Saturday, May 26, 2012
Friday, May 25, 2012
Smoldering Fire Breaks Out Anew
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Always a Racket
A friend sent me a link to "War is a Racket! Has Anything Changed?" which is an updated play on General Smedley Butler's classic truth about war. On this Memorial Day weekend, it is a truth that should be well remembered, although in modern America we seem to have become very comfortable with that racket to our own economic and societal detriment. Most readers of this humble blog no doubt already know this truth but I pass it along for you to keep in mind. Maybe you will have an opportunity to share it with someone less aware than yourself.
Not only is war a racket, it is an enduring racket. I came across that truth is in a review of War Time: An Idea, Its History, Its Consequences by Mary Dudziak.in The Nation. What really brought the message home to me was this quote:
In almost every year of the last century, American soldiers served in a conflict that qualified for a combat medal. The military criteria for wartime, Dudziak notes, “swallow much of American history.” (emphasis added.)And so far in the 21st century, American soldiers have been eligible for a combat medal. Makes me think that the America's oft-recited pledge should read more like,
I pledge allegiance
To the United States of America
One Nation at war,
Then, now and well into the future.
Sunday, May 20, 2012
The annular eclipse is at totality as I write. I'm watching online since Olympia's cloudy sky offers no direct view. Maybe the sky seems darker but I can't tell for sure.
The online eclipse is pretty good, though. I'm watching on the SLOOH SpaceCamera which has views from California and New Mexico. I am also watching amateur astronomer Scotty Degenhardt broadcasting live from Area 51 in Nevada.
Scotty's site is more animated, moving from the full image to the extremities of the solar crescent as he captured the full sequence through totality in black and white. The SpaceCamera is static view, in color and continuously updated.
Better than I would have seen in Olympia had the sky been clear. I did not have to arrange for protective eyewear.
photo credit: Tom Bridges
Washington is broken. Not a surprise to most anyone who pays attention to public policy in the United States but worth two extended opinion pieces in the Washington Post in the past few weeks. Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, establishment scholars who span the range of acceptable thought, first wrote a four page article on April 27. That article clearly laid blame:
We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.Today they comment on the popular bromides--term limits, balanced budget amendments, third parties--offered as solutions for America's gridlock and dysfunction. Mann and Ornstein dismiss these "fixes" as unworkable, unwise or fantasy (my word). They offer what they call a "more sensible and promising reform agenda...focused on fixing the party system and addressing the roots and the weapons of political partisanship."
All four of their proposals make sense to me. I especially favor instant runoff voting and like the delicious irony of a compulsory voting requirement combined with a lottery funded with fines paid by non-voters.
None of the proposals are likely to fly in Washington. Mann and Ornstein may be pillars of the Washington Establishment but in today's political climate their ideas are as welcome as Marx and Engels.