Democrats & Liberals Archives

9/11- Four Years Later

I remember a time when it was easier to smile, when I still felt young. I’m not a very old person. I’ll be twenty-six in a month. I’m in a strange place as a person. My birthdate puts me in the position of having lived virtually all my childhood during the Cold War, All my adolescence during the Clinton years, and now my adulthood beginning during the Bush administration.

I wish I lived in less important times, but also I wish some would realize the almost irreplaceable opportunities that such Catastrophes give us to put away the childish notions of the past.

The word sacrifice comes about in relation to such loss. There was a time when I objected to the use of that word because it implied something willingly given up. I still think that applies to the massacre of people that the event caused.

The real sacrifice was giving up the immature sensibilities we were so obsessed with beforehand. For a while, America remembered that we and our government have a loyalty to something greater than party or personal interests.

And now the sacrifice comes again, in the wake of another devastating disaster. It was amazing to see Americans once more cry out together on behalf of the storm victims. Only this time, we were crying out against our own governments, because they bungled the response.

For decades, politicians have been dividing folks. I'm not going to get into the partisan bickering of who's to blame, or justify the games that some will play about who broke the peace first. Fact of the matter is, we let something very important slip away, and seem to be quickly losing today: the sense that we all face the same challenges, the same dangers, the same human weaknesses as one society. Many issues affects regardless of how we politically fall, and the solutions work or don't work with little regard for the politics of those who employ them.

We live in one world, viewed through many different eyes, seen through many different points of view. The beauty of America has always been the freedom that people have had to form their views for themselves, and express their opinions from those freely. This works towards our common needs as a nation. It works for it because the marketplace of ideas allows people to buy according to quality, rather than be forced to buy according to the wishes and desires of others.

If the Chinese suffered these disasters, and their people bungled things this badly, it would be a darkly whispered rumor, not a full fledged controversy. America constantly attempts to sort the truth from the lies, reliable information from the unreliable. Therein lies America's strength: The leaders cannot demand the favor of the people, nor can their plans be dictated as the wisest course. The Wisdom and the justice of our government's operations are open to debate, and the question of what political party is correct on the issues is likewise eternally unsettled.

Other nations try to limit the chaos of differing opinions. We ride it. Because we live in one reality, in the presence of sufficient information, and a minimum of corruption, our system can do better than any monarchy, communist regime, or other system in taking care of its own.

Unfortunately, there are those who limit our information, and those whose ears grow sharper or deafer according to what pocketbooks are open. Neither party is proof from that. We have James Traficant, and those folks who were more interested in Casinos in Louisiana, and Republicans have Tom DeLay, Duke Cunningham, and the friends of Jack Abramoff. Corruption cannot be tolerated in a Democracy, open or hidden. It's the arteriosclerosis of democracy. We have to ask why certain companies get favored for things like the New Orleans reconstruction efforts, without the process being open to others. We have to ask why we're paying all that money for high technology weapons systems that obviously aren't seeing battlefield use.

Worse yet are those who don't trust the American people to make the right decisions when well-informed. Perhaps we might get it wrong, but maybe we'd have the chance to repent of our decisions, if things didn't turn out right, not find out later that we were conned into them. America is a nation of adults who want to be treated that way.

The concerns of adults, as we all know, require the sacrifice of childish impulses- the impulse to have total control over one's life, the impulses both to pursue success relentlessly, and neglect it for an easier life, the impulse to act recklessly, and the impulse to be irresponsible with one's money and one's conduct.

I've been reading a book by Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen called Figments of Reality, within which the notion is put forward that evolution is not driven by the grim reaper, inevitable death, but the grim sower, the exuberant tendency of life to produce more children than can possibly survive or be sustained. We can see it's workings in many invertebrate life-forms in the production of thousands of eggs from one set of parents, of which few reach maturity. They then speak about privilege, their notion of parent's passing on certain genetic advantages to counter the grim sower's relentless requirement of reproduction, so that few children need be born for more to survive.

Among those attributes, they argue, is the more powerful nervous system that mammal's and other creatures possess, and the learning and experience that allows. We, they argue, are products of the inevitable increase in the sophistication of that nervous system, and the culture that complicitly develops with that nervous system.

We, like all creatures, try to produce more children than will die of disease, violence, and predation. But our brains, our precious inner world that it sustain, give us an extraordinary advantage that science and technology have magnified greatly.

The natural impulse, when faced with a survival situation, therefore, is two-fold: we care for our own more, become more focused on the welfare of the community as whole, and we start trying to think our way out of the complex problems we face. We want, in the face of an attack like 9/11, a war like we have in Iraq, and a disaster like we had with Katrina, to do two things: Solve the problems presented to us, and lead lives less built on unimportant things, particular those that distracted us from what was truly important in life.

Naturally, these impulses fade over time as the filling of our needs dulls us to the cause of action, and the less important things in life assert their pull on our attention, but the slide towards complacency need not be as inevitable or as complete as it sometimes becomes. One of my great disappointments in the wake of 9/11 was the failure of our leaders to use that tragedy as a real call towards heroic behavior. We were essentially called to treat the situation as a speed bump in American history taken at too much speed.

Changing our lives, rethinking our consumerist lifestyles was regarded as letting the terrorist win. Comfort yourself in SUVs and with big screen TV's, spend, don't save, take these tax cuts and don't let go of them. Our leaders failed to truly call America to arms in this war, by making sustaining material growth, regardless of the means, a priority over our growth as a society out of this disaster. Four years later, we know full well the price of that lack of vision. America is worse off than it was four years ago, not better. It's culture is maturing somewhat, under the strains of a war and a disaster that is confronting us with the reality our privilege normally insulates us from, but it has not risen to the challenge of building a better society out of the remains of the old one.

Not yet. The time for that has come, though. We can't afford leadership that doesn't bring out the best in us. Our leadership must not ask us to join themselves in moral squalor. They should not ask us to give up our freedoms to weather these crises, especially the crucial freedom to disagree with them about their handling of it. Inevitably, matters of party difference will creep into who is asking who to be held accountable, but that cannot and should not mean that those who did things they need to answer for should be let off the hook.

The fact of the matter is, riding herd on our government and attaining better discipline in our lives after such disasters is not a panicked emotional reaction, but an entirely rational response to the kinds of cultural flaws that create or aggravate such disasters, or which are brought into sharp relief by them.

If there is one reason why I have spent the last year and a half writing on this sight, it is my belief that when such events occur, our leadership should inspire us to change for the better, not divert and exploit us in ways that debase ourselves and our culture. We need to understand our common needs and wishes for the welfare of our country, and start practicing more forgiving attitudes towards one another for our disagreements.

The divisions that weaken our country are not of opinion but that of good policy from bad, and between those who apologize for the bad policy, and those who demand that it be changed for the better. As long as we worshipfully defend leaders simply for standing up and saying what we want to hear from them, we will see our nation decline.

Our government, regardless of who is in power, must work for Americans, and those who run that government, whether it's large or small, must be qualified for their jobs and take pride in what they do, rather than regarding the job as an opportunity to bolster the selfish ends of themselves and their friends. Both of our parties have failed Americans in the past few years, on 9/11, on Iraq, and now on Katrina. The time has come to treat the decision we make on election day as referendum on governance and not ideology, and one not fixed to party, but to principles and values, and those candidates who demonstrate them in their actions. If that means the parties have a weaker hold on America's political landscape, so be it. It's as it's meant to be in a democracy like ours, where the impulse to divert support from those leaders who fail us is given the freedom to work its good in our lives.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at September 11, 2005 12:02 PM
Comments
Comment #79741
Stephen Daugherty wrote: The time has come to treat the decision we make on election day as referendum on governance and not ideology, and one not fixed to party, but to principles and values, and those candidates who demonstrate them in their actions. If that means the parties have a weaker hold on America’s political landscape, so be it.

Stephen, I applaud you and your article.

OK, how do we accomplish responsible and accountable government ?
Do you have a plan ?

Because, simply voting for other non-incumbent (preferrably non-main-party) candidates is not the entire solution (a good start though).
Even voting for 3rd party candidates is not the entire solution (even though they should be non-incumbents).
One thing more is needed too !, because government will not reform itself.

It is: the people should vote only for non-incumbents (preferrably, a non-main-party candidate),
every election, repeatedly,
until government adequately addresses the top 10 worst problems facing the nation.

Part of those top 10 problems is irresponsible and unaccountable government.
Therefore, Transparency must be implemented to resolve that problem, because it will then give the people an easy way to see who is irresponsible. There are lots of no-brainer things that could be done, but one simple example is: ONE purpose per bill
That would stop the waste, graft, pork-barrel, bribes and crap sneakin’ into huge ten thousand page bills that no one scrutinizes, and no one knows why a politician voted for or against the bill (or didn’t veto it). Other such, simple no-brainer solutions are abundant. Study everything that is abused, and make it more transparent, and punish those that abuse it (i.e. fire them, and take away their pension).
So, transparency is a key component to the solution.
That’s the only way the people will be able to see who to vote for, and who to vote out.

With the disastrous approval polls of Bush and the Republicans, Democrats think their turn is next.
Third parties are missing a supreme opportunity to now demonstrate, using history, and numerous examples to prove to the American people, that the two main parties, and their bigotry to keep 3rd party and independents off the ballots and away from the debates, is the core problem with government and our nation.

Thus, it’s not just voting for non-incumbents once.
It may be necessary every election, until politicians realize they’re career will be short if they continue to be irresponsible and unaccountable.
Also, it might be a good idea to try to recall the blatantly bad politicians, like Grey Davis in California was recalled. It’s hard, but not impossible.
Wouldn’t it be great though if politicians were fighting over who is the most responsible ?

One or more 3rd parties are missing the opportunity to champion this idea, to get America back on the right path again.

So, how do you force government to reform?
How do you do it peacefully, to balance power between government and the people, without merely shifting power and striping government of the power to do it’s job, or ending up with a dictatorship, or something worse ?
Any suggestions ?
If anyone has an idea to create more responsible and accountable government, please share it with us.
Perhaps, watchblog should have a contest or poll on ways to realistically create a more responsible and accountable government.

It just doesn’t seem to me that what we’ve been doing is working.
The two main parties just seem to be taking turns gettin’ theirs, fillin’ their pockets, peddling influence, and being fiscally and morally irresponsible and unaccountable.
And, it seems that government will never reform itself.
It seems voters, if they could ever find a reason or leadership, may be the only ones left that can now fix the problem.
And, what if it doesn’t work (i.e. voting out incumbents, repeatedly, every election, until the 10 most important issues are addressed) ? Is it worse than doing what we’ve been doing ?
How does 95% of the people (with only 41% of all wealth) get an equal voice in government controlled by 5% of the wealthiest with 59% of all wealth ?
The don’t. Not, unless they learn to vote in such a way that it removes the ability of the 5% that abuse vast wealth to buy and fund politicians.
One way to do that is get many more people on the ballots and stop voting for incumbents (for a while; until transparency is achieved).
Also, it makes it difficult for those that use and abuse vast wealth to know which candidate to fund. Currently, 90% of all elections are won by the person that spends the most money. Is that the kind of government we want ? No you say ? Well, that’s what we’ve got, and it’s not working is it ?
Currently, it doesn’t matter who we vote for. The politicians are bought and paid for (by the two main parties).
They’re not all excessively terrible people. They’re trapped in a corrupt, broken system.
But, only the voters can remedy the problem.

Posted by: d.a.n at September 11, 2005 2:07 PM
Comment #79743

Stephen,

I was born in ‘52, and raised just outside Los Angeles. I spent 2/3 of my life under the dark cloud of the cold war, living close to what was assuredly a prime target.
I remember the duck and cover drills, where you couldn’t ever know for sure if this was it or not, whether you were going to get out from under your desk. These drills happened every Friday and even during the summer those sirens went off like clockwork.

I also remember the paranoia of folks building fallout shalters in their back yards in the hope that they would never have to use them.
As I grew older I realized what a useless exercise that was and wondered why our government had given us the false hope that if we survived a nuclear attack there could be life outside those shelters.

All Presidents make mistakes, they are all human after all.
Most Presidents admit the mistakes and move on.
This one can’t see the forrest for the one tree he has been focused on.

The fight between the left and right in this country seems to have come down to what appears to be a struggle for the soul of the American people. Each side has good points but we have become mired in the tangentle.

H. L. Menken wrote;

“I believe that all government is evil, and that trying to improve it is largely a waste of time.”

While I don’t concur entirely with his observation, I belive that we have wasted a tremendous ammount of time and resources on issues that, in the big picture, don’t mean squat, and until our government, in general, and our President, in particular, begin to see the big picture, this will continue to be a collossal waste of time.

I don’t want an apology, I want action. Admit the mistakes and move on.

Posted by: Rocky at September 11, 2005 2:40 PM
Comment #79757

Stephen,

Excellant post!

i disagree that there is minimal corruption in our government. i think local, state and national corruption and its effects on society were laid bare in Katrina’s wake.

If there is one reason why I have spent the last year and a half writing on this sight, it is my belief that when such events occur, our leadership should inspire us to change for the better, not divert and exploit us in ways that debase ourselves and our culture. We need to understand our common needs and wishes for the welfare of our country, and start practicing more forgiving attitudes towards one another for our disagreements.

Well said! Thank you for writing and your time spent on WatchBlog.

May we all open ourselves to hearing those who are ‘other’ yet inextricably remain ‘us’.

Posted by: jo at September 11, 2005 4:15 PM
Comment #79761

Stephen,
Just an observation- we always feel today represents the most important time, a historical crux. For better or worse, these years are not particularly important years from a historical perspective.

The last major event of historical significance in our lifetime came with the fall of communism.

A few important underlying trends characterize the years since: globalization, the financial shift away from the US and towards the Far East, and global warming.

The economic shift away from oil has yet to occur, along with its political ramifications.

The rest is very interesting, but not especially important from a long-term perspective.

9/11, The War on Terror, Hurrican Katrina, and other events feel important, but are sideshows compared with the big picture.

Posted by: phx8 at September 11, 2005 4:49 PM
Comment #79764

d.a.n.-
All systems, whatever the degree of corruption they have, are the products of human judgment. To blame a system is to forget that we are the authors of the system, and therefore always to blame for it’s breakdown.

The question in times like these is why the errors were committed. The limitations we endure as human beings are always there, no matter how well we do. We do not know all things, we cannot see all ends of our decisions. So, a little forgiveness for this inextricable human error must be brought into the system. Otherwise good people suffer for mistakes they could not avoid.

But there are other errors which cannot be dismissed so easily, errors committed from negligence, irresponsibility, or even malice.

In terms of a plan, I have ideas, you’ve probably seen most of them. But really I lack the expertise to plan in the kind of detail that really would be useful. What I do have quite a bit of know-how is with information, so what I advocate is awareness. With awareness, those in the community with greater knowledge can bring their expertise to bear.

Expertise is important for other reasons. The thing to keep in mind here is that the real world has a way of messing up neat plans, so we need people who know what the plans ought to achieve, who can also work out new course of actions to replace those derailed by events.

My angle here is that we be capable of distancing ourselves from party interests when making decisions of this kind. Political theory is nice, but it can be disasterous when misapplied. Just ask the communists.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 11, 2005 5:35 PM
Comment #79771

phx8,

I understand what you’re saying about events feeling important (such as Katrina, 9/11, Iraq, etc.). The big picture is important.
Some things of important historical significance were the American Revolution, The American Civil War, The Great Depression, World War I & II.

The fiscal irresposibility and unaccountability of government now, is what will create the next event that can be added to that list of events of historical significance.

With $8 trillion in National Debt, representing $50 trillion in interest (alone) over the next 127 years (if we started paying it down now), waste, government for sale, many ignored problems growing in number and severity, it is difficult to see how we’re going to avoid another event of historical significance.

The nation is in decline. We not only have a massive $8 trillion National Debt, but pensions and GPBC are $1.6 in the hole, Medicare is trillions in the hole, Social Security has been plundered, Americans have $32 trillion in personal debt, health care is increasingly unaffordable & unreliable, education is decreasing in quality & increasing cost, and our infrastructure is crumbling before our eyes.

This is the result of long term selfishness, apathy, complacency, greed, and corruption.
And, it’s likely to get worse (as the you say) as the financial shift away from the U.S. continues (partly due to investors who are getting nervous about the U.S. fiscal irresponsibility), as America ages, as taxes climb to cover astronomical debt, and finally, as we sink into total fiscal and moral bankruptcy. What will it be like then ?

Yes. It will most likely find it’s place on that list of events of historical significance.

Posted by: d.a.n at September 11, 2005 6:05 PM
Comment #79775

Take a bow Stephen Daughtery, for this brilliant article.

“I wish I lived in less important times, but also I wish some would realize the almost irreplaceable opportunities that such Catastrophes give us to put away the childish notions of the past.”

In my case, 9/11 obliterated a good friend I’d kept close to me from childhood — which means it changed both my view of the future and in a very definitive way indeed, those childish notions of the past.

Thanks for writing this today — and for all your contributions here.

Posted by: Adrienne at September 11, 2005 6:30 PM
Comment #79776
Stephen Daugherty wrote: d.a.n.- All systems, whatever the degree of corruption they have, are the products of human judgment. To blame a system is to forget that we are the authors of the system, and therefore always to blame for it?s breakdown.

Stephen,
You are suggesting a plan (sort of).
Just not any details.
Yes, you, and many others are good at getting the information out there.
You and the others deserve much praise for that.

The thing to keep in mind here is that the real world has a way of messing up neat plans,…

Yes, that’s why it needs to be realistic. Despite what some may think, and as much as it seems like an easy and logical thing to do, it’s doubtful that people will ever vote out incumbents, repeatedly, until serious issues are addressed, no matter how irresponsible and unaccountable they become. It’s more likely we’ll have to sink to rock bottom first.
It’s more likely that only something drastic, life-changing, painful, and/or catastrophic will galvanize the voters to do organize and force reform and/or revolt. The most likely outcome will not be the available peaceful approach. When the people have finally had enough, they’ll most likely resort to civil unrest.

Why? Because history shows us that, and history tends to repeat itself, century after century.
Sure, each cycle is a little different, but the basics are the same.

Still, I try to hold out hope that we can resolve our problems, instead of waiting to sink to rock bottom.

Stephen, I haven’t seen the ideas you’ve written or spoke of (regarding government reform).

Also, who says you don’t have sufficient expertise?
Some knowledge of human psychology, economics, history, and mostly common sense is all that’s needed. It shouldn’t be trivialized, but it’s not rocket science either.

Can you tell me a few of your ideas, or direct me to a site that has some plans that you’d support to reform government ? Any ideas you’d like to share ?

And, what sort of economic forecast do you see for the next 5 to 15 years ?

Posted by: d.a.n at September 11, 2005 6:37 PM
Comment #79777

d.a.n.,
Yes, I’d agree, the deficits & debts are historically significant, and are part of the long-term trend transferring wealth and power from the US to the Far East.

Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to write about economic matters in an interesting matter.

9/11 provokes emotional reaction.

A possible inverted yield curve this spring, with 10 year Treasury Notes now at @ 4.1%, and the Federal Funds Rate about to go to up to 3.75%, and the recession usually implied by this trend towards inversion, with the potentially distastrous results-

Well, I could almost hear the yawns halfway through that paragraph.

There is an answer to the economic problem, d.a.n. A geo-green strategy could save our bacon. I’m not the first person to suggest this. Friedman supports this thinking. So does Al Gore. The Greens get it, to some extent.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of entrenched interests opposed to changes, and no one represents these entrenched interests to the extent of the current administration.

These years are wasted years for our country. Let’s hope our country enough time to work with.

Posted by: phx8 at September 11, 2005 6:40 PM
Comment #79778

Stephen,

Wow, Stephen, I would never have guessed how much we have in common. I figured you to be someone older and wiser than myself, and we are in fact of a very similiar age and enforced maturity. Hmm.

“Solve the problems presented to us, and lead lives less built on unimportant things, particular those that distracted us from what was truly important in life.”

I think part of what causes this very important impulse to fade is the ineffective responses to our efforts that we perceive. However true or false it is, many of the problems we face seem too big to handle. The sad part is, IMO, that while these problems are too big for any one of us to handle, they are not too big for all of us (or even most of us) to handle together. How do we strike up that accord, that mutual sense of need and ability, without resorting to partisan politics to figure out how to accomplish what most of us realize must happen?

“Our leaders failed to truly call America to arms in this war, by making sustaining material growth, regardless of the means, a priority over our growth as a society out of this disaster.”

What, you mean buy more and buy American aren’t the answers to all our problems? Who woulda thunk it?

Sometimes, I look at historical records of America’s at-home WWI & WWII efforts, or even the at-home efforts during our own Civil War, and I wonder why it is something similiar isn’t going on now. And how, how do we go about starting something like that, giving us all something to focus on, to unite over, that will help our troops in their efforts to bring down the terrorists and, most importantly, to win?

“We need to understand our common needs and wishes for the welfare of our country, and start practicing more forgiving attitudes towards one another for our disagreements.”

I agree completely and also agree Watchblog seems a great place to start…and yet, action seems so difficult to attain from this jumping point. I would very much like to know how to go about affecting change!

“The time has come to treat the decision we make on election day as referendum on governance and not ideology…”

I agree, but election day is a ways off yet. Do you, does anyone, know what we can do NOW? Somehow, we need to stand up united and say, “Enough bickering! Do the job we hired you to do!”

Posted by: Stephanie at September 11, 2005 6:40 PM
Comment #79779

Yes, I thought Stephen Daugherty was much older.
And, many probably think I’m much younger.
: )

Stephen, you should be proud to have the wisdom you have at a mere 26. Congratulations !

Posted by: d.a.n at September 11, 2005 6:47 PM
Comment #79782

d.a.n. said:

“Theyre not all excessively terrible people. Theyre trapped in a corrupt, broken system.
But, only the voters can remedy the problem.”

Have we truly decended so far that we can only remedy it with a vote? Is there nothing we can do NOW before things get even worse?

Rocky said:

“I dont want an apology, I want action. Admit the mistakes and move on.”

I couldn’t agree more…and I believe that applies to all of us. More action is needed.

jo said:

“i think local, state and national corruption and its effects on society were laid bare in Katrinas wake.”

True, but compared to other nations and other places, where a forum such as this couldn’t even exist, we’re not as corrupt as we could be. However, I really do agree that while America is better than [fill-in-the-blank], that isn’t enough. America has such a great potential, and we’ve been lax in living up to it.

phx8 said:

“9/11, The War on Terror, Hurrican Katrina, and other events feel important, but are sideshows compared with the big picture.”

While I might be able to agree with that, I have to ask… In your opinion, what is the big picture?

Adrienne said:
“Take a bow Stephen Daughtery, for this brilliant article.”

Yes, this is certainly a praise-worthy article and I hope it hits where it’s needed most, and hits hard.

phx8 also wrote:
“Well, I could almost hear the yawns halfway through that paragraph.”

For me it was more of “scratches head” sort of thing. So, in English (versus mathematics), what does that mean?

Posted by: Stephanie at September 11, 2005 7:16 PM
Comment #79783

Yes, Stephanie.
Many of us would like to bring about change.
If it is possible, it won’t be easy.
And, even if it’s not possible, which no one can know for certain, can we afford to not try ?

(1) I’d like to find a way to convince third parties to get on all the ballots, regardless of funding, and provide more choices.

(2) Then, the 3rd parties need to tell Americans how the two main parties are just taking turns gettin’ theirs, and ruining it for the rest of us.

(3) Then, the voters need to start doing what they’re supposed to be doing: start voting out the irresponsible, greedy, and corrupt politicians. If they don’t start soon, it will be too late, and they’ll only have themselves to thank for it.

Our nation is in decline. It’s dying a death of a thousand cuts. It’s not invincible. It can’t take much more.

At the very least, we’re probably looking at a severe recession in the next year or so.

And, commerce and wealth are quickly leaving this country, as it becomes a less respected republic, and more, a feared empire.

I used to laugh and be puzzled by the claims that the U.S. is an imperialist structure. I’m now embarrassed to admit it may be true.

Like Stephen, I remember better times (and I’m 47).
The U.S. has always had some problems (Cold War, Korea, Vietnam, civil rights struggles, etc.), but nothing like now. It’s not just our imagination. Government, is getting out of control, and the people are tolerating it. We are unfortunately, in an era of selfishness, corruption, corporatism, apathy, complacency, greed, and fiscal & moral bankruptcy.

Please, everyone/anyone…please suggest some ideas to force government reform.
Anything ?

Until something better comes along, my advice is to start votin’ ‘em all out, repeatedly, until things improve. Even if it doesn’t work, it might be fun to vote out some crooked politicians every election.

Posted by: d.a.n at September 11, 2005 7:18 PM
Comment #79786

d.a.n.,

“Please, everyone/anyoneplease suggest some ideas to force government reform.
Anything ?”

Letter writing campaigns, civil marches, vigils…pull out all the old tricks that have worked in the past for spefic causes and spread the news. Immediate, planned, united, active responses to better represent the American People in the face of the American Government.

We don’t all have to agree on everything, but as we’ve seen here on Watchblog, there are some very significant things most of us do agree on that if we acted…if we could convince our fellows to act with us…then we could affect change. If everyone that wanted more transparency in our government literally took a day off, all on the SAME day, would that be enough to affect change? Would that be enough to at least get the government’s attention?

If we all actually took the day off, Biblical-style where a day off literally meant a day off: no working, no shopping, no driving around, no flying and traveling, just quiet, reflective, boy-cotting of a day. Does anyone think that would be enough to get our government to sit up and notice? Does anyone think such a movement is possible in a time such as ours? Am I totally delusional to honestly believe that there’s something effective we can do NOW?

Posted by: Stephanie at September 11, 2005 7:32 PM
Comment #79787

phx8-
The greatest danger to a system is when everything is running at threshold. Some might think that running things like that means running them efficiently, but the fact of the matter is that any such system is balanced on the edge of breakdown. We already saw that happen in Louisiana and across the gulf coast, as years of corruption came home to roost in an ineffective response on all levels. Here’s a NYT article on the bungled relief effort.

There’s a book by James Gleick called Faster which also demonstrates the problem that working on threshold has for airlines. Gleick lays out that the way many airlines economize on their expenses is to take plans on multi-stepped flights through the country. It’s a rather efficient system, under ideal conditions, where one jet takes care of several flights. But when bad weather comes along, it spells trouble, because an interruption in those routes mean that all the flights that depended on this single jet, instead of locally flown ones, are now without a plane to fly.

Planning with breakdowns in mind means having backups, having some fat to burn before one has to cannibalize functional resources to make up for that which isn’t. The lesson gets taught again and again, and people learn it again and again.

d.a.n.-
Which brings me to your points. You’re a bit on a financial tangent, but it feeds into the notion of a society in a liminal state. What we need at this point is for Bush to ask for the funds now, directly from the voters. We can’t afford to take this on from an angle of additional spending alone, though. The way in which this economy works counts on more than just numbers and dollars and cents, or even the psychology people count on.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 11, 2005 7:33 PM
Comment #79792

Stephen,
Give me something a bit more concrete. Money and psychology are big factors. So are economics, and common sense. Come on…how about one of your ideas ? And how about a forecast 5 to 15 years from now ? I’m very interested in your view point. Go ahead…go out on a limb a bit. Tell us what you think might work ?

Stephanie,
I like those ideas. I’ve got friends and neighbors that are genuinely interested.
We’re thinkin’ about setting up more blogs and web-sites to promote 3rd parties gettin’ on the ballots. It’s time we confront the main parties that are trying to keep them off the ballots and out of the debates. We’re not supporting any particular candidate. We only want more choices at on the ballots. That’s part of the overall plan, because the main parties are part of the core problem. Also, we have some writers that may write some books. Some thing newspaper ads and TV ads might work. But TV ads are very expensive. I personally think the internet is the way to reach the now generation. I’m not sure how to reach the older generations that just worry about their Social Security benefits being cut, regardless of whose backs that burden falls on.

But, I want to invite any and all to suggest ways to reform government. It’s a serious issue. We need to work it out, and we may not have a lot of time to do it.

Posted by: d.a.n at September 11, 2005 8:07 PM
Comment #79796

Stephanie,
Here is a short article on inverted yield curves.

In a nutshell, if short term interest rates become higher than long term rates, a recession is highly likely.

Right now we’re looking at a short term rate- a Federal Funds Rate- of 3.75%. The Fed is steadily increasing that short term rate. The long term rate- for 10 year Treasury Notes- is @ 4.1%.

Stephen,
Yes, running at the threshhold may be efficient, but carries a huge risk, as any use of Just-In-Time Inventory management can attest.

It’s called ‘planning for a rainy day.’ And by the way, it’s the reason mandatory balanced budgets are a bad idea.

For some reason, this concept of planning for a rainy day seems to elude the Bush administration. The past five years have been characterized by reactions to events. There seems to be no domestic agenda other than tax cuts, and no discernible foreign agenda whatsoever, unless we count The War on Terror.

The ‘Big Picture’ items- the trends which are the major issues of our time, the hallmarks- go unaddressed.

We remain reliant upon oil.

We remain oblivious to Global Warming.

Economic power shifts to the Far East, while we run up deficits and debts without any political will to face the issues.

Globalization continues. What will we do?

A lot of people from all sides of the political debates have recently mentioned going with a third party. I’ve considered the same. I’ve even considered running for office. We’ll see.

Posted by: phx8 at September 11, 2005 8:45 PM
Comment #79808

d.a.n.-
Well, one concrete measure, which I will offer despite being a committed Democrat and liberal, is to encourage new parties to arise, shake things up a little. I’ve suggested before that they start small, going after local positions and building a record of governance, presumably good of course. Third Parties constantly make the mistake of trying to start big, or make big impressions, and forget that Democrats and Republicans alike started from grassroots. Otherwise, the parties typically act as splinter or protest groups, which generally contributes to the entrenchment of the two party system.

As for making big predictions half a decade to a decade and a half out, I don’t tend to do that because I know just how rapidly technology develops, and how fast history unfolds. Consider that five years ago, America’s worst terrorist attack was homegrown. fifteen years ago, there was still a Soviet Union, and the Back to the Future movies took the usual flying cars route to the 21st Century. Hell, that long ago, we hadn’t even fought the first Gulf War, much less the Second!

If I may, though, there’s two items of interest that may change things: 3rd Generation Wireless internet access and High Definition Video.

Why are these important? Imagine today’s news in razorsharp detail and cinematic scope. The news will become more immediate…

…and it will become easier for people to do this themselves. If you think the blogs are a headache for politicians now, imagine how they’ll be when they get media heavy, and some guy can transmit HD video on a broadband signal from a backpack to the internet?

It will get really interesting in terms of displays, too, because scientists are just beginning to figure out how to exploit nanotube carbon to create flexible, flat screen. Imagine being able to carry around a PC sized screen in your brief case. Hell, your briefcase could come standard with one!

But the big picture? Who knows.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 11, 2005 11:05 PM
Comment #79809

Everybody thinks they live the most trying times.

Ours is relatively uneventful, when you compare it to most others.

When you mention Katrina a couple years from now, nobody outside the affected region will be able to recall many details. 9/11 was more important because it changed the course of U.S. policy. But the fall of the Soviet Empire, Ronald Reagans defense buildup, the U.S. retreat from Vietnam, the Cuban missile crisis, sputnik, the invasion of Hungary, Soviet development of the H-bomb (the Rosenbergs etc) NATO and the Marshall Plan were certainly as big or bigger. And we havent even got to the really big contenders.

I think the problem is that the 1990s seemed so uneventful. They really werent, but they seemed that was and we got to thinking that all that normality was normal.

When I graduated from HS, the band played a rather somber march. My aunt said that the music was more triumphant when she graduated, to which in my youthful inexperience I replied that our generation had so many more challenges to deal with. My aunt reminded me that she graduated in June of 1940. Enough said.


Posted by: Jack at September 11, 2005 11:09 PM
Comment #79814

Jack-
I doubt the destruction of Two major American cities and numerous towns and villages along the coast will be easily forgotten. New Orleans and Biloxi have joined Galveston, Chicago, Atlanta, and San Francisco in the sad fraternity of cities which have had to rebuild from utter devastation.

It could also be the catalyst for changes in foreign policy, fiscal policy, the creation of a new part with strong grassroots support, or at the very least an end to the undisputed blocks of voter for the different parties in the different areas.

I agree that current events seem so much more important than events of the past, but then again, that’s not an unreasonable attitude given that you’re participating in history, rather than reading about it in some book. I think you’re right about the nineties being deceptively calm, though.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 12, 2005 12:39 AM
Comment #79817

phx8,

Your link didn’t work. But I think I get the general idea now.

Posted by: Stephanie at September 12, 2005 1:05 AM
Comment #79819

The nineties may have been deceptively calm, but look what they led up to…

Perhaps I’m simply a pessimist trying to choose optimism and failing (too much of a familiarity with manic-depression perhaps?), but 9/11 and what has followed in and of itself isn’t enough to break me out of my self-absorbtion. I would be all to happy to bury my head in the sand and ignore the outside world; my own household has enough troubles of its own that often threaten to overwhelm my feable efforts. Or better yet, send me to Narnia or Xanth, where the world has visible order that makes sense and seems managable from the outside.

But now, here in our reality, I see our society crumbling. And I’m too familiar with the history of human civilizations not to understand what that means. Sure, it may take 100 years or more for America to completely crumble away… but with a few more hits like 9/11 or Katrina I suspect it won’t take that long. As much as I’d rather remain ignorant, leaving my pessimistic thoughts to vestiges of science fiction or fantasy novels, I know that perhaps my voice might make some small difference. That, perhaps, I may be one of many voices that triggers change.

It’s taken me awhile to figure out why I’m here on Watchblog. It’s taken me some time to put into words why I bother. As much as I enjoy the intellectual dueling, it’s not enough to justify, even to myself, the amount of time I spend here, away from the pressing needs of my family and my household. If I accomplish nothing else here, I would like to be a voice that consistently begs the question: What can we do to affect actual change?

Posted by: Stephanie at September 12, 2005 1:24 AM
Comment #79823

Stephanie:

Buildings don’t matter. Airplanes don’t matter. What matters are the hearts and characters of the people.

Do you know when I knew America was in trouble? It was in 2000 when John McCain was smeared for having mental problems caused by his imprisonment. That John McCain fathered a black baby. That John McCain’s wife was a lesbian. When the pursuit of power supercedes common decency and respect, THAT was when I knew America was falling.

You can see it all around us. The rising poverty that’s hidden away. The growing number of uninsured. The segregation of neighborhoods, schools and churches. These things were happening long before 9/11. Osama Bin Ladin did not do this, we did it to ourselves. The pursuit of the “I” has blinded us to our world. It has made us insular and arrogant. Ignorant and foolish.

I am reminded of the Fall of Rome in many ways. The populace entertained by death and meaningless fluff. Survivor anyone? Our Senators and Congressmen have a lower turnover rate than the Soviet Politburo!!! This emphasis on profit and money, toys and guns.

Oh well, at least I live overseas…

Posted by: Aldous at September 12, 2005 3:39 AM
Comment #79827

America is what it is today because of a combination of what the two party system has done to it…a mutation over time so to speak…..that makes any attempt at a three-party or four party system pretty much a waste of time.

Decades-old back door deals by both parties over the years make anyone attempting to mount a serious nationial challange at reform meaningless.

Over the last few decades,John Anderson (remember him?),Ross Perot,and more recently the Greeen Party have tried to make a dent but all have gone down in flames.

American history is littered with the wreckage of new/alternative parties that fizzle out in short periods of time.

I have always felt that apathy by Americans has been the root of the problem…a certain feeling by many that the more things change the more they remain the same.

Nowaday,if 60% of voters turn out for an election it is called a “heavy” turnout.

Look at that percentage…that means a vote by 31% make a majority…the tail wags the dog…and that’s the wy it has been.

Talking individual identity here,what is a Republician or a Democrat?

Really it is boiling down to being liberal,moderate or conservative isn’t it?

I favor same sex marriage,education spending,health care reform,social security reform,a strong military,small government,tax cuts,am against abortion as a birth control device,favor acts such as the Patriot Act that limits personal liberties in times of war,and other issues that have me straddling the fence idealogically speaking between both parties…what am I then?

A certain percentage..I’d say a large percentage of Americans…have views that combine philosophies of both parties…yet when the curtain is drawn in the voting booth our choices are limited indeed.

Public scrutiny is killing potential candidates too.

Why run the risk of having something dragged up that took place decades ago and have your life/reputation ruined by proganda machines on both sides in the name of public service?

During the 60’s and 70’s I smoked pot for example…..everybody did (practicially) in Eastern colleges (where I attended).I am divorced.I don’t attend Church regularily.

Yet despite the fact that I have worked my rear off to send 3 kids thru college,never been arrested,don’t cheat on my taxes,have paid hundreds of thousands in taxes,own a home and contribute to my profession and community ,if I choose to run for public office,my name would be smeared unmercilessly (sic) by whoever is the opposite party.

Stephanie asked:what can we do?

Unfortunately,not too much.Absolute power corrupts absolutely as they say.

American society was created two and a half centuries ago by Europeans who first wiped out one race(the Native Americans) and then enslaved another (Africans)…in the name of the King,the Queen,and God.

However,since the dawn of time the above has occurred…be it Persians wiping out Assyrians,Greeks wiping out Egyptians,Romans wiping out other Europeans,Germans wiping out Jews,Cambodians wiping out other Cambosians,Africans wiping out other Africans……..all in the name of power.

Konrad Lorenz wrote a terrific book years ago on the subject called “On Agression”.

In that book,a study was conducted on rats.100 rats were taken from 100 different litters of rats and placed in a large container.A set of 2 rats from the same litter was placed in with the 100….two brothers

Within one week the two rats from the same liter had teamed up and killed the other 100.

From this study,Lorenz deduced that man and rats are the only two species that kill for reasons other than hunger.

Man and rats.

We are a flawed species,a violent species.

As great as America is,we have been involved in more wars that any county is history.

A Democrat deployed the atomic bomb.

Had a Republician been in office,he would probably have done the exact same thing.

I think getting our society better educated is the one and only answer.

We have physic and math teachers now who are about 3 pages ahead of their students in preparation.We have dolts teaching social studies…..usually athletic coaches who couldn’t tell Truman from Trotsky…we have no one teaching about Islam or its culturs and language right now…and I really don’t think one party is at fault here….there is plenty of blame to go around…..


Posted by: Sicilian Eagle at September 12, 2005 6:52 AM
Comment #79828

What do China, Japan, and many European nations have that America does not? A national educational system capable of adjusting curriculum to the changing needs of its nation’s economy. What do they lack that America has? Individual teachers, school boards, and curriculum capable of producing a diversity of opinions, truths, and “facts” as different from school to school, state to state, and graduate to drop out, as night and day in some cases, which preserves diversity and freedom of thought and ideas.

Question is, can we afford this much freedom in today’s world? Can we afford this much divisiveness, disunity, and political divide and yet remain one nation capable of attending its most funadamental and intractable problems? I don’t think so, but, your mileage may vary to say the least.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 12, 2005 7:44 AM
Comment #79829

Thanks Stephen Daugherty.
Those are good points.

No one knows what the future holds,
but I see sign posts ahead,
and they spell decline.

Yes, education in this country has some serious problems too.

Also, the problem is deep rooted within each of us. It’s part of a cycle.

Posted by: d.a.n at September 12, 2005 8:13 AM
Comment #79845

d.a.n.,

I am a bit confused about the never vote for the incumbant concept.

[1] What if the incumbant was doing a good job
[2] The Senate has 100 seats. At present 55 are held by Republicans and 45 by Democrats. Since a seat is a 6 year term, we have elections every 2 years, I understand that but, for sake of making a complex series of calculations into 1 simple one lets assume that the 100 seats come up every 2 years

Present majority - Republicans 55-45
Vote non-incumbants - The 55 Rebublicans become Democrats and the 45 Democrats become Republicans

So, in this example, the balance of power changes each time we vote. The power of the President would be impacted twice during his term due to Senate majority.

Something similar would happen in Congress and nationwide at the State level.


Posted by: steve smith at September 12, 2005 10:30 AM
Comment #79855

Aldous,

“Do you know when I knew America was in trouble?”

This has been building up for a long time. Longer than I’ve been alive. America started it’s downward trend when “my rights” became so much more important than “my responsibilities.” While some of the things that have come from this are good, many of the unforeseen consequences are not.

While I enjoy the right to vote, and the ability to get a job and demand fair pay, I don’t enjoy watching both parents in some households persue their careers at the exclusion of caring for their children. I don’t enjoy seeing women who are so independent and encouraged to be so independent, the divorce rate soars and single-parent families become more and more the norm.

This isn’t meant to detract from Women’s Lib. My point is that what starts out as a good thing, can be carried too far with no respect for the consequences. Americans have far too long been absorbed in their rights and their due, with no thought to their responsibilities to the greater community that enables them to practice their rights and work for (or not) their dues. There are many, many examples of this.

It didn’t start with McCain. It hasn’t culminated with McCain. What happened to him is merely another unfortunate example of the “me” of our society superceding the “we” that is supposed to be America.

Posted by: Stephanie at September 12, 2005 11:30 AM
Comment #79861

Damn, SE. That’s the best post I’ve seen from you. Welcome to Watchblog. :)

I have to agree with you and David about education. Lack of it is the root of many of America’s biggest problems: poverty, abortion, crime, intolerance, etc. And lack of breadth keeps many Americans from realizing that our way of doing something isn’t always the best way.

Probably the most important thing I got out of college was learning how to learn. I wish I had been taught that much earlier.

Posted by: American Pundit at September 12, 2005 11:53 AM
Comment #79866

David
When I was in high school I had to study the following: 4 years of English,4 years of math,4 years of history,4 years of French,4 years of Latin,4 years of science,4 years of theology.
Period.
No Home economics,no physicial education,no band,no shop,…nothing….those things were offered as after school stuff.
It was called a “classicial” education in those days.
Today’s high schools requirements are exactly 1/2 of the above…in essence we have “dumbded down” the process.

Remember Toffler’s book. “Future Shock”?
Three decades ago that book was the talk of the town..it was compulsory for every coffee table in every living room in America.

Scientific knowledge now doubles every five years…as he predicted..yet we now lag far behind in mathematics and the sciences ….why?

It is really a question of money?

Before I went to law school,I was a teacher..my first contract in 1972 was for $6000…today’s teachers work les hours and the starting pay here in Massachusetts is 6 times the avbove amount…PLUS..the teachers today are less equipped to teach than they ever were!

In Massachusetts teachers now have to take a minimun competency exam in their field of study….last year hundreds of teachers flunked statewide…why?

Are we to blame the parents?

Eighty years ago, while immigrants were working in sweatshops in the Northeast,their kids(who were latch-key kids and bi-lingual kids…but in those days those terms weren’t yet invented..)were taking it upon themselves to bootstrap themselves to a better life…..

Not today.

Today we have MTV,Grand Theft III,Doom III and so much crap out their I want to vomit.

Really,it’s our fault.


Posted by: sicilian eagle at September 12, 2005 12:09 PM
Comment #79872

steve,

“So, in this example, the balance of power changes each time we vote. The power of the President would be impacted twice during his term due to Senate majority.”

Yes, changing over the power, de-stablizing the dysfunctional system is part of the point. Also, Dems. or Reps. aren’t our only choices. At least, not always. Third party and independent candidates would get more attention and have more importance if this were to be accomplished.

Posted by: Stephanie at September 12, 2005 12:26 PM
Comment #79873

AP,

“Probably the most important thing I got out of college was learning how to learn. I wish I had been taught that much earlier.”

That’s where parents need to come in. Granted, it would certainly be appropriate for that to be taught in grade school, but you can’t count on it. I had the early advantage of my father believing in my ability to learn. He taught me well how to find things out for myself. Though, I don’t say this as praise for my father, because he didn’t hold the same respect for my older brother. For him, he had to drop out of college once and get back into a different one to learn that lesson. You talk to my brother now and you’d never guess that my father and his teachers used to think he was stupid, because he’s not and can express that much better now.

In my own family, I’ve seen the difference that parental involvement makes. I’m not smarter than my brother, at least not by much, but I have confidence in my own intelligence and my ability to learn, where he struggles with that constantly. Teachers can make up some of the difference, but it takes a really strong person (i.e. the student) to overcome the disrespect and unconcern of his or her own parent(s). If a parent takes the time to teach their child, especially to teach them how to learn, then that gives the child a very strong, very real advantage over many of their peers.

Posted by: Stephanie at September 12, 2005 12:35 PM
Comment #79886

steve smith,
Preferabbly, vote non-main-party.
Voting main-party won’t change anything.
More independents need to get on the ballots,
if possible, because the main parties are
doing a good job of blocking access for them
to ballots and debates.
Also, it’s unfortunate if a good politician gets voted out. Can you name any good ones that haven’t been involved with pork-barrel, waste, etc. ? That’s the price they pay for letting things get so bad.
Vote ‘em all out is the only real solution with at chance, even though it’s unlikely voters will ever use it…when they finally get fed up, they won’t resort to the peaceful method I recommend.

Posted by: d.a.n at September 12, 2005 1:25 PM
Comment #79903

Pundit

Thanks for the nice words…I printed them out and will frame shortly….seriously..as Stephen and Stephanie have stated…if we stick to issues and forget the partasian name calling maybe all of us can engage in thoughtful dialogue.

I know many many terrific people…from both sides of the aisle ….and most are patriots who love deeply their country….you are one for example……but because I don’t necessarily agree with all you say doesn’t make me a bad person or any less patriotic than you…

This morning I watch Bob Bork on CSPAN.Say what you want but the guy is a brilliant man with a tremendous grasp of constitutioinal issues.

He said that when William Douglas was confirmed the Senate Judiciary never called him to testify….the same with Justice Stevens…in thos mdays (not too long ago) politics and philosophy took a back seat to competence and integrity…and since then all hell breaks loose every time there is a vacancy.

Posted by: sicilianeagle at September 12, 2005 2:29 PM
Comment #79916

Stephanie and d.a.n.,

The only problem with getting third party and independent candidates into the mix so your formula will work is just that - getting them into the mix.

There has been very little progress in doing this for quite some time.

Posted by: steve smith at September 12, 2005 3:59 PM
Comment #79972

siceagle, I wonder if it is true that back then philosophy and politics didn’t play as large a role as today. I wonder if it is just the fact that the politics are more openly covered and hearings today are televised. Too often the good old days are marked by less awareness than actual substantial differences from the present.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 12, 2005 6:18 PM
Comment #79995

steve,

“The only problem with getting third party and independent candidates into the mix so your formula will work is just that - getting them into the mix.”

If we demand it, they will comply…they’ll have to.

Posted by: Stephanie at September 12, 2005 6:49 PM
Comment #80014

Everyone-
First things first: Stop the Doom and Gloom.

Here’s a quote from one of my favorite movies:

Charles Morse: You know, I once read an interesting book which said that, uh, most people lost in the wilds, they, they die of shame.

Stephen: What?

Charles Morse: Yeah, see, they die of shame. “What did I do wrong? How could I have gotten myself into this?” And so they sit there and they… die. Because they didn’t do the one thing that would save their lives.

Robert Green: And what is that, Charles?

Charles Morse: Thinking.

-Anthony Hopkins (Morse), Harold Perrinau(Stephen), and Alec Baldwin (Green), from the movie The Edge

I think nations can die of shame. They can lose their perspective in times of crisis, and start looking for people and things to blame for why things aren’t perfect, for why they go wrong. Instead of considering the causes, they retreat into the comforts of political theory, where the right answer doesn’t depend on a reality we can only murkily perceive, but on a man-made code of conduct that can be applied perfectly if people just get with the program.

What got us this time, is that the leaders both locally and federally have gotten themselves so tightly ensconsed in their own worlds trying to avoid blame and reject responsibility when folks ask it of them, that they no longer sit down and think, what if bad things occured? What if this plan doesn’t work, then what?

One thing that contributed to the failures of the Katrina Relief effort is that we have a president who doesn’t like to hear bad news about his efforts, doesn’t like to hear contradictions to his theories, doesn’t like to admit he’s made mistakes, much less plan for what happens if his current plan is one itself.

Ironically, if Bush were simply less ashamed of sometimes being wrong, of not always being the smartest guy in the room, he’d confirm the worst about himself to others far less. Sure he’d still get criticized, but he’d be taking care of his mistakes long before they became catastrophic failures. He’d also seem less like somebody with something to hide, and therefore on both counts would be a harder target for outright opposition.

The unfortunate fact is, Bush’s perpetual damage control is only unique in its degree in modern politics, not its character. Too much, nowadays is focused on looking like you’re doing something right, rather than taking on the much more difficult task of being practically correct.

What we need to do is get off these one dimensional arguments about issues, and start thinking really about how these things fit together.

We need to stop acting like our society’s falling apart. We sit here in our rich, fairly peaceful country, with few worries of being killed for our race, religion, or politics. Of course he have small worries about these things, but really, we’re not doing that bad right now.

That doesn’t mean we’re perfect, though, or that relative to our current state of affairs, we shouldn’t pay attention to failures of the system. We should just realize that our system is pretty robust, and if we just choose to be calm and patient about our approach, we can keep the quality of our lives pretty high.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 12, 2005 7:33 PM
Comment #80062

Stephen,

“Stop the Doom and Gloom.”

I can do that for a little while. ;-)

After being predominantly a stay-at-home mom for the last six years, with little work in between, and nothing long-term, I found a decent paying job (approx. $16/hr, though it’s commission with a gaurenteed minimum, so it isn’t quite comparable) in less than a week. :-)

So, I’m feeling pretty good!

Sorry, about the aside…I couldn’t resist. ;-)

Posted by: Stephanie at September 12, 2005 10:48 PM
Comment #80064

Now on to the serious response to your post…

We live a fairly good, even great country. But, I guess my hesitance in the praise is that while we have a lot of really awesome potential, we don’t do a very good job of living up to it. I mean, our nation is the bread basket of the world…no child, no person should go hungry in our country. There’s no excuse for it. There’s no justification. Even if it is only a minimum of cheap but nutritious foods, we should be willing and able to provide food for every citizen in this country, even every “guest”. But, in reality, we don’t. We give it a try, but it’s not actually happening.

Compared to historical nations, compared to other nations, we’re not doing that bad, no. But…we have advantages other nations, historically and currently, don’t have and have never had, so we should be doing better. We should be the leader of the free world in the sense that we’re setting an example for others to strive for….we could do this, we should do this, but this is not what we’re doing. I have yet to hear of a politician whose vision would bring that about either.

Posted by: Stephanie at September 12, 2005 10:58 PM
Comment #80067

David
You’re probably right.

However sometimes I think that the Senate needs to be reminded about checks and balances a bit.

For the next week or so a perfectly good candidate will get skewered in front of all so that someone will get an opportunity to beat the politicial drum in opposition.

The result is that Roberts will get nominated but Republicians will not forget the beating he will take and will reciprcate at the firt opportunity…thus the beat goes on….

Like it or not,the President has sent a candidate that reflects his conservarive positions…after all that is his right as a sitting President…however Roberts is a terrific pick and I think most mainstream Democrats can live with him….Bush could have tried to stack the deck like Roosevelt did….but hey…Roosevelt was a Democrat and that just isn’t the Republician way……

Posted by: sicilian eagle at September 12, 2005 11:07 PM
Comment #80108

SE, President Bush definitely is stacking the deck.

The problem for Democrats is that the only way to stop it is with a filibuster, and that’s a one-shot tactic if Republicans decide to use the “nuclear option” to stifle dissent

It’s not that Democrats can “live with” Roberts, its that — to protect the filibuster for when President Bush nominates Judge Roy Moore to the Supreme Court — we have no choice.

The threat of a filibuster is the only leverage Democrats have to keep President Bush from nominating an even bigger ideologue to the bench.

Sen. Biden told Roberts, “if I looked only at what you’ve said and written in the past, I’d feel compelled to vote ‘no.’”

Roberts will face tough questions from Democrats — mostly so American voters know what kind of activist Republicans want on the bench — then the Republicans will confirm him.

Posted by: American Pundit at September 13, 2005 2:47 AM
Comment #80119

Pundit
Right now it’s peragotive to stack the deck if he wants….to the victor go the spoils…..neither of us expect him to take a recommendation from the ACLU,do we?
Roberts has impressed me…it could have been far worse for you guys….

Biden now has a perfect case for his run at the presidency with this forum which he will use to the max.

He should use these proceedings and try to come accross as presidential…if he doesn’t…and turns into a screamer…then his campaign will be comprimised from the inception.

Right now America sees a pretty nice guy in Roberts…he’s good looking,calm,and yesterday he made no mistakes.

If he continues this tack of being an Illionois farm boy who just wants to uphold the rule of law for his country and Biden or Kennedy jump all over him…the Dems further alienate the middle of the roaders,I think.

The Dems already got their victory here though.The Attorney General will not be nominated for the next seat……take solace.

By the way,as this NOLA investigation rolls out I am going to make a prediction:The Mayor and Governor are going to get tatooed…and they are Democrats..and Fema will hammer the message home of not being first responders…and the end result will be a Fema that will be stronger.A cabinet level position will be created to accomplish this that will call the shots from the get-go from now on.

Posted by: sicilian eagle at September 13, 2005 5:52 AM
Comment #80134
Right now it’s peragotive to stack the deck if he wants…to the victor go the spoils

Ah… So you retract your earlier statement: “Bush could have tried to stack the deck like Roosevelt did…but hey…Roosevelt was a Democrat and that just isn’t the Republician way”

I just wanted to hear you admit that really is the Republican way. Thanks.

As for the first responders, don’t forget that Democrats have blasted President Bush every year for not helping local first responders with the training and equipment — especially communication equipment — they need to work effectively with the DHS.

Sure, state officials are going to get some heat, but the way President Bush neglects homeland security, he’s just inviting well-deserved criticism and blame.

Posted by: American Pundit at September 13, 2005 9:54 AM
Comment #80136
and the end result will be a Fema that will be stronger.A cabinet level position will be created to accomplish this that will call the shots from the get-go from now on.

Wow. I just re-read that, SE. That’s exacly what Senator Clinton is asking for. I take it she can expect your vote in ‘08. :)

Frankly, I don’t think breaking FEMA out of the DHS is necessary. They just need to get someone other than a partisan hack in there. Emergency management is no place for political cronies.

And I suspect we’ll see the same kind of incompetence with the CIA, now that political appointee Porter Goss is in charge,

“The jobs I’m being asked to do, the five hats that I wear, are too much for this mortal,” Goss said. “I’m a little amazed at the workload.”

Not exactly inspiring words from the man we rely on for warning of upcoming terrorist attacks.

Posted by: American Pundit at September 13, 2005 10:04 AM
Comment #80162

I still think we ought to just vote ‘em all out !
We could buy up ad space, create more web-sites, write articles, everywhere, that simply say:
_________________________________________

_______Vote ‘em all out !______

… and start some recalls too.

And, keep doing it until the top ten problems facing the nation are adequate addressed.
_________________________________________
Even if it doesn’t work, it won’t cost much, it’s easy to communicate, doesn’t really need a party (but one or more would help), doesn’t need big money influence, will make it hard for those that abuse vast wealth and power to know who’s campaign to fund, it will eliminate the need for term limits, it can balance power (not just shift it, or remove powers), it doesn’t need a lot of research, it’s easy to understand, it’s easy to do, and it only needs the one thing we still have left (at the moment): our vote

Posted by: d.a.n at September 13, 2005 11:49 AM
Comment #80212

AP-
No, it needs to be out of there. One of the big problems is the paralyzing layers of bureacracy that the alphabet soup of the DoHS created. When a disaster is at hand, you don’t want to have to report through several different layers of administrators just to get to the President.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 13, 2005 2:04 PM
Comment #80241

Did y’all notice Bush taking responsibility like you said he wouldn’t do?

Posted by: Stephanie at September 13, 2005 3:30 PM
Comment #80322

Yeah, but what does it mean ?
Do we get to tar and feather him now ?
: )

Posted by: d.a.n at September 13, 2005 6:26 PM
Comment #80355

Well, y’all should at least stop playing the same tune…for awhile! ;-)

Posted by: Stephanie at September 13, 2005 7:18 PM
Comment #80376

Pundit
I said stacking the deck “if he wants to”.Roberts isn’t an example of stacking anything…now really.Bork would be “stacking the deck”…not Roberts.

I watched the confirmation today…twice…and if you look at my earlier post about Biden and Kennedy’s conduct…well…I proved phophetic..didn’t I?

Ted actually asked a 14 part question…by the time he finished reading the question…I think I saw him fall asleep.

Seriously,both those guys guys have never learned when to keep their powder dry,have they?

All Biden did today is come across as a dork (although I must admit that the unsightly hair plugs having grown out now put him in a position to run in earnest)

Don’t think for a moment that certain Repubs haven’t already drawn a bead on this guy..I think he would have been far better off had he taken a “presidential” approach….

As for NOLA,the mayor now lives in Houston…that says it all,doesn’t it?

By the way,a report on CNN this evening said a 1972 lawsuit by an enviromental group who brought an action to prevent the installation of a flood gate was regrettable.Had that flood gate been installed at the top of the lake,the probability,according to LSU reseachers is that the levees would have held.

Seems to me that between that and other actions by the greens on the wetlands issue combined to help make the disaster a success.(I have been trying all day to get those two words in sync..and I succeded!)

As I said..there is plenty of blame to go around…and as I said last week,the preident would appoint a bi-partasian review…which..of course…the Dems complain about because it isn’t “independent”.

To me that’s a little bit too much moaning by the left.

Is is true that Bush is responsible for yesterday’s power outage in L.A.?I think I heard Pelosi say that she saw Bush behind a building pulling a switch…..jeez….

Posted by: sicilian eagle at September 13, 2005 8:32 PM
Comment #80378

Pundit
One more thing on Porter Goss.

He is giving Langley a well deserved house cleaning…and he had prior CIA experience too.

Since his watch he has cleaned out a lot of the upper management bureaucrats and …guess what…actual intelligence is flowing…

I think the appointment was a good one..now this will really raise your temp in sunny Singapore…so was the appointment of our new ambassador to the UN.

Watch what happens there.

I will step away from the computer now..I don’t want it to explode as I read your response….

You did welcome me to Watchblog….didn’t you?

Posted by: Sicilian Eagle at September 13, 2005 8:40 PM
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