Recent comments

  • May 26th - Tuesday   10 years 8 weeks ago

    It seems like every year there is a different flu "scare, " but because it seemed there was an "unusual" concentration in Mexico City--which has a metropolitan area population of 22 million--people north of the border are consternated, and these days anything with the letters "M-e-x" tends to cause consternation. It also should be noted that the few reported Swine Flu-related deaths in the U.S. have been attributed to other illness, but which the flu may have exacerbated. The boy in Texas suffered a heart defect, and a teacher who died had several chronic medical conditions.

    I was talking to someone whose brother is a doctor about the cost of medical care, and he pointed out that while use of, say, a CAT scan, may be relatively inexpensive, but you are not just paying for the use of the machine--you paying everyone from the receptionist, the maintenance worker, the nurses, the doctors, the $100-an-hour specialists. The actual use of the machine may cost only a few dollars, but most of the the rest of the $2 or $3,000 bill is paying for personel costs.

  • May 26th - Tuesday   10 years 8 weeks ago

    Thom,

    I’ve heard you use the example of Iroquois Confederacy, the fact that women selected their “male” leaders and Ben Franklin’s comment about 1000 years of peace as an argument for women in leadership.

    I’ve been hearing you mention these things for years, but I’ve never heard you offer to give up your vote or to try to convince other men to do so. I really question whether you’d want to live in a country where only women had the right to vote and only men had the right to hold office.

    As far as the Iroquois Confederacy goes, I question the accuracy of Ben Franklin’s claim that they had 1000 years of peace. Since they had no written language, their history and their historical calendar would have had to be oral. Both oral and written histories are subject to distortion and change.

    The advantage that written history has over oral history is that there’s an opportunity check later written histories against earlier written histories, because the earlier written histories are more likely to survive the death of their authors. Oral histories can change from generation to generation with the earlier versions more likely to be lost forever.

    I tend to look at the Iroquois Confederacy as being similar to the NATO. It provides for peace among member nations, but those agreements don’t apply in the same way to other nations. The individual member tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy often engaged in warfare against non-member tribes, and even formed alliances of member tribes against non-member tribes. If you don’t believe me, ask the Algonquians.

    And there’s the case of Tuscarora, who became the sixth member of the Iroquois Confederacy that joined as a non-voting member. How is that democratic?

    I think your comments are another case of you idolizing people who seem to comport with your views.

  • May 26th - Tuesday   10 years 8 weeks ago

    My anger burns hotter than a thousand white hot suns for the sins they committed in our name. We, the People, are better than these fear-filled plutocrats have inflicted. The blood of our blood has been spilt for hundreds of years in the name of Justice and they defaced all that we have readily given.

    We, the People, have been broken all belief by those who are supposed to be the guardians of the Commons and the protectors of our Constitution.

    The chicken-hawk bastards in the just prior Administration intentionally chose and willfully planned and executed TORTURE in your and mine and We, the People’s name. They violated everything every principle America stands for to forward a fascist plutocratic land grab and seared their mark on the face of our planet and in history in the blood of American troops and Iraqi citizens.

    The current Administration under the expert hand of that just right of the middle of the road centrist is fighting to avoid doing the righteous thing and deal with the situation in a JUST and LAWFUL manner. They do this on the dirt hollowed by the name of a man who commanded that no man be tortured and a goddess named for justice and inclusion of all.

    The great and good goddess Columbia wears a blindfold and carries scales and sword for all humans. It is time that she be allowed to do her job.

  • May 25th 2009 - Monday   10 years 8 weeks ago

    I just figured that out . . . ERF. . . .

  • May 26th - Tuesday   10 years 8 weeks ago

    To KMH and Quark

    I think it's important to make an attempt to understand why people feel the way they do and say what they say.

    In Mark's case, anyone who's read his comments for a period to time knows (or at least suspects) that he's Hispanic and feels anger at the way his people are treated. That doesn't make everything he says right, but you have to be aware of the ideas he's expressed on this blog to understand where he's coming from.

    I think his "whining women" comment is out of place, but I think it comes more from a feeling of anger over how Hispanics are treated than from a male anger toward women. Sometimes, our feelings in one area bleed over into other area.

    I also disagree with his view that conservative opposition to Sonia Sotomayor simply because she is Hispanic. I guarantee that if the Bush was still in office and nominated a far right conservative, most conservatives wouldn't complain. After all, they were supporters of Clarence Thomas and in fact, the right accused Democrats of being racist for opposing the nomination of Thomas.

  • May 26th - Tuesday   10 years 8 weeks ago

    Prop 8 ammendment versus revision issue and was not applied retroactively- weird, did the Supreme Court rule this way out of fear of being recalled? Well at least we can now take this to the Federal Supreme Court. How about a law where we do not allow you to wear yellow on Thursdays. How about bringing back slavery?

  • May 26th - Tuesday   10 years 8 weeks ago

    I would like Mark to know that much female "whining" comes from experience. I'm so tired of the "old white boys" (boys, emotionally) who created so many world-class messes without a second thought, guided only by their greed, testosterone and their "gut." As a parent, I often picture these people out in the "sandbox" having tantrums trying to outdo each other.

  • May 26th - Tuesday   10 years 8 weeks ago

    Thom,

    re: the Calif. Supreme Court upholding Prop 8

    I'm against Prop 8, but I think the 2 points you raised in your brief comment were inaccurate.

    The 2nd point you made was that they chose a good day to release the ruling, because it would be eclipsed by Obama's nomination of Sonia Sotomayor. The problem with that idea is that it was well known that the California Supreme Court was going to announce the decision today. I think I heard that they planned to announce the decision last week, but Governor Schwarzenegger asked them to hold the announcement until after last weeks elections. (I can't verify this story though.) On the other hand, I don't know if we knew exactly when Obama was going to announce his pick.

    Your first point was to point out the contradiction between ruling that it would now be illegal for same sex couples to marry in California, but that the 18,000 same sex couples that already married can remain so.

    I don't think that's a contradiction. In fact, it's very common for laws to "grandfather in" things that are outlawed in new laws. Think of a power plant that is allowed to remain in operation even though it violates regulations that will be applied to new power plants.

    I believe that the intent of Prop 8 was to prohibit future same sex marriage and nullify past same sex marriages. But apparently, California Supreme Court ruled that the existing marriages can remain valid.

    Let me reiterate that I am against the prohibition of same same marriage. But I think Thom's comments weren't accurate or applicable.

  • May 26th - Tuesday   10 years 8 weeks ago

    Thom,

    My husband, son and I have college degrees (my husband has 2), yet we all have jobs where we work with our hands to create or fix things. We have always gotten more satisfaction from this than anything else.

    There's an interesting article which talks about this phenomenon in Sunday's NYTimes Magazine. I think it really speaks to our country's need to get its manufacturing base back, for more reasons than just the obvious. I think it might give us a better society. Here are some excerpts from the piece:

    "The Case for Working With Your Hands"

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/24/magazine/24labor-t.html?_r=1&ref=magazine

    (Matthew B. Crawford lives in Richmond, Va. His book, “Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work,” from which this essay is adapted, will be published this week by Penguin Press.)

    By MATTHEW B. CRAWFORD
    Published: May 21, 2009

    "The television show “Deadliest Catch” depicts commercial crab fishermen in the Bering Sea. Another, “Dirty Jobs,” shows all kinds of grueling work; one episode featured a guy who inseminates turkeys for a living. The weird fascination of these shows must lie partly in the fact that such confrontations with material reality have become exotically unfamiliar. Many of us do work that feels more surreal than real. Working in an office, you often find it difficult to see any tangible result from your efforts. What exactly have you accomplished at the end of any given day? Where the chain of cause and effect is opaque and responsibility diffuse, the experience of individual agency can be elusive. “Dilbert,” “The Office” and similar portrayals of cubicle life attest to the dark absurdism with which many Americans have come to view their white-collar jobs.

    Is there a more “real” alternative (short of inseminating turkeys)?

    High-school shop-class programs were widely dismantled in the 1990s as educators prepared students to become “knowledge workers.” The imperative of the last 20 years to round up every warm body and send it to college, then to the cubicle, was tied to a vision of the future in which we somehow take leave of material reality and glide about in a pure information economy. This has not come to pass. To begin with, such work often feels more enervating than gliding. More fundamentally, now as ever, somebody has to actually do things: fix our cars, unclog our toilets, build our houses.

    When we praise people who do work that is straightforwardly useful, the praise often betrays an assumption that they had no other options. We idealize them as the salt of the earth and emphasize the sacrifice for others their work may entail. Such sacrifice does indeed occur — the hazards faced by a lineman restoring power during a storm come to mind. But what if such work answers as well to a basic human need of the one who does it? I take this to be the suggestion of Marge Piercy’s poem “To Be of Use,” which concludes with the lines “the pitcher longs for water to carry/and a person for work that is real.” Beneath our gratitude for the lineman may rest envy.

    This seems to be a moment when the useful arts have an especially compelling economic rationale. A car mechanics’ trade association reports that repair shops have seen their business jump significantly in the current recession: people aren’t buying new cars; they are fixing the ones they have. The current downturn is likely to pass eventually. But there are also systemic changes in the economy, arising from information technology, that have the surprising effect of making the manual trades — plumbing, electrical work, car repair — more attractive as careers. The Princeton economist Alan Blinder argues that the crucial distinction in the emerging labor market is not between those with more or less education, but between those whose services can be delivered over a wire and those who must do their work in person or on site. The latter will find their livelihoods more secure against outsourcing to distant countries. As Blinder puts it, “You can’t hammer a nail over the Internet.” Nor can the Indians fix your car. Because they are in India.

    If the goal is to earn a living, then, maybe it isn’t really true that 18-year-olds need to be imparted with a sense of panic about getting into college (though they certainly need to learn). Some people are hustled off to college, then to the cubicle, against their own inclinations and natural bents, when they would rather be learning to build things or fix things. One shop teacher suggested to me that “in schools, we create artificial learning environments for our children that they know to be contrived and undeserving of their full attention and engagement. Without the opportunity to learn through the hands, the world remains abstract and distant, and the passions for learning will not be engaged.”

    A gifted young person who chooses to become a mechanic rather than to accumulate academic credentials is viewed as eccentric, if not self-destructive. There is a pervasive anxiety among parents that there is only one track to success for their children. It runs through a series of gates controlled by prestigious institutions. Further, there is wide use of drugs to medicate boys, especially, against their natural tendency toward action, the better to “keep things on track.” I taught briefly in a public high school and would have loved to have set up a Ritalin fogger in my classroom. It is a rare person, male or female, who is naturally inclined to sit still for 17 years in school, and then indefinitely at work.

    The trades suffer from low prestige, and I believe this is based on a simple mistake. Because the work is dirty, many people assume it is also stupid. This is not my experience. I have a small business as a motorcycle mechanic in Richmond, Va., which I started in 2002. I work on Japanese and European motorcycles, mostly older bikes with some “vintage” cachet that makes people willing to spend money on them. I have found the satisfactions of the work to be very much bound up with the intellectual challenges it presents. And yet my decision to go into this line of work is a choice that seems to perplex many people.

    After finishing a Ph.D. in political philosophy at the University of Chicago in 2000, I managed to stay on with a one-year postdoctoral fellowship at the university’s Committee on Social Thought. The academic job market was utterly bleak. In a state of professional panic, I retreated to a makeshift workshop I set up in the basement of a Hyde Park apartment building, where I spent the winter tearing down an old Honda motorcycle and rebuilding it. The physicality of it, and the clear specificity of what the project required of me, was a balm. Stumped by a starter motor that seemed to check out in every way but wouldn’t work, I started asking around at Honda dealerships. Nobody had an answer; finally one service manager told me to call Fred Cousins of Triple O Service. “If anyone can help you, Fred can.”

    As it happened, in the spring I landed a job as executive director of a policy organization in Washington. This felt like a coup. But certain perversities became apparent as I settled into the job. It sometimes required me to reason backward, from desired conclusion to suitable premise. The organization had taken certain positions, and there were some facts it was more fond of than others. As its figurehead, I was making arguments I didn’t fully buy myself. Further, my boss seemed intent on retraining me according to a certain cognitive style — that of the corporate world, from which he had recently come. This style demanded that I project an image of rationality but not indulge too much in actual reasoning. As I sat in my K Street office, Fred’s life as an independent tradesman* gave me an image that I kept coming back to: someone who really knows what he is doing, losing himself in work that is genuinely useful and has a certain integrity to it. He also seemed to be having a lot of fun.

    Some diagnostic situations contain a lot of variables. Any given symptom may have several possible causes, and further, these causes may interact with one another and therefore be difficult to isolate. In deciding how to proceed, there often comes a point where you have to step back and get a larger gestalt. Have a cigarette and walk around the lift. The gap between theory and practice stretches out in front of you, and this is where it gets interesting. What you need now is the kind of judgment that arises only from experience; hunches rather than rules. For me, at least, there is more real thinking going on in the bike shop than there was in the think tank."

    *Fred owned his own motorcycle repair shop.

  • May 26th - Tuesday   10 years 8 weeks ago

    Re. your globalization argument, I basically agree. It has been terrible for the US workers and potentially dangerous in the long run for national security when we have such a dependence on imports (steel, oil, cars, etc.) But, I do have one big concern: what about when the big US industries collude and sell the American public poor products? The auto industry first comes to mind. Europeans and Japanese took over the market with better autos at a better price. As a long time music collector I also remember when the US music corporations fought tooth and nail to keep out European and Japanese companies who put together much, much better collections of American music. I worked in music retail and it was a shame how a handful of corporations tried to foist shoddy reissue LP's and CD's from our great American heritage of Blues, Jazz, Rock'n'roll, etc. onto an American public when the Japanese and Europeans reverentially reissued our own music with superior packaging, sound, etc. Music collectors were very glad for a true choice.

  • May 26th - Tuesday   10 years 8 weeks ago

    I want a printout of Alexander Hamilton's laws on trade that Thom described today. the actual text and then Thoms interpretation of them. It was really quite revealing of our current practices. If we can make the economic argument to the conservatives based on Hamilton's laws , one of our founders, they have to listen and agree. Don't they? I mean they are always going back to the founders intent........right?

  • May 26th - Tuesday   10 years 8 weeks ago

    Breaking news- Moments ago, the California Supreme Court ruled to uphold Prop. 8 — although the court said that the 18,000 couples who got married last year can remain married, no more same sex couples can get married under the current law. This is a sad and angry moment, but we cannot let it feel like defeat. We must use this as an opportunity to move forward in the fight for marriage equality for all Californians — a fight that we will take to every corner of this state.

  • May 26th - Tuesday   10 years 8 weeks ago

    Mark,

    With reference to 'whining women' What you really want is control and power and it makes you feel tough to be able to disrespect your Mother, yes?

  • May 26th - Tuesday   10 years 8 weeks ago

    slave labor and wall street....china is controlling both our political parties and have face companies lobbies writing our trade policy. china is the wall street k- street capital hill communist party! republicans at the forefront, we are nothing but expendable consumers and they do not care if we have a standard of living anymore that fits the cliche's we have forced to worship....

  • May 25th 2009 - Monday   10 years 8 weeks ago

    Hey Richard,

    Today is Tuesday and you're posting on the Monday page.

    But the attorney you're asking about is Alan Jablonski.

    His website is www.ajconsumerwatch.com/ and he has a book out"
    Successfully Navigating the Mortgage Maze"

  • May 26th - Tuesday   10 years 8 weeks ago

    Who do these people suppose will be buying all these cars in America, when nobody has jobs anymore?

  • May 26th - Tuesday   10 years 8 weeks ago

    If I had edited my prior comment properly, I would have said I see very little morality and ethics coming from the "women's choice" camp on the abortion. So there.

  • May 25th 2009 - Monday   10 years 8 weeks ago

    My anger burns hotter than a thousand white hot suns for the sins they committed in our name. We, the People, are better than these fear-filled plutocrats have inflicted. The blood of our blood has been spilt for hundreds of years in the name of Justice and they defaced all that we have readily given.

    We, the People, have been broken all belief by those who are supposed to be the guardians of the Commons and the protectors of our Constitution.

    The chicken-hawk bastards in the just prior Administration intentionally chose and willfully planned and executed TORTURE in your and mine and We, the People's name. They violated everything every principle America stands for to forward a fascist plutocratic land grab and seared their mark on the face of our planet and in history in the blood of American troops and Iraqi citizens.

    The current Administration under the expert hand of that just right of the middle of the road centrist is fighting to avoid doing the righteous thing and deal with the situation in a JUST and LAWFUL manner. They do this on the dirt hollowed by the name of a man who commanded that no man be tortured and a goddess named for justice and inclusion of all.

    The great and good goddess Columbia wears a blindfold and carries scales and sword for all humans. It is time that she be allowed to do her job.

  • May 26th - Tuesday   10 years 8 weeks ago

    I remember when there was concern and worry about voting for a Roman Catholic as president . This would be the 6th Catholic, if confirmed to sit on the court. Thomas was a convert after arriving on the court. He attended church with Scalia whom he admires so much that he is not required to even think for himself. I'm concerned that this could well be the tipping point for overturning Roe v Wade. I know that Sonia was divorced, but I'm not sure if she had that marriage annulled. Perhaps this no big deal since the Pope was a former member of the Hitler Youth. As an athiest, I would like to see a secular person on the court. It's a damn shame that to deny the BS of relgion would be political suicide.

  • May 26th - Tuesday   10 years 8 weeks ago

    First I'd like to say that these whining women who are calling need to take a long hard look in the mirror, and examine the blanket stereotypes and prejudices they harbor; to me, it sounds like misandry and feminist propaganda. Frankly, onthe abortion issue, I see very ethical or moral discussion coming from the "women's choice" camp--it's always about "me, myself and I." I'd also like to point out that these complaints against Obama's Supreme Court nominee has nothing to do with her being woman; if she a far-right activist, the "cons" would have no issue. What they do have an issue with, even if they don't express it out loud, is that she is Hispanic, period.

    I'd also like to mention that many on the left have accused Barack Obama of back-tracking on campaign promises, but in the case of closing Guantanamo, while initially the idea resonated with many Americans' sense of guilt, on reflection irrational fear has taken hold. I’ve spoken with otherwise left-leaning persons who don’t want the prison closed because they have this fear that these people will end-up on the streets their town. They even have this fear of the effect detainees might have on the general population of prisoners, although it is unlikely that they will be jailed among them. Meanwhile, the U.S. Sentate voted overwhelmingly against funding for closing Guantanamo, and Dick Cheney is continuing his campaign of fear and paranoia, trying to convince the gullible that the Bush administration placed a high priority on obtaining “truth”—such as from paid opportunistic Iraqi expatriates, and through torture.

  • May 26th - Tuesday   10 years 8 weeks ago

    What women really fear? FORCED PREGNANCY- it is already done in the meat industry- they chaining down of pig mothers and their piglets.

    I am very pleased with what I saw of President Obama's pick today. Also, did you hear President Obama say today that she was a Republican nominee?

  • May 26th - Tuesday   10 years 8 weeks ago

    May we be reminded that Democracy was borrowered from the Native Americans who appointed women to power because every deciscion made within a tribe whould have to benefit the 7th generation and beacuse women can reproduce, theey should have this power and influence...

  • May 25th 2009 - Monday   10 years 8 weeks ago

    Found it: Alan Jablonski of http://www.AJConsumerWatch.com/

    Can be contacted at alan@ajconsumerwatch.com or by phone at (562) 343-5383.

    Navigating the Mortgage Maze.

  • May 26th - Tuesday   10 years 8 weeks ago

    Oops - someone beat me to the first post. :-)

  • May 26th - Tuesday   10 years 8 weeks ago

    Sorry, folks, but the first post in here today is gonna be TOTALLY OFF-TOPIC with regard to anything Thom intends to discuss today.

    I read a fascinating and important book over the holiday weekend, Greg Mortenson's "Three Cups of Tea". It is about how a true American hero has been waging the "war on terror", since 1993, by building schools, mainly for girls, in the area that has been called "the most dangerous region on Earth for an American", the mountainous region along the borders between Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India.

    Do you all remember how, around this time of year over the past 8 years, we'd get a look, and share a laugh and a wink, over Dubya's alleged summer "reading" list? I would suggest that THIS book should be MANDATORY summer reading for President Obama, Secretaries Clinton and Gates and for YOUR Senators and Congressmembers (oh - and for you, too)!

    Below is a link to Amazon's info page for this amazing book. Get a copy for yourself, and forward the link to anyone who you think might be able to lend a hand with this struggle.

    Thank you.

    http://www.amazon.com/Three-Cups-Tea-Mission-Promote/dp/0143038257/ref=s...

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