The Trickle Downgrade

12 08 2011

I have mentioned that I got a job a couple times now, but I’ve never discussed it too much because it’s sort of difficult to do. I record local government meetings for broadcast on a nearby town’s government access television channel. It isn’t easy to write about what goes on at work because you don’t want to offend people or appear to be imparting a bias. Some issues get people’s blood pressure up and, if their statements are taken out of context, they could seem rather foolish. Actually, a lot of politics and debate is context and that’s why you hear so many people in the public eye complaining that their words are being “taken out of context,” and I can almost guarantee you will hear that phrase a lot more as the presidential election process gets moving. With all that said, this information comes directly from a meeting I covered. The meeting was public and I think this little tidbit of information serves as a reminder of how irresponsible it is for elected officials at the national level to play games with important issue like our nation’s economic stability for the sake of pleasing a small portion of the population. There is no ‘I’ in democracy no matter how many flags you wrap yourself in, how many times you say the word “constitution”, “patriotism”, or “common sense”, or how much you know – or don’t know – about eighteenth century colonial history and historical figures.
The town I work for is small, rather affluent, running a small budget surplus at the moment, and – according to the First Selectman – has the lowest unemployment rate in the state. They use the Moody’s agency to rate their credit. When Moody’s changed its outlook for the US economy from stable to negative because of the ridiculous brinksmanship of some in Congress, they changed this town’s outlook from stable to negative as well because a town, city, or state is really only as reliable as the country it’s in. That makes sense, but it still doesn’t seem fair and that’s not the fault of Moody’s. It’s the fault of those in the House of Representatives who decided to hold their breath until they got what they wanted even if it endangered our nation’s economy. These people have been called a lot of things – and I’m about to say my piece as well – but I will be avoiding a couple popular terms. I’m not going to call any elected official a terrorist. That is a very loaded statement that I’m not going to level at anyone willy -nilly.  I also think that calling these people hostage takers gives them too much power. I’m calling them children because that’s exactly how they behaved – like spoiled, undisciplined children throwing a tantrum until they get something that shuts them up for a little while. Is that how America is led nowadays? Really!? By grandstanding and ranting and putzing around instead of getting things done they are screwing over places that they couldn’t identify on a map if they wanted to. A note to these congress people – think before you act, don’t act before you think!

Then again, they may find the suggestion that they think to be too elitist. Fear not for I have other suggestions for what they can go do.





The Debt Ceiling Debate Summed Up in One Photo

21 07 2011

In case you and no idea, I’m a geek – specifically, a political geek. And not just a Daily Show/Colbert Report fan political geek either, but a Politico-reading, Rachel Maddow Show-watching one. Did I mention my job is covering town meetings for Government Access TV? Yeah that much of a geek. The results of my geekiness is that I’ve learned a lot about the debate going on in DC about whether or not to raise the nation’s debt ceiling. I could get into the issue, but I’m not sure anyone would be interested in the opinion of someone who gets no say in the matter. Honestly, I really think this about sums it up.

Nancy Pelosi looks appalled, John Boehner seems on the verge of tears, and the President is pouting. We do not have a deal, folks! Back to the drawing board!





Wedding Season Political Junkie Style

13 07 2011

There are a few things that are clear this fine summer evening – we are in the midst of “wedding season” and that our politicians will fight rather than compromise on any issue, however large or small, for as long as they can stretch it out. Seriously, House of Representatives?! Light bulbs?! Pictures are fun (especially while I sort out a more substantial post), so I’ve combined these two topics for your amusement. Here are a collection of wedding pictures of people who would be political players some day.

John and Jacqueline Kennedy. Is there any picture of them that doesn’t look like a scene from a movie?

I couldn’t find a picture of Lyndon and “Lady Bird” Johnson’s wedding, but this them as newlyweds.

I’m not posting a picture of the Nixons’ wedding because I didn’t find one. This is a photo of them dancing at their daughter Tricia’s White House wedding.

I did find a photo of Gerald and Betty Ford on their wedding day. How ’bout those socks, huh?

This is Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter and they look about fourteen. It’s kind of creepy.

Ronald and Nancy Reagan cutting the cake. Nancy Reagan’s hat reminds me of Princess Leia’s hair. Just thought I’d share that observation.

George and Barbara Bush. It seems odd seeing them as young people.

You can’t mention the name “Clinton” and the word “marriage” without pissing someone off, so I’ll say as little as possible on the topic. The bride’s hairstyle is a bit much, but it was the seventies so I can’t hold the fro against her.

Bush wedding 2: The Dubya edition.

Barack and Michelle Obama have supplied the cutest photo of this post.

There’s not much in the way of non-Presidential political wedding photos (as it should be, frankly), but I looked anyway because I saw this one in a political ad and wanted to have a reason to add it. Herman Cain, Republican presidential candidate wins the award for most awkward looking groom, but we are a country that has elected some odd-looking gentlemen.

This is Mitt Romney before he looked like what designers at Mattel would create to fill a box with the word ‘President” on it.

As a sort of flashback, this is John and Cindy McCain.

When Nancy Pelosi was poised to begin her four-year stint as Speaker of the House of Representatives, a lot of biographical pieces were done on her and this photo is from one of them.

I will end this rose petal-sprinkled wander through recent political history with this photo of Texas governor Rick Perry. So far he just the Republican governor of Texas, but the are presidential campaign rumblings once again coming from the Lonestar State. I think we’ll soon be seeing much more of him.

Enjoy the wedding season/political spitball war that is this summer!





Admirable Women – Ahead of Her Time and Misunderstood

5 03 2011

Eva Perón, or Evita, hasn’t really gotten a fair shake, historically speaking. Considering the kind of power and popularity she had in her country and her advocacy of trade unions and her successful campaigning for women’s voting rights, her very public persona, and her power within her husbands’ presidency, she didn’t fit in with America’s Father Knows Best, Wonder Bread, Happy Homemaker view of women and how they should behave. There was also the fact that Argentina still had strong ties with Franco’s Spain. In the immediate aftermath of World War Two, having any sort of friendship with the fascist government was extremely unpopular with most of the rest of the world. Argentina at the time had a large population which was of Spanish descent, so they saw things a little differently. The overthrow of her husband’s government and the incoming government ‘s ban on Perónism also had a lot to do with the way she is seen even now. She was not a saint or without flaws by any means, but I think it’s about time we take another look at her and dispense with the myths and legends and whatnot.

She was an illegitimate child and when her father went back to his wife, her family was thrown into poverty. There was a significant stigma attached to be born illegitimate at the time. When her husband was president, she altered her birth records to make it appear that she had been born to married parents. That’s not good, but her efforts to improve the standing of those who she referred to as “natural children” in Argentina was. As a teen, she left home and moved to Buenos Aires to pursue an acting career. That didn’t really go too far, but she did get a job doing radio shows and eventual she was a co-owner of that company and was making a very good living. Her newly attained socio-economic status allowed her to meet new and more influential people who eventually came to include Juan Perón and the rest, as they say, is history. They married and were extremely devoted to one and other until her death. She toured Europe as Argentina’s first lady and, like all first ladies everywhere, her clothing and hairstyle choices where fodder for columnists who could rarely, if ever, be pleased. Reading her history now as the post Women’s Lib, Millennial, twenty-something that I am, she sounds like the first contemporary first lady – strange blend of Sarah Palin’s fanatical fan base and use of media as a political tool, Nancy Regan’s complete adoration of her husband, and everything bad anyone in the nineties said about Hillary Clinton’s involvement in her husband’s administration, fierce ambition, and solo traveling to other countries. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but a lot has changed since the late 1940’s and being ahead of your time isn’t usually well-received. I find the real story of Evita much more interesting than the movie. It’s hard to believe that she died at 33.





Because Glenn Beck Makes Me Think of Impending Doom

1 03 2011

I really don’t like Glenn Beck. That probably comes as no surprise seeing as the things he says are destroying the country – namely secularism, cosmopolitanism, liberalism, not feeling bad – even feeling proud – about being smarter than a jar of mayonnaise, and a healthy wariness of unbridled, unregulated corporate power – are things which I tend to support. My issue is not that he thinks that people who think the way I do hate their country (not true) and desperately what to turn the country communist (I do not), fascist (nope), or simply reduce it to a lawless, fiery hub of despair (Not even close) or the fact that he spouts this stuff on TV every day while simultaneously insisting that all other news sources are in on the plot and are therefore not to be trusted. My issue is that he’s mainstreaming ideas that, five years ago, would have been considered tinfoil-hat-level crazy. It reached its zenith for me when he started insisting that these popular uprisings for democracy and freedom – ideas I thought the US supported – was actually a signal that the end of the world as described in the Bible is near because those asking for freedom and greater say in the government pray facing Mecca. Yes, ready your survival rations, convert all your money to gold, build a bunker, and pray (in an all-American, judeo-christian way, of course) like your afterlife depends on it because the end of the world is coming! That used to get TV people fired, now it’s all good. A little doomsday theory with your dinner, Ma’am?

So I started to think about what I would need to sustain myself in case of a tea-people revolt, or a ninja attack, or the coming of judeo-christian God into my happy secular world with the intention of kicking my heathen hiney. (Because obviously the thing to do when dealing with something this “out there” is to make a list.) It’s sort of the whole “what would you take with you to a deserted island’ thing on steroids. I’m assuming I have to be alone. Stranger still are the answers I came up with:

  • Astronaut ice cream. Remember that? The stuff you used to get at the Science Museum? Seems like good survival food.
  • Cheese curls.
  • Chocolate. Specifically Cadbury Dairy Milk and Flake bars and Ghirardelli dark chocolate – the darker the better.
  • A wide variety of fruits.
  • The ability to get tri-state area, “good” pizza, and other food delivered.
  • Dunkin’ Donuts coffee on tap.
  • Peach Ramune.
  • Apple cider.
  • Patrón. 😀 (Olé!)
  • As for non-edibles, I’d need a well equipped iPad 2. That’s my books, video games, music, and just about everything else. I’ll assume there’s internet access wherever I’m hiding – hiding while getting pizza and wings delivered and drinking tequila. Sounds like college.

So, in the event the four horsemen of the apocalypse show up, I’m apparently going to spend that last scraps of my life getting in touch with my geekdom. Yes, it’s completely random and makes little sense. That is how I process this nonsense that is taken as granite hard fact by many in this country. A dozen years ago when people started squawking about the world ending in the year 2000, everyone recognized that as a bit nutty and moved on. This guy says it now and people store food reserves. And if you say “Hmm, I think I smell some bullfunky here, then you’re one of ‘them’ – one of those country-destroyers.” The mainstreaming of fear and ideas that used to be the fringiest of the fringe and making people frightened not only of the future, but of a significant portion of the country’s population day in and day out is why I don’t like Glenn Beck.

And the moral of this story? Don’t over-analyze things which every brain cell you have is telling you are bat shit crazy. You’ll come up with something annoying and asinine.

Oh, come on, this post was begging for a picture of someone in a tinfoil hat.





Admirable Women – The Marble Ceiling

1 03 2011

Yeah, I’ll say it – I admire Nancy Pelosi. Yes, the same Nancy Pelosi about 90% of the county despises. Why? Because she has gotten farther than any other female politician has and that takes skill, discipline, and self-confidence – qualities that are good and that I could use more of. She’s the most accomplished woman in US political history and, hated or not, is one of the most effective House Speakers this country has ever had. Granted, she’s not a very good public speaker and when she freezes up in front of microphones, she says some monumentally silly things, but politics isn’t all poetry and the bottom line is that you don’t get to be House Speaker if you’re an idiot. It’s that simple. She might not be a great orator, but she can get the work done and the votes to get things passed. Truthfully, I hadn’t realized just how good she was at her job until John Boehner took over as Speaker of the House and the well-oiled, resolution-passing machine that had been running like clockwork for the past four years turned into a giant clusterschtup factory turning out one contested, rather random piece of legislation after another while completely ignoring the “all jobs, all the time” platform that swept the Republicans into office.

I’m not going to bash Boehner just yet – he’s still new at this – but he certainly didn’t hit the ground running like his predecessor did. She went ages – without having a bill die on her. Whether or not you like her politics isn’t the issue here. It’s organizational skill, leadership ability, and a bit of shrewd political sense. Case in point  – her not pursuing an impeachment of Dubya once she became Speaker. A lot of liberals thought it was a great idea, but she saw the serious flaws in that plan and took it off the table and once it was off the table, it stayed off.  She can keep her caucus organized and can get the votes out which is important to keep things moving. If you strip away all the layers of demagoguery, you find a strong and skilled politician. It may be my recent mad-dash-to-the-left attitude of recent months, but I find myself being one of the two dozen or so people who don’t hate Nancy Pelosi.





Admirable Women – Going Old School

27 02 2011

The life of Catherine the Great (Catherine II), the eighteenth century Russian empress, reads like an opera libretto. Lots of violence and lust, at least one illegitimate child, and grasping for power. That was what politics was in the days of yore. Modern day sex scandals look kind of pathetic in comparison to the lives of the imperial court. Catherine acknowledges having hidden away a child fathered by one of her lovers and puts the paternity of her first son in question as well in her autobiography. Political rivalries were an issue unsurprisingly, but whereas now your political rival will scour the internet until they find a picture of you in college looking drunk and stupid with a really dated hair style or hunt around for a sex tape just in case you didn’t realize that sex + video camera = your career, no matter what it is, being DOA, in imperial Russia the preferred method of killing a rival’s career was to kill the rival and perhaps start a rumor that they died of something really embarrassing. After some of Catherine’s allies killed her husband, her supporters started a rumor that he died of a sever case of hemorrhoids, thus adding insult to forced expiration.

Theatrics aside, the reason I admire Catherine the Great is actually her skills as a politician. Far from being the heir apparent, she was born a German princess named Sophie whose marriage to the prospective tsar, Peter III, was arranged by her family. Once the plans were made she essentially crafted a Russian identity, changing her name, her, religion,and her language while developing a taste for all things Russian not only to ease her assimilation and enable her to make some friends in her new home, but because she knew that, without allies, as soon as she birthed a male heir, she could become expendable and expendable people didn’t live too long. Once she arrived at the Imperial Court, she started to learn the politics of the court. By the time things with her husband had broken down to the point that her life was in danger, she had made enough connections and maintained enough popularity that there was a bloodless coup which installed her into power. Eight days later, her husband was killed by a close friend of hers. It is not known whether or not she was aware of the murder plot, but she certainly gained safety and peace of mind from his death because he couldn’t attempt to seize power from beyond the grave. Her astute political sense and aptitude as a leader allowed her to do what few famous monarchs of the day got the chance to do – die of natural causes. She died of a stroke at the age of 67 after a reign of more than 34 years. She was smart, brutal, effective, ambitious. I wouldn’t have wanted to live in eighteenth century Russia, but as a historical figure, I’m impressed by her story and how she made herself into a world leader in a time when women were viewed by everyone as the “weaker sex”.





Admirable Women – A Random Survey and an Idea

20 02 2011

According to this article, a recent survey of professional women found that 45% of the participants named Hillary Rodham Clinton Most Admired Elected Woman Leader. Sarah Palin was a distant second with 12% followed by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice with 8% and, rounding out the top five, Barbara Boxer and Nancy Pelosi tied with 4% each. 27% of those asked chose someone else. A lot of things bug me about this survey. First off, Most Admired Elected Woman Leader is a rather awkward title and that’s easy to fix. Yes, I know, nothing on this blog is what you might call Pulitzer Prize-winning material – my spelling is not the best and the prose sort of bumbles along – but I’m not getting paid for this either. If their was a paycheck associated with this, let me assure you the Discourse in C# Minor would be a good deal crisper and typo-free. Secondly, The position of Secretary of State is acquired through appointment, not election. Also, more than a quarter of the participants gave other names. listing those may or may not provide greater insight into the kinds of things that women admire in one another. If Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer placed sixth and seventh, that indicates something different than if Benazir Bhutto and Dr. Hanan Ashwari came in sixth and seventh. Only 222 women took part in the survey to begin with. It would’ve been interesting to see the whole list.

The thing with me is, particularly post-job loss, the next thought that pops into my head after I’ve figured out what I don’t like about the way something has been done is how I would’ve done it better. Don’t worry, I’m not going to make anyone take a poll, but I was inspired. I decided to highlight the work of women – not necessarily political women, but definitely powerful women – leading up to International Women’s Day which is March 8th. There are many that I think are admirable and this way I won’t forget Women’s Day all together this year. Women’s Day is a thing for me because we made a big deal out of it at my college and I believe very strongly that all women deserve to be honored whether or not they’ve birthed children. This is the first in that series of posts.

California Representative Jackie Speier took standing up for a woman’s right to choose to a whole other level Thursday night when she told all of  her colleagues is the House of Representatives and the country as a whole that she herself had an abortion due to major complications with a pregnancy. This happened during a debate on the House floor regarding whether the government should continue to fund Planned Parenthood. As restrictions tighten is states across the country and as South Dakota was, until Wednesday, pondering whether the killing of an abortion doctor should be considered a justifiable homicide, this woman stands up in front of the nation and tells her very personal story  in an attempt to stem the GOP’s march back to Gilded Age-style family planning. She has opened herself up to actual danger by doing so. The überwingnut elements of the anti-choice movement don’t play around. Remember the abortion clinic bombings in the 90’s? More recently, in 2009, Dr. George Tiller, a Kansas abortion provider, was killed in his church at the end of Sunday services. To stand up in the face of all that takes a special blend of courage and a conviction to do what she believes is right that not many of us can stand up and say we have, and to do so frankly and strongly. That’s why I admire this woman. If you missed her speech, this is it.





The Third Piece of the H.R. 3 Trilogy

5 02 2011

I figured I should let you know the latest on the case of Republicans vs the English language regarding the word rape. Parts 1 and 2 of the saga are here. According to a Politico article written on Thursday, The GOP has dropped the “forcible rape” language from the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. The same is true for putting an age limit on funding abortions for victims of incest. The following is a quote from that article.

The bill’s authors, including Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), say it’s not their intent to change the way the exemption is applied.

“The language of H.R. 3 was not intended to change existing law regarding taxpayer funding for abortion in cases of rape, nor is it expected that it would do so,” Lipinski told Talking Points Memo in a statement.

Call me cynical, but if this particular section of the bill wasn’t supposed to change the our current law, then why was it even added and why was there an obvious attempt to alter the current standard created and upheld by the Hyde Amendment by coining the term “forcible rape”. Regardless of what the purpose of that section of the bill was, it isn’t there now and I’m glad. I don’t like a lot of other parts of this bill and I don’t like that pursuing a social conservative’s dream agenda has taken priority over improving the economic situation for millions in this country, but maintaining our current definition of rape is a start. Hopefully, it’s a reality check for the House Republicans at the very least.

Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show ran a really good segment on the redefinition of rape the night before Politico reported that it was no longer in the bill and it summed things up pretty well. I’m not sure if that had anything to do with that section being cut, but tit was a good segment. Since it refuses to embed properly, this is a link to the clip. Hopefully, this is the last we hear of the “No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act”. I’m hoping it falls apart before becoming law because, technically, taxpayer money doesn’t go to funding abortions except in the extreme cases dictated in the Hyde Amendment which aren’t being affected and – according to one of people who wrote the bill -never were going to be affected (an explanation I still think is bullfunky) by this new bill. One can only conclude, if they are willing to cut through the sanctimony surrounding the issue of abortion, this whole bill is either a massive waste of time when there are far, far bigger things our congress needs to focus on, or an attempt to limit funds from going to institutions which not only provide abortions – the vast majority of which are not taxpayer-funded and therefore none of the government’s business or anyone less’ for that matter – but also birth control, prenatal care, testing for STD’s, OB/GYN visits, and mammograms. Last time I checked there weren’t large-scale protests about the immorality of low-cost, subsidized STD testing and obstetrical services. I leave you with this picture of silly protest signs because it just seems appropriate.





A Follow-Up on H.R. 3 and My Second and a Half of Congressional Time

2 02 2011

I threw a big fit a few days ago about House Resolution 3 and I have more info now.

Every so often, once in a blue moon, someone listens to the “little people” – in this case, the “little person” typing this right now. I thought this dissection of terms regarding sexual violence in order to score a few political points was so insane that I actually did something I tend to think of as supremely self-righteous, slightly whiny, and kind of pointless – I emailed my congresswoman.

I don’t feel that emailing a government representative is self-righteous, whiny, and pointless because I feel that it somehow isn’t my place as one of the masses – a noble nobody as I have previously described myself. I just think that, with everything that goes on at Capitol Hill and all the work that needs to be done to keep the country running smoothly, I find it hard to believe that my semi-educated thoughts on a particular piece of legislation carries much weight. My congresswoman has more information about what is going on in the House than I do and understands the law better than I do, so I don’t think she really needs me to tell her about a bill. I know enough about her political stand on abortion and women’s issues and her voting record to know she opposes H.R. 3. I’d just like to see somebody in the House say, “Hey, are we actually trying to redefine rape and incest here,” and she seems like she might do so. I sent off a short note from her website’s contact page and was satisfied that I had properly and officially expressed my outrage and been a good citizen too by doing what I had been told I should do by my Social Studies teachers so many years ago. Patriot in C# Minor here. Civic duty accomplished. Done. I knew it wouldn’t be read. Who cares about one unemployed, snowbound, twenty-something blogger, right. Well, apparently somebody in Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro’s office thought it was worthy of a response and I will share it with you.

Dear Discourse in C# Minor, (It has my name on it, but I’m not going to put my politics online while I’m still sending out resumés, so I’m remaining anonymous.)

Thank you for taking the time to contact me.  I appreciate hearing your views on this important issue.

Like you, I oppose the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.  Current law already prohibits federal funds from being used for abortions.  The Hyde amendment has prohibited public funding of abortion in most instances since 1977.  This proposed legislation is an unprecedented overreach that would deny abortion coverage to low-income women, federal employees, and military women and effectively end coverage through private insurance policies.  In addition, it would jeopardize a woman’s ability to access abortion services even in the case where the mother’s life is at risk. This legislation has been referred to the Judiciary Committee, but you can be sure that I will oppose it should it come to the floor for a vote.

Again, thank you for writing.  Please don’t hesitate to contact me on this or any other matter of concern to you in the future.

Sincerely,

Rosa L. DeLauro
Member of Congress

It’s a form letter, I know that, but it was more than I had expected and it’s a sign that it wasn’t immediately deleted like so much junk mail. It also gave me a scrap of information to report. H.R. 3 has been referred to the Judiciary Committee. Good. Maybe they’ll decide that haphazardly trying to differentiate between different instances of the same crime is legally suspect and/or could have an adverse effect on the prosecution of those crimes. If not, I’m hoping there is an almighty fuss raised if it goes to the floor.

And, since not ignoring the “little people” shouldn’t go unnoticed, I hereby award this gold star to the person in Rosa DeLauro’s office who took that second and a half to read my email. It may have been Rep. DeLauro. It was much more than likely a member of her staff. Whoever it was, that star is for them.

There’s another update here.