Monday morning at work

Taken on the fly off my iPhone. Go figure! But the mood was there and it came out right…

On a non-political note, one of the greatest bands in the world releases a new album today

Yay hyperbole! Though sorry about the small image size:

13 Dream

Gave a listen to the Cure‘s 4:13 Dream last night for the first time — as I’ll be writing about it for an upcoming issue of Plan B, I’ll just say that I was pleasantly surprised. Not that I was thinking it would be a bad album, but instead of it being simply okay, say, it was quite stellar — it helped that the singles, which tended to sound all right enough individually (though “Freakshow” is flat-out great), actually worked better heard in the flow of the album itself. Starting and ending on the strong notes of “Underneath the Stars” and “It’s Over” didn’t hurt!

So yeah, snag this here. Meantime the Quietus has got a couple of fun pieces up worth checking out:

John Doran’s negative review (always good to get different opinions, and John’s a Cure fan of long standing)

John creates a Cure mixtape, with explanations

Reviewing the 2008 November California propositions — Prop 8

Basic information about Proposition 8 — “ELIMINATES RIGHT OF SAME–SEX COUPLES TO MARRY. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT.”

Umbrella yes-vote site.

Umbrella no-vote site.

The big one.

I could say a lot. But a few months back, after the California Supreme Court decision, I already said a few things, and to avoid repeating myself, I will leave it at quoting myself twice. First, as I linked in that piece in May, a reminder of my overall political thoughts, specifically this:

…if, as I’ve said before, the American experience is an experiment that has never been guaranteed of success, then my feeling at heart is that I vote and act to ensure that the least possible damage is done on the widest possible scale, no matter how many decades certain standards have been in play (and often precisely because those standards have been in play — it is still less than a hundred years since something seemingly so patently obvious now, the right for women to vote, was confirmed nationwide). Things must be done to improve the general lot, of that I have a firm belief — even as I feel one must be rigorous in ensuring those actions done to improve it are carried out to the best possibility there is.

I then added this in May:

I see this as the continuing experiment at work, and as I tried to note in my comment on women’s suffrage, we have been down this road before, where something seemingly inconceivable became standard. Legalizing gay marriage improves the general lot by further extending the principle of ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ to all — as the complexity of society is more and more recognized, then that means that extension must be further applied to the full. I think this principle as applied to this issue is going to be further recognized and understood with time. Fully accepted by all? I do not foresee that in the slightest, but I do not see the clock being turned back — as I read briefly in a story somewhere over the last few days, if you had asked the question of gay marriage in, say, 1960, the idea would have barely made any sense to anyone whatsoever. By 2060, by and large, people will wonder what the fuss was about.

Perhaps I was too optimistic at the time I wrote that. Nonetheless, my conclusions remain as they are.

I vote a simple, flat NO.

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Reviewing the 2008 November California propositions — Prop 7

Basic information about Proposition 7 — “RENEWABLE ENERGY GENERATION. INITIATIVE STATUTE.”

Umbrella yes-vote site.

Umbrella no-vote site.

Okay, first off — I have to admit to a raging headache this morning. So this is not going to be much of an in-depth discussion.

However, part of the problem is that this is yet another huge proposition covering a lot of ground, tackling everything from governmental regulation to predictions in the energy market, and therefore trying to concentrate on its various facets would be hard under the best of circumstances, admittedly.

On the face of it, anything acknowledging future problems in maintaining energy standards and encouraging use of renewable standards is a good thing. However, there’s a large push against 7 from a variety of clean-energy supporters and groups, and I figure where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Further complicating matters, however, are the responses from other groups accusing *those* groups of being sellouts…and down the rabbit hole we go. (I was considering linking to a variety of arguments and comments to illustrate all this, but my headache was bad enough as it was.)

Two things, however, stood out in the official analysis which made me wonder a bit about the effaciousness of this proposition. To quote:

In its findings and declarations, the measure states that, in the “short term,” California’s investment in solar and clean energy (which would include the implementation of the measure) will result in no more than a 3-percent increase in electricity rates for consumers. However, the measure includes no specific provisions to implement or enforce this declaration.

In the long run, there are factors that may be affected by the measure that have the potential either to increase or to decrease electricity rates from what they otherwise would be. For example, to the extent that the measure advances development of renewable energy resources in a manner that lowers their costs, electricity customers might experience longer-term savings. On the other hand, the same cost factors that could lead to short-term electricity rates that are higher might also lead to higher long-run electricity rates. To the extent that the measure requires electricity providers to acquire more costly electricity than they otherwise would, they will experience longer-term cost increases. It is unknown whether, on balance, factors that could increase electricity rates over the long term will outweigh those that could decrease electricity rates over the long term. Therefore, the long-term effect of the measure on government costs is unknown.

It has to be acknowledged that, after all, not every measure’s full impact can truly be judged until it is passed and enforced. Still, it’s these sorts of variables that make me wonder about the proposition, much more so than who is supporting it or which person is a shill and which isn’t. The fact that energy companies are against 7 is somewhat troubling — it’s also noteworthy that both the Democratic and Republican parties are against it while the Green party is for it. But something about this feels an overpromised wish, a solution that is biting off more than it can chew. More’s the pity, given the subject of the measure.

I vote a ‘should have been better’ NO.

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Looking at the CA-46 Congressional race

Having looked at half the propositions on the California ballot so far, I’d like to take a break to focus on the one vote I’ll be participating in which will actually have a direct repercussion in Washington — that of my Congressional district, CA-46. As you can see from the link there, it’s a classic ‘how the heck did they draw the lines for that one’ district, sprawling along the north Orange County coast past Long Beach and over to Palos Verdes. At the same time, its sprawl makes it an interesting swathe in general, not a full microcosm of the area (it would actually need more of Long Beach itself for that) but more varied than might be guessed.

Still, the fact that it covers what it covers means it’s been no surprise that the district has returned a Republican representative for years now — but what makes this year a surprise is that for the first time in heaven knows how long, said representative actually has a race on his hands courtesy of the Democratic candidate. So to fully introduce you to them both:

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R)

Debbie Cook (D)

It would be wrong of me not to list the two other listed candidates as well, with their sites:

Thomas Lash (Green)

Ernst P. Gasteiger (Libertarian)

Were this a Democratic safe district I would be strongly tempted to vote Green if anyone. Much more so than the presidential vote, however, this is a case where strategic voting is of great concern here, because this is an actual race for the first time in a long while.

Explaining in huge detail why I’m not for Rohrabacher would be a bit of a waste of time — I have no particular feelings about him being in Congress for ‘too long’ or the like, as incumbency is in and of itself hardly some sort of crime. An effective representative maintains his or her position by staying in tune with the feelings of the district’s voters, as much as using institutional advantages to the full, of course. In reviewing his general stand on the issues, there’s room for agreement — for instance, I have no objection to nuclear power at all, though I think for obvious reasons it must be subject to careful and total regulation, while he has introduced a sensible and long overdue medical marijuana amendment to Congress at a couple of points, one time in partnership with Sam Farr, the excellent representative up north in CA-17, where my folks live.

However, whether it’s his dismissive take on ‘the so-called man-made “global warming crisis”’ or his vocal support for the unspeakably awful El Toro Airport project following the closure of that base, his obsessive foci on fretting about Communism and religion or — looking at something he doesn’t talk much about on his site, from what I can see — his support for and connections with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, there’s much more that just doesn’t work for me. I’ve participated in larger letter writing projects to him in the past on various issues, though I’m sure that Rohrabacher’s office well realizes that I was always in the minority, and his various comfortable victories over the years underscores that. My votes for his Democratic opponents in the past have always been essentially protest votes at best, especially given that I do not belong to any political party, and the end results never surprised me.

However, sea changes do occur, and this year is a potential — by no means a guaranteed — doozy. If Rohrabacher represents a familiar OC-into-South Bay type of voter, then Debbie Cook represents a less familiar but increasingly more visible one. An excellent portrait of her life and work — as well as some more zings against Rohrabacher — can be found by reading this extensive OC Weekly article from last month, covering her biography (she’s a Navy brat like me, which right there is always a good sign — well, I would say that!) and rise into politics, culminating so far with her winning of the mayoralty of Huntington Beach and resultant increasing visibility in local and, to an extent, state politics.

As with any politician I support, no matter how sympathetic they seem to be, I look at Cook with interest and general approval at best — outright starry-eyed celebration isn’t my thing, and not being a Huntington Beach resident I can’t speak as well as others on local issues. But certainly more so than past Democratic candidates, Cook has a record, a show of local political success and the fact that she can play the game well under her belt to support her — competency in the business of politicking as much as the business of daily government is needed in order to make civil society work well, after all. Her own list of issues is far more in line with mine than Rohrabacher’s, which is to be expected.

The OC Weekly article, published in mid-September, noted that at the time circumstances weren’t entirely in Cook’s favor — and to be fair, this was always going to be an uphill fight. However, the economic nuttiness since then, combined with the increasing profile and comfort with Obama as candidate, seems to have turned the tide a bit. In the past week and a half I’ve noticed various mentions that the race had turned more competitive, and to his credit, so did Rohrabacher. (Again, a smart representative reads and notes the public mood; a foolish one always expects to coast no matter what.) So the fact that I saw far more mailers for Rohrabacher this race than I’d ever noticed in the past was a sign, and this recent OC Register article confirms it:

Huntington Beach Mayor Debbie Cook hasn’t been able to out-raise Rohrabacher. She raised just over a quarter of a million dollars as of the end of September compared to the nearly half million dollars Rohrabacher had to spend. And there’s nothing she can do about the lopsided party registration that has 45 percent Republicans, 32 percent Democrats and 19 percent Decline to State in this coastal district that spans from Costa Mesa to Palos Verdes.

But Cook, a lawyer and community activist, has greater name recognition and more-on-the-ground government experience than any other Democrat who has ever challenged Reagan’s former speechwriter. And in a year when the Republican brand is the lowest it has been in decades, Democrats began taking this race seriously.

“This is a totally different political world than what we’ve been operating in for the last 20 years,” says Rohrabacher. “We’ve reached a breaking point on all the negative trends that have been going on for our country in energy, financially as well as our stupid housing industry policy. It all came together in a perfect storm.”

Rohrabacher said he realized a month ago that this was not going to be an ordinary reelection for him when he saw a private poll that had him a lot closer to Cook “than I felt comfortable. So I went into high gear.”

So it’s on, and it will stay on through Election Day itself. Hardheadedly, I frankly assume that while it will be a close race, Rohrabacher’s chances of success are greater. I’m not going to lose any sleep over his being reelected if that occurs, no more so than I have in the past. Still, though, there’s no question who I’d rather see representing the area, and who I believe can do a fine job of it. Everyone’s a newcomer at some point in their career, after all, and in this case I’d prefer the newcomer.

For CA-46, I quite unsurprisingly vote COOK. Here’s to a good race!

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VNV Nation at the El Rey, Oct 22 2008

Taken a couple of songs before a humorous but clearly honestly felt observation on Ronan’s part wondering what the point of spending a show looking through a video camera was. (I was just taking a couple of still shots so I was innocent…uh, yeah.)

More seriously — another great show from VNV, and as I hoped it was the kind of energy charge-up I wanted going into these last couple of weeks. “The Farthest Star” hit harder for me than ever before, and hearing it at this point just before the elections, given the importance of the song in personally reenergizing me on the social and political front last year, was only appropriate. Crowd was way into it, a lot of first time VNV showgoers (hey, I was one of them last year!), Mark Jackson spoke from the stage (turns out he’s from Depeche Mode’s corner of the world — well, Essex at least) and at one point a man wearing a Borat-style thong and a horsehead mask appeared onstage, utterly befuddling Ronan, who then told a hilarious story about an evil clown. My kind of all-over-the-place show.

Ronan also confirmed return appearances next year along with a new album. This is a very good thing. (Also had a chance to chat with him *very* briefly a little before the show — a friendly fellow!)

Congratulations to my friend Matt Maxwell on the serialization of “Strangeways”

To explain a bit — you can find Matt’s site via Highway 62 over there in the blogroll. Great guy and great gentleman, and his comic series Strangeways is a damned good treat — in simplistic terms, a horror western, but much more than that.

Matt just sent around this note:

October 23, 2008

HIGHWAY 62 PRESS AND BLOG@NEWSARAMA ANNOUNCE JOINT SYNDICATION FOR STRANGEWAYS: THE THIRSTY

Matthew Maxwell, creator and author of the Western-horror graphic novel STRANGEWAYS, today announced the serialization of the sequel, THE THIRSTY, at Blog @ Newsarama. The series will debut on Monday, Oct. 27, with new pages posted every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

“I’m very pleased to enjoy this opportunity,” Maxwell said recently. “I talked to quite a few potential partners before deciding to serialize THE THIRSTY on Blog @ Newsarama,” Maxwell said. “It isn’t a typical webcomic, as it wasn’t written with online publication in mind. So, I sought a different kind of partnership. Working with a comics news and commentary site as opposed to one known for syndicating webcomics seemed an intriguing and beneficial arrangement. It’s my hope that many more readers who’ve never followed STRANGEWAYS will be introduced to the series now.”

THE THIRSTY follows ex-Union officer Seth Collins from the events of MURDER MOON as he drifts a little further west to a town called Cedar Creek, which is about to find itself under attack from people who are neither dead nor alive, but somewhere in-between. However, just as MURDER MOON was about a lot more than just cowboys and werewolves, THE THIRSTY is more than just cowboys and vampires. Those readers who liked the concept of “Lone,” which was the backup feature for MURDER MOON, will eat up “Red Hands,” which will serve a similar role in THE THIRSTY.

THE THIRSTY is illustrated by Gervasio and Jok of Estudio Haus in Argentina, who drew the story “Lone” in MURDER MOON. Luis Guaragna also returns in a backup feature, as mentioned above. “It’s great to continue my relationship with all of these artists,” Maxwell said. “They understand what the stories need visually, which is a deceptively simple task, it seems.”

A fine break, and a well-deserved one. The site in question:

http://blog.newsarama.com/

So start checking it out on Monday!