Look out Vermont...

Kinda big but not really news last week in Carson City: the Nevada Senate - the grooviest Senate - approved the Domestic Partnership Act, placing similar responsibilities on and granting similar rights to domestic partners as spouses.

(Wow. Run-on sentence.)

It is kinda big because, as Vermont demonstrated recently, gay marriage will have to be resolved by elected legislatures rather than by courts. I could've told you this years ago, but nobody listens to me.

It is not really big because it is clearly just a work-around of Nevada's Constitutional amendment recognizing marriage as only between a man and a woman.

Whatever. None of that really interests me. What does interest me, tho, are the vote patterns. First, a quick overview: the Act, (SB 283, currently) creates the civil contract of domestic partnership and extends to it almost all the same legal status as marriage. The one exception - and it is a big one - is that public employers are not required to extend health care benefits to domestic partners. Likely, this was key to getting the bill thru the Senate, where two of its key supporters would have blanched at the possibility of people forming partnerships to bilk the State out of millions in health care coverage.

Those two supporters were Republicans Mike McGuiness and Randolph Townsend. Two Dems also voted against the bill, John Lee and Terry Care. None of that is shocking.

Before the bill passed, though, Senator Bill Raggio gave a shot at torpedoing it with an amendment. This time honored parliamentary tactic is used with special gusto in Nevada, where creative legislators choose not to write poison pills, so much as potentially-interesting pills. They're like ecstasy dealers at a club, challenging the limits of their colleagues' self-control.

Raggio's amendment was pretty ingenious. It didn't gut the bill, it reworked its tone from the embrace of domestic partnership to to the tolerance of it. For example, the bill states that
"domestic partners have the same rights, protections and benefits, and are subject to the same responsibilities, [...] as are granted to and imposed upon spouses."
Raggio proposed changing this to,
"Parties to a contract of the type described in subsection 1 of section 6 of this act have substantially the same rights, protections and benefits, and are subject to the same responsibilities, [...] as are granted to and imposed upon spouses."


And if you're wondering, those "substantially similar" rights were
  • Inheritance
  • The planning of funerals
  • The right to make medical decisions
All of which, I assume, can be easily established in a will. So Raggio's amendment would've been the emptiest of gestures.

How did it fare on the floor? It lost, 11 - 10. But since the final bill passed 12 - 9, somebody took Raggio's bait and almost derailed the whole thing. That person was Senator Maggie Carlton, who voted both for Raggio's amendment and the final bill.

That might've been an oversight by Senator Carlton, but every Republican - including the two who ultimately allowed the bill to pass - also voted for Raggio's not-quite-poison pill. Moreover, both Democrats who voted against the bill also voted against the amendment. To me, this suggests that it was a coordinated strategy to lure Democratic supporters, like flies happily meandering into a venus fly trap. Raggio damn near pulled it off.

Now the bill has to go to the Assembly, where Nevada's greatest public servant will, I'm sure, have something nice to say.

Egoism as foreign policy

On Morning Joe it seems that Scarborough and Buchanan are really offended by Obama's behavior at the Summit of the Americas. (He shook Hugo Chavez's hand and accepted a token gift.)

The question put before them both was, "How does this weaken America?" Joe answered, I dunno, it just sucks they say means things about us. Pat, naturally, suggested that the Chinese and Russians would perceive it as an opportunity to push us around.

Look, a more open, progressive, liberal foreign engagement may or may not make us 'safer.' Frankly, no rhetorical stance will really alter national security. What it does do is weaken hawkish positions at home. Why we would demand respect from Nicaragua, I have no idea.

We don't act like such jerks to Canada or Mexico, and I don't think we significantly harm our relations with them when we decline to respond to their insults to our honor. In fact, we reveal our nation to be what it is: a confident people leading the world.

It also makes the hawks look like whiny little bullies.

So much win!!!

Please visit Men Who Look Like Old Lesbians, a benchmark work of cultural criticism. For example, consider this post:

Sen. Mitch McConnell. Kentucky's slightly less goofy Republican senator whose credentials on financial crisis include modeling his appearance on actress who played asst. to bank president on "Beverly Hillbillies."

The Tubes have blessed us this day. Let us show thanks!

Disney templates

I totally stole this from Lifeku, but... yeah.

Hella awesome

Today, I honor and embrace my NorCal heritage by donning my people's traditional costume:

Jeans and flip-flops!

Support the Black Rock!

Pointing your attention over to the membership drive at Friends of Black Rock / High Rock!

Please show them some mulah for a very good cause. The guys who run this are working hard to make it into a top notch Friends organization. They lead tours, promote safety, and demonstrate a lot of passion for the playa.

The Black Rock Desert has served as the setting of the classic Marilyn Monroe film The Misfits as well as the very first episode of MythBusters.

Of course, it is also home to the annual Burning Man Festival. So if you support extracurricular activities for hippies, or just like getting them all to leave the Bay Area for one weekend every year, do pony up!

Mother Nature thanks you.

Great légume, or GREATEST légume?

The housemate just introduced me to arugula today. I think it may be the best vegetable I've ever eaten.

Move over Vidalia onions, there's a new kid in town!

An epiphany, I has it!

I'm kinda just having a moment here, so pardon any oddness or discontinuity in this post. We're gettin' our stream-of-consciousness on.

(Pic related... read further.*)

My epiphany is about my reading material. I'm always in the middle of something, but only one book at a time. Instead, I should be reading two books at a time! It goes like this... bear with me...

I'm checkin' out this classic LiveJournal on Nice Guys by DivaLion. It is good biscuits. It also references the Five Geek Social Fallacies theory.

To wit:
There are a lot of Nice Guys out there, and they are incredibly insidious, because on the surface they SEEM so sweet, so misunderstood, so very different from the boorish asshole who cheated on you or told you that those pants do, indeed, make your ass look fat. But in the end, they turn out to be using their "niceness" as an excuse to hide behind, much like medieval aristocracy used cloying perfumes to cover up the ass-stank of their unwashed bodies.
Myself, I have had to learn to manage my pathogenic niceguyism, developed during my high school years. One of the things I have figured out is that depression (or my depression, anyway) is described with inaccurate metaphors. Depression is not 'darkness' and 'isolation' but quite the opposite: it's hypersensitivity to social situations. I once wrote that my adolescence felt like walking down a hallway that's too crowded, or a light so bright it forces me to turn my head down and squint.

Nevertheless, a decade after puberty finished up, I do occasionally find myself backsliding into Nice Guy behavior and Nice Guy thoughts. (Tho it says alot that I am finally aware of my own psychology.) My life now revolves around finding tools to manage my niceguyism and identifying the triggers. Knowledge is good, but it's only a first step.

Returning to DivaLion:
Here is a classic example of a Nice Guy experience that I had in high school[...] I was friends with a circle of about four guys who were all very tight with each other, all to varying degrees both nice guys and Nice Guys. [...] The most recent addition to the group who was very quiet and who I probably knew the least [...] decided he had a huge crush on me. This did not prompt him to, say, talk to me more or anything, so I remained blissfully ignorant until I slowly began to piece together the cryptic comments, weird behavior, and snickers of those guy friends whenever I was around.
"Holy crap." That's what I muttered to myself when I read the passage. It's unsettling to fall so neatly into a stranger's social categorization, but that's the Tubes for ya.

Coping with my behavior has been tricky. Which brings me back to my epiphany about reading material. It can take me a long time to get through a book, not because I'm a slow reader, but because I am not always in the mood to read what I've assigned myself.

For example, right now I'm reading The Shadow Factory by James Bamford. I'm enjoying the read, and learning a lot of new things about the NSA and the U.S. intelligence systems. Emotionally, it meets a specific need by directing my libido onto my greatest fixation, politics. Other recent titles that met this need were Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin and The Discourses by Niccolò Machiavelli.

At the moment, that's the direction I want my libido pointing. Occasionally, however, I like letting it roam free, finding its own course and discovering new and amazing passions for me to pursue. Like a new puppy, it's never easy but often rewarding. For that, I have read George Burns' inimitable biography of his wife, Gracie, a Love Story. I've also used My Name is Red, by Orhan Pamuk as well as the poetry of Rumi.

What I need is to have something from both stacks sitting on my nightstand at any given moment. To put it succinctly, sometimes I want to turn myself on. Other times, I want to forget about that altogether. Can anyone recommend some new material for my 'passionate' reading stack?

*I am a supervillian. My superpowers are giving directions and the ability to put many things into a confined space (like loading luggage into a car trunk). Stay out of my way, do-gooders!

Gotta love interns

This is the horoscope for Taurus from about a month ago. He's not a Taurus, but this one goes out to my brother, nonetheless.

Taurus Apr 20 - May 20

NASA officials will once again select you for a very important mission.
Though, to be fair, going out and getting them coffee isn't as exciting as it used to be.

Peeps Show

It's Peeps Show III from the Post! Make with the clicking and vote for your fave. And enjoy this classic Peeps Show diorama.

Happy Easter, everybody!

Freudian blogging

It seems that recent activity on this blog has been... libidinous. So, in keeping with the theme, I thought I'd discuss one of my great lost romances: former Nevada Senator Bob Beers. Scandalmonger thinks the R-J has picked Mike Montandon as his replacement.

I feel compelled to remind the world, once again, that Bob Beers cannot be replaced. He will forever have a special place in my heart. Perhaps, I may one day learn to love again... but until then, Review-Journal, do not toy with my emotions!

That last post was me drunk...

...this post is me hungover. (Pic unrelated)

I found a blog dedicated to the six-word story. There are 150 pages of submissions to read thru (!!!), but this is my fave so far.

Daniel Flores says:

forgetful at names, unlucky in love


Two Women

I tend to see everything as a composition - including women. Subject then secondary subject. Compositional elements such as line, texture, or shape move my eyes from one subject to the next.

There is one woman, who, when I look at her, the first thing I see is her hemline, then her bust, then her eyes.

It is like a rationalization. As if I feel compelled to take the path I do.

Then, there is another woman. I look at her eyes first, then her bust, then... I get lost. I don't know what to look at next.

That is why I flirt with her. I want to finish the composition.

Some new pictures

Blossoms #1, originally uploaded by Packherd.

Check 'em out down in the photostream, d00dz!

Fighting Illegal Aliens

If only Gov. Schwarzenegger's accent were really this awesome.

Tom McClintock supports big government!

Good news, everybody! Tom McClintock, Congressman from Ventura County, has once again put pen to paper for our entertainment. HE'S THE CONSERVATIVE JON STEWART.

Says Tom in an editorial in the Bee:
Earmarking is the process by which individual congressmen direct federal money to favored recipients without competitive bidding or open debate, bypassing the normal appropriations process that requires projects to be impartially evaluated on their merits and competitively bid.

It should be no wonder that virtually all of the political corruption cases affecting Congress – including the infamous Jack Abramoff scandal – involve congressional earmarks.

As well as, we should point out, Republican luminaries such as 'Duke' Cunningham, Bob Ney, and the King of the Gnomes.

So how, you may be asking yourself, does Travelin' Tom's principled stance against the unfairness of earmarking make him a shameless big government liberal?

You see, absent congressional procedures to affect spending, the decisions are made by UNELECTED BUREAUCRATS ensconced in their sprawling FEDERAL AGENCIES. These people use complicated formulae, with limited public input, to allocate tax dollars. Is your highway in desperate need of expansion since your town recently attracted a big new employer? Tough cookies. It's going to Nowheresville. The pencil pusher says so.

Why, thanks to Tom McClintock's unequivocal support for Executive prerogative, the Obama Administration can finally get to work undoing years of Bush-era pro-growth policies. Obama appointees at EPA will have all the money they need to enforce punitive environmental regulations, such as the Clean Water Act and the Roadless Rule, thereby tying the hands of private investors for decades.

I suppose Tom McClintock could've rolled up his sleeves and gotten to work finding funds for forest fire prevention, or to aid the restoration of Lake Tahoe. He could've put his ideology to the side for once to fight in the interest of his constituents.

But that would be unfair.

The most boring parlor game in CA politics

Will DiFi run for Governor? It's the question that's on everyone's mind. Well, my mind anyway. Her decision would set off a domino-effect that could determine who California's next governor is. Or isn't.

Here's two recent takes on the matter.

First, calbuzz gives us the skinny on why DiFi will not run.
As reporters who covered Feinstein over several decades as a mayor, statewide candidate (including her losing 1990 race for governor against Pete Wilson) and U.S. senator, we recognize the signs of her obsessive flirtation with the political spotlight, and offer three words you can take to the bank:

She won’t run.

As chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and of the Subcommittee on Interior and Environment of Appropriations, Feinstein is better positioned, not only to pursue her passion for national security and foreign policy, but also her concern over big environmental issues such as water policy.

As a politician, Feinstein is risk-averse; as a campaigner she is often a cranky warrior, for whom the delights of having breakfast with local ministers at the Barstow Holiday Inn are well-eclipsed by the cozy bonhomie of Georgetown dinner parties. Feinstein despises primary fights and at least some Democrats positioning themselves for 2010 — Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown and Lt. Gov. John Garamendi come to mind — are unlikely to step aside for her, guaranteeing an expensive and exhausting battle.
All good points. But what does Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight have to say?
And what is there for Feinstein to gain by [her opposition to EFCA]? Well, money. Winning a race in a state as large and diverse as California is exceptionally expensive. Moreover, campaign finance laws are much laxer in California. Individuals and PACs can contribute up to $24,100 (.pdf) in California in both the primary and the general election, much higher than the $2,300 federal limit. By hedging her bets on EFCA, Feinstein stands to make herself more attractive to corporate contributors. She might also differentiate herself as the moderate candidate in a field of liberals, which is not a bad strategy since California's primaries are open to independent and Republican voters.

So the upshot of her lukewarmness on EFCA is this, I think: Dianne Feinstein is running for governor.
I like that Nate calls it an "upshot" that DiFi would run for Governor. While I appreciate Nate's analysis and willingness to connect policy to politics, callbuzz has the history. DiFi certainly is a powerful figure in the Senate and she could have a lot of influence over the Obama Administration. It's tough giving that up, at her age, for the chance to try your hand at running the state.

But that is exactly what she, and most California politicians, dream of doing. One doesn't go into politics for the ease and comfort, and no one goes into California politics to chase some measly Beltway gig. Sacramento is the prize.

She probably shouldn't run, because it would be expensive and bloody and hard. She can do so much for California from Washington. I'd like her to run, for my own centrist sensibilities. If she does run, it will be because she believes that any other Dem nominee is doomed to defeat by the prospective GOP nominee.

And that analysis - Brown, Newsom, or Villaraigosa vs. Poizner or Whitman - is the analysis I have yet to see...