A blog . . . in spite of how pathetic blogging actually is.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"Whatever" by Sifl and Olly: Incredible Music

On a given night, Sifl and Olly could stand with any group in the world.  Rock and Roll died when their show was canceled.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Let's Lighten the Mood?

Jesus Was a Jewish Liberal
***
If Guns Are Outlawed Then Only Outlaws Will Accidentally Shoot Their Children
***
The above are the two best bumper stickers of all time. 

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Why I'm Cheering Against the Democrat (and for the 'Conservative') in the New York 23rd

For starters, there no longer is a Republican on the menu so we're really only talking about a Democrat and a Conservative. It's been a long time since the NY 23rd has sent a Democrat to Washington. The DNC really doesn't even bother to try there.

But now, as I've been predicting for nearly a year, the Republican Party is coming unglued [Look at some of the older posts]. Just as Woodrow Wilson stole a Presidency from an otherwise tour de force (but deeply fractured) GOP in 1912, it would appear that Al Michaels could go back upstate and ask us all (or at least the Democrats among us) once again if we "believe in miracles."

I'm a registered independent and, during these most deeply divided of times, proud of it; however, if I lived in the NY 23rd I'd vote for the Conservative.

Here's why.

If the Conservative wins, then the GOP will hang itself. Read Frank Rich very, very carefully and then, if you're a Republican, tell me how you could possibly disagree with his assessment of where you're going? I'm serious. I'm not trying to win an argument. On the contrary, I don't see where there's an argument to win.

If the Conservative wins on Tuesday, it's over for you (Mr. and Ms. GOP). That's not hyperbole. Really, seriously . . . see you around 2016.

But what does that really mean? 2016 is seven years away. What might happen?

As a true moderate I've long been disappointed with the supposed options provided by our political party duopoly. So here's a little thought experiment. Let me know what you think:

1--The Conservative Party candidate wins the New York 23rd on Tuesday

2--The GOP's right wing faction becomes emboldened as Rich predicts it will

3--The GOP itself encounters a full blown civil war and ultimately splits. (Put another way, what has just happened in the 23rd, happens on a broad scale. By the way, when these things happen, they happen very fast. Look at the emergence of the Progressive Party in 1912 or the Reform Party in the mid-90's.)

4--This split allows the Republican Party to return to its moderate roots

5--The Conservative Party becomes the new home of the Palins, Becks, those nuts sewn up in tea bags (ahem), etc.

6--As the GOP begins to shift left, the Democratic Party does the same.

7--By 2014 or 2016, America is looking at a viable 3 party system for the first time since 1996. A genuine array of choices that speaks to a population with authentic political diversity (as opposed to the square peg-round hole slotting of our 308,000,000 on two sides of a largely contrived battle front) is in play. We all stop pretending that this current system works.

It's not that crazy. The Democrats are further right than they want to be while the GOP is a nosehair away from administering loyalty oaths. The two party system has expired its usefulness, this much is clear. We need another option---but that's not just going to happen organically. It's going to take a formed gap in need of filling. The Republican Party's version of The Real Housewives of Atlanta has done just that. We have a gap, people!

I applaud Sarah Palin for being outspoken about the 23rd. I mean it. Her 1st Amendment experience ought be no different from mine. And if she happens to have the mojo to flummox her party by being outspoken then maybe her party needs flummoxing. Maybe the right is fringe only in the context of a falsely defined method of organizing this republic. Maybe a two party system, like white male presidents, is a developing anachronism in this grand American experiment.

Lest we forget, the Founding Fathers screwed this part up. We needed a 12th Amendment to attend to the problems they failed to predict. Those problems were principally the result of an emerging two party system (If you're an opponent of the 12th Amendment, I've got two names [with attending titles] for you: President George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore . . . in the same White House! Annnnnnnnnd now you're no longer an opponent of the 12th Amendment. Very nice!)

Maybe the Framers were right after all, just a couple hundred years too late. So, of course, this all means the Civics teacher in me has to keep going with the thought experiment:

8--By 2020, it's apparent that the Electoral College, which requires 270 of the 538 electors to choose a President, is no longer suitable for America.

9--A 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified in short order. America begins to choose its Presidents as a result of popular vote

10--As has been the case for most of recent Presidential election history, winners are rarely able to secure a majority of the popular vote (Please review the data and then take note of what an electoral freak of nature Barack Obama truly was last year).

11--With no electoral college to prop up the falsely held assumption that our Chief Executives typically have the backing "of the people," the balance of power slowly shifts back to where it belongs, the legislative branch.

I'm eligible to retire from teaching at the end of the 2021-22 school year (unless Wisconsin's budget issues get so out of hand that they start incentivizing school districts to begin buying out expensive saps like me), but if the above happens, I'll follow in the footsteps of my grandfather and keep going to work on into my nineties.

Wouldn't the whole damn thing just be cooler than a cage full of albino baby tiger cubs? Be honest, you want it to happen.

On Tuesday, we're all Conservative Party members.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Emerging Moral Dilemma of Football

Before I proceed let me just point out that football is and has been a part of my identity. My father played in college (He was good). I have fond memories of gathering around the TV on Sundays, watching the Bears . . . and working angles on my parents to perhaps secure a delayed bedtime on Monday nights "If it was a good game." At the very least, we all agreed, I'd get to watch Howard Cosell's halftime recap of the previous day's showdowns.

It really didn't matter who was playing. From an early age, I found the sport intoxicating . . . probably for all the same reasons most people do.

So the last couple weeks have been a bit trying. At Milwaukee's Mitchell Airport, waiting to catch a flight to my cousin's wedding, I saw that one of my favorite authors, Malcolm Gladwell, had a cover story in 'The New Yorker.' I equate flying with impulse purchases of cool magazines I don't (but should) subscribe to, so I walked out of that CNBC Newsstand with my copy (and some Altoids) not knowing what I was about to get myself into.

Believe me when I write these words, I wish I'd of just grabbed an issue of Rolling Stone instead.

You should read Mr. Gladwell's work. Here it is. A word of warning, though. If you do read it (and it'll be pretty evident if you didn't because you'll say something like, "Well, that's a terrible comparison because dogs don't get to choose to be in dogfighting but humans get to choose to be football players" or some such thing) you're going to have to make some decisions. The one I'm wrestling with at present is whether or not I should just give in to the near overwhelming temptation to simply live in denial. Lord knows I do it with any number of other things in my life. Football's not going anywhere, right? It's way too ingrained in our culture.

And it's big business.

Here's one of the best examples I've seen in recent memory of mainstream media's conservative bias. Read here about Congress getting tough with the NFL.

So, by now, you've read Gladwell and you've read about the Congressional hearings the other day. When you read about Roger Goodell et al on the Hill, did you catch it? What got left out? What didn't get addressed?

Brett Favre arrives in Lambeau this Sunday while the little ones in the Fox Valley Pop Warner League are enjoying their first weekend off since just after Labor Day.

Here's a question.

What do these guys . . .



. . . and these guys . . .



. . . potentially have in common?

Anybody seen my copy of Rolling Stone?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Note to the GOP: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

Let's try this again. Maybe I should call it the "Imminent Republican Party Irrelevance Watch."

I don't know. Perhaps flat out hubris is a part of the process in coming to a state of acceptance.

Let's begin with GOP Chair Michael Steele who has gotten himself in hot water twice now. He disrespected Rush Limbaugh and then confessed to being pro-choice (Word to pro life community: When you say you're personally pro life but believe that individuals should choose whether or not an abortion is appropriate for them, we have a name for you: Pro Choice). The problem is not Steele, but rather Steele's penchant for telling the truth by accident. For a party that fashions itself as a bunch of straight talkers, the GOP sure has problems with someone doing just that. The fact that Michael Steele would be in any sort of trouble at all for these comments is precisely the sign you need if you're looking to see where the minority party is headed. They're stuck in an old paradigm. (I've been making this point at this blog for a while now). They should be kissing Michael Steele's feet for offering an honest assessment of what the party needs for any sort of a future.

Let's start with someone who can explain it better than me. David Frum's conservative credentials are beyond question. Here's what he had to say about Rush Limbaugh. It's worth the time to take it all in (be you a Republican or a Democrat).

Then let's move to one of the most pragmatic economists you'll ever find: Kenneth Rogoff. Watch his recent comments on the G20 gathering, but hear them through the following filter: What should a Republican, who would ostensibly be hoping for his or her party's success over the course of the next 20 years, take away from this man? You'll have to do a brief overview of how the GOP has conducted itself since January 20th in order to properly play the role (And I make this recommendation to actual Republicans as well as Democrats since the latter will actually be getting into character while the former have lately been prone to bouts of selective memory, denial, or both).

So, that's a big assignment. Frum then Rogoff. Report back here with your conclusions. ~ JDJ

Friday, March 13, 2009

You Just Have to Watch It

You just really, really do. Here's part one.


Here's part two.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Future For Newspapers Is Here?

It's sobering to me that the Tribune Company is bankrupt and the Sun Times is on the auction block without a willing buyer.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I Like Russ . . . . But He's Wrong on This One

Senator Feingold is behaving like a teacher who gives the whole class a detention because one student was naughty.

Here's his argument.

Here's mine.

Sorry . . . but Dr. Levinson makes it pretty clear that Senator Feingold's heart is in the right place, but the outcome (if his proposal actually ended up in the Constitution) would be potentially crippling to our democracy (ironically).

Don't diminish our national security because of Blago. That would be a genuine tragedy if ever there was one.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Information Revolution is a Failure

Don't we just throw in the towel and admit that blogs, talk radio, cable news . . . all make us more stupid than we clearly already are?

Jon Stewart offers a nice reminder that you're a dumbass. It's OK, I am too.

The dumbassedness is ubiquitous. Whiskey for my dumbass men, and beer for my dumbass horses. Dumbasses all, we trundle off into the NYSE-heading-under-6,000 night.

This is what we deserve . . . for we are dumbasses.

By the way, if you're of the opinion that you're not a dumbass, I'd like to hear from you . . . because I'm pretty sure you are (a dumbass) which, again, is absolutely and totally fine since I'm one too.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Robert Johnson Brings Us to the Crossroads

No, not that Robert Johnson . . . this Robert Johnson, the one who's asking us to adopt some real post-partisan language (known these days as, I'm sorry Republicans, Obama Administration language) and take the road we need to travel with the American banking system.

Serious question: Is all this shunning of 'nationalization' talk from the Obama people just a 21st century fireside chat designed to delay
what they already know to be the inevitable? Is nationalization (restructuring, in Johnson-speak), ironically, the genuine incarnation of capitalism? Put another way, is all this talk of avoiding nationalization (restructuring) an actual bend toward socialism's back door? Because, you know, if that's the actual case, then the GOP is going to need a drink.

As per the theme of a number of my posts, the GOP has (still) only operated in a way that makes me suspect their generational doom. My nephew turns two on Saturday. I'm beginning to wonder what will come first: His high school graduation or an actual White House contender who's a Republican.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Now . . . Let's Actually Talk About It

OK, now that we've all had some fun with it, let's move on to the real conversation, the one that's genuinely sophisticated, about the Santelli Tea Party rant.

This is good . . . and serves as an excellent bookend for the discussion Mr. Santelli so aggressively brought to the table. I put it on my "highly recommended" list.

By any other measure of economic history (assuming we could conveniently remove the years 1929 through 1941) we're either already in or about to fall fully into . . . an economic depression.

Of course, no one would dare say this in the mainstream press . . . for reasons that are more than justifiable if not outright obvious . . . but that doesn't mean we can't talk about it here. Burt Reynolds said in the amazing movie Deliverance, "Sometimes you have to lose yourself before you can find anything." I couldn't agree more. The information revolution is responsible for a lot of pathetic content being churned out every second of every day (put me down on the 'guilty as charged' list, please) . . . but it's also responsible for providing a platform of fully embraced, illusion free dialogue.

So here you go. Read the NY Times piece linked above, sit back, and know that . . .

We're in an economic depression. Mr. Santelli's rant speaks to a lot of people. All of this is understandable. Hell, he sort of speaks to me. If I may, I fashion myself to be in the group otherwise known as "the responsible ones," although I might not just be quite ready to adopt Mr. Santelli's language and refer to everyone in America who's in some mortgage trouble as a bunch of "losers."

It simply can't be enough to watch Mr. Santelli and scream "Hell yeah!" at your CNBC-blaring television. Being in an economic depression requires more of us all.

So let's actually talk about it. Dare we?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Because I Need to Laugh

I really do . . . and this always does it. I may have posted it before. Pathetic? Guilty as charged (obviously)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

This Is Profound

If they made economic thriller movies, this would be the outline of the screenplay . . . except it's about the real world . . . the one we're living in right now.

Darn Good Question

Slate does it again!

Michael Phelps is just the tip of the ice berg. What's to be done with the most photographed generation in U.S. history (aka, 12-25 year olds) when they don't have copy editors following them around to approve their every (sometimes stupid) decision?

It's a conversation we're going to have to have sooner or later.

I say . . . let's have it sooner.~JDJ

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Roland Burris: Dumbass

Oh my.

Oh my oh my.

What an idiot.

I'm left only to ask: Did he think we wouldn't find out?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Time Has Come to Actually Do Your Own Thinking


"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."
~Aristotle


Secretary Geithner's a nerd. You don't need to listen to him for very long to figure this out.

On occasion, my students will see me out and about. Often times, they freak just a tad. I should be home reading the U.S. Constitution . . . again, right? That's all I do in my spare time.

This is how I feel about Tim Geithner, only I picture him with his head buried in a stack of monetary policy papers. If I saw him at The Cheesecake Factory, I'd do a "No way Mr. Secretary! You come here?" so fast you'd swear I had an algebra test to go study for.

So, I humbly ask you to consider the following (even though no one in mainstream media has yet to seriously discuss it): Secretary Geithner, Lawrence Summers, and the rest of the President's economy God squad purposefully put out a vague plan for how to rescue our nation's troubled banks. I assume you know the market tanked yesterday, ostensibly off the news that the Geithner Plan . . . had very little actual news in it.

It's all quite plausible. You could almost hear Wall St. utter a collective, "That's it?" once the whole deal was put on the table.

Again, what I'm suggesting is that the Obama people knew a vague plan would have this effect, and so then they went ahead and announced it anyway.

CNBC's financial pundit brass looked like they were going to light up some torches and take to the streets at one point. Brian Williams was careful to make sure they got plenty of national news face time to vent. CBS, ABC, even Jim Lehrer's team joined in the fun. Outrage was en fuego. "Miscalculation," as a word, would have made you rich if you owned the intellectual property rights to its use. No one had anything to say but the following: The plan was too vague, Wall St. got spooked, and boy oh boy . . . can you believe we're in the mid 7000's now?

Here's what they should have been discussing. Guys like Geithner and Summers have conversations which inevitably involve statements like, "You know, if we put out something this vague, no one's going to like it. In fact, I think it'll send the markets down, maybe by a lot." I don't know who would have said this. Let's just pretend it was Summers.

So then Geithner (looking up from a monetary policy paper) would have replied, "Well, we could be detailed. We could level with them about what we expect to be the case, the actual situation. We could, uhhh, you know, tell it like it is?"

Then Summers would jump up on his desk and go, "Oh Great Hammer of Thor! No! No, I say!"

In other words, they weighed the two: Be vague vs. Be detailed . . . . and went with the former. This is a little bit like the 'logic' (ahem) behind intelligent design, but here goes: What can we conclude from what we don't see (aka, a detailed plan for our banks)? Don't like that one? Try this: How does a dentist give you a good feeling when describing the full process involved in your upcoming root canal? How much up front detail do you really want?

Consider the possibility (since our 'liberal' media won't) that Tim Geithner and Lawrence Summers might be smart people who look a few moves down the chess board. Consider that the vague plan route was a calculated risk, a lesser of two evils, a veritable punt . . . to the other side of their announced 'stress test' for American banks.

The stress test, one of the vague plan's few areas of clarity, is effectively going to amount to a full blown audit of the banks, ALL the banks, including the major leaguers like Wells Fargo, CITI, JP Morgan Chase, etc. Some of these guys behaved in a way that ought to rescind permanently the use of the word 'deregulation' unless assurances are given that there will still be a reasonable level of regulation on the way to attaching the "de" prefix. [NOTE to free market purists: I really used to be one of you. But if NINA loans can happen . . . No Income No Assets . . . then you need to rethink your views of government intrusion into market efficiencies if you're of the belief that government should be kept as far away as possible. NINA loans are efficient. I'll give you that. Know what else is efficient? A Luger discharged at the base of the skull. Word up: Efficiency for the sake of efficiency can lead to a closed casket. I'm being metaphorical, of course.]

The stress test portion of the Geithner Plan is in play because, deep down, we all probably know the jig is up. It's time to face the music. The stress test is indeed a full blown audit . . . of major leaguers . . . several of whom are . . . .

. . . insolvent.

That word deserves its own line. Do a 'one Mississippi, two Mississippi' . . . all the way up to ten. And think about the reality of a major banking system being insolvent for each and every Mississippi you utter. The time has come to actually think, people. Think beyond the CNBC outrage. Think about the odds of Geithner and Summers actually forgetting to include details in their plan? Really? You believe that? I don't think you do.

And again, think about several major banks in this country being . . .

. . . . insolvent.

I'm back to the same old theme now. If we don't start to change our reflex approach to everything under the identity politics umbrella then we deserve to become the big, fat version of Great Britain (aka, former power) we'll surely become.

What's happening right now is, unless you're my 92 year old grandmother, the most profoundly serious economic crisis you've ever seen in your lifetime. The reality of what confronts us is, to be frank, beyond what most of us are capable of digesting. Jack Nicholson said it best, "You can't handle the truth."

Think real hard before you disagree with me and say something like, "I can handle it! Let me have it!" You remind me of the kid in 'Searching for Bobby Fischer,' staring sternly at the chess board when, all of a sudden, the prodigy character offers him a draw with an extended hand. The kid refuses the gesture leaving the frustrated prodigy to simply say, "You've lost. You just don't know it."

GOP obstructionists adhering to nothing more than party-line rhetoric, shortsighted and reactionary media pundits neglecting to discuss what's being dealt with in this really pathetic blog post here . . . they ALL remind me of a bunch of naive English aristocrats heading off to Verdun in WWI.

They've lost. They just don't know it. They have no idea what we're all about to get into here.

They're stuck in an old model of partisan thinking . . . an old model of news analysis.

They're stuck in a pre-2009 mode of language.

They are, essentially, the unenlightened ones.

From James Carville to Karl Rove . . . from Bill O'Reilly to Keith Olbermann . . . and all of you who wittingly or unwittingly have learned your language from the political culture that's been shaped as a result . . . start speaking Sanskrit.

I'm serious.

Start speaking Sanskrit . . . or Latin . . . the dead language of your choice. I don't care. It'll work about as well, be just about as effective . . . as the tired words you spew or the tired news analysis you repeat.

The time has come to learn a new language. Quit your political party. Abandon your liberal or conservative or moderate label. Untangle yourself from the wreckage of a dead language which wraps itself tightly around identity politics.

The time has come to actually do your own thinking.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Obama Press Conference Was Calculated Genius

He's not as polished as when he's giving a speech.

Sure.

Granted.

I agree.

But the stilted, often hesitatnt nature of his speaking style in a press conference scenario is intentional. He turns it on and off. It makes him look more deliberative, like an intellectual.

Remember intellectuals?

Here's the bottom line: Seven minutes into the press conference he attached all GOP hesitancy on the stimulus plan to the wing-nut section of the party's economic philosophy that beleives the New Deal was wrong. So if you're in the GOP and you don't like the stimulus bill, you're de facto an extremist who believes that Hoover was right.

Congratulations.

And by the way, it doesn't have to be fair.

I predict the conference committee will replace about 50% of the cuts to states and the bill will sail (still with predominant GOP opposition, but choreographed to give the appearance of being against it while making sure the Senate filibuster remains staunchly clotured).

If you think he did poorly in this press conference, you need to keep up. This is chess, not checkers. I'm putting this post up while he's still taking questions.

The substance . . . the purpose of this night . . . has already been achieved. What I'm watching now is gravy. (The point was to make Republicans look insane. These are dangerous words to attach to a President but I'll do it anyway: Mission accomplished)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The GOP Will Not Ruin My Birthday

Look, I'm a public school teacher who lives in a state that has debt issues. If you can't figure out why the GOP's dice-shave of the stimulus bill has me upset, then you need to read more. And remember, we can blame the GOP . . . and only the GOP . . . because this is the non-filibuster-proof Senate we're talking about here. [And, for the record, we're all about to get a lesson in civics because there's going to be something known as a conference committee that has to happen now. Conference committee's are largely benign gatherings of House members and Senators where differences between the respective versions of the bill get worked out. The President can only sign something that's been passed in identical form by both chambers. The conference committee on this particular stimulus bill may not be a benign affair, though. There are numerous House members . . . even some Republicans . . . who are feeling the heat at home to help take pressure off the strained state budget shortfalls. AIG gets a couple hundred billion dollars . . . but my kid Billy has to sit in a freshman algebra class of 50 students next year because you wouldn't kick us a couple billion over here in Indiana? The election of 2010 is only 21 months away . . . or, in terms more salient to the topic, when Billy will be in a sophomore geometry class of 55 students).

But let's not talk about that. Let's talk about what I've been talking about for the past few weeks.

This is it, right here . . . right now. This is where the GOP lays the foundation for its own irrelevance in the next 15 years. Thanks to my good pal, MS, I've already seen the "overnights" on this (Best birthday present so far, dude) . . . and the American public has spanked President Obama down to a horrifying approval rating of 68% (sarcastic tone intended) NOT for the reasons being rattled off by Mitch McConnell.

Quite the contrary, the President's wrists are being lightly slapped because he's not telling Mitch McConnell to f### off. Numbers don't lie. I'm not trying to be a pathetic know it all. They're internals, so I won't share without permission (which I won't get) . . . . but they're pretty clear. The American people are telling the President to be LESS nice to the GOP. Why is that? If you're a member of the GOP, take a good long hard look in the mirror (I asked you to do this a couple weeks ago in an earlier post). Clinton moved the Democrats to the right. Who's your Clinton? Time for many of you to pack your bags and prep for a move to the left. The train whistle's only going to blow a couple more times.

Barack Obama knows all this. Mitch McConnell knows that Barack Obama knows all this. Barack Obama knows that Mitch McConnell knows that Barack Obama knows all this.

Mitch McConnell's actually a smart guy who's in the Senate by the skin of his electoral teeth (November 4th was engaging on many levels, but the one that we probably should have given more attention, once we knew the McCain people were doomed, was just how close Senator McConnell came to being unemployed as opposed to being the de facto head of his party . . . which is what he is right now, try as Minority Leader Boehner might).

So I'm mad, but this isn't over for me. I'm going to be OK. I don't belong to either party (although the GOP is making it easier and easier for me to say something like, "Awww hell, sure. I'll just say I'm a Democrat for the time being.")

It's not over for me, but if you DO BELONG to the GOP, and you DO ENDORSE their most recent behavior regarding the stimulus bill . . . then listen to me (because I listen to MS, the guru who made lots of my friends mad when he declared that Bush had lost the general public on the night he made his post-Katrina speech from The Big Easy. We took tons of grief from lots and lots of Bush apologists, and even a few Democrats. Only problem is this: MS was right. Look back on it now. Joystick polling worked! I'm wondering if he's received a single apology. I doubt it) . . . it's about to be over for you.

Sorry. The truth hurts. And again, I don't enjoy being the messenger. I want a viable GOP. Jerry McGuire said it best, "Help me help you." Cut loose of the silly semantics Senator McConnell. Barack Obama doesn't have copyright protection on the word 'Change.'

Do it for me. It's my birthday.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Loyalty to the Cause

I'm a Cubs fan. It's crazy . . . maybe even stupid . . . but it's also baseball . . . so who cares?

The GOP is NOT reading this blog, and they should. As I've written earlier, they're stuck in old white man mode (irrespective of their new party chairman).

And now we see with their reaction to the President's stimulus bill, they're stuck in another era in terms of how they choose to argue against it. That train has already left the station. It doesn't matter if they're right or wrong, the public has already moved past their rhetoric.

This doesn't end well for them. That's what I've been saying. And if the GOP loses its viability, then we all suffer.

So how do we talk to them (the GOP illuminati) so they hear us? How do we get through? Anyone know how to do an intervention with an entire major party?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Nothing is for Free in this World

I believe the saying [mentioned as this post's title] is derived from a fiscally and socially conservative ideology, is it not? Consider, please, that the President's most recent action is just that, an act of fiscal and social conservatism.

If you say no to this claim then might I suggest to you that you're changing the meaning of the words to suit your own purposes. Fiscal and social conservatives stopped acting like fiscal and social conservatives a while back, but they insisted upon keeping the brand name . . . which is now less and less possible in the midst of a truly post-partisan effort to govern. What Obama has done is reintroduced the notion of fiscal and social conservatism with a single declaration available to him as chief executive officer of the U.S. Government.

It's just what we were taught growing up, right? You have to work for your money. You have to meet a standard of success in what you do if you wish to survive in the workplace. Just showing up to work shouldn't guarantee you a thing. You have to abide by standards of taxpayer will if you're going to effectively be a taxpayer supported institution.

I'm a public school teacher. I hear it all the time. I also happen to agree with it. I'm just tickled that the upper echelons of America's bailed out corporate executive class are now joining me.

Happy to have you all on board!

Just calling it like I see it~JDJ

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Get HULU'd

If you haven't gotten bit by the bug yet, here you go. (It's been around for a while, but I'm finding a lot of people my age don't know of it yet)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

More on the Steele GOP

Salon has chimed in.

When in the present, it's best to stay there and focus (which is why I posted what I posted a little while ago).

Failure to adapt will ultimately spell a failure to matter. Again, we've seen it before. It's up to the GOP to make sure it doesn't happen again.

25 Things You Don't Know About Me

Facebook started this trend (or, maybe, someone on Facebook started this trend) . . . so I decided to jump in. Here are my 25 things you don't know about me:

1--The line, "Beirut rules, Mr. Baer?" from the movie Syriana was inspired by an intense conversation I had with Stephen Gaghan at a Dennys in Louisville in 1992. He wrote it into the movie as a tribute to that discussion (and, by extension, what I contributed to his awakening)

2--Loki's time with me in Cristal Atoll back in the 80's was magical, yes. But profound? Sadly, no. Never leave real thinking to someone who's spent his or her time in college abroad for more than a year. It's corrupting to the personal constitution.

3--I was a champion equestrian barrier designer at age 13 but was pulled away from it by overly helicopterish parents who felt it wasn't appropriately stiumulating to all 7 of my intelligences (wherein I retain 'gifted' status across the board).

4--I still draw royalties off the intellectual property rights to an algorithm I developed which determines a 0.01% margin of error ratio of "people persons" to "loners" that exist in the world. Look out loners! The trends are NOT working in your favor.

5--My wife doesn't know this so don't tell her. I'm actually married to three other women and one man at present. They all live in the continental United States which means I ran out of time zones when Delsia and I got hitched last August (20% of my heart belongs to you, Little D!)

6--Regarding #5, the Homeland Security Act of 2002 includes provisions that have actually made it EASIER to manage the various drivers licenses and passports needed to be a credible (aka, uncaught) polygamist. All of this stands, once again, as an ironic twist on the evident: We've spent literally a trillion dollars in the past 7 years to make this country safer . . . and have achieved the opposite. Lucky for everyone (especially the residents of Gitmo, upon whom a school-cafeteria-sized can of whoop ass would have been opened had I arrived) I'm a Patriot and not a terrorist, right?

7--Regarding #6, contrary to what you may have heard or read in "The New Yorker," I was never in Kandahar, Afghanistan in the mid 90's. Kandahar, Wyoming? Uhhhhh, let's move on to #8, shall we?

8--I possess evidence that the voices on Patrick Fitzgerald's most recently famous batch of tapes ARE NOT those of unfairly discarded former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. It'll all be in the book. This one was a request of my agent. Here endeth the teaser. Stay tuned (Like you wouldn't?)

9--I am a blood relative (Great, great, great Aunt) of the head choreographer of the Moulin Rouge from 1909 until the start of the Great War when she started seeing a little known French Officer known as Charles DeGaulle (I'm not lying).

10--I studied ballet with Rahm Emmanuel before we both took different paths. We still talk every week. Last week, he called twice. The dance . . . or, these days, simply taking a little time for refuge in the sanctuary known otherwise as 'Pleasant reminiscing about the dance' is one of the few things that makes life worth the hassle for the two of us. I shall always be J-Dawg to your Rahm-man Noodle, Mr. Chief of Staff.

11--Maureen Dowd and I still "visit" when the itch is there, but I've lately been avoiding it since Krugman's Nobel Prize inclined her to invite him to said visits. I believe the word is spelled C-R-E-E-P-Y [NOTE: Could we also keep this one on the D-L from my five spouses?]

12--I went LLC last year with a business plan that seeks to fill the snob gap in the GOP. We're kicking ass and taking names on the 'French wine and expensive cheeses' front. These people had no idea. Really, it's like watching a bunch of 19 years olds listen to the Grateful Dead for the first time, all nodding, saying things like, "Yeah, it really HAS been a long, strange trip!" Next month we unveil Palin Moose Liver Pate'

13--I trim my chest hair

14--I trim my ear hair

15--The line, "If you love something, set it free," was first used by my freshman year dorm roommate's great grandfather when he hung out with F. Scott Fitzgerald during his brief, but rarely chronicled, time in Quebec

16--All guest speakers in my classes from 1989 until it became illegal for me to do so (October 14, 1997) had to sign over to me the right to personally profit from the stories they told when in my classroom. Watch "Stand and Deliver" starting at approximately the 53 minute mark. Stay with it until just past the 57 minute mark. That was all based on me.

17--Two pieces of furniture in my home are gifts from the late Jim Williams, he of 'Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil' fame. I was part of an amalgam of characters used to inspire the now famous line, "hurricane of sex."

18--I won 5 state championships in track and cross country while in high school. But if you really know me, then you know it should have been 7 (800 meter run in the 10th grade and cross country in the 11th grade).

19--I am a registered "Pilot Savant" with the FAA. Simply put, this means I'm capable of flying any aircraft, commercial or otherwise, irrespective of personal deficiencies in cockpit hours (Side Note to Adam: NO, I once again WILL NOT use my summer vacation to catch up! I did not become a certified teacher to work in the month of July). Like someone who can play music by ear, once you sit me down in the cockpit and put me in front of the controls, it all just sort of "makes sense.". I've never technically had a flying lesson.

20--Regarding #19, the ERS (Evasive Response Strategy) employed by the pilot who safely put flight 1549 down on the Hudson River is a direct result of a memo I sent to the FAA in 2003. It's at their website. Look it up.

21--Lately, as the early 40's give way to the mid-40's, I've also had to start trimming out of control eyebrows . . . . which, except for that one misunderstanding with Paul Krugman (see #11), have been mine.

22--I was a busboy at the IOC planning session (in Zurich in 1996) where the name "Half Pipe" was made official for the ski event we've now all come to love and cherish, perhaps more than the Super Bowl and World Series combined. So I'm here to tell you that the rumors are true. The name of the event WAS NOT inspired by the shape of the ski run. I've never removed more empty bags of Cool Ranch Doritos from tables in my life.

23--The infamous Puck character from one of the early seasons of MTV's 'The Real World' only got his spot after it was determined that I would be unable to secure a leave of absence at my job

24--I haven't had a drink in over 16 years. I think people who drink alcohol are all going to hell.

25--I was the first person in North America to notice that 'Evian' spelled backwards is 'Naive'.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Wellllllllllllllllllll, look at what the GOP went and did!

Michael Steele is the new RNC Chairman.

Didn't someone say something about this a while back?

Sorry, I'm . . . . working on the modesty thing.

Friday, January 30, 2009

How I Benefit Personally from Governor Blagojevich's Removal from Office

I grew up 12 miles from Pontiac, Illinois, whose economy is largely tethered to the maximum security prison that sits there.

One of the most pathetic aspects of blogging is when people get too personal . . . . so, to avoid this, let's just say that the better Pontiac does, the better I do. ~JDJ

PS--I still believe that the former Governor of Illinois would have done best for himself to allow the former Miss Teen USA contestant from South Carolina to represent him on the State Senate floor.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Death of Talk Radio Cometh

Leonard Pitts says it much better than I'm capable of saying it, but mark my words: Prediction #16 will be correct come December 31, 2009.

It's already happened in many ways. The decoupling between what Rush says and what we think began round about September 15th of this past year (and it's picked up steam ever since).

You can check it against any number of polls, the place on the political spectrum where you'll find this trend is more true than ever is most definitely right of center. The left rarely if ever gave credence to Cape Girardeau's favorite son; thus, any digging you do with those people won't reveal much of a shift.

The phone call is coming from inside the house, Mr. Limbaugh!

Indeed, talk radio in general is moving to relic status. Its ability to influence actual political realities is simply ending. What's worse, it has only one option as per the preordained terms of its market. There's no better bellweather of this industry than Rush Limbaugh. He's the King. The only move he can make to try and stop his own 'relevance bleeding' is to introduce more and more hyperbole to the product he sells. More and more hyperbole ensures only that he'll become less and less relevant . . . which leads him to again exercise his only option of bringing on more and more hyperbole . . . and so on . . . and so on.

It's a downward spiral of a different sort, to be sure, but nothing that should surprise us. The history of media suggests that these types of trends do ultimately end . . . and by "end" I'm hardly referring to profits. Please do be sure to read the full prediction on #16. I'm not claiming a loss of listeners. Quite the opposite, in fact: Talk radio will do better than it's ever done before in terms of ratings--and that will actually be its problem.

Judge Judy is damn entertaining . . . but no one I'd look to for an understanding of our legal system.~JDJ

Losing a Literary Giant

John Updike


R.I.P.

Let's Make it 21!

Sorry to be all Alumni-ish on you lately, but I just really am enjoying being this good and having no one really know about it. We're #19? Ummmm, I really do think you're still undervaluing our product.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Recession Proof Cloud Computing . . . and Just Change in General

A Really Pathetic aspect of many blogs is to simply say, "Hey, I found this mind-boggling article that you all should read."

Why do we still have televisions?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Are There Really Two Sides to Every Issue?

So, I was talking with a friend the other day about the concept of legacy in Presidential politics. That somehow got turned into a discussion over the idea of balance in political discourse (Hint: Both MSNBC and FOX News came into the conversation----NOTE: If you rely on either for your primary news, you're being played like a fool. And if your solution is to watch both, then you're just being silly. Now, if you're watching one or both for entertainment . . . and you KNOW that's the reason why you're watching . . . then I think I sort of like you).

Watch this.

The point of that scene is to deny the existence of the hackneyed cliche, "There are two sides to every issue."

There aren't.

Know of any issues that would fit this criteria? Share please. Give us an issue (or set of issues) that have, for all practical purposes, one side. When we see the "other side" being brought into mainstream media or a personal conversation, they (the media and/or the conversants) are entertaining us . . . giving the appearance of being fair . . . but not being realistic (in any reasonable sense of the word).

Good stuff

Always warms my heart.

Friday, January 23, 2009

WARNING: This is addicting

Check this out.

Here's the Really Pathetic Poll: Which one do you like the most? The least?

I'll get things started in the comments section.~JDJ

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The GOP in White and Black

This post comes on the first full day of the Barack Hussein Obama Administration. Consider it an open letter to his political rivals.

In 1948 retired General Dwight D. Eisenhower was asked about the possibility of running for public office. His response revealed the efficiency you'd expect of someone who planned Operation Overlord, "I just don't believe military men should get involved in politics."

OK, then. That was that. Or so the nation thought.

Except, as we know, Eisenhower was elected President of the United States just four years later. Today, we'd hear an answer like the one he gave and chalk it up to the game: Deny ambition for office as a first step toward pursuing it. Except, if you really study the man in this particular case, you come to realize that he was probably telling the truth. Four years before taking the biggest job in the world he was of the belief that it would have been inappropriate to go after it.

What changed his mind? The Republican Party.

The GOP's brass came into the General's home and dealt with him on his own terms, straight up. Eisenhower was asked to save the nation a second time. If the Democrats won a sixth straight term to the Oval Office, the two party system in America would likely buckle (they contended). What would be left of the democratic process was anyone's guess. Maybe a new party would form, maybe we'd see a fluid stream of coalitions efforting a challenge to the Democratic Party hegemons. Who knew? Uncertainty reigned. An Eisenhower candidacy would deliver stability to a tenuous system that had grown addicted to a political party duopoly.

The pitch worked. Depending on which story you choose to believe, it took Eisenhower anywhere from an hour to a day to agree. The rest is history.

At that moment, the Republican Party was probably at a high point in terms of its national appeal (Reagan in 1984 competes quite nicely, though). Eisenhower energized the base, but, more importantly, brought the Republican brand to corners of the country that hadn't considered it for a long time. We spend a lot of academic and pundit-ish energy lauding over Nixon's Southern Strategy as a transformative moment for the GOP. We put far less focus than we should on Eisenhower's comprehensive appeal. Nixon may have changed the rules for his party's foundation, but Eisenhower effectively wrote the original draft of those new rules for post-War America. In simplest terms, without Ike, Nixon wouldn't have had a strategy to execute.

The idea of nationalizing a party's brand without a unifying crisis like the Great Depression or the biggest war in the history of humanity wasn't really even in the playbook back in 1952. Few campaign operatives considered it as a priority-one strategy. America's two party system had, up until Eisenhower, largely been a reflection of regional politics. Lincoln didn't even bother to campaign in the South in 1860. The Republican Party was a genuine regional party whose epicenter was squarely in the North. A half century and one monumentally bad electoral cycle later, it's effectively a regional party of the South.

And it's in trouble. (And if you're a fan of democracy, even if you're a Democrat, this should bother you).

The current geographic trajectory of Eisenhower's resurrection handiwork will have a new epicenter in the Gulf of Mexico or, if they're lucky, Tijuana . . . by next week. These aren't bad destinations (provided you have a boat for that first one), but they'll be problematic on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November during even numbered years.

The issue this time is far more complicated than it was in 1952. We're talking about a challenge that's organic and quite likely beyond the day-saving capacity of a war hero. In simple terms, the GOP is not diverse at precisely the time in America's history when diversity is to party viability like jet fuel is to a 747.

What's to be done? That's easy. The GOP needs to . . . get diverse.

How? Don't ask me. But take the advice, Republicans. You need to get diverse. And you need to do it yesterday.

Get diverse, or, regardless of what Newsmax says . . .

. . . it will be over . . . and that scares me more than a "Palin 2012" yard sign.

The Democratic Party got schooled like a bunch of skateboarders trying to run a mile in gym class back in the 1980's. America had shifted right underneath them and they had no clue until it was too late. History may very well judge that it took a quarter century to fully recover from that Reagan tsunami . . . but oh how the Democrats HAVE INDEED recovered. Would anyone wanting to be taken seriously dare question the death spiral of the GOP after reviewing the numbers from 2006 and 2008? The convenient answer (if you're a Republican and want to sleep at night) is to just blame it all on now former President George W. Bush. The 'take a good long hard look in the mirror and reach for a Lunesta' answer is much worse, though. America has shifted again, but in a more profound manner than what we saw in 1980.

This is where a lot of Democrats I know get smug. Some of it's understandable. I'm of the group who believes President Obama was referring to several things at once when he said, "It's been a long time coming," last November 4th. So everyone needs to grant a little chest-beating 'boo-yah' endzone dancing, but it should stop there. If the smugness lasts much past Valentine's Day then it's time to get worried. Now, this would be where you'd expect me to write something like, 'If the Democrats get all full of themselves then they'll get beaten up by the electorate in 2010.'
I wish that's the point I was trying to make. What I fear is worse: The Democratic Party might be heading into another era of being bullet proof, just like 1932-1952, whether it's smug or not.

This wouldn't be a good thing.

When I started reading words like "permanent Republican majority" back in the Rove Era, I got scared. The words 'permanent' and 'majority' have no business being together if you also hope to use the words 'healthy' and 'republic.' We should cheer for a two party system.

And that's where the GOP needs to answer the wake up call. Here we are, January of 2009, and one of our two major parties is based almost exclusively in the South with ever-dwindling fuel levels in the rest of the nation. Save for two Bush Administration Secretaries of State, they have no national figure minorities to speak of. They're a party whose face is principally a bunch of white men with a few token white women; moreover, they appear to be completely unwilling to listen to the alarm bell that's ringing. Why Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal isn't constantly having rose petals thrown in front of his anticipated path by Mike Duncan is beyond me.

So here's a reading assignment. But before you start, buck up, especially if you're a Republican. It's heady stuff that will actually require you to abandon the notion that anything complex is de facto liberal blather. That approach to life has worked well for mediums like talk radio for a good decade now, but (as I predict in number sixteen) the game is changing. You have to throw this simplistic script in the trash and start over . . . in more ways than you can probably imagine. Getting through Hua Hsu's piece without punching your computer screen will be a nice start. And if you're a Democrat, the first temptation will be to take a long nap because . . . why bother?

You're set, right?

Unfortunately, the answer just might be . . . maybe.

Being a registered independent is freedom to write what you want and feel pretty damn good about it when you do. So let me be clear, I'm cheering for the Republicans on this one. All hands on deck, white boys. All the lifeboats are gone. You need to patch the hull or go down with the ship. Might I recommend tooting your horn toward the S.S. People of Color? But be advised, you're going to need to make some changes.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Former President George W. Bush in Midland

There's some good stuff here. It's worth a view.

I Didn't Want to Say Anything At the Time

I watched the oath of office with a room full of people who were, save for a couple of colleagues who stopped by, younger than Malia Obama the last time we had a day like today (an inauguration that was a full transfer of power) . . . . so I bit my tongue when I saw and heard what I thought I saw and heard.

"No," I thought, "Must be some older version, tried and true, adapted from the mid-1800's or something. Who says we have to go verbatim off the Constitution? I'm witnessing a throwback gesture. Maybe this was Lincoln's oath."

But something about President Obama's face (the smile in particular) and the body language suggested otherwise.

Turns out I was right. The Oath of Office got a little mussed up today.

And, for those who would ask (as several of my students did after class), the answer is no, you can't use this technicality to argue that Barack Obama isn't the President of the United States. The Oath is required by the Constitution, but his Presidency began at Noon, or about 7 minutes before John Roberts, Jr. butchered his lines. For that matter, President Obama got the launch codes at 10 AM, a full two hours earlier (A thought that doesn't at all remind me of the day when I first started at Shorewood High School and they gave me . . . classroom keys).

Incidentally, what you saw today between President Obama and Chief Justice Roberts was historic in another way (other than the cue-card-less version of the Oath submitted for our disapproval). It was the first time that a President took an Oath of Office from a Chief Justice whose nomination the President formally rejected. President Obama is the first person to be elected to his office from the U.S. Senate since John F. Kennedy (who was sworn in by Earl Warren who was Senatorially approved to the High Court when Kennedy was just a Congressman from Massachusetts). Senator Barack Obama voted against the nomination of John Roberts, Jr. That's a first in U.S. history.

Then It's Not a Bad Idea to Watch It Again

I'm looking toward an outcome, and it's the one where we deeply think about what was said.

That's it. I swear. It's an agenda-less ambition.

The Speech is Worth Reading

You may have watched it. I recommend you read it.~JDJ

Following is the prepared text of President-elect Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address, as provided by the Presidential Inaugural Committee:

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land - a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America - they will be met.
On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted - for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things - some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sanh.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions - that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act - not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth.

We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions - who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them - that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works - whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day - because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control - and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart - not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort - even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West - know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment - a moment that will define a generation - it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence - the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed - why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

"Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Today is About Transition

I always tell my students (typically when teaching the concept of habeas corpus) that the things we find boring (or the things we take for granted) count as the ultimate compliments given to this great nation. The fact that we simply assume there will be a handing off of power a little later today, sans tanks and guns and bombs and chaos, is an assumption we're entitled to make, but that doesn't make us special. Indeed, all of humanity is entitled to this same assumption. They simply don't get what they're entitled to. We do, and we rarely take a moment to reflect upon it because we're spoiled. We've relegated the whole consideration to the realm of the trivial.

The legacy of this nation is multifaceted, and way more than a blog post can muster. Suffice it to say, we're a complicated bunch, we Americans. But we never cease to amaze the world with our feline-nine-lives capacity for renewal. Today is about that, for sure.

But, more than anything else, it's about the peaceful transition of power. I'm biased. Sorry. Peaceful transition of power is the big #1 for me (and I'd of written this if McCain had won). My mentor of many years, Sonja Ivanovic, taught me to appreciate the moment and what it really meant.

Try this: Take a map of the world and throw a dart at it. Overcome the 70+% odds of hitting water (in other words, manage to hit a land mass) and I'll give you a coin toss chance that you'll land where peaceful transition of power is a remote notion at best.

Seriously, try it. See how you do. Then reflect on how lucky you are to be here.

I just did it. I hit Indonesia.

~JDJ

Monday, January 19, 2009

Tomorrow is about Today

A good friend got me doing this years back. I'll try and pay it forward right here.

I read the great letter on this day. It's a personal tradition (which, again, was suggested to me by a friend who's been doing it his entire adult life).

Recognize the achievement of the man we honor today and I think there's a more refined perspective to be had regarding tomorrow. In past years, the word tomorrow was meant in the figurative sense. This particular year, it's also meant literally.

Peace~ JDJ

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Goodness

This is stunning.
(NOTE: Wait for it)

Friday, January 16, 2009

I Need the Following Two People to Have Large Egos

1--My doctor (Most recently, my cardiologist)

2--Anyone flying the plane I'm on


C.B. Sullenberger, you are the man! Nicely done, sir.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Coolest Al Franken Poster Ever

Thanks to Special D for passing it on. You probably won't get it if you're under the age of 35.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Embrace the Moment (aka, the Horror)

Steve Buscemi is a chronic scene stealer in the awesome flick, 'Armageddon.'


One of his great lines comes when they're on the asteroid and things aren't looking good: Broken drills, time running out, all sorts of strife between the civilians and the soldiers. Buscemi puts his arms in the air, literally faces earth, and says, "Guess what guys, it's time to embrace the horror! Look, we've got front row tickets to the end of the earth!"

Fortunately, in spite of his character's genius status, the suggestion is ignored, Bruce Willis blows himself up (along with the asteroid), Ben and Liv get back in the same bed, and we're all living happily ever after by the time the credits role (over creepy funeral footage of Owen Wilson, et al).

Today's New York Times might, if you were a crazy, gambling addicted genius, help you find your inner-Armageddon-Buscemi.

So here's the deal: This is the real world. The asteroid is whatever we're supposed to call the locked up credit market. Barack Obama is Billy Bob Thornton.

Who's Bruce Willis? Help me, because I'm starting to get a "wild hair" as they say, and I'm thinking that maybe it just might be time to go a little crazy.

We can't all live forever, right?

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