I didn't think it was possible --

Someone even angrier than I am.  Below is a post I put on our local paper's forum offering all the local angry conservatives a real reason for being angry:
I wish every elected official from local dogcatcher to Pres. Obama would read this long and angry post that explains not only what a terrible mistake Congress is about to make with "health care reform" but also why "we the people" -- whether Democrat, Republican, or Independent -- SHOULD be angry at all our politicians, media, and especially the corporations that own them.

See http://hunter.dailykos.com/

The crux of our dilemma is that corporations have usurped legal rights that were initially drafted by the founding fathers for "all men,"  and amended to apply to all persons.  The problem comes about by giving a corporation, an artificial "person" that never dies and can have unlimited power of the purse, all the rights originally intended for human beings.  Left and right and all in between need to join forces to take our country back from corporate interests and the politicians they have bought.

RIP, John Hope Franklin

Although his name is not a household word, John Hope Franklin deserves some credit for the progress in race relations that enabled U.S. citizens to elect our current president.  A photo essay here summarizes his academic accomplishments and honors he received.

Sometime last fall, I saw him interviewed on C-Span's Book TV, a program that invites listeners to call in with comments.  Many callers responded with comments thanking Dr. Franklin for his pioneering work in documenting black history.  However, one caller unloaded a tirade to the effect that Dr. Franklin had no right to live in this country.  He calmly but sadly remarked that such comments did not merit a response.  Obviously, the work that he and others began is still not finished, in spite of the fact that we now have a president who is identified with the black minority in our country.

Brave New World...

For some perspective, see http://www.shirky.com/weblog/2009/03/newspapers-and-thinking-the-unthinkable/

In view of Jon Stewart's continued lessons on the shortcomings of journalism as practiced at CNBC, this thoughtful article, comparing our current transition from newspapers to Who-Knows-What is very timely.  The times they are a-changing, and I'm hoping to be alive and with my wits about me long enough to see how some of these new developments play out.

Today's rant...

Although I have no regular readers, I still like to post occasionally.  The following is a letter I just submitted to our local daily newspaper.

Dear Editor,

Two stories in today's paper (“Obama admits 'I screwed up; Daschle nomination gone'” on page A-3 and “Samson: 'I did this on my own'” on page B-1) provide a teachable moment on the subject of conflict of interest. A public official is guilty of conflict of interest when he or she uses the power of office for personal gain. Public officials are elected to serve the common good of the entire population of their constituency, not just themselves and their friends. In both cases, it was worth noting that these politicians both retained the loyalty of their fellow legislators. Is our political process so corrupted by self-serving politicians that they routinely turn a blind eye to conflict of interest?

In Northwest Florida, the public recognized that Rep. Sansom appeared to be using his considerable influence as incoming Speaker of the House to direct millions of dollars to his local community college while accepting a new lucrative job from that college. For once, the press did their job as watchdog of the use of public money by keeping this story alive until it became too hot for him to continue in his leadership position – and possibly pay back all those fellow politicians who had allowed his money grab. Maybe now they can make decisions on the basis of the needs of all the people rather than to whom they owe a political favor.

On the national scene, former Sen. Daschle was forced to withdraw as a nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services on Pres. Obama's cabinet, due to his failure to pay all of his income tax in recent years. The resulting publicity drew attention to the millions of dollars of income he had received immediately after leaving the Senate where he served for years as Democratic Majority Leader. Much of the income had come from the health services industry, which he was being nominated to reform. Could the public expect him to make unbiased policy decisions involving corporations who had contributed so much to his personal wealth? I seriously doubt it. In this case also, his fellow senators seemed ready to confirm him, making yesterday's announcement of his withdrawal strike news organizations as a bombshell. Do our U.S. Senators accept as their right the ability to make personal fortunes through their public office? Is that why the Senate is sometimes called the millionaires club?

Apparently, we the people need to remind public officials continuously that they are elected to serve all the people and not to enrich themselves and their friends.

  • Current Mood

(no subject)

Can't resist angua's geezer meme.  The ones I remember are in bold font.

1 Blackjack chewing gum
2. Wax Coke-shaped bottles with colored sugar water
3. Candy cigarettes
4. Soda pop machines that dispensed glass bottles There were stacks of wooden cases to hold empties.
5. Coffee shops or diners with tableside juke boxes

6. Home milk delivery in glass bottles with cardboard stoppers
7. Party lines
8. Newsreels before the movie
9. P.F. Flyers  (According to Wikipedia, I predate these but I do not remember them, certainly did not own any.)
10. Butch wax
11. Telephone numbers with a word prefix
12. Peashooters
13. Howdy Doody
14. 45 RPM records
15. S&H greenstamps
16 Hi-fi's
17. Metal ice trays with lever

18. Mimeograph paper
(Still used at my school when I left teaching in 1981 -- a factor in the decision!)
19 Blue flashbulbs
20. Packards
21. Roller skate keys

22. Cork popguns

23. Drive-ins
24. Studebakers
25. Wash tub wringers
(Well, a washing machine with a wringer -- rinse tubs required wringing by hand.)
26. Big, little books.

27. Using hand signals for cars without turn signals.

28. Soldering irons you heat on a gas burner.  Soldering is not in my skill set.
29. Pant leg clips for bicycles without chain guards.

30. Real ice boxes.  The kind you had to buy ice for, and wrap it in a blanket so it wouldn't melt on the way home.
31. Head lights dimmer switches on the floor
32. Heaters mounted on the inside of the fire wall.
This was news to me, also.
33. Ignition switches on the dashboard. There was a key switch and [then you pushed] a starter button. You could engage the starter by pushing the button, key or no key.  I don't remember anything like this last sentence describes.

I should be able to out-geezer angua and all her friends, at my age and from my youth on a farm.
  • Current Mood
    nostalgic nostalgic

A Nobel economist who speaks plain, clear English. Read it.

This article in Vanity Fair explains the key factors in our economic disaster as clearly and succinctly as anything I have read.  And early in the comments, someone mentions the erroneous Supreme Court "decision" that resulted in corporations being given the rights intended only for human persons.  I quote:

The die was cast for this disaster way back in 1886.

"Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company, 118 U.S. 394 (1886) was a United States Supreme Court case dealing with taxation of railroad properties. The case is most notable for the obiter dictum statement that juristic persons are entitled to protection under the Fourteenth Amendment." -Wikipedia

This obiter dictum statement, written by a retired railroad president, gave 'citizenship' to corporations. Humans were now confronted with an all powerful and undying adversary. We American citizens never had a chance.

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Clara_County_v._Southern_Pacific_Rail...

Until this 'law' is repealed America will never rise from the ashes. Never!  [end quote]

I read a book about this -- which I cannot reference because I loaned it to someone -- and the truly ironic thing is that the language justifying the obiter dictum was not actually in the Supreme Court Justice's ruling opinion but only in something like an abstract, written by the court recorder.  In other words, it was not actually supported by the Supreme Court justices in their ruling but became precedent anyway.  Unbelievable.  Justice Hugo Black once commented that of all the cases brought to the Supreme Court based on the 14th Amendment, all except one were brought to defend corporations.  This was NOT the supposed intent of the amendment that was passed to protect the civil rights of former slaves.
The wikipedia entry above references the book I read.   Check it out.  The author was trying to provoke an activist movement to reverse the erroneous precedent.  Maybe now would be a good time.

Good enough...

If Obama's foreign policy/national security team is good enough for Mother Jones, it's good enough for me.

Oh, and the New York Times agrees.

The more I see of Obama's governing style, the more I admire his wisdom in pushing for change in ways designed to stimulate the least push-back from his opponents.  It reminds me of the interview with Rachel Maddow when she asked him why he constantly criticized Pres. Bush but never criticized the Republican Party.  His answer:  "You notice, I'm winning." 

Here's hoping he keeps winning this way, and delivers on the most ambitious promise of his campaign -- to end the meanness and rancor of political discourse in this country.  And it just might work.  As he continues to refuse to demonize his opponents, their meanness just becomes more and more obvious.  Well, maybe not to the "ignorant-and-proud-of-it" mind set of the citizens of my corner of northwest Florida, but to the U.S. public as a whole.

  • Current Mood
    hopeful hopeful

My sister has Alzheimer's...

It always makes me sad to visit my sister who suffers from Alzheimer's syndrome.  One reason is that she has always been a particular favorite of mine, mothering me all my life.  Of course I loved my mother and knew she loved me, but there was always some anxiety -- a fear of her criticism or of my falling short of her expectations of me.  But from this sister, I remember only kindness and unfailing affection, and the bond between us has continued since my mother's death almost 24 years ago.

To my shame, I do not visit her and her husband as often as I think I should.  It usually makes me feel frustrated and helpless.  This past week, I spent a few days with them, and actually felt that I not only contributed a bit to making their life easier but gained a renewed awareness of the strong love between us.  Although she has trouble remembering acquaintances she has known well for years, she still recognizes close family members.  She repeatedly expressed delight at our "surprise" visit, although it was not a surprise to her husband at all.  Her memory for daily activities and events has broken down completely; she wants to start a meal whenever she feels hungry, even though it's less than a couple of hours since the last one.  Since her husband had stomach surgery eight years ago, he has to eat small, frequent meals, so meal times and snack times merge into one another in a continuous loop.  Over the last several years, her husband has gradually taken over grocery shopping and cooking.  She continues to do the dishes, washing them by hand in the sink.  If she attempts to put them away, it is an adventure for him to find where they are.

It gives me pleasure to prepare their food when we visit, and she has gradually come to accept it without question or apology.  This wasn't an easy transition, as she was more inclined to want to do things for me than to expect me to do for her.  During this last trip, I tackled the task of organizing her clothes, which was a continuing problem for her husband.  (Is it a masculine trait to have a blind spot when it comes to selecting, laundering, and storing clothes?  My husband shares this inability, probably because, like most of the women in my generation and earlier, I have always assumed complete responsibility for those duties.)

As I hauled her clothes out on the bed in their guest room, she began to resist the project.  Feeling it was her responsibility, she became anxious and didn't want me to "go to all that trouble."  Her husband's idea was that I should assemble the various pieces of an ensemble and then make a picture of it that he could refer to later to recreate it.  At first, I too wasn't sure it was worth the trouble, but as I got into the project, I began to see his point.  My sister has never had a great deal of money to spend on clothes but she had good taste and always looked well dressed when she went out to shop or attend church or other meetings.  As her disease progressed, she was unable to remember what clothes she had, where they were, nor what pieces look good together.  As the tornado a year and a half ago destroyed all their belongings, she does not even have the familiarity of old standbys in her closet.  Her family and friends showered her with many gifts of clothing, some a good deal less appropriate than others.

The more I got into the task and began to enjoy it, like the many hours I spent dressing my large collection of dolls as a child, the more she resisted.  I tried to get her to sit and watch, but she continued to protest.  Finally, I did something I do not usually do; I spoke directly of her difficulty in remembering things and explained that I was organizing her clothes to help her husband manage them.  He likes for her to look nice when she goes out, and he has been frustrated trying to select her clothes.  I told her that if I lived nearer, I could come over once a week and select her clothes for her.  She has always deferred to her husband, and this seemed to put an end to any protests, especially if I'd stop often for coffee breaks.   I'm convinced that she too began to enjoy the shared task and our time together.

At one point, she asked me how old she was when I was born.  I answered that she turned thirteen a few months before I was born.  She told me about an incident that occurred while I was a baby.  Our family was visiting a neighbor family that had a daughter the same age as my sister.  While she and her girl friend were playing on a bed with me as a baby, she realized that she was having her first menstrual period.  That memory came to her from approximately 70 years ago.  Like her, I have a great appreciation of those old memories and was moved by her recollection.  

Later, she astonished me with another unexpected memory.  While admiring a lovely dressy suit trimmed with elaborate floral appliques on the jacket and skirt, I noticed that the jacket had several buttons missing.  I commented that I'd buy some buttons and sew them on the next time I visit.  She replied, "Oh, those buttons are here somewhere," and proceeded to find them in her top dresser drawer among her jewelry.

After we left, she asked her husband if they could afford to move somewhere near my husband and me.  Of course, the answer was "No, not without selling the whole farm."  As she has lived there almost all her life, that is not a feasible option.  But I really must make the trip more often, while there is still so much of the sister I know and love.   


So far, so good...

Since I last posted here, I've spent an enormous amount of time volunteering at our local Campaign for Change headquarters.  My friends and relatives in other states are happy to give me credit -- or blame, depending on their views -- for tipping Florida into the Obama camp.  I'm sure it could have happened without me, but I wouldn't have missed it for anything.  I was too busy to write, but should have, as a wealth of wonderful material is melting away from my memory cells every day.  Maybe I can do something yet.

A friend sent me this link to David Brooks in the New York Times on how wonderful President-elect Obama's transition team is doing in selecting people to help run the new administration.  So far, I agree, although I do lament the lack of lefties, who did so very much to ensure Obama's victory.  My view on that topic is well-expressed by this article by Christopher Hayes in The Nation.  The money quote:

That said, I pretty much agree with Chris Bowers:


I know everyone is obsessed with the "team of rivals" idea right now, but I feel incredibly frustrated. Even after two landslide elections in a row, are our only governing options as a nation either all right-wing Republicans, or a centrist mixture of Democrats and Republicans? Isn't there ever a point when we can get an actual Democratic administration? Also, why isn't there a single member of Obama's cabinet who will be advising him from the left? It seems to me as though there is a team of rivals, except for the left, which is left off the team entirely.

Not a single, solitary, actual dyed-in-the-wool progressive has, as far as I can tell, even been mentioned for a position in the new administration. Not one. Remember this is the movement that was right about Iraq, right about wage stagnation and inequality, right about financial deregulation, right about global warming and right about health care. And I don't just mean in that in a sectarian way. I mean to say that the emerging establishment consensus on all of these issues came from the left. There's tons of things the left is right about that aren't even close to mainstream (taking a hatchet to the national security state and ending the prison industrial complex to name just two), but hopefully we're moving there.

Apparently, it's not enough to be right; you also have to get the whole stupid American  public to agree. 


Scientists Heart Obama

Sen. Obama gives anyone interested in the state of science and technology reason for HOPE, writ large and at length here, where he answers 14 major questions called the Science Debate 2008.  If I knew nothing more about him, this would cause me to become his ardent supporter.  He has the vision and judgment to return our country to a position of leadership in scientific progress, on which nothing less than the future of our species depends.