Wednesday, November 17, 2010

This works as well as any other theory

I'm thinking that letting the Bush tax cuts die for the rich (not to mention taxing them at an even higher rate) might actually help get the economy moving. I mean these people can live on the interest on their money even when the interest is one percent, but maybe if they have to pay more taxes, they'll be inspired to make risky investments in order to earn more money on their money. I haven't read this anywhere but doesn't it make sense, despite its counter-intuitive (because raising their taxes is supposed to make them stop spending, as lowering their taxes is supposed to make them spend more--all utter nonsense) quality? I mean they're the people who have money to play around with, but no need to bother if they can just sit back and rake it in.

Scanners v. Full-Body Searches

Could this be the spark that re-ignites American outrage? Torture, ok; wiretapping, ho-hum; forced to pay for Insurance CEOs' giant salaries, it was the only way we could get any health insurance; but the government's hands on our bodies? Maybe that will work. I'm hoping if not hopeful.

But I can say this--I sure don't want to fly into or in the US while this is going on. And I fear for my son and his novia on their way to Mexico in February, so hope it's cleared up by then.

Friday, November 5, 2010

This time it's the Washington Post

David Broder, a Post columnist, in the course of suggesting that Obama start a war with Iran as a way of winning his second term (and rescuing us from Depression), mentions the following: "Iran is the greatest threat to the world in the young century." What are these people on? Does it ever occur to them that it's the US that has killed and/or just-old caused the death of maybe millions of people? I mean it's happened before their very eyes. Why don't they get it?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Congratulations. You have not burned a Koran today.

Must we be congratulating Terry Jones, pastor of some godforsaken church in Florida, for NOT burning Korans this weekend? I'm not burning them either, which is the position of millions of people all over the world. Are we being congratulated? Roger Cohen quotes Heinrich Heine saying in the 19th century, "If they burn books, they will also burn people." How prescient he was. That could have been Terry Jones's next step, too. Would anyone put it past him?

The news media is only too happy to make a disgusting circus of all of this. How Jews (the Anti-Defamation League, for example) could possibly join in this anti-muslim fray is just totally beyond me. The ADL says it's okay to build the mosque center, just not where the group that's doing it wants to build it. Do they realize they are contributing to a miasma that may well have little muslim children in NYC right now feeling exactly the way little jewish children felt in Germany in the 30s? Never Again--was that supposed to be just about Jews?

For once, I must say Thank you, NY Times, for today's paper. It included a speculation on why Terry Jones gets so much ink (a bit of a mea culpa, in fact) and at long last an actual story about the Muslim widow and children of an actual Muslim who had been killed in the World Trade Center. Ultimo!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The trouble with "Liberals"

They will not stop demonizing their fellow citizens, will they? I mean some progressives, who cannot understand how Americans can be SO stupid as to support the Republican party in the upcoming election. Well, they voted the Dems in, didn't they? And what did it get them? Worse unemployment, a commission apparently created to end social security, a very bad health reform bill that will require us to pay the scandalously high salaries of insurance co. CEOs, and the loss of more and more houses to foreclosure. No advance on unions, no improvement in privacy, no prosecution of torturers, and... Military Commissions! There are I suppose some good things that the Democrats did; they are not nearly as bad as the Repugs even at their worst, but who knows about them? The Dems seem almost to hope that nobody important (read rich) knows if they've done something for the "lesser people" (vide Alan Simpson, meaning anyone who isn't a Fat Cat). Secretly, I have to feel, they just want to be accepted by the Establishment (a word I haven't heard in a long time) so they'll get a lot of money for their campaigns (plus it's so much more elegant to pal around with the elite).

So who are the masses supposed to vote for? There are only two parties and that doesn't give them much choice right now. How do they express their displeasure with the Dems? By voting for them again? I don't think so. And most people are not quite up to starting new parties or new movements, oddly. So all they can do is vote for the Other Guy--the repugs, god help us all.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

a poem about my husband when he was dying

Remember, no, Forget

Remember the moments when we were together
In a white room. Remember no forget the rest that came afterward.
The rest--your rest is what we’re talking about, but
I meant everything, the rest of it, that came later,
Everything after you died in the room. Everything up to now.
No, I know.
You really died in some other room where they were scanning your body. I don’t know why. I know that then,
You were alive, drugged, happy in a way, smiling, and then we (Laura and I) went out to dinner and
You were dead. Even though the machines kept you breathing for awhile.

But remember the moments before, way before, the day before,
The week before, the years before. Sleeping side by side, your hands on my breasts. Embracing until we were exhausted. Almost too tired to get up. You got up so early.
The moments in the living room
Before dinner. Drinking vodka, talking, kissing, laughing about what happened
That day or last year or whenever. Planning what to do on our next trip.

Remember the awful moments and also the one happy moment in the white room
When you said, “Where have you been all day?” When you finally smiled.
They finally decided to give you something to stop the pain. Finally.
Waiting, waiting, I waited all day long for that moment that I thought would come
As soon as we got to the hospital. But didn’t. It was just pain and
Pain and pain and pain until that one moment in the white room. They all said things like
“Dad, how are you?” I said, “I was right here.” I embraced you.

That was the last time.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

To the New York Times (which will never publish it) today

Your August 5th story, "Law Will Extend Medicare Fund, Report Says," repeats the same old chestnut about Social Security that we've heard or seen millions of times: ... "After that, the program will have to draw down the Social Security trust fund, which is not an actual reserve of money but an accounting device tracking the accumulated surplus. " I have never understood what this means, but I would like to. Aren't all such institutions merely accounting devices by this measure? I mean, is a bank an actual reserve of money or merely an accounting device? Surely banks do not have all the billions or millions of dollars they list as assets in little piles in a back room. Surely even Goldman Sachs and the companies that issue all the stocks they sell are also "just accounting devices." Is there something I don't understand here? If so, I would appreciate an explanation OR I would appreciate your discontinuance of this phrase, which seems only to be of use to those who would denigrate Social Security.
Thank you.
Carol Wheeler


Saturday, July 31, 2010

Who do they write for?

"Nervous about Social Security? Better Prepare Now" is the headline of a piece in today's Times (7/31/10)--yet another thoughtless, let 'em eat cake article on subjects like this in that paper. The advice the writer gives amounts to: Eat less caviar now, drive something less than a Mercedes, winter may be coming. Does it occur to anyone at the Times that there are families, yes, whole families, that are barely making it, that can barely put food on the table? If they are employed at all, they're lucky, and if they are, they're, perforce, contributing to social security, which is all they'll get and all they can hope to get when they retire. Do the editors read their own newspaper? People are hurting, and people of modest means make up most of the population, even in New York City. Remember, the US is among the three countries with the widest income gap--one percent of the population owns about 95 percent of the wealth. I know the Times has reported on this. How can they be so crass and callous? Beats me.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

If... then

If... then... Two of the worst phrase introducers that journalism has to offer. Cases in point from the Times: If the president sticks to his timetable for leaving Afghanistan, we could lose this war (!) (Senator Graham, what ever made you think we could win this war?); If the new drug tryout works, we'll find the secret to Alzheimer's (commenter on new small company drug). The first one--losing the war--so utterly certain; the second--the drug working--so unlikely and yet so obvious. Why bother to report them? Surely the Times can do better than this?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Oh Joe!

"Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, the independent from Connecticut, suggested legislation that would strip Americans of their citizenship — and the constitutional rights that come with that — if they become involved in terrorism. Speaking on Fox, Mr. Lieberman noted that existing law stripped citizenship from Americans fighting for enemy militaries." (from the Times)

But Joe, you're forgetting we live in the US under the US Constitution, which I believe includes a little matter of innocent until proven guilty. Had you heard of that, dear Senator Lieberman? Or do you admire the Israeli government, which ignores decisions of its Supreme Court, when it suits it? Maybe you don't want to live in, let alone legislate, in the US. Your attitude seems totally at odds with our system of government, the one our soldiers supposedly are dying for right now. "Become involved in terrorism," how would you prove that? Or is it just on the basis of what the police decide, no proof needed. What a stunning remark, Joey baby. Even Glenn Beck, according to the Times, knows better.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

For Reconciliation, Read Majority Vote Throughout

Why can't they just say "pass it by majority vote" instead of endlessly going on about reconciliation? No one (very few people) has any idea of what they're talking about. Is the point just to obfuscate? Even the good guys do it. Stop!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Promise change. Don't deliver. Your ratings sink.

How much clearer could it be? Obama was elected to the presidency because he promised change; he had super-high approval ratings when people still thought he would deliver. Now, as it becomes clear that he won't, that he's not even trying to fight the establishment and make real change--in health care, in the economy, in our approach to the world, in adhering to the Constitution--his approval ratings have gone down. It's not because of the tea party people, it's not because he's too radical (!); it's not because he doesn't listen to the Repugs; it's because he's not doing what he said he'd do. People voted for change, they're not getting it, they're disappointed. So simple. The Repugs of course do everything to obfuscate this obvious point, and the press is their effing handmaiden. The press, like the Repugs, doesn't see it because they don't want to see it. Otherwise, how dumb can they be?

So, the fog over the country is not just created by job loss and home loss; people wanted change so much that they actually elected a young Black man, and not by a slim margin. They gave him a Congress dominated by his own party. And nothing much happened --business as usual. So how despairing does that make a people who have been endlessly buffeted by tales of terrorists, to the point that they're shivering in their boots when the wind blows a door shut? This presidency pretty much seems to put the nail in the coffin of the America we all admired and loved. If this election didn't do it, why bother? That feeling is pervasive; the people aren't as stupid as they look. They know they're now owned by the corporate state--they might not articulate it, but they know it. And they don't like it, but they feel completely powerless to change it now. That's how I feel, certainly.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Brief Moments of Happiness

I've decided to appreciate those more. My pets, for instance, give me a lot of those, and I have such a good time as a result, in the idle moments that most of my life consists of. Brief Moments Of Happiness, especially when several of them occur in succession, is probably the high point that one can expect at this stage of life, when the Pervasive Glow Of Bliss is somewhat absent (but not in the least forgotten). Almost entirely absent, actually, although I've had, I think, even more than my share of the PGOB in my lifetime. Now, though, I really must remember to savor those BMOH--when consciously felt and remembered and enjoyed, they virtually add up to that old PGOB. That's the joy of it all.

We like to view ourselves as rational creatures, says David Pogue

Wasn't it a Times writer who had great success with a book called Emotional Intelligence (never read it because having read his pieces about psychology, I guessed he knew very little about his subject)? Well, now, as per the head above, David Pogue, the Times technology editor, adds his support to the national (maybe human) love affair with denial. If you've ever read a word of Freud (or any of his cohort), how could you "like to think of ourselves as rational creatures." Even if you've had any experience in life (and taken it to heart) or have any emotional intelligence at all, how could you think such a thing? Look at how our nation is governed (or not governed) and tell me how rational we are as creatures. Is it rational to deny care to children so rich people can own more things? Is it rational to put aside the nation's health and sanity to get more money to be re-elected? Is it rational to torture? Is it rational to destroy the Constitution and everything it stands for. No, I would submit.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Comments on When Patients Can't Afford Their Care (in NYT)

Couldn't get this posted, so thought I"d put it here. (American Girl was a commenter.) "American Girl is so right." Why do we let these people, whose salaries and benefits we pay for, get away with it? Why is there never a mention of that fact in a news story? It's a fact, really. Why is there never a mention of the fact that other advanced countries manage to give everyone good care at half or less than half of what we pay per person for some care for a few? It's an outrage that just seems to go on and on; an obvious truth that's somehow treated like a secret. It's a betrayal of our country perpetrated by the people we vote into office and give the best medical care our money can buy.

Monday, January 11, 2010

What ever happened to taxes?

"As it prepares to pay out big bonuses to employees, Goldman Sachs is considering expanding a program that would require executives and top managers to give a certain percentage of their earnings to charity." (From the Times) Christ, what kind of society is America, after all? Relying on the idle rich to give some of their ill-gotten gains to charity--isn't that more like some oldtime monarchy or something? It sure doesn't sound like the US, does it? At least not the US I recall from my youth. The graduated income tax is where we're supposed to get the money to support society; the progressive (get it?) income tax.

Excuse Me?

"For years, the Pentagon has shielded them from public scrutiny: few people have seen alleged teen terrorist Omar Khadr's shrapnel-clouded blind eye, confessed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed on his knees in prayer, or the shy grin of Yemeni Suleiman al Nadhi."

This quote is from a story about the release by the Red Cross of photos of Guantanomo detainees. I guess our conclusion is supposed to be "Oh sweet Pentagon, you've been so kind." This and torture are the biggest blots on our history ever. We will never live it down and it's clearly the beginning of the end of our hegemony in the world. Why can't they see it? I guess it's just the hopelessly inevitable march of history. But I wish I saw some other country that's better taking over.