September 30, 2012

money fire community . . .

To begin, here are a few random quotes from Lewis H. Lapham:
Money is like fire, an element as little troubled by moralizing as earth, air and water. Men can employ it as a tool or they can dance around it as if it were the incarnation of a god. Money votes socialist or monarchist, finds a profit in pornography or translations from the Bible, commissions Rembrandt and underwrites the technology of Auschwitz. It acquires its meaning from the uses to which it is put.

More than illness or death, the American journalist fears standing alone against the whim of his owners or the prejudices of his audience. Deprive William Safire of the insignia of the New York Times, and he would have a hard time selling his truths to a weekly broadsheet in suburban Duluth.

A society that presumes a norm of violence and celebrates aggression, whether in the subway, on the football field, or in the conduct of its business, cannot help making celebrities of the people who would destroy it.

More to the Point: here are a couple of more quotes from the man in a recent opinion piece called Feast of fools published in AlJazeera:
The ritual performance of the legend of democracy in the autumn of 2012 promises the conspicuous consumption of $5.8 billion, enough money, thank God, to prove that our flag is still there. Forbidden the use of words apt to depress a Q Score or disturb a Gallup poll, the candidates stand as product placements meant to be seen instead of heard, their quality to be inferred from the cost of their manufacture. The sponsors of the event, generous to a fault but careful to remain anonymous, dress it up with the bursting in air of star-spangled photo ops, abundant assortments of multiflavoured sound bites, and the candidates so well-contrived that they can be played for jokes, presented as game-show contestants, or posed as noble knights-at-arms setting forth on vision quests, enduring the trials by klieg light, until on election night they come to judgment before the throne of cameras by whom and for whom they were produced.

Best of all, at least from the point of view of the commercial oligarchy paying for both the politicians and the press coverage, the issue is never about the why of who owes what to whom, only about the how much and when, or if, the check is in the mail. No loose talk about what is meant by the word democracy or in what ways it refers to the cherished hope of liberty embodied in the history of a courageous people.

The campaigns don't favour the voters with the gratitude and respect owed to their standing as valuable citizens participant in the making of such a thing as a common good. They stay on message with their parsing of democracy as the ancient Greek name for the American Express card, picturing the great, good American place as a Florida resort hotel wherein all present receive the privileges and comforts owed to their status as valued customers, invited to convert the practice of citizenship into the art of shopping, to select wisely from the campaign advertisements, texting A for Yes, B for No.

. . .

The concentrations of wealth and power express their fear and suspicion of the American people with a concerted effort to restrict their liberties, letting fall into disrepair nearly all of the infrastructure - roads, water systems, schools, power plants, bridges, hospitals - that provides the country with the foundation of its common enterprise.

A friend of mine, ASA Army buddy, recommended the read to me . . . I now recommend it to you dear reader . . . (as an aside: if in the Houston area, AlJazeera news can be heard morning exclusively on KPFT). (2nd aside: reminds me of one of the existentialist cowboy's righteous rants a few years back.)

September 27, 2012

Net Job Increase under President Obama . . .

The Bureau of Labor Statistics revised the jobs picture through March 2012 showing a 386,000 net additional jobs gained in the U.S. This would seem to show that President Obama has managed a net jobs increase. Perhaps not yet that meaningful for the overall economy, because it is only a beginning of curing the Bush debacle. Still, it should carry some legitimate political weight. My guess: we will hear more about this.

September 14, 2012

what every girl should know . . .

It is the birthday of Margaret Sanger. A bit from Wikipedia:
In 1921, Sanger founded the American Birth Control League, which later became the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. In New York, Sanger organized the first birth control clinic staffed by all-female doctors, as well as a clinic in Harlem with an entirely African-American staff. In 1929, she formed the National Committee on Federal Legislation for Birth Control, which served as the focal point of her lobbying efforts to legalize contraception in the United States. From 1952 to 1959, Sanger served as president of the International Planned Parenthood Federation. She died in 1966, and is widely regarded as a founder of the modern birth control movement.
Some of What Every Girl Should Know is of the time and we now understand more . . . but the work Ms. Sanger did is without parallel.

September 06, 2012

the Big Dog says how it really is . . .

We Democrats think the country works better with a strong middle class, real opportunities for poor people to work their way into it and a relentless focus on the future, with business and government working together to promote growth and broadly shared prosperity. We think "we're all in this together" is a better philosophy than "you're on your own."

Who's right? Well, since 1961, the Republicans have held the White House 28 years, the Democrats 24. In those 52 years, our economy produced 66 million private sector jobs. What's the jobs score? Republicans 24 million, Democrats 42 million.

It turns out that advancing equal opportunity and economic empowerment is both morally right and good economics, because discrimination, poverty and ignorance restrict growth, while investments in education, infrastructure and scientific and technological research increase it, creating more good jobs and new wealth for all of us.

September 02, 2012

Are we better off now than 4 years ago?

I keep reading the question from pundits . . . both right and left . . . (a fair question by the way) "Are we better off than we were 4 years ago?" The answer is simple . . . Bush was still President (Rice was still Secretary of State) . . . we were listing badly (if a sailboat listed so badly it would have sank beneath the waves) but limping toward an election . . . we were in the process of losing three million additional jobs during that quarter . . . the country of our fathers and mothers was unnecessarily bleeding red AND green . . . we were at war in TWO deserts . . . the whole of the financial system was on the verge of collapse . . . and we were desperately pushing for bank bailouts trying to ensure that the system, or some part of it, would stay afloat. That was where we were 4 years ago. Are we better off now? Damn right! though clearly it will take more than President Obama's first four years of wrestling with the Republicans to pin these lying charlatans to the mat . . . but yes, we are better off than 4 years ago before the President took office . . . and clearly more time is needed to correct the listing ship of the nation . . . We cannot entrust this nation to Romney (with all those advisers and "experts" borrowed from the Shrub's (thank you, Mollie Ivins!) backroom cabinet . . .