California Ballots

In California there are things that end up on ballots called “propositions”. In 2008, there are several appearing on the February 5th primary ballot, including Proposition 93 and Props 94, 95, 96, and 97.

The first proposition is a scheme to alter the strict legislator term limits imposed in 1990 and the second group is a way to change the state Indian gaming agreements to (supposedly) help the impending state budget crisis by adding thousands of slot machines and collecting more revenue from those new slots.

The reason I’m writing about them is because the TV ads for each side of each set of propositions seem to be silly and every TV station is running each ad for each side at every commercial break. Fairness and equal time, I guess, but man do I want my DVR.

A Call from my Congressman

So, I have to write this up.

I got a phone call from Tim Johnson this afternoon. Yes, that Tim Johnson: (R), Illinois 15th District. He was calling to see if I had any issues to raise or questions I’d like to ask of him.

All I could quickly think of was to ask about the Foley scandal, to which he gave a fairly straightforward answer (paraphrasing here, I don’t have recording equipment on my home phone line):

The actions are disgusting, but I don’t want to pass any judgement on the House leadership until a full investigation of the facts of who knew what and when is conducted.

In other words, delay it until after the mid-terms and get it off the front page. Not suprising and very similar to what is being reported at Tim Johnson Watch.

My theories on why he called me:

  • Those ads with him swimming and talking on his cell phone were true
  • I linked to Tim Johnson Watch in a previous post and the domain records on are just a little too easy to decode
  • He really does want the input of his constituents and this is a common occurrence

Read This

Josh Marshall at TPM has a post about a WP article on “network neutrality“. Go read it.

Done? Alright, now imagine that you dial the 1-800 number of your favorite mail order clothing company and it takes 400 rings before it connects. You give up long before that, grab the competitors catalog off the end table and call their 1-800 number. It connects without a full ring. Wow, the competitor must have much better service, right? Nope, they just paid your phone company a fee to be considered the “perferred” vendor over the other. (I know this isn’t feasible in how the phone system really works, but the analogy sounds good.)

This is essentially what the backbone Internet providers are proposing as a new revenue source, charging bigger customers for “preferred” status. The backbone providers claim that they don’t get any more money for higher bandwidth customers. If that’s true, the providers need to fix their funding model and charging structure, not start looking for new ways to suck more money from successful companies that happen to have large piles of market capitalization whose entire business models rely on quick site response times.

Or, swing all the way to the market forces side of the argument and say this is a cost of doing business and a free market economy establishing appropriate charges.

Youth tobacco possesion

A few of my friends in Hoopeston and I were just discussing this sometime in the last couple of months. Now the Champaign city council is considering an ordinance to make tobacco possesion by anyone 17 and under a violation with a $145 fine. There are some really quality, bickering quotes to be had. First up, the CU Smokefree Alliance:

The CU Smokefree Alliance, which has led the fight for a smoking ban in public places in Champaign-Urbana, also will not support the proposed ordinance, according to spokesman Matt Varble.
The alliance believes the proposal “is a bad idea whose time has not come,” Varble wrote in a news release.
“It appears that the mayor is simply pretending to be anti-tobacco in a way that blames our youth for tobacco problems when, in fact, the problem is citywide and spans beyond youth possession,” Varble said.
The best way for underage youths to learn not to smoke “is for adults to stop smoking in public places,” he said.
“A focus solely on youth possessing cigarettes says smoking is wrong for kids, but just fine once you reach 18 and beyond,” Varble wrote. “It’s not.”

A “bad idea whose time has not come”? Aren’t you just trying to reduce the overall number of smokers and hence the people that die of tobacco related causes? Or not.
Next up, a quote from a council member:

Council member Giraldo Rosales, who strongly supported a smoking ban in restaurants and bars, said he won’t support the mayor’s proposal.
“They bring out the health issue, but when we wanted to ban smoking in restaurants and bars, it wasn’t a health issue,” Rosales said.
“To me, we need a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance that includes restaurants and bars and youth … We’ve had no community input. For the mayor to come up with this is ridiculous.”

Why do we need an all encompassing, comprehensive ordinance that serves your political needs when this will probably do just about as much, if not more, to curb teen smoking as banning smoking in public places? Hit them in the pocketbooks and move on. Or, keep arguing to make it look like you are more anti-tobacco than the mayor when, here in the real world, you both know that neither one of these proposals will pass as is.

The details of our discussion are pretty hazy, but I’m fairly certain we agreed on a higher fine than that and some level of forced parent involvement in the process. Probably not perfect either, but we are just a group of friends chatting over dinner.

small mindedness

One of the guest writers over at TPM finally brings up one of the more important points of the right-wing talk radio and FoxNews revolution:

Why on Earth should anybody confine their reading to those writers with whom they agree on everything? The best way to learn is to read arguments you disagree with.

That’s precisely the reason buffoons like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly are on the air, people like to have their narrow-minded talking points reinforced to the point they have to be true.
And this quote gives a nice little window into the “high minded, hoity-toityness” that Rush and Bill like to pin on the Democrats:

if you spurn it or any other voice solely on ideological grounds, you’re dooming yourself to small-mindedness. Sorry to get preachy. I just find this mentality baffling.

It’s fine to stand outside the debate and say “I’m not going to lower myself to your level of thinking” but when the other side spins that back as “See, they think they are better than you, you’re just a bunch of dumb rednecks and religious nuts to them”, you’ve got to do something.

And, now, Harry Shearer, of The Simpsons and Spinal Tap is taking over TPM for a few days.