Tag Archives: Rants
So I have to admit that I feel a huge stoner for writing this, but it’s an important matter of public policy in a country that leads the world in incarceration.Â Over 20% of our prisoners are costing us $35k a year for victimless drug crimes, and an untold number are serving time for crimes — property or violent — tangentially related drugs whether raising money to buy drugs or fighting over turf on which to sell drugs.Â After a century of failure its time (puff, cough, puff) to rethink the almost-world-wide prohibition of drugs.Â I’ve long felt that drug prohibition – and I’m not talking only about the pot that flows as freely through my East Quad home as bonus money at a failed bank, but also heroin, crack, meth and all sorts of things a little white priss like me has never seen outside of poorly done newspaper illustrations – was a failure and ought to be ended.Â I’ve also long not dared to speak it, lest I be lumped in with the sorts of long-haired, unwashed Ron Paul groupies that I want so desperatly for Ann Arbor liberals like myself not to be.Â But an article from The Economist, a bastion of the respectable center-right consensus, has given me the proverbial kick-in-the-ass I needed to come out of the closet in favor of legalization. (more…)
Yesterday was supposed to be the day.Â For years, public service announcements have reminded us that on February 17, 2009, television broadcasts would switch to digital.Â But they didn’t.Â Rather, some did and some didn’t.Â According to the AP, about 25% of stations have begun broadcasting only in digital.Â The rest have until June 12 to make the switch.Â How confusing.
What happened?Â Congress extended the deadline for TV stations to make the switch, because the Department of Commerce ran out of $40 vouchers to subsidize the cost of converter boxes (converter boxes allow analog TVs to receive digital signals and are not needed if the TV is connected to cable or satellite).Â It is believed that many of these vouchers had expired unused. Congress did not want to force consumers to buy converter boxes, which usually cost $40-60, without the voucher during the current economic downturn.
What a mess.Â Extending the deadline may not help cash-strapped consumers anyway.Â TV stations are permitted to make the switch anytime before the June 12 deadline and many stations have chosen to do so, because broadcasting in both analog and digital is very expensive and wastes a great deal of energy.
The decision to switch the deadline to June 12 has created confusion, is wasting resources, and may not be particularly helpful to consumers.Â It might have been better just to stick with well-publicized February 17 deadline for the switch.
From the Detroit News:
A controversial and far-reaching plan to cut the size of the Michigan Legislature and courts, reduce the salaries of top elected officials and impose many other changes on state government was blocked from the November ballot Wednesday by the Michigan Court of Appeals.
The court said the so-called Reform Michigan Government Now! ballot proposal, backed by Michigan Democrats and organized labor, includes so many provisions that it amounts to a “general revision” of the state constitution. And that, the court said, can only be done by calling a constitutional convention.
The backers of the initiative vowed to appeal the decision in the Michigan Supreme Court, but the mostly Republican high court is unlikely to review the decision.
So ends the Michigan Democratic Party’s attempt to take control of the state government by acting like Republicans. While it is true that the deck is currently stacked unfairly against the Democratic Party – with current congressional districts drawn by the Republicans and the state Supreme Court dominated by Republicans protected from defeat by the all-powerful judicial incumbency advantage – this was not the proper solution. By fighting dirty, even against a broken and unfair system, the Michigan Democratic Party acted less like the NAACP and more like the Black Panthers.
I, for one, am loathe to give up what many view as the Democratic Party’s biggest advantage – the inherent integrity of its members. Our party may not be immune to scandal, but the day our ends are used to justify our means is the day I start seriously rethinking my allegiance.
We do not need to reduce ourselves to this – there are still options available. We can reintroduce fairness into Michigan government without trying to skew the system in our favor as the Republicans have done.
We must begin the effort now to call a state constitutional convention in 2010.
The option will be on the ballot in 2010 – it is mandated by the constitution, and no court can remove it. Our constitution is broken. Years and years of ballot initiatives too easily making it into our state’s governing document have left our constitution filled with more potholes than a Michgan road in February. The list goes on and on: discrimination against gays and African Americans, ridiculous non-partisan judicial elections, crippling flat tax rates, insanely short term limits, etc., etc.
For the backers of Reform Michigan Government Now, this is the logical next step. Having failed at gaming the system, they should focus their energy and resources on what should have been their target all along: honest reform of Michigan’s constitution.
This can be done – but we need to make it happen. Talk to your friends about it. Help them understand how bent and broken our system of government has become in it’s old age. Starting November 5th, we have two full years to accomplish this goal, and we should waste no time getting started.
Our state needs us.
I’ve got some bad news: According to a PowerPoint presentation that has recently surfaced, the Update is actually a secret Democratic plot to controll Michigan’s state government. Just kidding. But seriously, our state constitution is screwed up enough as it is – the answer isn’t to mess it up even more. My solution? Vote yes on the mandatory option to call for a Constitutional Convention in 2010. We need to start fresh, and this time make the constitution harder to amend. The ballot initiative has become about buying amendments and fooling voters. It’s not democracy, it’s governmental suicide and it’s slowly destroying our state.
Anyway… Poll time!!
If the election were held today:
States with a margin of 5 points or less:
States with a margin of 10 points or less:
I wasn’t incredibly impressed with the amount of polls that were released this past week. I was hoping to get a better handle on the effects of that small trip Obama took that a few people heard about, but I guess that will have to wait until next week. In truth, the biggest movement of states from last week’s Update to this week’s was not from red to blue or from close to uncompetitive, but instead from having recent polls to landing on the “outdated polls” list. Harken unto me, Arizona – just because you are the home state of John McCain doesn’t mean you can be stingy with the surveys. Get thee a poll!
To find out which other states are on my shit list, and for all that other good stuff that you undoubtedly already know about since you read the entire Update every week, (more…)
(best viewed on “large” setting)
Although certain candidates have decided that they need a few days to consult with their supporters and a calculator, tonight Barack Obama effectively became the Democratic nominee for the office of President of the United States of America. Just one obstacle remains in Obama’s path to the White House, the same obstacle that Democrats have faced since the early days of our republic: John McCain. The Illinois Senator’s campaign to defeat this ancient adversary in the general election begins today, so I thought I would provide some idea of where both candidates stand at this, the starting point of politics’ big dance.
The source I used for my data was pollster.com. When possible, I made use of a current trend estimate, and when there were not enough polls for that to be an option I used the most recent poll available. Here is how our nation looks today, state by state:
(View this puppy on “large” setting)
As you can see, there are many more ways a poll can be wrong than just margin of error. For example, take note of how, in the North Carolina polls, Clinton’s total fluctuates, but Obama’s stays perfectly constant. That makes me suspicious, even though the polls are just barely within the margin of error of each other. Remember, polling firms have been having trouble pinning down Hillary’s levels of support all season (think New Hampshire, California, and Pennsylvania).
And then there are national polls for the Democratic nomination. Check out the ones that came out today. The phrase “outside the margin of error” does not even begin to do them justice. That is a bona fide 19-point swing you’re looking at. Don’t look at me for an explanation. I don’t know what crazy methodology they’re using, but clearly someone is very, very wrong.
So next time you hear about a poll on CNN or Fox News (especially Fox News) keep in mind that it is just one of many surveys that are often wildly different. Do this, and soon you, too, can become insanely frustrated by election polling.
I severely dislike Lou Dobbs (see title). I think he is a ridiculous, hateful, all-around ass-clown. So I don’t know why I was so shocked when I turned on CNN during his time-slot and saw this:
I don’t even know where to begin with this! Let’s see…
To start with, this isn’t really a poll. The point of this is not to gain some sort of useful feedback from his audience, but rather is an underhanded way of trying to deliver a message to his viewers. This is a classic push-poll of the worst kind, and the fact that it was on CNN’s website is disturbing.
Another problem I have with this “poll” is the message he is trying to convey. A respondent is given three choices: “Partisan and Pitiful,” “Bitter and Angry,” or “Independent and Proud.”Â By grouping the answers in sets of two, Dobbs is implying that they naturally go together, which is just not true. I am partisan, and I assume that most readers of this blog are also partisan. Are we, by necessity, pitiful as well? If one were to be independent, must he or she be proud? (more…)
The recent campaign spat over Senator Obama’s remarks about “bitter” Americans has blown into a full force whirlwind of campaign attacks and defenses leading up to the Pennsylvania primary. While both sides are right in attacking and defending statements made in the campaign – we are now lowering the level of debate to a point that is in the disinterest of all those involved. This campaign is now at the point where the in-fighting between Clinton and Obama has reached proportions that could do serious damage to the Democratic Party and our chances in the 2008 election.
I do not write this as a Obama or Clinton supporter. I am writing this out of my complete frustration over the lowbrow debate that has arisen in this campaign. What Barack Obama said is a logical, truthful, and accurate argument about the alienation of a large part of American society. This argument was explored in-depth in the book What’s the Matter With Kansas. His phrasing was poor, which has consistently been the down fall of Democrats (see everything that spilled out of John Kerry’s mouth). At this point this debate could have developed into one of the larger socio-economic issues that alienate certain groups – a debate Clinton could have engaged Obama in respectively and intelligently.
Instead, by fault of both candidates, they picked the easy political route. Clinton attacked, joining with McCain, calling Obama an elitist. Obama retorted – Hillary claimed she duck hunted – Obama stood silent – Hillary made an ad. Obama did not take the high road of Hope and annihilate Clinton’s initial steps with a powerful defense of his thoughts, but rather engaged with dirty quotes – a poor political choice.
Now the two are doing what Democrats do best. They are destroying each other. They have started a slippery-slope of accusations wherein they are attempting to out-common each other. Their attempts to appear “in sync” with the American people are foolish at this point. It is one thing to participate in campaign events to reach out to voters, but to do so in the context of “being a common person” is ridiculous. Both sides are opening themselves up for the Republicans favorite arsenal of attacks… the same ones that has held them in power for so long. This time we are writing their talking points and ads for them – pro bono.
This could have been an excellent chance to demonstrate how Bush/McCain Republicans are out of touch with small-town America, and engage each other in a debate on how to address the frustration and anxiety of the people many of us know. A situation of dialogue appears to be a false hope… just like the one wherein Al Gore is our President. What scares me is that in 4 years I don’t want to have to watch Obama or Hillary on SNL postulating what could have been.
Stop. Stop with this horrendous line of attack. One or both of the candidates must rise above their strategists and their handlers to roll back the damage done in the past week. Obama – you may succeed at taking the nomination, but your integrity has taken a hit – a large part of that is due to your inability to see opportunity in a mistake. Clinton – you may win at any price, but you will lose the election if you continue to run attacks befitting of Rove. Stop. This also goes for surrogates across the nation. Engaging your fellow Democrats in this debate will not help your candidate come November… be apart of the positive dialogue and put pressure on your candidate to stop. Please, for the sake of my sanity. Stop.
I’m absolutely sick of turning on the news just to hear the latest on this bizarre debate over who is the elitist-est. I cannot believe that this is what the campaigns have sunk to. The very fact that Hillary Clinton is trying to pick up votes by name-calling reeks of a desperation that is unbecoming of one of the great leaders of our party and our nation. But most of all, I am astounded that Hillary Clinton, of all people, is calling someone else elitist. As ashamed as I am to be enabling this debate further, I feel obliged to list the reasons why I think Hillary Clinton should be the last person to be calling someone else elitist.
- She went to Yale for law school
- She made somewhere around a billion dollars last year
- She has spent decades as the first lady of Arkansas and the United States
- She seems to feel entitled to a nomination that everyone else seems to realize she can’t fairly win
- She’s a freakin’ Clinton, for God’s sake!
I am very rapidly getting tired of the increasingly ridiculous claims and accusations emanating from the Clinton campaign. I do not define myself as simply an Obama supporter – I would still be quite happy with President Hillary Clinton. However, at the risk of sounding elitist myself, I am very unhappy with the way she is seeking that presidency. It is as if she has dropped all pretense of seeking office for altruistic goals, and has completely embraced the more selfish reasons for seeking the White House. She needs to start remembering that she is seeking the nomination of a party, not trying to get permission to run as an independent. The ends cannot justify the means. This cannot be only about her – she needs to be mindful of the damage her tactics are causing the party. If she wants to stay in the race, so be it. But she needs to start running a more honorable campaign. This type of ridiculous infighting is not going to win her the nomination, is not going to win her the general election, and may end up losing the big prize for all of us.
I really don’t enjoy taking a pot shot at our potential nominee, but this is disgusting. I recently posted why I believe Obama was correct in his comment, but this is far more than that. This is about a politician who has decided her own personal survival is far more important than her Party or her Country and is willing to use dishonest tactics to tear down her party’s presumptive nominee. I will vote for and campaign for Sen. Clinton because she is right on the issues, but I am starting to find her despicable as a person.