Saturday, June 30, 2012

Seamus Big Love and SCOTUS

Stuck with nothing to watch at 30,00 feet, I discovered  a 2008 episode of Big Love.  And oh boy what a surprise.  Firstly, it was great to see Lawrence O’Donnell  Jr. (yes Jr.) featured as Bill Hendrickson’s (Bill Paxton) attorney; clearly pre Last Word days. Next was Mireille Enos, now starring as the outstanding detective Linden on The Killing, as one of Bill’s brother Joey’s wives and the fabulous Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad’s Jesse Pinkman, as the Scott Quittman, Sara Hendrickson’s boyfriend.  But best of all was the background soundtrack  a television talk show caller can be heard  telling the host “He saved the Olympics, who cares if he goes out with his dog on the roof.”  Yes boys and girls, the caller is defending the one and only Mitt Romney during the 2008 GOP campaign.  Seamus was news worthy in 2008.  If interested, check out the Big Love episode “Oh Pioneers”.   

Some final thoughts on the Supreme Court rulings this week:

With respect to the Affordable Care Act, Justice Roberts chose jurist over conservatism.  He will be vilified by some on the right as a sellout, by some as an activist, and by some as a turncoat. Conversely, he suddenly has a whole new fan club on the left.  In a rare twist, both sides are wrong.  Make no mistake about it, Justice Roberts is a conservative through and through and if you don’t believe me here are two words: Citizens United.  No, I believe the Chief Justice realized that Justice Kennedy was going to side with Alito, Scalia, and Thomas and made a decision that he would not put the Court in the eye of the storm of political partisanship.   Roberts maneuvered the decision in such a way that he was able to focus the animosity towards him while: limiting the power of the government with respect to the commerce clause, arrest the public belief that the Court had become a political, not judicial, body, and send a message to congressional conservatives that if they did not like laws they need to legislate the issues not count on the judicial branch to do their work for them.

Sticking with the Affordable Care Act, I did a little research on the court battles that ensued the passage of the Social Security Act of 1935, a cornerstone of FDR’s New Deal.  Not surprisingly, legal battles were waged on the constitutionality of many of the President’s programs (it would mark the dawning of an era when the Judicial Branch would begin ruling on the Constitutionality of certain legislative acts), leading the liberal President to threaten to pack the Supreme Court with additional Liberal justices.  At the end of the day, the only Republican appointed justice, Owen Roberts, joined the liberal bloc in upholding West Coast Hotel versus Parrish (1937) leading to the court upholding the majority of FDR’s New Deal programs including the Social Security System.  The sudden switch of Roberts lead to the famous quote ‘a switch in time saves nine’.

Also last week, the court ruled on the constitutionality of Arizona’s  anti-immigrant bill, SB 1070.  The federal government challenged the State of Arizona on the grounds that immigration enforcement was the responsibility of the federal government and if states were left to establish their own immigration enforcement policies, we could end up with 50 different policies.  In the end, the court sided with the government on three important elements that struck down the Arizona law on the grounds that it exceeded federal law.  The controversial ‘papers please’ element remained, due to the government’s intentional failing to challenge the law on the grounds of racial profiling.  Why would the government do that?  Simply political reasons.  The controversial portion that REQUIRES police officers to check the immigration of status of persons has not gone into effect.  When it does, Civil Rights Groups will file lawsuits on the grounds of racial profiling.  Yes this law could easily be back in the Supreme Court in a couple of years after which the Conservative Republican backed draconian legislature will have been dragged through the mud in the public square further securing the Latino vote square in the welcoming embrace of the Democratic Party.

The political spin machines were in hyper drive this week.  On the left, victory had been snatched from the jaws of defeat thanks to the Left’s new BFF John Roberts.  Meanwhile on the right, the great rationalization kicked in: Obama may have won the battle, but lost the war.  Here are some indisputable facts:

·         Both sides will raise a shitload of money as a result of these rulings.

·         Romney will find it difficult to use the ACA has a wedge issue due to his own Romneycare signature legislation.  A fact noted by Justice Ginsburg: “Massachusetts, Congress was told, solved the adverse selection problem. By requiring most residents to obtain insurance ... the Commonwealth ensured that insurers would not be left with only the sick as customers. As a result, federal lawmakers observed, Massachusetts succeeded where other States had failed.”

·         Short attention span Americans will be onto other issues by November.

·         Most Americans have already made up their mind with respect to voting choice.

So ends an exciting court docket.  Stay tuned next year as DOMA is likely to be front and center, and Justice Scalia will continue making an ass out of himself.

Postscript: Has anyone heard from Ginny Thomas?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Keep Them In Your Hearts

On June 21, 1788 ratification of the Constitution was complete.  On June 21, 1964 Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman were murdered in Mississippi one day after the passage of the Civil Rights Act.  186 years apart, these two seminal events in American history are forever connected.  The Constitution established the rights of citizens and the formation and powers of the government of our nascent republic.  Over the course of those 186 years, the Constitution was amended to correct a series of omissions most notably the 15th, 19th, 24th Amendments as they addressed the voting rights of all citizens and the elimination of the poll tax.  On that faithful date in 1964, these three young men were working for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) attempting to get African Americans registered to vote.  The promise of the Constitution and the hope of these young men to establish justice and eradicate subjugation are what American Exceptionalism is all about.

The vision of the founding fathers remains an unfulfilled promise as we face voter suppression activities in Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and other states seeking to deny that precious constitutionally protected right.  And worse, the lives of three young men were violently ended as a result of their peaceful attempts to ensure those rights to all.  It saddens me and angers me to witness in this country, this shining light on the hill, cannot conduct free and fair elections, cannot guarantee basic civil rights, and cannot establish justice and promote the general welfare.

So while June 21st typically recognized as the 1st day of summer, it should also be recognized as a day that true liberty loving freedom fighting Americans revere with sobering earnest of an unfulfilled promise. That the desires of many Republican leaders and their corporate backers to arrest necessary social progress is met with such indifference by so many.  So I ask that while Americans embark on their summer vacations, barbecues, graduation parties, and beach party bingos, the names of  Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman stay in your hearts. 

“That [Humanism] was the key word for us. And it’s a positive word – not the negative that conservatives have tried to make it. To me, a good Jew is someone who believes in the equality of human beings and reaches out to those in need. That’s what Andy believed-and that’s why he went to Mississippi. Not because God told him to do it but because he believed in human beings helping other human beings.” ---Carolyn Goodman, mother of Andrew Goodman murdered on June 21, 1964 in Mississippi the day after the U.S. Senate passed the Civil Rights Act.

Scratching My Head and Shaking the Surface

·         Did anyone out there think that Tom Cruise as a rock’n roller was going to be a huge gate draw for Rock of Ages?  I guess the studio execs did.

·         When gas prices were rising the MSM loved to ask if that would damage President Obama’s re-election chances.  Now with gas prices down $.40 over the last 10 weeks I haven’t heard a single question asking if the dropping prices improves his re-election chances.

·         Is it me or are we closer to the  dystopian society depicted in the 1975 film Rollerball?  “Jonathan Jonathan Jonathan!”

·         Still trying to figure out how a blue collar middle class folks think they are best served by Republicans.  Perhaps they feel that the impoverished are taking away from them when it is really the very rich that have taken from everybody.  Middle class incomes are getting squeezed from the top, not from the bottom.

·         When did the only consideration to doing something big in this country become “Can we afford this?”  Investing in infrastructure, education, national defense, environmental safety, and general welfare should all be treated as national prerogatives.

·         And another thing, quit comparing household budgets and finances to federal spending.  Last time I checked households don’t build roads, launch nuclear submarines, or maintain national security.  Further, mortgages, car loans, student loans, credit cards, and home equity loans are all debt instruments.  Even the most successful people carry debt.  It’s when the debt load or leverage exceeds practical limits (e.g. wall street CDO binging and home equity loans to finance Jet Skis and Harleys)that the house of cards comes down.

·         Regulatory uncertainty is causing economic slowdown is a crock of shit.  Another round Tea Party driven debt ceiling standoffs and the fiscal cliff we are facing when tax cuts expire and soending cuts sequestration kick in is the real uncertainty.  Wouldn’t it be great if the GOP House leadership drew up a plan and asked the President to review?

·         The behavior of those middle school kids in my former home in Greece, NY is unacceptable and these kids should be dealt with proportionally.  I am thinking community service as long as they are in the public school system.

·         Sorry GOP, you cannot be a legitimate political party if you nominate Samuel Wurzelbacher to run for Congress.

·         The GOP’s zeal to embarrass President Obama through its attack on AG Holder could easily backfire.  Overplaying their hand when the number one thing on people’s minds are jobs will allow the Obama campaign team to exploit this Tea Party driven opposition as the enemy of the people; which isn’t hard considering the low approval rating.

·         While I have always agreed with Fed policy, at least Bernanke is trying to do something, which is more than I can say about Congress.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Executive Orders: A Pathway to Tyranny or Social Progress

Presidential proclamations and executive orders can be a slippery slope.  While we often applaud these Constitutional executive instruments when ‘our guy  (or gal)’  occupies the White House, we are quick to criticize when the other team actively issues its own orders.  I was very pleased watching President Obama’s speech from the Rose garden where he talked about his latest executive order ending deportation of young adults who were brought to this country illegally when they were young.  It is a safe bet to say that support and displeasure will fall along political lines.

But there are difficult question our Republic faces. Does the constitutionally balanced form of our government get out of balance when the executive can issue orders and in the process eradicate the prescribed checks?  Does our Republic become a monarchy? Is what’s good for the goose, good for the gander?  After all, thousands of executive orders have been issued since George Washington issued executive order #1  on June 8, 1789 instructing department heads to make a “clear account” of matters in their departments.

The issue of executive power is not trivial.  Presidents from both sides of the aisle have pushed the power of the Presidency and have seen their efforts contested by both Congress and the courts.  Today, very few people would consider President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation consisting of two executive orders bad for the nation, but how would the suspension of Habeas Corpus be received today?  On the other hand, when President Truman tried to nationalize the steel mills he was overruled by the courts as it was deemed an abuse of power of which only Congress was duly empowered.

While most executive orders are trivial, many can have potentially legal and constitutional implications, where the most ‘threatening’ would actually encroach or obliterate the Bill of Rights:

  • Executive Order 10990 allows the government to take over all modes of transportation and control of highways and seaports.
  • Executive Order 10995 allows the government to seize and control the communication media.
  • Executive Order 10997 allows the government to take over all electrical power, gas, petroleum, fuels and minerals.
  • Executive Order 10998 allows the government to take over all food resources and farms.
  • Executive Order 11000 allows the government to mobilize civilians into work brigades under government supervision.
  • Executive Order 11001 allows the government to take over all health, education and welfare functions.
  • Executive Order 11002 designates the Postmaster General to operate a national registration of all persons.
  • Executive Order 11003 allows the government to take over all airports and aircraft, including commercial aircraft.
  • Executive Order 11005 allows the government to take over railroads, inland waterways and public storage facilities.

Which brings us to President Obama’s recent executive order.  Obama haters, Libertarians, RWNJ’s, conservatives, and some independents will criticize the President and call him a tyrannical monarch wannabe.  Well if you don’t like it, ask your Congressman to overturn it  or file suit in federal court.  For those that are critical of this order, they should be critical of all similar orders regardless of party and regardless of content.  I believe executive orders are legal and necessary when the will of the government and the people fail to meet the challenge. 

I have been gone on record of an active government when it comes to wronging social injustices and looking forward, not backward.  When the government, especially the executive, exceed its constitutional authority, we hope the courts step in.  FDR’s executive order 9066 established Japanese internment camps, something we all agree today was a grave mistake, issued under the fear of mainland sabotage and espionage from Japanese after the Pearl Harbor attack.  Similar mistakes were made following the 9/11 attacks, once again executive orders all in the name of national security.

I am always suspect of increased executive powers  even when I may agree with the order in question due to the precedent setting possibilities enabling future executives to become too extreme.   Then again a packed Supreme Court, congressional super majority, and executive branches all being controlled by the same party is equally scary.  An opposition Congress that has blocked the President at every turn and where 60 is the new 50 in the senate enables the executive to take the road that Congress is the enemy of progress. 

So socially progressive executive orders from any President will always be welcome, socially regressive or restrictive orders will be received with skepticism.  Yes, I guess you can say that I accept that doing the right thing the wrong way as an acceptable policy.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Good, The Bad, The WTF

The Good:

·         Since 2006, the U.S has slashed CO2 emissions by 7.7% or 450million tons, more than any other country.  Biggest driver?  The switch from coal to natural gas.

·         The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) is unconstitutional.

·         According to Bloomberg News, since March the world is consuming less oil than is being produced.

·         In 1958, NBA player Cincinnati Royal Jack Twyman became the legal guardian to his paralyzed and unable to speak teammate Maurice Stokes who had been injured at the end of the season.  As the Sporting News described it “Here was a 23 year old white man adopting a 24 year old black man.”  The 78 year old Twyman passed away last month after a successful NBA, announcing, and food wholesaling careers.   Class act and great human.

The Bad:

·         May, the Erie School Community District banned, Todd Parr’s bestselling children’s book ‘The Family Book,’ because of a page that says “some families have two moms or two dads”.  It was banned after a few parents complained to the school board.  School Board President Charlie Brown, no joke, decided to enact the ban.

·         According to CNN, 1 in 5 Americans admits to have urinated in a public swimming pool.

·         The 21 Jump Street movie.  Jonah Hill is a nice supporting actor, but clearly not capable of carrying an entire movie.  Oh, and Rob Riggle has the villain?  Was Kevin Nealon busy?

·         Cardinal Timothy Dolan, an outspoken critic of President Obama’s contraception plan, while serving as Milwaukee’s archbishop in 2003 allegedly paid a number of accused pedophile priests as much as $20,000 to stop resisting their defrocking.

·         Under a Romney tax plan, compared to an Obama tax plan, President Mittens would save $5million on his tax bill.

·         Bank of America executives failed to disclose mounting losses at Merrill Lynch prior to asking BofA shareholders to approve the acquisition.  These unknown $Billions of losses led to BofA requiring $20Billion in TARP money.  Too big to fail apparently means too big to prosecute under Sarbanes Oxley, the law enacted after the Enron collapse, that is there to prevent shareholders from getting raped by management.

The WTF:

·         The Siletz tribe of Native Americans has been told by the state of Oregon that they can no longer use the nickname “Warriors” for its sports teams because such names are considered offensive. 

·         17 year old Florida high school student Michael Rudi was suffering an asthma attack and the school nurse would not allow him to use his inhaler because his mom hadn’t signed the proper forms.

·         Davis High School in Utah was fined $15,000 because it’s vending machines dispensed soda during lunch in violation of Federal nutrition guidelines.  The WTF moment?  Apparently you can buy the can of Coke or Pepsi or whatever BEFORE lunch and consume it during lunch but you can’t buy it DURING lunch.

·         A sure sign of American Exceptionalism: a recent Gallup poll showed that 46% of Americans believe God created humans in their current form in the last 10,000 years.

·         A Burger King hamburger in the 1950’s was 2.8 ounces and 202 calories. Today, a Burger King¨ hamburger is 4.3 ounces and 310 calories. During the 50s, McDonald’s sole offering of fries was a 2.4-ounce portion with 210 calories. Today, fries come in orders as large as 7 ounces with 610 calories.

·         According to the Daily Beast, among 35 national newspapers and magazines, 81% of the quotes  about abortion came from men.  And in stories about birth control, 75% of the quotes came from men.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Hey Einstein, go figure.

When you say Albert Einstein, the first thing you’ll often hear is E=MC2, theories of relativity, patent clerk, quantum physics, and opposition to atomic weapons.  No doubt the man was a brilliant innovative scientist and there are hundreds of quotes attributed to him regarding science and humanity.  I have taken the liberty to reference two such quotes to frame the Republican party and all those that support what was once grand, but is now just old.

Since the end of World War II, administration after administration, Democrat and Republican alike,  worked hard to keep deficit spending under control while fiscal policy addressing spending and taxation were adjusted based on economic conditions.  That all went out the window when the uber Keynesian Ronald Reagan took office and eight years later, the ‘staunch conservative’ had tripled the national debt.  Along with this reckless spending and tax giveaways, the free market maven started the nation down a path of excessive deregulation that G H.W. Bush and Clinton eagerly continued. 

 Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.

All of that still paled in comparison to the work of the economic genius George W. Bush and his free market fanatical spend and borrow, and cheap money administration.  While the Clinton administration was able to actually create a balanced budget and debt to GDP dropped significantly, all of that was blown away when Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld and the rest of the Nixon-Ford-Reagan refurbished retreads came back to town.  Dick ‘deficits don’t matter’ Cheney made sure that like Reagan defense spending skyrocketed, tax cuts unapologetically benefiting the richest were enacted, two unfunded wars were waged, and a post-9/11 security fueled government spending binge resulted in another doubling of the debt from $5Trillion to $10Trillion.

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
Since 1980 we have experienced 20 years of Republican White House, 11 years of a Democratic White House.  The Democrats have controlled the Senate for 14 years versus 17 for the Republicans, while in the House the Democrats had control for 20 and The Republicans 11.  And both parties have controlled both the executive and legislative branches for six year periods.  It is safe to say that since 1980 when spending exploded both parties have had a hand in it, the difference being one party, the Republicans, claim to be economic and financial conservatives.  While the Democrats where vilified with the phrase tax and spend, the Republicans were borrow and spend; and boy did they ever.  In fact they were so good at it, they actually produced the New American Exceptionalism.  Yes, an entire national cultural identity of spending beyond one’s means took off; the only exceptionalism were the Americans who lived within their means as a result of intelligence and a proper upbringing.

Our unfettered fiscal policy was matched by a unencumbered monetary policy within a wild west unconstrained attack on regulation.  The same regulations that had protected the economy and the taxpayer since the Great Depression had become an inconvenient truth for both Democrat and Republican alike.  Rubin, Clinton, Summers, Geithner, Bernanke, Paulson, Greenspan, O’Neill, Baker, Regan, etc. all went about dismantling banking regulations while blocking the calls for new regulations to monitor the emergence of newer more complex financial weapons of mass destruction such as CDO’s CDS, and some asset backed securities.   It was off to the races.

 Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.

And what happened? We suffered through a series of banking crises in the 1980’s, followed by the collapse of Long Term Capital Management.  In the non-financial sector corporate malfeasance at Enron, WorldCom, Adelphi, Tyco, Arthur Andersen, and others led to the failure of companies, the wiping out of savings, and the destruction of shareholder value.  All of which were mere nuisances  compared to the Great Recession of 2008 that nearly brought the global economy to its knees.  Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Wachovia, Merrill Lynch, and thousands of banks and businesses went out of business.  Yes the very controls and common sense that had guided this country from the Great Depression to the 1980’s had been  swept aside.  Risk management had been replaced with leverage, common sense replaced with gambling, saving replaced debt, intelligence replaced by exuberance,  and all the while our fiscal and monetary policies fed the beast.

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.

So now we have Mitt Romney and his economic plan representing the Republican Party in 2012.  And who does he surround himself with?  Glenn Hubbard,  dean of Columbia Business School and the former chairman of the President George Bush’s Council of Economic Advisors, Vin Weber, former Gingrich protégé, Kevin Hassett, former economic advisor to both George W. Bush and John McCain, and Gregory Mankiw, current Harvard professor and ALSO former chairman of George W. Bush’s council of economic advisors.  And what is Romney’s economic plan entail?

Further tax cuts for the rich, increased military spending, corporate tax cuts, and ultimately increased income disparity in America.  The man has picked the same team that ran this country into the 21st century dustbowl.  Oh what does Romney say he will do on Day One?  Revoke Dodd-Frank and Sarbanes-Oxley.  The two laws created to return some level of oversight, control and regulation to corporations.  These laws are far from perfect and contain too many loopholes for bad business practices and I would love to see them replaced with more streamlined effective and efficient laws.  Unfortunately, Romney isn’t offering replacement, just revocation.

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.

I guess you don’t need to be a quantum physicist to realize that Republican policies are bad for America.  What’s astonishing is the not-so-Grand  Old Party of greying whites continues to trot out the same failed fiscal flops and Americans think it will work.  I guess a sucker is born every minute.
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

If Then

If you think President Obama is a Socialist, then you need to  take a one way trip to Venezuela or Bolivia.

If you don’t believe in climate change,  then you need to go back to 7th grade and take Earth Sciences again.

If you think we are a Christian Nation, then you need to read the writings of Madison and Jefferson

If you think Ronald Reagan was a patriot, then you need to read the Boland Amendment

If you think raising taxes causes job losses, then you need to read the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Commerce Department reports for 1992 – 1996.

If you think deficits don’t matter, then you are likely a Republican in office.

If you think deficits do matter, then you are likely a Republican trying to get into office.

If you think there is no war on women, then you need to research Seneca Falls, Comstock Act, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Lucretia Mott.

If you think the Obama Administration are the ones killing the coal industry, then you need to look into the attractive blonde lady and her American Petroleum Industry.

If you think same sex marriage is a threat to your heterosexual marriage, then you should go to couples counseling.

If you think compromise is a sign of weakness, then you have probably won many battles but no wars.

If you think it is wrong to criticize or challenge your friends, then you’re no friend of mine.

If you don’t the difference between Shia or a Sunni, then you may have worked in the Bush administration

If the core of your anti equal rights argument includes ‘the Bible says’, you need to read the whole Bible, not just the parts that prove your bigotry.

If you call yourself a civil libertarian but oppose same sex marriage, then you’re a LINO.

If you think Republicans like small government, then you need to make a trip to northern Virginia and Maryland to see the new Intelligence Industrial Complex.

If you think fracking is safe, then drink well water exclusively from the Marcellus Shale for one year.

If you think sporting events are fixed, then you may be  a birther, truther, and a fan of Jesse Ventura.

If you believe the President is the most divisive man in recent American History, then you have less credibility than the ShamWow guy.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Rainy Days and Monday Always Get me Thinking

·         The Old Testament when taken as simply storytelling is a pretty damn scary book.  Large fish, fratricide, apocalyptic flood, human sacrifice, Sodom and Gomorrah, the sun not setting, ten plagues, and shitload of murder and mayhem.  Suddenly the Brothers Grimm Hansel and Gretel doesn’t looks so scary.

·         If millions of people texting while walking wasn’t bad enough, there is now a worse danger: people using their iPads as cameras while walking.  I witnessed on several occasions in Manhattan last week people walking down the side walk holding their iPads up to snap photos of buildings oblivious to others around them and the fact they had entered the intersection.  Apparently there is an app for stupidity and thousands have downloaded it.

·         Herman Cain is getting a radio show.  At first glance I ask what qualifications does this guy possess to warrant having his own radio show?  Then I realized there’s Hugh Hewitt, Dennis Miller, Michael Savage, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham.

·         It is obvious to most that the GOP controlled Congress has prevented President Obama from leading the country into a more robust recovery.  Unfortunately, his campaign cannot be based on playing the victim to Republican obstructionism.  Channel Harry Truman and get tough on Congress.

·         Some characteristics of a potential Romney presidency:

o   His would be the first State of the Union address accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation.

o   Progressive taxes would be cut for the rich and regressive fees would be  increased

o   The cabinet would be renamed the Board of Directors

o   Ronald Reagan would be put on the Gazillion Dollar Bill

o   A war on Coca-Cola and other caffeinated drinks will ensue

·         Biggest news story on the Elizabeth Warren – Scott Brown race is the >20% that are still undecided.  Not a good signal for an incumbent as I think the undecided are looking for a reason NOT to vote for Brown.

·         Driving through my Massachusetts home town, it was great to see the independent small business hardware store is thriving. 

·         The biggest misconception about Romney is his ‘practical problem solving’ capability is just what the country needs.  Actually, that is wrong on two fronts:

o   When you’re THE boss of a company, problem solving is a lot easier than as president in a government with three distinct branches.

o   Cost benefit analysis should not the exclusive tool in implementing public policy.

·         With the demise of cursive writing do handwriting analysts still exist?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Reflections from a Reflecting Pool

Last week my wife and I made our annual anniversary visit to Manhattan for great food and theater, and of course shopping (for one of us).  We decided to also return to the World Trade Center site for the first time since 2002, and I was surprised how strong and profound the site remains.  While the construction of the new tower and other buildings moves along, I found myself less curious or interested about the buildings as I did the human stories.  Buildings are buildings, and while there is beauty in the architecture and engineering marvel in the design and construction, they are, after all, just buildings; just marble, steel, and glass.  May the twin reflecting pools honoring those that lost their lives on that fateful day be a permanent reminder of those that perished and that volunteers who conduct the tours and work at the museum and memorial continue to share their personal stories as a cathartic process.  But what got me thinking was the school kids I observed at the museum.  And one particular question from an inquisitive young boy: “Do we know who did this to us?”

The question was dutifully answered by the tour guide, but I got the distinct feeling the boy had no concept of al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, the Taliban, or Afghanistan. How could  a nine or ten year old understand religious fundamentalism, geopolitics, or terrorism when all too many adults in America don’t understand?  No, it wasn’t the question, but the innocence in the asking.  In asking this question this young boy and his classmates have only experienced a post 9/11 world with no concept of a pre -9/11 world.  They will only know of 3 ounce containers in a Ziploc bag, full body scanners, remove your electronics,  and take off your shoes.   The Patriot Act, drones, Islamophobia, and the Homeland Security Leviathan; does the price of safety have to cost so much liberty? 

Now I am not trying to get all nostalgic here, but it is easy to draw parallels to my own childhood.  In the late sixties and early seventies when I was in elementary school, it was the big bad Russians and the godless communists who threatened our liberty and freedom.  By the time I got to school, the ridiculous duck and cover exercises had been retired, yeah that would stop radiation as well as my beach towel would help my fly like Superman.  When the house of cards that was the Soviet Union finally collapsed, I was an adult and already skeptical of what our government told us.  Domino theory, Watergate, Iranian Revolution, Beirut, Iran-Contra, and Grenada pretty much established that too many of our government leaders felt we needed to hate something or fear someone and then declare war on it in order to make us feel safe.  How many times have we faced a new emerging clear and present danger?

I love America.  I love an America that promotes free speech and liberty.  An America where money is not speech and corporations are not people.  An America where hope and love vanquish fear and greed.  An America where the individualist is celebrated, and our young people are critical thinkers.

So my advice to the young boy from the WTC memorial comes from the great American poet rocker Lou Reed: “They say things are done for the majority; don't believe half of what you see and none of what you hear.”

Some may say that is cynical or pessimistic.  Maybe.  But then again, you explain Fox News.