Half Right

Eenie Meenie Chili Beanie.

Back on January 7th I made this prediction:

Feb. 28 Arizona & Michigan - Romney wins both; everyone else quits.

I guess you could say I was half right and a week off. It will take until next Tuesday for everyone else to quit. Unless, of course, the republican faithful decide that reality politics is more fun than having a chance to actually win the fall election. But I am going with a Romney near sweep next week and everyone but Ron Paul turning out the lights.

UPDATE: My good friend and right-wing advisor tells me that: "Santorum will never quit!" He went on to suggest that the same zealotry that drove the former senator to shoot himself in his Michigan foot with JFK insults and attacks on women, that same devotion to destruction will keep him in the race long after the numbers make the Romney nomination a fact.

Therefore I will slightly modify my prediction: Ahem!

Super Tuesday March 6th: Romney in a near sweep tonight. All reasonable, rational other republican candidates (Ron Paul has already been exempted from this category) but all other such candidates will demonstrate they really do want to win the white house and will withdraw from the race to bolster the chances that their nominee will win in November. 

I should add now that anyone attempting a third party candidacy from the right is: 
a) too late because of draconian state election laws;
b) doing more to hurt the party than staying in the race would;
c) making the summer a hell of a lot more interesting - Go for It!

Now let's turn to what Americans Elect is all about.

Because . . .

This is wrong!

The church says so.

The republicans say so.

Even the bible says so, you can find it in Noah 1:13.

From Japan With Love

Twenty-five million tons of debris from the tsunami in Japan last year is heading for the west coast of the U.S. and Canada. That's 25,000,000 tons or 50,000,000,000 pounds. "Most" of it is not radioactive because the wave action of the tsunami swept most of the debris out to sea before the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors went all Kaboom! Fishing buoys already have washed up on the California coast the first of the flotsam to arrive. Predicting where and when more debris will arrive is difficult because even though 25 million tons is a lot, the pacific ocean is lots and lots more.

Eight Articles of Interest

A far flung smorgasbord of information today. I'll bet even my L.A. friends can find something they will enjoy.

#1 (Goodbye Japan?)
We may yet lose Tokyo. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant continues to discharge radiation into the air and the ocean. Recent (very quiet) announcements suggested that it would take ten years to fully contain the disaster and encapsulate the radiation effects to the plant site.

#2 (Some Facts About Entitlements)
You may already know this but here is a soundly written analysis of just who collects on all the government entitlements. Contrary to all the political rhetoric, the wealthiest members of the U.S. society benefit more from government handouts than do the bottom of the economic pile. Of course the high-end giveaways generally show up as tax breaks and not silly gifts like food, medicine or child care.

#3 (A Real Second Party)
The country is starved for a grown-up debate. This NYTimes Op-Ed slams the republicans pretty hard but I ran it by my favorite right-winger and he said: "Those pinkos at the Times are my arch-enemies but this time they aren't wrong." The piece is called: We Need a Second Party

#4 (Economic Non-Truths)
Three Great Economic Misconceptions from the Motley Fool, which of these statements are true? 

"China is the biggest holder of U.S. debt." 

"The U.S. is oil dependent on the Middle East." 

"Consumers spend most of their money on junk made in China and other Far East countries."

Think you know?

#5 (It Appears We Do Know What We Want)
For those naysayers, fools, idiots and elitists who ask: "What do those people in tents want?" How about an SEC comment letter. Yep, those dirty hippies not only can write, some of them are exceptionally well educated.

#6 (Occupy Reading List)
If you are an Occupy supporter or think you might want to be. Here is an Occupy Book Reading List. It's not perfect but an interesting look at why the Occupy movement started and why it's not going away anytime soon.   

#7 (Your Cat is Making You Crazy)
Not just for cat lovers or even cat haters, but a really profound look at cross-species parasitic transfer leading to behavioral modification. Your pet's bugs may be making you change your behavior. No really! A fun article that will make you think and maybe itch a bit too.

#8 (Who is Voting in the Primaries)

A Blunt but Bias Analysis of who exactly is voting in the presidential primary races.

"There is no other way to put this without resorting to demographic bluntness: the small fraction of Americans who are trying to pick the Republican nominee are old, white, uniformly Christian and unrepresentative of the nation at large."

Unfortunately this article stretches the numbers to make most of it's strangled points. Take for instance this statement: "In Florida, 84 percent of the state’s total registered voters  did not participate in the Republican contest." A shocking number if you didn't know that Florida holds a closed primary, so democrats and independents were not eligible to vote in the republican contest. Only 36% of registered voters in Florida self designate as republican, so factually an honest reporting would have said mentioned that 16% of the potential 36% republican vote turned out; not 16% of 100%.

Conservatism 1964 & 2012

One of my friends made the observation the other day that the 2012 election was not at all like the 1964 election. The '64 campaign led the conservative republican candidate Barry Goldwater to lose in a landslide to Lyndon Johnson. My conservative friend's point was that the values of the right in '64 were very different than those of conservatives today. More of the voters in the republican primaries are responding to these arguments than ever did in '64 and therefore a conservative candidate in 2012 would not suffer the same result that Senator Goldwater did forty-eight years ago.

Here is Barry Goldwater's take on today's brand of conservatism.

Cold, Cold Heart

While I continue to ponder and wallow in the future of this blog, I thought I might offer up a bit more of the reasoning behind this reevaluation. Don't turn away from this insightful and factual article by Kathy Kelly about her pending excursion to Afghanistan. I promise it will make you reconsider your day if not your life whether you are in Florida, Michigan, Brazil or Oz.

Cold, Cold Heart by Kathy Kelly.

"I tried so hard my dear to show that you're my only dream
                                         Yet you're afraid each thing I do is just some evil scheme.
A memory from your lonesome past keeps us so far apart.
Why can't I free your doubtful mind, and melt your cold, cold heart?"

A Question for the Ladies

I mean this question in all seriousness. If you are a woman how can you possibly consider voting for the republicans? They are quite openly attacking you in thought, word and deed. This does not mean I suggest you vote for Barack, that argument will come later; but let's just focus on what the republicans are doing to revive the gender wars.

They really did hold a congressional hearing on contraception to hear only from all male religious leaders, several of whom are celibate. They really have targeted cutting funds from women's clinics because, of course, they might offer advice on birth control. Ditto child care, equal pay provisions and let's not forget the increasing incidence of rape in the military.

Oh right, there is the other half of today's question: If you are a man who lives with, cares for or loves a woman; if you have a sister, aunt, mother, niece or a female friend; how can you possibly consider voting for the republicans who seem to hate these women?
That's some of Matt Bors' cartoon work above. If you haven't found him yet, he may be the Gary Larson of this generation.

Bay Bridge Closure

SUNDAY EVENING 8 PM - The Bay Bridge has reopened 34 hrs ahead of schedule.
Bridge Closure Presidents Day 2012

Guess I'll be spending the weekend in the East Bay.

Information Overload

Yes information overload is real.

Yes we contribute to it by surfing mindlessly from website to website.

I delete dozens of URLs from my history every month, you know all those sites you were going to get to tomorrow. I even found what should have been a great article about info-overload called Gluttony Gone Viral. But it was so completely over the top, my only thought after reading it was - no one has ever written about the overflowing of the internet while delivering such an absurd example of those exact excesses. It still is worth a quick read as a perfect exemplar of what we need to avoid.

Then I ran across another meme for this internet disease - data fog.

Too much of anything, too much of everything; eventually we hear (read) nothing doesn't get lost in the fog. I feel those creeping tendrils everyday. I devise tricks to avoid the seduction of the web. But of most concern for me is my own contribution to the fog - this blog.

I took some time at the end of last year to ponder and rethink what I am doing here - I admit to finding no real solutions and locating no conclusions. I could excise all political content, I know that would make several of my readers very happy. And it's not like there aren't plenty of pundits out there doing exactly what I do. Possible answers:


Apolitical Only??

Complete Abandonment???

Still reflecting, more of something to follow.

Pretty good, not bad, can't complain. Thanks for asking.

Top Six plus One Articles of the Recent Past

"Be careful who sieves your access to information, 
it might be me or it could be Rupert Murdock."

#1 (Dead or Alive?)
I really enjoy having a widely accepted "truth" crushed under the weight of cold, hard facts. Makes my little academic heart go all a-flutter. Have you heard from the population doomsayers that there are more people alive today than there have been on earth since the beginning of humans. True or False? And just how close are the numbers?

                    #2 (On Writing)
I purport here in my late middle age to be a writer. I prefer to be a writer of fiction though here in my blog I tend to hang-out on the other side of the equation, particularly around politics. But I prefer fiction because it is so much easier to convey truth in fiction. Here is an interesting series of observations by some famous authors on the topic of truth disguised as fiction.

#3 (Money & Media)
Here is an opportunity by petition to tell the local media outlets, particularly television stations that they need to be more open about who is buying their advertising time. In this political election year, bought and paid for by secretive Super-PACs, we have to demand that local newspapers, radio and television providers do more to bring shed light on the dirty political game the Supreme Court has given us for now.

#4 (A Compelling Twofer)
I have a wonderful literary friend, Arlene Goldbard. Not only does she write beautifully but she expresses many of my thoughts in clear and forceful prose. I recommend two of her recent pieces. First, I tend to ignore the Obama loyalists because I want them to see the light and leave the two party system but Arlene makes the argument for sticking with him for one more election in her article that begins: "I'm not planning to break up with President Obama, but he is definitely giving me flashbacks to relationship dysfunctionality."

My second recommendation from Arlene's pen might well be the best analysis I have seen on Occupy, activism and the pitfalls of populist movements in our times. For everyone who has sympathy with Occupy Wall Street but with some reservations this is a must read. I don't care what your concerns are or how you articulate your objections; spend five minutes reading this article and then face up to whatever our heart tells you. 

#5 (America's War Machine)
A seering and painful analysis of how the military establishment has manipulated politicians and the American people to support the war in Afghanistan. A war with no real goals and no end in sight. You won't like what you read no matter which side of the terrorism issue you take. 

#6 (Cows & Elephants)
Yes this video is nearly an hour long and yes the graphics are not up to the crisp PowerPoint quality we are all accustomed to, however, you will be blown away by just how many of your current notions on climate, cattle and environmental catastrophe are flat out wrong. It's truly enlightening to see just how entrenched our ideas of truth can be and how easily they can be demolished. Thanks Ron

Art & The Other Guy

How good is your presidential memory?

Really you forgot these two already?

I know, I know - Florida!

Bob Dole and Jack Kemp '96

A one term Bush.

George H.W. beat these guys.

Buried under the Reagan "Landslide"

No reelection for Carter.

No one could have won in the shadow of Nixon.

Now say these out loud, very slowly:

President McCain

President Kerry

President Dole

President Gore

President Dukakis

President Mondale

President Romney

President Gingrich

President Santorum

President Paul

President Bachmann

President Cain

...now go wash your mouth out with something very strong and no spitting.

All the News That's Fit to Slant

I am going to guess that most everyone who comes near this blog knows that the Main Stream Media slant the news. If you don't think that is true or think that only Fox does it but CNN doesn't or vica versa visa flip-flop then I have to question if you are really interesting in a serious debate about what is wrong in America these days.

So what has got me riled up about MSM reporting - well it's Occupy and Fox News. Two weekends ago there was another big dust-up at Occupy Oakland; the police were out of control (408 arrests, only 12 charged), many injuries. Yes, the anarchists were out as well; bottles were thrown etc. It was not a good situation for anyone, but one side has guns, tear gas, batons and no accountability. I was there. OPD attacked a peaceful march lead by several women with their children. A protest march with no violence, no blocking of traffic, no violations of law whatsoever.

The next day I was watching some of the local reporting and the Fox News local anchor said: "One has to wonder why Oakland still has these Occupy protests when the rest of the country has moved on." Call it spin, call it slanting the news or call it what it really is - lying to the public. Fox News wants Occupy to go away, so underreporting the truth about the protests is the Fox way to a "fair and balanced" delivery of their truth.

I actually drafted this post and then thought better of posting it. I mean who doesn't know that Fox and CNN and MSNBC etc. etc. all have their own agendas and are not simply reporting the news and events of the day, particularly when it comes to anything political. We know it and either we reject the MSM or we watch like sheep the programs and reports we blindly agree with.

But then the National Parks police came out in a show of force against the Occupy encampment in Washington D.C. and national Fox News reported: "One of the last dwindling Occupy encampments is being dismantled by the National Parks Service." The report went on to deride the Park Police for waiting so long to remove the illegal encampment and suggested they might be supporters of Occupy which would be a violation of the law in itself.

To be fair, I checked the other major MSM for "news" on the D.C. Occupy camp:

CBS - "one of the last remaining Occupy sites."

NBC - "Occupy DC is part of a larger activist movement that began last year in New York and quickly spread across the country."

ABC - "The D.C. encampment is one of the few camps still standing after the Occupy Wall Street movement began in New York City's Zuccotti Park on Sept. 17."

CNN - read the ABC post above which uses direct quotes from the CNN Wire report, which in itself is interesting because Disney owns ABC but Time-Warner owns CNN.

Should you like to hear the current news about the Occupy Movement slanted from the other side - read this article.

Three Score and Four Years Ago

a perfect photo for today

and a perfect song as well
go ahead click on it
if you haven't got the answer yet

For any comments, please
 indicate precisely what you mean to say.

Upon Giving Up Professional Sports

In celebration of today's National Football League Super Brawl I offer this memoir of my personal disenchantment with professional sports at all levels. I was born and raised in the midwest. I played sports as a kid, not very well until my growth spurt in high school. Then I was All-League in football, an average basketball player and even tossed the shot put my senior year. All of my brothers were football players, each of us lettered in at least two sports every year. We all dutifully followed the Detroit professional sports teams and in the 50s & 60s there were some teams worth following back then: Bobby Layne, Gordie Howe, Al Kaline.

But sometime in the 60s I began to lose interest in professional sports. There were too many other things to follow with real world consequences and then came the escalation of sports salaries that began in the 70s. By then I was watching the Super Bowl only for the commercials and found the glacial pace of baseball to be somnia inducing. By 1975 I was living in L.A. which had the Magic Johnson-Kareem Abdul Jabar Lakers and soon the Wayne Gretsky led L.A. Kings. I hung out at several local taverns with sports connections and got back into following some professional teams but I remember the moment it all ended.

In the 1983 NBA finals the Lakers met the Philadelphia 76ers. Someone scored tickets to game four at the L.A. Forum, it turned out to be the final game of a Philadelphia sweep of the Lakers. The lady I was dating was friends with the Forum's public address announcer who sat court side at the scorer's table and made all the the player introductions and game announcements. We walked down to see him after the game, he was devastated. I had never seen a non-participant in a game that upset over a loss. I'm sure he had a bundle bet on the game but it was after all just a game of basketball and wasn't real, they made it all up to entertain and distract; not to mention to make money. Well paid gladiators and their plutocrat owners.

Periodically I am reminded why I don't follow and don't care about professional sports. The latest reinforcer was this past fall when the NBA player's representative said that in the collective bargaining agreement negotiations the owners were "treating the players like slaves." Yep, slaves! Slaves who make an average of $5.2 million dollars a year.

Nevermind that sports franchises routinely holdup city, county and state governments for huge subsidies to build new stadiums. Studies have shown over decades that professional sports stadiums cost local governments tens of millions of dollars in bond costs and loss revenue while returning to the community income as few as eights days a year in the case of an NFL team.

To be honest, I do have one very positive comment on professional sports - on any given Sunday restaurants, theaters, museums and hiking trails are nearly empty during the "big game." I think a movie for me this afternoon, Go Bears!

More Public Art

McCarran Airport, Las Vegas

London, UK

Invercargill, New Zealand

Oro Valley, Arizona

Seoul, South Korea
'Living Light' is a permanent piece of public art that resembles the map of Seoul. Panels on the installation reveal the real-time air quality of each neighborhood. The artists Soo-in Yang and David Benjamin explain:
"Each night, the neighborhoods light up if their air quality is better today than last year. Every 15 minutes, the map goes dark and then the neighborhoods light up in order of best current air quality."

I'm Just Sayin'

Is it me or are some organizations actually beginning to pay attention? First SOPA and now this, before you know it someone will run for president and not lie every time they open their mouth.

Top Three Articles of the Recent Past

#1 (Bad Health Care Math)

Several famous persons are credited with the quote: "There are three types of lies. Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics." But the problem lies (sorry) not with statistics but with the ignorant or prejudicial use of those numbers. This example comes from the business pages of the Atlantic, usually the home of reasoned and rational discourse. The chief point of the article is that only 5% of the population make up nearly 50% of annual medical costs. 

These 'big spenders' tend to be over 65 years of age and predominantly white, which in itself is shocking in a country that is predominantly white. But when you look at the meager details offered in the article and parse the language properly, here is what they seem to be concluding - The majority of the health care costs in the United States can be directly attributed to expenses associated with the delivery of services to the people who need medical care.

No really, a big Duh! from the Atlantic. Sick people are getting the most medical care in this country. Who would have thunk it?

I am shocked, shocked I say to hear that healing is going on in this hospital.

#2 (Left, Right, Left)

Here's an interesting idea - ask liberals what conservatives get right and ask conservatives what liberals get correct. Here are two articles that tell you a lot more about those responding to the questions than it does about what they believe the "other side" is up to. Conservatives look at Liberals and The Left comments on the Right. What I find most interesting is that everyone I have sent these articles to find themselves a bit chilled by the words of the analysts they usually agree with. Disagreeing with "the other side" is one thing but listening to the emotionless, dispassionate words of "your guys" can be downright frightening.

By the way, if you are of a liberal lean then I strongly suggest you read some or all of the linked articles in the piece where conservatives talk about liberals. These will really give you some solid insight into the conservative mind and will force you to sharpen your critique of those positions or they might convince you that you really aren't right, I mean correct all of the time.

#3 (Magnes Museum)

Ever had that feeling when you read something in the newspaper and you know more than the reporter is telling. It happens to everyone, mass media smoothes out the story and truncates the facts. I had a big dose of this when reading the NYTimes article about the reopening of the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life at UC Berkeley.

"The Magnes was created in 1962 by Seymour Fromer, a Jewish educator, and Rebecca Camhi Fromer, his wife. Its artifacts were deliberately wide-ranging, including not just Jewish ritual objects but manuscripts, music and ephemera." 

You see Rebecca and Seymour were the parents of one of my very best friends. I not only helped her empty out her father's apartment after his passing but I now live in that very space. When I first saw the apartment it was full of ephemera. Books, objects of art of all kinds plus paperwork, notes and documents the archivist at the Magnes was drooling over. We sorted, shredded, cleaned and cataloged for several months. The bookseller came in and we packed nearly 5,000 tomes for distribution to their appropriate new homes. We called this work "treasure hunting" because mixed in with decades old Visa statements and phone bills we would find a handwritten letter from the director of a museum in Jerusalem with notes on a piece Seymour had brought back from his recent visit.

The archivist eventually took thirty boxes of papers back to the Magnes, which just this week has reopened in a newly remodeled space a few blocks from this now remodeled apartment that once housed the overflow of ephemera and life that has become the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life.

A Fine Way to Pick a President

Just to bring you up to date on how the citizens of America Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida have gone about picking a republican to run against the current president.

Total Republican Votes in Iowa  - 123,000
Total Republican Votes in N.H.  - 248,000
Total Republican Votes in S.C.   - 604,000
Votes for just Romney in Florida - 772,000

Mitt Romney 'won' the Florida primary with 46% of the vote. He 'won' with less than a majority but got all the delegates from Florida. He got more votes in Florida than all the votes cast for him in the three previous primaries. He ran some of the foulest ads that anyone has ever seen in political primaries. He still has less than 100 delegates with over 1400 needed to win the nomination, but we are now being told by the talking heads that the race is over.

Florida, New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina - this is how we pick presidents? Why don't we run the nominating process like American Idol and let everyone text their choice? I would have suggested voting them off the island a la Survivor but seeing Santorum with a torch would make it just too easy for the political cartoonists.