Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Obama's Logic

I was impressed with Obama's logic ... the logic of reality, I guess, I'd call it.

History and motive are rarely, if ever, clean and pure ... like Bonhoeffer made clear in his ethics, it's all decision, with no external data or law to which we can appeal, but can only make the best decision we can and render it up to God. 

A young man reared in a fundamentalist/evangelical church said to me recently, "I'm all in or I'm all out; it's black or  it's white for me." I said to him, "Charles Manson was 'all in or all out.' The young man said, "Don't compare me to Charles Manson." And then I said, "Seeing life as black or white is no virtue. Life is mostly gray."

The young man is a serious surfer, so I said, "You can't ride every wave - you spend a lot of time waiting and thinking. And the wave you choose may not go anywhere, or it may be the best ride of the day. Life is not black or white."

I was surprised and pleased to hear Lindsey Graham speak coherently and affirmatively, with this remark about some of his colleagues complaining about the "cost of the war" - Graham said, "No one complained about the cost of Iraq under our watch." 

I regret the use of force in our world, and America has used way too much of it in our checkered history. But I think Kadafi wouldn't have thought twice about killing thousands of Libyans.

Only children and the insane and the t-bags have the luxury of purity of thought.

The rest of us have to struggle our way through the sludge of history, and when it's done, we're all a little dirty.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

From Wall Street to Teachers - the Old GOP Switcheroo ...

From a very good friend, pastor and scholar and all-around thoughtful guy, the Rev. Dr. Bob Dahl.

My new bumper sticker would read:  I follow Jesus, Weiner and Kucinich.

On a more serious note, how did the GOP manage to switch the focus of our economic woes from Wall Street, multinational corporations and the super rich to public employees, public radio and public TV? Let's blame it all on school teachers, fire fighters, police officers, librarians, the people who keep the snow off the roads after a storm and Diane Rehm.  Yes, Diane Rehm. I knew that scratchy voice from a serious vocal disorder would ruin the economy.

Are there incompetent school teachers?  Duh?  Should attempts be made to improve our public schools?  Duh, again.  But do they and their collective bargaining union deserve the derision they are getting from GOP governors throughout the land?  

Think scapegoat.  Attack the ones who don't have much power.   Fool the American people by asserting that balancing the budgets rests on the back the public, the poor, the middle class as it slides, ever increasingly into poverty, the kids, the veterans who come home with broken bodies and spirits.  Pick on anybody but the rich who pay for the politicians' campaign largess.    

This would all be laughable if it weren't so scary.  This fragile experiment we call the United States of America, a representative democracy, is moving rapidly toward a plutocracy and oligarchy.

Bring back Marie Antoinette and let the rest eat cake. 

I hope there will be a groundswell of protest from the very public being attacked to help restore sanity and safeguard our precious experiment in governance.  


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Efficiency - in the Private Sector????

A friend of mine has raised a lot of concern about inefficiency in the public sector, especially education; at one point, my friend says: "as a lifelong educator in the classroom and at the administrative level, I can assure you there is plenty of our taxpayer $$ being wasted by poor planning, budgeting, and lack of half way decent financial skills."

He may well be right.

But I raise the following question: where, then, can we find efficiency, good planning, budgeting and financial skills?

America's banking industry?

Oh, that's right; they so cleverly invented "sophisticated" financial instruments and brought us the worst financial disaster conceivable, and then had the temerity to come to Uncle Sam with their hands out.

Big biz?

Goodness, any insider can ya' that big biz is no paragon of virtue, on any front.

Having spent a good part of my life knowing and talking with folks in various American industries - coal and steel in Pittsburgh, oil in Tulsa, the auto companies in Detroit, and the movie industry in LA - there is tons of waste, extravagance, poor planning, bad goal setting and a host of lesser sins. But it's mostly hidden from public view. American industry has no sunshine rules like the public sector.

One of the great American myths perpetrated by Reagan and Big Biz is that Big Biz is efficient, and could run government services so much more efficiently, and government is always the problem.

Horse patootie ... big time.

But myths are hard to defeat, and this silly myth of private-sector efficiency has brought us our knees, and has millions of Americans scrambling to dismantle public education in favor of charter schools, private schools and home-schooling. Ya sure, you betcha!

Every time I see a fire engine responding to an emergency, or visit a national or state park, or get a letter in the mail, I see just how efficient government is.

I'm a product of both private and public education, and while one might well promote private education for philosophical purposes, it's a total mistake to suggest that the private sector has a financial leg up on the public.

It simply doesn't, no more than anyone has a moral or ethical leg up on anyone else.

The myth is just that - a story, and not a very good one at that.

Give me the public sector any time, and give me the inefficiency of our public schools, and if we're going to improve our education, let's quit demeaning our teachers; let's start building them up, touting them as the heroes they are, and let's fully fund our schools, once and for all. And let's pay attention to the home, and let's quit being such silly hypersensitive parents who quickly attack the teacher when little Billy wets his pants.

But that's another story.

Monday, March 14, 2011

GOP and the Primrose Path

The simple truth: the GOP hasn't a clue, and never has. While they're effective on the rhetoric end of things, they're totally dysfunctional when it comes to actually running a government. The GOP has given us our current fiscal mess, not only in CA, but in Texas and acreoss the nation, including our own national government. And, now, they cry "foul" against the Dems - an effective strategy when it comes to PR, but a futher blow to the wellbeing of CA and the nation.
The GOP is without moral compass. That anyone should listen to the GOP is beyond my grasp. They have led us down the primrose path to disaster, all the while pulling the wool over our eyes, like a skilled pickpocket, lifting our wallet and diverting our attention.
One of these days, Americans may wake up to the utter nonsense of the GOP, and traditional members of the GOP may realize (though it's too late, I believe) how their party has been hijacked and ransacked by reactionary forces inimical to democracy.
Check out George Skelton's fine article about the GOP in CA: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-cap-budget-20110314,0,1755546.column

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The GOP Budget - Scrooge on Steroids

Please note, the GOP hopes to slash the budget on the backs of the people who are least likely to cry out in pain.

Try this with the rich and the powerful, and none of these political hacks would be returned to office in the next round of elections. In reality, the current gaggle of GOP politicians aren't leaders, but simply frontmen for reactionary forces. Hence, their pitiful scrambling for "saying the right thing" in front of their bizarre audience, and getting it mostly wrong (e.g. Huckabee). Do any of them have a bone of integrity left in their bodies?

But going after the poor and the downtrodden, single moms and the working poor and their children, people too tired to protest, and without the means to hire attorneys and fight their battles (like the big corps who can spend tens of millions suing a small biz that uses a product name similar to theirs), the GOP is will gut the heart and soul of our great land.

In truth, the GOP couldn't care less about the budget, but about sustaining the biggest transfer of wealth ever witnessed in history (theft on a national scale) - over the last 50 years of mostly GOP governance, from the pockets of the many to the purses of the few. The GOP is creating an oligarchy.

GOP plans for the US is an unmitigated disaster, and most importantly, as far I can see it, a script from hell, literally. There is nothing "Christian" in any of it - not a shred of kindness or grace or mercy or decency. This is nothing but Scrooge on Steroids.

Top 10 Worst Things about the Republicans' Immoral Budget

The Republican budget would: 
1. Destroy 700,000 jobs, according to an independent economic analysis. 
2. Zero out federal funding for National Public Radio and public television.
3. Cut $1.3 billion from community health centers—which will deprive more than 3 million low-income people of health care over the next few months.
4. Cut nearly a billion dollars in food and health care assistance to pregnant women, new moms, and children.
5. Kick more than 200,000 children out of pre-school by cutting funds for Head Start.
6. Force states to fire 65,000 teachers and aides, dramatically increasing class sizes, thanks to education cuts. 
7. Cut some or all financial aid for 9.4 million low- and middle-income college students. 
8. Slash $1.6 billion from the National Institutes of Health, a cut that experts say would "send shockwaves" through cancer research, likely result in cuts to Alzheimer's and Parkinson's research, and cause job losses.
9. End the only federal family planning program, including cutting all federal funding that goes to Planned Parenthood to support cancer screenings and other women's health care.
10. Send 10,000 low-income veterans into homelessness by cutting in half the number of veterans who get housing vouchers this year.