Wednesday, December 31, 2008

No Best Of, You Get Pictures

January 2008

May Marlin bug huntress

Memorial Day from Elkhorn Mts across Baker Valley to Eagle Caps

Gus as house dog

June Cowboy Action Shooting

5:00 PM June 10th

June, work

July, driving Portland to Baker through the center of the state

Democratic truck

Texas Republican Convention

August Jeff Merkley in Baker City

December Wayne Kinney at Baker County Democrats

December Rotten Snowplow
December Just a dainty dawg

December Didn't we start here???

So here's wishing you a Happy New Year and may this one get better as it goes along.

Alberto Gonsales To Write A Book?

Alberto Gonzales told the
Wall Street Journal that he plans to write a book.
Mr. Gonzales, 53 years old, doesn't have a publisher for his book. He said he is writing it if only "for my sons, so at least they know the story."

Well for pete's sake, a line to say, "Not my fault," and what, 200 blank pages because I don't remember?

It seems he doesn't have much to do these days,
The Harvard Law School graduate, onetime corporate lawyer and Texas judge also hasn't been able to land a job. He has delivered a few paid speeches, done some mediation work and plans to do some arbitration, but said law firms have been "skittish" about hiring him.

I have friends who are lawyers and I don't consider them the lowest life forms on earth, but there is something to be said about that kind of work and not having employment opportunities in it. While the job of cleaning sewers may not seem appealing, someone has to do it - it might sting a bit to be unattractive as an employee.

Anybody who has read this blog knows of my utter contempt for Alberto. He was completely over his head in the job, but that is no excuse. People without law degrees know better than get involved in some of the things that went on. Most of the time I'm willing to let political disagreements die once the actor is out of the picture, not here. Not with Albie and his coterie of rat bastards, they've done too much damage to the essential structure of the nation. There needs to be a very clear line drawn that not only says this is wrong, but that it is personally dangerous to your freedom and future.
Mr. Gonzales said that "for some reason, I am portrayed as the one who is evil in formulating policies that people disagree with. I consider myself a casualty, one of the many casualties of the war on terror."

No, Alberto, we're your victims.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

How To Be F(p)ailin' Upward

The consequences of not being able to keep your pants on and failing at Palin abstinence can result in being under 18, pregnant, out of school, with a non-graduate fiance with no job prospects and, holy shit, a $3000,000 windfall for baby pictures. There's a role model for teens everywhere, a Mom who can't get elected VP because she can't interview and is a Republican, get knocked up and splashed all over TV and get paid big bucks for something as inconsequential as your damn baby pictures. There's an incitement to responsible behavior.

Teen pregnancies aren't a tragedy, but they pose really dire consequences for both parties and the outcome isn't generally good. Education has real economic bearing and responsibility is one of the determinants of decent parenthood. Seems Bristol and Levi have demonstrated their responsibility already. So the outcome of stupid behavior is to be celebrities with celebrity payoff? OK, whatever...

The Confederate Party Of Republicanism

Sometimes The Confederate Party is a truly sad state of affairs as when they try to sink American automakers in favor of their Confederate based foreign makers and then they're just plain hilarious.

Four days after news broke that the former Tennessee GOP chairman had sent a CD that included a song titled "Barack the Magic Negro" to the RNC members he is courting, some of those officials are rallying around the embattled Saltsman,
Alabama Republican committeeman Paul Reynolds said the fact the Saltsman sent him a CD with the song on it "didn't bother me one bit."

What do you do with that? 'The Magic Negro' might be funny on an elementary school playground so the fact that it plays to these people tells you something about their intellectual capacity. If you don't get that it carries much farther than being tone deaf about race, you're missing the picture. That kind of stupidity is not limited to a single issue. It involves all kinds of magical thinking, Santa and Easter Bunny stuff. It is where you get supply side economics, it is where you get Iraq, it is where you get torture, it is where... cripes, sound fundamentals.

I'm an idiot, elect me? There's a real campaign theme. Think it'll work with Republicans? Bets?

Repulican Hypocrisy Knows No Bounds

As you might guess, I think the Washington Times is bird cage liner, but they do have an in with those they shill for. They report:
Republican Party officials say they will try next month to pass a resolution accusing President Bush and congressional Republican leaders of embracing "socialism," underscoring deep dissension within the party at the end of Mr. Bush's administration.
"We can't be a party of small government, free markets and low taxes while supporting bailouts and nationalizing industries, which lead to big government, socialism and high taxes at the expense of individual liberty and freedoms," said Solomon Yue, an Oregon member and co-sponsor of a resolution that criticizes the U.S. government bailouts of the financial and auto industries. Republican National Committee Vice Chairman James Bopp Jr. wrote the resolution and asked the rest of the 168 voting members to sign it.

"The resolution also opposes President-elect Obama's proposed public works program and supports conservative alternatives," while encouraging the RNC "to engage in vigorous public policy debates consistent with our party platform," said Mr. Bopp, a leading attorney for pro-life groups

Considering their determination to subcontract government to "private industry" the charge of socialism is odd. How exactly is it different for government to put money in the hands of banks or automakers and for them to give it to Haliburton, Blackwater, and any number of contractors in Agencies? Haliburton was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy when Cheney et al started handing out no bid contracts and ramming asbestos liability limits through Congress. Blackwater essentially didn't exist. Carry on Republicans, be careful how taxpayer money is spent, no socialism.

McConnell and Boehner are against a stimulus plan as "wasteful." How many votes cast when they were in charge of Congress don't count, now? A person could conceivably deny Iraq military spending was a waste, but then one runs straight into the money that actually disappeared into the Iraqi corruption maw in reconstruction, training, and supply. When Radhi Al-radhi testified before Henry Waxman's committee note who scoffed at corruption, a hint (R). These are the kind of people who claim to want to watch how money is spent, as they bailed out of town after the '06 election.

Their mantra is still supply side economics - tinkle down - something that has not once since it was proposed worked. Not one time and its best model in fact and history is called the Robber Baron Era because so much tinkled down. In the face of the current economic wreckage, they still cling to it. In the face of Katrina and NOLA they cling to "small government" while demonstrating their utter contempt for the actual limitations laid on government, like say Habeas Corpus and the 4th Amendment. Torture is a moral and ethical failing and not a part of this discussion. Really, c'mon assholes. This crap is all public record and you really want to start this fight?

Yes, they do. It is what they've got no matter how hypocritical it is. They don't dare go near race at this point, despite Magic Negro childishness. They can try pounding the Southern Baptist theme, but I don't see it getting traction. Americans stopped liking Iraq and started to get testy about the traitors rhetoric and gave Obama 53% in the face of it. While a level of political comity is good for America, I don't see them going there. I actually hope they play the cards they've played over the 30 years, at least until some form of reason is beaten into them. 2010 will speak volumes to where America wants to go and another (R) bloodbath might teach them something. So, please Republicans, don't abandon hypocrisy.

I Don't Know What It Is About

I honestly don't know what the aim of this blog is, but The Phil Nugent Experience is outstanding writing. You may think you're reading a film review, but you're not and you'll be rewarded for your time. Or you'll think you're reading...

I'd like to give you a more coherent review, and I can't. Not because the site is confusing, but I don't think its theme is exactly self-evident and I'd rather not send preconceived notions that way.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Jon Swift's Best Blog Posts

This isn't exactly a critic's choice, Best Blog Posts of 2008 (Chosen by the Bloggers Themselves) is the result of Jon asking bloggers to submit what they considered their best posting. This offers an opportunity to check a real variety of blogs on wildly assorted topics and possibly find some new places to visit.

A couple of the sites on the Blogroll are from reading last year's selection. I haven't started through today's posting yet and it takes time to do it. Go see for yourself.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Cycle Of Stupidity Continues

News from the Middle East has a distressing propensity to be bad, sometimes predictably bad. As rockets have flown out of Gaza into Israel the only question was the math, how many rockets before Israel struck back and again math, how hard. No nation or its citizens will tolerate rockets raining down on them, they just will not.

Right along side the fact of retaliation is the fact of an oppressed distinct group, that group is distinct in race, religion, and history. Toss into that already volatile mix a territorial dispute and powerlessness and an explosion is in the offing - continually. Matches abound.

There is no argument that Israel does not possess the necessary armament to pound Gaza flat nor is there any argument that Palestinians do not have the necessary equipment to wage war by alternate means. One can get into an uproar about the military means utilized by either party in this conflict, and do so to absolutely no point. Israel is not going to risk its soldiers in a door to door urban conflict trying to root out rocketeers and bombers. Hamas or whatever arm of the Palestinians are not going to obtain tanks, artillery, and aircraft needed for conventional warfare, but they are going to wage war. Talking about this conflict in terms of war making methodology is pointless, it is exactly what it is and it will be that way.

The cycle of stupidity is the expectation that the utilization of force will accomplish an end. The only military solution is the near extermination of one group or the other, or raising the terror level to the point where any action is too terrible to contemplate. Neither group can afford to go in that direction so what they do is play at violence, each side stoking the cycle.

The other day I posted about understanding your neighbor, it is the one route the parties have out of their circle of violence. The problem is that a half century of conflict and the hate and distrust engendered by it prohibit that approach. Neither party will listen to someone who says, "OK, stop pissing them off." Two racist theocracies stare with hatred at each other and each tries to gain an edge. Both factions have polluted the general populace with their mindlessness, to the point that governmental initiatives are quickly undermined by non-governmental authorities and actors. Neither government has control of their populace and Israel has the least excuse for their own situation in that regard. The Palestinians can at least claim a stew of political chaos, economic desperation, and oppression - Israel on the other hand can only stand on a lack of will to control its factions.

A cease fire that stops the violence on each side, a dream in itself, is not even a beginning. That has been the failure over time, it is seen as something in itself that the killing stops for awhile. The killing impulse doesn't stop, it is only frustrated for a time and breaks out once again. Short of the option of the removal of either party, every option has to be on the table and negotiated with an understanding of the driving forces of each population. While there are differences of a cultural nature that may defy empathetic understanding, all are within the realm of reason. While the international community continues to allow either party to behave in unreasonable fashions nothing will happen, their is no sufficient force within either party to institute a policy of reason.

The international factions not only allow the continuation of this stupid cycle, they encourage it. The United States maintains a near knee jerk approval of Israeli behavior and opponents to the US positions anywhere stoke and supply the Palestinians. There is no responsible player in the game, everyone has a gun on the table and cards up their sleeves. The international community claims outrage over each flare of violence and promptly does what it can to encourage their surrogate. Israel and the Palestinians are the proxies and surrogates of players with no real stake in peace in the area, despite all the claims to the contrary. There is not a single government that could not cut off all aid and support to all parties while they engage in stupidity, but not one of them shows any willingness to do so. The factions on both sides that stand to profit from violent activity are rewarded by someone internationally. That has to cease if anything reasonable is to happen.

More Snow Fun

Well, the snow finally caught up with us. One of the nice things about my house is that there is an alley behind it and that is where I put the garage. It is nice to not have a driveway cutting the front yard up and it gives me a place to load and unload the work truck. There is a drawback. When it becomes impassible with snow there is over 400 feet of it that is impassible.

I don't own a snow blower. Baker City doesn't get enough snow for me to find one more than a convenience most years. There are years when one would be a bit more than a convenience, like this one. I've been using the 4x4 work truck to keep tire ruts beaten into it but once the car body is sitting on snow, that's done. In past years when I've had money, I just rented a 4x4 backhoe for a couple hours and cleared it and the neighbor's drives. This year a snow shovel was the affordable tool.

A six foot privacy fence is ordinarily a nice thing to have between your yard and an alley. Such a thing becomes a bit of a nuisance when it is between where the snow needs to go and where it is.

I don't complain, I like having four distinct seasons and I can dress for cold. I have lived for a couple years where it rains in the winter and I didn't like it a bit. I pretty much live outdoors and snow is a much drier prospect than rain and just above freezing weather.

I took these pictures a few minutes after wrapping up the shoveling project, the fact that it is snowing steadily in these pictures is not exactly a welcome fact.


Today is Sunday and the temperature is very near 50F, yuck what a mess. Unless the temperature stays up for several days this will not be an improvement.

On Magical Thinking And Bubbles Burst

All the wishes in the world won't make a pile of dog poo into a diamond ring and chances are - there is no pony. Why start out with the downer reality jabs? A thing is what it is, it is not something else because it suits our desires for it to be. Back around 1929 a situation existed which was a new thing, the general public owned stocks. Yes, Wall Street was the modern equivalent of a magic money machine and moms and pops all over the nation jumped aboard. Oddly enough, there were just so many publicly traded companies and just so much stock issued. The upshot of such a situation isn't hard to figure in any market with relative scarcity and high demand - prices escalated. OK, in Republican-ese, Surged.

A house is commonly referred to as a home, in homilies. It actually is such a thing, a place where people live, sometimes they rent one, sometimes they own one (generally along with a bank). The thing about it is that people live in them, that is the purpose of them. A person may own a bunch of them that other people live in and that practice is called an investment property. The historical model of property is that one is doing real well if the value of the property appreciation exceeds interest and property tax costs, it is essentially a savings account that has some tax benefits. A homeowner justifies his purchase by paying a bank and the tax man for something that he'll own at some point as opposed to paying a landlord for something the landlord will someday own. A landlord goes through the hassles of renting property to have somebody else buy it for him. There was a return, not a really large one, but something concrete that its owner exercised some personal control over. The difficulty is that houses are a big ticket item, only so many are built in a year, it takes quite a bit to build a house.

Enter the magic:

A thing is no longer what it is, it becomes a money machine. A stock is no longer a fractional piece of a company and a house is no longer a home, they become investment vehicles. All sorts of things become common currency, people get on TV, write books, magazines, and blogs and tell everyone about the magic and how to climb aboard the express. Recent market trends get analysed and people are told how to make money they don't have appear to be money they have so they can put it into the express. It isn't a stock, it isn't a house - it's a gol-dang bonanza and only a fool holds out. The government likes the looks of all this money floating about and narrows the rules on application of capital gains taxes and lowers the rates, no sense in interfering in the bonanza. How odd that with everybody and their brother trying to get a ride on the magical money machine and the government actively encouraging it and talking about not penalizing hard working investors prices escalated.

The problem is that at some point reality catches up with magical thinking and it turns out that a stock is just a fractional piece of a company and a house is just a place where people live. Yes the value of the assets of a company, its sales and profits and a bit of goodwill divided by the shares issued is the value of that stock. It is just a piece of paper with some writing on it that represents a piece of a company, it is an investment in that company. That house is actually a home, its purpose is to be lived in and there is a limit to what people can afford to actually live in. What that house might be worth in a year or five years has no bearing on its affordability. Once you pay for your home there are costs of existing that also have to be covered and if that exceeds your income minus something for oopses you've got a problem.

There is no magic, no transmutation of lead into gold, a thing is still what it is and at some point the market will adjust towards that. If the hucksters, the governmental propaganda, and political lying class have walked you out on a limb, the plutocrats have been busily sawing on you will fall. If two very large markets have been allowed to skip off into la la land a very perfect storm will ensue. But, just suppose that the propagandists have bought their own product, bought is so thoroughly that they have in fact bet largely on it? Now you truly have something to behold.

People have been paid millions and hundreds of millions of dollars per year to ignore the most basic fundamentals of the business they're in. History books and market analysis of years and years of study sat on shelves ignored. But here's the real deal of this particular pile of not diamond rings, those folks have already taken their money out in pay. Your POS stock or house is still yours. The mothers goose told you their tales and walked and now you've got the sound in your ears for your trouble. Cassandras spoke, and you put their eyes out for their trouble. You listened to those with something to gain and they gained.

The real problem with this is that the people on whose backs the wealth was generated to provide for the Monopoly bucks games get whacked. While some corporate jets go away the pain starts at the bottom. Those folks without the money to engage in magical thinking, their jobs go away first and come back last. The lying politicians get may unelected but their pals still have their money, or most of it; and pretty soon the fire sales will start. Distressed assets don't you know? The broken company and the foreclosed house just got a really nice price tag hung on it. For twenty five years you've listened to the siren song of how the greed of those at the top was good for you. You just didn't know what that good for you really meant, character building in adversity...

Friday, December 26, 2008

Pragmatism And Understanding Your Neighbor

Trying to understand your neighbor or anyone else doesn't mean agreeing with them, it means allowing them to be, to exist. Living in a civilized nation kind cuts the options down, you can kill them or let them exist and the civilized part takes care of the killing. People are going to be there and they're going to be how they are. That part about being how they are means an entire gamut from near saintly to impossibly pig headed. Yes, we do isolate or kill criminals.

A social society doesn't practice shunning, cutting people off from all discourse will create some really angry people or suicidally despondent ones. The upshot of not shunning people is that they will continue to write and say things that can put your teeth on edge and even sometimes educate you. Whatever their point you have to deal with them and one of the most practical tools we use is politics. It is a practical tool, not an idealized tool. It isn't much good at getting one out of many, it is fairly good at getting something done in the face of the many's competing interests.

There is little you'll get a clear majority to enthusiastically agree on as a policy without flat out scaring them out of their wits. Fear is a wonderful short term uniter, but long term it faces fatal drawbacks, an obvious one being its lack of substantiation or confirmation. If it is born out in facts - you didn't protect us and if it doesn't happen it isn't a problem. The best approach is to assume that no matter how good your idea or cause, it just won't sell without some help. If you happen to be in a known situation where you are short of support you need to know why.

This is the part about understanding your neighbors. They hold a stance or point of view that for them is entirely reasonable. It is not enough to know that they are wrong, it is all about the process of being wrong. How do they come to be in that position holds the answers of what to do about that. There are the egregiously wrong, the wrong until the universe dies and ten minutes after and there isn't a damn thing to do about them. While these folks are in actuality few and far between, they are in sufficient numbers to create a base for a movement. Even if you cannot do anything about them, you can learn quite a bit from them. The importance is that whatever position it is that you are trying to overcome takes much of its cues from that group.

If you are trying to get the population to go along with something you have already made the assumption that the population is reachable. That means your problem isn't that their opinion exists it is in how to reach them and bring them onto your side of the proposition. Whether a person's point of view is rational or not isn't the question, it was reached through some sort of reasoning process and that is where the line of attack lies. If you do not understand how they got there, you have no ability to modify their stance of opposition.

The methodology of modifying that stance is extremely wide in a political endeavor, it may involve modifying your proposition and trying for incremental progress or it may involve education or it may involve flat out propaganda or... The approach or approaches are going to depend a great deal on the nature of opposition. You won't know any of that if you remain ignorant of the opposition. No amount of name calling or other denigration will educate you or put you in a position to deal with them. It makes no difference what the issue is, if it is divisive it simply is that. That division must be dealt with and unless you know why it exists you are reduced to name calling.

This isn't an exercise in morality or rightness, it is a simple fact that people as disparate as Adolf Hitler and Franklin Roosevelt managed it and achieved the ends they sought. They understood who it was they were trying to reach and how to do it. The word politics gets ugly connotations because the tools in use aren't shiny idealism. The idealists on both sides of the proposition are offended, compromises are struck, sweeteners are ladled on, and points of view get respected as having a basis to exist. There is no such discrete individual as a pragmatic politician, the word politician has already expressed the fact of pragmatism.

As soon as you enter the political arena you have accepted the proposition of pragmatism as approach. From that point on it is a matter of using it effectively and to do so you have to know who you are approaching and why they believe as they do. The point is to stop their opposition, to gain their permission to move ahead. The problem with taking an unethical or divisive approach to that isn't that it won't work, it is that angry, divided, and fearful people will turn on you with fury at some point - because that is what you've given them to work with or someone may offer them relief from a tiring exercise.

It is nice to right or good, but if the matter is of import what counts is moving in that direction to get there. In order to do that you need to win and the tools for winning are the levers that will move people into your position. It is a lot easier to get to those levers if you grant them respect as you attempt to learn them and that does mean understanding your neighbors. They are your neighbors, not strange aliens from another universe. Every one of us that has a relatively successful relationship already knows this because the other person isn't me, we just forget the second politics enters the conversation.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

I'd like to wish you the best for the holidays, however and whatever you celebrate. There is a lot wrong with the world and our country, but there also is a real requirement to stop and be pleased with being alive, if nothing else. Family and friends outweigh a lot of things in this world and appreciating having them is good for us. Those who can afford to help out those with little enrich all of us and themselves. Whatever jerks make the news, there are millions of small kindnesses each day done by those with no desire for more than to have been kind and thoughtful.

I thank each of you for the ordinary goodness that keeps us going each day in the face of the ordinary and extraordinary travails of daily life.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Where To Put All That Snow

When you've got lots of snow and the sidewalks are at the street edge doing something with it is problematic. This is Broadway street looking west and it is ordinarily a four lane with parking. The center is now a snow berm.

Getting rid of it will depend on what the weather does. If we get a thaw they'll scrape it bit by bit back into the traffic lanes and let it melt. If it keeps snowing and cold and gets too large they'll have to start loading it into trucks, an expensive proposition.

I feel for my fellows in the Portland area, this is winter in NE OR and we have to deal with it every year unless it is an exceptional year and those are very bad for us. This is what keeps our forests alive through our summer and fall. Yes, it means owning snow tires, owning vehicles that can cope, and higher heat bills. The roads are a mess and if you don't know what you're doing you're going to have problems. Schools, road departments, and just about everything costs more because this is how this place is. It is a real good idea to keep in mind that this country can kill you and help may depend on you, yourself.

Last Of The Favorites

I know, a lot of doggy pictures for political blog. The last of Gus' four favorite things, the work truck. He kind of shares the seat, he's not allowed to drive, though. This is a '78 K20 Chevy, with a gadzillion miles on it. 400 SBC w/TH400 tranny, fulltime4x4 ordinary running weight 7500 - 8000#. There's a fullly covered roll top utility bed back there and that is a 40' Class 1A ladder. I've driven this truck for 18 years and Gus has been riding for 4 years, both are well known around town.

Don't bother giving me crap about American iron, this truck is 30 years old, it's on it's third engine and second tranny, two 350s and one other TH400. The 400 SBC gets about the same milage on the open road as the 350s but can pull grades better, a little worse around town. Good milage for this thing is anytime it gets better than single digits.

Click picture for full size.

Blog Rankings

On my side bar you can see BNN "Most Influential" rankings, when there is nothing there for this blog it is out of the Top 20. I'm not too sure how seriously I take that ranking. Look here, it is an ego stroke to be ranked in the Top 20 of a statewide pool of anything. The following is their description of the critera.
BlogNetNews' Blogosphere Influence Rating combines a variety of data sets to determine which blogs are most powerfully influencing the direction of the Oregon political blogosphere. The exact method BNN uses to calculate influence scores must remain proprietary in order to prevent attempts to game the system. BNN's methodology takes into account the fact that all Internet data is profoundly limited in its reliability by using multiple data sets that, when combined, reveal a fair picture of activity in the blogosphere.

I have no idea how one would game the system and I don't do anything to try to affect it. What leaves me puzzled is I know my readership numbers and how they break down and my link ins and I do not think of this effort as influential. I try to be fair, I try to be interesting, and I try to maintain a voice that is friendly without being condescending or unnecessarily dense in language. I'll be the first to admit that my writings are uneven, that's a result of most of it being first draft with spelling corrections. I know how to spell but I'm damned sure my fingers don't...

Rank Blog Prev
1 Jack Bog's Blog 4
2 NW Republican 1
3 Oregon Catalyst 3
4 Mover Mike 5
5 MaxRedline 8
5 Land Use Watch -
7 7
8 Preemptive Karma -
9 Ridenbaugh Press 12
10 The Rev. Chuck Currie -
10 RoguePundit -
12 BlueOregon 9
13 Oregon Media Insiders -
14 Grumpy Forester -
15 Chuck for ... 20
15 Write Idea -
17 Oregon Natural Resources Report -
19 Oregon Biz Report 14
20 Robin's Nest -

This wholesale copy/paste isn't about who should or shouldn't be on the rankings, you'll find some of these folks on my sidebar, I wouldn't do such a ranking. If I did such a thing, it would be entirely subjective - suitable for me alone.

BNN keeps these stats in several formats, Liberal has "Chuck for..." at #8 and previously at #8, in the 12 Week Average All "Chuck for..." is at "nowhere to be found" in the Top 20. Last time I checked that, a couple months ago, it was around 14.

Does this "influence" ranking apply to this blog?
You bet it does
Yes, but you should be much higher
Yes, but you sure don't belong in the list
Stupid answers for stupid questions
I'd rather have ice cream free polls

Curiosity more than anything, I cant think what I'd do with the information.

If you'd like more numbers....Technorati Ranking 21 at 290,009; a few months ago this thing was at 48 and 180,000. That is a major slide.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Everybody Has Favorite Things

Everybody has their favorite things in life; Gus has four. The other day I showed one, his doggy snack dog biscuit. Here are two more, the bearded guy and the white stuff. The fourth is getting in the work truck to go to work with bearded guy. Sometimes the work truck involves all of those things, this time of year if there is work it probably involves snow and a stop at the convenience store drive through, the bank drive through, or the gas station involve dog biscuits.

*****Click Pictures For Full Size*****

Play is not something that figures large in Gus' life, he has one thing he considers a toy - a smashed 12oz dishsoap plastic bottle. Four years running it's smashed and tooth marked but intact. It gets pounced on, skidded around, carried and tossed. Catch and fetch are totally foreign to him and any other toy is of no interest. Snow is the one other "toy", it is for skidding around in, diving in, eating, rolling, and generally happiness. He eats a lot of snow.

Gus never looks small, not even solo in a photo, but to appreciate his size check the upper photo, I'm 5-10, 145 lb. That photo is posed, you cannot encourage him to take that stance, it involves taking hold of his legs and lifting him. Gus is polite, in the extreme. He does not get on furniture -ever, he watches me eat - from a respectable distance, and he does not jump on people.

Oh yeah, Gus is one of my favorite things in life.

A Rotten Snow Plow

When your oil pan is plowing a groove between the tire tracks, you've probably asked an awful lot of your car. The 04SSR is parked, without studded snows it is helpless and buying wheels that will fit it along with snows is way more money than has been floating around the last couple years.

The upshot of those budgetary considerations is a 400+HP premium burning beast out in the snow. It copes. Without a high stall torque converter and posi-traction it would be unmanagable. My wife used it for four years all year around but there have been other vehicles in between so she's trying to get used to it - again.
The pictures are a bit deceiving, the car is sitting on packed snow tracks in the alley behind my house. The car's home is the steep roofed building ahead of the car in the lower picture. There's quite a bit more snow due and I don't much care for the idea of shoveling the entire alley.
Life in NE OR

Saturday, December 20, 2008

You Keep Coming Around

Some people seem to like this site and keep coming around so I write stuff for you. As a side thought I include myself into a syndicator feed - Blogburst that seems to pick me up. Getting a post into a newspaper article footer doesn't drive huge readership here but it does stroke my ego a bit. The posts are generally picked up a day or more (sometimes much more) later and run for awhile. Reuters and Chicago Sun-Times seem to pick me up most.

You get my stuff first and while that's not necessarily a real big deal I thought I'd link you to what happened with 12/20:
I'm not trying to brag myself up, just letting you know that you have company beyond the handful of others who come in also. Postings are chosen by editors and if you've watched blogging at all you'll note that by far the most crowded category of blog is political so there are a whole lot of poliblogs to be picked from. For 12/20 "Chuck for..." put three up.

Folks, there are "A" list blogs like HuffPo and there are "B" list blogs like BalloonJuice and then there are a whole lot of blogs before you get to the "P" (well maybe a bit farther along the alphabet) listers like this place. I don't frequent the "A"s beyond HuffPo and in the "B"s there are a couple I've noted to you over time, mostly I hang out with blogs that are nearly equivalents to this one. I've encouraged you to also, because those reliable readers help make this worthwhile. Sometimes, and it really varies, getting stuff up on newspapers happens and that is an ego stroke for an amateur writer.

Have no fear, I'm not going to run off and make a living writing, I'd have to be good at it in the first place and want to in the second. But, gol-darn-it, you few aren't the only ones who like some of my stuff so you're not so odd after all.

Thanks for keeping this thing going,

Friday, December 19, 2008


Wayne Kinney came by the Baker County Democrats December meeting last night. So what? you say. Wayne is a man of many hats, not just the one he's wearing here. He is one of Senator Ron Wyden's Oregon Field Staffers, he is a DPO DNC Committeeman - six years now and re-elected, he is the Rules Committee Chair for DPO, and DPO meeting Parlimentarian. This is a smart and well informed man, if you get the opportunity to engage in some brain picking (see the thoughtful look?) you will gain. Thanks for coming by, Wayne.

Another face, Gus. He is engaging in one of his very most favorite things in the world, a doggy biscuit. It is his reward for eating his dinner. It is a huge deal, he can wait a half hour after dinner and still expect it. Yes, a half hour after eating he knows he has not yet had his snack. The object of his affection here - a one and a half inch long Milkbone Dogbone. It is not as long as my thumb. He will not allow his lips to touch fingers when taking any treat. This is a very large deal in his life, I'm not sure how he can tell he's got that bitty thing in that maw.
Why are a politician and a big dawg on the same post? I dunno, they were both in my camera and I guess I'm just lazy. The poor dog watched me carry that bone around while I went to get the camera, that upped the ante quite a bit with the anticipation factor going on. I don't know if you can quite tell, but I could fit both hands in that mouth at once.

The Queers Are Damned

I find myself returning to this Warren at Inauguration issue with reluctance. I'm returning to it because so many people who I expect to be able to do political calculus seem unable to do so. I'm going to engage in a certain amount of "mind reading" here, but political analysis amounts to that anyhow.

Let's start out with something that ought to be clear to anyone who pays attention. You do not win arguments over religion. You do not get anywhere telling people that their religious beliefs are shit. A whole bunch of people hold a religious view that homosexuality is a sin and certainly would not be covered by their definition of marriage. That is a religious view. You might debate whether it is an accurate reflection of the Word or whether it is moral, or you could debate that endlessly and lose. Obama having Warren do the Invocation is an expression of respect for their religion.

Respect for a religion is not the same thing as endorsing its tenents as policy. In point of fact it can be quite useful in drawing a line of separation between church and state. It can be used to clearly state that "I don't want to undermine your religion, but the State has other concerns." If I were to wish to do something in the face of religious opposition I would want to first make it as clear as possible that it has nothing to do with religion.

Homosexuality is condemned in quite a few Holy Books as a sin and its practitioners are damned for doing so. If you want to take that as bigotry, then most Holy Books practice it. Just for starters Christians see any non-Christian as damned, queer or not. In Nazi Germany in the face of the government and their own religious teachings that Jews are damned Catholic priests rescued Jews, at real personal risk. Is that bigotry? They didn't change their religious teachings.

Whether I think Warren and Co are wrong about god is immaterial, I know they're wrong about the State's issues in marriage and concerning women and some others. I want that issue fought on my ground, the State's interests, not their ground of Religion. I seriously believe that Obama is doing exactly what is needed to take that fight forward. This is not an issue of validating Warren on State marriage, it is the first step in undercutting his influence in the State issue. It tells him that the State doesn't care if they damn the queers, but it has nothing to do with the State marrying them. It says I'm not going to try to do anything to your religion, but the State has its own interests, I'm willing to leave you alone and even respect you, but this is how it goes.

Many generals and many politicians have lost battles badly by fighting them on ground not of their choice. Lee got handed his head at Gettysburg by this alone. Obama is laying his ground game out. He's told people specifically that he is an advocate of gay rights, he's not going to tell the Religious Right and every other religion that they're being set up for a Gettysburg. I can easily do it here on this two-bit blog, who is going to pay any attention anyhow?

I've watched the short term black Senator beat the best political machines and now I'm watching people decide he's a political idiot. I'm pretty much astonished by it. I'm no enabler of bigotry, but I also am a left Democratic activist in a very red area and I like to win; so I have to pay attention. I know what ground I don't want to have fights on so I try to stay off of it. I have great respect for that ability in people who don't have it stuffed in their face repeatedly.

If you care that a religion damns you, I'd suggest changing religions. If you care that they talk about it, you're going to care for a long time. If you want the State to do something it would be a good idea to let the State be nice to religion while it ignores it. Or you could throw temper tantrums at Obama...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Rick Warren, Barack Obama, Invocation

If you're coming in new due to the title, let me be clear about something, I am a friend to the GLBT community and find bans to gay marriage a violation of equal rights and responsibilities on an immaterial basis. I also do not belong to any organized religion.

Obama's choice of Rick Warren has disappointed, irritated, or outraged some on the left and I can understand the symbolism as an irritant. Rick Warren backed Prop 8 in California and Barack Obama opposed it. Now we have an Invocation given by Warren and a Benediction given by Joseph Lowery, an opponent of bans, at the Inauguration of a President who says that he believes his religion opposes gay marriage and he opposes bans. OK, hmmm.

I do not quote preachers or imams or anybody as the word of god, but some of them have my respect for their social views and Chuck Currie is one of those.
I am deeply troubled that President-elect Obama has invited Rick Warren to offer the invocation at the inauguration. Warren stands opposed to the progressive agenda and to many of the core values that Barack Obama campaigned on. The symbolism of offering such as prodigious place in history to a figure such as Warren is upsetting.
Warren is a good spokesman for the Religious Right but does not represent mainstream Christianity.

I don't know what comprises "mainstream Christianity" and I actually don't care. Once you drag god into something with an actual official governmental purpose - swearing into office is official - all kinds of problems are going to arise. I understand the GLBT's irritation, and I think I understand Obama's stance of inclusiveness. It is all hooey. If we are to take theologians seriously evidently god doesn't know what he thinks about gay marriage. Really, I don't care and the why I don't care is not hostility to religion or god, it is a matter of involving it in matters of public policy. I don't care that Warren is there and I don't care that Lowery is there because I don't think either of their views of god matters in the least to secular decisions. I know they're there because having god involved is somehow important to a whole lot of Americans. You will note that this is all about the Christian god. Does that raise further issues? Sure it does...and so?

Sometimes I reference Rev Chuck Currie, not because of his god view but because he is eloquent and well spoken on issues. I admit to not making much of his opinion of god's views, it is valuable to him and informs him but is still - in my opinion - an opinion. I'd prefer that the religious folks didn't consecrate or bless or whatever the swearing in of the President. I'm not offended, I just think it asks for a lot of problems that aren't necessary. This is one of them.

If you're going to let loose of the part I'm bringing up, I don't think you have any ground to stand on with respect to what people take out of their bible as the word of god in an Inauguration. Yes I think Warren is wrong on gay marriage, but once you accept the whole thing as a political circus you have to accept the politics of it. Trying to present a political image as inclusive means you do it and there will be fallout for doing it and if you voted for the guy with that as a part of your reasoning, then this is what you get.

If you accept the idea that churches should be able to advocate for the poor because the words are in their book, then you've accepted a lot of things with that. I don't engage in Bible bashing because I think it is silly and offensive with no point, but that book along with other Books contain a lot of words that people would rather ignore. That's OK, to ignore stuff, but to start throwing around outrage over what words do or don't get ignored isn't real honest.

I wouldn't even address this if I didn't have good friends in the GLBT that would wonder about silence. I understand symbolism, but once you accept the inherent hypocrisy involved in Invocations and Benedictions you get all the rest. I'm going to let the Inauguration go forward without anger over Warren's inclusion, in particular.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Torture And The Rule Of Law

Before anybody starts howling it's not torture, let's be clear, we have prosecuted as war crimes the action of waterboarding. We, the USA, have prosecuted it and people were imprisoned or hanged for doing it. Dick Cheney has now admitted to being a part of it.
"I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared," Cheney said in an interview with ABC News.

Asked whether he still believes it was appropriate to use the waterboarding method on terrorism suspects, Cheney said: "I do."

That doesn't exactly leave a whole lot of suspense involved in it, now does it?

One of the selling points the US has made to other countries trying to dig out from under dictatorships has been about the rule of law. Words are written down and called law and it trumps individual desires. It is written down with a sense of permanence and universal applicability so that it has respect. It is absolutely necessary that it has wide respect because it is impossible for a governmental agency composed of a fraction of the population to force a disrespectful populace into compliance. Law will not be respected if it is seen to only apply to part of the population, particularly if the elites are seen as exempted.

This isn't intended to white wash or ignore inequal representation before the law or inequality of sentencing, it simply means that if torture is illegal for me to conduct it is also illegal for the President to conduct and we both would have to defend ourselves before the law. If such a thing is to be ignored in regard to Administration officials then exactly why is it that any citizen is expected to comply with any federal law short of that? Suppose that I declare that absent the rule of law at the Federal level the social contract is broken and that I am exempt. By what right does the Federal government proceed against me?

In the possesion of any American who cares to copy it is the Vice-President of the United States of America stating that he knew about torture, helped put the process into effect, and still approves of it without being coerced into such an admission. Does the government of the US understand in any quantifiable fashion what it is asking of the citizenry to follow any law up to this one that held the death penalty? This is disregard of laws up to murder of federal officials or treason.

If these offenses are not charged the Federal government has abrogated all ability to proceed as a lawful enterprise, no law passed or to be passed has any ethical bearing on the citizenry. You cannot run a government in such a fashion - no matter what the political considerations you finally run into a wall. No "Truth and Reconcillation Commission" is worth spit in that regard, this is not about politics it is about law. The US has to make a decision on this matter of whether it is a nation under rule of law or rule of personality and if it is the latter I firmly assert that I am not exceeded in any fashion by that piece of human excrement Dick Cheney.

Unqualifiedly Wrong And Still Right

There are sufficient quotes from 2002 on by the BushCo regarding WMDs and how we all were gonna die to fill a lot of pages with no more than cites. I'm not gonna do it. They made two cases, Saddam had WMDs and that he was tied to terrorism and somehow September 11. We know that neither happen to be remotely true.

Now today (roughly) the new story is being told, we were going to go to war with Iraq, period, and it was because he might want to do something. All the other stuff was window dressing, it was really about mind reading. He might have wanted to do something.

Saddam Hussein was a blood-thirsty petty tyrant of a third world country and an entire waste of skin. I don't think there's much disagreement on that. As such a person he had done some pretty damn despicable things including using chemical warfare against his own citizens. In the Gulf War we knocked the snot out of his military machinery and sanctions and assorted actions further degraded almost all his capabilities - including taking care of a country. He might have wanted to do something and he had a track record of being a shit-heels.

I may have a bit more public profile than most people and I've made it pretty clear that I'm well armed, competent with arms, and real damn dissatisfied with our government and plutocracy. Now given that evidence, somebody from the plutocratic government really ought to wage war on me - I might want to do something. I haven't produced my weapons for destruction and I've haven't renounced violence.

The problem with that scenario is that what I might want to do and what I will do are not congruent. There are some issues that dissuade me from engaging in violence against the plutocratic government. It is pretty easy to make sure I don't change my mind by doing away with me, but there is fall-out for that behavior as well.

Here's the difficulty for the revisionists, whatever Hussein might or might not have desired, one thing is pretty sure and that is that suicide was out of the question. Years back these would have been the 'nuke Russia and China because they might want to hurt us' school. Somehow the MAD strategy won out and nobody tossed nukes around. You see nothing in my analysis that says the USSR or China are nice guys or that they didn't wish us harm. Those places were run by rat-bastards with nasty histories and a desire to harm us. They did so with all the little pokes and jabs and surrogates possible that were short of suicidal. Saddam paid 'insurance' to suicide bombers, waged war on Iran (with our help) and Kuwait, and gassed his people and said mean things about us.

BushCo rats are running off the ship and trying to sell Iraq as the right thing done for the right reasons. They have their futures and George II's "legacy" to protect and their personal responsibility for the deaths of over 4000 American troops, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and the looting of the treasury to try to duck. If anyone is surprised by their attempts they have paid no attention for a very very long time. You can include the entire Republican message in this critique, what they have said and done do not match the message or supposed results in the least, it is an entire fabric of lies.

There isn't the least doubt that it was in the national interest to keep a sharp eye on Saddam's Iraq and to improve the levels of human intelligence because he was a piece of garbage. You don't need to follow the BushCo reasoning very far to see some cataclysmic results internationally or domestically. The tools they've brought forward since 9/11/2001 have had bad results already, buying into them as a nation and continuing on that path cannot have good results. These people need to be called out as the liars and revisionists they are, repeatedly and loudly.

Buck A Hit Charity

While it may stroke Jack Bog's ego to get a whacking big hit count, there's a purpose with more credibility - charity. Go over to Jack Bog's to see. Wednesday is the day.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Did Leahy Cave?

There is some reason to believe that Karl Rove is having a hand in organizing Republicans to oppose Eric Holder as AG. Some members of the committee have junkets planned and some state that Holder's connection to the Rich pardon need investigation. A couple days ago Sen Leahy scoffed at them and Rove pointing out that the last several AGs were approved in less than 2 weeks, today he put it off until January 19. The immediate reaction from the left seems to be mostly "more spineless Democratic behavior."

The real question isn't whether this is a display of 'ballessness' but what is it that might bring Leahy to move the date. I certainly don't mind a fight with the Republican base, ever, and I don't really think Leahy does. There is something else to look at, Holder has some noise surrounding him and it is important to the Obama administration to get an appointment through. It would seem that it is possible that Leahy not only doesn't really mind a bit of delay but it may give Democrats more time to ready for increasingly organized Republican opposition. This had previously looked to be an appointment with pretty clear sailing that wouldn't require much defense. How unhappy would the complainers be if unprepared Democrats let the process descend into chaos through lack of preparation?

There is then the matter of appearances, something that plays a large role in politics. Is it in Democratic interests to give the Republicans a platform of a "rushed confirmation" to stand on and proclaim the corruption of the Obama Administration? Try the Blagojevitch uproar on for size. However unconnected with the Governor Obama is, no matter what direction he turns he is under attack - "what did he know and when did he know it?" If that same metric is allowed to play out in the AG confirmation that AG is wounded going in and wounded in the atmosphere of Gonzales and Mukasey.

I would be pretty sure that the Obama allies in the Senate have seen the vetting information and if there is something there that provides even the most specious grounds for attack, it needs to be covered. The attacks on nerve seem to miss the amount of ego and nerve it takes to propose to represent the citizenry at the level of Senator or Representative. There is no way that it would please Leahy to be perceived as spineless and given his own interests in how he is perceived by voters there is more to this.

I don't have access to more information than any other citizen who pays attention, but I also do not assume things are bad simply because a politician is involved. I do expect pretty open warfare from Republicans on the basis of no more then the (R) or (D) label. Expect Democrats to proceed under that assumption.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Vitter's Whores?

You might be amused by UAW Shreveport Local Rep Morgan Johnson's
comment about Sen Vitter that
"He'd rather pay a prostitute than pay auto workers."

but there is all kinds of truth floating around in that statement. You need to take a look at his record on various topics to see exactly how true it is.

Try to keep a few real basic things in mind about economics, labor is a commodity like any other when it is not organized and ordinary commodity market outcomes happen. Illegal immigration happens almost entirely due to one factor, better paying jobs. It doesn't happen because English is such a wonderful language or because the US has universal health care or because we have such a great reputation for treatment of minorities, it happens because of money. Vitter is one of the proponents of fences, yes fences to keep those illegals out and - if you haven't noticed - to keep them illegal. A damn fence does nothing to address the problem other than make it somewhat inconvenient, so the flow will continue. That continuing flow feeds the flooding of the labor market so that the commodity labor like any other commodity becomes less valuable. Simply put wages decline.

Now the converse is true of organized labor. Unions raise wages, not only in the sector they have contracts but also in any nearby or related sectors. There is a reason for the concentration of foreign makers in Southern right to work states, there is a reason a right to work state like Idaho exports so many contractors across the Oregon border, contractors going broke in Idaho. There is a reason plutocrats and by extension Republicans detest unions and it ain't ideological, it's all about who gets how big a portion of the pie. There is in reality a limit to the size of the pie. At a point the plutocrats don't get incredibly wealthy if they pay labor much because there is a limit to what the consumer will pay for a particular item.

I liked Morgan's comment but it doesn't go nearly far enough, we are his whores - any of us who work with our hands for a living. The dirty skanky whores are the illegals, bottom of the barrel easily dismissed and derogated and truly subject to police action if they get uppity. A bit more difficult are the ordinary whores, the unorganized labor, not so easily denigrated and not nearly as subject to policing, the simplest method is to replace them with the skanks and by association drive down their appeal. The high class hookers are a real problem, they have connections and an exclusivity so targeting them is a matter of opportunity, such as when their owners are having problems and would like some help.

You find something unhappy in the comparison of labor to prostitutes? Why? The most common rationalization for falling incomes and failing prospects is that laborers made unfortunate life choices, they could all have gone to colleges and been billionaires if only they'd chosen properly. Just like those hookers, bad choices made and the derogation of society for doing something unattractive. You like that less? Labor sells its body for a dime, these jobs eat the physique for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and some of them eat the mind. Enough years of construction will destroy joints and beat the cardiac system to pieces, line work does most of that and further grinds with mindlessness and repetition. Then add in that what is done is not respectable, the hands get dirty and calloused rather than paper cuts and it isn't carpal tunnel syndrome it's blown knees and shoulders and backs. There is no on paper product that generates money on the back of other paper generated money, there is some distastefully concrete item. Bend over son, you're getting screwed.

Vitter is a whoremonger and tool of the pimps and his incidental connection to the DC Madame is only instructive, not definitive because you can replace his unfortunate self with Corker or McConnell or any other of Southern Republican Senators with Labor in their cross hairs. McCain was crucified by that bunch for proposing to do something counter to the plutocratic interest with illegal immigrants. You have some idea it was low class rednecks? It was the plutocratic power structure that sank him using its tools of racism and class fear. Certainly, they played the losing end of the bargain against illegal immigrants, they've done it for years with the same tools. They and everyone with two live brain cells that talk to each other knows that to do something meaningful to curb illegal immigration the job magnet has to be removed - but that involves the other end of the scale, employers, people with actual money who support the Republican corruption machine.

No this isn't the corruption of selling a Senate seat, this is the basic corruption of the fabric of American life and values. It is the permanent creation of an illegal disenfranchised serf class. It is the absolute devaluation of labor, the creation of the perception of a monkey class of knuckle draggers unworthy of real compensation and a chance at a stable life. It is part and parcel of the fiction of trickle down economics or more sinisterly mislabeled supply side economics. It is a deliberate return to the Robber Baron Era, the very best model for it. If it means the destruction of the economy for the foreseeable future it is worth it to break unions and let the plutocrats pick up the broken pieces at fire sale prices. Who exactly do you think will own the broken factories and foreclosed houses? People with money? Well, of course people with money and who exactly will that be? Certainly not Toyota line workers whose pay will go into the toilet the second there is no union to keep away from the doors.

Does Vitter have enough brainpower to figure out whose tune he's playing on the whorehouse piano? If you've listened to him it is very doubtful you believe it and I certainly don't. He's the nickle's worth whore monger playing for the real Madame. Most of these dolts are just dancing at the ends of the money strings of their Madames, they're almost pimps, wanna be's jerking around without a real cut of the graft and profits thinking they're somebodies because they can fool people into voting for something they don't even believe. Oh yeah, when wishes are fishes we'll all be billionaires and they'll be an honest bunch. When wishes are fishes.

Chicago, Chicago, Chicago...

After years of being the BushCo lapdog the media has apparently discovered the role of watchdog, sort of. Gov. Blagojevitch may epitomize stupidly incompetent criminality and as a colorful character meet the criteria of interesting media but he is also an individual. The media doesn't seem to be able to separate the individual from the collective and this is important. In any milieu there are individuals of varying character and ideas and when that is not recognized all kinds of fallacious statements become currency. Democrats are anti-gun is an example, the fact that it is a well financed and noisy segment rather than an entirety seems to be beyond their ability to report and has come to the point of it being a man bite dog story when a Democrat openly supports the 2nd Amendment.

There is a noisome segment of Illinois and particularly Chicago politics that is dirty handed and this isn't in debate - anywhere responsible. The piece of that with importance is "segment." The fact that the segment exists says nothing about any particular individual. All Republicans are not Jack Abromoffs and neither are all Illinois Democrats dirty handed Blagojevitchs. Here is where the guilt by association becomes so nasty, people with no record or accusation of misbehavior are required to prove that something doesn't exist. Have you ever watched arguments about the existence of God? You are put in the position of trying to rationally prove something that is taken as an article of faith. The current argument of faith is either than Obama is a good man or that all Chicago pols are de-facto crooked until proven otherwise.

That becomes an entire mess. If Obama produces what 'he says' are records of transition contacts with the crooked Governor it will still only be his assertion that the records are accurate. The immediate response is, "why are we to believe you?" since all Chicago pols are crooked and liars. Obama is in the position of proving a negative that has no direct factual evidence supporting the accusation.

The media has kept pointing out that Fitzgerald stated there was no Obama connection and then kept asking for it to be proven. It is easy enough to prove that such a thing did occur if there are verifiable tapes or photos, but how to document that no such thing occurred? Apparently the Governor referring in taped comments to the "son of a bitch" only willing to give "appreciation" has little or no meaning in the theme of "crooked Chicago pol." It is easy enough to recognize that there is an opposition in existence to Obama who will take any excuse and run with it, the question is why the media participates. Now the metric seems to be that Obama's transparency is threatened because he didn't...well apparently prove he didn't...who the hell actually knows what he did or didn't do that is a threat to his transparency. The media asks questions based on their speculation and is disappointed when the response doesn't match their speculation and so the transition team is guilty of something, even if it only not meeting their speculation. No one has managed to make an accusation of misbehavior, the questions amount to, "Did you misbehave?" and the answer, "No," lacks transparency. It lacks transparency because the answer is not, "Yes," when everyone knows Chicago pols are corrupt.

I am a great fan of keeping politicians and officials accountable, whatever the Party or ideology. I don't care about that part, I care that they are entrusted with power and the exercise of that power needs to be monitored. I may support or oppose an ideology or policy but that doesn't mean I don't want to keep an eye on its exercise. The egregious failures of BushCo aren't just about their incompetence, it is about no one keeping an eye on them and jumping when evidence surfaced. Evidence. Virtually every foul-up by the Bush Administration had early warning signs in nature of actual evidence, not speculation. For the most part neither the media, the Congress nor the public demanded answers to facts and that was the failure. The failure was not a lack of speculation, it was cowering under cover of Wartime President that was the failure.

Calling for a cessation of speculation about "popular" President-elect Obama is not the same thing as asking for a blank check. The Blogojevitch mess needs to be looked at and watched closely. If there is anything regarding Obama it will come out under close attention. People don't keep secrets well and particularly not where power and popularity are the stakes. That is the point, how about a piece of evidence before beating a drum of corruption or cooperation with corruption? How about one person in a position to know actually making an accusation or bringing forth a single piece of fact, first? Oh sure, there are ratings to consider...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Winter Driving

Today while I was trying to get a 12 pitch roof going the temperature plummeted and it started snowing and blowing. This job is about 20 miles up the freeway in NE Oregon running around 3000 feet elevation, roads get real iffy pretty quick. About half way home there was a Jeep SUV in the media up right but with the roof crushed and two state police cars and an ambulance. Heading toward the wreck closer to town were five sheriff's cars and another ambulance, that's a lot of attention for a one car wreck indicating a fatality or real serious injuries. There is nothing unusual about winter wrecks on the freeway around here, we get lots.

Let's start with something pretty simple as a concept, when the roads are crummy and you drive fast to cut time you need to recognize that being in a ditch or an ambulance is going to add significantly to your trip time. Depending on your vehicle and equipment there is a safe speed to travel and it is wise to recognize that marginal conditions can quickly turn drastically bad.

Vehicle types lead to a lot of over confidence, the fact that it can go doesn't mean it can stop or steer, that SUV or front wheel drive may get going and stay going but that isn't the whole equation. If the darn thing can't stick to the road for steering, slowing, or stopping the fact that it could get going fast only means problems. Chains, studs, or specialty snow and ice tires will help keep the thing where you need to to be, not your "all weather radials." Whatever your capabilities you have to assume stupidity on the part of other drivers and allow for it.

You have to realize that some time something is going to go wrong out there and you'll have to deal with it. Over-steering or over-corrections lead to most single vehicle mishaps. Gentle is the rule and a scrape on a guardrail or stuck in the median or the side of the road trumps going upside down or tangling with other vehicles. You may really not want to mark up that paint job but reefing on the steering wheel will lead to disaster.

Your brake pedal is not your friend if you're losing control, brake systems put most stopping power to the front wheels and going to the brake will accentuate whatever else is going wrong. If the front isn't steering, going to the brake will simply cause it to slide worse and if the back end is trying to go around you'll get loopty loops, a bad thing. If you go into a slippery curve too fast hitting the brakes will pretty much ensure you'll not turn, sliding tires do not steer.

There are other issues involving the end that drives the tires, front wheel drive is completely different from rear wheel drive and four wheel drive is neither. Lifting off the throttle slows the tires, this may or may not be in your favor. If the back end of a front wheel drive car is coming around slowing the front tires will accelerate the rear drift. There are only two things that will get the back into line with a front drive vehicle, either throttle up or go to the hand brake. Accelerating is the more controllable method but circumstances may prevent that in which case the emergency brake will slow the rear, in which case the brake needs to be modulated, if it is a hand brake (most likely today) you need to hold the release while gently slowing the rear tires with varying pressure.

Rear wheel drive vehicles will respond to throttle downs if the back is coming around, though automatic transmissions will do so gently and possibly too slowly in which case a down shift will help if you aren't going too fast for the next gear down to not break the tires loose. Down shifts are tricky and not knowing what is going on with it could be bad. With rear wheel drive it is pretty rare for going to the gas to be of help. In matters of control in bad conditions rear wheel drive is easier to deal with although it is not as desirable for getting going; you generally get more warning with two wheel drive that you are pushing conditions.

Four wheel drive brings the worst of either front or rear wheel drive into play if the vehicle is getting out of shape. All tires react to throttle changes so throttling down will probably mean an accentuation of the problem of which ever end is having difficulties. Four wheel drives tend to have a higher center of gravity which means that in a sideways slide will very possibly result in a roll-over if rough or soft ground is encountered while in that condition. It is most likely in a four wheel drive that throttling up will help most, the problem is that if you're in trouble you probably were already going too fast.

There are some hidden dangers in winter driving, over passes freeze much sooner than road way does, and in bright sun will thaw and then freeze sooner because it lacks the heat sink of the earth. In sunny weather road ways thaw and if that area becomes shaded at low temperature it will freeze while the rest of the road is not icy. This condition is most common in hilly or mountainous country and that tends to mean curves and solid objects. Paying attention is much better than trying to rescue the situation. Fog and very light rain are prone to creating ice when temperatures are low, and the nasty part is that it is black ice which looks very much like wet road way.

The best way to avoid having to rescue a situation is to not get into it in the first place, if you have winter conditions to drive in; have traction devices and drive at a prudent speed. Know how to drive in that kind of weather, if you're unfamiliar find a large vacant parking lot with those conditions and try it out. Park the vehicle and spend a night in a motel, it is cheaper than smashing up a vehicle and you can never get back the time spent in a hospital or worse - dead. I will assure you that people will die on the Interstate within ten miles of my town because of winter driving conditions, they do every year and it is a sad waste brought on by ignorance and impatience. Don't be one, here or there.

Union Busting Big Time

Senate Republicans killed the $14 billion Big 3 bailout Thursday night. Their demand was that the UAW meet the wages of non-union foreign shops and that the companies slash their debt by 2/3. Odd. It is even more odd that the outspoken critics represent states with foreign manufacturers who were give large subsidies to locate there.

I'm inclined to agree with Olberman's critique of whore-monger Vitter's comment about the plan being ass-backwards as sounding more like his description of services desired. This bunch of ideological corporate tools are bound to try to drive this country completely underwater. I will not defend the domestic automakers from accusations of short sightedness or even outright stupidity, but I will defend the union's wages and their efforts to make working in plants a better thing. I cannot think how these Republicans can now don the garb of fiscal prudence.

These complete morons have run a $10 billion per month war on the cuff for years to make us safe from an imaginary threat and the idea that 3 million jobs will go away in a matter of months over a couple dollars per hour makes sense? Things have gotten pretty tough right now and they propose to make it much much worse to prove, what exactly? That they still count?

Jumpin' Jayzus On A Broken Crutch, do they ever want to be elected to any damn thing ever again? Their darling State financed car companies are going to tank along with everybody else if this crap holds. With no credit and another 3 million unemployed a whole bunch of businesses unrelated to autos are going to cave for lack of paying customers and there go the customers for all those wonderful foreign cars. I'd like to come up with reasonable language to describe this other half of half-wittery but I can't.

I've watched the stock market and housing market go completely stupid with buying pressure without any enthusiasm and then I find out that the greed heads at investment banks leveraged the housing market to the tune of ten to one and my prospects for making a living hit a wall. Hard. It was going to be not good as the housing market in places completely unconnected to this one tanked, but the stock market and credit squeeze may do the job. If my reaction were only about me, it would be pretty damn selfish, but a whole lot of people who took safe jobs in relatively low ticket items are going to get whacked along with me and that is plain wrong. I've weathered housing problems before and I knew that my line of work was one that caught pneumonia if the economy sneezed and I've been nervous as a cat in a room full of coyotes for years. Well, the economy did a bit more than sneeze. I'm hanging by a very slender thread, we'll see how this goes.

Lifelong pols like Vitter, McConnell, and the rest haven't sweat or bled for living and find it just fine to pet their plutocratic pals on the head and subsidize their wealth and then blame us. If I thought those pricks would pay in a coin a bit more serious than not getting re-elected in a couple years I'd relax a bit. Not so, they'll walk away from crashing this country intact and having real good paying jobs with their pals. Be very sure that the ratbastards who crush you will prosper, in fact their plutocratic pals will have fire sale prices to pick from as they scavenge a busted country.

If you want to see the lie, the great stinking pile of dog-pooh that is their financial prudence see the chart in the preceding post. If you are willing to buy into their union busting rationale then you are stupider than they give you credit for. What they won't acknowledge is that those good paying foreign automaker wages are a direct result of union pressure and that without the union they'll take a dive. Those tax subsidized factories down south won't be worth a plugged nickle to the economy at $10 per hour. The agenda has to be clear enough, if you're so stupid as to make a living with your hands you don't deserve to breathe, you are flatly a waste of CorporateUSA oxygen. Our goddamned Senate just made that perfectly clear, this is exactly as big a fuck you as they could have stated. No, you don't get kissed, either.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Fiscal Conservativism Isn't Republican

This is the hat tip to John Cole's Balloon Juice for finding the graph and his article - an ex-Republican point of view. I've been making the point over the past while that we're not looking at a George W Bush economy, that we're looking at nearly 30 years of Republican propaganda taken as accepted knowledge regarding both their fiscal conservatism and how their ideas work. The graph clearly shows that following Jimmy Carter the deficits essentially exploded under Republicans. That is exactly right, Republicans, St Ronnie Reagan directly followed Jimmy Carter and exploded the deficit. The first time a significant trend of reduction occurs is under the Republican punching bag Bill Clinton.

George W Bush's first budget starts out slightly above where St Ronnie did in deficit amounts. The Republican "all time worst?" Jimmy Carter ran most of his show below the closing of the Ford administration. You've got Republicans swimming in a sea of red ink, every time, and they want to talk about fiscal conservatism. Can you bet where this is going to go?

Where it has already gone is the screeching by the RNC ilk that their mistake was going away from their fiscal conservative roots. They have to return to their roots... There are no roots except when a Democrat wants to do something that might, just might benefit the ordinary citizen. The Republican response is that it will trickle down from the wealthy investors to the ordinary citizen and that increased tax revenues will cover the lost revenues. Oddly enough, the graph shows that no such thing occurs with tax revenues and spending deficits.

The RNC talks about their new hero, the future, Saxby Chambliss:

WASHINGTON – Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Robert M. “Mike” Duncan released the following statement tonight.

“When voters in Georgia reelected Saxby Chambliss to the United States Senate today, they selected a strong, conservative leader who shares their values and could be trusted to uphold the Republican principles of lower taxes and a strong defense. His reelection sends a clear message that the Republican Party and our core conservative principles are alive and well.

Well, a broken military doesn't sound like a "strong defense" and then lower taxes seemed to have happened for the 'uber' wealthy and, um, deficits...

The RNC's I'm a Republican because: lists a bunch of rather strange sounding things but in the context of this article:

I BELIEVE government must practice fiscal responsibility and allow individuals to keep more of the money they earn.

I BELIEVE the proper role of government is to provide for the people only those critical functions that cannot be performed by individuals or private organizations, and that the best government is that which governs least.

I BELIEVE the most effective, responsible and responsive government is government closest to the people.

I'm pretty sure that not much of what "I believe" has to say here has had anything to do with Republicanism for a really long time.

In regard to Obama's public works project Bob Geiger provides this little gem:
"Anyone who has talked to the American people knows that while they are hurting, they don't believe that more Washington spending is the answer," said Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner.

As Geiger notes:
And we also know that after years of supporting hundreds of billions of dollars on George W. Bush's war for nothing in Iraq, the Republican party will balk at anything that will actually help the American people and fall back on their old stand-by of tax cuts for the wealthy trickling down to the little people.

These are your tools if you're an activist, show the lies for what they are and when Democrats do something right, tout it to the heavens. Winning in 2010,12,&16 depend on changing the narrative - and when it is this full of holes the job isn't a real problem, just work.

Comments Box

***Update - This will stay near the top for awhile***

One reason the comments box exists on my page is so that you can tell me how wonderful I am...ok, really it's there to allow for expanding the discussion and refining the thinking. There is another function of it, it allows my cadre of readers to get acquainted with each other. This is in a certain sense a family, not a nation or even city, not at this readership level.

You don't have to think very hard about it to recognize that your arrivals here mean a shared interest and view with others who click in. You ought to get to know each other. I offer this post right here for that purpose, you needn't feel like I'm asking for identifiable information, why you come in, who you are - in that sense, and a general location. Have some fun with it - it is, after all, a feature provided for you.

You folks do realize that it takes some real effort to put this thing up and a good chunk of that effort is aimed at pleasing you, not just my egotism. To be sure, there is an element of egotism involved in believing my thinking on these subjects is worthy of someone else attention, but then I put right in the heading that I thought I was capable of representing people in DC, so I haven't hidden the ego. I tossed the Bullshit Rules from the comments box, I figure you're adults and if it goes into a sewer I have delete button.

You know who I am and since Zak Johnson and I have a companion blog - Bluesteel Democrats - you have an idea who he is. I know a couple of you from other blogs and emails but the rest of this 'family' doesn't. I'm not sure what it is about this blog that brings in the cadre of dedicated readers, but it seems to be fairly specific judging from the numbers and inlinks.

Anyhow, have fun.

Monday, December 08, 2008

***Breaking*** SCOTUS Conspiracy


US Supreme Court rejects hearing illegal space alien President-elect case. Martians will be allowed dominance over the US. Churches next. EEEEK

There might be polite words that describe these dead-enders, I have nothing like the energy to search for them.

No Riots?

Nancy Pelosi lays out that all stake holders in the Big 3 get to take a hair cut. Bush mouthpiece Dana manages to only mention UAW while talking about wanting a Car Czar to make sure money isn't wasted. Alabama Republicans think Chapter 11 is a good course. Of course Big 3 aren't in Alabama, foreign ones certainly are. Also, they're not investment banks - they make things...

And nobody is burning the damn place down?

Bestest and Way Brightest

Frank Rich has a column up at the NYT that draws some comparisons to the language used recently about some Obama nominations and the David Halberstrom book "Best and Brightest." The particular focus is that the phrase was used sardonically to describe Kennedy appointments who shepherded the Vietnam War.

You could take it as a cautionary tale, an exhortation to keep an eye on this bunch. Taken this way, it would be entirely reasonable regarding any group in government. There are what I would characterize as some missing pieces in the analysis that help create a tone of approaching danger. The primary focus seems to be more on the outcomes of the National Security team under Johnson regarding Vietnam than the Kennedy piece of the appointment history. This part ignores the issues surrounding Johnson and dissent from his existing views. This logical leap is extraordinary in such an article, I have found no evidence of that similarity between Johnson and Obama.

Another piece that seems to be swept under the journalist rug is the difference between a shooting war and and economic recovery effort. There is an entirely different mindset surrounding a killing war and economics, both at governmental and public level. Anytime a shooting war exists a certain jingoism will occur, there is a definable (perhaps loosely speaking) enemy. Couple with that the fact that there are a limited number of solutions in a shooting war - it does involve killing - and the picture begins to look a bit different than the situations involved in an economic recovery.

In the process of doing anything people will make mistakes and when you toss political realities on top of that unfortunate reality, the mistakes can morph into real nastiness quickly. The very real question is whether those people can recognize the mistakes and make good changes to their decision processes to avoid more. This is the piece that truly conflicts with the Johnson model, these people have been outside the political process, not participants and further start from and work with an administration with a different ideological bent than the previous one.

It is always a good idea to pay attention to history, but history isn't a simple recounting of dates and names and events. Conditions surround such things and simply picking apart the personalities and background of some of the participants without having regard for the surrounding participants and existing realities makes such an analysis virtually pointless.
For some of J.F.K.’s best and brightest, Halberstam wrote, wisdom came “after Vietnam.” We have to hope that wisdom is coming to Summers and Geithner as they struggle with our financial Tet. Clearly it has not come to Rubin. Asked by The Times in April if he’d made any mistakes at Citigroup, he sounded as self-deluded as McNamara in retirement.

This is where this thing runs off the tracks, McNamara and Rubin's job descriptions had little similarity, McNamara ran the DOD, Rubin was an advisor with no particular power or access at Citigroup. Worse yet for such comparisons is that Rubin has at this time no obvious official role with an Obama administration - why are we even reading about him in reference to McNamara?
No, it’s the economic team that evokes trace memories of our dark best-and-brightest past. Lawrence Summers, the new top economic adviser, was the youngest tenured professor in Harvard’s history and is famous for never letting anyone forget his brilliance. It was his highhanded disregard for his own colleagues, not his impolitic remarks about gender and science, that forced him out of Harvard’s presidency in four years. Timothy Geithner, the nominee for Treasury secretary, is the boy wonder president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He comes with none of Summers’s personal baggage, but his sparkling résumé is missing one crucial asset: experience outside academe and government, in the real world of business and finance. Postgraduate finishing school at Kissinger & Associates doesn’t count.

While this may account for Rubin's appearance in the article it attempts to tie entirely disparate events together, just because you can draw dots doesn't mean they should be connected. Summers was President of Harvard, here he is going to be working for the President, his tone deafness and asserted disregard for colleagues has relevance for consideration for the ego intensive atmosphere of top academia but considerably less for the results driven culture of an economic team. Geithner bears little responsibility for the Wall Street dive, this makes an entirely questionable assertion that Wall Street's trading values had anything to do with rationality for years. The crash of investment banks may have triggered Wall Street, but the underlying problem was that stock prices had nothing to do with the actual values of the companies being traded - that is another kettle of fish entirely.

Frank Rich is an accomplished writer and sometimes his analysis of situations is entirely reasonable and worth real considerations. Had he run a couple sentence article stating what should be obvious, that media's enthusiasm should be tempered with close attention, he'd have had something. The problem is that he goes on from there to make arguments that hold very little water and seem more aimed at stoking ideological differences that already exist within certain circles.

There is a new boss coming with significant ideological differences with the accepted wisdom of thirty years of Republican propaganda. This is actually something new and that boss has a majority party and currently the backing of the voters. Let us begin to look at realities regarding this economy, this is the world's largest and most powerful economy, even in its current straits, no incompetent ideologically blinkered idiot can drive it this hard into the wall in eight years. This is not about George W Bush, this is about 30 years of stupidity instituted by St Ronnie Reagan and drummed into the public consciousness as reasonable. In the face of not one historical instance of such "theory" ever working in the manner they proposed, it is accepted as truth. It is much easier to sell ideas to the public that don't require more than bumper sticker explanation than complex arguments but that certainly doesn't make them work. The damage from these faux theories is now systemic and George II's incompetence coupled with system wide failure accelerated the wreck, but certainly isn't the cause. This is the real challenge, to put the argument within the framework of reality, not personality.

Anyone who has read this blog knows that I regard GW Bush as a criminal failure as President on so many levels and areas that writing single sentences about them would result in a book. This does not blind me to the actual causes and their history nor does it blind me to the complicity of the Democrats in that wreckage. All of that said, which may seem to echo Rich, Obama needs the people he has assembled and their varieties of experience and (dare we say it) ideological bents. This mess needs to be sorted out and taking a sledge hammer to it is not conducive to sorting. I'd like to see what they propose and how they try to implement it before I start throwing rocks. I'll also only manage the qualified endorsement of the team of, "I'm watching." There you go, your article - "I'll be watching."