A Tale of Two HQs

XXXXXXLast weekend, I was walking around the Santa Rosa downtown, on my way to Treehorn Books to see if they had any new copies of Don Quixote that I don’t already have. This is a fools errand, because I think I already have every English translation of the book except for three minor quasi-translations from the early 19th century. But I still look. It makes me happy. (Plus, they have the first edition of the Putnam translation in a single volume. I keep not buying it because I already have several Putnam translations including the absolute first edition in two volumes. But it calls to me.)

So I’m on my way to the bookstore, and I see a bunch of Romney posters in a shop that has long been vacant. It had the “For Lease” sign clearly displayed above the door. This made me kind of mad: the owner (Or Realtor!) is such a partisan that he doesn’t care that these signs will turn off prospective tenants. Boy, was I wrong!

<%image(20120919-republicanhqa.jpg|450|360|Sonoma Country Republican Headquarters)%>

I look in the window and there were tables and chairs. There was even a Romney standee. That’s when I noticed the little sign in the window, “Sonoma County Republican Party.” At last, I’d found the seat of conservative power in Santa Rosa! The last time I saw them was a year ago at the Sonoma County Fair. They really annoyed me with their “No RINOs” sign. I thought, “How can a major party actively push the idea that they are a “little tent”? It annoyed me so much that I took them up on their bumper sticker design contest.

The “For Lease” sign was just perfect. I’m well aware that some Democratic politicians can be rented, but if you want to lease, you have to go Republican. What’s more, in front of the building (just outside of the frame because I was scared) was a crazy man ranting about some unseen force that was oppressing him. And that too struck me as perfect! Invisible President. Elders of Zion. The folks who fluoridate the water. Romney-Ryan 2012!

Only a couple of blocks away is the Obama Headquarters. The photo below gives you a good idea of the difference. For one thing, the Democrats were open! And their space looks permanent. If you go inside, there are offices. People are coming and going. There are actual Democrats out registering voters and going door to door. I haven’t seen a single Republican, and I should have because I spend a good part of the day walking around doing my shopping.

<%image(20120919-democratichqa.jpg|450|360|Sonoma Country Democratic Headquarters)%>

Yes, I am a partisan. But not a happy one. In fact, until the Democratic National Convention, I was going to change my registration to Peace & Freedom. So I’m pleased that my local organization is one I can be proud of. The fact that the local Republicans can be mocked is just icing.

The Job Creator Myth

Joe ScarboroughI caught this on The Young Turks. Joe Scarborough on Morning Joe said, “I believe conservative policies help 100% of Americans. I don’t believe it helps the 1%. I really do believe that you don’t help the waiters and waitresses, who want to get a better job, by raising taxes on the job creators. ”

Here is the problem with this comment: I don’t believe it.

There is no way a serious person can have gone through the Reagan and Bush years and still believe that cutting taxes on the rich will cause the them to create jobs. No business decides to create jobs just because they have more money. To say that they do shows a shocking ignorance of how real businesses work.

Let me give you an example. My business partner William and I might eventually hire someone to work for us. We will do that only when there is too much work for us. Otherwise, if we make more money than we feel we need, we will give the money to charity. We won’t hire someone. Business is not a charitable endeavor. And conservatives, more than anyone else, should know this.

This is why I say that Scarborough is lying.

Here is another example, every year WalMart makes billions of dollars in profit. Do they use that money to hire more clerks that they don’t need? Of course not! The very idea is ludicrous. And yet, that is the underlying assumption of the “job creator” myth.

Here is the video:


Perhaps the best refutation of this nonsense is Nick Hanauer’s TED talk. He says, “Anyone who’s ever run a business knows that hiring more people is a course of last resort for capitalists. It’s what we do if—and only if—rising consumer demand requires it.” Check it out:

Schooled by Mad Citizen Kane

Mad KaneYes, yes, I’ve already written about Mad Kane before. But she deserves at least two articles because she won the Robert Benchley Society Award for Humor, which was presented by Bob Freaking Newhart. This is the coolest thing that has ever happened to anyone I know and I know some pretty cool and famous people. Anyway, as regular readers know, I have many intense if fleeting obsessions.

Mad Kane has a limerick challenge of sorts. I had planned to avoid it, but I happened upon her post that requested a limerick that started (more or less), “A woman was trying her hand.” I liked that because I immediately thought, “A surgeon was sawing her hand.” The comedic potential was too great and my resistance folded like an ironing board that folds particularly well.

But other than thinking that a surgeon sawing her own hand off was hysterical (Everyone loves a good self-torture narrative!) I had nothing. That was when I made my Big Mistake.

“Hand” rhymes with “Sudan” and “Koran.” That had possibilities. After a fair amount of work, I came up with this:

A preacher was trying his hand
To save a few souls in Sudan
The few who were liable
To like his dear Bible
Said they still preferred their Koran.

I worked particularly hard on that second line. It was originally, “At a mission in eastern Sudan.” Although this works in hearing, I find it is disrupting in reading. But this probably says more about my poor reading skills than anything. I also changed a number of things so it wouldn’t be offensive. For example, it was originally “zealot” rather than “preacher.” And it sure wasn’t “dear” Bible, originally!

In the end, I was very pleased with it. This is especially the case because it does the one thing I think a limerick should do: pay off in the last line. This is what I have a very hard time doing. Here is a limerick written by Carolyn Henly that really made me laugh:

A poet was trying her hand
At a limerick that wouldn’t get panned:
The rhymes were a breeze;
She contrived them with ease.
Too bad the doggone-son-of-a-jumping-frog last line didn’t scan!

But you know me: I love silly.

Anyway, it turns out that Mad Kane is Good and True of Heart. That is: she’s as much of a pedant as I am! She noted that “hand” does not rhyme with “Sudan.” Woe is me! Mad Kane was dissing my cherished rhyme! (She has a very thorough discussion of the limerick on her site, including a very clever “how to write a limerick” limerick.)

It seems I am in over my head, which is not that bad. I like the feeling. But as a longtime songwriter, I have gotten to the point where I prefer assonance to rhyme. One of my more recent songs “rhymes” the words “gas,” “dad,” and “match.” So my standards are kind of low. You can imagine what a great limerick you would get using those three words.

So I went back to work and wrote a limerick that talks about what it is:

A blogger was trying his hand
At limericks that others could stand
His rhymes weren’t quite right
His meter a blight
And they always ended so bland.

“Bland” is the operative word here. But I can’t be smart all of the time. (Andrea: do not comment, “Or any of the time.”) To console myself, I am altering my original limerick:

There once was a preacher named Stan
Who tried to save souls in Sudan
The few who were liable
To like his dear Bible
Said they still preferred their Koran.

Count yourself lucky the preacher wasn’t from Nantucket!

The Tabarrok Curve

Via Ezra Klein most recently, I offer you the Tabarrok curve. It supposedly shows that some patent protection is good, but too much is bad. I agree with this. Most recently, I wrote about it in regards to Apple, which has always been on the forefront of stupid and evil patent disputes. Perhaps you’ve heard that Apple has the patent on the rectangular phone.

Tabarrok Curve

The patent system is broken, although I’m not clear that it ever really worked. Dean Baker is the most innovative thinker I know of when it comes to these issues. I recommend reading Robert Samuelson Shows Us How Patents Monopolies Impose Enormous Costs With Medical Technology for a very brief introduction.