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Bits & Pieces, January 14, 2007

January 14th, 2007

An 8.2-magnitude earthquake hit the islands north of Japan yesterday. It was big enough to cause a great worry about tsunami, but eventually the warnings were called off when the highest waves seen were only 40 cm high and there were no reports of injuries or damage. Sachi and I went to an Indian restaurant after getting back from the dog walk, and they had NHK (with English) turned on, and they were focused on the story. It sounded scary at the time. And it does make you think: that earthquake could just as easily have hit Tokyo instead of hitting a sparsely-populated area up north.

An interesting look at Schwarzenegger over at C&L, talking about how he has shifted notably to the left. I still am strongly disapproving of the way he came into office–a “recall” election (solely created for the purpose of clearing out someone who did terrible things after an election) used to invalidate an election held only months before. And then Arnold moved in a host of Republican cronies, and tried to push a spate of “reform” initiatives that could have pushed California much farther toward being a red state. There were measures that were specifically aimed at decimating Democratic Party influence and power in the state–specifically, redistricting to favor Republicans, throwing up roadblocks to keep unions from participating in politics, and attacking teacher tenure (both unions and teachers being major Democratic backers).

But after his resounding defeat and then the loss of control by Republicans in Congress, Arnie now seems chastised to the point of becoming halfway reasonable. After losing the initiative fight, he hired a Democrat as his chief of staff, which brought howls of anger from Republicans, not to mention threats of stripping his party endorsement (Kennedy is still in that position today, but I don’t see Republicans throwing Arnold out of the party). And now Arnie is pushing a raise in emissions standards as well as universal health care–both pet Democratic issues.

So, are right-wingers still as vibrantly enthusiastic today about amending the Constitution to allow Schwarzenegger to become president as they were a few years ago? Something tells me that they’re not.

A lot of people have been wondering why Apple would stick to the “iPhone” brand name since the name is owned by Cisco Systems; it would seem a stupid move to invest so much publicity in the name before an agreement could be worked out with Cisco. After all, why invest so much in a name someone else still owns? You’d just be making their case for demands even stronger. You’d be begging for a lawsuit, and why bog down a new product with such legal problems when you have a team of imaginative marketing experts who can think up other cool names?

Well, it turns out that Apple may have done this because Cisco might not own the name, after all. A close read of this article explains how Cisco has probably lost the trademark because they did not use the name for a long time, and probably did not renew the trademark legitimately. If their trademark did indeed lapse, then it would go to Ocean Telecom Services LLC, a firm many people believe is a front company for Apple. Additionally, it appears that several other companies also use the “iPhone” name for their products.

So maybe Apple isn’t so dumb after all.

Four down, two to go. Congress passed a bill to help lower drug costs to seniors by using Medicare’s huge purchasing power to negotiate with drug companies. Enough Republicans opposed this to block a veto-proof majority (only 24 Republicans joined the entire Democratic block), which shows you how bought out they are–after all, Republicans are all about a free market system, right? Let the market decide, let people negotiate… except when they want to benefit their super-rich corporate backers.

Even if Bush vetoes this (as promised threatened) and Democrats force another veto-breaking vote which fails, it will be a huge public relations boon for the Democrats: we support the people, but Bush and the GOP favor far less the people than they do huge corporations which make massive, usurious profits from seniors and taxpayers.

Every one of these 100-Hours issues are supported by a strong majority of Americans. Makes me wonder what the Republicans think they’re doing. Maybe they figure that no one will remember two years from now. I’m guessing that the few dozen House Republicans that voted with Democrats on the last few close votes are ones who are ones who will face very close battles in the next election.

Bush has pretty successfully claimed the right to tap your phone calls without a warrant, and to read your mail. Now this administration is looking at your bank records as well. Not that this should be news to you, or surprise you in the least.

Aren’t Republicans supposed to be against this kind of thing? From debating gun control with right-wingers, I have heard the argument countless times about why we should avoid gun registration lists because the Nazis used them someplace in WWII to confiscate guns, and if the U.S. government ever became fascist, they would do the same thing here. Well, the U.S. government is slowly but clearly turning fascist, and for some reason the same people who made the argument about gun registration have no problem at all with this level of government spying on citizens. Nor do they seem too bothered by the government suspending habeas corpus, and holding citizens in jail without a charge (and without their guns!). Which kind of demonstrates how fake the whole argument was in the first place.

But you would still expect right-wingers, who profess to be so strident about getting government out of our lives, to vehemently oppose such intrusions. I can only guess that they are so frightened by the specter of terrorism that they feel it is perfectly OK for our own government to do this kind of stuff.

Or perhaps the whole get-the-government-off-our-backs philosophy is yet another fake argument used to cover for a more specific agenda like tax cuts. That does seem to be a common practice for right-wingers–to claim a greater philosophical belief to make a more specific, but less-defensible position seem more legitimate. This is done with the philosophy of strict constructionism as a cover for a pro-life and anti-civil-rights agenda, just as the “smaller-government” argument philosophy only serves to cover for a stance against Social Security as well as many other Democratic-favored social welfare programs. But when it comes to issues that Republicans favor, these overriding principles suddenly become irrelevant.

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  1. Paul
    January 15th, 2007 at 19:27 | #1

    Comments in bits…

    Nowhere is totally safe, but being smart and ready to take care of ourselves after a disaster goes a lot farther than moving someplace “safer”. Be ready to feed yourself and have enough water for a week, you should be okay. (As long as you’re not black, in New Orleans, with Bush as a President.)

    Schwarzenegger… I have no problem with the recall of Davis. If he had been doing a better job, he wouldn’t have been recalled, but he got beat 55% to 45%. That’s not a landslide, but it’s enough against him that it’s obvious the people didn’t want him in. Sketchier was the fact that a rich guy, Issa, spent great gobs of money to run the recall and try to get elected in Davis’ place. Ah-nold at least saved California from that fate by getting into the race.

    The iPhone thing is simple- Apple decided it’d be cheaper to fight out a court battle with Cisco than whatever Cisco was asking for in licensing fees. Or maybe it’s more in the court battle, but the odds of Cisco winning are to the point where Apple figured they’d roll the dice. My own bet is that it never goes to trial; the sides will settle.

    The Republicans who are voting against the popular bills the Dems are offering think they’re safe… but if things keep going the Dems’ way, I don’t think any Republican seat is safe. Dems made strong runs in places where nobody thought they had any chance, including here in Washington state where a Dem gave a great challenge to a Republican on the eastern edge of the state, in Spokane and surrounding areas- a very “red” area. Or so we thought.

    More and more right-wingers are experiencing cognitive dissonance; they’re realizing that they’re either hypocrites or that they just weren’t all that adamant about their political beliefs. If Clinton had proposed this stuff prior to 9/11, during his Presidency, the screaming would have been heard on Mars; Bush does it and the sheeple just go along.

    Seattle, WA

  2. Luis
    January 15th, 2007 at 19:40 | #2


    I’m going to have to disagree with you on the idea that the Schwarzenegger election was acceptable. Had Schwarzenegger run in the regular election and won, that would have been kosher. But the idea of running a recall as a means of getting a “do over” just because you lost an election is most definitely not kosher. Davis may have lost the recall vote, but only because Schwarzenegger ran–and he lost his legitimatre chance when he did not enter the regular election. Gray was further crippled by the idea that he had done something worthy of a recall, which he had not.

    The idea of recall is to unseat someone who, after they have been elected, has done some misdeed that does not lead to impeachment for some reason. Recall was never intended to allow the losers to nullify a legitimate election immediately after their loss, so they can try again with a different candidate. What Issa did was to get a tiny minority of voters to overthrow the choice of the majority, and that is not Democratic. It may have followed the rules in a technical sense, but it sure as hell was in violation of the spirit of the rules.

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