Saturday, July 31, 2010

Mr. Obama, isn't it time to rebalance our priorities?

Op-Ed Columnist
One soldier or 20 schools?
Published: July 28, 2010
The war in Afghanistan will consume more money this year alone than we spent on the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War and the Spanish-American War — combined.

A recent report from the Congressional Research Service finds that the war on terror, including Afghanistan and Iraq, has been, by far, the costliest war in American history aside from World War II. It adjusted costs of all previous wars for inflation.
Those historical comparisons should be a wake-up call to President Obama, underscoring how our military strategy is not only a mess — as the recent leaked documents from Afghanistan suggested — but also more broadly reflects a gross misallocation of resources. One legacy of the 9/11 attacks was a distortion of American policy: By the standards of history and cost-effectiveness, we are hugely overinvested in military tools and underinvested in education and diplomacy.
It was reflexive for liberals to rail at President George W. Bush for jingoism. But it is President Obama who is now requesting 6.1 percent more in military spending than the peak of military spending under Mr. Bush. And it is Mr. Obama who has tripled the number of American troops in Afghanistan since he took office. (A bill providing $37 billion to continue financing America’s two wars was approved by the House on Tuesday and is awaiting his signature.)
Under Mr. Obama, we are now spending more money on the military, after adjusting for inflation, than in the peak of the cold war, Vietnam War or Korean War. Our battle fleet is larger than the next 13 navies combined, according to Defense Secretary Robert Gates. The intelligence apparatus is so bloated that, according to The Washington Post, the number of people with “top secret” clearance is 1.5 times the population of the District of Columbia.
Meanwhile, a sobering report from the College Board says that the United States, which used to lead the world in the proportion of young people with college degrees, has dropped to 12th.
What’s more, an unbalanced focus on weapons alone is often counterproductive, creating a nationalist backlash against foreign “invaders.” Over all, education has a rather better record than military power in neutralizing foreign extremism. And the trade-offs are staggering: For the cost of just one soldier in Afghanistan for one year, we could start about 20 schools there. Hawks retort that it’s impossible to run schools in Afghanistan unless there are American troops to protect them. But that’s incorrect.
CARE, a humanitarian organization, operates 300 schools in Afghanistan, and not one has been burned by the Taliban. Greg Mortenson, of “Three Cups of Tea” fame, has overseen the building of 145 schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan and operates dozens more in tents or rented buildings — and he says that not one has been destroyed by the Taliban either.
Aid groups show that it is quite possible to run schools so long as there is respectful consultation with tribal elders and buy-in from them. And my hunch is that CARE and Mr. Mortenson are doing more to bring peace to Afghanistan than Mr. Obama’s surge of troops.
The American military has been eagerly reading “Three Cups of Tea” but hasn’t absorbed the central lesson: building schools is a better bet for peace than firing missiles (especially when one cruise missile costs about as much as building 11 schools).
Mr. Mortenson lamented to me that for the cost of just 246 soldiers posted for one year, America could pay for a higher education plan for all Afghanistan. That would help build an Afghan economy, civil society and future — all for one-quarter of 1 percent of our military spending in Afghanistan this year.
The latest uproar over Pakistani hand-holding with the Afghan Taliban underscores that billions of dollars in U.S. military aid just doesn’t buy the loyalty it used to. In contrast, education can actually transform a nation. That’s one reason Bangladesh is calmer than Pakistan, Oman is less threatening than Yemen.
Paradoxically, the most eloquent advocate in government for balance in financing priorities has been Mr. Gates, the defense secretary. He has noted that the military has more people in its marching bands than the State Department has diplomats.
Faced with constant demands for more, Mr. Gates in May asked: “Is it a dire threat that by 2020 the United States will have only 20 times more advanced stealth fighters than China?”
In the presidential campaign, Mr. Obama promised to invest in a global education fund. Since then, he seems to have forgotten the idea — even though he is spending enough every five weeks in Afghanistan to ensure that practically every child on our planet gets a primary education.
We won our nation’s independence for $2.4 billion in today’s money, the Congressional Research Service report said. That was good value, considering that we now fritter the same amount every nine days in Afghanistan. Mr. Obama, isn’t it time to rebalance our priorities?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

vacation thought

Son sits with me

to tell of his imminent departure

for Colorado

We sit under the pondering Buddha/

- the two contemplate -

after David arrives and disgorges

his wife and three children

his plan is to head alone to a favorite


and quiet down......

all Ipods and listening devices


in silence.

Will migratng songbirds survive BP oil spill?

....time will tell.

Editorial comment, 7-25-10

Verlyn Klinkenborg, New York Times
sensitive writer

Sunday, July 25, 2010

This just in:

Son Lee reports on his blog

he has successfully made it through his summer school elementary kids teaching stint in Houston. CHECK IT OUT.
Considerable esteem is felt by his parental units. The University of Wisconsin diplomas for Lee AND daughter Erin arrived here in our new mailbox this week, per UW's practice of mailing the sheepskins after graduation. The large padded envelopes were left in our lobby by the postal woman who rung our bell to report that she was leaving them against the wall down there because they were too big to get in our mail chamber.

TOO BIG is the message here.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


A Deposition
by Anne Porter Living Things: Collected Poems)

from Garrrison Keillor's WRITERS ALMANAC

which the raccoon news receives daily by Email

The nursemaid Agnes Cassidy

A woman not much bigger

Than a child

The eldest of thirteen

Came straight from Donegal

One of her eyes

Was pulled askew

Mauled by the forceps

Of a country doctor
Who had been drinking

The night that she was born

But her small flat

Unlucky face

Bore marks

Of Celtic beauty

And she was strong
Her faith was silent


And passionate

She'd gladly walk

Ten miles
In any weather

For a taste of God

And when her mother died

In Ireland

And a fierce sense of duty

Was dragging her
Back to the farm in Donegal

To help her father

She wept at leaving

The little fiery boy

Whose nurse she'd been

Whom she had named

The Fighting Irishman

And whom she loved she said

As much as she loved anyone.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

You shoulda been here......well, you sort of were

Sausagemente avec potato et peppier

Late yesterday afternoon,

while Mom went out to Camps to pick blackberries

I stayed home to prepare your favorite dish

sausage and potatoes/

I knew you would savor it

a main dish of your childhood

so I brought your picture down

in honor of the occasion

and the pleasant aroma

circled your likeness/

It was as good as usual

and just-picked blackberries

and ice cream

for dessert/

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Laurie Dix Kari of Wasilla AK

Laurie is the Director
of Family Promise Homeless Shelter
Mat-Su Valley, Alaska

She just sent this video of an upcoming cardboard city event.

Please watch:

Son of mine performs mighty feat

David takes old dad camping in Door Co. Oct. 06

Greets Great Spirit

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Elderflowers NYT 1-18-10

enlarge to read

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Movin' out

It rained long and hard last night.

Today the Fox, the Mighty Fox, overflows its banks.

ARTIST: Billy Joel
TITLE: Movin' Out
Lyrics and Chords
Anthony works in the grocery store
Savin' his pennies for someday
Mama Leone left a note on the door
She said, "Sonny, move out to the country"
Ah but working too hard can give you a
Heart attack-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack
You oughta know by now - You oughta know by now
Who needs a house out in Hackensack
Is that all you get for your money
/ Dm - Gm - / C C7 F - / : / Dm - G7 - / Gm7 - C - /
/ Dm - G7 - / C7 - F - /
And it seems such a waste of time
If that's what it's all about
Mama, if that's movin' up then I'm movin' out
Mm, I'm movin' out
/ Bb - C - / A7 - Dm - / Bb - Em7 - A7 - /
/ Dm - Gm7 - C7 - Fmaj7 - /
Sergeant O'Leary is walkin' the beat
At night he becomes a bartender
He works at Mister Cacciatore's down on Sullivan Street
Across from the medical center
And he's tradin' in his Chevy for a
You oughta know by now - You oughta know by now
And if he can't drive with a broken back
At least he can polish the fenders
You should never argue with a
Crazy mi-mi-mi-mi-mi-mind
You oughta know by now - You oughta know by now
You can pay Uncle Sam with the overtime
Is that all you get for your money
{As refrain}
And if that's what you have in mind
Yeah, if that's what you're all about
Good luck movin' up 'cause I'm movin' out
Mm, I'm movin' out
I'm movin' out

play this:

water movin' out......

Telling it like it isn't

by Scott Galindez

Reader Supported News Perspective

Just when I thought Rush Limbaugh could not stoop any lower, he goes deeper into the cesspool.
I am an Oriole fan, I hate the Yankees with a passion, but when someone dies or has a tragic injury I still can show compassion for them personally. I wish that baseball wasn't dominated by greed. When I learned yesterday that the owner of the team I love to hate had died I was sad, and I will take this opportunity to offer my condolences to his friends and family.

What did Rush do within hours of his death? Call him a "cracker who made many blacks millionaires." He can say it was tongue in cheek all he wants, but we know it was race-baiting. He might have gotten a pass if this was his first tasteless, racist statement. But we have a pattern established over decades of racist statements.
For example, the statement that ended his brief stint with ESPN: "The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well."
"They're interested in black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well," he said during a discussion of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb. "I think there's a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of his team that he really didn't deserve."
Or how about: "Look, let me put it to you this way: the NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it," he said in 2007.
These are just a few from the sports world; lets go further back. A Google search of racist statements by Rush Limbaugh brings up more than I have time for here, but here are a few:
"Have you ever noticed how all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?"
"The NAACP should have riot rehearsal. They should get a liquor store and practice robberies."
As a young broadcaster in the 1970s, Limbaugh once told a black caller: "Take that bone out of your nose and call me back."
In 1992, on his now-defunct TV show, Limbaugh expressed his ire when Spike Lee urged that black schoolchildren get time off from school to see his film Malcolm X: "Spike, if you're going to do that, let's complete the education experience. You should tell them that they should loot the theater, and then blow it up on their way out."
Once, in response to a caller arguing that black people need to be heard, Limbaugh responded: "They are 12 percent of the population. Who the hell cares?"
The list could go on and on, but we can stop there.
Ok, so we know Rush is a racist. Now how about a classless jerk, who hours after someone's death takes the opportunity to race-bait.
This is not the first time Limbaugh has made insensitive statements about someone's death. I had the honor of working with and learning from the late homeless advocate Mitch Snyder. When Limbaugh learned of Mitch Snyder's death he glibly told his listeners that, "Mitch had finally reached room temperature and no longer needed a home." I would have set my non-violence guidelines aside and punched Limbaugh in the mouth if I was in the same room with him then.
C'mon A-Rod, Jeter, or better yet CC Sabathia, don't let Limbaugh get away with disrespecting your boss. Limbaugh listeners, is this not enough for you? This time it wasn't one of us lefties. George Steinbrenner was a conservative-market Republican. When you support Limbaugh's show, you are supporting a man with no class who is a bigot.

Scott Galindez is a co-founder of Truthout, and the Political Director for Reader Supported News.
Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.
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Monday, July 12, 2010



An Irish daughter had not been home for over 5 years. Upon her return, her Father cursed her heavily.

'Where have ye been all this time, child?
Why did ye not write to us, not even a line?
Why didn't ye call? Can ye not understand what ye put yer old Mother thru? '

The girl, crying, replied, ' Sniff, sniff....Dad....I became a prostitute... '

'Ye what!!? Out of here, ye shameless harlot! Sinner! You're a disgrace to this Catholic family. '

'OK, Dad... as ye wish. I just came back to give mum this luxurious fur coat, title deed to a ten bedroom mansion plus a $5 million savings certificate. For me little brother, this gold Rolex.. And for ye Daddy, the sparkling new Mercedes limited edition convertible that's parked outside plus a membership to the country club...(takes a breath)... and an invitation for ye all to spend New Years Eve on board my new yacht in the Riviera. '

'Now what was it ye said ye had become? ' says Dad.

Girl, crying again, ' Sniff, sniff.....a prostitute Daddy! Sniff, sniff. '

'Oh! Ye scared me half to death, girl! I thought ye said a Protestant. Come here and give yer old Dad a hug.

Op-Ed Columnist
The LeBron Angle to Everything
Published: July 9, 2010

There are certain points in the year — like summer — when the country does not seem to be in the mood to think about politics or public policy. Nevertheless, we know where our duty lies, and it is not in celebrity name-dropping.
So let’s talk about something serious, like the rapidly escalating trend of extremely rich people running for high office. In Connecticut, it looks as if both parties are going to nominate candidates for governor and senator who live in the superupscale town of Greenwich.
Which is, of course, the place where LeBron James made his big basketball announcement. What was that all about, anyway? He lives in Akron, Ohio. He played in Cleveland. He’s moving to Miami. But ESPN said that James wanted to reveal his life plans in Greenwich.
Apparently, the site selection had something to do with James’s desire to attend the wedding of the Denver Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony to the television personality LaLa Vazquez. They’re getting married in New York City, and Greenwich is the place where very rich people go when they want to be in New York City but not actually.
“Greenwich amenities include great schools, country clubs, parks, beaches, shopping, restaurant, convenient access to airports and only 40 minutes to the center of the universe ... Manhattan,” says a Web site for a local realtor, who promises that you can be neighbors with “Ron Howard, Mary Tyler Moore, Mel Gibson, Diana Ross ...”
Not sure how many people are dying to hang with Mel Gibson right now. But if the primaries work out as most polls project, the next governor and junior senator from Connecticut will be neighbors, too.
For the United States Senate, the Republicans seem bent on nominating Linda McMahon, the Greenwich-based wrestling czarina who has promised to spend $30 million of her own money on the campaign. For governor, it’s probably going to be Tom Foley, the former ambassador to Ireland whose name can never be mentioned without pointing out that he owns a mansion in Greenwich and a 100-foot yacht.
The current leader in the Democratic primary for governor is Greenwich resident Ned Lamont. When we last saw Ned, he was spending $17 million of his own money in an unsuccessful attempt to win a Senate seat. The Democratic Senate nominee, Richard Blumenthal, is the poorest of the bunch, having spent virtually his entire adult life being the state attorney general, which pays $110,000 a year. However, his wife’s family owns the Empire State Building.
We hear a lot about how elected officials are afraid of being primaried by someone from the extreme right or left. But, lately, there’s been just as much danger of a superrich challenger dropping down from nowhere, like Paul the Octopus grabbing for the box of mussels covered with the Spanish flag.
In California, Democrats are in despair over how their gubernatorial candidate, Jerry Brown, is going to compete against Meg Whitman, a billionaire who spent $91 million just to win her primary. Brown is not personally wealthy, although he did once date Linda Ronstadt.
Florida, where LeBron James is going to be playing, is Rich Candidate Central. The presumed Democratic candidate for the Senate, Representative Kendrick Meek, now appears to be in danger of losing the nomination to a hitherto unknown billionaire named Jeff Greene.
Greene is moving up in the polls even though he made most of his money betting that the housing market would tank and suck hundreds of thousands Floridians into the maw of foreclosure. And Mike Tyson was best man at his wedding. And, we learned this week, he had Lindsay Lohan on his 145-foot yacht last New Year’s Eve.
“This is not what’s important,” Greene said about the Lohan connection. “Floridians are worried about jobs, getting results.”
This is an extremely common rejoinder these days. Try it in your own life. If your neighbor points out that your car is wrapped around her front porch, tell her that a lot of Americans don’t even have porches anymore. Because what they care about is not trivial traffic mishaps but jobs, jobs, jobs.
Meanwhile, in the Florida governor’s race, Bill McCollum, a Republican, is having a tough time dealing with his extremely rich guy, Rick Scott. Scott is the former chief of Columbia/HCA, a chain of for-profit hospitals. He has spent more than $20 million on campaign ads so far while McCollum has managed to come up with only about $6 million.
Scott’s argument is that the state needs a good businessman to run things. While he was C.E.O. of Columbia/HCA, the company paid fines, penalties and damages of more than $1.7 billion for Medicare and Medicaid fraud. But maybe Florida voters won’t notice, what with all the excitement over LeBron James.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Dr. Leo Buscaglia's father used to ask him,
at the family supper table.
"And, Leo, what did you learn today?"
Here's what I learned

Writer Norb Blei, Ellison Bay WI
On Leo Buscaglia

Monday, July 5, 2010

News from Houston


Examines 'Showy Yellow Lady Slipper'
at The Ridges Sanctuary, Baileys Harbor, WI
(orchid is a boreal forest denizen)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Beyond fireworks

NYT editorial July 4, 2010

Friday, July 2, 2010

In mailbox at 308

Small girl runs 5 Point enterprise

A 50th anniversary Coca cola advertising poster
graces the retro-fit Sloppy Joe's in downtown Waukesha.

It caught our eye when dining there last evening, for we were sitting at an ice cream
parlor table right next to it.

was the year of our birth.

We had the house specialty, Sloppy Joes, served over-the-counter to us by Shelly who with her parents owns the establishment. A very very friendly place where the juke box wafts 1950's-era music, and hula hoops get spun by young and old, inside or outside on the sidewalk cafe pavement.
A daring and obviously intelligent man of about 60 smiled and gave a hoop a whirl (inside) to see if he could still do it, as he said. We didn't have the camera. His gray neatly-combed pony-tail was swept off the rear of his semi-bald head.
Some other interesting customers were seen, doubtlessly downtown denizens......

Thursday, July 1, 2010

It lives!

When we
sought refuge from a storm
we carried our houseplants
to the loft
on the third floor of the Putney
but in a struggle to maintain
wholeness of the 25 year old
'immoveable' cactus,
going through the outer lobby door
a major branch of
the ancient being
was caught and severed.
we gathered up the heavy piece
and toted it up three floors in the elevator
to its waiting
new home.
When we set it down
on the kitchen counter it wept white
So did the major stalk.
But then Dee found a pot
that exclaimed joy
and put the broked piece
in some soil from the major terra
cotta urn.
The piece did not die.
On the window sill
overlooking the struggling
Clarke Hotel
the piece throws out new leaves
in the northwestern sun
ahead of the spines to come.
(footnote: In the rarified air of the downtown,
the Clarke fights on. The liquor license remains
operative for another 60 days. LIVE ON!)

Dee is a craftswoman. Our nephew Luke in Pleasant Valley has a birthday on July Fourth. Usually she comes up with a home-made greeting card for him - as she does for other family members - and this year looked up another significance for the Fourth of July.
It turns out Independence Day is also known as National Fry An Egg On the Sidewalk Day.
So Dee made a birthday card for Luke on that theme. For the pavement she clipped a piece of sandpaper........