Thursday, November 27, 2008

Homeless Count Up This Thanksgiving

I slept late this AM. After being woken up by the kids near the 5:00 AM hour, I managed to turn back for a good bit, only waking at near 9 AM. If you know our house, that constitutes fully sleeping in.

This means that my Annual Thanksgiving, pre-gorging run started late. I thought that, perchance, this might change the validity of my annual count of number of homeless folk I see along the same route each year for the past few. Earlier in the AM you see people waking from the daze of the early dew. At near 9:30, most folks are wide awake and looking for action.

As I got into the main part of the run, the count was low. I started thinking that perhaps we would notice an improvement over the numbers from past years. About 2/3rds into the run, mainly through the park and past some of the bigger encampments, I was still only at 21. As I emerged from the East end of the park and back on to the city streets, the numbers ratcheted up like the balloons in the Macy's Day parade. There were a patch of nearly 20 homeless gathered. The upside, I saw at two people in red sweatshirts passing out food to a number of them. No reason to go hungry on Thanksgiving, I suppose.

As I strode east back toward my home the numbers flicked upward. Total count - at least 60. This is up from all years prior. I didn't notice any one drinking that early in the AM, as in years past, but I did notice human feces along the trail - how do I know you ask? Dogs don't use toilet paper.

In sum, it seems that the city has done a good job "cleaning up" the park, but that has only served to shuffle the problem out of the public park and on to city streets. The reason why the tally sits at 60 is that I had a hard time counting all the people in the first clump out of the park. I know there were more, but my run led me away.

As you plow through your second helping of turkey, think of those less fortunate. Usually the annual thanksgiving post is not political, but I have to note - if it weren't for Ronald Reagan closing most, if not all, the publicly funded mental health facilities, there might be less homelessness and safer places for many of the mentally disturbed individuals rather than fending for themselves on the urban streets of America. As for those who are large fans of Reagan and wondered what the effect of what he did, you needn't look to far into the homeless ranks to see the evidence.

Indeed, the proof is in the pudding.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Good News For A Change

Of course, the reichwing nutballs are going to be screaming "activist judge, activist judge," but what's the very definition of an activist judge really? A judge that sides with the constitution and against ridiculous bias and discrimination? Pretty much.
A judge on Tuesday ruled that a strict Florida law that blocks gay people from adopting children is unconstitutional, declaring there was no legal or scientific reason for sexual orientation alone to prohibit anyone from adopting.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman said the 31-year-old law violates equal protection rights for the children and their prospective gay parents, rejecting the state's arguments that there is "a supposed dark cloud hovering over homes of homosexuals and their children."

She noted that gay people are allowed to be foster parents in Florida. "There is no rational basis to prohibit gay parents from adopting," she wrote in a 53-page ruling.

Florida is the only state with an outright ban on gay adoption. Arkansas voters last month approved a measure similar to a law in Utah that bans any unmarried straight or gay couples from adopting or fostering children. Mississippi bans gay couples, but not single gays, from adopting.

The ruling means that Martin Gill, 47, and his male partner can adopt two brothers, ages 4 and 8, whom he has cared for as foster children since December 2004.

"I've never seen myself as less than anybody else," Gill said. "We're very grateful. Today, I've cried the first tears of joy in my life."
I've said this numerous times before, but if we are really interested in protecting children, we should be in favor of not allowing parents who smoke or who are obese to keep their children. There are scientific studies conducted that link those behaviors and conditions with a high probability of replication in children with such parents.

Contrarily, there is no basis for concluding that two men or two women in loving long standing monogamous relationships adds any dysfunction to the mix for their children. None. It's time to close to book on this hate filled legislation across the USA, and let's toss out Prop 8 style measure out the window as well. This would cement the family unit in a very powerful way. Allowing such parents to marry would legitimize the whole family.

One final note: if you are one of the remaining few who retain your discriminatory bias suggesting that gays should not marry, then by all means, don't marry some one of the same gender. Don't stop others in love from enjoying the same privileges you entertain. Certainly the health and legal viability of their families stand in the balance.

Still Waiting For My Sliver From The Bail Out

This just in:
Federal officials today announced $800 billion in new actions to try to ease the financial crisis, including a $200-billion program to help loosen lending to consumers for auto purchases, student loans and credit cards -- the government's first major venture into a vast sector of the lending world.
Well, so what? Do I want the ability to borrow more money? No thank you.

Where are they getting all the money to do this? Seems like a tax poised to roll for our grandchildren when the balance comes due. I thought the Republican party was the party of no new taxes and smaller government. What happened?

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Dominos Start To Fall

I've been saying this for a great long time, but the Gitmo situation may actually result in the necessary release of some potentially dangerous people, leaving us taxpayers on the hook for the indiscretions of the W, Rove and Co.
A federal judge ruled here for the first time Thursday that the Bush administration had no basis for holding several of its long-term prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and he ordered that five of the Algerian natives go free.
It's only a matter of time before these people and their fancy lawyers sue the pants off the W, Rove and Co, and we the American People will be forced to cover the damages allocated because we let them get away with it.
"For seven years, the Bush administration sought to avoid the courts because it had no evidence and sought instead to create a lawless prison," said Vincent Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. "We must note that justice here, however, comes seven years too late."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Here's An Alternative To Buying Yourself A Gift This Holiday Season

This is just one way to actually do good instead of indulging your inner headonist this Holiday Season. There are many more - local, state, national, and international - causes worth contributing to as opposed to feeding the massive consumer machine that has served as the rotting foundation of George Bush's Economy.

Any other good ideas on where to spend cash you may have on hand instead of buying extravagant gifts for yourself or loved ones? Post away.

Where's The Bail Out For Education?

Seven Hundred billion dollars here. Twenty-Five billion maybe there? The question for the day is how much would it cost just to bring the crumbling buildings that we warehouse our children in public schools across America back up to spec and high quality safety standards? That's minimally the number we would need to bail out our public schools pre-k-Universities (already on 10-15 years of deferred maintenance). Where's the bail out for public schools in America?

Oh, wait, we squandered that last month in the new social welfare state we call Iraq. I don't mean to make light of a serious situation, but really, the for profit industry has some answering to do before they get "bailed out," if ever. Education does not operate well on the for-profit model, mainly because it's not scalable. The more students we teach at one time the more expensive it is. It doesn't get cheaper to provide high quality education to more students like it does when you aggregate risk and bundle your assets to be sold to some one willing to assume it (or if you build more cars in bigger factories).

Education is in much more dire need for a real cash infusion, but we are so used to threadbare operating budgets, that it has become commonplace and has been the longstanding status quo. When the economic crisis finally culminates in the murdering of our public schools, the tab is going to blow away those being requested by companies that actually don't deserve the bail out and should fall on their own swords.

How many small start ups are getting rescued here? Most of the people gainfully employed in America are employed in small businesses, not those asking for more corporate welfare. Our value system is totally twisted (why else would we pay baseball players more money to swing a bat than we do the teachers who taught them how to read). How do we rectify that?

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Message From Bolt Hall Re: Prop H8

got this from a friend at Cal Berkeley:

November 13, 2008

Dear Boalt Hall Students, Faculty, and Staff:

Last Tuesday, America witnessed a change many believed would never come. But even with cheering crowds, joyful tears and the thrill of progress felt all across the state and country, the night was bittersweet. Some of us had our hopes validated by Senator Obamas rise to President-elect, but crushed by the passage of Proposition 8. We do not want to discourage elation over the Presidential election, but we hope to remind our Boalt community that on November 4, 2008, Californians elected Barack Obama and voted to take rights from your fellow students. Our state is now among the 30 that have altered their constitutions to ban same-sex couples from marrying.

Much has been said about the possible reasons behind Prop 8s passage, including the notion that voters of color pushed the proposition to victory. We, the queer community at Boalt and our straight allies, reject this oversimplified and faulty analysis. We will not join in fragmenting our diverse community, nor isolate ourselves from the larger community whose support we must have in the fight for equality.

We are heartbroken and angered by the attack on our dignity, our families, and our civil rights. After a night of monumental progress, we were reminded that the promise of equal rights in America will remain unfulfilled so long as hateful, discriminatory laws remain the status quo. This is not a question of religion or race, nor sex or sexuality. In some ways, its not even about marriageits about equal rights and full humanity. And, in the spirit of solidarity with all groups, we recognize that it is also about a chilling legal and social precedent: constitutional amendments that destroy established rights and uphold bigotry.

Today, we reach out to you, our community. We ask that regardless of your background or identity, you recognize that Prop 8 is unacceptable and wrong, and it must be repealed. We then ask you to get involved in this civil rights movement. Talk to your family and friends. Talk to us, to each other. E-mail us to join our listserve set up for organizing on this issue to be kept abreast of new developments and ways you can take action: queercaucusorganizing@gmail. com.

To you who are leaders of campus student groups: help us build bridges. To you in the Administration: support our efforts with your institutional weight. We are lawyers and future lawyers, this is our system, and we each have a tangible role now in making sure it is a system that advances equal rights for all.

As President-elect Obama said, our stories are singular but our destinies are shared.

In solidarity,

Boalt Hall Queer Caucus a community of queers and allies

If you are an ally in this movement, please join our Google group created to do organizing on LGBT issues: queercaucusorganizing@gmail. com

Attend upcoming events and sign the marriage equality petition sponsored by Equality California:

o Events:
Saturday, November 15, 10:30 a.m.: nationwide protest at city halls around the country. Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco will have protests at their city halls. Go to: http://jointheimpact.wetpaint. com/?t=anon.

Equality California lists all events here: cd/month.asp?c=kuLRJ9MRKrH&b= 4028667.

o Petition:

Equality California has a marriage equality petition: ka/ct/contactus.asp?c= kuLRJ9MRKrH&b=4742747&en= 9rKQLZPvEfKOKQODIhJGKXPKJoKTI3 MJJeKPL6MPJrI5.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The First 100 Days: Hype or The Stuff Of Legends?

This is an interesting chart. Have a gander and let us know if you think the first 100 days are all hype of a new president or the stuff legends are made out of.

Blog on friends, blog on all.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Prop H8 = Bigotry in Sheep's Clothing

Correct me if I'm wrong, but Keith seems to get a bit weepy here, no?

I flashed back to the Buddy Holly Tune...
"Well, I wonder wonder wonder, hoop badoo a hoop, who wrote the book of love..."

Really there is no argument that justifies the passing of Prop H8. Simply because a majority thinks it's right doesn't make it so. That's what the Constitution should protect us from - misguided and bigoted thinking.

I still think the Constitution is on our side here and it's only a matter of time before the Supreme Court weighs in on this and decides it once and for all, that you can marry one person of whomever you love, no matter the gendered identification one affixes to themselves. Genitalia has got nothing to do with why I wanted to get married to my spouse, and it should be of no concern to you as to what we do together as long as it's consenting. You cannot legislate morality, particularly if it's bigotry in sheep's clothing.

Monday, November 10, 2008

An Interesting Take On Prop H8

Found this in the LA Times today
Why does it matter whether gay couples remain married in a post-Proposition 8 world? One answer has to do with the dignity and stature that marriage confers. Even if marriage provides no greater rights than domestic partnership, a separate-but-equal regime unavoidably signals that same-sex relationships are of lesser worth.

Another answer has to do with the future of gay marriage writ large. Gay marriage is in the cross-hairs of a culture war, and culture wars, both sides know, are won through symbols, examples and personal experiences that shape one's worldview.

Each of the 18,000 same-sex couples and their families in California represents a potential catalyst for broader acceptance of gay marriage. The more familiar we become with gay spouses and their children -- as our friends, neighbors and co-workers -- the more gay marriage will become an unremarkable thread of our social fabric. Proposition 8 may then come to be viewed, in the long run, not as an enduring constitutional principle but as the will of a narrow and ultimately temporary majority.
If your son were gay, would you not like him to marry the man he loves? The Yes on H8 crowd seems to think that being gay is something one does voluntarily. It's a fact of nature, and should not be denied, but embraced as a part of humanity. The tyrany of the slim majority led us to this very wrongheaded and bigoted piece of "legislation." It needs to be erased as the "will of the people" has been wrong in the past, and is wrong today on 8.

On The Economy George Bush Built

This is just a small slice of some interesting reading regarding the critical situation the W, Rove and Co. has placed Obama in. Of course, their hope is that Obama has to tighten the belts so much that they find it easy to win the Whitehouse back. Trouble is, it's worse than one can imaging, and putting our children into hock for our transgressions is wholly irresponsible
Borrowing money has a flip side, however. When you can't make your car payments, you learn that the bank really does own your car and will come take it away. When you borrow money from Guido for a "sure fire" business idea, you learn that Guido isn't such a nice guy if it doesn't work out. While equity investors can lose their investments, borrowers can potentially lose everything. When President Bush borrows $5 trillion dollars from other countries to run the government, he's really borrowing from future tax payers - making it seem like we aren't paying taxes, when we are really paying more taxes than we should, because he is borrowing irresponsibly. This is how Republicans make it look like everything is rosy on their watch, so they can hand enormous amounts of debt to the next administration, whose job it is to tighten belts and reduce spending until the borrowing is back under control.

Republicans do this because voters can see stock market indices much more clearly than they can see national debt figures. This is called paying your Visa bill with your MasterCharge, also known as Reaganomics. As Tom Friedman writes in the New York Times:

Never has one generation spent so much of its children’s wealth in such a short period of time with so little to show for it as in the Bush years.
If you click on over, be sure to read "Godzilla's Tail."

Blog on friends, blog on all.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Bigotry Has No Place In The Constitution

It's hard to believe that so many bigots live in California. Perhaps not. My thinking is that many people were tricked into voting yes for Proposition 8 because those who paid for advertisements were both lying and playing to people's fears in order to secure votes. It's the typical reichwing approach that should be abolished in America as a tactic that foments fear over love and hate over hope.

The upside is that those in favor of allowing two people to marry regardless of their sexual orientation have legal teams assembled. I do believe the US Constitution is on our side here, and with OBAMA HEADED FOR THE WHITEHOUSE (I am still flummoxed that I can type that), we may have some seriously great judges who don't operate from a place of bigotry when it comes to making serious judicial decisions about such cases.

I got this in an email from a friend of the No On 8 movement:
Today, as the ballot counting for Proposition 8 in California continues, Lambda Legal, along with the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the ACLU, filed a petition in the California Supreme Court on behalf of Equality California and six same-sex couples urging the court to invalidate Prop 8 if it passes. The petition charges that Prop 8 is invalid because the initiative process was improperly used in an attempt to undo the constitution' s core commitment to equality for everyone by eliminating a fundamental right from just one group — lesbian and gay Californians. Prop 8 also improperly attempts to prevent the courts from exercising their essential constitutional role of protecting the equal protection rights of minorities. Whatever the outcome of the election or the lawsuit, we and the California Attorney General agree that existing California marriages are valid, and Lambda Legal will work in the courts to protect these marriages if they are attacked.
It's unfortunate that it has come to this. It's going to be one of the acid tests of our Constitution and the judicial process to prevent the tyranny of the masses from violating fundamental rights promised us by our ancestors - you remember, "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness..." - which was the forerunner to the Constitution.

It's not just parchment. I would include the freedom to marry the person you love regardless of sexual orientation as one of those "unalienable Rights." Much like black individuals being counted as 2/3rds a citizen was struck down oh, so long ago. Bigotry has no place in any State or the US Constitution.

Really, if you don't believe in Gay Marriage, don't marry some one of the same gender. I have still not ever seen a legitimate argument that explains how heterosexual marriage is harmed if John and David or Sally and Jennifer, who have been together for the last 18 years, get married to cement their relationship.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Difference Between Patriotism and Hypocrisy

It's obvious that the GOP strategy to win elections is to foment hatred. Hence the malaise they painted across the ACORN concern. Of course, this is not acceptable. In fact, ACORN has accomplished some very good things. The trouble for the GOP is that they don't like the idea that new voters won't vote for them.

Much like the wacky notion that judges who ajudicate cases and make decisions against the interest of the GOP partisans, the GOP tries to pain them as "activist." No, they are not activists, but making high quality decision. Simply because people don't agree with them doesn't make them activists. Simply because ACORN is registering people who will likely vote against the GOP doesn't mean they are bad for America.
Why has ACORN suddenly become such a rallying cry for Republicans? The ultimate answer, of course, is to win the election. Partisan forces are unsettled by the large numbers of new voters ACORN is bringing into the system. Such rhetoric also seems to divert attention from one of the most unpatriotic activities we can imagine -- activities designed to suppress turnout through illegal purges of voter rolls, intimidation of voters at polling places, voter caging and similar tactics.

The highly charged rhetoric has had consequences. A torrent of hate mail and phone calls have poured into our offices, including death threats against our staff. Our Boston and Seattle offices were broken into last week.

The citizens ACORN has helped register this year are very real. Many of them will be coming out to vote today and in future elections. Far from being a threat, our work to encourage participation in democracy is deeply necessary for the reweaving of the fabric of our democracy. These voters should be welcomed to our democracy.

It's Not Too Late To Change Your Mind As To Who The Real Elitist Is

The reichwing fear-mongers have been furiously attempting to paint Obama as an "elitist," but if you look at the two candidates "celebration" receptions, it's clear.

Barak Obama is holding his in a public park, making room for large numbers of real people.
There's no telling how many people will show up, but given the historic nature of the event I'd say 2.5 million -- about twice the number that police estimate pack Grant Park for the annual fireworks display -- isn't an unreasonable guess.
McSame is having his at the Biltmore - with room for only a small number of his "supporters."
Senator John McCain has opted for the tried and true for his election night party: the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa, a semi-secluded, exquisitely manicured spot that is to Phoenix what the Waldorf-Astoria is to New York.
Which one is elitist?

Monday, November 03, 2008

Hope Starts In Your Neighborhood

Found this article at the Christian Science Monitor. It's not long, so I cut the whole thing. Rifle through it and see what you think. My thought was that hope starts in your neighborhood, and if yours is without, perhaps you should think about Obama as a the only candidate who can bring it. With 8 years of Bush/Cheney, it's doubtful that the tenor of America will change with McSame/Palin at the tiller "with a steady hand."
Charlotte, N.C. – There has been a lot of speculation that Barack Obama might win the election due to his better "ground game" and superior campaign organization.

I had the chance to view that organization up close this month when I canvassed for him. I'm not sure I learned much about his chances, but I learned a lot about myself and about this election.

Let me make it clear: I'm pretty conservative. I grew up in the suburbs. I voted for George H.W. Bush twice, and his son once. I was disappointed when Bill Clinton won, and disappointed he couldn't run again.

I encouraged my son to join the military. I was proud of him in Afghanistan, and happy when he came home, and angry when he was recalled because of the invasion of Iraq. I'm white, 55, I live in the South and I'm definitely going to get a bigger tax bill if Obama wins.

I am the dreaded swing voter.

So you can imagine my surprise when my wife suggested we spend a Saturday morning canvassing for Obama. I have never canvassed for any candidate. But I did, of course, what most middle-aged married men do: what I was told.

At the Obama headquarters, we stood in a group to receive our instructions. I wasn't the oldest, but close, and the youngest was maybe in high school. I watched a campaign organizer match up a young black man who looked to be college age with a white guy about my age to canvas together. It should not have been a big thing, but the beauty of the image did not escape me.

Instead of walking the tree-lined streets near our home, my wife and I were instructed to canvass a housing project. A middle-aged white couple with clipboards could not look more out of place in this predominantly black neighborhood.

We knocked on doors and voices from behind carefully locked doors shouted, "Who is it?"

"We're from the Obama campaign," we'd answer. And just like that doors opened and folks with wide smiles came out on the porch to talk.

Grandmothers kept one hand on their grandchildren and made sure they had all the information they needed for their son or daughter to vote for the first time.

Young people came to the door rubbing sleep from their eyes to find out where they could vote early, to make sure their vote got counted.

We knocked on every door we could find and checked off every name on our list. We did our job, but Obama may not have been the one who got the most out of the day's work.

I learned in just those three hours that this election is not about what we think of as the "big things."

It's not about taxes. I'm pretty sure mine are going to go up no matter who is elected.

It's not about foreign policy. I think we'll figure out a way to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan no matter which party controls the White House, mostly because the people who live there don't want us there anymore.

I don't see either of the candidates as having all the answers.

I've learned that this election is about the heart of America. It's about the young people who are losing hope and the old people who have been forgotten. It's about those who have worked all their lives and never fully realized the promise of America, but see that promise for their grandchildren in Barack Obama. The poor see a chance, when they often have few. I saw hope in the eyes and faces in those doorways.

My wife and I went out last weekend to knock on more doors. But this time, not because it was her idea. I don't know what it's going to do for the Obama campaign, but it's doing a lot for me.

Jonathan Curley is a banker. He voted for George H.W. Bush twice and George W. Bush once.

"Draconian Estimates Of Jobs..."

The one problem for the McSame Palin ticket is that the internets never forget:

Well, let's get some clarification about this "draconian estimates of jobs..."

"Take more of those revenues and share them with the state of Florida," sounds like "spreading the wealth" to me.

This doesn't sound like a man who can win on Tuesday, does it?

Liberal Professors: The Null Effect

More proof that leadership by faith over fact is dead as a guiding philosophy for any one:
Three sets of researchers recently concluded that professors have virtually no impact on the political views and ideology of their students.
Why should we care? Well, because a while back the GOP nutballers were all a twitter worried that "college" sullies the political soul. If there is no effect of the political views of faculty on their students, what does that say about the "right"wingers who claim otherwise?