Saturday, April 5, 2008

Blog #30 Anyone you know in the 81%

The NYTimes/CBS poll posted 4-4-08 showed that 81% of the American people believe that “things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track,” up from 69 percent a year ago and 35 percent in early 2002. However, what that poll didn’t deal with is what in the world do you do with a bunch of leaders who freely admit that they pay not one whit of attention to any poll that goes against their preconceived mindset. Anyone see any resemblance to our present leadership? Nevertheless the story by David Leonhardt and Marjorie Connelly went on the list many interesting facts that the survey discovered, even if those who should read it won’t.

“A majority of nearly every demographic and political group — Democrats and Republicans, men and women, residents of cities and rural areas, college graduates and those who finished only high school — say the United States is headed in the wrong direction. Seventy-eight percent of respondents said the country was worse off than five years ago; just 4 percent said it was better off.” Think about that for a moment. How did we as a country let ourselves get into such a mess? By standing quietly by while a right-wing leaning Supreme Court anointed George Bush president in 2000 even though Al Gore had won the popular vote, and would likely have won Florida if the Court had allowed the recount to continue onto the end, that's how. Bush’s lead was slipping away minute by minute when the Court ordered the count stopped. And then four years later we reelected this Vietnam slacker over a bona fide Vietnam war hero on the strength of lies and defamation on the part of rabid, right wing SwiftBoat truthmanglers. More from the report:

“The dissatisfaction is especially striking because public opinion usually hits its low point only in the months and years after an economic downturn, not at the beginning of one. Today, however, Americans report being deeply worried about the country even though many say their own personal finances are still in fairly good shape.” Are we turning into a nation of soothsayers? Isn’t it a shame we didn’t realize what was down the road back in 2004 when we could have done something about it?

“Only 21 percent of respondents said the overall economy was in good condition, the lowest such number since late 1992, when the recession that began in the summer of 1990 had already been over for more than a year. In the latest poll, two in three people said they believed the economy was in recession today. Only 21 percent of respondents said the overall economy was in good condition, the lowest such number since late 1992, when the recession that began in the summer of 1990 had already been over for more than a year. In the latest poll, two in three people said they believed the economy was in recession today.” Only two in three? What’s the third one smoking?

“The unhappiness presents clear risks for Republicans in this year’s elections, given the continued unpopularity of President Bush. Twenty-eight percent of respondents said they approved of the job he was doing, a number that has barely changed since last summer. But Democrats, who have controlled the House and Senate since last year, also face the risk that unhappy voters will punish Congressional incumbents.” If we the people hold it against Democrats who tried everything they could think of the curb the Bush administration, but were met with stubbornness and vetoes at every turn, then we will get what we deserve. Surely we are smart enough to lay blame where it belongs. Perhaps it had been wrong for Democrats to put expectations so high but who could have predicted that Bush would be so entrenched? Who knew that our erstwhile president thinks of himself not as president, but as omnipotent ruler?
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Why is it that once they get in power so many of our presidents focus their attention on foreign lands, rather than work in the interests of the people in this country who elected them to office? Unfortunately this fault can be found not only in the Republican Bush/Cheney administration, although they could be faulted for not learning from the mistakes of previous administrations. But the same could be said of both the Truman and Eisenhower administrations over Korea and the Johnson and Nixon administrations over Vietnam. Under both governments American soldiers were sent to far off lands among a people of a different race, to fight for a cause they knew nothing about. And all because of a myth current at the time that if the government we supported fell it would cause a domino effect, and all the regimes in the region would fall. Even the Kennedy administration bought onto this fantasy, although shortly before his assassination JFK did disclose to some of his close advisors that he intended to pull American advisers out of Vietnam. Within five days of ascending to power after Kennedy’s assassination, Johnson changed the course of our South Vietnam mission from one of American military advisers to that of active combat, and in order to rally the country to support our presence there the Navy staged the Gulf of Tonkin incident, and just like that our troops were committed to full combat.

(Wikipedia reports the following: In 2005, it was revealed in an official NSA declassified report that the Maddox first fired warning shots on the August 2 incident and that there may have been no North Vietnamese boats at the August 4 incident. The report said it is not simply that there is a different story as to what happened; it is that no attack happened that night. [...] In truth, Hanoi's navy was engaged in nothing that night but the salvage of two of the boats damaged on 2 August.) The Congress later rescinded the Tonkin Bay resolution, but of course by then it was a day late and quite a few dollars short.

Although by the end of his term Johnson realized the futility of our involvement and attempted to bring about peace talks, the incoming president Richard Nixon sent Henry Kissinger to South Vietnam to encourage them not to capitulate, but to argue over the shape of the table and do whatever else to subvert the talks, assuring them that when the Republicans came to power they would continue US support for the South. And so the war went on until our effort finally collapsed completely and we were forced to pull our forces out. For our trouble the city of Saigon (which had been the capitol of South Vietnam) was renamed Ho Chi Minh city in honor of the North Vietnamese leader who had worked tirelessly for the freedom of his people, and who even president Eisenhower later admitted would have received 80% of the South Vietnamese vote if we had allowed the elections called for to be held.

Fortunately, although Republican nominee John McCain is a “more of the same” kind of guy, both Democratic contenders promise to pull out our troops with all possible haste, and promise to do their very best to clean up the mess left behind by Bush/Cheney. And so it is primarily a question of which Democratic candidate you feel would do a better job. Although I believe Hillary Clinton would better serve, I would not for an instant hesitate to support Obama should he end up being the nominee. And I suspect that virtually all rational Democrats will do the same, no matter who comes out on top. I ask you, what Democrat in his or her right mind would support continuing the status quo, with its unending occupation of Iraq, by voting for John McCain? That is a myth of division purported by desperate Republicans who refuse to read the writing on the wall, and who are speculating on hope and dreams. And there is one former Democrat in that corner also, you know who you are.
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One of the more intriguing posts of the past week was made by Ariana Huffington, co-founder of the Huffington Post, which many are pointing to these days as the first example of a truly web-based news media. On March 30, she wrote of polls which favor McCain’s handling of Iraq over Obama or Clinton’ handling of it. She reported that Gallup had him favored over either Democrat by 14 points, and the L.A.Times had a poll favoring McCain over Clinton by 14 points, Obama by 13. Why, she asks, is this anomaly happening, when the polls also show that two thirds of America think the war is a mistake? Not to mention the cost of the war bringing America to it’s financial knees. Huffington points to the dashed hopes of Democrats ending the war in 2006 as a part of the reason. Then she went on to write:

“Enter Darcy Burner, a Democratic challenger who is running for Congress in Washington state. Working with national security experts and retired military generals such as Major Gen. Paul Eaton, the officer in charge of training the Iraqi military immediately after the invasion in 2003 and 2004, she developed "A Responsible Plan to End the War," a comprehensive approach to Iraq based on legislation already introduced in Congress.

“The 20-page plan (which you can read in its entirety at:, doesn't just lay out how to end the war – it also addresses the institutional failures that led to the tragic invasion and occupation of Iraq. This includes rebuilding the U.S. diplomatic apparatus, banning the use of armed military contractors like Blackwater, banning torture, promoting government transparency, and restoring accountability through the checks and balances laid out in the Constitution.

“As of today, 45 Democratic challengers have signed on to the plan – including 41 running for the House and 4 running for the Senate. Among the candidates who helped Burner launch the project are Chellie Pingree, running in Maine's First Congressional District; Donna Edwards, running in Maryland's Fourth Congressional District; Tom Perriello, running in Virginia's Fifth Congressional District; and Eric Massa, running in New York's Twenty-ninth Congressional District.
The Huffington Post ran the following YouTube video where various people supporting the initiative talk about it. Because it seems to us to be a very responsible movement heading in exactly the right direction we are happy to include it here. We tried to embed it, but without any luck. However you can view it at this link:

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Opposition to any kind of national health plan has long been the mantra of the American Medical Association and its member doctors. But that reality may be changing. In a story dated March 31, 2008 the news organization Reuters reported that a majority of U.S. doctors now favor switching to a national health care plan, and less than a third oppose the plan. The survey suggested that opinions have changed substantially since the last survey in 2002, as the country debates the need for serious changes to the nation’s health care system. According to the Reuters article: “Of more than 2,000 doctors surveyed, 59 percent said they support legislation to establish a national health insurance program, while 32 percent said they opposed it, researchers reported in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. The 2002 survey found that 49 percent of physicians supported national health insurance and 40 percent opposed it.

"Many claim to speak for physicians and represent their views. We asked doctors directly and found that, contrary to conventional wisdom, most doctors support national health insurance," said Dr. Aaron Carroll of the Indiana University School of Medicine, who led the study.

"As doctors, we find that our patients suffer because of increasing deductibles, co-payments, and restrictions on patient care," said Dr. Ronald Ackermann, who worked on the study with Carroll. "More and more, physicians are turning to national health insurance as a solution to this problem."

“The United States has no single organized health care system. Instead it relies on a patchwork of insurance provided by the federal and state governments to the elderly, poor, disabled and to some children, along with private insurance and employer-sponsored plans.

“Many other countries have national plans, including Britain, France and Canada, and several studies have shown the United States spends more per capita on health care, without achieving better results for patients. An estimated 47 million people have no insurance coverage at all, meaning they must pay out of their pockets for health care or skip it.

“Contenders in the election for president in November all have proposed various changes, but none of the major party candidates has called for a fully national health plan. Insurance companies, retailers and other employers have joined forces with unions and other interest groups to propose their own plans.

"Across the board, more physicians feel that our fragmented and for-profit insurance system is obstructing good patient care, and a majority now support national insurance as the remedy," Ackermann said in a statement. The Indiana survey found that 83 percent of psychiatrists, 69 percent of emergency medicine specialists, 65 percent of pediatricians, 64 percent of internists, 60 percent of family physicians and 55 percent of general surgeons favor a national health insurance plan. The researchers said they believe the survey was representative of the 800,000 U.S. medical doctors.” (Reporting by Maggie Fox; Editing by Will Dunham and Xavier Briand)

We wonder how many of the doctors in the survey saw Michael Moore’s film “Sicko.” We’ll bet a lot of them did, and those who were honest agreed with it, and that fact is reflected in the survey. Remember America, health care should be a right for every American, and should come before foreign commitments to countries like Iraq. Support your local Democrats who have made national health care a priority. Keep America’s resources in America.
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If you’re in the thinning ranks of Hillary Clinton supporters, and/or you like music, we happily refer you to this cool tribute to Hillary by Gene Wang for your listening pleasure.
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News just keeps getting rosier for Apple, the company that used to be noted for its computers, but has found new fame and fortune utilizing gadgets and services prefixed with the small letter i. As in iPods, the iPhone, and iTunes. The NYTimes blogrunner column on technology reported that Apple’s diminutive iTunes Store has passed WalMart and is now the #1 music reailer in the US. The iTunes Store leads the pack with 19 percent, Wal-Mart (which includes the brick-and-mortar stores as well as its online properties) is second with 15 percent, and Best Buy is third with 13 percent. Amazon is a distant fourth at 6 percent, trailed by the likes of Borders, Circuit City, and Barnes & Noble. Rhapsody is in the tenth slot with 1 percent. More at:

On top of a report that a survey of merchants world wide has named Apple’s products the most admired (Google ranked fourth) Morgan Stanley reports that 40% of college students plan to buy Macs. According to AppleInsider: “Apple's rapidly rising mindshare amongst current generation college students is setting the company up for an "aging phenomenon" that will spur further market share and revenue growth as those students enter the work force, investment bank Morgan Stanley said Wednesday.

“A recent higher-education survey cited by analyst Katy Huberty reveals that roughly 40 percent of college students say their next computer purchase will be a Mac, well ahead of Apple's current 15 percent market share in the demographic.

“In the near term, this sets the Cupertino-based Mac maker up for a strong September quarter – a three-month period that embodies the heart of the back-to-school buying season, where incoming freshmen, existing undergraduates, and universities all plunk down considerable sums of cash in order to invest in computer hardware for the coming school year.

"Longer term," Huberty said, "we see an 'aging phenomenon' that will put Apple in a more mainstream market share position as students enter the work force, much like Linux adoption in the 1998-2003 time frame."

“For Apple, which holds just shy of 3 percent worldwide share of the personal computer market, each incremental percentage point of share gain means billions, Huberty said; approximately 6 billion in yearly revenues, and a full dollar in per share earnings for investors. The analyst maintained her Overweight rating on shares of Apple, with a $185 per-share Base Case scenario that assumes Mac unit share rises to 3.5 percent from 2.9 percent in the next 12 months, and that consumers continue to buy up into the Mac product family, providing the company with some gross margin leverage.

Under the pretense of maintaining balance we should report that Apple is being sued because of a failure to live up to advertised claims by the new 20” aluminum iMacs. The claim is that the iMac is “New and inferior.” The plaintiff – a Texan named Chandra Sanders – claims to represent tens of thousands of customers who purchased the smaller of the two iMacs that were introduced last August. She is demanding a trial by jury. At the center of her complaint is the allegation that while 24-inch iMacs are capable of displaying 16,777,216 colors on 8-bit, in-plane switching (IPS) screens, the 20-inch iMac have 6-bit twisted nematic film (TN) LCD screens that can display only 262,144 colors. I wonder where she lives in Texas. Sounds to us like she caught a bad case of SwiftBoat fever.
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Leslie Stahl interviewed Al Gore, the political candidate who ran for president and won the popular vote but was denied the election by Supreme Court fiat. Stahl tried to get his take on the current candidates.

"We were with you in the San Jose Airport,” Stahl said, “and a man came over to you and he says,'Who are you supporting, Obama or Hillary? Gore's response to the man? "Uh ha." "So, let me ask you. Who are you supporting?" Stahl asked. "I'm tryin' to stay out of it," Gore replied.

Getting Al Gore to talk about politics these days is hard work. But as a party leader and uncommitted superdelegate, his staying "out of it" isn't easy. "Are they calling you every minute?" Stahl asked. "Not every minute," Gore said. "No? Lotta pressure though, I'll bet," Stahl remarked.

"We unplugged the phones for this interview, so I can't say with authority. But no, everyone – they both call. And I appreciate that fact," Gore replied. "And what about the idea of the honest broker who goes to the two candidates and helps push one or the other of them off to the side?" Stahl asked. "Yeah, kind of a modern Boss Tweed," Gore remarked. "Except his name would be Al Gore," Stahl said.

"Well, I'm not applying for the job of broker," Gore replied, laughing. He's not ruling it out, but he says he already has a job, as he puts it, "P.R." agent for the planet. "You have said, and I'm going to quote you, 'If I do my job right, all the candidates will be talking about the climate crisis,'" Stahl said. "I can't think of a time I've heard the candidates talk about it." "Right. Well, I'm not finished yet," Gore said.

The Gore campaign on global warming went into high gear when his documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" was an unexpected hit. What he's been doing is holding seminars, where he trains other people to give his famous slideshow about the effects of greenhouse gases. So far in all, he's coached about 2,000 people, teaching one little workshop at a time.
His slideshows are tailored to his audiences. For example, when he talks to evangelical Christians, he includes passages from the Bible.

Gore is trying to redefine this as a moral and spiritual issue. "We all share the exact same interest in doing the right thing on this. Who are we as human beings? Are we destined to destroy this place that we call home, planet earth? I can't believe that that's our destiny. It is not our destiny. But we have to awaken to the moral duty that we have to do the right thing and get out of this silly political game-playing about it. This is about survival," he said.

To the chagrin of Bushies everywhere Gore was awarded both an oscar and a Nobel Peace prize for his work alerting the world about global warming.
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And finally a federal judge in New York has dealt the Recording Industry Association of America a setback in their thousands of lawsuits over piracy on peer-to-peer networks. Declan McCullagh reports on C/Net’s that U.S. District Judge Kenneth Karas ruled Monday to reject the claim that a KaZaA user who merely “made available” copyrighted music necessarily violated the law. Rather, he said that the RIAA would have to demonstrate that unlawful copying actually took place. If this ruling becomes widely accepted cases that the RIAA has won under that premise like the ruling against Jammie Thomas, whose story I printed in Blog #10, will likely be overturned. Maybe there is hope for justice in the legal system after all.
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And on this happy note (every note that brings frustration to the RIAA we consider a happy note) we bring to an end this week’s ramblings. We do this once a week, and hope to see you again next week. Bye now.

The Real Little Eddy

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