Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Where were they??!!

Today, Samuel Alito was sworn in as the 110th justice of the Supreme Court. Where were our Senators when this happened? Only 25 were willing to support a filibuster to block his nomination. If I remember correctly, the plan was to confirm Roberts so that opposition to Bush's next nominee--who it was predicted would be far scarier than Roberts--wouldn't seem unreasonable. I believed this plan. I told people, no, it's okay, accepting Roberts is part of a strategy. There was no strategy, and I was an idiot for believing in one.

Shame on the Democrats who wouldn't support a filibuster, and shame on the reasonable Republicans who actually voted to confirm Alito. This guy is waaay outside the mainstream, and now we're stuck with him for the rest of his life.

When we needed leaders, so many of our Senators proved to be absolutely spineless.
I am sooo tired of missing real leadership in this country. Thanks, U.S. Senate, for running away when Americans were counting on you. In case you weren't paying attention to public opinion, we would have had your backs.

...and don't even talk to me about criticizing Alito as part of a unified Democratic message or whatever other stupid reaction you have planned. You missed your chance to act decisively, and as far as I'm concerned, we lost because of you.

Thanks to Senators Kerry and Kennedy for leading a filibuster. I, for one, am proud of you!!
Tuesday Morning Quiet Time

I'm at the Sheraton Airport Hilton in Ontario, CA. I miss Devin and I miss my roommates and I miss both of the places that I try to think of as home. I've been traveling a lot between Sacramento and the Bay Area, and this is my second trip to the LA metro area in five days. I'm not complaining. Everywhere I go, there are people to love and friends to see and rewarding work to do and great progressive causes to support. But I do feel a little disjointed because my community is spread throughout the state and 'home' is increasingly hard to define. It doesn't help that I volunteer my personal time for political activities that I can't mention while I'm at work, and I work hard at a job that I shouldn't mention when I'm volunteering. How appropriate that I have finally found a moment of peace in a hotel room so far away from everyone. My room is clean and quiet, and for three hours this morning, I have no obligations to anyone.

I haven't blogged about anywhere I've been or anything I've done because I haven't had time to reflect on any of it. Since I've had a moment this morning to observe my life in the abstract, I can report the same conclusion that I've drawn during the month-long hustle that was January. I am busy.

This is the end of my quiet morning, and I'm off to the Claremont Colleges to recruit the next class of applicants to the Capitol Fellowship Programs. I feel pretty guilty doing this, since the vast majority of people who I encourage to apply will not make it into next year's class. (Most of the time, I can't believe that I got in.) I feel a little better by reminding myself that everyone deserves an opportunity to hear about the program.

Happy Tuesday.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Weekend in Tahoe

The Senate Fellows spent our long weekend in Tahoe. We had planned to ski, but expensive rentals don't really figure into the Fellow stipend, so we took to the slopes with our trusty sleds. Fun, mayhem, and a few painful wipeouts ensued.

All tahoe photos.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Bad Strategy

Doesn't the I.R.S. seek to recover unpaid taxes and prevent fraudulent refunds to increase federal revenues? It seems like the agency is going after the wrong guys. Despite the lack of real payoff, the biggest badest accountants in the land have been busy freezing refunds that are meant for low-income families.

Just who is responsible for setting I.R.S. priorities?
Is privacy our winning issue?

Can Democrats unite the nation and win the hearts of voters with privacy as our top platform issue? In Friday's Altertnet, Cliff Schecter claims that we can.

The article isn't as compelling as it could be, but still offers an interesting--and important--idea about where we should pick our battles.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

State of the State

One of the great traditions of the Senate Fellowship is that Fellows are often given the one and only guest pass that each office receives to the (California) governor's state of the state address.

Watching the address live was great, because I was able to keep track of the things that the news didn't cover, like who clapped when and who wore what.

I also discovered that I can name nearly every person in the California legislature. This is either really sad and indicates that I don't have a life of my own, or sort of cool in an unbelievably nerdy way.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

City minimum wage is good for all

The U.C. Berkeley Institute of Industrial Relations released a study yesterday measuring the impact of San Francisco's minimum wage laws on the city's economy. It turns out that requiring city employers to pay workers a minimum of $8.50 an hour (as opposed to the California's $6.75 minimum wage) isn't hurting employment growth or spurring business closures in the city. Big surprise: Restaurant owners, who employ a large percentage of the city's more than 54,000 workers who earn the minimum wage, contest the validity of the study. They claim that the minimum wage has hurt business in the city by slightly raising the price of a meal at a restaurant.

Um, last time I checked, restaurant dining is not a basic necessity. That's why we tax it, and why it's a perfect commodity to absorb the cost of a fair wage for San Francisco's hardest working people.
Lessons that will come too late for Jack Abramoff

1. Don't do anything that your mother wouldn't be proud of.

2. On your big day in court after you've been busted for taking advantage of people and abusing the democratic process, don't dress like a member of the mafia.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Christmas above Temecula

I bought Devin a hot air balloon ride for Christmas. It turned out to be a bit of a bust, since we took our flight on a very foggy day. Still, it was fun to dangle in a rickety basket a thousand feet up. Other than that, we spent most of the holiday enjoying the company of family. Kimberly and Devin and I had fun playing in Mom's zany room full of costumes. I learned that Devin looks cute as a duck. Mom threw four rockin' holiday parties and proved that she is well on her way to being a skilled fundraiser for whatever good cause she supports, and Kim T. was a good sport about having to do a million errands before the party.

Dad showed us his favorite new hangouts in Escondido. Downtown has really changed since I moved away seven years ago. Where there used to be abandoned storefronts there are now cute, expensive little restaurants and coffee houses and spas. The economy of the entire city is really picking up and downtown is really cute, but I wonder where much of the former population of the city will go if Escondido turns into another one of the bland, gentrified neighborhoods that dominate the less well-thought-out parts of San Diego county. Anyway, dad likes the new coffee houses and he's good. Devin's parents drove down from the Bay Area, and we enjoyed Christmas Eve with his folks and his aunt at his brother's house in Long Beach. Last but not least, I got to spend a lot of time with Kimberly, and just as a little sister should, she bugged the heck out of me (hola Kim!) and that was Christmas.