mm510: Barack Obama will be the 44th President of the United States

November 4, 2008
© Misty Pfeil | Dreamstime.com

© Misty Pfeil | Dreamstime.com

mudgesmusings1.jpg

Words fail me. But the electorate didn’t.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm509: Hear that sound? It’s the ice skaters in hell!

October 17, 2008
© Associated Press photo by Byron Rollins

© Associated Press photo by Byron Rollins

We’ve written before about our hometown newspaper, the Chicago Tribune.

Taken most seriously in its home town.

But proud of its Republican tradition. Its first editor of any distinction, Joseph Medill, was influential in winning the presidency for Abraham Lincoln.

That Republican heritage caused it to be newspaper non grata in my grandparents’ and my parents’ households, and indeed, our household for many years, until its more favored tabloid competitor, the once scrappy and progressive Sun-Times, was eviscerated by Rupert Murdoch, the first of a series of newspaper bandits that have effectively destroyed it. The latest in that series, Conrad Black, is in federal prison, convicted of fraud in connection with his newspaper properties.

But we digress.

The Tribune is <so> Republican that once, the year yr (justifiably) humble svt was born, they allowed wishful thinking to trump reality, resulting in the headline illustrated at the top of this post, a photograph that Wikipedia rightfully describes as one of the most famous ever published.

That was then.

Times, even for the 161 year old Chicago Tribune, have changed.

chitrib

FROM THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE EDITORIAL BOARD

Tribune endorsement: Barack Obama for president

2:33 PM CDT, October 17, 2008

However this election turns out, it will dramatically advance America’s slow progress toward equality and inclusion. It took Abraham Lincoln’s extraordinary courage in the Civil War to get us here. It took an epic battle to secure women the right to vote. It took the perseverance of the civil rights movement. Now we have an election in which we will choose the first African-American president . . . or the first female vice president.

In recent weeks it has been easy to lose sight of this history in the making. Americans are focused on the greatest threat to the world economic system in 80 years. They feel a personal vulnerability the likes of which they haven’t experienced since Sept. 11, 2001. It’s a different kind of vulnerability. Unlike Sept. 11, the economic threat hasn’t forged a common bond in this nation. It has fed anger, fear and mistrust.

On Nov. 4 we’re going to elect a president to lead us through a perilous time and restore in us a common sense of national purpose.

The strongest candidate to do that is Sen. Barack Obama. The Tribune is proud to endorse him today for president of the United States.

Do you get it yet?

In over 160 years, forty (40!) elections, the Tribune has NEVER endorsed a Democrat for president in a general election.

Until today.

Read the rest of this entry »


mm508: A great, and most useful, debate

October 15, 2008
© Kevin Renes | Dreamstime.com

© Kevin Renes | Dreamstime.com

The last debate.

Three weeks to go.

Got me to reminisce about my early exposure to politics.

The first presidential debate I ever watched was the first modern presidential debate: Nixon v. Kennedy, 1960.

I was a kid, growing up in a very political household. My dad had been a precinct captain, and was soon to become Democratic township committeeman of our (before he took over) rock-ribbed Republican suburb.

My mother was the brains of the outfit, who had helped my dad go door to door to elect a Democratic congressman whose name was always gold in their house, even 40 years later, Barratt O’Hara.

The first television we had was purchased not to watch Uncle Miltie and the antics of Lucy and Desi, but rather was acquired to watch the conventions of 1952.

In late 1959, my parents began an impossibly quixotic quest: from our family room they created a national campaign to nominate Chester Bowles of Connecticut for president. Where this cockamamie idea came from I have no idea to this day. A very distinguished progressive politician. Before that, a phenomenally successful advertising executive. Once and future ambassador to India and Under Secretary of State.

Way too qualified for the presidency.

Yr (justifiably) humble svt spent many a weekend that year and through mid-1960 stuffing, addressing and stamping envelopes.

It was a simpler time. Stuffing envelopes in support of a national presidential campaign by hand, indeed.

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mm507: Nobel and noble – a daily double

October 13, 2008
© Pemotret | Dreamstime.com

© Pemotret | Dreamstime.com

Sometimes good things happen to good people.

Paul Krugman of Princeton University and the NYTimes, frequently quoted in this space, was awarded the 2008 Nobel Prize in Economics today.

This is worthy recognition to an outstanding thinker, who not only thinks the deep thoughts of his “dismal science,” but articulately delivers complex concepts with clarity.

Well done, Nobel committee, and Paul Krugman!

—————–

Last post, I spoke in glowing terms of one of my favorite progressive blogs, First Door on the Left.

Len did it again today (recognizing Paul Krugman, by the way) by posting the complete transcript of Barack Obama’s fleshed out economic rescue plan delivered in Ohio today.

firstdoorontheleft

A Rescue Plan for the Middle Class

Posted by Len on Monday at 1:19 pm in Democrats, Election 2008, Politics

I know these are difficult times. I know folks are worried. But I also know this – we can steer ourselves out of this crisis. Because we are the United States of America. We are the country that has faced down war and depression; great challenges and great threats. And at each and every moment, we have risen to meet these challenges – not as Democrats, not as Republicans, but as Americans.

We still have the most talented, most productive workers of any country on Earth. We’re still home to innovation and technology, colleges and universities that are the envy of the world. Some of the biggest ideas in history have come from our small businesses and our research facilities. It won’t be easy, but there’s no reason we can’t make this century another American century.

But it will take a new direction. It will take new leadership in Washington. It will take a real change in the policies and politics of the last eight years. And that’s why I’m running for President of the United States of America.

My opponent has made his choice. Last week, Senator McCain’s campaign announced that they were going to “turn the page” on the discussion about our economy so they can spend the final weeks of this election attacking me instead. His campaign actually said, and I quote, “if we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.” Well Senator McCain may be worried about losing an election, but I’m worried about Americans who are losing their jobs, and their homes, and their life savings. They can’t afford four more years of the economic theory that says we should give more and more to millionaires and billionaires and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. We’ve seen where that’s led us and we’re not going back. It’s time to turn the page.

Read the rest of this entry »


mm506: What to read when you’re not reading me

October 9, 2008
© Bruno1998 | Dreamstime.com

© Bruno1998 | Dreamstime.com

Away (from blogging — the writing, not the reading) and the economy, and especially the stock markets, continues in free fall.

Everyone is on edge, if not downright frantic, because if you’re too young to be that concerned about your retirement account and pension, you very well might be looking over your shoulder for economy-related pink slips.

The presidential campaign continues its free fall, from idealism and straight talk to Republican distortions and lies, and increasingly strident (and quite rapid, altogether a nice improvement over the “gentlemanly” Kerry debacle) Democratic responses.

And chanting relentlessly about Bill Ayers to mad-dog mobs (did Sarah Palin bring out every last one of this country’s rednecks?) while 401Ks keep decaying and mortgages keep resetting  is making ordinary, moderate people downright angry.

Fiddling while Rome burns, indeed.

My approach to the meltdown? I just don’t look at my funds.

If you’re not spending it tomorrow, why make yourself crazy? If you live long enough, you’ll see the markets come back. And I’m not retiring until my 90th birthday.

Of course those now living off of their pensions and especially their IRAs and 401Ks have a right to be furious with the criminal class of plutocrats running (yeah, and ruining) this country’s biggest financial institutions. And the Republican politicians who made the world safe for their crimes.

I can imagine some really juicy show trials come January.

Meanwhile, I’m reading lots of good stuff, enough so that this past week I find myself rather tongue-tied as a result.

So, rather than fight to get the words out, here’s a laundry list of worthwhile reading.

Read the rest of this entry »


mm504: Numb, but thawing

September 28, 2008
© Sharon Kennedy | Dreamstime.com

© Sharon Kennedy | Dreamstime.com

Trying not to feel too guilty about this month’s continuing violations of the blogger’s prime directive: Thou Shalt Blog Daily!

Guilty, your honor, with an excuse.

It’s not like there haven’t been extraordinary events to write about, in the big world out there, and in the not quite silent interior world each of us populate, eternally alone.

Faithful reader will have noted the personal elements that seem to have cost us our creative rhythm.

Complicated, lately, by the recent edition of MUDGElet No. 3′s 50-inch HD plasma television (if the empty nest had to be invaded, at least there’s an extra dividend!), just in time for the football season and the exciting (for Chicagoans, surprisingly exciting) baseball late and post-season.

Football, especially, on the elderly 13-inch conventional TV that sits on a file cabinet in our home office, pales in comparison. And the only laptop in my possession (two, actually, in my custody) belongs to my employer, and it wouldn’t occur to me to blog on those machines. Inappropriate.

So, it’s a tough call, choosing between blogging and high-definition spectator sport, especially in these personally emotionally draining times, and especially on this Sunday evening when the often frustrating home team Bears are giving the Eagles a fight.

Read the rest of this entry »


mm503: The $700 Billion Fairy Tale

September 25, 2008
© Penguinn | Dreamstime.com

© Penguinn | Dreamstime.com

Don’t have the energy for a full fledged rant, but several stories and commentaries crossed the screen today, and made it clear that, in an administration that never stops scamming us, they’ve totally topped themselves.

The Yiddish term is Chutzpah, whose classic definition has a young man, caught with bloody hands after murdering his parents, asking the court for mercy, as he’s an orphan.

We begin with that stalwart bastion of progressive thought, Steve Chapman of the Chicago Tribune. Stalwart, yes, bastion, yes, progressive? Judge for yourself.

chitrib

The case against a federal bailout

Steve Chapman | September 25, 2008

The late comedian Jack Benny made a career of claiming to be a cheapskate. In one joke, a robber accosted him and said: “Your money or your life.” Getting no response, the thug repeated his demand. Benny replied, “I’m thinking about it!”

That’s the sort of dilemma posed by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke in their proposed rescue of financial institutions. They predict dire consequences if they don’t get their way. But the consequences of letting them have their way are so awful that the alternative doesn’t look so bad.

What they prescribe is for the federal government to buy $700 billion worth of lousy assets from banks and other lenders, exposing taxpayers to a potentially crushing liability. This plan would nationalize the money-losing part of the financial sector, to the benefit of capitalists who have made spectacularly bad decisions—fostering more bad decisions in the future.

It would add to the liabilities of a government that is already living way beyond its means. It would give unprecedented power to a couple of officials who have proved highly fallible in trying to avert this alleged crisis. And it poses the risk of abuse and corruption because the government has no way to gauge the value of what it will buy….

Paulson and Bernanke say, and probably believe, that their program is for the good of us all. But remember what Thoreau thought of their 19th Century counterparts. “If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with the conscious design of doing me good,” he wrote, “I should run for my life.”

The case against a federal bailout — chicagotribune.com

Read a local media observer today who thought that this was the year that Chapman’s paper, the Chicago Tribune might endorse a Democrat for president for the first time. Ever. In over 150 years.

Read the rest of this entry »


mm502: Overwhelmed

September 24, 2008
© Martin Applegate | Dreamstime.com

© Martin Applegate | Dreamstime.com

Just don’t know where to start.

The news is bleak, nearly everywhere one cares to look.

Somehow, John McCain is still taken seriously, even as he escalates the stunts.

First, adopt wholeheartedly with relish the Karl Rove/Swift Boat outrageous Big Lie protocol that obliterated the last nice guy to try to win the White House.

Next, kowtow to the restive Christian wingnuts by selecting for his running mate wingnut magna, herself, Sarah Palin.

Now, clothe his attempt at abject ducking of the first debate in the name of somehow intervening in Congress’s Wall Street bailout negotiations. Senator “Fundamentally Sound” McCain. Whose economic advisor, the next Secretary of the Treasury should this country wake up to a nightmare on Nov. 5 is Phil “Stop Whining” Gramm. Yeah, I’m certain you can guys can be of assistance.

If it wasn’t so serious, it would be laughable.

Read the rest of this entry »


mm501: Noted Cubs fan tees off on McCain

September 23, 2008
© Misty Pfeil | Dreamstime.com

© Misty Pfeil | Dreamstime.com

George F. Will is one of the best known conservative commentators writing for a major daily newspaper. And, he makes no bones about his appreciation for the Chicago Cubs, who in the past few days have reached the next milestones in what should, by all rights, be their Brigadoon Year (go ahead, click the link — it’s one of my favorites, and you read it here first!).

Mr. Conservative Pundit George F. Will had some very cogent observations regarding the character of one John S. McCain, Republican presidential candidate. Unexpectedly, at least to this progressive observer, and to others who have picked up on this today, Mr. Will is not happy with Sen. McCain.

washingtonpost

McCain Loses His Head

By George F. Will | Tuesday, September 23, 2008; Page A21

Under the pressure of the financial crisis, one presidential candidate is behaving like a flustered rookie playing in a league too high. It is not Barack Obama.

Channeling his inner Queen of Hearts, John McCain furiously, and apparently without even looking around at facts, said Chris Cox, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, should be decapitated. This childish reflex provoked the Wall Street Journal to editorialize that “McCain untethered” — disconnected from knowledge and principle — had made a “false and deeply unfair” attack on Cox that was “unpresidential” and demonstrated that McCain “doesn’t understand what’s happening on Wall Street any better than Barack Obama does.”

Senator, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission regulates the stock-related activities of publicly traded corporations.

Read the rest of this entry »


mm499: Blast from the Past! No. 53 – Fuel without oil, or corn

September 19, 2008
© Carbouval | Dreamstime.com

© Carbouval | Dreamstime.com

So it’s been pretty tough this week, as Faithful Reader might imagine, and we’re dipping our toes gingerly back into the blogging sea tonight.

Nevertheless, we’re all about doing the right thing here at Left-Handed Complement, and in that spirit we’re recycling some of yr (justifiably) humble svt‘s favorite electrons. And, with nearly 470 fresh daily posts in the past 16+ months, the recycling process has an exceptionally rich vein to mine.

I hereby stop apologizing for resuming our observance of the prime directive of blogging: Thou Shalt Blog Daily!

And, I’m guessing that most of you weren’t here nine months ago. As one of my favorite paper publications used to say as they flogged unsold back issues: “If you haven’t read it yet, it’s new for you!”

lhc76019043_thumb24_thumb2_thumb2_th[2]

Blast from the Past!

A post we really, really loved to write, and read, and re-read…

From last fall, originally posted November 13, 2007, and with a woman vice presidential candidate, more germane than ever, titled “mm193: Fuel without oil, or corn.”

MUDGE’S Musings

It’s been an ongoing theme (here, here and here) at Left-Handed Complement: the pandering, wrong-headed concentration on corn derived ethanol as the U.S. main alternative to Saudi (and Nigerian, Gulf of Mexico and North Slope) petroleum to fuel our transportation system.

This past weekend, the NYTimes featured a fascinating look at non-corn alternatives to powering our SUVs.

biomassethanol

For years, scientists have known that the building blocks in plant matter — not just corn kernels, but also corn stalks, wood chips, straw and even some household garbage — constituted an immense potential resource that could, in theory, help fill the gasoline tanks of America’s cars and trucks.

Mostly, they have focused on biology as a way to do it, tinkering with bacteria or fungi that could digest the plant material, known as biomass, and extract sugar that could be fermented into ethanol. But now, nipping at the heels of various companies using biological methods, is a new group of entrepreneurs, including Mr. Mandich, who favor chemistry.

The conceptual problem with ethanol from corn has always rested in the strong suspicion that the energy required to process corn to burn in one’s automobile exceeds the yield of energy so created.

Ethanol from corn is a political hot button, especially for all of the presidential campaigners prostrating themselves before Iowa’s farmers — isn’t it high time to divest this country from its inappropriate emphasis on Iowa and New Hampshire in the primary process?

You don’t see Georgia influencing election trends, and yet:

In Georgia alone, enough waste wood is available to make two billion gallons of ethanol a year, Mr. Mandich said. If all that material could be captured and converted to fuel, it could replace about 1 percent of the nation’s gasoline consumption.

[Please click the link below for the complete article -- but then please come on back!]

Fuel Without the Fossil – New York Times

Obviously, there are some very bright people working hard at solutions, made increasingly economically attractive as the baseline of comparison to petroleum-based fuels persists in climbing inexorably toward $4/gallon.

And, corn-based or not, it looks like ethanol is going to be the end result of all of this chemical creativity, since it’s ethanol that has the Congressionally mandated tax credit.

MUDGE used to believe that the fuel cell guys had the answer, but what with the way the real world works, I can’t see corner hydrogen pumps popping up in many neighborhoods in my lifetime. So chemically derived ethanol will have to do.

Good to see U.S. innovation persists. Like the current IBM advertisements proclaim, it’s easy to say, and so very much more difficult to actually do.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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