Saturday, November 18, 2006

Michael Moore's (poached) pledge

Not sure how much press this will get, but Michael Moore's pledge ("By Michael Moore") has at least been published in the LA Times opinion section. It's a thought-provoking read... but as it turns out, it wasn't his thoughts it started out as.

In a reddit posting that links to the pledge (which is how I came by it), the following comments are made:

tokenbondboy 17 points 7 hours ago
Didn't he just plagiarise that from someone? I swear I read a somewhat shorter version of that last week.

joshwa 16 points 5 hours ago
yep, he plagiarised it:
I know the original author personally, in fact.

And that link points back to the source article here. "The Witch" and MM both have good, but different points. The main issue, though, is that MM and/or the LA Times never even gave credit when MM clearly had seen this in some version and simply tweaked it to his own version. All it would have taken was a "This [source] has been floating around the web - here's my version..."

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Abramoff naming names article - mysteriously missing?

One of the top articles in the Newsgator Latest Buzz section in my RSS was an article about Jack Abramoff - but when I clicked on it, it took me to a dead page. That's never happened from my experiences with Newsgator Latest Buzz before, so my curiosity was piqued.

I checked over at TailRank, and there are tons of similar articles, but when any cite that a source article, it's always that dead ABC url...

So my posting was going to be about how yes, it's interesting/disappointing that JA was going to name not only Democrats but also Karl Rove, but that the more interesting story might be how quickly he's being spirited away given that timing.

But now I don't get to post about that, since the article's not there... okay, taking off the tinfoil.

Hoyer wins, Murtha and Pelosi lose

I'm glad to see that Steny Hoyer ended up winning, despite Speaker Pelosi's intervention. I don't know much about the guy, and I don't really care about the appearances factor of changing her stance from neutral to supportive, but it was just done in such a shady way and flew in the face of the bold First 100 Hours commitments:

"Our New Direction begins with a commitment to integrity, civility, and fiscal responsibility."

Hopefully she'll get the message... the 2006 elections showed that we want to support you. Now don't blow it.

In the meantime, there's an interesting article about how Blue Dog Democrats were the real winners... not knowing what Blue Dog Democrats are, I looked them up in Wikipedia. I like the concept, but with Gary Condit as one of the notable members, I'm not sure it's the group for me. Better than either of the two typical party lines though...

Monday, November 13, 2006

Pelosi Puts Weight Behind Murtha in Leader Bid... Politics as Usual

The 2006 elections showed that our participation does still matter, and we find ourselves in a situation in which there are high hopes for Nancy Pelosi to bring strong, intelligent change and not stoop to underhanded politics.

I was disappointed, then, to read the story of her support thrown for Congressman John Murtha, when it looks like Steny Hoyer had been a clear and reasonable frontrunner. Quick research on Congressman Hoyer shows that he has had one minor issue recently, one overblown for shock value in my opinion, but seems relatively clean other than that.

While Hoyer and Pelosi had competed in the past, we need clean choices right now, not people who will do her bidding. I'm not familiar enough with either candidate to know if there were other reasons for her backing of Murtha instead of Hoyer, but it certainly seems like a case of mutual loyalty over fairness.

I'd hoped for better from the incoming Speaker of the House.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Warrantless Wiretaps Unlikely to Be OK'd

Warrantless Wiretaps Unlikely to Be OK'd

I don't think warrantless wiretaps are necessary to protect us, but I do actually think they could be helpful if only used when really needed for speed (i.e., the days leading up to 9/11 etc.).

However, the way it's been presented reminds me of my Prop 87 thoughts - you think "Absolutely, I'll vote Yes because I love the environment" until you dig a little deeper and see it's not quite what you would have liked to see. This one's the opposite; I initially thought "no way in the world", until I read the last two paragraphs here.

This warrantless wiretapping issue has been out there for months, why has it taken this long for the media to even mention the less-sinister, more-balanced details? I feel frustration there, and also with the administration's bad communication making it look worse than if they just addressed their efforts more clearly.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Injury to insult

Candidate gets no votes -- but he voted for himself.

Please somebody, point me to an action plan to help get our voting system reliable by 2008. :-(

100%+ voter turnout

While getting out the vote is good, it's disturbing when voter turnout surpasses 100%.

In Gateway, a town of 122 people, 199 votes were cast in an uncontested mayoral race. In the Pea Ridge, 3,997 votes were cast in a contested mayor's race for the city of 3,344 people.

Key Republican joins Dems opposing Bolton nomination

Key Republican joins Dems opposing Bolton nomination - sure he's a lame duck just like Bush, but at least he's not just following party lines. I'd love to hear examples of Democrats voting for Republican issues too.

Even more than that, I'd love to feel like average citizens don't have to work so hard to hold our representatives up to a level of intellectual integrity while they get to earn the $150,000+ salaries. It's nice to see things are moving in that direction, and I hope everyone's eyes will stay on the ball until that becomes the norm rather than the exception.

A bigger note to me from the article isn't really focused on except this line: "Along with Bolton's nomination, Bush said he would like to move forward on legislation to retroactively authorize the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program."

I'm flabbergasted every time I read something like that. Am I right in reading it as that the NSA is already violating the law in wiretapping without warrants, and are now looking to Bush to say it was okay? Similar to the Military Commissions Act, saying what had happened in the past also was accceptable under the new umbrella (which hadn't been in place at the time)? I hope this proposal gets shot down quickly with Democrats having more power and with all sides hopefully voting with their heads instead of their party.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Healthy election results, but still lots of work to be done

Healthy election results, but still lots of work to be done, as evidenced here, here and here.

I'm not gay, but I think it's a disgrace the number of partnership rights Americans choose to take away from their fellow citizens based solely on their sexual preference.

How do you compare to your platform?

Interesting quiz - here's mine:

I wish they had an additional bracket line right at the middle so you could see where you were a centrist, but regardless, nothing too surprising there. "Leans slightly left, but significantly agrees with Republicans in some areas."

Voter Tool added: CNN Election 2006 page, other tools desired

Great elections page over at CNN added to the sidebar - it looks like results were maintained relatively real-time. They've also got a really good "key ballot measures" section across all states. I'm not sure how long ahead of the elections the key measures were identified for tracking, but it would have been interesting to know well in advance.

I'm still also looking for tools that predict ballot results well ahead of time, so I could determine where to spend more time determining which disagreements I have with the majority on key issues. Whether it's because I need to gain further perspective or whether others do, I'd feel better if I understood the difference in those perspectives and could follow up with appropriate action.

I additionally would like to find the most effective ways to help determine what gets on the ballot, from an outsider's perspective (i.e., write my congressman? etc.) - and additionally, to help uncouple the objectionable parts that don't seem necessary (for example, in the cigarette tax proposition, the monopolistic advantage it also granted to hospitals in pricing), so that we can move forward with progress.

I'll likely add an ongoing "Voter Tools wish list" section in the sidebar above my voting intentions (less relevant now that the results are in).

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Election results

Reflecting on my votes versus what won:

Prop 1A: YES
Prop 1B: NO
Prop 1C: NO
Prop 1D: NO
Prop 1E: NO
Prop 83: NO
Prop 84: YES
Prop 85: NO
Prop 86: YES
Prop 87: YES
Prop 88: NO
Prop 89: YES
Prop 90: YES
Measure P (Pleasanton): YES
Governor: Arnold Schwarzenegger (R)
Lt. Governor: John Garamendi (D)
Sec of State: Debra Bowen (D)
Controller: John Chiang (D)
Treasurer: Mehul Thakker (Green)
Attorney General: Jerry Brown (D) or Chuck Poochigian (R)
Insurance Commissioner: Steve Poizner (R)
Board of Equalization: Betty Yee (D)
United States Senator: Dianne Feinstein (D)
United States Rep: Jerry McNerney (D)
CA State Senator: Ellen Corbett (D)

So of the 25 key votes, I was satisfied with 60% of the results (15 out of 25). Ouch!

The main proposition I was sad to see fail was Prop 89 - it lost and it lost resoundingly. I'd like to hear why folks voted No so strongly.

Also sorry to see Mehul Thakker for Treasurer get so few of the votes, but I don't really know that much about him so maybe other folks knew more than me.

While I was fiscally conservative on the prop 1's, I wasn't horribly saddened to see them pass and will undoubtedly enjoy the benefits. Glad to see Prop 84 pass as well.

Prop 83 (sex offenders) still seems like overkill to me, but won resoundingly.

Glad to see Prop 85 fail, but wow, 3 million Yes votes - I'd be interested to hear why people voted this way. I wonder if it's because it sounded good on the surface, and folks just didn't know better - or if they really had a solid reason for voting as they did, and I just didn't get it. I don't know which alternative would make me feel worse!

Interesting that both Prop 86 and Prop 87 failed - I'd like to hear from folks their reasons for voting No (I'm familiar with the antitrust issue within Prop 86 and have voiced my only gripe with Prop 87 in other posts, but had been expecting them both to pass).

How did the results match up with your votes?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

More voter tools added, included real-time analyses

I finally found a good site for real-time predictions based on developments: (also in the sidebar). It's one step toward the real-time stats I was shooting for. I was also glad to see that they have an RSS feed (which I subscribed to), and they have an interesting poll every day too (demographics, approval ratings, etc.).

I added a couple other tools too - probably too late for this election cycle, but hopefully all of them will come in handy in 2008...

Friday, November 03, 2006

Three new voter tools added - famous documents

I added three important documents to the Voter Tools tonight: the United States Constitution, the United States Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence.

Notice that I started at Wikipedia - while I don't think it's always the most factual, typically an effort has been made to present information in an impartial light. I wasn't looking for conspiracy theories or anything, but it gave me pause when I re-read more than the (famous) first line of the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the governed.
That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is in the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security.
While I don't lean far left, this naturally brings the current administration to mind. Imagine, then, when I came upon this: Bush Moves Toward Martial Law, Thursday, 26 October 2006 (a provision making it easier for the President to declare martial law, stripping state governors of part of their authority over state National Guard units in domestic emergencies).

Is this a reasonable move in avoiding a second major terrorist attack, or is it as over the line as it feels...?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

New tool added: Black Box Voting (no RSS)

I added a new Voter Tool today: Black Box Voting. They don't have an RSS feed, but I sent them an impassioned plea to establish one.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

John Kerry: Insult or botched joke aimed at Bush?

I can't decide if John Kerry meant to imply that Iraq is for uneducated soldiers, or that Bush's bad Iraq decisions were a result of his education (which on paper actually looks great). This seems to be the closest to being able to judge for yourself:

Either way, it's funny the attention this is getting when he's not even on the ballot for anything...

Changing vote on Prop 87 to YES

After chewing on Norkizzle's last argument in the comments, I think it's a good one. I've decided to vote YES on Proposition 87. That said, I would also love to see a tax on FOREIGN oil that I could back as well.