Thursday, November 29, 2007

Nothing like a little Christmas music to get you into the spirit of the season...

I've heard it three years running. All three times at Boston Store:

He sees you when you're sleeping

He knows when you're awake

He knows if you've been bad or good....


So... who is this, warbling to our children in their jammies about who is naughty and who is nice, and what's in store for them in this season of giving? And why would Boston Store choose this as an element of their annual enticements designed to get us to light those little candles of desire and guilt and debt-be-damned buying that have become the essence of Christmas in America?

Peace on Earth.

Click here for the answer

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Nov. 22, 1963. Where were you when Kennedy was shot?

 I was walking down Woodward Avenue toward Congress, The capitol's main drag, thirty blocks from downtown Austin, Texas, on a shirtsleeve late Fall day. It was close to 1:00 p.m. I was cutting class--something I had never done before--because I was on my way to see the President. The Austin American had reported the route of the President for the day: Dallas in the a.m.,a major speech at the Trade Center, then a flight from Love Field to Bergstrom Air Force (SAC) Base on the outskirts of Austin. The motorcade into the then-sleepy State U./State Capitol town.
 I had about twenty minutes to walk twenty blocks and hunker down at the intersection of 6th Street and Lavaca. I'd watch Jack Kennedy and his Camelot entourage go by, then head back to campus.
 While many were hearing Walter Cronkite's emotional report of the assassination on TV, I was out on the street, walking past a maroon Ford sedan. It was an unmarked law enforcement vehicle--oversize blackwall tires, a big whip antenna, and a hatless Texas Ranger standing outside the passenger door, actually leaning--no, more like collapsing--against the side of the vehicle. The police radio was on and the static and frantic words came out to this passer-by.
 Kennedy was shot in the head, rushed to a Dallas hospital….
 What to make of the short life and Presidency of John F. Kennedy? Four months earlier he had given an astonishing--and to many, profoundly disturbing--speech at the commencement of American University in DC. He was clearly staking out a roadmap to de-escalation of the arms race, a proposal to initiate negotiation of a nuclear test ban with the Soviet Union.
 The missile gap that had been a fundamentally dishonest centerpiece of his hawkish presidential campaign a thousand days before looked different after the Cuban missile crisis of October, '62. His eloquence evident in the speech--(Sorenson was the wordsmith, he was the orator) and the importance of his bold assertions were masterful. He was beginning his campaign for re-election in '64 in Washington, DC, perhaps the only place in America such a speech could be given and followed by applause.
 That sunny central Texas day, just a few months later, a counterpoint to the American University  address was the speech that Kennedy had in his pocket at the moment he was assassinated. It had been prepared for delivery at a luncheon that day to the Dallas Citizen's Council at the Trade Mart.
 Had Oswald not sighted his target and fired three times, Kennedy's motorcade would have pulled up to the Mart and JFK would have delivered a speech that rattled the nuclear saber--boasting of his expansions of both strategic and tactical nuclear weaponry.  It was a speech that intensified the rhetoric of the domino theory, and insisted that we needed to increase our arming and training of client states on the borders of the Soviet Union and Red China. He was, on the last day of his life, fine-tuning the hawkish theme of his campaign for re-election in '64--in Texas, where such a speech had to be given.
 I was 20 years old, stunned, stopped in my tracks; I'm still stunned. From there--in that chaotic and frightening moment-- this benighted nation spiraled downward.
Downward through a decade of assassinations and escalations and cities-in-flames and profound alienation, then went on to decades of self-indulgent, self-congratulatory excess and hubris, to today's sorry state of the American nation, it's leadership and its prospects.
 The day the President was assassinated a lot more than just one eloquently two-faced politician died.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Wolcott: Imus comeback is OK with me....

I've never heard Imus on-air. But James does make two really fine points supporting the case for Laissez les bontemps roulez:

I get the feeling that most of the bloggers recapping Imus's slurs and outrages at the microphone (and those of his former producer Bernard McGuirk) never actually listened to the program, except for a few bites here and there picked up online. Instead, they avail themselves of the Media Matters files or other Googly sites and trot out the same litany of low points, without mentioning the more ennobled sentiments Imus has expressed, such as muttering "war criminal" whenever Dick Cheney was mentioned.

As for whether or not politicians, pundits, and book authors should appear with the post-"nappy ho" disgraced-chastened-contrite Imus, my feeling is, Let grownups make up their own grownup decisions without flapping our hands in the air and acting scandalized, as if some invisible picket line has been crossed.

I've had nothing to listen to in the morning. Once I finish my meditation, I turn on the radio and soon turn it off again, one disappointed little cowpoke. The New York morning shows--nothing but sleet and drivel. I try listening to NPR but I'm just not a good enough person to be the receptacle for all that homogenized reasonableness lightly sugared with whimsy and vitamin-enriched with valuable life lessons. I'd rather hear Imus complain about a dead gnat floating in his herbal tea, or something equally earth-shattering.

Friday, November 16, 2007

George Bush or America? A Primer...

This is a link to an array of eight linked sets of photos. Each set has one of George Bush paired with one simply labeled "America". You need to scroll down through several of his Nov. 15 posts to get to the beginning.... No words necessary. Pictures tell it all.

TBogg - "...a somewhat popular blogger"
(Can't do a permalink. Go to archives and scroll down to Nov. 14. Worth the trip.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

No matter how many secret meetings get called, there's always a slip up....

The Waukesha Water Utility Commission held a meeting really early this morning that required anyone who wanted to see what was going on to get up before dawn.

After some criticism last year--that they they appeared to take to heart--the Commission began holding their meetings during the supper hour, as opposed to their practice of having them before breakfast. Was it just a coincidence that the day they want to have a secret session they go back to the old practice of meeting when most people are brushing & flossing or commuting to work?

Item # 5 on the agenda was a secret meeting. Item #1 was an opportunity for residents and customers to make public comments. So, your blogger requested that the four (out of five) members in attendance--seldom-seen Gerald Couri, Commission Secretary, was missing AGAIN--to defeat the motion to go into secret session. Mayor Nelson, it should be noted has in the past gotten quite irritated by my calling them "secret sessions". But, when I ask him to tell me what they talked about, he refuses. Why? Well, it's a secret.

So the Commission voted unanimously to kick out the spectators and meet in secret. Commissioner Zinda: "Aye". Commissioner Bull: "Aye". Commissioner Mayor Nelson: "Aye". Commission President Warren: "Aye".

State Law requires a pro forma notation in the motion to close a meeting that invokes one or more of the permissible exemptions from the Open Meetings Law.

Today's motion:

Pursuant to Sec 19.85 (1) (e) & (g), Wisconsin Statutes, to discuss strategy relative to our long term water options, as well as radium compliance, with legal counsel.

So they met. And the public doesn't get to find out what they're up to.

But, they gave us a hint. More than a hint. Here's how it happened: Their downtown lawyer from Reinhart Boerner, Mr Gallo, hadn't arrived by the time agenda item #5 came up. So, they skipped ahead to a truly mind-numbing review of budgetary stuff. Spread sheets full of abstruse although occasionally interesting stuff about how things look for the future. For example, the Utility had budgeted for the placement of around 300 new meters (new houses, new customers) in 2007. The number, six weeks from the end of the year is closer to 150. That'll put a small nick in revenue. But we're guessing that the Commission sees this as a minor glitch--real estate development should be going full tilt by next year.

But here's the biggie, conveniently tucked into dozens of pages of figures: Under a heading called "2008 Significant Budget Items," part of an executive summary provided by the Commission's accountant, Peggy Steeno, we read:

New Water Supply Investigation/Plan:
Included in this item are the consulting services to continue to assist the Utility with its investigation into a new water supply. The assumptions with this item are that an application for Great Lakes water will be submitted for review in early 2008. This item includes the support necessary to achieve development and approval of the application and initiate the negotiations with a wholesale provider. The current estimate for these services in 2008 is $300,000.
Looks like a done deal. They'll be assuming that the Great Lakes Compact is forever dead, and that the Water Resources Development Act is toothless. They'll probably sue on grounds that that the WRDA--which has been the only deterrent to wholesale diversions from the Great Lakes for the past several decades is subject to challenge on constitutional grounds. Then, they'll make a claim that Chicago's diversions of Lake Michigan water, with no requirement that diverted water be returned to the Lakes (virtually all of it goes down local rivers to the Mississippi), is a precedent that will allow Waukesha to tap Lake Michigan and send the water down the Fox, also to the Mississippi.

Last week, Jim Rowen at Political Environment talked about how John Norquist viewed the process of getting public input into the "work" of planning agencies. The public wants to know when there will be opportunity to see--and react to--the planners' "work".

The planners' answer involves a series of responses: Not yet....not yet....not yet....not yet...............Oops, Too Late.

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Of the biblical allotment of three score and ten I have lived only three of them more than a bicycle ride from one of the Great Lakes. I grew up ten blocks from Lake Erie in the (once Irish/Italian ghetto, now newly-hip) "Near West Side" of Cleveland. I can still cycle to the Milwaukee lakefront in an hour and a half; but, a round-trip has always been more than I would (noror ever did) attempt. -0- I'm a "...somewhat combative pacifist and fairly cooperative anarchist," after the example of Grace Paley (1922-2007). -0- I'm always cheerful when I pay my taxes (having refused--when necessary--to pay that portion of them dedicated to war). -0- And I always, always vote.