Thursday, May 31, 2012

Economic Insanity

Recent polls suggest that on the economy voters are split 50/50 on whether Romney or Obama would be better as president.  Near as I can tell this is a reflection of the greatest con job since PT Barnum or Ponzi himself.

It's part and parcel of a grand con job that started with Reagan and trickle down economics but has spread into the great lie that all taxes are bad.  All taxes retard business activity and dampen economic growth.

This starts with a kernel of truth.  Too much taxation can cause business to move operations or not expand.  However, the kernel does not blossom into all taxes being bad, which is where Romney is.  Furthermore, taking business tax and equating it with income tax is a sleight of hand that only cause concentration of wealth in the hands of a few.  Wealthy income earners are not businesses creating jobs, unless you count their personal servants. 

Jobs are created by businesses.  On the small business side these are often individuals, but their personal income and business income, while tied to one another, are not synonymous.  Money generated by the business can be returned to further investment in the business or to the personal income of the individual.  If the business is so profitable that the individual becomes wealthy, that is, is able to sit on large sums of money, it's in the broader interest of the society that such concentration be spread out.  Taxation encourages that person to put more money into growing the business or into charitable endeavors that benefit the larger population, as both lower the taxes that the individual pays.  If the person decides to do neither and pays the taxes instead, the money is also spread to a wider use.

Frequently the argument from the proponents of concentration of wealth comes down to this: "No one will want to become wealthy if the tax burden is X.  Everyone will want to be poor because all the money is being distributed to the poor."  Here's the thing.  No matter how much money is given to the poor, they're still poor.  That's because money isn't given directly to the poor.  The money is used to provide opportunities, such as education and housing, or to provide staples, such as basic food that WIC provides.  It's not even low middle class level of provisions, though.  No one wants to stay at that level (unless they're fulfilling the Lazy and Stupid Theory).  Most just have no knowledge of how to get out of it. 

Conversely, the taxes that hit the wealthy are on a small percentage of very high income earners.  They still have so much money left over that they can afford luxury goods and still have money to spare in large quantities.  No one is going to want to give that up for some government assistance programs.  That would be an extreme example of the Stupid part of the Lazy and Stupid Theory if it were to happen.

Despite all this, the GOP has managed to sell half the voting population on the idea that its in their interest for the 1% of the wealthiest earners to keep as much of their money as possible so that that 1% can create jobs.  Never mind that money that comes in as income isn't used to create jobs.  If the wealthy have more money to buy more toys, in some mysterious way a job will be created for you, the 99%.  Oh, sure, it probably will be at Wal-Mart as a greeter, but it's a job and you should be kowtowing to the 1% for giving it to you.

Economic insanity.  Doing the same thing (cutting taxes for the wealthy) over and over but expecting different results (less concentration of wealth in the hands of a few).  Ever since Reagan the GOP has been selling this policy and nothing has ever trickled down to the rest.  In fact, the other arm of the GOP plan is to provide even less government services for the rest of us.  The only thing they want to maintain is the military to protect the 1%'s assets around the world. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

All Human Ills

I have a theory.  It's a theory I've espoused for many years.  My wife has occasionaly tried to disabuse me of the flawlessness of the theory, but so far I'm finding there is no flaw.

Here it is.  All human ills that are not caused by natural phenomenon (earthquakes, hurricanes, etc) are due to either laziness, stupidity, or both.  Hell, even some of the ills associated with natural phenomenon fit, such as building a city below sea level in a hurricane prone area.

But try applying the theory to anything that comes across your path personally or in the news.  Somoene shoots someone else over a drug dispute?  Stupid.  Shooting isn't going to resolve the problem, just spiral it further.  It's also lazy because the disputants fail to take other means to resolve their dispute.  Or, more broadly, it's stupid because it's a product of making drugs illegal rather than regulated.

Someone cuts you off in traffic?  Too lazy to look in their mirrors or too stupid to double check.  My favorite, of course, is all the lazy bastards out there who don't use turn signals.  I've posted before about the prevalence of this with luxury car drivers, but it's not limited to them.

So, go ahead and apply the theory to your life.  Laziness and stupidity are the banes of our existence.  Recognition of that is the first step in endeavoring not to be one of the perpetrators.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Traditional Marriage

In the ever ongoing debate about whether gays should be allowed to have marriages recognized by the civil law of the states, much is said on the opposing side about traditional marriage being between one man and one woman.  Sure enough, that's generally been the case in Western history, but how those marriages are viewed historically versus now is very different.

Most marriages in the US are entirely as between a man and a woman deciding to marry one another.  That's a fairly recent change, particularly in the higher classes of society where marriage has been about family alliances and binding ties rather than love and affection.  Considering that the upper classes were the ones who created the laws about such things, it's interesting to note how different the view was.

I've been reading Cervantes's Don Quixote for probably about a year now.  I only read a couple of chapters a week because I'm reading several other things at the same time.  Recently I came across a passage in which Don Quixote was talking about marriage.  Much of the book is about the travails of various couples in love and the impediments to them marrying.  Don Quixote, in his fantasy role of knight errant, is often defending such unions, and yet he declaims the following at length.

"If everyone married the person they love parents would lose their power to marry their children when and to whom they should; and if it were left to daughters to choose their husbands as they pleased, one would pick her father's servant, and another a man she has just seen walking down the street and who she thinks looks jaunty and dashing, even though he is in reality some wild swashbuckler; because love and fancy easily blind the eyes of the understading, which are so necessary when making decisions about settling down in life, and with marriage there is such a danger of making mistakes, and great circumspection and the special help of heaven are needed to make the right choice.  When a pruduent man sets out on a long journey, he first looks for someone trustworthy and agreeable to keep him company.  Well, should not someone setting out on the journey of life, with death as his destination, do the same, particularly since the person he chooses will keep him company in bed, at the table and everywhere else, as a wife does her husband?  The companionship of one's wife is not some article of merchandise that can be returned or bartered or exchanged after it has been pruchased; it is an inseparable appendage that lasts as long as life itself lasts.  It is a noose that once placed around the neck becomes a Gordian knot, never to be undone except by the scythe of death."

Now, Quixote is generally considered to be insane in his actions but entirely rational in his arguments, so far as the other characters and the narrator of the book are concerned, so I take this as a position that the general society of the time found appropriate.

Advocates of traditional marriage, then, ought to be careful of that for which they wish, lest they return to the tradition of parentally chosen marriages and no divorce under any circumstances.  I don't know what heterosexuals in the US would do if they didn't have divorce.  Divorce is a fair recognition that people make mistakes in their decisions and should be able to rectify those mistakes.  You might as well ban bankruptcy as ban divorce.  They're both designed to reorganize and repair mistaken relationships.

Friday, May 25, 2012

A Change for the Worse

No, this isn't some right wing attempt at cleverness about hope and change.

As most who know me are aware, I spend a lot of time at dance related things with my daughter.  Spring is competition season for her studio, so T Unit (as the team is called) has several weekends of naught but competition.  The last one was this past weekend in Towson, which was a lot closer than the one two weeks prior in Huntingtown.

Anyway, dances run the gamut from classical to current pop in the accompanying music.  Unfortunately, when the music is announced with the dance, all too often I get my hopes up that it's a song I like, only to be disappointed.  Who knew there were so many covers of famous songs?

The most disappointing this weekend was Seven Nation Army.  This White Stripes song, probably the band's best known song, is one of my favorites.  But when the song started playing there was no driving drum beat by Meg White or Jack White's powerful vocals.  Instead it was a slower, tamer version sung by some woman whose voice I didn't know.

That was even worse than all the lyrical dance numbers that take already slow songs and use cover versions that make them even slower and more depressing.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Why I'm a Father

Or, I could call it Why I'm a Fater, taking a page from my son, whose Mother's Day card said "Happy Moter's Day".  Made it himself, in case you couldn't tell.  Maybe I'll get the same deleted "h" next month.

Anyway, continuing my theme of exploring my self descriptives, today's choice is why I'm a father.  Of course there's the obvious that I got my wife pregnant, but since that was the goal, and we live a time and place where not getting pregnant is fairly routine, there's more to it than the biology.

I've probably put less thought into becoming a father than I did with the the other things on my descriptions.  Only being a pain in the ass has engendered less thought.  That just comes naturally.

For as long as I can remember I always presumed I'd be a father at some point.  It was more a matter of when than whether.  My father much preferred being around kids to being around adults, appropriate enough for someone in elementary education, but I never had such an affinity for kids.  When I was one I certainly enjoyed it, though like most I wanted more autonomy. 

It certainly hasn't been my experience of kids since I was an adult.  Most kids are irritating to me.  They're too often untrained.  No adult has ever taught them any kind of self control.  They run around in places they shouldn't.  They scream and holler to get their way with weak will parents who bend and break.  Or worse, they ignore what their parents say without consequence. 

I suppose the biological imperative of passing on the genes is a good reason but wanting to have my own kids who don't behave like so many of those I've experienced is a good reason, too.  I think I've been successful at that, too.  Not that my kids are any paragons.  They need frequent reminders of things they should remember on their own.  They need reminding about behavior every now and then, too.   But on the whole they behave in a way I'm happy to say is appropriate for their surroundings, whether informal or formal.  When it's time to play, they're on that.  When it's time to sit quietly, they're able to do that, too.

So there's one of my contributions to society.  Two people who know how to behave appropriately and civilly in society.  Yea me.  Now if I can get them out of school and into jobs, we'll be all set.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Weak Faith

What would I do without The Sun to provide fodder for this blog?  Here's the latest:,0,1078517.story

There's so much to savor here, it's hard to know where to start.  I guess I'll go with the obvious chortling with glee that Mike McManus displays in this column in which he opines that President Obama's statement that gay marriage ought to be recognized civilly is guaranteeing that he'll be a one term President.  You'd never know it from the print version but the on-line version says this guy's a pastor.  He's definitely not one of the forgiveness kind.

Then there's the name of his group - Marriage Savers.  Being a single issue group, it's clear he and his believe that keeping gay people from marrying is necessary to save heterosexual marriage.  For the life of me I can't see how that's going to happen.  Gay people have never been able to legally marry until recently, yet the marriages of straight people have been failing for millenia.  I don't mean failing in terms of divorce.  The increase in that rate is about a half century or so of event.  I mean that marriages throughout history have largely been a failure by the standard of a partnership.  Most often it was a one way street in which the female was subservient to the male.  That's not a successful marriage.  That's just bondage.

What strikes me most about this column is how weak is the faith of opponents to gay marriage.  The premise of their opposition is basd on a conflation of two different things.  Their opposition is based on religious faith that says a marriage recognized by their religion is between one man and one woman.  Ok, fine.  That has nothing to do with civil marriage.  A government recognition of marriage serves two purposes.  One, it promotes stability in relationships, thus stability in home situations in raising children.  (This is theory, not reality.  Reality is that many marriages are unstable and promote dysfunctional children.)  Two, civil marriage provides benefits to partners (and children).  Tax benefits, legal status in home ownership, legal power to make decisions relating to one another, and inheritance and insurance benefits accrue from civil marriage.  Civil marriage has nothing to do with religious faith.

As it stands, gay people can already get married in religious ceremonies.  Unitarian Universalist churches, for one, will marry gay couples.  No one from another faith is required to recognize those marriages.  Similarly, civil marriages are not required to be recognized by churches.  All churches have to do is provide equal benefits to their employees, but nothing requires that a church hire a gay employee in the first place.  Churches, and Congress, are in the unique position of being protected in being as discriminatory in hiring as they want to be. 

Further bolstering my view that opponents to gay marriage are weak on their own faith, McManus, writing about the successful killing of legalized gay marriage in California, quotes a TV add run during that election.  The ad said "Children in public schools will have to be taught that same-sex marriage is just as good as traditional marriage."  This was apparently the lynchpin in the success of the drive to kill gay marriage. 

Ironically, it sums up what's wrong with the opposition and their blindness to the flaws in their position.  Why would it be a bad thing to teach children that civil marriage is civil marriage, regardless of whether it's between a man and a woman or two people of the same gender?  Without meaning to, McManus is saying he is in favor of segregation.  Marriage is a good thing but we're only going to allow some people to get married.  If you're gay, you are segregated from this institution.  Get to the back of the bus and ride your civil union.  Or no union at all.

It's all so pointless to me.  Opponents of gay marriage can't keep gay people from having sex or living together (Bowers v Hardwick having been overturned).  So what's the point in segregating gay people?  They're still going to engage in the behavior you abhor.  All you're doing is keeping them from enjoying legal rights that any other couple composed of opposite sexes can enjoy.  Or not enjoy, as there are plenty of heterosexual couples who decide not to marry, voluntarily foregoing the legal benefits.  But that's their choice.  Why deny gays the same choice?  Even more pointlessly, in the end, no matter how many of these efforts McManus and his allies overturn, in the long run gay marriage will be recognized.  Younger people don't have the issues he has with gay marriage.  In 20 years, as older voters overwhelmingly opposed to gay marriage die off, there will be gay marriage throughout the land, no matter the losses now.

And as a final note, not really germane to the main point, I'll point out that the religious premise of one man/one woman as the basis of traditional, biblical marriage is bunk, too.  There was polygamy in the early days of the Bible's writings.  What about that tradition?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Maryland Special Session

This almost falls into the category of Why I'm a Democrat, but not quite.

My disorderly party, frequently know for fights among its own members, showed again why it is often its own worst enemy when the Democrat controlled Senate and House of Delegates in Maryland failed to pass a budget by the end of the regular 90 day session.  It's one of the reasons I'm amused when the Maryland GOP decries the control Democrats have over the legislature and executive in Maryland, bemoaning one party rule.  There's no unanimity among Democrats, so there's never any danger of one party hegemony.  Of course, the other amusing aspect of the Maryland GOP's lament is that they don't have a similar concern about one party rule in, say, Alabama, Mississippi or Texas.

Anyway, here's The Sun article on the results of the sesssion.,0,2008676.story

I couldn't find the article from the previous day that broke out by Maryland county where the tax increase would effect people.   This tax in crease is only on the top 14% of incomes in the state, so 86% of Maryland residents are facing no tax increase at all.  Of the 14%, the increase will range from 1/4% to 3/4% over the current taxes.  So, for all the GOP cries of economic collapse from this increase, we're talking miniscule sums to these particular high income earners.  On average it'll be a few hundred dollars for each of these households. 

This is a far more fair tax than the 1% increase in sales tax that was the last effort to balance the budget.  That's a regressive tax that disproportionately falls on the lower income earners.  As a percentage of income, it's a far larger hit to the poor than these few hundred dollars is to the high earners.

Now, the item that's something of a point of pride for me as a Democrat is who voted for this.  Aside from a few dissenters in Montgomery County, the Democrats who passed this are passing this as a hit on themselves and their constituents.  Of the 14% of all Marylanders looking at a tax increase, 75% of them live in Montgomery, Howard, Anne Arundel, and Baltimore Counties.  They and Prince George's County are the core of the Democratic voting block that conrols the legislature.  Almost all of the Republican controlled counties, where opposition lies strongest to this tax increase, each have less than 2% of the population that will face this tax increase.

Democrats should be standing up and saying, look, we did what had to be done to balance the budget and retain the spending priorities important to Maryland voters.  We did it and we paid for it with a tax increase on our own, not the voters who dissent from responsible governance.  Democrats need to sell responsible governance as a give and take.  Responsible governance is compromise.  This is a prime example.

They should be embarrassed that they had to call a special session to do it, but when they met in that session they did it right and did it promptly.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Point Man for Maryland Racists

Del. Pat McDonough of Baltimore and Harford Counties always reminds me why I'm glad I live on the west side of Baltimore County.  Our pols are far from perfect, but at least they're not demagogues pandering to the worst fears of constituents.

McDonough is best known for his incessant attacks on Hispanics.  He calls them attacks on illegal immigrants, but his discernment of who's legal and who's not is something he's spent no time honing.  All Hispanics are illegals, so far as he's concerned.  Of course he's spearheaded the crusae to repeal Maryland's effort to make the children of illegals full citizens with strong educations and a likelihood of being productive members of society.  Wouldn't want that.  Better to send them all home.  Of course, you can never catch them all to send home, so that means you just create a sub strata of society that has no chance of advancing on the economic ladder.  Unless they're Cuban, of course.

But McDonough's usual racist attacks on Hispanics isn't today's subject.  No, our hero took the opportunity of the last day of the legislature's specials session to call for martial law in Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

Here's a quote from The Sun about the "news release" McDonough put out.  The title of the release is just so subtle. "'Black Youth Mobs Terrorize Baltimore on Holidays.' In it, McDonough said he had sent a letter to Gov. Martin O'Malley urging him to use the state police to help prevent attacks and to declare the Inner Harbor area a "no-travel zone" until safety can be guaranteed."

Let's just think about the stupidity here.  The solution to a few incidents of youths causing fights is to shut down the businesses at the Inner Harbor, and barring that, to scare as many people away from patronizing those businesses as possible.  How's that helping the city? 

Keep in mind that no one has been killed in any of these incidents.  In fact, no one has been seriously injured, viral video of one guy being knocked down, robbed, and stripped naked notwithstanding.  That guy was so drunk he didn't even remember the incident or report it to the police until the next day.

Now, there's no question the police need to be on the scene in large force whenever these incidents occur.  Plentiful arrests of these bands of bozos, who appear to think they're just engaging in some fun, will put an end to it quickly enough.

The real issue isn't misbehaving youths.  The issue is that McDonough feels it's necessary to point out the ethnicity of the youths.  Quoting The Sun again, "McDonough refused to back down, saying he had heard from police that the crowds involved in several recent incidents were all black. Failing to mention the race of the participants, he said, would be 'political correctness on steroids.'"

McDonough, of course, has no first hand knowledge of the ethnicity of the youths and cites no specific person with such knowledge.  He's citing the grapevine.  There's a persuasive source. 

Then there's what he calls "political correctness".  This remains one of my favorite bullshit terms the loons on the right use.  It's so broadly used as to be almost meaningless, but it boils down to a label for anyone who doesn't agree with them and points out the utter baselessness of their assertions.

For instance, what relevance does ethnicity have?  Is McDonough saying that everyone should be forewarned to run away from black people?  It certainly seems that's the only possible relevance.  So, if you run across an NAACP meeting, make sure to run and hide, lest the distinguished members suddenly turn into a violent mob and attack you.  Even if his warning is limited to black youth, I'd have to say he and his adherents avoid Ravens games.  Most of the team is black.  They're young.  They might go charging into the stands to assault people at random.

I would hope the voters of eastern Baltimore County and Harford County would have enough of this idiot and his blatant racism, but he's been there a long time, so I doubt it.  Still, there are more and more black and Hispanic voters living in that area, so his day will come in time.  More power to them.  I'll stay in western Baltimore County, home of the sane.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Animal Rights Blindness

I think I've mentioned on other posts that I catch the Ellen Degeners show on Mondays because my daughter likes it and has it on when I'm working out.  Well, as long as she has her homework done.  I've also mentioned some of the goofy things that come out of the show, and Ellen in particular.  Recently, there was another.

Ellen was quite upset that people in areas hit by disaster weren't allowed to bring their dogs to the shelters.  This is a travesty, I guess, because people and their "animal companions" should not have to be separated in such trying times. 

As though everyone can be around dogs.  Cats, for that matter.  There are plenty of people with allergies to the animals and still others who just are afraid or uncomfortable with them.  On top of that, from what I've seen of how people don't train their pets, there's not a chance in hell I'd want to be in a shelter where people are allowed to bring their pets.  It'd be bad enough if I had to put up with their untrained kids.  No need to inflict dogs and cats on me too.

There's a lot of this sort of thing with the animal rights crowd.  They believe that animals are equivalent to humans.  They have the same worth so they should be treated equally.  They can believe that if they like, but there's no way you can convince me a cat or dog is equivalent to a human.  You might have some luck with higher primates, sea mammals, and maybe even crows and ravens, but pets?  Nah.  They may be lovable, but that doesn't make them the same as humans.  Inanimate objects can be lovable.  They're not the same as humans, either.

Seems to me the solution for this is that the animal rights crowd goes into disaster areas and provides shelters for pets somewhere near where the people shelters are.  Then the owners can spend time with the pets while not causing problems for the humans who are their actual equals. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Irrational Behavior and Healthcare

Can someone explain to me the philosophical opposition that the GOP has to the Obama healthcare plan?  I don't mean political opposition to the plan.  That I get.  Anything Democrats favor, the GOP oppposes.  That wasn't always the way of things in Congress, but that's the way it is now.

What I mean is, what's the philosophy to the opposition?  For instance, the GOP is philosophically in favor of banning gay marriage because it believes that government has an interest in recognizing only a marriage between one man and one woman.  I can argue the validity of that position, but it is a philosophy.

There doesn't seem to be any philosophy underpinning the opposition to the healthcare plan.  The arguments have been based on states' rights, a long dead doctrine resolved once by the Civil War and again by Brown v Board of Education and its progeny, or that there's a violation of individual rights in requiring the purchase of health insurance.

This Supreme Court, which can't even read the one sentence Second Amendment accurately, may well be dumb enough to revive states' rights, but that's still not a philosphical opposition to the plan itself.  If the plan were changed to be universal, government administered healthcare paid for by a tax, the states' rights argument would die on the vine but the opposition would not.  As a tax paid program it would be no different from any other government plan, such as agricultural subsidies, defense spending, or WIC.  Yet the GOP remains adamantly opposed to providing healthcare to as many Americans as possible, operating in some sort of logical bubble that separates the availability of medical providers from the expense of paying for them.

The opposition based on the requirement of individual purchase of coverage is not a philosophical objection, either.  It's convenience.  The GOP doesn't oppose mandatory auto insurance.  For that matter it doesn't oppose requiring fees to register vehicles or to obtain a driver's license.  These are all required purchases.  Again, the current Supreme Court is dumb enough, and ideological enough, to buy this argument, but it's still not a philosophy. 

Why does the GOP oppose Americans having healthcare available and paid for in a sustainable manner?  (Not that this plan is necessarily either, but it's an attempt, and none of the opposition to it is couched in any failure it may be in that attempt.)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Romney's Character Problem

The recent stories in the Washington Post about Mitt Romney being a high school bully reinforce a character problem that the GOP "base" recognized throughout the primary campaign.

Here's the skinny on the Post story.  Five people, four of them willing to speak with attribution, state that Mitt Romney ran down and pinned a boy who had long hair and behaved effeminately.  He then cut the boy's hair while the boy screamed for him to get off.  He is also claimed to have said "Atta girl" to another non-conformist boy.

In response, Romney said he didn't remember the incidents.

Now, that means one of two things.   Either he's lying about remembering the incidents or he engaged in harrassment of other students so often that he doesn't recall these particular instances.  Neither is speaking well of his character.

But the GOP "base" knew this about him four years ago and has continued to recognize it.  They overwhelmingly want to vote for someone else.  Sure, he says all the things he thinks they want to hear, but they know he was governor of Massachusetts and know his record there.  He was considerably more centrist to left then, committing the cardinal sin of proposing and implementing a healthcare plan that is remarkably similar to the Obama plan he now opposes.  Semantics and dodges haven't fooled the GOP "base".  This is a guy who will say what he has to be elected, with little chance that he actually believes what he's saying.

So now Romney has not only the longstanding distrust of the "base", he has shown that he's either a liar or someone who goes along with a crowd and persecutes the outsiders.  The latter might play well with the "base", who are all about conformity to their norms, but it's not going to play well to the vast majority of voters.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Best Game Ever

I was originally going to post on Mitt Romney's big problem today but I'm pushing that off a day because something more important happened on Mother's Day.

Manchester United failed to capture yet another English Premier League title.  Boo-hoo.  I'm a consistent anti-Man U man when it comes to EPL.  Rooting for Man U is like rooting for the Yankees.  Of course, rooting for Manchester City, who did win the title, is like rooting for the Red Sox, but that's better than the Yankees.

Here's the final standings for the league:

But the game that won it.  Oh, the game that won it.  Man U played Sunderland at the same time Man City played Queens Park Rangers.  Man U won its game 1-0.  By that point City was down 2-1 to QPR.  The game started the scoring with City up 1-0 after the first half, but QPR scored on a terrible header by a City defender that gave the QPR striker a wide open shot at the net.  A tie would be a win for Man U, so City had to score again to win the title.

QPR's Joey Barton did his best to help City, too.  He threw an elbow and Carlos Tevez and was tossed with a red card, then kneed Tevez in the back as he was leaving the field.  City was pumped after that and kept the pressure on, but it was QPR, who were fighting not to be relegated, who took advantage.  QPR scored a second goal while short haned.

By the 90th minute it remained 2-1 QPR with 5 minutes of stoppage time to be played.  And that's when City came alive.  Unbelievably City scored 2 goals in the stoppage time.  The second came with time nearly out altogether.

I'm an Arsenal fan (finished third), but it was nice to see City win the title for the first time in 44 years.  It was even nicer to see Man U not win the title, made all the sweeter by their expectation that they had it in the bag with their 1-0 win and City being down 2-1 at the end of 90.  It was a hell of a finish.  And, as a bonus, QPR didn't get relegated even though they lost.  I love that team's name.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Double Standard

Many times over the years I've heard the lamentations of the right that the "liberal media" has a double standard when it comes to political peccadilloes.  Allegedly the media doesn't pursue Democrats who have affairs while persuing Republicans with zeal for doing the same thing.

That's not really accurate, as the case of what's-his-name, the NY Congressman who sent sexually provocative pictures of himself to a woman, shows.  He was hounded out of office with gusto, and rightfully so for someone engaging in sexual harrassment.  Anthony Weiner.  That was the guy's humorously appropriate name.

But let's, arguendo, presume it to be true.  There's a good reason why the affairs of Democrats and the affairs of Republicans are viewed differently.  While Democrats adhere to a social agenda of tolerance Republicans maintain a line of condemnation for social behavior that doesn't conform with the "ideal" of a married man and woman with 2.5 children (more if you're really being fruitful and multiplying).  No gay marriage.  No polygamous marriage.  No men and women living together without being married.  In fact, no pre-marital sex.

Democrats don't condemn any of that stuff.  They're not necessarily in favor of it.  Polygamous marriage, for one, hasn't much support.  But Democrats don't condemn it.

So when a politician has an affair, and especially if he has a gay affair, but he's a member of a political party that generates a lot of political capital condemning that sort of thing, it's not only to be expected that media organizations would make a big deal about it.  A Democrat, who hasn't condemned that, isn't nearly as much of a story.  He's not being hypocritical. 

Look, it's like this.  If a Democrat is big on the environmental protection agenda but is riding around in a low fuel efficiency SUV, then the media's going to be all over that.  I've seen it more than a few times.  But a Republican who's not an environmentalist has no such problems.  It's the same kind of thing with sex.  If you're going to tout a line of sexual intolerance, don't be surprised when you're hoist on a petard for engaging in the same behavior you condemned.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Dazed and Patriotic

On the trip to Disney last month we picked up a rock station in SC.  It was the usual classic rock kind of station in its play list but was quite different from what I'm used to in the Mid-Atlantic where I live.

SC is heavily dependent on federal government spending, as are many of the most anti-federal government states.  Among that spending that keeps SC afloat is a lot of military spending, so much so that the state has a web site listing them and hotels nearby.

That makes for a strange targeting in a rock radio station.  I know rock long ago became a corporate operation, but a pro-military operation?  This station all but played the national anthem at each commercial break.  Kind of funny, considering how many early rock, and especially classic rock, songs are anti-war anthems.

Then again, our local classic rock station in Baltimore has been getting more Know Nothing in its orientation.  Some of that is the ads of Fox45, the Sinclair Broadcasting Know Nothing pandering station, but its also sympathetic interviews with the Fox45 anchors and comments by the morning guy. 

So much for rock and roll rebellion.  More like rock and roll reactionary.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Tequila Advertising

I don't know why but there's been an increase in the number of tequila ads on channels I watch.  Probably it's mostly ESPN, but some other networks, too. 

To take a page from the Michael Imperioli ads, what's with these things?  In particular, in recent days I've seen one for Avion Tequila that is a head scratcher.

I'm no connoisseur of tequila, so I have no idea of the relative quality of these various drinks, but this Avion ad certainly makes me think it'd be among the last I'd try.

The theme of the ad is bondage.  Straight up.  A guy is tied up by a woman in sexy black leather.  He's teased with some of the tequila and then it's fade to black.  Damned if I can figure out the message there.  Avoid this drink at all costs?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Ah, the perils of the personalized lisence plate.  Your meaning, while clear to you, may not be clear to your fellow motorists.

Several times of late I have seen a large, older model Cadillac with a personalized tag reading "I AM HZ".  I never get a glance at the driver to see if it's a male or female, but this statement has at least three interpretations I can think of off the top of my head.  Four, even.

First, its the showy proclamation of faith.  The person is owned by his or her deity, presumably the Judeo-Christian one.

Second, the tag is the voice of the car, proclaiming the ownership of the driver.

Third, the driver is a woman proclaiming possession of her husband/significant other.

Then a fourth occurred to me.  Maybe someone has an electric personality and is proud of it.  Or is part of a large rental car company.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Why I'm a Husband

Continuing on the theme of exploring my self descriptives on this post, I'll hit one that should be one and done.  But you never know.  I may re-visit it at times.

A husband is half of a legal coupling of two people.  Marriage is unique in American culture in that it is both a civil and religious institution.  I care nothing about the religious institution.  See my post(s) on Why I'm an Atheist for a better picture on that.  What I'm talking about is the civil institution of husband.

The legal status of husband means I share things with my wife.  Not relationship things.  Legal things.  Home ownership has a special status for married people.  There's greater protection against seizure than than there is for one person or groups of people not married owning real property.  If I get into a pile of debt, my home is protected because my wife's interest in the home can't be severed from mine and the home can't be sold to pay my debts.  I have priority in making legal decisions for my wife.  I'm presupposed to be the father of my children.  I have inheritance priority should my wife die.  I have a strong position to challenge a will she might have that leaves me nothing.  Same goes for her if any of these things are reversed.  It's a co-equal position with no superiorty of one to the other. 

That's why couples, gay or straight, who aren't married are more vulnerable, legally.  Like most people I joke about society letting gays get married because they should enjoy divorce just like straight couples, but divorce isn't why people get married (other than a few particularly mercenary people, I suppose). 

I love my wife and would live with her even were she not my wife.  In fact, there's no reason for me to get married just to live with her and have children.  I can't do that without any state involvement at all.  But involving the state in our relationship by getting married provides far too many benefits to ignore.  The only detriment is the cumbersome nature of divorce that makes it difficult to leave quickly, in the legal sense, from the relationship.  But it's not in the state's interest to make it easy for me to leave quickly.  Stability is promoted.  And the steps needed to get divorced aren't that difficult that a person who really wants out can't get out.  Hell, at this point there's no reason needed for a divorce.  It's just a matter of filing paperwork.

Society certainly doesn't want divorce to be like it is in sharia countries where a man can simply say "I divorce you" three times to be divorced from his wife.  First, it's one sided because a wife can't do the same.  Second, it promotes instability because the divorced woman is left with no recourse or resource.  She's just left hanging unless she has her own means of income or familial support.  Considering the economic status of most women in sharia countries, chances are slim the wife has any kind of resources.

So I'm a husband because I love my wife and want to see her having all the rights to property we've jointly acquired in our lives.  We've been a couple almost 25 years and married almost 20 years, so it's working out pretty well so far.  The relationship parts we've worked on over the years are things we would have had to work on regardless of being married.  But the legal status of being married did help us put time into the relationship, too.  Rash decisions are less likely when there's a legal binding of two people.  Well, two people who stop to think about those kinds of things.  Both of us having gone to law school, we do tend to think of those sorts of things.

Monday, May 7, 2012

It's all Evil

At least that's what you'd think if you listen to what passes for conservatism in the US now. If it wasn't written by Antonin Scalia, anything that comes out of the federal government is evil.

Affordable health care? Evil. It's a socialist plot to take away...something. I'm not clear what. Individuals still choose their doctors. Private health insurance companies are the cornerstone of the plan, so they're not being eliminated. People who don't pay for health insurance now are required to pay into the system. Got me how that's different from a tax. Of course, there's the more recent hype that employers are forced to pay for health care to which they have a moral objection. Naturally, the objections are only about women's health care and reporductive choices. Nothing about a moral objection for men's erections or smokers. It's a very selective moral objection that targets only women.

Gay marriage? Evil. The Bible says so. Never mind that gay marriage is only binding on civil authorities, not religious ones. Never mind that gay couples are deprived of privileges extended to hetorsexual married couples. Equal Protection Clause? Commity Clause? Avert your eyes. Those parts of the Constitution are superseded by the Bible.

Taxes? Evil. All of them. Today's conservatives haven't met a tax they didn't oppose. They've completely missed that their messiah, Ronald Reagan, not only didn't oppose all taxes, he actually imposed some. Of course, for this lot, the greatest good can only be achieved by concentrating wealth in the hands of a few. Why, we all have a chance of becoming the few (despite the logical fallacy that relies upon). Don't take money from the 1% because you might be in that 1% someday. Right. All 99% of us will someday have our 5 minutes as the 1%. Not how it works. Taxes help us all. That's what they're for.

Obama? Greatest evil ever to befall the United States. He consipires against each and every American personally in his ongoing mission as a communist/fascist/socialist/radical Muslim. He's spying on you right now. Yes, you reading this at this very moment. Obama is watching over your shoulder. Quick, turn and look. You might just catch him. But maybe you better not. If he knows you've seen him he'll take away... Well, it's your paranoid imagination. You fill in what you think he'll take away.

The sad fact is, the GOP, as controlled by a small, radical element that calls itself conservative, doesn't appear to be for anything, with the sole exception of concentrating wealth in the hands of a few. Everything else is only about demonizing what others favor, even when it's something the GOP used to favor (yes, I'm talking about you, Mitt Romney).

Despite the sound and fury of this movement on the outside, and the daily support of Faux News, this is a recipe for marignalization. It's not just that demographics support Democrats. This agenda of paranoia and anger is bound to turn off the largely white independent voters that are necessary for a candidate to win as President. While gerrymandered Congressional districts will continue to give the GOP a voice in the House, in the end this tack is going to lead to a weak GOP, and that's bad for the US. An opposition needs to have ideas for governance. You can't govern if your core belief is that government is evil. All you're advocating is the dismantling of the government, also known as anarchy (oddly contradicted by an advocacy for unlimited defense spending, a recipe for eventual military coup if ever there was one), voters are not going to flock to your banner.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Holier than Thou

There have been times when I enjoyed reading or hearing George Will.  A column about his older son, who has Down's Syndrome, reaching 40, should be one of his more enjoyable columns.  Like his love for baseball, his love for his son is a feel good kind of area.  But instead, Will uses it as a cudgel in the two pronged war of right to life and Baby Boomer (and all their descendants) decadence.  See for yourself.

He starts setting my teeth on edge when he calls fetuses pre-born babies.  There's no such thing.  As a purveyor of English language in its most coherent and artistic forms, Will knows better, too.  There are sperm.  There are eggs.  There are spermatazoa.  There are fetuses in various stages of development.  After birth, there are babies.  There are no babies prior to birth.  Born is an essential element of the meaning of the word baby.  Sadly, the right to life movement has so corrupted the language that baby is sometimes defined as synonymous with fetus. 

[bey-bee]  noun, plural ba·bies, adjective, verb, ba·bied, ba·by·ing.
1. an infant or very young child.
2. a newborn or very young animal.
3. the youngest member of a family, group, etc.
4. an immature or childish person.
5. a human fetus.
Of course, you'll notice that fetus is the last listed because of its recent use, but until the last couple decades this meaning didn't exist.  Nor should it.  If a baby and the fetus were the same, Will wouldn't have to resort to the verbal shenanigans of calling them pre-born babies. 
It's that kind of thing that really irks me about the pro-life movement.  There's entirely too much reliance on PR, portraying collections of cells as though they were the same as a born human.  They're certainly not the same at conception.  They certainly do develop toward that over time.  Have an honest discussion about that and whether or where abortion should be permitted, keeping in mind that there's always a fully born human who has to risk life and health to carry that fetus and who may not feel that sacrificing her life is a fair trade, whether literally a sacrifice or figuratively.
Back to Will.  He moves from there to condemning anyone born from 1946-1960 as being shallow and vain.  He laments that pre-natal screening is used to abort 90% of fetuses determined to have Down's Syndrome.
Well, first off, almost all of those making that choice wouldn't be Baby Boomers, who are largely beyond child bearing years now.  Of course, it's still their fault because they engender the culture that allows that.
Which is a odd thing to me, too.  Will is a big proponent of the free market system and individual choice, yet wants to keep women, or couples for that matter, from making a choice about whether to move a collection of cells from that stage to birth as a human, knowing the cells have Down's Syndrome.  As he says, Down's is in every cell.  It's not like it's hard to detect early now.
Granted, people with Down's Syndrome are usually very functional in society.  They require assistance but are not bedridden or immobilized and in need of 24 hour care.  Many can work and live on their own.  But where does it stop in telling people they have to birth fetuses that are not entirely healthy?  Say a fetus is tested and determined to have a genetic malfunction that deprives it of developing a brain.  Such a thing does exist.   Do we force the parents to carry that fetus to term?  Do we force them to pay for its care until it dies?  Do we force the rest of society to pay for its care until it dies?
It's very much a high and holy perch from which Will is condescending, and he's surrounded by a moat of hypocrisy.  He's very well off and has been for most if not all of his son's life.  It's no problem for him to spend whatever extra funds are needed to care for his son.  Furthermore, he works a job as a purveyor of opinion.  It's not like he's locked into a work day the way most of us are.  He can take the time to raise his son or spend time with his son or whatever else he needs to do to help his son that is a luxury to the rest of us.  It's hard enough for me and my wife to care for our 13 and 10 year old children who are quite intelligent and independent.  They still need oversight and rearing that consumes a lot of time.  And we both work in jobs that have some flexibility.
To my mind George Will took the occasion of his son reaching 40 years not to celebrate his son's life but to condemn others and their choices.  That's the antithesis of how he describes his son who, like many with Down's, is kind and non-judgmental.  Maybe Will should spend more time with his son to learn some of the human kindness he so celebrates as defining characteristics of his son.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Sometimes I write ahead and post at a later date but right now I'm working on the posts daily.  It keeps me more current with what I'm writing.  On the other hand, I make notes for myself when something strikes me that I might want to write about, and those notes can be from quite a while ago.

This one for instance.  Someone in Carroll County, Maryland should have their head examined.  Well, probably lots of people in Carroll County, but specifically whoever is in charge of the roads.  I drive into Carroll on Deer Park Rd quite often because it's the shortest, least congested way from my house to my daughter's dance studio.  She has classes daily weekdays, plus competition team practice on weekends.  My wife takes her about half the time and I have the other half. 

Anyway, Deer Park Rd intersects Rte 91, where I turn right to get to the studio.  It's a fairly busy intersection and the county is putting in a left turn arrow for traffic on Rte 91.  The thing is, Rte 91 is one lane in each direction, with passing areas on the right so that traffic can go around left turning vehicles.  That works fine when there's no left turn arrow but with an arrow it's a big problem. 

The county put in the left turn arrow lights before changing the lanes configuration.  Turned on the new lights, too.  So that meant the light would change for one direction of Rte 91 to green turn arrow and the other would have a red light, but there was no left turn only lane.  The people wanting to turn left were stuck behind people who wanted to go straight but still had a red light for straight through traffic.  For people making a right on red from Deer Park to Rte 91 it also meant no way to tell if the light for Rte 91 traffic coming from the left was green or red. 

To no surprise, some people who wanted to turn left got impatient and crossed the center line to go around the stopped straight through traffic while the left turn signal was on.  Problem with that is that the Deer Park traffic had a right turn green arrow at the same time, so head on collisions were inevitable.

Fortunately, someone got wise after a week or so and the left turn arrows were deactivated.  Now the county is working on changing the lane configuration, which this week has resulted in a bizarre pair of strips of new asphalt with gaps to the edge of the road and down the middle of the road so that there's a pair of rumble strips, each a travel lane wide, for traffic going straight through on Deer Park.  Highway planning doesn't seem to be a strong suit in Carroll County.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


For a reason I don't recall or was never told, my father decided to run for public office once.  Just once.  Even that once seems like it was too much.

I was in high school at the time.  We were living in Snyder County, PA and had been since I was 10.  PA has elected school boards, unlike MD.  Or rather, some MD counties, as it's on a county by county basis.  Baltimore County doesn't have elected school boards, and I'm quite glad of that.

In any case, running for school board seemed, on its face, like a natural fit for him.  He was an elementary education professor at Bloomsburg University and had been a teacher and principal in suburban Philadelphia before that.  Well qualified, then, for a position involving decisions about education.

To run you had to be running as both a Democrat and a Republican.  That meant getting a minimum of signatures from registered voters from both parties in order to get your name on the ballot.  He did all that.

Of course, he never stood a chance.  Did I mention we were orignally from suburban Philadelphia?  Snyder County was and is a rural county.  People have lived there for generations.  Some interloper with less than a decade of living there under his belt, and a pointed headed intellectual on top of it, has a snowball's chance in Hell of winning over those voters.  Add in that he's an atheist and you've reached Don Quixote level delusion that you can win.

And he didn't.  But, he always was politically involved and something drove him to think it was worth his while to run for this office.  He was a brilliant man, so he had to know he had no chance, but he did it anyway.  Ah, well.  At least he had a nice picture in the paper when they showed all the candidates.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Skewed News

Faux News is famous for its bias but not all of the local Fox stations have news departments that mirror the national brand.  That depends on the local ownership.

Unfortunately for Baltimore, Fox 45 is owned by Sinclair Broadcasting.  They're one of the most loyal of right wing lapdogs.  This is amusing at times because the entertainment shows of Fox are far from right wing and often contradict the message of the rightist news that follows.

But whatever.  They can skew their new however they want.  It's the disingenuousness of it that was getting on my nerves yesterday.  They bought a lot of air time on the radio station I had on at work, so I heard their teaser for their 10:00 broadcast repeatedly.  Of course, that's because its sweeps month now.  I hate sweeps.  All the locals trot out their most sensational stories and plug them incessantly.

For Fox 45 that meant a broad attack on taxes with a story that had little to nothing to do with taxes.  The opening tease is your tax money being wasted.  It goes into government misspending.  But then it turns out their story is about a Baltimore City agency, unnamed, whose expense sheets show spending for fun of some kind.  It's not actually a story about whether a tax or taxes are warranted for whatever intended purpose.  It's no examination of whether a tax credit for mortgages is sound policy.  No, it's just red meat to their usual audience of former Marylanders living in south central Pennsylvania (aka Pennsyltucky).

Nearly none of the viewers they're tossing this bait are having a dime of their tax money wasted, assuming there's actually some waste being exposed, which is not certain.  These fools live in a whole other state.  Sure, they live most of their lives in Maryland, what with working and shopping here, not to mention having their kids in activities here, but their income and property taxes are paid in Pennsylvania.  They don't pay a dime to Baltimore City taxes, unless they're buying sodas or something in the city and paying the bottle tax.  Hell, they're not even paying indirectly to the city the way I am with my state taxes.

It would be one thing if they touted the story as an expose of a city department wasting money.  But they use that small story to make a broadside against taxes as a whole.  That's simply a tie that's not there and is entirely disingenuous.