Tuesday, May 29, 2007

break time is over....

I've been on something of a sabatical for a week or so but now it's time to get back down to business....

There is a story starting to turn into a rage statewide concerning the Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin signing on as a paid lobbyist f0r AT &T.

A lot of us in the party are pissed and have expressed our displeasure in one way or another ...

the bad part is that the Chair hasn't listed and worse yet has reacted with a mixture of elitism and bullshit like nothing I've ever seen before. In some regards the soul of the State's Democratic party is at stake....I've been absorbed in this for the past week and
I think it will come to a head tomorrow....

I'll need some luck..I think...

Sunday, May 20, 2007

All the (bad) cliches

I suppose cliches come about for a reason....I suppose it's because they say so much about human nature and that in a given set of circumstances that people will behave the same way and that predicatable behavior becomes the cliche that we hear about again and again.

I recently had occassion to witness one of these (bad) cliches about government first hand. For the life of me I can't understand how people can be so lacking in.....in ....in what?

Self-awareness ?

Yeah...maybe that's it. Self-awareness that would tell them that they are behaving like egotistical buttheads and that the ultimate consequence of their arrogant behavior is personal disaster....for them and probably a couple dozen other people who will drive over the cliff with them for an egotistical thrill ride.

I won't go into details but I will say that it's bizarre to watch an public official to fall in love with an idea and when it's challenged they dig in their heals and refuse to budge one inch...drag it out publicly and go professionally "all-in" for it.....

I'd like to take the official aside and explain that I've seen this drama before...actually too many times before...and let me give you a hint....it doesn't end well...for anybody....

but no....they've got to live the cliche....

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Townhall Meeting

I'm a big fan of Townhall format meetings.....if you're an elected official there's nothing better for getting the pulse of the people you represent than a face-to-face no holds barred meeting with your constituents....

I hadn't done one for years....to be fair I haven't been an elected official for years either....so last night was really wonderful for me...I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think every elected official should try it.

I hear excuses from some of my elected "bretheren" that if people want to say something they can "damned well come to the Council Meeting"..


Those meetings are all but scripted...the agenda is set and time is in short supply....

Go free form....let the people tell you what they think..you might be surprised.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Retail versus Wholesale....politics...that is

One of the strange characteristics of being involved in local politics is that you're involved in retail rather than wholesale politics.

That is, you get your votes one-at-a-time as opposed to bunches. You do it the old-fashioned way, door-to-door.

You deal with individual and their particular issues one-on-one and their vote is decided by how you stand on their issue and their issue alone. (If you're lucky, if they don't like your stand on the issue, they may find your opponent to be just slightly more obnoxious to them and vote for you anyway.)

Sometimes you can be lucky enough to have a single issue of community-wide concern and you can align yourself with one side or the other depending on what you think is the right thing to do. Or, you can align yourself with one side or another depending on which side is most likely to net you the most votes. (note: in that case you're nothing but a self-serving hack)

Other than that, there are no unions or business cliques that will automatically line up behind you where you can count on a block of votes depending upon your stand.

After that, it's all shoe-leather and door bells...barking, biting dogs and children who wipe their noses with their hand and then dutifully follow their parents admonition to shake YOUR hand.

Just did some for the past two days.....I'm sore from walking and climbing steps to porches but I learned a lot from the people I met. I always do.

God I love it so.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Research, research, research.....

It seems I spend half my time these days doing research in preparation for my meetings. A
"citizen policitian" shouldn't have to take this much time....I suspect that's why a lot of seats go un-challenged each election cycle...."normal" people just don't have the time to devote to these endeavors.

Why all the research?

Don't we have paid staff to do that for you?

Yes. Yes we do. But it really boils down to a matter of trust.....and I lack a certain amount of that...okay...I lack A LOT of that commodity.

I think it pays for any local elected official to adopt some basic beliefs:

1. Don't trust staff. Especially don't trust those who try quickly and earnestly to become your "friend" as soon as you' re elected. I have been betrayed by these "friends" more times than I care to count and it's hard to live through each and every time.
2. Always remember that a bureaucracy is like Dawkins famous Selfish Gene; it's first mission is to SURVIVE. And survive it will. Long after the Mayor gives you a plaque for your service, a handshake and words that will bring tears to your eyes, the bureaucracy will survive and pursue their own agenda.
3. The King is Dead! Long Live the King! The bureaucracy that is so loyal to the present leader and the present majority will "flip" loyalties so fast it will make your head swim as soon as a new regime takes over.
4. Beware of the "dead rat" syndrome. It's identical of the behavior a stray cat uses when it wants to endear itself to a new owner (okay, dogs have owners, cats have STAFF, I know). It comes and drops a dead rat at your feet to show you how loyal it is. So, naturally, you adopt it. Staff will come to you and tell you how happy they are to have you in office and how bad the old regime was and drop a "dead rat" on your doorstep: some offense that the previous regime committed that you will find deplorable. You will be expected to reward this behavior with a nice, warm bowl of milk (or a "reclassification of the staff member's job to a higher pay grade, or more projects, and staff in the annual budget which will eventually through "classification" lead to a higher salary and benefits)

5. A former Undersecretary for Agriculture in Washington D. C., once told me, "Son, there is no system yet devised by man that can reduce the number of snouts feeding from the public trough." He was right. Try. Just try cutting personnel positions from the budget.

And finally at the picture of the penguin at the top of the post reminds you, DO SOMETHING BRAVE.

So back to the research.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Quiet weekend..

but I think it's actually the calm before the storm.

First two days of the weeks are packed with meetings and...there's a sh*tstorm brewing on the horizon.....

could be interesting.

Friday, May 04, 2007

String theory, quantum physics, evolution...and ..oh yeah, politics


I'm in that kind of mood.

I finally got to finish Richard Dawkins The God Delusion and I'm about to start on The Blind Watchmaker. As I mentioned in another post I was actually disappointed in one of Dawkins' arguments because I saw the religionist's "bailout position" all too clearly and that left us right back where we started. Some explanation is in order.

About 6 years ago I was observing a rather primitive drop forge operation at the company I sold for. There was a patented (yeah, right) process that the product went through to produce some desirable results in the market...hardness and strength of steel especially...and it hit me.

The company didn't "invent" the process, they "discovered" the process. The process and the end results were always there..at least the metallurgy, physics and chemistry of it was, and the company just "discovered it". They didn't invent the scientific laws that they applied. Those laws have ALWAYS been there.

So I started to think it over a bit more and came to the conclusion that at the beginning of science there was "design".....no....not the "old man in the sky" but "design"...something...something undefinable.

And that's where Dawkins and I break down. He cites another work which posits that the whole of the universe is dependent on only six numbers and makes a pretty good case for it. He says that in order for all life to exist all God had to do was "tweak" those six knobs until he hit just the right combination...another version of the "Goldilocks Zone" as he described it elsewhere.

What I'm confused about is WHERE DID THE SIX KNOBS COME FROM? He argues quite effectively that if you take the position that "God created everything", then you must also ask, "Who created God?"

cue the "bailout position":

God always was and God always is.

There. End of the question....or maybe not.

I did a lot of reading on String Theory when it was a hot topic in the scientific community and have since read several more books on quantum theory. I suspect that I am one of those poor, deluded souls who believes that if I take something apart, disassemble it, enough and look at the individual pieces, then it will all make sense to me and I will, when I can't dissemble it any more, know the truth. What modern quantum physics is telling us is that we won't EVER know the truth because of the nature of subatomic particles and the famous Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. (You can determine mass or speed but not both) Even stranger is that the very act of observing certain particles alters their behavior and, in keeping with what Einstein called "weirdness at a distance", the alteration takes place whether the observation takes place in the same room or across the galaxy.

If all that wasn't strange enough, then there is the "extra dimensions" aspect of String theory to consider. The calculations for string theory work best with eleven (?) different dimensions.

Dimensions....you know like x-axis, y-axis, time, z-axis....and beyond that?

Therein lies my own personal cop-out on this subject. We can't think in anything beyond four dimensions. We can locate our place in time but nothing farther than that. Not only can we not see the other dimensions, we can't even IMAGINE what those other dimensions are because it isn't wired into our delicate human nervous system'. Dawkins sites another physicist who stated that the universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than WE CAN IMAGINE.

That's where the answer to the God or No God question must lie.

Beyond what we can imagine is either a "god" or a "science" of incredible beauty and symmetry

Religion...or perhaps more appropriately, RELIGIOUSITY is beyond this question. It is the stuff that has the potention of taking us back, as Len, The Existentialist Cowboy, once said, to the dark ages. Until either of the two major political parties quits pandering to religious bigots who control their respective flocks with fear and shame, we won't escape the danger of another dark age.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Wow..another great (new)blog

You've gotta check this out...It's called Democrats Now by Andrew Levin...


Here's a sample of the great writing:

Perhaps it comes down to nothing more than the fact that in our world, as in the world Yeats long ago described, the best lack conviction, while the worst are full of “passionate intensity.” That would explain why the Reds supported impeachment for a little white lie about a couple of trysts, while the Blues won’t budge for the highest of high crimes and misdemeanors. [Note: I’ve long maintained that but for the lovely and zaftig Monica, Clinton would have tried, as Bush later did, to privatize social security. As a Democrat, he might even have been able to pull it off. Thus, unwittingly, she did more good for the country than a thousand Hillarys. Genuinely progressive Democrats should establish Monica Lewinsky Clubs all over the United States!]

Pretty good, huh?

I'm adding him to my favorites

Did you notice?

There was an interesting bit of news on the blogs today...and it's been picked up by the infamous EmmEssEmm (MSM = Main Stream Media) but they seem to have overlooked an important detail. Here's the baseline story from Kos:

Iraq (CNN) -- Unconfirmed reports that al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri has been killed come from local tribes and not Iraq's intelligence services or military, an Iraqi government spokesman said Tuesday. [...]
"Iraqi security forces do not have the body," al-Dabbagh said on Iraqi state TV. "Iraqi security forces and Multi-National Forces are trying to retrieve the body for visual identification and DNA tests."

The reports of al-Masri's death emerged after a confrontation Tuesday between Sunni tribes and al Qaeda in Iraq at a bridge in an area under Sunni tribal control, Dabbagh said.
Earlier Tuesday, an Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman said "very strong intelligence" indicated al-Masri was killed in fighting between rival militant groups north of Baghdad. [...]
The U.S. military and U.S. Embassy in Baghdad had no information on the reports.

The media seems to be taking off on the "unconfirmed" nature of the reports but the text I highlighted in red above are incredibly significant.....and incredibly damaging to Bush and Company.

And just why would that be?

Glad you asked.

There are two aspect to this that make the tiny snippet of information important. The first is that even though the Sunni tribes and Al Qaeda share the same Wahhabi roots, there is no way on earth the Sunni will subjugate themselves and their religion to Al Qaeda. In short, they dislike AQ as much as we do.

Oh yeah, did I mention that Saddam Hussein was Sunni?

So this business about Saddam being in league with Al Qaeda that was supposed to be such an "imminent threat" to America was just pure fiction. It was deliberately distorted to drum up a case for a war they wanted to get into anyway. If Americans were paying ANY kind of attention at all to these stories they would immediately see the lie exposed in Cecil B De mil, wide-screen, living, techni-color.

The other aspect, and perhaps equally troubling is this snippet from yesterday's news. This from the Washington Post:

BAGHDAD, April 29 -- A department of the Iraqi prime minister's office is playing a leading role in the arrest and removal of senior Iraqi army and national police officers, some of whom had apparently worked too aggressively to combat violent Shiite militias, according to U.S. military officials in Baghdad.
Since March 1, at least 16 army and national police commanders have been fired, detained or pressured to resign; at least nine of them are Sunnis, according to U.S. military documents shown to The Washington Post.

Okay. Let's break that down a little. Our "boy" Maliki, the Prime Minister upon whom we are relying to bring peace and stability to Iraq (at least enough where we can leave "with honor"....deja vu anybody...) is firing Sunni's who are cracking down on the Shiite militias who have been waging war and reprisals against Sunni's...the same Sunnis who are fighting Al Qaeda...

So, in case you're keeping score or at least trying to, in general, Iran supports the Shiia and Saudi Arabia supports the Sunni. So we're supporting the Milaki government who supports the Shiia and we're against Iran but we're friends with the Saudi who are supporting the Sunni who are fighting Al Qaeda who are fighting the Shiia who we're supporting.

blblblblblblblblblblblblblblblblblb Benny Hill would have been proud......

This war was ill-conceived from the beginning and the total incompetence of the Bush Administration just keeps making it worse.