Atlantis Alumni

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Irene Destruction In Davis Park

The large Davis Park marina was hit hard with many walkway surfaces washed away by the storm tide on the bay. The town is making an all out effort to get the marina back operating by the weekend, according to the Leja Beach web site (click on the title of this entry to see more Davis Park photos.)

Hurricane Protection: Dunes

Top: In Front of the Co-Ops in the Fire Island Pines

Bottom: Surf Walk, Cherry Grove

By us, the ocean washed over the dune by about 30 to 40 feet, piling up sand on top of the beach grass. The dune will recover, and when you have a couple hundred feet of dune in front of you, that's a good feeling. In the Pines, all the nascent dune that they had was washed over with waves lapping at the beachfront properties. Water also entered the Pines through the vehicle cut at Coast Guard Walk. Yesterday Dan couldn't even walk across the center of the Pines due to flooding from that cut. Other areas on Fire Island where the dune has been cut to allow for vehicle access also flooded. These cuts ought to be closed.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Great To Be Back At The Beach

PHOTO: Hardy Hibuscus and Black Eyed Susans in our Cherry Grove Garden

We made it back to Cherry Grove this morning on the 11:30 AM boat. It was packed. There were so many people waiting in line that they couldn't all fit on one of the big boats. The house is in fine shape with no damage that I could spot so far. We have to discard a lot of food stuffs from the refrigerator since the power was off for two days. The freezer kept things cold though, and we didn't lose frozen items. It's great to be back. No phone service, though. Internet was down because the tower on top of the Ice Palace evidently blew over. They fixed it this afternoon.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Extreme Flooding In Philadelphia

This is the Schuylkill Banks walking/jogging/biking path that I use every day when I'm in town. The river crested over 13 FT above flood level yesterday evening.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Fire Island Wash-Overs

Newsday is reporting several places where the ocean has washed over into the bay including Kismet, Point 'O Woods. Click on the blog post title to go to the article.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Stay Safe, Little House

"Liberty Bell," our house on Fire Island.

Cats: What, Me Worry?

Our friends Pete and Carole live on Long Island. They expect problems with Irene but their two cats don't seem to be too upset about the approaching storm!

Meanwhile Dan, Bradley, Loki and I are safely ensconced in our Philadelphia town house, and we should be all right here with no flooding where we are on high ground. If the power goes out or if we lose fresh water we'll have to deal with that.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Evacuation Mode

PHOTO: Looking out the front window at our Cherry Grove home.

When we learned Thursday evening that officials would likely order a mandatory evacuation not only of Fire Island, but also the southern shore of Long Island, we decided to close the house and drive back to Philadelphia. All we can do now it to hope that Irene doesn't do too much damage to Fire Island and Long Island.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Storm Planning Underway

Photo: Fire Island Sunset

We had our first serious storm planning discussion this morning at breakfast. We have to decide about our plans for the weekend. Any evacuation would mean that we would have to drive 150 miles back to Philadelphia. If we stay we need to have supplies and be prepared for problems like a power outage. It's too soon to know what we'll need to do but one thing is for sure: we have to closely monitor this storm over the next couple of days.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"Our Lips Are Sealed," a new documentary film, was shown on Tuesday evening, August 23, 2011 at the Cherry Grove Community House on Fire Island. The film received a strong ovation from the audience, which was our largest of the season for our regular "Tuesday Night At The Movies" summer film series. On a personal note, having watched Matty & Bobby's kiss streaming live for hours as it took place last year, watching the film is an emotional experience. "Our Lips Are Sealed" captures the unique spirit of love and support for Matty and Bobby that poured in from all over the world. It highlights Matty and Bobby's dedication and courage, emphasizing their concern for GLBT equality and the plight of GLBT youth, who are all to often the victims of bullying or abuse because of who they are. Matty and Bobby are an inspiration. With young gay heroes like Matty and Bobby who are willing to put themselves on the line for change, we cannot help but achieve full GLBT equality very soon.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

"Our Lips Are Sealed" Posters In The Pines

Dan, Bradley and I spent a couple of hours Friday afternoon putting posters up in The Pines for our special film on Tuesday. We're hoping that some of the vacationing Ascension boys will come to the screening on Tuesday evening at 6:30 Pm at the Cherry Grove Community House.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

"Our Lips Are Sealed" Film Next Tuesday!

I'm really looking forward to next week's film when our Cherry Grove "Tuesday Night At The Movies' series will present a brand new documentary film. "Our Lips Are Sealed" is the story of two college of New Jersey students who decided to break the world's record for the longest kiss...and make it a gay one. The director, producer and the two stars are expected to be with us at the Cherry Community House on Tuesday August 23 at 6:30 Pm.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Special Film Tuesday Aug. 23

Last September 18 & 19, 2010, two College Of New Jersey students, Matty Daley and Bobby Canciello, decided to try to set a new world record for the longest continuous kiss...with a would be a gay kiss. They felt that it was high time that the Guinness Book Of World Records had something gay in it. Over that September weekend the entire event went viral on the internet, with people from all over the world watching the live stream. Matty and Bobby successfully broke the record at about 8 PM Sunday evening.

But it was not the world record that mattered most, rather it was the outpouring of love and support from all over the world that Matty and Bobby received, and the great feeling that anyone who watched them, even for a few moments, came away with. They truly proved that love is love, regardless of gender. They and their friends did more to advance GLBT equality and acceptance than most politicians do in a lifetime!

Director John Galino and producer Kelly Dolak made a documentary film about Matty and Bobby's record breaking kiss entitles "Our Lips Are Sealed." They will be bringing their film to Cherry Grove on Tuesday evening, August 23 where it will be shown at the Cherry Grove Community House at 6:30 PM. The film will be a part of the Tuesday Night At The Movies summer film series presented by the Arts Project Of Cherry Grove. Admission to the film is free with a voluntary donations jar benefiting the APCG>

Thursday, August 11, 2011

James K. Galbraith on Obama's Unpleasant Legacy


Economist James K. Galbraith is currently a professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and at the Department of Government, University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too.

The Bad Deal
The debt agreement should finally make clear to Europeans that Barack Obama is not the progressive President they had hoped for. Instead, writes James K. Galbraith, he is a willful player in the Washington politics game.
by James K. Galbraith

Political news travels slowly, and in my casual observation progressive Europeans have held on to the myth of Barack Obama as a good man much longer than most progressive Americans did. How could a young black American from Chicago and Harvard be otherwise?

Over here reality has been evident for a while, thanks to the President's pattern of giving way to banks, lobbies, Republicans and right-wing extremists. Whether your prime interest is housing, health care, peace, justice, jobs or climate change, if you are an activist in America you have known for a long time that this President is not your friend.

Still, even on these shores disillusion often took a mildly forgiving form. The President was a “disappointment.” He was weak. He had “bad negotiating skills.” He had a tendency to “deal with hostage-takers,” to “surrender.” All of this fed the image of a man with a noble spirit, a good heart, the best intentions, but trapped by limited ability and the relentless and reckless determination of his foes.

Obama is no progressive

The debt deal will make things clear. The President is not a progressive – he is not what Americans still call a “liberal.” He is a willful player in an epic drama of faux-politics, an operative for the money power, whose job is to neutralize the left with fear and distraction and then to pivot rightward and deliver a conservative result.

What Barack Obama got from the debt deal was exactly what his sponsors have wanted: a long-term lock-in of domestic spending cuts, and a path toward severe cuts in the core New Deal and Great Society insurance programs – Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. And, of course, no tax increases at all.

To see the arc of political strategy, recall that from the beginning Obama handed economic policy to retainers recruited from the stables of Robert Rubin. From the beginning, he touted “fiscal responsibility” and played up the (economically non-existent) “problem” of the budget deficit. From the beginning his team sabotaged economic recovery with optimistic forecasts and inadequate programs – in the clear interest of protecting the banking system from reform.

As the presidency moved along, false claims of economic recovery supported a transition toward obsessive focus on debt and deficits, validated by a federal commission and constantly reinforced by a Washington propaganda chorus funded by Peter G. Peterson, for many decades a billionaire campaigner against Social Security and Medicare.

Debt ceiling a pseudo-crisis

But it wasn't enough. Even with the Republican victory in the 2010 mid-terms there wasn't the political will-power simply to pass the cuts and make them stick. For it wasn't sufficient just to pass them: politicians need cover when they do ugly things.

They need an excuse, something that will offer protection from the anger of the victims, or more precisely from other politicians who might exploit that anger. In the well-practiced manner of organized crime, blood needs to be on everyone's hands. That way, no one can defect; no one can turn states' evidence and safely get away with blaming the others.

The debt-ceiling pseudo-crisis created the necessary panic.

The debt ceiling is a unique American law – no other country has one – a little travesty of democratic bad faith. It was first enacted in 1917, to allow congressmen to hoodwink the rubes back home even as they voted for a large issue of Liberty Bonds to finance the Great War.

It has been a vehicle for posturing ever since – but that it would be raised has never been in doubt. (Even this time the markets never showed the slightest worry.) It became a vehicle for blackmail because it was convenient. It was convenient, because Obama failed to insist it be his price for agreeing to extend the Bush tax cuts last December. Whether that omission was accidental or calculated at the time is, for the moment, unknown.

Obama's neglected options

Even as “crisis” loomed, the President had powerful options. The Constitution of the United States flatly forbids default on debt or any other public obligation. The President could have simply asserted his duty and refused to negotiate.

Even more cleverly, he could – under a quirk of existing law – have turned drama to farce by minting a large platinum coin – say for a trillion dollars – and using that to buy back public debt held by the Federal Reserve, so that the debt ceiling would never have been breached. (There would have been an uproar but no other economic effect.)

These options were rejected or not considered at all. From which, one has to conclude that the President really did want a big budget-cutting deal. He just wanted – like any politician – the appearance of being bullied into it.

So now the die is cast. Practically nothing to address any real economic problem can now get done. Actual austerity will come slowly – the cuts are not abrupt and some may yet be blocked – but unless there is a radical change of events or mood it will come. Meanwhile as the economy stalls and despair deepens, the deficits and debt will continue to climb.

Short presidencies

The deficit lobbies are shifting: their next step will be to raise doubts about the plan's credibility and about Congress's will to enforce it. They will then make the self-protective assertion that still stronger steps are needed. European observers of Greek/Irish/ Portuguese/ British/Spanish and Italian politics – not to mention Latvia or Hungary – will find all of this familiar.

For European observers, one key to understanding how such things can happen in America is to remember that our presidencies are short. The professors who joined Obama for his opening act have already gone home. The advisers who remain face dreary futures in think-tanks funded by the likes of Michael Milken, our premier financial ex-felon.

Maybe, if they are especially loyal to their true masters, then like the former budget director Peter Orszag they can go to work for a bank. This surely accounts in part for their present actions.

And the President too is a young man. Unlike say Lyndon B. Johnson or Jimmy Carter, when his term ends he won't be able simply to go home. He'll need a big house in a gated suburb, with high walls and rich friends. And a good income, too, from book deals and lecture fees. He may be thinking about that now.

The good news is: it won't save him. For if and when he ventures out, for the rest of his life, the eyes of all those, whose hopes he once raised will follow him. The old, the poor, the jobless, the homeless: their eyes will follow him wherever he goes.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Country Gone Off The Rails

Photo: Loki relaxing

The rich get richer while their friends in power shield them from paying their fair share of taxes. Wall Street and the banks do whatever they want while regulations are gutted. The Defense Department budget must be protected while Medicare is cut, says Obama. The wars we can't afford and shouldn't be involved in drag on. Where will this all end and what will happen to this once great nation?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Krugman Gets It, Why Doesn't Obama?

Photo: Ocean Bay Park sunset

Paul Krugman in today's New York Times:

...what makes America look unreliable isn’t budget math, it’s politics. And please, let’s not have the usual declarations that both sides are at fault. Our problems are almost entirely one-sided — specifically, they’re caused by the rise of an extremist right that is prepared to create repeated crises rather than give an inch on its demands.

Too bad Obama leads the "both sides are at fault" chorus. NOT TRUE! It's the hard right fanatics that are intent on driving our country off a cliff. What Obama should be doing is using the bully pulpit of the presidency to call out the Tea Party and expose them for what they are: extremists.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Pines Biennial Success

Dan sold five of his paintings at the Pines Biennial yesterday, so he is quite pleased. It was a very nice art exhibit.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Dan's Paintings In The Pines Biennial Today!

Top: Nude Facing the Surf

Bottom: East End of the Pines

The Pines Biennial Art Show is today. It;s at Whyte Hall and is open to the public between 1 and 4 PM.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Dan's Paintings At Pines Biennial Exhibit

Top: Tarpon Walk

Bottom: Meatrack Triptych
We're getting ready to take quite a few of Dan's most recent paintings to the Pines for the big biennial art show Saturday. The show at Whyte Hall is open to the public between 1 and 4 PM.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

We Need a Whole NEW DEAL For America!

Photo: Suffolk County Police Emerald Society Pipes & Drum Band at the annual Cherry Bowl in Cherry Grove, August 3, 2011

Last night we were having drinks with friends and I got into a spirited political discussion with them over Obama. I expressed my anger and frustration with Obama's failure to defend traditional Democratic Party principles and programs such as Social Security and Medicare. I stated that we need a real progressive primary challenge to Obama to keep Obama and the Democrats from wandering off of the reservation and becoming faux Republicans. One of my friends said to me "You are as bad as the Tea Party!"

Well, that's exactly what we need...a movement on the left to counter the Tea Party fanatics. Right now there is no counter balance, no organized progressive movement to apply pressure on Obama and Co. to defend programs for the middle class and the poor.

Some people think we're entering a new "Gilded Age" where the "Robber Barons," rich bankers and industrialists acquired fantastic wealth while the rest of the population, especially the poor, suffered. They are right!

As was the case back during the Gilded Age, what we need now is a new progressive movement...and a few champions like "Trust Buster" Theodore Roosevelt, and his relative "New Deal" President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In fact we need a whole "New Deal Party" on the left to counteract the Tea Party!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Obama's Triangulation Could Cost Him in 2012

Photo: A colorful display in the Pines

Bill Clinton wrote the book on triangulation, the politics of positioning yourself sort of in the center but comfortably removed from either side in political debates. This electoral strategy is based upon the belief that real Democrats and Progressives have no where else to go, and that positioning yourself more or less in the center but above the fray appeals to independents.

This strategy worked for Clinton, but will it work for Obama in 2012? Maybe not. The problem is that Obama got elected on promises of real change that he made thereby energizing the Democratic Party base, particularly young voters. These young people were willing to put their bodies out there on the street canvassing to help turn out the vote. But Obama has severely disappointed these core supporters with his version of triangulation: giving away the store repeatedly in negotiations to Republicans and failing to take a strong stand for traditional Democratic Party values.

If I were Obama I'd be worried about his demoralized base. How does he plan to get elected this time? He certainly can't promise "change you can believe in" when what we got from him during his first term was capitulation to politics as usual Washington DC style.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Krugman: Obama Surrenders

Photo: Pines Party from the kayak

The "capitulator in chief," as some have called Obama, has done it again. Read Paul Krugman in the New York Times, or any of the many progressive blogs. Obama gives the Republicans all cuts and gets no revenue (tax hikes on the wealthy and corporations) in return, Hey, way to go Barry! I want you on my negotiating team (not!)