Tuesday, July 20, 2010

If we build it, will they come?

Distressing images of relief efforts still failing to provide hope in Haiti bring to mind that which could easily provide jobs, even elite ones, and a quick source of revenue for an underdeveloped resource in Haiti: its people.

Reading an article about Pierre Garcon of the Indianapolis Colts worrying about his family brought an obvious question to mind: How many world-class athletes must there be in Haiti who simply have been afforded the opportunity to develop and showcase their skills? Certainly, much has been made of the constant flow of Major Leaguers from its island neighbor, the Dominican Republic. Similarly, Jamaica has produced stunning track stars, why not Haiti?

If you build it, they will come!

Perhaps the Baseball should consider how rapidly baseball helped revive a war-ravaged Japan. The ability of MLB (and perhaps some colleges as well) to set up facilities rapidly, providing scouts and trainers should produce some needed good publicity for MLB while sprouting a farm system that would have long-range benefits as well. Why not a major league-style ballpark somewhere in the island’s interior built almost entirely by their unemployed and under-entertained?

Think of the jobs, the good will, and the re-integration of baseball that may result. And while this U.S. government-subsidized monopoly begins to understand its obligation to reach out, perhaps the NBA, NFL, and MLS may see the light as well. Give people some hope for the future and some jobs along the way. Provide as many athletes as is practical with educational visas and bilingual support, perhaps in some of the small towns and rural areas in the United States where they could bring their families with them, sponsored by local churches and civic organizations.

Such controlled immigration could dramatically re-vitalize the Haitian economy, providing immediate jobs and helping to build a future with the obscene amounts of money our subsidized sports institutions generate.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

El Rushbo, demagogue

While many see this guy as a harmless windbag, an entertainer whose teddy-bear charm endears him to little old conservative ladies who would vote Republican anyway, others see him as a pernicious influence on the body politic, a polarizing force who drives a wedge between members of his own party who moderately progressive ideas he should be considering, if not embracing.

Those of us who worry about him are concerned about his ability to misinform the masses, cynically manipulating the political process, elevating pseudo-science and half-truths into the realm of credibility, thereby painting himself as the sole teller of "truth" on the airwaves. This self-aggrandizement is made all the more dangerous by an American listening public which has been schooled in a largely socialistic public school environment where mediocrity is acceptable and intellectual curiosity discouraged.

The end result of his bloviations and intentional misstatements has been a Republican Party in disarray. The once proud, thoughtful GOP which had William F. Buckley as its intellectual guide and politicians of the caliber of Barry Goldwater, Everett Dirksen, and Gerald Ford has degenerated into a radicalized shell of principles it once eschewed: war-mongering, budget-busting, and authoritarian-praising.

That this cabal of radical, war-hawking former Democrats can take over the Republican Party's political apparatus, polarizing public opinion and destroying the ability to build a national consensus disturbs many who understand the value of strong countervailing in which neither held a monopoly on "truth."

Democracy can only survive if we have strong competition for the best ideas, a political atmosphere where consensus is sought; failing that, compromise is reached and the mechanism of government continues to serve. That entire principle was eroded first by the leadership of Newt Gingrich (with the reluctant acquiesence of Ronald Reagan), then Tom DeLay, his intellectual inferior who with Karl Rove sought a permanent majority of Right Wing ideologues, something that only fascist countries have ever glorified. The demolition of the Party was complete with the arrogant tactics exemplified by the derisive term RINO (Republican in Name Only) which forced the defection of moderates such as Arlen Specter, Jim Leach, Colin Powell, and Lincoln Chaffee.

To all of this, Rush has only gloated, professing "we don't need them!" To the contrary, the country needs them to anchor the political center, the swing voting bloc that decides elections. Pushing them away only ensures bitterness and the occasionally violent displays of hatred we're seeing now with increased regularity and within-party sanction.

This is likely the end Rush has in mind as he creates the "Liberal" hobgoblins only he can defend us against. The problem with this is that the circle of "Liberals" to one who espouses such intractable views is ever-increasing; his core admirers will probably remain faithful until they either die (yes, most of the most devout are in the elderly age cohorts) or he implodes (an incresingly likely possibility). At any rate, it's a cult of personality which has far less to do with democracy than it does in laying a blueprint for the very Communist takeover he rails against.

“I am more and more convinced that man is a dangerous creature; and that power, whether vested in many or a few, is ever grasping, and like the grave cries ‘Give, give!’” - Abigail Adams, letter to her husband, 1775

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Dumbing down to the LCD

“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” – Ray Douglas Bradbury (b. 1920), American writer of science fiction

We’re rapidly achieving this goal in American education as we increasingly hand over the reins of education to the least well educated among us, then reduce expectations to the pacification required of a teenage babysitter. As long as we’re not bothered by the brats we’ve sired, whoever is handling them is doing a good enough job.

What happens, then, when these coddled and drug-addled miscreants finally attain chronological adulthood? Will they be so willing to reward our non-interference with lavish Social Security and Medicare benefits as we have our elders? Will we finally get what we deserve?

Stuck on the Corner (Prelude to a Heart Attack)

by Todd Snider (From “Peace Queer”)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Why we can't handle the "truth"

Item: New Obama Order on Transparency, FOIA requests

Can President Obama be expected to keep his promise to facilitate transparency in government?

"Transparency" in politics is truly a joke, one which I wish President Obama would not propagate. While progress toward transparency is admirable and necessary, particularly when one considers the blatant stonewalling that was so much a part of the previous administration, the idea that we can actually get there is laughable and perhaps not always desirable.

Fact is, if a group of politicians sits in a room together knowing everyone is watching, nothing can get done; too much posturing and pandering is inevitable. This has been verified by research. The more dogmatic the position, the less likely that progress toward an equitable resolution occurs.

The only way things get done is through deals that involved compromise. That's where "morality" gets fuzzy and invites corruption. People don't want the truth unless it favors their agendas. Since no two people have the exact same agenda, there must always be compromise if anything is to get done ion a democracy. It's easy to see how a politician then learns to lie to protect this truth; it's the only possible way to get elected. The degree to which they are willing to “lie” for the greater good determines their altruism (though they’d prefer the euphemism, “prevaricate”).
We fail ourselves by electing politicians only on the basis of what they can do for us. Parochial interests necessarily conflict with the good of society as a whole. It's not until we consider what's good for the country that we can get rid of the pork-barreling, pandering, hypocrites we have now in politics.

All politics is ultimately local, and there's the rub. Our vote for the President doesn't even count, yet we attribute everything right or wrong about this country to Obama. That detracts from the necessity of our personal involvement on local levels, going to school board meetings, city council meetings, finding out exactly what the people who work for us are doing to the best of our ability. It's so much easier to abstractly comment on some vague issue we have no control over whatsoever.

“Finding the occasional straw of truth awash in a great ocean of confusion and bamboozle requires intelligence, vigilance, dedication and courage. But if we don't practice these tough habits of thought, we cannot hope to solve the truly serious problems that face us - and we risk becoming a nation of suckers, up for grabs by the next charlatan who comes along.” - Carl Sagan, The Fine Art of Baloney Detection

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Back to your Baracks!

News item on the Yahoo home page 2:29 a.m., June 30, 2009:

"AP - Honduras' ousted president said he will return to his country in two days and reclaim control from coup leaders, urging soldiers to go back to their baracks and stop cracking down on thousands of his supporters who have protested his overthrow."

Was that a freudian slip? Do the Honduran soldiers each have their own personal Barack or must they share him with others?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Politcs + Power = Predictable result

It's said that we get what we pay for. With politicians, that certainly seems to be the case. Pseudo-religion and political chicanery have produced a batch of legislators who grasp for our wallets all the while professing noble intent. Believing that sexual misconduct wouldn't be involved within this atmosphere of power and greed requires tremendous naivete.

The recent spate of those who've dallied with women not their wives remind us of the importance not of faithfulness, but why so many insist that monogamy is some sort of virtue that the rest of us should aspire to.

Sociobiologists have long questioned whether some men are simply programmed for dalliance, whether the genetically implanted need to further improve the species though diversity of mating trumps the religiously enforced rule to remain faithful. That the futility of such sexual repression makes a liar out of so many, brings the very rule into question: Is it realistic to require marriages to remain forever exclusive?

Dan Umanoff, a doctor whose prolific postings about addictions are so often at odds with the medical community's treatment of the subject, postulates that some evolutionary need is being fulfilled here, that without these perjoratively labeled "addicts", mankind would be hopelessly stuck in a reactionary, conservative past of the nature religion reinforces. Umanoff coins the term "hypoism" to collect all whose addictions, may include drug abuse, sexual promiscuity, gambling, business workaholicism, OCB, or simply ADD, under a roof of excess, suggesting that the allele labeled the "hunter" gene is also found in so many whose contributions to society we so much admire, yet with personal lives so prone to tragedy.

Micahel Jackson is certainly among those whose eccentricities has evolved music beyond those he once emulated, but whose personal peccadilloes left him the subject of an endless barrage of bad jokes. Whether we can have one without the other seems to be the unanswerable question; can someone whose gone through extraordinary lengths to build a career through personal obsession suddenly relinquish that quest once the "goal" has been attained? How long can Michael Phelps stay out of the water before he turns into just another fast swimmer?

Many atrocities have been committed in efforts to keep the hypotic "hungry", therefore retaining the desire to achieve even through artificial means. Saltieri's deceit of Mozart gave us some of the best music this world has ever seen, yet likely contributed to his early demise.

Today, we have a couple of million inmates in American prisons, some guilty of no more than adherence to their biological urges, yet we construct complex systems whereby these hypoism victims can be judged and set aside from society despite increasing evidence that such behavior can be re-directed constructively. But then, perhaps those in a position to extend forgiveness and progressive treatment have a vested interest in status quo, in bringing everyone down to their level instead of up to the levels of society's mavericks.

We're not paying our politicians enough to promote progress, and we clamor for non-reform. Every neoconservative position taken, every fanatically religious position adopted, every anti-evolutionary position voiced, is yet another impediment from the duplicitous exhortation for us to be what we want to be.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Our friends, the Zionists?

When the United Nations agreement to wedge the terroristic Jewish state in Palestine received our backing (in an apparent betrayal to our oil buddies, the Saudis, to whom we had pledged our unwavering support) all watchers knew there would be trouble. Most figured the hostile surrounding Arabs would simply wipe them off the map, but their survival first amazed, then worried onlookers. Would Israel project the harsh treatment many had received at the hands of the Nazis onto their newly-subjugated Palestinian neighbors?

Certainly a case can be made that gestapo-like tactics have kept the Palestinians down, economically and politically. It's a mixed back certainly worthy of much more scrutiny than most Americans--whose tax dollars flow their at a rate of over $3 billion per year--are willing to give it. Our affluenza has made us more than willing to stave off our enemies by proxy, some religious nuts even prophesizing Armageddon using modern day Jews as a tool to bring it about.

President Obama's recent unequivocal speech makes their present denial of an Arab state untenable. The United Nations created this state; it should be their responsibility, not just ours, to ensure that the indigenous population of that area is not systematically oppressed.

More than a thousand words

A Palestinian boy reacts as youths frighten him by pointing their toy guns at him in an alley in the West Bank refugee camp of Al-Amari in Ramallah. AP photo by Muhammed Muheisen

Obvious comment to be made after reading this:

"Let your kid text during dinner! Let your kid text during school! It pays off," 15-year-old Kate Moore said Tuesday after winning the LG U.S. National Texting Championship.

After all, she said: "Your kid could win money and publicity and a phone."

For the Des Moines, Iowa, teenager, her 14,000 texts-per-month habit reaped its own rewards, landing her the competition prize of $50,000 just eight months after she got her first cell phone.
Will that $50,ooo be enough to cover her phone bills thus far as she "practiced" for the competition?