Wednesday, January 21, 2009

CamObamalot Day 1

Eventually I'll dispense with the bullet points, but there are a lot of things going on that I feel like talking about and I just don't have enough faith in my writing abilities to put them into paragraph form.

- First off, I learned a lot from the inauguration festivities yesterday. For example, in his speech, President Obama said we were going to restore science to its rightful place. What a relief that is. Finally, people will stop going to faith healers to have their humors balanced and will start going to hospitals. Our shipping industry will no longer have to fear sailing off the edge of the world; and we can stop executing people for saying that the earth isn't the center of the universe. It's days like this that make me truly proud to be an American.

I also learned -- or rather, had it confirmed -- that modern poetry is absolute garbage. The poem that was read was hands-down the worst poem I've ever heard that wasn't written by a hormonal adolescent girl.

    What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.

Buh? Preempt grievance? What does that even mean? Don't think about it too hard, lest you get a nosebleed.

Personally, I thought the benediction given by Rev. Lowery was much more poetic.

    ...we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around ... when yellow will be mellow ... when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right.

That's something else I learned. I had no idea that, as a white person, I hadn't been embracing what was right. All these years I thought my respect for the rule of law, my judgment of people by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin, my desire for justice, etc., were all good things to embrace. Apparently I was mistaken. I aim to improve that. And really, what better way to kick off a supposedly post-racial era than by playing the race card in a benediction? Color me hopeful.

Also, why did Rev. Lowery stop there? There are plenty of colors that he left out. Thus, my friends and I came up with some on our own. We also plan to work for the day when:

    Taupe will have hope. When lilac gets its groove back. When tan will be the man. When gray will show us the way. When beige will no longer rage. When buff will be the stuff. When burnt sienna will be a winna. When pink will be in sync. When brick red will no longer be a dickhead. When jade will have it made. When onyx won't go into histrionics. When indigo will be in the know. When aquamarine won't be obscene. When smalt we will exalt. When teal keeps it real. When azure will be pure. When wheat can't be beat. When bronze will be like the Fonz. When fallow won't be shallow. When ocher won't be mediocre, and when rust will be just.

- I was pleasantly surprised by the Daily Show's handling of the whole thing. I actually laughed quite a bit at their self-depricating humor. At least they admit being completely in the tank.

- It never ceases to amaze me, the amount of sheer hatred directed at now-former President Bush. The response he got when he walked out for the inauguration -- the boo's, the people chanting "na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye" and whatnot -- was completely classless and unworthy of a man who has spent the last eight years as the leader of our country. I hate to beat a dead horse or give the impression that it's just sour grapes, but seriously. I suspect that liberals would be howling just as loud if Barack Obama were to be subjected to a fraction of the personal animosity that President Bush endured for the better part of the last decade.

- When I predicted that the Dow was drop below 8,000, I really didn't expect that to happen as soon as Inauguration Day.

- It's Obama's first full day in office, and here are the highlights of his actions so far:

    *Postponed the trials of Guantanamo Bay detainees for 120 days.

    *Loosened FOIA regulations on the Bush administration.

    *Instituted a pay freeze on his top staff.

    *Instituted new rules for lobbyists and transparency in government.

Strictly item by item, I'm in favor of about half of those things. But given a weighted score (the pay freeze isn't equal in gravity, I believe, to the postponement of the trials) I'm probably in favor of about 20 percent of it. Just for what it's worth. I'm curious to see if he sticks by his promise for openness in government. I don't see it ending well. Granted, that supposes that the media in this country will actually do its job, which it hasn't in two years. So nevermind.

- I wonder if Peggy Joseph has heard from President Obama regarding her gas tank and mortgage payments.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Pre-inauguration thoughts

- On the subject of Senate appointments: Roland Burris has every right to be seated as the Senator from Illinois. When he was appointed, Gov. Rod Blagojevich had not been impeached and still had all legal authority as governor. The fact that he was a sleazeball arrested on charges of corruption are legally irrelevant. That said, Senate Democrats totally wussed out of their ultimatum. Originally they had said that they would not seat anyone appointed by Blagojevich, apparently hoping it would deter him from making an appointment. Well, it turns out Blago has bigger, uh, hair, than Harry Reid. Not terribly surprising.

As for Caroline Kennedy, much has been made of her qualifications -- or lack thereof -- to be Senator of New York. Personally, I think Caroline Kennedy has exactly the same qualifications to be a New York Senator as Hillary Clinton did. Which is to say, well, none whatsoever. Hillary Clinton was born in Illinois, served as First Lady of Arkansas and then First Lady of the U.S. She didn't even live in New York until a little more than a year before the election. What part of that qualifies her to be Senator of New York? Caroline Kennedy at least has the advantage of being born in the state she wants to represent. Granted, given the whole Elliot Spitzer debacle, Charlie Rangel's tax problems, and Chuck Schumer's general douchebaggery, it doesn't seem the voters of New York particularly care about the qualifications of their representatives. They get what they deserve, as far as I'm concerned.

There's also the whole idea that Barack Obama's seat must be filled by a black man, and that Clinton's seat must be filled by a woman. Now, I know that identity politics is a staple of liberal ideology, but come on. Isn't that a little silly? When the voters of Illinois elected Barack Obama, were they voting for Barack Obama or "the black guy?" Likewise, with Hillary Clinton, were voters voting for Hillary Clinton, or the white woman with the last name of a former president?

- I wonder what the Daily Show is going to be like Post-Bush. They've spent the last eight years doing Bush-is-dumb, Cheney-is-evil jokes. I'm curious to see what angle they take on Obama, and if they can stop fellating him long enough to crack a joke.

- Why is it that when President Bush has a $40 million inauguration, the media decries it as a tasteless indulgence during wartime; but when Barack Obama has a $170 inauguration during an economic recession, they're so giddy because, OMG Beyonce!!!!1!11!

- I hope Republicans/conservatives give more respect to Barack Obama than liberals gave to President Bush. I didn't vote for Barack Obama, but I'm not going to claim he's not my president. I'll support him when I agree with him, and I want his administration to be a successful one. Unfortunately, my definition of success includes lower taxes, smaller government, a strong national defense, sound fiscal policy and in general a more responsible government. Given that Obama's talking of trillion-dollar deficits, having diplomatic talks with Iran and Venezuela, bailing out the auto industry, etc., he's not off to a good start.

- Speaking of the auto bailout, the idea of it infuriates me. If I wanted GM and Chrysler to have my money, I would've bought a car from GM or Chrysler. To have the government take my tax dollars and give it to a failing business is mind-boggling.

- On a totally unrelated note, I'm looking forward to Conan being on an hour earlier in a couple of months. I just hope he doesn't screw with the show too much. I also have to wonder if he'll keep the Max Weinberg 7. And if he does, what will Kevin Eubanks do with his band?

- I'm already counting down to the next football season. Luckily, spring training starts soon. That'll give me something to do to pass the time.

- So apparently there's a possibility that there's life on Mars. I've never understood the belief that Earth is the only planet in the universe that supports life. If the entire universe is subject to the same laws of physics, it doesn't make sense to me that there WOULDN'T be life on other planets. That's like life existing in California, and then being surprised to find that there is also life in New York. But that's just my non-scientist opinion.

- Is it too early to start campaigning for Bobby Jindal in 2012?

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I'm back, with predictions

Yeah, so I kinda took a seven-month hiatus from blogging. Sorry about that. Long story short, things got a little crazy and blogging got relinquished to the back burner. The way way way way back burner. It actually got taken off the burner completely. But I digress.

Anyway, it's one of my New Year's resolutions to get back into the habit of writing. So I'll do the best I can to blog more regularly, i.e. at least once a week, about the various happenings that raise my ire. Given the incoming administration, that shan't be a problem.

Just a few passing thoughts on recent events before I get to my predictions for 2009.

First up, Chip Saltsman. For those uninitiated, Chip Saltsman is running for Chairman of the Republican National Committee. He recently got himself into a little P.R. trouble for distributing a Christmas greeting that included a comedy CD that included a song of an impersonated Al Sharpton singing about "Barack the Magic Negro."

Now, I've heard the song several times. Rush Limbaugh plays it on his show with some regularity. There is nothing racist about it. It makes more fun of Al Sharpton and the L.A. Times (the paper in which the term "Magic Negro" originally appeared) than it does Barack Obama. The race between some Republicans to see who can be the most offended in the least amount of time was pretty embarrassing. Some were "shocked and appalled." There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. It was pathetic. If there's one problem with the current Republican party, it's the complete lack of backbone and utter willingness to shamelessly pander to any and every interest group.

That said, Chip Saltsman is a moron for associating himself with it. I'm as politically incorrect as the next guy, don't get me wrong. But I'm not running for Chairman of the RNC. When someone is trying to become the leader of an entire political party -- a political party with the recent misfortunes of the Republicans, no less -- it would help if they weren't absolutely politically tone deaf. Is the song racist? Any fair-minded, rational person would conclude that it is not. Should people lighten up and be able to take a joke? Absolutely. However, it's reasonable to assume that people might be offended by a white guy distributing a CD by another white guy impersonating a black guy that prominently uses the word "negro." The Republicans will have no chance of winning new voters if their time is ostensibly dedicated to saying to those voters "Oh come on! I was just kidding! Can't you take a joke?!" Moreover, it's simply unbecoming of a man seeking an office with so much responsibility. So, Chip, you're done. Thanks for playing. NEXT!

On to Cynthia McKinney. Personally, I was surprised she was still alive. I thought I'd heard something about her being mauled to death by a pack of rabid raccoons. Maybe that was just a dream I had. At any rate, I cannot effectively put into words the rage this woman brings out of me. She continues to be an embarrassment to her state, her country, and human beings in general. Actually, I'll go a step further. She's an embarrassment to all land mammals. Even the three-toed sloths of the world don't want to be associated with such a race-baiting anti-Semite. But again I digress.

Ms. McKinney was apparently incensed that her boat was turned away while trying to deliver aid to Gaza in the midst of the current military operation going on there. She also seemed bewildered that Israel was using weapons produced in America, and called on President-elect Obama to "say something about the humanitarian crisis that is being experienced by the Palestinian people, by the people of Gaza" and "discontinue the transfer of weapons of mass destruction used by Israel."

Right. Just a couple of points. First, did it ever occur to Ms. McKinney that Israel might object to an unchecked civilian ship sailing into a war zone? I suspect it did not. I mean, what's the worst that could happen, right? Second, this might come as news to Ms. McKinney, but Israel is actually an American ally. Allies generally share weapons. As far as the "Weapons of mass destruction" claim, the only difference between the weapons used by Israel and those used by Hamas is that Israel's weapons actually work. Unfair, I know. Third, I don't know what she expects President-elect Obama to say. To my knowledge, he's never taken a firm stand on much of anything, let alone one of the most volatile issues in politics. But she can dream, can't she?

Anyway, on to my predictions for 2009:

- Obama's approval rating will be below 50 percent.

- The auto companies will receive a bailout, won't restructure themselves, and will continue to lose money to each car they make.

- Benjamin Netanyahu will become Prime Minister of Israel and will take out Iran's nuclear facilities after Iran announces it has manufactured a nuclear weapon.

- The House Republicans will start getting their act together, but the Senate Republicans will remain impotent and ineffective.

- The Obama administration will be more frustrating for the media than the Bush administration.

- The average temperature of the planet will not increase.

- The Senate will be without a Kennedy for the first time since 1962.

- The DOW will go under 8,000.

- Oil will go under $30 per barrel.

- The dollar will lose value.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Why I hate Republicans

There have been various news stories and commentary lately about how the Republican party is in trouble, is in decline, faces extinction in this coming election, needs to re-brand itself, and so on and so forth. Now, I can't argue with several of those premises -- the Republican party is in trouble and does need a re-branding. But many people seem to think that because the party is in such dire straits that ideological conservatism is also in decline. This argument I have quarrel with.

It should be no secret that my first -- and, actually, only -- political loyalty lies with conservatism. The only reason I've associated with the Republican party during my political life is because I view it as -- at least currently -- the best vehicle to implement conservative policies. It is because of this that I've been so disappointed and, in some recent cases, disgusted with the current party leadership (I use the term loosely) and, indeed, the current administration.

Ever since the historic election in 1994 that brought Republicans out of the wilderness and into power, there has been a steady drift away from conservative principles that has left us with the hapless, rudderless party that we currently, uh, tolerate. The Republican party has drifted just far enough to the left to turn off the conservative base but not far enough to attract moderate/liberal voters, leaving it in a political no-man's land of unimpressed voters. Many seem to think that in order to re-brand the party, Republicans need to drift even farther to the left and monopolize the center. This solution would be disastrous and actually could be the death of the party.

Thus, I have my own solutions that I would like to offer the Republicans to make themselves politically relevant again, not that they're listening to me.

First and foremost, we need leaders who 1. believe in conservative principles and 2. can articulate them. We currently have neither. President Bush is conservative on certain issues, but he is not a conservative. And with the issues on which he is conservative, he can be maddeningly inarticulate in explaining them to the American people. Moreover, there is currently no strong conservative voice in congress for Republicans to rally behind.

This rudderless group of politicians in Congress has churned out some mind-blowingly awful policies, but it is not the fault of conservatism that said policies were so spectacularly terrible. To the contrary, it was the drift away from conservatism that led to such asininity as Medicare expansion, No Child Left Behind, the immigration bill, campaign finance reform, etc. Republicans would do well to return to their roots and reclaim conservative principles in order to restore faith in the Republican "brand."

Principles like smaller, more responsible government. Republicans have, as of late, appeared far too eager to accept the premise that the federal government has responsibilities not delineated in the Constitution. Despite accepting this premise, they somehow manage to appear as stingier and meaner than their Democrat counterparts. This is a losing proposition.

Republicans need to explain to the American people the differences between what is and is not the responsibility of the federal government, and they need to do so not in terms of taking things away from the people, but in terms of giving them more freedom -- and, in turn, more of their own money.

And for those things for which the federal government is responsible, Republicans should advocate them in a common sense manner. Remember last summer when Republicans were proposing sending every American family $100 to combat high gas prices? That was absolutely ridiculous. How about the famed Bridge to Nowhere? That was another gem. But it's sadly indicative of the terrible ideas coming out of the current Republican party. If they hope to retain any sort of credibility, they're going to have to do better than that.

Also, this may just be a personal preference, but can we get off the Jesus thing? We get it. Your faith informs your political philosophy. That's great. But there's a point where it becomes abrasive, off-putting and exclusionary -- I'm talking to you Mike Huckabee. I've got no problem, obviously, with religious people being politicians. In fact, I prefer it. However, faith, particularly Evangelical Christian faith, has become so entrenched and associated with the Republican party that it has almost become a caricature. I understand that abortion and other "values" issues are important, but when those issues get more attention than they should, we end up with candidates that are good on values but awful on everything else. Again, I'm talking to you Mike Huckabee.

While I'm on the subject of frustrating candidates, what's the deal with the corruption? Mark Foley, Randy Cunningham, David Vitter, Larry Craig, Tom DeLay, Ted Stevens, etc. Where do we find these people? Is it so much to ask that we find candidates that aren't corrupt or sexual deviants? Honestly.

I could go on and on about specific policies Republicans should adopt, but specific policies are not as important as conservative principles. Once those principles are adopted, the good policies will follow. We can't go wrong with smaller government, free markets, common sense domestic policy and trustworthy candidates. Sure, Republicans are in trouble right now, but it's not because of conservative philosophy. It is, in fact, due to the abandonment of conservative philosophy. Once they wise up and return to their roots, the media can start writing stories about how the Democrats are facing extinction.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Pre-return thoughts

Just a few thoughts on tonight's primaries before the polls actually close:

- If Hillary loses both, she's done. She's more or less mathematically done at this point anyway, but if she loses both states tonight, she can no longer play the 'electability' card against Obama and most everyone will start admitting that the race is over.

- If Obama loses both states, he's in dire straits. Apologies for the rhyme. If Obama is swept, he's not in as bad of a place as Hillary, but the argument that he's unelectable will start to make a lot more sense to the delegates. I said before that I'm not counting Hillary out, and if she pulls off the sweep tonight, I'll go so far as to say that she's back 'in,' delegate counts be damned.

- The more likely outcome is that Obama wins North Carolina and Hillary wins Indiana, and we get to put up with this crap for at least another month. All the while, John McCain sits there grinning like the cat that ate the canary.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Lest I get kicked off Brett's blog roll...

I've been incredibly busy lately, as usual, but there's something I've been kicking around in my mind lately.

I agree with Barack Obama on precious few issues, but there's one currently floating around lately that he's got it right on. And that would be the lifting of the gas tax.

It's a terrible idea for several reasons. First of all, taxes aren't the reason that gas prices are through the roof. Taxes only make up about 13 percent of the price of gas. The cost of crude oil makes up 68 percent of the price. (Source) With crude prices hovering around $120 a barrel, gas prices are going to go up.

I'm all in favor of lowering taxes, don't get me wrong, but it's going to do -- if I may use a technically term -- precisely dick to lower gas prices.

Lowering gas prices is going to take a lot more than a tax holiday. As such, the anger and frustration of the high gas prices should lay squarely at the feet of the government. Not exclusively this administration, but this administration, this congress, and every administration and congress over the last 30 years.

The energy policy in this country has been one of two things: terrible or non-existent. We complain about gas prices while we simultaneously refuse to explore domestic oil opportunities, increase domestic refining capacity, or increase nuclear power for electricity generation (thus leaving more oil for gasoline.)

Hillary Clinton's criticism of Obama's criticism of her gas tax holiday has been "well at least I have an idea, what's your idea?"

Right. Well. Sometimes no idea is better than a bad idea.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

I'll admit, I actually thought the GMail custom time feature was real, at least initially. For two reasons:

    1. I didn't read the entire explanation on the page. Had I originally read the bit about the flux capacitor, I would have chuckled heartily.

    2. Something like that -- along with the totally arbitrary 10-times-a-year limitation -- is something I would completely expect from Google.

In other news, only one of my coworkers bought my faux letter of resignation. I guess I just wasn't convincing enough.