Sunday, October 16, 2005

Sunday chores

Of course, I couldn't just build shelves. They had to tie in with the theme of the room. Yes, I made the gate too. (Pardon the mess, I still got a little more detail work to do.)

As you can see, the anal German in me surfaces when I build shit. This was unfinished basement once. Well, until I got a hold of it. Now it's my office/bedroom.

My office.

The bedroom is past the arch.

Yes, I built the desk too.

My adult supervision.


Mrs. F added her touch to turn it into a garden.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

10 Pledges to Demand from Democrats

I'm more than a little leery about anything that even sounds like it resembles a "Contract with America" after the last time, given that politicians will sign anything that sounds good even though they know nobody will hold them accountable so they don't have to live up to it. This one from AlterNet sounds good anyway.

You hear it every day in Washington: "Democrats have no ideas, no programs, no deeply held beliefs, no lines in the sand they will not cross." The only discernible passion Democrats display is a passion to be in power again. But in power to do what? You tell me. I have no friggin idea, and I deeply suspect neither do they.

That's why we need to force them to sign a contract with us this time. To put it bluntly, we don't trust them any longer. They've double-crossed at every major moment -- on war, on taxes, on the environment, on health care. They took or votes and our hopes and bargained them away to the enemy for the political equivalent of nylons, smokes and chocolate bars.

So I took the points Bob listed in his article, "embellished" them and put them into the form of 10 contractual pledges Democrat candidates can and should embrace.
A Progressive Contract With America

If elected to office I promise to fully, enthusiastically and aggressively work to pass legislation that achieves the following goals:

We Will Bring the Troops Home. Our military has been stretched to the breaking point through a series of unwise deployments, particularly the war in Iraq. We will begin rebuilding America's all-volunteer military by first setting a date-certain for withdrawal from Iraq, beginning with National Guard and reservists. We will pass legislation requiring US troops begin leaving Iraq at the rate of 15,000 a month. We will work as closely as possible with Iraqi government officials to make this withdraw orderly while continuing to provide them the resources needed to train and equip their own soldiers and police forces.

We Will Crack Down on Corruption. The revolving door between corporate lobbies and high public office must be closed. We will pass legislation prohibiting legislators, their senior aides and executive branch political appointees from lobbying for two years after leaving office. We will let the sun shine into the deepest corners by requiring detailed public reporting of all contacts between lobbyists and legislators and the timely posting of such contacts on the Web. We pledge to apply these rules to all, regardless of party, as one way to take big money out of politics.

We Will Make Public Officials Accountable. When public officials fail to do their job, as in the pre-9/11 and WMD intellegence faliures, we will require an independent investigation be launched so that no official's actions, regardless of rank or position, escapes review. We will detail action on the urgent needs that this Administration has ignored: Improve port security, bolster first responders and public health capacity, and require adequate defense planning by high-risk chemical plants. And we will attack fraud, waste and abuse, beginning with the pork-barrel squandering of national security funds.

We Will Unleash New Energy for America. We understand that the "age of oil," is nearing an end. Therefore we pledge to launch and fund a concerted drive towards real energy independence for America. We must approach this task with the same sense of urgency, funding and attention that the nation gave to the Manhattan Project. We will focus these efforts solely on mainstreaming renewable, non-polluting sources of energy such as hydrogen, wind and solar, with the goal of achieving total energy independence no later than 2020.

We Will Rebuild America First. We will pass legislation rescinding Bush's tax cuts for the already wealthy and corporations in order to create more jobs here than overseas. We will accomplish that, in part, by using the additional tax revenue to create good-paying jobs rebuilding America's decaying infrastructure.

We Will Make Work Pay Once Again. There are only three nations on earth with such a vast disparity between rich and poor, Russia, Mexico and the United States. It is a disgraceful effect of GOP economic policies that favor corporations and the wealthy while ignoring hard working Americans. While CEO pay has moved steadily upward, the pay of working Americans has fallen, in many cases below the official poverty level. We promise to reverse that trend, beginning by passing legislation raising the minimum wage to a level that reflects current economic reality. We will encourage workers, including white collar workers, to take a hand in their own destinies by joining unions, as well as becoming shareholders in the companies that employ them and fully participating in both union and shareholder activities. We will insist that any companies that receive government contracts pay the prevailing wage.

We Will Make Healthcare Affordable. We pledge to fix America's broken healthcare system, a to do so quickly. We will study and then propose a single-payer, universal, healthcare system to be in place no later than 2015. We will also immediately reverse the Republican shameful sellout to the pharmaceutical industry by empowering Medicare to bargain down drug prices andallowing people to purchase drugs from safe outlets abroad.

We Will Protect Retirement Security. We pledge to strengthen Social Security. We will not risk Social Security by privatizing it. Instead we will modernize Social Security by, in part, recognizing that people live and work longer than they did 75 years ago.We will also modernize the ways the Social Security Trust Fund is invested to assure it always grows at least as fast as core inflation. We will also require companies to treat the shop floor like the top floor when it comes to managing their pensions and healthcare benefits.

We Will Keep the American Dream Alive. We will immediately stop and reverse current GOP efforts to cut eligibility for college grants and to limit loans. Instead we will offer a contract to American students: If they graduate from high school, they will be able to afford college or the higher technical training needed to be successful in today's economy. We will pay for this by preserving the estate tax on the wealthiest multimillion-dollar estates in America.

We Will Provide Real Security for America. We will foster and lead an aggressive international alliance to track down stateless terrorists, capture or kill them and confiscate their assets. Captured terrorists will be always be treated in accordance with international law. We will increase efforts and funding to track down and secure "loose nukes." We will detail action on the urgent needs that this Administration has ignored: Improve port security, bolster first responders and public health capacity, and require adequate defense planning by high-risk chemical plants. We will also affirm the reality that no nation can ever be secure as long as its borders are not. We will bring order and security to our borders by increasing border patrols and controls and by instituting a fair, manageable and humane guest worker program. We will also aggressively prosecute employers who employ or exploit illegal immigrant workers.



So, maybe you should email or mail this to your elected representative and let him/her know that, if they intend to run for re-election the price of your vote is their signature on this document.

In other words, "We'll do what we should have been doing all along." Your thoughts?

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Yesterday's excuses

Mrs. F and yours truly were at the wedding of our oldest and closest friends' oldest daughter. (Say it a couple times, it works) Needless to say, we had far too much fun. It was wonderful, though I feel a bit old, because I've known these kids all their lives. An excellent coincidence, the wedding was held at the country club that's 2 blocks from my house. The car found its way home by itself.

1 - My beautiful wife and me after too much Jack Daniels and Absolut.

2 - The bride's two younger sisters. The one on the left gets married next year. Gotta go to Boston for that one.

3 - Yours truly, the bride's little brother, and the proud daddy.

4 - With the beautiful bride. I remember when she was an annoying little rugrat.

5 - Mrs. F with the mother of the bride (Mrs F's best friend) and the next victim. Heh.

6 & 7 - Me with mom and dad.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Me and my big mouth

As regular readers of the Brain know, I speak my mind. Everybody knows where they stand with me. There's no guessing if I like you or not. If I don't you'll know it.

Anyway, it's with this attitude I pay my property taxes twice a year . . . in person. It's the one time I can get in my local politicians' faces . . . well, two times a year. They have to deal with me too because I give 'em $4000 at a clip. I also went to school with the Town Supervisor's (mayor's) useless piece-of-shit son.

So, for the last 5 years (10 visits to Town Hall), I've been bitching about illegal multiple family dwellings. We've got big problems there because our tax base is small enough. The schools suck, we don't have sewers or sidewalks, and most of the single-family houses have been turned into illegal, multi-family apartments with absentee landlords. They're still paying taxes for single-family dwellings.

So, I've been on this code enforcement kick. Now, I'm not one to turn in neighbors, that's up to the town when they do the checks they're supposed to do, so I bitch at them to do their jobs. Generally, I get a pat on the head and "We're working on it".


So last week, I'm in the yard walking the dog. I got an old Taurus (my daily driver until I blew the transmission) in my yard, not on the road. I got it hid behind a bushy evergreen so it's not an eyesore and you can't see it from the street. So what do I see on it as I'm walking the dog? 3 tickets. They had to walk halfway through my yard to get to it and put tickets on it. I'm pissed now. Even cops don't enter my yard without my knowlege and these code enforcement rent-a-cops have the balls? We'll see.

The next day, I head off to Town Hall, tickets in hand. I get there early, because the Town Supervisior doesn't park in his assigned spot, doesn't even use the town vehicle. He drives this beat up old Nissan and parks it in with the regular folks because too many people want to kill him. This is the same guy who named a wing of our local airport after himself, the one with the useless piece-of-shit son.

So, I'm there early, parked in the back of the lot, wating for him to show. As soon as he pulls in, I hop out the truck and make a beeline for him, tickets in hand. "You son of a bitch," I say. "Is this payback for my bitching?"

Needless to say, he has no idea what I'm talking about. "They came into my yard to put these on my car," I shove the tickets in his face. I go into the usual, "if I catch one of your assholes in my yard, I'll be calling you to bring bodybags."

"Shut up," he says, snatching the tickets from me and looking them over. "I'll take care of this," he sticks them in his jacket pocket and then looks me over.

"Tell me if I'm wrong," he says to me. "These tickets are all deserved?"

"Well . . . yeah," I agree. I did break about a half-dozen local ordnances by having an unlicensed, unregistered, uninsured car on my property.

"Rich, my boy," I hate it when guys I don't like get fatherly with me. He throws his arm over my shoulder. "You got 30 days to get that piece of crap out your yard or under a cover, or I'll send code enforcement back out."

"Fair enough," I say. "But why break my balls? I keep my yard nice, I don't bother anybody, and I only piss you off twice a year."

He stops, looks me straight in the eye, and says, "aren't you the one who bitches the loudest about enforcing local codes? You should be happy we're finally doing our jobs. We're breaking everybody's balls." He smiles, slaps me on the shoulder, and leaves me standing there. Guess I shouldn't have bitched so loudly.