Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Senate Appointments, Like Comedies, Are All In The Timing

Illinois governor Rob Blagoyevich announced today that he would be appointing former Illinois attorney general Roland Burris to the much-coveted senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama. To the complete surprise of absolutely no one, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid immediately issued a statement saying that there is no way that he can allow Burris to be seated. He also pleaded publicly with Blagoyevich not to make the appointment at all, since the embattled Illinois governor has already tainted the process beyond repair.

Reid is in a tough position here. Aside from some fundraising that Burris seems to have done on Blagoyevich's behalf (not illegal or improprietous under normal circumstances), Burris seems to be a pretty straight-up guy. Had this appointment come a month ago, his seating as Obama's replacement would have been a mere formality. But Reid is charged with attempting to uphold at least the appearance of lawfulness and propriety in the Senate (and if you think that job is easy with most of that bunch, think again). There is no way that Reid can seat any appointee that has come out of the tainted office of Rob Blagoyevich, regardless of how badly he wants to. And, believe me, Reid wants to.

If Blagoyevich continues to remain firm in his refusal to leave office and turn the governor's reins over to Lt. Governor Pat Quinn (a Democrat), the vacated senate seat will have to be filled another way, and the only other acceptable way, according to the Illinois state constitution, is by special election. Aside from time and cost, the Democrats do not want a special election over this senate seat. It is almost certain that any Democrat they run will lose in the rushing backwash of Blagoyevich's scandalously inappropriate behavior. As it stands, it looks Al Franken and Norm Coleman will be battling to the wire over the open Minnesota seat, probably ending in a court decision. Currently, Franken leads by a sparse and tenuous 49 votes, but Coleman has challenged everything but Franken's hairstyle in court petitions that have yet to be decided. If Democrats lose that seat, they will most certainly be in a bad place if they lose the Illinois seat as well.

So, Reid is---and for Reid, this is uncharted territory---actually taking a tough stand that is highly uncomfortable and almost a no-win situation. But it really, from a propriety standpoint, the only stand to be taken. Burris might be have been a great candidate---in November, before the storm. Now, though, he's just another mess that Blagoyevich has made for someone else to clean up, at a time when the last thing people need to worry about is this kind of political hat dancing.

You missed your cue, Rod. Your entrance came and went, and the rest of the play went on without you. That's show biz, baby.


Friday, December 26, 2008

Not To Ruin Your Holidays or Anything, But....

... just so you know....

Pakistan is moving troops quite deliberately away from its Afghanistan border toward its border with India. Aside from the fact that we'd been relying on those troops to do our fighting for us against the Taliban and Al Qaida, it is heating up the precarious military situation between two countries---Pakistan and India---where we don't need intricate intelligence reports regarding weapons capabilities.

Both of these countries are absolutely known to have nuclear weapons. Both of them have fairly flimsy centralized governments. And both of them are growing to hate us nearly as much as they hate each other.

Just thought I'd mention it, since things like the holidays, the economy and Reverend Rick Warren seem to be getting more coverage in the news lately.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Gay Marriage: Beside the Point?

I read this interesting op-ed from Huffington Post by Bob Ostertag that made me (as an unmarried woman) look at the issue of Prop. 8, gay rights and Rev. Rick Warren a bit differently.

Perhaps the issue isn't, as Ostertag suggests, that denying gays the right to marry is the source of discrimination. Perhaps imbuing marriage with privileges denied to the unmarried is more the problem. Though clearly it is wrong to deny gays and lesbians the right to marry, maybe what we should also be focusing on is not punishing people for being unmarried at all. It is an interesting way to look at an issue that has become so hot and ideological.

I have not commented on Rick Warren's selection for the inaugural invocation, mostly because, frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn. Yes, he's offensive. Yes, he's an ignorant hater. But he's not moving in to the White House---he's making a fucking speech. I can understand why gays and lesbians feel kind of done in, after the passage of Prop. 8. But this inauguration is a huge deal for me, and I have decided to refuse to let anybody else's experience ruin mine.

I'm so glad I'm going to be in Obama's home state for the swearing-in.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Turning Back the Clock to the Future

Note: I meant to post this a while ago, but got sidetracked. I'm posting it now, not necessarily because it's timely, but because it's new, and the only other thing I have to post about is the "shoe-throwing" incident, which my inner voice is telling me should be edited with tomorrow, after some sleep and a tall, steaming cup of discretion.
So, meanwhile, here's a little tidbit to tide you over. Still relevant, when you consider how much whining Dems are still doing over Obama cabinet picks.
Turning Back the Clock on the Future:

As the days dwindle between now and the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama and Vice-president-elect Joseph Biden, it is beginning to become evident that that "change" stuff that Obama kept talking about is already starting to happen.

As Obama has rolled out department after department, cabinet appointee after cabinet appointee, to a jittery and desperate media and electorate, fears about old familiar faces arise. Members of Clinton's cabinet or White House, members of Bush the First's White House, members of Bush the Second's White House, even....

Obviously, the mainstream media, in its usual stroke of genius and ingenuity (could anyone be duller and less imbued with creativity than a journalist for the Washington Post, the NY Times or the Wall Street Journal? Please), apparently heard the word "change" and thought that meant a Hollywood casting coup. They were expecting positions to be filled by people they could never have thought of. Like, maybe, Brendan Fraser playing the young up-and-comer White House Chief of Staff. Instead, they got... stuffy, old, yesterday's newspaper, Rahm Emanuel. Hey, perhaps Brian Dennehy would have been spiffy as the gruff, yet sensitive ex-Vietnam Vet Secretary of Defense. Instead, the press got stuck with the very unexciting choice of Robert Gates, a Bush cabinet holdover chosen for the sake of diplomatic continuity, rather than TVQ (although, I have to say, the camera loves him). Hey, how about casting Kathy Bates as Attorney General appointee. Oh, wait... Janet Napolitano... close enough.

Barack Obama had to confront this during his press conference to roll out his economic appointments. CNN's Ed Henry had a little emotional breakdown and began spewing questions from every direction. Mostly, though, they boiled down to this: "How can you effect change if you've hired people who've worked in Washington before?" To which Obama replied, in essence, "No matter who works for me, the vision of change comes from... me."

You can't really blame Ed Henry. It's been eight years since we've had a president who has willingly stepped in front of a microphone, short of when the Constitution demanded he do so. And then, he wouldn't take responsibility for anything. This guy, Ed... this new guy, Barack Obama... he's going to make some mistakes. Some little... some big... Maybe even a couple of whoppers (though I'm pretty sure marital infidelity in the Oval Office and starting an unprovoked war in the Middle East won't be among them). But there's every chance in the world that, when he screws up, he's going to take responsibility for it. I think we can stop worrying about Obama's appointments, and turn out attention back to today's economy and today's Constitutional issues, because while Ed Henry is having a mental meltdown, the grown-ups are in the corner, putting their very big brains together and making grown-up decisions.

Everybody really needs to just go take a Valium and wash it down with a martini, then go lie down for a very long nap until this whole transition thing is over. Because frankly, you people are gonna burst a blood vessel before the New Year at this rate.


Monday, December 08, 2008

Can You Hear Me Now?

Saw this ad today by Credo Mobile. Joe Lieberman's official Senate head shot beside the lead slogan, "Switching is easy," is only the beginning. Credo's small-print copy states that their company is known for "reliable services and reliable values." The bolding and underlining is theirs, not mine. The ad concludes with the not-so-subtle tag line, "We've been a loyal supporter of progressive causes since 1985."

I had to look twice to make sure I was actually seeing what I thought I was---an ad for a cellphone carrier that carried a definitive political message---and not one tempered by a PR company to be neutral.

So, just who is Credo Mobile, anyway? According to its online mission statement, in 1985, Credo CEO Laura Sher, repelled by the excesses of the 80s, founded a long-distance company called Working Assets, which along with providing customers with their long-distance telephone service, donated 1% of the profits to progressive causes. That company evolved into Credo, which offers fairly reasonably priced cellphone plans with the same 1% donation policy. Sher explains her decision to found first Working Assets, then Credo Mobile:
"It was the greed-is-good 1980s. Gordon Gekko, and all that... A lot of my friends got out of college and headed straight for Wall Street. But I wanted something different---or rather I wanted to make a difference."
Sher points out in the company FAQ that choosing a cellphone company for its political leanings isn't so far-fetched. I was deeply disturbed last year when it was pointed out that my own beloved Verizon is a major contributor to only conservative causes and, this year, made the largest contribution legally possible for John McCain and Sarah Palin during the past election. That's our money they're taking and, according to Verizon's official 2007 report to stockholders on political contributions, contributing to Republican causes and candidates,like our favorite crazy congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who received $1,000 from Verizon, and the recently re-elected Memphis Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, whose Wedge PAC received $2,500. In 2006, Blackburn was smacked several times on ethical and legal issues with regard to the shifting of monies between Wedge and Blackburn's own campaign fund.

Credo offers several enticements to drop your current service and use theirs. They offer to pay up to $200 toward "early termination fees," the fee that carriers charge for you if you want out of your contract before it's up. And their prices are quite competitive. They offer PDA and Smart Phone technology, Web access, and have a few decent phones to choose from. Coverage is a bit spotty in certain areas at the moment, at least in my area, but seems to be better in the eastern part of the country, though I entered a friend's address in Ohio, and got a patchwork of pale green (fair coverage) to dark green (strong coverage) in her neck of the woods, too. Hey, my guys may bleed Republican Red, but I can get a strong signal practically everywhere I go in the country. Giving that up might be more than I can bear. I'm weak, I know. But I gotta have a signal.

Should I stay or should I go? I have come to love my Verizon service (and have had nothing put positive interpersonal dealings with the company as well). But as I've explained in recent past posts at other venues, I've become more and more political, more and more committed to my deeply held personal beliefs. And I've begun to be driven by the idea that a person should really put her money where her mouth is, not just through direct contribution, but with regard to where she puts her money for goods and services. And if you saw my cellphone bill (which still includes The Kid's phone), you could conclude that 1% of that bad boy every month could do a lot of good for such notable past Credo beneficiaries as Amnesty International, the ACLU, Doctors Without Borders, Greenpeace and Planned Parenthood---all of which I've donated to directly in the past.

It's a sticky situation. Switching should be easy, as Credo's ad claims. It certainly seems a lot easier right now than it would have yesterday, before I sought out Credo's website. Maybe I just have to live with it for a bit before I make the leap. If any of you actually use Credo Mobile, or know someone who does, I'd love to hear from you about your experience. It might be enough to push me over the edge.


Saturday, December 06, 2008

So Good, I Had to Post It Again.

As we move through this frustratingly slow transition to a real President, with a real White House, abiding by the real Constitution, and as the outgoing President attempts to spin his little web of lies into some kind of legacy that takes him out of contention with James Buchanan as the most loathed President of all time, I'd like to post this Bill Maher video, which hits on some of the reasons the last eight years have been so disastrous.

It's especially important to revisit this in light of the rise of Caribou Barbie (aka Bible Spice) to iconic Republican rock-star status.

Let us celebrate, hopefully once and for all, the Death of Stupidity-Worship.


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Prop 8 - The Musical

Well, admit it.... gay people... Mormons... it was inevitable, wasn't it?

Keep an eye out for Maya Rudolph, John C. Reilly, Allison Janney, Margaret Cho, Sarah Chalk, Neil Patrick Harris, and Jack Black (as Jesus Christ, natch.)

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

I must confess that I have a little "gay-crush" on Neil Patrick Harris now.

This production is a little ironic, considering that one of Sacramento's most noted musical theatre directors, Scott Eckern, was forced to resign when his financial and political support of Proposition 8 was made public.


Awwww, Maaannnn... Am I Gonna Have to Start LIKING Her?

She's actually quite good.

If only she could have made that her chosen career, instead of politics. Oh, well....


This Is Why The South Won't Rise Again.... Ever.

Really, no seriously... thank you, Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama and the rest of the Deep South. Thank you for showing yourselves to be who you really, really are, and not who you've pretended to be. How proud you all must be that your racist roots as slavery lovers and ex-slave owners still burn so brightly. I can understand why your Confederate flag is so important to you. The symbolism of creating a country founded on the backs of owned humans must make your heart swell with melancholy nostalgia.

Maybe we just should have let the South go back in the 19th century. It's not like we couldn't have adjusted to life without them by now. Imagine where we could have been as a country by now without the festering pustule that is the Southern white supremacist movement. And, we'd have had the extra, added benefit of eliminating the part of the country that would end up being the Bible Belt, too.

It just makes me proud to be an American to know that people who come from people who couldn't get through the day without being fed and dressed by other people that they owned still long for those days of yore. Yes, indeedy.

Powerful proud.

But don't take my word for it. Watch this documentary by American News Project about the fear of threats and attempts that Barack Obama's victory has aroused in the South.

Thanks, Southern states. You've really shown the best you have to offer. (And if you haven't---if there are, by chance, Southerners who feel very differently---perhaps now might be the time to speak up, or forever hold your peace and be lumped with racist assassins and hate mongers.)

Do you think we should tell white Southerners about this US Census prediction that, by 2050, non-Hispanic white folks will be a minority? Nahhhh... It'll just make them cry like little girls.


Monday, December 01, 2008

From the "Unbe-Freakin'-Lievable" Department

In his first big "exit interview" with ABC's Charles Gibson, when Gibson asked Bush what he was "must unprepared for," the answer came as a bit of a shocker.
"Well, I think I was unprepared for war. In other words, I didn't campaign and say, 'Please vote for me, I'll be able to handle an attack.' In other words, I didn't anticipate war. Presidents -- one of the things about the modern presidency is that the unexpected will happen."
In even other, other words, Mr. President, you're a fucking idiot and good riddance to you. Sorry for using those particularly vulgar words, but right now, as I look at this photo of you with your sorry white ass lounging comfortably on the bodies of 4200 American soldiers (which have been, for the purposes of this interview, cleverly disguised as a lovely butter-colored settee), in front of a roaring Camp David fire, these are the only words that your inhumanity and your utter lack of human decency and compassion conjure up.

You're a monster, and I can't wait for the villagers to chase you out of Washington with pitchforks and torches. As my daughter once said, "There's a special little place in hell...."