Friday, June 30, 2006

Still Waiting for Windsource Response

Dear Sallie,

On June 16, I received an email that said in 1 - 3 business days I should expect to receive a reply to my email inquiry about Windsource. I haven't received a response yet, and am wondering when I might expect one.

Thank you,
Julie O.

Read Between Orrin's Lines: The Founders Were Stoopid

Here's what Orrin Hatch had to say about the Supreme Court (via AmericaBlog):

Speaking of the flag burning amendment, Republican Senator Orrin Hatch said the amendment would:
"restore the constitution to what it was before unelected jurists changed it five to four." He went on to say, "Five lawyers decided 48 states were wrong."

[emphasis added]

Here's what he's really saying:
"I hate the system of government that was established by our Founding Fathers."

How surprised do you think Alexander Hamilton would be to know that a man who has been in the Legislature longer -- "B-b-but ... I'm elected!!" -- than every Supreme Court Justice but one (pdf) is upset that he can't be the judge of what is and is not Constitutional?

Not very. Of the necessity of an appointed, unelected judiciary which serves a lifetime post during good behavior, Hamilton writes this:
In a monarchy it is an excellent barrier to the despotism of the prince; in a republic it is a no less excellent barrier to the encroachments and oppressions of the representative body. And it is the best expedient which can be devised in any government, to secure a steady, upright, and impartial administration of the laws.

Why is an unelected judiciary so necessary in our system of government?
Though I trust the friends of the proposed Constitution will never concur with its enemies,3 in questioning that fundamental principle of republican government, which admits the right of the people to alter or abolish the established Constitution, whenever they find it inconsistent with their happiness, yet it is not to be inferred from this principle, that the representatives of the people, whenever a momentary inclination happens to lay hold of a majority of their constituents, incompatible with the provisions in the existing Constitution, would, on that account, be justifiable in a violation of those provisions; or that the courts would be under a greater obligation to connive at infractions in this shape, than when they had proceeded wholly from the cabals of the representative body. Until the people have, by some solemn and authoritative act, annulled or changed the established form, it is binding upon themselves collectively, as well as individually; and no presumption, or even knowledge, of their sentiments, can warrant their representatives in a departure from it, prior to such an act. But it is easy to see, that it would require an uncommon portion of fortitude in the judges to do their duty as faithful guardians of the Constitution, where legislative invasions of it had been instigated by the major voice of the community.

People who love the flag more than the Constitution can't dick around with the fundamental law through their elected, and therefore subject to the whims of popular opinion, legislators.

Until the pseudo-patriots can get their flag-burning amendment into the Constitution to exempt a particular form of speech from protection by the 1st Amendment, or they can stack the court with their ideological cohorts who have no interest in protecting certain unpopular rights, the Justices are absolutely correct and in line with our system of government in protecting the minority from the encroachments of the majority.

Orrin Hatch, as usual, is having an ego-driven temper tantrum.

Swervy McTalkincrash

I've seen one drunk driver in my entire life, back in the early 90s. He was weaving dangerously all over the freeway.

But just about every day that I drive these days, I see people drifting into other lanes, hitting the brakes too hard at the last second, pulling dangerously out into traffic, or in some other way causing a potential hazard because they've got one hand and nearly all of their attention on a cell phone.

So I completely believe this study.

Tancredo's Tangled Web

His lies confuse him.

He told Rocky Mountain News during his second term that he had no intention of breaking his term-limits pledge, and now he says he told constituents in his first term that his pledge was meaningless.

ColoradoLib has links to two sites which cover this.

Irrational Right Wing Hatred

I think I can actually understand this type of anger. If someone hurt my children, I would want them to die slowly and painfully.

But how far gone down Insanity Row do you have to be to wish for the torturous end of people who report rather mundane information that doesn't actually cause harm to anyone because the terrorists already know? (Via Atrios.)


In a note on the paper's Web site Sunday, Executive Editor Bill Keller said the Times spent weeks discussing with Bush administration officials whether to publish the report.

He said part of the government's argument was that the anti-terror program would no longer be effective if it became known, because international bankers would be unwilling to cooperate and terrorists would find other ways to move money.

"We don't know what the banking consortium will do, but we found this argument puzzling," Keller said, pointing out that the banks were under subpoena to provide the information. "The Bush Administration and America itself may be unpopular in Europe these days, but policing the byways of international terror seems to have pretty strong support everywhere."

...

Keller said the administration also argued "in a halfhearted way" that disclosure of the program "would lead terrorists to change tactics."

But Keller wrote that the Treasury Department has "trumpeted ... that the U.S. makes every effort to track international financing of terror. Terror financiers know this, which is why they have already moved as much as they can to cruder methods. But they also continue to use the international banking system, because it is immeasurably more efficient than toting suitcases of cash."

The only possible effect the release of this information will have is on the Bush Administration's popularity at home, since terrorists already know. So Right Wing Nutjobs want to torture people who hurt the status of the Bush Administration?

The RWNJs are doing more to hurt the United States than 1000 terrorists could do. At least the terrorists only hurt us physically. The RWNJs are destroying our system of government and our unity. And I still don't wish for RWNJs to be tortured to death.

... Also via Atrios, more on this brand of RWNJ violent fantasy. Lee Siegel of TNR, who thinks bloggers are fascists because we ridicule people's stupid ideas occasionally and call them names, now would like to cut off people's heads because he doesn't like baseball caps. Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings has a must read post:
"When I see someone wearing a baseball cap in a movie theater, I want them to bring back the guillotine."

Well, I thought as I read this, that explains a lot about why Lee Siegel seems not to notice the line between calling people wankers and sending them to Auschwitz.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Makes You Wonder ...

what the hell was it doing there in the first place!?

Three companies decide to remove LEAD from CANDY.
In some cases, acidic contents of the candy caused lead in the packaging to leach into the treats, Delgadillo said.

...

"The companies don't agree that any candy they ever sold would be associated with lead poisoning," he said.

Of course they don't.

But they're very sorry they have to discontinue their best-sellers: Choco-Lead Paint Chips™ that come in 6 colors and Tinny Tuna Taffy Fun Fish-Shaped Chews™.

Housing Prices Go Down

Interest rates go up.

I think I'd rather have a lower house price. Since we will be hanging on to the house for many years, when interest rates eventually lower and housing prices increase we can refinance at a lower rate AND have more equity.

Looking ahead.

Free Stuff!

There will be a 35 hour art-a-thon at the Denver Museum starting at 10am, October 7 straight through till 9pm October 8. If only it were legal to drug your kids and leave them in their beds so you can drive downtown at midnight to stare at art (legal disclaimer: which I won't).

But you do have to have tickets, which start getting distributed at 9am, only on site.

U.S. Interstates 50th Anniversary

The Denver Post has some interesting facts about our interstates.

Here are some more interesting facts from the 40th Anniversary.
While it is not typically thought of in this way, the system is in reality a gift from one group of people --- highway users --- to the nation as a whole, which has reaped a gain of at least $6 in benefit for each $1 spent in construction. And that's just the beginning --- there are additional benefits such as higher employment rates and greater economic opportunity that are simply beyond quantification.

Last week at the bookstore, I was leafing through a book on advertising when I found an ad from the 70s which featured a side-by-side map for comparison of the intricate U.S. interstate system and the sparse Soviet system. The economic implications for the two countries are pretty obvious, but there's also the issue of national defense:
Throughout the Cold War (and even to today), America's strategic advantage in effective surface transportation was unchallenged. Even today, no constituent nation of the late Soviet Union has begun to develop such a comprehensive surface transportation system.

In the post-communist world, it may be tempting to underestimate the role of the interstate highway system in national defense. But the interstate highway system continues to play a critical role. The U.S. military's Strategic Highway Corridor Network (STAHNET) relies primarily on the interstate highway network, which represents 75 percent of network mileage. The U.S. Army cited the that system as being critical to the success of the 1990-1991 "Desert Shield-Desert Storm operation ...

Eminent domain, judiciously applied, can be a very good thing.

One Step Back from Fascism

Thank you, Liberals and Moderate of the Supreme Court, for reaffirming the Constitutional limits of the President.

And to those who think we can't let quaint niceties like Geneva Conventions and Constitutional limits hinder the war against terror, think about what you're really saying: the United States can't keep terrorism at bay, only pseudo-fascist dictatorships can. Which is what people like Bill O'Reilly admit to when they say things like "I would run Iraq like Saddam ran it."

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Bill O'Reilly's New Venture: Threaten-A-Cat

A subsidiary of Confuse-A-Cat?:
The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day

The saga of Lewis the Cat continues. You may remember, Lewis was running around his Connecticut neighborhood assaulting people, like the Avon lady. So authorities charged his owner, Ruth Cicero, with reckless endangerment unless she put Lewis down.

But now a reprieve. Judge Patrick Carroll has ruled that Lewis can continue to live but can never leave the house again. No comment from Lewis, even though he has his own page on MySpace.com, which might, of course, be ridiculous. Mess around with me, Lewis, boy.

Ridiculous? You make the call.

It takes a big man to threaten a cat on national TV.

Update: O'Reilly now claims he'd run that Connecticut neighborhood just like Lewis the Cat ran it.

Flag Burning Amendment Failed By One

No thanks to Ken Salazar. Evan Bayh, who's apparently a possible presidential contender, voted for it. Hell, Evan, even Lieberman voted against it. (via WashParkProphet)

Anyone who died for the American Flag had their priorities seriously out of whack. You're supposed to be fighting to defend the Constitution and our system of government, the real tangible things that constrain our government and our neighbors to make us free and equal.

I think there's a very good reason the Ten Commandments forbids graven images. Though symbols and images can help to focus one's concentration on something, such as for prayers, meditation, battle ... whatever - those symbols and images can also get in the way. People start thinking their god actually is the image they worship. Instead of using the symbol as a method of channelling focus into the real issue, they start believing that the symbol itself is the real issue. Symbols become more real than the reality they claim to revere.

So it is with the flag. Anti-flag burning amendment proponents are confusing the symbol for the reality. They see the flag as the embodiment of freedom and America, so any attack on it is an actual physical attack on freedom and America. Ironically then, the only way that they know to protect freedom and America is to curb the freedom of Americans.

They Get Letters correspondence with Salazar on flag burning:
Ken Salazar, Flag-Burning Crusader
Response from Sen. Salazar on Flag Burning
Sen. Salazar's Defense Inadequate

Texas Redistricting: Racial Gerrymandering

The Supreme Court says states can redraw Congressional Districts whenever they like, not just every ten years after a census.

I don't like the idea of having my representatives shifted about at any time for the political expediency of those who manage to eek out a majority. It's hard enough getting people involved and empowered without confusing them about who their representative is and making them feel no sense of stability or surety.

But at least the court acknowledged that District 23 in Texas was gerrymandered purely for racial disenfranchisement. Barely.
The court’s four most conservative members opposed the part of the decision that found a violation of the Voting Rights Act.

Justice Antonin Scalia complained that the court should have shut the door on claims of political gerrymandering in map drawing.

'Cause the last thing a hypocritical prick like Scalia wants is an accurate representation of the country's political leanings, or he'd never have had a job.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Supreme Court Rundown

Taken from the LA Times, here's what's going on with the Supremes.

They:
  • took the case which will determine whether the EPA can regulate carbon dioxide emissions as a pollutant to combat greenhouse gases.
    • If the court rules against the regulation, then states which are planning voluntary emissions controls might change their minds, so it's an important one.

  • ruled that Vermont's campaign contribution restrictions were too tight.

  • ruled constitutional Kansas' requirement for juries to impose the death penalty if aggravating factors equalled mitigating factors.
    • For the minority, "Justice David Souter wrote that 'in the face of evidence of the hazards of capital prosecution,' the Kansas law is 'obtuse by any moral or social measure.'"

      No kidding. Being black could be an aggravating factor. What the hell?

      Alito broke the tie. Of course he did.

  • refused to consider appeals from abortion rights groups to block the "Choose Life" license plates.
    • Whenever I see a "Choose Life" license plate or sticker, I always think, "I do choose life, which is why I choose choice." Those of us who choose choice choose the policies that decrease unwanted pregnancies and reduce the numbers of abortions, miscarriages, and infant death.


    Fluffernutter Sandwiches

    I've never had one.

    And if a Massachusetts state legislator has his way, I never will.

    Okay, that was a massive overstatement. And I see where Sen. Barrios is coming from. He's health conscious and his son's school serves Fluffernutter sandwiches at lunchtime. He would like to limit the amount the kids get.

    The owner of Fluff (which was created in Massachusetts, so it has more meaning there) says it's not as unhealthy a product as other foods since it has no fat or cholesterol, low sodium, and the same calories as jelly and jam.

    But it looks to me like this is an issue that could use some compromise. It probably shouldn't be on the menu every day, and there should be a copy of the menu sent home to parents so the more health-conscious ones can pack their kids a sack lunch on the days that it's served, if they want to be that strict.

    But a law?

    Defend Colorado Now Loses Appeal

    The court has upheld its decision to leave the DCN initiative off the ballot. They added that, not only does the initiative deal with more than one subject, but it is vague and confusing.

    Sunday, June 25, 2006

    Things Change

    I wrote a letter to the editor of our conservative paper in Florida a few years ago:
    In a Dec. 2 editorial, liberal federal judges were likened to al-Qaida "'sleepers,' waiting to spring into action when the right cause appears."

    The editorial otherwise logically and intelligently attempted to make a point, but stooped to a tactic that should not be fostered or remain unchallenged in any venue.

    It is called the fallacy of association, attempting to discredit the opponent by associating him with a generally hated group or concept. If comparing President Bush's motivations for war to Adolf Hitler's is repugnant, so should comparing liberal federal judges to al-Qaida operatives.

    Civil society relies on open debate and respect for dissenters. Marginalization and demonization of political opponents confounds the environment of civil discourse, inflames the emotions, diverts from logical argument, and frustrates efforts at effective and meaningful communication.

    And then I became a blogger.

    More Winter HQ Party Pics

    Free Food








    Kirby had a couple
    of things to say








    Youngest campaign
    worker. Evar.








    A collage








    Youngest campaign
    manager evar?

    Winter's HQ Party

    My older son didn't want to leave, he was having lots of fun playing games and winning prizes.

    What I enjoyed most, though, was watching Bill win over a constituent. While I was waiting to shake his hand, a lady challenged him on immigration, said that she was on Tancredo's side and asked Bill specifically what he would do.

    First he pointed out that we need to enforce the laws that are already on the books. And he made sure always to emphasize the differences between what Tancredo says and does and what he would do.

    Tancredo is all talk and actually votes against meaningful immigration reform, seeking only troops and a symbolic wall that even Tancredo admits won't stop illegal immigrants. He contrasted that with his own opinion that we should use more trained border guards, which Tancredo cut funding to, not the National Guard, and use of technology to monitor the border rather than a $9 billion symbol that won't even work.

    When she mentioned employers who hire illegal immigrants, he said that he's a lawyer and not even he understands all the intricacies of immigration law, and that we can't expect employers to know which documents are real. There needs to be funding and help in that department. The burden can't all be laid on employers.

    And I was going to ask him about the economic problems, but he was coming to that. He said that the Mexicans who are coming here are victims, too, good people just looking for better opportunities for themselves and their families. He blamed the people high in the governments of Mexico and the U.S., that they need to get together to fix the problem that drives poor people to risk their lives to cross the desert. He wants to work on NAFTA, CAFTA and Fair Trade.

    Candidates like Bill give me hope for the future.

    Pictures:







    With the dog tags








    Morgan Carroll

    Smoking Ban

    I'm conflicted about the smoking ban which goes into effect next Saturday.

    I agree with the need to protect the public from the unhealthy addictions of others, and I agree with the rights of people to engage in their own addictive and self-destructive behaviors. Insofar as restaurants and bars go, I think those businesses should be able to determine which clientele they wish to serve by either allowing or banning smoking. But that still creates a workplace hazard. Yep, conflicted.

    But I'm not conflicted about John Caldara as an opportunistic douche making the argument that, since he's a grownup now, he can do whatever he wants.
    Speaking on an overcast morning at the Kiowa Creek Sporting Club in Bennett, Caldara said the group's enjoyment of the "perks of adulthood" would be upsetting to "nannyists." The party - less a fundraiser than a marketing event for the institute - was a celebration of guns, booze and smokes. Party ers paid a $150 fee to participate in the event, which included 100 sporting clays, ammunition, lunch, libations and cigars.

    If only those finger-wagging "nannyists" with their bullshit rules would let the grownups play, Caldara and his friends could drive their duallies with their knees, a cold Bud in one hand a .45 in the other, shooting randomly out the window while blowing smoke into the face of the toddler standing on the dashboard.

    Coddling innocent bystanders with restrictions on potentially deadly behavior sucks.

    Update: I was in Florida when they passed the smoking ban there. I voted against it; I was a Libertarian at the time and I don't disagree that restaurants and bars should have smoking sections if they want them.

    But I recall the "Republicans" tried to blame the liberals for the ban. I wrote a letter to the editor which I don't think ever got published in which I pointed out that about 75% of the voters passed the ban. In a red state like Florida, that meant a heck of a lot of Repubs voted for it, as well. 'Cause a lot of people, regardless of political affiliation, like eating in smokeless restaurants.

    I wonder if Jon Caldara actually voted for the ban?

    Johne at SquareState pulled up some info on studies which show that smoking bans don't hurt businesses. I recall that businesses weren't hurt in Florida.

    Medicare Doughnut Hole

    Here's why we should have publicly funded elections:
    "From $2,250 to $5,100, the plan pays zero," said Mike Fierberg, a regional spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

    "The beneficiary pays 100 percent," Fierberg said. "That's what's called the doughnut hole."

    ...

    Congress intentionally created the coverage gap, said Vicki Gottlich, a senior policy attorney with the Center for Medicare Advocacy.

    "Congress wanted to fund catastrophic needs and make sure everybody got something," Gottlich said.

    "The only way they could do that for the amount of money they intended to allocate was to create the doughnut hole," she said.

    The rich people who run our government at the bidding of their corporate beneficiaries don't seem to understand that for most Americans, a $2,250 to $5,100 a year medical bill is a catastrophe.

    Saturday, June 24, 2006

    Finally a Winter Event I Can Attend

    Tomorrow afternoon is the opening of Bill Winter's HQ, from 1-3pm. Food, games and family fun at 2305 E. Arapahoe Rd Suite 130, on the northside of Southglenn at University.

    We'll all be there.

    Friday, June 23, 2006

    One Year Anniversary

    Have you ever wondered why I call this blog They Get Letters? Read my very first post from one year ago today to find out.

    Obviously this has become a run-of-the-mill blog, and not so correspondence-centered. But I'm still willing to publish submitted correspondence to help keep track of public officers' stances on issues and their responsiveness to their constituents.

    Thursday, June 22, 2006

    A Very Important List

    The best pizzas in the Denver area.

    I've had two of the pizzas on the list: Big Bill's NY Pizza, which is close to home; Anthony's Pizza & Pasta, which is right in front of the light-rail stop at 16th St. Mall and California. They're both NY style, which is my favorite.

    Another great one not on the list is Carpozi's, also on Holly just a couple of blocks from Big Bill's. It's actually a greek restaurant (that's good, too), but it's been closed recently due to a family emergency.

    My husband and I like to work toward goals. Trying each pizza on the list sounds like a good one.

    Find your best pizzas here.

    National Research Council: Earth is Running a Fever

    They've confirmed the controversial findings of the climate scientists who published the "hockey stick" graph which showed a large spike in global temperatures in the 20th century.
    Weighing in on the highest profile debate about global warming, the nation's premier science policy body on Thursday voiced a "high level of confidence" that Earth is the hottest it has been in at least 400 years, possibly even longer.

    ...

    The panel of top climate scientists told lawmakers that the Earth is running a fever and that “human activities are responsible for much of the recent warming.”

    ...

    “The numerous indications that recent warmth is unprecedented for at least the last 400 years and potentially the last several millennia, in combination with estimates of external climate forcing variations over the same period, supports the conclusion that human activities are responsible for much of the recent warming,” the panel wrote.

    Of course, even phrases like "high level of confidence" and "likely to be true" give some enough wiggle room to dispute scientific findings, though you can't get much more scientifically absolute than that.

    Besides, they'll say, how can the public have confidence in bearded earthtone-wearers? That destroys all credibility.

    Un-American Karzai Helps Terrorists

    Sounding like a Democrat, Afghan President Hamid Karzai says that, rather than just storming houses, shooting and blowing people up, a law enforcement and social approach to combating terrorism is needed to get back to the time when terrorism was just a nuisance.
    “I strongly believe ... that we must engage strategically in disarming terrorism by stopping their sources of supply of money, training, equipment and motivation,” Karzai said during a press conference.

    He either hates America (just like the Democrats he got this argument from) or he noticed that, since terrorism has ceased to be treated as a law enforcement problem and symptomatic of severe social and political inequality which can be undercut by giving powerless people ways of directing their own lives besides violence, there has been a marked increase in worldwide terrorist membership and attacks directly linked to the solely over-the-top military response of the United States.

    Tuesday, June 20, 2006

    As If Torturing Sane People Weren't Awful Enough

    It should be no surprise that false information is gotten from torture.

    But it should be even double not surprising when it's gotten from torturing a mentally ill person, as Bush did. (via Atrios)

    What the hell are we allowing in our name?

    One Down

    Safavian found guilty on four counts of obstruction and making false statements.

    Like Roger Ailes says, Bob Ney and Ralph Reed must be feeling a bit pallid this morning.

    Monday, June 19, 2006

    New Attitude About Coulter

    Watching her on the Leno show (I've been actively ignoring her for a couple of years) it became clear to me that the Left, for the most part and including myself, have been dealing with her in entirely the wrong way.

    A lot of what I read in opposition to her is a focus on and outrage at the outrageous things she says. Probably because those are the things which are most widely disseminated. There are good substantive arguments out there which counter her assertions, but those get lost in "the show."

    But she admitted on Leno that she wears the Left's contempt like a badge of honor, and her followers approved heartily. She even somewhat obtusely admitted to doing things just for attention, like wearing skimpy mini-skirts.

    And her book is number one on the NY Times Best-seller list.

    So the controversy is garnering much attention, and her badly sourced book with its false assertions is being widely read. And, surprise surprise, a whole lot of people will take what they read as the truth because they don't know about her techniques, they're pre-disposed to agree anyway, and/or they never purposely look for counter-arguments.

    Contrary to what many think of her, I don't think she is crazy. She is calculated. She is definitely other things as well, but I don't want to get into the personal, and that's because I don't want to play into her game.

    I think she sees herself as a political, female Andy Kaufman. Always "on," always provocative, and therefore, at least by the masses who don't really "get it," always to be taken seriously. People were really up in arms about Kaufman wrestling women. And remember how obnoxious he was singing "100 Bottles of Beer," how much the audience would hate him, but, toward the end, how much they would cheer him on? As he said, "Once they're hooked, they won't let you stop."

    People take Coulter seriously because she takes herself seriously.

    Which is why we should take her seriously, too.

    But not by raging against her controversial "character," because her tenacity and constancy get her points, fans, attention and credibility. As much as we - like Peter Daou who makes an excellent criticism of the SCLM and the dumbing down of the national discourse - may deride the media for giving her a platform and feeding her attention and "character," THAT'S WHAT THE MEDIA DOES. It's who they are, how they operate. She uses that fact. When we react to her "character" we increase the controversies she stirs while further, as strange as it may seem, giving her credibility.

    As much as we need to work on forcing the media to reform and become more responsible and diligent, we also need a more immediate tactic for dealing with people like Coulter.

    Whenever personal attacks are focused on, she wins, because the substantive arguments are lost. But if her outrageous comments are overlooked, if her opponent, in whatever forum, goes straight past the personal, outrageous remarks to the substance of the argument, she loses because she is lying and she is wrong.

    Further, she knows she's lying and is wrong. Thence the "character" and distractions. Stop falling for it.

    And that goes for the Hannitys, the O'Reillys, the Limbaughs and whatever other provocateurs and agit prop artists there are.

    As I started to say a few paragraphs ago, we need to counter Coulter, not by raging against her controversial "character," but by playing with her controversial "character."

    Like Stephen Colbert told the students at Knox College, say "yes-and." Take what she says at face value, accept that she believes what she says regardless of how ridiculous, and speak to it. The difference is, we won't be trying to top her outrageousness and lies with more outrageousness and lies, we'll be answering back with facts.

    Another Argument for Birthright Citizenship

    Maha writes the kinds of essays I wish I could write if I didn't have kids interrupting me every few minutes (for instance, did you know that sometimes a and o have the same sound, like in barn and loss? My son just interrupted to tell me that.)

    In GOP: The Cheap Labor Party she explains excellently the stance nearly all the Dems and liberals I know about have regarding immigration. In fact, I expressed pretty much that same sentiment to my husband in the car the other day. Almost no one is pro-illegal immigration; we disagree on how to stop it. Republicans favor a band-aid which won't help the problem, but which will make businesses more short-term money. Democrats want to treat the illness rather than just the symptom.

    But in making the argument about why a "guest worker" program won't work I found a good example of why people born in the United States, regardless of the nationality of their parents, should have birthright citizenship (link goes to essay wherein I make the argument in favor of it) if they wish to claim it.
    From an editorial in The New Republic, April 17 issue:
    … the workers, while remaining in those European countries, never became of them. Consider Germany, for instance, where more than two million Muslims of Turkish origin–whose families came as guest workers four decades ago–live today. They live in Germany not as Germans, but in a strange sort of nationless limbo–afforded certain benefits of citizenship (such as health care) but denied the privilege of actually being citizens. Which, of course, denies them any incentive to assimilate to their new country. The prospect of such a thing happening in the United States with Mexican guest workers is only too real.

    Colin Nickerson wrote for the Boston Globe (April 19),

    For decades, there were no efforts to integrate the newcomers. They were entitled to social benefits, but not citizenship. Their children could attend schools, but little effort was made to give them language skills. Far from a melting pot, Europe in the post-World War II era became the realm of ‘’parallel societies,” in which native and immigrant populations occupied the same countries but shared little common ground.


    Now, the presence of millions of largely unassimilated newcomers, coupled with terrorist attacks in London and Madrid, has triggered furious debates in Europe over national identity and the future of immigration.


    Europeans thought the guest worker programs would provide needed labor without having to assimilate non-European workers. It didn’t work that way, and the non-assimilated ethnic minorities are creating huge social problems — the same kind of problems that righties fear from illegal immigrants.

    In the United States, which has birthright citizenship, the third generation of immigrants are generally well-assimilated because they have status, opportunity to participate, and a stake in the government.

    A comedian on Last Comic Standing made a joke about why there hasn't been another terrorist attack. The terrorists have been hiding in America so long they've become lazy like us: "Ahmad, you were supposed to be at the bombing at 9:30, what happened?" "Dude, can I call you back? I'm watching the Tivo of Entourage." Sadly, there may actually be some truth to that.

    The 314-page report, 'From Generation to Generation,' found that, despite their higher rates of poverty, ''children in immigrant families appear to experience better health and adjustment than do children in US-born families.''

    The authors of the report - which was based on a panel review of dozens of studies between 1900 and 1990 - discovered that as second and third-generation immigrants assimilate into U.S. society, their health, actually declines.

    ...

    And adolescents in immigrant families reported fewer neurological problems, obesity, asthma, early sexual activity, smoking, alcohol-consumption, drug use, delinquency and the use of violence compared with their counterparts among US-born parents, according to the report.


    They assimilate if they're allowed to.

    Sunday, June 18, 2006

    Housing Market

    I had read a couple of months ago that the housing market in the Denver area was going to top off and remain steady for the foreseeable future, but it looks, at least in my area, as if prices are actually dropping.

    We started tentatively looking in January, and I was a little dismayed at the choices in our price range. Some of those houses are still for sale, so I checked again, and the prices have dropped significantly. There are now many in our price range.

    In two months we start looking for a house in earnest, and we're going to include foreclosures in our search. This heartbreaking story in the Denver Post makes me especially eager to find a house in pre-foreclosure. Not only so that we can get a better deal on a property, but to help someone out of a bad financial situation.

    I sometimes listen to the Mortgage Insider Saturday mornings on 760AM, and they have a lot of contempt for mortgage brokers, a lot of whom are outright criminals since there hasn't been a lot of oversight of the industry.

    They mentioned that Gov. Owens signed a bill that requires mortgage brokers to have background checks and register with the state, but were less than enthusiastic about the effects of the requirement. Violation would be a misdemeanor and the loss of a $25,000 surety bond. But as the mortgage insiders said, people who are willing to commit fraud probably won't balk at a misdemeanor. The Colorado Association of Mortgage Lenders agrees:
    "Since no state can regulate all loan originators, the only way to effectively attack mortgage fraud is through enforcement," said Chris Holbert, president of the mortgage lenders group. "Until we treat criminals as criminals, regulating some of the good guys isn't going to help. Enforcement is the key."

    Friday, June 16, 2006

    One Good Thing About the Right Wing Echo Chamber

    It makes them tell the truth.

    Not about external facts, like no WMDs, economic realities, or about Democrats. The echo chamber is meant for creating unified arguments in support of policies and ideologies, and in the case of the Repug echo chamber, lies are not only welcome but necessary, since external facts contradict much of their ideology. Weak pseudo liberals don't make good arguments against the strong Reps there, and talking points get refined amidst much head patting and large salaries, like on Fox News.

    But because external reality doesn't often intrude, the repeated echo makes them deaf to the sound of their own bullshit. It makes them insensitive to others.

    It makes them tell the truth about themselves.


    Q Tony, American deaths in Iraq have reached 2,500. Is there any response or reaction from the President on that?

    MR. SNOW: It's a number, and every time there's one of these 500 benchmarks people want something. ...

    The other people in his echo chamber know exactly what he's talking about. No individual is as important as the whole, and what we're fighting for in Iraq is that important. There is an argument to be made for that, if the cause is worth fighting for. WWII is constantly trotted out for comparison, and not many would argue that 1) WWII had way more casualties and 2) WWII was a just and necessary war.

    But when you really believe that a cause is just, there is no need to emotionally distance yourself from the deaths of other human beings. There is no need to hide from the human toll your policies and actions cause. If the cause is just and necessary there's no need to hide the consequences.

    We all know that sacrifice is required to accomplish difficult but necessary tasks. We long to be asked to sacrifice in other ways, as well. But we're asked to ignore the war's harsh realities, go shopping, don't look at what is happening. They want us to view the war as something far away that isn't really affecting our daily lives, that's happening to faceless entities who we don't have to be concerned about except in the most casual, detached way.

    Creating this emotional and physical distance by calling the troops mere numbers indicates a sense of shame and guilt.

    Here's how Tony describes the President's human connection with his troops:

    Any President who goes through a time of war feels very deeply the responsibility for sending men and women into harm's way, and feels very deeply the pain that the families feel. And this President is no different. You've seen it many times. You saw it, you saw it when he was in that ballroom, Terry, and you had this crowd of servicemen and women who were cheering loudly for the President, and he got choked up.

    He sees the ones who cheer for him in ballrooms. They're alive. They like him. They've been ordered to cheer. That's what chokes him up.

    And there's even more cheering, happy troops in the relative safety of Baghdad's Green Zone to cheer Bush up and give him those human connections with the troops.

    Here's how you really show concern for the well-being of our armed services:
    • She spends several days a week at the hospital, often bringing pizzas or DVDs. When the Marines have no family, Beverly spends hours in their rooms like a surrogate mother. One Marine says that when he was overmedicated with painkillers, she saved his life by cursing in his ear like a drill instructor.
    • Operation Helmet is a nonpartisan, charitable grassroots effort that provides helmet upgrade kits free of charge to U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. These helmet upgrade kits consist of shock-absorbing pads and a new strap system.
    • Ten prominent Americans, including former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, are forming a bipartisan group to assess the Bush administration's policies in Iraq and political and economic developments in the troubled country.
    Listen to complaints, seek out problems, try to find solutions, and then actually do something about it. Punishing those who have screwed the entire enterprise from the beginning would help, too.

    Congressional Pay Raise

    Why Western Dems are superior: Integrity.

    SoapBlox Colorado's New Name

    I guess they needed one. Apparently SoapBlox is the name of software, so it was like calling it WordPerfect Colorado.

    They went with SquareState.net, and I refuse to criticize.

    Thursday, June 15, 2006

    Microsoft Must be in Mourning

    Bill Gates retires from day to day business (like he did much) and this piece of crap isn't working today.

    More On Coulter

    Yes, the title was deliberate.

    PZ Myers was sent the sections of her book that deal with science and of course finds it full of lies. He corrects just a few examples.

    But he also links to sources which have been tracking her liberal use of plagiarism to write the book.

    Hmm, I wonder how many commandments the God-fearing Coulter has violated? I bet she hasn't murdered anyone. And she's never been married, so adultery is out.

    Wednesday, June 14, 2006

    Coulter on Leno

    Either Leno's normal audience is very conservative or, knowing Coulter would be on, it was unusually stacked with con whackjobs who hooted enthusiastically for her.

    She's claiming her book is number one in the country. On what list, I'm not sure. Oh, it's on Amazon, although currently it's number 2. And I see at humaneventsonline that you can get a free copy of the book for subscribing. Did they buy bulk? It's not in the top 35 of the New York Times Best-seller list though (oddly dated June 18, though today is June 15). Anderson Cooper's Dispatches From the Edge is number one in the country. [ed: update - Godless is #1 on the NY Times Best-seller list as of June 25, which is still 6 days into the future. I don't get the dating system on that.]

    She's amazed that no liberals have complained about being called godless, as she'd take notice if someone called her godless. (The Gospel According to Coulter, collected from sources other than Godless, since she doesn't share these deeply-felt religious convictions in her new book: "God gave us the earth. We have dominion over the plants, the animals, the trees. God said, 'Earth is yours. Take it. Rape it! It's yours;'" "Let's say I go out every night, I meet a guy and have sex with him. Good for me. I'm not married;" "Don't pray. Learn to use guns.")

    She had her book vetted thoroughly by her one liberal friend who never mentioned the "9/11 harpies" as controversial, so she's taken aback.

    Explaining her message to liberals: [paraphrasing] "Don't send out victims to argue a point so that I can't attack them. Don't send out people like Max Cleland." Who's sending victims out? Is there evidence of a committee made up of liberals and Democrats which makes lists of victims, contacts them and sends them on missions to speak publicly about issues which just happen to concern them? Some of the 9/11 widows are Republican. Do they subscribe to the liberal doctrine of infallibility? And there's the Republican mantra: "9/11 changed everything." That's also a doctrine of infallibility that hindered many people from closely examining the case for war in Iraq. IOKIYR. And I'd say it's far more likely that there was a concerted, conscious effort to use the "9/11 changed everything" mantra than that there's a committee to recruit victims for liberal causes.

    After wimpily addressing the attack on 9/11 widows, Leno asked her if she's ever had sex with a liberal. Gack. The real question is, would a liberal ever have sex with Ann Coulter? The religious good girl who is not in any way godless has had plenty of pre-marital sex, but only with conservatives, all of whom could kick any liberal's ass, according to her.

    I can't remember any other nonsense she spouted, as I had to remain somewhat detached to even be able to watch.

    However, George Carlin is a very polite person. He was sitting next to her, having been the previous guest (he made a funny quip when she came out [paraphrase]: "I never thought that I would have to move to the right of Ann Coulter"). He never said a word during her interview.

    While I'm on the topic of mAnn, BradBlog has documented her "digging her own grave" regarding her voter registration fraud. The more she talks ...

    See also:
    Shorter Ann Coulter
    More On Coulter
    New Attitude About Coulter

    Hot Air Lies About Dems

    Maha exposes the insidious lie spread by righties that Democrats booed Hillary Clinton's exhortation to support the troops.

    Bryan at Hot Air says
    First, Hillary! says we should support our troops…and the leftwingers in the audience boo her.

    It's clear that Bryan is claiming that the audience booed when asked to support the troops, thus booing the troops.

    However, it wasn't after Hillary called on Dems to support the troops, as Bryan claims, but after she said that the troops are "among the very best we have to offer" (so the lefties support the troops, but don't think they're the very best we have to offer?) Maha has a link to the entire video via C&L, as well.

    After Hillary said that our troops are "among the very best we have to offer" I heard a woman shout something. The cadence was wrong for a series of boos, unless she said "boo boo BOO." So I blasted it, and it sounded like what maha described, "bring them home." The single woman who shouted "bring them home" was joined by a few others who also shouted "bring them home," who were further supported by some others clapping for the troops to be brought home.

    Bryan claims he heard boos. I didn't. Maybe I have better speakers. Maybe I have better hearing (I can hear the Mosquito). Maybe I'm more honest.

    Later, Hillary does get a brief smattering of boos (interspersed with applause) when she didn't support a definite date to bring the troops home. It seems clear to me that they were booing Hillary because they disagreed strongly with her statement that the troops should be kept in Iraq for an indeterminate amount of time, not because they don't support the troops.

    But in order to perpetuate the dishonest portrait of the left as anti-military (or, more generously, because he believes the dishonest portrait of the left as anti-military), Bryan conflates these two separate events, claiming that Time Magazine supports his contention that Hillary was booed for asking the audience to support the troops.
    “I do not think it is a smart strategy,” she said, “either for the President to continue with his open-ended commitment, which I think does not put enough pressure on the new Iraqi government, nor do I think it is smart strategy to set a date certain.” Members of the crowd yelled, “Why not?” There was loud booing. It was almost impossible to hear Clinton as she spoke over the crowd to declare, “I do not agree that that is in the best interest of our troops or our country.” After her speech, as Clinton was walking along the stage and shaking hands with attendees who had rushed to meet her, more than a dozen members of the crowd stood and started chanting “Bring the troops home! Bring the troops home!” [ed: emphasis added by Hot Air]

    Bryan highlights the portion that says she was booed, but not the portion about where in her speech she was booed. Hillary was booed when she said it's best to keep the troops in Iraq. The fact that some in the audience believe it is in the best interests of - and therefore supportive of - the troops to "bring them home" is further bolstered by the end of the excerpt:
    After her speech ... more than a dozen members of the crowd stood and started chanting “Bring the troops home! Bring the troops home!”

    What, they want the troops to come home because they don't support the troops?

    Of course arguments exist that bringing the troops home will undermine the democratization and stabilization of the Middle East, leading to the future harm of the troops and the United States. That's what Hillary argues. Others argue that continuing the occupation is hindering the efforts of Iraqis to get on with the business of forming their own country and adversely affecting recruitment and the reputation of the U.S. in the world. The effects of one or the other may in fact cause harm to the troops.

    But effect isn't what Bryan is talking about. He's ascribing motive, and that motive is, "the left hates the military and wants the U.S. to fail, so they boo when asked for support." I think the evidence shows that it is righties who support the policies and actions which hurt the troops both in the long- and short-term, but I don't think they hate the military. They're just wrong. And they hate the Left.

    I'll even be much more generous to Bryan and Malkin, who spread the lie to her larger audience. Maybe their hatred of the left causes the blood to pump so hard they hear what their preconceptions make them expect to hear.

    No Rove Indictment?

    I helped spread the rumors on the internets that truthout.org was spreading about an impending Rove indictment. No indictment came down in the stated timeframe, and now Rove's lawyer is saying there will be no indictment at all.

    Truthout.org is standing by its reporting however, and I take with a grain of salt anything a Rove operative has to say. Since Fitzgerald's office is not commenting, there is still the possibility that the information was correct when it was leaked.

    Letter to Xcel RE: Windsource Premium

    I read with some confusion the comments of spokeswoman Ethnie Groves in the Denver Post today. She said that Windsource was never meant to be competitive with traditional generation.

    I thought that the whole point of coming up with renewable energy sources is that someday they would replace limited, polluting sources of energy. The best way of helping that happen is to create renewable energy sources which are abundant and which people with average incomes can afford - that is, making them competitive. But your spokeswoman has stated that it is not the goal of Xcel Energy. What, then, is the point of having Windsource at all?

    Ms. Groves also stated that Windsource is a premium service. Premium suggests that the consumers who use the product receive a superior service or product. What is it about the quality of energy that Windsource generates that makes it superior to oil, coal or gas?

    Thank you for your time,
    Julie O.

    Xcel Windsource a Premium?

    After reading of Xcel's position on wind power
    "This is a premium price program, and customers that elect to join the Windsource program have decided to pay more to build up wind power in the state," Xcel spokeswoman Ethnie Groves said. "This was never designed to be competitive with traditional generation."

    I wonder why they bother having it at all.

    I thought the whole point of coming up with renewable energy sources was to save the environment and be more economical for the country; in less pollution, reduced extraction of limited resources and in not having to rely on foreign entities - therefore avoiding more energy wars. The way to get people to use renewable energy sources is to eventually make it competitive with traditional generation.

    What is it about Windsource that makes it a premium service? That, since it will be so exclusive and expensive, that only rich people will get to be responsible consumers, allay their consciences and never have to suffer a rolling blackout? Is the quality of power somehow superior? Does the scent of roses emanate from wall sockets?

    Monday, June 12, 2006

    Haditha Marines Defense: Lucky Shots

    The Marines accused of murdering innocent civilians in Haditha have offered up their defense: they were just following procedure.
    But the attorneys, speaking this weekend to several news outlets, said the Marines were following established rules of engagement by tossing fragmentation grenades into homes where insurgents were suspected of hiding, and then following up with blasts of M-16 fire.

    Insofar as such a defense will force the examination of a potentially faulty procedure that is more likely to lead to the deaths of civilians, that is a good thing.

    But the defense really boils down to an incredible claim: lucky shots. No one was killed by explosives and the victims - cowering, stunned, and obscured by the smoke of grenades - were shot in the head and chest nearly every time.

    And so far, another explanation is lacking. Why did they think insurgents were in those houses?

    Also when weighing whether or not to believe this defense, it's worth taking into consideration that the Marines failed to "follow procedure" immediately after the incident. A faulty report on the killings of the Iraqis was filed (claiming they had been killed by bomb rather than gunshot), and the Marine Corps failed to do an investigation into the killings, a routine procedure, especially when there is a high death count. Particularly when taken together it looks like consciousness of guilt by hiding after the fact.

    To be fair, the Marines claim they didn't file the false report, and it is their superiors who failed to investigate. But the evidence suggests these two occurrences happened because there was something unusual about the killings of these particular civilians. The Marines' "lucky shots" defense confirms that.

    And lest I be accused of being a civilian with no battle experience passing judgment on something I know nothing about, this is not civilian vs. the military, this is military vs. military. Civilians get killed all the time in war, a regrettable fact (which is why war should be a last resort and not desired). But this time a false report was filed, no routine investigation was performed, several commanders have been relieved of duty, and the Marines have offered a questionable defense. Those are very strong indications that procedure was not being followed, from beginning to end.

    Sunday, June 11, 2006

    Shorter Ann Coulter

    "It's no fair when sympathetic people make political arguments, because then I have to debate the subject matter instead of distracting from the subject matter by making personal attacks which question their character and motives -- oh wait, I have no decency, I can still personally attack widows."

    Ann opposed the 9/11 Commission because she already had it all figured out; it was Bill Clinton's fault. Which is why the 9/11 Commission's recommendation for preventing another terrorist attack was to not let Bill Clinton ever be President again.

    Problem solved!

    Update: Media Matters has a list of people defending Coulter. They're pretty much the usual suspects.

    Denver Post Profile of Beauprez

    It's very revealing. As my husband just said, "And I thought Holtzman was a dickhead."

    The very first sentence sounds somewhat contemptuous.

    Bob Beauprez is crying, again.

    Not because showing tender emotions is a wimpy liberal stereotype that has been overplayed by them manly Repugs for years now. After all, Beauprez is a Repug, therefore any tears he may have are, by definition, manly, and shed for conservative reasons.

    The Denver Post's tone seems more, "there goes that phony again."
    His is a story of an earnest country boy who married his high school sweetheart, followed his dad's example of self-reliance and discipline, made good on the family dairy farm and dedicated himself to political life.

    At times, it is retold through tears.

    Still, so carefully crafted is his folksy image that, in a recent portrait of the candidate photographed in a barn, his campaign digitally erased the emblem of his company, Heritage Bank, from his denim work shirt.

    A close look at Beauprez's record reveals aspects that aren't as easily glossed over.

    It goes on to show him for a bovine-racialist, draft-dodging, two-faced rat covered in DeLay stink with Russian mob ties. "But I love my daddy," says Beauprez, crying.

    He seems, at least, to be basically honest.
    During testimony in a redistricting case Beauprez brought on behalf of the party, an attorney for the Democrats asked him: "Over and above what's in the best interest of the state, you're more interested in getting Republicans elected, correct?"

    "Yes," he replied.

    Which is why you'd better believe him when he says this:

    But ask what Beauprez plans to do as governor, and his answer is less than specific.

    "I don't blame people for being cynical about what this (governorship) will look like," he says. "I guess people won't know ... [suddenly illuminated by uplights] until after the fact. [mwaha. mwahaha. mwahahahaha.]"

    Dun Dun Dun.

    Yep, It's a Marriage Between Gov't and Corporations

    Sen. Specter is threatening to subpoena phone company executives about the eavesdropping they're doing for the President.

    But the phone companies are telling the Senate that they don't have to testify. Phone companies. A non-governmental entity telling the co-equal branch of government that it doesn't get classified government information so it can do its constitutionally mandated job of oversight. As if the phone companies are co-equal branches of government.

    Actually, I think this is a better analogy: The Legislature and the Executive are married, co-equal partners in government. But the Executive is having a fling with corporations. The Legislature is telling the corporate whore to get out of the marital bed, and the corporations are telling the Legislature to "get lost, bitch. It's not my fault you can't please your man. Anyway, you weren't so uptight when I was goin' down on you."

    Hey, Senate. Time to grow some claws and pull some hair. Kick that bitch to the curb.

    X-Men: The Last Stand Review

    Meh.


    The boys are at the grandparents' this weekend, so we've been having a crappy summer movie marathon (including rentals). The Sentinel was the best.

    Saturday, June 10, 2006

    Suicide an "Act of Warfare Waged Against Us"

    Taking a clue from his fucked up administration superiors who have no respect or understanding for reality or logic, this is actually what Rear Adm. Harry Harris, commander of the Joint Task Force Guantanamo, said about the three Gitmo detainees who hanged themselves separately in their cells, doing harm to no one else.
    They are smart. They are creative, they are committed. They have no regard for life, either ours or their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of ...warfare waged against us.
    If I didn't think this was just so egregiously stupid and awful, I might make some joke about the Judean People's Front; Suicide Squad or that damn militant self-immolated Buddhist monk in 1963.

    Simple suicide (as opposed to suicide-murder) may be an act of revenge or a even a political statement, but an act of warfare? Makes me wonder if he thought Gandhi and MLK, Jr. were aggressive militants.

    Dumbass.

    Update: the word left out in the ellipses is "asymmetrical."
    " ... an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us."

    Not that it changes anything. In fact, I think it makes it worse. Suicide bombing is an act of asymmetrical warfare. It is a terrorist tactic, and it should be treated as such. But it is downplayed as just a crime committed by cowards and is dealt with inappropriately, with invasion and war, further fostering more acts of asymmetrical warfare.

    Simple suicide, in this case, may have been a protest. But it's elevated to an act of asymmetrical warfare, as a terrorist tactic. And I'm sure it will still be dealt with inappropriately. For a long time officials at Gitmo have been downplaying the self-destructive behaviors of the increasingly restive prison population. Former suicide attempts and hunger strikes have been called simply attempts to manipulate, so of course actual suicides are also nothing more than attempts to manipulate.

    Jesus' General Writes to Musgrave

    He advises her to seek vengeance.
    You have the backing of one of the Heartland's greatest heritage appreciation societies, the sheet-clad Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. As a Klan-endorsed candidate, you are entitled to all the benefits the Klan has to offer. That includes a cross burning at a residence of your choice.

    Holtzman's on Primary Ballot

    Though a judge ordered that Holtzman be put on the primary ballot, it doesn't mean he's a valid candidate. It just gives him more time to make his case before another judge.

    From WashParkProphet (via SoapBlox Colorado).

    The House Passed Non-Net Neutrality Bill

    ColoradoLib says at least Diana DeGette voted against it.
    ... the House decided to turn control of the Net over to companies like AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner. These companies intend to create "pay lanes" on the information superhighway. These lanes will give communications companies the ability to give some data packets preferential treatment. So big business gets one Internet while the rest of us have to use a different, slower one. And communications companies can make some websites work better than others, for a price.
    Personally, I think there are never enough analogies. The anti-net neutrality crowd like to say it's like charging large trucks more money to use a toll road because the trucks wear down the road more. Which sounds perfectly fair until you realize that they also intend to create a special truck lane with a 75mph speed limit while cars have to stay in the 20mph lane.

    Friday, June 09, 2006

    Centennial Fire Ban

    Especially important considering the lack of fire helicopters.

    Does this mean we can't use our propane grill on our back porch?
    Indoor stoves, fireplaces and small grills that don't produce flame are allowed.

    My husband is saying, "screw that." Does anyone have a clarification about that?

    Thursday, June 08, 2006

    Local Blog Roundup

    SoapBlox has the poop on the woman who smeared the Musgrave campaign. Dirty, dirty business, which I condemn wholeheartedly. A commenter makes a good point to keep things in perspective:
    So when someone displays a sign supporting Paccione, they're obviously affiliated with her campaign. But when the fucking KKK writes about how wonderful Musgrave is, they're crazy backwoods psycho hillbillies who obviously have no connection to her campaign. Interesting.
    But then Marilyn pulls the same old shit.
    Just two days ago (coincidently enough, on 6/6/06) Congresswoman Musgrave introduced H.J.RES.88, which would attempt to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

    This comes after she vowed to stay away from the issue last August, saying that she wanted to see how it worked out on the local level first.

    ColoradoLib is moving to Mark Udall's district. Udall is backing a resolution for agri-energy. Good for farmers, good for everyone.

    Western Democrat has a couple of related posts about the New New Democrats who are emerging from the western states, specifically Jon Tester, the candidate for U.S. Senate in Montana and Gov. Brian Schweitzer, (D-MT).

    WashParkProphet says electing judges is a bad idea. I agree, though it really was Judge Dzintra Janavs' fault for having a name which makes people think an immigrant is taking away a job from a real American.

    DemNotes has the details on President Clinton's Democratic fundraising visit. I wish I could go. $100/plate is the minimum.

    Oh, NOW Blogger Works: A Roundup

    There were quite a few things I wanted to post on this morning, but blogger was out all day.

    First there was the fact that Al-Zarqawi was killed. And I wanted to say "Four Years Too Late." But now that's old news. (via Atrios)

    Also, that Coca-Cola stocks are ready to start rising. I have a couple of shares with re-investing dividends, and occasionally invest $10. The management of Coke is apparently reinvigorated, and the stocks could rise to $54. I believe I bought mine for about that in the mid-90s, and they went up to over $90 a share before they dropped hard again, so I'm not all that impressed with $54. They say to buy below $47.

    There were a couple of other things I wanted to blog on, but now can't remember.

    Thanks, Blogger.

    Wednesday, June 07, 2006

    No Gay Marriage Amendment This Year

    The Senate didn't even come close to the 60 votes needed, though proponents are heartened by the increase in numbers who voted yes.
    “The Republican leadership is asking us to spend time writing bigotry into the Constitution,” said Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, whose state legalized gay marriage in 2003. “A vote for it is a vote against civil unions, against domestic partnership, against all other efforts for states to treat gays and lesbians fairly under the law.”

    Hatch responded: “Does he really want to suggest that over half of the United States Senate is a crew of bigots?”
    Suggest nothing, I will say straight out: anyone who opposes same sex marriage does so solely, utterly, for no other reason than bigotry.

    There are many reasons for opposing same sex marriage, and they are all BS covers for bigotry.

    Threat to marriage - BS argument. Further, I would say that everyone who spouts this garbage knows it's a BS argument, or haven't thought about it at all and are just spouting mindless drivel that they cling to as cover for their blatant unreasoned bigotry. Divorce is the greatest threat to marriage. Hell, not stoning disobedient wives to death is more of a threat, since it's obviously those damn feminists who destroy marriages.

    Threat to "traditional" marriage - a slightly better argument since homosexual marriages aren't traditional, but still BS, because no one has explained why "traditional" marriage is 1)more desireable or necessary to a stable society, 2)not more threatened by divorce. And, hey, how about interracial marriages? Or marriages where the husband stays home and takes care of the kids while the woman works? Or open marriages? Those aren't traditional, either.

    A sin - so is wearing wool and cotton together. And? Not all sins are equal, and no act is legislated against simply because a religion considers it a sin. It is not our government's business to force people to follow any religion's precepts, especially when those precepts defy science and reason. Of course some sins are threats to society. But it's the threat to society that is legislated against, not the sin.

    Increasingly, homosexuals are earning equal rights because they have no negative impact on society as a whole except for causing the "cringe" factor of people uncomfortable with who they are, which is no reason to deny what should be a civil right.

    Further, there is nothing preventing religions from marrying gay people, which some religions do. But those aren't civilly recognized marriages with the rights and benefits that come from the state. The state certainly has no business denying people civil rights simply because some religions think it's a sin.

    Homosexual relationships don't propagate society, so there is no compelling reason for the state to sanction them - neither do marriages of the elderly or those who are incapable of or choose having no children, and yet society can find room for them. If it's not universally applied to all who cannot propagate society, then it is applied with discrimination, and our society has an even greater interest in not propagating discrimination, inequality and bigotry.

    If we allow homosexual marriage, then we'll have to allow people to marry horses and dogs (and box turtles) - the biggest BS, not to mention stupid and insulting, argument of all. But this argument exists (actually coming out of the mouths of elected officials), so I actually have to answer it. Animals cannot, under law anywhere, give their informed consent. That hinges on the fact that they do not have human brains. Humans without brains can't give their consent, either, so also can't get married. But a human can choose to dress like a horse or a dog during their wedding ceremony.

    This argument comes from people who apparently view homosexuals as subhuman.

    But what about the children? - What about them? They can't get married, either, unless they're of a certain age in certain states and are given parental consent. Oh, you mean what about children being raised by homosexuals? Children do better in homes with happy, stable, healthy parents. Period. Gay or straight. If marriage helps to create happy, stable, healthy parents, then it will work equally for gay and straight parents. And there's that word again. Equally.

    And that's what this is all about, equality under the law.

    But I do think there's truth to the argument that a ban on same sex marriage would protect "traditional" marriage of a man and a woman. It's true to the people who make it, because if gay marriage were legal, then the men who oppose it wouldn't have an excuse to give to their gay lovers. "I'd divorce my wife and marry you in a second. But it's just not legal."

    Tuesday, June 06, 2006

    Secret Code in Da Vinci Code?

    Mu husband noticed an error on page 217 of the first edition paperback of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. The title at the top of the page reads, "The De Ysosy Code."

    Seems a lot of people are much more observant than I. A Google of "ysosy" yields 1240 hits. Apparently, the error is part of an online quest (via Urban Scrawl) that I intend to try, until I get bored or it gets too hard, or I have to get off the computer chair to figure any of it out.

    Urban Scrawl has answers to the original quest, so don't scroll down if you prefer to do your own challenges. There's also a link to a new quest.

    Update: I got stuck at the auction site. Not knowing what to do, I tried to cheat by looking at Urban Scrawl's site, but I think the game's page must have been altered, because I can't do what I need to to move on. So I'm trying the second quest now.

    Update 2: I can't do the second quest, since I apparently need the hardcover. Maybe I'll check it out of the library. Sucks!

    Today is D-Day, Not End Day

    All the hoopla about 6/6/06 and I forgot today was D-Day.

    How could a day commemorating the event that turned the tide in Europe away from a crappy world run by Nazis be evil?

    Cohen May Have Been Right About Dr. Colbert

    Big Ink links to the transcript of Stephen Colbert's commencement speech at Knox College, Illinois. And I think Richard Cohen had him pegged. He is not at all funny.

    First, I'd just like to say that, when I was a six-month-old baby, I nearly died in a car accident because my mom was holding me on her lap. (The fireman at the scene said I wasn't breathing, and I developed a huge lump on top of my head for a while. I have a theory about why I didn't die: the head trauma caused brain edema, which, if severe enough can push the brain down through the foramen magnum - the hole at the base where the stem meets the spine - paralyzing or killing a person. Because of my age, my fontanelle gave the swelling someplace to go until it subsided).

    So I don't find his remarks about coddling children with car seats the least bit funny.

    Second, his remarks - "They said that I had an overdue library fine and they wouldn't give [my diploma] to me again" - reminded me of another story:

    When I was in college, just a few weeks before graduation, I got a message on my answering machine from the school library telling me that I had some overdue books and fines which needed to be paid, or I might not receive my diploma. My courses weren't book-intensive, and I generally only went to the library to sit amongst the stacks and peruse books for leisure-time, not checking anything out, so I was furiously racking my brain about it. Did I lose my card, is it a mistake, did I check out a book two years previously?

    So I rushed to the library in great agitation to ask about it, and was told that they knew nothing about it, which was a relief, though perplexing.

    Later that week, I was telling a couple of friends about it, and one started laughing. She had cranked me, and was amazed at how thoroughly successful it had been.

    Again, that part of the speech ... not funny at all.

    Third, he ends on a positive note. Quite literally. And I don't know how responsible it was to tell young people to "Just Say Yes" when we all know we're supposed to "Just Say No." He's just going to undo twenty years of a successful anti-drug campaign slogan.

    Really, not funny.

    [update: my husband, who knows me pretty well, didn't quite know how to take this post. To clarify, when I say that Colbert's speech is not funny, I mean that it's funny.]

    Looking for Pony Blow

    I've been getting quite a few hits from people doing this search:

    666

    There was a time that this number scared me, having been raised in a religious household which believed in demons and the end of the world. People really shouldn't teach their children that crap. I haven't been afraid of the devil for years.

    But I don't know now. I found a site that makes a case that the Popes are the Antichrist, if another definition of anti is used. Apparently, anti means replacement or substitute, such as in "anti-pope," those popes who tried to substitute their authority for the real pope. So the Antichrist is not the opposite of Christ, he is one who substitutes himself for Christ.

    The Catholic church has long referred to the Popes as Vicarius Filii Dei, or Vicar of the Son of God, and claim the authority of Christ. And, interestingly, in Latin, the numerical values of those words equal 666. The site goes further to explain how the church is the Whore of Babylon.

    But a Catholic apologist rebuts these assertions, starting off with these arguments:
    • SD Adventism was founded by William Miller (1781-1849), who predicted the world to end by October 22, 1844
    • Ellen Gould White (author of The Great Controversy) was a false prophetess
    • Ellen G. White's own name adds up to 666 according to a certain mathematical technique.

    (The author of the 666 site is a Seventh Day Adventist.) Yep, you can get 666 from all sorts of words and phrases.

    The NY Times offers more info on the number of the beast.

    Speaking of number mythology, my second son was born on Friday the 13th. We didn't name him Jason, and he doesn't suffer inordinately from bad luck.

    Positive Signs in Iran

    The U.S. will give Iran nuclear technology if Iran gives up on enriching uranium. Offering incentives with implied threats of consequences instead of bellicose rhetoric has a much better chance of success, and Iran had some positive reactions to the deal.

    Compare this with all the chest pounding before Iraq and we can see the difference in an administration that is actually seeking to avoid war. Iran knows how the game is played, too.
    In recent days, Iran's leadership has alternated between talking tough and signaling it is open to negotiations - perhaps an attempt to portray to the Iranian public that it is not backing down even as it considers reversing its refusal to suspend enrichment.
    After reviewing the proposals, there will be more talks soon.

    Monday, June 05, 2006

    President's Claims to Power Investigated

    The ABA is going to be investigating the President's claim that, by issuing "signing statements" while he's signing a law, a president can simply disregard laws.

    Very good news, indeed.

    The Future of Blogging

    AFAIK, The Editors have invented animated video blogging, which is probably only initially great, and will get very stupid over a very short amount of time.

    But for now, it's awesome.

    FWIW, I would love to see a dinosaur cleaning a toilet.

    Trying Something Radical

    ColoradoLib is having an All Positive All The Time Week.

    I think I might try it, too. I don't know if I can, but I appreciate a challenge and I'm not afraid of failure.

    Maybe I'll just ride ColoradoLib's coattails. First post, Bill Winter is cool.

    Sunday, June 04, 2006

    I Knew Tony Snow Would Be Better

    I had predicted his lies would be "more bald-faced and creative."

    As Atrios says, "While Ari dazzled them with irrelevancies, Scottie just said nothing, and now Pony Blow just makes stuff up."

    Holtzman Taking Play from O'Reilly's Book

    Just as Bill O'Reilly likes to claim he grew up on the mean streets though he was comparatively well-off, Holtzman does the same.
    Holtzman likes to note on the campaign trail that he "was born in the blue-collar coal country of northeastern Pennsylvania."

    True, geographically. But his family neither labored in coal mines nor is blue-collar.

    Within minutes of greeting a guest at his winter home in Palm Beach, Fla., his father, financier Seymour Holtzman, not only mentions that he went public with his first business at age 26, but also goes line by line through his company's financial statements.

    Holtzman's mother, Evelyn, stayed home in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., tending to Marc and his younger brother and sister while her husband grew his business into Jewelcor - a national chain of catalog showrooms - plus a jewelry manufacturer, travel agencies, investment and management services, and even pizza arcades.
    He even has the gall to say this, "I know what it's like to wake up and have to get out and literally not have a toothbrush or pajamas to my name."

    When he was 12, Hurricane Agnes broke a dike on the Susquehanna river, so he was awakened by the National Guard to flee to safety. To an overcrowded sports arena with no services cut off from outside help by ineffectually-run government agencies, then being homeless for months like most other poor people?

    No, his family's "ski chalet in the Poconos before moving to a new home on higher ground."

    Frightenend and inconvenienced once, he knows what it's like to suffer and be deprived. Although, if he was awakened in the middle of the night, I wonder why he says he didn't have pajamas?

    Even Without Illegals, Healthcare in Crisis

    I had a bit of an argument with my mom over illegal immigrants in which she blamed them for the closing of California ERs. And I know that many blame illegal immigrants for the problem. Here's one blogger's take:

    While the New York Times does not exactly specify illegal aliens as the cause, it is quite obvious by these numbers.

    "This is definitely cause for alarm," Carol Meyer, director of the Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services Agency, said on Friday in an interview.

    Ms. Meyer said 30 percent of the nine million people in the county were underinsured or had no medical insurance at all. Statewide, seven million people are uninsured, according to the California Medical Association.


    So, lets break these numbers down. 30% of 9 million is about 3.3 million people or nearly half of the 7 million in California that are uninsured, That's just in their county.

    The US Bureau of Citizenship & Immigration Services, however, says that in 2000 there were only 2,209,000 illegal immigrants in all of California. Los Angeles Almanac used California's share of the national percentage to figure that the county percentage would be about 619,000 illegal immigrants in Los Angeles County. That's a whopping 93% of the population of LA County which is both legal and uninsured.

    Gee, I wonder why the NY Times didn't specify illegal aliens as the problem.

    But more interestingly, the California Medical Association's Annual ER Losses Report from 2004 also doesn't blame illegal aliens.

    Nearly 7 million Californians—one in five—have no health insurance and use the ER as their family physician or go there for treatment when their untreated chronic conditions have turned critical. California is 4th in the nation in the percent of uninsured, with nearly 20% without health insurance.

    Emergency care is an essential public service, yet remarkably it is rapidly becoming less available to everyone because of overuse by patients seeking care for conditions that are neither critical nor emergent. Why is this happening? For some Californians, particularly the uninsured, our emergency departments are their only source of medical care. But increasingly, emergency rooms are also being visited by HMO patients who would otherwise have to wait days or weeks for an appointment with a physician or specialist. Emergency room visits are soaring. They totaled 10 million in 2001 and are expected to hit 12 million by 2006.

    Don't I recall something about how the American medical care system is the best in the world because, unlike those socialist countries with universal healthcare, we don't have to wait weeks or months for doctors?

    Illegal immigrants contribute to the problem, certainly. But even if all illegals were rounded up and kicked out, ERs would still be losing money, still be overburdened, and still be closing.

    Why? Because even those who are covered aren't getting covered.

    The state’s Medi-Cal program severely underpays for the actual cost of emergency care. Many HMOs reduce reimbursement, delegate the responsibility for payment to medical groups, or refuse reimbursement completely because auditors have decided—after the fact—that the service provided was not an actual emergency.

    Illegal immigrants aren't the problem. Assuming all illegal immigrants are uninsured, a quick look down the chart comparing uninsured and indigent visits to Medicare, Medi-Cal and Third Party Payors shows quite clearly that those who are insured play a large role in overburdening emergency rooms.

    Our medical care system is failing on its own. As an August 27 2004 LA Times editorial quoted in the report, " ... emergency departments have become de facto providers of universal care."

    Doesn't it make more sense to acknowledge that universal care already exists, but that it needs to be administered intelligently and uniformly for greatest efficiency, money management and effect?

    [edited in two places for clarity and to reduce redundancy]

    Progressive Women's Blog Ring
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