Saturday, February 27, 2010
Since 9/11, the USCG has been part of the Department of Homeland Security. In addition to search & rescue, it is a first responder to natural disasters and maritime emergencies at home and abroad; a drug interdiction agency; a sentinel against illegal immigration, the smuggling of WOMD and other weaponry; and the overseer of American port security. In light of that expanded mission, it is disheartening to read that, after a decade of underfunding, its 2011 budget is to be cut by a further 3.3%.
It is, of course, problematical for the USCG to be part of a federal department so gigantic and revenue-devouring that libertarians foam at the mouth just thinking about it. Hence, when the Administration looks for places to cut in response to taxpayer outrage, the DHS is an inviting target.
There are, fortunately, voices calling for a reversal, including that of Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md) chairman of the sub-committee overseeing Coast Guard and Marine Transport matters, who said, "I think you will have the unanimous support of [this] committee. We will proceed...very effectively and very efficiently".
Realistically, though, numerous federal agencies participate in the oversight of DHS, and the Coast Guard, as one of that department's 22 components, could get lost in the shuffle of Congressional budgetary infighting. So I would urge readers to contact your senators and congressmen, and ask that they seek some way to reduce the federal budget other than further starving a quintessential element of our national security.
Friday, February 26, 2010
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
"Hurry up and wait' is a cardinal mantra of the military, and we all know how tedious waiting around -- or being hospitalized -- can be. Reading is a powerful antidote to such boredom.
There must be literally millions of used paperbacks gathering dust on bookshelves around the country, and I urge you to give yours a new life; especially in such a rewarding way.
Just link to http://www.operationpaperback.org/. They'll give you detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to go about it.
Monday, February 22, 2010
Of course, any such legislative relief depends upon Congress -- already drunk on corporate donations -- to sober up and act according to the wishes of the electorate. The more cynical among us might be inclined to say, "don't hold your breath."
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
As a moderate Liberal, I'm not a big fan of Rachel Maddow; too strident and too far left of center-- a sort of mirror image of Rush Limbaugh. But she's now come up with (on MSNBC) a witheringly accurate indictment of GOP hypocrisy vis a vis the Stimulus package.
The Administration's quest for bi-partisanship is, she believes, hopelessly and naively quixotic, given the lockstep determination of Republicans to monolithically oppose any Democratic policy initiative, the good of the country notwithstanding.
Hers is the most well-constructed and vividly graphic assessment of the sorry situation that I've seen to date. Watch it at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5E3vDO5eYRw
Thursday, February 11, 2010
It deals with the effort by some members of the Texas Board of Education to infuse their statewide public school system's history and science curricula with Fundamentalist religious doctrines.
Why should non-Texans care? Because Texas has more pupils and spends more on education than any other state. Consequently, major textbook publishers take care to reflect the TBOE's standards across their booklists, thereby infecting virtually every other school district in the country with a religion-driven agenda that may be anathema to unsuspecting parents, nationwide.
Even if you yourself subscribe to that agenda, you should nevertheless have a problem with such egregious subversion of the 1st Amendment. The supporters' contention that this is what the Founders intended is so labyrinthine in its rationale as to defy objective refutation.
If you are not an NYT subscriber, you can link to the article at: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/14/magazine/14texbooks-t.html?8au&emc=au
How many newspapers nowadays can afford the time, reportorial/editorial staff, and space necessary to responsibly discharge a function so vital to the role a press must play in a democracy? Dishearteningly, the answer must be: very few -- and we are all the poorer for it.
Magazines remain one of the few purveyors of the sort of analysis to which I refer, but, regrettably, only 2% of the population reads magazines any more, and they're relatively expensive for the average wage-earner.
I, for one, find myself increasingly turning to free internet sources having pockets deep enough to support and publish such analysis. Case in point, STRATFOR, a private-enterprise global intelligence organization which supplies strategic guidance in the form of well-written articles to its subscribers and clients. All to the good, but who's there -- or interested enough -- to refute any faulty conclusions at which they may arrive? Few bloggers -- no matter how reliable -- have the resources to do so, and certainly none of the MSM.
STRATFOR is accountable only to its shareholders and subscribers; not to the community at large. This is not to suggest that, as a consequence, they lack reliability or circumspection, only that they have no public responsibility, as does the press.
The only answer to this increasingly distressing scenario is for the MSM to accelerate (if sheer survival is not already a sufficient goad) its so-far elusive quest to reinvent its economic model in order to bring it profitably in line with the realities of the contemporary, digitally-dominated, marketplace. It cannot happen too soon.
For an example of a STRATFOR article, link to:
Monday, February 8, 2010
Marshaling an array of incontestable facts, the article takes the GOP to task for egregiously claiming that it's been left out of the healthcare debate while concurrently trying to scare the bejeezus out of Seniors by telling them that the Democrats are out to take away their Medicare.
In the end, of course, the debate comes down to whether one believes in a monolithically capitalistic free market economy, or one in which the government steps in with progressive social-welfare initiatives designed to "provide for...the General Welfare" (U.S. Constitution: Article I, Sect. 8).
Read the article in full, and draw your own conclusions ("we report, you decide") at:
Saturday, February 6, 2010
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Read about it at: http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Stories/2009/November/06/health-insurance-across-state-lines.aspx
Read Mr. Ross' piece at: http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/forumy/2010/02/constructive-criticism-presidential.php
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
For those of my generation, it is a fascinating mix of multitasking and virtual reality that is simultaneously informative, enlightening, compelling, and just a bit disturbing.
If you've ever wondered: what's the world coming to?, this program will tell you -- vividly.
It's being streamed live at: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/digitalnation/view/ as I write, and will of course soon be repeated on one of your local PBS stations.