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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Hibernation

I am officially putting the Blue Moose into hibernation.

I am blogging quite frequently about politics on the front-page of the national blog MyDD.com, with the occasional religious muse, personal update, and video at Wayward Episcopalian.

I launched Blue Moose shortly before my role at MyDD increased. I was bored at home all day before my job started and wanted an outlet for political thoughts without overloading Wayward. It was a great idea, but not well-timed. I am keeping the website URL and archives in case I wish to revive it down the road, which I just might.

Wayward is also either past or in between its glory days, but it still holds personal importance to me and I do touch it from time to time. I should get better about updating Wayward, but as for the moose, he hibernates for now. Check his den every now and then - he may come out to play again.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Help Wanted

Taken in December at a Coeur d'Alene, ID naval recruiting office. Someone has a sense of humor...


Friday, February 26, 2010

"Balancing" the Climate Debate in South Dakota

Troubling news out of South Dakota. This reminds me of the Texas school board trying to scrub history, or of Kansas emphasizing that evolution is only a "theory," never mind that scientific theories are different than daily life theories or that gravity is a theory too.

South Dakota School of Mines & Technology professors say they are already doing exactly what a House resolution seeks when urging the state's public schools to present students with all sides of the climate change debate.

An amended version of House Concurrent Resolution 1009 narrowly passed the Senate Wednesday with a 18-17 vote. It passed the House last week with a 36-30 vote.

The resolution, which does not have the force of law, asks schools that present the threats of global warming to balance the information with the skeptical view of climate change as well.

"If you're going to teach science and there are two sides, you need to teach both, or it's about politics," said Republican state Rep. Don Kopp.

Two sides??? Over 70 major scientific organizations, including NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the World Meteorological Organization, say that climate change is real and that we can affect it. Six are neutral, and none oppose it.

But because the occasional sociological journal says otherwise, and because Exxon knows how to put scientists on its payroll, South Dakota students have to be taught this claptrap? I've got a better idea. How about we just teach them:

THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD.

Dammit.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Health Care Meets Star Wars

Well if it isn't just a day of Congressional Republican silliness. The Hill's headline: "Heading into healthcare summit, Republicans fear Obama trap."

Ladies and gentleman, your new Senate Minority Leader:

Petty Squabbles

From Politico:

So now Democrats and Republicans are arguing about podiums and who gets to sit at the adult table at the health care summit.

Republicans don't want President Obama to have a podium, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell insisted on a larger negotiating table, Glenn Thrush and Carrie Budoff Brown report in POLITICO this morning.


Reminds me of Newt Gingrich's tantrum about seating on Air Force One. How'd that work out for him?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Western Outrage as Interior Dept. Discusses New Monuments

Either I need to temporarily abandon this blog or post more often... this middle ground just isn't working. C'est la vie, for now.

Here's an interesting article from the New York Times that says the Interior Department has a list of 14 places in 9 western states that might potentially be considered for designation as new National Monuments under the American Antiquities Act. Politicians and activists all across the West are outraged because they don't feel they've been consulted, and they're still smoldering over having no say in the sudden loss of 1.7 million acres to a new monument under President Bill Clinton. The Interior Department insists that these talks are premature and that no decisions will be made. My fellow westerners aren't satisfied.

“Given the lingering frustration felt by many Utahns, following the 1996 ‘stroke of the pen’ monument designation, it is totally inappropriate for this federal agency to even have preliminary discussions without involving the stakeholders on the ground,” said Representative Jim Matheson, Democrat of Utah, a state that had two of the possible new monuments on the list, the San Rafael Swell and Cedar Mesa.

In Montana, an area of unplowed grassland called the Northern Prairie was listed on the Interior Department memorandum, discussed as a possible home for a new national bison range. But the state’s representative at large, Denny Rehberg, a Republican, said in a statement, “The Antiquities Act was never intended as an end-run around the will of the people nor as a land-grab device for East Coast politicians.”

Methinks that Rep. Matheson is getting a bit ahead of himself. He's right, state voices should be involved in any real discussions, but how the heck can the "stakeholders" by included if they're not identified first? That's all the Department's list does - identify which areas it would like to look at. Can't contact the "stakeholders on the ground" if you haven't even located that ground first.

I'm a big fan of conservation. Agriculture is a great thing, but looking at the global numbers of food already in production, it's not an industry that needs to be expanded. Reformed, yes; expanded, no. Land is for far more than resource use. Resource use is fine, but only when done responsibly, and growth isn't always the responsible course. I don't know much about the 14 sites on the Interior Department's list, and some of them may well be unworthy of Monument status, but I doubt all of them are and will watch this story with interest.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Would Ben Nelson Ever Switch Parties?

You've got to wonder about my Senator, Ben Nelson (D-NE).

His re-election looms in 2012, and he's started to tack even harder hard to the right than usual. He supported his party's top priority, health care reform, but only after he won major conservative and parochial concessions on abortion and Medicare. He watered down the stimulus. He's not likely to support one of the next major initiatives, clean energy reform. And now he will oppose one of the President's appointees to the National Labor Relations Board because Republicans and businesses think the man is too pro-labor, never mind that a Democrat won the White House with 53% of the popular vote.

Politico's Manu Raju:

Nelson, a conservative Democrat up for reelection in 2012, has seen his approval ratings drop sharply since he lent his support for Obama's health care bill in December and secured deals for Nebraska's Medicaid payments.

His latest decision could help him tout his independent credentials back home, but will likely generate anger from the left, which says Becker is a well-qualified nominee who has been denigrated by his opponents.


One has to wonder. If Nelson is willing to abandon his positions when the politics get perilous, might he be willing to abandon his party if the politics get even worse? If the economy doesn't improve by November 2010 and Republicans make big gains, will Nelson switch parties for his re-election run? I'm sure if we asked his office they would vigorously deny that the thought has ever crossed his mind, but that's what Arlen Specter was saying just hours before his 2009 switch, too.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Morning Joe's Greatest Guest Ever

The Big Man on MSNBC! YES!!!!

(For those who don't know, that would be Clarence Clemons, the saxaphone player for Bruce Sprinsgteen and the E Street Band. He is the shiz.)

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy



I *HAVE* to have this book!!!

Monday, February 1, 2010

NBC Nightly News on the Budget and Defense Waste

I just watched two NBC Nightly News segments, one with White House Correspondent Chuck Todd about President Obama's just released budget and the other with correspondent Lisa Myers about wasteful defense spending. Both segments bother me.

In the first, Todd discussed the new budget, and focused on the deficits. The budget does trouble me - since the Iraq war is winding down, the economy is improving, and there is no 2010 stimulus package, the deficit should be going DOWN, not UP. However, I have two questions about Todd's reporting. First, he said that the budget assumes health care reform will pass, and that if it does not, the deficit will actually be $0.1 trillion MORE. This is blatantly untrue - as the Washington Post reports, the budget the takes cost cutting measures necessary if reform does NOT pass. Second, Todd said that if they economy does not keep recovering at its current pace, deficits will be larger than projected. Why the negativity, Chucky T? Why not also point out that if the economy recovers faster, than deficits will be smaller? I like Chuck Todd, but he fell flat tonight.

The next segment was on the C-17, a great plane that the Pentagon loves but says it has enough of. And yet, Congress wants to force the Pentagon to buy 10 more at a cost of $2.5 billion. This is typical Defense pork - as John McCain pointed out in the segment, the subcontractors that build the planes have factories "in every state and in most districts." Others counter that canceling the planes would cost 30,000 jobs - the problem is, $2.5 billion divided by 30,000 is $83,333. Surely there are more efficient ways for the government to create or save 30k jobs - if saving jobs is our goal, how come we have to use the $2.5 billion for 30k of them rather than 50k or 60k? But while I agree with the tone of the NBC report on this wasteful Congressional spending and the President's opposition to it, I don't like the fact that the segment was named "The Fleecing of America." Since when it is the network news' job to take positions on public policy? Ask tough questions, yes; imply that certain opinions are the right answers to those questions, no.

I like Brian Williams and his crew, but tonight, not so much. Video will be available at NBC's website later tonight.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Corporations Aren't People

Loved this commentary from Justin Fox on public radio's Marketplace today:

The ideal corporation [conservative economist Milton] Friedman described is out to do nothing but make as much money as it can, "within the rules of the game." It is supposed to behave in a supremely selfish and single-minded fashion. An individual who acted like that would be considered really unpleasant, maybe even psychopathic. The Supreme Court's decision frees corporations to play a potentially decisive role in shaping the "rules of the game," rules that they have to obey. It's a little like putting inmates in control of the asylum...

Equating corporate rights with individual rights, as the Court did, just doesn't smell right. If corporations are individuals, they are individuals with some pretty serious mental and emotional problems. You'd think any self-respecting judge would want to declare them incompetent.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Friday, January 22, 2010

Another Great Campaign Finance Quote

This one from Dalia Lithwick at Slate:

You can plainly see the weariness in Stevens eyes and hear it in his voice today as he is forced to contend with a legal fiction that has come to life today, a sort of constitutional Frankenstein moment when corporate speech becomes even more compelling than the "voices of the real people" who will be drowned out. Even former Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist once warned that treating corporate spending as the First Amendment equivalent of individual free speech is "to confuse metaphor with reality." Today that metaphor won a very real victory at the Supreme Court. And as a consequence some very real corporations are feeling very, very good.


Legal fiction that has come to life. A Constitutional Frankenstein. What great, and accurate, writing!

But as for me and mine, I'm going to stick my head back in the sand and listen to the Zac Brown Band's "Sic 'Em on a Chicken" for the fourth time in a row. It makes me happy.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Judicial Disaster

I generally don't care all that much for Senator Charles Schumer, but he nailed my thoughts about today's Supreme Court campaign finance decision with this quote:

"The bottom line is this: The Supreme Court has just pre-determined the winners of next November's elections. It won't be Republicans, it won't be Democrats, it will be corporate America."

Hey, Anthony Kennedy - why do you hate America?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Robertson And Limbaugh Are Not Good People

Rush Limbaugh has politicized the Haiti earthquake. Pat Robertson said it was punishment because Haiti made a deal with the devil. Keith-O smacks them down in awesome fashion: "Mr. Robertson, Mr. Limbaugh, your lives are not worth those of the lowest, meanest, poorest of those victims still lying under that rubble in Haiti tonight. You serve no good. You serve no God. You inspire only stupidity and hatred and I would wish you to hell, but knowing how empty your souls must be for you to be able to say such things at a time of such pain, I suspect that the vacant, purposeless lives you both live now are hell enough already."

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

On Race, History, Language, and "Negro Dialects"

My thoughts on the Harry Reid flap are at MyDD, but here's an addendum. Mark Kleiman of the Reality-Based Community said that the word "negro" was "the standard word for about the first half of Reid's life." And he's right. Unlike the real n-word, the African-American community itself (themselves?) used that word to refer to themselves for decades. It was in the early nineteenth century what "black" is now.

So Kleiman's comment got me thinking. Is it possible - no no, of course it's possible; is it likely - that in another fifty years, the words we use today will be at worst offensive, and at best historically anachronistic? Black. Brown. Race. Shirt. (Because in the late 1800s, "pants" was a swear word in England...)

The real n-word has always been a slur. Yes, at one point slurs were more common than they are today, but it's still nevertheless always been a slur. That's not the case with negro; negro was just the parlance of the day. So, what are the odds that the new parlance will go the same way? That in 2060, a prominent politician will get in trouble for calling someone "black"?