Friday, November 30, 2012

Rep Candace Miller to Chair House Administration Committee

Congratulations to Representative Candace Miller (R-MI)  who has broken the glass ceiling in the GOP leadership of the House in the 113th Congress which takes office in January 2013. Congress Critter Miller was appointed the new Chair of the House Administration Committee Speaker Boehner's office announced today. The House Administration Committee oversees the House Cafeteria and the selection of paper or plastic plates and bowls and the House restrooms and the Members' cloak room. 
The speaker's office has not yet announced a date for her installation as chairperson at which ceremony she will given the usual ceremonial toilet brush. There is no word at this writing if the brush will be resurfaced in mahogany and the bristles bronzed or gilded. She is currently a member of the House Homeland Security Committee.

A Son and His Dad

I read this article with great interest. My interest was piqued by several things. First there was the human interest and the seemingly random distribution of pain among all classes of us. It was also fascinating because it sort of mirrored by own relationship with my father in my formative years. Then there was the realization that the Fournier father-son were especially blessed in their encounter by the fact that this family had the resources available to them to obtain professional help they needed to make the paternal-filial relationship come into bloom. The relationship between the two principals was also blessed by a gift that very few people enjoy: the ability to bring into play the father's professional relationships with two former presidents of the US.
This distribution of pain which is seemingly random and perhaps even chaotic reminds me that we are all stardust essentially and products of the Big Bang which apparently is continuing to this day when you listen to cosmologists speak and ponder what they are saying. Who knows what the cause of Aspergers is in reality perhaps it is also the mal-formation of stardust that's been reformulated into the human brain.
My own father who was the fourth child of his family lost his father and a sibling during the influenza epidemic that terrorized the world in 1918 and he came of age during the Great Depression. This article made me think of my own father and my relationship with him because he was a jock in his off and on again high school years playing football and dabbling in horticulture as a member of the gladiolus society at Manual Arts high school in Los Angeles. As his son I suspect I was a bit of a disappointment because I was not athletically inclined as a kid. I didn't even really enjoy watching sports on the television growing up. I think he and I went to a grand total of two sporting events, a Los Angeles Rams game and a Los Angeles Dodgers game, both of those at the Los Angeles Coliseum before the Dodgers moved to Chavez Ravine. Because I was relatively tall I was forced into basketball and because I frequently tripped over my own feet and grace was a stranger to me, I frankly sucked at it. Later in life a friend told me that my view of basketball was 'ten misshapen men running around in their underwear'. I am slightly more enlightened on that now but not much. One of my great fears growing up was that I would lose my father to some horrible accident or disease. As a consequence of my disinclination to sports I was much more interested in reading. I devoured every science fiction book I could get my hands on in the library. I am still a devotee of both Isaac Asimov and the late great Robert Heinlein. I don't think Dad and I were friends and I am sure I was a disappointment to him. My father was good ballroom dancer and I pretty much sucked at all forms of dance and to this day I have to be led onto the dance floor by demon rum or some similar substance. My dad never seemed to take an interest in improving our relationship. Not from a lack of interest but because he didn't know how to do that. His formal education never went beyond high school. He was definitely consumed in just making a living for himself and his family. He was most definitely not abusive. I don't want anyone to draw that conclusion. I just think that he didn't know how to draw close to me because I wasn't of his world. As for me I was fearful of losing him and I had no idea how to please him and take the first step toward befriending him. I am certainly glad that Ron Fournier worked at befriending Tyler and the article certainly shows that Tyler was almost ecstatic over developing that friendship.
One thought that persisted in my head as I read the article and tried relating it to myself was Tyler and Ron were very lucky that the resources were available to them to overcome the raw deal that Aspergers gave them. So many parents and kids of lesser means do not have those resources not because they don't exist but as a simple fact of economic life in 21st century America. The medications and therapies for Tyler and his parents are expensive and I wouldn't even hazard a guess as to what all of that cost the family or some insurer but they had the resources available and they were able to take advantage of them. I am happy for them. But I still wonder about poor kids and poor families, will the opportunities that the Fourniers had available be lost to those kids simply as a fact of economic life? Will those children be lost to our society simply because the powers that be are more concerned with the acquisition of wealth and the protection of that wealth from the tax collector? Are the aspies, as they are called to be lost to us as a society because of greed and avarice? I certainly hope that isn't the case.
And of course there is no way to quantify the impact that Ron Fornier's connection with powerful people such as two former presidents of the US had on the development of his son.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving Stuff.

Thanksgiving is an interesting  time of year. Stuff happens around this national holiday. Thanksgiving is a mixture of gratitude for what we have and hope that our lives will continue to get better. This holiday is the closest thing we have to a national holiday that celebrates the cultural of the European settlers/invaders of this continent. Sometimes the unexpected happens. For instance the dinner with friends to celebrate this holiday was continued to today and continued again because of injuries and the flu. At least we know the turkey will be thawed.
Former neighbors stop by to hang out and that's fun. Then another comes by and a discussion ensues about stuff. Then a newer neighbor stops by and there are more discussions about stuff. Meanwhile I just about got blown off the road by some clown who is absolutely convinced he can control his vehicle at a speed significantly in excess of the 25 mile limit in this residential neighborhood where there are large numbers of people standing around. I am thankful I moved further onto the shoulder. The discussions continue about stuff.
One of the things I remember about this informal and unplanned visitation was that one of the attendees had bumper stickers on his vehicle. One sticker read Uncle Sam wants you to learn ENGLISH. That was not part of the stuff that was discussed. It did make me remember however that the first European immigrants to these shores didn't bother to learn the language of the native people they found already here.
We also didn't discuss that modern day capitalism is essentially a wealth redistribution mechanism that mostly operates from pretty close to the bottom upward. The extremely wealthy among us continue to suck up the meager earnings of their poorer fellows and reject their basic human need for health care. There has been much talk recently about the giant retailer Wal-Mart and Sam's Club. The CEO of the company makes a salary so large that when broken down to an hourly figure is more than a thousand times the hourly salary of floor employees of his warehouse stores. The employees are mostly part time employees and as such aren't entitled to little goodies like health care. I bet the CEO has pretty good health care plan, perhaps it even qualifies as Cadillac plan.
I was criticizing a tweet yesterday I believe by someone who was touting Hillary Clinton as the Dem nominee for President in 2016. My criticism of that tweet is that the second Obama term hasn't even begun yet. There is plenty to time for us to select a nominee after we finish what is really important: governing. We need to finish the stuff we started to do in 09 and making big strides and hopefully completing more stuff and accomplishing more in our struggle promised by Jefferson and other enlightenment figures to further democratize the society.
I did have some really good pie too.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Happy Birthday Durval.

November 19th would be his 60th birthday. He was my spring and the first savior of my life and he died in my arms on a warm evening on the last day of spring in 1990. He devoted the ten years of our lives together to me in all things. It will always have been my great privilege and perhaps my ultimate calling to have been his Simon Cyrene. At his side I learned so much about life, love, living and loving.

I leave my thoughts, my laughter,
my dreams
to you whom I have treasured
beyond gold and precious gems.

Fear not nor grieve at my departure,
you whom I have loved so much,
for my roots and yours
are forever intertwined. --Edward Hays

Hopefully I learned enough from him that I will always treat the people whom it is my privilege to love now with the same love and respect that he treated me up until his last breath. Need I say that there is a vast space in my heart filled with everything that I learned from him I miss him so very much.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Let's Not Secede---Let's Experiment with Democracy.

I have noticed that since the 2012 election cycle has been over that there has been renewed talk about secession. This interests me not because I am a proponent of secession. I am not. I am however a proponent of democracy and I believe in participatory democracy. I suspect the noise about secession has roots in peoples' disappointment over the results of this past election which I personally believe in the most important election of modern America since the election of 1932. There are several impediments to democracy right now not the least of which is the size of our Nation. The 2010 census tells us that there are more than 360 million of us. When this system was designed there were fewer than five million of us and two million of us were owned by some small percentage of the remaining three million. They certainly weren't permitted to vote, even if they gained the benefit of manumission. Women were not permitted to vote by any of the thirteen original members of the Union. People (men) who paid no taxes and who owned no property were not permitted to vote. We have seen over the last year as we  prepared for this past election that we cannot seen to govern ourselves with 18th century technology in our electoral system.
There have been heinous attempts to cure non-existent problems such as 'voter impersonation' with laws that have the effect of depriving people of what no one can deny is a fundamental right, the right to vote. There have been restrictions on one thing that might help, early voting and voting by mail. Some states such as Oregon and Washington have eliminated old fashioned 'go to the polls and vote' system in favor of a one hundred percent vote by mail system. Vermont has a system of town meetings the decisions of which have the force of law.
We have the technology to conduct elections electronically and the means to guarantee that no can subvert the election by surreptitious tinkering around with the electoral system. Smaller communities like the one I live in could easily enact a system of town meetings for self governance. The city of Los Angeles in years past experimented with smaller neighborhood councils and even the judicial council of California which runs our statewide judicial system experimented with locally based small claims courts. We need to think about this stuff. We could certainly have small test areas for a new process of democratically governing ourselves. It will cause no harm and may even be beneficial.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Cold Early Morning

The santanas are beginning to blow and the air temperature is down in the region of the thermometer that scares native-born Californians such as myself. I look out the window and see leaves being blown off my plum tree. It's time to harvest the last of the leaves of my lemon pepper plant which is being beaten sideways along with the remaining bloom on my Georgia Peace rose bush, its leaves being torn asunder along with the leaves of its fellows in the rose bed. My oak tree and those of my neighbors are being freed of seemingly millions of acorns adorning them in great bunches which drop to the ground in a great botanical attack on the earth. The native peoples of the Santa Ana Mountains explained these great attacks by acorns as the promise of a wet winter to come. It may be the promise of global warming.
Rupert is confused and scared and he's cold and the wind makes noise and Rupert hates noise and he is bewildered by the senseless motion of the plants outside his favorite window. He hovers close to a little space heater so that he can warm up sufficiently to make the dash from the heater to the warmth of my now abandoned bed and to dive beneath the covers where he will hang out and sleep until feline biology requires he make the frigid journey to his cat box. He will then warm up again and return to the comfort of his daytime sleeping place.
The no longer venerable Los Angeles Times reports that southland temperatures are tanking and winds increasing and it warns of the possibility of freeways being frozen over for the early morning commute and the return late at night today and for tomorrow's early morning commute. Southern California has a promised visitation from black ice a phenomenon usually only found on our roads in the far northern reaches of the state and on mountain roads in the Sierra and other high ranges of California.
Our local firefighters have been summoned into action by the wailing of the ancient World War II civil defense siren sitting on top of the firehall. The reason for its wailing as yet unknown. Perhaps it is cleaning up an early morning traveler laid out on the road, perhaps it is a medical aid. Hopefully it is not a fire. Time will tell.
But thanks be to the Great Provider there is Coffee. I crave it. I need it. It humanizes me. I shall drink it and warm my innards and fire up my soul.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Why is Marco Rubio Heading for Iowa?

The 2012 election was held only five days ago. Barack Obama won for those of you who haven't picked up on that yet. Apparently Marco Rubio is on of those who hasn't Today the not so venerable LA Times reports that Marco Rubio is heading for Iowa next week  to put in an appearance. Sounds like he's the first GOPer to try to replace President Obama when he's termed out in January of 2017. Rubio has an interesting history as a tea bagger supported candidate for the US Senate and then as the junior senator from Florida. What I am curious about is what religious platform is he going to run on? Will he run as a Catholic, a Mormon, or a Baptist. He has been all three. This ought to be interesting. He hasn't even allowed for a decent mourning interval after the shellacking Romney got. I guess what this really means is that the rancid right wing in America will continue to wage jihad on Obama. Strap yourselves in folks this is going to be another E Ticket ride.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

My Thoughts on the 2012 Election.

For those of you who are wondering why I have been silent about the results of our 2012 election I can only say that my silence is simply because I haven't until now figured out what to say about it. It was most interesting for sure both in its results and its implications for the future of the GOP both here in California and nationally to say nothing of its implications for freedom in America. It has huge implications for the future of our Nation and for the sacred obligation of its citizens to create a 'more perfect union' as expressed in the preamble to our Constitution. I discovered a most interesting article this morning in the Prospect written by Harold Meyerson entitled the Future of the White Man's Party. I encourage everyone to read it. It is an eyeopener and it is based on those things called facts that the GOP stubbornly refuses to acknowledge exist.
I remember the night four years ago that Barack Obama was elected. The sheer joy that ran through the Nation and buoyed the progressive population was simply electric. There was finally hope for our people. Hope for our Nation. I was so excited by that election that I half expected sparks to fly when I reached out to touch anything. Finally it appeared that America had outdone itself and was beginning to put its racist and genocidal past (yes racist and genocidal) to rest in a potter's field and there would soon be closure. We had finally turned the corner. I should have realized that that was not true and that I was being very naive. it was merely a repaired section in the bumpy road to the democratization of the Nation. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) quickly announced that it was the intention of the GOP in the Senate to make sure Obama would be a one term president, some sort of political fluke. The Dems in the House which they had controlled since 2006 were dominated by Blue Dogs and even though they had elected a 'San Francisco liberal' to be Speaker were scared of their own shadows and fearful of rocking the boat they were partying aboard and every time one of the GOP barked they jumped and looked over their shoulders in fear for their careers. They complained openly that they had to be very scared because if they got turned out they couldn't help Obama and everything went downhill from there. They forgot the words of Franklin Roosevelt in the darkest days of the Great Depression that the only thing we had to fear was fear itself. The GOP caucus in the Senate objected to everything the inexperienced president proposed and much of President Obama's Hope Agenda was stalled and starved in that body. Each and every member of the GOP caucus in the Senate had to approve of every item, seemingly even bathroom breaks, or the modern day equivalent of the filibuster broke out. After 2010 the House buried every piece of progressive legislation. If by chance something got passed by the House it got filibustered to death in the Senate. Barack Obama's legislative successes were few and were earned by the sweat and tears of the president, his staff and few progressives both in and outside of government.
As the just finished election cycle wore on the GOP and their anonymous financiers invented potential scandal and controversies out of nothingness and offered it up to the American people. They posited serial incredible ancient conspiracies dating back almost fifty years to a have a 'poo' black child from Kenya' elected President of the US. They dreamed up incredible nightmarish situations some of their spokesmen and intellectual leaders fueled by oxycontin addictions denigrated this man as 'one of them' in a cosmic battle between “us and them”. They sent racist emails around the globe arguing that they weren't racist but that they were 'only jokes'. They allied themselves with fundamental religionists who believe that the Bible was written by the hand of god and that every single thing in it was true, even the contradictory parts. They called him a Muslim because we hated Muslims and then some of the same people with straight faces called him an atheist because we hated atheists. He was a socialist. He was a communist. He was whatever we hated the most on any given day. A few even tried to call him a homosexual. They did everything they could to destroy this man and his presidency. American politics engineered by BSCs became very ugly. Then the campaign for the soul of America got into high gear and everything got worse. Lies were told and those lies were picked up by the organs of hate and were retold and retold again until they became true in the minds of people susceptible to being lied to. State legislatures in the so-called swing states that had been captured in the 2010 election enacted laws to make it more difficult for people to vote that acted disproportionately upon people, mostly of color, who tended to vote as Democrats. They cut back on innovative ways to increase citizen participation in the electoral process such as early voting and voting by mail. They installed defective voting machines in precincts that tended to vote democratic. Not all those machines were defective just a few. They set about to steal another election like they did in 2000 and then again in 2004. Their agents in such sterling hate groups and the National Organization for Marriage and the Family Research Council screamed to anyone who would listen their crazed idea that marriage needs to be restricted to only good heterosexual people and that unless it was so limited those nasty evil homosexuals would be on their way to your city, your neighborhood intent on breaking up your marriage and courting and marrying your son or your daughter. This was their great wedge issue designed to bring out huge hordes of BSCs from the woodwork like so many voracious termites to vote against their own interests and to put the GOP back in total control of my government and to control the judiciary for decades to come. They even involved the US Conference of Catholic Bishops who to a man bemoaned that mandating coverage for family planning in the AHA was somehow depriving those medieval lords of their right to practice their religion.
Finally America got through what Joe Biden called malarkey and I call bullshit and election day dawned and America voted. The result of that election was earthshaking. Barack Obama won a majority in the popular vote and is poised to earn 62% of the electoral college vote when Florida gets its malarkey together and finally finishes counting votes cast in the democratic counties such as Miami-Dade. The GOP spinmeisters and its chief propaganda organs such as Fox News called it a squeaky win instead of what it really was, a landslide.
The President's coattails extended far and wide and the BSCs such as Todd Akin in Missouri a man totally ignorant of human biology was defeated, Richard Mourdock who asserted that pregnancies resulting from rape were “God's will” were defeated and sent packing. Both Connie Mack in Florida and his wife Mary Bono Mack in California were sent packing. The Democrats increased their membership in the Senate and are now in a position to finally end the filibuster in the Senate and restore that body to a majoritarian body as intended by the drafters of our Constitution. No one expected the Democrats to increase their membership in the House but they did and I suspect but for the evil of gerrymandering after the 2010 census would have taken over the House.
In California after reapportionment by a citizens' commission the Democrats prevailed in legislative elections so that that come the new legislative session they will have super majorities in both the Assembly and the State Senate. If other states had reapportionment by similar citizens' commissions free of partisan influence and incumbent protection I suspect the Dems would have taken over the house and retired the likes of John Boehner and Eric Cantor and yes even Paul Ryan and Michelle Bachmann.
Perhaps the most astounding change in the last four years has been in the area of civil rights. For the first time in history marriage equality has been enacted by popular vote. Not just in one state but in four states: Maine, Minnesota, Maryland and Washington. Massachusetts has become the 18th state in the union to allow marijuana use for medical purposes and in two states, Colorado and Washington, marijuana has been legalized for recreational use. As Bob Dylan intoned so many years ago “the times they are a changin.”
People power is alive and well in America. And no, Mr. Romney, corporations are not people.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Salvation Is at Hand!

The formerly venerable Los Angeles Times reports tonight that Bruce Springsteen has granted parole to governor Chris Christie and allowed him out of the doghouse in Asbury Park. When I read that I wondered if that was Christie's price for his effusive praise of President Obama over the federal disaster response to Hurricane Sandy after  it ravaged New Jersey last week. There is a picture of the backsides of the Boss and the President with Obama's hand centered squarely on Bruce's back that accompanies  the article. It reminded me very much of pictures I have seen depicting  Lyndon Johnson arm-twisting during his years in the White House. If that was Christie's price it was a good move on his part because by poking Myth Romney in the eye the way he did last week he has probably found himself on the outside of the inner workings of the GOP looking in, much like a starving man might stare at the window-seated customers consuming sumptuous dinners in a fancy restaurant. Now he can at least console himself with having spoken with the Boss.
According to the report in the Times Springsteen was in the conference room aboard Air Force One seated at the table across from the President of the United States who was then speaking to Christie. Obama told Christie that he had someone who wanted to speak to him and handed the phone to Bruce.  The rest is history. The Boss commented later that the ride with the President on Air Force One was 'pretty cool.'  For a wordsmith like Springsteen that was a  rather large understatement I think. For his part Christie lost no time in announcing at his own press gaggle that he had indeed finally spoken with Bruce Springsteen. All good things do come to those who wait.
Reading that article today made me think that it might be interesting to replace the current Democratic anthem with a new one such as Bruce's rendition of When Saints Go Marching In that appears on his Live in Dublin  album.  The opening line of that old  American spiritual reminds us that "we are all traveling in the footsteps of those who've come before." A very fine answer to the boastful and arrogant  BS of the campaign now fading into the past that "I built that."

More Big Time Politic$ Goes Country

I went down to the local eatery this morning to have breakfast and schmooze with some of my neighbors and on the way stopped at the post office and picked up my mail. Among the offerings in my box was a really nasty personal and anonymous attack piece that has to take some kind of award for dirty personalized and corrupt political offerings mailed at the last moment in the hope that it will turn the election at a time when it is too late for anyone to counter lies and half truths contained in it. I have previously written about the expensive multi color brochure that they mailed to the voters of this district. This district has when I last checked two weeks ago 1219 registered voters. You can read my rant here.
As is true of many political pieces it urged the recipient to vote and even begged the recipient to “PLEASE VOTE” in upper case bolded font. It then offered a ballot. A fake ballot which listed only one candidate: Chay Peterson in a bolded font next to an unchecked box. Below that there was another box checked in red ink and associated with the legend “ANYBODY ELSE”. Keep in mind that there are four other names on the real ballot
To the left of the fake ballot was a list of six grievances expressed by the unnamed coward who mailed this piece of crap. All of which offenses had been going on according to the cowardly author “for years” claiming that not Chay but “obstructive organizations” again in bolded font “have controlled the canyon voice” as though this so-called canyon voice was the voice of god herself and then listed the grievances/accomplishments of those 'obstructive organizations' and faulted them for many things. For not adding one square foot of parkland 'for our future.' Talk about meaningless buzz words. It accused those same unidentified organizations of closing our local school--even though that school the last time I checked had been closed by the local school board (if by local you mean downtown) and claimed in conclusionary language that those organizations were obstructing 'community collaboration' and that they depressed home values by 'fighting reasonable and responsible use of privately held properties.' As though voicing and working against fake wineries, weekend wedding chapels along Santiago Canyon road and the coming to town of monasteries and private schools to educate the rich and powerful along with the concomitant overburdening of our existing infrastructure somehow made my residence and those of my neighbors less valuable. They claim those organizations have polarized the community. Well if the cowardly author looked around him he would find polarization has become a way of life in this community, this county, this state and this Nation. Polarization was not invented by those shadowy 'obstructive organizations' he claims exist in this community. Our cowardly author claims that the same groups have destroyed relationships with unspecified governmental agencies in characteristically unspecified ways. Again with no facts alleged and certainly none proven.
The kicker in this fetid piece of political malarkey as Joe Biden would call it was in the penultimate complaint that they “have disrespected our elected officials.” Oh boy! Since when has it been disrespectful to tell the truth or the perceived truth about someone elected to public office? Since when is political criticism un-American? Since when is it sinful politically to call out an elected official who is corrupt or the tool of special interests? Or simply terminally stupid. So based on this nonsense, malarkey and political BS the unnamed and cowardly author of this hit piece urges its recipients to vote for “anybody else” anyone but Chay Peterson.
Everyone in this Nation is entitled to speak his or her mind, to hold and to express his or her opinion well taken and well reasoned or not but in my view if you want to express an opinion you should have the cojones to stand up in the light of day and sign your name to it. Own it people, own it.