He felt unfairly scrutinized every moment he spent with the kids, though he never was looking to make a statement. He just wanted to spend a day with his kids and his partner, Jose Sanchez - together.

This Father's Day, he finally will.

The ban stemmed from the bitter divorce between Mongerson and his ex-wife, Sandy, who were married for almost 20 years and had four children. Mongerson said the marriage ended when his wife discovered he was gay in November 2005.

Fayette County Superior Court Judge Christopher Edwards [awarded] Sandy custody of the children. The judge also issued a blanket order banning Eric Mongerson from "exposing the children to his homosexual partners and friends."

On Monday, the Georgia Supreme Court unanimously agreed. Justice Robert Benham wrote in the scathing 10-page ruling that the trial court abused its discretion without evidence of harm to the children. He concluded it "flies in the face of our public policy that encourages divorced parents to participate in the raising of their children."

If DiFi Runs For Governor...

...she won't have my support.

"Az enqelab mirisim be azadi!"

Steve Clemons publishes excerpts from dispatches he has been receiving from an anonymous student in Tehran. Read them by clicking here. It's definitely worth your time.

20 June 2009

Saturday Morning Movie

I'm off to catch Fun In Boys' Shorts with Gil and Duane at the Castro Theatre this morning and don't have time to put together this week's playlist. In the mean time, grab some munchies and a soda, sit back, and enjoy the 1984 documentary The Times of Harvey Milk...

They'll Call Your Cell Phone a Gun and Arrest You

The situation in Iran is exploding...quite literally.

Steve Clemons posts a letter from someone in the middle of it all, outlining four possible outcomes. In the final analysis, he thinks these are two most likely:

The Guardian Council's partial vote recount and investigation into electoral fraud are rejected by the opposition. Demonstrations spread and intensify, with ever greater numbers of Iranians taking to the streets calling for the resignation of Khamenei and Ahmadinejad. Security forces respond with increasing force, arresting thousands and closing down media coverage, texting networks, websites and Twitter. Purge of reformist leaders, intellectuals, students and journalists continues. Leaderless demos gradually peter out, leaving resentment. Ahmadinejad steps up anti-western rhetoric. Resumed protests at a later date considered highly likely.

A second revolution:

An insider cabal of senior clerical and establishment conservatives challenges Khamenei and forces his resignation after a vote in the Assembly of Experts. Former president Hashemi Rafsanjani is elected in his stead and orders an investigation into the actions of Ahmadinejad and other senior members of the regime. Hardliners rally round the president while reformists demand new elections. Amid growing instability, Iran's unique Islamic/secular system of governance appears in danger of collapse.

Keying Hate

Singer Sean Chapin's talks about how someone keyed the word "FAG" on his car door Indio, California, outside Palm Springs...

19 June 2009

Your Daily Santorum

Former White House cocksucker Deputy Chief of Staff, Karl Rove.


A hearty congrats to our buddy Jimmy G, who was named the Starbucks Customer of the Week at the Bryant and Mariposa store here in SF...

End-of-the-Week Levity

This trailer for an X-rated parody of "Scrubs" is freekin' hilarious. It actually works, despite the requisite bad acting.

Since it is posted on YouTube, the clip is pretty clean - some adult conversation (it IS a porn trailer) but no coarse language, and nudity is non-existent.

And PS: James Deen and Kris Slater...woof!

Obama Remains Popular

Two new polls show strong job approval ratings for President Obama:
Pew Research:
Approve 61%
Disapprove 30%
No opinion 9%

NY Times/CBS News:
Approve 63%
Disapprove 26%
No opinion 11%
These are excellent numbers, however if you dig deeper you will find that Americans are starting to move blame for the economy from the Bush administration to Mr. Obama. My hunch is the president's approval rating will be down near 50% by Labor Day. American's have short attention spans and tend to want quick fixes to everything. Getting the worst economy since the Great Depression back on track is going to take some time (I predict two years or so). And President Obama is going to have to ride out the inevitable resulting low poll numbers.

Update: For reference, five months into his first term Bill Clinton's approval rating was 37%.

Changing Minds

Two significant pieces of news this morning.

First, President Obama has directed the United States Census Bureau to look into what changes will need to be made to tabulation software that would allow for the count of same-sex marriages, unions, and partnerships in the 2010 census. Shortly before taking office, the administration was told that it was too late to change the census questionnaires and tabulation software to include a count of America's LGBT community.

Rep. Mike Quigley (Democrat-IL), Rahm Emmanuel's replacement in the House of Representatives, sent a letter to the president earlier this week urging him to order the bureau to include same-sex marriage data to the 2010 count.

The second major story of the morning: The Justice Department has agreed to let same-sex couples use their spouse’s surname when they apply for passports from the U.S. State Department.

Ok...now...can we talk about that antiquated HIV travel ban, Mr. President?

18 June 2009

Having the Grown-Ups In Charge

Andrew Sullivan, on the complete lack of foreign policy leadership among the Republican Party's decimated ranks:
We've known for some time that the United States cannot afford the current Republican leadership to be in charge of foreign policy. They have neither the understanding, judgement or temperament to do so. They veer from hoping Ahmadinejad to win all the way to wanting to stand up and get the president cheering for one faction in an extremely tense and difficult situation. Just thank your stars we do not have McCain or Palin grandstanding this in the White House right now.
Good Lord! Can you imagine a "VP Palin" (Ugh...I still cramp up at the thought) even trying to dissect what is going on in Iran right now?!? ("Awww...Aren't they cute? God bless 'em and their little green fingers awl-so.")

Obama really is playing Reagan to the GOP's Carter.

Your Daily Santorum

The Supreme Court of the United States.

The Obama Memo

I am still trying to sort out my thoughts on President Obama's memo granting limited benefits to Federal employees and their same sex partners. On the one hand it is far from enough, in part because it feels like he is throwing us table scraps following our outrage at last week's DOMA fiasco (in which the Justice Department defended the Defense of Marriage Act in a vile and despicable legal brief). On the other hand, the president did reiterate his pledge to overturn DOMA.

Moreover, I can't help but take him at his word when he says that yesterday's memo was the most he could do within the confines of current law (DOMA prevents him from doing anything of substance). It would be hypocritical of me to get too angry at a president who actually follows the rule of law, who understands that if laws need be changed they should be changed via Congress. I argued for eight long years that George W. Bush wasn't above the law, that his executive orders, "signing statements," and abuses of power were unconstitutional and grounds for impeachment. My views on those matters haven't changed because a Democrat is now president.

Yes, even if that president refuses to abuse his power to benefit the LGBT community.

That said, I wish congress would act on DOMA (and Don't Ask, Don't Tell). If history is any indication, the Democrats will lose a few congressional seats in the 2010 elections. They should act on these two important issues while they still have decent numbers in the Senate.

The president has promised to back and sign such legislation. We will all hold him to his word.

UPDATE: Matt Steingalass, thinking out loud on why the President might be dragging his feet...
I just wanted to point out that this has always been Obama’s MO. He’s always a step or two behind where his supporters want him to be, getting pulled along by their enthusiasm, rather than out ahead of them where he might get cut off. It’s a community organizer’s MO. You never get out ahead of your constituency. Instead you shape the playing field so that your constituency’s desires flow towards where you think they should go, and allow them to carry you along behind them.
UPDATE #2: Video of Mr. Obama signing the memo...

It Ain't Over

Quote of the Day:
A few months ago the U.S. economy was in danger of falling into depression. Aggressive monetary policy and deficit spending have, for the time being, averted that danger. And suddenly critics are demanding that we call the whole thing off, and revert to business as usual.
-Paul Krugman (why isn't he on Obama's economic team?) on why the economic stimulus package should be given more time to halt the current downturn.

The President's regulatory proposals, announced yesterday, don't even come close to fixing the problems that brought us to the abyss. As Joe Nocera said yesterday:
...the Obama plan is little more than an attempt to stick some new regulatory fingers into a very leaky financial dam rather than rebuild the dam itself.
Mr. President, I've given you the benefit of the doubt for five months now. I am still on board, but my patience is beginning to wear thin. I have friends who have already given up on you. My arguments that "he's got this" and "give him time, he's playing chess while the rest of us are playing checkers" just don't hold water with them any more.

You won last year's election by nine-and-a-half million ballots, with 53% of the vote, and your coat tails brought in extremely strong majorities in both houses of Congress. The Republican Party is rudderless and decimated. Please...quit governing in half measures and broken promises in order to placate the opposition. In the last two elections the American people demanded strong, bold, progressive action, yet your policy proposals are way too careful, extremely centrist, and pro-Wall Street.

Your approval numbers among non-affiliated independent voters seem to be dropping, sir. That would indicate to me that your desire to make policy proposals attractive at a bipartisan level isn't sitting well with them. The economy you inherited is the worst since the Great Depression. Don't you think such a dire situation demands bold, FDR-like action?

Without it, I fear any recovery will sputter and stall.

17 June 2009


Bill Maher makes an excellent point: President Obama and his Democratic Party have such comfortable majorities in both houses of Congress, he needs to stop offering half solutions in order to appease one or two Republicans here or there. The GOP have proven beyond a doubt that they have no intention of compromising with this president one iota on anything.

So...I say "fuck 'em." Let them sit there and whine and bitch and moan while the Democrats take care of the nation's business. If the Republicans insist on filibustering every bill the Senate considers, then the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, needs to force a REAL filibuster: the member calling for it must stand on the Senate floor and speak non-stop until 60 votes are cobbled together to end it. As it is currently laid out, just the threat of a filibuster requires 60 votes. That is a super-majority, and that is undemocratic.

As far as the House of Representatives goes, filibusters aren't allowed over there. The Republicans have no power to block anything. I believe (sincerely) if the Democrats in the House move on a solidly progressive agenda, it has the potential to reap rewards in the 2010 mid-terms. That is what America voted for in 2006 and 2008. Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer need to stop being scared of the Republican boogey man. He's been beaten into a long, deep coma. He can't hurt them anymore.

While our side has such a strong advantage, it is time, as Bill Maher insists, to do something.

The Ensign Affair

1. A member of the Republican political party of the United States
2. See "hypocrite"

Your Daily Santorum

Shawna Forde, the chocolate milk stealing, white-supremacist prostitute (and quadruple divorcee), who has been charged with the murder of a nine-year-old girl and her father near the U.S.-Mexican border.

No...really...take a few minutes and read this nutjob's story. This train wreck will be the entertainment highlight of your day.

16 June 2009

The President's Statement on Iran

As always, pitch perfect...

Promises Unkept

News 1 has compiled all of the promises Barack Obama made to the LGBT community during last year's campaign. See if you can keep track of how many he's kept to date...

I stand by my statement that the President has bigger fish to fry right now...Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea, the recession-depression, and Iran. To bitch and moan that LGBT issues aren't at the top of his agenda isn't realistic.

That said, for his Justice Department to file venomous, anti-gay briefs in a court case challenging DOMA is way too Clinton-esque. It feels as if we've been thrown under the bus yet again.

The New York Times editorializes today:
If the administration does feel compelled to defend the act, it should do so in a less hurtful way. It could have crafted its legal arguments in general terms, as a simple description of where it believes the law now stands. There was no need to resort to specious arguments and inflammatory language to impugn same-sex marriage as an institution.
I have been a bit more patient than most, but this strong and stinging endorsement of DOMA really raised my hackles.

Mr. President, you're treading on very thin ice here. If you need to keep our issues on the back burner while you deal with more pressing issues, fine. But damn it, don't work against us.

14 June 2009

Can America Get Up to Speed?

Quote of the Day:
[High speed rail] would end the expansion of regional airline traffic as in-state travelers increasingly ride the fast trains. And it would surely slow the growth of highway traffic. Other potential benefits are also intriguing: a probable economic windfall for several cities along the route, with rejuvenated neighborhoods and center cities; several hundred thousand jobs in construction, manufacturing, operations and maintenance; and the environmental benefits that come from vehicles far more efficient and far less polluting than jets, buses and cars.
-Jon Gertner, highlighting the tremendous benefits that would result if and when the United States builds high-speed rail, in an excellent essay in today's New York Times Magazine.

Brent and I traveled on two separate high-speed rail systems during our trip to Europe in 2005 and, train strike outside Brussels aside, we were quite impressed with the entire experience. The ride was comfortable, the service top notch, and the pricing reasonable. More over...no aggravatingly long airport security lines.

Why the United States has been so slow to plan and build high speed rail is absolutely puzzling. Then again, I guess it shouldn't be. Americans love their Hummers and SUVs, their airplanes and petrol-guzzling trucks. Changing minds on this issue, like many others, will be similar to moving mountains. Never mind the benefits that would come with high-speed rail (tons of jobs, a cleaner environment, a reliable travel alternative to the headache that is flying), the idea of doing anything "European" still irks too many Americans.

So, let's hope the current California project moves forward on schedule and proves successful, as its failure would doom other national high speed rail projects for decades to come.

In Iran

How can you call it anything but a right-wing coup?

Juan Cole:
On the basis of what we know so far, here is the sequence of events starting on the afternoon of election day, Friday, June 12.

- Near closing time of the polls, mobile text messaging was turned off nationwide
- Security forces poured out into the streets in large numbers
- The Ministry of Interior (election headquarters) was surrounded by concrete barriers and armed men
- National television began broadcasting pre-recorded messages calling for everyone to unite behind the winner
- The Mousavi campaign was informed officially that they had won the election, which perhaps served to temporarily lull them into complacency
- But then the Ministry of Interior announced a landslide victory for Ahmadinejad
- Unlike previous elections, there was no breakdown of the vote by province, which would have provided a way of judging its credibility
- Less than 24 hours later, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamene`i publicly announced his congratulations to the winner, apparently confirming that the process was complete and irrevocable, contrary to constitutional requirements
- Shortly thereafter, all mobile phones, Facebook, and other social networks were blocked, as well as major foreign news sources.
He adds:
The Electoral Commission is supposed to wait three days before certifying the results of the election, at which point they are to inform Khamenei of the results, and he signs off on the process. The three-day delay is intended to allow charges of irregularities to be adjudicated. In this case, Khamenei immediately approved the alleged results.

I am aware of the difficulties of catching history on the run. Some explanation may emerge for Ahmadinejad's upset that does not involve fraud. For instance, it is possible that he has gotten the credit for spreading around a lot of oil money in the form of favors to his constituencies, but somehow managed to escape the blame for the resultant high inflation.

But just as a first reaction, this post-election situation looks to me like a crime scene.
And the people are in the streets...

State-by-State Obama Polling

The blue states indicate those where President Obama enjoys an approval rating of 50% or more. Together they would equal 445 electoral votes in a presidential election, however I highly doubt he'd win them all. Even if his first term is superbly successful, I can't see Mr. Obama winning Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, or Louisiana.

Then again, I didn't think he'd win Florida, Indiana, or North Carolina last November. So what the hell do I know?

Chloe Update

Things are moving again, albeit slowly. We still find a small surprise or two around the house, but with her tummy on the mend those should stop by tomorrow. In the mean time, canned food at meal time and carrots for treats.

A heartfelt thanks to those of you sent emails. Brent and I appreciate it greatly.

13 June 2009

Three Core Principles

The President's weekly address...

A Night at Big Chicks

This week's playlist is inspired by the heyday of my old Chicago stomping grounds...Michelle Fire's infamous Big Chicks. Gil, Todd, Cindy, Geoff, and oh so many others...get ready to be transported back in time, and enjoy what was then the soundtrack of our lives. (Well...at least the soundtrack of our Friday nights.)

Walkin' On the Sun - Smash Mouth
Stupid Girl - Garbage
Intergalactic - Beastie Boys
Ray of Light - Madonna
Scream - Michael Jackson/Janet Jackson
Fast Love - George Michael
Praise You - Fatboy Slim
Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough - Michael Jackson
Jungle Boogie - Kool and the Gang
Tubthumping - Chumbawamba
Love Rollercoaster - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Space Cowboy - Jamiroquai

11 June 2009

Little to No Blogging

Sorry for the lack of posts this week. Our girl isn't feeling well and I'm spending my down time trying to make her comfortable (she seems to be a bit "backed up"). We have an appointment with the vet later this morning, and we are hoping that we can get things corrected then. I'll post an update later.

Happy Birthday, Joanne Winters

Love ya!

09 June 2009

Take Him at His Word?

Anderson Cooper talks with Andrew Sullivan...

Maddow vs Obama

From yesterday's show...

Disgusting and Beyond Vile

It seems the drunken right-wing nut jobs have worked their way into Israel.

(Warning: Language not safe for work)

Your Daily Santorum

Quote of the Day:
Democrats long ago jettisoned America's melting-pot ideal - E Pluribus Unum ("Out of Many, One") - because it imperils their campaign for permanent rule. Splitting the country into separate identity groups and playing them against each other works a lot better. And anyone who disagrees is a racist.
-Andrew Breitbart, blathering on in the wing-nut rag, Washington Times.

Let's see here. In November, Barack Obama won blacks (95% to 4%), Latinos (67% to 31%), Asians (62% to 35%), and other non-white demographic groups (66% to 31%).

Sounds like a rather broad based coalition to me. "Out of many" (blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and many other different races), "One" (the election of Barack Obama).

On the other hand, the Republican Party won only two major demographic groups: White men, and people over the age of 65, relegating their votes in the Electoral College to the Deep South and the sparsely populated states of the High Plains.

The conservatives and the Republican Party have really lost all touch with reality, haven't they?

Can Obama Win Montana In 2012?

Ken Strasma, the national strategy director in Barack Obama's presidential campaign last year, to Tom Schaller of Five Thirty Eight:
I'm very bullish on Montana. It is currently my number one pick to flip in 2012. Energy, land-management and environmental issues are key in Montana...
It's way too early to predict how things may go in the 2012 presidential election. If you had come to me in June of 2005 and predicted a black Democrat would win Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, and Indiana, I would have called you a fool.

In June of 1977, no one could have seen a second rate movie star from California trouncing born-again native son Jimmy Carter in the Deep South in 1980.

Voters are very fickle and they can turn on a dime. If the economic situation is so dire that it can't be turned around in four years time, then not only will President Obama lose in Montana, but he could very well lose many of those Republican states he picked up last November.

That said, he lost Montana narrowly last time around (49% to 47%). If the economy rebounds, the state could well go Democratic in 2012 for the first time since 1992. And that success could well bleed over into one or both of the Dakotas.

06 June 2009

11 Songs

This weekend's set includes new material from William Orbit, Ladyhawke, and Adele; as well as classics from Jamiroquai, Stevie Wonder, and Robbie Williams & Jane Harrocks (Bubble from "AbFab").

Press play and enjoy...

Magic - Ladyhawke
Highly Suspicious - My Morning Jacket
Planet Home - Jamiroquai
Superstition - Stevie Wonder
West Coast - Coconut Records
Mad World - Adam Lambert
Powerful - Skye Edwards
Hometown Glory - Adele
Summer In Paris - DJ Cam
Optical Illusion - William Orbit
Things - Robbie Williams w/ Jane Harrocks

Sir Oliver

Courtesy of Duane's Facebook page, may I present to you the master of the Albazi-Bill household...Oliver.

Flaming Manholes In San Francisco!

Sorry...but the events of yesterday just screamed for that headline.

I was on the treadmill at the gym when I saw live pictures on CNN. I jumped off and ran to the TV thinking the worst (subway terrorist attack). But it was a PG&E thing. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but 8,600 customers were without power for several hours and a few people were stuck in elevators.

05 June 2009

End-of-the-Week Levity, Part 2

A Bible lesson for "all you unsaved trash out there"...

(Shout out: Kathi)

"Absolute Nonsense"

Someone needs to tell Sarah Palin that the 2008 election is over, and that she and her running mate were trounced.

Someone should also tell her that she shouldn't talk about things for which she has no knowledge. Which would, I suppose, keep that trap of hers shut for tremendously long periods of time. But, I think most Americans would be ok with that.

End of the Week Levity

Tongue and Cheeks (nothing really nasty, but you'll want to use headphones for this if you're at the office) ...

Little Miss Chloe

Kickin' it with her Daddy at Yosemite, Memorial Day weekend...

More On Obama's Egypt Speech

Reactions from around the "inter-web"...

Andrew Sullivan:
Reading the speech today, I am reminded of why many of us saw this unlikely figure a couple of years ago and concluded that he was uniquely capable of guiding the West - and East - away from a catastrophic conflict that we learned, by bitter experience, could not be won by force of arms alone...no other figure in global politics could have done this. At its heart, the speech sprang, it seemed to me, a spiritual conviction that human differences, if openly acknowledged, need not remain crippling. It was a deeply Christian - and not Christianist - address; seeking to lead by example and patience rather than seeking to impose from certainty.
Michael Crowley:
One year ago today, Barack Obama clinched the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. In doing so, he defied Hillary Clinton's criticism that his candidacy amounted to little more than shallow and flowery speeches. Change, Clinton argued, comes from hard work--not pretty words. Today, in the Grand Hall of Cairo University, Clinton listened from the front row as Obama gave his most elegant speech yet. Perhaps it dawned on Clinton, if it hadn't already, that a great speech can do a lot of the hard work for you.
Washington Post:
President Obama was the first to say yesterday that one speech cannot erase the accumulated hostility and mistrust between many of the world's Muslims and the United States. But his address in Cairo offered an eloquent case for American values and global objectives -- and it looked to be a skillful use of public diplomacy in a region where America's efforts to explain itself have often been weak.
NY Times:
Before Thursday’s speech, and after, Mr. Obama’s critics complained that he has spent too much time apologizing and accused him of weakening the country. That is a gross misreading of what he has been saying — and of what needs to be said. After eight years of arrogance and bullying that has turned even close friends against the United States, it takes a strong president to acknowledge the mistakes of the past. And it takes a strong president to press himself and the world to do better.

04 June 2009

Red Dress Day

Otherwise known as Day 5 of the AIDS/Lifecycle Ride. 2,000 cyclists riding from Santa Maria to Lompoc, all decked out in their juiciest red coutour.

And with that, I present to you, Lady Larry...

Update: I just retrieved a voice mail message from Beth from earlier this afternoon...
Oh my God, Wayne. It's red dress day and they're all riding through town and it's fantastic!

And Now, New Hampshire

New Hampshire became the sixth state to allow same sex marriage following Gov. John Lynch's signature on a bill passed by both houses of the state legislature earlier this week.

More and more it seems New England is more progressive on this matter than California.

Next up...New York and Rhode Island?

Obama's Egypt Speech

Oh, how we needed this guy during the previous eight years. He understands that the most important part of our response to 9/11 should have been a renewed effort to bolster the moderates of the Muslim world in a cold war-like struggle to root out the extremists who hate us more than they love their own children, COMBINED WITH a military and police action along the Afghan-Pakistani border.

George W. Bush and Dick Cheney didn't understand this. They only knew force, lots of it, taken out on the wrong people. And that incompetence has led us to where we are today - with the Muslim world despising us in increasing numbers by the day, leaving America more and more vulnerable. (Just because we haven't been attacked since 9/11 doesn't mean we were kept safe by the previous administration.)

In his speech today, President Obama set to change course:
I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles - principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.
The President didn't just cow-tow to the Muslim world. He said what needed to be said:
...When violent extremists operate in one stretch of mountains, people are endangered across an ocean. And when innocents in Bosnia and Darfur are slaughtered, that is a stain on our collective conscience. That is what it means to share this world in the 21st century. That is the responsibility we have to one another as human beings.

This is a difficult responsibility to embrace. For human history has often been a record of nations and tribes subjugating one another to serve their own interests. Yet in this new age, such attitudes are self-defeating. Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. So whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners of it. Our problems must be dealt with through partnership; progress must be shared.

That does not mean we should ignore sources of tension. Indeed, it suggests the opposite: we must face these tensions squarely.
The speech is quite long, but in my mind it is required reading. Teachers across the country should print it and require their students to read it. The rest of us should make sure to set aside some time to study it.

It is that important.

The full text of the speech can be found here.


From Taegan Goddard:
Remember during the presidential primaries when Joe Biden described Barack Obama as "articulate and bright and clean?"

According to [Richard Wolfe's] Renegade: The Making of a President, President Bush didn't understand the resulting controversy.

"Bush was so taken aback with the public criticism of Biden that he called in his African American secretary of state Condoleezza Rice. 'I don't get it,' he said. 'Condi, what's going on?' Rice told him what everyone else had said: that white people don't call each other articulate."
The irony totally lost on Mr. Bush, of course.

03 June 2009

Your Daily Santorum

Rob, Arne, and Dawn, the morning team at KRXQ-FM in Sacramento.

For those not in-the-know, a primer on Your Daily Santorum here.

Half Way to L.A.

CNN Looks at 2012

Must be a slow news week, as CNN has polled Republican primary voters as to their preference for the 2012 presidential nomination. The results:
Mike Huckabee (Former Governor of Arkansas) 22%
Sarah Palin (Governor of Alaska, 2008 VP Nominee) 21%
Mittens (Former Governor of Massachusetts) 21%
Newt Gingrich (Former Speaker of the House) 13%
Now, fortunes can turn on a dime, and the voters of the United States aren't necessarily against putting really stupid people in very powerful posts (see Bush, George W.); and if the current economic mess is too dire to turn around in four years, all bets are off, BUT...

Huckabee? Palin?! REALLY? Hell...I say put them both on the ticket.

Mid-Week Brain Break

I see a heartbreaking CNN headline in this guy's future...

02 June 2009

Terror In the Name of Christianism

That is exactly what the murder of Dr. George Tiller should be called.

Keith Olbermann discusses the horrible events of Sunday with Andrew Sullivan...

And Olbermann's analysis of Fox News' complicity in the murder...

Government Motors

I will post my own thoughts on the murder of Dr. Tiller and the GM bankruptcy in a day or two, however I have an all day "summit" scheduled at work today so I am short on time this morning.

In the mean time, Keith Olbermann had an excellent show last night, tackling both issues with intelligent analysis and commentary. I will post clips here in lieu of my own perspective.

First up, a discussion of the General Motors bankruptcy with Michael Moore...


I never quite believed recent assertions that former vice-president Dick Cheney was touring the media circuit because he was scared of being caught for what he is - a war criminal. He is one of the defacto leaders of the Fascist wing of the Republican Party after all, so naturally I thought he was just throwing shit dust in the air in an effort to undermine the new administration.

Yesterday, however, in a speech to the National Press Club, Mr. Cheney blamed former CIA Director George Tenet for the faulty intelligence that led to the Iraq War, and former terrorism czar Richard Clarke for the attacks of 9/11.

"He did it, he did it!"

Perhaps he is scared after all.

If you followed any news at all over the last eight years, you would know that both George W. Bush and Mr. Cheney were hell bent on going to war with Iraq even before 9/11, and that the horrible events of that day gave them their opening (never mind that Iraq had nothing to do with those attacks); and you would understand that Richard Clarke was warning the Bush administration, during their first week in office, of Osama bin Laden's determination to launch a major attack against the United States, only to be told by the president that he didn't think bin Laden was that much of a threat. And of course there is the intelligence briefing presented to the president in August of 2001...the one that contained rather specific language as to what was being planned by bin Laden...and was ignored straight away by the vacationing Bush.

Rachel Maddow disects Cheney's speech from yesterday, and discusses the matter with former Sen. Bob Graham (Democrat-FL)...

01 June 2009

General Motors Bankrupt

I'm slammed at work, but right off the bat I can tell you that I think this is a good thing.

Full thoughts on GM's bankruptcy filing later.

Election Night In Minnesota, Day 209

The Minnesota State Supreme Court will hear arguments today on whether or not to reverse a lower court ruling that declared Democrat Al Franken the winner in that state's U.S. Senate race last November.

Any takers on whether this will be the end of the fight?

I'm rather doubtful myself.

Air France Jet Missing

From CNN:
An Air France plane missing over the Atlantic with 228 people aboard reported electrical problems in stormy weather before it lost contact, the airline said Monday, describing the loss as a "catastrophe."

The Airbus A330-200 sent automatic messages signaling equipment failure as it hit turbulence early in its 11-hour flight from Rio de Janeiro to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, Air France CEO Pierre-Henri Gourgeon told a news conference.

The last known contact with the plane was at 1:33 a.m. GMT (8:33 p.m. Sunday night ET), according to the Brazilian Air Force.
My thoughts are with the families of those on board.

And Now, Nevada

Well, almost. Both houses of the Nevada state legislature voted to override Gov. Jim Gibbons' veto of a bill giving legal rights to domestic partners.

Step by step, slowly, the tide is turning.

Doctor Killed In Church

George Tiller, the controversial Kansas doctor who performed early and late term abortions was murdered while he attended church yesterday.

Proving once again that the right-wing fascists want the rule of law applied to everyone else but themselves.

And proving beyond a doubt that over-heated right wing talking points lead to violence, murder, and mayhem.

The so-called "conservatives" of the Republican Party need to speak out against this sooner rather than later. If they really loved their country, they would tone down the hateful rhetoric.