"Yeah, well, you know, that's just like, uh, your opinion, man."

Politics as (Un)usual

08:36 Wednesday, 18 May 2016

There are some people I follow on Twitter that I simply have to mute, because two-thirds, or more, of their tweets are about politics. And it's not anything insightful, it's just the usual nonsense about nonsense. It adds nothing to anyone's understanding, and it's fatiguing. I mute them for a month, and it's amazing how fast a month goes by, and how little anything has changed.

So, mute again.

This is the most bizarre election in my lifetime. The two oldest candidates, each disliked by over half the electorate. One wonders how either of them could be elected. One of them will be, though.

I'm in the unfortunate position of knowing how bad Trump is for the country, but having no love for Clinton whatsoever. The difficulty Clinton is having with Bernie Sanders and his supporters is due to the "failure" of the Obama administration.

Obama was supposed to be a transformational leader, "change we can believe in." It turned out that his style of governing involved compromise and pragmatism, which is hardly transformational; and he encountered a Republican opposition that was transformational after the 2010 mid-terms. Instead of changing his style, and leading a national debate, he kept trying to do the same-old-same-old, with predictable results.

Nothing got done.

The Republicans couldn't repeal Obamacare, or stop "executive overreach." The Democrats couldn't get anything passed.

So the partisans in both parties got very angry; and now we have Trump, and Bernie Sanders spoiling the coronation of Hillary Clinton.

And let me say a few things about Obama's speech about compromise and purity in politics. It's being used by Clinton supporters to bash Sanders supporters. It seems to me that this is Obama's blind spot. He campaigned on "change we can believe in," but didn't change anything.

Yes, the economy got better. It was always going to get better. One can make the argument that it didn't get better enough, fast enough, because Obama was too eager to compromise, in the expectation of some kind of reciprocity from his opponents. Yes, we got the Affordable Care Act, but we abandoned the single-payer option too quickly, out of this pragmatic, vain hope of winning some Republican support. But Gitmo is still a prison. The rich got even richer, the middle class smaller, the climate got warmer, and the executives in charge of the big banks avoided prison and collected their outrageous salaries and bonuses. And, oh by the way, we're still engaged in two conflicts in the Middle East.

And look at his latest Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland. Another solid, moderate, middle-of-the-road, pragmatic pick that, in ordinary times would have won bipartisan support and easy confirmation. One can make the argument that Garland was picked to illustrate a point, but it's also emblematic of his whole administration.

"If you can keep your head about you when everyone else is losing theirs, perhaps you're not looking at the situation properly."

Obama has been a massive disappointment, because he failed to read and respond to the Republican right's reaction to his administration. He should have been using the presidency as a bully pulpit and led a national debate on the role and size of government. He ducked the fight. And now we have the two factions even angrier, and they're fighting it out with two candidates that the only thing the majority of people can agree about is that they don't like them!

I believe that whoever is elected in November is going to be a one-term president. This is an emotional spasm, and nothing good will come of it.

Trump will be perceived as, and may actually be, a transformational leader. That will energize the angry right. Clinton has the support of a solid minority of Democrats, and has to hope to turn out a large anti-Trump vote. For the time being, the Clinton faction seems content with doing their best to alienate Sanders supporters, so good luck with that.

If Clinton somehow wins, I still believe she's going to face a Republican majority at least in the House, which means years of investigations and inaction. If she manages to take the House and the Senate, she's going to be Obama II, and try to engage Republicans who will hate her and oppose her anyway. My guess is she'll avoid the fight as well, and will lose reelection, and may face a strong challenge from the left for the nomination again.

Anyway, at least we've turned a page. I believe we can now stop saying "It's Bush's fault!"

It's Obama's fault.

Tempus Fugitive

09:44 Thursday, 12 May 2016

"The faster I go, the behinder I get!"

Yes, the lights are still on here in the Woodchuck Hole, but events keep overtaking me!

For those of you truly interested in just what the hell Action-Dave, Cool-Guy Bachelorâ„¢ has been up to, a few updates:

I had the motherboard replaced on my 2012 13" MBP Retina. It was a battery, power manager issue. I'd be on battery and when the menubar indicator would hit about 80%, the computer would just shut down without warning.

The repair cost about $260, but it got me a new battery and a new motherboard; the only frustrating part was that it was just months out of Applecare warranty. Money well spent, though. I'd max'ed the machine out when I bought it, so it's got a few good years left in it.

Mitzi and I took a trip to New York at the end of last month, the one we were supposed to take last year when she broke her ankle. This one was a bit shorter, since she'd used all of her paid time off recovering from the ankle surgery.

Mitzi's sister and brother-in-law live in in New York City, in an apartment just off Central Park. Her brother-in-law has lived there over forty years! An amazing place. Law and Order often filmed scenes in the lobby, which was cool the first time it happened, not so much thereafter!

I haven't been to NYC in any significant way since 1976, when I was a midshipman aboard USS William V. Pratt and we were part of the naval contingent for the bicentennial celebration. I did spend a few hours at Penn Station last October and took the opportunity to go up to the surface to grab a slice of NY pizza and walk up to the Empire State Building, but that was it.

We saw a Broadway musical, Shuffle Along, an amazing show. It was the last preview performance before it opened. Theater was packed. If things work out the way I hope, I'll write more about it later. I'm not a theater critic though!

Other highlights, briefly:

Walked around the Jacqueline Onassis Reservoir in Central Park.

Took the subway everywhere.

Walked the latter portion of the Highline.

Went to the top of the Empire State Building.

Visited the Flatiron Building.

Had a New York bagel.

First use of Uber! Took it from La Guardia to Abe & Judy's place.

We only spent a couple of days in the city, then went up to Abe & Judy's place in Port Ewen. They have a condo right on the bank of the Hudson. Very lovely place. Took a trip north to the Walkway Over the Hudson, a former railroad bridge converted to a park. That was very cool! The weather was cold, windy and gray, but it was still a very neat experience. We had lunch at the Culinary Institute of America, also very cool!

Got my ass kicked playing scrabble against a couple of PhDs both nights in Port Ewen. They play competitively and have a Scrabble Dictionary. I never knew such a thing existed! Nor would I have guessed it has words I had no idea were even words! If I'm going to continue to play Scrabble, I'm going to have to get that dictionary.

I became very interested in exploring the Hudson Valley after my train trip last October, now Mitzi's very excited about it as well. It's a lovely place, and there's a lot of history and many wonderful things to do and explore. Looking forward to getting back up there this fall.

We left Abe & Judy on Saturday and drove up to my Mom's place, about an hour and a half from Abe & Judy. We rented an Airbnb apartment for the weekend, which was very nice. Close to Mom, a bit less than a hotel. Weather remained awful. Spent a nice weekend with Mom and my siblings, then flew back to Florida out of Albany.

Bodhi is doing well. There's been no change in his symptoms to speak of. We continue to enjoy each day as it comes.

I, on the other hand, came back from New York with some upper respiratory crud that I'm finally getting over. I think.

I used some of my income tax refund to buy a Canon Pixma Pro-100 photo printer. Can make prints up to 13"x19" (though I've seen YouTube videos that show a bit larger, like 13"x25.5".) So now I'm climbing the learning curve on photo printing. The damn thing is enormous! But it connects wirelessly, so I can put it in a better location once I figure out where one is.

Like anything else in photography, you can get pretty lost in a lot of technical minutia, chasing after levels of performance that are only meaningful to people who evaluate printer performance, or the printer's skills. I'm a beginner, but I'm already happy with many of my results. Looking forward to learning more, but I don't think I'm going to pursue that last three to five percent of technical "perfection."

You can get a $200.00 rebate from Canon this month. The printer effectively only cost $200.00. But a set of ink cartridges will set you back $100.00! (It comes with a set.)

Anyway, that's about it for now. Just wanted to stop by and say hi. Hope you're doing well, whoever you may be.