Saturday, August 11, 2007

A new constitution?

Via PoliTits, I read this post at Phydeaux Speaks (a new blog to me) calling for a new "Constitutional Convention in the 21st Century"
It's long, but a very thoughtful post and well worth reading.


To open this post let me state for the record: I'm a liberal who grew up in San Francisco, in a working class, multi-racial neighborhood, so my perspective is rather open.
As a child, back in 1963, my father had a training class that took us to Virginia for 3 months (the training was in computers and that became Dad's career). I was only 4 years old, but I noticed something troubling. Every public building had 2 drinking fountains, 1 marked "white" and 1 marked "colored" (yeah, I started reading young). I asked my mother "why?". Mom's is quite a liberal herself, but I don't think she was quite ready to explain racism to a 4 year old. She tried to say "well, they do thing differently here" but I wasn't satisfied. I said "but that's wrong. They're all just people". Mom told me I was right, and that I should never forget that "we're all just people". As the civil rights movement and the riots played out during my childhood I held firmly to the belief "we're all just people".
During my teenage years, the gay rights movement began. I knew that I wasn't gay (hell, once I discovered girls I was hooked for life), but several of my friends were. I joined them in the marches, because I believe in equal rights. To me, the issue was simple: "we're all just people".
Lest you think this is just some hippie-dippy love fest, I'm not that nice. I've read some blogs saying they don't think I'm "mean" and I'm not. But I'm also no softy. While in my first year of college, I was on the football team (actually played 2 years) and there was this guy who was a bully. He was a big, black linebacker and I a skinny, white wide receiver. But when he tried to bully another player, I tore into him. I've never backed down from a fight in my life, and I've found that bullies are usually cowards at heart. My teammates thanked me. The point of the story is that all groups have their share of bad people.
A few years ago my favorite brewery, Mogollon, had a delightful lesbian bartender. One day she jokingly said "sometimes I wonder about us (the LGBT community). We're fighting to get into the military and marriage. Aren't those the 2 most screwed-up institutions around?". We laughed, but the true answer came back to "equal rights".
We can always find something to divide us. We each have our differences. It's part of the beauty of life. Celebrate our diversity (it's great for the restaurants) and remember: "we're all just people".

Saturday thoughts

Some assorted thoughts on a Saturday:

Got a call from an old friend this morning. It was great to hear from her, and I've certainly missed her in the years since she moved away. She's had some rough patches over the past couple of years, and I really wanted to give her a hug. Here's an electronic hug to you, S.

Speaking of people who could use a hug, Becky of Just a Girl in Short Shorts Talking About Whatever has been facing some really hateful attacks from the bottom dwellers of the cybersphere. Send her some love and support.

One of the rewards of having this humble blog is finding all sorts of interesting other blogs, often via comments. The blogroll keeps expanding, and that makes me happy. As I browse my blogroll, I find a ton of interesting things. So if my blogging gets boring (or I'm not saying anything) please check out some of the fine folk on the list.

Hurricane Flossie? We're getting hurricanes in the shape of cows?

Does anybody outside of Iowa care about today's straw poll? I predict that the winner will be a rich white guy who I would never vote for.

And our shrub is still a disaster, but at least he's on vacation. Would that it were permanent.

(pic above is from a Grand Canyon trip a few years ago. My current camera has better resolution.)

Friday, August 10, 2007

Head in a box

Somebody in YellowKnife came here in search of "head in box" while Zymurgian and I were checking the ol' sitemeter for fun.
Me: Have we ever posted "head in a box"?
Zymurgian: "I didn't".
Me: "Would you post a 'head in box"?
Zymurgian: "Got any pictures?".
added: Zymurgian said: "It's art for art's sake".

Throwing Money Around

I'm no economist, but I'm really having a hard time understanding this:

Aug. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Central banks in the U.S., Europe, Japan, Australia and Canada added about $135.7 billion to the banking system in an attempt to avert a crisis of confidence in global credit markets.

The Federal Reserve, in a second day of action in concert with the European Central Bank, provided $38 billion of reserves and pledged further funds ``as necessary,'' in a statement unprecedented since the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The European Central Bank loaned 61.05 billion euros ($83.6 billion) after injecting a record amount yesterday.

``This is a situation of great uncertainty,'' said Alice Rivlin, a former Fed vice chairman who's now at the Brookings Institution in Washington. Central banks ``are all injecting credit in hopes that collectively they can stabilize things.''

Central banks in Japan and Australia also added funds as money-market rates rose. The subprime crisis is spreading after international investors in the past year piled into the U.S. market for debt backed by mortgages.

Where is all this money coming from? Isn't throwing more money into the market really just expanding the problems?

I admit that I really don't pay much attention to the stock market. Having spent most of my adult life only slightly above the poverty level, I'm not part of the "investor class". I have a small 401k from a previous job that I hope to collect on someday, but that's about it. As Mr. Dylan said, "when you ain't got nothing, you got nothing to lose".

Tantrum Time

Our shrub is likely to throw a major tantrum today. His dogs should hide if he sees this picture:

Yep, Nouri al-Maliki and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are holding hands, and talking about working together. Via
First, he faced the difficulty that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki affirmed that Iran is playing a helpful role in Iraq. This statement came on the heels of a similar assertion by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, which Bush contradicted. So he contradicted al-Maliki, as well. Somehow, unlike Fox Cable News, US allies in the Middle East don't seem to be able just to parrot White House talking points. But Bush in correcting al-Maliki got off on a flight of rhetoric and seemed to be addressing him personally with a threat. Later on he had to clarify that the threat was directed against Iran, not al-Maliki. Al-Maliki is a longtime activist of the [Shi`ite] Islamic Call Party (Da`wa), which sought refuge in Iran during the 1980s and 1990s from Saddam Hussein's persecution. Da`wa has every reason to be deeply indebted to Iran and can't be expected to badmouth the ayatollahs. Bush seems to be continually surprised to find that he has put Iran's allies in power in Kabul and Baghdad. Attempting to explain why al-Maliki was so warmly greeting the Iranian officials he was meeting Bush said, '"You don't want the picture to be kind of, you know, duking it out," Bush said, holding up his fists like a boxer as he called Iran "a very troubling nation" that must be isolated.' Iran's press stressed that Supreme Jurisprudent Ali Khamenei pledged full Iranian support for the elected government of Iraq, urged unity among all Iraq's religious and sectarian groups, and said that peace would only return when US troops departed the country.

Of course, The Cheney has other ideas:

Behind the scenes, however, the president's top aides have been engaged in an intensive internal debate over how to respond to Iran's support for Shiite Muslim groups in Iraq and its nuclear program. Vice President Dick Cheney several weeks ago proposed launching airstrikes at suspected training camps in Iran run by the Quds force, a special unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, according to two U.S. officials who are involved in Iran policy.

The debate has been accompanied by a growing drumbeat of allegations about Iranian meddling in Iraq from U.S. military officers, administration officials and administration allies outside government and in the news media. It isn't clear whether the media campaign is intended to build support for limited military action against Iran, to pressure the Iranians to curb their support for Shiite groups in Iraq or both.

Regional co-operation just might help stabilize Iraq. The reality is that Iran has a huge stake in a stable Iraq. If we attack Iran we will be doomed to a regional war that we simply cannot win.

Boobie Friday

The Friday Boobie is here. Thinking Blogger, indeed.

Equal Rights

I guess it's a small step forward to have the Democratic candidates address the LGBT community at the HRC/LOGO forum, but most of them sounded weak overall. It should have been an opportunity for one of them to show some courage. Only Kucinich and Gravel came out in support of gay marriage.
This should be a really simple issue...say it with me:"equal rights for all". See? it's not that hard.
Look, I'm a heterosexual white male. So I don't have a personal stake in the issue, except that I do. Discrimination is wrong. Period. Didn't we learn this during the civil rights struggle?
The right-wing christianists aren't going to vote for a Democrat, regardless of their stand on gay marriage, so there's nothing to lose.
I really wish I heard one of the major candidates showing the courage to say "equal rights for all".

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Wow, Thanks

Jess at I Was Just Wondering gave us one of these:

I am totally flattered. I started this little blog because I wanted a space to express my thoughts, have a dialogue, and, yes, to rant about the things that piss me off in America today. I invited Sweaterman, Zymurgian, and Ghandisxmas to join in because they're really smart guys who make me think (I've also invited several very smart women to join, but so far none have). In the few month's that I've been blogging, I've been introduced to some really nice blogs (see the blogroll) and received some great comments. I never expected to get rich, become famous, or win awards, but now the latter has happened. Now I guess I'll have to get to work on the first two (just kidding).

Along with the fame and fortune of being a "thinking blogger", I get the privilege of awarding five other bloggers who make me think. The entire blogroll is deserving, but most of them already have one, so here are my picks:

DCUP at PoliTits is provocative, funny, and very smart. She's also flirtatious, which makes her a daily read.

Fairlane at Jones Town writes wonderfully snarky pieces that are a great relief when I'm almost ready to tear my hair out.

Becky at Just a Girl in Short Shorts Talking About Whatever is a bold, beautiful woman who's very straightforward about who she is and what she thinks (yes, that was a joke Becky). She also plays softball, so what's not to like?

Judiphilly at truth, justice, and peace writes very thoughtful essays and posts great cartoons.

And while I wish he'd post more frequently, Karlo at swerve left is well worth reading.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go build a trophy case. Thanks, Jess.

On this date


Ah, the good old days when presidents were accountable.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

What do we want

I'm failing to come up with a comprehensive post that explains what government is for. As a citizen, I would like to know that my food and water are safe. Working, I want a certain level of safety. I would like to have confidence in a bridge that I drive over. When I need medical care I don't want to wonder if it is profitable to treat my problem. This is the main philosophical issue we face today: is government the way to solve problems (liberal view) or is government the problem (conservative view).
Please comment.
"government of the people, by the people, for the people"

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Barry did it

No need to link to anything, but he DID IT!
Added: 756 has been achieved. 860 has not.

Sadaharu Oh or officially Wang Chenchih (Chinese: 王貞治; Pinyin: Wáng Zhēnzhì, Hepburn: Ō Sadaharu, born May 20, 1940, in Sumida, Tokyo, Japan), is a former baseball player and manager of the Yomiuri Giants in Nippon Professional Baseball and is the current manager of the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks. He holds the professional baseball record for home runs, having hit 868 in his prestigious career.

Oh is the son of a Chinese father and a Japanese mother. Because of nationality laws at the time, Oh has never been a Japanese citizen,
but in fact a national of the Republic of China, though he speaks only Japanese.

Mental Health

If you've read this blog for any length of time then you know that I'm a former mental health worker. This evening I felt like I was back in the field. Here's the scenario, woman who is obviously mentally ill, homeless, comes into the bar. She's a mess. I get to be the person that hears her paranoid rants. I know I'm talking to someone who's a classic paranoid schizophrenic (hell. I can diagnose at 50 yards). So I try to talk with her about her treatment plans. None. I would try to offer her help, but I know that the system doesn't exist. I find myself getting angry that I really can't help this woman much.
And I'm angry at some of my bar "buddies" who asked me "why are you talking with that crazy lady?". When did compassion become such a social rarity?
"I was talkin' to a homeless drunk about religion
He said it's all I got, but it ain't much" John Bell.

The benefits of the Iraq war

Here's a nice little report on the costs and benefits of the Iraq war:

While Congressional Budget Office reports showed a gloomy outlook for US costs in Iraq, last week several of Washington's biggest defense contractors released profit reports disclosing huge growth in divisions benefiting from military contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Northrop Grumman's information and services division showed 15% growth and its electronics division 7% for the second quarter compared with the same fiscal quarter last year.

General Dynamics' combat-systems unit experienced 19% growth in sales due to continued demand for tanks and armored vehicles, while Lockheed Martin announced a 34% rise in profits to $778 million.

Lockheed's newest revenue projections are now as high as $41.75 billion.

Miriam Pemberton, research fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, told IPS that 2008 military-related appropriations are the highest they've ever been. The year 2007 was the highest before that.

Follow the money to Eisenhower's "military industrial complex".

Mine Safety

Read this part of the news of the Utah mine collapse:

Government mine inspectors have issued 325 citations against the mine since January 2004, according to an analysis of federal Mine Safety and Health Administration online records. Of those, 116 were what the government considered
"significant and substantial," meaning they are likely to cause injury.

Having 325 safety violations is not unusual, said J. Davitt McAteer, former head of the MSHA and now vice president of Wheeling Jesuit University in West
. "It's not perfect but it's certainly not bad."

This year, inspectors have issued 32 citations against the mine, 14 of them considered significant. Last month, inspectors cited the mine for violating a rule requiring that at least two separate passageways be designated for escape
in an emergency.

It was the third time in less than two years that the mine had been cited for the same problem, according to MSHA records. In 2005, MSHA ordered the mine owners to pay $963 for not having such escape routes. The 2006 fine for the same problem was just $60.

Overall, the federal government has ordered the mine owner to pay nearly $152,000 in penalties for its 325 violations, with many citations having no fines calculated yet. Since January, the mine owner has paid $130,678 in fines, according to MSHA records.

Asked about safety, Murray told reporters: "I believe we run a very safe coal
mine. We've had an excellent record."

Mining has always been dangerous, but there are ways to make it safer. Clearly the mine owners decided that it was cheaper to pay the fines, rather than fix the problems. The fine for NOT having escape routes was $963 in 2005 and $60 for 2006. I have no idea what it would have cost to build the required escape routes, but why should they when it's so much more profitable to pay the fine. While the fate of the six miners is not yet known, the lack of safety enforcement is.

Monday, August 6, 2007

I'm being lazy

So I'll put up some pics. The San Juan in April.

PDB Blogswarm

I see that bluegal has started a blogswarm for the 6th anniversary of the presidential daily briefing titled "Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S.". Because we love bluegal, we're in.
Remember this story?

[A]n unnamed CIA briefer who flew to Bush’s Texas ranch during the scary summer of 2001, amid a flurry of reports of a pending al-Qaeda attack, to call the president’s attention personally to the now-famous Aug. 6, 2001, memo titled “Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US.” Bush reportedly heard the briefer out and replied: “All right. You’ve covered
your ass, now.”

The administration was too busy trying to figure out a way to start a war with Iraq to care about Bin Laden. And the rest is history.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Useless Dems

Some day's it isn't worth crawling out of my cave.