Monday, November 14, 2011


   The Health Care Mandate has often been compared to social security and car insurance. It's not the same as either. Social Security is a tax paid into a non-profit PUBLIC system. Car insurance, while paid to private companies, is not a universal mandate but a legal requirement IF one owns and operates a motor vehicle. Theoretically, at least, one can avoid paying car insurance by using PUBLIC transportation.
   Interpreting the interstate commerce section of the constitution to justify the mandate is really quite a reach. By the same premise, the government could mandate that you buy liquor. Or fuel oil in order to bring down the price for everyone, even if you heat your home with a wood stove or solar power.
   As one who has recently moved to MA and will benefit from the state mandate I shouldn't complain. I'm not. Just pointing out that by blocking a PUBLIC option, the GOP has forced the Democrats into a bad corner - defending a necessary evil.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


   I can't say I agree with Mother Jones magazine that Krugman's 9/11 piece was "shameful" in its timing. Truth often must be insensitive and seldom dishonors the teller.  When it comes to war, we walk a fine line between honoring the victims/supporting the troops and avoiding the excessive sentimentality that feeds jingoism.
   I have to confess that when I saw the towers go down I did not know there were still people inside, so what went through my mind was how much this event was going to be milked by the neocons. Later, I was stunned, heartsick, and horrified by the extent of suffering, but on 9/12 I did not partake of the Bushiephoria that supposedly united the country.  I didn't trust Bush before it happened and he did nothing afterwards to make me trust him more.  When we went into Iraq, my reaction was "Huh?"  A close friend of mine lost her nephew and even she was skeptical of the administration's response.  More recently, I could have kissed Joe Biden when he said of Rudy that his sentences consist of a noun, a verb, and 9/11. (Ironic when some digging reveals that his career as a prosecutor may have indirectly contributed to the event.)
   My father is a veteran of WWII, specifically of the action during the Bulge.  After reading his account, I am heartened when I hear soldiers in uniform being thanked for their service by passersby in public places.  As a nation we are striving to make up for our treatment of the Vietnam vets.  Yet we must always be mindful of the undertow of self-righteousness and idealization.  Especially on occasions like the 10th anniversary of a horrific event.  It's not Krugman's fault that the event and its victims have been exploited by politicians and profiteers.  He's just the messenger.
   Ron Paul in the Tea Party debate tried to tell his audience what started the conflict (our desecration of ground sacred to Islam).  They shouted him down; they want to believe that the terrorists hate us for our freedoms. These kinds of irrational and untrue beliefs only create more victims.
   Sometimes I can't help wondering what our response would have been, the nature of our commemorations, if the target had been a stadium full of the homeless and disabled.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


   Barack Obama's role models are Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., and Nelson Mandela.  I'm beginning to wish there was at least one crusty general in the mix.  I voted for him because I thought he was calm and a uniter, proving my theory that the quality that initially attracts us to a person is the same one that eventually sends us screaming out of the house.
   I'm not at the screaming/running point yet.  But many liberals are.  Not that they wouldn't want someone like Obama leading them. At least in a civilized universe. The problem is that he considers himself the leader of all Americans, even the unciviilized, the irrational, the greedy, the power mongers, the schemers, the RWNJs.  He's acting like he thinks he is supposed to be giving them some of what they want, whether out of duty or necessity.
   Whatever the reason, it's not working.  Well, it's working fine for the top 1% or so.  And not by accident.  For an excellent insight into Republican tactics, read this article in CONSORTIUM.  It details how the Republicans are using the same tactics employed by the CIA to destabilize countries so they can put their own guy in power. You'll see why the approach of Obama (the quintessential Democrat) is doomed to fail. The Republican leaders are not going to come around.  They will use his reasonableness against him.  The electorate may begin to catch on (they  have in Wisconsin et al) but their efficacy is being diminished by voter suppression tactics, outright election shenanigans, RW-stacked court appointees etc. 
   We're reaching critical mass or whatever you want to call it.  We need to do something appropriate to the situation.  Let's talk ...

Thursday, June 23, 2011


   As the years have passed and corporate power has supersized, I have found it increasingly annoying that education is always regarded within the paradigm of job training. Even back in the 70's students who were studying philosophy or art had to endure the question, "What are you going to do with THAT?" Although a case can be made that cognitive skills and aesthetic sensibilities do have value in the workplace, I resent that every human quality and propensity must be ultimately graded according to its marketability.
   The capitalists, of course, revel in this attitude.  Their labor gets trained at public expense.  Voters regard investments in eduction=job-training as contributions to the public good, enabling the masses to better pursue the American dream.  Education-for-its-own-sake is regarded as a purview of the elite, a luxury.  But in our society, the opposite is actually true.
   I don't know this for a fact, but it was told to me by someone whose word I respect: Public education was instituted by our forefathers in order to ensure an informed electorate.  When you think about it, why else would they have mandated that youngsters be taken off the farms and out of the shops?  Except to support a thriving democracy.  And now it seems that the GOP and its corporate mentors would like nothing better than to dumb down the electorate by underfunding education and turning journalism into infotainment.
   Recently Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey, after a display of unnecessary rudeness, responded to a question about his defunding of public education by complaining that he pays $38,000/year in property taxes to support public education even though his children go to parochial schools.  This was a typical example of the Republican RED HEN DELUSION (see Memelings) in this case pushing the I-don't-have-kids-in-public-schools-so-why-should-I-chip-in? button.
   Here's my response to that: So, you've never been treated by a doctor who went to public schools at some point?  You've never driven over a bridge that is still standing because an engineer who went to public schools had a great math teacher?  I'll bet your helicopter pilot didn't go to prep school and then Harvard. I know your party is pissed because a public school educated citizenry saw through Republican schemes to bring down Clinton and re-elected him, but grow up and stop being the school yard bully.
   The opinion of someone who went to both parochial and public schools in New Jersey: Chris Christie,  you are a short-sighted arrogant ass.

Friday, June 10, 2011


   My high school English teacher had us write an essay entitled "Is Truth a Moral Absolute?"  This was the first time it had ever occured to me that it might not be.  I was surprised again when my CCD instructor told us that it's not a sin to lie if the information is none of the inquirer's business.  Heresy!  But when you think about it, what parent wouldn't lie to a home invader demanding to know where their child is hiding? 
   Many years and evolutions later, as the Monica Lewinski scandal was unfolding, I (along with many other Americans) was more appalled by the amount of time and energy being spent on the investigation than about the incident itself - and remained not particularly scandalized that Clinton lied under oath (an oath sworn under duress). Certainly it was illegal and certainly it is immoral to bear false witness against someone, but the premise upon which they purloined the right to ask the question was as flimsy as cotton candy.
   We could write volumes about the insufferable hypocrisy of the Repulicans on these matters. With regard to Weinergate, the big complaint on both sides is that Congressman Weiner lied.  Granted, he lied more aggressively than Lady Macbeth.  But it's what I would call a "death grip" lie.  The last panicked attempt of a drowning man to save himself.  He wasn't trying to sell anyone the Brooklyn Bridge. Or a war in Iraq. 
   The Last Word's Lawrence O'Donnell had a guest on last week who dared to articulate what's been at the back of my mind through all this:  By its very nature infidelity encompasses deceit - like a drug problem when drugs are illegal.  That someone would lie about it is not necessarily an indication that they would lie about other things.
   Polls indicate that the majority of his constituents still trust him to look out for their interests.  To me that defines an honest politician.  Although he has addressed his compulsion by getting treatment, pressure from his colleagues will probably force him to resign.  Sad.