August 25: Sources. Lots on Terrorism, Some on Katrina

Long time readers know, but let me explain to newer ones. I try to post sources about once a week. It is an eclectic selection that leans to the right, but I also scan leftish think tanks such as Brookings or Pew. Comments on any articles are welcome. I often try to put in some put down to liberals to stimulate discussion. It is an easy thing to do since there is so much material. They hate it when I call them hysterical. But not this time.

In Great Britain, Muslims Worry About Islamic Extremism
Our Covert Enemies
French-Muslim Connection
Iranian Cooperation on Nuclear Program
Terrorism’s Enablers
Preemptive Surveillance
Anti-Terror Weapon We Are Afraid to Use
Soft Landing or Stagflation?
American Exceptionalism
While Insurance Companies Targeted, Taxpayers Soaked
The Taxonomy of Obesity Litigation
We should Not Tolerate the Preachers of Jihad
Building a Better New Orleans
Global NATO
Can Iraq be Saved
Katrina Anniversary
Britain Must Reject Appeasement of Islamic Terrorists
Race & Economics

Posted by Jack at August 25, 2006 9:42 PM
Comment #177505

Ok, I’ll bite. The Taxonomy of Obesity Litigation?

Posted by: Trent at August 25, 2006 10:28 PM
Comment #177509

My Name Is Roger:


Some of the comments on the articles are very good, some are off the wall, some are down right stuped,and some are from people of low self esteam trying to make themselves feel good, when all they are doing are makeing themselves look stuped.

I am surprised of the number of biggets who respond, trying to prove their one sided point of view, you know who I mean; thoses who always think everybody else is wrong, and they are always right. And if you do not agree with them you are wrong.

Keep up the good work. Freedom of speach is one of the things that America is all about, and make us different from other countries, and makes America America.


Posted by: ROGER at August 25, 2006 10:57 PM
Comment #177510


I think this comes down to whether or not we allow people to make decisions. I like fast foods and eat at these places regularly. It is my business and my cost. I don’t believe anyone has the right to compel me to eat tofu if I prefer a Big Mac. If I do not accept the control by others, I have to assume that I am in control. So I accept the sweet and the bitter.

If some fat guy wants to blame McDonalds, he has to accept that he is incompetent to make basic decisions. If he wins the case, we have to institutionalize him or at least do not allow him to handle money.

There are some reasonable things about this issue. We need not provide soft drinks and candy in student lunch programs. That is a reasonable management choice.

BTW - I also drink a lot of Coca-Cola. I down at least two liters a day, more on hot days. About four years ago, I switched to diet Coke. At first I hated it. Now I like it better. I think that is a reasonable response.

People make choices. Some are good and others are bad. Very often, however, we really cannot say whether they are good or bad. My own diet and cola consumption is not optimal according to many of my friends. It seems to work for me.

BTW - some people fret about everything. I heard an article on NPR about hydration. I used to just call it drinking water. This clown on the radio actually weighs himself before and after running to make sure he balances his intake properly. How stupid is that?

I rode my bike to work today. It is 17 miles each way. Today it was 92 degrees when I rode home. I didn’t need any “hydration” until I got home. Then I ate a couple slices of watermelon. That is as close as you need to come to fitness water. Unless you live in a desert, your body takes care of such things. Don’t worry so much.

And if you are fat, just say no to that donut.

BTW - it is possible to be too skinny too. Moderation in all things is the best way to go. I could give up my Hershey Bar, but why?

Posted by: Jack at August 25, 2006 11:00 PM
Comment #177512

This is the article I was talking about. Who would have thought people couldn’t tell when they are thirsty.

Posted by: Jack at August 25, 2006 11:10 PM
Comment #177513

It is Stupid, not stuped.
It is Bigots, not biggets.
It is Freedom of speech, not Freedom of speach.

I agree with your point, but when trying to tell someone they are stupid, it is best to check your spelling. :)

Posted by: Thomas at August 25, 2006 11:13 PM
Comment #177514


I found the article titled “American Exceptionalism to be very well written and I very much agree with it. This piece by James Q. Wilson should be required reading for all of us.

I strongly agree with his points on religion, that the reason it is so strong in the USA is because it left in the hands of “religious entrepreneurs” rather than the government as in European countries.

That our system of separated powers makes for a more stable system of government because of slower more conservative change is another point the author makes that I agree with.

Wilson warns that when we are spreading Democracy we should forego any imperial ambitions. Very good advice.

I find little to disagree with here. Does that make me a conservative, because most people who know me think I’m a liberal.

Posted by: mark at August 25, 2006 11:16 PM
Comment #177515


I use to drink a like amount of Mountain Dew each day. Now it’s water(from my own well, not bottled). You should try it sometime. I feel better, sleep better, stay awake better, it all better.

Posted by: mark at August 25, 2006 11:21 PM
Comment #177516


Conservatives and liberals (at least the reasonable ones) in the U.S. actually agree on about 98% of the important things in life. We just love to fight about that 2%. Of course, I hear that humans and chimps also share about 98% of their DNA. That 2% can be a big deal.

Posted by: Jack at August 25, 2006 11:27 PM
Comment #177517

Well said Jack.

Posted by: mark at August 25, 2006 11:37 PM
Comment #177518

Ah. Well, I find myself eating much less junk food that I used to. Not for any health reasons, just burned out on it. For the past few years, I’ve done lots of stir fry — again not for any health reasons, though it does use very little oil — I just like the stuff and it’s easy.

Moderation — I’m trying to remember — William Blake I think: “The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.”

Posted by: Trent at August 25, 2006 11:38 PM
Comment #177521

“I could give up my Hershey Bar, but why?”

Because instead, you could be eating the most fabulously delicious chocolate made in all of America (I think): Scharffenberger Chocolate
Super dark and rich. Made from real cacao beans roasted fresh (rather than from pre-processed cacao syrup).
It’s made right here in Berkeley California, in a small factory, from scratch start to finish, and Jack let me tell you, it is simply divine stuff!
Well, it is if you’re a chocoholic like me. :^)
Here’s a link to their website — I looked for you already, they do sell it in some places in Virginia, but you can also purchase it online:
Scharffenberger Chocolate

Posted by: Adrienne at August 25, 2006 11:55 PM
Comment #177523

Fat litigation — well, we’ve got laws against false advertising, so if a company claims its megaburger contains 2 grams of fat, then, yeah, fine it or whatever.

But, you eat tons of fat and get fat, it’s your own damn fault. I’ve got an anti-lawyer bias, anyway. My favorite lawyer joke: You know why lawyers wear neckties? It keeps the foreskin from creeping up.

Posted by: Trent at August 25, 2006 11:59 PM
Comment #177524


I see we have something else in comman besides our social and political views, our love of chocolate. I am completely addicted.

If you have the time read “American Exceptionalism”, I’d like to know what your take on it is.

Posted by: mark at August 26, 2006 12:07 AM
Comment #177525

when I was a kid, my favorite candy bar was Marathon. Alas, they stopped selling it, but I seem to remember a similar candy bar named Curly Wurly. I don’t know if it was regional or even Canadian — I used to live in Montana and we got lots of Canadian stuff.

Marathon — now THERE was a candy bar.

Posted by: Trent at August 26, 2006 12:12 AM
Comment #177529

mark, I love to read, and I’ll be glad to look for it — but who is the author? Will it make me feel like a horrid snob because I’d rather have a little piece of fantastic dark chocolate than whole big ‘n’ crappy Whitman sampler? :^) The term American Exceptionalism has kind of a bad connotation you know…

Never had a Marathon, what was it like?

Posted by: Adrienne at August 26, 2006 12:40 AM
Comment #177530


That may have been the best lawyer joke I’ve ever heard! I can’t wait to pass that one on. As per usual, however, I must disagree with your assessment of chocolate. Hershey rules. Like most other products of Pennslyvania, it is far superior to anything else out there and available at prices to fit the working mans’ budget. Good Bless Hershey chocolate and God Bless the USA.

Posted by: 1LT B at August 26, 2006 12:44 AM
Comment #177535


It’s one of Jack’s sources(above) and from the American Enterprise Institute, which I believe is quite conservative. But it encourages separation of church and state, separation of powers between the branches of government, and warns agaisnt imperialism. The author is James Q. Wilson, chair of the council of academic advisors at AEI. Don’t know anything about him. Sorry, nothing about chocolate. But I think I’m going to go get some after I log off. By for now.

Posted by: mark at August 26, 2006 1:06 AM
Comment #177541

From Mr Wilson comes the comment “Bipartisan campign reform, written by Senators McCain and Feingold constitutes a massive attack on the first amendment rights of varoius interset groups”
This is the singlemost threat facing this country today. The manipulation of our elected officials by corporate and special interest groups. Much more serious than the terrorist problem

Posted by: j2t2 at August 26, 2006 1:57 AM
Comment #177545

Ah, I thought you were referring to a book you’d read, rather than one of the links Jack posted above.

To address your question, I’d have to say that it’s clearly a rightwing take on America, in general, and contains too many of the authors personal opinions that are being mixed between paragraphs which describe various statistical findings or historical information. I personally tend to immediately distrust such articles. I’d rather read something that is either straight political opinion, or something factual and statistical rather than have the two mixed together the way they are there.

For instance, the author throws this out there:

“As we struggle to rescue Medicare and Social Security from their inevitable bankruptcy,”

That word inevitable is an opinion, not a fact.

Or this:
“the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, written by Senators John McCain and Russell Feingold, constitutes a massive attack on the First Amendment rights of various interest groups.”

Again, that’s an opinion of the author, but it is being stated as though it’s a fact. If he’d wanted to distinguish it as an opinion shared by many, including himself, he might have said: “many Americans view this as a massive attack…”

There is a whole lot of these examples I could put up, but I won’t. And the truth is, I only read a little over halfway through the piece before I found myself too disgusted to continue reading.
I don’t need, nor want an author to try to manipulate me, or to spoon feed me his political spin so craftily swirled with statistics and/or historical tidbits. It’s dishonest writing, and I reject that. It does make me rather angry though, because for every person with a fully functioning bullshit meter, I know there is somebody out there that is being politically programmed by this kind of writer to accept his opinions as serious scholarship and fact. And I feel sorry for that person, because in that act of accepting the authors opinions, they will bit by bit shut down their own ability to draw political conclusions from solid facts and/or statistical studies, and form their own personal opinions.

Aside from that, I have to say I’m not the kind of person who tends to dwell too deeply on a concept such as American Exceptionalism. Perhaps that is because I’m only first-generation American on one side of my family. Throughout my lifetime, I’ve often gotten the sense that when a person is raised by people who came from elsewhere, and whose family still has very close ties to another country (in my case, Scotland), that persons perception of American culture versus other cultures isn’t going to be quite as monolithic, or static, or pure as someone whose ancestors were here as far back as they can remember.
(I hope that makes sense…)

Anyway, what did you think of that article, mark?

Posted by: Adrienne at August 26, 2006 2:57 AM
Comment #177547

Adrienne and 1LT B,

The Marathon! How can one describe this delight? In an age in which almonds instead of peanuts in a Snickers is innovative, in which candy bars differ more in packaging than in content, and in which corporate confectionry decisions are made by focus groups and marketing experts, how can I evoke the chocolately, caramelly goodness that was the Marathon?

From its braided strands of caramel coated with chocolate; its distinctive, Peter Max-esque wrapper that boldly sat side-by-side with the Big Hunks and yard-long Pixie Sticks; and, yes, its 8-inch ruler on its backside, no candy bar gave so much delicious goodness for so long. “Lasts a good, long time” indeed.

I feel sorry for you, I truly do, to live in an age with no Marathons. A latticework of mouth-pleasing joy, liberal in its length, progressive in its pulchitrude — ah, the Marathon. To those who favor conservative chocolate in uniform rectangularity, to those who think a few nuts fundamentally make a candy bar, I say, “Fie!” With a quarter we’d buy a comic book and a Marathon, and, damn, we’d finish the comic book first. No, we have lost something, something precious, when dull, uninspired, industrially produced Hershey’s are praised, touted the world over as the best we have to offer.

Yes, there are those who praise the Curly Wurly, that cheap knockoff of the Marathon, and, yes, I admit, in a moment or two of weakness, I have done the same, but I knew — we knew — we were fooling nobody. Why did it die? Why is the Marathon no more? I cannot help but think we were found unworthy. We were given a taste of heaven, but we turned our backs, and now we’re the poorer.

Posted by: Trent at August 26, 2006 4:02 AM
Comment #177549


Truly you are the Cicero of this blog. I have never tried a Marathon bar, but I now begrudge you for having experienced its delights. Even your slightly vieled barbs about its traits as being liberal and progressive were a delight to behold and in a taste that lives up to the Marathon itself.

The Hershey bar is not to be slighted, however. Hershey has been a mainstay of American masticatory delight for generations. I stand by the Hershey bar as a loyal citizen of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Here I stand, I can do no other.

Posted by: 1LT B at August 26, 2006 4:27 AM
Comment #177571

I had a more positive take on the article(I must say I viewed it as an op-ed piece more than a factual reporting). When Wilson wrote about the importance of an independant Judiciary or about government needing to stay out of religion it matched by view points. He also wrote of separation of powers between the branches of government and warned of not being imperialistic.
As far as social security and social security he goes he does say the “government cannot abandon programs such as these.”

Upon re-reading this article I do find some things I’m not as agreeable with that I was last night but I find some of the main point of it describing something very different than the country that Goerge Bush is trying to create.

Posted by: mark at August 26, 2006 8:46 AM
Comment #177610

First of all I’d like to state my appreciation of the people that post here. Trent and Jack stand out most in my mind, but a great many more also contribute to my psychological well being and rescue me from my “damn human race” moods.
I liked the Exceptionalism article, even though I saw the same type of disagreable (to me) opinions, such as “Bipartisan campign reform, written by Senators McCain and Feingold constitutes a massive attack on the first amendment rights of various interset groups”. Actually, I might be against that particular reform bill, because of it’s ineffectiveness, but not for it’s spirit. I think we should just go to taxpayer funded elections and be done with it.
I snack on two ginat sized Hershey’s with Almonds almost every day, on the other days, I eat ice cream, my other weakness. Eat your hearts out, I’m skinny.

Posted by: Rene at August 26, 2006 2:00 PM
Comment #177612

Almonds in Snickers? Completely unAmerican and a perversion of a good candy bar. Gotta be one of them Commie Pinko plots. I like almonds but they DO NOT belong in Snickers. Hershey’s yeah, but not Snickers. Peanuts belong in Snickers.
The Marathon was good but not my favorite. The 3 Musketeer has always been my favorite. The candy bar big enough for two. But my brother and sisters knew better than ask me for any of it.

If folks are gonna to eat food that makes them fat they should expect to get fat. Suing the company that sold them the food is downright stupid.

Posted by: Ron Brown at August 26, 2006 2:06 PM
Comment #177617

Adrienne (and Trent)

I have an ineresting perception difference.

YOu complain about inevitable in the sentence, “As we struggle to rescue Medicare and Social Security from their inevitable bankruptcy”. I didn’t see that as spin at all. I take for granted that medicare and SS are headed for bankrupcy. Of course, it won’t be bankrupt in the sense a private business because the government has power to tax and change the terms. What I believe will happen is that they will raise taxes AND cut benefits. Current retirees are getting more than they paid in. The next generation (which includes us) can expect to get less and pay more. Whoever is in power when that happens will call it a success.

I think that is the struggle the author is talking about. Do you disagree.

We would be wise to put as much as possible into Roth IRAs. If you have the choice between Roth and tax deferred such as 401 - after accounting for any matching - keep to the Roth, since taxes certainly will rise by the time you take that money out. But in either case, if you rely on SS alone, prepare to be poorer than your parents and grandparents.

Posted by: Jack at August 26, 2006 2:21 PM
Comment #177622

“When Wilson wrote about the importance of an independant Judiciary or about government needing to stay out of religion it matched by view points. He also wrote of separation of powers between the branches of government and warned of not being imperialistic.”

That matches my views as well, mark. I just didn’t like the way Wilson was also injecting a lot of his own opinions as fact, and trying to lead the reader to specific conclusions with his own politically motivated extrapolations.

Sorry Jack, but I think you’re not seeing the spin in that article because he is echoing your own beliefs. I won’t fault you too harshly for that though, because believe me, I sometimes have to struggle to be more objective myself.

Posted by: Adrienne at August 26, 2006 2:49 PM
Comment #177625

Oh Trent,
1LT is right, what beautiful prose! Truly a stirring and eloquent homage to your favorite kidhood candy bar! I’m now crushed that I never had a Marathon. The worst part about it, is that after looking at the link, I realize that I remember seeing that commercial on TV as a kid —yet never went on a quest to buy one.
And now I’ll never know it’s liberal and progressive chocolatey-caramel splendor… :^(
Btw, it occurs to me that we must be around the same age (I’m 43), and that we probably read the same comic books (I know, kinda weird for a girl). So while you were reaching for your Marathon, I was was going for an Almond Joy (always preferred the dark chocolate) and if I was lucky, the latest issue of The Silver Surfer!:^)

Posted by: Adrienne at August 26, 2006 3:13 PM
Comment #177628


Yes. I agree with him because he agrees with me. You mention you are 43. I am 51. Do you really think that either of us has much of a chance of collecting our full SS payments as currently promised? And do you really believe that the taxes we pay until that time (and our kids will pay later) will not rise?

I am certain that our leaders at some not too distant future time will figure out some clever way to explain it away. If it is a Democrat in office at the time, he will probalby couch it in terms of making “the rich” pay their share, but all of us who work and pay taxes will pay.

Posted by: Jack at August 26, 2006 3:33 PM
Comment #177643

Adrienne, yup, we’re pretty close; recently I turned 44. That puts us both just old enough to really remember the first moon landing, and I’m sure we both regret that those younger than us can never really know what that was like. Do you remember the first season of Scooby Doo? I remember the teasers for it before it came out and had such high hopes, but alas, it sucked.

First real political awareness for me was during Watergate, which I’m sure had a huge influence on later political views. Funny now to think how liberal Nixon was by today’s standards.

My folks were kinda religious — which means every now and then they’d feel guilty about not going to church and so every now and then would haul all of us kids to the tiny Southern Baptist church in the neighborhood. It was excruciating and the kids were mean. When I was 12, I read some Hal Lindsey, including The Seven Vials. It terrified me, and I decided then and there that if there was a God he was a jerk and not worthy of worship. It took many years for me to let that anger go.

Now I study sacred verse through a scholarly lens; I think that fact that I wasn’t thoroughly indoctrinated as a child makes that easier for me than for most.

First fiction that really kicked my ass was that of Robert A. Heinlein. Fortunately he was just a stepping stone. I still meet people my age and older who never got beyond RAH and who quote his aphorisms incessantly. I say read some Schiller and Nietzsche for aphorisms. RAH’s best stuff was his juvenile fiction. I turned on RAH when The Number of the Beast was published when I was 18.

As a kid I read tons of comics and like every other kid had my collection sold by my mom without my knowledge. I’m not above pointing out to her how much some of them are worth now. I got back into comics in the early and mid-’80s when they got good again. Then I stopped again . for the most part, but still follow some writers/artists. R. Crumb and Peter Bagge are favorites.

By the time you reach 44 you’ve had many insights and the chance to realize how ephmeral and contextual they are. Today I just think that arrogance in any form is a fallacy. I used to love Saul Bellow; now I think he’s an inveterate name-dropper. The last book of his I read I threw across the room. Reading his fiction is an invitation to include yourself in an elitist club; once I figured out that rhetorical ploy, the stuff lost its appeal.

But, at 44, I still long for Marathons.

Posted by: Trent at August 26, 2006 5:24 PM
Comment #177648

Nobody mentioned See’s chocolate or Dove chocolate. Some of the finest chocolate ever. Dove has both dark and light. See’s has a vast variety that would please even a chocolate hater.

Posted by: tomh at August 26, 2006 6:05 PM
Comment #177664

Geez Jack, do your source postings always turn to waxing poetically about candy bars? And I took this thread seriously last night. By the way, Babe Ruths(what else would a 12 year old little leaguer like) and Mallow Cups(because you could save the points and send away for a box of twenty-free!). Oh, and 48(years old).

Of course most of us need something besides social security to live on. Trying to live the lifestyle of the rich and famous will take more than $12,000 per year.

Adrienne-Thanks for the feedback on the American Exceptionalisnm article. I don’t care what I read, it always helps to get other views in order to get a better understanding(and I did).

Posted by: mark at August 26, 2006 7:40 PM
Comment #177667

My wife is almost addicted to Dove. It’s good stuff but I’d still rather have a Musketeers.
Sees has some very good candy. But when I’m buying for Valentines Day, Mothers Day, Our Anniversary, or Her Birthday, I buy Fanny Mae.

Posted by: Ron Brown at August 26, 2006 8:30 PM
Comment #177685

In the interests of contributing something serious to this thread (though, alas, Marathons are serious to me, I started to read the “American Exceptionalism” article. But when the writer started talking about Tocqueville, that made me long to reread Democracy in America without a filter, so I just scanned the rest of the article. One phrase I liked, though, was “spiritual entrepeneur.” Nice. I will make this observation: Tocqueville said a lot about America and not all of it flattering.

So I decided to read another of Jack’s articles, “Anti-Terro Weapon …”, which advocates data mining. In an advanced form, it means uses supercomputers to detect patterns possibly indicative of suspicious behavior. That didn’t sound too bad, but you have to wonder what suspicious behavior they refer to. I’ve recently heard but been unable to confirm that American Pyschiatric Association guidelines included monitoring patients who speak of defending the Constitution. Eep.

More to the point, however, is I simply hate the idea of anyone, including government agencies, prying through my billing, purchasing, school, etc. records. As much as I can, I try to muck on current methods of gathering information on me. At the grocery store, for example, I always write down Tybalt Capulet to get my bonus cards. Why do we assume anyone plotting harm to the United States wouldn’t to the same, with much more attention to detail? I hate hate hate the idea of government or business monitoring my activities.

That’s my gut feeling. I don’t want the government to know what books I’m reading, what stuff I’m buying, what I surf online. It’s not the damn government’s business! I don’t care if the Supreme Court has ruled that data mining isn’t a Fourth Amendment violation; I consider it a violation, and I feel well within my moral rights to provide false information whenever I can.

When did the right get so trusting of our government? Right now they can track where I amn through my cell phone — I don’t trust companies to protect our information either. It’s impossible, of course, to stay completely under the radar if you participate in this modern world, but to the extent I can protest and can support politicians against such measures, I will.

When I watched the towers go down on 9/11, I knew this country was going to lurch in a dangerous direction. Afghanistan seemed reasonable to me (and I was pissed at the Taliban already for those Buddha statues - a bit of levity, but that was horrific), but when it became clear that Iraq and that the administration was using scare tactics, I was unbelievably pissed. Let’s take advantage of American sentiment and go ahead and get down and dirty with a country we already had by the balls. Well, we’ve seen what happened; so utterly predictable and, in fact, predicted by many.

We’ve lost all perspective. Highway deaths were 44,443 in 2005; now we’re asked to let government be more intrusive and violate the Constitution rights, because some of some fanatics? OF course we need to be vigilant, but it is impossible in a free and open society to stop all such attacks. What happens after the next one? A recent article in the red column ridiculed the notion of a climate of fear, as if our government hasn’t used it? I’ve flown a lot and NEVER worried because I have a basic understanding of statistics. We desperately need some perspective in this country.

That’s what I think about data mining.

Posted by: Trent at August 26, 2006 11:20 PM
Comment #177689

“Do you really think that either of us has much of a chance of collecting our full SS payments as currently promised? And do you really believe that the taxes we pay until that time (and our kids will pay later) will not rise?

I am certain that our leaders at some not too distant future time will figure out some clever way to explain it away. If it is a Democrat in office at the time, he will probalby couch it in terms of making “the rich” pay their share, but all of us who work and pay taxes will pay.”

Jack, I’m sure you won’t agree with me, but in my opinion all of Bush’s ideas about Social Security “reform” are all 100% rich-get-richer, poor-get-poorer SHITE. This is just another reason why Democrats need to be elected to Congress in Nov., because he’s already indicated that he’ll be returning to push his nonsensical privitization schemes for SS again after the elections — despite the fact that they were roundly rejected by the nation when he was touring the country with it previously (like the snake-oil salesman he is).
The glaring truth of the matter is, for the past 25 years the Republicans have been trying their best to gut and dismantle the Social Security contract — and don’t think a lot of our citizens don’t realize this, because a great many do. Bush’s lame-duck second term schemes should be viewed as just another step in that long ongoing process of trying to kill off the social safety net entirely.

You talk about “the rich” being made to pay their share. Indeed, the tax cuts have taken so much revenue away from doing the right thing for Social Security haven’t they? But let’s not just talk about the ridiculously low taxes of the very richest Americans — I think we need to begin talking about having major corporations return to playing their part in the American social contract.
American companies used to be institutional partners in the distributing health insurance, pensions, and labor guarantees to our citizens. But no more. Now these wealthy entities think they can give the finger to their employees by extracting profits and expropriating their wages, health benefits and pensions. It’s hurting America, and it needs to stop.
We need to make them return to the arrangement that helped to build the American middle class — because it is now more than clear that when they get to always set the terms on such things, they only know how to break their promises and neglect their obligations.
So, in addition to shoring up Social Security, I’d like to see some real innovative pension reform — because it is all too plain that the 25 year long experiment with individual pension accounts has failed dismally and is leaving even middle income workers totally unprepared for retirement.
Here are a couple of links to articles I read last year in The Nation which I thought gave many good ideas on how we might go about that:
Riding Into the Sunset
The New Colossus
Both are long, but well worth reading.

Another thing I think we need to focus on is enacting Universal Health Insurance — because something HAS to be done about our insane healthcare costs. I believe that the reason people cannot afford to put money away for retirement these days, is because the burden of those costs have been eating up funds that were formerly put away in savings.

I also think we need to address the major problem of Corporate antisocial behavior. While collecting hundreds of billions in tax breaks and subsidies, corporations have been doing nothing but crap on our society in return. Why should they be allowed to degrade our environment and ignore all obligations to our people, or to the national interest?
Corporate taxes have declined from over 20 percent in the 1960’s, to less than 10 percent today. That needs to change. Because even though they are making record profits, many of them are paying zero in taxes (and some of them are even collecting refunds!). We need to overhaul the corporate income tax, close the loopholes and set their tax rate higher to at least 35 percent — or maybe even more. At the same time however, we might reward them with excellent tax breaks for positive behavior. Such as: Increasing worker wages along with rising productivity — automatic tax reduction. Upgrade in energy saving or environmentally healthy ways — tax reduction. Increase their *American* workforce — tax reduction. I think this is the kind of leverage we need to keep corporations in line, since they have proven themselves far too greedy and anti-social, and always at our expense.

Posted by: Adrienne at August 27, 2006 12:39 AM
Comment #177694

I really enjoyed your reply to me. I’ll try to keep my answers brief — so as not to annoy Jack.

“the first moon landing,”
That was huge to me — and to every kid I knew.

“First real political awareness for me was during Watergate, which I’m sure had a huge influence on later political views.”
Yes, me too. But I honestly feel my personality dictated what my political views would be. I believe I was born to be a liberal-thinker — and I’m proud of it, too.

“Funny now to think how liberal Nixon was by today’s standards.”
It’s the truth! But that was the impact of the 1960’s on the GOP. You just know he’d be called a commie pinko by todays Neocons!

“Southern Baptist”
Catholic — but it never stuck to me. I loved all the art and stained glass though (still do), and used to get pinched for being a swivel-head during mass.

“I decided then and there that if there was a God he was a jerk and not worthy of worship. It took many years for me to let that anger go.”
I was never so conflicted. I’m agnostic, leaning toward nature worshipping pagan (but with no mystical mumbo jumbo attached).

“Now I study sacred verse through a scholarly lens; I think that fact that I wasn’t thoroughly indoctrinated as a child makes that easier for me than for most.”
I read a lot about religions and from religious texts, and I really enjoy them. But it’s almost like reading anthropology for me — I can gain a deep appreciation for the traditions and can absorb certain wisdoms, but again, it just doesn’t stick to me. I’m basically incapable of being a faithful follower of any particular dogma.

“Robert A. Heinlein”
Yeah, Heinlein is great, I like Harlan Ellison too. I’d have to say that the first writer to seriously kick my ass was Vonnegut, though.

“I used to love Saul Bellow; now I think he’s an inveterate name-dropper.”
:^) Yeah, but “Seize the Day” is pretty great. Ever read it?

“I still long for Marathons.”
Try a Scharffenberger, Trent. Seriously.

Posted by: Adrienne at August 27, 2006 2:28 AM
Comment #177802

In view of the foregoing intense and deep thought provoking printed thoughts I submit this imaginative scribbal:
If Senator McCain were to marry Jerry Falwell would the world experience a military win for the United States and conversion to Christianity?

Posted by: John at August 28, 2006 5:58 AM
Comment #177840

Hey, you know, I thought it was fun to have a thread with some levity. Politics ain’t the end all and be all ;)

Posted by: Trent at August 28, 2006 2:49 PM
Comment #178255

All in all, one might conclude that, despite their problems — prime among them joblessness among youth generally, not just Muslim youth — the French need take no integrationist lessons from their European neighbors. - French-Muslim Connection

I was very please to read this PEW story last week. Because these results are way more in line with my own experience with some muslims friends of mine, and it’s always good to know I’m not just lucky.
May I recommand reading this story to anyone who eventually have thrown at me a “France is the European islam base” line during last year.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at August 30, 2006 9:01 AM
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