26 October 2010

600 km.-range electric Audi announced

While some of us (at least) have been celebrating the advent of the GM Volt, Germany's Audi has reportedly achieved a breakthrough in an all-electric vehicle (built on the subcompact Model A-2 platform) capable of a 600 km. (360 mi.) range.

See here for a rather skeptical view, which sounds a bit like sour grapes. But truth will out: if the Germans really have achieved a >115kWh battery that will actually fit in a small car and leave room for passengers, the era of acceptable-range electric vehicles may indeed be at hand.  

Still, the question of how much this car will/would cost in production also looms large; even if it's technologically feasible, if it costs 400,000 to manufacture, like the existing fuel cell prototypes capable of similar range do, it will not be making much of a dent in auto sales or greenhouse emissions. So, Audi, tell us more.

French protests more than just pension reform ○ Euro Press coverage

And if you want to know about the really fundamental protests in France, and what they really mean, forget the American press, try Der Spiegel Online again.

WikiLeaks Iraq ○ Der Spiegel's English langauge coverage

If you want readily available in depth coverage of the WikiLeaks Iraq documents recently released, you need to go to Der Spiegel Online's English page. Which itself says a lot about the state of news coverage in this country.

Right Wing Fringers would try to RADICALLY change America

In keeping with George Lakoff's principle of not accepting the frames the far Right wants to give everything, I refuse to use the word "Tea Party." What we are actually dealing with is a propagandized and secretly financed Far-right fringe group that has successfully channeled a good deal of the righteous populist rage that Democrats have been too politically inept in the last couple of years to make their own.

The candidates who claim this association, however, are truly radical far right wingers. I am certain, as certain as I am of anything in American politics (which isn't rock-solid, I'll admit), that if the majority of people who think of themselves as sympathetic to this phoney grassroots movement would realize that their so-called leaders actually believe the following established laws are unconstitutional and should be repealed, they would turn away from these wingnuts in droves:
  • Social Security
  • Medicare
  • Civil Rights Act and other Civil Rights legislation
  • Minimum Wage 
  • Unemployment Benefits
  • U.S. membership in U.N.
  • Health Care Reform
See this post.

With many of them, such as Ken Buck in Colorado, Christine O'Donnell in Delaware, and Sister Sarah, you could add that they (really quite incredibly) believe that the Constitution doesn't provide for separation of Church and State. (An amazingly ahistoric view, as anyone who's read any of the original documents on the subject from the time of the Founders would know. Not to mention that the language of the 1st Amendment could hardly be clearer).*
*«Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.»

22 October 2010

Just don't appeal DADT

This is a really excellent op-ed piece by UC Irvine Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky on why the Obama administration is wrong to appeal the DADT ruling.

21 October 2010

NPR Fires Juan Williams for bigoted remarks about Muslims... on Fox

Amidst all the brouhaha over Juan Williams's remarks on O'Reilly, I keep hearing people saying they will miss his NPR "analysis."

Well, I won't. Apart from the fact that I have largely stopped listening to NPR since it seems to be mostly filled with "soft news" fluff, and avoidance of meaty discussion of critical issues, I've found Juan Williams's commentaries to be insipid, uninsightful, and noticeably rightward-leaning for many years now; I will not miss them one bit.

You want meaningful commentary and insightful analysis? Listen (streaming or podcast if you don't live in L.A.) to the Daily Briefing Monday thru Thursday and Background Briefing Sunday mornings, hosted by Ian Masters on Pacifica station KPFK-FM. (KPFK has a lot of loony left people on its air, but Masters isn't one of them). See http://Kpfk.org ; click on "Audio Archives." These are far and away the best political commentary/interview shows on radio in this country, that I've been able to discover. Juan Williams looks like a toady in comparison. (Which, in my opinion, he is).

19 October 2010

Military Recruiters Ordered to Accept Openly Gay Recruits

This may be the best sign yet that DADT really is about to be cast into the trash can of history.

14 October 2010

Haley, please run

TPM reports the Repub powerbrokers are urging notorious bigot Haley Barbour not to run for pres in 2012. I say, no, no, Haley, please run! I'd love a primary fight between the half-term governess of Alaxa and this fatuous good ol' boy. And, let's face it, Democrats are going to need some help, because the country is obviously less than impressed by the job that's been done so far.

Pat Sajak thinks public employees should be disenfranchised

Pat Sajak, host of the hopelessly idiotic TV program Wheel of Fortune (of which I occasionally inadvertently see a few seconds because it comes on right after Jeopardy) posts on the hopelessly benighted National Review Online his view that public employees should not be allowed to vote.

Oh, and did I mention that Pat Sajak is a bigoted lunatic? His "logic" is so ridiculous it amazes me even the NR published it.

13 October 2010

Easy fulfillment of campaign promise: End DADT

I wrote to the White House today to urge the president to take a simple step that would fulfill one of his campaign promises easily and quickly: just order the DOJ not to appeal the injunction by Judge Phillips based on finding the military's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy unconstitutional.

There is no principled basis for the government to engage this legal fight. Atty. Gen. Brown and Gov. Schwarzenegger have given the president a model, in refusing to pursue an appeal of the ruling on Prop. 8 in California.

12 October 2010

Truly, has it come to this? GOP candidate defends Nazis

That we're expected to sit there and listen to a Republican candidate for national office (Rich Iott, Congressional Candidate, Ohio) defend the friggin' Nazis? Specifically foreign volunteers to the Waffen SS? This is just too much. That this guy isn't disowned by that party forthwith speaks volumes for their toleration of the intolerable.

07 October 2010

California (Southern) Progressive Recommended Votes this November

Personal Endorsements. I have done my best to research sites like Calitics and others to determine the best choices for a Progressive California. 

US Senate:                                           Barbara Boxer
Governor: Jerry Brown website
Lieutenant Governor: Gavin Newsom website
Secretary of State: Debra Bowen website
Controller: John Chiang  
Treasurer: Bill Lockyer website
Attorney General: Kamala Harris website
Insurance Commissioner: Dave Jones website
Superintendent of Public Instruction: Larry Aceves   .* Cal. League of Consv. Voters: Torlakson
Board of Equalization, District 1: Betty Yee website  

Board of Eq., District 4                     Jerome E. Horton

U. S. Representative, 28th                  Howard Berman

State Assembly 43rd Dist.                 Mike Gatto

Judicial: Supreme Court


Judicial: Court of Appeal
These are based on reports of these judge's political leanings and positions.


Judicial:  LA Superior Court

Office 28:  Mark Ameli
Office 117:  Alan Scheider
Office 136:  No endorsement, only one candidate running

L. A. County Assessor:    John Y. Wong

California Ballot Measures -- Recommendations

Yes on Prop 19: Legalize Marijuana - This vote is more symbolic than anything else because the Federal Govt. has so much control over drug laws and enforcement. Nonetheless, a yes vote could potentially bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue and save additional millions currently tied up in enforcing our failed prohibition; help to reduce the number of people arrested for small drug possession, relieving our crowded prisons and unburdening law enforcement to go after tougher criminals and harsher crimes; and cut drug cartel profits by eliminating the marijuana black market in California, hindering their ability to work in the US. Even if all we're doing is expressing the will of the people of the State, it's worthwhile.

No on Prop 20: Extending redistricting commission to Congressional races - Would take power to draw Congressional districts away from the Legislature and give it to the commission created by Prop 11 in 2008, putting California’s congressional redistricting process out of step with the rest of the country.

Yes on Prop 21: State parks - Fully funds state parks and allows Californians with current vehicle registration to enter all parks for free, funded by an $18/year increase in vehicle registration fee.

No on Prop 22: Proposition to protect Community Redevelopment from redistribution of funds --Los Angeles Times: "It's hard to see why redevelopment agencies' ever-growing share of local property taxes (at 12% statewide by one estimate) is more worthy of protection than school budgets, worker training programs or any of the other public services coming under the knife. Nor does it make sense to force the Legislature to use the general fund instead of fuel tax revenue to pay off existing transportation bonds, as Proposition 22 would do."

No on Prop 23: Dirty energy proposition - Funded by Texas oil companies, Prop 23 would destroy our green jobs and clean energy economy by effectively repealing our Global Warming Solutions Act, which was supported even by Republican Gov. Schwarzenegger. This is a particularly egregious example of out of state corporations attempting to buy policy change through the initiative process and the Right Wing Supreme Court's removal of almost all restrictions on anonymous use of corporate money in elections.

Yes on Prop 24: Repeal of Corporate Tax Breaks --Ventura County Star: "The bottom line: A new tax loophole or two won’t spur businesses to launch major investments in California; businesses do so only reluctantly because of the regulatory stranglehold in the state. And further tax cuts and loss of revenue will worsen conditions in the Golden State, making this state less appealing to those who want to live, work and do business here."

Yes on Prop 25: Majority vote budget - Restores majority rule and democracy to the state legislature by eliminating the 2/3rds rule for budgets that have enabled conservatives to obstruct progressive priorities. This initiative, sponsored by George Lakoff, is an important first step towards restoring majority rule in California.

No on Prop 26: Polluter protection - Creates a new 2/3rds rule for fees that fund environmental protection and other programs, protecting polluters and making it nearly impossible to implement many of California’s environmental laws, including our global warming law.

Yes on Prop 27: Eliminates redistricting commission - Eliminates the redistricting commission created by Prop 11 in 2008 to redraw state legislative boundaries and returns the task to the state legislature’s redistricting committee.

Here's a link to the Courage Campaign's voter guide on the propositions. 

06 October 2010

End this Endless War

For the past several years, I, along with probably most progressives, have been focused on the damage done to our economy by financial deregulation and misconduct, but lately I'm coming more and more to see the most debilitating cancer on our country's politics and economy as the endless war. Not just Iraq (which it just isn't true is over) and Afghanistan, but the whole culture of American empire and projection of military power as a policy in its own right. 

I believe it really is as stark as this: this must change, or we are doomed as a free society. We simply cannot muster the moral will or the resources to fix our economy, move forward to a post-oil energy system, or address the utter failure of the social contract which has manifested itself since 1980 (health care, full employment, infrastructure, energy independence, fostering a production economy... the list is long)... without first ending this culture of war as an end in itself. Even the financial debacle is, in my view, related: it is the failure of moral integrity as a nation which allowed it to happen. 

Even apart from that, the cost of these wars is crippling us: some estimates put the total cost of Iraq and Afghanistan at over five trillion dollars, about half our national debt. And for the first time in history, we have in the last decade been waging these wars mostly off the books, essentially without paying for them at all, instead encumbering our nation with unsustainable debt. If moral argument doesn't carry the day, the economic argument is strong: we can no longer afford both guns and butter; but in the post Cold-war world the need for a vast military machine actually waging war just doesn't make sense anymore.

We must reestablish the principle that only Congress may declare war, and that war may not prosecuted without its authorization (meaning its express declaration of war). This is, in fact, the only reasonable interpretation of the black letter of the Constitution, but we've chosen to ignore that, as a people, for far too long. We must also make make clear to our elected representatives that they must never authorize sustained warfare except in the face of direct military threat. We cannot use the need for law enforcement as an excuse to wage war, and we cannot allow wars to be prosecuted for any policy purpose other than actual defense of our nation. And we must dismantle the Military/Industrial/Congressional complex that Gen. Eisenhower warned us about fifty years ago, and end, even more particularly, the culture of military contracts and privatization of military functions. The resources and jobs involved can be redirected towards creating a renewable energy economy, rebuilding and extending our transportation and other infrastructures, and creating a society that works for its people. These kinds of jobs create a much greater multiplier effect than military contracting does anyway.

We have been prosecuting war without either truth or just cause, for years on end, and as a consequence, the people do not trust the government, and the government does not tell the truth or even enforce its own laws and principles. It is very much analogous to a cancer: it infects and destroys everything in the body politic.

The prospect of change is incredibly daunting: wresting control from the warhawks, who have their hands in almost everything (including most politicians in both parties) will be a huge struggle. But, even more than the failures of the financial sector, I am more and more convinced that it is this culture of war for its own sake that is the primary factor destroying what's left of the essential idea of America, and bankrupting her both morally and economically. 

If those of us who still love the real America, the America of the Constitutional Convention and the Bill of Rights, do not make the effort to force this rotten and evil system to change, we will reap the cruel and bitter harvest: the final end of liberal democracy as we had known it in our country. I just don't see how it can be any other way.

04 October 2010

DeMint: Sexually Active Unmarried Women And Gay Teachers Should Be Barred

Is this guy, whom the Party of No (Sense) treats as a big leader, for real?

So what are they supposed to do about it?

My reaction to news of the terrorism warnings to Americans in Europe is the same as Anne Applebaum's (in Slate): this does no good; short of just coming home, what are people supposed to do with these warnings?

Krugman points out a remarkable fact

"...every major contender for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination who isn’t currently holding office and isn’t named Mitt Romney is now a paid contributor to Fox News."

Me loving it

Even Rasmussen, a notoriously right-leaning polling org., finds Whitman now losing to Brown by 5 pts.

And TPM shows Boxer "surging."

At least our major candidates in California seem to be doing well.

Now let's hope the old saw about California being a harbinger for the rest of the nation holds true, and the electorate nationwide starts coming to its senses before it's too late, and ends up returning solid Democratic majorities to both houses of Congress.

UPDATE:   And TPM's poll average on the generic congressional ballot, which had been as high as 10pt. spread in favor of the Party of No (Sense), is now down to ~2%.

CONCLUSION: We can win this, and it's past time to get serious about mobilizing the base.