Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ducking the Fastball, or Stepping Out of the Box

Johan Santana, it seems, will pitch for the Mets in the other league next year.

Oh happy day.

Apparently he will not be a Yankee pitcher, nor a problematic and possibly disruptive addition to, if not imposition on, the Boston Red Sox pitching staff, already thought of as one of the best pitching rotations in major league baseball.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper.

Monday, January 28, 2008

A Blog Carnival Wed, 1/30/08

There will be a blog carnival this Wed, called Soup to Nuts Progressive Dinner. Please click on the Blog Village banner on this blog to learn more.

There are six hosts and hostesses for six dinner courses.

Should be fun. Check it out.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The State of the Earth

If the electorate of the USA could speak as one and make a State of the Earth speech at the UN in October, 2008, what would be its focus, what would be its message and what would be its recommended solution? That would depend on what happens to the earth, its peoples and Americans between now and then.

Will the State of the Earth be much the same as it is now, or will there be an event or series of events which alter it, incrementally or dramatically?

Will Bush attack Iran? Clearly he will not pull the troops out of Iraq. What about the Israeli/Palestinian volcano, will it be quieting down or erupting?

One would think that the electorate would react negatively to more aggression, but Bush rode the Fear Talk Express in 2004 to an astonishing re-election victory.

The political focus these days seems to have shifted from Iraq to the likelihood of a recession. This actually might be good for the Democrats. People are not especially forgiving when they are suffering from challenged checkbooks.

I don't see fear talk being particularly effective on this issue, though the GOPhers always try to scare people by painting the Dems as tax and spenders. But in bad times Dems are more likely to work to help people in financial stress than GOPhers, who usually find it more useful to mind their manners by sending bread and butter thank you notes to their gifters on the letter head of IRS stationary, with Form 1040 logo.

The Dems can point to the surplus Bush inherited from Clinton, which he quickly burned through by paying for a war now widely seen as at least unnecessary, if not tragic. At the same time he reduced taxes which benefited the super rich.

Tax and spend? The GOPhers increased the income gap between the rich and the Middle Class, by giving the super rich,, those they most identify with, their cronies and benefactors, tax reductions which many say they don't need.

Loyalty is everything to this corrupt crowd, what I call the elected mafia. The extended family is not only protected, but honored with the Medal of Freedom, and uber alles super lucrative and non-compete arrangements and contracts.

Dems can focus on the transparent cynicism of the privileged at the expense of the disadvantaged. This doesn't play as well when voters are not especially financially worried, but it does resonate in recession times.

There are other issues of course: For starters, the need to interrupt the alternating House of Bush, House of Clinton White House squatters, the secretiveImperial Presidency of Bush/Cheney/Rove, the invasion of privacy via illegal wiretaps, the obscene rift between executive and employee compensation, oil companies throwing their cash weight around, private contractors like Halliburton and Blackwater awarded licenses to steal and operate with impunity with respect to law and bald faced violations of the Geneva Convention, torturing of captives at Guantanamo and so-called Black Site prisons abroad.

Here is where I get on my soapbox to rant and rave. Where is the outrage that Lee Iacocca called for last spring?

As one who has studied and knows something about different approaches to life, individual psychology, I am aware that something like 75% of humans are more comfortable with modulating their emotions, doing better coping with life by not being carried away, as they would call it, by too much of the high or too much of the low. That should not be confused with not being aware or not caring.

It is my sincere, concerned, hopeful, angry and outraged wish that those who approach life that way will, in the privacy of their voting booth, kick King George the Whatever in the nuts, put him on his knees, reduce him to ridicule and send him packing back to being Sheriff of a small town in Texas. Talk about the Peter Principle. Actually, Rove and Cheney are the real criminals. Bush is their Barney puppet.

Then again, all of this might change and become irrelevant, depending on how The Universe Unfolds as it surely Will.

The Old New Englander has a recent post on his valuable blog about what kind of president do we want.

I would add to and build on that question with yet another question; what effect will the State of the Earth in November have on the electorate as they do what they can in the privacy of the voting booth.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper

Cape Cod Lighthouse: May 2007

Cape Cod Lighthouse: May 2007

This is actually a link to post on my other blog.

It's called Follow the Money and it deals with Iraq and oil.

Many have told me it made sense and is on target.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Senate in Bind Over Stimulus Deal - TIME

Senate in Bind Over Stimulus Deal - TIME

How much more cynical and insensitive can the GOPhers get?

The Voice Crying in the Wilderness continues crying out to those who have, that the havenot's need a safety net when things beyond their control put them behind the eight ball financially.

But GOPhers are all for Boot Straps, and cynically don't believe in Safety Nets.

Lighthouse Keeper

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

American "Exceptualism"

Based on recent reports emanating from Middle Eastern cultures(I think "culture", if not "tribal", is a more accurate and realistic label than "country" for that part of the world) women have gained equal opportunity status when it comes to selecting candidates for the position of suicide bomber. In other words they have become acceptable equals in the life of their culture, so long as they have stated a desire and a plan to leave it, and take others with them.

Who and what impelled them to such a horrible place?

If male suicide bombers are motivated by the fantasy of being serviced by a large number of virgins in the after life, as we have been told, please tell me what motivates the female bomber.

Please do not respond to this question. It is rhetorical in nature and purpose and is only intended to get your attention to the insanity of what is going on.

This question has no reasonable, nor logical answer; and certainly is not a question decent, caring people wish to consider. I pose it only for its shock value, to focus attention on the chasm of ignorance between Middle Eastern and Western culture.

That chasm could be crossed if those we look to for leadership wished to cross it. But no, this administration is much more interested in and committed to telling us how "Exceptional" we are as a people, while doing things in our name that violate all decency, honesty and integrity.

Speaking as a US citizen, I believe that those we elected to lead us actually do not want to close that chasm. Those in power today hold the view that conflict is good for them and those who support them. President Eisenhower, as he left office in the mid 1950's, warned us about the threat of the military/industrial establishment.

That threat was real, and still is. In fact it has grown like a metastasized cancer ever since, and now threatens the life of the Constitutionally based United States. The US is not likely to be overrun by terrorists. It will continue as a living thing, as defined by existing, but without the life we have demonstrated since our inception, unless and until we elect people whose agendas are openly about doing things which are consistent with the Constitution. What we have had for the past seven years are people whose agendas are hidden, doing things to line the pockets of their supporters and themselves, while lying to the American people that they are doing things with America in mind. They are dishonest, deceitful, and without honor.

So long as this country is seen as an invader and occupier by other nations, those who live in those occupied countries will resort to such awful things as suicide bombing, out of desperation and loss of hope.

There is no escaping the laws of the Universe. Life is born, grows, and dies. That's the reality of the Universe, and it is no less applicable to societies, cultures and the structures created in the vain hope that they will be the exception that proves the rule. A re-reading of The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire is in order.

The irony of this is that we were brought up to believe in our essential goodness, fairness, and offer of hope to others; but what we are now being told is the importance and the power of our "Exceptionalism", the illusion that we stand above and apart from others by any standard, test or evaluation.

Who doesn't want to hear that he or she is exceptional. It can be a good thing when we hear it, and take it to heart, from our parents, teachers, employers and clients.

It's a bad thing when we hear it, believe it and take it to heart as a people from those who want us to believe such things, their own selfish purpose. It is arrogance, pure and simple.

It's important, even crucial, that a sufficient number of US citizens pick up on this, get it, and realize how much those we elected to power are using that power to snooker us.

Such is the fine line between healthy self esteem needed to make a positive contribution to life and society, and the neurosis, if not the psychosis, of Narcissism, which is all about how beautiful and wonderful we are, with expectations that all others agree.

Sorry to tell you that George W. Bush is our present day Narcissus, as Dick Cheney is our present day Machiavelli. In Nicolai Machiavelli's The Prince, he appealed to the great humanity of his prince when he asked for acceptance of the work he had sacrificed so much to produce. Like Machiavelli, Cheney's work is all for him and his cronies, worked on surreptitiously and maliciously.

One has only to tune into the Sunday morning talk shows to see and hear this same unpatriotic propaganda acted out on today's stage.

George W. Bush says he doesn't do nuance. In fact nuance is what differentiates cultures. Had he been even superficially exposed to Cultural Anthropology 101 at Yale, perhaps he might now get it. He says he doesn't read the newspapers, and relies on his advisers to keep him up to date.
That means he wants us to believe that his intimidated lackeys are telling it to him straight, assuming they really want to. That's doubtful in an administration in which it's been demonstrated repeatedly that loyalty is what gets you medals of freedom, and a good financial future.

Alas, Bush still doesn't get it; or perhaps he does and ignores it, which is scary. If that's true he really is subject to being considered a war criminal for crimes against humanity, the sacrifice of thousands in prosecuting an unnecessary war. Also he should be Impeached for violating his oath to defend and uphold the Constitution, specifically sacrificing privacy rights unnecessarily.
Both action should apply to Cheney as well.

Where have all the wise men gone? Long time passing. Where have all the statesmen gone? Long time ago. Where have all our passions gone? Gone to killing everyone. When will we ever learn; when will we ever learn?

Lighthouse Keeper

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Credibility, Honesty,Reliability and Authenticity

I wish I could write a convincing and objective essay on this topic, but if I were to attempt doing so it would consist mostly of wishful thinking on my part, and, consequently, clearly my subjective view of an objective problem.

I make no claim for being an exhaustive, knowledgable nor thorough source for anything Internet or Main Stream Media related, but I have come to think that there are Internet sources which often provide stuff which is not likely to be found in the Main Stream Media, and stuff which is not so easily labelled compliant with the wishes of the administration, and the current occupant, as Garrison Keillor calls him.

The Main Stream Media, MSM, relies for it's survival on selling enough papers and/or getting enough hits on its web site ads, to make a profit, or at least to achieve a positive cash flow. It must rely on connections to so-called reliable, but all too frequently, anonymous sources, for providing grist for its News Mill.

Those publications, which are generally considered to be of the MSM, are not often whistle blowers, unless they think that they can scoop their competition on a hot topic. They assume, and understand, perhaps accurately, that the main stream market is mostly composed of an audience of people who are pretty much engaged in their immediate needs, taking care of business, day to day, but can be grabbed in the short term by "Extra, extra, read all about it", the shout of the newsboy on the streets of long ago, like the old lamp lighter of long, long ago who made the night a little brighter.

I wish to make a case for the value of media sources other than the so-called MSM because I do not believe that the MSM is sufficiently objective nor thorough in what it offers to the American consumer of news.

The MSM has been the recognized source of news for years because of its ability to get people to pay for what it offered, the news of the day and editorial comments on that news. Its continued existence is dependent on the ongoing opinion of its consumers, its readers, that it is still a reliable and objective source of news.

There is no such thing as total objectivity. The very fact that someone makes an observation, however much that someone wants to be objective, the observation is a product of the observer who, however well intended, cannot be totally objective. The very fact that an observer makes a choice about a topic of observation is in itself proof of subjectivity of the observer. What was the observer's motive in choosing the topic, while dismissing all other possible topics? Clearly the choice is, by definition, a personal one, made by the subject of the observation, revealing and exposing the importance of the topic to the observer, who chose the subject.

I wouldn't be surprised if I lost you here. If so I apologize for my need to be as objective as possible about the subjective:-) Those of you who think in logic tight compartments as I often do might have enjoyed the maze.

The MSM has become adept at the subtlety of expressing opinion while ostensibly reporting facts. It's all in what facts they choose to report and where in their publications they choose to report them. Stuff can be brought to life on the front page and above the fold, buried well back in other sections, or printed anywhere in between.

Internet sources of news might not be more objective than the MSM, but perhaps they are more honest about their subjectivity, their opinion, point of view; and perhaps they are more willing than the MSM to keep digging into the story, which often is later revealed to be innacurate, if not bogus, when the MSM is looking for the next "Extra, Extra, Read All About It".

The New York Times has, for the most part, been considered to have a liberal bias, as has the Washington Post. Yet in the weeks leading up to the invasion of Iraq, the Times' Judith Miller beat the war drums for the administration, and now and then the Post seems to an apologist for the Bush administration.

Some might see these offerings as examples of fairness and objectivity. I do not. I see these offerings, not as fairness, nor even anomalies, but examples of compliance with the wishes of the current powers that be, "the current occupants" of power, as Garrison Keillor calls them, in order to preserve their access to reliable and anonymous sources, which they are convinced and believe they need to provide the Extra, Extra, Read All About It sensational and therefore, irrestible story which sells newspapers.

Reading Alternet, Truthout, Truthdig, The Huffington Post, one can clearly see that they are not supporters of the Far Right. Reading The Weekly Standard and The Drudge Report, in contrast, makes one aware that they are not supporters of the Far Left.

Here's my pitch for the Internet news sources as a worthy and valuable addition to, not a substitution for, the MSM sources of news.

Long after the major newspapers, the MSM, drop their coverage of events, and/or bury them in the back pages, the Internet News Media is likely to follow the story with some digging, which might turn the original, "Extra, Extra, Read All About It" story on its ear. Case in point: The Strait of Hormuz event of a week or so ago.

Here is a classic example of what I'm writing about. The MSM hyped this as a confrontation between Iran and the US. Why? Because it is an Extra, Extra, Read All About It kind of story. The Bush/Cheney administration loved it because it just so happened to coincide with Bush's first day in his junket to the Middle East, where it was made clear that he wanted to awaken our so-called allies to what he claims is the threat posed by Iran.

How convenient.

Is there anyone out there who still believes, however laudibly wishful, that what the adminstraton puts out is honest and reliable?

Some of us who have lived through many traumas and are simply tired, if not exhausted, honestly and understandably hope and wish that we could trust those in positions of power, who tell us all is well, tell us to go shopping, and not be troubled by reports of attrocities in far off lands, because they are happening in far off lands.

In doing so they appeal to the basest instincts of our species.

Lighthouse Keeper

Saturday, January 12, 2008

How Convenient

How convenient for the boy who would be king, the second coming of King George(talk about Messianic Complex) that some Swift Boats reputed to be Iranian of sorts, just happened to show up in the vicinity of three US Navy warships, in the Strait of Hormuz. How predictable was the Pentagon's accusation again Iran that these little boats with apparently little or any armament, threatened those war ships.

And all this on the first day of the boy king's junket to the Middle East, where he made it clear that he would be campaigning for alliance and support of his Axis of Evil confrontational approach to Iran.

It's true, timing is everything.

Taylor Caldwell wrote a novel called Captains and the Kings in the 1970's. I urge you to check it out. It was a thinly disguised story of a family with designs on acquiring extreme wealth and influence. It had to do with those who understood that fortunes are made by stirring up and inflaming known tribal hatreds, and by providing each side with killing machines and devices.

Ike tried to warn us. He realized that those who provided him with the machines of war, essential to defeating the Axis of Evil of that day and time, would not go quietly back to converting swords into plowshares. They, as those before them over the history of mankind whose loyalties were more to money and power, would remain addicted to that money and power.

Lighthouse Keeper

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Supreme Court, Your Honor, and Executions

I watched the PBS Lehrer Report piece about the Supreme Court hearing arguments for and against a particular method of execution in Kansas, brought by death row inmates in that state. The basis of the challenge hinges on whether or not the combination of three drugs which are administered to the condemned person constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

Hello? Are you aware? Are you paying attention?

Why are we discussing how to kill people? Why are we discussing what is or is not torture?

Justice, and I use the term lightly, Scalia, argued recently that all of these challenges were postponing the executions of those who are sentenced to die.

I have a very bad time addressing him as Your Honor, when he, a member of the Supreme Court of our land is more concerned about finishing the job of killing someone than considering points of view of those who ask the court to listen to any and all arguments against any aspect of the death penalty.

What I find curious is that we hear from so many who believe and insist that this country was founded by New Testament Christians, yet they profess and prefer having our so -called justice system reflect the eye for an eye view form of justice found throughout the Old Testament.

Tell me, if you can, how and why I should accept, feel reconciled with, and support those who profess to be saved by Jesus, whose message was about mercy, but who live as though his message was about revenge. Tell me how I should become comfortable with what seems to me to be conflicting views of the sanctity of life: being against abortion as a taking of life, but being for capital punishment, the taking of life. Is being both an Old Testament believer and a New Testament believer the equivalent of having your cake and eating it too?

Lighthouse Keeper

Impeaching Bush and Cheney

Recently George McGovern said that he supports impeaching Bush and Cheney. George McGovern is not exactly a powerful voice in today's politics, and it should surprise no one that he opposes anything Republican.

That said, I agree with him, though I am not especially sanguine that impeachment is possible, even though I think it is justified. Constitutional Scholars have told us that impeachment is not a Constituitional crisis, but a solution to a Constitutional crisis.

Bush and Cheney shame themselves by violating the oaths they took to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States, the law of the land. It, the Constitution, existing only in our minds and hearts, but not as a person, can't object and defend itself. But all the Americans who have lived by it's words and meanings since it's adoption would, if they could, object. Some of us who are still alive can and should.

Former US Senator Bob Graham said(I have to paraphrase) at a recent University of Oklahoma forum, as one of a number of current and former politicians who enjoy decent, mostly honest and authentic reputations, We kicked King George out in 1776 but many of us were not accustomed to dealing with freedom, and it's expressions.

The boy who would be King George, and Cheney, the modern day Machiavelli, should be kicked out in 2008. In 1776 it took a revolutinary war to kick out King George. Thanks to what we have accomplished without a King as the decider, we can kick out the current day imposter, our own wannabe king george, not by a shooting revolution, but by a thoughtful revolution, if only we have the guts to do it, employing the Constitutionally provided solution to a Constitional crisis; trial by Impeachment.

These two, Bush and Cheney, deserve to be shamed by being tried and found guilty of violating their pledges to support and uphold the Constitution of the United States.

That is what should be the result of the outrage which Lee Iococca expresses and finds wanting in the populace, in his recent book asking, Where is the Outrage?

The leaders of Congress, Pelosi and Reid, who hold their jobs because the American people spoke up in 2006, and elected them, are ignoring the mandate of the American people as much as Bush and Cheney.

They are more focused and interested in not doing anything that might distract from their agenda of electing a Democrat as president, and gaining veto proof control in Congress.
They shy away from the confontational, likely because they worry about that approach getting in the way of what they want, Dem control of government, and job security for themselves; a job which used to be a sacrifice as a public servant, but now is the best job on the planet. What other job gives one the priviledge to vote oneselve's a raise, and provide oneself with the best health care plan on the planet, and which they deny to the rest of us.

It worries me that an election which transfers the power of government to an adversary of the former group in control, only perpetuates internecine, partisan conflict; the last thing American citizens need, want and voted for.

How is that different from the tribal conflicts in the Middle East? Some say that voting is the key to Democracy. In Iraq and Palestine, votes were cast, there were winners and losers, but nothing approaching what we think of as democracy can be observed.

It's not a real stretch to see just this same thing happening in our own country. We've experienced our citizens elect people they thought would stop the killing in Iraq, get us out of there, but to no avail.

Here's what I think of that. Those we elected are not into governing, nor leading. They're playing prevent defense when ahead by a little, near the end of the game. It doesn't stop the offense from gaining some ground. In fact, if they do, the momentum and the positive emotion of the players and the fans(read politicians and voters)often shifts to the advantage of the underdog.

It's a plan to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Lighthouse Keeper