Watched the president brief the country on the debt talks this evening, then watched the speaker's "rebuttal."
Man what a disgusting, childish, disappointing and disheartening bout of playground name-calling. If the goal here was to further alienate the American people, to perhaps convince those remaining few optimists that the system really is broken, to appear petty and stubborn and pouty - mission accomplished. I both love and hate politics, but lately I've stopped caring because it's just a joke. If you weren't convinced yet that US politics has entered the era of reality TV, you likely are after tonight. Puerile, simply shameful - embarrassing on a global scale.
In the space where you are now reading this sentence I have typed, then deleted, three separate paragraphs. Most were about music, or about how I'm sitting here with the windows open at night waiting for my 10pm meeting to start, or about something silly that happened at work today - but all of them were boring.
8ish on Monday night. Got a lot done today.
All the Halloween decorations came down over lunch. They're still piled in the garage and need to be put away for the year, but at least the house wasn't out of theme for more than a day. Came home, ate dinner, cleaned up the dishes, gave Cohen a much-needed bath, and spent a good undistracted hour with the voter's guide studying for my early-morning trip to the polls tomorrow.
Glad I did, because I vary decently from my party's line in some places. Those voter guides man... it's like reading a transcript from a highschool debate. These people can't be more persuasive? They write like they're trying to convince teenagers and simpletons. I resorted to reading the text of the propositions and making my own call, at least they show you what current law will be null and void and give you the new language...
Today I shaved some very noticeable hair off my earlobe. Really. I have no idea when my earlobe got hair, but once I saw it in the sunshade mirror on the way to work this morning there was no unseeing it. It's obviously been there, it didn't wholly sprout overnight. And even though it wasn't anything dark or stringy like facial hair, it was fuzzy and clearly visible. No one wanted to tell me I had ear hair? This business of getting old is for the birds. I still remember the first day I shaved my face and on that day I'd have never pictured myself holding my beard trimmer to the inside of my ear. "And when I die... I expect to find him laughing."
I obviously have nothing to write. Things have been busy. Maybe with more time to think. Goodnight.
If someone steals something from you, but you neither notice the theft nor miss the pilfered item in any way, does it matter?
Let’s say I have an apple tree in my yard. I take good care of it; tend to it well with regular water and careful pruning and fertilization. In return for my investment of time and effort, the tree is prolific and my family is blessed with more apples than we alone can enjoy. We make pies, cider, juice, sauce, and eat them with our meals and we thank God every day for that apple tree. We even give away our excess apples to friends, families, and the local food bank we know and trust. By doing this we feel good about ourselves as minor philanthropists and get to see the recipients of our bounty enjoy it as much as we.
Now let’s pretend that every single day, as a certain neighborhood kid makes his walk home from school, he picks an apple as he passes by. Most days he does this because he’s hungry, but some days he simply picks the apple and throws it into the street for a lark (sounds like a certain teenager I used to be). For the sake of this illustration let’s say I have no idea this is happening. As this is a daily activity, the percentage of fruit denied us is not numerically insignificant, yet compared to what we’re not deprived of it is effectively statistically so.
What am I deprived of by not having these apples? I’m hard pressed to quantify that.
Perhaps you’d say I’m deprived full “control” over the harvest. In other words, were I to control the destiny of each apple I could distribute them how I saw fit, and the quantity that my unknown benefactor so rudely chooses to waste could instead be spared and put to a more noble use. I suppose this would be true, and that this lack of “control” over the literal fruits of one’s labor might feel a true deprival to some. Perhaps, if you tend towards a cynic, you might formulate an extension to this and say I’m further deprived the altruistic “glory” and warm feelings I could be receiving were I personally providing those very apples to others.
For as far as I’m concerned, however, the “loss” isn’t hard to swallow at all. In fact, even were a kind neighbor to inform me of the secreted apples and their sometimes sorry fate I’m not sure I’d enact any preventative measures. What am I losing? How does the loss impact me?
Let’s take this one step more and complete the allegory: We’ll now pretend that the homeowners association in my neighborhood has heard about the hunger of our mostly well-behaved fruit-pilfering teenagers and has decreed that residents must leave a percentage of their apples un-harvested to maintain the custom. To say it another way, I am now compelled to give up the fruit which I was already giving up.
Does that knowledge make my “loss” any more real? Any more impactful to me? Maybe it makes it a little harder to swallow, as things deigned to be often are for humankind, but does it fundamentally change my family's situation?
Disclaimer: Please no questions around how this dynamic may change in thin-harvest years; no thoughts on eventual teenage fruit-dependency; no worry over teenagers becoming fruit-entitled; and no comments about canning the lost fruit for years when we're too old to tend to the tree.
The picture accompanying this blog is one I took on our last visit to Florida.
I took it during a boating trip, at a remote spot on the river where people like to beach their craft and hang out and party. White people, apparently. I've been waiting for a "good" time to share it without being condescending to a whole statefull of people. I think this blog works...
I’ve tried to stay away from politics on the blog lately… but there is so much going on in America nowadays it’s sometimes hard to. I could talk about the Tea Party primary wins, I could talk about the stimulus and the Bush tax cuts, I could talk about Rove’s status as the GOP’s fallen angel. Yeah, each of these things would be fun to write about, but none of them motivate me as much as the cover story from the latest issue of Forbes magazine. For a story like this, the desire to write about politics is too strong to stifle.
Entitled How Obama Thinks, the article makes the case that Obama's style of governing, and more specifically his anti-business stances, are owed to his "roots" in Africa. In fact, the author thinks Obama may be ruling the United States "... according to the dreams of a [Kenyan] tribesman of the 1950s." No, really. There are pages upon pages where this guy is basically saying, in nice 50¢ words, that Obama's bloodline-connection to his bushman past means the "African in him" is driving his current policy. The article is so ridiculous and so borderline insane I'm almost surprised the author didn't wonder aloud how our president manages to not throw his own poo.
Newt Gingrich says that D'Souza has made the "most profound insight I have read in the last six years about Barack Obama." He goes on to ask, "What if [Obama] is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together [his actions]?," and closes with, "That is the most accurate, predictive model for his behavior." The most accurate and predictable model for his behavior? Wow.
And now we're asked to wonder, could Obama be somehow less "American" than the rest of us? Might he be subconsciously limited by the shortcomings of the "dusky race" from which he originates? I mean why not just come out and say what you think here: He's a spearchucker; a jigaboo; an unpredictable wild animal who's ancestral connections to And the Gods Must Be Crazy caricatures are to be mistrusted at best. At worst, we may have to mobilize the mob and lynch the poor guy so his monkey-urges don't continue to take us to hell in a handbasket.
Robert Parry might be right, parts of America certainly seem to be decoupling from reality. Here is blatant racism masquerading as "thoughtful" political analysis, and many of the most influential folks on the right seem to be embracing it as fact. But it's not fact, it's not "colonialism," it's straight-up "I don't like black people, and besides I'm scared of them" racism. It's racism.
Back to hibernation... (or maybe DC...)
I've heard it said that there are three things which, in life, you should never want to see being made: 1) sausage, 2) hot dogs, and 3) laws.
I verified this yesterday by actually watching the House wrestle with this health care legislation. Only, I watched on C-SPAN. Minus all the commentary you get from the cable news outlets things become very procedural. After watching the way these "adults" act, I can only imagine Mr. Robert rolling over in his grave. Most people know that I'm one of those odd-duck, oil-and-water, socially-liberal, emerging church religious persons, so it won't come as much of a surprise that I'm happy with the way the vote went yesterday. And since I don't want to mire us down here with politics, let's move onto something a little cooler...
Lately I've been pretty enamored with a couple albums, my second favorite of which is a freshman effort called Gorilla Manor by Californians The Local Natives. There is a brilliant track on the record called "Airplanes." Not only is it musically chill-inducing but the lyrics are poignant and relevant to what's been going on lately for me. The singer sings the song (I love that that's a grammatically correct sentence intro) to his grandfather, who has passed away, and it's basically a statement of loss and anticipation towards one day meeting again "in the sky." You lose the studio version's strings in this live performance, but what you gain in rawness is more than an even trade in for passion and power.
Man, the tiny imperfections present in live-performed harmonies are always super endearing to me... Anyway I predict at least some part of this song will be on a commercial by year's end. Seems to be a safe bet based on what's gone down with standout tracks from word-of-mouth "indie" records of late (I'm looking at you Grizzly Bear).
And that's all the writing I've a mind for this afternoon. Sharaun's got another one of her pregnancy migraines and is laid-up in the bedroom so I'm on Keaton-entertainment duty. Today we planted garlic, pruned the grapes down to the strongest vines, and trimmed the old growth off Pat's hops to make room for all the new green that's starting to show. We also spent some time hand-watering the planters because Keaton loves doing it (the drip system is cool, but nothing beats hand-watering with your girl).
Well guys, it's Tuesday night and I've been writing all day long. From early morning until five o'clock I hovered over the keyboard banging keys to create reviews of my employees. And then, fingers still stiff and sore from that - I went on a blog tirade. So then, it's a longwinded political rant today, and I'm not going to do as much pre-defense and positioning as I typically do (mostly because it's all embedded in the glut of it all). I'll return to regular blogging as soon as possible.
One of my favorite daily (when I can) reads are the all-out crazy forums over at the neo-conservative haven that is Free Republic. "Freepers," as they are called, have a simply laid out forum where they can post stories and comment back... and the prevailing topics of conversation could be said to lend insight into what the larger GOP "base" is talking about. Of course, there are nuts everywhere on the internet (and in the real world, for that matter) - both on the left and right and even in the non-committal center. But man, the Freepers can really do some good crazy... like Hannity crazy. Oh wait... you don't think Hannity is crazy?... oh boy you're gonna love this then...
I mean, some of the threads there are just beautiful. Here, check some of this cerebral stuff:
Took the words right out of my mouth!! I am a member of Team Sarah and we are doing everything possible to assist Sarah in anyway necessary to get her the nomination in 2012. She will wipe the floor with Obama, please, Obama is crapping his pants now thinking of it. He doesn’t want to be in the same room with Sarah Palin, if they do debate, I hope he is wearing dark pants
From Dissing Palin
Couldn't they put the koran in the bathroom? That's where my copy is, at least what's left of it.
Shouldn’t it be on the floor where islamderthals can walk on it?
Foolish people, Lord, worship a man rather than You. The thing created ignores its Creator and worships a fellow creation. What a crazy world we live in these days, and getting crazier by the moment.
Heavenly Father, we come to You today amazed that almost one month into the Obama Presidency that there is never a lack of things to pray for. I wish his first month would have been less eventful, but as I feared, he has moved swiftly in his destruction of all that we hold near and dear. Still, we are not destroyed entirely and so there is hope. There may be scars we may pay for for years, but if You were to intervene, this nation could still be saved. Whether or not it is in Your plan to intervene in this case is not something that You have revealed to me. Still, I believe it pleases You when we recognize You for who You are. You are the great Almighty God, and nothing is too difficult for You. Men's hearts are as putty in Your hands. And Obama's heart is not beyond Your grasp. Is he meant for judgment or amazement? I really don't know. But so that we may have peaceful lives in this nation, I pray for his soul that the world may be amazed at the change You bring in his life.
Radical Islam is an insane murder cult.
Moderate Islam is its Trojan Horse in the West.
From Islamic subversion alleged by speaker, where we learn the secret-Mulsims are silently implementing Islamic law in the USA
In a brainwashing project that ought to tug on liberal heartstrings, schoolchildren have been encouraged to address prayers to Chairman Zero. A touching example:
I would appreciate it if you would try to make this a greener planet and try to bring home the troops and end the war. I am very luckey because I am not part of a military family, but it saddens me to hear about all the people who die in Iraque and know that somewhere In the world people are greiving over a lost family member.
It looks like our public schools are succeeding in their mission of cranking out a new generation of Democrats.
Sorry to over-represent the religious aspect, but those tend to be some of the "better" threads. And now that I've poked a little fun (to be fair, there are some level-headed folks on there too), I feel like I can use the open-door to talk about my current theory around the neo-conservative movement in the US.
For my purposes here, I want to lump a bunch of folks into one category - that may seem unfair, but I want to apply some thinking to the group as a whole, and I'm trying to make the point that, although modern conservatives have a varied and diverse taxonomy, some things can be said of them as a group.
Now, who am I talking about here? Those referred to as neo-conservative and the Christian or religious right, that's who. It's my belief that these groups are killing the Republican party, and that if their philosophies are not decoupled from its basic dogma the GOP will not win a general election again in this increasingly moderate USA.
Hey look, I realize the GOP's "problem" has been looked at and analyzed (not to mention denied in its very existence) by folks with a heck of a lot more degrees than I have, and I'll be the first to say my thoughts here aren't entirely my own. I've read several political pundits variations on this same thing, so I'm at best doing an ineloquent rewrite here of an already prominent school of thought. But, that's what the internet is all about right? I also realize things aren't near as simple as an "extreme" right becoming an increasingly alienated minority in an ever-more progressive nation - but that's a reality and it's where I've chosen to write. With those disclaimers in place, I'll plow along.
Part of the GOP's problem right now, as I see it, is that they've completely lost "country focus." That is, their "base" has become a group that is fighting stupid battles, and as such their platform and policy have drifted away from things which are centered on the welfare of the nation and has instead been laser focused on several extremely divisive wedge issues. I'll go even further, and say that this "base" has become xenophobic, fear-controlled, overly militaristic, ritualistically distrustful, and even strangely proud of their cloistered ignorance.
Oh boy, there it goes... now I've got some folks mad I'm sure. If the party continues to court this group as their "base," I believe they are doomed to spiral into obscurity.
What seems at-odds to me, however, is that I don't really believe these types are the true GOP "base." In fact, I think the GOP's got it wrong... and that there is a large group of traditionalist conservatives and right-leaning moderates who are being alienated by the party's pandering to these more "extreme" factions.
The "base" doesn't have to be the folks who are afraid of people with brown skin, doesn't have to be the people who think Islam = terrorism, doesn't have to be those who would remove evolution from curriculum and prize profit-generation over sustainability. Oh look, now I've opened myself up to arguments that I'm pigeonholing and stereotyping conservatives. Just bear with me and accept that I'm talking about just those folks who believe those things, and am not trying to apply those qualities to all conservatives.
The point here is that there's a whole other "base" the GOP can court and develop. It's those folks who want a fiscally conservative government, a less involved government, to keep their guns, to be governed by guiding principles set forth in the Constitution. And no, I'm not speaking strictly about Libertarians or Madisonians or whatever you choose to call those folks who want to return to the embryonic and idealized government in place during the days immediately following the Philadelphia Convention, though parts of their ilk would certainly fall in here (well, but for the conspiracy nuts... looking at you Truthers and Federal Reserve haters and Moon-landing doubters). But, it's this base... which is undeniably a more "moderate" base, that I think could do the GOP right in coming elections.
As a party that would have any designs on acquiring office again, I fully believe the GOP will have to make concessions which will completely alienate a percentage of the current "base." Unfortunately, in a strictly two-party system this might be suicide, and is likely why it hasn't yet been done. I'm sure Republican political strategists who are multiple whole-brains more intelligent than I have mulled this, it's a certainty. And, if they're anything like me, they may have realized that there may be a solution that's neither black nor white - yet something in between. That is, I believe you can successfully court this more moderate conservative "base" and at the same time alienate as few "extremists" as possible. Sure you're gonna lose some, the most hard-core... but I'd argue those are the thinkers you need most to lose as they hold the most party-damaging ideology.
If you can convince Christians that they are free to hold their views and those views will continue to be respected by government, but that they simply have no place being legislated - you stand to minimize losses from their corner. If you can convince neocons that a military strategy of homeland-security coupled with a well-educated technologically-advanced population is a better than one of Manifest Destiny, world-police, or Imperialist expansionism - you stand to minimize losses from their corner. Once you've successfully stratified those groups into the somewhat open-minded and the absolutely close-minded, you can begin to rebuild your new "base."
Those hardline conservatives who simply cannot deal with these concessions will be out of luck, and can perhaps have a go at creating a viable third party. I guess I'm not really sure how huge this group is, and, as I said above, perhaps they are too large to be cast out and still leave enough "moderate" folks for a viable party. Perhaps this is the GOP's quandary: they have to court today's "base" because without them they are nothing. All the more reason for an image makeover, says I. What the party needs is its thinking conservatives back... those who align with conservative social policy, fiscal policy, foreign policy, energy policy, etc. - but who are not driven by phobia, racism, and rank biggest-dick Nationalism.
The bottom line is that, unless Republicans can change the knee-jerk classification of their rally-cry from: "Dollars before humanity. Because the Bible said so. Dollars before environment. Kneel to Christ or pay the price!," they are doomed.
Republicans can be environmentally conscious. Republicans can be proponents of social justice. Republicans can support free-market capitalism without turning a blind eye to greed and corruption. Republicans can share an airplane with a Muslim; a cab with a Sikh. Republicans can have a less binary understanding of "good" and "evil," and might enjoy a vacation someday to Iran. They can be all this and more, it's in their existing and potential constituency right now, I promise.
So here's where you yell something like, "So you want to turn the USA into a Godless carbon-copy of handout-happy Europe?!" No; whatever; actually that's a stupid thing to say, idiot. I want the USA to be a place where my children can live freely, stand to prosper with hard work, and are for the most part safe. And, being a Democrat myself... I don't want to see the Republicans die. Just like Home Depot needs Lowes and McDonalds needs Burger King (although a bit more important than just healthy competition). As a Democrat, I rely on the GOP to check my party's stupid spending diarrhea, pipedream socialism, and overly humanistic hippie "everything's cool with me" mentality.
So c'mon GOP, pull out of this tailspin. We're all waiting for the second coming of Buckley, for a new Reagan. Something. Get it together conservatives, get a party colonic and clear the old clinging crap out of your pipes. You'll feel better for it, and it'll give you new life.
But, since you're this far... I'll do a bit of epilogue here, I think.
Reading this, you may be tempted to think I'm over-indicting religion or religious folks. I'm not; I promise. Religion certainly plays a role here, but it's not the problem. Part of the problem is that the Right wants to legislate morality - and this simply won't work. In fact, there are several books making their way through Christian circles right now that show the Bible speaks against pushing religion through government.
Unfortunately, the problem the GOP has is also the problem that American Christians have: That is, the two have been near inextricably tied. Christians are looked at as environment-hating, frightened warmongering Hawks who want to cram their belief systems down the collective throat of the populous; and the GOP is seen this way by association. Conversely, the GOP is seen in a similar light; and Christians the same by the reverse association. The connected stereotypes feed on each other, and do harm to both.
It seems both Christians and the GOP are suffering from the whole Kleenex vs. "tissue," Xerox vs. "copy" brand-image dilution problem. Both could benefit from a little distinction. Christians can be Christians, Republicans Republicans. Their ideologies may even overlap to a large extent - but they need to steer away from co-identification. Same deal with with the party and its neocon element...
What's interesting here (to me, at least) is that I identify as religious, as "Christian"... I believe in a lot of the principles and theology (to tell you exactly what super/sub-set would take forever, and I'm not entirely sure myself yet). Thing is, I know plenty of church-going folks who feel as I've written here, that the "religious right" is tanking the Republican party, and are pushing for disengagement from the business of politics. I hope that line of thought gets wings. Bottom line, even though it's easy for my more agnostic/atheistic friends like to immediately paint God-phyllic folks as feces-throwing cultural barbarians - nothing could be more untrue. Sure some of them are, but there are nuts in all walks.
So, wrapping up - let's get smarter people everywhere. On the left, on the right, in the middle, in the pulpit, in the classrooms, in the boardrooms... everywhere. Let's bring rational thought back to politics, let's bring intelligent discourse, respectful debate, accountability.
Now, how we gonna do that?
No time to proofread, typos surely abound. Goodnight.
Hi online friends.
A little after 10pm and I'm just back from the gym. Yeah, I'm still going.
The sawmill is playing Obama's inauguration on the big screens tomorrow down in the cafe, and I'm gonna go truant on my meetings to sit and watch with a fresh cup of coffee and a banana. My Mom said her work is showing the event too, and I know some government-related workers who are totally shut-down for the event. And, while I think the news is overdoing the hype more than just a little but, I am anticipating witnessing an somewhat momentous event. Kinda nice of the sawmills around the country to sponsor some time to watch it, yeah?
Oh, and for those who are curious - no, I don't work at an actual sawmill. Yes, I've been asked this before; it's understandable. I work at a big computer-type company, where I'm a manager of engineers. I'm supposed to be an engineer myself, but I'm rusty having been in "management" for the past several years. So yeah, I don't work at an actual sawmill... I just like to abstract my real employer from my personal blog a bit. Now you know.
Poor Keaton is sick. And, having now been through almost three years of come-and-go colds and bugs, we've learned a few things about how our little girl usually suffers. Here are my generalized observations (meaning more often than not, when she comes down with something, we'll see the following):
- If she has a fever, it will come on very quick and rise very high just as quickly. This girl gets fevers in a blink, and they almost always top out higher than you'd expect for just a little cold. For instance, right now she's just shivering on Mommy's chest trying to break a fever that peaked around 103° just twenty minutes ago. We can effectively keep these fevers down, cyclically, by dosing her with Motrin as often as the indications allow. But it's always an up and down thing.
- If she has a fever, she'll be wheezy and have a hacking cough. The doctor has told us she exhibits signs of "virus-induced asthma/wheezing." Apparently it's a childhood thing, though, and often dissipates with age. (What is it with my bloodline and strange temporary randomthing-induced maladies?) And, like my childhood asthma did me, I hope hers leaves her sooner rather than later.
- Her reaction to everything but the highest points of her fevers is to roll right on like nothing's wrong. We have to encourage her to take breaks and rest when she's sick, or she'd continue to run around and play as if nothing was wrong. What makes this sad is when she's really sacked-out by sickness (like today) and really only wants to be held. Poor thing.
We're keeping our eyes on her and keeping her quiet and full of fluids... and will seek Mr. Doctor should things continue. But, for now she's recovering solo at home with Sharaun, and we're both warding off the virus with index-finger crucifixes and necklaces fashioned from garlic bulbs. Wish us, all three, luck.