Tuesday, July 15, 2008


The interview on NPR with the Author regarding the NEW YORKER Magazine cover explained that the cover was satire. That we shouldn't take ourselves so seriously that we can't have humor when exaggeration to the extreme which actually contradicts the meaning conveyed is the idea and so no one should be upset about it. Michelle carrying a machine gun and sporting an Afro, the flag burning in the fireplace, Obama in a turban. Satire, political satire to my mind is supposed to give a punch to social ideals that are held as reverent to dispell the hot air and make room for new notions and possibilities , and new ground. This cartoon might have done that, but it failed. It is as funny, as they say, as a rubber crutch. Something not given to joy or humor, but hurtful to watch. The Authors, the Editors, all of the NEW YORKER Magazine staff should just flat out apologize not just to the Obama family, but to the American public for the insult. Even the NEW YORKER makes mistakes, they could say. And we did.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Out of resignation

Really have appreciated feedback from folks about the blog, and you know the real value to me and I hope to those who read it is that there are things happening in the world, not all bad even, that kind of invite exploration and I have the time and the resources to investigate some of the issues and concerns slung around the news and TV as if they are for real, while real information is possible. The issues or concerns I bring up and direction I take in researching available information is not the definitive statement in any sense on any issue. But I will make known the sources of the material that I present and make the distinction between my own opinion and the material I find on different subjects. The subjects I choose are those that present themselves to me as I go through life. One can either ignore, deny, suffer or take it on out of/away from resignation towards some kind of responsibility if only to come to an accurate understanding of the issue.

Like, for instance, Friday afternoon I'm driving home from Lafayette feeling happy about the upcoming weekend, satisfied with the day and the week that has passed, when I hear on NPR that Israel may- upon sufficient threat and intimidation from Iran- respond with bombs and the question is air space: Turkey has said no to their coming across their country to bomb Iran, and the US has control of Iraq and may be in a position to not have Israel use Iraq's airspace to bomb Iran. Or not. And, Israel does bomb Iran, the NPR report said, Iran has indicated that the missles reach will extend to the high density area where there is the largest American population of soldiers and workers. Now see, for me it's hard to change the station and go home and have dinner like this is none of my business. What IS there to do? I decide the thing to do is to try to get information from a creditable source. Strangely enough, there wasn't much info on line or otherwise that I could find directly addressing Israel and Iran, but then I found an article in the Washington Post Sunday paper by Jim Hoegland.
The article showed the relationships in the Middle East have a pattern, an understanding that if pressure goes down in one area of the closed Middle East system, it must come out elsewhere. "If Isreal smiles at Syria, Iran must growl at Israel." He went on the describe the process: Israel has approached Iran saberrattling as follows : 1) Israel is moving towards a US led effort in a series of talks in Tehran; 2) Israel is having direct peace talks with Syria in an effort to wean the Arab country from its partial alliance with Iran; and 3) Israel recently accepted a cease fire in Gaza in large part to rebuild political bridges with Egypt. These measures, Hoegland points out have had the effect of their being a new calm last week and bringing down oil prices. Iran then fired off new missles and bragged that they could reach all parts of Israel as well as where the US troops and ships are in the Persion Gulf. Hoegland then goes on to say that the actual threat to global stability has more to do with Tehran than with Bush and Washington. Polarization and conflict help Iranian President Mahmaud Ahmadinejad maintian his shaky grip on power. Bush, only in the past six months, the article states, has stopped playing into Ahmadinejad's political need for conflict and tension. Thus the most significant change in the Middle East scenario is from the US putting public and private pressure on Israel.

And that pressure is focused on the use of sanctions. Israel Ambassador M. Sallai Mandoor has requested that the Worlds' oil companies not sell gasoline that is used by Iran's nuclear scientists, as well as sanctions on insurance and maritime and air transportation that would raise the cost of Iran's doing business.

Somehow the Washington Post article gave some gravitas to the floaty threats and intimidating blurbs from the radio and TV news. It even sounded hopeful to me.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


Last night my son mentioned going to see Wall-E, always ahead of us in music and film but his choices not necessarily always in the realm of our interest, or vice versa. Then reviews this morning from Frank Rich of the New York Times sealed the deal. My husband is an artist and loves Pixar films, but I'm only thinking CARS was fun because I was with my two grandsons. But no, Pixar has come up with a film that as Frank Rich today in the New York Times, states is an enormous box office Independence Weekend success, similar to Farrenheit 9/11 which prior to this had the largest summer weekend success. 2004, Rich points out, looks like the good old days compared to now: Today Oil is $140/barrell compared to $38/barrell then; The June 2008 stock market has taken its greatest dive since the depression, there are layoffs and forclosures across all income line and no end in sight. WALL-E, Rich describes as a robot meets robot lovestory set in the smoldering and abandoned earth of the year 2700; he observes the effect on the young audience predominantly under 12 with the film featuring visual and musical similarities to the film 2001:A Space Oddysey; he points out that it's a story not about good over evil but an awakening, an inspiration to take care of the world as we know it before time runs out.

Rich began the article talking about getting away from the 24/7 coverage of the presidential campaign, it's clatter and crass filling our lives claiming to represent the real world, but his take on WALL-E is this is where we can find more reality about the world, any semblance of truth. Further he thinks Obama and McCain should see this film, as they have both slide into the complacency of their candidacies looking to dodge and weave their way into the white house. Who doesn't find it alarming to consider Obama using Mark Penn and other Clinton staffers and directing his campaign towards the middle to pander votes.

It's hard not to see I have noticed since Obama's candidacy nomination the deft oppotunistic moves away from his stand on government snooping, and conditions on ending the war using the "the generals to inform his decisions when I am President". Trying to be everyman's man just never has really worked, just like Lincoln said: " You can fool some of the people some of the time..." Impossible to tolerate it seems to me. It's like the Safeway/Clintons or Bush moved out of the shopping center and Albertsons /Obama or McCain moved in and life goes on. Trying hard not to notice but can't help but see the Vice Presidency issue is huge this time around.

Nora Ephron today in the Huffington Post had a column on Gore as the Vice Presidential candidate with all the attributes Obama needs, especially his strong immutable stake in all the important issues of our times. He wouldn't change jerseys no matter what was required of him I'm thinking.

But back to Rich who had somethings to say about McCain that rang true also. The real problem with McCain is not his age in terms of number of years, he says, but his rigidity and the fact that he is willing to not do as much as develop computer skills to engage with the rest of the world, and remains in fixed position where flexible and creative thinking is the very least we can have with the new leader of the Western world.

So we will be off to WALL-E and what I'm wanting from the film is that there is the renewal of spirit to buttress people to withstand the campaign propoganda to determine their own information and action to take to back that up. The cable network is selling us on news while they sell cars, drugs and other network shows. Back to the Safeway analogy, when we go to the store, we decide on the product we want that suits us and know all the clerks are there making a living and don't know what we need or want. We'd hardly be looking to them to guide our decisions or pocketbooks; same is true for all of the self important newscasters with their opinions and selling points toward some position that has a lifespan of 5 minutes till the next thing comes along. We're on our own here.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


Recently I heard "Rushed Limbo" (you know who I mean) say on the radio at 9 AM, Democrats hate soldiers and it's so unfair that the service men are going to come home to nothing because the Democrats hate soldiers. Not the first time I've heard this man do his insane rant designed to confuse and abuse reason. Nothing could be further from the truth I thought; all of us, everyone of us feels the incredible sense of loss and heartache over the in many cases late teen, early '20's soldiers whose lives have been lost or will never be the same. The Post Traumatic Stress indicator of perhaps 49% of the soldiers who will admit to symptoms of PTSD are only the tip of the iceberg they say, because in the military if you admit to that form of fragility or damage, you could be put out of the military poste haste or at least have your function limited and diminished. No Democrats don't hate Soldiers, they hate the lies that sent them to do duty that has been destructive hurting the people we supposedly are helping beyond scope and measure; they hate the poor care and respect the soldiers receive upon their homecomings; they hate the lack of standards that allowed in soldiers who are not equipped to deal with the war, barely able to function and seeing poor alternatives outside the military getting in because of the limited entry standards.
Patriotism is a word that is being cast about to attempt to reduce the value of the distinctions of individuality which is what this country was based on. Anybody who didn't read or see on HBO John Adams ought to do whatever it takes to take in the information of what actually patriotism looks like. It has rough edges, it is combative, it is the willingness to see where mistakes have been made - mistakes are a fact, it's the admitting and cleaning up that makes for courage. Time's article by Richard Stengel on The New Patriotism makes the distinction between the conservative and liberal strains of what is definited as patriotism and through which they debate their politics. "The True Patriot" by Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer is the New Patriotism means appreciating what's great about our country but what it takes to creat and sustain greatness.

Paternalism is not necessary patriotic and on Father's Day on NPR, there was an amazing program discussing both Obama and McCain's relationships with their fathers on tape from their books on their fathers. So different and so much the same. McCain's Admiral father whose father was an Admiral was a hero figure not often present with his family in naval life. But the father's presence in spirit as the moral judge of how McCain measured his own conduct was a primary influence sustained all the way through his POW capture and release. It was noted that his father ordered the bombing over the area where he was known to be a POW. McCain felt privileged with having his father as a presence in his life, even though their contact was limited and in his dad's later years he was exposed to what his father became, somewhat bitter and alcoholic and a man he couldn't relate to or identify when McCain was in his company during those times. The relationship with his father he credited with the hold he had over himself of not wanting to disappoint his father or let his country down irregardless of whatever they did to him, in prison.
Obama's father was a Head man in Kenya, and therefore Obama was a prince in the tribal group where his father lived, Obama reports in the tape of his book The Dreams of My Father. He was taken away by his mother to the US and had no contact with his father and in the absence of that contact, he made up who his father was with family stories. These stories had him take on rigorous moral standards for himself pleasing his grandparents and mother, but actually designed to meet the height of strength that he attributed to his father. When his father died, he returned to his father's country and there he heard different stories about who his father was: am embittered man who turned to drink in the losses that were the mainstay of his later years.

In both cases, the imagined status of the father propelled the sons to take on strong moral stances, higher and harder positions in valuing service and patriotism. McCain has had the reputation of a Maverick, a loner who doesn't fit it, not a very popular Republican candidate with only 33% of the Republican donors coming through for him because of his reliance not on the ideals of other people's interpretion of what is right, but marking his own territory. Obama, mixed race child of a single mother has a wider and more inclusive interpretation and perspective. Both have taken on the view of America having a greatness of purpose, but defining what their role will be is the history we are about to see unfold.

Each of us are patriots, back to the John Adams book, to the degree we work to see our truth and act in ways that demonstrate that democracy exists simply because we say so. It is a concept we fill out by how we see and act out our view of how we see the world and the responsibility we take to bring about the elements of the Declaration of Independence. It lives through us or not at all. Pretty scairy stuff, and something to be excited about in this election.
Happy 4th of July!


The July edition of Newsweek had a riveting article by Lorraine Ali: Who Says Kids Make You Happy. Turns out that Daniel Gilbert's 2006 book "Stumbling on Happiness" indicates that marital satisfaction dsecreases dramatically after the birth of the firs tchild, and increases only after the last child has left home. Arthur C. Brooks, Author of 2008 "Gross National Happiness" finds that parents are Italicabout 7 percentage points less likely to report being happy than the childless. This goes against the cultural graine for sure and the authors reported getting hate mail in response to some of their survey work according to Robin Simon, a sociology professor who gathered information from 13,000 families. The childless couples, it is suggested, must feel redeemed for their heretofore unpopular stance of choosing child free marriages.

Then again in a recent Time magazine series on love, the research showed that while falling in love a temporary insanity highly positive in value, has a term limit of approximately 18 months, and that the mythology of the 7 year itch where the bloom is off the rose, the honeymoon is over, and intensity in the relationship is diminished-is an actual measureable outcome. In the state of being in love, as opposed to before was researched What makes people happy in love is how they feel about themselves as much as how they feel about their fascination with the object of their affection. However, after 7 years people pretty much go back to whatever their former state of happiness or unhappiness before the falling in love.

Seems like what makes people happy is themselves: what they choose to put their attention on or are compelled to find attractive that requires something more of themselves that they respond to than they would find within themselves would be one assessment of these studies reported.

Having a necessary funtion/role/passion fulfills and maybe that's what makes us happy. Another report of the Newsweek July 7th article is that married people are significantly less likely than the unmarried to visit their parents or siblings; 80% of the unmarried contacted parents with the the past month was the report. Hmmm, so what makes us happy might be intimate contact and two can be the loneliest number accordingly to this data, wedded bliss and isolation chosen over contact outside the unit.

My happiness is all about intimate contact sharing my life with other people, experiencing what other people feel and care about even if I don't agree with them. That is the very reason for this blog. How about you? Who's happy out there and what do you attribute to your state of happiness or unhappiness?