Tuesday, April 27, 2010

So au courant is green

Plugged-in and contemporary treehuggers intent on decarbonizing the world are endearing, and you are reasonably tolerant of vivacious Gen Y'sters endlessly jabbering about green jobs. You would drive a hybrid car if you could afford one and you want renewable energy. Fresh and awake you are cool as jade most of the time.

It's when you turn a shade of army green in a sea of emerald, hunter and celadon that stinks. The bronze skin tone of friends recently vacationed in Mexico turns your eyes from hazel to celery. Your bunions in flip-flops behind supple perfectly pedicured feet in line at Hannafords give you a glow of olive drab. Wine cellars, lake houses, tickets to Europe, boats, pools, MacBooks and book contracts surround you and stir nauseating embarrassing thoughts. You hate that dark green place.

Oh but the spring green grass is sparkling and virile! You have hip friends and family and your life is lush. Snap out of it! Sustainable living is maintaining a 5 to 1 ratio of feeding and yelling at your kids, and you're out of milk.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Barrel Chested Patriots

Guns and breasts, it turns out, have a lot in common. A parade of women bearing their souls and naked torsos marched on Congress Street in Portland last week, and men will show off their guns this Sunday in an "open carry" march.

Yes, the second amendment says you have the right to carry a gun, and Maine law apparently grants you and all your fat friends the right to walk in public without a shirt. Why walk when you can jog? Why just carry a gun when you can carry a gun with no shirt?

Far be it from us to suggest these two groups have issues with sexuality and were neglected as children. We are just sayin' these people missed class the day protesting was taught by their liberal college professors. Normal deviants protest against something, war for example, or for rights they seek like equal pay.

Let's assume hypothetically soldiers have never quartered in your house without your consent. Now assume for the sake of argument the third amendment to the constitution says "no soldier shall in time of peace be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner."

Are you and your friends going to dress up as soldiers and roam about the neighborhood with signs that say "Americans for soldier-free homes?" Of course not. That would be ridiculous.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Modern Proposal

It is a melancholy object to those who Google, twitter or travel in the world, when they see in the United States the presidency, corporate boards, congress, and investment banks, crowded with the male sex, followed by three, four, or six ex-wives, all in suits and importuning every deity for an alms. These mothers, instead of being able to work for their honest livelihood, are forced to employ all their time working for less while caring for more. Parents, grandparents and helpless infants remain their charge, who as they grow up either live at home for want of work, or leave their dear native country to fight in Iraq or Afghanistan. Some of these women sell their soles to please everyone all the time.

Mother's Little Helper in this fast-paced digital era is of course her phone. Swiftly switching applications enables shopping, banking, answering interrogatories and advising her teen what is and is not acceptable to wear at a dance, all the while in her seat waiting for speeches to end and votes to be cast.

Her phone is her alter-ego. She calls her mother back, again, while car pooling doing kegal exercises. "Pay credit card bill today" reminds the friendly blue-lit box. Pretending to listen to the witness testifying, she emails her client. Late at night she smiles when the two-toned text ring she knows is her friend chimes. Decompressing and still working. Updating Facebook. Planning a trip. Checking if anyone has ever read her blog.

Sexting, that cute portmanteau with a bad rap, marketed just right could be the next Cuisinart for today's working woman in a committed relationship short on alone time. Sure, there is the little problem of the USA Patriot Act and domestic spying by Uncle Sam (that could be really embarrassing) and obviously sexting is not for kids. For the conservatives, though, high-speed digital relations are non-carnal. For the germophobics its all clean. Liberals with iPhones can photo-shop. Gay and lesbian couples have equal rights. For exhausted underpaid working mothers it could be one more time-saving, family friendly application.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Tea Partier for a Day

Under the penalty of perjury you sign the 19 pages that make up your tax return, and channel Sarah Palin just a little bit. The weight of the document and its solemnity might be justified if you actually made a lot of money, or had sophisticated off-shore investments to report, but you didn't. What brings your Tea Party chi to the surface is perplexity about the return's actual meaning, and certainty the annual ritual of its preparation will cost you more than a thousand bucks.

The thick year-end package from the payroll company for your one part-time employee was startling, but the 29 page "how to file your tax return as a state legislator" memo on account of a $13,000 salary was the kicker that launched the day dream. There you are, standing at a podium in a rent-a-Chanel suit, waving your tax return while sounding off about the federal government takeover of our lives. One particularly flip and snarky sound bite, "the IRS is a gangster!" earns you passionate cheering from the crowd and a reference in Bill Clinton's speech. A parody on Saturday Night Live is imminent.

You are awakened from the dream by the CBS News/New York Times report about real Tea Partiers.

You are not invited to the party after all. Being white and miffed on tax day doesn't cut it. You're not angry enough, you believe President Obama was born in Hawaii, you don't carry a gun and, most importantly, you don't make enough money.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Nattering Nabobs of Net Neutrality

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued a decision on April 6, 2010 that winds back the Net Neutrality agenda of the FCC. The court said in a 36 page decision that the Federal Communications Commission does not have authority to regulate an Internet service provider's network management practices.

The facts of the case are simple. Comcast interfered with its customers' use of "peer-to-peer" network applications. These apps allow users to share large files directly with one another, and use a ton of bandwidth. Comcast says it was simply managing its network capacity. The FCC issued an order saying Comcast was violating a federal Internet policy that gives consumers the right to access lawful Internet content and run applications of their choice.

The problem, according to the court, is that there is no specific statute that gives the FCC authority to tell Comcast what it can and can't do with its network. Regulations to promote and preserve an open Internet can't be woven from whole cloth. Congress has to pass a law first.

The FCC is not a quitter, though. "Today's court decision invalidated the prior Commission's approach to preserving an open Internet. But the Court in no way disagreed with the importance of preserving a free and open Internet; nor did it close the door to other methods for achieving this important end," says FCC Spokesperson Jen Howard.

In an election year, when corporations can give unlimited amounts of money to campaigns, and Google and Facebook are up against Telecom giants like Comcast and Verizon, we are in for a treat!

Friday, April 9, 2010

The End

Being a cog in the wheel of state politics can be frenetic. Ringing bells call lawmakers to their seats, gauntlets of lobbyists chatter, and herds of people stampede through the marble halls of the capital to create a cacophony of sound that over time becomes familiar and strangely comforting.

The energy at the end of a legislative session is particularly intense and addictive if you are a player, and mind-numbing if you're not.

For legislators self-appointed to the center of hot issues, procrastination is no longer an option at the end. Controversial bills must be resolved, and chaotic lines in the sand are drawn. Held in captivity for long hours and sleep deprived, these people exist on raw emotion and arguments erupt. Doors slam and tears flow. It's high drama.

For the rest of us, the final day of the legislative session can't come soon enough. Spouses and children are no longer enamored with our public life and rightfully skeptical the 17th time we predict this day at the capital will be our last. Our clients are antsy and irritable. Tax returns stating ridiculously low income aren't filed. Houses need cleaning, flower beds beg to be raked and our hair needs to be cut.

We are all grateful for the increasing amount of sunlight, and welcome the screaming peepers at dusk and chorus of birds in the early morning that cheer us to the finish line.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Estimated Prophet

Catching President Obama in Portland, Maine reminds you of going to a Grateful Dead concert. Friends with connections get tickets and you hit the road. Sun shining, music playing and windows open, you tap out rhythm on the steering wheel as carloads of happy Democrats whiz by on their way south from the capital to the show. Obama Biden bumper stickers and dark suits replace Steal Your Face and tie dye, but the feeling is the same. You are connected by a common purpose.

After parking blocks away you make the pilgrimage with the masses to a place transfixed by the event. Instead of buying a veggie burrito from a nice Dead Head, you grab some Thai noodles at Whole Foods and a water bottle. What had been the dingy Expo Center on Saturday for your daughter's track meet is now the center of the universe. Peaceful protesters and people looking for tickets mill around, bells ring and police stand at attention.

Being a part of the establishment has its perks. The blue ticket you scored gets you on the fast track with the usual suspects. Former governors, candidates for governor, legislators, congress people, and big donors get shepherded in by volunteers you also recognize from conventions and caucuses. White ticket-holders are in a line that hasn't moved since 5 AM.

Inside the echo chamber some people fill in the bleachers, some jockey for media exposure and schmoozing, but you go to the floor in front and join believers who want to look the President in the eye.

Jerry Garcia caused hysteria simply by tuning his E string. Jerry! Jerry! Jerry! And the Obama staffer who places the Presidential seal on the podium and tests the sound system receives a standing ovation. Yes we can! Yes we can! Yes we can!

Preaching to his choir Barack Obama is relaxed and playful. He is among friends who are high on victory. His speech is good, but it's more than the words that inspire. It is a confidence in our country and in us that makes some middle-aged women jump up and down, and scream. It's the promise of a future for our children. It is hope, and yes, things have changed.