Tuesday, December 30

Gaea's Last Stand

There are many numbers that will live on in our history. The 13th day of the 186 defenders at the Alamo. The final fight of the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae. However, all these numbers pale in comparison to the number 350. This is the number at which our very existence begins to be threatened. After all, who cares about any of the great acts in history, if no one is around to read them?

Sunday, December 28

Yahoo!: Phoenix Opens New Light-Rail System

Awesome! But, the hot summers will be a huge test. Will people wait for the rail outside in the heat? Hopefully, the planners thought ahead and set up water mist systems at every stop.

Saturday, December 20

My National High-speed Rail Service Idea

So, I have been dwelling on high-speed trains lately. Since 4am yesterday, to be precise. I keep thinking how wonderful it would be to have a fully-functioning, profitable, fun way to travel this beautiful land of ours. However, since I am obsessing, I thought it would be a good idea to post my ideas about high-speed rail service so I might stop obsessing. (I have found that it is the best way for me to move on. Expect in the near future a few posts regarding the frighteningly quick evolution of sea creatures and female Apache helicopter pilots. Oh, and Rhode Island. Although, I doubt a few posts will cure me of that fascination.)
Back to the rail, I have something that I scribbled out today. First, a few disclaimers. This is an idea about preliminary, yet national, high-speed rail service. A starting point, if you will. Second, I understand that having a rail from San Diego to Las Vegas is a little silly since one is proposed for Los Angeles to Vegas, but I live in San Diego so I have some bias regarding this. I admit it. I still want it. Lastly, I scribbled this out at 5am today and now - after a few relaxing mixed drinks - it still looks alright to me. I just wanted to put that out there. OK, here we go:
A California line is already proposed (Prop. 1A passed on November 4th). It would have a line starting in San Diego and going through Riverside, L.A., Central Valley, and splitting off toward either San Francisco or Sacramento. This is great but I think it should continue from San Francisco all the way to Seattle. It could follow the I-5 with a stop in Eureka and another in Portland.
S.D. - Phoenix - Central N.M. - Austin - Nawlins - Atlanta - Orlando - Miami
LA - Vegas - Denver - St. Louis - Nashville
St.Paul/Minn - Chicago - Cleveland - New York
Pittsburgh - D.C.
This is the part where you have to visualize the diagonal subconnections. Use the map.
S.D. connects to both L.A. and Vegas. Vegas connects also to Phoenix. Phoenix to Denver. Denver to New Mexico. St. Louis to Texas and Louisiana. Nashville to Atlanta.
Denver also to St. Paul/Minneapolis. St. Louis also to Chicago.
Cleveland to Pittsburgh.
This would be great for commerce as well as jobs. Someone who lives in Cleveland could work in Chicago. Someone like myself could get to Phoenix or Las Vegas to visit family in less than 3 hours. A barbecue fanatic can get Texas style for lunch and St. Louis style for dinner. To compare or brag or whatever.
I feel a little better now that I got that out. What do you think?

Friday, December 19

Bloomberg: Credit Card Users Feel Pain

Companies are implementing rate hikes and extra fees to curb higher defaults and lower consumer spending.

The new rules come on the heels of a $700 billion federal bailout of the financial system, including $125 billion invested in the nine largest U.S. banks. Recent moves by JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. and other firms to add charges and decrease the amount of money cardholders can borrow at the same time they’re taking taxpayer dollars have angered some customers.
“People are totally confused,” said
Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Corp.’s Economy.com. “The taxpayer is essentially a big owner in JPMorgan, Bank of America and Citigroup, and these are the folks who make credit-card loans. Many are asking, ‘So why is it that my credit-card loan got pulled? Why am I being charged a higher rate?’”
A decline in spending by consumers and a rising number of defaults are leading Citigroup, JPMorgan and other lenders to increase fees and interest rates for some customers and cut the amount others can borrow. The changes are intended to reduce risk and raise revenue.

Read entire article here.

Apparently, It's A Very Big Bus

Tuesday, December 16

Ignorance Is Bliss

I miss not knowing stuff. It was... peaceful. This is the reason Obama says things are gonna get worse before they get better. The problem is that they're going to get a lot worse for a lot longer than most people expect. Welcome the Great Recession everyone!! Take a seat and eat some popcorn, 'cause it's going to be awhile.

Wednesday, December 10

Nothing But Sunshine

Here is what I don't understand: If you know that you are doing wrong, then why are you talking? Why appear in front of cameras and essentially dare the authorities to try to get evidence? Unless Gov. Blagojevich is completely devoid of conscience understanding, he knew that anyone wiretapping him would have good evidence. Was it just arrogant bravado for the cameras? Why say anything at all? How about, "I am here to show my support for the workers. I have no comment at this time regarding accusations against me." Would that have been so hard?

Big Bang Theory Finally Hitting Home

The Big Bang Theory is simple. The Universe started as one, separated into many, and eventually will become one again. It took awhile but this theory is finally starting to be recognized as not just a theory, but a fact of nature for both the Universe and it's inhabitants. As a Star Trek fan, a world, not just a country, of the people, by the people, and for the people, has seemed as natural to me as breathing. Alas, the world will, once again, have to catch up to me.

Monday, December 8

Newsweek: Gay Marriage

This is an excellent article by Lisa Miller about the religious views of the anti-gay establishment. I found this article interesting for many reasons. On a personal note, I am not a religious person. I was raised in a family where members practiced different variations: Methodist, Baptist, Seventh-Day Adventist, etc... If I had to claim one religion at this point in my life, it would be Humanist (did you know there are, like, 15 different aspects of Humanism? How does that make any sense??)

Suffice it to say, I just think people should be respectful of individuality, patient with differences, and stop using their personal beliefs as an excuse to be unkind. It always amazes me when I see someone being angry and judgemental and condescending while wearing a Christian cross around their neck. I mean, doesn't following Christ mean something anymore? Or is it just jewelry and random words? If you choose to believe that Christ is your Savior, then why not do your best to treat others like he did? I remember those stories about him from church as a kid. He seemed like a good guy. He said some good things. He did a lot of good deeds. He was kind, patient, giving and forgiving. Seems like someone to emulate, not use to degrade and disrespect others.

To paraphrase a line from Studio 60: If a gay couple moves in next door, how does that impact my family relationships? And if it does, why is it their problem??

12/8/08: Random Bushism Of The Day

"You know, I'm the President during this period of time, but I think when the history of this period is written, people will realize a lot of the decisions that were made on Wall Street took place over a decade or so, before I arrived in President, during I arrived in President." --George W. Bush, ABC News interview, Dec. 1, 2008

Sunday, December 7

A Day Which Will Live In Infamy

The History Channel has a short video and summary of the attack on Pearl Harbor here.

Friday, December 5

I'll Drink To That!

75 years ago today, the 18th Amendment to the Constitution was repealed. Now, normally I get a bit pissy about changes to the Constitution; however, it is my humble opinion that the 18th amendment was stupid anyway. So there.

The 21st Amendment was ratified on December 5, 1933. This amendment officially declared alcohol consumption, transportation, and possession would be legal again. Now, I wasn't alive to see this happen - hell, my grandparents were not even alive then - but I can imagine the reaction to this news went something like this:

"Thank you, Congress! I am so happy you have allowed me to drown my sorrows in a bottle of bourbon!"


"Cool! Maybe I can drink away the existence of the Hoover Administration!"


":::GULP::: Aahhhhhh..."

Again, I wasn't there. This is supposition, folks. But I'm probably close, right?

The point is that we can legally imbibe and we have been doing just that for 75 consecutive years. So in celebration of that, we are being asked to do more:

"This anniversary is a great time to recognize the success of the past 75 years of effective, state-based alcohol regulation since the ratification of the 21st Amendment," said NBWA President Craig Purser. "Today, American consumers of legal drinking age have access to nearly 13,000 labels of beer from the smallest craft brews to the largest multinational labels - all delivered through a transparent and accountable alcohol distribution system. If you're of legal drinking age, join America's beer distributors in raising a glass on December 5 to the 75th anniversary of the 21st Amendment and today's successful system of state-based alcohol regulation."

Sounds reasonable to me. Then again, I am so easy.


Wednesday, December 3

Rachel Maddow And Richard Engel

Richard Engel was a guest on The Rachel Maddow Show last night. I always appreciate whenever Engel is on any show because 1) He explains foreign policy and actions in a way that is easier to understand and 2) If he is being interviewed it means he is safe. I worry about that guy. He is always in the middle of a gunfight somewhere. It is a double-edged sword, I guess. He is great at explaining conflicts that are happening in other countries because he spends so much time in the middle of conflicts in other countries, but there is something really calming about seeing him in a television studio and not in the mountains with bullets flying around him.

Last night, Engel was armed with a great tool - a map. Engel and Maddow talked about the Afghanistan - Pakistan - India conflict. If you missed it last night, please watch the video clip below.

Tuesday, December 2

12/2/08: Random Bushism Of The Day

"I didn't grow up in the ocean -- as a matter of fact -- near the ocean -- I grew up in the desert. Therefore, it was a pleasant contrast to see the ocean. And I particularly like it when I'm fishing." --George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Sept. 26, 2008

Friday, November 28

West Wing Butterball Hotline

Poised In The Pocket

Jim Sorgi, Billy Volek, and Joe Biden. What do all these guys have in common? They're all backups to All-Stars. Now what is the job of a backup? Well, you have to know everything the starting guy knows, you have to help him practice to be the best he can be, you have to give him advice on how to be better, and... THAT'S IT! Otherwise, you stand on the sidelines and wait for Number One to bring home the Championship Ring, with none of the blame if he fails. This country has had 45 VP's who understood the sweetness of this deal. Then, for the last 8 years, we had one that decided that this would be the ideal spot from which to attempt to remake the world in his image. The problem was that if you didn't share his views, his position towards you was that of, "You were part of the rebel alliance and a traitor, take her away!" I, for one, am looking forward to a Number Two that isn't trying to rule the world from an undisclosed location.

Saturday, November 22

Candace Gingrich's Letter To Newt

Here is a taste:

What really worries me is that you are always willing to use LGBT Americans as political weapons to further your ambitions. That's really so '90s, Newt. In this day and age, it's embarrassing to watch you talk like that. You should be more afraid of the new political climate in America, because, there is no place for you in it.

This letter is direct, honest and in my view, perfect. Read the whole thing here.

The President's Favor To The Nation

Here are some links to a couple of posts regarding President Bush leaving office sooner than January 20, 2009. Apparently, I am not the only person who feels this would be the best gift ever. Go figure.

Gail Collins: Putting Barack Obama in charge immediately isn't impossible. Dick Cheney, obviously, would have to quit as well as Bush. In fact, just to be on the safe side, the vice president ought to turn in his resignation first. (We're desperate, but not crazy.) Then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would become president until Jan. 20. Obviously, she'd defer to her party's incoming chief executive, and Barack Obama could begin governing.

Brian Beutler: Before Pelosi could become president, she'd have to relinquish her seat in the House of Representatives (Speaker or not, she's still an elected official) and hand the Big Gavel (probably) over to the less-than-progressive Steny Hoyer. All for a one month presidency. Then once Obama takes over, and with all the cabinet positions fixed, she'd basically be out in the wilderness for two years or more.
How about this sequence of events instead: 1). Condoleezza Rice resigns as Secretary of State. 2). George Bush appoints Barack Obama in her place. 3). George Bush and Dick Cheney resign their positions (or get kicked out by the Congress). 4). Both Nancy Pelosi and Robert Byrd refuse to adhere to the chain of succession. 5). Obama becomes president.

Sounds good. Let's get started.

Thursday, November 20

National High-Speed Rail Service

I love the idea of high-speed rail service in this country. I have wanted this for years, ever since I saw a tv special about the bullet trains around the world. Also, I was excited to see California Prop 1A was not only placed on the ballot, but also passed. I am not the type of person who jumps up and down with joy, but I did. I jumped. Yes, I am a dork about this stuff, but I can't help it. Last weekend I watched a video about the proposed high-speed rail plan for California and I actually got choked up a bit. I mean, I didn't cry but I did feel an emotional flurry similar to what I feel in the last 15 minutes of Radio Flyer. I'm sure a good part of it is because of the cheesy heart-string-tugging music, but still, I was moved.

Yep. It's official. I am a dork.

Anyway, the original point of this post was not to embarrass myself but too link to a press release today regarding the High-Speed Rail for America Act of 2008. A few quotes:

Sen. John Kerry: “A first-rate rail system would protect our environment, save families time and money, reduce our dependency on foreign oil, and help get our economy moving again."

Sen. Arlen Specter: “We must continue to focus our energies on building and maintaining a strong national passenger rail system in order to ease congestion of air and highway corridors connecting high-growth markets, as well as to meet energy and environmental goals.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg: “Investing in modern infrastructure is vital to the nation’s long-term economic and environmental health - and in the short-term, it would help put more Americans back to work."

Gov. Ed Rendell: “Expanding our nation’s critical rail infrastructure will make our transportation network more efficient, reduce traffic pressure on our already busy interstate highways, and improve the environment.”

Is this not totally awesome?

I am so going to get clowned for this post later.

XKCD: East And West

An excellent post on this subject was written at Strange Maps: For many centuries, Europe was the vantage point from which the world was discovered, viewed and named. Columbus sailed west to arrive East in India, but instead stumbled on a new continent. It took a while for the confusion to lift, so the first name for America was the Indies, from 1555 on shifting to West Indies (when the mistake became increasingly apparent). About four decades later, the original Indies (i.e. India and South East Asia) started to be called the East Indies - to distinguish them more clearly from the West Indies. East and West were defined relative to Europe.

Take A Civics Test

I got 28 out of 33. Apparently, I need to learn alot more about FDR and economic policy. After taking the quiz, check out the table comparing the scores between citizens and our elected officials. An example: "Seventy-nine percent of those who have been elected to government office do not know the Bill of Rights expressly prohibits establishing an official religion for the U.S."
Scary, huh?

Tuesday, November 18

Trickle Down Theories = Weapons of Mass Depression

Neoconservatives lost this election by 8 million votes. That's only 6% of the vote in this years election cycle. This may be considered a landslide to politicos, but considering what we could have been facing if they won, I call this razor thin. What's really worrisome is that their influence, while currently diminished, could not only make a comeback, but for some, will be felt for a lifetime.

Saturday, November 15

San Diego Events This Weekend

There is always something cool happening in San Diego...

Tall Ships Sail the San Diego Bay: This is a two-day event where you can view ships from the shore as well as go onboard some ships with a ticket. This is the 145th anniversary of the Star of India, a beautiful ship docked here in San Diego.

2nd Annual Harvest Festival: Located in Balboa Park, a $1 ticket gets you into an event that includes carnival games, pony rides, even a petting zoo. An inexpensive and fun way to get your family out of the house. Hosted by Campfire U.S.A.

Kimono as Art Festival: This Sunday event includes free admission into the Museum of Art at Balboa Park. Also, a festival outside celebrating Japanese art including origami instruction. Cool!

HRC: List Of Business Contributors To Yes On 8

Friday, November 14

American Journalist Taken Hostage

Unattributable.com is reporting that an American journalist has been taken hostage by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Now, this website does describe itself as "hot humor, idle chatter, and wildly unsubstantiated rumor". Also, I am currently flipping back and forth between CNN and MSNBC and there has been no mention of this. However, Spencer Ackerman at The Washington Independent has confirmed knowledge of the journalist as well. Neither site is saying his name for safety reasons, although I have a good idea who. Let us all pray that this is incorrect information. This is one time I would appreciate bad reporting.

236.com: List Of Bush Regrets

President Bush recently mentioned two regrets he has since he took office: stupid things he has said and that "mission accomplished" fiasco. 236.com mentions a few dozen more. Here is a partial list:

1. His existence
2. His decision to go into politics
3. Not learning how to better run oil companies so he wouldn't have to go into politics
4. His decision to run for president
5. His decision to run for a second term as president
6. Every word spoken into a microphone since January 20th, 2001
7. That time in 2001 when he shouted at Dick Cheney, "You know what, screw it. You run the country if you're so smart!"


Thursday, November 13

Max Baucus and Healthcare

Who is Max Baucus? Well, Baucus is a U.S. Senator from Montana. He is also the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which has the final say on any health care plan in the Senate. Yeah, he is important. Read up:

The American Prospect: This is the uncomfortable reality that will face the next administration. While most reformers have been obsessed with the policy details of the presidential campaign -- health-care mandates or simple subsidies? tax cuts or credits? -- much of the success of the next president's agenda will, in truth, rely on the actions of one of the most experienced, inscrutable, and unpredictable politicians in the country. Over the next two years, Max Baucus could prove a progressive legislative giant. Or he could be Bad Max.

Time Swampland: The Senator's 87-page Call to Action on Health Reform. He is serious about this.

Tuesday, November 11

Veterans Day

A brief history: Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting in its place the word "Veterans." With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

National ceremony: At exactly 11 a.m., each November 11th, a color guard, made up of members from each of the military branches, renders honors to America's war dead during a heart-moving ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery.
The President or his representative places a wreath at the Tomb and a bugler sounds
Taps. The balance of the ceremony, including a "Parade of Flags" by numerous veterans service organizations, takes place inside the Memorial Amphitheater, adjacent to the Tomb.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America: So today, as people gather nationwide to honor all those who have served, I have a very exciting announcement to make. IAVA is launching a historic, groundbreaking Public Service Announcement (PSA) campaign aimed at easing the transition for veterans returning home from combat. Created by veterans, for veterans, this innovative media campaign is like nothing America has ever seen.

Monday, November 10

Why Does AIG Keep Screwing Us?

Naked Capitalism: This is the essence of AIG's latest proposal:
Man walks into pawn broker. He says to the person behind the counter, "You know that watch I brought in two weeks ago? I know you lent me $85, but now I need another $50. And I will tell you why you will give it to me. I have a gun with me. I will blow my brains out here, right now. With your nice carpet, I guarantee it will cost you more than $50 to clean up your store. And that's before we get into the cost of keeping your store closed while you clean my grey matter off your walls and what my suicide might do to your store's reputation."Oh, and we forgot to mention that the man in the story above pulled the same trick last week and it worked like a charm.

I just don't get it. Does Paulson have some huge stake in this company? Why is he allowing this to happen?

Remember, when the original bailout package required handing Paulson a blank check with no oversight? He found a loophole.

11/10/08: Random Bushism Of The Day

"Let me start off by saying that in 2000 I said, 'Vote for me. I'm an agent of change.' In 2004, I said, 'I'm not interested in change --I want to continue as president.' Every candidate has got to say 'change.' That's what the American people expect." --George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., March 5, 2008

Sunday, November 9

Wallstats: 389 Years Ago...

Jess at wallstats.com published a "typographic mashup of the history of slavery, racism, and the progress of African Americans." Brilliant.


Turns out Barack Obama and John McCain wanted exactly the same thing: Reform. They simply had different ideas of what that truly meant. To Obama, reform is reversing 8 years of conservative, anti-intellectual, anti-scientific, anti-environmental policies that have damaged our reputation, our economy, and our world. Now that's change I can truly believe in! This being the first time I've ever hired someone, I must say, the new employee is coming along nicely =)

Friday, November 7

Etheridge: You Can Forget My Taxes

Melissa Etheridge wrote an excellent post at The Daily Beast about the passage of Prop. 8:

Okay. So Prop 8 passed. Alright, I get it. 51% of you think that I am a second class citizen. Alright then. So my wife, uh I mean, roommate? Girlfriend? Special lady friend? You are gonna have to help me here because I am not sure what to call her now. Anyways, she and I are not allowed the same right under the state constitution as any other citizen. Okay, so I am taking that to mean I do not have to pay my state taxes because I am not a full citizen. I mean that would just be wrong, to make someone pay taxes and not give them the same rights, sounds sort of like that taxation without representation thing from the history books.
Okay, cool I don't mean to get too personal here but there is a lot I can do with the extra half a million dollars that I will be keeping instead of handing it over to the state of California. Oh, and I am sure Ellen will be a little excited to keep her bazillion bucks that she pays in taxes too. Wow, come to think of it, there are quite a few of us fortunate gay folks that will be having some extra cash this year. What recession? We're gay! I am sure there will be a little box on the tax forms now single, married, divorced, gay, check here if you are gay, yeah, that's not so bad.

Awesome.

Thursday, November 6

Happy Birthday Cousin Michael!

Also on this day in history:

Nov. 6 1860: Abraham Lincoln elected President.

Nov. 6 1962: The United Nations condemns apartheid.

...and more.

Have a great day, cos!

Rupert Murdoch Lost Soooo Much Money

Many people, including Keith Olbermann and my mom, will feel some satisfaction with this.

Wednesday, November 5

11/05/08: Random Bushism Of The Day

"People say, how can I help on this war against terror? How can I fight evil? You can do so by mentoring a child; by going into a shut-in's house and say I love you." -George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Sept. 19, 2002

The Onion: Black Man Given Nation's Worst Job

Tuesday, November 4

President-Elect Barack Obama!!

The future looks bright now. I am so happy. We did it!


Election Day Articles

Eugene Robinson: Along came Barack Obama, a young man with an unassailable résumé and a message of post-racial transformation. Initially, a big majority of African Americans lined up behind his major opponent in the Democratic primaries, Hillary Clinton. The reason was simple: In the final analysis, white Americans weren't going to vote for the black guy. Better to go with the safe alternative.
But an amazing thing happened. In the Iowa caucuses, white Americans voted for the black guy. That's the moment Obama was referring to when he said his faith in the American people was vindicated. For me, it was the moment when the utterly impossible became merely unlikely. That's a fundamental change, and it launched a sequence of events over the subsequent months that made me realize that some things I "knew" about America were apparently wrong.

Bob Herbert: The point here is that as we approach the end of the first decade of the 21st century, the United States is in deep, deep trouble. Yet instead of looking for creative, 21st-century solutions to these enormous problems, too many of our so-called leaders are behaving like clowns, or worse — spouting garbage in the public sphere that hearkens back to the 1940s and ’50s.
Thoughtful, well-educated men and women are denounced as elites, and thus the enemies of ordinary Americans. Attempts to restore a semblance of fiscal sanity to a government that has been looted with an efficiency that would have been envied by the mob, are derided as subversive — the work of socialists, Marxists, Communists.
In 2008!

Nate Silver: Ten reasons why you should ignore the exit polls.

Monday, November 3

Are You Kidding Me?!!

A report from Michael Scherer at Swampland - Time.com:

By all reports from the front of the plane, John McCain is having a good time today, hanging out with his friend Joe Lieberman, and various other notables, like former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge and Florida Sen. Mel Martinez. They have been eating fried chicken, picked up in Tennessee with some peach cobbler. If there is a lull, McCain can turn to the book he has been reading, "An Army At Dawn: The War In North Africa 1942-1943."

One thing McCain is not doing is worrying about the speech he will deliver tomorrow night from the lawn outside the Arizona Biltmore Resort, the contents of which will depend on the election's outcome. McCain's friend and speechwriter Mark Salter does not like to plan too far ahead. "I don't work until the day of," Salter said, adding that the speech should not take him more than a couple hours to write. He added that he will probably wait until midday to get started. "It's gonna be a late night," he added, predicting a nailbiter of an election

Um, what if it is not a late night? What if Pennsylvania, a "blue state" that McCain must win, goes for Obama early? Or Virginia? My brother says that this is not McCain's fault. He should relax on the plane and eat chicken and cobbler with his buddies. But, I think he should light a fire under Salter's ass about the speech. Both speeches. There should be two ready right now, folks. Sen. Obama has both a celebratory and a secession speech ready to go. He is not measuring the drapes. He is ready for whatever happens. Like a leader should be. A leader would be ready right now. A leader does not allow a speech writer's psychological timetable dictate the effectiveness of his actions.

I mean, the polls open in a few hours...Gimme a freakin' break!!

Friday, October 31

Proposition 8

Here in California, Proposition 8 is a hot-button issue. Prop. 8 changes the California Constitution to legally recognize only the marriages between a man and a woman. This not only affects future opportunities for gay couples to marry; it also affects any gay marriages that occurred after the California Supreme Court ruled a ban to be unconstitutional. It literally takes away the rights of people in gay marriages that the law has declared they deserve as citizens. Some recent articles regarding Prop.8:

Los Angeles Times: One Christian group is gearing up for what it hopes will be a huge rally for Proposition 8 -- including 12 hours of prayer and fasting -- at San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium on Saturday...The religious duel over Proposition 8 has simmered for months, dividing congregations and denominations. Last week, separate gatherings of African American ministers rallied for and against it during news conferences. Both sides cited the Bible in making their cases. California's six most senior Episcopal bishops declared their opposition to the measure last month, even as the issues of same-sex marriage and gay clergy threaten to tear apart the global Anglican Communion to which they belong. And in spring, United Methodist Church leaders in Southern California defied their national church by voting to support same-sex couples who marry and the pastors who welcome them. Some pastors already have officiated at weddings or played a role in same-sex ceremonies, risking their clerical credentials.

Crooks and Liars: Prop.8 spokesman compares gays to Hitler. Wow.

USA Today: "The most expensive culture war in America".

Shastras: Awesome.

Finally, a quick and effective video narrated by Samuel L. Jackson.

Get Your War On: Chaos!

Get the latest news satire and funny videos at 236.com.

Politicos Anonymous

If your reading this post, than this article applies to you.

Tuesday, October 28

10/28/08: Random Bushism Of The Day

"We are fully committed to working with both sides to bring the level of terror down to an acceptable level for both." -George W. Bush, after a meeting with congressional leaders, Washington, D.C., Oct. 2, 2001

Sunday, October 26

Infrastructure News From Last Week

Wow. It doesn't look like the infrastructure report card of a nation that takes it seriously, does it? Fortunately, people are talking about it now. Politicians, economists, and the media are picking up on the dangerous failings of our infrastructure. There is even a proposition in California - Prop 1A - that finally allows the voters to decide whether or not we should have high-speed rail line service. Finally. Yep, people are talking. Hopefully, that talk will turn into some much needed action soon. As you can see, we are dangerously overdue.

NewsHour: Ray Suarez interviews PennDOT engineer Charles Davies about bridge repair.

Washington Independent: Taxpayers will remember that the first round of stimulus efforts came in the form of direct-to-the-door rebate checks — $600 for individuals and $1,200 for married couples. This time around, lawmakers are focusing on infrastructure projects, social services like unemployment insurance and direct aid to states, many of which are struggling with budget deficits. There’s even an emerging effort to have green-energy investment a central focus of the bill.

The $600 rebate checks provided by the federal stimulus package earlier this year may have been popular among taxpayers, but many economists think any future effort should focus on infrastructure spending and other targeted measures.
Spending on new roads, bridges and other public works projects would create jobs and provide more of a lasting boost to the economy than another round of rebate checks, several economists said. They contend a common concern about infrastructure spending - that it takes time to gear up and may not kick in until after the recession is over - is less compelling now because the U.S. economy likely will experience an extended downturn.

Mother Jones: McCain hasn't bought into this because (I'd guess) he still doesn't really appreciate the scope of our financial problems. Plus he probably associates infrastructure projects with earmarks, so he has a Pavlovian reaction against them. Obama has done a little better, but only a little. It would be smart, both politically and substantively, for him to at least start making more aggressive noises on a big, bold infrastructure plan.

President In '08 = Ulcer In '09

I've said it before and I'll say it again, who would want this job? Aside from getting your own library, there's just no benefit. I mean, how masochistic can you get? I have just one question for whoever wins November 4th: Don't you love yourself?

A House Divided

How ironic that the words of the founder of the Republican Party should ring so true for its future. Just like in the American Civil War, the Republicans have a conflict brewing that centers around which ideology will dominate the direction of the Party. While I'm no fan of the Right, I can't wait until the 2012 primaries. Spoiler Alert: If Bloomberg wins in 2012, the Republican Party will have come back strong and might even unseat Obama. If Romney or Giuliani win, they will coast for another century or two, until another Bush comes along. However, if Palin or even Huckabee win it, the Republican Party is going to have about as much clout as the Alaska Independence Party, and within 20 years they will go the way of the Whigs.

Saturday, October 25

A Comment On McCain's NM Rally

So, MSNBC just showed a live shot of Sen. McCain stumping in New Mexico. In five minutes, McCain mentioned
  1. Joe the Plumber's loss of privacy due to Democrats meddling into his affairs because Joe "asked tough questions."
  2. Barney Frank wants to raise taxes and cut defense spending.
  3. Sen. Obama wants to tax the rich but he voted to increase taxes on people making $42,000 a year (BTW, that was an increase of $15 for a single taxpayer. $15.)
  4. John McCain has been tested and Barack Obama has not.
  5. A Democratic majority in Congress and a Democratic President would raise your taxes. (My brother said that someone should ask McCain if it would be okay to vote for Obama and then vote for a Republican for Congress. Since he is soooo worried about it.)

All of these points were made in the time it took me to pour a bowl of cereal and a cup of coffee. Oh, and add creamer. And stir. It was similar to the debates where McCain would go off point in the middle of a long, rambling tangent. Why not focus on one thing for a few minutes and talk about it in detail before moving on to the next topic? I have never taken a speech class but I have given speeches and jumping around like that in such a short amount of time is not conducive to a clear message. I just don't understand.

TNR: Q&A With Brian Moore

With so much talk recently about socialism, it is amazing that there is not much mentioned about Brian Moore and Stewart Alexander. Who are they? Well, they are the presidential and vice-presidential nominees of the Socialist Party USA. Never heard of them? Never heard of the party? You are not alone. The New Republic Q&A is, well, weird. John Moore of The Nation also wrote a piece about Sarah Palin's recent accusations that Barack Obama is a socialist. Apparently, Brian Moore does not agree.

Maddow and Ana Marie Cox Discuss McCain Campaign's Bad Week

Friday, October 24

Get Your War On: Jump Off The Roof

Get the latest news satire and funny videos at 236.com.

10/24/08: Fascinating Fact About The Constitution

There was a proposal at the Constitutional Convention to limit the standing army for the country to 5,000 men. George Washington sarcastically agreed with this proposal as long as a stipulation was added that no invading army could number more than 3,000 troops!

Joe The Brother

A Nightmare On Electoral Street

When you count your chickens before they hatch, prepare to go hungry.

Wednesday, October 22

10/22/08: Random Bushism Of The Day

"This thaw -- took a while to thaw, it's going to take a while to unthaw." --George W. Bush, on liquidity in the markets, Alexandria, La., Oct. 20, 2008

Tuesday, October 21

Florida Voting Machine

Those Who Don't Learn From History...

This article hit me the same way as the movie The Ring. I read it thinking, "Yeah this is kinda freaky, but nothing I haven't seen before," and then the shocker at the end. Hint: The date it was written. We hear the wise sayings all the time nowadays. Most of us don't heed them to often; however, we as a nation must always remember that past truly is prologue.

Sunday, October 19

Articles About Infrastructure From Last Week

Since I am constantly talking to other people about the crumbling infrastructure of this great country, I thought I would post some links to articles I have come across on the topic. I am also going to make a new label in the sidebar for this specific topic because, well, it would be easier. Here are a few links:

Huffington Post: No president has paid serious attention to infrastructure since Dwight D. Eisenhower, who had a vision for the future. His vision led to constructing the U.S. interstate highway system, the roads on which our economy has traveled for five decades. But Eisenhower's vision was for his future. That future is our past.

FresnoBee: Many of our most important public works projects have come in times of deep economic distress -- and they have been crucial elements in our recovery in those times.
Recall the Great Depression, when voters in the Bay Area passed bonds to build the Golden Gate and Bay bridges -- projects that lightened the impact of the Depression on that region and were critical to the postwar economic boom. Shasta Dam was built during the Depression, and remains a linchpin of the state's water system. The greatest public works project in the nation's history -- the transcontinental railroad -- was set in motion by Abraham Lincoln at the outset of the Civil War, the most troubled period of our history.

Market Watch: "Washington should follow Pennsylvania's lead on infrastructure investment. America's highways, bridges, tunnels, and mass transit have fallen behind because the federal government is contributing only 25 percent of infrastructure funding and the rest is coming from financially strapped state and local governments.
"In 1961, when Dwight D. Eisenhower left office, the federal government was allocating 12.5 percent of its non-military spending to infrastructure. Today, that percentage has fallen to 2.5. If Washington steps up its commitment of resources for infrastructure investment, we could create millions of jobs across the country and turn this economy around," Governor Rendell said.

Atlanta Journal Constitution: I would have the federal government send each state an amount equal to 5 percent of its current year general fund budget with the following stipulation on how to spend the money: 60 percent of the money should go to infrastructure spending on roads, buildings, airports, water and sewer projects, whatever the state’s priorities are. States could be allowed to spend the other 40 percent however they chose...People are tiring of bailouts and rescue plans. People don’t like seeing their tax dollars fly out the door to help people or businesses that seem to have created their own problems. However, this plan would send the money to people’s communities. Plus, at the end of the day, this plan will leave us with something lasting: new infrastructure that serves our community’s needs.

Powell Press Conference After MTP

This press conference of Gen. Powell after his appearance on Meet the Press was just as good as his interview on the show. Being an infrastructure nut, I was happy to hear him mention its importance twice in six minutes. And the smirk on his face when a reporter asks him if he is still a Republican is classic. "That was a waste of a question" my brother said. Yeah, like he changed his party registration before he came on the show? Whatever. Powell rocks!

McCarthyism And The Media

Feels familiar, huh?

Cmdr. Mike Lumpkin For CA-52

Rep. Duncan Hunter has decided to end his 28 year run as the representative in my district. Woohoo! Unfortunately, his son Duncan D. Hunter is running in his place. There have been signs everywhere saying Hunter for Congress and Duncan Hunter for Congress. I have a feeling that people who are not paying full attention would just assume it is Hunter Sr. It is a clever strategy. Hopefully, it doesn't work.
Hunter Jr.'s competition is Democratic nominee Commander Mike Lumpkin. This guy is awesome! He has a Master's degree in national security affairs from UCSD. He is a former Navy SEAL who fought in Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa, and the Phillipines. Frankly, I am surprised I haven't seen any ads or neighborhood canvassing. He has a real shot at changing this district from a Republican stronghold. Think about the conversation in the Oval Office on November 5th if CA-52 changes. Personally, I want that conversation.

Here are some links to read interviews, questionnaires, and biographical information about Lumpkin:

Calitics: Lumpkin believes divisive politics are the reason America has gotten so far off track and he is committed to solving issues that transcend extreme politics. "Americans understand the urgency of working together; our deficit is spiraling out of control, we are outsourcing jobs, military families face extended deployments, the border is not secure, and Social Security is in trouble. Americans are smart, patriotic folks and we want our country back. We have too much at stake to let perennial wedge agendas hijack our national discussion," said Lumpkin.

Daily Kos: I believe that Blackwater violates the intent of the 2nd Amendment which declares "a well-regulated militia as being necessary to the security of a free State." Blackwater, and the almost 200 other organizations like them are almost completely UNregulated. The military code does not apply to them, which is highly problematic. Additionally, I do not believe it is in the best interests of the US tax payers to have to pay these contractors. Organizations like Blackwater are driving up our defense costs. US tax payers pay for the training of military experts, like SEALS. The cost of such training is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. After completing this training, they receive military pay. Unfortunately, Blackwater type organizations can pay up to $1500 per day as compared to $1500 per week and we lose many as soon as they are able. This hurts the US tax payer even more because now the military has to pay exorbitant re-enlistment bonuses to try to keep them. Then who ends up paying them their new large contract salaries? The US tax payers again.

Oxdown Gazette: “Duncan Hunter Junior expects to inherit his father’s congressional seat and not work hard by showing voters what he’s made of in a broadcast debate,” says Commander Lumpkin. “But being a member of Congress is a job—not an entitlement. In a debate he can’t ask his father what to say; he has to be his own man and stand on his own two feet.”

Washington Post: Military service
Former Deputy Commander, Joint Special Operations Task Force-Arabian Peninsula for Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Deployed to Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, and the Philippines.
United States Special Operations Command Office of Legislative Affairs liaison to the United States Congress on policy and appropriation issues supporting our nation’s Special Operations Forces.

West Wing Intro: Obama Campaign

Saturday, October 18

ACLU: Ten Tips For Avoiding Problems When You Vote

1. Check your voter registration status as soon as possible.
2. Vote before Election Day if you can.
3. Locate your polling place before Election Day.
4. Plan ahead if you need special assistance.
5. Don’t wear political attire to the polls.
6. Bring some form of identification if you have it.
7. Vote early in the day.
8. Follow all instructions.
9. Ask for help if you need it.
10. Take your time.

For more details, click on the post title.

Please Censure Rep. Bachmann

Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) is a nut job. I watched this live on Hardball with Chris Matthews yesterday. Usually on Fridays, I make sure to watch Hardball but I am listening while working on the computer. Yesterday, I had to stop what I was doing. My brother actually woke up from sleeping on the couch about two minutes into this interview, probably because he couldn't believe what his subconscious was hearing. His first sleepy words to me: "Did I hear that right?" We watched and listened in stunned and nauseating disbelief as this interview unfolded.

Disgusting. Horrendous. Frightening.

So many people have already written about this. Here are my favorites:

Obsidian Wings: I think that this sort of thing has no place in politics. We can disagree with one another without impugning our opponents' patriotism. So even though I would regret not having Representatives who write bills called "the Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act" in Congress, I just went over to Elwyn Tinklenberg's website and made a donation.
Why? Because I love my country enough to think that it deserves better.

Political Animal: I'd just add that Bachmann's re-election is hardly assured. In fact, recent polling suggests she's very vulnerable, facing an aggressive challenge from former state transportation chief Elwyn Tinklenberg, who has pulled to within a few points. One wonders how voters in Minnesota's 6th will respond to Bachmann's embrace of neo-McCarthyism.

AmericaBlog: Michelle Bachmann is a disgrace. This was one of the most disturbing hate-mongering things I've seen on t.v. Even Matthews seem stunned by her diatribe.
Her opponent, Elwyn Tinklenberg, just got named to the DCCC's Red to Blue. We need to help him defeat her. Bachmann is way under 50% -- only up by 4 points in a poll reported yesterday by Politico:
POLL OF THE DAY: Minnesota GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann leads Democrat Elwyn Tinklenberg by a slim 42-percent-to-38-percent margin, according to a Grove Insight poll conducted for the DCCC.
Seriously, Bachmann is deranged.

The title post links to a site to censure Bachmann. Please check it out.

No On Prop 8 Video

Thursday, October 16

" I'm Running For President!"

If any one you care about ever utters these words, you have a duty to pimp slap them upside the head. Think about it. You spend two years traveling to every part of the country about 50 times. You have to shake hands, kiss babies, and, oh so tactfully, beg for money. In between all this, you have to say the exact same thing about 10,000 times, always enthusiastically, always with a smile. On top of all this, you have campaign staff to keep motivated (since most are volunteers you're paying them with compliments and hope), surrogates to manage, and advisers to counsel with. Oh, and did I mention, that you're doing all this whilst everybody in the world is not only watching your every current move, but simultaneously pouring over every minute of every day you, your family, your friends, your associates, and your associates' associates have ever lived. You go through this two year application process, which ages you by about 10, just so you can make the hardest decisions imaginable with about 300 million people both looking to you for help and telling you what to do at the same time. Lastly, this position that you killed yourself to get, that you struggle to get through day in and day out; it is, by definition, A TEMP JOB! Our leaders might be the brightest, most educated and innovative people on the planet, but it's clear that anyone who runs for President, definitely hails from the shallow end of the gene pool.

Wednesday, October 15

Obama: A Rescue Plan For The Middle Class

This plan was unveiled in a speech in Toledo, Ohio. You can watch the video or read the speech text as prepared for delivery. Some highlights:

I’ll bring down the cost of health care for families and businesses by investing in preventative care, new technology, and giving every American the chance to get the same kind of health insurance that members of Congress give themselves. We’ll ensure every child can compete in the global economy by recruiting an army of new teachers and making college affordable for anyone who wants to go. We’ll create five million new, high-wage jobs by investing in the renewable sources of energy that will eliminate the oil we currently import from the Middle East in ten years, and we’ll create two million jobs by rebuilding our crumbling roads, schools, and bridges...

We’ve already lost three-quarters of a million jobs this year, and some experts say that unemployment may rise to 8% by the end of next year. We can’t wait until then to start creating new jobs. That’s why I’m proposing to give our businesses a new American jobs tax credit for each new employee they hire here in the United States over the next two years...

We will also save one million jobs by creating a Jobs and Growth Fund that will provide money to states and local communities so that they can move forward with projects to rebuild and repair our roads, our bridges, and our schools...

Since so many Americans will be struggling to pay the bills over the next year, I propose that we allow every family to withdraw up to 15% from their IRA or 401(k) – up to a maximum of $10,000 – without any fine or penalty throughout 2009. This will help families get through this crisis without being forced to make painful choices like selling their homes or not sending their kids to college...

There is a lot more - it is a very long and detailed proposal, but very much worth the time.

Tuesday, October 14

How And Why Obama Picked Biden

This is an excellent article in The New Yorker by Ryan Lizza. A few excerpts:

Biden agreed to let Obama’s campaign team consider him, but with a caveat: “I wanted to make sure we understood each other—that, even if I vetted and he wanted me to take the job, I wasn’t committing to do that. When the time was appropriate for him, if I was the guy, I needed to spend at least two or three hours with him to understand what the role would be.” Biden wanted what amounted to an oral contract between him and Obama, spelling out his specific responsibilities in an Obama White House...

Obama also asked Biden whether he thought that he was more suited to a different position. “He said, ‘You have a great interest in national-security policy, foreign policy,’ ” Biden told me. “He wasn’t offering me this, but he said, ‘Would you rather be Secretary of State instead of Vice-President?’ And I thought a lot about that.”

During the primaries, Biden often played the role of policy grownup, the candidate who liked to chide the unrealistic plans of his rivals. According to a senior Biden aide, after a debate in which Bill Richardson, the New Mexico governor, argued that he could have all hundred and sixty thousand American troops out of Iraq in a matter of months—something that is logistically beyond reach, according to most observers—Biden approached Richardson backstage and told him that the plan was impossible. Richardson didn’t seem concerned. “I know it is,” he said. (A spokesman for the Governor said that Richardson does not recall the exchange.) In an Obama White House, Biden wants to be just as direct.

Saturday, October 11

The City of Brotherly Love

Brotherly Love, yes. Hockey Mom Love, not so much. Notice how the stadium has to raise the volume of the music almost immediately after she gets on the ice. One word, CLAAASSSIICC!!

10/11/2008: Random Bushism Of The Day

"Dick Cheney and I do not want this nation to be in a recession. We want anybody who can find work to be able to find work." --George W. Bush, 60 minutes II, CBS, December 5, 2000

Friday, October 10

Yep, That About Says It All

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New YouTube Feature

Audio button will read your comment aloud before you post.

10/10/08: Random Bushism Of The Day

"And there is distrust in Washington. I am surprised, frankly, at the amount of distrust that exists in this town. And I'm sorry it's the case, and I'll work hard to try to elevate it." --George W. Bush, interview on National Public Radio, Jan. 29, 2007

Get Your War On: The Debate

Get the latest news satire and funny videos at 236.com.

CT Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Gay Marriage

Guardian: In another election year, say 2004 or 2006, I would fear this would gain traction as a wedge issue for the Republicans, and we would see Republican candidates railing against "activist judges" and riling up social conservatives to drive them to the polls. But my sense this year is voters are far too focused on their dwindling retirement portfolios to care whether gays in Connecticut can marry instead of merely civilly uniting.

Huffington Post: The divided court ruled 4-3 that gay and lesbian couples cannot be denied the freedom to marry under the state constitution, and Connecticut's civil unions law does not provide those couples with the same rights as heterosexual couples.

Courant: "In his dissenting opinion, Justice Borden concludes that gay persons are not entitled to protected status because they have too much political power to warrant such protection,'' the majority said. The four justices added that "this conclusion is flawed because, at the time women were accorded protected status under the federal constitution, they possessed more political power than gays in this state currently possess.''

Monday, October 6

10/6/08: Random Bushism Of The Day

"The economy is growing, productivity is high, trade is up, people are working. It's not as good as we'd like, but -- and to the extent that we find weakness, we'll move." --George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., July 15, 2008

Friday, October 3

Australia To Spend Billions For Infrastructure

"The sooner that investment can occur in nation building infrastructure, the sooner we can realise the economic benefits of that investment," says Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese. This is awesome. Why don't our government officials realize that investing in infrastructure actually helps the economy? Jobs, commerce, communications,...why don't they get it? Why do sinkholes have to appear and bridges have to collapse to make our government leaders understand? And why do they forget about the importance after time has passed?

It's just too bad this latest bill did not include something. Too progressive,maybe?

Update: Looks like broadband service will be a starting point. Again, awesome.

Adennak: Sarah Palin Debate Flow Chart

Apparently, Obama Does Not Give Interviews Like McCain

Until this morning, I have avoided watching MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program since well before the Olympics. I would flip to it to see who was on as a guest and tune in for a few minutes and then change the channel. Actually, I didn't even know that they have a new format. Joe and Mika are not sitting together anymore and there are these huge desks everywhere. But, I was reminded about twenty minutes ago why I stopped watching and went to CNN even though their morning program is boring. The people of "Morning Joe" are condescending, accusatory whiners.

Senior Obama Advisor Linda Douglass was just on. Mika Brzezinski asked her why Senator Obama has not done interviews about the economic crisis when Senator McCain was on the show three times in a week. This is of course after Joe Scarborough tossed a random question out there in the previous segment questioning Obama's leadership because he won't do interviews. Douglass mentions that Obama did some rallies where he spoke to thousands and that those speeches were carried on all of the major networks. The "Morning Joe" crew then start yelling about how speeches are not the same as interviews and how the American people deserved to know what Obama's position was. I totally agree with that. Douglass then mentions that Obama did seven interviews two days in a row and three interviews the other day and did "Face the Nation" on Sunday. She said that she didn't understand what they were talking about and she suggested that maybe they were upset because Obama had not been on their show specifically. I think she hit the nail on the head. It seemed like a sore spot for Joe because he became even more pissy after that. Douglass didn't even get a chance to mention that Obama spoke on the Senate floor about his position regarding the bill. McCain did not. Pat Buchanan said something about Obama taking ownership of the bill by his vote and Douglass was quick to respond that McCain did the same.

I find it interesting how disjointed the Republican party is about this bailout bill. Both McCain and Obama held their nose while voting for it. Then, McCain went on "Morning Joe" and said that the President should veto it. All the while, the RNC is running ads accusing Obama of voting for a bad bill - the same bill McCain voted for. This morning on CNN, I saw a 527 ad accusing Obama of voting for the bill because he and other Democrats failed to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Seriously, the ad actually named Reid, Pelosi, Biden, and Obama. It was weird. I just want to shout "McCain voted for the bill!!!" Ugh.

Thursday, October 2

Lazy Time Is Almost Over

I return home tonight from my much needed vacation in Las Vegas. I have thoroughly enjoyed myself. I still woke up before sunrise everyday because, well, I'm weird that way. But all in all, it has been great not having to do anything. I am bummed that I will be at the airport while the debate is on, but I'm hoping I can find a TV somewhere. I will land about 30 minutes after it ends and I have a feeling that my brother's face will tell me how it went.
A few things of note:
1) The Senate's version of the bailout/rescue bill sucks. I can't believe how much crap was put in there. Wooden arrows and rum...are they joking?? I mean, if the Democrats wanted to include some issues they didn't think would pass on their own, why make them so ridiculous? Instead of six million dollars on wooden arrow production, how about solar panel rooftops on schools? Instead of 200 million on rum distribution, how about retrofitting the Brooklyn Bridge or improving broadband service? Why treat it as a joke?
2) STOMP! Out Loud is awesome and surprisingly funny. If you only see one show in Vegas, that's the one.
3) Obama forgot how many years he has been married. He was off by one year when mentioning his anniversary. Wish him luck. Send happy thoughts.
4) I think Rahm Emanuel would be perfect to replace Obama in the U.S. Senate if Obama wins the election. He is awesome. Just a thought.

I'm looking forward to returning home. I miss my friends, I miss my bed, and I left just as I was about to start Season 3 of The Sandbaggers. Notice how I didn't mention work. If the economy wasn't so bad, I would seriously consider living off of my savings for a few months. Alas, reality awaits.

Maddow Accepts McCain's Challenge

Rachel Maddow, you're my heroine.

10/2/08: Random Bushism Of The Day

"When a drug comes in from Canada, I wanna make sure it cures ya, not kill ya... I've got an obligation to make sure our government does everything we can to protect you. And one -- my worry is that it looks like it's from Canada, and it might be from a third world." --George W. Bush, second presidential debate, St. Louis, Mo., Oct. 8, 2004

Wednesday, October 1

NYT Interview With A Somalian Pirate

In case you haven't heard, Somalian pirates have hijacked a Ukranian ship that has weapons on board and a crew of about twenty. The U.S. Navy has them surrounded. Amazingly, Jeffrey Gettleman was able to get an interview with one of the Somalian pirates. This interview is incredible. I have read it five times. The matter-of-fact tone of it seems unreal. There are no parsing of words here - just honest explanations of actions. Whether you agree with the actions or not, you have to appreciate the lack of spin. Here is a little bit:

Q. Are you going to sell the weapons to insurgents?A. No. We don’t want these weapons to go to anyone in Somalia. Somalia has suffered from many years of destruction because of all these weapons. We don’t want that suffering and chaos to continue. We are not going to offload the weapons. We just want the money.
Q. How much? A. $20 million, in cash. We don’t use any other system than cash.
Q. Will you negotiate?A. That’s deal making. Common sense says human beings can make deals.
Q. Right now, the American Navy has you surrounded. Are you scared?A. No, we’re not scared. We are prepared. We are not afraid because we know you only die once.
Q. Will you kill the hostages if attacked? A. Killing is not in our plans. We don’t want to do anything more than the hijacking.
Q. What will you do with the money?A. We will protect ourselves from hunger.

Couric Interview With Palin

So, I have come to a realization lately. The more Gov. Palin says, the more questions I have about her worldview. This final section of her interview with Katie Couric has baffled me. So, I'm gonna put my questions out there -not because I expect them to be answered but because, well, it might make me feel better. Kinda like therapy.

1) Palin considers herself to be a feminist. This answer actually surprised me. Maybe that makes me naive. If you are not supportive of equal pay for equal work, you are not a feminist. If you do not support a woman's right to choose which path to take with her pregnancy, you are not a feminist. If you think a rape victim or incest victim should have no choice but to deliver the baby and put it up for adoption, you are not a feminist.
2) Palin and McCain disagree on drilling in ANWR. She believes it should be drilled for oil, he is against it. Which one caved to form the ticket? Will Palin still talk about drilling there even though McCain disagrees. Will she declare McCain's position when asked about it? If they disagree about this policy detail, how do we know which one will prevail in the administration?
3) I appreciate that she feels it is not so important how global warming happened but that we need to fix it. I guess. I think it is easier to figure out how to fix something if you know what caused it to break, but whatever. Here is what bugs me the most about what she said-"I'm not going to solely blame all of man's activities on changes in climate." Um, what? Um, oookaaay.
Maybe she can get a redo of that sentence at the debate. I know I'm being picky here, but it bugged me.
4) I liked the specificity of Couric's question about abortion, but I still have questions. Palin states that she would choose life in the situation of a 15 year old rape victim who becomes impregnated but her attacker. She feels that the baby should be delivered and put up for adoption. What does that mean? Would she pick Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade or not? And if she is against jail time for women who have illegal abortions, what would the punishment be? Would the doctors be punished? What about the psychological and emotional effects on rape and incest victims forced to carry to term the effect of a violent act? Will there be help offered to cope with that or will they be left to deal with that on their own? And again, not to belabor the issue, but how is this a feminist approach?
5) Palin said that she is a proponent of contraception but she is against abortion and against the morning-after pill. Since she feels that life begins at conception, does she consider the morning-after pill a form of abortion?
6)Palin is the daughter of a former science teacher yet she thinks that man and dinosaurs walked around together starting about 6,000 years ago? How did that happen? I'm intrigued.
7) Palin has a best friend who is gay and she believes that is a choice. I'm glad she doesn't judge people because of their sexual orientation, but the fact that she thinks it is a choice really bugs me. If that were true, there would not be so many suicides and attempted suicides by gays. There would not be such a struggle for equality by gays. And, people like Brandon Teena, Matthew Shepard, and too many others would have chosen to be straight instead of tortured for being gay. This whole "homosexuality is a choice" theory is such crap. It makes me have questions regarding Palin's thoughts on domestic partnerships and civil unions and discrimination. I wish Couric would have asked a few follow up questions. Maybe Gwen Ifill will on Thursday night.
So, there you have it. I have more questions now than before the interview. These are just the ones about domestic policy. Don't get me started on national security, foreign policy, trade...

Tuesday, September 30

Rachel Maddow Interview On AfterEllen.com

This is an excellent interview by Julie Bolcer. Maddow answers questions on a variety of topics:

On her "Talk Me Down" segment: “I don’t get mad because somebody has a different perspective than me,” she explains. “I get mad at people who are screwing things up in the country, and screwing things up in the world. But if you disagree with me about even serious issues, and you’re willing to debate them with me in a civil way without being insulting, I’m going to enjoy that conversation.”

On her looks: “I feel like in terms of what I look like, I’m working in a very visual medium for the first time in my life, and I’m just sort of trying to get by in terms of the basic, the minimum that I need to do visually in order to be allowed to be on television,” she says. “And so I put on the suit, so that I can go on TV. I let the makeup ladies put makeup on me, which they do to their own satisfaction. I don’t pay much attention to it.”

On the importance of being out: “That’s the thing that we owe the people who came before us who are the pioneers, and that’s the thing we owe the next generation of gay people in terms of clearing the way and making life easier for them. I think that there is a moral imperative to be out, and I think that if you’re not out, you have to come to an ethical understanding with yourself why you are not."

Lately, there have been many articles and interviews with Maddow; however, this one is the first one I have seen in a long while that doesn't rehash the same information over and over again. Click on the post title to read in full.

Monday, September 29

To Be Or Not To Be... Specific?

Have you ever compared the campaign websites of John McCain and Barack Obama? Not the style or setup, but the issues pages. I have both opened right now because I thought it would be good to put some comparative position details out there. However, I have come across something rather fascinating: McCain does not mention specific details. No numbers or time frames or even positions really. A lot is mentioned about what he has voted on in the past and past legislation and current views on issues, but not actual plans for the future. It's actually quite stunning. For example:

John McCain's Higher Education Policy:Simplify Higher Education Tax Benefits The existing tax benefits are too complicated, and many eligible families don’t claim them. By simplifying the existing benefits, I can ensure that a greater number of families have a lower tax burden when they are helping to send their children to college.

Barack Obama's Higher Education Policy:Create the American Opportunity Tax Credit: Obama and Biden will make college affordable for all Americans by creating a new American Opportunity Tax Credit. This universal and fully refundable credit will ensure that the first $4,000 of a college education is completely free for most Americans, and will cover two-thirds the cost of tuition at the average public college or university and make community college tuition completely free for most students. Recipients of the credit will be required to conduct 100 hours of community service.

Notice the difference? To be fair, McCain has a whole page to the specific topic of higher education with six subsections. However, not a single subsection has details or even a single number. Here's another example in education regarding teachers:

McCain:Quality Instruction
A primary objective is to ensure that every instructor in an early learning or care program has strong preparation with an emphasis on performance and outcomes as measured by student development. To attract quality instructors, efforts must be made to bring income parity to qualified instructors in these programs and their counterpart’s elementary school system. As President, Senator McCain will promote the replication of professional development programs with a proven record of preparing our children for kindergarten and encourage more research to determine what skills and training make the most difference for young children.As President, John McCain will require all federally supported preschool programs to offer a comprehensive approach to learning that covers all significant areas of school readiness, notably literacy/language development, as well as math readiness and key motor and social skills.

Obama:America's Teachers
Recruit Teachers: Obama and Biden will create new Teacher Service Scholarships that will cover four years of undergraduate or two years of graduate teacher education, including high-quality alternative programs for mid-career recruits in exchange for teaching for at least four years in a high-need field or location.
Prepare Teachers: Obama and Biden will require all schools of education to be accredited. Obama and Biden will also create a voluntary national performance assessment so we can be sure that every new educator is trained and ready to walk into the classroom and start teaching effectively. Obama and Biden will also create Teacher Residency Programs that will supply 30,000 exceptionally well-prepared recruits to high-need schools.

Is McCain afraid to commit to specifics? Or, does he just not have any? I know it's always easier to be generic, but this is ridiculous.

Friday, September 26

Rachel Maddow's Rules For Debate Drinking Game

An expected 100 million people will watch tonight's presidential debate. Will you be one of them? Even your friends who are not interested in politics will enjoy it if you incorporate the drinking game!

NOTE: you can of course drink something non-alcoholic but if you do choose to go the booze route Rachel suggests beer or a half-strength high ball: one ounce of booze in an eight-ounce glass filled with ice and topped with seltzer.
drink once...
if mccain says:prison vietnam table chair
drink twice...
if mccain says "marie the flame of florida"
drink once if obama says...anything about protecting main street and not just wall street
drink once if either candidate...uses jim lehrer's first name in an answer
drink once if obama...uses the phrase mccain-bush or bush-mccain
drink once if mccain says...my friends
drink twice if...obama displays his most presidential ability -- being able to do two things at once -- by patting his head and rubbing his tummy at the same time
drink twice if...anyone says "first dude"
drink twice if...anyone's cellphone goes off and it's giuliani's wife calling
drink once if...obama references that in order to capture bin laden you have to go not to the gates of hell but rather to a country that rhymes with shmakisatan
drink everything in the house if...governor palin shows up in mccain's place
quit drinkin forever if...mccain declares war on someone new (iraq, afghanistan, russia and iran don't count since he's already done the deed with them)

PopMech: The Candidates' Infrastructure Plans

This is a short article about the differences between Obama and McCain's plans regarding infrastructure. Here is a short snippet under the topic of electric grids:

Backing clean coal and the seemingly inevitable tide of plug-in hybrids aren't exactly unique political choices, which might help explain the policy overlap. But drilling into the specifics of each campaign's energy infrastructure plans, the differences are clear. On the topic of electricity generation, McCain is making nuclear power a priority, with a stated goal of building 45 new plants by 2030. He hopes to eventually have 100 U.S.-based nuclear power plants to rival the number planned for Russia, India and China combined. Renewable generation sources, such as wind and solar, are generally supported by McCain, but his campaign has yet to lay out a detailed plan. Obama's proposal for boosting generation is, in many ways, the inverse of McCain's. Additional nuclear power will be considered, but the emphasis is on renewables. Obama's plan calls for renewables to supply 10 percent of the nation's power by 2012, and 25 percent by 2025. To fund that push for wind, solar and other alternative energy sources, Obama proposes investing $150 billion over 10 years.

The other topics are dams/levees and roads/bridges. For an incredible article about the details of transforming our infrastructure, check out this by Eric Lofge.

I have become a weird infrastructure geek over the past 14 months since the I35W Bridge collapse. I consider myself to be relatively smart but it honestly never occurred to me that bridges in America could do that. I remember what happened to some bridges after the Northridge earthquake in 1996, but that was a natural disaster. Bridges falling down had always seemed like something only in morbid songs for kids. I have written other link posts here , here and here about infrastructure if you are interested. Also, Intrepid Liberal Journal had a well-written piece I will link to again because it was that good.