Mighty Meg victim of possible blackmail (it might serve her right though), plus Meg Whitman in a can and Jerry the Jokester in California Governor race…

September 30, 2010

This will be quick, or maybe not, because what with computer problems keeping me off the air or internet or whatever I am supposed to call it I feel like I am way behind on my regular commentary and analysis of news and politics and other things.

But I did catch the first debate between Republican Meg Whitman and Democrat Jerry Brown the other night.

My immediate impression afterwards (I did miss several minutes in the beginning, I believe) was that they basically tied with neither delivering a knockout punch.

Whitman was crisp but canned,while  Brown was a little too casual at times, although he certainly is in command of facts (as he sees them anyway) and California political history, and why not on the latter? He’s been a big part of it. I thought he could have left out the wise cracking about himself — the part where he said he used to close the bars at night (I thought he was probably more into marijuana), but is older now. He seemed to be saying the fact that he has entered geezerhood is a good thing (his initial one-word answer for why he would not be running for president was “age”). He said he’s too old to leave his governor chair to run for president as he did a couple of times in the past (he did serve as governor back in the 70s for those who might not recall).

Whitman to me, both in and out of the debate, comes off as kind of arrogant. She is currently being subjected to a nanny gate scandal — having had an illegal alien working for her as a house woman. Of course it is dirty politics, but there may be some truth there, even if some may be distorted (or not).

With the frustration of California voters high over a dysfunctional state government it would seem to me that Whitman has a good chance — not to mention the millions of dollars of her own money she is pouring into the race — more than any other candidate in history. But you can’t necessarily buy an election. A rich but political unknown candidate tried to buy a U.S. Senate seat with his own money many years ago. He was Michael Huffington. Didn’t work. Whitman is or at least was an unknown. By her own admission she did not even bother to vote in elections for years (just like so many do and then wonder why things do not go their way) .  But I suppose now that she has conquered business, credited with a successful run as CEO of eBay, she wants to become a political power. She argues that with her business acumen she can put the state’s economic house in order and that because she has not been a politician it will not be politics as usual.

As Brown and others have pointed out, that is what the current Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, claimed. Didn’t work.

While I am not for Whitman, I am hesitant over Brown, whom I like to listen to, but whom I am not all that sure is the right person for the job this time around. However, he is not a Republican and he is not Whitman.

I would be willing to give Whitman a chance, though,  if I could hear something good from her. But so far I have heard that she put Fresno down for being another Detroit (unemployment and ghettos, I guess), which may well be close to accurate, but why would you want to say such a thing if you are going to represent all the people of the state? She also took a swipe at San Francisco during the debate, saying that she would seek to do away with sanctuary cities (again, not a good way to make friends and get votes).

Whitman also said something to the effect that while she opposes illegal immigration she knows that farmers need Mexicans to pick our fruit and vegetables so we need some type of guest worker program (I think a lot of these guys want to bring their families with them these days).

What I think we need is less demand for hand or stoop labor (where possible), better pay, and a welfare system that requires people out of work but able to work to at least consider what might sometimes be considered a less desirable job and not simply pawn all the dirty work off on undocumented workers and then complain that there are too many illegals in the country.

One more thing about the debate. It did not deal in substantive issues for the most part because for one thing the candidates, and particularly Whitman, quickly ran to their canned talking points.

Probably it is to Whitman’s advantage if the discussion does not get down to substance since she is not steeped in the politics of California.

Brown is vulnerable because by his own admission he has been there and done that and that is what the electorate is unhappy with — all those who have been there and done that but maybe not so well (and I don’t mean to say Brown failed, but he will be lumped in with those who have).

I plan to read up on the Whitman nannygate issue so I can more meaningfully comment on it.

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UPDATE:  While conceding that when I am reading off the computer and am in a blogging mode I have a tendency to skim and maybe miss some things, from what I have just read so far I tend to think that Meg has been caught in some immigration hypocrisy. It was she who railed against illegals in the debate and it was she who said employers must face stiff sanctions for knowingly hiring them. It would seem she learned that she had done just that but was willing to look the other way until she decided to run for governor. She and her husband also seemed to have engaged in the vile wink wink nod nod thing that those in power use against the weak. If this gets out I don’t know you. At the same time, there does seem to be some phoniness in the charges by the house maid and her high-priced lawyer, both of whom no doubt see a big pay day in the offing — can you say blackmail? http://www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_16217505

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P.s.

KGO radio talk show host Gene Burns declared Whitman the winner of the debate hands down. He seemed to suggest that because she handled herself well and did not come off as a Sarah Palin, she won. I think maybe he came to that conclusion, her winning, more to draw comment from his listenership in the liberal Bay Area, more than he may have really thought she won. I might have been tempted to say she won myself because she seemed more serious at times (in tone, anyway), but I could not identify anything of substance she said. She kept repeating that Einstein said that the mark of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again when it has proven not to work. If she loses the election and all she has said is that, she may prove that theory correct.


Religious right embellishes when it accuses Obama of reporting Arizona as a human rights violator before world body

September 21, 2010

Madly turning the radio dial as I drove through the wild cow country (not wild cows, wild and cow country) of far northern California where radio reception is not always good I was astounded to hear loud and clear the self-identified Christian radio station urging its listeners not to find Jesus (that came later) but to sign a petition demanding President Obama take back the awful things he reported to the UN about Arizona.

The speaker claimed that the president had reported human rights violations committed by Arizona to the world body. This being in connection with that state’s recent immigration law, known as SB 1070.

I mean my ears perked up. I didn’t think our president should go running to the UN to bad mouth a state of the United States. I also wondered why I had not heard of this. I try to follow the news — well not try, I do, follow the news, that is.

Finally, late in the day, after I got home and after I did my house chores and other errands, I turned to the trusty internet. I had really missed out on this story.

But if you did too, here is is folks, the best that I could find:

The Obama Administration recently submitted a routine report to a UN human rights panel, being that the U.S. is a major member of the world body.

As far as I could see (and from what others have noted) there is no report of Arizona actually committing human rights violations. That state’s new immigration law is mentioned.  And it is said that the administration’s position is that immigration is the purview of the federal government and that the law has been challenged in court (a court action between levels of government is how we sort out who has charge of what in this instance). It also contends that the immigration system in the U.S. needs to be reformed and that the administration is working with congress toward that goal. And it asserts that continued immigration is important to the well being of the United States. It does mention that the administration is taking steps to ensure there is no racial profiling in its immigration policies.

What the report does say about Arizona directly is this:

“A recent Arizona law, S.B. 1070, has generated significant attention and debate at home and around the world. The issue is being addressed in a court action that argues that the federal government has the authority to set and enforce immigration law. The action is ongoing; parts of the law are currently enjoined.”

All that is on page 23 of the report. Read the whole thing for yourself at:  http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/146379.pdf

I will say, though, that the Obama administration certainly implies that something is wrong in Arizona. But I don’t see the direct accusation of wrongdoing. It’s just a description of the current situation in human rights and what the administration’s position and what it claims it is doing.

Now personally, I have little regard for the United Nations, although I suppose it has some value that I do not understand or do not give it credit for. From my viewpoint the UN is primarily a vehicle for nations to vent against the Unites States and handy thing for the U.S. to have when it needs the UN flag to use for cover in some controversial military actions, such as when George W. Bush moved to enforce UN sanctions against Iraq even through the body itself had not voted to.

But I find it curious that so-called Christian radio embellishes something and strays from religion into pure politics. I hope this station was not masquerading as a non-profit, tax exempt religious venture. It sounded like a mouthpiece for the far right (or far-out right) political establishment.

I seriously do not know if Obama is a secret Muslim, but listening to many on the far right and on the religious stations you get the impression they believe it or at least they want you to (Muslim to them being synonymous with terrorist), and in their effort to vilify Obama they call him a socialist or a communist (or a Democrat — to them that‘s bad enough.).

P.s.

I still can’t figure out this:  if it is true that Arizona is only attempting to enforce and comply with existing federal immigration law, which the supporters of SB 1070 claimed, then why the law was needed in the first place.

P.s., P.s.

Until we quit sending mixed signals on immigration — come here and do jobs we can’t get anyone else to do for the wages we are willing to pay/ don’t enter our country illegally — we will have an immigration problem.


We’re falling behind the world, we need math and science teachers and why do we distrust science anyway?

September 19, 2010

Just read a column by Thomas Friedman in the New York Times (see link at bottom of blog) about how climate change has become a four-letter word that many politicians who want to keep their public office are now afraid to utter.

It seems that the forces who put quick profits or continued profits by continuing as usual and who scoff at any environmental concerns (probably the same types that litter our earth with fast food wrappers and cigarette butts) have been so intimidating with their baseless rants against science and their threats against any politician who would heed scientific studies that the U.S. is falling behind China and European countries in the industry of new green technology.

Friedman says that while climate change has been turned into a four-letter word by many in the U.S., China has also turned it into a four-letter world, except in their case its J-O-B-S.

Of course some over-eager scientists who have fudged a little on their research have discredited the whole field to a degree and have certainly given a lot of ammunition to the know nothings who neither care nor understand anything of science and who are motivated by profit and the desire for their own immediate comfort and their need to demagogue the issue to gain power.

Now I’ll break away right here and say that I am not one to support immediate wholesale prohibitions of various activities in everyday life in the name of environmental concerns. There has to be reason and practicality in all of this.

For instance, I‘m all for recycling, but its needs to be made relatively easy, and of course it is always helpful, but perhaps not always necessary, to have some monetary incentive. I see a lot of folks collecting cans. But I am not going to spend my days sorting out trash, but I do put easily identifiable recycle material in the blue bins where I live.

Also, last night I drove through some pungent but not at all unpleasant fireplace smoke that had wafted across the freeway, signaling the approach of fall and winter. In some places that activity is already banned. To lose that would be a shame.

Environmental restrictions should be debated, but science cannot be ignored forever.

The recent massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill was an interesting case. First we were told there was no problem. Then we were told there was a big problem. Then we were told that a large percentage of the Gulf was contaminated with thick crude oil and there seemed no way to get rid of it. Then we were told that scientists had discovered that naturally occurring micro-organisms were eating much of it up. Well that certainly had to be good ammunition for those who would say just continue business as usual –see? What was all that fuss about pollution? It seemed for a time that much of the spilled oil had disappeared. But scientists have now discovered thick globs of it on the ocean floor, surprise surprise, not really.

As to climate change that most scientific observers seem to attribute in large part to man’s activities, some, including some seemingly learned observers, such as Dr. Bill Wattenburg of KGO Radio fame in San Francisco, blithely wave it off by saying there is no real scientific proof that climate change is anything but a continuation of natural processes that have been going on since time immemorial (with man-made activity only affecting it ever so slightly, maybe).

Whatever the case, I think it would be helpful if more of us were scientifically literate so that we could interpret more of what is happening for ourselves.

For some reason science is given short shrift in our education system. Under the requirements of the time (graduating from high school in 1967 in California) I could have attained a four-year degree without taking any math or science. There are some requirements along those lines these days for college, but the real problem may be in the lower grades anyway.

Ever since I can recall there has been a shortage of math and science teachers. One reason might be that many people skilled in those subjects find better paying and more desirable working conditions elsewhere.

I for one think that the best math and science teachers might well come out of career fields other than education. Sometimes people who have retired from another field then go into teaching. They might be able to afford a somewhat lower rate of pay what with their retirement benefits. That’s a plus for them — something to add to their retirement — and it is a plus for the students because teachers like that might better be able to offer real-world practical applications to the subjects that make them more meaningful.

The idea of a teacher coming from another career than education could work in all subjects, not just math and science. An English teacher who had written or edited for a quality publication might be an example of someone who could offer something extra to students.

I do not suggest that all teachers have to come from other fields beyond education and I certainly do not suggest that teacher pay can be held down because some may be entering education as a second career after retirement from another.

In fact, there could be a danger in replacing the whole education establishment with real world actors. Someone has to keep up the standards and there needs to be a certain body of people who are not subject to the shortcut thinking of the practical everyday world.

But I do think we as a nation need to invest more in education, particularly math and science, since that seems to be our weak spot, even though somewhat ironically we still lead the world in much scientific research ( I think we do, anyway). But of course a lot of foreigners come here to work and study.

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ADD 1:

And this via the Daily Kos blog, which picked it up from the LA Times (and I’m paraphrasing) — While United States researchers have developed one major breakthrough after another over the past decades, such as flat screen TVs, robotics, and lithium batteries, much of the economic benefit, to include jobs, from those developments has been shipped overseas.

And from my own point of view, some multinational or supposedly American corporations which benefit from the location and amenities and protections of the United States have no real allegiance to the United States.

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But that investment needs to go to the classrooms not the administrative offices. Yes of course we need administrators, but we have a tendency to overdo it in that regard. One reason we are top heavy in administration is that becoming a principal or vice principal or superintendent or a dean is often the only path to promotion and higher wages. There ought to be some way for teachers with demonstrable knowledge and talent to, putting it bluntly, make more money.

And how do you determine who is a good teacher meriting merit pay? Good question. While I think students’ performance obviously has to play a large part in that determination, I think demonstrable talent and knowledge, mastery if your will,  in subject matter by the teacher has to be given at least equal, if not more, weight. Teachers should not be required to be cheerleaders whipping up learning enthusiasm for their students, even though an ability in that regard is certainly welcome. Simply put, students who want to learn should be able to learn from a teacher who has knowledge as long as the teacher does his or her part to share that knowledge. A teacher who has unmotivated or perhaps simply weak-minded students should not be held accountable for their lacking.

We could simply continue business as usual. We also can fall behind the rest of the world. While I think that it is in our own best interests as a nation to lead, there is no law that says that has to be the case. It’s really up to us. But we are falling behind.

P.s.

And you should read Friedman’s column if you have not already: http://www.NYTimes.com/2010/09/19/opinion/19friedman.html?-r=1@src=r@ref=homepage


Public utilities too important and dangerous to be private; failure of elites fuels Tea Party…

September 18, 2010

It’s been a frustrating several days for me, what with my computer acting up (my own near computer illiteracy adding to this problem) and having to work at my day (and night) job driving an over-the-road big rig and all this news happening all the while:

 –The terrible and deadly natural gas line explosion in San Bruno, Ca. and the rise of the Tea Party and what it means to the Republican Party and one pundit’s prediction Sarah Palin is the  likely 2012 GOP presidential candidate (or possibly VP again) and the continuing controversy on the economy and on whose taxes to raise or cut and how to pay off the national debt and whether added indebtedness is the way to cure our nation’s economic malaise.

On that last one, some think the federal government has to prime the pump, even if it means spending more revenue than the government takes in, thereby requiring it to borrow money from China.

(If we eventually went to war with China would we have to borrow money from that country to fund the war? I always think about the time I read that Krupp Steel of Germany produced bullets for Great Britain in World War I, a nation it was fighting — well business is business (don’t really know if that story is true). It has been reported that much of the U.S.-supplied armament sent to the Middle East has been used against our own troops.)

Time will tell, we hope, what the real cause of the gas line failure in San Bruno was. But it appears at the very least the ruptured line was way too old. It was as old as me, I have read. I was born in 1949, just north in San Francisco. My family moved away when I was nearly four, but we often took trips back to the city. I recall my folks remarking about how housing subdivisions were expanding all over the hills on the peninsula. I guess that doomed neighborhood in San Bruno was one of them.

There are also disturbing reports that PG&E, the privately-run public utility that so many love to hate (who likes getting ever-escalating power bills?), got permission from the California Public Utilities Commission on more than one occasion to raise rates enough to cover the costs of fixing old gas lines, to include the one in question, but deferred work instead. No word yet on where the money went.

I personally think utilities are so important and in this case so dangerous they should be publicly run and administered by those skilled more in the technical aspects of utilities and safety rather than corporate bottom-line next quarter profits over investing in maintenance and safety types.

And as one radio talk show caller asked: why does PG&E use some of its rate payer dollars to advertise — it’s the only game in town in the areas that it serves. Also, as the caller, I think, pointed out, it is  ludicrous that rate payers must subsidize PG&E’s lobbying efforts which are not usually in the ratepayers’ interests.

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I’m wondering if the Tea Party may wind up being just another loud but ultimately ineffective splinter group or third-party populist group. Those who study  U.S. politics usually conclude that third parties have little to no chance. The structure of our federal form of government and the fact we don’t have a parliamentary system gives us room for only two major political parties.

I still remember Ross Perot, even though I’d rather forget him.

While the Tea Party stars do not impress me, except for the fact they could  be dangerous if given real power, one of the reasons they have been so successful is that the conventional political intelligentsia has failed miserably in its leadership.  Tea Party activists have found that they can gain much traction by railing against established elites.

Personally I think we need elites. But these elites need to remember their responsibility to the country. If they fail we will be left with half-baked Alaskan beauty queens and their ilk.


Outsourcing is unpatriotic and borders on treason…

September 13, 2010

If I had my way, American companies would not be allowed to outsource employment or at the very least would be forced to pay a penalty for doing so, in which case they no doubt would not outsource — that would take care of that.

It seems unconscionable to me with the unemployment rate so high and the worst recession in decades that we allow outsourcing to take place.

I found it particularly irritating the other day when I received a cell phone call while on the job (I’m a truck driver — don’t worry I’m hands free; I use blue tooth technology, for my phone that is) telling me that I was past due on my cable TV bill and that is why my service was shut off. First I had just sent off the astronomical payment (I thought on time) in the mail, and second of all I could not clearly understand the representative on the other end of the line. I asked him if he spoke English. He did not respond to that question. I asked him where he was calling from. Several times he did not answer that question. Finally he said he was calling from Mexico City. Millions of U.S. citizens out of work and our companies are hiring folks in Mexico.

I’m not concerned that my cable was shut off — I’m hardly home anyway and my dear late wife is not there to watch TV either. But if I was to need cable TV I’d like to boycott that outfit, but there is only one cable outfit in my area to choose from and I found Dish not to be so great either and besides I suppose they all outsource.

Maybe there is something I am missing in all of this, but I truly think it is unpatriotic, bordering on treasonous to outsource.

The enterprises that outsource jobs that should be going to U.S. citizens gain from the protections of the federal government, to include an armed forces whose members give their lives in the name of the defense of America (the efficacy of our war policies notwithstanding) and a court system that reliably stands behind big business the largest percentage of the time.

And none of us should complain if we had to pay a slightly higher cost for goods and services by hiring U.S. citizens. That is what it takes to promote and maintain a higher standard of living.

CORRECTION:

On my just previous post I referred readers to my transport blog and in that blog’s original version I inadvertently used the word vertically when I really meant truck trailers were slid horizontally onto train cars. That’s one of those mistakes that occurred to me as I was driving down the road and could not get to my computer. When I worked for newspapers those mistakes came to me in the middle of the night, and you can’t unprint a newspaper story.

See http://tonystransportblog.wordpress.com


Newspapers seem more on their way out than ever; with fewer freebies for news a new demand might be created

September 9, 2010

With the news that the publisher of the New York Times, Arthur Sulzberger, acknowledged that the newspaper of record for the United States will eventually go out of print and be completely replaced by the online edition it seems to me those of us who have loved reading actual paper newspapers have to accept that they are going the way of the horse and buggy.

(I just read about his comments in the Huffington Post, an online-only newspaper. Some cruel irony there, I guess.)

Add to this the recent news that the Oxford Standard Dictionary will no longer be put out in a book form, and add to this that, as I understand it, textbook sales are down because schools use computers a lot, and add to that the fact Amazon sells more e-books than regular books (I think I read that) and it seems that we may lose the medium of the physically printed word, although we still can read words on the computer screen or on other electronic devices that I am not acquainted with.

Along these same lines, I miss real letters. Of course I never write any. I recently heard that those born after 1990 consider e-mail a slow form of communication — they’re all into things like Facebook and Twitter (both of which I have never used). I sent my granddaughter an e-mail the other day and wondered why she had not answered it, but her mother tells me that she does not get around to all her e-mails as much anymore because she’s all into the social networking sites.

It seems as if the only future for real paper newspapers is on the local level, the community newspaper level, although I am not sure there is even much of a future there.

The citizens of the community of Bell in Los Angeles County found out they were being ripped off by their city government, with the city manager pulling down some $800,000 per year, and bloated pay going to other officials and city council members as well. They were also being illegally taxed. They only found this out through the reporting of the LA Times newspaper. I don’t know if Bell has its own community newspaper or not. But without traditional investigative newspaper type reporting scandals like this stay hidden. Some entity has to be willing to pay reporters for digging with no quick return on profits (although in the long run the value of such efforts can bring a news organization profit).

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As an aside, I should add that no offense to Bell, but to an outsider like me who only drives through and picks up freight there from time to time, it is an indistinguishable part of the LA concrete jungle that surrounds LA proper.

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My main concern is that there be a reliable medium for straight news that will have the resources and the concern by those who run it to gather and report news in a quality and timely manner. It has always been a problem on the local level for a variety of reasons. One is that local newspapers are often staffed by beginners or to be painfully honest by those who may not quite be up to snuff for the big time. And I do not mean to libel or slander those hard-working souls and what I just wrote is not always the case anyway. I once labored in the small time. I did my best. I did not really make much of an effort to make it into the big time — probably spent too much time trying to just get away from small time journalism into something else entirely. We all have our own life stories and needs and aspirations (and we all make mistakes).

Another problem is that small newspapers often do not have the revenue to support a dynamic news gathering and reporting effort. And that has become a problem for the larger newspapers as well, having lost ad revenue to other mediums, such as the internet. And then there is lack of interest. For some reason, local reporting in many places just does not draw the interest as it might have at one time. So many people live lives disconnected with the communities in which they live that there just is not the potential readership available.

But it is not just local reporting I am concerned about. I have written this before, but I say again, newspapers have been the foundation of the whole news gathering effort. They got much of their regional and national and international news from what at least used to be called news wire services. Reporters trained as newspapermen gathered news and it was shared with membership papers. In the case of the Associated Press (AP) member newspapers would share their own generated stories with each other. Broadcast news, radio and television, originally recruited its news reporters from the print world.

While television largely took the lead in reporting the news, with its advantage of immediacy and live pictures, what a lot of people outside the news business may not have realized is that TV (and radio) was getting a large portion of its material from the newspapers and wire services. I worked for a short time at a small radio station. We got the local newspaper each day so we could find out what the news was. We did do our own reporting, but we used the newspapers and its resources, limited as they were (I know, I used to work for it too) as the basis for our (several) daily local news reports.

The internet has come along with a whole host of sites, many of which are really news commentary but many of which are straight news. They call them news aggregators. They get their material from other news sources, including newspapers and wire services. I have always wondered what they will do when all the real news gathering mediums go out of business. I did read that some of these sites are now recruiting their own news gathering staffs — I guess this is the evolution of the news business.

There has always been a split in the news business between those dedicated to actually gathering and reporting news and those dedicated solely or at least more to simply making money by selling advertising, for, except in a limited fashion, no one has come up with a business model in which people will actually pay for news (newsstand or subscription prices only offset, but do not actually pay the costs or allow for profit). But with the New York Times hinting it may eventually abandon its print edition and with it in fact promising to put up a pay wall so there are fewer to no freebies on the internet, I could see a market or a created demand for news, maybe.


Even with freedom of the press, do we really need to give a crazy reverend a platform?

September 9, 2010

I’m not usually one to get down on the news media publishing or broadcasting things, especially since I believe in freedom of the press and since I also worked for many years as a journalist and besides news is news whether one likes it or not.

But I would not mind if some of the major news outlets played down the story of this nut case The Rev. Terry Jones of Gainesville, Florida who plans to burn copies of the Quran (Koran), the holy book of the religion of Islam. Should the crazy so-called preacher be given a platform?

In addition I am not sure but whether there are grounds for some type of law enforcement action or court injunction against him on perhaps such charges as inciting a riot, disturbing the peace or even civil rights violations, seeing as such action might be akin to the KKK conducting a cross burning. I’m not sure that a cross burning that is not on someone’s front lawn and is designed to terrorize particular victims is against the law, but everyone knows what the idea of such things are. And then of course there is also the fire safety issue concerning the planned Quran burning set for the anniversary of 9/11 on Saturday.

Another strange thing I have noticed is that this crazy reverend in the photos I have seen bears a striking resemblance to the late Buddy Ebsen of Beverly Hillbillies fame — my apologies to Mr. Ebsen’s memory.

I do not say that the story of all of this should not be reported. It is a legitimate story concerning the ongoing controversy over world-wide terrorism and its connection with Islam and whether it is really a part of Islam or just concerns actions taken by those hiding behind the shield of Islam. And certainly if a lot of people were to take part, it would be a major news story.

But for now it basically seems to be something about a weirdo who claims to be a man of God and who may in reality be using this as a publicity stunt because he and his church and other enterprises have money problems.

And I have to ask anyone who would do this, burn Qurans, what is the difference between burning one religion’s holy book and another’s. Should not Moslems (or Muslims) then burn the Holy Bible?

There is also the question of what this action does for the safety of military personnel and others. It is one more excuse for terrorists and their sympathizers to attack Americans, although they probably are not waiting for another excuse.

I am glad that so many people, religious leaders included, have condemned what one obviously demented man wants to do.

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ADD 1:

Since I posted the original version President Obama has spoken out against the planned Quran burning. Of course the crazies among  us will just say he’s a Muslim anyway (and for the record, as far as anyone of intelligence knows, unless he is a secret or closet Muslim, he is actually a professed Christian only).

——————-

The only good thing out of all of this may be that the rest of the world can both see that most Americans do not approve (I hope that is so) but at the same time we have so much freedom here that the man is safe to do it anyway (what I suggested notwithstanding).

ADD 2:

I guess you can’t unring a bell, so this hate monger of a reverend already got what he wanted — he is news, with even the president commenting upon his planned action. But news as pure entertainment has certainly cheapened news.


We might not have to work in the future, but who would give us the tokens?

September 7, 2010

Labor Day is over and it’s back to work — well actually I worked a few hours on Labor Day and I certainly worked the Labor Day weekend. But then again I’m an over-the-road truck driver, so that is not unusual — it comes with the territory.

But my comment on Labor Day is that there really is no future in labor.

I would advise any young person not yet in the work world or at least not stuck in anything yet to stay far away from the idea of classifying yourself as a “worker” or as a member of the societal group called “labor”.

As a worker you are valuable to your employer. Right up until the time it is found that you can be replaced by automation.

And really, few fields are immune. And in the future perhaps none will be.

I just read an article in a trade magazine for transportation company owners and management that in Italy they’re experimenting with driverless trucks. The article concludes it’s still about 20 years off.

And you probably read something several weeks ago about robot teachers in Japan.

We actually may fast be approaching a world in which there is little to no need for human labor.

I suppose there may always be a need for some type of craftsmanship and there may be a need for technicians to operate and maintain the machinery, but it seems there is going to be a lot less demand for workers in general.

The right wing political types always seem to be preaching something that sounds like they think everyone ought to be a self-sufficient entity, needing no help nor support from anyone or anything (government especially). In the world that seems to be forming around us they may have something there — I don’t know how this all works (pardon the expression) though.

Call me crazy, but I have actually enjoyed working, for the most part, although I did not like every job I ever had and certainly did not enjoy every work day.

Something that occurs to me is that even though we have and are expanding our technology that is making work as we have known it unnecessary, that does not mean we actually have to use it.

Also, I think I touched on this before, but if no one really needed to work, we would have to come up with a different economic system. Currently, with most people being workers (still), we have this system where we share limited resources by earning tokens (money) based on our work. These tokens allow us to get things we need, such as food and shelter, and luxuries beyond the basics. But if we did not work, who would give us the tokens?


Paying for something by saving money on something else has not been terribly effective as a governmental budgeting tool…

September 4, 2010

With good reason working people resent welfare freeloaders, but I doubt most people would begrudge people truly in need, if for no other reason than but for the grace of God go I (I use that phrase a lot, but it often seems to fit).

So Meg Whitman, former CEO of eBay, and Republican candidate for Governor of California, is saying on a political ad that her idea is to pay for public higher education by putting a limit on drawing welfare benefits.

That seems kind of simplistic and disingenuous to me.

I and most people would like to limit welfare benefits (unless we need them), and if it were that simple that’s what would be done.

If only we could simply cut out all of the waste in government we would have the money we need to do the necessary things — a lot of people can agree on that.

But I have an idea that in reality even if we did cut out all the waste there still would not be enough money to do all that is demanded by the voters.

I think Whitman is just using welfare as a whipping boy. It is kind of clever. She draws in the conservatives by attacking welfare and draws in the liberals and progressives by promising more for higher education. (In most cases “progressive”, I think, is a euphemism for liberal, although it may have other connotations, but let’s don’t get into that.)

A true leader would identify essential programs and demand that they be funded first. While no one can seem to agree on what these essential programs are, well that’s what leaders are for.

Once the essential programs are identified they should be funded in the budget.

All others should be up for a vote by the legislature to include a vote on how the extra funds will be raised, and as far as I know there is only one way, taxes.

Both conservatives and liberals are guilty of the devious practice of saying something will be funded by the money saved on something else.

It has not worked so far.

P.s.

What I have just written seems kind of conservative. Maybe that is what we need to get our economic house in order.

California Republican politician Tom Campbell in the past has proposed an across-the-board spending freeze on all state budget items — but even so-called conservatives don’t seem to go for that.

Many of those who call themselves conservatives don’t necessarily mind government spending (despite what they often claim). They just want to spend the dollars on different things than progressives and liberals.

Maybe we should go to the true libertarian form of government where government is bare bones, essentially an institution to keep records of who owns what.

Of course people would soon want more from government and everything would start all over again.

ADD 1:

You know in some societies government is not always the first entity looked to for help by the masses. In some the masses have traditionally depended upon the good will of the social elite for favors. But sometimes that breaks down and various factions, to include criminals, take things into their own hands, kind of like what is going on in Mexico right now.

CORRECTION:

In an earlier version of this post I referred to Tom McClintock when I meant Tom Campbell (and in this updated version I refer to Campbell, having heard him interviewed on radio some time ago).


Who we need is Barly Foxerina for U.S. Senator from California…

September 3, 2010

I listened to the hour-long debate between incumbent U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, a Democrat, and her Republican challenger, Carly Fiorina, on Wednesday night.

I would have liked to instantly blogged about it but my truck driving work made that impossible.

From what I have heard some objective observers scored it a draw or almost and some gave the advantage to Boxer.

My initial reaction was that they were both were well prepared (albeit with talking points which are often pointless but important because of a lack of time for real discussion) and that it was basically a tie. But those who would tend to support one over the other going in would not likely be swayed by either candidate.

So I guess it’s the independents who are up for grabs. But certainly anyone identifying with the tea baggers would not vote for ultra-liberal (and proud of it) Boxer.

I do think that the idea that Fiorina is kind of a member of the exclusive corporate/Wall Street set came out and the fact that she sees business as business and does not hesitate to throw workers to the wolves or ship their jobs overseas came out as well.

The idea that Boxer is a hard-charging Democrat ready to go to bat for the people over corporate interests (whether completely accurate or not) came out also.

Boxer probably might suffer from being in office too long (going for her fourth term in the Senate) and being in it at a time of ultra economic distress that many now openly call a depression, rather than recession. Ironically the calamity began after eight years of a president from the opposite party as Boxer — A Republican and the first MBA president at that (good old W).

Boxer, a diminutive woman, also has a reputation for being, shall we say feisty? She got a lot of flack for asking an Army general to call her “Senator” instead of “mam“. I really did not think that her request was off base, so to speak. The military is big on respect for higher ups (the civilian authority constitutionally holds sway over the military). I think she thought that he may have been trying to be condescending by calling her mam. That may not have been so and she was probably guilty of using poor judgment for pushing the matter, but really much ado about nothing. She’s a senator and proud of it.

Of course you already knew this, but Fiorina is best known for her controversial tenure as CEO of Hewlett-Packard and her multi-million-dollar severance package (but hey, they all do that).

I can’t vote for Fiorina because she is for continued and I suppose more offshore drilling along the California coast and elsewhere.

I also disagree with her stand that she would like to see Roe vs. Wade repealed.

In my mind Roe vs. Wade goes beyond a woman’s right to have an abortion. To me it says that when it comes to our bodies and our personal life there are some areas that the government should not intrude upon.

I can see some independent-minded voters swayed by the notion that Fiorina with her experience in the world of big business might better be able to inject some economic sense into government, treating governmental budgeting as a corporate balance sheet. But government is not business. It is not solely an exercise in cold mathematics and profit and loss statements. Government is not meant to make a profit.

From her words, Fiorina apparently believes cutting taxes solves everything. I suppose in theory it would free up more money for investment, i.e., more dollars changing hands and hopefully more jobs.

Boxer seems to think that the rich (however one decides who belongs to that group — Fiorina implied that Boxer is actually talking about a large part of the middle class) can pay higher taxes and that the government should continue to print dollars to inject into the economy (the photos of the 1930s German Hausfrau burning worthless uber-inflated marks to keep warm comes to mind).

What we need but are not offered is a combination of Fiorina’s hard-nosed business approach and Boxer’s human compassion, and I’m not talking George W’s phony “compassionate conservatism”, but something real in that regard. Who we in California need (and the rest of you) in the U.S. Senate is Barly Foxerina.

P.s.

If anyone has had experience with a Sony Vaio computer maybe you can tell me what makes the cursor jump all over the place. I know it is not just me because sometimes it happens and sometimes not.