Saturday, January 26, 2008


*I am beside myselves – Former football great Hershel Walker reveals in a new book that he suffers from multiple personality disorder. In the extreme it would be defined as a disorder yet each of us have multiple personalities. We are subtly to demonstrably different as a spouse or a parent, in our work or hangin’ with friends, when we go to the doctor or place a bet at a casino. I bring this up because the people we elect to represent us also have multiple (varying) personalities and the one that we see campaigning is apt to be much different than the one that affects policies and enacts laws. Whom we see on the stump may actually be a chump. I have been leaning toward one particular candidate but learned this week of some votes cast in the past that raise questions for me. Possessing some knowledge of a candidate’s past actions will tell us a lot more than what we get from the overload of sound bites rained down upon us from our television sets. For each of us there will not likely be a perfect candidate but, a democracy does require compromise. At best we can try to be informed so that our final decision is not compromised solely by a candidate’s personality.

*Dinner with the Clintons ~ satiated – You know that feeling one gets following a holiday meal? One more bite and you are certain that you will explode. That is the feeling I have about Bill and Hillary Clinton. Enough is enough. I have commented that I felt Bill was a decent president. I will not forget his loose zipper and the very questionable pardons he granted at the end of his presidency. These examples are not G.W. Bush destructions of the fabric of our country but character flaws that remind one of a fabric that causes a nagging itch. What bothers me the most, however, is the current Hillary Clinton presidential campaign that is heavily funded by special interests (as are some other candidates to varying degrees, unfortunately) and managed by philosophical reprobates better suited for the Republican Party of dirty tricks and questionable campaign ethics. As Bill’s recent statements attempted to revise history (such as his claim that he did not support the invasion of Iraq) and as Hillary’s campaign appears to be one huge scripted stage production, I am Bushed and Clintoned out. It is almost 20 years since the White House had a different name in residence. Burp.

*Responsible leadership – There has been a recent spate of letters falsely claiming that Barack Obama is a Muslim. One target of these letters is the Jewish community. At a time when “religion” from the political right is polluting the national discourse I was pleased to see an intelligent, responsible and adult response to the attack on Obama. Seven Jewish U.S. Senators issued a statement against such attacks and said, in part, “Over the past several weeks, many in the Jewish community have received hateful emails that use falsehood and innuendo about Senator Barack Obama's religion and attack him personally. As Jewish United States Senators who have not endorsed a candidate for the Democratic nomination, we condemn these scurrilous attacks... All voters should support whichever candidate they believe would make the best president.” The signers are Senators Carl Levin, Barbara Boxer, Ben Cardin, Russ Feingold, Frank Lautenberg, Bernie Sanders, and Ron Wyden.

*The fine print – is a very interesting web site founded several years ago my Michelle Leder. “Each day, the site takes a closer look at the things that companies try to bury in their routine SEC filings.” It is read by financial money managers and analysts and it is a place to perhaps see what is going on with a company you work for or invest in. Examples of her finds: Countrywide gives President and COO David Sambol $2.62 million promotion bonus and country club membership just before stock implodes; Hair-salon chain Regis Corp. doles out more than $2 million worth of goodies to relatives of corporate executives; Morgan's Hotel Group adds $30,000-a-month Manhattan apartment to new CEO Fred Kleisner's $750,000 salary; I2 Technologies, a troubled software company, spends almost $1 million ferrying former CEO Michael McGrath between his Maine home and its Dallas headquarters; Qwest Communications CEO Edward Mueller sends his step-daughter to high school on a private jet. It may be a footnote but we “note” who foots the bill.

*Sometimes the truth hurts – A Canadian training manual for its diplomats inadvertently became public. The following countries were identified as nations that torture: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United States, Afghanistan, Israel and China. (A spokesman for the Israeli embassy in Ottawa said the Israeli Supreme Court was "on record as expressly prohibiting any type of torture".)
Update: Under heavy pressure from the U.S. ambassador to Canada, the U.S. was removed from the list. Canadian Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier said that, “he regretted the embarrassment caused by the public disclosure of the list and promised it would be changed to reflect the Canadian government's official position.” I did not notice my embarrassment abate because of Canada’s “official” position.

*Non-violent conditions in Iraq ~ don’t ask – In an unusually cold winter in the Middle East residents of Iraq are particularly hard hit. There is a lack of water, a lack of electricity and a lack of heat. “Little kerosene is available on the state-run market at the subsidized price of $0.52 a gallon. But the fuel can be found on the black market, where it goes for more than $3.79 a gallon... An average household needs at least 1.32 gallons a day to stay warm, which translates into a monthly expense of $150, or half what an average Iraqi earns.” Since January 1st temperatures at night nave fallen below freezing. Success in Iraq requires going well beyond reducing violence but the Bush spokespeople seem blind to the needs of the Iraqi people when measuring “success”. Recall President Bush saying that his invasion of the country was in part to help the Iraqi people. Ask an Iraqi how they have been helped. Bring gloves.

*I didn’t know that – Living in the United States we take the English language for granted. I am sure that none of us imagine a day when “our” language would disappear. Yet, a U.N. report says that “one language disappears across the world every two weeks.” An example of this loss is taking place in the village of Ayapan in Tabasco, Mexico. Two men in their 70s, the last speakers of the indigenous language Zoque, have drifted apart and are no longer talking to each other. It is humbling that little if anything on our planet is forever. I wonder how these two men feel about the impending end of their language line. I wonder how our behavior would be altered if we each had a true sense of our transience?

*Flash Observations:
~Chuck Norris says that he supports Huckabee because McCain is too old for the job. He says that the presidency ages a person faster than normal because of the demands. If elected, McCain would be 72 at his inauguration. I don’t care much for Norris’ acting or politics but I tend to agree that the age of 72 is a bit old to begin the most demanding job in the world.

~If you are not offended by Huckabee’s desire to integrate church and state maybe another matter will get your attention. In 1993 he had no problem addressing the Council of Conservative Citizens (while Lt. Governor of Arkansas), a white supremacist group. An excerpt from their Statement of Principles: "We also oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind, to promote non-white races over the European-American people through so-called "affirmative action" and similar measures, to destroy or denigrate the European-American heritage, including the heritage of the Southern people, and to force the integration of the races." I guess the part about all of us being created in the image of God is open to opinion in the mind(less)-set of these miscreants.

~The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is refusing to provide Congress with a full explanation of why it rejected California’s greenhouse gas regulations. Amidst the smog of reasoning is the fact that the Bush-appointed EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson went against the opinion of EPA employees and scientists in this ruling in favor of the lobbying efforts of the U.S. oil and auto industries. Congress is investigating and late this week Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) proposed legislation that would override the EPA decision.

~I find it interesting that many of those opposed to abortion as well as those seeking to legally expand human rights to an embryo (currently a proposed law in 20 states) have so little to say or interest in the welfare of that embryo once born. To advocate the sanctity of life but not the sanctity of the living is incongruous to me.

~The Center for Public Integrity researched the number of false statements made by the Bush administration leading up to the invasion of Iraq. From the report: “...the 935 false statements painstakingly presented here finally help to answer two all-too-familiar questions as they apply to Bush and his top advisers: What did they know, and when did they know it?

~Quote of the Week - Editor of the LA Times Jim O’Shea was pushed out of his job this week because he opposed budget cuts and the way that the parent company Tribune newspapers allocate resources. He said, “We need to tell readers more about Barack Obama and less about Britney Spears.” I applaud this adult approach to news reporting.

*Freedoms Under Attack – Unbeknown to most of us, organizations such as Save the Internet are working diligently to protect us from cable and telecommunication companies illegally blocking free speech and greedily and insidiously hindering free choice to enhance their power and their wealth. Some examples:
· In October 2007, the Associated Press busted Comcast for blocking its users' access to peer-to-peer file-sharing networks like BitTorrent and Gnutella. This fraudulent practice is a glaring violation of Net Neutrality.
· In September 2007, Verizon was caught banning pro-choice text messages. After a New York Times expose, the phone company reversed its policy, claiming it was a glitch.
· In August 2007, AT&T censored a live webcast of a Pearl Jam concert just as lead singer Eddie Vedder criticized President Bush.
· In 2006, Time Warner's AOL blocked all emails that mentioned -- an advocacy campaign opposing the company's pay-to-send e-mail scheme.
· In 2004, North Carolina ISP Madison River blocked their DSL customers from using any rival Web-based phone service.
As a nation we are becoming aware of the cost to society of businesses being allowed to become too powerful. This observation applies not only to telecommunication companies but to other industries as well - with special attention to financial institutions, energy companies, health insurers and pharmaceuticals. I anticipate that over the next several years the American people will demand that Congress (which is a part of the problem through self-interest and cronyism) legislate alterations to the unfettered power of corporate industry that has taken root. I expect that there will be a more diligent policing of the abuse exhibited by these entities. It will be an opportunity to verify our democracy’s viability.

*Remembering Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
~A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.~History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.
~Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness
~The time has come for America to hear the truth…

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

right on, Steve-a-rino! Interesting op-ed in today's Times about Caroline Kennedy endorsing Obama. She's certainly right we need Inspiration. Inspire me! - Ruth Z Deming