Friday, May 27, 2011

Paul Ryan's Genius

I was jogging last night listening to last Sunday’s Meet the Press, and Paul Ryan was the lead interview. (I’m in training, and try to jog regularly.) Later on that night, while smoking a cigar coupled with Coronas and eating hotdogs (another aspect of my training), I was hit with the realization that Ryan’s fucking with me. Well, America at large, but I’m taking it personal; he actually taunted me on Sunday morning. Here’s how:

The previous week, Newt Gingrich didn’t mince words in saying that Ryan’s plan amounted to “right-wing, social engineering.” He took a ton of flak, and had to completely backtrack a couple days later. So there it is – Paul Ryan’s plan isn’t social engineering. It’s simply a plan, an idea for how to approach Medicare and get costs under control. It’s a proposal a lot of people disagree with, other people support, and in sum defines a starting position to negotiate from. Done and done.

Or so I thought. When Ryan comes onto Meet the Press, host David Gregory launches into an attack on how unpopular the plan is with people, forcing Ryan to defend his actions. Ryan could’ve simply responded that this is a starting point, that of course it will be molded to take into consideration the concerns of the American people, and that he will be taking those concerns into account as he gets the chance to talk to his constituents about it. He could’ve simply said, “there is no other plan on the table. Here’s my plan. Until someone introduces a better one, this is what America needs.”

At first this is what Ryan does. There’re the usual political talking points about it being 700-some-odd days of Democrats failing to pass a budget, lack of leadership from the White House, blah blah… Then, something crazy happens. Ryan continues his attack on leadership by exclaiming leaders are elected to lead. I don't consult polls to tell me what my principles are or what our policies should be. Leaders change the polls.

There’s a lot of extraneous to unpack in the above, from mocking Gingrich’s ‘if you quote me directly and in context, you’re a liar’ to the fact that Republicans controlled both Houses and the White House for a couple thousand days without passing a budget. These aren’t my takeaways though. It’s the fact that Ryan was accused of right-wing, social engineering, everyone in the Republican party made Gingrich retract the statement, and one week later, on the same show, at the same time, sitting in the same chair, Ryan says leadership isn’t doing what the American people want – leadership is engineering polls of the American people to go along with what you want. I don’t think it’s simply ironic; it’s taunting. Paul Ryan is actively taunting me, and no one has caught on. He’s going to get away with it, because he knows he can. What’s more, there’s no political advantage to taunting people at a level above their heads. I honestly believe he’s only doing it to derive some smug satisfaction from manipulating people dumber than him. I gotta hand it to’m – that Paul Ryan is one clever bastard.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Absolute Genius

While disengenuous, it's hard to deny the political mastery of this mailer (note: they use the individual name of the specific mail recipient on the card. That's pretty clutch):
SEIU_NY26_Mailer1 (3)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I, However, Discriminate Equally

Imagine if the NAACP supported gay marriage. The battle in New York would be over in a heartbeat. We would've passed it already. It's now looking more doubtful to pass this year.

Of course, this would require the NAACP to be a true civil rights group - one that doesn't rely on polls on whether or not they'd get criticized for recognizing the civil rights of other human beings (if I was a syndicated columnist, this is where I'd make a lot of money b/c CNN would pick up a Huffington Post article entitled 'Journalist Rejects NAACP as a Supporter of Human Rights,' and aside from being labeled a reporter, I'd go on television and agree. And then sell a book and get paid to talk about gibberish on radio. Bonus: I'd also be right).

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Pause For Reflection

For your racially charged statement of the day: I can only assume we wouldn't allow this to go unaddressed in the Northern Hemisphere.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Saturday's Exercise Plan

Albany County hydro sites bike ride - about 35 miles roundtrip. If I wake up early enough, I can make it back for Beer Festival. If you're interested, let me know.

Overall Path

Corning City & Riverfront Preserves Along the Hudson River

Detour Through Pebbles Island

Out and Back Around Lock 6 State Canal Park

The Price of Charity

So one day I'm walking home when three young hooligans push me into an alleyway and rob me, stealing not only my wallet and cell phone but also shoes and shirt. A charitable gentleman, hearing the ruckus while walking by, chases off the rapscallions and offers me $25 in cab fare to get home, along with his shirt to keep warm. Before leaving I offer to take a picture of the man sans shirt, encouraging him to strike a flexing pose to embody the heroism he's displayed. Two days later, that picture surfaces on the internet, and the Chris Lee scandal is on.

The winner of NY-26's special election to replace Lee this month will determine the political fortunes of our President next year. You'll know because the news will say so. Particularly if Kathy Hochul (the Dem candidate) pulls out a victory a Republican District. I don't think she will, because the DCCR just doesn't seem that interested in plowing resources into the race. But if she does, it will signal that the Tea Party's momentum has slowed, Republicans are having to answer for unpopular policy choices, and the nation is shifting back to Democratic support. This will be true for about a month. Then CNN will stop saying it, and all the impacts promised will be forgotten.

Conversely, if Jane Corwin(R)wins, we will know that America remains a center-right nation and will be voting to keep Republican control of the House and likely the Senate in 2012. This, because Chris Wallace told us so.

I'm pretty dubious of the spillover effect special elections provide regular ones. It may be that public opinion isn't what's important - it's getting donors excited. Everyone loves a winner, because supporting losers is bad for business. That's a valuable lesson the Donald taught me. So show your ability to win in Western NY, and financial support will flow like honey (sweet, but slow and sticky). I'm still dubious.

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Start

I arise early today, the morning air still cold as the sun barely peeks through my window. I throw on my racing shoes, the same shoes I went to break in over two years ago. The same shoes that witnessed my broken leg and escape from the Arb that night; their very first outting. I wouldn’t normally don them, but I’ve a mission this morning. An old hoodie slips over my head and I’m out the door, grabbing a handful of raisins for fuel on the way.

There’s a certain calm these streets know as the dawn's glow shines light into dark corners before the hustle and bustle of everyday life resumes. I make my way first down Kent Street, then merging onto West and through the mixed immigrant neighborhood I was almost held up in one night back in April. Blackalicious jams on my iPod, segueing from Passion to Supreme People. These are the morning’s anthems, and they embody everything the morning is about.

I take a right on Lake, passing by Washington Park and the curbs crammed with cars by students unable to find more suitable parking. A mile and a half in, a left on Myrtle, kicking up another gear to stride out any final kinks to get my blood flowing. I snake into a hidden driveway and cut through the hospital grounds with the familiarity of a patient that’s visited this place one too many times. I steal a reticent glance up at the Cardiology Department windows on the second floor, and then refocus on the task at hand.

Cutting between the Albany Law and Pharmacy Schools, an old track comes into view. Its lane lines are barely visible and enough rubber has worn away to reveal large patches of concrete every 50 meters, but that doesn’t change this oval’s function as the battleground of weekend warriors.

Some stretching and a short rest later, I line up to test my body. Trepidation serves as a governor during a slow first lap, and I pick up the pace at the quarter-mile mark. Rounding lap two, I quicken my pace a little more, though by no means impress the one or two students heading out to work. This leaves plenty in the tank for lap four, and I kick it in with 200 meters to go. Yet with 100 meters left, my kick leaves, and I’m reminded that I haven’t done this in a long time. I finish a minute, maybe 1:10, slower than the end goal - but we’ve got five more months to sort that out. Jogging back home, I pen a short letter in my head:

Dear Boston:

I know past plans didn't work out, but this time is different. I promise. Be seeing you next April.



Thursday, May 5, 2011

Obama's Victory Lap

I've got no problem with Bush not attending Obama's victory lap in NYC today. The former President has refused to be goaded into criticizing the current one, and thus shouldn't be expected to endorse him either. This event would simply be too politicized, and staying home shouldn't necessarily be construed as bitterness.

What I do take issue with is the notion that Bush was 'snubbed' for his efforts. A 'source' stated that: Obama gave no credit whatsoever to the intelligence infrastructure the Bush administration set up that is being hailed from the left and right as setting in motion the operation that got Bin Laden. It rubbed Bush the wrong way.

Boo hoo. Obama has publicly thanked 'the tireless and heroic work of our military and our counterterrorism professionals.' But as far as the 'intelligence infrastructure' Bush put in place? No one should ever, EVER, be thanked for the clusterfuck that is the Department of Homeland Security. Spending billions on things that fail to increase the safety of the American people is not a laudatory action. Bush did things deserving of praise. This wasn't one of them.