No Real Shot for the Assault Weapons Ban

Don’t expect any realistically workable assault weapons ban legislation to get off of the floor of the Senate anytime soon.  There is simply, despite the clarion call by the bulk of the American people for sensible legislation in this area, not enough support from the Senate Democrats in order to pull that off.  Mark Begich, Kay Hagan, and several other Senate Democrats are in the process of starting up their 2014 re-election campaigns, and as we all know in the age of the perpetual campaign that is an important element.  And since a number of them live in red states, their votes simply cannot be counted on to be there to vote for the assault weapons ban.

There is much more to the Democratic Senators not backing the assault weapons ban than the perpetual election cycle. Some of these people genuinely dislike the thought of an assault weapons ban.  A few examples would be Montana Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester, and Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor.

Mark Pryor gets a D from the NRA, but a closer look at his stances reveals a man who is pro-gun in a great many ways, from voting to prohibit lawsuits against gun manufacturers to voting yes on prohibiting aid to organizations and entities that require the registration of , or taxes guns owned by American citizens. I cannot find any real serious attempt on Sen. Pryor’s part to in any way vote against the gun lobby in any way whatsoever.

Max Baucus a number of years ago voted for loosening gun licensing restrictions at gun shows, and has stated that he is for repealing federal restrictions on the purchase  and possession of guns.  Jon Tester has much the same record as his two compatriots, and on top of that voted to ban gun restrictions in Washington DC.

On top of these three senators, there are the several other democrats in the Senate who are similar in their voting records.  Which points as far as I can see it to a large Democratic roadblock to any assault weapons ban.

Everywhere I have looked on the Internet, and I have looked in a great number of places, I cannot find a single article that points to any realistic possibility of there even being a Democratic majority in the Senate.  And if there is no possibility there, then there isn’t a snowballs chance in hell of there being enough votes to get past the now obligatory cloture vote that the senate now has to go through.

From this vantage point, and frankly from any realistic vantage point in the story of the assault weapons ban, there is only one salient point to drive home;  it is done.  It cannot pass.  That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t.  But sadly, the NRA has won another round against people who want nothing more than to live their lives in peace.  It is sad to think that the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness have been overridden by lobbyists working for gun manufacturers.

Sad but true.

(Minor edit,  2/24/13 11:30 pm edt)

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Curmudgeon

Pic of the day, part i: A View of Toledo, by El Greco (1599)

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Political tags — such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth — are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.

Robert A. Heinlein, Time Enough for Love

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Surly old Democratic curmudgeon, that’s me.  Proud of it, too.  Love(d) Heinlein, even though the crazy dead bastard was about as hard leaning a righty as there ever was.  But being right wing doesn’t make you bad, any more than being left wing makes you anything beyond left wing.  Wings simply denote you have an opinion.

And everyone who has read this knows what I think of opinions.  They’re like assholes, everybody has one.  Shouldn’t want to shove it in everyone’s face though, that’ll get other people’s stinkholes shoved in your face.  If you like the smell of ass, that’s on you.

There is a time and place for breaking them out (the asshole analogy doesn’t cover opinion precisely, sorry), as there is a time when everyone must make a stand, show the world what they’re made of,  all that goodness.   The internet is a great place for showing it off, and anyone who has read this space knows I love doing this.

I highly value other people’s opinions.  Especially people with different opinions.  I love having two brothers who are conservative.  I love having friends both online and offline that are radically different from me.  It tests my beliefs, forces me to think and rethink my values constantly.

I used to be a republican in days gone by.

I voted for Rudy Giuliani.  Twice. (I was a dumbass, what can I say?)

I used to be minarchist.  That means pro-small government for those not in the know.  But as time went on, I learned things about how the right works, and about who they work for.  Over time I changed sides as I put two and two together.  Learned about the laffer curve, and saw the effects of the Republican economic trickle down theory on me.  Hard to like someone who screws you financially and then expects you to like them. They lost me.  And I won’t go back.

Democrats aren’t perfect, far from it.   But they are far more effective at doing things for the middle and working class people than the Republicans.  Abortion legislation doesn’t do a damn thing for America.  Talk about school prayer doesn’t do a damn thing for America.  Tax cuts for millionaires don’t do a damn thing for America.

Jobs legislation does.  The Republicans have done nothing substantive on that front no matter what they say.  Help the poor make it with jobs legislation and you make the world a better place by lifting the entire nation higher.  Just helping their rich friends, the Republicans have abandoned American ethics and made a mockery of the ideals this nation was built upon, life ,liberty, and the pursuit of property.

That’s just my opinion, though.

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A short aside.  Very important few days coming up for me.  I have an interview coming up late tomorrow morning.  If this one pays as well as it can and I do well I could find myself doing very well financially.  I sent in a second resume to a company I used to work for.  They announced Friday that they’re hiring.  I want in.  Great company.  Might pay a bit less than the company that I’m interviewing with tomorrow initially, but I know the people there, great guys, and the pay goes up pretty quick after joining up. I’m expecting to hear from them soon.

Wish me luck!

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Pic of the day, part ii:  An allegory with a boy lighting a candle in the company of an ape and a fool, by El Greco

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“Value” has no meaning other than in relationship to living beings. The value of a thing is always relative to a particular person, is completely personal and different in quantity for each living human—”market value” is a fiction, merely a rough guess at the average of personal values, all of which must be quantitatively different or trade would be impossible. […] This very personal relationship, “value”, has two factors for a human being: first, what he can do with a thing, its use to him… and second, what he must do to get it, its cost to him.

Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers

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That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

McCarthy Reborn

Pic of the day:  The Representative from Florida’s 22nd district, Allen West.

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Some of the worst tyrannies of our day genuinely are “vowed” to the service of mankind, yet can function only by pitting neighbor against neighbor. The all-seeing eye of a totalitarian regime is usually the watchful eye of the next-door neighbor. In a Communist state love of neighbor may be classed as counter-revolutionary.

Eric Hoffer, The Ordeal of Change (1963)

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According to the man pictured above, there are between 78 and 81 members of the Communist party in the Democratic party in Congress.  He did right after that say that “It’s called the Congressional Progressive Caucus.”

I like this guy, he’s great for the Democrats.  He’s great for the progressive caucus.  He is the kind of politician who lights a fire under progressives, inspires us to greater and more effective exertions in the name of our political beliefs.

He, through his statements has made it clear that he understands what communist means, by stating that these members of congress are opposed to free markets and capitalism.  So for once when writing about this I don’t have to argue about definitions, frankly I’m happy about that.  The man had a thought, and expressed it.  I’m happy about that too.   But let’s look at  the whole against free markets and capitalism accusation.

I find it hard to believe that the ranking member of the house Financial Services Committee could possibly be communist.  Do you think anyone in congress would let a communist be ranking member of the committee that oversees the treasury and the federal reserve? No party would eb dumb enough to do that.

None.

You can call Barney Frank a great many things, but Communist is NOT one of them. A man who would stand side by side against Fed policy with Ron Paul could not, should not and cannot be thought of as communist, not without extensive use of recreational pharmaceuticals.  But Rep. West still called him a communist.  Rep. West is a dumb ass.

I also find it hard to believe that anyone could call the ranking member of the House Small Business committee, which controls amongst other things oversight and authority over the SBA, which controls the lifeblood of this country, small business loans which stimulate job growth in a capitalist society, a communist.  Nydia Velazquez as that committees ranking member makes sure that small businesses get a fair shake from government and get the loans they need to get a start in the business world and become the successes that America needs to move into the future.

So when Rep. West calls people who I know are pro capitalism and pro-business communists, I have to laugh.  Both of these people, and a great many other good people who do their level best to not only represent their constituents but do their level best to make sure that capitalism stays healthy and free markets stay free.

I could do a write up for each of the other members of the Progressive caucus, but that’d take all night, and frankly I want to spend more time with my wife, and not stand her up just to do 79 other write-ups to make my point that completely.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus is NOT Communist, any more than the Republican Study Committee is fascist.

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I hear that West was a great military leader.  That he would do anything for his men.  That doesn’t translate into great work for the people of the United States in the house.  And that dedication that he showed to his men is something else that hasn’t translated in congress.  He has shown, on a number of fronts on a number of occasions, that he looks at Americans as being two distinct and separate groups.

We are not two distinct groups, we are Americans, all of us.  Progressive does not translate into Communist, or enemy, or anything else but American, just like Tea Party doesn’t translate into anything else.  This once great leader of military men needs to realize that here we lead and he follows, and that here we rule, and we decide.

Not him.  Us.

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That’s it from here, America. G’night.

These Things Are Important

Democrats say tax the rich, Republicans say cut the tax base, making us less able to pay for what we need.

Democrats say save Social Security as it is, Republicans say save it by privatizing it, making us more prone to the predations of the open market.

Democrats are pro-union, Republicans are  by and large anti-union.

Democrats are anti death penalty, Republicans are pro death penalty.

Democrats are pro-choice, Republicans are against the right to choose. (No one is “Pro-abortion” no matter how anyone attempts to frame it.  Choice is the only proper frame of reference.)

Democrats are for a higher minimum wage, Republicans are against minimum wage.

Democrats are against tax loopholes for oil companies and other large companies, Republicans are for them.

Democrats want government to partner with businesses large and small so that business and the people can grow, Republicans, as Grover Norquist infamously put it, want government “small enough to drown in a bathtub.”

Democrats believe that protecting the environment is of the utmost importance, Republicans believe that opening up wilderness areas to drilling and other business is important, and would roll back the EPA and other necessary protections that make all of us safer and better off.

Democrats support equal opportunity legislation, Republicans have voiced the opinion that the 14th amendment should be rethought, thus throwing 150 years worth of progress away in an instant.

Democrats do not generally believe in unilateralism, Republicans generally do.

And it is because each of these things are important, and because the Democrats are morally on the right side of each of these arguments, that I am a Democrat.

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Sitting back, feet up, baseball cap pulled down tight on my head, as is my want, drinking coffee at 25 minutes after 12, listening to baseball highlights talking on to no one in particular in the background.  A dull drone of pain is thrumming through my skull, but isn’t all that bad, it’s partly from eating too much today, partly from lack of sleep.  I know that lack of sleep is part of the reason because every time I sit somewhere comfortable I start to fall asleep.

I haven’t been watching much in the way of news, some days I just don’t want to, and this is one of them.  Kind of fried myself on it yesterday, watching news about the plane crash at the air race in Reno.  It was about all I watched for the better part of an hour, and listening to it, and watching the replays over and over again of the modded out p-51 doing the maximum flash from a variety of angles.  Even for normally imperturbable me, it got to wearing thin.

I have been paying attention to it somewhat though.   But much of my focus has been on me.  Selfish of me, I know.  Running has been the main focus, and exercise as well, just trying to get my body ready for the longest run of the year, which I have tentatively scheduled for tomorrow.  I’ve been pushing hard with the running, did 62 miles this week, my longest run week, distance wise, maybe ever, definitely of the year, and I’ll be trying to run roughly 1/3 of that distance when I run tomorrow.

Between that and just living my life I have really worn myself a bit thin.  An amazingly odd thing, seeing how I’m not doing anything substantive.

Go Fig.

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That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

Semi-Wonk

Before I get rolling tonight, a viddy.  Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner Address the 112th congress. 

I watched the above, and a fair bit more of the beginning of the 112th congress opening day in the House of Representatives.  I also watched some of the opening of the Senate, but not nearly as much.  I watched the very beginning of the house proceedings, when, in noisy disarray the house was called to order, by the clerk of the 111th congress, who fulfilled her final duty for that congress by calling the 112th congress to order to begin the process of taking their oaths of office and voting for Speaker of the House.

For Mike the wannabe policy wonk, it was a boatload of fun.  I even saw my representative, Mike Grimm (i didn’t vote for him, but, like it or not he represents my district) on the boob tube for a minute.  Talking presumably to some older member of the Republican caucus.  I didn’t recognize the old man. 

The vote for Speaker was fun to watch.  After the nominations, the voting began without much fanfare.  I thought that when it came to John Boehner’s turn to vote, there was no answer.  But apparently he did, he was either vewy vewy quiet (hunting wabbits?) or he voted through a proxy, or some such. Couldn’t tell. 

There was a vote tally on the screen during the vote.  I knew , everyone knew Nancy had no chance to win,  and John Boehner had it in the bag, but it was still fun to watch.  It was fun to guess who was going to vote for who.

There were eleven democratic votes for Heath Shuler, leader of what is left of the Blue dogs. A few individual votes went to a few other members of the house. Steny Hoyer got one.  Reps. Cardoza and Costa voted each other. John Lewis got 2 votes.   There were a few others, 19 total didn’t vote for former speaker and current minority leader Pelosi.

Most of the Dems who lost in the November election, who would have made a more powerful force of Heath Shuler in his bid for speaker, were members of the once mighty blue dog coalition.  He would have had more votes, but the people he speaks to on an ideological level, in most of the country, voted Republican. 

The speeches were speeches, filled with cute words that truly mean little, like they always do at the beginning of each new congress.  Big words, big rhetoric, big propaganda, of no real consequence, regardless of who speaks them. 

Loved the bit with Speaker Boehner and the oversized gavel.  I watched that thinking two things.  One: that looks like the gavel that was given to Newt Gingrich in 1994, which as I recall was also a bit oversized.  Two:  Is this the Republicans overcompensating for a lack elsewhere in their lives? Maybe that lack is why John of Orange, Speaker Ooompa Loompa, Weeper of the house, whatever you want to call him, cries so damned much. 

😛

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 Viddy of the day, Part II:  Swearing in Ceremony of Sens. John McCain, Barbara Mikulski, Jerry Moran, and Lisa Murkowski, along with the Ceremonial swearing in of Sen. Jerry Moran, Republican from Kansas, in the old senate. 

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The fun, in earnest begins in the house beginning Friday, when the debate begins on the repeal of the affordable health care bill.  I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, this vote is essentially meaningless, except as a symbol.  A symbol representing the Republicans inability to allow health care  for Americans to be less expensive and more complete, and have an America that saves money on health care under a Democratic president.

Of course they reword it, use words like “death panel” to scare people who are ignorant of the reality of the bill, use terms like “job killing health care bill” and “Obamacare” to create an Orwellian atmosphere of fear around our President, the Democrats, and by proxy, anything from the left, to create an aura of distrust by controlling the language of the debate.

There is a way around such tactics.  Forcefully, with strength and pride, stand against those who pass on the lies that are tossed at the strong left wing of American politics, and challenge them to prove their statements.  I remember when Betsy McCaughey was first nailed in public about the lies she passed off, her fake death panels.  She disappeared.  Hasn’t been heard from since.

The Affordable health care repeal by the tea party conservatives is doomed to fail. Fine by me.  Use all the symbols you want to, Right wing America.  Symbols don’t get the job done, it’s cute to think  it could, but it’s wrong.

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A quick aside:

There IS a death panel here in America, a real death panel.  Created by the right.  By Jan Brewer, Governor of Arizona.  Jan, your right wing tea is killing people, very real people.  No fake “WTF Chuck” Grassley death panels coming to kill Grandma.  REAL death panels killing those who cannot save themselves, because money is more important to Jan Brewer and her right wing compatriots than human life is. 

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Mr. and Mrs. America, I am calling it a night, go do things.  I’ll write to you tomorrow.

Semi-Tough

Maybe it’s me, but it feels like the years 2002 – 2005  all over again.  Just like those years, it feels like I should be angry (again) at the Republicans, and the American people who were duped into putting them in power, and the voters were duped. There were no weapons of mass destruction back then, and now the blame for the recession and high debt is being laid at the democrats feet, even though the Republicans put us in that debt, and made the recession inevitable with the fiscal irresponsibility those of us on the left know they regularly practice. 

From the relaxation of the net capital rule, to Chuck Hagel and his cronies letting legislation that would have reformed Fannie and Freddie die in committee, they made oodles of mistakes, and yet somehow it all gets laid on the backs of the Democrats who have, for the last 2 years, dug us out of the recession that Paulson, Bush, Hastert, Lott, Frist and Chris Cox got us into. 

Go fig.  Yes the Dems have spent a ton of money.  So what? It needed to be done.  Without that spending the recession would have been significantly worse than it was, and the aftereffects we are feeling now would be much greater than what we are feeling now.  What is a 9.7% unemployment rate could have easily have been 15% without the money spent on stimulus, and on GM and Chrysler.

The right wing of the American political landscape should not speak of fiscal responsibility until they can show they know what it means, and they have yet to do that once over the past 40 years.

Much as America dislikes it, the truth of the matter is that without the spending President Obama and the Democrats did, we as a nation, would really be in the shitter.  And that is saying something, because things are far from great.  But how much of that is actually because of the weak hearts and shallow minds of those who won’t listen to what the left has to say, simply because it is the left, because they have been told that the left is “socialist” and are somehow evil? 

Please.

The right wing media machine is powerful enough a mechanism to shut out all reality and truth, and pass onto it’s constituents what it wants, without fear of it being sullied by reality. Former house speaker Pelosi and Harry Reid could have found a cure for cancer and the right would never have known, so little they tell of the actual actions of these two, and so skewed was the coverage they received.  And they are but one example.

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Viddy of the day:  A viddy showcasing the book decision points, by Former President George W. Bush.  It actually sounds like a decent read.  I dunno if I’ll be buying it, but I might get a sample chapter or two from kindle if I can, just to see what he’s got to say. 

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Words ought to be a little wild for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking.

John Maynard Keynes

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And George Bush is back.  The book tour makes it almost surreal.   Waterboarding is legal, the man says.  Americans have been prosecuted by military commissions for this act, and yet he says it is legal.  Says he agonized over WMD, and yet he joked about it.  That would be like General Eisenhower joking about D-day.  inconceivable is one word that comes to mind.  And one cannot forget Katrina, and the thousands of people he left for dead there. 

Say what you will about President Obama, he never let the BP created crisis get away from him, no matter what you think, he had the backs of the people in the Area affected, as much as it was possible.  And he didn’t just fly over the area.

American freedom, from my vantage point, has an enemy within the gates, and that enemy is the American right wing.  Americans will figure it out, eventually.  They are good hard working honest people, they just get blinded by right wing propaganda sometimes.  That can be overcome with a healthy dose of truth.

Like this.  People will tell you the President is spending money and raising the debt like never before.  In the two years before President Obama took control of the White House, the American debt went up  2 trillion dollars. 

But you never hear that, do you?

This portion of the debt had a great deal to do with the Bush tax cuts undermining the tax base of the nation.  You never hear that either.  Why?  Because the right won’t tell you they created much of the debt we are now saddled with, and will only speak of that which has happened under this President watch, as if somehow that debt is somehow worse than the debt built up before President Obama came to power.

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Words realize nothing, vivify nothing to you, unless you have suffered in your own person the thing which the words try to describe.

Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

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That’s it for tonight, America.   I’ll be talking to you more tomorrow, if I have the time. Tomorrow’s gonna be a  busy day for Das Rhino.  G’night.

Waiting

I kid the Republicans, with love. I feel bad for them. They got nobody for next time. Who are they gonna run? Sarah Palin, reading off her hand. Did you see that? You saw this? She wrote “tax cuts” on her hand. A Republican so stupid she has to be reminded of the one thing–tax cuts! This is like if you saw the coyote’s paw and it said “Road Runner”.

Bill Maher, But I’m Not Wrong

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Gotta tell you, I for one am rooting like hell for the democrats to dither like crazy for the next month plus, and let all the Bush tax cuts expire.  Fcuk’em.  A couple of weeks of waiting around and some simple hand wringing on their part (something the Dems do quite well)  and all is well.

A few extra percent in taxes, the same that everyone paid a few years ago, isn’t killing anyone, and if it is, fcuk’em.  Seriously, people bitch over a few percent, when we are talking about the lack of money coming in costing us billions and billions every year, trillions of dollars over the life of them, in debt.  Do we like debt so much that we want to saddle ourselves with more of it?

It sounds counter intuitive for any American to argue FOR taxes.  But here’s the simple deal.  The alternative is saddling our children with more debt.  Government, neither in size nor in power shrinks. Never has, never will, get over it.  To think these tea party toddlers can get anything seriously done with their ass backwards “we’ll make government smaller” horse crap, self deluding stupidity, when better men and women than them came before and could not do it, is entirely laughable.

It won’t work, and you’ll see that come about starting in January.  My promise, just watch and see.  And they’ll complain and bitch that Washington is the problem, when in truth the problem is them.  That’s the one thing the Republicans and conservatives, and the right wing of American politics can never admit.  THEY are the problem.  They say they can do something and then not pull it off, that has always been their M.O., always will be.

Reagan tried.  And failed, because he was weak, and because he could not back up his talk with action. Same with Bush Sr.  I read his lips, and taxes still went up, and government grew.  It actually grew less under Clinton than under Reagan, grew less under Carter than Bush (I use the two like that to put one term and two term presidents together, The argument works no matter which arrangement you make).

I can’t wait for the excuses from Reps. Boehner and Cantor, and Sens. McConnell and Paul and the rest of the right wing. You can hear the main stream right wing propaganda noise machine gearing up already, can’t ya?

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Viddy of the day:  James Carville talking about Mitt Romney and his 2012 election campaign chances.  “Designated old white guy” Carville gives me lulz with that line, true though it is.   Romney V Obama in 2012?  I like Obama’s chances.  I really do. Romney is a putz, always has been.

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Republicans want smaller government for the same reason crooks want fewer cops: it’s easier to get away with murder.

James Carville

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I’m sitting here, at twenty after 10 at night, drinking coffee that is beginning to get cold in a semi-darkened room, looking at a green wool knit Notre Dame hat, half on, half off of the computer table that I have my feet on, threatening to fall off underneath me.  I was wearing the hat a few minutes ago, but decided that a wool knit hat with shorts and no shirt on would be… kinda odd.  🙂 

The light, with the exception of the light from the computer screen to my right, is provided by a few strings of Christmas lights.  I hung the lights with what could only be called meticulous care, on walls that could be called desperately in need of a paint job, or at the very least in need of a good washing, with what could clearly only be called cheap white duct tape.  Which in several places has decided to show me just how cheap it is by being completely unable to hold up several ounces of cheap plastic Christmas lights. 

I believe that means that it is time for me to use more of the cheap white duct tape, perhaps in a more aggressive manner, or perhaps in a more judicious manner, or at least in a way that will make it less necessary for me to have to get off of my ass and put the lights back in place every hour or so. 

But I digress…

The diffuse light coming from the aforementioned Christmas lights lends a very relaxed quality to things around here, but then again that more relaxed quality could also be from the Christmas music coming from my computer speakers.  Listening to Chanticleer sing “Ding Dong Merrily on high” has that effect on me.  Add to that Bing Crosby singing “Mele Kalilikimaka” immediately afterwards, and you have heaven on earth.

Guess I’m just an old fashioned old fart.  Fine by me, makes me happy, and my wonderful wife doesn’t seem to mind.  Works for me.

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That’s it from here America.  Go to sleep.