Tuesday, December 25, 2007
If you think James Bond could tell the difference, what quality do you think he had that allowed him to discern whether a drink has been shaken or stirred?
If you think James Bond could not tell the difference then why do you suppose he ordered it that way?
Thursday, December 20, 2007
...it's these same kind of environmentalists that took the wolves out of Yellowstone Park and said, 'Oh, it would be so much better without the wolves.' Well, they shipped them up to Canada. Now they had to put them back into the wildlife.link
You know, I think I read about that in the history books. They captured all those wolves in Yellowstone, crated them up and shipped them off to Canada. If memory serves me right it took thousands of trucks to bring in the empty crates and then take the crates with the wolves in them up to Canada. I think I vaguely remember something about some ranchers in Canada complaining that there were already too many wolves in Canada and they didn't need any more. Or something like that. You can look it up, but if you did you would be one up on Glenn Beck.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
“Take some more tea,” the March Hare said to
, very earnestly. Alice
“I’ve had nothing yet,”
replied in an offended tone: “so I can’t take more.” Alice
“You mean you can’t take less,” said the Hatter: “it’s very easy to take more than nothing.”
from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol
The above exchange came to mind when I was thinking about the likely effects of the new immigration law in
Insofar as the law is enforced (laws that negatively impact business often are not) I have no doubt that it will reduce illegal immigration and cause illegal immigrants already in
Since no terrorist that we know of has entered the country by crossing the
Since people who come to this country as adults (legally and illegally) commit about one fourth as many crimes as people of the same ethnicity and social-economic level who were born here reducing the number of illegal immigrants is unlikely to have a positive effect on the crime rate either.
There are hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants currently in Arizona's labor force. If this law is vigorously enforced it will create a labor shortage that will take years of increased legal immigration to alleviate. The short term effects on Arizona's economy are going to be devastating.
If the law is not broadly enforced, if it is only selectively enforced against only certain industries and as occasional publicity stunts for political purposes, then the likely effect is an increase in corruption and a continuing decrease in respect for the law.
In six months or so it will be interesting to ask Arizonians how that law is working out for them.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
One of the most distinctive elements of Barack Obama's public style comes down to what he so often is not wearing: patriotism on his sleeve. Whether he is speaking at a campaign rally, attending a fish fry or debating his Democratic challengers, he comes across as the candidate least willing to drape himself in the usual symbols of nationalism and politics. No flag pin on the lapel. No hand on heart during the national anthem at Tom Harkin's Iowa steak fry. And he generally shuns bold red ties.
Obama refuses to dress the part of the presidential contender, with all of its safely prepackaged banality. He has never fully embraced the stereotypical uniform of Washington. Even in the glossy pages of Men's Vogue in September 2006, when he was positioned as Kennedy, Santa Claus and the Messiah all rolled into one, he was never pictured in the traditional political costumes or doing any of the glad-handing that is standard practice.
Bold red ties are patriotic? Is that universal or just in the United States? Do other countries have different colors or what?
Friday, December 14, 2007
For example, Jim Kuhnhenn of the Associated Press explains John Edwards focus on corporations and lobbyists, rarely mentioning other candidates, this way:
On his current bus tour of Iowa, with the caucuses only three weeks away, Edwards rarely mentions his rivals. …
On the campaign trail, his antagonists now are the corporations and special interests themselves. The Clinton and Obama references are merely implied, hidden in a populist message he calls "America Rising." For the former trial lawyer, it's a closing argument to break away from a virtual three-way tie in Iowa and rise above the fray engulfing his main opponents.
read entire article
If a reporter on the campaign trail does not hear what he expects to hear in a campaign speech, attacks on the other candidates, hypocritical posturing and cynical pandering, then he claims those things are implied and hidden in the message. The idea that the candidate might be expressing his/her sincere beliefs and intentions apparently never occurs to the reporter.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
I asked my father, who had studied for the ministry, about this and he explained that anyone who had studied the history of the church knew that the gift-giving and revelry, the tree, the mistletoe and the Yule log, WAS the true meaning of Christmas. The celebration on December 25 was a pre-existing pagan holiday that Christianity had co-opted. My father explained that among the New England Puritans from whom he was descended the more religious you were the less you celebrated Christmas. My mother’s family was Quaker and although I was not raised as a Quaker I attended a Quaker boarding high school. I discovered there that the Quakers as a religious body did not even mention Christmas as a religious holiday, although almost all the Quaker families I knew had a Christmas tree and exchanged gifts at home. (The Quakers also did not celebrate Easter, feeling that anything worth celebrating should be celebrated every day of the year, not just on one special day.)
Well, over the last 40 years or so, apparently the debate has shifted. People who call themselves conservative are now outraged, not that the true Christian meaning of Christmas has been lost amid the commercialism and marketing, but that store employees are being told by their bosses to say “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas” and, at least in Australia, some store Santas are being told to say ‘Ha-ha-ha’ rather than ‘Ho-ho-ho’. Conservative talk-show hosts and bloggers are outraged that stores are more concerned about not offending their non-Christian customers than they are in preserving Christmas traditions of saying “Merry Christmas” and “Ho-ho-ho” – traditions that extend all the way back 100 years or so. See examples here and here.
I guess I liked it better when people were complaining that Christmas had become too commercial. The idea that store employees and store Santas have become the high priests of our Christmas experience and the debate is only over how well or badly the stores are fulfilling their obligations to our Christmas is just absurd.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
This is in stark contrast to what they had to say about the intelligence about Iraq before we invaded that country. When the intelligence agreed with their pre-determined conclusions they claimed to have reached those conclusions as a result of the intelligence. It should be obvious now that they never were swayed by the facts and have always been faith-based.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
This picture that I came across at flickr.com shows that Japan is truly a civilized country. They actually put up a sign to reassure people that if they lose their hat a nice man will come along and retrieve it for them. At least, that's what I think the sign is trying to convey.
"I view this report as a warning signal that they had the program, they halted the program. The reason why it's a warning signal is they could restart it."
-- George W. Bush
This is George Bush talking about Iran's non-existent nuclear weapons program. He explains that a National Intelligence Estimate that says they have no program is a warning that they might have one. Obviously this has to win some sort of award for circular reasoning (come on, how ridiculous is it that he says the fact they don't have one proves they might have one later….
And if he does believe this absurdity, then wasn't Japan justified in attacking us in Pearl Harbor?
They heard that we had a nuclear weapons program - and we did. And that we might be able to start it any time - which was relatively true. And that if we had nuclear weapons, we might use them against Japan one day - which obviously proved to be true. So, they launched a pre-emptive strike against the United States because we had a nuclear weapons program they feared we might use against them at a later time.
Under the Bush doctrine, isn't Pearl Harbor the perfect case for using a pre-emptive first strike? Japan was rightfully concerned about our weapons program and they rightfully struck us first.
Of course, the only problem with that theory is that there is an excellent chance we would have never used those nuclear weapons against Japan if they hadn't attacked us first. Gee, I wonder if this could be a decent argument against pre-emptive strikes.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
A new assessment by American intelligence agencies released Monday concludes that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that the program remains frozen, contradicting a judgment two years ago that Tehran was working relentlessly toward building a nuclear bomb.
What, I have to wonder, has changed in the last two years. If the program was halted in 2003 then that should have been just as obvious to our intelligence people in 2005 as it is now in 2007. Presumably the official explanation for what has changed involves new data or analysis that was not available two years ago.
My suspicion is that what has changed is that the intelligence people saw the Bush Adminstration, after having pressured the intelligence agencies to find evidence for Weapons of Mass Destruction in pre-invasion Iraq, then turn around and place all the blame on the intelligence community for the faulty assessments when no WMDs were found. I suspect that the sure knowledge that they would get the blame again for faulty assessments of Iran’s capabilities and intentions gave them the backbone to resist pressure to ‘sex up’ the intelligence on Iran as they had on Iraq.
Monday, December 03, 2007
I think that being conservative means a laissez-faire attitude toward enforcement and that is precisely what had gotten many people into the foreclosure situation. When the bank regulators do not enforce fair lending laws or CRA requirements to serve LMI and underserved populations, the predatory products flourish. Not to mention the fact that many of these products were securitized by the investment side of the bank and encouraged through the formation of subprime affiliates early in the history of this debacle. Blaming the consumer is a common practice, but there should be some accountability forbefore any bailout is considered. Conservatives also advocate bailing out before the neighborhood.
I have attached the schedule for a Foreclosure Community meeting this Saturday.Shelley Sheehy
River Cities Development Services
Board Member, National Community Reinvestment Coalition
To learn more about NCRC, visit our websites at:
www.communityinvestmentnetwork.org or http://www.ncrc.org/
Proposed Agenda for Foreclosure
The Quad Cities Reinvestment Coalition (QCRC) is sponsoring a Foreclosure Summit, Saturday December 8th beginning at and ending at 1:30 p.m.
QCRC is convening this meeting in an effort to bring all community resources together to educate ourselves on the extent of the problem and to form a working group to address issues that have come about as a result of the this crisis.
We will meet at the
Again, this meeting is not designed for those who are in the midst of a foreclosure, but to form a community support system drawing upon federal, state, and local resources in the public and private sector.
Registration and Continental Breakfast
8:45-8:50 a.m. Welcome and Orientation to the Schedule for the Day
8:50-9:05 a.m. Congressman Phil Hare (tentative)
Identification of the Problem: Foreclosures in the Quad Cities
· Context from a National/State Perspective: Stephanie Preush-Iowa AG Task Force
· Discussion of Local Situation: Brooke Upton/Dawn Mutum-Plies
· Implications for the Local Economy: Jerry Anthony U of I- Bob McGivern-Koester/McGivern Appraisals
10:40 a.m.-11:50 p.m.
· Federal: Senators/Congressional Representatives
· State: IFA/AG/IHOEP (
· Local: Non-profits/Cities
· Financial Community Response: National/Local
Senator Dodd will speak at @ 11:30 p.m.
12:00 p.m.-1:30 p.m. Brownbag Working Lunch
Community Response: Interactive Session
· Intake/Counseling Support/Gaps in Service
· Monitoring and Updating the Community
· Communication with State and Federal Resources
Since we plan to provide lunch-attendees will need to reserve a spot by emailing email@example.com
Have you been reading about the financial crisis caused by the home mortgage debacle? Here is what Paul Krugman has to say about it. Thinking about it has raised some questions in my mind.
Anyone over the age of 35 or so knows very well the basic rules for making safe home mortgages – ones that will likely not go into foreclosure. They were the rules in place when we were young. A sound and safe home mortgage is based on an accurate appraisal of the value of the property, does not exceed 80% of the property’s value, and is made to someone for whom the mortgage payments are no more than one third of their take-home income.
So, if you are over the age of 35, have alarm bells been going off in your head over the last 15 years or so about what has been happening with home loans? If you have investments have you been avoiding ones that involve pools of residential mortgages? Have you said no to second and third mortgages and variable rate mortgages? If not, why not? Did you think that the need for the old rules were figments of our parent’s imaginations? Or did you think that something had changed so that the old rules did not apply any more? If so, what did you think had changed?
If you considered yourself a conservative at any time during the last 15 years did being a conservative make you more or less likely to think that throwing out the rules for how to write home mortgages was a problem? What exactly have conservatives been conserving?
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Until 2001 the only time this procedure was circumvented were when Nazi war criminals were kidnapped by agents of Israel.
Since 2001 the United States has claimed the right to kidnap people suspected of being terrorists. This did not unduly alarm people who did not think they were likely to be suspected of being war criminals or terrorists. But now the Bush Administration is telling the world that the United States claims the right to kidnap anyone anywhere.
AMERICA has told Britain that it can “kidnap” British citizens if they are wanted for crimes in the United States. A senior lawyer for the American government has told the Court of Appeal in London that kidnapping foreign citizens is permissible under American law because the US Supreme Court has sanctioned it.
The admission will alarm the British business community after the case of the so-called NatWest Three, bankers who were extradited toUntil now it was commonly assumed that
on fraud charges. More than a dozen other British executives, including senior managers at British Airways and BAE Systems, are under investigation by the America USauthorities and could face criminal charges in . America law permitted kidnapping only in the “extraordinary rendition” of terrorist suspects. US
The American government has for the first time made it clear in a British court that the law applies to anyone, British or otherwise, suspected of a crime by
Friday, November 30, 2007
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
I am starting to get in the Christmas spirit. I have been thinking about Santa Claus and his reindeer.
How many reindeer pull Santa’s sleigh? Is it eight, as in Clement Moore’s poem, or nine as claimed by the song “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”? It can’t be both. The two accounts contradict each other. At least one of them has to be wrong.
But what if someone in the future only had access to the words of this poem and song in a printed form that did not make clear that they were fiction? What if all they had were the words of the poem and song themselves – no helpful library classification or other context? What internal clues within the text itself should clue the insightful reader how to classify these writings?
If the action was set in some fantasy place like Never-never land where people lived in tree houses or holes in the ground it would be easy to tell that it was fiction, but the action seem to be set in our world where people live in houses like ours, so that is no help. A good clue that should tell any intelligent reader that this is fiction is the supernatural feats Santa and his reindeer perform – flying and visiting every house in the world in a single night. Another clue to their fictional nature is the fact that the later account adds details to the story – an extra reindeer – without any explanation for why the first telling of the story was wrong about this. The author of the song felt free to modify the story told in the poem in a way that would render the first story false if it were viewed as history. That should alert any intelligent reader that the author of the song did not view the original story as history and did not expect her/his audience to view either the poem or song as literally true or historically accurate.
That all probably seems so obvious that you think it was hardly worth my time to type it. But you would be surprised how many people miss obvious points like this when dealing with religious documents from long ago.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Gamblers, no matter how old they are, may have to show their driver’s license and have it scanned before entering Illinois casinos under a new proposal.
The Illinois Gaming Board is considering the card-everyone idea as a way to catch people who have voluntarily agreed to be arrested if they board one of the state’s riverboat casinos
The article goes on to explain that once someone has banned themselves from the riverboat casinos it takes 5 years and a doctor's evaluation that they are no longer addicted to gambling to get their name removed from the lists.
I think this is an excellent idea. If it works out well how about extending it nationally to all forms of legal gambling? And if that works out how about extending it to sales of alcohol? Just think, once someone agrees that they are a problem drinker and promises to quit, you would get them to ban themselves from alcohol and then it would be a lot harder for them to fall off the wagon.
Everyone selling alcohol (by the bottle or by the drink) would have a driver's license scanner connected to a central database so fake driver's licenses used by underage kids would no longer work. Everyone who did not have a driver's license because they were illegal for any reason would not be able to drink. Everyone who was of age and legal and had never declared themselves a problem drinker would just have their driver's license scanned and they would be scarcely inconvienced. I think it is a great idea.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
For those of you who don't get what he is talking about -- don't worry about it. He's just defending our country.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Since today is Thanksgiving Day I thought I would talk about why I am thankful to live in the
The collapse of the
Polls show that about 70% of Americans think that the country is heading in the wrong direction. I am thankful that most Americans recognize the same problems I see and are prepared to do something about it. Happy Thanksgiving.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
At the breakfast table this morning I was reading Leonard Pitts’ column which was commenting on the lack of reaction to a woman who asked John McCain, “How do we beat the b___,” referring, of course, to Hillary Clinton. McCain laughed and said it was an excellent question. The column asks if the reaction would have been the same if Lieberman had been the front runner and a questioner referred to him as a Hebe, or Richardson as a spic, or Obama as a coon? Leonard Pitts had no doubt that McCain would not have thought those were ‘excellent’ questions.
I agreed completely with the point the column was making but my wife did not. She did not think that calling a woman a “b___” was comparable to calling a Jew a Hebe or a Hispanic a spic. She thought an equivalent insult was calling a man a bastard. Should the column have asked whether John McCain would have thought that “How do we beat the bastard,” referring to Obama or Edwards was an ‘excellent’question? What do you think?
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
DeLay told Yeas & Nays that Republicans in Congress are "looking for something to believe in" and "they're not getting it out of this Republican leadership. … The leadership just isn't getting it."
"They're looking for some backbone,"
Presumably demonstrating the kind of backbone he thinks Congressional Republicans need Tom Delay said of New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, "I'd like to bitch-slap him."
According to an article in this morning’s New York Times as bad as Dafur is Somali is worse.
The worst humanitarian crisis in Africa may not be unfolding in Darfur, but here, along a 20-mile strip of busted-up asphalt, several top United Nations officials said.
Top United Nations officials who specialize in
Somaliasaid the country had higher malnutrition rates, more current bloodshed and fewer aid workers than Darfur, which is often publicized as the world’s most pressing humanitarian crisis and has taken clear priority in terms of getting peacekeepers and aid money.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Our freshman Congressman, Phil Hare of
“I’ve been working on trade issues for 17 years, and Rep. Hare, as a freshman, showed more leadership, more character and, frankly, more relentless insistence for what was good for his constituents ... than I’ve seen more multi-term members pull off,” said Lori Wallach, director of the Global Trade Watch Program at Public Citizen, which opposed the deal. “It was incredibly impressive.”
Sunday, November 18, 2007
It is not surprising that no one without a conservative ax to grind will touch this. The whole story is based solely on the thoroughly discredited word of one man, Robert Novak. In the same way that scientists usually just ignore crackpot theories rather than bothering to refute them, apparently real journalists are simply ignoring this story. I advise you to do the same.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Of course, some of you may be thinking that this rating means that I am not writing clearly and plainly enough, that I am going over most of my potential audience's heads and that may explain my low readership ratings and the fact that my blog has been judged to be worth only $564.54 based on the number of links to my blog from elsewhere on the web. I choose not to look at it that way.
Instead, displaying the attitude that has got me where I am today, I say that anyone who can't understand this blog needs to go back to school.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Friends of Mr. Dobbs say he is seriously contemplating a race for the first time, although it's still unlikely. They spin a scenario under which the acerbic commentator would parachute into the race if Michael Bloomberg, the
billionaire and favorite of East Coast elites, enters the field as an independent. With Hillary Clinton continuing to score badly in polls in the categories of honesty and integrity, and with the public's many doubts about Rudy Giuliani and other GOP contenders, Mr. Bloomberg may well see an opportunity to roil the political waters by entering the race late. If so, Mr. Dobbs then sees a niche for a "fourth-party" candidate who could paint the three other contenders as completely out of touch. New York
Thursday, November 15, 2007
In his column this morning David Broder opines that the relationship between Hillary and Bill Clinton poses unique challenges to the nation should Hillary be elected. He remembers his discomfort when Hillary was given a prominent role during Bill’s presidency:
When Bill Clinton was president, the large policy enterprise that was entrusted to the first lady -- health-care reform -- crashed in ruins. The causes were complex, and some of the burden falls on other people -- Republicans and Democrats in Congress, the interest groups and, yes, the press. But as one who reported and wrote in great detail and length about that whole enterprise, I can also tell you that the awkwardness of having an unelected but uniquely influential partner of the president in charge affected every step of the process, from the gestation of the plan to its final demise.
I don’t get it. How is having the president’s spouse in charge of some initiative any different than having any other equally unelected appointee or advisor, selected by the president, in charge? Condi Rice seems strangely, at least to me, close to President Bush. She is “an unelected but uniquely influential partner of the president.” Why is not David Broder disquieted by that situation? I have to suspect that David Broder’s feelings of “awkwardness” concerning Hillary Clinton have more to do with his political differences with her and his prejudices and hang-ups than with anything else.
Monday, November 12, 2007
Click on this link to go the website of an
This company came to my attention when I was banking on-line and perusing the charges to my and my wife’s credit cards for the past week. A charge of $420 was paid to Universal Hovercraft. I did not have a receipt for that and did not remember ordering anything from that company or my wife having told me she had ordered anything. So, I googled to find out more about the company and discovered their website. As you can see the website makes no mention of anything the company does or sells other than hovercrafts.
So I asked my wife a question I had never imagined I would ever ask, “Honey, did you buy a hovercraft this past week and not give me the receipt?”
She got somewhat alarmed. She has always had a fear that a thief would get our credit card information and suddenly charges for things we had not bought would appear on our credit card statements. The charge for the purchase of a personal hovercraft apparently struck her as the epitome of something we would not have purchased and so it seemed that all her fears were suddenly coming true.
Hours later, after she had calmed down, she remembered what she had charged to her credit card for $420. Our cleaning lady had been complaining that she had borrowed some money from one of those car title/payday loan places and, because of the high interest her balance had kept increasing faster than she could get it paid off. The balance had grown to $420. My wife went down there, whipped out her credit card, paid off the loan. She told our cleaning lady she could pay us back by cleaning our house and we would not be charging her any interest.
Well, it was a relief to know that this was a legitimate charge to our credit cards but why did it show up as a payment to Universal Hovercraft? I have given it some thought and I now have a theory. Whatever relationship there is between the car title/payday loan place and Universal Hovercraft was created, at least in part, in order to give cover to the customers and employees of the loan place who are ashamed of their association with the high-interest loan shop. Not having the name of a quicky-loan place on their credit card statements must prevent some embarrassment for some customers (although it only caused confusion for me.)
The more speculative part of my theory is that the relationship between the two businesses gives cover to the employees of the loan shop who don't want to admit their association with the car title/payday loan business. When asked what they do for a living they say they sell hovercrafts. When they are asked to come to their children's school to talk about what they do they bring catalogs of hovercrafts for the kids to oh and ahh over. That's just speculation on my part, of course.
Very few Americans have the opportunity to see international news the way millions of people in the
In the gym at the NATO base in
soldiers hit the treadmills every morning and gaze at TV screens broadcasting Al Jazeera’s English news channel. When Osama bin Laden makes news, as he did recently with a statement about Kabul, U.S. Iraq, ’s finest work out beneath the solemn gaze of their most wanted enemy. America
Back in the States about the only way you can watch it is if you are one of the 147,000 subscribers to Buckeye Cablesystem in
Allan Block, the chairman of Block Communications, which owns Buckeye, [says]: “It’s a good channel. Sir David Frost and David Marash are not terrorists. The attempt to blackball it is neo-McCarthyism.”
Block, like other cable providers, got protest letters from Accuracy in Media, a conservative watchdog. Cliff Kincaid, its editor, cites the case of Tayseer Allouni, a former
Afghanistancorrespondent jailed in for Al Qaeda links. This is evidence, he suggests, that “cable providers shouldn’t give them access.” Spain
How do you feel about conservatives like Cliff Kincaid threatening cable providers to prevent you from seeing Al Jazeera?
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Eight out of fifty states currently issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. Does this fact encourage people in other countries to come here illegally?
So do the people who are arguing against driver’s license for illegal immigrants have any facts or hard evidence that issuing driver’s licenses is in fact an incentive to illegal behavior? My guess is that there are no such facts because no one decided to enter this country illegally based on any incentive other than the fact they could work here.
The illegal immigrant problem is huge, obviously, and there's no single solution. But there is one word that would get the ball rolling in the right direction and win a lot of voters' hearts: disincentivize. Stop making it so attractive to slip through, over and under the border.
As long as we offer jobs, medical treatment, drivers licenses and in-state tuition to those who come here illegally, why would any right-thinking, would-be immigrant take a number and wait his turn? Why not just throw in the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders and free tequila while we're at it?
Certainly, no serious person thinks we can round up 12 million people and deport them. But it would be refreshing if we began to take seriously what it means to be a citizen and stop making it so attractive to be a lawbreaker.
When Kathleen Parker admits we cannot deport them all and then talks in the next breath about “what it means to be a citizen” she is talking about a two-tiered class system in which we exploit the labor of the non-documented while denying them the benefits citizens and legal residents enjoy. This would have all the standard advantages for us that the upper classes enjoy in any class-based society – and all the disadvantages also. Does a permanent under-class of exploited workers with fewer rights and benefits than the rest of us fit your picture of what America is about?
Friday, November 09, 2007
Well, hold onto those thoughts because, if history is any guide, at some point in the not too distant future people are going to suggest that our troops could have prevailed in
Thursday, November 08, 2007
I guess I won't give up my day job.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God, was in the Quad Cities over the weekend to speak at the Quad Cities Progressive Action for the Common Good's Spiritual Progressives Conference. There is an excellent article in the River Cities’ Reader by Jeff Ignatius about Rabbi Lerner and what he had to say. For example, this is Rabbi Lerner’s take on the Congressional Democrat’s lack of commitment for ending the war in
Many Democrats, for example, believe in ending the war in
These "practical" Democrats have their priorities wrong, Lerner said. "The spiritual world view tells us to go for our highest values, and to let them shape our actions," he said, "not let your actions be shaped by what seems pragmatic at the moment. ... To believe in God is to believe that there is a force in the universe that makes possible the transformation of that which is to that which ought to be. To align yourself with that force is often to be aligned against being realistic."
Here is Rabbi Lerner’s advice for how to fight the war on terrorism.
"We have come to believe that the fundamental reality of the world is one in which people are out to get us and hurt us, and that the only way we can protect ourselves is to dominate others before they dominate us," he said.
In terms of a policy recommendation, Lerner said the
The effect would be "to dry up the cesspools of anger and hatred against the richest country in the world - us - and the resentment that people have about the way the United States has acted in the world, as a dominator," Lerner said. Extremist groups wouldn't be able to find recruits, he claimed.
When you give it a little thought it seems kind of strange that the religious right has convinced so many people that their values of homophobia, xenophobia, capital punishment and opposition to sex education and family planning are God’s values, when everyone knows that God’s foremost commandment is to treat others with kindness and compassion, feeding the hungry and housing the homeless. Although the news media refers to social conservatives as “values voters,” that is a misnomer since everyone votes their values. We progressives have values that are much better aligned with the fundamental teachings of all the world’s great religions than the mean-spirited, punitive world-view of the so-called religious right. It has only been our reluctance up until now to frame our arguments in religious terms that has allowed the conservatives to perpetuate the fraud that God is on their side.
Monday, November 05, 2007
Both incumbent State Senator Mike Jacobs and his challenger Paul Rumler spoke. Mike Jacobs emphasized the bills he had passed and the money he had brought home from
Pat Verschoore spoke briefly. He was relaxed because again he has no opposition. Both incumbent State Rep Mike Boland and his challenger Jerry Lack spoke. Both men have a long history of working for the people of north-western
Rock Island County Recorder of Deeds Pat Veronda, Rock Island County Auditor Diana Robinson and Circuit Clerk Lisa Bierman spoke next.
The last to speak were the three candidates for Rock Island County Coroner. Incumbent coroner Sharon Anderson is retiring after 20 years, so the race is wide open. The Democrats of Rock Island County will have to choose between Dr. Ronald B. Fiscella (a licensed physician and surgeon in the state of
Saturday, November 03, 2007
What would you say is the “defining issue of our time,” an action advocated by all the
Gail Collins, in her column in today’s New York Times alerted me to a right-wing delusion to which I had been paying little attention. Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is leading a charge to prevent the
What threats do you worry about – terrorism, global warming, expanding war in the Middle East, our huge national debt, our declining dollar, antibiotic-resistant infections, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes? According to Mike Huckabee and his fellow wing-nuts, a greater danger than all of those is the possibility that the
I guess that must be a signal that the right-wing has given up claiming that the Democratic candidates are not sufficiently alarmed about the threat posed by terrorism. How could they make that claim when they themselves rate the terrorism threat as less of a danger than that posed by the “Law of the Sea Treaty?”
Friday, November 02, 2007
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Illegal immigrants have come here to work. In most places in the country, including where I live in the Quad Cities, the only way to get to most jobs, is to drive. As long as we have illegal immigrants here working they are going to be driving and if they are not allowed to get driver’s licenses they are going to be driving unlicensed. Although illegal immigrants are routinely stopped and ticketed by the police for driving without a license they just pay the fine and continue driving. What else can they do? They need to work. (If you are unaware how many immigrants the police ticket every day for driving without a license you might want to go down to your local traffic court and hang out for a few hours.) Since they have to pay a fine (starting at $75-$100 for the first offense and going up) every time they are caught driving without a license most of them would get a driver’s license if they were permitted to do so. If having liability insurance was a requirement to get a license they would get that also. It would still be cheaper than the fines they are currently paying.
Also notice that the only options on the table are continuing the present situation of forcing illegal immigrants to drive unlicensed or granting them driver’s licenses. There is no third option. We have an estimated more than 12 million illegal immigrants in this country. Whole industries are dependent on their labor and it would have serious negative effects on our economy if they were to somehow suddenly disappear. Since most of them have Social Security taxes withheld from their pay but will never collect any benefits some people think having large numbers of illegal immigrants working in the United States is vital for the continued viability of the Social Security program, especially with all the baby boomers set to retire. There is no option in the reality-based world for immediately deporting illegal immigrants the moment they come to a policeman’s or other government official’s attention. That is not any more likely to happen than, say, closing down all coal-fired power plants because of the green-house gases they emit.
So which of those two options would benefit you the most? Is punishing illegal immigrants more important than having fewer unlicensed, uninsured, unidentified drivers sharing the road with you?
Monday, October 29, 2007
Many of you know that I am the son of a mill worker -- that I rose from modest means and have been blessed in so many ways in life. Elizabeth and I have so much to be grateful for. And all of you know about some of the challenges we have faced in my family. But there came a time, a few months ago, when Elizabeth and I had to decide, in the quiet of a hospital room, after many hours of tests and
getting pretty bad news -- what we were going to do with our lives. And we made our decision. That we were not going to go quietly into the night -- that we were going to stand and fight for what we believe in. As Elizabeth and I have campaigned across America, I've come to a better understanding of what that decision really meant -- and why we made it.
Earlier this year, I spoke at Riverside Church in New York, where, forty years ago, Martin Luther King gave a historic speech. I talked about that speech then, and I want to talk about it today. Dr. King was tormented by the way he had kept silent for two years about the Vietnam War. He was told that if he spoke out he would hurt the civil rights movement and all that he had worked for -- but he could not take it any more -- instead of decrying the silence of others -- he spoke the truth about
himself. "Over the past two years" he said, "I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silence and speak from the burning of my own heart."
I am not holier than thou. I am not perfect by any means. But there are events in life that you learn from, and which remind you what this is really all about. Maybe I have been freed from the system and the fear that holds back politicians because I have learned there are much more important things in life than winning elections at the cost of selling your soul. Especially right now, when our country requires so much more of us, and needs to hear the truth from its leaders. And, although I have spent my entire life taking on the big powerful interests and winning -- which is why I have never taken a dime from Washington lobbyists or political action committees -- I too have been guilty of my own silence -- but no more. It's time to tell the truth. And the truth is the system in Washington is corrupt. It is rigged by the powerful special interests to benefit they very few at the expense of the many. And as a result, the American people have lost faith in our broken system in Washington, and believe it no longer works for ordinary Americans. They're right.
As I look across the political landscape of both parties today -- what I see are politicians too afraid to tell the truth - good people caught in a bad system that overwhelms their good intentions and requires them to chase millions of dollars in campaign contributions in order to perpetuate their careers and continue their climb to higher office. This presidential campaign is a perfect example of how our politics is awash with money. I have raised more money up to this point than any Democratic candidate raised last time in the presidential campaign -- $30 million. And, I did it without taking a dime from any Washington lobbyist or any special interest PAC.
I saw the chase for campaign money at any cost by the frontrunner in this race -- and I did not join it -- because the cost to our nation and our children is not worth the hollow victory of any candidate. Being called president while powerful interests really run things is not the same as being free to lead this nation as president of a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. If protecting the current established structure in Washington is in your interest, then I am not your candidate.
I ran for president four years ago -- yes, in part out of personal ambition -- but also with a deep desire to stand for working people like my father and mother -- who no matter how hard things were for our family, always worked even harder to make things better for us. But the more Elizabeth and I campaigned this year, the more we talked to the American people, the more we met people just like my father, and hard working people like James Lowe. James is a decent and honest man who had to live for 50 years with no voice in the richest country in the world because he didn't have health care. The more people like him that I met, the more I realized something much bigger was stirring in the American people. And it has stirred in each of us for far too long.
Last month Ken Burns -- who made the great Civil War documentary -- launched his newest epic on World War II on PBS -- and what a story it tells. At the cost of great suffering, blood and enormous sacrifice, within four years after Pearl Harbor it is incredible what this nation achieved. America built the arsenal of democracy worthy of our great history. We launched the greatest invasion armada in the history of warfare against Hitler's fortress Europe, and, with our allies, we freed a continent of suffering humanity. At the same time on the other side of the globe we crossed 10,000 miles of ocean and liberated another hemisphere of humanity -- islands and nations freed from the grip of Japanese militarists. While at the same time succeeding in the greatest scientific endeavor ever undertaken -- the Manhattan project -- and topped it off with building the Pentagon, one of the largest buildings in the world in a little over a year.
It is incredible what America has accomplished. Because no matter what extraordinary challenges we have been faced with, we did exactly what America has always done in our history -- we rose to the challenge. And, now, as I travel across America and listen to people, I hear real concern about what's going on. For the first time in our nation's history, people are worried that we're going to be the first generation of Americans not to pass on a better life to our children. And it's not the fault of the American people. The American people have not changed. The American people are still the strong, courageous people they have always been. The problem is what our government has become.
And, it is up to us to do something about it. Because Washington may not see it, but we are facing a moral crisis as great as any that has ever challenged us. And, it is this test -- this moral test -- that I have come to understand is at the heart of this campaign. Just look at what has happened in Iraq. What was the response of the American people to the challenge at hand? Our men and women in uniform have been heroes. They've done everything that's been asked of them and more. But what about our government? Four years after invading Iraq, we cannot even keep the lights on in Baghdad. When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, the American people were at their best. They donated their time and their money in record numbers. There was an outpouring of support. I took 700 college kids down to help -- young people who gave up their spring break. But what about our government? Three years after hurricane Katrina thousands of our fellow Americans, our brothers and sisters, are still housed in trailers waiting to go home.There's no better example of the bravery and goodness of the American people than the response to the attacks of 9/11: firefighters and first responders risking and too often giving their lives to save others, charging up the stairs while everyone else was coming down; record bloodbank donations; and the list goes on. But what about our government? Six years after 9/11, at Ground Zero there sits only a black hole that tortures our conscience and scars our hearts.
In every instance we see an American people who are good, decent, compassionate and undeterred. And, American people who are better than the government that is supposed to serve and represent them. And what has happened to the American "can do" spirit? I will tell you what has happened: all of this is the result of the bitter poisoned fruit of corruption and the bankruptcy of our political leadership. It is not an accident that the government of the United States cannot function on behalf of its people, because it is no longer our people's government -- and we the people know it. This corruption did not begin yesterday -- and it did not even begin with George Bush -- it has been building for decades -- until it now threatens literally the life of our democracy.
While the American people personally rose to the occasion with an enormous outpouring of support and donations to both the victims of Katrina and 9/11 -- we all saw our government's neglect.
And we saw greed and incompetence at work. Out of more than 700 contracts valued at $500,000 or greater, at least half were given without full competition or, according to news sources, with vague or open ended terms, and many of these contracts went to companies with deep political connections such as a subsidiary of Haliburton, Bechtel Corp., and AshBritt Inc. And in Iraq -- while our nation's brave sons and daughters put their lives on the line for our country -- we now have mercenaries under their own law while their bosses sit at home raking in millions. We have squandered millions on building Olympic size swimming pools and buildings that have never been used. We have weapons and ammunition unaccounted for that may now be being used against our own soldiers.
We literally have billions wasted or misspent -- while our troops and their families continue to sacrifice. And the politically connected lobby for more. What's their great sacrifice -- higher profits. It goes on every minute of every day. Corporate executives at United Airlines and US Airways receive millions in compensation for taking their companies into bankruptcy, while their employees are forced to take cuts in pay. Companies like Wal-Mart lobby against inspecting containers entering our nation's ports, even though expert after expert agrees that the likeliest way for a dirty bomb to enter the United States is through a container, because they believe their profits are more important than our safety. What has become of America when America's largest company lobbies against protecting America? Trade deals cost of millions of jobs. What do we get in return? Millions of dangerous Chinese toys in our children's cribs laden with lead. This is the price we are made to pay when
trade agreements are decided based on how much they pad the profits for multinational corporations instead of what is best for America's workers or the safety of America's consumers.
We have even gotten to the point where our children's safety is potentially at risk because nearly half of the apple juice consumed by our children comes from apples grown in China. And Americans are kept in the dark because the corporate lobbyists have pushed back country of origin labeling laws again and again. This is not the America I believe in. The hubris of greed knows no bounds.
Days after the homeland security bill passed, staffers from the homeland security department resigned and became homeland security consultants trying to cash in. And, where was the outrage? There was none, because that's how it works in Washington now. It is not a Republican revolving door or a Democratic revolving door -- it is just the way it's done. Someone called it a government reconnaissance mission to figure out how to get rich when you leave the government. Recently, I was dismayed to see headlines in the Wall Street Journal stating that Senate Democrats were backing down to lobbyists for hedge funds who have opposed efforts to make millionaire and billionaire hedge fund managers pay the same tax rate as every hard-working American.
Now, tax loopholes the wealthy hedge fund managers do not need or deserve are not going to be closed, all because Democrats -- our party -- wanted their campaign money. And a few weeks ago, around the sixth anniversary of 9/11, a leading presidential candidate held a fundraiser that was billed as a Homeland Security themed event in Washington, D.C. targeted to homeland security lobbyists and contractors for $1,000 a plate. These lobbyists, for the price of a ticket, would get a special "treat" -- the opportunity to participate in small, hour long breakout sessions with key Democratic lawmakers, many of whom chair important sub committees of the homeland security committee. That presidential candidate was Senator Clinton. Senator Clinton's road to the middle class takes a major detour right through the deep canyon of corporate lobbyists and the hidden bidding of K Street in Washington -- and history tells us that when that bus stops there it is the middle class that loses. When I asked Hillary Clinton to join me in not taking money from Washington lobbyists -- she refused. Not only did she say that she would continue to take their money, she defended them. Today Hillary Clinton has taken more money from Washington lobbyists than any candidate from either party -- more money than any Republican candidate. She has taken more money from the defense industry than any other candidate from either party as well. She took more money from Wall Street last quarter than Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, and Barack Obama combined. The long slow slide of our democracy into the corporate abyss continues unabated regardless of party, regardless of the best interests of America.
We have a duty -- a duty to end this. I believe you cannot be for change and take money from the lobbyists who prevent change. You cannot take on the entrenched interests in Washington if you choose to defend the broken system. It will not work. And I believe that, if Americans have a choice, and candidate who takes their money -- Democrat or Republican -- will lose this election. For us to continue down this path all we have to do is suspend all that we believe in. As Democrats, we continue down this path only if we believe the party of the people is no more.
As Americans, we continue down this path only if we fail to heed Lincoln's warning to us all. "At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected," he asked, "if it ever reaches us it must spring up amongst us. It can not come from abroad. If destruction be our lot -- we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men we must live through all time or die by suicide."America lives because 20 generations have honored the one moral commandment that makes us Americans. To give our children a better future than we received.
I stand here today the son of Wallace and Bobbie Edwards. The father of Wade, Cate, Emma Claire and Jack -- and I know, as well as you, that we must not be the first generation that fails to live up to our moral challenge and keep the promise of America. That would be an abomination. There is a dream that is America. It is what makes us American. And I will not stand by while that dream is at risk. I am not perfect -- far from it -- but I do understand that this is not a political issue -- it is the moral test of our generation. Our nation's founders knew that this moment would come -- that at some point the power of greed and its influence over officials in our government might strain and threaten the very America they hoped would last as an ideal in the minds of all people, and as a beacon of hope for all time. That is why they made the people sovereign. And this is why it is your responsibility to redeem the promise of America for our children and their future. It will not be easy -- sacrifice will be required of us -- but it was never easy for our ancestors, and their sacrifices were far greater than any that will fall on our shoulders.
Yet, the responsibility is ours. We, you and I, are the guardians of what America is and what it will be. The choice is ours. Down one path, we trade corporate Democrats for corporate Republicans; our cronies for their cronies; one political dynasty for another dynasty; and all we are left with is a Democratic version of the Republican
It is the easier path. It is the path of the status quo. But, it is a path that perpetuates a corrupt system that has not only failed to deliver the change the American people demand, but has divided America into two -- one America for the very greedy, and one America for everybody else. And it is that divided America -- the direct result of this corrupt system -- which may very well lead to the suicide Lincoln warned us of -- the poison that continues to seep into our system while none notice.Or we can choose a different path. The path that generations of Americans command us to take. And be the guardians that kept the faith.I run for president for my father who worked in a mill his entire life and never got to go to college the way I did.I run for president for all those who worked in that mill with my father.I run for president for all those who lost their jobs when that mil was shut down.I run for president for all the women who have come up to Elizabeth and me and told us the like Elizabeth they had breast cancer -- but unlike Elizabeth they did not have health care.
I run for president for twenty generations of Americans who made sure that their children had a better life than they did. As Americans we are blessed -- for our ancestors are not dead, they occupy the corridors of our conscience. And, as long we keep the faith -- they live.
And so too the America of idealism and hope that was their gift to us.I carry the promise of America in my heart, where my parents placed it. Like them, like you, I believe in people, hard work, and the sacred obligation of each generation to the next.This is our time now. It falls to us to redeem our democracy, reclaim our government and relight the promise of America for our children.Let us blaze a new path together, grounded in the values from which America was forged, still reaching toward the greatness of our ideals. We can do it. We can cast aside the bankrupt ways of Washington and replace them with the timeless values of the American people. We can liberate our government from the shackles of corporate money that bind it to corporate will, and restore the voices of our people to its halls.
This is the cause of my life. This is the cause of our time. Join me. Together, we cannot fail. We will keep faith with those who have gone before us, strong and proud in the knowledge that we too rose up to guard the promise of America in our day, and that, because we did, America's best days still lie ahead.
Senator John Edwards
I agree with John Edwards that the corruption of our political process caused by the need to raise campaign funds endlessly and the revolving door between Congress and the industries it regulates is a moral issue, not a political issue. When I listen to the other Democratic candidates I get the feeling that they think the War in Iraq and the looming bombing of Iran are political issues. John Edwards has convinced me that he shares my conviction that these are deeply and profoundly moral and ethical issues. Unlike other candidates for president he does not seem to me to be taking these stands as a result of triangulated political calculations. John and Elizabeth Edwards do not seem to me to be spending their last few months together as Elizabeth suffers from inoperable cancer on the campaign trail just to fulfill some personal political ambition of John's.
The news media has fallen into a habit of calling social conservatives "values voters" as if they were the only ones voting their values. With John Edwards running for President I don't have to settle for just voting my politics -- I also will be voting my values.
What are your values? Will you be voting for a candidate who embodies and representing them, or will you be supporting a candidate because of political calculations about who is most likely to win?