Wednesday Reads: You move…you lose!

Good Morning!

I’m not sure where my brother got that phrase, “you move…you lose” but he always says this when someone gets up and he gets their seat…or if one of the kids doesn’t grab their plate of cake and ice cream quick enough…he will snatch it and say the same thing. Well, I guess now California’s Governor Brown can say it to Florida’s Rick “Voldemort” Scott. Rejected rail funding becomes California’s gain, yup…Florida’s residents have lost big time.

High-speed rail funding rejected by Florida Gov. Rick Scott officially became California’s gain Tuesday as the Department of Transportation granted nearly $1 billion to the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

In February, Scott rejected about $2.4 billion from DOT for a $2.6 billion high-speed train line from Tampa to Orlando, declaring in April that the money should go back to taxpayers or be used for deficit reduction.

So instead of creating jobs for his state, Scott just kicked his constituents in the ass and poked his fingers into the eyes of Floridian workers who need jobs.

 It’s not the first time California has profited from a Republican governor’s decisions to reject rail funding. After Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Ohio Gov. John Kasich tossed back a combined $1.2 billion in 2010, more than $610 million of that money was redirected to California’s high-speed rail.

The total federal commitment to California’s high-speed rail projects is now about $3.9 billion, $3.5 billion of which is specifically for an initial 130-mile segment in the sparsely populated Central Valley. Combined with about $2.6 billion in state funds, CHSRA says it has enough money to design and complete the Central Valley portion, which is projected to create about 100,000 jobs over five years on the way to producing a rail system that can achieve 220 mph train speeds.

Well, at least the funds aren’t disappearing into thin air… like those non-Koch investment accounts at MF Global.

Speaking of Koch…and their 1% brethren, Grover Norquist hails victory after supercommittee deal fails. Take a look at this interview Norquist gave the Guardian while he was on the road to Florida for Thanksgiving.

The lobbyist, who runs Americans for Tax Reform, has a tight hold on the Republican party, having secured written pledges from almost all its members of Congress that they will not vote for a single tax rise. Any Republican who fails to sign that pledge faces a tough primary challenge. Any Republican contemplating supporting even a minimal increase will be reminded of that written promise.

All six Republicans on the supercommittee were signatories.

It was the tax issue that broke the supercommittee. The Democrats insisted on increases: the Republicans refused. It was the tax issue that led one of the Democrats, John Kerry, the 2004 presidential candidate, to describe Norquist as the 13th member of the committee.

Norquist, who boasts of having ensured that Republicans have not voted for tax increases for at least the last two decades, recalled running into Kerry in the Senate, and the Democrat asked him to chat about a possible deal. “Kerry spoke about tax rises and I thought ‘Good luck with that. It is not happening.'”

How can someone have so much control over elected officials?

Back to the Guardian article, Norquist then takes the conversation to a flashback, where Grover is a kid, and gets the brilliant idea for his diabolical plan to destroy any American who is not filthy rich.

Norquist, aged 55, has been in politics since childhood. Both his parents were Republicans but more moderate than their son. At an age when other children were still watching cartoons, he said he bought the entire works of Hoover from the local library. He took the train from his home in Weston, Massachusetts, to Boston to work in the Nixon campaign office in 1968.

Returning from school one day, he had the idea that has dominated the Republican party for nearly 30 years, the single most important dividing line between Democrats and Republicans. “The thought I had when I was 12 was that the Republicans should brand themselves as the party that would not raise taxes.”

Can you see Lil’ Norquist plotting his ambush…I imagine him as a young Mr. Burns rubbing his hands together and saying… “I’ll be the most powerful political puppet master that ever lived. Splendid.”

The article ends with an acknowledgement that of all the GOP candidates, only Huntsman has not signed Grover’s Pledge.

All the Republican presidential candidates have signed it, with the exception of former diplomat Jon Huntsman, an outsider who has never managed to get above single digits in polling. Norquist blames his poor showing on failing to sign the pledge, describing it as a strategic mistake to show a willingness to compromise on tax. Other Republicans seeking office show little inclination to make the same mistake of crossing Norquist.

Sickening isn’t it?

Well, let’s move on to some encouraging news, this executive decision out of Oregon about Capital Punishment: Oregon Executions to Be Blocked by Gov. Kitzhaber –

Gov. John Kitzhaber of Oregon on Tuesday said he would halt the execution of a death row inmate scheduled for next month and that he would allow no more executions in the state during his time in office.

“It is time for Oregon to consider a different approach,” Gov. Kitzhaber, a Democrat elected last fall, said in remarks delivered in Salem on Tuesday afternoon. “I refuse to be a part of this compromised and inequitable system any longer; and I will not allow further executions while I am governor.”

Kitzhaber, who has served two previous terms as Governor, talked about the execution orders he signed when he was Governor:

“They were the most agonizing and difficult decisions I have made as governor and I have revisited and questioned them over and over again during the past 14 years,” Gov. Kitzhaber said. “I do not believe that those executions made us safer; and certainly they did not make us nobler as a society. And I simply cannot participate once again in something I believe to be morally wrong.”

He did not commute the sentences of the inmates on death row, so they are just getting a bit of a reprieve, until the next Governor takes office and starts the execution clock running again.

There is another Oregon politician in the news today, Boston Boomer sent me this link last night: Senator plans first ever Internet-fueled filibuster | The Raw Story

In the coming weeks, a new and unprecedented thing just might happen in the U.S. Senate: the Internet will filibuster a bill.

Specifically, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) will filibuster a bill — the Protect IP Act, which aims to fundamentally change the structure of the Internet — with a little help from his friends and admirers online.

In a website launched this week by the left-leaning political action committee Demand Progress, Wyden promises that if the Protect IP Act comes up for a vote in the Senate, he will stage an old-school standing filibuster and speak for as long as his lungs have wind.

You may find his plan interesting…

To bolster his speech, Wyden plans to read off the names of people who stand united with him against proposed rules that would fundamentally change the structure of the Internet.

So far, over 60,000 petition signatures have been collected, his staff said, and that number is growing quickly.

He is planning to do a standing filibuster, they do not have the votes to sustain it, so they are hoping to slow down the process, and make members of Congress think about the consequences of their actions. Any names that are not read will be added later to the congressional record.

The Protect IP Act is heavily sponsored by the entertainment industry and the powerful U.S. Chamber of Commerce lobbying group, which sees it as a means to prevent online piracy, which they claim costs jobs.

But its detractors, companies like Facebook, Google, Yahoo and Aol, see the bill a little differently. While Protect IP — and its House version, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) — would make it easier for U.S. authorities to crack down on websites accused of pirating movies, television shows and music, it would also allow the government and copyright owners to disable credit card processing for sites they claim are engaging or enabling copyright infringement, all without a court hearing.

The legislation is so broad it could be used to target online anonymity tools used by human rights activists, according to technology advocacy group The Electronic Frontier Foundation. The software Tor, for instance, which has been used to protect activists in Tunisia and Egypt, could be targeted because it can be used to hide one’s IP address when illegally downloading copyrighted content.

But wait…there is more…

Corporations could also use SOPA claims to force companies to stop processing donations to whistleblower sites like WikiLeaks that post documents protected by copyright or containing trade secrets. The bill would additionally require Internet service providers to “take technically feasible and reasonable measures” to block “rogue” sites from their customers, essentially creating a massive Internet blacklist.

So give that website a look-see: Stop Censorship — Take Action Before Senate Vote | Demand Progress

One last link for you today. I was thinking about the intricate artistic beauty of Japan’s Kimono the other day. I remember there was an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that had many vintage Kimono on display. So when I saw this link in my Reader last night, I had to include it in today’s post.  Kimono culture – a dying art?

Beautifully patterned kimonos may be enduring cultural symbols of Japan, but the industry that produces the garments is in steep decline – and it is feared that soon there could be no craftsmen left with the skills to make them.

In “Mastering the Art of the Kimono” – for BBC Radio 4 – the BBC’s Japan correspondent Roland Buerk investigates the crisis facing the industry, and meets some of the people who make, sell and wear the colourful gowns.

There is a slideshow video preview at the link… the last few images are amazing.  If you want to see some of the various techniques used in Kimono Design, take a look here: Japanese Kimono Design Techniques. Kimonos with Painted, Embroidered, Kasuri, Shibori, and Gold Foil Designs

This site by Marla Mallett has pages and pages of information on textiles, and lots of images to look through.  If you have some time check it out!

Well, that is it for me, I’ll see you all later today for the Evening News Reads, I’ve been looking forward to getting back to my regular blogging schedule. So what are you reading and blogging about today?