Archive for February, 2010

Blah!  This state can be so frustrating to live in sometimes.  Such as this past Tuesday, when our wonderful state representatives decided to vote the latest legislation regarding the state’s constitution down:

Bill To Rewrite Constitution Killed

Heck, the bill didn’t even call for a constitutional convention.  It just called for a referendum to be placed on the next general election ballot to allow voters to decide whether or not we should call a convention.  But apparently even that idea is too wild and “progressive” for most Alabama representatives to handle.  I guess they don’t trust the voters to do the “right” thing.  The status quo is much too important to protect for these folks.  They can’t risk letting the people decide.  They must think that they are smarter than the rest of us.  Considering their own intelligence, that is an insult of epic proportions!  Do you realize how stupid we must all be if those folks are all smarter?  We must not be just dumb, we are all Sarah Palin dumb!

Opponents argue that a convention would be dominated by special interests, and lead to tax increases and legalized gambling.  I would argue that even if those were valid points for being opposed to a convention, they are not valid points for being opposed to a referendum regarding a convention.  Allow the vote, make those same points, let proponents of the convention make their points, and then let the voter decide.  What could be more democratic than that?  (The funny thing is based on other votes we have had in this state, any argument that makes a claim that something will lead to tax increases, regardless of how flimsy that argument may be, will almost always get that something defeated.  If the convention were to lose on a referendum, I would think that would kill the issue.  It would be hard to argue for a constitutional convention when opponents can simply say that the people do not want it and here’s proof!  But I guess as long as measures to even getting a vote are being defeated 58-32, the people who don’t want a new constitution figure why bother.  It’s not even close to getting on the ballot.  And even if it does long down the road, then the tax argument is a fallback strategy.)

Alabama’s constitution has been amended over 800 times.  That fact alone tells me that the document is fundamentally flawed.  Could special interests dominate a convention?  Yes.  But special interests dominate the current government now and are largely able to do so because of the current constitution that concentrates power at Montgomery.  We really have nothing to lose in that regard.  (Besides, in this context, when convention opponents use the term “special interests”, they are simply talking about any group that disagrees with them.)  Could taxes go up?  Yes, though if you rewrite the Constitution, you could make it whatever you want it to be in regards to taxes.  But considering how regressive our state tax system is, and the freebies that many special interests get, then yes, it would probably go up for certain groups.  That’s because it should to be fair and equitable.  Will it allow for gambling?  Maybe, maybe not.  Let the people decide.

Really this is probably just a waste of space.  The chances that this state will get a new constitution is less than the chances that President Obama and Dick Cheney will hug out their differences!

I wrote about our need for a new constitution before.  Nobody listened to me then either!

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Well it sounded good on paper.   A dialogue between people with opposing points of view coming together to solve one of the nation’s biggest problems.  But instead…

“It’s a Kabuki dance,” Robert Schmuhl, a political scientist at Notre Dame and author of Statecraft and Stagecraft, says of the summit. “Throughout the day, participants talked past each other to such an extent that the ‘summit’ was closer to a molehill of familiar stump speeches.”

The quote above apparently pretty much sums of the events of the day at the health care summit.  No dialogue.  No open minds.  Just the same talking points we have been hearing for a year now.  Really this result is not unexpected.  Technically the dialogue that was suppose to happen today COULD happen virtually every day on the House and Senate floors.  Heck, you even have the C-Span coverage.  You wouldn’t have the President, but of course he has advocates in both houses so his presence is not necessary.  If anyone was interested in solving the problem, honest open discussions could take place without a “summit”.  (To be fair, this is the type of discussion that should take place at the beginning of the process, not the end.  Perhaps Obama should have done this a whole lot sooner.  But it would still been the same gang involved, so it is doubtful it would have been any more fruitful then.  And once again, these discussions could have taken place without an “official” summit.)

Nope, not happening, not in our political system.  With the two-party system, it is always simply a competition for power.  Just two teams going up against each other.  Problem solving is not the goal, winning is.  Our system is simply unable to solve a problem as complicated as health care.  Our health care system is going to collapse eventually, it’s just a matter of when.  But I guess we always have to wait for the bubble to actually burst before we can realize how big a problem really is.  This is why people choose not to participate in our political system.  Really, if somebody says “what’s the point?”, I don’t really have a good rebuttal.

I do have a couple of other things that is bothering me.  Republicans keep insisting on taking small incremental steps to solving this problem.  Do they really believe that what’s even in the Democrat’s bill comes close to being the total solution?  The system needs an overhaul, not a few little tweaks.  So I guess there isn’t even any agreement on the magnitude of the problem.  No wonder we aren’t getting anywhere.  The other thing that is bothering me is the use of parliamentary procedures.  Why is it OK for one side to use a parliamentary procedure to block legislation, while it goes beyond the pale for the other side to use a different parliamentary procedure to push the same legislation through?  What’s the difference?

Oh, one more thing that is bothering me.  I just accidentally clicked on an Ann Coulter column.  The column is mostly stupid.  I mean, it’s Ann Coulter, that’s pretty much her gimmick.  But then there were parts (small parts) that made sense.  She pointed out that a bill has passed the House and a bill has passed the Senate.  If either house would simply just vote for the other bill, it would become law.  And Democrats have majorities in both houses.  So Democrats are really the ones blocking the bill, not Republicans.  Democrats, do you see what you have done?  You made Ann Coulter right!  Do you realize how retarded (yeah, I said it) you all have to be to make Ann Coulter right?  I am pretty sure Ann Coulter being right about anything is a sign of the apocalypse.   See Democrats, you have ended the world!  No sleep for me tonight!

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Give credit where credit is due, I think most politicians would have cut bait on health care reform if they were in Obama’s position.  But Obama is going to give it one more go, and try to use a health care summit Thursday to springboard his way to some sort of legislation.  Granted, Obama has stuck his neck so far out for health care reform, he may feel that at this point he is “pot committed” and has nothing much to lose anymore.  Still I think conventional wisdom would say that politically it would be best for Obama to pull the plug much like Clinton did with his own health care reform attempt and regroup.  But I think Obama realizes that we have to do something about health care and doesn’t want to start all over, or worse, continue to ignore the problem.

I like the fact that Obama has called for a summit between both sides.  I like the fact that this discussion will be televised.  More of the public’s business should be done in public, not behind closed doors.  It boggles my mind that so many Republicans apparently believe that such a public discussion is a “trap”.  Why?  How?  Even if somehow this is some sort of  evil darkside “trap” (the guy’s middle name is Hussein, it has to be a trap!), won’t the American public be able to determine that since it is being held out in the open?  Regardless of the ultimate outcome, I just don’t see how a public dialogue can be a bad thing.

Obama plans to post his proposal online on Monday.  He has challenged Republicans to do the same.  Republicans, you should take up this challenge.  This is your chance to prove that you are not the party of “no”.  It would be great to see the Republicans post a comprehensive plan, instead of just a few ideas.  These two plans could be the starting point for the summit, as they could compare the two plans and see if there are any common ideas.  Ideally there would be some give and take on the other ideas, and something could be hammered-out.

At least that would be nice to see.  But realistically, and it has been this way for a while, the party that is in power sees its role as doing whatever it needs to do to stay in power.  The party that is not in power sees its role as doing whatever it needs to do to regain power.  Actual problem solving is at best a secondary concern, if it is a concern at all.  So what we will probably actually see is the same political bickering and posturing that we have seen during this debate this whole past year.  And Obama will continue to be banging his head against a wall.  Soon we will be back to discussing “real” issues, like whether Obama bows too much or whether he uses the term “war” enough or not.

But at least he’s trying to address a serious issue here!

2/23 Update:  Here is a link to the President’s proposal:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/health-care-meeting/proposal

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Can President Palin Happen?

Posted: February 18, 2010 in Politics
Tags: ,

I had written at the time of Palin’s resignation of the Alaska governorship that I thought Palin’s political career was over.  But recently that seed of doubt had been slowly creeping back into my mind (pretty much in the form of nightmares that would frighten Freddy Kruger!).  Some of the pieces of the puzzle that would make a Palin presidency possible seemed to falling into place in my eyes.

Obama looks to be extremely vulnerable.  Right now he has all the look of a single-term guy.  Now personally he has disappointed me with his handling of the terrorism and foreign policy.  Ignore the rhetoric and look at the actual actions and it is clear that all-in-all Obama has pretty much adopted the Bush/Cheney philosophy (all the while still getting ripped by Cheney anyway; what an insane world we live in).  But while that may annoy some in Obama’s base, that’s not really why he is trouble.  Most Americans don’t care about the occupations, at least not enough that it will influence their vote.  No, Obama is in trouble for two reasons.  First, unemployment is sky-high.  And second, Obama has wasted an incredible amount of political capital on health care reform without anything to show for it.

Tackling health care reform is a good thing from a ‘right thing to do’ perspective.  But it is not a good thing politically.  This is mainly because the health care industry has major influence in Congress, and they do not want change.  The President really doesn’t have much power to change anything regarding health care, it has to be Congress.  So going after health care as President does about as much good as banging your head against a wall.  Just ask Bill Clinton.  So not only does health care not get fixed, but as an added bonus, Obama looks ineffective.  (I am pretty convinced at this point that we will do nothing for health care until the whole thing just collapses.  Not the best way to handle a problem, but whatever.)  Additionally, with the high unemployment, he will certainly be painted as being focused on the wrong issue.  (Of course, things can change.  In fact, time is on Obama’s side in this regard.  If unemployment turns around, Obama could look like a hero, whether or not anything he actually does leads to the turnaround or not.)

So I see Obama kind of floundering.  And then you look to the other side.  Who do they have?  It sure does look like Palin is the biggest star of the Republican Party.  Then I see her make her speeches in front of these crowds screaming “run, Sarah, run”.  I am thinking, wow, maybe she really has a chance.  Weak incumbent, opposing party with no one else to turn to, and suddenly Sarah freakin’ Palin flukes her way into the Presidency.

But I forgot one thing.  The “Tea Party” is not mainstream America.  When she is making her speeches, she is just preaching to her own choir.  Recent poll numbers back this up:

http://abcnews.go.com/PollingUnit/poll-tea-party-shows-prospects-sarah-palin/story?id=9800379

71% of those polled do not think she is qualified to be President.  Only 29% of independents polled think she is qualified.  Maybe most importantly, even 52% of Republicans polled do not think she is qualified.  Reading around on some blogs, I have read some that have said that she has become “Dan Quayle-ized”, and this is from bloggers that support her.

Whew!  I think the analogy with Dan Quayle is right.  I know I feel better.  No President Palin means no Canadian gesvol, aye!  I don’t think I could handle running in the Canadian cold!

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I participated in the Mercedes Marathon Relay today.  I ran the last leg, which is 12k in distance (about 7.5 miles).  Under ordinary circumstances, this is something I should have been able to handle without that much of a problem.  Unfortunately the circumstances were not ordinary.

About a month ago, I did a training run of 7.6 miles on a Sunday followed by another 4.5 miles on a Monday.  This was following a week of treadmill running due to unusually cold weather in Alabama.  I know some people can run on the treadmill just fine, but I hate the treadmill, so I could only manage 30-40 minutes before I was just too bored to continue.  And thus I broke the cardinal rule of running, don’t radically change your training routine in a short amount of time.  The price I paid was that Tuesday I had a good amount of pain in my right foot.  To further exacerbate the situation, even though my foot hurt, I went ahead and ran on it two more times (another training no-no).  By the time Saturday had rolled around, I could barely walk (Sadly, even then,  I was literally getting ready to run on that day.  Fortunately my running partner canceled, and I at least had the good sense not to go out after that.)  After a day of limping severely, it finally sunk in to my thick skull that this was not sustainable.  So I took some time off.

After a few days, my foot was feeling better.  Out of precaution though, I decided instead of running on it, I would do cross-training (something called “active rest” in running circles).  I used the elliptical machine that we have in the gym at work.  This worked out well the first couple of times.  However, the third time something happened and I was back to limping.  At this time, I decided I needed to seek a doctor.  So I got an appointment which wasn’t until a week later, and in the meantime I did nothing.  Once again, the foot starts feeling better.  The doctor takes a x-ray and looks at my foot.  He decides that it probably is not major, and clears me to run the race and then take time off (provided there was no additional pain and no swelling).

Of course, this is good news for me, because I really wanted to run this race and I had already paid my non-refundable fee.  Plus since this was a team thing, I didn’t want to let them down.  So I start to run again to get ready.  But here was the problem.  At this point, I only had two weeks to get ready and had done very little running in the prior three weeks or so.  This is where pride got in the way.  The sensible thing to do would have been to switch to a shorter leg.  There were people on the team capable of doing the longer leg.  The hard-headed thing to do would be to just ignore the fact that I wasn’t ready and try it anyway.  And since I am hard-headed, well…..

This all leads up to today.  Let me tell you, I was living Murphy’s Law today, if it could have gone wrong, it did!  First, I get out of the apartment later than I had intended.  In the rush, I forgot my water bottle and my watch.  Then after handing the team their bibs, I go back to the car to drop off the bag.  In the course of doing that, I miss the last shuttle van to exchange point #1.  But I figure, hey that’s OK, exchange point #4 (which was mine) is almost at the same location, I will just catch a van to that.  That seemed like a good idea anyway.  But it became clear there were a lot more people wanting to use the vans than there were seats on the vans.  And they were not even running shuttles to #4 yet.  Not being patient, I walked (quickly) to the exchange point (excellent for keeping the legs fresh, right?).  During all this time, I am not staying hydrated at all.

So I get to the exchange area, and I wait.  Hey, even I can’t screw that up….oh wait, yes I can!  See, I underestimated my team.  So when my teammate comes running up, where am I?  Of course I’m in the porta potty (in fairness, I really needed to go!).  So I come out of the porta potty and there is my teammate standing there all out of breath holding the baton.  I let out an “oh shoot!” (or something to that effect ;)) and grab the baton and take off.  It goes good for a couple of miles.  Then I start having spasms in both legs.  I NEVER have spasms when I run.  I try to run through it.  Then my left hamstring starts to tighten up.  I NEVER have hamstring problems either.  It gets to the point that I have to stop and stretch it.  I do that and go again.

Pretty much at this point, it’s all a struggle.  Spasms, hamstring, spasms, hamstring.  I’m pretty miserable.  I continue along, slowly.  Then at about mile 25, I get an awful cramp in my right calf.  It’s so bad, I go down on the street.  Fortunately I was near a water station, and race workers rushed over to help me massage it out,  and give me some water and a banana.  I get up and at this point I am mostly walking.  Any time I attempted to run, something would begin to tighten up.  I start to wonder if I am going to even make it to the finish line.

Finally I do get some good fortune.  My good friend, training partner, and teammate Lael had stuck around and had walked back up the course.  She jumps out on the course to help me to the finish line.  I even managed to run a little more with her encouragement.  It did feel good to get to the end!  (Sorry Lael for being such a Debbie Downer there.  Your positivity was very appreciated!)

So I DID make it.  But I will never, never, never run another race that I am not ready for ever again.  I run for fun, not to torture myself!  But as the saying goes, you live and you learn!

I am not sure it is fair to make comments about the race itself.  I was miserable.  But there were a ton of people watching and shouting out encouragement, that was fun.  The shirts and medals we got are very cool!   In fact, despite how I felt during the race, I know it is great.  Next year, for whatever I choose to run, I WILL be ready and it will be a blast!  I have to say that the team I was on was the best team ever!  They knocked it out of the park.  Had I done my job, we would have had an awesome time!  Good thing that the times will be split, so we will have a record of how well they did.  Sorry I didn’t do better!

So what are my plans?  First, and most importantly, get 100% healthy!  But next, and I will say this because I know Lael let the cat out of the bag on her blog, Lael and I “may” be training for a half marathon in the fall.  I am so looking forward to that!  But only if I am ready! 😉

(Hey, how about this as a final kick in the pants?  I just discovered that I lost one of my gloves that I just bought this past Tuesday.  Perfect!  Just perfect!)

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This is just gold.  Only in Alabama:

http://www.digtriad.com/news/thebuzz/story.aspx?storyid=137233&catid=259

Birmingham, AL — An Alabama Waffle House is going all out this Valentines Day.

“You know everyone is used to going to fancy places like Red Lobster or Golden Corral, if you have that here,” says manager Lonnie Hamilton. “Not everyone wants to go to those fancy places and we wanted to bring more of a home feeling to the Waffle House.”

On February 14, the Moody, Alabama Waffle House will tranform to an intimate and romantic atmosphere.  The tables will be covered with red linen tablecloths.  The restaurant will be lit with candlelight.  The waiters and waitresses will all wear button down shirts.

The restaurant did a similiar Valentine’s Day special last year and managers expect this year to be even better.  Hamilton says that reservations are already coming in.

“We just want to give you that home feeling, you know what I’m saying? That more cozy and intimate feeling for Valentine’s Day at the Waffle House.”

So much to love here:

  • Waffle House, the alternative to fancy places.  You know, like Red Lobster and Golden Corral!  LOL!!!!!
  • The down home, cozy feeling of….Waffle House?  (I mean, she is the manager, she has to have actually been in a Waffle House, right?)
  • Somehow I think even with the candle lights and red linen tablecloths, it is still a Waffle House.
  • The waiters and waitresses will be wearing button down shirts.  Uh-oh, don’t you risk losing that home, cozy feeling!?  (Should I make a joke that wife-beaters and trashy tube tops may be more appropriate?)
  • I don’t know what is more funny to me, the idea that people are making reservations for….Waffle House?  Or the idea that somewhere there is somebody that is going to be unable to make a reservation for….Waffle House?….because it is all booked up!  ‘Honey, I am so sorry.  I really wanted to do something special for Valentine’s Day.  But the Waffle House is booked solid!  It’s OK, though, I am going to make it up to you.  That’s right, tonight we are going to get two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun!  That’s right, ALL of that! Only the best for you honey, I love you so much!’

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Well it sure looks like she had something written on her hand.  See for yourself.

I guess that way she would at least avoid using her standby answer of “all of them”!  It probably wouldn’t be so funny if she hadn’t criticized Obama for using a teleprompter that very same night!

Oh, and here is some Palin wisdom from this morning:

So there you go Obama.  You want to win in 2012, start an unprovoked war with Iran!  And do whatever you can to support the people.  Not our people mind you, but the Israeli people you were elected to represent…oh wait.

The ball is in your court Mr. Obama.  Saracudda just gave you some advice, and she didn’t even charge you $100,000 for it!

Edit:  Just read this from the The Washington Post:

She had on three opera-length strands of pearls, two white and one multi-colored. In her lapel, a small pin with two flags — for Israel and the United States.

A pin of the Israeli flag?   What the heck?  I was half-joking when I said that she wanted Obama to serve Israel.  Now I am not so sure!

Edit again:  OK, I swear this will be the last update, but this just gets better and better.  Here is a close-up of what was on Palin’s hand.

In case you can’t read that, the list is:  energy, budget tax cuts, lift American spirits.  Really?  These are the things she didn’t think she could remember?  Wow!  I mean, I can understand having notes (though I think I would have just used note cards).  But you would think those notes would be more sophisticated than that.  Doesn’t she hit these simple points in every speech she ever makes?  And people out there want her to be President?

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