Sunday, May 07, 2006

Fromm Redux

Erich Fromm Continued

In our last episode, I cited a passage from Fromm’s book, The Heart of Man, “While group narcissism grew, its counterpart -- humanism -- also developed. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries -- from Spinoza, Leibniz, Rousseau, Herder, Kant, to Goethe and Marx -- the thought developed that mankind is one, that each individual carries within himself all of humanity, that there must be no privileged groups claiming that their privileges are based on their intrinsic superiority.” This stayed with me over the past week, rattling around, as it were.

Today, as I was thinking about how to put the rattling to good use, I remembered a passage that moved me deeply more than twenty years ago. It was from Ernest Becker’s book, Beyond Alienation. I searched vainly on the Internet for the lengthy quotation to share with you, with my source book moldering away in storage in Oregon.

The best I can do is recall the gist of the quote based upon an experience of Jean Jacques Rousseau. Rousseau, a contemporary of our founding fathers, many of whom were influenced by the Enlightenment philosophes, was describing a personally liberating realization. My brief, vanilla recollection doesn’t do his experience justice; it was essentially this, with his tunic drenched in sweat from excitement and awareness, Rousseau came to the understanding that “Man is good!”

Before today, I had these religion oriented ideas floating around vaguely as they might relate to our present circumstances. They seemed to be going like this: the Fromm information shared last week leaned toward what might be called secular humanism, a world view specifically loathed by the theocratic right. In my cherry picking from Fromm’s book, for the sake of brevity, I left out passages giving homage to religion. Fromm said this, for example, “The significance of the phenomenon of narcissism from the ethical-spiritual viewpoint becomes very clear if we consider that the essential teachings of all the great humanistic religions can be summarized in one sentence: It is the goal of man to overcome one’s narcissism.” After giving kudos to Buddhism, Fromm references Juaism and Christianity saying, “The Old testament says: ‘Love they neighbor as thyself.’ Here the demand is to overcome one’s narcissism at least to the point where one’s neighbor becomes as important as oneself.”

Allowing me a logical leap, I will list the following:

"13 Golden Rules from 13 Differing Religious Beliefs"

CHRISTIAN FAITH *All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.* ~ The Gospels of Matthew and Luke (Matt 7:12, Luke 6:31)

MUSLIM FAITH *No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.* ~ Hadith

JEWISH FAITH *What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor: that is the whole Torah; all the rest of it is commentary; go and learn.* ~ Talmud, Shabbat 31a

BUDDHISM FAITH *Hurt not others with that which pains yourself.* ~Udana-Varga

NATURISM / MATERIALISM *Do not do unto others what angers you if done to you by others.* ~Isocrates 436-338 BCE

HINDUISM *This is the sum of duty; do naught to others that which if done to thee would cause pain.

AFRICAN TRADITIONAL RELIGIONS *One going to take a pointed stick to pinch a baby bird should first try it on himself to feel how it hurts.* ~ Yoruba Proverb (Nigeria)

BAH*'* FAITH *And if thine eyes be turned towards justice, choose thou for thy neighbor that which thou chooses for thyself.* ~ Epistle to the Son of the Wolf , 30

SIKHISM FAITH *Precious like jewels are the minds of all. To hurt them is not at all good. If though desirest thy beloved, then, hurt thou not any one's heart.

ZOROASTRIAN FAITH *Whatever is disagreeable to yourself do not do unto others.* ~Shayast-na-Shayast 13:29

WICCAN FAITH *An it harm none, do what thou wilt.* ~ Wiccan Rede

JAINISM *A man should wander about treating all creatures as he himself would be treated.* ~ Sutrakritanga 1.11.33

CONFUCIANISM *Tsekung asked, Is there one word that can serve as a principle of conduct for life? Confucius replied, It is the word shu--reciprocity: Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you.* ~ Analects 15.23”

It’s not a stretch to believe the common theme from these disparate religions could have as their root, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” When Rousseau had his ah ha moment, I’d venture there was the understanding that this awareness is, at some level, wired in to our makeup. To be human is to know this. Jefferson, et al, knew this, for example. The people of BushCo, know this and ignore it at will.

The Christ the right wing theocrats give lip service to has more in common with the secular humanists than with the Pharisees who do harm in his name. This hypocrisy, even though we are all hypocrites to some degree, emphasizes the chasm between the right wing’s creeds and the deeds and incenses us. People with functional levels of narcissism are capable of apologizing when harm is done. We would have trouble sleeping knowing we were directly and primarily responsible for the deaths of many thousands of people.

In my search for the illusive Rousseau quote, I searched the index of another Ernest Becker book I have with me, The Structure of Evil. It’s a book I haven’t read yet. In my search, I was intrigued by a passage I came across tonight:

“With Rousseau the early Enlightenment was capped and we can now judge with striking clarity what the Enlightenment achieved. It laid the basis for nothing less than a fully ‘secular’ theodicy: a program for analyzing and remedying the evils that befall man in society. What began as a heartfelt stirring against the ascendancy of Newtonianism, and as a protest for a place for man in a mechanistic and perhaps Godless universe, ended with a new ‘secular’ theodicy to replace the lost medieval one.”

What is lacking in the culture of corruption within which we live and breathe is a sense of hopefulness. It is easy for me to be a muckraker, because the muck is so prevalent. To be a beacon is another matter in such times as these.

For a number of years, I was a facilitator for a corporate training program based upon Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. While it’s easy to deride such programs, there were many concepts embraced by cynical employees at all levels. One that comes to mind as I write this was to encourage one another to focus our attention upon one’s Circle of Influence as opposed to one’s Circle of Concern. I guess it would be appropriate on a Sunday to give some thought to a Society of Friends tenet, “Do no harm,” as a starting point.

Have a good week.

Harper's Weekly Review

Update of a favored slide presentation

Ignoring Colbert: A small taste of the media's power to choose

"The White House Correspondents' Association Dinner was televised on C-Span Saturday [4.29] evening. Featured entertainer Stephen Colbert delivered a biting rebuke of George W. Bush and the lily-livered press corps. He did it to Bush's face, unflinching and unbowed by the audience's muted, humorless response. Democratic Underground members commented in real time (here, here, and here). TMV posted a wrap-up.

"On Colbert's gutsy delivery, watertiger writes, 'Stephen Colbert displayed more guts in ten minute of performance at the White House Correspondents Dinner than the entire Bush family. He, along with the ever-feisty Helen Thomas, deftly exposed the 'truthiness' to the world (or at least those who were watching) that Bush AND the D.C. press corps are indeed a naked emperor and his gutless courtiers.'"

Ridicule and contempt: An imperial president is smothering the system of checks and balances, imperiling free speech

"Stephen Colbert performed within 10 yards of Bush's hostile stare and before 2,600 members of the press and their guests. After his mock praise of Bush as a rock against reality, Colbert censured the press by flattering its misfeasance. 'Over the last five years you people were so good - over tax cuts, WMD intelligence, the effect of global warming. We Americans didn't want to know, and you had the courtesy not to try to find out ... Here's how it works: the president makes decisions ... The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put 'em through a spellcheck and go home ... Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know - fiction!'."

Colbert and the courtier press

"Over the past several years, as Bush asserted unlimited presidential powers and implemented policies that have led the United States into the business of torture and an unprovoked war in Iraq, Washington journalists mostly stayed on the sidelines or actively assisted the administration, often wrapping its extraordinary actions in a cloak of normality designed more to calm than alert the public. At such a dangerous moment, when a government is committing crimes of state, politeness is not necessarily a virtue."

The complete Colbert smackdown

Rumsfeld heckled by former CIA analyst

"'Why did you lie to get us into a war that caused these kind of casualties and was not necessary?' asked Ray McGovern, the former analyst, during a question-and-answer session."

The complete McGovern smackdown

Debate on global warming helps produce a best seller

"'Hotter Than Hell' describes a war between Canada and the United States over fresh water in the wake of a global-warming catastrophe. The author, Mark Tushingham, is a climatologist at Environment Canada, the government department now headed by Ms. Ambrose."

The new "Conservative" government is taking its direction from corporate 'Merica and trying to squelch the book. About 40 years ago, when I was teaching with Ian, who shared information about his South American travels, I cautioned him that some day, the US will be aggressively coming after Canada's water. Now, however, I believe the water will be finessed without much fanfare through Canadian corporatists like Stephen Harper, the new prime minister.

Canada backpedals on Kyoto promises

"Canada's top climate scientists are calling for action on climate change after the new government said it will not try to meet its emissions cuts commitments under the international Kyoto Protocol treaty.

"Canada's new Conservative government recently cut 40 percent of the budget for state-run programmes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

New Red List paints bleak picture of extinction

"Overall, 16,119 animal and plant species are in danger of extinction, including 1 in 8 birds, 1 in 4 mammals and 1 in 3 amphibian species. Since records began, 784 species have been declared extinct. From the poles to the deserts, 'biodiversity loss is increasing, not slowing down,' says IUCN director-general Achim Steiner.

"The main cause, as ever, is people, as humanity impacts the world’s fauna and flora both directly and indirectly. While hunting and habitat loss continue to have a disastrous effect on species numbers, global warming is emerging as another threat."

Greenhouse gases continue to rise

"The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Monday there was a continuing increase in carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide in the air last year, though methane leveled off."

Global Eye

"To put it simply, America must have unfettered access to Persian Gulf oil in order to maintain the infrastructure of its economy -- indeed of its entire society, which is based on the availability of cheap gasoline and other petroleum-based products. In the coming decades of oil scarcity, the vast reserves in the Middle East will be even more crucial. The Bush administration estimates that Iraq's current reserves, when fully developed, could reach 220 billion barrels; if the still-unexplored territories of its western wasteland are counted, this figure could top 300 billion, far surpassing the reserves of Saudi Arabia, as Canadian journalist Paul William Roberts reports in his important new book, 'A War Against Truth.' What's more, Iraqi oil is remarkably easy to extract, and thus remarkably profitable."

"This is our destiny": Fantasies about preponderance

"Now, preponderance ('superiority in weight, force, influence, numbers, etc.') is a strange word when you think about it, seeming to have both 'ponder' and 'ponderous' hidden somewhere within. As it happened, while the neocons proposed much from inside Washington's Beltway, from various right-wing think-tanks and later from the inner offices of the Bush administration, while oil-consultant Khalilzad was still trying to sort out energy pipeline deals with the Taliban, and while various Iraqi exile Scheherezades were whispering sweet nothings in their ears about flowers, and liberated populaces, and the glory that was Rome -- oh, sorry, those were pundits on the editorial pages of our major newspapers -- they surely pondered too little."

Suicide bomber kills 17; 37 bodies found in Baghdad

"A suicide bomber wearing an explosive belt blew himself up among a crowd of Iraqi police recruits Wednesday in the city of Fallujah, killing at least 17 people, a hospital official there said. In Baghdad, meanwhile, authorities found the bodies of 37 people shot to death in six different locations."

Today, Sunday, 30 people in Iraq were blown up. Senseless violence is a daily occurrence in the Iraqi march for freedom . . . or whatever.

John Pilger detects the Salvador option

"Now that al-Zarqawi has been replaced by ‘sectarian violence’ and ‘civil war’, the big news is the attacks by Sunnis on Shia mosques and bazaars. The real news, which is not reported in the CNN ‘mainstream’, is that the Salvador Option has been invoked in Iraq. This is the campaign of terror by death squads armed and trained by the US, which attack Sunnis and Shias alike. The goal is the incitement of a real civil war and the break-up of Iraq, the original war aim of Bush's administration."

Bush, Iran & the WMD boomerang

"Indeed, the Iraq experience has limited U.S. options in two respects: first, the bloody occupation of Iraq has weakened the capability of the U.S. military to take on another major expeditionary mission, and second, the invasion created a disincentive for nations to disarm in the face of international pressure. As it turned out, Iraq not only had complied with demands that it forego weapons of mass destruction but it allowed in United Nations weapons inspectors to check."

Beating about the Bush? Not with Hersh

"His [Hersh's] own lecture was frightening. Bush has a messianic vision – and intends to go down in history (probably he has chosen the right direction) as the man who will have 'saved' Iran. 'So we’re in a real American crisis ... we’ve had a collapse of congress ... we have had a collapse of the military ... the good news is that when we wake up tomorrow morning, there will be one less day (of Bush). But that is the only good news.'

"Hersh might have said that we’d also had a 'collapse' of the media in the United States, a total disintegration of the Ed Murrow/Howard K Smith/ Daniel Elsworth/Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward school of journalism. The greying, bespectacled, obscenity-swearing Hersh is about all we have left to frighten the most powerful man in the world (save for the jibes of Maureen Dowd in The New York Times)."

Torture "widespread" under US custody: Amnesty

"Torture and inhumane treatment are 'widespread' in U.S.-run detention centers in Afghanistan, Iraq, Cuba and elsewhere despite Washington's denials, Amnesty International said on Wednesday.

"In a report for the United Nations' Committee against Torture, the London-based human rights group also alleged abuses within the U.S. domestic law enforcement system, including use of excessive force by police and degrading conditions of isolation for inmates in high security prisons."

Is anyone surprised?

Invisible in plain sight: CIA torture techniques go mainstream

"Then came that dramatic December 15th handshake between Bush and McCain, a veritable media mirage that concealed furious back-room maneuvering by the White House to undercut the amendment. A coalition of rights groups, including Amnesty International, had resisted the executive’s effort to punch loopholes in the torture ban but, in the end, the White House prevailed. With the help of key senate conservatives, the Bush administration succeeded in twisting what began as an unequivocal ban on torture into a legitimization of three controversial legal doctrines that the administration had originally used to justify torture right after 9/11."

Report blames top US officials for alleged torture of detainees

"'In several cases,' it says, 'substantial evidence has emerged that detainees were tortured to death while under interrogation. . . . What is even more disturbing is that standard practices as well as interrogation techniques believed to have fallen within officially sanctioned parameters, appear to have played a role in the ill-treatment.'"

Oil giants' charm offensive as US politicians threaten action

"The oil industry is to channel millions of dollars to US Congressional election campaigns this year as part of a desperate plan to squash calls for a windfall tax on their record profits."

Republicans drop a tax plan after businesses protest

"Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, the majority leader, said he had decided to jettison the provision, which would have generated billions of dollars by changing the way businesses treat inventories for tax purposes. Instead, he said the Senate Finance Committee would hold hearings on the plan 'later this year, so the pluses and minuses of the provision can become well known.'"

Listening to their real constituents.

Bush, Hill Republicans agree to extend expiring tax cuts

"The package would extend the 2003 cuts to the tax rates on dividends and capital gains, continue tax breaks for small-business investment and the overseas operations of financial service companies, and slow the expansion of the alternative minimum tax, a parallel income tax system that was enacted to target the rich but is increasingly snaring the middle class.

"But the agreement cannot come to a vote until House and Senate negotiators agree on a second piece of legislation containing many of the proposed tax breaks left out of the compromise, according to legislative aides. And the compromise is sure to spark a new round of recriminations from Democrats, who say the Republican Party continues to favor wealthy investors over lower- and middle-income workers, without regard to a budget deficit that is expected to reach $370 billion this year."

Washington renews demand for cuts to Social Security, Medicare

"The Bush administration, echoed by much of the mass media, seized upon reports released May 1 on the fiscal health of the Social Security and Medicare system to renew its demand for drastic cuts to these two major entitlement programs, thereby gutting retirement benefits and health care for older Americans."

Bush clears the way for corporate domination

"When George W. Bush says that he wants to spread freedom to every corner of the earth, he means it.

"But of course the president that turned Soviet-era gulags into secret CIA prisons in order to do God-knows-what to God-knows-whom isn't talking about individual freedom. He means corporate freedom -- freedom for the great multinationals to extract everything they can from the world's resources and labor without the hindrance of public interest laws, environmental regulations or worker protections."

The invisible M3 and pumping up the economy: The Subsurface World of Inflation, Cannibalism and the Plight of the Squeezees

"Big Business and the financial sector really could care less about rising prices and the cost of living. That is why when the government reports that 'core inflation' is 'tame', it has teased out all the data relevant to individuals who live by wages, that is, such 'irrelevant' and 'volatile data as the cost of energy, food and housing. Big business and the financial sector could care less whether the costs of energy, food and housing literally determine how, and whether, the majority of us live or die.

"The only inflation factor that Big Business and the financial sector really care about is Wages, that is your wages. If prices rise, but your wages, relative to your cost of living, remain static, then 'inflation' only bites you, dude. The bite taken out of your hide translates into someone else's profit-meal ticket. Thus, when prices rise but wages do not, it is as though a portion of workers' wages are being ripped off. On the other hand, if your wages rise commensurate with the increase in the real cost of living, then the increase in the costs of goods and services goes back into your wages. In that circumstance, money inflation does not give the owner class anything extra to bite into."

Bush in 'ceaseless push for power'

"'The pattern that emerges is one of a ceaseless push for power, unchecked by either the courts or Congress, one in short of disdain for constitutional limits,' the report by legal scholars Gene Healy and Timothy Lynch concludes."

Bush and Repugs at their most dangerous; scorching the Earth behind them

"The core ideologues who comprise the leadership in the U.S. offices of war and muckraking have long nursed their ambitions to ride the nation's military machine to world dominance and influence. Unchecked, they're going to scorch the earth before their regime dies."Cheney did his best to lurch our nation back into the Cold War Thursday when he criticized Russia and President Vladimir V. Putin at a conference in Lithuania. He accused Russia of using their oil reserves as 'tools of intimidation or blackmail'."

Energy independence day

"George Bush won't ask Congress for permission for torture or domestic spying. But when it comes to energy policy – he is very, very concerned about the limits of his presidential powers.
"According to The Washington Post, he 'renewed his call for Congress to give him the authority to ‘raise' mileage standards for all passenger cars.' Then perhaps signaling a nod and a wink to his Big Oil friends, 'White House officials said later, however, that they didn't know when or how the president would use that authority.'"

Endgame for the Constitution

"Bush's apologists claim that only terrorists have anything to fear. However, unaccountable executive power is inconsistent with free societies. America is no exception. Unless Bush is impeached and turned over to the war crimes court in the Hague, Americans will never reclaim their liberties from an executive branch that has established itself as the sole judge of the limits of its powers.

"As Jacob Hornberger, president of the Future of Freedom Foundation wrote last month, 'we now live in a nation in which the president has the omnipotent power to ignore all constitutional restraints on his power.' Bruce Fein, a Justice Department official in the Reagan administration said that Bush "is moving us toward an unlimited executive power."

A reverse thousand days

"With Bush’s second term having about as many days left as Kennedy’s presidency lasted in total, the challenge to the American people is how to use that time to restore U.S. traditions in a variety of key areas. These include: limits on Executive power; protection of constitutional freedoms; pragmatic policies based on science, not ideology or religion; avoidance of 'entangling' foreign conflicts when military objectives are unclear."

3 Democrats slam president over defying statutes

"Three leading Democratic senators blasted President Bush yesterday for having claimed he has the authority to defy more than 750 statutes enacted since he took office, saying that the president's legal theories are wrong and that he must obey the law."

The "New Totalitarianism" now defines a desperate neo-con end game

"Evidence of no-warrant spying on thousands of US citizens continues to surface. Like all totalitarian regimes, this one believes its best defense is to terrorize its citizenry by intruding, Big Brother-like, into all facets of personal life. Inevitably, it is moving [to] prosecute whoever reveals that spying is going on, including a KGB-style search for the hero who leaked Bush's warrantless wire-tap program."

Q. What could a boarding pass tell an identity fraudster about you? Way too much: A simple airline stub, picked out of a bin near Heathrow, led Steve Boggan to investigate a shocking breach of security

"Using this information and surfing publicly available databases, we were able - within 15 minutes - to find out where Broer lived, who lived there with him, where he worked, which universities he had attended and even how much his house was worth when he bought it two years ago. (This was particularly easy given his unusual name, but it would have been possible even if his name had been John Smith. We now had his date of birth and passport number, so we would have known exactly which John Smith.)"

Don't discard your boarding pass; chew it thoroughly and swallow.

Blackwell reports embarrassing buy of Diebold stock

"Secretary of State Ken Blackwell made an embarrassing announcement Monday: He accidentally bought stock in Diebold Inc., a voting machine maker that benefited from decisions made by his office.

"In a required filing with the Ohio Ethics Commission, the GOP gubernatorial hopeful said his hefty portfolio included 178 shares of Diebold stock, which sold for a loss."

US political corruption is worse than a 10 week old corpse. Blackwell, you will recall, aided and abetted the fraudulent win for BushCo in 2004.

Ohio struggles to fix voting problems

"Ohio's first election without punch card ballots was marred by a slew of problems with new voting machines, raising a crucial question: Can the state that decided the last presidential race get it together before November?"

Yes, they'll be able to get it together for BushCo.

Sex, lies, and government contracts: A corruption scandal involving Republicans in Congress, CIA officials, prostitutes on Capitol Hill, and defense contracts has begun to spread.

"The most extensive federal corruption scandal in a century is growing. In March, former Rep. Randy 'Duke' Cunningham (R-CA) was sentenced to more than eight years in federal prison (the longest sentence ever given to a member of Congress) for accepting $2.4 million in bribes in exchange for lucrative defense contracts. Yet Cunningham's crimes, the 'magnitude and duration' of which are compared to the Teapot Dome scandal of the 1920s, may end up a mere prelude. According to recent reports, federal investigators have traced the outlines of a far more extensive network of suspected corruption, involving multiple members of Congress, some of the nation's highest-ranking intelligence officials, bribery attempts including 'free limousine service, free stays at hotel suites at the Watergate and the Westin Grand, and free prostitutes,' tens of millions of dollars in federal contracts awarded under dubious circumstances, and even efforts to influence U.S. national security policy by subverting democratic oversight."

On Tuesday, I believe it was, Randi Rhodes commented that the Dukester (and other aging fascists) probably had to imagine the hookers were the Constitution in order to summon the wherewithal to violate them.

Top CIA official under investigation

"As executive director of the CIA, Foggo oversees the administration of the giant spy agency. He was appointed to the post by CIA Director Porter Goss after working as a midlevel procurement supervisor, according to former CIA officials."

Could there possibly be a connection between the fog over Foggo and Goss' resignation as CIA Director?

Behind the Goss toss: W's 'alarmed' panel sealed top spy's fate

"Bush had already gotten an earful from Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte on the shortcomings of Goss, but the final push came from the 'very alarmed' President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, intelligence and Congressional sources said.

"Alarms were set off at the advisory board by a widening FBI sex and cronyism investigation that's targeted Kyle (Dusty) Foggo, the No.3 official at the CIA, and also touched on Goss himself."

Hayden bringing his special baggage from Fort Meade to Langley: The situation at the CIA can only get worse with "Hitler Hayden" at the helm.

"The Bush administration, always anxious to reward misconduct and mismanagement, now wants Hayden to bring his baggage to a decimated Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Based on Hayden's past at the NSA, Langley should stand by for psychiatric abuse, more Gestapo-like tactics from imported security personnel from Fort Meade, contractor fraud, FBI 'sting' set ups like that which befell NSA Iraqi shop SIGINT analyst Ken Ford, Jr. -- the author of a SIGINT report that stated reports of Iraqi WMDs were not backed up by intercepts of Iraqi communications -- and a general disregard for the law."

Sounds to me like a guy who will someday be getting a Medal of Freedom from the Moron. If you take a photo of Hayden and draw a thin Himmler moustache on his upper lip, it gets a little scary.

Kremlin hits out at Cheney speech

"The Kremlin has described US Vice President Dick Cheney's tough condemnation of Russia on Thursday as 'completely incomprehensible'."

The corrupted Darth Cheney signed his soul away to oily dreams years ago.

Currency reserves jump to $225 bln

"Russia's foreign currency and gold reserves rose to a record $225.7 billion on surging oil and natural gas prices, giving the country cash to pay off its foreign debts early."

Short of nuking the rest of the planet, BushCo's 'Merica has no leverage to do anything except sink.

Dollar starts the big slide against major currencies

"THE dollar has embarked on a big decline that will see it fall against all leading currencies, according to analysts.

"The plunge is being prompted by America’s $800 billion (£438 billion) current-account deficit, they say."

A few days ago I read the Canadian dollar has its highest valuation against the US dollar since 1978.

US dollar fall raises questions on global stability

"Was it US Federal Reserve Board chairman Bernard Bernanke’s first bungle or are we seeing the start of a major shift in international currency markets? That was the question being raised in financial circles last week as the dollar underwent a fall against all major currencies."

Korea, China, Japan to kickstart single Asian currency

"Korea, China and Japan have agreed to start joint research at government level on introducing an Asian single currency comparable to the euro. Finance Minister Han Duck-soo made the agreement with his Chinese counterpart Jin Renqing and Japan¡¯s Sadakazu Tanigaki on the sidelines of the 39th annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank in India."

Sayonara to US preeminence. Soon to be the banana republic it acts like.

Foreclosure activity hits highest level in two years

"Foreclosure activity across the Bay Area and California ticked up to its highest level in two years in the first quarter as the pace of home price gains slackened, according to a real estate information firm."

Americans 'sicker' than their English counterparts

"While wealthy Americans enjoy better health than their poorer fellow citizens, this high status fails to confer health benefits to match even the lowliest of their trans-Atlantic cousins. The health of the richest people in the US is as poor as the worst educated, lowest paid among the English." . . . .

"Smith says the fact that all people in England have access to government-sponsored health cover does not explain the differences seen between the populations. He notes that about 94% of non-Hispanic white Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 years report having access to health insurance."

I would venture that the UK's universal health care system helps with the prevention of health problems. Given the high cost of deductibles in the US, people tend to put off visits to the doctor, because it's going to cost them.

Unions should break with manages care

"Even though it has been obvious since the mid-1990s that managed care has failed to cut costs or improve quality of care for private-sector employees, the insurance industry is attempting to take over the last islands of unmanaged medicine – the nation’s Medicare and Medicaid programs. They argue that managed care is just the ticket for what allegedly ails these programs, and their arguments are succeeding. About half of all Medicaid recipients, and at least 13 percent of Medicare recipients, are in HMOs, and the percents grow every year."

Careless industry: How corporate America perpetuates the health care crisis

"Let’s be honest—very few political operatives, politicians or pundits actually want to explore the real-life, day-to-day economic challenges facing the American people, because to explore them would ultimately force us to admit that our entire venerated political system is totally corrupt.

"Take this idiotically simple question that is almost never asked in the normal course of this country’s political debate: Why do we hear so much about how well-off America is, yet our country has the highest number of uninsured citizens in the industrialized world?"

A synopsis of the 10 worst corporations of 2005

"Halliburton: The company has effectively made a business model of crooked dealing with the U.S. government. Getting caught, over and over, doesn't seem to affect things much. In February, the U.S. Army agreed to pay Halliburton's KBR subsidiary nearly $2 billion for work that nobody can prove ever took place. In March, the company revealed that the U.S. Justice Department opened a criminal inquiry into possible bid-rigging on foreign contracts by Halliburton. In June, at a Congressional hearing, Bunnatine H. Greenhouse, then the senior contracting specialist with the Army Corps of Engineers, testified, 'I can unequivocally state that the abuse related to contracts awarded to KBR [Halliburton's subsidiary] represents the most blatant and improper contract abuse I have witnessed during the course of my professional career.' And the list of abuses goes on and on ..."

Quotes from

"One can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed." -- William F. Buckley, founder of the modern conservative movement Rolling Stone, May 4

"If it's so blessed, why did God put all of our oil under people who hate us?" -- Jon Stewart, on Ari the forked-tongue saying that the American lifestyle is "a blessed one" Link

"Coverage of Bush's skit entered the 24-hour news cycle with little or no mention of Colbert's scathing monologue. This isn't surprising. Mr. Colbert indicted the D.C. media establishment for mindless complacency, as well. To mention Mr. Colbert's criticism of the president would also have meant examining his charge of media bungling. Hacks and politicians were scandalized by his honesty and 'bad manners.'...What did they expect Mr. Colbert to do? It was like hiring George Carlin for his street cred, but hoping he'd turn out to be more like Yakov Smirnoff." -- PittsburgH Post-Gazette Editorial, Link

"Talking to Jesse Jackson is like boxing a glacier...Enjoy that metaphor, because your grandchildren will have no idea what a glacier is." -- Stephen Colbert, slapping Der Monkey around, Link

"I believe the government that governs best is the government that governs least. And by these standards, we have set up a fabulous government in Iraq." ." -- Stephen Colbert, slapping Der Monkey around, Link

"To sit here at the same table with my hero, George W. Bush...I feel like I'm dreaming. Somebody pinch me. ...that may not be enough... Somebody shoot me in the face." -- Stephen Colbert, slapping Der Monkey around, Link

"So wonderful to see you coming back into the Republican fold. I've actually got a summer house in South Carolina. Look me up when you go to speak at Bob Jones University." -- Stephen Colbert, to John McCain, Link

"The greatest thing about this man (Boosh) is he's steady - you know where he stands. He believes the same thing Wednesday that he believed on Monday - no matter what happened Tuesday." -- Stephen Colbert, slapping Der Monkey around, Link

"George Packer captured the moral dimension of our current national predicament. He describes Bush's strategy as 'muddling through the rest of his Presidency, without being forced to admit defeat, until January of 2009, when the war will become a new President's problem.' This really is the issue. Brazen it out, burn off men and money, not admit there's any real problem and then pass it off on the next guy who will take the blame. The president lacks the courage to change course. The whole country is paralyzed by his cowardice." -- Josh Marshall, Link

"I stand by this man because he stands for things. Not only for things, he stands on things. Things like aircraft carriers, and rubble, and recently flooded city squares. And that sends a strong message, that no matter what happens to America, she will always rebound with the most powerfully staged photo ops in the world." -- Stephen Colbert, slapping Der Monkey around, Link

"Colbert's routine was a satirical take on the bloviating wingnut (and covert wingnut) gasbags who support the Republicans no matter what they do. That's not in bad taste. It's a public service." -- Digby Link

"The party needs somebody to stand up to the president.'' -- Arlen Specter, Bush's poodle in the senate, Link

"I think the national anthem ought to be sung in English, and I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English and they ought to learn to sing the national anthem in English." -- Murderer, 4/28/06, Link

"'When visiting cities like Chicago, Milwaukee, or Philadelphia, in pivotal states, he would drop in at Hispanic festivals and parties, sometimes joining in singing 'The Star-Spangled Banner' in Spanish, sometimes partying with a 'Viva Bush' mariachi band flown in from Texas." -- Kevin Phillips, in his book American Dynasty, Link

"The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Anna Nicole Smith. Guess that lap dance for Clarence Thomas paid off." -- David Letterman

"Any day now, I expect to hear Republicans have set up Or perhaps he can be retroactively impeached on a new list of charges." -- Dick Polman, on Bill Frist blaming Clinton for Bush's gasoline prices, Link


Blogger FormalWare said...

Jerry, you DO know how to Pick 'em! Read it all with fascination; will be back for more!

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