Thursday, December 30, 2010

In case you're wondering....

I'm still here, but without anything to say. Anything worth blogging about, that is. Maybe that will change and if so, I'll let you know.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

On language

Here's an interesting piece on the difference between English words that are French/Latin based and those that are German based. I've always wondered why my lawyer-talk never got me laid.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Talk about prescience

He was twenty-four years early, but Orwell was spot on.

Do you want to see genius at work?

Check out the pdf. file of Franklin Roosevelt's interlineations on the first draft of his address to Congress on December 8 seeking its declaration of war against Japan. Not just his inclusion of "infamy" in place of "history" in the first sentence--a history-changing alteration--but the revisions of tenor and insertions of urgency throughout.

Amazing skills, both political and oratorical, sixty-nine years ago today.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Letter to the editor

Here's the text of a letter to the editor of the SB NewsPress that I sent today. I'll update this post with the publication date if it's published.

Update: The letter was published on December 9, 2010.

The first amendment to the United States Constitution grants the “right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” In view of this fundamental right, one wonders why Americans remain silent while their leaders wreck their nation. Our workforce is demolished, ruined by decades of corporate-friendly legislation that has destroyed unions and fostered off-shore profiteering. Our economy is mired in debt, drained by militaristic adventurism and state-sanctioned financial greed. Our fiscal future has been sold to foreign creditors while our assets—homes, savings, pensions—decline in value as money-lenders’ bonuses spiral upward, fed by government largess.

“The opiate of the masses” may, in Karl Marx’s time, have been religion, but in today’s America the opiate is a toxic mix of complacency and insecurity. We are lulled into dormancy by a barrage of flaccid entertainment, and we shrink from protest because we fear loss of our jobs and homes. We are ensnared in a web of avoidance and constant striving, too busy keeping our families fed and housed to resist the steady dismantling of a shared and sound America. We don’t have the energy or inclination to resist because the corporations that feed our leaders and their enablers, the “mainstream media,” keep us distracted and cowed.

So why are there no “bread riots”—not even bake sales—in protest of the continued destruction of the American Dream? Because we’re too busy, too frightened and too conditioned to care.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Action, or futility?

Leftist activists--including Chris Hedges--are going to chain themselves to the fence at the White House on December 16 to protest the ongoing wars and occupations of the US. Effective? Meaningless? An act simply to vent the frustrating hopelessness of protest? A bit of each of the above?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Here are two related hypotheses about Obama's maltreatment of progressives

Related: We're in denial about Obama's true position because we can't face that he's not now and never has been progressive; and/or what he says is subject to the McGurk Effect, so that during his campaign his transformative image caused us to receive from his lips the message we wanted to hear rather than the meaning he spoke.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Economic analysis

Look, I nearly flunked Econ I at Stanford but I nevertheless feel I have good instincts about the subject. However, that's all I claim: instinct. And although I've long thought of myself as a "liberal," I've recently felt misgivings about a central tenet of Paul Krugman's solution to the present stagnated American economy, chief among them is his strong reliance on increased "consumption" as our path to recovery. While I agree that it's an important component of America's economy, it's also true that our reliance on it so strongly is what led us to the present mess.

I'm more in accord with this analysis, which views a sound economy as one which balances consumption with a sound presence on the planet. I mean, what's the matter with sustainability, with merely existence and not, always and forever, growth?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A choice, not an Obama

Here's a letter to the editor of the SB NewsPress that I sent today. I'll update this post when/if it's published.

Update: The letter was published in the NewsPress on Saturday, November 13, 2010.

Obama will be a one-term president. Oh, he’ll survive incessant nagging from the Right for the next two years, but in 2012 he’ll be “one and done,” no question. And as a progressive who worked mightily for his election in 2008, I say, Good riddance. Obama’s the worst thing that’s happened to American politics since…forever: He’s trodden on the hopes and dreams that he exploited to gain the presidency, making cynics of young voters, turning them against politics as a vehicle for positive change—as recently evidenced by their abandonment of polling places in the mid-term elections.

There arises, therefore, this question about the Democrats’ prospects in 2012: Will some (yet unnamed) progressive run against Obama in the primaries, a la Ted Kennedy against Jimmy Carter in 1980? The argument against this development will likely be that a schism among Democrats will hand the presidency to the Republican nominee, as happened in 1980 in Reagan’s favor. But the obvious rejoinder is that Obama won’t be re-elected in any event. He’s lost both his base and the center by his obsequious cow-towing to Wall Street, the insurance industry and the military; and he’s already indicated he’ll drift further Rightward hereafter.

So, what’s it to be progressives? Shall we remain inert and hold our collective nose in 2012 while voting for Obama, a sure loser? Or shall we act decisively to support a candidate who will truly—not just in rhetoric, but in deed—bring to America change we can believe in?

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Too good to be true

Doesn't this news item from the Guardian appear to be from the Onion instead?

Monday, November 01, 2010

The Real News

A worthwhile site, source of this incisive video in which the Democrats and Obama squandered the mandate they carried into 2009.

I'm not sure why, but for some reason

(and I think it's perverse) this bit of news made me LOL. Maybe I was imagining how some folks would react if it happened in the US.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Well, whaddaya know...

The law of the land even applies in Arizona. (Note who--an Arizonan, former US Supreme Court Justice--voted with the majority.)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Out of Afghanistan in my lifetime?

Fuggedaboudit. Check out the construction of military installations throughout that country, presently underway and proposed. Incompatible with our withdrawal from Afghanistan anytime soon? Ubetcha. Obama, aren't you commander in chief of the armed forces?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I take it all back.

This video alone justifies the existence of the personal computer, the Internet, YouTube and all such devices.

P.S. You don't have to be a Gilbert and Sullivan fan to enjoy this.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Saturday, October 16, 2010

An exquisite example of the adage, What you don't know won't hurt you.

Lisinopril, the generic name of a drug of which I am prescribed--and which I for years have taken--a daily dose of 20 mg. to lower my blood pressure, is, I learned during this early, early morning spurt of web-surfing, derived from the venom of the jararaca, a Brazillian pit viper.

I'm curious about your reaction

to this New Yorker article. It's about procrastination, specifically a review of a book--a collection of essays--about procrastination. My reaction: I have no inclination to read the book because, to me, the critique of it was so singularly uninsightful and uninformative that the book could not help but be even more so. The lesson I took away: Even the New Yorker can publish pap.

Do you ever get the impression that

some folks just can't catch a break?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A ditty about responsibility

Why has America fallen so low?
What’s the cause—We need to know!
Surely there’s someone handy to blame,
Someone called Bush, or an African name.

It can’t be our own insatiable greed
Consuming more goodies than ever we need,
It can’t be our wars, can’t be our cars,
Can’t be our refusal to tax what’s “ours.”

It must be those others—the government pols,
Who’ve run us amok, who’ve twisted our goals,
Who’ve made us a nation with no more to spend,
Borrowing madly, as if there’s no end.

And yet, on occasion, it does give one pause
To see, at its root, what—and who—is the cause.
It’s we, the people, who’ve given them rein,
And who now, if ever, must reign once again.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

As usual, Justin Raimondo, Libertarian though he may be, nails it. The teabaggers--if they be true to their principles of diminished federal government--could well be a signal to the Republican Party to question this nation's imperial push, and could well attract those on the Left for whom that issue is critical. A realignment of interests along the lines of military downsizing, with the "progressives" on this issue combining with the Far Right? Not just interesting, but tantalizing.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Letter to editor

Below is a letter I've written to the SB NewsPress editor. I'll update this blog if/when it's published.

Update: It was published on October 12, 2010, and a second time (don't know why) the next day.

I’ve lately been hearing from Obama, Biden and, before that, from Press Secretary Gibbs, that we progressives should “stop whining” about shortcomings in this administration’s achievements and get out and work for the “change you can believe in” by supporting Democratic candidates in the upcoming elections.

My answer to these pleas: I would work now—as hard as I did for Obama’s election—if over the last two years I’d witnessed a strong, principled effort toward fundamental change. Instead, here’s what I’ve seen. (1) A backroom deal with Big Pharma and capitulation by the White House on the “public option” for healthcare, an option Obama repeatedly asserted, while campaigning, was essential to meaningful reform. (2) Abandonment of his pledge to close Gitmo; of his pledge to restore habeas corpus and to reverse the Bush administration’s intrusions on our privacy; of his pledge of transparency in government; of his pledge to “stand firm” against “entrenched monied interests” in Washington. And (3) a heartbreaking reversal of his commitment to seek a path toward peace through making peace, supplanted by expanded wars—hopeless, pointless wars—in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

If Obama had stood up to demand the promised changes from his presidential pulpit, his present calls to work would ring true. But Obama didn’t even try to “change the way Washington does business”; instead, through backroom deal-making and compliant Congressional politicking, he has delivered to us only half-measures or no measures at all. And I, for one, intend to return the favor.


Monday, September 27, 2010

The Generals are taking over the executive branch

Bob Woodward's latest book--Obama's Wars, on the shelves today--tells of the president's wrestling with his generals and military advisers to get some sense of a withdrawal schedule from the mess in Afghanistan. The generals, apparently, don't think much of Obama or his schedules. On top of that, here is, to me, an equal outrage: Petraeus laying out what has got to be a nonstarter for the Afghanis' negotiations with the Taleban, namely the latter's acceptance of the US-authored Afghan constitution and their disarmament. There's no way either of these is acceptable to the Taleban, no way toward a negotiated settlement of that ugly war.

Which is, of course, is precisely what Petraeus and the generals want: endless war.

A message to Chris Hedges...

Gee, Chris, why don't you say what you really mean?

I don't know about you, but

this news report about a US military campaign starting in Kandahar sounds exactly like the reports coming out of VietNam in the final years of our failed warmaking there.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Here is a set of interesting poll numbers, comparing European attitudes to American. Check out the disparity between them on the war in Afghanistan as well as on Obama's favorability. Odd incongruity, eh? Strong disapproval of "Obama's war" in Afghanistan across the pond, but strong approval of the president over there; whereas in the US the reverse is true. Whaddup?

Thursday, September 09, 2010

I'm no computer geek, but

this mashup's too good not to pass on.

A thought about the first amendment

Some liberals are outraged at suggestions that the "ground zero mosque" shouldn't be built at the location that is proposed by its imam. "Freedom of religion" and "tolerance of first amendment exercise" are the cries. To argue that it should be built elsewhere sends to Muslims and others a signal that we are intolerant, say these liberals, whereas to allow it to be build near "ground zero" shows how tolerant we are and demonstrates our willingness to live up to our constitutional ideals regardless of the impact of the protected action on those who find it offensive.

At the same time, however, some of these same liberals are outraged at the exercise of free speech that inheres in that pastor's proposed burning of the Koran. "It will inflame Muslims; it will endanger the troops," are the cries.

So which is it? Is the pastor's action, undeniably protected by the first amendment, nevertheless to be condemned because of the effect it may have on some who witness it, whereas the mosque should not be moved notwithstanding the effect of the act on those who oppose its location? Is the propriety of exercise of first amendment freedoms--freedom of speech, exercise of religion, to assemble and to petition the government for redress--dependent on the reaction of those who oppose the exercise? Not in my America, it's not.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Take to the streets!

What does it take to stir up Americans? These aren't the issues the Teabaggers are talking about. They're real issues, affecting real people, now and well into the future. So...where's the outrage?

Friday, September 03, 2010

Why am I not surprised

that the medical insurance that's provided by employers--a staple of the fake "insurance reform" passed by Congress last spring--is costing employees more and is providing less coverage. It's all a fraud, this Obama-Care package; it plays directly into the hands of those who have no interest in cost-containment. The insurance companies simply increase their premiums to employers, and the employers simply pass those increases on to employees, as well as increasing the percentage of premiums they require employees to pay. This isn't universal health care: It's government funding of insurance companies, pure and simple.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

A new beginning?

I'm looking into the possibility of starting a new political party named, inoffensively, The Progressive Party. I realize it wouldn't be the first party so named, but Teddy Roosevelt's central theme--populist reaction to corporate dominance of American politics and economics--ain't a bad idea, given the current state of affairs in the US.

And the idea of rolling back the multi-national corporate (and political) war on the working classes by means of international trade unions to challenge the power of international corporations ain't bad either.

I even have a slogan--a catchy one: "Workers of the world, unite!"

Telling it like it is

This piece by Christopher Cooper (his "bio" appears at the bottom) is brutally frank about Obama's position in history, and cleverly composed. I wish I'd written it.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Obama analyzed

I'm no Obama-lover, not any more. He, and his party, have disappointed me too often, and too seriously, for me ever to relent (or is it repent?) from my disgust at their governance. I will, however, refer readers of this blog to this month-old Frank Rich review of Jonathan Alter's book about Obama (Promise) because Rich (and, if I cared to read the book, Alter) do capture what's wrong with Obama's presidency and why, in my view, it's doomed to consist of but a single term of office.

The flaws they see in Obama--read the review--are, it seems to me, too ingrained in the man to be fundamentally changed. Obama's a creature of his culture--as varied as "his culture" at first blush appears--which holds to a view of America as historically blessed, fated to succeed by history and chance. He is too young, too immature in perspective, to see that America is no such thing. It's just another national gathering of folks who, like all such gatherings in history, are stupid, selfish and mean--doomed to be replaced by a later such gathering. He's too grounded in process--in political minutia and manipulation--to reach for the only chance he (or we) have to survive the present slide into the "dustbin of history." He is, after all, just another smart fellow, another fine politician. And that, my friends, just ain't gonna cut it anymore.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Letter to editor

Here's a letter to the editor of the News-Press that I emailed today. I'll update this post if/when it's published.

Update: The letter was published on August 18, 2010.

To the editor:

I read recently that Republicans are planning to make a campaign issue out of President Obama’s statements about the “ground zero mosque,” that is, that under the First Amendment to the Constitution Muslims have the same right to free exercise of religion as do persons of other religions, and that this includes the right to establish a place of worship wherever it is legally permissible to do so, as is the “ground zero” site. In effect, these Republicans wish to amend the first amendment, to make it applicable only to non-Muslim religions.

Many of these same Republicans have suggested repeal of the fourteenth amendment’s guarantee of U.S. citizenship to natural-born Americans, out of fear of a wave of illegal immigrants bearing “anchor babies.”

So, are we to understand that these Republicans—so-called “conservatives”—have now become radicals, demanding substantive change to two of the fundamental tenets of our founding documents? If so, I trust they’ll be honest enough to acknowledge their new-found status as revolutionaries—indeed, to shout it from the rooftops—as they attack their opponents in upcoming elections.

To which I say—quoting one of their recent leaders—“Bring it on.”

Monday, August 09, 2010

I know how revolutionaries feel

When I read about things like this--the enormous waste, the ugly face of our empire, the trashing of our economy to fund militarism--I want to hurl something at somebody. Not just protest or write letters or vote, but do something that might change things. And--this fuels my rage more--I know I won't change anything, nor will we objectors through any peaceful means. And that, my friends, creates insurrection.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Why not indeed?

At the bottom of this essay about job-creation in the US, a distinguished college professor asks a simple question.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

So, after all is said and done

this is what the US presence in Iraq will look like. Not much different from the outposts that Rome or Britain, or many other countries maintained during their empires.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Liars!

Not just Obama, this time, but (gasp!) Hillary Clinton too. Withdraw from Iraq? Don't be silly.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Ouch!

This unabashed critique of the American psyche concludes with an indictment--as scathing as I've read--of Obama's role in the decay of our sense of morality. He's gotten better at being evil, making it sound high-flown, intellectually sound and, indeed, comfortable.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Out of the woods and into the fray

I've emerged, for a day or so, from camping in the forest. The Oregon Cascades are amazing and, believe it or not, I actually caught a nice rainbow trout on the Santian River, on a dry fly, no less. The fish was a fifteen incher--I measured it--and I had it for dinner last night broiling it over an open fire. Next step in my evolution: Grizzly Adams.

Meanwhile, with momentary access to the internet this morning in Prineville, Oregon, I couldn't resist sending the SB News-Press a letter, which follows. I'll update this post if/when it's published.

Update: The letter was published in the News-Press on July 19, 2010.


To the editor:

As a progressive, I’m running out of “dis-”adjectives to convey my feelings about Obama. Initially, I was disturbed by his retention of Gates at Defense and his appointments of Summers and Geithner to financial positions. These choices signaled merely a continuation of policies that caused us massive military engagement and economic loss. Thereafter, I became distressed by Obama’s decisions on civil liberties: his maintenance of Bush’s policies of governmental secrecy and restriction of our civil liberties in the name of “fighting terror.”

My distress became disappointment when Obama refused to consider single-payer health care and made backroom deals with Big Pharma, allowing them huge profits in the health care package—a package that is actually a federally-funded windfall for insurance companies. My disappointment turned to disillusionment when Obama sent 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, elevating it to a full-scale military operation. My disillusionment became dismay when his economic plans failed to deal with crushing unemployment of American workers, and avoided confronting fundamental reasons for our financial catastrophe: “Too big to fail” banks and Wall Street’s systemic gambling with security derivatives. Indeed, by now, I’ve come to agree with Anthony Romero, executive director of ACLU, who recently declared his disgust with Obama’s policies.

But I’m not ready to disengage, to sit home on election day 2012. I believe, instead, that we progressives should disassociate from Obama and launch a campaign—as improbable a campaign as was Obama’s in 2008—to elect a true populist/progressive to dispossess him of the White House.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Online again

I've been offline for the last week, up in the redwoods. Today, after six nights of camping out, I needed a long hot shower, etc., to spice up. (So I was told by a clerk at a gas station/market down the road apiece.) And so here I am online at a motel in Garberville, heart of Humboldt County's "alternative economy." I went to a gathering of the faithful last evening--a folk music fest for the fourth held in a nearby town--and I must say I surely fit right in, appearance-wise. I turned down the repeated offers of "herb," of course, because I simply didn't want to clog my lungs with smoke. But we are indeed a scruffy- looking lot, we hippies, especially when gathered in large numbers.

A travel note: The groves of "un-old-growth" redwood trees extend all the way from a few miles north of Santa Cruz up to the Oregon border. Only a few stands of old-growth remain, of course, but I must admit I thought there weren't that many places where they still grew in any form.

Anyway, apropos the normal content of this blog, know this: Nothing has changed in my absence. The stories--Kagan, unemployment, oil spill, AfghanIraq, to name a few--remain unchanged, as if they didn't see my absence as a chance to amend their direction. Indeed, if anything, they've all headed further south since I've been out of the loop. So, it doesn't matter if I pay attention or make posts to this blog or write letters to the editor railing against this policy or that. Of course I knew that was the case, but it's pleasant to have confirmation.

And so--back into the woods.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Hiatus

I'm taking off for a trip northward from SB--destinations/duration unknown--and will likely be away from the Internet for a spell. OTOH I might find spots to hookup and create some posts on this site. To me, these days, the best rule is there are no rules.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thursday, June 17, 2010

WTF?

Would someone please explain to me the social/economic--indeed, any--value of trading futures contracts on movies' profits? Isn't such trading simply another opportunity for naked gambling by monied folks, allowing brokers another "product" upon which to generate commissions?

Monday, June 07, 2010

A letter to the editor

Here's a letter to the editor of the SB News-Press that I emailed this evening. I'll update this post if/when it's published.

Update: It was published on Sunday, June 20, 2010.

I have hope for America. Admittedly, negative superlatives dominate our news: the nation’s largest wealth disparity; warmest oceans, smallest glaciers; biggest deficit; highest arms spending; most massive oil spill. One might fairly despair over the incessant reports of disastrous conditions that are the “worst,” “biggest,” “most.”

But I have hope, and it springs from this fact: We Americans are aging—and we are multitudes.

Why hope? Because age renders people wiser. Elders—Eisenhower in his farewell address, Greenspan in Congressional testimony, McNamara in late writings, to cite three famous examples—often achieve in maturity a reflective candor about the true state of things. Eisenhower about the “military-industrial complex,” Greenspan about unregulated markets, McNamara about Vietnam.

We older folks also consume less. We no longer value cars, clothes and computers, but sunsets, sanity and siestas. We don’t count our dollars, but our blessings. We don’t charge things, we care for, and share, things. It’s not the acquisition of possessions but their disposition that rewards us.

Finally, we tire more readily. We grow weary of the drama of interminable rhetoric of war—whether against terror, against drugs, against each other—having learned that each war simply begets more war, and usually a new industry and a new bureaucracy; and that each war fails, leaving an increasingly exhausted and embittered nation.

So my hope is simply this: that we mature Americans, soon a majority, will take hold of our country and guide it with the wisdom, community and serenity that comes with age.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Just imagine for a moment

how the US media would treat a massive gold robbery in a large American city that left fourteen dead. But in Baghdad--just another day in the nightmare.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Don't look now (and not many Americans are)...

but Iraq is becoming the nightmare that those of us who resisted the US invasion said it would. To be honest, I'm conflicted about this recent violence. On one hand, I'd like Iraq to quiet down and become a decently-functional state so that (1) we could get the hell out with a minimum of egg on our face, and (2) Obama's administration wouldn't remain tarnished by our ongoing presence there. On the other hand, I'd love it if the place would turn into a violent conflict-plagued dictatorship that hated the US, so that the US would learn from that experience and stop its continued intrusion in other countries' affairs. On balance, because I doubt that US politicians won't ever learn the latter lesson, no matter how many failures our invasions create, I favor peace and governance in Iraq, and not for any of the above reasons, but because I feel for the poor Iraqis who didn't ask for any of this, and who deserve a place of decency, security and calm.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Laugh, I thought I'd cry

at the military's decision, as announced in the headline of the article, "New NATO idea to avoid killing innocent Afghans": giving medals for "courageous restraint." Even Orwell couldn't have come up with that one.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Oops

It appears that even Arizona legislators can make mistakes. The two immediate amendments to their recent immigration encactments do seem to mitigate somewhat the harshest of the original provisions, but true to form--their form being the refusal to recognize the correctness of any position taken by the original law's detractors--the legislators claim the law is strengthened. Fact is, the several lawsuits challenging the law as originally passed were clear winners and the Arizona lawmakers wanted to avoid having the entire legislation stricken, which is surely would have been as written.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wouldn't you know it

This bunch (five of them) on the Supreme Court are more activist than any previous Court. Look out for Jewish stars and Muslim crescents and who knows what going up on every hillside, in every park, in the US. I'm not a huge worrier about the First Amendment "establishment/free-exercise" clause, but I do honor the centuries of precedent which stands against the notion that a clearly religious symbol may stand upon clearly governmental property. This isn't simply the "in God we trust" slogan, or the "under God" phrase--they're troublesome enough on our coinage and our pledge but they're at least neutral as to what/whose God is being referred to--but a cross?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Letter to the editor

Here's the text of a letter I wrote this evening to the SB NewsPress. I'll update this post when/if it's published.

Update: The letter was published in the SB NewsPress on April 29, 2010.

To the editor:

I’m an unabashed liberal who believes that Lois Capps, during the years since she succeeded her husband Walter as our Congressional representative, has served the Central Coast well. She has a strong record on the environment, healthcare, civil liberties—indeed, on many important questions. But of late, on the most critical issue we face—the security of our nation and its place in the world—she has revealed herself to be merely a Democratic Party hack. I’m talking about the war—now Obama’s war—in Afghanistan.

The House of Representatives holds the “power of the purse,” and will shortly be faced, again, with deciding whether to increase funding the war, this time with an additional 33 billion dollars. (The House bill will likely—in a cynical move—include a fund for Haitian relief, in order to wrap it in legitimacy, but that provision can be separated out.) The question is: How will Lois Capps vote? Will she have the guts to say: “No! My conscience, and my constituents, demand that this killing in Afghanistan cease. Our soldiers—and Afghanis and Pakistanis—are dying for no purpose and to no effect except to harden terrorists’ resolve to attack America.” Or will she vote—as she has heretofore—to continue funding this wretched, wicked war because the Democratic Leadership (Obama, Pelosi, Reid—the usual suspects) demand that she comply with the Party Line.

I’m not asking much of Lois Capps. I’m simply asking her to ask herself, “How would Walter vote?”

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Whaddya think?

Is the US Air Force just launching this thing for a lark? I must say, if I were Russia--or any other nation--I'd be, as they say, up in arms.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

How to raise taxes without much political or economic pain?

A good suggestion, for starters: limit the now-unlimited deduction for home-mortgage interest payments. If you've bought a million-dollar home, financing the purchase with a $750,000 30-year mortgage, you now may deduct the entire interest component of your monthly payment, which could be as much as 4/5 of the payment in the first years of the mortgage. That interest amount is currently deductible, creating a huge drop in income-tax liability for those who inhabit giant, expensive homes.

Why not limit the home-mortgage interest deduction to a fixed sum, say, the amount of interest on a loan equalling a percentage of the median value of homes in various locales? This would leave the deduction intact for those who live in modest homes, but wouldn't allow the wealthy to benefit from their expensive, much leveraged homes at the expense of those who live more modestly.

Tell me, if you can, why that's not fair.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

In case you're wondering

why I haven't been posting to this blog lately it's because I've got nothing to say. Actually, I've got a lot to say, but I'm too weary with disgust to say it. I'm close to giving up on this entity we call the United States of America, merely waiting for the next shoe to fall to prove our governance and our media and our citizenry doesn't deserve my further attention. Indeed, so many shoes have fallen lately that my voice would have been drowned out anyway.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

What's in a name?

When it comes to Faulkner, not much.

Why do they hate us?

Because we're ruining their birthday parties by digging bullets out of the bodies of pregnant women, that's why.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A solution to expensive Internet hookup and slow downloading

Move to South Korea. Ironic, isn't it, that a leading factor in the US's slow speed is our relative absence of competition? It appears that corporations in the US cheer for raw capitalism except when they don't.

Monday, March 29, 2010

A fucking nightmare

Those of us who are old enough to recall LBJ's repeated assurances about progress in the Vietnam war must be--I know I am--wretching over Obama's plans for Afghanistan. After a "success" in the tiny enclave of Marjah, we're now going to assault a major city, Kandahar. My God, Barack, are you that big an idiot? Are you crazy? Or, worst of all, are you just another American Imperial President?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Well, whadaya know!

Somebody realizes there's a war on in Afghanistan.

Some of my best friends...

but I gotta tell ya, the present administration in Israel is going to drag the US and other western nations into a war with Islam. They're not just violating international law by taking possession of land that they occupied after previous battles, they're doing so in front of us, in front of all decent attempts to reconcile Israeli interests in the area with that of those who've lived there for centuries.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The stock market's reaction to the "health care" bill

The Monday after passage in the House: This has got to tell you something about the terms of --the financial effect of--the legislation, right?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Chris Hedges hedges no bets

So, gang, when/where do we build our commune? And who's in charge of the Molotov cocktails?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I am speechless

Well, not quite. This article evokes a single word: Bravo!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Conservatives and liberals--Together!

Here, as well as AntiWar.com blog (which I regularly cite) is presented articulate and hopeful means of taking back America's war-prone foreign policy. Note that both sources are conservative, because Obama's adoption of militaristic means has lately emasculated the Left's power to demand peace. Is there hope that these two different ideologies can merge and become a force for peace?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Terrorizing ourselves

is the title of a new book that analyzes the US reaction to the 9-11 attacks, reviewed perceptively here.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The long haul

This link, and this, sent to me by my buddy Kyle, author of Metaphor, inter alia, tell me that we're not likely to stop spending billions (and concomitant lives) in Afghanistan very soon. And, no doubt, these expenditures likely are dwarfed by our involvement in Iraq, regardless of Obama's pledge to remove all of our "combat troops" from Iraq in a while.

We're "nation building" these two distant nations while our own crumbles. But there is one saving grace, which can be said of our massive military presence throughout the world: At least it's a job program, and it's directed specifically toward folks who need the money.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Should I be freaking out?

I mean, Merlin Olsen--age 69, which is my age--dies of cancer. Can I be far behind? Okay, Jack Nicklaus and Paul McCartney, who're also my age, are still alive and "kicking," so maybe I should shut up. But Merlin Olsen, the bigger-than-life good guy from Little House on the Prairie? Ouch.

A new dimension of warfare

Now our drones are killing people in Pakistan (on which country we've never declared war--indeed, it's supposedly our ally) who are in the process of rescuing fellow Pakistanis from the rubble of buildings destroyed by a previous drone. This post--this blog--isn't going to change anything, and I wonder if by writing this I'm simply dispelling (or is it diffusing or defusing?) the rage I feel at our military and its commander-in-chief. This madness must stop, but I feel powerless to do anything but gripe, particularly since our congressperson, Lois Capps, yesterday voted against Dennis Kucinich's House resolution calling for quick withdrawal of our troops from Afghanistan.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Letter to the editor

The following is a letter I wrote to the editor of the SB News-Press. I'll update this post if/when it's published. (My first version omitted Iraq and Afghanistan as national crises, which I added by an amended letter to the editor. I surely hope they publish the amended version, because the omission of those two items by me in the original draft shows how deftly those issues have dropped from the public's--and my--consciousness, from crises to mere blips on the national psyche.)

Update: The letter (somewhat revised by the News-Press) was published on March 17, 2010.

Because the News-Press limits the length of these letters, I’ll try to squeeze my list of current global and national crises into 250 words.

Global crises: Atmospheric and oceanic warming. Declining oil reserves. Destruction of rain forests. Increasing species extinction. Diminishing saltwater fisheries. Decaying coral reefs. Shrinking natural habitats. Melting glaciers and icecaps. Increasing freshwater shortages. Growing wealth inequality. Spreading international terrorism and militarism. Ongoing nuclear proliferation. Worldwide overpopulation. Rising religious and immigrant intolerance. Continuing scourge of AIDS/malaria/poverty. Unabated political corruption.

National crises: Meltdown of financial sector. Rising unemployment and declining wages. Increasing homelessness. Continuing media consolidation. Impoverished local governments. Skyrocketing federal deficits and borrowing. Growing corporate influence over elections. Declining value of dollar. Continued outsourcing of manufacturing/technical jobs. Spreading child and adult obesity. Shrinking middle class. Widening income disparity. Restriction of civil liberties and growth of government secrecy. Congressional gridlock. Diminished charitable giving. Decline of retirement savings and real estate values. Ballooning home foreclosures. Increasing privatization of the military. North Korea. Iran. Iraq. Afghanistan. Crumbling infrastructure. Increasing costs of living, credit and health care.

Well, I did it. However, I’ve listed only conditions that have appeared lately in the media, and only those that strike me as critical. There are likely scores more, depending on the knowledge and viewpoint of the observer.

My point is this: All these crises have arisen on our watch, while we American Boomers enjoyed the most sustained period of prosperity the world has ever known. Anybody besides me feel guilty?

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Straight out of James Bond

Check out this extended analysis of why US administrations--all of them, including Obama's--are getting more and more involved in Yemen's activities, and it's not about al Qaeda, but rather about control of oil shipments and containing China. Could this be true? If so, I feel like such an idiot, a typical American idiot.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Monday, February 15, 2010

I'm no Libertarian...

but once again Justin Raimondo has nailed it when it comes to America's ongoing militarism, historically and immediately. What a waste, what an outrage. What a shame.

What do you think?

As much as I disagree with this writer's notion that capitalism heals all economic ills, I must say that his analysis of "deleveraging" and his sense of the future of US and international markets is spot on. There are so many commercial enterprises, even here in SB, that are dropping away from the marketplace (witness the many shuttered retail outlets along State Street), that it's hard not to foresee another huge string of real estate losses in the commercial area and, as this will take another few years to even out, an ongoing restructuring of our economy.

What I don't agree with is the writer's idea that government should simply stand by and do nothing as this occurs. Although so far the government's failures have been monumentally ineffective, I can't stand to allow the poor and middle-class to suffer as this all plays out. I believe the government must take steps to alleviate the agonies of the masses, even if this means more American debt, because, as the writer says, it's likely the sustained global uncertainties will mean that our dollar-based debt instruments will continue to be the "safe haven" for worldwide lenders, most notably, China.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Food for thought

What do you think about this? Positive, negative or crazy?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

George Lucas's dream come true

Doesn't "the breacher" remind you of some of those machines that the evil empire wielded against Hans Solo and his rebel friends?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

War isn't just hell...

it's madness. Check out this analysis of the imminent assault by massive numbers of US Marines (with some NATO and Afghan forces) on the Afghan city of Marjah. Note that our forces number 15,000 while the opposition's one-tenth of that amount. Note that we're advertising our attack in advance so the civilians can leave or barricade themselves. Note that it's likely the Taliban fighters will leave before we attack in any event, to live to fight another day. And note the cruel irony, buried in the article, that because of all the attention, money and investment that NATO intends to devote to Marjah after the attack to win the "hearts and minds" of its residents, other Afghan towns are likely to invite the Taliban to their areas so they too can receive an influx of funds and projects. It all sounds rather like the satirical Peter Sellers movie, "The Mouse that Roared," doesn't it?

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Super Bowl ad

The Focus on the Family television ad that caused all the ruckus for having been shown during the Super Bowl is here. To me, the problem isn't with the ad itself--I don't find it worthy of so much grousing, indeed, I find it pleasant--but with the fact that it was the first "advocacy" ad that CBS had agreed to air, and that at the end of the rather lighthearted, inoffensive ad, a referral appeared, guiding viewers to the Focus website, where much more strident anti-abortion messages appeared. Although I am of the mind that thinks there are much greater problems with America--and America's media--I can't get over how a national network, using public airwaves, is granted the power to air the Focus ad while refusing to show ads that focus, with similar decorum, on a woman's right to attend to personal medical conditions.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Friday, February 05, 2010

There's just no accounting for taste

I mean, to some, I suppose this is just peachy. To me, it's a bit extreme, especially the part about the soil in the girl's lungs.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Gutsy people

These two doctors have more guts than I do. Very effective, too.

Monday, February 01, 2010

What's in a word?

Check out Rasmussen's daily tracking poll of Obama's job performance. This page shows the numbers (strong approval percentage minus strong disapproval percentage), going back to Obama's first day as president, and, as Rasmussen notes, the -4% as of the poll dated 2/1/10 is the highest number for months, rising sharply from the depths in the last two days, following Obama's SOTU address. Amazing how fickle the American public is, how gullible and susceptible to being swayed by good oratory.

Scary, actually.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Too much to bear?

Losing Zinn and Salinger. I suppose they had to die sometime, but during the same week?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Why they hate us...

Check out the last line of this brief news story. Doesn't it say all there is to say about the callousness of our presence in these foreign places?

Monday, January 25, 2010

In case you missed it...

Nigeria, which over the past decade has become a nightmare of death and destruction, isn't some tiny African outpost. It has a population almost half of that of the United States, even with all the killing.

If I were living in Caracas...

I'd be holding my ears, because "shock and awe" are on the way.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Wait and see

Obama is going to deliver his first State of the Union Address on January 27. We're told it's going to be a "no more Mr. Nice Guy" speech. He's just rehired David Plouffe, who was so important in his successful Presidential campaign, to bring some potency to his administration. Well, we can get a glimpse of what Plouffe has in mind from this recent essay by Plouffe, and I must tell you I don't see very much to be hopeful about. To be sure, Plouffe says some good things, but I see no spark, no truly populist venting--certainly no significant policy suggestions--in the essay.

I'll be listening to Obama's speech with heightened interest. (I haven't watched a SOU address for years, for obvious reasons.) There's had better be some fire and brimstone--and some serious effective "change"--in Obama's speech or else he'll be guilty of what I despised so much about the Bush administration: repackaging instead of rethinking.

Obama should propose an increase in income tax on the wealthy; a re-imposition of the estate tax (since its going to go back into effect soon anyway, Obama need not suggest an enactment by Congress, but simply inaction, which Congress seems capable of doing nowadays, if nothing else); a vigorous jobs program, including federal money for job-creation, particularly in green industries and green energy efforts; strict controls and limits on lending and banking; ending both wars (certainly ending the Iraq occupation), and something bold and decisive I haven't included above. This last I'll leave to Obama and his folks--that's why they get the big bucks.

Actions, not words, Mr. President. Words don't work anymore. If you've learned anything in this first year, it's that.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The long road home

With the recent election of a reactionary to the Senate from Massachusetts, our most liberal state, the message was clear: The power of monied advertising can create the message, spread the message and indoctrinate the electorate against the force of reality, truth, decency. And now, in today's opinion, the Supreme Court (5-4) has overturned decades of precedent to allow unlimited corporate influence in elections. It's all over now but the shouting--from TV sets, Internet sites, everywhere big money reigns.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A vital question

that's rarely asked; and the answer to which seems obvious to this writer. Your answer(s)?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Ah! Now we've got him!

The following is a slightly-revised version of a letter I sent to the NewsPress yesterday. I'll update this blog if/when it's published.

Update: It turns out the photo the Feds used to show an aged bin Laden wasn't of bin Laden at all, but of a Spanish official--and he's pissed off. Can this saga of the pursuit of bin Laden get any weirder?

Further update: The letter was published in the SB NewsPress on/about January 19, 2010.

To the editor:

Extra! Extra!

Using the highest-tech digital methodology, the Feds have now updated the Wanted-Dead-or-Alive photos of bin Laden to show his aging during the many years we've been hunting him. (It's been way more than a decade, folks; he's been wanted at least since 1998, for the US embassy bombings in Africa).

Well, there's no doubt now: bin Laden's days as a free man are surely numbered. Those folks in the AfPak mountains are sure to finger him for us, now that they recognize him. For years they've been uncertain about the identity of that six-foot-four Arab living amongst them with his arsenal of weapons and teams of bodyguards, some of whom may be hauling along a kidney-dialasis machine for their boss. The locals no doubt have been hesitant to claim the $25,000,000 reward because of this uncertainty. But now, with the CIA's new PhotoShop effort, the data will come streaming in and the Predator Drones will soar, their target firmly fixed.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

The good news just keeps pouring in

Like this LA Times article about the prospects of making a living as a freelance writer.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Bravo!

In in-depth articulation of the cruelty/madness that is American foreign policy, now and for the last one hundred years.

Friday, January 01, 2010

What's in a name?

Does it matter that MNF-1 is now USF-1? Apparently not, except for t-shirts and Twitter, there's no difference.

As if we didn't have troubles enough around the globe,

now it's dust.