Monday, April 29, 2013

Not in my Name: Unwise U.S. Drone Attacks, Unintentional Terror Abroad

Too many drone attacks launched by my government are killing
innocents/innocence abroad. How is that materially different
from what happened in Boston weeks back, from the
perspective of injured civilians on the ground? America feels
safer, politically and otherwise (no U.S. soldiers lost) when
we use drones to quell our enemies' cells abroad, but it's a
short-sighted policy, maybe a murderous one.

Of course we want and need to feel safe at home--doesn't
everyone? A judiciously rare use of these unmanned little
planes might have been alright, especially if they involved
truly "surgical" (i.e., accurately targeted) strikes. Our
propaganda mill has boasted of so-called surgical strikes
since WWII, and we weren't right back then...or now.

Not in my name, these unwise U.S. drone attacks; we
cause (unintentional?) terror abroad.


P.S.: for a more extensive examination  of this issue,
please go to Hardwired to Reason, the April 26th,
2013 post.

Senator Lindsey Graham: Not So Smart a Cookie

Here is the senator aping former President Bush II, talking about
his political capital and his intention to use it. In this instance,
apparently knowing little about science, especially nuclear energy
issues, he is all in to bring the MOX (mixed oxide fuel) facility to
completion in South Carolina.  Anyone can understand his desire
to bring jobs to his state, but can't he find a safer, more cost
effective and productive project? Sen. Graham isn't above
using political blackmail to achieve his ends, holding up
confirmation of the new nominee for Energy Secretary,
Ernest J. Moniz, over the MOX debacle.
Nuclear energy has indeed proven to be the "Faustian bargain"
physicist Alvin Weinberg predicted decades ago, even before
Three Mile Island's ~40% core melt in 1979. There have been
at least five major nuclear accidents  around the world, not
counting the several submarines under the seas with their
dead and their nuclear power plants.

Many often have written about why nuclear power projects
should not be expanded in the U.S. or elsewhere:
What is to be done with the radwaste, toxic for hundreds of
thousands of years or more? Hanford, WA has leaking waste
containers from the early days of nuclear power, and recent
reports claim that newer storage containers (dry casks) have
had welds which haven't held.

Then there are the very shaky financial and insurance aspects
to constructing any new nuclear plant, whether for reprocessing
or for direct energy production. Every such project since the
beginning has been plagued by cost overruns, delays and safety
concerns. A California nuclear plant was actually installed
(oops!) backwards.

Wouldn't a studied intelligence conclude it's time to phase out
these electric utilities' dangerous dinosaurs, a failed
"swords into plowshares" post WWII proposition?
But Sen. Graham isn't up to date in South Carolina,
much less anywhere else.

He's not so smart a cookie, that Graham.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Mayor Harold Washington, 30 Years on, Alive in My Mind

It's April, 1983. Harold Washington becomes Chicago's mayor, the
first African-American to achieve the fifth floor office in city hall.
He's eminently qualified, having been an Illinois legislator to
Springfield and Washington, DC.  He's an attorney, son of an
attorney, a man with charm, exuding erudition and humor at
any time, except for extreme, rare, unforgivable times.

I worked on Washington's mayoral campaign in 1983, in
infamous Democratic Machine Ward 47. Even after Harold
had been in office for months, the obstinate stupidity of
prejudice held sway there (-and elsewhere).  The essential,
provable fairness of Mayor Washington HAS NOT
been emphasized enough: usually, any encomiums focus
on his opening doors deservedly opened to minorities and
women; these reported reforms were good, overdue
and true.

But I personally witnessed his remarkable practical justice
to the white areas of Chicago as well, in street resurfacing
projects where I lived, Chicago's racist near NW Side,
Damen/Irving/Lincoln, the 47th Ward. At the same time,
literally THE SAME WEEK, street resurfacing/repair
by the city was carried out there and on the South Side.

Has anyone else in  power in Chicago been as fair as
Harold? I doubt it.

But then, he was a kind and extremely well-read soul;
sadly, qualities in short supply today in 2013.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Social Security vs. The U.S. Economy

This just in: Social Security recipients are ruining our
economy! Just one of many implications as the political
squabbling roars on.

The various arguments tendered today by DC Senators and
guest PBS pundits on our debt and/or deficit situation would
elicit more hoarse/horse laughs if  the difficulties and
dysfunctions weren't so damned serious.

Consider, if you will (as Rod Serling used to say):

(1) The USA, a largely consumer-driven economy for
      decades, has many apologists clamoring for more
(2)  Unemployment nationally still hovers between  seven
       and eight percent; some states, like mine, Illinois, boast
       NINE percent unemployed.  If the discouraged could
       be counted, the true picture would be obviously
       grimmer. (Mighty hard to grin feeling grim.)
(3)   The only people who CAN consume are SSA
        benefit recipients, the employed and the wealthy.
        Apparently their aggregate spending hasn't been
        adequate to the task of restoring our economy,
        bad for six years, despite the markets' recent

So the poor, veterans, disabled  and  aged  must bear
the brunt of future cost savings to make our balance sheet
look good? Shame, Mr. Obama, shame right-wing
nuthatches, shame on the uncaring lot of you.
"City on a hill"? --More like an ant hill.

Oh yeah, we old-timers are living off the fat of
the land and have broken our beautiful economy!

--In a pig's eye. Do something about waste, fraud
and abuse in the Pentagon (not by indiscriminately
laying off workers there), cherished pork barrel
projects, etc. Scale back the too-generous pensions
of former office holders. Examine with great scrutiny
the LLPs and LLCs, changing those laws which allow
many of the humans involved to avoid law suits and
certain sorts of taxation.

And stop waging war on seniors!

Run, Weiner, Run-- Away from Further, Future Public Office

NO New York Mayor Anthony Weiner, never! Weren't NYC'ers
embarrassed enough with the personal sexual antics of Giuliani?
(You'll recall he had his mistress and wife living in the mayor's
manse at the same time.) He betta fogetta boudit permanently.
A.W. showed pathetically poor taste/judgement by tweeting
(sexy?) pics of  himself to 45,000 followers, and more
personally, via other media, to about six women. (I'm
guessing none went to his wife.)

Here is only a partial list of his many inadequacies which he
displays for millions of us to see:

(1) He is not attractive, as his profile pix plainly show. Hair,
nose and posture sadly lacking. (Full disclosure: I'm no beauty
myself, but this guy needs to carefully clean his mirrors and
stare objectively, thoughtfully into them.) 

(2) Even though he had a pregnant, prominent wife at the time,
that did not suffice to assuage his male mid-life crisis. Crikey,
man, buy a red sports car like other, older self-involved men

(3) His sexually needy ego overrode any sense of the dignity
required of a nations' top leadership, i. e., our office holders.

(4) He thought this could remain private? --How??

Even former Pres. Bill Clinton, somewhat better looking and
much more popular, couldn't get re-elected after his highly
publicized White House affair. So...

Run away now, Mr. Weiner, please. People like you
help give our country a bad name.

Animal Cruelty: Pastime of the Deeply Defective

...but even more disturbing is the tendency of judges to let
off the malfeasor with light or non-existent penalties (probation).
There are laws that severely punish such deviance;
in Illinois, some acts are ranked as Class Four Felonies.

That begs the question: In states which do have stiff penalties
for cruelty to animals, why don't courts award more punitive
sentences? One reason, surely, is less regard for other than
human life. (Not that there's a great respect for people either.)
I have to laugh with contempt at judges with a less than
enlightened attitude here. Did they manage to skip Biology
or Zoology in secondary school or college? Don't they
know that cats, dogs, horses and other animals suffer in
the same way as you and me? But it's even worse if they
do know but don't care.

Not caring: the single greatest cause of every blight humanity
has visited upon this Earth. Selfishness, narrow tolerances,
strife,war, and every evil everyone can think of,  comes
from a "missing empathy gene". Add to that the human hubris
in refusing to remember that we ARE ANIMALS ALSO.

As the always vaunted  "higher" animal, humanity has an
obligation to live up to such stellar billing. The many
instances of cruelty and neglect of dependent/vulnerable
animals makes me challenge that comforting assertion.

Animal cruelty is the pastime of the deeply defective.
I include you lax judges, even if you don't know who
you are.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Korea vs. the U.S.: Sabre-Rattling Racking Up Escalation to Annihilation

The unthinkable isn't impossible, a scary truism. National nuclear
pride posturing with thousands (or millions) of lives in the
balance is a daily blast blaring from all media, this time Korea vs.
the U.S. Really, even if South Korea bears the brunt of proximity,
many are gunning for the USA, as it's always attractive, tempting,
to try to take down the top dog.

And as others often have said, we ARE slipping. The latest proof
of idiocy in motion, the Sequester, is interfering with our military
readiness, among many other necessities. Should North Korea, a
starving, fantasy-led land of irrational, ignorant people, actually
set off one or more nuclear bombs, it won't be just South Korea
feeling the negative effects.   

Reading back to Benjamin Franklin, who studied the Gulf Stream,
or checking out NOAA today (which we'd be advised to do before
its five satellites "die" in 2014) renders an appreciation yet again
of  just how this is really just one world, atmospherically,
geologically, hydrologically speaking. The several major air
currents make sure that any pollutants do get around, eventually
to us in the U.S.

But as one expert on PBS reminded us only this week, an ordinary
jet can drop nuclear bombs. (-1945, anyone?) Psychologically
speaking, the reptilian brain-mediated motivations of the men in
charge in North and South Korea, as well as here at home, are
far from elevated. As Dr. Helen Caldicott pointed out decades ago,
missiles are phallic symbols built large, and every big shot really
wants one (or more). Penis envy equals missile envy. --The rest
of us? Should we back this Armageddon-style posturing?

Falling domino chains of political alliances could lead us to
annihilation--swiftly. Sabre-rattling is a clarion cry to action,
not by the toffs bellowing, but by billions of us who simply
want to live.