December 31, 2006

Just 1 away from 3,000

U.S. Deaths Confirmed By The DoD: 2987
Reported U.S. Deaths Pending DoD Confirmation: 12
Total: 2999
DoD Confirmation List
Latest Coalition Fatality: Dec 30, 2006

Link

Presidential Caucus 2008

To the left I have started an "official" Democratic presidential caucus 2008 roll. Note: only officially declared candidates with active web sites will be listed. As the field grows, so will the list.

December 30, 2006

John Edwards' Reno Town Hall

Anjeanette Damon is back for a month and covered the John Edwards Town Hall at the Grand Sierra Resort last night. She did a pretty good job of getting the feel of the town hall in this story, though I do disagree with her crowd estimate which security had tagged at around 2500. Don't forget to check out the comments. Also posted are excerpts from reporters' Q & A with Edwards following the town hall.

I worked with the Washoe Dems to get rural turnout for the event (attendees came from as far as Elko!) ...and we plan on doing this for every presidential candidate to northern Nevada, so no favorites are being played here. The Edwards people were hoping for 500 to show up. So were we. We were nervous about the holiday season timing, the event being held on a Friday night, etc. But by Friday afternoon we knew that there would be much more than the original 500 hoped for, but even we were blown away by the turnout. To all of you who stood in that Disneyland-length line, and then crowded in the back of the ballroom, to those of you who gave your seats to others, thank you! I am so glad that northern Nevadans showed that we are indeed ready to participate fully in the presidential caucus.

I got to handle one of the mikes at the town hall event, and the questions that were raised, from the fairness doctrine, to the deficit, to immigration, civil unions, education, etc, showed an engaged Democratic party whose questions were not about their own personal lot, but about our nation as a whole. Y'all made me real proud.

On Edit: Give Anjeanette some love (or at least some attention) over at Inside Nevada Politics. The place got a bit deserted after the November election.

December 29, 2006

Is it already too late?

I have been really concerned about our relatively mild winter and lack of precip here in Nevada. I've got rose bushes that still haven't lost their leaves, and until the recent cold snap, bushes that have attempted to bud (twice so far this season). Is this just one more piece in the puzzle?

From the Huffington Post this article about a huge mass of the Canadian Arctic ice shelf breaking off. Experts attribute it to global warming.

The Ayles Ice Shelf — all 41 square miles of it — broke clear 16 months ago from the coast of Ellesmere Island, about 500 miles south of the North Pole in the Canadian Arctic.

[...]

The ice shelf was one of six major shelves remaining in Canada's Arctic. They are packed with ancient ice that is more than 3,000 years old. They float on the sea but are connected to land.

Some scientists say it is the largest event of its kind in Canada in 30 years and that climate change was a major element.

"It is consistent with climate change," Vincent said, adding that the remaining ice shelves are 90 percent smaller than when they were first discovered in 1906. "We aren't able to connect all of the dots ... but unusually warm temperatures definitely played a major role."
A commenter at HuffPo posted a link to this article about a inhabited island completely submerged by rising ocean levels.
Rising seas, caused by global warming, have for the first time washed an inhabited island off the face of the Earth. The obliteration of Lohachara island, in India's part of the Sundarbans where the Ganges and the Brahmaputra rivers empty into the Bay of Bengal, marks the moment when one of the most apocalyptic predictions of environmentalists and climate scientists has started coming true.

As the seas continue to swell, they will swallow whole island nations, from the Maldives to the Marshall Islands, inundate vast areas of countries from Bangladesh to Egypt, and submerge parts of scores of coastal cities.

Eight years ago, as exclusively reported in The Independent on Sunday, the first uninhabited islands - in the Pacific atoll nation of Kiribati - vanished beneath the waves. The people of low-lying islands in Vanuatu, also in the Pacific, have been evacuated as a precaution, but the land still juts above the sea. The disappearance of Lohachara, once home to 10,000 people, is unprecedented.
In Al Gore's documentary on global warming, An Inconvenient Truth (if you haven't seen it, do), he speaks of the inevitability of these sorts of events if we do nothing. Well, we've been doing nothing (won't even sign on to Kyoto!), and now the chickens are coming home to roost.

Can we reverse this? I don't know. But could we at least try? This isn't a right or left issue. This is about our survival as a species...hell, as a planet...we're not just talking human survival here.

December 27, 2006

John Edwards to be in Reno on Friday

John Edwards will be making a stop in northern Nevada (Las Vegas misses out on this one) on Friday, December 29th at the Silver State Pavilion at the Grand Sierra Resort (the Hilton!) at 5:30pm. Admission is free.

You can pick up tickets at the Lyon County Dem office, 15 E Main, Suite 5 in Fernley on Wednesday and Thursday between 1pm and 5pm, or on Friday between 10am and 2pm. Or download a ticket by clicking here. Call (775) 575-1133 for more info.

You can also pick up tickets at the following places:

  • Washoe Dem office at 1465 Terminal Way, Suite 1, Reno
  • Comma Coffee at 312 S Carson in Carson City
  • Shady Grove Coffee Company at 1411 Highway 395 North in Gardnerville

Can you see the similarities?

Oh my gosh. I just read this article today which because of its age will soon disappear behind the NYT's firewall. Therefore, I am going to reprint in its entirety. The similarities between Bush and Ahmadinejad are striking, don't you think? (Emphasis mine)

December 21, 2006
Iran President Facing Revival of Students’ Ire
By NAZILA FATHI

TEHRAN, Dec. 20 — As protests broke out last week at a prestigious university here, cutting short a speech by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Babak Zamanian could only watch from afar. He was on crutches, having been clubbed by supporters of the president and had his foot run over by a motorcycle during a less publicized student demonstration a few days earlier.

But the significance of the confrontation was easy to grasp, even from a distance, said Mr. Zamanian, a leader of a student political group.

The student movement, which planned the 1979 seizure of the American Embassy from the same university, Amir Kabir, is reawakening from its recent slumber and may even be spearheading a widespread resistance against Mr. Ahmadinejad. This time the catalysts were academic and personal freedom.

“It is not that simple to break up a president’s speech,” said Alireza Siassirad, a former student political organizer, explaining that an event of that magnitude takes meticulous planning. “I think what happened at Amir Kabir is a very important and a dangerous sign. Students are definitely becoming active again.”

The protest, punctuated by shouts of “Death to the dictator,” was the first widely publicized outcry against Mr. Ahmadinejad, one that was reflected Friday in local elections, where voters turned out in droves to vote for his opponents.

The students’ complaints largely mirrored public frustrations over the president’s crackdown on civil liberties, his blundering economic policies and his harsh oratory against the West, which they fear will isolate the country.

But the students had an additional and potent source of outrage: the president’s campaign to purge the universities of all vestiges of the reform movement of his predecessor, Mohammad Khatami.

Last summer the newly installed head of the university, Alireza Rahai, ordered the demolition of the office of the Islamic Association, which had been the core of student political activities on campus since 1963 and had matured into a moderate, pro-reform group.

Since then, students say, more than 100 liberal professors have been forced into retirement and many popular figures have been demoted. At least 70 students were suspended for political activities, and two were jailed. Some 30 students were given warnings, and a prominent Ph.D. candidate, Matin Meshkin, was barred from finishing his studies.

The students also complain about overcrowded and crumbling dormitories and proscriptions against women wearing makeup or bright colors, rules that were relaxed when Mr. Khatami came to power in 1997.

Amir Kabir University of Technology, a major polytechnic institute, has been a hotbed of student activism since before Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s Islamic Revolution of 1979. Drawing on networks at universities around the country through an office that links their Islamic associations, students can organize large protests on a moment’s notice. There are also student guilds, which are independent, and more than 2,000 student publications.

Mr. Zamanian, the head of public relations of the Islamic Association at Amir Kabir, said that
while the situation had not been ideal in the Khatami years, Mr. Ahmadinejad’s antireformist campaign had led students to value their previous freedoms.

They were permitted to hold meetings and invite opposition figures to speak, he said, and could freely publish their journals. Now, he said, their papers are forbidden to print anything but reports from official news agencies.

The students also complain about the president’s failure to deliver economic growth and jobs.
At last week’s protest, which coincided with a now infamous Holocaust conference held by the Foreign Ministry, students chanted, “Forget the Holocaust — do something for us.”

A student who identified himself only as Ahmad, for fear of retribution, said: “A nuclear program is our right, but we fear that it will bring more damage than good.”

Another student said: “It is so hard and costly to come to this university, but I don’t see a bright future. Even if you are lucky enough to get a job, the pay would not be enough for you to pay your rent.”

Mr. Zamanian said that the protest had not been planned ahead of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s visit, but that
students were further enraged when they saw supporters of the president being bused in.

Although the auditorium was almost filled with the president’s supporters by the time any students were let in, the protesters forced their way inside, chanted, “Death to the dictator,” and held banners calling him a “fascist president.” They also held up posters of the president with his picture upside down and set fire to three of them. Many of the students are now in hiding.

At one point, the head of a moderate student guild complained to Mr. Ahmadinejad that students were being expelled for political activities and given three stars next to their names in university records, barring them from re-entering. The president responded by ridiculing him, joking that the three stars made them sergeants in the army.

The president was eventually forced to cut his speech short and leave. But angry students stormed his car, kicking it and chanting slogans. His convoy of four cars collided several times as they tried to leave in a rush. Eventually the students were dispersed.

An entry on Mr. Ahmadinejad’s Web log, posted Wednesday, played down the scale and significance of the protest, writing that the president had a “good feeling when he saw a small group amid the dominant majority insulting him without any fear.”

A few days after the protest, former Amir Kabir students affiliated with the Islamic associations’ coordinating office wrote a letter to Mr. Ahmadinejad. In it, they turned down what they said was his invitation to share their problems with him, because they believed that he wanted to use the occasion to bolster his candidates in the local elections.

The students also wrote that the president had insulted their intelligence by talking to them in the same language he uses in remote villages on his provincial trips. [I always think that Bush talks to us like he thinks we are five years old.]

“You should know that what happened at Polytechnic University was the voice of universities and the real voice of the people,” they wrote. Tehran Polytechnic was the university’s name before the revolution.
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit for research and educational purposes.

Rest in Peace, Gerald Ford

Oh, yes, you are hearing that from my progressive lips. I was in high school when Gerald Ford became president. Gerald Ford came into office with none of the taint of the Nixon administration. I remember him pardoning Nixon, and the draft dodgers as well. I remember his clutziness, etc. But mostly, I remember Betty and Susan. Betty, with her outspokenness, (often at odds with her husband's public views), her breast cancer and later, her recovery from alcohol. Susan wrote a column for Seventeen magazine of which I was an avid reader. Jack Ford went on to be an soap actor. It seemed to me that America liked the Fords because they were real and open. They had disagreements and problems, just like the rest of us. But mostly, they were a welcome relief from the years before.

My sympathy to the Ford family.

December 26, 2006

Authenticity vs Sincerity

From behind the firewall at the New York Times comes this piece by guest columnist Orlando Patterson. I have bolded a couple of parts that especially spoke to me.

Our Overrated Inner Self
By ORLANDO PATTERSON

In the 1970s, the cultural critic Lionel Trilling encouraged us to take seriously the distinction between sincerity and authenticity. Sincerity, he said, requires us to act and really be the way that we present ourselves to others. Authenticity involves finding and expressing the true inner self and judging all relationships in terms of it.

Authenticity now dominates our way of viewing ourselves and our relationships, with baleful consequences. Within sensitive individuals it breeds doubt; between people it promotes distrust; within groups it enhances group-think in the endless quest to be one with the group’s true soul; and between groups it is the inner source of identity politics.

It also undermines good government. James Nolan, in his book “The Therapeutic State,” has shown how the emphasis on the primacy of the self has penetrated major areas of government: emotivist arguments trump reasoned discourse in Congressional hearings and criminal justice; and in public education, self-esteem vies with basic literacy in evaluating students. The cult of authenticity partly accounts for our poor choice of leaders. We prefer leaders who feel our pain, or born-again frat boys who claim that they can stare into the empty eyes of an ex-K.G.B. agent and see inside his soul. On the other hand we hear, ad nauseam, that Hillary Clinton, arguably one of the nation’s most capable senators, is “fake” and therefore not electable as president.

But it is in our attempts to come to grips with prejudice that authenticity most confounds. Social scientists and pollsters routinely belittle results showing growing tolerance; they argue that Americans have simply learned how to conceal their deeply ingrained prejudices. A hot new subfield of psychology claims to validate such skepticism. The Harvard social psychologist Mahzarin Banaji and her collaborators claim to have evidence, based on more than three million self-administered Web-based tests, that nearly all of us are authentically bigoted to the core with hidden “implicit prejudices” — about race, gender, age, homosexuality and appearance — that we deny, sometimes with consciously tolerant views. The police shootings of Amadou Diallo and Sean Bell, they argue, are simply dramatic examples of how “implicit prejudice” influences the behavior of us all.

However well meaning these researchers, their gotcha psychology is morally invasive and, as the psychologist Philip Tetlock has cogently argued, of questionable validity and use. It cannot distinguish between legitimate apprehension and hateful bigotry as responses to identical social problems. A fearful young black woman living in a high-crime neighborhood could easily end up with a racist score. An army of diversity trainers now use Banaji’s test to promote touchy-feely bias awareness in companies, which my colleague Frank Dobbin has shown to be a devious substitute for minority promotions.

I couldn’t care less whether my neighbors and co-workers are authentically sexist, racist or ageist. What matters is that they behave with civility and tolerance, obey the rules of social interaction and are sincere about it. The criteria of sincerity are unambiguous: Will they keep their promises? Will they honor the meanings and understandings we tacitly negotiate? Are their gestures of cordiality offered in conscious good faith?

Scholars like Richard Sennett and the late Philip Rieff attribute the rise of authenticity to the influence of psychoanalysis, but America’s protestant ethos and its growing intrusion in public life may be equally to blame. Whatever the cause, for centuries the norm of sincerity presented an alternate model of selfhood and judgment that was especially appropriate for non-intimate and secular relations. Its iconic expression is the celebrated passage from Shakespeare: “All the world’s a stage,/ And all the men and women merely players./They have their exits and their entrances,/ And one man in his time plays many parts.”

Shakespeare’s “self” is inescapably public, fashioned in interaction with others and by the roles we play — what sociologists, building on his insight, call the looking-glass self. This allows for change. Sincerity rests in reconciling our performance of tolerance with the people we become. And what it means for us today is that the best way of living in our diverse and contentiously free society is neither to obsess about the hidden depths of our prejudices nor to deny them, but to behave as if we had none.

Orlando Patterson, a professor of sociology at Harvard, is a guest columnist.
Self-aware, moral people, of whom I attempt to count myself, know that they can sometimes hold thoughts that are antithetical to the way they want to present themselves and, more importantly, how they want to be. Most religions attempt to address and remedy this struggle between the "spirit" and the "flesh." Whatever one's source of moral guidance, be it religion or one's own conscience, surely we can all stop trying to divine a person's authenticity and look instead at their sincerity. Do their deeds match their words? This seems an infinitely better criteria to judge a person, don't you think?

December 24, 2006

This is fun

I found this over at Thoughts, Raves and Outright Beatings. An interesting diversion on a Christmas Eve morning in which I should be doing other things...

Take the quiz: Which Historical Lunatic Are You?

My results:

You are Joshua Abraham Norton, first and only Emperor of the United States of America!

Born in England sometime in the second decade of the nineteenth century, you carved a notable business career, in South Africa and later San Francisco, until an entry into the rice market wiped out your fortune in 1854. After this, you became quite different. The first sign of this came on September 17, 1859, when you expressed your dissatisfaction with the political situation in America by declaring yourself Norton I, Emperor of the USA. You remained as such, unchallenged, for twenty-one years.

Within a month you had decreed the dissolution of Congress. When this was largely ignored, you summoned all interested parties to discuss the matter in a music hall, and then summoned the army to quell the rebellious leaders in Washington. This did not work. Magnanimously, you decreed (eventually) that Congress could remain for the time being. However, you disbanded both major political parties in 1869, as well as instituting a fine of $25 for using the abominable nickname "Frisco" for your home city.

Your days consisted of parading around your domain - the San Francisco streets - in a uniform of royal blue with gold epaulettes. This was set off by a beaver hat and umbrella. You dispensed philosophy and inspected the state of sidewalks and the police with equal aplomb. You were a great ally of the maligned Chinese of the city, and once dispersed a riot by standing between the Chinese and their would-be assailants and reciting the Lord's Prayer quietly, head bowed.

Once arrested, you were swiftly pardoned by the Police Chief with all apologies, after which all policemen were ordered to salute you on the street. Your renown grew. Proprietors of respectable establishments fixed brass plaques to their walls proclaiming your patronage; musical and theatrical performances invariably reserved seats for you and your two dogs. (As an aside, you were a good friend of Mark Twain, who wrote an epitaph for one of your faithful hounds, Bummer.) The Census of 1870 listed your occupation as "Emperor".

The Board of Supervisors of San Francisco, upon noticing the slightly delapidated state of your attire, replaced it at their own expense. You responded graciously by granting a patent of nobility to each member. Your death, collapsing on the street on January 8, 1880, made front page news under the headline "Le Roi est Mort". Aside from what you had on your person, your possessions amounted to a single sovereign, a collection of walking sticks, an old sabre, your correspondence with Queen Victoria and 1,098,235 shares of stock in a worthless gold mine. Your funeral cortege was of 30,000 people and over two miles long.

The burial was marked by a total eclipse of the sun.

December 23, 2006

On Bipartisanship

Bob Geiger nails it.

On Snowe-Landrieu Bipartisan Initiative: Kiss My Democratic Ass

Nausea alert: Do not read this on a full stomach if you're a Progressive, who has had it up to your eyeballs with some elected Democrats regularly accepting prison shower-room, Ned-Beatty-in-'Deliverance' treatment from Republicans and then meekly saying "Thank you, sir, may I have some more?"

. . .

Landrieu and Lieberman have sidled right up alongside Alexander and Snowe, making grand statements about how it's time to come together and guessing -- incorrectly -- what message the American people delivered in a loud, clear voice on election day. And, like the weak-kneed centrists they are, their capitulation is very much akin to the wife who reunites with her abusive husband because he mumbles "I'm sorry, baby" after breaking her nose for the third time.

Isn't it convenient for Snowe, Alexander and other Republicans to initiate this transparent maneuver and now extend a hand across the aisle for something other than slapping Democrats? Isn't it just freakin' amazing that this change of heart comes right when they are voted out of the majority on a clear mandate of the people and now have to themselves face the legislative life Democrats have lived for years?

And true to their ongoing status as political followers and not leaders, Landrieu and Lieberman -- putting aside the fact that Holy Joe can no longer even be considered a Democrat -- lap it right up and forget who it is that over the last few years would not have pissed across the aisle if a Democrat was on fire.

. . .

In a joint letter to their Senate colleagues, Snowe and Landrieu tried to speak for the country and said that Americans "… are tired of the extremes on both sides pulling us apart, paralyzing effective action. That was a clear message of the 2006 elections."

Nonsense.

By voting for such a colossal shift in the House of Representatives and giving Democrats control of the Senate in a massive and rare six-seat pickup, Americans said one thing and one thing only to Republicans: "We want Democratic leadership and we don't want you in charge any longer." Period.

They didn’t say we like some of what you've done the last few years -- they said we like none of what you've done. So why in the world would any Democrat interpret that landslide endorsement for complete change as such a watered-down, half-and-half order?

Excellent rant. Read it all.

December 22, 2006

Exactly.

profmarcus over at And, yes, I DO take it personally, articulates my feeling perfectly.

i have thought for some time that part of the reason bush and his criminal counterparts continue to remain seriously unchallenged is that the media and the american people simply cannot bring themselves to grasp the astonishing breadth and depth of perfidy that they have perpetrated... it falls so far outside what we consider the "normal paradigm" of governmental behavior, we reject it out of hand...

Thanks Kari!

I sent a quick email to Kari Chisholm over at Lefty Blogs and he fixed it so that Blue Lyon is again showing up on the BlogWire to the right. Looks like some of my older stuff is cycling through. It may take some time to shake it all out.

Local stuff - John Edwards, Dentists, DRAC and more...

Save the date! Friday, December 29th - John Edwards is coming to Reno for a "Special Event and Town Hall Meeting." (hmmm) Location: The Grand Sierra (formerly the Hilton). Time: early evening, exact time to be announced shortly.

Even though I won't be giving up my Reno dentist (great dentist and a real hottie to boot) this is very good news for Silver Springs folks.

The Lyon County Commission has decided on the new DRAC members (my friend made it), but a member is still needed from District 4. This is the new area south of Hwy 50 at the eastern end of Dayton. If you live in the area and are interested in serving on the board, contact the County Manager's office.

I did: Most Lyon property owners to see hikes in assessed valuation Our neck of the woods really saw a hike. I about dropped my postcard from the Assessor's office. Fortunately, taxes are capped.

Land in southern Silver Springs is being factored also. Factoring became the only option here, Glass reported, and the Assessor was given a factor of 2.35 from the State Department of Taxation for land values in that area. Though quite high, that factor proved to be conservative in the sense that it only barely brings the area into ratio tolerance, Glass said
The Nevada Appeal has a good round up of Lyon County's top stories for 2006.

Okay...time to go get my Christmas cards done...yeah, they're going to be late.

December 20, 2006

Harry makes a turnaround

Hmmm...sounds like Senator Reid got a bunch of letters like this one. According to his blog over at The Huffington Post, he says he is NOT backing a "surge" in troops.

Santa gets grilled by Goren

Oh...this is perfect. As a Law and Order junkie, I give this a ten.

I feel a draft...

According to this article in today's NY Times, we haven't even reached the troop levels authorized by Congress in the wake of September 11th. And now Bush wants to increase troop levels even more? I may not be a military genius, but I know of only one way they are going to accomplish this.

Congress authorized a 30,000-soldier increase in the active-duty Army after the Sept. 11 attacks — when the Army stood at about 484,000 — in what was described as a temporary measure. Army officials say they hope to reach that authorized total troop strength of 514,000 by next year and would like to make that a permanent floor, not a ceiling.

To that end, the Army already has drawn up proposals to grow to up to 540,000, with some retired officers advocating an even larger increase.

The active-duty Army peaked at 1.6 million troops during the Korean conflict [with a draft] and stood at just below that figure during the war in Vietnam [with a draft], before hovering around 800,000 for much of the 1970s and 1980s, according to Pentagon statistics. Following the first Persian Gulf war, which coincided with the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, the Army’s active-duty force dropped first to below 600,000 and then below 500,000 before the increases ordered after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Any decision to increase the size of the Army and the Marine Corps would do little to meet the need for more troops should Mr. Bush order a significant increase of American forces in Iraq in 2007, as it takes considerable time to recruit, train and deploy new troops. Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, said last week that the Army could probably grow by only 6,000 to 7,000 soldiers per year.
It may take considerable time to RECRUIT...but the local Draft Boards are staffed and ready, aren't they? According to this timeline, the first inductees must be ready to go by about six months after the institution of the draft.

George can start the ball rolling by sending Jenna and Barbara to the nearest recruiting station.

This is the sort of thing MoveOn does best

Sign the petition. Send a message to Congress to address the climate crisis immediately.

December 17, 2006

YOU are Time's Person of the Year

Okay...this is quite cool.

But look at 2006 through a different lens and you'll see another story, one that isn't about conflict or great men. It's a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before. It's about the cosmic compendium of knowledge Wikipedia and the million-channel people's network YouTube and the online metropolis MySpace. It's about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes.

The tool that makes this possible is the World Wide Web. Not the Web that Tim Berners-Lee hacked together (15 years ago, according to Wikipedia) as a way for scientists to share research. It's not even the overhyped dotcom Web of the late 1990s. The new Web is a very different thing. It's a tool for bringing together the small contributions of millions of people and making them matter. Silicon Valley consultants call it Web 2.0, as if it were a new version of some old software. But it's really a revolution.

And we are so ready for it. We're ready to balance our diet of predigested news with raw feeds from Baghdad and Boston and Beijing. You can learn more about how Americans live just by looking at the backgrounds of YouTube videos -- those rumpled bedrooms and toy-strewn basement rec rooms -- than you could from 1,000 hours of network television.

And we didn't just watch, we also worked. Like crazy. We made Facebook profiles and Second Life avatars and reviewed books at Amazon and recorded podcasts. We blogged about our candidates losing and wrote songs about getting dumped. We camcordered bombing runs and built open-source software.


More at link.

December 16, 2006

Bits from the blogosphere

Desert Beacon comments on Gibbons' transition team.

Featheriver has a snarky take on Bob Beers' proposal to arm teachers.

Steve Sebelius connects the dots.

No Safe Place is just a nice place to stop in, despite what its name implies. Great thought from Ghandi, a Peter Boyle video, and for baseball fans, Bubba's take on who should be in the Hall of Fame, and more...

Being white...and afraid of my own kind

Coyote Angry rocks the house...again.

So there it is, I'm afraid of my "own kind". I don't trust you, especially not in large groups. When I see a group of you I can only believe you are discussing who to scalp next. Who to destroy in the name of preserving your "traditional values". Which values are those? The ones about killing people who have something you want to take? The ones about non-whites being thieves who just want to rob you or take your jobs? Exactly which freaking values are you trying to protect, please tell me because I have no idea. The only thing I see us being "traditionally" really good at is kicking the crap out of everyone who isn't us and smacking them back down if they have the nerve to complain.

Getting testy

When oh when am I going to start showing up on Lefty Blogs?

Local stuff

It would be nice to see Dayton get the funding for this project. According to the dead tree edition of the Dayton Leader-Courier (12/13/06), the grant application has been approved for submission, but the competition is tight. I like Old Town Dayton and would love to see it spruced up. Now, if they could work out the parking issue!

The Silver City Community Center rebuild is inching along. The bid documents should go out to potential bidders sometime in January, possibly due back by mid-February. Hmm...this gives me pause (again, from the paper edition of the the LC, 12/13/06):

District Attorney Leon Aberasturi had recommended the alternate bid process with a design without a basement (slab on grade). He said this way they could see for sure which design was cheaper, with the basement or the slab on grade foundation.

In addition, there would be alternates including prevailing wage and not prevailing wage, depending on how it proceeds. If it were a county project it would have to require prevailing wage, but if it had been a project under the insurance adjuster, as had been proposed for some time, then the prevailing wage requirement wouldn't be necessary.
It stinks that the insurance plan wouldn't require prevailing wage. Geez, regardless of what plan the school house is rebuilt, let's at least give the folks that do it a decent wage!

I know two of the candidates for the DRAC board. Interviews on Monday.

In Fernley, the City Council has generously decided that primary elections for aren't such a bad idea. This was one of the biggest complaints I heard in the last election cycle. There were six candidates for mayor. Whether it was the underlying reason for the City Council's original decision to not hold a primary, amongst Fernley citizens it was widely assumed that the primary was cancelled to protect the incumbents (especially Hizzoner David Stix). Oops. Not so much.

I want whatever it is that out-going Lyon County Sheriff Sid Smith is smoking. In an article addressing the possibility of a new county jail in Silver Springs or Stagecoach, Smith continued to make the case that the new jail should be built in Yerington because:
"...future growth would head south to the Yerington and Mason Valley areas. He said, “Someday it will grow down here.”

Uh. No, it's not.

Not even the same coin...

I just finished reading two articles in today's New York Times. At first it feels like they could be considered two sides of the same coin, but they're not. One story is about the treatment of people convicted of nothing, the other about convicted criminals. Yet, two sides of our humanity are on display.

The first article is about the detainees at Guantanamo and the new security crackdown there. Remember, these detainees have been convicted of NOTHING. That means nothing to the commander at Guantanamo who has appointed himself judge and jury:

The commander of the Guantanamo task force, Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., said the tougher approach also reflected the changing nature of the prison population, and his conviction that all of those now held here are dangerous men. “They’re all terrorists; they’re all enemy combatants,” Admiral Harris said in an interview.

He added, “I don’t think there is such a thing as a medium-security terrorist.”
And then I read this heartening article:
Gov. Jeb Bush yesterday suspended all executions in Florida, citing a troubled execution on Wednesday and appointing a commission to consider the humanity and constitutionality of lethal injections.

Hours later, a federal judge ruled that the lethal injection system in California violated the constitutional prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.


I realize that the death penalty will probably be brought back in both these states, especially California, where all they have done is order the state to find a "nicer" way to execute convicted murderers. The Florida commission is charged with looking not only at the constitutionality of lethal injections, but the humanity of them as well. I have higher hopes for this approach.

I oppose the death penalty because mistakes are (and have been) made and how do you go back if you have made one? I also oppose the death penalty because, and this is where I show a bit of a mean streak, I feel that death is an easy out for those who are truly guilty of heinous crimes. I think they should be locked up until the end of their natural lives with the basics of three meals and a cot. No frills, no parole, just time, lots of empty time, stretching out before them. Why should they escape prison? The families of those they have murdered are given no such luxury. They will grieve their loss until their dying day.

December 15, 2006

It's not nice to fool Mother Nature

Wow. This is amazing. Breat cancer rates are falling dramatically. Why? It is theorized that the discontinuation of hormone therapy in post-menopausal women following the disastrous results of the Pempro study is the key ingredient. Seems that breast cancer thrives on estrogen, and continuing to take it after your body has stopped producing it isn't such a good thing.

I had never been a big fan of HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) as it seemed to imply that women's aging is a disease rather than the natural course of events (note, there is no corresponding treatment for aging men). The release of the study's results in 2002 clinched it for me and I figured that I was going to have to just embrace my crone-ness when the time came. This story assures me that I have made the right decision.

December 14, 2006

Send some good wishes to Senator Tim Johnson

Here.

The shape of the table

Y'all remember the Paris Peace Talks? Who remembers how long it took to negotiate the "peace" in Viet Nam? Lawrence O'Donnell has a great piece up at The Huffington Post.

When I first heard President Bush accuse Democrats of wanting to "cut and run" from Iraq, I knew that America was going to cut and run from Iraq. When a war turns so bad that an American president feels compelled to start warning against cutting and running, the clock starts ticking on when we actually will cut and run. The Nixon administration spent five years figuring out how to cut and run from Vietnam and managed to get more American soldiers killed during Kissinger's utterly pointless "peace" negotiations and the withdrawal period than were killed during Lyndon Johnson's full-on war period.
I wasn't that old, but I remember the Paris Peace Talks. The one thing that sticks out in my mind was how long they fought over the shape of the table. In the meantime, people died.

The ISG delayed releasing their report until after the election. From the gitgo it was obvious Bush had no intention of listening to the ISG. When asked about Baker and the ISG Bush replied, "He [Baker] can go back to his day job." (CBS News, 12/6/06) Bush promised us a speech before Christmas about where we are going from here. Well, maybe not...looks like it will be sometime in January. (Before or after the SOTU?) Maybe. Bush doesn't want to be "rushed."

Now George Bush doesn't want to rush. Now George Bush wants to "listen" (if by "listen" you mean "being told what he wants to hear.")

He isn't listening. He's stalling. He's got nothing except More War.

He's waiting until after Christmas to give us the bad news that is already leaking out. We're gonna double down (LAT). We're staying the course, and then some. But without a draft where are those soldiers going to come from? Why the National Guard, of course. You did see this morning's RGJ, didn't you?

In the meantime...people are dying.

Rest In Peace


Peter Boyle, you will be missed.

Of course, this is Franklin's idea

I am speechless. Ruth and Billy Graham are getting up in years. Like sensible people they are making arrangments for their final resting place. Bit of a family squabble, to put it mildly. Of all of Ruth and Billy's children, Franklin is the most right-wing reactionary wingnut, so this idea of his falls into the category of What Else Would You Expect...

But at this moment everyone's attention is on the visitor, crime novelist Patricia Cornwell, who is talking about a memorial "library" that the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, headed by Franklin, is building in Charlotte. Cornwell toured the building site and saw the proposed burial plot. She was asked by Ned, who opposes Franklin's choice, to come and give his father her impression.

"I was horrified by what I saw," she tells Billy, in the presence of a reporter invited to be there.

The building, designed in part by consultants who used to work for the Walt Disney Co., is not a library, she says, but a large barn and silo -- a reminder of Billy Graham's early childhood on a dairy farm near Charlotte. Once it's completed in the spring, visitors will pass through a 40-foot-high glass entry cut in the shape of a cross and be greeted by a mechanical talking cow. They will follow a path of straw through rooms full of multimedia exhibits. At the end of the tour, they will be pointed toward a stone walk, also in the shape of a cross, that leads to a garden where the bodies of Billy and Ruth Graham could lie.

Throughout the tour, there will be several opportunities for people to put their names on a mailing list.

"The whole purpose of this evangelistic experience is fundraising," Cornwell says to Billy Graham. "I know who you are and you are not that place. It's a mockery. People are going to laugh. Please don't be buried there."

[...]

Billy Graham, who has Parkinson's disease, sits erect in an orthopedic chair, dressed in pressed bluejeans and a pale yellow pullover. His famous rugged face remains impassive except for something Ned notices: He's grinding his teeth.

His dad, he says, does this when he's upset. And why wouldn't he be?

Washington Post via MSNBC

Really...is it 1984?

New controls on publishing research worry US government geological unit's scientists (International Herald Tribune)

From the article:

..."I feel as though we've got someone looking over our shoulder at every damn thing we do. And to me that's a very scary thing. I worry that it borders on censorship," said Jim Estes, an internationally recognized marine biologist who works for the geological unit. "The explanation was that this was intended to ensure the highest possible quality research," said Estes, a researcher at the agency for more than 30 years. "But to me it feels like they're doing this to keep us under their thumbs. It seems like they're afraid of science. Our findings could be embarrassing to the administration."

The new requirements state that the USGS's communications office must be "alerted about information products containing high-visibility topics or topics of a policy-sensitive nature."

The agency's director, Mark Myers, and its communications office also must be told — prior to any submission for publication — "of findings or data that may be especially newsworthy, have an impact on government policy, or contradict previous public understanding to ensure that proper officials are notified and that communication strategies are developed."

[...]

The changes amount to an overhaul of commonly accepted procedures for all scientists, not just those in government, based on anonymous peer reviews. In that process, scientists critique each other's findings to determine whether they deserve to be published.

From now on, USGS supervisors will demand to see the comments of outside peer reviewers' as well any exchanges between the scientists who are seeking to publish their findings and the reviewers.

And there is this:

EPA shortens science reviews, angering some (LA Times)
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday streamlined the way it updates regulations for the nation's worst air pollutants, a move that drew immediate charges that officials are trying to quash scientific review to benefit industry at the expense of public health.

The changes, some of which closely mirror requests by the American Petroleum Institute and Battery Council International industry groups, include shortening what is now an exhaustive scientific review, and replacing recommendations prepared by career scientists and reviewed by independent advisors with a "policy paper" crafted by senior White House appointees at the agency.

Young George W.

Tony Auth

Stuff I don't understand

Was this necessary? Read the article and check out the photos.

...Gaza International Airport has come to represent a barometer of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Ten years ago, in the aftermath of the Oslo peace accords, the airport was a symbol of hope. International aid money paid the £50 million construction costs.

President Bill Clinton attended the ceremonial opening and for more than two years Palestinian Airlines flew to Cairo, Ankara, Amman and elsewhere.

But when the second intifada — or Palestinian uprising — began in late 2000, Israel sent combat engineers to dig holes in the runway and blow up the radar. The planes moved to Amman.

The main terminal building, VIP hall and control tower were left untouched and for years 400 or so employees of the Civil Aviation Authority turned up for work each day, hoping the airport would one day reopen.

Those hopes lay in ruins yesterday along with the shards of glass and masonry littering the terminal floor.

December 7, 2006

"The poor will be with you always..."

Wow. This is just incredible.

12 million suburbanites live in poverty

The suburban poor outnumbered their inner-city counterparts for the first time last year, with more than 12 million suburban residents living in poverty, according to a study of the nation's 100 largest metropolitan areas released Thursday.

[...]

Marc H. Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, said many of the same social and economic problems that have plagued cities for years are now affecting suburbs: struggling schools, rising crime and low-paying jobs.

I miss Bill, episode 343

Sigh. What a stark contrast.

HANOI, Vietnam - Former President Clinton was swarmed for autographs, handshakes and photographs on the streets of Hanoi Wednesday by throngs of admirers whose warm welcome contrasted sharply with the restrained reception given President Bush last month.
This really says what the two men are all about:
Bush didn't emerge from inside tight security to mingle with crowds during his four-day visit to attend the 21-nation Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

Outside of official meetings, the president's touring included a visit to Vietnam's stock exchange, where he struck a gong to open a day of trading. He then met with a group of Vietnamese and American businessmen.

Clinton came to Hanoi to sign an agreement with the Vietnamese government under which his Clinton Foundation will increase the amount of pediatric drugs it is providing to Vietnamese children living with HIV and AIDS.

[...]

Followed by Secret Service agents and Vietnamese police, Clinton stopped along a half-mile route to chat with his Vietnamese admirers before making his way to an art gallery in Hanoi's Old Quarter and then to the tomb of Ho Chi Minh, who led Vietnam's communist revolution.

After he and Health Minister Tran Thi Trung Chien signed the pediatric AIDS agreement, Clinton took part in a discussion about AIDS with several university students and a young woman living with HIV.
Whaddya want to bet he actually participated in a back and forth discussion?

December 3, 2006

Local stuff

As someone who has to navigate Fernley a lot, I would love to see more sense put into the construction of connecting streets.(Leader-Courier)

Otherwise, they could end up with the same sort of problems Dayton is facing now with regards to bridges and alternate access roads. There is one bridge that crosses the Carson River and if that were to get blocked or washed out there'd be a whole lot of Daytonians stranded. There are no frontage roads and an accident on Hwy 50 brings everyone to a standstill.

We moved to this neck of the woods after certain areas of Silver Springs were converted to sewer (at the cost of the resident, from what we know) and now people are being cut-off for delinquent accounts. So their sewer is shut off. Their septic tanks, as I understand it, are illegal. Exactly what are they supposed to do when nature calls?

This is fun

Interesting little quiz that I found over at konagod.

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Literate Good Citizen

You read to inform or entertain yourself, but you're not nerdy about it. You've read most major classics (in school) and you have a favorite genre or two.

Book Snob
Dedicated Reader
Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Fad Reader
Non-Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

Now this I would watch!

Fitting of the day...David Kuo, posts at the Huffington Post and challenges Dobson and Colson to an on-air debate. There are a few comments that had me laughing out loud. Like this one:

David, since you emerged on the scene I have admired you to no end, but challenging Dobson and Colson to an on air debate?

I cry foul!

Have you no mercy?

Have you no compassion?

Maybe add in Pat Roberston and Jerry Falwell, but even going up against all four of these intellectual and ethical giants, these paragons of Christian virture, I think maybe you'd need to debate them while you were drunk to give them half a chance to effectively counter your arguments.
You will recall that Kuo is the author of Tempting Faith, a book I have bought but haven't read yet (still working on Thom Hartmann's Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class).

Blogger is acting funny this morning, and I am doing the HTML tags myself. My apologies for any boo-boos.

December 1, 2006

Something New (for me, anyway)

I've been noticing this new addition to Desert Beacon's blogroll for a bit, but hadn't clicked on the link until today. I am definitely adding Coyote Angry to my blogroll and daily blog clicks. An irreverent truth-teller. My kind of person!

November 30, 2006

Great post by Desert Beacon

I tried to leave a comment, but the internets were acting up (or the tubes were clogged). Anyhoo, DB posted a fabulous piece about the Bush Adminstration and governance vs gamesmanship. DB nails it.

David Sirota rocks

"But here's the deal, folks - just because you read sociopathic claims on your op-ed pages from the Washington opinionmaking machine about how violence is supposedly "therapeutic," how we should supposedly bring Saddam Hussein back to power, how voters suppposedly shouldn't be able to make choices in America and how new Senators have no right to tell the President they want the troops home - remember, that doesn't make these claims truthful or acceptable out here in the real world, and it doesn't make you crazy for thinking that the people who make these claims ARE crazy."
This is classic. Go. Read it. (Hat tip to profmarcus)

Tidbits

This is really good news: Clinton’s Foundation Brokers AIDS Deal (NYT)

So is this: 3 who starved kids get maximum prison terms (RGJ). I have no words or pity for these people. Spare me the crocodile tears you bastards. Of course, a better punishment would have been to chain and lock them inside bathrooms, starve and beat THEM for the duration of their sentences, but that would probably be considered "cruel and inhuman" treatment.

And just what the hell is wrong with some people? Lyon sheriff seeks Fernley vandals

Something to keep our eye on: Leukemia-cluster children share gene variation (Appeal)

Tom Vilsack (IA) has announced his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. He is doing a five state tour, including Nevada. Small problem and one that I hope isn't repeated: He's going to Las Vegas (on Sunday). Omigosh...color me surprised (not)! Attention Democratic hopefuls, please, help build our party statewide, and your credibility as well, by paying attention to ALL of Nevada. You might be surprised by what you find outside of Vegas.

Harry's Agenda

Minimum Wage...good. Stem cell research...good. Ethics reform...also good. I just know there has to be room in there for Iraq. Of course, first they have to take care of the budget that the Republicans appear to have left undone.

"They're just leaving town, it appears," Reid said from his office in the Capitol. "We hope that's not the case, but it appears that's what they are going to do. And so we're going to have to find a way to fund the government for the next year."

The must-pass legislation totals more than $460 billion and promises to divert time and energy from other items on the Democratic agenda.
I do like this:
"We're going to put in some hours here that haven't been put in in a long time," Reid said. That means "being here more days in the week and we start off this year with seven weeks without a break. That hasn't been done in many, many years here."
Of course, all of Bush's talk of bipartisanship is, as I knew it would be, just so much smoke blown up our collective hind-end.
Reid said he hopes that President Bush is willing to work with the Democratic congressional leadership, but the early signs have not been encouraging. He said the White House has not reached out to him since his meeting with Bush in the Oval Office on Nov. 10. "Sorry to say," Reid said.
I am positive that young George W. Bush's report card read, "Does not play well with others."

November 29, 2006

I heart Mark Morford

Oh yes, sometimes he is a bit much. But he's had a vacation and is back in fine style taking on BushCo's newest abstinence program. This column had me laughing out loud.

Sex Will Make You Go Blind Single? Under 30? You are in grave danger. Your government says so. Please, stop laughing

"In the deadliest attack . . ."

Will we ever stop hearing these words? From the photo caption to the accompanying story (AP):

"Smoke rises from damaged vehicles after a car bombing in the Sadr City area of Baghdad in this image taken from TV Thursday Nov. 23, 2006. In the deadliest attack on a sectarian enclave since the beginning of the Iraq war, suspected Sunni-Arab militants used five car bombs and two mortar rounds on the capital's Shiite Sadr City slum to kill at least 157 people and wound 257 on Thursday, police said. (AP Photo/AP Television) "
Doesn't it seem like every attack these days is "the deadliest" one?

And in the meantime, America loses influence in Iraq

Damn. Pick a group. They all hate us, or at the least, feel betrayed by us.

Deeper Crisis, Less U.S. Sway in Iraq (NYT)

“Politically, their position is weaker in all aspects,” Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish leader, said of the Americans. “They just got weaker and weaker, and many more people who were supporting them are supporting them less.”

[...]

Meanwhile, the political process has almost completely ground to a halt. Mr. Maliki’s “national reconciliation plan,” intended to reduce violence through dialogue and an amnesty program for militia fighters and insurgents, has stalled.

Political leaders have also made little progress on promises to review the new Constitution, a document resented by Sunnis, and a plan to draft a new law that will set terms for the divisions of oil revenues that account for 90 percent of Iraq’s economy.

Saleh Mutlak, a Sunni legislator, was blunt in his assessment of the government: “Do you not recognize that it’s going backwards?”

Sectarian rifts between the nation’s political leaders have deepened. During a session of Parliament last week, prominent Sunni and Shiite legislators bitterly accused each other of sectarianism and promoting violence. President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, has warned fellow leaders about the possible collapse of the state. And even the Shiite leaders who control the government have taken to conspiring among themselves, with open jockeying for the succession if Mr. Maliki should fall.

What a mess. Even more at link.

NYT: NSA memo about Maliki doubts his ability to quell violence in Iraq

This is quite interesting. One has to wonder why the memo got released/leaked the day of Maliki and Bush's meeting in Jordan.

My thought is that they have been laying the groundwork for sometime to blame the Iraqi leadership for its failure to quell the violence. This memo seems to cement that. I mean, it couldn't be related at all to our invasion and occupation. As always, the blame can NEVER be laid at the feet of this administration. They are perfect, doncha know.

Most troubling, it appears Mr. Maliki's Shia heritage may be holding him back on being even-handed in dealing with the participants in the civil war.

In describing the Oct. 30 meeting between Mr. Hadley and Mr. Maliki, it says: “Maliki reiterated a vision of Shia, Sunni and Kurdish partnership, and in my one-on-one meeting with him, he impressed me as a leader who wanted to be strong but was having difficulty figuring out how to do so.” It said the Iraqi leader’s assurances seemed to have been contradicted by developments on the ground, including the Iraqi government’s approach to the Mahdi Army, a Shiite militia known in Arabic as Jaish al-Mahdi and headed by Moktada al-Sadr.

“Reports of nondelivery of services to Sunni areas, intervention by the prime minister’s office to stop military action against Shia targets and to encourage them against Sunni ones, removal of Iraq’s most effective commanders on a sectarian basis and efforts to ensure Shia majorities in all ministries — when combined with the escalation of Jaish al-Mahdi (JAM) killings — all suggest a campaign to consolidate Shia power in Baghdad. ..."

Among the concerns voiced in the memo was that Mr. Maliki was surrounded by a small group of advisers from the Shiite Dawa Party, a narrow circle that American officials worry may skew the information he receives.
Oy. Pot meet kettle. On the other hand, the memo doesn't say anything about us getting out, instead it suggests sending more troops while at the same time, we assist Maliki in a bit of a coup.
. . . But the memo’s authors also contemplate the possibility that Mr. Maliki’s position may be too tenuous for him to take the steps needed to curb the power of Shiite militias, to establish a more diverse and representative personal staff and to arrest the escalating sectarian strife.

In that case, the memo suggests, it may ultimately be necessary for Mr. Maliki to recast his parliamentary bloc, a step the United States could support by pressing moderates to align themselves with the Iraqi leader and providing them with monetary support.
So, let me see if I have this. That election that Mr. Bush crows about all the time can be wiped out. Maliki dissolves the parliament, and they have a new election? With candidates backed by the U.S.? Am I reading this right? And one wonders, are there any moderates left in Iraq?

Full text of memo here.

On Edit: After reading the full text of the memo, it indicates that there would be no need to have a new election, just persuasion of moderate blocs within the current parliament. So then the question has to be, are there enough moderates for Maliki to get a majority if he turns his back on the more extreme elements of the legislative body? An even better question: What happens if Maliki isn't up to Bush's muster? Do we stage a coup and install our own guy? Someone who can knock a few heads together and make the Iraqi's behave? You know, sort of a strong man.

November 25, 2006

Couple of tidbits

Thanks to Desert Beacon for this piece by David Halberstam who talks about the similarities and differences being a reporter during the Viet Nam war and the current debacle in Iraq.

Tom Englehart prints in full a stunning article from the December 21st issue of the New York Review of Books. It's a long read, but well worth it.

There are 16,000 single mothers in Iraq. This Washington Post story chronicles the deployment and home-coming of one of them.

“To dismiss this as a technical correction is to overlook the structural reasons why the U.S. dollar is having a very hard time these days,”

It's really easy to ignore this sort of stuff...but we do so at our peril.

Dollar Falls Sharply Against Euro and Pound

The dollar dropped sharply yesterday against a range of major currencies, with the euro breaking through $1.30 for the first time in a year and a half. The fall highlighted concerns about softness in the American economy as economies abroad continue to expand.

The currency sell-off came as investors weighed a number of issues that complicate the prospects of the United States in the coming months, including a huge trade imbalance with China and a slowing domestic housing market. On top of that, economic growth in some European countries is gaining momentum, threatening to siphon investment away from the dollar.

[...]

“To dismiss this as a technical correction is to overlook the structural reasons why the U.S. dollar is having a very hard time these days,” said Hans Redeker, global head of currency strategy at BNP Paribas in London.

Economists say the United States is in a vulnerable position compared with its global competitors. While the most recent data show that the trade imbalance tightened in September, the decline was largely a result of falling oil prices. The deficit between what Americans import and export was a negative $586.2 billion for the first nine months of the year, and it remains on track to break last year’s record of a negative $716.7 billion. The biggest chunk by far represents imports from China.

[...]

Analysts said that the dollar’s drop yesterday, which was accelerated by orders from traders to sell automatically once it fell past $1.30 against the euro, reflected a growing anxiety over Chinese economic policy. China’s central bank holds a large amount of American currency, and speculation has intensified recently that it could begin selling off dollars to avoid being burned if the dollar collapses.

Also lurking behind the dollar’s depreciation is the rising probability, in the view of some economists and currency investors, that a slowing American economy will force the Federal Reserve to begin cutting borrowing costs next year.

Against the backdrop of a European Central Bank that seems determined to tighten rates further next year, the appeal of dollar-denominated assets is falling as the prospect of higher returns in Europe rises.

More at link.

November 17, 2006

Where are the stories about the fractured Republicans?

As I suspected, the MSM just won't let go of this "Democrats are Divided" meme of theirs.

Today's NYT reports that John Boehner has been "overwhelmingly" elected Minority Leader in the House of Representatives and the Republicans elected "their leaders in less dramatic fashion than Democrats ..."

Oh really? As I recall, Nancy Pelosi was elected unanimously. I guess you could call that dramatic. Yes, there was a contest for Majority Leader. Yes, pressure was brought to bear and debts called in on both sides. But in the end, it was an election. All parties accepted the result, unity was shown by all. The Dems moved on.

On the other hand, John Boehner was challenged by Mike Spence and was elected by 168 to 27. If we were to follow the MSM logic, that should mean that the Republicans are fractured, that
Boehner doesn't really have the support of the Republican caucus. In addition, there was a contest for Minority Whip (Roy Blunt vs John Shadegg - vote: 137 to 57) so surely there must be some hand wringing by the reporter about splits within the Republican party and how John Boehner had been publicly humiliated by the vote. Right? Right?

Sigh...

The worst part? In a story that is ostensibly about the election of John Boehner and the Republican leadership, the reporter gives seven paragraphs to the subject of the headline and twenty-nine paragraphs to the "Democrats are Divided" storyline.

Arrgh!!! (Banging head against keyboard)

(On Edit) - Glenn Greenwald has something to say about this phenomenon. (Thanks to DKos)

The Bush administration has spent six years completely obsessed with personal loyalty to the President and intolerant of the slightest independence. The entire Congress was kept strictly in line for the last five years. Every official who showed the slightest independence was replaced by obedient Bush loyalists. Yet Pelosi does nothing other than support an ally rather than an opponent for the position immediately underneath her, and that makes her some out-of-control egomaniac consumed by personal vanity and emotional impulses.

And that's to say nothing of the fact that the Hoyer-Murtha race is being depicted as some sort of sign of hateful Democratic in-fighting that shows Pelosi has lost control, even though Republicans are mauling each other for every single House leadership position, all of which are hotly contested. Trent Lott beat Lamar Alexander by a vote of 25-24 in the Senate for the position of Minority Whip. There's nothing wrong with various factions competing for leadership positions. That's called an "election," and only those to whom Eric Alterman refers as the "smart boys" at TNR and Slate would view a simple election for House Majority Leader as some apocalyptic sign that Democrats are lame, idiotic and hopelessly divided.

November 16, 2006

Checking out the new digs, Blogger and in DC

I just made the shift today to the new Blogger. I haven't yet explored all the new bells and whistles, but I already like the "New Post" feature on the dashboard.

In the meantime, Grandma Nancy is elected Speaker of the House and Steny Hoyer is elected Majority Leader. I am happy on both counts. I appreciate him for his principled turn-about on Iraq and I know he will continue to be a strong voice for our military and veterans, but Majority Leader? No. I love Jack Murtha, but on this one I will agree with Al Franken ... we need to be as squeaky clean as we can, and Abscam aside, CREW's listing of Jack Murtha as a Congress-critter that has some ethical issues...well, electing him Majority Leader would have been a lousy message to send.

Oh, and this guy needs to go.

In the meantime, the press will play this up as the usual, "Democrats Divided!! Pelosi handed her first defeat!! Weakened Democrats limp into Congress!!"

Whatever. Obviously, none of these pundits have ever attended a state or county Democratic meeting (or even visited a Democratic household!). This is normal! Lots of views, lots of ideas. Gotta love it. It can make us crazy, but it also keeps us coming back.

November 15, 2006

A Liberal's Pledge to Disheartened Conservatives

This appeared in my email this morning from Michael Moore. You can sign the pledge here.

To: Conservatives and Republicans

I, and my fellow signatories, hereby make these promises to you:

1. We will always respect you for your conservative beliefs. We will never, ever, call you "unpatriotic" simply because you disagree with us. In fact, we encourage you to dissent and disagree with us.

2. We will let you marry whomever you want, even when some of us consider your behavior to be "different" or "immoral." Who you marry is none of our business. Love and be in love -- it's a wonderful gift.

3. We will not spend your grandchildren's money on our personal whims or to enrich our friends. It's your checkbook, too, and we will balance it for you.

4. When we soon bring our sons and daughters home from Iraq, we will bring your sons and daughters home, too. They deserve to live. We promise never to send your kids off to war based on either a mistake or a lie.

5. When we make America the last Western democracy to have universal health coverage, and all Americans are able to get help when they fall ill, we promise that you, too, will be able to see a doctor, regardless of your ability to pay. And when stem cell research delivers treatments and cures for diseases that affect you and your loved ones, we'll make sure those advances are available to you and your family, too.

6. Even though you have opposed environmental regulation, when we clean up our air and water, we, the Democratic majority, will let you, too, breathe the cleaner air and drink the purer water.

7. Should a mass murderer ever kill 3,000 people on our soil, we will devote every single resource to tracking him down and bringing him to justice. Immediately. We will protect you.

8. We will never stick our nose in your bedroom or your womb. What you do there as consenting adults is your business. We will continue to count your age from the moment you were born, not the moment you were conceived.

9. We will not take away your hunting guns. If you need an automatic weapon or a handgun to kill a bird or a deer, then you really aren't much of a hunter and you should, perhaps, pick up another sport. We will make our streets and schools as free as we can from these weapons and we will protect your children just as we would protect ours.

10. When we raise the minimum wage, we will pay you -- and your employees -- that new wage, too. When women are finally paid what men make, we will pay conservative women that wage, too.

11. We will respect your religious beliefs, even when you don't put those beliefs into practice. In fact, we will actively seek to promote your most radical religious beliefs ("Blessed are the poor," "Blessed are the peacemakers," "Love your enemies," "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God," and "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."). We will let people in other countries know that God doesn't just bless America, he blesses everyone. We will discourage religious intolerance and fanaticism -- starting with the fanaticism here at home, thus setting a good example for the rest of the world.

12. We will not tolerate politicians who are corrupt and who are bought and paid for by the rich. We will go after any elected leader who puts him or herself ahead of the people. And we promise you we will go after the corrupt politicians on our side FIRST. If we fail to do this, we need you to call us on it. Simply because we are in power does not give us the right to turn our heads the other way when our party goes astray. Please perform this important duty as the loyal opposition.

I promise all of the above to you because this is your country, too. You are every bit as American as we are. We are all in this together. We sink or swim as one. Thank you for your years of service to this country and for giving us the opportunity to see if we can make things a bit better for our 300 million fellow Americans -- and for the rest of the world.

November 13, 2006

Rahm is a God!

Oh my. A follow-up to my post below. This post by Chris Bowers over at MyDD is a hoot.

Rahm Won Everything

Rahm won the House of Representatives for Democrats, but it didn't stop there.

Rahm also won the four Republican-held House seats where the DCCC candidate lost the primary, but where the primary winner went on to take the seat anyway.

Rahm raised all the money for the DNC, and was actually every small donor who contributed to the DNC.

Rahm was every donor to Act Blue.

Carol Shea Porter is actually Rahm.

Rahm won us back six Governorships. Hell, he had groomed Deval Patrick from birth for the 2006 elections.

Rahm defeated the gay marriage ban in Arizona.

Rahm took back nine state legislative Houses.

Rahm not only runs MoveOn.org, but he is all 3.3 million people on their email list.

Rahm rigged voting machines so my write-in for Democratic state committee was a certain success.

Bill Clinton learned everything he knows from Rahm.

It gets better. More at link.

November 11, 2006

Credit where credit is due

The NYT and the Washington Post are quick to label Chuck Schumer and Rahm Emmanuel as the "architects" of Tuesday's victories. But there was someone else's leadership and vision that was critical to victories in parts of the country that we had not seen a victory in for a long, long time. Howard Dean's 50-State Strategy put organizers on the ground, long before these candidates were viable, and helped to put in place an infrastructure that would assist these long shots. Cartoonist Steve Kelly gets it:



Thrilled as I was at Tuesday night's victory parties, I was appalled that I did not see Howard Dean standing alongside Schumer, Emmanuel, Pelosi, Reid, et al. Geez! Was he just not invited?

And every interview I have seen, Howard Dean has graciously shared this victory with Schumer and Emmanuel. Unfortunately, any acknowledgement by Schumer or Emmanuel that Howard's crazy idea that having a national party operating in all fifty states year round MIGHT have contributed to our win, has to be literally dragged out of them and seems grudging at best. Sad. Yes, there was a wave that swept across this nation on Tuesday. And yes, the DSCC and the DCCC provided great surfers. But Howard...he provided the boards and the wax.

November 9, 2006

I feel like I am breathing fresher air...

Sure I am disappointed with the results in Lyon County and CD2. But overall, I am happy. Statewide we snagged four of the six Constitutional offices. Color me happy that our Secretary of State going into the 2008 election is a Democrat. (Ross...could you please get cracking on that statewide voter database that Heller was supposed to have had operational in January?...oh, and voter verifiable paper trails on ALL machines by Election Day 2008, please!!!)

On a national level I am ecstatic that we have both houses of Congress. I am thrilled that the MSM is actually starting to talk about the Democratic Plan to raise the minimum wage, institute all the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, to work toward health care for all Americans, re-tool the horrendous Medicare D prescription drug plan, middle class tax relief and to get America working for the common good again, not just the privileged few. Yeah, I know, the plan was there before the election, they were just too busy talking about how the Democrats didn't have a plan to notice that we did.

It feels like the winds of change are clearing out the smog of the last six years. It feels like we are at last awakening from our long national nightmare.

But we are just at the beginning. I hope and pray that first and foremost, this Congress will meaningfully reform elections in this country. That it become federal law any vote cast on an electronic voting machine MUST have a voter verifiable paper trail, and that random audits by non-partisan boards must be done, regardless of margins of victory.

I believe our Democratic House and Senate can walk and chew gum at the same time. So while they are busy implementing their agenda for improving the lives of average Americans, I expect to see meaningful investigations to uncover the truth about the run-up to the war, to conduct oversight of no-bid contracts, to find out why billions of dollars has gone missing in Iraq, find out who Bush and Co are spying on with their warrantless wire-tapping program (and ahem, enforce the FISA laws with regards to wiretaps), torture allegations and secret prisons, etc, etc, etc. No, this will be no witchhunt. Democrats won't be insisting on getting Bush's Christmas card list, or how much postage he is spending (that's what Republicans do to Democrats).

We've got some serious problems. And we need some serious solutions. Now that the Dems are in charge, the Republicans say they want to work across the aisle. Heh. All those rules that they put in place to shut out the Democrats may very well come back to bite them in the ass. But...probably not. You see, Dems really do believe in finding common ground and coming up with common sense solutions that will benefit the greatest good. So let's just wait and see if the Republicans are able to do it. If their actions over the past twelve years is any indication, I wouldn't hold my breath.

November 7, 2006

It's not too late to volunteer

After you have voted (and dragged everyone YOU know to the polls), you can still help out with your local GOTV efforts.

In Lyon County call (775) 575-1133 or stop by the Dem office at 15 E Main, Suite 5 in Fernley. They'll find something for you to do. If you are from outside the Fernley area and want to help, there are efforts in Yerington and Dayton. Call the office and you will be directed to the proper place.

VOTE

From my email box:

Today most people will simply vote and go home.

That's not enough. Whether you're voting today or you've voted early or absentee already, what you do today could determine the outcome of this election The power is in your hands -- by getting as many people to vote as you can, you'll bring a change to our country and end Republican rule.

The conversations you have today, the extra few minutes you take to bring someone who might not otherwise vote with you to the polls, the follow-up with your friends, family and neighbors to make sure they have voted -- all of it will multiply the power of your single vote.

We've also put together the resources you need to spread the Democratic message and reach as many people as possible. Here are just a few a couple of those resources:

Last-Minute Volunteers

The best way to volunteer at the last minute is to call your local Democratic Party: http://www.democrats.org/volunteer/call

Print Your Own Flyers

The Democratic Agenda: http://www.democrats.org/agendaVoter Protection Info: http://www.democrats.org/voterprotection

There's another thing I want you to be aware of as your and your neighbors head to the polls today.

There have already been widespread reports of voter suppression by Republican operatives, ranging from apparently legal harassment of Democratic voters to potentially illegal efforts to keep voters away from the voting booth.

This isn't new for Republicans. It's a cynical art that the Republican machine has refined for years, and each election brings new variations on oldtactics that target minorities and minority-heavy areas.

Here's what you need to know:

1) If you're a registered voter, do not leave your polling location without voting. Every registered voter is entitled to cast a provisional ballot.
2) If you're in line before the poll's closing time, you are entitled to vote.
3) You're entitled to view a sample ballot at the polling place before voting.
4) If you experience any problems voting or observe any irregularities, immediately call the Nevada Hotline at 1-866-737-3367 to report the incident. In addition to providing your polling place information, by calling 1-866-737-3367 you can record a complaint or speak with an election protection monitor.

You can also report any voting irregularities or problems online:
http://www.democrats.org/voterprotection/report
Democrats are committed to ensuring that every rightful voter has the freedom to cast his or her ballot free from intimidation or undue burden, and we've deployed voter protection teams across the country to make sure that's possible today.

There's one more thing I want to tell you.

Today is not the end of anything. All the Democrats we elect, from city council to Congress to governor, will still have a lot of work to do after they take the oath of office in January.

And so will we, the committed Democrats who have promised to build a new kind of political party that doesn't evaporate after each election.

For the first time in our party's history, we're prepared to take the investments we made to win an election and turn them into permanent investments in our party.

We've spent millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours to turn a year and a half of work on our 50-state strategy into an unprecedented 50-State Turnout operation.

We've seen in the last few weeks the dramatic impact we can have when we fight in places the Republicans take for granted. We've made a demonstrable difference in this election and laid the groundwork for future gains in even the most "red" parts of the country. When the final results are in, we'll report to you on the impact it's impact.

But right now you still have the opportunity to do something about this election.
Please take that opportunity while you can.

Thank you.

Governor Howard Dean, M.D.

P.S. -- If anyone who hasn't been paying attention to this election until today asks you what Democrats stand for, point them right here: http://www.democrats.org/agenda

November 3, 2006

Friedman - Insulting our troops, and our intelligence

Whoa. Thomas Friedman lays it to the Bush administration in today's NYT. From behind the firewall:

George Bush, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld think you’re stupid. Yes, they do.

They think they can take a mangled quip about President Bush and Iraq by John Kerry — a man who is not even running for office but who, unlike Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, never ran away from combat service — and get you to vote against all Democrats in this election.

Every time you hear Mr. Bush or Mr. Cheney lash out against Mr. Kerry, I hope you will say to yourself, “They must think I’m stupid.” Because they surely do.

They think that they can get you to overlook all of the Bush team’s real and deadly insults to the U.S. military over the past six years by hyping and exaggerating Mr. Kerry’s mangled gibe at the president.

What could possibly be more injurious and insulting to the U.S. military than to send it into combat in Iraq without enough men — to launch an invasion of a foreign country not by the Powell Doctrine of overwhelming force, but by the Rumsfeld Doctrine of just enough troops to lose? What could be a bigger insult than that?

What could possibly be more injurious and insulting to our men and women in uniform than sending them off to war without the proper equipment, so that some soldiers in the field were left to buy their own body armor and to retrofit their own jeeps with scrap metal so that roadside bombs in Iraq would only maim them for life and not kill them? And what could be more injurious and insulting than Don Rumsfeld’s response to criticism that he sent our troops off in haste and unprepared: Hey, you go to war with the army you’ve got — get over it.

What could possibly be more injurious and insulting to our men and women in uniform than to send them off to war in Iraq without any coherent postwar plan for political reconstruction there, so that the U.S. military has had to assume not only security responsibilities for all of Iraq but the political rebuilding as well? The Bush team has created a veritable library of military histories — from “Cobra II” to “Fiasco” to “State of Denial” — all of which contain the same damning conclusion offered by the very soldiers and officers who fought this war: This administration never had a plan for the morning after, and we’ve been making it up — and paying the price — ever since.

And what could possibly be more injurious and insulting to our men and women in Iraq than to send them off to war and then go out and finance the very people they’re fighting against with our gluttonous consumption of oil? Sure, George Bush told us we’re addicted to oil, but he has not done one single significant thing — demanded higher mileage standards from Detroit, imposed a gasoline tax or even used the bully pulpit of the White House to drive conservation — to end that addiction. So we continue to finance the U.S. military with our tax dollars, while we finance Iran, Syria, Wahhabi mosques and Al Qaeda madrassas with our energy purchases.

Everyone says that Karl Rove is a genius. Yeah, right. So are cigarette companies. They get you to buy cigarettes even though we know they cause cancer. That is the kind of genius Karl Rove is. He is not a man who has designed a strategy to reunite our country around an agenda of renewal for the 21st century — to bring out the best in us. His “genius” is taking some irrelevant aside by John Kerry and twisting it to bring out the worst in us, so you will ignore the mess that the Bush team has visited on this country.

And Karl Rove has succeeded at that in the past because he was sure that he could sell just enough Bush cigarettes, even though people knew they caused cancer. Please, please, for our country’s health, prove him wrong this time.

Let Karl know that you’re not stupid. Let him know that you know that the most patriotic thing to do in this election is to vote against an administration that has — through sheer incompetence — brought us to a point in Iraq that was not inevitable but is now unwinnable.

Let Karl know that you think this is a critical election, because you know as a citizen that if the Bush team can behave with the level of deadly incompetence it has exhibited in Iraq — and then get away with it by holding on to the House and the Senate — it means our country has become a banana republic. It means our democracy is in tatters because it is so gerrymandered, so polluted by money, and so divided by professional political hacks that we can no longer hold the ruling party to account.

It means we’re as stupid as Karl thinks we are.

I, for one, don’t think we’re that stupid. Next Tuesday we’ll see.
(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit for research and educational purposes)