Archive for the ‘wordpress political blogs’ Category

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Bush’s Departure Reminder

January 16, 2009

Somewhere within all the coverage of the jet diving into the Hudson river, I happened to notice Bush decided to give a farewell speech (something his father didn’t do).  As it turns out, I’m kinda glad he did, ’cause I’d almost forgotten to pick up some beer for the party I’m gonna have in a few days.  I’m sure he’s glad he did it too, ’cause if nothing else, it gave him one last chance to stand up in front of America and make those ridiculous eyebrow-contorting smirks:

bushfunnyface1

from yesterday's video

After this boilerplate performance, I take great comfort in the thought that this was the last display of fumbled phrases and childishly robotic over-enunciation of everyday words.  The last attempt to whitewash his unwise decisions with platitudes about “taking the fight to the terrorists” and head-scratchers like “promoting human liberty, human rights, and human dignity”.   The last Bush speech from behind a podium. 

Finally, it’s over.

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“The Music” Vs. “The Message” (w/poll)

January 9, 2009

Sometimes, the inspiration for threads here in the Chamber come from rather odd places, and this is going to be one of those times.  You see, yesterday, I was hanging out on the showroom floor at the dealership, and I couldn’t help but notice that the background music playing over the speakers was what I used to call “Jesus music” (these days, usually referred to as “Contemporary Christian“).   It was playing all day.

At first, I couldn’t understand why in the heck someone would decide such a thing was appropriate for the environment (considering the fact that any Buddhist, Hindu, Hmong, Jew or Muslim could walk through the door and want to buy a car), but then another thought struck me.  First though, I should say that, during my time in this particular profession, I’ve come to realize that this genre is more popular than I would have expected, based on how many radios are tuned to KTIS when we hop into customer’s cars and run them through the wash.  But I didn’t really take the time to stop and ponder it all until yesterday.  christian-albums

In any case, the thoughts began with something like “What the heck is with this stuff, anyway?”.

I’ve got to wonder if anyone would be rocking out to “Awesome God” if you changed the lyrics to, say, something about beer.  Or women.  Or politics.   Also, is it just me, or do all the male vocalists sound the same?  I mean, I think I could tell that I was listening to CC before I heard the first “savior” or “redeemer” uttered in the song, just based on style.  I dunno, there’s just something about it that gives it away. 

Look, I enjoy all kinds of music.  My MP3 player often skips from reggae, to pop, to classical, to metal, to hip hop when I’m playing it.  I can understand why some people enjoy opera and country, even.  But the vast majority of what I was listening to yesterday was just plain bland and mediocre.

So, I guess I have to assume that our KTIS junkies out there listen to it for the message rather than the quality of the music.  I guess there is that choice.  But I can’t help but think that, at some point, one would have to deduce that what you’re listening to is simply the best material recorded by people who happen to sing about Jesus, and that you’re ignoring the huge selection of tunes out there that are really much better from the perspective of raw musical talent.   So why continue?  Perhaps it could be viewed as a sacrifice of sorts, like some kind of perpetual Lent?   

Anyway…

I had this discussion with my girlfriend, and I was surprised to find out that the lyrics themselves actually effects her taste in music as well.  Then again, maybe I shouldn’t be that shocked, ’cause once I thought about it for a second, I guess I could understand that there would be people out there who can’t get into anything instrumental, no matter what sub-genre.  A sort of a “can’t like it if I can’t sing it” mentality.  And if one is going to sing it, it’d be more entertaining if the subject was something meaningful to them on a personal level, I imagine.   That’s her, and maybe that explains the KTISers as well.

As for me?  I told her that I’m quite the opposite; the song could be about a dog taking a poop on a rug, and as long as it was catchy, I’d probably like it.   It’s definitely more about the rhythm and harmony in my world.  Give me some powerful chords, groovy beats, and impressive solos, and I’m usually diggin’ it.  

So, I have to ask, who’s more weird?

(I suppose there could be a third, less common category: principle.  By that I mean the selection was about the artist him/her/themselves, and not the lyrics or music per se.  For example, you choose to listen to U2 because of the work Bono does, or don’t, based on it.  What happened with the Dixie Chicks might be another example)

-Exit question:  Is there a name for the two schools?  Or should we coin them in this thread?

-Added miscellaneous factoid:  Did you know that they sang “Shout to the Lord” on American Idol last year?  I didn’t think I’d see that, but here it is:

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Dipshits For Franken

January 5, 2009

Well, the long and arduous task of hand-counting nearly 3 million ballots is complete, and it appears that Franken has emerged victorious:

The state Canvassing Board certified final results this afternoon in Minnesota’s marathon U.S. Senate race, but that won’t end the battle between Democrat Al Franken and Republican Norm Coleman, whose Senate term ended on Saturday.

Moments after the board certified that Franken had eked out 225 more votes than Coleman, attorneys for Coleman said they would file a lawsuit within 24 hours.

Of course Coleman will sue, so the drama isn’t quite over yet.  But considering the 400+ vote swing, I’m inclined to take us back to a post I made back in November, before the recount began, where I posed this question:

If Franken does wind up winning, and it’s the dummies that put him over the top, what does that say?

Now, I say dummies, assuming that the majority of the people who weren’t counted by the machines the first time around were my fellow Minnesotans who did something like this on election day:

(I made this up; NOT an actual ballot)

(I made this up; NOT an actual ballot)

Needless to say, part of me wishes that the recount swung the other way, even if I voted for Franken myself. After all, there’s something to be said about an association with people who aren’t bright enough to fill in a little circle on a ballot.  And while there are those who may theorize that “funny business” was at play in the outcome, there were those who predicted from the very beginning that the undervotes would fall in Al’s favor, based on demographics and exit polls (which is a nice way of saying that the elderly and uneducated are more likely to vote for Franken, and are also more likely to screw up their ballots).   Is my reasoning sound?  I’m not certain, and maybe I’m too lazy to dive in and research it down to the last vote cast.  But on the surface, it looks like Franken might owe his victory to a smattering of dipshits, if this was indeed the statistical handful of voters that put him over the top.  

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Coining Blago’s Hairstyle

December 14, 2008

Well, people started talking about it the minute the Illinois governor made headlines last week, so I figured that I might as well give my 2¢.  The topic?  Blagojevich’s hair.  Just what do you call it, Mr. Google

But hairdressers all over America needed little else than to look at his hair — “there’s no name for that,” said Calvin Klein’s hairstylist Roberto Novo. “Ugh” — to gasp in horror.

OK Roberto, I’ll consider that a challenge, and offer up my take.  There was one resemblance that immediately came to mind for me (probably because I’ve lived in Minnesota my whole life):

blagovshelmet

I’m going to call it…the CCM

(please excuse the fact that I reversed the image; I did so for illustrative purposes)

So with that, I pat myself on the back for my moment of brilliance, and open the thread up to general Blago discussion. 

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BTW-  I still can’t pronounce the guy’s name, so “Blago” it shall be.

Update:  I’ve been running into a few more side-by-sides, so I’m going to post them here as I go:

Bla-lego-vich

Bla-lego-vich

(h/t Tex)

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Not Just Another Blackwater Thread

December 7, 2008

Tomorrow, those Blackwater security guards are supposed to surrender to authorities in Utah:

WASHINGTON – Five Blackwater Worldwide security guards indicted in Washington for the 2007 shooting of Iraqi civilians plan to surrender to the federal authorities Monday in Utah, people close to the case said, setting up a court fight over the trial site.

The case already is shaping up to be a series of contentious legal battles before the guards can even go to trial. By surrendering in Utah, the home state of one of the guards, the men could argue the case should be heard in a far more conservative, pro-gun venue than Washington, some 2,000 miles away.

The five guards, all military veterans, were indicted on manslaughter charges Thursday for their roles in a 2007 shooting in Baghdad that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead. A sixth guard reached a plea deal with prosecutors to avoid a mandatory 30-year prison sentence.

Now, I say “just another thread”, because I did have a thread about the incident after it happened last year.  mercsribbon2And in the spirit of the other post,  I’m not sure if I want this one to focus on the incident itself or the legal situation that these five guys find themselves in.  Instead, I think I’m going to use the story as an excuse to revisit the topic that kinda flew under the radar the last time, especially now that we’re a over a year post-surge in Iraq and people are now declaring our victory and everything.  So…

Just how big of an impact have the contractors like Blackwater had on what’s transpired?  Or, asked another way, how large of a component of the “surge” have they been, and how critical to the mission’s success?

It’s a topic that doesn’t get mentioned much, so I’m mentioning it.  The effort has been more privatized than any other in our history, so I think it’s worth examining.  And while the V-I Day proponents claim to honor the sacrifice of American, Iraqi, and other coalition forces, they’re ignoring the tens of thousands of hired guns who were handsomely compensated by the American taxpayer.  How come?  After all, contractors (armed and otherwise) have suffered over 1,000 dead and 10,000 wounded, a rate of approximately one for every four of the U.S. Armed Forces.

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About This “But He Kept Us Safe” Meme…

December 5, 2008

I have to apologize to my fellow members of the WPPBA, ’cause I really haven’t been paying as close of attention to politics as I should as of late.  So, I return to the fray… 

I couldn’t help but notice the recent hubub over the “Bush Legacy Project“.   Interesting, but not unexpected, all things considered.  I suppose the operative word there is “project”.  Hmmm…”project”.   When I think of “projects”, the first thing that comes to mind is one of those assignments that teachers hand out to groups of high school students.  And in the history of “projects”, I imagine that this would go down as one of the tougher ones.   Just think, having to come up with positive things to report on the Bush presidency.  I’d hope those kids would be graded on a curve.

But, hey, someone’s gotta try, right?   So, enter Peggy Noonan, who gives it a shot in today’s WSJ:  ‘At Least Bush Kept Us Safe’

Back to the Christmas gathering. There was no grousing about John McCain, and considerable grousing about the Bush administration, but it was almost always followed by one sentence, and this is more or less what it was: “But he kept us safe.”

Now, I’m not sure who hangs out at Peggy’s Christmas gatherings, but I can’t picture that statement resonating with anyone besides the zombie-eyed Bushbot kool aid overdosers that make up that 20% of Bush’s approval ratings.  Maybe it’s just me.  I guess if you’re that desperate to look at the glass as full even when it’s nearly empty, this kind of notion probably elicits a few head nods in a room full of like-minded individuals.  But the reality is that it’s so hollow that the sound of bullshit splattering actually echoes when shoveled with this sentiment.    Yep.  {{{{{echoes}}}}}  Here’s why…FILES-US-ATTACKS-BUSH

In order to really embrace this idea, one has to commit to a couple intellectually dishonest assumptions.   The primary one, of course, being  the assumption that the whole “keeping us safe” concept didn’t get added to the list of presidential responsibilities until after 9/11 (’cause certainly 9/11 was a far cry from “keeping us safe”).  The subset of that would include the “out of the blue” arguments I’ve heard from Krauthammer and others; as if the president and the entire U.S. intelligence community had never heard of Al Qaeda or bin Laden, and no one had ever thought about counter-terrorism before that day.

Since this one is pretty obvious, the 20 percenters usually follow “he kept us safe” with the qualifier “since 9/11”.   This is a nice segue into the next assumption…

A secondary assumption is that one really understands al Qaeda’s capabilities, motives or intentions.  After 9/11, no doubt many of my fellow Americans believed that AQ’s goal was something along the lines of systematically striking at every major city until we were all dead.  The attacks supposedly (perhaps because of their magnitude) marked the beginning of some onslaught, and we were expecting to be faced with wave after wave of terrorist plots and bombings.  A crisis that only a strong president could do what needed to be done to prevent the imminent Armageddon.   Or something like that…which is supposed to give the weight to the “after 9/11” portion of the meme.

The problem is, this mindset ignores whether real terror threats to domestic targets have actually increased or decreased since 9/11.  But we’re to assume, I guess, that they’ve increased.  As Noonan correctly pointed out, much of that information is kept out of the public view, so we could speculate all day long, but just entertaining the question leads one to ponder the second one:  Has Bush kept us “more safe” than, say, Clinton?  And once you’ve gone there (comparing to other presidents), you’ve effectively watered down “he kept us safe” as a notable accolade. 

Or, it could very well be that we haven’t been attacked since 9/11 because, frankly, they haven’t really tried to.  Maybe they haven’t felt the need to.   To use a hockey metaphor, it’s hard to congratulate the goaltender that lost a 1-0 game, even though he only let in one goal.  Many, including myself, have suggested that 9/11 was less about killing Americans, and more about provoking a response.   Bush certainly gave them a response, and we got a giant, expensive, and deadly mess in Iraq (and occasionally a mocking by the al Qaeda creeps via the internet along the way). 

Anyway, after eight tumultuous years, and where we find ourselves now, its kinda telling that people like Noonan are posting up op-ed’s saying “Hey, at least we weren’t bombed again!”, and presenting it as the primary thing that matters.  It probably sounds good to the aforementioned faithful, but I don’t think it’d help the grade out on the “project”.

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Update:  Meanwhile, over at the discussion-free zone dubbed JammieWearingFool, JWF posts the following:

Say what you want about George W. Bush, but you cannot deny him this. Despite every effort made by the media and the left to undermine his policies designed strictly for this purpose–to keep us free from terrorism post-9/11–he got the job done, and for that he has earned his legacy.

That’s right, not only was Bush doing battle with al Qaeda, he was winning in spite of the plans of the evil media and half of the American citizens.  No doubt, it must be tough for him to keep that cape hidden under his suit.

Anyway, aren’t we counting our chickens before they hatch a bit here?  There’s still 40-something days left in Bush’s term, after all.   But should the unfortunate occur, I have no doubt that voices like JWF’s and Noonan’s Christmas Coctail Team will go moaning on about how much we could really use a Republican taking the oath Jan. 20 instead of Obama (because of those innate national security skills, of course) or blaming the media and/or the left for “undermining” the policies of the wise GWB.

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Brainstorming Alternatives To A Bailout

November 20, 2008

OK, I’ve been holding off on commenting on this for about a week now, as I’ve taken the time to absorb all the arguments from the pundits, pols, and players.  I probably should have posted something up right away, because as a blogger who is in real life employed in the auto industry (and at a GM dealership specifically), the outcome would certainly be something that directly impacts my life (which is not really the case with the debate over Iraq, gay marriage, or the myriad of other things that get debated over the pages of memeorandum).  I’ll state right up front that macroeconomics isn’t exactly my strong suit, but here goes anyway…

The paradigms of the debate, from what I’ve seen, fall into two main categories.  On the one side, you have those who approach the bailout question from the perspective of capitalistic purity and the role of the federal government, and that the whole thing should be endorsed or opposed strictly on principle.  On the other, you have those who chose to ignore all that (intentionally or not), and instead go back and forth over whether a bailout will actually help the situation or hurt it.  For the time being, I’m going to work within the realm of the latter camp.

Also, after a week of seeing this play out on the web, TV, and on the showroom floor, the one thing that strikes me as frustrating about the debate itself is this sort of dichotomy where you have choice A) give the “big 3” billions of dollars, presumably on loan, and B) do nothing, let the giants fend for themselves and/or let them go bankrupt.  

Is there a choice C?  Or, for that matter, a D), E) or F)?   We’ll get to that in a second, but perhaps I should offer a few thoughts on the debate over A) and B) first….

The problem with throwing money at the problem, as I’ve seen argued, is that it does nothing to address the issue at its core.  2003-pontiac-aztekIn short, the Big 3 would still employ the same incompetent management, struggle under the constraints of the same rules of unions, CAFE standards, health-care and pension costs, and ultimately churn out a lot of the same inferior vehicles (at a loss, to boot).    Funneling in more money just delays the inevitable, unless we’re prepared to do what would certainly be untenable, i.e. keep bailing them out indefinitely.  But proponents of the action would argue that the U.S. auto industry is a “special case”, and the adherence to the principles of free market capitalism can be discarded in the interests of the greater good.  We’d presumably do it, and hope for the best.

Of course, that alternative of doing nothing to help, rolling the dice, and letting the free market and bankruptcy legislation do its thing scares the heck out of a lot of people (including myself).  The fear of a disastrous ripple effect through the rest of an economy that is already on life support is what pushed the prospect of a federal bailout into mainstream debate in the first place, and even if people opine on the scope of the repercussions, one might be confident in saying that “bad” would be an understatement.

Given these two choices, one might assume that someone like myself would vote in favor in the interests of my own preservation, and welcome the handout.  But I can’t say that I do, and I say that after looking at the situation from both of the aforementioned paradigms.   So, I feel obliged to come full circle here and wonder aloud if there is an option C), and what that might be.  Specifically, I’m interested in ways Washington can intervene that addresses the dynamics of the underlying problems, but isn’t simply a blank check. 

This is where I kick off the Chamber brainstorm, with the intention of adding to the thread as ideas come to me (or anyone else).  I’ll start it with two words:

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