I like this post from Jinx of I am only one... so much that I'm reproducing the whole thing here:
tackling the problems facing our world right now, there's plenty of
work to go around, and the efforts are not harmed by some
specialization. If I am talking about gender issues and you are
focussed on racial bias --- or if I am talking about education and you
are talking about environment --- we are not enemies. There are enough
of us to work on many fronts at once; there are enough fronts to keep
all of us busy. We can cooperate; we can each work on the issue that
most stirs our energy at the moment; we can still understand that we
are allies in making things better.
If we begin to fight each other over which is the single most
important problem, we are wasting energy that could be used to address
various problems. We are also helping those who don't want to
acknowledge the problems and don't want to see them solved.
Two very common arguments that serve the purpose of not solving problems are these:
(1) If the person trying to address the issue is a member of the
community (or nation) where the problem exists, the line is "How can
you be so disloyal as to attack and criticize your own people." If the
person trying to help is not from the same community/nation, the line
is "You are an outsider, you don't belong here, what business is it of
yours, why don't you go work on what's wrong in your own home."
(2) Regardless of whether the problem-solvers are local or not, the
line is "How can you even talk about [this problem] when you haven't
said anything about [some other problem]."
Variations of these two arguments show up repeatedly. They are
virtually always distractions from the attempt to solve the problem,
though often those who use them aren't consciously aware of that
intention. A good answer may be to describe the solution we're trying
to achieve and ask, "Can you agree that it would be better if we
achieved this change? if it would be better, why fight over who helps
to make it better? why say that some other unrelated problem has to be
solved before we can work on this one?"
Spending money you don't have, on things that you destroy when you use them, which often both cause expensive ongoing damage and which reduce the desire for others to subsequently do business with you sure sounds like a recipe for economic disaster.
"Hey, honey, let's buy ostrich eggs, watches and art glass on credit and lob them around the neighborhood with a trebuchet!"
Astonishingly, this is how the USA spends much of its money.
There are three broad aspects to our debt crisis. First, in the current
fiscal year (2008) we are spending insane amounts of money on "defense"
projects that bear no relationship to the national security of the
United States. Simultaneously, we are keeping the income tax burdens on
the richest segments of the American population at strikingly low
Second, we continue to believe that we can compensate for the
accelerating erosion of our manufacturing base and our loss of jobs to
foreign countries through massive military expenditures -- so-called
"military Keynesianism," which I discuss in detail in my book Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic.
By military Keynesianism, I mean the mistaken belief that public
policies focused on frequent wars, huge expenditures on weapons and
munitions, and large standing armies can indefinitely sustain a wealthy
capitalist economy. The opposite is actually true.
Third, in our devotion to militarism (despite our limited
resources), we are failing to invest in our social infrastructure and
other requirements for the long-term health of our country. These are
what economists call "opportunity costs," things not done because we
spent our money on something else. Our public education system has
deteriorated alarmingly. We have failed to provide health care to all
our citizens and neglected our responsibilities as the world's number
one polluter. Most important, we have lost our competitiveness as a
manufacturer for civilian needs -- an infinitely more efficient use of
scarce resources than arms manufacturing.
Read How To Sink America by Chalmers Johnson for more. Here are a few things that jumped out at me:
- "This brings U.S. spending for its military establishment during the
current fiscal year (2008), conservatively calculated, to at least $1.1
- "On November 7, 2007, the U.S. Treasury announced that the national debt
had breached $9 trillion for the first time ever. ... When George [W.] Bush became
president in January 2001, it stood at approximately $5.7 trillion."
- "'According to the U.S. Department of Defense, during the
four decades from 1947 through 1987 it used (in 1982 dollars) $7.62
trillion in capital resources. In 1985, the Department of Commerce
estimated the value of the nation's plant and equipment, and
infrastructure, at just over $7.29 trillion. In other words, the amount
spent over that period could have doubled the American capital stock or
modernized and replaced its existing stock.'
The fact that we did not modernize or replace our capital assets is one
of the main reasons why, by the turn of the twenty-first century, our
manufacturing base had all but evaporated."
- "'Today we are no longer the world's leading lending country. In fact we are now the world's biggest debtor country'"
Essential reading: Waving Goodbye To Hegemony 2008
I recall being interested in this article, Waving Goodbye To Hegemony, when it appeared in The New York Times Magazine on
January 27, 2008, but it being quite long, didn't read the whole thing at the time. I've done so now and have to recommend it as some of the most insightful thinking on world power shifts I've encountered in the past decade.
Author Parag Khanna provides - in a surprisingly small package for the density of detail and intelligence - a grand overview of the three current superpowers, the European Union, China, and the United States, and of the swing (nation) states of the "second world" whose ties to these three are going to shape the next century and beyond.
I hope this has been assigned as reading in colleges and high schools around the world as it provides an excellent new view which illustrates how very much the world has changed since the cold war and will continue to change, particularly in the next decade.
DC - Congressman Silvestre Reyes, D-TX, Chairman of the House Permanent
Select Committee on Intelligence, sent the following letter to
President George W. Bush today regarding the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act (FISA). The text of the letter is below:
President George W. Bush The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
Preamble to our Constitution states that one of our highest duties as
public officials is to "provide for the common defence." As an elected
Member of Congress, a senior Member of the House Armed Services
Committee, and Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on
Intelligence, I work everyday to ensure that our defense and
intelligence capabilities remain strong in the face of serious threats
to our national security.
Because I care so deeply about
protecting our country, I take strong offense to your suggestion in
recent days that the country will be vulnerable to terrorist attack
unless Congress immediately enacts legislation giving you broader
powers to conduct warrantless surveillance of Americans' communications
and provides legal immunity for telecommunications companies that
participated in the Administration's warrantless surveillance program.
the National Security Agency (NSA) has authority to conduct
surveillance in at least three different ways, all of which provide
strong capability to monitor the communications of possible terrorists.
NSA can use its authority under Executive Order 12333 to conduct
surveillance abroad of any known or suspected terrorist. There is no
requirement for a warrant. There is no requirement for probable cause.
Most of NSA's collection occurs under this authority.
NSA can use its authority under the Protect America Act, enacted last
August, to conduct surveillance here in the U.S of any foreign target.
This authority does not "expire" on Saturday, as you have stated. Under
the PAA, orders authorizing surveillance may last for one year - until
at least August 2008. These orders may cover every terrorist group
without limitation. If a new member of the group is identified, or if a
new phone number or email address is identified, the NSA may add it to
the existing orders, and surveillance can begin immediately. We will
not "go dark."
Third, in the remote possibility that a new
terrorist organization emerges that we have never previously
identified, the NSA could use existing authority under the Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to monitor those communications.
Since its establishment nearly 30 years ago, the FISA Court has
approved nearly every application for a warrant from the Department of
Justice. In an emergency, NSA or the Federal Bureau of Investigation
(FBI) may begin surveillance immediately, and a FISA Court order does
not have to be obtained for three days. The former head of FISA
operations for the Department of Justice has testified publicly that
emergency authorization may be granted in a matter of minutes.
you know, the 1978 FISA law, which has been modernized and updated
numerous times since 9/11, was instrumental in disrupting the terrorist
plot in Germany last summer. Those who say that FISA is outdated do not
understand the strength of this important tool.
If our nation is
left vulnerable in the coming months, it will not be because we don't
have enough domestic spying powers. It will be because your
Administration has not done enough to defeat terrorist organizations -
including al Qaeda -- that have gained strength since 9/11. We do not
have nearly enough linguists to translate the reams of information we
currently collect. We do not have enough intelligence officers who can
penetrate the hardest targets, such as al Qaeda. We have surged so many
intelligence resources into Iraq that we have taken our eye off the
ball in Afghanistan and Pakistan. As a result, you have allowed al
Qaeda to reconstitute itself on your watch.
You have also
suggested that Congress must grant retroactive immunity to
telecommunications companies. As someone who has been briefed on our
most sensitive intelligence programs, I can see no argument why the
future security of our country depends on whether past actions of
telecommunications companies are immunized.
The issue of telecom
liability should be carefully considered based on a full review of the
documents that your Administration withheld from Congress for eight
months. However, it is an insult to the intelligence of the American
people to say that we will be vulnerable unless we grant immunity for
actions that happened years ago.
Congress has not been sitting
on its hands. Last November, the House passed responsible legislation
to authorize the NSA to conduct surveillance of foreign terrorists and
to provide clarity and legal protection to our private sector partners
who assist in that surveillance.
The proper course is now to
conference the House bill with the Senate bill that was passed on
Tuesday. There are significant differences between these two bills and
a conference, in regular order, is the appropriate mechanism to resolve
the differences between these two bills. I urge you, Mr. President, to
put partisanship aside and allow Republicans in Congress to arrive at a
compromise that will protect America and protect our Constitution.
for one, do not intend to back down - not to the terrorists and not to
anyone, including a President, who wants Americans to cower in fear.
We are a strong nation. We cannot allow ourselves to be scared into
suspending the Constitution. If we do that, we might as well call the
terrorists and tell them that they have won.
Silvestre Reyes Member of Congress Chairman, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
So why does the real-life situation look so far from the 50-50
gender population distribution? And why are minorities also still
represented at far below their demographic numbers?
My thesis, developed over decades of observation, is this: in a
choice between a white male and any other, the "other" will be held to
much stricter limits of personal characteristics, qualifications, and
behavior. This is the Narrow Door.
The Narrow Door operates in two ways. First, the range of
"acceptable" behavior is narrowed, usually at both ends of a scale. For
example, a personal style which is seen positively in a white male as
strong and authoritative is likely to be seen negatively in a woman as
bossy and controlling. A man's "good support and coaching of staff" may
be seen in a woman as "coddling and micro-managing."
Second, the Narrow Door often means that negative charges against a
candidate --- especially if they fit previous stereotypes --- are
accepted as true with little examination or evidence.
The Narrow Door works outside conscious awareness. (Common usage
would be "subconsciously" but the term "outside conscious awareness"
emphasizes that we can become aware of the influence and mitigate it.)
But in highly competitive arenas such as national politics, some will
exploit Narrow Door assumptions to damage opponents.
A more politically-anchored piece by Robin Morgan - Goodbye To All That #2 - makes similar points but ties them to anti-Hillary Rodham Clinton sentiments.
Goodbye to the toxic viciousness . . .
Carl Bernstein's disgust at Hillary’s “thick ankles.” Nixon-trickster Roger Stone’s new Hillary-hating 527 group, “Citizens United Not Timid”
(check the capital letters). John McCain answering “How do we beat the
bitch?" with “Excellent question!” Would he have dared reply similarly
to “How do we beat the black bastard?” For shame.
Goodbye to the HRC nutcracker with metal spikes between splayed thighs. If it was a tap-dancing blackface doll, we would be righteouslyoutraged—and they would not be selling it in airports. Shame.
have to agree that the level of sexism in criticisms of her and her
campaign have been frequently revolting and the list which Robin Morgan
describes - of which the few above are just the beginning - make the
case strongly that Clinton is not being treated fairly in the media.
However, as much of a feminist as I am, I find myself
more personally inspired by Obama's movement. Would I be happy with
Hillary Rodham Clinton as president? Absolutely. Would I work hard for
her campaign if she won the nomination? Yes, definitely. People I like
and trust have worked intimately with her and her experience and skill
cannot be denied.
But would I support her over Barack Obama for the nomination? No.
Our choice of president must represent to the country and the world
that we reject the international policies of George W. Bush.
I don't think you should vote for Hillary because you're both women
or for Obama because you're both African-American. Vote for the
candidate that represents the world you want to live in and whose
policies will bring you closer to it.
To take Bill Clinton's famous sign about the economy, it's about the war, stupid.
I'm supporting Obama because peace matters more than what's in our pants or the color of our skin.
Or, put more succinctly:
Many thanks to Randall for permitting hotlinking and for the excellent comics!
Tuesday night after dinner Joe and I were going to go over to Momi Toby's cafe and do an hour or so of work to make our Wednesdays go better. Since it's just round the corner I was carrying my laptop in my hands rather than in my backpack. On the bottom step I wasn't paying close attention to my feet and slipped, twisting my ankle to the side sharply. Fortunately, I had my precious lovely 12" PowerBook in my hands and so without thinking, instead of putting my hand out to catch myself and probably breaking my wrist or something, I landed hard on the sidewalk on my ass. Let's just say it's good that baby's got back; big bruise, but no lasting harm.
What was clearly not okay was my ankle. I lay still and had Joe bring me a big ice pack immediately so my foot could chill down while I assessed my condition without trying to stand. Clearly gonna be a bruise on my butt, yep. Scraped the right ankle a little falling, but doesn't feel like any internal problem, okay. But that left ankle, not good. Big twist and I think there was a kind of a noise. On the bright side, a very cautious exploratory wiggle of the big toe hurts like hell on the top of the foot but doesn't make me scream.
So into a cab, off to the ER and back home a couple hours later with a splint & crutches. Lay in bed or sat on the couch with my foot raised up on an ottoman all day yesterday. In the evening crutched my way verrrry carefully down the stairs for door to door delivery to & from Absinthe for a simply lovely anniversary celebration: their first cocktail pairing dinner.
This morning a follow-up appointment with the doctor to learn, yes, a break, but it's more of a chip really and at this point I'm not going to damage it further provided I keep it elevated & let it heal for week. No going to work. My company doesn't generally allow telecommuting (*sigh*) and if I can't go to work I'm certainly not making the planned weekend trip to Vegas, so I'm suddenly and surprisingly faced with the next 5 days completely free except for the physical constraints.
We'll see how I do at actually catching up on my reading and online projects, but prepare yourselves for more than the usual amount of blogging.