Sunday, January 28, 2007

Snowier adventures of a frolicsome border collie

This time from Tamar:

Olivia also got to play in the snow--we got about 25 cm here on Thursday. Not much left now, after two days of strong sunshine, but it was fun while it lasted.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Me neither

Not that I ever said I would support John Edwards, but after reading Bob's post I can say with 100% confidence that Edwards will never get my vote. As Bob says, "That Edwards believes that Iran is a threat, and that he feels it is more important to speak to Israelis than to Americans, is enough to cross him off my list."

Bob raises a good question: "Why is it that most states get two senators, while Israel gets 100?"

Democrats are, if anything, even more reflexively pro-Israel than Republicans. As Joe Biden helpfully explained to Jewish journalists in October, 2006, the Democrats' support for Israel "comes from our gut, moves through our heart, and ends up in our head. It's almost genetic." (No need to cross Biden off my list; he was never on it. I cannot stand the man or his politics.)

Compared to this sorry bunch of Democrats, Hagel is looking better all the time. He got the lowest score--3.88 on a scale of 1-10--of all the 2008 presidential candidates ranked for Haaretz by a panel in response to the question "How good is the candidate for Israel?" (Note, though, that the best qualified candidate of all, Dennis Kucinich, is not even on Haaretz's list.) And Hagel has been one of the most vocal opponents of Bush's escalation of the war on Iraq.

But on virtually all the other issues his politics could not be further from my own. A 0% rating by NARAL on women's reproductive rights. A 100% rating by The Christian Coalition. An A grade from the NRA. Supports Bush 95% of the time, favors privatizing social security, opposes more federal funding for health care.

No. I can't.

New blog in town

It's called Piran Café, and is described by author "Pirano" (a fiendishly clever pseudonym) as "a tremendous waste of precious time." I'm pretty sure he meant his time, not the reader's time. For readers, I'd say it's well worth a (daily) visit. Want to learn about the hazards facing Martin Strel in his attempt to swim the entire length of the Amazon River? Need some shopping tips for just the right souvenir that best represents Slovenia's cultural contribution to the world? And do check out my cameo appearance here.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Snowy adventures of a frolicsome border collie

Lyra is visiting friends this week in Ljubljana. Yesterday it started to snow in the northern, alpine part of the country (the Gorenjska region), and so Lyra and her friends went off to frolic in the white stuff. Photographic documentation follows (click to enlarge):

Oli and I are stuck in the rainy Karst. We saw a bit of white stuff today when it hailed, but mostly we have mud and puddles on the ground. Oli doesn't mind the rain, or the mud. She's been taking advantage of Lyra's absence to play with her frisbees. Getting rather proficient. And quite muddy. No photographic documentation, but use your imagination to visualize a wet, muddy blue merle aussie with brown where the white markings used to be. (Photo below was taken a month ago, above Bohinj. She was clean then.)

Monday, January 22, 2007

Won't Bernie Sanders please run for president?

Because I sure as hell won't be voting for Hillary or Obama.

Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, speaking at the National Conference for Media Reform, transcript courtesy of Democracy Now!:
[...] If you are concerned, as been said, about healthcare, if you are concerned about foreign policy and Iraq, if you are concerned about the economy, if you are concerned about global warming, you are kidding yourselves if you are not concerned about corporate control over the media, because every one of these issues is directly controlled and directly relevant to the media.

Let me just talk about a few. Four years ago, George W. Bush told the American people that a third-rate military power country called Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and that they were about to attack the United States of America. That's what he told us. I can tell you, because I was there in the middle of that, in opposition to that -- that day after day, those of us who oppose the war, among many other things, would be holding national press conferences that you never saw. I can tell you, as you know, that hundreds of thousands of people in our country were so disgusted with the media simply acting as a megaphone for the President that they turned off American media, and they went to the BBC or the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

In terms of the war in Iraq, the American media failed, and failed grotesquely, in exposing the dishonest and misleading assertions of the Bush administration in the lead-up to that war, and they are as responsible as is President Bush for the disaster that now befalls us. Media plays a role. And the disintegration of Iraq, the death of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, of over 3,000 Americans, the cost of hundreds of billons of dollars out of our pockets -- directly related to the failure of the media.

Let me touch on another issue, an issue that I am deeply involved in. If you were to ask me what the most significant untold story of our time is, in terms of domestic politics, I would tell you very simply that that story happens to be the collapse of the American middle class. Simply stated -- I don’t want to speak at great length on it, but simply stated, despite an explosion of technology, huge increase in worker productivity, tens of millions of our fellow Americans have seen a decline in their real wages and are working longer hours for lower wages. In fact, what you probably don't know is that the working people in our country work longer hours than do the working people in any other industrialized nation on earth.

How did that happen? How did it happen today that a two-income family has less disposal income than a one-income family did thirty years ago? How does it happen that thirty years ago, one person working forty hours a week could earn enough money to take care of the family; now, you need two, and they're still not doing it? Now, one might think that this is an interesting story. One might think that globalization and disastrous trade policies, which have lowered the standard of living of millions of American workers, might be a story that should be covered.

What I can tell you is that when NAFTA was first passed over ten years ago -- and I strongly opposed NAFTA -- we did some research. We did some research. We went through the editorial pages of every major newspaper in America, every single one of them was prone after, and today, despite a $600 billion trade deficit, the loss of millions of good-paying blue-collar and white-collar jobs, these corporate titans are still in favor of unfettered free trade, despite the disastrous impact it has had on America's workers.

Now, what is all of this about? What happens? If the reality of working people's lives are not reflected in the TV, in the newspapers, what happens? This is what happens. People lose their jobs, because corporations shut down. Just had an instance in Vermont this week. 175 workers shut down, lost their jobs, because of free trade.

People working long hours, people working for lower wages, they turn on the television set, they do not see that reality. What they see is the issue is personal responsibility. You can't afford healthcare? You're losing your pension? Then the problem is with you. Work a little bit harder. It is not a systemic problem. It is not a problem that can be solved by government. It is not a problem which asked you to be involved in the political process. You are the only person who can find a job that pays you a living wage. That's your fault! And you are the only person who can’t find a job that provides you with healthcare. That's your fault! And you're the only father who can't afford to send your kid to college. That's your fault! Don't get involved in the political process. It won't do any good. So people turn on the television -- they’re hurting, they're exhausted -- they do not see a reflection of their reality in the media. They do not understand that participation in the political process can bring about change, and that is not by accident.

When we wake up in the morning and we brush our teeth, for better or worse, we see our own reflections in the mirror. When we turn on the television, somebody is providing us a mirror to the world, and what we want is that mirror to reflect the reality of ordinary people and not the illusions of a few.

Talk about healthcare. We are told that it is quite amazing. After sixteen years in the Congress, you hear these guys getting up on the floor announce, “We have the best healthcare system in the world. Yeah!” 47 million Americans have no health insurance. Even more are underinsured. We pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. Costs are soaring. Best healthcare system in the world.

But, you know, go out on the street and ask people how many major countries in the world do not have a national healthcare program, which guarantees healthcare to all people. And you know what? Most people do not know, because they have not seen it reflected in the media, that the United States of America is the only nation on earth that does not guarantee healthcare to all of its people. They do not know about the healthcare systems in Scandinavia. They do not know about European healthcare systems. And the only thing they will hear about the Canadian healthcare system are the problems that that system has. That's what they will hear.

I can remember in the early 1990s, during the early years of the Clinton administration, there was a lot of debate about the need for real healthcare reform. Do you happen to know which piece of legislation in the House had far more support than any other concept? You probably don't. It was legislation to support a single-payer national healthcare system. That's a fact. But, as somebody who was involved in that fight, we would turn on the television and say, “Hey, single payer has more support than any other concept. Are you going to talk about single payer?” “Oh, no, no. We don’t talk about single payer. It's not feasible.” Virtually no coverage about what a single-payer concept is about. Virtually no coverage about international healthcare and how other countries are doing a better job than we are doing.

In terms of the environment. In terms of the environment, if we are told over and over again that there is a serious scientific debate about the causation of global warming or whether global warming actually exists, it has an impact upon our consciousness. Why should we break our dependency on fossil fuels, why should we move to sustainable energy, if there is a debate among the scientific community? And that is, in fact, what you hear in the media. Well, you know what? There is no debate among the scientific community.

Now, here's an issue that I’m sure you see on the TV almost every night -- it probably bores you, you see it so much -- and that is that the United States today has the most unfair distribution of wealth and income of any major country on earth. I was joking. You don't see that on television very often. Now, here is at issue, you know, which is of enormous significance from an economic point of view, as well as a political point of view, as well as a moral point of view. Richest 1% of the population in America owns more wealth than the bottom 90%. Richest 13,000 families earn more income than do the bottom 20 million families. In many ways, in my view, we are moving toward an oligarchic form of society. Do you think that maybe this is an issue that should be thrown out there on the table? Do we think it's a good idea that so few have so much and so many have so little? But that is an issue that is beyond the scope of what establishment media is literally allowed to discuss.

Now, I have been in politics for a long time. I have been asked a thousand questions by media. Not one member of the media has ever come up to me and said, “Bernie, what are you going to do to deal with the outrage of America having the most unfair distribution of wealth of any country on earth? What are you going to do about it?” Have you ever heard any political leader ever being asked that question? Why not? Why is that issue outside of the scope of what we are allowed to talk about?