New Civilization News: What Really Worries Me    
 What Really Worries Me36 comments
picture15 Apr 2005 @ 11:49, by Richard Carlson

It is no more surprising to be born twice than it is to be born once.

---Voltaire

The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.

---Niels Bohr

A general in ancient China came to see a Zen master. He drew his sword and pointed it at the teacher, and announced: "Don't you know that I am a man who can run you through without blinking an eye?"
To which the Zen master responded instantly: "Don't you know that I am a man who can be run through without blinking an eye?"
Deeply impressed, the general sheathed his sword and remained for the teaching.

---Zen story

My wife sends me a few emails every day. More often than I like they are about how I can become a better husband for her than I am already. But sometimes she finds a political item or entry as she browses the Net that nails the direction our nation is taking right to the wall. When that happens I find little alternative but to put aside everything I am doing...and really take an inventory. I'm sure she'd like it if I did that with the health and diet articles she sends too, but that is a different essay.

I know people who feel politics deeply. They are my friends. It may surprise you they are on "both sides of the aisle," so to speak. In fact, I often enjoy discussion with a conservative more than a fellow liberal. We all agree on two basic principles: 1) the polis, being humans striving to maintain community, is the best idea the species has come up with for getting along with each other, and 2) open and free political debate is the only way to resolve disagreement.

Since the Election of 2004, which maintained President Bush apparently, I feel that healthy political debate is quieting down among my friends...and being furiously discouraged in the public arena. I sense whatever the political leanings and convictions of my friends that they are troubled by questions they have and a distrust of the world that is growing. And they are suffering this anxiety in silence and maybe denial.

Let me give you a very public example of what I mean. Last weekend Senator Kerry made the following remark before a meeting of the League of Women Voters: "Last year too many people were denied their right to vote, too many who tried to vote were intimidated." Here we have a serious concern. The more tainted with corruption a nation's election process becomes, surely we know the more horrifying existence for those citizens becomes as well. We scold other nations and move our armies to spread democracy and destroy tyranny.

What response did the remark of the former candidate for the presidency of the United States inspire? In an article on Monday entitled "John Kerry tries out a new whine," Republican National Committee spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt is quoted as saying, "While President Bush and members of Congress are working to move our country forward, it's disappointing that some Democrats are focused on rehashing baseless allegations more than five months after the election." [link]

Apparently Wall Street Journal OpinionJournal.com editor James Taranto went even further with 2 columns that brought us into the middle of the week. He surmised that Senator Kerry's sources of concern were actually leftwing satirical pieces...and that the poor candidate couldn't even tell that his own people were joking with him. [link]

I suspect what is wrong with this picture is the same thing that accounts for the increasing silence among my friends, liberal and conservative. There is neither respect shown to the man who conceded the close election, nor quiet deliberation regarding his concern. He is deplored and mocked. His very grasp of reality is questioned. Now honestly, if you are an American reading this, have you felt anything like a questioning of your "attitude" among acquaintances if it is known you have similar questions? Is it better for your popularity at work and sense of job security if you conceal and deny your questions? How healthy is a society that allows itself to get into such a fix...if that is what has happened?

It is at this point that my wife introduced me to a new columnist. I should have bumped into him before because the same piece Dana sent me was referred to last week at The Brad Blog...but I didn't quite see it. The guy's name is Chris Floyd...and he writes regularly for a publication in Moscow...Russia! Now wait a minute, this isn't the Cold War anymore...and their leader and ours have looked into each other's souls and like what they see. But still...there's bound to be a stigma in there somewhere. I think the essay is very well written...and is a good, although alarming, summary of the United States' political path these past 6 months. If you like, see what you think. It begins...

"Let's face the facts. The game is over and we -- the 'reality-based community,' the believers in genuine democracy and law, the heirs of Jefferson and Madison, Emerson and Thoreau, the toilers and dreamers, all those who seek to rise above the beast within and shape the brutal chaos of existence into something higher, richer and imbued with meaning -- have lost. The better world we thought had been won out of the blood and horror of history -- a realm of enlightenment that often found its best embodiment in the ideals and aspirations of the American Republic -- is gone. It's been swallowed by darkness, by ravening greed, by bestial spirits and by willful primitives who now possess overwhelming instruments of power and dominion.

"A gang of such spirits seized control of the U.S. government by illicit means in 2000 and maintained that control through rampant electoral corruption in 2004. The re-election of President George W. Bush last November was a deliberately shambolic process that saw massive lockouts of opposition voters; unverifiable returns compiled by easily hackable machines operated by avowed corporate partisans of the ruling party; and vast discrepancies between exit polls and final results – gaps much larger than those that led elections in Ukraine and Georgia to be condemned as manipulated frauds. Indeed, a panel of statisticians said last week that the odds of such a discrepancy occurring naturally were 959,000 to 1, the Akron Beacon-Journal reported."

[link] or
[link]

There is a crummy picture of Mr. Floyd here [link]
and a writeup of his history and credentials here [link]

When I went to junior high and high school, the debate team was among the most exciting extracurricular activities in which to involve oneself. I went to college on a debating scholarship. During political campaigns in my small city in western New York, we had whole school assemblies in which the candidates appeared and debated their views. The hallways were full of imaginative and original posters made by students, who were encouraged to learn to express themselves in a rational manner. I remember an election season in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where I went to graduate school in the early 1960's, in which citizens were out on street corners talking politics. It is one of the great memories I have of what America is all about.

I work in a junior high school. I won't say political discussion and activity is stifled there...but it certainly isn't encouraged either. There was no mock election for the students...and the one political poster I saw in the school was taken down. What does any of this tell us about the health of political freedom as we have moved through 50 years? In our time of positively athletic patriotism, how is the actual inventory in our political warehouse?


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36 comments

15 Apr 2005 @ 15:02 by jerryvest : Hero Worship
Yes, Richard, seems we are a country that worships its athletes -- "...athletic patriotism." It is sickening and unattractive that adults who play children's games are valued more than our teachers, scientists, and other creative beings. Hitting, kicking, throwing and catching balls isn't a noble activity, but don't say these things too loudly or in public, you might catch a fist in the face.

On another note, you are to be commended for teaching junior high kids. I've always thought that this age group should be given a couple of years reprieve from education as their minds are usually somewhere else and not on school work. :)  



15 Apr 2005 @ 17:16 by koravya : Slogan of the day
Hey Richard,
Right on with the link and the reflection on the prevailing attitudes.
Sloganeer-ing is the word of the day.
Like with all those little yellow ribbon decals. Support Our Troops. all over half the cars and trucks flying around on the streets and the highways,
Just being sure to let Me know that
It’s all about “freedom” dude. Any other questions?!
Never mind that what those troops are dying for is halliburton’s profits.


[link]
Do you hate freedom, hate your family, and families in general?
Do you hate children and hate American values?
Do you just plain hate America?
Do you love terrorists?
Do you want to move to Afghanistan and
pal around with Osama? Of course you do!
June 11th, 2005 is your day to SHINE!
WeHateFreedom.com (DemocracyMeansYou.com) is organizing a national day to PROTEST FREEDOM in AMERICA! Protest FAMILIES! Protest AMERICA! Protest CHILDREN! And even PUPPIES and APPLE PIE!
Yes, Democrats, Greens, and other Progressives indeed HATE AMERICA, HATE FAMILIES, and HATE FREEDOM. In fact, we want to MOVE TO IRAQ! And we're not keeping it a secret anymore.
June 11th, 2005, thousands of Freedom-Hating liberals and progressives will march at the steps and front doors of FOX NEWS and Clear Channel offices and affiliates across the nation to show conservatives just how RIGHT (and wrong) they really are. Come with us!
In the spirit of Abbie Hoffman and the Yippies, poking fun at society and those who are tight-hearted, hateful, and angry and spiteful conservatives, to amuse, annoy, rile up, and feed the humor and imagination and alleviate the post-election depression of sensible humans everywhere, we present the "WE HATE FREEDOM MARCHES."
Is This For Real?
Yes. And no. This is a satirical but very real focused action of political theater to draw attention to the fact that Republican political tactics of dividing the country—by using party-serving media like Fox news, Clear Channel Communications, fake news clips, and paying off reporters to advertise for their policies—are harmful to America.
Their strategy of labeling those who disagree with them someone who “hates freedom” or “hates America” is, sadly, both completely ridiculous and tragically destructive to our participatory democracy. Their use of language to mislead and decieve is both Orwellian and shameful.  



15 Apr 2005 @ 18:43 by martha : Look at it this way Jazzy....
More and more Americans are becoming disillusioned and seeing the obvious game the White House is playing. The internet is the great equalizer here and eventually by more people connecting to the world, humanity will take the next step. Unfortunately many people need to still project hate out into the world feeding MIC because they have not taken the next step to see the truth behind MIC (military industrial complex).
The counter balance to this insanity is to become conscious and live a life of peace. Release your anger, find the peace within and you will be one less person contributing to the free floating anger which encirlces our earth. Strengthen the peace energy and higher vibration energy will cause more people will join you, exposing all and demanding no more illusions (lies).  



15 Apr 2005 @ 18:56 by vaxen : Ah yes...
I like the usage of the neologism 'Shambolic.' Could refer either to a 'sham,' or the age old struggle between Shamballah and Agarthi. Interesting. The rest is 'duff.'

And, dear Martha, please don't forget that our beloved "ARMY" created the 'internet.' Do you think it was with the present state of the 'world' in mind that they did that? Ever play around with WWW2? It's hackablisciously arcane!

The following linkage is really for 'Ming' but concern should be with us all, as a daily routine, or exercise, in what has surely become a 'forbidden' in the new, age old, vocabulary of 'neo-speak.'

Richard may I ask where you are that D has to send you email to communicate such? Good to see you back, and writing, nevertheless.

[link]  



15 Apr 2005 @ 19:05 by martha : So what Vaxen if it is hackable
I don't think the Army really knew what they were doing when they created the internet. They can't think that far ahead...LOL
The internet is the great equalizer and gateway to humanity breaking their illusions and demanding no more veils! Onward we go Vaxen, opening peoples eyes and minds eh?  



15 Apr 2005 @ 19:42 by jazzolog : Two Old Kippers In A Box
Ah yes Vax, wouldn't it be loverly if husband and wife sat down before the Gateway together hand-in-hand, browsed away and marvelled at mutual discoveries? We have done that, but generally Dana is on at Primetime...and I arise at monkish hours to come down here to fret and stew. She's one of those wives who always likes to give me something to read. I presume it is a motive of sharing rather than drumming stuff into my head...as I jokingly intimate in the main body. "Shambolic" IS a wonderful word...and let's not rile up any Tibetans with it.

I like what Jerry has to say about the outrageous weight given to competitive athletics in the schools. At AMS we're expected, as faculty, to wear the school colors every Friday---when the screaming crowds descend upon the stadium. I say when I see even one coach at a music or theatre event, I'll consider getting more rah rah. But now I'm getting wound up to write another article...which I really should. I have some good stories about this.

Thanks John for your comment too. As I wrote somewhere else, I wonder how much body armor the metal in those ribbon magnets could have produced.

I'm hoping disillusion will be productive Martha, and not a prelude to further madness. Thank goodness at least one of the NCN find-peace-within advisors still peeks in here from time to time!  



15 Apr 2005 @ 20:08 by martha : From a Peace seeker
"Suffering and freedom are very related. One is undone by the other. We find our freedom as adults, through courage, and by lightening up - not allowing polarized thinking to make us outraged and very stuck." Patricia Sun

"I have always been among those who believed that the greatest freedom of speech was the greatest safety, because if a man is a fool the best thing to do is to encourage him to advertise the fact by speaking."
Woodrow WILSON
28th President of the United States (1856-1924)  



15 Apr 2005 @ 22:45 by Quinty @68.226.90.181 : Free speach

I like the two quotes, Martha. I also wonder, at times, how long we will be able to freely call our president a "block head?" For when that goes it is truly all up. Am I being alarmist and paranoid, having fallen into a leftist vat, as the right might say? I don't know. I don't particularly like ideology, for it can create blinders. And the truth can not be seen through blinders. For ideology leads the way, and molds and recasts events for its own ends. But that many of us even speculate on such things, like losing the freedom of speech, reflects upon the times. Paranoia or mere alarmist fantasies reflecting a leftist bent? Is it that we just don't properly see what is happening? That we will wake up some day and realize we were wrong, that we were at the foot of Paradise all along?

I wish that were true. But what I see out there doesn't in any way support such a notion.  



16 Apr 2005 @ 00:25 by martha : We are at the foot of Paradise
only most people don't realize it. They are afraid. Paradise begins inside with peace and releasing all the anger. Allowing spirit to rise. One can still see the disfuntion but simply steps beyond it. Sorta like the half empty- half full glass.....only this is a much fuller experience. People seem to confuse raising one's vibration with no longer seeing the "dark side" when in fact you see more of ALL.

We are not losing free speech. It is just showing up in different areas that can't be manipulated by the corpocracy. Bush and his followers will not be able to keep on the binders. The shift is coming towards a high consciousness. There are clues all around.  



16 Apr 2005 @ 01:01 by jerryvest : Very Refreshing
Thank you again, Martha. It is very hard to balance our body, mind and spirit during these times--I like the 'copocracy' response. I do feel that we are about to shift gears here and rise to a higher level of consciousness. And, we are not alone in this downside. We may be just a blink away from paradise.  


16 Apr 2005 @ 04:26 by Mark Spring @207.69.138.7 : I am hopeful
Richard,

Thanks for posting the recent message about Floyd's article. I fully
share his concern over gathering power among the corporates, and concur with
his assessment of the 2004 election, but I do not share his sense of having
lost all power. Consider that the progressives (or more progressive side,
anyway) won in 2000, and narrowly "lost" in 2004. What we are seeing from
the Republicans cannot and will not stand, especially in light of the
country's strongly felt division. This is not a Reaganesque-landslide
America we're seeing. And the right wing religious conservatives, when they
show their true colors (e.g., the Schiavo Hypocrisy)--well, the public
outright abhors them. This seems to reveal a limit on their power to enact
their deeper cultural agenda.

But certainly the extremist elements within the Republican party are
emboldened, and will produce candidates for the 2008 election. This is a
good thing. I'm hoping someone like DeLay or Coburn will run. The battle
against moderate, pro-choice Republicans will strain if not split that awful
alliance of corporates and "values voters." A strong progressive Democrat
who is not bashful, but confident and articulate in his beliefs, would be
able to transcend such a divided and seething lot. Now the key will be to
find and nominate that progressive Democrat. And before all this, we must
rebuild the Congress and Senate in 2006. In any case, I am hopeful.


Peace,


Mark

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

We met Mark and Jennifer Spring during the election campaign here in Appalachian Ohio. This young and dedicated couple has chosen to make a home in the poorest county in the state...and with a Bush/Cheney sign on every lawn. He teaches and she does public nursing, and both are prime examples of everything that is good and true about this country. Watch for Mark if ever he decides to run for political office!

---Richard  



16 Apr 2005 @ 17:44 by Quinty @68.226.90.181 : Well
I was referring to the "paradise" the Bushies and fundamenalists are offering. Yes, one can always take a book of good poetry and sit beneath a tree in the sun. That could be done even in Hitler's Germany.

Mark makes several good points.....  



16 Apr 2005 @ 20:42 by jazzolog : C*A*U*T*I*O*N
The foot of paradise for some is under the heel of tyranny for another. Dare I extend the metaphor: it all depends where you are in the solework? I better not lest Scotty and some of the others come in here.

Look, I welcome all the Christ and Gandhi figures we can muster now or any time. But I have to say that over the last quarter century there has been an attitude around that I call the Woodstock Syndrome. And I need to remind myself to have a talk with young Mark Spring about this too. Woodstock just sorta came together out of a lot of good vibes and funloving people...but it never was a viable political movement. Woodstock never even could repeat itself.

Positive energy just doesn't do it for me...and too much of it gives me a terminal short circuit. I was at the Athens Farmers Market today, and I said to my son, "Everybody's too positive here. I've got to get out. I need a balanced reality!" A festival of positive vibes today seems obscene to me.

Maybe Quinty and I are just curmudgeons...but of course compared to us somebody like Vax is completely medieval. But that's how it is. Perhaps we're a trio of Macbeth witches...or maybe a chorus to sing like Dylan Thomas that we must "rage against the dying of the light"!  



16 Apr 2005 @ 21:09 by Quinty @68.226.90.181 : Macbeth witches

Under the solework?.... What was it the witches did? Besides stir the pot? Thank you Richard.

Let's not forget Woodstock was soon co-opted. It soon appeared even in advertising and all the Summer of Love's novelty and flair was swallowed up by the larger culture. Vulgarized, its meaning lost.And that was that.

My crystal ball is foggy and I'm neither an optimist or a pessimist. I can't see how current worldly affairs will eventually turn out. I do know, though, that we had better not simply dismiss the far Christian right as a bunch of loonies believing that the American people will soon wake up. That - need I add? - is a common mistake in logic. I have made it: we all - I dare speak for you too - have probably made it - which is to believe that simply because a position we take is sane and sensible a majority of sane and sensible people will also believe it. For, after all, a lot of folks may not view our precious opinions and attitudes on world or national affairs as sane and sensible. Not even in the Bill of Rights - that is, if they know what the Bill of Rights are? Or that in our republic they even supersede the word of God? Or that greed and fear of huge enemies out there might destroy our democracy?

Anyway, in a time of plague and constant warfare there are always beautiful and spiritual places one can take refuge in. That's what the monks did, didn't they, in the Middle Ages. We are approaching a bend, I believe, and frankly, I have no idea how we are going to turn at that bend. Fast, or sliding: or if we will go off a cliff?

Gottago dinner's getting ready.....  



16 Apr 2005 @ 21:21 by martha : Curmudgeons
You said it, not me...LOL...(Vax and I are quite clear about where we stand on this subject...LOL)

And may I remind you that just because one is happy and looks on the bright side it doesn't mean one doesn't see the dark force also!
Bet you don't like this song:
([link])

A few lines for you Jazzy and Quinty---

"In your life expect some trouble
But when you worry
You make it double "

(And for all of you that are new to NCN, Jazzy and I have gone round and round on this subject of positive, happy energy for several years now...hahahaha...can't say much has changed in our positions except that I am more firmly in the higher vibration camp of love, peace and positive outlook.)

******************

And of course my sense of humor through those years has expanded to surround, engulf, and sometimes actually explode Martha into a myriad of positive sparkling particles that shower upon us constantly.

---jazzy

***********************************************************
Hey Jazzy I notice you changed the subject of this comment!!!!!!!!!!!!

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

O now I know what you mean! Finally figured it out (6 AM 4/18). You may have noticed that when one uses quotation marks in the Subject box, what you write disappears completely if you come back in to edit it. I was too lazy to go find what you were quoting and put it back in, so I just used what I thought you might think was the most important word. Just put it back if you want...or let me know if you want me to.

---jazz  



16 Apr 2005 @ 22:57 by Quinty @68.226.90.181 : Hamlet
But if you don't pay attention then can't trouble indeed eventually double!

But let's not worry ourselves sick over that? We can, can't we, remain sane in spite of all the portents. I think, Richard, we live more in the times of Hamlet than Macbeth. (Did you ever see the Mel Gibson Hamlet? Magnificent! The version which truly opened up that play to me. Very highly recommended.)

No, that our country may be going to hell in a handbasket doesn't, I'm afraid, keep me up at night. Though I have friends who believe it should. And maybe they're right! Maybe some day I'll wish I had done more.

Do I fantasize about the thought police someday singling me out, perhaps? Yes. Do I wonder, at times, who they may go after first? Yes. (Certainly not me: we all know who the likely suspects are.) Did this round of 10,000 arrests our Justice Department recently orchestrated make me wonder if it could have been a dress rehearsal for something larger later on? Yes. Do I catch myself up and remind myself that an unreasonable paranoia may have actually gripped my mind? Oh, yes. Certainly.

But just look at these people. Look at what they do. Who they are and, yes, the immense power they have. I would like to have more faith in my fellow citizens, that amalgamate known as the American people, but they failed test one: the 2004 elections. And there are other examples throughout history - those most cultured, advanced Europeans, the brethren of Goethe and Beethoven, who thought Nazism wasn't such a bad idea - oh, yes, they were only forty percent until Hitler took power. Then how many were they? Can we presume, upon a quick review of history, that folly will never triumph again? Or do we go with Thorton Wilder, who said that "by the skin of our teeth" we avert such disasters?

Worry? Of course I do. But, no, I don't make myself sick over it. And I continue to enjoy life.

But asking ourselves if we will have to man the barricades is a little like watching an approaching storm: do we close all the shutters? Do we stay indoors? Do we call the dog in? Bring in the lawn furniture? Just sensible precautions in reaction to the reality of an approaching storm. For being "positive" may not be sufficient to make it all go away. Being "positive" is all very well and nice, but it would still be a good idea to call in the dog. A mere "positive attitude" doesn't make storms go away.

But do what you like. What, by the way, has indicated to you, Martha, that I may not also believe in "the higher vibration camp of love, peace and a positive outlook?" Isn't that what this overall crisis which we are debating is all about? The right to retain a positive attitude without self delusion or selling out?

Have a very good evening, Paul  



17 Apr 2005 @ 00:32 by martha : Jazzy caling you a curmudgeon
"What, by the way, has indicated to you, Martha, that I may not also believe in "the higher vibration camp of love, peace and a positive outlook?"
To quote jazz "Maybe Quinty and I are just curmudgeons."

So maybe jazz is incorrect. It does seem to be a paradox to be a curmudgeon and also in a higher vibration of love, peace and a positive outlook. Maybe you can explain the paradox.  



17 Apr 2005 @ 01:33 by Quinty @68.226.90.181 : Curmudgeons

But I don't accept your paradox.

His intent and meaning may have been somewhat ironic. But I won't speak for Richard, when I raise the possibility of being somewhat curmudgeonly myself. For if we exist, to some extent, in the eyes of others then it may be safe to say that we all take on many different forms. I would rather think I'm skeptical, which, as we know, the thought police (fundamentalists?) would most definitely see as an expression of negativity. Or curmudgeonlike behavior. For they demand assent and conformity. If the opposite of following is being a curmudgeon then perhaps I'm guilty. But not, I hope, in a truly negative manner.

There are many paradoxes in life. Heaven and hell exist side by side. It's getting somewhat late though. I hope you have a pleasant evening...... and a good night.  



17 Apr 2005 @ 07:45 by Robert Whealey @207.69.138.201 : A Little History
Dear Richard,

I think Chris Floyd is a cynical or a disillusioned liberal. He gives up too soon.

Yes, the ideals of the Enlightenment are trashed by TV pundits and Republican Party leaders. But I would not admit that liberal ideals are "gone" or "lost."

Power tends to corrupt, and the power elite will eventually collapse as it did in 1781, 1789, 1860, 1929 and 1968. The primitives eventually destroy themselves through their own irrationality.

The age of debate was 1965 to 1976-- you caught it. Before that 1930 to 1945 was a great age of debate. I caught the ripple in college classes 1948 to 1959--. The ripple prepared my mind for the 1960s.

History does move in cycles. As Jesse Jackson would say --"Keep Hope alive." Drew Peason a liberal radio commentator in 1941? to 1950? use to sign off--"Make Democracy live."

Bob Whealey

%%%%%%%%%%%

Amazingly, Quinty, OU Associate Professor Emeritus of History Bob Whealey began his college studies at BATES...as did we.

---Richard  



17 Apr 2005 @ 14:12 by martha : Good News
([link])
([link])
([link])  



17 Apr 2005 @ 16:07 by Quinty @68.226.90.181 : Zeffirelli

Franco Zeffirelli directed and reshaped his version, cutting and moving things around. For me it worked beautifully. Yes, who would think the guy who gave us the flagellated Christ would do Hamlet so well? And the rest of the cast was magnificent too. I'm no Shakespeare scholar and I don't remember if the original intended the universal characterization this version so profoundly offers. For the madness which grips the state seems expressive of humanity's fragility. Positive, negative: phooey on those terms! Anyone who has watched American affairs at all over the past few decades knows this country periodically goes through phases of madness. Just look at the world! What would you call Pol Pot? Hitler? Mussolini? The Communist insane asylum? Are we here in the United States any better than anyone else in the world? Do we have a superior humanity? Are we less liable to go off the deep end than Germany, which possessed a culture, if not a political system, which makes America's seem paltry? If it can happen there, it can happen here, as Sinclair Lewis once reminded us. Which is why it is incumbent upon us to be vigilant. And to protest when extremists take the power.  



17 Apr 2005 @ 17:09 by Quinty @68.226.90.181 : More on Floyd

I wouldn't say, like Floyd, that the game is up. But the prospect is not all reassuring. What can save us from going over the brink. (No, I don't think we're there yet. Not yet.)

Will Democracy save us?

Can we expect the American people to wake up, and shout out "STOP!" in unison. That the overwhelming force and will of the people’s voice will change the course of the nation? What we have seen so far is not very reassuring: after all, a majority (when it should only have been a small minority) voted Bush back in. In spite of unending bad news even on the mainstream mass media. Will the American people wake up, at least a majority of them? And vote the rascals out? Will there be time? Will they be fooled and manipulated once again? And again? Or will Lincoln's famous observation - that you can't fool all of the people all of the time - eventually will out?

Will the Bushies self destruct?

Probably. But will they destroy us too as they self destruct? And how far will they go before they fall apart? The question is: when? But by then will our democracy be in complete shambles?

Will the Democratic Party save us?

Miracles happen. There are some good progressives who have refused to jump on the Neocon bandwagon. But there are so many who desire to be appear "good," to be "nice," who desire to be outstanding patriots. Who boost and never knock that putting all hopes into the Democratic Party appears not to be nearly enough.

Does Time eventually heal all Wounds?

As our republic erodes, as it is dismantled, as more tax cuts for the rich are passed, as social spending is diminished, as class divisions increase, as the US flexes more muscle throughout the world: with each erosive step that is taken it will be more difficult in the future to rebuild and turn matters around. And if we should go over the cliff, the one Floyd discusses, then the power to change direction will be gone. What then?

But all these observations are made from the here and now: from the view of the minute. Yes, it is good to be optimistic. But not to rely merely on optimism.  



18 Apr 2005 @ 07:27 by jazzolog : What the #$*! Do We Know?
Well, we picked up the DVD of this fairly interesting "documentary" for the weekend. Don't know if you've heard of it, but like many I guess I saw it after friends left and right (in proximity, not politics) mentioned it to me. Now that I think of it, none said they thought it was any good---just they had seen it. As The New York Times' review put it, "The directors make a plausible transition from quantum mechanics to cognitive therapy, suggesting that, just as quantum mechanics states that phenomena are always transformed by observation, so can our perception of reality be changed by altering our ingrained attitudes about ourselves and our lives. Once upon a time this was known as 'the power of positive thinking,' and it didn't involve nearly so much math." [link] Roger Ebert's review actually attempts to answer the question that forms the title of the movie---by concluding, "...we don't know s%&t." [link]

To me, the whole film hinges on the rather extraordinary claim of Dr. Masuro Emoto that positive thoughts affect the molecules of water, and the crystals formed when the subjected droplets are frozen become "beautiful" or "ugly" accordingly. At least 3 times during the movie, the talking head of a potentially quantum physicist appears to say, "If thoughts can do this to water, imagine what they can do to our selves." Dr. Emoto is touring the United States, and in particular "some cultures of the American Far West" (as The Times' review put it) to demonstrate his theory. Perhaps some of our correspondents out there can tell us how it's going. This site is dedicated to Dr. Emoto [link] .

The difficulties I had with the film include that it demonstrates an even harder time finishing up than the last Lord of the Rings movie. Furthermore there is the wisdom of Ramtha sprinkled delightfully through all those physicists. Who is Ramtha? A 35,000-year-old "mystic, philosopher, master teacher and hierophant who channels his voice through the body of an American woman named JZ Knight" (There are to be no periods...like these...around her name, maybe because they didn't exist in Atlantis, where Ramtha is from.) One Times' reader left this comment at the review:

"Made by followers of the Ramtha cult, March 28, 2005
"Reviewer: synthfan
"'What the Bleep...' is a cultish pseudo-science, pseudo-spiritual quack fluff piece. It should be noted that all three filmmakers are members of the 'Ramtha School of Enlightenment', which is widely regarded as a cult. Marlee Matlin is beautiful, expressive and captivating. There are many rapturous, beautifully lit slow-motion scenes in this film. Much of the music is very well done. But take away the pretty computer animations, the slow motion, the hypnotic music, and what do you have? A collection of scientists and non-scientists (including the leader of the Ramtha cult) talking about their personal spiritual beliefs, trying to give them 'validity' by a supposed connection with science. I consider myself spiritual and non-religious, but also very discerning. I have come across too many people and organisations that offer alluring half-truths, that pretend to know but really don't. One minute in an Alexander Payne film holds more power, depth, truth and beauty than this entire film does. It is fragmented, amateurish, half-baked, bad pacing, and worst of all, it tries to subtly slip ideas to the viewer such as 'you don't need things like anxiety or depression medication, once you see the light.' This is dangerously misleading (look up the Scientology cult). I can see some good intentions in this film, but as they say, the road to hell is paved with those." [link]

 



18 Apr 2005 @ 09:42 by martha : pessimistic outlooks
TORONTO -- If you're anxious and pessimistic, you may have a greater chance of developing Parkinson's disease says a new study. "We found a definite association between anxiety and pessimism and Parkinson's disease," said the study's lead author Dr. James Bower, a Mayo Clinic neurologist.
([link])
Parkinson's disease is a disorder that affects nerve cells (neurons) in the part of the brain controlling muscle movement. People with Parkinson's often experience trembling, muscle rigidity, difficulty walking, and problems with balance and co-ordination.

These symptoms generally develop after age 50, although the disease affects a small percentage of younger people as well.

"One possibility is that anxiety could potentially cause Parkinson's disease. It's not that anxiety is causing the illness but anxiety and pessimism have some shared common risk factor and it may be a gene which leads to anxiety and Parkinson's disease," Bower said.

The study found that people who scored in the upper 25% in anxiety and pessimism level on a personality test have a 50 to 60% increased risk of developing Parkinson's disease up to 40 years later.

"This is the first study that took a group of people with documented personality characteristics but no symptoms of Parkinson's disease and showed that those with high levels of an anxious or pessimistic personality are at higher risk for developing Parkinson's disease," Bower said.

Although the study demonstrates an association between anxious and pessimistic personality types and Parkinson's, the findings do not provide the exact reason for these links.  



18 Apr 2005 @ 11:55 by jerryvest : Blaming the victim
This kind of study looks like they are blaming the victim. I think if I had the disease I would be anxious or pessimistic, so which come first? Martha, I think your last statement says it all.  


18 Apr 2005 @ 15:15 by jazzolog : Blaming The Victim
Which brings us back to the main point of this thread. (Whew.) If John Kerry...or any of us for that matter...raise an issue of concern about election problems, it's pile-on time for him. Someone comes down or up with a cancer? What did he do wrong? Doesn't he know how to visualize positive thoughts? I just had lunch with a bunch of education colleagues who prefer not to notice student problems because they just require too much paperwork to document. Hhmmmm. And do we really want a face on all that "collateral damage" we require to satisfy our guzzling thirst for gasoline?  


18 Apr 2005 @ 15:19 by Quinty @68.226.90.181 : Optimism

it seems to me that a healthy human being possesses, by nature, a "positive" outlook. If for some reason that person becomes subdued - by a terrible job, a terrible husband, an oppressive life, biological reasons, whatever - then that person may no longer rise in the morning noting the beauty of the sun. That may become beyond him.

Optimism, I think, comes naturally to a healthy person. And that in spite of being fully wide away, by which I mean aware of life's horrors. And though perhaps fortunate, not being afflicted himself, this person does not hide from the grim realities. There is no contradiction here, for heaven and hell, I believe, exist side by side. It is possible to be both happy and in pain: that is the experience of a mountain climber or someone running the rapids in a kayak.

But when someone attempts to force being positive, or optimistic, that is another matter.

Anyway, I'm beginning to hear my own basso profundo. A human being is many things. Including a clown.

Have fun today. And if you don't want to read the newspaper, God will forgive you. (At least I hope He will. What kind of God are we talking about here anyway?)  



19 Apr 2005 @ 03:31 by martha : Happiness
More happiness means less risk of a heart attack

By Jeremy Laurance, Health Editor

19 April 2005

Happiness is good for the heart. It thins the blood, reducing its stickiness, and cuts the level of the stress hormone cortisol, according to psychologists from University College London. The more moments of happiness people experience the better their health is likely to be, they say.

While the adverse effects of depression and anxiety on the body are well known, the biological impact of a good mood has not been demonstrated before, they claim. The finding, published online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, comes as separate research shows that the risk of heart disease in adults is increased by infections such as colds and flu suffered in childhood.

Researchers found the flexibility of the arteries in 600 children studied was reduced during an infection and in some cases did not recover after the infection was over. Artery flexibility is a key risk factor for heart disease and the researchers suggest in the journal Circulation that there could be a link between this and infections from childhood.

In the study examining the impact of happiness on health, 116 middle-aged men and 100 women from London were monitored at work and leisure and tested in a laboratory. Blood and saliva samples were taken and they were asked to rate their happiness at different points during the day.

Some of the participants never felt happy while others felt happy all the time. Most were happiest during their leisure hours. The main difference found in the study was lower levels in the happier people of fibrinogen, a clotting factor in the blood which increases the risk of heart attack.

Andrew Steptoe, professor of psychology, who led the study, said: "What we find particularly interesting is that the associations between happiness and biological responses were independent of psychological distress.

"We already know that depression and anxiety are related to increased physical health risk. This study raises the intriguing possibility that the effect of happiness may be somewhat separate."
([link])  



19 Apr 2005 @ 05:22 by jazzolog : Prof. Whealey Fears Economic Disaster
Robert Whealey, whose comment A Little History appears in this thread from last Sunday, has a letter in an Athens paper yesterday~~~

Op-ed piece understated the potential economic disaster
2005-04-18

David Ellis, in The Athens NEWS of April 14, wrote a piece on Gov. Taft's tax plan, exposing it as unfair and counterproductive. But Ellis understates the dilemmas of the Republican Party. Since the California Republican Party began the tax-cut program in 1978 under the slogan of "Proposition 13," the Republican Party on the federal level and on the level of the 50 states have constantly cut services except of the federal military and the federal intelligence agencies. This plan sucks money and industry out of the state of Ohio. The Republicans can continue to cut taxes until 2008, and the nation and the state still will not catch up with China's production.

The Republican argument since 1978 has been that further tax cuts will attract industry to those states and cities that cut taxes. It is a false party line that usually fails to materialize.

The fact is that industry has been going to those areas with the lowest wages: Mexico, El Salvador, Indonesia, China and India. American society undercuts its exports of manufacturers, exports capital and jobs to the poor nations. The United States pays for the increased imports with debt borrowed from Japan, China, UK and the Netherlands. Consumers in Athens buy the cheap Indian- and Chinese-made imports at Wal-Mart.

Folks, I think the United States is heading for another crash, probably greater than the 1929 catastrophe. The debtors will have to pay the international banks. When they do, it will drive Europe into further depression. Under capitalism, the banks always win in the long run.

Robert H. Whealey

Historian professor emeritus, OU
Athens
[link]  



19 Apr 2005 @ 06:11 by koravya : Thanks for that item
I like little nutshell statements like this
that can put it all down in a few sentences
or short paragraphs.  



19 Apr 2005 @ 14:15 by Quinty @68.226.90.181 : Prop 13
was a disaster for California, brought about by the politicians' lack of initiative as well as the far right Jarvis Gann types, Republicans who have always hated government spending.

I'm no economist but I don't think you need to be to see that the Bush administraion is not only catastrophically ideological but incompetent. And that their reckless policies can have no good end. In California, today, Govenor Schwartzenegger is keeping the Jarvis Gann policies alive, and has many of us worried because he is attacking the public employees' pension funds. (To which I belong.) It is always easy for politicians to scapegoat public employees. Many voters love it. And Bush, and company, seem to epitomize that ancient rightwing Republican hatred of the public sector.

Okay. But will the private sector provide free health care to one and all? Will private offer free quality education or libraries or pave roads? Does the public sector exist to provide the necessary services the private sector won't offer because they are not profitable? Such as universal health care? Yes, I think Professor Whealey may very well be right and that we are probably headed toward an economic cliff - as well as a choice of others down the road.....  



27 Apr 2005 @ 09:48 by jazzolog : Classic Maureen
I have a separate entry just devoted to Ms. Dowd's often brilliant essays...but somehow this morning I want to put this closer to the top of the jazzoLOG heap.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The New York Times
April 27, 2005
OP-ED COLUMNIST

U.N.leash Woolly Bully Bolton
By MAUREEN DOWD

Why are they picking on poor John Bolton? Everyone knows the man is perfect for the United Nations job.

For one thing, his raging-bull temperament is ideally suited to an organization steeped in global pettifoggers and oil-for-food pilferers.

The uncombed, untethered Mr. Bolton is fabulously operatic - the Naomi Campbell of the Bush administration, ready at a moment's notice to beat up on underlings.

Who doesn't want to see Old Yeller chasing the Syrian ambassador down the hall, throwing a stapler at his head and biting at his ankles?

Who doesn't want to see him foaming at the mouth - yes, it will be hard to tell - at the Cuban delegate over Castro's imaginary W.M.D.?

Who doesn't want to see him mau-mauing the Iranian mullahs?

Who doesn't want to see him once more misusing National Security Agency eavesdropping technology, this time to spy on Kofi and son?

Who doesn't want to see him outrage North Korea by calling Kim Jong Il a fat, maniacal munchkin?

Even if his suave statesmanship were not so perfectly suited to high-level diplomacy, Mr. Bolton should still get the job. A ruthless ogre who tried to fire intelligence analysts who disagreed with his attempts to stretch the truth on foreign weapons programs deserves to be rewarded as other Bush officials have been.

After all, he was in sync with the approach of Condi Rice, Paul Wolfowitz, Stephen Hadley and Bob Joseph - who were all up for big jobs after they torqued up intelligence to fit the White House's theological beliefs.

Condi breezed into the secretary of state job, even after she helped Dick Cheney gin up the Iraq war, ignoring reports debunking the notion of Iraqi nuclear tubes, and even after she told Congress she'd shrugged at the Aug. 6, 2001, presidential daily brief headlined "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States."

Mr. Wolfowitz was eager to sell the war, ignoring predictions of insurgency and possible civil war. So he and Donald Rumsfeld left our troops so stretched and vulnerable that they were reduced to using cardboard cutouts to stand sentry, and to jury-rigging Humvees that had not been properly armored, resulting in many lost limbs and lives.

So Mr. Wolfowitz now has the prestigious job of World Bank president.

George Tenet presided over the two biggest intelligence failures in modern history. He slam-dunked a Medal of Freedom out of them.

Just as Mr. Bolton and Mr. Cheney tried to shovel distortions into Colin Powell's U.N. speech, Mr. Hadley and Mr. Joseph put distortions into President Bush's State of the Union address.

Dick Cheney intimidated C.I.A. analysts before the war. And he and President Bush let North Korea and Iran race ahead with their nuclear programs, and let Osama roam free, while they indulged their idée fixe on Iraq. Their reward? A second term.

In the Bush 41 era, good manners and judiciousness were prized. In Bush 43's Washington, bristling and bullying are the cardinal virtues. Putting an ideological filter on reality is a good career move.

Once more using 9/11 as a rationale, Karl Rove told USA Today that the terrorist attacks proved that officials should "be contesting, not simply supinely receiving, information from security analysts." He also rejected a deal with Senate Democrats on judiciary nominations and defended the rip-out-their-eyeballs tactics of Mr. Bolton and Tom DeLay.

Mr. DeLay, who makes Donald Rumsfeld seem shy, created what The Washington Post called "an ethics-free zone" in the capital by bullying the House ethics panel, and now he and Dick Cheney are trying to bully the judiciary. Mr. Cheney also defended Mr. Bolton against criticism from the Colin Powell camp.

Colin Powell never got it: there's nothing wrong with a little abrasiveness to win global domination.

We should give the Bush administration credit for not being hypocritical by supporting a mealy-mouthed, mewling conciliator along the lines of Jeanne Kirkpatrick. If John Bolton is unfairly denied a chance to ply his diplomatic talents at the U.N., maybe he can work for Bill Gates.

After Mr. Gates shamefully backed down from supporting gay rights legislation - a Washington State preacher had threatened to boycott the company - Microsoft could use a feral muscleman to face down the evangelical bully.

That's a job - or an ankle - Mr. Bolton could really sink his teeth into.

E-mail: liberties@nytimes.com

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company
[link]  



30 Apr 2005 @ 07:39 by jazzolog : Classic Hayden
Open Letter to Democratic Party Chairperson and former candidate for the US Presidency Howard Dean~~~

April 26, 2005

Dear Chairman Dean,

Thank you kindly for your call and your expressed willingness to discuss the Democratic Party's position on the Iraq War. There is growing frustration at the grass roots towards the party leadership's silent collaboration with the Bush Administration's policies. Personally, I cannot remember a time in thirty years when I have been more despairing over the party's moral default. Let me take this opportunity to explain.

The party's alliance with the progressive left, so carefully repaired after the catastrophic split of 2000, is again beginning to unravel over Iraq. Thousands of anti-war activists and millions of antiwar voters gave their time, their loyalty and their dollars to the 2004 presidential campaign despite profound misgivings about our candidate's position on the Iraq War. Of the millions spent by "527" committees on voter awareness, none was spent on criticizing the Bush policies in Iraq.

The Democratic candidate, and other party leaders, even endorsed the US invasion of Falluja, giving President Bush a green-light to destroy that city with immunity from domestic criticism. As a result, a majority of Falluja's residents were displaced violently, guaranteeing a Sunni abstention from the subsequent Iraqi elections.

Then in January, a brave minority of Democrats, led by Senator Ted Kennedy and Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, advocated a timetable for withdrawal. Their concerns were quickly deflated by the party leadership.

Next came the Iraqi elections, in which a majority of Iraqis supported a platform calling for a timetable for US withdrawal. ("US Intelligence Says Iraqis Will Press for Withdrawal." New York Times, Jan. 18, 2005) AJanuary 2005 poll showed that 82 percent of Sunnis and 69 percent of Shiites favored a "near-term US withdrawal" (New York Times, Feb. 21, 2005. The Democrats failed to capitalize on this peace sentiment, as if it were a threat rather than an opportunity.

Three weeks ago, tens of thousands of Shiites demonstrated in Baghdad calling again for US withdrawal, chanting "No America, No Saddam." (New York Times, April 10, 2005) The Democrats ignored this massive nonviolent protest.

There is evidence that the Bush Administration, along with its clients in Baghdad, is ignoring or suppressing forces within the Iraqi coalition calling for peace talks with the resistance. The Democrats are silent towards this meddling.

On April 12, Donald Rumsfeld declared "we don't really have an exit strategy. We have a victory strategy." (New York Times, April 13, 2005). There was no Democratic response.

The new Iraqi regime, lacking any inclusion of Sunnis or critics of our occupation, is being pressured to invite the US troops to stay. The new government has been floundering for three months, hopelessly unable to provide security or services to the Iraqi people. Its security forces are under constant siege by the resistance. The Democrats do nothing.

A unanimous Senate, including all Democrats, supports another $80-plus billion for this interminable conflict. This is a retreat even from the 2004 presidential campaign when candidate John Kerry at least voted against the supplemental funding to attract Democratic voters.

The Democratic Party's present collaboration with the Bush Iraq policies is not only immoral but threatens to tear apart the alliance built with antiwar Democrats, Greens, and independents in 2004. The vast majority of these voters returned to the Democratic Party after their disastrous decision to vote for Ralph Nader four years before. But the Democrats' pro-war policies threaten to deeply splinter the party once again.

We all supported and celebrated your election as Party chairman, hoping that winds of change would blow away what former president Bill Clinton once called "brain-dead thinking."

But it seems to me that your recent comments about Iraq require further reflection and reconsideration if we are to keep the loyalty of progressives and promote a meaningful alternative that resonates with mainstream American voters.

Let me tell you where I stand personally. I do not believe the Iraq War is worth another drop of blood, another dollar of taxpayer subsidy, another stain on our honor. Our occupation is the chief cause of the nationalist resistance in that country. We should end the war and foreign economic occupation. Period.

To those Democrats in search of a muscular, manly foreign policy, let me say that real men (and real patriots) do not sacrifice young lives for their own mistakes, throw good money after bad, or protect the political reputations of high officials at the expense of their nation's moral reputation.

At the same time, I understand that there are limitations on what a divided political party can propose, and that there are internal pressures from hawkish Democratic interest groups. I am not suggesting that the Democratic Party has to support language favoring "out now" or "isolation." What I am arguing is that the Democratic Party must end its silent consent to the Bush Administration's Iraq War policies and stand for a negotiated end to the occupation and our military presence. The Party should seize on Secretary Rumsfeld's recent comments to argue that the Republicans have never had an "exit strategy" because they have always wanted a permanent military outpost in the Middle East, whatever the cost.

The Bush Administration deliberately conceals the numbers of American dead in the Iraq War. Rather than the 1,500 publicly acknowledged, the real number is closer to 2,000 when private contractors are counted.

The Iraq War costs one billion dollars in taxpayer funds every week. In "red" states like Missouri, the taxpayer subsidy for the Iraq War could support nearly 200,000 four-year university scholarships.

Military morale is declining swiftly. Prevented by antiwar opinion from re-instituting the military draft, the Bush Administration is forced to intensify the pressures on our existing forces. Already forty percent of those troops are drawn from the National Guard or reservists. Recruitment has fallen below its quotas, and 37 military recruiters are among the 6,000 soldiers who are AWOL.

President Bush's "coalition of the willing" is steadily weakening, down from 34 countries to approximately twenty. Our international reputation has become that of a torturer, a bully.

The anti-war movement must lead and hopefully, the Democratic Party will follow. But there is much the Democratic Party can do:

First, stop marginalizing those Democrats who are calling for immediate withdrawal or a one-year timetable. Encourage pubic hearings in Congressional districts on the ongoing costs of war and occupation, with comparisons to alternative spending priorities for the one billion dollars per week.

Second, call for peace talks between Iraqi political parties and the Iraqi resistance. Hold hearings demand to know why the Bush Administration is trying to squash any such Iraqi peace initiatives. (Bush Administration officials are hoping the new Iraqi government will "settle for a schedule based on the military situation, not the calendar." New York Times, Jan. 19, 2005).

Third, as an incentive to those Iraqi peace initiatives, the US needs to offer to end the occupation and withdraw our troops by a near-term date. The Bush policy, supported by the Democrats, is to train and arm Iraqis to fight Iraqis--a civil war with fewer American casualties.

Fourth, to further promote peace initiatives, the US needs to specify that a multi-billion dollar peace dividend will be earmarked for Iraqi-led reconstruction, not for the Halliburtons and Bechtels, without discrimination as to Iraqi political allegiances.

Fifth, Democrats could unite behind Senator Rockefellers's persistent calls for public hearings on responsibility for the torture scandals. If Republicans refuse to permit such hearings, Democrats should hold them independently. "No taxes for torture" is a demand most Democrats should be able to support. The Democratic Senate unity against the Bolton appointment is a bright but isolated example of how public hearings can keep media and public attention focused on the fabricated reasons for going to war.

Instead of such initiatives, the national Democratic Party is either committed to the Iraq War, or to avoiding blame for losing the Iraq War, at the expense of the social programs for which it historically stands. The Democrats' stance on the war cannot be separated from the Democrats' stance on health care, social security, inner city investment, and education, all programs gradually being defunded by a war which costs $100 billion yearly, billed to future generations.

This is a familiar pattern for those of us who suffered through the Vietnam War. Today it is conventional wisdom among Washington insiders, including even the liberal media, that the Democratic Party must distance itself from its antiwar past, and must embrace a position of military toughness.

The truth is quite the opposite. What the Democratic Party should distance itself from is its immoral and self-destructive pro-war positions in the 1960s which led to unprecedented polarization, the collapse of funds for the War on Poverty, a schism in the presidential primaries, and the destruction of the Lyndon Johnson presidency. Thirty years after our forced withdrawal from Vietnam, the US government has stable diplomatic and commercial relations with its former Communist enemy. The same future is possible in Iraq.

I appeal to you, Mr. Chairman, not to take the anti-war majority of this Party for granted. May I suggest that you initiate a serious reappraisal of how the Democratic Party has become trapped in the illusions which you yourself questioned so cogently when you ran for president. I believe that an immediate commencement of dialogue is necessary to fix the credibility gap in the Party's position on the Iraq War. Surely if the war was a mistake based on a fabrication, there is a better approach than simply becoming accessories to the perpetrators of the deceit. And surely there is a greater role for Party leadership than permanently squandering the immense good will, grass roots funding, and new volunteer energy that was generated by your visionary campaign.

TOM HAYDEN
[link]  



30 Apr 2005 @ 07:58 by jazzolog : Classic Molly
Dumb Dems Let GOP Run Wild
By Molly Ivins, AlterNet
Posted on April 28, 2005, Printed on April 30, 2005

Being of the populist persuasion, I am a terminal fan of Thomas Frank, who has gone from "What's the Matter With Kansas?" to "What's the Matter With Liberals?" in the current issue of the New York Review of Books, which is a good spot for it.

Those of us in the beer-drinking, pick-up-truck-driving, country-music-listening school of liberals in the hinterlands particularly appreciate his keen dissection of how the Republicans use class resentment against "elitist liberals," while waging class warfare on people who work for a living.

The unholy combination of theocracy and plutocracy that now rules this country is, in fact, enabled by dumb liberals. Many a weary liberal on the Internet and elsewhere has been involved in the tedious study of the entrails from the last election, trying to figure out where Democrats went wrong. I don't have a dog in that fight, but I can guarantee you where they're going wrong for the next election: 73 Democratic House members and 18 Democratic senators voted for that hideous bankruptcy "reform" bill that absolutely screws regular people.

And it's not just consumers who were screwed by the lobbyist-written bill. The Wall Street Journal shows small businesses are also getting the shaft, as the finance industry charges them higher and higher transaction fees. If Democrats aren't going to stand up for regular people, to hell with them.

Now here's some populist lagniappe (that's a word us populists often use) for you to chew on.

The Economic Policy Institute reports the economic well-being of middle-class families has declined between 2000 and 2003 for three reasons: the generally lousy economy, the Bush tax policies and the cost of health care.

Pre-tax incomes for middle-class families of every type (children, young singles, seniors, single mothers) are down, leaving the typical household with $1,535 less income in 2003 than in 2000, a drop of 3.4 percent.

After taking into account changes in both pre-tax incomes and taxes, the finding remains that most middle-class families lost ground between 2000 and 2003. This is true for married couples with children, elderly couples and young singles, although single mothers did gain 1.9 percent because of the greater refundability of child tax credits.

Family spending on higher insurance co-pays, deductibles and premiums escalated, rising three times faster than income for those married with children, absorbing half the growth of their income.

The Tax Justice Network recently reported the world's richest individuals have placed $11.5 trillion in assets in offshore tax havens to avoid paying taxes, a sum 10 times the GDP of Great Britain. The most authoritative study yet done shows that rich people clip $860 billion in coupons a year off this money.

"Governments appear unable, or unwilling, to prevent the rich employing aggressive strategies to minimize their tax liabilities," said the Observer of Britain. We can emphasize the "unwilling" with this administration.

The ratio of CEO pay to average worker pay reached 301-to-one in 2003. The average worker takes home $517 a week, while the average CEO earns $155,796, according to BusinessWeek. In 1982, the ratio was 42-to-one.

Dialogue between President Bush and a citizen during a February meeting in Nebraska, where Bush was trying to sell his scheme to privatize Social Security:

Woman: "That's good, because I work three jobs and I feel like I contribute."

Bush: "You work three jobs?"

Woman: "Three jobs, yes."

Bush: "Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that you're doing that. (Applause.) Get any sleep? (Laughter.)"

One out of every two jobs created in the United States over the past 12 months was taken by a worker over 55. Economist Dean Baker says the flood of older workers is caused by the falling value of retirees' 401(k)s and the cost of health care.

The number of long-term unemployed who are college graduates has nearly tripled since 2000. Nearly one in five of the long-term jobless are college graduates, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has a brand-new study out showing the uneven division of the fruits of the supposed economic recovery:

"The data show that the share of real income growth that has gone to wages and salaries has been smaller than during any other comparable post-World War II recovery period, while the share of real income growth that has gone to corporate profits has been larger than during all other comparable post-World War II recoveries."

In previous recoveries, workers got an average of 49 percent of the national income gains, while corporate profits got 18 percent. This time, the workers are getting 23 percent and the corporations are getting 44 percent -- about one half as much as the share that has gone to corporate profits.

None of that apply to you? Good. Go listen to Tom DeLay give another lecture on moral values.

© 2005 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: [link]  



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