Posts from — November 2009
Lying in bed last night, I got to thinking about the lack of progress under President Obama. Why is it so difficult, I wondered, to reform health care, create jobs, relieve poverty – especially among children – and improve education? What makes so many Americans fight so bitterly against programs that seem so desirable?
And then it hit me. It must be a matter of race.
I don’t have the resources or the expertise to prove it statistically, so the best I can do is repeat stuff I’ve read and heard and tell you what conclusions I’ve jumped to. You may not agree with me, but they didn’t agree with Gallileo, when he said a small cannon ball would fall at the same rate of speed as a big one, either.
I suspect that white Americans, by and large, are doing OK. Look at the health care figures: about 50 million uninsured in a nation of 300 million. Who make up that 50 million? Overwhelmingly, non-whites. Look at the unemployment figures: about 10 percent of the workforce, and again the rate is a lot higher among blacks and Hispanics than among whites. And the hungry? They’re about 50 million, too – probably the same 50 million (mostly non-white) who can’t afford, or can’t get, health insurance.
I don’t think much of American education. I wasn’t educated here, and I’m grateful that the little schooling I received wasn’t based on the American model. In Jamaica, the teachers drummed (often beat) information into our heads, but they didn’t mask knowledge with mumbo jumbo like the alchemists of old did in an effort to obscure their discoveries from the uninitiated. And that’s just what American “educators” seem to do – as I see it, anyway.
My views on American education are admittedly prejudiced. But I defy you to deny that the kids who have the most difficulty in American schools are usually African American or Hispanic. The white kids don’t seem to learn much either, but they usually manage to progress through the system and collect whatever pieces of paper they need to earn a living as adults.
In sum, white folks may not be living in clover, but they’re getting by – most of them anyway. And white folks make up about 75 percent of the American population. So it’s no wonder the president’s approval rate is slipping. While he enjoys 90 percent approval among African-Americans, his approval rating has slipped to 39 percent among whites. It’s not just the hard times that’s bugging white Americans; it’s the new president’s attempt to level the social and economic playing field.
White Americans, especially old white Americans, feel threatened. Some of the people I talk to, old white people, warn me that Obama is trying to take away my Medicare Advantage benefits so he can give poor black people health coverage. Surprisingly, they don’t usually mention the phony abortion issue. I guess that’s not what’s really bothering them. The pro-life schtick must be just an excuse politicians use for blocking health care reform. The real fear is that the haves are going to sacrifice some of their largess so the have-nots can live a little better.
And in America, nearly a century and a half after slavery was abolished, it’s the non-whites who still make up the bulk of the have-not population.
November 30, 2009 2 Comments
As Euripides is supposed to have said but didn’t, when the gods wish to destroy you they first make you crazy. If the ancient saying is right, the gods must be planning to destroy us all – or the vast majority of us anyway. Consider the evidence:
Man-made pollution is precipitating climate change that is about to wreak havoc on the face of the earth and the world’s leaders are bickering over band-aid “solutions” that appear to lack the support even they would need to get implemented.
The world’s financial system teeters on the brink of collapse – again. This time it’s because Dubai (photo at right) can’t pay its massive debt on time.
America is awash in red ink, health care reform has foundered, nearly 50 million Americans are hungry and uninsured, a voracious elite is hogging more and more of the country’s resources, wiping out the middle class and swelling the ranks of the jobless, and a few big institutions are making obscene profits while dozens of community banks go under.
Home foreclosures have hit a record high in the U.S. and experts estimate that next year will be even worse. As bankruptcies surge across the board, several U.S. states, including California, Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island and Wisconsin, are on the edge of economic disaster.
Homelessness is rising at an unprecedented rate in America, and families with children are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population. A recent government study predicts that half of all U.S. children will need food stamps at some time in their lives.
And what is the burning question of the day?
Did golf legend Tiger Woods have a fight with his wife over that nightclub hostess before driving into a fire hydrant (and tree) the other night?
I am not joking.
As AlterNet.com’s David DeGraw writes in a disconcerting review of the state of the nation, “American society is coming apart at the seams.” He sums up the situation this way:
You have a population of 50 million people who are in desperate need of money, they most likely have no health insurance and can’t afford to get health care or help of any kind. Part of this population probably also has loved ones who can’t get life sustaining medical treatments, or loved ones who have already died due to lack of costly medical treatment. The clock is ticking loud for these people and they are running out of options fast, and time delayed is time closer to death.
While the richest 1 percent have never had it so good, a significant percentage of the U.S. population now has firsthand experience in this. Millions upon millions of Americans are poor, broke, struggling, starving, desperate… and armed.
We are sitting on a powder keg!
Meanwhile, the U.S. President so many of us put our faith in seems to be deserting us. He is about to commit thousands more troops to a ruinous adventure in Afghanistan and has apparently bought the argument that what’s good for Wall Street is good for America. In an article for Truthout, Jeff Cohen predicts an alliance between President Obama and the Republicans. Cohen observes that:
As he (Obama) glides from retreats on civil liberties to health reform that appeases corporate interests to his Bush-like pledge this week to “finish the job” in Afghanistan, an Obama reliance on Congressional Republicans to fund his troop escalation could be the final straw in disorienting and demobilizing the progressive activists who elected him a year ago.
So as the U.S. – and the world – hurtle toward catastrophe, what hope is there for change? What comfort is there in reality? It’s no wonder so many of us are abandoning sanity to focus on the charivari presented in an increasingly tabloid media.
So tell me, what was it that made Tiger jump in his car at 2 a.m. and plow into that hydrant?
November 29, 2009 2 Comments
A neighbor came over to set me straight on global warming a few days ago. He had read about “Climategate,” and saw it as evidence that an international cabal is plotting to take over the world and enslave the masses. He believes that one of the tactics in this strategy is the crusade to stem global warming by controlling pollution, and he is convinced that the Copenhagen Treaty will destroy American sovereignty and establish “global carbon tax tyranny.”
Despite his earnest arguments and exhaustive research, I was not convinced, but I have to admit that “Climategate” has given the environmental movement a black eye. Here’s what happened.
Someone hacked into the servers at the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England and found e-mails and documents that show researchers apparently trying to “fix” the global warming debate.
Some e-mails show them conspiring to squelch dissent, and others show data apparently being manipulated to make the case for human involvement in global warming. As you might expect, this has sparked an explosion of “I-told-you-so” blogs by opponents of pollution control legislation.
So it was comforting to read an article on the subject by Eugene Robinson (photo at right) in Truthout today. To me, the Pulitzer Prize winning columnist is a calming voice of reason in a shrill world of “spin.” He is often a guest on Keith Olbermann’s MSNBC show, and he can be counted on to put things in perspective with refreshing common sense and gentle good humor.
In today’s article, the 54-year-old Washington Post columnist surveys the hysteria among “climate change deniers,” and concludes that the embarrassing emails don’t change the facts.
“The purloined e-mail correspondence published by skeptics last week – portraying some leading climate researchers as petty, vindictive and tremendously eager to make their data fit accepted theories – does not prove that global warming is a fraud,” he points out. “If I’m wrong, somebody ought to tell the polar ice caps that they’re free to stop melting.”
Robinson points out that:
The fact is that climate science is fiendishly hard because of the enormous number of variables that interact in ways no one fully understands. Scientists should welcome contrarian views from respected colleagues, not try to squelch them. They should admit what they don’t know.
It would be great if this were all a big misunderstanding. But we know carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, and we know the planet is hotter than it was a century ago. The skeptics might have convinced each other, but so far they haven’t gotten through to the vanishing polar ice.
I know that my neighbor – and the other skeptics who think global warming warnings are part of of a conspiracy to subjugate the unthinking masses – will not be convinced by Robinson’s low-key explanation. But I hope the world’s leaders will not be deflected from their efforts to control pollution just because a bunch of scientists proved to be embarrassingly unprofessional.
November 28, 2009 No Comments
Watching the garbage men hoist our two trash cans this morning and dump the past few days’ scraps and packaging into their truck, I wondered whether we humans will ever solve the problem of waste. Comparatively little of what Sandra and I buy goes into our stomachs or onto our backs (or into our pets’ stomachs). Most of it goes in the trash.
Everything is over-packaged. Layer after layer of plastic and paper must be peeled away to get at whatever is inside. And, of course, there’s the food we waste, too. It’s impossible to buy and cook food for just two people. Nothing is sold in small enough portions. That’s our excuse, anyway. What’s yours?
Very few people are like my longtime friend Marguerite, who lives in Port Antonio, Jamaica. She is the kind who recycles just about everything. Peels go in the compost, and trash that can’t be recycled is compacted. Very little is wasted in Marguerite’s household. But most of us are too lazy or too harried to follow that kind of regimen. In a world where millions starve, we dump tons of food each year.
A new study published by the nonprofit Public Library of Science shows that the amount of food Americans waste has risen by approximately 50 percent per capita in the past 35 years. Today Americans waste 40 percent of the country’s available food supply.
That equates to 1,400 calories of food per person every day – 150 trillion calories per year. On average people require 2,000 calories a day. So each American throws away almost enough food to feed an extra person.
A similar study in England and Wales found that people there are needlessly throwing away 3.6 million tons of food each year. The Waste & Resources Action Programme found that salad, fruit and bread were most commonly wasted and 60 percent of all dumped food was untouched.
I am sure you don’t need to be reminded of the global food crisis, which has become even more alarming since last year’s financial collapse (precipitated by Wall Street’s recklessness and greed). According to the World Food Program, 50 percent of Madagascar’s children “suffer retarded growth due to a chronically inadequate diet” (photo at right). And that’s just one example of the intolerable suffering a skewed economic system imposes on so much of the world’s population. While Americans waste 150 trillion calories a year, the UN reports that one billion people are going hungry worldwide.
In addition, at a time when water scarcity is becoming an increasingly worrying global problem, Americans waste a massive amount of water when they throw out food instead of eating it. The Library of Science researchers said that, “assuming agriculture utilizes about 70 percent of the freshwater supply, our calculations imply that more than one quarter of total freshwater use is accounted for by wasted food.”
And that’s not the only disastrous consequence of the western world’s profligate behavior. The Library of Science researchers point out that the rise in food waste is contributing to disastrous climate change. According to the study, food waste in America consumes approximately 300 million barrels of oil every year from the fossil fuels used in farming. In 2003 this was 4 percent of the nation’s total oil consumption. (The study does not incorporate greenhouse gases emissions due to land-use changes, such as deforestation, for growing the food that is ultimately wasted.)
Ironically, while waste balloons in the United States, hunger has also increased. With soaring unemployment, about 49 million Americans are going hungry, according to a recent government study. Meanwhile, the nation is afflicted by an obesity epidemic. Obviously, those who have enough, consume too much. And waste too much.
As we survey those Thanksgiving leftovers crowding the fridge today, this might be a good time to make a mental note to add a New Year’s resolution about cutting down on waste.
November 27, 2009 2 Comments
America’s leaders have spent countless hours wrangling over “health care reform” and have finally reached a stand-off in which the only likely beneficiary is the insurance industry. If, as seems likely, the Senate bill is defeated (without even getting to a vote), the industry will be able to celebrate a continuation of the status quo, with all of the existing abuses, obscene executive compensation and fat profits for stock market investors.
If the bill becomes law, the Democrats will pat themselves on the back and claim a “historic” victory. And the health care industry will moan about being unfairly regulated. But the truth would be the opposite: the legislation would be nothing but a huge handout to the industry with “reforms” that amount to little more than window dressing.
Take the high-profile issue of “pre-existing conditions.” The new legislation would stop private insurers from rejecting new clients with existing illnesses – diabetics like me, for example. Insurers now routinely refuse new customers with physical imperfections, even a few pounds of excess weight. Under the proposed law, they cannot continue this practice, but there is nothing to stop them from charging these new customers much higher rates than normal, so as a practical matter, the “reform” is pointless.
If the so-called “public option” survives, it would be so weak that only a small number of Americans would be eligible for it. If you are insured by your employer, for example, you would not be allowed to switch to the government plan. The government would end up insuring the least desirable customers, leaving the private companies with the most profitable customer base.
The way I see it, the “reforms” would boil down to this: All Americans, rich and poor, would have to buy health insurance, as all motorists now have to buy automobile insurance. Failure to comply with the law would be a crime, and would result in fines (and if you don’t pay the fine, imprisonment). Imagine, in a nation wracked by unemployment, where so many families are losing their homes, where millions are going hungry, everyone would be forced to find the money to buy health insurance at whatever price the private companies choose to charge – or, for the few who are eligible, pay even higher premiums to join the government plan.
For Americans who can’t afford the premiums – or, rather, who the government considers too poor to afford the premiums – there would be subsidies. In other words, tax money would be used to subsidize a huge new customer base for private insurance companies. The “reform” plan would also cut back Medicare Advantage in order to help fund the new subsidies, on the grounds that too much tax money goes to insurance providers under the Medicare Advantage program.
Consider the irony of this approach: private insurers get too much tax money through Medicare Advantage so under the “reformed” plan, the government would take some of that money and give it to – wait for it – private insurers.
I understand the bill also expands Medicaid, which is an excellent idea. But what is stopping lawmakers from expanding Medicaid without adding all those other provisions? Obviously, the right path to reform would be to expand Medicaid, so that none of the needy would be left behind, and expand Medicare to give all Americans under 65 the option of joining it.
Remember, Medicare is not free. Uncle Sam takes a chunk of my Social Security every month to pay for my benefits. So the younger folks joining Medicare would have to come up with premiums. Granted, some of them might not be able to find the money and the government would have to help them out. Still, that would be a lot cheaper than the convoluted “reform” plan now being considered.
November 26, 2009 3 Comments
Tomorrow, Americans are expected to reflect on the things they are thankful for – in addition to not being the turkey they’ll be carving up. And at least one American is thankful for not being the U.S. President. In an article in Salon.com today, columnist Joan Walsh writes:
I have a lot to give thanks for this Thanksgiving, but I find myself particularly grateful for one thing: I’m not President Obama. From Arianna Huffington on his left, warning that rising unemployment could be “Obama’s Katrina,” to the ever-crazier Glenn Beck on his right, threatening to desecrate the memory of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. with an anti-Obama March on Washington 37 years to the day after King’s triumphant convening: His critics are sparing no rhetorical excess in their rush to denounce the president.
She goes on to add her voice to the crescendo of discontent. She objects to sending more troops to Afghanistan. She wants another financial stimulus package, which she thinks will stem the tide of unemployment. And so on.
As one of those people Americans call “progressives,” I also have complaints about the Obama administration. Obama’s decision to continue the Bush bailout of financial institutions sticks in my craw, for example. His wishy-washy approach to health care reform is another sore point. And don’t get me started on the idiotic waste of money (and lives!) in Afghanistan and Iraq.
If I were President, I would…
But wait a minute. That might be the one thing I would want least in life. Not even Ben Bernanke’s printing presses could churn out enough money to make me take that job. Talk about being between a rock and a hard place!
In Jamaica, they have a saying that “one man’s rise is another man’s downfall.” And it is absolutely true in America. Whatever the government does to help one group is sure to upset – make that enrage – some other group. Reform health care to help the uninsured and you dash the get-rich-quick hopes of all those investors in health insurance companies, for example. Not to mention the millionaire executives and their minions who derive a living from the afflictions of their fellow citizens. Or the politicians whose campaign chests are swollen with contributions from the health care industry.
Bring home the troops and you take money – lots and lots of money – out of the pockets of the war profiteers, and you threaten the jobs of hundreds of thousands of “defense industry” employees.
Refuse to bail out Wall Street, and you ravage the pension plans and other investments of millions of people – not only in America but also in far-away places like Iceland. The repercussions would be felt around the world, adding to the misery of the starving millions. Bail out Wall Street and you fatten the pigs feeding at the financial trough, infuriating the helpless masses who are losing their homes and jobs.
Print money and distribute it with abandon and you dig a deep hole for succeeding generations (in addition to undermining the value of the dollar and diminishing the savings of thrifty Americans). Increase taxes and you hobble consumer spending and the entrepreneurial activity that would create jobs. I could go on and on, but I am sure you get the idea by now.
The bottom line is – as President – you’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. And as more groups get teed off, your approval rating sinks lower and lower…
But here’s one thing Americans can be thankful for: It’s Obama and Joe Biden who are steering the ship of state through this tempest, not George Bush and Dick Cheney – or John McCain and Sarah Palin.
On this Thanksgiving, I remain grateful Obama is in the White House. I’m thankful Dick Cheney is flapping his gums as a private citizen, not the most powerful man in the world. I believe in Obama’s intelligence and decency. Like a lot of liberals, I believe he shares “our” values; I’ve just never been entirely sure he has either the political courage or savvy it takes to act on them, quite yet.
Obama and his crew are obviously not perfect (who is?), but compare them with the possible alternatives and you will probably breathe a sigh of relief as you dig into that turkey tomorrow.
November 25, 2009 No Comments
Facing fierce pressure from conservatives, Republican Party leaders are trying to come up with a plan to ensure their candidates aren’t vulnerable to challenges from the right. This was apparently motivated by a recent special congressional election in upstate New York, in which the official Republican candidate was pushed out of the race by a “Tea Party” conservative.
In that election, the Republican leadership funded Dee Dee Scozzafava’s campaign, but party celebrities like Sarah Palin and Tim Pawlenty backed Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman. Mrs. Scozzafava in the end bowed out and endorsed the Democratic candidate, Bill Owens, who eventually won the race.
The Tea Party movement (photo at right), spearheaded by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, is mounting primary challenges to other Republican candidates whom they consider too “liberal.” And the Republican leadership is worried.
So worried that they’re proposing a “Reagan Litmus Test” for Republican candidates. The rule would require Republican candidates to share at least 80 percent of the party’s main tenets to be eligible for party funds. The idea is based on former President Ronald Reagan’s proposition that his 80 percent friend was not his 20 percent enemy.
Republican candidates would be required to support at least eight of the following objectives:
(1) Smaller government, smaller national debt, lower deficits and lower taxes, opposing bills like Obama’s “stimulus” bill;
(2) Market-based health care reform, opposing “Obama-style” government run healthcare;
(3) Market-based energy reforms, opposing cap and trade legislation;
(4) Workers’ right to a secret ballot, opposing card check membership drives;
(5) Legal immigration and assimilation into American society, opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants;
(6) Victory in Iraq and Afghanistan by supporting military-recommended troop surges;
(7) Containment of Iran and North Korea, particularly effective action to eliminate their nuclear weapons threat;
(8) Retention of the Defense of Marriage Act (outlawing same-sex marriage);
(9) “Protecting the lives of vulnerable persons” by opposing “health care rationing and denial of health care and government funding of abortion”; and
(10) The right to keep and bear arms. opposing government restrictions on gun ownership.
This proposal has evoked great merriment from “progressives” like MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, who point out that Romald Reagan would have failed six of the 10 “litmus tests.” Olbermann is greatly amused by the idea that the Republicans are trying to grow their party by purging members who do not share their ideology.
But I am on their side this time.
If the Democrats had made their candidates take a litmus test, they would not be in the mess they’re in now. Without such a test, the notion that the Democratic Party has a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate has turned out to be nonsense.
Obviously, at least three Democratic senators – Ben Nelson (at right), Mary Landrieu (below, far left) and Blanche Lincoln (below, left) – do not share the party’s position on health care reform. And, former Democrat Joe Lieberman, who was allowed to caucus with the Democrats, and to chair a Senate committee, without a commitment to the party’s platform, has turned out to be in the pocket of the health care industry and on the side of the Republicans.
To me, it is patently obvious that Democratic candidates should support the Democratic Party platform.
And I think it’s a great idea to have Republican candidates commit to supporting the “litmus test” positions. When voters see the letter R next to a candidate’s name, they would know what that candidate stands for. And I, for one, would cast my ballot for anyone opposing such a candidate.
My problem is that when I see the letter D next to a candidate’s name, I can’t be sure what I would be voting for. I would never in a million years have voted for anyone like Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu or Blanche Lincoln, for example. And I applaud the progressives who are raising funds to oppose these health care reform saboteurs in the primaries.
November 24, 2009 3 Comments
Sandra and I visited my sister Elizabeth and her husband Wendell at their winter home in New Port Richey, Florida, yesterday, and became involved in a heated discussion about the health care reform bill being debated in the Senate. Sandra and Elizabeth, who are both die-hard liberals, were in favor of the bill. My nephew Andrew and his wife Renee, who vote Republican, were opposed. As you might expect, it was a rather noisy conversation, but not very enlightening.
With the blizzard of information – and disinformation – coming from the media, “facts” are easy to come by. The problem is that the “facts” cited by one side are often different from those cited by the other. And I have to admit I can no longer separate fact from fiction.
My general impression is that the bill is a giveaway to the health insurance industry, forcing millions of people to buy private insurance without effectively controlling increases in premiums, but it will probably provide some coverage to Americans who can’t afford, or can’t get, insurance now. And it might put an end to some of the worst abuses that you’ve heard about – the “pre-existing condition” scams, for example. As for curbing health care costs, well, I’ll have to be convinced. When the Republicans insist the bill’s bottom line is $2.5 trillion and the Democrats cite a figure of about $850 billion, numerically challenged observers like me can only shake our heads and throw up our hands.
I am also pretty sure that, if the bill becomes law, I will lose some of the benefits I enjoy under Medicare Advantage, but if I don’t have to give up too much, I won’t complain. Those uninsured families need help more than I do.
One of the things that upset Renee was a recent recommendation by a government task force that such preventive procedures as mammograms are unnecessary for younger women. From what I gathered, Renee thinks the policy is included in the health care bill and indicates preventive health care procedures would be “rationed.”
I find the task force’s recommendations, especially at this critical time, extremely suspicious. They give the impression that health insurance reform would come at the price of “rationing” care. Although Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has rejected the recommendations, the harm has been done. As evidenced by Renee’s concern, the task force has succeeded in giving opponents of health care reform some potent ammunition.
I am confident the Obama Administration would never skimp on preventive procedures. Increasing preventive care is one of the President’s pet projects. But you would have a hard time convincing Renee of that.
So my suspicion is that members of the Preventive Services Task Force, appointed during the Bush presidency to serve four-year terms, might be deliberately trying to sabotage health care reform and embarrass the new President. Judging from the “dirty tricks” that have been in evidence during the long and acrimonious health care “debate,” I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the reason for such incendiary recommendations at this time.
November 23, 2009 1 Comment
I find the concept of Hell hard to accept – God is all-merciful, after all – but if there is such a place, I believe Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin will go there. Unless, of course, he repents and changes his arrogant ways.
The incredibly self-important Rhode Island prelate (photo at right) has banned Rep. Patrick Kennedy from receiving Holy Communion because of the congressman’s support for abortion rights. “The bishop instructed me not to take Communion and said that he has instructed the diocesan priests not to give me Communion,” Kennedy said in a newspaper interview on Friday.
Who does this bishop think he is?
Jesus did not give any individual or any religious group the right to determine who can share His blood and body. His decree was, as usual, simple and straightforward. Eat this bread, Jesus said at the Last Supper, in remembrance that my body was broken for thee. Drink this wine in remembrance that my blood was shed for thee. And be thankful.
In other words, when we get together to break bread and have a drink, we should remember the sacrifice He made to free us from eternal guilt. That’s what I think, anyway. And I don’t think He was referring to a special occasion. I think He meant us to picture Him hanging on the cross – for us! – every time we share a meal. But who am I to tell you what Jesus meant? It’s up to you to interpret His words for yourself.
And it’s certainly not up to some puffed up priest to get between Jesus and His flock. I understand there was a time when Christians were not allowed to read the word of God for themselves, that they were obliged to trust the interpretations of the Catholic Church. Those interpretations became so perverted, so corrupt that a monk named Martin Luther just couldn’t take it any more. And Protestantism was born.
Now we can read the Bible ourselves and determine for ourselves what path to follow if we hope for forgiveness in the after-life. And sometimes a word or two from an earnest, informed and humble pastor can help us find our way.
But banning politicians from Holy Communion because they support a right enshrined in the United States Constitution and affirmed by the nation’s Supreme Court?
I am not a lawyer but I think that kind of intrusion into the nation’s governance should be regarded as sedition because it violates the constitutional separation of church and state.
And from a moral point of view…
What nerve! What arrogance! What blasphemy!
November 22, 2009 2 Comments
When CNN showed Lou Dobbs the door recently, CNN President Jon Klein told him the all-news network wanted to pursue a more “middle-of-the-road” path. At least that’s what Dobbs told Jon Stewart in an interview on the Comedy Channel the other night. Stewart, naturally, had some fun with the concept. The audience had a good laugh, as did Stewart and Dobbs.
But the idea that there is a “middle of the road” is no laughing matter. Whose road? I lived in Canada for many years and I can tell you the political “road” in Canada is quite a distance to the “left” of the “road” in America. As far as I can determine, there is no political party in Canada that is to the “right” of any party in America – not even Bernie Sanders’ party, whatever it may be.
That is if my understanding of “left” and “right” is accurate. I find it hard to tell these days. Am I with the “extreme left” when I advocate the ouster of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner? Or the “extreme right”? According to the media, people of both persuasions are calling for his resignation. Naturally, in my view, I am “middle of the road.” And in your view you probably are, too.
I wonder at the innocence of those who think journalism can be “objective.” The first adjective you use expresses a bias of one kind or another. Is the person you’re writing about a “slender young woman”? Or a “thin girl”? To me, those two descriptions conjure up different images although – technically – they mean the same. And when was the last time you read anything devoid of adjectives?
The adjectives generally accepted in the political press leave me especially bewildered. The headline in the local newspaper this morning proclaimed that “moderate” Democrats hold the key to the health care debate in the Senate. Moderate. That’s the adjective the press uses to describe politicians like Nebraska’s Ben Nelson, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and – Heaven help us – Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.
If Lieberman (photo far right) is a moderate, Attila the Hun (picture at right) was a lefty. The former Democrat turned McCain fellow-traveler has extreme positions on a number of things, including the Iran situation. I would describe him as a Zionist but I don’t know for sure that he belongs to a Zionist organization. I just know that he seems always willing to protect Israel, even at America’s expense.
The press uses the word “moderate” in the most surprising contexts. Bart Stupak, the religious zealot who teamed with Republican Joe Pitts to introduce the anti-choice amendment to the House health care bill, is supposed to be “a moderate Democrat.” What’s “moderate” about the Stupak-Pitts amendment?
And what about the politicians who are digging in their heels to protect the interests of health care industry contributors to their campaigns? Are they “moderate” as in moderately corrupt?
I suppose there are “moderate” Republicans, as the press insists, but I can’t think of any in the current political arena. Nelson Rockefeller, if my memory can be trusted, was “moderate.” But who in today’s Republican Party leadership would you compare with Rockefeller?
Today, that Arizona looney who wanted to drop an atom bomb on the North Vietnamese – Barry Goldwater – would probably be a “moderate” Republican – or even a “moderate” Democrat, because (like Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter) he might be too “middle-of-the-road” for the modern Republican Party.
November 21, 2009 1 Comment