Thursday, February 2, 2012

Stevie Joe's GOP Problem

As you know, the GOP primary battles are well under way, and I've been itching to write about them. The gang down at the Junebug Café has been asking me about it as well. However, it's a trap.

See, most of the good folks around the Holler are fairly conservative, some to the point of lunacy (I'm looking at you, Dickie Jensen). On the other hand, I'm well-known as a damned member of the liberal elite. So, I've been a little skeptical of the encouragement offered by the denizens of the Republican persuasion. I figure there are three possibilities here:

1) The gang expects me to write positively about their favorite candidates thus making them feel all warm inside. While intellectual fortitude is not one of the local traits promoted by the Chamber of Commerce, I don't think that anyone here is that dumb.

2) They expect me to highlight the negative qualities of the Republican candidates that they don't favor thus making their fellow look better in comparison. Of course, this assumes that I don't impugn the characters of the entire field (which is likely).

Which leaves us with #3:

3) They expect me to attack the whole field and then will use this to torment me for months to come. Of course, this is exactly what will happen. They know me, and I know them. It's always helpful in the course of political debate to have your opponent's arguments staked out beforehand. If I write any such post, it will just allow them to research and gear up for future political battle at the Café.

I'll probably write it anyway.

"Arguments are to be avoided: they are always vulgar and often convincing." - O. Wilde

Stevie Joe Parker

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Stevie Joe and Loud Music

Dear mp3/iPod/headphone/ear bud/portable music thingy manufacturers,

It's not loud enough. I've read all the baloney about protecting the hearing of the consumer, blah, blah, blah. IT'S NOT LOUD ENOUGH. I will sign a liability waiver stating that I actually wish to have permanent hearing loss if you make it louder. I want a setting called "liquify." I don't really need to hear anything else anyway. What? Am I going sit and listen to Junior and Dickie Jensen all day? MAKE IT LOUDER.

Stevie Joe Parker

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Stevie Joe and the Great Shoe Polish Caper

So, this morning down at the Junebug Cafe, the gathered citizenry decided that yesterday's post on Bubba Clinton's new book was the most boring ever. Now, saving the world is not always going to be fun and games, guys. Sometimes, the grownups have serious business to do.

I believe the real reason for the dissent is the desire for this here blog to carry more local gossip. That's fun, but it doesn't always advance democracy. Over New Year's Eve there was an interesting story here in town that folks want to see me delve into. However, I am not going to be identifying any participants, assuming for the moment that I know who they are, out of concern for their safety and well-being.

Come the morning of January 1, the groggy citizens of this burg found evidence of certain drunken excesses the night before. Someone had apparently gone through town with some white shoe polish and proceeded to vandalize store, car, and home windows with various graffiti. Much of it, as you might imagine, was vulgar. Almost all of it was misspelled. The word "doodyhead" was written across the windshield of Jimmy's Camaro. Now, the offender might have been under the belief that his restraint from the use of profanity would prevent Jimmy from seeking retribution. Well, Jimmy loves that Camaro, and said offender would be wrong.

The most disturbing aspect of this particular crime spree was the frequent and prominent examples of what appears to be nekkid, white butt prints. It would appear that someone coated their own rear end with the shoe polish and proceeded to press ham around town. Dickie Jensen was not available for comment.

Reporting from Junebug Holler, I'm
Stevie Joe Parker

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Stevie Joe and Bill Clinton Ponder the Future

Long before Barack Obama used "hope" as a campaign slogan, there was "The Man From Hope," Bill Clinton. Some argued that coming from a poor Southern background, Bubba was the first "black" president. Whatever the case, he's pretty darned smart. I don't always agree, but like Christopher Hitchens, I'd hate to face him in a public debate.

I just finished Clinton's latest book, Back to Work. He spends quite a few pages in the book defending his record as president and comparing it presidents both before and after him. Honestly, he comes off pretty good. Which, frankly, is a bit surprising. You'd be hard-pressed to find a guy who did more to torpedo his own administration.

Clinton's first act in office was an attempt to remove the ban on gays serving in the military. An immediate and fierce backlash wound up with the compromise that nobody liked: Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Bubba followed that up with his attempt to create a single payer health care system. Geez, talk about biting off more than you can chew! He and Hillary spent a lot of time and capital on that project and walked away with nothing. It seemed that the Clintons took some time to adjust to how to govern at the federal level. Starting out with two controversial topics may not have been the best way to bring critics over to their side.

Of course, the most damaging thing ol' Slick Willy did was his failure to keep his libido in check. That created such a distraction that many of his young, eager staff quit in disgust. Much of his second term was spent dealing with Ken Starr and the pending impeachment.

So, when you look back at the record he left, it really is impressive that he was able to govern at all. Of course, he concedes that he was the beneficiary of some fortunate timing, but Bubba is going to let all the credit slip away that easily. As he likes to do, Clinton overwhelms you in this book with statistics and examples proving his point. It is a mountain of evidence that makes it difficult to disagree.

However, the point of the book is not to defend his reputation but to argue for a way to the country to move forward. In contrast with his own policies, he describes the anti-government policies of the conservative Right. Again, he piles on the statistics to demonstrate that government isn't always a bad thing. He also compares our progress as a nation against our industrialized competition, and we don't come off looking so hot.

Despite being a loyal Democrat, he argues for bipartisanship and the desire to find ideas that work regardless of their origin. So, he borrows some policies from cities, states, Republicans (even Newt Gingrich), Democrats, and countries around the world. He puts these together into a vision of how the US can catch up and regain our leadership position.

It's a compelling argument. Let's face it, whether you like the dude or not, Bubba's pretty smart. He is willing to acknowledge the smart folks on the other side of the aisle and gets a little concerned about those folks who stick so strongly to their own ideology that they are unwilling to listen to anyone else.

Anywho, Bill Clinton is not my own personal favorite politician, but this book is a worthwhile read for anyone interested in where the US is today and how we can be better. It provides some encouragement to us folks who feel like the system is forever broken. Bubba holds out some hope that we can all work together again.

I give it 4-and-a-half stars,
Stevie Joe Parker

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Stevie Joe Lands a Blow Against Religious Strife

Creating world peace is a pretty tall order. I'm taking it a piece at a time. I figure that forming some understanding between those with different religious views is a good place to start.

So, I've been pondering a bunch of stuff that the late genius and blowhard Christopher Hitchens had written and said over the years. In particular, I was attracted to his views of religion as he expressed them in a series of public debates with a number of folks defending the practice. Hitchens was an atheist and quite proud of the fact. I don't know if he was right, but he certainly made a better case than most of his opponents.

In any case, in one debate with author David Berlinski, Hitch spoke of his respect for Socrates. He said that today we have the words attributed to Socrates and that we have some evidence that Socrates did, in fact, exist. If, however, we were to somehow discover that Socrates never did exist and was, rather, a fictional character, it would have little impact upon the importance of his words. On the other hand, Hitch continued, if it was found that Jesus did not actually exist, it would ruin Berlinski's life. Berlinski ceded this point.

So, it appears that we have a divide, but if we dig a little deeper, the divide might not be as wide as it appears. The presumption in this argument is that the value of Jesus' words is that they come from the Son of God and that the words have little value without this supernatural origin. I think that is a mistake. If Jesus speaks the truth, it is still the truth if it is spoken by Dickie Jensen (however improbable that may be).

Evidence of this presumption can be seen in the argument that our system of laws and beliefs has its origin in the Ten Commandments (as argued by some folks of faith). If you follow the logic, we would never have figured out that murder and stealing are bad ideas if God didn't tell us so. How folks raised outside the Judeo-Christian tradition reached this conclusion is an apparent mystery.

Further analysis of the Ten Commandments provides some confirmation that the importance of these values does not come from above. After all, the creation of graven images and coveting of stuff is the basis of the US economy. So, why are these commandments held in the same regard as those against murder and theft? Ol' Stevie Joe would argue that the importance society places in these things comes not because they are the word of God but because they have a universal value, or a universal truth, separate from that of religious belief. An atheist can certainly believe that killing is wrong without having to believe in a Judeo-Christian God.

So, this opens the door for the concept of an atheist or, at least, an agnostic view of Jesus. One should be able to discern the value in what Jesus taught separately from a belief in a supernatural being. Why cannot this be the common ground between Hitchens and Berlinski? Can we agree on the value of the teachings of Jesus without having to agree on the whole question of God?

Something to ponder anyway.

Can I get a witness?
Stevie Joe Parker

Friday, December 9, 2011

Job Fair at the Junebug Cafe

So, after yesterday's post, the good citizens of this fine burg decided to offer some employment advice to me over breakfast down at Prudy's. While it was certainly entertaining, I'm not sure that I walked away with any better plan than I had going in. Here are some of the suggestions: beer wholesaler (nice try, Junior), cowboy, politician (not a chance), porn actor (it disturbs me that this idea came from Dickie Jensen), astronaut (Junior, again), truck driver (given the amount of crap WalMart sells, probably a good idea), and gas station attendant (free smokes, Junior?). See what I have to deal with here?

Carpin' About the Diem,
Stevie Joe Parker

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Once More Unto the Breech . . .

"Once more unto the breech, dear friends, once more" - Henry V

Just over a year ago I last posted here. At that time I was attempting a Stevie Joe "comeback" after being knocked silly by Life. I had confidence that the bad times had reached bottom and it was time for me to move again forward. Yet, Life often laughs at such hubris. What I thought was bottom was nothing but a brief pause on the descent to madness and despair.

Mrs. Stevie Joe was gone, and I had come to terms with that. However, there was more. I had been a corporate cowboy and then a small business owner. I was a "big shot" in the Holler, but the allure of owning my own business had faded and the tanking economy took a toll on the pocketbook.

So, what to do? My old corporate employer doesn't even exist anymore, and the big business world doesn't need any wayward sons returning home when there are so many new, young recruits hungry for work. Besides, nobody does what I used to do within a hundred miles of Junebug Holler and hell if I'm moving back to the city.

I'm pretty damn good at pontificating. In fact, I'm probably the best in the Holler, but that isn't saying much. Nobody wants to pay to hear your pontificating unless you're already famous for something.

So, I go from being the hotshot, the talk-of-the-town (such as it is) to pretty much nobody. That's a big change for Stevie Joe. On top of that, the prospects for the future aren't looking too bright.

Sure, I could go back to school and retrain for a new field. I already have a master's degree, but that and a five-spot gets you a mocha cappuccino at Starbucks. I need new skills for the 21st century, and they don't come cheap. The local community college charges more for a single class that I paid for a complete semester 25 years ago. I'm not excited about the prospect of spending $100K or more to get back to the earning power I had in 1990.

So, here I am - sitting drinking a beer with Junior and Dickie in Junebug Holler and contemplating my place in this big old world. I'm not going to pretend that I've got it figured out, and I won't make any claims regarding bouncing back lest Life have another surprise for me. I'm just going out swinging and seeing where the punches fall.

Anyway, folks have pointed out that I write a lot and maybe I should look at that. Writing a lot and getting paid for it are two different things, but what the hell. I'll write and write and write and see what happens. So, for better or worse, expect to hear more from ol' Stevie Joe going forward.

The Game is Afoot!
Stevie Joe Parker