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Clowns to the left...


Ever get a song in your head, then you can’t get it out?  I have days like that.  One morning I can recall waking up and out of nowhere I started singing a variation of The Birthday Song. An obscure version that most have never heard and this sorry piece of lyric writing commands my attention for the better part of the morning.  I even passed the “curse” on to a few others.

So, the other day I’m watching the news and pondering my navel when I turn to my wife start singing the lyrics from the Stealers Wheel song “Stuck in the Middle with You.”

Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right, here I am,
Stuck in the middle with you

This morning I am reminded of that song once again.  I work from home, often finding myself, legs up on the coffee table, reclined on the chesterfield (that’s for my Canadian family), laptop whirling away as I program, with the national news on the television.  The mind is an amazing thing, I can be head-down writing code and I hear something totally outrageous being reported oinly to have it jerk me out of my programming moment to listen more intently.  This day was such a day.

It’s no secret that I am “done” with insider politics, today’s news beckons a national voter response.

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An early Public School

An early Public School

My formative years were during the 60’s and 70’s, it was an exciting time to be young.  I remember going to baseball games with my father to cheer on the Washington Senators, being proud of the Washington Redskins as they won their first Super Bowl, watching basketball championships between the Lakers and Knicks and of course watching Cassius Clay, then later  Mohammad Ali, dazzle the sports world with his inside the ring theatrics.

I played little league baseball. I was schooled in the competitive philosophy that it was important to win. The excitement of making a team was like winning a lottery to many of my friends.  It was a good thing to just make the team, despite little hope of playing in the “big games” because you weren’t “that good”, in the end you were part of a winning team. Even kids living in my neighborhood were my mortal enemy during the little league season, all because they were on the other team.  Other than making sport of each other for a bit after the season was over our attentions moved on to the next seasonal distraction.

Politics, at times, feels like a sporting competition to me.  A new political sporting season can occur at any time.  The event that currently dominates is this season’s  political/social debate that focuses on a national healthcare strategy. This isn’t the first such competition…er… uh… debate.  The last time our political parties squared off on national healthcare was in the early 1990’s.

In one corner the “Democrats Socialist Agenda Government Controlled Healthcare At Rich Folks Expense Team”, and in the other corner the “Republicans Wrapped In The Flag Protector of All That Is Good and Holy Sole Defender of Free Markets In Defense of The Rich Folks Team.”

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Voters Against Incumbents is really a time limited movement, isn’t it?  After all, what we really want are representatives to truly vote as the folks at home would.  Click the About menu above to read all about us.

I hope you’ll join us.

(If you’d like to add comments, click the Add Comments menu above for information.)

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Congressional housing?

Congressional housing?

This morning while driving my wife to the train station I tuned-in a talk radio station with Glenn Beck ranting about congressional salaries. I listened as he express a bit of outrage over the fact our congressmen each get an annual salary just over $170k. The last increase of note came as an “automatic” pay increase. The only way this increase could be stopped would be by another congressional vote to repeal it. Thus, flying under the radar, in our tough times congressional representative are doing fine. I’m guessing the last discussion of pay increase came during the Bush years and everyone loved the idea of an automatic increase to avoid much fanfare about it all when the time came.

This got me to thinking about our early years as a country. Being a representative was not for the casual person. In fact, historians generally agree the business of running the government was meant for the wealthy, educated folks of the day. The few elected representatives from modest means were often discounted due to the curious class distinctions of the day.

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VAI_LogoSeptember 17, 2009, Seattle Washington. The grass roots political organization called, VotersAgainstIncumbents.org, stepped up to the political pitchers mound to say, we’re going to strike out all of the politicians in the “league.”  Bring on your political all-stars, the heavy hitters and even the “switch hitters”; no one gets a walk from this group.

So, what is VotersAgainstIncumbents.org all about?  We’re a grass roots political organization of voters who have finally declared we’re through with Washington insider politics.

In order to survive in Washington even the most idealistic representatives must bow to their party’s existing political machine. Most don’t even have a “seat at the table” until they’ve been elected to their post more than once.  Further, if they don’t vote the party line for the most part they are doomed to the Washington sidelines.

What is our strategy? It’s really quite simple.  In three voting cycles the citizens of the United States will take back control of Washington politics, sending representatives to Congress who will vote as their constituents want.  Here is our plan:

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Surgeons in a hospital, it's it public or private?

Surgeons in a hospital, it's it public or private?

Every time I hear the tv and radio heads discuss the current national healthcare legislation, both sides of the political aisle are overstating the real information. This isn’t the plan for us, it stinks. But this shouldn’t be the end of the discussion on SOME OF SORT strategy either.

I hear the mantra, “I don’t want anyone between me and my doctor!” and think of all the free market health policies that are highly restrictive. When there is a question of the viability of a particular procedure in your time of crisis you have to trust an insurance company review board to approve the continued coverage to keep you alive. Movies have been made about their bottom-line. Further, all policies have life-time limits of coverage (some amazingly low), and schedules of how much they are willing to pay hospitals and doctors for nearly every type of medical condition. If you are wealthy, none of this really matter, you can self-insure.

What is so great about our current system?

The current system costs to much, we all agree with that. The current system isn’t really a “free” market system since insurance companies can’t compete across state lines. The current system doesn’t accept new customers with pre-existing conditions, tough luck if you get sick BEFORE you can afford the insurance. The current system is Read the rest of this entry »

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hotwingsI can recall the kitchen being my family’s meeting place. We would all hang out with mom as she was cooking the evening meal, my sister’s often stayed closer to learn a bit of cooking while my brother and I were content to think cooking was a wonderful, mysterious endeavor we would never understand.

As an adult I was able to avoid typical cooking duties by having a wife that enjoyed doing it. I relegated myself to the BBQ grill where (exercising the patience of a shrew) I ruled the with a firm hand on a spatula and another on a water spray bottle to beat down the flames coming from the fat soaked charcoal that would burn my cheap hamburgers. But rule I did.

My first honest consideration of a culinary nature came after watching a friend cook some hot wings. I saw her cook hot wings on a number of occasions, it seemed effortless. This I discovered is a timeless truth, when someone makes a task seem effortless it’s because they’ve put in the time to be fully at ease with it. I asked her to teach me the “how” of cooking hot wings and bravely enter the domain of the kitchen. As it turns out, her kitchen was a very hot place. I never really considered that good hot wings come with a price, the process requires you to be near a hot deep fryer and a skillet that percolates with butter and hot sauce and spices.

My biggest mistake in learning to cook hot wings was rushing the preparation work. I can’t tell you how many wings died a vile death at my hands because of this.

Our national discussion regarding healthcare has an interesting parallel to my own cooking adventure. The idea is pretty good, but arriving at something that works for our country seems like a mystical event.

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Walking in a smoke screen

Walking in a smoke screen

One of the definitions of the phrase “smoke screen” is : [noun] an action intended to conceal or confuse or obscure. In military terms it’s a way of preventing the other side from precisely seeing your movements in time to take action. I couldn’t find the exact origin of the phrase, but I discovered references to it that predate World War I.

In time of war we have to believe a smoke screen is a wonderful tool to reach an end goal. It’s used when few other options still exist and is, frankly, easily implemented. However, in regard to the creation of laws by politicians, the smoke screen tactic should be viewed as unethical. In our long political history as a nation we can find only a few examples of this practice prior to World War I. Perhaps it was the advent of modern communications that seduced law makers to use smoke screens to enact their agendas because in the light of a clear battle field their plans would be shot down.

I can cite a number of occasions that the smoke screen was used to enact laws that ended up being very unpopular once the smoke cleared. By then, the challenge to repeal a law was even more difficult.

The entire discussion of federal income tax is one such occasion. One side of the political aisle claimed it was a way to make the wealthy pay to help the poor, that the taxation would never be applied to the middle and lower class. In point of fact, federal income tax has never been fully ratified by two thirds majority of the states, yet, here we have it. The reality is that once adopted we all were required to pay taxes on our income. It took a bit of time to trickle down, but no one can deny this fact.

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