Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Another one to file under the law of unintended consequences by shortsighted war hawks who think we can solve the terrorist question militarily. What has happened since we invaded Iraq on these false pretenses? The region is slowly turning militant. Turkey is the latest cog in that wheel. If I am reading this correctly. And someone, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

Friday, August 24, 2007

I don't usually care about celebrity stories but this one ties into a beef I have with where we're headed: As long as you're wealthy or famous, different rules apply.

We are so obsessed with celebrity and status, that we don't realize how stratified we're becoming. A woman who took my blood pressure, etc. for life insurance last night was a case in point: how hard it is for people who do something of real value in our society to simply survive in California. It is one of the reasons K & I won't be here for much longer. It's an unsustainable playground for the rich, who are increasingly served by a slave class. That's right. I said it: Slaves--in practice. Try making $9 an hour living here much less sub minimum wage under the table.

Rant over? Go Brewers. We'll be at AT&T Park tonight rooting for 'em.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The time has come to get some semblance of order in the whole jockeying-for-first-dibs-on-the-primary thing. Michigan is the latest entrant into this mayhem. Campaigns are already too long and costly. What the fuck are we doing? I believe a constitutional amendment may be in order to try and codify a system of rotation. This is the kind of thing constitutional amendments are useful for, not hot button issues like Gay Marriage, etc.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

On the way to the office this morning, I heard a rare nugget of intelligence coming from a sports talk commentator, guest Sam Spear on the Murph & Mac show on KNBR:

"By the way...Michael Vick is the latest distraction in our society to keep our mind off real problems. And he will soon be ...out...and there will be a new one."

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Is it me, or does it seem like the only mission every time the old Space Shuttle goes into orbit now is a spacewalk to repair the foam that falls off at liftoff? Here's the same story 2 years ago. If that's not a sign to put that spacecraft out to pasture, then what is?

Friday, August 10, 2007

Call me a simpleton if you must, but what was the housing market boom and bust, but an echo of the dot-com boom and bust? Those wild speculators, once drawn to anything with .com, then spooked, were probably the same ones engaging in things like flipping houses in the same day during the housing boom. And, once again, the bust. Scary, indeed. Guess who's gonna need to step in? Yep, you guessed, it, the government. Now is not the time for less government. Now is the time for smarter government. I suppose neither of the two will be a reality. Like I said, we don't live in a vacuum. But...an active government (for better or for worse) it will be.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

I don't know about you, but I smell a rat in the whole Musharraf "State of Emergency" affair. Reeks of pure politics to me.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Obama is right about Pakistan. Musharraf is playing it both ways and sort of reminds me a little bit of General George B. McClellan. If the intel is there, and you know Al Qaeda's within your borders, what are you waiting for? Are you an incompetent fool? Or are you hiding more sinister intentions?

Back to Ron Paul for a minute, in response to a couple of the commenters on my last post. Two points. First, we are the leader of the world. Just because we fucked up in Iraq shouldn't mean that we disengage from conflicts in other parts of the world. Am I saying anywhere that we should invade? No, I am not. But we can apply pressure on China and others to divest from the Sudanese government, and use diplomacy to convince them that supporting that regime is not in their interests. Just because a provision in the legislation leaves all options on the table doesn't mean we're gonna go in there. How do you suppose the Sudanese government would react if we explicitly said that we would leave military action "off" the table in the legislation? Of course there are provisions that "could lead to" military invention. We do not live in a vacuum.

I guess you could say that I have a big problem with a "one size fits all" worldview.

Secondly, in regards to this idea that government shouldn't be involved in much of anything, and that the free market and the invisible hand will solve all of our problems...in the long run, that is...John Maynard Keynes put it about right when he said "in the long run, we are all dead." There are many revisionists and pundits who come in with an agenda and basically lie and say that Keynesian economics didn't work, and imply that Reagan saved us from the New Deal. That's just wrong. While I won't defend the Great Society under Johnson (that is where we went too far), I would ask that you have a look at our numbers during the wartime years up to about 1973 (where it CAN be argued that Great Society implementation began to have its spillover effect), and ask yourself whether the boom years resulted from a form of Keynesian economics or not. As I am not an economist by trade, I don't have the numbers to back me up. But I have a good idea what would have happened if Milton Friedman's model ruled the day back then.

in fact...we had a President who had an amazing track record as a humanitarian, cited for his relief efforts in Belgium during World War I. When he became President, and a crisis emerged in our country, he had an unbending faith that the free market (for the most part) would solve the crisis if government would just stay out of the way and people would be patient for the long run. His name was Herbert Hoover. Ring a bell, gentlemen? Or do I need to put up a link? A Ron Paul presidency would be much worse. Unlike Hoover, whose aforementioned relief effort saved many lives. What's Paul's track record, other than as an undistinguished local congressman voting no on everything? Indeed, there are a lot of N's down the line, with a couple of glaring exceptions: eliminating taxes unilaterally, or limiting a woman's right to choose.

Luckily for America, Ron Paul has no chance in hell of gaining the GOP nomination, same as Jerry Brown in 1992 on the Dem side. He might have some unexpectedly high poll numbers for a while like Brown did, but he won't last. The bad news? It's looking like Obama will share the same fate on the Dem side next year. The pundits have anointed Hillary the front runner, and Barack has a tough hill to climb now. I still support him, because of his experience as a community organizer, his honesty, sense of balance, and exposure to different cultures and points of view. Supporting Hillary would be tough for me to swallow, because she just licks her finger and puts it in the air to see which way the wind blows. But I'd take that any day over another unbending ideologue like W, and I would argue we would have one in Ron Paul. One who has a preconceived theory that remains unbending when the facts and details on the ground prove otherwise.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Last week Congress voted 418-1 on the Darfur Accountability and Divestment Act. Seemed like a no-brainer to me. So, who was the nay vote? None other than Ron Paul, candidate du Jour for some of our younger voters, and self described libertarian for President of the United States. It is people like Ron Paul and those who support him without thinking things through that have the potential to damage our global reputation in the long run. What is this nay vote other than a reincarnated "America First" movement. We have been down this road before. In light of the blundering Bush administration and its rush into Iraq, the isolationist viewpoint has returned.

And now, in light of the collapsed bridge in Minnesota, a bridge I've driven over a few times, I can't help but say I bet I know which side of the vote Ron Paul has been on for bills involving infrastructure improvements over the years. Any young readers thinking about voting for Ron Paul because he happens to play up his social libertarian side on popular talk shows, think again. There's another side to the libertarian coin. Most recently, it has been called the "Reagan revolution." But indeed, we have also been down that road before. And it took the Progessive movement at or near the turn of the previous century to pull us out of it. We're getting to that point again.

With regard to his statement that he "never votes for legislation unless the proposed measure is expressly authorized by the Constitution," that's not governance, that's dereliction of duty. Even the most fervent proponent of "original intent" wouldn't say that, would he?