Showing posts with label politics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label politics. Show all posts

Monday, September 14, 2009

Joe Wilson's got nuthin' on Kanye

A huge tip o' the sombrero to Jason Craft for this one

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Socialized Medicine

I don't really want to share this. I know how people get, and don't really want to make Jamie a target for unwanted attention, rude comments, whatever...

I'm behind the government looking to offer an insurance option. And, honestly, I am more than okay with it if we wind up with socialized medicine. I know that's not fashionable, or what you're supposed to say as a "good American", or whatever, but thanks to the day-to-day life that Jamie and I live, I simply believe there's too much at stake.

At age 17, Jamie was diagnosed with something called Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS). The cause is unknown. It strikes all kinds of people, and it shuts down your kidneys completely. Were it the 1950's when Jamie was diagnosed, she would have been dead long ago.

She's had two transplants. She's been on dialysis twice for a total of about 8 years. That means she gets up 3 days a week, has large needles jammed into her arms, all her blood removed, cleansed with chemicals and returned. She can't work. Travel, diet and lifestyle are deeply restricted. And she does it all without complaint. People who meet her do not begin to guess that she's anything but a 30-something young woman with a cheery attitude.

Currently, she is on Medicare. Almost all people on dialysis, as I gather it, are also on Medicare thanks to being classified as something called "endstage renal failure". Ie: The Government recognizes that you are likely to die, and will die, without the government assisting with the cost (ie: doing what your insurance carrier won't or can't) to keep you alive. Medicare is often criticized and reviled as socialized medicine.

That is not her only coverage. Medicare takes things to a certain point, but she also has coverage extended by my employer. I was almost not offered any coverage by my former employer for Jamie (but that was a deal breaker, so we negotiated). I note this as many smaller, Main Street USA companies, can only afford to offer limited coverage.

Somewhere in the federal government, someone made a decision, again, not to burden insurance companies with the hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, that get wrapped up in each dialysis treatment. Somehow that all works itself out.

Many of you may not know this, but in order to insure that the benefits will not disappear or change willy-nilly, I more or less have to work for a very large employer with excellent coverage to get the rest of Jamie's expenses (medicine, co-pays for visits, etc..) covered. And even then, that doesn't include the deductible.

If you are genuinely concerned for corporations, you may wish to know, many companies aren't so much paying into an insurance collective, as much as covering your costs. They have a risk pool, that basically means they are covering your bills as part of their expenses. It's much easier for large companies and agencies to absorb than small companies. So smaller employers taking me on are taking on what they may not consider to be a good investment. I more or less have to disappear into, say, The State of Texas, and hope I'm not the one with the craziest story. There is no scenario in which Medicare hasn't been a part in many years, but I can only assume that were it not in existence, I'd be enough of a financial burden that companies would be looking to release me to reduce their costs.

I absolutely freak out when I think of how things go wrong with insurers. And a few times they could have.

Hospital financial folks have routinely tried to find ways to get Jamie bumped from having Medicare as her primary insurer, intentionally and otherwise. Jamie has spent work weeks on the phone with the insurance companies sorting her situations. One doctor started Jamie on a treatment that an insurer decided sounded a little "experimental" for their tastes, which, given that it had already started, would have wiped us out completely had a weeks-long letter-writing campaign not ensued (I was looking at our options for a legal annulment to see if that wouldn't help solidify our financial picture).

Through all of this, Jamie has managed to have phenomenal doctors, paid in whole or part by Medicare. I think they probably do okay, financially. I should mention that her quality of treatment had everything to do with the quality of her doctor, which varied wildly, and who, I am sure, had no idea who was paying them.

We know for a fact that Norway, Denmark, France, England, and many other perfectly healthy, educated countries get by just fine with socialized medicine. Pointing to the occasional Canadian who visits the US to expedite their treatment shouldn't really convince anyone the system is a failure, any more than Americans flying to India for cheap surgery indicates that's the only option. The Canadians are not dropping dead in the streets.

And, hey America, take it as a challenge to sort out the the issues that you feel our European and Northern neighbors have not worked out. Does America believe that the Canadians or French have the last word on how this could work? I say boo to this lack of vision.

Secondly, consider the sources who are telling you new policy will kill old people, that it will mean worse care (doctors are generally only spending about five minutes with each patient these days, anyway), etc... Before listening to that Rep or Senator, see how much they took from medical lobbyists in the past year. I'm not saying your local politician is a crook, but the lobbies don't just give away money because its fun.

Thirdly, I understand that Medicare alone has not paid for the system we currently have. But it also isn't NOT helping fund our current system. Nor are you already not basically paying for collective medical care with insurance to begin with (it's just that someone is currently making a profit off you hedging your bets).

The truth is, we don't really know what would happen to health care with a new system, except where we've seen it work with appropriate funding. Yes, there's potential for waste, but there's enormous waste in the current system (any hospital still using paper records should be shut down). No, there's no centralized database, which you're going to wish there was when you have a stroke in Cleveland and somebody wants your medical history before treating you. But those shouldn't be show-stoppers. Those should be problems we can look to be solved by a medley of private and public works.

I issue this challenge: If the Pro-Life folks are truly Pro-Life, that shouldn't end with the usual issues. It's not enough to just insist that if you have to go on living, so does everybody else. Why does the philosophy not also suggest a certain responsibility to want to keep each other alive and healthy while they're here? Maybe giving up a little more to Uncle Sam to pay for this stuff is just putting your money where your mouth is.

There is no doubt in mind that when someone becomes sick who you don't know, people (a) either put it out of mind as much as possible, and (b) occasionally try to find karmic/ magical reasons why that person became sick. Ie: I don't really believe we've ever shaken the superstitious belief that maybe when people get sick, maybe sorta fate/ God/ what-have-you, is sharing some message with the healthy? AKA: They deserve it, so how far out of my way should I go?

Traveling outside the state again reminded me of exactly what an absolutely enormous country we live in. There are hundreds of millions of us. We have enormous potential and power in this population. If we willed it, we could see to it that kids could get insurance, that people who lost their jobs could get coverage/ health care, that people whose workplaces are cutting benefits left and right have an option.

Call it "socialism", fine. It's a label as good as any. But it also doesn't immediately mean we're rolling over to work in Stalin's work camps. We might see a little less lucre in our pockets, and maybe we can't afford that box set of Dawson's Creek this month, but maybe it's a sign we're as worried about the next guy as we like to think we are.

And I do not say this lightly as someone who wakes up and checks his wife for any sign of illness every morning. Like anything else, tomorrow you could wake up with FSGS. Or your spouse or children. And you're going to find out that (a) people don't really care, and (b) this could easily wipe you out completely, and when the money goes, so does the ability to keep someone alive. I consider myself incredibly lucky that the government had the foresight to put Medicare in place, which is socialized medicine by any measure.

Your freedom of life will be limited enough. Your choice of employment will decrease in a way you can't begin to imagine as you start looking at benefits packages before salaries, career futures, etc... And you try very, very hard not to become one of those stories you see on the evening news about some middle-class family in Tennessee struggling to make it after one of them suddenly fell ill.

You'll note I've shut off the comments for this post. I don't do this often, but I'm doing it this time. I consider this an issue of life or death for Jamie. That's where it begins and ends. It is not an abstract discussion about whether Obama is trying to turn the whole country upside down as a damn, dirty liberal. Or whether you believe that the government can't do anything right. This is an actual issue that effects millions of people, being voted upon by government workers who get the rad benefits package that many people go to work for the government to obtain in lieu of salary.

I wish you happiness and health for you and your families. May you never be in need of government subsidized medical care. May you never worry about how you'll pay the hospital bill, or worry that your insurer will drop you because you finally need them. May they never declare your life-saving treatment "too experimental". May the people processing your insurance information get your data inputted correctly, and the minimum wage person handling your claim not screw you so they can go to lunch early.

Anyway, in addition to shutting down comments, I'm going on hiatus for a while. This is a non-political blog, and I don't feel comfortable having talked about any of this.

So here's Ren and Stimpy to take your mind off what a naive moron I am:

Monday, August 03, 2009

Superman: Cartoons, Commies, Movie Rumor Repeat, Conspiracy!

80's Superman Cartoon Coming to DVD

In 1988, Ruby-Spears, who was responsible for a lot of the animation folks my age grew up on, put out a Superman cartoon. I've never had opportunity to see it except as clips on YouTube.

It seems that either Austin didn't carry the show, or I wasn't rising early enough on Saturday to catch it. At any rate, the show didn't last long, and has largely been forgotten.

WB's Home Video group must know that the Superman contingency will buy anything with the "S" on it, because they do, in fact, have a steady stream of these sorts of things that have been coming out of the vault since around '03.

According to The Superman Homepage
, the cartoon is getting its due and coming to Home Video in November.

I'm 34 and have a mortgage, so its pretty obvious I should care a lot about this sort of thing, I would think.

Anyway, yes, this thing will find its way into The League's official Superman Library.

Here's the opening for the show.

Italian Commies Love Superman

Apparently Italian Communists have stumbled across Mark Millar's re-telling of the Superman mythos, "Red Son", in which an infant Superman lands in a Stalinist Collective Farm instead of Kansas. Raised in that sort of parallel world of Russia we all learned about from movies like "Firefox" (which was awesome), Kal-El becomes a great Commie Benefactor to his Commie People, fighting off Capitalist Pigs like Lex Luthor (whose wife, Lois, carries a torch for the barrel chested bread-line-stander).

In our actual world, having not learned that Communism failed or turned into N. Korea, the Italian Communist Party (again, this part is real, not a comic) has adopted the Hammer and Sickle Super-Emblem and artwork from the comic for their very own. Luckily, the commies are looking to make a buck off the shirts.

I'd buy that for a lira!

Much more on this here.

It is clear the Commies are failing. They do not offer the shirt in the more prosperous sizes I would need to fit into one of their T's.

Viva America!

Superman Fans Are Panicky Tools

So there's a rumor going around that the next Superman feature will be helmed by the Wachowski Bros., who lost Warner Bros. an untold fortune with the epic fail that was "Speed Racer". Here.

What nobody seems to notice is that this is the same rumor from February. That was debunked back then.

That hasn't kept the Super-nerds from totally freaking out.

Superman of the Muslim Persuasion?

I assure you, if you're a DC fan and don't buy into wing-nut conspiracy theories, this is hilarious.

from our Canadian Friend, Simon.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Place your bets here...

So Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, famous for accidentally removing credibility from the McCain campaign (sorry, Palin fans, its true) has resigned her post as Governor.

My guess is that Palin received an opportunity for a lucrative television contract. Something along the lines of a talk show (isn't the modern dream to be Oprah Winfrey?) or something on Fox.

But, I also have no doubt that its all part of her plans for 2012. If that's the case, this voter is really looking forward to the primaries.

Any other theories?

Perhaps this recent Vanity Fair article could shed some light...

thanks to Randy for starting this whole conversation

Monday, March 09, 2009

President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho

Sunday I watched about twenty minutes of the 2006 movie "Idiocracy". The movie wasn't terribly popular, but:

(a) the more times I stumble across it, the funnier I find it
(b) it's kind of stunning how swiftly we're all moving towards the world Mike Judge predicted. Gleefully so. Which is most likely why we didn't find it funny.

The problem, I think, with the poor showing "Idiocracy" had at the box office is only partially that its not a bad-ass dystpoian future of motorcycle gangs and gun fights or robots to fight against. It wasn't one single-source who doomed us who is looking for a savior. It was us who defeated us by acting pretty much how us acts. There's nobody to blame in Judge's future but ourselves, and his predictions aren't wild speculation, but the logical extension (although satirical) of how we deal with politics, shopping, entertainment, healthcare, mega-corporations, etc...

Welcome to CostCo. I love you.

The twenty minutes I watched included the part of the movie where President Camacho has appointed Luke Wilson's literal everyman Joe as Secretary of Agriculture or something so he can figure out why the crops aren't growing. Joe learns that its because they're spraying fields with a Power-Ade-like energy drink rather than water.

The people give Joe's solution of using water instead of Power-Ade on their plants about two days (at which point, the Power-Ade company goes bankrupt, because farmers were spraying large quantities of it on their plants, assuring the profitability of the energy drink company), and begin to riot outside the White House, which leads to Joe's trial and attempted execution by Monster Truck.

And as I watch CNN's headlines tick by, I can't help but note... We are Idiocracy.

Obama has been in office for about 6 weeks. We've had about 9 years or more of absolutely horrendous lending and financial practices which Obama is now being asked, both explicitly and implicitly, to fix. And watching the headlines, it all seems inevitable that he will be blamed if things don't begin a turn-around by 2011.

I sort of predicted that when Obama took office, people were going to be shocked that he couldn't magically fix everything by smiling at it and giving us a confident nod.

What's eye-rollingly irritating is that the press seems to kind of assume there's some obvious, single solution to our current dire financial straits, and that while THEY might not know what the solution is, and despite what every financial analyst they stick a micropphone in front of says its going to be years, there's an implicit suggestion in the headlines that its the job of the president to flip a switch and make it okay again. We're not to learn lessons, look within ourselves as a nation to see how we got here. We're to start buying houses we can't afford again and to make everything just how it was if you rolled the clock back to 2007 (when signs were beginning to show trouble, anyway).

We're seeing stories about how gray Obama has already become, how he's been working late, and that his budget isn't some miracle cure-all.

I guess my question is, sure, the former Pro-Wrestler, machine gun toting Camacho is a satirical stereotype... But you can't help but think "hey, the press and certain parties would be touting how Camacho was taking action and making decisions that were popular in the polls", so how far are we from "Ow, My Balls" and a push-button healthcare system where self-examination has been bred out of us all together?

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Presidential Language

It seems that President Obama did the narration for the audio versions of his own books, which makes complete sense.

What makes it interesting is when the President starts quoting other people. Other people who might have more of a, shall we say, common manner of speech than what we normally associate with the leader of the free world.

Needless to say, our more sensitive Leaguers will want to bypass this link. So, Judy, do not click here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama Inaugurated

I don't think I can say anything new on this. We had an official policy at UT that said it was okay to take time to watch the inauguration, but I have to make the time up. So I'll be doing that fifteen to twenty minutes a day for the rest of the week.

Excellent speech (but not necessarily one that will go down in history). I've been very pleased with Obama's focus on the challenges rather than riding the wave of celebrity and his and the First Lady's call to service. An interesting and worthwhile challenge to Americans.

We watched the Neighborhood Inauguration Ball on ABC, which was an interesting mix of performers. Sting, Shakira (who I will never complain about), Beyonce, Jay Z, Faith Hill.

This leads to my challenge: You have been elected to the highest office in the land. Who are five bands you'd insist play your inaugural ball?

Keep in mind, you are now leader of the free world and that while we all like 2 Live Crew, they may not be appropriate for the occasion.

Gran Torino

Was fine. It wasn't anywhere near as great as I was told it would be, nor do I get the accolades I've seen in the ads. I don't think it was as good or as nuanced as Unforgiven (which I guess won Best Picture, so...). And I think I just like The Outlaw Josey Wales better.

Plus, aside from Eastwood, I wasn't all that impressed by his supporting cast. Especially the two neighbor kids who were so crucial to the plot (neither of whom had any previous credits on IMDB).

It's not a bad movie. It's fine. It was just exactly what I expected from the trailers, and not a whole lot more.

Cate Blanchett Movies

I also watched "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" and "Notes on a Scandal". I actually believed both were true stories until I Googled "Notes on a Scandal".

I wasn't nuts about "Notes" while I was watching it, and then learning it wasn't a true story then made me kind of wonder what the point was, if not "well, this happened, and it was weeeeeird". I guess there are so many oddball stories about teacher/ student scandals that a fictionalized one (even a fictionalized one with Cate Blanchett) seems sort of redundant, SWF aspects aside.

I liked "Elizabeth II: Electric Boogaloo" a bit better, although it wasn't as well constructed a film as the original "Elizabeth".

Blanchett is, I should mention, excellent in both.

Most People are to Kate Winslet as The League is to Cate Blanchett

Signal Watch

A second Signal Watch column is up at Comic Fodder.

Friday Night Lights

I watched FNL's season premier over the weekend. The show seems very much back on track with the first season, which is still one of the best seasons of TV put together. Sadly, the second season was a soap-opera-esque mess that I eventually walked away from. Glad to see they're back on track. Even if this is Tim Riggins' and Lyla Garrity's third senior year.

Anyhow, if you liked the first season, it seems they may be back on track.

Monday, January 19, 2009

This Moment in History: Obama Inauguration/ MLK Day

Jamie, Lucy and I spent some time this weekend watching CNN footage of the inaugural activities going on in Washington DC.

It's tough to listen to the endless stream of superlatives and attempts by the commentators to repeatedly remind viewers of the historical significance of Obama's inauguration without feeling that it's just a portion of the significance. A vast portion, to be sure, but it does seem that it's almost forgetting the campaign and messages Barack Obama shared which lead to his election. It's not that I'm not aware of the fact that we have a changing of the guard, or that Obama is African-American. I get all that, and I get the historical significance of what it means for the character of the U.S. that the generations that would never have seen or allowed a man of Obama's racial make-up and background to ascend to the White House have either fallen away or have had a change of mind and heart.

These are things to celebrate, and, of course, its fitting that the inauguration would fall on the day following the national holiday celebrating Dr. King's message and legacy.

Before its forgotten, Obama wasn't elected or not elected because of race (although I do not want to dismiss the meaning for the U.S.). I would posit that he was elected because of the ideas that Barack Obama brought to the campaign trail.

I could appreciate that Obama's first volley was to reject big money donors to the campaign and rely mostly upon the smaller contributions of individuals. Sure, there were days when I thought that if I got one more e-mail from the campaign, I was going to scream, but rather than wondering what Obama would feel he owed certain contributors once in office, I knew what Obama was at least attempting to do by letting thousands have their voice rather than the needs of large donors. And, I could appreciate the make-or-break nature of such a plan, right up to the requests for donations to support the inaugural balls rather than having the Exxon Inaugural Ball, what have you...

If we're serious about government for the people, by the people, then I can get behind a person who has the vision to try to run their campaign by having faith in their supporters as much as possible. While they're important, I can believe in a candidate who recognizes that corporations are not people, and a politican who would rather be financially supported by thousands of individuals who believe in him than by behemoth groups looking for a quid pro quo.

There are also Obama's stances on international engagement, use of military force, health care, education and more that were welcome changes (and Senator Clinton reflected many of those same stances, so my choice making was made difficult). All of these things were incredibly important to me as a I selected my candidate of choice, and only rarely did I see Obama need to shift his message of plan for any of these issues. And I hope that Obama will work with Congress, and Congress with Obama to implement the messages put forth during the long, long campaign season.

The economy is an enormous issue, and I've appreciated Obama's straightforward discussion of what America faces in the months leading up to the inauguration. No one would envy Obama the challenges facing him as he steps into the Oval Office, and I will be watching closely to see what plans he and Congress cook up. It's my sincere hope that partisanship will only serve to craft refined economic plans as each party keeps the other honest. (I also hope for more in the way of job-creation rather than merely propping up crumbling financial empires, but that's just me).

The underlying tone of the enthusiasm one sees on cable news isn't just for a certain person to come into the presidency, but a hope and faith placed into Obama as a sign that the status quo of politics in the U.S. has the potential for change at this moment. While anyone over the age of 22 is probably jaded enough to know only so much can change, we can ask for President Obama to not fall prey to the partisanship of the past 20 or more years, political dynasties, what have you... to work in service to all Americans and not the implied oligarchy of "those who know what's best for you" that we've seen during such a huge swath of my lifetime. Or politicians who are admired for how they game the system rather than for their policies and how they lead.

But a lot of what Obama has promised has not been a change that he can carry on his own. The motto, after all was "Yes, we can", not "Your government has got it covered". So I find it fitting that the day before Obama is inaugurated, we find ourselves honoring the leadership of Dr. King and his quest for racial harmony and social justice. But MLK Day isn't just a bank and postal holiday, but also a day of service and remembering. No official can successfully lead by asking for their citizenry to remain unengaged or place their fates into the hands of their leaders without thought. Obama's calls for engagement in our community will need to be heeded, and already I'm getting e-mails from the First Lady asking for my service. And, honestly, its giving me a moment of pause. What can I do? Am I the change I wish to see?

Will we blame Obama when we, ourselves, fail? What can we do to ensure not that Obama succeeds, but that America succeeds?

Everything leading up to 12:00 Eastern tomorrow has been nothing but a prelude. We do not know what the future holds, or what compromises Obama will find himself in as he sits down with his cabinet this first week. Inevitably, the cheering throngs will decide (perhaps one by one) that Obama has disappointed them somehow as personal agendas go unaddressed, as congress stalls in pushing through reforms, laws, policy...

But we do have a choice under new leadership, and a leadership that has been fairly clear in that it is a "we". Americans need to remember that asking for a vote is asking for very little. "Yes, we can" is not just a call to show up at the polls, but a promise that we'll do better.

I'm celebrating the 43rd peaceful transition of power, of a hope for a better tomorrow, and for what it means to have this person at this time stepping into the position to be the face of America. I don't want to diminish the resonance that MLK Day has so close to the election, but to celebrate the sort of person who we've chosen to lead us, perhaps based not upon the color of his skin, but upon the content of his character.

Edit: By the way, while I was writing this, President-Elect Obama and Michelle Obama announced the USA Service website.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

This Moment in History: Interesting Day in Politics

Firstly, it seems that President Bush rounded up his father, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter to join he and Barack Obama for lunch.

Say what you will about any of these people, but if there's one lunch that should have been recorded for posterity... While perhaps not as mindblowing as imagining John Adams lunching with, say... Thomas Jefferson and non-Prez Ben Franklin... or any of the lunches that would have had to have occurred in Philadelphia in 1776, there's no doubting that the conversation had to have been worthy of some archiving.

Hopefully W. did better than the hot dog lunch he served John McCain.

Read up on the lunch here.

Meanwhile, Blogojevich's pick for the Illinois Senate seat vacated by President-Elect Obama has been held off by a lack of some official seals, signatures and the fact that the Dems in Senate don't want anyone selected by Blagojevich within ten miles of the Capitol.

It's kind of fascinating to watch this wrech unfold, which you can do here.

And Al Franken, of all people, is poised to claim a Minnesota Senate seat after narrowly squeaking out votes in a recount (I think it was a difference of 225). Franken's opponent has promised to sue, which will gum things up for a good, long time.

You can read up on that fiasco here.

And my favorite story is, of course, that Porn Kingpin Larry Flynt has petitioned the US. Congress for a bailout of the porn industry.

I'm not someone who looks down his nose at the porn industry in a "there's trouble right here in River City" sort of way. It's simultaneously an incredibly complex issue and an astoundingly simple issue, and may be capitalism and freedom gone awry in their purest form.

And while I am not a reader of Flynt's foremost publication, Hustler, I am one of the goofy millions who find his antics quite awesome. Less so "Girls Gone Wild" entrepreneur and pervy drunk-girl-exploiter, Joe Francis. But the two joined forces to write a letter today to congress beseeching them for a bailout of $5 billion for themselves and their smut generating brethren. A bailout, I might add, its not clear the evergreen industry of porn needs as, even as folks are tightening their financial belts, they're continuing to simultaneously loosen their actual belts.

Anyhow, I have often saluted Flynt's chutzpah and creative use of attorneys, and it seems I must tip my hat to the man once again. Uncle Larry isn't worried about himself. He's worried about us!

"People are too depressed to be sexually active," Flynt said in the statement. "This is very unhealthy as a nation. Americans can do without cars and such but they cannot do without sex."

Read here.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Fireside chats

There's an odd mix of admiration and fear in this report. Speaking to Jason recently, I said I thought Obama should learn from the problems that stemmed from the Bush administration's lack of communication and look to FDR's fireside chats as we face numerous challenges as a nation. I had honestly forgotten about Reagan's radio addresses, even though I have memories of sitting on the floor, playing with Legos and listening to the Gipper circa 1984.

Anyhoo, its kinda funny that you can hear the puzzlement in the report regarding this mysterious tool called the interweb.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Day After

Chinese President Hu Jintao on Obama's election

"In a new historical era, I look forward to taking our bilateral relationship of constructive co-operation to a new level."

He just feels too deeply. That's Hu's problem.

You can read more reactions from world leaders here.

I would especially point to the quote by European Commission Chief Jose Manuel Barroso:
This is a time for a renewed commitment between Europe and the United States of America. We need to change the current crisis into a new opportunity. We need a new deal for a new world.

I sincerely hope that with the leadership of President Obama, the United States of America will join forces with Europe to drive this new deal - for the benefit of our societies, for the benefit of the world.

I find it telling that Barroso conjures up the image of FDR and The New Deal, and completely understandable. Perhaps Obama's situation is different from that of FDR (history buffs will no doubt come up with a million ways in which I am wrong), but there are certain parallels, and certain challenges which are much the same. A spiralling economy, a world which seems on the tip of global conflict.

FDR did not live to see the conclusion of the war or the prosperity which followed. But he did live to see his policies and programs help his fellow Americans (my own grandfather supported his family with, I believe, NYA work). But I guess the point is that he used his position to try to prop up the economy on both macro and micro-levels, and perhaps we can learn from that.

He was also a great friend to Allied Europe (obviously), and understood international cooperation, and negotiation. Including doing as good a job as I guess one could have done working with a crackpot like Stalin in order to achieve victory in Europe and Japan.

If Barroso is hoping for another FDR... Well, let's give it a few months before we start calling the man a failure.

But he's also asking that Obama, America and perhaps Europe see opportunity in our current multiple crises. Opportunity, one assumes, to not go back to what led us into these messes in the first place, but a way back out. That perhaps with that whole "leader of the free world" tag comes some responsibility to act the part.

Of course, all of this is academic until January, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be paying close attention to what the President-elect begins to line up for that first hundred days.

I don't want to come across as a negative nelly, but I think since my ill-fated Nader vote, I'm usually fairly pragmatic about politics (but maybe not my ideals). I stumbled across this article by an historian discussing the inevitable disappointment in Obama as he attempts to tackle the challenges ahead and is unable to magically create 100K-earning jobs, free energy and unicorns to cart children to wizard school.

Here you go.

I am reminded of the Clintons' attempts to re-design healthcare, and the roadblocks tossed in their way by their own party. Or Bush's attempts to outsource social programs, etc... Sometimes, things just don't happen.

Obama is in a good place. He carried a lot of people in with him on his coattails. Hopefully Pelosi and Co. can do more with the next two years than the past two they've sort of squandered, and/ or done things that were expedient rather than wise.

But its also a narrow window. Clinton was in office for a short period before Newt and Co. rode into town with their Contract with America, creating a voting majority with a very different agenda from his own. I wouldn't encourage the same monarchy-in-all-but-name status Bush enjoyed from 2001-2006 as both houses rolled over for the man, but no doubt its going to be less of a deadlock than one might see with legislative and executive branches bumping heads.

When you boil it down, I'm not feeling celebratory. Today I'm feeling pretty sober about the responsibilities handed to President-Elect Obama.

I'm not one of those people who says "Gee, this is the toughest time humanity ever had it", because, really... we're humanity. The way we treat each other is abysmal and we're generally our own biggest enemy unless you want to talk influenza or marauding bears or something. Losing value in your house sucks, but not as much as, say, the Black Plague or the Spanish Inquisition. It feels big because it is.

But we are sitting on a pile of pickles right now that it'd be handy if we could sort them out without bankrupting the nation or causing a 2000 year vendetta war. What's key is that we pick a direction (a new direction, because, seriously...) and go with it, while being agile and wise enough to change course when what we're doing isn't working. And a person who will see their role and service as a privileged responsibility.

We won't know until our President-Elect takes office.

But I am optimistic. That's the value of change, in many ways. It provides an opportunity (there's that word again) for progress rather than trying to trying to merely maintain the status quo. Especially when you're looking at a whole big pile of pickles awaiting you on Day 1 of the new job.

What I was glad Obama called out (and which I'm not sure was heard, but, you know dude's gotta try) was that he needs for the citizenry to step it up. He won't be able to do this alone. He asked for service and sacrifice, something we have an odd relationship with in the US (and I do, in particular).

Going beyond the rhetoric, can a person inspire others to greater deeds?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Obama wins

Well, it's done with. I mean, as of this moment, Obama has not yet taken the stage, but John McCain has given an amazing conciliatory speech. It was a reminder that despite the sturm und drang of the election cycle that McCain was more than worthy of his party's nomination and the nation's consideration for leadership.

It's not a secret that I've been no fan of the administration that's been in place for eight years. I've felt that we made a lot of mistakes and much of the recent past doesn't reflect the principles of the America in which I wanted to live.

Whether McCain or Obama, tomorrow would have meant a moment for change to what I believe would have been a better America.

Obama campaigned on more issues upon which I agreed than any other candidate from his first days on the trail. I can only hope that he is able to carry out some of his planned policies. I am truly happy he won.

Well, I just took a break from blogging to watch Obama's speech. Transcript here.

As Obama said (and I'm paraphrasing here) the campaign victory isn't the real victory. Perhaps its a cliche, but now the real work of the next few years begins. Obama himself outlined the challenges ahead for the nation and for himself as the torch is passed. Here's to hoping we're (all of us) up to the challenge.

Perhaps appropriately, while I had just seen Obama crest 297 electoral votes on my laptop, the first person I saw on television announce Obama's victory was Jon Stewart (if you missed this evening's Daily Show/ Colbert Report broadcast, it was by-and-large very good).

That's enough for tonight. I'm tired. You're tired.

Tomorrow is a new and different day.

Here's that line:

This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were.

Vote for REAL change

Vote your conscience. Vote for a more Haley Mills-rich world. Vote Sleestak.

this ad paid for by Citizens for Ultimate Power for Sleestak

Monday, November 03, 2008


Someone isn't going to enjoy tomorrow evening. Make sure its not you. Get your voice heard. Vote your socks off.

The picture above is Rockwell's "Vote for Casey". No matter the election, by 8:00 on election night, this image is always at the back of my mind.

random bits


I keep forgetting to download Girl Talk's latest. Someone remind me to do so (JAL).

Also, I have not yet purchased the new Byrne/ Eno album. I need to do so. Well, NEED is a strong word. I will live to see tomorrow without the record, but... do I really want to?

TAL and Public Radio:

I have not downloaded This American Life to my iPod in MONTHS. Last night I did so, but it seems it only took a few podcasts to my iPod. I am missing the one Randy mentioned to me, I think, which includes a story on a guy who dresses as Superman every single day.

That's commitment, Leaguers. Or commitable.

TAL is one of the greatest programs in any medium. I feel I fail myself when I do not keep up. But I also know I need a full hour of my life to give to the show without any reading, visual or auditory distractions, and finding the time is often very difficult.

Ira Glass, btw, was hilarious during the recent KUT pledge drive. I guess he did this for public radio in general, but he called people he knew hadn't ever pledged to public radio before and confronted them as only Ira Glass can, in his unmistakable voice.

Great radio.

BTW, if you didn't pledge to your local public radio affiliate, get on the stick.

A win for TPR over KUT, btw. My in-laws were getting both in San Marcos, but sunspots or some damned thing are interfering with their TPR reception, so my father-in-law was plotting the installation of a new antenna solely for the reception of TPR as, apparently, John Ailey is not his cup of tea.

Well played, Mr. Nathan.

Election Night Coverage

The GOPers in the readership will groan, but I may stick with NPR's coverage of the election results Tuesday night. And probably the Colbert/ Stewart hour long live thing.

I believe the Comedy Central show ss called Indecision '08 and will begin running at 10:00 Eastern.

Otherwise, I may eschew television as... seriously, John King, I know what a SmartBoard is. Quit touching it and writing on it. It's obnoxious. You're like a five year spazzing out at the science museum.

And by the way...

How sad that Obama's grandmother passed away prior to the election results (provided he wins, which I'm guessing he might based on recent polls).

I was going to write a long thing here about the paranoid conspiracy nuts and Obama's recent return to Hawaii to see his grandmother... but mostly, I just feel bad that Obama has been robbed of his mother and father already. And then to lose the grandmother who cared for him so close to the election...

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Election Day Eve

Michael and JAL's candidate of choice

Hoo-Boy. It finally draws to a close in the next 72 hours somewhere (if we're lucky and don't get a repeat of the Waking Nightmare that was the 2000 election).

I was reading Mere's blog and had, what you humans call, an eeee-moh-shun. Mere's post demonstrated the spirit I think we all could consider from this moment forward regarding the election. Here's a link to the original post. You should click over.

So as we approach the election, I thought I'd discuss my rather rudimentary understanding of SCIENCE (which, Leaguers, you can never have enough of).

But... it seems to me that we are all but cosmic dust, coming from The Source, be that of the Big Bang or the Divine or both, depending upon your interpretation (your parsecs may vary). We're cosmic particles, wandering about the mass of particles that happened to congeal at just the right place beyond the sun, and with just the right mixture of Nitrogen, Oxygen, Hydrogen, etc... to spawn a planet which could sustain life.

In short, we're made of the same stuff. We carry around roughly the same chemical make-up, we all depend upon oxygen and water and food. We're born, we live, we rock out, and, eventually, we return to the infinite. As important as something as pro and con evidence is regarding Supply-Side Economics, etc... at the end of the day, if we can simply agree to disagree and somehow do it without forcing one another back into the dirt in making that decision... we're one step closer to being more than well coiffed chimps with combustion engines. And, in many ways, that's the real magic of democracy.

Randy and JimD's candidate of choice

There's a lot that shuffles out from that ideal of not throwing a coup because Our Guy lost the popularity contest. There's a suggestion of being better than our nature would have us... and that means we move beyond grudgingly accepting our political fate for four years, and gracefully accept the choice of others as best we can, as equals, even as we plan for another try. And, again, there's a lot that shuffles out from the concept of equality that we're still working on, I think. And sometimes we willingly work against that ideal.

Well, maybe most of the time.

Steanso's reason for being such an ardent Obamamaniac

So on Election Eve, we can pause for that same, quiet night that pre-sages the dawn and the chaos of Election Day as, say, Christmas Eve. Perhaps its to a lesser degree, but if we play our cards right, it could be a night of waiting and Hope, in much the same way that Christians embrace the night to such a degree that the warring factions in the trenches of the Western Front in 1914 ceased hostilities, sharing carols and small gifts (and surely there's a lesson here regarding what we really want, what's truly important, and how we get into these pickles to begin with).

We're not in trenches of a battlefield, but what political pundits see as the excitement of the election trail does seem to plow its own trenches in the psyche of a nation that was probably diagnosable as paranoid schizophrenic to begin with.

So Happy Election Eve, Leaguers.

Go out there. Vote. Be at peace with the election results as best you can. I promise, neither of the Big 2 candidates will intentionally drive the country off a cliff (but I'm not promising anything about Nader).


The Peanuts characters are running for office on iTunes (I am so downloading these videos)

Apparently Obama does not know the difference between The Green Hornet and Green Lantern. Which is but one part of a many-fold geek gaffe.

a) The Green Hornet's partner was Kato. Originally played by Bruce Lee. If he's comparing McCain to Kato, he just made McCain 10 points cooler by accident. Poorly played.

b) Conjuring up the Green Lantern's side-kick invokes the silver-age image of Tom "Pieface" Kulmaku. It's a bit of stretch to get to the nickname (Tom is Inuit, thus an Eskimo, so "Eskimo Pie", thus... "Pieface"), but I assure you, its that casual racism that used to creep into comics back in the day. Oddly, Tom was never portrayed as much of a stereotype, because I'm not sure there are any stereotypes of Inuit people.

Oh, well. While it's always weak to see a candidate botch a pop culture reference (even one 40 years old), it's not really an area in which I hope Obama has much expertise. That said... if you're going to botch a Green Hornet reference, why bother?

The wacky Obama-poster stuff came from this thing at the Village Voice. I admit, I saw it first at Randy's site.

The League reveals his Candidate of Choice

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Vote Early

I really didn't have much of a wait when I voted early the other day. There was a line, but the volunteers at the poll were really moving us through the registration portion, and they had a good number of booths.

Apparently Travis County has already seen a large early voting count, and I'm betting your locality will, too. I'm also betting the turnout for this election will be huge, and that can translate into some lengthy lines on November 4th. And while I like exercising my rights and privilege as an American as much as the next guy, standing in the cold in a line before work isn't something I'd do if I could avoid it.

And that's the miracle of early voting (especially if you've been pretty sure how you were voting on all ballot items for a while). I don't know how it is where you live, but Travis Co. seems to have done a very good job of getting a multitude of sites up with convenient hours.

See what your office policy is for giving you time off for voting (or figure out how to dump the kids on someone else for half an hour) and get out there and get to the polls before early voting ends in your area.

Also, make sure you understand how the vote is cast at your polling location. Apparently the same locality in Florida with the hanging chads of 2000 has been through several voting options as they've tried to find a system that works for voters. They've had trouble with people misunderstanding how the ballots of different types scored votes and the stories would be funny if it weren't such a mess.

I'm a bit uncomfortable with Travis Co.'s current system as it doesn't give the voter a receipt or paper trail. I double checked all my selections before hitting "submit ballot", but I've worked in IT long enough to know... that means absolutely nothing unless you have a way to verify your selections after the fact. But for now, I'm taking it on faith that the system is working.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Well, I have no choice now...

Well, pretty clearly Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain have both been after my vote all year long. But how did Mr. Obama seal it up today?

From this article:

Said Obama: "Contrary to the rumors you have heard, I was not born in a manger. I was actually born on Krypton and sent here by my father, Jor-el, to save the planet Earth," a reference to Superman.

Really, it's like McCain hasn't even been trying to appeal to me as a geek. Where's invocation of The Force? His reference to his Spidey Sense? Oh, wait...

I believe McCain served on the USS Enterprise.

Well played, sir. Well played.