a jim jividen blog

Here's the thing. I'm watching one of these shows on the Cooking Channel featuring food trucks. There's a Scottish expat making fish and chips; in a thick brogue he somewhat wearily explains his irritation with Americans who habitually order a side of tartar sauce: "tartar sauce is basically gherkins." That's this blog. I claim no particular insight, no revelation. If you enjoy the flavor, great, but this blog is basically gherkins.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Weekly Tendown September 11-17 2011

Dear Internet:

One of the reasons I like this format is it serves as a marker of time; I like that, theoretically as long as the rivers of electricity flow, one could find this piece and know that the week of September 11-17, 2011 was the week where Scarlett Johansson's phone got hacked and Larry Merchant threatened Floyd Mayweather.  This is my gift to future generations of Tendown scholars.  No need to thank me.

Here's Tendown 94.

1. The Craziest, Most Fact Free Thing You'll Ever Hear a US Senator Say.
There was much wingnut from the Republicans this week, but the item that perhaps you missed came from Rand Paul.

                         The rich are getting richer, but the poor are getting richer even faster.

The right's easier to take when they tell the truth, as Paul's father Ron did at the debate.  If you're uninsured and die, that's sort of just how it goes.  That's right wing health care.  Society has winners and losers and often the losers just die.  You're more likely to die from poverty than homicide.

But the idea that a country that has 46 million people under the poverty line (the poverty line's like 10 grand in income for a single person, and 21 grand for a family of four; the next time you read some right winger say "hey, $250,000 bucks a year isn't that much money"; remember that the poverty line is 21 grand for a family of four) and in which the mass of Americans is falling a little bit further behind every quarter (other than the elderly, and the right is trying its hardest to add them to that statistic also) has a US Senator say the poor are getting rich is gobsmackingly stupid.


 I've sort of liked what we've called the "tea party" movement - because it sometimes allows the real right wing to show its reptilian face.  Tell me "I don't like the minimum wage because if no one is willing to pay you five bucks an hour for what you do, then that's just how life is".  I don't agree with you and I think you're a bad person, but you're not lying to me.  But don't tell me it would be better for poor people to do away with a wage floor.  Tell me "I don't like social security, if you made so little money in your life that you don't have enough saved when you are no longer in the work force, then that's just how life is."  Don't tell me it would be better for the elderly if we didn't have social security.  Don't tell me we have the best health care system in the world.  Tell me "if you're uninsured and can't afford to go to the doctor, then you die and that's how it is." You know, like Ron Paul's campaign manager.

I'm not on your side.  I dislike you.  I believe you are a bad person.

But you're not lying to me.

The left, I think, is honest (the left, not Democrats).  There is a tradeoff that each society makes; if we're going to have a safety net, the revenue for that has to be raised.  If you want health care for all, top notch public education, and an infrastructure that isn't in disrepair, that requires a high top marginal tax rate. There wouldn't be billionaires in the society that I'd advocate.  Strong protection for unions, living wage laws, significant penalties for environmental infractions and consumer fraud, and a court system widely open for plaintiffs will reduce corporate profits.

I prefer that society.  It strikes me it creates a higher quality of life for a greater quantity of people than the one we currently have and significantly greater than the one the right wing advocates.  If you'd prefer to advocate an "every man for himself" society consisting of tramps and billionaires, then okay.  These are not new debates.  They're fine to have.  I'm willing to say the society I prefer isn't as good for rich people as the one you prefer.  But don't tell me the one you prefer is actually better for the poor.  You can't be taken seriously.

2. Does Obama Read Tendown?
So - veteran Tendown readers - here's a quiz.

In two words, the economic proposal advocated by Jividen would be:

_____________        _________________________

The answer, as you've read multiple times in this space is "tax millionaires."  I generally do a poor job speaking in sound bites, not too many things I've ever said would make for a snappy bumper sticker, but were I running for office, that would be the core of my economic message.

Tomorrow, Obama's announcing the following sure to never pass tax proposal.

President Obama on Monday will call for a new minimum tax rate for individuals making more than $1 million a year to ensure that they pay at least the same percentage of their earnings as middle-income taxpayers, according to administration officials. 


You're welcome, America.

3. For Two More Weeks - The World Champion San Francisco Giants
There are 10 games left in the season at the time of this writing.  The Giants are 5 back.  The very most optimistic evaluation of our playoff chances is 3%.  But we have won 7 straight and sliced 4 and a half games off the lead since I waved the white flag two Sundays ago.  If we take another game off the lead today, then its worth a flicker of optimism.  For right now, that we fired our owner this week is the more significant story.

There are also, not coincidentally, 10 games left in the fantasy baseball season - right now, it looks like I'll win my NL only league to continue my championship streak.

In the offseason, you'll get a reworking of my Top 200 baseball players of all time, perhaps an extension of my look at the worst baseball players ever (I'm also considering a look at the worst presidents ever, the gimmick being each president would be on the list) and I'll plug this year's Giants season into my various all time Giants tracking posts.  Right now, for example, we are on pace for a .500 pythagorean season (a significant upgrade from our ranking most of the year, largely due to Beltran hitting almost .500 this month) that would place the 2011 team about the 30th best SFGiants team of all time.

4. What About Posts Already Written?
3 more posts in my look at the all time 45 man rosters for every NFL team; my week 2 NFL picks; my week 3 college football picks; and my Emmy Award picks; all went up this week.

5. This Week in Bachmann
Pick your favorite Michele Bachmann moment from the week:
A. Wall St. Reform is killing the banking industry.
B. The HPV vaccine causes retardation.
Or - a sneaky C.
C. Rick Perry mandated the vaccine be given in Texas because of crony capitalism.

If Michele Bachmann would like to open the door to her fellow Republicans passing legislation that serves their corporate masters, that would be a welcome discussion. For example, the hundreds of millions spent by the insurance industry to fight health care reform.

6. I Live On Tea Party Drive
There's a small stretch of Military Trail in West Palm Beach that you'd find largely unremarkable if you were to drive it.  It's a couple of minutes away from my job and its where my Ladygal used to live. The local Spearmint Rhino is there.  A Popeyes Chicken.  A big and tall clothing store.  And two schools.

Northwood University, which lists as its primary core value:


Core Values Statement

We believe in:
  • the advantages of an entrepreneurial, free-enterprise society.
And here's the "Northwood Idea"

We believe that competitive, productive effort can overcome obstacles, solve problems, and achieve goals; that human beings can make a difference in the world in which they live; that political and economic freedom are of paramount importance in releasing creativity and productivity; that sacrifice--savings--is a necessary prerequisite to progress; that equality of opportunity based on contribution and inequality of reward using the same criteria are not only appropriate, but the necessary conditions; in a system not forced into conformity with some master plan; that it is the differences among us that make us interesting and useful to each other; in the freedom to fail. We must be free to bear the positive and negative consequences of our actions; that in a competitive system, all who participate benefit from it; we dedicate ourselves to the elimination of artificial barriers to equal opportunity for all human beings....


We practice a healthy skepticism of large and powerful government because we think history has clearly demonstrated that such structures move rapidly from being of the people toward being over the people, and freedom is lost in the balance.

Does Ayn Rand have a college?  Yup.  It's on Military Trail in West Palm Beach.  I assume among those "artificial barriers" that should be eliminated are Social Security and the minimum wage.  After all, they are reducing one's "freedom" to die in poverty or without access to health care.

I'll assume, based on their "practice" of skepticism of government that Northwood accepts no federally guaranteed student loan money.

Almost exactly across the street a new private high school has just opened up - it's owned by one of the Koch Brothers.

From 9th grade to graduate school - a generation of right wingers can be raised, all without ever having to leave a couple of mile stretch of Military Trail in south Florida.

7. Will Anyone Try to Take Away Their Right to Vote
Northwood's professed skepticism to "large and powerful government" also must mean an opposition to the range of right wing legislation to suppress voter turnout.

Legislation, incidentally, partially funded by the Koch Brothers.


All told, a dozen states have approved new obstacles to voting. Kansas and Alabama now require would-be voters to provide proof of citizenship before registering. Florida and Texas made it harder for groups like the League of Women Voters to register new voters. Maine repealed Election Day voter registration, which had been on the books since 1973. Five states – Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia – cut short their early voting periods. Florida and Iowa barred all ex-felons from the polls, disenfranchising thousands of previously eligible voters. And six states controlled by Republican governors and legislatures – Alabama, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin – will require voters to produce a government-issued ID before casting ballots. More than 10 percent of U.S. citizens lack such identification, and the numbers are even higher among constituencies that traditionally lean Democratic – including 18 percent of young voters and 25 percent of African-Americans.


Taken together, such measures could significantly dampen the Democratic turnout next year – perhaps enough to shift the outcome in favor of the GOP. "One of the most pervasive political movements going on outside Washington today is the disciplined, passionate, determined effort of Republican governors and legislators to keep most of you from voting next time," Bill Clinton told a group of student activists in July. "Why is all of this going on? This is not rocket science. They are trying to make the 2012 electorate look more like the 2010 electorate than the 2008 electorate" – a reference to the dominance of the Tea Party last year, compared to the millions of students and minorities who turned out for Obama. "There has never been in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax and all the Jim Crow burdens on voting, the determined effort to limit the franchise that we see today."


You now need a valid photo ID to vote in Wisconsin; you can pay 28 dollars to get one at the DMV.

Or - you can get one there for free.  But official policy is to keep that a secret.


The Madison Capital Times today posts a memo from a Wisconsin Department of Transportation executive directing employees not to offer the ID for free:
While you should certainly help customers who come in asking for a free ID to check the appropriate box, you should refrain from offering the free version to customers who do not ask for it.

An employee at a state agency sent an email disdainful of this policy:

REMEMBER TO TELL ANYONE YOU KNOW!! ANYONE!! EVEN IF THEY DON'T NEED THE FREE ID, THEY MAY KNOW SOMEONE THAT DOES!! SO TELL EVERYONE YOU KNOW!!"

And he got fired.

Government can be tyrannical.  True story.  I assume the students at Northwood will be informed.

8. A Comparison You Knew Was Coming.
Rosa Parks = Joe Barry Carroll





The story is here.

The nexus between the 85'-86' Golden St. Warriors and civil rights activism doesn't end there.

Sleepy Floyd is currently a regional vice-chairman of Code Pink.  Lester the Molester Conner is the spokesperson for the National Council of La Raza, and, in a curious twist, Purvis Short was one of the four little girls murdered in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham in 1963.



9. Moratorium!
Don't ever again say that Madonna constantly "reinvents herself."

I can't take it anymore.  Madonna was once a young woman who dressed provocatively, sang pop songs, and banged Jose Canseco.  Now she is a skinny old lady.  That's how it goes.  Joe DiMaggio once had a 56 game hit streak.  Now he is dead. He did not reinvent himself.  He died.  Madonna will die too one day.  And in her obit, I guarantee you, will be some variation of "constantly reinvented herself".

They've been saying it for two decades.  It's time to stop.  Say anything else you want about Madonna.  Anything at all.  I will not complain.  But moratorium on her being "reinvented."

10. Toilet is Fixed!
View IMG00044.jpg in slide show

There are two toilets in my house.  But for the past few days, only one has worked.

Today, it was fixed.  It was fixed by someone who lives in my house who isn't me.

If you've seen my Ladygal, you know that she is considerably more attractive than I am.  You'd assume she'd be dating a hockey player.  Like Mike Modano for example.



But not only that - she knows how to fix a toilet.  Which, if you know me, you know I do not.  Anyone who has any encounter with me almost certainly is left with the marrow level understanding that I'm a guy who does not know how to fix a toilet.

Several years ago now, I was enrolled on a dating site.  My profile did not say "single white man seeks hockey player girlfriend quality woman who knows how to fix a toilet" but that, in fact, is what I wanted.

That's all for this time.  I'll be back next time, if there is a next time...

Your pal,

Jim