Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The epidemic of DUMBASS spreads.....

Thanks to Digby for this one...I would have missed it otherwise...

Here's a blub, appearing in Digby from the original MSNBC Michael Vick/Al Sharpton story:

Most recently, the Rev. Al Sharpton, a two-time Democratic presidential
candidate, charged that a star white athlete never would have been prosecuted
for the same crime.


If the police caught Brett Favre (a white quarterback for the Green Bay
Packers) running a dolphin-fighting unit out of his pool, where dolphins with
spears attached to their foreheads fought each other, would they bust him? Of
course not," Sharpton wrote Tuesday on his personal blog.

They would get his autograph, commend him on his tightly spiraled
forward passes, then bet on one of his dolphins

Pretty inflamatory huh?

How could Sharpton defend Vick?

Well, actually, he didn't: read on:

Turns out that Sharpton quote, allegedly from his "personal blog",
actually came from the
site News/Groper
. Who would have ever guessed?

The editor of the site, terribly impressed with MSNBC's investigative
skills as you might imagine, wonders which one of these clues finally tipped
them off:

1. The words "fake parody blogs" in the titlebar of every page of our

2. Our logo

3. Al Sharpton blogging on the same site as Lindsay Lohan, George
Bushand Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

4. Our about page www.newsgroper.com/about/

5. Al Sharpton referring to himself in his bio as an
"EmancipationProclamation enthusiast"

And of course....we can't forget Miss South Carolina in the "Miss Teen USA Contest". Here's the Youtube of the event...

After you watch it, try to determine if you're torn between sympathy for the poor girl or disgust at her shallowness, or perhaps you're appalled at the ignorance. By the way, that's her, Caitlin Upton on the right in this picture....(note: she's only 17?!?!?!?!)
I posted some time ago that I thought the dumbing down of America was getting out of hand....I now think it's running rampant.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Local government....advanced degree?

I saw this quote over at firedoglake.com. It appears to be a quote from Christy Hardin Smith (aka The redhead). I've seen parts of it before but never put together in quite this way. Anyway, here's the quote we'll be riffing on.

Politics is the art of making the impossible possible, of bringing to life theories and finding a pragmatic way to implement them to sustain a particular view of the world. In short, it is about priorities
I think the business about priorities is important...especially in local government. In some local government settings, it's hard to tell what their priorities really are as they seem to pander to damned near every interest and they can't seem to say "no" to anybody or any interest.

Just recently, I was at a meeting where an alderman complained about having to mow ditches because the city had done an asphalt street with ditching as opposed to concrete curb and gutter. A staff memeber jumped to the opportunity to chastise the common council for not either borrowing enough money or raising taxes high enough to provide the more expensive curb and gutter. I couldn't contain myself.....

I jumped in and suggested that it wasn't a matter of borrowing more or taxing more but PRIORITIZING the funds that you do have.
There are choices to be made.

Do you want a "build-it-and-they-will-come (maybe) $2.5MM industrial park or more curb and gutter streets?

Do you want $500K worth of bike and walking trails or do you want more curb and gutter streets?

The choices go on and on but the "free ride" days for public officials are over. The days when you could say "yes" to everybody, raise taxes to cover it, and nobody would notice because everybody was rolling in money because of the great economic conditions, well...those days are over.

We have to decide what's important and what's not. We have to decide what the "absolute ability to pay" really is and deal with it honestly.

We need political leadership to establish priorities and stick with them.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Politics and dead squirrels....

I had the opportunity to visit the Madison again yesterday and visit with some old friends and some relatively new acquaintances. I guess it's because the friends I have chosen are mostly political junkies like myself that whenever we gather, we talk...politics....(who'da thunk, huh?)

So we talked "politics" for a while and the Governor's proposal to ban indoor smoking, statewide with no exceptions, came up in two separate conversations.

Now, understand, I am a cynic, but I'm also "no body's fool" when it comes to politics. I know there has been intensive lobbying....I know who is doing most of the lobbying...I've checked out the web sites and I know that a certain tobacco company is ranked 3rd among all lobbying groups(first is Wisconsin Hospital Association....Healthy Wisconsin?) in expenditures during the last quarter. I've also seen the Tavern League posters (I'm told that they have matching drink coasters for bars too....clever...great marketing actually) .

Yeah, I know all that. And I know it's "normal" or at least, "business as usual" but I was absolutely amused when I heard my friends toss around the phrase "local control" in regards to the smoking ban. Let's face it. With a few exceptions, hearing a denizen of the halls of the State Capitol embrace "local control" is about like learning that Colonel Sanders has given up chicken.

The only reason I think the term "local control" is being bandied about is because politicos (those who participate in and advise politicians) are caught in a tough position. They know that smoking and second-hand smoke is a health hazard and they really want to get rid of it, but the tobacco industry and the tavern league are very formidable opponents which no sane legislator, advisor to a legislator, or staffer looking for job security, looks forward to confronting. Let's face it, having an opponent in the next election with a virtual blank check from either of those organizations is not a healthy prospect.

Hence, the dead squirrel option starts to look pretty attractive.

The Dead Squirrel Option relates to an old Wisconsin axiom that revolves around the question, "What do you do if you find a dead squirrel in your yard?" Answer: "Heave it over the fence into your neighbor's yard...preferably when no one is looking."

That's right....all you local officials get ready....the Legislature would like to hurl this dead squirrel right back in your yard. But they can't do that with impunity.

So far the smoking ban proposal is stuck in committee and pretty much stalemated, but remember, there is a huge economic component to the smoking ban proposal. It's tied to a $1.25 per pack increase in the cigarette tax. If the legislature decides to defeat the proposal (under the guise of "local control") then there is a huge hole in the budget that will need to be filled with either additional revenues (coughtaxescough) or cuts in expenditures (coughsharedrevenuescough) in order to balance the budget. So as you see, there's a cost to heaving the squirrel over the fence and it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Local Politics 101

I just finished Mayor Al Arnold's book, Moving Mountains and Molehills, Local Politics 101 and I have to admit, that even for a dyed-in-the-wool old cynic like me, I actually learned something. I think I should explain that...

You see, I've always considered myself a "practitioner" of government...specifically LOCAL government. I'm a technician...a child of the 60's and 70's who believed in the technocracy of professional city management. So what did I learn from Al Arnold's little (no offense but it isn't the same length as War and Peace) book?

A shocking lesson.....

That shocking lesson was that those who wish to influence City Government aren't interested in the slightest with Gant Charts, Performance Reveiw Evaluation, Zero-based budgeting, Below-based budgeting, Line Item budgeting versus PPBS budgeting....

Nope...the citizens aren't interested in that at all.

Their interests are far more simple and as Al points out....pretty basic, from Cat Leash Laws to a "no-brainer" bandshell, citizens have very strong views and Al tells locals how to get those views across to city officials ....

Having spent most of my professional life with the gavel in my hand in one way or another, I can look at what Mayor Al wrote and see elements of it in many issues, great and small, that I've faced over the years and I recognize that there is a humble truth to his work.

A lot of my friends who read this blog consider themselves local activists and as such, I strongly encourage you to read Al's book...you can order it here. It will, I think, make you a better activist....just don't do it in any committee I happen to be chairing......roflmao.....

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Great Commentary!

Christopher comments on the post by The Existentialist Cowboy concerning the neocons...trying, like we all are, to make sense out of what has happened to us as a nation...

It's worth reprinting in its entirety

Referring to your phrase: “……..In American movies the villain is most often well-educated, suave, and well-spoken. The hero, by contrast, is simple, a hulk, if not a hunk. His many sentences of only two words are evidence of simplicity if not purity of spirit. American heroes are innocents abroad --and at home. If they should win over villains it's because of their noble hearts and motives --not because they are ever outsmarted anyone……….”. This paragraph touches on the question which puzzles most people outside the shores of America: Why did George Bush have such an extraordinary hold on the American people for so long, at least until relatively recently?

If I might take the liberty of quoting from a piece I wrote on my own site a year or so ago “………If you don’t know, and you’re a red-blooded, two-fisted, regular guy, think when you last saw Clint Eastwood in a Dirty Harry movie, or saw a James Bond movie. Didn’t you emerge from the theatre feeling omnipotent, invulnerable, that you could beat anyone up, that there wasn’t a crisis you couldn’t handle? Didn’t you feel wonderfully divorced from the milquetoast henpecked nonentity you ordinarily are, living in daily terror of your boss, crushed by the weight of your domestic responsibilities and enervated by mind-numbing boredom? How exciting, then, to be Dirty Harry or James Bond, if only for the short while it took you to drive home.

And when, on your TVs, you saw George Bush saying he wanted Bin Laden or Saddam dead or alive, and saying you are either for us or against us, and you saw George W landing, fighter-pilot-suited, on that aircraft carrier with the banner “Mission Accomplished”, did you not feel, in your identification with heroic George W, the same invulnerability and omnipotence as when you saw Dirty Harry or James Bond at the movies?

The lone cowboy riding into town to single-handedly rid it of the desperadoes terrorising its decent law-abiding citizens, is a powerful archetype that George Bush - strutting about in his jeans and cowboy hat, and uttering the terse tough simple words that he'll smoke Bin Laden out of his cave and that America will strike at evil-doers everywhere, words that cause a frisson in the gutty-wutzes of all the plain ordinary folks out there in the Great American Heartland - tapped into, and it paid off for him handsomely……….”The self-educated longshoreman, Eric Hoffer, remarked many times on the pervasive anti-intellectualism in American life, and this was long before the advent of George Bush, the quintessential anti-intellectual. Why this fear of intellectuals? A continuing visceral reaction to the intellectual-dominated Europe, from which the many millions fled to America’s shores, vowing to rid themselves of the presence of intellectuals for ever?

My wife and I took note of the anti-intellectualism of the Bush campaign early in in candidacy....and we feared for what would happen if he ever became president.....it all came to pass...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Well, DUH!

I was talking to a good friend last night who just happens to be about as “far right wing” as they come. She was trying to be polite to me and mentioned something complimentary about Alan Colmes to which I responded quite badly….as do most liberals. This shocked her and she asked why I didn’t like Alan Colmes and I related the story that was passed around the blogosphere not long ago in which Colmes responded to criticism by (allegedly) fellow liberals of his passive and non-combative responses to steamroller Sean Hannity, saying, “You don’t understand. That’s not our format.”

My right wing friend was shocked (not as in Gambling going on here? I’m shocked, shocked I say.) but genuinely surprised that maybe Fox News wasn’t playing it straight with her or any other conservative for that matter.

It wasn’t until an hour or so after that conversation that it hit me right between the eyes. Fox and all the other news stations have adopted the same marketing formula as Professional Wrestling….and even NASCAR seems to have adopted it.

Here’s how it works:

They give us good guys. And then they give us bad guys….and sometimes they make it interesting by giving us a good guy who turns into a bad guy. But it’s really the same old Morality play. The good guy always triumphs but only in the third act. The first act is the glorification of the good guy but at the end there is a dramatic foreshadowing of evil to come. In the second act the evil reveals itself and raises havoc for the hero and it ends with the implied triumph of evil, but the third act…..ah…that’s where morality and good prevail over all evil…

ProWrestling follows that format precisely and Rupert Murdoch knows a good thing when he sees it…so that becomes Fox News…..

The Conservatives are all good, all the time (except when it makes a good story line for a conservative to go bad by endorsing or adopting a liberal view). Liberals are always bad, evil, weak, indecisive and will ALWAYS lose in the end. Colmes was chosen for the role of Hannity’s foil because he is EXACTLY the image that Fox and the media want to create of a Liberal….weak, effete, and easily vanquished. Colmes is never allowed to beat Hannity in a debate, only conservative surrogates…Hannity always comes charging in on his white horse to save the day. He is the manliest of men and Colmes is disgusting weakling.

Here’s the scary part.

It isn’t just Fox….

The play is run out time and again with more subtly on CNN, (Glenn Beck anyone?) and MSNBC (note Chris Mathews fascination with George Bush’s “parachute harness, Fred Thompson’s “musky smell”, and Mitt Romney’s broad shoulders) Again, they are making demigods of Conservatives and playing up Hillary Clinton as the icon of the Liberals….Strong man versus Effete man.(or manly woman in this case?)

That’s what it will eventually come down to.

Good versus Evil in a no-holds-barred-steel-caged-death-match in the (political)Octogon.

I can't believe that we as a nation have become that dumb....that we fall for this ploy over and over again. I also find it hard to believe that I'm among the few who have discovered this stupid ploy...I'm (at best ) only of average intelligence...I'm no genius... and yet I see it plainly. Where are the men and women of great intellectual stature? Why aren't they sounding the battle-cry?

I think my wife is right....maybe it's time to move to Lichtenstein....

Sunday, August 12, 2007


In my early flirtations with religions of the world I was quite taken by the Buddhists and the concept that life, as we practice it everyday, is really the dream and we need to be awakened (enlightened) from that dream. And ... I was equally impressed with the idea that the gong was a device to remind you that you had to be awakened from that dream......

I know how simplistic and perhaps naive this sounds, and it probably is but the concept struck me hard as I read another post from The Existentialist Cowboy earlier today concerning the number of right wing nut jobs who are openly saying that we (as a country) need "another 9/11".


Because that will bring the country together again...unite us...presumably under the brilliant and visionary leadership of George W. Bush. (on edit: gagging optional)

I responded to "The Cowboy's" post and his response led me to the thought about "the gong"....here's what he said:

These people are what Carl Jung feared, that is, they are but instances of mass psychosis.


I have often written and defended my position: the GOP is not a political party, it is a crime syndicate, a criminal conspiracy. Lately, it's become even worse. The GOP IS the evil empire and they have made same of the US.

It is the first sentence that struck me the hardest. I wrote a few weeks back that some other associates of mine, quite independently of one another, had asked if someone had set off a "stupid bomb"....one reference was to our local community and the other was to the nation as a whole....

Well, maybe The Cowboy stumbled (or maybe brilliantly identified?) onto the real truth. Perhaps we as a nation are suffering under some form of mass hypnosis. Perhaps we have all fallen under the spell of uber-patriotism. Perhaps we've all bought into the great American Delusion that it doesn't make any difference who we elect because as Nader told us so clearly in the 2000 election campaign "there isn't a dime's worth of difference between (republicans and democrats)..them"

Maybe we bought into the delusion that "the grownups are in charge" and all we have to do is keep shopping, buy tons of useless stuff on our credit cards, buy houses and cars we can't afford and remember that Al Gore is just an overweight (fat) alarmist, know-it-all, so don't worry about Global climate change, and everything will be okay....life will never change.....


Wake up!

While we're dreaming about that next new McMansion or GarageMahal or the newer, bigger shinier SUV, our country and maybe even our planet is circling the bowl....

I don't know how to sound the alarm any louder....I don't know how many of us "banging the gong" it will take to reach critical mass to make things change....

but I'll keep banging on the gong.......

Saturday, August 11, 2007

shuddup! You heard the man!

I've always wanted to say that......

The cross post is here....click to see....

When you get over there be sure to follow the link to The Existentialist Cowboy....he's always worth the read!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Touching the Hearthstone...

I was told once by a very, very Irish friend of mine that every person of Irish decent in America absolutely HAD TO make a pilgrimage to "the old sod" ...Ireland...to visit their roots and to (literally) "touch the hearthstone"...that stone on top of the fireplace of the family homestead...that very real, very tactile touch with the roots that reminds us of who we really are and where we came from.

I did that last week.

And it was moving and rewarding at the same time....What was rewarding about it was that the University, where I spent some of my favorite moments of my misspent youth, seemed to understand that while they must, as an institution, grow and expand, they must also give the alumini something to hold onto...there must be a "hearthstone". Indeed they did just that.

Yes, it is equally true that some things changed drastically from the time that the "food Nazi" and I were on the campus...neither her old Graduate Student Housing (cough..hovel...cough) site nor my old Scholarship House were still standing...in my case it was turned into a parking lot and in hers, there's a new classroom building where the (hovel) House used to sit. Our favorite restaurant where we had our first date, is now a Chinese buffet. The famous Silver Slipper Restaurant actually burned down a year or so after we left and is replaced by a new facility which lacks the charm of the old place. But the truly important places that make the University distinct are still there and the administration has gone out of its way to make them prominent...

Let's face it....Tallahassee, Florida is not...definitely not...the first place I would pick for a vacation. The only thing which brought us back there was the family affiliation with the University which was rekindled after 27 years, persisted for 6 more and is now extinguished once again. At our age I don't know if we'll ever go back there, so there was a certain emotional reaction to our departure.

But I feel better anyway.

Because we "touched the hearthstone".

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Sentimental Journey

I've been away on a "mission" that I'll talk more about later and also post some pictures....

In the meantime..


they let that Horses### piece of surveilance legislation pass? I was traveling and just picked up bits and pieces of it.......

At this hour....I'm waiting for Jane Hamser to show up on CNN...per her post here....I always enjoy watching her rip a repub to shreds on the air....

In the meantime....I HATE watching the newscasters/newsmodels on TV...they are completely inane.....Is this what the American public has come to?

Rick Sanchez completely sucks....

and after his show?

Soledad O'Brien does a bit on America's bridges entitled "Road to Ruin, Are we Safe?" In other words another riff on the




Jane's off the air...Sanchez couldn't interview his way out of a wet paper bag.....The subject was Romney and Jane nailed it...Romney's a pandering, two-faced, political whore....Sanchez missed the whole point.

Later....when I get back into cooler air (Heat index is 104 where I'm at right now...air conditioner is struggling to keep up....) Sweated off fiive pounds walking to some sentimenal old sites this afternoon.....It was worth it though....