Today in History – September 9

1971 – John Lennon releases “Imagine” album.

1965 – Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax pitches the eighth perfect game in major league history, leading the Dodgers to a 1-0 win over the Chicago Cubs at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles.  (I grew up going to Dodger games with my dad and remember seeing one of Koufax’s no-hitters but don’t remember if it was this one or not)

Sandy Koufax was a talented all-around athlete from Borough Park in Brooklyn, New York. His first love was basketball, and he attended the University of Cincinnati on a basketball scholarship. His impressive left arm, however, attracted the attention of major league ball clubs and in 1954 he was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers. Despite his promising talent, Koufax won just 36 games to 51 losses from 1955 to 1961, and was incredibly inconsistent, blowing hitters away one game and walking in runs the next. Finally, advice from veteran catcher Norm Sherry turned Koufax around. As Koufax recounted in his autobiography, Sherry told him to “take the grunt out of the fastball.” It worked: From 1962 to 1966, Sandy Koufax executed what are arguably the five greatest seasons by a pitcher in baseball history. His new found control limited his walks from 4.8 per game to just 2.1, and he pitched no-hitters in three consecutive years–1962, 1963 and 1964.

1850 – California is admitted as the thirty-first U.S. state.  Mexico had reluctantly ceded California and much of its northern territory to the United States in the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. When the Mexican diplomats signed the treaty, they pictured California as a region of sleepy mission towns with a tiny population of about 7,300-not a devastating loss to the Mexican empire. Their regret might have been much sharper had they known that gold had been discovered at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, California, nine days before they signed the peace treaty. Suddenly, the greatest gold rush in history was on, and “forty-niners” began flooding into California chasing after the fist-sized gold nuggets rumored to be strewn about the ground just waiting to be picked up. California’s population and wealth skyrocketed.

1776 – The Continental Congress formally declares the name of the new nation to be the “United States” of America. This replaced the term “United Colonies,” which had been in general use.

In the Congressional declaration dated September 9, 1776, the delegates wrote, “That in all continental commissions, and other instruments, where, heretofore, the words ‘United Colonies’ have been used, the stile be altered for the future to the “United States.”

A resolution by Richard Henry Lee, which had been presented to Congress on June 7 and approved on July 2, 1776, issued the resolve, “That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States….” As a result, John Adams thought July 2 would be celebrated as “the most memorable epoch in the history of America.” Instead, the day has been largely forgotten in favor of July 4, when Jefferson’s edited Declaration of Independence was adopted. That document also states, “That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES.” However, Lee began with the line, while Jefferson saved it for the middle of his closing paragraph.

A Proposal to Shake Things Up

It is time to revisit the Reapportionment Act of 1929.  That law set the number of Representatives at 435 but did not restate the 1911 provision that districts be contiguous, compact, and equally populated.  The Supreme Court eventually restored “equally populated” in the one-man one vote decisions which were key civil rights cases of the early 1960s, spearheaded by Alabama Attorney General Richmond Flowers.  We have never come back to “contiguous (and) compact.”

 
435 was set as the number because of the size of the chamber.  I suggest that limitation is a mere logistical issue that can be overcome in many ways that need not be addressed here.

 
Take the least populated state in each decennial census and give it one Rep.  Then give other states multiples rounded up so that 1.51 WY in 2010 equals 2.  Expand the House as necessary.

 
Done for 2010, the total membership of the HoR would now be 544.  CA would have 66.  TX would have 44.  NY would have 34.  FL would have 33.  Make the mandate “contiguous and compact, leaving entire municipalities and entire counties within a single district wherever possible.”

 
Shake things up a bit.  We might get Congress to actually support it because it makes for more Congressmen, each with somewhat more manageable districts for campaign purposes.  Of course, it would effectively end the gerrymander.

A Blazing Hot Sunday in CA

Saturday it was 104 and today it’s supposed to be 106.  Friday we had to quit working out in the warehouse at about 1:00 pm and then went back out at about 6:00pm and worked until midnight while it was slightly cooler.   Yesterday we worked until about noon and then called it a day.  We were going to make a margarita and sit outside last evening but it was too damn hot for that even.  Today we’re taking the day off and swimming this morning and then either staying in and watching baseball or going to the movies.

*****************************************************************************

I love the picture with this story.

(Reuters) – More than 170 people were treated for heat-related ailments and some towns and cities took emergency steps to protect the homeless and elderly as the West sweltered on Saturday in dangerous near-record, triple-digit temperatures.

Extreme heat enveloped most of California and Nevada and parts of southern Arizona as a large high pressure system trapped hot air across the area, said National Weather Service meteorologist Todd Lericos.

More than 170 people were “treated for heat-related injuries” and 34 more were sent to local hospitals while attending an outdoor concert on Friday afternoon in Las Vegas, Nevada, where temperatures soared to 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 C), said Erik Pappa, a spokesman for Clark County. On Saturday, highs are expected to reach 117 (47 C).

“It involves pretty much the entire West Coast at this point,” Lericos said, adding that the steamy conditions, which began in some pockets on Thursday afternoon, will likely continue throughout the weekend and linger into next week.

Temperatures were well into the triple-digits in most of the area, except in higher elevations.

In Death Valley, one of the hottest places on earth, temperatures could soar on Saturday to 128 F (53 C), close to the daily record set in 1994. 

******************************************************************************

There is a lot of pent up romance blooming in California.

In a surprise action, a federal appeals court cleared the way, bypassing a normal waiting period and lifting a hold on a trial judge’s order that declared Proposition 8 unconstitutional.

The news came in a single, legalistic sentence Friday afternoon from the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

“The stay in the above matter is dissolved immediately,” a three-judge panel wrote.

Gov. Jerry Brown told county clerks they could begin marrying same-sex couples immediately, launching plans for ceremonies up and down the state. The two same-sex couples who filed the federal lawsuit against Proposition 8 headed to the city halls in Los Angeles and San Francisco to tie the knot, ending their long fight to become legal spouses.

Of course in a state where the tension between the SSM sides is still alive and well, not everyone was pleased with the Court’s decision.

Supporters of Proposition 8 were furious that the 9th Circuit acted before the normal waiting period. ProtectMarriage, the sponsors of the ballot measure, has 25 days from the ruling to ask for reconsideration.

“It is part and parcel of the utter lawlessness in which this whole case has been prosecuted, said Chapman Law professor John Eastman, a supporter of Proposition 8. “Normally, courts let the parties kind of pursue their legal remedies before they issue a mandate.”

******************************************************************************

And many of us in CA, and elsewhere, realized Thursday that the SC decision could signal trouble to our system of ballot initiatives.  Be careful what you wish for I guess.

SACRAMENTO — Activists on both sides of the bitter fight over same-sex marriage managed to agree on one thing in the wake of Wednesday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision.

The justices, they said, set a worrisome precedent by giving elected officials undue power over ballot initiatives.

The court essentially voided Proposition 8, a measure placed on the state ballot by foes of gay marriage and passed by voters in 2008. The justices said supporters of the initiative had no standing to defend the measure after state leaders — who opposed the law — had refused to do so.

Their reasoning drew a testy dissent from Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, a Sacramento native, who wrote that the decision “disrespects and disparages” California’s political process — a staple of which is the ballot initiative.

The court, Kennedy wrote, did “not take into account the fundamental principles or the practical dynamics of the initiative system in California.”

Many in the state, regardless of their views on same-sex unions, shared Kennedy’s sentiment, fearing that elected officials now have permission to scuttle initiatives they dislike by simply deciding not to defend them in federal court.

“The initiative process, by its nature, is designed to bypass elected officials,” said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn., a group named for the man who transformed California government in 1978 with Proposition 13, a ballot initiative that reined in property taxes.

“Anything that vests power in those elected officials over the initiative process is a dangerous move,” Coupal said.

Even Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, an early supporter of same-sex marriage when he was San Francisco’s mayor and an opponent of Proposition 8, expressed such reservations.

*******************************************************************************

And just to confirm some of the hopefully irrational fears expressed out in America somewhere, here’s one from the SF Chronicle.

SC marriage

And don’t worry I won’t turn every Sunday into a CA day….I don’t want to make y’all too jealous because you don’t get to live here.

Monday Morning

Brent said the Morning Report would be spotty this week so I’ll start with an open thread and a few interesting (to me anyway) links.

This probably seems like a mistake in hindsight.

Foreign politicians and officials who took part in two G20 summit meetings in London in 2009 had their computers monitored and their phone calls intercepted on the instructions of their British government hosts, according to documents seen by the Guardian. Some delegates were tricked into using internet cafes which had been set up by British intelligence agencies to read their email traffic.

The revelation comes as Britain prepares to host another summit on Monday – for the G8 nations, all of whom attended the 2009 meetings which were the object of the systematic spying. It is likely to lead to some tension among visiting delegates who will want the prime minister to explain whether they were targets in 2009 and whether the exercise is to be repeated this week.

In addition to the piece above Snowden isn’t helping himself or us if this  is true.

Former NSA employee, and famed PRISM whistleblower, Edward Snowden is now leaking top secret documents that appear to have nothing to do with the NSA eavesdropping on Americans, and everything to do with hurting the United States’ national security position vis-a-vis Russia before a key Obama-Putin summit.

*********************************************************

In light of the above information it should be an interesting G8 talk Obama is scheduled to give defending our phone and internet surveillance systems.  I have to wonder what those folks will be thinking.

President Barack Obama will defend U.S. phone and internet surveillance efforts during G8 talks next week, explaining to other leaders the importance of the tools in fighting terrorism, and safeguards in place to prevent abuse of the data

*********************************************************

It’s nice to see a company that pays it’s employees well actually do well.  I’ve also heard that Costco employees stick around for years and years and they even have a college education program for people who want to advance within the company.

The big box giant’s profit jumped 19 percent to $459 million last quarter, thanks in part to the company’s efforts to offer discounts to lure more members, according to Bloomberg. The company was able to offer those discounts and boost its profits while paying its workers a decent wage, a claim many of Costco’s competitors can’t make.

A typical Costco worker made $45,000 in 2011, according to Fortune. That’s compared to Sam’s Club workers’ average salary of $17,486 per year, according to salary information site Glassdoor.com.

*********************************************************

I don’t know if any of you saw this interview with the young Air Force guy with PTSD caused by being a drone operator.  I remember thinking that the drones seemed like a good idea for modern warfare, and maybe they are.  I think they save American lives but I’m not sure we’ve gotten their use right yet.

Doesn’t it seem as though we’re not adapting very well to all the new technology and we haven’t actually thought everything through sufficiently?

This is a report on the interview from Richard Engel, but there’s also video at the link.

Bryant said that most of the time he was an operator, he and his team and his commanding officers made a concerted effort to avoid civilian casualties.

But he began to wonder who the enemy targets on the ground were, and whether they really posed a threat. He’s still not certain whether the three men in Afghanistan were really Taliban insurgents or just men with guns in a country where many people carry guns. The men were five miles from American forces arguing with each other when the first missile hit them.

“They (didn’t) seem to be in a hurry,” he recalled. “They (were) just doing their thing. … They were probably carrying rifles, but I wasn’t convinced that they were bad guys.“ But as a 21-year-old airman, said Bryant, he didn’t think he had the standing to ask questions.

He also remembers being convinced that he had seen a child scurry onto his screen during one mission just before a missile struck, despite assurances from others that the figure he’d seen was really a dog.

In 2011, as Bryant’s career as a drone operator neared its end, he said his commander presented him with what amounted to a scorecard. It showed that he had participated in missions that contributed to the deaths of 1,626 people.

“I would’ve been happy if they never even showed me the piece of paper,” he said. “I’ve seen American soldiers die, innocent people die, and insurgents die. And it’s not pretty. It’s not something that I want to have — this diploma.”

*********************************************************

And last but not least from the great state of CA, we passed a budget Friday that made our stingy (hahaha) Governor almost as happy as the other Democrats.  As you probably know Republicans have essentially been side lined.  It ‘s the opposite of states like WI and others where Republicans control all levels.  This piece mentions health care quite a bit and emphasizes how much Obama and others are hoping for a successful implementation here.

Drew Altman, president and chief executive of the Kaiser Family Foundation, said the success of the federal healthcare law hinges largely on the outcome in California.

“California is pace-setting, and everyone in health reform is watching very closely,” he said. “It’s hard to imagine its success until it succeeds in California.”

Many of the healthcare changes are riding on this year’s budget and a series of related bills among those lawmakers are expected to take up Saturday.

“California really couldn’t move full speed ahead” until the budget passed, said Chris Perrone, a director at the California HealthCare Foundation. “It clears the path to a lot of work that needs to happen.”

That work includes computer upgrades to process new patients and outreach efforts to ensure that more people enroll in health plans.

Healthcare was one of the final sticking points in budget negotiations this year. Brown insisted on allowing the state to scale back its coverage if federal money is reduced.

%d bloggers like this: