Friday, August 7, 2009

Kirkpatrick Cancels

The (never) right-wing rent-a-mobs managed to shut down a local town hall meeting before it even started:

Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona is the latest Democrat overrun by protesters at a local town hall event.

Sources say the protesters showed up after a robocall -- it's unclear from whom -- went out to Arizona voters encouraging them to show up at the event. The event was supposed to involve one on one chats with Kirkpatrick, a freshman member of Congress.

Kirkpatrick was unable to get the event started and canceled it.

"I am disappointed that the event was disrupted by a small but vocal group," Kirkpatrick said. "I grew up in Greater Arizona, and I remember the days when folks who disagreed would do so respectfully and were still able to work together on the important issues to find solutions."

Kirkpatrick is the latest Democrat to run into what Republicans have called "recess roastings," as congressional town halls from Utica, N.Y. to Austin, Texas, to Green Bay, Wis., have been disrupted this week by protesters. Debate continues over how genuine a grass roots movement this is, but POLITICO has reported that national conservative interest groups have helped organize some of the opposition.

"These 'chats' are meant to give people a chance to let me know what they need and what's important to them, and today's disruptions meant that a lot of folks did not get that chance," Kirkpatrick said. "I look forward to more public events, but more importantly I look forward to a return of civility and respectful dialogue where the focus is on the people and not scoring political points."

UPDATE: Turns out the anti-health reform group Conservatives for Patients Rights posted the Kirkpatrick event on its listing of town halls.

Not a big surprise, as Ann Kirkpatrick isn't exactly a courageous fighter for her constituents. When I talked with her at a July 4th picnic, she didn't even have an articulate position on health care, except that she "supported reform." So I'm not a big fan of Kirkpatrick.
But I was ready and willing to stand up against these thugs, and help Ann talk with her constituents. It's all about real democracy, and also that I'm big enough (and ugly enough) to intimidate bullies. Dialogue is good; shouting and disruptions aren't. When an angry mob wants to shut down conversation, decent people need to stand up to them. Sure, you're free to protest. But you're not free to prevent others right to free speech. I realize that there's no guarantee of 'civil discourse' in the constitution, but if enough people stand up to the screamers perhaps we can actually talk about how best to reform health care.
Please, Ann, don't run away from these mobs. People like me are ready to get your back. Standing firm is the only way to make bullies back down.

A Masked Boobie

Friday's are for Boobies.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Don Your Robes, Justice Sotomayor

Congratulations to our newest Supreme Court Justice. The vote was 68-31 (Byrd was wheeled in; Kennedy still out), with no surprises.
I don't think she'll be all that liberal, perhaps more conservative than David Souter, and her seating won't change the balance of the court (still controlled by the five conservatives). But it's nice to see the court becoming more diverse.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Local Wind Power

Finally, a real plan for a wind power plant in our area. Anybody who lives around here knows that we have plenty of wind, especially east of town. I've hiked in the Grapevine Canyon area, and there's plenty of room for a wind farm. Here's the proposal:

Wind developers are proposing to build the first major wind farm near Flagstaff on a cattle ranch about 22 miles southeast of the city.

Foresight Wind Energy is proposing to install 130 to 330 large turbines on the Flying M Ranch east of Mormon Lake and tie into federally owned power lines. In all, the proposed project could cover 55 square miles, and if fully built-out, provide the equivalent of 500 megawatts of electricity. About 100 megawatts of electricity would power half of Flagstaff -- or 25,000 to 30,000 homes in the Southwest. A 500 megawatt project would power 125,000 homes.

I do have some concerns about the location. There are areas around that are far windier, but the Flying M ranch happens to be owned by the right people:

The Flying M Ranch is owned by the Metzger family, which runs cattle on a checkerboard of state and private land. Mandy Metzger is a Coconino County supervisor.

It kind of sucks that an otherwise good idea comes with a taint of cronyism. I know Mandy, and did some volunteer work on her campaign, so I'm really hoping that there's nothing corrupt behind the land choice. But it is a concern that I plan to discuss with her.

But I'm glad that we're about to harvest the wind. Now we need more solar plants to go along with it. Because, along with wind, sunshine is another thing we have in abundance here. Witness the mighty solar powered garbage can:

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Happy Birthdays

A famous duo:

President Barack Obama, marking his 48th birthday, takes a break from his official duties to bring birthday greetings to veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas, left, who shares the same birthday and turns 89, Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2009, in the White House Press Briefing Room in Washington. Helen Thomas has covered every president since John F. Kennedy. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Happy wishes to both, but I think I'd have more fun at Helen's party. I bet she can tell some great stories.

Clinton in North Korea

Former President Bill Clinton is in Pyongyang, meeting with Kim Jong-Il:

Former President Bill Clinton met Tuesday with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il on the first day of a surprise visit to Pyongyang, with the "exhaustive" talks covering a wide range of topics, state-run media said.

Kim engaged Clinton in a "wide-ranging exchange of views on matters of common concern," the report said.

Clinton was in communist North Korea on a mission to secure the release of Americans Euna Lee and Laura Ling, reporters for former Vice President Al Gore's Current TV media venture who were arrested along the Chinese-North Korean border in March and sentenced in June to 12 years of hard labor for illegal entry and
engaging in "hostile acts."

A senior U.S. official confirmed to reporters traveling to Africa with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that the former president was in North Korea to secure their release, but said the White House would not comment until the mission was complete.

"While this solely private mission to secure the release of two Americans is on the ground, we will have no comment," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a statement. "We do not want to jeopardize the success of former President Clinton's mission."

This could be quite interesting. Clinton isn't the first former President to go to North Korea; Jimmy Carter went in 1994. But this is a whole new dynamic in international diplomacy, with the former President's wife being the current Secretary of State. Because of this, anything Bill says will be seen as official U.S. policy; even though he doesn't hold any official position, he carries an international gravitas unlike any other individual. In some ways that makes this a brilliant move with regard to the diplomatic impasse with North Korea, as the Obama administration can maintain a plausible distance from any concessions toward formal diplomatic relations, while creating an open conduit for communications. But there are perils with this move, by both creating a new GOP attack talking point and allowing Kim Jong-Il a new propaganda campaign. Relations with North Korea have been an almost impossible dilemma, with no good options available, but this may be the most creative diplomatic move in recent history. Because of the international respect for both Clintons, the world will pay attention.

We'll see how this all plays out, but I'm betting that Bill will get the journalists released. And that's a good place to start.

(Added: Well, that didn't take long. The journalists have been "pardoned", and that they will be released during Clinton's visit. Nice work, Bill Clinton.)


Or, more precisely, re-connected. The 'bootleg' wireless that I had been using (for free) has faded to the point of being almost non-existent, leaving me off the internet. So I've finally broken down and agreed to pay (shudder) for real internet service. It was a difficult decision for me, as one of the keys to surviving in poverty is being a tightwad. I pinch every penny until it is concave. But I really want to be here, so I've re-arranged my budget priorities enough to afford the service (but any donations will be gratefully accepted). This means I might post something beyond Boobies, and with greater frequency. Actual quality of posts will still be debatable.