Thursday, July 28, 2011

From Goldwater to Bachmann: A trip with Dante

When I was in high school I was asked by an older friend to accompany his mother on a bus trip from Syracuse to Ithaca where Barry Goldwater was going to speak. Because my family had been Republican since my great grandfather had returned from the Civil War I went willingly
On the bus I met members of the John Birch Society and the Minutemen. I had read enough to know these guy's ideas were crazy and was surprised that they didn’t have horns. But then I listened to what these guys believed and wondered if we lived in the same country.
Barry Goldwater was a decent guy with ethical principles and I very much doubt there would have been a lot of room for members of the John Birch Society in his government. But the Democratic Party had worked hard to make Goldwater sound crazy as a loon, which he didn’t deserve. Was Lyndon Johnson really the person we wanted to follow into war?
However, my point is then the Birchers and Minutemen were then outliers on the party. Later when I was a reporter, a woman I knew was a Rockefeller Republican who worked at a Log Cabin Republican store/meeting place in Cambridge.  She never talked to me again after I laughed at the chance the Log Cabin people would have influence on the party.
I’m not a Democrat, but I find the Republican Party filled with a bunch of out of touch, right wing people who don’t believe in evolution or in anything thought up since Hoover was President. Those Birch Society people seemed rational in person compared with the people who want to shut our government down and not raise the debt limit. They make me think we really don’t deserve the AAA rating if we have elected dopes like these guys. Is this like the end of the Roman Empire?  Have the the Goths  already changed our world?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Rupert Murdock and Morality

David Cameron, the British PM, has been shown to have ignored warnings sent to him about former News of the World editor, Andy Coulson, whom he made his media advisor.
Rupert Murdoch, a media tycoon whose morality has never been his strong point, gave a lot of money to the Conservative party, of which Cameron is the leader.  Murdock was backed by Cameron until it became clear that the News of the World tabloid had participated in not only criminal endeavors, but crimes against basic decency.
They deleted items from the cell phone of a dead girl so the parents and others were lead to believe she was still alive.  The deletions were done so the relatives of the deceased could send more messages that could be published in the newspaper.
The Labor party is very upset about this and Cameron has had to come around to their point of view in order not to appear a heartless money-grabbing politician.
Murdock owns the always dubious New York Post, the Wall Street Journal and the “fair and balanced” Fox News. There was a story today that  one of his British newspapers had asked a  NY cop for the background information on the 9/11 victims.
Cameron had to come around and have a special judge investigate Murdock. The right wing in America loves Murdock. If some scandal breaks out here, will they go all the way down the road with him?
Before Murdock bought it I worked a couple of summer on the New York Post and returned to be a college professor when Fall approached. I worked with a great guy named William Slattery. When I was there he had cancer, but needed to work to have medical coverage. After Murdock bought the paper, Slattery was at a crime scene where his weakened condition allowed a perpetrator to sever both his biceps.
People tell me that later the Post got rid of his health insurance coverage. After all, if your employees can make it appear that a missing 12-year-old girl is still alive to get stories, why would you expect such a man to care about a disabled guy with cancer.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

They chose their Ideology instead of their country

Today, we learned that John Boehner was unable to sell Obama’s offer of cutting four trillion dollars out of the federal budget. They didn’t like what should have thrilled them because it contained tax hikes.
I don’t belong to either party or trust most of the people we send to Washington, but here was a chance to save this country from a ghastly future. David Brooks, no liberal he, said this was a golden opportunity that should have been embraced.
But in the last election people were sent to Congress who captured the anger of Americans who want to go back to the 1940s. Since 45 percent of Americans don’t believe in evolution, this should have been expected.
So those people who had a chance to save America didn’t decide what’s best for America. They decided what fit their ideology.
My fervent hope is that the American people will figure out who caused the damage. Since only 29 percent of Americans are Republican, and 38 percent are independents, there is some hope.
But you can’t talk to a rock, or a member of the Tea Party.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Corporations sent jobs overseas, so Americans are unemployed

Under the Bush and Clinton administrations a lot of jobs were sent overseas to countries that paid 1/8th of the wages Americans received.
Corporations made a lot of money.
Now there aren’t jobs for our unemployed because corporations don’t want to hire. They have fortunes tucked away so they can continue to be profitable.
No one wants to take a stand on this. Neither party represents the American people anymore. They represent the corporations.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Energy Vampires and Our Society

Recently I heard a psychiatrist lecture at UCLA Medical School on the problems of “energy vampires,” who suck the life out of you by pulling you into stressful situations or asking your advice and never following it.
Since UCLA is on the West Side of Los Angeles, where everyone wants to be told they are the only thing that matters, it was well received.
But I started thinking about those who search for this freedom. Think of who this applies to. When it comes to sucking energy;Your parents do it, your children seem to want to do it for the rest of their lives and, because everyone mentally healthy needs them, friends do this on occasion.
The psychiatrist advised people to avoid anyone who sucked the life out of you. Doctor Laura stopped talking to her mother, who was found a long time after she died in her apartment alone. People disregard filial obligations to the parents who worked two jobs to put them through college and can’t get home for Thanksgiving.
Eventually your friends get older, or have bad experiences, so you should dump them so you don’t have to experience their pain.
So you have your life dedicated to your own freedom from outside obligations. The only thing is you’ve become a narcissistic individual who will be mourned by no one. And the more people act like you have, the more the collective glue that holds America together will disappear.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Capitalism destroys Communism, then Democracy

Because my ancestors first saw Plymouth Harbor in 1620, I have always considered myself lucky to be an American. I accepted unquestionably that capitalism and democracy went together like a horse and carriage.
We’ve seen in China how capitalism destroyed communism without increasing democracy. They are stronger because they have command capitalism. They told all the sock manufacturers to move to Zhejiang so the wool and cotton could all be delivered to the same place, cutting costs. Did this bring on Democracy?  No, but it made a lot of American companies richer because they could send their labor costs overseas, where at one point Chinese workers made 1/8th  of American workers. So, #1 Capitalism killed communism.
What about democracy? It seems at this point that capitalism is killing Democracy in America, despite what Boehner thinks as he cries himself to sleep.
McCain Feingold was struck down. Under the illusion of expanding rights to free speech, companies that spend as much as they want to influence an election can do so with impunity. Rich men can spend their private fortunes to push ideas and approaches that only help rich people like them.
(This doesn’t mean I’m hot for the teacher’s union or trial lawyers or want to spend the country I love into bankruptcy)
The number of independents has risen to 38 percent. There are a lot of people like me out there. When I was a kid the CEO made 40 times what an assembly line worker made. Now they make 430 times what the hard working American receives pushing items down a line.
So, from Supreme Court Decisions, to the purchasing of Congressmen and Senators, Capitalism is killing democracy. We once had people in Washington looking out for us; now they’re looking out for themselves.
Maybe you haven’t been around very long and haven’t seen the changes, but many of us have. How was I to know I lived in a country once where ordinary Americans had a voice? It had been that way for my Great Grandfather who returned from the Civil War a lifelong Republican. He painted carriages, which wasn’t exactly a way to riches. But his son became a college professor and believed that America was one country in which everyone counted (Of course, he was white and didn’t see what was going on in the poorer part of town.)
When I was whistling my way to elementary school, I thought our wonderful country would stay that way forever.
I just woke up.