Saturday, February 27, 2010

No, I didn't watch the whole 6-7 hours of the Health Care Summit the other day, but I did watch the end, and then later went and watched a few clips. What I saw was a President clearly in command, able to cut through all of the talking points and rhetoric and spin and put chumps in their place. He knew the GOP was gonna show up with props and the same old arguments. One of the Republicans, forget who, said he suspected Obama spelled summit "s-e-t-u-p." Yep, it was a setup. But the GOP asked for it. And they thought they had a guy who couldn't handle anything without a teleprompter. Guys who weren't paying attention, that is (which is anyone who watches Fox "news" on a regular basis). But then the Prez visited the GOP caucus last month and that was a precursor of what came on Thursday, someone who is clearly leagues above everyone else in terms of debate, preparation, and policy wonkiness...but in a way that cut through a lot of the b.s.

Will Obama's message get through, that basically this is (at least) a budget neutral, market based approach (that, frankly, pisses off a lot of libs)? Hopefully anyone on the fence who cares enough about the issue will get the message. And hopefully the libs who may not have planned to show up at the polls in November in their respective districts will think again about what they'd end up with if their disengagement leads us back to a GOP majority in both houses.

The thing that's so exasperating about this, as this table outlines, is that the current plan (Senate version including Obama's 11 page compromise/reconciliation proposals), looks a lot like a plan Repubs submitted in 1993, during the Clinton HC debacle. One needn't look any further about the GOP's rightward shift than this example.

Obama knew the repubs were gonna find a way to say "no" no matter what. They can't let a Dem President and House/Senate pass legislation this big, even if most of the elements are things they would agree with on their own. First of all their blanket ideology (government = baaaad) prohibits anything that would make government look better, and secondly, they know they will be on the wrong side of History. But I suspect they know they already are.

I find it laughable that people like Glenn Beck (who is insane, as anyone with a brain can clearly see) are trying to disassociate with Teddy Roosevelt because of his "progressivism" (new bad word) and that, get this, Warren G. Harding and his "return to normalcy" made him the first great President of the 20th Century. I just about spit out my coffee when I heard that. That was fuckin' funny. But it makes sense, as Warren G. and George W. were Presidential soul mates. The only thing about Harding is that he didn't live long enough to do any lasting damage, though Teapot Dome gave us a clue, and look what happened with the Laissez Faire policies of Coolidge and Hoover? Can anyone honestly say that, given time, the Laissez faire policies of Coolidge and Hoover would have gotten us out of the Great Depression? How about Harding's "return to normalcy?" How would that have looked on 12/7/41? A glimpse at that fictional world would be "The Plot Against America." Same thing that could have happened last year.

Ramble and rant over. And I realize I am a political junkie. Fuck the 12 step process.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Here is a pretty honest assessment of what's going on in the Health Care debate. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens tomorrow at the summit. The GOP have put themselves in a box, and they have Anthem Blue Cross to thank in part.

UPDATE: Indeed, there are signs there's finally a 'mo shift going on. Here and here. And there's also this reminder about messaging. What the Repugs are now calling the "nuclear option" was vastly different than their 2005 threat. Remember that?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The free-rent in my head continues. Pawlenty, who thinks he's gonna be the next President, is all for "phasing out" Social Security. The thing that makes me most sick about "phasing out" Social Security is the hypocrisy of people who support folks like this. Total pussy move, too. "Can't alienate the elderly voters in my district who support me, can I? Otherwise I'll stand on my 'principles.'" But the younger voters? Fuck 'em, phase SS out. It's the generational warfare people talked about a generation ago. And I'll take it a step further: The elderly who support GOP anti-government rhetoric yet still cash that Social Security check are saying is this: So long as I get mine, fuck the next in line. No, fuck you!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Since we bought the house almost a year ago now, we had this vague idea of the first time home buyer's tax credit, money coming back that would be useful to...reinvest in the house to do a seizmic retrofit, or some such big project. Then reality hit. We've been broke, which is to say cash poor, but we're making ends meet. We had to take on some debt to get appliances and the like, and occasionally break even for the month, knowing once the refund came that we could wipe the slate clean. No seizmic retrofit, though. Knock knock. Hope the big one doesn't hit the Hayward fault while we're owners of the place and/or "Get the drills, bolts and epoxy ready, 'cos I'm going in."

Anyway, today I got confirmation = We're getting a lot of money back. Got the email from the tax accountant today. We actually hired one this year, no more Turbo Tax. Glad I did, because now we'll be back at about break-even. But I'm getting a new fuckin' iPod. Them's the rules.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Okay, I'm going to try and be done with caring about what the wingnuts think. As Roger Ebert put it recently (about resentment and caring about what others think of you), it's like "allowing someone to live rent-free in a room in your head."

Instead, I'll try and provide some analysis. The 2010 midterms look to be a classic one in longstanding patterns for a first term President. The opposition party is likely to pick up seats. But it doesn't appear to me that it's going to be a realignment like 1994 or 2006, if (and only if) Obama can fight the real enemy. The real enemy is not anger--the vitriol out there now is from those who didn't vote for him in the first place, the same people whose basest instincts were thrown out in the open with Palin's tacit encouragement lining up in the last days for their rallies, examples of which we've all seen on YouTube. But, rather, disappointment, especially from folks on the left, not necessarily the independent voters--this latter group will have to do with who's running in what district. As we saw in Massachusetts, Scott Brown probably won because Coakley was a really bad candidate who took the race for granted. The real enemy is disappointment, and disappointment leads to low turnout among former supporters.

To combat that disappointment, Obama needs to give 'em some red meat, and I think that explains the current tactical moves. First is to call for the bipartisan summit on Health Care, to call out the Repubs who said they wanted to be "consulted." Obama's calling their bluff, and it looks like they may be taking the bait (we'll only come if the cameras are off and you hit the "reset button" and "start with a blank piece of paper"). I think this will play into his hands. And secondly, when they do take the bait, Obama (and hopefully the Dems, particularly the Senate Dems up for re-election) will then sack up and push for a reconciliation bill.

He needs to push for more of this, show that the Repugs are being insincere, that they're simply hoping to be unified in an obstructionist strategy until November. If he can do that, he'll at least get liberal Dems out in greater numbers to try and stem the inevitable tide.

As for 2012? I look to the CPAC (wingnut) Convention straw polls that just came out for a clue. And I'm reminded about how bad Clinton looked in 1994-1995. Folks thought he was a goner. The inevitable polls would come out asking questions like "would you vote to re-elect the President or someone else." And of course, when asked that way, people are always gonna vote for someone else if they're unhappy with the current direction.

But who?

And here's where the straw poll comes in. Ron Paul wins, with Romney at second, and Sarah Palin a distant third (at least). Not exactly a strong field. So Obama has to like where he sits there. There could be a dark horse, but will it be someone who can unify the libertarians with the evangelicals? If Paul ends up showing as strong as he has, look to a potential third party candidate scenario a-la Ross Perot, and we all know how that ended up.

If Obama doesn't give red meat to the libs (like reconciliation) and continues to trumpet pragmatism over all else, then we could be looking at the possibility of a stronger third party candidacy on the greener side of things, as it were. But this is less likely. Even Nader only got 4% and that was against Gore, who didn't exactly wow 'em in the 2000 campaign.

UPDATED: I should add that the "red meat" in this case should be grass fed, free range.

Friday, February 19, 2010

From the wanker that brought us the Governator: "It's not like we want to do any of those." Right. The GOP enacts tax cuts for the wealthy, starts two wars, works really hard at bankrupting the treasury so that someone like Paul Ryan is "teeing up the only possibilities," which is to eliminate Medicare and Social Security.

Folks, this was their strategy all along. One needn't look any further than fellow wanker Grover Norquist. Set the budget on course so that the only choice would be to eliminate these things. The GOP never wanted Social Security and Medicare, we've long known that. But since this is an election year, and the cat's out of the bag, it's time for the Dems to sack up and call them to the carpet.

As a good friend and former musical colleague puts it, stuff like this happens when you listen to people like Norquist.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mount Vernon Statement, gobbledygook.

The usual suspects are there, a.k.a. the referentless "some."

As in..."Some insist that America must change, cast off the old and put on the new. But where would this lead — forward or backward, up or down? Isn’t this idea of change an empty promise or even a dangerous deception?"

Who are those folks, who want to cast off the old and put on the new?

Ok, more logical disconnect.

First, let's start with the opener:

"We recommit ourselves to the ideas of the American Founding. Through the Constitution, the Founders created an enduring framework of limited government based on the rule of law. They sought to secure national independence, provide for economic opportunity, establish true religious liberty and maintain a flourishing society of republican self-government."

Fair enough, rule of law. Who makes law? Congress, right? Anyway, who is to argue with securing national independence, providing for economic opportunity, establishing true religious liberty (I rather suspect this crowd doesn't mean for it to apply to anything other than Evangelical Christianity), and the idea of a Republic (not "Republican" in the modern definition of the word, as in "party," but of course these guys would like you to believe that's what the Founders meant). Who is to argue with all of that?

Apparently, there are some people in our culture who seek to attack and destroy these things:

"Each one of these founding ideas is presently under sustained attack. In recent decades, America’s principles have been undermined and redefined in our culture, our universities and our politics. The self evident truths of 1776 have been supplanted by the notion that no such truths exist. The federal government today ignores the limits of the Constitution, which is increasingly dismissed as obsolete and irrelevant."

Ask them to cite their sources. Who is providing the notion that "no such truths" exist? The referentless "some." Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, right? Yep, they're taking away our freedom of economic opportunity at every turn, sweeping legislation is making its way through congress turning America into a Socialist nation. It's so easy.

Friday, February 12, 2010

I'm officially on the wagon (again), this time until St. Patty's day. This is one of those ongoing "take stock" kinda things, a gut check to see if I get the DT's and need to really worry about the beer/wine intake. I had the booze blues for the early half of the week, but am over the hump now. Had to take an Advil on Monday and Tuesday night, but now I'm fine. Mostly it was just me being pissed off that I have to endure the sleepless nights with our hard-to-put-down-without-squawking 1 month old, and the tantrumy-in-the-middle-of-the-night-at-random 2 year old without something to take the edge off. Yes, I said it. It's a crutch. And I was a bit wobbly (figuratively) without that crutch for a couple of days. But last night I was able to accomplish a lot of little projects I've been putting off after the kids went down, like creating new file folders to put away random things we get in the mail from the County Assessor...you know, file folders devoted to the subject of home ownership, something I am still getting used to.

So I guess I'm not an alcoholic, just a heavy drinker. Of course, I question whether that's the case relative to some of the folks who still live where I come from, not to mention some of my ancestors. At times like these I think of an old Paul K. and the Weathermen song, "Liquid" : "You have a way about you I can easily understand/No you're not gonna do to me what you did to my old man."

Now, mind you, the lyrics don't resonate literally, as my dad rarely drinks more than the customary 1-2 beers before dinner, but drinking certainly runs in the family. I've thought about how I'd do a cover of that song in moments of clarity, and then I get to thinking I'll do a bunch of covers of songs like that, ones not well known. But I don't have the mental, nor physical, nor time...space for such a project as yet. Among the other songs I've long thought of, one would probably be a Verlaines song, maybe from Some Disenchanted Evening or Ready To Fly (assuming I can figure out all of the fuckin' chords), and of course I forget the rest at the moment.

It's been years since I've written a song, so perhaps a few covers. As usual I'll probably ping for suggestions. Far be it for me to come up with much on my own these days. In some ways, after making an honest assessment of my life, it has always been so. I seem to thrive best when collaborating or perusing secondary sources which I can then attempt to refine or make my own. Maybe the operative word is: distill.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Every time there's a snowstorm you can bet there's someone (see yesterday's post for what I've decided to call them) who sends a political cartoon that usually has: a. A house buried in snow on it b. A reference to Al Gore c. Some flippant comment about "global warming."

Okay, fucktards, listen up: Global warming doesn't mean the temperature in every bumfuck backwater in the U.S.A. and beyond is going to go up. It's the average global temperature of near-surface air and oceans. In fact, it's quite possible that you assholes will see MORE snow due to, ahem, global climate change. The scientists call it that now because of you dumbasses and your congressmen whose pockets are lined up by the oil, coal, gas industries and the gross polluters who think a quick buck is important enough that they have to spread misinformation and lies.

If you want to have an honest debate about climate change and things that may be legitimately up for debate, fine. But even if your grossest misrepresentation were true, ie. man is not causing climate change, wouldn't you still agree that it's probably better to conserve resources for future generations, not to mention your pitiful selves when you get old, than to just do whatever the fuck you want without regard to your neighbor? Because that's really what this is all about, isn't it?

Love thy neighbor. So for all of you numbnuts out there making stupid comments about how global warming is bullshit because we just had 17 inches of snow: Take a fucking hike and eat the yellow snow, and stop forwarding me your retarded emails.

Thanks.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Thoughts on the word “retarded”

The latest Palin induced kerfuffle—and there are many things she pulls out of her ass that the beltway press parrots these days—is over Rahm Emanuel’s apparent off the record use of the word when talking about liberal democrats in the context of the health care reform debate. She’s shocked, SHOCKED, that anyone would use such a word and of course she called for his resignation as White House Chief of Staff. I mean, of course she would. As she has often put it herself, she has a “retarded “child. But, of course, when Rush Limbaugh says the word, when referring to the same group of liberals, it’s “satire” and therefore okay. Informed humor, shall we say? Uh, no. Informed is what people like Sarah Palin or Rush Limbaugh are not. They do not provide information, they peddle ignorance. And many people are buying it, knowingly.

Language evolves. You don’t call an African American a “negro” anymore. Nor do you call a person with disabilities “mentally retarded.” Both terms are considered offensive. Oftentimes the derogatory use of words leads to the actual definition’s extinction, as it were, either altogether or as it evolves into another definition. Is this “political correctness?” Not for me to say, or to care. There are many reasons why words in any language evolve or change. Sometimes the evolution takes time. Sometimes the change is abrupt. Sometimes you will see a group attempt to “take back” a word. Take “queer,” for instance. Along those lines, this current r-word “controversy” affords us an opportunity to change the definition of “retarded.” So I propose the following:

Retarded=Willfully ignorant. The practice or act of intentional and blatant avoidance, disregard or disagreement with facts, empirical evidence and well-founded arguments that oppose or contradict the existing personal beliefs of anyone not known to have any condition officially diagnosed as a cognitive or physical disability.

Especially targeted here are those who tout a lack of knowledge on a subject as a virtue, and refer to those more educated as elitist. Perhaps they work for a certain mainstream network that calls their propaganda “news.”

By this new definition some thoughts:

George W. Bush = Retarded
Rush Limbaugh = Retarded
Sarah Palin = Fucking Retarded
Rahm Emanuel = Just an asshole