Archive for February, 2009

The Whole Enchilada

February 27, 2009

Remember my mantra: I am socially liberal but fiscally conservative.  Even though these two basic principles can work against each other, one antagonizing the other, in producing an overall coherent and sound policy, I am accepting of President Obama’s stimulus plan and budget because I DO believe that the time has come not only for addressing and correcting our current state of turmoil, but also for using that platform to institute long overdue, basic philosophical changes to this entity we call the United States of America.  I am not usually a fan of Charles Krauthammer, but his Op-Ed piece in the Washington Post today made a lot of sense to me regardless of the fact that he is very conservative:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/26/AR2009022602908.html?nav=hcmoduletmv

Furthermore, my old favorite, Paul Krugman of the New York Times, made me feel a bit better regarding the inherent dichotomy of  my mantra.  He too, believes that much needed spending for reform and fiscal responsibility CAN be reconciled with each other:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/27/opinion/27krugman.html

On the other side of this recession (and I do hope we will exit this financial meltdown), the best I could look forward to would be a return to more moderate laws that are not so punishing to the small businesses and individuals making over $250,000 per year.  The new laws however, are absolutely necessary right now to get us back on track.  Plus, business enterprises and the top 5% of wage earners have had quite a picnic over the last twenty years.  I am aware that the tax laws and business practices were quite favorable for the wealthy; it was a tidal wave of benefits for the rich in the hope that the economic benefits would trickle down to the middle class and poor.  That never happened.  The gap geometrically widened.  In fact, the middle and lower classes suffered even more as a result of these policies and our changing economic climate.  Since Reagan, each recovery, if graphed, had a lower high than the one before.  The party is over and it is time for the pendulum to swing back.  The tide has turned.

I am willing to trust Obama.  Heaven knows that many of our past Presidents, who promised to take steps to save social programs such as Medicare and Social Security, who felt sympathy for the uninsured of our nation and who vowed to punish such unethical behavior as Enron, Abramhoff and AIG, never once delivered on their promises.  This was the rule for Democrats as well as Republicans.  True: our problems are complicated, expensive to fix and demand even more tedious and difficult answers.

Let us give Obama a chance to rectify what ails us.  His concern is real, he is not jumping into the fire here for ego-fulfillment, and he damn well knows it is a huge gamble.  It is a risk he is perfectly willing to take.  His strongest opponents, the GOP, are accusing him of hijacking our future generations by creating such a large deficit.  Even his allies, those on the Democratic side of the aisle, are assailing his huge budget.  To the GOP I say, come up with something better.  To the Democrats I say quit pussyfooting around: you have merely dipped your toe into the water when the times are calling for your whole foot to be immersed.  President Obama is taking the plunge here.  At least have the balls to back him up.  Give him a chance.

Our government is the only entity big enough to supply our economy with the huge infusion of funds that is necessary to get the credit markets, both corporate and personal, moving again.  The government of the U.S. has always enjoyed a sound credit rating because anytime an investor purchased a government debt instrument, it was always backed by the “full faith and credit ” of the United States of America, which was literally worth its weight in gold.  I hope that this faith and credit continue to be viable in the future.  Special thanks should go to China for putting its money where its mouth is by continuing to purchase our bonds.  Quite frankly, if I were China, I am not so sure I would have as much confidence in our future as they do.  This paradigm says a whole lot about the real standing of our country, and overall, it is still very positive.

But make no bones about it: there are two agendas at work here.  First, the government (for a real lack of anyone else who can step in and assume this overwhelming responsibility) is playing the role of catalyst in getting us moving again.  Like it or not, only the United States government is big enough to jump-start us and get the ball rolling again.  Secondly, Obama IS using this opportunity to make earth-shattering changes to the basic fabric of our economic, social and political policies and programs.  A new blueprint is basically being designed.  Beside the given that he DID earn that mandate on November 4, 2008, he is also riding his popularity wave coupled with our dire straits to push through an all-encompassing agenda.

Another conservative thinker, David Brooks, writing in the New York Times today, calls for Obama to grab the baton and run with it:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/27/opinion/27brooks.html?_r=1

Given the dearth of ideas coming from the GOP and a real belief that his ideas will work, President Obama would have to be a fool not to go for it, the whole kit and caboodle, the whole enchilada.

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Beating a Dead Horse

February 26, 2009

Is my disbelief a rarity, or are any of you also seeing the go-nowhere, backward-looking and self promotion of the Republican party?  Have a look at William Kristol’s Op-Ed piece today in the Washington Post:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/25/AR2009022501756.html?nav=hcmoduletmv

Not once in this article does Kristol mention, or even acknowledge, the suffering our citizens are experiencing: personal and retirement funds all but wiped out, job loss, no health care, no planning for our future generations and no concern for the viability of our nation.  Can you honestly admit that the unemployed worker, the uninsured ailing citizen, the bankrupt homeowner or the devastated investor really cares about the image or standing of the Republican party?  Get real!  Empty heads, empty governance.  I have been through this so many times already.  I know the drill and so do you.  How come the GOP continues to build on their insistence of the status quo and real failure?  I am searching for an answer and the only one I can come up with is laziness and stupidity.  Not surprising though, because those are two adjectives that defined Bush’s eight years as President.

Even major conservative commentators have ripped into the void of the Republican party.  David Brooks’ disbelief at Jindal’s presentation rivals my own:

How does Jindal justify using the abject failure of the Republican Presidency during the Katrina debacle as a model (can you just believe this?) for solving our deep problems?  What world is he in?

Further, Kristol falls prey to the same GOP cheer leading for their own survival over a real concern for helping people.  Look at his last sentence: “In the short term, Republicans need to show a tactical agility and political toughness far greater than their predecessors did in the 1960s and the 1930s. “Else they will fall,” to quote the great conservative Edmund Burke, “an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle,” reduced to the unpleasant role of bystanders or the unattractive status of complainers, as Barack Obama makes history”.  Kristol’s whining over the loss of stature of the GOP coupled with, the fear of all fears, a dread of our new Democratic President finding success and fame, is outrageous.  No where does Kristol address the plight of our populace.  Instead, he continues on the path of elitist power that is a basic premise of the Republican platform.

Kristol is upholding the values and principles of the GOP: stupidity and laziness.  So tell me: how will this blind loyalty to outdated, empty rhetoric help you and me and our nation to recover and prosper?

The Period Versus the Semicolon

February 25, 2009

Call me naive, a bleeding heart and even a believer in fairy tales.  I admit to all of those. Yet, you can not take away from me the awe and respect I continue to feel from Obama’s speech last night.

Read Shakespeare’s St. Crispin’s Day speech, which Dr. No brought to my attention.  The similarities in tone and content regarding Obama’s words are remarkable:

http://www.chronique.com/Library/Knights/crispen.htm

The strength of his convictions, though not a guarantee of success for what is ailing this country, is demonstrative of his overwhelming ability.  Where did this man come from?  His strong concept of self, backed and supported by his great intellect and history of very hard work, belies his upbringing by a single, very young mother in a home where his father was absent.  For all intents and purposes, this man should have been a statistic, not a great leader as he is.  To boot, he is an honest and sincerely caring individual.

Let’s talk about punctuation for a moment.  Bush’s response to the economic meltdown last fall was to push through an antidote consisting of $750 billion.  Well-intentioned, but not well planned or properly supervised, this move was the final “period” on a reign that never dealt with yes, the tedium that complicated problems require.  His bailout package was the last nail in the coffin of his inept tenure, his “period”, his final band-aid to patch our short term problems rather than solve our long term ones.  Surely this final statement of Number 43 was just another of his remedies that had only surface value, not any meaningful implications for our future.

As an aside, let me add that Governor Jindal’s Republican response last night also was steeped in the same superficiality that typified Bush’s eight years.  Jindal does have my heartfelt sympathy though because anyone who had to follow Obama’s speech last night would have never, could have never, risen to the occasion.  That said, Jindal showed the bankruptcy of his party, plain and simple.

I have used the word “strict” many times when describing Obama’s actions.  He was strict once again last night.  He will not abide the wasteful, corrupt spending of corporations who receive TARP funds.  Heaven knows, Bush threw the money , OUR MONEY, out there for the taking and no ethical restrictions were put in place to accompany these bestowals.  As a result, we have been taken to the laundry one more time.  Many of you have forwarded to me Maureen Dowd’s piece from the New York Times today.  I thank you and include it below:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/25/opinion/25dowd.html

We have been put on notice that accountability will have precedence, that these “loans” shall be used to get the credit markets moving again.  The TARP funds shall not be used for outrageous bonuses, junkets and personal perks of top level management.  I believe Obama, who has assigned Biden to be our ultimate watchdog, when he said abuses of the past will no longer be tolerated.

So if George Bush was the “period” in our recent void of governance, President Obama is the “semicolon” in our present and future desire for effective leadership.  A semicolon is used to imply that more will follow.  His plans are ambitious and make sense on paper and ideally, the “more” to follow will be reflective of the deep forethought and tedious mechanics that this administration has poured into their current rescue and reform package.  Now we need to wait and see if these proposals will translate into real solutions.  It is a crap shoot.  We are working without a net because our current circumstances are not a duplicate of any other crisis that came before.  What worries me is that the stock market is tanking once again today.  I view the financial markets as a preview of what is to come.  True, many experts believe the worst is yet to come.  The market discounts the news, good or bad, way in advance of the actual result.  So I worry about today’s fluctuations and fret about the implications for our survival.  Have we just not yet hit bottom?  Are our problems not really fixable?  Will the future bring an even worse scenario than we are anticipating?

I choose to believe that there will be a light at the end of the tunnel, but not without further hardships, sacrifice and compromise along the way.  Once again, call me a Pollyanna if you must.  My intuition and gut feeling, both of which I have come to trust, is telling me differently.  The present state of our union, if allowed to continue, ensures disaster.  We need to see some progress and actualization of Obama’s plan.  This will surely legitimize a renewed hope for a sounder, more ethical and productive nation on all fronts.

Safe and Sound

February 25, 2009

PRESIDENT OBAMA’S SPEECH TO CONGRESS, 2/24/09

This is a Commander.  This is a Chief.  This is a leader.  May he stay safe.

I have never heard a speech like this in my entire life.  We elected the right man.  May he stay safe.

President Obama tonight took his campaign rhetoric and firmly placed it on the front lines of the United States of America.  His dedication to energy independence, health care reform and education betterment will transform us as a nation and as individuals.  We have the blueprint of a new, higher standard laid out before us.  It will be a difficult road to tow, this recovery, and the scars will never be erased, but the opportunity is incredible.  We need to get it right.  President Obama will lead us on that straight and narrow.  May he stay safe.

President Obama’s speech called this our “day of reckoning.”  We can not continue to sacrifice long-term planning and goals for short term profits.  This reflects one of my consistent themes: that carefully designed, well-thought out and monitored implementation of modern policy must have precedence over immediate gratification.

With regard to energy independence, I found myself listening in mid-2008 to T. Boone Pickens, the oil magnate, who spent his own money to pay for an advertising barrage to educate us and make a case for a complete energy overhaul.  Then, when oil prices steeply declined late last year, I did not hear any more from Pickens.  This week, he is back.  Despite the man’s political leanings (and I really do not know what they are) and his past as an oil baron, what he is proposing makes sense.  He explained today that for the U.S. to be at the mercy of foreign oil prices is a total forfeiture of our country’s future.  Instead of paying what is basically a subsidy to oil nations, we need to develop our own resources and alternative energy.  This way then, we would not only stop sending our dollars abroad but also be developing real energy independence.  Obvious by-products would be job creation and measures to battle global warming.  OUR nation should be the only nation we subsidize in energy development.

Obama said the same thing about health care reform tonight.  The skyrocketing costs of health care have caused many business to move overseas and even worse, have made many enterprises just plain go out of business.  As a result of this domino effect, we have lost an incredible number of jobs.  The spiral continues downward, each previous lack of policy causing another brick to collapse.  Over the last decades, it has been simply a fluke that private industry became responsible for our nation’s health care.  This practice is not tenable anymore.  It has never been more obvious than the nose on your face that we need a completely different system, because what we have now is not a system in any way, shape or form.

Obama’s third challenge tonight addressed education.  While two-thirds of our school buildings are in dire need of refurbishment, while we constantly harp on whether or not religion should have a presence in our public schools, while our elected officials never consider education as a real issue because children do not have the vote, we are suffering globally because we are not delivering to our children what they need and ultimately, what we need as a competitive, prosperous and respected nation.  Shame on us.  On a personal note, Obama proved himself to be a man after my own heart: he called on parents to turn off the television, shut down the video games and read to their children.  He spoke to the common sense in all of us, and he also spoke from his role as a father of two young daughters.  He has been there, he has done it, and his rationale is first-hand.

Our past policies (or lack, thereof) on all three of these issues —– energy, health care and education —– has been penny wise and pound foolish.  We concentrated on the immediate results and forewent the hard work and innovation we truly needed to ensure a better future.

This recession has magnified the waste and greed of our ways and Obama is calling us on the carpet here and now.  This stimulus package is only the first step towards recovery; he admitted that there will be more requests for funding.  He appealed to Congress tonight for their help because “we can not consign ourselves to an open-ended recession.”  This recovery IS “government catalyzed,” but at the same time, it is exactly this stimulus that will produce investment, growth and prosperity.  Additionally, when we clean up our own house our international standing will also undergo a rebirth.

As I have said for over a year, this man Obama is eloquent not only in his speech but also in the content of his words.  Every noun, verb, adjective he used, individually and linked together, created an understandable thesis.  His plain explanations are the crowning glory of his eloquence.  Above all, his presentation tonight perfectly balanced the severity of our economic, social and confidence crises with an excitement for a successful, innovative recovery.  His honesty was refreshing; he warned us that this process is going to be slow and will not happen overnight.  He laid out factual, specific plans to ensure our country viability and continuity with accountability.  Tonight’s speech WILL go down in the annals of history as a measure of our 44th President.  If Obama can accomplish what he has set out to do, or at least a major portion of it, his oratory tonight will be the benchmark in the renovation, a new high point, of our country.  If we do this right, we can turn tragedy into wonderful opportunity.

We are so lucky to have this man as our leader.  Two years ago I became very excited about this man Obama because for once in their lives, my children had a national leader who they could actually admire.  Little did I know that this man would be a man for the ages.  Tonight I was awed by the content, delivery and passion of his speech.  President Obama is so right in the place that he occupies now.  He is a gift to all of us.  We need to follow his lead.

May he stay safe.

Oscar Outakes

February 23, 2009

For the first time in decades, I really enjoyed the Oscars last night.  Penelope Cruz, in her acceptance speech for best supporting actress, epitomized the value of honors such as these (about 1:50 minutes into the video):

She summed up what I tried to get across in my tribute to the arts on this site early in January.  Of course, what took her ten seconds, took me two weeks.  She was eloquent and her message was heartfelt.  In this mixed-up, crazy world, the arts are an outlet that promotes enjoyment, harmony and a dissemination of new ideas.

I liked the way the program presented the major acting awards, by having five previous winners in that category speak to each current nominee.  When the five former best actresses took the stage, I was awed.  Sophia Lorens stance with her hand on her hip said it all: we are a power to be dealt with.

I was thrilled for Sean Penn’s win as best actor for portraying Harvey Milk.  Penn was correct: we WILL see equal rights for all prevail over the next few years.  The ban on gay marriage will peter out.  Just as our children of today will say, “Didn’t we always have an African-American President?”, so will our babies ask, “Didn’t we always allow marriage between any two people who loved each other?”

The very dependence of the arts on a public audience allows each of us to become an armchair critic.  So I will dish.  In the beginning of the show, I was wowed by a few of the dresses I saw, namely the beige metallic sort worn by such stars as Penelope Cruz and Anne Hathaway.  However, did almost ALL of the women have to wear that color?  Even Heath Ledger’s mother and sister, who accepted the award for him, wore this now annoying shade of metal.  Sarah Jessica Parker, also in golden beige, should have spent more time on her hair instead of her ta-tas.

All in all, it was a decent show.  I offer praise to Penelope Cruz once again for her simple, but true, words that the arts are “our universal langauage.”

Put On Your Listening Ears

February 22, 2009

I love listening to the radio.  My frequent preference of radio over television allows me to not have to deal with issues such as federally funded visual display makeovers.  Heaven knows we all could do with an improvement in our listening skills.

In my post of 2/24/09 called “I’m So Sorry,” I referred to a funny radio commentary by Dave Ross of CBS regarding the pre-confirmation resignation of Judd Gregg as Commerce Secretary.  I searched for it over the last week and I finally found it to share with you.  Please listen; it is very funny:

http://www.mynorthwest.com/resources/audio_headlines/audio_player.php?a=5686&f=/kiro/2009/02/02132009100423.mp3

Also, Chris Core, whose commentary airs on local station WTOP, had heart-felt thoughts on the subject of Americans no longer being shielded from the photographs of the coffins coming home from Iraq:

http://www.wtop.com/emedia/145495.mp3

In order for real change to occur, real life must be faced.  It is irresponsible for Americans not to view or have no active participation in seeing the horrors of the Iraq War.  Only when we can feel the death and destruction first hand (or at least, second hand), shudder at the senseless results of our folly, will we be able to effect change.  So of course those pictures of our slain young men and women in thier coffins should be made public.  Who are we kidding by hiding the realities of the war?

In line with this thinking, President Obama must be very careful in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Two thoughts come to mind.  First, we need to learn from history and the disastrous failure when the Russians invaded Afghanistan during the 1980’s.  They did not stand a chance against the Afghan warrior mentality and tribal loyalty to local and sectarian rule, both of which still exist today.  Their “occupation” was not only ill-thought out, but there was no exit plan.  As a result, their march into Afghanistan that lasted ten years was one of the major causes of the dissolution of their Communist regime.  Between funding the war in Afghanistan and trying to keep up with the cold war/arms race  with the United States, the USSR bankrupted itself.  If we do commit to a much larger foray into Afghanistan, we are going to have to take a different tack than the Russians did twenty years ago.  The Russian actions did not work then and identical efforts by the United States today also will not be successful.  We need to heed the lessons of the past:

http://www.newyorker.com/arts/reviews/brieflynoted/2009/02/23/090223crbn_brieflynoted3

The other half of the story is a more general outlook on the validity of war.  President Obama will have to balance the need for security with not putting our soldiers in the path of death and destruction.  My tendencies are of the anti-war sort.  Why do we keep on having children if, decade after decade, we continue to subscribe to new wars that take our children away from us?  There must be a better way.  I am hopeful that Obama will find the ultimate answer.  So while he continues to bomb Afghanistan and Pakistan, I hope beyond hope that he is also considering other tactics.  Are there other ways to keep us secure?

President Obama said many times over during his campaign that we need to listen and talk to our “enemies.”  I am worried that if he has resorted to bombing, maybe the listening and talking are not possible.  Could that be?  I refuse to believe that.  Just last week when I was in New York and riding in a cab, I got to speaking with the driver, who came over to this country from Pakistan thirty years ago.  He still has family back in his native country.  His brother, a successful businessman over there, was kidnapped by the radicals and was safely returned after a ransom was paid.  The cab driver said what is vital to ending the extremists reign of terror is simple: they want to talk.  Talk is cheap, doesn’t take any lives and might produce some results.  Why don’t we try it?

Listening: we can practice by turning on the radio.  Talking: put the guns and bombs away.

POSTSCRIPT

After I published this post, I found this article in the New York Times “Week in Review” section today.  Timely, no?

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/22/weekinreview/22levy.html?_r=1&ref=todayspaper

To Live and Die by Television

February 21, 2009

The mandatory advent of digital television is a testament to our nation’s misplaced priorities.  This is amazing to me for two reasons.  Our lawmakers, politicians, lobbyists, and big business came together in a unified front to pass this law and then made available discounts to the public to help them defray the cost of the switch-over.  How come we have not seen this sort of consensus regarding health care?

Foremost, it is comforting on one hand to see our policy makers actually agree on new policy, but on the other hand it is downright unbelievable to witness their convergence to be all about television!  Aren’t we faced with more important issues that need attention?  How callous is it for Congress not to demonstrate their bipartisan power in addressing the health care needs of our citizens?  To ignore this urgency (along with other emergencies such as infrastructure investment, social security reform and educational betterment, just to name a few) is a slap in the face to every single voter.  Moreover, it reveals the vapid stupidity of our lawmakers.  Not totally off the hook for some of the blame are the citizens, many of whom regard their television watching as vital to their well-being.  Many Americans, whether or not due to an increased sense of hopelessness and need for immediate gratification, have found themselves content with this show of consensus over our television viewing.  Maybe they figure that while we can not get any health care programs passed in Congress, the least we can do is better our television pictures.  So minimally, we can die happy and fat in front of our tv sets.  With a hopefully higher death rate as a result of our inactivity in front of our boob tubes, there will be less need for health care.  Genius!  Talk about misguided leadership for a misplaced following.

Secondly, I find it appalling that we can offer our citizens a discount for converter boxes to transform our analog televisions into digital ones.  The concern, effort and available funds to make this switchover happen is so out of line with what we really need.  This is nothing more than a subsidy for being a couch potato.  I do not see Americans being offered any coupons for health care, do you?   How does a legislature absolutely ignore our most basic needs yet offers government funding to keep us satisfied in front of our newly digitalized screens?

I do believe that this battle of real transformational issues is what President Obama will deal with.  Not only will he have to embarrass our lawmakers into taking up these life-and-death issues, but also the American public will have to open their hearts and minds to a different set of priorities.  This analog-to-digital revolution has proven a travesty to our ordering of priorities, and Obama will have to create and promote a solidarity built on common sense and decency to alter our future path.  The clarity and sharp definition of a television picture fulfills nothing of what America needs now.  Instead, it just muddies the picture even more by allowing us to put off dealing with the real, deeper problems.  It is a ruse, but dire economic realities often cause the population to seek solace and escape through “entertainment.”

A good example of non-transformational hype was the supposed life-altering Segway, the personal transporter that came out about a decade ago.  Before its debut, it was hailed as something that would forever change our way of life.  This was nonsensical spin if I ever saw it.  You want transformation?  I give you the Sony Walkman, which made music portable for the first time in history and opened the way for a true revolution in music and devices that deliver music.  But the Segway?  No way.  The damn machine goes twelve miles per hour, neither a good replacement for walking or driving.  Of course, it was a product of private industry, not government funding, so the insanity of it all really did not take away federal funds from other much needed areas.  There was no federal subsidy for the Segway mania.

How proud Americans must feel of our fractional democracy actually coming together over our television habits.  Quite frankly, I find it embarrassing, degrading and insulting that the larger issues at hand were passed over and remain unresolved.

Baseball: Exempt and Bankrupt

February 18, 2009

Major League baseball is in deep trouble.  Their woes are directly reflective of our economic and ethical abysses.

A-Roid (as the Daily News has dubbed Alex Rodriguez) has demonstrated a lack of any personal sense of responsibility while making the life choice of stupidity and money over ethical matter.  What else is new?  Bud Selig, MLB Commissioner, likewise has sat back, allowed the taking of illegal substances to flourish, and basically with a wink and a definite nod, reaped the material benefits of MLB and ensured an ethical exemption as well for the owners.

Like the greasy politicians of today, MLB considers itself above the law.  It started with baseball’s anti-trust exemption as decided by the Supreme Court in 1922:

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C04E7DD163BF937A15751C1A962958260

Big oil way back when, At&T and Microsoft got the wind knocked out of their sails by violating anti-trust statutes.  However, MLB, because it is the overrated, under-monitored “national pastime”, became the only entity in the country to be and exist as a monopoly.  All the other professional sports organizations i.e. the NHL, NFL, etc., must abide by the law of the land that demands competition.

So it is hardly surprising that illegal steroid abuse has flourished in baseball.  Further, our obsession that our “national pastime” is so sacred that it DESERVES to be above the law adds fuel to the fire in the use of banned substances.  It is simply a fairy tale that we have created and imbued with phony worth.  In this particular incident, the outrage seems to be that the crime was not steroid use, but the “leaking” of the confidentiality of the abusers.  The anti-trust exemption needs to be reversed and MLB should be subject to the same laws of this nation that everyone else is.   Maybe then individuals like Bud Selig, A-Rod, Barry Bonds, basically everyone and their mother, will, in light of the absence of their personal integrity, be accountable to the laws of the land.  Let’s not kid ourselves: football, hockey, basketball and as yet, untouchable professional golf, all include players with vastly over-sized with distorted bodies.

MLB is, by law, financially exempt and thus, feels no remorse in its moral bankruptcy.  This holier-than-thou stance would probably exist even if the anti-trust exemption was removed.  After all, look at the state of our country.  Just like our politicians, bankers and hedge fund gurus, MLB is symptomatic of a much larger, more serious default of personal morality and civic obedience.  Why does this sound so sickeningly familiar?

Ho-Hum

February 16, 2009

Oh my!  Don’t people ever learn from prior mistakes?  Apparently not.

Here we go again:  it is hardly ever the actual deed, but rather the cover-up, that invariably time and time again does in the politician:

http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/02/15/burris.blagojevich/index.html

Is Burris living in a world with no reference to history?  Watergate was bad enough, but it was the cover-up that led to Nixon’s resignation.  The Monica Lewinsky scandal was disgusting.  However, there was nothing criminal about that specific activity that took place in the Oval Office.  It was Bill Clinton’s lying about the proceedings that got him impeached.  Likewise, Burris did nothing wrong by being at one end of a request  for $10,000 for the Illinois Senate seat: a person has no control of what other lunatics might say to or offer him.  His crime is in not making it known BEFORE his appointment that such graft was demanded of him.  If he would have fessed up before the appointment, this little incident would be meaningless.

Ho hum.  These cover-ups serve to magnify the disregard and disdain public servants have towards decency.  So who do you think will replace the junior Senator from Illinois in the Senate?  Quite a term of tenure he served, right?

War Redux

February 15, 2009

In my post of 2/09/09, “Scared S***less”, I referred you to Tom Ricks’ thoughts on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Ricks has a piece in the “Outlook” section of the Washington Post today:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/13/AR2009021301648.html?nav=hcmoduletmv

Go ahead and read it.  His premise that the major events of the Iraq War haven’t even happened yet was one of the most unsettling and frightening things I have read.  He explains thing well.  Sooner or later we are going to have to address the situation in Iraq and if you are interested in the outcome, Ricks will help you understand where we are coming from and where we need to go.  Knowledge helps, but I am still scared s***less.