Monday, April 28, 2008

Clinton crosses a(nother) line

You all know what I think of John McCain and his disingenuous gas tax proposal. Well, now Hillary Clinton has decided to be both shortsighted and hypocritical, slamming Obama's opposition to McCain's proposal. Clinton is attempting to characterize Obama as unfeeling and unsympathetic to the American public, without noting her own opposition to the exact same legislation only 8 years ago.
I have refrained from caring about the Democratic Primary since my man Edwards dropped out, hoping against hope that neither candidate would stoop as low as any Republican would, thereby assuring our eventual victory in November. Clearly my hope has been misguided; both candidates have sought to disappoint me time after time. Obama seeks accommodation with the Republicans who want to destroy America, while Clinton wants "merely" to tarnish the front running Obama's image in an increasingly vain attempt to capture the nomination herself, apparently regardless of the cost to her integrity, our party, our country, and the world. By the time either of these people reach the general election, they will have ostracized so many factions of the populace that it will be hard to unite them in time to prevent the coronation of another Republican nightmare. Our greatest hope remains McCain's incompetence and truly mind-boggling episodes of mental deterioration--or is it merely convenient forgetfulness, as if that's better?--let alone his ceaseless pandering to the 30%ers still enamored of Smirky and the gang.
And that's sad.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

In Mississippi?!

While I pay attention to Congressional races all over the country, I usually don't blog about them, but this one portends ridiculously good news. In the race to replace MS Sen. Roger Wicker (who replaced Trent Lott on 12/31/07), the Democratic candidate is poised to take this House seat. That's right, in Mississippi, in a district that Smirky carried by 19 in 2000 and by 25 in 2004, Travis Childers (D), delivered a stunning blow to the Republican hopes for any chance in November. Even though Childers did not win the election outright--he only missed hitting the required 50%+ 1 by about 400 votes!--he did outpace both the Republican candidates combined, forcing a runoff to be held in a couple of weeks, which he could win just be reproducing these results. Not only that, but Childers was outspent 2-1 by the Republicans, who can ill afford any such expenditures, especially in a district as formerly "red" as this one.
Go Team!

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House hunting: Part 4 of apparently a lot less than a million

TBO and I are well on our way toward owning a house. Our offer was accepted, countered, and accepted again, the escrow deposit check has been cut and delivered, the papers will be signed and the house inspected on Friday, and the closing date has been set for May 9. Whew!
Now all we have to do is:
1) Write another huge check
2) Clean it up--there are dead leaves on the floor, even!
3) Turn on the electricity
4) Turn on the gas
5) Turn on the water
6) Move all our stuff in
7) Buy a stove; have it installed
8) Buy a fridge; have it installed
9) Buy a microwave; have it installed
10) Buy new kitchen sink; have it installed
11) Buy a shower head for one of the bathrooms; install it
12) Transfer our phone/cable/TiVo/internet services; set up wifi network
13) Tear down the outdoor washer/dryer enclosure
14) Build a new washer/dryer enclosure
15) Buy a washer; have it installed
16) Buy a dryer; have it installed
17) Tear down the horrible built-in entertainment "center" woodwork
18) Buy new carpeting for the 3 bedrooms; have it installed
19) Redo all the cabinetry in the kitchen
20) Tear out the horrible dropped ceiling acoustic tiling in the entertainment room
21) Tear out the horrible fake wood paneling in the entertainment room
22) Install new ceiling and walls in the entertainment room (probably)
23) Install new window treatments in whole house because they are godawful
24) Install new closet doors in whole house because half of them don't work
25) Install ladder to attic storage space (probably)
26) Buy lawnmower
27) Buy weedwhacker
28) Buy treetrimmer
29) Enjoy first home

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

FISA shenanigans

Steny Hoyer is getting under my skin again. The Congressman from my original home state of Maryland seems to be determined to destroy the good work done in the House on the FISA bill by "negotiating" with Senate Republicans in an effort to get something completed by Congress before the Memorial Day recess. As if anything needs to be done at all! Here's the letter I wrote to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi:

Dear Speaker Pelosi,
Please, please, please do not let Steny Hoyer undermine the great work you have done on the FISA fiasco. We do not "need" any action on this before we elect a President we can trust, if ever. Telecom immunity is a bad idea in general, bad for the Democratic Party, and bad for the country. It is obvious to those of us paying attention that the only reason the Republicans and President Bush are pushing so hard for this is that there is a mountain of evidence they are trying desperately to hide—evidence of malfeasance and evidence of illegal and unconstitutional behavior. There is absolutely no reason to give in on this point—to "cave" on it, as Minority Leader John Boehner so disgracefully put it. The House already passed a proper response to the weaknesses and challenges presented by the original FISA legislation; that other bodies and individuals didn't see fit to accord the bill you passed its proper respect is not your problem to solve! Thank you for your past actions on the new FISA bill, and let's see those actions through.
Citizen of the US

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Smirky's Army forces discharged vet to serve

Sounds familiar enough, except this is an honorably discharged and seriously wounded vet that is being ordered back into service! The disgust meter shouldn't have to take any more, should it?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

John McCain: Republican garbage

I know the media likes telling the story that John McCain is "a maverick" and "a moderate", but anyone with 1/2 a brain can see that this is utter bullshit. He has been just as much an enabler of Smirky's brand of Republicanism as anyone you can find way out on the right wing. The latest evidence? McCain is brilliantly pandering to the worst instincts of the electorate by proposing a "summer break" in gas taxes. In how many ways is this dishonest? Let's see:
1) The taxes on gasoline go directly to upkeep on our highways and other transportation infrastructure; eliminating them hastens the complete destruction of our network of roads and bridges (remember Minnesota's collapsing bridge?). Heck, the gas taxes aren't high enough to pay for what needs doing as it is! (And here's a start.) But it sure sounds like he cares about us, doesn't it?
2) The likelihood that the oil companies would actually pass on the tax savings to the consumer approaches zero--seriously, does anyone trust them to ever do the right thing for anyone other than their biggest stockholders? The tax on a gallon of gas is 18.4 cents--I'll eat all of my hats if we see a reduction larger than 10 cents, and I would be hugely surprised if we see any reduction at all. When's the last time you remember a change in gas prices at the pump having anything to do with the price of a barrel of oil? So this is really about increasing profitability for the oil companies and reducing the income of the federal government--win/win (if you're a complete right wing rich asshole, that is)!
3) McCain's proposal actively hurts the conservation/green movement by appearing as if high prices are the issue, not our addiction to oil in the first place. Of course, that's because the Republicans are getting absolutely killed on both environmental grounds and charges of being in the pockets of the oil companies.
4) By making this kind of wholly disingenuous proposal, McCain demonstrates that he is just like Smirky, Dick, and the rest of the scumbags who will say/do anything to con the public into voting for them. If McCain truly cared about how much I pay for gas, why didn't he propose this, oh, say, 6 years ago, when prices began to rise precipitously? Or at any other time in his career? Answer: Because it wouldn't have helped him get elected to anything until now.

The problem is that the Republican Party has so successfully tarnished the concept of good government and what it can do to help the country, that few see the benefit in the concept of taxation. We must relearn that taxation is not the cause of any of our problems--it is what the government does with its income that has value (or not). Advocating for the elimination of taxes on April 15 is demagoguery, plain and simple. Anyone thinking that lowering taxes does anything positive clearly hasn't been paying attention, or simply doesn't care about our country. Our economy is staggering on the brink of total collapse thanks to 3 decades of economic irresponsibility, during which the Republicans have held the majority of the reins of power, and it's only getting worse. This is not a coincidence, for chrissakes! It is intentional, and they have been succeeding exactly through this kind of pandering. McCain is nothing but a typical Republican thug; believing anything else betrays the height of ignorance.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

House hunting: Part 3

Well, a lot has happened since the last check-in. We gave up on the first house--the short sale hadn't ever gotten approved by the second lender, and we finally decided to cast about for something else in the meantime. We took a look at another house that was going for the same price (bigger, but with more work to do on it), put our bid in, and apparently, have been accepted. So now the real work begins, I suppose. Our escrow period ends on may 9, so that's not that far off, and we have to squeeze in all kinds of inspections and the like. I'm guessing, because I really have no idea!
First up: sign some paperwork.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Wal-Mart: reaping and sowing

Wal-Mart has a black corporate soul; I think we can/should all agree on that. Regardless of how Sam Walton operated (and there is strong evidence that he was violently anti-union, even if he was a sweet guy who treated his employees well, which is in question also), once he died the company began systemically treating anyone it dealt with ruthlessly. Whether it is its own employees, its vendors, or its customers, Wal-Mart only cares about one thing: how much money it can make off you while providing you the very least. This is American capitalism stripped bare of any redeeming features. Wal-Mart shows little care for how it affects its geographical neighbors or the communities it invades, and has little regard for the consequences of any of its actions. There are numerous stories of Wal-Mart bestowing a contract upon a supplier/vendor and then increasing the demands on that business until it can't do business with anyone else but Wal-Mart, leaving them wholly dependent and thereby prey to the whims of a notoriously fickle suitor.
Well, score one for the little guys. Some 30-odd years ago, Sam Walton hired a Kansas video production company to record its internal meetings, but in 2006 Wal-Mart told Flagler Productions its services were no longer desired, stranding the small business without 95% of its income. Ouch. Flagler has responded, though, by opening the archive to anyone who wants to (and can afford) take a peek, in what must be the ultimate revenge possible for the little guy. You see, Walton himself made and honored lots of "handshake deals" with people and businesses, and the one he made with Flagler rested on nothing more substantial than that. Legally speaking, the archive belongs to Flagler, and they can do anything they want to with it. This presents an incredible opportunity for those seeking to investigate the internal practices and attitudes of one of corporate America's worst citizens, with the evidence no doubt coming to YouTube posthaste. Nelson Muntz puts it best:
Ha Ha!!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Book review: The Bush Tragedy

In what might have come off as a stretch of literary hyperbole, Jacob Weisberg has written a comparison of Smirky's life (both personal and political) to Shakespearean tragedy in The Bush Tragedy. Absurd? Perhaps, but Weisberg makes the reader see the sinister and sickening Bush regime as pathetic (in the Greek dramatic sense of pathos) instead of merely disgusting, and to that extent he has succeeded.
Weisberg asserts from the beginning of the book that Smirky is a failure of monumental proportion--this is not another catalog of lies, felonies, and crimes against humanity that has comprised the last 7+ years--and seeks only to explain how and why Bush failed. His literary model for Smirky is Henry V, which might surprise those only familiar with the historical view of Henry V's grand conquest of France culminated by the overwhelming victory at Agincourt. Shakespeare's Henry, however, was a more complex and nearly perverse figure, especially in his younger, pre-King life.
In the Shakespeare plays "Henry IV, part 1" & ". . . part 2", young Hal comes across as a callow wastrel interested only in drinking, wenching, and simply having a good time, all the time. He is shown to consort with low-bred layabouts (the most famous to us and closest to him being Falstaff), and is a constant source of disappointment to his father, King Henry IV, a rather sober and serious monarch. Hal's misbehavior is especially pronounced by comparison to his rival Henry Hotspur, who evinces all the princely qualities King Henry is looking for in an heir, but the accidents of birth leave that possibility open only through civil war. Hal eventually vanquishes Hotspur in battle as he turns away from the friends and path of his youth to claim his rightful place on the throne.
Put GHWBush in King Henry's place, Jeb in Hotspur's, and Smirky in Hal's, and Weisberg's analogy doesn't sound too crazy anymore, does it? (Except of course, Jeb isn't dead, although his political career most likely is.) Weisberg spends a great deal of time delving into Smirky's psyche--a scary and daunting place, to be sure--attempting to use the trope of the Shakespearean tragedy as a vehicle for understanding what has driven Smirky to be the complete loser that he is. The problem in all this is that for all of Smirky's failures, it is the population of the world that is paying the price, not he, so the classic use of the word "tragedy" doesn't quite work. (Although one could argue that Henry V's triumphal defeat and conquest of France actually doomed England to a generation of internecine warfare and the total loss of France during the Wars of the Roses following a mere 3 decades after Henry's death, so even there some parallels might still apply.)
Weisberg's study is entertaining and insightful; his exploration of how Smirky's past informs the present Administration's conduct is useful to those of us wondering how on earth we got to where we are, and his puncturing of many of Smirky's "tall tales" through strict accounting of timelines and documented actions and statements provides us with a wealth of evidence to condemn Bush as a liar and an ignoramus in his personal life as well. Even the prized story of Smirky's conversion to evangelical Christianity by Billy Graham falls apart under Weisberg's close scrutiny, revealing the cynical political calculation undergirding even Smirky's public persona.
When I read the "Henry IV"'s and "Henry V", I was struck by how melancholic the tale of Hal's rejection of his best friend Falstaff was, even as it showed the necessary maturation of England's
brightest shining monarch. Falstaff's death occurs almost as a footnote in "Henry V", probably meant to show how far the new King Henry had risen above his youthful indiscretions. To my mind, though, it represented only a sad end to what had been a colorful and happy life. I kept thinking how much joy Hal passed up in his life in becoming a proper Prince and King. In Smirky's case, though, that missing joy and happiness is ours alone. He's laughing all the way to Paraguay after this is all over . . .

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