Saturday, January 23, 2010

Can Anybody Here Play This Game?

To paraphrase 'Ronald Dumsfeld', you go to legislate with the Democrats you have, not the Democrats you wish you had. But I'm starting to wonder if the current Democrats are even trying. The senate health care bill, bad as it may be, is the only option left in the playbook. The house's choice is to either pass it, or forget about health care reform for another generation.

I understand the lack of enthusiasm for the bill. It really isn't anywhere near the strong reform we deserve, but there is enough benefit to regulating insurance to make it worthwhile. (I admit that I have a bias; as a walking "pre-existing condition" I have a vested interest in it passing.)

So yesterday, I called my congresswoman's office to express my view. Now, regular readers know that my congresswoman is a proud standing member of the "soggy-waffle caucus" who can avoid taking a stand on almost any issue that might be remotely controversial, so I wasn't expecting much. But I was rather surprised at the staffer's lack of information regarding the status of the bill, or negotiations on it. I had kinda hoped that a political employee some attention to politics. I'm so naive sometimes.

Let me spell this out simply for the Democrats: you need to pass this if you wish to maintain any political viability for the remainder of this term. If the republicans win on this, they will block every other attempt at legislation by the same means. I hate to see governing reduced to a 'game', but that is the current reality. Score now, or forfeit the game.

Added: New Democratic party slogan:

"That Lemming seems to know where he's going! Let's follow."

Friday, January 22, 2010

So Nice, I'll Do It Twice

(added: the view from my door)
That was sarcasm, folks.
I got a path cleared from my door, so that I could get out. Then I returned the borrowed shovel.
While I was gone, the landlord sent people out to clear the snow off the roof (which is a good thing).
So I returned to find my doorway buried five feet deep in snow.
So after digging out, I got to dig back in.
I'm sick of snow.
And, damn, my shoulder is killing me.
Next year, I'm migrating south for the winter.

A Boobie's Outlook

(pic from Lockwood at Outside the Interzone)

Even the Boobie's downcast this week, and the stamping of feet has begun.

On the snow front, I can (barely) get my door open. Which lead to a simple realization: I don't currently own a shovel. When I moved into this (very tiny) apartment, I left all those implements to my former housemates, not thinking that I'd need them. I don't have a sidewalk; just a tiny doorstep out to a small courtyard that I share with a few neighbors (who seem to have all headed south prior to the storm). Usually, the landlord sends his little maintenance guy by with a snowblower, but I doubt he can get here today. So today I'm on a mission: to borrow a shovel before too much more snow piles up (yeah, there's still more), so that I can get out into the world. Not that I want to go out, but I'm faced with a simple problem: I'm almost out of cigarettes. Nicotine addiction sucks.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Man Has A Great Future in Stand Up Comedy

"That's why I am instructing my Administration to get to work immediately with Congress on this issue. We are going to talk with bipartisan Congressional leaders to develop a forceful response to this decision."-President Obama, in response to today's Supreme Court decision.
I'm sure that will work, and if it doesn't, perhaps a sternly worded letter will follow.

An Obscene Amount of Snow

Just looked out my kitchen window, and the snow is over the sill. That's over 40", which is just ridiculous. Roads, schools, and the airport are all closed.

Damn Depressing

(old image, but it's appropriate for the day)
The whole political picture has gotten damn depressing over the past few days (not that it was rosy before), and I really want to scream at somebody. Or worse.
Having weathered eight years of absolute disaster under shrub, I (probably naively) "hoped" that we might actually get competence in governance under Obama. I didn't expect a whole lot, just a reasonably decent effort. I'm coming to the realization that wanting a "functional government" is actually "unrealistic idealism".
As a result of the Massachusetts election, health care reform appears to be dead for another generation. Not that the "reform" proposed was all that good; it wasn't. But it was at least an attempt, and (IMHO) better than doing nothing. The democrats (as usual) decided to surrender at the first sign of adversity, and the republican bullies are happy to strike at any weakness. Because of this, you can forget about getting any kind of meaningful legislation on financial reform, climate change, or jobs for the remainder of the Obama administration. Governing requires the courage to stand up for something; that courage is sorely lacking.
And, thanks to today's SCOTUS decision (see below), it's going to be almost impossible to elect better officials to replace our current jellyfish. We might as well let Goldman-Sachs appoint our next legislature and administration. They've bought the government, fair and square, so let them go ahead and run it.

Democracy For Sale

That's it. It's now official: America is now a corporatocracy. Our politicians, who previously tried to hide being 'bought and paid for' shills, will now be openly chosen by their corporate sponsors:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that corporations may spend as freely as they like to support or oppose candidates for president and Congress, easing decades-old limits on business efforts to influence federal campaigns.

By a 5-4 vote, the court overturned a 20-year-old ruling that said companies can be prohibited from using money from their general treasuries to produce and run their own campaign ads.

The justices also struck down part of the landmark McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill that barred union- and corporate-paid issue ads in the closing days of election campaigns.

Advocates of strong campaign finance regulations have predicted that a court ruling against the limits would lead to a flood of corporate and union money in federal campaigns as early as this year's midterm congressional elections.

''It's the Super Bowl of bad decisions,'' said Common Cause president Bob Edgar, a former congressman from Pennsylvania.

The decision removes limits on independent expenditures that are not coordinated with candidates' campaigns.

It was pretty easy to see this coming with shrub's two supreme court appointees being openly pro-corporation. Once you own the Supreme Court it's a lot easier to buy the rest of the government.
Our democracy was plenty dysfunctional before, and elections dominated by money. Now corporate money will openly pour into elections, effectively overwhelming populism. The average American voter wasn't very sophisticated before (witness the tea party people), and now they'll be subjected to even greater manipulation. The upcoming election cycles are going to be even uglier, and the smear campaigns even louder, as big money dominates the airwaves. Your choice of candidates will now have fewer options than a fast food menu, and the quality will be at the level of choosing between McDonalds or Jack-in-the-Box. Sorry if you want something better; the corporate masters aren't offering that. "Of the people, by the people, for the people" has been taken off the menu.
American democracy had a pretty good run, lasting over 230 years. It's a shame that it was sold so cheaply.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

This Week in 'Snowstaff'

About a foot of new snow overnight, on top of the roughly 8 inches Monday and Tuesday. 6 more inches forecast for today, but the "big" storm isn't supposed to start until tomorrow night, when 26 to 40 inches is expected. I know we really need the moisture, but it's almost too much of a good thing. Luckily, I don't have to go anywhere today. Perhaps a little shot of Bailey's in the morning coffee is called for.

Senator 'With Benefits'

So Scott Brown, the Naked Teabagger won. I'm looking to find something positive to salvage from his election, and I think I've found it: during his lengthy, rambling victory speech, Sen.-elect Brown announced to the world that his daughters were "available"

BOSTON (FOX25, myfoxboston) - Senator-elect Scott Brown called his daughters "available" in an awkward moment that stood out during his victory speech.

Brown thanked his daughters Ayla and Arianna for their help on the campaign, then stopped to point out to the nation that they were, "available."

Republican "family values" can seem a little strange for the uninitiated, but if you've read the book of Leviticus, a father is allowed to sell his daughters. So he's keeping with christian tradition, at least when compared to his nude centerfold posing (I'm not aware of any biblical passages about that).
If I could, I'd be asking him a couple of questions about his daughters "availability", like "available for what?" and "how much?"
But I'm a perverted, old liberal.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Haiti Benefit Tonight!

For all my Flagstaff readers, we're having a benefit for the people of Haiti tonight at The Green Room ( starting at 6:00pm:

The Green Room is holding a benefit for Haiti today from 6 to 10 p.m. All money raised will be donated to relief organizations, including Doctors Without Borders.

Bands to play include The People's Crew, Summit Dub Squad and Sambatuque.

Organizers are inviting people to ski or snowshoe over, and asking patrons to donate what they can (any amount) at the door. The Green Room is located at 15 N. Agassiz St.

Don't let a little snow stop you; there will be free tacos!

Broken Politics

In what is obviously the most important election since the last one, Massachusetts will elect a senator to replace the late Ted Kennedy. And regardless of who wins, it's another shining example of how badly our political system is broken. With each election, we move further and further into a choice between uninspiring mediocrity or downright nihilist mendacity.
Take this election (please): the democratic candidate to replace Kennedy, a true giant of American legislative history, Martha Coakley, arrogantly assumed that she could win the seat merely by having a "D" behind her name. Her 'campaign' was an exercise in listless, vanilla flavored platitudes stating that all she had to offer is being a democrat in a predominately democratic state. Not the sort of stuff that motivates voter turnout.
Then there's the republican...damn...could Scott Brown be any more typical of the current republicans? One simple example: he voted against funding for 9/11 rescue workers, while at the same time voting to fund a golf course; this is called "fiscal responsibility" by his party. He's done an effective job of tapping into the 'tea party' anger and the party of "no" anti-government sentiment by promising to oppose anything Obama attempts (I guarantee that he'll vote against any 'jobs' bill) to do. Another "cut taxes and drown the government in a bathtub", "government doesn't work, and I'm going to make sure it doesn't" vote in the senate, protecting the rich and privileged by insuring that the future will be worse for the masses.
These are the kind of choices we get in our corporate controlled political system. Should a truly dynamic candidate emerge in a race, the media will marginalize him/her as "extremist" and the big money political brokers will mobilize to defeat the "insurgent." That is our current political reality, and the majority of voters don't seem to care. After all, there's a new season of "American Idol" to keep them distracted.