Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Master of the Obvious

Columns like this drive me nuts.

David Brooks analyzes why legislation that actually works can't happen. It is a good summary of the obstacles, but he provides no clue as to how he, with all his years in Washington, would recommend dealing with it.

Perhaps it's hopeless. Today Brooks is master of the obvious. As a Conservative columnist he's probably delighting in Obama's inability to herd his cats.

Republicans fall in line; Democrats fall all over themselves. Republicans prosper when they are the majority party. Democrats act like they can't stand the prosperity of being the majority party.

The guy at the head of the Democrat table, President Obama, has got to convince the Blue Dog Democrats, and the other factions in the party that they are throwing away their opportunity to govern, by internecine squabbling, which is only providing the Republicans with ammunition to be used against them.


A Wolfess In Sheeps Clothing

Read here a report on a Health Insurance Lobby CEO, a woman by the name of Ignagni, who is fighting against a public health care option, and for mandatory participation.

Let me try to understand this. If everyone must pay for a health insurance policy offered by private companies, those private companies would be guaranteed enormous numbers of customers, and of course huge profits, backed by a law which Congress would have passed and which would have been signed by President Obama.

Hello? Talk about the wildest dreams of an industry! Ms Ignagni, who says she's a life long Democrat, has got to be the quintessential wolfess in sheep's clothing.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Health Insurance Company Treachery

Here's the Times editorial on the revelations about health insurance companies cancelling policies when they don't want to pay claims.

This shouts out the need for a health insurance public option. Once again highly visible and powerful members of today's private industry are found to be amoral when it comes to profits versus customers.

As the health care debate continues and Conservatives pontificate about keeping government out of it, Obama needs to keep throwing this up on the wall for all to see and smell. Otherwise the politicians who are owned by these huge company lobbies will cave.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

My Guy Col. Patrick Lang, Ret.

Here's a true American patriot soldier on the "neocon scum" who should be tried as war criminals just as Keitel and Jodl were.

I'm against capital punishment. But Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and their neocon scum should languish in Leavenworth for the rest of their lives.

Pat Lang makes a strong case.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Us 35,000 Years Ago? Just maybe

Here's a link to an essay about a discovery of a musical instrument which could be 35,000 years old.

The commentary is fascinating in that it brings up so many questions about who we as Homo Sapiens were, as opposed to who we as Homo Neanderthalus were. And that's just a start. There are many questions which are generated by these findings, some of which I can only just intuitively sense.

For me, this is just my kind of dish. Those who have no truck and less patience with theory, who need to deal with "just the facts mam" are not likely to be curious enough to the extent of being captivated as I am. For such people this evidence could be easily dismissed as an NRA, a non recurring anomaly, rather than a fascinating clue to a connection between our oldest DNA ancestors and us.

As an amateur musician with a curious mind, I look forward to more reports about this find.


Limbaugh's Galaxy.

In Rush Limbaugh's galaxy the brain has not yet developed to a point where it can link facts to reality.

This comment is so outrageous that it boggles the mind, which is what happens to the mind in Limbaugh's galaxy.

Trouble is about 25% of people in the Milky Way, our galaxy, will agree with him.


The Best Politicians Money Can Buy

Read this, then tell me again why I shouldn't be so cynical about politics.


Weaponized Keynesianism

Here's Steve Benen of Washington Monthly at his best.

He quotes my guy Barney Frank on the GOP's yes and no approach to government spending.

It's awful except when it's not, and that's when it's government spending on weapons, especially useless ones.

I hope this gets a wide circulation. You can help.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Cheney/Bush School of Intimidation:The Art of Character Assassination, 101

Here's a story about something which would be hilarious, or at least amusing, if it were not so dangerous.

Iran's Supreme Leader, a so-called man of the clothe and religious leader, calls those reformers who are calling for annulling the disputed election results "bullies".

Shades of Cheney/Bush. It seems that this guy went to their school of obfuscation which advocated and used against their opposition the very same accusations of which they were accused and of which they were guilty.

Last time I checked, those who made my list, 'Bullies I Have Known', were those who used physically abusive, life threatening and frightening force to intimidate those who want to live in a time and place in which fair competition prevails to insure justice and fairness as a way of living peaceably, though not necessarily peacefully.

That is not a small difference and should not be dismissed as "simply semantics". Peaceably includes acceptance of competition and differences, and open and tolerated discussion of differences of opinion, without having to be violent.

Peacefully is not a sustainable condition to be experienced in this world. The documented evidence of survival of the fittest attests to that.

Peaceably might be a sustainable condition, but is dependent on people making choices about what they support and resisting violence as a way of promoting it.

Sports competition is a pretty good example of how that might work. The Olympics of old Athens reminds us today that rational people can "fight it out" to be a winner, and without the physical death of the opponent as a requirement to confirm it. The Romans didn't buy it though. They wanted blood, and so do tyrants everywhere.

There's a topic and story for another time and place about how "sports" has not yet let go the sick excitement about the possibility that physical violence between combatants, euphemistically called competitors, can result in death.

The so-called sport called Boxing comes to mind. It's a less purposely designed and arranged deadly competition, yet still a violent vestige of the "sporting" events held in the Roman Colosseum.


Who You Gonna Trust For Health Insurance?

Update Below.

Here's a very timely allegation against the private health insurance industry.

It's about a Senate report which alleges that people were charged huge numbers for health care which the insurers should have paid.

These are the people who want to frighten you that a public option, like unto Medicare, would be a disaster. Yes it would, but mostly for them. If this report holds up the result would be a well deserved repudiation of a very cynical and hypocritical industry's claims that its primary focus is on the needs of its customers.

Kudos to Senator Rockefeller.

Pass it on.

Update: Here's Nicholas Kristof on the AMA's stonewalling of a public option for health care. That its membership has skidded so far down got my attention. Clearly it's now a Chamber of Commerce kind of organization, no longer a patient focused one.


Health Care Sense

Here's an essay about expanding Medicare to include the needy and eventually all citizens.

I've been leaving comments lately on many pundit's pieces citing my completely satisfying experience with Medicare for seven years now.

It's a single payer, public option, and it works beautifully. It's also not welcomed by the private insurance industry, except for a clear need for people to have a private supplement plan to cover some gaps in Medicare coverage.

But the total of my Medicare and supplement monthly charges is still a bargain compared to paying the premium charged by private insurers to provide equivalent coverage.

I hope this catches on. I suspect the private lobby will prevail in blackmailing


Monday, June 22, 2009

Weather and Sports

Full disclosure: I was rooting for Phil Michelson. A Hollywood ending would have him the winner, what with his lovely wife Amy about to undergo treatment for breast cancer, but also that he had a chance to win the Open, having come in second so many times.

It was a weekend of golf which needed the old saw, 'It never rains on a golf course' to justify playing under the lousy conditions which all encountered.

The last phrase, 'which all encountered' is the usual justification for declaring that the competition was fair. But that assumes that the competitors experienced the same conditions at the same time.

Such was not case in this year's US Open. Interestingly enough there came to be a distinction between those who began play in the morning last Thursday, now known as the first wave, and those who began play in the afternoon, now known as the second wave.

Those in the first wave gave several strokes to those in the second wave, a virtual handicap, due to the different weather conditions in the two time periods.

The golf analysts pointed out that Tiger Woods was in the first wave. To his credit I didn't hear him talk about that as a handicap. I'd like to know how well those in the first wave did and where they finished in the final rankings.

The other night the baseball umpires, knowing that awful conditions for playing baseball were a certainty long before a nine inning game could possibly have been completed, said "Play ball" at the designated start time. In MLB a game is considered complete after an arbitrary number of innings have been played. I thing it's five innings, but if I don't have that right, it doesn't negate the relevance of the question I'm posing in this piece.

It has to do with what is known, expected or at least predicted, about weather conditions which
might affect the game to the extent that it could favor one side or the other. In the NFL the game is played within a pre-established time frame, such that both sides are dealing with the same conditions, fair weather or foul. In such a situation perhaps one team is more adept at taking advantage of the conditions better than the other, but that's a function of talent more than weather.

Some sporting events are usually played in a venue which is shielded from outside weather conditions; basketball comes to mind. other sports are experimenting with playing in forums not traditional to their sport. Outdoor Ice Hockey, Arena football, Beach Volleyball come to mind.

Baseball stadiums with roofs came into being to make games weather proof.
They are a shining example of how weather can affect outcomes.

Golf, duh, can't do that. In baseball umpires should have confidence that predicted weather conditions will prevail in deciding whether or not to shout, Play Ball.

In golf it's the PGA authorities who need to do what they can to level the playing field.

TV time, sponsors, audience predictions make this very difficult to do. But when lightening is present the course is abandoned as quickly as possible. Predictions of two inches of rain should be enough to signal a halt to play as well.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Going Off Half Cocked or Carefully Evaluating How Best to Proceed?

The title of this post was selected for it's obvious slant in favor of being careful to understand what's at stake before announcing a strong position for one side or the other in a dispute.

Both the Main Stream Media and the The Side Stream Media are concentrating their attention on the situation in Iran.

It's potentially explosive which whets the appetites of the MSM. Fox News is not the only for- profit business which hypes the news to make money.

"EXTRA, EXTRA, READ ALL ABOUT IT. shouted by the newspaper boy and hawker of old, still lives with us in a virtual way.

Right wing pundits and politicians use anything they can to discredit Obama for purely political reasons, under the hypocritical guise of genuine belief. Left wing types do the same when they are out of office.

Right now it's Iran that's being used by right wing nuts to hit Obama over the head.

But there's a genuine discussion going on about how much the president should say about it. He's finally reminded everyone that what he says speaks for America, and what McCain, Hannity, Limbaugh, Cheney and other hypocrites say speaks only for themselves and the cabal they gather around them.

Iranians themselves have spoken out. Some say, where are you Obama, and others say don't meddle in our internal affairs; you will only complicate the issue and hand the side that claims they won one more weapon to use against the side which apparently had the election stolen from underneath them. They are afraid of being discredited as American stooges, and could actually come to harm.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Minstrel Boy Gets it.

Here's a link to thoughts from the blogger Minstrel Boy in answer to a comment I left on his blog.

I recommend his blog, MinstrelBoy.blogspot.com for many reasons, not the least of which is his expertise on things military, and his credibility is unquestioned when it comes to experiencing personal tragedy.

He's as saddened as I by what we're observing in the Obama administration.


A Very Wise Essay on the Middle East; And An Update

Here's a link to a very wise essay on the Middle East by Gershom Gorenberg. He, like M.J. Rosenberg at The Israel Policy Forum, is a supporter of the two state solution and backs Obama's approach.

In this piece he's declaring the need for Obama to avoid appearing to support the side which "lost" the election in Iran, and to continue calling for an end to the Settlement policy in Israel.
His rationale is excellent and spot on. He points out that the protesters in Iran don't need or want American interference since it would likely be used against them by the "winning" side.
And to cut some slack with Netanyahu for his absurd and disingenuous statement on a two state solution would be counter-productive.

It's pretty clear that the election was stolen. All the losing candidates lost in their own home towns, the announcement of who won came well before all votes could have been counted, turnout was more than 100% in some places, and on and on. But Gorenberg argues that this is the kind of information which the world sees and which is fracturing the reputation and influence of the "winner".

The Republicans are so sick in their flag waving patriotism and phony American Exceptionalism that they are attacking Obama for not speaking out again the "winners", knowing full well that they are doing so, not out of outrage over the Iranian election, but because they continue to attack Obama anyway they can for purely political purposes. The level of their indecency and hypocrisy continues to be outrageous and sickening.

Here's a link to another Israeli essay which is useful.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Two Uneasy Pieces

Pat Lang, on his blog Sic Semper Tyrannis, has written two pieces on Iran today.

Here's one, and here's the other.

What stands out for me is the change in his position, from "I have no idea if the election was rigged" to "I've heard enough".

I continue to pay attention to what Pat Lang says, based on his real experience as an Army Officer( Colonel, retired), and his real experience in Intelligence, special emphasis on the Middle East, particularly Israel.


Razor's Edge

Here's Roger Cohen's latest post from Iran.

Here's Michael Goldfarb's Weekly Standard right wing screed on Roger Cohen.

Michael Goldfarb calls him "Iran apologist". That's par for the course for a right wing, Neocon, who likely got both things he wanted in the Iranian election, a dictator still in power to justify an attack against Iran in the interest of Israel, and the soap box from which to rail against anyone who hopes for rapprochement.

Roger Cohen's position has been in support of the adversaries of the current regime, not for the regime. Goldfarb knows that but that doesn't serve his purposes.

A reading of each of these pieces is useful.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Roger Cohen's Courage

Here's his report from Iran.

What he had to report clearly makes him almost sick. He's been
writing about Iran for weeks, drawing attention to what he had
observed that seemed to indicate that hope was not misplaced.

He's eating crow here, and showing courage to admit he misjudged
the country's leaders, not believing that they would do what they
are doing; police brutality, arresting opposition, etc..

He's right that Obama must step back for a time before reaching out
his open hand to them again, assuming he still chooses to do.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Will The Real Gen. McChrystal Please Stand Up?

Here's a WSJ piece which makes nice about General McChrystal, Obama's new top guy in Afghanistan. He is the same guy who is alleged to have headed black ops death squads in Iraq, at the direction of Cheney.

Keep your fingers crossed.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Please Read This

Whatever your preferences for what our government should or should not do, I hope that you will consider what Krugman wrote and give it careful consideration.

Human beings whose life experiences result in their harboring hate for other human beings will always be with us.

Human beings whose life experiences result in their harboring love for other human beings will always be with us.

Both of these human beings are us.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


I just added the link that two readers told me I left out when I posted about Gorbachev's Perestroika column.

You can read it on the original post or read it here.

Too many senior moments lately.


AIPAC Cracking?

Here's a comment I left to an article foretelling the crack developing in AIPAC's influence on behalf of Israel.

The article itself can be read here.

I recommend it.


Congress Battling Common Sense

You just gotta read this. It adds a whole new meaning to 'Follow the money'.

The Senator from Northrop Grumman, the Senator from Boeing, the Senator from General Dynamic, the Senator from-------------, all getting together to be sure that their backyard military/industrial patrons are not just protected but handsomely rewarded by Congress.

Dana Millbank of WaPo does his usual good job of sarcastic reporting on what one is disappointed to be reminded happens to be reality.

Sad, but true.


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

And Another Country Heard From

Here's a link to an op-ed in the Times today which I think is a useful addition to the public discourse about the Middle East.

Having previously no knowledge of the plight of Jews in Egypt in our own times, reading it was an education for me.

I suspect, and it's only a guess, that Obama left this part of the Jewish story out of his Cairo speech intentionally, but not happily. He was speaking in Egypt, and though the author praises Obama for not mincing words, adding this to the story would likely have been seen by Arabs as Obama's siding with Jews against Arabs when he was trying to sound even handed.

I believe the author is justified in, and did a good thing by, exposing this modern day exile to those of us who were ignorant with respect to this piece of history.


Sunday, June 7, 2009

Gorbachev: High Time For Perestroika

This column is likely to generate quite a bit of heat. I can almost hear Gingrich, Limbaugh and Co. now.

It is at least thought provoking. I especially like the phrase "demilitarizing the economy". The Neocons will go crazy over that one.


Friday, June 5, 2009

She Should Be Prime Minister

Here's Tzipi Livni's guest editorial in today's Times. She is a most articulate politician and clearly the one we should prefer to be Prime Minister of Israel.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Red Alert: Reject and Resist Apple Pie and Motherhood

The title of this post was chosen to draw attention to the reality that people all around the globe will level, salacious, absurd, ridiculous and hateful accusations against anyone who speaks out for and advocates peace. Today it's Obama in their cross hairs.

The MSM in the US, especially now that it is on the ropes financially, will hype this conflict.
"EXTRA, EXTRA, READ ALL ABOUT IT". They will justify their hype by claiming that the public needs to know all about it. But it will be more about their financial survival than their mission. It might be more enlightening to pay attention to the Arab and Israeli media.

But I digress.

As an agnostic Protestant I offer this. Jesus of Nazareth has been quoted, at least two generations after his lifetime, as having said something like 'the poor we will always have with us'. With that kind of insight he might also have said something like, 'the selfish, the greedy, the hateful we will always have with us'.

These types are a minority. Most people want decency and peace. But the scales of justice are more easily tipped by the evil than the good. It's human nature.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Friedman's Talk With Obama

Here's a link to Thomas Friedman's column in today's Times on his phone conversation with Obama. I found it encouraging and positive.


Middle East Insight

Here's a piece which makes a lot of sense to me. Israel seems to be on a self-destructing mission, and, with patience on the part of those who would like to see peace in the Middle East, including a Palestinian state, it might happen by virtue of Israel's population changing.

Moderates moving away, over time, will leave Israel with a far right zealot population which could self-destruct, by isolating itself from moderate states.

Anyway, that's the thesis of this article as I read it. Clearly one problem working against this is the typical impatience of the West, especially the US.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Virtual World; Replete With Imagination In The Absence of Facts.

How does one find closure when a virtual friend drops off the virtual radar?

Based on my own personal reaction to a rather sudden cessation of what had been friendly and interesting exchanges with someone in the virtual world, the so-called Blogosphere, I got to wondering, questioning what a real person can do in trying to get closure in such a situation.

If you're still curious about where I'm going with this, here's some background.

A couple of years ago the editor of the blog, The Old New Englander, posted a comment on my blog, A Voice Crying in the Wilderness. That was the beginning of an online correspondence, which, in time, led to emails, which became a virtual friendship, judging by the sharing of what was going on in our lives. That included the using of our real names and towns in which we live. It also included references to our mates, by name.

The last post to The Old New Englander blog was well more than a month ago, clearly out of pattern. In the past he told his readers when and how long he would be away, and if there were a brief hiatus in his posts, when he returned to posting he cited his schedule as an active lawyer, busy with cases.

It's any individual's business of course with respect to with whom one maintains contact, and how often one posts. That's not the issue.

What I'm waking up to is a previously unacknowledged(on my part) limit of virtual friendships, online communication, and ability to find out what's behind a sudden change in pattern.

In this case it was friendly, interesting and satisfying, but not at a personal level such that one would feel comfortable digging further. It would feel like prying into places uninvited. After two or three emails, whatever the reason for a lack of response, one is wise to it go.

Nevertheless, imagination replaces fact, including possibility of serious illness, accident, even sudden death.

The online relationship is limited to two people, and others who could clear up the mystery might not be aware of the level of the virtual friendship.

Of such is the limit of online life. Come to think of it pen pals of old must have experienced similar frustrations.

Just in case though, if anyone reading this knows anything about the Old New Englander which might help this blogger understand please pass it along. I'm aware that some readers have visited both his site and mine from time to time. "The River", if you see this please leave a comment.

I miss The Old New Englander's contributions to the public discourse, his patient tutoring and mentoring with respect to all things Israel and, most of all, his friendship.



Monday, June 1, 2009

We Will Always Be At War

Update Below.

Here's a piece which illustrates my view that we will always be at war or preparing for war for a very simple reason. There's $Billions in them thar bombs. Ever since WW II our economy has relied on war and war preparation.

Today's war criminals are the neocons who talk war, inflame ethnic hatreds, preparing the next battlefields on behalf of the military/industrial establishment which benefits from war not peace.

I've written several times that I don't expect that to change regardless of who is in the White House, and who has the majority in Congress. If suddenly we were faced with a lasting peace the unemployment rate would skyrocket, and the economy would tank to a level from which it might not recover without a new war. WW II showed us that.


Here's James Carroll's column, the first half of which is especially pertinent to the theme of the above post. The second half of his column is also pertinent, but in a less direct way.