Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Objector Has Moved

I still get periodic comments - really only on one post - on the post titled Seven Steps to Fascism, which compared the Bush/Chenney and their governing style to the conditions under which fascism takes root. So I thought I'd pass along the more recent version of the Objector at its new home. And yes, we still dislike Republicans, banks, corporations etc.

Here is it:


Saturday, January 27, 2007

The End of the Objector

Yes folks, it is sad but true. This is the official end of the Objector. I see looking back that I wrote 108 posts over the past year or so – which seems like a lot - but I haven't written anything since the election in November, and quite honestly, I just haven't felt like it.

Although I am political - you might have noticed that I'm not a fan of President Bush - it is hard to keep grousing about one subject endlessly. I don't know how people do it for a living. I once wrote and article that was published in the Op-Ed section of the Post-Gazette. It was with no small amount of pride that I was able to call my significantly more conservative father and say, "Hey dad! I shared a page of the newspaper with Maureen Dowd. Just me and Mo all alone on a page of the Post." I don't know how people like Maureen Dowd do it year after year, although I'm sure the hefty paycheck helps with motivation.

I’m so sick of politics that I didn't even listen to the State of the Union speech last week. It wasn't going to change my mind or anything. Although, I have to confess that I did take some satisfaction in noting that Bush's poll numbers actually went down to a 30% approval rating following the speech and that 59% of Americans wished that his presidency would just end now instead of in two years. That's harsh. :-)

At any rate, I was tired of thinking about war and political cynicism and all of that. I just felt like was beating a dead horse.

Now, I know that not everything that I wrote for the Objector was political. There were forays into Western Pennsylvania roots culture – which apparently involves Jesus, beer, cigarettes, camouflage, lots of beer, gambling, hunting, at least four marriages (possibly at the same time), pork rinds, cigarettes, Jesus, pickup trucks, beer, Football, Jesus, beer and…(*whew*)… beer, Jesus and some cigarettes. There was an occasional crystal-meth driven bank robbery spree to report, and there is also a game called ‘Name the Father’ but I could never keep that stuff straight.

After all, you can try to live on beer, Jesus, cigarettes and crystal-meth, but that too gets old after a while.

And so that’s it. I've actually been thinking about doing some other blogging, but if I do I will try to keep it out of the political gutter. And who knows: there is a Presidential election coming up in 2008 and the world may yet need the Unconscionable Objector to set the record straight.

Adios folks.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Humble Pie

A friend in D.C. somtimes lumps me in with all of the truly cynical big mouths that roam the political spectators gallery. But in this case, I simply can not imagine that this particular meeting was anywhere nearly as amicable as they'd have us believe. And if they were smiling for the cameras they were hiding the ice picks and poiniards quietly behind their backs.

Seriously, can you imagine anyone the President would be less likely to socialize with?

Oh well. Good political theatre I guess.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Confounded Expectations

Objector World Headquarters, Pittsburgh PA, and November 8th, 2007 - Well, I have to say, the elections yesterday really did confound my expectations. If you read it here you know that I didn't think it was wise for the Democrats to take the House as a single legislative branch. I really didn't think the Democrats would take the Senate. The last time I wrote for this site I allowed that I was becoming more optimistic, but in the back of my mind I was fully prepared for another two years of Republican control of Congress.

Anticipating a favorable outcome in Virginia, I'm pleased to see that I was being pessimistic.

I very sincerely hope that the Democrats stick with a progressive, but relatively safe agenda for the next two years. They will certainly need to consolidate and expand their majority in 2008 and hopefully gain the White House to become truly effective. That will never happen if they try to govern like a bunch of New Deal re-treads. The public didn't elect them to be leftists; they elected them because the GOP had proved its incompetence and the people demanded a move towards at least passably good governance. Being the only other party around, the Democrats got the gig. They shouldn't have any illusions that in the interim two years W will suddenly become a liberal's best legislative pal. Patience and small steps are counseled. Go for the low-hanging fruit. Allow the Medicare to negotiate drug prices. Throw some cold water on the orgy of pork barrel spending that emerged over the past six years. Hold hearings on the wasteful ways of defense contractors in Iraq. Go for the stuff the executive troglodyte can't make a sound argument against.

I was surprised to see Rumsfeld get thrown under the bus. I'll give Bush this much, he has rewarded the loyalty of his employees, even the ones who were making him look bad, with reciprocal loyalty. That is a pretty rare thing these days when most politicians seek to eliminate problems the minute they rear their heads. I believe this is the first truly high-profile sacking of a staunch loyalist during this administration.

Other items of note: Governorships flip to almost 3/5th majority for the Democrats. The good people of North Dakota reject a sweeping (and wholly political) ban on almost all abortions (a lesson in active democracy that NARAL might want to consider in other states instead of relying on the courts). Democrats won in the South which only two years ago people predicted we would never see again in our lifetime. They picked up the Arkansas Governor’s seat with that office still uncalled in Louisiana and Mississippi(!). They also picked up seats in the House and Senate in Virginia, Texas, Florida and Georgia and held the ones they already had. The GOP did not gain a single seat that they did not have before the election. Solid South indeed!

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention PA’s own Senate race. Rick Santorum lost. I’ve never been a fan of the guy, but I’m not going to gloat or scorch him either. Plain and simple, I think people just came to see him as being too tightly connected with issues that had nothing to do with Pennsylvania. He was famous for his values politics – some of which was interpreted as disparaging to the value of women in society. His constituents were repelled that a hard conservative would take advantage of school tax dollars to pay for his kid's private schooling. People wondered when he went to Florida to stand with the family of Terri Sciavo (sp?) whether he was representing Pennsylvania or whether he was trying to bolster his standing with the Christian Right for a 2008 presidential bid. I think he just wore out his welcome. I’ll be curious to see how long it takes for him to put his house in Penn Hills up for sale.

It is a fine day for Democrats. They’ve been given a real opportunity to bring congress back to some semblance of prudent public policy. I hope they use it with a degree of wisdom. It won’t be easy for them - after all they are subject to the same temptations the GOP faced over the past decade – but I think they have the capacity to make something of it.

Truly, the best of success to them.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Tea leaf reading and other dark arts

George W. Bush can generally be counted on to maintain a sunny optimism that is wholly unsupported by facts on the ground. We're winning the war in Iraq dontcha know!

This afternoon I heard him on the radio discussing the upcoming elections. Well, I guess 'discussing' would be overstating the conversation. ‘Boldly predicting’ was more like it. In this case he was predicting that the GOP would maintain majorities in both houses of congress. The President’s Press Secretary, Tony Snow, announced that the White House is not even preparing a contingency plan for the possibility that the Democrats might take one or – dare I say it – both houses of Congress. I guess that kind of thinking would be consistent with not making a contingency plan for what to do with Iraq once we had invaded it.

Now, I know that I’ve said a Democratic victory in November would be premature and to an extent I do still believe that. This theory was, of course, based on the assumption that if the Democrats were going to win they would only take the House and only by a narrow margin. I had not considered the possibility that the Democrats might actually take both the House and Senate, but I guess that would be ok.

It also doesn’t seem like a pipe dream anymore. The Senate will be tough. Absolutely everything has to go right for the Democrats, but somehow it is starting to seem at least possible. The Times/CBS poll is showing 48 Senate seats to each party with four toss-ups. Taking three of those four is a tough nut to crack, especially given that three of those races are in southern states that seemed like safe GOP territory even a few months ago(VA,TN & MO with the fourth being NJ). The House is just as close. This will be a nail-biter to the finish. That is for sure.

I just feel it breaking hard in the Democrat’s favor. I think we may witness a perfect storm of disaffection for the GOP. Races that were not supposed to be competitive have become heated. Long held GOP seats like Santorum’s in Pennsylvania and (this is my favorite) Tom Delay’s Texas seat actually look like they are going to move to the Democratic column. Scandals are taking their toll and the cannibalism of the blame game has begun to set in. Dick Armey, the former Republican House Majority Leader called the leaders of the Christian-right a “gang of thugs” (‘cause that’s always a good get-out-the-vote tactic). The President is trying to win support by calling the Democrats a bunch of tax raising terrorist appeasers. Fortunately, unlike 2004, when recent memories of 9/11 seemed more important to the electorate, this time those arguments seem just as hollow and ineffectual as they really are.

I am actually starting to believe it might happen.

A cautionary note though: Taking both Houses is good. Taking only one is bad. With a narrow majority in only the House, the Democrats will be unable to get anything done and in 2008 the GOP will be able to point out their control of the chamber and their ineffectualness – not to mention that Republican candidates will play up every cockamamie lefty proposal put forth in the next two years to try to paint the Democrats as radicals (something the Democrats never use to full advantage against the Republicans). Getting none and being able to claim that it wasn’t their fault is better for the Democrats than taking a little and not being able to do anything with it.

In the meantime, Democrats are almost giddy with anticipation, and this time their optimism does seem to be increasingly well founded.

Jeez I hope so!

Friday, October 20, 2006

A Pithy Observation

This comes from a buddy from college, the always entertaining Frisco Dave.....

The Nissan X-terra has a new ad campaign that says “show us your X”. This is of course a reference to the X-games-ness of all those “cool” things that people do and call sports. People who go to the X-treme for X-tra N-joyment of their L-ives.

So I thought I just take a moment to realize how we got here.

In 1983 I took algebra. I was told if X=Y and Y=Z then X=Z. X took a powder for a few years.

In 1991 when I was 21 years old, Doug Coupland (B. 1961) published a book about his generation, who were about 10 years older than me. Calling it “Generation X”. The people of this generation in his book were already in their early-thirties and living out happily go-nowhere lives. They were the predecessor of the modern day Slacker. It was Mr. Coupland’s best book.* I read his book and looked in wonder at what I thought might be my future.

At the time I was working a series of go-nowhere jobs in Bakersfield, California while managing a couple of rock bands and putting together shows. I had a ‘Zine**. I read RayGun. But we were not Mr. Coupland’s Gen X.

It did not, however, take long after Nevermind or 10 for us to be conferred the title by Mtv or Rolling Stone or someone else equally stupid.

We reigned as the center of the Cool-i-verse until we left our early 20’s. Pearl Jam became a classic rock band, it became stupid to wear hiking boots with shorts and a flannel unless you were actually hiking and then the marketers conferred the title of “Generation Y” on those people just younger than us and therefore “cool”. Gen X was promptly forgotten about until 20 years from now when Time wants to do a cover story on the first Gen Xer turning 60. As sure as Al Gore invented the internet, Gen Y invented the X-games***.

By the time the marketing folks caught up, Generation Z, which was still called Generation Y, was doing “X” things and they needed the equipment to do it.

Thus, The Nissan X-terra, X-box, X-files, superbowl XL and of course X-mas****

I just dug out my copy of Generation X and I think I might re-read it with the knowledge that I’m now just a little older than the people it was aimed at.

Over and out.


*Seriously, don’t read anything else.

** It was required. If you were to be a hipster you had to have a ‘Zine. My partner in this ‘Zine was a guy named Eric who changed his name to Eirick. The ‘Zine was called “Fencepost” and all known copies are in my garage.

*** As near as I can tell the main goal of the X-games is to do the stupidest thing you can and not die. As in “Dude, that was sick when you reverse bungee luged off a 270 degree negative 2000 foot drop! Whoa.”

****Dude, that was sick when you gathered the family together to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ! Whoa.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Fashionable accessories and ammunition too.

Every time I go to visit New York I come back to Pittsburgh with a readjusted view of the world. Suddenly I realize that I may have become complacent about my surroundings in Western Pennsylvania. Perhaps I've becom too accepting of elements of that persistent red-state phenomena sometimes known as 'redneckiness'. Fortunately a trip to the Big Apple always jolts me back.

Case in point: I needed a jacket. A casual jacket. Something to keep me from freezing my tuckus in the morning chill. For some reason, I thought, instead of going to the mall or just ordering from Bean's I'll try something different. I decided to go to Cabella's. They have stuff like that.... and so much more. If you've never been to a Cabellas I have to say, it's really something. It is, I suppose, essentially a hunting and fishing store, but on a grotesque super-sized kind of scale. It’s sort of a Caesars Palace for people to take discussions of bass worms and shotgun shells VERY seriously.

Yes, this is where I decided to go look for a jacket.

So where to start..... The parking lot. The parking spaces are about two feet wider than you would find in a typical retail establishment, specifically to accommodate all of the Chevy Z71s, Ford F-250 Dualies and chrome wheeled Dodge Rams that Cabella's patrons tend to drive. There were also a lot of Jesus fish in evidence. Planning ahead for this scene, I wisely left my little Japanese car in the garage and took my wife's Durango, complete with dog hair in the back.

I wanted to blend.

As you enter the store, which is a gigantic log cabin, you are greeted by a sign on EVERY door that reads, "Please check all firearms with the welcome desk before shopping." I'd say this is a good idea because there are enough stuffed dead animals inside (more on this in a moment) that a befuddled hunter might get the wrong idea and start blasting. There is a lot of camouflage. Things you didn’t even know could be camouflaged, like underwear, that leave you wondering why on earth they need to be camouflaged at all. They sell guns, ammunition, fishing tackle, and there is even a ‘lifestyles’ section where you can purchase furniture, meat smokers and assorted decorative paraphernalia evocative of the outdoor life. They sell ‘turkey jerky’ dogs treats that actually qualify ‘dog treat’ with “Not for human consumption”.


So I’m looking around and I find myself in a section of all camo gear. And there is a table full of hats in front of me. I started to turn to find the non-camo section when a fellow wearing a ‘Git-R-Done’ t-shirt walks up to the table and puts on a hat (pictured above) over his neatly coifed mullet. He turns to me and he says, “Hey, what d’ya think of this hat?” I’m really thinking to myself that if that hat was in lavender it would look like something that the ladies at the Ebenezer AME church would wear on Sunday. So I look at the guy with stern appraising glance and I say, “Well, in a different color it might look….. frilly.”

He stared back at me for a second and finally said, “Frilly?”

“Yes”, I said.

Then he silently put the hat down and walked away.

Incidentally, I did learn that this hat is what they call ‘3-D camo’ which is designed to break up your silhouette against the brush so the deer can’t see you before you blow its head off. I guess that’s important.

So I did mention that there are a lot of stuffed dead animals. There is also a live trout stream that passes through the middle of the store - because you need one of them. The animals though are set up in their respective regional dioramas to offer, for example, a glimpse of a polar bear hovering over a baby seal on the tundra, or a mountain goat on a ledge, or prairie dogs in the arid southwest. Ah yes, the prairie dogs. Mind you, this store is absolutely, completely, one hundred percent devoid of any irony whatsoever. These people are about hunting and fishing and they mean business. The prairie dogs – there are two – have a slightly different thing going on. I’m sure the intent was to make pose to look like they were horsing around. One of them is posed on his back with his legs up in the air. The other one is mounted over the first in what might have been intended to look like the moment of attack in a mock wrestling competition. In reality it looks sort of…well…missionary. That’s right. The prairie dogs look like they’re getting it on, but I’m sure I’m the only one who noticed this.

In any event, I did actually find a jacket. A little fleece number with nylon patches on the shoulders, no Camo, and, I'm sorry to say, I didn’t get the extra ten-percent discount that comes with your NRA membership card, but it wasn’t too bad.

Then, safely back in the Durango, I heard a man exclaim as he stepped out of his small Japanese car, “Jeez, look at all these trucks.”

I’ll not repeat that excursion again for a while. I am ready to go back to visit New York again though.

A one question poll

So my friend Raoul seems to feel strongly that the country can't take two more years of GOP autocracy and that the Democrats have to take back one of the sections of government - the House of Representatives being the most likely victory. He believes there's a real chance that a continued GOP dictatorship will leave the President an opportunity to pursue war in Iran ('cause we're doing such a good job in Iraq) and that this will also allow the GOP to break the back of the Federal government, presumably leaving the country with fewer and ineffectual governing regulations; a field day for for the rich a greedy. All legitimate concerns to be sure.

On the other hand, I think that winning now would be a long term strategic mistake for the Democrats and would leave them open to losing Congress and the White House again in 2008. They can't run as outsiders fighting a corrupt party if they are already in power. My concern is that in this election swing voters would be voting Democratic simply out of disaffection with the GOP and not out of any real political conviction; a situation that would leave those voters vulnerable to being recaptured by the GOP in two years. I would also like to see the Republicans entering a presidential election year so completely discredited that they lose both houses of Congress and the White House in one massive shift of power.

What do you all think?