Friday, July 29, 2011

More on the Debt

There is a great editorial in USA Today this Friday.

The title is: Misinformation mars debt-ceiling battle. It details five myths going around about the debt ceiling. They are:

The debt limit is a blank check.
'Default' warnings are just a scare tactic.
Failing to raise the limit is not that big a deal.
Aug. 2 isn't a real deadline.
All we have to do is tax the rich.

Each topic is covered very well. Some great points are brought out.

I really like how the editorial ends:

As it is, none of the surviving plans on Capitol Hill calls for tax increases or for significant changes in the benefit programs that are driving future deficits. Both are necessary. This suggests one more myth — that debt-ceiling brinksmanship is a good way to bring about needed change or run a country.

I might add one more thing. No matter what happens there will be very limited impact on the politicians but there'll be a huge impact on the rest of us. Because of Congress' inability to act responsibly, the rest of us should not have to suffer because of it.

Happy Friday

It's going to be another hot day in DC. It will be around 100 degrees. All the hot air coming from Congress is obviously helping to raise the temperature.

But it is Friday and time for a smile. This is part of a very funny series from Peanuts. Enjoy and Happy Friday!

Even Closer to Default

Another day has passed. Another day closer to default. Another day with nothing done.

House Republican leaders delayed until at least Friday a white-knuckle vote on legislation designed to ease the nation’s debt crisis, after hours of scrambling in vain to lock down the last votes needed for passage.

Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told reporters shortly before 10:30 p.m. that there would be no vote Thursday night on the bill, which would increase the federal debt limit in two stages in exchange for major spending cuts.

The vote had been scheduled for around 6 p.m. Thursday, but as that hour neared, GOP leaders realized they didn’t have the 217 votes needed to send the measure on to the Senate.

Another day that we are told once again by the Tea Partiers that nothing will happen on August 2. Things will just go along as usual. This in the face of opinions from every possible political and economic spectrum of the disaster this will cause to our economy. Like all zealots, the Tea Parties dismiss any opinion other than their own as being wrong and lies.

It also shows how little control the Republican establishment especially Speaker Boehner has over them. Even after the get you ass in line comment.

Time is running out. And I don't see how there is enough time left on the clock to get this done.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Civil War 150

I’m a little behind in my Civil War 150 battles. So here’s a quick run down of what happened in July of 1861.

Battle of Carthage Jasper County, Missouri, US July 5, 1861

The battle had little meaning, but the pro-Southern elements in Missouri, anxious for any good news, championed their first victory.

Rich Mountain Randolph County, Western Virginia , US July 11, 1861

This was the first battle where a general died from either side. In this case it was the Confederates Brig. Gen. Robert S. Garnett

Blackburn’s Ford July 18, 1861

The opening skirmish to the Battle of Manasas

Manassas I
Fairfax & Prince William Counties, Virginia, US 21 Jul 1861
I wrote about this one earlier can find the info by following this link.

This past weekend, in all that heat, was the reenactment of Bull Run.

Here's a little from the Post article:

Scott Sharp, 41, a high school teacher from Stoutsville, Ohio, stood in a red shirt with a black tie and black hat giving a pep talk to the men portraying the 13th New York regiment, who were lined up before him.

The 13th “was one of the first units on the field,” he told the men, a sword hanging by his side. “Took a ton of casualties, mainly because they didn’t run away. They fought hard. They were one of the last units off the field, covering the retreat of the federal army. We will not run . . . Just so you know what we’re about today.”

Here’s a great photo gallery from the reenactment.

After Manassas both sides took a pause. They started to realize this might not be a quick and painless war after all.

Thursday Pick Me Up

With all the political shenanigans going on I thought it appropriate to start the day off with a smile.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What happens if/when we default

Everyone seems to think that before the last stroke of midnight on Aug. 2 there will be some sort of compromise and all will be well. The debt ceiling will be raised. Default and near economic collapse will be averted.

My question is what makes anyone think this is going to happen. Who’s going to get the ruby slippers and the wand to make this happen?

There is less than a week.

In fact CNN and the Post have a clock counting down how long we have for the debt ceiling deadline. Based on what has happened in the past, how does anyone believe some sort of compromise is going to be reached. More to the point is there even enough time for legislation to get passed.

Here we are six days out and there is still no bill from either house of Congress. The House bill now won’t be introduced until Thursday. I’m not sure when Reid will introduce his in the Senate. How is there enough time to get this done? Both sides say the other sides bill is dead on arrival.

So once again my question how does anyone think or expect Congress to make this deadline.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

On the Road to Default

I thought the adults would take center stage. Well that does not appear to be the case.

I see very little hope that default is going to be avoided. In part because there is so very little time to get this accomplished.

But then again come August 2 nothing will happen anyway. That's what the Tea Partiers say. Anyway who says otherwise is lying because we can pay some things and not others and that will be perfectly fine. Even if rating agencies say they will down grade the status of US bonds. Oh they are lying too. Anyone who doesn't agree with the Tea Party position is wrong or is a liar.

Now returning to reality. In the House:

Boehner’s plan calls for linking increases in the debt ceiling in two stages to about $3 trillion in spending cuts.
The reaction:

Even after the White House expressed strong opposition to Boehner’s proposal Tuesday afternoon and threatened a veto, Boehner forged ahead with his plan for a Wednesday vote despite misgivings in his own party. About 10 House Republicans publicly declared opposition to his plan as too timid in its restraints on spending, and about nine more suggested they were leaning against the plan. Few, if any, Democrats were expected to support his plan, so the speaker could afford to lose only about two dozen of his 240 House Republicans.

You have to wonder how this is going to be passed when Republicans have questions about it.

Obama doesn't get off free in this either. He waited to long to join the debate. Reminds me a little of health care. Only this time the consequences are much higher.

I'm glad I refinanced when I did because interest rates will probably never be this low again on just about anything again. Even if some sort of compromise is cobbled together (at this point in time probably kept together by paper clips, rubber bands and chewing gum), it may not be enough for the markets and credit agencies. In all likelihood the economy and the faith in this country will be taking a hit (actually it already has). It means any sort of a recovery could very well be stopped in its tracks.

Oh but wait that's outside of what the Tea Party believes reality is so I must be lying.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Captain America

I remember when I was growing up that Captain America was a cartoon. I’m not exactly sure what station it was on but it was part of a series of Marvel Comics super heroes. There was Thor and the Submariner and I think the Incredible Hulk.

Here was the theme song:

When Captain America throws his mighty shield,

All those who chose to oppose his shield must yield.

If he’s led to a fight and a duel is due,

Then the red and white and the blue’ll come through

When Captain America throws his mighty shield.

Needless to say I was thinking of that when I went and saw Captain America on Sunday. I decided I needed to get out of the house a little. The only option was to go to the movies since it was way too hot to do anything else.

I saw the movie at the Majestic in Silver Spring. I went to the 10:35 am show. It was $9.50. With this ticket purchase I’d earned enough points to get a free small drink. That would have been $4.75 so in a way you could say I only paid $4.75 for the show.

I really enjoyed the movie. I was a little concerned how they would make Chris Evans look like a short 95 pound weakling. He’s this way for about the first quarter of the movie. It is pulled off very well.

There’s one funny scene where the company Evans is assigned too is doing a run. They come to a flag pole (Evans is the last guy to get there). The sergeant says that anyone who gets the flag from the top of the pole gets to ride home to base in the jeep that is accompanying the run. Several guys try to climb the pole but are unsuccessful. Evans takes a look at the pole and removes the two pins holding the pole to the base. The pole falls over and Evans retrieves the flag and gets to ride home on the jeep.

In the jeep is Evan’s love interest played by Hayley Atwell. And for once the love story actually works in the film instead of stopping the movie dead in its tracks like happened in Thor and especially Green Lantern.

I think Evans does a great job of portraying Steve Rogers. He tries over and over to join the army because he just wants to fight the Nazis but is always labeled 4F. When asked at one point if he wants to kill Nazis he says he doesn’t want to kill anyone but he hates bullies. And he should know all about being bullied that’s shown on a couple of occasions.

Hugo Weaving is the villain of the piece he plays the Red Skull. He's actually a very good villain. It's nice to see a good one for a change that's actually really evil and shows that he's really evil.

Now Avenger fans pay attention because there are all sorts of clues and hints to that movie coming out next summer. The Red Skull breaks into a castle and steals an energy source left by the gods i.e. Odin. The guy making all the gadgets for the Americans is Howard Stark. That would be Tony's dad. Then make sure you stay throw all of the credits (I had to make a quick dash to the bathroom because of the coke I had but got back in time) because there is an actually scene from the upcoming Avengers movie.

In all Captain America is very well done and is a fun afternoon. Enjoy.

Friday, July 22, 2011


It's so hot I can't even spell hot right. How hot is it:

But the air temperatures are just part of the story. Reagan National’s heat index, factoring in humidity, reached 121 at 3 p.m., the highest known level since 122 on July 16, 1980

And it is very hot out. I think the best way I can describe it when you walk outside is when you open your oven to take something out of it. There is just this wave of heat. They once you step out into it you can barely breathe. You become drenched in sweat in a matter of moments. It's almost a waste of time putting on deodorant.

There is supposed to be one more really bad day. Saturday it will be triple digits again. Then Sunday it will get a little better. The temperature will be back down near normal and hopefully the humidity and dew point will be too.

I will say that the local media really played this up. When you consider that we're only going to have like four really bad days. Hell we could be in Oklahoma City where they've had 29 days where the temperature's been above 100. And it looks like they'll be having at least another week of it to. Like I said hell.

I'm looking forward to Sunday. I'm going out early Saturday morning. I plan on coming back and reading my book and watching some movies in the nice air conditioning.

The Gang of Six

A friend from work sent me this. It is a letter from one of the Gang of Six, Mark Warner, urging people to sign a petition supporting their bipartisan debt reduction proposal.

From: Mark Warner

With our nation set to surpass the current debt limit in less than two weeks, we're approaching perhaps the most predictable financial crisis ever -- but up until now our politics have been too divisive and hyper-partisan to seriously confront the problem.

I hope to change that. For several months now, I've worked with a bipartisan group of Senators, three Republicans and three Democrats, devising a plan to cut our debt by nearly $4 trillion over the next decade through a combination of spending cuts and tax and entitlement reforms.

I'm now asking for your help to turn our Gang of Six into something much larger: a grand coalition of like-minded Democrats, Independents, and Republicans with the political will to break the gridlock in Washington and fix our debt problem. It’s going to require a lot of work to pass this proposal through both Houses of Congress, and in order to swing enough votes I need your help to apply some public pressure.

Will you click on this link and add your name in support of our bipartisan debt reduction proposal?

The single best thing we can do to create jobs and grow the economy right now is to enact a long-term debt and deficit reduction plan that will provide some semblance of certainty for the marketplace. Right now, businesses have $2 trillion in cash that’s just sitting on their balance sheets. They’re unwilling to invest those funds and create jobs because, as they watch the debate in Washington, they have little confidence in what the future will hold.

Enacting our plan will give businesses reason to put their money back into the economy and start hiring again. We simplify the tax code, lowering tax rates and removing special tax breaks and havens that will generate $1 trillion in new revenue. And we reform and strengthen our entitlement programs to ensure their long-term viability.

This proposal is not perfect. To make this work, we all have to make concessions we’d prefer not to make. Seriously reducing our debt and deficit requires everyone to have some skin in the game. But this common-sense, bipartisan framework provides an incredible opportunity to steer our country toward a new path to fiscal solvency – and I need your help to turn it into law.

Click here to add your name in support of our bipartisan debt reduction proposal.

Thanks so much for your help and support,

Mark Warner

To sign the petition, please visit this link:

Thursday, July 21, 2011

2Political Episode 59

2PP059 - 19 July 2011

2Political Podcast Episode 59- is now available. You can listen to it or download it from the podcast site, You can leave comments there as well as download or listen to any episode (you can access the five most recent episodes from the list on the right side of my blog).

After Special Days, we have a NEW rightwing nutjob bulk mailing sent to Jason. That leads us to joke around about being bought and sold for mailing lists. Jason then talks a bit about the latest “Harry Potter” movie and his adventures in seeing it. This reminds Arthur of one of those urban legends/quote misattributions that surfaced when the film opened. This leads to a larger discussion of how judgmental people get about other people’s likes and dislikes of culture things.

Next we talk about the Murdoch scandals. How is it playing in New Zealand? Arthur has a personal connection. The phone hacking by Murdoch’s employees is both despicable and indefensible. Still, good things could from it.

For some reason, that leads on to Arthur talking about how liberals piss him off. It leads to a broader discussion of how political ideologues are like religious fundamentalists. Are principles more important than anything? Is achieving some progress worse than none at all?

Please leave a comment (anyone's welcome—agree or disagree!), or you can ring the 2Political Comment line on 206-350-3982.

Links for this episode:
Royal Swan Upping
Chincoteague Pony Penning
More Crap from the Far Far Right – Jason’s blog post on the latest rightwing nutjob mailing he received
Edge of Glory – Arthur’s blog post he referred to when talking about people passing judgement on other people’s likes and dislikes.
Arthur’s blog, podcasts and videos can be accessed here.

Get 2Poltical Podcast for free on iTunes

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Debt Debate, Part II

The adults have arrived on the scene. The House of Screaming Little Kids Throwing a Tantrum Holding Their Breath Until Turning Blue lead by Eric Cantor have taken a back seat to the adults in the Senate.

All I can say it’s about time.

From the story in the Post
The proposal, crafted by a bipartisan group of senators known as the “Gang of Six,” calls for $500 billion in immediate savings and requires lawmakers in the coming months to cut agency spending, overhaul Social Security and Medicare, and rewrite the tax code to generate more than $1 trillion in fresh revenue.

In the works since January, the plan became public Tuesday, just as it was becoming apparent that the leading option for raising the federal debt limit faces bleak prospects in the House. With the Treasury expected to start running out of cash in two weeks, House Republicans are openly hostile to a Senate-led plan that would authorize additional borrowing but kick the hardest decisions — such as whether to raise taxes or cut entitlement programs — to a special legislative panel.

This as the Republicans are taking a hit in poll after poll. Seems Americans think Republicans are not willing enough to compromise on raising taxes. Further:

Republicans may also be losing the war of perception about who stands with whom in the debates over the deficit and the economy. A majority view the president as more committed to protecting the interests of the middle class and small businesses, while large majorities see Republicans as defending the economic interests of big corporations and Wall Street financial institutions.

Well there’s a huge surprise. How would people possibly think the Republicans are favoring the rich and big corporations? How is that? Oh yes the completely irresponsible idea that taxes should not be raised on the rich and corporations. The silly idea that if that’s done it will costs jobs. While slashing trillions from the federal budget will have no impact on jobs at all.

I have some hope that this might break the impasse. But as Obama has said time is running out. An agreement needs to be reached and fast. Hopefully, since the adults have shown up, that will be possible. But you never know what unruly and spoiled children will do.

More Crap from the Far Far Right

Yet again something from a far far right organization sent my way. Hard to believe there is something in father to the right than the Heritage Foundation but there is. This time I got a fundraising letter from Judicial Watch.

I really love the first line of the letter:

I'm betting you'd rather cut off your right arm before watching Barack Obama server another term in the White House . . .

Actually, I was thinking along those lines only if a Republican would end up winning in 2012. The fund raising appeal goes on to say that I wasn't one of the tens of thousands of conservatives who answered there previous letter.

Let me think yes that would be true. And there is that small little tiny thing that I'm not a conservative. That I don't support any of the positions of the Heritage Foundation or Judicial Watch.

I would really love to know what mailing list is being sold to these people that would possibly make them believe I would give then a single cent to support their cause.

Judicial Watch is also incredibly cheap. At least the Heritage Foundation included a self addressed envelope with postage on it. Judicial Watch makes you pay for the postage.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

After the Movie on Friday

A little more about seeing the movie at the Uptown and the rest of my day.

As I said, there were probably 150-200 people in the theater. Most of them ended up in the balcony. I sat in my favorite row. The row in front of the one I was sitting in has been taken out. I think it is to provide an are where handicapped people can sit most likely people in wheel chairs. Because of the extra space, no one has to climb over you to get to their seat. It means you can really stretch out your legs.

While I was making a dash up to the rest room before the movie started, I noticed the guy ahead of me had probably the most developed calve muscles I’d ever seen. They were probably the size of my thigh. Maybe a bit of an exaggeration but not much. I assumed he must have be a rugby player or something like. He certainly had the build for it. After the movie I saw him leave with a couple of his friends. He said goodbye to them. He then proceeded to take out an arm band and attach his iPod to it. He put in his ear buds and jogged off. I thought maybe he lives close by. It took me a little while to get to my car and then head down Connecticut Avenue toward home. I passed the National Zoo and noticed the guy jogging. I guess his home wasn’t all that close.

We got out of the movie around 5:45 am Friday. Three out of the four local stations had cameras there to get reactions from people. I'd hope to be able to find one of the interviews to post but wasn't able to come up with anything.

I got home a little after 6am. I decided not to stay at home. I was rather pumped up from the movie. Also I was wired from a lack of sleep. My concern was that if I sat down I'd fall asleep. So I decided to pack up my things and go to the 7am spinning class at my gym.

I made it through the class with no problems. In fact I did pretty well until about 3 in the afternoon. My energy level really started to come down then. My concentration wasn't very good either. I ended the day doing some rather easy and simple corrections to a publication.

Around 4:30 pm I headed for home. I lasted for a most of the evening but finally a little before 10 pm I headed off for bed.

In all a long but very fun and exciting day.

Happy Tuesday

Well this is the day our heat wave really begins to start. Just stuck my head out the front door and it is already uncomfortable. In light of that I thought it would be a good idea to start Tuesday out with a smile. And below is the smile.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Harry Potter Deathly Hallows Part 2

The tag line is It All Ends. And wow did it. It's going out with a bang. The biggest three day ever the estimate is $168.55 million. $475 million world wide.

My original plan was to go and see the movie today, Sunday. I wanted to see it at the Uptown in Washington. The Uptown has the largest screen of a regular theater in the DC area, not including IMAX theaters. I was really surprised and disappointed when I found out it wasn't going to be playing there. They had the transformer movie.

I resigned myself to see it somewhere else. Thursday night is my volunteer night at Food and Friends. I found out from a couple that the Uptown was indeed going to be showing the movie. It was going to be in 3D there. I hadn't know that the Uptown had converted over to 3D. I'd been looking in the 2D listings because I'm not a huge fan of 3D.

I get home from Food and Friends around 7:45. I go to Fandango and sure enough under the 3D listings there is the Uptown. It even showed that there were tickets available to the midnight show. I still find that a little hard to believe. Most everywhere else I looked all the midnight shows were sold out. In fact at one of the Mulitplexs near me had 14 show at midnight and all of them were sold out.

I started to think could I actually go to the midnight show. I hadn't eaten yet. I'd also need to take a shower. I wondered about parking around the Uptown. The Uptown is an old fashion movie house in that it is right in the middle of a residential area. There's no parking lot. The only parking is street parking. I was pretty sure even at this early hour people would already be in line. I thought some more about going. If I had planned to go with another person, I would have done it. But at 8 in the evening I didn't know many people I could call up and say hey won't to go to the midnight showing of Harry Potter. So I decided not to go.

But then I noticed the Uptown (along with several other theaters) had one more show. It was at 3:30 in the morning. I thought well there's no way I could do that. It wouldn't be the proper thing to do.

Then I thought screw that. This is what I decided to do. I set my alarm for 1:40am. I thought if I can wake up and get up then I'll go to the movie. I ate dinner and then went to bed. I probably drifted off to sleep around 9:45 or so. The alarm comes on at 1:40 and I'm up. A little after 2 I'm off to the theater to see the show.

As I get closer to the theater, I see people walking down the street. I'm pretty sure that they have come from the midnight showing. I thought about yelling out how was it but didn't. Now I wish I had. Anyway find a parking place. Get in line. A little after 3 am they let us in to the theater. There were probably between 150 to 200 people.

The movie is nothing short of brilliant. The action sequences leave you on the edge of your seat. The other parts of the film pack an absolutely incredible emotional punch. Each of the secondary characters have a moment. Luna, Neville, Professor McGonagall, etc. Each of their scenes brings a chill in some cases a laugh and in some cases a tear.

The scenes with Snape are probably the best in the whole movie if not in the whole series of movies. The attack that leads to Snape's death is fairly graphic. When Snape says to Harry you have your mother's eyes, Harry begins to understand exactly who Snape really is. Alan Rickman's performance is outstanding.

Ralph Finennes well as far as I'm concerned he is Lord Voldermort. He's commanding in every scene he is in. I thought his gestures convey a great deal especially when well for lack of a better way to describe it he rubs his bald head. As the movie progresses, you can tell from the way Finennes holds himself that Voldermort realises he just might not win in the end.

Another stand out is Michael Gambon. The "afterlife" scene between Dumbledore and Harry in very well done. They've captured, at least to me, exactly the way the look and fell is in the book.

As for the big three, they shine in this final movie. The scene where Watson and Grint finally kiss is very well done. That brought a hand from the crowd. Radcliffe is fantastic. His reactions when he finally realizes the truth about Snape are incredible. So is his acceptance that he has to die.

The movie is an emotional and visual roller coaster. It is sad to see this wonderful series of movies to end but it ends on incredibly high note. Enjoy it!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Reading a Great New Book About a Boy Wizard

I'm reading a great new book.

Actually it's the first in a series of books.

It's about a boy who's a wizard but doesn't know he's a wizard. He goes off to a school where they teach wizards and witches well how to be wizards and witches.

The thing is Harry, that's the name of boy the books are about, has a wizard who's his enemy. This bad wizard killed his parents.

And well you'll just have to read the books to find out what happens.

I think you could turn the books into movies. Could turn into a great movie franchise. Oh wait a minute . . .

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Debt Debate Debacle

What to day about this one. When will the adults show up so this can be resolved. I guess I should clarify that slightly and say when will the adults from the Republican party show up.

I had a huge laugh the other day when John McCain was on CNN. He said no one in either party wants a default. Really Senator. Where have you been? A few months back there was a group of Republican House members chanting as if at a frat party: Shut it down , shut it down. There are the great intellectual luminaries of the Republican Party like Michele Bachmann say:

“We cannot go on scaring the American people; we need to be truthful. And I call on the president and the Treasury Secretary to tell the truth to the American people,” Bachmann said today. And on the question of whether economic catastrophe would befall the United States, as has been warned by everyone from President Obama on down to a slew of Wall Street leaders, she said, “We don’t believe that for a moment.”

She seems to think the August 2 deadline can pass and the government won’t default because it can just pay the interest on the debt until this is all worked out.

The Democrats, the president in particular, have gone out of their way to try and compromise. The Republicans not at all. They still have as their mantra if every millionaire becomes a billionaire that is somehow good for the country. The tired old line of you can’t raise taxes in such a huge economic downturn. But you can cut trillions in government spending and that won’t impact the economy at all.

As to raising taxes, you’d only be raising taxes on the rich. The people who can most afford the increase. Yes according to the Republicans every one else must take a hit, make a sacrifice but oh no no no not the rich. Eric Cantor is the spokesman for this latest tactic from the Republicans. Also from Cantor the motion that Republicans have made plenty of concessions.

Dana Milbank from the Post had a great piece on Cantor the title of which is: Eric Cantor’s slick upper lip. I think this sums it up nicely:

The search for a Cantor concession continued. “In terms of shared sacrifice across the country, do you see that one as necessary?”

Cantor swung his arm over his chair back and raised his upper lip. “I think behind this notion of ‘We want shared sacrifice’ that they continue to say means, ‘We want to raise taxes,’ ” he said.

Claiming that there have been “concessions made already” by his side, Cantor was pressed to name some of them. “I don’t want to get into specifics now,” he said.

Leaving a House Republican caucus meeting Tuesday morning, Cantor approached the microphones, flashed the cameras a good-morning sneer and demanded to know “why in the world” Obama wants to increase taxes.

NBC’s Luke Russert asked what “sacred cows” Cantor would be willing to sacrifice. Cantor repeated his denunciation of Obama’s tax policy.

“Where do the Republicans feel pain here, though?” Russert persisted.

Guess there wasn’t an answer on that question.

To me the actions of the Republicans show once again they are only interested in advancing their party. There only concern is getting Obama out of office as was voiced yet again by Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor the other day. If the country is economically destroyed in the process that is a small price to pay to regain the White House. And after all at least the rich won’t be paying higher taxes.

2Political Episode 58

2PP058 - 7 July 2011

2Political Podcast Episode 58- is now available. You can listen to it or download it from the podcast site, You can leave comments there as well as download or listen to any episode (you can access the five most recent episodes from the list on the right side of my blog).

This episode was recorded about a week ago, but Arthur had work and other commitments to deal with before editing this episode. We begin with special days. A very brief talk about movies leads to a discussion of Jason’s recent trip to Missouri. Among other things, he visited Joplin had saw first-hand how bad things still were a month after the killer tornado. Did you know the tornado is still killing people in Joplin?

Jason received another important “ballot” with lots of bold italic type. This leads to a discussion of the games that Republicans are playing over the deficit. Arthur clearly thinks Republican politicians are lying about what they’re up to. Jason thinks some of them are “true believers”, using deficit reduction as a way to enact their extremist social issues agenda.

Then we’re on to the absurd study form Harvard that claims attending Fourth of July activities creates Republicans. Arthur says the researchers’ problem is that correlation is not causality—the fact that some of their data seems to match up does not establish cause and effect.

Finally, comments let us discuss a few more things—including a kind of spam comment that Arthur has never seen before.

Please leave a comment (anyone's welcome—agree or disagree!), or you can ring the 2Political Comment line on 206-350-3982.

Links for this episode:
Pictou Lobster Carnival
Jason’s posts on Joplin, Missouri, with photos
Another Love Note from the Heritage Foundation – Jason’s blog post on the “ballot” he mentioned
Fourth of July – Arthur’s blog post about the study claiming that attending Fourth of July events creates Republicans. Arthur thinks it’s nonsense.
Jason’s Blog
Arthur’s blog, podcasts and videos can be accessed here.

Get 2Poltical Podcast for free on iTunes

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Betty Ford

I wanted to say a few words about Betty Ford’s passing.

What an incredible person she was. What a wonderful legacy she leaves. Forced into the spotlight by events she had no control over. She showed incredible courage. Becoming first lady after the Nixon resignation could not have been an easy thing.

I remember that events happened so quickly the Fords were still living in Virginia after Gerald Ford became president. It took a little while for the family to move into the White House. I also remember the incredible poise both the Fords had when the country was in the midst of one of the darkest times in its history.

I think these two points from the Post story on Betty Ford's life really sum it up incredibly well

In an era when cancer was discussed in hushed tones and mastectomy was still a taboo subject, the first lady shared the specifics of her breast cancer surgery. The publicity helped bring the disease into the open and inspired countless women to seek breast examinations.

Her most painful revelation came 15 months after leaving the White House, when Mrs. Ford announced that she was entering treatment for a longtime addiction to painkillers and alcohol. It turned out the famously forthcoming first lady had been keeping a secret, even from herself.

It's hard to believe that before Betty Ford had breast cancer it was hardly talked about. That fact she shared this with the nation started a real conversation about breast cancer in this country. Think of how far we've come since that moment in time.

The same can be said about her addictions. Sharing again. Telling her story. Making people understand and care. Setting up a clinic to help people. Not just the rich and famous but people from all walks of life. In one article I read, it said the Betty Ford Clinic has helped over 90,000 people.

Amazing. Just as Betty Ford was amazing. She will be missed

It's Midweek — Time for a Smile

And what better way to smile than with Peanuts

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Odds and Ends of an Automobile Nature

Car Repair
More work on my car. Well actually this is finishing up what was started last month. In June, I took the car in for the air conditioning to be looked at. The fan would blow but no cold air would come out.

Of course they found other things wrong with the car. It is not actually too surprising considering it is a 2003. And most of the time it just sits outside the front of my house. However, I would say being a home owner you really need to have a car.

Back to the air conditioning. In June, they refilled the tank with Freon or whatever gas is used. In order to see if there is a leak in the system, they put a dye in with the gas. Now it can take a little while for the gas to leak out. I was supposed to bring the car back in two weeks. That would have been the exact time that I was in Missouri. That didn’t work. Finally got around to it this week. The system did indeed have a leak and around $300 later it is all fixed. I’m crossing my fingers that nothing else happens to the car.

Gas prices
All sorts of interesting things on the drive up to the dealership. One was noticing gas prices. It seemed to me that gas prices were cheaper in the District then they were in Maryland.

I also noticed this on the drive up. On each side of the road was a gas station. The one station regular was $3.89. The station on the other side of the street it was $3.79. Now under normal circumstances this isn’t all that unusual. I’ve seen in many places were one station has one price and the one across the street of the next block has a completely different price.

What makes this strange is that both stations were Exxon stations. How is there a difference of ten cents with stations from the same company? And speaking of Exxon on the drive back from the dealership last night I saw another Exxon station where regular was $4.04. How the hell does that happen?

Most of the time I like my GPS but every once in a while you have to wonder. I was driving home from the car dealership last night. I decided I wanted to stop at a grocery store on the way home. I had my trusty GPS with me. I found shopping and looked up stores. I found a Giant Foods very close by. I had the GPS figure out how to get there. I followed the directions it gave me and did not end up even close to the store.

I tired again and essentially the same thing happened. I then noticed a side entrance to a shopping center where the Giant actually was. The GPS was completely unaware that this entrance was even there.

Once done with my shopping, I tried to get back on the road to take me home. That was a great deal of fun too. GPS wasn’t all that much help. The signs put up by the state of Maryland didn’t help either. I eventually went back to the Giant and drove through the parking lot until I came upon the main entrance into the shopping center. It just so happened to be off the road to get home. Go figure.

Left Hand Turns
Yesterday I’m taking my car to get worked on. I want to drop it off at the dealership right when the service department opens which is 7am. It is way up in Rockville. Maybe 45 minutes from my house. I leave a little before 6:15. The roads are pretty empty at that time in the morning. And I suppose I’m going against traffic. I weave my way through the upper parts of DC. I get on to Rockville Pike. I have a straight shot now to the dealership.

Along the way I had this happen to me not once but twice. The first time it happened this way. I’m moving along fairly well. I’m thinking I shouldn’t have any problems getting there on time. I’m in the left hand lane. The car in front of me slowly comes to a complete stop. I’m trying to figure out what’s going on. Then comes a turn signal. The car had come to complete stop and then the person decides to turn on their signal. Of course this was one of the few times there was actually traffic and I couldn’t move into the right hand lane and get around this person.

I’d like to say I’m surprised at this but not really.

What is surprising is that something very similar happens a few minutes later. This time I’m at a light. There is a car in front of me. Again I’m in the left hand lane. The light changes. The car in front of me doesn’t move. I wait a few moments and they still haven’t moved. I honk my horn. And right after that magically the car in front puts on their turn signal. This time there is no traffic in the right hand lane and I move around this person. Did they forget they were turning left? Or are they such jerks they can’t be bothered with putting on their turn signal.

This end my odd and ends of getting my car’s air conditioning looked at.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Siege of Washington, a Great Civil War Book

This book covers the opening 12 days, April 14, 1861-April 25, 1861, of the of the Civil War. When, essential, Washington, DC was behind enemy lines. Virginia leaves the Union on April 17. The loyalty of Maryland is questionable. Thus Washington is surrounded.

The book covers those 12 days and what happens in Washington. The steps Lincoln and his administration take to try and get loyal troops into the city. This is complicated by riots that break out in Baltimore when the Sixth Massachusetts tries to pass through the city to get to Washington.

This is a really great book. It covers a time frame that is rarely if ever written about. If the South had tried to take Washington, it would have been very likely that would have been able to do so. Thus completely changing the course of the war.

This classifies as a page turner. Even though you know how things turn out, it is amazing to see just how undefended Washington was. And how difficult it was to get Union troops into the city to protect it.

Also, as someone who lives in Washington, its interesting to read about where everything was located in DC and know what is there today. There is also a great picture of a map of Washington which shows just how much of the city was open fields rather than built up.

The book quotes extensively from personal journals of the major participants in this on going drama. Of note are Lincoln's two secretaries John Nicolay and John Hay.

I highly recommend this book.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Another Love Note from the Heritage Foundation

I received yet another “ballot” from the Heritage Foundation in the mail this week. I’ve included a scan of the “ballot.” Once again lots of bold italic. I guess they really want to drive home their points. Also the usual unbiased language in the “ballot” questions.

Here are a couple of examples:

Are you concerned by the dramatic increases in federal spending that have been approved by President Barack Obama?

Thanks to pork projects and Big Government budgets, the federal government spent more than $30,500 per household. Does this level of spending meet your definition of fiscal responsibility?

I have to say the first question is pretty straight forward except for the word dramatic. The second question is just completely biased. "Pork projects" is never defined and why exactly is big government capitalized.

More to the point how did I ever get on these guys mailing list. It seems pretty obvious to me that the Heritage Foundation's marketing department bought a new mailing list. How else to explain how completely out of the blue I've received not one but two mailings from these guys in a little over two weeks. I mailed back the "ballot" and asked that my name be removed from the mailing list.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Fireworks, Fireworks, Fireworks on the 4th

This year I was right by the Washington Monument. To me fireworks are best when you can feel the explosion right in your chest. And this close that's exactly what happens. In the 30 or so years I've been in DC, I've only missed a very few of the fireworks on the Mall.

More Fireworks

Smoky Grounds of the Washington Monument

Here's a look at the Washington Monument right after the fireworks ended.

Fireworks Finale on the Mall

Nothing says July 4th more than seeing the fireworks on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Here is the finale.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Happy Fourth of July

I posted this video from the movie 1776 several years ago. And I'm going to post it again because to me this really puts in perspective just what this country was up against. Also the hopes and the dreams of those patriots all those many years ago.

Civil War 150, Battle of Hoke’s Run

This occurred on July 2, 1861. It happened near Hainesville in what would have been Virginia at the time. West Virginia didn't formally become a state until it left Virginia on June 20, 1863. Hainesville is around 25 miles or so from Harpers Ferry. The area around Harpers Ferry would prove to be an on going battle ground for most of the war.

Some of the details of the Battle of Hoke's Run:

On July 2, Maj. Gen. Robert Patterson’s division crossed the Potomac River near Williamsport and marched on the main road to Martinsburg. Near Hoke’s Run, Abercrombie’s and Thomas’s brigades encountered regiments of T.J. Jackson’s brigade, driving them back slowly. Jackson’s orders were to delay the Federal advance only, which he did, withdrawing before Patterson’s larger force.

On July 3, Patterson occupied Martinsburg but made no further aggressive moves until July 15, when he marched to Bunker Hill. Instead of moving on Winchester, however, Patterson turned east to Charles Town and then withdrew to Harpers Ferry.

Patterson stayed at Harpers Ferry while Union and Confederate forces fought the First Battle of Manassas a few weeks later. This inactivity helped to contribute to the Union defeat at Manassas.