Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Hardest Decision for Pres. Obama

Sometimes there are so many interesting things to write about I can't decide what to write at all. Under consideration lately are more on word play,and more on some of my old books. More on old-fashioned edibles such as mulberries. The war in Afghanistan nags at me constantly.

Lately too, I read and I think about the President making the terrible, the extremely hard, decision-to increase or not to increase troop levels. (Extremely hard if you have a brain and no voice from above telling you exactly what to do.)I appreciate him taking his time on this one. I appreciate the fact that President Obama has not just forged ahead quickly. Can you imagine trying to make this one? It will be a lose, lose for him. If he adds more troops, us lefties will be unhappy. If he doesn't, the right will certainly be in an uproar about his weaknesses.

Then it happened. I watched Bill Moyers' Journal again. You can watch or read it HERE. If you are not familiar with the program Mr. Moyers closes it with his "editorial" comments. Last evening he really got me and probably many other watchers. He discussed the decision President Obama is making about sending more troops to Afghanistan. When he said "let's bring back the draft...", I instantly recoiled.

Bring back the draft? I have a son who could be called; I have family members of all stripes that could be called. The Draft? How could he think such a thing? He probably doesn't have family members to worry about. I personally hate All war. Of all violent activity in which humans engage, it is the most Stupid. I understand the reactions to block a blow to self. The automatic throwing up of arms to block the blow coming at your face or once the blow has landed, the anger and the response to punch back. But war just seems to go on endlessly and after the first blows what does it serve? Not to mention the reasons for war change and who do you trust to tell you the truth. So I cannot ask for a draft for something so Ignorant.

Then it hit me. What Mr. Moyers said is truly correct. Thinking of those populations, People, in other countries being killed doesn't seem enough. Yes, we have been hiding behind others paying the priceS of war for the rest of us. Others go to war on our behalf for reasons other than the love of country we espouse, though there are those too. As was mentioned, there are those who go because there are no jobs here. There are those who go for promises of supporting family, getting health care for their families, education, "bonuses", citizenship, or even for food. I read there are some who go to belong to another type of gang, a sense of belonging. Whatever the reasons they go, they go and we are a grateful nation-sort of at least we have parades for them.

Mr. Moyers was making the point that if the draft came back the powers that be and those that like to editorialize about why we must "fix" Afghanistan would have more to answer for and to... We the people would feel more involved and demand more than words to answer for the expansions of war and the losses of our children and grandchildren.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Some of the Blogs I Follow and Why.

Political blog posts at Southern Beale blog can be fun to read for some of us.
The last two concern local politicians and the Obama is out to get Fox News stuff.
Read them and have a little smile or maybe you will get angry.
Personally, I think we lefties should feel so sorry for Fox, poor things. Look up the meaning of Irony and you will see how they work. (See I am still hung up on words and word play) It must be hard to find ways to look at reality and write the opposite on every story or non-story day after weary day.
Also in one of the posts Southern Beale lists a few list-keepers all Repubs. I really had not thought of political party and McCarthyism in a while but there he is a Repub.
Really I am fairly positive that pols or their staffs have lists that build through the years but most are just memories in someone's head. Do some value their bad memories so much they write them down so they can drag them out and read them over and over while figuring ways to get even? We know of some that have done so. Are we electing children?

Now on another blog I follow, All The Things I Love, for a whole change of pace read the post on books
This post also has some beautiful photos to go with it. Anyone who knows me knows how much I appreciate books and the work that goes into each and every volume.
I am scan-reading two right now. (I generally find these days I scan rather than read whole books any more. Too much instant gratification other places, maybe.
But I still love books. They are fun to see, fun to handle, and even fun to hear.
Not only those senses are involved some books have odors,not just mold, but something inexplicable.)

I can relate to these two bloggers. They are very different in writing style and in subject matter covered. However they can both be of interest.

I am sorry to report that one of my followed bloggers had a mishap, actually sounds like more that just a mishap to me. Pat, of Pat's Poetry Musings, as you can read is "Out of Commission". Fell and messed up a typist's much needed shoulder and arm.
Get better soon.

Of course, I can always recommend you read Thomas' posts. Many varied interests and an inquiring mind he will stimulate your mind too. If you like cars, politics, candy, dogs, or just about anything; you will find something in Thomas' writings.

So here you are a partial list of blogs I follow with reasons why. Just wanted to write about a few so maybe people would find something new to enjoy.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Can You Make a Difference? More on Word Play

While rereading parts of Dr. R. Reich's book, Locked in the Cabinet, I discovered a conversation Dr. Reich had with his wife, Clare, about living in Washington. (Washington here meaning the Federal Government Washington) Her take on Washington is not new.

Dr. Reich has his Page at Wikipedia if you are interested. Read the paragraph on this book there. Apparently he fictionalized some conversations.

Whether fictionalized or not her description of Washington is one to which many of us can relate.

It's always the same thing. Who's up? Who's down? Who's in? Who;s out?
It's a one-company town, Bob. Everyone works for the same company in
some way or other. Politicians, journalists, bureaucrats, lawyers, lobbyists.
And all that really counts is your rank in the company. Power, power, power!
No one cares about ideas, values, or even their families.

Robert B. Reich, Locked in the Cabinet, Alfred A. Knopf, NY,1997,Page 5

And while perusing a “blog of note”Meanderings in Hickville I came upon this: “Parks dedicated to liars should catch on in the states. Every politician will have their very own swing set. “ Under a picture in Italy of a park named for Pinocchio. Do Italians really love liars or just puppets that would be boys?

How many times have you heard politics or government described in similar terms. All my life I have heard people say things like: “they're all crooked”; or that voting is picking “the lessor of the evils”; or why should I “it won't make any difference”...

Now take a look at the N.Y. Timestoday. The front page, above the Internet fold, is stories of decisions being made in our names, or not, many of which are tied to money and money is, or buys, power. (Of course, I expect Dr. Krugman to write about money or banking or some parts of the economy.)

The article concerning the war in Afghanistan and the Taliban economy is well written but not really much new. What is striking are comments about how it is a bigger economy than was thought by a member of the House Representatives and that the decision to send more troops depends to some degree on Taliban economy. That decision is also dependent on whether there is an “legitimate” government of the country. The Karzai government is accused of fraud both in the election and in the governing of Afghanistan. The government is accused of ties to drug money, the same drug money the Taliban unofficially taxes.

Another article is on the lobbying of the climate change bill. The different energy groups are each trying to attack different parts of the bill. Hundreds of millions of dollars being spent. Who knows if these groups being split will help or hinder the passage of legislation but money is power.

There is an editorial concerning income tax evasion by the wealthy in various ways. This is one about the off-shore accounts and more on the Swiss Bank Accounts. It ends by saying maybe we can now get the wealthy to pay their taxes. (Dream on)

New arrests in hedge-fund scandals and again in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

There are two articles concerning us peons. One is really more about foreclosures causing stresses on the homeless shelters. The other is a slide show article on gardening and cleaning up a neighborhood in Flint, Michigan. In small ways people made a difference in one neighborhood.

Then read Dr. Reich's blog post on paying hush money and the health care reform. Big money therefore big power. No matter what people really wanted in the first place.

No wonder we all feel it is us versus them. Just look at the above articles as view of the spread of wealth. Maybe it is just life in a capitalistic society where money is power or the purchase thereof.

One big way for you to make a difference in the decisions made for you is if the “you” is a collective pronoun, sometimes replaced with “you guys” or “y'all”, not the singular pronoun. Then the “you” will become “we the people”. Nah, don't count on it. “We the people” will probably never totally agree with the “yous” of us. Yet opting out or “fence-sitting” is making a decision to allow others to decide for “YOU” the singular.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Another Post Script

Now a Post Script to the Cannibalizing post:
''Taking money from a program already in financial trouble is not responsible,'' LeMieux said. ''It's not fair to our seniors who paid into the program, and it's not fair to our children and grandchildren who will be burdened with massive debt obligations.'' Sen. George LeMieux of Florida as quoted in the NY Times here
The Senator is speaking of Medicare but also now worries about people being forced onto Medicaid.

These guys are good.

Friday, October 9, 2009

A post script to yesterday's post and...

Paul Krugmanhas a different take on what is wrong with education.

Maybe we need to examine ways for parents to make a bigger contribution to our local schools, too. Whether by running for the school boards or actually working in the classrooms, parents can push back.

Congratulations to our President on the Nobel Prize.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Another Word That Bothers Me in Its Present Usage

While checking some of the blogs I follow this morning, I stopped to read the blog of Southern Beale The Business of Dehumanization
Just click on the link in Blogs I Follow or here
The blog post this time has much on our educational system in its present state. The word "product" popped into my head. I remember not too many years ago when some in the US began to speak of our students as products. I hated it then and I still do. You may want to read the post from the foundation-wallace and really think about it. I also remember about the same time schools started "working with" corporations and businesses to find out what kinds of "products" they needed.
In the Southern Beale post there is a lament about civics no longer being taught. True. Several of my many old books are on teaching civics. I mean real civics, things like how your government works and how a voter has a duty to be educated. In fact some of the books teach how it is a "civic duty" to be educated and follow the government activities so you can vote.
Also along the educational trail I saw a report somewhere about a great school. They were getting the "products" physically moving because they realized that obesity is a problem. Why they were even exercising and had recess.
Let me tell you this little tale. One of my nieces' schools decided to drop recess because they just couldn't afford to pay someone to be on the playground with the little "products". Folks this was before the Recession hit.
I also remember President Kennedy's physical fitness here

Back to the "corporate product" idea. My memory fails me. When did the big drive happen to turn out "products" for the use of corporate America? Hereis an interesting, very interesting, article on the state of the business of education. It is called The 500-Pound Gorilla. You will find paragraphs on a Business Task Force and how the needs of business must be used in the school curricula as a way to bolster the economy among other issues. I strongly recommend you read it.

With thanks to my spouse for the photo here.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Cannibalizing or Cannibalized, Which Is It?

As mentioned in a previous post, see the September 30th post While Watching the Senate.., the Republicans are now taking care of Seniors and Medicare. Interesting how the same words get used by the same party but in different contexts.

In an exchange and surprisingly adult conversation on ABC Sunday Morning, Sen. Schumer (D of NY) and Sen. Cornyn (R. of TX)discussed and agreed on much. Then it came. Sen. Cornyn must have realized he hadn't used any Republican talking points. Someone flipped a switch and the Seniors on Medicare became the victims of... are you ready...hold it comes; "cannibalization". here is the link watch all of it.

How do they do it with a straight face? One minute seniors are cannibalizing; the next minute they are being cannibalized. Law of the Jungle-eat or be eaten? Do you remember Judge Janice R. Brown? I do.

I remember she said that today's seniors were cannibals and wanted all the free stuff they could get. quote here Now I am sure we were aware she was speaking figuratively but my point is the use of the word cannibalize. Judge Brown has a very interesting history both life story and words spoken. More about the 2004 appointments and the arguments here
and see for a speech listing more of the Judges statements

Why did Sen. Cornyn use that particular word? Did someone in the Repub. party do a poll back in 2000 to see if it got significant reaction? Did they decide that seniors did react in disgust so let's use it again but to another advantage?
One more way to scare seniors away from health care reform?

Who knows. I do know I reacted in both cases. I really got incensed when the Judge used it and Sunday I was first surprised then angered by the way it was brought out of mothballs.

By the way if you want some real laughs about words and the way they are used and the way things change check out Pres. G.W. Bush's acceptance speech at the 2004 Republican

Of particular interest to me:
...This changed world can be a time of great opportunity for all Americans to earn a better living, support your family, and have a rewarding career. And government must take your side....

Thanks to our policies, homeownership in America is at an all-time high. Tonight we set a new goal: seven million more affordable home in the next 10 years so more American families will be able to open the door and say welcome to my home.

(Laughter here is allowed. Are we talking about tents? Actually the homes did get more affordable, or rather the "loans" did.)

Sorry, back to the speech:

...Because we acted to defend our country, the murderous regimes of Saddam Hussein and the Taliban are history...

"Mission Accomplished"

So yes, Politicians play with words. But, me thinks the Repubs. are the best at it.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Interesting Take on Defense Spending

More research on Defense as a share of the budget produced this interesting take...
World Military Spending,, Last updated: Sunday, September 13, 2009

">from the Global Issues site

Furthermore, “national defense” category of federal spending is typically just over half of the United States discretionary budget (the money the President/Administration and Congress have direct control over, and must decide and act to spend each year. This is different to mandatory spending, the money that is spent in compliance with existing laws, such as social security benefits, medicare, paying the interest on the national debt and so on). For recent years here is how military, education and health budgets (the top 3) have fared: links to Pres. Bush's 2009 Budget.
The Pie Chart at the top of this post came from this group. The link here will take you to a table as well.

When asking the question why the group's budget analysis is different, the answers are:

Taken from . They are the Friends Committee on National Legislation, A Quaker Lobby in the Public Interest.

Who knew? Here is part of their description:
Who We Are
The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) fields the largest team of registered peace lobbyists in Washington, DC. Founded in 1943 by members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), FCNL staff and volunteers work with a nationwide network of tens of thousands of people from many different races, religions, and cultures to advocate social and economic justice, peace, and good government. FCNL is nonpartisan.
FCNL is also the oldest registered ecumenical lobby in Washington, DC. The organization's legislative priorities and policies are set by a General Committee made up of some 220 Quakers from around the country. FCNL's multi-issue advocacy connects historic Quaker testimonies on peace, equality, simplicity, and truth with peace and social justice issues which the United States government is or should be addressing. 
FCNL is a nonpartisan 501(c)4 public interest lobby. It is neither a political action committee (PAC) nor a special interest lobby. The FCNL Education Fund is a parallel 501(c)3 organization that supports the research, analysis and education for which FCNL is known and respected.

Hopefully, you will have time to look at their numbers and their explanations of the differences among budget analysis'. It is very interesting. I had read some of Mr. Shah's,site, articles before. He is nothing if not thorough. He will make you question and give you much more to research.