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Mourning for Our Country

Nov. 10  2010

I mourn the path my country is taking, and the social forces
that drive it so.  This, on a cloudless crisp fall day, trees in
color, beautiful beyond words.  We expect the seasons to turn.
May our country, also.

Halstead


5 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. Halstead Harrison #
    1

    Hi,

    A lady I don’t remember meeting, and perhaps never met, has become an occasional pen pal on a high-school email list. [Wow! 60 years ago.] She recently asked me to expand on my
    mailing, explaining what I meant by ‘my country turning’. The request is reasonable, but I’ve had trouble putting it into one or two paragraphs. This present comment is a backswing, for practice.

    Since 1970, ruffly, our country has been in noticeable decline: Real wages for our lower third decay, money diverted to our upper third expands. The middle third works harder to stay even, mostly by putting our women to work at the cost of less personal child care. Most of our working women, I would guess, would rather not. ‘Women’s Lib’ has costs.

    Foreign debts grow faster than our economy. Our schools decay, both absolutely and comparatively. Health care and college
    costs both rise faster than family incomes. Single parenthood has become a norm, not an exception. Our prison population expands faster than our census count. ‘Defense’ costs expand faster than federal income.

    Defense against who? We fight too many wars. Since 1970 we’ve lost ALL of them and are losing another one now.

    The election of 2008 offered a hope of ‘transformation’. I’m not quite sure what
    that means, but I perceived it as led by a thoughtful person of good will, with congressional majorities to sustain reformative legislation.

    We got:

    1) A health care bill, imperfect but with machinery in place both to expand coverage and control expanding costs.

    2) A weak but finitely useful bill partially to re-regulate the financial industry, a parasitic activity which grew from about 7% of the GDP in 1970 to 17% today.

    3) An unskillful financial bailout package that plausibly was less damaging than none at all. It was ‘top down’, rather than ‘bottom up’ [jobs]. Never ask a financier how to spend money.

    4) And more. Useful, but less notable.

    During this period of finite but nspectacular reform, a growing counter voice of “No” offered no sensible alternatives. We have
    now turned to a party expressing mindless anger, appealing to the lesser angels of our nature. Paralysis looms. Real problems intrude, and time’s a’wasting. Our GrandKids will be vexed.

    Sigh,
    Halstead

  2. theaveeditor #
    2

    From the Huff Post …

    MSNBC has suspended star anchor Keith Olbermann following the news that he had donated to three Democratic candidates this election cycle.

    “I became aware of Keith’s political contributions late last night. Mindful of NBC News policy and standards, I have suspended him indefinitely without pay,” MSNBC president Phil Griffin said in a statement.

    MSNBC’s policy does not block political co0ntributions. While Olbermann did fail to fill in some form notifying MSNC of his intent to contribute ~7500 to three candidates, it seems to me that this is self censorship.

    Remember how many of us were complicit in the McCarthy era!

  3. Steves #
    3

    There is a lesson here.

    Somehow, American Universities have become unfanged. Where are the campus activists of the 6os and seventies?

    The Olbermann story si really the same thing. Universities claim to be fair and balanced but cringe when challenged by the far right. The same self censorship afflicts MSNBC.

    Comcast, owner of MSNBC, does not want to be charged with yellow journalism. If MSNBC is is too tinted with yellow journalism, then what would you like to see as a fair balance to Fox?

    The standards at MSNBC are left, but there are standards. The talkers do not lie, they do not out yell conservatives guests. MSNBC does not even have sock puppets like Williams, Combs, Cadell to represent the conservative side.

    This gives me a great idea. Now that they are (still) unemployed, I think that MSNBC should hire Christine O’Donnel and Sharon Angle as commentators so they can make MSNBC “Fair and Balanced!”

    Or maybe the UW ought to recruit Angel as President?

  4. Julia Deak #
    4

    Thank you for this thoughtful and clearly expressed discussion, and this great website! I agree that the UW should be way more active – can someone explain how it limits free speech? What we need much more of in this country is reasoned debate. Those of us who still know how to think should make it a priority to get out there and talk sense! There are too many voices saying nothing, and we don’t hear Obama’s often enough.

    btw, I signed a petition through Credo Mobile (a phone company and activist organization) to get Olbermann back on the air, and it looks like it worked:
    http://www.facebook.com/CREDO?v=wall&viewas=0

  5. theaveeditor #
    5

    Hello Julia,

    The lack of free speech is not so much overt as its is the result of a set of policies.

    e.g.

    The faculty senate chair serves for one year. He or she has little or no staff support. For example, while the admin ahs a very large team of attorneys, the senate is nit allowed to have any.

    Even the senate can only use the faculty mail list with approval of the admin. The only wide spread mail list on campus is run by the AAUP and they practice careful self censorship down to and including censoring posts they feel might be contentious.

    The only campus wide publications,other than the Daily, are PR vehicles run by the admin. These PR publications certainly do not accept contentious articles. There is a blog by the Senate but it has almost no content.

    The admin claims the right to bar political speech based on state law prohibiting use of state resources. In effect this means they could block a faculty meeting of MoveOn or the Tea Party. I do not know that they would do this but if they did, there is no apparent process for appeal.

    When Pres. Obama had a rally (paid for by the Dems) on campus, the admin sent out a mildly but clearly ntimidating letter about attendance on university time.

    A public meeting of the Presidential Search Committee last week attracted only TWO faculty participants. My impression is that the faculty, perhaps wrongly, felt the search committee was nto interested in opinions.

    Faculty I know, including myself, have been threatened with job loss or failure to be promoted if they spoke out on issues like racism in the Athletics Department or abuse of the rights of staff.

    All in all, I suspect the atmosphere at the UW is a lot like that at Boeing, Samsung, or Lenovo. It is highly controlled environment where the effective controls are most likley to be self imposed than overtly imposed by the admin.

    Editor, THE-Ave.US



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