Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Messenger of "Change" -- What Change?
Barack Obama's recent actions make it clear that deep down he is no different from other politicians. Back in 2000, G.W. Bush's message about being a compassionate conservative won him support. Bush turned out to be anything but compassionate and it took a long time for people to see him for what he is. Barack Obama's promise of "change" resonated with voters. He sounded sincere....different. The primary reason for many of us to back Obama was his position on the war in Iraq and Hillary Clinton's lack of clarity on various issues. Four months before the election Obama is proving that when it comes to flipping and flopping he can be as adept as Hillary Clinton and John McCain.
For this voter the Obama glitter is fading. Didn't expect him to fulfill all his promises if he became president. The president is a part of the system that prevails, and the system is far from ideal. It was late president Calvin Coolidge who reportedly said "The business of America is business". No matter who is in the White House, the major corporations and their lobbyists have tremendous influence in enacting legislations which affect ordinary Americans. It is disappointing to watch the Senator from Illinois quickly backing off from his earlier positions. One gets the feeling that the status quo will basically remain unchanged.
Obama let his supporters down by:
- Reversing his position on campaign financing. His explanation does not cut it. See"Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Bundlers" by Ruth Marcus in The Washington Post.
- He supported inclusion of immunity for the telecom companies in FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) although he is now saying that he will "try to strip that provision.
- His foreign policy team consists of long-toothed dinosaurs from past administrations. Madeleine Albright and Warren Christopher stand out. Albright is especially suspect. Her hands are far from clean. What kind of message does that send? Albright is an older and heavier Condoleezza Rice.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Summer, Fog, and Golden Gate Bridge
Summer arrived and with it a heat wave. Last week, temperature in many parts of the San Francisco Peninsula climbed over 100 degrees°F (38°C). The weekend, however, turned out to be pleasant. By Saturday evening one could feel the cooling effect of the coastal fog. Four days later, it felt almost wintry when I went out for a run this evening in my neighborhood in San Mateo.
On Sunday, June 22nd, it was pleasant walking on the Coastal Trail beyond the Golden Gate Bridge. The bridge was enshrouded in fog, barely visible from some points. Wild flowers still abundant along the path.
Golden Gate Bridge, I
Golden Gate Bridge, II
Golden Gate Bridge, III
Wild Flowers (Who's got a name?)
A water bug named Naya
Summer nightSummer night--even the starsare whispering to each other.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
The Seasons: Summer is around the Corner
Ten days before summer solstice the weather has become warm and sunny. The wind picks up force in the afternoon but no longer chills the bones.
A good time for runners and walkers. Some spring flowers still to be found, especially in the preserves along skyline. Buckeye trees in full bloom. Last weekend Sarbajit Ghosal and I hiked at Purisima Creek Redwoods Preserve
. Took Whittemore Gulch down to the creek bed; had our sandwiches and then hiked up Harkins Ridge to return to the North Ridge Parking Lot. Very enjoyable. To the west there was mist hanging over the coastline at Half Moon Bay, so the Pacific was only faintly visible.
Friends starting out on Toyon Trail, Foothills Park, Palo Alto, Ca.
On the Toyon Trail, Foothills Park, Palo Alto, CA
A Variable Checkerspot, Harkins Ridge Trail
Checkerspots feeding© Musafir
Wild Blackberries at Harkins Ridge Trail
California Hedge Nettle
Wild Iris, Harkins Ridge Trail© Musafir
SG looking out toward the Pacific from Harkins Ridge Trail
"That's the best thing about walking, the journey itself. It doesn't matter much whether you get where you're going or not. You'll get there anyway. Every good hike brings you eventually back home."
- Edward Abbey
Saturday, June 07, 2008
Shed no Tears for Hummer and Other Gas Guzzlers
Sign of the Times
Not much good news these days. But reports about the declining sales of SUV's and General Motors' plans to unload the Hummer Division indicate that automobile manufacturers and lovers of SUV's are being forced to move away from the ugly, eco-unfriendly vehicles. That is cause for rejoicing.
On April 20, 2005, my blog read:
The Cars We Drive And What they Tell About Us
- The brutish, extra-wide Hummers make me think of the owners being mean, selfish and arrogant---typical Bush Republicans. This article from The NY Times confirms that I am not far from the truth. Too bad that some Democrats like the ugly, gas hogging monstrosity on wheels.
- "Among Hummer buyers, the Republican-to-Democrat ratio was a whopping 52 to 23."(NY Times)
Three years later, in Guardian UK June 7, 2008
- The average SUV owner, according to studies cited in Bradsher's book, is "apt to be self-centred and self-absorbed, with little interest in their neighbours or communities." In addition, they are "insecure and vain. They are frequently nervous about their marriages and uncomfortable about parenthood. They often lack confidence in their driving skills ... they tend to like fine restaurants a lot more than off-road driving, seldom go to church, and have limited interest in doing volunteer work to help others.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
It is Barack Obama
Democrats and Election 2008
Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee to face John McCain in November.
Concern about the economy now takes top place among voters. The war in Iraq continues to be an issue -- no longer the foremost one. But for this voter, and many others, Hillary Clinton's support for the Iraq War Resolution, and failure or refusal to admit that it was a mistake, became the focal point of support for Obama.
Among the vast number of reports about Hillary Clinton's loss the one that struck a chord was by Beth Fouhy, Associated Press
"WASHINGTON - On her first campaign visit to New Hampshire, in February 2007, Hillary Rodham Clinton was confronted by a voter who demanded she explain her 2002 Senate vote authorizing the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
I want to know if right here, right now, once and for all and without nuance, you can say that war authorization was a mistake," Roger Tilton asked Clinton. "I, and I think a lot of other primary voters — until we hear you say it, we're not going to hear all the other great things you are saying."
Clinton replied, as she would repeat in the ensuing months: "Knowing what we know now, I would never have voted for it."
Her refusal to admit error failed to satisfy Tilton, a 46-year-old financial analyst from Nashua even though he loved her position on health care and capping Iraq troop levels."
We had opposed the war, marched against it long before the first pair of boots landed on the ground in Iraq. At that time the deception about non-existent WMD was largely unknown to the general public; there were only suspicions. We were vindicated. The coffins, however, continued to come back from Iraq and civilian death toll kept mounting.
Come November, if McCain should prevail, are we going to regret our position? Some of us might. Many Democrats fear that Obama cannot win in a national election because he is black. The fact that racism exists is undeniable. Whether it is going to be a deciding factor is something we'll have to wait to find out.*****
Sunday, June 01, 2008
They Are Baaack, Abstinence Only Sex Education Promoters
"Birds do it, bees do it"
“How did sex come to be thought of as dirty in the first place? God must have been a Republican.”
Rob Stein, Washington Post
Proponents of sex education programs that focus on encouraging abstinence are launching a nationwide campaign aimed at enlisting 1 million parents to support the controversial approach.
The National Abstinence Education Association, a Washington-based advocacy group, said that it sent e-mails last week to about 30,000 supporters, practitioners and parents to try to recruit participants and plans to e-mail 100,000 this week as part of the first phase of the $1 million campaign.
The e-mail is promoting the Parents for Truth campaign, which the group hopes will eventually involve 1 million parents nationwide to lobby local schools to adopt sex education programs focusing on abstinence and to work to elect local, state and national officials who support the approach.
"There are powerful special interest groups who can far outspend what parents can in terms of promoting their agenda. But we recognize that parents more than make up for that by their determination and motivation to protect their own children," said Valerie Huber, the group's executive director.
The campaign comes as Congress is debating whether to authorize about $190 million in federal funding for such programs, which have come under increasing criticism because of a series of reports that concluded they are ineffective. Such criticism has prompted at least 17 states to refuse federal funding for such programs.
No wonder. The current incumbent of the White House -- one of the biggest hypocrites to come down the pike -- who had committed "youthful indiscretions" is a champion of abstinence. One needn't ask what his indiscretions were. We don't know what the leaders (men and women) of the abstinence only campaign did in their youth. Angels are said to have no memory. Good for them. Or, like G.W. Bush, one fine morning they found god, became born again and stopped thinking of sex outside marriage. They want to protect our children from the dangers of sex education that includes safe sex practices. To them, condoms are bad; prayers are the answer to combat the primeval urge.
Touchy area....sex. It would be interesting to hear what position do the contenders in the race for the White House take on this issue. They would rather stay away from speaking about it to escape ire of the Bible thumpers. Remember Bill Clinton's craven surrender in the Jocelyn Elders controversy? Dr. Elders, who was confirmed as surgeon general by the senate in 1993, made a public statement about the benefits of masturbation, and the sky fell down. When she refused to resign, Bill Clinton fired her in December 1994.*****