17 December, 2008

The Price of Government for the People.

It is time to pay.  Pay your fair share.  Would I like low taxes?  Yes.  Would I like low taxes at the expense of our government not being able to function?  No.  I'm willing to pay for competent government.  

You, dear American reader, and I have made a deal to live together in relative harmony for the better.  It is up to us to create the peace to enable us to survive together.  That is the point of us creating this nation.  To enhance our ability to survive by banding together to form a more perfect union, in order to suffer less, and live more.  Sometimes, this takes money.

I want the same government that administers Medicare to be in charge of a national healthcare program.  I want the same government that allowed the banks to gamble away obscene amounts of money, to administer the national stimulus package.  I want the same government that tortures people to oversee the proceedings that bring torture to an end.  I want those who bombed and killed and broke the dignity and hope of millions of people, to lead the way in restoring the health and well being of those people and the families of those people.  Why?  I am that government.  You are that government.  Together, we can make positive changes in OUR government.

At the very least, be prepared to get out your checkbook.  Better yet, get out there and create the changes you want to see in your community.  There is a lot of work to be done.  We have left too much to the charlatans.  It's time to get to work and lift ourselves, and the world, up.

See you on the front lines.

08 July, 2008

Leaders in a Free World

Obama doesn't have the leadership experience.  McCain has leadership experience from being in the Navy.  McCain has Navy experience, but it doesn't matter.  Obama has experience in...AW!  Who the hell cares!

This is the United States of America!  We do not have "leaders".  We have individuals that represent the will of their constituents.  Politicians do not tell us what to do, we tell them.  I cannot believe the constant "Leadership" rhetoric.  

If the President of the United States told me to move out of the way, I wouldn't.  Why?  Because he does not have the right to make such a request, unless I was breaking the law.  The President is the chief law enforcement officer in our country, not the king.

What does that mean?  It means he is there to enforce the law.  He cannot create laws (unless it's a real good signing statement).  The President cannot operate outside of the law.  Which has me very disturbed.  How can Barak Obama say the the FISA compromise puts the issue to bed.  That, with this compromise, it will be clear that the President cannot operate a wire-tapping operation without the FISA courts being involved?  WTF?

Wire-tapping is illegal.  No compromise needed.  The President has been quoted saying a court order is required for domestic spying.  So why the big fuss?  Just bring his ass up on charges for breaking the law and move on!  Oh Yeah!  It's an election year and we must get as many Democrats in office as possible.  So they cannot look weak on defense.

Since when is defending our Constitutional rights weak?  

20 June, 2008

Vive la RĂ©sistance!

Here we go again! The House leadership has revived the dead corpse of immunity for the telecom companies. I’m going on a trip with this one.

Imagine zombies are trying to take over your house. You’re surrounded and have managed to secure all the windows and doors. You and your compatriots are feeling pretty safe. Then, tragedy strikes. A zombie slouches his way into the room and takes your friends arm for a snack on the run. Everyone pitches in and dispatches the zombie, then the poor armless one for the greater good.

Safe again. But wait! Another zombie picks off another loved one. What the hell is happening here? After the battle and the tears, you realize Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are among the survivors in your “secure” home. They keep letting the damn zombies in to try and negotiate with them. Why? No one really knows except Nancy, Harry, and maybe the zombies.

Really! Is anyone else getting tired of this? Nancy will not impeach on overwhelming evidence that W shit on the Constitution. Harry Reid needs a backbone implant. Would someone please tell them they control the agenda? These Constitution shredding bills do not have to come up for a vote! If W and Dearth Cheney can run out the clock, so can the Democrats.

Call your congressperson. Now. Tell them to vote “NO!” on the bipartisan FISA “compromise”. It’s funny. They take away our constitutional rights and call it bipartisanship. It’s nice to know there are traitors on both sides.

19 June, 2008

Fossilized Remains

1) The Easter bunny leaves everyone Easter eggs.  2) Climate Change is a fallacy perpetuated by scientists that have a natural aversion to the economy.  3) Santa Claus slides down the chimneys of good boys and girls.  4) Storks bring newborn babes to waiting parents.  5) Hydrogen fuel cells will allow us to be as lazy and ignorant as we are now.  6) The tooth fairy will leave you money for your tooth, if you put it under a pillow.  7) The oil will eventually run out, so plan now.

I know it's hard to believe, but only two of the above statements are true.  Can you guess which ones?  Maybe after reading the following blog, you will guess correctly.

Fossil fuels suck.  It has been the equivalent of feeding cocaine to the masses.  I used to love fossil fuels.  Back in my happy ignorance, driving around in my gas-guzzling hot rod, burning up sets of tires was a favorite pastime.  Ah!  The halcyon days of the early nineties.  Of course, that was before I cared about melting ice caps, massive droughts, and an unimaginable extinction of various life forms not seen since Homo-sapiens began using tupperware.

Back in the day, I was happily blind to the seriousness of the problem.  I even believed that we, as  a united people, would find a way to come together and change our reliance on fossil fuels to power the salt-water taffy machine.  Being an ignoramus really is bliss.  Hell, I even believed Israel and Palestine were going to play nice in the nineties.  Silly me.

So.  "Global Warming" is still under debate.  Whatever.  Even if the issue cannot be settled by the great brain-stems of our time, does it matter?  I mean, look at the price for this shit.  $4.59 a gallon down the street at the friendly cocaine-for-the-masses station.  I'm not independently wealthy like the rest of the world, so this is starting to hurt...a lot.

I learned in the education system/baby-sitter that there was a leader named Geeem-E Car-tr.  At least that's what I remember.  I think his brother brewed beer in the bed of a pickup truck.  Anyway, he had all these crazy ideas about energy that lead him to climb up on the roof of the White House and install solar panels!  What a kook.  I mean, using all that free energy falling from the sky.  Why the hell would anyone want to do that when we could pump liquid gold right from under the Middle East, ship it around the world, then burn it for kicks.  That guy should have been committed.  Instead they gave him a Nobel Peace Prize.  Sometimes there is no justice.  

That god the Great Discombobulator had enough sense to take those panels off the White House before the citizens got any funny ideas of "Energy Independence".  We really dodged a bullet on that one.

Ok.  I'm going to get serious for a minute.  Why aren't there solar panels on every house, building, and parking lot.  I mean, I love parking in the shade on a hot summer day.  Why not catch some of that free energy and keep my car cool at the same time.  I wouldn't doubt if more energy falls on my poor car every year than I use driving my fat ass around in it...with the air-conditioning working at capacity (Is it getting warmer?).

Honestly, just think if we would have taken energy independence seriously.  The world would have been a better place today if our ancestors had looked to the future, instead of selling out, and filling the place with shit.

That brings us to this point in history.  It's kinda easy to place the blame on the past, but I don't want to be that asshole that refused to make changes in the face of serious trouble looming on the horizon (long sentence, sorry!).  Every day is a chance to make positive changes.  Let's act and start putting those solar panels up wherever we can.  I'll start by putting the nice shady one over my car.  I'll even share the energy with you.  We can build a real future based on "renewable" sources of energy.  

Cut the oil and gas subsidies.  Would you subsidize a deck-chair manufacturer on the Titanic?  No.  Stop being lazy and make the change.  If we all come together and do this, then I can prove to myself that I wasn't being naive.  Isn't that worth it?

By the way, here is the answer to the first question I posed:

1) The Easter Bunny is a myth the Easter Eggs you find every year are left by relatives with nothing better to do but mess with your head.

2) Climate Change is real.  Stop listening to Sean Hannity.

3) Santa is also a myth.  If you hear someone sliding down your chinmey, call the cops.  It may be a Chupacabra.

4) Storks have enough to worry about with Climate Change, much less delivering newborns.  Take a high school sex-education course.  You may learn something.

5) Hydrogen fuel cells can allow us to be as lazy and ignorant as we are now,  Only if we use them as an energy storage/conversion device powered by solar/wind energy.  Otherwise, were burning fossil fuels to make hydrogen.  Not smart.

6) The Tooth Fairy.  If you put your tooth under the pillow, get your head checked.  If you find money under there, invest in security upgrades for your room.

7)  Ok.  So there was only one really true answer, but number five was kinda true...with conditions.  Hey!  I don't make this stuff up.  Oh, Wait.  I do.  Carry on, nothing to see here.

08 May, 2008

Species Identification: The Circovicwestian

This creature sports a seemingly non-conformist chic that is -
seemingly, upon further inspection - a conformist combo of punk, wild
west, and victorian posh. Think ripped fishnets, velvet jackets,
cleavage, and cobalt blue hair. There also seems to be an endless
supply of striped socks involved. They move about the various bay
area events where fire art and circus athletics mix to showcase their
non-traditional fine and physical arts. I find them fascinating and
at the same time cliquish and elitist. The appear to be highly tribal
and are almost never seen outside of their familial groupings.

Scientists believe this is an evolved species, having started off many
years ago more Mad Max than Deadwood. They wander around the
Crucible, Maker Faire and Burning Man, and haunt various Oakland and
San Francisco warehouses with their endless supply of lace, black
leather boots, and dreads - listening to music that few homo sapiens
have heard. It is believed that they have a minimal need for food
and sleep as a result of the regular ingestion of chemicals that
provide non-food based stimulation.

The result is that very few of them can be classified as portly or
larger. Quite often the CVW conform to the subjective standards of
homo sapien attractiveness. They have, by no means, evolved from the
underdog, loser, nerd, or dorky classes. They are perhaps the result
of past, unacknowledged, secret, and furtive mating rituals of
inquisitive cheerleaders, with the burn-outs that had the great
hair. Or perhaps a blend of the beauty queen and the tragic, yet
beautiful rock star.

16 April, 2008


September 11th changed everything.  It ushered in a new era of useless security protocol.  I'm in the airport today.  Standing next to the large trash container full of "hazardous" liquids that must be discarded before people can make it through the security line.  That makes me feel safe.

If we are worried about liquids being smuggled onto a plane to create an explosive, why would they allow these potentially lethal items to remain next to the security area?  Most of the time they are piled high in small trash cans, mere inches away from hundreds of passengers.  I think if this was a real threat, a Hazmat team should be carting away each bottle.

That brings up another question.  Are people that uninformed that they do not know the requirements for running the security gauntlet?  Come on!  You know there are no liquids allowed.  Yes, it applies to the 64oz. drink you must finish before the next overflowing trash can full of death.

Speaking of death, if my plane comes down because of the trusting TSA agent that allowed a passenger a bottle of cologne, I'll refuse to post any more blogs!  Unless I survive.  What good is a policy if you can talk your way out of relinquishing your liquids.  Yes, it is a bottle of expensive cologne.  Yes, there is only a quarter of it left.  I understand it's not in a plastic bag as required, but you look like an agent with strong character and good moral judgement.  (Implied) I'm a middle-aged white guy with my wife.  Really, do I really look like a terrorist?

It's all show and bullshit.  We have to practically strip to get on a sardine can with crappy food you have the privilege to buy during the trip.  It's coercion.  The security apparatus has got us all trained, so it will be that much easier to corral everyone when state of emergency is declared and the fascists finally ship democracy off to Guantanamo.

Whoa!  I think my tin-foil hat just exploded.  Well, I'll add that to the list of prohibited items while traveling.

03 April, 2008

Shut 'er Down

Independent truck drivers went "on strike" the other day. Did you notice? They can no longer afford to haul freight. Yet another example of Capitalism at its finest.

The independent truck drivers should not be striking against high fuel prices. They should be striking for fair compensation for the services they provide.

Way back in my trucking days, it took months for a fuel surcharge to make it through the freight companies to the independents. The company would let you bleed a little before they adjusted the compensation for the increase in fuel cost. It's good business.

Here are my recommendations for the independent truck drivers of America:

1. Park your trucks until the surcharges are guaranteed. I think America would come to a grinding halt within the week.
2. Demand fuel-efficient, hybrid trucks. The technology is already here. Instead of having Congress cut the fuel tax, have them fund a clean truck exchange. We'll all be better for it.
3. Band together and form some kind of organization ... What did they call those things ... Union! That was it! A Union! If only there was one of those still around ... dedicated to people in transportation. Yeah, I know the Teamsters are there. You should join. And if you don't like the way it's run, change it. When your a member, you can do stuff like that.
4. Lobby to get rid of NAFTA. Foreign trucks only dilute the potential power of the truck drivers. It has nothing to do with immigration, or hating on Mexico or Canada. It has everything to do with corporations exploiting and devaluing labor.

Well that was short and sweet. Now that my advice is out there, I can sit back and watch the world become a better place.

19 March, 2008

Welcome to the Invasion Party.

Happy Birthday Invasion!!! I know we have been at odds lately. Ok. Ok. You're right. We've been at odds from the start. Buy can't we get along? ...No. It was a stupid idea. Actually, a stupid deception. On this anniversary, I'm reminded of how many of my fellow citizens were cowed and cajoled into supporting this damn war effort.

I don't think many people actually believed Saddam had WMDs. Maybe people were still smarting from the September 11, 2001 attacks and Afghanistan didn't provide enough raw meat for the dogs of vengeance. We lost the person "responsible" for 9/11 somewhere in the hills! There was no resolution!

This is where the real evil seeps up from the sewer. What better way do distract from this huge failure than to get even with the perennial favorite evildoer, Saddam Hussein. That would surely satisfy the call for blood! Eye for an eye, folks! That's how it's done!

Phuleeese. We have squandered great opportunities to become a just and respected nation. Instead, of building up relationships with our Allies, we have become belligerent, stubborn, and mean. Instead of investing in improving the lives of our own citizens, we would rather bomb the have-nots in other lands.

I wonder if there would be such a call for the end to the war if gasoline wasn't $3.60 per gallon. Why have we sacrificed 3900+ American lives in Iraq if it wasn't for cheap gas? The hawks were wrong. None of the rhetoric proved to be true. Everything they told the people was wrong. They should be held accountable. Those that do not want to hold them accountable are becoming more and more culpable for these actions. This sad, pathetic adventure as been allowed to fester for long enough.

So, Happy Birthday Iraq invasion! Fuck you.

17 March, 2008

Democracy in Action?

I just returned from a meeting of democratically minded folk in the form of a democratic club.  A few nights back, we sponsored an "election" between candidates for the local assembly districts.  As it turns out, most all the members thought we did a good job with the event.  There were a few people, and candidates that felt the "election" was unfair and not transparent enough.
I thought the whole thing was a bit of a cluster-fuck, and have vowed never allow us to be this unprepared again.

So the question that came up in this evening's planning meeting: should we re-vote.  Here is the thought process.  We designed a poor ballot and voting process.  Why?  It was due mostly to time.  The members of our group didn't make this enough of a priority before the meeting.
I think that by admitting the mistakes publicly, posting the new changes, and allowing for membership commentary, these steps would have a positive effect.  Then, we have a re-vote based on the new procedures.

The other camp suggested that we should keep the results as they are, and have another vote to fill remaining seats (not all seats were filled by the first vote).  Of course, this brings up fairness issues all around (in my mind).  The basic feeling among others in the group was that by having a re-vote, that would disenfranchise those who took the time to vote the first time.  The argument also suggests that because there was a problem with the first vote, that the membership would become distrustful of the leadership.
Are Americans that lazy and fragile?  Wouldn't the population be appreciative of a government (or club) that could admit to a mistake and take actions to correct it?  I think it would be refreshing for the powers-that-be to show some humility and re-vote.

So what is more representative of democratic, grass-roots action?  Is it good enough to make the changes and move forward, or make the changes and re-vote?

Anyone from the Florida Democratic Party wanna field this one? :)

13 March, 2008


I pulled up to the cookie-cutter strip mall to buy some crap I thought I needed to make my life complete.  There was a man sitting on the sidewalk with a "Please Help"  cardboard sign right in front of the car.  It was getting cold outside.  He looked miserable, and I couldn't help but think of how it must feel to be in that situation.

I hate giving away money.  Don't mind spending it.  Just hate giving it away.

As I exited the store, I asked the guy if he wanted some dinner.  He said, "Sure!"  So I motioned to the door of the Popeye's Chicken and we both stood in line together.  As we waited, I made some small talk.  He had been sitting there for a few minutes when I had pulled up.  The weather had been pretty nice lately...etc...etc.  

I ordered what he wanted, paid the cashier, and wished him good luck.  I waited in the car for a minute to make sure the staff gave him his food and drink, and to make sure they didn't chase him out the door as soon as I walked out.

Sometimes, people need to step up and lend a hand.  Sometimes, I need to get off my ass and help someone who needs a little.  Sometimes, people need to take a writing course to create a more interesting narrative.

Oh, well.  What am I getting at?  Make that difference today.  Be that ray of sunshine that bursts through.  Even if you have to actively tell yourself to be a happier person, do it today.  The worst that can happen is you become that happier person and the people in white coats haul you off to the funny farm.  Would that be soooo bad?

08 March, 2008

Requiem for a Beloved Pet

Introducing miss Kali-Ma, named after the Hindu goddess of life, death, change, and transformation. Last Sunday night, we said goodbye to her after 13 really good years. The vet suspected that some blockages in her intestines were cancerous and thought we'd only have about 6 more months with her if we'd put her through surgery. Sadly, we thought it better all around if she fell quietly to sleep than went through that. I will miss her terribly.

I love this picture. It's taken under the kitchen table. She used to sit with us when we ate. Her little ears would pop up over the table, and if we said "hello Kali", she'd poke her whole head up. We have three cats, but as Aaron very astutely pointed out "we had a different relationship with Kali than we do with the other cats." He was right on with that comment. Kali, unlike the other two, was very people-centered. She always followed us around to the rooms we were in and would purr just being near us - no petting required :) She greeted us at the door when we came home. She easily let us hold her and came when she was called. I remember many-a weekend day when I'd say "who wants to take a nap?" and Kali was the only one to join me. She always did. I made that poor cat move 8 or 9 times, even once putting her on a plane in cargo to move from Chicago to San Francisco. She was always a good sport, and as long as we were at the new destination, she adapted quickly.

So, I've lost a little bit of comfort in my life. I'm adjusting my mental map of the world slowly - a map without my little orange tabby following me around, being at the foot of the bed when I can't sleep, stupendously yapping away to get someone's attention. Things are a little quieter, a tiny bit lonelier, and tinged with a bit of sadness. Thank you to Aaron, Hobbes & Kim (the other two cats), friends and family for your sweet words. In the greater scheme of things, the loss of a cat seems trivial, but it's an adjustment none-the-less, so thanks for helping me make it. Love, loop

21 February, 2008

Deck Chair Anyone?

We can win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people with a few thousand more of these friendly patrol vehicles. Each one is specifically designed to encourage Iraqis to come out and meet our soldiers and develop a long lasting relationship with the occupation. After all, we’ll be there for a hundred years, might as well make the best of it!

But seriously, these MRAP vehicles cost upwards of $500,000 each. I agree with protecting our troops, but wouldn’t these funds be better spent bringing them home?

12 February, 2008

Why I Can't Get Exited about Obama (or Clinton Either)

For those in the netroots, we are all too familiar with the disappointment we feel about Jim Web’s vote for to allow telecoms immunity for facilitating warrantless spying on all American citizens. See Aaron’s darkly humorous snark below about Senator Diane Feinstein and how annoyed we are in California. But she doesn’t even pretend to be progressive, so it’s not a big disappointment, just a source of ongoing frustration.

Many of us from all over the country worked our asses off and donated money in 2006 to get progressive candidates into the House and Senate. One such “win” was Jerry McNerney, who has kicked us in the teeth by continuing to support the occupation in Iraq.

So how does this affect my ability to support Obama and Clinton? I’ve wanted – very badly – to be as excited about a candidate as some of my friends and family. Why can’t I? Because they will both let me down – plain and simple.

Neither one has a good health care plan. Both have plenty of corporate ties. Neither is talking seriously about the economy or ending poverty. Neither is willing to take on this weird new conventional wisdom that we shouldn’t have to pay taxes. Gee, I guess schools, roads, bridges, fire fighters, police, the courts, the FDA, the CDC, Medicare, Social Security, the FDIC, USDA, public parks should all just crumble to dust because I should be able to keep *my* money. Shit, I’m going to have to pave my own sidewalk with toothpaste if this keeps up. If I fall through a bridge, or if my apartment washes away because a California levee breaks, my mom and my mother-in-law should divide up the three cats. Take good care of ‘em.

Where’s the audacity of my hope? It doesn’t rest with a good orator who makes people swoon without telling them much. It rests with me. To steal a phrase that he stole from someone else, I need to be the change I want to see. I’m skipping Presidential politics this year (except for my vote). My energy and money will be going to progressive candidates who are challenging centrist (spineless?) Democrats in primaries**. I’m building a pipeline of people who inspire me by what they do, rather than what they say, so that in 10 years, I can be the one swooning.

** (Donna) Edwards unseats incumbent Wynn in Maryland Congress race From the San Francisco Examiner: BALTIMORE (Map, News) - Rep. Albert Wynn of Maryland became the first incumbent to lose his seat in this year's round of primary elections, as lawyer and activist Donna Edwards upset the eight-term Democrat in the suburban Washington district.

Edwards seized on voter dissatisfaction with some of Wynn's votes in Congress tied to
Iraq and the housing crisis, giving her a win in her second bid to unseat Wynn in Maryland's 4th District. In 2006, Edwards lost by just three percentage points in the majority black district that borders Washington.

DiFi Stands Firm with Telecoms

I couldn’t believe the news. Diane Feinstein has displayed strength and resolve in the face of overwhelming pressure from the worst special interest group…the public. I wish we had more Senators that could find the courage to stand up to this motley group of “constituents”.

A few months ago, Oakland DFA Meetup had a letter writing campaign that targeted Diane asking her to block Telecom immunity. I hand delivered the letters to her office. I can’t help but wonder how many letters she received begging for Telecom immunity. It must have been a tsunami of letters.

Methinks it’s time to censure Diane Feinstein. Oh, and California always loves a good recall election!

11 February, 2008

Organize a Community / Run a Campaign

The unconscious democracy of America is a very fine thing. It is a true and deep and instinctive assumption of the equality of citizens, which even voting and elections have not destroyed. - G. K. Chesterton

If you're looking to get the best hands-on training in the country for how to run an electoral campaign, join our friends from Burlington, Democracy for America, in Berkeley on March 1-2 (yes, the national organization is coming to our neighborhood, including DFA Chairman Jim Dean and Executive Director Arshad Hasan!).

Jerry McNerney Beat Richard Pombo in 2006 to win the 11th Congressional District seat with a tremendous grassroots-powered campaign. Did you know it was DFA training in Stockton that fired-up and organized those grassroots, and DFA’s then Training Director Arshad Hasan who ran the Get Out The Vote campaign with 1,000 volunteers on the ground?

Matt Lockshin (of the "Say No to Pombo" blog) sure does. He attended that training, then ran Abel Guillen's campaign for a seat on the Peralta Community College District Board of Trustees using a page-by-page plan he developed from his DFA Training Manual. Abel and Matt ran a local grassroots-powered campaign and won that race! (Matt is happy to discuss campaigning with you and can be reached at 510-495-7206 or emetbloom@hotmail.com).

You have the power, now learn the skills! The Democracy for America Training Academy is coming to Berkeley for two days of exciting campaign training.

How many votes will it take to win in June and November? How do you find the perfect message and get it out to voters in your district? How will you raise enough money to pay for it all?The DFA Training Academy will help you answer these questions and more.

At the DFA Training Academy, top campaign consultants with decades of experience give you the skills to run a winning campaign. Topics include: field planning, voter contact, fundraising, communications, volunteer recruitment and more.

Attendees will also get to hear directly from some of the most exciting 2008 candidates in their area and get a copy of the DFA Training Manual packed with over 180 pages of campaign info.
Refreshments will be provided throughout the day and a social event will be organized Saturday evening so you can mingle and network with other activists in your area.

If you harbor a dream of running for office yourself one day, know someone else you'd like to recruit to run and support, or if you just want to be the most effective political activist you can be, this training is for you!

10 February, 2008

Getting the Hell Out of the Taxi to the Dark Side

I won’t make this a movie review, although I will say that Taxi to the Dark Side is a powerfully moving film on how we came to be a country that not only tortures, but seems to think it’s ok – necessary, even.

Once the film was over, I felt a wide range of emotions from rage to despair. Like Forrest Gump when he starts to run, I felt a compelling need to just walk. To clear my head. To put what I had just seen into the context of my life. Luckily, my movie companion didn’t question my need to just move my feet and struggle through what I had seen.

Which brings me to the idea of getting out of the Taxi before it erupts in flames and engulfs all of us.

On my inaugural post here, I’m not posting any answers. In fact, I don’t even have the time this afternoon to go into much more detail. But I wanted to take a minute to launch this blog today in order to provide a forum to collect these thoughts, direct my thinking, and seek some concrete alternatives. Join me, if you wish, and let’s channel this into something productive if we can.