Saturday, December 31, 2011

Shame on Lois Capps

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

Update: It was published on January 3, 2012.

To the editor:

Transparency. We’ve been hearing that word a lot from politicians, including our Congressperson, Lois Capps. Indeed, she uses it in almost every speech she gives, at every appearance she makes. And so you’d think that when she casts a vote, such as the vote she cast last month, authorizing the president of the United States to arrest and detain indefinitely, without trial, American citizens whom he deems are supporters of terrorist groups, she’d tell us about it, explain her vote to us.

It’s not like it was an inconsequential vote. By voting to pass the 2011 Defense Authorization Act, Ms. Capps, in direct contravention of the fifth and sixth amendments to the US constitution, vested the federal executive with unreviewable power to determine what constitutes “material support” of terrorists, to decide who has provided such support and to slap them in military prisons for so long as he or she deems proper. No hearing, no lawyer, no court review, nothing. Summary indeterminate imprisonment, imposed by a single person, the president. If that sounds like vesting the Chief Executive with the powers of a dictator, it’s because that’s exactly what it is.

And so, on her website, “applauding” passage of the bill, did she tell us any of this? No. Check it out. What she shared with us—the only facet of the bill she mentioned—was a feature of the bill that provides funding of some small business efforts along the Central Coast. Some transparency.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Breaking...

This just in. Why am I not surprised?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Nader nails it

In this concise essay, Ralph Nader assails a fundamental error in "free trade" as it is practiced globally. It happens that the economist, Paul Samuelson, whose works Nader discusses, wrote the Econ 101 text that I carried to class at Stanford five decades ago, long before Samuelson saw the light, and so I was taught the mutual benefits of free trade. Fortunately, I flunked Econ 101 and so the lessons of Samuelson's text never sank in.

I don't know what it will take for Nader's long-standing critique of free-trade agreements to grab hold. He and, notably, 1992 third-party presidential candidate Ross Perot (he of the "giant sucking sound" bite) have been right about the effects of such treaties for at least thirty years, with no apparent effect on our leaders--including Obama, who recently executed a deal with South Korea.

Look around: Besides retail service-industry jobs such as salesperson and wait-person, the arms industry and the military, where are American jobs going to come from?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Despair, wretchedness, sadness

are words that are woefully weak to describe my reaction to this story about the aftermath of our invasion of Iraq.

Friday, November 25, 2011

No shopping today

Not only did I not buy anything today -- Buy Nothing Day -- I returned to Radio Shack a laptop and accessories (more than $500 worth of merchandise) that I'd bought three weeks before and received a full refund. I didn't need the new computer because my old one hadn't suffered a fatal crash after all, but was simply taking a prolonged rest and woke up last night.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

Occasionally I regret

leaving the old profession. Reading this article from the Guardian is one of those times.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Obama, the Republicans' tool

This essay says it: It's all political theater, and the people aren't the directors.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

A psychiatrist analyses Obama

A brief capsule, based on Obama's recent appearance on Leno.

My reaction: "And they pay you for this?"

Monday, October 31, 2011

What's happening?

Today, and several days before today, at the checkout counter at a retail store, when I moved my credit card through the store's counter-mounted implement, I understood I was "swiping" my card. I rather liked that term because it was so precisely expressive of the physical action of moving the card through the machine's slot. However, lately I've been hearing the word "slide" to depict that action, a word that, although not descriptively inapt, seems less precise and, frankly, a word that owes its recent adoption to political correctness. I understand that "swipe" sometimes means "steal" and often refers to an act of wiping up various forms of detritus, as from a countertop or floor, which lead me to ask, Why this change of the word in common parlance?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

I'm still here

I appreciate that it's been quite a while since I last posted on this blog (perhaps the longest gap in my posting since I started this site on August 18, 2003, with a co-blogger, Kyle, who a few months later left this blog to me and maintains his own blogs, Metaphor and Squelch -- see my list of blogs), but the interruption isn't because I've had nothing to say, just that I have nothing to type. I mutter to myself, I mutter to the few others who'll hear me -- and some who won't -- muttering, muttering. I know after eight-plus years of blogging that my posts don't affect anything, and muttering takes less time and is easier. Perhaps if Jobs' successors invent a hand-held device that allows one to create a post on one's blog by muttering into it, I'll be back at it with my earlier frequency. (On the first day of All That Arises, Kyle and I posted eight (8) separate items on various subjects! Oh how young and innocent we were back then.)

Anyhoo, I'm not bowing out, just explaining my recent cyber-silence. Later, gator.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

An observation about art

I suppose I've always known this: Very seldom is a work of art, especially in literature and writing, truly novel. As proof, consider the famous comedic line from the movie, "Young Frankenstein" by Mel Brooks: "Walk this way," spoken by the hunchback Igor to Frankenstein, after which Igor limps away followed by Frankenstein attempting to imitate the limp. Funny, eh? And unique? No, not at all.

The same sequence appeared four decades earlier in the movie "After the Thin Man," where Nick Charles (William Powell) is told by an aged butler to follow him ("walk this way") and thereupon shuffles into the drawing room, which Nick dutifully imitates. It's a scene funnier than Mel Brooks' copy, much more in tune with the story.

Why do I bring up this obscure fact? I have no idea, except that I felt like it in the moment, and I don't Tweet.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

There is a God

or at least a god: The Detroit Tigers beat the New York Yankees in the American League playoffs to advance to the finals, sending the Yankees home, no longer in contention for a World Series title.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Another bike stolen

I returned to my condo this evening to see that my bike had been stolen from my carport sometime during the day. It was hidden from the adjacent street but I hadn't locked it because when I ride it locally (as I do often) it feels paranoid to lock it each time I return home. It wasn't a two-thousand dollar bike, but it was a good ride and I like the darned thing. And now it's gone. It's the second time I've lost a bike to theft. My previous bike was stolen off the back of my truck when I stopped at 7-11, momentarily, in Ukiah, California, on my way back to SB from a trip up north. I've also lost two laptops to theft from my car. That's four thefts, none inconsequential, in the last ten years.

You'd think I'd become more circumspect about securing my possessions on these accounts. But no. So far I've taken the position that we are good people, we humans, and don't do evil. But, damn it, I'm becoming jaundiced and, frankly, I'm growing tired of replacing these things. We're talking many hundreds of dollars over these years, not to speak of the pains in the ass(es).

So, I'm on Craigslist now, looking for a used bike to buy and, I must admit, there are many. Another reason I'm shopping: I might find my own bike for sale. If so, do you think the seller might give me a break on the price?

Monday, October 03, 2011

Reconstruction in Iraq, American style

If I hadn't been crying so hard while reading this article about our efforts to rebuild Iraq, I'd have been laughing.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Worst president ever

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

Update: The letter was published on September 24, 2011.

Several liberal bloggers and essayists predict that an “Arab spring” will soon come to America: that after three years of Democrats’ (read Obama’s) failures (1) to rein in the excesses of wealthy traders and profiteering corporations; (2) to support the needs of the poor and middle class for jobs and decent incomes; and (3) to end Bush’s wars and egregious violations of our privacy, a mass of disaffected Obama voters (acronym: a D.O.V. movement) will take to the streets to force their representatives to fundamentally change America’s international and domestic policies.

To which predictions I reply: LOL. Americans are too chained to cable TV and Internet connections; too stressed by falling values of their homes and retirement accounts; too fixated on consumption and maintaining incomes to support that consumption. No, the time for an American “Arab spring” has passed; its people are too cowed, too lost in the maze of distractions created by those in power: power over our finance, our media, our governance.

The most Americans can hope for is that our inevitable decline ends in a soft landing. And the most Obama can hope for after his single term as president is that, having presided over the demolition of the hopes and aspirations of his constituents—traditional progressives and, most appallingly, minorities and the youth—by his repudiation of his campaign promises, he ends up being second on the “worst president ever” list, behind only Harrison, who died after thirty days in office.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Handwriting on the wall

As long ago as during the months before the general election, Obama revealed himself to be the "political hack" that the McCain campaign termed him. So, why are we progressives surprised at the nature of his governance, to wit, doing anything and everything necessary to be re-elected.

My favorite line from this essay

about Obama's "jobs" speech is near the end: "Republicans have never had such an effective lackey."

Thursday, September 08, 2011

This morning's Yahoo! News front page is covered with stories about "jobs": Obama's upcoming speech, the Republican candidates' debate, the impact of job loss on all segments of our economy, etc. But the theme of all stories is that Obama must come up with a plan in his speech that solves the problem.

What a crock! First of all, a speech isn't going to solve anything. Laws and policies and human conduct are. Second, where's Congress in this? They pass the laws and deal with domestic economic issues, not the President. He's paramount in foreign affairs (somewhat) but domestic issues are to be dealt with by the legislative branch of government. Third, it's more than a year until the election, but the stories all deal with the political issues--who's leading in the polls; what Obama "must say to turn the tables on the Republicans"; who's at fault for the persistent economic doldrums, etc.

I'm tired of all this, so much so that I'm not going to watch the President's speech tonight, just as I didn't watch the Republican candidates' debate last night. Fuck 'em all.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Everything you need to know about our militarist empire

is found in this excellent interview, that summarizes five important books on the subject.

Monday, September 05, 2011

The digitalized novel

An interesting, incisive essay about the value of the hardcopy version of long fiction. The significance of the codex form of presentation vs. the serial presentation of the electronic tablet. To this analysis, there's this: If you drop a book on the floor, you can pick it up, leaf to the place you left off and keep reading, no doubt; with a Kindle-like device, maybe not.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Getting the bumper-sticker slogans ready

After Obama's latest outrage--scrapping EPA's proposed smog regulations--I'm more certain than ever the man doesn't deserve re-election. I've proposed in previous posts the creation of a DOV movement, realizing, however, that he'll doubtless be the Democratic nominee. But at least I can have some fun with this campaign, proposing slogans for the bumpers of Progressives' vehicles. How about these?
(1) Don't impeach Obama, ignore him.
(2) Obama--2012! ...Whatever.
I came up with a third slogan yesterday, but can't recall it right now. I'll supplement this post when I come up with it.

Supplements:

(1) Don't blame Progressives--It's not our B.O.
(2) With friends like Obama ___ ___ ___?

Your slogans?

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Across the pond

their foreign intelligence leaders seem to be both wiser and, if it needs to be said, of a different gender from ours.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

An idea whose time has come

Some months ago (I posted on this blog about it, but because I'm too lazy to tag my blog entries, you'll have to trust me on this) I had the idea of starting a new political party, or at least a new movement, entitled the DOV party, for "disaffected Obama voters." Actually, because the "D" could stand for everything from "disappointed" to "distressed" to "disgruntled" and so on, I reasoned that it was an appropriate acronym for a large category of voters, a big enough tent to attract some attention, even, perhaps, to wield some clout.

Well, I didn't act on the idea (the laziness thing operative again) but now I just might. I mean, there have been plenty of articles -- the most recent one being here -- that discuss how Obama's failures and his rightward shifts have caused his base to question both his political bent and his competence. Trouble is, "disaffected" and such-like terms don't capture all facets of the effect of Obama's conduct as president. It leaves out the recurring theme of essays on the subject, namely, that former Obama supporters will, however reluctantly, vote for the man because they have "nowhere else to go."

And so, what about this: DOV--meaning, in addition to all else, "Disenfranchised Obama Voters"?

Friday, August 19, 2011

A must read

for anyone who wants to understand Gorbachev, his rise, his fall and his legacy. To me, a monumental and positive force in the last half of the twentieth century, along with Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nelson Mandela.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Matt Damon for President

In case you're keeping track, you heard it here (scroll down a few posts) before you heard it here.

Monday, August 15, 2011

An amendment--an addition--to my previous post

urging Matt Damon for President ("You heard it here first"), adding Warren Buffet as his running mate.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A movie recommendation

From director Carol Reed ("The Third Man"), a relatively obscure film, "Odd Man Out," available streaming from Netflix. Fabulous black and white cinematography, street scenes of Belfast in the forties. Throughout the movie, I kept wondering, How'd they do that?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Priceless

Literally so, because George Carlin is dead. Must see video.

Friday, August 12, 2011

You heard it here first

or maybe second, because I thought of it a week or so ago, but didn't blog about it, then I heard it--a quick suggestion-- on the Rim of Fire program yesterday: Matt Damon for President.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Ya gotta love the Web

I mean, where else would you find a fabulous site like this? Sure, in the past you could stumble across a book in the library that contained such information, but wouldn't you just leaf through it then put it back on the shelf? Now you can bookmark it and have access to it instantaneously, whenever the mood strikes or the need arises. Amazing. You'd think we'd all be getting smarter with such a tool, but you'd be wrong.

Monday, August 01, 2011

A fine blog

I don't usually do referrals of blogs, but here's one that strikes my fancy, and it's not just because she apparently likes my novel.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

A thoughtful question, and my reply

A good friend of mine--Kyle, who hosts two blogs, Metaphor and Squelch (links below)--emailed me a question after summing up his frustration at the current state of our nation's politics and policies: What would the French and Italians do?

http://kylekimberlin.blogspot.com/

http://squelch.wordpress.com/

Here's what I wrote him back.

Kyle, I'm not certain what the French or Italians would do, but they'd surely do something. I think what's happened in the US over the last thirty years is that we've been overtaken by a perfect storm of developments that has destroyed citizen action.

1. We've become cynical about politics, because no matter what we do (having done lots in the sixties and seventies) nothing changes. Wars keep on being waged; government corruption and waste continue; inequalities, drug wars, poverty persist. Even when it appears something has changed--as when the Soviet Union collapsed and the Berlin Wall came down--our "leaders" found new enemies to justify and enhance their role in our culture.

2. We've become overwhelmed by distraction. Religion isn't the only opiate of the masses (although it's a strong one). Now there's television, the Internet and its attendant gadgetry, consumption of material goods as well as food, drink and drugs, and a most powerful one: financial indenture. We're so engaged in digging ourselves out of the pile of debt that we incurred over the last decades that we don't have the energy or interest in events not related to that most compelling concern.

3. The Internet isn't just a distraction; it also has the effect of channeling any protest into meaningless displays to assuage our guilt at not doing anything effective. We write and connect with each other (as with this email) but do so while sitting at a desk, not swarming the streets. This is Chris Hedges' point in his many essays and which has led him from his Ivory Tower to the White House fence where he and others were arrested for failing to disperse. He's right: We must do something, anything. But we must do it.

The three of us Saturday soldiers have quit our weekly "peace march" after eight years-plus because of a combination of factors, together with the growing futility of our demonstration. For years we kept on because of the support we got from passersby. Nowadays, however, it's not just the shopping along State Street that pulls strollers away from us, it's the infernal plugs in people's ears and those damnable tiny boxes they're twiddling with their thumbs. Besides, we reckoned that since we began our march long ago, wars haven't ceased, they've multiplied. We thought perhaps our protest was simply provoking increased military engagement and so determined to quit marching to see if that stopped US warmaking.

So, come to think of it, I have done something after all. I've stopped marching.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Thursday, July 28, 2011

I can't resist

making this observation: In the Middle East the populace riots for freedom; in Greece they riot over economic austerity; in the US we riot about a deejay's music festival.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The future is here

I recently read an article on the Internet (can't find the link now) that detailed how our increasing use of the "cloud" to create and store our information renders us more susceptible to commercial and governmental intrusion. I don't (I think I don't, anyway) use the cloud to store much information because I've never trusted that such storage places won't keep my data without being tempted to exploit it.

Now--no surprise--my reluctance to become a Facebook junkie has seen justification. I like the author's reference to the Pied Piper, whose victims not just willingly, but gleefully, followed him to their deserts.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Gotta love Santa Barbara

For several months last year (probably because I'd become addicted to my Netflix rental of BBC's Foyle's War series) I thought I'd like to move to Sussex County, England. It still appeals to me somewhat, actually. But this morning, while I'm grouting my bathroom floor, I've got the British Open golf tournament on television in my bedroom and I just checked out the broadcast from southern England. Result: It's blowing and raining in cold, driven spears there today. In high summer. Meanwhile, today in SB the weather is glorious, too glorious to be indoors grouting, but oh well.

An observation. On mid-day today there's a perfect sport on television to "view" from the other room, namely, football (soccer): the final of the Women's World Cup, to which the US team has (miraculously) qualified. I mean, you can hear the broadcast, but since nothing's happening except upon the occasional score--and each of those gives rise to a huge eruption of noise and are thereupon replayed at least five times--you can effectively see the whole match without having to watch it much, just by checking out the telecast a few times in two hours.

Now don't get me wrong. On occasion, soccer can be interesting, as with the women's amazing last-minute victory last week over Brazil to get them into the semi-finals. But its best function is as white noise in the other room while engaged in an absorbing indoor task.

A voice in the wilderness

Kucinich: A succinct statement of what's going on in America.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

The next chapter in America's downfall

They already own our indebtedness and our commercial real estate and our jobs. Now they're nibbling away at our houses.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Here we go again

Another outrageous 5-4 Supreme Court decision, this time striking down Arizona's ground-breaking "clean elections" law that sought to "level the playing field" of funding of candidates so that money couldn't as easily buy elections. Under the guise of First Amendment rhetoric, the Court continues to foster finance over speech, money as the ultimate form of expression.

I'm wavering in my desire to sit out the 2012 election, if for no other reason than to keep the right from further polluting the Supreme Court.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

If I watched local television newscasts

I'd be strongly opposed to this trend in broadcasting. As it is, local television newscasts come here to Santa Barbara from up north in the Pismo Beach/SLO area, except for one channel (I think there's one) that emanates from SB, and it's so awful I seldom watch it.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Why am I not surprised

at this latest 5-4 Supreme Court decision.

(To be honest, I not only anticipated the result--even the split on the Court--but I felt, as a former class-action lawyer, that the breadth of the class claims, as well as the manageability of the suit were on the outer edge of legal tolerance of the class action device.)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Here's a succinct lay analysis of the legality of Obama's actions in Libya

Its conclusion is that it's unlikely that anything short of impeachment--which is itself unlikely, of course--will be ineffective to stop this, or future, wars by imperial decree. I happen to agree, grudgingly, with that conclusion, which calls for me to consider whether this nation is still one that I revere. (I've been pondering this ever since the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution handed LBJ unbridled power to destroy Vietnam, which the executive later used to bomb Cambodia.)

I still admire the process that allows public debate on such issues and that permits lawsuits, however ineffective, to be lodged to test the question. But these don't stop the presidential power to make war from being wielded by a single person. (Imagine Bachmann possessed of such power, or Palin!)

The only effective halt to this exercise of executive arrogance would be for the Supreme Court to declare the war illegal and to enter an order enjoining the president from continuing it. If disobeyed, the Court could send a US Marshal (imagine Tommy Lee Jones in the role) to arrest the president for contempt of court, which would not make even a decent screenplay. However--and this is ironic because of the disrespect I have for the five dwarfs on the Court--the conservatives Alito, Roberts, Scalia, Thomas and (somewhat less so) Kennedy are more likely than the other four to make such a ruling and enter such a decree because of their self-proclaimed "strict construction" of the Constitution. By that time, however, enormous devastation would have been wrought, the very devastation the Constitution was written to restrict.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Orwell rules the airwaves

Clear Channel's list of unpreferred songs after 9/11/01. Did you know about this?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

You're likely aware of this site

but if not, you're in for a treat. Educational, cute, always entertaining. Enjoy.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Wouldn't it be wonderful

if this MIT discovery were feasible and effective? (If it progresses, however, I wouldn't give a plug nickel for the lives of the scientists who are developing it. Men in Black--the color of crude--will spirit them away, no doubt.)

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Some more news about Africa

After that article about diminishing wild animals on the African plain (follow the link in my May 31 post) now this.

Friday, June 03, 2011

I disagree with these curators...

I think the Auschwitz sign should be put back where it can be seen in context and allowed to decay naturally.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I may sound like a constitutional technocrat...

but why isn't Obama's failure to abide by the War Powers Act with respect to his ordering of US military strikes in Libya an impeachable offense? And, to be fair, his use of force in Libya in the absence of Congressional approval is even "more unconstitutional" that Bush's action in Iraq, given that Bush at least pretended there was a threat to the US from Iraq.

Both sides--liberals and conservatives--should demand that Obama either seek Congressional approval or immediately cease the use of American force and, if he fails to do either, commence the impeachment process.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Today's news

I rarely watch network television news--occasionally PBS News Hour, but even that only seldom--and have become out of touch with what passes for significant reportage in America. This morning, just now, I happened to click on MSNBC's news hour. The lead story: Oprah's last show.

Wonderful.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

As a former Arizonan,

here's yet another reason why I'll not move back, ever.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Hapless, hopeless

This Saturday, today, our weekly peace march along State Street was ugly indeed. We were joined by four women of the Women For Peace group who, rather than engaging in symbolic speech, used the occasion to window shop and chat, while holding their hand-scrawled peace signs at their hips so as not to block their view of the shop displays or hinder their personal conversations. No wonder conservatives are taking over this nation. They have ardor and display it. Not so these "couch liberals," who because of the appearance they gave to the rest of us on the march who were singing "Imagine" all the while, became effectively ruinous agents provocateur.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

What did we expect?

The Supreme Court, 5-4 (and you know who's in the majority) rules that class-action status can be defeated by the company's requirement that consumers sign an individual-arbitration clause as part of their purchase agreement. A death-knell to mass-consumer class actions.

And the corporatist beat goes on...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Another ditty--about politics in general.

When I learned PoliSci in my youth

The Right in Congress behaved with couth.

They’d debate with vigor, speak their truth,

Spar with Demos, nail and tooth.

(But then, as friends, share gin/vermouth.)


Rancor, if it flared, was fleeting,

Seldom lasting past a meeting.

No hint, no possibility of cheating,

Not by Dirksen, Ford or Kenneth Keating.

(Even while Tricky took that beating.)


But now the system’s gone awry.

Each issue’s posed as do or die.

No longer is there speech, reply.

Repubs rant and speakers cry.

(Some, indeed, shout out, “You lie!”)


Their pundits, steeped in vanity,

Report with relish this insanity,

Filling time-slots with inanity,

Neglecting genuine calamity.

(For rhyme and meter, I name Hannity.)


Reason, thought, are viewed as vices.

Blind reaction now suffices.

Each law becomes one born of crisis,

Stalled and blocked through artifices.

(Labeled parliamentary devices.)


I posit to you this no-brainer:

Which of these pairs is insaner:

Limbaugh/Beck or Bachman/Boehner?

If you must pause, could it be plainer?

(Another question: Which pair’s vainer?)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Chris Hedges is the man.

Okay, to be politically correct, he's the person. Check out his most recent speech. (Text and video are available at the link.)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

This story says it all

The US postage stamp with the image of the Statue of Liberty taken from a photo of a Las Vegas casino replica.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

A ditty about nukes and tsunamis and such

Central Coast Dilemma

(This doggerel was published in the SB Independent on Thursday, April 14, 2011)

Fukushima makes one wonder

Was Diablo Canyon a mere blunder,

Built on fissures three miles under,

Likely soon to tear asunder?


South along the tidal reach,

Avila, Grover, Pismo Beach,

Folks sip wine and nosh on quiche,

Warier now of seismic breach.


Ditto they in San Clemente,

Just upwind of San Onofre,

Another plant by PGE

Fueled by lethal energy.


Fatal as the plague bubonic,

This plant too spans plates tectonic.

Was its builder just moronic,

Or is the company demonic?


Come the quake, the wind, the tide,

We between can nowhere hide.

We’ll be left but to decide:

Diaboiled or Onofried.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

A worthy quote

from on old murder mystery I heard on BBC radio: "Facts are like cows: If you look at them them straight away long enough, they'll go away."

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The arrogance of power

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

Update: The letter was published on April 6, 2011.

American missiles flying, fighters firing rockets, causing explosions and destruction on the ground and in the air. In every sense—under international law, domestic law, the UN Charter—the use of such destructive force within the boundaries of a sovereign nation is an act of war, and under the US Constitution the power to declare war rests not with the president but explicitly with the Congress. How dare Barack Obama arrogate to himself the power to launch such devastation on Libya.

I supported Obama, worked tirelessly for his election in 2008, but this is the last straw. I’ve watched the man’s actions—blotting out his fine words—for three years, witnessing his repeated sellout of his office to the rich, the powerful and the corporate, and now—as he did in Afghanistan and Pakistan—the militarists. If George Bush had done what Obama is doing the calls from the Left for his impeachment would be deafening.

Where are you, “liberals” and “progressives”—you who demanded that the executive power be restrained when Nixon, Reagan and Bushes held that power? It’s time to judge Obama on his deeds, not his rhetoric. It’s time to remove him from the office he has so flagrantly and arrogantly abused.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A trick question

Which of these stories troubles me more?: This or this.

Answer: Both

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Good news!

At least this one American business isn't outsourceable--yet--and it's thriving!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Faux news redux

They simply should not be allowed on our public airwaves. Not when they pull stunts like this.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Letter to the editor

On February 21, 2011, I wrote another of my letters to the editor of the SB NewsPress. It was published today (Sunday, 2/27). It reads

When was the last time we heard that anything positive was happening in America (except, of course, the ever-increasing salaries and bonuses of Wall Streeters).

Jobs? In the tank. Bankruptcies and foreclosures? On the rise. Working-class wages and the dollar? Falling. Food and fuel prices? Escalating. State and federal deficits? Soaring. Military expenditures? Inflating. Occupation of Iraq? In chaos. War in Afghanistan? Hopeless. The Arab states? Aflame. Israel/Palestine? Don’t ask. And on and on.

As much as I’m inclined to blame Bush/Obama and Congress (of whatever composition) for this wretched state of affairs, the fact is we Americans elected these folks to govern. If we are to be consistent about our claim that America is "special" because of its enduring democracy—our government, as Abraham Lincoln declared, “of the people, by the people and for the people”—then we have only ourselves to blame for our current plight.

And so, fellow citizens, what shall we do about it?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The dark side of cyber-citizenry

is astroturfing by groups, but even more so by corporations and the US military. Outrageous--but inevitable in our evil world.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Interesting interview

especially on topics that concern me most: How to write meaningfully about meaningful subjects, and how to make story tell more than story.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Do you want fries with that?

Here's a shocking---shocking--story about the wage level of those jobs that America is creating in the wake of the recent huge bubble-burst. Imagine my surprise.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sometimes you wonder

who in their right mind would do this (video)

and then you realize, he's not in his right mind.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Rethinking America's foreign policy

It seems to me that we (I include myself in this) Americans need to pause and reflect upon the individuality of our fellow humans. (A vague, ugly sentence, I know.) What I mean is this: We are a world of individuals, not, as is so often assumed, a bunch of nations filled with folks who have adopted that nation's persona, as depicted in the media and by our governers. Of course we Americans know that about ourselves. We know we're not all loud, assertive credit-hungry wastrels who worship movie stars and devour McDonalds twice a day. But we do tend to generalize about residents of other nations, don't we?

This facet of our culture (and it's likely not just an American trait) is called to mind by this brief article, quoting the Chinese woman who just won a tennis match to become that country's first finalist at the Australian Open. She doesn't sound very "Chinese" does she?

Monday, January 24, 2011

If you want to know where I stand on Obama and "liberals"

check out these two articles that appeared today: One is by a mainstay of mine, Chris Hedges, on Truthdig, and the other by a fabulous thinker/writer Michael Brenner who, in his HuffPost article, describes present-day "progressive Democrats" as "the kind of people that your mother wanted you to hang out with in high school -- short of Canadian exchange students being available."

Sunday, January 16, 2011

For those of you who are familiar with my novel, Gaviota

here's a website that argues--as did my protagonist in that novel--in favor of "jury nullification" as a means of ensuring truly populist justice in criminal trials. The Wikileaks founder would surely need such a doctrine to obtain a fair adjudication if he were to stand trial in the US on some technical violation of our manifold secrecy laws.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A new political movement, or even a party?

What about a movement of those of us who supported Obama in 2008 but are no longer enamored of him, even to the point of rebellion? We could call ourselves Disaffected Obama Voters. Get it?: the DOV movement.