The Different Drummer
Politics, Family, Music and other Musings.
By Carl J. Petersen
It was not easy being a young contrarian. I still remember clearly the day in the second grade when I broke the social rules and played with the girl who had “cooties” as it was my first experience with ostracization. If this was supposed to bring me into social compliance, it did not work. It was not long before punches were being thrown in my direction.
While fighting may get you in trouble in school, not returning a punch was not an option in my house. My dad had grown up on the rough streets of New York City and worked hard to move his family to the suburbs. The lessons that he had learned on those streets were important to him, especially the necessity of standing up for oneself. It was a value I saw him keep throughout his life. He also made sure to install it in his children.Read more
-United States Constitution
Antonin Scalia’s body was barely cold before Republican politicians began angling to prevent President Obama from selecting his successor. Taking the lead, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.” Ignoring the fact that “out of the last four presidents who served two terms, all of them made nominations to the Court of Appeals (as well as the District Courts) in their last year”, Marco Rubio tried to make the argument that “it's not just for the Supreme Court, even for appellate court, it's been both parties have followed this precedent. There comes a point in the last year of the president, especially in their second term, where you stop nominating, or you stop the advice and consent process." While “the historical record does not reveal any instances since at least 1900 of the president failing to nominate and/or the Senate failing to confirm a nominee in a presidential election year because of the impending election,” Ted Cruz has cited the “long tradition that you don’t do this in an election year.”
“Witnesses cannot ask questions of the parties, lawyers or the Hearing Board”
-South Coast AQMD Hearing Board
A good way of determining how long someone has lived in my neighborhood is to ask them which “city” they live in. Long-time residents will state that we are in Northridge, which, according to the City of Los Angeles, is the official designation of our area. However, newer residents are likely to refer to Porter Ranch. Since the two areas share the same zip code, their real estate agents simply used the designation that had a better reputation (and higher housing prices) and it stuck. With the months-long natural gas leak affixing itself to the Porter Ranch name, realtors will probably revert to using Northridge, at least for the near future.Read more
No matter how genuine your intentions, it is impossible to negotiate with a party that refuses to talk. Still, faced with the colliding problems of Republicans in Congress who viewed “any government action [as] bad for the country” and an economy quickly descending into depression, President Obama tried to keep his campaign promise of changing the tone of Washington. Since the opposing party would not negotiate, he used their publicly stated policies and replaced infrastructure spending with tax cuts in his stimulus plan. To overcome an attempted filibuster he reduced the amount of spending. For his efforts he was rewarded with a package that passed without any Republican votes and an opposition party that gloated any time that a projection did not meet reality as America slowly recovered from near calamity.Read more
In a poll released last year, 16% of Americans said that there was no “solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer over the past four decades”. It is very important to note that they were not passing judgement on the cause of this warming, they were denying the fact “that Earth has warmed since 1880...with the 20 warmest years having occurred since 1981 and with all 10 of the warmest years occurring in the past 12 years.” A large amount of blame for this ignorance falls on our media which covers this subject by pretending that it is debatable, sitting two people side-by-side, creating the appearance that they have equal weight. If, instead of this false equivalence, they held “a statistically representative climate change debate” that had 97 scientists debating three climate change deniers, the American public might have a greater understanding of how science works.
It has yet to be proven how much the hot air coming from Donald Trump’s presidential campaign will increase the rate of global warming. His increasingly outrageous statements have continuously kept him in the spotlight allowing him to brag that he has “spent nothing” on his campaign and that he “can’t advertise because [he’s] getting so much coverage.” He keeps the reporters who cover him in line with a mixture of public ridicule at his rallies and threats to cut off access. The press reacts by allowing him to confuse biased reporting with doing the job of asking hard questions of the person who seeks be the leader of the free world. Nowhere was this more obvious than on Trump’s appearance on Meet the Press:Read more
“And -- and -- you know, it goes back to the whole concept of regulations, which are in everything. The reason that I -- I hate them so much is because every single regulation costs in terms of goods and services.”
It is not uncommon for businesses in California to complain that they have to deal with too many regulations. Unlike their brethren in Texas, they have to deal with inconveniences like state fire codes and contributions to workers’ compensation insurance, which they say puts them at a competitive disadvantage. In response, some threaten to relocate their business from Los Angeles to cities like Houston, which does not even have zoning laws. Government regulation is viewed as unnecessary “government interference” because these critics say that “market forces regulate the seller as strictly as any bureaucrat could”. The 2,258 households that have been displaced by the Porter Ranch Gas Leak are living within the fallacy of this argument.Read more
“So far the leak seems to be a minor annoyance in the area, said Sean O’Rourke, a member of the Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council Board of Directors.”
-Los Angeles Daily News
While the natural gas leak in Porter Ranch, California is now starting to get national news coverage, the problem existed long before the networks turned their cameras on the issue. In fact, an informational picket line staged by Save Porter Ranch was held in front of Castlebay Lane Charter School as the students arrived dressed in costumes for their Halloween festivities. At that time residents complained about a delay in an acknowledgment of the problem by the Southern California Gas Company and a lack of attentiveness by local politicians. For example, an affected stakeholder complained that a message left with Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich’s office was returned by a utility official. Another said that City Councilman Mitch Englander had blocked her from his Twitter feed after she had posted about the leak. As late as the November 18th meeting of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council, Englander’s representative was reporting that the leak posed no significant health risks. Little did he know that this talking point would be wiped away the next day by Los Angeles County health officials.Read more
Donald Trump has a tenuous relationship with the truth. For example, four years ago he sent investigators to Hawaii to prove that the President was lying about his place of birth and reported that “they cannot believe what they’re finding.” While the results of that investigation were never released to the public, Trump still does not know if the President was born in the United States or “why he wouldn’t release his records.” In the real world, Obama had released his “certification of birth” during 1988, long before Trump had become the public face of the Birther movement.
During the speech before paid supporters announcing his entry into the current race for the presidency, he said “our gross domestic product...was below zero. Whoever heard of this? It’s never below zero.” The answer is “nobody” because in 2014 the United States had a GDP of positive US$ 17,419,000,000,000. Although it is a strange mistake for someone who is running as a successful businessman, he probably meant that the change in GDP had just been announced as below zero. However, this is a condition that has definitely happened before. In fact, “the technical indicator of a recession is two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth as measured by a country’s gross domestic product”.Read more
-Billie Joe Armstrong
Like consumer safety in a deregulated market, basic decency has been discarded as the Republican candidates for president have engaged in a race to the bottom in an attempt to secure their party’s base. Donald Trump fired the starting gun with attacks on Mexican immigrants and has continued to set the pace by mimicking a reporter with disabilities. Ted Cruz seemed to challenge President Obama to a schoolyard brawl when he stated "I want to encourage you, Mr. President, come back and insult me to my face." When the New York Times reported that Ben Carson’s advisor, Duane R. Clarridge, told them that “Mr. Carson needed weekly conference calls briefing him on foreign policy so ‘we can make him smart,’” the Carson campaign chastised the Times for taking “advantage of an elderly gentleman.” Chris Christie one upped Cruz’s declaration that our country should only admit Syrian refugees who are Christians because “there is no meaningful risk of Christians committing acts of terror,” by maintaining that even "orphans under age 5" pose a risk and should be excluded from entering our country in search of refuge. Carly Fiorina continues to maintain that she saw an anti-Planned Parenthood video that does not exist while Trump stands by his claim that he “watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down. And...in Jersey City, New Jersey...thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down.” As proof, he “links to Infowars.com, a conspiracy website that pushes the idea that 9/11 was an insidejob...the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary was a hoax, FEMA is setting up concentration camps and Andrew Breitbart was assassinated to prevent the release of damaging information about Barack Obama.”Read more
Jeb Bush stated at a town hall that he does not “want to be elected president to sit around and see gridlock just become so dominant that people literally are in decline in their lives.” He then went on to say that the electorate should “elect Trump if you want that.” In the second Republican debate he told Trump that “you can’t just talk about this stuff and insult leaders around the world and expect a good result.” After saying that “if you have intellectual curiosity as a leader, you can grow into the” presidency, he pointed out Trump’s limitations with the qualification of “I’m not sure Mr. Trump has much intellectual curiosity.” Can Bush stand by these criticisms about Trump and still say that his current opponent is more qualified than Hillary Clinton, a former First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State? In Bush’s mind does adding a (R) after your name give you special super powers that automatically makes you a superior candidate? Most importantly, has a pledge to the RNC to “endorse the 2016 Republican presidential nominee regardless of who it is,” become more important than serving the best interests of the American people?Read more