Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Specter: One more Democrat or another "Blue Dog"?

OK, so long-time "moderate" Republican Senator Arlen Specter switched parties. Although he will make all kinds of ideological noises about why he made the move, there's, however, only one reason why he switched: he almost certainly couldn't have gotten the Republican nomination and running as an independent would have been very difficult - mostly because of the dollars it would have cost and the organization he would have had to build from scratch. But I still see it as a mixed bag.

On the positive side it's another blow to the Right-wing Republican (redundant?) ego, especially the day after the news that only 21% of voters are willing to admit they are Republicans. It will move the Democrats closer to the magic 60 votes in the Senate to cut-off filibusters. Specter won't have to compromise his principles to fit in to a reactionary party. He's smart and articulate, characteristics which either party could use at this moment when they're both brain-drained.

But on the negative side, he will probably move the Democratic caucus to the right (not necessarily that extreme a move). What do we need with another "Blue Dog" Democrat? As a Republican, Specter was always a burr under the party saddle, now he's no longer there to irritate them.

All this said, it will make things more interesting and it's distracted the cable news shows from curtain-to-curtain swine flu.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The incredible shrinking party

Recently, on a right-wing website:
Former Senator, TV star and presidential candidate Fred Thompson tells Newsmax that President Barack Obama is revealing his 'naivete, ineptitude and arrogance' as he deals with matters of national security.
I think that says it all about why only 21% of Americans are still willing to identify as Republicans (35% call themselves Democrats and the rest (including the 8% the Republicans lost since October) identify as independents. That's the lowest percent for any party in about 25 years. There was a very interesting discussion of the new numbers for Republicans on the Ed Show on MSNBC tonight. Ed Schultz asks a very important question, If Obama has around 64% approval why not go for single-payer health insurance. Now is the time.

(If you are viewing this on FaceBook, click here to see "Ed Show" video)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

May 4: End the Occupation - Target Motorola

Join us on May 4th, in a day of protest targeting Motorola. We will be working within the system, as our allies support a human rights resolution in the shareholder meeting and through grassroots protest outside of the meeting and across the country.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Pat Robertson gnaws on his anti-gay bone

As always Pat Robertson manages to distort any discussion to gnaw on his ideological bones. His response to last week's Department of Homeland Security (DHS) warning that Obama's election and the latest capitalist crisis (and the concomitant rise in unemployment) are providing extreme right-wing groups with meat for organizing is as usual a distortion of reality:
It shows somebody down in the bowels of that organization is either a convinced left winger or somebody whose sexual orientation is somewhat in question. But it’s that kind of thing, somebody who doesn’t think that we should have abortion on demand, is labeled a terrorist! It’s outrageous!
In addition to being horrified by the deep seated bigotry in this typical comment, I can't help but wonder what "somebody whose sexual orientation is somewhat in question" could possibly mean.

What's most interesting about the conservative response to this DHS report is how they are all distorting the report to make it seem as if it's about them. I guess even they think they are extremists. But I didn't think they would admit it.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Paterson introduces gay marriage bill

From the Human Rights Campaign:
[On Thursday, New York's] Governor David Paterson took a strong stand for equality for lesbian and gay couples and their families by introducing a marriage equality bill in the New York state legislature. This is a critical step to fully recognizing the love of lesbian and gay couples who are in committed relationships all across the state of New York.
According to SFGate:
Newly installed New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan said Wednesday [before Paterson even introduced the bill] that he will use the prominence of his new job to challenge same-sex marriage legislation in New York.
Yahoo! News says:
Gay marriage has broad support in the Democratic-controlled New York lower house, the Assembly, where it passed in a 85 to 61 vote in 2007. It was not put to a vote in the state Senate.
The bill is again expected to be passed in the Assembly. In the Senate Democrats hold a majority for the first time in more than 40 years, but it is slim -- 32 to 30 -- and at least one Democrat has said he opposes the measure.
It continues to be incomprehensible to me, why anyone would deprive people of a basic civil right just because they are lesbian or gay. How long do we have to be slaves to these neanderthal ideologies. I hope this act will strengthen Paterson's election possibilities. Unfortunately it still takes courage for a politician to support gay marriage.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Texas Gov. threatens to secede

Almost as soon as I said that Republicans were behaving like children whose toys had been taken away, the lunatic Governor of Texas yesterday told a right-wing "Don't Mess With Texas" Tea Party:
There's a lot of different scenarios. We've got a great union. There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we're a pretty independent lot to boot.
In other words, if I can't get what want, I'll run away from home. I suppose next he'll want to reinstitute slavery.

We really need a few adult right-wingers. Their current infantile behavior is really foolish.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Republican's infantile behavior

lt seems as if the Republicans are behaving like children whose toys have been taken away and they are jumping up and down and screaming. The real question is: how much of this childish behavior do the rest of us have to tolerate before we say, "Your grounded. Go to bed."

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Poll indicates a lessening of American hostility to socialism

The latest Rassmussen poll (Thursday, April 09, 2009) indicates a lessening of American hostility to socialism
Only 53% of American adults believe capitalism is better than socialism.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 20% disagree and say socialism is better. Twenty-seven percent (27%) are not sure which is better.
Adults under 30 are essentially evenly divided: 37% prefer capitalism, 33% socialism, and 30% are undecided. Thirty-somethings are a bit more supportive of the free-enterprise approach with 49% for capitalism and 26% for socialism. Adults over 40 strongly favor capitalism, and just 13% of those older Americans believe socialism is better.
(for more on this click here)

Where have you gone, Ed Murrow, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you

A March 2nd, Pew Research Center study concluded:
For all of his hopes about bipartisanship, Barack Obama has the most polarized early job approval ratings of any president in the past four decades.
The partisan gap by their measurement has been growing wider as each president has taken office. But they don't seem to focus on what seems to me the real finding of the study: Democrats are far more willing to give a new Republican president a chance than are Republicans supportive of a new Democratic president. Only 27% of Republicans (in the polls) approve of the job Obama is doing and 26% of Republicans supported President Clinton at a similar point in his presidency, while a full 36% of Democrats gave their support to W. Bush, despite one of the most controversial elections in U.S. history. Daddy Bush, in 1989, won approval from 41% of Democrats. 41% of Democrats backed Reagan, 56% of Republicans supported Carter and in 1969, 55% of Democrats approved of the job Nixon was doing. So you can see how much more partisan Republicans are than Democrats in recent post-election periods.

Whet strikes me is the imbalance between the utterly moderate social change that Obama wants to bring about and the out-of-control response of the Republicans. Try this on for size: Rep. Spencer Bachus, an Alabama Republican, told a Birmingham paper that there were 17 socialists in Congress. I don't know if he was holding a piece of paper in his hand at the time. But it is striking that the best the Republicans can do at this moment is to reproduce one of the worst periods in U.S. history - the McCarthy era. What scares me more than the echoes of McCarthyism is the absence of a towering media figure like Edward R. Murrow to challenge these McCarthyites head on. There is no one of Murrow's stature today who would jeopardize his or her career to bring Bachus-like Republicans to heel. Unfortunately, the most visible figures in today's corporate media are handmaidens to wealth and power.

(I should just point out that I realize that Murrow didn't by himself bring down McCarthy. There many brave people who stood up to the prevailing right-wing winds, some of whom went to prison rather than testify before the Senate or House committees. But it often takes someone like Murrow to put the nail in the coffin of injustice.)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Rachel Corrie's mom commemorates her birthday

Rachel Corrie
On March 16, 2003, Rachel Corrie, a peace activist and student was run over and killed by an Israeli catepiller D9 bull dozer. Today her mother sent out this letter:

Dear Dan,

Today would be the 30th birthday of my daughter Rachel, who was run over by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza in 2003 as she tried to save a Palestinian family's home from demolition. Last month, when my husband Craig and I traveled to Gaza with CODEPINK, it was so moving for us to reconnect with the families and the children that Rachel cared so deeply about.

The 793,520 children of Gaza (56% of the population) have lived under occupation and siege all of their lives. They suffered unconscionably through the attacks and devastation inflicted upon them by the Israeli military during 22 days of horror in December and January. Hundreds did not survive. But those who did, still smile and laugh like all children. They are beautiful, resilient, curious and full of potential. They deserve the basics that all children in the world should have: ample food, clean water, healthcare, safe places to play and learn. They deserve the tools to deal with their nightmares, and sleep that is not punctuated by bombing. They deserve life, freedom, and hope.

We can be a part of the hope and the solution by arming ourselves with the experience, knowledge, and insight to be stronger advocates for these children and their families--to open the borders, to end the siege, to end the occupation, and to see justice prevail.

We hope you will join CODEPINK in the campaign to Speak Out for the Youth of Gaza.

In peace,
Cindy Corrie

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Kal Penn goes to the Washington

Last night we watched House and were surprised and saddened (at the time) by the death of a key character Dr. Lawrence Kutner (played by Kal Penn). You may remember Kal Penn as Kumar in Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle (2004) and then Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (2008). Some of us remember him in the wonderful film The Namesake (2006) Now we find out , that Kal Penn is leaving the show House to work in the White House as the associate director in the White House's Office of Public Liaison & Intergovernmental Affairs. He responds to an Entertainment Weekly question :

I understand it was your decision to leave House. True?

KAL PENN: Yes. I was incredibly honored a couple of months ago to get the opportunity to go work in the White House. I got to know the President and some of the staff during the campaign and had expressed interest in working there, so I'm going to be the associate director in the White House office of public liaison. They do outreach with the American public and with different organizations. They're basically the front door of the White House. They take out all of the red tape that falls between the general public and the White House. It's similar to what I was doing on the campaign.

Maybe we'll eventually see Harold and Kumar work in the White House. Till then Go Kal, Go.

Two more victories for marriage equality

(from The Human Rights Campaign)

we celebrate another huge step towards marriage equality not in a matter of months or years, but literally days.

Vermont made history today, as the first state in America to enact marriage equality through legislative process – just FOUR DAYS after another huge win for marriage equality in Iowa.

This is a resounding message about the direction of our country. Not only did the Vermont Legislature vote to support marriage equality, but they did so with a two-thirds majority to override the Governor's veto.

Basic fairness and constitutional equal protection were the linchpins of Friday’s historic Iowa Supreme Court ruling that overturned a 10-year-old ban on same-sex marriage and puts Iowa squarely in the center of the nation’s debate over gay [marriage] rights. (from the DesMoinesRegister.com)

For years I have argued that I don't understand how who else gets married and to whom could possibly affect our marriage. By the way, there are many hetro-sexual marriages that I would rule out, before any gay marriages. But the bottom line is that in a democracy we can't just deprive people of their rights because we want to. If anyone can get married, everyone can get married.I'm much more concerned about women being brutalized within marriage than the gender of the marriage partners.

Rachel Maddow on MSNBC says "we have reporters on the ground in Vermont and the sky has not fallen yet." She also reminds us that the Washington, DC council has voted to recognize gay marriages performed elsewhere.

Monday, April 06, 2009

North Carolina dominates NCAA men's tournament

Michigan St. and North Carolina for all the marbles. I think, unlike me, I'm going with the universal favorite North Carolina. Except the CBS sportscasters both picked Michigan St. Let's see if they own up to it during their half-time chatter. Never once mentioned their pre-game pick.

Michigan State         72  ( Final)

North Carolina         89  

Most points scored in half in tournament history: 55 tonight
Largest half-time lead in tournament history: 21 points 

Ellington (NC) 17 pts. at the half   (19 total) 
Hansborough  (NC) #5 scorer in tournament history 

Ty Lawson 8 steals, ties tournament record, Champonship game record.

Michigan St. 21 turnovers 

Saturday, April 04, 2009

ER ends well

Just for the sake of history, I wanted to note that Thursday's ER finale (9-11PM) got 16.2 million viewers, which was the largest audience for a drama series finale since Murder She Wrote in 1996 (16.5). But when this is compared with  the most-watched television episode in U.S. television history the last M.A.S.H. with over 105 million viewers it doesn't hold a candle. The only current TV series that might garner that many viewers at the end (not upcoming) is The Simpsons.

The Final Four

Well here we go the Final Four. The end of March Madness. The semi-finals start tonight - tip-off at 6:07PM.  Since UConn is the only one of my four favorites (Mich., Pitt., Temple) I am rooting for them tonight. I'm also cheering for Villanova over No. Carolina. Obviously the smart money is on Carolina

UConn -            73
(Jim Calhoun has never lost a Final Four game until tonight 4-1)
Michigan St.-    82  Final
Mich St. beat two #1 teams Louisville last week, UConn tonight

Villanova -           69

No. Carolina -      83   (Final) 

(18 trips to the Final Four)

Monday Night:

Michigan State

North Carolina

Thursday, April 02, 2009

The end of ER and NBC

Well ER just finished after 15 years. It was as good an ending as could be. Some of the veterans were there, a new generation of ER doctors ( Rachel Greene, Mark Greene's daughter) and at the end an explosion brings many new patients to the ER, and life and death go on.

But the end of ER may symbolize the end of NBC as a serious network. They have already announced that they (like Fox, My9 and WB11) are abandoning programing the 10:00 o'clock hour. Five nights of Jay Leno at 10PM is the equivalent of news.

But yesterday they announced the end of serious journalism at NBC by firing the best sportscaster in the business. After 25 years Len Berman and channel 4 are no more and NBC 4 news and I are no more. When the bottom line determines journalistic values that's the end of serious journalism.

Once-upon-a-time NBC was the hallmark of network TV - Hill St. Blues, Cheers, St. Elswhere, Family Ties, The Cosby Show, West Wing and now five nights of Jay Leno. No offense to Leno, but come on that's not prime time network TV, that's protecting your bottom line and the audience be damned.

April 3: Amy Goodman on Bill Moyers Journal

Bill Moyers' Journal
Friday, April 3, 9:00pm
13 (Thirteen/WNET New York)
Former bank regulator William K. Black offers his thoughts on the economic crisis and the bailout of the financial industry.
Also: Amy Goodman ("Democracy Now!") and Glenn Greenwald (Salon) on the big corporate media.