Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Ban plastic bags? I've got a better idea...

Plastic bags, or better yet, all disposable bags should be TAXED not banned.

Both plastic and paper bags (all disposable bags) are bad for the environment. It is unclear which is worse. They both seem equally bad. Yet both are sometimes needed. So rather than out right banning one or the other, it would be better to use strong economic incentives to reduce their use and encourage reuse/recycling. Plus we could use the extra money to balance our state budget.

If it cost 5 cents for each disposable bag and you could get 2 cents back for each one turned in, I bet there would be close to zero bags blowing around.

For more see the San Jose Mercury News article (July 29, 2008) at:

"Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry."

Gay-marriage opponents are upset because on the November ballot the Proposition 8 introduction will say "Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry."

I say "call a spade a spade." This is exactly what Proposition 8 is going to do in face of the CA Supreme Court decision to protect this right. There is no need to mince words or use euphemisms. Better to just cut to the chase.

For more see the front page San Jose Mercury News article (July 29, 2008) at:

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Obama's Foreign Policy Ability Looking Good

Not so long ago Obama was criticized by the Republicans and McCain for a lack of foreign policy experience. Yet his recent trip through Afghanistan, Iraq, Germany, France, and England shows he is better at Foreign Policy and Diplomacy than McCain, Bush, or any recent US President I can recall.

In just this one pre-election trip he already has the endorsement of the current Iraqi government, Obama's troop withdrawal plan is aligned with what Iraq wants, he is hanging tough regarding Afghanistan, and he articulated a compelling position in Germany to a live audience of 200,000 (!!!!) that helps rebuild America's tattered world image.

If he can do so much before becoming President, just imagine what he could do after becoming President.

Plus Obama appears much more Presidential than McCain or even our current President Bush. Obama is measured, he is balanced, he is poised, he is inspirational, he is reasonable, he is mature, and he is being a true leader. In contrast McCain seems whiny, shrill, clumsy, ill-spoken, prone to error, out of touch, and over the hill.

I hope all of you will support and vote for Obama when it's time.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

New Citizen Voter Registration Blocked

Who gains the most from this? Probably the current Republican administration.

On July 19th a San Jose Mercury News article entitled "County Voter Drive Blocked" ( noted that the Department of Homeland Security was making it harder for new citizens to register to vote.

The Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters had found an easy way to make good use of slack time during naturalization ceremonies to fill out paper work so it could be submitted immediately after each person became a citizen. The Department of Homeland Security decided it was not appropriate to prepare such paperwork ahead of time.


I disagree with Homeland Security here. We should work to make our processes more efficient and effective rather than putting unnecessary bureaucracy in the way.

U.S. Rep. Sam Farr, D-Salinas, said "It's ironic that the agency tasked with promoting citizenship in our country would throw up obstacles to voting, one of the fundamental actions of a citizen." "DHS should be trying to make the process easier, not harder."

I fully agree. Registering to vote should be an automatic part of becoming a new citizen for everyone.

Hurray for Stephanie Lenz and EFF

Corporations and other large moneyed interests want to control as much as they can. Their goal is to maximize profit and not watch out for the rights of regular folks unless it makes them more money. (That's just the nature of the beast, although every now and then there are exceptions like Ben and Jerry's.)

Luckily there are some brave souls who stand up for their rights and in so doing protecting those rights for the rest of us. People like Stephanie Lenz. Universal Music was a bully and forced YouTube to take down a short 29 second baby video just because it happened to include a snippet of Prince's "Let's Go Crazy".

Universal Music should have applied a reasonableness test to this before making the request. Likewise, Google and YouTube should have used better common sense in reviewing the situation before taking the content down as well. But it is usually cheaper and easier to stick it to the little people rather than push back on other corporations. Money talks.

Thankfully EFF (whom I support) stepped into help Stephanie and they have taken the fight back to Universal Music. Hopefully this will make corporations more careful about respecting the rights of others rather than trampling them willy-nilly.

For more information on Stephanie's case, please see:

Basically corporations will do whatever they can get away with, even if it is not right or legal.

For more information on EFF and their work to protect free speech from copyright and trademark abuses, please see:

Friday, July 18, 2008

U.S. and Iraq Agree to Goals for Troop Cuts, Bush shifting

Wow, President Bush is actually changing his mind about troop withdrawals from Iraq! I'm glad he is finally listening to the overwhelming majority of the American public who want us out of Iraq.

And I'm glad he listened to the Iraqi government when it requested "a time frame for the complete transfer of the security responsibilities to the hands of the Iraqi security as preface to decrease the number of the American forces and withdraw them later from Iraq."

I've been participating in peace rallies since the Iraq war began over 5 years ago and I'm getting a bit tired of it. I'll be happy when I can stop hanging out on street corners to remind the US to pursue peace not war.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Europeans love Obama

The NY Times Op-Ed "Obama at the Gate" by the German author Christoph Peters nailed Bush and promoted Obama -- mirroring the sentiment of all the Europeans I talked with on my recent 3 week visit to Italy, Austria, Croatia, and the Netherlands.

Says Christoph: "George W. Bush’s contempt for the rules and institutions of international politics, his revival of preventive war, with all its unforeseeable consequences, his abrogation of the rule of law in his own country, and his ignorance of every issue related to environmental conservation have become, for me and for the vast majority of Germans, synonymous with a high-handed, ugly America. This state of affairs has provoked not only rage and horror, but also great sadness, for the United States has always been the symbol of freedom, democracy and law."

I completely agree.

The wonderful and remarkable thing is, as I've experienced first hand in talking to Europeans, Obama is doing more to restore the world's faith in the United States then any recent US President -- and he is not yet the US President even! The United States with its vision of equality, freedom, and civil rights is a hero to many -- when we actually practice those virtues.

I sincerely hope Obama does become President and is able to finish restoring the trust others want have in the US as a government that supports life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness -- for all.

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