Ann Coulter Displays some GOP Humor

video at thinkprogress. Disgusting woman, really.

The Sun Finds a New Bandwagon to Jump On

This happens to be the "Make Barack Obama less Attractive to Black Voters with Meaningless 'Research' " bandwagon. Let me just say, its one hell of an ugly and silly bandwagon.

The whole dust up is about new "research" showing Obama's relatives may have once owned slaves. This is the same research that the writer of which has attached this disclaimer to:
"The following material ... should not be considered either exhaustive or authoritative, but rather as a first draft."

Well, I am so glad it made it into a Sun, in that case.

The article itself spans two pages, overkill I would say for what is admittedly a rumor. White people once owned slaves in America. Anyone with any sort of white American blood faces the chance of their ancestors once being slave owners. Not the best conversation starter at a Hopkin's Frat Party, but still, a widely known and undisputed fact.

And what if it isn't a rumor? It still means nothing at all. The only thing it accomplishes is to make more voters, particularly Black voters in Maryland, call into question Senator Obama's "blackness." I find this tactic a little more than offensive, and all readers of the Sun should as well.

I guess the Baltimore City Mayor's Race is Already Underway

I have sent several emails to Mayor Dixon over the past two months, and today I finally got one back. It wasn't a response to anything I had written, but instead an invitation to a survey. I can't tell if this is the start of campaign season or just a nice way to reach out. Either way, the communication is appreciated. Now, if we can just work on those email responses...

Update:And speaking of campaigns, there is a Maryland Democratic Party 2008 Presidential straw poll going on.

Its really a shame, because Al Gore is included and he isn't yet running, so the results are terribly skewed.


Employee Free Choice Act: Maryland Votes Down Party Lines

On occasion, Republicans Rep. Bartlett and Rep. Gilchrest vote with Democrats in the house. Maryland's unified vote against the Torture bill was a great example of this phenomenon.

Today that was not the case, and Maryland's two Republican Reps voted against working people and against the Employee Free Choice Act. All of Maryland's Democratic House members voted for the Bill. For a better analysis of the issue than I can give here, check out this mydd post.

Generally, I stand with unions. I find it much more easy to believe that big business is more actively involved in subverting workers rights than unions. I fear much more the lack of an ability to organize than workers being forced to do so.

Free State Politics to move to Community Style Blog

This is wonderful news. Lets do this.

Update:I should have added this earlier, but all my respect and thanks to Onbackground, Issac Smith, and all the amazing bloggers at Free State Politics who have been at this for much longer than myself and can take all the credit for this awesome opportunity.

Dailykos: Gun Control

Encouraging discussion over at Dailykos about gun control. It seems like the left is finally ready to leave gun control behind. Gun control, like drug prohibition, just doesn't work, not to mention, it can be a wedge issue that drives away many of the Midwest Democrats who helped the party gain their recent majority.

Baltimore Indymedia: J.H. Kunstler at Loyola

James Howard Kunstler: “America, Think Downscale!”

I have read only one of Kustler's books, "The Geography of Nowhere" which I really enjoyed. After spending most of my life in the growing suburbs of Carroll County, Kunstler's biting critique of suburban infrastructure and the influence of the "car culture" hit home.


Universal Health Care NOW

Lets make these nightmares a thing of the past.

The State of Maryland just spent $250,000 on a toothache, and in the end, it still wasn't enough to save the life of 12 year-old Dearmonte Driver. Universal Health Care would have saved Dearmonte's life, and saved the State of Maryland over $200,000.

Universal Health Care would have guaranteed Dearmonte dental coverage from any dentist in the state. His toothache would have been taken care of, either for free or for a few dollars. Tooth extraction isn't a difficult process, and any dentist can perform the procedure. Instead, Dearmonte was on medicaid and his parents were unable to find a Medicaid dentist to see him.

What happened to Dearmonte and his family is unacceptable. Its time to stop ignoring the uninsured. If we continue to do so, we risk both moral and economic peril.

Update:Another opinion at the Old Line.


Plaid Adder at DU: Funny Like A Fox

Check out this well written article analyzing the "humor" behind "The 1/2 Hour News Hour."

In case you are unaware, this is the Conservative response to the Daily Show, created by the torture mongers who brought you 24. I can't wait for the water boarding jokes!

a good bit:

"The 1/2 Hour News Hour" has taken "false wit" to a brand new place. Apart from one setup joke about Obama's rock-star popularity and a random fart reference, all the jokes in this segment rely for their meaning on arbitrary coincidence--most particularly the arbitrary coincidence of skin color. Almost all the jokes in that segment work by drawing a connection between Obama and another well-known and (to FOX's audience) sinister figure who has little in common with Obama except for not being white. For instance, the punchline to the revelation that Obama has admitted to cocaine use in adolescence is an endorsement from Marion Barry--a corrupt African-American Democratic politician with widely publicized drug problems. The next gag is a reminder that Obama's middle name, "Hussein," is the same as the last name of the Middle Eastern dictator we just executed--which carries in it the embedded reminder that Obama's last name is only one letter away from the first name of the Saudi Arabian terrorist we still haven't tracked down. This leads into an ad for "BO Magazine" (again, the joke is based on the arbitrary coincidence between Barak Obama's intitials and the playground acronym for "body odor") which is a parody of Oprah's "O" magazine--Oprah being, of course, another African-American public figure wildly popular with white middle-class Americans. One of the fake articles that flashes during the voiceover is titled, "Obama or Tiger Woods--Which Is More Diverse?", another comparison based on the apparently endlessly amazing fact that, like Woods, Obama is African-American.

I guess I can sort of see how this string of coincidences plays on the latent xenophobia and racism of your assumed target audience in order to demonize Obama...but even so, how is it funny? There's no element of surprise, there's no revelation, and it doesn't actually say anything about either Obama or the media's Obamania. All it says is, hey, Obama's black, just like these people. And he's also a Democratic front runner. And he's popular with the media. Isn't that HILARIOUS?


White House meets with Terrorist who Lauded the Deaths of US Troops in Iraq

Via Thinkprogress:

So the White House recently met with and hosted Walid Jumblatt, a Lebanese Racist, anti-semite, and for all intents and purposes, a terrorist who cheers the death's of American troops in Iraq. He was at the White House asking for US led regime change in Syria. Terrible ideas such as that aside, the White House needs to answer for consorting with this complete POS.

Some of Mr. Jumblatt's greatest hits:
– “We are all happy when U.S. soldiers are killed [in Iraq] week in and week out. The killing of U.S. soldiers in Iraq is legitimate and obligatory.”

– “The oil axis is present in most of the U.S. administration, beginning with its president, vice-president and top advisers, including (Condoleezza) Rice, who is oil-colored, while the axis of Jews is present with Paul Wolfowitz, the leading hawk who is inciting (America) to occupy and destroy Iraq.”

– “In November 2003, the United States revoked Jumblatt’s diplomatic visa for wishing out loud that Wolfowitz had been killed in a Baghdad rocket attack.”
This man received a standing ovation from the conservative American Enterprise Institute. This man sat comfortably in the White House prescribing strategy to our Commander in Chief. Disgusting.


Baltimore City Ban's Smoking in Bars, Restaurants

Finally. As a smoker and sometimes libertarian, I have had many long, unresolved arguments over this legislation, and I am glad to finally see it pass if only to end those arguments. Furthermore, from a public health standpoint, the ban really was necessary, and I support it's passage despite my earlier reservations.

While I will miss my after lunch cigarette at the Charles Village Pub on weekends, I will find some way to cope.

What I did find interesting about the bill was the deadlock over it's passage and the apparent work that Mayor Dixon had to put in to end it.
In addition to the maneuvering, the ban also received an important last-minute push by Dixon. Though she had been publicly supportive of the ban for months, several observers said the new mayor -- who often lists health as a major priority of her administration -- made a series of phone calls to members who had abstained on past votes.

"She definitely demonstrated her power," said Frank D. Boston, a lobbyist for the Baltimore Licensed Beverage Association, who said he believed early Monday that he still had a chance of killing the measure. "Before today, I had the votes."
For a Mayor who has such a short tenure before facing an election battle, Dixon made a good move flexing her muscle here. I am still ambivalent about the candidates in the upcoming Mayor's race (besides than my profound distaste for Councilman Mitchell) but Sheila Dixon just scored some points.

While Hundreds Crowd Homeless Shelters, Baltimore City Demolishes a Block of Houses

Faced with a snowy weekend and an untimely BGE turnoff notice, I was extremely moved by a recent story in the Hamilton Spectator about the Code Blue Bus in Baltimore City. Code Blue is a non-profit organization who provides warmth, shelter, and resources for the homeless of Baltimore City. When the temperature dips into deadly territory, Code Blue picks up street dwellers and gives them somewhere safe and warm to stay for the night.

What is heartbreaking about the article is what is heartbreaking about every contact one might have with a homeless person, the realization that "that could be me". Its a realization that flies in the face of conventional wisdom about the homeless, that they are mostly drug addicts or alcoholics, schizophrenics or Alzheimer's sufferers, or are "just lazy". Even worse is the conventional wisdom that not only takes such statements to be true, but then supposes that for those reasons, the homeless are undeserving of, or beyond help.

Two stories jumped out at me:
Some people grumble about the food and the condition of the bathrooms and the lack of showering facilities.

Others, such as Michelle Holley, a 23-year-old single mother, are grateful.

Holley spends the days at her grandmother's and the nights here with her daughter, 3, and son, 1. She shares a room with several other women. Tonight, her children watch television as she relaxes on the cot.

"It's not the right way to live, for real. But it's OK. I'm trying to get my own place," she says.

"I'm grateful. A lot of people should feel blessed to have someplace to stay until they get themselves together."

The shelter helps the Health Department identify families that should be placed in emergency housing and put in contact with social-service agencies.

On a recent night, Stacey Mouzon, a 26-year-old mother of six, enters the shelter visibly scared.

Tears are streaming down her face as her children's backpacks are opened and examined.

Around her stand five of her children, ranging from a 2-year-old to a 13-year-old.

The Glover-Beys immediately find her a private room and special care.

Settled in later, still shaken, Mouzon says she came to the shelter because she was forced out of her apartment in November 2006 and since then has been moving around among family members and friends.

When the electricity at her aunt's place was cut off, she knew she had to find another place to stay, and so she walked to the shelter.

"I didn't know what it was going to be like," says Mouzon, still crying.

"I don't know where we'll go tomorrow morning"

The next day, Mouzon and her family are placed in emergency housing at a hotel, and they're assigned a case manager with the city's housing program.

This is where my stretch of a headline and stretch of a point come in. As many may already know, Baltimore demolished a whole block of historic row houses on Saturday.

Now, I am sure if the houses remained, they would not have priority for low income housing or any sort of program to place the newly homeless in affordable housing. Still, the City Council's extremely overzealous actions on behalf of the Developer to get these houses removed ASAP deserves some attention. Now, the recent articles about the matter simply say this about the Council's complicity in subverting the will of the public in favor of helping out a big developers:
The city granted Mercy a permit to demolish the homes in December after the City Council removed the structures from a list of notable properties in the central business district - a move that allowed the hospital to raze the buildings without a one-year deliberation process.

Indeed, Councilman Keiffer Mitchell was the one who wrote the amendment to de-list the buildings, and he is the one who slipped it into legislation so it wouldn't be questioned or even noticed.
Mercy and the preservation community faced off last fall when City Councilman Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr., at Mercy's request, pushed an amendment to an otherwise innocuous bill that removed the houses from a list of "notable" properties -- a designation that required a one-year waiting period before demolition.

Councilman Mitchell should be ashamed of himself, though I am sure the donations will help him during his run for Mayor. If justice was guaranteed, Mr. Mitchell would lose his bid for Mayor and hopefully his Council seat. His amendment and failure to change the name to reflect the policy within is a direct attempt to mislead the citizens of this city, and he has the balls to think about running for Mayor.

So why do I think these stories are related, beyond the facile observation that we are destroying homes when there is a homeless problem? They are connected because they show who our City Council is working for, and in a lot of cases, it ain't us. Keiffer Mitchell will step up and work hard behind the scenes for his buddies at Mercy Medical so they can get their new center. I want to know who in our City government is working hard behind the scenes to help Stacey Mouzon and her six children? It is disheartening that some Council members would break the law to help a big developer screw over the people. I want to know who is willing to break the law to try to help the poor in this city?

Schooling Baltimore Street

Schooling Baltimore Street chronicles 10 months of youth-led organizing for education equity in Baltimore's public schools. Featuring the stories of three youth advocates, this documentary explores the motivations that can turn students into activists. This video was created by high school students Kyle Halle-Erby and Lendl Tellington to raise awareness for public education issues, and share the voices of those most affected - the students. They produced this video as part of the Mentoring Video Project, Wide Angle's youth leadership and technical production program.

Check it out.