Tuesday, November 30, 2010


... I had the temperament for prolonged polemic!
Sadly, these brief epigrams are about all I can manage.

Monday, November 29, 2010

New Mexico in the news (sigh)

Swastika case another race issue for NM town
By TIM KORTE, Associated Press
29 Nov 2010
FARMINGTON, N.M. – Three friends had just finished their shifts at a McDonald's when prosecutors say they carried out a gruesome attack on a customer: They allegedly shaped a coat hanger into a swastika, placed it on a heated stove and branded the symbol on the arm of the mentally disabled Navajo man.

Federal pay freeze???

Citing deficit, Obama freezing federal worker pay
If only he were kidding.
But I checked the calendar - Wednesday is 1 December, not 1 April.

... so Obama plans to give one large chunk of consumers less expendable income in the new year. Less income => less spending => less demand => less production => less hiring => less spending...
... you get the idea.

Just a reminder: 10-year treasuries are now yielding 2.66%, and folks are lining up to buy 'em.
The U.S. Government, if it so chose, could borrow lots of money at very low interest.
... But, for some reason, this is not the plan.

p.s. and that "citing deficit" bit is just bizarre! - why has our Democratic administration bought into GOP myths???
(Recall: GOP Congress voted tax cuts & TWO off-budget wars!)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

If you've got a spare 10 minutes...

... maybe you could write a letter to Senator John McCain to thank him for foisting Sarah Palin on us.
Senator John McCain
241 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Phone: (202) 224-2235

The Lobo's football season has mercifully ended

TCU 66, UNM 17.
... and, no: TCU wasn't trying to run up the score.
Believe it or not, 'twas UNM's defense that kept it this close! - They recovered two fumbles, whence derived 14 points. (... other than these two brief flashes the defense was hapless.)

I'll likely not be around in the year 2409 to witness coach Locksley's 400th win.

Class warfare. Classes? Both $$$ & Govt

This'll be a none-too-coherent post, based on rage more than logic.
Yes, I am becoming a class warrior.

When the Wizards of Wall Street take down the economy, are bailed out by MY government, and proceed to reap ungodly profits, then
- YES! I am a class warrior.

Why does the financial system exist? What is its purpose?
In theory - this is Milton Friedman's theory, the theory of pure capitalism - the financial system exists to provide capital for businesses.
It creates $$$ with which we all benefit. Businesses get the $$$ they need to grow and to hire. We - labor - benefit from this largesse. We are employed. Sure, the bosses get most of the $$$, but we all get some!
The Wizards of Wall Street provide the mechanism whereby we are all paid.
A rising tide lifts all boats.

Today? The Wizards of Wall Street are reaping ungodly profits ...
... BUT: the rest of us aren't doing so well.
Unemployment hovers just below 10%.
Businesses are reaping profits, but they're not hiring us.
They're sitting on more $$$ than they can productively spend.

Meanwhile the 'borrow and spend' folks - the GOP, happy to fund two wars off-budget - are soon to be in power.
Kill Social Security. Kill Medicare.
Let us devolve into the starving useless peasants we all are.
Oh - and let the folks who reap the greatest rewards from our magnificent system pay the least for that privilege! - tax the rich? Never.
After all, they create jobs for the rest of us! ... nevermind that they're sitting on more $$$ than they can spend right now, and that giving 'em even more $$$ is extremely unlikely to do anything to help you & me - it's the principle that matters: rich folks - our betters - deserve everything we give 'em!

Is this class warfare?
You bet.

In the meantime, in the name of 'security' we are subjected to humiliating searches at airports...
... while our 'betters' - our rulers, our 'elite' governors - are exempted from this humiliation.

The very-well-paid chattering class tells us that 'socialism' and evil unions are to blame for our crisis.
They - the very-well-paid chattering class - are paid well by the very folks who benefit from the current crisis.
Somehow they've managed to convince a significant proportion of 'we the people' that 'socialism' and evil unions are to blame for our current predicament.
I don't know how they managed this.

I'd like to shake every Tea Party member by the lapels.
'Are you nuts?'

If 'socialism' means MY GOVERNMENT protecting me from the ruthless,unbridled rampages of predatory capitalists, then YES!
- I am a socialist.

AND: if I have to submit to humiliating security screens to travel, then my ELECTED representatives ought also have to subject themselves to the same inconvenience!
I am NOT a terrorist. If you want to search me, GET A WARRANT!

A Tale of Two Countries

North Korea warns region is on brink of war
North Korea has at least three political classes:
The Leader & his entourage, all of whom seem to live fairly decent lives: decent food, clothing, housing.

The Army: from all reports, more-or-less well-fed, well-housed.

Everyone else: Escapees report being surprised that dogs in China are better fed than people in North Korea. The vast masses exist only to serve the State. The State keeps 'em alive on barely subsistence wages only to serve.

In the U.S.?
TSA: Some Gov't Officials To Skip Airport Security
TSA: Gov't Officials With Security Details Don't Have To Go Through Airport X-rays, Pat-downs
CBS News, 23 Nov 2010
AP) WASHINGTON (AP) - Cabinet secretaries, top congressional leaders and an exclusive group of senior U.S. officials are exempt from toughened new airport screening procedures when they fly commercially with government-approved federal security details.
Yep - GOVERNMENT officials here in the U.S. are exempted from demeaning TSA procedures.
The rest of us - those of us kept alive barely, on subsistence wages to serve the State - are all assumed to be terrorists!
- Guilty until proven Innocent.

Tho' the Constitution guarantees that "No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States", effective nobility is granted to "senior U.S. officials" by our government! - They're above us, not subject to the daily inconveniences, intrusions, and embarrassments with which the rest of us - the lowly masses - must contend.

... and what happened to:
Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
[emphasis added]

Just for fun: tell me again, why are we there?

Sadly, this references recent TRUE story!

Tell me again: WHY are we still in Afghanistan????

The holiday is over, but...

... that 'giving thanks' bit is still relevant.
Just a suggestion: among the myriad tasks you tackle each day, find time to give thanks for family, friends, and your unwarranted good fortune!
... and for 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness'.

... and just in case you question that bit about 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness', well... DO something!

aside: 'tis not often i give advice or admonishment.
please forgive me this brief interlude.

Boise State 31, Nevada 34 (OT)

Boise State's dream of Nat'l Championship contention dies, dramatically.
'Twas a fine football game!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

... just another Thanksgiving tradition

For the past many years, my bro-in-law's brother & I have had a friendly wager on Thanksgiving, on the Dallas Cowboys game.
This year I won... but it was iffy there for a while!

For what it's worth: I've been a non-Cowboys fan since the mid-'60s of the last century. Jerry Rhome played for the University of Tulsa in 1963/4 - setting all sorts of NCAA passing records at the time. He was drafted by the Cowboys in 1965... and sat on the bench behind Don Meredith & Craig Morton. I've never forgiven the Cowboys. I don't always have a favorite NFL team, but I ALWAYS cheer for whatever team is playing Dallas!

Putting things in perspective (humor)

A TV spot for The Simpsons:
Bart: This is the worst day of my life!
Homer: The worst day of your life so far.
... on the bright side, that "so far" bit displays hope!

Happy Thanksgiving - redux

Among the myriad things for which I'm thankful are the many virtual friends this blog has brought forth.
'Tis a joy to 'connect with' folks whom I've never met.

Again: hoping you all enjoy a happy Thanksgiving with family & friends!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Continuing what is now a 4-year-old tradition:
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.
It's secular - religious overtones are secondary.
It's American - the rest of world goes on happily without us.

Most of all, for me the basic premise - giving thanks - is a good thing. Yes, I am thankful for my family, for my undeserved good-fortune in life, for friends.
As mentioned in previous years, most of my family & extended family is in town. None of us started out here - we all just ended up here. I've 3 sisters. 2 of 'em are in town, with their husbands. My mom is in town. My wife's folks are in town. Her sister & bro-in-law are in town. A sister's sister-in-law is in town. Our kids are in town. My daughter-in-law's folks are in town. We added a nephew this year.

Usually, some one family hosts a huge Thanksgiving spread.

This year, no.
Wife's folks are celebrating privately - my father-in-law has advanced gastrointestinal stromal tumor... a very aggressive cancer.
One brother-in-law (a sister's husband) just started heavy duty chemotherapy - they're also celebrating privately.
Another sister is celebrating more quietly with husband, son, and sister-in-law... just for the fun of it.

That leaves my wife's sister, bro-in-law, their daughters, and assorted siblings of bro-in-law; our daughter, son & daughter-in-law, & son's in-laws; and son's friends we've known since 1993, when they were students at New Mexico Tech.
Anyway - these 'kids', Scott & Beth, are hosting the large get-together this year... tho', as noted above, it'll be somewhat smaller this year than in years past.

Given the family medical soap-opera, I'm just thankful we're all alive to celebrate with loved ones - even if not all under one roof.

Happy Thanksgiving, with friends & family!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Nothing much to say...

"If a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to SHUT UP!"
- Tom Lehrer
Instead of trying to be brilliant, let me just point you to the folks in My Blog List on right-hand side-bar.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Back on the campaign trail!

As previously stated: successful Congressional campaigns don't end - they morph immediately into re-election campaigns.
For the past few hours I've been laboriously transferring precinct-level election numbers from a NM Sec'y of State website to a campaign spreadsheet - approximately 300 records (others had worked on this before I got it).

1. The NM Sec'y of State website is a nicely designed GUI, which unfortunately allows access to results only one precinct at a time. After the 2008 elections the campaign provided me a CD with MS ACCESS database containing results. I'm certain a similar MS ACCESS DB underlies the nice GUI - I just wish the NM Sec'y of State would make this database accessible directly on the website!
(In 2008 they charged a fair amount of $$$ for the CD - this money-making arrangement likely discourages 'em from providing the database via web.)

2. Observation regarding short-term memory: transferring numbers from NM Sec'y of State website to campaign spreadsheet was not easy COPY/PASTE, but required typing numbers into cells. To remember the numbers, I recited them aloud. I'm pretty much convinced that reciting the numbers aloud is what enabled me to complete the task: an audial cue needed to enhance memory.

3. I'd promised the campaign task-completion by Thanksgiving. After looking at the NM Sec'y of State website for the first time this evening I guessed this would be MUCH more time-consuming than I'd imagined, and that I'd be unlikely to meet the Thanksgiving deadline. As it turned out, the task - though extremely tedious - didn't consume more than three hours.
The joys of political activism!!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Just for fun

Included in the cooking directions for Van de Kamp's Beer Battered Fillets:
Remove fish from plastic pouch before cooking.
Darn! I knew I was doing something wrong!

Oh, good: I'm not alone

From Distributorcap over at The Reaction:
Living with our collective heads in sand
It has been awfully difficult to get motivated to write anything -- the lunatics have truly taken over the asylum and it really does seem that things are collapsing at a alarming rate.

The more I see what is going on the more I believe we're toast as a nation. Forget for a minute the morons in Congress running the country -- we are witnessing a huge increase in illiteracy, we are falling behind third world nations in education, our health care system is the most expensive and the most unavailable on the planet, there is not a whiff of moral compass left in our leaders, political courage is extinct, and innovation is more about how much money can be made and not how we can better society. What would be considered inhumane, spiteful, or uncharitable in any other rationale and free society, is seen as patriotic and character-building here. Our national leaders are entrenched in placing politics (and their own power) well-above national security and societal well-being -- and then are hailed by the media as "men and women of honor." Finally, if you even attempt to address the problems or call out what our weaknesses are, you are labeled (and cursed) as unpatriotic and anti-American.
... There's more, but this captures the idea (and says it much better than I could have!)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Bad day at Black Rock...

Okay - the title is a bit too melodramatic, but it's been an exhausting week on the medical front, culminating in cancer center doc calling the wife last night to advise her to go to emergency room immediately or risk death by morning.
She declined the invitation, and woke up this morning.

Meanwhile, I was a nervous wreck. She probably didn't appreciate me waking her every 30 minutes to make sure she was still alive.

The blood analysis leading to the "or you'll be dead by morning" advice appears to have been tainted - today's bloodwork looked just fine (well, as 'fine' as hers ever looks!).
BUT: as soon as she was hooked up to the 'blood oxygen' gauge this morning, it alarmed. (A clothespin-like device on a finger is the 'hook-up' to the gauge.)
She's now on oxygen: an oxygen condenser for home use + five tanks for outside-the-house mobility.
We're both hoping this is a temporary expedient, and that minor surgery next Wednesday to implant a drain in her abdomen takes care of most problems.
I believe I've mentioned this before: abdominal fluid makes her look like she'll be delivering twins in December. This fluid accumulation, in addition to making her feel bloated, is exerting pressure on her diaphram, making breathing a chore.

Just in case it ever comes up in conversation: Cancer SUCKS!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My dream

Sarah Palin thinks she could beat Obama in 2012
PLEASE, Sarah! Take the GOP Presidential nomination in 2012!!!

Helping the GOP: agenda item for 112th Congress

The incoming 112th Congress has a lot on its plate - defunding Medicare, killing the EPA, establishing 0% tax-rate for millionaires.

It may be easier for them if they start with something small - to achieve a victory quickly.
I have a suggestion: calendar reform. Or, more accurately, calendar nomenclature reform.
The current days-of-the-week are all named for pagan gods.
Sunday - from Old English Sunnandæg, "Sun's Day", reflecting pagan worship of the Sun as a deity.

Monday - from Old English mōnandæg, "Moon's Day", reflecting pagan worship of the Moon as a deity.

Tuesday - from Old English Tiwesdæg, "Tiw's Day", reflecting pagan worship of the Proto-Germanic god Tîwaz, or Týr in Norse, a god of war and law.

Wednesday - from Old English Wōdnesdæg, "Woden's Day", reflecting pagan worship of the Anglo-Saxon death-deity, Woden.

Thursday - from the Old English Þunresdæg, "Thunor's Day", reflecting pagan worship of thunder as a deity.

Friday - from the Old English frīgedæg, "Frige's Day", reflecting pagan worship of the Germanic love goddess Frigg or Freyja.

Saturday - from the Old English Sæternesdæg, "Saturn's Day", reflecting pagan worship of the planet Saturn as a deity.
That's right: all our weekdays are named for pagan deities. The use of this nomenclature insidiously, subconsciously, and demonically teaches all of us to worship pagan gods!
"TGIF" is in fact a prayer for unholy, extra-marital sex! - literally!!!

The days of the week must be renamed to reflect America's Christian culture!
Here are some suggestions:
"Sunday" is easy: simply rename it Sonday, for The Son!

Monday through Thursday? - Rename these in honor of the Evangelists:
Marksday, Matthewsday, Lukesday, Johnsday
Friday & Saturday? Rename them to honor the greatest Apostles:
Paulsday and Petersday
(Note: I suggest "Petersday" to replace "Saturday" because Peter was the Apostle to the Jews, and Saturday is the Jewish Sabbath.)
In addition to ridding American culture of an insidious - and demonic - invitation to worship pagan gods, enacting this reform would be economically stimulative: EVERYONE would be compelled to buy a new calendar! The calendar-making companies would get a LOT of extra, non-seasonal business. Not only every PERSON, but every ORGANIZATION (company, charity, etc.) that distributes "free" calendars would be compelled to buy and distribute new calendars! The economic stimulus resulting from these purchases would help lift us out of recession, and contribute to full employment!

If the GOP-led 112th Congress tackled this burning issue FIRST, I believe they'd enjoy success for the rest of the term.

Monday, November 15, 2010

re: previous post

Everybody dies
Old Testament trivia:
Who are the only two people named in the Old Testament who didn't die?
(This is sort of 'divinity school 101 humor').
[... actually, I had - and took advantage of - the opportunity to rebuke my pastor for getting one of these wrong in a sermon... ]
Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.
[Genesis 5:24, New American Standard Bible]

As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.
[2 Kings 2:11, New International Bible]
Enoch & Elijah: neither died.

Security vs Privacy

Yes, please look at me naked!
Scanners and pat-downs upset airline passengers
For what it's worth: I believe that airline security, if properly enforced, was sufficient to prevent 9/11. Box-cutters were illegal BEFORE 9/11 - and routine security scans ought to have detected 'em!

The more invasive screenings to which we are now subjected are pointless.

Related: 'twasn't any "lack of information" that enabled 9/11, 'twas failure to correctly interpret available information.
"Connecting the dots" is a LOT easier with FEWER dots.
If your senses are overwhelmed by dots, you'll see nothing but dots.

... on the other hand: maybe there's $$$ to be made by me posting my 'full-body scan' images someplace on the web.
I doubt it.
(Those of you who've seen my body - clothed or naked - will understand my doubts.)

a thought for the day

Everybody dies.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Two headlines, juxtaposed:
Spanish priest arrested over '21,000 child porn images'

Catholic bishops: More exorcists needed

Just for fun

Historians Admit To Inventing Ancient Greeks
The Onion
October 7, 2010 | ISSUE 46•40
Scholars apologize for attributing Western democracy to a make-believe civilization.
WASHINGTON—A group of leading historians held a press conference Monday at the National Geographic Society to announce they had "entirely fabricated" ancient Greece, a culture long thought to be the intellectual basis of Western civilization.

The group acknowledged that the idea of a sophisticated, flourishing society existing in Greece more than two millennia ago was a complete fiction created by a team of some two dozen historians, anthropologists, and classicists who worked nonstop between 1971 and 1974 to forge "Greek" documents and artifacts.

"Honestly, we never meant for things to go this far," said Professor Gene Haddlebury, who has offered to resign his position as chair of Hellenic Studies at Georgetown University. "We were young and trying to advance our careers, so we just started making things up: Homer, Aristotle, Socrates, Hippocrates, the lever and fulcrum, rhetoric, ethics, all the different kinds of columns—everything."

Friday, November 12, 2010

Well, that was fun - parts 1 & 2

Well, that was fun!
Part 1 (facetious): What a fun way to spend Friday afternoon - unexpectedly at the UNM Cancer Center! On the bright side, the "patient advocate" was superb - getting Teresa into x-ray, coordinating physician assistant & physician consultations.
... AND: we came away with prescriptions to treat her most obvious symptom - severe abdominal distension! (She looks like she's due to deliver twins in December.)
PLUS: a follow-up appointment has been scheduled to see if the meds are working (and, if they're not, to determine next steps - possibly more invasive treatment).

Well, that was fun!
Part 2 (really - that was FUN!): I attended the "Opera and Broadway Open Mic Night" at The Village Coffee Roaster (519 Central NW) with a former colleague this evening. The former colleague - a statistician and USMC reservist (loyal readers have seen some of his pictures from Afghanistan) - was in town on business.
We'd not seen each other in about 3 years, so a get-together was mandatory. When I suggested attending open mic night (and hinted that his presence might inspire me to sing) he jumped at the chance... and suggested I sing Gilbert & Sullivan. So - off we went tonight for an evening of 'culture'. Both of us enjoyed the experience, and, as promised, I sang G&S: "When the Night Wind Howls" from Ruddigore.

Friend's comments:
1) It's somewhat depressing to see all these amazingly talented folks perform, and realize that our culture provides 'em no $$$ reward.
2) It's somewhat depressing to note that in a city the size of Albuquerque this event draws only ~50 audience members.
3) The Master of Ceremonies does a great job with his entertaining running commentary.

Note: "Opera and Broadway Open Mic Night" is a weekly event.
Every Friday, 7-9 p.m., at The Village Coffee Roaster (just east of 6th & Central, on the north side of Central).
It's free (but donations are solicited and accepted).

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Dog toys

We have a dog - a border terrier. (If you've seen There's Something About Mary, the dog in that movie was a border terrier. In fact, even if you've NOT seen the movie, it still featured a border terrier.)

Anyway, we provide Goldie with toys. Many of these are stuffed things that squeak when chomped on in just the right way. Almost all enjoy a similar life-cycle:
1) for about a week Goldie is delighted to chomp on 'em to make 'em squeak, and tosses 'em in the air.
2) after that first week, she goes for the kill: ripping the toy to shreds, going for the 'heart' - the plastic squeaky thing.
3) after stuffing has been distributed throughout the house, and the heart has been successfully extracted, she plays with the remaining rag for about 3 days.
Then it's time for another toy.

I'm beginning to suspect that this is how we humans work, too.
We find fun toys - either real physical toys, or simply fun discussion topics.
We play with 'em for a week or so.
Then we go for the heart - ripping it out, and leaving stuffing strewn all over the place.
Once the toy is officially 'dead', we keep playing with the rag for another few days... then find ourselves another toy.

... at least, that's a pretty good description of how I move from topic to topic on this blog!!!
(I'm thinking about this as I pick up the shredded innards of the latest toy, strewn throughout the house.)

Monday, November 8, 2010

The saga continues... (update)

Ambulance just carted wife off to emergency room.
No - it's not a life-threatening emergency, this was just the most expeditious way to get her into treatment for severe pain & abdominal distension following most recent chemo.

I'm being a bad husband - staying home.

update (9 nov): Wife was admitted to hospital last night, with suspected but as yet undetermined abdominal infection. Currently on IV antibiotics, anti-nausea stuff, and pain-killers. Given the timing, this seems to be yet another chemo-induced malady. She's feeling better today, and with any luck will be home tomorrow, at which time I'll start paying more attention to news & politics.

p.s. I laughed out loud at Norma's comment!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Public service announcement

"Contrary to popular belief, seagulls don't really explode if they eat Alka-Seltzer."

Saturday, November 6, 2010

UNM 34, Wyoming 31

Sigh. Locksley got a victory.

And to be honest: freshman QB Stump Godfrey looked pretty good, as did sophomore tight end Lucas Reed.

Buffoon welcomes a new follower!

PENolan: welcome to the neighborhood!

Friday, November 5, 2010

How do you eat an elephant?

Here's a link to very slightly edited text of David Walters post from Feb 2009, "One Bite at a Time", detailing some very specific actions that might be taken to re-vitalize Oklahoma's Democratic Party. I've omitted some of the OK-specific names, and reformatted some of it - but have not otherwise messed with the text.
One Bite at a Time
I'm not sure how much translates to other states, but the basic ideas all seem sound.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

completely pointless personal notes

loyal reader & commenter nameless cynic rebuked me for my issues with capitalization. i note only that i grew up reading don marquis's archy & mehitabel, the love letters typed by the cockroach archy to his unrequited love, the cat mehitabel. as a cockroach jumping from key to key on the typewriter keyboard, archy couldn't hold down the shift key - so all his epistles were entirely lower-case. i've adopted this style from time to time...
... in addition to which, holding down the shift key simply takes too much energy.

joe paterno is approaching his 400th career victory as head football coach at penn state.
this is his 45th season. that's about 8.9 victories/season.
unm's current football head coach, mike locksley, is on track to reach his 400th victory in the year 2676. i won't care. i'll be dead. so will he.
to date he's on track for 0.6 victories/year.
supposing he pulls out one win in the next 4 games, that's 1 victory/year... which means he'll get to 400 career wins in the year... 2408.
['in the long run we are all dead', john maynard keynes]
$750k/year. nice work if you can get it.

"No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people."
-H.L. Mencken

on the bright side...

$$$ are important, but $$$ ain't everything!
Angle, O'Donnell, Fiorina, Whitman, Paladino - all spent tons of $$$... their own & others'. They lost.
Yeah, SCOTUS's disastrous Citizens United decision made a difference - BUT: it wasn't ALL the difference.

One other 'bright side' (personal opinion): Will I miss Blanche Lincoln?
Some brilliant pundits blame Bill Halter's primary challenge.
I blame Blanche Lincoln. She dissed the Dem core. She went out of her way to diss her Senate Dem colleagues.
Yeah, we now have to live with Boozman for six years, but at least we KNOW he's not for us.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

As promised: Reflections on the Elections [cleaned up]

[Note: a couple of readers have suggested I clean up original post, to include such things as proper capitalization, and perhaps omit at least some of the ellipses ('...'). Here's the result.]

After I got home Tuesday night from DPNM 'election night watch party' (which happily was a victory party for NM1 & Heinrich), I had a note waiting for me in my email in-box from Bold Progressives. (I don't remember signing up for this site, but probably did in some moment of weakness.)

Anyway, the email asked for my thoughts.
"What are you thinking right now? Seriously, we'd like to know."

So, at 1:00 a.m. I clicked the link and answered the questions as best I could at 1:00 a.m., with more than a little booze under my belt.
Sadly, I didn't keep a copy of my responses, but what follows represents an 'enhanced' (and improved) memory.

Question #1: In general, what are you thinking tonight?
My response (again, "improved"):
I'm thinking that Dems need to learn two basic political skills:
1) Communication
2) Organization

1) Communication skills
Democrats had (and have) by far the better story to tell, the better solutions to propose, but somehow failed to communicate either the story or the solutions.

In part I attribute this failure to our 'sophistication'; to our tendency to intellectualize everything, to think things through, to see the world in grey, not in black & white. BUT - even when the issues ARE black & white, we fail. For example:
GDP = consumption + govt spending + investment +(exports - imports).

Consumption: consumers have no money, and are hoarding what $$$ they do have.
They're NOT spending.

Investment? - Businesses are sitting on wads of $$$, sequestering it; they are NOT investing; and those few that seek to invest are stymied by banks that AREN'T LENDING.

Balance of trade? We're importing more than we're exporting.

What's left?
GOVERNMENT SPENDING to stimulate demand & grow GDP!!!
... but somehow we got sucked into a discussion about the deficit!... even though it's now cheaper for the federal government to borrow than at any time in past 30 years!!! Some investors are in fact PAYING FOR THE PRIVILEGE to lend the federal government $$$!!!
How'd that happen???

We - Dems, progressives, sane people - failed again & again to effectively COMMUNICATE our ideas, our solutions. Furthermore, we failed to effectively rip to shreds the 'arguments' and positions of our opponents.
Over and over. Repeatedly.

To some extent this began at the top, with President Obama.
He who communicated so brilliantly and effectively during the campaign, but has utterly failed to communicate effectively as president.
BUT: we are all guilty.

On the other hand, we simply ridiculed & mocked the GOP's mindless sloganeering, without ever thinking that mindless sloganeering works!
WE ought to get good at mindless sloganeering. But we're too pure, too honest, to intellectual to even try.

[This not said Tuesday night; it represents an after-thought] We're also really lousy at branding/labeling. W's "Clean Skies Act" gutted the EPA, but it was well-named.

When we decided to attack health INSURANCE reform, we mis-labeled it health CARE reform (incidentally allowing the loyal opposition to call it ObamaCARE. Quite a catchy perjorative term; much more catchy than ObamaINSURANCE). The bill itself didn't touch health CARE - it was all about reforming how we provide health INSURANCE. Branding this as health INSURANCE reform would have focused on everyone's bad guys - the insurance industry. Instead, we made it about health CARE.
Branding/labeling is an important communications skill we need to learn.

2) Organization skills
As Dems, we're all absurdly proud of our free-thinking, "I'm not a joiner", lone-wolf approach to politics. I'm as guilty as anyone. Buffoon has fewer than two dozen regular readers, but still I pride myself on doing my part in our great democracy by spewing my drivel on a more-or-less regular basis. Other blogs (including those mentioned on right-hand sidebar) are more effective.
BUT: we somehow disdain formal 'organization'. As a result we are overtaken every news cycle by astro-turf Tea Partiers.

The on-the-ground organization contributing to Obama's election was left to wither.

DNC, DSCC & DCCC are the Catholic Church of politics: centralized, entrenched organizations whose real interest is preserving the status quo.

If we continue to be only a community of passionate bloggers - some with very large readership, others with close to none - we'll continue to fail.
Organization is key - getting people - just folks - to ACT!
Often and routinely. If someone among us can figure out how to motivate folks to ACT, often and routinely, we'll have a prayer moving forward.
Otherwise, it's all just mental masturbation - feels good, but is, in the end, fruitless.
Question #2: What do you think the progressive movement should do next? As in, immediately...
My response (very dimly remembered):
Well - let's address the deficiencies noted above.

Someone - likely, many someones - in our community must have expertise in rhetoric (the art of argumentation for the purpose of persuasion). Let's enlist their help to teach the rest of us how to do it.

Again: Surely some few folks among we liberal/progressives have organization skills! Who are they? How much would they charge?

Finally: we oughta be working with business. Yes, I'm serious. The big $$$ are found in biz community (particularly after disastrous and WRONG SCOTUS Citizens United decision).
Let's figure out how to lobby 'em to convince 'em that govt regulation is IN THEIR BEST INTEREST! (Again: I'm serious. Really. I believe a strong case can be made that govt regulation REALLY IS in big business's best interest. See, e.g., Rules of the Road.)
Question #3: Do you think Pres. Obama and congressional Dems should fight harder for progressive policies or seek middle ground with Republicans? (Please elaborate.)
My response (again, from vague memory, and elaborated/improved):
Middle ground with Republicans??? You're kidding, right?

Time and again President Obama sought compromise (as a means, not an end).
Time and again he's been rebuked.
I'm not crazy about the phrase, but it seems appropriate: time to man up!!!

Our elected representatives (a dying breed) have no clue how to NEGOTIATE! - another basic political skill. We give away the farm before we get to the table (Baucus: "public option is not on the table"). We give away the North Forty afterwards in exchange for vague promises, never fulfilled.

Again: I'm betting there are more than a few someones among the liberal/progressive ranks who KNOW how to negotiate. Let's employ 'em! - sell the Congressional & Senate Democratic caucuses some training classes! (Heck, if nothing else, it'll be economically stimulative, employing private contractors!)
[note: 'compromise' and 'bipartisanship' are means, NOT ends!]

If President Obama decides his best course is to continue current course he ought not count on a second term.
The so-called loyal opposition are convinced he's a pansy. After all, he gives away the farm before negotiations have started.
If he wants to get anything done in next two years, well - now's the time to play hardball.
So - that's close to how I answered the questions Tuesday night, at 1:00 a.m., after much alcohol and some celebration for NM1 Heinrich win.

What would I add today? Limbaugh & Beck.

We need to study 'em.
How do they garner their huge audiences? - they ENTERTAIN!
(This goes to 'communication skills' theme above.)
We've got a couple of folks on our side with same skills: Stewart & Colbert.
BUT: they don't have huge radio audiences.
Air America failed - it was too wonkish.
You - we - need to keep folks' attention. You keep folks' attention by ENTERTAINING.

If you want to contribute your two cents, here are a couple of links:
Progressive Change Campaign Committee

2010: What are you thinking?

p.s. my initial responses included links to Private Buffoon and al Qaeda in Albuquerque (blatant self-promotion).
And, oh yeah! - NM1 is still in the D category: Congrats to Martin Heinrich!!!

p.p.s. in response to this post loyal reader tedthecat sent me a password protected link to an article by former Oklahoma governor David Walters in which he proposed some fairly specific actions to re-vitalize Oklahoma's Democratic party.
Here's the link: http://reddirtblog.typepad.com/onebite
... and here's email addy to request a password: tokenliberal@gmail.com
The title of the article is "One Bite at a Time" (as in "How do you eat an elephant?") It's a long read, but worth it for the specific ACTIONS proposed.
Update: here's a more accessible link. One Bite at a Time

in the meantime...

Tom Degan over at The Rant sums thing up nicely:
"The Rant" by Tom Degan: Was This a Great Country or What?... Still it has to be conceded that the Democrats got exactly what they deserved on Election Day 2010. So many of them have spent the last two years running like frightened rats from the legacy of their party. Most of them refused to embrace the ideals of traditional liberalism - or even explain them - to their clueless constituency. In fact they ran from those ideals.

more later...

I'll join the chorus of post-election analysts... a little later.
(I've a piano lesson this afternoon, and choir practice this evening. I'll be taking advantage of these intellectually stimulating activities to let brain process the few random political thoughts now simmering... perhaps I'll even write something brilliant!)

i guess it's not ALL bad news...

The McRib Returns
For those among you who think a processed-pork sandwich is just this side of heaven, McD's has answered your prayer!

doom & gloom on election night [update]

2 years of Boehner.
6 years of Rand Paul.

Two years ago I was crowing about NM's entirely Democratic Congressional delegation... and governor.
No longer.
NM2 - down south - went back to the reactionary Steve Pearce.
Our new governor? Republican Susana Martinez (54% - 46% over Dem Diane Denish).

On the bright side: Heinrich (D) won re-election in NM1!
With 95% of precincts reporting: Heinrich 52%, Barela 48%.
[note: it took Barela FOREVER to concede!]

update (1:47 a.m.):
percentages cited above are holding with 99% of precincts reporting

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

achievement for the day

... i made pumpkin pie... from a pumpkin!
actually, i made 2 pies: 1.5 cups of cooked, mashed pumpkin per pie.

this is exactly the 2nd time i've used this fannie farmer recipe.
the first time was in 1974.

cooked (steamed), mashed pumpkin; cinnamon; cloves; ginger; sugar; evaporated milk; whole milk; eggs.

... and calling this 'achievement for the day' is not quite accurate.
i cooked the pumpkin on sunday; mashed it on monday... then discovered i didn't have cinnamon or evaporated milk.
off to the store today.
(the implied hiatuses can be attributed - without too much prevarication - to games 4&5 of world series.)

final products are now cooling on the kitchen counter.

fun sign...

... from another math guy:

i'd have represented '1/3' as a fraction, not as a repeating decimal.
(... makes the 'rational' bit a little more explicit...)

Monday, November 1, 2010


The only way to derail the 'tea-party express' is to VOTE!
If you've voted already (absentee, early voting), good for you!!!

If you're waiting to stand in line with your neighbors at your local polling place on election day (my choice), take a friend with you... better yet, take 2 or 3 friends with you!

Me? I LIKE standing in line with my neighbors on election day.