Wednesday, November 12, 2008


My prediction:
The USA will be much more secure under Obama than it has been under Bush.
Here's why:
The Bush people have alienated our allies around the world and created many new enemies.
Perhaps Bush and the neoconservatives have done this inadvertently, under the misguided idea that they could bully other nations into doing the USA's bidding.
When Bush said, "You're either with us or against us," it was the dumbest thing I ever heard in foreign policy.
No decent person could have supported our misuse of military force.
Bush stepped all over the vast world-wide goodwill we enjoyed after 9/11.
We should have been building schools and hospitals all across South Asia and the Middle East.
Instead we have been bombing and killing left and right.
Every time we bombed another wedding party and killed another 50 people, we created hundreds or even thousands of new enemies.
No wonder they hate and fear us. We've been killing their cousins and their aunts and uncles.
I always thought 9/11 should have been treated as a criminal conspiracy, which is what it was, and its leaders should have been tracked down by police forces around the world.
I would estimate that the plot was hatched and carried out by about 175 people scattered across fewer than half a dozen countries.
Does it make any sense to kill 100,000 people in Iraq, in response?
The 9/11 plot was developed partly in Hamburg, Germany, in Mohammad Atta's apartment, but the Bush people didn't think about invading that sovereign European nation.
Anyway, here is a column in the NY Times that explains what the Obama administration can do to make us more secure:
(Copy and paste this address into your browser address bar.)
Basically, it says we should cultivate good relationships around the world and try to help people achieve a better life and stop being the world's bully.
Amen to that.
Please join me in wishing the Obama people good luck and Godspeed in righting the wrongs wrought by Bush.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Justice Comes to O.J.

Perhaps the book is about to close on O.J. Simpson, famous football player, funny actor, and stone-cold killer.
The Juice has been found guilty of robbery and kidnapping in Las Vegas, and he faces 15 years to life in prison.
Back in 1995, I was shocked, saddened and horrified when O.J. was acquitted for the double murder of his ex-wife and her friend.
In case you don't remember, his blood was found on the victims, and their blood was found on him.
Police even found blood from the crime scene on Simpson's socks and in his shower drain at home.
No doubt he was guilty, but he got off, because the police were sloppy, the prosecution was inept, and the jury was biased.
So now justice has finally come to O.J.
I think it's bad for society and bad for the individual when serious crimes to go unpunished.
After all, the moral guidance of the law is one of the foundations of civilization.
My first reaction, many years ago, when I first heard of the murders, was to feel sorry for O.J.
Back then, in 1994, the football great and actor was a beloved figure.
Not any more.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
It looks like he has a character disorder, i.e., he doesn't know the difference between right and wrong and has no empathy for others. He has destroyed the lives of two others and now it looks like his reputation and his freedom are gone forever.
It is a sad end to a storied life.
I'm sorry it has taken so long.
Justice delayed, in this case, is no longer justice denied.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Sick of the Lies

I am sick to death of politicians and their lies.
John McCain keeps saying that Obama would "raise your taxes."
The fact is that Obama would LOWER taxes for all but the very rich.
Sarah Palin says over and over, endlessly, "I said thanks but no thanks to that bridge to nowhere."
That is a flat lie.
She took the money, and the state of Alaska is building the "highway to nowhere," which is the approach to the so-far nonexistent bridge.
McCain voted against increasing financial aid for college to military veterans.
But when you tell people that, they say, "No, he didn't. He's a veteran."
When you tell people the truth, they lie to themselves.
They don't need the politicians to lie to them.
They do it on their own.
They contradict the facts with their preconceptions.
How bizarre.
Here is a good article, from the U of Chicago Law School faculty blog, on political lies:
(Copy and paste into your browser address bar.)
It basically says that political lying, as a tactic, undermines democracy.
I agree.
In other words, these lying politicians, who pretend to uphold democracy, are actually tearing it down.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

More On Sarah Palin

Links to the Sarah Palin interviews by Katie Couric, for those who haven't seen them:

(Copy and paste into your browser.)

Honestly, these are good for some laughs.
Some responsible people have called for McCain to replace Palin on the ticket.
He's not gonna do that.
She's drawing big crowds, and he apparently doesn't give a rat's patootie if she is a complete fool.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

They Love Idiots

I don't understand why right wingers love stupid people and choose them as leaders.
Witness two of the most prominent examples: George W. Bush and Sarah Palin.
Bush can't string ten words together to make a coherent sentence on his own, and neither can Gov. Palin.
I watched parts of the interview Palin gave to Katie Couric, and it's embarrassing.
I think we can all agree that these two people are severely limited in intellect and therefore unqualified for high office.
But my question is this: Why do Republicans and right-wing nuts love these morons?
I can only think of a limited number of answers:
  1. Perhaps Republicans and right wingers are idiots themselves, so they choose people who are like them.
  2. Maybe they don't want to feel inferior, and anyone as smart as Adlai Stevenson or Barack Obama makes them aware of their shortcomings.
  3. Perhaps they want the country to fail. Maybe they believe in some misguided Biblical prophecy of Armageddon and they want to hasten it by choosing stupid leaders. "Bring it on," they may say.
  4. Perhaps this attitude goes along with the right-wing aversion to education. The right wingers seem to resent anyone with a graduate degree, or anyone who has ever read a book, or anyone who is capable of analyzing complex situations. "Don't confuse me with the facts" seems to be their attitude. They cling to their ideologies.
  5. Perhaps right wingers are basically followers. They seem to get their ideas from Faux News, a.k.a. Fox News, which of course isn't really news but opinion.
  6. Maybe they have all seen "Idiocracy" and that is their idea of the perfect nation.
  7. Maybe the right wingers don't realize that their leaders are morons. Maybe they look at George W. Bush and Sarah Palin and think these are two very smart people who have common sense and tremendous wisdom. If that is the case, God help us all. If McCain and Palin win, and he is incapacitated, we are in for a very rough time.
The whole thing is a mystery to me. My worst fear is that No. 7 is true.
I guess we'll find out in November.
Wish us all the luck in the world.
We'll need it.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Surge in Iraq

I'm tired of hearing that the troop surge in Iraq has worked.
What has worked is the new tactic of buying our way in, of basically paying people not to bomb us.
We have established new alliances, between ourselves and between various Iraq factions, and that has worked.
We have taken a new attitude in Iraq.
We have recognized that it is their country, not ours, and we can't tell them what to do.
We have started listening to them and working with them rather than dictating to them.
And we have started buying some loyalty.
Now if we could stop killing innocent civilians, both in Iraq and in Afghanistan, we'd be making real progress.
I think we should be building schools and hospitals all across South Asia and the Middle East instead of wasting hundreds of billions of dollars on the war.

Paying the Fox

After studying the $700-billion Wall Street bailout proposal the last couple of days, I think it would be a big mistake.
The idea of giving greedy Wall Street people more money to throw around, after these same greedy bastards got us into this mess, is misguided, to say the least.
It would be like paying the fox to eat the chickens.
There is a good cartoon in this morning's L.A. Times that says it all.
Here is a link:,0,503658.htmlpage
(copy and paste into your browser address bar)

Remember that Hank Paulson is a Republican, and he's from Wall Street, and he spent 32 years at Goldman Sachs.
Naturally, he has a Wall Street bias.

Sweden had a similar problem and did a good job of fixing it.
Here is a link:

The Swedish government took an equity position and recouped some of its losses through taking profits from the companies after they recovered.
That's what we should do, or something very like it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Qualified to be VP?

A friend sent me a link to a PBS poll that asks a simple question:
Is Sarah Palin qualified to be vice president of the USA?
Astoundingly, according to the PBS website, 50% of the people responding said yes.
I was floored.
A moose hunting hockey mom who compares herself to a pit bull?
Gee, that's just what we need.
Let's send her to bite Vladimir Putin.
Maybe she'll leave teeth marks and lipstick on his leg.
That makes a lot of sense.
About as much sense as her understanding Russia because she can see it from Alaska.
Come on, people, let's think about this.
Do we really want blissful ignorance and blind bravado in our VP?
Vote here:

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Suspicious of the Bailout

Why am I suspicious of this $700-billion bailout?
Let me count the ways.
First, the geniuses on Wall Street perfected this tricky business of cutting up mortgage loans and repackaging them as investments and selling them around the world. This was a dicey business to begin with. They did it only to make money, not for the good of anyone but themselves.
Second, many of these loans should not have been made in the first place. Lots of people with small incomes and little knowledge signed on the dotted line. They borrowed money in adjustable rate mortgages or ARMs. They didn't know that their mortgage payments were going to leap from $2,000 a month to $3,000 or $4,000 a month. These ARMs were going to close about them and try to crush them to death (financially, of course).
Sometimes these loans were much worse than that. They were fiscal black holes from which you could never escape. Here is a link to a good story:
Many of these loans were a form of financial entrapment, a con game, really.
Third, the government has lied to us before. The Iraq War, the Vietnam War, the "axis of evil," etc. I could go on and on.
I'm suspicious that this could be a bailout for the rich and greedy, and screw the rest of us.
I'm glad that Christopher Dodd and some other Democrats and some Republicans are trying to keep this whole transaction more or less honest.
But good luck to them.
They'll need it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Experience Issue

Here is another good column from David Brooks at the NY Times:

Basically, Brooks explores the myth of populism -- the idea that the average person makes the best leader (like the ultimate commoner, George W. Bush).

I think it's instructive to look at heroes in literature. What do we want from our heroes? The ancient Greeks wanted courage and wisdom. Brash ignorance didn't cut it. Still doesn't. Neither does rampant opportunism.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Truth? Who Cares?

I hate to say this, but truth doesn't matter in this presidential campaign.
Nothing of consequence matters.
It doesn't matter that Gov. Sarah Palin mistakenly thinks Iraq had something to do with 9/11.
It doesn't matter that she lies about the "Bridge to Nowhere."
It doesn't matter that she is a petty tyrant who hires her friends at inflated salaries.
It doesn't matter that she is foolish enough to think that being able to see Russia is the same thing as being able to understand Russia.
It doesn't matter that she is completely unprepared and unqualified to be vice president or, God forbid, president.
None of that matters.
What does matter is that she and John McCain look good together.
Look at the photos of them together.
They look great together.
They look like father and daughter.
They look like family.
And what a family!
Few of us (in the lower 48) have a mother who hunts moose and catches wild salmon, although that is common in Alaska.
Few of us have a father or uncle or grandfather who is a genuine war hero. (I do, by the way.)
Palin and McCain look like strength in the past and strength in the future.
McCain survived a North Vietnamese prison honorably, so he will stand up to any threat we might face in the future.
At least that's what people think.
Palin can field-dress a moose, so she can dress down Vladimir Putin.
At least that's what people think.
Of course, those things may not be true.
McCain sees enemies everywhere, and Putin is not a moose.
But that doesn't matter.
Forget truth.
What matters is image.
No matter what kind of bull we're talking about, bull moose or not.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Death And The Ports

Gov. Sarah Palin and other right wingers say they are "pro-life," and yet they seem to favor death in some of their decisions.
Gov. Palin -- Sarah Barracuda -- wrote a letter to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Aug. 28 asking him not to sign a bill that would charge a $60 fee for each cargo container going in or out of the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, two of the busiest in the nation.
The fee would be used to reduce extreme air pollution which comes from diesel truck and train engines in and around the ports.
That $60 fee would hurt the economies of both Alaska and California, Gov. Palin said.
She made no mention of the 3400 people who die every year around those ports because of diseases brought about by air pollution.
From her perspective, it's OK that these people die, as long as we can keep making money.
Is her position pro-life or pro-death?
It seems pro-death, to me.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Future Under McCain & Palin

Good column, from the NY Times:

Basically, this says that the way McCain and Palin are running their campaign is the way they would run the White House.
That's a pretty accurate assessment, I'd say.

Change A Comin'

This GOP Juggernaut of McCain and Palin, which seems to be rolling toward us out of control, reminds me of an old song:
People get ready
There's a train a comin'.
You don't need no baggage, you just get on board.
All you need is faith
To hear the diesel comin'.
Don't need no ticket, you just thank the Lord.

Only I would change the words:
People get ready
There's a train a comin'.
You don't need brains or judgment, you just get on board.
All you need is faith
To believe all the lies.
If we survive the next four years, we'll thank the Lord.

Let's start with the lies. How do they lie to us? Let's count the ways.

Lie #1: Sarah Palin put the governor's private jet on eBay and sold it at a profit. John McCain said that.
Fact: She put the jet on eBay, where it didn't sell. Then she sold it through a private broker, and took a $600,000 loss.

Doesn't make near as good a story, does it? Still, it's good that she sold the expensive private jet. But why lie about the loss?

Lie #2: Sarah Palin has been against earmarks -- pork-barrel federal spending -- for Alaska.
Fact: Since she's been governor, she has sought $450 million in earmarks. While mayor of Wasilla, she helped get $27 million in earmarks, partly for her hometown. (Source: CNN Fact Check --

Talk about pork. She has really brought home the bacon. She says she is cutting back. We hope so.

The big War-Hero Background story: To a lot of people, John McCain is a
bona fide war hero. OK, that sounds wonderful. We all love that. Including me. But let's take a closer look.

McCain was bombing the city of Hanoi when he was shot down. The U.S. was participating in a civil war, on the side of the south, where we had a puppet government. We got into the war because of a misguided Red scare. Our government told us, publicly, that if Viet Nam went Communist, the rest of Southeast Asia would, too. Privately, many of our leaders admitted this was all a crock of bull. Those poor peasants in their rice paddies were never a threat to the much bigger, much more powerful USA, far across the Pacific Ocean. That never made any sense.

So McCain was bombing innocent civilians in an unjust war. Sound familiar? Does that sound heroic to you?

My greatest fear is that Americans will vote their fears rather than the facts, that they will fall for a good story, whether it is true or not.

McCain seems to have been a good guy once. I wish he had won back in 2000, before the Bush-Rove GOP machine trashed him by questioning his patriotism and his morals.

Now it's too late. That reminds me of another song:
It's too late, baby, now it's too late,
Though we really did try to make it.
Something inside has died,
And I can't hide and I just can't fake it.

That's how I feel about John McCain.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Pity The Poor Newspapers

I noticed today that the NY Times, still the best newspaper in the country, in my opinion, has resorted to putting a big ugly animated ad on Page One of its online edition. The ad takes up about a third of the page.
That's sad, because it's an indication of how far journalism has fallen.
No one will pay to view newspapers or magazines online, because people are used to getting news on the Web for free.
I don't know what's going to become of professional journalism, which has mostly been supported by advertising.
Who is going to pay for accurate reporting by educated informed professionals who used to travel around the world?
Amateur online bloggers, like myself, can't fill their shoes.
I should know. I was a reporter and editor for newspapers for 12 years and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize my first year as a reporter (1967, the year my son was born).
We amateurs don't have the time or the resources to do a professional job.
I can't go to city hall all day or spend time interviewing the governor about issues like water pollution or garbage dumps, like I once did.
Neither can other amateur bloggers.
We need professional journalists, for an informed electorate, to make participatory democracy work.
Without accurate information, democracy could falter.
I'd be willing to pay $1 a month for the NY Times and the L.A. Times, each.
But that isn't an option, so far.
Two sections of the L.A. Times this morning were only six pages long.
That's sad. Professional journalism seems to be dying off.
Pity the poor newspapers.
Pits us all.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Left Wingers vs. Right Wingers

I don't understand why left wingers and right wingers have such different views of the world.
Right wingers think we are in a "clash of civilizations," that we are in a war to the death with millions of Muslims around the world.
I don't see that. I think there is a relatively small number of Islamic extremists who believe in using violence to bring down the West.
It seems to me that probably fewer than 200 people were involved in planning, financing, supporting and carrying out the attacks of 9-11.
My guess would be that fewer than 10% of Muslims support this radical fringe.
Of course I don't have all the facts.
I don't know if anybody does.
What do you all think?
War of civilizations or radical fringe?

Monday, September 8, 2008

God And Iraq

Another thought on the idea that the war in Iraq is part of God's plan:
It's a way of shifting responsibility. Oh, no, we can't blame President George W. Bush for the war, even though he and his administration came up with the idea, planned it, justified it with phony reports of WMD, and sent our sons and daughters over there to kill and be killed.
They aren't responsible.
God did it.
Whew, what a relief.
No free will here.
I bet they feel better now.
We all do.
Can people apply this to their everyday life?
If you are late to work, that's OK, it's part of God's plan.
If you cheat on your wife, that's OK, it's part of God's plan.
If you cheat on your income tax, or steal from your boss, or get drunk and run over someone in the street, that's OK, it's all part of God's great big happy plan for us all.
God knows what is best for us, so it’s OK.
What a relief. Next time you’re late to work or disappoint a friend or one of your kids, tell them it doesn’t matter. It’s all right. It's God's plan.
Thank heaven.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

God's Will?

I have not been able to confirm whether Sarah Palin actually said that the war in Iraq is God's will. But that idea raises some interesting questions:
If there is a God, how do we know his or her (or its) will?
Can we infer God's will from events?
Is it God's will that hurricane's lash Florida and the Southeast?
If so, is that punishment for being warm places to live?
Is it God's will that about 40,000 people die every year in the USA from car accidents, and about 40% of those die from drunk drivers?
If so, what does that mean?
Does God single out certain people for death on the highway?
If that isn't God's will, how do we tell events that are God's will from those that are not?
Was it God's will that my grandmother died from Lou Gehrig's disease?
Or is God too busy with bigger issues?
Is it God's will that 400,000 people die in the USA every year from smoking related illnesses?
If so, does that mean God is trying to warn us away from smoking?
Or are those illnesses simply caused by smoking, and is that a natural event?
When I was in the church as a child, they said, "The Lord moves in mysterious ways."
Amen, brother. Very mysterious.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Good Column on McCain & Palin

This is the best journalism I've seen on McCain and Palin, by Frank Rich in the NY Times:


Good Night, And Good Luck

Think I'll sign off for tonight.
Got videos to watch -- "Burn Notice" which I like, and "Redbelt" by David Mamet.
It's funny how entertainment oriented we are now, isn't it?
Reminds me of when I was a kid, and my parents planned dinner around my radio shows.
Strange to think I was so spoiled.
Anyway, I listened to "The Lone Ranger," which I thought was "The Long Ranger."
I thought he ranged long distances.
And "Suspense Theater" and late at night "I Love A Mystery" with Jack, Doc, and Reggie.
I loved that stuff.
Buenas Noches.

Future Blog Topics

Here are some possible future blog topics:
1. Politics and spin. What we all want is the plain truth, but we don't get that. How I hate spin. For example: The Republicans hate teenage pregnancy, unless it's one of their own. Then it's OK.
2. Are we our brother's keeper? When should we intervene, and when should we call the cops? Local and international.
3. The role of religion in society. Do these traditional ideals guide us?
4. Literature today. Where is the next great American novel, or even decent American novel, or even decent novel? Where are the new Faulkners, the new Hemingways, the great young writers?
5. Are we Democrats too namby-pamby? Are we cowards? Maybe, in some cases. Are we too politically correct?
6. Our limited knowledge, of schools, of the war in Iraq, of many of our hot-button issues. We speak before we think. We have opinions without knowledge.
7. Is the war in Iraq truly God's will? How do we know God? Can we know God?
Thanks for reading.

Friday, September 5, 2008

What I Hate About Politics

I hate it when politicians trash each other to get votes.
Why did Sarah Palin have to trash Barack Obama's experience as a community organizer?
Trying to help black people in inner city Chicago is a perfectly honest and decent thing to do.
I wouldn't trash her experience as mayor of a small town.
I might make fun of it.
She had some big decisions to make, I'll bet:
What days to pick up the trash.
How to get rid of families of raccoons.
You know, world-shaking decisions.

Hi, folks - first post

This is the first day of the rest of your ... blog.
I had a big e-mail list of friends, but some people were driven crazy, so I decided to start this blog.
It will be about everything in the world -- politics (Sarah Palin, John McCain, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, et al), literature, art, philosophy, raising kids, teaching, movies and everything else.
Feel free to join in.