Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Race is On

Now that Romney's nomination has become a certainty, we've got about six months ahead of us where the two candidates engage in a race to the bottom.  As the saying goes, the only ones certain to lose this race are the American people.  Liberal friends have recently asked me about my previous statement that I plan to vote for a third party candidate rather than "risk" a Romney presidency.  And while I understand their fear, I feel that keeping Obama for another four years is a disaster in its own right, and a campaign slogan of "The Less Disastrous" candidate doesn't sell me.

There's a new opinion piece that unequivocally puts the blame on the dysfunction in government squarely at the feet of the Republicans.  And as far as it goes, I have no qualms with its assertions -- in Congress, the Republicans are determined to be obstructionist and unreasonable.  But I've seen folks point to that article as a defense of Obama's record, and I think that's ridiculous.  The Obama Administration has the power to do many things.  Many of the things he has done (or failed to do when he could do them) are abominable.

Suppose there was no limit on how many terms a president could serve, and W not only ran but won re-election in 2008.  And suppose that he's running for office again in 2012, and in the past four years, his administration:

Some of these are more important than others, but this record is awful -- I would never consider voting for Bush with that record behind him (and I'm sure I'm forgetting plenty -- these are just the ones that come to mind, and so they're slanted toward more recent events).  Yet these are things that Obama has done (follow the links) -- not Congress or Republicans, but Obama.  That the name and party behind those in/actions is different gives me no reason to reconsider my position.  Nor does the fact that in some instances Republicans have proposed even more radical things.  Even the fact that Obama can both nominate federal judges and serve as a check against such radical proposals is inadequate given how awful he's been without Republican involvement.

Of course I've focused on the bad, and it's only fair to consider the good he's done.  Sadly, many of the good things he's done are qualified successes.  The two unqualified things I give credit for are signing into law the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and nominating Justice Sotomayor for the Supreme Court.  The stimulus bill was a lot better than nothing, but it was still too small and poorly designed to get us out of the recession, and its effect was dampened by deficit deals he later made.  Health care reform was a lovely idea, but the law that got enacted is from a template from the very conservative Heritage Foundation, and keeps getting watered down.  Leaving Iraq is a good thing, if you overlook  that the Obama Administration tried to stay longer (ironically, it was bound by an agreement made by Bush that the Iraqis wouldn't budge on).  The Dodd-Frank Act may be an improvement over the status quo (or not, I'm honestly not sure), but what it mostly did was create confusion and give industry a chance to negate its effect.

I have a couple of individuals I'm considering voting for.  But I can safely say that the person I'll decide on isn't the nominee of a major party.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Kathy stopped work in June to be a full-time stay-at-home Mom, and we started living on a budget last April in anticipation.  Suddenly, the money we were permitted to spend on ourselves was restricted significantly.  It had never been limitless, but we've always been fairly responsible to the point that we never really felt restricted.  We feel it now.

And so my trips to buy new beers have dropped off -- hard to keep to a budget when a stop at State Line eats up all your money for a month.  And even though I spend far less per visit to one of my favorite bars than I do at State Line, those trips have tapered off too.  To be honest though, that started in earnest when I went on a diet at the first of the year.  

At the same time as I've been cutting back on beer geekery, I've been undergoing (as Kathy put it) my once-a-decade move to a new online community.  In the '90s, it was jumbalaya, a community of people who like playing boggle.  In the '00s, it was ratebeer, a community of beer geeks.  In both these instances, I've made a number of friends that extended beyond the virtual into the real world.  

And now, I've discovered, a music site where you dj for others in a chat room.  I'm finding new music, and meeting folks who enjoy the same music I do.  Given that I love music but had given up on radio long ago, this is a wonderful discovery.  And let's face it, listening to music in a chat room costs no more than one's internet connection, whereas there's only so much enjoyment one can get talking about new beers without spending on the beer itself.

And so instead of spending on beer as much, I'm now spending on concerts.  I spent about the same at each of two shows in March as I would have for a night at a bar.  And while I can't remember a single beer I had the last time I went to my favorite beer bar, I expect the great memories of the last show I attended, Langhorne Slim at Iota, will be with me for quite some time.  

I haven't stopped there either -- my passion has resulted in our summer plans including a trip to a music festival.  We'll see how it goes with the whole family camping at a four-day music fest, but fingers crossed it's the beginning of a family tradition.

This isn't about a rejection of beer -- I'll still drink and rate beer as the opportunities arise (and for the fifth year in a row, we'll still be doing at least one camping beer weekend).  I would love to try more beers and go to a bunch of shows, but the budget and the time isn't available.  And at this point in my life, to the extent I have to choose, I'm choosing music over beer.