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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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mm495: Family and politics

September 11, 2008
© Susy56 | Dreamstime.com

© Susy56 | Dreamstime.com

Once again, it’s nearly 9:00pm as I begin to figure out what to say tonight, pretty late for a guy whose alarm goes off at 5:10am, and who lived a full day’s worth already.

The pace and obligations at work are picking up, heading for a crunch. Admittedly, I’ve been coasting a bit, working best, I’ve found after 42 years and counting in the workforce, with do or die deadlines. Well, it’s that time.

Meanwhile, the home front is typically turbulent. Our L.A. daughter is finally (after more than two weeks) home from a hospitalization caused by her continuing battle with Crohn’s disease, a devastating intestinal condition that I have underlying guilt about since it seems to be inherited from my side of the family.

Our youngest, who himself was hospitalized the same day and released two days later, has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, for which, thankfully, there is effective pharmaceutical treatment; unlike, we’ve all been dismayed to learn, my daughter’s Crohn’s; very serious surgery is going to have to be her relief. And, guess what? MUDGElet No. 3’s bipolar disorder? Also from yr (justifiably) humble svt‘s side of the family tree. Oy, the guilt!

He is living here with us (unable as yet to support himself while he recovers from his breakdown), which is a disconcerting alteration in Mrs. MUDGE‘s and my reasonably comfortable empty nest routine, as well as a financial, and emotional burden.

And, speaking of routine, our middle son, and his wife, and our granddog, greet us every day around 6:00am, as their nearby condominium’s one and only bathroom is being rehabbed, and showers before work, for the humans — I do draw the line! — are necessary.

And my dear mother continues to battle her dread disease, acute myeloid leukemia; still living on her own at age 81, but lately causing her family increased anxiety after taking a fall last weekend. That black eye at the top of this post doesn’t do justice to hers.

So that’s why Faithful Reader has seen more than a few of our recycled posts over the past several weeks.

Not for lack of material, however, as the election circus goes into its final stage.

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mm487: A Truman for our times?

September 2, 2008
© Oleksii Sergieiev | Dreamstime.com

© Oleksii Sergieiev | Dreamstime.com

This one got me.

But, in recognition of Republican week, I don’t have a problem with having the infamous George III smirk atop this post.

I might have a problem with the thesis, but it’s worth exposing, since it represents a point of view that had never occurred to yr (justifiably) humble svt.

prospectuk

A Truman for our times

The received wisdom is that President Bush has been a foreign policy disaster, and that America is threatened by the rise of Asia. Both claims are wrong—Bush has successfully rolled back jihadism, and the US will benefit from Asian growth

August 2008 | 149 » Cover story » A Truman for our times | Edward Luttwak

That George W Bush’s foreign policy has been a total failure is now taken for granted by so many people that one usually hears it stated as a simple truth that need not be argued at all.

It has happened before. When President Harry S Truman said in March 1952 that he would not seek re-election, most Americans could agree on one thing: that his foreign policy had been a catastrophic failure. In Korea his indecision had invited aggression, and then his incompetence had cost the lives of some 54,000 Americans and millions of Korean civilians in just two years of fighting—on both counts more than ten times the number of casualties in Iraq. Right-wingers reviled Truman for having lost China to communism and for his dismissal of the great General Douglas MacArthur, who had wanted to win it back, with nukes if necessary. Liberals despised Truman because he was the failed shopkeeper who had usurped the patrician Franklin Roosevelt’s White House—liberals always were the snobs of US politics.

Abroad, Truman was widely hated too. The communist accusation that he had waged “bacteriological warfare” to kill Korean children and destroy Chinese crops was believed by many, and was fully endorsed by a 669-page report issued by a commission chaired by the eminent British biochemist Joseph Needham. Even more people believed that Truman was guilty of having started the cold war by trying to intimidate our brave Soviet ally, or at least that he and Stalin were equally to blame.

How did this same Harry Truman come to be universally viewed as a great president, especially for his foreign policy? It is all a question of time perspectives: the Korean war is half forgotten, while everyone now knows that Truman’s strategy of containment was successful and finally ended with the almost peaceful disintegration of the Soviet empire.

For Bush to be recognised as a great president in the Truman mould, the Iraq war too must become half forgotten. The swift removal of the murderous Saddam Hussein was followed by years of expensive violence instead of the instant democracy that had been promised. To confuse the imam-ridden Iraqis with Danes or Norwegians under German occupation, ready to return to democracy as soon as they were liberated, was not a forgivable error: before invading a country, a US president is supposed to know if it is in the middle east or Scandinavia.

Yet the costly Iraq war must also be recognised as a sideshow in the Bush global counteroffensive against Islamist militancy, just as the far more costly Korean war was a sideshow to global cold war containment. For the Bush response to 9/11 was precisely that—a global attack against the ideology of Islamic militancy. While anti-terrorist operations have been successful here and there in a patchy way, and the fate of Afghanistan remains in doubt, the far more important ideological war has ended with a spectacular global victory for President Bush.

First thing you have to do when confronting an essay such as this is to consider the source.

Edward Luttwak is one controversial bloke. Even Luttwak’s biography in Wikipedia is controversial.

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