27 March 2010

Republican Dredging Needed

It's doesn't bode well for the U.S. when the Republican party is hijacked by mean-spirited ass-clowns, self-promoters, and delusional mental-troglodytes like Palin, Coulter, Limbaugh, Beck, Cantor, McConnell, and The Orange Erection - John Boehner.

A vibrant two- or multiple- party political system engendering civilized policy discussion is critical to progress in our country.

My concern is that the Republican party will continue to be marginalized by the ninnies, domestic terrorists, and pilots of martyrdom it has come to represent.

That is not a positive trend.

Republicans must find a path for some heavy equipment to dredge their channel of beliefs and principles. A channel that has become, as my philosophic hero Robert M. Pirsig would say, silted in with the debris of thoughts grown stale and platitudes too often repeated.

Hell No You Can't!, the vituperative mantra screamed at the House of Representatives by The Orange Erection, John Boehner, is not a compelling slogan with which to grow a movement of rational problem-solvers.

The #1 Republican challenge is this
The Republican Party needs political moderates -- desperately.
Democrats need some tune-ups in the form of a flexible keel if they hope to sail this mucky delta without running aground. The Democratic challenge is two-fold as follows:
  1. Learning to use language to frame debates(1) (e.g., use “Insurance” reform rather “Health” reform), and
  2. Learning to neutralize Fox News which has become a juggernaut of misinformation and a breeding ground for domestic terrorism.

(1) Has anyone in Democratic leadership read cognitive linguist George Lakoff?  It's astounding how dense Democrats can be. I'm tempted to mail a copy of Don't Think Like an Elephant to every Democratic congressperson.

24 March 2010

Hope Shines & Health Tips

I dig this video for its defiant hopefulness.

The video clip exposes House Minority Leader John Boehner (a.k.a. The Orange Erection) in monochromatic infamy verbally abusing the House of Representatives and millions of TV viewers ostensibly pleading with us to continue to build bridges to the 16th century.

Health Tip

Being mean-spirited, small-minded, and dogmatically obstructionist tends to wreak havoc on one's complexion. (see photo of John Boehner, The Orange Erection - above right).

23 March 2010

Perfect, Enemy of the Good?

During the heat of our nation's public discourse over the necessary ingredients of health insurance reform, I remember Rep. Anthony Weiner admonishing conservatives and progressives alike with the catchy bromide
Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good
Many progressives, including Rep. Weiner, held our noses in support the historic Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, HR 3590, because many of us relish the opportunity to solve complicated policy issues and then marry them to optimal policy solutions. Progressives champion equal access to health care for all citizens (universal health care).

Progressives sought a pragmatic single-payer system of financing universal health care (via a single insurance pool). Medicare is an example of a single-payer system for seniors. Australia, Canada, the UK, and Taiwan are examples of countries that have single-payer universal health care systems.

So progressives sought essentially the extension of Medicare to the entire US population with single-payer financing. Not particularly radical. We're not there yet, but groundwork is laid. Progressives have had to swallow many sub-optimal compromises (e.g., no public option to compete with the wild-west that is the private insurance industry).

By Speaker Pelosi's final gavel strike on HR 3590, progressives and a few pro-life Democrats we're the only leaders capable of compromise. I mocked Rep. Bart Stupak's inclusion of over-reaching abortion language (i.e., the Stupak-Pitts Amendment) by posting "Stupak is as Stupak does  ~Forrest Gump (D LA)" to the blogosphere. But, give dude his props for compromising for the common good by the final vote tally.

Part of getting shit done in Congress is a willingness to occasionally bend principles for the common good. Progressives, in particular, bent over backwards to take it up the fudge hole while voting to pass a sub-optimal bill (a bill that further enriches insurance companies by mandating a new pool of customers). Thankfully HR 3590 offers modest consumer protections and insurance coverage for millions of uninsured people (whose health care heretofore consisted of one option - costly emergency room visits covered by taxpayers).

I wikipedia'd Rep. Wiener's bromide. It turns out the French Enlightenment writer and philosopher Voltaire said
Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien.
which means
The perfect is the enemy of the good.
After many overtures from President Obama and the Democratic leadership, Republicans chose not to participate in shaping health insurance reform. The Republican strategy was to obstruct. It was a strategy that, by definition, eschews problem-solving in favor of a pure political play. It was a strategy that back-fired when it eventually failed to torpedo forward progress.

From the sidelines, we watched Republicans slinging mud and voting against their own ideas. In a perfect Republican world, Republicans wouldn't have to be concerned about the common good. During the creation and emergence of this historical legislation, Republicans created an impenetrable cocoon around their perfect world and refused to budge an inch.

Pragmatism eventually trumps dogmatism. Progress is inevitable.

What Have They Ever Done For Us?

We all can do with a reminder that public services are a good thing.
Elective government is like a garden -- it depends on attentive gardeners.

Thanks goes to my insightful friend Julie Schultz Brown for pointing out to this ironic John Cleese clip.

It's easy to whine about poorly delivered public services, and to bitch & moan about poorly managed public institutions bleeding tax dollars, but not so easy to work to improve them.
Work to improve our public institutions, don't abandon them.
The US is emerging from the demonstrable short-comings of the Reagan revolution (deregulation, eviscerated government services, and costly & senseless war-mongering).

The Next Revolution

The next revolution is restoring Public institutions we can all be proud of (Public Education, Public Transportation, Public Welfare, Public Library, Public Yada Yada).

The next revolution is about injecting People back into the "P" of Public.
One mark of a civilized society is how much one can do free of charge.
The gardener’s challenge:
  • responsible feeding, and 
  • diligent weeding.

12 March 2010

Ku Klux Kurriculum

Members of the Texas Board of Education did their best to out wing-nut Harry Elmer Barnes' Holocaust Denial movement, and to build a bridge to the 16th century, by striking Hip hop from the Texas social studies curriculum and by burying mention of the Age of Enlightenment.

Hip-hop, which Board Members consider nihilistic, will be replaced by country and western.

See the posts

It's only fitting to strike back with a clip of some well-fed good ol' boys - Austin's alt-country band The Gourds - doing a cover of Snoop Dogg's homage to Seagrams and Tanqueray gin, Gin & Juice.
With so much drama in the L-B-C

Its kinda hard bein Snoop D-o-double-g

But I, somehow, some way

Keep comin up with funky ass shit like every single day

~Snoop Dogg
Superstition, bigotry and prejudice, ghosts though they are, cling tenaciously to life; they are shades armed with tooth and claw. They must be grappled with unceasingly, for it is a fateful part of human destiny that it is condemned to wage perpetual war against ghosts. A shade is not easily taken by the throat and destroyed.
~Victor Hugo

10 March 2010

Universal Brotherhood

Alan Cooper's post The Fucking Shovel Joke got me thinking about nuns.
Mother Superior went to the construction site next to the convent seeking out the foreman. She said to the foreman, "Please stop your men from using crude and foul language as the Novices and Sisters should not be exposed to such offensive speech."

The foreman stood his ground, saying that while he sympathized, rough working men and laborers sometimes "called a spade a spade".

Mother Superior drew herself up and replied, "Well, most of the time they call it a fucking shovel!"
My prejudice is that most, if not all religions, like Catholicism, are for the fearful, the small-minded, the guilt-ridden, or the sexually repressed.

But, it's worth reminding myself that the word Catholic is derived from the Greek adjective καθολικός (katholikos), meaning universal. Universal is an expansive word.

It's also worth reminding myself that there were peace-loving, forward-thinking nuns too - not just the priggish battle-axes prowling the Sunday school isles poised on a hair-trigger to slap your ear-holes with a yard stick.

Our Lady of Peace

One Sunday, some time in the stifling New Jersey Spring of 1968, when coerced by my mother to go to the always-dreaded Sunday school at Our Lady of Peace, I encountered one of the coolest nuns...ever.

Young, and small in stature, Our L'il Lady of Peace lugged a portable phonograph into our sauna-like classroom saying, "I have a treat for us."

She set the phonograph on her desk, then - thankfully - opened a few windows. I must have been loosening my wool tie when she carefully queued up the crackly single on the phonograph.

It was a plaintive, but hopeful tune I recognized. I'd heard it played a few times on WABC-AM.

The normally soporific inmates in the room listened in reverie to one of the paeans to universal brotherhood known as Get Together by The Youngbloods.

That tune gave us chills. It moves me to this day.

The Youngbloods were the quintessential 1960s rock band stocked with eventual rock legends.

By the fall of 1969, Get Together had sold over a million copies, and received a gold record from the R.I.A.A. The recording featured the understated, but impassioned lead vocals of Jesse Colin Young.

Here's a video of a live performance of Get Together by the Youngbloods:


C'mon people now,
Smile on your brother
Ev'rybody get together
Try to love one another right now

09 March 2010

Rethinking Intersections

It doesn't take a Road Scholar (sic) to design better traffic flow.

Traffic intersections account for about 50% of traffic accidents. Gary Lauder has an inexpensive idea for helping traffic flow smoothly.

Lauder's sign combines the function of Stop and Yield signs -- He asks drivers to be courteous.

See Lauder's 3-minute Ted where he explains his rationale for the sign...

Don't wait for Lauder's sign to be adopted.
Exercise your community influence to create more sensible traffic flows.
~Garry Lauder

07 March 2010

If Fish Had Hands

The origin of species from a common descent is compelling, as is speciation, multiplication and diversity over eons.

Evolution can occur without morphological change; and morphological change can occur without evolution.

Yet I never imagined an operatic mermaid could move me to tears.

One can't say humans share common ancestry with mermaids for the same reason reputable scientists are skeptical about fairies.
There may be fairies at the bottom of the garden. There is no evidence for it, but you can't prove that there aren't any, so shouldn't we be agnostic with respect to fairies?
~Richard Dawkins
That is why I am trying to be agnostic with respect to humans descending from butt-ugly fish.

Still, the evidence is compelling.

Fish and humans have many of the same organs, a digestive system and a reproductive system.

But humans breathe through opposing nostrils while fish breathe through opposing gill slits.

If fish had hands, would they pinch their gills when they jumped out of the water?

05 March 2010

It's the Oven Door, Stupid

Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign strategist James Carville coined the phrase
It's the economy, stupid
during Clinton's successful 1992 presidential campaign against George H. W. Bush.

Initially the elder Bush was considered unbeatable because of positive foreign policy developments such as the end of the Cold War and the Persian Gulf War. The phrase refers to the notion that Bush had not adequately addressed the economy, which had recently undergone a recession.

Things have not improved much in the last 18 years. Today's catch-phrase is
It's the oven door, stupid

Figuring out how to reign in the insurance industry to improve health care delivery is important, but
the middle class in the US had gotten hammered for over a quarter of a century.
So as Any Major Dude Will Tell You, It's the oven door, stupid that's foremost in everyone's mind.


04 March 2010

Rough Fish Magazine

Fish Shape World View
Wasilla, Alaska

Katie Couric, special political correspondent to Rough Fish, caught up with vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin outside the provincial backwater of Wasilla, Alaska.

Special political correspondent Couric slow-burned the perky Alaskan executrice like a desiccated carp abandoned in a Little Chief smoker.

Coaxing this knuckle-headed ditz into revealing the world-view shaping events in her life, Couric relentlessly grilled Ms. Palin on how the different types of fish she has caught over the years in Alaska might have prepared her for the vice presidency.

Here is an excerpt from our Rough Fish exclusive interview:

When it comes to your world view, what kinds of fish did you regularly catch before you were tapped as Senator John McCain’s running mate?
I've caught most of them, again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media...
Like what kinds of fish specifically…I'm curious that you...?
Um…I’ve caught ALL of them, ANY of them that have been in front of me over all these the years.
Can you name a few?
I have a vast variety of fish holes were we haul out our share of lunkers. Alaska isn't a foreign country, ya know!


03 March 2010

The Most Useless Machine

The US Senate, comprised of ConservaDems and RepubliCants using rules established in more civilized times, seems a helluva lot like the The Most Useless Machine - Ever!...

Definition of Terms

ConservaDems are rudderless politicians who
  • Eschew policy that would benefit the masses 
  • Pander to wing nut issues like abortion
  • Cave under the pressure of corporate interests
In addition to sharing the all of the above characteristics with ConservaDems, RepubliCants are consummate politicians who
  • Spew misinformation for political gain
  • Foment fear and paranoia for political gain
  • Don't give a shit about policy that benefits people
  • Couldn't solve their way out of a damp paper bag

Insurance - A Poster Child for Deregulation

The insurance industry is a poster child for what nearly 30 years of deregulation means to US citizens. All of the ass-clowns since The Pompadour himself Ronald Reagan, who recklessly pursued the anti-regulation mantra of laissez-faire capitalism, are to blame for the corporate anarchy we live with today. This is not the best form of capitalism. Not even close.

Insurance - Sickness Shouldn't Mean Bankruptcy

The torturous, absurd path of actions and reactions in following video, seems a suitable metaphor for the US Congress ostensibly attempting to reign in the brazen crimes of insurance industry outlaws.