Mort Mather Author Writer Organic Farmer Philosopher Thinker Restauranteur

How to improve your life and save the world.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Put an armed person in every school.

     Geraldo Rivera opined that there should be armed guards in every school or, at least, have someone, the principle, a janitor, a history teacher, with a gun. This is a bad idea on so many fronts but take just one.
     Turn Sandy Hook into a video game and give the principle a gun and you play the principle. You hear gun shots, breaking glass and someone coming down the hall. Do you, gun in hand, open the door? Would you be able to shoot the man with the automatic weapon before he shot you? Would you have an automatic weapon, too, and just spray bullets through the door without seeing the intruder, without any care for any other person who might be in the hall?
     Let’s change the game and give the gun to the janitor. He hears shots, grabs his gun and goes running. He sees the principle lying in a pool of blood and hears shots from a classroom. He runs to the classroom and shoots the man with the gun. Good job! Only ten kids dead instead of twenty.
     My idea is to eliminate automatic weapons, that is, weapons that fire continuously as long as you hold down the trigger. If this guy had to pull the trigger each time he fired it would have slow him down. He would not likely have put so many rounds into the principle and each of his victims. Unless he was an excellent shot there would probably have been more survivors and he would not have been able to shoot as many people. Sure demented people and/or people who have been desensitized by shoot-um-up video games will still be around and will still do horrible things. Sure we should try to keep any gun out of the hands of the demented and we should do something about the desensitizing effect of some video games but the number one, hands down, action we should take is to make it illegal to manufacture, sell or own any weapon that fires multiple rounds with one pull of the trigger.
     I have asked the members of my congressional delegation to sponsor such legislation. Now!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

US debt, defict

A letter from my sister
A few weeks have passed since the election, and what is happening is all pretty boring.  I am getting turned off from politics.  All that hype about Benghazi and now Egypt and Syria…it is so depressing, in particular with regards to America becoming involved.  America has its own problems.  America is deeply in debt.  Why the hell does America have to lend money or provide military support to other countries unless we are OK ourselves?  Gosh darn, we are not OK!  Our debt is humungous!  Now as you know I don’t know anything about economics, but I simply cannot understand why the US for example continues to lend enormous amounts of money to other countries when we are in debt ourselves. It is just so disgusting, I am about to crawl back into my shell.

 Dear Sister Chris,
Unplugging the news is not a bad idea, especially if you are getting riled up. I did that for several years and it was great. However, if you want to stay in touch there are better sources than FOX news. If you can get the News Hour on public television or news on public radio, you will get a much more balanced and intelligent report. If not on television, I'm sure you can get them on the internet.
The debt is a problem. When George W. sent taxpayers back their money because, he said, it was our money and we should get it back, he should have used it to pay down a chunk of debt because the debt was ours too. At the time I commented that he was planning to destroy the government by starving it. Then came the wars, one with some justification the other for no reason than to further bankrupt the country. Then came the recession.

There is an interesting thing about the federal government. It makes money when people make money since it taxes income. Thus when someone buys a dinner at our restaurant, we pay income tax on what is left over after expenses. The expenses include buying food and booze and paying employees. The employees pay taxes on the money we give them as do the purveyors on the money we pay them and they in turn pay money to the people who supply them and so on. This is why stimulus programs, though turning up on the expense side of the ledger, make sense on the income side.

     I have been an advocate for getting out of debt for many years. I would love to see a balanced budget amendment but, if put into place without a long range (not too long) plan to reduce the current debt load, it would probably put us into a depression. A part of that plan needs to be putting money in the hands of people who will spend it because the more money changes hands the more revenue the country gets. That is part of the President’s plan (stimulus spending) Cutting government programs that put government workers out of work is recessionary. That is also part of the Presidents plan and the Republican; it better be balanced with stimulus which the Republican plan is not. Giving money to people who will spend it will help growth.
Whenever someone talks about cutting foreign aid as part of deficit control they are either stupid or blowing smoke. Write them off. The money we give to foreign countries is minuscule, less than 1% of the federal budget. I won't go into reasons for it as you can Google US foreign aid as percent of budget to find answers.

Monday, November 19, 2012

FOX again

            People who think FOX is “Fair and balanced” should not watch it because they will buy the distortions, inaccuracies and lies; but for those who know that this is entertainment, not news, it can be fun.
Lou Dobbs has his own show on FOX which I haven’t watched but he is frequently brought in to other shows for his political insight. A persistent theme on FOX is ridiculing Obama supporters for blaming Bush for all the problems of the past four years, especially the economy. It gave me a good laugh when he said last Friday that the economy is coming back because of the Bush tax cuts which President Obama wants to do away with. My initial bubble of mirth came from the hypocrisy that Bush should not be blamed for anything bad but he should be credited with anything good. Here is Lou blaming Obama for wanting to raise taxes on the wealthiest because their low taxes are the reason the economy is rebounding.
            That’s also funny because the tax cuts came in 2001 yet they somehow did nothing to avert the recession that began in December 2007 and by the time Obama took office unemployment was up to 7.8%. It had gone up steadily from 5% to 7.8% in Bush’s last year in office. Now, in November 2012 Lou, credits The Bush tax cuts with turning the recession around. I mean, come on, that’s funny.
            I recognize that saying the economy is “rebounding” is an overstatement since unemployment is really just back to where it was when Obama took office  but in the ensuing 4 years it got as high as the scary 10% figure.
            Since I do try to be fair I’ll tell you that unemployment in 2006 and 2007 was below 5%; so we could point to the tax cuts made 5 years before as being responsible for those two years. But then, again, unemployment when Bush was elected was 3.9%  (4.2% when he took office but I couldn’t resist mentioning that it was below 4% for the 4 months prior to his taking office and went above 5% for the four years after the tax cuts.
            I can hear Lou now, “Don’t confuse me with facts; my mind’s already made up.” That should be the FOX theme rather than fair and balanced.

Legalize drugs

            I want to go on the record, along with ultra conservative William F. Buckley Jr., that drugs should be legalized.
            The article I’ve linked to was written in 2004 but Mr. Buckley first wrote about legalization of drugs in 1996. You might enjoy this youtube interview.
Reasons for legalizing drugs:
1. Eliminate this source of money for criminals
2. Tax it
3. Regulate it through licensed outlets that would have an investment and a license to protect which would deter them from selling to minors.
4. Millions of dollars saved in law enforcement
5. Better use of law enforcement.
6 Millions saved that is now spent on incarceration.

Marijuana is at the forefront of discussion these days. The primary argument against legalization of marijuana is that it leads to more dangerous drugs. I have not been able to find any research that supports that claim, however, intuitively I can see how it well might—that is, as long as it is illegal. Some who sell marijuana might well be tempted to expand their product line and sell more dangerous drugs thus someone buying marijuana illegally is likely to be introduced to a salesperson offering crack, coke, heroin… whatever.
The following links give two views on pot vs booze.
            Anyone who looks at pot vs booze and still thinks liquor should be legal, as it currently is, and that marijuana should be illegal, as it currently is, is getting their information from a very suspect source. We tried making booze illegal and made Al Capon very rich so going that direction would not be smart. Legalize marijuana at least and think seriously about putting all drugs under federal regulation.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Attention FOX "News" aficionados

Attention FOX “News” aficionados, I assume you are Republicans as I once was. If you care about your party, if you hold the view that smaller government is best, that government that does less is best, that government should be fiscally responsible; you need to stop getting what FOX puts forward as news and try some other sources. FOX was and remains so wrong about the last election from their pundits being 100% wrong in pre election predictions to their analysis of why Governor Romney and so many other Republicans lost the election.
What I’m hearing on FOX now is that it was demographics; they need to get the Latino vote by bringing in Republican Latino stars like Senator Rubio. There is no discussion about how Romney had to turn himself into a pretzel to get support from the Tea Party and social issue folks and then try to untwist himself to appeal to the rest of us. There are some good Republicans out there. John Huntsman would make a fine president in my view and Cristy would probably do a good job; certainly his straight from the shoulder persona is appealing. If O’Riley and Hannity could get their heads around the concept, they might be able to bring enough focus to make it possible for the Republican Party to become a positive force in our government but I see no interest at FOX for bringing us together and they are enough of a force to make divisiveness work. Clearly some Republican politicians in Congress get all their news views from FOX. Perhaps all the conservative media (Murdoch Media) and their Congressional followers want is to keep government from working. I see some of them nodding their heads. Unfortunately, they really don’t have a concept of what that would mean…to them personally.

FOX folks are found of saying that they are the most watched news. I will listen more carefully the next time I hear the claim to make sure they are saying “on cable” which is true; they have more viewers than MSNBC or CNN however MSNBC and CNN combined have more viewers which is significant when you consider that FOX stands alone for biased conservative television. If that is what turns you on, you have only one source. All other sources--CNN, MSNBC ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS--by FOX’s definition are “liberal media”. FOX does have more viewers than MSNBC which is liberal biased television, not many more viewers but that, at least, is a reasonably fair comparison.
FOX’s liberal media might better be called corporate media as they all, even PBS, rely heavily on corporate sponsors/advertisers. There is even evidence that mainstream media has been influenced by the federal government (I’m thinking of the lead-up to our preemptive attack of Iraq which cost over 4,000 American lives.)It may be impossible to get unbiased news but The News Hour on PBS and National Public Radio are pretty close and checking in on the biased folks can be helpful as long as you balance them yourself.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Are Maine Voters Crazy?

My friend from Ohio wrote: What’s with the recent election … Ron Paul?  Can he even find Maine on a map? Considering the mild winter, the good folks of the north woods can’t even claim brain freeze. They’ll have to go some to match Minnesota … Wrestler for Governor and gag writer of US Senator … However, this is a good start. So, what gives?

Dear Old Right-wing Nut Friend:
I gather you support Mitt which is fine; I think he has the potential to be a reasonably good president. But if not Mitt, who was your “anybody-but-Mitt” front runner—Gingrich, Santorum?
All things considered I think the good Republicans of Maine (you do realize you are questioning Republican voters?) made a fine choice. It was unfortunate that the Republican establishment apparently, to the Paul supporters who followed it all very closely, pulled some fast ones on the vote count of the local caucuses. The Paul supporters, those I know at least, are very dedicated. When I talk with them they sound a lot like you. They certainly pulled a good surprise on the establishment folks at the state convention.
I’m rather proud of Maine’s voting record in the 40 years I’ve been here. Senators Cohen and Mitchell were two of the best Washington has ever seen and Senator Muskie… well you probably don’t like the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act so I guess you think we Mainers were brain dead giving him 4 terms in the Senate. Of course his tears did knock him out of running for President. I guess it’s a darn good thing Republicans are allowed to cry otherwise your Rep Boehner might have to go back to the family bar.
Our current governor, however, is reason to question our voting acumen but he got less than 40% of the vote.
I’m proud of our two current Senators, both Republicans. Unfortunately Olympia couldn’t stand the partisanship and who could blame her after working on health care reform for months only to be told by Republican leadership to lay off and then having Boehner say repeatedly that Republicans were left out of the debate. The good news is that Independent Angus King is running for her seat and I’m sure he will win. He was one of two Independent governors we have had and was the best governor of all in the past 40 years. He has a great sense of humor and a great record. He is a friend and I love him.
In a way I wish I lived in Ohio so I could join you in your throw-the-bums-out voting pledge but our congressional delegation is really quite good.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Defining Love

I was on the ladder painting the house when a nearby religious radio station overpowered NPR and I heard someone railing against homosexuals.
I was amazed at how much hatred I was hearing. The evangelist said God defined homosexuality as a crime and further that God requires death for homosexuality. I started down the ladder but before I could retune the radio this same person said that he loved homosexuals. He mused, “How can I love these criminals who should be put to death? I love them because Jesus teaches that we should love our neighbors and even our enemies.”
“How sad,” I thought. “That person doesn’t understand love.” But then I thought, what is my understanding of love? I turned off the radio and climbed back up the ladder to think that over.
It certainly didn’t seem loving to condemn someone to death or call him a sinner saying he would go to hell. That seemed more like hate than love yet he saw no contradiction in what he was saying. As a Christian he knew that he was supposed to love everyone even his enemies. Did he understand the notion of loving everyone in some way I didn’t? It seemed that he was just using the word without giving it any meaning. Try as I might I couldn’t come up with any nature of love that would allow such harsh judgment. However, labeling what he was saying as hateful sure wasn’t getting me any closer to my understanding of love.
When I climbed off the ladder I went straight to my dictionary but no definition was particularly helpful even in describing my love for my wife, Barbara. Closest was “strong passionate affection” but my feeling for Barbara is much more than that. When I tell her I love her I mean I will do my best to never make her unhappy. The definitions for the verb “love” all started with “to have”. Shouldn’t love be an active verb? If so, what action? The dictionary tells me that to run I should move my legs rapidly. I’m not expecting to find a graphic definition like that for love but maybe there should be some reference to the body. We are fond of thinking of love as coming from the heart. Have we placed the seat of love in the heart because we don’t think we have any control over loving? Love and the heart don’t really have any connection. To love our neighbors or our enemies has got to be a conscious action. If someone sticks a gun in my ribs and says give me your money, I can’t see ever getting to some higher plane of consciousness in which I will be flooded with a feeling of love for this guy. It will take some work, some thinking to get over my gut feeling.
Nose still in the dictionary I look for definitions for two words similar to love (venerate and like) and the opposite of love (hate). These definitions all begin with “to regard” and the definition of to regard is “to think of with a particular feeling”.
Hate, venerate and like are things we do in our mind. While feelings are involved, still, we have some control.
Affection figures heavily in the definitions for love. Back to the dictionary. “Affection n 1. a settled good will, love, or zealous attachment: as the affection of a parent for his child. Good will could describe my desire to never make Barbara unhappy but it still doesn’t go far enough. Not only is it important that I not make her unhappy I wish happiness for her at all times from all angles. The same for my children. Ditto for my friends. In fact, I don’t wish anyone ill will. But the definition is not just “good will” but “settled good will”. Apparently, by this definition, there has to be some history involved with affection.
I could also say I have a “zealous attachment” to my immediate family but I wouldn’t say I am zealously attached to my friends. Are there different kinds of love? Did I love my father the same as I loved my mother? Do I love my son the same as I love my wife? Do I love my daughter the same as I love my son? As I think about these real relationships I realize that my feelings for each are different. Feelings! Do I feel the same about my father as I feel about my mother? My son as my wife? My daughter as my son? No. My feelings are different. My emotional response when I think of each is different.
What of the love for my neighbor or my enemies as expressed in The Bible. I don’t see anything in the definitions of love or affection that addresses love for everybody. Then it occurred to me that perhaps there was just one love, or rather a core love, a trunk from which the various forms of love branch.
On the ladder the next day I didn’t seem to be any closer to understanding love and then it occurred to me that what bothered me about the radio preacher was his judgment of homosexuals. I thought of my yoga teacher, a vegetarian which she carries to a judgment of all animals that eat other animals. She also preaches universal love. I once asked her if she loved hawks.
“Yes, but I don’t love how they eat. I wish they would learn to eat nuts and berries.”
“If you love them, shouldn’t you accept their nature, their being, as it is?”
Acceptance. Yeah. Can I imagine love without acceptance? No. Acceptance must be in the definition of love I’m looking for.
At some point in every session my yoga instructor tells the class to breathe in good thoughts, among them unconditional love. Of course love should be unconditional but, hold on a minute, is there even such a thing as conditional love? What might be a condition of love? I love you as long as you don’t kill someone. What kind of a friend would that be? If you kill someone, you will need my love more. Would I abandon a friend in the time of greatest need? Even traditional wedding vows deny conditional love—“to have and to hold, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health … until death do us part.”
Love must be unconditional acceptance. That covers the problem I had with the radio evangelist. If he accepted people’s sexual orientation or preference, he wouldn’t be judging them. It is something that I can actually do if I put my mind to it.
I’m still working on this core definition for the verb to love. I’m sure unconditional acceptance is necessary. A warm feeling also seems like a good addition at least for those with whom I come in contact—maybe not the guy with the gun. I’m also thinking that respect would be a good addition. These are all things that I can actually strive to do.
Getting away from my judgment that the radio evangelist doesn’t understand love is difficult. I want to rationalize and say that I accept him but I judge his belief. I certainly don’t hate him. I have no illusion that I could change him. I have thought about him, given him a family, found respect for his commitment to his beliefs accepted that he believes he loves his neighbors and his enemies and through this empathy exercise I have developed something of a warm feeling toward him. He must be good at his job to have a radio show. He probably brings hope and solace to many. In a way he is my enemy because of the hatred he preaches. Loving my enemies is tough.
All this thinking about love has helped me get over road rage. When someone pulls out in front of me now I’m just thankful I was able to slow down without an accident. It has done wonders for my blood pressure; much better than the days when I would ride up on the back of the offending driver and turn on my lights. Once, with the whole family in the car, I turned on the windshield wipers by mistake in my road-rage. “You sure showed him, Dad.” That has become a family joke.
I may never learn to love my enemies but I certainly enjoy driving more now that I have accepted that bad driving practices do not make bad people and I am making progress with my feelings for the evangelist.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Pity the Poor Rich

When my son was born we were living below the poverty level. I’m bragging because it was more or less intentional. I grew up lower middle-class (After my father left when I was 13 my mother went back to work as a teacher and raised me with no child support.) Currently my wife and I are middle to upper middle-class. When she wants to buy something that before our changed circumstances would have given me grief which I would pass on to her I now say, “No problem, we’re rich.” which she hates to hear me say.
Am I happier “rich” than poor? Not at all, in fact, I believe the years we lived below the poverty level were the happiest of my life. I believe the reason was that I was doing meaningful things: raising food for my family, cutting, splitting and carrying wood to keep us warm, making do on a shoe-string, fixing things that broke. I had occasional part-time jobs during that period but as a bartender, for example, making a good drink or making a customer laugh or getting a big tip did not provide much satisfaction. Earning enough money to pay for utilities, insurance and the like was necessary but didn’t have the same instant payback in satisfaction over an accomplishment as work around the farm had. Getting through a very busy shift in which I was so busy the time went by in a blur was satisfying, doing a good job perhaps better than most others could have done it, felt good; but so much of the job was, well, just a job, whereas fixing a leaking water pipe, rebuilding the mower carburetor, raising, slaughtering, and butchering the beef that would feed the family for a year, growing, harvesting, canning, pickling, freezing and otherwise storing enough vegetables and fruit to feed the family for a year; ahh, nothing I did before or have done since provided that kind of satisfaction.
The difference now? Someone comes and picks up my riding mower to perform annual maintenance and to fix anything that breaks. There is no pride in that. I tell myself I am providing work for others; my financial good fortune is trickling down and that’s a good thing, isn’t it? It’s good for the economy, right? Plumbing was my least favorite home maintenance job but I did it and though I hated squirming around in the crawl spaces under our house and hated it even more when I turned on the water and found that one of the joints I had soldered had a leak and I would have to drain the water and dry the pipe before I could try again; but when the joints were good I came close to doing cartwheels. Now we call a plumber.
I was healthier when we heated with wood. It was our only source of heat for 20 years. Carrying half a dozen armloads of wood in every day in the winter kept me fit during the time of year when there wasn’t a lot of exercise. We still have the stoves and a woodshed full of wood but we also have an oil burner. I don’t have to carry in wood all winter so I hardly do it at all. Burning oil doesn’t make me feel good but, what the hell, I’m rich. Do you think that is an excuse for lazy?
Perhaps my years below the poverty level helped me avoid ethical problems studies have found with the rich. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012


The pundits say Greg Smith who left Goldman Sax in a very public way will have trouble getting another job on Wall Street. If I were in a position to hire him for a Wall Street firm, I'd be offering him a job right now. Following is part of the op-ed appearing in the New York Times.
"It might sound surprising to a skeptical public, but culture was always a vital part of Goldman Sachs’s success. It revolved around teamwork, integrity, a spirit of humility, and always doing right by our clients. The culture was the secret sauce that made this place great and allowed us to earn our clients’ trust for 143 years. It wasn’t just about making money; this alone will not sustain a firm for so long. It had something to do with pride and belief in the organization. I am sad to say that I look around today and see virtually no trace of the culture that made me love working for this firm for many years. I no longer have the pride, or the belief."

He is the kind of person Wall Street needs.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Raise My Taxes, Please!

Dear Senator Snowe,
I just read the "Snowe Report" and I agree that the LIHEAP (Low Income Energy Assistance Program) should be funded at a higher rate than in the budget and that deficit reduction is important though the juxtaposition of these two statements in your report is a bit ironic, don't you think? Every spending program (like LIHEAP) is important to some people somewhere which is why spending cuts are so difficult.
There is one thing that the majority of people all across the country and in Maine agree upon as a deficit reduction measure yet you don't mention it. Why? Why don't you support raising the income tax on those of us who are doing well? The answer I keep hearing is that it will kill jobs, that the wealthy who create jobs will not bother to make more money and thus create more jobs if they are taxed too much. That is a bogus answer. We have had tremendous job losses under the low tax on the wealthy for 8 years running which should prove that argument to be spurious.
Did you know that the highest income tax bracket was over 90% throughout the decade of the 50s and that was a time when a family could be raised on one income. Perhaps the reason middle class people could get by on one income in that decade was because there was little incentive for entrepreneurs, business owners, corporate boards, bankers and the like to make gross amounts of money so they paid better wages and charged less for their products and services. That explanation, at least, makes a lot more sense than saying that taxing incomes over $250,000 will stifle job creation.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Whitney Houston

Only in Tinsel Town would they do a spur of the moment tribute for an addict who just OD’d, This from my right wingnut friend.

Perhaps they were looking at the positive things about her.

but they wouldn’t do anything to help her while she was still alive.

I guess you know more about her life than I do.

This is one very messed up world we live in, but nowhere is it more is it as messed up as in Hollywood. So people want to rely on advice from those idiots on issues like global warming and who should run this country.

Ah, yes, those liberals in the entertainment world should be silenced. They should not be allowed to express their views. I mean really, Jane Fonda for flake of the year, right? She tried to stop the war in Vietnam. Maybe there should be a Constitutional amendment to stop liberals from expressing opinions. It would have to be just liberals because if you said actors or all entertainers were not allowed to voice their opinions or give money to candidates, that would affect people like Charleston Heston and goodness knows you want someone who has the weight of Moses behind him to speak out against gun control. And who was that actor who was governor of La La Land California, and then became president? He was quite a dashing figure in Tinsel Town, wasn’t he? Then there is Chuck Norris, Clint Eastwood, Loretta Lynn and Tom Selleck whose voices and candidate support must not be hindered.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Amend Constitution

I read your latest blog entries, and do share much of your perspective when it comes to the country's current political situation. Where I diverge (I think) is when it comes to believing that there's a real distinction between the two major Parties, or at least enough of a difference to justify dutifully casting my vote and hoping the system itself will lean toward real change. John G. in Mass.

I’ll keep casting my vote and I will remain hopeful that the President, whoever that may be, and the Congress, whichever party dominates, will do their best for our country. I will hope that I will hear from the party leaders interesting and positive responses to ideas put forward by the opposition even though Boehner, Reid, Pelosi and McConnell have given me no reason for this hope.

However, since it is so difficult to remain hopeful, I have another hope. I hope we the people will rise up not in anger but in mass with positive solutions to some of the problems we face. This is still a democracy and we are still in charge. The Tea Party went the route of electing people they thought would fix things. I’m sure many Tea Party voters are disappointed with the results or lack thereof. Voting in politicians who spout the rhetoric we want to hear is not the solution because once in they find themselves in a system that resists change and soon they are seduced by the benefits of their position. Voting in “the right people” is not the solution. We must put pressure on the people in office to do our bidding. Corporations and rich people have undue influence because not enough of us are voicing our intent to vote the bums out. We are allowing money to talk. The Occupy Wall Street folks are on the right track. Now they need a mission which I think should be an amendment or two to the Constitution that will cut the influence of money in our government. Votes are what the politicians need. Republicans have gotten candidates to sign pledges to get votes. We should be getting candidates to sign pledges to put forward Constitutional amendments. Amendments are then put before the states and in our states we the people can overcome the money (I think).

PS: It is tempting to call for a new Constitutional Congress. I suspect those called to the CC would be the same people who are being influenced by money today and that the money would be there as well. Better to take one or two issues at a time, the simpler the better.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

More politics

From Sis Chris: “I’m addicted right now I have to admit, to this real live soap opera about players for power, but more importantly, players for leadership in our country. Unfortunately power seems to be much more attractive than leadership to most politicians. Otherwise they could at least give each other credit for good decisions, goals achieved, and goals aimed for.”

Dear Sis, I agree and am always looking for politicians to find the good, or places they can agree with the “other side”. I thought Governor Daniels in the Republican response to the State of the Union address got off to a good start. There are Republicans who wish he were running for President. One interesting scenario in the Republican race is that they could go into the convention with still no candidate with enough votes to win the nomination on the first ballot. After that it could get very interesting as anything could happen.

I’m going to give a thumbs-up to Maine’s Governor for a leadership moment. In his first State of the State address he ended by saying that family abuse should not be tolerated, that 80% of the abusers were men, and that this was not a woman’s issue but a man’s issue and it was time for men to stand up against abuse. That is leadership. He plans to pursue the issue though government intervention but saying it passionately is the kind of leadership I’d like to see much more of from those who are in a position to get media attention—putting things in human terms, pushing we the people to be better rather than droning on about issues that are beyond our understanding like trillions of dollars.

What I found most powerful in the State of the Union address was the accomplishments of the past 3 years. As for his path ahead, it sounds good but I won’t be impressed until I see results. I have given credit to two Republicans and withheld positive judgment of the President’s speech which may make me sound like a Republican. In fact, I was once and would be again if the party did what they say they believe in—less government (why do Republicans try to legislate morality?); uphold the Constitution (fine, stop trying to get religion into government.) spend less (Every Republican President in recent times has expanded government and increased the national debt.). I’m proud of our President and will vote for him but if a Republican wins, I will be supportive of my president.

A Republican guest on a liberal television show repeatedly referred to the President as “your president” until the host finally said, “I thought he was our president.” Good on him as you say in New Zealand.

Monday, January 23, 2012


Politics from my sister in New Zealand

“He(Gingrich) knows how to deflect a negative against him back onto the projector as proven by his stern reprimand of John King at the beginning of the CNN debate.”

Yeah, that was classic Republican-right shoot-the-messenger and it seems to work very well for them.

“I am dismayed by voting statistics that say married women have rallied behind Gingrich.” My mother, a staunch Republican, said of Rockefeller, a Democrat, when he was running for president 50 odd years ago that she could never vote for someone who was divorced reasoning that if they couldn’t run a marriage they couldn’t run a country. It didn’t matter several years later when she voted for divorced Republican Ronald Regan.

I watch the Fox news channel occasionally to try to understand where those folks are coming from. The most recent rant seems to be how unfair the “liberal media” was in their attacks on Gingrich when they gave Clinton and Edwards a free pass on their extramarital affairs. Apparently the Murdoch Media (FOX) doesn’t watch Liberal Media because it was on “Liberal Media” that I got more information about Clinton’s blow job and Edwards’s affair than I cared to hear. If the Liberal Media was so over the top attacking Newt, you would think they would have brought up the South Carolina governor’s lying and affair with the woman in South America. If they did, I missed it. I’m betting FOX would have made something of it if the governor and Newt were Democrats.

“Personally I cannot stand Sarah Palin being inserted into the conversation, as if she has any influence.”

Ah, ha, you are watching Fox because the only place I ever see Palin these days is on Fox where she said: “If I had to vote in South Carolina, in order to keep this thing going I’d vote for Newt and I would want this to continue. More debates, more vetting of candidates because we know the mistake made in our country four years ago was having a candidate that was not vetted…” I guess Palin wasn’t paying attention to the Democratic primaries and the debates between Obama and Clinton and the close scrutiny of Obama by the “liberal media” and the Murdoch Media. Of course, she wouldn’t have been paying attention then because that was before she was picked as Republican VP candidate and she was much too involved in her job as Governor of Alaska, a job she loved so much she quite mid-term. (For any who don’t know me, that last sentence is meant to drip with sarcasm.)

Mort Media here says Newt must like quitters as he told CNN “I would ask her to consider taking a major role in the next administration if I’m president…” Like what, Newt, Secretary of State?

“I would sure like to know your opinion about this election process to date.”

Well, Sis Chris, I think we have more problems than any president can fix without making a lot of people unhappy. I think that we, the citizens of the U.S., have come to the place that someone said of our Constitution 200 years ago that when we figured out we could vote for our self-interest our system of government would fail. We don’t seem to have a long view. Rich people seem to think that they can hold onto all the money and somehow the economy will thrive even though the vast majority doesn’t have buying power. Henry Ford paid his workers good wages so they could buy his cars. Smart.

We are afraid to make a transition to a different source of energy even though the current source is killing us, damaging the world we live in, contributing to our national debt and making us vulnerable to foreign powers. We have a political system that is so divisive it is unlikely any leader no matter how extraordinary he or she might be has little chance of making positive change. There is a part of me that thinks one of the Republican candidates as president might not be such a bad thing as they would not fix the problem and could then take the Republican nonsense down in flames two years later and then again two years after that but then a better part of me holds out hope that four more years of Obama might give him a chance to turn things around.

This is a difficult time to be a caring U.S. citizen with a long view.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Kodak and HP in trouble

Kodak and Hewlett Packard are in trouble because they don’t care about their customers. Their leadership is focusing on investors and profit—money rather than people. I say this because they both really piss me off. The first digital camera I got was a Kodak. I was able to download the pictures easily into my computer. Each picture was a file that I could open with several programs. I could copy, delete it, send it in an email. That camera belonged to my boss so when I left the job I got another Kodak camera but what a difference. I couldn’t find the files easily. Everything was tied up in something Kodak wanted me to do. A few years later my daughter sent me some CDs of pictures she had taken and put on a Kodak CD. These got me even more entangled with Kodak. I was unable to send any of these pictures without using some Kodak program. To make matters worse in the process of trying to do what I wanted to do Kodak got into my computer and started sending me unwanted messages each one pissing me off more.

HP is doing the same thing. I got a printer. It is hardware for Gods sake. I don’t want my hardware sending me messages telling me how to do things I have no interest in doing and then, whenever I change a cartridge, they tell me to waste a piece of paper to “align” the cartridge which also uses some of the ink in the cartridge all of which—say it with me now—pisses me off.

The good news is that these two companies are in trouble. Unfortunately the executives who got them in trouble made lots of money, will make more and will probably be hired by some other company at a grossly high salary.

Additional good news there are companies run by people who care about their customers and realize that the best way to serve investors is to serve customers, to focus on customers’ needs.

The bad news is that there are so many people in industry and government who haven’t an empathetic bone in their head.