Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Wrote a Song for Everyone

Saw the people standin', thousand years in chains.
Somebody said it's different now, look, it's just the same.
Pharaohs spin the message, round and round the truth.
They could have saved a million people, how can I tell you?
"Wrote a Song for Everyone" by Creedence Clearwater Revival (written by John Fogerty).

I was listening to some CCR on the drive in to work this morning and the lyric above stuck with me.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

So, This is What a Failed State Looks Like

Surprisingly, all of the budget related ballot measures in last night's special election did not pass. The only measure that passed was the "stick it to the man" measure that denies raises to the state legislature if the budget is not balanced. I'm sure the legislature will find ways around that: cost of living increases, stipend/per diem increases, all that good stuff.

Maybe people are finally waking up in California. Or maybe they're just tired of being taxed to death. Or maybe they just blame our Republican-in-name Governator for the mistakes of his liberal predecessor, the liberal voters of the past, and the current liberal legislature.

While I'd normally be quite please about this, Arnie is now threatening to take "drastic" measures to make up for the lost monies. He's talking about laying off 5,000 state employees, including 3,000 corrections officers. He's also talking about releasing 38,000 inmates from the state prison system.

I'm sure there are going to be tax increases as well. Property tax revenues are down since the real estate bubble burst. State property taxes are 1.1% of the property's purchase price or last appraisal. We have some built in protection that caps how fast the taxes can go up, but no protection on how fast they can decline. My own property taxes dropped over $1,000 from 2007 to 2008. I'm expecting 2009's property taxes to be even lower, but in 2010 they will probably be double what they were in 2007. Not that I think my home's value is going to rebound, but I think that the state is going to triple or quadruple the property tax in order to pay for its youth indoctrination public school program.

Our sales tax went up as a "temporary" measure on 01 April of this year. I'm sure that there will be an "emergency" extension of it in the coming weeks, if not another "emergency" increase.

Our vehicle registration fees also doubled on 01 April of this year.

Our unemployment rate is 11.5%. If I remember correctly (and I'm too lazy to research it) back when times were "good" it was projected that at 7% unemployment the unemployment program would pay out more money than it took in by 2013. If this high rate holds up, it will probably be in the red by 2010 or 2011. I'm expecting the unemployment withholding to either skyrocket or for the unemployment checks to stop getting mailed.

We already stopped mailing welfare checks once this year. That will probably happen again.

All of this makes me want to re-check my pantry and re-count my ammo.

I guess I'll be re-reading a lot of FerFAL's old posts.

The hell of it is that I'm pretty much stuck here. It seemed like a good idea to buy a house in 2005. I could probably sell it now for less than a third of what I owe on it, which I'm not willing to do.

I wonder if Texas would accept me and my family if we claimed political asylum.

It's not that I don't support the state layoffs (other than law enforcement), unemployment cuts, and welfare cuts. I'm worried about what the people who feel they are entitled to their jobs and my money might do when they no longer have them.

Texas Constructs U.S. Border Wall To Keep Out Unwanted Americans

This was too good not to pass along.

WICHITA FALLS, TX—Calling it an essential step toward securing the Texas border and protecting his people's way of life, Gov. Rick Perry announced Tuesday the completion of a 1,953-mile wall designed to keep out millions of unwanted Americans.

According to Perry, the 75-foot-high barricade running along the northern boundary is the culmination of more than 160 years of escalating tensions between Texas and the United States.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Judging a Book by its Cover II

The previous post got me to thinking...

We have a relatively new sales woman at work. She's quite good looking, smart, and a flaming liberal. Or so I thought.

The day after the election, she was doing a little dance in the office of a democrat co-worker. Coronation day, she was as happy as could be.

From those two incidences, I decided that it would be best to not discuss politics since we need to maintain a working relationship and we already get on quite well.

The other day a group of us were discussing Swine Flu and how likely it is that the 5 confirmed cases in our county is probably incorrect due to under reporting. She piped up with "I don't trust anything the government tells me."

Now maybe she is still a flaming liberal, but anyone with an inherent distrust of government isn't entirely bad in my book.

Judging a Book by its Cover

I had an interesting conversation with a co-worker a while back. Another co-worker's step-son had been arrested the previous day for being in possession of firearms and narcotics and some gang related offenses. His mugshot was plastered on the evening news and local news websites.

My co-worker remarked that the kid looked like a gangbanger scumbag. I agreed and we started talking about the release of mugshot photos and how they can convince people -- and potential jurors -- of a suspect's guilt. He went on to say that -- if he did not know me -- if he saw a headline reading "Local man arrested with several firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition" accompanied by my picture that we would just comment "fucking separatist" and presume my guilt.

That exchange made me think about my appearance. At the time -- mid-winter -- I was wearing a hooded sweatshirt with a Culpepper Minutemen flag on it, khaki BDU pants (they just look like cargo pants), and tanker boots. Due to my receding hairline (thanks, Dad!) I keep my hair closely cropped. Due to my lack of chin, I wear a goatee (not a Van Dyke...look it up). Due to my Scotish and Irish ancestry, I do not tan well.

I'm not displeased with my appearance (except maybe my spare tire) and have no desire to change it, but I realize that --depending on the charges -- I'm probably seriously screwed if I have to face the media or a jury of my peers. No matter how eloquently I speak; even if I shave and grow my hair out, all the prosecutor would have to do is show my mugshot and photos of my "armory" to the jury.

Reason Magazine ran an interesting article on mugshots and their public release in April.

I'll admit to looking at mugshots and laughing. I'll even admit to presuming someone's guilt from his mugshot. When a guy is arrested for public intoxication and posession of methamphetamine and he's wild-eyed with Nick Nolte-esque hair and he has dozens of scabs on his face, it's a valid assumption. But is it fair?

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Ghost of Tom Joad

(I'd have the videos embedded, but YouTube isn't playing nice today)

I'm not a big fan of Bruce Springsteen. Sure, I have Born in the USA (on vinyl, no less) and I'll sing along when "Dancing in the Dark" comes on the radio, but I'm still not a fan. It's a combination of (most) of his music not being my style and his politics.

I'm also no fan of John Steinbeck. He's second to Ernest Hemingway on my list of least favorite writers. Arthur Miller rounds out the top three. It's not that I have a problem with Steinbeck's writing; it's poignant and easy to read. I think having Steinbeck force-fed to me throughout middle and high school really ruined his works for me. Growing up in the Salinas Valley, California, Steinbeck was our golden boy. There's even a multimillion dollar Steinbeck Center in Salinas.

There's been a lot of discussion around the blogs -- and maybe even the mainstream media -- about The Grapes of Wrath in the past year. I haven't read the book in about fifteen years, but I do see how it relates to current times.

Bruce Springsteen wrote a really good song inspired by the book called "The Ghost of Tom Joad." Rage Against the Machine also did a really good, really angry cover of the song.

I probably like the song so much because I am misinterpreting it. I'm pretty sure Springsteen was likening the Great Depression and the fallout from the Dust Bowl to the recession of the 80's and early 90's which was undoubtedly a result of the vast right wing conspiracy.

Well, fuck all that. The great thing about music is that the listener can interpreted the way he wants to. Being as stubborn and single-minded as I am, I can completely forget that the song was written in the mid-90's and pretend that it was written during the current political and economical charlie foxtrot we're going though right now.

Election night, a line from the song popped into my head and it really hasn't left since:

The highway is alive tonight
But nobody's fooling nobody as to where it goes
I'm sitting down here in the camp fire light
With the ghost of old Tom Joad

In all honesty, a lot of people are fooled as to where the road is going. Every day this week Bernanke and the mainstream media have been talking about the light at the end of the tunnel. Those of us who are "woken up" are not fooled. We know where the road is going. It may have some beautiful scenery just past the shoulders, but we know there's a cliff around one of those curves.

Inspiration Found?

I've been over at Hermit's this morning. The posts he's put up may have helped me find the inspiration to start posting again.

Now, let's just see if I can get my thoughts out of my head and onto the screen in a cohesive manner.