Sunday, February 27, 2005

My Tom Delay feel good story

I knew I could find something about my friend that would make me feel better. I don't hold out much hope for a "fair hearing" for Mr. Delay, but I do hold out a lot of hope that his cohorts will somehow be introduced to the Choctaw Gods of Justice.

Katharine over at Cut to the chase has posted a nice story from The Raw Story.

Here it is. Please enjoy.

YES Magazine

I stumbled across an article about "Democracy Now", which is a worthy read.

Link to YES Magazine

(An excerpt from this article)

CAROLYN: Do you see the launching of Air America as competition?

AMY: Oh no. The people at Air America are proud partisans, which is very different from what we do. But it’s absolutely critical in this age of the greatest media consolidation our country has ever seen to have different voices out there. I use the analogy of the Italian restaurants on my corner in New York City. When I first lived there, there was one Italian restaurant on the corner. Then across the street another Italian restaurant opened. The first Italian restaurant was terrified that they would lose business. But the business only grew. And then across the street another Italian restaurant opened. It only brought more people to that corner, because they knew it as an area to get Italian food, and it helped all the restaurants. Helping build diverse media outlets is about shoring up a democratic society.

(Another excerpt)

CAROLYN: The corporate media give you a measure of notice and grudging respect, but in the middle of a generally admiring Washington Post profile you’re described as “beaming from some alternative left galaxy.” How far out of the margins do you think your work reaches?

AMY: I think that we’re reaching mainstream America. People across the political spectrum respond to our work. In Tampa, when we did the event there, 2,500 people packed the performing arts center. Tampa Bay is the home of Centcom, the U.S. military’s central command, and of McDill Airbase. Soldiers come out to our talks. In fact, I just had to take a call from a soldier as I was talking to you. Soldiers, military families, people in intelligence, government employees who are tired of information being manipulated and misrepresented, conservative Republicans who deeply care about issues of privacy and corporate control and an out-of-control war budget, all respond to our work. We’re reaching out way beyond any easily categorized population. I don’t think the lines are as easy to draw any more, as the growth of Democracy Now! shows.

Back to normal?

I have spent the past few days feeling miserable with a head cold, sore throat, runny nose (the two full boxes of tissues variety), but woke up this morning feeling almost (not quite) back to normal.

Because the Hannidate items are all over the blogs I enjoy reading, I decided to check out the ones that aren't being touted for the humor.
It actually breaks my heart that some of those ladies are insistent on a man with conservative politics. There are some interesting profiles among the 144 (minus the guys) that really peaked my interest...too bad that I am more liberal leaning and currently studying Spanish (as a language) and Paganism (as a way to connect my love of earth to my lifestyle). Otherwise, I might find myself in a meaningful relationship with a delicious sounding conservative beach walker who enjoys being treated as a respected equal and doted on by one who recognizes the Goddess in every woman. Damn.

I guess I had better get back into the news of the day to take my mind off opportunities I have lost because of my beliefs. Maybe I can find something about my friend Tom Delay that will cheer me up.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Is Rumsfeld being set up?

This could explain that uneasy feeling we have all had about the DODs seeming inability to "get a grip".

(Excerpt from daily mojo)

Rumsfeld went on to complain that he couldn't find a copy of the story anywhere and could only read articles about the story. Members of the press corps promised to get him a copy and informed him that it was available in the on-line edition of the magazine. In his defense, Rumsfeld claimed that he only buys the hard-copy of Newsweek.
I wondered how much time he had spent futilely paging through back issues of Newsweek. Had none of his staff thought to look online? Or could it be that they were thumbing their noses at their aging boss as he stared at an unplugged computer? Or was there simply not a single person on hand in the Pentagon who could master a Google search?

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Memories…while I still can

I was recently thinking about something that happened during my Navy days, and it suddenly dawned on me that the military phase of my existence began forty years ago this coming September.

I started hustling around the internet looking here and there for dust covered memories that I was able to clean off…only to reveal more dust covered memories. The process has gone on for almost a week now, and I have stumbled across old shipmates that I remember but wasn’t particularly close to, as well as finding and talking to a couple of guys that were very good friends.

I have always embraced the philosophy that I have good friends in every community in the world…I just haven’t met them all yet. I guess it is time to amend that with something about old friends I just haven’t reacquainted myself with yet.

At this point (for my generation), the living still outnumber those having passed on, so the time to reach out and share is now. There is nothing more precious than common memories shared by people forced to co-exist during times and events that they will not or can not forget.

I look forward to touching base with many more old friends.

Monday, February 21, 2005

I think it is a crisis

I am having a political identity crisis at the moment, and I just can’t seem to snap out of it. Somehow, I managed to fall into that lazy habit of allowing others to define my politics, and it has become so convoluted that I have ended up being the one most confused.

I used to have a pretty good understanding that the big picture is generally a little blurry because it is always in transition. Most of the issues I have been extremely upset about were things that I felt would affect my ability to earn a living, would affect the agreements that I was working under at the time (such as sick leave), would affect the quality of education available to my kids, or would affect the quality of life of our military veterans and those currently serving. All of these things have prompted me to write letters to my Congress People or vote for or against certain candidates or issues.

I can honestly say that I feel the cumulative effect of all my efforts in the area of political activism has been identical to pissing into a stiff wind. No matter how many letters I write or how much money I donate, nothing really seems to change. The only time that matters very much is when I think it should. Otherwise, my life is great, has always been great, and should always be great.

The realization that I am being played like a cheap violin (along with everyone else) finally dropped into place as I watched Howard Dean and Richard Perle exchange thoughts and comments during their Portland debate (on CSPAN). Both of these guys have something to offer to the discourse that deserves to be listened to… as do most of the people willing to speak out in search of a way forward.

Don’t get me wrong… there are still a lot of people I will have trouble looking at or listening to, but I am going to go back to making that decision on my own like I used to. I can’t really be a good partisan when there are so few (in any party) that command respect because they have a common sense approach to problem solving.

Above all, I will no longer jump away from the issues I feel are defining for our chosen way of life because these are the issues I can affect by my daily actions and attitudes toward those within my physical reach.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Even God likes a good laugh...

I received this from my good friend Kathy J., and because every day is holy..I had to share.

There were 3 good arguments that Jesus could have been Black:
1 He called everyone "brother"
2. He liked Gospel
3. He couldn't get a fair trial.

But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus was Jewish:
1. He went into His Fathers business.
2. He lived at home until he was 33.
3. He was sure his Mother was a virgin and his mother was sure he was God.

But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus could have been Italian:
1. He talked with his hands.
2. He had wine with every meal.
3. He used olive oil.

But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus could have been a Californian:
1. He never cut his hair.
2. He walked around barefoot all the time.
3. He started a new religion.

But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus could have been Irish:
1. He never got married.
2. He was always telling stories.
3. He loved green pastures.

But the most compelling evidence of all - 3 proofs that Jesus could have been a woman:
1. He fed a crowd at a moment's notice when there was no food.
2. He kept trying to get a message across to a bunch of men who just didn't get it.
3. And even when he was dead, He had to get up because there was more work to do.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Ex-Executive for Boeing Is Sentenced

· Michael M. Sears gets four months in prison and is fined $250,000 for offering a job to an Air Force official who negotiated contracts.

I wonder if this is an indication that the system (in a small way) is working as it should. Perhaps we will begin to see these kind of offenses brought into the light of day and punished more often.

I am actually amazed about this one because I thought it showcased the redefinition of Lobbying under the Bush Administration.

Mykeru tells it best (the media is working as it must)

Goopers, Guckert and the Only Guy in D.C. with a Clue


It's so obvious that power corrupts and that those seeking power for it's own sake, which is usually a form of greed, are either corrupt to begin with or open to the trade off between their own integrity and the acquisition of power. Of course, regardless of how powerful someone becomes, making that compromise they are still nothing more than a whore. It's like the old joke about the guy who offers a woman a small fortune to sleep with him, and then drops the bid down to twenty bucks. When the woman sniffs "What do you take me for?", he replies something to the effect of "We've already determined what you are, Madame, now it's just a question of price".
We live in the age of the $10 whore.
Most everything you see on television or read in large circulation newspapers, what, for lack of a better term can be called the "mainstream media" (while the better term we are lacking is corporate media), walks in lockstep with the right wing propaganda machine. The media foot soldiers aren't "journalists" as the term is commonly understood. They're "personalities", people who are trained to be human department store mannequins for draping the news over. Investigation, reporting, and speaking truth to power are all well and good to them, but not if any of that would threaten their careers being TV blowup dolls. Honestly, people actually interested in journalism must get weeded out as undergraduate communications majors. Besides, the idea of a reporter, much less a human ventriloquist's dummy like CNN's Wolf Blitzer or any of a dozen totally interchangeable talking heads on Fox News, actually going out and investigating a story on their own initiative is an anachronism. The guys upstairs determine what the news is, the editors and reporters job is to make that foregone conclusion happen.

Friday, February 18, 2005

The women WILL clean house

Senators Clinton and Boxer, Representative Tubbs Jones and Others to Unveil Major Election Reform Bill

Legislation Would Enact Sweeping Reforms by Next Major Election Cycle in 2006


The Count Every Vote Act of 2005 will provide a voter verified paper ballot for every vote cast in electronic voting machines and ensures access to voter verification for all citizens, including language minority voters, illiterate voters and voters with disabilities. The bill mandates that this ballot be the official ballot for purposes of a recount. The bill sets a uniform standard for provisional ballots so that every qualified voter will know their votes are treated equally, and requires the Federal
Election Assistance Commission to issue standards that ensure uniform access to
voting machines and trained election personnel in every community. The bill also
improves security measures for electronic voting machines.
To encourage more citizens to exercise their right to vote, the Count Every Vote Act designates Election Day a federal holiday and requires early voting in each state. The bill also enacts "no-excuse" absentee balloting, enacts fair and uniform voter
registration and identification, and requires states to allow citizens to register to vote on Election Day. It also requires the Election Assistance Commission to work with states to reduce wait times for voters at polling places. In addition, the legislation restores voting rights for felons who have repaid their debt to society.
The Count Every Vote Act also includes measures to protect voters from deceptive practices and conflicts of interest that harm voter trust in the integrity of the system. In particular, the bill restricts the ability of chief state election officials as well as owners and senior managers of voting machine manufacturers to engage in certain kinds of political activity. The bill also makes it a federal crime to commit deceptive practices, such as sending flyers into minority neighborhoods telling voters the wrong voting date, and makes these practices a felony punishable by up to a year of imprisonment.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

White House Turns Tables on Former American POWs

Some things don't even begin to make sense to me and the story refuses to be told in its entirety, so I have to attempt to work them out in my own mind... and I come up with more questions than possible answers on this one.

(This item was gleaned from Shaun at Upper Left)

WASHINGTON — The latest chapter in the legal history of torture is being written by American pilots who were beaten and abused by Iraqis during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. And it has taken a strange twist.

Characteristics of Psychopath

I found this information at this place.

(Sociopath, Anti-social Personality Disorder)

This is a fascinating clinical list. I leave it to you to apply these elements to any politician or talk show host you choose.

Glibness/superficial charm.
Grandiose sense of self-worth.
Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom
Pathological lying
Lack of remorse or guilt
Shallow affect
Callous/lack of empathy
Parasitic lifestyle
Poor behavioral controls
Promiscuous sexual behavior
Early behavior problems
Lack of realistic, long-term plans
Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
Many short-term marital relationships
Juvenile delinquency
Revocation of conditional release
Criminal versatility (Hare, 1986)

Geoff Metcalf and I probably don't agree on a number of issues, but I urge you to visit his website and look around. Because I profess to be INDEPENDENT, I will give his views an honest opportunity to mix and match with mine. I am anxious to listen to one of his webcasts to get a better feel for how (or if) he paints the issues.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Paying more, and enjoying it less

I didn’t bother to sign up for the “do not call” list because I always screen my calls, and I have nothing against the folks who earn their living making “those” calls…and, truth be known, I doubt that any kind of list would serve to put a stop to them anyway. The message on my answering machine begins with “telemarketers please put me on your do not call list”, but they know I don’t have a legal leg to stand on so they keep right on calling…and leaving the same old message between ten and thirty times a week. “Because you make your mortgage payment on time, we can help you refinance at a lower interest rate that will save you up to $300 a month.”

It sounds really good on the surface, but the underlying facts are going to cost me a lot of up-front money for a fixed rate (probably folded back into the contract so they can say no money up front), or they want to push those damn variable APRs which can really get your interest rate down…until the prime rate begins to go up.

The credit card companies have had such good response to their introductory rates (which last from a few months up to a year) that the mortgage lenders are now using the same type of come-on. You get a fixed rate for a bunch of months, and then you get hit with the variable.

The bottom line for consumers is always going to take a beating somewhere down the road. The cards are stacked against us, and the Government we depend on to protect our interests is about to put us in the hands-on-ankles position one more time.

The following excerpt is from

Morally Bankrupt

The United States credit card industry rakes in $2.5 billion a month in profits - largely in fees and interest charged to the American consumer. But the industry’s thirst for additional profits is insatiable. The industry is pushing for a bill that would deny bankruptcy relief to “people with low or moderate incomes who have fallen on hard times because of illness, job loss or divorce.” Meanwhile, the bill does nothing to stop “abusive lending practices by credit card companies.”

What about Valentine's Day?

There are several interpretations as to the origin of Valentine's Day. Let the romantic in you decide.

The Feast of Lubercus

The first interpretation has this celebration originating as a pagan tradition in the third century. During this time hordes of hungry wolves roamed outside of Rome where shepherds kept their flocks. The God Lupercus, was said to watch over the shepherds and their flocks and keep them from the wolves. Every February the Romans celebrated a feast called Lupercalia to honor Lupercus so that no harm would come to the shepherds and their flocks. Also during Lupercalia, but in honor of the goddess Juno Februata, the names of young women were put into a box and names were drawn by lot. The boys and girls who were matched would be considered partners for the year, which began in March. This celebration continued long after wolves were a problem to Rome.

Read more interpretations here.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Saving the economy

Regarding exchange rates (US Dollar Versus Euro)

In January 2003, the US Dollar was exchanging at 94 cents to one Euro, in December 2003, it was 81 cents.

Today the US economy has rebounded to show the US Dollar exchanging at 77 cents to one Euro.

As I watch the hearings and read the news stories on the proposals for saving Social Security, I am reminded of the now familiar process of audio and visual delusion being hammered into place by all the experts on various radio and television talk shows.

If you are allergic to smoke, you might opt for an extra pair of underpants for a while.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Making a long story short

(Continued from the post below)

As I moved slowly through the grieving process, I continued to experience an extreme level of isolation. Nothing (outside my work) that I had previously been involved in seemed to hold any interest for me, including all (but one or two) of my closest friends.

I found myself drawn toward people, places and topics of discussion that were totally outside my realm of normalcy. The Love and compassion that I desperately needed during this time was being offered to me through the kindness of people who were suddenly showing up in my life rather than from the people who had been there all along.

I began reading material from the “self-help” and “spiritual” book shelves rather than the normal fare I loved to read, and as I re-entered an interactive level of society, it was with an insatiable thirst to understand who the hell I was and what the purpose of my existence was all about.

In the nearly twenty years that I have been on this quest, I have experienced numerous revisions in my thinking process and I have come to understand that all the power that exists in this world is within me.

I have experienced “salvation” in every relationship, and I have been “born again” with every worthy concept that has been shared by my heroes, living and dead. I experience excruciating joy in the happiness and well being of other people, and I chuckle light-heartedly at the wonderful outrage expressed by the writers of my favorite progressive blogs.

The greatest lesson I have learned is that Love, in all its wondrous forms, is the only energy that allows fulfilled life. Everything else (fear, hatred, greed, bigotry, avarice, gluttony, etc.) is derived from ignorance, and the true “Light of Christ” is that which exposes the unknown to the ignorant, allowing them to move closer to fulfillment.

Words, including scripture, are only tools. It is knowledge that gives them meaning. Knowledge can only be derived through experience, so “walk the walk” before you exercise the ability to “talk the talk”.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

My rise to power

There was a time in my life when I actually equated the “Light of Christ” with uncertainty and despair. You see, I was raised in the Pentecostal environment where the common practice was to be more concerned about how others were living their lives than how you were maintaining your relationship with God. If you had an issue with your self-esteem, you were certain to attend every Church event and always show up early, for if anyone made the mistake of entering the Church after services had begun, they became the sole focus of every eye in the building until well after they were seated and the Reverend’s return to sermon demanded to be heard. If someone just didn’t show up for services, the good people of the congregation (at the very least, their stewards) fell all over themselves to be the first to show up at the missing person’s doorstep because they absolutely had to know what was going on in everyone else’s life… and any excuse to pry was good enough. (We feared you were taken ill, or having a better time than we were).

The energy that surrounded me (and all my friends) was that of not being worthy. That energy permeated every aspect of Church life, and the only people immune from it were the Reverend and his Family… and his chosen stewards (which would be anyone capable of competing for his power). Those who dared to resist conforming soon became the focus of such a level of intense gossip that they either fell quickly back into place or they left the Church to worship elsewhere. Needless to say, the need for gossip was ongoing, and actually seemed to take on a life of its own even when there was no need.

I turned away from that environment at the age of fourteen, with the intention of willingly burning in Hell for eternity upon my demise.

When I became forty years of age, my Mother (the only parent I had ever known, and the absolute anchor in my life) unexpectedly passed away, and I became a person completely without purpose or direction. No previous situation could have prepared me for the depth of isolation I would experience for the few months following her death. It was indescribable anguish, and it completely emptied me out.

My life was about to change in ways I could never have imagined.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Remains of toxic bullets litter Iraq

This comes via e-mail from Lynn

Please read the entire article.

Fresh-from-the-factory DU tank shells are normally handled with gloves, to minimize the health risk, and shielded with a thin coating. The alpha particle radiation emitted by DU travels less than an inch and can be stopped by cloth or even tissue paper. But when the DU material burns (usually on impact; or as a dust, it can spontaneously ignite) protective shields disappear, and dangerous radioactive oxides are created that can be inhaled or ingested.

"After we shoot something with DU, we're not supposed to go around it, due to the fact that it could cause cancer," says a sergeant in Baghdad from New York, assigned to a Bradley, who asked not to be further identified.
"We don't know the effects of what it could do," says the sergeant. "If one of our vehicles burnt with a DU round inside, or an ammo truck, we wouldn't go near it, even if it had important documents inside. We play it safe."
Six American vehicles struck with DU "friendly fire" in 1991 were deemed to be too contaminated to take home, and were buried in Saudi Arabia. Of 16 more brought back to a purpose-built facility in South Carolina, six had to be buried in a low-level radioactive waste dump.
Television footage of the war last month showed Iraqi armored vehicles burning as US columns drove by, a common sign of a strike by DU, which burns through armor on impact, and often ignites the ammunition carried by the targeted vehicle.
"We were buttoned up when we drove by that - all our hatches were closed," the US sergeant says. "If we saw anything on fire, we wouldn't stop anywhere near it. We would just keep on driving."

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Somewhere in this world

Today I am going to put my hands over my ears and say "lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala" to all the "what ifs" and "might have beens" that are going on in the Bush Family world. Then, of course, I am going to climb up a ladder and pressure wash my roof.

My visit to Free Will Astrology this morning rewarded me with the following horoscope:

Gemini Horoscope for week of February 3, 2005

Somewhere in the world is a tree that has been struck by lightning in such a way that the scorch marks show your initials. This is the week of all weeks when you could find that tree. Somewhere in this world, there is a treasure that has no value to anyone but you, and a secret that is meaningless to everyone except you, and a frontier that possesses a revelation only you know how to exploit. This is the week when you could stumble upon those things. Somewhere in this world, Gemini, there is a person who could ask you the precise question you need to hear in order to catalyze the next phase of your evolution. This is the week when you might run into that person.

Knowing that there is a treasure out there that has value only to me, and a secret that is meaningful to only me is what allows me to move forward into the rest of my life with a higher level of zest and excitement than I usually have when planning to power wash the roof.

The cryptology of this entire horoscope can only be referring to the fact that every experience I have is meaningful to no one but me. The lessons that are mine to learn can only be confronted and understood through my experiences. Even if I was "Born Again" today, I wouldn't be able to share the concept of that experience because that is the nature of life...on purpose and by design. Spanish class is going great.

Monday, February 07, 2005

This from FAIR

The New York Times killed a story that could have changed the election—because it could have changed the election

The Emperor's New Hump

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Bush Administration Moves to Take Over Iraqi Agriculture

(Excerpt from article)

Cross-pollination is an important issue for another reason. In recent years several farmers have been taken to court for illegally growing a corporation's GM seeds. The farmers have argued they were doing so unknowingly, that the seeds must have carried on the wind from a neighbouring farm, for example. They have still been taken to court. This will now apply in Iraq. Under the new rules, if a farmer's seed can be shown to have been contaminated with one of the PVP registered seeds, he could be fined. He may have been saving his seed for years, maybe even generations, but if it mixes with a seed owned by a corporation and maybe creates a newhybrid, he may face a day in court.
Remember that 97 per cent of Iraqi farmers save their seeds. Order 81 also puts paid to that. A new line has been added to the law which reads:'Farmers shall be prohibited from re-using seeds of protected varieties or any variety mentioned in items 1 and 2 of paragraph (C) of Article 14 ofthis Chapter.'
The other varieties referred to are those that show similar characteristics to the PVP varieties. If a corporation develops a variety resistant to a particular Iraqi pest, and somewhere in Iraq a farmer is growing another variety that does the same, it's now illegal for him/her to save that seed. It sounds mad, but it's happened before. A few years back a corporation called SunGene patented a sunflower variety with a very high oleic acid content. It didn't just patent the genetic structure though, it patented the characteristic. Subsequently SunGene notified other sunflower breeders that should they develop a variety high in oleic acid with would be considered an infringement of the patent.
So the Iraqi farmer may have been wowed with the promise of a bumper yield at the end of this year. But unlike before he can't save his seed for the next. A 10,000-year old tradition has been replaced at a stroke with a contract for hire.

Genetic Engineering

(Excerpt from

A cancer takes 8-10 years to grow from one cell to one-million cells. The timeline for cancer deaths would be theyear 2000 data. I anxiously awaited those data. America'scancer surveillance statistics are three years behind realtime. Today, in April of 2003, I have just had theopportunity to review the actual data. As Americans continue to ingest genetically engineered milkand dairy products, lymphatic cancer death rates havesoared. Americans have become laboratory subjects in geneticengineering's experiment, and the resulting data indicatesextreme cause for concern.

Somewhere in the dismal darkness of a genetically altered food chain, a baby cries.

Monsanto fined $1.5m over Indonesia bribes

(Excerpt from New Farm article)

The cash payment was delivered by a consultant working for the company's Indonesian affiliate, but was approved by a senior Monsanto official based in the US, and disguised as consultants fees.
The company also admitted that it had paid over $700,000 in bribes to various officials in Indonesia between 1997 and 2002, financed through improper accounting of its pesticide sales in Indonesia.

I wonder why Monsanto felt compelled to turn themselves in... what isn't being said here?

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Tetrahedral Politics

I used to understand that it was futile to ponder on the outcome of the political process. Deep down inside, there is the knowledge that these things are beyond my level of comprehension, and most of the time that knowledge saturates the surface also. Besides all that, I hadn't really cared that much for a long time.

One day last year, Charlotte Garrido ( a candidate for County Commissioner) stopped by to let me know she was running for office and was interested in my thoughts about a number of issues. She asked extremely pertinent questions, and listened intently to my answers while making notes in her little book. As soon as she left, I went on with my day and pretty much filed the memory of Charlotte's visit somewhere under Z.
A few days later, she called me with feedback on a couple issues I considered important... and I found myself drawn into a level of political interest I hadn't felt for many years. Charlotte's bid for office was not successful, but her impact on me was. Our brief encounter showed me that politics, especially at the local level, could be very different in a positive way.

I am remembering this encounter with Charlotte because it rekindled an interest in pondering, and a pile of additional fuel to get that interest fully ablaze came in the form of an interview in Mother Jones.

Food Chains, Dead Zones, and Licensed Journalism
Michael Pollan, Interviewed by Russell Schoch

This article started with a discussion about food and some interesting environmental issues, but touched on the following:

Was there a favorite writer you edited at Harper's?
Yes: Walter Karp, who wrote extensively for the magazine before his death in 1989. He was a terrific political writer--he wrote things that sort of sizzled in your hand--and he set the political tone for the magazine. One of his chief virtues was his understanding that you have to look at what politicians do rather than at what they say. We don't tend to do that. Journalists go to politicians and ask them what their actions mean. That's kind of weird. As a result, in the mainstream press what is regarded as important is what politicians tell us is important, and what things mean is what those same politicians tell us they mean.
But Walter Karp always kept his eyes on the political actor's deeds, not on his words. He understood that journalism, in this country, is largely licensed by politicians, by the leadership of the two political parties.

I did a little research on Walter Karp this morning, and the little I have read... so far... has really elevated my desire to know more.

I discovered that, as usual, I am on the trailing edge of an issue that others have already discussed intensely in the blog world and elsewhere for at least the past year. I will try to catch up over the next week or so, but have bookmarked so many sites and articles, I know it will take longer.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Why we strive so hard

Listening to the SOTU this evening gave me dry mouth and sweaty palms. I can honestly say that I didn't understand the true implications behind GW's speech, and that is what makes me so nervous. I just can't get comfortable with broad brush policies that should be presented with some careful and honest detail...but never are.
I like to compare what is happening in the world today with what was happening when I was a kid... it all seemed so simple back then. Maybe it was just perception.

A better comparison of the current world is made in this Truthout article:

Europe vs. America
By Tony Judt
The New York Review of Books


America's cultural peculiarities (as seen from Europe) are well documented: the nation's marked religiosity, its selective prurience,[1] its affection for guns and prisons (the EU has 87 prisoners per 100,000 people; America has 685), and its embrace of the death penalty. As T.R. Reid puts it in The United States of Europe, "Yes, Americans put up huge billboards reading 'Love Thy Neighbor,' but they murder and rape their neighbors at rates that would shock any European nation." But it is the curiosities of America's economy, and its social costs, that are now attracting attention.
Americans work much more than Europeans: according to the OECD a typical employed American put in 1,877 hours in 2000, compared to 1,562 for his or her French counterpart. One American in three works more than fifty hours a week. Americans take fewer paid holidays than Europeans. Whereas Swedes get more than thirty paid days off work per year and even the Brits get an average of twenty-three, Americans can hope for something between four and ten, depending on where they live. Unemployment in the US is lower than in many European countries (though since out-of-work Americans soon lose their rights to unemployment benefits and are taken off the registers, these statistics may be misleading). America, it seems, is better than Europe at creating jobs. So more American adults are at work and they work much more than Europeans. What do they get for their efforts?
Not much, unless they are well-off. The US is an excellent place to be rich. Back in 1980 the average American chief executive earned forty times the average manufacturing employee. For the top tier of American CEOs, the ratio is now 475:1 and would be vastly greater if assets, not income, were taken into account. By way of comparison, the ratio in Britain is 24:1, in France 15:1, in Sweden 13:1.[2] A privileged minority has access to the best medical treatment in the world. But 45 million Americans have no health insurance at all (of the world's developed countries only the US and South Africa offer no universal medical coverage). According to the World Health Organization the United States is number one in health spending per capita - and thirty-seventh in the quality of its service.