Archive for January, 2010


Stephen Colbert’s Balls

Stephen Colbert went further than Mark Shields “State of the Confederacy” quip.  He just refered to McDonnell as the white president and pointed out that no one had looked quite so presidential in Richmond’s capital room since Jefferson Davis.  

He then proceeded to poke fun at the GOP plan to fix all America’s problems.

If only the congressional Democrats could grow a pair like his.

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just passing this along…

…as if it is a big surprise that a GOP Governor’s PAC would be funded by the financial industry.


… one more thing

I found it rather hilarious when Mark Shields on Newshour made a rather ominous joke.  While waiting for the president to begin they discussed the GOP rebuttle and the set up, he said that instead of the State of the Union you could call it the State of the Confederacy.  David Brooks chuckled and Jim Leher said “but nobody would.”  Who says Newshour is boring.


The Speech

The best comment in my house during the speech was from my boy… “I guess they don’t stand up because maybe they’re too old.” 

There might be some truth to that, but I lean towards simple obstructionism.

The speech was good.  Good balance of taking the heat for the setbacks, reiterating where we were a year ago and the progress being made and enough “fight” to those who refuse to do anything.  His pointing out that if everything must take 60 votes, then they too must answer for the lack of progress on anything.  Nice.  Balls in your court.  

Great to hear it finally said from the top down that nothing happens when everyone is simply running for office.  Really seem to try to speak to those disappointed.. although I have a feeling that many simply can’t be reached. 

He also gave the soundbite “We don’t quit.”  Hope it can be a rallying point.

… Just watched the GOP stagecraft.  So good to know that Gov. McDonnell can round up people to clap at all the right places.  It makes it seem that everyone agrees when you hand pick those who attend your speech, no?  He says the GOP  wants the same things, many laid out in Obam’as speech – jobs, healthcare reform, security, etc.   Yet, they want limited governement.  A couple times he mentioned equality of opportunity – how do intened to do that without government involvement?   How does tax cuts help that?  He says GOP has ideas about healthcare, but they are the same tired ideas they keep pushing – tort reform and buying insurance across state lines.  Sorry, but the one page healthcare reform platform just really doesn’t cut it.  And if I hear one more time that we don’t want government to take over the world’s best healthcare system!  Geez!  Which country’s sysem are they talking about?  It isn’t ours, that would be the 37th best.  Not that anyone ever proposed a government take over…  It is same old thing – good spit and polish but nothing to back it up. 

Well, maybe their ideas are just too old to get up and do anything.


Why is it always South Carolina?

When I read this headline, I looked to make sure I wasn’t at The Onion.  What is wrong with South Carolina’s politicians?

Quote from article:

“You’re facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don’t think too much further than that. And so what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to curtail that type of behavior. They don’t know any better.”


Role Model

The trouble with truisms and proverbs is that, once you state them concisely, they become clichés. 

And the troubles with clichés are twofold: People cease to recognize their truth because they ARE clichés or inversely, because they are clichés people may automatically believe them to be truths.

An example of the former is “With great power there must also come great responsibility”.  That one’s true, right?  However, it has become so ubiquitous that no one hears it.  Not only does power affect those being acted upon but the more power you have, the more people who watch you to see what you are going to do with it.  As a nation we have felt the effects of this truth from both ends, based on the example we set the world.  Still, you needn’t have more than one person watching.  If you are a father, at least one person is watching everything you do.  I once saw my own father buy a newspaper and return to the truck then, upon noticing he had two papers, get out of the truck, put money in the machine again and return the second paper.  I asked him, “What did you do?”  He said, “I had two papers”, as if that explained everything.  I said, “Why didn’t you just pay for the second one?”  He said, “I didn’t need two papers”.  That was 40 years ago but it had a lasting effect on me.

Incidentally, a clichéd truth will spring up again and again, in one form or another.  The Christian Bible says that “Of those to whom much is given, much is asked.”  I’m sure there are more examples that state this same basic tenet.

An example of the latter, the cliché that appears to be a truth but isn’t, is Charles Barkley’s famous statement “I am NOT a role model”.  He is, of course.  What he might more appropriately have said is “I do not choose to be a role model”, which is true but still would not relieve him of the responsibility.

He is a role model.  Whether he wants the part or not, Charles Barkley is a Role Model – the kind with capital letters – because literally millions of impressionable kids are watching him.  Because of size and talent Mr. Barkley was able to become a world-famous athlete.  I am sure he is aware of the incredible privilege that is.  What he refuses to be aware of (by making his statement) is the fact that “with great power there must also come great responsibility”.  You don’t get to choose to become a role model or not.  It comes as a responsibility that is tied to a right or privilege – whether that privilege is being a father or an internationally known sports figure.

Which leads me to a much shorter cliché: “Be mindful”.  Whether as a nation or an ethnic group or a religious order or a singe person, someone is making assumptions about, or modeling themselves on, our behavior.  It’s not right or wrong, it just is…and making statements about not wanting the job doesn’t change the fact.  A favorite aphorism of one of my best friends is “What we allow, our children will embrace”. 

Everything we do affects everyone else, for good or ill.  Or, as Spike Lee famously said, “Do the right thing”.


365, 41

It is now one year since President Obama took office. The pundits have given grades and the polls have been conducted. People are dissatisfied – at least the ones that seem to make their opinion known. But, can we have some perspective? You hear it said often and perhaps it simply becomes trite after a while, especially when hopes were so high a year ago. Still, let’s remember, Obama took office and inherited two wars and THE WORST ECONOMIC CRISIS SINCE THE GREAT DEPRESSION. It wasn’t just the malaise of the ‘70s or the downturn of the 80’s. It was near disaster. The TARP? The bank bailouts? All that was rolling when he walked in the door of the oval office. So bitch and moan all you want people, but think back a year ago or back to September 2008. Tell me you weren’t looking at your bank account and wondering if you should take the money and put it in your mattress. Tell me you weren’t feeling some sense of panic when you looked at your 401k plummet. You may have your torch and pitchfork in hand when you think of bankers today, but if you kept your money in your 401k and didn’t touch it, you are probably seeing that it is recovering pretty well. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got my own torch and pitchfork for those bankers and their bonuses, but that is another discussion. Yes, unemployment is still at 10%. It is horrible. Yet, all economist say that unemployment is a lagging indicator. That doesn’t help my neighbor or friends out looking for a job. I know that. But, I also believe that the economy getting on more solid ground will eventually start creating jobs.
Sure, I would have loved for there to have been a climate bill and completed financial reform and the repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell”. I would have also liked those unicorns and rainbows. But, this is the real world. Nothing has been very easy. Not only are we contending with the Democratic Party perpetual problem of being unable to act as a single, cohesive entity, we are dealing with the most hateful and organized Republican Party obstructionists I’ve ever seen. While I often dream of the ability to have a party that will act in locked step to get things done, I would never exchange it for the diverse and discordant Democrats. Disagreement and discussion always is better than automaton acceptance of party line. Still it would be nice wouldn’t it? Just think if the minority party at the time had decided not to vote for the Iraq war? Sigh.
But, that is where we are. We are now at a place in history where 41 is the real majority – not 59. When 41 people can stop what 59 – or 51 – want, it is not a majority rules democratic process any longer. That brings us to Centerfold Brown and his victory in Massachusetts. It is a horrible travesty that uh… what was her name?… couldn’t even run a campaign. It is an absolute disgusting display by the people of Massachusetts to support a guy who ran on one thing – stopping the healthcare bill. This is a state that has healthcare! This is a state that voted for a man to represent them in the Senate for over 40 years regardless of his personal issues. They voted for a man that spent his decades in the Senate fighting for healthcare. He dies and they piss on his grave. I don’t get it. Even with whatshername as the candidate, it seems to go against what they believed in for the last 47 years.
But that also is where we are after these 365 days. We are where one person with an agenda – Senator Lieberman or Brownback – or one person with a bully pulpit – Limbaugh, Beck – or one vote – Brown – can stir fear and anger. We are where groups of people can say hateful things and yell and scream and call it debate. We are where “Hitler” references are bantered around like they mean anything. We are here, in this country, where in the past we would pull together in times of crisis or need but now hiss and claw and scratch and grandstand and revel in the rancor. I never remember a time of so much hate and discontent, but I wasn’t around in the 60’s… This anger and yelling seem so much more self-aggrandizing and with less purpose.
A year ago, I had so much hope. Today, I am so often disillusioned, not by Obama or even the Keystone Copish Democrats, but by the citizenry and punditry. Still, I have hope. It is a slow messy climb to get anything done in a democracy. The more you want to do, the more people scream that they want change just not the change that is happening. Change is hard. Change is scary. Change is coming. Yes, I still have Hope that Change is coming. It will happen – it just won’t be riding in on a unicorn or with rainbows.
For all those still feeling a little discourage, here is Larry Wilmore’s first year review to make you laugh a little.

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