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

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'.