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Sep 29, 2012

Archive: Blogging

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Sep 25, 2012

Mitt Romney: Commando in Chief

The blog is called "It Makes Sense," but I've read this paragraph sixteen times, and have yet to make any sense of it whatsoever.

"Conservatism is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and opposes rapid change in society. Conservatism is not so much a philosophy as an attitude, a constant force, performing a timeless function in the development of a free society, and corresponding to a deep and permanent requirement of human nature itself. It is the persistent image of society as a command structure in which the responsibilities of leadership can be exercised within the framework of a strong state manifested in divine right."
(Mission statement over at It Makes Sense Blog.)

Sep 16, 2012

Where Is The Outrage?

I recently found myself participating in an animated discussion about what "freedom" means. No matter who you are, where you grew up or what lessons stuck with you from what age, your idea of "freedom" has been shaped by untold influences. When and how do we learn the concept of freedom, or any other tenet of the social contract for that matter, is lost to us in later years. I dearly wish this were not the case, because I would do anything to go back in time and observe myself learning what is freedom. And why not, since we're time-traveling, observe myself learning all of the trickier of life's lessons that all add up to who you are as a person, each new learned thing one more fiber of your moral code. When did we learn how to share? Can you pinpoint the day that you first understood honesty? What does it mean to be grateful? Is there such a thing as a selfless act?

Sep 7, 2012

Capital Vices / Cardinal Sins

"You know, I think it's about envy. I think it's about class warfare." (Mitt Romney, The Today Show, January 2012)

"Of course there are exemptions for those who make money from capital gains, which is legal....so vote for someone to change the laws...each person, rich, middle class and poor look for all of the exemptions and tax loop holes that they can find. If not for those spending money, our economy would be crashing more...stop the class war fare and the envy that is being broadcast by the O supporters." (Another informative Facebook rant from the right)

Sep 3, 2012

Gosh Darn, Still No Growth?!


So you're chatting with your favorite conservative friend, you present a position, they pull out the "I don't believe it" policy card. You guys. I am so sick of it I can't even. Not only is "I don't believe it" pretty much a conversation-stopper, but doesn't it kinda sound like your friend will gladly re-engage in an adult conversation, if only you could provide some facts? Oh, would that it were so! But this is not our reality.

Sep 2, 2012

Republicans Are Lying To You About Jobs And Also Literally Everything Else

Michelle DiPoala
On August 27th, former Republican congressional staff member Mike Lofgren wrote a truly brilliant piece for The American Conservative entitled "Revolt of the Rich." It's a piece that should be taught in schools when our democracy has been totally and completely obliterated by the wealthiest citizens, only it won't be because after they're done destroying jobs, they'll be coming after free press, national parks and public land, and then, education. History, as they say, is written by the victors. If we don't do something now, we're at risk for knocking out the very pillars of democracy in America.

In this piece, Mike Lofgren points up the bought-and-paid for corruption on both sides of the aisle, but mostly Republicans. Without devolving into groundless generalizations or vulgar name-calling, Lofgren calmly explains how we got here.


It Only Hurts When I Lofgren


Lofgren recalls an early-1990s incident back when the American corporations were really starting to get into shipping American jobs off to other countries. He writes about successful businessman Erik Prince.
"Erik Prince, who was born into a fortune, is related to the even bigger Amway fortune, and made yet another fortune as CEO of the mercenary-for-hire firm Blackwater, moved his company (renamed Xe) to the United Arab Emirates in 2011. What I mean by secession is a withdrawal into enclaves, an internal immigration, whereby the rich disconnect themselves from the civic life of the nation and from any concern about its well being except as a place to extract loot." (Mike Lofgren, The American Conservative, August 27, 2012)
Then there's billionaire Stephen  Schwarzman. You might have caught the news on this guy, he's the hedge fund exec who threw himself a five million dollar birthday party.
"While there is plenty to criticize the incumbent president for, notably his broadening and deepening of President George W. Bush’s extra-constitutional surveillance state, under President Obama the overall federal tax burden has not been raised, it has been lowered. Approximately half the deficit impact of the stimulus bill was the result of tax-cut provisions. The temporary payroll-tax cut and other miscellaneous tax-cut provisions make up the rest of the cuts we have seen in the last three and a half years. Yet for the president’s heresy of advocating that billionaires who receive the bulk of their income from capital gains should pay taxes at the same rate as the rest of us, Schwarzman said this about Obama: “It’s a war. It’s like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.”  For a hedge-fund billionaire to defend his extraordinary tax privileges vis-à-vis the rest of the citizenry in such a manner shows an extraordinary capacity to be out-of-touch. He lives in a world apart, psychologically as well as in the flesh." (Mike Lofgren, The American Conservative, August 27 2012)
But perhaps the most insightful passage of Lofgren's article was an anecdote about the CEO of Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. That's a fellow by the name of Robert Rubin. The story goes that Mr. Rubin was attending an event -- unspecified but the implication was it was a political event. His chauffeured limo hit Manhattan traffic, and he arrived late. When he got to the event, he complained to "a city functionary with the power to look into it." The functionary asked where was the traffic jam? Even though Robert Rubin lived in Manhattan most of his life, he didn't know enough about the city to answer.
"Our plutocracy now lives like the British in colonial India: in the place and ruling it, but not of it. If one can afford private security, public safety is of no concern; if one owns a Gulfstream jet, crumbling bridges cause less apprehension—and viable public transportation doesn’t even show up on the radar screen. With private doctors on call and a chartered plane to get to the Mayo Clinic, why worry about Medicare?" (Mike Lofgren, The American Conservative, August 27, 2012)

"Obama Promised Jobs!"

President Obama officially released the American Jobs Act in September 2011. Part 3, Subtitle E is titled "Immediate Transportation Infrastructure Investments." "Infrastructure" means sweeping repairs to our nation's crumbling bridges, fixing roads and building reliable, viable public transportation. These are things that, if fixed, would put millions of construction workers back on the job and also shore up our country. Unlike some of the other, more gnarly issues with a lot of moral gray area—such as abortion, I am aware that's a tough one for many—on the "infrastructure" issue there is no requirement for the "I don't believe it" conservatives to cede any moral ground or make any leaps of faith. It's all right here, in great detail. He's got a plan and this bill would put it into motion. The actual Obama jobs bill is right here. The President's plea to set aside partisan politics is right here.
"This is the bill that Congress needs to pass," the president said. "No games. No politics. No delays." (Barack Obama, Huffington Post, Sept 12 2011)

The Republican vote opposing 17 jobs bills is a shock. Jobs is one of their platform pillars, and yet, they would seek to have you believe that high unemployment is Obama's fault while literally voting against every effort to turn it around. There is video of Republican Senator Mitch McConnell saying, proudly even, that the only goal for Republicans is to get Obama out. They're not even trying to pretend anymore, they're simply obstructing everything that Barack Obama says or does, regardless of the monumental benefit to the American people. And yet, my conservative friends remain stalwart, "in support" of the twisted, sick Republican agenda. They don't even see that the Republicans have no agenda other than a systematic dismantling of democracy. My conservative friends can't seem to see that they're holding the rope that the hangmen are tying round our necks, while at the same time blaming gravity for the inevitable end result.∎

This is your enemy, America.


Related: 
Life in the Lower 99
Gosh Darn, Still No Growth?

Sep 1, 2012

"Boston. Because F--k You!"

Navigating in and around Boston takes more than a mere map. Outsiders marvel at the high percentage of super-charged conversations between residents that focus entirely on driving, traffic and parking. It's as though the Dunks-torqued citizenry is collectively compiling an epic saga entitled How I Survived My Commute Today, and a handbook series with titles such as, Nobody In History Has Ever Parked A Car Anywhere Near Harvard Yard, Asshole. 

Each September, God help the parents at the wheel of packed-to-the-nuts SUVs delivering freshmen to one dorm or another. Those people will sooner sprout wings and take flight before they get where they're going on the first (or 10th) try, and they are in the way. If it's your first traffic circle, get ready to see a synchronized middle finger ballet with a resounding fugue of angry horns. If you hesitate for one nothingth of a second at a left green arrow, call your loved ones. The LA freeways may have popularized the term "road rage," but Boston drivers want blood.

Maybe "just pave over those cow paths" wasn't the best strategy for city planning.

You Can't Get There From Anywhere


My personal story goes like this. My then-boyfriend and I moved to Boston in the early 90s after college. Flummoxed by the seemingly inexplicable one way streets, traffic circles, scant signs and dead ends, we mounted a self-imposed seminar on Getting Around Boston. 

We would get our maps (which is a very old-school way to start a sentence) and set up destination-based challenges. We'd simulate the gauntlet for a variety of trips. These were practical recon excursions. "OK," we'd say. "Right now we are at home (Inman Square in Somerville). How do we get to the Prudential Center."  And so forth.

Our skills would be put to the test in the real world, but only at quiet times. During the day it's too chaotic. So we'd wake pre-dawn, and get out there when the only other cars on the road are bread trucks and cabs.


"There's Big Ben, kids! Parliament!"


"Is this Comm Ave? I think this is Mass Ave! Wait, was that our right turn? You can only go left here, WHAT THE F....?" 

Do you know they change the name of the road you're on sometimes here? Sometimes it changes back after a few miles. Or not.

Did you know that it's possible to have a dead-end, one-way street? Nod to Steven Wright...and no wonder...he lives here.

Did you know that the compass points -- North, South, East and West -- can exist in some sort of hazy in-between space like those random thoughts you have when you're half awake or half asleep and don't know what day it even is?

Death grip on the wheel at 10 & 2. One way streets, traffic circles, dead ends. Blink, and you miss a vitally important sign the size of a greeting card, and now you have to drive out to the airport in order to get back to downtown.

One night I swear I turned right at three Dunkin Donuts' in a row and ended up at the corner of Tremont and Tremont.

Lest you think, oh, but that was before GPS technology got really good. Sure. It's a theory. Try it out. Have fun!



Parking Wars


Even if you reach your destination, my friend, you still have to park. The question, "where did you park?" never even comes up in other places, but here that's an ice breaker. Some years ago, I wrote a poem about giving up and just going home. 

Ode to Star Market