Eric's Daily Weblog
Lance and I left from Phoenix for Los Angeles this morning. It was a six hour drive, and featured LA traffic in spades for the last hour. Wow. This place is something else.
We went to Culver City, which is a suburb, to visit a sister Lance recently discovered named Sarah. I had a picture of us all, but the site is not loading right now.
Sarah lives in an area of town known as Little Ethiopia. There are dozens of Ethiopian restaurants. Dozens. We picked one and had a great meal.
The entrees come on an enormous platter. You scoop them up with teff bread, which is like a crepe. Very good flavor.
Lance just met his sister last month. She works for a video game company. Her job makes no sense to me, but it does to Lance. They talked shop the whole time. Wow. There are worlds out there I do not understand.
The two share a father who lives in St. Lucia, an island in the Caribbean. It is thrilling for Lance to discover and meet Sarah. He has five more new siblings to meet.
The congestion is quite something in Los Angeles. The reason for it is obvious, too. The weather is spectacular. It was 86 degrees up in the hills outside of LA when we were driving past snow-covered peaks. Down closer to the ocean it went down to 81.
Tomorrow, up to the Yosemite area.
•I am excited that a bi-partisan group of legislators in Minnesota is endorsing a plan to increase nursing home funding by 5%. This after nursing homes have absorbed up to 40% in cuts over the past few years. This is going to keep many nursing homes from closing, if it passes. Call your legislator!
•Meanwhile, the bulk of North Dakota legislators distinguish themselves as bumbling neanderthals. Wow. And they are a majority.
•Chuck Hagel's confirmation moves slowly forward, despite Senate Republicans' revenge politics. The United States Senate must revise its rules and discard some of its stupid traditions, especially those which allow an intransigent minority to block all business. This has been going on for about 180 years, since the southern Democrats would obstruct anything having to do with slavery. Nothing good has ever come of Senate obstruction as far as I know, although I am open to hear of cases proving the opposite.
•Why in the world is it okay to eat cows but not horses? I think cows get short shrift. People protest horses as food fur stores, but do they ever stand outside the steakhouse? McDonalds? They should picket baseball stadiums. Baseball players catch the ball with cow skin--stop to think of it, the ball itself is wrapped in cow skin. What if it were puppy skin? I stand with cows! Although I will continue to eat them. Not as often as I each chickens and fish, but often enough. Oh, and I love eating pigs and they are more intelligent than horses! What gives? It is a dog-eat-horse world out there, people. Get over it.
•Those darn Republicans. Now some of them are endorsing gay marriage. Where are the bigots going to go? How are they going to save their own marriages from this grave assault? Where can they hide so they don't have to see people different from them? How can they recover the freedom to impose their morals on the general populace?
Went for a drive yesterday afternoon and found the Ray Copper Mine 11 miles south of Superior, AZ. It had a good observatory. One could watch and hear the machinery grind away in the far distance.
Here is Vinny. He is a cat. He has been at the nursery for several months. He is very friendly and loving. He was recently taken to the vet to be tutored. I don't know what they taught him, but they say the tutoring will help in many ways. In fact, male cats, once tutored, are the ideal cat. I believe this. When I went home recently, Vinny treated me as if I was a long-lost friend.
My sister Tracie loves animals and she is trying to place Vinny in a loving home. Vinny cannot be at the nursery during the spring season as we have had bad experiences with cats sitting in the wonderfully soft seedling trays and killing thousands of petunias in one night. This gets expensive. Fast. So, although we believe Vinny to be a dignified and noble addition to our farm place, he's simply got to go.
Sister Tracie has expressed a willingness to drive a good long distance with Vinny to take him to a new home. He is well-adjusted to trips in a kennel, as Tracie found out when she brought him in for tutoring.
If you are interested in Vinny, please send me an email.
UPDATE: I was kidding when I used "tutored" in place of "neutered." I was thinking about the old Far Side cartoon where one dog proudly tells another dog out the car window, "I am going to the vet to be tutored!"
Follow the links in this Herald article to get to a most excellent National Geographic article on the North Dakota oil fields. A few years ago, National Geographic wrote on the emptying of North Dakota's farm country. It was an accurate article, but because it didn't include the Chamber of Commerce booster points, it was greeted with anger by the more defensive North Dakotans. This article is just as good, and gives a detailed and enlightening account of conditions on the oil field.
Can we not face the notion that most things are simultaneously good and bad? The economic boom helps people make money, but the environmental and social impact of oil development is a disaster. Why hide the downside?
Sen. Hegel would make a good Secretary of Defense for the very reasons his fellow Republican senators are blocking his nomination: He doesn't believe we should take orders from Israel. He doesn't believe starting the Iraq war was wise. He doesn't believe the so-called "surge" did much. He doesn't believe we need to spend more than then next 45 ranking nations combined in defense.
In other words, Hegel is not a paranoid authoritarian nut case like Cheney, therefore he must suffer the ire of those of his colleagues who still think it is 2002. John McCain has admitted that the delay of Hegel's probably inevitable confirmation is simply revenge politics. And he's all for it.
Meanwhile, McCain came to Arizona to try to sell immigration reform to a bunch of angry old white people at a town hall in Green Valley. It didn't go well. They want everybody without papers mass deported. They don't like Hispanics. "Cut off their benefits, and they'll go home," one shouted.
To be down here and see the Latinos doing the hard work makes a sham out of the hatred spewed by the old white people who have moved here from other regions to contribute nothing to society. The bulk of them are militantly worthless as citizens. Yet, they feel entitled to new free hips and knees paid by us all. If I was to start a nursery down here, I would take 100 illegal Mexicans as employees (hypothetically, of course) before I'd take 150 of the whiners at McCain's town hall meeting.
McCain and Rubio are talking some sense on immigration. What people don't realize is that President Obama has deported more immigrants (400,000) than any previous president. He has done this, I suspect, to prove his toughness, just as he continued Bush's wars longer than he should have and has continued airport friskings longer than necessary. I submit that Obama should just quit trying to appease the bozos and go with rational policies.
Here's a few: End the waste of billions on the drug war. Bring the troops home from Afghanistan. Open trade and diplomatic relations with Cuba. Close Guantanamo Bay. Institute a single-payer health care system for all. Cut military spending way, way down. We do not need bases all over the world. Increase infrastructure spending. Raise the minimum wage. Close loopholes in the tax code. Tax every Wall Street trade. That alone would raise billions. Regulate Wall Street so they don't drag us into another financial mess through their unconscionable, treasonous greed. Demonstrate daily that higher taxes can actually stimulate the economy by encouraging investment. Mock the neanderthal positions of Republican politicians who support teaching of creationism, want to return women to the 1950s or earlier, who believe more guns are the answer to violence, who deny the realities of climate science research, who marry four times and then righteously claim to "protect" marriage by denying it to people who actually value it--these people need to be mocked from the highest pulpit in the land until they crawl back under their rock and await death. These are not normal times. These people are not civil, nor are they rational. They have gained unnatural influence through the endless propaganda of FOX news and right-wing radio. It is time they are dismissed from the public stage with appropriate contempt.
The racists who threw a four-year fit when President Obama entered office, who balked at every one of his initiatives and sabotaged his attempts to merely govern because they thought it might win them neanderthal votes, who shouted "you lie" in the House Chamber, who questioned Obama's birth certificate (McCain's claim to being "natural born" was less credible), who made fun of him for using the teleprompter, who said he was forming a police force loyal only to him, who deny him credit for every achievement, including the assassination of Osama bin Laden, because they hate the president so much that they can't imagine him doing anything good, the people who said he was deliberately hurting this country, the makers of the movie "2016" who claimed Obama was a trained communist revolutionary even though his father, who had some Marxist views, was never around; the idiots at the bar who claimed that Obama was simultaneously Muslim, Communist and Nazi--these people should be shoved aside. Their actions and accusations during the first term of Obama should never be forgotten. If any of them run for office, they should be forced to defend every crazy lie they spewed in their frenzy of hatred against a black president.
The Tea Party types just assume that somebody as exotic as a black president would want to destroy the country. They can't imagine he's moderate. They can't imagine that he's milquetoast Midwest, being raised in Kansas for part of his youth, for crying out loud. No, they couldn't get past the color of his skin. They assumed he has some hidden agenda to take revenge against a nation he must certainly hate, given how we treated black people for 90% of our history.
Obama is a slightly-left-of center pragmatist. If his skin were white, his politics would be viewed as blander than Bill Clinton's. Texas Senator Ted Kruz is just the most recent to call Obama "the most radical president ever," but cited no evidence. Why? There isn't any. The only thing radical about Barack Obama is that he's black and president at the same time. And that's enough for these people to call him radical. That's all the evidence they need to incite their slithering, seething followers.
Columnists from the right have spent the past four years, not debating policy, but mocking every trait in Obama's character, every little event, every twitch. Skeet shooting? It was fake. Teleprompter? It was due to Obama's stupidity. Harvard? He got in due to racial preferences. Bin Laden? He had nothing to do with it. He bowed to the wrong person. He has started a "personality cult." He didn't put his hand on his chest during the National Anthem. All sorts of false charges given legitimacy by supposed journalists who jumped on the hate wagon when it served them instead of fulfilling their responsibility as journalists to curb the worst impulses of the fearful in our midst.
I want these people to tell me what black person could possibly stand a chance when haters are going to mock their every achievement as being the result of unfair favoritism? How could you ever win? Have they ever met a black person? Have they ever watched a white person assume a black person is the waiter when in fact he is part of the party? When they act surprised that black people have families and own homes? Recently, I talked to a local who came back from Washington D.C. and said the blacks there were "so well-behaved." And you say the only racism is against whites? Have you ever had to put up with such humiliation and condescension?
No previous president has had to attempt to govern with the most-watched TV news network tearing him apart every day and the entire radio dial stirring up hatred against him. I am surprised some lunatic hasn't taken a pot shot. To say Obama has the media behind him is to ignore that FOX had more viewers than any other news show during his first term. It also is to ignore that the mainstream media didn't do their job in properly reporting the origins of the Tea Party (the Koch Brothers funded it) and all of the proposed legislation at the state level to disenfranchise minority voters, lower taxes on the rich, allow more pollution, deregulate banks, regulate women's bodies by forcing ultra-sounds, and other such neanderthal absurdities.
The mainstream press also hasn't done a proper job of chronicling the crazy radicalism of the National Rifle Association, to which my own Democratic Congressman Collin Peterson has sworn eternal fealty and devotion. Remember, the National Rifle Association was once for gun control: when the Black Panthers attempted to arm themselves in the late 1960s. That tells you pretty much what you need to know about who they want armed and who they want unarmed. And Collin Peterson, you should be ashamed.
The election of 2012 was probably the most important in my lifetime so far. It is my hope that it will eventually be seen as the moment when we began to come to our senses and stopped allowing an angry, retrograde minority to hinder all progress. May the pitiful, ugly minority which is shamelessly obstructing the business of the country in Congress be first discredited, then mocked, then wiped out in the next election.
And may a rational, secular conservative party arise in its place.
At about nine this morning, it started to snow in earnest here in Gold Canyon. A while later, the clouds lifted, revealing scenes like this one. Lance and I went out for a drive to take photos, only to find 1) everybody else was out holding their phones up taking the same photos and 2) the best view of them all was from our back yard.
It looks in this photograph as if Lance is communicating with his phone, but he is actually taking pictures of the ground. He prefers close-ups to landscapes, and the snow provided some of both today.
What a contrast to yesterday when I sat outside and worked for well over an hour, went running, had all kinds of fun. My moods go with the weather, and today I was shot.
A founder of the hospice movement in this country is profiled in this article. It is difficult to believe that hospice was once a revolutionary concept. It is also difficult to believe how much resistance there is to the notion yet today in the medical establishment. At some point, death is natural. We should stop poking people with needles and pumping them full of poisons until there is nothing left of them.