Thursday, February 21, 2008

Dumbing of America?

There was an interesting article in the Washington Post a co-worker forwarded to me. It makes the argument that Americans are losing out by not reading more.

Of course the Washington Post being a print media the author looks at the decline of reading printed materials as a sign of declining intellectualism. But if reading as measured by books, newspapers, and magazines is an indication of such an erosion, why are there still a plethora of books being published? Someone has time to research and write these things even if publishing books and selling books are two separate matters.

The author did offer this “nugget:”

This is the last subject that any candidate would dare raise on the long and
winding road to the White
. It is almost impossible to talk about the manner in which public
ignorance contributes to grave national problems without being labeled an
"elitist," one of the most powerful pejoratives that can be applied to anyone
aspiring to high office. Instead, our politicians repeatedly assure Americans
that they are just "folks," a patronizing term that you will search for in vain
in important presidential speeches before 1980. (Just imagine: "We here highly
resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain . . . and that government of
the folks, by the folks, for the folks, shall not perish from the earth.") Such
exaltations of ordinariness are among the distinguishing traits of
anti-intellectualism in any era.

I wonder why the year 1980 was chosen? Seems somewhat arbitrary. I scanned the article again, thinking maybe the author contrasted 1980 with 2000 to get a 20-year gauge. Nope, the author contrasts 1982 with “two decades later” (can I assume 2002? Or are the figures more recent than that?).

I might have chosen 1976 for a president that sought to be “one” with the common people. President Carter often wore sweaters sans tie in radio and informal TV talks (he sought to recreate the “fireside chats” on TV as FDR did on radio). He sought to portray himself and his presidency as folksy, homey, and down-to-earth.

President Reagan, meanwhile, elected in 1980, sought to elevate the office once again. He dress up for formal dinners and sought to bring dignity and class back to the Executive Mansion.

What is interesting is a contrast in presidencies in World War II and today. Franklin Roosevelt in his fire side chats urged Americans to get out their maps as he traced the battle plans and supply lines in the Pacific. He felt if the American people understood the enormity of the scope of battle, they would be willing to accept bad news.

I doubt that would happen today. Reagan often bypassed the media and spoke in such terms to the American people. But few other presidents have.

And many Democrats today offer sound bites and fan the flames of bad news to stoke the American people to hate the Iraq War, maybe even Afghanistan (but not a peep about Bill Clinton’s war still going on in Kosovo). And herein lies a dilemma. If Americans actually did read at the rate they allegedly did in 1982, the Democrats lose in a landslide.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I was wondering...

If healthcare is nationalized, will the medical professionals be considered government employees and the hospitals government entities? Can the government be sued? In essence, will lawyers be able to sue doctors and hospitals? If not, why would a lawyer like Hillary (or John "Breck-girl" Edwards) want to support such a measure?

I was struck by the Obama ad I heard recently--he turned down a Wall Street job to work with laid-off workers? I'm sorry, but wouldn't a Wall Street job have helped him understand basic business and commerce and how things works and capital is used to create jobs? Bad choice, in my book.

Last week in interviews Barack and Hillary both spoke of "green collar" jobs to help the inner city. Say what? Sounds like an expansion of the shell game we have now, where any public project must employ a certain number of contracts with women- and minority-owned firms. Has THAT policy had any effect on inner city unemployment? Let the free market work out the energy and ecological policies. We see even GE has jumped into the "green" movement because of popular opinion absent any government program (well, US gov't program anyway). It was the free market that chose gasoline engines over electric and steam in the early 1900's.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Another Daytona win for Dodge

In fact, six of the top eight finishers drove a Dodge.

The other two? Joe Gibbs Toyotas.

A changing of the NASCAR guard? And if I drive a Jeep instead of a Dodge now, can I still cheer for Dodges?

Sadly, Rockwell Automation won't sponsor a Nationwide (nee Busch) series car. My son will miss watching for "grandpa's car" on Saturdays. Grandpa Al worked at Rockwell (nee Allen-Bradley) before he retired.

Spring Training starts....

Catchers and pitchers report, then the regular players. Soon, Spring training games, then the regular season.

Summer must be coming soon! Not too soon here in Milwaukee...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

About Corporate Profits...

The debate on corporate profits needs another angle.

Check your 401(k). What investments does it have? It will likely take some digging because of mutual funds and what-not that make it difficult to determine what exactly you have invested potential retirement monies in.

But I'm guessing stocks are a part of the mix.

And stocks benefit us with dividends (when the company is profitable and they offer dividends), higher stock prices (which helps the value of our 401(k)'s go up), and jobs if there is enough profit and volume to take that risk.

Taxing profits of a corporation affects workers, 401(k) plans, mutual funds, and stock investors. That's you and me, buddy. Nancy Pelosi is in effect taking money away from you and I and gussying it up with flowery class-envy/class-warfare rhetoric.

And she must be stopped.

Besides, on a gallon of gas, the federal government and the state government "profit" more than the oil companies do. In Wiscoinsin right now is a bill pending that would mandate ethanol use in our gasoline--beginning at 10% and going up to 25% over the years. Now, should the ethanol companies start making obsene profits (per mandate if the ethanol bill goes through) and we pay higher fuel prices, will the government turn on the ethanol makers as well?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Well, today the Potomac River area primaries for Democrats are being staged. This appelation comes because the three areas holding primaries are Maryland, Virginia, and DC--all sharing the Potomac River. Thus they are being called the "Potomac primaries." I prefer to call the area "Potomia."

Let's hope the results don't make this the "ptomaine primaries"...

Evolution, Christianity, and Islam

A reader early in this blog's history posted this intriguing thought:

Have enjoyed your posts on Liftalk. Now your blog promises to be a good read also. Not directly related to the Ten Commandment issue but just today I was reading about the continuing debate over whether to teach evolution or not. The author (Chuck Colson?) pointed out that Muslims would wish to teach a creation. People wanting to teach evolution were careful not to offend Muslims but if it was a Christian that wanted to teach creation then it doesn't matter what is said about them.
I wonder, since Christians are left with few rights in this nation, what would the government do if Muslims protested and insisted that their children be taught only creationism in the public schools? Our government seems to bend over backward for any other minority, as well as capitulate when Muslims protest anything in this country. This would make an interesting debate if it ever came up.

A Toast with Champaigne

I'm sure several football journalist/pundits and a bulk of New England might get mad at me.

But I'm raising a glass of champaigne in honor of the one and only perfect season in NFL history. Yes, my beloved Marine Mammals from Miami, the Aquamarine & Tangerine. You earned the right to be proud, '72 Dolphins!

OK, so they didn't play a "tough" schedule. A team still has to play the teams on the schedule. The fact remains, NO ONE ELSE HAS EVER ACCOMPLISHED THIS FEAT!

Miami also performed this feat with the starting quarterback injured for two-thirds of the year. Yes, that's right, the starting QB was out for most of the year. No other team has gone unbeaten even with a starting QB starting every game.

Plus they played the conference championship game in Pittsburgh, NOT Miami. Funny rule about the playoffs and hosting back then.

The Pimping of Chelsea Clinton

Chelsea Clinton: Funny how when Bill was in office the Clintons said she was off-limits to the press. Try getting the same treatment for the Bush girls. But now mommy is in trouble and suddenly they pimp Chelsea to help her old lady (and not very well, I might add. It seems like she's reciting a script and lacks emotion and/or enthusiasm). Then Hill gets mad when allegedly someone from MSNBC calls her out on it. Yes, this is a HilBilly campaign!

Funny thing about ethanol ...

Funny thing about ethanol is that it wrecks outboard motors, snowmobiles, chainsaws, snowblowers, lawn mowers, et. al.

Then I remembered that it is the liberals who want ethanol. And liberals don't care about motor boats, snowmobiles, lawn mowers, and snowblowers. To them these are playthings of "the rich" who need to have compassion on "the poor" and besides "the rich" shouldn't be harming our environment with these things anyway.

And the Wisconsin ethanol mandate would help the "poor" farmers. Anyone ever thought they'd see the day Archer-Daniels-Midland would be considered a "poor" farmer?

Michelle Barack Visits Ma Ficher's in BrewTown

TUESDAY, Feb. 12, 2008, 3:24 p.m.By Erica Perez
Michelle Obama talks on work-life balance
Michelle Obama chatted this afternoon with a handful of women about the work-life balance at the east side diner Ma Fischer's, emphasizing her husband's focus on closing the gap between the "lucky few" and "ordinary people."Her stop was one of a round of visits here today with one week left until Wisconsin's presidential primaries. She will head to Sheboygan and De Pere later this afternoon.Obama spent an hour listening to stories at a table with six hand-picked women. Most were active supporters of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, but one was undecided until today. They are all working women with families who are friends and family members of campaign volunteers, spokeswoman Katherine Lyons said.Obama shared her own struggles with balancing children and work and, now, campaigning."I can barely sleep at night," she said. "I'm still worrying about whether I'm doing it right."Laura Manriquez, a local community organizer, told Obama how she had once been on welfare but had since managed to become a nurse at an assisted-living facility, all while raising six children between the ages of 11 and 23 on her own. "As a single mom, I can appreciate everything you're saying," Manriquez said.The women talked about how tough it is to strike a balance between work and family, including the difficulty of affording quality child care, the high cost of feeding kids healthy foods and the challenge of being a single mom and sole provider.Obama, in turn, talked about personal financial difficulties, saying it would be interesting to see a president who finally paid off his educational debt in the past three years because he worked in community organizing. "Our (combined student) loan payments were more than our mortgage on our first condominium," Obama said. "We were paying that debt off until Barack wrote two bestselling books..."It was like, how are you going to run for president? We're broke!" she said, getting a laugh from the women at the table.Heidi Maistelman, who lives in Glendale and is a music teacher at Milwaukee Jewish Day School, said she was chosen for the panel because she was undecided. Now, though, "I think the scale has been tipped," she said."I love the idea of a woman being in a position of power, but I think we need a fresh face, a fresh vision," she said. Barack Obama is scheduled to hold a rally tonight at the Kohl Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. On Wednesday, he has plans to visit Janesville, Waukesha and Racine.

It's always nice to see your town as the epicenter of a presidential race. Well, in this case it's the Democratic primary. Add to that the fact I've eaten a dozen or so meals at Ma Fisher's, well, you know how that goes.

It seems Mrs. Obama energized the "hand-picked" group of six. How convenient!

She also spoke of paying off school debt because Barack was in "community organizing." I'll take that to mean he worked mainly volunteer or low-paying beauracratic positions. Many of us don't have that luxury.

ANother luxury many of us don't have is the bail-out from a best-selling book. In America once you are a celebrity you can get your work published much easier than if you are an unknown writer. It doesn't matter how good a writer you are. Again, as a writer it's a craft I work at but I cannot pay off my student loans with the good graces Barack received.

Is that why Barack believes the "haves" should be robbed to give to "have-nots?"