Thursday, July 30, 2009
2Political Podcast Episode 12 is now available. You can listen to it on the widget on the right side of my blog, or you can go the podcast site, 2political.com. You can leave comments there as well as download or listen to any episode.
Get 2Poltical Podcast for free on iTunes
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Washington, D.C.: To the lefty poster who said DeMint said this would break Obama, I encourage him and all other people who only heard that one small part of his speech to read the full thing. He said that by breaking Obama on this, we can start talking about real health reform proposals. Such as, what you want to do, tax those outsized health benefits.
Steven Pearlstein: You'll pardon me if I say that Jim DeMint's idea of health reform is thin gruel. It will do little toward moving toward universal coverage, little to bend the cost curve on health care expenditures and little to improve the quality of care and the efficiency of the system. It will also be regressive in its effect. As a health reformer, Jim DeMint is a fraud, and for the last 10 years he and his party have done exactly zero about this huge problem for the economy and for the American people. Nothing. Nada. His ideas also are not supported by a majority of the elected people in Congress, so in addition to being inadequate in a policy sense, they have no political viability. Other than that, though, they're swell.
And as I've said the Republicans are only interested in using health care to advance them back into majority status not in reforming the system or helping out the average person.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
There are the Republicans like South Carolina’s Jim DeMitt who aren’t concerned about reforming health care at all but as the Senator says:
“If we’re able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo,” he said in a conference call with GOP activists. “It will break him.”
So glad to see the Republicans see stopping health care reform as a way to get back in power at the expense of the uninsured and those who are insured who’s premiums continue to skyrocket. Once again we see that for the Republicans party is more important than country.
I’m not sure the plans the Democrats will solve all of the problems with health care but allowing the system to go along as it is will be a disaster.
Just some general observations.
We are told that the United States has the best health care in the world. But if you don’t have access to it, it doesn’t matter how good it is.
Critics say they are against a government bureaucrat telling them which doctor they can go to. Yet, isn’t that what insurance companies do. They tell who’s in network and out of network. Isn’t this a bureaucrat telling which doctor you can go to. So these critics have a problem with a government bureaucrat telling them who they can see but have no problem with a bureaucrat from an insurance company telling them the exact thing.
Having lost my insurance because I used it, I can tell you the horrible feeling you get when you're sick and you think it might be something more than the common cold.
A little over 25 years ago I had a major health problem. I had Sarcoidosis and Mycobacterium Kansaii infection, Bronchiectasis and for good measure TB too. The upshot was a lobe of my lung would be cut out.
Three days before the operation I got a call from the hospital. They said my insurance wouldn't pay for the entire operation so I would have to come up with $2,000 before the surgery would be performed. I summed up as much sarcasm as possible and said do they always give so much time to come up with so much money. The women on the other end obviously did not expect such a reation. Thankfully, I was able to call my parents and my mom said without missing a beast don't worry she'd right a check. It turned out the insurance did pay all of it and how I got the money back is another story to tell.
At the end of all this fun, my primary doctor said well since we don't know what caused this it is always possible it could come back. Soon after I was dropped by my insurance and any attempt to insure me by my employer ran into problems. So for a couple of years I had no insurance. Everytime I got a bad cold and started coughing crap up from my lungs I worried if I was getting sick again. I worried that I'd burden my parents with my medical bills.
Eventually my employer got me insured. I'm not exactly sure how he did it but he did. Then five years went by and I could answer all those questions they ask you in the last five years have you had such and such I could say no.
In 1983 my visit to the hospital (not the cost of the surgeon or all the tests that were done on me or the medication I had to take for TB) was around $6,000. I can only imagine what it would be today. But the fact is that without insurance I would never had had the operation. And I kind of figure I wouldn't be around today without the insurance.
So from my perspective health care reform where everyone is insured in some way and has access to care is far overdue.
Monday, July 27, 2009
By Friday evening, when I’d joined a friend for deep dish pizza at Armands, my legs and knees were starting to bother me. I went home and rested some more. When I went to bed I was still feeling it in my legs. The next morning I woke and decided to take a try at the spinning class at Results. It’s an hour long. I figured if I had too much pain I would just stop.
It turns out I didn’t have any problems with the class. A couple of times I had some pain but nothing else. I think going to the class helped with any potential stiffness from the century. I haven’t had any problems since then.
I will say that through most of Friday and Saturday I was constantly hungry. I ate a meal and in a hour or so I'd fell hungry again. I decided since I'd ridden 100 miles I would indulge myself a little. I didn't eat all bad stuff but I had pizza twice and a burger on Saturday along with some fries. But I figure you gotta eat.
Once again I'm very please with what I accomplished on Friday. I might try and do another one in August. This time I'm going to buy a light so I can scare away the monster on the bridge.
I remember not too long ago looking forward to going through the Sunday paper. There were always all sorts of interesting stories in the front section or the arts or sports. Stories that in the course of an ordinary week would not be covered. The start of some investigative series that would continue on during the course of the week. I also looked forward going through the TV section to see what was going to be on for the week.
Now with the cut backs the Post has done the Sunday paper is a pale imitation of what it once was. I hardly watch any TV any more so there one less reason to get the paper. I can use the guide from DirecTV to get even more information then in the TV listing. There are some weeks when I barely even look at it. I guess I’m still getting it from force of habit.
The AC has yet to be turned on
DC is finally getting real summer like weather. I've yet to turn on my central air conditioning. I've used the window unit in my bedroom three times so far this year. My goal is to try and not turn on the central air until August. It might be a stretch but I'm really going to try.
The cool weather has been great for the electric bill. The bill from July of last year I used 680 kilowatts. This July I used only 329 kilowatts. It will be interesting to see what August will bring.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Anyway my adventure began very early. I got up around 3:40 in the morning. I’d hope to be off by 4 am but quickly decided that was not going to be possible. There is a lot of stuff to do before you head out. I had to get my sun screen on even though the sun wouldn’t be up for a couple of hours and I wouldn’t be directly in it for a couple more. I had to fill my camelback. Make sure all my food was packed (proper placement of pop tarts is essential).
I set out just at 4:20 am. It was dark but not as dark as I thought it would be. The street lights really made it easy to see things. For added safety I had two flashing amber lights. One I put on my back pack underneath my seat and the other won went on the back of my helmet. If I decide to do this again I think I’m going to get some sort of light. It would have been handy for a couple of things that happened later in the trip.
The trip through the city went off without a hitch. Funny thing at 4:30 in the morning there’s not a whole lot of traffic in DC even Georgetown was empty. I crossed over the Key Bridge and then the fun really began. The Custis Trail which what connects DC to the W&OD Trail is not all that long but there’s where I had the most fun of my trip.
The first occurred while I was crossing a bridge. I heard a rustling to my right. I’d obviously spooked an animal. Now it wasn’t some cut bunny but something else entirely. I couldn’t see what it was but all of a sudden it was making loud noises at me. Sort of like a cross between a cat hissing and a dog barking. Needless to say it scared the hell out of me. My immediate reaction was to pedal much faster even though I couldn’t see all that well ahead of me. And I kept peddling for a while to get out of range of, as I like to call it, the monster on the bridge. I can’t blame the animal it felt trapped since I was about half way across the bride when I spooked it. I sure it felt completely trapped with no place to go. I’m also sure I didn’t hit it because I know I would have felt that.
The next incident occurred about twenty minutes later. I’m coming down a hill and making a right hand turn on to the last part of the Custis Trail before it links up with the W&OD. There are lights along this part of the trail but none of the lights are on. It is dark. Not pitch dark but still very dark. I slow way down. For the next half mile or so none of the lights are on. The street lights nearby are on. The lights illuminating the express way are working too. This gives some light to the trail but not a great deal. Finally I come up over a small hill and the lights are back on again. The only thing I can think of is that the storm we’d had the night before must have knocked the power out of this section.
I make it to near where one of my friend’s live and use the port-o-potty that is near the dog park. It has taken me an hour to go just a little over 10 miles. I’ve very pleased with my progress. Now on to the W&OD. Here I pull out the cord to my odometer so I loose the recording of some mileage. I figure it is just about 3 miles. There’s a lot of stopping and starting since the trail crosses several roads. I slow down and stop for all but one. Dawn is still 40 minutes away.
All of a sudden I start to hear the birds. It’s funny to think I started out before the birds were up. With more light it is easier to see and easier to go faster on the bike. There are now joggers out on the trail as well as other riders. At 6:02 the sun officially rises. For the next hour or so my glasses fog up from time to time.
I’m making very good time. Much faster than I expected. The plan was to be by my friend’s house around 6. I beat that by forty minutes. The next goal is Smith Switch Station which is approximately mile 26 on the trail. I’m beginning to pick up some speed. There are a few towns I’m passing through. Vienna, Reston and Herndon. But because it is so early there is hardly any traffic either on the roads (several of which I have to cross) or on the trail. At this rate I’ll be at the Switch Station right around 7.
I reach the Switch Station right around 7. I stop and have a banana and use the rest room. I figure Leesburg is ten miles away I stop there and get something more to eat. But I’m now really moving. 17, 18, 20 miles an hour on the bike for long periods of time. I decide to head on to the end of the trail at Purcellville. I’m getting a little hungry now but decide to keep going.
I reach Purcellville at 8:20. 4 hours (take out the stops and it’s closer to 3 hours 40 minutes) to cover 50 miles not bad at all. I’m also over an hour ahead of when I expected to get here. I thought 9:30-10:00 at the earliest. I thought I stop at a store and buy some more water and maybe something to eat. But nothings open around where I am. I take a moment eat my chicken sandwich and call some people let them know how fast I got to the half way point. I’m completely blown away by it. My legs feel really good. I don’t feel tired.
I take a little time to rest up. Around 9 I start back.
I took things a little slower. Part to conserve my energy and also in part because I was a little tired. The ride around Purcellville is really nice. The path is like a tunnel because of the trees. It’s very shady and the temperature is moderate.
I begin to gain some speed again. I find that this goes in cycles. My legs seem to be spent and then slowly I start to speed up. I’m going 17, 18 19 miles an hour. I do this for 10 or 15 minutes at time and then I slow back down. I don’t have any real problems until I suddenly run out of water. I’ve emptied my camelback. Thankfully the Switch Station isn’t all that far away and there’s a water fountain there. There are vending machines that sell water too but all I’ve got in my wallet are 20s. Not very helpful.
I reach the Switch Station and fill up my camelback. I take a good 15 minutes to rest. There are a couple of hills yet to come which will be hard and then it will be flat. I’d called my friend and said I’d be stopping by his house around 1. It turns out I get there are 12:20. 40 miles in 3 hours 20 minutes. Once again I’m really impressed by what I’ve done.
I stay at his place until 1. I figure I need the rest. The sun has come out and although not extremely hot I can tell it’s taken a toll on me.
Finally at 1 pm I head out. The last hour. Back onto the Custis Trail the majority of which is down hill. I don’t have to expend as much energy. I cross the Key Bridge again which brings me into Georgetown. Now there is traffic in every direction. I weave in and out of it and maintain a good pace. I go around Thomas Circle. I’m about 20 blocks from home. There is one last obstacle the hill on Rhode Island Avenue that starts once you get past North Capitol. My legs are screaming when I go up this but I know it is the last hard thing I’ll have to do for the entire ride. Slowly and I mean slowly I get to the top of the hill. Then it’s a nice coast down.
I finally turn on to my street and get to my house. It is just 2:10. The whole 100 miles including stops in 9: 50 minutes. According to my odometer (this is minus the 3 miles it lost because the wire was out of it) I went 97.08 miles in 7 hours 29 minutes and 12 seconds. My average speed was 12.9 miles an hour and the maximum I reached was 25.5. Not a bad days work.
And what did I do today — I got up and went to my hour spinning class.
Friday, July 24, 2009
I left at 4:20 am. Yes that's right 4:20 am. Got to Purcellville which is just about 50 miles by 8:20 am. On the ride back I took more time. I left around 9am and got back to my house a little after 2.
I'll give all the details especially the monster on the bridge but it will have to be tomorrow. Right now I need to rest.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
The Cubs loaded the bases and actually scored runs. The Nationals loaded the bases and didn't score any runs. That's the game in a nut shell.
Monday, July 20, 2009
There are times when the passing of an individual seems to sum up an era of time. I believe the death of Walter Cronkite was one of those times. His passing points to the passing of a way of journalism and a way of receiving. I remember the days of only 3 networks. You sat down and watched the news of the day usually over dinner. There was no CNN or internet just CBS, NBC and ABC. News seemed well for lack of a better way to put it more like news. There was fluff but there seemed to be a great deal less of it than today.
As for Cronkite, in particular one of my very first memories, is of him. Actually, of an event he reported on. It was the assassination of John F. Kennedy. It is something that is indelibly etched in my mind. I remember my mom and I were watching a soap most likely the Secret Storm when CBS interrupted the broadcast. After a while, I’m not sure exactly how long, Cronkite made the announcement of Kennedy’s death. I remember my mom crying. I also remember later in the evening my dad coming home and entering the house through our back door at the moment Kennedy’s coffin was being taken off Airforce One.
Cronkite might be best remember for his trip to Viet Nam and his report that followed. He concluded there was no way to win the war. Shortly after Lyndon Johnson announced he would not run for re-election. Did Cronkite cause that? He certainly was a major fact in Johnson’s decision. The oft quote from Johnson was after watching the report Johnson said to the effect if I’ve lost Cronkite I’ve lost middle America.
And in light of the 40th anniversary of landing on the moon today, you have to talk about Cronkite’s coverage of NASA. (Here's a link to a great story at USA Today.) I don’t think you could call him a booster of NASA. I think he showed what everyone thought when Apollo 11 landed on the noon. Wow this is really happening. Cronkite’s enthusiasm was great. He was like a little kid.
Cronkite’s passing is sad because it really is an end of an era.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
But more importantly a nominee should not be answering the questions because this would in no way reflect how they would rule on a real case. In a real case there’s probably hundreds of pages of transcript on the specific case. There are oral arguments from both sides of the issue. There’s been questions from the judges to the lawyers from both sides. Completely and totally different from hypothetical. Good for Judge Sotomayor for not falling into this trap. No judge should.
Then there has been the on-going wise Latina flap. Republicans give it a rest. Eugene Robinson has a great piece on this in the Post.
I think this sums up the argument against this idiocy very well:
Republicans’ outrage, both real and feigned, at Sotomayor’s musings about how her identity as a “wise Latina” might affect her judicial decisions is based on a flawed assumption: that whiteness and maleness are not themselves facets of a distinct identity. Being white and male is seen instead as a neutral condition, the natural order of things. Any “identity” -- black, brown, female, gay, whatever -- has to be judged against this supposedly “objective” standard.
Thus it is irrelevant if Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. talks about the impact of his background as the son of Italian immigrants on his rulings -- as he did at his confirmation hearings -- but unforgivable for Sotomayor to mention that her Puerto Rican family history might be relevant to her work. Thus it is possible for Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) to say with a straight face that heritage and experience can have no bearing on a judge’s work, as he posited in his opening remarks yesterday, apparently believing that the white male justices he has voted to confirm were somehow devoid of heritage and bereft of experience.
I also think it is completely dishonest to say that someone background does not play a role in how they look at cases. Sessions went on about you only must look at the law and you should not be influenced by anything else. Well if you carry this to its logical conclusion then all Supreme Court decisions should be 9-0 because there’s only one way to interpret the law. Actually no there’s not. Someone’s back ground is going to play a part in the interpretation of the law. The question that can be asked is how much that will influence someone’s decision on a case.
I’ve been mugged so I think I might have a very different take on a mugging case then say someone who has not been mugged. The thing is how well can I put aside what happened to me and look at only the case before me. I’ve been on a couple of juries since the mugging and I think I’ve done a good job of putting it aside.
Also the final thing to consider is the hearings are essentially Kabuki theater. There is no real chance the Republicans have of stopping the nomination but they can blow a whole lot of hot air to placate their base. And by the way the Democrats are doing the exact same thing.
The important thing is that in a very few short weeks the US will have its first Latina Supreme Court Justice. About time too!
2PP011 - 16 July 2009
2Political Podcast Episode 11 is now available. You can listen to it on the widget on the right side of my blog, or you can go the podcast site, 2political.com. You can leave comments there as well as download or listen to any episode.
Get 2Poltical Podcast for free on iTunes
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Metro's Red Line riders aren't likely to get relief from what has become a painful commute anytime soon. The transit agency is planning to begin a major overhaul of the line in early 2010 that will last years.
The first phase will focus on the area of track between the Dupont Circle and Silver Spring stations and will take 48 months to complete, said Metro spokeswoman Taryn McNeil.
I can hardly wait well actually that's exactly what I will be doing is waiting. The work will be done after 8 pm during the week. It will be interesting to see what happens to ridership.
Maybe Metro will finally learn to communicate properly with its passengers. I don't hold out much hope on that.
A perfect example is what happened last Tuesday. There was of course some sort of delay. Several trains pulled into Metro Center and were jammed full of people. Finally it looked like things were starting to get less crowded when the following.
First a little set up. There's an electronic sign on each side of the platform that says the number of cars in the train, the train's destination and how many minutes before it pulls into the station.
The first train listed on the sign stated it was an eight car train. People spread out along the platform to be able to board all of the cars. When the train pulled in, it was in fact a six car train instead. So people who had spread out to the end of the platform had to run to try and get on the train.
Needless to say not many people got on. The next train was listed as a six car train. So people did not spread out along the platform. When this train pulled into the station it was an eight car train. Because of where the escalator is at Metro Center, few people were able to get down the platform and get on the last two cars. When the train pulled out there were seats available in those two cars. Where as other cars on the train were packed. My guess is, at the very minimum, 50 more people could have gotten on the last two cars.
And that is Metro's problem in a nutshell. It never seems to able to give proper information to its riders. And somehow I hold out little hope during the upcoming upgrade of the Red Line.
Wednesday, July 08, 2009
Finally, Sunday morning it gave out. I decided to change the batteries and hope that would fix the problem. Easier said than done. The first battery came out fine. The second one was another matter entirely. I couldn’t get it to budge. Finally I had to take a kitchen knife and pry the thing out. I figured that I’d probably wrecked the thing but thought to put in new batteries anyway. I was right it did not work.
Luckily, at least I thought at the time, I had a spare remote. About the only thing I could do with it was change the station. So I accessed the menu and attempted to program the remote. There were six different codes. I could get none of them to work.
I called DirecTV trying to get some help. The first guy I talked to was not very helpful. Here’s an example. He asked me to read him the model number of the remote so he could look it up. But he failed to tell me where I would find the number. I had to ask. The bottom line from this guy was I could spend $15 to get another remote sent to me or a technician could come out and program the remote for $50. I said thanks but no thanks.
I thought about what the guy had said and decided to call back with a couple of additional questions. This person from DirecTV was a little better. When she asked me which remote I had she told be where to find the number in the upper left hand corner. We did the same thing with the codes to no avail. She questioned if this remote had come with my HD receiver because usually a different model comes with an HD receiver. The bottom line couldn’t get the thing to work.
But I also learned this. DirecTV could not guarantee that the remote (if they sent me a new one) sent me would work with the my TV. They could not guarantee that if someone came out that they could get the remote to work with the my TV. Seems that they should guarantee that they would give you a remote that would work with your TV. Otherwise how does on put this it makes no sense to keep DirecTV.
The women agreed to send me another remote. She said she would credit my account $5 for three months so it wouldn’t cost me anything. She said it would come FedEx and take three or four business days. Well I got the thing yesterday. I followed the instructions sent with the remote. First two codes didn’t work. But in the third time lucky of third times the charm code three worked.
At least now I have a remote that works.
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
“The way she decided to exit from state politics was surprising, but everybody knew she had essentially checked out a year ago,” said Les Gara, a Democratic state representative who partnered with Palin on issues of tax reform and energy before the campaign but is now a political opponent.
There's link after link on this story. Here's the main story from the Washington Post. Here's a story from Sunday. A column by Ruth Marcus. There are of course scores of other articles as well. Many many many columns from the pundits. Some on the right saying it was a brilliant move this positions her for 2012.
To me here's the bottom line. Sarah Palin quit. Plain and simply. Some people said some not so nice things about her and her family so she quit. There were some ethics investigations (rightly or wrongly) so she quit. There were going to have to be some hard decisions because of the down turn in the economy so instead of making them she quit. She didn't get all the legislation passed she wanted so she quit. She didn't like the "politics of personal destruction" so she quit.
I could go on but I think you get my point. Wait a minute let me say it again: the bottom line is she quit.
As far as I'm concerned this act makes her completely unqualified to be president.
President Obama has had some tough going and people have said some not so nice things about him and his family. But I don't see him quiting. He's working harder.
When push comes to shove Sarah Palin folds her tent and steals away into the night ie
However, some of the plants have decided to soldier on without me and bloom. Here are a few pictures of the gladiolas in the back yard.
Monday, July 06, 2009
The weather could not have been better. It was partly cloudy most of the day and in the low 80s. Usually by July 4th heat has rolled in to DC. This was not the case on Saturday. In fact the great weather is supposed to continue to be wonderful through the weekend.
As you can see from the pictures below, we had a great view.
Saturday, July 04, 2009
It seemed a little scaled back from previous years. It didn't take up as much space as it usually does. But it was as always very entertaining. Here are some pictures and a couple of video clips from my visit.
Before he put the stone on the wall in the picture he said I need a corner stone.
Thursday, July 02, 2009
2PP010 - 2 July 2009
2Political Podcast Episode 10 is now available. You can listen to it on the widget on the right side of my blog, or you can go the podcast site, 2political.com. You can leave comments there as well as download or listen to any episode.
Get 2Poltical Podcast for free on iTunes
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
Here’s some of the opinion from the Minnesota Supreme Court:
•Coleman did not establish that, by requiring proof that absentee voting standards were satisfied before counting a rejected absentee ballot, the trial court changed standards that violates Coleman’s due process rights.
•Coleman didn’t prove that either the trial court or local election officials violated the constitutional guarantee of equal protection.
•The three-judge panel did not abuse its discretion when it excluded additional evidence.
•The panel court ruled correctly when it included in the final election tally the election day returns of a precinct in which some ballots were lost before the manual recount.
“For all of the foregoing reasons, we affirm the decision of the trial court that Al Franken received the highest number of votes legally cast and is entitled under Minn. 32 Stat. § 204C.40 (2008) to receive the certificate of election as United States Senator from the State of Minnesota.”
At least Norm Coleman conceded graciously:
“The Supreme Court has spoken. We have a United States senator,” Coleman said in a news conference outside his home in St. Paul. “It’s time to move forward.”
It took rather a long time to get here. But sometimes that’s how the democratic process works. Coleman had a right to all the appeals. He should have realized a little earlier that he was not going to win.
There’s a very interesting analysis of how Franken won in the Post.
Perhaps the most important:
• It Pays To Be Ahead: When the statewide recount ended, Franken led by 225 votes. As we wrote at the time (and many times after that), it’s hard to overstate how important the fact that Franken was ahead was to setting public perception regarding the legal fight that ensued. Coleman was forced to be the aggressor legally, claiming that all sorts of ballots had been illegally counted (and not counted) while, through it all, the fact that Franken led by 225 votes hung over the proceedings. Voters tend to lose interest in politics quickly -- particularly after an election as nasty and long as this race was -- and that sort of fatigue played right into Franken’s hands.
The most important lesson to learn is how important it is to vote and to count every single vote.