Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Coming Back on Wall Street

Churchill: "Madam, would you sleep with me for five million pounds?" 

Socialite: "My goodness, Mr. Churchill... Well, I suppose... we would have to discuss terms, of course... "

Churchill: "Would you sleep with me for five pounds?"

Socialite: "Mr. Churchill, what kind of woman do you think I am?!" 

Churchill: "Madam, we've already established that. Now we are haggling about the price”

Less than two years ago former President Obama called income inequality the "defining challenge of our time" and called for an increase in the minimum wage. While president,  Mr. Obama earned a salary of $400,000 a year. Last month, Citizen Obama earned $400,000 for delivering a single speech to clients of the Northern Trust Corp., a private equity firm, with more speeches to Wall Street on the way. 

This latest development fits in with the former president's classic rags to riches American success story. It also means the end of Mr. Obama as a credible reformer of Big Finance or voice speaking out against the widening gap between rich and poor he frequently condemned during his presidency.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Take Back The Night

Way back in the eighties, I attended a planning meeting for a Take Back The Night rally.  I had been at the previous year's rally, but felt it was preaching to the choir. I came to the planning meeting armed with a few ideas, like reaching out to fraternities and sororities to be involved as co-sponsors, or have the college radio station play all female artists the day of the rally. I mentioned the ideas, but didn't follow up or try to persuade the small steering committee group (mostly "wimmen") to adopt them. It was later decided that no men would perform during the rally, so my friend who had an excellent anarcho-femist-punk folk song entitled "Take Back The Night" wouldn't be allowed to sing it that evening due to his having the wrong sort of genitalia. I gave up trying to convince the young women of my media savvy and went to the rally late in a fit of passive aggression. The only thing I remember from that night were some idiots along the march who had a banner mentioning "Ayn Rand" and "Rape" stretched out in front of their apartment.

Since then I've come to realize that the event wasn't about persuading young men (and women) to reconsider their sexist attitudes or outdated views of male-female relations. The point wasn't to make a big media splash or even raise awareness by toning down the more strident atmosphere to make sorority or fraternity members feel more comfortable during such an event.  The type of expression and framing of ideas fit the needs and attitudes of the women who ran the event and had to live with the reality of sexism and sexual predators.  The event organizers and most likely the individuals attending the rally wouldn't be interested in my ideas because it didn't match their priorities or concerns.

Now 30 years later I have 3 daughters of my own who aren't interested in hearing me pontificate about sexuality or the way the world works. I talked my two 14 year olds into singing some reworked chants I remembered from years ago. "Wait a minute" said one as she scanned my scribbled lyrics. "Is this a rape song?"


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Dueling Headlines

Headline #1 (from Nature)

Cloud formation may be linked to cosmic rays

Experiment probes connection between climate change and radiation bombarding the atmosphere.

Headline #2 (from Forbes

Sorry, But With Global Warming It's The Sun, Stupid

The lead author of the research referenced in both articles is quoted in Nature about the implications of the research for global warming: "At the moment, it actually says nothing about a possible cosmic-ray effect on clouds and climate, but it's a very important first step."

Sunday, May 12, 2013

I am Holy Disappointed

I was a visitor at a Catholic service today. The sermon was delivered by a remarkable priest from Nigeria and was meant to be positive, but it still depressed me. He began by thanking the church and United States' generosity, then later recommended the wonderful restaurant McDonalds and the even more affordable soup kitchen a few blocks away. He praised America for being a nation blessed by God, admiring the "sea of drugs" in Walmart and CVS pharmacy when so many of his countrymen are sick and malnourished with no access to medical care. He condemned the "enemies" of the church such as the media for sensationalizing the pedophilia scandal and HIV crisis in Africa, and for not covering the persecution of Catholics by Islam in Nigeria. He went on to describe horror stories of the conditions in Africa, and how people are being shot or burned alive by Muslim fundamentalists while leaving church, and said of the church's enemies, "we are better than them."

I'm sure if I had even experienced a fraction of what this man had gone through, I would probably be even more hostile to Islam-but fortunately for me, I am not. I'm wary of any religious message that includes "we are better than you," or "this country is blessed by God," which logically means Nigeria must be cursed by God.

The comments I heard from others after the service were "he hit it out of the ball park" and "he spoke The Truth!" I'm sure the congregation was uplifted by his message - and donated generously to the second offering specifically for charity. One visitor to the church said she wanted to go home to get her check book so she could come back to the next service and donate more. A cynical thought occurred to me that the sermon, with its lavish praise of America, might be a well crafted fund raising appeal. Even if it was, there's nothing wrong with persuading people to donate money for good works. What bothers me is how this message would translate to another religious group or setting. Condemning another religion entirely as an enemy, dismissing reports of abuse that has happened in one's own religion, and claiming this one true denomination's people are better than everyone else is arrogance.

Monday, October 8, 2012

If Only She Were Still Around

President Obama has been accused of being an extreme liberal and a socialist. Unfortunately he is neither. His description of his mother as a New Deal Democrat is one made by a Third Way pragmatist. It is affectionate but still has a touch of non-partisan dismissiveness of her liberal idealism.

One of the sleaziest aspects to the WND/birther conspiracy crazies are their attacks on Stanley Ann Dunham. How history will judge President Obama is uncertain, but the crackpots who spread rumors about his mother will be grouped along with the Klan and Neo-nazis for their desperate trash talk.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Out of Control


The Associated Press reports:

Russian girl band Pussy Riot on trial for anti-Putin stunt

Charged with hooliganism for staging 'punk prayer' protest at church

The line in the story that caught my eye was:

Patriarch Kirill has condemned the rockers' act as "blasphemous" and denounced those believers who called for the church to forgive them. 

It's sad to see another religious leader denouncing those preaching forgiveness.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Wisdom of Doctor Doom

Dr. Doom (Nouriel Roubini): "Karl Marx Had It Right. At Some Point, Capitalism Can Destroy Itself. You Cannot Keep On Shifting Income From Labor To Capital Without Having An Excess Capacity And A Lack Of Aggregate Demand"

 If You Redistribute All of the Wealth Upwards, the Free Market Capitalist System Self-Destructs 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012



— Jul. 22 3:14 PM EDT
US poverty on track to rise to highest since 1960s