Do yr taxez!!1!

Just a special note to all the eager young things in and around the Nation's Capital:


Tom Daschle, America's Gayest Heterosexual and President Obama's pick to lead us down the Path of Socialism, mistakenly failed to pay $128,000 in taxes. That means no one gives a shit anymore about Tim Geithner's paltry thirty-something-thousand dollar tax screw up.

When discussing this with a friend the other day, she pointed out that you have to make a LOT of money to owe $30,000 in taxes. Owing $128,000 is eye-watering, especially since it was all taxes owed on one fringe benefit: a chauffeur. In one year Over three years.

Anyway, if you're like me, on the bottom half of the greasy pole, don't worry so much about the occasional coke party or tranny hooker. Hire an accountant!

The numbers game

$800 billion is the number being floated around Washington these days. That's the size (rounded down – way down) of the latest stimulus package passed yesterday in the House and being considered this evening in the Senate).

Here are some other numbers to think about.

On Inauguration Day, Metro carried more people than on any other day in its 33-year-history: 1,120,000 train trips, 423,000 Metrobus trips, and 1,721 MetroAccess paratransit rides, for a total of 1,544,721 trips. The agency ran an unprecedented 17 hours of rush-hour service on Inauguration Day, operating 974 rail cars during the busiest period that afternoon, compared with about 830 rail cars during the typical weekday rush period.

Metro spent $5 million providing this service on Inauguration Day and the days leading up to it.

To put this in perspective, imagine every single person in Sacramento County deciding that today is the day they're going to go hang out at the American River. Yikes.

The longhairs are at it again

Image credit: Lisa J. Tolda

ASUN organized a couple hundred UNR students to protest higher ed budget cuts, according to the RGJ. The budget crisis is serious and the German program I received my degreee from may already be gone. (Fyi, I'm Chris Bayer. I don't know how they messed that up. Everyone knows that what's left of my German is badly Swabian.)

It's good to see such a staid campus get up and fight for something, especially something as unsexy as a state budget. I am glad ASUN is focusing its efforts at state lawmakers, whom it can certainly influence, rather than at larger or more global issues that would attract a wider audience but have zero impact. Assemblywoman Debbie Smith (D-Reno) said as much.

“When I see people take time out of their day to do something like this, you bet it influences me,” Smith said. “I think the energy we saw from the youth in our state during the presidential election is carrying forward. You know, they may be students but they’re taxpayers. They have a voice and they have a say.”

Smith, however, probably opposes the LuvGuv's higher ed cuts anyway and the other lawmakers present, David Bobzien and Senator Bernice Matthews, are Dems who were never going to support such cuts either. The trick is whether a protest like this will catch the attention of moderate Republicans like Senators Townsend or Raggio. Hopefully, ASUN is lobbying those and other legislators behind the scenes.

Amazingly, it took 10 paragraphs to get to the 60s reference.

The demonstration resembled student protests on campuses nationally in the 1960s during the war in Vietnam. But while at times as loud, it was much more peaceful.

Note to babyboomer conservatives: Almost nothing references Vietnam anymore. The Kids These Days are not hippies. Certainly not the kids at UNR.

(The article also helpfully revealed the $1,665 ASUN spent busing protesters in. I mean, we wouldn't want anyone getting the impression that these hippies had self-initiative here...)

Happy Birthday, Me!

In honor of my 29th year, here's TPM's Day in 100 Seconds for January 23, 2009.

I ♥ Blago!

"Daddy's already crying"

This blog is written to reflect my IRL persona, that is, cynical, skeptical and political. I always hurt the ones I love. For this post, all snark aside, I want to share one brief moment from the Inauguration of President Barack Obama.

Watching the ceremonies at the Washington Monument, a great swarm of humanity huddled around the rhetorical warmth of the Jumbotron display. From a physical distance of less than a mile, the people that day were nonetheless watching the same televised feed as were happy Democrats as far away as Seattle - so close and yet so far. Their proximity clearly was an emotional closeness. The National Mall was dusty and frozen. There was no rational motivation to be there on January 20th. Still, there they were, like penguins in Antarctica, braving a chosen wilderness in pursuit a fleeting, immaterial reward. I know their mindset; I was with them.

The mood of the proletariat oozed out onto the ground, like the detritus they tossed thoughtlessly onto America's Front Yard. They whooped and hollered for William Jefferson Clinton, and hissed with real menace at the hobbled Dick Cheney. For the outgoing President, George Walker Bush, their vitriol was vicarious. Catcalls before the final curtain, it was an ugly scene.

For Barack Hussein Obama, the mass let forth a cry like none they had before, except perhaps for their respective sport franchises of choice. Fittingly, the man they cheered had built a "brand" the likes of which has never been seen in American politics. Their candidate was a benevolent demagogue and his partisans granted him all the love they could muster. It was all anticipation, this field of human longing, an anticipation most had not experienced since their first amorous touch - or perhaps their last.

Quite gingerly he rose from his seat (same as the others for the dignitaries, collapsible) and the president-to-be placed his hand on a borrowed Bible. To my right a boy, maybe seven years old, had been croaking and clucking along with our joyous ululations, providing his own unique vocabulary to an epic poem. His father had held him at his side during the invocation and had chided him for letting his belongings get soiled in the dust. But before the Chief Justice could even begin the ritual, the boy shouted, "Daddy's already crying!"

The anticipation was just too much. The man was crying, openly. His candidate was not yet anointed, but he let his son see him weep. Was it a showing of courage before his boy or a gratuitous act of indulgence? I can't say. I think he'll never know a prayer as sweet.

That's what I saw at the inauguration. In spite of myself, I cried, too.

"Some domestic groups... not previously engaged."

Discussing the unparalleled level of security around President-elect Obama, Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff said
I think what will be different perhaps for the new president is [he] may excite the attention of some domestic groups that maybe were not that engaged previously. And so that's an issue we're going to have to be looking at.
Oh, America, and your veiled references to racism!

Get your inauguration on!

Sorry about not posting this last week. I'm dropping the ball on you guys.

Here's some important inaugural info for those of you who are (blessedly) not in DC for the festivities.

Sunday, January 18
Opening Ceremony and We Are One concert at Lincoln Memorial

This will be shown free on HBO and at 11:30am pacific (with an encore at 11:30pm). The list of performers is pretty long.

Monday, January 19
Martin Luther King Jr. Day and National Day of Service
This is a damned good idea: MLK Jr. Day will be recognized as a day of service. You can go to to find activities near you. With luck, this could turn into our first national Internet tradition. (In the meantime, please don't be discouraged by some of the... peculiar... offerings you may find. These are good people. They're just very excited so humor their leftiness for one day.)

Bipartisan dinners
These are by invitation only, but noteworthy. They'll honor three Americans: Colin Powell, Joe Biden and John McCain. Yup, you read that right. I hope it becomes a tradition for Presidents-elect to honor their erstwhile political opponents. It's quirky traditions like this, I think, that keep our democracy healthy and stable.

Kids' inaugural concert: We Are the Future
Keep the hopetacular goin', kids!
Alright, for my friends who do have little ones ('Ticia), I'm sorry for the snark. But really, how can anyone buy into this without thinking of Micheal Jackson's retrospectively creepy Super Bowl performace? Kids are great, I suppose. I'm this close, though, to putting them in the Things-People-Assume-Are-Universally-Consequential-But-Really-Aren't category along with the marriage debate and Tibet. Anyway, Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers on Disney Channel free at 5:00pm pacific.

Tuesday, January 20
Swearing in ceremony
The big day! Watch it just about anywhere you want. I'll be watching them shift uncomfortably in their seats on FOX News. Unless Rick Sanchez is covering it on CNN because Mom was right - that dude kicks ass.

Commander-in-Chief Ball
4:00pm pacific on the Pentagon Channel. This is a tradition started by President Bush to honor servicemen and women.

Neighborhood Ball

8:00pm pacific on ABC. Supporters are encouraged to host Neighborhood Ball parties, kinda like the house parties from the campaign.
WaPo had a decent article on one town in Arkansas having misgivings about the Obama Administration and its apparent emphasis on urban concerns. Let's keep in mind that "urban" is still code for "colored folk" in this country.

Youth Ball
10:00pm pacific on MTV. Rock the Vote! Vote or Die! Be the Change! Please, PLEASE vote in the mid-terms, 18-25 year olds!

That's about it. Hope you get a chance to watch something of this big smorgasbord of CHANGE. Especially if you didn't vote for Obama or, like many of us, had your enthusiasm a bit smothered under the edifice of Obamamania, its good to participate in these kinds of national pageantry. Power changes hands in this country frequently. We should remember that before we head back to our respective political trenches.

Out with the old, in with the new

We are currently living in a state of benign anarchy. Team Bush has literally exited the building and Team Obama will not officially move in until Tuesday. For the next three days, you can do whatever the hell you want – no one will notice!

Seriously, no one will notice.

Much like the New Year, moments of artificial transition demand reflection and introspection from the intelligentsia. WaPo has its transition editorial bundled up on one page. Here, you can lament “Bush’s Greatest Failing” with David Broder, then get a little chastised by Peter Beinart’s take on “Bush’s Finest Hour.”

“Some cite failures ranging from Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo to Hurricane Katrina and the neglect of the environment and the working class,” Broder says. “But for all the outrages in those areas, I thought the most damaging to the American people -- both those living now and those yet unborn -- was placing the entire cost of Bush's ambitious, if not misguided, national security policy on the tiny fraction of American families with loved ones in the armed services.”

President Bush did not ask us to bear the burdens of war with our fighting men and women, according to Broder. Indeed, Bush told us to “go shopping” and gave us the tax cuts to do so, that we may not even be aware we were in a war. Broder does not, however, question whether Bush should have called our situation a war in the first place. Perhaps that’s too big of a question at this early juncture.

Beinart is calling on Dems to be less cynical on Iraq, specifically on the success of the surge. He’s not a booster for the Bush Doctrine, he’s just trying to inoculate the new liberal nobility.

Watching the Bush administration flit from disaster to disaster, they have grown increasingly dismissive of conservatives in the process. [Younger liberals] consume partisan media, where Republican malevolence is taken for granted. They laugh along with the "Colbert Report," the whole premise of which is that conservatives are bombastic, chauvinistic and dumb. They have never had the ideologically humbling experience of watching the people whose politics they loathe be proven right.

Posterity should (though probably won’t) remember that the surge was not Bush’s idea – it was John McCain’s. He and others, including Democrats, had warned early on that Rumsfeld’s cockamamie shock and awe strategy would be neither without shocking and awesome numbers of troops.

The point is, again, Bush tried to have his cake and eat it, too: wartime patriotism with peacetime prosperity. WaPo’s accompanying editorial tries to edify Bush’s other well-recorded personality trait, his certitude. After 9/11, it unified us as a country, but it also blinded Bush to the reasonable criticism of concerned outsiders (like McCain).

I think the editorial board missed the point which Broder and Beinart make obliquely. That is, Bush’s legacy will probably be written as one of courage in the face of challenges when it ought to be one of cowardice. It isn’t brave to stand on the rubble with a bullhorn or on the deck of a carrier in a flight suit. It isn’t brave to fear the electoral backlash of honest economic choices. It is cunning to do those things and it is appropriate for a man who’s successfully faced down a number of personal demons to adopt their tactics. They did prove useful at avoiding Bush’s last great personal demon:

The possibility of another one-term Bush presidency.

HuffPo finally gets it right!

Sam Stein at HuffPo writes:
As he prepares to take the oath of office, Barack Obama's biggest political roadblock may end up being institutional hurdles rather than a united Republican opposition.
Yes! Yes! Finally, someone is paying attention. Paul Begala shares a little wisdom from John Sununu:
"I happened to have a long conversation with John Sununu [George H. W. Bush's Chief of Staff]. Sununu said you will find that the institutional difference between the legislative and executive branches are harder to bridge than the partisan difference between Republicans and Democrats. It was a remarkable statement. I don't think he is right. But I do believe the institutional differences are hugely important."
I do think Sununu is correct (and fun to say). While I agree that President-elect Obama's been working hard to lay the foundations for a successful opening, and that his recent legislative experience will serve him well in that process, the main obstacle to his agenda is the looming fear of the 2010 midterms.

2008 was a good year for Democrats; repeating that feat in 2010 will not be easy. Many Dems in Congress will see independence from the Administration as their key to victory. In the Senate, 15 Dem seats will be up for re-election and as many as six of those could be weak, as opposed to the one endangered seat of 2008, Landrieu's, who pulled away in the end.

Of Dead Batteries and Homelessness

Last night's photography excursion was aborted because my camera battery won't hold a charge. Until the situation is rectified, I'll just show you a picture from last summer.

That's a bench in Lincoln Park, down the street from my house.

There are certain markers of homelessness one expects: litter, the jangle of change and, of course, the obligatory "God bless" when you walk by. Seeing evidence of homelessness, though, without the homeless, strikes a deeper chord.

Commonly there are sleeping bags and empty bottles of whiskey scattered in doorways, reinforcing stereotypes. When it's neatly organized belongings, like above, it reveals that homelessness means a lack of privacy. Imagine having no dresser, no closet, no laundry hamper. We rightly worry about the homeless during the winter, when they are in danger of freezing to death, but I don't often think about what it is like to live with no personal space at all.

I got published!

No, for realz! Some online guidebook thingy called Schmap used this pic of mine from Flickr.

This will go down in my photographic portfolio along with the picture I took of a basketball game for the Elk Grove Citizen and the picture that got shown at the Crocker.

Nevada GOP is falling apart!

Well, maybe it's not DOA.

After a long absence I checked in with Inside Nevada Politics (the only serious politics blog in the state, imho) where I found that our own Ty Cobb, Republican Assemblyman from Incline Village, was acting up again.

Backstory: Last session, Cobb took it upon himself to cast the only 'no' vote against Speaker Barbara Buckley. Traditionally, leadership positions in the Nevada legislature (and a lot of legislation, too) are passed unanimously. At the time, Incline's special little rag, the Bonanza (where'd they get that name...?) called the legislative tradition "hypocritical hooey!"

Once upon a time, conservatism was about preserving longstanding traditions, not redefining them... Oh, nevermind.

During the last special session in December, Cobb was joined by a cadre of enablers in remaining silent during the vote for Buckley's speakership. Perhaps it was a step down from last year's defiant behavior, but I think it was just better co-ordination. A tag search of 'Cobb' on Chuck Muth's blog reveals an awareness that subtlety is effective.

Nevada's Republican establishment has been factionalizing. Reagan Democrats and Goldwater conservatives are kicking the bucket, leaving in the wake an unseemly mixture of passive, moderate business Republicans and right-wing fundamentalists. The two do not go together. The fundies have organized around a strategy of ideological cleansing: any Republican who isn't one of their sort of conservatives is a RINO.

By Muth's standards, Nixon was a RINO, fer goodness sakes.

Anyway, Cobb handily won re-election last November, netting himself a solid mandate to continue being a jerk.

In other news, because I was totally not paying attention, Joe Heck and Bob Beers both lost. Heck seemed harmless, but watching Beers bite the dust pleases me greatly. As mortals are wont, however, I did not foresee the consequences of my choices. Senator Beers has closed down his wonderful blog, leaving only this touching and humble mea culpa
Note: State Senator Bob Beers failed to promise enough free stuff from the government to enough people (he apparently missed the memo on 2008's winning campaign theme), and was defeated for re-election in fall of 2008 by someone who did.

CB's performance in CA-04

Above is a graphical representation of how well Charlie Brown did at pulling in conservative voters in each of the 4th District's counties. The width of the columns approximate the relative population of each county.

The graph does not represent Charlie's vote results in each county. Those were wafer thin and alone do little to show how well Charlie did at achieving his primary objective: getting conservatives to vote for him.

To show that, I've measured the percentage of the vote Charlie won beyond what would be expected from his base. We'll call this Charlie's "performance." Charlie's base is defined as registered Democrats and declined-to-states who are expected to vote Democratic.

We can see that Charlie achieved his goal in each county, but to disparate degrees. So, in Nevada County, Charlie did an excellent job of pulling in conservative voters, while in Modoc County he did not pull in as many. The raw numbers are below.

The biggest surprise is how well Charlie did in Placer County. Only Nevada County outperformed Placer (which was expected). In the deepest of red counties, he did a better job of pulling in conservatives than in El Dorado, Plumas or Sierra Counties.

Placer County - Vote

Charlie's Performance - 14.14%

Nevada County - Vote

Charlie's Performance - 17.51%

El Dorado County - Vote

Charlie's Performance - 12.60%

Sacramento County - Vote

Charlie's Performance - 10.45%

Butte County - Vote

Charlie's Performance - 6.43%

Sierra County - Vote

Charlie's Performance - 13.09%

Plumas County - Vote

Charlie's Performance - 12.39%

Lassen County - Vote

Charlie's Performance - 2.46%

Modoc County - Vote

Charlie's Performance - 3.32%

District Total - Vote

Charlie's Performance - 13.20%

(It's worth pointing out that Democrats in other red districts in California weren't able to pull this stunt. Across California, Democrats actually lost their own base to their Republican opponents.)

The LuvGuv makes his move...

Oh noes! The LuvGuv has gone off the reservation again.

He's attacking Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki - who is statutorily also the head of the Nevada Tourism Commission - for jetsetting around Communist China on the taxpayers' tab.

“Governor Gibbons has learned that during a state-sponsored trip to China, (Krolicki) spent his time on pursuits unrelated to promoting tourism in Nevada, such as sightseeing and shopping, and did not attend scheduled meetings,” said a statement issued after business hours Friday by Dan Burns, Gibbons’ spokesman.

It's good to see the LuvGuv making an effort to re-take his Worst Governor title from that upstart Blago. He knows that intraparty hitjobs are always done in Friday newsdumps. Show Blago how it's done, homie!

While I must admit that Blago's kneecapping of Sen. Reid and the Democrats is legion, the LuvGuv's just got a better style. I don't care that Nevada's politics are a little bush league and I don't care how amazing Blago's hair is...

That's a Playboy Playmate our Governor's huggin' up on. Suck it, Illinois!

National Museum of Evolution

Museum of Natural History_02, originally uploaded by bbmcder94.

I finally bothered to go to the National Museum of Natural History the other day. The mammals section is fairly new and it serves as a great contrast with the older sections of the museum. Curatorial design has improved a lot and there is hope for the depressingly outdated National Air and Space Museum.

Also, the museum is basically our national museum of evolution. I like imagining the homeschooling groups coming to the nation's capital and discovering that their tax dollars are spent "promoting" evolution. Hilarious!