Friday, April 29, 2005
Someone needs to explain Madison County to me. I thought it was a coal mining region. How did all the trial lawyers get down there? This is what happens to Chicagoans. Get south of South of Chicago Heights and the rest of the State is a mystery to us.
Venona Project was the code name of US Gov's intercept of Soviet messages from spies in the US back to Russia.
Thursday, April 28, 2005
I'm spring time sort of guy and not just about religion. Sure there is a time for every purpose under heaven, but I try to stay put in those springtime moments of the great purpose because I have a feeling time is an illusion and I'm shooting for the sunnyside.
What is it that has led to this intellectual and political debacle of so much of the left of (roughly) my own generation? The pathology of anti-Americanism? The failure to call certain political phenomena by their proper names? A loss of nerve and/or moral perspective in face of a capitalism seemingly everywhere triumphant? Perhaps (three times). But a debacle is what it is - the loss to progressive opinion of half a generation or more of those who might otherwise have been expected to pass on a mature wisdom to younger others. Instead, this shameful legacy.Capitalism did triumph. That didn't mean there still wasn't a place for a "left". It just meant the left had to rethink. The thinking didn't happen. Instead we have the shameful legacy Geras describes, and the left is done
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Nice thing about getting confused with heavy hitters is no one messes with you. So I guess it's no big offense by the Trib.
I call him Mr. Lombardo myself; never "The Clown".
Wheeler [the entomologist] said he never expected that the slime-mold beetle would attract such international attention. "It was not meant to be political," he said, noting that he assigned the names almost at random to the similar-looking beetles. A. bushi can be found in the Midwest, while A. cheneyi and A. rumsfeldi live in the mountainous regions of Mexico.
And while Wheeler marvels at these tiny beetles and their symbiotic relationship with slime molds, there's always the possibility that a distinguished celebrity might take offense to being compared to an insect.
The White House said it had no response to its beetle namesakes.
But a spokesman for Rumsfeld said the defense secretary was pleased. "The competition was probably intense, and he is honored to be among those selected."
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
I wonder how irregular we are but we sure seem to pride ourselves on uniqueness for some reason. We're probably more conventional than we think but very forgiving and offer second, third, fourth chances to all.
Friday, April 22, 2005
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
In order to save Europe from itself Ratzinger will have to confront a number of European post-war developments that are actively supported by Euro-state policies. First, he will have to find a way to return Europeans to Church. Go to any cathedral in oldEurope and it will be filled with tourists and only tourists. In Germany, they have found a way to collect donations without requiring physical attendance through the use of a Church tax. And whileit may sooth the individual conscience, donating moneyto the church via payroll deduction does little tobond believers to the community or provide opportunities to hear about and discuss church values.
He will have to find a way to re-instill those church values necessary for the survival of European society.Given Europe's suicidal demographics, he will need toemphasize the importance of the family and children. Old Europe has eliminated the need for the social contract between generations and the need for children through the creation of overly generous state pension schemes. The family has been replaced by bureaucrats who administer tax funded benefits.
Found this in National Catholic Reporter: Rome, US: differing worldviews written just over a year ago.
In the end, the Holy See might be less concerned about unilateralism if it had more faith in the worlds lone superpower to foster Christian virtue. In fact, however, at the deepest level of analysis, there is serious doubt that American culture is an apt carrier for a Christian vision of the human person and of the just society.American culture does value pragmatism and work. That means Churches have to work at revival and conversion. Churches have to be pragmatic enough to translate faith in a way understandable to modern people. (The battle among the Dutch Reformed in Chicago's West Side was over preaching in English and singing hymns.) Spirituality and Faith are important, and far too important to be left to the government. We're better at managing the split in America between church and state, the spiritual and secular --despite our images of materialism and secularity-- and have a more vibrant religious life as a result.
Some in the Vatican believe that the core values of American culture, forged in the crucible of Calvinism, include liberty in the form of individual autonomy, economic, social and political liberalism, utility and modern progress, pragmatic morality, and the work ethic. All have fueled America's success on the world stage, but from the point of view of Roman Catholic anthropology and social ethics, which understand human identity in terms of being over doing, all these values are at least potentially toxic.
Though no pope and no Vatican diplomat will ever say so explicitly, the bottom line is that despite great respect for the American people and their democratic traditions, the Holy See does not think the United States is fit to run the word by itself. Many Vatican officials, especially those from non-Anglo-Saxon cultures, believe America is too rich, too narcissistic, too shortsighted and voluble to be entrusted with the quasi-unfettered power that 20th-century history bequeathed to it. (In truth, there aren't many countries the Holy See would approve for such a role, and if the Vatican had to choose between a world run from Washington and one run from Islamabad or Beijing, there's little doubt they would opt for Washington.)
Thus the Holy See's diplomatic energy in coming years will have as a central aim the construction of a multilateral, multipolar world, which will necessarily imply a limitation on the power and influence of the United States. For that reason, and despite strong agreement on a host of issues, the relationship between Rome and Washington seems destined to be complex and occasionally strained.
Most importantly Americans have faith in Democracy and put democracy to work in our churches too for the most part. We believe in Lincoln's, "You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time". Ratzinger might try some democratic reforms in the Church and maybe worry less about theological correctness. People will figure theology out for themselves.
He and the Vatican should realize the United States doesn't seek to be fit to run the world by itself. The United States is building democratic institutions so people can run their lives, including their spiritual lives, for themselves; just as we did for Ratzinger's Germany.
Also found this on Ratzinger in National Catholic Reporter from 1999: The Vatican’s enforcer .
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
It's interesting Ratzinger chose the name Benedict XVI. Benedict XV was Pope at the out break of the war and here's his Appeal for Peace 1 Nov 1914: Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum.
For ever since the precepts and practices of Christian wisdom ceased to be observed in the ruling of states, it followed that, as they contained the peace and stability of institutions, the very foundations of states necessarily began to be shaken. Such, moreover, has been the change in the ideas and the morals of men, that unless God comes soon to our help, the end of civilization would seem to be at hand.God didn't come and civilization did come to end for a long stretch of the 20th century in Europe. The century's a lesson for how fragile civilization is. Perhaps this is what Benedict XVI fears will repeat. Read Steven Ozmet's A Might Fortress: A new History of the German People, and you'll learn the German Army printed backpack copies of the Bible and Nietzche's Also Sprach Zarathustra as the two most popular books for the troops during the first World War. Maybe it's Nietzche Benedict XVI thinks has won out in Europe. God's not coming to bail out us out of our own tragic messes and Ratzinger fears the consequences of turning our backs on him.
The Bush presidency often is called conservative. That is a mistake. It is populist and radical, and its principal energies have roots in American history, and these roots are not conservative... If we recall Leo Strauss's formulation that "Athens and Jerusalem" -- science and spiritual aspiration -- are the core of Western civilization, American Evangelicalism is a threat to both, through ignorance of both.American Evangelicalism no threat for reasons Hart gives us but ignores; it's rooted in American History and responsible for many of the great liberal/radical/progressive traditions. Bush isn't as radical as Hart would have us think but what will make Bush a great President is he forces Hart's kind of analysis. Bush redefines politics. He is transformational if you want a big word for it. He's a guy with decent principles and politician enough to make things happen.
Monday, April 18, 2005
I worked at Social Security's Herold Washington Payment Center, 600 West Madison, for a few years just after it opened in 1977. Every once in a while we'd come to work and find the sidewalks littered with hundreds of dead birds who had crashed into the building. Didn't happen all the time; just once in a while.
Our blue birds have returned and made a new nest. I leave meal worms in a dish nearby for them and that seems to bring them back each year.
Saw two sandhill cranes yesterday. They make a distinctive sound.
Sunday, April 17, 2005
And in China, when asked about her candid description of North Korea as an "outpost of tyranny," Rice retorted that Americans "are going to speak up for people who live without freedom.
It is who we are. "Who we are. Not what the world's appeasers of tyrants--those among our foes or our allies who would preserve a cruel status quo in the euphemistic name of "stability" --want us to be.
Though Downstate voters have been credited with sealing Blagojevich's 2002 nomination for governor, the region is considered vulnerable for him out of a belief that his administration is too focused on Chicago.
Underscoring potential problems for Blagojevich, the GOP fundraiser was attended by regional officials for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31, which represents 10,000 state workers, primarily among the many state prisons in the area.
Buddy Maupin, the union's regional director, said his members were foremost looking for a candidate for governor who has "respect for the value of their work." Asked if Blagojevich had provided that respect, Maupin said, "Opinions vary."
The suggestion that Cook County may be losing population runs against the perception of growth fueled by the large number of condominium projects that have sprouted across Chicago's skyline in recent years. But demographers say those buildings are often being inhabited by singles, couples and empty-nesters that are smaller in size than the families that are moving out.Oberweis will make sure all those immigrants' kids join the Democratic party. I have more hope with Birkett.
Marc Thomas, information services manager for the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission, said some estimates in the 1990s showed the city losing population, a trend that proved false once the 2000 census was released.
"There are new housing units downtown," Thomas said. "But we really don't know what is going on in the other neighborhoods."
One thing that is clear, Thomas said, is the continued importance of immigrants in maintaining Cook County's population. "Cook County is relying on foreign immigration to prop it up," he said.
While DuPage and Lake Counties were once top destinations for people leaving Cook County, Thomas said Kendall and Will Counties now appear to be favored by those seeking affordable housing in the suburbs. "By and large, it is driven by people wanting newer and bigger as cheaply as possible," he said.
This is the first time I had ever attended a Republican event. Probably only the third or fourth time I had attended any political event in 20 years. So I'm a a novice and keep everything below in perspective.
Seemed Oberweis turned out a big group just for the straw vote. He had Ed Derwinski there as his campaign chair and seemed to have more supporters. Keep in mind this was small event. I was just struck when he opened with the statement he was the only declared candidate and there was silence in the room. He clearly was expecting applause and didn't get it. Even his supporters seemed to have missed the cue.
Berkowitz right on TOTAL absence of social issues in questions or in milling around chatting with folks. The questions all involved malpractice reform, transportation and third airport, economic development, and school funding.
Birkett noted he volunteered to coach boxing at his high school but will have to stop next year because the school has to have a teacher on the payroll coaching. No more community volunteers. This even though a teacher has never helped coach all the years Birkett has been volunteering.
LaHood said he wins 70% margins in a district only 52% republican. He has big UAW presence in Peoria and public employees in Springfield. He can reach out beyond the base and that seemed a big theme yesterday.
I was impressed with the folks I talked with before and afterwards who had been turned off by Oberweis's anti immigrant TV ads. Folks said they were offensive and destructive to the party.
O'Malley (I think) recognized retired State Sen Walter Dudycz and made a point of saying Dudycz's mom still lives in the old neighborhood around Chicago and Western. Told Dudycz afterwards I used to drink at the Ukrainian bar when my buddy's brother tended bar there. Wish I had bought a two flat with the Ukrainians then.
A preceint captain told me she couldn't figure out why these guys were all there this morning. She said the job was Judy Baar-Topinka's for the asking.
Another question a member of the audience told me he would submit was why so many of you running.
Here's Russ Stewart's analysis of JBT. He agrees with the precinct captain.
Saturday, April 16, 2005
Jim Oberweis opened his statement declaring he was the only declared candidate and expecting (I think) a round of applause for that and he didn't get it. I think the silence threw him off tempo for the rest of his time.
Joe Birkett closed with a call to the party to seek more votes in the City and cited his accomplishments on diversity. He mentioned two muslims elected as Republicans in Dupage last election. This went over well with me. Hope it goes over well with the rest of the party. There are opportunities here.
Patrick O'Mally seemed the most thoughtful of the bunch. I learned my lesson when I voted for George Ryan over Glenn Poshard. Single issue voter me never again.
Ray LaHood had the best oratory and seemed like the most fire-in-the-belly for the job but his solution to problems was a Ross Perot like bring in a roomful of experts to find the solutions.
Steve Raushenberger couldn't appear because of committment to appear at a National Legislatures conference. JBT was a no show for reasons I don't recall being explained.
A lot of West Side connections in the room. Birkett talked about growing up in Austin. A good day and an interesting group. All voiced a concern not to have a destructive primary.
Andy McKenna said the election would be won in the burbs and the Dems growing there.
Friday, April 15, 2005
But we have faith that we shall not prove false to the memories of the men of the mighty past. They did their work, they left us the splendid heritage we now enjoy. We in our turn have an assured confidence that we shall be able to leave this heritage unwasted and enlarged to our children and our children's children. To do so we must show, not merely in great crises, but in the everyday affairs of life, the qualities of practical intelligence, of courage, of hardihood, and endurance, and above all the power of devotion to a lofty ideal, which made great the men who founded this Republic in the days of Washington, which made great the men who preserved this Republic in the days of Abraham Lincoln.
I would like to invite you to participate in a little experiment I have going. You can read about it here: http://www.threebadfingers.com/?p=136 to see if you are interested. Essentially, I am attempting to collect a series of Open Letters to fence sitting senators regarding the Constitutional Option issue. If this catches fire, it could powerfully impact the debate in Washington. I appreciate your consideration.I have to admit the word traitor is an obstacle for me. I understand the context here, but I just like Sen McCain. Call to arms another obstacle. But I would approve the change in Senate rules for sure. I understand Senate rules now allow for a sort of fake filibuster. Senators no longer really have to stand for hours (sometimes catheterized) reading endless passages from fat books. Now they can just declare a filibuster and go home. I'd at least change rules to make these guys stand for hours on end.
Thursday, April 14, 2005
This much we know: The German left certainly has a remarkable aptitude for forgetting about human rights, democracy and social justice when it is convenient to do so. This is especially so when they are in power and German money and jobs are involved.
So let's get real comrades: SPD Chairman Muntefering's condemnation of "short-winded trade for profit" and "the internationally growing power of capital" is nothing but the desperate, tired and false rhetoric of a failed Socialist party that cannot see the prodigious extent of its own hypocrisy.
QUESTION: Sir, Sergeant First Class Dimachio from the Island of Saipan.
My question is about shortfalls in recruiting personnel. Is there an issue? What is the plan to fix it?
RUMSFELD: Well, it was expected that we could see some softness in recruiting about close to a year ago, and as a result a large number of additional recruiters were put in place. Some additional incentives were put in place. And the work has been going forward.
There's a lag always when that occurs, but it is expected that most of the services will come very close to their targets by the end of the year.
One of the reasons for the shortfall, I'm told, is because retention has been so high. Interestingly, retention has been particularly high among folks who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq. [Baar's emphasis] And if you think about it, it's the force, the existing force, the active force as they leave that become the pool for the Guard and the Reserve and it is in the Guard and the Reserve where the shortfall has occurred for the most part. So I think that what we'll find is as we go forward -- We also have done, I think it's 35 or 40 different things to reduce stress on the force and it is expected that that will also assist in improving the recruiting and retention figures. Thank you.
DJW credits Cermak with building the Democratic coalition in Chicago but read John R. Schmidt's "The Mayor Who Cleaned up Chicago" A political biography of William E. Dever and you'll see credit really belongs to another West Sider: Roger Sullivan.
...Sullivan had grown up in rural poverty near Belvidere, Illinois. He moved to Chicago in his late teens and found a job in a railway machines shop. He soon became interested in politics and moved up through the patronage ranks as he widened his circle of acquaintances. --Schmidt, page 19Schmidt writes on pages 49 through 54 about "The Sullivan Consolidation" during 1910 through 1920 when the various Democratic party factions were united (conquered really) by Sullivan. He concludes with this passage,
Roger Sullivan did not live to enjoy the fruits of his labor. The old boss died shortly before the Democratic National convention of 1920. Although he had been in declining health for some time, his passing came as a shock; he had been a prominent part of the Chicago scene for so long. Sullivan's only elected office had been as a probate court clerk in the 1890's, but the citizens of his city were aware that a political giant had moved among them. The honored him in the traditional way America commemorates her dead statesmen. They named a high school after him.The successors were George Brennan and Anton Cermak and the capstone Cermak's election as Mayor in 1931.
Yet, even with the death of its founding father, the Democratic organization scarcely missed a beat. The man dies, the machine lives on--Sullivan would have approved. His legacy had been a united, efficient Democratic party. Now his successors would have to put the capstone on his construction and realize full power. --Schmidt page 54
Since our current president is a man of such legendary moral clarity, who is allegedly so willing to speak the truth no matter what those furriners think of us, perhaps he will emulate Lady Astor, who during a 1931 reception in Moscow, reportedly greeted Josef Stalin with the question: "When are you going to stop killing people?" The question needs to be asked of the Sudanese government every day, and if we're not willing to militarily intervene to stop the killing, the Bush administration should at least go to the trouble of making sure we aren't subsidizing it.
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
But as to the couple of Republicans up for re-election in a difficult Northeast district and state who, in the name of their consciences, have said slightly rude things about the majority leader of their party, I can only quote that shrewd discerner of character, Oscar Wilde: "Conscience is but the name which cowardice Fleeing the battle scrawls upon its shield."
Oregon Democrat Senator Ron Wyden was particularly caustic in his questioning of Negroponte, interrupting the ambassador regularly and despite his stated intention to not do so, was clearly trying to re-debate the contra issue of the 80’s.
However, as Negroponte reminded Wyden, “It’s not as if refugees were fleeing Honduras into the neighboring communist counties,” as Wyden asserted, “it was just the opposite. Despite the noted abuses that took place in Honduras, thousands were fleeing the surrounding countries to come there,” where the standard of human rights was markedly higher.
They're seldom blunt people either; which is the other flaw the Dem's have charged Bolton. I have a feeling Bolton more blunt than a suck up.
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
BUT ALAS, somewhere over the last two decades or so, liberalism lost its root as the word liberal was perverted to the point of Orwellian inversion--and therefore rendered meaningless.
For example, rooting against the United States and for "insurgents" who delight in slaughtering innocents is many things (stupid, for one, also sad, evil, and short-sighted), but it is assuredly not liberal.
Decrying the American "religious right" for advocating a "culture of life" while simultaneously praising the neck-slicing Islamofascists is many things (start with pathetic), but it is not liberal.
Calling 3,000 workers who died when the buildings fell "little Eichmanns" is many things (vile, as well as repulsive and morally repugnant), but it is not liberal.
Protesting the painless execution of a sadistic murderer while cheering the removal of a feeding tube from a brain-damaged woman whose parents very much want her alive even if her estranged husband doesn't, is many things (incomprehensible, indefensible, and unforgivably cruel), but it is not liberal.
The list keeps going.
Clinton fired back yesterday, suggesting that political consultant Arthur Finkelstein, who has launched a "Stop Her Now" campaign, is suffering from "self-loathing." --Daily News April 12, 2005My experience is gay activists label other gays they disagree with as "self loathing". I don't know how they know someone is self-loathing. It's a strange accusation to make of someone. Clinton picks it up in the above quote today.
Monday, April 11, 2005
Sunday, April 10, 2005
I wonder if SEIU's Andy Stern or the AFL-CIO's John J. Sweeney have bi-lingual cards. They don't have a bi-lingual website.
Labor used to have a global mindset just like Hunter's at Littelfuse but I don't think unions have a global view anymore other than advocating unemployment for workers outside the United States. It's not "don't mourn, organize" anymore, it's just don't buy from Walmart so we put some working kid in Cambodia on starvation rations.
It doesn't dawn on our labor leaders that they still should think in terms of workers of the world unite. Stern should have that card read in Cambodian on the back.
Here is Obama's quote DJW cites:
Obama urged the people in the audience to get involved, and said 10 letters from constituents can have more influence on a politician than a $1,000 contribution.
"If bad legislation is being passed, a lot of times it's because nobody's paying attention," he said.
Saturday, April 09, 2005
I had to do some kind of career report for 8th grade at Oak Park's Lincoln School. Model Railroader magazine sent me a kind and thoughtful response and my parents so taken with it they preserved it in plastic. I've kept it and it hangs in my office now.
Friday, April 08, 2005
B39Olds had the Gyros Special including fries and a medium drink.
I had the hot dog special: two pups with everything, fries, and a medium drink. Note to international readers, we don't use ketchup on hot dogs in Chicago. It's not done. I have a friend who travels to Latin American and he tells me they put mayonnaise on their hot dogs in Chili.
Normally we would go for a beer later at The Thirsty Fox or Pub 222.
Blogging's given me an appreciation of anchor tags and hyperlinks. These tools have raised documentation standards. The days when reporters could just pass off sources without giving readers the right to drill down into them are over. I feel insulted now if someone quotes a source and I don't have an option to drill into that quote and follow its trail.
The Wash Post spinned this story to portray an organized Republican effort to take political advantage. It's ok if the Post wanted to spin that line, but as I reader I want the option to drill into that source and find out who wrote it and evaluate for myself how organized the political effort was.
More discussion on this topic here.
Stout, of Utica, Ohio, was awarded the Purple Heart after a grenade sent pieces of shrapnel into his arm, face and legs while he was operating a machine gun on an armored Humvee last May.
He is believed to be the first gay soldier wounded in Iraq to publicly discuss his sexuality, said Aaron Belkin, director of the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military at the University of California-Santa Barbara.
''We can't keep hiding the fact that there's gay people in the military and they aren't causing any harm,'' said Stout.
Thursday, April 07, 2005
To date, one of the insurgents' primary targets has been security personnel, most of whom are Shiites. The Sunni clerics' encouragement of Sunnis to enlist will necessitate a change in the insurgents' tactics, if not strategy.
No Pasarn!: The triumph of morality and hope over fear and despotism has never been fully understood by the post-Vietnam American left
On a related note, Andrew Sullivan blasts JP II for not standing up against another moral outrage. I'm not Catholic but supported the Chruch financially for ten years and drove my kids back and forth from CCD classes. That entitles me to make one criticism: the Church needs a dose of Democratic governance. Too the extent the JP II impeded those changes, I'm with Andrew A.
I see the People of Illinois when the Gov appears and feel he deserves respect as a symbol when he shows at an event like this. I realize Pols use symbolism for political gain too; so it's a fine line. I'm not bent out-of-shape by hecklers. I just wouldn't do it at a basketball celebration. Everything is balance.
Sen. Mel Martinez said last night that his office was the source of the anonymous political talking-points memo on the Terri Schiavo situation and that he unwittingly passed the memo to Sen. Tom Harkin, Iowa Democrat.A Republican staffer wrote them but the stories read much differently when you know the authors and circumstances. Now we just need to know who wrote the Rathergate memo and who 'outted' Valerie Palme.
Mr. Harkin had told reporters earlier in the day that he got the memo on the Senate floor from Mr. Martinez, contradicting previous statements to The Washington Times by the Florida Republican's office that neither the senator nor his staff had produced or distributed the memo.
Mr. Martinez said in a statement last night, after repeated inquiries by The Washington Times, that unbeknownst to him, one of his staffers had produced the memo and it came into his possession. He said the staff member, whom he did not name, has resigned. A Senate aide identified the staffer as Brian Darling, legal counsel for Mr. Martinez's office.
Mr. Martinez said Mr. Harkin told him about the memo yesterday. The Republican said he had meant to give Mr. Harkin a document describing Mr. Martinez's bill to prolong Mrs. Schiavo's life while federal courts reviewed her situation.
"Until this afternoon, I had never seen it and had no idea a copy of it had ever been in my possession. I have vehemently denied the memo and its sentiments, as has my staff," he said in a statement.
"As I have stated numerous times, I vehemently condemn this memo's sentiments. This memo in no way reflected my motivations for being involved in this legislation whatsoever," Mr. Martinez said.
He said an internal office investigation determined that "a senior member of my staff was unilaterally responsible for this document."
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
ECC’s Canine Massage class teaches you how to massage your dog — no matter what age — to reduce physical and emotional stress, improve circulation, increase flexibility, decrease injury potential, and boost the immune system.I just scratch my dog behind her ears.
This class strengthens the bond between you and your best friend. With nearly 20 years experience, Pat Sweeney, member of the American Kennel Club Health Foundation, guides participants through sequences of animal massage. Sweeney uses holistic, positive techniques to make these classes a fun and meaningful learning experience for man, woman or child and beast.
I'm less concerned about coercing what Pharmacists should fill than I am about shortages of Pharmacists and other allied health professionals.
Hospitals rooms are designed now with plenty of room for family members to stay over because of the expectation there will be no end to a shortage of nurses to care for you. An argument for redefining the family. You'll need a network as you age.
People at the rally were saying, 'Please ask the Americans not to forget us. We want democracy. We need help.' They are asking over and over, keep the spotlight on this place.
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
The trouble was with the spark plug, which were soon repaired, and I cut out for Dunkerque and Ostend. Where the British were so punished the town is ruined. Quonset huts stand there on the ruins. The back of the ancient water was like wolf grey. Then on the long sand the waves crashed white; they spit themselves to pieces. I saw this spectre of white anger coming from the savage grey and meanwhile shot northward, in a great hurry to get to Bruges and out of this line of white which was like eternity opening up right besides destructions of the modern world, hoary and grumbling. I thought if I could beat the dark to Bruges I'd see the green canals and ancient palaces. On a day like this I could use the comfort of it, when it was so raw. I was still chilled from the hike across the fields, but, thinking of Jacqueline and Mexico, I got to grinning again. That's the animal ridens in me, the laughing creature, forever rising up. What's so laughable, that a Jacqueline, for instance, as hard used as that by rough forces, will still refuse to lead a disappointed life? Or is the laugh at nature -including eternity-that it thinks it can win over us and the power of hope? Nah, nah! I think. It never will. But that probably is the joke, on one or the other, and laughing is an enigma that includes both. Look at me, going everywhere! Why, I am a sort of Columbus of those near-at-hand and believe you can come to them in this immediate terra incognito that spreads out in every gaze. I may well be a flop at this line of endeavor. Columbus too thought he was a flop, probably , when they sent him back in chains. Which didn't prove there was no America. --last paragraph from Bellow's The Adventures of Augie March.
The Adventures of Augie March the only book of Bellow's I really could get through. This passage always sticks in my mind because I've made this drive.
What ever happened to fighting liberals and progressives? It's "which side are you on!" and if you have to stop and flow chart it you're on the wrong side. Letting workers divert a regressive FICA tax into a fund they own is progressive. Let the green eye shade folks flow chart the details. Bush's "ownership" society is progressive, liberal, and worth fighting for.
West Side agent bristled last night watching O'Riley talk about secularists. She couldn't figure out who the secularists were, or why O'Riley ranted about them. I flipped channels to Two and half Men co-starring Heather Locklear and said this is what O'Riley meant by secularist.
Secularism and spirituality have nothing to do with separation of Church and State. That's all about power and the disestablishement of a Church.
Spirit's at the core of our humanity. We can corrupt or strengthen our spirit, but we can't bifurcate ourselves into the spiritual and the secular.
So there is a spirituality of sorts at work with Heather Locklear and Charlie Sheen on that show. The two are one even on secular TV. Whether it's corrupt or not, I can't say. I laughed at the jokes. West Side agent left the room with the paper.
Monday, April 04, 2005
A senior Republican senator who avoids the headlines and tries to help President Bush as much as possible was discussing with me two weeks ago the problems of seeking Social Security reform. Then he said something that surprised me: "I have been around awhile, and this is the worst administration at congressional relations that I have ever been associated with."
Part of the confict is Bush's effort to control the alliance of Congress, Contractors, and Agency bureaucrats, and impose some rational management on the Federal government. Witness the hold Sen Lott's placed on Bush's choice of his former Sec VA Tony Principi to head the base closings commission.
It's tough to spend and manage rationally when Senators talk like this,
In February, he [Lott] told The Associated Press, "I will try to stop it [BRAC] at any point and in any way I possibly can." He says the United States should not be closing domestic bases while its troops are waging war abroad.
Sunday, April 03, 2005
American Government --and our culture-- is all about balancing power and resolving conflicts between competing "rights". Our political differences are largely differences about where those conflicts should be resolved: by individuals, by families, by local gov, states, the feds. Buck understands. It's surprising how many miss the concept today since we all learn about the balance-of-power in Jr. High.
I think Democrats need to ask themselves what they'll tell voters four, eight, or ten years from now if Social Security isn't reformed. We'll be facing 1983 style regressive FICA tax increases or big benefit cuts. Someone will be saying if we had let people spread 4% of their FICA tax into ownership accounts at the market rate, here is where they would have been. Consider younger people already favorable to the idea: they'll just be plain angry at the party who opposed reform.
Win or lose on reform, I think the Republicans are giving themselves a lock on the future electorate for national offices that will be impossible to break.
Thursday, March 3 5:01 p.m. ET
Every day, I get a list of new GAO reports in my e-mail inbox. After reading the titles of these reports (and sometimes, heaven forbid, the reports themselves) for several years, I think I can say with confidence that GAO has scientifically determined that the state of almost every federal program is as follows: "Management Improving, But Challenges Remain." Don't believe me? Go to GAO's Web site and do a search for reports with the terms "management," "improving," "challenges," and "remain." Makes you wonder: Does GAO actually think that federal management will one day reach a state of nirvana in which no further challenges remain? I hope I'm around for that.
I would send the GAO folks to an internship at McDonald's or WalMart.
People may praise decorum and say they yearn for civility when the pollsters come around, but most of them would much rather bounce off hard polemical surfaces than sink into deliberative mush offered by those who fear to offend.
For the most part, I find the "screeching" to be stimulating, informative and healthy--invigorating, not agitating. The debate over the war in Iraq, for instance, which marked my first significant encounter with blogging, helps us understand our differences even as it amplifies them.
It's democratic and it snatches the keys away from the traditional gatekeepers.
And unless you intend to become a news hermit, this particular tsunami leaves you only two choices--learn to enjoy surfing or drown.
I think that might be a great idea for all of us but for reasons Rich may not have had in mind.
West Side agent told me when you drive through McDonald's now and place your order, the voice you hear on the speaker may not be located at that McDonald's, but could be from someone far away (India maybe?) and the order-taker is communicating with the grill by computer. That's McDonald's solution to employing non-English speakers in the restaurant to cook and package your meal.
American business offers a lot of lessons on innovation for stale professions.
You can be against the war and support the troops. My observation is most people use the Troops and Veterans as political footballs. Veterans use Veterans as political footballs. So I'm wary of people who wrap themselves in the flag. I'm wary of people who use other's service to score politcal points.
She has some wonderful links to Iraqi bloggers. Many are Children. Check them out.
Saturday, April 02, 2005
Friday, April 01, 2005
Just as the announcement came over the radio that Schiavo had died, I was reading a compelling column by John Leo in the current edition of U.S. News and World Report about bioethics and how its practitioners have encouraged us to accept the monstrous.
He quoted Rev. Richard Neuhaus, editor of the religious journal First Things. Here is the Neuhaus quote, and I hope to memorize it:
"Thousands of ethicists and bioethicists, as they are called, professionally guide the unthinkable on its passage through the debatable on its way to becoming the justifiable, until it is finally established as the unexceptional."
Frankly, the only one who comes out looking good here is American Girl dolls owner Mattel which, in a rare moment of corporate courage, didn't simply give in to the extortion demands (15 scholarships, plus a jobs program, plus much more -- I'm surprised they didn't ask for ponies, too) but stood by its author and its book.
According to the back of the box, the American Girl doll's parents flee Pilsen for Des Plaines to escape gangs and crime. Des Plaines strikes me an odd burb to flee too, although I really don't know much about Des Plaines other than Des Plaines hobbies. Pilsen has great restaurants plus Zientek's Model Trains at 2001 W 18th St. Zientek's is also a tavern so you can sip a beer while looking at trains.
If your kid is looking for trouble, I imagine he/she can find it as easily in Des Plianes as Pilsen. You'll eat and drink better in Pilsen though. I don't think your real estate investment in Pilsen will go south either.
Maybe the teachers and kids should just invite the Mattel Execs to dinner along 18th Street. Throw a little sand in their faces kids and pick up the tab for Mattel too.
No details of the mission have been released, but it has been reported that the company was told radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who led uprisings against U.S.-led forces in Iraq last year, was believed to be in the car with a driver.
The company chased the vehicle and fired at it. A passenger who was slightly wounded fled and was later apprehended.
The driver was dragged from the car with serious head injuries and pronounced untreatable by Maynulet's medic.
Maynulet, who has been lauded by his peers as a promising officer, outstanding leader and dedicated soldier, then shot the driver. The killing was filmed by a U.S. drone surveillance aircraft.
''I hope you can take into consideration my service, my attitude and my love for the Army before you make a decision,'' Maynulet told the jury.
In closing arguments Thursday, prosecutor Maj. John Rothwell said Maynulet ''played God'' when he shot the driver, whom the U.S. military has referred to only as an ''unidentified paramilitary member.'' - Chicago Sun Times, April 1, 2005
Our western culture has thus been utterly brutalized. The bedrock of our civilization, the absolute respect we afford each other because all human life is equal, has been destroyed. Those who are aghast at this pre-modern brutishness find themselves vilified as obscurantist throwbacks. The judiciary, one of our erstwhile bulwarks against any descent into tyranny, has turned into the enforcer of a post-modern deconstruction of personhood.
Socialists waved the "red flag" because everyone's blood was red. The British Labour Party still sings "The Red Flag". All human life was equal; eveyone's blood was red.
We're on moral quicksand when we start judging some life not worth living. Bush was right when he said err on the side of life but he ought rethink the death penalty just as Santorum has done.