Thursday, May 28, 2009

Four Days Early

The Memorial Day rains all over the Gulf South were tropical in nature, so it should come as no surpirse that this year's Atlantic season is starting a little early.

Officially, Number One.


Federalism Ammendent Update

In followup to a previous post, 35 states have now passed some sort of sovereignty resolution this year. If you would count them all as supporters of a Constitutional Convention limiting the powers of the federal government, they're 1 over what they would need to call a convention but 3 short of actually passing anything. It would be interesting to see happen. It would be like a drop kick in the NFL or watching the Cubs play an Americal League team before MLB came up with Interleague Play.

Also, in a tangential story, thanks, Fair Taxers. Go talk about a national sales tax and look what happens. I'm sure in the coming months VAT will be pitched as the only way to keep our government running (conveniently ignoring the option to stop spending so much). And they're not even going to give us the courtesy of pretending to abolish the IRS for a few years.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Colleges & Guns

As a Bulldawg fan in Tigerland, the only thing I could think when hearing about the new Louisiana gun legislation is this.

Not that I'm afraid, mind you (they can smell your fear....). UGA isn't scheduled to play in BR again for several years. I'm sure everything will be worked out before then.


Middle Ground

Though today, the deposed former Vice President Dick Cheney attempted to justify acts most people would consider torture, he entered a statement into the political sphere of this issue, that:

"The administration seems to pride itself on searching for some kind of middle ground in policies addressing terrorism... But in the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground, and half-measures keep you half exposed," added the former vice president."

There are some folks out there who may harbor interesting opinions regarding the definition of 'torture.' There may be some folks out there who harbor thoughts that even something considered torture is 'justified' in the pursuit of information.

But to hear the architect of our current national dilemma and international embarassment say that it is the Obama administration using 'half-measures' and 'middle-ground' is preposterous. Cheney is a key figure in the Bush administration that gave us the ultimate half-measure: the legally and linguistically challenged term "enemy combatant."

Traditionally, any enemy we fight falls into one of two camps. They are either 'criminals' who are dealt with in courts of law or they are 'prisoners of war' who can be held until the cessation of hostilities. Both distinctions have a long and proven history of use, and have entire legalities built around them, dealing with them, extracting information from them and seeking justice against them. We even have legal mechanisms for dealing with individuals who commit crimes in the commission of war. Those distinctions and definitions are how our society is thought and is supposed to pursue justice and common defense.

Bush and Cheney did not want to deal with these individuals either way, so they created their own half-measure, their own middle ground, and began creating a seperate set of legalities and terminoligies that went with it. That muddying of the water has allowed too much confusion on the questions of terrorism and torture, and that is the 'mess' Obama speaks of cleaning up.


When Keepin' It Real Goes Wrong

You don't even need any commentary for this one. Sometimes, the jokes just write themselves.


Friday, May 15, 2009

Macro Issues

We're still talking about the Food Stamp Email of 2008 down here in New Orleans.

Jeffery writes:

It tells us that Stacy Head is exactly what we've always suspected she is. She is a perfect representative of the mean "Let's concern ourselves with what someone else might not deserve in comparison to me" mentality that typifies the paranoid white political mindset of the post-Reagan era and continues to quite accurately describe the attitude held by the majority of white New Orleans voters…

It still means that Head is "pissed off 100 percent of the time" at food stamp purchases she might disapprove of. Stacy feel that her accomplishments in the field of "shopping carefully" entitle her to being "pissed off" that someone using a food stamp card can't even make the effort to follow her example.

Time to play devil’s advocate here. Now we are talking mindsets, macro issues and politics.

I simply know too many hard working people in this country, on both sides of the aisle, who pinch pennies, operate on a budget, and have legitimate policy, economic and cultural concerns about spending they consider wasteful at best. I disagree with them on many of these items, but I can understand where those thoughts come from.

If they have to be frugal with their own money, after all, why can’t the recipients of state aid be frugal with that money? This is not a racist, classist, small minded or mean spirited line of thought.

Head feels entitled to make her opinion about the food stamp shopper not just because she is a careful shopper, but because she pays taxes. Those taxes fund state aid programs. Like it or not, there is some very real resentment in this country that there are people who are able to live rent free and buy their food without paying for it. That resentment is felt by folks who pay their own rent, buy their own food, and feel like they pay taxes so others don’t have to do these things.

Why do you think the GOP, feeding off this resentment, was able to win 5 of the last 8 presidential elections? It does not matter that the “Welfare Queens” narrative is mostly a falsehood. That narrative is reinforced by smaller, more frequent and very real incidents from which resentment springs. From less frugal choices in the grocery check-out line to high-risk students in $200 shoes with a pocket full of junk food claiming they don’t have enough money to buy paper and pencils. Those little incidents personalize the narrative and speak to larger cultural issues at work behind it.

But we never get to those cultural issues, because one side starts in with the cries of racism, classism, elitism, etc. and the other side hollers back with cries of “Welfare Queens,” and “on the dole.”

The reality is that there are far, far more people on social aid programs and they pinch every penny and work very, very hard to get off state aid. Or, they are victims of ill circumstance (as Dangerblond’s walk-a-mile-in-my-shoes post explains).

But we don’t hear about that very often, we hear mostly about the failures and the largesse.

People tend to remember, and talk about things that piss them off.


Poor, Specter...

In a See I Told You So moment, Specter is already preparing to cave on card check. He doesn't know yet that it's not going to make a difference. One of the few even remotely conservative stances he has taken in his stint is a Republican is a solid history of anti-big-labor votes. They're going to turn on him in the primaries no matter what he does here. I'll go ahead and throw out a 2010 prediction since one of my 09's is already well in hand: Specter's former Senate seat come down to a Toomey (R) vs. Sestak (D) vs. Specter (I) election and one of the major parties will pick it up.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Issue of the Day

The big news in New Orleans today is that one of our city council members does not like certain individuals she considers overpaid and ineffective staff at city hall, gets pissed off at people in line at the Wal-Mart, and uses electronic mediums to vent to her friends and colleagues about it.

This brutal and damning investigation into what the real problems in New Orleans are was conducted on the sly by an activist lawyer and the city sanitation director. They had no political purpose for this investigation, they were only out to uncover corruption and ineffective government and ensure transparency in the process. They even took their case to an appeals court to ensure their first amendment rights to tell these truths were not violated.

I'm glad they are looking out for the little guys and gals.

It is a slippery slope, people. If we let city council members get away with having opinions, the next time we look, New Orleans roads will be disentegrating, our schools will be dysfunctional, crime will be out of control, we'll pay too much for abusive utilites, and our health care infrastructure will fall apart.

We'll fight these opinionated and tactless city officials at the check out line in Wal-Mart so we don't have to fight them at City Hall!!

< / sarcasm >

My real opinion? WTF?

Other opinions at:

Cliff's Crib

We Could Be Famous

Moldy City

Adrastos (aka Cake-Head)

Library Chronicles (1)

Library Chronicles (2)

Library Chronicles (3)

Your Right Hand Thief


Humid Haney Rant

The American Zombie

World Class New Orleans

What an appropriate subject for post 1300 at Hurricane Radio.

Post of the Day

"If you are on a helpdesk call at work and the user on the end of the phone shouts "Lord Jesus!!" when you asked them to click on something, that is a good indication that it's going to be a long phone session. Tech support people understand what I'm saying."

More over at Cliff's Crib.


Quote of the Day

"When the Republicans lose a presidential election, it's a shock to their system. When Democrats lose, it mostly just confirms their tragic view of life."

From a Slate article comparing the post-eleciton behaviors of the Big Baby Party.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Sequel?

So the powers that be in the GOP are milking their tea party franchise with a sequel. Sure, every now and then you get Wrath of Kahn or Empire, but usually it just gets worse and worse until even Steve Guttenberg has had enough and you're stuck with Fisher Stevens or worse yet Matt McCoy. Do yourselves a favor, GOP. Let the tea party be the magic that it was move on. Besides, the tea party was kind of a remake in the first place.

Buchanan Has the Right Idea (Did I Really Just Write That?)

(Before you lose interest as I almost did, the portion of the article I'm commenting on in entirely below the ad in the middle of the page on the paragraph beginning with "Though, demographically..." Feel free to skip to that section if you don't want to bother with the exhaustive examples of mid-year election losses.)

Of all people, Buchanan gets it. He's figured out the secret to being a good minority Party. Well, not exactly "secret." It's the standard operating procedure for many successful minority parties. Buchanan uses Robert Menzies' quote:
(T)he duty of an opposition ... is to oppose selectively. No government is always wrong on everything. … The opposition must choose the ground on which it is to attack. To attack indiscriminately is to risk public opinion, which has a reserve of fairness not always understood.

I personally always think of Benjamin Disraeli. He had a bit easier time in a multi-party system but had an excellent strategy of not only selectively opposing items, but having the party actively support legislation from the opposition that they were in agreement with.

I don't know if I buy Buchanan's list of what to stand up for. I personally think he's spot on with stimulus. Like we've mentioned earlier, Republicans are lumping it in with bailouts quite successfully. I don't think Democrats can really separate the two at this point, especially since tax revenues are waaay down. It doesn't matter how much of the stimulus and subsequent Obama budget is infrastructure spending is if we're borrowing $.50 for every dollar of spending. There's some nice narrative buried in the issue along the lines of Obama trying to do too much too quickly. This whole issue is a homerun if played right.

Republicans should also work harder to paint the automotive bailout for what it is: the Democrats putting the needs of a labor union above the needs of the nation as a whole. Republicans are often accused of being in the pocket of big business. Republicans have the same opportunity to accuse the Democrats of being in the pocket of big labor. They could even throw card check here. There's a nice chance to paint card check as the labor unions burying Detroit and the Democrats trying to let them do the same for the rest of the nation. Maybe not a homerun, but at least a solid double.

And healthcare? I don't know. I'd stay away from an offensive effort there. Republicans would be better served to hammer on the tough issues inherent in an actual plan than to go about opposing the idea of universal coverage.

I feel almost the same about cap and trade. While I think most people don't buy into the environmental alarmists, they want a cleaner environment. They just don't want to give up much to get it. This would be a good opportunity for Republicans to introduce alternative legislation aimed at cleaning up the environment is less economically invasive ways.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Required Reading for Conservatives

And liberals. The center must hold, people.

And take your time, the link will take you to a long post.

I think of this every time Glenn Beck's show comes on the radio with a warning to "go to a fallout shelter." I think of this any time Hannity's segment begins with the apples of prosperity falling into the box of socialism. I think about this anytime I hear an attendant to the Tea Party rallies talking about how worried he is about his "liberties." I think often of how my own very conservative, very Catholic, very Southern father tell me he has had to stop watching Fox News because they have all lost their minds. I think about this when I hear southern governors talking secession again because they lost during two election cycles.

I think about many of my Republican and conservative friends who think nothing like this, but who repeat the same talking points to me, or act as if all our history has happened in a vaccum.

Radicalism is a very, very scary thing. The road leads only to places we would rather not go, because we've been there before. It leads to us a place where we hang pictures of those who are lost, and light votives to their memories.

And this is all real, in so many ways. When you get to the section entitled "Go..." read it once in the context of the article - and think of how it applies to masses of people.

Then go back, and read in the context of where we already see the fruits of this kind of isolated culture, from troubled urban streets pocketed with crack houses to rural gravel roads hiding meth labs behind the kudzu. In both places, we already hang pictures of those who are lost, and light votives to their memories.

The only difference will be scale.

(HT: Library Chronicles)


Required Reading for Liberals

It is about what you're doing wrong, which is still a lot, actually.

This was such a good post, I'm just going send you over that way to take a look.

And this link is also worth following and spending the time on, as it relates perceptions and history of populism as it relates to the major political parties.


More Hustle

There were some weekends in my life that went by in a blur. Hell, there were some weeks in my life that went by in a blur. But even in a blur, there are things you remember. Especially when someone else picks up the tab.

Let me explain: One weekend, lo these many years hence, it came to pass that on a single spring day in Athens, Georgia, the University of Georgia's football team had an intrasquad game on the same day that the Classic City Brew Fest was held at the Classic Center down the street. You know the day has gone by in a blur when you leave a festival celebrating beer and go to a pub to sober up. That plan was wrecked, yea, by one large and ragingly intoxicated Georgia alum named Lloyd. While he only appeared to have previously met 5 individuals at the bar, this good hearted and jolly soul went ahead and purchased over $7000 in drinks for his 5 friends, me and my friends, and the other 100 people who came through the bar that evening.

That was the single most expensive drinking day of my life, and I remember who paid for what, and I have witnesses who will back this up as True. True.

All I'm sayin' is, if someone spotted me and my family a trip to Hawaii, and then hooked me up with a trip to Jamaica, I'd remember every little detail.

But that's just me. As far as others are concerned, results may vary.


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Wreckin' the Hustle

Just to point out a little bit of change we can believe in, Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu decided to recommend the retention of US Attorney Jim Letten. I'm wondering how this decision - based on competency and law-and-order - fits into the right wing narrative of teh ebil Democrats restricting liberty and freedom and happyness.

Good results should be rewarded, and Letten has now done such an outstanding job, he's kept his job. Twice (He wasn't political enough to be Bush's first choice). This is in opposition to many, many voices who - in the name of progressivism on one hand and politics on the other - demanded Landrieu recommend a Democrat for the slot. She listened to her real constituents and their resounding approval of Letten's work.

Cliff explains why better than I can.

Maybe if the GOP had taken a page out of Letten's playbook and focused on competence and effectiveness for the last 8 years, they wouldn't find themselves in pizza parlors trying to rebrand their image.


Hannity & Hate Crimes

Just flipping channels on tube tonight, and there's Hannity on Fox News talking to an Iowa Republican about the new hate crimes legislation. According to Hannity, and many other folks in the rightwingoverse, this new hate crimes legislation will provide more protections to pedophiles than veterans. It will also destroy free speech and could be considered an attack against Christians.

Well, knowing how hate crimes legislation is usually misrepresented, coupled with the proven hyperbole of right wingers with microphones and television shows, I looked up the legislation just to make sure. Even Hannity said "this is unbelievable," and apparently, those were the only words of truth he spoke in his opening segment.

Just as I suspected, the complaints about the new legislation are nothing more than sensationalism, partisan hackery and outrage-as-news bullshit.

Let us take the money quote from the action section of the legislation. Someone can be persecuted for a hate crime if they:

willfully causes bodily injury to any person or, through the use of fire, a firearm, a dangerous weapon, or an explosive or incendiary device, attempts to cause bodily injury to any person, because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin of any person...


willfully causes bodily injury to any person or, through the use of fire, a firearm, a dangerouse weapon, or an explosive or incendiary device, attempts to cause bodily injury to any person, because of the actual or perceived religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of any person

Nothing about speech. Nothing about pedophiles and veterans. So, what in the world is Hannity talking about?

He's talking about a GOP amendment specifically designed to inject pedophilia into this debate.

Luckily, John Stewart at the Daily Show already took this issue to task, and included college football as well. For those of you who think Stewart is "too liberal" as opposed to "rooted in common sense and comedy," please see also his reference to hate crimes as redundant, which is the only rational place this 'debate' should exist.

You still don't get to hit them.