Friday, March 08, 2013

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) This is good news for John McCain's campaign! By the way, President Obama has just exceeded, in three years of recovery, the job creation record of eight years of George W. Bush.
2) The UN voted yesterday to impose sanctions on North Korea in response to their continued nuclear testing. Not only did China vote yes, it helped write the resolution. Not surprisingly, this angered Kim Jong Un.
3) Hugo Chavez's funeral will be held today after he succumbed to his lengthy illness. The US will be represented by Congressman Gregory Meeks of New York and former Congressmen Ed Delahunt from Massachussetts.
4) Today is International Women's Day. I can't wait for the first asshat on the right to whine about no International Men's Day.
5) Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post suddenly notices conservatives are doin' it rong. I wonder if she's a vampire, since she clearly doesn't see herself in her own mirror. But it is nice to know that my observation last week that conservatives would start to blow themselves up shortly after the sequester was imposed is coming true. By the way, Paul's was not the most significant filibuster of even that day. This filibuster, you probably didn't ever hear about.
6) Nooooo, ya think????
7) He reminds me of when Willie Mays tried to hang on with the Mets. Go away. Just. Go. Away.
8) Daylight Savings Time begins Sunday morning. Don't forget!
9) Will this round of handshaking and backslapping get Congress to come to the bargaining table in good faith, given the conservative implosion?
10) The more I read, the more I'm convinced that Ashley Judd will run for Senate against Yertle the Turtle from Kentucky.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Camels in the Tundra

A Sequestion For You

As sequestration begins, Republicans have been overtaken with something close to giddiness, and Democrats seized with gloom. It appeared as recently as a few months ago that the threat of across-the-board cuts, disproportionately hurting defense, would force Republicans to negotiate a long-term debt reduction agreement. But Republicans are happily announcing their willingness –and, in many cases, outright eagerness -- to absorb a hit to spending of any kind whatsoever, and their total resistance to higher revenue in any form. And so the GOP is already celebrating its victory, even speaking of their great triumph in the past tense, as a done deal (“This was a necessary win for Republicans,” exults a GOP aide) while liberals are already bemoaning Obama’s miscalculation.

The great Republican budget victory may yet arrive. It certainly hasn’t happened yet, and it’s far from certain it ever will.

The first question is whether House Republicans can sustain their refusal to consider their no-revenue, no-negotiation stance. Public opinion may not be the thing that stops them. Americans oppose government spending in general and favor it in particular. An ABC poll today finds strong public support for an across-the-board cut in federal spending. That is the result you’d expect from a poll that only asks about “federal spending.”

A couple of points should be made here:

1) The general public, despite the ABC poll Chait references, hold the Republicans responsible for the sequester. (Note the source.)

2) As I've pointed out on a couple of occasions, the sequester could be -- and probably is -- a sop to the Teabaggers to shut them up now that we've come to brass tacks. 

3) The essential point to make here is a question you should ask your conservative friends: Can you name five government programs that you like? If you can get a straight answer, you'll find that opposition to tax hikes actually collapses once people look at the details.

But I digress. Back to the political trenches. 

Weaker Boener is in a bind. You see, when he first agreed to the sequester back in 2011, he had to do yeoman work to persuade defense contractors that cuts to the DoD budget would never go through, that Republicans would find a way to exempt them. 

And indeed, they tried. Indeed, Weaker Boener rolled out a small-beer budget proposal yesterday that would restore defense spending to its pre-sequester levels.

Of course, it will never pass the Senate, and may not pass the House given the intractable nature of Boener's herded cats.

Put it this way: When Lindsey Graham is calling for tax hikes to pay for defense, you've got a lot of ground to catch up!

 So, to sum up, the GOP have won a gift battle against the Great Muslin Overlord, and are woefully unprepared for the vultures about to pick at their bones.


Does Anyone Carry These Anymore?

Not that this is a bad idea...the ban on pocketknives was pretty silly from the get-go...but when I was a kid, we'd carry them around for simple things like sharpening a pencil if we were away from a sharpener, stuff like that. I can't imagine in this day and age there's much use for these puppies.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

All About Nothing

I really got nothing today, so I'm just going to whine.
I'm frustrated, because the world that should be shaping up by all rights and by all evidence seems to be taking forever to move forward even a little.
The obstructionist tactics of those who oppose this great evolution in thinking are desperate and silly, and will only delay the inevitable, costing any number of avoidable costs. These changes will come, to be sure, but in the meantime, people who could benefit from them are starving and homeless, jobless and helpless.
This saddens me. God gave us a world to protect, to steward, and we have dropped the ball badly.
Footprints on Mars. Cleaner skies and water. All people living the dream of "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness," just as our Founders demanded, pledging their lives, sacred honor, and fortunes to achieve. Freedom meant more to them than money.
We've lost that ideal. We've lost the American dream. It's been warped into the shabby British saying, "I got mine, Jack."
That's not freedom. That's slavery. That's what conservatives want us to hold onto, to be enslaved to our wallets and bank accounts.
This all makes Jesus' life that much more poignant, if you think about it: he demanded his disciples give up all worldly things, that God would provide. Imagine how Jesus would react to this latest craze of tallying up dollar bills? I can't help but think He'd not be too pleased.
Too, our Founding Fathers might have a go at us for this attitude. Ben Franklin was all about saving pennies. I wonder how he'd feel about the squanderings all of us, but particularly the wealthy, commit in the name of "freedom."
And it's hard to opt out of it. Sure, we all know stories of the guy who clips coupons and buys second hand suits, and still has a rotary phone, but it takes dedication and stamina and let's face facts: who wants to live like that? I'm sure for every success story like that, there are hundreds, maybe thousands of people who tried and realized, "This isn't for me."
There's nothing wrong with that. The fault lies in our stars, literally. We worship celebrities who have no competitive advantage over us beyond a slightly better physiognomy and much less shame. We treat rich people like rock stars, as if someone having a bigger bank account will confer some boon upon us.
Oh, they might but like the guy who scrimps and saves, for every single one who benefits from largesse of those eating at the table, there are tens of millions fighting for the crumbs scattered about the floor.
This is trickle-down economics. There has to be a better way.
I've often written of the confluence of Marxism and capitalism, at least as proposed by Adam Smith originally. Today, I'm more convinced than ever that this is the direction we need to move in. No more corporations. No more "Too big too fail." No more shirking responsibility off onto society when things go bad, but when things are good, suddenly everything is "Mine! Mine! Mine!"
I have no problem with claiming what's rightly yours, but that includes mistakes and you get to have yours only after you've paid fealty to the things that got you to the point of earning serious coin: the society around you. This means if you're going to have layoffs, you're going to think long and hard, because those workers are basically your partners, either in the workplace or in the community. If you're going to pollute, you're going to be the one to clean it up, and not pay some fine to the town. And so on.
That's freedom, and it comes with the acknowledgement that you owe a debt to society that never ends. Indeed, all money is debt. It's just comes in a form that can be easily traded.
We have to stop deluding ourselves and start informing ourselves and each other. This is the future coming at us, and none of us has ever been there before. We should have our eyes open.

Monday, March 04, 2013

She Gives A Kick

An historic event occured over the weekend, and I'm betting you didn't even hear about it.
The NFL allowed a woman to try out for the first time in professional football. By all accounts, it did not go well:

[Lauren] Silberman kicked only twice. They were two kickoffs for a total of 30 yards. Only one crossed the midfield stripe – by a yard. After that, her day was over because she said she aggravated a quad injury she suffered in practice last week.

In the NFL, the ball is placed on the defense's 35 yard line, which means it must make it 65 yards to the other team's defensive end zone for a kicker to be considered effective. Granted, with an injury to a quad, a kicker is going to be far from effective which begs the question why not take a miss on this tryout and find a way to latch onto a team's training camp as a walk-on?

Sadly, the perception from the NFL owners and general managers will probably be more sexist than that.

Naturally, women have a hard row to hoe in making it to the major league level in professional sports. Abuot the only woman I can recall actually being on a major league roster of any kind was Manon Rheaume, who signed a contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning of the NHL and played in a couple of exhibition games before being released. She then played for the Atlanta Knights in the International Hockey League where she became the first woman to ever appear in an American professional sports league.

Other women who have gotten nibbles from American professional sports teams include Ann Meyers, who was given a tryout with the NBA Indiana Pacers in 1980, signing a $50,000 no-cut contract, the first woman ever to sign a major league contract, Michelle Wie and Annika Sorenstam, both of whom were admitted to at least one men's PGA tour event (neither making the cut), and Japanese pitcher Eri Yoshida, who has been scouted by a couple of MLB teams.

It's hard to imagine a woman making it to the NFL -- the risk of injury due to size differences alone make it unlikely -- but a kicker would be a good place to start, to be sure. And to be honest, I'm rather surprised that no woman has made it to major league baseball as a pitcher. Some women softballers can throw in excess of 100 mph regularly and an underhand motion would make for an attractive change of pace (pardon the baseball pun) to the overhand delivery of most male pitchers.
Even a knuckleballer, like Yoshida, would have little problem duplicating the speed of pitches thrown by reigning Cy Young Award winner R. A. Dickey.
I think it's really a matter of time and development. I suspect in my lifetime, we'll see a woman idolized in professional sports the way a Jackie Robinson was.