Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Gay Muslim

LA Times story on Lesbian.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Huckabee on Daily Show

Monday, December 8, 2008

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Election Map

Election Map from NY Times

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dowd on Powell

here



Moved by a Crescent
By MAUREEN DOWD
Colin Powell had been bugged by many things in his party’s campaign this fall: the insidious merging of rumors that Barack Obama was Muslim with intimations that he was a terrorist sympathizer; the assertion that Sarah Palin was ready to be president; the uniformed sheriff who introduced Governor Palin by sneering about Barack Hussein Obama; the scorn with which Republicans spit out the words “community organizer”; the Republicans’ argument that using taxes to “spread the wealth” was socialist when the purpose of taxes is to spread the wealth; Palin’s insidious notion that small towns in states that went for W. were “the real America.”

But what sent him over the edge and made him realize he had to speak out was when he opened his New Yorker three weeks ago and saw a picture of a mother pressing her head against the gravestone of her son, a 20-year-old soldier who had been killed in Iraq. On the headstone were engraved his name, Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, his awards — the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star — and a crescent and a star to denote his Islamic faith.

“I stared at it for an hour,” he told me. “Who could debate that this kid lying in Arlington with Christian and Jewish and nondenominational buddies was not a fine American?”

Khan was an all-American kid. A 2005 graduate of Southern Regional High School in Manahawkin, N.J., he loved the Dallas Cowboys and playing video games with his 12-year-old stepsister, Aliya.

His obituary in The Star-Ledger of Newark said that he had sent his family back pictures of himself playing soccer with Iraqi children and hugging a smiling young Iraqi boy.

His father said Kareem had been eager to enlist since he was 14 and was outraged by the 9/11 attacks. “His Muslim faith did not make him not want to go,” Feroze Khan, told The Gannett News Service after his son died. “He looked at it that he’s American and he has a job to do.”

In a gratifying “have you no sense of decency, Sir and Madam?” moment, Colin Powell went on “Meet the Press” on Sunday and talked about Khan, and the unseemly ways John McCain and Palin have been polarizing the country to try to get elected. It was a tonic to hear someone push back so clearly on ugly innuendo.

Even the Obama campaign has shied away from Muslims. The candidate has gone to synagogues but no mosques, and the campaign was embarrassed when it turned out that two young women in headscarves had not been allowed to stand behind Obama during a speech in Detroit because aides did not want them in the TV shot.

The former secretary of state has dealt with prejudice in his life, in and out of the Army, and he is keenly aware of how many millions of Muslims around the world are being offended by the slimy tenor of the race against Obama.

He told Tom Brokaw that he was troubled by what other Republicans, not McCain, had said: “ ‘Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.’ Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim. He’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no. That’s not America. Is something wrong with some 7-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president?”

Powell got a note from Feroze Khan this week thanking him for telling the world that Muslim-Americans are as good as any others. But he also received more e-mails insisting that Obama is a Muslim and one calling him “unconstitutional and unbiblical” for daring to support a socialist. He got a mass e-mail from a man wanting to spread the word that Obama was reading a book about the end of America written by a fellow Muslim.

“Holy cow!” Powell thought. Upon checking Amazon.com, he saw that it was a reference to Fareed Zakaria, a Muslim who writes a Newsweek column and hosts a CNN foreign affairs show. His latest book is “The Post-American World.”

Powell is dismissive of those, like Rush Limbaugh, who say he made his endorsement based on race. And he’s offended by those who suggest that his appearance Sunday was an expiation for Iraq, speaking up strongly now about what he thinks the world needs because he failed to do so then.

Even though he watched W. in 2000 make the argument that his lack of foreign policy experience would be offset by the fact that he was surrounded by pros — Powell himself was one of the regents brought in to guide the bumptious Texas dauphin — Powell makes that same argument now for Obama.

“Experience is helpful,” he says, “but it is judgment that matters.”

Monday, October 20, 2008

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

Exceptional

Roger Cohen article in the NY Times

September 25, 2008
Op-Ed Columnist
Palin’s American Exception
By ROGER COHEN
Sarah Palin loves the word “exceptional.” At a rally in Nevada the other day, the Republican vice-presidential candidate said: “We are an exceptional nation.” Then she declared: “America is an exceptional country.” In case anyone missed that, she added: “You are all exceptional Americans.”

I have to hand it to Palin, she may be onto something in her batty way: the election is very much about American exceptionalism.

This is the idea, around since the founding fathers, and elaborated on by Alexis de Tocqueville, that the United States is a nation unlike any other with a special mission to build the “city upon a hill” that will serve as liberty’s beacon for mankind.

But exceptionalism has taken an ugly twist of late. It’s become the angry refuge of the America that wants to deny the real state of the world.

From an inspirational notion, however flawed in execution, that has buttressed the global spread of liberty, American exceptionalism has morphed into the fortress of those who see themselves threatened by “one-worlders” (read Barack Obama) and who believe it’s more important to know how to dress moose than find Mumbai.

That’s Palinism, a philosophy delivered without a passport and with a view (on a clear day) of Russia.

Behind Palinism lies anger. It’s been growing as America’s relative decline has become more manifest in falling incomes, imploding markets, massive debt and rising new centers of wealth and power from Shanghai to Dubai.

The damn-the-world, God-chose-us rage of that America has sharpened as U.S. exceptionalism has become harder to square with the 21st-century world’s interconnectedness. How exceptional can you be when every major problem you face, from terrorism to nuclear proliferation to gas prices, requires joint action?

Very exceptional, insists Palin, and so does John McCain by choosing her. (He has said: “I do believe in American exceptionalism. We are the only nation I know that really is deeply concerned about adhering to the principle that all of us are created equal.”)

America is distinct. Its habits and attitudes with respect to religion, patriotism, voting and the death penalty, for example, differ from much of the rest of the developed world. It is more ideological than other countries, believing still in its manifest destiny. At its noblest, it inspires still.

But, let’s face it, from Baghdad to Bear Stearns the last eight years have been a lesson in the price of exceptionalism run amok.

To persist with a philosophy grounded in America’s separateness, rather than its connectedness, would be devastating at a time when the country faces two wars, a financial collapse unseen since 1929, commodity inflation, a huge transfer of resources to the Middle East, and the imperative to develop new sources of energy.

Enough is enough.

The basic shift from the cold war to the new world is from MAD (mutual assured destruction) to MAC (mutual assured connectedness). Technology trumps politics. Still, Bush and Cheney have demonstrated that politics still matter.

Which brings us to the first debate — still scheduled for Friday — between Obama and McCain on foreign policy. It will pit the former’s universalism against the latter’s exceptionalism.

I’m going to try to make this simple. On the Democratic side you have a guy whose campaign has been based on the Internet, who believes America may have something to learn from other countries (like universal health care) and who’s unafraid in 2008 to say he’s a “proud citizen of the United States and a fellow citizen of the world.”

On the Republican side, you have a guy who, in 2008, is just discovering the Net and Google and whose No. 2 is a woman who got a passport last year and believes she understands Russia because Alaska is closer to Siberia than Alabama.

If I were Obama, I’d put it this way: “Senator McCain, the world you claim to understand is the world of yesterday. A new century demands new thinking. Our country cannot be made fundamentally secure by a man who thought our economy was fundamentally sound.”

American exceptionalism, taken to extremes, leaves you without the allies you need (Iraq), without the influence you want (Iran) and without any notion of risk (Wall Street). The only exceptionalism that resonates, as Obama put it to me last year, is one “based on our Constitution, our principles, our values and our ideals.”

In a superb recent piece on the declining global influence of the Supreme Court, my colleague Adam Liptak quoted an article by Steven Calabresi, a law professor at Northwestern: “Like it or not, Americans really are a special people with a special ideology that sets us apart from all other peoples.”

Palinism has its intellectual roots. But it’s dangerous for a country in need of realism not rage. I’m sure Henry Kissinger tried to instill Realpolitik in the governor of Alaska this week, but the angry exceptionalism that is Palinism is not in the reason game
.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Spain is in Europe, Not South America

Ah.. McCain. If he only knew how to google, he could have looked it up.. its about 2 minutes in.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Monday, August 4, 2008

Friday, July 25, 2008

Pausch

Tough Love

Kristoff on Mid-East's most intractable issue.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Monday, July 21, 2008

Monday, July 14, 2008

Full Kristof Article on Mortenson from NY Times

July 13, 2008
Op-Ed Columnist
It Takes a School, Not Missiles
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
Since 9/11, Westerners have tried two approaches to fight terrorism in Pakistan, President Bush’s and Greg Mortenson’s.

Mr. Bush has focused on military force and provided more than $10 billion — an extraordinary sum in the foreign-aid world — to the highly unpopular government of President Pervez Musharraf. This approach has failed: the backlash has radicalized Pakistan’s tribal areas so that they now nurture terrorists in ways that they never did before 9/11.

Mr. Mortenson, a frumpy, genial man from Montana, takes a diametrically opposite approach, and he has spent less than one-ten-thousandth as much as the Bush administration. He builds schools in isolated parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan, working closely with Muslim clerics and even praying with them at times.

The only thing that Mr. Mortenson blows up are boulders that fall onto remote roads and block access to his schools.

Mr. Mortenson has become a legend in the region, his picture sometimes dangling like a talisman from rearview mirrors, and his work has struck a chord in America as well. His superb book about his schools, “Three Cups of Tea,” came out in 2006 and initially wasn’t reviewed by most major newspapers. Yet propelled by word of mouth, the book became a publishing sensation: it has spent the last 74 weeks on the paperback best-seller list, regularly in the No. 1 spot.

Now Mr. Mortenson is fending off several dozen film offers. “My concern is that a movie might endanger the well-being of our students,” he explains.

Mr. Mortenson found his calling in 1993 after he failed in an attempt to climb K2, a Himalayan peak, and stumbled weakly into a poor Muslim village. The peasants nursed him back to health, and he promised to repay them by building the village a school.

Scrounging the money was a nightmare — his 580 fund-raising letters to prominent people generated one check, from Tom Brokaw — and Mr. Mortenson ended up selling his beloved climbing equipment and car. But when the school was built, he kept going. Now his aid group, the Central Asia Institute, has 74 schools in operation. His focus is educating girls.

To get a school, villagers must provide the land and the labor to assure a local “buy-in,” and so far the Taliban have not bothered his schools. One anti-American mob rampaged through Baharak, Afghanistan, attacking aid groups — but stopped at the school that local people had just built with Mr. Mortenson. “This is our school,” the mob leaders decided, and they left it intact.

Mr. Mortenson has had setbacks, including being kidnapped for eight days in Pakistan’s wild Waziristan region. It would be naïve to think that a few dozen schools will turn the tide in Afghanistan or Pakistan.

Still, he notes that the Taliban recruits the poor and illiterate, and he also argues that when women are educated they are more likely to restrain their sons. Five of his teachers are former Taliban, and he says it was their mothers who persuaded them to leave the Taliban; that is one reason he is passionate about educating girls.

So I have this fantasy: Suppose that the United States focused less on blowing things up in Pakistan’s tribal areas and more on working through local aid groups to build schools, simultaneously cutting tariffs on Pakistani and Afghan manufactured exports. There would be no immediate payback, but a better-educated and more economically vibrant Pakistan would probably be more resistant to extremism.

“Schools are a much more effective bang for the buck than missiles or chasing some Taliban around the country,” says Mr. Mortenson, who is an Army veteran.

Each Tomahawk missile that the United States fires in Afghanistan costs at least $500,000. That’s enough for local aid groups to build more than 20 schools, and in the long run those schools probably do more to destroy the Taliban.

The Pentagon, which has a much better appreciation for the limits of military power than the Bush administration as a whole, placed large orders for “Three Cups of Tea” and invited Mr. Mortenson to speak.

“I am convinced that the long-term solution to terrorism in general, and Afghanistan specifically, is education,” Lt. Col. Christopher Kolenda, who works on the Afghan front lines, said in an e-mail in which he raved about Mr. Mortenson’s work. “The conflict here will not be won with bombs but with books. ... The thirst for education here is palpable.”

Military force is essential in Afghanistan to combat the Taliban. But over time, in Pakistan and Afghanistan alike, the best tonic against militant fundamentalism will be education and economic opportunity.

So a lone Montanan staying at the cheapest guest houses has done more to advance U.S. interests in the region than the entire military and foreign policy apparatus of the Bush administration.

I invite you to comment on this column on my blog, www.nytimes.com/ontheground, and join me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kristof
.

Kristof on Mortenson

Here.

Edge of Heaven

Saw this movie on Sunday. It was amazing. Here is the NY Times Review.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

McCain, Iran, Lung Cancer

Article from Huff Post here.

Rev. Hagee Sues You Tube

Max Blumenthal, who did much to expose him, responds in the Huff Post.

Matt Harding -- World Dancer

NY Times article here

Here he is on You Tube.

Eight New Natural Wonders

Here.

The Dumbest Generation

Opinion piece in the LA Times.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Friday, June 27, 2008

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Monday, June 9, 2008

Stars and Stripes in Their Eyes

Most Iranians Really Like the US. Article Here.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Hummer's Dead! Yay.

Hummer's suck

Perfume not Poppies in Afghanistan

Here, via npr.

Obama's Minn. Acceptance Speech, transcript via NPR

Via NPR.


Transcript: Obama's Speech After Final Primaries
NPR.org, June 3, 2008 · Illinois Sen. Barack Obama secured enough delegates on Tuesday to become the nation's first African-American presumptive presidential nominee. The following is a transcript of his prepared remarks, delivered in St. Paul, Minn., Tuesday night. In the speech, following the season's final primaries in South Dakota and Montana, Obama recognizes New York Sen. Hillary Clinton's hard-fought campaign and thanked the millions of Democrats who voted in the primaries. Then, he turns his attention to November's general election. The gist of his speech is that Arizona Sen. John McCain's Republican candidacy does not offer "change."

Tonight, after fifty-four hard-fought contests, our primary season has finally come to an end.

Sixteen months have passed since we first stood together on the steps of the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois. Thousands of miles have been traveled. Millions of voices have been heard. And because of what you said – because you decided that change must come to Washington; because you believed that this year must be different than all the rest; because you chose to listen not to your doubts or your fears but to your greatest hopes and highest aspirations, tonight we mark the end of one historic journey with the beginning of another – a journey that will bring a new and better day to America. Tonight, I can stand before you and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States.

I want to thank every American who stood with us over the course of this campaign – through the good days and the bad; from the snows of Cedar Rapids to the sunshine of Sioux Falls. And tonight I also want to thank the men and woman who took this journey with me as fellow candidates for President.

At this defining moment for our nation, we should be proud that our party put forth one of the most talented, qualified field of individuals ever to run for this office. I have not just competed with them as rivals, I have learned from them as friends, as public servants, and as patriots who love America and are willing to work tirelessly to make this country better. They are leaders of this party, and leaders that America will turn to for years to come.

That is particularly true for the candidate who has traveled further on this journey than anyone else. Senator Hillary Clinton has made history in this campaign not just because she's a woman who has done what no woman has done before, but because she's a leader who inspires millions of Americans with her strength, her courage, and her commitment to the causes that brought us here tonight.

We've certainly had our differences over the last sixteen months. But as someone who's shared a stage with her many times, I can tell you that what gets Hillary Clinton up in the morning – even in the face of tough odds – is exactly what sent her and Bill Clinton to sign up for their first campaign in Texas all those years ago; what sent her to work at the Children's Defense Fund and made her fight for health care as First Lady; what led her to the United States Senate and fueled her barrier-breaking campaign for the presidency – an unyielding desire to improve the lives of ordinary Americans, no matter how difficult the fight may be. And you can rest assured that when we finally win the battle for universal health care in this country, she will be central to that victory. When we transform our energy policy and lift our children out of poverty, it will be because she worked to help make it happen. Our party and our country are better off because of her, and I am a better candidate for having had the honor to compete with Hillary Rodham Clinton.

There are those who say that this primary has somehow left us weaker and more divided. Well I say that because of this primary, there are millions of Americans who have cast their ballot for the very first time. There are Independents and Republicans who understand that this election isn't just about the party in charge of Washington, it's about the need to change Washington. There are young people, and African-Americans, and Latinos, and women of all ages who have voted in numbers that have broken records and inspired a nation.

All of you chose to support a candidate you believe in deeply. But at the end of the day, we aren't the reason you came out and waited in lines that stretched block after block to make your voice heard. You didn't do that because of me or Senator Clinton or anyone else. You did it because you know in your hearts that at this moment – a moment that will define a generation – we cannot afford to keep doing what we've been doing. We owe our children a better future. We owe our country a better future. And for all those who dream of that future tonight, I say – let us begin the work together. Let us unite in common effort to chart a new course for America.

In just a few short months, the Republican Party will arrive in St. Paul with a very different agenda. They will come here to nominate John McCain, a man who has served this country heroically. I honor that service, and I respect his many accomplishments, even if he chooses to deny mine. My differences with him are not personal; they are with the policies he has proposed in this campaign.

Because while John McCain can legitimately tout moments of independence from his party in the past, such independence has not been the hallmark of his presidential campaign.

It's not change when John McCain decided to stand with George Bush ninety-five percent of the time, as he did in the Senate last year.

It's not change when he offers four more years of Bush economic policies that have failed to create well-paying jobs, or insure our workers, or help Americans afford the skyrocketing cost of college – policies that have lowered the real incomes of the average American family, widened the gap between Wall Street and Main Street, and left our children with a mountain of debt.

And it's not change when he promises to continue a policy in Iraq that asks everything of our brave men and women in uniform and nothing of Iraqi politicians – a policy where all we look for are reasons to stay in Iraq, while we spend billions of dollars a month on a war that isn't making the American people any safer.

So I'll say this – there are many words to describe John McCain's attempt to pass off his embrace of George Bush's policies as bipartisan and new. But change is not one of them.

Change is a foreign policy that doesn't begin and end with a war that should've never been authorized and never been waged. I won't stand here and pretend that there are many good options left in Iraq, but what's not an option is leaving our troops in that country for the next hundred years – especially at a time when our military is overstretched, our nation is isolated, and nearly every other threat to America is being ignored.

We must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in - but start leaving we must. It's time for Iraqis to take responsibility for their future. It's time to rebuild our military and give our veterans the care they need and the benefits they deserve when they come home. It's time to refocus our efforts on al Qaeda's leadership and Afghanistan, and rally the world against the common threats of the 21st century – terrorism and nuclear weapons; climate change and poverty; genocide and disease. That's what change is.

Change is realizing that meeting today's threats requires not just our firepower, but the power of our diplomacy – tough, direct diplomacy where the President of the United States isn't afraid to let any petty dictator know where America stands and what we stand for. We must once again have the courage and conviction to lead the free world. That is the legacy of Roosevelt, and Truman, and Kennedy. That's what the American people want. That's what change is.

Change is building an economy that rewards not just wealth, but the work and workers who created it. It's understanding that the struggles facing working families can't be solved by spending billions of dollars on more tax breaks for big corporations and wealthy CEOs, but by giving a the middle-class a tax break, and investing in our crumbling infrastructure, and transforming how we use energy, and improving our schools, and renewing our commitment to science and innovation. It's understanding that fiscal responsibility and shared prosperity can go hand-in-hand, as they did when Bill Clinton was President.

John McCain has spent a lot of time talking about trips to Iraq in the last few weeks, but maybe if he spent some time taking trips to the cities and towns that have been hardest hit by this economy – cities in Michigan, and Ohio, and right here in Minnesota – he'd understand the kind of change that people are looking for.

Maybe if he went to Iowa and met the student who works the night shift after a full day of class and still can't pay the medical bills for a sister who's ill, he'd understand that she can't afford four more years of a health care plan that only takes care of the healthy and wealthy. She needs us to pass health care plan that guarantees insurance to every American who wants it and brings down premiums for every family who needs it. That's the change we need.

Maybe if he went to Pennsylvania and met the man who lost his job but can't even afford the gas to drive around and look for a new one, he'd understand that we can't afford four more years of our addiction to oil from dictators. That man needs us to pass an energy policy that works with automakers to raise fuel standards, and makes corporations pay for their pollution, and oil companies invest their record profits in a clean energy future – an energy policy that will create millions of new jobs that pay well and can't be outsourced. That's the change we need.

And maybe if he spent some time in the schools of South Carolina or St. Paul or where he spoke tonight in New Orleans, he'd understand that we can't afford to leave the money behind for No Child Left Behind; that we owe it to our children to invest in early childhood education; to recruit an army of new teachers and give them better pay and more support; to finally decide that in this global economy, the chance to get a college education should not be a privilege for the wealthy few, but the birthright of every American. That's the change we need in America. That's why I'm running for President.

The other side will come here in September and offer a very different set of policies and positions, and that is a debate I look forward to. It is a debate the American people deserve. But what you don't deserve is another election that's governed by fear, and innuendo, and division. What you won't hear from this campaign or this party is the kind of politics that uses religion as a wedge, and patriotism as a bludgeon – that sees our opponents not as competitors to challenge, but enemies to demonize. Because we may call ourselves Democrats and Republicans, but we are Americans first. We are always Americans first.

Despite what the good Senator from Arizona said tonight, I have seen people of differing views and opinions find common cause many times during my two decades in public life, and I have brought many together myself. I've walked arm-in-arm with community leaders on the South Side of Chicago and watched tensions fade as black, white, and Latino fought together for good jobs and good schools. I've sat across the table from law enforcement and civil rights advocates to reform a criminal justice system that sent thirteen innocent people to death row. And I've worked with friends in the other party to provide more children with health insurance and more working families with a tax break; to curb the spread of nuclear weapons and ensure that the American people know where their tax dollars are being spent; and to reduce the influence of lobbyists who have all too often set the agenda in Washington.

In our country, I have found that this cooperation happens not because we agree on everything, but because behind all the labels and false divisions and categories that define us; beyond all the petty bickering and point-scoring in Washington, Americans are a decent, generous, compassionate people, united by common challenges and common hopes. And every so often, there are moments which call on that fundamental goodness to make this country great again.

So it was for that band of patriots who declared in a Philadelphia hall the formation of a more perfect union; and for all those who gave on the fields of Gettysburg and Antietam their last full measure of devotion to save that same union.

So it was for the Greatest Generation that conquered fear itself, and liberated a continent from tyranny, and made this country home to untold opportunity and prosperity.

So it was for the workers who stood out on the picket lines; the women who shattered glass ceilings; the children who braved a Selma bridge for freedom's cause.

So it has been for every generation that faced down the greatest challenges and the most improbable odds to leave their children a world that's better, and kinder, and more just.

And so it must be for us.

America, this is our moment. This is our time. Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past. Our time to bring new energy and new ideas to the challenges we face. Our time to offer a new direction for the country we love.

The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment – this was the time – when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals. Thank you, God Bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Young Hillary Clinton

From Electopundit via you tube.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Herbert on Biden, Clinton

from NY times, here.

Zbigniew Brzezinski and William Odom Op-Ed

Zbigniew Brzezinski and William Odom Op-Ed on Iran.

'nuff said

Lieberman to Headline Hagee Summit.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

This is Rich

Santorum speaks on Calif. court decision.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Three Cups of Tea

I am reading this great wonderful book. I highly recommend it.

Wiki article on book here.

Candidates Signatures -- Analyzed

Article Here.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Kennedy Has Brain Tumor

UGH.. DARN IT. My thoughts are with you and your family.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Friday, May 16, 2008

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Must View Charlie Rose Interviews

The first with Jeremy Greenstock


and the MUST SEE one with Gen. Michael Rose

Monday, May 12, 2008

More Soros

Here, from NPR.

George Soros

Print Interview, NY Review of Books.

Volume 55, Number 8 · May 15, 2008
The Financial Crisis: An Interview with George Soros
By George Soros, Judy Woodruff

The following is an edited and expanded version of an interview with George Soros, Chairman, Soros Fund Management, by Judy Woodruff on Bloomberg TV on April 4.


Judy Woodruff: You write in your new book, The New Paradigm for Financial Markets,[1] that "we are in the midst of a financial crisis the likes of which we haven't seen since the Great Depression." Was this crisis avoidable?

George Soros: I think it was, but it would have required recognition that the system, as it currently operates, is built on false premises. Unfortunately, we have an idea of market fundamentalism, which is now the dominant ideology, holding that markets are self-correcting; and this is false because it's generally the intervention of the authorities that saves the markets when they get into trouble. Since 1980, we have had about five or six crises: the international banking crisis in 1982, the bankruptcy of Continental Illinois in 1984, and the failure of Long-Term Capital Management in 1998, to name only three.

Each time, it's the authorities that bail out the market, or organize companies to do so. So the regulators have precedents they should be aware of. But somehow this idea that markets tend to equilibrium and that deviations are random has gained acceptance and all of these fancy instruments for investment have been built on them.

There are now, for example, complex forms of investment such as credit-default swaps that make it possible for investors to bet on the possibility that companies will default on repaying loans. Such bets on credit defaults now make up a $45 trillion market that is entirely unregulated. It amounts to more than five times the total of the US government bond market. The large potential risks of such investments are not being acknowledged.

Woodruff: How can so many smart people not realize this?

Soros: In my new book I put forward a general theory of reflexivity, emphasizing how important misconceptions are in shaping history. So it's not really unusual; it's just that we don't recognize the misconceptions.

Woodruff: Who could have? You said it would have been avoidable if people had understood what's wrong with the current system. Who should have recognized that?

Soros: The authorities, the regulators—the Federal Reserve and the Treasury—really failed to see what was happening. One Fed governor, Edward Gramlich, warned of a coming crisis in subprime mortgages in a speech published in 2004 and a book published in 2007, among other statements. So a number of people could see it coming. And somehow, the authorities didn't want to see it coming. So it came as a surprise.

Woodruff: The chairman of the Fed, Mr. Bernanke? His predecessor, Mr. Greenspan?

Soros: All of the above. But I don't hold them personally responsible because you have a whole establishment involved. The economics profession has developed theories of "random walks" and "rational expectations" that are supposed to account for market movements. That's what you learn in college. Now, when you come into the market, you tend to forget it because you realize that that's not how the markets work. But nevertheless, it's in some way the basis of your thinking.

Woodruff: How much worse do you anticipate things will get?

Soros: Well, you see, as my theory argues, you can't make any unconditional predictions because it very much depends on how the authorities are going to respond now to the situation. But the situation is definitely much worse than is currently recognized. You have had a general disruption of the financial markets, much more pervasive than any we have had so far. And on top of it, you have the housing crisis, which is likely to get a lot worse than currently anticipated because markets do overshoot. They overshot on the upside and now they are going to overshoot on the downside.

Woodruff: You say the housing crisis is going to get much worse. Do you anticipate something like the government setting up an agency or a trust corporation to buy these mortgages?

Soros: I'm sure that it will be necessary to arrest the decline because the decline, I think, will be much faster and much deeper than currently anticipated. In February, the rate of decline in housing prices was 25 percent per annum, so it's accelerating. Now, foreclosures are going to add to the supply of housing a very large number of properties because the annual rate of new houses built is about 600,000. There are about six million subprime mortgages outstanding, 40 percent of which will likely go into default in the next two years. And then you have the adjustable-rate mortgages and other flexible loans.

Problems with such adjustable-rate mortgages are going to be of about the same magnitude as with subprime mortgages. So you'll have maybe five million more defaults facing you over the next several years. Now, it takes time before a foreclosure actually is completed. So right now you have perhaps no more than 10,000 to 20,000 houses coming into the supply on the market. But that's going to build up. So the idea that somehow in the second half of this year the economy is going to improve I find totally unbelievable.

Woodruff: So how long will this last?

Soros: Well, it depends on when the authorities wake up, because you need to reduce the number of foreclosures. You need to keep as many people as possible in their houses so that they don't come onto the market. You need to arrest the decline in house prices, but you also need to prevent human suffering and social disruption because it's going to be very, very severe. Certain communities are already hurting and it's going to get a lot worse. So action will have to be taken, but I don't think it's going to happen during this administration.

Woodruff: You said the Federal Reserve had to step in to engineer the buyout by J.P. Morgan of Bear Stearns to prevent a much bigger catastrophe. You've also said that to do this, the Fed had to take on considerable risk. Is this an unhealthy amount of risk that the Fed has taken on?

Soros: This is their job, whether unhealthy or not; I don't think it's actually so severe. But that is their job, to save the system when it is in danger. However, because that is their job, it ought to be their job also to prevent asset bubbles from developing. And that task has not been recognized. Greenspan once spoke about the "irrational exuberance" of the market. It had a bad echo and he stopped talking about it. And it's generally accepted that the Fed tries to control core inflation, but not asset prices. I think that control of asset prices has to be an objective in order to prevent asset bubbles because they are so frequent.

Woodruff: And that's more than what the Fed is doing.

Soros: It's more than what it's doing now. You have to recognize that just controlling money doesn't control credit. You see, money and credit don't go hand in hand. The monetarist doctrine doesn't stand up. So you have to take into account the willingness to lend. And if it's too great—if borrowers can obtain large loans on the basis of inadequate security—you really have to introduce margin requirements for such borrowing and try to discourage it.

Woodruff: When you talk about currency you have more than a little expertise. You were described as the man who broke the Bank of England back in the 1990s. But what is your sense of where the dollar is going? We've seen it declining. Do you think the central banks are going to have to step in?

Soros: Well, we are close to a tipping point where, in my view, the willingness of banks and countries to hold dollars is definitely impaired. But there is no suitable alternative so central banks are diversifying into other currencies; but there is a general flight from these currencies. So the countries with big surpluses—Abu Dhabi, China, Norway, and Saudi Arabia, for example—have all set up sovereign wealth funds, state-owned investment funds held by central banks that aim to diversify their assets from monetary assets to real assets. That's one of the major developments currently and those sovereign wealth funds are growing. They're already equal in size to all of the hedge funds in the world combined. Of course, they don't use their capital as intensively as hedge funds, but they are going to grow to about five times the size of hedge funds in the next twenty years.

Woodruff: How low do you think the dollar will go?

Soros: Well, that I don't know. I can see the trend, but I don't know its extent, and I don't know when something might happen to turn it around. Once the economy stabilizes, probably the overshoot on the currencies would also be corrected.

Woodruff: Few people know more about hedge funds than you do. You've been enormously successful with your own hedge fund. Should hedge funds be more regulated by Washington?

Soros: I think hedge funds should be regulated like everything else. In other words, you have to control leverage—credit obtained for investment purposes—somewhere. Excessive use of leverage is at the bottom of this problem. And there have been hedge funds that have been using leverage excessively and some of those have gone broke. The amount of leverage that people are allowed to use has to be regulated. I think it's best done through the banks. In other words, the banks' reserve requirements—the amounts of money they are obliged to hold—should be tailored to the riskiness of their customers. So investment funds that use a lot of leverage ought to be seen as very risky; and therefore they would not get the amount of leverage they seek because the banks wouldn't give it to them.

Woodruff: New regulation, though: Could that impede the ability of hedge funds to be the big players that they have been in these markets?

Soros: Yes, I think that there has been excessive use of credit and it does have to be limited. So we are now in a period of very rapid deleveraging and I think that in the future we ought not to allow leverage to be used to the extent that it has been in the past.

Woodruff: You write, "We are at the end of an era." When this current credit crisis ends, will the US still be, no doubt about it, the world superpower when it comes to the economy?

Soros: Not at all. This is now in question. And you now have entered a period of really considerable uncertainty and turmoil because of the general flight from currencies, which manifests itself in the commodities bubble that has developed. The price of gold hasn't yet gone as high as it might. So what comes out of this turmoil is very open to question. I think that you will have to somehow reconstruct the global financial architecture because you have recognized that, in effect, the economic weight has changed considerably among the different countries. China has become much more important and also India, and so on. What kind of system will evolve from this is, I think, a very open question.

Woodruff: What about China? How much of an economic competitor could it end up being?

Soros: Well, China is rising. It's been the main beneficiary of globalization. Their currency is significantly undervalued and for various reasons they have to allow it to appreciate, recently at a rate of 10 percent. And it's been accelerating now to 15, 20 percent, which makes the situation more difficult for the Fed because you now have the prospect of core inflation in the US accelerating because if our imports coming from China go up in price by 15 percent, it will come through in core inflation. The price of goods at Wal-Mart is rising and will probably continue to rise and then accelerate.

Woodruff: So while people are thinking that goods are cheaper from China, you're saying the prices go up. It affects so many things that we buy in this country. What of Russia and how its economy is doing?

Soros: Basically, the country is benefiting from the high price of oil, but, at the same time, it is reestablishing a very authoritarian regime where the rights of investors are not respected. Now it is British Petroleum that is being chased out. So you invest at your own risk. I've done it and I'm not going to do it again.

Woodruff: So what you see in Russia tells us that political freedom and economic freedom are separable after all?

Soros: Well, the lack of political freedom also impinges on the rights of shareholders. So it's not a suitable area for investing exactly because you don't have the rule of law. China is improving a great deal. The rule of law is getting stronger in China, even though you don't have democracy.

Woodruff: The most attractive emerging market?

Soros: At this time, the outlook for India is also very good.

Woodruff: Let me mention two other points because they are so much on the minds of our leaders today. One is fighting the war on terror. Should the next president be prepared to sit down with the leaders of organizations like Hamas, like Hezbollah, countries like Iran?

Soros: Absolutely. I wrote another book arguing that the entire idea of a "war on terror" is a misleading concept that has got this country off on the wrong track.[2] It is responsible for our invading Iraq under the wrong pretenses and for a decline of our political influence and military power that has no precedent.

Woodruff: Where do you see the "war on terror" ten years down the road?

Soros: I hope that we will put it behind us. If you think in terms of human security and you say that the role of governments is to make the people secure, then it leads you to a completely different line of action. And even in Iraq, the surge, which was quite successful militarily, tried to provide protection for civilians, instead of just chasing terrorists whom we couldn't find after breaking into houses and terrifying the people. Concern for human security, making us feel safe and making the people in other countries feel safe: I think that would get you to a totally different line of action.

Woodruff: Bringing us back to this country in the midst of this economic credit crisis that you write about and that you've been describing, we are also in the middle of a presidential election. You endorsed Barack Obama the day he announced. Why him rather than your home state senator, Senator Clinton?

Soros: Well, I have very high regard for Hillary Clinton, but I think Obama has the charisma and the vision to radically reorient America in the world. And that is what we need because I'm afraid we have gotten off the right track and we need to have a greater discontinuity than Hillary Clinton would bring.

Woodruff: You have no concern that he lacks the experience to lead in this dangerous time that we live in?

Soros: I think that he has shown himself to be a really unusual person. And I think this emphasis on experience is way overdone because he will have exactly the same advisers available as Hillary Clinton, and it will be a matter of judgment whom he chooses. And actually, he is more likely to bring in new blood, which is what we need.

Woodruff: Recently, Senator Obama has endorsed some of the things we've been talking about: greater financial regulation, having for example the Federal Housing Administration insure unaffordable mortgages against default. Do you think this goes far enough, what he's talking about? Did he talk with you at all?

Soros: No, I've had absolutely no contact with him or any of the Democratic leadership on this issue. Now that my book is out, maybe I will in the future. But these are my ideas and they are not responsible for them.

Woodruff: From what you know about what he's saying about the housing crisis, do you think he goes far enough?

Soros: No, nothing right now goes far enough and Representative Barney Frank, who really understands the issues, is not pushing that far because, in order to get bipartisan support, you can't. So if you want something done, you have to set your sights lower. And that is what he has done and I think he is getting a few things through. But they are not enough.

Woodruff: A larger question on the campaign—you gave, I believe, something like $23 million in 2004 to various Democratic efforts: MoveOn.org and candidates. Far less than that so far this year—why the change?

Soros: Well, because I think that was a unique time when not having President Bush reelected would have made the situation of this country and of the world much better. I think now it's less important. And, in any case, I don't feel terribly comfortable being a partisan person because I look forward to being critical of the next Democratic administration.

Woodruff: What of your book and the philosophy that comes of it?

Soros: In human affairs, as distinguished from natural science, I argue that our understanding is imperfect. And our imperfect understanding introduces an element of uncertainty that's not there in natural phenomena. So therefore you can't predict human affairs in the same way as you can natural phenomena. And we have to come to terms with the implication of our own misunderstandings, that it's very hard to make decisions when you know you may be wrong. You have to learn to recognize that we in fact may be wrong. And, even worse than that, it's almost inevitable that all of our constructs will have some kind of a flaw in them. So when it comes to currencies, no currency system is perfect.

So you have to recognize that all of our constructions are imperfect. We have to improve them. But just because something is imperfect, the opposite is not perfect. So because of the failures of socialism, communism, we have come to believe in market fundamentalism, that markets are perfect; everything will be taken care of by markets. And markets are not perfect. And this time we have to recognize that, because we are facing a very serious economic disruption.

Now, we should not go back to a very highly regulated economy because the regulators are imperfect. They're only human and what is worse, they are bureaucratic. So you have to find the right kind of balance between allowing the markets to do their work, while recognizing that they are imperfect. You need authorities that keep the market under scrutiny and some degree of control. That's the message that I'm trying to get across.

Bill Moyers

Obama's Victory Lap -- Courtesy of Electopundit

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Meghan O'Sullivan

Mildred Loving

Obituary here.

Frank Rich -- On Hagee/Wright Double Standard

Article here.

Ref. Desk Thought for the Day

THOUGHT OF THE DAY:
"The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one." - Elbert Hubbard

From Reference Desk

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Depiction of Arabs, Muslims in Movies

Article here.

Exercise is Even Better Than You Thought

Especially for those who have an illness.

From NY Times:

You Name It, and Exercise Helps It
By JANE E. BRODY
Randi considers the Y.M.C.A. her lifeline, especially the pool. Randi weighs more than 300 pounds and has borderline diabetes, but she controls her blood sugar and keeps her bright outlook on life by swimming every day for about 45 minutes.

Randi overcame any self-consciousness about her weight for the sake of her health, and those who swim with her and share the open locker room are proud of her. If only the millions of others beset with chronic health problems recognized the inestimable value to their physical and emotional well-being of regular physical exercise.

“The single thing that comes close to a magic bullet, in terms of its strong and universal benefits, is exercise,” Frank Hu, epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health, said in the Harvard Magazine.

I have written often about the protective roles of exercise. It can lower the risk of heart attack, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression, dementia, osteoporosis, gallstones, diverticulitis, falls, erectile dysfunction, peripheral vascular disease and 12 kinds of cancer.

But what if you already have one of these conditions? Or an ailment like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, congestive heart failure or osteoarthritis? How can you exercise if you’re always tired or in pain or have trouble breathing? Can exercise really help?

You bet it can. Marilyn Moffat, a professor of physical therapy at New York University and co-author with Carole B. Lewis of “Age-Defying Fitness” (Peachtree, 2006), conducts workshops for physical therapists around the country and abroad, demonstrating how people with chronic health problems can improve their health and quality of life by learning how to exercise safely.

Up and Moving

“The data show that regular moderate exercise increases your ability to battle the effects of disease,” Dr. Moffat said in an interview. “It has a positive effect on both physical and mental well-being. The goal is to do as much physical activity as your body lets you do, and rest when you need to rest.”

In years past, doctors were afraid to let heart patients exercise. When my father had a heart attack in 1968, he was kept sedentary for six weeks. Now, heart attack patients are in bed barely half a day before they are up and moving, Dr. Moffat said.

The core of cardiac rehab is a progressive exercise program to increase the ability of the heart to pump oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood more effectively throughout the body. The outcome is better endurance, greater ability to enjoy life and decreased mortality.

The same goes for patients with congestive heart failure. “Heart failure patients as old as 91 can increase their oxygen consumption significantly,” Dr. Moffat said.

Aerobic exercise lowers blood pressure in people with hypertension, and it improves peripheral circulation in people who develop cramping leg pains when they walk — a condition called intermittent claudication. The treatment for it, in fact, is to walk a little farther each day.

In people who have had transient ischemic attacks, or ministrokes, “gradually increasing exercise improves blood flow to the brain and may diminish the risk of a full-blown stroke,” Dr. Moffat said. And aerobic and strength exercises have been shown to improve endurance, walking speed and the ability to perform tasks of daily living up to six years after a stroke.

As Randi knows, moderate exercise cuts the risk of developing diabetes. And for those with diabetes, exercise improves glucose tolerance — less medication is needed to control blood sugar — and reduces the risk of life-threatening complications.

Perhaps the most immediate benefits are reaped by people with joint and neuromuscular disorders. Without exercise, those at risk of osteoarthritis become crippled by stiff, deteriorated joints. But exercise that increases strength and aerobic capacity can reduce pain, depression and anxiety and improve function, balance and quality of life.

Water exercises are particularly helpful for people with multiple sclerosis, who must avoid overheating. And for those with Parkinson’s, resistance training and aerobic exercise can increase their ability to function independently and improve their balance, stride length, walking speed and mood.

Resistance training, along with aerobic exercise, is especially helpful for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; it helps counter the loss of muscle mass and strength from lack of oxygen.

In the February/March issue of ACE Certified News, Natalie Digate Muth, a registered dietitian and personal trainer, emphasized the value of a good workout for people suffering from depression. Mastering a new skill increases their sense of worth, social contact improves mood, and the endorphins released during exercise improve well-being.

“Exercise is an important adjunct to pharmacological therapy, and it does not matter how severe the depression — exercise works equally well for people with moderate or severe depression,” wrote Ms. Muth, who is pursuing a medical degree at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Feel-Good Hormones

Healthy people may have difficulty appreciating the burdens faced by those with chronic ailments, Dr. Nancey Trevanian Tsai noted in the same issue of ACE Certified News. “Oftentimes, disease-ridden statements — like ‘I’m a diabetic’ — become barricades that keep clients from seeing themselves getting better,” she said, and many feel “enslaved by their diseases and treatments.”

But the feel-good hormones released through exercise can help sustain activity.

“With regular exercise, the body seeks to continue staying active,” wrote Dr. Tsai, an assistant professor of neurosciences at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. She recommended an exercise program tailored to the person’s current abilities, daily needs, medication schedule, side effects and response to treatment.

She urged trainers who work with people with chronic ailments to start slowly with easily achievable goals, build gradually on each accomplishment and focus on functional gains. Over time, a sense of accomplishment, better sleep, less pain and enhanced satisfaction with life can become further reasons to pursue physical activity.

“Even if exercise is tough to schedule,” Dr. Moffat said, “you feel so much better, it’s crazy not to do it.”

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

DC's Most Over-Rated Restaurants

According to Wonkette, via gridskipper. This is a two part list, and i totally agree with most of volume 2, which is copied here:

Our first post about overrated eating in the District was wildly popular. As a result, we're putting together a list of the rest of the worst in Washington. From the Old Ebbitt Grill to Circa at Dupont, it seems this city is filled with half-assed eats. (photo)



Raku
1900 Q St NW, Washington, DC 20009

Gridskipper readers reamed me for not including Raku on the first list, and I agree: it was an egregious omission. The restaurant draws crowds for having some prime outdoor seating. But the fun stops there. Reports of food sickness, overpriced meals and of being generally underwhelmed abound.

The Old Ebbitt Grill
675 15th Street, Washington, DC 20005
I really don't care if the crab cakes here are fabulous. This place is always so jammed with tourists, I'm convinced that the restaurant has some unspoken agreement with every hotel, guidebook and airline flying in and out of the area.

Circa at Dupont
We Dupont Circle residents waited so eagerly for this place to open. For months we speculated about what delightful treats it would serve. We imagined ourselves sun-drenched and beautiful, sipping wine on Circa's terrace. We were even foolish enough to claim that "this is exactly the place Dupont needs." We were wrong. Spongy calamari (a BIG no-no in my book), paired with terrible service and a side of Amy Grant, Celine Dion and John Mayer on the sound system is a recipe for utter disappointment.

Perry's
1811 Columbia Road, Washington, D.C., 20009
I'm not sure why so many Gridskipper readers are hating on Perry's. I like their roof deck. And then there are the drag queens, of course. All that said, the lines that form outside this place might lead one to believe that the food inside is over-the-top amazing. I can safely say it's just fine.

Café Milano
3251 Prospect Street NW, Washington, DC 2007
Any restaurant that boasts on its web site how often it feeds celebrities (and I'm talking boring DC celebrities, like CNN anchors) has got to serve some pathetic food. As for me, I've never eaten there, but many Gridskipper readers say it's more than bleh
.

Sign of a Decline in Empire

The NYT had an article recently about Korean teenagers wanting to attend US ivy league schools. This reminded me of how in the waning days of the British Empire, all of the elites in the former colonies wanted to send their kids to Oxford and Cambridge. Is this yet another, albeit, subtle sign of an America in decline and the rise of Asia? This country deserves so much better leadership than it is currently getting.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Clueless in America

Herbert article here.




April 22, 2008
Op-Ed Columnist
Clueless in America
By BOB HERBERT
We don’t hear a great deal about education in the presidential campaign. It’s much too serious a topic to compete with such fun stuff as Hillary tossing back a shot of whiskey, or Barack rolling a gutter ball.

The nation’s future may depend on how well we educate the current and future generations, but (like the renovation of the nation’s infrastructure, or a serious search for better sources of energy) that can wait. At the moment, no one seems to have the will to engage any of the most serious challenges facing the U.S.

An American kid drops out of high school every 26 seconds. That’s more than a million every year, a sign of big trouble for these largely clueless youngsters in an era in which a college education is crucial to maintaining a middle-class quality of life — and for the country as a whole in a world that is becoming more hotly competitive every day.

Ignorance in the United States is not just bliss, it’s widespread. A recent survey of teenagers by the education advocacy group Common Core found that a quarter could not identify Adolf Hitler, a third did not know that the Bill of Rights guaranteed freedom of speech and religion, and fewer than half knew that the Civil War took place between 1850 and 1900.

“We have one of the highest dropout rates in the industrialized world,” said Allan Golston, the president of U.S. programs for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In a discussion over lunch recently he described the situation as “actually pretty scary, alarming.”

Roughly a third of all American high school students drop out. Another third graduate but are not prepared for the next stage of life — either productive work or some form of post-secondary education.

When two-thirds of all teenagers old enough to graduate from high school are incapable of mastering college-level work, the nation is doing something awfully wrong.

Mr. Golston noted that the performance of American students, when compared with their peers in other countries, tends to grow increasingly dismal as they move through the higher grades:

“In math and science, for example, our fourth graders are among the top students globally. By roughly eighth grade, they’re in the middle of the pack. And by the 12th grade, U.S. students are scoring generally near the bottom of all industrialized countries.”

Many students get a first-rate education in the public schools, but they represent too small a fraction of the whole.

Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, offered a brutal critique of the nation’s high schools a few years ago, describing them as “obsolete” and saying, “When I compare our high schools with what I see when I’m traveling abroad, I am terrified for our work force of tomorrow.”

Said Mr. Gates: “By obsolete, I don’t just mean that they are broken, flawed or underfunded, though a case could be made for every one of those points. By obsolete, I mean our high schools — even when they’re working as designed — cannot teach all our students what they need to know today.”

The Educational Testing Service, in a report titled “America’s Perfect Storm,” cited three powerful forces that are affecting the quality of life for millions of Americans and already shaping the nation’s future. They are:

• The wide disparity in the literacy and math skills of both the school-age and adult populations. These skills, which play such a tremendous role in the lives of individuals and families, vary widely across racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups.

• The “seismic changes” in the U.S. economy that have resulted from globalization, technological advances, shifts in the relationship of labor and capital, and other developments.

• Sweeping demographic changes. By 2030, the U.S. population is expected to reach 360 million. That population will be older and substantially more diverse, with immigration having a big impact on both the population as a whole and the work force.

These and so many other issues of crucial national importance require an educated populace if they are to be dealt with effectively. At the moment we are not even coming close to equipping the population with the intellectual tools that are needed.

While we’re effectively standing in place, other nations are catching up and passing us when it comes to educational achievement. You have to be pretty dopey not to see the implications of that.

But, then, some of us are pretty dopey. In the Common Core survey, nearly 20 percent of respondents did not know who the U.S. fought in World War II. Eleven percent thought that Dwight Eisenhower was the president forced from office by the Watergate scandal. Another 11 percent thought it was Harry Truman.

We’ve got work to do.

Smiths -- This Charming Man

Googoosh

Life in a Northern Town -- Dream Academy

Hit That Perfect Beat -- Bronski Boys

What Have I done To Deserve This



With the Great Dusty Springfield

Monday, April 21, 2008

More Jacoby

From LA Times, here.

Finding an Apartment in NY

This is a great article about finding your first apartment in NY.

Michael Kinsey on Charlie Rose

Kinsey has some great perspective on the election. I had no idea he had Parkinson's.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Mid-East Oil Demand

Oil demand in the mid-east is helping to fuel (ahem) prices.

Also, the weak dollar---oil is priced in dollars---has also contributed to oil prices rising (you need more ...weak... dollars for the same barrel of oil.

There is also alot of mid-east tension premium (ie. Iran worries) built into the oil market.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Tom Shales Slams ABC

The whole debate was shameful. ABC needs to look at BBC News to see what real journalism can be.

In Pa. Debate, The Clear Loser Is ABC

By Tom Shales
Thursday, April 17, 2008; C01



When Barack Obama met Hillary Clinton for another televised Democratic candidates' debate last night, it was more than a step forward in the 2008 presidential election. It was another step downward for network news -- in particular ABC News, which hosted the debate from Philadelphia and whose usually dependable anchors, Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos, turned in shoddy, despicable performances.

For the first 52 minutes of the two-hour, commercial-crammed show, Gibson and Stephanopoulos dwelled entirely on specious and gossipy trivia that already has been hashed and rehashed, in the hope of getting the candidates to claw at one another over disputes that are no longer news. Some were barely news to begin with.

The fact is, cable networks CNN and MSNBC both did better jobs with earlier candidate debates. Also, neither of those cable networks, if memory serves, rushed to a commercial break just five minutes into the proceedings, after giving each candidate a tiny, token moment to make an opening statement. Cable news is indeed taking over from network news, and merely by being competent.

Gibson sat there peering down at the candidates over glasses perched on the end of his nose, looking prosecutorial and at times portraying himself as a spokesman for the working class. Blunderingly he addressed an early question, about whether each would be willing to serve as the other's running mate, "to both of you," which is simple ineptitude or bad manners. It was his job to indicate which candidate should answer first. When, understandably, both waited politely for the other to talk, Gibson said snidely, "Don't all speak at once."

For that matter, the running-mate question that Gibson made such a big deal over was decidedly not a big deal -- especially since Wolf Blitzer asked it during a previous debate televised and produced by CNN.

The boyish Stephanopoulos, who has done wonders with the network's Sunday morning hour, "This Week" (as, indeed, has Gibson with the nightly "World News"), looked like an overly ambitious intern helping out at a subcommittee hearing, digging through notes for something smart-alecky and slimy. He came up with such tired tripe as a charge that Obama once associated with a nutty bomb-throwing anarchist. That was "40 years ago, when I was 8 years old," Obama said with exasperation.

Obama was right on the money when he complained about the campaign being bogged down in media-driven inanities and obsessiveness over any misstatement a candidate might make along the way, whether in a speech or while being eavesdropped upon by the opposition. The tactic has been to "take one statement and beat it to death," he said.

No sooner was that said than Gibson brought up, yet again, the controversial ravings of the pastor at a church attended by Obama. "Charlie, I've discussed this," he said, and indeed he has, ad infinitum. If he tried to avoid repeating himself when clarifying his position, the networks would accuse him of changing his story, or changing his tune, or some other baloney.

This is precisely what has happened with widely reported comments that Obama made about working-class people "clinging" to religion and guns during these times of cynicism about their federal government.

"It's not the first time I made a misstatement that was mangled up, and it won't be the last," said Obama, with refreshing candor. But candor is dangerous in a national campaign, what with network newsniks waiting for mistakes or foul-ups like dogs panting for treats after performing a trick. The networks' trick is covering an election with as little emphasis on issues as possible, then blaming everyone else for failing to focus on "the issues."

Some news may have come out of the debate (ABC News will pretend it did a great job on today's edition of its soppy, soap-operatic "Good Morning America"). Asked point-blank if she thought Obama could defeat presumptive Republican contender John McCain in the general election, Clinton said, "Yes, yes, yes," in apparent contrast to previous remarks in which she reportedly told other Democrats that Obama could never win. And in turn, Obama said that Clinton could "absolutely" win against McCain.

To this observer, ABC's coverage seemed slanted against Obama. The director cut several times to reaction shots of such Clinton supporters as her daughter, Chelsea, who sat in the audience at the Kimmel Theater in Philly's National Constitution Center. Obama supporters did not get equal screen time, giving the impression that there weren't any in the hall. The director also clumsily chose to pan the audience at the very start of the debate, when the candidates made their opening statements, so Obama and Clinton were barely seen before the first commercial break.

At the end, Gibson pompously thanked the candidates -- or was he really patting himself on the back? -- for "what I think has been a fascinating debate." He's entitled to his opinion, but the most fascinating aspect was waiting to see how low he and Stephanopoulos would go, and then being appalled at the answer.