Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Stevie Joe Has To Clarify Something

Some readers have apparently gotten confused. So, here's the deal: Junior is a person. He's a real, live human being. Junior Junior is a dog as in "woof woof." In fact, he's Junior's dog.

Also, Junior, the person, and NOT Junior Junior, the dog, wrote the poetry. Knowing both of them, I find that hard to believe, but it's true. Here's some more:
Romance chances
Furtive glances
Cupid's glee

I think a wink
It's not a blink
None for me
Stevie Joe Parker

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Stevie Joe Discovers Junior the Poet

Well, we finally arrived home, and Junior got to come along for the ride. This is a bigger deal than it sounds. See, normally, Junior can only go for so long before he passes out. However, without alcohol in the equation, he is a non-stop blab machine. Turns out that lack of booze makes him more miserable than ever, and, boy, did he want to talk about it!

After telling him to shut the hell up for the 400th time, Mrs. Stevie Joe finally threatened physical violence. If anyone can put the fear of God in you, it's an angry Mrs. Stevie Joe. So, Junior took to writing his thoughts on paper. I didn't even know he could read! Here is a selection:
My face of rage
Flying fists come
No control

I feel the shame
Can't face the truth
Hurt myself
Whaddya know. A regular poet. Maybe, he's like Charles Bukowski, except stupid.

Hiding all the sharp objects,
Stevie Joe Parker

Saturday, July 28, 2007

More with Stevie Joe on Vacation

Junior Junior has been the ideal houseguest. He is funny and charming. Plus, he cleans up after himself. He's all the things that Junior isn't. This is why Junior Junior is allowed in the cabin while Junior stays on the porch.

By the way, if you haven't read about Junior Junior before, let me fill you in. He's Junior's dog.

Junior Junior has made friends with a local blue heron that we named Elmer. Elmer gently glides over Junior Junior's head all around the lakefront. Junior Junior chases after him, but Elmer is a little too crafty to get caught. Anyway, they've been doing this for four days now. So, I guess they enjoy it.

Junior, on the other hand, had gone missing. Apparently, some fool told Junior that there was a bar on Lake Barkley that served alcohol. Now, we are on Kentucky Lake, but you can get to Lake Barkley via a one mile canal. The lack of alcohol in Marshall County drove poor Junior to stealing my rented fishing boat, and he went in search of the bar. While he was able to make it all the way to Lake Barkley, he did not find the bar as he ran out of gas in the middle of the lake.

The boat eventually drifted over to the west side of the lake which is all park land. That means no bars, no houses, no telephones, no nothing. Junior, being as dumb as he is, had no idea what to do. He walked on and on for a couple of days before a park ranger arrested him for showing up at a Boy Scout campground nekkid. He has no explanation for his nekkidness, and neither do I.

As I write this, Junior is once again on the porch, and Junior Junior is enjoying the air conditioning of the cabin. Mrs. Stevie Joe and I are going home tomorrow, and we are taking Junior Junior with us. Whether we take Junior is still open for debate.

I don't think there is a merit badge for that,
Stevie Joe Parker

Monday, July 23, 2007

Stevie Joe Finds a House Guest

This morning, I was sitting on the porch of the cabin at Kentucky Lake enjoying a cup of coffee when a horrible sight appeared before me. It was Junior's dog, Junior Junior, and he was staring me straight in the eye. He let out a single bark and then began trotting around the corner. I followed only to find Junior himself curled up asleep under a tree behind the cabin.

After I woke his sorry ass up, he explained that Jimmy had offered to drop him off at the lake. Of course, Jimmy figured it would be well worth the effort to get rid of Junior for the week. Now, Junior had no money, no food, and no place to stay. He was not going to get in the cabin, but I said he could sleep on the porch. This angered Mrs. Stevie Joe to no end, but I didn't see how it could be my fault. It's not like I forgot to lock his cage or something.

At the moment, I'm trying to figure out how to tell him that this is a dry county. Wish me luck.

The weather is great, wish you were here,
Stevie Joe Parker

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Stevie Joe Goes on Vacation

I'm sitting here on the porch of a cabin on Kentucky Lake, and it's damn beautiful. Mrs. Stevie Joe and I are on our first vacation in many years. Frankly, I needed the time away from the folks in Junebug Holler. I love 'em and all, but they do wear on you at times.

By the way, I'm writing this on my nifty new iPhone, but don't tell Mrs. Stevie Joe. She thinks it's one of those pocket poker games.

All for now,
Stevie Joe Parker

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Stevie Joe Watches the Constitution Slowly Whither Away

First, Alberto "Crazy Al" Gonzales said that the US Constitution does not grant US citizens the right to Habeus Corpus. Now, President Numbnuts is attacking the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.

On July 17, El Presidente issued Executive Order: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq. What this means is that if you are a person inside the US, citizen or not, and you either commit and act of violence or pose a significant risk of committing an act of violence that undermines US efforts to stabilize Iraq, then the government can seize all your property and assets. Oh, by the way, they can do this without any prior notice, and you will have no legal recourse.

The Fourth Amendment guards against unreasonable search and seizure and requires a warrant with probable cause supported by oath or affirmation for any reasonable seizure.

The Fifth Amendment says that you cannot be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.

So, what does this all mean? Any provision that strips away such Constitutional safeguards is subject to abuse. So, theoretically, the President might decide that a person who is planning to attend an anti-war rally where there might be a clash with police falls under this order, and that person's property and assets can be taken without notice and without any legal recourse. In fact, the government could use a loose interpretation of this order to block all anti-war activities. Since the order specifies that there is no legal recourse, it might be difficult to challenge such an interpretation.

In either case, the order clearly violates both Amendments, and it is a shock that any President would issue such a thing.

Also, check out Section 4. If you look up the US Code referenced in the order, you'll find that Section 4 of the Executive Order prohibits any donation of "articles, such as food, clothing, and medicine, intended to be used to relieve human suffering" to the person whose property was seized. That means after President Numbnuts takes away everything owned by your friend planning to attend the anti-war rally, it will be illegal for you to give him or her any food, clothing, or medicine. Nice.

It was fun while it lasted,
Stevie Joe Parker

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Stevie Joe Watches the Local Follies

Last night was the meeting of the Junebug Holler Mensa Club, also known as the village council. During the meeting, it was decided to buy a storage building to house the village's various plows and tractors. Sounds fairly straightforward, doesn't it? Not in Junebug Holler.

About 3 years ago, Mayor Barney built that storage building himself for about 120 grand. He then leased it to the village on a monthly basis. Even in Junebug Holler this can raise some eyebrows. So, a year or so ago, he sold it to a mysterious, out-of-town corporation for about $150K, and they continued to lease it to the village. Now, this corporation is selling it for $240K. That's fairly fine appreciation for one year's ownership.

Fortunately for the local residents, our state representative Pooter Hoskins (don't ask how he got that name) was able to secure a state grant to cover most of the cost of the building. So far, so good, except for the price.

At the meeting, councilman Jimmy, possibly the only one with half a brain, made a motion that the village get the building appraised before committing to buy it at the $240K price. Mayor Barney carefully explained that the building would never appraise that high so getting an appraisal would be a waste of time. He actually said this - out loud - at a public meeting.

Obviously, something here smells awfully funny. Yet, the motion died for lack of a second, and the gathered citizenry went home to watch the TV. Today, there was no mention of the comment in the paper, and my head is just about ready to explode.

Lord help me!
Stevie Joe Parker

Friday, July 13, 2007

Stevie Joe's Dog Days of Summer

The dog days of summer haven't hit Junebug Holler yet, but they soon will. In preparation, I've moved the lawn chairs from the driveway to the front porch to get 'em out of the sun. The dog days are heading to Iraq, too. In preparation there, the Iraqi parliament has decided to take the month off. According to White House spokesweasel Tony Snow explained, "You know, it's 130 degrees in Baghdad in August." Plus, Baghdad only has six hours of electricity a day. So, you know - limited air conditioning. It's probably just better for them to wait out August on the Riviera.

Then again, as you know, I'm a big supporter of our soldiers. According to Mr. Snow, they are not going to take the month of August off. I imagine that it's 130 degress for them, too. Probably more considering the body armor. Given the fact the part of the US military mission is to provide the Iraqi people enough time to come up with a political solution, the parlimentary holiday seems a wee bit inappropriate, but maybe that's just me.

In other news, Junior is also taking off the month of August. Just like every other month.

Stevie Joe Parker

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Stevie Joe's Movin' Kinda Slow at the Holler, Junebug Holler

Things have been pretty slow in Junebug Holler lately. The summer heat has kept some indoors and others sticking to the pavement. I've been spending my time reading some poetry (which is bound to make me an outcast at the Junebug Cafe and Internet Lounge as soon as someone catches a whiff of it).

And you know what? There's some pretty darned good poetry out there! Sandburg, Plath, Ginsberg, etc. Maybe I'll post some here for folks to read and ponder. And maybe, just maybe, I'll write some of my own. I promise that it won't start, "There once was a man from Nantucket."

Stevie Joe Parker

Monday, July 9, 2007

Stevie Joe Witnesses End of the Twins Caper

This morning down at the Junebug Cafe and Internet Lounge, Junior and Dickie Jensen arrived as themselves and not their identical twin alter-egos. They finally confessed that, yes, they had indeed made up the whole thing.

Apparently, Dickie had been reading the internet again (which is always a dangerous proposition). He found a website that explained how to continue receiving welfare benefits after yours had run out. Unfortunately, our two numbskulls failed to comprehend the finer points of identity theft.

Oh, by the way, Prudy was not in on this caper. Trudy actually is her identical twin sister. Both of them were at the cafe this morning, and it did not appear to be an optical illusion.

What a long, strange trip it's been,
Stevie Joe Parker

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Stevie Joe Supports Our Soldiers

I got into a little argument today with Jimmy about the war in Iraq. Since Dickie is still pretending to be his own twin brother, Jimmy is our designated right-winger down at the Junebug Cafe and Internet Lounge. Now, I am not in favor of US military operations in Iraq, and this has caused Jimmy to accuse me of both being unpatriotic and not supporting our troops.

So, here is a list of what I consider to be the right way to support our troops (and none of these include putting a decal on your car):

#1 - Trying to keep our soldiers from getting shot or blowed up.

#2 - To help with #1, getting them all body armor.

#3 - To help even more with #1, getting armor on the Humvees.

#4 - Again with the #1, bringing in more Cougars, Cheetahs, and Buffaloes, all armored vehicles that are much safer than the Humvee (whether armored or not).

#5 - Provide the best possible medical care for our armed forces.

#6 - Provide the best possible mental health care for our armed forces.

#7 - Provide ample compensation, benefits, and pension for our armed forces.

Now, those folks in Washington who talk big about "supporting the troops" all have the power to make good on every item on this list. Yet, they don't.

I'm a little sick of being told that I don't support the troops when what they really need is not being provided by our own government. Support the troops with your deeds, not words.

Get it done!
Stevie Joe Parker

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

More Free Market Ramblings from Stevie Joe

As I pointed out in my last post, corporations have an obligation to their shareholders to maximize profit. The number one value is money. So, what happens when you apply that value system in a free market economy?

Many corporations have discovered that a surefire means to increase profitability is to lower production costs. Hence, we have a race to the bottom. If you manufacture in China, wages are low, the government keeps the workers in line, and there are essentially no safety or environmental regulations. So, you can make a big profit.

In this model, how do you establish and protect fair wages, a clean and safe environment, and workers' rights? Remember, the corporation's primary goal is to make money, not to promote these other values.

The free market economists say, naturally, that the market itself will correct this as consumers demand these things. So, in order to maintain sales volume and profitability, corporations will have to clean up their acts. However, this argument makes two big assumptions. First, it assumes that consumers are aware of the issues and have the information necessary to make an informed choice when shopping.

Second, the free market economists argue, à la Adam Smith, that all problems are resolved when people act in their own interest. If so, why would consumers choose products made by socially responsible corporations? Perhaps a clean environment would be a concern, but how will shoppers decide that supporting fair wages, workers' rights, and a safe workplace advance their own interest better than low price?

So, if these other values are important, how do you protect and promote them? One answer is, of course, government regulation. While the free market economists hate this answer, it has worked where it has been applied while their own model has failed. The problem we face now is how to encourage countries like China to follow our path. The free market economists want "free trade," but while our trade with China might be "free," it is not fair. The playing field is lopsided, and, as a result, workers and our environment lose.

Take That, Mr. Smith!
Stevie Joe Parker

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Stevie Joe and Free Market Philosophy

Jonas Salk never sought a patent for his polio vaccine. He said, "Who owns my polio vaccine? The people! Could you patent the sun?"

Adam Smith and his "invisible hand" of the free market created the concept that acting in our own self-interest was the most efficient way to promote the public good. Instead of donating $20,000 to charity to assist struggling families, I can buy a $20,000 car and provide jobs at the factory, health insurance, and other social benefits. Plus, I get to keep the car. Adam Smith made it okay to be selfish.

So, what's wrong with this view of the world? Maybe a few things. First, it promotes a consumerism that is not necessarily environmentally sustainable, and it places a higher value on things than anything else. Unfortunately, we often learn through experience that happiness does not come from our things.

Second, Smith's view suggests that selfishness is not only okay but it is desirable. While this might be good economically in the short-term, it doesn't do much to help the people of the world co-exist peacefully.

Third, sometimes Adam Smith is just plain wrong. If Jonas Salk acted in his own interest, he would have patented his vaccine instead of giving it away. He could have raised the price and become a very rich man. However, the result would have been the suffering of thousands who could not afford his vaccine.

Salk valued something higher than money. He valued human life. Today, pharmaceutical corporations control the development of drugs, and the managers of those corporations have a legal responsibility to their shareholders to maximize profit. If they were to value something higher than money, they could find themselves the target of a shareholder lawsuit. So, HIV medications and other life-saving drugs are patented and sold at high profit margin. Thousands suffer while a few get rich.

Of course, the problem isn't limited to the drug industry. It's a philosophy that pervades our society. It is the belief that it is virtuous to be selfish. Or, a Gordon Gekko once put it, "Greed is good."

I'm not buying it,
Stevie Joe Parker