Advice and Consent

16 March 2016

Advice and consent are active nouns. They require action to complete. Inaction, by not allowing hearings and not allowing votes, is not the same as withholding consent. Not having hearings and not having votes is failing to fulfill the duties and responsibilities of being a senator. That is very different from withholding consent.

Mr. McConnell, I, along with a majority of the citizens of this country, demand that you fulfil your oath of office and have the Senate properly review, with hearings and vote, the candidate nominated by your President. If you cannot fulfil your obligations then you need to resign from office.

Sad Day at the Polls

15 March 2016

Today could have been, nah should have been different. A woman before me at the polls, in a rush significantly caused by delays at check in, left without pressing the last (and third) accept button on her electronic ballot. This left her ballot on the screen when I was next, showing a vote for the same person who I was to vote for. A vote that would now be, sadly, void. Not sad that the candidate didn’t get a vote but sad that her vote was to be lost after trying to vote. Sad that the vote wasn’t for the very qualified person who will be the next President, who deserved my vote and my support and who happens to be a woman.

I am glad that I will get that chance later this year to vote that woman into the oval office. But today, today I voted for a dream. Someone called him a unicorn. Fictional in his chances of winning. Rare in his ways of approaching politics.

I know he won’t be President. The vote was merely a statement of desire, that I wish more candidates were as pure of intention as he is. So a sad day but also one of future hope. A woman will be President and the world will be a better place with maybe a small shift towards people rather than money controlling elections.

China, Housing, and Refugees

9 January 2016

I’m told China has a real estate bubble that might collapse and cause a world wide recession, if it hasn’t already. So it got me wondering, just how much over-supply is there? Turns out there is number for that on the internet, and it is that there is currently more than 1 billion square meters of available housing. Yes, billion, with a B. It works out to space for over 25 million average Europeans (or only 14 million average Americans). That would be enough to house every refugee in the world, so one way to end the refugee crisis in Europe. Sadly I somehow doubt China would be so generous with their unused housing.

As it pertains to China, islands, and climate change

19 December 2015

It may be cynical of me, but is it possible one reason China signed on to the latest climate agreement was to protect their investment in island building in the South China Sea? I mean, if any island was to be vulnerable to rising seas it would be man made ones – right?

I wonder how well those islands survive tsunamis. Do they abandon them in bad weather? If so, why doesn’t one of the closer nations go occupy them right after the storm passes? After all, it is just facts on the ground.

Regarding a Flag

5 July 2015

I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable 4th of July. July 4th is very much about a flag, as it was a sign of the very independence which we celebrated. But another flag is a trending topic right now. Some want it erased from existence in an attempt to banish the symbols it represented. But removing a flag doesn’t magically remove racism or bigotry nor will it suddenly make everyone love or respect their neighbor. A flag isn’t any more responsible for hate than a gun is. The problem is who is holding the flag or the gun.

The only major example I can think of is Germany banning swastikas. Is that really what is needed? Did it eliminate anti-semitism? Not that I want to see one flown across the street from me, but more so because of the kind of person who would fly it rather than a fear of the flag itself. As a kid I regularly played the Germans in WWII board games, I was not in fear of or offended by the historically relevant symbols.

The conversation really needs to be about how to eliminate racism so there is not the kind of person around anymore who wants to fly a flag out of hate.

Still, I applaud those who are voting or acting to remove offensive flags from being flown in prestigious locations. Those actions can be the start of the conversation. Just let us make sure it doesn’t stop with some symbolic votes.

Keep (city) Strong

29 March 2015

A local group calling themselves “Keep (insert city name) Strong” is campaigning to stack the school board with people who want to lower school taxes with the stated plan of lowering teacher pay and reducing school services. This same group fights to lower property taxes in other ways too. I gather they don’t think beyond the short term property tax relief. When you have worse schools and less services you get a weak housing market. Property values fall and those left in their McMansions will end up having to pay a greater share of the taxes while their mortgage goes underwater again. If you really want a strong city you have to double down on the investment in good teachers, nice parks, infrastructure, public health and safety, etc. Somehow greed and apathy clouds the obvious.

I Demand You Supply More Facts

22 January 2015

The big heads are talking the talk about supply side economics of the price of crude oil saying the US is producing more oil so there is more supply and that is why the price of crude fell.

But the US production level didn’t jump overnight, or to be fair it didn’t change much over the period that the price was falling in the 4th quarter last year. So no, US production is not the reason that the price fell, cannot be. World production didn’t change that much during that period either. It seems to me that demand dropped related to slower growth rate in Asia (China missing its growth target for the first time in decades) and weakness in the economy in Europe and elsewhere (Brazil and Russia). Now if the US hadn’t been producing more than the weakness elsewhere would have meant that it would have been easier for OPEC to control the price. But for OPEC to do that now, by themselves, would have been a much bigger problem for them.

Still it wasn’t as sudden a weakness as to cause as rapid a price fall. The answer there I think lies more in the darker side of the price of oil – those speculators in the energy market. Whose going to run up the price for a futures contract on a barrel of oil when there is less demand? I wonder how much less money is flowing around the trading floor and even more scary is where did that money go, because rich greedy people don’t stop trying to make more money just because one way to do it becomes less safe. Maybe more credit default swaps and we all know how good that is for the economy. We won’t really know till whatever it is goes wrong and the average Joe is the one to be burned. At least we are paying less at the pump now.

Religion and Freedom

15 January 2015

Your right to your religious views stop when they start to harm others.

If you can only take the view that it must be because that is what my religion says then it isn’t really a debate.

Without religious bigotry there would be a lot less killing going on.

10 Years and 100000 Miles

5 December 2014

It was 10 years ago this week that I first drove my 2005 Ford Escape Hybrid. 10 years later, on the road between New York and Illinois this past week, it passed 100000 miles. The original battery still works and it still gets about 27 MPG (4WD). The rust shows that I was not kind to it, no garage for 5 years and not nearly enough car washes. The area above the passenger side rear wheel had to be replaced from the rust. The tone ring keep cracking every couple years, the first time it happened the dealer took a week to figure out what happened. But all in all it has been a good car. It is a good size to carry a family of four on a long road trip without being large and hard to maneuver. It has mostly good site lines from the driver seat. A little underpowered, but expected for a hybrid. Though I often feel bad using hybrid parking spots given the 27 rather than 50 MPG.

The last couple years I think, just one more winter. Well see.

Tumbleweed…

21 November 2014

I know, it has been a long time since my last post, I have to say that I didn’t feel the prose muse in a good while.

Tonight our President basically said to congress: I’m not going to sit around anymore and let children be hurt and families turn apart because of your inability to vote on legislation.

Some in congress will say he went too far, doesn’t have the authority, is just making it harder to get legislation passed. I think they are just embarrassed by their electile dysfunction and are trying to act macho in overcompensation.

I’m no legal expert so I cannot say that he does have the authority, but it seems like he mostly should. I’m also not a political operative, but I think if the motive was political he would have done it months ago (for election effect) or waited for later in December (easier on attorney general confirmation hearing and Democratic runoff election chances).

Time will tell if the actions even matter or if it was all hype on both sides.