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Archive for the ‘History’ Category


Dick Cheney


I am having trouble concentrating today because my attention has been redrawn to the first year of the previous Presidential Administration.

I start thinking about these matters and become so enraged I have to get onto other matters. Of course I go to Donal’s post that discusses Wisconsin gun laws and I am again in touch with this rage.

Ron Suskind  and Paul O’Neill (former Secretary of the Treasury) wrote a book that was published in January of 2004; The Price of Loyalty.

I had recalled the fact that Congress and the President were working together in late 2001 to get our troops into Afghanistan to track down the lousy bastards who planned the attack upon our country nine years ago.

I recall the propaganda campaign to get us all to hate the Taliban which had ties of some sort to a bunch of Saudis calling themselves al Qaeda. They must have played that 30 second tape depicting a Taliban law enforcement officer caning ladies on the dirt street of some small village.

And I recall the push to change course and get Americans fired up to invade Iraq. I recall thinking: What in the hell does Iraq have to do with all this?

I had recalled a sudden effort of the Cheney/Bush Administration to link Saddam to WMD’s, to al Qaeda, to atom bombs and to French Fries.

Before I knew it Captain America is dropped onto an aircraft carrier (some ten miles off our California shore) declaring that the United States was safe once again.

There were so few voices in opposition to this nonsense at the time. At least until MSNBC hired Keith O.


The creeping ignorance of society

I have been trying to understand how people can be intelligent and accomplished in their areas of expertise and yet be so ignorant in everything else.  I have come up with at lease some clues to this particular phenomenon. (more…)

Forward into the Past !

I am sure there are a few people here, well at least one or two,  that remember all those predictions that were made in the 1950s and 1960s about how our lives would be improved by technology, computers and automation. How all this new and advanced technology would free us from the drudgery of everyday life, make our jobs less tedious and give us more free time to pursue more intellectual endeavors such as science and philosophy and arts.  They would appear in various magazines such as Popular Science,  Scientific American and even Readers Digest.

I remember watching programs and TV that showed how this might happen. Disney I think was one. All futuristic and Utopian.  And wrong of course.

Oh sure we got the advances and in spades I would say but the other stuff…not so much.

We advanced technology wise but our attitudes and beliefs have not really advanced so much.
We came from the middle ages with serfdoms and feudal kingdoms and class structure.  We got rid of the kingdoms and kings and queens for the most part but still hang on to the serfdoms. Society it seems is simply not ready for Utopia or the future predictions that have been made. Not only are our current feudal aristocrats unwilling to let go of this system, but more than a few serfs as well.

We may call it different names but we are still clinging to our feudal past with a death’s grip.

Don’t Cry For Me Argentina

I found this particular piece on the rich or rather the Nouveau Riche to be rather interesting. The author did a follow up here.  The first one is a letter or email from some upper class family that makes in excess of 250 grand a year and how they don’t feel rich and should not have to pay the taxes that they do. (more…)

President Carter

I was reminded tonight of how much he disappointed me, and how honored I was to vote for Senator Kennedy in the 1980 New York Democratic presidential primary. Those who think their current circumstance is the same as mine and so many others in 1980 are out of their mind, but it will take me a few days and maybe a week to explain that and specifically what he said tonight that reminded me of what a twerp he was and continues to be.

I hate calling the former President of the United States a twerp, but I have called President Bush an idiot and President Clinton a Republican, so the rubicon has been crossed.

plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. maybe.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say if you’re reading this, you have read at least one book that changed the way you looked at the world.  In essence, it changed the world.  There was some point, maybe halfway through, or at the end, or maybe even in the first paragraph, when you realized the place you were when you picked up the book was not the place you found yourself in as you laid it down.

Or maybe it was a film with subtitles seen on lazy Saturday afternoon.  Or maybe it was one intoxicating night in a strange land hanging out drinking with a few people who had been strangers on a train a few hours before.

In the room the women come and go

Talking of Michelangelo.

One of those moments for me was as a young lad was coming across James Burke’s PBS series The Day The Universe Changed which was about, well, that moment when culturally, collectively, we had some of the moments when the world when, well, the universe changed.

And with all the focus these days on Congress, the White House, and the beltway-wall street complex being corrupt and inept, I think we do need to put some focus on the people.  And right now, I would say, that the nation of United States, as fragmented as it is, need to have its universe change.  Until it does, we can’t expect much more than more of the same.  Keeping in mind what Ellen Glasgow said: All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward.

Here is Burke in the first part of the series



If the ten days which have just ended had a message for this Jew, it was in the Hebrew word Hineni: “here I am.” This space will not dwell on the spiritual meaning of the word or its significance in a religious sense. This is not the place for such essays. Here is such a place, if you are interested, and, indeed, it is that sermon (including some comments with which I do not agree and not simply the ones about a horrible baseball game from 1978) is one of the reasons the word has particular resonance at this moment.

In the world of the less mystical, though, hineni means that punditry and hand wringing aside, we remain dedicated to the causes that have brought us together here and elsewhere, that elected Franklin Roosevelt to alter government’s mission in 1932, that elected Harry Truman to tell Republicans that the immediate postwar period was not a time to turn back, but to move forward into the greatest period of prosperity the nation has ever known, that elected Presidents Kennedy and Johnson to carry that mission to its next logical place, and, finally to elect President Obama to restore our country as the place of hope and dreams and progress and the example to the world of what can be done when people work together.

Over the past weeks, the President has (belatedly, yes) made that point as forcefully and as clearly as it can ever be made, and his comments this week were the most direct we have heard in a long time.


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