Thursday, March 30, 2006

Why I'm nervous about Kinky

Kinky "the Cigar" Friedman seems like an amusing character, and I share his distaste for Texas politicians, but I haven't found anything that he's said which would make me want to vote for him. This latest update from his website (discussed on Burnt Orange Report), just baffles me. We're currently in a special session trying to determine how to pay for education in this state due to a ruling by the Texas Supreme Court on the unconstitutionality of relying on property taxes for funding. The money will have to come from somewhere, and if the new revenue source is underestimated then it will sure look bad to have given away the surplus only to require emergency bonds or unexpected new taxes.

Let's figure out this crisis before we decide we've funded education adequately and reliably.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Thoughts on immigration...

Despite my limited perspective on recent history, it seems to me that Conservatives have always been afraid of immigration, and Democrats (largely the recipient of the immigrant-born legal votes) have always embraced it. Nothing really new here. But never have I seen it so polarized. One could say that I would need to have experienced the civil rights movement to know what real tension was, but my retort is that we should have learned better by now. I grew up in an age that knew as little racial animosity as ever, and I feel like that could change soon; this really alarms me.

My parents are fascinated with genealogy and have traced our family back in each direction for many, many generations. And despite the fact that we have loose suspicions of having some Native American in my blood line, we have not found anything but honkies from Europe. So remind me again, who the hell is it who's afraid of immigration?

On better thoughts... I'd love to check this thing out: National Geographic Genographic Project. Have any of my readers considered participating? Oh why bother... *ahem* so Mom & Dad, have you thought of participating?

Words of the Day

foment (tr. verb) -

1. to promote the growth or development of

internecine (adj.)

1. marked by slaughter : DEADLY; especially : mutually destructive
2. of, relating to, or involving conflict within a group
Context (from a founding member of the Delta Force elite counter-terrorism unit):

We have probably fomented internecine war in the Muslim world between the Shias and the Sunnis, and I think Bush may well have started the third world war, all for their own personal policies. (link)

Friday, March 24, 2006

Jane made my day

I was all pissed off from a bad day at work, when Jane's vicious tongue lashed out at some young Republican fan-boy who wriggled his way into a position at the Washington Post. And people actually think that white men don't have it easy any more? (I can count at least three white women I know personally who have said that minorities and women are taking their sons' or husbands' jobs). Oh, and there's a word of the day in there too,

Just as the time of reckoning approaches and the Washington Post will, like it or no, have to take responsibility for all the flagrant, credulous warmongering it did in a fit of BushCo access rapture, you guys hire the most thick-witted, mouth breathing home schooled freak you could lay your hands on. The respectable journalists who have managed to survive the Patrick Ruffini sycophancy of John WATB Harris, the jejune truthiness of Deborah Howell and the simple fact that one of the biggest stories of last year was how the paper'’s own superstar fucked you over and then wouldn'’t talk to you about it are no doubt cringing in the bathroom stalls.
Heh.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Two sides to the same coin?

This could be seen as good or bad:

South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds’ (R) job approval dropped to 58% from 72% last month, after he signed a bill outlawing most abortions in the state, according to a new SurveyUSA poll.
A joke seems relevant: An optimist and a pessimist are camping. They wake up early to the rising sun and a still morning mist clinging to the shadows. The optimist declares, "ahhh, this is as good as it gets!" The pessimist sighs, and agrees. (thanks Dad, that's one of my favorites!)

Sunday, March 19, 2006

awesome quote

"Senator, when you took your oath of office, you placed your hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution. You did not place your hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible." - Gene Stone

Friday, March 17, 2006

Blue America?

How bizarre... It's interesting to visually identify the shift in public opinion over the last few years, which I found through an Austin blog called Casual Soapbox. Here's an animated GIF:

http://www.radicalruss.net/blog/images/bushmap-new.gif

And surprisingly, polls show that Democrats in Congress have had a 15% or greater advantage over the GOP in terms of congressional election prospects. But I'm certain this is only because people think that nobody could possibly do worse than our current situation. The Dems currently in Congress are a largely disorganized, inconsistent, incoherent, unprincipled politicos for whom I have very little respect - just look at how they have reacted to Feingold's call for censure.

Note about Feingold: He's the joint author of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill, he was the only Senator to vote against the original Patriot act, he aggressively grilled Alito on important (and occasionally taboo) questions during his confirmation hearings, and he has very few friends amongst Republicans or Democrats because he is so principled and "uncooperative". He's also a contender for the 2008 Presidential Race. These are certainly interesting times...

Letter from Kay Bailey Hutchison

People say that all politics is local, so getting involved in local politics is of course one of the first steps one can take in feeling like your voice matters. But I think the most important thing one can do to contribute is to stay informed. That alone puts you above such a large portion of the population, it's scary. Being informed means that when it comes time to make a decision, either in your private life or publicly at the polls, you won't be deciding based on your "gut instinct." I believe you can see pretty clearly the results of acting purely on gut instinct; witness the current administration.

However when it comes to politics I try to go a small degree beyond just staying informed. I annoy my friends with news and opinions, including maintaining this blog, and I call and write to my Congress-critters. But it's hard work to fend off my cynicism living in a Red State where my beliefs are so frequently attacked, or worse, ignored. Especially when it comes from my own Representatives.

I've written to Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in the past about the Texas constitutional marriage amendment and the McCain-Feingold finance reform bill. Each time she's slapped me down, replying in harsh tones that indicated I was not her constituent, and that my opinion did not matter. So I was not a bit surprised for her latest slap regarding the Alito confirmation process. Here's the letter her office sent me:

1/20/2006
Dear Mr. Hippie:

Thank you for contacting me regarding nominations to the United States Supreme Court. I welcome your thoughts and comments on this issue.

On July 1, 2005, Associate Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O'Connor announced her intention to retire from the bench, creating the first such vacancy on the court since 1994. Her announcement set into motion a process, as outlined in Article 2 of the U.S. Constitution, whereby the President nominates a replacement to the Court and the Senate advises and consents on the nomination.

It is critical to our democracy that well-qualified men and women are nominated to serve on our nation's highest court. Senators have a constitutional responsibility to carefully consider each nomination to the bench based on the individual's qualifications and judicial temperament. In carrying out this important function, the Senate must ensure the integrity of our judicial system.

On October 31, 2005, President George W. Bush nominated Samuel A. Alito Jr. to succeed Justice O'Connor. Since 1990, Judge Alito has served on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, where he decided more that 1,500 cases dealing with complex, constitutional, criminal, and civil disputes and where he authored hundreds of opinions. Prior to his appointment on the bench, Judge Alito served as a U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, prosecuting white collar and environmental crimes, drug trafficking, organized crime, and violations of civil rights. Judge Alito also served as the Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel, providing constitutional advice for the Executive Branch. In addition, Judge Alito served as Assistant to the Solicitor General, arguing 12 cases before the supreme court and dozens of cases before the federal court of appeals. Samuel Alito started his career in the Third Circuit, clerking for Judge Leonard Garth, and later serving as the Assistant U.S. attorney in the appellate division. Judge Alito received his bachelor's degree from Princeton University and attended Yale Law school, where he served as editor on the Yale Law Journal.

It is clear that president Bush has selected a highly qualified person with a brilliant legal mind. Judge Alito has been unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate twice and is known as a jurist who is committed to the rule of law and understands that the proper role of a judge is to strictly interpret the law, not legislate from the bench. It is critical that Judge Alito be given the opportunity to show the Senate and the entire nation why he would make a superb Supreme Court Justice. We must make this process fair and free from partisan politics. The Senate should act expeditiously on his nomination.

I appreciate hearing from you and hope you will not hesitate to keep in touch on any issue of concern to you.

Sincerely,
Kay Bailey Hutchison

(All emphasis is mine.) Wow. She went to great lengths to talk about Alito's experience with the breadth and depth of the judiciaries responsibilities, without taking a moment to address my original concern: Alito would shift the court to the right as a very conservative replacement to O'Connor, and that such a move further solidifies Bush's stance as a divider, not a uniter. Incidentally I also found it amusing that she took a slap at Harriet Miers too, but whatever. Mostly I was disappointed by how little her office really cared about engaging a discussion with those who disagree; the letter arrived at my house weeks after Alito was finally confirmed. Furthermore she provided scant compelling evidence of Alito's capability to judge fairly - just his capability to judge.

But I am pleased with how well I've been able to eschew apathy. It's just a matter of perspective. To quote a family friend and former Texas congressman Carl Parker,
If you took all the fools out of the legislature, it wouldn't be a representative body anymore.
True, that.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Next come the stonings

Now Tennessee is trying to ban abortion. The GOP is trying to turn our nation into Saudi Arabia. Libertarians are mostly financially stable white men, who feel more threatened by the GOP's financial idiocy than by their abrogation of personal freedoms. And Democracts have all the wits and wherewithall of a cage full of startled turkeys.

Some days I hate politics....

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Word of the Day

Effete (adjective) -

1 : no longer fertile
2a : having lost character, vitality, or strength
2b: marked by weakness or decadence
2c : soft or delicate from or as if from a pampered existence
3 : Effeminate
Context:
I guess we can all agree now that Dolly Parton isn't a real American. She wrote a song about God and a transgendered person that didn't condemn that person to hell. Here's the effete, latte swilling, NT Times reading, out of the mainstream, left wing elitist making excuses for herself.... (link)

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Supreme Court to consider Texas redistricting

SCOTUS will consider the redistricting/gerrymandering of late by the Republicans in Texas. Given that Democrats do the same kind of bullshit in Texas (and elsewhere) during regular redistricting, I can only hope that this helps push us towards having an independent panel (say of retired judges, like I believe California is proposing) handle redistricting.