Friday, June 29, 2007

Talk Nerdy to Me, Baby

When Popular Mechanics talks to Al Gore about recent green improvements to his home, and the future of ethanol it's science nerd-speak nirvana.

In case you're wondering, that's a good thing. I love it. I can't help myself.

And while we're on the subject, Tad Daley's article at Alternet about Gore sums up my sentiments very well.

Re-elect Al Gore.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Remembering Eric Tang

I'd like to share the following message received from CA Clean Money executive director Susan Lerner about the tragically untimely death of Eric Tang. Eric worked for CA Clean Money as communications director, and he was always enthusiatic, knowledgeable, kind, and generous with his time and knowledge.

I want to acknowledge Eric here today, and to say that I always appreciated the hard work and cheerful enthusiasm that he brought to the table. I'm sure he will be missed by many.

Dear Friends:

We are deeply saddened that last week our friend and former colleague Eric Tang died in an accident at a waterfall outside of Mexico City. He was two months into a yearlong Latin American odyssey, an adventure fueled by all the wonder, joy and humanity that were Eric's.

Eric was an early member of the CCMC team. As a student at UCLA, he interned at CCMC and became so passionate about the issue that he continued as a volunteer until a staff position opened up. As CCMC's communications coordinator, Eric brought keen intelligence, ready wit, and infinite enthusiasm to advancing Clean Money throughout California.

Eric took on a thousand and one tasks - from exhorting volunteers to attend petition parties to enter hundreds of names from signed petitions and organizing lobbying days in Sacramento, to writing newsletters in his graceful narrative style and criss-crossing the state to promote Clean Money - and always with creativity, humor and irrepressible faith in our shared responsibility for each other. Whether traveling the state for Prop 89 or working for African refugee relief, Eric's unflagging energy and dedication was inspiring.

"Our fundamental belief," Eric wrote on his "Smart with Heart" website, "is that a life lived in accordance with reason and guided by compassion for others will generate the sort of social change this world so desperately needs. Knowledge can be a powerful tool in itself, but compassion provides the true impetus for using what we know to cultivate the world as we feel it ought to be."

To his every day, Eric Tang brought the compassion and courage that changes lives, and the world.

Susan Lerner

We are collecting remembrances and stories about Eric from CCMC activists and supporters in order to create a tribute book for his parents. Please share your memories and pictures of Eric by sending them to

Update on today's Road to Reform event with Michael Moore

I just got an email that said the Michael Moore event has been relocated and will be at the First Street steps of the LA City Hall at 11am. Have fun, kids!

Monday, June 25, 2007

San Diego: the first stop on the Road to Reform

(UPDATE: dday just posted a Calitics quickie that says Michael Moore will be at the LA rally at 11am tomorrow at the California Hospital Medical Center.)

(UPDATE UPDATE: I just got an email that said the Michael Moore event has been relocated and will be at the First Street steps of the LA City Hall at 11am)

The It's Our Healthcare: Road to Reform Tour kicked off in sunny San Diego this afternoon. It's was a great excuse to take a half day off work, hop on the trolley, and hang around downtown for a bit.

As it says on their website, It’s Our Healthcare is a coalition of consumer advocates, seniors, health advocates, communities of faith, and labor united to ensure that the people of California’s voice is heard in the debate over healthcare reform. There was a mid sized turnout of around 75-100 people, and we listened to a series of speakers who told their personal stories about the impact of inadequate healthcare due to inadequate health insurance.

A woman spoke about her four year old niece who's the only one in the family that has no health insurance because she had the "pre-existing condition" of a series of ear infections as a baby.

A middle aged woman told of her breast cancer and her husband's bypass surgery that ended up generating $120,000 in medical bills AFTER the insurance paid. The lost their business, had to file for bankruptcy and mortgaged their home to the hilt. Despite having what they thought was good insurance coverage, they're now financially ruined.

A small business owner spoke of an employee who nearly died because the insurance wouldn't cover the full cost of his insulin, so he was cutting his doses in half.

It's a problem that so many Americans don't have health insurance, but being covered by a plan is no longer much assurance.

It's Our Healthcare is not yet advocating for any specific plan, but want opportunities for real folks to be able to participate in the conversation about healthcare in California. They had postcards where you can write your own healthcare story, and they will take a Polaroid picture of you to attach to it. At the end of the tour in Sacramento, they'll be delivering the cards and photos to the state legislature.

Lt Governor John Garamendi was supposed to attend, but had to stay in Sac because he's the acting Governor while Arnold is away, and he needed to be there because of the state of emergency caused by the terrible fires in Lake Tahoe, but he sent a message of suppport. Hopefully, he'll be at some of the other stops along the way.

When the Road to Reform tour comes to you this week, attend the rally and use the opportunity to raise your voice to tell California legislators that you want meaningful healthcare reform now.

Tuesday, June 26 at 11:00am
California Hospital Medical Center
1401 S Grand Avenue, Los Angeles

Wednesday, June 27 at 9:30am
Liberty Bell Plaza
1415 Truxtun Avenue, Bakersfield

Wednesday, June 27 at 1:30pm
City Hall, City Council Chambers
2600 Fresno Street, Fresno

Thursday, June 28 at 9:30am
San Francisco City Hall (Steps on Polk Street Side)

Thursday, June 28 at 1:00pm
State Capitol (West Steps)

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Here we go again

Last week it was noted that former Assemblyman Keith Richman has filed an initiative to reduce the retirement benefits of state and local employees. It still needs many petition signatures before it can be approved for the ballot, but once again the successful and profitable CalPERS program and the people that keep this state moving every single day will have to fend off another attack.

Both Juls Rosen at Working Californians and Randy Bayne of California Notes cover the story very well. As Juls reminds us, this isn't the first time Richman has gone after state employees. Last time he wanted to eliminate Calpers altogether, but this time he's pushing for a two tiered system.

He must figure that if an all out assault didn't work, he'd move on to divide and conquer tactics. Sounds to me like a lesson learned from the Southern California grocery stores who have been using that technique to weaken grocery worker unions.

So here's the thing...I don't believe for one minute that the Calpers systems comes under repeated attacks because it's bad for the state from an economic perspective, because that's just not true.

I'm inclined to believe that the constant attacks on the benefits of public employees in California are strategic, and have two things at the root:

First, it forces the employee unions to spend a lot of money to constantly defend themselves, thereby keeping them from spending it on productive political action and union activities. It's designed to "starve the beast", which is precisely the strategy the far right has used to destroy regulatory agencies that impede their ideological vision. In other words, this is a direct strike on the checkbook of the public employee union. Defund, and/or create financial imbalance. It's very effective.

Second, the intent is to ultimately weaken the strength of public employees, thereby weakening the checks and balances built into the system. The role of the bureaucracy and professional staff is to act as a counter balance between politics and specials interests. Weaken any one, and the other two can run amok. Sound familiar? That is another proven right wing strategy, and in recent years, incidents of politics trumping professional experience are too numerous to mention.

I suspect there's some inclination to hurt CalPERS too because of their history of shareholder activism, and corporations generally prefer their smaller shareholders keep their opinions to themselves.

In foreign policy analysis, one of the indicators of a healthy democracy is a strong, independent bureaucracy. It provides a check on power. It encourages and allows stability. That's why we have civil service laws that are applicable to government employees. One of the goals of public administrators is to maintain independence from overt political influence, and to keep ideology in check.

Public employees are not the bad guys. They're the ones that run the government on a day to day basis. Politicians, particularly Republicans, attack and malign the bureaucracy because it gets in the way of their ideological advancement...which is exactly what it is supposed to do. The ship of state is rightly designed so that it doesn't turn on a dime, and stability is more important than speed. No one administration or political party is supposed to be able to exert dominance over the entire system to the point where they can make wholesale change overnight. These attacks are a part and parcel of the right wing strategy for governance. The constant assaults on the people who keep the ship running is an assault on the ship.

This goes hand in hand with the drive toward "smaller government" which in right wing terms means the destruction of every possible agency and social program so billions in tax dollars can be made available to enrich their cronies and their corporations by way of contracting out services at all levels, eliminating regulations, and removing the teeth from corporate regulatory enforcement.

The constant attacks on public employees is one more tiny part of the strategy, and it's made easier by the demonization of public employees as lazy, officious pigs at the public trough. The $25 an hour unskilled laborer leaning on his shovel is about an accurate an image as the welfare queen picking up her check in her Cadillac. It paints a picture in the mind of someone who is taking an unfair advantage of the system and who feels entitled to a gift. It's a story designed to create bias.

Fortunately the public employees unions have been mostly successful in fending off the worst of the attacks, in no small part by reminding people that public employees are people they count on everyday. They're teachers, nurses, doctors, librarians, firefighters and police officers. They're your fellow Californians that run the public universities, immunize your children, and fill the potholes. They're 1.5 million of your friends, family members and neighbors right here in California, and these incessant attacks are one more indicator that the Republican party has no problem with chipping away at checks and balances, AND in squeezing the middle class a little harder if it means advancement of their ideology and enrichment of corporations. This current attack is just more of the same.

Friday, June 22, 2007

It's Our Healthcare: The Road to Reform Tour

On Monday June 25 at 12:30pm there will be a rally and press conference in downtown San Diego to call for quality, affordable healthcare now. The rally is the first stop in a six city "Road to Reform" tour which will make it's way through San Diego, Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Fresno, San Francisco, and Sacramento.

Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi, Art Pulaski of the California Labor Federation, and others will kick off the tour in San Diego, and is sponsored by a coalition of consumer advocates, seniors, health workers, communities of faith, and labor.

You can see a list of the organizations participating in the coalition right here

For more information, visit, and hopefully I'll see you at the rally on Monday, June 25 at 12:30pm at the Civic Concourse, San Diego City Hall in downtown.

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imo, we've got a good Dem candidate in CA-78

Marty Block is a Democrat that is running for State Assembly in the 78th Assembly District and since the fundraising deadline for this quarter is coming up next week on June 30, he's in the last minute push for donations.

The current assembly member is Republican Shirley Horton. Horton is kind of low profile, but her votes are mostly along party lines. Weak on women's health issues, but strong ratings from anti-tax groups.

She voted against AB 583, the California Clean Money and Fair Elections Act of 2007, and that alone raises my hackles.

So I'd like to see someone like Marty Block in that seat. He's got many years of experience in public education in San Diego from elementary through the public university system, including 26 years at San Diego State University, and 7 years as President of the San Diego Community College District Board of Trustees. He knows and loves public education, and that is something we need these days.

Block's fund raising appeal states,
As you well know, campaigns may be won or lost in the first days depending on the early support shown. Those in Sacramento who are willing to support me are waiting to judge the strength of my candidacy on one simple date: JUNE 30. That is the one and only time this year that candidates will report on their campaign's financial success.

I think it's a good time for a Democrat in the 78th, and now's the time to throw down a few bucks to help that happen.

Personally, I dislike the dialing for dollars part of campaigning (which is one reason I dig Clean Money), but at the moment it is what it is, so let's work it, kids!

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

U.S. Presses Blair to Become Mideast Envoy

So...uh...does this make anyone else shudder?

I don't know about you, but I've not been terribly impressed with his ability to affect positive change in the Middle East.

But British officials said that Mr. Blair has not yet decided if he will take on the task yet, and bristled that public comments from the Bush administration were premature.

Take the hint, Tony, or prepare to bristle frequently.

Digby speaks...and Sinfonian writes

Sinfonian has kindly provided a transcript of Digby's remarks at the Take Back America Conference as she accepts the Paul Wellstone Citizen Leadership Award on behalf of the progressive blogosphere.

There's video....but it seems to not always be accessible, maybe due to an abundance of Digby love.

Pay hikes for state's top brass

Ok fine...California elected officals got a raise. Off the top of my head, I don't know the salary history, when last raises were given and how much they were, or exactly how these amounts related to comparable jobs in CA, so I don't have too much to say (yet) about the fact that state legislators and other elected officials are getting a raise.


for Bill Lockyer's spokesman Tom Dresslar to justify the raise by saying,
"He's got a family to take care of and this increase doesn't even keep up with the cost of living since last year, so it's not exorbitant by any stretch"

That just frosts my cookies. Yes, life so very is hard, but by conservative calculations, he makes about 6-8 times more than the average worker so to say he deserves that raise to care for his family is a stunningly insensitive and ignorant thing to say.

They all got 2.75% raises except the Attorney General who got 5%, and that's not necessarily out of line, but now I wonder if they were getting raises during the years when other state employees got nothing.

See now...I wouldn't have even been pissed about it if Dressler had thought for a minute before opening his mouth.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Granny D on immigration

Truthout has a transcript of Doris "Granny D" Haddock's remarks at last weekend's Democracyfest in New Hampshire.

Granny D usually talks about campaign finance reform, but she took this opportunity to talk about "unauthorized immigration".

But why are so many people risking their lives to come into our country now? When did this big rush begin?

It began when Mr. Clinton approved NAFTA - the North American Free Trade Agreement - and when he militarized our southern border at the same time. Prior to these combined actions, families crossed the border very commonly and casually, especially during harvest seasons. After harvest, they would go home to Mexico or Central America because that's where they lived with their families in quite happy communities.

When the border was militarized, it became too risky to go back and forth. So they stayed.

Why did Mr. Clinton militarize the border? He did so because NAFTA was about to pull the rug out from under Mexico's small family farms.

Good point, Granny.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Employee Free Choice Act - contact your Senator

Earlier this year the House passed the Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 800, S. 1041) which allows workers greater freedom to organize unions. The act will probably come before the Senate this week, and faces opposition from Republican senators and a veto threat from Bush.

This is the legislation you may have heard about that, among other things, allows employees to organize using signature cards authorizing union representation. It also increases penalties for violating the employees right to organize, and provides for mediation and arbitration in contract disputes.

If you'd like to learn more about the act, or send a letter of support to your senator, visit the AFL-CIO Employee Free Choice Act website.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The seeds of freedom

This coming Tuesday is June 19...otherwise known as Juneteenth.

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration of of the emancipation of the slaves in the United States. The significance of June 19 is that day in 1865, Major General Gordon Granger landed at Galveston, Texas and announced the order that the slaves had been freed. This was two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation, and the reasons for this could be one of many, including the desire to not let them know so owners could reap another harvest, to the fact that there weren't enough Union soldiers to enforce it until Granger arrived. Nevertheless, they were finally freed from their enslavement, and Juneteenth is the celebration of that day.

Slavery was both an economic issue, and a moral issue in America, and slaves, alongside free men and indentured servants, were the people that built America.

I love the poem by Langston Hughes about the people that built America, called Freedom's Plow, and in it he states,

With billowing sails the galleons came
Bringing men and dreams, women and dreams.
In little bands together,
Heart reaching out to heart,
Hand reaching out to hand,
They began to build our land.
Some were free hands
Seeking a greater freedom,
Some were indentured hands
Hoping to find their freedom,
Some were slave hands
Guarding in their hearts the seed of freedom,
But the word was there always:

Today, many people still come to America to build their lives here, with the seed of freedom in their hearts, and America all too often treats these people harshly. Today they may not be enslaved, but they still live in the hidden corners of society. They build our homes and businesses, and contribute to our world in silence. They are often largely shut out of both the economic and democratic processes, but nevertheless, immigrants have long been silent partners in the building of America.

Before the Civil War, days were dark,
And nobody knew for sure
When freedom would triumph
"Or if it would," thought some.
But others knew it had to triumph.
In those dark days of slavery,
Guarding in their hearts the seed of freedom,
The slaves made up a song:
Keep Your Hand on the Plow! Hold On!
That song meant just what it said: Hold On!
Freedom will come!

Labor and industry are the economic plows of our nation. With work and patience, the promise of freedom will be fulfilled. That is the silent thought that many people hold in their hearts, and the promise of America. Immigrants come to America to work and to create a better life for their families. We so often hear about the "costs" of immigration to our society, but these same people never speak of the benefits. Any true and rational economic analysis or policy decisions must include both the costs and the benefits of immigration.

According to the Dreams Across America website:

  • As of May 2006, 33,449 non-citizens served in the armed forces.

  • Undocumented workers pay nearly $7 billion into Social Security and $1.5 billion into Medicare every year, despite being ineligible to collect either of those benefits.

  • Undocumented immigrants are not eligible for any federal programs or services, including food stamps.

  • Immigrants are overwhelmingly willing to assimilate into American society and learn the English language, and the vast majority are completely bilingual by the second generation.

  • In 2005, companies founded by first-generation immigrants employed 450,000 workers and generated $52 billion in sales. 80% of these companies provide jobs in software and innovation/manufacturing-related services.

Immigrants are holding tight to the handle of America's plow. These are the people who seek to come to America legally and to fully integrate themselves into the American dream, but are all too often met by walls of hostility and a cumbersome bureaucratic process that needs reform and humanity. These working immigrants are the people that end up here "illegally" because the process fails them. These are the people who are separated from their children in an immigration process that values punishment over stable families. In fact, immigration violations are not legally a criminal offense. It's a civil violation. Immigrants are not criminals in our legal system, but they're often treated as such.

Immigrants provide value to our economy and to the American way of life. The vast majority of immigrants do not "sneak" across our borders, but come with the open intent to build their lives as Americans, and want to do the "right thing" but our system needs reform.

The plan and the pattern is here,
Woven from the beginning
Into the warp and woof of America:

Those words are at the very foundation of the concept of America. All men are created equal. All. We never said that all Americans are created equal. All.

So here we are today hearing hateful, angry and sometimes violent words about those who've come to America with freedom in their hearts. It's still an economic issue, whether it be enslaved men and women hidden in the dark, ugly corners of American society, or immigrants hiding themselves by remaining just outside the mainstream of America.

Many people that come to America today are economic refugees of globalization, but we talk about commerce and capitalism and globalization out of one side of our mouths and about the immigration "problem" out of the other. We talk about the American way and our values and morals, then we seek to hoard our freedom for ourselves.

It seems that so many want open borders for money and for trade, but certainly not open borders for people. They want the benefits without responsibility for the consequences. Few are asking for an "open border", but many believe we must extend a humanitarian hand to those who have been economically displaced from their homes by the ill effects of globalization, as globalization has most assuredly come on America's terms. People that come here from other nations are often economic refugees from their homeland. It's not up to America to fix the problems of the world, but it is up to us to do our part and accept our responsibility.

Economic disparity in the world creates vast movements of people. It always has. What are we going to do about that? We certainly contribute to the problem, and we need to be responsible for some mitigation of the effects.

It is not a zero sum game, my friends. There is no Us vs Them. America isn't just a place...a continent...a slab of land to be hoarded and coveted like gold. America is a dream and an idea. It holds the secret of freedom that all people hold in their hearts.

A long time ago, but not too long ago, a man said:
His name was Jefferson. There were slaves then,
But in their hearts the slaves believed him, too.
And silently took for granted
That what he said was also meant for them.

People all over the world still believe that what Jefferson said was also meant for them. Who are we to tell them it wasn't?


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Blackwater West update

I just got this week's edition of The Californian, and there's a front page article about the tactics being used to pressure and cajole the residents of Potrero to accept a Blackwater West training camp in their community.

On the local level, Potrero Planning Board Chair Gordon Hammers had an attorney send a letter to the 10 Potrero residents who signed the notice of intent to recall telling them to cease their "libelous and defamatory" comments about him.

When directly asked what libelous and defamatory comments had been made he replied that it wasn't really libelous or slanderous, but "misinformation" regarding their accusations of insufficient community notice. He claims they had plenty of notice.

So why have an attorney send a letter to the citizens that want a recall? Personally, I find it kind of shocking that a publicly elected official would send a legal notice to people exercising their legal right to challenge him. It's a tad intimidating, don't you think?

Additionally Jan Hedlun, the sole PPG member opposed to the establishment of Blackwater West, has had a complaint filed against her with the county about a zoning issue regarding her home. Mr Hammers stated that he had nothing to do with that, but also told her that "little girls who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones or sooner or later it would catch up with her." Insulting and threatening, all in one. Nice.

Both Mr Hammers and Blackwater USA have issued their side of the story via the Potrero Hotline, a newsletter which is published by Mr Hammers.

Hammers has written that the citizens are being used as "pawns" by "far left radicals and extremists", and Brian Bonfiglio of Blackwater USA has submitted the first of a series of articles intended to sell the residents on their plan. Both are claiming their opponents "distort the truth".

Speaking of distorting the truth, he also disputes the use of the term mercenaries to describe Blackwater employees because they don't provide security services for countries other than the United States.

Main Entry: mer·ce·nary
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Latin mercenarius, irregular from merced-, merces wages-- more at MERCY
One that serves merely for wages; especially, a soldier hired into foreign service.

They do hire former soldiers from other than the USA to fight on our behalf. (aka: the coalition of the billing) They do have an affiliated company Greystone, that they refer to as an international supplier of turnkey security solutions.

aka: Mercenaries.

So, we have accusations all around, and no small measure of intimidation. I'm opposed to Blackwater West for the many reasons I've mentioned in the past, but it really frosts my cookies that they've pretty much destroyed the community already.

While I'm on the subject, Blackwater has been in the news plenty in recent weeks.

Blackwater Heavies Sue Families of Slain Employees for $10 Million in Brutal Attempt to Suppress Their Story

Judge Halts Award Of Iraq Contract

Btw, don't forget that Courage Campaign is still collecting signatures on their petition opposing the establishment of a Blackwater West para-military training facility in California.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Our cup runnth over

with candidates. If none of the usual suspects appeal to you, here are a few alternatives:

Christopher Walken for President

General Zod 2008

Macgyver for President

Cthulhu for President

What the hell

Todd at Courage Campaign writes about Pedro Guzman, a US citizen, who was "mistakenly deported".

Mistakenly deported, and now he's missing in Mexico. Mr Guzman is developmentally disabled, and his mother has spent the last month searching for him in Tijuana. She's had to file suit against the US government to enlist their help in returning Mr Guzman to his home in Lancaster, CA. He had been arrested for trespassing at a junkyard, and in April he was sentenced to 90 days in jail. He'd been there about a month, when his mother got a call from him saying he had been deported and was in Tijuana. They lost the connection before getting enough information to find him, and he's not been heard from since.

What the hell? I'm appalled.

As Todd said,
Pedro Guzman is the victim of what happens when you merge the worst of California's broken prison system with the worst of our broken federal immigration system.


What made me even sicker was finishing that article and moving on to the one about Edith Isabel Rodriguez who died in the waiting area of the emergency room while they ignored her and walked around her body as she was writhing in pain on the floor. Her boyfriend and a bystander called 911 when they couldn't get anyone there to help her, but they also did nothing, so the boyfriend went to the police and told them she needed help. They helped by running a warrant check, found an outstanding warrant and arrested her. She died as they were placing her in the squad car.

This happened at a hospital run by the County of Los Angeles. There's no excuse for it.
Tale of last 90 minutes of woman's life

Again, what the hell?

I'm done with the news for today. That's all I can take. I'll leave the racial implications of those two articles for you to contemplate.

Now you see it, now you don't

If you watch this video of Bush doing the handshake thing in this crowd in Albania, you'll see that right about 30-45 seconds into the video someone heists his wristwatch.

Yes, I'm easily amused.

(update) - the official White House story is that Bush slipped it off of his wrist and pocketed it. Where's the fun in that?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Kuninich abandons support for Holt Bill

According to Black Box Voting, Dennis Kucinich has announced via a conference call to Democracyfest that he'll be withdrawing his support from HR 811, also known as the Holt Bill. He also stated that he'll be reintroducing his bill formerly known as HR 6200, which provides for handcounted, paper ballots.

The Holt Bill would in many ways improve the current voting machine situation, but still it further entrenches the current crop of DREs and touchscreens.

As usual, Black Box Voting and BradBlog are on the job.

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Oh, chickenbutt!

This story from Laura Lorson on All Things Considered is very funny, and kinda reminds me of home.

I spent a lot of time with Gran and Nunna when I was a child — I never in my life had a babysitter I was not related to — and their frankly deplorable language, for many years, was something I considered to be our little secret. I was convinced that if my mother learned that Gran and Nunna regularly had profane, obscene verbal pyrotechnics over which was better, chocolate or vanilla, I wouldn't get to go back. Which brings us up to the time, when I was maybe 8 or 9, when the jig was most assuredly and completely up.

Well, not home exactly, but it reminds me of time spent with my ever-bickering, and sometimes shocking, grandparents.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Camp Casey: Sold!

Brad Blog is reporting that former news anchor and current LA progressive talk radio host, Bree Walker, is buying the Camp Casey property in Crawford, Tx.

Cindy Sheehan had originally considered selling the land on ebay, but she's already got an offer so that won't be necessary.

Good. I'm glad. That just seems...right. Espeically since I've always liked Bree Walker since her early broadcasting days here in San Diego.

She's thinking that she'll place a memorial on the land, and maybe a meditation garden. Cindy will be on Walker's radio show, along with Brad Blog's Brad Friedman, tomorrow afternoon. The show is on from 2-4pm. The will talk about plans for the land at that time, so listen in if you get the chance.

Rachel Maddow cracks me up

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Three month delays for passports.

According to this Yahoo news article, the DHS is going to suspend the necessity of having a passport to fly into the US from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda as long as you have proof that you've applied for a passport and government issued ID. They can't keep up with all the applications. They have millions.

It's just going to keep getting worse too, because in six months you'll have to have a passport to cross the border at all. So those of us to live near the border and can normally travel easily back and forth, will now have to pay almost $100 to do what we've done all our lives...and the backlog will grow.

Personally, I think it's annoying. I also think we need to fill out the applications now if we plan to go down to Baja in the near future.

Oooohhh....I bet the club owners in Tijuana are really irked about this. I wonder if it'll cut down on the number of people who cross the border to party in the clubs at night. I imagine it will.

I already have my passport since I went to Peru a couple years ago, but now my husband and son will have to shell out some dough because they cross the border regularly. Hmmm. I wonder how much extra income that is bringing in to the Feds this year. Hundreds of millions.

I think we can call it a special tax on border residents, since that's where there will be the biggest impact.

The Assault on Reason

I finished reading The Assault on Reason by Al Gore this week, and I think it's very good. Al's my favorite non-candidate, and he's written a passionate and informative book on the state of our political discourse.

And you've heard right. He shreds the Bush administration, and makes a well reasoned case that this administration is operating well outside normal constitutional constraints. He doesn't cut Congress much slack for abrogating their constitutional authority either.

But that's not really what the books is about. The Bush administration provides horrifying yet perfect example of what happens when a democratic system starts to show cracks in it's veneer.

According to Gore, and I think he makes the case, the problem is we've lost the participatory part of our participatory democracy. He puts a lot of the blame on our junk media driven society, particularly one way media such as radio and television. One way media turns us into passive consumers of information (be it true or false) and takes away the ability to flex our own thoughts and opinions. It feeds into a sense of powerlessness and divorces us from feeling we're a part of the democratic process because there's no real public debate. This has all contributed to the demise of reasoned political discourse. Many of us have become disconnected from democracy, and that understandably breeds cynicism and further alienation from the democratic process.

He puts a lot of faith into the ideals of the Internet, and it's ability to energize reasoned public debate, as well as reintroduce citizens to the idea of participating in our political system. Gore also makes the case for Net Neutrality, by making the point that decentralized, open debate is essential for the health of our democratic system and the Internet offers that promise.

So I think the answer isn't to bleat about how stupid the "other side" is, or to think that if they we're just educated they'd understand, or to continue to blame others for all the problems we face today, but to re-energize the political process by encouraging participation in the public forum. Staring at the tube, or listening to talk radio isn't participating. It's just receiving, not communicating. As Gore says, "...if citizens feel deprived of a meaningful opportunity to participate in the national conversation, they can scarecely be blamed for developing a lack of interest in the process." The key is to ensure meaningful opportunities.

The Internet is one promising road to that goal, but certainly not the only one. Gore also promotes his venture, Current TV. I need to poke around in there a little more. It looks very cool. Not only do they offer viewer submitted content, but they have lessons and tutorials in making your own videos and advertisements. Very cool.

In summation, I dug the book. Read it. Terryfaceplace gives it a big thumbs up. If you want to buy it at Powell's, please feel free to shop via this link because that will show me a little financial love. But if you're really slick, you'll check it out from the library. Either way, it's a good read.

Clean Money Bill Passes Full Assembly

Woo Hoo. AB 583 passed in the California State Assembly yesterday in a 45-34 vote.

From today's CA Clean Money email update:

The version of AB 583 that passed is a pilot project that will provide full Clean Money public financing for the office of Governor and one open Assembly and State Senate seat in 2010.

Modeled after successful systems in Arizona and Maine, AB 583 will allow Californians the opportunity to vote for a gubernatorial candidate in 2010 who hasn't accepted any money from special interests, as well as serving as a pilot program that will allow California voters and candidates to see how a Clean Money system would actually work in California. After which, they'll almost certainly demand it for all state offices.

As Assemblymember Jared Huffman said describing why we need Clean Money while rising to speak in support of the bill:

"Anyone who thinks that taxpayers are not already paying the price for this broken political system, this money dominated political system, is kidding themselves... The taxpayers are paying a hidden tax because of this money dominated system."

It's a beautiful thing.

The next stop is the Senate Elections Committee, so we're not done yet. I'll let you know when I hear any news.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

CA State Senate Advances Out of Iraq Bill

The state Senate on Wednesday passed a bill that would place before California voters in the Feb. 5 primary an advisory question on whether the president should immediately withdraw U.S. military forces from Iraq.

Senators voted 23-11 along party lines with Democrats in support and Republicans opposed.

If approved by the Assembly and signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the bill would be the first known state declaration against the war. Many cities and local governments have adopted similar nonbinding statements. Backers of the bill are hopeful the measure inspires other states to take similar votes.

Bravos and Credit to Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata.

Delicious Irony Alert:

Some Republicans and political analysts, however, have criticized the bill as a political ploy to lure more votes out for the Feb. 5 primary.

OooOOOoooooh. Luring people out to vote. OoooOOOooooooh.

That made me chuckle because the word luring has negative connotations. As in using bait to trick someone into biting the hook, or a spider luring a fly into her web. Actually, it's a good thing to give people encouragement to vote, doncha think?

They're probably mostly annoyed that the Dems took a page out of their playbook.

LA residents told to cut showers as drought deepens

LA residents told to cut showers as drought deepens

Please note the article says to take short showers, and didn't say to skip showers. I'm just sayin'.

I'm afraid it's going to be a rough summer, water-wise. We've only had about three inches of rain this past year.

Defining when we're experiencing a drought in California is up to the local water authorities. There is no one size fits all formula. According to the San Diego County Water Authority's Drought Management Plan:
“Defining when a drought begins is a function of drought impacts to water users. Hydrologic conditions constituting a drought for water users in one location may not constitute a drought for water users elsewhere, or for water users having a different water supply. Individual water suppliers may use criteria such as rainfall/runoff, amount of water in storage, or expected supply from a water wholesaler to define their water supply conditions.”

So theoretically, LA could be under drought conditions while San Diego might not be, despite getting less rainfall for the year.

Where are we now?

The report states that one of the actions that determines drought in San Diego is if they have to take water from storage to meet demand. (There is a drought action matrix on page 23 of the SDCWA Drought Management Plan.) According to a May 17 article at the North County Times, they're doing that now, and the San Diego County Water Authority has implemented stage one of the Drought Management Plan.

What does that mean?

Take shorter showers. Don't skip them though. My adventures in public transportation already give me enough sensory overload, thankyouverymuch.

As the NC Times article says, consider this your first warning on potential cutbacks, and now's as good a time to start as any. There's a ton of things you can do to voluntarily cut back. Personally, I take action everyday when I tell my son to TURN OFF THE WATER WHILE YOU'RE BRUSHING YOUR TEETH!!


Anyway, here's something extremely cool right here close to home. The Ornamental Horticulture program at Cuyamaca Community College in Rancho San Diego, and all the local water agencies joined together and built a fantastic xeriscape garden in El Cajon where it's too damn hot for any sane person to live, says the voice of experience.

The Garden is open from 9-4 everyday (except some holidays, of course) and they have evening hours some days in the summer. You can rent facilities there for parties, receptions and wedding. Or just go browse the garden to get some water saving ideas for your yard. They have classes too. So go check out The Garden and get inspired to replace your water guzzling landscaping with plants that are meant to grow in our dry, sunny Mediterranean climate.

Tip: Planting a few drought resistant plants is a good idea anytime, but for a full blown relandscaping project it's better in a year where there's more rain. Drought resistant plants need more water the first year while they establish themselves. Just fyi.

Monday, June 04, 2007

What do you mean I have to go to summer school??!!

That's what my son said anyway...

Democracy for America's Night School is a different story though. The new semester begins next week and this time they'll be talking about fund raising.

Here's the schedule:

DFA Night School 2007 Summer Semester

Developing a Finance Plan
Tuesday June 12th 5:30pm Pacific Daylight Time
Click here to RSVP:

Fundraising: Events and Call Time
Tuesday June 19th 5:30pm Pacific Daylight Time
Click here to RSVP:

Fundraising: Online and Email
Tuesday June 26th 5:30pm Pacific Daylight Time
Click here to RSVP:

As always, these little classes are really worthwhile. I always learn something new, and it take one itty bitty hour for each class. After you rsvp, you'll get an email with the necessary details, like the toll free phone number and the passcode.

Then all you have to do is call in for the conference call, and follow along with the provided Powerpoint slides. You can read along online or print them out. It's easy! It's interesting! Go to school!

Clean Money vote in Sac on June 6

AB 583 (The Clean Money and Fair Elections Act of 2007) will get a vote of the full California State Assembly this Wednesday, June 6. Most likely in the afternoon.

Last Thursday, an amended version of AB 583 was voted out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee by a vote of 12 to 5. In its current form, AB 583 will serve as a pilot program and allow California voters and candidates to see how a Clean Money system would work in California.

If enacted, the amended version of AB 583 (Hancock, D-East Bay) would create voluntary, fully-funded public financing for the 2010 Governor’s race, one open Assembly seat, and one open Senate seat.

It's a baby step, but I think it's an important baby step.

Here is a link to a piece by CA Clean Money that explains the pilot program.

If you've not already done so, now's a good time to use CA Clean Money's letter writing widget to send a letter to your representative asking them to support AB 583.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

I'm watching the debate on CNN...

...and nothing so far changes my opinion about any of the Democratic candidates.

I find do Mike Gravel to be completely unlikeable though. I'm not so nuts about Biden either, but Gravel makes him look pretty good.

Hilary trusted Bush on Iraq? How can she say that with a straight face? And that thing about saying we're safer now than we were on 9/11? That's crazy talk.

I was glad to see Obama's response to question about making English the official language. He's right. It is meant to be divisive.

Does this format suck or what?

I was trying to see what's up on Daily Kos but I can't even get connected.

Why did that CNN man call these candidates the anti war left wing of the Democratic Party. I hate CNN.

I still don't like Gravel.

They're not letting Kucinich say much at all, are they?

I often have a hard time watching debates. There's just too much blah blah blah.

And Richardson is right about China and Sudan, afaic.

Ooh. Biden spoke out for clean money. Yay. That would go a long way to solving the earmark problem.

And I still don't like Gravel.

I like Dodd.

Edwards is still in the lead for me though. I think he was best at the beginning, then he kind of disappeared.

And the winner is:

Oops. I cut off the right edge with Wolf Blitzers time to make it fit. The original is here on Chris Dodd's site.

Squirrels gone wild in Balboa Park?

I'll admit right up front that I pretty much gave up on reading Chris Reed's "America's Finest Blog" because, it's really bad. Embarrassingly bad. I wish they would change the name of the blog bad.

So how I stumbled into this, I'm not sure, but I ended up reading an article entitled Top Aguirre aide: Rodents are people, too. And then I read it again. And again.

It suddenly became a twisted compulsion for me to figure out what the hell Reed was talking about because it didn't seem to make a lick of sense.

Since his reference to the squirrel issue is vague and there was no link, I searched and found an article that said people had contacted Michael Aguirre's office about a "wave of furry carcasses in the park, catching the attention of passers-by and animal activists". Last week someone reported two dozen dead and dying squirrels on the bowling lawn. Eww.

There has been a squirrel population explosion at Balboa Park, and in response the park department has been "baiting" ie: poisoning them. When Aguirre's office was contacted he asked the parks and rec department to "pause" and check on the appropriateness and the legality of the long time practice. That is what the City Attorney's Public Integrity Office is supposed to do. Under the direction of deputy DA Kimberly Urie, the Public Integrity Office fields citizen complaints about city actions and investigate the merits of the complaint. Personally, I think that's a good thing. It's a democracy thing. I don't know why anyone would have a problem with that unless there's some kind of unwritten rule within the county of San Diego that says people can't ask questions or demand that the law be followed? Have they taken advantage of an escape clause from the democratic process that hasn't been mentioned to the general public?

That would explain a lot.

Personally, I think it's worth asking about the poison they're using. Zinc phosphide. It's a commonly used rodentcide. It can cause secondary poisoning in cats and dogs, so it seems worth noting that if a public agency is going to use poison over a widespread area and it could kill your pet, at the very least there should be a little public notice in the neighborhood. If there were dead squirrels all over the ground in my neighborhood park, I'd be asking questions too.

So all in all, it's a routine matter and says NOTHING about Aguirre except that he takes citizen concerns seriously. Mr Reed, there's no there there.

Ya know, sometimes Michael Aguirre seems to have a knack for controversy and he really doesn't need any additional "help" from the UT. This looks like they use their blog to help the mayor's office lob tomatoes at Aquirre in the name of keeping his name in the news in a negative manner. I'm surprised they haven't published an article that mentions that he doesn't put the seat down after he uses the john.

So back to Reed's premise in his vague and confusing blog post. He obviously intended it to be snarky, but snark without context or substance is such a disappointment. Of course Ms Urie never said nor implied that rodents are people too, and Mr Reed's ridiculous headline was apparently thought up after he read an open peer commentary she took part in writing that was published in a 2003 edition of the American Journal of Bioethics about cross species scientific experimentation that was in response to a journal article about the ethics of crossing species boundaries in areas such as genomics and stem cell reseach. (Crossing Species Boundaries). Really now. Ethical considerations are an extremely important part of scientific discussion and debate. So she wasn't talking about the creation of a "fringe" vermin rights organization afterall.

Some people these days just don't seem to even understand the concept of open discussion and scientific thought. I think it's sad and scary to find them so prevelant in the mainstream media.

America's Finest Blog took a pretty big logical leap, which leads me to believe that Mr Reed is being intellectually dishonest, because he's made a false correlation here in a extremely lame attempt to smear Aguirre. Or maybe he just doesn't understand all that high falutin' science talk and is content being a cog in the dumbing down of public discourse.

Personally, I'm kind of tired of petty, contrived political mockery AND the trend toward anti-intellectualism, and America's Finest Blog just happened to hit on both those pet peeve issues in one itty bit post.

Crossing Species Boundaries
By Françoise Baylis and Jason Scott Robert

The Humane Imperative: A Moral Opportunity
Kimberly A. Urie; Alison Stanley; Jerold D. Friedman

Primer on Ethics and Crossing Species Boundaries
By Françoise Baylis and Jason Scott Robert

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Adam Kokesh defends his right of dissent

Adam Kokesh of Iraq Veterans Agaisnt the War will be facing a military hearing on Monday for participating in the anti-war actions shown in the video below. He's been discharged from active duty already, but is still in the reserves and the charge is that he was wearing his uniform at a political event. Kokesh was wearing cammos with no military insignia.

The following is video of the Iraq Veterans Against the War street theatre in New York called Operation First Casualty...The Truth.

Marine Vet Adam Kokesh Defends Right of Dissent

VFW Backs Vet in Trouble Over Protest

Col. Dave Lapan, a Marine Corps spokesman, said Kokesh is under administrative review because he wore his uniform at a political event, which is prohibited.

Oh really? But it's ok for Bush to use our military as a political prop as he did when he gave his little mission accomplished speech on the Abraham Lincoln? Interesting.

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Post number 4,537 in my I Love Greg Palast series

Politickybitch has video from May 1 of Greg Palast and RKF, Jr speaking in New York.

Good stuff, and one of the things I learned that I did not know is that Palast's great book Armed Madhouse is now under the Creative Commons license and it's free free free.

Online that is. You still have to pay Powells if you order it from there. ;-)

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Switchfoot Bro-Am on Moonlight Beach

The Switchfoot Bro-Am is still on for tomorrow, June 2, at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas despite the oil spill that's forcing them to cancel the surf competition. So instead of surfing, there will be a "celebrity dodgeball competition" with "surprise guests".

Scary, yet intriguing.

This is the third annual charity event, and this year it will benefit Care House, a San Diego-based nonprofit that provides services to homeless teens.

In totally unrelated athletic type news, the Rock and Roll Marathon is tomorrow too. You can count me out on that one. Whew.

I'd rather sit on the beach with a cooler, and watch dodgeball.


Paul Lehto to speak in Rancho San Diego this Sunday

Here's my first in a series of things to do in San Diego this weekend. Mr Lehto is an interesting fella, and certainly well worth hearing on the subject of protecting our elections. He'll be addressing this Sunday's East County United meeting.

Press release issued by East County United:

Election Rights Attorney Paul Lehto to Speak Sunday, June 3rd in El Cajon on "Restoring Democracy and Stopping Secret Vote-Counting"

Paul Lehto, nationally renown election rights attorney and a leader in the battle to eliminate secret voting on electronic voting machines in San Diego County, will speak on Sunday, June 3rd at 2 p.m. in the Rancho San Diego Library community room. The library is located at 11555 Via Rancho San Diego in El Cajon. The event is sponsored by East County United.

Lehto is also a founder of Psephos, a nonprofit group working to defend citizens’ interests and democracy in the electoral process. Psephos supports a return to secure and verifiable elections in which paper ballots are counted by the people—not by electronic voting machines loaded with secret software.

He views the “right to toss the rascals out” as the number one inalienable right of citizens in a democracy. He believes that election equipment and procedures must be secured against corrupt officials and argues that our rights are at risk “whenever the government can gang up with a chosen vendor to count votes secretly.”

“The government is clearly failing to secure and guarantee to We the People our #1 inalienable right,” Lehto warns. “This is the gravest threat our democracy has ever faced.”

Lehto has led criticism of San Diego County officials for hiring a Debra Seiler, a former sales representative of the Diebold voting machine company, to serve as San Diego’s new Registrar of Voters. “Seiler is known as one of the best PR people or apologists for secret vote-counting that exists in the nation, and she's coming to San Diego County,” Lehto said. He has also opposed hiring of Michael Vu as Assistant Registar of Voters in San Diego. Vu oversaw elections in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, where two employees were convicted of felony election rigging in the 2004 presidential recount election.

The famed election lawyer represents plaintiffs in a lawsuit contesting California’s 50th Congressional district, in which Brian Bilbray was declared the winner over Francine Busby. That case, currently on appeal, has been recognized by international election monitors as major litigation significant to democracy.

He has been praised as “lawyer extraordinaire” by Bob Fitrakis, editor of and dubbed “our consigliere of truth in elections” by internationally acclaimed journalist Greg Palast, author of Armed Madhouse. Lehto has also been called a “genius” by Mark Crispin Miller, author of Fooled Again: How the Right Stole the 2004 Election & Why They'll Steal the Next One Too (Unless We Stop Them)

The Everett, Washington-based business law and consumer fraud attorney was named a “Rising Star” by Washington State Law and Politics magazine in 2003 and 2004. He wrote a paper exposing election irregularities in Washington involving electronic voting machines. His paper contains what he terms “smoking gun proof of electronic election fraud” and was featured in the book, “Was the 2004 Presidential Election Stolen?”

Lehto has also filed a personal lawsuit seeking to void purchase contracts for Sequoia electronic voting machines in Washington on grounds that trade secrets and secret vote-counting should not be legal in democratic elections.

For additional information on Psephos and Paul Lehto, visit

East County United, sponsor of the event, is a nonpartisan political action committee dedicated to educating our community about issues of importance and supporting candidates who believe in preserving principals of democracy, respecting sanctity of the Constitution, and protecting public education. East County United supports candidates who reflect these values and who are ethically honorable, socially compassionate and fiscally responsible to serve in public office and represent all East County residents including working people, families, the middle class, the poor, people of all races and religions, the elderly, and our children.

This event is free to the public. Donations to benefit East County United and Psephos are welcome. For more information on East County United, visit For details, call (619)316-0657.

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What is vote caging you ask?

Brad Blog has the latest, very interesting news this morning about the US Attorney purge.
Tim Griffin, formerly right hand man to Karl Rove, resigned Thursday as US Attorney for Arkansas hours after BBC Television 'Newsnight' reported that Congressman John Conyers requested the network's evidence on Griffin's involvement in 'caging voters.' Greg Palast, reporting for both BBC Newsnight and Democracy Now, obtained a series of confidential emails dating from the 2004 presidential election in which the GOP operative transmitted so-called 'caging lists' of voters to state party leaders.

Palast has been talking about this for quite a while now, but as usual, the MSM isn't picking up on what seems to be a big dang deal. In her testimony to congress, this year's Monica referred to vote caging by the GOP. What is vote caging you ask? For one, it's illegal. For two, it's a method that can be used to illegally and inappropriatly purge voter rolls. In a nutshell, they send mail to voters and if it comes back undelivered, they scrub them off the rolls. Before the 2004 election, there is a lot of evidence showing that it was used to purge primarily African American voters from the registrar's list. That's illegal.

Say for example, you were in the Marine Corp serving your country. Maybe you're stationed in Baghdad? Do you get your mail that's sent to your home address? No, you don't. Are you still eligible to vote? Yes, you are. Oops...but not if you've been caged! It's wrong. It's inappropriate. It's illegal, and there's enough evidence out there to investigate. Just Do It, Mr Conyers.

See? There are connections between this DOJ scandal and OUR elections.

Anyway, I've got to run off to work now, but you read up on this because it's important. Mark my words!

(edit- btw, there seems to be a lot of talk that Griffin is going to work for Fred Thompson's presidential campaign. Interesting that several of the Bush/Rove people are heading toward that campaign.)

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