Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

People seem to be forgetting something about the recovery from this recession: Since the 2008 Mortgage meltdown brought us into the deepest doo doo since the Great Depression, of course the recovery is going to take longer. And let's not forget, the previous recession was a tech bust, and the "recovery" from that was another speculative (real estate) bubble, lulling us into an unrealistic idea of "quick" recoveries. The reality of our economy is that the bulk of our nation's spending power is now in the hands of fewer and fewer people, and we can't keep kicking the can down the road. Clean tech looks promising, but in this political climate it does not appear that this will be a gold rush. The only way for that to happen is if our backs are against the wall, namely, we run out of oil and have no choice but to act. Sad, but true. We'll probably be moving along at 1-2% rates for some time to come.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Here's my beef with Don Perata...

His website has this quote:

"The Oakland City Charter mandates a form of government that demands a strong mayor. A key feature in City Hall’s failure over the last eight years has been its lack of strong leadership."

And then it has this picture. (From here, bottom image)

Talk about having it both ways!

Monday, September 13, 2010

When people, generally anti-tax and government republicans, look with misty eyes on the Eisenhower Presidency about how great things were back then, I like to provide them with this link:

This is a document that shows the tax brackets each year since the income tax was enacted in 1913. It's a fascinating read. Weren't the 50s under Ike great? No war, the Interstate Highway System (how much of that spending would measure in real GDP compared to the recovery act in inflation-neutral dollars, but I digress), and a warning against the Military Industrial Complex...

And so if you look to the years of the Eisenhower Presidency, take a look at what the top rate was. Just LOOK AT IT!

Over $0.91 on the dollar to Uncle Sam? Well, from what I understand, there were various loopholes bringing the real rate closer to 50%. But still!

And before you right wingers go blaming FDR the Socialist, keep in mind who was in charge of the 83rd congress when the (hard to understand) Internal Revenue Code of 1954 was passed. That's right, all Republicans.

That's right, the Republicans, with the White House, Senate and House of Representatives, certainly could have used that opportunity to lower the top tax bracket...but that didn't happen until...1964? Under LBJ?

Hmmmm, what's wrong with the tidy narrative that the Reaganites and revisionists on the right like to assume? As Gertrude Stein or somebody somewhere probably once said, "There's no there there."

I also have to laugh at nutzoid Glenn Beck for his professed love of Warren G. Harding. However, let's review what happened in the 1920s. The revenue act of 1921 was passed, Harding died (who, really, was running THAT administration anyway?), Coolidge became President, the revenue act of 1924 was passed, time were booming. But was it sustainable? Surely the Great Depression wouldn't have happened if FDR and those liberals hadn't taken over, right?

Only one problem. Hoover was President in 1929 continuing the GOP policies, and the 70th Congress was also Republican controlled. And they had four years to "stay out of the way."


And so I have to laugh when anyone proclaims the spending under Obama and the 111th Congress is Socialist. Really? Show me some Historical numbers. Back that shit up, 'yo!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Rambling rant for today. There are 51 days left until the mid-terms on 11/2.

The bankruptcy of supply side, aka "trickle down" economics bears repeating now more than ever as we approach the expiration of the Bush tax cuts. Obama wants to extend the cuts for the middle class but allow the cuts on the top rate to expire, and it looks like the strategy is to provide two votes: the first to extend the cuts for everyone else, and a second to extend the cuts to the millionaires and billionaires. It's a wise approach - because we all know what will happen in a fair vote: The first would pass, and the second would fail. but we'll see what sort of GOP silly season tactics will come forward to try and block this approach.

Where is the evidence that supply-side economics has been good for the long term health of our economy? I understand short term gains for the wealthy. Supply side has certainly been a boon for the wealthy, and maybe for some of the rest of us during the dot-com and resulting echo subprime mortgage fueled bubble economies...and lets not forget deregulation of the energy industry and what it did for Enron for a time. What ended up happening? Regular people got screwed but a few rich folks made a lot of money, both on the way up, and on the way down. As the BP spill investigation begins to bear fruit, we'll begin to see kernels of the truth (in some news outlets), as it relates to privatization and deregulation aka watering down public oversight.

And then there is last night's PG&E gas main explosion in San Bruno. It's hard to withhold judgment of PG&E when you look at their track record of obstruction of public accountability...PG&E should be a public utility, not a private, for-profit enterprise if for no other reason than short term profit providing incentive to cut corners on what should be routine maintenance.

The blast, as experts have already pointed out, was probably caused by one of two things: Construction in the area where someone broke the pipe or...more likely based on stories we're hearing so far: corrosion. Reports are coming out already that indicate people complained of gas smells to PG&E at least three weeks ago, but were given the runaround.

Look, this is just common sense. Contrary to the belief that "government is the problem" in all cases, in an enterprise such as a utility company which provides a public service...that enterprise should have public (aka Democratic) oversight, not by a group of shareholders whose interest is how big the bottom line is only.

Sure, it can be argued that, in a vacuum, if an accident such as the one last night occurs, PG&E loses its value and therefore have an incentive to maintain their pipes and infrastructure. But common sense dictates that complacency will eventually set in, corners will be cut, and also points out what should be obvious:

When lives can be lost in such a tragedy as we've seen last night, what is the value of privatization of a public utility? What is the value of no accountability to the people the private utility serves, especially if that utility is a monopoly and the people have no energy alternative...and even if they did, what would it matter since this blast wiped out an entire neighborhood?!

In the coming months I'll be bringing out excerpts of an old book I'll be dusting off from a former Professor called "Pragmatic Liberalism." Then, as now, I am drawn to the idea of practical political reason which dictates that certain enterprises need to have a different system or economic model.

What I'm getting at boils down to this:

Supply side economics is not an appropriate model for a public enterprise where lives could potentially be at stake. The last part of that sentence is somewhat open to interpretation, but I can think of three enterprises where privatization/profit motive/corporate structure is vastly inappropriate at best.

1. Health Care
2. Public Utilities (Spec. Gas/Electricity/Water)
3. Education (Public availability should not be gutted in favor of private/optional education)

In each of these instances, pure profit motive and bottom-line driven enterprises eventually develop an incentive to cut corners on the quality of the service they are supposed to provide and, unlike regular commerce (pick your widget here) people can't just "take their business elsewhere" to solve the problem.

1. Health Care: May have pre-existing condition
2. Utility: Monopoly, if there is competition, what does it matter it the pipe for the negligent company that runs through the same neighborhood is the one that blows up
3. Education: not everyone can afford private tuition for their 7th grader and vouchers would be underfunded by the Repubs who support it since their aversion to any kind of tax would provide disincentive.

I'll have more concrete thoughts on this and other subjects soon but I will tell you what the alternative to the supply-side (aka Hobbesian version of Capitalism) is not: Marxism. I rather suspect it will be a lot closer to Adam Smith's original vision, but I reserve the right to change my mind as I re-explore Pragmatic Liberalism.

I'll end with one final thought, which is really a modern day example of the Hobbesian State of Nature that lead to the (seemingly novel, to some) concept of a Social Contract in the first place:

The Modoc County Story. I'll start with this link.

Tell me this shouldn't be front page news instead of the Hale/Bopp freak down in Florida?!

Monday, August 16, 2010

This year's community walk for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is approaching, fast. K & I are starting off with a modest goal of $100, since we've tapped friends and family for years. I'm also trying to tap into my place of employment, to see if they'll hop aboard.

It's been almost five years now since my good friend Jon Thompson passed away, and fourteen since K's brother Ryan also took his own life. As much as we would like to have some of our questions answered, the pain never really goes away, and we soldier on.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Gigging with Abbey and Eli this evening at the Bottom of the Hill, a little horn blowin'. Must. Pace. Self.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

I have decided to institute a series of "Web Free" Fridays, the frequency of which will be determined. I'll have more on the subject and the reasons behind this soon, but yesterday was the first and it was a success. Web Free Friday simply means no use of computer, internet or mobile web devices for the day. I found myself reaching for the Blackberry to check email from time to time and reminding myself not to do it, otherwise, I didn't have too much trouble.

I'm going to take Fridays off from time to time and institute this, spending time either with family, a good book, or volunteering in the community. In fact, yesterday morning I saw volunteers here in the Dimond picking up litter and I know La Farine sponsors these events by providing free baked goods for those who volunteer. This may be a start.

I'll provide a hint as to one of the reasons now: In an age of instantaneous communication, I think it's a good idea for all of us to take a day, from time to time, to step back from the information grid. And there is the lesson to "think before you post," but I'll save elaboration on that comment for

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Oh right, the third thing: My love for Oakland notwithstanding, the imminent Mehserle verdict + 4th of July = Armed and dangerous. We'll be getting out of Dodge.
Today was the last day of "freedom" for casual carpool. Starting tomorrow they're charging $2.50 for carpoolers (and $6 for everyone else during peak hours) on the Bay Bridge. I'd made my opinions known about the skewed logic in charging carpoolers when one of the cited reasons by the Bay Area Toll Authority is to make up for lost revenue due to decreased ridership (original post here). But now that the inevitable is happening tomorrow, how do we move forward? It will likely be awkward at best, I sincerely hope the BATA move doesn't kill casual carpool. Judging by the lively debate, it is a good possibility that there won't be consensus on this, at least at first.

My path forward is this: As a driver, I do not plan on out right asking for a buck, but will accept if riders offer. As a rider, I'll offer a buck, but not $1.25. If the driver makes a stink, I'll wait for the next car.

Thanks to a last minute offer, I'm going to see the Giants beat L.A. today. And I've decided to whip out the old Giants cap. For those of you who know me, when I decided to come back to baseball in earnest in 2002, I decided I would be an A's fan because I love Oakland and the Green/Gold colors as a long time Packer fan. The Brewers had left the AL so all the old rivalries I knew as a kid were gone anyway, and baseball lost me after the 1994 strike. But in 2000, none of this had been decided. However, I was working at Dennis McQuaid's law firm at the time and they had an extra ticket for the initial walk through of Pac Bell Park before it opened for the season in earnest that year. It was cool to tour the stadium and have a beer (or two). So I bought a Giants cap. I only bring it out for special occasions. In this case it's because they're playing L.A. and I will not remain neutral in that contest. There is another reason I keep this cap, and let this be a warning to Lew Wolff: I will bolt if you move to San Jose. Keep the A's in Oakland! Maybe my threat is counter-intuitive, but it's my threat and I can do what I want. Or maybe I'll be a fair-weather Brew Crew fan. Still love listening to Ueck calling the games, but my heart is in Oakland now.

What was the third thing I was going to talk about? Ah, I forget.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Downloaded "High Violet" by the National and "Veckatimest" by Grizzly Bear this past week. These are the biggest of the indies I can think of at the moment. One proggy, the other somewhat anthemic and 4ADish, almost gothlike. I'll leave you to guess which one is which.

K's dad and stepmom arrive today after a cross country drive, so the house will be packed for the next week and a half or so. I have 3/5ths of next week off and the remaining two days in the home office. I hope the bike tire patch I put onto the Aerobed holds (for us). Things will be a little crowded in the household.

Prop 16 went down last night, thankfully. How can this state allow for 1/3rds of registered voters, essentially, to pass a law requiring a 2/3rds majority in a municipality to decide if they want to break up PG&E's monopoly? Thankfully, it didn't work out for them. I've said it once and I'll say it again: We need to kick the proposition system to the curb, kill term limits and supermajority requirements in this state or we'll be having the same conversation about how dysfunctional its government is election after election for years and years to come.

Walking into the office after lunch I was attacked by a bird Hitchcock style. And once inside all I heard is crickets. Zzzzzzzzzzzz.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Just say no to rednecks. I'm reminded of that in the whole Arizona brouhaha. I love it how some people from my home town (and some in my family) get all aroused over "illegals" in this country. You know, the ones who take all the good jobs like picking lettuce in the hot sun all day for sub-minimum wage. And some have relocated to places like, oh, Mesa, Arizona, talking about how people who don't live near the border can have a truckload of "illegals" sent to their neighborhood and see how they like it. Because, you know, they require YOU to speak Spanish etc. blah blah blah. Mesa, Arizona...nice English word, eh?


Thanks to facebook sometimes you get exposed to the realities of who people you once knew as a child really are. And some of them seem to embrace their ignorance, as if it were a badge.

All right, let's go back in time to, oh, California in 1848. As anyone who can fucking google "California," at that time California was part of Mexico. Do you think all of those hillbilly motherfuckers looking for a quick buck who started squatting and making claims to land that wasn't theirs obeyed and respected the law of the land at that time? Oh, right, Polk just started a war to solve that one.

Point is, like those who get on their high horse about "family values" and heaven and hell but have cheated on their wives or worse, chances are the people who bark the loudest about illegal immigration are the same motherfuckers who get pissed off about having to pay too much for a fucking head of lettuce.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Trouble in Dumbfuckistan? Seriously, I read TPM daily and have been watching the Haley story unfold with some bemusement. I rather agree with Eric Kleefeld's post last week. It seems she does have the makings of a national politician. There's only one problem: her party is infested with racist, middle-aged teabaggers.

Meanwhile, some may wonder why I'm not doing much music these days? In addition to having two kids (1 2 yr. old, 1 5 mo. old) I have a running list of things to do this summer for the household. In no particular order, they are:

1. Build shelves for pantry in kitchen
2. Go under house, assess debris cleanup and what we're up against for seizmic retrofit, block whatever entrance our cat found to get under there and start clawing at our heating ducts (meaning: what other critters could get there)
3. Roll insulation in attic, put plywood down, mark where new electrical lines are, then use for storage, put in attic fan to vent and cool house
4. Post holes for shade tarp in back yard, put up shade tarp when it arrives
5. WTF to do with that craggy-assed strip of bad debris/crabgrass in backyard to make it more like a yard without having to waste water on it every day?
6. Bring down ugly siding on front facade of house to the chimney on the W. side.
7. Replace rotted wood in window for bedroom so it no longer leaks next year (and I don't have to say "fuckt it," throw up my hands, and put up plastic sheeting for another rainy season. Then address two more for back addition.
8. Patch ceiling hole in Livie's room (put in to feed new electrical lines for ceiling fan).
9. More weeding in back yard, put down wood chips for flower/plant area on W. Side by Pedro's garage.
10. Replace ugly brass strip where old brass/mirror closet sliding door used to be in Livie's room
11. Plug box where backyard light was removed to prevent further water entry (overcome fear of heights beyond step 9 on ladder, esp with adjusters for slope, or go to roof and peek over side to see if I can reach from above?)
12. Trim back avocado tree on Pedro's side of house

That ought to cover, oh, the rest of the year and beyond at my pace!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Long weekend approaches, currently suffering from "presenteeism" at work, I think I'm one of three people on this side of the wall at the office. I found a really great set of recordings on Global Groove, slowed down versions of the Robert Johnson recordings, and am taking the liberty today to play through a song-by-song playlist of the classic v. slowed down versions. So far the difference is about a 1/2 step, or 100 cents. Maybe a little less...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

All the chatter aside about this week's early primary elections, it looks to me like the right's divided between GOP and Teabaggers, and I don't see a similar rift between the Dems and the Progressive caucus. Are Progressives entirely happy with Obama's centrist pragmatic approach? Well, no. But we have the 2000 election and 8 years of Bush to remind us that it's probably best to remain unified and work for change from within that framework. Ross Perot is the GOP's most recent lesson in this regard. And compared with today's teabaggers, Ross looks like a sane person from this vantage point. Will the Dems lose seats in both the House and Senate this fall? Likely. Will it be outside the usual first midterm norm? Probably not much. It's not looking like a realignment election to me.

Friday, April 30, 2010

This blog be gettin' moldy, aye? HCR passed, Financial Reform passed GOP "filibust out of these jeans," too. Jason showed up to surprise me for my 40th birthday. Brenna's sitting up, smiling, cooing. We've passed the year mark in our house, got the $8000 tax credit, all's stabilized on the work front, but Livie's troublemaker twos. That about sums it up.

On the subject of turning 40, I don't feel a thing. My "freakout" years were 27 and 35. I suspect 27 because of all the rockers who died at 27 (Cobain, Morrison, Hendrix, Joplin, too, right? Even that Buckley kid...too lazy to look that up). 35 for God knows why. Post Beulah blahs, maybe? Never say never, but I doubt any crises from here are gonna be of the midlife variety, if anything it will probably be an external event of some kind, not me wallowing in my own sorrow about growing old. As my peers (and some younger than me, up to 10 years in fact) start showing their grays or start shaving that shit off, I have, like, two above my left ear. Getting a little light in the front/top, and I've gotta watch those glucose levels, but I'm happy to report I had a physical and all the pipes seem to be working. Even my blood pressure, which had been a "scare" was corrected by my doctor taking it the old fashioned way (as opposed to those machines). So...the machine said 139/85, but then the Doc took it and it was 117/72? Who am I to argue? I'm gonna go with the doc's reading, that's who.

For some reason I decided that my birthday wish was to have a bunch of people over for a BBQ and I'd be at the grill with a beer in my hand. Little did I know we'd be preparing food for 50+! Poor K, she's up to her armpits in work preparing for this thing as I write this from the comfort of my desk, responding to customer issues via email on the other monitor in between keystrokes here. I did manage to do two loads of laundry, water the flowers, do the dishes and get my car ready to pick up some rental chairs...all before 7:30, so that accounts for something, right?

Still, the smalltown world at large continues its Foxification and I'm dreading the inevitable political arguments to come with certain family members this summer when we go to WI. I promise to keep my mouth shut, I keep telling myself. But then it happens. Someone either gets drunk (usually me), someone else runs his mouth off in a willfully ignorant way (usually my brother or maybe an uncle), and even if I make a succinct rebuttal the floodgates open. Hopefully not this year. The sky has not, in fact, fallen, despite the best efforts of the previous administration and their cronies to take all they can, while they could, hoping the timing of the inevitable crash would be beyond their watch. Anyway, if you're taking Social Security, Medicare or FEMA money, you have an obligation to shut the fuck up about your anti-government claptrap. So to those who can't understand the irony or are unwilling to fess up to it, I'll get my "fuck offs" off my chest now. Did I mention fuck off?


Did a recording just before Brenna was born with the old Beulahs (see here), and then showed up for Miles' BOTH gig earlier this month to play some horn and some ad hoc, semi-stupored (in my case) encores of the old Beulah songs. Both were a blast. Sometimes I really do miss playing, but not the gear-lugging, late night practicing, job-hopping, family missing grind of it. Those days are behind. Give me an outlet every once in a while and I'm fine. The world is full of fine, talented players. Less is more from yours truly.

Ah, I think that about covers it. Stream of consciousness rant complete.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

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

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

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

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

Monday, February 22, 2010

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

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

Sunday, February 21, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

But who?

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

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

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

Friday, February 19, 2010

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

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

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

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mount Vernon Statement, gobbledygook.

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

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

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

Ok, more logical disconnect.

First, let's start with the opener:

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, February 12, 2010

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

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

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

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

Thursday, February 11, 2010

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Thoughts on the word “retarded”

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

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

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

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

By this new definition some thoughts:

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

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I don't know if it's possible for me to get through a day without looking at a news or political site, but if it were, today would be that day. It looks like the pitchforks are out, and I'm reminded that, while the two party pendulum swing is as American as apple pie, I don't think the 21st century is going to be an American century because of it. Then again, it appears the patterns beginning with the previous turn of the century are still about the same. There was a Gilded (aka Robber Baron) age in the late 19th Century, then things took a turn in the early 20th (labor unrest, and many thanks to Upton Sinclair) which led to T.R. and Progressivism. In the midst of that was a Panic. What next? Another Great War?

Kidding aside, I am amazed that, with all of the information at our fingertips now (took me 3 seconds to look up the Panic of 1907), how short our collective memory has become. At least, for those who control the mainstream media outlets. It seems the narrative wins over all, regardless whether or not there are inconvenient facts that would render the narrative less compelling. Scott Brown the people's candidate? Puh-leeze. Next they'll be saying Tom Delay was, in fact, a true American hero and Enron an American success story.

Monday, January 18, 2010

First day back at the office since the holiday shutdown and my two weeks of paternity leave (I call it that, though technically it's regular accrued time off), and it's quite a soft landing, being that today is MLK day and everyone else is off. I spent the first hour catching up on emails, but mostly I just went around the office wishing everyone a happy new year, and thanking them for the well wishes upon Brenna's arrival on January 3rd. Brenna is a healthy eater, doing well so far. Things seem easier this time around. Livie's been a good big sister so far, though I think there's a subconscious thing going on with her that's coming out in the form of challenging boundaries, and feeding off of any negativity from our displeasure over said boundary challenges. These things will iron out as long as we remain calm, kind and nurturing. I've tried to focus on that, and so has K. We haven't exactly succeeded 100% but it's a process.

On the political front, 2010 begins with the pendulum seemingly swinging back in the other direction, an emboldened GOP and some of the rowdy know nothings who came out in the McCain Palin rallies peddling ignorance seemingly resurgent. We shall see, but all indicators point to a GOP pickup in the Mass. special election for Ted Kennedy's seat. It seems to be the law of things (revolution, counter-revolution) - and this country deserves what it will get - second rate status in the 21st Century, if we can't get sensible health care reform passed. The bill ain't perfect, but we will not be able to compete in the global economy in the long run unless we catch up to the other industrialized nations of the world when it comes to things like universal health care. We live in too complex a society and world to "go back to simpler times." But I'm using the language of the know nothings like Glenn Beck and others when I paraphrase such things.

In sports, I have a sinking feeling that the old man (#4) is gonna get his ring this year, and next, and then retire and go into the Hall as a Viking. As a Packer fan who came of age during the gory years, I cannot help to be a pessimist when it comes to the subject of sports. I can't hold a candle to Cubs fans, but you get the idea. GO SAINTS!

I have no resolutions this year, except maybe to try and get more income than the last. We shall see if and/or how that comes to pass.

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...