Challenging Ballots is Fun

Minnesota Public Radio has photographs of some of the challenged ballots in the Minnesota recount.  It's a good look at some of the challenges and a tiny fraction of the BS facing ballot judges in Minnesota.  The strategy of both camps seems pretty obvious:  Use any pretense to challenge a ballot so that the ones that are even a little questionable seem like reasonable challenges.  It's a battle of attrition. s/2008/11/19_challenged_ballots/

And now:  Lizard People

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Dingell wanes in Waxman tangle

That is, Henry Waxman is the new chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.  No details yet.

See what kind of headline you can come up with.

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Downballot succes: Minnesota's third way

One virtually unnoticed nugget in Tuesday's election was the decision by Minnesota voters to dedicate a 0.375 % sales tax to the arts and outdoors.  The measure will dedicate an estimated $275 million annually to projects such as clean water, wildlife habitat restoration, parks and trails, and arts and cultural programs.

This unlikely coupling of outdoors and arts was the result of more than a decade of attempts to get an outdoors amendment on the Minnesota ballot.  This was a change to the Minnesota Constitution and required that the legislature first pass a bill allowing this amendment onto the ballot, which the citizens then voted on.  Rural legislators had tried for years to get this amendment on the ballot, but had failed repeatedly.  The measure finally passed the legislature after adding arts funding, which brought urban legislators on board as well.

States face constant pressures to spend money on outdoors-related projects and some fund these activities through mechanisms such as lotteries or licensing fees for boaters, hunters, and (ugh) off-roaders.  But this is the most audacious plan that I can remember.  And it certainly flies in the face of what has become the center-right CW in punditry circles.  And, from my perspective, I think outdoors and arts are entirely compatible and offer us a new way to think about the outdoors.

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What to make of the Waxman-Dingell dispute?

CNN is reporting that Henry Waxman, a favorite among environmentalists, is challenging John Dingell for Chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.  I could hardly sum up the current challenges of our country more succinctly than "Energy and Commerce" and it would be great to have a more easily recognizable Progressive in charge of this committee.

John Dingell is from Dearborn, MI and is widely considered to be friendly to the automobile industry.  This is an industry that has essentially dismantled public transportation, blocked many reasonable proposals to increase energy efficiency, and is losing badly in the current economic environment.  Then again, the auto industry is probably one of the largest remaining unionized workplaces in the country and John Dingell, despite his supposed ties to the industry, has been given ratings of 94 and 100% by League of Conservation Voters for the past two House sessions.

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I'm in desperate need of a caption

Many people will say that this is not a diary.  I do not disagree in the slightest, but I had to put this picture up.

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Obama's Northern Exposure Problem

It's not looking very good for Barack Obama.  He has yet to garner a single endorsement from the cast of "Northern Exposure", and is facing a focused opposition from four of the show's top names.

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Socialism and the American way

OK, the following is a list of programs/institutions that work to "redistribute the wealth".  Which of these is a socialist program?  Am I missing any?

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Rewriting Powell's History

I'm probably going to vote for Obama and I am glad to see Colin Powell endorsing Obama this time around.  But I haven't forgiven that man for his soul-selling performance at the UN in February 2003.  He apparently fought the good fight for as long as he could from the inside.  I respect him for that.  But then why destroy your entire career and reputation by repeating complete lies in front of the world community thereby adding the final piece of the legitimacy puzzle to the Bush war on Iraq.

I'm sure Colin Powell is sick about his decision to rob himself of his own honor in this way.  But then he waits until, what, maybe two weeks after Bush wins the election to resign from the Cabinet.  If he was so angry at Bush for misleading the American People, his best chance to get back at him was to resign just before the election and give Kerry a small bounce.  Who knows, maybe we'd have Kerry as a President right now.

Finally, I'm glad that Powell brought up the fact that people can be Muslim and Patriotic.  As simplistic as this statement is, it is heard as new-agey mumbo-jumbo in large swaths of our great nation.  If having Colin Powell say this makes some people listen, all the better.  But then he goes on and pays homage to a fallen Muslim soldier in Iraq.  A war that Powell himself had a large hand in creating.  Oh the irony.  Real irony.  Not like the mere bad luck mentioned in the Alanis Morissette song.

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BREAKING NEWS: We don't have any money for anything

According to the New York Times, the House has just approved the bailout package with the pivotal tax break for toy wooden arrow producers.  The budget deficit next year will be $1.3 trillion.  The positive news is that if you own a house, there is a good chance it will retain several more percentage points of its value for a few more years.  If you don't own a house, good job on your fiscal restraint and go fuck off.

So now, of course, the economy is back on track on the the government will sell all of these mortgage-backed securities at a profit.  Just like the Iraq War was going to be funded by oil revenues. cough.cough.

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What's your favorite program...

...that will not happen for 20 more years because of the bailout plan?

Personally, I have two:  The "Green Economy" revolution and $5 billion to study and rehabilitate the Great Lakes.  Just a few weeks ago, coming up with $5 billion for the Great Lakes seemed way too good to be true.  I liked to say that Obama would pay for this by ending the war in Iraq 2 weeks earlier than McCain.  Funny stuff.  Maybe we could pay for the bailout by ending the war in Iraq five years and ten months early.

But, let's face it.  Nearly everything on the domestic front that this election was supposed to be about has evaporated.  There will be no Universal Health Care.  A Government-initiated Energy Revolution is not going to occur.  We are not going to update our infrastructure, this includes rail, highways, bridges, water treatment plants, and internet access.  We are not going to combat Climate Change in any meaningful way.  And we are not going to spark a new era in Leftist governance by nationalizing the banking industry.  

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