Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Teachers Can't Take Time Off To Vote

KCPW says that Utah's two largest school districts won't be letting their teachers off to vote on Election Day specifically because of the educational issues on the ballot.

Is this even legal? If there's a precedence of teachers taking time off to vote on Election Day, can they stop them this time? I'm floored that they'd try this. Seems to me that there's a whole can of worms they've opened.

Why are we still doing business with China? [Updated]

If they're not after our dogs or our toddlers, they're after our holidays.

Although the product is now being recalled, there are currently 43,000 sets of "Ugly Teeth" that have been sold here in the US with 100 times the "allowed" level of lead. Yeah, something we put directly in our mouths.

To make it worse, Nancy Nord, the head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, is being accused of failing to see the gravity of the situation, and opposing Democratic efforts to give her agency more money and more authority.

What would drive Ms. Nord to reject power and money? It certainly can't be the "good of the people" that her agency should be seeing to.

I'm ready to commit to not buying anything from China at all. I hear that's rather difficult, but I think it might be worth it. More on that later, as I decide whether I'm up to a firm commitment on this one.

[Update:] J.M. Bell answers the title question, with a look at the economics.

No. Really? 60 MPG Hummer with 600 HP?

Sit down, this may be shocking news.

Detroit has been lying about what they can do to increase gas mileage.

Yep, they have. Even to their own engineers, apparently.

An amateur mechanic named Jonathan Goodwin has proven that it's possible to get far higher MPG along with far higher HP in just about any vehicle. He can turn a Hummer into a hybrid that gets better gas mileage and better horsepower.

And yet, any notion of Detroit or government interference with this type of technology is considered to be nothing more than conspiracy theory. I bet this gets ignored just like past proofs of these happenings.

I wonder how much he'd charge to convert a Jeep to a hybrid?

(h/t Kos of DailyKos)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Did Barack Hurt His Standing in the LGBT Community?

I have to admit, when I read about Pastor McClurkin going on tour with Barack, and the scandal that has followed, I was not very happy. My first instinct was that they're Americans, too. And Bush excludes anyone who doesn't agree with him, so maybe this isn't so bad. It's obvious that McClurkin's views are the polar opposite of Barack's. But, I was not looking forward to being asked about this, because it just wasn't a good thing, no matter how you look at it.

I am very sick, and have been for a couple of days. So, I am not totally up on all the details on this one, but I did run across one thing that really changed how I'm looking at this. Young Montana Voter wrote a diary on Daily Kos entitled "The Obama campaign's response to my nasty email".

To get the full picture, you probably need to read the whole thing, but here are some highlights. This guy (or girl, but I don't know) apparently got pretty pissed about the issue, and sent off a nasty-gram to the Obama campaign about the McClurkin incident. He received a reply that started off this way:
Thank you for sharing your strong objections to past statements of one of the performers on the recent South Carolina gospel tour. I appreciate the opportunity to address your concerns directly because I strongly disagree with Pastor McClurkin’s deeply hurtful and offensive statements about sexual orientation.

So far, so good. I like that he says up front that he disagrees with McClurkin. He goes on in the letter to talk about his history of supporting LGBT rights, and then brought up Reverend Andy Sidden's presence.
To honor my commitment to promoting tolerance on the gospel tour, I asked Rev. Andy Sidden, an openly gay South Carolina pastor, to open the tour and offer a prayer. I’m glad he joined us, because we have to speak to people we disagree with in order to confront issues that are important to gay and black communities, like the HIV/AIDS epidemic. I have spoken directly to African-American religious leaders about the need to overcome the homophobia that persists in some parts of the Black community, and I will continue to be outspoken on this issue.

I have to admit, this was the part that totally changed my view of the situation. Here's a bit of my inner dialogue:
Me: Ok, Self, this whole issue is just not good. He's basically endorsing McClurkin's horrible viewpoint.
Self: Well, Me - even if they're wrong, aren't they still part of America?
Me: Well, yes - but Bush is technically part of America, and it doesn't look like he's going to be exiled anytime soon.
Self: Right, but Bush isn't willing to be part of Obama's campaign now, is he?
Me: Well, no...
Self: So, Barack says that we have to talk to the other side to resolve anything. Isn't that why you're supporting him in the first place? Because he doesn't discount those who disagree, and because of his ability to bring everyone to the same table?
Me: Ok, I'm sold.

Then Barack's letter goes on to mention a conversation with Joe Solmonese, President of the Human Rights Campaign, and quotes a statement from him:
I did thank [Senator Obama].... for his willingness to call on religious leaders to open a dialogue about homophobia. We hope that Sen. Obama will move forward and facilitate face-to-face meetings with religious leaders, like Rev. McClurkin, and the GLBT community to confront the issue of homophobia.

We also call on all of the presidential campaigns to look within their ranks of supporters and make the same commitment to engage in a dialogue among differing views around issues of equality and fairness for our community.

Wow, so Solmonese is essentially endorsing Obama's actions? That's got to mean something. I know that Solmonese said he'd prefer that Obama drop McClurkin, but he's also praising him for engaging other viewpoints on this topic.

Barack also attaches an open letter from LGBT and religious leaders and ends his own letter with this:
I’ve said before that America’s diversity is its greatest strength. In order to confront the challenges of our day, we must be able to get past the divisions which have upheld our progress in the past. I am committed to building those bridges to a better future.

Read this letter, and let every word sink in:
October 24, 2007

To Whom It May Concern:

As representatives of Barack Obama supporters from the African American religious community and the gay community, we are issuing a statement together for the first time. Our letter addresses the recent issue of Pastor Donnie McClurkin singing at Senator Obama’s "Embrace the Change" concert series. In the midst of division, we hope and believe that this is a moment to bring together communities that have been divided for far too long.

A few things are clear.

First, Pastor McClurkin believes and has stated things about sexual orientation that are deeply hurtful and offensive to many Americans, most especially to gay Americans. This cannot and should not be denied.

At the same time, a great many African Americans share Pastor McClurkin’s beliefs. This also cannot be ignored.

Finally, we believe that the only way for these two sides to find common ground is to do so together.

Not at arms length. Not in a war of words with press and pundits. Only together.

It is clear that Barack Obama is the only candidate who has made bringing these two often disparate groups together a goal. In gatherings of LGBT Americans and African Americans of faith, Obama has stated that all individuals should be afforded full civil rights regardless of their sexual orientation, and that homophobia must be eradicated in every corner of our nation. If we are to end homophobia and secure full civil rights for gay Americans, then we need an advocate within the Black community like Barack Obama.

At the same time, while Obama has said that he "strongly disagrees" with Pastor McClurkin's comments, he will not exclude from his campaign the many Americans including many in the African American community who believe the same as Pastor McClurkin.

We believe that Barack Obama is constructing a tent big enough for LGBT Americans who know that their sexual orientation is an innate and treasured part of their being, and for African American ministers and citizens who believe that their religion prevents them from fully embracing their gay brothers and sisters. And if we are to confront our shared challenges we have to join together, build on common ground, and engage in a civil dialogue even when we disagree.

We also ask Senator Obama’s critics to consider the alternatives. Would we prefer a candidate who ignores the realities in the African American community and cuts off millions of Blacks who believe things offensive to many Americans? Or a panderer who tells African Americans what they want to hear, at the expense of our gay brothers and sisters? Or would we rather stand with Barack Obama, who speaks truth in love to both sides, pulling no punches but foreclosing no opportunities to engage?

We stand with Senator Obama. We stand with him because of the solutions he is proposing for our nation. We stand with him because of his character and his judgment. But the most important reason we stand with him is because today, as he has done all along, Barack Obama is causing us to stand together.

That's the kind of President we need, and we are proud to support him.

Sincerely,

Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, Jr.
Olivet Institutional Baptist Church
Chair, Obama National African American Religious Leaders Working Group
Cleveland, Ohio

Stampp Corbin
Chair, Obama National LGBT Leadership Council
Former Member of Human Rights Campaign Board of Directors
Columbus, Ohio

Tobias Barrington Wolff
Chair, Obama LGBT Policy Committee
Professor of Law, University of Pennsylvania Law School
Philadelphia, PA

The Reverend Stephen John Thurston
President
National Baptist Convention of America
Chicago, IL

The Reverend Alvin Love
President
Baptist General State Convention of Illinois, Inc.

Bishop E. Earl McCloud, Jr.
Office of Ecumenical & Urban Affairs
African Methodist Episcopal Church
Atlanta, GA

Steven Latasa-Nicks
President, The Phelon Group, Inc.
Former Human Rights Campaign Board of Governors
New York, NY

Maxim Thorne
Former COO, Human Rights Campaign
Paterson, NJ

Phil Burgess
Former Human Rights Campaign Board of Directors
Chicago, IL

Rev. Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner
Skinner Leadership Institute
Tracy’s Landing, MD

Rev. Michael Pfleger
St. Sabina, Chicago

Rev. Edward Taylor
San Jose, CA

The Reverend Robert H. Thompson
Exeter, NH

Sharon Malheiro
LGBT Activist
Des Moines, IA

Hon. Jon Cooper
Majority Leader, Suffolk County (NY) Legislature

Rev. Paul Hobson Sadler, Sr., Pastor
Mt. Zion Congregational UCC

Green Graffiti

I found this on MAKE today, and I love it!

Inhabitat has a great write on artist Edina Tokodi's "green graffiti" Abigail writes -
Eco-minded street artist Edina Tokodi is putting a new spin on green guerilla tactics in the trendy art enclave of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Tokodi’s site-specific moss installations of prancing animal figures and camouflage outgrowths are the talk of a local urban neighborhood typically accustomed to gallery hype and commercial real estate take-overs. Unlike the market-driven art featured in sterile, white box galleries, the work of Tokodi is meant to be touched, felt, and in turn touch you in the playful ways that her animated installations call to mind a more familiar, environmentally friendly state in the barren patches of urban existence.

The Moss Graffiti also mentioned in the article rocks, and might solve an issue I'm having in my garden, at least until I can dig up half of the yard to fix it.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Chris Cannon Wants to Negate Insurance Companies?

Is Chris Cannon wanting to work against insurance companies, or what exactly is he saying here?

Because according to Open Secrets, they were his 4th largest contributor in the last election.

I wonder if my comment will be approved?
So, you are working to make insurance companies irrelevant?
http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/indus.asp?cycle=2006&CID=N00006349

That might even get me to vote for you.


(h/t Marshall)

Friday, October 26, 2007

I'm Getting a Chumby!

What's that? You don't know what a Chumby is?
The chumby is a compact device that displays useful and entertaining information from the web. Always on, it shows — nonstop — what's online that matters to you.

I like to call it a snuggly beanbag computer.

(I chose the black one)

Many moons ago, I found out about Chumby through Make, Boing Boing or maybe even Engadget. And today I got an email that I'm "special" and can order one. They're not publicly available yet, so you have to wait for yours.

They look like a lot of fun, and for $179.95 (free shipping) I plan on doing a lot of fun things with it. I might even write a widget for it, or something. I'll leave the hardware hacking to my boyfriend, though.

Gothic vs Punk

In honor of Hallowe'en, we have How to Dance Gothic:
You went out to your local goth club in your black velvet frock coat, your hair teased up bigger and rattier than Edward Scissorhands’, and lace dripping from your wrists and throat. You looked fabulous. But as soon as you got on the dance floor, everyone started laughing — eventually, they had to toss you out of the club for being “deleterious to the proper level of angst.”

You need to learn to dance gothic.

It’s not that hard; just learn these simple moves and soon you can blend in with all the other spooky individuals on the dance floor at your local batcave. After all, for such an individualistic crowd, it’s kind of surprising how goths all seem to use the same moves. Maybe it’s something encoded in the Goth Genes™ rather than just lack of originality...

All difficulties and Goth Ratings are on a scale of one (pathetically easy or ridiculously non-gothic) to five (tragically difficult or stylishly ├╝ber-gothic).

Seriously, these moves are amazing, as is the imagery.

Once you're done with that, you can find out How to Dance Mosh Punk:
It looks easy, eh? You throw yourself around inna pit fulla other punks.

There’s some points to consider here.

A mosh pit isn’t about violence, it isn’t about getting hurt or hurting other people. It’s about slamming around and having fun without actually breaking bones or skin too much. It may sound wussy to talk about ’safe mosh’, but when Bruno the seven-foot spike-covered three-hundred-pound wannabe smashes you, you’ll think about it. Even if the person you’re planning on smacking around isn’t huge, he or she may have friends. A friend of mine tells about a time, back at a goth/punk/industrial club he used to frequent:

This trio of Dockers-wearing preps and yuppies came in from the chic restaurant nearby. They quickly jumped into the pit, oblivious to the stares and glares they were attracting, and proceeded to flail their arms (and fists) around and generally act like stupid mundane gits who thought moshing meant “I get to hit people and they have to take it.” Within five minutes, a few of the regulars who all scored high on size, attitude, or both showed them what happened to people who tried that kind of thing. They left with bruises, and the rest of the club got back to real moshing instead of idiocy.

Don’t be the idiot. If you want a fight, start a freekin’ fight, but don’t mess up people’s dancing for it.


If you don't want to take the time to master both types of dancing, you can take a quiz to find out which category you belong in, before heading back to the main page where you can find everything you ever wanted to know about becoming goth or punk, including fashion tips.

Another Obama Committee

I'm joining yet another Obama committee. This time it's the Grassroots Finance Committee, and I was invited to join. I did, and I've committed to raise $1,000 by the end of the year. I've never been good at asking people for money, no matter how important it is. But, here's an attempt.

I think America needs a president like Barack Obama in order to heal the wounds this nation has had inflicted during the past 6 years. We need a uniter, and not a divider. We need someone who shows wisdom and diplomacy regarding issues like Iraq. We need someone who will be able to prevent Iran from creating nuclear weapons, but believes won't have the knee-jerk reaction of going to war. We need someone who believes in America, and is willing to lead all Americans in changing the status quo.

And I believe that Barack is the only Democrat who no Republican can stand a chance against in the General election. Right now, while we're still in primary season, is the time when you can make the most difference.

So, if I've convinced you to donate to Obama for America, go do it now. If I haven't, tell me why in the comments (so I can get better at talking you into it next time).

SCHIP and Republicans

I ran across a diary posted to Daily Kos today about SCHIP, where it talks about the "GOP war against children".

I posted this comment:
GOP War Against Children?
Ummm, I totally agree with SCHIP, and I think Bush is an ass for vetoing it. Every Republican that voted against it joins Bush in being asses. But I REALLY hate the phrase "war against children", it's right up there with the "war on Christmas". Using that phrase plays right into their hands. Now it's not an issue of children's health care, it's politics. And that phrase is what Faux News would have called it, if the tables were turned.

If Democrats in general choose to play politics in this manner, they're no better than the Republicans. We have to be the party that's right, not the party that manages to demonize the other, or we'll accomplish nothing, and we won't remain in the majority for long.


Here are the two replies I received:
Baloney--it IS war, stop sugar coating everything
Like it or not, no matter how they cry and scream and howl, the Republicans have declared war on anyone and everyone they've declared to be irrelevant to society (which pretty much means everyone but themselves and the deep pockets that are funding them).

Sorry, lying down on the floor acting like a doormat while the Republicans kick our asses isn't going to cut it for those impressionable votes that we're after.

Unfortunately
the GOP understands only the language of attacks, character assassination, smear, fear and demonization.
Though I agree we should never stoop to their lowly loser level, we do have to be tough, relentless and unforgiving where the GOP, its ideologies and policies are concerned.

I'm just dumbfounded that these same people who, a year ago, were crying in their beer that the Republicans were playing dirty politics think it's ok to turn around and do the same thing. I have to say, not all Democrats are doing this, but those that are just piss me off. And beyond that, they won't accomplish a damn thing with it. In fact, they'll probably hinder the efforts of the rest of us. No wonder people get burnt out about politics. This is why it took me about 10 years of being an adult to get involved.

And while I'm ranting, this is exactly why I don't trust Hillary in the White House. To me, she feels like one of "those" sorts of Democrats, and I want someone in there that I can trust to take the high road, and be about more than winning.

Flags on a stick are weapons?

I just received an email saying that at tomorrow's Peace Rally that there will be an announcement made that nothing may be carried on a stick, like signs or flags, because it is dangerous. And that people who don't comply may be asked to leave.

Seriously, carrying an American flag on a stick is dangerous? What, are we gonna poke someone's eye out?

I want to know who is behind this, and what in the hell they're thinking. And I need to come up with some way to carry my sign, without a stick. Maybe a sandwichboard or something.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

My Christmas List

Dear Santa,

So far, I only have one thing on my list, but I thought I would get this request in early. So, if you could be so kind as to put one of these under my Christmas tree this year, with my name on it, that would make me a very happy person. I'll even start being good!

Sincerely,
Misty Fowler



This intelligent umbrella has you covered!

The utilitarian umbrella has received a lot of upgrades throughout the years. It's been made smaller and larger, lighter, stronger, easier to open, easier to close and even glowing. The Ambient Forecasting Umbrella, however, has received the ultimate upgrade - it's been made smarter. It tells you when you need to take it along with you.

This umbrella has been injected with some wonderful technology in the handle. A built-in wireless receiver gets a daily weather forecast from Accuweather.com, and blue LEDs will flash to let you know if the forecast is rain or snow. The LEDs located at the bottom of the handle will flash in proportion to the chance of precipitation for your area; if there is a 100% chance, it will flash quickly, and if a 10% chance, it will flash slowly.

The umbrella itself is also incredibly well made. When opened, the umbrellas 58" dual-canopy "gust buster" design resists strong wind gusts and keeps you fully sheltered from precipitation. Easy push-button opening action and full length storage sleeve with wrist strap.

For I was hungry and you fed me, and I was sick and you asked for my insurance card

Jeff's latest Nightside debate with Ethan is up. Paul in SLC was among the callers in the second half of the show, and I just loved this quote from him:
"For I was hungry and you fed me, and I was sick and you asked for my insurance card."

I just have to add "And I was dumb so you gave me a voucher."

Jeff's outrage really is cute, so go take a listen.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The blood of millions of Iraquis is on your Hands"

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.



Condoleeza Rice has blood on her hands, and it looks like she wants the blood of Desiree Farooz, as well. Now if we could only get this sort of photo with Cheney and Bush...

(h/t Crooks and Liars)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Romney Hoping for Faux News Backing?

In a supposed "slip of the tongue" that would do Faux News proud, Mitt Romney accused Barack Obama (and the rest of the Democrats) of encouraging terror.
In the midst of criticizing Obama and other Democrats on foreign and economic policy Tuesday, the GOP presidential hopeful said: 'Actually, just look at what Osam -- Barack Obama -- said just yesterday. Barack Obama, calling on radicals, jihadists of all different types, to come together in Iraq. That is the battlefield... It's almost as if the Democratic contenders for president are living in fantasyland. Their idea for jihad is to retreat, and their idea for the economy is to also retreat. And in my view, both efforts are wrongheaded.'"

His spokesman later said that he was talking about Osama bin Laden, and not Barack Obama, although I haven't seen any evidence of apology for such a horrible "slip".

If the statement above is accurate in the way this was said, I fully believe this was done on purpose. He first did the Obama/Osama "mix-up", but on top of that, if he really meant Osama the whole time, who would that have anything to do with the "Democratic contenders for president"?

I can't imagine having yet another president willing to distort things to get his way.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Not My Emergency

KCPW says that a "mix-up" in the Utah State Leg means that low-income Utahns can't have new glasses this year, even though there has been money allocated for it.
A legislative mix-up has tied-up 174-thousand dollars intended to buy glasses for Medicaid patients in Utah. State lawmakers made that funding contingent on a patient co-pay of ten-dollars. But federal rules only allow three-dollar co-pays for Medicaid patients.

Apparently, this situation can be fixed with a special session, but no one wants to step up to the problem.

This isn't a minor thing. I wear glasses. I wouldn't be able to drive without them. I wouldn't be able to function, really. The money is there. The fact that the co-pay was supposed to be $3, and not $10, wasn't new or even unavailable information. It was overlooked. So, the people that overlooked it need to get their asses back to the capitol and get it fixed.

Friday, October 19, 2007

A comic for people as weird as myself

If you haven't seen XKCD before, here's a taste:



I think you have to be a very weird person, with at least a little geek in you, to fully appreciate the weirdness. Oh, and if you visit the site, plan on being there a while.

Bowling for Change

If you're an Obama supporter, or want to find out if you could be, join us tonight at AMF Ritz Classic Lanes to Bowl for Change. This is a low-dollar fundraiser for the Barack Obama 2008 presidential campaign. The suggested donation is $5, and you do pay for your own bowling costs. It'll be a lot of fun, and there will be plenty of people there to answer your questions, whether it's how you can help the campaign, or even what the campaign is all about. You can also pick up a bumper sticker, and we'll have some t-shirts for sale ($15, I think). There will also be prizes for the high and low scorers (Obama's books, I think).

Generation Obama Utah is hosting the event. Generation Obama (GO) is about trying to involve the under-40 crowd in the political discussion. GO Utah is closely aligned with Utah for Obama, but with the aim of these types of low-dollar events and socializing.

Join us from 7:00 PM to midnight tonight (October 19) at AMF Ritz Classic Lanes, 2265 South State Street in Salt Lake (look for the giant bowling pin).

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Nuke Free

Congress is about to give $50 Billion in tax subsidies for nuclear reactors to be built as part of the energy bill that is supposed to bring us clean energy. Nuclear energy is not clean energy. Anyone that doesn't know this simply doesn't want to.

Bonnie Raitt is joining MoveOn.org to work against this. She's put out a music video (which isn't half bad, by the way) where some of the facts about why this isn't a good idea are presented. Facts like how 50,000,000 people will live within 2 miles of the transportation routes for the waste.



More information can be found at NukeFree.org.

Here's the email she sent through MoveOn.org:
Dear MoveOn member,

When Jackson Browne, Graham Nash, many other bands and I played our "No Nukes" concerts in 1979 to 100,000 people, we never dreamed we'd have to come back almost 30 years later to fight the same fight all over again.

But it's 2007, and here we are again. The nuclear industry just slipped a clause into the energy bill that will provide up to $50 billion in tax subsidies for to build new reactors—enough to launch a whole new generation of nukes! We've already got the safe, viable alternatives to replace the dirty energy we're using now. Building new atomic reactors in an age of terror threats is not only scary, but the toxic waste from nuclear power threatens our health and our planet.

The nuclear option is not the way to go.

So I called my friends, and we recorded a music video to spread the word. We've also launched a petition, and I'm asking MoveOn members to sign on. Here's what it says:

"America's new energy policy needs to focus on safe and economic fuel sources. Congress must strip the nuclear tax subsidies from the energy bill before they pass it."

Clicking below will add your signature (and you can also see the video that we produced on that same page):

http://pol.moveon.org/nukefree/o.pl?id=11429-6917764-SiA19B&t=4

When you're done, please take a minute to pass it along to your friends.

$50 billion in loan guarantees is a lot of money—enough to cover financial risk for the big banks who want to get involved. In other words, if something goes wrong, it will be the American taxpayers who foot the bill, not Wall Street.

It makes no sense. We know nuclear facilities are a target for terrorists. We know nuclear energy is toxic to our health and environment. And we know solar and wind power are safer, cheaper, and getting easier to use every day. This should equal a big "no" on nuclear energy, and a big "yes" to investing in clean energy. But the nuclear industry and their friends in Congress don't want to take no for an answer.

We know MoveOn members worked to pass this energy bill and most of it is great—we'll get more solar and wind with this bill, and even more fuel efficient cars. We just need to ask Congress to take the nuclear subsidies out.

So that's why we're reaching out to you. No one is better than MoveOn when it comes to mobilizing quickly on important issues.

Can sign your name to the petition below and pass it along to your friends?

"America's new energy policy needs to focus on safe and economic fuel sources. Congress must strip the nuclear tax subsidies from the energy bill before they pass it."

http://pol.moveon.org/nukefree/o.pl?id=11429-6917764-SiA19B&t=5

Thanks for listening. Together we can find a way to a cleaner future.

–Bonnie Raitt, Musician
Thursday, October 18th, 2007

Robot Cannon Kills 9, Wounds 14 (Update with video)

No, that headline is not sci-fi, or misleading.
We're not used to thinking of them this way. But many advanced military weapons are essentially robotic -- picking targets out automatically, slewing into position, and waiting only for a human to pull the trigger. Most of the time. Once in a while, though, these machines start firing mysteriously on their own. The South African National Defence Force "is probing whether a software glitch led to an antiaircraft cannon malfunction that killed nine soldiers and seriously injured 14 others during a shooting exercise on Friday."

Essentially, they were using live ammo for a training exercise, and the cannon didn't fire when it should have. Shortly thereafter, it began firing uncontrollably.

I really wonder how far mankind will go before deciding there should be limits to everything?

Update: Here's a video of a similar incident a few years back:

Warning: Turn your sound down, the first second or so is obnoxiously loud

Noah Shachtman has some interesting commentary about the video over at Wired.

Rep. Stark nails it on the head

Representative Pete Stark just said the following on the House floor, and it's exactly what Republicans who want the war and are against SCHIP make me want to say to them (or, well...yell, really):
First of all, I'm just amazed they can't figure out, the Republicans are worried we can't pay for insuring an additional 10 million children. They sure don't care about finding $200 billion to fight the illegal war in Iraq. Where ya gonna get that money? You going to tell us lies like you're telling us today? Is that how you're going to fund the war? You don't have money to fund the war or children. But you're going to spend it to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the President's amusement. This bill would provide healthcare for 10 million children and unlike the President's own kids, these children can't see a doctor or receive necessary care. [...]

But President Bush's statements about children's health shouldn't be taken any more seriously than his lies about the war in Iraq. The truth is that Bush just likes to blow things up. In Iraq, in the United States and in Congress.

(h/t BarbinMD)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The House says Bloggers are Journalists

Ok, so the title wasn't long enough to include that not all bloggers qualify. But, here's what the Speaker's blog has to say:
The House has just passed the Free Flow of Information Act, also known as the federal shield law. The bill passed by a vote of 398-21, a margin that would easily override the veto which the White House has promised (pdf). The bill provides journalists with a qualified privilege as to sources and information, while at the same time, recognizing the need for effective law enforcement and robust national security. A blogger who regularly engages in journalistic activities – such as gathering and publishing news and information for dissemination to the public – and does so for a substantial portion of the person’s livelihood or for substantial financial gain would be covered by the shield as a journalist.

Open Congress has more information here.

Now I just need to figure out how to make "substantial" financial gains from this blog. Ideas, anyone?

Class on becoming a delegate tonight!

If you haven't read Rob's post about becoming a national delegate, and you're interested in becoming one, check it out here.

There's a lot of really good information on that post, and to make it even better, tonight is the class at the U of U. I'll be there!

Hey, Lucas: Don't Do This To Me!

George Lucas says he's planning a television series based on Star Wars. Apparently, major characters won't be in it, which is definitely a good thing.

But, they're going to screw it up, and ruin Star Wars for me. I'm a fan. I even once flew out of state for opening night so I could share Star Wars with a (now ex-) boyfriend. I played the MMORPG. I'm happy where I'm at in my relationship with Star Wars. And now Lucas thinks he can go and create a tv series and it won't affect me? Dude, you're gonna screw it up, and then Star Wars just won't be the same.

I'm begging. Don't do this. Please?

DFA Pulse Poll

If you, like me, enjoy making your opinion known, then the Democracy For America Pulse Poll is for you. This vote will help them decide which candidate they will back. Of course, I voted for Senator Barack Obama and I want to keep him in first place.

Take a minute to vote.

Thanks for your help (even if you don't vote for Obama :).

Cheney and Obama Related?

Think Progress has video of Lynne Cheney telling Norah O'Donnell that Dick and Barack are 8th cousins.
A spokeswoman Lynne Cheney explained to the AP that Obama “is a descendent of Mareen Duvall. This French Huguenot’s son married the granddaughter of a Richard Cheney, who arrived in Maryland in the late 1650’s from England, said Ginny Justice, a spokeswoman for Lynne Cheney.” The Obama campaign’s response? “Every family has a black sheep.”

Now that's what I'd call a strategy

MSNBC tells us that the Navy is adopting a new strategy:
In the first major revision of U.S. naval strategy in 25 years, maritime officials said Wednesday they plan to focus more on humanitarian missions and improving international cooperation as a way to prevent conflicts.

"We believe that preventing wars is as important as winning wars," said the new strategy announced by the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.

Unfortunately, I don't believe a word of it. Not under this president. That feeling is confirmed later in the article:
It also says forces will be concentrated "where tensions are high or where we wish to demonstrate to our friends and allies our commitment to security" — something the U.S. did earlier this year in sending an additional aircraft carrier to the Gulf region as a show of force toward Iran.

"Credible combat power will be continuously posted in the Western Pacific and the Arabian Gulf/Indian Ocean to protect our vital interests, assure our friends ... and deter and dissuade potential adversaries," the strategy document said.

Ahhh, now we're down to the truth. What they're really saying is that our Navy will now be permanently stationed in the Middle East, ready to show some muscle to any nation over there who starts getting too big for their britches. Humanitarian missions, my ass.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Vampire Zombies and other October reads

I keep meaning to write about the books I've been reading as I read them, but it's gotten put off too long and these are all going to be lumped together.

First up is Nightwatch. Along with it comes Day Watch, Twilight Watch and (if I understand right) next summer will be Last Watch, by Sergei Lukyanenko. I finished reading the first three last week, and I loved them. Nightwatch was definitely the best, but Twilight Watch was right up there with it. The premise of the books is that vampires, werewolves, and varying types of magic users exist right under our noses. In these modern days, the Night and Day watches are at odds, and are held in check by the Inquisition, a group made up of both Light and Dark "Others". The books do a really good job at blurring the line between good and bad, right and wrong. I became interested in this because of the movie, Nightwatch. I haven't watched it yet, but from what I hear, you want to watch this movie with English subtitles, and not with English dubbing. Hopefully, I'll get around to watching that this weekend.

Brian Schott recently wrote about the upcoming movie I Am Legend, which led to a trip to Barnes and Noble just before they closed Friday night. I picked up the softcover, which is a collection of stories by Richard Matheson. I think the hardcover version doesn't have the additional stories, which are a must-read if you enjoy well-written horror. There's also a graphic novel version out, which might be an interesting read. I have high hopes for the movie, and it is one I'm willing to see at the theater, and might even fight the opening night crowds for. The last story in the book, Person to Person was incredible, as well. I'm about to begin Hell House, which I bought at the same time as I Am Legend.

The other book I purchased on the late Friday run was A Thousand Splendid Suns. I actually read this before I Am Legend, because last month I read The Kite Runner, also by Khaled Hosseini, and I was anxious to see what this book would be like. They are not sequels, however they are both stories about life in the Middle East. The Kite Runner was incredible in it's ability to make you ache inside for Amir, the main character. You understand his unforgivable actions, yet you almost have more sympathy for him than for those who are hurt by him. Both books were very well written, and stand on their own as worthy reads. However, I can't tell you how much I appreciated the look inside of the lives of the characters. While the characters were fictional, the world they live in is not, nor are the choices they are faced with. (If only every person who refers to all Muslims, Middle Easterners and everyone else they don't understand as "terrorists" could read one of these books!)

As a side note, Laurell K. Hamilton will be at the Sugar House Barnes and Noble on October 29 at 7:00 PM. I really enjoyed the first few books in both her Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter and her Meredith Gentry (faery) series. I may finish the series, but I haven't read any in a few years because I got rather disgusted with the non-stop sex scenes. Her stories were good enough (and exciting enough) on their own, and really didn't need gratuitous sex to complete them. I probably will bring my sister with me for her appearance in Sugar House, though.

Give 'em the finger

No, not that one!

Step It Up is asking you to give your leaders the finger:



They also have an "invite your leaders" feature. None of Utah's leaders have been invited yet. As soon as I'm hooked back up to my printer, I'll be inviting Utah's Senator's and Representatives. Not that I'm holding my breath that they'll come.

Obama Blocks von Spakovsky's Nomination to FEC

Democrats have been speaking out against von Spakovsky's nomination to the FEC, because he's been accused of working against the voting rights of minorities. We've had enough politicians messing with our elections, and considering the electronic voting fiasco we're facing, we really need someone honest in that position.

Unfortunately, the Democrats in Washington don't quite see it that way. So, Barack Obama has put a hold on the nomination.

Ironically:
Obama’s opposition “is nothing more than fear-mongering with potential liberal voters,” said Todd Gaziano, who follows FEC issues for the conservative Heritage Foundation. He said Obama’s hold smacks of “desperation in his political campaign.”


Fear mongering? Excuse me? Fear mongering is telling Americans "Revoke your Constitutional Rights, the terrorists are coming! The terrorists are coming!". Fear mongering is saying that if the Republicans lose, the terrorist win. But, putting forth an honest objection about someone who has been accused of messing with elections, saying that (umm, hello?) maybe he shouldn't be in charge of federal elections - that's not fear mongering.

I'm glad Obama did this, I wish others had the guts to do it, too. Here's why he did it, in his own words.

Lobbyists and PACs Represent Americans?

I think that lobbyists and PACs represent corporate interests and a few people who have a lot of money. So, it really pisses me off that in order for me to pay for Utah for Obama to have a booth, or advertise an event in City Weekly like our Bowling for Barack fundraiser this Friday, that we have to jump through hoops to make sure we are within FEC guidelines. We, as a small group of citizens cannot hold a BBQ without worrying that we save every receipt that might be slightly related and turn it in as an in-kind donation to the campaign. And, if we wanted to form a Political Action Committee, so that we can pay our own way for events and BBQs, we couldn't because a PAC can't have the sole purpose of helping a presidential campaign. Besides which, Obama isn't taking PAC or lobbyist money in this election.

So, we jump through those hoops, and it's so frustrating to watch PACs and lobbyists funding Hillary's campaign. We, average citizens who want Barack to be our next president, cannot be a PAC, but yet PACs and lobbyists donate to Hillary's campaign, and she turns around and declares that they do represent us.

She's wrong. A very small portion of PACs and lobbyists might represent us. But, her statement is far from true. By far, the money that has gone into Hillary's campaign represents special interests, and not the individual American. 350,000 individual people have donated to Barack Obama. Very few of those donors are maxed out, while far more of Hillary's are.

We truly need campaign finance reform. Until then, sadly, the lobbyists and PACs get a greater say in who our next president will be than we do. Donating helps, but considering that most "average" people aren't going to be able to max out their $2,300 donation limit in the primary, it still feels like "they" get a far bigger say in what happens than "we" will. I do have faith that Obama will continue to outpace Hillary with the sheer number of donors. That's been why he had higher fundraising dollars than Hillary did for the first two quarters.

Why does it have to be about money, though? This has got to be fixed, and soon.

Monday, October 15, 2007

A New Hobby

Because I didn't have enough hobbies already, I decided to start gardening. Oh, and I have a very brown thumb. I think I've simply looked at plants and killed them before. But, I was tired of looking at the "flower bed" in the back yard, with broken edging bricks and weeds.

Last week, while we were at Home Depot, I picked up about 8 packs of tulip bulbs.I was just going to dig a hole and stick them in. Simple, right?

4 trips to the store and a couple hundred dollars later, I now have everything the professional gardener needs. Saturday, I began weeding the bed, and decided that the edging bricks had to go. And since we're getting a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy soon, we should put railroad ties along the back to prevent the dog from digging under the fence. So, I should move the edge of the garden out a few inches. Oh, and since there's a tree stump in the way, I should move it out a few more inches, so it's not in the way of the new edging. Of course, it rained me out Saturday, so I washed the many gardening tools I now had, and put them away. And, of course, it stopped raining. So, I decided to clear out that spot in the front to make way for the lillies up front. And since I was fixing that anyway, I might as well put some sand below the drain-catcher-thingy (what are those concrete things called that go below the drain from the rain gutter?) and make sure it's positioned right.

I discovered a few things along the way. First, whoever planted those "decorative onions" should be shot. The only thing growing in the back garden (besides some very healthy weeds) had really tall leaves, and I thought they were a flower that had stopped blooming. Turns out they're some kind of onion. And the roots of them had all joined to become one, and were very strong. Getting them out took at least an hour, maybe two. And was far more difficult than I had expected any of this to be. I had to snap pieces off with the hand rake-thingy (maybe I need classes so I'll know what these things are called?) and dig them up a small piece at a time. I finally got that done on Saturday.

Unfortunately, Sunday brought a worse problem. That tree on the other side of the fence had invaded! It seemed like such a small tree, so I'm not sure how it managed to get so many roots on my side - and so thick, too!

Dax, having broken ribs, kept helping even though it hurt him to do so, but I can't swing an axe if my life depended on it. He kept showing me how, but it was a pick-axe and the head was messed up, so it kept tipping, which didn't help my already poor aim at all. I was able to cut most of the roots. And since I couldn't keep Dax from helping when he knew I needed it, I finally sent him inside and tried putting the other axe blade directly on the root in question and hitting it with a sledge hammer. Not the most efficient use of the tools, but I only missed once this way, and though my finger hurt, it didn't even break!

So, for all the pain I'm now in (have I mentioned how out of shape I am?) I accomplished planting 20 tulip bulbs, clearing and adding soil to 20 feet of garden, and putting a cute little wooden edging fence in front of that same 20 feet. I have 10 more feet to clear and fence, with some of that probably containing more of the roots that tried to kill me on Sunday, and need to plan 60 more bulbs. That doesn't count the 20 or so lillies that I'm putting in the front yard, or clearing and cleaning the other 30 feet in the back and 20 or so in the front, putting down the weed cover, and putting edging up in both spots.

So much for a nice, relaxing hobby.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Congratulations to President-Elect Al Gore

I know there are a million blogs and news articles about Gore's win of the Nobel Peace Prize. And I bet very few will refrain from somehow mentioning his past win of the US presidency or his theoretical entry into the presidential race for '08. I don't have anything new to add. Anyone with half a brain knows he won last time, and wants him to enter the race again. (Side note: the problem is, we have a major brain shortage in America right now)

Anyway - I highly recommend that everyone read just one more article.

To Al Gore, I thirst to drink from the cup of intelligence

Upon logging on and seeing “Gore Wins” meaning the Nobel Peace Prize, just seeing the word wins was an uplifting experience. In reading the news article, it was good to see how the writer defined the 2000 presidential race, “He was the Democratic nominee in 2000 and won the general election popular vote. However, Gore lost the electoral vote to George W. Bush after a legal challenge to the Florida result that was decided by the Supreme Court.” Not as other articles in this past seven years have stated, which have read, Gore lost the election to George W. Bush.

She goes on to talk about the Draft Gore movement, and gives us this quote from Gore:
And I want to tell you what I tell them: Sometimes people who are very idealistic and have great dreams, as young people do, are apt to stay at arm's length from the political process because they think their good hearts might be brittle, and if they invest their hopes and allow themselves to believe, then they're going to be let down and disappointed. But thank goodness we've always had enough people who have been willing in every generation to push past the fear of a broken heart and become deeply involved in forming a more perfect union. We're America. And we believe in our future, and we know we have the ability to shape our future.

Definitely an article worth reading.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Maybe the FLDS belong in Arkansas

Apparently, an extraneous "not" allows toddlers to tie the "knot" in Arkansas.
An error in a new law that allows Arkansans of any age -- even toddlers -- to marry with parental consent must be fixed by lawmakers, not an independent commission authorized to correct typos, a judge ruled Wednesday.

The law, which took effect July 31, was intended to establish 18 as the minimum age to marry, while also allowing pregnant minors to marry with parental consent.

An extraneous "not" in the bill, however, allows anyone who is not pregnant to marry at any age if the parents allow it.


Governor Huckabee decided that there was no imminent crisis, and that the Code Revision Commission could fix it, but apparently a judge ruled that lawmakers had to do it. So, in the meantime, it appears that the FLDS could probably get away with marrying off their children. Go, Huckabee!

Hey, Utah - Where Are The Women Bloggers?

I know of a few women bloggers here in Utah, but I can't think of a single one that has a political blog. I got to thinking about this because Melina of Brilliant at Breakfast posted that the blog had been added to a list of 100 women bloggers. I went to check it out, and this list was begun on Oct 4th. In the week since then, it hasn't reached 200.

So, I checked my lists, and can't find a single local women who blogs - at least not who blogs on a regular basis. Granted, I definitely don't know all of the local bloggers, but there are several lists I have, including 3 sets of RSS feeds that I use, and I can't find a single one. At least not that truly has a political focus and writes on their blog on at least a semi-monthly basis. Surely I must be overlooking some good ones? (Maybe I can't tell the difference between boys and girls?)

Let me know who I've missed, and don't forget to recommend them at Informed Voters.

Ask Mitt ANYTHING



Except whether he's willing to arrest innocent people.

Let's have some more of that compassionate conservatism again, shall we?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Dave Annoys Me

Ok, so for whatever reason, I've never really liked Buhler's campaign sign or slogan. "I like Dave".

It seems so mediocre. I saw a billboard the other day, and did a Google search for Buhler, trying to see if he had a photo of the billboard on his web site. It came up with this ad at the top:
Dave Buhler for SLC Mayor
www.daveformayor.org Politics can be so full of labels. How bout reasonable? That's Dave.


I then visited his web site for the first time. It reminded me of the Flash ads that the local papers have on their classifieds sites (or used to, anyway) for Larry H Miller that auto-loaded and a "coach" started screaming at you to buy a car. It made me very glad I watch almost no tv, so I haven't had to put up with his campaign ads.

I didn't find the billboard there. But, a quick search for "Dave Buhler billboard" came up with a City Weekly blog about it. Unfortunately, I didn't see it with the graffiti, but at least there's a picture. Go there if you haven't seen it!

So, my point was that Buhler's billboard says "A lot gets done when you're reasonable" and "Vote for the reasonable guy". Between that and his slogan, I really get the feeling that he's asking everyone to settle. Ho-hum. No one "loves" Dave. But at least they like him. And he's plenty willing to compromise on just about anything, because he's reasonable. And a pushover, so that he can at least say he did something, even if it wasn't the right thing.

Not very good campaign marketing, if you ask me.

And what's the deal with these caricatures?


I really wish I could vote for SLC mayor. At least it's pretty apparent that Becker's going to win.

October 27 - A Call to Action



I received an email today about the upcoming Peace March and Rally, and thought I'd share. First is the information about the event, and at the bottom is the email about how you can help.

The Oct 27th site has this information about the rally:
BRING ALL THE TROOPS HOME NOW!

U.S. OUT OF IRAQ!

BUILD BRIDGES, NOT BOMBS!

Join Utah and other surrounding states including Idaho, Colorado, and Montana, in a major march and rally on Saturday October 27th, 2007 in Salt Lake City. The action starts at 11:00 AM at the Utah State Capital where an Iraq War Veteran will give the opening address for this day of action. We then march down the hill to the Federal Building where more activities and speeches are scheduled at 12 PM. The event culminates at Washington Square, 400 South State Street in Salt Lake City, where from 1 to 3 PM nationally recognized speakers will address the gathering.

We also plan to feature great music and many local/regional anti-war street performance groups and displays.

Questions, comments, suggestions? Want to be a part of this great local effort to end the war in Iraq and bring our troops home? Would you like to distribute flyers and posters for this event?

contact:

kimspangrude@mac.com

daynegoodwin@gmail.com


VOLUNTEER!

Planning meetings for this event are every other Tuesday evening at the Salt Lake Public Library, Main Branch, on 400 South and 200 East in SLC in the Conference Room on the first floor. Next meeting: October 2nd at 6:30 PM. RSVP if possible.


And here's the flyer.

I'm not sure if I can go to this, or not. It's early enough in the day that I probably can.

So, here's the email about how you can help:

Dear friends and peace activists,

Saturday October 27 will be an important day of action to call for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. United for Peace and Justice , the largest activist peace coalition in the U.S., is coordinating a nationwide demonstration against the war focussed in eleven cities around the country.

Salt Lake City is one of the eleven regional centers . The Idaho Peace Coalition and other peace groups and activists from throughout the intermountain region are coming to Utah to participate in the Mountain States regional action.

The Bush administration has asked Congress to pass another $192 Billion supplemental appropriation to fund the war. Congress will be acting on this request sometime after October. We are opposed to the appropriation of any more funds for the war and occupation of Iraq. Go here to get news on what's happening in Congress and what you can do .

October 27 will be our opportunity to gather together in large numbers to publicly and visibly send a loud and clear message with great impact on the political system. In Salt Lake City we will gather on the west side of the State Capital starting at 11am for a 12noon march down the hill past the Federal Building for a 1pm rally at the City-County Building.

We the People for Peace and Justice, the broad _ad hoc_ coalition which came together to organize the large rally of 5,000 Utahns when President Bush was here August 30, 2006 is organizing Salt Lake's October 27 demonstration. The overall budget for this ambitious protest will be about $6,000. So far we have raised about half this amount from individual donations and from group sponsorships.

We are asking organizations to join in sponsoring October 27 by making a minimum donation of $100. Already the Wasatch Coalition for Peace and Justice, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace, U.S. Labor Against the War, Utah Democratic Progressive Caucus, Military Families Speak Out, Mormons for Equality and Social Justice, Green Party of Utah, and the Campus Committee for Peace and Justice at the University of Utah have decided to become sponsors.

Would your organization(s) care to join these Utah groups and chapters of national organizations in sponsoring October 27? We need your political and financial support! Checks should be made out to "October 27 Committee" and can be sent to the address below. Individual donations are also welcome of course.

Get involved in the movement! The next October 27 organizing meeting is Tuesday evening October 16, starting at 6:30pm in the first floor conference room of the SLC downtown public library. Help spread the word, distribute leaflets and flyers, volunteer to help with the logistical work on October 27.

Thanks for your support for peace and justice,
Dayne Goodwin, Treasurer
for the Finance Committee,
We the People for Peace and Justice

Dayne Goodwin
275 L Street, #4
Salt Lake City, Utah 84103-3542
801-364-0667

Libertarian Left

So, Derek over at A Liberal Mormon, put this test up on his blog, so I took it, too.

Your political compass


Economic Left/Right: -4.25

Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -5.90




Though, as I said in the comments on A Liberal Mormon, I think the writers of the test are biased, and might have an agenda. I don't feel like taking the time to figure out if that's true, but I would really like to take an unbiased version of the test and see where I fit.

Here's the chart where they calculate the current presidential candidates' views.
US Primaries Chart 2007

I guess theoretically, I should want Gravel or Kucinich for the next President, but that idea just doesn't fly with me. I'm not sure this chart is the appropriate way to decide on a president.

Take the test here.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Utah DOES Love Obama

According to the Deseret Morning News:
The state's Democrats, meanwhile, strongly favored Barack Obama. The Illinois senator had the support of 42 percent of Utah Democrats who said they planned to vote, compared to 18 percent who said they would vote for former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina and 16 percent for Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York.

This is very exciting to me, because it means all of the effort that Utah for Obama has made is paying off. It's very validating to see such support here. And it makes me want to do even more!

Utah for Obama is hosting another Walk for Change event next Saturday, October 13. If you're interested, the details are here. Last time we had 30 people, and I think our group has grown enough, and Utah support has grown enough, that we're aiming for the lofty goal of 200 people joining us. The campaign is supplying materials, and if the weather's nice, that means we'd be able to reach over 3,000 homes. Last time, we knocked on 979 doors.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Congressman Jim Matheson: responding to your email

Jim Matheson, Working for Utah's Second District
October 5, 2007

Dear Ms. Fowler,

Thank you for sharing your concerns regarding the temporary reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA). I appreciate your interest in the issues facing our country and state, and I am glad for the opportunity to respond to your inquiry.

In the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks, Congress specifically proposed changing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 in order to make it easier to obtain warrants to conduct wiretapping and surveillance. There is no question that if conversations are taking place between terrorists, we want to know about the content of those phone calls in order to prevent future terrorist attacks. Unfortunately, the Bush Administration opposed those changes at the time, which was a mistake. The proper course of action is to ensure that Congress establishes good laws that safeguard American lives and civil liberties.

Congress recently adopted legislation that temporarily extends updated FISA legislation for six months. The legislation permits the U.S. Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence to authorize the collection of foreign intelligence about individuals reasonably believed to be outside the United States. Although this legislation does not require that the foreign intelligence court established under FISA authorize warrants, it does require the Justice Department to share information regarding its methods with the FISA court for the court's review. Finally, the legislation also requires semi-annual reports be made to the appropriate Congressional committees regarding intelligence gathering operations conducted under the authority of this legislation. I voted for this legislation, which passed the U.S. House by a vote of 227-183, and was signed into law by the President in August 2007.

However, I believe that Congress mistakenly delayed the process of formally reviewing FISA. Had Congress held more oversight hearings and done more in terms of exploring the weaknesses and strengths of the 2001 legislation, I believe that we would have enacted a more sensible long-term law, instead of this patchwork approach. Fortunately, a more deliberative process is currently underway, and it is my hope that a reasonable FISA reauthorization bill will be enacted sometime this year.

Again, thank you for sharing your concerns with me. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact my office.

Sincerely,


JIM MATHESON
Member of Congress

Deadly Force From A Firm Called "Blackwater"?



I would have just thought it was a drink, myself.

(H/T Boing Boing)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Fucking Outrageous

Excuse the headline, but it was either that or "what the fucking fuck fuck?"

Blackwater to guard feds investigating Blackwater.

On Monday, the FBI announced that it would be sending “a team to Iraq to investigate the role of Blackwater USA in last month’s shoot-out in Baghdad that killed 11 Iraqis.” Today, the New York Daily News reports that the investigators “will be protected by bodyguards from the very same firm” that they are investigating. “What happens when the FBI team decides to go visit the crime scene? Blackwater is going to have to take them there,” a senior U.S. official said.


Seriously, this makes me want to cry, because it seems that maybe there's no hope left. And if there isn't it's the American people's fault for letting Bush & Co get away with things like this.

Where's a brick wall to bang my head on when I need it?

The best of what the Democratic Party is all about

Rob posted Wayne Holland's remarks to the Committee on Education and Labor. As I read through it, I couldn't help but think that Wayne represented the best of what the Democratic Party is all about. He is standing up for people who can't do it themselves, making a way for them to be able to in the future. Sometimes we (Democrats) are accused of wanting to support people who just won't do it for themselves, but this is part of why I think that view is skewed.

The workers in that mine, and other non-union mines around the country, cannot speak up when there's an unsafe condition, or they think something is wrong. This could easily be traced politically to lay blame. While accountability is needed, the issue of the future has to be addressed too. The way things stand, they would lose their jobs if they spoke up, and today people are dead because of it - we can't let more people die when there's something we can do about it. So, Wayne is speaking up for them, asking the House to implement already existing laws, and protect them further with new ones. He wants those people to be able to speak up without fear of losing their jobs, so that they don't have to also live with the fear of losing their lives when it could be prevented.

That's why I believe in the Democratic Party the way I do right now. I don't think it's always perfect, or that it aligns with every ideal I have. But, when it comes down to it, the Democratic Party stands up for people who can't do it on their own, and brings society together to make it better as a whole. And the big picture is the one that matters.

So, thank you Chairman Holland, for this, and everything you do.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

'08 Bumper Stickers

  • My Other Car is The Straight Talk Express (which is a car now, because they cannot afford the bus)

  • The Angel Moroni is my copilot.

  • America must end its dependence on foreign gas, grass, and ass.

  • “Well-behaved women seldom marry Rudy Giulaini.”

  • If this van’s Baracking, withdraw from Iraq(ing)

  • Honk if You Regret Your Vote Authorizing the War

  • If you can read this, Tom Tancredo might not deport you

  • Ask me about Ron Paul, the North American Union, "the security and prosperity project," and/or the secretive "American currency union." Actually, just talk to me, please, I am desperately lonely.

  • I'm like Hillary - Do not try to pass me on the right OR the left

  • Ron Paul - Not the 'W'orst Texas can do.

  • Another crazy old man for Mike Gravel!

  • Kucinich '08:
    Because America Deserves a First Lady Who's A Smokin' Hot Fox

  • Obama '08: Sexier without a shirt than the French President

  • If you're insane vote McCain.

  • My other car is covered in dogshit

  • Pelosi '07

  • 1.20.09 The end of an error

  • Our next president should be fluent in at least one language

  • elect ability

  • Join the GOP, there's plenty of room in the closet

  • (not)Bush/(not)Cheney '08

  • Re-elect Gore 2008

  • Have you Googled Ron Paul?

  • I think, therefore I vote

  • Fred Thompson - Southern Fried Reagan

  • When Bush took office gas was $1.46

  • Obama - this time I want a smart president

  • Obama - Because a president's IQ should be 3 digits

  • Megatron/Starscream '08

  • Bush's third term: prison

  • Had enough? Vote Democrat


Feel free to add to the list.

Disclaimer: I saw some of these on Wonkette first, but the collection is all over the net, and I added to it.

Bureaucracy at it's finest

According to KCPW, Utah is seeing an influx of Burmese refugees. I recently wrote about the problems going on in Burma right now, but most of these people have spent the last 10 years in refugee camps in Thailand or Malaysia.

These people have literally been stuck in the refugee camps for those 10 years. They had resettlement applications in, however as part of the process, they were asked if they had given food or anything else to certain organizations, which are considered terrorist groups by the US government, they answered that they had. Apparently, it didn't matter that they gave these things over because of a gun pointed at their head. They were supporters of terrorism, which made them non-people, and ineligible for resettlement here in the states.

Ineligible until now, that is. They've had advocacy groups working for them, and they were finally able to get the applications expedited.

This is just one example that makes me believe that "getting involved" is not a waste of time. The advocacy groups did get involved, and eventually were able to make a difference for about 10,000 people. So, if you're one of those people who sit around and bitch about how bad things are, but don't really do anything (that was me 2 years ago), please reconsider. You can make a difference.

Ron Paul Signs

I can't help but wonder why, if Ron Paul is such a great candidate, his supporters need to break the law to tell everyone? I'm fairly certain there's a law or two being broken with the signs up on the overpasses. I even saw one in Draper attached to the batting cage in a public park. Or is Ron Paul sponsoring Little League now?

If I'm wrong, and what they are doing is legal, please enlighten me. I think the Obama logo could definitely spruce up Salt Lake City.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Leg Custody Battle

I thought that the story about the group trying to get a chimp declared a person was odd. But this one really has me scratching my head, and trying to refrain from bad puns.

I'd heard about the first part the other day - some guy had his leg amputated, and left it in a smoker, because he wanted to be "buried whole" when he died. Apparently, there's more to the story, now:
A South Carolina man who stored his severed leg in a barbecue smoker that was later auctioned off is locked in a custody dispute with the North Carolina man who found it.

[...]

Whisnant initially gave it to police, who subsequently turned it over to a funeral home when it became clear it was not the result of foul play.

But Whisnant, who put a sign on the empty smoker charging adults $3 and children $1 for a look, now wants the leg back.

[...]

Whisnant, who was unsuccessful in his bid to get the leg from the funeral home, consulted with a lawyer and decided his best move was to persuade Wood to share custody and profits.


So, Whisnant, the guy who found the leg, lost custody of it in court. Oh, it's so hard not to make a pun here!

What a strange world we live in....

A Load of Crap

I've read a lot of blogs today that have made me so mad that I couldn't comment for fear I'd call them f*^%tards and not be able to help myself.

Here's an example. Craig, of KVNU, diagrees with Huntsman's actions, or lack thereof, so he brings up something totally unrelated:
This has me pretty aggravated. The Governor, who campaigned on vouchers, and signed them into law, is choosing to keep a low profile during the current debate.

He claims that it’s enough for him to state his support for vouchers when asked about it, and to personally vote for it in November. But as a voucher proponent, I say that’s not nearly enough. Since he campaigned on this issue, what he’s doing now, in abandoning vouchers in the 11th hour, amounts to breaking his campaign promise in my eyes.

It’s not as if he’s too busy to campaign for it. All he’s been doing recently is pushing his ridiculous “Lights Out” program and attending meetings on climate change, neither of which will have any effect on his constituents.

If he doesn’t want to come out and fight for the voucher program over the next month, then I see no reason why I should support him next November.

Ok, the last paragraph I can understand. Don't vote for someone who doesn't do things the way you want them to. That's kinda why we vote, right? But he starts off complaining that Huntsman's not doing enough on the voucher issue, and then implies that Huntsman is turning all liberal or something, and he's spending so much time on climate change that he's neglecting his duty to support vouchers. Ok, idiotic, yes. But what really got me is that Craig actually believes that "Lights Out" and climate change will have NO EFFECT on Huntsman's constituents. Is that because the only people that count in this state are the ultra-right wing conservatives who think that climate change is a hoax? None of the rest of us (or logic) matters. I'm just so dumb-founded by this utterly ridiculous notion of some sort of supremacy granting these people special knowledge of things that contradict reality.

Then there's the debate on Mathias' blog. Apparently, there's a group that wants to take care of a chimp but were told that the chimp's guardians had to apply to court for that, but then were told that the chimp couldn't have a guardian because it wasn't a person. Very odd story about people trying to use strange loopholes in the law to get a problem resolved. However, Dave, in the comments somehow tied chimps into homosexuality, saying "Suddenly, all the slippery slope arguments about gay "marriage" aren't sounding so silly after all."

The conversation only got more confusing from there. I started to reply, pointing out that the root of Christianity and Islam is one and the same, and that it's absurd to react the way some of the commenters on the blog did, but again, I just couldn't post because I was a little irritated, a little bewildered, and mostly I don't think my comments were going to change the attitudes of these people, so I gave up. I guess that was the most Christian thing I could do, because God never asked me to force reason and love on anyone else, He just asked me to show them. But it still makes me mad to see bigotry in the name of God.

The Utah blog-o-sphere seems to be full of IT today, but thankfully, several of my favorite bloggers wrote something worth reading.

Ok, venting done, I feel better.