US social security is among least generous. “The average employee in an advanced country can expect a government pension of 70 per cent of his or her after-tax earnings at retirement compared with 39 per cent for an equivalent US citizen.” Yowzer.
NY Times Arts:
Republican Chairman Exerts Pressure on PBS, Alleging Biases. “I frankly feel at PBS headquarters there is a tone deafness to issues of tone and balance.” And when Fox News is attacked, there’s a quick reach for the ‘freedom of speech’ argument.
Later: Yes, counter with CJR’s “Stations of the Cross.”
SF New Mexican:
Navajo president vetoes measure against same-sex marriage. “However, the proposed measure said nothing about domestic violence, sexual assault and gangs on the Navajo Nation. Problems Shirley said were rampant. The law focused on a problem that doesn’t exist and would only generate disharmony and disunity among the Navajo people, he said.”
filibustering Frist. Not quite the same as the protests at the Institute for Defense Analysis [note the spraypainted windows; the entire brick facade including windows had been painted by the students], a block from my house, but it’s damned nice to see youth paying attention and getting attention.
The Institute for Defense Analysis housed the supercomputer that made the tactical decision to invade Cambodia, clouds of steam would escape whenever there was a crisis in Vietnam. The steam always portended strategic changes and, in general, bad news of one kind or another.
The IDA protest is top of mind, because I happened to pick up and scan the recent tome by Lisa Halaby (Queen Noor), in which she says she was at the IDA protest. She might remember a trio of brown-haired nosey kids [me, my brother, and neighbor]. No doubt she would be tickled to know that the extended music outage at the IDA protest was due to my late father ... who didn’t oppose the protest, but just wanted a good night’s sleep. He always walked home by the ‘back way’ through the IDA parking lot [too much noisy traffic on Nassau Street, even back then], and he noticed the power cables were plugged into a multi-connector under a bush. He unplugged them, covered the junction with scrap sitting nearby, and it took the students *forever* to trace the outage. We had a reprieve from the unremitting howl of recorded and live music for one night. They had snaked innumerable cables to the student apartment building on the corner of Murray and Prospect, and to one or two private rental houses on the south side of the complex.
We neighborhood kids mixed in with the protestors, after school, though the dire warnings of our parents were aimed at keeping us away from whatever Kent State tactics the authorities might use.
After the protests died down, the new, more militaristic guards felt safe enough to leave the building. We’d had a really good relationship with the stereotypical overweight security guards up until the protest, but these were new individuals with dead eyes, dark glasses, and intimidating aspect. Authorities began to build cyclone fence around the perimeter. The complex had a wonderful unbroken field of grass that was perfect for any sort of play, and none of us liked the idea of the fence bisecting our local play area. The hell with that! Kids in my neighborhood would sneak by in the evening, and push the verticals over so the concrete set with the poles at unusable angles. Giving chase was useless; these ‘better’ guards didn’t know the neighborhood, had no relationship with us. We knew every back yard, every neighbor, every climbable tree, every alley, every friendly store owner, every climbable fence, every available entry into every Princeton University building.
[Speaking of which, and I digress, screw video games. Do the McCarter fire escape, but make sure you put something soft to land on at the bottom. It’s a 4’ drop to the ground after you hit the spring-loaded steel trap door.]
The guards soon would no longer tolerate any kids within sight of the complex. CIA eventually posted 24/7 guards with fully automatic weaponry at IDA, which sat in the middle of our residential neighborhood. My father, in his inimitable attorney/ex-Marine voice, waded into our midst one afternoon while we were playing ‘four-square’, and warned us to “Stay the hell away ... narrow-minded military want-to-be’s who carry guns, think they’re God and believe they have the right to judge life and death for others. The military has rules, the CIA doesn’t. These guys are paranoid. I don’t want to see *any* of you kids near the place.” He was livid enough with having automatic weapons in the same neighborhood; having survived Tarawa, he no doubt hated being placed involuntarily on the receiving end of machine guns wielded by those with dubious training. Residences backed up on the IDA complex, within 20 yards of the front doors. Annoy one of those guards, someone innocent would die.
The ‘threat’ did not call for automatic weapons. Our government felt that installation, at that time, was more valuable than individual citizen lives. Nixon and Kissinger. I’ve never forgotten the lesson. This is the Republican law-and-order I am watchful of and for today. Any subsequent student protests during this period would have been met with deadly force. The students surprised the sleeping dragon, which stayed vigilant for the remainder of the Vietnam conflict.
Over a couple of years, we kids eventually forged an uneasy peace with the security guards on our own. You’ve never lived until you’ve seen a CIA guard, M-16 over his shoulder, retrieving a balsa-wood rubber-band “Super Streak” airplane from a tall pine tree. [Guillows powered a lot of entertainment for a low price back then. I’m very happy to see they’re still around. I’ll have to purchase one this weekend, and play.]
Time has passed, the wound has healed. The scar is even gone (IDA eventually moved). Only we who were there remember, and we’re often discounted as fiction novelists. There’s different ‘truth’ today, that has nothing to do with the everlasting truth of personal experience. The rabid patriots were fringe, when America was seeing blood and death on TV news every night.
After the protest, there was one spot on the road, where an individual had spraypainted a small circular “Yay Nixon!” I’ve always wondered what happened to that person; whether it was a joke, or a closely-held position and the individual took the requisite knocks. It never reached the papers, nor the gossip line in Princeton. I guess I’ll just have to continue wondering.
Bush muscles his agenda with tactical flexibility. “He can bend to any political reality, and act like he’s standing up straight ... [snip] ... That’s what he’ll do on Social Security. He’ll find an exit plan and blame the Democrats and never acknowledge any errors. I don’t see any legislation happening.” A brief and interesting analysis.
NY Times Letters to the Editor:
The Battle Over the Filibuster. An ‘up or down vote’ isn’t Constitutional. Gridlock *is* Constitutional, which is why we have three branches. To prevent an ideology from destroying what over 200 years have built.
“So far as might concern the misbehavior of the Executive in perverting the instructions or contravening the views of the Senate, we need not be apprehensive of the want of a disposition in that body to punish the abuse of their confidence, or to vindicate their own authority. We may thus far count upon their pride, if not upon their virtue. And so far even as might concern the corruption of leading members, by whose arts and influence the majority may have been inveigled into measures odious to the community, if the proofs of that corruption should be satisfactory, the usual propensity of human nature will warrant us in concluding that there would be commonly no defect of inclination in the body to divert the public resentment from themselves by a ready sacrifice of the authors of their mismanagement and disgrace.”
My italics. Hamilton, sadly, seems wrong in this assumption. Federalist #66. But there’s still a sliver of hope.
Local Listeners Tune Out Talk Radio. “Conservative talk, the most popular kind on the radio, has long been driven by a passionate “us vs. them” underdog mentality. In case you missed the last election results, conservatives now dominate national and state politics. With fewer “thems” to bash, right-wing ranters may be finding it harder to maintain their traditional put-upon posture.”
A crisis of compliance. On nuclear non-proliferation. “For all these transgressions and confessions, it is the recognised nuclear powers, not the would-be cheats, who are likely to come in for the most vocal criticism during the NPT review.”
US economy is a bit on the slow side. The quicksand of energy prices and increased interest rates is about to impede progress.
Speaking of energy, The Economist: Rethinking the Axis of Oil. “But the axis is now being challenged by an increasing number of pragmatists from the centre-right of American politics.” It’s about time.
The recent Al Gore speech is not to be missed. He too, foresees at attempt at presidential tyranny, for broader reasons than theocracy.
SF New Mexican:
Motley alliance urges horse-slaughter ban. No mustangs for dog food. They have particularly healthy, hard hooves, which might come in handy if oil gets pricey ... pavement’s tough on feet, y’know.
SF New Mexican:
Santa Feans demonstrate against GOP filibuster ban. Er, the Spanish root is better than the Dutch, IMHO: filibustero vs. vrijbuiter.
Hallelujah. House Votes to Reverse Ethics Rules to End Deadlock. Doc Hastings uses a good word ... ‘compromise.’ ” To expose or make liable to danger, suspicion, or disrepute.”
Congress is getting bullish on China; batten your wallets. “Over the weekend, the head of China’s central bank also gave a speech indicating that the yuan could be revalued in the near future (though he blamed international pressure, rather than internal imbalances). Once this happens, the People’s Bank of China can stop stockpiling dollar reserves—meaning its demand for American government securities will also dry up. Critics wonder if Congress, which has made little effort to curb America’s soaring budget deficits, has quite thought things through.” My italics. You’ve heard many of these arguments here before.
There’s something wonderfully ironic
about Mr Bush applying ‘DeLay’ to Social Security reform.
NY Times Op-Ed:
Kristof, North Korea and Mr Bush. I said this during the Chinese spy plane fiasco, I’ll say it again. The foreign policy education of Mr Bush will, ultimately, be so costly I don’t know if we can pay it.
NY Times Editorial:
SF New Mexican:
Bid for LANL contract delayed again. “The seven-year contract is potentially worth $2.2 billion per year. Extensions of the contract could raise the total value to $44 billion over 20 years.”
SF New Mexican:
Changes in WIPP operations suggested by DOE. For New Mexico, the nuclear waste version of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Who knows what kind of waste will be driving within a mile of my house, with *no* disaster escape route if there’s an accident. Happy happy, joy joy.
I feel I should
remind all that liberty is preserved by the infrastructural separation of powers, including the independence of the judiciary. To weaken that, is to weaken the freedom of each man, woman and child in America.
SF New Mexican:
Navajo Nation bans uranium mining on its land. “Our people are still dying from this. This legislation was important to Navajo Nation, a very bid [sic] step for Navajo people.”
Greenspan warns Congress on deficits. Again. Congress will get what they deserve, after we get what we don’t deserve.