May 2009

Gordon Brown - the last days?

In 1995, John Major’s conservative party was hit by a series of scandals that proved, ultimately, to be the final nail in the coffin for his government. In 1993, he’d launched the ‘Britain’s Back to Basics’ campaign, widely seen as an effort to reassert the moral standards on which the Conservative party was supposedly built. However, this was quickly undermined by a string of high profile adulteries among the leading lights of the party, and also a row over members of parliament selling access for money in what was termed ‘Cash for Questions’.

The Same Sex Marriage Debate

One of the most controversial issues in modern-day America is the debate surrounding the rights of same-sex couples to marry. Currently, same-sex unions are legal in three American states, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa. Legislation recently passed in Maine and Vermont to recognize same-sex marriage. Those laws will go into effect this September. The state of New Hampshire also has an equal marriage law in debate right now, with state governor John Lynch pushing for stronger language protecting religious institutions before he will sign. That itself seems like little more than a stall and it is likely that New Hampshire will see the legalization of same-sex marriage within the next six months.

There is Unrest in the Forest, there is Trouble With the Trees

In an effort to close the huge budget deficit facing the state of California, Governor Schwarzenegger has announced a plan to sell off 220 state parks. This raises the question of how the hell do you sell a state park, who the hell would buy it, and what the hell would they do with it? Since the giant fear is that they'll sell the land to some real estate developer who'll then cut down the trees to build more strip malls, here are some ideas of who to sell it to so they can remain parks:

Everybody Let Go, We Can Make a Nomination Process Just Like a Circus

Being the smart MoFo that he is, Barack Obama's nomination for the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor was a nomination doubling as a loaded booby trap for a party made up of boobs.  While Republican leaders are being smartly low-key in their opposition, those conservatives who do not actually have to run for anything have taken the bait and exploded that sucker.  Rush Limbaugh called Sotomayor a reverse-racist while Newt Gingrich twittered (!) that she's racist.   She's also been called dumb, her affinity for her ethnicity's ethnic food has been criticized, and one blogger o

California Supreme Court; right decision, but it still hurts

Let me preface this by saying that I couldn’t be more favor of same sex couples having equal rights and protections under the law as anyone else. Actually, it’s my view that no government, be it state or national, should be in the business of marriage at all; civil partnerships, certainly, but for me, marriage should be a religious sacrament, for churches to decide on for themselves, but be separate from any legal meaning.

This all being the case, it seems to me that yesterday’s decision by the California Supreme Court to uphold proposition eight was the right one, even if a large part of me is disappointed by the outcome. I’m sure that, should the decision have gone the other way, I and a decent sized part of the population of California (not to mention equal rights campaigners across the country) would have been more than satisfied and been able to turn a blind eye, to a certain extent, to the use of the court’s power.

Congress passes regulations on Credit Cards - everyone is happy

As has been reported in various outlets, yesterday Congress passed the Credit Card Holders Bill of Rights Act (2009), and sent it on over to President Obama to sign off on. The bill covers a variety of practices that range from shady to downright dishonest. As someone who had a very nice letter from his bank earlier this year informing me that, though they deeply regretted it, they were forced to raise my APR and lower my credit limit by forty dollars, thus putting me over the limit and allowing them to charge me for that particular pleasure, I’m pretty pleased about this. Even if it does come six months too late for me. Unless my bank was going to try that stunt again. They’d never do that, would they?

The RNC-- Funny, but No Longer Ha-Ha Funny

Sadly for fans of comedy everywhere, the RNC voted down the proclimation that Democratic Party should rename themselves  "the Democrat Socialist Party."   They did, however, decide to write a strongly worded proclamation that decried the Democrats "march toward socialism."  They then added that they "recognize that the Democratic Party is dedicated to restructuring American society along socialist ideals."  Apparently what happened is that Michael Steele and a few other members of the RNC had a rare bout of self-awareness and realized that the whole naming scheme made them look like idiots.  This was their attempt to look less idiotic. 

California electorate says No to budget proposals

On Tuesday, the electorate of California, the most populous state in the Union, voted to reject five out of six budget proposals. Propositions 1A-1E were an attempt by Governor Schwarzenegger to reduce the budget deficit by cutting the funding to certain programs, whilst at the same time raising taxes in the short term. The only proposition that did pass, 1F, puts a cap on the level of politicians’ pay increases during down years. It seems to me that this was clearly meant as a sop to the electorate, a bid to get them to accept the rest of the package by making people feel as if the politicians are also sharing in the economic hardship and are willing to make sacrifices themselves. This is all well and good, but there are dangers inherent in underpaying politicians; either you remove an incentive for the most talented people to enter public service, or you open the door for politicians making money by less honest means.

The Republicans-- Don't Call it a Comeback

For like the 100th time since Obama won the election, the Republicans have announced a huge reboot of the party except this time, they mean it.  Celebrating his 100 days in office as head of the RNC, Michael Steele wrote an editorial in Politico today saying that the Republicans shouldn't apologize anymore, without specifying any of the myriad things they have yet to apologize for, and emphasized that the party from now on will be forward-thinking.  Total mentions of Reagan?  Five.

The barter economy - a fundamentally conservative idea?

I had an email today from swaptree.com. It’s a website that specializes in arranging trades between people for unwanted items of similar value – things like books, DVDs, records, and so on. I’d actually forgotten that I had joined up (I only had a few items listed as for trade, so it’s not much of a surprise that I this was my first swap offer), but I accepted the offer and this afternoon I went down and posted off a copy of Naomi Klein’s ‘The Shock Doctrine’ to a lucky (or not so lucky, perhaps) lady in Southern California.

With the growing success of swaptree and other barter based websites such as favorpals.com, which specializes in the exchange of services, there is a growing barter economy in the US. Given that for many people money is a premium and that the recession has caused many of us to have a good deal more time on our hands, so to speak, this is perhaps not such a surprise. On favorpal.com, people are offering services such as gardening, swimming pool repair, language lessons or even dental work.

Pelosi knew everything, blame the Democrats!

OK, ok, so the Republicans caught Pelosi potentially lying about what she knew about torture. Did I miss something? Did the Democrats do something illegal? I love how Republicans pile on every little dropped crumb like a pack of roaches. Eight years of corruption, no-bid contracts, unjustified war, the pointlessly late response to Hurricane Katrina, the Abu Ghraib prison scandal (which is still going on), the lies about WMDs, the driving up of the deficit by a party that claims to support smaller government and less taxes, the Valerie Plame CIA outing, stealing the 2000 election, torture scandal and... what else did I miss? The Republicans have essentially wrecked the car in a drunken heap and are blaming the passed out girl in the backseat while all the Republicans scamper off into the bushes laughing (how Democratic of them). There might be some hypocrisy boiling up here on behalf of the bossy Democrat, but it stinks to high Heaven how the Republican criminals that ran our country into the ground are sweeping their crimes under the carpet while simultaneously piling up on Pelosi.

Obama Administration Calls for Greenhouse Gas Cut

The climate in the White House has changed.

John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, called on all industrialized nations to immediately and drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Holdren also calls for a focus on preparation for the effects of current and future climate change by the Obama Administration.

“The question is, ‘Can we stop short of a completely unmanageable degree of climate change?’” said Holdren.

On a good day, the Bush administration gave low priority to climate change issues. Holdren thinks preparing for inevitable global climate change should be at the center of White House policy. Holdren’s appointment and agenda represent a dramatic break from the energy and environmental perspectives and policies of the last 8 years.

“This president is committed to science and technology and their role in addressing our great challenges.He wanted someone to speak out on issues,” said Holdren.

LaRouche: Good Source of Info?

I had a phone call last night from the LaRouche people, who strangely like Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses and Vampires, are dangerous to let in your door (or on you phone). They wanted me to support their cause- routing out the ignoble and banker-tied members of the Obama Administration. Sounds all right, but  particularly scary to me, was their call to action to get out the people in the Obama Administration who want to take away basic human rights from the weak and the poor, the handicapped, and the less-advantaged. (They believe that Obama is in some kind of secret group that believes the weak should not survive.)

I decided to hear him out and check out what LaRouche was saying. For a taste of sweetness beyond no other, check out www.larouchepub.com and for the love of God (if there is one), please don't forget to bring your thinking cap to the door.
Sample quotes from his web site seem humorous until I started to realize that people actually think this guy is some kind of mis-understood genius. 

Once again, the Belgians show us the way. Or, Veggiedags all round!

How’s your Flemish? Mine, it’s fair to say, is not very good. I’ve been through Brussels once, but that’s about my limit. I do know now, however, what the word ‘Veggiedag’ means. The reason for this?  The Belgian city of Ghent is introducing a regular meat free day for its civil servants and elected employees. It seems to be a voluntary affair (as I say, my translation is perhaps not the most accurate), but once a week, meat is off the menu. In September, the school children of the city will be doing the same thing.

When it comes to European countries, there’s a lot made of the nature of government intervention, and it’s impingement on personal freedoms and the like, and there’s certainly a case here to be made that questions what right an elected body has to tell individuals what they can and cannot eat. However, it seems as if the city counselors in Ghent have decided to take a lead on this and try to set an example.

Dick Cheney prefers oxycontin to morals.

So it appears that Dick Cheney prefers to work with pathological lying, drug addicted and nonsense spewing Rush Limbaugh than the man he worked beside during the Bush administration. On Sunday's Face the Nation, Darth Vader... er, Cheney said with a smirk he thought Powell had already left the Republican Party and that he would prefer to work with Rush. This is ironic, considering among the 100s of Katrina fatalities, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians and the thousands of US troops who lost their lives in his amoral, illegal war, you could list Powell's life as lost in the wreckage of the Bush administration. The guy was one of the bright spots in the US military/political world. His rational thinking, penchant for peaceful resolution and easy demeanor made him chum for the idiotic Bush administration. His name had been touted as a potential first black presidential contender, then he sided up with Bush.

Dick Cheney: A Traitor

Dick Cheney as private citizen:  a treasonous traitor. While serving as an elected official that is legally beholden to his constituency, the man cowered as any coward would and said close to nothing during his 8 years. In fact, for months at a time no one could even find the fuck.

NOW, he sits on his hemroid-ridden ass and roundly criticizes his commander in chief. You, yellowbelly, fascist traitor. There is a special spot in Guantanamo reserved just for your disgusting self..

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