Sunday, October 26, 2008


I recently stumbled into a conversation between three women friends,
Meg, Kaia and Sherry, who had decided that patriotism should be replaced
with matriotism, thus resulting in a better world.

Immediately realizing the delicate nature of my position in this
discussion, my brain raced for the correct words (as much as a
wine-soaked male brain can race). "That sounds like a good idea," I
mumbled, "but wouldn't natriotism be even better?"

Whew! Nice save, for once.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


The McPalin Campain, sensing imminent defeat at the hands of the Obama forces, has resorted to the most vile name calling and subliminal hate mongering that we've seen since, well, since the same people ran the G.W. Bush campaigns. These labels are pronounced from the podia by McPalin surrogates and by the candidates themselves. The messages: Obama is a terrorist (and a Muslim one, at that); Obama is a socialist; Obama is a communist. Media journalists interview McPalin supporters at campaign rallies and air statements such as "he's an Arab," "he's a socialist," "he's a communist," etc.

What's really going on here?

is defined by the U.S. Department of Defense as "the unlawful use of -- or threatened use of -- force or violence against individuals or property to coerce or intimidate governments or societies, often to achieve political, religious, or ideological objectives."

William Ayers was a terrorist, based on the above definition, no question. But what about abortion clinic bombers, violent protesters, and others who do similar things? According to Governor Palin - well, watch the interview yourself. And let's not forget the U.S. invasion of Iraq - "Shock and Awe" - in which the U.S. government invaded a sovereign nation without provocation and killed tens of thousands of Iraqis, including civilians. Terrorism?

Socialism is defined as any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.

So let's get this straight - Barack Obama is a socialist because he advocates increasing income taxes for wealthy folks, thereby advocating collective or government ownership of the means of production? Huh? Um, don't look now, but the U.S. government has just taken over - as majority shareholders - some of the largest insurance companies and financial institutions in this country. Both McCain and Obama voted for these takeovers (disguised as bailouts): they're both socialists, I guess.

Communism is defined as
a system of government in which the state plans and controls the economy and a single, often authoritarian party holds power, claiming to make progress toward a higher social order in which all goods are equally shared by the people.

See above re: socialism. And this is what the Bush administration has been all about, except that the definition has to be tinkered with a bit to read: "...all goods are equally shared by the (rich) people." Where is McPalin on this one? Lock step with the Bushfolk.

Here's another term of interest in this discussion: fascism.

Fascism is defined as a political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.

Are we there yet? A close look at the past eight years under Cheney-Bush, using the above definition, leads one dangerously close to concluding that we've been on the road to fascism. One need only listen to the speeches of Lord Darth Cheney, look at the domestic spying authorized by Bush, the use of kidnappings and secret prisons, the suspension of habeus corpus, the labeling of anyone who does not meet the administration's definition of "patriotism" as a traitor, to get chills of a bleak future for America. And now we have McCain and Palin stirring up fears of race, Arabs, Muslims, socialists and commies....

A McPalin administration is a chilling prospect for America, a prospect founded on fear and suspicion. An Obama administration offers a prospect of hope for changing the direction of this country towards the ideal that we all believe in. Which do you choose?

I choose the Obama path, and if this makes me a terrorist, socialist, communist - well, so be it.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008


The myriad pundits and bloviators in the media frequently talk about the crisis on Wall Street as it is felt on Main Street. Well, what is the reality on Main Street? To answer this question, readmyopinion's roving reporter, George Poppet, talks to people on Main Street.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


If you have not heard Secretary Powell's endorsement, watch and listen to it here. This is perhaps the most powerful and comprehensive endorsement of Barack Obama yet, from a prominent Republican. What this represents is that thinking people, from all parts of the political spectrum, realize that a President Obama is our best hope and chance to put America back on track. Included in Secretary Powell's endorsement are critically important statements that someone with authority and credibility has needed to say for a long time about the Muslim-bashing going on in the McCain campaign.

Colin Powell says it all.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Son Eric's book, Marketing that Matters, now available in Chinese!


In my quest for eternal blogging, I am attempting to blog from my
mobile device (a HP iPAQ). If you are reading this post, it means I
figured it out. The next trick will be to do this from China, where I
hope to have wi-fi access from some locations. Will the Great
(fire)Wall of China allow this?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Uncle Lou coined the term "crap merchants," and used it judiciously for certain types of companies and people. The term sprang immediately to mind when this economic collapse really kicked in a few weeks ago and the politicians started arguing about what to do. And oh what a scene it was and is - lots of chickens running around with their heads cut off (which I guess is the same as a bunch of politicians running around with their hair on fire).

700,000,000,000. Seven hundred billion. Wow! Dollars. $$$

Where does all this money come from? Will it really get paid back? Is this really going to fix anything? Questions.....questions.....

People in this country are rightly angry and nervous - even frightened - about the economy falling to pieces around us. What galls many of us the most is the fact that many of the executives in charge of the failing companies have been taking home huge salaries and benefits, even as their empires collapsed. Will these people - the Crap Merchants - be punished or held accountable for the results of their unbridled greed? We'll see.

In the meantime, many Americans are or will be suffering as their retirement funds shrink, their homes are foreclosed, their jobs disappear, and the cost of living continues to escalate in the face of shrinking real income. The growing anger of the American public will surely be felt at the polls on November 4, and let's hope the result makes a difference.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


I've thought a lot about this post, and I've probably written pieces of it before. But what I want to do here is try to summarize these thoughts into something that is at least somewhat coherent. It could be long, but probably not long enough.

I think historians will see 2008 as a "perfect storm" of events in the history of the United States of America; game-changing events in the course of world history. Much has already been written along these lines by authors much more knowledgeable than I; however, this blog is my outlet to the world, my one chance to put something out there that a few people - or many - might read, thus putting my marker onto the pages of history. So here goes.

I've often said that the United States is a post-developed nation. George H.W. Bush said, when the Soviet Union collapsed, that the United States had "won the Cold War." We didn't win that geopolitical ideological conflict - the Soviet Union lost first. I believe that the collapse of the Soviet Union was the beginning of the decline of America from the world's remaining Superpower to where we are today, a crumbling power with an uncertain and uncharted future.

What are the symptoms of this decline? They are many, and I'll list only a few that quickly come to mind:
  • erosion of individual freedoms
  • a straying from the rule of law towards authoritarianism
  • outright violations of the Constitution by elected officials
  • a decline of morality - both institutional and individual
  • a decline in civility between people and between nations
  • a marked crumbling of infrastructure: bridges, roads, water and sewage treatment, etc.
  • an over-reliance on and over-extension of military resources
  • an inability to respond to and rebuild from natural disasters.
What are the causes of this decline? Again, there are many - here are a few:
  • greed, of the pure unbridled kind
  • corruption
  • hate, particularly of "the other:" immigrants, women, people of color, homosexuals
  • fear, and the use of fear by people in positions of power as a means towards their ends
  • meanness and rudeness
  • resistance to change, and unthinking clinging to the old ways
The above causes perhaps more aptly are attributed to individuals, but I think they inform the actions of our public and private sector leaders and the institutions they control. One need only examine the recent directions of our laws and courts, our foreign policies, the measures implemented in the guise of "security," the misguided and often patently illegal actions of government to understand the new directions this country has taken. Our government spends colossal sums of money on unwinable wars under the battle cry of "we won't surrender; we will fight on to victory." And "victory" is both undefined and unattainable under the present world view of our government.

The United States of America is a nation adrift in a sea of change. We are barely a united country - just look at the red and blue map of the 50 States showing the presidential voting pattern. We are increasingly a nation of camps; red and blue, left and right, native and immigrant, elite and "Joe six-pack." We are leaderless in a time when leadership is the only thing that will save us.

The world around us, the sea of nations and changing cultures upon which we are adrift has tides and currents and swells and tsunamis of change that we must understand if we have any chance of charting a new course towards the future. The present contest between political parties, being fought by John McCain and Barack Obama, represents a game-changing decision by Americans. Obama represents the recognition that America is adrift in uncharted seas; McCain represents the inability and refusal to recognize that things are different now, and we only need to maintain a steady hand on the tiller to stay the course on which we've been.

This is not to say that the election of one man over the other will change the game. The reality is that the American consciousness needs to change from a pre-twenty first century view to a view of the future. It's the old business mantra of looking through the windshield at the road ahead, instead of watching where we've been in the rear view mirror. As citizens of the United States, we need to understand, to truly internalize, that things are different now, the game has changed, the rules have been rewritten, and we are no longer guaranteed the spot at the top.

What is the United States of America of the future? Will we be a relic of global power, still trying to rule the world by throwing our military might around? Or will we be a new kind of super power in a new world? We Americans are a remarkable and strong-willed people. Our diversity strengthens us. Our founding principles underly our basic goodness, even though we often stray from it. Many, if not most people in the rest of the world want to be more like us than they want to be less like us. We have to lead by example, not brutal strength.

I'm not hopeful about this kind of paradigm shift change happening. I do think that the only slim chance we have is if a new national leadership emerges that openly and honestly confronts the state of the world and our role in it. We need a national discussion about who we are and who we want to be, a discussion that permeates the every day lives of every citizen, of all ages. And we need leaders who can articulate the terms of the discussion, draw out the threads of reason, and build the framework of a new America. It's a tall order - is anyone willing to take it on?

If you read this far - thanks. Comments are welcome.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Nee hao, dear readers.

I went downtown a couple of days ago to do a little shopping for our pending trip to China. I bought a new pair of blue jeans and a pair of light weight cotton pants. Then I browsed three stores for some new, lightweight walking shoes. I must have been in my typical shopping haze (I hate shopping for clothes), because it was in the third store that I realized what all the clothes and shoe labels had been telling me - almost everything I was looking at is Made in China. "Duh! Why don't I just shop for these items in China?" I realize, of course, that I might not see the exact same items in China that I see here in America, a lot of items might be made just for the export market. But I'm guessing that I'll see a huge selection of clothing and shoes at prices that will amaze. (In fact, we'll be in Suzhou at the beginning of the trip, where there is a Wallmart, and several Starbucks within a few blocks of where we'll be staying.)

This trip will last about 3 weeks. A large advantage we'll have is the spare bedroom and bathroom at the home of our American cousins who are living in Suzhou, the Garden City near Shanghai. We'll stay there for the first few days of the trip to get acclimated, learn a few things about traveling in China and some cultural customs, get familiar with the money and a few helpful words, etc.

Then we'll start a journey that will have us for a few days each in Beijing, Xian, a Yangtze River cruise, and back to Suzhou. We have tour guides lined up for Beijing and Xian; not group tours, but a local guide who will take us to the places we want to go and be our informed travel companion.

I intend to post to the blog when I can during the trip. I'll have my trusty Wi-Fi enabled pocket pc, and if it works, and I can get through what our cousin calls "the Great Firewall of China," you'll see some posts from the road. I'm assuming that I can post from our cousins' computer in Suzhou.

For those of you of a certain age, I'm looking at this trip as a Bob Hope - Bing Crosby "Road to China" trip. I'll have a pocket-size camcorder with me (is everything I own pocket-size?), so look for a feature length film (maybe a musical?) soon after we return.


Thursday, October 09, 2008


Blogger's note: O.K., I have to admit that I've had a lot of fun making fun of Senator Jon McCain and Governor Sarah Palin. I think that the Republican ticket for President and Vice-President of the United States is, well, bizarre. But I need to stop the joking and get serious, because this truly is the most important election in the United States in my life of 6+ decades. So from now until the election, when I write about the election, I'll focus on the issues.

But first, there is something I have to say - and this is serious. In the past few days, I've heard and read news reports about the behavior of some people at Palin rallies. People have shouted out remarks about Senator Obama being a terrorist, about him being treasonous, have shouted racist slurs, and have even reportedly shouted out "kill him," perhaps in reference to the former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers. The fact that Sarah Palin did not stop her speeches and chastise these hecklers, the fact that the McCain-Palin campaign has not denounced such behavior, the fact that the campaign appears to be purposefully whipping up these emotions in crowds at their rallies - these facts are reason enough for all Americans to reject the idea of McCain and Palin in the White House.

In these final days of the campaign, as the economy of the United States free-falls to who-knows-where; as U.S. military commanders in Afghanistan increasingly say that the war there is being lost; as more Americans lose their jobs, their homes, and their retirement funds; we voters need to pay attention to one thing - the issues. Where does each candidate stand on the critical issues of our country and the rest of the world? Ask that question. Look for the answers. Make an informed decision.

And then VOTE.

Friday, October 03, 2008


Gimme a G, Please!!
Janitors at Washington University in St. Louis spent all night after the Biden-Palin debate sweeping up thousands of letter g's dropped by Governor Palin.

Genealogist Reviews Alaska Governor's Name
A leading genealogist has determined that following their relocation to Wasilla, Alaska the Governor's parents changed the family name from Paling to Palin in order to better fit into the Alaskan "hockey mom" dialect.

Subsets of GOP Base Express Displeasure at Exclusion
Several subgroups of the traditional GOP base have expressed their dismay at being left out of Governor Palin's speeches. Republican wine drinkers, or "Jon 750ml" feel slighted by Palin's repeated references to "Joe Sixpack." And soccer dads are upset by the V.P. candidate only referring to hockey moms; "Golly gosh" one soccer dad said. "we soccer dads are helpin' McCain in winnin' this election, too!"

Medical Experts at Loss to Explain Palin Twitch
Medical experts who have reviewed the medical records of Governor Sarah Palin cannot find any pathological reason for her annoying eye twitch evident during the recent Biden-Palin debate. "There does not seem to be any neurological cause" stated one of the experts. Some experts hypothesized that the Governor might have had an irritant in her left eye - perhaps a small piece of mascara. The cause of the twitch remains a mystery.


John McCain is a maverick. Sarah Palin is a maverick. Palin told us this at least a dozen or more times - again - during the V.P. debate last night. So what the heck is a maverick, anyway?

Well luckily I have access to the internet, and I can look up the definitions of words.


Definition 1. "An unbranded range animal, especially a calf that has become separated from its mother, traditionally considered the property of the first person who brands it." politically speaking, John McCain and Sarah Palin don't have a political family, and can basically be claimed and branded by the first "person" (or special interest?) who lays claim on them. A recent in-depth article in the New York Times reveals the very close ties between the gambling industry and John McCain and his staff - so I guess we'd expect to see the brands of various casinos on Senator McCains skin (on top of the old Savings and Loan and various lobbying firms' brands) if we could peek under the clothing.

Definition 2. " One that refuses to abide by the dictates of or resists adherence to a group; a dissenter."

O.K. - so John and Sarah are dissenters who refuse to do what the group wants. Do we want a pair of Executives in the White House who refuse to go along with what the American voters want? Does this mean that every bill passed by Congress will be vetoed by a President McCain because he will refuse to go along with Congress?

Definition 3. " Being independent in thought and action or exhibiting such independence."

This perhaps is what McPalin mean when they define themselves as mavericks. But so far in this campaign, we haven't seen anything independent in thought and action from this duo - in fact, what we've consistently heard is that they will continue the policies of President George Duya Bush. So much for independent thought.

So yippee-yi-ki-yaaa y'all, I suggest we let McCain and Palin continue to be mavericks and put them out to pasture where they can roam independently, looking for more brands they can accumulate. Meanwhile, Obama-Biden will be working hard to bring this country back from the brink.