Saturday, December 29, 2012

Andrew Sullivan on Cannabis.

Andrew Sullivan for whom I have great respect writes this week about cannabis and its use among high school students in the US. I have read the article and I am not sure I agree with it. First of all he cites a study cited in an article in USA Today in which the author of the article says “As states increasingly adopt laws allowing medical marijuana, fewer teens see occasional marijuana use as harmful, the largest national survey of youth drug use has found.” That is all well and good and I am not questioning the numbers set out in the article respecting the views of adolescent responders.
What causes me pause however is Andrew's take on the study. One of its basic assumptions both in Andrew's comment and in the USA Today article,without citation to authority other than the 'everyone knows' argument is that pot is harmful to the adolescent brain. I am not willing to accept that without reference to some science. I refuse to accept the argument that “everyone knows” this or that thing. That argument is fallacious ab initio for the simple reason that 'everyone' does not know this or that article of presumed fact. I understand that there have been very few studies of cannabis and its harmful effects on the human brain generally, if any there are. I also understand that the paucity of such studies results from the institutional corruption of the federal agency charged with regulation of cannabis and its use. The Drug Enforcement Administration doesn't want studies about cannabis. Studies inhibit the administration's mission which is the total prohibition of the cultivation, preparation, transportation, transfer, possession and use of a plant by anyone. In short DEA is the occupying army in our 75 year old failed War on Drugs.
Remember in a free society we need a good and substantial reason to criminalize an action, an activity or a thing, we do not need a reason to make such an action, activity or thing legal. In a free society the default setting is or should be 'lawful.'

Monday, December 17, 2012

Thoughts on Sandy Hook Elementary, Part One.

When I heard Friday's news of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary I sort of put it out of my mind because the news report I heard said that all the children had been evacuated to the safety of a nearby fire station. I had errands to run and people to see. It was only later when I returned home that the extent of the devastation wrought by the lone gunman became known and the enormity of the tragedy hit home. Later that day I posted something of my grief and my frustration on one of the social media sites. It was a true feeling of impotence and all I could do, all I could think to do was to not turn on my holiday lights and I lit a single votive light in a blue holder in the window and wept for the children, for their martyred teachers and for my countrymen. I could not think of anything else I could do even though my heart was breaking in sorrow. Since then I have pretty much been alone with myself wondering what I should do and what we should do as a society to attempt somehow to prevent these insane massacres by obviously insane and angry people.
My first thought was that we should repeal the Second Amendment, that it was no longer necessary because we no longer have citizen militias. We have moved beyond the need for groups of armed citizens called to training with their flintlocks. I played with idea for awhile and while playing with it I re-read Antonin Scalia's opinion in District of Columbia vs Heller in which Justice Scalia the intellectual leader of the Four Horsemen of the Court in which he attempted  in tortured prose and logic to explain how the Second Amendment prefaced with prefatory language that a “well regulated militia” is essential to the security of a free state somehow protects a citizen's right to own a weapon for personal protection and the protection of that citizen's property. Scalia is one of the proponents of a nonsensical theory of constitutional interpretation known as Originalism which holds that the Constitution must be interpreted according to intent of the drafters of it. Or as Scalia said recently in one his public speeches touting his book, that the Constitution is “dead, dead, dead.”
Logically according to Originalism it would seem that since the Second Amendment was adopted in 1791 that it should mean that every citizen is entitled constitutionally to own and possess a flintlock, a bowie-type knife and perhaps even a primitive cannon. Scalia didn't discuss that in his opinion for the Court in the Heller case. I was thinking that the amendment should be repealed so that we could as a society make 'war' on firearms and destroy as many of them as we can. I have since abandoned that position as not very practical and as not very effective and as destructive of other constitutional rights. Now my position is that we should keep the amendment and limit it to flintlocks and bowie knives and small cannons of the like hauled around by Washington's rag tag army during the Revolutionary War.
A better read is the dissenting opinion of Justice Stevens in the Heller case. In his opinion Stevens points out that the Second Amendment grew out of the constitutional convention dispute over allowing the Congress to organize a standing army and the fear that  the states had that such standing armies were a threat to the very existence of the rights of the states to maintain, arm and train their own militias and even possibly to the sovereignty of those constituent states at the time of the Nation's birth. The amendment was an 18th century solution to an 18th century constitutional problem. We no longer have state militias as they were in the 18th century. We fight wars in far away places like Afghanistan and Pakistan with their successors, national guard troops that have been federalized and brought into the service of the Nation. We no longer have 18th century problems. We have 21st century problems, great big 21st century problems like wing nut crazies such as Adam Lanza who murdered 26 people on Friday for reasons known only to himself.
The real issue is that we are a warlike people. We make war in faraway places and we make war at home. We even make up reasons to go to war, reasons that are untrue. We are enamored of violent solutions to all sorts of problems. We carry on a love affair with things like capital punishment. We make war on all sorts of things from drugs to poverty. Violence and violent imagery are a way of life to us. We play violent games both privately on computers and publicly  in huge arenas and on television. I was shocked at the violent and racist reactions last night of some people to a network's preemption of the first quarter of Sunday's football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the New England Patriots to televise President Obama's speech at the Sandy Hook memorial. American football is nothing more than a violent fight to acquire the opposing team's land.
This orientation toward violence is what has to change. There can be no doubt about that. The big question is how do we change it? We need to have a really big, really serious national conversation among honest and serious people. We need to talk it out and figure out how we change the violence that is a cancer on our Nation. Let us reason together in good faith and solve that issue for ourselves and for our posterity.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The current GOPer Plan to Win a Presidential Election One Day.

Since Mitt Romney's defeat in his entitlement-based campaign to move into the White House there has been a lot of talk among GOP pundits and consultants about the reasons for his defeat. All that punditry seems to focus on outside factors instead of the simplest and most logical reasons that the apologist for a Dickensian society lost: the majority of people voting simply didn't like him or his 'ideas' nor did they like or approve of the general message of the GOP. What I find interesting however is the recent plan by the pundits to fix the misidentified problem. Their problem is that they are going to continue to lose presidential elections as they continue to pander to what's left of a society and its social mores that have begun a mad rush to the exits. This country is not the same country demographically or politically it was fifty years ago, as one can easily see in the sea change between 2008 and this past election at least in the national debate that has been boiling around marriage equality in the four states where it was on the ballot this past month. In the analyses presented by GOP pundits they have urged that the cumbersome Electoral College systems (there are really 51 separate systems) that we use to actually elect our president isn't itself the problem. They see the problem in how those electoral votes are distributed and divvied up between the two major party candidates. There is very little hope under the current 'winner take all' system most states use to select presidential and vice presidential electors that the candidates of minor parties, such as Greens or Libertarians will ever win any electoral votes for their presidential candidates and this lack of hope will be cemented in place under the GOPer fixit plan. That problem flows naturally from the two party system we use. If the GOPers were really sincere in their desire to fix what they see as the evils of the present system they would push an amendment to our Constitution that eliminated the electoral college systems altogether so that presidents and vice presidents would be elected at large by the entire voting population. This action at least in theory would allow for that elusive condition, a level playing field on which to compete electorally and give minor parties and their candidates some hope of actually winning an election some day.
Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution and the 12th Amendment describe the electoral college and its duties and the manner of its selection and how and where they vote on the day specified by Congress. Our Constitution says that the electors of each state are chosen as their respective state legislatures determine. Currently the overwhelming majority of states and commonwealths that make up the Union use a winner take all system in which the candidate who gets the greatest number of popular votes earns all of that state's electoral votes. A few states award electoral votes by congressional district, this is the  'fix' being proposed by the GOP. Under this system a state would award its votes according to which candidate wins the most votes in each congressional district. On its face that sounds fair because it appears to be a local election where Joe Citizen gets a more direct impact on the selection of the president. It appears to bring democracy home to your own neighborhood. They say it removes the 'evils' from the current system which awards all a state's electoral votes to which ever candidate wins the most votes in the popular election. Their system just converts a statewide winner take all election to the same effect in each congressional district in the state.
The major failure of this plan, along with permanently freezing minor parties out of a chance ever to have their candidates elected is that assigning presidential electors in this fashion suffers from the same liberty defects that plague electing our congressional representatives by congressional district: apportionment and decennial re-apportionment and the gerrymanders they always create. The determination of your representation in the House closely tracks in time the decennial census the federal government conducts. Congressional and state legislative districts are generally reapportioned in the year after the census. These reapportioned districts are generally created by legislators who will run for re-election in the next election and the electoral maps tend to favor the re-election of the fellows who drew the districts. And of course there is great cooperation among the legislators participating in such shenanigans. It's another example of the play out and operation of the old adage that 'one hand washes the other'. Each congress critter represents approximately six hundred thousand people in order to keep faith with the Supreme Court's 'one man one vote' jurisprudence. As a result of this rural districts tend to be geographically large and urban districts to be much smaller and more compact. Rural areas tend to be more conservative than the residents of urban areas. The result is that rural areas tend to elect the same people to the same office year after year and those persons tend to be conservative in large part because of the demographics of rural districts. If each of those districts elect presidential electors they will be conservative too and will tend to vote that way when electing the chief executive. The GOPer plan is a new paint job on an old broken vehicle: divide and conquer.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Marriage Equality Comes to the Supreme Court.

Yesterday's decision by SCOTUS to grant certiorari in both the Perry case and the Windsor case is noteworthy. Perry is the case that seeks to overturn the ruling in the 9th Circuit that upheld the decision of former Chief Judge Vaughn Walker of California's Eastern District court that California's 2008 Proposition 8 violated the federal Constitution. Windsor is the case out of the 2nd Circuit holding that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act popularly called DOMA was itself violative of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution.
These two cases combined constitute a 'perfect storm' of Constitutional dimension. No one other than the nine justices on the Court know which justice voted which way. The writ of certiorari from the Latin 'to make more certain' may be granted by the affirmative vote of four justices of the court. A decision to grant the writ and set a case for briefing, argument and hearing is made 'at conference.' The members of the court meet in secret periodically during any given term in their conference room in the presence only of their consciences. The term of the court runs from the first Monday in October until they finish their business in late June, whether or not that business is in reality finished. The justices themselves determine when their business is finished. It is commonly believed (with no evidence to support that belief) that 'cert' was granted by the affirmative vote of the four 'conservative' justices including the Chief Justice and justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito and it is commonly believed by court watchers that the four 'liberal' justices along with Justice Anthony Kennedy did not vote for cert. Since the conference was held in secret no one but the nine justices knows for certain and everything else is simply speculation. Not even the legal staffs of the justices know what transpired at conference. All we know is the result. Both cases will be heard and in theory decided before the end of June.
Every partisan in the Nation has predictably announced how happy each is that SCOTUS has decided to take up both Perry and Windsor. I caution restraint in those announcements of support for the action of the justices yesterday at conference. Potentially these cases can be the greatest civil rights cases of the legal careers of both the justices and the lawyers participating in those cases and whose names will forever appear on the briefs and in the case books and in the history books of this Nation. These cases can go down history as the legal equals of Brown vs Board of Education in which a unanimous court outlawed the practice of compelled racial discrimination in our public schools and the other great marriage case Loving vs Virginia which unanimously overturned racial restrictions on marriage in the United States.
A decision of SCOTUS upholding both the 9th circuit decision and the 2nd Circuit decision would mark great progress in the slow struggle to democratize our society and to extend the blessings of liberty that has been undertaken in the 221 years since the adoption of the Constitution. As a partisan in this struggle I must say that I fully support this struggle for what is being called Marriage Equality. I am not going to go into the reasons. Hundreds and perhaps thousands perhaps even tens of thousands of people have already set out those arguments and reasons. What I fear however is that SCOTUS will not advance this struggle for liberty but in fact will craft an opinion in form and substance equal to the opinion written by Chief Justice Roger Taney in Dred Scott vs Sanford decided in 1857 that “negroes”, even those who had been manumitted by their 'owners', were not and could not ever become citizens of this country or of any of the states in which they lived or were present and which was overruled both by the Civil War and the enactment of the Civil War Amendments to the Constitution and of course the case of Plessy vs Ferguson decided in 1896 in an opinion written by Justice Henry Billings Brown holding that compelled separation of the races is somehow equality under the law.
A decision reversing either the Perry case or the Windsor case would destroy our constitutional jurisprudence so painstakingly crafted over the 221 years of our constitutional history and create a constitutional crisis unseen since the secession of the confederate states. In my view it is time to educate the members of the court not just through the briefs filed in these causes but through popular education. There is no doubt that the the justices of the Court read not only the briefs filed but also newspapers and other organs of popular education including I suspect the writings that appear in the blogosphere. There must be a great clamor arising from the People educating the justices including the mossbacks who inhabit the conservative side of the court to the reality of what is at stake in these two cases. Are we marching forward, however slowly is that march, or are we heading back to the days when we created not only classes of citizens but classes of people who in the words of Chief Justice Taney were not and could not be citizens and who were excluded from the benefits civil society and equal protection under the law? SCOTUS is going to answer that question for us, for better or worse, in the next six months.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Rep Candace Miller to Chair House Administration Committee

Congratulations to Representative Candace Miller (R-MI)  who has broken the glass ceiling in the GOP leadership of the House in the 113th Congress which takes office in January 2013. Congress Critter Miller was appointed the new Chair of the House Administration Committee Speaker Boehner's office announced today. The House Administration Committee oversees the House Cafeteria and the selection of paper or plastic plates and bowls and the House restrooms and the Members' cloak room. 
The speaker's office has not yet announced a date for her installation as chairperson at which ceremony she will given the usual ceremonial toilet brush. There is no word at this writing if the brush will be resurfaced in mahogany and the bristles bronzed or gilded. She is currently a member of the House Homeland Security Committee.

A Son and His Dad

I read this article with great interest. My interest was piqued by several things. First there was the human interest and the seemingly random distribution of pain among all classes of us. It was also fascinating because it sort of mirrored by own relationship with my father in my formative years. Then there was the realization that the Fournier father-son were especially blessed in their encounter by the fact that this family had the resources available to them to obtain professional help they needed to make the paternal-filial relationship come into bloom. The relationship between the two principals was also blessed by a gift that very few people enjoy: the ability to bring into play the father's professional relationships with two former presidents of the US.
This distribution of pain which is seemingly random and perhaps even chaotic reminds me that we are all stardust essentially and products of the Big Bang which apparently is continuing to this day when you listen to cosmologists speak and ponder what they are saying. Who knows what the cause of Aspergers is in reality perhaps it is also the mal-formation of stardust that's been reformulated into the human brain.
My own father who was the fourth child of his family lost his father and a sibling during the influenza epidemic that terrorized the world in 1918 and he came of age during the Great Depression. This article made me think of my own father and my relationship with him because he was a jock in his off and on again high school years playing football and dabbling in horticulture as a member of the gladiolus society at Manual Arts high school in Los Angeles. As his son I suspect I was a bit of a disappointment because I was not athletically inclined as a kid. I didn't even really enjoy watching sports on the television growing up. I think he and I went to a grand total of two sporting events, a Los Angeles Rams game and a Los Angeles Dodgers game, both of those at the Los Angeles Coliseum before the Dodgers moved to Chavez Ravine. Because I was relatively tall I was forced into basketball and because I frequently tripped over my own feet and grace was a stranger to me, I frankly sucked at it. Later in life a friend told me that my view of basketball was 'ten misshapen men running around in their underwear'. I am slightly more enlightened on that now but not much. One of my great fears growing up was that I would lose my father to some horrible accident or disease. As a consequence of my disinclination to sports I was much more interested in reading. I devoured every science fiction book I could get my hands on in the library. I am still a devotee of both Isaac Asimov and the late great Robert Heinlein. I don't think Dad and I were friends and I am sure I was a disappointment to him. My father was good ballroom dancer and I pretty much sucked at all forms of dance and to this day I have to be led onto the dance floor by demon rum or some similar substance. My dad never seemed to take an interest in improving our relationship. Not from a lack of interest but because he didn't know how to do that. His formal education never went beyond high school. He was definitely consumed in just making a living for himself and his family. He was most definitely not abusive. I don't want anyone to draw that conclusion. I just think that he didn't know how to draw close to me because I wasn't of his world. As for me I was fearful of losing him and I had no idea how to please him and take the first step toward befriending him. I am certainly glad that Ron Fournier worked at befriending Tyler and the article certainly shows that Tyler was almost ecstatic over developing that friendship.
One thought that persisted in my head as I read the article and tried relating it to myself was Tyler and Ron were very lucky that the resources were available to them to overcome the raw deal that Aspergers gave them. So many parents and kids of lesser means do not have those resources not because they don't exist but as a simple fact of economic life in 21st century America. The medications and therapies for Tyler and his parents are expensive and I wouldn't even hazard a guess as to what all of that cost the family or some insurer but they had the resources available and they were able to take advantage of them. I am happy for them. But I still wonder about poor kids and poor families, will the opportunities that the Fourniers had available be lost to those kids simply as a fact of economic life? Will those children be lost to our society simply because the powers that be are more concerned with the acquisition of wealth and the protection of that wealth from the tax collector? Are the aspies, as they are called to be lost to us as a society because of greed and avarice? I certainly hope that isn't the case.
And of course there is no way to quantify the impact that Ron Fornier's connection with powerful people such as two former presidents of the US had on the development of his son.



Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving Stuff.

Thanksgiving is an interesting  time of year. Stuff happens around this national holiday. Thanksgiving is a mixture of gratitude for what we have and hope that our lives will continue to get better. This holiday is the closest thing we have to a national holiday that celebrates the cultural of the European settlers/invaders of this continent. Sometimes the unexpected happens. For instance the dinner with friends to celebrate this holiday was continued to today and continued again because of injuries and the flu. At least we know the turkey will be thawed.
Former neighbors stop by to hang out and that's fun. Then another comes by and a discussion ensues about stuff. Then a newer neighbor stops by and there are more discussions about stuff. Meanwhile I just about got blown off the road by some clown who is absolutely convinced he can control his vehicle at a speed significantly in excess of the 25 mile limit in this residential neighborhood where there are large numbers of people standing around. I am thankful I moved further onto the shoulder. The discussions continue about stuff.
One of the things I remember about this informal and unplanned visitation was that one of the attendees had bumper stickers on his vehicle. One sticker read Uncle Sam wants you to learn ENGLISH. That was not part of the stuff that was discussed. It did make me remember however that the first European immigrants to these shores didn't bother to learn the language of the native people they found already here.
We also didn't discuss that modern day capitalism is essentially a wealth redistribution mechanism that mostly operates from pretty close to the bottom upward. The extremely wealthy among us continue to suck up the meager earnings of their poorer fellows and reject their basic human need for health care. There has been much talk recently about the giant retailer Wal-Mart and Sam's Club. The CEO of the company makes a salary so large that when broken down to an hourly figure is more than a thousand times the hourly salary of floor employees of his warehouse stores. The employees are mostly part time employees and as such aren't entitled to little goodies like health care. I bet the CEO has pretty good health care plan, perhaps it even qualifies as Cadillac plan.
I was criticizing a tweet yesterday I believe by someone who was touting Hillary Clinton as the Dem nominee for President in 2016. My criticism of that tweet is that the second Obama term hasn't even begun yet. There is plenty to time for us to select a nominee after we finish what is really important: governing. We need to finish the stuff we started to do in 09 and making big strides and hopefully completing more stuff and accomplishing more in our struggle promised by Jefferson and other enlightenment figures to further democratize the society.
I did have some really good pie too.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Happy Birthday Durval.

November 19th would be his 60th birthday. He was my spring and the first savior of my life and he died in my arms on a warm evening on the last day of spring in 1990. He devoted the ten years of our lives together to me in all things. It will always have been my great privilege and perhaps my ultimate calling to have been his Simon Cyrene. At his side I learned so much about life, love, living and loving.

I leave my thoughts, my laughter,
my dreams
to you whom I have treasured
beyond gold and precious gems.

Fear not nor grieve at my departure,
you whom I have loved so much,
for my roots and yours
are forever intertwined. --Edward Hays

Hopefully I learned enough from him that I will always treat the people whom it is my privilege to love now with the same love and respect that he treated me up until his last breath. Need I say that there is a vast space in my heart filled with everything that I learned from him I miss him so very much.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Let's Not Secede---Let's Experiment with Democracy.

I have noticed that since the 2012 election cycle has been over that there has been renewed talk about secession. This interests me not because I am a proponent of secession. I am not. I am however a proponent of democracy and I believe in participatory democracy. I suspect the noise about secession has roots in peoples' disappointment over the results of this past election which I personally believe in the most important election of modern America since the election of 1932. There are several impediments to democracy right now not the least of which is the size of our Nation. The 2010 census tells us that there are more than 360 million of us. When this system was designed there were fewer than five million of us and two million of us were owned by some small percentage of the remaining three million. They certainly weren't permitted to vote, even if they gained the benefit of manumission. Women were not permitted to vote by any of the thirteen original members of the Union. People (men) who paid no taxes and who owned no property were not permitted to vote. We have seen over the last year as we  prepared for this past election that we cannot seen to govern ourselves with 18th century technology in our electoral system.
There have been heinous attempts to cure non-existent problems such as 'voter impersonation' with laws that have the effect of depriving people of what no one can deny is a fundamental right, the right to vote. There have been restrictions on one thing that might help, early voting and voting by mail. Some states such as Oregon and Washington have eliminated old fashioned 'go to the polls and vote' system in favor of a one hundred percent vote by mail system. Vermont has a system of town meetings the decisions of which have the force of law.
We have the technology to conduct elections electronically and the means to guarantee that no can subvert the election by surreptitious tinkering around with the electoral system. Smaller communities like the one I live in could easily enact a system of town meetings for self governance. The city of Los Angeles in years past experimented with smaller neighborhood councils and even the judicial council of California which runs our statewide judicial system experimented with locally based small claims courts. We need to think about this stuff. We could certainly have small test areas for a new process of democratically governing ourselves. It will cause no harm and may even be beneficial.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Cold Early Morning

The santanas are beginning to blow and the air temperature is down in the region of the thermometer that scares native-born Californians such as myself. I look out the window and see leaves being blown off my plum tree. It's time to harvest the last of the leaves of my lemon pepper plant which is being beaten sideways along with the remaining bloom on my Georgia Peace rose bush, its leaves being torn asunder along with the leaves of its fellows in the rose bed. My oak tree and those of my neighbors are being freed of seemingly millions of acorns adorning them in great bunches which drop to the ground in a great botanical attack on the earth. The native peoples of the Santa Ana Mountains explained these great attacks by acorns as the promise of a wet winter to come. It may be the promise of global warming.
Rupert is confused and scared and he's cold and the wind makes noise and Rupert hates noise and he is bewildered by the senseless motion of the plants outside his favorite window. He hovers close to a little space heater so that he can warm up sufficiently to make the dash from the heater to the warmth of my now abandoned bed and to dive beneath the covers where he will hang out and sleep until feline biology requires he make the frigid journey to his cat box. He will then warm up again and return to the comfort of his daytime sleeping place.
The no longer venerable Los Angeles Times reports that southland temperatures are tanking and winds increasing and it warns of the possibility of freeways being frozen over for the early morning commute and the return late at night today and for tomorrow's early morning commute. Southern California has a promised visitation from black ice a phenomenon usually only found on our roads in the far northern reaches of the state and on mountain roads in the Sierra and other high ranges of California.
Our local firefighters have been summoned into action by the wailing of the ancient World War II civil defense siren sitting on top of the firehall. The reason for its wailing as yet unknown. Perhaps it is cleaning up an early morning traveler laid out on the road, perhaps it is a medical aid. Hopefully it is not a fire. Time will tell.
But thanks be to the Great Provider there is Coffee. I crave it. I need it. It humanizes me. I shall drink it and warm my innards and fire up my soul.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Why is Marco Rubio Heading for Iowa?

The 2012 election was held only five days ago. Barack Obama won for those of you who haven't picked up on that yet. Apparently Marco Rubio is on of those who hasn't Today the not so venerable LA Times reports that Marco Rubio is heading for Iowa next week  to put in an appearance. Sounds like he's the first GOPer to try to replace President Obama when he's termed out in January of 2017. Rubio has an interesting history as a tea bagger supported candidate for the US Senate and then as the junior senator from Florida. What I am curious about is what religious platform is he going to run on? Will he run as a Catholic, a Mormon, or a Baptist. He has been all three. This ought to be interesting. He hasn't even allowed for a decent mourning interval after the shellacking Romney got. I guess what this really means is that the rancid right wing in America will continue to wage jihad on Obama. Strap yourselves in folks this is going to be another E Ticket ride.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

My Thoughts on the 2012 Election.

For those of you who are wondering why I have been silent about the results of our 2012 election I can only say that my silence is simply because I haven't until now figured out what to say about it. It was most interesting for sure both in its results and its implications for the future of the GOP both here in California and nationally to say nothing of its implications for freedom in America. It has huge implications for the future of our Nation and for the sacred obligation of its citizens to create a 'more perfect union' as expressed in the preamble to our Constitution. I discovered a most interesting article this morning in the Prospect written by Harold Meyerson entitled the Future of the White Man's Party. I encourage everyone to read it. It is an eyeopener and it is based on those things called facts that the GOP stubbornly refuses to acknowledge exist.
I remember the night four years ago that Barack Obama was elected. The sheer joy that ran through the Nation and buoyed the progressive population was simply electric. There was finally hope for our people. Hope for our Nation. I was so excited by that election that I half expected sparks to fly when I reached out to touch anything. Finally it appeared that America had outdone itself and was beginning to put its racist and genocidal past (yes racist and genocidal) to rest in a potter's field and there would soon be closure. We had finally turned the corner. I should have realized that that was not true and that I was being very naive. it was merely a repaired section in the bumpy road to the democratization of the Nation. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) quickly announced that it was the intention of the GOP in the Senate to make sure Obama would be a one term president, some sort of political fluke. The Dems in the House which they had controlled since 2006 were dominated by Blue Dogs and even though they had elected a 'San Francisco liberal' to be Speaker were scared of their own shadows and fearful of rocking the boat they were partying aboard and every time one of the GOP barked they jumped and looked over their shoulders in fear for their careers. They complained openly that they had to be very scared because if they got turned out they couldn't help Obama and everything went downhill from there. They forgot the words of Franklin Roosevelt in the darkest days of the Great Depression that the only thing we had to fear was fear itself. The GOP caucus in the Senate objected to everything the inexperienced president proposed and much of President Obama's Hope Agenda was stalled and starved in that body. Each and every member of the GOP caucus in the Senate had to approve of every item, seemingly even bathroom breaks, or the modern day equivalent of the filibuster broke out. After 2010 the House buried every piece of progressive legislation. If by chance something got passed by the House it got filibustered to death in the Senate. Barack Obama's legislative successes were few and were earned by the sweat and tears of the president, his staff and few progressives both in and outside of government.
As the just finished election cycle wore on the GOP and their anonymous financiers invented potential scandal and controversies out of nothingness and offered it up to the American people. They posited serial incredible ancient conspiracies dating back almost fifty years to a have a 'poo' black child from Kenya' elected President of the US. They dreamed up incredible nightmarish situations some of their spokesmen and intellectual leaders fueled by oxycontin addictions denigrated this man as 'one of them' in a cosmic battle between “us and them”. They sent racist emails around the globe arguing that they weren't racist but that they were 'only jokes'. They allied themselves with fundamental religionists who believe that the Bible was written by the hand of god and that every single thing in it was true, even the contradictory parts. They called him a Muslim because we hated Muslims and then some of the same people with straight faces called him an atheist because we hated atheists. He was a socialist. He was a communist. He was whatever we hated the most on any given day. A few even tried to call him a homosexual. They did everything they could to destroy this man and his presidency. American politics engineered by BSCs became very ugly. Then the campaign for the soul of America got into high gear and everything got worse. Lies were told and those lies were picked up by the organs of hate and were retold and retold again until they became true in the minds of people susceptible to being lied to. State legislatures in the so-called swing states that had been captured in the 2010 election enacted laws to make it more difficult for people to vote that acted disproportionately upon people, mostly of color, who tended to vote as Democrats. They cut back on innovative ways to increase citizen participation in the electoral process such as early voting and voting by mail. They installed defective voting machines in precincts that tended to vote democratic. Not all those machines were defective just a few. They set about to steal another election like they did in 2000 and then again in 2004. Their agents in such sterling hate groups and the National Organization for Marriage and the Family Research Council screamed to anyone who would listen their crazed idea that marriage needs to be restricted to only good heterosexual people and that unless it was so limited those nasty evil homosexuals would be on their way to your city, your neighborhood intent on breaking up your marriage and courting and marrying your son or your daughter. This was their great wedge issue designed to bring out huge hordes of BSCs from the woodwork like so many voracious termites to vote against their own interests and to put the GOP back in total control of my government and to control the judiciary for decades to come. They even involved the US Conference of Catholic Bishops who to a man bemoaned that mandating coverage for family planning in the AHA was somehow depriving those medieval lords of their right to practice their religion.
Finally America got through what Joe Biden called malarkey and I call bullshit and election day dawned and America voted. The result of that election was earthshaking. Barack Obama won a majority in the popular vote and is poised to earn 62% of the electoral college vote when Florida gets its malarkey together and finally finishes counting votes cast in the democratic counties such as Miami-Dade. The GOP spinmeisters and its chief propaganda organs such as Fox News called it a squeaky win instead of what it really was, a landslide.
The President's coattails extended far and wide and the BSCs such as Todd Akin in Missouri a man totally ignorant of human biology was defeated, Richard Mourdock who asserted that pregnancies resulting from rape were “God's will” were defeated and sent packing. Both Connie Mack in Florida and his wife Mary Bono Mack in California were sent packing. The Democrats increased their membership in the Senate and are now in a position to finally end the filibuster in the Senate and restore that body to a majoritarian body as intended by the drafters of our Constitution. No one expected the Democrats to increase their membership in the House but they did and I suspect but for the evil of gerrymandering after the 2010 census would have taken over the House.
In California after reapportionment by a citizens' commission the Democrats prevailed in legislative elections so that that come the new legislative session they will have super majorities in both the Assembly and the State Senate. If other states had reapportionment by similar citizens' commissions free of partisan influence and incumbent protection I suspect the Dems would have taken over the house and retired the likes of John Boehner and Eric Cantor and yes even Paul Ryan and Michelle Bachmann.
Perhaps the most astounding change in the last four years has been in the area of civil rights. For the first time in history marriage equality has been enacted by popular vote. Not just in one state but in four states: Maine, Minnesota, Maryland and Washington. Massachusetts has become the 18th state in the union to allow marijuana use for medical purposes and in two states, Colorado and Washington, marijuana has been legalized for recreational use. As Bob Dylan intoned so many years ago “the times they are a changin.”
People power is alive and well in America. And no, Mr. Romney, corporations are not people.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Salvation Is at Hand!

The formerly venerable Los Angeles Times reports tonight that Bruce Springsteen has granted parole to governor Chris Christie and allowed him out of the doghouse in Asbury Park. When I read that I wondered if that was Christie's price for his effusive praise of President Obama over the federal disaster response to Hurricane Sandy after  it ravaged New Jersey last week. There is a picture of the backsides of the Boss and the President with Obama's hand centered squarely on Bruce's back that accompanies  the article. It reminded me very much of pictures I have seen depicting  Lyndon Johnson arm-twisting during his years in the White House. If that was Christie's price it was a good move on his part because by poking Myth Romney in the eye the way he did last week he has probably found himself on the outside of the inner workings of the GOP looking in, much like a starving man might stare at the window-seated customers consuming sumptuous dinners in a fancy restaurant. Now he can at least console himself with having spoken with the Boss.
According to the report in the Times Springsteen was in the conference room aboard Air Force One seated at the table across from the President of the United States who was then speaking to Christie. Obama told Christie that he had someone who wanted to speak to him and handed the phone to Bruce.  The rest is history. The Boss commented later that the ride with the President on Air Force One was 'pretty cool.'  For a wordsmith like Springsteen that was a  rather large understatement I think. For his part Christie lost no time in announcing at his own press gaggle that he had indeed finally spoken with Bruce Springsteen. All good things do come to those who wait.
Reading that article today made me think that it might be interesting to replace the current Democratic anthem with a new one such as Bruce's rendition of When Saints Go Marching In that appears on his Live in Dublin  album.  The opening line of that old  American spiritual reminds us that "we are all traveling in the footsteps of those who've come before." A very fine answer to the boastful and arrogant  BS of the campaign now fading into the past that "I built that."

More Big Time Politic$ Goes Country

I went down to the local eatery this morning to have breakfast and schmooze with some of my neighbors and on the way stopped at the post office and picked up my mail. Among the offerings in my box was a really nasty personal and anonymous attack piece that has to take some kind of award for dirty personalized and corrupt political offerings mailed at the last moment in the hope that it will turn the election at a time when it is too late for anyone to counter lies and half truths contained in it. I have previously written about the expensive multi color brochure that they mailed to the voters of this district. This district has when I last checked two weeks ago 1219 registered voters. You can read my rant here.
As is true of many political pieces it urged the recipient to vote and even begged the recipient to “PLEASE VOTE” in upper case bolded font. It then offered a ballot. A fake ballot which listed only one candidate: Chay Peterson in a bolded font next to an unchecked box. Below that there was another box checked in red ink and associated with the legend “ANYBODY ELSE”. Keep in mind that there are four other names on the real ballot
To the left of the fake ballot was a list of six grievances expressed by the unnamed coward who mailed this piece of crap. All of which offenses had been going on according to the cowardly author “for years” claiming that not Chay but “obstructive organizations” again in bolded font “have controlled the canyon voice” as though this so-called canyon voice was the voice of god herself and then listed the grievances/accomplishments of those 'obstructive organizations' and faulted them for many things. For not adding one square foot of parkland 'for our future.' Talk about meaningless buzz words. It accused those same unidentified organizations of closing our local school--even though that school the last time I checked had been closed by the local school board (if by local you mean downtown) and claimed in conclusionary language that those organizations were obstructing 'community collaboration' and that they depressed home values by 'fighting reasonable and responsible use of privately held properties.' As though voicing and working against fake wineries, weekend wedding chapels along Santiago Canyon road and the coming to town of monasteries and private schools to educate the rich and powerful along with the concomitant overburdening of our existing infrastructure somehow made my residence and those of my neighbors less valuable. They claim those organizations have polarized the community. Well if the cowardly author looked around him he would find polarization has become a way of life in this community, this county, this state and this Nation. Polarization was not invented by those shadowy 'obstructive organizations' he claims exist in this community. Our cowardly author claims that the same groups have destroyed relationships with unspecified governmental agencies in characteristically unspecified ways. Again with no facts alleged and certainly none proven.
The kicker in this fetid piece of political malarkey as Joe Biden would call it was in the penultimate complaint that they “have disrespected our elected officials.” Oh boy! Since when has it been disrespectful to tell the truth or the perceived truth about someone elected to public office? Since when is political criticism un-American? Since when is it sinful politically to call out an elected official who is corrupt or the tool of special interests? Or simply terminally stupid. So based on this nonsense, malarkey and political BS the unnamed and cowardly author of this hit piece urges its recipients to vote for “anybody else” anyone but Chay Peterson.
Everyone in this Nation is entitled to speak his or her mind, to hold and to express his or her opinion well taken and well reasoned or not but in my view if you want to express an opinion you should have the cojones to stand up in the light of day and sign your name to it. Own it people, own it.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

GOP Rape Classifications

There has been a lot of talk recently by GOPers about the various types of rape and rape victims and the wisdom (from a man's point of view) of a woman's right to make choices about her own body and what she will allow in it. I wonder what will happen to the christianist GOPers if they ever discover "god" is not a male. GOPers are so incensed over this issue that they have thought of all sorts of ways to intimidate women into forgoing  the exercise of  this basic liberty issue such as invasive medical tests administered not to make sure procedures are safe but rather to prevent a woman from exercising that prerogative. I am speaking of course about 'small government' GOPers pushing rape by transvaginal ultra sound wand proposed by the likes of Bob McDonnell the current governor of Virginia and by various other GOPer candidates for high office throughout the land.
I came upon this handy dandy graphic  American women can use it  to tell if they have been actually raped when they discover that they are pregnant at the insistence of a rapist.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Death of the California Grizzly.

There used to be a critter in California called the California Grizzly Bear known by it's scientific name of Ursa Horribilis and sometimes Ursus Arctos Horribilis. It is a sub species of the California brown bear or Ursus Arctos. This magnificent critter can now be seen prominently displayed on the California state flag. Cal Government Code section 425 declares it to be the official state animal. Yes we pay our legislators to do this kind of stuff. It is after all easier than balancing the state's budget or even running around talking about traditional values and sounding extremely foolish to anyone who will listen. It has now been classified as extinct in California although members of its species still can still be found in other portions of North America.
In its heyday it was very common and was at the top of the food chain until the white man came to California in the late 18th century. European immigrants have proved very dangerous to native peoples and critters. For some 'mysterious' reason the population of Grizzlies as they were called dropped as the population of California increased. I won't speculate on the reasons therefor. They were hunted for all sorts of reasons, the least of which was for food. The meat of this critter was tough and gamy and not much desired by good white folks. The native peoples of California (who are close to extinction themselves) didn't hunt them and lived in harmony with them. Even the Spaniards captured the native peoples, christianized them and made them live adjacent to the California missions that were strung up and down the coast of California. The caucasian immigrants in search of gold and other riches didn't believe in living harmoniously with anything. We see that today in the nativist movement that has given rise to such abominations as restrictions applied to undocumented 'aliens' as though they aren't people entitled to the blessings that California has given all of us. This is evident when one considers the fact those 'illegal aliens' as they are so derisively called have lived along the pacific coast of north and central America for thousands of years and were essentially a migratory people.
Well about ten days ago some fraternal group arrived in my hometown and erected a monument. I cant really tell what the monument is to. The text on it is somewhat unclear. It could be to honor the damn bear or the guy who organized the lynch mob who chased down Orange County's last grizzly and killed it here in the Santa Ana Mountains somewhere near what is today Trabuco Canyon. It could also be to honor themselves. I doubt that we will ever know.
Ed Atkinson was a minor county official, the county game warden in the early years of the 20th century, I have no idea what his real duties as such an officer were (or even if he really existed) but he is memorialized in this monument entitled Death of the California Grizzly. According to the history recounted on the monument there was a grizzly bear wandering the Santa Ana Mountains and interfering with commercial bee hives. Now Ed in addition to holding his political office was also an apiarist or beekeeper. Ed obviously felt threatened by the alleged honey comb thief and organized what can only be described as a lynch mob to bring to justice this errant bear who after all was just trying to earn a meager living in these coastal desert mountains. I mean who can blame the bear. Why chase down a squirrel for dinner when it's easier to raid a bee hive? People do it all the time. Instead of cooking we opt for fast food at a hamburger handout. Anyhow Warden Ed summoned his mounted posse and went hunting for the grizzly. Eventually the dogs hit on its scent and gave chase and to make a long story short they cornered it and some one (or more) of the posse/lynch mob members shot the thing to death. As luck would have it the bear turned out to be an elderly female bereft of mate and cubs just trying to survive.
There is a lesson to be learned from this. I will let the reader mull over the story and apply it themselves.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Chicken Hawks of the World Arise.

I was reading today that the wife of Myth Romney went on one of the 'women's shows' this morning to explain why neither her husband nor any of her five sons ever served in the US Military. Apparently during the Viet Nam war in the late 60s and early 70s he avoided/evaded military service by going on a mission for his church and 'served' as Mrs. Romney calls it as far away from the action in Viet Nam as he possibly could get. He spent his tour of duty living in an old mansion with servants that would later become the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates and bicycling around Paris in his black slacks white shirt and black tie buttonholing all who couldn't run away fast enough with tales of  Joseph Smith, golden tablets found in up state New York and of his god who lives with his unnamed and uncounted goddess wives on Star Base Kolob located at the very center of the universe.
It's rather ironic that Myth chose a place to do missionary work that has one of the world's most vital and vibrant wine industries and where almost everyone enjoys the occasional glass of wine the great gift of the Christian god. Being that kind of missionary in that place must have been a hard sell for the young job killer to be.
I was simply flabbergasted by Mrs. Romney's observation that Paris in the 70s was 'just like Viet Nam." I honestly didn't know that Paris was carpet bombed and the great parks of Paris were doused in Agent Orange and that the Seine harbored nests of viet cong that had to be rooted out  by young scared Americans such as Myth and his fellow elders and that so many of Myth's confreres on the mission returned with missing limbs or in body bags. It is amazing what you can learn from people of upstanding life qualities such as wealthy chicken hawks and their obedient spouses if you just watch daytime television.
But if Myth is elected president he will be following in the footsteps of other great chicken hawks such as Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld and of course who can forget G. W. Bush who spent his war years  protecting coastal Texas and Alabama from  aerial invasion by the viet cong and   in his spare time running  a US senatorial campaign in Alabama, at least when he wasn't busy powdering his nose.
It really is too bad that the King of Sweden doesn't award a Nobel for Unbelievable and Undeserved  Arrogance. The Romneys would be hands down winners. They could easily deposit the prize in one of their nearby Swiss bank accounts.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

My Cat Is More Than Just My Roommate.

My cat is more than just my roommate and friend (on occasions selected by him). He demands (and receives) a full body massage before he eats. It started out as something neo-natal. He was a cute cuddly ginger kitty about five weeks of age when he moved in. He was very small and hardly weaned and hadn't many opportunities to collect a lot of baggage so it was a relatively painless and straight forward transfer of residence. What I didn't realize at the time was that this was also a transfer of power. Anyhow I let him out of his carrier and he staggered around and got his bearings. Next I showed him where his bathroom was. He looked at it, sniffed it and pissed in it. That was pretty much it for his formal education. Because he was so young and even tiny it seemed to me, when I fed him I would stroke his back, shoulders, hips and legs. So I suppose he thinks the massage is an indispensable and unexcusable part of the dining experience and that imprinted somewhere in his kitty brain is the idea that a pre-comidal massage is just in the 'nature of things.' It has always been and so it shall be. Remember the transfer of power idea? Well he's now a little over 3 and his demands have increased. He now requires that same massage before snacks and even when he's simply thirsty and just wants a drink. He comes and gets me and informs me by whatever means are required that he needs me in the kitchen so that I may do right by him before he eats, snacks or drinks So far in our three year relationship he has come to respect me and my needs at least when I sleep because he  hasn't yet demanded that I get my sleepy self out of my nice warm comfy bed to give him a massage before he has a midnight snack.
He has a whole number of favorite things. One is a green knitted stuffed thing that sort of looks like the outline of a cat. He drags that all over the place and plays with it everywhere. The other day I was preparing to go out and I laid my clothes out on the bed and when I returned from the shower to get dressed I noticed the green knitted cat-like favorite toy had been placed smack dab on top of my neatly arranged wardrobe. It was as though he was offering to let me play with it. He also is wingnut crazy for green vegetables like spinach. The other day I was preparing to make a spinach-based recipe when he bounded onto the counter and began to pull at one of the leaves. I pulled out a nice broad leaf from the bunch and gave it to him. He looked. He sniffed. He kicked it off the counter onto the floor and proceeded to treat it like was a hockey puck. He was blissfully happy for a few minutes until the leaf died of abuse. He does that every time I bring out spinach. Some other plants he absolutely detests like air plants. A friend gave me a Tilandsia and my cat would not rest until he had completely destroyed the poor thing. I even hid it from him several times but he searched it out and found it. It also eventually died of abuse. He is a very curious cat and loves to watch me cook. He doesn't kipe food he just watches me cut and chop and mix and spice. He's fascinated by prep work. I am somewhat perplexed by this because his own dietary preferences run to a common dry food made according to an 'indoor cat formula'. He has only eaten chicken twice in his life and only then with great trepidation and much sniffing.
He is less messy than I. And he isn't inclined to host loud parties Thanks to the miracles of modern veterinary medicine he also has no interest in breeding and is only mildly interested when he detects the presence of loud horny females of his species. His interest in them runs more toward removing them from his realm and lands, by force if necessary than in achieving some transient sexual conquest. He is definitely a peculiar cat. His name is Rupert L. Gato, at least that's what it says on his birth certificate and voter registration card.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

America 'Pulls Out' of Iraq!

While drinking my second cup of coffee this morning a dear friend sent me the link about the “pull-out” of US military forces in Iraq. It is a lengthy bit of double entendre but it certainly has more than a ring of truth to it. Think Germany and Korea and Japan and Turkey and various other places we have 'pulled out' of since 1945.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Big Time Politic$ Goes Country.

As at least some of my readers know I live in a small town. Our only form of locally elected government is the board of directors of the Silverado-Modjeska Recreation and Parks District This agency is governed by a five-member board of directors. I know several people who have served on the board of that agency over my life in this town. Everyone of them will tell you that being on its governing board is not only a thankless job but also a pain in the ass one as well. All of the board members put in an incredible amount of work doing their job. The district is also served by many volunteers as well. It has a small budget and only one or two full time employees. It is run on a shoestring. Very few people have ever served more than a single term of office and many have only served part of one term. The district is small and only 1219 registered voters live in the district. It owns two parks and runs an after school daycare center for the children of working parents in the district. the day care center called the Children's Center is housed on the campus of the now closed Silverado School. It also provides hikes and nature walks and other interesting things here on the western slopes of the Santa Ana Mountains, including the annual Country Fair in October and other cherished community based events during the year. This year's fair was the 43rd annual event. You can see what else the district does here.
This year there are two seats up for election and five candidates for those two seats. The winners of this year's contest will join three other members who were recently appointed to their positions by the term-limited incumbent 3rd District county supervisor. One candidate is our volunteer fire department's station captain who doesn't seem to be doing any campaigning at all. He seems to be taking a “well I'm here and if you want to vote for me fine, if not fine too” kind of campaign. Very traditional in this community. The other four candidates seem to be running on two different two person slates. One slate has handmade yard signs as its campaign mainstay, also very traditional in this community. The other slate has professionally done yard signs and fancy holders for them. On Saturday I went down to the post office and found a multi-colored professionally printed slick-papered brochure urging the second slate's election. This mailer is something you would expect to see in a big city election or even a campaign for the state legislature or congress. Design, printing and mailing costs for that mailer for distribution to 1219 voters must be in the thousands of dollars perhaps even as much as ten thousand dollars. That campaign is very un-traditional. This is the first time in my memory that I have seen that level of campaigning for local office. It makes me wonder, really wonder, why anyone would spend that kind of money to have themselves elected to such a pain in the ass job. I really do smell the sweet odor of the beginnings of corruption at work.
Guess who I am going to vote for.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Fresh Crock of Shit Brought to You by the California Legislature.

      Today's mail brought me a bill and a bit of a shock. It was not an ordinary bill but it was a bill for services to be rendered in the future by the Department of Forestry to protect its lands and lands owned by the State of California from the ravages of wild fires. The Legislature in its wisdom has created a fund called the State Responsibility Fire Area Prevention Fund (SRFAP) this fund is fed by this new fee which is called the Fire Prevention Fee (FPF).
It is an annual fee in an amount not to exceed $150. This year the FPF is $115 with a credit of $35 showing on the invoice. There is no explanation of the whys and wherefores of either this credit or what these future services are going to be. It just tells me that it is being levied “on behalf of California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE). It is to be collected annually by the State Board of Equalization. I have thirty days to pay this fee or I will be charged interest in the amount 0.5% per month which works out to 6% per year. The authority to levy this fee is contained in the California Public Resources Code (PRC). Under the PRC sections that authorize and discuss this fee and the purposes for which it may be expended I discovered that this fee isn't levied on every owner of land within the “state responsibility areas” such as The Irvine Company or any commercial development but only on the owners of 'structures which the Code defines as 'suitable for habitation.' In other other words homes. Commercial structures such as stores, restaurants and the like are exempted from this fee as are the activities of large corporate landowners.
      The uses to which this money are put is most interesting. First of all I find out that this isn't a fee for fire suppression or fighting wild fires. It is for educational purposes such as for education about defensive perimeters around our homes, spark arresters on our chimneys, brush clearance and the like. It is to protect areas that are open space such as the lands of The Irvine Company. It excludes lands that do not have habitable dwellings on them, such as restaurants, wineries, wedding chapels, gun ranges, horse stables and the like. It ignores real causes of fires such as illegal campfires in the National Forest, wayward cigarette butts disposed of carelessly by people addicted to tobacco, sparks from recreational vehicles taken up into the national forests in California and the like. Not one dime of the funds collected is going to be used for fire suppression or for fire fighting, not one dime! Fire Prevention programs in my community are undertaken and funded by the Orange County Fire Authority and by our own citizens who belong to our beloved volunteer fire departments. These currently non-existent programs to be undertaken by Cal Fire would be a duplication of those efforts that have been ongoing for the forty years I have lived here. The idea is that our homes will benefit from this duplication and the underlying assumption is that our homes cause these fires even though in my particular community there has never been a fire in the SRAs that has had a genesis in buildings 'suitable for human habitation.' The last fire in this area that affected SRAs was sourced from a home (which was not inhabited but rather was under construction) in the summer of 1975 and was caused by an errant workman on the construction site. There have been however fires originating in SRAs and in the National Forest that impacted our canyon homes. Such as the fire of October 2007 that caused the evacuation of our homes for almost three weeks, not the other way around. We are not the cause of the problem and we should not be made to pay for duplicative programs to protect our homes from fires originating elsewhere.
      This is simply another idea whose time will never come designed to take matters out of the annual state budget so that the Legislature doesn't have to bite the bullet and raise taxes to cover its favored  line items in the budget. It is part of the mantra in the politics of our times that if you call it a fee it isn't a tax. That, dear readers, is simply horse feathers.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Discussions Missing from the Domestic Policy Segment of the Presidential Debate.

One of my major complaints about the now over and done with first presidential debate has to do with the artificial demarcation of issues presented to the candidates by the moderator Jim Lehrer. As we all know now this debate was limited to domestic policy. Which was fine had it embraced the entire universe of domestic policy. But it did not and noticeably absent was any discussion of liberty issues. There are several liberty issues that could have been discussed and debated (and which each of the candidates has discussed in their respective campaigns for office) but which Lehrer exhibited no interest in dealing with in the debate. Among those liberty issues not dealt were a woman's right to choose and to control her own body, the efficacy of medical marijuana, the War on Drugs itself, DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act), the repeal of the noxious DADT (Don't Ask Don't Tell) law that prevented gay and lesbian people from openly serving their country in the US military and of course the current big civil rights issue, Marriage Equality.
Myth Romney is a supporter of the semi-proposed amendment to our Constitution that would forever define marriage as between one man and one woman (at least at one time) in the belief that it is the traditional definition of that institution. Even though that is neither factually nor historically correct. He shares this view with President George W Bush. President Barack Obama does not share that view and has announced his support for Marriage Equality. That difference is the beginning of a big and very important debate. Myth in order to keep the wingnut apparent-majority in today's GOP reasonably satisfied with him as he now tries to move toward the center of the political spectrum has embraced the support of those people for this amendment.
Even a cursory examination of American Constitutional History shows that there are three types of Amendments to our Constitution. Those three types are the Structural Amendments, the Liberty Amendments, and the Anti-liberty Amendment.
Structural Amendments are those which affect the structure of the government created by our Constitution. They are the the Tenth Amendment, the Eleventh Amendment, the Twelfth Amendment, the Sixteenth Amendment, part of the Seventeenth Amendment, the Twenty-second Amendment, the Twenty-fifth Amendment, and the Twenty-seventh Amendment.
The Liberty Amendments are those which honor the promise of the Jeffersonian obligation and promise trumpeted in the Declaration of Independence to maximize the liberties and equality under the law of the people and designed to further the purpose of our Constitution expressed in the Preamble to “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” Those Amendments are the First Amendment, the Second Amendment, the Third Amendment, the Fourth Amendment, the Fifth Amendment, the Sixth Amendment, the Seventh Amendment, the Eighth Amendment, the Ninth Amendment, the Thirteenth Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, the Fifteenth Amendment, part of the Seventeenth Amendment, the Nineteenth Amendment, the Twenty-first Amendment, the Twenty-third Amendment, the Twenty-fourth Amendment, and the Twenty-sixth Amendment.
There was only one Anti-Liberty Amendment to our Constitution. It was Sixteenth Amendment enacted in 1913 to turn America into a dry nation and which began the First War on Drugs, Prohibition. America came to its senses in 1933 when the Twenty-first Amendment repealed the Sixteenth and sort of ended the First War on Drugs.
Now people of the ilk of Myth Romney want again to limit the liberties of the American people by preventing certain disfavored groups of them from entering into legally recognized free associations that form the basic building blocks of our society and that are guaranteed by the First Amendment and I believe by the Ninth Amendment and to freeze into our Constitution discrimination of a very basic kind. This is a very fundamental issue of our politics and our liberties. Why was it not discussed in the presidential debate before the estimated fifty-eight million Americans who watched that debate and wanted a thorough discussion of American values and domestic policy?

Romney to take on Obama on foreign policy.

This morning that venerable old dish rag the Los Angeles Times reports that Myth Romney is planning an attack on the Obama foreign policy in a speech he is going to give today to a captive audience at Virginia Military Institute. you can read the LA Times article here.This is the guy who journeys to the UK and beyond mostly to cheer on his hobby horse in the 2012 Olympics and promptly steps on his own dick and insults the Brits over how they were running the Games. This is the guy who at the end of his infamous Shiftless Moocher 47% Speech to his fellow plutocrats observed that he didn't believe peace in the middle east between the Israelis and the Palestinians was possible and that we need to just sit back in our poolside lounge chairs sipping our decaffeinated diet cokes  and wait and see what happens and then added that he had been talking to an unnamed former Secretary of State who informed him of his errors in thinking on that subject and then noted that he 'didn't want to delve into that' issue. He's complaining that the reputation of the US has declined under President Obama and that despite the fact that Obama killed Osama that the power and influence of Al Qaeda is growing and the native peoples of the middle east don't like us very much. This is a man who has now decided he is sort of proud of Romneycare but wants to 'repeal and replace' the national  model Obamacare with an undisclosed something or other.
Myth apparently has no intellectual curiosity about anything except perhaps making megabucks. I wonder if he has ever even considered why it is that the people of the Middle East and beyond don't like us very much.  Could it be the two wars on them  we have waged over the last almost 12 years--the longest wars in our history? Could it be because our multi-national corporations are ravaging and pillaging the resources of that part of the world (in addition to our own) in the  name of unrestrained capitalistic greed? Does he think that he can do any better?  How does he expect to do that? Hire Dick Cheney and the other neocons like Donald Rumsfeld for more 'shock and awe" so his SecDef can bleat to the world that US is not in the business of  'counting dead [Iranians]' as Rumsfeld said about dead Iraqis or whomever else he decides to bomb into nothingness? So that he can preside over a foreign policy that maximizes greed and profit and reduce the world and its people to something more like present-day Mars?  Myth Romney is nonsensical and he is a savant who only knows how to make obscene amounts of money on the backs of people just getting by.