November 18, 2009

The Palin Chronic(les)

Disclaimer: I have not read and have no intention of reading Sarah Palin's "book". Based upon every review I've read and my own personal dislike of the former Republican Vice Presidential hopeful, my time would be better spent rubbing Purell in my eyes while gargle-singing the Star-Spangled Banner.

With that being said, I did happen upon a particularly strong and stinging review of the "book" that made me alternate between chuckling and crying. >>> GOING ROGUE.

If the "book" is even remotely close to this reviewer's presentation of it, there needn't anything else be said. Between Palin's crying foul over this week's cover of Newsweek being "sexist" and Andrew Sullivan's chronicling the odd lies of the former governor, I feel assured that the "book" is nothing more than a hubristic recounting of a political career built on preying upon the fears of the public and relying upon the unwillingness of the large media to call her out.

I wish there was some certainty within me to say that the circus will soon be over. But I have more than a sneaking suspicion that we're only in the beginning of a long and drawn-out Palin period.


October 30, 2009

New layout

As my 2 loyal readers know, I've been posting with less and less frequency since the election of President Obama. This isn't because I've grown dissatisfied with him, as I feel quite to the contrary. Blogging (writing more generally) used to be a fervent passion of mine and still does arouse my passions from time to time. However, with my work schedule being how it is, I find it increasingly difficult to read and research many of the nuclei which become an entire post.

I'm trying to avoid claiming that this a tremendously serious endeavor for me, as it has always been more of a hobby. But this hobby of mine has become harder to pursue, owing to time constraints and an increasingly firm unwillingness to say or do anything that will put my employment in jeopardy.

Does this mean that this is it? Bloggin Ryan is saying arrivederci to the blogosphere? Of course not. I mean, I just tried to clean out my template a bit. That shows some willingness to keep face and keep pressing on, yeah?

What it does mean is that the infrequent posting will remain as such for the foreseeable future... (with some spurts, undoubtedly).

Moving on.

November is National Novel Writing Month and the good people at the aforelinked NaNoWriMo encourage writers of all stripes to put down pages, unedited, for the entire month of November. It sounds like a brilliant good time and personally, I'm going to try to cobble together some pages to submit.

That's pretty much all for now, my dear 2 readers. Have a safe Halloween weekend!


September 24, 2009

New Yorkers to Obama: We'll Throw Our Own Bums Out, Thank You

A poll by Marist College in New York suggests that voters of all stripes think that President Obama overstepped when urging Governor David Paterson to not run for election in 2010. New Yorkers apparently aren't afraid to tell the Gov himself to take a hike, with 63% of all voters (D, R, and non-affiliated) believing Paterson should not seek the office in his own right.

Important takeaway: 65% of Dems, 1% more than Repubs, believe Paterson should not seek election.

(HT to TPM)

September 10, 2009

You lie! and other media notes.

While the media and talking heads are continuing to gnash about the outburst of Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), they are failing to meet a critical end of journalism: telling the truth. While Rep. Wilson's outburst gets played over and over, no member of the networks, broadcast or cable, is seeming to step up to the plate and call Wilson's outburst what it is: a lie itself.

Through emails and other newer versions of gossip, the lie that the President's and Democratic proposal will cover illegal immigrants continues to fester, in spite of the work of enterprising journalists and people just generally interested in the facts. So while the truth is that illegal immigrants would not be given cover under the bill as proposed, the mainstream media has no quarter for truth in their continued pursuit of "gotcha" moments and personality-driven infotainment.

This all brings me to a second point.

Earlier this week, reporters and former Presidents came together to honor the man who was at the vanguard of journalism for two decades, Walter Cronkite. The man who was, in President Obama's words, "a voice of certainty in a world that was growing more and more uncertain." This voice of certainty in uncertain times is something that is missing, because rather than give us solid answers free of bias, these so-called newsmen that we have today feed the fires of uncertainty and weigh us over with bias while claiming to be fair, balanced, and unbiased.

Between financial issues in the print media and the generally sad and sordid state of affairs in broadcast journalism, I find it to be little wonder that Americans as a whole are cynical regarding the state of affairs in this country.

Journalism needs to be rebuilt from the ground level. Frequently it is people whose only business in journalism is business that are making the decisions as to what can and should be reported and what can't and shouldn't be. Why not devolve the power of editorial to journalists and their cohorts instead of a corporate board of directors whose interest may be self-serving instead of serving the public interest?

I can't provide any answers... but maybe one day we can have a solution.


August 31, 2009

The 26 lies about health care reform that might be in your inbox.

FactCheck, as usual, does a brilliant job at digging through a widely-circulated email about the proposed health care reform in HR 3200.

Twenty-six Lies About H.R. 3200

Health care reform opponents frequently cite this email and the misinformation it contains as the basis of their opposition to what they call the socialization/communization of the country. Of course, if you feel compelled to read the bill yourself, you'll find very little in that email is valid.

August 11, 2009

Sanity from a Republican: Johnny Isakson on the "Death Panel" Lies

Senator Johnny Isakson, Republican from Georgia, talks common sense with Ezra Klein about the progress of health care reform in the Senate and debunks co-partisan Palin's outright lie about "death panels".

I'm going to copy and paste the interview in here for people on Facebook. Posting of this interview on this blog does not constitute a claim of ownership or authorship.

Is the Government Going to Euthanize your Grandmother? An Interview With Sen. Johnny Isakson.
Sarah Palin's belief that the House health-care reform bill would create "death panels" might be particularly extreme, but she's hardly the only person to wildly misunderstand the section of the bill ordering Medicare to cover voluntary end-of-life counseling sessions between doctors and their patients.

One of the
foremost advocates of expanding Medicare end-of-life planning coverage is Johnny Isakson, a Republican Senator from Georgia. He co-sponsored 2007's Medicare End-of-Life Planning Act and proposed an amendment similar to the House bill's Section 1233 during the Senate HELP Committee's mark-up of its health care bill. I reached Sen. Isakson at his office this afternoon. He was befuddled that this had become a question of euthanasia, termed Palin's interpretation "nuts," and emphasized that all 50 states currently have some legislation allowing end-of-life directives. A transcript of our conversation follows.

Is this bill going to euthanize my grandmother? What are we talking about here?

In the health-care debate mark-up, one of the things I talked about was that the most money spent on anyone is spent usually in the last 60 days of life and that's because an individual is not in a capacity to make decisions for themselves. So rather than getting into a situation where the government makes those decisions, if everyone had an end-of-life directive or what we call in Georgia "durable power of attorney," you could instruct at a time of sound mind and body what you want to happen in an event where you were in difficult circumstances where you're unable to make those decisions.

This has been an issue for 35 years. All 50 states now have either durable powers of attorney or end-of-life directives and it's to protect children or a spouse from being put into a situation where they have to make a terrible decision as well as physicians from being put into a position where they have to practice defensive medicine because of the trial lawyers. It's just better for an individual to be able to clearly delineate what they want done in various sets of circumstances at the end of their life.

How did this become a question of euthanasia?

I have no idea. I understand -- and you have to check this out -- I just had a phone call where someone said Sarah Palin's web site had talked about the House bill having death panels on it where people would be euthanized. How someone could take an end of life directive or a living will as that is nuts. You're putting the authority in the individual rather than the government. I don't know how that got so mixed up.

You're saying that this is not a question of government. It's for individuals.

It empowers you to be able to make decisions at a difficult time rather than having the government making them for you.

The policy here as I understand it is that Medicare would cover a counseling session with your doctor on end-of-life options.

Correct. And it's a voluntary deal.

It seems to me we're having trouble conducting an adult conversation about death. We pay a lot of money not to face these questions. We prefer to experience the health-care system as something that just saves you, and if it doesn't, something has gone wrong.

Over the last three-and-a-half decades, this legislation has been passed state-by-state, in part because of the tort issue and in part because of many other things. It's important for an individual to make those determinations while they're of sound mind and body rather than no one making those decisions at all. But this discussion has been going on for three decades.

And the only change we'd see is that individuals would have a counseling session with their doctor?

Uh-huh. When they become eligible for Medicare.

Are there other costs? Parts of it I'm missing?

No. The problem you got is that there's so much swirling around about health care and people are taking bits and pieces out of this. This was thoroughly debated in the Senate committee. It's voluntary. Every state in America has an end of life directive or durable power of attorney provision. For the peace of mind of your children and your spouse as well as the comfort of knowing the government won't make these decisions, it's a very popular thing. Just not everybody's aware of it.

What got you interested in this subject?

I've seen the pain and suffering in families with a loved one with a traumatic brain injury or a crippling degenerative disease become incapacitated and be kept alive under very difficult circumstances when if they'd have had the chance to make the decision themself they'd have given another directive and I've seen the damage financially that's been done to families and if there's a way to prevent that by you giving advance directives it's both for the sanity of the family and what savings the family has it's the right decision, certainly more than turning it to the government or a trial lawyer.

June 15, 2009

Green (!) Revolution and reminders of why the American system works.

While I haven't been reading any primary sources about the nascent rebellion amongst Mousavi supporters in Iran, Andrew Sullivan, Justin Gardner at Donklephant and Josh Marshall/TPM have been doing an admirable job following the tweets and reports coming out of Tehran and elsewhere in Iran.

Based upon all that information, it seems something is brewing Iran. Frustration over Ahmadinejad's isolating tendencies and crippling economic policies have boiled over following the purported outcome of the election - the Iranian authorities first having told Mousavi that he was victorious then only to announce that Ahmadinejad had trounced all takers, winning over 63% of votes cast.

People in and from Iran have been twittering allegations of fraud that appear extraordinarily consistent: ballot boxes stolen and burned, government clampdown on media during the final hours of the election, brute violence, et cetera. Now Mousavi's supporters have taken to the streets and are protesting the election, clashing with police and an internal group called Ansar-e Hezbollah. It appears, based on Sullivan's posting of tweets, that Ansar-e Hezbollah has been targeting college and university students and brutally attacking them.

Could you imagine that in the United States?

I can't.

Here's a link to English-language twitter feeds that Sullivan compiled: Following the Revolution in Iran.

Please discuss.


May 26, 2009

Sonia Sotomayor to replace Justice Souter

Judge Sotomayor's name has circulated much lately as a replacement for retiring Justice David Souter, so her nomination is a little anti-climactic. I can't say that I know much about her, other than she helped bring an end to the 1994-1995 baseball strike and was once considered by none other than GW Bush to fill the vacancy left by the retirement of Sandra Day O'Connor (which ended up going to Justice Alito).

All I've read about her suggests that she works hard at meeting concensus, something that sounds thematically consistent with this administration, and that her appointments have been supported by Republicans, including her initial appointment by George HW Bush.

So far, I like the sound of it.


April 3, 2009

Marriage statute in Iowa jettisoned by court

Justin over at Donklephant has a take on the shocking unanimous decision of the Iowa Supreme Court.

An excerpt of the opinion, emphasis mine:

We are firmly convinced the exclusion of gay and lesbian people from the institution of civil marriage does not substantially further any important governmental objective. The legislature has excluded a historically disfavored class of persons from a supremely important civil institution without a constitutionally sufficient justification. There is no material fact, genuinely in dispute, that can affect this determination.

We have a constitutional duty to ensure equal protection of the law. Faithfulness to that duty requires us to hold Iowa’s marriage statute, Iowa Code section 595.2, violates the Iowa Constitution. To decide otherwise would be an abdication of our constitutional duty. If gay and lesbian people must submit to different treatment without an exceedingly persuasive justification, they are deprived of the benefits of the principle of equal protection upon which the rule of law is founded.

March 14, 2009

The dream?

Mexicans, tacos, and undies:

Bad paintings of Barack Obama.

Wow, America. Wow.


February 25, 2009

Utah Gov. Huntsman: Credit where credit is due.

Jon Huntsman, the Republican governor of Utah, laid out the truest and most realistic assessment of his party's current state in a piece with the Washington Times.

Calling congressional GOP leadership "inconsequential", Gov Huntsman calls out his party's lack of principle, particularly in regards to spending, during the Bush administration and admonishes them for their hypocrisy in calling out Democrats for spending. Unlike Mark Sanford of South Carolina, Huntsman has no intention of turning away money from Washington, despite misgivings about the effects of the stimulus on government "size". The video embedded into the article is worth a watch.

Governor Huntsman gives a very refreshing take on what a real party in opposition should do, instead of pouting and behaving like a group of petulant four-year olds. The GOP needs more Huntsmans and fewer Sanfords, Boehners, McConnells, and, based on his reaction to the non-State of the Union, Jindals. Republicans, please be a party of active and creative opposition and not one of petulance and ignorance.

February 20, 2009

Conflict over Fairness Doctrine not over

Apparently Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) isn't satisfied with President Obama's non-support of the Fairness Doctrine.

Yes, I followed this from Drudge, but still, here it is.

What I find interesting is DeMint's assertion:

With the support of the new administration, now is the time for Congress to take a stand against this kind of censorship. I intend to seek a vote on this amendment next week so every senator is on record: Do you support free speech or do you want to silence voices you disagree with?

The Fairness Doctrine, in simplest description, requires broadcasters to provide two sides of an issue into a conversation broadcast. DeMint's assertion that the Fairness Doctrine would silence voices of disagreement is bollocks. To wit, the current media craze of yelling until you're red in the face to stifle your critics, à la O'Reilly's No-Spin Zone, seems to be more than effective silencing the voices of disagreement. If anything, I'd think that a fairness doctrine would help return a certain civility to the airwaves.

Senator DeMint, please tell me how giving equal time is censorship? Senator DeMint, please tell me how giving equal time is silencing voices of opposition?


UPDATE: Here is a link to DeMint's press release. Contact your local Congressional office and tell your Senator and Congressman that you oppose Senator DeMint's forced vote.

February 10, 2009

I am a winner and, darn it, people just plain like me.

Well, it might not be true that people like me, but I am this week's NPR Political Junkie's Scuttlebutton winner.


February 5, 2009

Tom Coburn: We're not bailing out the arts (or pastel lights!)

From TPM: What Does Tom Coburn Have Against Rotating Pastel Lights?

Buried within his amendment (note bolded emphasis):

None of the amounts appropriated or otherwise made available under this act may be used for any casino or other gambling establishment, aquarium, zoo, golf course, swimming pool, stadium, community park, museum, theater, arts center, or highway beautification project, including renovation, remodeling, construction, salaries, furniture, zero-gravity chairs, big-screen televisions, beautification, rotating pastel lights, and dry heat saunas.

So while we're tossing out the economic bathwater, we'll throw out the artisitic, historic, and community babies, according to Coburn.

Look, I think we should fund, with stimulus money, those bolded objects/facilities. Why? Instead of throwing money at banks to fund loans and pay executive salaries of $500,000, why don't we give money to smaller institutions that can help revitalize smaller communities? I really don't get the dyslogic that opponents of this idea spew forth - that it's communism, Comrade Obama!



January 30, 2009

Score one for team Kucinich

Every now and again, I think Dennis Kucinich has a terrific idea. This is one of them.

Cleveland Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich teamed up with Texas GOP Rep. Ted Poe on Thursday to demand that the Treasury Department force Citigroup to give up its $400 million stadium naming deal with the New York Mets baseball team.

The congressmen wrote a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner that observed the bank's finanical situation has worsened dramatically since it signed the Mets deal in 2006. Citigroup recently accepted billions of dollars in taxpayer bailout money and announced it's eliminating 50,000 jobs.

"The Treasury Department, which forced Citigroup corporate executives to give up their private jet, should also demand that Citigroup cancel its $400 million advertisement at the Mets field and instead being to repay their debt to the taxpayers," Kucinich said in a press statement.

Citigroup's mismanagement was astronomical. They shouldn't get fringe benefits like naming rights.

That being said, Quicken Loans Arena and Progressive Field? Never. The Gund and The Jake. Forever.


January 19, 2009

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr, Day, January 19, 2009. All across Athens this morning, from 9am to noon, and even going into this afternoon, people of all races gathered in common cause. We chose to participate in Athens' MLK Day of Service to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, whose efforts at social justice and equality for African Americans were made in concert with members of other communities, and not just his. We chose to participate in this in order to help the city of Athens and to demonstrate that by continually working together as separate communities, with differing ideals, we can yet perfect our greater community.

I left this morning at 8:25, for whatever reason anticipating a slow time in traffic. So upon arriving at the worksite at 8:30 I expected to wait. But that was not the case. Rather, a small contingent of volunteers had already arrived and we quickly began our task - to clean up the Greenway by College Ave and MLK Jr Drive and rid it of masses of overgrowth.

We did it. We didn't get paid for it. We did it out of our mutual love and respect of our community.

Today is now Wednesday, January 21, 2009.

President Obama, and what a thrill it is to write that!, has called upon us as Americans to renew our promise of greatness to our country. President Obama understands that getting us out of this current crisis of confidence requires more than empty words with ambiguous goals.

Yesterday, President Obama called on all of us to summon our strengths to pull together and renew our pledge to each other. It's a funny thing, really. We united as kids to recite the pledge of allegiance every day. Sure, you're pledging your allegiance to your country, but what else is there?

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

With liberty and justice for all. Maybe with the start of the new administration we might revisit what those words mean. They certainly mean more than spreading liberty in other lands while having liberties at home mocked by the people we charge to defend them. And justice will surely be granted, in the form of due process and trial by jury and not by the blind administration of justice, by means of torture, indefinite incarceration, and brute force.

Indivisible - we are not red state and blue state: we are one nation. It's time our leaders recognize this. We in Athens came together from separate neighborhoods to improve our city as a whole. We in America can surely come from our separate states to better our nation.

Let us so go forth.


January 16, 2009

Left-wingnutters and Muslim terrorists: Starbucks funds Israel

This has millions of levels of what the hell written all over it: The Protocols of the Elders of Java.

Please read the article and apply some critical thought to it. Reading it brought two things to mind: the power of freedom of expression on the internet to commit wrong and the power of freedom of expression on the internet to right that wrong.

Take the author's words with a grain of salt, though, as he seems to believe that left wingnutters and Muslim terrorists seems to coalesce in these days, but in reality the only matters where they do so is concerning Israel.

That being said, it's still mind-numbing how determined these people are to propagate a falsehood like this. It's no blood libel, but it's getting closer.

January 12, 2009

Voinovich to retire after completing term

Stephen Koff from the Plain Dealer has it: It's official: Voinovich to retire from Senate after 2010


Senator Voinovich has done a decent job working together with Senator Sherrod Brown recently, cobbling together ideas in the last two months to forestall a massive auto industry collapse which would adversely affect Ohio for years. He's even come around on the forthcoming additional stimulus.

These final two years, I think, may be what defines his entire Senate career. He says it himself:

After prayerful consideration and much thought, my wife Janet and I have decided that I will not seek a third term in the United States Senate.
As I spent time with my family during the holidays and celebrated Janet's birthday, I reflected on God's blessings on our family: my wife, our three children, our seven grandchildren and our health.

I also spent time thinking about the health of our country. In my lifetime of public service, I have never seen the country in such perilous circumstances. Not since the Great Depression and the Second World War have we been confronted with such challenges, as a nation and
as a world.

Those of us that have been given the honor to serve in these times must step up to the plate and put this country on a course that will see it through these harrowing times and make it strong and viable for the 21st century.

These next two years in office, for me, will be the most important years that I have served in my entire political career.

I must devote my full time, energy and focus to the job I was elected to do, the job in front of me, which seeking a third term -- with the money-raising and campaigning that it would require -- would not allow me to do.

In addition, Janet and I have concluded that once my second term is complete, we should devote ourselves to our children and grandchildren. We have been blessed with good health, but we're no spring chickens. In 2010, I will be 74 years old and will have served 44 years in public office, having been elected to more public offices than any other person in Ohio history.

I am grateful for the opportunity that I have had to serve my statehouse district, my county, city, state and nation and feel good about the fact that with the help of some extraordinary people, many of whom are no longer with us, I have made a difference and will, with God's help and a great team in my Senate office, continue to make a difference during these next two critical years. We intend not to wind down-but to wind up, just like I did in the Mayor's office as well as the Governor's office.

We have a great deal to do in this Congress, and I will continue to focus on the areas that matter most: providing the nation a responsible stimulus package; jump-starting our credit markets; re-establishing confidence in the housing market and stemming the tide on mortgage foreclosures; harmonizing our nation's economic, energy and environmental policies; ensuring safe and stable highways; and continuing to improve the personnel and management of the federal government.

After the next two years, it will be time to give someone else the opportunity to serve our great state in the Senate, someone who can devote full time to organizing their campaign and raising the money necessary to win.

This has not been an easy decision for us. I still have the fire in my belly to do the work of our nation, but after serving the next two years, it will be time to step back and spend the rest of our time with our children and grandchildren, siblings and extended family and

We both are confident that God has a plan for us to use the time, energy and talents that He has given us to make a difference in another way.

He will be working in the minority party, out of power in both the House and Senate, so in order to have an impact, he should understand the need to work with Democrats. I believe that is within Senator Voinovich.

Looking ahead, it appears that Bush administration lackey Rob Portman is the prohibitive Republican favorite to run for the seat. Right now, names such as Congressman Tim Ryan and Lt Gov Lee Fisher have been floating in Democratic circles, but no takers (viable, at least) have appeared.

Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight has some thoughts to offer regarding Rob Portman and whether or not Ohio Democrats should have any fear in running against him.

For the record, I think Rob Portman, who represented one of the more conservative districts in the state of Ohio, is an establishment Republican candidate, and while establishment Ohio Republican J. Kenneth Blackwell is running for RNC Chair, the mood of Ohio Republicans isn't necessarily leaning towards an establishment candidate by default. Moreover, based upon the last two election cycles, the state as a whole might not be in a mood conducive for a successful run by someone whose conservative "credentials" are as strong as Portman's. Those reasons and his tenure in the Bush administration as United States Trade Representative (connection to the Bush W.H.) may further preclude his ability to win in 2010.

Those are just my thoughts.

Yours are welcome.