Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Carnival of the Decline of Democracy - Edition 2.11

Welcome to the Carnival of the Decline of Democracy, Edition 2.11 - Blogging 'till the secret police take us away.

Carnival of the Decline of Democracy Leading us off this week is Barry Leiba with The primary problem posted at Staring At Empty Pages.

Doug Ragan presents Bush's Approval Rating at 33%, Congress 29% posted at I'm a Pundit Too.

vjack presents Democratic Party Should Be Ashamed posted at Atheist Revolution.

John presents Human Rights and Matthew Shepard posted at hell's handmaiden.

Madeleine Begun Kane presents If This Is True, My Head May Explode and Bush's Iraq Strategy: Here ... Catch! posted at Mad Kane's Political Madness.

Now, I don't know about you, but I need a damn break. The Carnival of the Decline of Democracy will return - hell, with a presidential election coming up, it's got to return - but I'm going to wait just a bit before it does. Thank you for your patience.

More information on future carnivals can be found on our carnival home page.

Monday, May 21, 2007

California Über Alles ~ We've Got a Bigger Problem Now

From the San Francisco Chronicle, Monday, May 21, 2007:
As the costs for fixing the state's troubled corrections system rocket higher, California is headed for a dubious milestone -- for the first time the state will spend more on incarcerating inmates than on educating students in its public universities.

Based on current spending trends, California's prison budget will overtake spending on the state's universities in five years. No other big state in the country spends close to as much on its prisons compared with universities.
Our wondrous state legislature has decided to spend $7.4 billion to build 40,000 new prison beds - all in addition to the current annual prisons budget of more than $10 billion. "Interest payments alone on the billions of dollars of bonds that will be sold to finance the new construction will amount to $330 million a year by 2011."

Does the fact that we'll be investing in prisons far more than we'll be investing in higher education say anything about our priorities? Let's ask Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez:
"I'll tell you what, it's clearly not a statement of our priorities. Our policies are hurting the economy of California. This is a disservice to our economy."
Well then, surely the new spending is supported by the legislators that oversee prison spending. Let's check in with Assemblyman Todd Spitzer, chairman of the committee overseeing the state's prison construction efforts:
"I'm not defending the damn department. The department is a shambles. They couldn't build their way out of a paper bag. Everyone has a reason to be skeptical. Everyone is holding their breath, hoping that this time they're successful."
Well, I feel much better knowing that prison spending is not a higher priority than higher education (even though we're spending more on it), and that we don't actually believe that throwing money at the prison system will fix it (even though that's what we're doing instead of looking for solutions).

This is probably a very good thing, actually. Because when we allow our educational systems to go to hell, we'll have a higher and higher percentage of our population in prisons, and it will become a higher priority than education. And then, once everybody' in prison, we can educate them there! It all makes perfect sense.

NOTE: This post's title is in reference to two songs by the Dead Kennedys - California Über Alles and its sequel We've Got A Bigger Problem Now.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Pentagon to Test Compassionate Torture on Stuffed Animals

The BetterBadNews panel hear a twisted pitch for compassionate torture, skewering congressional Republicans, lifeless Democrats and the mainstream press for failing in their obligation to act as a check against abuses of government power.

The panel was also stunned by an astonishingly effective speech delivered by Al Gore laying out a case for impeachment. Gore called on Republicans and Democrats to pull themselves away from their TV screens and take notice of the incremental dissolution of representative government.

Video produced by betterbadnews.com, "Half true, more or less, 100% of the time"

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

A Prince of a Soldier

At first, I was a bit torn about how to react to the news that Britain's Prince Harry, third in line for the throne, will be deployed to Iraq soon.

On the one hand, I've always said that if our leaders children were the ones on the front lines, our war decisions would very different. I admire the courage of this young man to not hide behind his title, but to fight for what he believes is right (even if I disagree with the war itself).

But are the royal family really the "leaders" of the United Kingdom? I'm an American, so I can't say with full accuracy what the English think, but it seems they're more symbolic and cultural leaders than political ones.

And as symbolic as the royal family is, this is not just any prominent son that we are talking about. It's not just young Harry's life that's on the line here, but the lives of every other soldier that is deployed with this attractive moving target.

In this situation, being a symbolic leader is far more dangerous than being a political one. And some British army chiefs have warned against his deployment as a "potential nightmare":
"When it comes to a Prince this is not just a matter of humanity for operational concerns, it has a potentially big strategic importance," said Mr Reid. "I'm not talking about the death, but the capture and so on."
As much as the democrat (small "d") in me would love to see somebody of Harry's stature on the front lines with the average soldier, I have to agree with Mr. Reid. This is a strategic decision, with possible major repercussions on how this war is fought.

I don't think it's worth the risks. Any positive spin for the war effort by Harry's willingness to go has been accomplished (for better or worse). It's time to end this dangerous game and ground this prince's ambitions. More soldiers do not need to risk their lives so that this privileged young man can prove he's warrior of the people.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Sponsoring The Human Race

One of my current nonprofit consulting clients is Grail Family Services in San Jose (GFS), California. I am helping them out as the Interim Executive Director while we work on some long-term strategic issues and decisions.

GFS does great work the East San Jose area, focusing on early childhood literacy, parenting, and family empowerment. All the programs are created with community input, and include strong evaluation components to track what works, and what doesn't. It's a fabulous organization that I am proud to be a part of.

This month we are participating in the Human Race fundraising event that is put on by the Volunteer Center of Silicon Valley. The Human Race is your basic pledge walk/run with a 5K walk and 5K and 10K runs. You've seen these before; we have a group of board members, staff, and volunteers who will be walking or running and we're asking for your support by pledging a donation.

If you'd like more information, or to make a donation, please click on this link to go to my pledge page. Thanks for your support!

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