Friday, July 27, 2007

Why does a mortgage require an appraisal?

Young adults who are buying a house for the first time must wonder why an appraisal is even required. Appraisers these days openly ask how much the appraisal needs to be in order to make the deal work and then make sure the appraisal is for that amount. What is the point?

If you are under 30 or so it might surprise you to learn that it used to be in the bank’s interest not to write a mortgage for more than 80% of the house’s true value and not to write a mortgage requiring payments that the borrower could not afford. This was in the days when banks did not sell the mortgages they wrote to third parties and the bank would get the house back if the borrower defaulted. Obviously in those days the bank needed the appraisal of the house’s value to be accurate; otherwise they could end up repossessing a house worth less than the amount they were out on it – not a good situation

No one involved in writing and approving a mortgage these days cares whether the mortgage will eventually go into default because the mortgage will be sold to someone else. The people writing and approving the mortgage suffer no negative consequences whatsoever if the mortgage is eventually defaulted. Their incentive is to write as many mortgages and sell as many homes as possible.

So the appraiser is hired but the people hiring and paying her/him not only do not care whether the appraisal is accurate, they actually have an incentive that the appraisal be fudged upward so that the deal can work.

As a result there are a lot of people out there owning more on their houses than the houses are worth. In a lot of these cases the payments are more than the borrower can afford. The procedures and regulations that used to be in place to prevent these situations have been removed, ignored or subverted. And the media is not raising an alarm about this situation because the international corporations of which they are a part comprise the system that created it.

Small government conservatives like to complain that government is wasteful and inefficient, setting up layers of meaningless bureaucratic overhead, but this situation in which an appraisal is required but it is not required to be accurate was created by our free enterprise (capitalism) system. Health insurance companies that hire people to dispute and deny claims because that is more profitable then simply paying the claims are also part of our free enterprise system.

Do you get the impression that our society is headed towards a catastrophe but no one is paying attention?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

A letter from Michael Moore

The readers of this blog are very interested in Michael Moore and his movies as indicated by the number of comments I get whenever I mention him. So I thought I would pass along the letter I just received from him.

Thursday, July 26th, 2007


I am overwhelmed by the response to "Sicko." And I'm not just talking about all the wonderful, heart-felt letters you've sent me and the stories you've shared with me about the abuse you've suffered from our health care system.

No, I'm talking about how thousands of you are taking matters into your own hands and using the movie to do something. From Seattle to New England, each day I learn of numerous groups holding meetings or dinners after the movie to discuss it and to plot a course for action. A church in Plano, TX took its weekly bible study group to see "SiCKO." 70 people crammed into a Wisconsin coffee shop's back room. Groups are plotting over pancakes in Illinois and microbrew in Missouri. E-mail addresses are being exchanged in theater lobbies. A Connecticut group is inviting legislators to see "Sicko" and keeping a tally on their website. Local groups have been buying out theaters to have special screenings for their members. Information tables are set up, literature is distributed, action groups are formed.

It's all an amazing sight. I can't tell you how thrilled I am to see the impact a movie can have. For all of you who have written me to ask, "What can I do," well, read more about what others have done, and then try these simple steps:

1. Call or write you member of Congress right now (I'll wait) and tell him or her that you insist they become a co-sponsor of H.R. 676 -- "The United States National Health Insurance Act." It's sponsored currently by Rep. John Conyers and 76 other members of Congress. Insist that your congressperson be one of those co-sponsors. I want to see 100 co-sponsors by Thanksgiving. Will you help make that happen?

2. Call and write to each of the candidates running for President. Tell them you expect them to back H.R. 676, and to take the Senator Brown pledge. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio refuses to accept his free, government-run health insurance until EVERY American is covered.

3. Organize your own local HealthCare-Now! coalition. You can do it in your own neighborhood. It has to start somewhere. Everyday people have to make this happen. Don't wait for someone else to do this. Ask yourself, "if not me, who?"

4. Call your local media and tell them about your health care horror story. Many papers and TV stations have been running these since "Sicko" arrived in theaters. They like the local angle. Tell them you saw the movie and that there's a "Sicko" story happening right here in (fill in the blank). Tell them you are passing it on to me.

Well, that's a start. Here's what I'm going to do. Because last weekend's "Win a Trip to a Universal Healthcare Country" was so successful (the winner will be announced next week), this weekend we're going to try something different: it's "Take a Republican to 'Sicko!'" C'mon, we all have a conservative in the family! They mean well. It's just that they believe what they've been told about that scary "socialized medicine." Treat them to the movie this weekend and tell them to send me their ticket stub and entry form. I will hold a drawing and the lucky winner will get to have me come to their home and do their laundry -- just like in France! Now, what would make a Republican happier than to see me working away in their laundry room?!

I truly believe that the health care issue is one where we can find some common ground with those who may hold different opinions than us. After all, they're getting the shaft by the same insurance and pharmaceutical companies we are. And sooner or later, they're not going to take it any more, either.

Michael Moore

P.S. I will be on Jay Leno (The Tonight Show on NBC) tonight (Thursday) at 11:35pm ET/PT. I will be making a special announcement on the show.

This letter should offer further clues to the reader who asked in a comment to a previous blog entry if there were people out there who needed a Michael Moore movie to tell them there were problems with the American health care system. Huge amounts of money and effort have been spent, using all the tools and methods developed by the advertising industry, to convince Americans we have the best health care system in the world. For some people it is like a religious conversion to suddenly see what a bill of goods they have been sold.

If you would like to get on Michael's mailing list and receive letters like the one above click here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Another expansion of gambling in the Quad Cities

When the voters initially approved river-boat gambling the gambling was only to occur while the boats were cruising on the river. The voters were explicitly not approving Las Vegas style land-based full-time gambling. But other nearby towns got river-boat casinos also, there was more competition than was included in the projections, they were not earning as much money as expected so then they moved to full time gambling dock-side. That did not make as much money as projected so now they are building a Las Vegas style casino away from the river.

As was the case for each previous step they are projecting hundreds of new jobs and millions in tax revenue. Why would these projections be any more likely to be accurate than the previous ones? How did we end up with exactly what everyone agreed we did not want and would not have when river-boat gambling was first proposed -- a Las Vegas style land-based casino?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Live Blogging with Michael Moore

As I write this Michael Moore is live blogging on the Crooks and Liars Blog

Here is a typical exchange:

Novin @ 179 posts a question for Michael Moore:

My wife and I went to see Sicko (at our local theater, the Battery Park Cinemas, across the street from Ground Zero) last week. My wife was skeptical (I have already signed on to ending our for profit health system) having heard all the pro corporate propaganda from her work colleagues.

She was shocked at the film and shaken out of her complacence of thinking that it was only those without insurance who are on shaky ground. My wife is a smart woman (graduate degree from Harvard, reads a lot) yet it took your film to completely change the way that she saw something so drastically.

Thank you for all your work. I’ve been a fan since Roger & Me. TV Nation was one of my all time favorites (I even remember the Health Care Olympics - the precursor to Sicko).

Take care,


Michael Moore replies:
What happened with your wife after she saw sicko is exactly why the health care industry and the MSM are so desperate to make sure no one sees this film. All of our mail and the polling the Weinsteins have done at the theaters has shown that the people most affected by the movie are independents and conservatives. It truly turns them around on this issue. That is bad news for you know who.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Lawrence Welk, the poorly assimilated

According to every biography of Lawrence Welk I cam find he was born in Strasburg, North Dakota in 1903 to German-speaking immigrant parents. He always said that he did not learn English until age 21 and always spoke with a heavy German accent. This is very late and poor assimilation compared to today’s standards.

Today all schools in America teach English to non-English speaking students as their top priority and I have never met or heard of anyone born in Amercia (or who came to this country before the age of 10 or so) who does not speak English fluently without an accent.

So what do these facts do the often heard contention that immigrants today are not assimilating as quickly as previous generations?

Although poorly assimilated by today’s standards Lawrence Welk was no threat to the American way of life, of course. He enriched, strengthened and broadened our culture and, like most immigrants, made America a better place.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Bush Administration plans to escalate the war

Polls show that an ever increasing majority of Americans believe that the War in Iraq is not winnable and that the United States needs to start disengaging its military from the internal Iraqi conflict. Senators continue to defect from President Bush’s Iraq policy. What is the response from the Bush Administration?

BAGHDAD (AP) - The U.S. military is weighing new directions in Iraq, including an even bigger troop buildup if President Bush thinks his "surge" strategy needs a further boost, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Monday.
read the entire article

Besides increasing the number of troops in Iraq the Bush Administration is also planning to expand the war into Iran.
The balance in the internal White House debate over Iran has shifted back in favour of military action before President George Bush leaves office in 18 months, the Guardian has learned.
Read the entire article

These plans leave us no choice. We cannot simply wait for the Bush Administration to end. Too many lives are at stake. We need to start impeachment now before they start a war with Iran and send even more troops to Iraq.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Prominent people caught creating Sock Puppets

While perusing the New York Times online this morning the following article headline and summary caught my eye:

The Hand That Controls the Sock Puppet Could Get Slapped
A handful of prominent individuals have been caught creating fake online identities to praise, defend or create the illusion of support for themselves or their companies.

My first thought was that rumors about a local elected official had somehow reached the ears of the New York Times. But when I read the article it turned out to be about East and West Coast corporate CEOs and political campaign professionals who had somehow found the time in spite of their busy schedules to post comments online under fake identifies about themselves and their companies. One of them went so far as to say how good-looking he thought he was.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Can our troops come home from Iraq now?

Can we pull our military out of Iraq now? President Bush has said that we would leave if the Iraqi government asks us to leave and that when the Iraqi stand up we will stand down.

BUSHRA JUHI of the Associated Press just filed the following report:
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Saturday that the Iraqi army and police are capable of keeping security in the country when American troops leave "any time they want," though he acknowledged the forces need further weapons and training.

The embattled prime minister sought to show confidence at a time when congressional pressure is growing for a withdrawal and the Bush administration reported little progress had been made on the most vital of a series of political benchmarks it wants al-Maliki to carry out.

Al-Maliki said difficulty in enacting the measures was "natural" given Iraq's turmoil.

But one of his top aides, Hassan al-Suneid, rankled at the assessment, saying the U.S. was treating Iraq like "an experiment in an American laboratory." He sharply criticised the U.S. military, saying it was committing human rights violations, embarassing the Iraqi government with its tactics and cooperating with "gangs of killers" in its campaign against al-Qaida in Iraq.

link the the entire article

The American people want us out of Iraq, the Iraqi people want us out and now the government of Iraq says that could get along just fine without us. It is time for us to go.

Open letter from Michael Moore to CNN

Michael Moore has just posted the following open letter to CNN on his website:
Saturday, July 14th, 2007
An Open Letter to CNN from Michael Moore

Dear CNN,

Well, the week is over -- and still no apology, no retraction, no correction of your glaring mistakes.

I bet you thought my dust-up with Wolf Blitzer was just a cool ratings coup, that you really wouldn't have to correct the false statements you made about "Sicko." I bet you thought I was just going to go quietly away.

Think again. I'm about to become your worst nightmare. 'Cause I ain't ever going away. Not until you set the record straight, and apologize to your viewers. "The Most Trusted Name in News?" I think it's safe to say you can retire that slogan.

You have an occasional segment called "Keeping Them Honest." But who keeps you honest? After what the public saw with your report on "Sicko," and how many inaccuracies that report contained, how can anyone believe anything you say on your network? In the old days, before the Internet, you could get away with it. Your victims had no way to set the record straight, to show the viewers how you had misrepresented the truth. But now, we can post the truth -- and back it up with evidence and facts -- on the web, for all to see. And boy, judging from the mail both you and I have been receiving, the evidence I have posted on my site about your "Sicko" piece has led millions now to question your honesty.

I won't waste your time rehashing your errors. You know what they are. What I want to do is help you come clean. Admit you were wrong. What is the shame in that? We all make mistakes. I know it's hard to admit it when you've screwed up, but it's also liberating and cathartic. It not only makes you a better person, it helps prevent you from screwing up again. Imagine how many people will be drawn to a network that says, "We made a mistake. We're human. We're sorry. We will make mistakes in the future -- but we will always correct them so that you know you can trust us." Now, how hard would that really be?

As you know, I hold no personal animosity against you or any of your staff. You and your parent company have been very good to me over the years. You distributed my first film, "Roger & Me" and you published "Dude, Where's My Country?" Larry King has had me on twice in the last two weeks. I couldn't ask for better treatment.

That's why I was so stunned when you let a doctor who knows a lot about brain surgery -- but apparently very little about public policy -- do a "fact check" story, not on the medical issues in "Sicko," but rather on the economic and political information in the film. Is this why there has been a delay in your apology, because you are trying to get a DOCTOR to say he was wrong? Please tell him not to worry, no one is filing a malpractice claim against him. Dr. Gupta does excellent and compassionate stories on CNN about people's health and how we can take better care of ourselves. But when it came time to discuss universal health care, he rushed together a bunch of sloppy -- and old -- research. When his producer called us about his report the day before it aired, we sent to her, in an email, all the evidence so that he wouldn't make any mistakes on air. He chose to ignore ALL the evidence, and ran with all his falsehoods -- even though he had been given the facts a full day before! How could that happen? And now, for 5 days, I have posted on my website, for all to see, every mistake and error he made.

You, on the other hand, in the face of this overwhelming evidence and a huge public backlash, have chosen to remain silent, probably praying and hoping this will all go away.

Well it isn't. We are now going to start looking into the veracity of other reports you have aired on other topics. Nothing you say now can be believed. In 2002, the New York Times busted you for bringing celebrities on your shows and not telling your viewers they were paid spokespeople for the pharmaceutical companies. You promised never to do it again. But there you were, in 2005, talking to Joe Theismann, on air, as he pushed some drug company-sponsored website on prostate health. You said nothing about about his affiliation with GlaxoSmithKline.

Clearly, no one is keeping you honest, so I guess I'm going to have to do that job, too. $1.5 billion is spent each year by the drug companies on ads on CNN and the other four networks. I'm sure that has nothing to do with any of this. After all, if someone gave me $1.5 billion, I have to admit, I might say a kind word or two about them. Who wouldn't?!

I expect CNN to put this matter to rest. Say you're sorry and correct your story -- like any good journalist would.

Then we can get back to more important things. Like a REAL discussion about our broken health care system. Everything else is a distraction from what really matters.

Michael Moore

P.S. If you also want to apologize for not doing your job at the start of the Iraq War, I'm sure most Americans would be very happy to accept your apology. You and the other networks were willing partners with Bush, flying flags all over the TV screens and never asking the hard questions that you should have asked. You might have prevented a war. You might have saved the lives of those 3,610 soldiers who are no longer with us. Instead, you blew air kisses at a commander in chief who clearly was making it all up. Millions of us knew that -- why didn't you? I think you did. And, in my opinion, that makes you responsible for this war. Instead of doing the job the founding fathers wanted you to do -- keeping those in power honest (that's why they made it the FIRST amendment) -- you and much of the media went on the attack against the few public figures like myself who dared to question the nightmare we were about to enter. You've never thanked me or the Dixie Chicks or Al Gore for doing your job for you. That's OK. Just tell the truth from this point on.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Lady Bird Johnson’s Legacy

I was amazed when I read and saw the media coverage of the death of Lady Bird Johnson. The media accounts talking about her life mentioned her concern for beautification but the reports I read and saw left the impression that this mostly took the form of wanting flowers and trees to be planted. I am old enough to remember the Johnson presidency and I remember that her biggest push was for highway beautification and that this took the form of seeking to ban billboard advertising along highways. The federal laws passed as a result of Lady Bird Johnson’s beautification campaign are still in place and that is why there are no billboards along our federal interstate highways, except for the occasional large billboard back far enough from the highway to be beyond the scope of that law. I remember well how much more billboard advertising there was along the highways before the Johnson Administration. The relative lack of unsightly advertising along the highway since then is Lady Bird Johnson’s legacy.

Why was it not reported in the media the way I remember it? I suspect this is just one more example of the true bias of the media – not a liberal or a conservative bias but a bias for advertising and for the interests of advertisers.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Michael Moore's Swift Response Team in action

CNN's The Situation Room yesterday aired a report by medical reporter Dr. Sanjay Gupta claiming to have found a few inaccurate statements in Michael Moore's movie Sicko. Immediately after airing the report Wolfe Blitzer referred to the movie having "fudged the facts" and asked for a live response from Michael Moore. Michael Moore vigorously denied that there were any "fudged" facts in Sicko and promised that there would be a complete refutation of all of CNN's charges up on his website in less than 24 hours.

True to his word a response was published on the website at 12:41 this morning. Here are some highlights from that refutation:

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN: "(Moore says) the United States slipped to number 37 in the world's health care systems. It's true. ... Moore brings a group of patients, including 9/11 workers, to Cuba and marvels at their free treatment and quality of care. But hold on - that WHO list puts Cuba's health care system even lower than the United States, coming in at #39."


* "But hold on?" 'SiCKO' clearly shows the WHO list, with the United States at number #37, and Cuba at #39. Right up on the screen in big five-foot letters. It's even in the trailer! CNN should have its reporter see his eye doctor. The movie isn't hiding from this fact. Just the opposite.
* The fact that the healthcare system in an impoverished nation crippled by our decades-old blockade (including medical supplies and drugs) ranks so closely to ours is more an indictment of the American system than the Cuban system.
* Although Cuba ranks lower overall than the United States, it still has a lower infant mortality rate and longer life span. (see below)
* And unlike the United States, Cuba offers healthcare to absolutely everyone. In an independent Gallup poll conducted in Cuba, "a near unanimous 96 percent of respondents say that health care in Cuba is accessible to everyone." ("Cubans Show Little Satisfaction with Opportunities and Individual Freedom Rare Independent Survey Finds Large Majorities Are Still Proud of Island's Health Care and Education," January 10, 2007.

CNN: "Moore asserts that the American health care system spends $7,000 per person on health. Cuba spends $25 dollars per person. Not true. But not too far off. The United States spends $6,096 per person, versus $229 per person in Cuba."


* According to our own government – the Department of Health and Human Services' National Health Expenditures Projections – the United States will spend $7,092 per capita on health in 2006 and $7,498 in 2007. (Department of Health and Human Services Center for Medicare and Medicaid Expenditures, National Health Expenditures Projections 2006-2016.
* As for Cuba – Dr. Gupta and CNN need to watch 'SiCKO' first before commenting on it. 'SiCKO' says Cuba spends $251 per person on health care, not $25, as Gupta reports. And the BBC reports that Cuba's per capita health expenditure is… $251! (Keeping Cuba Healthy, BBC, Aug. 1 2006. )
* As Gupta points out, the World Health Organization does calculate Cuba's per capita health expenditure at $229 per person – a lot closer to $251 than $25.

CNN: In fact, Americans live just a little bit longer than Cubans on average.


* Just the opposite. The 2006 United Nations Human Development Report's human development index states the life expectancy in the United States is 77.5 years. It is 77.6 years in Cuba. (Human Development Report 2006, United Nations Development Programme, 2006 at 283.

Link to the complete response:

The accuracy of CNN's nitpicking a few facts aside, think about those disputed facts. The impoverished country of Cuba spends 1/27 as much on health care as we do and gets results almost as good (CNN) or a little better (Sicko) than ours.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Intelligence and military officiers reveal aborted raid against Al Qaeda

In a front page story in today's New York Times "a dozen current and former military and intelligence officials" leak classified details of an aborted raid.
A secret military operation in early 2005 to capture senior members of Al Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal areas was aborted at the last minute after top Bush administration officials decided it was too risky and could jeopardize relations with Pakistan, according to intelligence and military officials.

The target was a meeting of Qaeda leaders that intelligence officials thought included Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden’s top deputy and the man believed to run the terrorist group’s operations.

But the mission was called off after Donald H. Rumsfeld, then the defense secretary, rejected an 11th-hour appeal by Porter J. Goss, then the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, officials said. Members of a Navy Seals unit in parachute gear had already boarded C-130 cargo planes in Afghanistan when the mission was canceled, said a former senior intelligence official involved in the planning.
About a dozen current and former military and intelligence officials were interviewed for this article, all of whom requested anonymity because the planned 2005 mission remained classified.

At first glance this leak appears to be intelligence and military officials, no longer in fear of their civilian bosses, exacting revenge for thwarted opportunities. But as I read the story more closely it appears that perhaps the Bush Administration may have orchestrated this leak in order to put pressure on Pakistan. Among the clues pointing in that direction is how all the blame is given to "Donald H. Rumsfeld, then the defense secretary," with Bush and Cheney portrayed as totally in the dark about the whole affair. How likely does that seem to you? One thing we have learned about this Administration is how likely they are to throw former colleagues under the bus and that it is difficult to overestimate their ability to be duplicitous and deceitful.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

What if all the news was like Fox?

We know from polls that people who primarily get their news from Fox TV News have some misconceptions about Iraq. Most of them believe that Saddam Hussein was involved in planning the attacks on 9/11/2001 and most of them believe that weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq. The rest of us know that these things are untrue and view the fact that people who watch Fox TV believe those things as a curiosity.

But what if all news sources reported about Iraq exactly like Fox News does? In that case probably most of us would believe those lies about Iraq. Why would we even question it if that is what all the experts said and what everyone believed? When questioned by someone from another country about why we thought Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11 we would probably say something like, “Everybody knows that.”

That is not the situation with news about Iraq, but what if all the American news sources told the same lies about some other subject? How would we even know that something all Americans accepted to be true was a lie? I just saw Michael Moore’s latest movie Sicko and I think my eyes have been opened to a subject on which all the news sources in America have been lying to us.

In the same way that most Fox TV News watchers believe that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11 most Americans believe that the US has one of the best health care systems in the world. Most Americans believe that Canadians and Europeans are dissatisfied with their national health care systems because they have long waits for medical services, cannot choose their own doctors and hospitals and the care they get is substandard. Those are all lies, but most Americans believe them. By any objective standard Americans pay more for their medical care and prescriptions and receive less than any other developed country. Even the residents of some developing countries, such as Cuba, can be shown to receive better health care than Americans. The news of these facts come as a surprise to most Americans.

How could we have all ended up believing lies? Have our sources for news been deceiving us just as badly on the subject of health care as Fox News deceives their viewers about Iraq?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Patriotic words from Keith Olbermann

It is the 4th of July, American Independence Day. I guess I should post something patriotic. Here are some soul-stirring words from Keith Olbermann

We enveloped our President in 2001.And those who did not believe he should have been elected—indeed those who did not believe he had been elected—willingly lowered their voices and assented to the sacred oath of non-partisanship.

And George W. Bush took our assent, and re-configured it, and honed it, and shaped it to a razor-sharp point and stabbed this nation in the back with it.

Were there any remaining lingering doubt otherwise, or any remaining lingering hope, it ended yesterday when Mr. Bush commuted the prison sentence of one of his own staffers.

Did so even before the appeals process was complete; did so without as much as a courtesy consultation with the Department of Justice; did so despite what James Madison—at the Constitutional Convention—said about impeaching any president who pardoned or sheltered those who had committed crimes “advised by” that president; did so without the slightest concern that even the most detached of citizens must look at the chain of events and wonder: To what degree was Mr. Libby told: break the law however you wish—the President will keep you out of prison?

In that moment, Mr. Bush, you broke that fundamental com-pact between yourself and the majority of this nation’s citizens—the ones who did not cast votes for you. In that moment, Mr. Bush, you ceased to be the President of the United States. In that moment, Mr. Bush, you became merely the President of a rabid and irresponsible corner of the Republican Party. And this is too important a time, Sir, to have a commander-in-chief who puts party over nation.


It is nearly July 4th, Mr. Bush, the commemoration of the moment we Americans decided that rather than live under a King who made up the laws, or erased them, or ignored them—or commuted the sentences of those rightly convicted under them—we would force our independence, and regain our sacred freedoms.

We of this time—and our leaders in Congress, of both parties—must now live up to those standards which echo through our history: Pressure, negotiate, impeach—get you, Mr. Bush, and Mr. Cheney, two men who are now perilous to our Democracy, away from its helm.

For you, Mr. Bush, and for Mr. Cheney, there is a lesser task. You need merely achieve a very low threshold indeed. Display just that iota of patriotism which Richard Nixon showed, on August 9th, 1974.


And give us someone—anyone—about whom all of us might yet be able to quote John Wayne, and say, “I didn’t vote for him, but he’s my president, and I hope he does a good job.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Hillary Clinton in Davenport, Iowa

Hillary Clinton speaking to a crowd at Main & 2nd in downtown Davenport, Iowa.

Bruce Braley, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton

They don't hate us for our freedom

An editorial in today's New York Times talks about the results of the latest Pew global opinion poll and provides strong evidence that people who don't like us around the world do NOT hate us for our freedoms. They largely share our ideals. They dislike us because we do not live up to them.
The central finding of the latest Pew global opinion poll is, alas, drearily familiar: President Bush and his misguided war in Iraq have dragged the United States far, far down in the world’s eyes.

The only good news — and it’s not much comfort — is that most countries give higher ratings to the American people than to the country. That means a change of government could bring a change of attitude toward America. But there is a long way to go, especially to correct the perception that the United States promotes its values globally not because they are universally good, but because they are good for American interests.

The survey found that majorities or pluralities in 33 of the 47 countries polled expressed a dislike of American ideas about democracy, with the hostility highest in three allies: Turkey, France and Pakistan. The poll also showed a widespread perception that Washington acts without considering the interests of other countries. And strong majorities everywhere saw the United States as the worst culprit in “hurting the world’s environment.”

What the Pew poll reflects is a profound disappointment in America’s failure to live up to its own ideals and standards.

This shows clearly how big a lie Bush's often repeated contention that "They hate us for our freedoms" truely is. The fact that so many Americans believe it just shows how effective the technique of endlessly repeating a lie can be.

Elites not interested in immigrants assimilating?

Last Sunday on Book TV I heard an author they were interviewing say the most extraordinary thing. He said that unlike in the past the American elites of today were not interested in having immigrants assimilate. What could he possibly be talking about?

Could it have something to do with education? Our public schools have always been the primary means of assimilation for immigrants. Immigrants who come to this country as adults, especially those that come not speaking English, usually do not become very well assimilated. But their children, if they come to this country before the age of 10 or are born here, always have and continue to learn to speak English without an accent and become perfect little Americans primarily through the efforts of our public schools. If you know anything about what is going on in our public schools you know that when they are confronted with a student who does not speak English, teaching that child English is their top priority and that is just as true today as it ever was.

So how could anyone think that our public schools are not as interested as they once were in assimilating immigrants? Could it have something to do with the schools talking about the need to communicate with parents who do not speak English? Could the school’s desire to be able to communicate with parents who do not speak English be seen as a lack of interest in the parents assimilating? That would be totally absurd. Does anyone really believe that adult immigrants would be more likely to learn English if they could not communicate with anyone at their children’s school? If they cannot communicate with anyone at the school the more likely effect is that they are less interested in their children’s education – the primary means through which immigrants are assimilated.

Could the fact that the government now has paperwork and forms available in other languages be seen as a lack of interest by the government in immigrants assimilating? Again, that would be absurd. Does anyone think that people are going to be motivated to learn English or not based on whether or not government brochures and forms are available in their native language? How often does an immigrant fill out a government form or read a brochure?

The reality is that immigrants who do not speak English are at a tremendous disadvantage in the job market. The only jobs available to those who do not speak English are very low paying, menial jobs. Every immigrant who does not speak English is confronted daily by the economic penalties for not knowing English. That is a tremendous motivation, far greater than any motivation that might be created by being unable to communicate with government officials or school personnel.

So what on earth are people talking about when they say immigrants are not motivated to assimilate or that the elites are not interested in having them assimilate? It just seems to me to be a belief independent of reality.