Monday, November 29, 2010

Comcast outage ...

Last night, Comcast was out for a number of hours. Emails were trickling through but the Web was completely out.
One thing we realized about not having access to the Web is just how much we rely on technology now compared to the past. And, it's a bit unnerving.
The reverse of that is because I couldn't surf the Web before bed, I went to bed. So, that's not a bad exchange, considering.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thursday, November 25, 2010

OK, I found something I want for Christmas

Yes, a remote control flying Millennium Falcon:


And yes, it actually flies!
I can also tell you why I now know we don't watch a lot of TV. While watching Scooby Doo on the Cartoon Network, the kids were bombarded with all kinds of toy advertising. Of course, dad wanted half the stuff that he saw too ... but that's another story entirely. This isn't usually a problem - 'cause the kids only watch PBS Kids or Sprout, and there isn't much advertising on those channels. But Cartoon Network? Oh yeah ... a lot of ads ... and some really cool toys.

Up way too early today ...

I was up way too early this morning but did accomplish a lot. Then, after checking my Yahoo accounts, I became distracted with all the cool movie previews they have online. I played through a string of them and it reminded of the old days when being flooded with movie previews was a fun part of going to the movies. Of course, like most folks, I haven't been to the movies in ages. But it was still fun watching them this morning ...

Tomorrow is Black Friday, the day everyone goes crazy shopping. It's also Buy Nothing Day. And that's what I will be doing. I'm a bit shocked at the audacity of retailers this year, actually opening at 10 p.m. tonight or, in some cases, 12:01 a.m. tomorrow morning, in order to squeeze every bit of shopping frenzy out of Americans. Instead, why not just lower prices a bit all the time? That would secure and sustain retail spending and leveled economic growth instead of all this hoopla, one day out of the year. Better growth numbers, less stress on employees, less pain in the wallets of Americans ... sounds logical to me, which is why it probably won't ever happen. Also, while there are some cool things on sale, I am surprised by the amount of junk that is out there ...

Two facebook links with reposting:
First, this story, looking at the 2010 electorate: ["The 2010 electorate: Old, white, rich and Republican"]. Of course, this is an estimate. All the data isn't in, as we've seen here in Concord. I'm in the process of gathering some of the data to see if this is actually true. I suspect it is, but the breakdown data still isn't available yet.

And then, there is this, possibly the coolest video out there right now: A remote control SR-71 jet: ["RC SR-71 jet with real engines"]. Super-duper wow!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Monday, November 22, 2010

My Friend Barack

Guest Perspective By Ralph Nader

After nearly two years out, I can imagine George W. Bush writing his successor the following letter:

Dear President Obama:

As you know I’ve been peddling my book Decision Points and while doing interviews, people ask me what I think of the job you’re doing. My answer is the same: He deserves to make decisions without criticism from me. It’s a tough enough job as it is.

But their inquiries did prompt me to write you to privately express my continual admiration for the job you are doing. Amazing! I say “privately” because making my sentiments public would not do either of us any good, if you know what I mean.

First, I can scarcely believe my good fortune as to how your foreign and military policies—“continuity” was the word used recently by my good friend, Joe Lieberman—has protected my legacy. More than protected, you’ve proven yourself just as able—and I may say sometimes even more so—to “kick ass” as my Daddy used to say.

My pleasant surprise is darn near limitless. Your Justice Department has not pursued any actions against my people—not to mention Dick Cheney and I—that the civil liberties and human rights crowd keep baying for you to do.

Overseas, all I see are five stars. You are roaring in Afghanistan, dispatching our great special forces into Yemen, saying, like me, that you’ll go anywhere in the world to kill those terrorists. When you said you would assassinate American citizens abroad suspected of “terrorism”—that news came over the radio during breakfast when I was eating my shredded wheat and I almost choked with amazement. You got cajones, buddy. I was hesitant about crossing the border into Pakistan—but you, man, are blasting away. Even Dick, who would never say it publically, told me he is impressed.

The Leftists are always trying to have your policies show me up negatively. Hah—they’re having one hell of a tough time, aren’t they?

Me state secrets, you state secrets. Me executive privilege, you executive privilege. Me stop the release of torture videos, you backed me up. Me indefinite detention, you indefinite detention. Me extraordinary rendition; you extraordinary rendition. Me sending drones, you sending tons more, flying 24/7. Me just had to look the other way on collateral damage, you doing the same and protecting our boys doing it. Me approving night time assassination raids, you’re upping the ante especially since General Petraeus took over. Me beefing up Defense, you not skipping a beat. Me letting the CIA loose, you told them operate at large. Me demanding no pictures of our fallen troops, you doing the same, but allowing the families to go to Dover which I should have done.

There is one big difference. I never cracked a law book. You are a top Harvard lawyer and teacher of constitutional law. So when you do what I did, man, it’s—what’s the word—legitimization!

Domestically, sure you rag Wall Street, but you continued the big bail out of the bankers and their supporting cast. Sure, you’re tougher with your words, but they deserve it—remember I said that the Wall Streeters “got drunk” and “got a hangover”.

What I get such a kick out of is how you handled the unions and libs who backed you with dreams of Hope and Change. How smoothly you let them learn they got nowhere to go, just as we used to tell our conservative wing the same thing (though now they’ve been reborn as growling Tea Partiers). So, cardcheck, single payer, rolling back my Party’s passage of legislation in Congress—you made them forget it!

You have been such a great president—backing me on so many things—keeping most tax cuts and shelters, support for my oil and gas buddies (my base), big loan guarantees for nukes, keeping Uncle Sam from bargaining down pharma, expanding free trade, not going tough on China (my Daddy especially liked this one), avoiding class struggle rhetoric and so on.

You want to know how confident I am about you? Even though you called waterboarding “torture,” I proudly admitted approving its use to protect our country and its freedoms. Isn’t that really what the Presidency is all about, along with honoring our troops and the entire national defense efforts?

Semper fi—
George W. Bush

P.S. My mother Barbara is a big fan. She calls your term so far Obamabush. Cute, aye, for someone who was never a wordsmith.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Quick link dump ...

It's been a while since I have put together a link dump. Here are some things going on:

First, I want to give a kudos out to colorful Manch state Rep. Steve Vaillancourt, a Republican who, many months ago, predicted that there would be a Republican sweep at the N.H. State House on Nov. 2. He guessed that Democrats would lose 74 seats. Some snickered after his email was passed around Concord. He was off though ... on the low side ... The GOP gained at least 122 seats, with some recounts still to be settled.
Wow.
Vaillancourt, who was great for a quote when I was working in radio news in Concord and made a point to attend Election Committee meetings where I liked to camp out, also has a cable show, "More Politically Alert." Here is the embed code to the show where he meticulously goes through all the Manch Ward and some state results:

MPA 111010 from TV Guy on Vimeo.

I'm in the process of gathering some turnout data from Concord, to compare some of the results from previous years, especially the Democrat tsunami years of 2006 and 2008. The clerk would have the breakouts I'm looking for from 2010 for another couple of weeks. But I already know from looking at the results that while Democrats lost the support of independents, they also stayed home in droves. I'm guessing that Concord Democrats staying home costs Annie Kuster a Congressional seat. And, I suspect that this will reverse itself next year and there will be Democrat gains in 2012. I'm not going to make a sweeping prediction just yet. But I suspect that after Americans get a taste of the GOP during the next 18 months, they aren't going to be happy with what they see.

Here's a great piece on the history of WMFO, the Tufts community radio station where I got my start in radio so many years ago: ["Goooooood Morning, Medford"]. I wish someone could do some research into old newspapers and see if the train track legend is true or not. I suspect it is.

Should President Obama skip a re-election bid? Democrat pollsters and FoxNews commentators Pat Caddell and Doug Schoen think so: ["One and done: To be a great president, Obama should not seek reelection in 2012"]. The cynic in me can't help but think that somehow Roger Ailes is behind this oped. We're seen some of the Republican presidential field. In a word, they can be described as "yuck" (with the exception of Sarah Palin who is, obviously, not a knuckle-dragging, old, fat, white guy). But, seriously, wow, squared ... what a column. At the same time, who would the Democrats run? Most potential candidates are also-rans at this point. The new blood is being suffocated by old, Baby Boomer pols who just won't get out of the way.

Put this in the One Good Thing about the Republicans taking over Congress Category ... Rep. Ron Paul going after the Fed: ["Bernanke's worst nightmare: Ron Paul"]. Yes, finally, can we have some oversight of the private bank that controls our country's monetary system? Say it with me folks ... Yes, we can! ... Can we finally audit the Fed? ... Yes, we can! ... Expect very good things from this next year. And why is this important? Because, at least at Walmart, inflation is already here: ["Secret Walmart Survey Shows Inflation Already Here"]. So while a slew of people are out of work, and millions on food stamps, many businesses are cashing in. Note: This is why it is important to realize that even though Wall Street might be OK, Main Street clearly isn't. Stock prices rise while people get creamed.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Founders set up the country to limit drastic change

After nine hours of sleep, I was up at 5:30 a.m. and decided I should try and clear off the dining room table a bit. For the first time in I don't know how long, I actually got to do more than skim a newspaper.
I don't subscribe to the Sunday Globe but we get it at the office and I was able to check out the Ideas section this week and came across this excellent column by Elvin Lim: ["No change"].
Lim lays out the historical case on how and why the nation will never get expansive "change" due mainly to the separation of powers and the convoluted and difficult process to amend the Constitution. It's a pretty good read.
I think now, the next step, is to look at how the electorate is influenced by advertising and rhetoric, and whether or not those influences have a drastic effect on election outcomes. I won't use the word "educated," as in, "the American people need to be educated ..." since that has all kinds of arrogant connotations to it that I personally find offensive. Some folks are just firm in their belief systems and all the "education" isn't going to make a bit of difference, something that is perfectly fine since this is, after all, America.
But it is clear that both sides of the political spectrum don't really understand that 1) we live in a Republic, not a "democracy," and 2) the system is set up to not create the sweeping changes many people want to see from the federal government, whether they are "Obama zombies" or Tea Partiers. My friends on the left need to propose their major changes in the form of Constitutional amendments if they want a European-style democracy. My friends on the right need to understand that, yeah, there is waste, fraud, and abuse in the federal budget and it is so big and expansive that it will probably always be there. The best we can probably do is chip away at it and the influence of corporations too, while we're at it.

Is it time to unsubscribe?

I haven't worked in radio in more than 3.5 years ... is it about time to unsubscribe to all the corporate radio email lists I'm on at this point in time?
I just spent 15 minutes going through four days worth of email. On a whim, I looked and realized that I'm on nine different radio email lists. I think it might be time to cut the cord ...

Note for W.

Dear former President George W. Bush,
I didn't buy Clinton's book and I won't buy yours, for the same reason (although I will buy Keith Richards' book when it comes out on paperback ...). I lived through it with you, so I don't need to read your version of what I lived through with you. Thanks but no thanks.
I will say that I find it a positive thing that you have realized you made mistakes during your presidency (unlike Clinton, who was defiant even if the face of fault). Too bad you didn't own up to them and fix them when you had the power to do something about it.
Good luck on the book tour.
Best, Tony

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Democrats Squander the Swing Vote

Guest Perspective By Ralph Nader

The mid-term 2010 Congressional elections are over and the exaggerations are front and center. “A tidal wave,” “an earthquake,” “a tsunami,” cried the Republican victors and their media acolytes.

Wait a minute! No more than 7 percent of the actual voters switched sides to create a 14 point spread. This amounts to about 3 percent of all the eligible voters who produced this “tidal wave.” That is what happens in our winner-take-all system. So when it is said that “the people have spoken,” chalk it up to 7 percent or so switcheroos. The rest voted the way they did in the previous Presidential and Congressional election (and about 28 million voters stayed home.)

Such sweeping descriptions gave incoming House Speaker, John Boehner, even more leeway than usual to play with words when he declared, without further elaboration, that “the peoples priorities and agenda are our priorities.” Mr. Boehner is the consummate corporate logo-man masquerading as a Congressman. If someone drew the logos of all the big companies that have marinated his career and put them on his suit coat, they would run into each other.

How then did the Democrats lose against the most craven Republican party in modern history—a Party that opposes again and again the fair rights of workers, consumers, investors, savers and patients.

Regarding patients, Boehner’s oft-repeated view of the modest, non-single-payer health insurance changes by Congress and Obama—“it will kill jobs, destroy the best health care system in the world and bankrupt our country.” Reporters listen to Mr. Boehner say this repeatedly and do not ask him to explain his wild rhetoric.

So, in listing some of the ways the Democrats failed to defend the country against such Republicans, put near the top not rebutting the crisp lies and abstract assertions that Republican candidates uttered while campaigning or “debating” their Democratic opponents. Listening to debate after debate on C-Span radio, I was amazed at how infrequently the Democrats demanded examples from their Republican opponents each time the words “cut spending,” “cut taxes,” “reduce the deficit,” “deregulate” and “create jobs,” were uttered.

In elections, one side is on the offensive and the other is on the defensive. The offense creates momentum unless it is countered and driven back. Since the Democrats are furiously dialing for the same corporate campaign dollars, it is difficult for them to stand for the people. That is why the Democrats are wishy-washy, reticent and reluctant to put major subjects of abusive power on the table.

Rarely did one hear Democrats state their position on corporate crime law enforcement, huge fraud on the taxpayer (Medicare), anti-collective-bargaining laws for labor, the bloated military budgets, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the flood of corporate subsidies, handouts, giveaways and bailouts, or the grotesque tax escapes for the multinational corporations and the super-wealthy.

They did not want to talk about consumer rip-offs, or the hundreds of thousands of unprotected Americans who lose their lives every year from un-regulated workplace-related diseases/traumas, medical malpractice, air, water and food contamination, or having no health insurance.

Too many Democrats are cowering candidates. Speaker Nancy Pelosi told incumbent Democrats that they could criticize her if necessary to get elected and preserve their majority in the House. Since Republicans made a practice of assailing Pelosi in almost every debate or on every occasion, many Democrats did not rebut their Republican opponents. Some Democrats stated they would not vote for Pelosi as Speaker in 2012. Unrebutted political attacks often influence voters who wonder at mixed messages from members of a Party.

A key Democratic failure was not to keep on Howard Dean, as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Between 2005 and 2009, Dr. Dean, with his 50 state strategy, energized both the DNC and state Democratic Committees. He knew what it took to go on the offensive against Republicans. He produced victories in 2006 and 2008 before his bĂȘte noire, Obama’s Rahm Emmanuel, pushed him out.

Dr. Dean would have challenged the Tea Party and slowed its momentum. When the Democrats saw this self-styled conservative/libertarian rebellion receive the first of its vast mass media coverage (especially by Fox News and Fox Cable) in August, 2009 when Tea Partiers loudly showed up at town meetings of incumbent Congresspersons, there should have been a Democratic response. A “Coffee Party” of progressives and deprived workers rebelling against the corporate control that 75 percent of Americans believe is excessive might have caught on.

Instead, the Tea Partiers, in all their disparate strands and wealthy right-wingers trying to take them over, became the daily feature and news of the 2010 campaign year.

Obama came out of his 2008 victory with 13 million names of donors and supporters, along with great enthusiasm from young voters. The Democrats squandered this support. This astonishing blunder happened, in no small part, because Obama turned his back on his supporters and denied their leaders White House access that he so often afforded corporate CEOs—eg. from the health insurance giants, drug companies, and banking behemoths. That’s one reason so many of his 2008 supporters stayed home in 2010 and did not vote. They felt betrayed.

With 23 Democratic Senators up in 2012, as compared with 10 Republican Senators, the Democrats may lose both Houses of Congress. Voters shouldn’t only have the barren choice of voting for the least worst of the Two Parties. Here we go again. Or as F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Campaign 2012 begins?

I'm hearing some strong rumors that Barack Obama could potentially have both liberal and moderate primary challenges in 2012.
Some of the names being circulated? Former Gov. Howard Dean, Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich, and Ind. Sen. Evan Bayh. Plus, a potential challenge from NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg too. Wow.
I don't think people should be speculating until the ballots are counted. But I'm hearing some folks say they expect an LBJ-styled bow out by Barack Obama before the bloodletting begins next year. Double wow.