Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Some days I just feel like a busybody, a paper pusher (or email pusher). The company I work for is going through some hard times. A big project that it was hinging its future on is now dead in the water. There is a buyer, apparently, who doesn't want to change the personnel that still remain, and the transaction is supposed to go through on January 15th. Still, I've been through these kinds of things before and my hopes are not too high. But I am hopeful that I won't be let out onto the street until my wife and I move to that in-law unit early next year. Ground has yet to be broken for the place, though. The timeline keeps getting pushed back to this bit of bureaucracy or that.

On the music front, I haven't picked up an instrument since this gig. Well, once, to do a session for this guy for a track he put out for this organization. And I picked up the horn to play a lament the night after we had to put our beloved cat, Renee, to sleep. Oh, and I was present to help out with some audio cleanup for this DVD. Okay, I guess I've done a little bit of work, but not much. I have finished my first draft of a book I may put out about the seventeen years I spent showing up to practice. I've been bouncing off the manuscript with a couple of people who aren't close to my vest these days for an objective opinion. It's not a kiss and tell book, more like the journey of a person struggling to decide whether to take the "all or nothing" approach, or juggle day gigs with band gigs. I took the latter and, for now, have given up on the latter to pursue the former full time. To the point: Now that I have done that, I have been working for a company who struggles like the band I used to be in. Successful enough to win an award or two and get notice, but is it enough to be profitable? Time will tell.

Also, political affairs that occupied my time and energy preceding the election could not be further from my radar at present. I suppose it mirrors the period of mourning that many of my worldview share. There will be another day. But I'm going to sit all of that out through the holidays. To do ....what? That's the question. Read articles about Johnny Cougar, I guess. I've always had a soft spot for him, since I was born in a Small town, too. But I definitely have nothing against a big town, because I live in one.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

As Dylan said in his recent "Chronicles" : "The twenty four hour news cycle would have been my own personal hell" (or something like that, I am paraphrasing because I can't find the quote now), I have to concur. The curtains are drawn and the lights are still low. I'm working from home for perhaps my last day. I've been trying to find other things to do during that time. One is working on my band memoir, which I've almost completed. But I need time for the near-end events to gestate a little bit. I have the ending, just not the near ending. Then I will revise it, and hopefully in two to four years it will be worthy to show someone, ha ha.

Getting back to the 24 hour news cycle, here is the latest flap in sports. Wanna know my first reaction when I saw it? It was far from being offended, like so many of the folks out in Jesusland seem to be. I thought it was fucking cheesy.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Ah, my life in the virtual office is about to be over. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Pragmatic Liberalism, a book once published by a professor of mine, I believe is a good starting point for where to move forward. I think we need to think beyond capitalism and socialism and come to some form of balanced approach in an applied philosophy. Think of things in terms of enterprises. The NFL is very capitalistic, but also has mechanisms to level the playing field somewhat. Major League baseball does not. US Healthcare damn well could if people would learn how to stop using paper forms and faxing things. Balance, equilibrium, consensus, these are words that should be embraced. Moderation.

I bought the Lakoff book yesterday, and will begin reading it shortly. I was a little harsh in the "dumb fucks" statement last week. Aren't we all human when we react to our greatest fears being realized?

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Oh dear. I've gotten myself into a little trouble by sending out this one. But it's still fuckin' funny. Like a Yankee lib with tourette's.

Friday, November 05, 2004

The curtains are drawn and the candles have been burning for the past couple of nights in a quite home vigil. The only solace I can take is that we live in "Baja Canada" and not "Jesusland." I am so disgusted I don't even know where to begin.

The working people who voted for that man based on social conservatism will get what they deserve, more lost jobs, further economic marginalization and some day they will be the ones marching to the drumbeat of what we've been saying all along. I suspect a major scandal will break out somewhere in this term, once the Dems get their sea legs back.

The mainstream media has it all wrong. For the Dems to survive they need to go further to the left, not to the right. I think the idea of trying to pursuade the Jesus freaks and the dumb fucks who claimed they were "undecided" up until the end is the wrong way to go. Sure there are more stupid people than smart people in this country, but we need to take back the word liberal in this country and wear the moniker with pride.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has harbored thoughts of leaving this country, or fighting for California to secede, or a whole slew of other things. My wife says it best: My sense of patriotism died on 11/2/04. But I'm not ready to give up just yet. The pendulum will swing back in the other direction.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

It's been a while. Nobody reads this anyway, so who cares?! I have to tip my hat to Keith Foulke last night for that last pitch. I think this is as close as the Red Sox will get to a miracle, I'm afraid. But I will reserve a space for a little Oakland pride in that moment last night. I am rooting for the Red Sox, who besides Yanks fans wouldn't? But the Yanks just have too many weapons. I'm already mentally preparing myself to root for the Cards in the WS.

Now, on to more serious matters. Like this. Jesus, talk about pissing my pants.

Okay, seriously. I am doing some serious wood knocking at the moment, but things are looking up for Kerry, whose campaign reminds me of the Greeks and the Olympics. They waited until the last minute to get the job done, but they did a good job in the end.

Finally, since I bought Brian Wilson's "Smile" two weeks ago, there has been a song or a fragment from that record stuck in my head ever since. I wonder if the gods are trying to tell me something, that maybe I shouldn't have retired from the rock and have more important things to contribute than answering tech emails and phone calls.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

God I love it when I'm right. Cheney's going to try and be grave and somber about 9/11 and try to scare everybody. I called it way back on 7/9, in a post right here.

I'm hoping Edwards has done his homework in retorts to this method of spin, and that he's not going to try and change the subject to his standard stump speech. Cheney's in a different league and all Edwards needs to do is show his command of the subject, and his personality will do the rest.

Friday, September 24, 2004

With regard to the windsurfing ad, way back in February I said that Kerry needed to watch out about his dumb photo ops. Boy, I love quoting myself when I am right.

I don't think Kerry windsurfing looks as bad as Dukakis in the tank. But he is a little fey. Remember the Philly Cheesesteak flap in the primaries? He survived that one, and still seems to be leading in PA, meaning Philly must have forgiven (because the Pennsyltucky part of PA will never consider him). And there have been attempts throughout the campaign to link other photo-ops to the dreaded tank. None have stuck yet. This new ad is the closest it's come. Careful, John, careful.
Bravo again, Michael Moore. Bush is the flip-flopper, not Kerry. Did I mention I hate George Bush? Hate him. With a passion!
I love it. Cheney says that Kerry 'dissed Allawi. All I can say it, it takes one to know one. God I hate them! I hate every last person in that administration with a vengeance.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

I must put in at least one jab on our boy GWB today: It's interesting that the only retort he has about the war now is that people who are simply reporting the truth on the ground as they see it are "pessimistic." LBJ made that same mistake, namely denial. And GWB uses 9/11 whereas LBJ used "10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1."
Today my wife and I have a heavy heart. Renee, our beloved cat of sixteen years, left us last night. We had to make the call and put her down. I've been fortunate enough thus far to have not experienced the sudden loss of someone I was close to in fourteen years. And that day was yesterday, fourteen years ago, same as the day Renee was put to sleep.

I first met Renee as a ten year old, when she crawled through my wife's childhood bedroom window and curled up under my arm one hot summer's night in Rochester, NY in 1998. She was born in the closet in that very same room when my wife was 13 or 14. We decided to take her out with us to California that summer of '98 and she had probably spent about half of that time since either on my chest, giving me head butts on my chin, or under my arm. On Sunday mornings it was almost like clockwork: I'd open the newspaper and here would come Renee, poking her nose right under the paper as if to say "the news of the world is not important right now. Remember me?" And that is how I feel today. The news of the world, beheadings, more dead soldiers, more lies from Bush and a refusal to accept facts by blanketly saying "they're guessing," none of that matters to me right now as much as the memory of our cat.

And I am trying to drown out the sadness of events during the past couple of days and summon my memory of head butts, purrs, good night's sleeps with Renee under my arm on one side, and my wife curled up next to me on the other. On any given night during these past few months, she would be there as I watched the Oakland A's fall, rise, and seem to fall again. I was hoping for another season of football to share with the best cat in the world by my side. But we knew this day would come eventually. Still, some may say "who cares, it's only a cat," but the hell with all of that. I am feeling what I am feeling, a huge emptiness that was not there two days ago.

To all who may be reading, please raise a glass for Renee, the best cat in the world!

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Since the assault weapons ban was allowed to expire last night, the subject of the 2nd amendment has been floating around again. Remarkably, in most articles that talk about the subject, it is assumed that the 2nd amendment was written and ratified as a specific protection of the individual’s right to keep and bear any type of “arm” that they want. Not many people in modern discussions of that amendment even call this into question. But as this account of the constitutional convention illustrates, the second amendment is not that clear cut.

It’s a long, academic article, but what issue worth getting to the heart of doesn’t ultimately lead to this? The gist of the argument begins here:

VIII. THE DEBATE IN CONGRESS AND THE LANGUAGE OF THE AMENDMENT (just copy the above phrase, then to ctrl+f, once on the page).

Some things I find noteworthy:

First, it explains to me why the Rehnquist court (well, okay, none in a major way since 1939), has not touched a case involving the interpretation of the 2nd Amendment. Why? Because Justice Scalia is a proponent of an “original intent” test when interpreting constitutional issues, so by that logic, he would support a position more directly linking the “right to keep and bear arms” clause to that of the collective, “well regulated militia,” and not of the individual right to buy any type of assault grade weapon he wants, because the overwhelming majority of the framers believed that. And I don't suppose that would make the current rulers of the other two branches in the Federal Government very happy. And why do I get the feeling that he would make an exception to the "original intent" test here (do I hear a flip or a flop in the distance)?

Second, notice the legions of unrecognizable names that have faded into the obscurity of history on the side of the anti-federalist argument against the creation of “a more perfect union,” well in the minority during the time of the constitutional convention (Thomas Jefferson excepted, though we don't hear from him on the 2nd). And then there are the Federalists, names like James Madison, John Jay, George Washington, known by most everyone. Supporters of the individual right to keep whatever firearm they wanted for whatever reason were on the radical fringe, as this account shows in overwhelming detail. It wasn’t until after the civil war that this began to change.

I will leave with a direct quote near the end of the article (prescient in terms of other hot button issues we’re dealing with today such as gay marriage), and the amendment itself, the ambiguous wording of which is the sole source of today's controversies:

“Oliver Ellsworth, who would later be Chief Justice of the United States, found the whole notion of specific protections of liberties silly. Frustrated by the constant demands for an endless laundry list of amendments, he argued that

‘There is no declaration of any kind to preserve the liberty of the press, etc. Nor is liberty of conscience, or of matrimony, or of burial of the dead; it is enough that Congress have no power to prohibit either, and can have no temptation. This objection is answered in that the states have all the power originally, and Congress have only what the states grant them.[193]’”

The 2nd Amendment: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

P.S. I am not for banning all guns, but I do support the use of guns that are "well regulated," especially for the ones that can do the most serious damage.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Excellent article, just in time for football season to start. Hooray for football. Might I add Jim Marshall of the ViQUEENS to the list of wrong way runners! GO PACK!

Friday, September 03, 2004

I wonder if anyone has commented on the irony that Clinton had a heart attack yesterday, coinciding with Bush's speech? Just wondering...

Thursday, September 02, 2004

So, dear reader, why have I stopped compiling statewide polls from realclearpolitics? Because this website does a much better job.
Bush excerpts are in already, at the NYT. One that stands out is this one:

"This changed world can be a time of great opportunity for all Americans to earn a better living, support your family, and have a rewarding career. And government must take your side. Many of our most fundamental systems - the tax code, health coverage, pension plans, worker training - were created for the world of yesterday, not tomorrow. We will transform these systems so that all citizens are equipped, prepared - and thus truly free - to make your own choices and pursue your own dreams."

My translation: We are bankrupting the treasury so that the next generation will be forced to abandon social security, medicare and medicaid altogether. Then you will be on your own. So long as you're born into a family that has already made it, you will be okay. But if you are born into a family without the resources to pay for health care, a 401K, or a simple savings account, you're shit out of luck. This is the closest Bush has gotten to admitting the truth, that the GOP is going after the New Deal, and have been all along. What a fuckin' douche!

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

My good friend Jason asked me earlier in the week to tape some of the speeches of the GOP convention this week for his arrival back to the Bay Area just in time to take care of our cats. But I am boycotting the convention. I refuse to throw things at the TV which is something I usually only reserve for Packer games. Instead, I will leave him a printed packet of the speeches and the extra Eric Chavez Babooshka I acquired at the A's/Rangers game back on July 25th. Oh, and the detailed instructions on how to take care of the cats.

I began the week by sending a copy of this article to my list of friends and I also included the GOP leaning members of my family, a practice I usually eschew. Lakoff says many of the things I've been thinking. And I would add to it that it's always the people who benefit the most from government who complain about it the loudest.

My mother forwarded the link, along with my comments, to an old friend of hers from her neck of the woods. I was floored by the following letter in response:

Dear [My mom],

This e-mail came today from the old oil company and might have information that could be of help to you since you are a cell-phoner now.

I REALLY liked the article you sent. I can see right now your Bill is my kind of guy. It seems to me the political world is such a wilderness now, filled with grotesque creatures who use words to soothe and lure us but who have little regard for America or its people.

We have been taught a new vocabulary that seems too closely tied to that black beast of mind control, “1984”. Here it is twenty years after that cautioned date and we have Clear Skies programs that remove restrictions for pollution and Healthy Forest programs that open public lands to loggers. And that is just the beginning. We tolerate ads that twist words and contort intentions. We buy politicians like cornflakes off the shelf and then seem stunned when in the silence of our own homes we find the box more than half empty with stale, outdated goods. We allow lies to stand and truth to be trampled. We take bullheadedness for strength and make fun of “nuances” as if it were some kind of fault to be found thinking. We let people of heathen fruit define Christianity for us always leaving out Christ’s admonishment to care for the weak and provide for the poor. Like Herod in Auden’s “For the Time Being” we pray for a Messiah with the caveat “but let him be weak and ineffectual like us”.

I really do feel a kinship with your Bill because among so many things about him that I admire there is the welcome strain of sophisticated political thought. That is rare and to be highly treasured.

I will not send on the article because it would go straight over the heads of most of the good people I know. Thank you so much for passing it along to me. I have read it and will re-read it again before long.

With affection, E.

And then she sent me a link to the latest Garrison Keillor article on the GOP which was even more eloquent: http://www.inthesetimes.com/site/main/article/979/

I am not much of a "Prairie Home Companion" listener, but I love reading his words! All of this made my day both yesterday and today. And I am glad I am filling my thoughts with these words and not words of Mr. "Girlie Man." For those who are worried on the Dem side, this too shall pass, and pass it shall soon. "Carpe 9/11" does not have sea legs.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

In the days when I had time on my hands, I posted a lot more in here and perhaps my thoughts were a little more, um, cogent? If that's the right word. But transition periods don't usually afford a lot of time. Learning a new job takes up that time, but I am starting to get to a point where I am settling in now, so you'll be hearing a lot more from me. I've filled time that I used to spend watching the news and getting upset over what I feel is actually a pro-Bush media, in that he's not getting hammered nearly enough over how dishonest his administration has been on so many fronts, with either being at work or being at home watching the Oakland A's try to hang onto first place in the AL west. My wife's not nearly as interested in baseball on TV as she is with football: that's one of the extra bonuses in our partnership...she loves football as much as I do and, in fact, nowadays gets a lot more pissed off when the Raiders lose than I do when the Packers do. But she does like to go to baseball games, like the one we're going to tonight. The A's play the Devil Rays, not exactly a game that generates as much excitement as the time we went to see them win their 20th in a row back in '02, but in recent weeks the A's have had tougher times playing the crap teams like KC than they have playing Texas and the like. So we're gonna go to show our support.

We are also inviting a good friend of ours, a guy friend in a couple that just broke up. Not another one of those! My wife and I have navigated through the tough waters of trying to remain friends with both people that were once in a couple that we would mutually spend a lot of time with, and our success rate in that has thus far been poor at best, but I'm thinking the lessons learned from past situations will help us this time around: Stay out of it, and don't pick sides. Try to be there as best you can.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

I am finding new and interesting ways to get lost here in Silicon Valley. I've lived in the Bay Area for almost twelve years and have gotten to know SF and the East Bay pretty well. Now the South Bay is the next stop in that rotation. I've printed out maps in anticipation of moving to Santa Clara, hoping I can find a good bike route to my job here in San Jose. It would be a 6.6 mile ride and I could use the exercise. Right now I am commuting from Oakland to San Jose. Worst. Commute. Ever. But it's okay, because I am working, and I am grateful for that.

I'm settling into the job nicely this week. Without my predecessor looking over my shoulder, I feel like I can begin to put my own stamp on things here and stretch out in my own communication style. I'm just taking the issues one at a time, as they come. Tomorrow I have lunch with our head of sales and later that evening the CEO is hosting a barbecue. I am approaching week two of my new life. So far, so good.

I am with the Rude Pundit in hoping that the protesters in Ny don't play into the hands of the GOP. No puke-in's for peace, please?

Friday, August 20, 2004

It's been quite a week. I am now on my own at my new job next week, and I know it's going to be stumble and bumble for a while. But that's life. I'm glad this job thing happened, because without it I would probably be sitting and moping at home feeling sorry for myself trying to adjust to being retired from the road.

I haven't been reading as much online in the political department the past week or so, just enough to know that the "swift boat veterans for untruth" should all be sodomized by the biggest cat and its barbed prick that one can imagine. These douchebags must realize they are about to be voted out. It seems Kerry is taking Clinton's advice: Politics is most definitely a contact sport, and he hit back, hard.

Fuck Fox, and Fuck B*SH (censored, once again, for the kids).

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Onward and forward

Forward and onward...I've been away from here for a short while because of two things. First, the band I helped start back in late '95, early '96, played its final show at Castle Clinton National Monument a week ago Thursday, August 5th. My wife was in attendance and took lots of fantastic pictures. We spent the remainder of the weekend exploring New York, although the Friday after the show we were recovering from a super deadly hangover (getting free drinks all night at the hi-fi club, which hosted the band's afterparty, will do that).

It's hard to describe the feelings I have now that the band has officially broken up. And I'm not just giving up THAT band. My days in the band dynamic are likely over for good. I've showed up for practice either two or three times a week for the past 17 years (with a brief respite during my move to SF from Wisconsin back in January to July of 1993). I have said to myself for a while that I needed a break from that. My last day job put that notion at a premium, as I was working 5-2 at first and then 6-3 by the end. Juggling this with band practices that went from 7-11pm was a little taxing. But the job ended when we hit the road in early April of this year. We returned in mid June, played the Fillmore in SF on 6/26 and then the Castle Clinton show on 8/5. And now, , it's all done.

I was fully prepared to spend the next month struggling to find a new job and identity, battling the post-partum depression along the way. And then on Monday morning, 8/9, I got a cold call from someone who saw my resume posted on craigslist, and by yesterday I was starting a new job as Technical Support Engineer for a mobile productivity application company based down in San Jose. I am the only one who will be doing this job, and it builds upon my day job experience I've juggled between tours and records. It affords us the opportunity to pay down our debts accrued over time as a result of all of this juggling since about 1999. The "rock student loans" (read: credit cards) have been getting out of hand. And this job pays better than all of the other jobs I've had. The CEO is super cool and we were cracking jokes during the my second interview, where he offered me the job as a permanent hire rather than the three month contractor I was first supposed to be.

The interesting thing about that is how I had said "fuck it" when I posted a resume on craigslist that included a curriculum vitae of sorts, of my music career. I had always kept that part of my life off of my resumes, thinking it would scare potential employers away. But I realized that eschewing that long held notion was a good one for two reasons: 1. It explained the gaps in my resume. 2. It showed I had a life outside of work, and that I could learn things quickly. The "multi-intstrumentalist" aspect of the cv (trumpet, drums, engineer, webmaster, guitar player, backing and sometimes lead vocalist) suggested to any potential employer that I could certainly multi-task. And I was right. I began getting calls. And the job I found perfectly fused my previous on the job experience for the past seven years into a position I have leeway in creating for myself. And everyone at the company (16-17 people, a startup), knows about my history in rock and roll, and also know that I have retired from the road life (at least for the foreseeable future).

I was offered the job on Thursday, exactly one week after my final gig in NY, and I started the very next day. I have a lot to learn. And I also have to shake off that feeling I have, a feeling that reminds me of my first day of high school orientation in 1985, a few days before my sophomore year. I was born and raised in tiny Berlin, Wisconsin until the spring of '85, when my father decided to take a new job down in Elmhurst, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. He started the job in April of that year and spent evenings and weekends searching for a house while my mom and I stayed in Berlin to finish out my freshman year. We hadn't moved into the house yet when school was to start, so the first week or so my dad and I lived in a hotel right down the street from the school. And I remember the overwhelming feeling I had during that abrupt change in my life. This change rivals it, because my wife and I will soon be moving into an in-law unit in Santa Clara to save on rent, so my entire existence will be commuting about five to ten minutes from Santa Clara to San Jose. This thought hit me at home during my lunch break yesterday, where I drove to a little strip mall down the street from the office to have a Vermicelli bowl (at least the restaurants there are good, thought the strip mall atmosphere is not an aesthetic favorite of mine). I looked around and thought to myself, this whole experience is foreign to me. I don't know anybody here. And then I thought to myself: less than four months ago I was driving a van through the Bavarian countryside on the way to a gig in Switzerland during a one month European tour, and now I am living the suburban 9-5 existence like practically everybody else.

This is what I wanted, some peace for a while from the hectic touring schedule away so long from my wife, and some financial stability to take care of some outstanding debts. Still, it's a transition that I am going to have to get used to. So I think I will chronicle it here, peppering it with a few political notes along the way.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Kerry's speech last night was impressive. I didn't think he had it in him, the man actually broke a sweat. After the mind numbingly dull speeches for the past four days that seemed to repeat the same themes ad infinitum, I was worried that Kerry wasn't going to get the crowd going. But in a way, I think it's not unlike being an opening act where the headliner doesn't let you share channels in the house PA or use the lighting gear for more than a couple of simple fader moves. The opening speakers went on for far too long, and some of the people were fired up just on account that the moment everyone had been waiting for finally arrived. And Kerry took it from there. There are three parts of the speech that touched on something I hadn't heard from him before. I was especially impressed with the following:

"Now I know that there are those who criticize me for seeing complexities, and I do, because some issues just aren't all that simple. Saying there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq doesn't make it so. Saying we can fight a war on the cheap doesn't make it so. And proclaiming mission accomplished certainly doesn't make it so."

That is an answer to the "flip-flop" charge. I look forward to seeing him elaborate on this theme in the days ahead. I was also wondering when he would get a chance to counter the GOP lies about how Kerry's going to "raise your taxes." Here is the response:

"And let me tell you what we won't do. We won't raise taxes on the middle class. You've heard a lot of false charges about this in recent months. So let me say straight out what I will do as president: I will cut middle-class taxes. I will reduce the tax burden on small business. And I will roll back the tax cuts for the wealthiest individuals who make over $200,000 a year, so we can invest in health care, education and job creation."

Finally, this passage comes somewhat unexpected, but it hits to the truth of my experience growing up in a small town in rural Wisconsin, where people certainly were more religious, but they viewed religion as a part of their life, not their lives solely devoted to their relgion. I had a pastor once warn my Sunday school class about so-called "Jesus freaks," who are not true to the word of God but treat their religion too much like other forms of idolatry. When I moved to the suburbs of Chicago, I witnessed this phenomena firsthand. I remember one classmate once asked me if I was a Christian or not. I hedged for a minute, because he asked it in a tone of voice that sounded to me the same as someone who would ask me if I considered myself as a "jock," or a "burnout." He seized on the rather small "um," and said, "well you either are or you aren't."  As a sixteen year old I would have been well served by this passage from Kerry's speech:

"And let me say it plainly: In that cause, and in this campaign, we welcome people of faith. America is not us and them. I think of what Ron Reagan said of his father a few weeks ago and I want to say this to you tonight: I don't wear my religion on my sleeve. But faith has given me values and hope to live by, from Vietnam to this day, from Sunday to Sunday. I don't want to claim that God is on our side. As Abraham Lincoln told us, I want to pray humbly that we are on God's side."


Monday, July 26, 2004

I've been housesitting at my mother in law's house in Santa Clara this past week. Her house is a garden of eden in the middle of bland suburbia. The front porch and lawn is a series of terraces and gardens and walkways built using bricks from an ugly wall in the backyard that was recently torn down. There is a japanese architectural influence throughout. Draped proudly from the main front porch, right in front of the front door is a U.N. flag, where most people would drape the stars and stripes. My wife and I will be taking this cue and will be flying our own U.N. flag in front of our house when we get home. In a few months, after their in-law addition is built, we will be moving down here on a semi-permanent basis to live cheaply and take care of some personal financial woes that have been festering for too long.

Amidst this garden, I've been spending mornings after watering the plants reading the various current politically charged books she keeps throughout the house. Among them, I've dabbled with Rogue State: America At War With The World, by T.D. Allman, Why Do People Hate America?, by Ziauddin Sardar and Merryl Wyn Davies, and currently, Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush. The best by far is the latter, as it is concise, well written, and considering the source, a former Nixon aide whose whistleblowing in Watergate was well known, it comes from a position of intimate knowledge of how things work in the White House. I highly recommend this one. Of the former two, the first is a tad heated in the rhetoric department and the second is academically obtuse. I am all about mainstream reading these days, as far as promoting reading to anyone who may reside on the fence for the 2004 election.

Today the Dem Convention begins and I am hopeful that their quest for positivity doesn't come at the cost of missing opportunities for telling all Americans how much damage the Bush administration has done to our country's reputation throughout the world. I doubt Kerry's going to call in question the whole notion of preemptive war, and I think it is a mistake if he doesn't. This notion, in my mind, is the root cause for all the troubles we will face in the coming years. As I had been saying from the moment we began responding to the 9/11 attacks, Bush is playing right into Al Qaeda's hands. They wanted an escalation to promote their existence to others in the Arab world who have been against Western hegemony in world affairs. The way that Bush has handled our foreign policy is making matters worse than they already were before the attacks. He would have been better off doing nothing.

Let me reiterate what Kerry needs to focus on: Statesmanship vs. Brinksmanship. There is a way we can coordinate the world response to terrorism on an international level, where all parties are in agreement (or near agreement) on how to proceed. It's not that the Bush administration tried to do it and failed, they wanted to go it alone in the first place. "If you're not with us, you're against us." If that's not a loaded way to frame the debate before the debate ever got going, I don't know what is. They went to Iraq on a predetermined timetable, taking the weather into account. Should Kerry get elected, the world will come back to the table and ask him, "how can we help you fix this mess." And he will succeed where Bush failed miserably.

To me, the Bush administration, run by neocons, decided to take the balls out approach the moment the Supreme Court decided the 2000 election in favor of Bush, knowing that it was unlikely they would exist past their first four year term. It was opportunism by an extremist group of dangerous ideologues to seize the moment to insert their agenda for all it was worth, knowing their time in power wouldn't last long. Then 9/11 happened and their agenda was given the cover it needed, and they began to realize that they were afforded an actual opportunity to stretch it to eight years.

There is no question that our #1 priority in this country is to get Kerry elected. While I may not agree with him on many of his stances (voting for the war to begin with, for starters), at this point it's all about damage control. A very personal analogy for me relates to my own credit card debt. The things I'd juggled in life for a number of years did not add up, and now I am to a point where I need to suffer through just working and not juggling the gamble of a musical career any longer, live with my mother in law until the slate is wiped clean, and then we can talk about saving and investing for the future, and moving forward with more lofty goals. The situation in this country now politically (not to mention economically) is a lot like that. We need to get Kerry in there first, and then reverse the damage of the past four years before moving forward with trying to shift the country further to the left.

Friday, July 23, 2004

It's that time again. Changes from last week:

AZ, MO, NH and WI move to Kerry's side, and FL to Bush. TN is a "tie." If TN stays with Bush, the electoral count would be:

Kerry 285, Bush 253. If Kerry got TN also, then he'd beat Bush 296 to 242.

I've been told by some folks not to take the Zogby polls seriously. Fair enough. But it makes me feel better to keep tabs on whatever statewide polls we can.

I'm looking forward to the convention to see what Kerry's going to do. I think Bush is planning on hammering the terrorist theme once the election draws near. It's going to be brutal, like the red scare. They are going to try and scare the American people into re-electing Bush. What Kerry needs to do is create the image of a statesman, someone who can also boldly act, but in a way that puts back some deference to the international process. Statesmanship v. Brinksmanship.

If we get four more years of Bush, I think we're going be further isolated in the world. The European community has its fingers crossed for Kerry. Because if Bush wins, we're going to face some serious crises in the international relations department. And history will note that the fall of American respect in the international community and its dominance in the world (both politically and economically, with the latter being tied to the former) can simply be summed up with two words: Pre-emptive war. And the lense of time will probably not note the differences in the American experiment with those of previous empires that fell due to the arrogance of power and over-reach. There will likely be no footnote if we continue along this path.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Here are the state by state poll numbers for this week according to realclearpolitics. Again, absent from the polls on this website are: Alaska, Nebraska, North Dakota, Wyoming, Delaware, DC and Hawaii, but I think it's pretty clear that the first four will go to Bush and the last three to Kerry. For instance, Nebraska last voted Democratic in 1916, Wyoming last voted Dem in '64 and Hawaii only voted GOP in '68 and '84.

Since last week (I'm just going by the most recent poll according to the site), New Hampshire and Arkansas have moved over to the Bush side and Pennsylvania has moved to the Kerry side.
If the election were held on these results, here's the outcome:

Bush 261
Kerry 277

Here are the raw numbers....
For Bush:
New Hampshire +1 (4 electoral votes)
Arkansas +2 (6)
Missouri +2 (11)
Nevada +2.5 (5)
North Carolina +3 (15)
Ohio +4 (20)
Wisconsin +4 (10)
Colorado +5 (9)
Virginia +5 (13)
Louisiana +6 (9)
West Virginia +6 (5)
South Carolina +7 (8)
Tennessee +10 (11)
Georgia +11 (15)
Arizona +12 (10)
Kentucky +13 (8)
Alabama +14 (9)
Indiana +16 (11)
South Dakota +16 (3)
Texas +18 (34)
Kansas +20 (6)
Montana +20 (3)
Idaho +30 (4)
Mississippi +31(6)
Oklahoma +32 (7)
Utah +45 (5)
Nebraska +? (5)
Alaska +? (3)
North Dakota +? (3)
Wyoming +? (3)
For Kerry:
Maine +1 (4 electoral votes)
Florida +3 (27)
Michigan +3 (17)
Iowa +4 (7)
Minnesota +4.6 (10)
Pennsylvania +5 (21)
Washington +6.4 (11)
Oregon +6.6 (7)
New Mexico +7 (5)
California +8 (55)
New Jersey +10 (15)
Maryland +14 (10)
Vermont +15 (3)
Illinois +16 (21)
Connecticut +18 (7)
Rhode Island +24 (4)
New York +28 (31)
Massachusetts +29 (12)
Hawaii +? (4)
Delaware +? (3)
DC +? (3)
I'm not sure why all the newscasts get so caught up in the national average. That's irrelevant to the real story. So I will keep doing this each week until the election as a service to you, the reader.

Friday, July 09, 2004

The GOP spin machine, I, I, mean Fox News is at it again. I've been spending too much time in my channel flipping routine settling on Fox and I keep getting inflamed. The latest spin is that Edwards is inexperienced, of course. And when the obvious rebuttal, that GWB was even less experienced, they come back with, "but in THESE TIMES, don't you think we should have someone with more experience?" To which I say, if we hadn't had a bozo in the White House with less experience come in in 2000, maybe 9/11 wouldn't have happened, and we wouldn't be in THESE TIMES. I think Gore would have given Dick Clarke a more sympathetic ear. Nobody says that, of course. It would be political dynamite, but it's true in my opinion.

That picture of Cheney looking grave sitting in the new Homeland Security room with Ridge circulating around the press now is a very deliberate attempt by the GOP to stress that we have another impending "attack" and that Cheney's experienced to handle the threat. It doesn't say so in the caption, but I find it rather odd that suddenly there is more "information" about an impending attack to "disrupt the election," yet the terror level is not being raised. Crying wolf, no? And trying to make people imagine in their heads what Edwards would look like in that same snapshot.

Let me take this thought process to the furthest extreme, as it's been something I've been thinking about for a while, though I've dared not say it: Would you put it past the current administration to let someone slip in to disrupt the Democratic convention? After all, if there was an attack that wasted the opposition, the GOP could just blame it on Massachusetts.

I suppose I'm taking that one too far, but I wonder how many other people out there have that type of thinking in the deep recesses of their minds?

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Here are the latest statewide poll numbers, according to realclearpolitics.com:

States for Bush (and by how many points):

Missouri 0.8
Virginia 2
Nevada 2.5
Ohio 4
Wisconsin 4
Colorado 5
Pennsylvania 5
Louisiana 6
West Virginia 6
North Carolina 7
South Carolina 10
Tennessee 10
Arizona 12
Georgia 12
Kentucky 13
Indiana 16
South Dakota 16
Texas 18
Kansas 20
Montana 20
Alabama 21
Oklahoma 26
Idaho 30
Mississippi 31
Utah 45

And for Kerry:

Arkansas 2.1
Iowa 2.1
Maine 2.5
New Hampshire 3.3
Minnesota 4.6
Florida 5
Washington 6.4
Oregon 6.6
New Mexico 6.9
New Jersey 10
Michigan 11
Illinois 13
California 14
Maryland 14
Vermont 15
Connecticut 18
New York 18
Rhode Island 24
Massachusetts 29

Missing states are: Alaska, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wyoming (likely Bush states) Delaware, DC and Hawaii (probably for Kerry).

If the polls were accurate, the election would go to Bush, 272 to 266. However, I think WI and PA are gonna go to Kerry and AR to Bush. In that scenario it would be 291 for Kerry and 247 for Bush. Lets throw OH and VA for good measure on account of Edwards. Then it would be 324 for Kerry, 214 for Bush. There's always hope, right?
I'm going to go back to the more positive frame of mind that I had on my 7/6 post. The Bush strategy of painting Edwards as inexperienced is going to backfire "big time." One only needs to turn the spotlight on the one who's shining it. Experience? GWB had none. How did he defend it? The typical "my inexperience in WASHINGTON is not a bad thing." I look forward to the Edwards/Cheney debates. Hopefully we don't have to hang up rubber chickens like they're doing in Pac Bell (oops, I mean SBC) Park!

Looks like our boys are at it again with the scare tactics so aptly pointed out by Moore in Farenheit 9/11. And, Matt Drudge, you're still a douchebag. Ooh, they're touching each other. I do hope Kerry backs off on the "hair" thing and "losing the bald vote" commentary. I'm surprised Drudge hasn't magnified that one. Then again, most journalists (or would be) don't like the potential scrutiny pointed the other way. What's under that hat, Matt?

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

I cannot understate how much I hate the conservative movement in this country at the present time. On most major news media outlets, people aren't asking the followup questions after conservatives make the blanket claim that Kerry/Edwards are "liberals" that are going to "raise your taxes." This infuriates me. Say "don't you mean, raise taxes on the rich?" It's really that simple, but they don't do it. Why? It's driving me fucking nuts!

The atmosphere in this country right now is really, really poisonous. I fear it's only going to get worse, especially if Bush gets re-elected. If he wins in another controversial election, you can bet there will be rioting in the streets. Am I out of touch to think this way? I don't think so. I feel like I am one of many self-described pragmatists or moderates who are waking up to the fact that the assault on the average working person by this country's current people in power is very, very significant. To paraphrase Bill Bennett, we are "slouching towards an oligarchy."

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

On this July 4th weekend, I did what every patriotic American should have done: I went to see Farenheit 9/11 and wore my "FUCK B*SH" T-Shirt. Yes, Moore is at times over the top and bludgeons you over the head with a very blunt instrument, but by doing this in an atmosphere that is very reactionary, he is doing a great service to this country. We live in very partisan times at the moment and the right has been winning the battle in the messaging department up until the past year or so. The tide is turning, the pendulum is about to cross the mid-point leftward. By choosing Edwards, Kerry just might cross over to disgruntled Republicans like my brother, a small businessman from the laissez faire, libertarian wing of the party who has been concerned that the Bush Administration caters to the Religious wing of the party that he can't stand. I think that Bush and company will ultimately remembered as the straw that broke the old GOP coalition's back years from now. We can't see this yet, but we are about to see evidence of it come November. I am very hopeful and optimistic right now. Had Kerry picked Gephardt, I would have declared the race over, since Gephardt represents the old Democratic party, the one that brought you Dukakis and Mondale. As I mentioned last March, my father voted for Edwards in Wisconsin, same as me for California, the only time probably that my father and I will vote for the same candidate. He voted for Edwards to "cause Kerry mischief" since the WI primaries are open, but I've gotta think that there are some doubts in the back of his mind about dubya as well, though we have not discussed this. My father voted for John Anderson in 1980 and Perot in '92, though. For whatever reason, he's morally opposed to voting Democratic even though he fared better personally during the Clinton years than any of the other presidencies while I was alive. Heck, he was voted "Boss of the year" in 1978 during the Carter Presidency, but then by the time of the Reagan recession, he lost control of his business and we had to move to the Chicago area, away from the small town our family had roots in since the 1880s. I've been trying to get him to make the connection but he won't budge. Now that Edwards is on the ticket I am going to try again.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Back from tour, unemployed, looking out for what's next. Starting April 12th, we embarked from SF to Amsterdam for the European tour which lasted until we arrived back home on May 8th. Three days later, we drove to LA and did a U.S. tour which brought us back home on June 18th. We have one more show here on 6/26 and then one in New York on 8/5 and then possibly Hong Kong some time in October (though doubtful). It has been a long one and I am adjusting to the concept of being alone for much of the day (while my wife is at work). Nothing has sunk in yet. However, since I last posted that money thing with my old job resolved itself. The Monday morning I was to leave for Europe, a FedEX guy showed up with a check from my old place of employment basically giving me $1200 and a note that said "while we don't agree with your assessment, we have decided to pay you the balance to settle the matter and signing and depositing the enclosed check officially closes the matter," etc. I have since found that my entire former department/office has been laid off, and people are trickling out until the end of the year, as I suspected. After this Saturday's show I will begin dipping my toe into the networking water to see where I land. Mostly it will probably involve a lot of lunches with former coworkers and whatnot. I am not ready for this type of thing just yet and I am not sure what I really want to do. I do know one thing: I will not work anywhere unless the hours begin at 8am or later. There is still a chance I may work for my wife's uncle, but it depends on whether or not he can secure a couple of deals he's been working on with clients of his. I would be a "train the trainer." It also appears we will be moving into her mom's apartment addition once completed down in Santa Clara, rent free for 1-2 years until our debt load is, or close to settled. I have secretly called it a self imposed exile, because we would be far enough away from our circles of friends and normal activities for it to make us feel like we're holed up in the Crimea. That is literally true, I suppose, in that they have done a lot of work in the front and back yard to make it feel like a vacation oasis in the middle of bland suburbia. The front is a series of elaborate fences, lush gardens and interesting Japanese-inspired architecture. The back has a new jacuzzi and I am assuming its surroundings is somewhat similar in concept to the front, though I have not seen it. They are going to build a two story in-law unit adjacent to the garage side of the house. Once completed, we will move in supposedly.

Politically I haven't been that active. I support Kerry, though I am wary of his ability to relate to the average Joe. I wore a "FUCK B*SH" t-shirt during most of our shows on the US tour. It started to smell pretty bad and had to give it a rest, putting my experiment of seeing if I could wear it to every show to the serious test. I signed up as a volunteer for the Kerry campaign, but I am not sure I have the wherewithal to try and raise funds. I may have a lot of time to attend events to see what it's all about, however.

I forgot to mention the landlord dispute my wife and I had with the people that bought the house. Just before I was to leave for Europe, the new landlords, after a series of fits and starts and different stories about how they wanted to move into the place and so on, told us they wanted to raise the rent from $1025 to $1601.40 (adding the 1.40 for extra injury, we gather), well above the Oakland Rent Control amount of 3%. They said they had a loophole for "debt service" costs. We gathered our facts, and exposed their errors in accounting as well as errors in procedure. The hearing took place on 4/28 and we basically won. They wanted to raise the rent in April originally, but now they can't until October, and then only $300, not the $600+ they originally wanted to. They have appealed the decision, but they will probably lose there also, due to the inflammatory remarks made towards the rent adjuster who oversaw the case. In some ways it was probably better that I was not present for the hearing, because my wife is a lot more composed in those situations that I would have been, especially when the husband landlord started insulting my wife at the hearing, as he had done in times before in interactions we've had with them. A classic one was "if you don't like it, there are other places to rent in the city," when she told him that we were not, in fact, responsible to replace the faulty sink. That particular comment was a declaration of war, I said at the time, one which culminated in the hearing we won. When the time comes, they will get what they want, an ability to raise the rent to whatever they want, since we will be moving out soon enough. But I can assure you that the market will not bear $1601.40 a month for this place. Not in this economy. There's a place down the street that has had a sign up for the same amount for over two years now, and it has remained empty the entire time. Good luck Martha C and Alfonso Cortes Ponce!

Ah, a rambling account to be sure. But I've been feeling a little unmotivated and clammed up in the writing department since I returned exactly a week ago from the tour. It's all about the show this Saturday right now and then I will gather my thoughts after what is certain to be a bender of a barbecue at our house the afternoon after the show.

Monday, April 05, 2004

This is the last week of employment. I may cut out early, but I am debating. I sent a nice little diatribe this morning to headquarters. Here is what I said:

"First off, I would like to say that anyone who has worked with me over the past year and a half will vouch for the fact that I am not known as someone who likes to stir things. However, this whole episode has awakened something in me that I feel needs to be put in writing.

After much deliberation and consultation with many folks internally and externally, I have decided that I am not going to sign the attached "authorization for recoupment" form, as I find it offensive that you should try and strong arm me into doing so. I feel like I am being treated poorly for a mistake that was essentially yours. You are making me feel like I am stealing something from you when the reality of the situation is that the money and time I "owe" you is due to no fault of my own. I respectfully submit that you write off the amount equal to the eleven days.

If you take a good look at the inefficiencies in other departments that you oversee, I'll bet you could find errors that are more egregious than this one. And if you look at my work record compared to some of my peers, you will find that the additional expense was worth it, to have someone who is competent, reliable and efficient on your staff for the price you've been paying. So the choice is yours, be punitive to send some kind of message, which will undoubtedly circulate among the others on the staff here at xxxxxxxxx and affect morale, or do the right thing by acknowledging your mistake and write it off like you would any other accounting error. I look forward to your reply."

I am not holding my breath. In fact, I am waiting for inadequate response now to give me enough cause to log off and take off, not looking back. I have had it with this situation. Couple this with the petition against the 56% rent increase that my wife and I face, I'm about at my wit's end. But I am about to go on tour, leaving a week from today. I'm hoping the hearing for the apartment doesn't take place while I'm gone, for my wife's sake. But I don't have any control over that.

I'm reading that Franken book right now. It's interesting how he pointed out Clarke before Clarke himself announced his frustrations with the Bush administration. I'm thinking Kerry can win this so long as he doesn't fuck it up.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Do you get the funny feeling that you're being watched?
Well, Frist fucked up, because Clarke called his bluff quite nicely. The smear campaign is going very, very badly. It is a beautiful thing to watch Chimp and Co. squirm.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Well, maybe the Clarke thing will have legs. I particularly like this passage in a Salon Interview with him:

Q: Why do you think Cheney -- and the Bush administration in general -- ignored the warnings that were put to them by [former national security advisor] Sandy Berger, by you, by George Tenet, who is apparently somebody they hold in great esteem?

A; They had a preconceived set of national security priorities: Star Wars, Iraq, Russia. And they were not going to change those preconceived notions based on people from the Clinton administration telling them that was the wrong set of priorities. They also looked at the statistics and saw that during eight years of the Clinton administration, al-Qaida killed fewer than 50 Americans. And that's relatively few, compared to the 300 dead during the Reagan administration at the hands of terrorists in Beirut -- and by the way, there was no military retaliation for that from Reagan. It was relatively few compared to the 259 dead on Pan Am 103 in the first Bush administration, and there was no military retaliation for that. So looking at the low number of American fatalities at the hands of al-Qaida, they might have thought that it wasn't a big threat.

They had a preconceived set of national security priorities. I would add, as Gore has already touched on since last year, that they have a preconceived set of ideological priorities across the board, whether it be domestic issues, the economy, national security, the lot. The Democratic party cannot be so neatly pigeonholed because it is a party that looks at the facts and draws conclusions, not the other way around.
I dunno about this Clarke thing. Partisans are not going to change their mind about any of this. The swing voters are where it's at. And I fear that too much emphasis on this is going to create a backlash, one where people are turned off by Kerry by associating him with the "shoulda, coulda woulda" crowd with the fine tuned hindsight vision they now have. The only way this can have an effect is as a contribution to many other stories that paint the correct impression that this administration is full of "lying, crooked" people. In that regard, Clarke has done us a great service, as Paul O'Neill, David Kay, and Rand Beers have already done before him. More will need to come, though. By November, the Clarke thing taken alone will be much ado about nothing at best. Kerry needs to get back on the stump and change the subject back to the economy, and hammer the point home that most of the "tax cuts" went to the rich, who are keeping the proceeds to themselves and are outsourcing the jobs, over, and over, and over, and over again. Kudos to Lou Dobbs for hammering the latter point.

Thought of another work related analogy today. The band I'm in is the last remaining lifeboat in my jump off this sinking ship.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

I can't believe I missed this speech by Gore. It's another in his series touching on an administration that digs for dubious facts to support half baked theories, and using fear as a technique to keep people from examining the facts.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Nice letter today from my soon to be former place of employment:

"I acknkowledge that xxxxxxx has overpaid me wages of $xxxx.xx (net) by mistakenly continuing my full pay while I was on unpaid leave from October 15, 2003 through October 31, 2003. I have voluntarily resigned, April 9, 2004, and therefore authorize the Company to recoup the amount of overpaid wages, and I authorize the Company to withhold any such amount from my paychecks, up to and including my final paycheck."

Sorry, kids, I ain't signing that one until you spell out how you plan on withholding...


Thursday, March 18, 2004

Interesting word of moderation and caution from Senator McCain this morning. But sadly he is in the minority. To wit:

"I think it's because both parties are going to their bases rather than going to the middle. I regret it. I think there are serious challenges facing America in the form of Medicare, Social Security, health care, deficit spending. And I think we ought to have open and honest debates on those issues,'' said the Arizona senator. If the attacks and counterattacks continue, he said, voters might ultimately tune out.

"I would certainly hope that we could raise the level of this debate,'' he said. "Otherwise we're going to have very low voter turnouts in November.''

On that final point, I'm sure that's what Rove is hoping for. The GOP fares better the lower the turnout is.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Maybe the better analogy from the previous post is having jumped off of a sinking ship that is currently frozen into the side of the mountain and I'm taking a nice leisurely ski down the slope enjoying the view. At the bottom of the mountain is the tour van with all of the equipment already packed.

Tom Bragan, who has been kind enough to bookmark this blog on his, wrote a nice piece today about the missile defense system being the modern day Maginot line. I've repeated this to anyone who'd listen ever since I first heard it as a kid from my grandmother in the eighties. Star Wars is another Maginot line, a colossal waste of money.

And yes, Tom, I'm having the same resignation as you about the "0 Comments" thing.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Well, I gave notice at work today. 4/9 is my last day. I have now jumped off the cliff and the view from here is just fine.

Friday, March 12, 2004

I guess I should clarify a little bit since I've gotten a flavor of some of the polls. NH looks like Kerry can lock that. IA looks more in jeopardy than I thought, although the polls I've seen there by browsing the web have been a bit of a seesaw. But I'll add Iowa as a list of states to defend. Nevada...it looks like a dead heat. I'm not saying Kerry shouldn't bother with Florida. Of course he should stump there and try, but my gut tells me he has a better shot at focusing on Ohio and Missouri. Why do I get the feeling Gephardt's gonna surface as his running mate?
Okay, I've spent way too much time on this today, but I went to that little electoral map this morning and then decided to tally all of the states in the electoral college for elections dating back to 1856. Probably overkill there, but in my analysis with respect to the elections since about 1976, I'm thinking the states that Kerry should be focusing on are as follows...

From the so-called "swing" states:

New Hampshire

From the "red" or Republican states:

North Carolina

And "blue" or Democratic states to defend/watch out for counterattack:


Here are the other swing states, according to the electoral map on John Edwards' site:

West Virginia

I'm not sure why Arizona is considered a swing state. They've voted Republican every time since 1952 with the exception of 1996. I guess maybe they're thinking that demographics are changing?

To me, Louisiana, Georgia, Montana and Arkansas look firmly in the "realignment" Republican category and Kerry shouldn't waste his time there. Florida's worth a shot, but I highly doubt it unless they can pin the Greenspan suggestions w/respect to Social Security on Bush. More likely is the culture war shit will convince enough of the geezers that Kerry's too liberal. But that's just my gut talking. Ohio and Missouri vis a vis jobs is a better strategy for Kerry.

Now, the remaining Republican states:

North Dakota
South Carolina
South Dakota

Can you say "forget it?" The only reason I mention NC is if Kerry takes Edwards. As for Virginia, well, they have a Democratic governer, a first in a while apparently. It's a long shot but worth a try.

And the remaining Dem states?

New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
Rhode Island

All of the above seem safe.

I'm giving notice to my place of employment about the impending two months of tours on Monday. I'm feeling a sense of liberation is coming. Goodbye cubicle, nice knowin' ya. Of course, when I come back from the tour, I have until August to line up something new that will fill the $ void. But something is in the works. How vague can I be? Well, you know it would be a big step to reveal too much and I'm not willing to go there.

This site has been a bit devoid of the politically slanted posts for a bit. Frankly, this election cycle is too long. I'm obviously going to support Kerry, but this whole "push the date back" nonsense in the primaries has gone too far. It's going to be much ado about nothing until summer approaches. Then Bush will pull Bin Laden like a rabbit out of his hat during the Dem convention and we can watch the poll numbers move in his favor. I am waiting to be convinced otherwise.

By the way, this whole "flap" about Kerry calling GOP members corrupt in a one on one with a supporter is a bunch of crap. I mean, of course he's right on this. Just yesterday we saw this. Halliburton now admits to wrongdoing. Is anyone surprised? I really don't understand why more people don't make this connection in the press: California energy crisis=Enron/Dynegy having political cover until Jeffords bolted the GOP. Then suddenly CA had plenty of energy on supply. Halliburton=Iraq war. These motherfuckers are corrupt, absolutely. One of those passalong emails came in from a friend of mine the other day. In case you haven't seen it, here it is. Says it all:

Things you have to believe to be a Republican today

1. Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you're a conservative radio host. Then it's an illness and you need our prayers for your recovery.

2. The United States should get out of the United Nations, and our highest national priority is enforcing U.N. resolutions against Iraq.

3. Government should relax regulation of Big Business and Big Money, but crack down on individuals who use marijuana to relieve the pain of illness.

4. The government has no business telling me I can't have guns, but when you want to exercise freedom of choice, then it's time for a Constitutional amendment.

5. George W (6% unemployment, $87+ billion to Iraq, half-trillion dollar deficit) is doing a great job getting us out of the economic mess that Clinton (3.8% unemployment, peace, huge surplus) got us > into.

6. A woman can't be trusted with decisions about her own body, but multinational corporations can make decisions affecting all mankind without regulation.

7. Jesus loves you, and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary Clinton.

8. The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches while slashing veterans' benefits and combat pay.

9. Group sex and drug use are degenerate sins unless you someday run for governor of California as a Republican.

10. If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won't have sex.

11. A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle our longtime allies, then demand their cooperation and money.

12. HMOs and insurance companies have the interest of the public at heart.

13. Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy. Providing health care to all Americans is socialism.

14. Global warming and tobacco's link to cancer are junk science, but creationism should be taught in schools.

15. Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush's daddy made war on him, a good guy when Cheney did business with him, and a bad guy when Bush couldn't find Bin Laden.

16. A president lying about an extramarital affair is an impeachable offense. A president lying about nonexistent Weapons of Mass Destruction to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is solid defense policy.

17. Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution, which include banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet.

18. The public has a right to know about Hillary's cattle trades, but George Bush's driving record is none of our business.

19. You support states' rights, which means Attorney General John Ashcroft can tell states what local voter initiatives they have a right to adopt.

20. What Bill Clinton did in the 1960s is of vital national interest, but what Bush did in the 1980s is irrelevant.

21. Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is communist, but trade with China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.

22. We have to run background checks on every Muslim traveler to the U.S. because those bastards killed 2,800 Americans on 9/11, but a background check on gun buyers? No way! 15,000 gun-related deaths in the U.S.? C'mon. Guns don't kill people; people kill people.

23. We're leaving no child behind. Entire public school systems, that's another story.

24. Americans shouldn't buy imported goods, but other countries should all buy our stuff.

25. The Right is still bashing a president who's been out of office for three years, who made our economy healthy, and who didn't alienate the rest of the world's leaders. The minute anyone says anything about little Georgie, it's wrong.

26. John Ashcroft can spy on you, tap your phone, check your email, even search your home. An independent investigation into the administration? Not a chance.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Started reading "Our Band Could Be Your Life" by Michael Azerrad over the weekend. I'm doing this as part of research in writing my autobiography, a chronicle of my dumb rock life. I'm not sure there will be many people who would want to read it since I'm not exactly a household name. But I think I can chronicle the struggle of the part time musician, the juggling that takes place in a new light, or at least a humorous one. "Our Band Could Be Your Life" is not so humorous, it's more of a history of punk in the 80s, and it gets a tad self-righteous at times, but I can certainly identify with some of the struggles (and some I cannot).

More importantly, the great Cheesecake caper. I was so proud and excited to find a recipe for "New York" style cheesecake. See, it's my favorite dessert. I don't have much of a sweet tooth but I do love this one dessert quite a bit. So, I started thinking to myself, "how hard is it, really, to make one myself rather than spend $$ on a slice at a restaurant." "I bet I could make a whole cake for less than that!" Last Saturday morning I happened to be flipping and caught the program "Sara's Secrets" on the Food Network. Sure enough, a New York Style Cheesecake recipe.

Here are the ingredients:

24 oz cream cheese, room temp
2 cups sugar
3 eggs, room temp
1 tbsp vanilla

1 cup crumbled graham crackers
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp butter, room temp

Holy shit, easy, right? Combine the crumbled graham crackers with the butter and sugar, and place into a spring form pan that has been sprayed with that non-stick shit.

Then, find a mixer, plop in the three bricks of 8 oz cream cheese with the 2 cups sugar. Blend, then adding one egg at a time, followed by the vanilla.

Pour in the mixture into the crust, stick in the oven at 275 for an hour and a half, then turn off the oven and leave the cake in there without opening the oven door for 3 more hours.

Stick in the fridge, letting sit for 9 hours before removing the spring form pan.

Simple, right? I was so excited and I began talking it up to everybody, that I was going to make the best cheesecake they've ever had. Trouble is, we went out on Friday night and I had figured it would not be a big deal if we got back after the three hour "oven time" window. We returned about 7 hours later. The cake looked a bit shriveled. It was a bit of a bummer.

I brought it out of the oven to show my wife, and just as she was saying it was no big deal, that we would get some raspberries and could make a sauce the next morning to put on it to improve the presentation, the fucking spring form pan snapped out of place and the cake went PLOP on the kitchen floor. My wife said I had a look of horror on my face she's never seen before, as if my entire life had been leading up to the baking of this cake and it all lead to this moment. I said 'Nononononono NO!"

To make a long story short, after we picked up the cake from the floor, she suggested I have a taste anyway. I had just mopped the floor earlier in the day, so how dirty could it be? It really tasted good. The next morning, after it had been in the fridge overnight, even better. The presentation just wasn't there. So we went to Trader Joe's to get a cheesecake there for the dinner party we were hosting that night.

Turns out everyone who had heard my story insisted that they see my cake, and they all proceeded to eat it anyway, saying they much preferred it to the store bought cake. I had a taste myself and pronounced: "I've tasted the competition and the competition lost."

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Well today's the day. Voting for the primary and local measures, obscure party committee candidates (making sure LaRouchies don't get in), etc. I'm casting my vote for Edwards in the hope that it helps his chances as Kerry's running mate, press reports about their increasing animosity notwithstanding. At this hour I am still undecided in two areas: City Council At Large for Oakland: Henry Chang or Melanie Shelby. Both look to be good candidates. The argument for Shelby is that she's young and energetic, might bring new blood to the post. But it's hard to argue with Chang's record. The other area I'm on the fence is Measure 57. I'm not sure a bond measure to take care of State Debt is the right way to go. There are some larger, structural issues in how the state is governed that contribute to the problem such as the mandate from Prop 13, etc. If 56 passes, then that increases the likelihood that taxes would be raised to cover the debt. I don't have a problem with that to a point. So I am leaning no there. On the other hand, we live in the real world, and I doubt 56 will pass, which means that if 57 doesn't pass in that scenario, then it's likely the State will slash programs to cover the deficit. So long as 58 passes, mandating a rainy day fund, that shouldn't be a problem.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Well, I never cease to amaze myself at my cheater html skills. I managed to figure out how to format this comments thing to my liking for now. I'm so proud of myself I could just shit.

What's newsworthy today? More lies from Bush about how the dems are "gonna raise your taxes" to small business owners. More gobbledygook about the Passion of the Christ, a movie that I am not planning on seeing any time soon. I watched the Last Temptation of Christ again recently and recommend that instead.

Rock the mic with the pantyhose.

Thanks to Comment This, I now have comments on my blog. I need to send the dude his two dollars. "I want my twooooo dooollars....twoooo doollars." -The Kid from "Better Off Dead."
Since we're on the subject of Jesus lately, I thought I would share an email exchange via fanmail to our site recently. Names have been changed to protect the innocent and the not so innocent:

From : xxxxx
Sent : Wednesday, February 25, 2004 4:26 PM
To : A Fan
CC : xxxxxx@xxxxx.com
Subject : Re: Jesus

ahh xxx, if it were only that easy. god gave us a
brain, a very powerful instrument to use, not to give
up. again, like a good parent, god has given us this
long life to experience things and come to our own
conclusions. it's that wonderful thing called "free
will." remember, after adam and eve were cast from
the garden of eden humans were no longer divine and
were left to make decisions for themselves. also,
when i get messages like this i wonder..."are you a
good christian" or just somebody who has accepted
christ as their saviour? there's a big difference,
and i hope you realize that. what i mean is, do you
act like christ through your daily actions or do you
just think you're saved merely because you've accepted
him. we have hypocrite christians like george bush,
or pat robertson, or the millions of americans who
favor war and capitalism yet they know nothing of the
gospels. mr. bush would never accept the likes of the
apostles or mary magdalene into his home. he would
never wash the feet of a leper, he would never "turn
the other cheek" as Jesus instructs us to do. yet
under the guise of christianity he goes on and on
about moral duty, protects the rich, and kills
innocent people half way across the world. so i ask
you sean, are you one of those christians, a false
prophet per se? i mean the average born again
christian in this country is a republican, and the
average repbulican is pro capitalism, against social
care for the poor and disadvantaged, pro death
penalty, and pro war. that's the saddest part. all
these born again christians who don't act like christ.
that's why i just want to know how seriously i should
take your message. i want to know if you're a good
person. i want to know if you do good acts. in fact,
i want to know the last time you helped someone you
didn't know. the last time you gave the shirt off
your back to someone you didn't know. the last time
you gave all your money away. merely accepting jesus
as your saviour is too easy, that's why millions of
americans do it, yet they still spend millions of
dollars on evil companies, sin profusely, hate
minorities, and act unchristian on a daily basis. so
while god may not need to prove anything to me, i'm
afraid you do. if you're going to send me an email
and try to convert me, then you better prove to me
that you're not the average hypocritical american
christian. i want to know WHO i'm dealing with.

p.s. glad you like our music, we appreciate it.

--- "A Fan" wrote:
> I recently heard your song, "xx xx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxxxx," on the web site. If anything from this
> message, I hope you realize that God does not have
> to
> prove anything to you. Give it up. If you want
> proof, give it up. Stop trying to control your
> life.
> If life has shown you anything, it is that you can't
> go through life with expectations of anyone, even
> God.
> Realize that you will be happier if you ask Christ
> to
> take control. Give up. Just try it. If you are
> truly tired of looking for answers, let the answers
> come to you. Allow Christ to take control instead
> of
> saying, "God, show yourself." I've already been
> down
> that road. I eventually got tired and realized I
> was
> helpless and I have no power in my solitary, selfish
> soul. If you come to the end of your rope in your
> own
> philosophy of life, give it up. Answers will only
> come when you let yourself go. I am a huge fan of
> your music and I have been for several years. You
> have an original edge to your music that has made
> your
> recent album addictive. If only you could take some
> of my advice. I would hate to see you stop playing
> your songs and lose your lease on life. I hope you
> realize I am concerned about your life, and I only
> want to help. Make Christ personal instead of this
> big entity that you can't talk to directly.
> Wish you well,
> A fan

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

And so begins the first shot in the war between generations. We knew the debate about baby boomers retiring and how it affects Social Security would one day become out and out generational warfare. Greenspan made the first move.
In the words of the CIA:

"Even if Al Qaeda is crushed, terrorist threats will remain because of a global surge in anti-Americanism, the emergence of dozens of groups representing terrorism's "next wave" and the worldwide spread of Al Qaeda's philosophy and "destructive expertise," the nation's top intelligence officials said Tuesday."

The source of the above quote comes from the Chicago Tribune. The reason? Pre-emptive war. Chirac was right when he said that jumping the gun to war in Iraq could create "100 more Bin Ladens." Sucks to be right, eh?
Interesting article in Slate today about social decision making and how it explains the move to Kerry by the majority of the Dems. It is something I had been thinking about in my own move away from Dean at the beginning of the primary season. The article hits the nail on the head.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

On the gay marriage wedge issue, the smirking chimp says:

"After more than two centuries of American jurisprudence and millennia of human experience, a few judges and local authorities are presuming to change the most fundamental institution of civilization," the president said in urging Congress to approve such an amendment. "Their action has created confusion on an issue that requires clarity."

Proponents of slavery used the same argument a century and a half ago. Just because it's been done that way before doesn't make it right. So a shotgun wedding of two eighteen year olds who will end up getting divorced from their "starter marriage" three years later is sacred, but the union of two ladies who have stayed committed to each other for over a half a century is wrong?
I was foraging through some articles I saved in Word over the past year and came across a passage from an early Edwards speech that I pointed out here in hamradiocentral, before I deleted the blog and started over. These words ring as true today as they did then:

Their economic vision has one goal: to get rid of taxes on unearned income and shift the tax burden onto people who work. This crowd wants a world where the only people who have to pay taxes are the ones who do the work.

Make no mistake: this is the most radical and dangerous economic theory to hit our shores since socialism a century ago. Like socialism, it corrupts the very nature of our democracy and our free enterprise tradition. It is not a plan to grow the American economy. It is a plan to corrupt the American economy and shrink the winners’ circle.

This is a question of values, not taxes. We should cut taxes, but we shouldn’t cut and run from our values when we do. John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan argued for tax cuts as an incentive for people to work harder: Americans work hard, and the government shouldn’t punish them when they do.

This crowd is making a radically different argument. They don’t believe work matters most. They don’t believe in helping working people build wealth. They genuinely believe that the wealth of the wealthy matters most. They are determined to cut taxes on that wealth, year after year, and heap more and more of the burden on people who work.

How do we know this? Because they don’t even try to hide it. The Bush budget proposed tax-free tax shelters for millionaires that are bigger than most Americans’ paychecks for an entire year. And just last week, Bush’s tax guru, Grover Norquist, said their goal is to abolish the capital gains tax, abolish the dividend tax, and let the wealthiest shelter as much as they want tax-free."

Right on, brother!

Monday, February 23, 2004

Looks like Kos is thinking along the same lines. I swear I posted this before reading about Kos's endorsement. I came to this conclusion over the weekend.
Well, assuming he's still in the race by March 2nd, I've decided to cast my vote for Edwards, despite his borrowing from Meat Loaf. Incidentally, my dad, who has been a Republican all his life, informed me that he voted for Edwards to "cause mischief" for Kerry in the WI primary. As you well know, Wisconsin has an open primary. "Nobody's challenging Bush, so I thought I'd have a little fun." The old man's got a little pep in him at 76. So I guess this is a moment in history: the first and probably only time that my father and I will have voted for the same Presidential candidate. Of course now that I've said that Edwards will probably drop out before 3/2.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Now as I read over the contents of the debate again, I realized I missed a very important point: Corporate Welfare. When I pointed out that the GOP only seems to be helping people who make over $200K a year, I should have specified that in terms of unnecessary subsidies by the government to people who obviously don't need it.

But some battles aren't worth fighting. The great thing about my family is that we can agree to disagree and leave it at that.

Over the weekend I found myself embroiled in a mini-debate with my uncle, a retired Brigadier General whose views are obviously a bit different than mine. It all started when my mom forwarded, as she often does, three of his right-winged emails right in a row. One was a pilot's rant about how much of an asshole Kerry was, a rant that revealed more about the psyche of the pilot than any dirt on Kerry. The second was a post I forget, but I can assure you it was sufficiently right wing-tipped. And here is the third:

Subject: Democracy

At about the time our original 13 states adopted their new constitution, in the year 1787, Alexander Tyler (a Scottish history professor at The University of Edinborough) had this to say about "The Fall of The Athenian Republic" some 2,000 years prior. "A Democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship." "The average age of the worlds greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

From Bondage to spiritual faith;
From spiritual faith to great courage;
From courage to liberty;
From liberty to abundance;
From abundance to complacency;
From complacency to apathy;
From apathy to dependence;
From dependence back into bondage.”

Professor Joseph Olson of Hamline University School of Law, St. Paul, Minnesota, points out some interesting facts concerning the most recent Presidential election: Population of counties won by:

Gore=127 million
Bush=143 million
Square miles of land won by:
States won by:
Murder rate per 100,000 residents in counties won by:

Professor Olson adds: "In aggregate, the map of the territory Bush won was mostly the land owned by the tax-paying citizens of this great country. Gore's territory encompassed those citizens living in government-owned tenements and living off government welfare..."Olson believes the U.S. is now somewhere between the "apathy" and "complacency" phase of Professor Tyler's definition of democracy; with some 40 percent of the nation's population already having reached the "governmental dependency" phase.

I've gotten such forwards for years, and finally I responded, but only to my mom. I'll spare the details, but my response began like this:

"Well now you've gone and unleashed the politcal beast in me." I went on to say how I couldn't understand why anyone in our family was a Republican because we can't afford to be. The GOP only seems to be helping people who make over $200K a year, etc.

She decided to forward it to my uncle. We then got into a friendly but pointless debate about the role of government. Here's one excerpt:

As we keep giving to the "needy" (Dem terminology which means votes), that part of the pie which is around 70%, if I recall from a few years ago, keeps growing and we won't afford to do anything except pay for people to continue to abuse themselves.

I responded by saying there are some people out there who truly do need help and that flippin' burgers doesn't cut it for most people to be able to live in this day and age.

Here was part of his final word:
As I told your mom, never trust a politician. And two, the right to keep and bear arms is the only way our first amendment can be protected, primarily from the politicians. The reason I live up here is that we can keep out most of the trash, few have MTV or cable for that matter, and we are far enough from Madison, the peoples' republic, (or MA, CA and others) to not to hear about their tripe much. In the real world, someone has to make money in order to form a firm to hire real people. I have a small business, make far less than $100K, and am taxed to death. The government is too big and should not be the primary provider of so many.

And when I happened upon an article in Mother Jones about Grover Norquist today, I realized what I was dealing with. And that is a group of people drawn to a nihilistic worldview, who wish to withdraw from the real world and to allow the rest of us to slide down the slippery slope into that Hobbesian state of nature that more people in this country would do well to realize just where the NRA's rhetorical statement "An armed society is a polite society" truly leads: A state where the life of man is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."
Preparations are going forward for our upcoming round of tours. Two months, my friends, two months. This is a long time to be away from home with no certain job after returning. I just found out today that the parent company that took over about the time of the last tour finally realized they made a mistake in not docking the unpaid leave I had of approximately 11 days back in October of LAST year. Luckily the pain of this can be spread over four pay periods to soften the blow. Still, it was something I should have planned for. Whatever. That's what rainy day funds are for.

Here is the van for the European leg of the tour. Beats previous vans, where we were packed in like sardines with only a window on one side that didn't open. We go to Germany, France, Netherlands, Belgium, UK, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland and Austria. Most sights will probably be seen outside of those van windows. Then we return for a full U.S. tour. In August, there will be some festivals and then we are going to call it a day.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

I have officially removed the Clark and Dean for President sites, among a few others I have lost interest in from my links. I guess that is symbolic. It looks like Dean's about to drop out of the race, and Clark has already done so. I am somewhat heartened by the rise of Edwards, who seems to have the most integrity to me of the remaining two candidates that have a chance to win this thing. Dean's right, though. He shaped the debate for this primary. Maybe there's a cabinet job for him at Health and Human Services if he'll take it. I have to hand it to my home state for continuing to take the road less traveled when it comes to elections. Russ Feingold's entrance into the Senate a decade ago is evidence of that. Wisconsin has a proud history of progressivism and clean government. I wish the state I'm currently in could take a few lessons in civility from my home state.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Well the Drudge thing went limp. Some of my colleagues think that Kerry's going to win the general election. I'm not so sure. I am solidly ABB, but I have yet to be inspired by Kerry. Of course, I felt the same way about Clinton in '92.

I got into a little political "debate" via email with my uncle, who's solidly conservative and in Bush's corner. I'm a bit weary from the exchange and don't know why I bother. The fact of the matter is this country is divided across the middle. I see more partisanship in our future, when all talk of "generational warfare" becomes reality as the baby boomers retire and make our current deficits look tame.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Looks like Drudge is having himself a good jizzfest this a.m.:



**World Exclusive**
**Must Credit the DRUDGE REPORT**

A frantic behind-the-scenes drama is unfolding around Sen. John Kerry and his quest to lockup the Democratic nomination for president, the DRUDGE REPORT can reveal.

Intrigue surrounds a woman who recently fled the country, reportedly at the prodding of Kerry, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.

A serious investigation of the woman and the nature of her relationship with Sen. John Kerry has been underway at TIME magazine, ABC NEWS, the WASHINGTON POST, THE HILL and the ASSOCIATED PRESS, where the woman in question once worked.

A close friend of the woman first approached a reporter late last year claiming fantastic stories -- stories that now threaten to turn the race for the presidency on its head!

In an off-the-record conversation with a dozen reporters earlier this week, General Wesley Clark plainly stated: "Kerry will implode over an intern issue." [Three reporters in attendance confirm Clark made the startling comments.]

The Kerry commotion is why Howard Dean has turned increasingly aggressive against Kerry in recent days, and is the key reason why Dean reversed his decision not to drop out of the race after Wisconsin, top campaign sources tell the DRUDGE REPORT.

Sounds like the "Character Issue" is reborn. We'll see how long it takes for it to be acknowledged (if at all) in the dailies. If it is, then I'll be worried. My guess is this would be good news for Edwards if so.

You can rule that out

One thing we can now be certain of - any issues you may have with my communication, or just anything to do with me really - are not the resu...