Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Democrat Debate

I really really enjoyed this debate. It was filled with some great exchanges and offered far more differing opinions on subjects than I suspected.

Here is a summary of what I learned:

They all love force. Every problem that was the subject of a question was answered with phrases like "we need to deal with" "we need to do something about" "we need to give" I did finally hear one of the candidates use the F-word to describe their policy. Keep in mind that what George Washington wrote about government was true --Government is force.

Joe Biden is pretty funny.

Hillary is the frontrunner for a reason.

Holy Crap! Dennis Kucinich saw a UFO not too awfully far from where I live!!!

Chris Dodd opened his mouth and made sense.

Bill Richardson is posturing for a VP position.

Apparently Barak Obama is black.

John Edwards was talking about two Americas again. I want to live in whichever America has a decent chance of him not being president.

Hillary likes the idea of three different types of driver's license. One that you can use at airports as photo ID, another that you can use to just drive your car, and one other that allows cops to know it's okay to use a stun gun on you.

You used to have to enter into discussions with government-program-loving-Democrats about the unintended consequences of their well-intended ideas but now you can win simply with one statement: WE'RE BROKE. Blame Bush, blame Reagan, blame Ford, blame whoever you want...it doesn't change what's true. The money is gone.

The next president whoever it is does not need to be looking for ways to spend money. This country needs bi-partisan cuts and sound currency before we'll ever be able to call ourselves prosperous again.

Oh, and one more thing: Kucinich is a space alien.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The problem with property taxes

I live in a county that is mail ballot only. Currently my ballot has not been opened and it sits on my kitchen counter. On it contains a proposed state constitutional amendment to allow School District Levies to pass with simple majority rather than the strong majority of 60%.

Who could be against that? I mean everyone I work with is going to vote for it because they support local schools and thinks it's very unfair and undemocratic for, let's say, 53% of people to approve a levy yet still have it fail. Who could be against that? Well, me for starters.

Here though is something to consider. The taxes for school levies are based upon a percentage of assessed land value and paid only by land owners. If you live in the school district and don't own land you are still eligible to vote yes or no on the tax. More to the point, someone can vote to impose a tax on their neighbor but not on themselves. This fact alone will cause me to vote NO on it. As a product of public schools I have since decided to not be a consumer of it later in life. After leaving a public high school...I did not take a tax payer subsidized loan for college and I did not go to a state school. Basically I paid my own way completely.

I don't think having a 60% majority is a perfect answer but it does actually address the flawed premise and allows for a 10% buffer to protect the fewer voters who are actually going to be imposed with the tax. I'd prefer that schools were paid for with some other means though I must confess I don't have any concrete ideas. Having read our state constitution one of its few enumerated responsibilities is to provide "ample funding" for schools. Maybe the need for local school levies was never intended by the people who founded our dumb state.

Maybe we'll eventually get away from the idea of taxing people simply because they own something...like a place to live. Looks like tonight I'm going to be voting NO on lots of stuff.

Remember to vote in your own upcoming elections.

Monday, October 22, 2007

You see...there's this tape.

I have two very close friends. One I've known since 1984 and the other since around 1989. The most important events of my life in the last 20 years have had these two nearby. We're close in that we have this loose brotherhood. Less like Stand By Me and far from Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants...but more like a sequel to Animal House that was never made...we know each other so well that we don't require catching up on each other's lives over a cup of some hot international coffees.

I introduced these two guys to each other which brings me to the topic. You see...there's this tape. To conceal their identities I'll give them Animal House nicknames. Otter and I worked together and were responsible for writing this column in the company newsletter that went out monthly. We worked for a very large family owned company. To get ideas for our column we decided to tape record ourselves talking while at his apartment. On this night I brought Bluto over and this is where they met.

The tape ended up having things on it that went far beyond just ideas for a column but Bluto and Otter got along great and exchanged rude barbs back and forth over the course of an evening that also involved completely finishing roughly a case and a half of the best beer that pre-21 year olds could afford. In other words the tape is a train wreck. Maybe more like a train hauling lots of beer going over a tall trestle that is booby trapped with dynamite. As the train comes off the track it lands on an elementary school killing everything in its wake and leaving the remains soaked with the smell of beer. It was that kind of evening...and much of the audio was captured.

At the end of the evening (that trailed into the morning) I popped the cassette into my pocket. Later when the question of the where the tape ended up they were both relatively relieved that I was in possession of it. I was voted the least likely to use it to exploit the others.

Preserving the audio has been important for me because it is the first moment where our lives collided. So for reasons of sentiment I wish to have this audio live on for a few more decades. This means of course performing an analog to digital conversion. As I mentioned that I'm going to do that my motivation has been called into question as Otter thinks I'll release it to the press when he runs for office. Bluto thinks the whole thing is funny and would also like to see it released to further embarass Otter.

Personally I think that most of it isn't that humorous and the humor doesn't translate too well to the mainstream. I'd compare it to watching David Hasselhoff eating a hamburger while hammered. Fascinating yes, but also pathetic at the same time.

So that said...who wants to hear a clip of it?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

When you run for president and no one cares.

Senator Sam Brownback ends his bid for the presidency tomorrow...and no one cares.

Well, I shouldn't say no one does because I do. In the GOP debates Brownback always took the full allotment of his time. He needed to take all of the time given to him because he never really said anything in his answers. This time could've been used by someone who would actually give an answer...namely Dr. Paul.

A perfect example of a Brownback answer comes from an early debate. The question was whether it was right for President Bush to open dialogue with Iran. Check this out:

"But I think we have to at times talk with them in different situations. Like, before we went into Afghanistan, we talked with Iran. It wasn't we were negotiating. We didn't open up formal diplomatic relations and we shouldn't. Iran is the lead sponsor of terrorism. On Iraq, I think we need to talk with them."

I didn't just pick a goofy quote here and exploit him as a goofball either. Many of his quotes from debates are far worse than this. During the debate hosted by Morgan State University (traditionally black as they describe themselves) he stated that he relates more to black people because he's actually spent a night in jail. In attempt to top all his other efforts to be crazier than an outhouse rat he said he secured Federal funds (read: your money) to build a black culture museum. The audience stared at the stage in disbelief...I was on the floor in front of my TV holding my gut from laughter.

I've supported Libertarian presidential candidates who have drawn bigger crowds than Brownback. I know how a perfectly competent person can look dumb while under the national microscope so I won't be too hard on him. I think the shameful part of his candidacy is he didn't bring anything to the table. He offered nothing that couldn't be found in at least three other candidates (except for being Roman Catholic which I believe only Rudy can also claim).

One area where Brownback should be applauded before he leaves the national stage: His campaign was not in debt. Donate the rest of it to that museum Sam...and thanks for the laughs.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Ad Council

When I'm at work I usually listen to about one hour of radio broadcasts streamed online during the day. If a commercial spot hasn't been sold on line it is usually replaced with a public service announcement (PSA) in place of a commercial. Just this morning I've heard PSA's that have promoted the following issues:

--The benefits of Fatherhood
--Being a friend to someone who has a mental disorder
--Reducing Gun Violence
--Americans need to save money from their paychecks

Obviously the founding fathers approved of the use of taking money from the productivity of every citizen of every state so that some positive, good message could be directed at a few citizens.

The earliest PSA was found in the Federalist Papers and was performed as a skit on the streets of all major cities. Below is an excerpt from those original transcripts:

Young lad - Hello, father!

Father - Good day to you son. Have you finished cleaning the rifles?

Young lad - Yes, father I have. I have a question though.

Father - What is your question my boy?

Young lad - Why must we kill the British Regulars to be free?

Father - It is because they are the force of arms by which King George wishes to take our property and the fruit of our labor without proper parliamentary representation.

Young lad - You're right father. I am ashamed for doubting you.

Father - Always remember the rhyme I've taught you son.

Young lad - Yes, father. If they march in red, by night they're dead!

Father - You're a fine boy!

Narrator - This message brought to you as a public service reminder from the Continental Congress who unlike King George, takes your money to protect you from yourself.

Ad Council parody ads are courtesy of Chickenhead.com. It's off-color humor so if you're offended easily don't go there please.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Weekend Summary

Went with family up to Victoria, British Columbia which is at the most southwestern point of Canada on Vancouver Island. Basically you can throw a rock to it from Seattle...if you can throw a rock about 70 miles.

If you ever get the chance to go to any museums in either Britain or Canada I can't recommend it enough. I've been to tons of museums here in the USA including many in Washington DC and in general our museums are ass.

We saw the traveling Titanic exhibit at the Royal British Columbia Museum and it was well done. Aside from the temporary attraction of Titanic there were the normal exhibits showcasing life in British Columbia from the first peoples to the eventual settlers...and finally to the handful of people that live there now and the culture they have created.

Victoria is a uniquely British city and has architecture and culture which you'd easily find in London. I browsed lots of shops though didn't purchase much. I did come away with a new hat which I like very much. I may post a photo of me in it if there is demand otherwise I'll just save it for me.

Perhaps the greatest surprise of the trip was walking several blocks to Christ Church Cathedral which presides over the diocese of Columbia within the Anglican Church of Canada.

I have great appreciation for the Anglican liturgy because of its poetic beauty and powerful hymns. The Anglicans had a head start on doing orthodox-ish rite in English so the liturgy they have created is far superior to the eventual Vatican II liturgy which seems to make no Roman Catholic happy. (I fully realize most of you have no idea what I'm talking about)

The service was wonderful and I stayed and met several who were in attendance who obviously knew I came all the way from the far off world of Seattle. I think they knew I was visiting because there were not many in attendance who were under the age of 55. That is a reality within the Anglican Church in Canada.

After church it was off to a shoe store, the mall, and a pretty cool candy store...then a nap on the boat ride home. On the way home I had the song "Let's go to Canada" in my mind from the Ska band Five Iron Frenzy. One verse goes:

They've got trees, and mooses, and sled dogs,
Lots of lumber, and lumberjacks, and logs!
We all think it's kind of a drag,
That you have to go there to get milk in a bag.
They say "eh?" instead of "what?" or "duh?"
That's the mighty power of Canada.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

How the Iraq War makes us less safe - Exhibit A

Iraq just announced it has negotiated a 100 million dollar military arms deal with China. The result is that China will quickly produce the arms and light military equipment and be paid in cash.

Also because we have no money to fight the war, we have financed it through treasury bonds which have been purchased by China as reserve currency. The result is that China will quickly receive a 'surge' in more cash.

Unlike the Soviets that had isolated themselves from the world while their economy crumbled, China actually profits from our very own military aggressiveness. We actually end up financing the major Chinese military build up that the Pentagon claims is such a threat to our security. For you Republicans out there I'll put it even more simply: In the end our own military adventurism is financing the very army that stands as the greatest threat against us.

With this in mind, I don't see how any credible politician or military leader can claim we are safer for our presence in the middle east.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

2006 Election Turning out better than anyone could imagine

I was on record that the best thing we could hope for in the 2006 election was that Democrats would be elected and the sweet taste of refreshing gridlock would follow.

Boy howdy, has that come true. Here has been the legacy of the new congress:

1. Legislation to make medals to honor Rosa Parks.

2. Resolution condemning Rush Limbaugh.

3. A brand new budget fight!

4. OMG! A Veto!

In other words nothing has been accomplished. No dumb ideas on public funded healthcare. No ridiculous plans to expand programs. Now if we can just get the troops home we can all stand as one united country in the wake of a do-nothing government.

That would be a dream come true. God Bless America.