Friday, February 25, 2011

Thinking Big

Wow, I just got really passionate on Facebook about something political, something that will surely bite my ass.  But it really chaps my ass even more that conservative policies over the last 30 years have put us here.  In a place where we’re cutting programs that help people.   In a place where we’re shutting doors to new ways of getting around, repealing health care solutions, and giving billions of dollars in tax breaks to millionaires.  Seriously?  This is the US everyone wants to live in?  And yet we keep electing conservatives.

Oh conservatives.  Why their appeal? The Goldwater-Reagan-Buckley conservative movement started out as an idea in the 1950s, not a party platform.  It was neither Democratic or Republican at the time.  Its appeal is that it’s a thesis.

When crises hit, people needed a thesis they could believe.  Inflation in the late 1970s, the Soviet Empire, 9-11, our current budget malaise all give conservatives the crisis they need to turn their thesis into action.  They continually take a very simple idea – no taxes – and just keep yelling it over and over again. Need to solve health care … no taxes.  Need to solve energy and car dependence issues … no taxes.  Need … well, in a desert if you can’t find true water people will drink the sand.  Conservatives are pimping sand.  Because what other vision has been presented since Reagan?  Where is my antithesis?

It’s no accident that of the last two Democratic presidents, both have been triangulators, centrists.  Gallup says there are 23 states where over 41.1% consider themselves “conservative”.   Why 41.1%.  That’s the highest percentage anywhere in the US of people claiming to be “liberal”.  Washington DC.  Vermont is next at 30%.  If conservatism and liberalism are brands, conservatism is Coca-Cola and liberalism is Pepsi (literally, out of this brand survey Coca-Cola is #1 and Pepsi is #23) Both solve your thirsty-I-need-a-beverage problem, but really, they’re in two different worlds.

What people (notice I don’t say Democrats) need is an American antithesis to conservative philosophy.  It has to be born out of today,  strong and timeless so that it doesn’t wane with the ebbs and flows of the news or political cycles.  It needs to be Buckley-an in that it needs to start in one decade and grow stronger and stronger until nobody can remember when the antithesis wasn’t the thesis. 

You would think middle class plight is strong.  Not simple.  And not big enough.

Education? Progressivism? Trains? Energy?  All passing trends.  Today’s trains could be tomorrow’s jet packs. 

Conservatism says government should be small.  It should not tax it’s people.  It’s goal is to minimize the regulation on the free market to allow entrepreneurialism.  Capital reigns.  Freedom from your government.

What we need is an antithesis.  Socialism?  Yeah, that’s about as American as … well, Kalashnikovs.  Conservatives like to go to the Constitution, let’s go there. It’s hokey, but hey this is antithesis building.  We need to go big.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Funny how it says nothing in here that lower taxes were given on high from God to George Washington.  But anyways, I need to get to the antithesis.  To promote the general Welfare, and form a more perfect Union, we need to build a City on a Hill.  No less than perfection is our attainment.  For a city on a hill cannot be built solely by the work of individuals.  And a city on a hill rises above the fray.  Would anyone say that Rome was the sum of its merchants? Of course not.  Health care doesn’t matter because it costs money or helps with a job; it matters because to build a city on a hill everyone must be healthy.  To be healthy for no other reason than to be healthy.  Profits are important, entrepreneurialism critical, but to the end that says this world is better, not wealthier.  It’s vital that we fund roads and libraries and schools, that we end violence, that everyone has a job and self-worth.  Otherwise, what is all this capitalism buying us?

The new liberalism must be a city on a hill.  The Blessings of Liberty cannot be attained if we are all shackled by the till.  Our Posterity needs a new thesis.  A thesis where everyone’s well being isn’t built on the wealthy acquiring capital. Where the metric of success isn’t the Dow Jones Industrial Average, but the success of Mr. and Mrs. Jones.  No less than a perfect civilization should be our goal.  It has nothing to do with money and everything to do with thinking big.

Clean air, great infrastructure, efficiency, access to knowledge are our goals, our blessings of freedom. Let government not be the end, but the means to the end.  Like our Constitution itself, a tool to build great things but not the only tool. 

If America is exceptional, let us be exceptional.

Let us align with the churches in the US who pray for a society Jesus would be proud of.

Let us align with the hipsters in the cities who protest for bike lanes.

Let us align with the seniors who want time with their grandchildren.

Let us align with the business people who can build this world.

No less than a ism will eradicate this funk called conservatism and save our country.  

Well shit, there goes an evening.


Only 30% of Americans have passports.  In this Tumblr article, Peter Vidani charts out the states with the highest (New Jersey) and lowest (Mississippi, West Virginia) rates of passport holders.

Interestingly, here’s a map of the 2008 election.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

American Pie

GM is announcing profits today for the first time in a decade.  The last time they announced profits, Chris Cross was telling me to Jump, Jump.

So what to do with $4.7 billion?  Well, you could repay the US taxpayer, who still owns 61% of GM.  Since the US government is having problems with its own accounts, a little check from GM would be great.

Or you could pay your 45,000 workers a $4,300 bonus and give incentives of 4 to 16 percent to 26,000 salaried workers.

This is what is killing the little guy and why the Wisconsin revolution is as future telling as the Middle Eastern one.  1) People hate that the little guy, the taxpayer, is getting the short end once again.  And  this time 2) it can weakly be attributed to unions, since the GM payouts are contractually obliged.

As a Democrat, I’ll be the first one to stand up and shout out that there needs to be a united force standing up for workers rights.  But as a taxpayer and an American wanting our country to prosper, I’m leery of the collective bargainer whose demands well exceed the average Joe. 

The Wisconsin debate and the GM press release illustrate the same forces in action.  Powerful business lobbies and union driven employee lobbies are fighting for the last pieces of pie left in America.  Whoever wins, you can be guaranteed they’ll be no slice for you and I.

Monday, February 14, 2011

She’s Coming to the Northeast

I am in a great mood today.  After repeating her brilliant and astute slogan “Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing,” throughout CPAC and beyond, Michelle Bachman has now stated (effectively) she will be running for president and as such, she will be visiting New Hampshire.  We need to be there.

The best part is when she calls trains and windmills “150 year-old technology.”  As if windmills that made electricity were common place during the Civil War.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Why Nobody Buys StateFarm Insurance

The current rave thing to do if you’re a corporation is to have people “Like” your product on Facebook.  I’ve seen it spin around a couple of times now and I’m not buying those fish.  If I start liking products that I don’t believe in just to win prizes, then my viral awesomeness can be bought and then true viral awesomeness is a little less awesome.

Anyways, then there’s StateFarm Insurance.  They’ve taken viral buzzkill to a new level.

First I read a Weezer State Farm article on Paste Magazine here.  Weezer put together a jingle for StateFarm and I was psyched to see their output. Only, the marketing geniuses at StateFarm killed the YouTube video:


Continuing their marketing prowess, StateFarm soared yesterday as well, when I got this email from GoMaine, a great advocacy group for Maine green transportation.


With no faith in their marketing abilities, why would I buy insurance from these people? 

Like a good neighbor (with no Internet skills), State Farm is there (unless you’re under 65 in which case we don’t understand your technology).

Why I spent a whole post on an insurance company rant I have no idea.

Glenn Beck outlines the death of America

Take the 12 minutes and watch the below clip.  If for nothing else than just to see how far off the deep end he’s gone.

If you don’t believe him you can go to hell (4:17)

If you believe the Director of National Intelligence, you’re dead (9:30)

Beck called 9/11 in 1999 (this must have been on morning zoo) (9:58)

The American revolution’s bloodshed was ok because it did not involve guillotines. (11:20)

“tell it to Daniel Pearl!”

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Packers vs. Steelers -- O vs. O–Entitled Bark vs. the Soft Chuckle

Many of you probably saw this interview before the game on Sunday.  This is one of those examples of clear style differences between the right and the left, or more accurately the right and the middle.  O’Reilly starts out with a sincere thank you to the administration then seamlessly (?) transitions into a point blank question that everyone knows has no answer.

Other journalists, and even opinion guys like O’Reilly, contextualize questions; they provide a framework that conveys they too have given the matter at hand some thought.  Hell, even Beck prepares for interviews, even if its writing in his own journal.   But when it comes to Egypt, Mr. O’Reilly spits his opening question out in the same tone one would ask a rude waiter for a second beer.

But this is not where the contrast between the two is most evident.  That comes after each of the President’s answers.  Now mind you, these answers are evasive and political.  They have the same vague flavor you would expect from any leader commenting on a revolution not taking place in their country.  But I would chose vague over the partisan editorializing O’Reilly uses to shift from one question to the next.  Its astounding how even though he is sitting in front of the leader of the free world, he still acts like he’s on the Factor.

And through it all the president’s signature smile.  He knows this guy is a joke but there’s the large viewership to consider.  The look on his face when O’Reilly asks him if he knows football is the same you give a child that’s asking why they have to go to bed.  If I had to guess, wearing a jacket just became the second worst part of the President’s Superbowl Sunday.

And in the mean time, someone at Fox needs to explain to Bill O’Reilly the difference between asking hard-hitting questions and acting like a hardass.


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