Wednesday, December 2, 2009

This man, he is my brother.

Al last, we have a president who understand the concept of "moral authority," and not just "might makes right."

President Obama, on the Afghanistan December 1, 2009:

"And we must make it clear to every man, woman and child around the world who lives under the dark cloud of tyranny that America will speak out on behalf of their human rights and tend for the light of freedom and justice and opportunity and respect for the dignity of all peoples. That is who we are; that is the source, the moral source of America's authority.

Since the days of Franklin Roosevelt and the service and sacrifice of our grandparents and great-grandparents, our country has borne a special burden in global affairs. We have spilled American blood in many countries on multiple continents. We have spent our revenue to help others rebuild from rubble and develop their own economies. We have joined with others to develop an architecture of institutions -- from the United Nations to NATO to the World Bank -- that provide for the common security and prosperity of human beings.

We have not always been thanked for these efforts, and we have at times made mistakes. But more than any other nation, the United States of America has underwritten global security for over six decades, a time that, for all its problems, has seen walls come down, and markets open, and billions lifted from poverty, unparalleled scientific progress, and advancing frontiers of human liberty.

For unlike the great powers of old, we have not sought world domination. Our union was founded in resistance to oppression. We do not seek to occupy other nations. We will not claim another nation's resources or target other peoples because their faith or ethnicity is different from ours.

What we have fought for, what we continue to fight for is a better future for our children and grandchildren. And we believe that their lives will be better if other peoples' children and grandchildren can live in freedom and access opportunity."

Amen, my brother. Amen.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sarah Palin is Going Backasswards: An American Tragedy

Sarah Palin kicked off her ludicrous, disingenuous book tour taking pot shots at President Obama's economic recovery plan "Backassward." And what is her suggestion for economic recovery?

Palin says "cutting taxes and allowing our small businesses to keep more of what they're earning."

Talk about "Backasswards." Apparently Pagliacci Palin hopes ALL OF US FORGET that cities, towns, and states nationwide are already broke, and cutting services and job with chainsaws to stay barely solvent. They're closing fire houses, assistance programs, police patrols, and training.

We're in the BIGGEST RECESSION since the 1930's, after 8 years of Disgraced President Bush "cutting taxes and allowing our small businesses to keep more of what they're earning." Perhaps Pagliacci Palin needs a new punchline.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Credit where its Due.

Playing Devil's advocate for a second, one has to acknowledge that President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize would not have been possible, were it not for the atrocious policies and actions of Disgraced President Bush. Lets face it: after eight years of ignoring... well morals, ethics, and common sense, not to mention the existence of other peoples, any improvement in US Policy- such actually talking with diplomats- must be seen as a huge step forward.

Congrats, Mr. Prez. I just can't imagine what you're going to do for an encore...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Boston Herald soils its already soiled reputaion

In yet another startlingly biased and misguided editorial, columnist Cal Thomas rails about disingenuous statements he alleges are made by the president, all the while peppering his column with his own, demonstrably disingenuous arguments.

If we believe the president when he promises there will be no “death panels,” does he lose honesty points when instead the government sends doctors who “counsel” the elderly about their “end of life options”?- Cal Thomas, Boston Herald 09/15/2009
Lets gloss over the fact that "death panels" were the invention of... let's just say a certain group of people who oppose health-care reform- I'll address it later.

What if the administration plans to bar illegal immigrants from purchasing health care coverage, but, as The New York Times [NYT] reported, continues to require hospitals to provide emergency treatment to illegal immigrants at taxpayer expense? -Cal Thomas, Boston Herald 09/15/2009
Apparently, despite the very humanitarian idea that hospitals must render emergency aid to whomever needs it, Mr. Thomas would rather all emergency patients have proof of citizenship before a nurse will let them through the door. You can read the whole disingenuous op-ed piece "No truth to set us free" here.

Well, I'd read about as much as I could stomach when I had to close the paper, until I realized that not only were other people reading it, but that there was a way to comment back to Mr. Thomas- online.

So I posted the following response in the comments section:

It's shocking to me that in an article about trust and disingenuous statements, Mr. Thomas makes so many disingenuous statements himself. Are "death panels" (which are solely the invention of opponents to health-care reform) the same thing as "providing counseling" to people who need it? They are not. The American Medical Association seems to think such counseling is good for people, so a specific benefit was to be included so people could get the counseling.

Is granting illegal immigrants health-care coverage the same as granting them emergency room care? It is not. Do Herald readers really want *anyone* bleeding to death on the doorstep of a hospital because they can't provide ID? So much for Americans being humanitarians.

Lastly, is Mr. Thomas *really* suggesting that the majority of Herald readers are too stupid to see these faults in his disingenuous arguments?

I'm afraid he is. But don't worry, Mr. Thomas, and Boston Herald; those of us who aren't that stupid will be ashamed not only of you, but *for* you.

I know he may never read it, but I do hope someone will, and realize what a bogus opinion Mr Thomas has foisted upon his unsuspecting, and apparently naive, readership. I urge you all reading this to add comments in whatever local paper Mr. Thomas' op-ed piece appears, has he is, for reasons passing understanding, a syndicated columnist.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A New Kind of Ignorance?

Back in the late 1970's, when I was all of eight years old, or so, President Jimmy Carter addressed the nation to discuss the oil crisis, and, specifically, ways we could conserve. Among his suggestions was the idea that we should delay turning on our furnaces until it actually got cold, (Mid October?) and turning them off as early as possible in the spring.

To this day, our family practices these, because the president asked us to.

Today, President Obama will give a speech to almost all of our nation's school children, calling on them to work hard, and take responsibility for their own education. In the speech, he cites his own and Michelle Obama's struggles to get ahead, and an education.

"Now I know it’s not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork.
I get it. I know what that’s like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn’t fit in."

He specifically names three students who, against tough odds and in a backdrop of difficult circumstances, have persevered through nothing less than willpower.

"Jazmin, Andoni and Shantell aren’t any different from any of you. They faced challenges in their lives just like you do. But they refused to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their education and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same. "

And he gives encouragement as well:
"Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide. "

And all we've heard for days, is that Republicans have been decrying the speech. They've beens saying everything from "Obama is going to indoctrinate our children in his socialist agenda" to "Obama is abusing his authority in speaking to students."

So the President has posted his prepared remarks for all to read on the White House Website, and there are still people, and worse, schools, who don't want the president to make the speech, or don't think he should be allowed to speak to kids.

What, exactly, do Republicans have against an authority figure like the President urging kids to stay in school and take responsibility for their education? What, exactly, do they have against a presidential address at all? Presidents George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan also made similar addresses in their time.

I think they have two objections:
  1. They object to students actually studying, because if they do, they'll be far less likely to support the obviously morally bankrupt policies of the conservatives and
  2. They object to a black man speaking to their white kids about education.
Go on- read the speech, and try to come up with another objection. I dare you. In the meantime, those of us who, you know, studied in school, and are free of racism, will quietly record this speech, and show it to our children.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Have you no sense of decency, sir?

I made the mistake of listening to a conservative AM Talk Radio show this morning, and was amazed and astounded by how evil these people are, and how stupid their audience is. I just don't know where to begin, but lets make a few quick observations:

1) Idiot Uneducated or Uninformed Repugnicans, instead of identifying themselves as "Republican," have begun calling themselves "Constitution Voters." This, despite the fact that "Constitution Voter" is how members of The ACLU refer to themselves. Let's leave off the obvious (I might even say howling) contradiction that most Repugnicans, and this caller in particular, supported the Patriot Act, which, in case some foolish repugnican is reading this, was the biggest curtailment of civil liberties since WWII.

2) Complaining about President Obama being given a "free ride" from the media is pretty shocking, considering that in his 8 catastrophic years in office, Disgraced President Dubya was never once asked, for example, why he couldn't pronounce "Nuclear." Or complete coherent sentences with any regularity.

3) Saying "the people aren't so stupid" as to "forgive or forget" President Obama's decisions/policies, overlooks the HUGE reality that the vast majority of thier listeners BOUGHT the fabrications of the Bush administration, such as WMD in Iraq, the institutionalizing of torture, the pardon of Scooter Libby, and the politically-motivated outing of CIA Agent Valerie Plame.

4) Talking about President Obama not doing any "big things" since coming into office shows just how desperate these scumbags are to cover up both his accomplishments and Bush's catastrophic policies... So let's have a look in-depth, before too much tiome goes by, and people begin to forget the reality they live in.

In Four (4) months, President Obama has done the following "Big Things:
Ordered feasible withdrawal from Iraq
Ordered the closing of Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp
Ordered that the US stop using torture
Restored funding for stem cell research
Removed the "Global Gag Rule" regarding abortion in foreign establishments
Began an economic recovery plan despite Repugnican opposition that continues to work

These are all "Big Things."

And lest we forget the Crimes of Disgraced President George W Bush, here is a partial list:

Instituted Torture as a US Policy
Invaded Iraq under false pretenses- and lied to the American Public
Asked for and signed the Patriot Act, curtailing American Civil Liberties
Approved a law making it legal to not only arrest US citizens, but extradite them to Guantanamo, and hold them WITHOUT TRIAL INDEFINITELY, without charges
Stated he was, as president, ABOVE THE LAW, which even in saying is an impeachable offense...
Pardoned Scooter Libby, even after being told his administration knew Libby lied to Congress about his outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame.

Apparently, these ridiculous pundits and not only overlook such crimes, but conveniently forget them. If I didn't have to go into work, you can bet I'd have called. It might even be worth going into work late for.

I've long been working on a theory that a person can't be Moral/Ethical, educated, informed and Republican all at the same time.


Monday, July 27, 2009

Goodbye, Sarah Palin. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Having lost lost her election bid, and seen the outgoing administration make asses of themselves by admitting the war they created was, in so many words, all a sham, the illustrious disgrace Sarah Palin not only faded quickly into obscurity, she abandoned her job as governor with more than a year left to her term.

Reasons cited for the departure included not wanting to put taxpayers through the continued circus of the investigations into her breaches of ethics codes, to save the taxpayers the money going into them, and safeguard the "successful administration" she's put together so it can continue to travel its "positive road to an incredible future."

Sarah Palin, who in her final speech speech said "Remember, I promised to steadfastly and doggedly guard the interests of this great state like that grizzly guards her cubs? As a mother naturally guards her own? And I will keep that vow wherever that road may lead..." also had an admonition to "the media:"

"You represent what could and should be a respected and honest profession, that could and should be a cornerstone of our democracy," she said. "Democracy depends on you, and that is why our troops are willing to die for you. So how about in honor of the American soldier you quit making things up?"

Sarah Palin, who said:
I told the Congress "thanks, but no thanks," for that Bridge to Nowhere.

"I'm very, very pleased to be cleared of any legal wrongdoing ... any hint of any kind of unethical activity there. Very pleased to be cleared of any of that." --Sarah Palin, after an Alaska legislative report found she had broken the state's ethics law and abused her power in the Troopergate scandal, conference call with Alaska reporters, Oct. 12, 2008

"Well, it certainly does because our -- our next door neighbors are foreign countries. They're in the state that I am the executive of. And there in Russia ... We have trade missions back and forth. We-- we do-- it's very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia as Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where-- where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is-- from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there. They are right next to-- to our state." --Sarah Palin, asked by Katie Couric how Alaska's proximity to Russia gives her foreign policy experience, CBS News interview, Sept. 24, 2008

"I have not, and I think if you go back in history and if you ask that question of many vice presidents, they may have the same answer that I just gave you." --Sarah Palin, after being asked if she had never met a foreign head of state, despite the fact that every vice president in the last 32 years had met a foreign head of state prior to taking office, ABC News interview, Sept. 11, 2008

"Let me speak specifically about a credential that I do bring to this table, Charlie, and that's with the energy independence that I've been working on for these years as the governor of this state that produces nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of energy." --Sarah Palin, misstating the actual amount of energy produced by Alaska, which is only 3.5 percent, Sept. 11, 2008

"You'll be there to defend the innocents from the enemies who planned and carried out and rejoiced in the deaths of thousands of Americans." --Sarah Palin, linking the Iraq war the 9/11 attacks while addressing U.S. soldiers shipping off to Iraq, Fairbanks, Alaska, Sept. 11, 2008

"Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending soldiers out on a task that is from God. That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God's plan." --Sarah Pailn, on the Iraq war, speaking to students at the Wasilla Assembly of God, June 2008

Sarah Palin is accusing the media of making stuff up? The same one who willfully lied repeatedly in her atrocious speech to the 2008 RNC? Who first promised to cooperate with investigations into her ethical misconduct, but who later refused when they started actually, you know, finding evidence?

We won't forget you, Mrs. Palin. And good riddance to you.

Thanks to:
About dot com Political Humor
CNN News Online
The Huffington Post
The LA Times
The Right is WRONG on MySpace

Friday, May 8, 2009


I don't know if this plan is in any way practical or feasible, but damn it sounds wicked cool!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Preparing for the next fight.

The easy part is done. Maine has passed a bill legalizing same sex marriage. The next step is to fight the inevitable challanges against the bill from fundementalist groups who have successfully challenged Maine's attempts to pass Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual Rights bills in the past. The good news of course is that there are plenty of legal precedents established that support the legality of gay marriage. State Supreme courts in Iowa, Massachusetts, and Connecticut for example have already ruled in favor of same sex marriage. If you live in Maine I'd also suggest a preemptive letter writing campaign supporting the new law. You may want to give Governor Baldacci a call to and let him know he's done the right thing. I'm sure he's getting a flood of hate calls, and he needs encouragement.

Also let me share some thoughts about religion and gay marriage. First off, nobodies going to force Catholics, Baptists and Pentecostal congregations to do same sex marriages if they don't want to. But let me point out to any and all sects that oppose same sex marriage, that their opposition is based on their personal interrpertation of the Bible, and thier own personal prejudices. Not every religion chooses to interpert the Bibile in such a fashion. There are plenty of religious sects, such as the Unitarians and the UCC that believe that same sex marriage is just fine. To oppose this law is to say that only certain interrpertations of the Bible are allowed, and that infringes on the religious liberties of others. Get that. There is NO WAY this law infringes on the religous liberties of opponents of same sex marriage. But to invalidate it would in fact infinge upon the liberties of those religous sexts that believe that same sex marriage is fine, and that I think is the best way to frame the debate.

If you wish to support the cause of civil liberties in Maine, I would strongly suggest making a donation to Equality Maine and help fight against bigotry.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Let Freedom Ring!

The Governor of Maine, John Baldacci, has signed a law legalizing gay marriage in that state. See an article here. I think this is great news, and look forward to the time when all of us, all our brothers and sisters, can have the same societal rights and protections granted by marriage.

Let freedom ring!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

How Politicos give Government a bad name

Two completely insane things are happening in Massachusetts politics and law right now.

The first is that several Attorneys General (including ours) are meeting with the poor CraigsList people to demand they stop allowing advertising for their "Erotic Services." This, in the wake a sensational local story of a handsome, soon-to-be-married Med Student who allegedly got some income and kicks from beating and robbing prostitutes and providers of "erotic massage" he contacted through Craigslist.

I find it shocking that anyone, but particularly someone as educated as our state AG must be, thinks that anyone can curtail an illegal activity through limiting the advertising of something that is completely legal. The illegal part can't be fixed through cutting the adds. As an example... I could easily offer sexual services to clients who contacted me for COMPUTER REPAIR, once we had met. ("Now that I've defragged your hard drive... I do offer a range of other services that involve my own hard drive...") I could also, very easily, be bound, beaten, and robbed by someone who had met me through my add for COMPUTER REPAIR. ("Thanks for coming to fix my hard drive. Stick 'em up!")

The problem isn't the add, the problem is (a) the prostitution and (b) the robbing, neither of which can be explicitly advertised on Craigslist. You really think these underground cultures and economies won't adapt to whatever situation arises from these meetings? You honestly think, for example, that a prositute won't simply start posting adds in the COMPUTER REPAIR sections offering, among other "services," "I'll defrag your hard drive!"

Craigslist specifically created the "Erotic Services" sections because of adds like this. People who really wanted to have thier computer fixed were having to slog through scores of tongue in cheek (among other places) adds in order to find techs to fix a PC. To say nothing of the people looking for erotic services or prostitutes to beat and rob having to take the chance that they might, in fact, have contracted a 45 year old computer geek with a tool bag and a thumb drive, instead an 18 year old blonde with an oral fixation.

Dude. This is a joke, and the salary these AGs are drawing while they worked on this idea and attended these meetings should be returned. There's no way the kind of action the AG's are looking for will in any way curtail the illegal activities they are seeking to curtail. They're just wasting everyone's time and money.

And what else? Right now, the Massachusetts DORSP Department of Revenue (and Screwing People), or DOR, for short, is suing a local Mass retailer. The case has now risen to the state supreme court. At issue is the state's contention that, since the retailer has stores in Mass, its should ALSO have charged Mass Taxes on Mass residents who made purchases from the retailer's "Tax Free New Hampshire" locations.

That's right- a New Hampshire retail store was supposed to charge Mass taxes to Mass residents who went to NH for tax free purchases.

The following issues immediately come to mind:
1) How exactly does the Mass DOR enforce a tax in NH?
2) Aren't there enough things for retailers to worry about, without them having to police customers?
3) Does that mean a company with stores in both states can charge no tax on NH residents who buy in Mass? What about stores based in states with higher tax rates, like New York?

No, this whole thing is a ludicrous exercise in grandstanding. The Mass SJC will have to concede that whoever owns the overall company, a brick-and-mortar retail store is bound by the laws in the state in which it resides. To force a company to collect different taxes on different customers is an insane idea. The SJC will also have to concede that people have a right to drive 100 miles to buy in "Tax-Free New Hampshire" and that this is just the way things sometimes work in a free society. NH faces different issues than Massachusetts, and they tackle them differently, apparently, than the Mass state legislature. That's the way things are.

I'd also like to point out that if, somehow, the SJC and our AG figure out a legal way to impose Mass law in other states, I'd demand they then apply that logic, and that legal setup, to Gay Marriage in California, and Mass Educational Standardards in Kentucky. Nevada should enforce its prostitution and gambling laws in Indianna and Utah. And California should export its Auto Emission Standards to all states, as well. After all, many people from all over the country sometimes drive there.

Because that's what we're talking about here.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Back from my trip to North Carolina and D.C.

Some thoughts on the Washington Metro System. The fare system can be a bit confusing to the uninitiated. Unlike some systems like New York and Boston were a ride is the same price no matter were you are going to, the DC metro charges you according to how far you've traveled. You price will also vary depending on the time of day your board and exit. This can introduce a lot of variables into the system. If you plan to make more then three stops during the course of a single day and don't want to do a lot of math, you're probably better off buying a day pass for the relatively modest price of $7.80.

On the positive side, trains are frequent even in off peak times, so you're not stuck waiting around on a platform for too long, and the trains pretty much travel to where you want.

Maine has caught TEH GAY!!!!!!!

Maine State senate approves Gay Marriage I was afraid we were going ot let Vermont and Massachussetts show us up. In your face New Hampshire!!!!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I'm sorry... what?!

Is this for real? Or is it some belated April Fool's joke?

Anyone? Beuller? Anyone?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Come again, Lamar?

You all should add this word to your online dictionary and personal word lists:


I use Repugnican to refer to Republicans because the things they do, say, and espouse are so repugnant to... well, everyone who can read. I'm currently working on a essay of sorts, that can be summed up like this:

"One cannot be educated, moral/ethical, rational, and republican, all at the same time." The vast majority of Repugnicans are either uneducated outright, or hugely misinformed. The very top ones, of course, are immoral (Rush Limbaugh) and irrational (Sean Hannity, Bill O'Riley). But this will have to wait for some further writing. The topic at hand today is the misinformed, and slightly irrational Lamar Alexander.

In a shocking series of events destined to be forgotten by the bulk of the voting public, assuming any of them noticed in the first place, the Repugnican Party has once again changed course and message in an obvious bid to screw America and line the pockets of their patrons.

This weekend, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn) gave the Repugnican Radio address, calling for "100 new nuclear power plants during the next twenty years" while simultaneously dismissing "subsidies for renewable energy from the sun, the wind and the earth." Apparently, we're all supposed to forget that the Repugnicans pretended real hard during the last election to care about "Renewable energy." Even that was quickly co-opted to (what is NOW referred to as) "finding more American energy" in the form of off-shore drilling and drilling in Alaska. Remember the thousands of uninformed, ignorant, and vacant-eyed Republican sheep chanting "Drill baby drill?"

Well that's not good enough, now. Now they want nuclear power plants- 100 of them- all over the country. The whole reason we *don't* have Nuke plants all over the country is because we're so afraid of what happens when the got wrong. Three Mile Island? Chernobyl? Anyone?

And let's not also forget the whole idea of not even *trying* to improve renewable energy, like Solar and Wind. heaven forbid we should get started *now* on building that future, what with nuclear so simple, easy, inexpensive, and perfectly safe. You, dear reader, have at some point been in a bind. You've run out of money, or gas, or food in the fridge. And what one thing do you think we have all learned from being in that bind? We plan ahead. We take steps now to prevent it form happening again.

We save some money.
We buy a jerry jug and keep it in the garage.
We buy some extra groceries.

We start on a solution NOW so we have something in place the next time a crisis hits.

But Repugnicans don't want us to do that. They, like the big American Auto makers for the last 40 years, don't want to look ahead. They don't want us to take steps to improve things now. They just want to make their money, and to hell with the rest of us. Our children can deal with a lack of oil. Our children can worry about gas prices. Our children can worry about polution from coal and expanded drilling tomorrow.

Our children can cope with 100 new possible nuclear melt downs. Because all that matters right now is big bucks for big lobbies.

In three and a half years, the Repugnicans will once again be willing to say "we're all for renewable energy... let's have some!" And as soon as that election is over, they'll do just as they have always done- just what they're doing now: toss all that rhetoric to the wind and screw us out of any real solutions.

They're calling us all dumb. You gonna stand for that?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Whither Goest Thou, Oh Globe?

Stories are flooding in from all over about the NYT's threat to close the Boston Globe if the paper's 13 unions don't agree to shave $20M from the operating budget. This, even despite years of cutbacks, staff cuts, and layout tweaks.

All of my life, my family has had a subscription to the Globe. And when I was a budding journalist, back when "reporting" meant the person nearest the opening of the cave grunted when the rain stopped, I aspired to working for the paper that, at the time, was the 3rd most important paper in the country.

And now it's at a crisis. The Globe has grown into a hugely respected and needed newspaper. Without the Globe's hard-hitting, in-depth, and well-written news, Boston will suffer a huge lack of depth in what many of us in the area still refer to as "The Hub." The Globe is an integral part of many people's news and entertainment ritual. When we want to get to the truth of an issue, we turn to the Globe to report it accurately, fairly, and fully. We turn to the Globe for entertainment- such as keeping track of what cultural events are happening around our fair city and state, and which movies are playing where, and whether we should see them.

I've had arguments with friends in the past, who actually said out loud that they preferred the Herald due to the shape/layout of the paper. Slightly less important to them, apparently, is the quality of reporting, or accuracy. Not for me. If the Globe says something, I know I can rely on it. I'd hate to lose something I've trusted for so many years.

So what are the options? Some of the ideas floated are, naturally, staff cuts and elimination of the seniority system, the end of lifetime employment guarantees, cuts in pay and benefits. But I'd like to propose some others as well.

The idea has already been mentioned by pundits nation wide, but the Globe should consider moving more of its content online... and charging a small fee for access. Yes, I know its a little risky, but the fact is people are already moving to on-line news sources- that's why the Globe's circulation is down- and if the Globe can offer some unique, as well as high-quality content, people will pay for it.

Consider that, nationwide, people support National Public Radio (NPR) because they can only get their quality reporting/features from NPR. This is a model that many other papers will likely have to adopt anyway- the Globe can set a new standard. And yes, I'd pay for it. (I also think they should consider raising thier subscription price- for what you get, you get a lot.)

The Globe not only has the best reporting in all the Northeast, they have they have the people in the streets to see and know what's going on before any other source. They've got the contacts, the savvy, and most important, they've got the clout. If we lose that (as a nation, mind you!) it would be a huge blow to the fourth estate. Our fourth branch of government has already been crippled by Fox News, Rupert Murdoch, and people like Rush Limbaugh. We can't allow this bastion of reporting integrity be shut down.

I hope the unions and the NYT parent company reach an accomodation, and I hope they also explore options for charging a small fee for online content. Of course, it also means there would have to be some kind of project to bring some more special (and I think older) content online. Think of all the years of microfiche that need to be digitized so we can look through ancient newspapers! But if it meant most of the organization stayed intact, it would be worth the effort.

The alternative, of course, is for us all to ahve to rely on only the tabloid, The Boston Herald, as our source if news, insight, and culture. I for one would prefer not to be forced to read a paper that's the local equivalent of Gomer Pyle. The last things Boston needs is a NASCAR track down town and a suddent infusion of gun racks. The increase in wet-t-shirt contests and "tramp stamps" might be diverting for a while... but I'd still like to know what's happening at the ICA.

Killing three birds with one... stone?

I have a modest proposal. Let's create a new Reality TV show called "To Catch a Pirate."

Rich, stupid, heavily armed Americans can RACE to see who can get their boats and weapons to a point just off the Somali Coast. Then, documentary style, our cameras would catch all the good-natured hyjinks as a motley crew of over stimulated, over caffeinated, spoiled gun nuts try to hunt down a bunch of emaciated, desperate hoodlums.

And of course, you'd have gunfire, boat races, competitions. Maybe the Pirate would even allow a camera to document their side. Or heck- they could even get their own spin off!

Its a win-win-win; We get a great new TV show; we get to ship a bunch of gun-toting nutjobs out of our country, and they get to duke it out "Buccaneer Style" with another bunch of gun-toting nutjobs. And we all get to laugh at the cooky hyjinks!


Thursday, April 2, 2009

What have I done?!

I... I was trying to do a good thing. Honestly.

I was trying to stay informed, and current, and... you know- be smart.

So when I heard someone was giving away free pocket copies of the Constitution, I thought "Hell, I've not had a pocket copy of the constitution since my college reporting days... I'll get one."

So I called the number, or signed up on the website- it was so long ago I can't remember. I meant well. A few weeks later, my copies arrived, and I was really pleased to have them. I've not even had a chance to look through the pocket Constitutions yet... more on that in a minute.

Well I'd given my name and address to the Heritage Foundation. The Heritage Foundation is an untra-conservative, bordering insane organization bent on humanity's destruction. I might be overstating this somewhat but consider this:

The Heritage Foundation supports, and is endorsed by, and is spoken for by, Sean Hannity. I'm now getting weekly mail from Sean Hannity. And he's asking me for money.

I had planned on writing a blog about some of this... but there's too much material. They've sent me a "Tax Increase Impact Survey" that is laugh-out-loud funny, if I wasn't so busy sobbing at how underhanded and evil they and thier "survey" are. Also a "Survey for Conservatives."

I'm trying to decide what will be more effective; answering them truthfully and sending them back, in the hope that I and others sane respondents will sway the results slightly, or simply gluing the Business Reply Envelope to a brick so they'll have to pay a ton in postage, and thereby cutting into the profits that would otherwise go into further ravaging the Constitution they recently sent me.

Come to think of it, I'd better read through that sucker. Lord knows what kind of creative "edits" they might have made in the constitutions they sent out. Heck- they didn't get to be one of the world's largest, most insane conservative organizations because thier contributors were SMART. Maybe they figure if they send out enough of these, they can get people to think the Second Amendment actually provides for the "right to shoot liberals..."

Stay tuned to this space for more updates regarding my Love Letters from Hannity.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Alternative Transportation

Today is the second day I used my bike to get to work. My job is about 19.4 miles from my house, so I cheat a little. I bike 2.8 miles, catch a bus, and then bike 2.9 miles to my office (all distances courtesey of Google Maps).

The ZOOM bus provides the crucial link between Portland and Biddeford for me. Sadly, like many other public transit agencies, they've been forced to cut back on services and raise their prices. Formerly it was $3.00 a ride, and $58.00 for a monthly pass. It's now $5.00 a ride and $80.00 a month, a considerable hike. They've also cut back a couple of runs. For example the last bus out of Biddeford used to be at 5:55, but that was eliminated, so if I miss the 5:35 bus, I have a long ride home ahead of me, or I can wait until 7:00 and take Amtrak back to Portland.

There may be sound financial reasons for cutting services and raising prices, but in any time, and especially a time of recession, the people it hurts most are the people who need it the most. My decsision to use the bus to get to work is a choice for me. I have a car, and I can afford to maintain it, but there are many who cannot, and these people shouldn't be penalized for not owning a car.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Can you follow the logic?

Another thing that really sticks in my craw is when someone with a voice- whether its a politician, a pundit, or a proll- posts, publishes or speaks something with gaping holes in logic. Conservatives are notorious for this, of course, and the less said of Rush Limbuagh, the better.

One reason this bugs me so much is that slipping mis- or disinformation into a discussion/news story/commentary is an insidious act. It not only shows a lack of respect for your audience, but demonstrates bad intentions. The disinformers are counting on listeners to be too stupid to notice the errors of logic. They NEED us to be stupid. Consider that, even now, nearly a decade later, there are STILL people who believe that Iraq had something to do with the 9/11 attack, and that was why we invaded Iraq. The continuous inplication (and outright lying) brainwashed millions of Americans, and some of the weak-minded still haven't figured it out.

But just today, one pundit posted a rather bizarre commentary on CNN. com that made me shout at my screen. Jack Cafferty is an outspoken and occasionally controversial commentator (I only know him from CNN, and loved all the coverage he gave to Sarah Palin).

I thought this might be a good time for a little game of "Spot the flaw in logic." If you can, then you might be ready to debunk some of the more conservative pundits, or "nutjobs," who use their positions of celebrity to influence the weak-minded.

Let's play!

In his blog posted on CNN today, Cafferty suggests that the war on drugs is not only failing, but actual insanity. He thinks "its time" we consider legalizing drugs. Now that's a valid opinion, and not without merit. Surely we can have a discussion about that. Lastly, lets not overlook the devils advocate option- that Cafferty is being deliberately provocative in his role as commentator and CNN contributor. Heck, if people don't go to CNN or watch the channel, he's out of a job, right?

We're not going to discuss the war on drugs here, we're looking at LOGIC or common sense.

Cafferty takes us through the following train of thought. You can read the whole text of course, and h makes a good case, but I'm providing bullet points here:

  1. "The United States is the largest illegal drug market in the world. And they're willing to pay big money to get it."
  2. "The drug suppliers are only too happy to oblige."
  3. They're everywhere: Anchorage, Alaska; Boston, Massachusetts; Atlanta, Georgia; and Billings, Montana. The Mexican drug cartels now have operations in 230 American cities.
  4. "They have been able to infiltrate those 230 cities because we have not bothered to secure our borders. "
Do you see the sudden left turn at the end there? You see how its not related to the above 3 statements? Even if there were NO MEXICO, there would still be people who want to buy drugs in Anchorage, Alaska and Boston, Massachusetts, and people willing to sell it to them.

The border doesn't have ANYTHING to do with the drug war; its just means the players are different.

Did drugs enter those 230 cities ONLY since the Mexican Cartels started peddling them there? Or has there been drugs there before. Have we not had books, movies, news and (god save us) commentary on "drugs in the big city" since... well since we've had cities? Does anyone remember Scarface? The French Connection? Does anyone think that if, by some miracle, the Mexican Cartels decided to close up shop, there wouldn't be some other player to step in the very next day?

Cafferty writes: "Someone described insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result each time." [Editors Note- it was Albert Einstein] One such example of insanity is blaming all our troubles on others, or, specifically, blaming all our troubles on "the border."

Close all the borders you want, Mr Cafferty. The people will still buy, the dealers will still deal, and someone will still find a way to get the stuff into the country. Mr Cafferty's argument has a lot of merit, but when I run into a stumbling block like that, my brain screeches to a halt as I try to reconcile an otherwise cogent argument with the infusions of insanity some pundits include.

Dear Pundits:
Every time you make a ludicrous argument, every time you try to pervert the truth, I'll be there to poke a hole in your little fantasy. I refuse to be stupid. I refuse to allow the people around me be stupid, and I plan on calling you out each and every time you try to slip something like this past us.

And stop peddling false solutions and preying on the fears of the weak-minded.

Who cares what YOU say?

Not every post is going to have the kind of polish on it I'd like. Sometimes I just shoot from the hip.

Dear Everyone:

Who cares what the stock market did today? I mean, as far as whether the stock market "likes" a policy or little bit of news. Obviously, the investors care, but for the vast majority of the rest of us, the stock market not liking something is not news.

Its all bull-pucky. It always has been. Of course the stock market is going to react badly to proposed investing reform... Does the stock market not liking the reforms mean that:

  • a) we shouldn't have reforms?
  • b) the reforms are a bad idea?
  • c) the stock market wants to keep making money and doesn't want people to see how much or... how it makes money?
For those of you who actually work in stocks and finance, the answer is "c." And this kind of crap happens with... everything. "Investors got skittish yesterday when the president suggested improving auto emission standards." "The Dow Jones tumbled this morning when the Sheriff of Nottingham said he'd like people to stop robbing widows on street corners." "The stock market tanked today when someone somewhere suggested we stop eating babies."

Who fucking cares? The stock market goes UP when the powers that be talk about any form or deregulation, war, and cutting taxes. It goes DOWN when they talk about ANYTHING that's actually good for us. (We can debate whether cutting taxes are good in a later discussion.) Where's the news?

If we all decided, today, that from now on all cars had to use a certain fuel... should we really give a crap if NASCAR drivers complained that the fuel didn't give them the same horsepower? No. We'd tell them to shut the heck up. They can still drive their engines and make their money, we're just asking them to do it in a way not as detrimental to the rest of us. (Note to financiers: this is a blatant metaphor for your stock market!)

The market, like every other business, or more specifically, like every other CORRUPT and evil business, only cares about itself; perpetuating and enriching itself at the expense of the rest of us. So when, five times a day, I hear that "the market reacted badly to..." or "investors are uncertain about" I want to shout at the radio, or the TV, or the internet "TOUGH SHIT- its NOT NEWS!!"

Having spent my entire life at the feeding end of capitalism (a phrase readers of this blog are going to have to get used to), I can tell you that I'm pretty sure the entire concept of a stock market ought to be rethought. Or abolished. But that will be a subject for another blog.

In short, please stop thinking that the stock market's opinion of anything should in any wat influence anything at all. Its all a bunch of bullshit.

Monday, March 30, 2009

"The End is Nigh"

... No, this isn't going to be an reference to the movie "The Watchmen," which featured a character carrying a sign bearing the words "The End is Nigh."

Its a reference to GM and Chrysler.

Today the Obama administration has effectively ousted the CEO of GM, Rick Wagoner, citing that the company's restructuring plans, presented by Wagoner, were not sufficient to make the company viable in the future. There are stories in all the usual places, but I read the Wall Street Journal here and found the story really... shocking. Perhaps I've been avoiding thinking about the broader realities of the economic downturn because like many, I've been affected by cutbacks. But after reading all the stories today (the WSJ, NYT , BBC, and CNN) I have to say... the end IS Nigh.

I feel terrible that these two companies have reached such a state, and am fully aware (or at least think I am) of some of what might follow if the companies are allowed to fail. But they have failed.

Don't forget, if you're reading this, its likely that you, too, have lived through the 70's gas shortage. And the introduction and proliferation of Toyota and other import cars- Subaru, Kia, and Hyundai. Maybe you've forgotten, but I haven't forgotten the days when a Toyota was a piece of plastic junk that my grandmother scoffed at as she drove her huge Pontiac to church, just down the street. I have personally witnessed the changes in in cars since the 1970's- the drive to smaller, more efficient, more economical cars fostered mainly by companies like Toyota.

I mean, Toyota changed their cars to better suit the American market, while still producing better, more economical cars. Thier cars got bigger, and more robust, while still being smaller and more efficient than thier US-made counterparts.

What has GM been doing in the last 40 years? I've watched as GM made token efforts to appeal to people who wanted more efficient, smaller cars, and churned out MORE and BIGGER cars each year; the Chevy Suburban, the Hummer, the Escalade? Who goes off-road in an Escalade. I know- people BOUGHT them, so GM kept making them. Some part of the blame rests on conumers like me, and not just GM and Chrysler. (As an aside, some of my friends might like to throw these statements back in my face, but I still prefer American cars, I still intend to buy American. We'll see.)

GM's answer to the Toyota Prius- a brilliant and great (50mpg) car that even I, the corpulent (to put it nicely) Vox Populi, can fit into- was the Chevy Tahoe, "Hybrid taken to its logical extreme" at 22mpg?! The bigger is always better attitude is still at GM 40 years later. To say nothing of the whole misuse of the phrase "logical extreme."

The last thing I want is for these companies to fold. But I'm afraid it might be better for all of us, in the long run, if they did. They didn't work. They failed as buisnesses, and they failed us as citizens by not changing with the times. If Dell today were, for example, still trying to sell 80386 machines with 64MB of RAM... well how well would they be doing right now? They wouldn't.

And no, I haven't forgotten that they can't exactly change the factories and tooling overnight. But its been 40 years. WE ALL SAW THIS COMING, and if they (as companies) didn't, well then they deserve to be closed. The comapny executives failed to change the direction of the company, the stockholders demanded too much profit, and not enough was reinvested in the company, the union workers failed to notice that if the company failed, they'd all be out of work... the whole thing failed.

I'm still sugar-coating my writing here, because I really feel for these companies, their workers, and all of us who will be affected by the results of all those people out of work...

But I think it's going to have to happen.

I grew up in GM cars. I've slept in the back seat of more Buicks and Pontiacs than... well, than I've slept in hotel rooms. I bought my current car (a Buick!) not because it was most efficient (go ahead and mock me) or was the best fit for my large size (though it was), but because after test driving 7 cars from all over the world, the Buick changed gears when I expected it to: it "felt right."

That has been enough for many of us to keep buying US cars. But no more. I'm just as likely to buy the wrong car for the wrong reasons as anyone, and so I'm just an ordinary consumer just like everyone else. But right now, the writing on the wall seems to suggest the time is up for GM and Chrysler, and as I read the words, my heart answers...

"Yeah, I think it is."

Friday, March 20, 2009

No lack of consequences this time!

Most of us have been affected by the current economy in various ways, and I'll spare you the expected sob stories or diatribes. However, one thing that's always bothered me was a lack of consequences for a lot of white collar or political... crimes. CEO's (or political hacks) run a company (or our country) into the ground, lose billions in investor money, cost hundreds of people jobs (both directly and indirectly)... and then walk away rich and do it all over again at some other company or government agency. Who hires people who do that? Who works with them, or the companies they go on to represent?

I think its great that disgraced Attorney General Alberto Gonzales can't get a job, but SHOCKED that Donald Rumsfeld and John Ashcroft, who went into business for themselves, have found people willing to pay for their services... That's just wrong. (As an aside, if you're reading this, I think all references to disgraced former Attourney General Alberto Gonzales should ALWAYS be written "Disgraced Atourney General Alberto Gonzales," so that his name will forever be associated with disgrace. Are you with me?)

Well, maybe their days of ease are over. The New York Times is reporting that people known to be associated with, among other companies, AIG, are being publicly scorned and in some cases even threatened, due to the behaviors of the company they work for.

Here are some quotes from that story:
>The Connecticut Working Families party, which has support from organized labor, is planning a bus tour of A.I.G. executives’ homes on Saturday, with a stop at the company’s Wilton office.

>“We’re going to be peaceful and lawful in everything we do,” said Jon Green, the director of Connecticut Working Families. “I know there’s a lot of anger and a lot of rage about what’s happened. We’re not looking to foment that unnecessarily, but what we want to do is give folks in Bridgeport and Hartford and other parts of Connecticut who are struggling and losing their homes and their jobs and their health insurance an opportunity to see what kinds of lifestyle billions of dollars in credit-default swaps can buy.”

I think its GREAT that there's enough public outcry that we can finally bring a sense of shame to the very people who have been ripping us all off for so long. We should bring back Ostracism!

To quote from the above link:
Ostracism (Greek: οστρακισμός ostrakismos) was a procedure under the Athenian democracy in which a prominent citizen could be expelled from the city-state of Athens for ten years. While some instances clearly expressed popular anger at the victim, ostracism was often used pre-emptively. It was used as a way of defusing major confrontations between rival politicians (by removing one of them from the scene), neutralizing someone thought to be a threat to the state, or exiling a potential tyrant. Crucially, ostracism had no relation to the processes of justice. There was no charge or defence, and the exile was not in fact a penalty; it was simply a command from the Athenian people that one of their number be gone for ten years.

They don't have to commit a "crime." They don't have to be "in power." And there doesn't have to be any trial. Enough of us have to agree that some people ought not to be allowed to live among us. How beautiful is that? I have a potsherd here with Alberto Gonzales' name already scratched on it...

More from the NYT Story:
>Others in A.I.G.’s neighborhood were clearly angry. Tamara King, an immigration specialist at a health care company whose office is adjacent to the A.I.G. quarters, said she feels disgust each time she walks past it.

"You don’t want to associate with them because it’s not a reflection on the state, it’s not a reflection on us," she said. But she added, “You have so many people out of a job, and these people think they can take the money and run." [Italics mine]

I don't think any of us should want to associate with people like that, Ms. King.

It is unfortunate that some people working for these companies who are innocent of any real wrongdoing are being ostracized, and I certainly don't condone threats to a person or (can you believe it?) their children, but I can surely get behind a group of people standing in front of the house of an AIG exec with sign protesting their actions, policies, and arrogance. How is that exec going to explain a peaceful protest to his/her daughter? Night after night? Sure, they'll probably lie to her too, but the idea is making bad people feel ashamed of having done bad. Its one of the few motivators we as a society have left to dissuade people from committing certain crimes?

After all, if they get thier kicks from driving out of thier long driveway in thier long white limo, how much satisfaction will there be if, instead of envy, they are greeted with jeers and tomatoes? And the important bit is that they know they've done something wrong. They can't hide behind anonymity (like drug dealers), or ambiguity, because these are prominent people who aspire to status. I think a lot fewer of these scumbags will behave this way if they fear they'll be stripped of thier right to strut if we all know how they got thier money...

I'll be the first to say that this kind of... direct personal protest is problematic. Throughout history, this kind of protest was what we now call persecution- think Witch trials or pogroms- but I also think that our society is sorely missing a much-needed sense of responsibility for...well, everybody.

I want a national database of where disgraced former Bush Administration officials are working today, so we can all avoid doing business with those companies, and the companies that still do. I want to know who thinks its a great idea to hire a CEO who's made billions while effectively burning down the house we live in. And I want enough of us to vote with our pocketbooks, and stop giving our money to companies who support people whom they ought to be ashamed to associate with. If they're not... we won't give them our business.

Let's bring back some form of ostracim. Our first nominees can be anyone from AIG who took, and kept, a ludicuos "bonus" after we taxpayers bailed out the company they ran into the ground, to the detriment of us all.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Support Hilda Solis

The Republicans has been holding up the nomination of Hilda Solis for Secretary of Labor, because, well because she has experience with labor from the inside. Kos has the details. This morning I used the link provided from Daily Kos to send my senators an email to vote for cloture, and then to give Solis an up or down vote. When I got back from lunch I saw that the senate had in fact voted on cloture and will be giving a final confirmation vote at 4:30 this afternoon.

Since Snow and Collins both voted for cloture I can only say that my name on the email must have carried some clout. I've always wanted to be a behind the scenes power broker.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

More Heinus Fuckery from my senator

Maine is a poor state, and the winters are cold, and a lot of people need some extra help to keep their homes heated. So where was my senator when the removed provisions for home heating assistance?

The most infuriating thing is that she'll be praised by the local papers for her 'moderation' tomorrow.

Absolutely Outrageous

The 'moderate' senator Susan Collins was instrumental in killing a clause in the stimulus package that would have provided protections for Federal workers who who blew the whistle on misused funds in the package. This is appalling especially given that Collins is also the ranking Republican for the Senate Oversight Committee.

This shouldn't come as any surprise given that when the Republicans controlled congress, she was the chair of that committee and was near legendary in her ability to look the other way while billions in tax payer money was shipped to Iraq and handed over to contractors with little or no accountability.

Collins is a disgrace and as a resident of Maine I'm especially galled that this crook won reelection last year against Tom Allen, who has a reputation for being scrupulously honest. I don't mind using the people's money in a time of crisis to try to fix that crisis, but I want to make damned sure it is going to boost the economy, and not line some dishonest assholes pocket.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Obama and the GOP play 'chicken' and the GOP Lost

For the first time in my life I took an active interest in the passage of a bill namely the 'stimulous' package that was passed in the House yesterday. I watched C-span and watched the votes tally, and watched as not a single Republican voted for the bill.

It has been widely reported in the media that Obama has talked repeatedly to GOP leaders in an effort to reach out to them on compromise. It has been widely reported in the media about how the bill has been 'watered down' to appease Republicans.

And therin lies the seeds of Obama's victory. IT WAS WIDELY REPORTED!!!!! Every Dick, Jane and Sally on the street now know that efforts were made by the Democrats to reach out to the GOP and when vote time came, despite these provisions the bill passed witout ONE. SINGLE. REPUBLICAN. VOTE.

The Republicans, under full media scrutiny have just demonstrated that they are totally redundant. The next time that Congress needs to take up a bill of national importance (like say, health care reform) they now know that they can do so without having to worry about major obstructionism from Republicans, and the Republicans have no one to blame but themselves.

For years the Republicans have defined 'bipartisanship' as 'giving us our way all the time'. They will not compromise, they will not find consensus. Our way or the highway. This is precisely the attitude that caused them to lose ground in 2006, 2008, and in all likelihood, 2010 as well.

The bill that passed was a compromise bill, things were give up by the Democrats in order to appease Republicans, and they still wouldn't play ball. And the whole country watched them as they behaved like petulant spoiled children instead of statesmen, and in the process have handed Obama a major victory in the Court of Public Opinion.

Monday, January 26, 2009

So much for Obama's meeting with Right Wing wankers

Ok, so Obama met with some prominent conservatives over lunch to try to win them over to the stimulous plan. As expected they wasted no time in shit canning the whole plan. The wankers need to understand two things:

1. Bipartisanship means not having your way all the time. It's a two way street, and they can't block liberal measures forever.

2. THEY LOST, and WE WON, they never bothered to consult with the Democrats (and especially never talked to liberals) when they made policy, and sooner or later the Democrats are going to wise up to the fact that they don't even need the conservative votes to pass legislation.

One further observation, a lot of liberals like myself bemoan the fact that Obama seems trying just a little too hard to make nice with the conservatives. Well yes, and it's been widely promoted in the press. He's playing chicken with them, daring them to compromise, and it's an easy win for him. They won't compromise, and they end up looking like the complete dicks that they are, and when the Democrats start passing legislation without 'consulting' the opposition, the GOP will get no sympathy from a public who have already been told what a great efforts been made to 'reach out' to them.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

President Barak Hussein Obama

It feels right. The country is in good hands now, so I'll be watching what happens in the next month or so with great interest.

ON a less euphoric note, I'll just put it up front. I hate cars. I hate driving. I hate paying for gas, I hate paying for insurance, and I hate trying to find a place to park. Cars are not liberating, they have not given us the freedom to go where ever we want whenever we want. They are expensive, dirty, and take up a lot of space. My dream is to live in a place and have a job were public transportation negates the need for a car.

This rant brought to you by the pin-headed gas attendant at the Irvings who made it all but impossible for me to cash in my Shaws gas coupons.

I can be so petty sometimes.

So here's hoping to a Stimulus Package that includes lots of public transportation improvements.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Feeling Good

I am so over Bush.

I am so ready for Obamarama!

It feels good. It feels really good.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Elizabeth R

This is less a post about partisan politics as an observation on the nature of politics, in the form of a Review of the first episodes of the 1971 mini-series 'Elizabeth R' starring Glenda Jackson.

First let me say up front that Glenda Jackson is by far the sexiest Elizabeth I've ever seen portrayed. She gives Elizabeth a feirce intellegence and independent spirit that is very compelling. I should also note that Jackson does this without making Elizabeth a jarring anachronism of modern attitudes. Her Elizabeth is very much a woman of her time.

What struck me about the first episode is how the writers avoided creating simple black an white situation where the heroic Elizabeth combats her evil sister 'Bloody' Mary Tudor. Refreshingly, Mary is portrayed without prejudice, even with sympathy as a woman sincere in her desire to bring England back to Catholocism, but who lacks the diplomatic and political skills to win over the people or the most powerful men of the realm who could help her affect the changes she wants.

Elizabeth in contrast is persuasive, careful, and never burns any bridges with anyone who might be useful to her in the future, even the jailers who throw her in the tower. Even when her position is tenuous she carefully builds alliances, and never says anythign that could inciminate her.

This sets up a clear deliniation between the idealistic, but innefectual Mary, verses the more pragmatic Elizabeth.

I'm keen to continue with the series and see how Elizbeth deals with Mary, Queen of Scots.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

T Ridership is up.

The Boston Globe reports that despite the drastic drop in gas prices over the last four months, public transit ridership is still up. In fact there's been an overall increase in ridership numbers in the last quarter across the country.

In a way I think this confirms my theory that the people who bitch loudest about how unnecessary public transportation is, are the ones who have never actually used it. People who started using transit in the summer during the price spike, have continued to use it even when gas is cheap again. You don't have to fight traffic, pay exorbarant parking fees, and you have the chance to relax, and read the paper, or a good book you've been putting off, and sip a comforting warm beverage while riding the bus/train to work.

This was my experience during the periods that I have relied on public transportation, and these conveniences for me and so it seems for other people, out weighed the slight extra time it might take to get to work.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Conspiracy Afoot?

Well, Al Franken has been certified the winner of the Minnesota Senate Election. Despite this, he is not in Washington right now to be sworn in with the other seanators due to Coleman's threatened lawsuit against the results, despite not having a leg to stand on.

About two years ago, I had heard Franken in an interview on NPR (before he was a declared candidate) say that if he did run and if he did get elected, he'd try to get a quickie impeachment trial against George Bush going before Bush left office.

Perhaps Coleman's delaying tactics have less to do with trying to regain his seat, then to keep out of jail. Currently he's the subject of an ethics investigation, and perhaps in exchange for a Bush pardon, he'll try to keep Franken out of the senate long enough for Bush to leave town.

Mind you this is nothing more then paranoid speculation. But it's how I have fun.

Monday, January 5, 2009

A bit of a gap

Just noticed that it has been exactly a month since my last post. I'd appologize to my readers if I had any.

The good Liberal takes the bus

Suzanne and I wanted to see a movie Saturday night, and she was working in town, so rather then take two cars in town I checked the bus schedule, and caught the bus down town to meet her.

While my schedule doesn't allow me to take public transportation all the time, I do feel that at the very least I have an obligation to use public tranportation when my schedule allows it.

Besides that, it's not just a duty, it's fun. For me anyway. I'm a people person, I like to people watch. And I hate driving. And I especially hate trying to find a place to park in downtown Portland. I also have the luxury of having two bus routes pass near my house both heading to city center. There is the Six Bus and the Seven Bus. I opted for the six bus because it got into town a little sooner and I wanted do some errands before meeting Suzanne.

As it turned out it was a nice day for a walk around the Monument Square section of Portland. The bus got me there about 4:05, so I had nearly an hour to kill before Suzanne got off work.
I had some bills to mail out so I popped over to the Post Office on Congress Street. Then I hoofed over to Casablanca Comics to see if they had the third volume of DMZ. As it turns out they didn't have a copy dammit. Finally a trip over to City Hall to use the ATM, and then over to the library to meet Suzanne.

This is why I'm a fan of population density within reason. This all took place within a one block radius of downtown Portland. I didn't have to waste gas to get there, and got some badly needed exercise. Sadly we never did get to the movies, but we did have a nice sandwich at O'Naturals which is basically a restaurant that serves healthy, organically grown fast food, with the added benefit in that they also serve beer. Top that McDonalds.