Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Dream and the Nightmare

I was reading a book about Karl Rove and GW Bush called Bush Brain. I read that one book they passed out copies of was titled, "The Dream and the Nightmare" by Myron Magnet. I was curious to know what it said so I bought and read a copy of this one book that our President and Karl Rove found important enough to share with others.

In a nutshell, according to this author, the 60’s was the era of liberal philosophies in public policy run amuck. LBJ’s War on Poverty that was meant to help the needy actually enslaved the poor by making them dependent on government handouts. It took away their incentive to better themselves and encouraged them to become welfare mothers instead which perpetuated their plight to future generations. The mental institutions were emptied out in an effort to liberate those patients who had been institutionalized because their ideas were not the “norm” and bucked societal conventions. Many of these patients could live normal lives if given a counseling and supportive assistance. When the funds were not there to deliver the promise, the mentally ill were abandoned.

According to Myron, many of the problems we see today are the result of misguided liberal policies that had unintended consequences which is where the title of the book, “The Dream and the Nightmare” originates. In this book, Myron argues that the homeless were mentally ill patients that were once institutionalized. Maybe the conditions were harsh, but it was better for them than living under a bridge, he contends.

I think of this book when I see the homeless lady that lives on the bus stops near my home. She no doubt is mentally ill. I wonder, if she is better off living on the street than she would be if she had been locked up in one of those inhumane institutions that closed down years ago? Whose responsibility is she anyway? Is society better served by allowing the mentally ill to go free and live as they please?

There are so many worthy causes that try to get a piece of the public purse. Our national debt, as of Nov. 26 stands at 8.1 trillion dollars. That equals $27,000 per person. The Baby Boomers are starting to retire. This will increase the amount of money that's needed just to pay for Social Security and Medicare. What amazes me is that no one seems to worry about how many IOU’s we are putting into our USA Government Piggy Bank.

I see this homeless woman living on the side of the road, surrounded by the garbage she uses to keep herself warm at night. I’m thankful that I’m not in her shoes and wish there was something I could do for her, but I'm afraid to go near her. The government has overextended itself. The Republican leaders believe that if they give money to wealthy citizens it will trickle down to everyone else because they will start new business opportunities with the revenue and generate jobs. Boutiques and Service professionals that cater to the wealthier population are cropping up all over the place.

Those who have money are doing fine. Those without are trying to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Others are living on bus stops and under bridges and in homeless shelters across USA. The cars drive by and we seldom even notice her. I wonder which conservative tax cut will trickle down and touch her?

Let Someone Else Take Care of It

We found a stray kitten a couple of weeks ago. Every morning, when I took my two adopted Labbies out in the morning to do their business; this little kitten would come out of the bushes and meow at me. She wouldn't run from the dogs and would make her way over to me and look up at me with hungry eyes. After a week, I gave in and started to leave some food for her outside. The neighbor had briefly taken her inside and considered adopting her, but had a change of heart and so she was in need of a home.

My cat is a psycho-cat, and if any other cat comes near the house, he will start spraying everything inside, so adopting this stray kitten is out of the question. We called “Pet Rescue by Judy” to see if she would take the kitten. Judy said she had 200 cats that needed a home and we would need to foster the kitten. So we took the kitten to the vet, had her neutered, checked for worms and feline aides and then given her all her shots.

It has been a week now since this stray cat has been in our home and sure enough, our other cat started spraying everything in sight. Stray Kitty has to go. So I made 150 fliers and headed to the mall to see if I could convince somebody to adopt this little kitten. The Oviedo Mall security guard ran me off, so I headed to Target. After 30 minutes of one rejection after rejection, I gave up, went inside, bought and Starbucks Chai-tea and headed home.

I took my flyers and started going door to door, leaving them on the neighbor’s mail boxes or talking to any neighbor that happened to be out. It went something like this, “Hi, we found a stray kitten. Did you happen to lose a kitten? Would you be interested in adopting a kitten? How about a family member? Aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, mom, dad, do you know anybody who might be interested? Thank you anyway. Have a nice day.”

I’m finding it harder to find a home for this kitten than I thought it would be. Has the world has changed or is it just me? It seems to me that we have become a nation of “Let somebody else do it.” There are thousands unwanted animals in shelters that will be killed unless someone adopts them. We know it but we rationalize that someone else will take care of it. Besides, who has the time to care? Hungry children need food? Somebody else will take care of it, someone who has more money than I do. They’ll do it.

The big events like Katrina brings out the benevolence in a lot of people, but the in-between times there are so many needs that go unmet. I wonder if it has always been this way of if we have somehow become less responsive to the needs of others in my lifetime. We know things happen but seem that shouldn’t happen but seem less willing to do anything about it. Torture, yeah, it’s not good, but nothing I can do about it. Someone else will take care of it. The Baby Boomers use to care, we stopped a war, the Vietnam War. We use to demonstrate and stand up for what we believed in… now we care more about standing in line at Wal-Mart to get a $400 laptop computer and will knock people over if they get in our way. A stray kitten, who has time to care about that?

Why I blog

My blogging seems to come in spurts. People may ask, "Why Blog?" My husband asks me quite often, "who do you think is reading your blog anyway?" I try to explain to him that there are different reasons to blog. Some blogs are like a small neighborhood shop that neighbors frequent. Other blogs are bigger and are like a franchise and have name recognition. Then there are big blogs that are like corporations, and are the big players that have thousands reading them daily. I'm happy right now just being a small neighborhood blog that just my neighbors know about while I learn more about blogging, defining my voice and purpose etc. I do have a new found respect for "real" writers and have developed a new appreciation for those who make their living as word-craftsman. I now marvel at how well someone has been able to put into words concepts, feelings, observations that I'm just beginning to contemplate, much less articulate.

Blogging has been somewhat liberating for me. I have found that putting myself out there in the public arena to be an empowering experience. I've become much more vocal about things that matter to me and more confident about sharing those views with others. It has been a fun experience, even if only a few people are reading my blog! Thank you if you are one of my local neighbors visiting my blog.

Robbin Williams and Bill Maher on the Environment

I laughed myself silly with thses shorts by Maher, Williams and the Insult Comic Dog interviewing some obscure Republicans about global warming. Takes a couple of minutes well worth it.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Apollo Alliance

Last week, I wrote about the Iraq War and said that until we begin to talk about the real reason we went to war in Iraq, oil, oil, oil, we were stuck there. What we needed was a plan to end our dependency on oil. This will take years to accomplish. Here is an intesting coalition who thinks we need to do the same: The Apollo Alliance.

Wal-Mart Movie and a note to Andrew Grossman

I went to see the Wal-Mart movie. I was very moved by the movie, but had reservations.

Unfortunately, all of our best efforts to try to reform Wal-Mart and make it a better corporate citizen will amount to nothing more than a gnat fly bothering a dragon. Wal-Mart is largest multinational corporation in the world. Boycotts alone will do little. I like to compare Wal-Mart to the dragon, Smaug, in JRR Tolkien's, “The Hobbit.” The army’s arrows bounced off of his shield like rubber toys. The only way they were able to defeat this dragon is they found a weakness in his amour. That is what we need to do with the dragon, Wal-Mart. Find a weakness and exploit it!
Wal-Mart does have a weakness; it’s called a share-holder.

Wal-Mart’s practices are designed to please the share-holders. If we could get 200,000 people to buy one share of stock, we could introduce share-holder’s resolutions that they company would have to vote on. We would be allowed to attend share-holder’s annual meetings, protest practices etc. The first thing we could do it get rid of their CEO, Lee Scott.

Next we would introduce a resolution for affordable health care.
Then we could address the living wage issue etc.

Share-holder resolutions are non-binding and are usually defeated, but the publicity they generate can piece the heart of even the fiercest global multinational.

Wal-Mart has billions of dollars to fight our efforts. They can hire the best of the best in the PR world to spin their critics into oblivion. They however can not do the same if the critics are share-holders.

The next step after that would be to go after the Mutual Funds who are the real power brokers in the world of finance. Find out which companies voted against the resolutions. Find out which pension funds invest in that company and make the membership aware of how that Mutual Fund Company is voting. Now that would cause a real stir!

So my suggestion would be to add to your campaign: “Buy one share of Wal-Mart Stock and become a share-holder.

That would really make headlines!!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

A Reply to John Cusack's Blog and the Spineless Democrats

A friend of mine sent me a link to a post by John Cusack on the blog; The Huntington He railed against the Democrats and essentially called us spineless bottom-feeders because we sat back and allowed the neo-cons to drag this country into an unjustifiable war, allowed torture, allowed lies and pay-to-play go unchecked etc. And as Democrats, we must begin to demand that the US leave the Middle East, which give me pause. Here’s why:

First, I read the book, “The End of Faith”, by Sam Harris. I first learned about this book in the magazine, “The Nation.” He basically says in his book that extreme Islamic fundamentalism, if it is allowed to continue to become the norm, will spell disaster for the west. Their religion, in its extreme form has one objective; kill, destroy, and wipe the evil doers off the face of the earth, period. We are the bad guys; their mission is to annihilate us. We are corrupt; there is not hope, no compromise, and no tolerance. That is what the radicals believe and what the moderates condone with their silence. Perhaps Jordan’s protest over their extremism is a sign of hope. But if this form of religion goes unchecked, a black market that sells every weapon imaginable from the old Soviet stockpile, will leak into the hands of these extreme religious fanatics who will find a way to use these weapons against us. Like it or not, that is the truth. If you don’t believe me, see for yourself how easy it is for you to buy a dirty bomb. With a little technical know-how and some seedy friends, I guarantee you can have your own dirty bomb in less that a year. Why doesn’t 60 Minutes do a story on that?

The second reason that I disagree with Cusack: What if this war is really about oil? What if our real motive for going to war was to create a free market where capitalist can thrive and the Middle East becomes more like Turkey and Jordan?

I believe this war is really about Natural Resources, i.e., oil. The world needs the Middle East’s oil. And that, I believe is the bottom line. Corrupt? Perhaps, but who is ready to go live off the NET and not consume the electricity? Who is ready to live without the good and services that the Oil Cartel provides?
I bought a hybrid vehicle and as soon as my warranty is up, I’m putting a larger battery in the vehicle so I can charge it up at night and run off or the electricity for 100 miles a day and not even use any oil. But the electricity I use to charge my vehicle will be the by-product of oil and coal. The organic food I eat is transferred via airplanes, trucks, trains etc, to the grocery store, all which consume oil, right? Even in my bohemian lifestyle, I still am a consumer of this commodity.

I believe that until we examine the real reasons we went to war the Democrats are going to continue to lose in this debate about the Iraq war. What the Democrats need to be saying is the truth, “We went to war with Iraq because we need a market that is consumer friendly; one that and will keep producing and providing the commodity we all need, oil.” Until that changes, nothing will change. We can dance around the issue, rant about the horrible politicians in Washington, but we are all a part of the story. The only plan the Democrats can propose to get us permanently out of the Middle East is to propose a “Manhattan Project” that will deliver an alternative energy source for the world. That is the only way we can permantley withdraw our troops/our presence from the Middle East.

So I think John is well meaning in his rant about the Democrats being spineless, they probably are, because they will never stand up to the Oil Cartel. The Oil Cartel has the politicians in their back pockets. Oil is the oxygen of the economy. Who will fight that? That’s why we all lose this argument…

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Drilling in the Artic and off the Coast of Florida

So drilling for oil in the Artic Wildlife Refuge and off the coast of Florida have failed to pass in the House for now. Tom Feeney and Mel Martinez, Bush crony’s, of course were in favor of it. We have two groups who were very hands on in defeating it according to an article published in the Orlando Sentinel on November 10, 2005.

These guys have to be the big guns in the environmental movement.
Many Thanks!
The National OCS Coalition: quote by Richard Charter
US PIRG: quote Athan Manuel