Tuesday, February 23, 2010

More on We Want but...

I may have to eat my words.

As an update to my rant I add these points that may be of interest.
In my own fine state, it appears we close schools while keeping a nice tax break for large boats, I call them lake yachts. According to a report in the KC Star we cannot be sure of the costs to the state,

In the last seven years, the state auditor has asked the Revenue Department three times to come up with such a figure, but revenue officials declined, maintaining that it would “increase the burden of reporting on taxpayers.”

As recently as last month, the auditor noted that “the cost in terms of reduced state revenue for each exemption cannot be determined.”

Read more: In a time of budget cuts, yacht sales sail through untaxed in Missouri - KansasCity.com link

And go to this link for a few states that handled their budget problems differently. Just look for the section marked State Progressives in bold type. In that section will be many more links if you want to be sure of what you read.

Maybe some are willing to pay for what they want. Maybe just maybe I will have to eat my words.

Friday, February 19, 2010

We want but ...

One very long rant here.
Let's see the Neo-cons are back; the Glen-Beck nut-cases are out in force; Limbaugh is still mouthy; Bohner wants to be Speaker of the House; Left Progressives are not happy we didn't just leave the wars; the jobless want jobs; the greedy Bankers want less regulation; big Pharma is sorry it wasted its lobby money; Insurance companies want to insure many more people but without losing any money; we do want the Federal Government to be responsible for making jobs; we do want the Feds to do something about the deficit; we don't like Federal debt; we don't want foreign governments taking our jobs; we don't want foreign corps to own everything; we want security from terrorists both foreign and domestic; we want the right to carry anywhere; we want tougher law enforcement; we want Gitmo closed; we don't want trials “in the homeland” for the terrorists, so-called; we don't want our schools closed; we want a better education for our kids; we want our health care; we want corp. greed punished; we want free speech for all and we do mean all; we want the biggest military-industrial complex in all the world; we want to sell weaponry but we don't want it used; we don't like Social Security unless we are at or near retirement; we need to “fix” Medicare; we want a cleaner environment; we don't want to spend on energy research; we want credit but we don't want big banks to get bigger; we want to get rich on Wall Street. After the fiasco of Greenspan, with his belief in Ayn Rand's separation of economy and state, people are reading Ayn Rand for guidance. (Congressional testimony)( Rand follower ) Oh I know he wasn't a true objectivist. He tried to apply the theory from within. Well, maybe he still is. He did say he saw a flaw but he didn't know how important the flaw or how long it would last.

We want a lot but we don't want taxes raised in any form to pay for anything. We don't even want to cut back on what we already take from the environment. We don't even want to admit that we are responsible for any environmental changes this old world is suffering; that population growth, therefore energy needs grow, is causing some of it. We want bankers, corps, and the fed punished in some way but we want to give all organizations extra free speech. We want Congress to quit taking money for elections from all the interest groups but we want the CEO's able to run ads against or for them and able to threaten them more than they already do. We don't want to give $5 each for election campaigns to lessen the impact of the organizations. We want Congress to pass laws but we don't want our party to give to the other party. We don't like Wall Street investment firms or banks but we want to get our share first. We want to invest but we don't want to know that great investment is financing wealthy foreign corps. We want balanced budgets in our cities, states, and federal government but we don't want to pay more taxes when so many are unable to pay their share. We value families but we want the other guy to work longer hours and more days so he can't spend time with his. We want a great army but no draft. We want people to quit going to ER for the things they should just be going to the Dr.'s office but we don't want to pay for it either.

And when all is said and done we want to throw the bums out because they can't do all these things on nothing. We want to throw the bums out for taking lobby money or the promise of future jobs but we don't like to give them pay raises. We want to throw the bums out for not working together but my congressman/woman needs to be tough, code for stand up for my point-of-view, because I am a conservative, libertarian, progressive, or liberal. We don't like them adding “pork” except for my state. Just what new bums will you believe when they tell you they are going to change Washington. Seems we have heard that before.

This new President too needs to be tough or not depending on who you are. He should or should not talk about the facts from the previous administration. The mess is his now. He should be positive not tell us the truth, We Will have to give some and pay more. If he is really tough maybe he will have to inform us that he tried something and failed. FDR, in the eyes of many, did some great things but he did have to try different ideas and some got knocked down right or wrong. He made some grave errors.
President Obama tried to learn from past Presidents. He let Congress try to put together it's own health care reform. Wasn't that supposedly partly what went wrong with the Clinton health care bill-he didn't let Congress have more say so. Wasn't the Executive Branch out of hand in the previous administration? Didn't that administration get called “the Imperial Presidency”? Weren't there times President Bush was called “King George”?
The new Attorney General needs to quit trying to be a guy who believes in the law until he figures out how to be more political. The Treasury Secretary needs to go because he is too familiar with all that went wrong. No way can he use that information to find a better way. He can wait like others then acknowledge his mistake in believing less regulation was the way to go The head of the Fed. Needs to relinquish power to someone else-but who? The Treasury, the FDIC, who should take the regulation on? Congress?

Here are a couple of anecdotal stories so you can more personally relate to the mess in which we find ourselves.
There is a large county here that is about to close many schools. Parents and non-parents attend meetings to try to stop their school from closing. Their reasons are good reasons. But they either can't or won't offer more funding. The Mayor of K.C., MO has said basically if you don't want some service cut then tell me what you do want cut. Smart man. Not popular for a lot of reasons, but he is “tough”.

Here is another state answer to budget problems.
“Mississippi’s governor is proposing to cut state aid to K-12 schools by over 9 percent, close four mental health facilities, and cut most other agencies’ budgets by 12 percent.” (ref here and pdf here ) The pdf file shows the rankings of “input”, money and the educational results therefrom.

So here we are. We want but don't want. We have our hands out but we don't want other people's hand s out. We want a balanced budget but we don't want to contribute any funds. We want seniors to take less Medicare now but we don't want to take care of them later either. They should help out their kids now or at least get out of the way but when they are in the last years who will pay for their care? Won't it cost more later? We don't like Social Security taxes because we might not get it but we forget it was a pay backwards system in the first place. Don't want your parents living with you from retirement or disability-then pay backwards. Trust me most parents don't want their kids living with them long term or vice versa. We are not the Waltons.

Now do you want to run for office on any level let alone be President. He will get most of the blame for anything not done, or done that someone doesn't like, and in the short term little praise for any small step forward.

Well, I guess he asked for it. I still think though there was probably a minute when he won election with all the newest messes breaking that he asked if there was any way out of the job.

The “beast” is starved and yet enlarged. Let's just hope our debtors are the kind who don't break legs when we can't pay our bills. And when all services are cut I hope you can stay home to take care of your family.
I hope you can educate your own kids, I hope you can nurse your sick, I hope you are in shape to raise your own food or within walking distance to your source of food. I hope your water wells or rivers are clean when you walk down with your water bucket and your dirty laundry-no droughts please. I hope you enjoy your outhouse or the ditch along the paths. Maybe you can barter for some paper to use instead of those rough leaves. Believe me this would not be a fun life. Been there done some of it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Blogs of Old and Books of Today

While doing further research on another brilliant idea I have, I thought I would go ahead and post this on a book I found.

The other day I found a beautifully bound book Every=Day Thoughts by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, W.B. Conkey Company, Chicago; 1901.

When I removed it from the shelf at our local used book store, I had no idea who Ella W. Wilcox was. The reason I took it from the shelf was the binding. Then I took a further look, a glance at a page or two or more. I had a hard time stopping.
It occurred to me it was a “blog” of 104 “posts” from 1901.

Of course upon further investigation at the computer, I learned about Mrs. Wilcox. She was a poet, everyday man's poetry and she was a philosopher. Actually she was a follower of theosophy. That is a mixture of religion and philosophy.
In her poem “Solitude” she wrote the famous line” laugh and the world laughs with you; weep and you weep alone”. (As you read the wikipedia biography you will find a mention of Sinclair Lewis and Babbitt. Apparently Mr. Lewis did not consider Mrs. Wilcox a great literary genius.)

Many of the “posts” contained in the book are short and to the point. Most are just 2 or 3 short pages.
The author covers many subjects. Most of her writings in this book are in answer to questions posed by her followers, readers. She uses her poetry as a means in some chapters.

Though she considers herself to be a “religious” person, she writes about “Our Empty Churches” (Chapter LX) in response to a young woman
“...telling us that New Yorkers are pagans, because sixty-five percent of us do not go to church.” She answers with some of her theosophy answers. “Every day I am newly surprised to find people I had supposed to be given over to creeds, or to agnosticism, sweeping into line with the great army of devout and forceful thinkers in this new school of theology.”(p. 200)

I put the previous paragraph in here to get your attention. Now that I have it. Here is another “Blog of Old” excerpt in which the Mrs Wilcox gives advice to someone seeking guidance about his unfaithful wife:
“It is one of life's terrible jests, when a man with so much soul and heart and feeling, is mated with a frivolous and worthless woman-- a woman so devoid of the power of appreciation of God's greatest blessings, that she can give up such a love for the cheap pleasures of a third-class theatrical career.”(p. 114)

She writes about “love affairs”. She offers advice to mothers, wives, and husbands on things such money matters, disrespectful children. She writes in one chapter of the need of moderation between seeking poverty or seeking extreme wealth. The author devotes one “Blog post” is on the care of animals. Lest you be misled by the quotation above she is very much for women earning their own way when they have talent.

In all her posts Mrs. Wilcox preaches patience with the changing world. She encourages cleanliness, smiles, and forgiveness. And, thus far in reading from this “blog of old”, I find only one mention of reincarnation. I have not read it all-I hesitate to do so. This book is old and even reading it causes it problems. So I now have to figure out how to keep it in good shape and yet read from it.

In another book written by Mrs. Wilcox, poetry, you will find beautiful, really, “photographic life studies”. Maurine is the title.
hereis the Google Books link.

If you can find some of her “columns”, you will probably find as I have she is a nice person with a “religion” that is quite different. What an interesting person she must have been.

I enjoy these “old blogs” we sometimes call books. But in particular, this book by Ella Wheeler Wilcox is so much like blog posts it is eerie. It also reminds me of some of the books of today-put together and published collections of columns of so-called pundits, or …

The first time I bought a “book” by a present-day columnist, I was disappointed to find it was really nothing but a compendium of columns they had written. I thought I was going to get more of the reasons the columnist writes what he or she writes. I know they are really great writers but hey books are not cheap these days so at least warn me. ( I know I should have checked it out better before I paid good money for it-I was in a hurry.)

Yet, I bought the old one and was thrilled. So, I guess if I can enjoy the “Blogs of Old” I should be more open about the “Books of Today.” After all they are both suited to those of us with short attention spans.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Balanced News? Don't Ask Me

This started out to be a post on Congress and ineptitude. Then it was about Congress taking over too much power. Then I wanted to write about both parties in Congress saying no to the Exec. Branch. (Rants)
But the more I researched an article I'd read the more I saw another post all together. Then even that changed to what you find below.
Sorry, this is a very long post but I don't want to shorten it. I thought about making it two posts but I don't want to interrupt the flow. I am not really sure how to break it up either. Consequently, the post is extremely long and time consuming. Just what a post should not be. Time is a valuable commodity these days.

Even when you try to get truly balanced news, you end up in a conundrum. (More Circles of Confusion) How does one tell which coverage is balanced? Don't ask me. I don't know. I am actually asking you.

Let's agree for purposes of this post that over-the-air TV and the 24-hour, cable or satellite, coverage is generally short and sweet. But they may give you enough information to seek out more in other news venues. The morning talk shows, the cable, satellite, “news” shows, will sometimes give another little piece of information whether right, center, or left. Now you are on your own. So you read papers or you go on-line and you take a time to check a little more for yourself. Yet, how do you know which article or writing is even trying to be balanced? You may find as I did you'll end up reading an article, trying to find more by and about the author of the article, trying to figure out who his/her real boss is, trying to find out for what the boss really stands(mission statements, other outlets, etc.). Too there are the weekly news magazines and “news” shows but I don't think you want me to get into that.

You could well spend a day or more doing all that investigation and determine you cannot find one person, place or thing that does not have an agenda, thereby a slant when covering the same news item. Of course I remember about psychological testing having, can't help but have, some subjective bias. With the use of statistics, use of large samples, and use of tests that can be replicated, the bias is lessened. However in reporting, writing, and editing, I figure there is bias-No matter how hard the people involved try to give balanced reporting. The reasons are many and the bias not always intended. The reader too comes to each article with a certain bias.

Now on with my search on a story about the Senate passing a bill on Iran Sanctions. The House had passed their version earlier. The two bills must be reconciled in the House-Senate Conference before going to the President.

While reading the NY Times on-line the other day, I saw this coverage: Senate OK's Sanctions on Iran's Fuel Suppliers. link Here is the first paragraph to get you started:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Senate on Thursday approved legislation that would let President Barack Obama impose sanctions on Iran's gasoline suppliers and penalize some of Teheran's elites, a move aimed at pressuring Tehran to give up its nuclear program.
(Note the use of the words “let President Barack Obama...”)
Please read the article further. At least read the other restrictions section near the end of the article.

I will give you one restriction as it pertains to some of the other articles I found:
Require the Obama administration to freeze the assets of Iranians, including Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, who are active in weapons proliferation or terrorism;
(Note the use of the words “Require the Obama administration...)

Remember these two quotations were found in the same news item.

Now look at this one from Baptist Press: Senate OKs tougher sanctions on Iran.
Here is the first paragraph:
The U.S. Senate approved increased sanctions on Iran's oil-related imports Jan 28 in a move intended to help prevent the extremist Islamic regime from developing nuclear weapons.

Further into the article :
The Senate's action came two days after Land and 45 other Christian leaders wrote to members of the body asking them to follow the example of the House.
(Land is Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. For further on the letter and those 45 others go here

From an articleYESHIVA WORLD NEWS: Schumer Announces Passage of Iran Sanction Legislation that Strengthens Efforts To Stop Iran From Getting Nukes
first paragraph:
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2009 has unanimously passed the Senate. The Iranian regime has engaged in serious human rights abuses against its own citizens, funded terrorist activity throughout the Middle East, pursued illicit nuclear activities posing a serious threat to the security of the United States, the Middle East Region, and our allies. The Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act strengthens sanctions and supports the President as he pursues a dual track of engagements and sanctions. Schumer, in his role as a Banking Committee member, was instrumental in seeing the bill come to the floor for a vote. The House passed a much narrower sanctions package in December while the two bills now have to be conferenced, Schumer is vowing to fight to ensure the stronger Senate Language prevails.
(Note these words “strengthens sanctions and supports the President...”)

The article mentions a Sense of Congress on human rights and the like.

Turns out Sen. Schumer signs letters to the President also.
Two weeks ago, Schumer signed onto a letter from Senator Even Bayh urging President Obama to consider using sanctions on the books. (I think they meant to consider using the sanctions he had at hand)

You can read the whole letter at the end of the article.

Catholic press 
A very short one paragraph coverage by one of the Catholic press. Mainly it refers to Catholic leaders Bill Hudson and Bill Donahue, members of the above mentioned Christian Leaders for a Nuclear-Free Iran, and they supported and will continue to work for a nuclear free Iran. They do get two links to articles they wrote on the subject.

At this point I looked for world-view items. HereAl Jazeera English had an older article.
First Paragraph:
The US lower house of congress has approved legislation to levy sanctions on foreign companies that help supply fuel to Iran, as part of efforts to punish Tehran over its nuclear programme.

Further on there are interviews with Congresspeople about the bill. Issues are raised about the “concerns” of “U.S. Trading partners and allies...” And an interview with “Afshin Rattansi, a journalist based in Iran, told Al Jazeera: "I think what is happening in the House of Representatives demonstrates yet again a complete lack of comprehension of what is happening in the Middle East.”

There are more interviews with “supporters” and more reporting on the world views as well as a little of the Iranian views of its “nuclear programme”. The article ends by naming some of the companies involved and how they are reacting.

IPS, Inter Press Service News Agency,-The Story Underneath, had a lengthy article.
US: Obama Losing Control of Iran Policy
Here is the opening paragraph:
In a surprisingly swift move on Thursday night that could have wide-ranging implications, the U.S. Senate passed a bill containing broad unilateral sanctions to punish foreign companies that export gasoline to Iran or help expand its domestic refiner capabilities.

These paragraphs relate back to the words “let” and “require” as mentioned in the NY Times article:
The contents of the bill require the president to impose the wide-ranging sanctions, restraining the traditional presidential foreign policy waiver to a line-by-line exemption that forces Obama to spend political capital. ... Another aspect of the Dodd bill raising eyebrows is the codification into law of an embargo against Iran by Pres. Bill Clinton in the 1990's. The Dodd bill requires Congress to approve the lifting of the embargo.

This writer, reporter, goes into more on the “human rights” debates. (I recommend you hunt that part.)
The article has much explanation of the maneuvering and has quotations from both Democratic and Republican Senators along with “neoconservative independent Joe Lieberman”. There are interviews with a member of the National Iranian American Council and other groups that support engagement with Iran.

So there you have it 6 articles from 6 different news agencies. Now you tell me which one we should declare as “fair and balanced”. (speaking of “fair and balanced”, I couldn't find much on the Senate passage subject on FOX news I found the AP item and so far 3 anti-Obama comments. If you find more feel free to comment.) I did not search the British news for this post. I am sure it would be interesting, but I really do have a little daily life.

(For a fun look at reporting from the BBC go to sobeale blog and watch the video posted on January 31.)

Hereis a serious look at the state of journalism.