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On the lighter side of life... 

#1445: Tommy, Riposa in Pace

requiescat in pace

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Trump & The Mob

http-//www.politico.com#13C5A6C

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"Give me your tired, your poor

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore

Send these, the homeless, tempest-toss'd to me

I lift my lamp beside the Golden Door."

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Hundreds of Oregon Corporations Escape the Minimum Tax

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Half of the US Is Broke

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The myth of the Christian country

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“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

FDR, 2nd Inaugural Address, Jan 20, 1937

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A Just Peace

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SIP contract online

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Middle East friendship chart

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Corporations enriching shareholders

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- Intel tax abatements

- INTEL, come clean!

- Leashing INTEL  

- Free to Be Hungry

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Facts not fiction on universal gun background checks

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"Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere"

Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963

Martin Luther King, Jr.

The GOP - Not One of US.

Wall Street, our new criminal class...       

   Business in the USA is sitting on $2 trillion dollars refusing to invest their own funds in expanding and hiring workers.  

   When one adds to this the reserves that banks, equity firms and hedge funds have - the picture is clear - "capitalism in the USA is on strike." 

   The engine of our economy - the spirit of entrepreneurship is not in evidence today.  So much for business being dynamic and risk taking. 

   They hire K- Street lobbyists and their ilk at the state level because they are averse to risk taking - pleading for tax breaks, tax credits and endless loopholes. 

   The "business of business" in America today is not about job creation, it's about wealth hoarding and redistribution from the middle class to the top 1%. 

   So for those who claim government doesn't create jobs, my response is that business doesn't either until given "corporate welfare" by government.  The fact is that the private and public sector are highly integrated, something the anti-tax, anti-government Tea Party types don't understand. 

   Job creation requires public/private partnerships but the benefits of such collaboration should go to the 99% not just the 1%.  

 

RAD'S

WEBSITE PICKS: 


 

  • An Independent View

Oregon Outpost

  • A Middle East View      

Rami G. Khouri

  • RealClearPolitics:

Realclearpolitics

  • Jim Hightower:   

Jimhightower.com

  • Robert Reich:

Robert Reich

  • Thomas Friedman: 

Friedman Column

  • Nicholas Kristof: 

Kristof Column

Oregon's Motto: 

She flies with her own wings! 


Hard Times in Oregon: 

Hardtimes

The Oregon story - the rich get richer, the poor and middle class lose ground.  Check this front page Oregonian article out. 

Oregon wage gap widens

Homelessness in Oregon - a call to action

Chuck Currie The crisis of homelessness


  

      Oregon's coming 34th out of 41 states in the Obama "Race to the Top" illustrates the failure of leadership from Governor Kitzhaber and his predecessors as they have built an educational bridge to nowhere called high stakes testing.

   Instead of being in a race to the top we seem to be dumpster diving to the bottom despite doing education reform since 1991.  Insanity is termed doing the same thing over and over again.  When can we put a fork in this stupidity? 

   To confuse matters more the Oregonian's editorial board has pontificated that this was a lost opportunity to get federal funding for innovation.  How firing principals and teachers equals innovation is a mystery to me.   

   The way to reform schools is to reduce class sizes, to encourage teacher collaboration and to support their continued education.  High stakes testing and performance based assessment of teachers are NOT the answer!    

   If you want students to succeed you first have to resolve the issues they confront before they come to school.  Children who face poverty, hunger, homelessness, health care issues and family instability require wrap around services for them and their families, 24/7.   

   Every child needs a safe home of their own and parents who know how to be good parents.   

There is only one way to address this impending crisis.  Schools must have a stable source of funding. Until that happens - we will limp from crisis to crisis.   

 

 

    

    Why does the richest nation in the world have the moral blight of homeless people?

Invisible People

http://www.npr.org


 Homelessness

    Connecting the dots between homelessness & hunger in Oregon and Washington County: 

Homelessness:  

•    The faces of the homeless are families with children, single men and women, vets, and many who are impaired. It is estimated that in Washington County up to 56% of homelessness occurs to families.

Hunger:

•    Hunger is highest among single mother households (10%) and poor families (15%) as well as renters, unemployed workers and minority households. 

     In Washington County, Oregon's "economic engine," the divide between the affluent and the working poor continues.  We have a 19,000 unit gap in affordable low income rental housing.  County political and business leaders are indifferent to this crisis...   


A RAD rhetorical question - Were Madison & Marx "Marxists"?  

 

"History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments."   

- James Madison

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RAD Lines

See my FACEBOOK @ Russ

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  • He lost by 2.9 million votes...

  • He's a con artist...

  • He's a pathological liar... 

  • He's a failed business man...

  • He's a fascist... 


Every Fascist Needs an Enabler. Donald Trump Will Have Mike Pence.


Trump's role models are Vladmir Putin and Benito Mussolini.  He has contempt for our checks and balances system.  He wants to "rule" not govern like a strong man, a despot.  He will shredd the Constitution anytime he feels the urge to do so and like all despots he only listens to his inner circle.  And he is paranoid and narcissistic. 

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SB 1533 passes!  

http://oregon.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=6&clip_id=10863

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Housing Needs in Oregon 

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"There are men who believe that democracy... is limited or measured by a kind of mystical and artificial fate [and that] tyranny and slavery have become the surging wave of the future..." 

FDR, 3rd Inaugural Address, Jan 20, 1941

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Mourning for a Judaism Being Murdered by Israel

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Taking on the Pro-Israel Lobby 

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Sign the petition ►

Walgreens - pay your fair share of taxes!


  • "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws." - Mayer Amschel Rothschild


  • Miguel de Cervantes, from The Duke - "I accuse you of being an idealist, a bad poet and an honest man."  Cervantes' response - "Guilty as charged, I have never had the courage to believe in nothing."   from Man of La Mancha  


Intel failed to report fluoride emissions for almost 30 years   


Professor Kingfield, from the Paper Chase

   "I'm not a teacher: only a fellow traveler of whom you asked the way. I pointed ahead – ahead of myself as well as you." 

- George Bernard Shaw

 

BLOGS:

From the Left Wing:

Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman - The New York Times

Democracy Now
democracynow.org

The Daily Kos

dailykos.com

Blue Oregon

blueoregon.com

 

"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." 

- Emilie Buchwald 

 


    "Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year’s Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation’s confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law." 

- Justice John Paul Stevens, Bush v. Gore, 2001

    The state of our union - check out the map, it's a reality check for those who can't figure out why people are so ticked off... 

americanobserver

    Here's Garrison Keillor's rap on the rightwingnuts:   

GarrisonKeillor

 

     Garrison Keillor - "...The Founding Fathers intended the Senate to be a fount of wisdom... but when you consider...  moon-faced Mitch McConnell, your faith in democracy is challenged severely. Any legislative body in which 41 senators from rural states that together represent 10 percent of the population can filibuster you to death is going to be flat-footed, on the verge of paralysis, no matter what. Any time 10 percent of the people can stop 90 percent, it's like driving a bus with a brake pedal for each passenger. That's why Congress has a public approval rating of [11] percent...." 



"Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war"

- John Adams

"Loyalty to country always.  Loyalty to government when it deserves it."  

- Mark Twain  

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”  

- George Santayana 

"The love of one's country is a natural thing.  But why should love stop at the border?" 

- Pablo Casals

"Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned; the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." 

- William Butler Yeats  

 

"You see things; and you say, 'Why?' 

But I dream things that never were; and I say, "Why not?"  

- George Bernard Shaw, "Back to Methuselah" (1921) 

"...the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society...  The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government..."  

- James Madison, Federalist Papers #11 

"Why … should we have government? Why not each individual take to himself the whole fruit of his labor, without having any of it taxed away?”   

The legitimate object of government, is to do for the people whatever they need to have done, but which they can not do, at all, or can not do, so well, for themselves – in their separate and individual capacities … There are many such things … roads, bridges and the like; providing for the helpless young and afflicted; common schools … the criminal and civil [justice] departments."    

- Abraham Lincoln 

Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society  

- Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. 

"Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests, which interests each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against other agents and advocates, but Parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole..." 

- Edmund Burke  

“It is a maxim among these lawyers that whatever hath been done before may legally be done again, and therefore they take special care to record all the decisions formerly made against common justice and the general reason of mankind.  These, under the name of precedents, they produce as authorities, to justify the most iniquitous opinions.”  

- Jonathan Swift 

" Every satirist who drew breath has flung pots of ink at this parade of tooting lummoxes and here it is come round again, marching down Main Street, rallying to the cause of William McKinley, hail, hail, the gang’s all here, ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay."  

- Garrison Keillor 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

  

 


  

 

Monday
Dec172007

DUBYA'S LEGACY

    It's the norm for late term presidents to try to shape their final months in office with a look toward their legacy.  However, George W. Bush will have no such option, he laid down his marker early in his presidency as an editorial from The Nation recently noted:
    On September 20, 2001, before a joint session of Congress, President George W. Bush declared, "Our war on terror begins with Al Qaeda, but it does not end there.... Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists."
    As it turned out, those fateful words ushered in not a concerted worldwide campaign against militant fundamentalism but a wave of repression felt around the globe.  Instead of being a standard-bearer for human rights and civil liberties, the United States lowered the bar, creating  secret prisons or "black sites," erecting Guantnamo, rationalizing torture and curtailing civil liberties at home.
    The US-fashioned "global war on terror" (GWOT) was then replicated in country after country, adapting to local circumstances to provide rhetorical refuge for tyrants and forsaking democratic principles.  [The] "war on terror" has been invoked to arrest and torture prodemocracy activists in Egypt, round up street vendors and protesters in El Salvador, rationalize politically motivated assassinations in the Philippines, jail bloggers and censor websites in Thailand and condone military dictatorship in Pakistan.
    The criminalization of dissent is not new to these places, and it does not always reflect US intervention or security interests.  But the "war on terror" is a new paradigm, and it has proven remarkably versatile and severely damaging. While purporting to protect democracy against its enemies, the "war on terror" has become one of them. 
    RAD:  Which Democratic presidential candidate is most likely to continue the war on terrorism and the assault on civil liberties at home or abroad?   Hillary Clinton voted for the war;  Barack Obama spoke out against it;  Hillary Clinton voted to brand Iran's CudsForce as a terrorist group;  Barack Obama did not.  Hillary Clinton has said there will be a US military footprint in Iraq for a long time;  Barack Obama is pledged to bring the troops home in 16 months.
    It's our choice - do we want the "OLD" thinking in power in the West Wing after January 20, 2009 or the "NEW" thinking?   Do you want the politics of the "same old, same old" albeit in a new face or the politics of hope with another new face?  The voices of "experience" led us into the worst foreign policy disaster in US history.  It's time for a change - Vote for Barack Obama, he was right on from the beginning while Hillary was and is still wrong!
    Despite her makeup and gender, Hillary is an "inside the beltway" pol, a tool of K-Street, a panderer to the pro-Israel lobby and the latest version of a "Cold Warrior."  Like Hubert Humphrey in '68 if she did a late campaign conversion on the war in Temple Square it would be too little and too late.  We should NOT elect anyone because of their gender, race or party but because they are right on the issues of the time. 

Saturday
Dec152007

BITS & PIECES

The New Gilded Age:
    According to the Congressional Budget Office the gap between the "haves" and "have knots" in the USA continues to grow. If one considers the likely impact of the sub-prime loan fiasco this gap will increase significantly over the next few years, as African-American and Latino families who used this type of finance package face foreclosure and the end of their American Dream of home ownership.
    Income inequality among households, both before and after Federal taxes, grew more quickly over the last two years 2003-05, than over any other two-year period on record, back to 1979,

    * If we break households in groups of 20 percent each by income, well over half of household income (55 percent) was held by the richest fifth in 2005, the highest such share on record;
    * The share of income held by the top 1 percent has climbed from 9 percent in 1979 to 18 percent in 2005.
    * After-tax income of the bottom 20 percent grew 6 percent, or $1,800 over these years (1979-2005, in 2005 dollars); the middle-class gained $11,000, up 21 percent, over these 26 years. The average income of the top 1 percent, more than tripled, up 228 percent, for a gain of $781,000.
    * By 2005, the average post-tax income of the bottom fifth was $15,300, the middle fifth: $50,200, and the top 1 percent: $1.1 million.

    Many experts consider such concentration of income shakes the essential middle class economic foundation a democratic society, Such a pattern of wealth misdistribution is associated with developing nations where political systems are often convulsed with civil wars only to devolve into authoritarian dictatorships. While the US shows no signs of such political chaos, is it possible that the Bush/Cheney regime's embrace of "presidential authoritarianism" is a more benign reflection of a more "friendly form of authoritarianism, i.e. fascism?"

Contempt for Rove, Bolten:
    The Senate Judiciary Committee has just approved contempt citations for Josh Bolten and Karl Rove, citing the president's chief of staff and former top political advisor for failing to comply with subpoenas issued as part of the committee's investigation of the firing of U.S. attorneys last year.
    Republicans Arlen Specter and Charles Grassley joined 10 Democrats in voting in favor of the citations. But such citations are meaningless unless they survive a vote on the Senate floor which is not likely to happen given the ability of the minority GOP to block majority rule by using filibuster and cloture rules to stop such initiatives.
    Besides any prosecution would be handled by the U.S. Attorney's Office in the District of Columbia until Jan. 20, 2009 which serves at the pleasure of George W. Bush, whose people have already declared that the office "would not be permitted to bring contempt charges or convene a grand jury in an executive privilege case."
    So the contempt the Bush administration has consistently shown for the rule of law and the checks and balances system will no doubt frustrate such moves. There is only one solution to such obstructionism - to put a Democrat in the White House and to elect an overwhelming Democratic majority in both the House and Senate in '08.

The Tragedy of the Commons:
    An essay from Ross Gelbspan [thanks to Eric Canon], who's retired from a 30-year career as an editor and reporter at The Philadelphia Bulletin, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe highlights the challenges we face because of global climate change. He is author of The Heat Is On and Boiling Point, and he maintains the website heatisonline.org. His article concludes with the following commentary:
    "The key to our survival as a civil species during an era of profound natural upheaval lies in an enhanced sense of community. If we maintain the fiction that we can thrive as isolated individuals, we will find ourselves at the same emotional dead end as the current crop of survivalists: an existence marked by defensiveness, mistrust, suspicion, and fear.
    As nature washes away our resources, overwhelms our infrastructures, and splinters our political alignments, our survival will depend increasingly on our willingness to join together as a global community. As the former Argentine climate negotiator, Raul Estrada-Oyuela, said, "We are all adrift in the same boat -- and there's no way half the boat is going to sink."
    To keep ourselves afloat, we need to change the economic and political structures that determine how we behave. In this case, we need to elevate the ethic of cooperation over the deeply ingrained reflex of competition. We need to elevate our biological similarities over our geographical differences. We need, in the face of this oncoming onslaught, to reorganize our social structures to reflect our most humane collective aspirations.
    There is no body of expertise -- no authoritative answers -- for this one. We are crossing a threshold into uncharted territory. And since there is no precedent to guide us, we are left with only our own hearts to consult, whatever courage we can muster, our instinctive dedication to a human future -- and the intellectual integrity to look reality in the eye."

Corporate Tax Evaders: 
    According to a recent Business Week online story at the head of the list of corporations who have learned how to slice and dice the tax code to their benefit here are some of the leaders of the pack:
    • CMS Energy (CMS, news, msgs), 0% of earnings spent on taxes over the past five years;
    • Chesapeake Energy (CHK, news, msgs), 0.3%;
    • Boeing (BA, news, msgs), 0.7%;
    • Broadcom (BRCM, news, msgs), 1.1%; and
    • Florida Power & Light (FPL, news, msgs), 1.2%).
    For the entire S&P 500, by contrast, the average percentage of earnings spent on taxes was 26% -- still well under the 35% stated corporate tax rate. Those lobbyists from K Street really earn their fees don't they?

Gen X and Y: 
    Naomi Wolf in a recent op ed piece asked the rhetorical question - "Is America still America if millions of us no longer know how democracy works?"
    Wolf noted that when "…I speak on college campuses, I find that students are either baffled by democracy's workings or that they don't see any point in engaging in the democratic process. Sometimes both.
    Not long ago, I gave a talk at a major university in the Midwest. "They're going to raze our meadows and put in a shopping mall!" a young woman in the audience wailed. "And there's nothing we can do!" she said, to the nods of young and old alike.
    I stared at her in amazement and asked how old she was. When she said 26, I suggested that she run for city council. Then she stared at me-- with complete incomprehension. It took me a long time to convince her and her peers in the audience that what I'd suggested was possible, even if she didn't have money, a major media outlet of her own or a political "machine" behind her…"
    RAD: My own reaction to Wolf's argument is that that apathy and collective narcissism is not an option. Politics is not a dead end but the only means of creating change.
    Those of us in '60s generation who "didn't drop out" or "drop acid" acted on the faith that the system could be changed and were the "enablers" of the Civil Rights Acts of 64/65, the peace movement, the environmental movement, the feminist movement, got 18 year olds the vote and put Title IX, ADA and gay rights on the agenda of mainstream American politics! 
    Democratic government is messy and complex. The problem with today's youth is that they've been told they are the "best ever" - they are NOT... that everything centers on them - IT DOES NOT... and that they can have anything they want - MINUS STRUGGLE... total BS...
    Change does not come by the post-modernist cant to "deconstruct" reality, it comes by learning how the system works and doing the heavy lifting of engaging in "politics" (a la Bernard Crick, IN DEFENSE OF POLITICS).
    Does politics make a difference. Does anyone out there really think that Al Gore winning in '00 wouldn't have made a huge difference? Do you think we'd be in Iraq now? Do you think we'd face a global warming crisis close to a tipping point?
    The best thing college students could do this year is to move to Iowa and New Hampshire - like my generation in '68 did getting "Clean for Gene" or getting RFK on the ballot.  As Pogo once said "You are either part of the problem or part of the solution."

Movie Review: Avalon
320-6J.jpg    Tonight while surfing HD channels from our basic cable system I came across a movie by writer-director Barry Levinson produced in 1990 entitled Avalon, a semi-autobiographical portrayal of a Russian-Jewish immigrant family with roots in pre-WW I Baltimore. The ensemble of actors included Armin Mueller-Stahl, Aidan Quinn, Elizabeth Perkins and Joan Plowright.
    The story captures the vibrancy and frailties of the immigrant American family across the generations from the early 20th century to the 1950s. It brought back memories of growing up in Seattle with my own extended family, especially my paternal Italian-American roots. But there were also echoes of my maternal German-American family as well. As they say the acorn doesn't fall too far from the tree - despite our best efforts to distance ourselves.
    Immigrant Sam Krichinsky and his extended family seek a dream called America in a place called Avalon. The Krichinsky family faces a changing world with enduring humor and abiding love. The closely-knit family is challenged by assimilation into middle class and suburban American culture. But the grandfather builds a close relationship with his grandson telling and retelling the story of his arrival in the US on the Fourth of July in 1914.
    My father was a wonderful storyteller regaling me with stories about his growing up during the Great Depression. He left home when he was 16 and road the railroad from Seattle to Minnesota, not in coach or first class but in a boxcar like many working class Americans in those days. He made it sound thrilling, in typical fashion for his generation, by sparing me the more bitter details.
    But as the Krichinsky story winds on fond memories of my own extended family are recalled.  But most importantly, it's not just the biological connection of family that tugs at me, but the sense of family values which comes from the extended family I inherited through marriage and deep personal friendships gained over 65 plus years.
    We constantly reinvent family in the USA in ways that are threatening to those who want to hold onto the "traditional" definition of the term.  But the enduring truth for me is that we need "to invent family" it if it doesn't exist for us or if we lose it at some point in time. Having been there and done that what's important to me is that Avalon is a reminder that we never walk alone because we all have a history - of family and friends.
    Sometime we just need to be reminded of it... 

 

Friday
Dec142007

YOUR CHEATIN HEART

images.jpg    Baseball's culture of corruption:  Thanks to former US Senator George Mitchell's investigation of performance enhancing drug use in MLB we know that over 80 players including luminaries such as Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens, Gary Sheffield, Andy Pettite and many more players are alleged to have indulged in this practice.
    It would be tempting to drum these "studs" out of the game or deny them any chance to being inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame (or should it renamed - the Hall of Shame?).  However, history will note their accomplishments with an asterisk at the very least.  Bonds of course may face a worse fate than this and actually do jail time if convicted for lying to a federal grand jury.
    One suspects that previous generations of major league players weren't anymore scrupulous about the letter of the law in baseball or otherwise.  Certainly Ty Cobb wouldn't get any rewards for sportsmanship and Mickey Mantle was a well known drunk in and out of MLB along with others in the game.
    The NBA ad from several years ago done by Sir Charles Barkley is quite pertinent to whit - "I ain't no role model."  Rather than looking for role models from sports, politics or the entertainment industry our kids should look closer to home.  One hopes that Mommy or Daddy dearest rise to the occasion but obviously some failed the test.
    PS:  NPR's political commentators David Brooks (an R and Damn Yankee fan) and E.J.  Dionne (a D and Red Sox Nation fan) took a collective sigh of relief tonight that the users were the older generation of players and didn't include younger stars!
    Dream on - Senator Mitchell's ability to get at the "whole truth and nothing but the truth" was very limited.  One would have to be really naive to believe only a minority of MLB players did it or to assume coaches, managers, GMs or owners didn't know what was going on.  This would be akin to believing Slick Willie didn't know "that" woman... 



 

Thursday
Dec132007

PLAN B

    The most recent CFM Insider Online suggests that a recession may be just around the corner. Here are some key points: 
    CFM:  Talk about a possible recession is no longer just a whisper as the nation enters a critical period of presidential primaries and Oregon's legislature prepares for its experiment with annual sessions next February.
    ...What seems indisputable is that economic growth is leveling off. Consumers are spending less. Capital spending on new equipment is weakening. Corporate profits are down. New employment is still increasing, but at much slower rates...
    ...Recessions come in different flavors. A consumer-led recession produces different consequences than a manufacturing-led recession, especially on a state such as Oregon that is more reliant on basic manufacturing than on consumer products. Problems in the housing market always have bad echoes in Oregon because of impacts on the forest products industry. But the lower dollar could offset that impact by spurring more exports of Oregon goods and services...
    Because the Oregon tax system relies heavily on personal income tax revenues, the most important indicator of all may be employment levels. So far, employment has held relatively steady, even in the construction industry.
    Seasonally adjusted payrolls in Oregon declined slightly in September and October after peaking in August. Despite that slowdown, there were 13,700 more jobs in Oregon this October than a year ago.
    The industries experiencing job declines in October included transportation, which may be the result of the transfer of Freightliner workers, and in utilities. Education, health services and professional and business services posted job gains.
    Construction employment declined on a seasonally adjusted basis by 1,700 jobs in October. Something in the range of 1,200 lost jobs is more typical. However, the overall industry's employment level of 102,000 workers falls into the normal range.
    Ironically, the next Oregon economic and revenue forecast is due out March 1, but will probably be aired while the legislature is in session in late February. That could provide stronger evidence of a looming economic downturn, even if it doesn't allow many legislative days to prepare a response. It's possible the March forecast won't signal a trend in any direction, leaving lawmakers to cross their fingers for the best, but worry about the worst.
    Governor Kulongoski will be studying economic tea leaves intently as his administration begins to prepare a proposed 2009-2011 budget. At the moment, projections show Kulongoski will be able to spend an additional $1 billion in the next biennium, but a recession could erase some or all of that discretionary revenue. Declining revenue projections may trim what the governor is able to propose in terms of fortified spending for K-12 education, higher education and other state services.
    Consumer spending in Oregon may get a pre-holiday boost as more than $1 billion in personal income tax kicker refund checks started arriving in mailboxes this week.
    RAD:  If the recession comes - it will not only "trim" what the governor wants to add to the 2009-11 budget, it will also sacrifice those least able to weather such an economic downturn.  It also illustrates how lopsided our revenue system in Oregon is being so dependent on the individual income tax.  It's another reason for fundamental tax reform, not just more tinkering around the edges! 

Thursday
Dec132007

DOES MITT PASS THE TOLERANCE TEST?

    By Floyd McKay, "Romney's "symphony" should also embrace freedom from religion," December 12, 2007, Seattle Times   
    Mitt Romney gave a ringing endorsement Thursday to religious freedom, but his speech failed to satisfy in two respects, and neither is likely to go away soon.
    For evangelical Christians, his real audience, Romney didn't address — really he cannot address — theological issues separating Mormons from mainstream Christians. He's not a Mormon official.
    Candidates for public office cannot satisfy either those who want them to be missionaries for their faith or those who want them to renounce it. Fortunately, most Americans aren't that demanding.
    Republicans found religion to be good politics in 1980, but Ronald Reagan espoused a generic Christianity. George W. Bush went much further, surrounding himself with evangelicals and pursuing policies that played to a narrow ideological base. Bush pushed his religion in our face like a never-ending prayer breakfast.
    Candidates for the 2008 Republican nomination must deal with voters for whom some sort of religious declaration is required. Thus Romney, the third Mormon to make a serious run for president, became the first to feel obliged to speak about religion.
    His father, George Romney, was a serious candidate in 1968 — a popular governor and businessman — but I watched him flail and fall in the snows of New Hampshire, an uncertain candidate unable to connect with the voters. He dropped out before religion could become an issue.
    Morris Udall's Democratic candidacy was more durable — he finished second to Jimmy Carter in the 1976 primaries. Congressman Udall was a nonpracticing or secular Mormon, so he didn't face the questions.  
    I liked and respected both men, but felt no need to explore their faith.
    Why must we do so now, in 2007?
    Because conservative evangelicals, a big bloc in the Republican Party, are uneasy with Mormonism. It's not just theology — although there are big differences. Part of the problem is the competition for new worshippers.
    To outsiders, the Mormon church in most communities looks much like the new breed of nondenominational congregations that have been so successful: The emphasis is on "family values," practical challenges of daily life, tithing and regular church attendance. Lead ministers are invariably male; women accept secondary roles. There is a big emphasis on presentation, music and drama.
    American religion is big business, with competition for market share. The rise of the megachurch challenges the phenomenal increase in Mormon membership, already six million in the United States.
    Mormons and evangelicals compete for our rootless population, particularly in the West's new suburbs and exurbs, people desperate for community, a safe and accepting place for their families. Mormon Romney and Baptist Mike Huckabee represent that competition, and for Christian evangelicals it will be difficult to see around it.
    Even with scrupulous adherence to his pledges, a President Romney would elevate his faith to a new level of prominence and acceptability.
    For those of us not caught up in this dispute, Romney's talk disappointed for a different reason.
    Romney vowed to protect freedom for religion from attack by a "religion of secularism." Yet, any objective observer of America in 2007 would find that religion is the least endangered of our basic freedoms. We are perhaps the most religious country in the non-Muslim world. Let a thousand sects compete!
    Historically, religious intolerance in this country often begins with believers of competing faiths, not with secularists.
    Romney is just plain wrong when he says freedom requires religion and religion requires freedom. In fact, religion has often been the enemy of freedom; think Taliban, think Spanish Inquisition. Several of America's Founding Fathers were devotedly secular; most wanted a wall between church and state.
    The Constitution also protects people from religion, from the use of public funds and facilities to promote one brand among our dozens of religious sects. No American religion suffered as much discrimination as Mormons in the 19th century. But the modern church's overwhelming power in Mormon-majority communities in the West has always brought concerns about equal opportunities for nonbelievers.
    Most Americans want someone of faith to lead this nation, and inquiries into the beliefs of candidates are now accepted practice. But many also still feel that the actual practice of faith should be a private affair, not trumpeted from the public podium to fuel the enthusiasm and win the votes of the already saved. Romney was preaching to that choir Thursday.
    He also pledged to honor "a symphony of faith," rejecting the emphasis on a single ideology that has become familiar in recent years.
    That sort of symphony needs to embrace both freedom for religion and freedom from religion, and it is unclear how dedicated Romney is to that principle.
    Floyd J. McKay, a journalism professor emeritus at Western Washington University, is a regular contributor to Times editorial pages.

    RAD:  A'men!