January 31, 2007

Rest in Peace Molly Ivins

Molly Ivins has left us. Tribute at The Texas Observer. I'm gonna miss her. We all are. From her final column, dated January 26th:

We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we’re for them and trying to get them out of there. Hit the streets to protest Bush’s proposed surge. If you can, go to the peace march in Washington on Jan. 27. We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, “Stop it, now!”

Check DailyKos for some really great tributes to this wonderful woman.

Democrats gaining ground

As posted over at DailyKos, a summary of 2006 Gallup polls shows Democrats gaining ground as more voters self-identify as Democrat or leaning Democrat and as less voters self-identify as Republican or leaning Republican. The post shows state by state results and I'm especially pleased to see Nevada's shift. Below is a summary of gains and losses by Democrats. Bolded states went for Bush in 2004.

States where Republicans no longer have an edge: Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee.

States where Democrats have gained an edge: Delaware, Florida, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin

States where both took place: Arizona, Indiana, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma,
Virginia

States where Democrats lost an edge: Louisiana

Outing myself

In a post a few days ago, I noted that I would be at the Douglas County dinner and would be hearing both Bill Richardson and Wes Clark speak. At the time I said that I would be giving my impressions of both speakers. However, since then I've had to reconsider doing so, and here's why. This is my personal blog, but there are a number of you out there who already know who I am and the rest of you deserve to know as well. I work for the Democratic Party. I serve all Democrats in nine rural counties in northern Nevada and as such it is critical that I maintain public neutrality on the presidential race. I fear that if I tell you what I think about a candidate or something they have said, there is a possibility that some bias may shine through, no matter how carefully I choose my words.

So. I will continue to talk about candidates coming to northern Nevada, talk about what I see on their web pages, point you to places where you can learn more about these candidates. But I won't be telling you who I like, don't like, lean toward, lean from, anything. You'll never see me at a candidate sponsored event or fundraiser. The only events I'll attend will be Democratic or other organization events to which multiple candidates have been invited.

I will continue to post as I have. You'll still get to hear when I am ticked about some new or continuing outrage foisted on us by George Bush and his enablers. I may even start tracking which candidates individual Nevada bloggers are supporting (maybe). But you will never know who I am supporting for the Democratic nomination. And just to make it clear, I have yet to make a decision --- January 2008 is a long way off. I've got lots of research and listening to do.

It's all our fault!

George Bush is out on his Econo-palooza Tour and spoke today before a group of business leaders and took on the wage gap and exhorbitant executive pay.

The president acknowledged people's continuing nervousness about their financial picture, despite a string of similar reports that provide some reason for optimism. He said some workers are being left behind in the booming economy and the disparity between the rich and the poor is growing.

''The fact is that income inequality is real. It has been rising for more than 25 years,'' the president said. ''The earnings gap is now twice as wide as it was in 1980,'' Bush said, adding that more education and training can lift peoples' salaries.
If it's really an education and training problem, then why is Bush cutting student aid and training programs?

And you know what? We ARE willing to get trained, if need be, for the Next Big Thing, our Job of the Future. For surely, our native intelligence and can-do spirit that has worked for us so well in generations past will get us where we need to go. We are the United States! Leader in science, technology, and innovation! So we craned our necks and looked down the road for the Next Big Thing. But we see nothing. The Next Big Thing is going to be, has to be, alternative energy and biotech. But the Bushies and his corporate cronies, along with the superstitious fundies that control his party, have ignored pleas for a national Apollo Project for alternative fuels, denied the science of global warming, and have let the religious right dictate policy on scientific research. So much for the Next Big Thing.

You know what else? I am sick and tired of elites like George W. Bush, who's never had to worry about getting from one paycheck to the next, bashing hardworking Americans. I am sick and tired of elites like George W. Bush telling us that all we need to do to improve our lot in life is to get more education. Well. A lot of us did that. We went to school, got our degrees in computer science and the like. We got good jobs. And then, our jobs got shipped overseas. Or downsized. Or just eliminated altogether.

On a happier note, Bush's pleas to the business leaders to show some responsibility on executive pay wasn't exactly met with thunderous applause.
''America's corporate boardrooms must step up to their responsibilities,'' Bush said. ''You need to pay attention to the executive compensation packages that you approve. You need to show the world that America's businesses are a model of transparency and good corporate governance.''

Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, has said he will push legislation to require shareholder approval of executive compensation plans. And a separate bill before the Senate to raise the minimum wage would fund accompanying tax breaks to ease the burden on small businesses by capping executives' tax-deferred pay packages at $1 million a year.

Still, even Bush's words on pay were met with complete silence from the business crowd he addressed.
Honestly, it's a wonder his head didn't explode when he said this:
You need to show the world that America's businesses are a model of transparency and good corporate governance.

The Princess Bride and other fairy tales

Nye Gateway focuses on the latest Bush Administration power grab and pulls this quote:

The White House said the executive order was not meant to rein in any one agency. But business executives and consumer advocates said the administration was particularly concerned about rules and guidance issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Consumer advocates? Riiight! Notice how these concerned folks emphasize the two organizations that exist solely to protect the American people from unsrupulous businesses that have no interest in either protecting their workers or the environment. These two agencies have been in the crosshairs of the business sector for years. And now you are telling me that business executives are concerned? Heh. Not the way the rest of us are!! Concerned? In the words of Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

January 29, 2007

None of us are immune

Matt Stoller apologizes for being taken in by the Right Wing Smear Machine. We should all consider his cautionary tale.

It's going to be an ugly campaign. I don't share the illusion about the right, and about myself, that I am somehow above the propaganda. It affects me. TV is powerful, and so are rumors and a really well developed right-wing narrative built into our cultural system, and into my head. I have to work against this every day, and I expect that this is true for many of us. We must work to identity the memes that the right puts out, and stop using them ourselves.
I couldn't agree more. We Democrats have a tendency to idealize our candidates and expect god-like perfection from them rather than allowing them their humanity. We also think that we are on to the right wing media. Oh yeah, we know that when we hear Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter or O'Reilly say something derogatory about our candidates that they are engaging in their usual pull-it-out-of-my-ass smear. But read Matt's full post and understand: that sort of red-meat-for-the-wingers propaganda isn't what trips us up. It's the seemingly innocuous publications and TV shows that will do the trick. We think we are too smart to be taken in. I hate to say it, but we're not.

For example, way back when Kerry bothched his joke about Bush, I heard from a solid, attentive, thinks she's on to the right wing media, that Kerry had called the troops stupid. I was troubled by what she told me and thought, "This doesn't sound like Kerry, but gee, ______ doesn't usually steer me wrong." It wasn't until I did my homework that I found out that, once again, the media was taking a sound bite and running with it. As I said many months ago, Kerry should never try to wing a speech that is written down right in front of him, but that's not the point here.

Understand that the media loves to play "Let's you and him fight." They would rather do that than actually doing their jobs and bringing us solid information that we can use to intelligently make decisions about our candidates. And we too are guilty of sucking the air out of the room by falling for it and wringing our hands over our "tainted" candidate. We can't play along.

January 28, 2007

Chuck Hagel for President?

Gag. Oh yeah, he's coming out against the escalation. Great. But have you taken a look at his voting record? From a commenter over at The Huffington Post.

Chuck Hagel for President?

No way ...

  • Voted NO on allowing reimportation of Rx drugs from Canada.
  • Voted YES on recommending Constitutional ban on flag desecration. (Jun 2006)
  • Voted NO on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes. (Jun 2002)
  • Voted YES on loosening restrictions on cell phone wiretapping. (Oct 2001)
  • Voted NO on expanding hate crimes to include sexual orientation. (Jun 2000
  • Voted NO on setting aside 10% of highway funds for minorities & women. (Mar 1998)
  • Voted YES on ending special funding for minority & women-owned business. (Oct 1997)
  • Supports anti-flag desecration amendment.
  • Voted NO on repealing tax subsidy for companies which move US jobs offshore.
  • Voted YES on restricting rules on personal bankruptcy.
  • Voted NO on banning drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. (Mar 2005)
  • Voted YES on Bush Administration Energy Policy.
  • Voted NO on including oil & gas smokestacks in mercury regulations.
  • Voted NO on establishing the Senate Office of Public Integrity.
By: Nano on January 17, 2007 at 12:40pm
For more information on Chuck Hagel's voting record, go here. Here's a summary of where Senator Hagel stands on the issues.

And anyone that would vote to eliminate the federal minimum wage will never get my vote.

Sunday morning round-up

Desert Beacon takes on the Iraq war in two pieces. DB's latest post revisits John Ensign's failure of oversight of war contracts. In the second post, DB has her own March on Washington and reiterates why the Iraq war is wrong. DB also calls on Harry Reid and John Ensign to post their schedules online if for no other reason than to give us an idea of how full their days really are.

Blue Sage Views does a round-up of local stories. One tidbit says that taxable sales, though up overall in Nevada are on the decline in most major counties in northern Nevada.

Washoe County sales dropped 3.8% from one year ago, Carson City lost 12.9%, Douglas County's fell 9.2%, and Lyon County's were down 20.8%.
I can't say I am really shocked by the Lyon County numbers. Our county commission seems more interested in building subdivisions and attracting distribution centers rather than trying to attract quality retail outlets to Lyon County.

One of my favorite Nevada blogs is No Safe Place. Check out Bubba's Postcard of the Week feature.

Las Vegas Gleaner shakes his head as he lets us know that Jim Gibbons has no problem with the science behind Yucca Mountain, just that it wouldn't look good. On national TeeVee, no less.

Anon Guy over at Dullard Mush interviews my pal, JWH about his Nevada Swag store over at cafepress.com. (Must say I am a bit disappointed by the addition of Republican swag - gives me the shivers!)

Nevada Up North worries about a Hagel run (I don't) and discusses a netroots poll on DailyKos.

Kirk Caraway has something to say to newly minted Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

Nye Gateway has lots to ponder, including a troubling video out of Iraq.

Vote Gibbons Out continues to slice and dice Jim Gibbons. VGO must be so happy the Gibster provides so much material.

And finally, Nye Gateway and your humble blogger get a national shout out from Bill Scher for covering John Ensign's unconscionable vote to completely abolish the federal minimum wage.

And for something completely frivolous, I must admit that I am in full agreement with Myrna about Ilan on Top Chef.

Democrats in the News - Nevada

The Reno Gazette-Journal has an excellent piece featuring northern Nevada's four Assembly members discussing the Democratic agenda for the upcoming legislative session.

Also in the RGJ, a story on last night's Douglas County Dems dinner with interviews with Bill Richardson (Gov-NM) and General Wes Clark (Ret). Lots of ink given to Richardson, who has not only set up an presidential exploratory committee, but has hired local Nevadans to head up his campaign here in Nevada. General Clark, who has yet to declare his intentions, gets about a paragraph at the end of the article.














The Nevada Appeal covered the event as well with, again, a bit more attention to the declared candidate. Good wrap up of Richardson's bio as well as his strategy for competing in Nevada. (Photo by Cathleen Allison/ Nevada Appeal)

Channel 2 and Channel 4 were at the event (warning, video linked at Channel 4 story is not at the dinner but a piece shot for the early evening newscast featuring an interview with General Clark. No mention of Richardson. Perhaps there will be video of the dinner later. The even ran long and they may not have gotten it on the late night newscast).

I've got to go through my notes and, as promised, my impressions will follow in another post.

On Edit: Reno Rambler points to this article in the Albuquerque Tribune about the 2008 caucus in Nevada and the growth of progressives in Nevada (with special mention of the the Pneumatic Diner -I love the place.)

January 26, 2007

Caucus Roundup and site ratings

Some tidbits from the growing Democratic race (and my thoughts on their web sites).

Joe Biden - Unite Our States has information on the going to be ingnored anyway non-binding Iraq resolution and also a petition to stop the escalation of the Iraq War. (Site: Pretty standard format - big stuff at the top, three sections on the bottom. Granted, this is not a campaign web site, but under Biography you can find some of Senator Biden's priorities. Uh...not seeing health care there)

Hillary Clinton - has updated her video page to include a statement on health care (my pet issue) and her three internet "chats." No response to th SOTU. (Site: constantly being updated and makes me want to check back often on changes. All critical links are above the scroll. Colors are pleasing on the eyes.)

Chris Dodd - Got an email from him asking me to sign the petition to support his legislation to "cap" the troops and require Bush to seek Congressional approval before sending more troops. I had to look a bit to actually find this on his web site, but it's listed as a blog posting. No link to the petition on the home page or any where that I can see. Senator, if you really think this is important enough to send an email, please display it prominently on your web site (above the scroll, if you will). (Site: easy to find the main things such as Issues, Contact Us, Get Involved...but below that the site seems a bit busy with an attempt to be hip.. Event calendar is listed below the scroll and seems like it could be missed. White to maroon ratio hurts my eyes. )

John Edwards - Has a petition to cut off funding for the escalation and a link to his response to the the State of the Union address. (Site: Clear, all important links displayed above the scroll, but it is set up in a way that makes me want to scroll down and find other interesting links. Ambivalent about the color scheme.)

Dennis Kucinich - New postings about appearances on Larry King Live and Lou Dobbs. No petitions to sign (how refreshing) and an invitation to meet with him tonight at Taverna Greek in DC. Looks like he intends to participate in tomorrow's March on Washington. (Site: set up as a blog basically, with contact, issues, volunteer, etc links above the scroll. A bit on the busy side,

Barack Obama - Oh my...nothing new. I've been getting emails from the guy, but there are no corresponding posts on the web site, no new videos, or any other links to let me know what he's been up to. Shouldn't there be at least a response to the State of the Union? I've seen him all over TeeVee but he needs to get his web folks to do something with his web site. Oy.

Bill Richardson - As you all know, he's coming to Douglas County tomorrow night. My impressions of that visit will be posted. Gotta say, I am impressed with his Darfur cease fire. On his web site there's a link to his response to the State of the Union. (Site: easily negotiated with clear links to Issues, Contact, etc. Last post on his blog, 1/21)

Tom Vilsack - Another petition to stop the escalation in Iraq. Again, I got a nice email from Governor Vilsack with his response to the State of the Union, but it's nowhere to be found on his web site. (Site: Lots of white, and the site doesn't have the feel of a presidential contender and much of it feels Iowa-centric.)

January 25, 2007

John Ensign votes to abolish the minimum wage

From Bob Geiger's blog.

Here's the Republican Senators who voted for the measure killed in the Senate yesterday that would have eliminated the Federal Minimum Wage entirely:

Alexander (R-TN)
Allard (R-CO)
Bennett (R-UT)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Craig (R-ID)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Graham (R-SC)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hagel (R-NE)
Hatch (R-UT)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Lott (R-MS)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Sununu (R-NH)
Thomas (R-WY)
Hat tip to Atrios.

Philosophy, Vision and the Presidential Pack

I just popped over to DailyKos and MissLaura's post on Chris Dodd is currently at the top of the heap. And she makes a point that should be considered by all of us as we examine our Democratic candidates. Ignore for a minute your pet issue, or any laundry list of things you like to see our next President accomplish. "What", you should ask from each candidate, "is your overriding approach to government? What principles guide you?" Commenting on Chris Dodd, Miss Laura writes:

. . . he should expect to spend a lot of time answering the question of why he's running. I think his lack of an articulated broad vision for the country is related to his experience as a legislator rather than an executive. Answering questions about Iraq and Hurricane Katrina recovery, he gave detailed, specific answers about bills that could be passed to alleviate problems - but he didn't articulate the guiding principles that should shape those bills, didn't create an image of a government and society he'd like to see.
As far as I am concerned, this goes for every candidate, front-runner or long-shot. Individual problems will get solved and new ones will appear. I need to know, what is your general approach to government? We know what the Republican view of government is: they think government is evil, and not even a necessary one, and their style of government shows it. It still amazes me that people who hate government keep wanting to run it and that people actually vote for them (but that's another issue).

So, my quest is to find a candidate who can inspire me and provide solutions within an overarching philosophy of government that indicates he/she knows that his/her prime obligation is to We The People.

Dear Candidate, whether you object to or support the war in Iraq, or want to discuss your ideas for health care, the environment, the middle class squeeze, veterans, immigration, or any other issue, tell me that your ideas are the best for America because the vision you have for this country is one where _______________ (fill in the blank).

January 24, 2007

Another permutation of "starve the beast"

Not only does Bush want to tax middle class Americans' employer provided health insurance, but Bush's health care proposal to provide payroll tax breaks to those who purchase their own health insurance is just another way of bankrupting Social Security and to reduce future benefits to low income workers, according to David Baker over at The American Prospect . (thanks to Atrios for pointing me to this post).

Valuing our Lyon County youth

It has become increasingly clear to me that the residents of Lyon County don't give a crap about the youth in Lyon County.

  • We have Senior Centers in Dayton, Fernley, Silver Springs (brand new shiny one!) and Yerington, but very few places for our kids to go. Yerington has a Boys and Girls Club, but Fernley and Silver Springs/Stagecoach are going all over the place to find funding for their Boys and Girls Club facilities.
  • We need to expand the size of our libraries. Have you been in the Dayton, Fernley or Silver Springs libraries? They are the size of postage stamps. But no, Lyon County voters turned down Question 15 in 2006 which would have raised sales tax one quarter of one percent (0.25%) to help provide funds for library expansion.
  • There is no transportation (public or school district) available to our youth who wish to take part in after-school activities. School busses leave immediately after school to whisk kids home. So, unless they have a stay-at-home parent or some other such means of getting from point A to point B, kids are stuck at home to play video games or just get in trouble.

One simple solution to the library / youth center dilemma in Silver Springs would be to convert the old senior center to a larger library, and give the old library to the Boys and Girls Club. But gee, that might actually require some giving a little on all sides for the community good.

I guess the priority given to senior centers vs youth centers could be directly linked to which of these groups has the power of the vote. Seniors vote, kids aren't allowed to. But gee, aren't we adults supposed to be looking out for our kids? Every politician I've seen gives lots of lip service to education. But my goodness, they are SO ignoring the reality of much of these kids' after-school lives wherein working parents leave home for work in Reno or Carson City before the sun comes up and rarely make it home before 6 or 7pm. School runs from what, 8am-3pm?. The reality is, we are letting our kids twist in the wind.

It would be nice if Lyon County residents would get over the idea that any tax is bad, bad, bad and start looking at taxes as an investment in our communties' future. A lot of us moved here with plans on retiring here. Great. But a lot of families have moved into our county, and it's time we stuck up for our kids. Let's quit relying on bake sales and get serious about developing a community that serves all of its residents.

Not a peep

In Bush's State of the Union last night if your drinking words were any of the following: Katrina, New Orleans, or Veterans, I guess you made it through the evening stone cold sober.

January 23, 2007

Tuesday Tidbits

Campaign finance is so broken, I wonder if it's possible to ever fix it. (NYT)

A look at the New Way Forward in Iraq. Oy. (NYT)

And what is it about Florida? This story will make you gasp. (AP via RGJ)

I love Sheila Leslie. Her comments on Gibbons' SOTS last night (RGJ):

"I think it is pretty long on advisory boards and short on new ideas," Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, said. "The two new ideas he had -- the homestead exemption and the coal fuel plant -- I don't think are very well thought out."

Leslie later called those two initiatives "two of the wackiest things I saw in the budget."
The Nevada Appeal does a good round up of the State of the State address.

Tectonic shift

Nathan Gardels blogs over at The Huffington Post about this year's World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland. He describes the WEF as a mirror of economic reality and starts off with this declaration:

This year's theme at the World Economic Forum annual meeting -- "the shifting power equation"-- confirms the view of the global elite gathering in Davos, Switzerland that power is draining away from the United States to multiple centers as countries from Brazil to China moved beyond "emerging" markets to establish themselves as major players on the world scene.

The conference theme also acknowledges the panic in traditional business circles as power shifts from the producer to the consumer thanks to the Internet and the digital distribution revolution.

Far from some kind of conspiracy of the global elite plotting the future as they whisk down the Alpine slopes, Davos is in fact a back-end barometer of their evolving worldview. It does not break new ground, but consolidates opinion. It does not generate new trends, but codifies them into conventional wisdom. That is its power and its importance.
Gardels then takes us on a tour of the last twenty years at Davos, pointing to the economic and political shifts on display there. Finally, Gardels concludes:
But globalization, as this year's Davos agenda suggests, is no longer an American-led phenomenon. Globalization now belongs to everyone who can figure out how to take advantage of its opportunities and minimize its dislocations. American-bred technology may be its midwife, but Americans are no longer solely the parents.

That's a big powershift indeed. And when the global elites leave Davos next week, it will be the new conventional wisdom.
I recommend the entire piece, and be sure to check out the comments.

January 22, 2007

Speeches - Nevada and National

Don't forget, tonight is Gibbons' State of the State address. It starts at 6:00pm and the Nevada Broadcasters Association will provide feed to local TV and radio. You can also stream it on the web. Details here.

And if you can take it, the State of the Union (warning, nausea inducing pic) is tomorrow night (I'll be doing my duty and watching). The wine is already chilling. Scheduled to begin at 6:00pm. I'll be watching it on MSNBC or C-SPAN, because they will cover the Dem response. The major networks may not. As far as the speech, look for more of the same. Although, I hear Bush is going to make some noise on global warming, but I think his "plans" will land in the same dust heap as hydrogen cars, trips to the Mars, etc. He'll also probably call for bi-partisanship on the part of the Democrats, which means, "Do it my way." Lessee...what else? Iraq, of course...stressing staying the course the new way forward. Wonder if he's going to mention the satellite that the Chinese just blew out of the sky? Iran has to come up. Afghanistan? Crickets, methinks, unless it's a passing reference to our soldiers there. What I am really curious about is what out-of-left-field subject he will bring up.

So there you go. Two major speeches from two of the dimmest bulbs I can think of. I just realized that I will probably need a second bottle of wine.

Tuesday evening's highlight will be the Democratic response to the SOTU which will be given by the newly minted Senator from Virginia, Jim Webb. Speaker of the Nevada Assembly, Barbara Buckley, will do the honors on Monday night.

And then there were nine

Hillary Clinton (video announcement here) and Bill Richardson (video announcement on home page) have thrown their hats into the exploratory committee ring.

My advice to all of you? Get on every candidate's email list and Do Your Homework. Study these candidates' issues pages, Google them to death, check their votes, etc. Don't expect to be spoon-fed, and DON'T believe everything you hear on TV, in the papers, OR from your next door neighbor or even your significant other (who knows where they heard whatever it is they are spouting).

Every one of these candidates brings strengths and weaknesses to this race. It's up to you to learn what they are, weigh them and figure out who you wish to support with your vote (and possibly your time and money). Who, among these candidates, offers the best vision for where to take this country, and demonstrates the ability to lead? Don't expect perfection. That's impossible. But who is closest to your ideal? Determine who that is, and then do your part to get that candidate's message out. Realize that your candidate cannot be every where, and if you want to see him/her get elected, YOU represent that candidate to your friends, family and co-workers.

We are less than one year away from the Nevada Democratic Presidential Caucus, so let's get going.

January 20, 2007

GREEN!

The Reno City Council has voted to join a coaliton of cities dedicated to reducing their carbon footprint. Nice.

The council on Wednesday supported Mayor Bob Cashell, among 350 mayors pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as a cause of global warming. In the international agreement among nations that Presidents Clinton and Bush refused to sign, the goal is to reduce such emissions by 2012 to below 1990 levels.

The council directed staff to prepare a climate change plan in six months to inventory the use of alternative fuels, energy-conserving lights and other conservation efforts by the city and the community at large and recommend areas where more work needs to be done.
Later this summer, August 10-12th to be precise, plan on attending the Sustainable Living and Renewable Energy Roundup to be held at the Bently Science Center at WNCC. No web site for the event as yet, but it will be live in a few more weeks and I'll post a link when it's up and running.

January 19, 2007

Teacher as "Hero"

In an Op-Ed in the NYT, Tom Moore, a 10th grade history teacher, takes on the cinematic "teacher as hero" myth.

. . . “Freedom Writers,” like all teacher movies this side of “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie,” is presented as a celebration of teaching, but its message is that poor students need only love, idealism and martyrdom.

I won’t argue the need for more of the first two, but I’m always surprised at how, once a Ms. Gruwell wins over a class with clowning, tears, rewards and motivational speeches, there is nothing those kids can’t do. It is as if all the previously insurmountable obstacles students face could be erased by a 10-minute pep talk or a fancy dinner. This trivializes not only the difficulties many real students must overcome, but also the hard-earned skill and tireless effort real teachers must use to help those students succeed.

. . . I don’t expect to be thought of as a hero for doing my job. I do expect to be respected, supported, trusted and paid. And while I don’t anticipate that Hollywood will stop producing movies about gold-hearted mavericks who play by their own rules and show the suits how to get the job done, I do hope that these movies will be kept in perspective.

While no one believes that hospitals are really like “ER” or that doctors are anything like “House,” no one blames doctors for the failure of the health care system. From No Child Left Behind to City Hall, teachers are accused of being incompetent and underqualified, while their appeals for better and safer workplaces are systematically ignored.

Every day teachers are blamed for what the system they’re just a part of doesn’t provide: safe, adequately staffed schools with the highest expectations for all students. But that’s not something one maverick teacher, no matter how idealistic, perky or self-sacrificing, can accomplish.

Presidential Caucus Update

Declared candidates

Chris Dodd's web site is up and running. Sorry I didn't add this to the tote board sooner, but I sort of spaced on his announcement on Imus.

John Edwards has a petition drive agains Bush's escalation of the Iraq war. I signed it. Have you?

Dennis Kucinich's web site is quite extensive, but I think much of it is retooled from his 2004 campaign and continuing action in the Congress. His ten issues page looks quite familiar.

Tom Vilsack has a petition against the escalation as well. There's a video regarding the escalation and his request that the Iowa legislature pass a resolution opposing it.

Exploratory committees

Joe Biden (PAC web site) has info on Joe's plan for Iraq, mission statement of Unite Our States (name of said PAC), etc. This is not a campaign or exploratory committee web site.

Barack Obama has released a video to help you get to know him better. The day after his rock-the-house speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, a co-worker of mine who was a staunch Republican said to me, "I wish he was on our side." Maybe that has something to do with the anti-Obama stuff reflected in the MSM these days.

January 17, 2007

At least they are attempting something

Pennsylvania is the latest state to jump on the universal health care coverage bandwagon. I have some misgivings about these plans that seem to require all sorts of tap-dancing around, and kissing up to, private insurers, and health care needs to be portable, not tied to an employer. In this case, if a person leaves the state, I assume they would lose their insurance as well. Again, the problem of portability.

But at least these states are addressing the issue. I'd like to see the Nevada legislature tackle this one. And I still haven't given up hope yet for a national single-payer health plan.

January 16, 2007

Barack's in ... mostly

Barack Obama is filing papers today to create an exploratory committee with announcement of his decision to be made February 10th in Illinois. See his video announcement here. Text of the announcement here. Web site here.

January 12, 2007

In the meantime

While the talking heads have spent the last weeks focused on GW's "new way forward" the Democrats have actually been getting some work done. Have any of you heard on the nightly news that Dems in the House are moving quickly their 100 Hour Agenda?

Sickening

Just in case anyone of you had even the slightest thought that Joe Lieberman is anything but Bush's enabler, read this.

Joe Lieberman gives the president a pass on Katrina.

Jan. 11, 2007 - Sen. Joe Lieberman, the only Democrat to endorse President Bush’s new plan for Iraq, has quietly backed away from his pre-election demands that the White House turn over potentially embarrassing documents relating to its handling of the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans.

[...]

Last year, when he was running for re-election in Connecticut, Lieberman was a vocal critic of the administration’s handling of Katrina. He was especially dismayed by its failure to turn over key records that could have shed light on internal White House deliberations about the hurricane, including those involving President Bush.

More at link. If you can stomach it.

January 11, 2007

Cost of War and Escalation

CNN does a piece related to the Cost of War counter to the right.

I watched President Bush's speech last night. He was not his usual smirking self. In fact, he seemed a bit on auto pilot. That's why it might have been easy to miss some key parts of the speech. Three things really jumped out at me. The "green light" American and Iraqi soldiers would be given to clear neighborhoods, the new carrier group on its way to the gulf, and sending Patriot missiles to the region (he doesn't say to whom, but I would assume it's Israel as they are located perfectly to launch missiles on Iran). There will be no diplomacy with Iran and Syria, just more sabre rattling. I take it back, it doesn't look like sabre rattling. The US is going after Iran (in Iraq at least). Today US troops stormed the Iranian consulate in Kurdistan (northern Iraq) and seized six staff members (BBC). Does Bush really want WWIII?

I don't feel this escalation - if you can really call a return to the number of troops we had in Iraq LAST year an escalation - will do any good and will, in fact, just make more U.S. targets for the insurgents (Sunni or Shiite). I am also pretty concerned that Bush seems to single out Sunni and Al Qaeda but seems to gloss over the Shiite response, basically inferring that if the Sunni hadn't done what they had done, the Shiite wouldn't be doing what they are doing. Note the linking of Shia to Iran in the statement below.

They blew up one of the holiest shrines in Shia Islam -- the Golden Mosque of Samarra -- in a calculated effort to provoke Iraq's Shia population to retaliate. Their strategy worked. Radical Shia elements, some supported by Iran, formed death squads. And the result was a vicious cycle of sectarian violence that continues today.
Juan Cole has a different take.

George Bush sends GIs to his private fantasyland.
. . . And the main problem is not "al-Qaeda," which is small and probably not that important, and anyway is not really Bin Laden's al-Qaeda. They are just Salafi jihadis who appropriated the name. When their leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was killed, it didn't cause the insurgency to miss a beat. Conclusion: "al-Qaeda" is not central to the struggle. Izzat Ibrahim Duri and the Baath Party are probably the center of gravity of the resistance.

Bush admitted that the Sunni guerrilla destruction of the Askariyah (Golden Dome) shrine at Samarra set off an orgy of sectarian reprisals. But he does not seem to have actually absorbed the lesson here. The guerrillas did not have to hold territory in order to carry out that bombing. They just had to be able to sneak into a poorly guarded old building that Bush did not even know about and blow it up.

And is an increase of merely 21,000 troops sufficient to "clear and hold?" Even the neocons are skeptical. From Gideon Rachman's blog at Financial Times comes this:

One of the more damning remarks on troop levels comes from Max Boot, a neo-conservative and a specialist on military history:

"Will 21,500 extra troops make a big difference? Based on classic counterinsurgency calculations (one soldier or policeman per 40 or 50 civilians), pacifying Baghdad, a city of 6 million people, requires a force of some 150,000. The beefed-up U.S. force in Baghdad still will be less than 40,000 strong."
I heard Randi Rhodes talking about this 40-1 ratio on her radio show, explaining that it is accepted military strategy.

It looks like Bush has pretty much put it all on Maliki, but doesn't tell us or him what the consequences will be of not meeting the "benchmarks" we have set. Do we pack up and leave? Stay? Take over the Maliki government? And what exactly ARE those benchmarks? Nothing new. They are the same benchmarks that were already set and have not been met. --- Oh, but this time we really mean it, and this time Maliki will be able to do it...nevermind what we had to say about him a couple of months ago (Slate)

I got an email from Harry Reid today saying that he opposes an increase in troops and asking me to sign his petition. Since I already signed John Edwards' petition yesterday, I will hold off. Bush won't listen to me anyway and I have no power to stop him. Congress, on the other hand, is not without some tricks up their collective sleeve. Will Congress do anything to stop Bush? Your guess is as good as mine.

January 10, 2007

I "heart" Hunter

The pundrity has been quick to fall for the right wing's spin that the last election was about bi-partisanship. That is, the American people wanted the D's and R's to get together and Play Nice. Yeah. Right. Hunter over at DailyKos says it so much better than I could ever dream of even attempting...this post says everything I have been thinking and more.

Just a snippet...please go read the whole post.

Personally, I fully agree that America needs healing. And in the context of and as evidenced by the recent elections, I'd submit to you that the country considers healing, at this point, to be a good old fashioned asskicking of the folks who got us into this mess, followed by an iron-clad mandate to fix the problems. A mandate that is going to claim even more conservative stalwarts in the next election, unless they buck up and get moving themselves.

Ok, the premise we're momentarily working with is that George Bush has exhibited bipartisanship, or is about to, or is even mentally capable of it. The premise we're working with, based on the say-so of Republican strategists and conservative and (Lord help us) "centrist" pundits, is that the rout of the Republican party in the midterms was a demonstration of how very much America wants or needs to heal, and that healing means bipartisanship, and bipartisanship means not doing unto the Republicans what the Republicans did unto the entire country, unto their political enemies, unto their perceived political enemies, and unto their insufficiently-friendly political friends, all of which was fine and dandy and smelled like a summertime breeze during the entire time they were doing it, but suddenly began to be gauche the exact moment some Democrat, somewhere, had the power do do something in response to it. No, America didn't need "healing" when the GOP was running roughshod over civil rights, getting thrown out of their own offices in corruption scandals, were introducing more and more creative ways of sucking cash out of government coffers and into corporate contracts, and were regularly calling half of America traitors. We only need healing when the opportunity presents itself to prevent, investigate, or roll back those corruptions. That's when we all need to watch our step!

Now, let's be honest. How much of a dumb, painfully dumb, masterfully dumb, spectacularly gullible, hyperenfranchised, alcohol-addled, camera-chasing microphone-humping column-strangling jackass from the seventh circle of Grey Poupon Hell do you have to be to buy that premise even for the slightest moment as being anything other than dumbfuckery promoted by carnival barkers trying to weasel away from their own rigged game? Since when did "willing to promote any asinine hypothesis, no matter how stupid and self-serving on its face" become the defining characteristic of supposed political wisdom?


The message of the last election, a sweep of Republicans from power, polls showing a nationwide anger at the handling of Iraq and at the unending stream of cringe-inducing Republican corruption scandals -- it's not over either of those things, now, despite the polls proving the exact contrary? It's instead an earnest message from a dimwitted population that they really, earnestly want a Congress who will let bygones be bygones, and who will work together to continue the Iraq war and comply with Bush's versions of government?

Sweet merciful crap. I mean... sweet, merciful goat-molesting crap. Just how dumb do you people take us for? At long last, is this the final demonstration of what the American people is truly worth, to a "conservative" or "centrist" or "thoughtful" or "serious" Washington pundit? This is what Middle America has to argue with, for control of our own country -- this infusion of our highest levels of politics with an Orwellian passion play, the plastering over the airwaves, at long last, of utter and complete rhetorical jabberwocky?

And so here's the problem with blogging, in '07. It's going to take a superhuman effort to even take any of this nonsense seriously. It's not a question of "rebutting", or "disagreeing", or God forbid "contradicting". It's not a matter of "pointing out inconsistencies of" or "offering contrary evidence to". It's not mere disagreement, anymore.

It's more of a question of even being able to take any of these political voices seriously at all -- even seriously enough to mock.

There's a great deal of talk of civility, now, and how terrible it is that bloggers are mean. Last year, it was worth batting around the ridiculousness of that entire concept -- that fully half of America could be called traitors by people from the White House on down, and that was just grand and we couldn't get more than a handful of you bipartisan, civilized talking heads to utter a peep against such a thing, but God forbid some American somewhere in this country tells an orbiting pundit to sod off. This year, it's going to be hard to even pen a response not based entirely on belittling the entire frame of "civility" as a central tentpole in a circus of unabashed scoundrels.

No. You called us traitors. You called us traitors, by not defending us while it happened.

We owe you nothing.

On edit, digby muses on the same topic.

Lyon County links

No, I don't mean golf...

I've been poking around the internets and have found some interesting local links.

The City of Fernley has a pretty neat site complete with a calendar. If you want to have coffee with newly minted Fernley mayor, Todd Cutler, go here for more details.

Reno-Fernley Raceway's site is pretty good.

Want a good dose of links to all things Lyon County? Go here.

Lyon County has a new look to their web site.

January 8, 2007

Exploratory committees don't count

Well, Joe Biden has once again announced that he is running for President. The New York Times article acts as though this is the first time Joe has mentioned his intention to make a presidential run, but as a die-hard Jon Stewart fan, I know that Joe announced this months ago on The Daily Show.

And...this isn't really an announcement of a candidacy, it's an announcement of the formation of an "exploratory committee."

He [Biden] said he would file paperwork by the end of the month to establish an exploratory committee to gather support for his bid.
Sorry Joe. That won't get you listed on my list to the right. You gotta make a REAL announcement, with a REAL crowd of supporters, and have a REAL web site.

January 7, 2007

January 3, 2007

Bipartisanship????

To quote a commenter over at The Huffington Post that linked to this editorial in the Wall Street Journal ostensibly written by George W. Bush:

So at which point in this did you actually burst out laughing?
Actually, I wasn't laughing...just getting that nasty taste in the back of my throat that I get just before I throw up. This "editorial" is meant to bully, to keep the Democrats "in their place" and lay the groundwork for blaming Democrats for anything that will go wrong in the next two years. And plenty will go wrong. The course has been set and it's going to be hard to turn around a lot of George Bush and the Republicans' disastrous policies. So it's going to be the Democrats fault for not agreeing with everything George Bush wants? Um, yeah, okay, what else is new? Dems get blamed when they are in the minority and nothing will change now that they are in the majority. I just hope the American people see through this Rovian crap. More importantly, I hope the Dems in Congress don't buy into this either. Time will tell.

January 1, 2007

Gibbons sworn in at the stroke of midnight

According to this RGJ story linked at Inside Nevada Politics, Jim Gibbons was sworn in as governor, not at 10am today with the rest of the newly elected constitutional officers, but at midnight.

Saying security concerns prompted him to take office as soon as possible, Republican Jim Gibbons was sworn in as Nevada governor seconds after the New Year began at midnight.

The former five-term congressman was administered the oath of office by Bill Maupin, chief justice of the state Supreme Court, in the livng room of Gibbons’ Reno home. Present were Gibbons’ wife, Dawn, and about 15 friends and aides.

[...]

Immediately after taking the oath, Gibbons named Larry Martines, whose career in police and security work includes the CIA, as state homeland security director; and law enforcement veteran Phil Galeoto as state Department of Public Safety director.

Gibbons issued a statement saying that while state agencies “know of no credible threat, recent world events and New Year’s celebrations raise the potential for problems during Nevada’s first government transition since the terror attacks of 9-11.

“Nevadans should be assured that their leaders are in place, ready for any emergency.”

Gibbons spokesman Brent Boynton said “recent world events” was a reference to the execution of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
Give me a friggin' break! I mean really, I just don't get it...were we suddenly without a government at midnight? Do we have some sort of Cinderella-esque magic pumpkin scenario running amok? Did Kenny Guinn suddenly throw up his hands and shout, "Yeehaw! I am SO outta here! Bring it on Osama!" ???

Gee, and what about all those other governors that managed to get sworn in after the 2002 and 2004 elections?

How full of himself can Gibbons be?

Follow-up

Letters to the NYT addressing the the article discussed in my December 26th post, Authenticity vs Sincerity

January 1, 2007

Is It Who We Are, or How We Act? (5 Letters)

To the Editor:

“Our Overrated Inner Self,” by Orlando Patterson (column, Dec. 26), represents the clearest thinking on social and political discourse I’ve read in a long while.

It breaks down the reality of interpersonal relations both at a microcosmic and a macrocosmic level to its root: how we act toward one another rather than how we think about one another.

The social contract by which we Americans live with one another here and how we live with those abroad depends more on how we abide by our agreements than on whether we agree on all our respective values and objectives.

If it didn’t sound overly religious, I’d say Mr. Patterson’s column could be summed up by the phrase “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you,” long held by major religious and secular ethicists as the basis of good living.

Irv Rubenstein
Nashville, Dec. 26, 2006



To the Editor:

I agree that what sincerity “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.”

But is it not possible that by being civil and sincere, we one day also become “authentic”? Doing changes to being.

Ginger Nathanson
Long Valley, N.J., Dec. 26, 2006



To the Editor:

This last year has given us apologies from Mel Gibson, Michael Richards, George Allen and Terrell Owens, as well as numerous other celebrities and politicians. The common thread is the disassociation between the “real” person that each individual is “inside” (or claims to be) and the bad behavior that each has displayed in words and actions.

Some of these individuals have gone so far as to say he did not know who it was that was speaking or acting in such a despicable manner.

I am not sure how one can have such inner goodness and purity of heart and behave so badly. All I know is that I am judged by my actions and can know others only by how they behave. That is accountability. That is the foundation of a civil society.

Bob Hoot
Middleton, Wis., Dec. 26, 2006



To the Editor:

Turn on the television or the radio and listen to the emotional discourse that passes for rational thinking. One hears the irrational voice that used to be kept private.

Is this a failure of our education to impart the knowledge and confidence one needs to be mature? Or is it a product of our drifting in an ocean of overcommunication?

Whatever it is, our need now is to take back our private self and return rational thinking to the public self.

Hendrik E. Sadi
Yonkers, Dec. 26, 2006



To the Editor:

Years ago, I read an article in The New York Times about a man who had a mean and miserly nature. He knew this and tried to counteract his nature by acting warmly and generously toward others.

On his deathbed, people lauded him as a philanthropist and friend to humanity. Within himself, he still felt mean and miserly, but his deeds proclaimed otherwise.

The point of that article, as of Orlando Patterson’s column, is that the effect you have on others is the important part of your essence. You are defined by your actions, not by your sometimes more ignoble inner thoughts.

Barbara Preschel
New York, Dec. 26, 2006

3,000

Dammit.

On Dec. 4, Specialist Hess slipped onto the ever-expanding list of American military fatalities in Iraq, one that has increased by an average of more than three a day since Oct. 1, the highest three-month toll in two years. On Sunday, with the announcement of the death in Baghdad of Specialist Dustin R. Donica, 22, of Spring, Tex., the list reached the somber milestone of at least 3,000 deaths since the March 2003 invasion.

The landmark reflects how much more dangerous and muddled a soldier’s job in Iraq has become in the face of a growing and increasingly sophisticated insurgency. Violence in the country is at an all-time high, according to a Pentagon report released last month. December was the third deadliest month for American troops since the start of the war, with insurgents claiming 111 soldiers’ lives. October and November also witnessed a high number of casualties, 106 and 68 respectively, as American forces stepped up combat operations to try to stabilize Baghdad.

“It escalated while I was there,” said Capt. Scott Stanford, a National Guard officer who was a commander of a headquarters company in Ramadi for a year, arriving in June 2005. “When we left this June, it was completely unhinged. There was a huge increase in the suicide car bombs we had. The I.E.D.’s were bigger and more complex.”

“And it was very tense before we left in terms of snipers,” said Captain Stanford, a member of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. “I don’t know if there were more of them, or if they were getting better.”

This spike in violence, which has been felt most profoundly by Iraqi civilians, who are dying by the thousands, has stoked feverish debate about the nation’s presence in Iraq. Many Democrats in Congress are urging a phased withdrawal from the country, and the Bush administration is leaning toward deploying additional troops in 2007. If the conflict continues into March, the Iraq war will be the third longest in American history, ranked behind the Vietnam War and the American Revolution.