My Top 10 2011 Year In Review

1. Stayed employed

With the unemployment rate at 8.6%, 7% in MA where I live, I feel lucky to have a job.

2. Daughter loves college

My youngest daughter has had a successful year and a half at college. I can’t take credit for her academic achievements, but I encouraged her to apply to the small liberal arts college she attends.  It was her top choice and it has been a terrific fit.  Speaking of college, in the summer of 2011, I wrote a post on how to select the right college.

3. Blogged Alot

For my 2010 New Year’s pledge, I vowed to post 7 times a month, and on average did so in 2011, even when I thought I had nothing to say, or was too tired to write what I did have to say.

4. Loyal Up With Chris Hayes Viewer

This is a terrific early morning weekend political show hosted by one of the best young journalists in the country.  I have even been tweeting with other #uppers every Saturday and Sunday morning.  The show has only been on the air for a few months, but I hope it catches on and eventually gets a better time slot.

5. Bucket List Vacation

Took a family vacation to visit my mom and sister in Chicago.  En route, we went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and on the way back, spent a few days in Niagara Falls and Toronto.

6. Read First E-Book

William Dean Howell’s A Hazard of New Fortunes.  I don’t have a Kindle or a Nook so I read it on my HTC Evo.  However, my eyesight seems to have deteriorated, so I ended up with new, more powerful reading glasses.  Notwithstanding my eyesight, the portable e-book reading experience was pleasurable, partly because the book was such an entertaining and informative historical read and partly because it was free.

7. Became a Spotify Addict

I’m a huge Spotify fan and when my free trial runs out, I will buy a monthly subscription.  I can’t tell you how satisfying it has been to have virtually every song and artist at my fingertips.  I’m listening to a playlist I created as I’m writing this, a playlist I shared to


I’ve shared something like 20 playlists I created on Spotify in 2011.  What good is a playlist if you can’t share it?  Some of my playlists include:  Stereolab Mix, The Worst 40 Songs Ever, Kool Keys, Songs About Places and in a nod to my youth, the Mix of ’76.

9. Went to My 30th High School Reunion

Another bucket list activity.  My wife and I had a lot of fun at the reunion and driving around Little Rock.  We went to the Clinton Presidential Museum and caught up with some of my college friends for dinner at a spot along the banks of the Arkansas River.  At my high school reunion, I was one of the few who most had not seen in 30 years and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some didn’t recognize me or even remember me, as was the case with a few folks I should have recognized and remembered, but did not.

10. Went to a Handel & Haydn Society Concert

My oldest daughter invited me to see Beethoven’s 5th Symphony and Haydn’s Clock Symphony on the evening of the show.  I was so tired I almost didn’t go, but I am glad I did.  We had a great time listening to some fantastic music.  My review of the concert can be found here.

2011 was a good year for me.  I hope 2012 will be as good or better.

Newt Took Page from Perry Playbook

Well, Newt stole a play out of Rick Perry’s old playbook.  He’s decided to publicly announce that he has a heart.  This play actually backfired on Rick P. Guv. Perry and along with those abysmal debate performances sent him from front runner status to bottom feeder.  Republican voters apparently really don’t like candidates who say anything remotely sympathetic toward immigrants.  Some leading Republicans have little respect or patience for people who need a helping hand out of poverty, disease, hunger or unemployment.  They idolize author, philosopher, capitalist and atheist, Ayn Rand, who argued through her characters that the playing field is level or neutral and that success is achieved not with support, but by talent and hard work alone.  Of course in politics, each side needs an enemy.  For Republicans, the enemies appear to be immigrants and the Occupy Movement; for Democrats, the Tea Party and the 1%.

Now Newt either does not really want to be the Republican nominee or he was strategically pandering to Latinos when he said he didn’t want to break “illegal” immigrant families apart and thought that there should be a way to give them legal status so that they can continue to live and work here.   Ok, so this sounds pretty progressive when coming from a neoconservative, but I’m reminded of a point that Ezra Klein made on Up With Chris Hayes this morning.  He said, and I’m paraphrasing here, that Newt made it clear that there would be no amnesty.  That instead of offering a green card, his position is tantamount to red carding. And as such, in my view, this is a way to legislate a permanent underclass who could never become an organized voting block and thus never pose a danger to the white right power structure.

Newt is a savvy politician.  He knows what he is doing.  He’s aligned himself squarely against the Occupy Movement, figuring there would be no votes for him there.  And he has come out in “support” of the undocumented, in hopes that Latino voters will fall for his tactics and vote for him over Obama who has actually done very little to advance a new immigration policy as promised.  There is just one flaw in this strategy.  He’s looking too far ahead.  It won’t get him the nomination.  The Republican base controlled by the Tea Party doesn’t want to hear any candidate say anything about the rights of people, particularly the rights of the undocumented.

No, Newt ought to be out there campaigning for the rights of corporations and the 1% who have been so unfairly stigmatized and abused that they’ve been forced to create jobs abroad to make untaxed profits.  As we know, the 1% aren’t really people, they are the chosen few, the elite job creators who we all owe are very existence to.  Newt’s star will fall, because he’s strayed too far from the Republican playbook.  And Mitt’ll be back on top before you know it. One thing Mitt has not flipped flopped on has been his anti-immigrant stance.  It’s going to be an Obama vs. Romney duel in the general election.  But it won’t be about immigration, wealth inequality, or taxes.  It’ll be about “what have you done for me” lately.  The politics of me, unfortunately.  And it’ll come down to voter turnout between the haves and the have nots.

Will Students Get Out the Vote for President Obama?

This was one of the articles I saved from my New York Times news feed for comment:

Students Lose Enthusiasm to Fight For Obama Again

This may be true but only a problem if students don’t vote, but I think they will.  Many students and recent graduates are involved in the various Occupy Movements.  They may have lost their enthusiasm for the President, but who else would they vote for?  Certainly not any of the front running Republican candidates.  The corporate pizza guy, Herman Cain, said of the Occupy participants: “they are trying to destroy the greatest nation in the world.”  Gingrich declared them “destructive, hostile and anti-civilization”.  Mitt Romney argues that corporations are people, with rights, and presumably feelings too, a stance that will surely not garner many Occupy Movement votes.  I don’t think Ron Paul cares a thing in the world about income inequality, but he has gone on record as supporting the protesters if they are against “crony capitalism”.  While the Occupy Movement would like to dismantle practices that have led to the growing disparity of wealth in this country, Ron Paul would like to dismantle the government.  I don’t think this is what Occupy folk have in mind.

As Laura Flanders asserted on Up with Chris Hayes today, if the Occupy Movement is going to be as successful as the Tea Party, they need to start backing political candidates to take the fight to Congress.  And I assert that otherwise, all that youthful energy, the camping out, the sign making, the demonstrations, proclamations and organized chants, the arrests, the occupations, will have all been for naught.


A Weak Republican Field

I was watching Up With Chris Hayes this past weekend and he had some interesting topics for discussion including the latest round of Republican debates, fracking and the border.  I’ll save the topic of fracking and the documentary Gasland for another post.  I want to focus for the moment on presidential politics.

Gary Johnson, former governor of New Mexico was one of the guests on the show.  He is a Republican candidate for President and has been virtually ignored by the national media.  He has been excluded from all of the debates save one, for reasons that are not altogether clear.  What is clear is that he has a few reasonable ideas that are worth discussing, but won’t be discussed because his views don’t align well with the Tea Party or social ultra conservatives.  He favors open borders, and a guest worker program for immigrants.  In true libertarian fashion, Johnson favors legalizing marijuana, arguing that to do so would take the criminal element out of it, and allow the government to regulate and tax it like it does alcohol and tobacco.  On foreign policy, he advocates bringing the troops home from Afghanistan and Iraq.  On other issues, however, he sounds very much like the standard Republican – reduce taxes and reduce government spending on entitlement programs.

As a Democrat, I don’t endorse him, but I don’t understand why Republicans haven’t embraced him because he is more electable than the other candidates. Instead, the Party prefers candidates with exteeeeeme  positions (Bachmann and Paul) and controversial personalities with no experience and vague ideas (Cain) or the professorial type (Gingrich) whose Contract for America in the 90’s was more like a Contract on America, or the monied type (Romney) with more flip flops in a year than a regular beachgoer will own in a lifetime, or the goofy Rick P. Gov. Perry of Texas who has had some of the most stunningly bad public performances  of any candidate in the history of politics.

But Seriously, Folks (a great album by former Eagles guitarist, Joe Walsh, not the politician by the same name) Can’t You See (a great song by the Marshall Tucker Band) that none of these weak Republican candidates stand a chance of defeating President Obama who has one of the lowest approval ratings of any President in recent times.  If the Republicans continue to pander to the narrow social interests of ultra conservative voters or the interests of corporate America as espoused by the Tea Party, they will lose a significant portion of the power they gained in the 2010 midterm elections and squander away the chance to privatize the country.

As an Obama supporter, it’s not in my best interests or the interest of the country for me to give Republicans advice, but they really should take a look at Gary Johnson.  He’s not nearly as cooky as Perry; not as dangerous as Bachmann; much more consistent than Mitt; far more experienced than Cain;  less divisive than Newt; more electable than Paul; more likeable than Santorum and more libertarian than Huntsman, to give him some credibility with the Tea Party.

I hope nobody is reading this, but if you are, don’t spread the word!