Friday, July 31, 2009

The Wizard of US

I have been doing what a lot of people do, researchers inform us, when times are tough; I have been escaping to fantasy. Yes, even watched again the Wizard of Oz.

Oh, and the entire Harry Potter DVD set to prepare myself for number six just released on the big screen.

I have avoided the health care debate and the beer summit, though I admit to watching William Shatner doing a dramatic reading of Sarah Palin's Farewell Alaska speech, later to be a major motion picture.

This morning I was lured into "hard news" with a time headline on MyYahoo! page informing me that Obama Drops Faster than Bush or Carter. To show you where my mind was I briefly wondered it he had been sky diving or mountain climbing. Seems we are talking polls. Mind you Obama is still over 50% approval reading. How far over depends upon who took the poll.

Both Obama and Carter began their presidencies with polling numbers in the 60's. Obama had a 60% approval rating after his inaugral speech. We thought he was the Wizard of Oz or Harry Potter. With a wave of his magic wand he was going to solve all our problems. And with a wave of his pen he did banish various executive orders which were unpopular.

Then he did not instantly close Gitmo. Nor slap Cheney in a cell there when he defended enhanced interragation techniques. He began the pull out in Iraq but did not silence Iran. He upped troup levels in Afganistan. And the Blue Dog Democrats have slowed his advance on the health care reform. The investment banks and firms are paying back TARP funds but people are still losing jobs, all be it slower than they were losing them before.

Shovel ready projects are being slowed by government red tape, and Fox News is making a lot of noise about "pork barrel" spending and putting our grandchildren in hock. We want him to banish all the naysayers like Potter dispensed of his dragon in Goblet of Fire. So some of us disappointed followers probably gave a negative response to the pollster calling. I know I said, mind still on the Potter movie I was watching, that I felt the economy was better but personally my finances still rather worried me. And no I could not see a time when I could reinvest in mutual funds. And yes, all my friends had withdrawn and spent theirs too.

No, Obama does not have a magic wand. If he did Rush Limbaugh would be in Never, Never Land. I think the Wizard in the Wizard of Oz holds our answer; it is within ourselves. We just need to believe in ourselves. We have looked too long for solutions from others. We need to argue for what we want and need. August recess is upon us. Talk to your Washington representatives.

As to Obama. We just need some patience. And turn off Fox News.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate

I have been following the news with only one ear as it were. My sister has been here and we have been enjoying what I term the real world for four days.

Two items on my brief tour of Internet news have caught my attention: the possible manslaughter charges against Michael Jackson's doctor (more about that on a later blog) and the Gates/Crowley/Obama issue. I believe the New York Times gave a very fair evaluation of this and I refer the reader to it.

What I wish to communicate is my experience of things getting out of hand recently. And I did not have CNN to fan the flames. I went ballistic on an electric utility coop meter reader when she chose to drive across my property rather than exit my neighbor's driveway and then enter mine to read the meters. I caught this "trespass" over very dry grasses as I was heading to the market. I "over-reacted" like Professor Gates. And the meter reader "over-reacted" like Officer Crowley. She followed me five miles into Angel Fire to continue the "debate" in the parking lot of the market. She tried to defend her actions under the utility coop's easement which was bogus because she was not driving along the easement line.

My over-reaction was based on a history of my neighbor's visitors believing they could cross the corner of my property rather than stay on the Oliver's driveway or "heaven forbid" have to reverse. I seriously doubt they teach reversing in driver's ed anymore. Her over-reaction was due to an uprising of homeowners yelling at her for their high utility bills. I totally rejected her defense of the easement line because it was bogus but also because I had already had a 45 minute "conversation" with a bull headed male chauvinist, reverse racist of an employee at the electric utility.

As a white female I routinely feel put down by Hispanic males. They all seem to think we are just dumb! He would not listen to reason or see the truth of my arguments and "lied" to me about billing periods. And I could prove that lie. So when an Hispanic female "lied" to be about the reason she took the easy way out and did not reverse I went ballistic.

This was in the middle of the day. Not at night when I was frustrated that I had locked myself out of my house. Or angry as hell that some neighbor had reported me as a thief. The President did not make and all too brief "out of context" statement about it. And it did not appear on CNN or ABC, etc. making a mountain out of a molehill. Clare and I eventually communicated enough to difuse the situation and I found out she was as pissed off by the Kit Carson Electric meter department head as I was.

I think Officer Crowley's suggestion of all parties meeting for a beer is a good one. And CNN and the other talking heads should just butt out.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

War on Cancer Working for Whom?

Now we are suppose to be checking for thyroid cancer! The 40 year war on cancer has been pushing us all into a greater and greater consciousness of how we could die.

Self-screening takes up more and more of our time. And medical procedures to screen for breast, colon, prostrate and thyroid cancer now take up more and more of our medical dollars. Some estimates say $700 billion is spent on medical costs for these early warning cancer screenings. And under most insurance policies we pay for those because yearly exams fall under the annual deductible. Which would be fine I suppose if they work.

But in a recent Times editorial by Natasha Singer doubt is expressed:

An upshot of the decades-long war on cancer is the popular belief that healthy people should regularly examine their bodies or undergo screening because early detection saves lives. But in fact, except for a few types of cancer, routine screening has not been proven to reduce the death toll from cancer for people without specific symptoms or risk factors — like a breast lump or a family history of cancer — and could even lead to harm, many experts on health say.

I can certainly feel that way about exams that are intrusive like pap smears and colon exams. Or exams that squeeze your tits in vises or subject you to continued and regular doses of radiation or microwaves. But I think what bothers me most about this push for awareness of cancer is that they have us thinking constantly about it. Most of my friends are avid readers of books that tout ridding yourself of poverty consciousness or failure mindset. And yet they are constantly talking about their latest cancer screening being negative.

I think cancer awareness programs have created a cancer consciousness which over-estimates our risk of cancer. These programs, I argue, work only for the medical profession. It helps them make their Lexus payments.

I do think most Americans need better body awareness that goes beyond your jeans fitting too tight. And if you sense there is something wrong or don't feel well then see a doctor. But if you feel fine live life to the fullest. Tomorrow you could be hit by a truck.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Weighing the Arguments

An interesting thing happens when you are away from the news for a while. And over three heavy news days with a lot of fast breaking stories it can be a bit overwhelming when you filling tune back in. Most of the talking heads don't spend a lot of time on what happened yesterday. You are suppose to be watching religiously.

My father, who was one of the 90 day wonder Air Force cadets during WWII said if you dropped a pencil you were 6 days behind by the time you picked it up. I felt a bit like that today.

Obama was out of the country and upsetting Kenya because he went to Ghana instead. North Korea's Kim is believed to be dying of cancer. The media obviously finally said goodbye to Michael Jackson but not to exploring his drug usage/abuse. And Congress wants a thorough investigation of former V-P Cheney and his secret ops with the CIA (doesn't that sound like a new dance step?). Thankfully the Internet offers many opportunities to delve into the back story. I frankly did not care about Kenya being miffed. I thought it was going to be a plus that Kim was soon not going to be an issue in N. Korea but some seem to think his son could be worse. Who cares how many drugs MJ took of if his dad is making an ass out of himself as per usual.

So that left me with the Cheney/CIA issue. I frankly was not surprised except that everyone seemed to be rather upset over something most of us theorized about on blogs eight years ago. What I found interesting was that the Republicans seem to think us Democrats make this stuff up to take the focus off of Obama's falling poll numbers (down a couple points) and failing agenda(nobody has rammed through health care yet). I think I asked this question during the campaign but it begs asking again: Does the GOP send out an e-mail every morning with the buzz phrases for the day? If they do they need some new writers.

You notice that the political pundits are all using the exact same words in the same cadence and inflection when you go through successive days of streaming video on a subject in a close timeframe. It has a sort of deju vu feel about it. They should have been investigating this when all the principals were still in office. So indict or drop it. This is boring.

Going through three or four days of back news you also realize what is missing: Nobody has figured out why Palin resigned. Does this mean nobody cares? I think so. And McCain has not rushed to the defense of his former running mate because nobody was attacking her. And GW has not rushed to the defense of his good bud, Dick. In fact has anyone seen the ex-president anywhere - even Kenya? Maybe he is there with Elvis and Michael.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Social Democracy?

I have been watching the opening episodes of the HBO docudrama John Adams. It won many awards and nominations among the Emmy 's and the Golden Globes. And they do seem well deserved. During parts I and II I was reminded that our founding fathers were making it up as they went along. The United States of America was a brave new experiment.

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, while holding forth for the concept that all men are created equal (sidestepping the female issue) did not feel most men were capable of governing themselves. What they ended up creating was no so much a democracy as a representative republic. But they built into the constitution the ability to change it.

Throughout history, as we learn more let's hope, other ways to let free men govern themselves have emerged. In the late 19th century an ideology of the political left and center-left emerged called Social Democracy. The concept of social democracy has changed throughout the decades since its inception. The fundamental difference between social democratic thought and other forms of socialism such as orthodox Marxism is the belief in the primacy of political action as opposed to the primacy of economic determinism. In short they would be rather opposed to a free-market economy, and for regulation developed in a democratic or representative manner to control man's more basic instincts for the good of the many.

Democratic socialists reject social democrats because they are seen as too capitalistic. GW Bush and his cronies tried pure capitalism or as close to it as we have gotten here. And the current economic situation is proof it does not work. Man likes to acquire money for the sheer joy of the bottom line on the balance sheet. All religious movements have cautioned against man's greed and pride. The USSR never got close to pure socialism but close enough to prove that does not work. The argument then could be made that some place in the middle - a balance between the wants of the one or few and the needs of the many needs to be achieved.

The founding fathers were right - most men are not capable of governing themselves without firm guidelines as to how to do so. And what goes for governments should be applied to corporations. Especially banks and investment firms. Capitalists cannot be permitted to run riot any more than the masses can be allowed to riot in the streets. Both extremes are anarchy. The question then becomes where to draw the line in the sand. I propose we do not know.

Like the first congress of the colonies we are venturing into largely uncharted waters because we are no longer dealing with just 13 small colonies but a huge nation involved in a world economy. But having proved what John Adams and Thomas Jefferson knew more than two centuries ago, that men cannot govern themselves, we must now form a set of laws or regulations within free enterprise can exist without destorying itself and the people. It may take a few tries to get this right but at least we now know what is wrong.