Saturday, April 5, 2008

Clinton Talks, Obama Balks

That headline is from the Philadelphia Gay News, which requested interviews with both of the Democratic candidates, as well as Sen. McCain, the presumptive Republican candidate. Only Hillary Clinton took the time to meet with this publication, even as the battle for delegates and superdelegates continues and the media spotlight shines now on Pennsylvania. I've said it before and I'll say it again, one of my concerns with Barack Obama is that he seems to court the LGBT vote when he needs us (close contests in Ohio and Texas) and ignore us when he doesn't (Pennsylvania is predicted by most people to go for Clinton fairly strongly).

Some highlights from Clinton's interview:
[M]arriage is in the province of the state, which has actually turned out to be lucky for us, because we didn’t have to get beaten on the Federal Marriage Amendment because we could make, among other arguments, that it was such a stretch for the federal government and it was wrong to enshrine discrimination in the Constitution. 

Even states that have civil unions, domestic partnerships or even marriage laws are running into roadblocks with the federal government when it comes to federal benefits and privileges. Of course, immigration is a federal responsibility and I am going to do everything I can to eliminate any disparities in any benefits or rights under our law at the federal level so that all people will have available to them every right as an American citizen that they should, and that would include immigration law.

I will have a comprehensive review, and I think a lot of that work has already been done, to look at everything that is discriminatory in the tax code or in any other aspect of federal law. And we will try to eliminate all of that discrimination. I think we will have a good argument, ironically, because I think we can say, look, the states are making determinations about extending rights to same-sex couples in various forms and the federal government should recognize that and should extend the same access to federal benefits across the board. I will very much work to achieve that.
You can read the rest of the interview with Clinton here.

Et tu, Obama?

Friday, April 4, 2008

Friday video

Doncha love it when you hear one of your favorite songs — but one you'd forgotten all about — come on the radio? If you can listen to radio online, I heartily recommend you tune in to wxpn in Philadelphia. You won't be sorry. You'll hear lots of your old favorites, and discover plenty of new ones, too.

That's where I just heard this gem from Mary Chapin Carpenter. Please enjoy, and have a most excellent weekend!

The American economy: Who's steering this thing, anyway?

With our economy in a downward spiral, you might think our Harvard MBA president would be the one to take charge and turn this thing around. (Oh, did you forget he has a Harvard MBA? If I went to Harvard, I would be asking for my money back right about now.) But instead of dealing with our economic crisis at home, President Bush is busying himself with issues such as fighting for Ukraine to gain membership into NATO. Uh, 'k.

Meanwhile, Fed Chairman Bernanke is left to sell the Administration's "plan" and defend the decision to assist a large brokerage firm while telling homeowners in similar crisis that they are on their own. To be fair, he did try to help homeowners by telling them again about the government hotline number. But, -- just like in December -- he gave out the wrong number. So maybe it's best if he just stays out of this whole thing.

Hello? Harvard University Admissions Office?

It is truly unfortunate that we have such an imbecile in office, when we are crying out for a leader. Many people are losing their homes due to no fault of their own, for example single women homeowners have been hit hard, and even renters are losing their homes. But we also are a nation of people who think we can have it all. Last night I did a doubletake when I saw a story on ABC News about a couple that successfully fought the bank's foreclosure on their home. Now I don't know all the details about this family or about the housing market in New York. But I do know that they made a combined income of $30,000 and they bought a $335,000 house.

You do the math.

The mortgage company did things that were illegal. They told the couple they could get a fixed loan, and then at signing changed the terms into a balloon rate. What bank thinks a family making $30,000 a year will be able to pay off a $335,000 house at 14% interest rate? That's a house payment of almost $4,000 a month! That is more than this couple makes a month! It's despicable that the bank did this.

But what was this couple, and all the rest just like them, thinking? I'm sure they loved the house, and the neighborhood. I'm sure it was hard to find something they could afford. But what has happened to us when we buy things that we just simply cannot afford? The Baltimore Sun ran a story last month entitled Affluent are also losing their homes. Am I the only one who thinks: "Then maybe they're not so affluent?" This is where we need leadership from the top, someone to look at the balance of the nation's economy and the welfare of the people. Someone who can honestly say to the housing industry: You know what? You need to start building houses that people can afford.

But our leader is in Romania, fighting a lost battle to get Ukraine into NATO. Where's a Harvard MBA when you need one? Oh, here he is:

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Who wins and who loses in the Democratic candidate war?

Light posting today, as I'm paying for my day off yesterday (but yes -- the lettuce, and even the spinach, are in the ground and the fish pond pump is back up and running, so it was a productive day!).

I came across an interesting post over at All Spin Zone. Blogger Richard Blair has done an admittedly unscientific study of the site traffic at 5 "A-List" progressive sites over the past month. You will recall that I wrote about my personal decision to stop visiting certain sites where I no longer felt welcome as a Clinton supporter. Well, apparently I was not alone in that decision:
A quick review of the graphics below tell a surprising tale: traffic is down significantly on the pro-Obama sites (30% or more over the past month), but about level on the pro-Clinton and “neutral” sites. What does this mean? I have no friggin’ idea. But the trends are clear and appear to be statistically significant.

AmericaBlog (leans Obama): As the candidate wars have escalated, AmericaBlog has experienced a 40% drop in peak weekly traffic over the past 30 days. From a pure statistical standpoint, both the traffic peaks and valleys are both lower, and consistently so.

Daily Kos (leans Obama): In one month alone, DKos shed nearly 1/2 million unique visitors (on peak traffic days) between the beginning of March and April’s Fool day.

Atrios’ Eschaton (neutral): I’ll give Atrios this: he’s managed to build a nice little empire, and a heck of a stable (traffic-wise) community. Eschaton has taken pains to maintain site neutrality in the candidate wars, even if the community members seem to lean more Obama (but not rabidly so, as is the case on DKos and AmericaBlog). As a result, Eschaton has been able to maintain a relatively flat slope on traffic gains or losses.

Talk Left (leans Clinton): If the Obama-leaning sites have driven off Clinton supporters to other sites, the defection isn’t particularly apparent on the two blogs reviewed that lean toward Clinton. There hasn’t been a significant increase in traffic at Talk Left - but there hasn’t been a decrease, either.

MyDD (leans Clinton): Again, for a self-identified pro-Clinton blog, the traffic at MyDD has remained fairly static at the height of the candidate wars. It’s hard to say if this is because defecting Obama supporters are being offset by an influx of disaffected Clinton backers from other blogs, or if the traffic patterns on MyDD are just “mature”, due to the longevity of the blog.
You can read more and see the graphs here.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Wednesday Poetry Break

I went looking for a poem on gardening/Spring/etc., in honor of my decision to take the day off work today so that I can get the vegetable garden in order and plant the lettuce (yes, it's a little late for that in Maryland, but we'll get something out of it).  This short little poem speaks to me on so many levels because of many different things going on in my world right now, and I find myself re-reading it and discovering something new each time. I hope you do, too. Enjoy.

The Gardener 85

Who are you, reader, reading my poems an hundred years hence?
I cannot send you one single flower from this wealth of the spring, one single streak
of gold from yonder clouds.
Open your doors and look abroad.

From your blossoming garden gather fragrant memories of the vanished flowers of
an hundred years before.
In the joy of your heart may you feel the living joy that sang one spring morning, 
sending its glad voice across an hundred years.

— Rabindranath Tagore

Pick up the phone. Make the call.

Sometimes I do some digging around to find stories to post, other times the stories come to me. This one was in my inbox this morning:
HIV/AIDS is a global emergency. In developing countries, where effective antiretroviral drug treatments are financially out of reach, it can kill with alarming speed. Around the world, there were 2.1 million deaths from AIDS related complications in 2007. The suffering is compounded by malaria, which causes a child in Africa to die every 30 seconds from a mosquito bite, and tuberculosis, which preys on those already weakened by AIDS.

An emergency this serious requires an all-out response. Since 2004, ours has been PEPFAR, the President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief. PEPFAR is saving lives and a vote to re-authorize for another five years it is about to happen in the House of Representatives.
The email was from a wonderful organization called Through this organization, "we" can stand as "one" to end poverty, hunger, and disease in the world. As Americans we bitch and moan about the price of gas and the mortgage crisis, and we forget how really lucky we are to live where we do. I think we have an obligation to the citizens of the planet who didn't happen to be born into our prosperous circumstances.

Okay, enough preachiness. Just contact your Representative and tell them to re-authorize PEPFAR. You can find out more about the re-authorization of PEPFAR here. PEPFAR works:
In 2004, only 400,000 people were receiving life-saving antiretroviral drug treatment around the world. By September 2007, 1.45 million patients, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, were getting the medicine they needed through PEPFAR-supported programs.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Google DreamAds: This may be going too far

From ReadWriteWeb:
ReadWriteWeb has discovered the existence of a stealth Google project, called DreamAds. It is a very ambitious project, topping even the wireless balloons which Google is also looking into. Essentially DreamAds is Google's latest plan to extend AdSense - this time into our dreams. It may sound far-fetched, but an inside source at Google told us that it is very possible thanks to the latest in cheap magnetic resonance scanning and mind-reading techniques developed at Stanford University.

Our source also revealed the thinking behind DreamAds: Google is aiming to become the first company to monetize a totally wasted period of time in human life: sleep, which takes up almost 1/3 of our lives.

This is an intriguing product that has the potential to take Adsense to the next level. Google will probably be able to make around $500 per DreamAds apparel user. And with the upcoming CPA version, the high relevancy could increase Google's revenues to $5,000 per person. Think about that: $5,000 * 1 billion users means an unparalleled distribution model for advertisers and a gigantic revenue source for Google.
I don't know about you, Jello Heads, but i find this a little alarming. Oh yeah, and by the way, Happy April 1st.

Greenwashing: the latest step in the dumbification of America

Okay, so first I want you to watch this ad from Ford:

I started thinking about the lack of coverage of Earth Hour last weekend, and I realized that it's a clear sign of a much larger problem in America: No one cares about the environment.

I mean, we think we do, but really, as a society we feel there are more important things to worry about. The problem is that those "things" (i.e., the war in Iraq, the economy) are directly related to our obsession with all things oil. It's all connected, but we're too lazy to think that through.

Instead, we're quite happy to allow the corporations of American to lead us around by the nose. The latest example? Hybrid SUVs. As reported on NPR last night, just about every major American car company now manufactures a hybrid SUV. If you've watched any of the March Madness tournament, you've seen ads for the Chevy Tahoe Hybrid SUV, as well as the Ford Escape Hybrid.

And true, a lot of people are buying hybrid cars -- according to, sales of hybrids in 2007 grew by 28%. So naturally you would expect prices to be high -- that's the basic concept of supply and demand. But before you start getting a warm and fuzz feeling about American car companies and their dedication to the environment, consider this: most of these manufacturers tack on a mandatory markup of anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000!

To quote
What's galling is that car makers continue to push these hybrids--especially SUVs--in advertising. Greenwashing an entire company with token products has proven to be enormously successful, not only for the car industry, but for just about anyone else.

To be sure, batteries have been in short supply. And automakers didn't anticipate the price of gas when hybrid production plans were inked. Even so, the markup at dealerships is shameless.

And I would add that's shameless that we let them do it.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Where were you at 8 pm on Saturday?

I am under strict instruction not to reveal the events of the past weekend at the Jello House (you know, we're like Las Vegas in that way), but there is one thing we did that I think it's safe to write about: Earth Hour.

I am sorry I didn't write about this last week, but it kind of snuck up on me. And unfortunately, it did not receive much publicity in the MSM. But here's the deal:
On March 29th, people everywhere turned off their lights–to make a statement, to help find new ways to reduce their impact on the environment, and to start a movement that ends with a solution to the common challenge we all face.

Millions of Americans–in Chicago, Atlanta, Phoenix, San Francisco and dozens of other communities large and small–joined mayors, citizens' groups, schools and corporations from coast to coast. Around the globe, people on five continents took part, from Albania to Zimbabwe, Bosnia to Uzbekistan, Canada to Uruguay.
I almost forgot about this major event, because in my hometown there was no recognition of it. That's truly disappointing, as Maryland is an environmental bellweather -- the Chesapeake Bay will tell us the future, I believe. Fortunately, I logged on to the laptop Saturday afternoon to check the basketball scores and came upon this:

After a brief "Hey -- what's wrong with Google?!" I realized they were honoring and publicizing this important event. Yay for Google!

So with a little careful planning, we were able to enjoy a beer (or two) and the world's best crabcakes, and still make it home in time to light the chimnea out back and look up at the stars. Of course, our planning unfortunately did not include getting out the candles before we left for the restaurant, it only included turning off all the lights so that when 8:00 came, the house would be dark even if we didn't make it back yet. Hence, our arrival back home consisted of a comic scene of 3 of us fumbling around in the dark trying to find candles, lighter, gloves, beverage, etc.

We really did very little, but for an hour we reduced our impact on the earth. Maybe we can make this a trend, before we're forced into cutting off the electricity out of necessity once the oil runs out....

h/t to ThinkProgress for the Google screenshot!

He just doesn't get it, does he?

President Bush threw out the opening pitch at the new Nationals baseball stadium yesterday, to the sound of boos and catcalls.Waving and smiling because (a) he is heavily medicated, or (b) he really just doesn't care, Bush strode out to the mound and threw the pitch high and outside.

294 days left, folks.

Happy Opening Day, America!

With each Opening Day comes the promise of better times ahead. Will this be the year of the Orioles ... finally?

Happy Birthday, Mr President

Happy 60th birthday to Al Gore!