Monday, August 22, 2011

Where Now, Libya

It would appear that the Qaddafi era in Libya is drawing to a close, not done but ending. It will probably close messily, but with that guy out if not dead. The immediate challenges are to keep the necessary infrastructures functioning, electricity, garbage collection - the stuff that keeps the place from being unlivable. There may be no real political structure within Libya but there is a structure that supports the day to day life support system. It will be a challenge.

The piece that has pundits and pols disturbed is the political outcome. There doesn't seem to have ever been any sort of political system in Libya, political in the sense of opposing points of view being somehow accommodated. There certainly has been a system of cronyism, propaganda, repression, and militarism but nothing properly called politics. This lack of traditions or actual systems has folks in an uproar.

You would think to hear them that they are regarding a pack of monkeys or something as informed as that. Despite all the propaganda and the rest, Libyans seem to have been able to figure out that not only was something wrong but that there is something to replace that wrongness. It is repeatedly pointed out that Libya is tribal and regional, as though that means that none of those folks have had to get along with each other and competing ideas and agendas. That is flatly ridiculous. What they do not have is the experience of an established political system.

I'm not so sure that is an actual drawback. They do not have the experience of a history of, say English Common Law to fall back on but they do have an idea of fairness violated. Putting together a system doesn't mean you have to a previous system you've lived under to use as an example. What you need to do it successfully is to understand that your point of view isn't the only one to be considered. (Maybe our government could learn that) It is also necessary to understand that not everything is open to consideration. Another Qaddafi is not open to consideration, for one example. Government has to be able to change, it has to be able to meet new conditions with new answers. It also has to leave all its inhabitants feeling as though they have a stake in its continuation. (another consideration for our own) It is not all that difficult to keep a privileged few from taking over the place with the examples of others to look at (ahem).

I think it will be much more difficult for a place like Egypt to overcome the faux political system than it is for Libyans to create one. There certainly are those who have a lot to lose without Qaddafi to keep them on top and they certainly won't like it. The absence of a faux system to keep them protected could easily turn into an advantage - or a bloodbath - or both.

I'm not silly enough to predict any outcomes in Libya but I would like to stand up to the doomsayers. I'd also like to stand up for people, actual people as opposed to the elite who seem to think they're destined to run any damned place that exists. I've found that people in general seem to be able to figure things out when they're not stultified by generational bullshit.

NO - this is not a foray back into goddam politics.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Oh No, I've Had A Relapse Into Politics

Damn blast it, I've had a slip and paid attention to politics. I could feel it coming, shoot, saw it well before the collision. In point of actual fact, I picked up the remote and pushed the button that brings up the channel menu and chose ... holy cow ... Rachael Maddow. Sure, I think she's a sweetie, but it wasn't for her personality - it was the damn politics that I went for. My blasted drug sucked me back in and what did I get for my trouble? Things like the FAA shut down.

Should I really re-think my decision to get the hell out of that addiction on the basis of politics that shut down an agency like the FAA and cost $200M/wk put 70,000 people out of work and involves things like ... for pete's sakes ... going through the skies at hundreds of miles an hour in a metal tube and putting it on the ground at 3 or more times the speed limit in any state?

The hell with that noise; and it is noise - there is no crisis of any magnitude beyond the GOPers desire to break unions.

Oh hell, there is other stuff on the show that is about as stupid but if I think about it too much there'll be no going back so the menu got pointed at the Sirius Network's BB King's Bluesville and clicked. Jimmy Burns is now bopping my night and making way more sense singing about a "train" he'd like to "ride." Euphemistic sex beats political jabber and I'm back on the road to recovery. (for now)

Blue Collar Prejudice

* Posted previously and I thought maybe it needed saying again...

I bet you're thinking, 'What???' Let's take a look at this like it might actually exist.

Name a television entertainment program with a blue collar male that is something other than a dolt, an "Archie Bunker." Or try to find one where such a character isn't based around sloth and irresponsibility. I can think of 2 programs, "Made In America" and "Dirty Jobs" both of which are "reality TV." Regarding sloth and irresponsibility, productivity has increased virtually every year for 20 years. Workers today are getting more done in a work day than in the "good ole days."

Here's some reality to go with TV mindlessness, over a 20yr period most blue collar job wages have remained static or declined. Yes, working harder and better and making less. In that same period corporate profits have increased over 700%. Working for the same employer for an extended period is increasingly unlikely. Blue collar jobs are relentlessly dangerous and harmful to health, lower income health problems are frequently blamed on poor lifestyle choices, the reality is that the nature of the work is frequently the base problem.

A large percentage of skilled blue collar workers require a 2 income household to keep a family of 4 above the poverty line. This is not about extra income to buy expensive toys, this is about reliably keeping a roof, food, and transportation and these people are one health problem from disaster, if they have health insurance (unlikely) they face deductibles nearing 1/2 year wages which is very nearly pointless to have.

Blue collar workers face increasing employment competition with illegal hires. This competition takes two forms, one is direct hiring competition and the other is wage depression. This competition is largely ignored in any debate regarding illegal workers. The divorce between blue collar workers and their fellow citizens is increasingly evident. Debates arise concerning product pricing at market and the legality of the employees producing the product, statements are made to the effect that produce prices would skyrocket if legal hiring were in place, which ignores the fundamental fact that labor is one of the smallest portions of a product's price at market and that the associated costs of illegal employment far exceed the savings of illegal hiring. The educated "progressive" elements commiserate with the plight of illegal aliens and ignore the steady depredation on legal blue collar families. Apparently the ignorant buffoons of TV land are unworthy of concern.

No doubt voting patterns have influenced this trend. There is an apparent disregard of their own economic interest by blue collar voters as they have trended Republican. While this conflict in interest is obvious, many of its roots are not. There has been no evident economic policy benefiting blue collar over the last 20 years and that period is not all Republican. It is not difficult to see blue collar workers regarding their economic best interests as a hopeless case and voting some other interest that feels close to home. When a person has very little, perceived assaults on the few things they do hold are taken very seriously. One of the side effects of the gun control debate was to tell the blue collar worker that he is too ignorant and too irresponsible and too criminally inclined to own a firearm. His "betters" disapproved of the gun owning lifestyle. Accurate? Possibly not, politically potent? You bet.

These people trade their time and their bodies for income, they work long hard hours and get little for it. Little pay, little respect. Many jobs that 30 years ago were held in high esteem are now little regarded. It is not as though the work has changed, it is the point of view that has changed. Maybe it's time to give it a re-think. Maybe it's time to look around and see the things produced with the hands and backs of your fellows and give some regard to their value, all those paper assets and banknotes are derived from those things.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Sometimes You Out Grow A Thing, Like A Bike

I previously mentioned my friend Phillip and his 650 one lunger. What I didn't mention was that he just got his motorcycle endorsement late last summer and it is the bike he learned to ride on - sort of. Phillip started riding with me in late spring and there was a lot he needed to learn and in the process of nearly 3,000 miles up to now he did. He also found that the bike wasn't designed for hundreds of miles at highway speeds and that he'd gotten all he could from it.

Soooo... we took a ride over to High Desert Harley Davidson in Meridian, ID - the folks who've taken care of my bike. This is Phillip's 2011 Wide Glide, 96 inch six speed in Burnt Sienna and Black.

***click to enlarge

Our bikes make a pretty colorful piece of scenery. Better yet, it does everything Phillip needs in a bike, it is stable and powerful - also loud and beautiful.

I've always considered the Dyna frame one of the nicest rides Harley makes and the Super Glide family one of the best deals. The Wide Glide with the rake on the forks looks like it should be going a million miles an hour sitting still. Phillip is a pretty understated kind of a guy, but this thing is breaking that mold. He uses Phillip in place of his Chinese name and he was born and raised in Hong Kong and owns, big surprise, a Chinese restaurant and lounge. He is a friend and has turned into a great riding partner ... and he now has an extremely cool motorcycle.

A Dinner Run, A Long One

My friend Phillip and his wife Gina, myself and my wife Scottie took a little ride for dinner. This involved OR7 to the Dooley Mt Hwy OR245 to US26 east to Ontario, OR and Mackey's Irish Pub and great food. Dooley Mt Hwy has a huge number of curves and this shot is on one of them and the blue grey bike is Phillip's 650 Suzuki Savage one lunger. It sure isn't much of bike but it is something to learn on, which he's done. Yes, my Harley is that much bigger.

***click pic for full size

From Ontario we took OR201 to Weiser to I-84W to Cement Plant Rd (old US 30) into Baker City. This shot is one I've tried to get for years, sunset over the Elkhorn Mts above Baker City. Really, click it to enlarge.

Oh yeah, 218 miles round trip.

One Of My Favorite Short Rides

Union Oregon is north of Baker City and it is the mid-point of one of my favorite shorter rides. Just outside Baker City north is OR203 known as Medical Springs Hwy. This picture is taken on the plains outside Baker City.

***click pic for full size

This picture is shot north east into the Wallowa Mountains and was taken in early July. At Union you will find Poppa's Steakhouse and Saloon and on Thursday night you can get smoked prime rib and Friday smoked ribs and the smoking is in-house and beyond excellent. The route is OR203 to Union from Union south on OR237 to North Powder and US30 back to Baker City. It is a round trip of 85 miles with a really swell meal in Union. The roads are excellent and the traffic light to non-existent.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Now That I Know What It Means To Be A Democrat

As I stated previously I was quite willing to hold fire about bills regarding debt ceiling bills, I have done so. I now know what it is that defines Democrats at the national level with control of the Senate and the Presidency. Knowing that, I'll say what it is, it is the slower path to GOPer wingnuttery. It is a matter of getting to today's version of TeaParty stupidity and plutocratic agenda in a decade rather than a couple years.

I'll be blunt - I'll not be a party to such horseshit, I'll let those who love excuses and cowardice take the reins, or load, or act as though they give a good goddam. I simply cannot continue to divide my thinking between what works and is right and what isn't "as bad as." You like "not as bad as" you can help yourself to as much as you please.

I've had a (D) behind my name since 1971 and I was of that persuasion from time of Kennedy and Nixon, well previous to being able to register anything. I've watched what happened to the "Democratic Brand" for all those decades and I've done what I could to affect the direction of drift - including being willing to try for the US House so things could be said. I'm stubborn about such things and I've been stubborn for a damn long time in the face of all evidence.

The so-called middle has won the day, it has made itself clear that GOPerism is the way. I'll let that go if not actively help it happen. By rights I ought to be a part of advancing the GOPer way and get done so people can see what it means. But what I can't do is be an active part to harming my fellow citizens so I'll just let it go. I don't know if I'll even bother to vote, that's well up in the air, but I do know that if the public wants what the GOPers offer, they ought to have it and get to live with it. That certainly means that I'll have to struggle a lot harder to support the Plutocrats in the manner they desire and have a lot less left for me and mine. What I can do is join the great unwashed ignorant masses in not giving a damn and ignore and be unaffected by the scoffing middle-way Democrats in their self-satisfied "not as bad as" theme.

This blog thing has become immaterial and irrelevant. Maybe I'll post pictures or
stuff but look elsewhere for politics because I simply can no longer stand to give a damn. My affiliation with the Democratic Party is at an end, I probably won't even bother to change the registration seeing it as further exercise in pointlessness.

I'd like to thank the political readers I've had, take care and do whatever seems right to you.

Good night and good-bye.