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So we’re up to day 2 of no power due to the outage from the snow storm that made it’s way through the DC region on Wednesday night. The temperature in the house is 55 degrees Fahrenheit, the street behind my house has power, the main road at the end of the street has power and the end of the block has power. PEPCO, the power company who likes to claim – “We’re connected to you by more than just power lines” – now says that they may have power restored by Sunday night at 11PM. To add salt to the wound it turns out that PEPCO waited until well into the storm before asking for help from neighboring utilities.

I’m sure I’ll get e-mail from people saying “well…go out and buy a generator” (that would probably be the Republican answer) and others will say “PEPCO should be fined for their lack of reliability” (BTW – they rank near the bottom nationwide in terms of electric reliability) (that would probably be the Democrat answer). In the end I will probably go out and buy a whole house generator as insurance that the next time this happens (and I’m sure that it will since PEPCO doesn’t seem intent on doing jack-shit about their infrastructure) I will at least be able to stay in the house comfortably and get things done. But that’s the rub – why should I have to go out and spend thousands of dollars to make sure I can have reliable power? Wasn’t that what deregulation and all that bullshit was supposed to provide? Wasn’t deregulation supposed to be a win-win for the consumer? Yes I get my power from an alternative provider – but the problem is that the distribution network is all PEPCO. There’s no way for another provider to come in and say “hey, I can provide you power distribution more reliably than PEPCO.” So in the end the consumer is screwed and has to spend his own money to do the very thing the utility is supposed to do!

I also noticed this morning that I’ve got two branches from a white oak tree on my property that broke due to the weight of the wet snow. So now I’ve got to get someone to come in and cut them back. What would probably cost me $100 in Texas will probably end up costing me $500 here in Maryland. Why? Well, because in Maryland, everything costs more. It costs more to live here, it costs more to eat here, it costs more to drive around here…it just costs more. I’m sick and tired of being asked to pay more and more for less and less. I’m no certainly no Republican or Tea-Party wannabe but I’m at the point when I think enough is enough. I realize that taxes have their place…and I don’t mind paying my fair share. What I DO mind is paying my fair share only to find that others find ways around paying THEIR fair share by sleight of hand and financial trickery and enriching themselves. Then they go around and bitch and moan about how taxes are STILL too high.

It seems that everything I buy at the store is made in China these days. Why? Because it’s cheaper for the company to make it in China…the company’s profits are higher, the CEO’s bonus is bigger and yet the products are worse. It’s all about competitiveness…uh huh…and if you believe that then I’ve got some land in Libya that you may be interested in. It’s all about profit…and making great numbers every quarter to make sure the analysts on Wall Street (who should all be thrown in the ocean anyway…What do you get when you’ve got 1000 Wall Street analysts at the bottom of the ocean? – A good start!) are happy so that the stock prices go up. That’s the truth. And if they can get you to pay MORE for the product that costs them LESS to manufacture and ship over here…well so much the better. That’s what a Capitalist market is supposed to do, I get that. But it’s getting to the point that I feel like I’m paying more for less and that less is breaking more often or not lasting nearly long enough to make it worth the “more” I’m paying for it.

So, I’m expecting PEPCO to ask for more money in a little while in order to cover their expected infrastructure upgrades to make their system more reliable. And, somehow, I figure the Maryland PUC will acquiesce and allow PEPCO to charge more. And in the end that money will go to higher salaries and bigger bonuses for executives and senior managers at PEPCO with no real change in the reliability of their infrastructure. And when the next storm rolls through here, I won’t be surprised that the power goes out again for days on end…hopefully then I’ll be sitting in a house that is powered by my own generator.

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President Obama is planning on delivering a speech to public school students. As the Department of Education website notes

During this special address, the president will speak directly to the nation’s children and youth about persisting and succeeding in school. The president will challenge students to work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning.

A very commendable message indeed…except that some on the right have labeled it as an attempt to promote socialist ideals. In their report, Some Parents Oppose Obama School Speech, the New York Times quotes a parent in Pearland, TX

“The thing that concerned me most about it was it seemed like a direct channel from the president of the United States into the classroom, to my child,” said Brett Curtiss, an engineer from Pearland, Tex., who said he would keep his three children home.

“I don’t want our schools turned over to some socialist movement.”

(McKinley, James, Some Parents Oppose Obama School Speech, The New York Times, September 3, 2009)

Conservative talk shows and Conservative politicians like Oklahoma State Senator Steve Russell are all ablaze claiming that Obama is trying to create a cult of personality around himself in a similar manner to Kim Jung-il of North Korea and Saddam Hussein of Iraq. The Republican party chair of Florida even claimed that the speech is politically motivated and he “was appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama’s socialist ideology” (McKinley, James, Some Parents Oppose Obama School Speech, The New York Times, September 3, 2009).

What has happened to the Republican part of Ronald Reagan? Where has political discourse gone in the past 25 years? The fault is not just the Republicans — the Democrats are also very much to blame for the erosion of thoughtful, meaningful political discourse in today’s society. But the level to which these two sides will stoop appalls me. When I was a child we all listened to a speech given by the President of the United States. The man elected President was President of ALL Americans — not just liberals or conservatives — not just Republicans or Democrats — ALL Americans.

It is one thing to speak up in dissent of governmental policy or action (or inaction) – some consider that to be a form of patriotism (although the actual phrase is inaccurately attributed to Thomas Jefferson) and it is definitely free speech. But the politicization of even the simplest speech by the leader of our country and inaccurately portraying it as an attempt to promote a “socialist” or “liberal” agenda is shameful. Left wing pundits did it during the Bush administration and now the right wing pundits are doing their part during the Obama administration.

What has happened to civil discourse in this country? We need to find it again…or we, as a country, are lost and may well be doomed to repeat the Civil War some day.

I rarely, if ever, watch Bill O’Reilly of the O’Reilly factor. I don’t really care for the man and the way he goes after anyone who comes on his show like some pitbull that smells fresh meat. A friend recently sent me the following YouTube link:

O’Reilly is a boor. Yes, Barney Frank is partly responsible, I agree, but to say “People bought stock and lost money” based on whatever Frank said is nonsense. If I bought stock every time someone said to me…”It looks good going forward” I’d be out of a house. People do stupid things and the first rule of investing is never invest in something without checking it out first. You can’t blame Barney Frank for the stupid things that people do.

Rep. Frank said that he didn’t think that Fannie and Freddie were good investments looking back but that they he thought they would be solid going forward because they were going to do “things to improve them” (I listened to the clip again). Anyway, he shouldn’t have said that but for O’Reilly to sit there and blame him for people losing their investments because they put money into Fannie and Freddie after his statement is a stretch (I think that Rep. Frank should have limited his comments in the clip that O’Reilly beats him over the head with to simple things and should not have made projections forward). This goes against the conservative philosophy of individual responsibility. Basically O’Reilly is making the argument that it’s Frank’s fault in duping people into investing in Fannie and Freddie.

I agree with O’Reilly on the idea that Rep. Frank should have come forward and said, “you know, I shouldn’t have said that and I shouldn’t have suggested that Fannie’s and Freddie’s prospects were solid looking forward” rather than try and shift the blame on the Republicans for loosening the regulations on Frannie and Freddie (which they played a part in — just as the Democrats did).

Again, O’Reilly is a real boor — and in my opinion he’s just some shmuck who thinks it’s his place to take someone “out to the shed” and punish them when, in fact, it’s not. O’Reilly does this because he gets off on it and that’s pretty pathetic.

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