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Beting Against America, a draft

To be trimmed and sent to pundits and democratic strategists:

Last week, we saw popular and just legislation for 9/11 rescuers and civil rights in the military stymied by cynical Republicans in Congress.  For the last two years, they have been stonewalling progress on every front for their own political gain.  Republican politicians have been crying, "Things are terrible," while banking on the situation getting worse, so they can run on Obama and the Democrats not fixing things.

Times _are_ tough, but we, as a people, have always known ours will be a better tomorrow. We share this faith. Nevertheless, in fighting aid to workers, small businesses, first responders, and our armed services; in refusing to work on health care, energy, and immigration reform; in constantly stalling, saying 'no', and hoping for the worst, Republican in Congress have bet against America.  They are wrong.  Every one of us knows, you don't bet against the American people, and you don'…

A brilliant move from Lieberman

Joe Lieberman is making noise about pushing through a stand-alone repeal of 'Don't Ask Don't Tell', alongside Senator Susan Collins (Republican of Maine).  He claims to have the votes.  If he can get this done, he'll have a nice liberal feather in his cap for his 2010 reelection.  Considering that he had roughly 25% job-approval ratings in his home state at the beginning of the year, he'll probably need it. 

Just being able to claim he co-wrote this, the most significant federal civil rights bill in recent memory, would be a major victory for him in Connecticut, and do a lot to mend fences with Democrats, many of whom have come to revile him for his hawkishness and anti-health-reform views.  If it passes, he may even end up a hero.

A brief note on MMA's rules

In Mixed Martial Arts' current unified rules (used by almost all promotions and athletic commissions in the United States and Canada), fighters are scored on are effective striking, grappling, aggression, and cage control.  I would suggest dropping 'aggression', and instead focusing on penalizing fighters who stall. Points should not be given for effort, but for effectiveness.

This would encourage competitors to fight smarter and more technically, while discouraging them from merely defending themselves or finding a position to rest in and staying there.  This would make for better fights and easier judging.

I hate to ascribe cynicism to a Press Secretary.

Recently, some poll or other concluded 55% of likely voters think the President is a socialist or can fairly be described as one.   Secretary Robert Gibbs' derision of the "professional left" is probably intended to create vocal response from liberals to show Obama is anything but a socialist.  I doubt this is really about anger at liberals for not giving this administration its due, but by offering that as the narrative, Gibbs has given the press a nice package, which will include this White House's accomplishments while implicitly arguing against the notion that Obama is too liberal.

Do liberal pundits like playing along while their emotional buttons are pushed?  By playing the game as though there were no game, they offer their tacit approval of just that.

I will treat this entry as though it were in a journal.

It is easy for a TV series to lose me.  When House became more interested in poorly written interpersonal relationships than silly practical jokes and Holmesian medical mysteries, I stopped watching.  When Burn Notice focused several episodes on its incredibly talented spy lead (who had handled murderers, con men, gangs, the FBI, and a host of foreign operatives) having trouble because a cop was harassing him, it took me a year to decide to give it another chance.  When Dexter botched its second season, killed its best character, and then opened its third with Dex acting like an idiot for the convenience of the writers, I dropped it.  When Madmen slowed down in the middle of the third season, I simply lost interest.  These are shows I loved at one point.

A lot of people won't just let go of such things.  Even those sympathetic to my reactions will usually have just kept watching.  I've been trying to figure out why my reaction is different for a while now, without easy excuses…

A few political thoughts:

-Obama has recently made several appearances where he said, approximately, "Don't bet against the American worker." Yesterday, he began to turn the corner on this argument, and intimate that the Republicans (whom he termed 'the party of "no" crowd') had broken this maxim by opposing government aid to and intervention in the auto industry (and, now, for small businesses). I expect to see this line of thought to be extended, firmed up, and ramped up until our president feels comfortable saying the 'Republicans in Congress' are betting against America. Gonna have to move quick there, if they want to have time for the message to sink in nationally before the midterms.


-Chris Matthews, among others, has claimed to see big trouble for Democrats if the Justice Department is successful in either declawing or striking down Arizona's racist anti-apparent-immigrant laws. Right now, Hispanics account for roughly 15 percent of the US population. The …

Struggling with Sisyphian thought.

Does anyone else find 'Sisyphian struggle' not just hard to say, but also ironic?

Sisyphus's tale, as metaphor, isn't really a lesson in what will happen to you if you piss off the gods multiple times (say, by skipping out of Hell and chaining Death up), though there is that element.  It's more about how daily tasks and the cyclical, repetitious aspects of life can be crushing.  They may require something heroic in us, and yet remain mundane (because everyone faces them in some form, and no one can shirk them all).  Worse, if we accept the metaphor fully (or are taken with arguments for a universal viewpoint, where we are but specks in the big scheme of things), our labours are ultimately futile and fruitless.

Camus thought this especially pertinent to modern living--though I suspect the ancients faced challenges not too removed from our own.  His answer, that we must imagine Sisyphus happy at times, seems to require a leap.  After all, how can a man cursed to toil…

Carrying the pale forward, and going beyond it again.

Mark Williams, a radio personality, talking head, and tea-partyist, had made what may charitably be characterized as 'controversial' statements before stepping into the realm of satire on July 14.  After the NAACP passed a resolution condemning racist elements and acceptance of them within the Tea Party movement, Williams complained about the organization's supposed hypocrisy on NPR, CNN, and finally his own website, where he produced a gleefully racist letter purportedly written by NAACP President, Ben Jealous, to Abe Lincoln.  Among other things, it demanded the withdrawal of the 13th and 14th Amendments, and the return of slavery.  Within two days, it was taken down, and replaced by a non-apology denouncing racism, declaring the NAACP's title racist, saying his earlier satire was only condemned for its use of the term 'colored people', and, of course, calling for a healthy and open discourse on such matters.  Because Mark's such a good guy, he even offer…

Follow up

So it would seem Obama is doing what I suggested, just in a slow, measured, 'I'm really disappointed in you, BP', kinda way.  Too cool for school.

Meanwhile, he still seems to be taking a watered down version of the Republicans' "all of the above" approach to energy, which will make no one happy, leave us open to future oil disasters (with continued drilling in shallow waters and on land), and not push hard enough for renewable energy technologies.  This is pragmatism carried beyond what is pragmatic to where it no longer takes prudential concerns into account, or at least places them at a distant second to idealistic visions of political harmony.  In the past, Obama has taken steps which have seemed timid and not always worked to his or his party's advantage, but which have eventually resulted in something being accomplished.  Unfortunately, though oft deemed an acceptable outcome, that product is often watered down, panned even by those who benefit from…

Politics, change, and the Deepwater Horizon

The story is that we need BP, as they are the only party with the closest thing to the know-how to handle this spill and which has the responsibility to do so.  I'm not sure I buy that.  They were knowingly irresponsible in the construction of their well; they seem to be pulling the wool over our eyes on the amount of oil that has escaped their well; and they apparently either do not have the will or the ability to handle this by themselves in a timely manner.  It has been five weeks.  We've seen oil washing up on our shores now.  If things continue at this rate, we can expect our present problems to increase, and to see oily hurricanes, once tropical storm season hits.

More clearly needs to be done.  Current public and governmental pressure is not enough.  Nor are the actions being taken by BP or the various local and federal agencies at work.  People can feel this.  Recently, there have been comments from both 'the right' and 'the left' that this crisis is O…

Chris Ware's greatest fans are philistines.

Chris Ware's comics are playful, well honed, much honoured, and have been highly influential over the last decade.  However, their appeal eludes me.  His drawings, design, and layouts are cold.  So, too, his bone dry humour.  Frankly, I find his work boring, in form and function.   Intellectually and as entertainment, it offers me nothing.

I feel (somewhat) similarly disconnected to the music of Charles Mingus. Still, when people tell me Charlie is a genius, a fantastic band leader, and quite possibly the greatest jazz bassist ever, said persons almost always know more about jazz than I do.  I believe, in this case case I may be missing something others key into.  I believe it because it is an oft held view among people who understand the medium and its history better than I do.

I don't think that's what's going on when someone tells me Chris Ware is a genius.  More often, it's like people who hardly know anything about art praising 'the Mona Lisa' (of whic…

Another fantastic bit of editorial photojournalism!

This is Lloyd Blankfein, pictured in a BBC News article on Goldman Sachs execs testifying to Congress entitled, 'Goldman Sachs "Profited at Clients' Expense"'.  Lloyd is Sachs' CEO.


Seems a proper reaction for having to play in the absurdist theatre of a Senate hearing on a scandal, where everyone is positively outraged by the actions of their patrons.  Not like it's news that Wall Street is filled with dicks who just want to fuck you.  "I'm shocked, shocked to find gambling going on in this establishment!"

Meanwhile, our representatives will continue to whittle down their not-quite-strong-enough to begin with legislation set on reigning in just these sorts of excesses.  Of course, even should it be detoothed and declawed, our Republican friends and officials will still lament it being much too intrusive, stifling, and 'big government', as they call for the tougher reform of largely letting the markets manage themselves.

Perhaps I s…

I hate Frank Luntz.

Just wanted to get that out there.


Addendum (4/30)--

As per Media Matters:

'Right-wing story time this week -- brought to you by Frank Luntz -- centered around the claim that financial reform legislation would encourage perpetual and permanent taxpayer bailouts. The genesis of this particular tall tale is Luntz's January memo that advised opponents of financial regulatory reform to tie the issue to big bank bailouts. Message received. Driving the clown car was Glenn Beck, who appeared on Fox & Friends to decry the "insane" idea of using $50 billion to save failing firms; Michelle Malkin claimed the bill would "institutionalize and make permanent financial bailouts"; Fox Business' Charles Gasparino said the bill contained a "slush fund" of "$50 billion to bail you out." Actually, the $50 billion fund would be paid for by the financial services industry and would cover the costs of the orderly liquidation o…

A very old drawing I have lost.

With mild editing, and a quick background added in Photoshop.

Wish I could find the actual hard copy. Shoot.

At this point, it is hard not to call Tea Party folks 'teabaggers'.

And it's not because I think they're largely foolish racists with ill thought out ideas being manipulated by corporations and right wing pundits, though that is how I feel. Rather, I've just heard (and read) them called 'teabaggers' so often now, it's hard not to. Nevermind the humour or that it rolls off the tongue much easier than 'tea partiers'.

It becomes more apropos when you see signs from their rallies suggesting they should tea bag the Democrats or Obama. For further enjoyment, may I suggest Morons with Signs?

I have to say, it's odd to see Democrats engage in this sort of (admittedly low) tactic and actually seem to win the battle of words.

Obama's Political Concessions and Potential Gains

Much has been made in the media (or at least, the segment that I have concentrated on, that being the New York Times, BBC, and Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews's programs on MSNBC) about Obama's alleged concessions to Republicans who will later refuse to cooperate in the final legislation. The general argument here is that the President gains nothing by making these moves, and that it is therefore foolish for him to seemingly abandon some of his stated goals, which could produce a more liberal result. While I am persoanlly in favor of such an outcome, I believe that the Obama administration has taken the long view, which many critics may have missed.

By publicly reaching out to Republicans--and reminding the voter that he is doing this--while adding some of their ideas into the mix, he has not only arranged for the over-all legislation to pass, but has accomplished the following:

(1) Taken the centre, which establishes Obama--and possibly the Democrats riding on his coattai…

I have no idea where I was going with this.

[From April 09]

Rational thought (a system or as a line of thinking) is not inerrant. It is not supernaturally endowed with its own special light. It is, more often than not, done in pursuit of rationalising our dispositions, prejudices, and actions. But this does not deny its usefulness, or condemn such thinking to the patent absurdity of gibberish. Instead, it makes the rational into a real practice, like others: fallible, common, and not some shining ideal.

Rendering such thinking little more than an attempt to fashion itself into something more internally consistent, and perhaps better in tune with the world it is a part of,

Turn The Crow on its head

Man who is tired of living, but unwilling or unable to kill himself is brutally murdered by ass-hats. A raven revives him. He spends more time trying to catch the bird and kill it than he does inadvertently doing away with his murderers. In taking out some of these goons, he earns the enmity of several gangs who, unfortunately, cannot kill him.

Addendum:

The bird should be a pigeon, as opposed to a raven.