GenX crusader….really?

My wife just fwd me this article from NY Times Magazine.

Jamie Oliver, aka The Naked Chef dude, is evidence that GenX has it’s share of crusaders. And true to GenX form his mission is concecrete and entrepreneurial. He wants people to learn the joys of a homecook meal, and eat healthy. A more than worthy cause. And he’s more than succesfful at it to date.

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Chuck Moss – hypocrit extraordinaire

After posting about Chuck Moss, the jerk that represents my district, I immediately had poster’s regret. Not because I regret what I wrote. I do not. But because I’d rather focus my attention on other things than politics, like books and movies and my family and watching paint dry. But sometimes I just can’t help myself.

This morning my guilt was assuaged and my ire re-inflamed when I discovered this blog post by Tim Skubick, a journalist who has been covering Michigan politics for a long time.

In it Moss exposes himself as the jackass hypocrite that he is. He expounds upon how we like any family (his words not mine; I do not now nor have ever, nor would I never consider this guy family) we must all tighten our belts. Seems reasonable considering economic circumstances, especially here in Michigan. Except Mr. Moss doesn’t seem to think that this virtue applies to himself. Unlike some of his colleagues in Lansing he wasn’t going to cut his own salary until he was forced to when Skubick called him out on it on the PBS show about Michigan politics Off the Record. To cover his skeezy ass he wrote a lousy $2,000.00 check after the show. BFD. The dude makes like $72,000 for crying out loud. And he was lawyer before that and no doubt was not hurting for money when he got elected.  No wonder some people want to do away with government all together.

And then today, on Michigan radio, in a report covering state politics and the budget negotiations, Moss-mouth self-righteously proclaims that “It is about time that Lansing started living within it’s means.” Except for him and probably a lot of  his ilk up there in the state capital.

Of course, what this really means is that citizens all across this state will suffer because not only will school budgets be cut — AGAIN! — but also prisons and libraries. What does that mean exactly — cutting prisons? Less guards? Releasing prisoners? What? As for libraries, I realize that some people are ambivalent about them while others feel that libraries could disappear and no one would notice. Well, that simply isn’t true. Many, many people would not only notice the absence of the library they would be quite upset if not outraged by the loss. Historically speaking,  during economic downturns library usage goes up, for any number of reasons, the main one being that libraries are a free form of entertainment, which helps when people are watching their money.

The point here is not that cuts aren’t needed. Obviously, they are. But rather it is the hypocrisy of someone like Moss who expects everyone else in the family to tighten their belt while he is unwilling to do the same (until forced to anyway) and in fact will probably even need to let out his belt from the  bloat of self-righteous pride filling his gut.

Today Jack Lessenberry, columnist for the Metro Times and political analyst for Michiganradio has a commentary about what is going on in Lansing right now. A strong  well-articulated argument and simply good information and advice for the likes of Mr. Moss but one doubts very much that he or his political croneies upstate will listen to Jack, never mind  a regular schmo citizen such as myself, or anyone else for that matter.

Every time this happens and I flap about it to my poor, patient wife she says pretty much the same thing. “It’s time to get out!”  Even if I wanted to, I could not disagree.

add to the list of reasons to leave Michigan

Chuck Moss, Michigan State Rep for District 40,  which of course is my district.

I voted for this yahoo in the last election(2008), even though at the time it seemed like a good idea to chuck every Republican out of office. Of course, as we’ve learned allowing one party to have too much power is a recipe for disaster. Anyway, the dude seemed reasonable enough, I mean for a politician and a lawyer. I know, what was I thinking?

Anyhoo… I might have continued to hold such a view if I hadn’t made the  mistake of sending him an email expressing my discontent over the matter of school budget cuts. It wasn’t my idea, but at the request of the PTA.  These cuts will come after funds from the state had already been set. And this isn’t the first time that Lansing has done this to our schools.

Anyway the response I got was typical political malarkey. Check it:

Dear Chris,

Thanks for writing me about the School Aid Fund budget.  This budget is a Bi-partisan, Democratic/Republican effort to balance the budget.  House Speaker Andy Dillon and Majority Leader Mike Bishop joined hands to get a budget done and avoid a shutdown.  I don’t like all the cuts either, especially to education, but with our revenues down 22% and unemployment at 15%, we face hard choices.

Actually, the budget as adopted decreases the per-pupil state aid by $218, but allows local districts the flexibility to absorb the cuts by reducing or eliminating any other funded (categorical) program except a handful like Durant, special education, school lunch.  In other words, the schools can use the “categorical” money for their own educational priorities, something that school groups specifically asked for.

Once again, no one wants to make any cuts to schools, but when our income goes down so drastically, we have to do what every family does and tighten our belts and live within our means.

Chuck Moss

Of course I get the obligatory thanks for writing which is immediately followed by Chuckie touting the Bi-partisian efforts, as if this is some great accomplishment, when it should be the norm. I love the “joined hands” phrase, as if to conjure images of too best buddies frolicking in a meadow. Then of course I get hit with numbers to set me up for the justification for the cuts, which comes with the rhetorical device of  beginning with “Actually….” an attempt to strike a pose that suggest this is really not as bad as it sounds, and in fact you should be thankful it is not worse. But I don’t think anyone would be thankful for $218 per pupil cut, especially after the district was already counting on this money. Because these dipshits up in the state capitol cannot get their act together in time we, the citizens, have to suffer. Furthermore, Mr. Moss sees no problem in cutting things like special education and school lunches, because the unfortunate children with disabilities aren’t really worth education anyway and there’s no need to provide a hot lunch option to our children.  They should suck it up and brown bag it like he did, it’ll build character.

I found it curious that he does not like all the cuts but he does not explicitly express his dislike for the cuts to schools. This made me wonder, since Mr. Moss lives in Birmingham and has two daughters, do his children attend the public schools. Turns out they do not, although they did. They’re grown now and —  wait for it — that’s right living out of state.  Lucky for them, eh. They got their education, from the same school that my daughter now attends. And then what? Bolted the state, which I can hardly blame them for. After all, we plan to do the same, although in mine and my wife’s defense we paid for our state-school educations here in Michigan and have worked and paid taxes in the state for more than a reasonable amount of time. But I digress, as I am prone to do. The point is, Mr. Moss really has no vested interest in the schools. But I can’t help but wonder what cuts are not being made. Not to mention will this budget include reasonable tax increases to balance the cuts.

In another email, I called Mr. Moss out on this point and he seemed to feel that his daughters having once attended B’ham school gave him some kind of credibility on the matter. Talk about political gobbledygook, a term that Mr. Moss took offense to. He’d have preferred that I call his position bullshit! Why are so many Republicans potty mouths? Or trying to pick up other men in potties. Oooh! That was just so wrong.

Another bit of political gobbledygook that I called Mr. Moss out on was his attempt to endear himself and deflect constituent ire but referring to  us all as a family. He denied this was what he was trying to do, claiming that is the gov’s rhetoric. The gov happens to be a Democrat and so often used by Repubs such as Mr Moss as a scapegoat or someone to pass the buck to. Criticism of the Gov are not wholly undeserved. Of course, that doesn’t make them useful or productive. It is just petty sniping and a waste of time, which is why the solution to the budget crisis here in Michigan has become so dire. Anyway, to further counter Mr. Moss backpedaling, I found this video clips of him using that very same phrase.

Also worth nothing in this video is his mumbling dismissal of cuts that would effect children and seniors at approximately 1:39.

And then at approximately 2:49 he takes a partisan dig at Dems, saying that the stimulus money from Obama is like oil money, and suggesting that the state should not be taking it. Because it is more important to cut school budgets than to accept funds from a President that isn’t of your party.

But is this a good reason to leave the state? No, not alone. But considering it along with other factors, it makes the move easier to justify, not that justication is required.

Memo to Liberals: Quit your whining about Obama’s cabinet choices!

Oh, my: Barack Obama is still more than a month away from assuming the presidency, and already there are reports about “the left” being dispirited about change they no longer believe in.

B-O-O! H-O-O!

There is nothing new about anxiety among progressives that the candidate they just elected is destined to break their ideological hearts. In his journals, no less a loyalist to John F. Kennedy than the late historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. expressed dismay during the 1960 transition period over Kennedy’s apparent attraction to “a collection of rather respectable and conservative names for the Cabinet.”

However….

Schlesinger concluded that Kennedy was seeking “an administration of conservative men and liberal measures,” an intriguing notion to apply to Obama.

Read full article here.

This strikes me as a good balance. It’s pragmatic.

Radical politics of any kinds is not good. We got that for the last 8 years. What do these piss mouths think, that swinging far in the other direction will somehow put all right with the world? It won’t. It will only cause a host of different kinds of problems.

This is largely a centrist country. Center-right, center-left, whatever. You can argue over that. But you can’t argue that it is near the center somehow.

It’s funny. During the campaign I was maligned with the label left wing liberal, a moniker I would have refuted but didn’t because the right wing Fox-propaganda-guzzling hack that slung at me wasn’t interested in a rational debate, but only to tell me to shut the fuck up. So I did. And Obama won anyway. My point is my politics aren’t that simple. And I don’t believe I’m unusual in that respect. People aren’t just one thing or the other.

Also, I can’t help wondering if many of these disillusioned lefties aren’t Millennials who were expecting some kind of grand sweeping revolution. If it is, there will be no revolution. I know your Boomer parents tainted your thinking with that concept, and for that I am sorry, though mostly I’m just annoyed, as a GenXer who wants to vomit every time I hear some fucking exhippy 60 dipshit utter that phrase. In any case, you’ll just have to get over it. You want revolution, got help overthrow a government in some unstable part of the world. Pakistan comes to mind, but then you’d have to convert to radical Fundament Islamic extremism and you don’t want to do that now, do you?

My point is this: the circumstances we face today requires pragmatism. Revolution will not fix things, it will only make things worse. You can’t change everything all at once.

Obama operates from a position of progressive idealism but moves forward pragmatically. And that is right.

Generation X enters White House

So reads the headline from and AFP article.

The lead:

NEW YORK (AFP) — Generation X used to stand on the sidelines. Now, with Barack Obama’s victory in the presidential election, they’re taking the White House.

Read full article here

For those knuckleheads so obsessed with attaching the Generation Jones labl to Obama, just keep reading:

Ironically, Generation X, or those born between 1961 and 1981, have long been identified by sociologists as reluctant to get involved, individualistic and cynical.

Which only backs up my point that there is no consensus on the exact date range for defining Generation X, or any other generation for that matter. Thus we must consider a broader definition, as Jeff Gordinier, author of X Saves the World does:

Gordinier says Obama not only fits the Generation X mold in age, style and biography, but came to power partly thanks to the enthusiasm of that same demographic group.

Gordinier isn’t the only one either:

Neil Howe, author of “Generations: the history of America’s future,” also sees Obama as the archetypal X-er, growing up in the 1960s and 70s and experiencing early on all the major social changes in family values and behavior.

“Obama was the product of an experimental inter-racial marriage: the father left, he travelled all over the world, a topsy-turvy, chaotic childhood, which is characteristic of Xers,” Howe said.

No doubt some will refuse to except this obvious and inevitable reality, but hey, this is America, where any idiot can be a parent but you need a license to drive car. (I don’t even know what that has to do with anything; it just sort of popped into my head. eh.)

The point is the Boomer’s are no longer in control, and that will mean a new kind of governing. GenX style. Cachow!

Obama’s “mission is to put an end to everything that is dysfunctional and bad about boomer politics,” Howe said.

“You are going to see a style of leadership which is much more pragmatic, less wed to ideology. A Generation X-er will love to crunch all the numbers, demand transparency, analyze the data and come to decisions,” he said.

Obama has already given indications of that more eclectic, non-ideological direction.

Pragamatic is the main thing. GenX is pragmatic. If we adhere to any kind of ideology (if you can even call it that, which I seriously doubt) it is pragmatism. We focus on getting things done, done well, and done right, regardless of politics.

A GenX apology to the Baby Boom?

You got to be fucking kidding me?

But no, it is true. That is the form that this article about election night from salon.com takes, beginning thus:

Dear boomers: We’re sorry for rolling our eyes at you all these years. We apologize for scoffing at your earnestness, your lack of self-deprecation, your tendency to take yourselves a little too seriously. We can go ahead and admit now that we grew tired of hearing about the ’60s and the peace movement, as if you had to live through those times to understand anything at all. It’s true, we didn’t completely partake of your idealism and your notions about community. Frankly, it looked gray and saggy in your hands, these many decades later. Chanting “What do we want? Peace! When do we want it? Now!” at that rally against the Iraq war made us feel self-conscious in spite of ourselves. We felt like clichés. We wondered why someone couldn’t come up with a newer, catchier, pro-peace slogan over the course of 40 years of protests. We knew we shouldn’t care that some of you were wearing socks with sandals and smelled like you’d been on the bus with Wavy Gravy for the last three decades, but we cared anyway. We couldn’t help it. It’s just who we are

Read full article here.

I have to say that I’m not so sure that I am ready to apologize for rolling my eyes, but then that’s just the kind of little prick that I am. And it’s really not the point. The point is that the tone of this piece I think captures what is perhaps the epitome of the GenX Journey (yes, I know. that is a real eye-rolling phrase, but I can’t help it) from cynicism to idealism, which of course is symbolized in the path of Barack Obama, as detailed in his autobiography for anyone who cares to read it, resulting in his rise to the most powerful position in the country if not the world.

But when we watched Barack Obama’s victory speech on Tuesday night, we looked into the eyes of a real leader, and decades of cynicism about politics and grass-roots movements and community melted away in a single moment. We heard the voice of a man who can inspire with his words, who’s unashamed of his own intelligence, who’s willing to treat the citizens of this country like smart, capable people, worthy of respect. For the first time in some of our lifetimes, we believed.

And I got to say, it’s a little scary, even while it is astoundingly joyful at the same time. To believe, I mean. Multiple times a day I will just stop and realize again what has happened and my chest swells and my eyes tear up, and I think, no, this can’t be real, I’m dreaming, but of course I am not. I have to remind myself to dig in, it wasn’t a dream, Barack Obama really is the the 44th President of the United State of America, or at least he will be, officially, on Jan 20th.

I’m reminded of the Christian Slater line in the Kevin Costner Robin Hood movie, when he launches Costner and Morgan Freeman over the wall on the giant catapult, amazed that it actually works, he says: “Fuck me, he cleared it!

.


Who the hell is Generation O?

Well, according to an article in the New York Times this past Sunday:

GENERATION O is that college kid at the White House gate early Wednesday morning, lifting his shirt to reveal “Obama” painted in red on his chest.

Or that stylized Obama T-shirt that makes irony look old, the “Obama Girl” on YouTube, or the thousands of notes on Barack Obama’s Facebook page: “U are the best!!!” “yeah, buddy.”

And, of course, Generation O is the president-elect himself.

Read full article here.

One wonders if Generation 0 is going to be the new nomenclature for what is commonly knowns as the Millennial Generation or Generation Y, those between the ages of 19-29. Well, whatever you call them it is true that they came up big for Obama on election night.

Mr. Obama’s victory was greatly helped by his young allies. More 18- to 29-year-olds went to the polls this year than in any election since 1972 — between 21.6 million and 23.9 million, up from about 19.4 million in 2004, according to preliminary estimates from the Center for Information and Research of Civic Learning and Engagement. And 66 percent voted for Mr. Obama, according to exit polls by Edison/Mitofsky.

They showed the fuck up! Which is more than can said for Generation X over the years. And for that I know I am grateful. And they should be proud. For making Barack Obama the first Generation X President in addition to the first black President. And I know, I know, there are those out there that will refuse to accept that Obama is a GenXer, but he is. He is not a Boomer; he’s too young, even if he was born within your predefined year parameters. And he is not Generation Jones, because, well, the designation of Generation Jones is lame. Ask 10 random people on the street what Generation Jones is, and I’d be surprised if even on can tell you. And even the one that maybe can won’t get it. So it’s a non-entity. Give it up.

In any case, in the grand scheme of things that Obama is Generation X — and he is — is fairly minor. If not for the Times article, I doubt I would have blogged about it at all. But it is true. And as Obama transitions into the White House and begins to govern the evidence that he is Generation X will only grow.

But back to the Millennials that helped get him there. They sure impress the hell out of me. I went into the local Obama office here in B’ham. It was mostly Millennials, young women still wearing braces and young guys still fighting acne. They tried to get me pitch in, to help out, to fight along side them. But in typical GenX fashion I simply would not join. I tried to do my thing on the fringes, with this pathetic little blog, by sending emails to people I know, by posting messages on Facebook and MySpace, by talking to family and friends and co-workers where and when I could. I was cool with that. But joining a massive organization. Sorry, ain’t going to happen. So thank God for the Millennials or Gen Y or Gen O or whatever brand they end up being saddled with. Who knows? Does it matter?

Anyhoo…

Last week I was listening to Chris Mathews bloviate on Hardball, saying how Obama was this generations Jack Kennedy. I thought, yeah, that’s kind of true. And I thought that was cool, for Millennials, while at the same time feeling a little bitter sweet because GenX got Bill Clinton, a gifted politician to be sure and an amazing mind for all sorts of things but in some ways a serious disappointment. You know of what I speak. He disappointed even more during the Primary, which was cool. It just helped solidify my support for Obama. And anyway, being disappointed is part of life, right.

But like some others, I wonder how Millennials are likely to react to disappointment when it comes. And it will come. Obama is not flawless, he does not walk on water. Mistakes will be made. There will be failures. He knows that. He’s too smart not to. But do these young supporters know that? Do they really?

…such a sweeping success could also breed trouble. “The risk is they vote for the first time, and then there’s this incredible long-shot win — ‘Gee this is easy,’ ” said Kurt Andersen, a founder of Spy and former editor of New York Magazine. There is also “a risk of this generation conflating our iPhones with the substantive policy progress that the iPhones and laptops enable.”

Inevitably, he said, “growing up is all about disappointment and things not going well — so that is a natural next step.”

The pain of dashed hopes, if it comes, could be eased by this generation’s news media diet, which has made them fantastically informed and skeptical. Or it could be worsened by the psychology of how they were raised and came of age.

Ronald Alsop, author of “The Trophy Kids Grow Up: How the Millennial Generation is Shaking Up the Workplace,” said that because today’s young people have been trained to trust teams and systems — they love checklists — they often struggle when things do not go according to plan.

And with the direction the economy is headed, I’m going to go ahead and guess that it is likely that many a Millennial is going to find his/her best laid plans thwarted. GenXer know how that feels. We know it sucks. But we also know it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Good things can and do happen, despite shitty circumstance beyond your control. Sometimes even great things. Thing like electing the first POTUS!

Obama’s email list

Something from that New York Times article about Robert Gibbs potentially becoming Obama’s Press Sec really jumped out at me. It was the last sentence:

And an adviser to the transition team said it was considering using its vast e-mail list to communicate with voters rather than rely on the news media.

I find this prospect exciting. To get communcations from The White House at the same time as the press, perhaps even at times ahead of the press. This could really change the dynamic of the relationshop bewtween The White House, The Press, and The Public. It will be interesting to see it play out.

I wonder if there will be direct text messages too? I’ve been getting those during most of the campaign, once the Primary was over.

Election Day… Finally!

Man, am I glad that I voted and I am done!

Colleen and I hit the polls just as they were opening at 7am. We ended up waiting in line for about an hour and a half, the longest either of us have ever waited to vote. That’s a pretty good wait considering that Birmingham, Michigan is a pretty small town, about 20,000. There were two precincts voting at our polling place, Derby Middle School. Curiously, or perhaps not so, our line was much longer and seemed to be moving slower.

My ballot numbers was 124, but my ballot was the 129th to be scanned through the machine. I’m glad we have paper ballots that are scanned. I would be very concerned if I had to use a touch screen machine that provides no paper ballot.

There was a poll worker there showing an example ballot. The ballot was yellow and after examining it you had to give it back before you could get your official ballot. More importantly the poll worker herself was donning a bright, reflective neon safety vest. This is a clear signal that she is authorized to discuss the ballot with voters, and not  just some yahoo fucking with voters. Not that that sort of thing would likely happen in a place lika Birmingham anyway. But at other place, especialy urban polling places where the voters are largely minority, it does. And no doubt it will this time too.

Slate.com has an article this morning on voter suppression and fraud. Check it.

Afterwards, Colleen and I continued our Election Day tradition of going out to breakfast. This morning we went to Toast a new place in downtown Birmingham.