Sunday, April 27, 2014

Why Elizabeth Warren is My Hero

Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic Senator from Massachusetts, is my new hero. Walter Bagehot, an English political philosopher and the co-editor of the Economist in the 19th century, believed you could understand much about a nation by the people it admired, and I want to make sure I'm standing in the right line.
She grew up in a lower middle class family, where things were tough when her dad lost his job selling carpet at Montgomery Ward. She married young and was divorced before  she went to college and ended up a law school professor at Harvard.
She had revealing interactions with Larry Summers and Tim Geithner, who seemingly never met a banker they didn't love. And so she isn't surprised that in the end Obama gave in to Wall Street and let the bankers walk away without accepting responsibility for nearly bringing our nation to its knees.
She fought hard for the creation of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, and says things like "America's middle class is under attack," or "the game is deliberately rigged."
She is part of my generation, except she's a lot smarter than I am. In short, a great choice for a personal hero.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Waiting for Barackaman to Step Into The Phonebooth and put on the Superman Suit

Some of us who voted for Barack Obama have been waiting for the moment he steps in the phone booth and puts on the Superman suit. It's a crazy dream, really, because we watched him waffle on Syria and knew we'd figured out who he really is. The last few days have unfortunately forced us to deal even more with reality.
In Israel, Netanyahu (who i really wanted to support because I'm an ABBA) put housing on disputed land and, with the help of the Palestinians, killed the peace process. He was for Romney because he figured that rich goy could be manipulated. He despises Obama, but Netanyahu was the kind of kid who picked up extra cash stealing girls' lunch money.
Shinzo Abe, who prays at the temple for war criminals, couldn't get the factions within his own party to give up their special protections long enough to work on a Pacific trade pact.
Then we have Putin, the devil incarnate, who thinks Obama is a pussy, and never really cared what he said.
We didn't want another George W. Bush, but did we really want a man in the Presidency who no one fears?

P.S. He was right not to get involved in Syria, but did we have to watch that wrenching, elaborate ritual he went through? I was not reminded of Kennedy in the Missile Crisis.

Friday, April 18, 2014

My Heart Lies Beneath Korean Waves

Somehow, my heart lies below the waterline somewhere between the Korean mainland and Jeju Island. I can't get the deaths out of my head of the Korean high school students who perished on that ferry boat  The ferry's captain was a coward who escaped the ship in the first lifeboat. He never gave instructions on how to flee the boat before escaping and saving himself. A crew member said they had never practiced evacuating the ferry, so no one knew what to do.
There are 271 people missing, and certainly most, if not all, are dead. If you've ever watched Korean TV you know that Jeju island is the island of romance. I think of the teenagers who had never been kissed, but probably had a crush on some fellow student. They will never grow up to experience mature love. The girls will never hold their own children in their arms. The guys who think they're losers, will never find out they have special qualities that make them valuable to Korean society.
 Before I was a college professor I was a substitute teacher in K-12 to pay for graduate school. I saw the yearning. the fears, the questions on the faces of my students and felt for them. Because I believe God made us all the same, it's not hard for me to connect with those that have perished in this horrendous tragedy.
The sinking on Wednesday has many wondering why only one lifeboat was available, with the 45 others locked up with chains. There is a special spot in hell waiting for the ferry captain, but it will be of small comfort for the parents who've had their hearts ripped apart.

Be Careful What You Wish For

I shop at a strip mall that houses a Trader Joe's and a Walgreens. I'd complained to both retailers that there were no disabled parking spots left, because no one was monitoring the spots and, therefore, anyone who wanted to could park there. They told me it was the responsibility of the strip mall owner to monitor who parked in these spaces.
Today when I got there I noticed things had changed. The strip mall owner had eliminated half of the disabled parking spaces.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Our Government Is Our Enemy

Today we learned from Bloomberg that for the last two years the National Security Agency has been exploiting a flaw in the software used on 70% of the internet to gather information on us. It doesn't matter that this flaw allowed others to hack us and put our finances, social security numbers and other crucial information in danger. NO, our government didn't tell us about it and stole our information while we sat around like lambs to the slaughter.
A few days ago we found out that heartbleed, a flaw in the open SSL security system, put a lot of what we thought was our secure data in danger of being stolen. We had been vulnerable for two years and the agency hadn't bothered to tell us. At the moment. many sites on the internet are not even acknowledging they have a problem, or that they've fixed the problem, so we can enter new passwords to become secure. It's all a game.
Who does our government really serve. It certainly isn't you or me.