Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The trap that Democratic Presidents get drawn into

It is a historic trajedy that Democratic Presidents often get drawn into conflicts or convinced that they must further prosecute wars rather than rising to the call to be peacemakers! That is the condundrum that the Obama Administration seems to find themselves in when it comes to Afghanistan. They say they are taking a comprehensive and thorough review of what we are engaged in, yet immediately declare that withdrawal is not an option. That is a disengenious act and belies that the review is anything but complete and thorough! Is it the timidity, you can insert gutless, that conventional wisdom says we Democrats have to saber rattle, expand a futile war, and prove we are strong on Defense and Security?

Kennedy followed through on the Eisenhower/CIA plan for the Bay of Pigs, Johnson escalated the war in Vietnam to the end of his presidency, now Obama seems on the edge of a pathway bound to lead him into the quicksand of Afghanistan.

What would I suggest. Three things that are common sense. End all preferred no bid contracts to the FOC [Friends of Cheney] that are still being paid to the tune of Billions being poured down a rat hole! These bids should be offered worldwide as nations are more likely to send troops where they also have an economic interest. Solicit military support from Islamic countries such as Indonesia, and others. If tomorrow so to speak the troops assisting in stabilizing a country bowed to Mecca five times a day; an entire layer of christian/islamic conflict would be diminished. This would improve Iraq, and possibly Afghanistan. Lastly admit that this quicksand that helped topple the former USSR, was a thorn in the side of the British Raj, and is historically a no win area of the world, is not a place to kill young men and women, either American or Afghani!

Counter insurgency didn't work in Belfast where you had streets and a partially sympathetic population; and it definitely won't work where you have isolated canyons, mountains, and valleys and a non supportive population. They may fit on a timeline as primitive in their lifestyle and technology. But they sure can use RPG's, Stingers, and the all too effective AK-47's with deadly accuracy. The President of Afghanistan, who is really no more than the Mayor of Kabul, is a weak and ineffective ally with a percieved record of corruption and a possibly stolen election!

The time to get out is now and it can be orderly but not escalated. When President Clinton was involved with Kosovo, Serbia and Croatia the military actions were studied, deliberative and they ended. Of course he had General Wesley Clark, which may be another missing factor.
At the end of the Day, Obama must end this folly in Afghanistan before we prepare ourselves to welcome a new President in 2012!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Quick Note Re: Obama Speech...

As most of y'all know by now, last night President Obama addressed a joint session of Congress regarding health care reform. Personally, I thought it was an excellent speech. I didn't agree with everything in it -- mainly the requirement to carry health insurance. I understand the sentiment, but requirements such as this usually bring fines and the fines I've heard discussed seem pretty hefty and outside the budget of the average American. Also, my friend Eric brings up an excellent point regarding Obama comparing health care insurance to auto insurance. And while I'm more for single-payer or universal health care, making sure there is at least a government-run public option for those who cannot afford private insurance or whose jobs do not (or cannot) provide it is a step in the right direction. I just hope that it's only a first step and not a plateau. I also hope the passed bill takes into account those who are under-insured due to hefty deductibles. Any bill without at least a public option is laughable (co-ops would be a total joke, as would placing a trigger).

However, I do have a major concern: that Obama will not be able to get Congress to do the work it needs to do in order for the bill to be passed. I've never thought it would ever be a truly bi-partisan bill - the Republican Party in its current form is too busy flying off the crazy cliff. But even with a Democratic majority in the House and Senate, there are conservative Democrats who seem determined to tag along with the GOP in their mid-air flight. That could very well sink the bill.

Plus I'm still leery after Obama's refusal to at least place a moratorium on Don't Ask Don't Tell until a full repeal can be implemented. I understand that health care is near and dear to the president's heart whereas ensuring equal rights for all American soldiers doesn't seem to be. I also understand that equal access to quality health care affects far many more people than ensuring that qualified members of the military continue to serve their country. I just feel that there has been a precedent in the Obama's presidency that makes me leery. Because of this, I still have reservations.

I hope that my reservations are unfounded.

P.S. Re: the Joe Wilson kerfluffle - those who say the Democrats did it first may be referring to the moans which Democratic lawmakers uttered during Bush's 2005 State of the Union address in which he spoke about Social Security. Moaning and muttering "No" is not the same as calling Obama a liar when he is, in fact, telling the truth.

(Crossposted from just an ordinary goddess...)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

the roar of the lion...

...has been silenced.

Last night, Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy died at the age of 77, after a year long battle with brain cancer.

I found out when my boyfriend called me last night just as I was starting to drift into sleep. I fired up Twitter on my cell phone to see what others had tweeted and found only one news report, then realized it was much later Points East of Los Angeles. This morning I listened to President Obama's words on Kennedy as I readied myself for work.

There will be much written about him today. No matter how much is written, it could never do justice to the Lion of the Senate. Some have said that, while he was never their senator, they felt that he was America's Senator. This is a sentiment I wholeheartedly agree with.

My heart goes out to his family and friends in their grieving. But I also find that I'm grieving for myself and for the United States. Being human, he wasn't a perfect man, but he was one of the best and brightest of us and his loss will be felt keenly. Especially at a time when he is needed most. May someone of his strength, courage and convictions stand up to take his torch. Let the roar of the lion be heard again.

Requiescat in pace, Senator Kennedy.
You will sorely be missed.
Requiescat in pace, Senator Kennedy. You will sorely be missed.

(Crossposted from just an ordinary goddess...)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Matter of two waivers

Back when the California State Assembly and then State Senate passed AB-32, co-authored by then Assemblywoman Fran Pavley, and Speaker Fabian Nunez; California set what is an International Standard for standards for cleaning our air and stronger emissions standards. We had to wait almost six years until a new Administration and EPA would grant the federal waiver to allow stiffer state pollution standards then the federal recognized standards. This waiver was sought year after year from the Bush White House; and we only now can go forward on these key standards for a cleaner standard and to fight Global Warming.

We now face an equally strong campaign to pass federal Health Care reforms that must have a public option. More importantly for those of us who are committed to a Single Payer system; we must have a waiver allowing states to enact more comprehensive health care beyond that which we sadly can pass through congress currently. What many of us fear is that with the cooperation of Big Pharma and a coalition of Hospitals to support the Obama Health Care proposals; we may get some sort of public option that is tied to existing insurance and without a waiver for us to pass the Leno Bill for Single Payer in California.

The Conyers bill in the House currently allows for a limited waiver for enumerated states, and we face a potential conflict between the Senate Finance Bill and the H.E.L.P. bill of Senator Kennedy's in the US Senate. At the end of the day we must have a waiver in the law that allows for California to go forward. That is for now the story of two waivers.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

POTUS is not timid on Iran. Obama is intelligently supportive of the Iranian people. Freedom is a right!

In Eire [Ireland] we have a term "Soirse" which is Freedom in Irish! Interestingly the color wrist ban is also green as is the color of the Iranian movement within Iran for a resolution to the recent election results.

Our President has been accused by some conservative republicans of being timid about Iran. That is blatantly short sighted. In this case, our President is being intelligently supportive of the Iranian people and their desire for political & social freedom. This does not mean a western democratic solution necessarily; it means an Iranian solution to an Iranian problem. We must not continue our intervention in the affairs of a nation that goes all the way back to ancient persia. Don't forget that it was the US who helped topple a legally elected government to put the Shah on a repressive, but western friendly Peacock Throne!

The US record of subversion, intervention, and corporate "gun boat diplomacy" mars a century of intrusive actions in both Central and South America as well as in post colonial Africa and Asia!

The successful movements for a new governance by mediation and support of local solutions for local problems can be otherwise highlighted as in Post Apartheid South Africa, and the continuing progress in a six counties Post Good Friday agreement in what is sometimes called Northern Ireland.

The US must now be a honest broker, not a force of Bush-Cheney war mongering and initimidation by threat of force. We must stand for our better selfs and be an onlooker promoting self determination not Western style Democracy without any recognition of the wishes of the local people in a country.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

First Step for Full Federal LGBTQ Equal Rights

During his presidential campaign, Barack Obama said that he supported the complete repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and called for the repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT).

Since becoming president, Obama and his administration has, for the most part, been curiously silent on the subject, saying little more than, "These things take time." A recent legal brief from this administration's Department of Justice has merely fueled the fire of those criticizing Obama's inaction on LGBT issues, especially since the Senior Legal Counsel on the brief received a Distinguished Service Award from Alberto Gonzalez for his work on the constitutional challenges to the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003.

Today Obama signed a presidential memo granting same-sex partners of federal employees some federal benefits. Unfortunately, this memo does not go so far as to grant health or retirement benefits.

Critics of Obama's LGBTQ inaction are likening it to a token thrown at the LGBTQ community, saying,"Tokens are not enough."

These critics are correct. Tokens are not enough. While there is no way of knowing for certain, it is very likely that Obama would not have signed the memo had it not been for the recent outcry against his DOJ or the constant pressure from LGBTQ groups and individuals.

However, we also have to recognize that this is a positive first step towards full Federal rights for LGBTQ people. There is still a long way to go and a hell of lot of work to do. It's unfortunate that Obama needs to be pushed to keep his campaign promises. Yes, he has a lot on his plate trying to fix the extraordinary mess left behind by Bush and Friends. But a simple executive order placing a moratorium on DADT until a full repeal can be implemented would go a long way towards showing that he really is a staunch advocate of full equality.

Still, we must keep the pressure up. Equality is a matter of time - there is no turning back. Obama will see that as well.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Consistency is troubling when it is contradicted

President Barack Obama, under growing criticism for not seeking to end the ban on openly gay men and women in the military, is extending benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.

This AP story was posted earlier today and it does highlight the inconsistency of a White House who has backed away from ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". Worse is the Justice Department defending DOMA, The Defense of Marriage Act!

We must have a consistent moral position on a human rights question that candidate Obama was clear on; but his White House is not! We will have to see if our friends in the LGBT community are supported or betrayed in the give and take within the beltway?

Thursday, June 04, 2009

It's time to play hardball with an out of touch governor

We are facing budgetary hearings and negotiations in Sacramento and the elected Democratic Majority needs to express the true hardline positions of those they represent.

Let's dispose of one media lie at first. The defeat of a second set of Governor pushed initiatives in a second Special Election does not mean the further dismantling of the excellent state services we have built here in California. It means a reasonable, thoughtful analysis of majority passed fees, and looking to the boondoggle of FOA [Friends of Arnold] revenue refunds, returns and failing to impose fair taxation on Corporations and the extremely well conpensated. The burden can no longer be shunted to bonds and future liabilities, and also not laid on the backs of the middle class and working families and single adults.

Not only should these legally passed fees that can be sent to the governor with a legislative majority vote be sent; and when he vetoes any then he should be unmasked as the obstructionist that he has always been. The Governor may have a blue pencil; but the legislature has the budget proposal authority. Our Governor thought he could be mean spirited and in the most egregious partisan act cut the Lt. Governor's budget by 64%. Let's cut his budget by an equivalent amount. He is not accomplishing anything now. He wants to take the authority of the State Land's Commission to approve or deny applications for off shore oil drilling away from them. Why, because our wilted and false "green" Governor and his minions want to approve offshore drilling in Santa Barbara, would have approved offshore LNG terminals for Malibu, Santa Monica and the Northern California coast! The only thing that has stopped this is the courage and responsible votes of our Lt. Governor John Garamendi and our State Controller John Chiang who now hold the majority on that same State Land's Commission.

Lastly, when our State Board of Equalization Democratic member, Judy Chu, becomes our newest California Congresswoman; no Gubernatorial appointee that is not acceptable to the Democratic majority should be confirmed. The Governor must not be allowed to subvert the will of the voter by hoisting a non-elected Republican into that office!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

very sad...

Like most people, I was very sad to hear about the cold-blooded murder of Dr. George Tiller on Sunday when he was at church. He performed the procedures many doctors were afraid to do - late-term abortions that were deemed medically necessary to save the life of the mothers or where doctors had confirmed that the fetus would not live outside the womb. Dr. Tiller had been shot before, had many death threats and was forced to wear a bullet-proof vest on a regular basis, but he refused to give into the fear that gripped so many of his colleagues because, as he reportedly told a woman recently, he feared that the women he helped would have no place else to turn.

Candlelight vigils are still being held all over the country, but as Gloria Feldt wrote in Salon, George Tiller needs more than candlelight vigils. As always, write and lobby your representatives. Donate in Dr. Tiller's name to Planned Parenthood and to the women's health clinics in your area. Make your voice heard.

(Janiece at Hot Chicks Dig Smart Men and Mike at Man About Murfreesboro each have excellent posts regarding this tragedy and the cowardice of the anti-abortion faction. Go there.)


A little something about my own views on abortion: I am of the opinion that they should be safe, legal and rare. I've always known that it was something I could never personally go through, but I am of the firm belief that women should have that choice. The women I've known that have had abortions never considered it a decision made lightly and I respect their decisions.

Of the people I've known that are anti-abortion, only one could be considered pro-life in the true sense of the term: Michelle is a pacifist who is against abortion and the death penalty. Unlike so many anti-abortion people who mistakenly call themselves "pro-life," she actually believes that every child that is born should be provided for and not left to fend for himself/herself in dangerous home situations. She doesn't self-identify as Christian, but she embodies the teachings of Jesus far more completely than any religious anti-abortion nut protesting outside women's health clinics. I highly respect that.

As for my thoughts on late-term abortion, I sincerely hope that they would never be necessary, but I understand that in some cases they may be. It's truly sad that women in need have lost one of their champions - one of the few doctors left that they could turn to.

My thoughts go out to Dr. Tiller's family, to all the women that he helped and to all the women he could've helped.

(Crossposted from just an ordinary goddess...)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Equality should have no limits - freedom is freedom

Everyone is talking about the mixed ruling of the California Supreme Court in regards Proposition 8! Now we have a trifurcated system of injustice. If you are a straight couple; you are allowed to marry; a same sex couple you can no longer; and if you were fortunate to marry as a same sex couple in that brief window then your marriage is legal!

I'm sorry that is ludicrous to the extreme. Everyone must have marriage equality, and no one's marriage is threatened by the loving relationship of another couple. To have three standards is offensive and law by misjudgement of the electorate and we must all stand in solidarity to correct this situation by returning to EQUALITY!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Gov. Rick Perry: Texas Could Secede, Leave Union

Let's say for a moment that Governor Perry is basing his comment on the fact that Texas like California both entered the union as former Independent Republics, The Lone Star and Bear Flag, and so can petition to leave. If one can step back and look at the possible benefits of trading one bit of land for another; let's presuppose the following!

Texas petitions and secedes while having to negotiate a percapita payment of their share of the now Bushed enhanced National Debt! We, the remaining United States, gain a large pay back over time

of a significant part of that debt. We have a vacant star on our fifty state flag; why not invite Puerto Rico to become a state. No change in flag required. We now have two tourist island states of Hawaii and Puerto Rico. We can move Gitmo, the Marine Base, from Cuba to Puerto Rico and still have a caribbean base with all that expense now added to our new states income.

It does have some attractive possibilities.

Thom O'Shaughnessy, California
About Tax Day Tea Parties
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Tearing away the mountains, and Clint Eastwood too

While there’s a lot not to like about the process of mining coal, and I’ll try to give it some historical context in an least a couple of postings, there is no doubt that currently the most destructive, ecologically, geologically and culturally is mountaintopping. You can get a basic idea of the destruction by following the link to an NPR article and photo essay below.

Replace Appalachian Mountains with Santa Monica Mountains while you look at it.

If you think something like that can’t happen in California, it already has. Fortunately it ended before most of us were born, but the scars still remain. The ‘49er with his pick and red long johns is something of a romantic figure, but he quickly gave way to American industrial ingenuity. First, streams in the northern Sierra Nevada were redirected so the streambeds could be dug up and loaded into sluice boxes that washed everything downstream except the heavy gold that settled to the bottom. Mining on that scale required capital investment and as the streams played out and the quantity of gold available declined sluicing wasn’t profitable enough. Things needed to scale up. So hydraulic mining started. Enormous water cannons were constructed, capable of blasting water 400 feet or more at high enough pressure to eat through a mountainside. There’s are historic pictures of the process at this link.

And this site has a basic overview of the process and the devastation to agriculture downstream that finally ended it.
Make sure you click on the link for the Malakoff Diggins. That’s the landscape after over 100 years of recovery.

Finally, I remembered that Clint Eastwood’s 1985 Western “Pale Rider” had scenes of hydraulic mining with the hydraulic miners as the villains. Wonder if that particular plotting had anything to do with Eastwood being a native of northern California?

Friday, March 27, 2009

I knew King Coal

As did many Americans my age or older, I had a personal relationship with coal. In 1951, the year before I was born, coal peaked as the primary energy source for homes and businesses. Over 50% used coal for either boilers or forced air heat. The elementary schools I attended had coal-fired boilers for heat, and many of my friends lived in houses with coal furnaces. Until I entered junior high, so did I.

By the time I graduated from high school in 1970, the use of coal for heating homes and businesses had fallen to single digits. It’s used in less than two-tenths of a percent of homes today, but making a bit of a comeback as oil prices rise.

Living with a coal furnace required more than a turn of a thermostat to keep things warm in the winter. Although modernized in several ways, it was still an physically interactive experience.

Rather than throwing shovels of coal into the fiery maw of a furnace, coal was shoveled into a hopper box a few feet away. At the bottom of the hopper was an auger, a screw-like mechanism turned by an electric motor to grind the coal into smaller, more efficiently burnable pieces and move them into the fire box. The most sophisticated systems had sensors that fed as needed, others required a human to start and stop the motor.

At some point it became my daily chore in winter to check the hopper before going to school and when I got home and top it off if it needed more coal to keep the fire burning. Depending on what was available and the quality we could afford it might be hard, glittering, black anthracite I shoveled, soft, layered, dark bituminous or crumbly, dull, brown lignite. The harder and blacker the coal the longer and hotter it burned because it higher carbon and lower water content so the fewer shovelfuls had to be loaded into the hopper. So instead of ten minutes of indentured servitude loading lignite or lower grade bituminous I could be done in 5 with anthracite.

It also became my chore to clear the burnt cinder or clinkers from the clinker box under the furnace. I had a long handled iron rod with a 90 degree bend at the end that I used to coax the still warm clinkers into a bucket, then I’d have to drag the bucket out of the basement and dump it on the clinker pile in the back yard. If it was cold and we were burning lots of coal, I’d have to make more than one trip. Every spring my Dad would have to figure out what to do with the clinker pile. I’m not sure where it got rid of it.

On a massive scale, the generation of electricity and manufacturing have to deal with the same issues we dealt with in the basement of my house. The coal is poured into a hopper and ground, often into a fine dust for more even burning. After the energy is extracted in burning, there is slag. And after a while your backyard pile gets too big and you have to do something with it. But before we get to that part, I’m going to spend some time looking at how coal gets out of the ground.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Not the battle they want to fight

This afternoon I received an e-mail blast forwarding a press release from Speaker Nancy Pelosi from Burns Strider, who I worked with briefly when I was organizing veterans for Hillary Clinton. It announced that the Obama administration was not going to proceed with the proposal to force veterans with combat-related injuries to use their private insurance for treatment. You can read the full news release with this link:

Burns has worked for Speaker Peolsi as a Senior Advisor in the past, but I'm not sure what his current official relationship is now that he has his own firm.

The fact that I received the e-mail means that the opposition from veterans and their families from one end of the political spectrum to the other was loud enough and fierce enough that they're going way down the food chain to let anyone with any veteran contacts know that they made a mistake and they'll find another way to save money.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

That wasn't what you told us when we signed up

During the 2008 election I was honored to serve as one of the two California Co-Chairs for Veterans for Obama. I believed then and I believe now that Barack Obama was and is the best choice to be President and Commander-in-Chief. But I am deeply disturbed at the recently announced policy proposal to have treatment for service-connected injuries charged to veterans' private insurance plans in order to save the VA money.

Not only does this break covenant between the country and those who offered their lives in service, but it puts at risk the insurability of veterans with service connected injuries and their families. Even if the injuries are excluded as pre-existing conditions, long term treatment of serious injuries would exhaust annual and even lifetime benefit limits on nearly all private policies.

If the injuries are service connected it is not the responsibility of the former service members, their families, their employers and their insurance companies to provide treatment. It is the responsibility of the people and their government who sent them into harm’s way.

Monday, March 16, 2009

And after the coal is burned you have...sludge

I'm going to spend some time later writing about the impact of coal mining and use on local eco-systems, but this wire service report encapsulates what happens with the stuff that doesn't go up the chimney.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

It's just a lump of coal

The last couple of weeks I’ve found myself thinking about coal. What started it was the case from West Virginia before the U.S. Supreme Court. Two West Virginia coal companies were suing each other and when the Massey Coal CEO thought he was about to lose, he set about to buy a West Virginia Supreme Court judge to make sure he won. The question before the U.S. Supreme Court is whether he bought him legally.

That reminded me that Massey Coal is one of the most notorious mountain top removers in the Appalachians. And all that thinking got me to doing some research. The more I read the more intrigued I became. Coal was central to American industrialization, labor history, transportation development, and urbanization. It is inextricably linked to the culture of rural Appalachia and over a billion tons a year continues to be mined in the United States. But the cost, both to produce it and to the environment continues to rise. There’s a lot of thinking to be done about coal, and I’ll be sharing some of my thoughts with you over the next few weeks.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

China's arrogance and the use of the seven seas

In the crowding of the USNS Impeccable by Chinese Trawlers and Naval vessels; one is reminded of both the USS Liberty and it's sister ship the USS Pueblo. It is actually more reminiscent of the Liberty, which was in International Waters when fired upon, and US Sailers murdered by the Israeli Air Force immediately before the six days war.

"China's territorial claims are sharpened still more by Beijing's interpretation of the
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. China sees the convention as giving it the right to ban a broad range of activities within its exclusive economic zone. That grates against the U.S. position that the Navy ships were in international waters and therefore have the right to conduct surveying."

Please tell me what economic interest is being curtailed by a US Naval ship which is unarmed and listening in open and free waters to military transmissions by a growing military threat of the Chinese Navy. This is a violation of centuries of naval tradition and international law. We must not allow this super power to become the largest pirate nation in the world.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Don't do as we do; do as we say!

Let's take a step back and look at nuclear nonproliferation as it appears to a large part of the rest of the world. We don't want Iran, North Korea or have a missed a country or two; to have tactical or strategic weapons of mass destruction. So how have we treated the new additions to the Nuclear Club in the past decades.

Let's see. Pakistan was never a close ally until they got the bomb. India was throughout the Cold War a client state of the USSR even though they were a parliamentary democracy. Israel, who everyone knows, got the bomb by the backdoor from us; is never officially recognized as a member of the club.

Now India and Pakistan are allies, in the case of India, a corporate client state for outsourcing; and they are being promoted into the World Trade circles along with other world decision making bodies.

Why in God's green earth wouldn't any nation want a bit of Uranium, Plutonium, and a breeder reactor if it gets you an invite to the table where world class showdown diplomatic poker is being dealt.

We have to actually mean what we say by doing it as well. We have to demonstrate, as the nation with the biggest cache of sub launched, plane dropped and missile delivered bombs as well as MRV
warheads, a true commitment to non proliferation and reduction of weapons. We also have to stop any foolishness as the former administration did in claiming we needed a nuclear bunker busting weapon. How many damn bunkers are we planning to bust that we need a new weapon system. We already have multiple Armageddon ready numbers to end life on this planet.

Has anyone looked at the Nuclear Clock lately to see how we are doing? No Nuke, now more so than ever before.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Senator Judd Gregg would have been a mixed blessing

Today the news that Republican US Senator Judd Gregg has reconsidered and has withdrawn as President Obama's nominee for Secretary of Commerce was met with mixed emotions. Many of us are heaving a sigh of relief as this man as US Senator had proposed that the Department of Commerce be abolished, and had also voted to cut the Census budget in half.
It would have been placing a wolf, rather than a sheep dog, to protect the flocks of the Commerce Department.

What is it that so concerns Republicans about the US Census, required every decade by the US Constitution, and a process that has been in place since our nation was founded. That is sadly simple. Reapportionment, also called redistricting or Gerrymandering depending on who is drawing the lines; is based on the results of the Census. If you look closely at drawing state and congressional district lines; they are based on census tracts. Census tracts are the component of zip codes, and the lowest common denominator for data which identifies ones, race, sex, family status among many census indicators. Democrats want a more fully patterned model of counting that will eliminate the under counting of racial minorities, the homeless, and of course those displaced due to poverty. Republicans want a strict count by mail and household sampling as it supports a literal census
which encompasses under counting. This under counting not only effects the political redrawing of lines; but more importantly the count that determines funds to assist in social programs to cities, counties and states.

Here is my fondest hope that in looking to a new appointee; the White House not only finds a knowledgeable and
proficient executive; but also someone who understands the impact of a thorough and accurate census. I will end this with the admission as a strong supporter of New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson; that his exoneration from any shadow of improper actions may still allow him to be a strong, knowledgeable, and able member of the Obama-Biden administration.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Tech Savvy White House

On today's yahoo tech page it was reported that the tech savvy staff of President Obama were dismayed at the old versions of both software and computer equipment in this age of facebook, twitter, and my space along with youtube! I would comment that this may not be the case going forward.

Web savvy government can be accomplished. California has good web openness, and this is due to caring and tech sharp elected officials like our Secretary of State, Deborah Bowen. Granted the extra security of federal regulations may cause certain extra levels of security; but you can still establish approved links. Messages and updates can be cleared and a more open posting will insure substance to the new administrations dictates on a more open process for FOIA [Freedom of Information Act]. White House Communications, pronounced WHOCA, can be tasked to do that within secure guidelines.

National Security Concerns along with the White House Counsel's concerns can be part of a more open and technologically accessed government. It seems POTUS can be given a special General Dynamics hand held PDA, that has been approved by the NSA; that has dual functions that both allow open access by President Obama, and also cyber protected secure communications. Then the West Wing can be upgraded and enter the 21st Century with this new vital administration.

I personally look forward to hearing of the next upgrade in communications that we will see in the people's White House.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Is this the Promised Land?

As I thought about Dr. King yesterday and watched today’s inauguration, I started wondering: with the inauguration of Barak Obama, have we at last crossed the River Jordan and reached the Promised Land that Dr. King told us he’d seen from the mountain top the night before he was killed?

I’m sure I don’t know. But then I had another question. What if we act like we have?

Reaching the Promised Land does not mean that our work is done, it only means the journey is over. We sometimes forget that only the land is promised. The milk and honey and sweet fruits come only after long days of labor. And it can all recede in the distance again if work isn’t done. And done again.

“We are likely to preserve the liberty we have obtained only by unremitting labors and perils." --Thomas Jefferson, 1796

Thursday, January 08, 2009

How to help finance the Obama Economic Package

This morning President-Elect Obama spoke on his proposed economic stimulus package and the changes that must begin in Washington to address this national crisis.  It appears to be a 800 billion package with a possible 300 billion tax cut directed to small business and the middle class!  The deficit for the coming budget year is looking to be 1.2 trillion as a point of departure.  This package is proposed to create 3 million jobs in the coming years.

One area that is obvious is the timely extrication of our troops from Iraq!  The green zone is now protected by the new Iraqi army.  If our troops are going to be off the street, and barracked to some extent; let's bring numbers of them home soon if not immediately.  We should see tens of thousands return to the United States.  This is both a wise fiscal decision, and a moral imperative!  Cut our financial hemorrhaging by decreasing our occupation of Iraq as promised!

Lastly, since these infrastructure projects are meant to improve roads, bridges, and other construction and refurbishment; let's get money to the states to restart stalled projects already on the street.  One good example is the construction at Hollywood Way and the 134 freeway that is closed down due to California comparable financial crisis.  This is a visual I see everyday in my hometown of Burbank, California.