Friday, July 25, 2008

Townsend interviewed

I took the night off tonight and decided to catch up on the news. What a stroke of luck. Over on , Robert Townsend, Democratic party candidate for Assembly District 25 had an interview. For the benefit of all my fellow public school graduates, who may not have years of experience interpreting politicians, I decided to write a brief synopsis.

SS: Who are you, and why are you doing this?

RT: I'm a New Yorker. I was born and raised on Long Island, and worked as a union musician in Manhattan. I also lived in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Kona, Hawaii. Some day, I hope to actually meet one of those "conservatives" I keep hearing so much about.

SS: It is a known fact that your Republican opponent in AD 25, Heidi Gansert, smiled and said hello to Governor Gibbons on at least two separate occasions. Are you going to try and use this to drag her through the mud, like other Democrats are doing with Governor Gibbons?

RT: No, I don't have that kind of cash. What we really need are more public/private partnerships. You know, the kind of thing Al Gore used to talk about before he went off the deep end. In a public/private partnership our elected representatives ship huge vats of government gravy to people who own something called "a business". The people who own "a business" soon become richer than a Las Vegas call-girl. Then they send most of that money to a democratic front group, such as, the People's Republic of China. Most of that money is then returned to the elected Democrats, who use it to run an effective smear campaign. It's a beautiful thing, man. Beautiful.

SS: The state budget revenues are projected to be 14.21% below spending. Governor Gibbons and his minions in the Republican party are talking about cutting spending by the same 14.21%, in order to balance the budget as mandated by the state constitution. Do you think this is evil?

RT: Of coarse it's evil. You can't balance a budget just by reducing spending. That's ridiculous. It's like saying you could balance your checkbook, just by not buying everything you see. Obviously, what we need is more money. In effect, the government of Nevada needs to find a new job. I propose we move the entire government to Utah, and run that state for a while. I hear there's good money in Utah, and it's close enough we could still visit on weekends. After we've saved a little nest egg, we could move back and balance the budget.

SS: You've recently come out in favor of gay rights, and you're also very strong on the environment. Could you talk a little about these two issues?

RT: Yes, I think we should give as much taxpayer money as possible to anyone who even seems like they're gay. Just say you're gay, and you'd get a big pile of dough. Think of it, an entire state full of gay, rich people. We'd have to change the state motto, though. "Battle Born" is much too confrontational; something more like "Nevada; Fabulously Trendy", would be much better.

As far as the environment goes, I think putting up giant wind mills and solar reflectors all over the place, along with huge tubs of oil producing algae, would be great ideas. I especially like the algae thing. Some people refer to algae as pond scum, but they're being too harsh. Over the years, Ive come to appreciate pond scum. It's a texture thing with me. Besides, all these so-called mountains out here, are really just big piles of dirt. Who wants to see a big pile of dirt? I don't. I'm from New York.

SS: Thank you Mr. Townsend.

RT: Thank you.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

PC Biz 7/19/08

I can't believe I haven't posted anything all week. The pace has really picked up lately. Monday morning, I sent an email to Gwen. She is in charge of training PC's as well as organising some related projects. I was asking her for clarification on the project I was working on, and casually mentioned a couple of idea's I'd had. Monday night, I was very happy to learn that Gwen thought my idea's had some merit. Tuesday night I learned that Gwen had taken my idea's to Heidi, who is the county chairperson. Heidi loved my ideas. BINGO! BINGO! I'm now in charge of two new projects.

Gwen is a recently retired Air Force Colonel who is working on her PHD in geology. She teaches geology courses at UNR in between organising republicans. I've also recently learned she has a conceal/carry permit. Gwen's not one to fuss around much.


Know the person to whom you are expressing an idea.

I had to scramble to get the outlines of my "plans" down on paper, because Thursday night was a central committee meeting in which Heidi, Gwen, and I would all be attending. It was held at a private home up in Incline Village. We had a pot-luck dinner in their spacious backyard, among the pine trees, fountains and babbling brook. Very nice. I only got to say hello to Heidi, as she was mixing and mingling, but I saw Ed and Laurie there too and talked with them a little. Most of the pre-meeting discussions were with Gwen. We talked about computers, political strategy, geology, blogspots, Yucca Mountain, the Mammoth Lakes area, and John McCain. I'll tell you, one hour with Gwen is enough to make a guy stop fearing for the fate of his country. She's off to the back country this week, to study sedimentary formations, but I dare not slacken the pace. I'll post as often as possible.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Market update 7/10/08

OK, so I missed my deadline by 24 hours. Seeing as I own this here establishment, I'm going to let myself off with a mild verbal reprimand. There's not much good news to report. Friday saw the second largest bank failure in US history. Wednesday saw the S&P 500 hit the -20% mark, thereby confirming a bear market. YTD the Dow is down 16.3% and the NASDAQ is down 15.6%. The chief economist at the S&P is predicting a 16 month recession. I'm beginning to wonder if even commodities other than gold would be a wise buy. I looked over the gold stocks and the only one I found to my liking is based in Toronto. It was just last year that I was promising myself I would not buy another Canadian stock as long as I lived. The historical model still shows a summer rally is imminent. They say all it would take for that to happen is a big drop in oil prices AND a turn around in the financials. Yes, wouldn't that be nice. With the dollar sure to go lower, even cash is a loser. The only thing missing here, is news that the black helicopters are coming for me. This is looking seriously bad.

Beakfast and Branding

I just got back from a fundraiser out on Pyramid Hwy. It was $15 for lousy eggs and mediocre hash browns, but the bacon and orange juice were good. They had a good string band there called Branding Iron that played in between candidate speeches. Most of the candidates were running for assembly or judgeship's. At one point, I found myself standing next to James Smack, a long shot candidate for Congress. He's not as nuts as his website might suggest. He's never run for anything before, but he graduated from Amherst and now owns a pawnshop in Fallon. He's kind of a good ol' boy, but soft spoken and serious. The incumbent, Dean Heller, wasn't there. I'm leaning towards Smack.
Of particular interest was the Governor's wife, Dawn Gibbons. Mrs. Gibbons, you may recall, has recently thrown the Governor out of the mansion and hired a hot shot Democrat attorney to drag him through the mud in their upcoming divorce proceedings. She received a surprisingly warm reception, as opposed to the Governor, when at the Washoe County Convention, received a rather tepid reception. The plot thickens.
I had thought that the branding part of all this was just about the band. It turned out they were having a round-up also. I was sitting on a hay bale in the shade waiting for the round-up to start, and struck up a conversation with an old cowboy named Ed. I recognised Ed from the reconvene convention due to his gigantic handlebar mustache. We had a nice little chat. When the round-up started, Ed says, "C'mon, lets go root for the cows". We did, but they lost. The cowboys could use a little more practice with their lassoing technique, but the horses knew exactly what to do.
After awhile, I bid Ed a "see ya 'round", and headed for the car. On the way I ran into Laurie, whom I also recognised from the reconvene convention. She was with her friend Juanita, who is the Story County Chairman. It turns out, they are part of the "conspiracy wing" of the Ron Paul faction. They meet at the Denny's in Sparks every Saturday night at 6PM to discuss black helicopters and various theories concerning one world government. I thanked them for the invitation, but was non-committal. One has to be careful with one's associations. There are so many factions, and sub-groups of sub-groups, and everybody gets labeled sooner or later. I don't think I've been labeled yet, as I haven't found a group I fit into. I don't make a good "old cowboy", but I'd hang out with Ed anytime. All in all, an eventful morning.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

PC Biz 7/9/08

I was rummaging around on the Registrar of Voters website and found the 2006 and 2004 election results broken down by precinct. It's a lot to look through. I only got as far as the 2006 US Senate race. That was a pretty hotly contested race here. Being an off year, it was the big race. It pitted John Ensign, then a popular Republican Congressman -vs- Jack Carter, most famous for being President Carter's son. The race attracted some big donor, out of state money. In my little precinct, there were 665 registered voters. Only 75 votes were cast on election day; 30 Republican, 29 Democrat, and 16 scattered among the minor parties including "None of the Above". 590 people sat out one of the biggest local races in decades. I see this as both good and bad. Bad in that all those people who bothered to register didn't bother to vote. Good, in that the low turnout sets a low hurdle for me. It's conceivable that one guy could make a big difference here.

As I was looking for these stats I happened across this:
2006 Results for North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection Dist.

Epstein, Don ..... 1,793..... 28.31%
Murrietta, Gene ...1,778..... 28.08%
Westervelt, Bob ...1,526..... 24.10%
Claus, Santa ......1,236..... 19.52%

Santa should have run for the Senate.

Monday, July 7, 2008

PC Biz 7/7/08

Until further notice, PC stands for precinct captain, not politically correct or personal computer.

So far this year, Ive been to a caucus, 2 and 1/2 conventions, a central committee meeting and 2 PC meetings. This leads to...
The likelihood of somebody putting you in charge of something, increases exponentially with the number of meetings attended.

The first PC meeting turned out to be by invitation and I wasn't invited. I just got wind of it, and wandered in off the street. It turned out to be a meeting on how to train PC's. They said I was welcome to stay, and would I like to train PC's? I told them I should probably be one first before I tried to tell anyone else how to do it. You know, when I went to the caucus back in January, I was just going to vote. That was it. When I got there, I was one of seven people from my precinct that showed up. Wouldn't you know it, there were seven open seats to be a delegate to the county convention, so we all voted ourselves in as delegates. There were 500 people at the convention and 600 open seats to the state convention, so we all voted ourselves in to that. While there, they asked for volunteers to something called the Central Committee. I didn't know what it was, so I volunteered to find out. 100 people showed up for that meeting. There's no limit to how many people can be on the Central Committee, so we all voted ourselves onto that. After turning down an opportunity to teach people something I know nothing about, I went to the PC training meeting. Of coarse, I was the only one there from my precinct. So, BINGO! I'm the captain.

The amount of your involvement is inversely proportional to the level of apathy in your neighborhood.

The first thing they had us do is stand up and introduce ourselves. It seemed like every single person in there was either retired military, or married to retired military, and then there was me; a non-descript, scraggly ne'er-do-well who came over from the Libertarians back in the eighties. Wonderful. Talk about standing out in a crowd. Then we were given a five page handbook and a list of people from Votervault. The main goal is to find out where everybody is and which party they're in, so that come September, the candidates will know which doors to knock on, and who we need to call for meet-and -greet barbecues and such. Also, it will help to get out the vote on election day.

The Voter vault list is pretty much worthless, I think. My precinct consists of two rather large apartment complexes. The list doesn't have any apartment numbers on it. It's as if 700 people all live in the same house. I'll try contacting the apt. managers and see if they can give me a list of who's living where and then cross-reference it. The first thing I'm supposed to do is call everybody, but when I looked up myself I saw they didn't have my correct phone number, so I don't have much hope for that idea. I can always just register new voters and build a new list from scratch. People move in and out of here pretty regularly. Even though I see a looming disaster on the horizon, the total turn out for my precinct in January was 1 and 1/2%. I think I can improve on that.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Butter Trays

From 1977 to 1992, I worked in television production out in Colorado. The pay wasn't much, so most of my vacations involved throwing a tent, sleeping bag, and ice chest into the back of my pick-up truck, picking a direction and just heading out. No schedule, no timetable and no particular destination. I'd stop at every historical marker, museum, and point of interest turned cow pasture on whatever road I was on. I've been to quit a few out of the way places; from Missoula to El Paso; from California to Kansas. The best museums are not the one's that have the fancy goo-gah's and ornate foo-frah's. The best museums are the one's that have the worn out, common everyday items. The things people actually used. It's the simple, and the unadorned, that can give one insight and appreciation for the "lives of quiet desperation". They are most often found in small town museums; towns where the two lane highway doubles as main street. Little one room museums around the corner, that don't charge an entrance fee, but just have a donations jar on the desk when you walk in. I always know I'm in the right place when I see the donations jar.

Take the butter tray as an example of the common and unadorned. Old butter trays have a compartment underneath for shaved ice. Nobody saved these butter trays on purpose. Nobody ever said, "We need to save this because some day they'll invent electricity, and refrigeration, and soft spread margarine, and whatever that stuff is that you can squirt out of a tube right on to your sandwich." They survived by luck of the draw, by their own tiny share of cosmic significance. Set on a shelf in some little room, with the shaving bowls and hand drills, collectively shouting "We're still here."

Ice production was a huge industry at one time. The United States was once the world's leading exporter of ice. Loaded by the ton onto sailing ships, packed in sawdust, and sent around the world. The English in India considered the possession of American ice to be a sign of "proper breeding." Boca Reservoir, west of Reno, was built specifically for ice production. It wasn't built by the state for the enjoyment of fishermen and pic-nickers. It's not a green zone financed at taxpayer expense. It is the remains of a business. It was created by a guy looking to make a buck. There's nothing left of the old ice house now. Nothing, save the reservoir itself. The foundation stones near the highway are from a brewery that came later. Nothing remains but things like butter trays, waiting for someone to wander in and make the connection.

My mother was responsible for taking care of some of the previous generation while they were dying. One result of this was, she inherited quit alot of old stuff. Enough antique furniture to redecorate her house, and literally stuff her garage to the rafters. At one time, you could barely open the garage door, much less walk around in there. Mom has a good eye for furniture, fine linens and such. She can spot the difference between the regular silverware and the good silverware, that sort of thing. I, on the other hand, have developed an eye for what can only be described as "curiosities". My main function in the family is to act as a kind of clearing house for the oddball debris of human life. As my brother Steve once said, "If Ron doesn't want it, it must really be worthless."

Sometimes mom will offer me something from my own childhood. Several years ago it was a set of books; a collection of Anglo-American literature published in 1927, about 30 books in all. (Hawthorne, Tennyson, Longfellow etc.) Mom bought them at a second-hand store to decorate her new house in the 1950's. Being a young mother of three, having a little literature around certainly wouldn't hurt, and besides, their red cloth covers looked good in the bookcase. They are mostly from what I think is called "The Romantic Era." There are also "Transcendentalists." I don't know much about that, I just like a good story. They serve as a kind of museum unto themselves. I call it "The Museum of Love and Glory." Today, as it was growing up, when there is nothing much to do, I pick one off the shelf at random and see if there's anything in there that I can understand. I was wandering in the Ralph Waldo Emerson wing of my little museum, looking for a tie-in to all of this political stuff I've gotten myself into lately, when I found this little butter tray of an idea. It seemed appropriate for the occasion. So, Happy 4Th of July to any and all who are still reading this.

Concord, July 4, 1857

O Tenderly the haughty day
Fills his blue urn with fire;
One morn is in the mighty heaven,
And one in our desire.

The cannon booms from town to town,
Our pulses are not less,
The joy-bells chime their tidings down,
Which children's voices bless.

For He that flung the broad blue fold
O'er-mantling land and sea,
One third part of the sky unrolled
For the banner of the free.

The men are ripe of Saxon kind
To build an equal state,
To take the statute from the mind,
and make of duty fate.

United States! the ages plead,
Present and Past in under-song,
Go put your creed into your deed,
Nor speak with double tongue.

For sea and land don't understand,
Nor skies without a frown
See rights for which the one hand fights
By the other cloven down.

Be just at home; then write your scroll
Of honor o'er the sea,
And bid the broad Atlantic roll,
A ferry of the free.

And, henceforth, there shall be no chain
Save underneath the sea
The wires shall murmer through the main
Sweet songs of Liberty.

The concious stars accord above,
The waters wild below,
And under,through the cable wove,
Her fiery errands go.

For He that worketh high and wise,
Nor pauses in his plan,
Will take the sun out of the skies
Ere freedom out of man.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Friendly reminders and future projects

Marion continues to inspire. She has added my little hole in the wall to her "Blogs I always read" list. There are some very talented and accomplished people on that list, so it is very high praise. I'm not used to that kind of company, but I'll do my best to keep it interesting. One thing I find interesting is how this blog has changed just in the month or so that I've been doing this. My first few posts were generally negative. That's the influence of the kind of blogs, and other commentary, I was reading. It was kind of like one of those cable TV shows where everybody yells at each other in between commercials. Then my posts become increasingly less antagonistic. I have to admit, when I googled Washoe County Convention, and found Marion's blog, I thought "nice post, but what's with all the hiking pictures?" I didn't get it. I think I get it now. We choose the blogs we write, like we choose the lives we live. It doesn't have to be a dogfight all the time. I've met a few friendly, positive, and encouraging people at the various Republican meetings of late, but I think my communications with Marion have had the most influence on my change in outlook. Thanks for the reminder of why we're all here.

I went to the precinct captains training session last night. I am pleased to announce that I am now the newly minted captain of precinct 3031. (Insert a hearty round of applause here). I'm going to document my progress, or lack thereof, through election day. I'll be meeting about 1,000 or so strangers which should be interesting to say the least, unless they slam their doors in my face, in which case I'll have some exciting door slamming stories. I won't start the story until next week because I'm also planning a little 4Th of July Tribute which I better start tonight, if I'm going to finish by tomorrow. I'm also planning a serious upgrade of the profile. I thought at first that being anonymous would be best, but since I've inadvertently wandered into a friendly group, it would be good if you knew more about me.