"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

In Which I Personally Respond To Republican Legislative Leaders

I am a small business owner, and (so far) a successful one at that. I'm rather proud of that fact. I look forward to the day when my prosperity is cemented and I can be a new kind of class traitor.

Anyway, the entrepreneur tip is what I'm on right now, and I heard this on NPR and it got me mad enough to yell at the radio. I want to give a big, personal "I Lived Through 9/11 And You Didn't" Scranton-style dick-punch to both John Bohner and Mitch McConnel — and really anyone parroting the GOP party line — for turning people like me ("small businesses") into some GOP hump-fetish to defend the notion that we really need now are tax cuts for the top bracket of earners, those pocketing more than $250k a year.

Let's be clear. It is not many small businesses, or even good ones, that will be affected by these cuts. And those that are, that means the owners are making $250,000 or more, which regardless of your perception, makes you a wealthy individual here in Estados Unidos. Count your blessings. I do.

I'll break it down for you in bare brass tack terms. You only pay taxes on profits, not revenue. This is basic accounting, which I know they don't teach in the Senate, but it's something you learn if you stay in business more than a year: gross is not net, and you need to learn to tell the difference. A small business with six or ten employees may turn over around a million dollars in a year, but most of that is spent before year end.

This is how you roll in real life as you stack that cheese. Here's what I know:

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On The Road Again

Lighting out in the AM. Oregon-bound, then the old HC on my way back south. It's shaping up to be a pretty busy fall already. Lots of places to go and people to see. Should be fun. The game's afoot.

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There's a War Goin' on That the Poor Can't Win

It's been this way for a while, but finally we're seeing the massive obviousness of it all:

When it comes to cutting benefits for poor and middle-class seniors, or cutting the pay of our military personnel while forcing our veterans to pay more of their own health care costs — much of which likely resulted from illness due to their service in two long wars — what we hear from Washington elites is the great need for “shared sacrifice” to bring down the deficit. Yet, when debating the idea of allowing taxes on millionaires (and here it might be good to remember that two-thirds of the members of Congress are themselves millionaires) to return to what they were under Bill Clinton, it is all “damn the deficit we can’t let the wealthy suffer during this economic downturn!”

To be fair, this isn't the precise position of "all our political leaders", but it is in fact the pervading cultural norm among the power elite: the concerns of the wealthy are given much more attention than those of the middle class, and forget the poor. It is also the principle philosophy of a non-trivial number of individual elected officials who will go to the mat specifically to protect elite interests (Joementum, I'm lookin' at your jowls; Liebermania is just another word for being a sold-out hack).

It isn't this way all over the world. As we become more and more "like Brazil" in massive inequity and increasingly entrenched social underclass, the Brazillians are making steady progress in the opposite direction: decreasing inequality, lifting up more and more people into literacy and nurturing a small but growing middle class of entrepreneurs and social stake-holders. Estados Unidos is still a better place to live, sure, but if these trends continue...

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#ActualBestFeeling

In a rare and unalloyed real win for The Good Guys, a scummy local politician in the Bronx was upset and housed by a do-gooding up-and-comer who I'm one degree of social separation from. It is, indeed, a warm and fuzzy feeling.

Last time I was in NYC I remember @Baratunde coming by Rina's place with a crew after canvassing for Rivera. Tired and sweaty but real. Reminded me what it was like to actually work for a campaign for a hot minute. It's frackin' great they made it over the top — the guy they beat was a scumbag — and I was subsequently inspired to tithe, and opened my wallet for some other deserving efforts.

This November's election is going to be weird. Obama and team D are blowin' it, but the Tea Bag Express is also pulling back the curtain and exposing the massive insanity which boils beneath the robotic biege surface of the Republican party. My great fear is that the Republicans don't gain control of anything — remaining an effective petulant minority — but make inevitable numerical gains, which leads to even more timidity and watered-down-ness from the Democrats, which means nothing gets done, which mean shit still sucks, which means a real possibility for President Palin.

Which would be pretty bad, yo.

So here's hoping the Democrats lose some weak sheep, hold majorities, have a "learning moment" about how to function in an oppositional system, and start actually getting shit done and making a clear case as to why they're better. You know, the whole "There's a war going on and the poor can't win" thing. For serious.

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The Unified Theory of Josh

Starting to settle into the new groove. I took the temperature of the neighborhood last night, a little solo wandering. I haven't lived in the Mission for nigh on five years, and it's definitely changed. Gentrification was well underway when I arrived in '03, and has continued apace in my absence.

For instance, there are coteries of "pretty people" who I don't really think are all that pretty, but do make me feel underdressed. This reminds me of North Brooklyn in its heyday, and in the way of all NYC-to-SF comparisons feels a bit like being sent back to the minor leagues, but on the other hand this is where most of the good art comes from so you have to take the lumps with the cream.

Somewhat less pretentiously you can run into this action at a sidewalk cafe:

<a href="http://conbrio.bandcamp.com/album/from-the-hip">From The Hip by Con Brio</a>

This band is really good live, reaffirms faith in humanity via Korg and wail, etc.

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"Patriot Day"

A quick look backward. Nine years gone. What a fracked up time that was. I still take it somewhat personally, viscerally, being in New York City and living through it first-hand. So, for the day, some old links of what was in my mind then.

I still feel the stinging injustice of what our leaders ended up doing with via the manipulation of that raw emotional wound. I still believe what the day taught me about the fundamentals of life. I'm still grateful to have sparked a political awareness as a result.

And I honestly hoped we'd get over ourselves and see "9/11 the Musical Comedy" rather than it becoming an anniversary for pumping up hatred and intolerance. But that wasn't in the cards, I guess.

In many ways watching how Estados Unidos has processed the past decade has been an embittering and disillusioning experience, doubly so as a participant. I thought we were better than this. On a good day — and today is definitely a good day — I still hope we can be.

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Have A Little, Want More

What to say.

Shit is crazy out there. People wanna go back to burning books, and the dominance of wealth is increasingly too obvious to ignore. It puts me in a mind to consider what, in this context, the proverbial "have a little, want more" might really want more of.

Now, truth be told most people just want to hold on to what they've got. When fear of the foreign devil fails, just threaten someone's livelihood or straight up cast them into penury. Up to a point, this'll keep the proles in line.

But what of the rest? What of all the people who are still making it, but aren't actually members of the power elite. Say, people like me (socioeconomically, anyway), or even people who are more well off, simple (and fucking powerless) millionaires, for instance. What do these people want our of their lives?

I see a lot of decadence. There's a lot of fun shit out there to do and buy and eat and drink, and hell if I'm not a part of that scene from time to time. But ultimately I think there's an end to the gratification you can get from toys.

What I hope is that people start tuning in to the fact that what they want more of is not so much a bigger piece of the pie, but a better meal to begin with. There's a non-trivial connection between inequality and intolerance, between an increasingly brutal and dumb society and the neo-aristocracy that's growing up around us.

What I hope the have-a-little's want more of is civilization. I don't mean that in some refined haughty sense, but in the sense of a productive, vibrant, effective, lively, awesome society, one that produces truly great culture, that can pilot spaceship earth with honor and distinction.

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Season of Changes

It's shaping up to be a pretty big Autumn. My favorite season to begin with, a time of change, of ripening and harvest, of back-to-school, of warm days and cool nights, outdoor fires and strung up lights. It's the natural time for me to hit the reset button.

And that I have. Over the past two days I've helped clear and clean the Cornell Club and have taken up roost in the easterly-facing upstairs side of Houseku, which is a really nice house (verging on compound) down in the Mission with five other people who all Talk Nerdy living in it. The rent is unspeakable for someone with my class pretensions, but if I can live up to my ideal of utilizing the (awesome) kitchen instead of living off food I pay other people to cook for me, it's almost a wash since I don't have to drop $8 a day on BART.

Anyway, the point is contra my basic theorem of life experience one of the things you can actually do to shake up your life experience is shift your surroundings. That I have done. And hope to follow it up with a shift in routines as well.

The first is the switch away from take-out as a prime source of sustenance. I'm happy to stimulate the economy, but this is textbook BDE (Bad Domestic Economy; contra the progenetor of the Girth: "six dollars for a burrito?! that's just beans, rice and cheese... (shakes head in disgust)") and I get good vibes from cooking, so that's something I should do more.

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Back in the US(SR)

I'm back in Estados Unidos once more, surviving 10 days in bustling, socialistic, publicly drunken Yrup. I have more extensive scribblings on the subject of "does humanity stand a chance" based on my experience, but those are for another time.

For now, notable notes:

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RIP Sixto

Marco y Sixto

The dog who would not be silenced will bark no more. I am still sort of in shock. Apparently the night of Friday the 13th, Sixto was struck and killed by a car up Highway 299. I will miss the hell out of that canine. He was the beast who taught me to love dogs.

More words later, I'm sure, but for now I'll post the poetry of my friend.

Requiem For A Conquistador
By The Girth:

You were born in a hard summer.
I remember, the summer my father died.  
Your own master heartbroken, an intoxicated disconsolate youth.  
Later, we would chide you, the grown dog, for your irascible frustrations.
Calm down boy. So paranoid. So angry.
But I remember the puppy.
Standing guard, hardening, for the good of the herd.

You hated tweakers.
Weren't too fond of small people.
Didn't initially like women.
Rarely took to other dogs.
There was Ace of course.
But he was kind of a wolf.
And Quilan, who understood you.
As sub will understand Dom.

Peg leg didn't bother you,
No leg didn't bother you.
Didn't care.
Wasn't significant.

You got upset with me
For wearing a bini.
When i took it off
 u were relieved
And told me politely,
Get back with the damn group man.
As you were want to do,
You bit me on the thigh one time.
I was running down the beach,
I'm sorry, I shouldn't have strayed.

At Cornell Club,
you fought our raccoon.
We'll call it a draw.

You had to look out for number one
You found the shade
Under the truck
In the desert.
And told Dauter,
Who come to poach it,
Fuck You Dauter,
This is my shade.

That's right.
Go find the shade boy.

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