Browsing articles in "Politics"
Nov 1, 2012

“Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” ― George Bernard Shaw

Fast Food worker strike — soaring DOW — it is ever thus.

Written by Kate Crane Gartz, my Great Grandmother, on June 30, 1928 to then-President Calvin Coolidge:

Why don’t you use your friendly influence on your friend “Mr. X” whose Common Stock dividend in his [company]has averaged 29% in the last ten years and who declared a 200% stock dividend …and is now permitting his workers to strike against a 10% reduction in their wages? What more do the greedy employers want, and what does the Government want, or expect, by permitting people to strike for common decency to say nothing of Justice?  Why should I, way out here … be telegraphed to help feed the people he is trying to starve into submission?

Did you not happen to notice that “Mr. Y” has resigned from the Presidency of Chicago University and has accepted a job in the Rockefeller Institute to try to solve the problem of unhappiness and poverty?

How will it ever be done as long as friends of presidents use un-Christian, inhuman methods in their business dealings with men whose jobs they own?

“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”
- Albert Einstein







Oct 30, 2012

Not Voting Is A Choice. Is It A Vote?

One of Mark’s favorite sayings is “No answer is an answer.”  I understand exactly what he says and I am coming around to the same view.  Now I am wondering if no vote is a vote.

A vote of no confidence.  A vote of disgust.  Or as one of the people I reached when I was calling for Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio), a vote of not making a choice between two people she hated:  “I wouldn’t vote for either of those guys if you paid me a million dollars.”

If not voting is a vote, then Hawai`i could move itself to the top of the list from the bottom.  100% of the people in Hawai`i voted — up from 48.% in the last election, the lowest voter turn out in the country.  What if not turning out was a vote?

So if voting is a right not a privlege, is it your right not to vote?

When I was making calls for Sherrod Brown two people said they weren’t voting.  Mostly people hang up.   Someone said they were voting for Josh Mandel.  I asked if I could ask him why? “Because he’s new, and I don’t like the way things are going.”  I wonder if he knows Mandel, a 35-year-old ex-Marine who has raised $20M+ through conservative backers, has appalled Ohio’s socially progressive Jews — who are still the clear majority — with an anti-abortion stance that has included calling the Indiana Senate nominee Richard Mourdock a “class act” after Mourdock said pregnancy resulting from rape was “something that God intended to happen” and life was always “a gift from God.”

Here’s what I wish:  that the guy I talked to will exercise his right not to vote.

I have called for Alan Grayson, Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown.  Conclusion:  people are meanest in Massachusetts, nicest in Floria and somewhere in between in Ohio.  I have been tempted to tell the people I am calling “You’ve just won a trip to Hawai`i” to get them to listen to me.

I am going to vote.  I hope that Democrats vote.  I hope Republicans exercise their right not to vote.  Heresy I know.

Sign up to help at  Your country thanks you.


Oct 25, 2012

Vote Party NOT Person

Boo Hoo

As a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat, this seems like an obvious strategic move to me.  Independents say they vote for the person, not the party, but I personally think that is either chicken or uninformed.  If you have lived in the U.S.A. most of your life, and especially the last four years, it should be clear that (in most cases) not voting on party lines is a wasted vote.  This is not a great situation, but it is the  situation, and the Tea Party made it clear in 2010.  Their witless elected representatives’ votes accrued to the Republican party, which became the party of no.

Yesterday I was making calls for Alan Grayson (Florida Democrat, straight up truth teller) and one person told me he was going to vote for Alan, but he was also going to vote for Mitt Romney.  Since it wasn’t a personal call I was making, I didn’t say  ”WTF?” but let’s be honest:  if Alan Grayson is your man, Mitt Romney cannot be your choice for president.  On the positive side, lots of people with foreign accents told me they were voting Democrat all the way and if Alan was a Dem, he would get their vote.  Recently naturalized citizens get it.

I admit, on a rare occasion there might be a Republican I would consider, but given our current situation in the U.S. Legislature. that’s a real long shot.  Chales D’Jou might be not a bad candidate, but Colleen Hanabusa is a Democrat and I personally know her to be a brilliant legislator.  So that vote is not a problem.  Mazie Hirono will be my choice for Senate, but only because she is a Democrat.

Rachel Maddow pointed out that  in the case of a tie in the Electoral College what to do has been decided by our forefathers.  If there is a 269 to 269 tie, each state gets one vote in the House and each Senator gets one vote.  The representatives and senators designated to vote are those voted into office in the previous November, and taking office in January.  There is a possibility that we could have a Republican President and a Democratic Vice President.  In the event of ties in the votes of the State representatives, the Speaker of the House gets the job.

Here’s your real reason to vote party lines, especially if you are a Democrat:   We could have a President John Boehner.  Boehner the stooge for the Tea Party, Boehner the say-no-to-everything guy, Boehner the guy who heads up a congress with 10% approval, Boehner the cry baby.  Can you imagine the waterworks on Inauguration Day?

I am thinking that sentinent Republicans might be willing to cross over to the dark side at the mention of a President Boehner.  What say you folks who regret letting the Tea Party and the neo-cons get a majority in our “beloved” Congress?  John Boehner can’t lead his way out of a paper bag.

Too bad that the writers and signers of the constitution couldn’t have foreseen a House of Representatives filled with people like Eric Cantor and Todd Akin, or a Senate minority leader who looks like a waxen human-turtle hybrid and who dedicates himself to undermining the Presidency and, by dint of doing that, our entire country.


Aug 14, 2012

Republican Convention = Laff Factory

Money Shot

If you thought the introduction of the little known right wing governor from Alaska was good, wait until the Republican Convention featuring the empty suit, Dracula’s heir and son of the Pillsbury Doughboy.

I am hoping MoveOn and other Dems can sneak some protestors in so that Fat Boy Chris Christie can respond to taunts with his favorite f-bombs and personal attacks.  Did you think the staged introduction of Ryan from a battleship of our country’s military which neither Mitt nor Paul served in was ridiculous?  Then you will love Republican Convention 2012.

Early leaks say that Ryan will be introduced to Queen’s “We Are the Champions,” as he appears from underneath the stage in a cloud of dry ice, shirtless.  Joining him on stage will be the other stooges who are in his congressional P90X workout sessions.  Following this, Republican body builders from all walks of life will join him on stage and execute poses to “Eye of the Tiger.”

(For those of you who didn’t already know, the career Paul Ryan left to pursue public service ~ so eloquently pandered by Mitt Romney ~ was that of a personal trainer.  No kidding.  Other than his years as a personal trainer, Dracula-cum-Charles-Atlas has been on the public dole.

After the muscle beach demonstration, Mitt will appear on stage as the ceiling lets loose several million one dollar bills.  Because the bills will be on loan from the Koch brothers, Republican diversity will be on display as three Filipino gardeners gather them up with giant gas powered leaf blowers, emblazoned with the words “Frack You, Obama.”

Then, time for the keynote speech which will be given by none other than the Republican proof that obesity is not on their platform.  Chris Christie, elected Governor of the state that gave us Snookie and The Situation, will be lifted to the podium on a forklift, buoyed by a rendition of “He’s Not Heavy, He’s [our ] Brother” sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.   Having realized that neither his business career nor his stint as Governor of Massachusetts were popular with voters, Romney will have flung caution to the wind and embraced his religion with a vengeance.

Following Christie’s speech, which will criticize school children everywhere, Romney will introduce us to his other wives.

For the  anti-abortionist Tea Party members, action games outside the convention floor will include the smashing of birthcontrol pill containers and free practice on willing models with a transvaginal ultrasound.  Gun lovers will be able to practice with real Kalishnikovs, shooting in a range where the targets will be “lifelike photos” Obama, Martin Luther King Jr, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Charlie Rangel.  For those who bring their elders, Throw Granny in a Dumpster will be the game for them to play.

Convention swag will include Louis Vuitton bags filled with pistols, fill-in-your-name concealed carry licenses, and a coupon book with ten years of get-out-of-paying-taxes cards.   Comely women offering free Cuban cigars will be accompanied by young children carrying signs which say”Rules do not apply to Republicans.”

Mark your calendars now:  The real end of the world is in Tampa Florida on August 27, 2012.





Aug 3, 2012

Romney’s Culture Clunker

The op-ed below written by Pulitzer prize winner Jared Diamond (no relation to corrupt banker Jamie Dimond) offers a frighteningly insightful analysis into Romney latest blunders in Israel.

Romney Hasn’t Done His Homework


Published: August 1, 2012 343 Comments

MITT ROMNEY’S latest controversial remark, about the role of culture in explaining why some countries are rich and powerful while others are poor and weak, has attracted much comment. I was especially interested in his remark because he misrepresented my views and, in contrasting them with another scholar’s arguments, oversimplified the issue.

It is not true that my book “Guns, Germs and Steel,” as Mr. Romney described it in a speech in Jerusalem, “basically says the physical characteristics of the land account for the differences in the success of the people that live there. There is iron ore on the land and so forth.”

That is so different from what my book actually says that I have to doubt whether Mr. Romney read it. My focus was mostly on biological features, like plant and animal species, and among physical characteristics, the ones I mentioned were continents’ sizes and shapes and relative isolation. I said nothing about iron ore, which is so widespread that its distribution has had little effect on the different successes of different peoples. (As I learned this week, Mr. Romney also mischaracterized my book in his memoir, “No Apology: Believe in America.”)

That’s not the worst part. Even scholars who emphasize social rather than geographic explanations — like the Harvard economist David S. Landes, whose book “The Wealth and Poverty of Nations” was mentioned favorably by Mr. Romney — would find Mr. Romney’s statement that “culture makes all the difference” dangerously out of date. In fact, Mr. Landes analyzed multiple factors (including climate) in explaining why the industrial revolution first occurred in Europe and not elsewhere.

Just as a happy marriage depends on many different factors, so do national wealth and power. That is not to deny culture’s significance. Some countries have political institutions and cultural practices — honest government, rule of law, opportunities to accumulate money — that reward hard work. Others don’t. Familiar examples are the contrasts between neighboring countries sharing similar environments but with very different institutions. (Think of South Korea versus North Korea, or Haiti versus the Dominican Republic.) Rich, powerful countries tend to have good institutions that reward hard work. But institutions and culture aren’t the whole answer, because some countries notorious for bad institutions (like Italy and Argentina) are rich, while some virtuous countries (like Tanzania and Bhutan) are poor.

A different set of factors involves geography, which embraces many more aspects than the physical characteristics Mr. Romney dismissed. One such geographic factor is latitude, which has big effects on wealth and power today: tropical countries tend to be poorer than temperate-zone countries. Reasons include the debilitating effects of tropical diseases on life span and work, and the average lower productivity of agriculture and soils in the tropics than in the temperate zones.

A second factor is access to the sea. Countries without a seacoast or big navigable rivers tend to be poor, because transport costs overland or by air are much higher than transport costs by sea.

A third geographic factor is the history of agriculture. If an extraterrestrial had toured earth in the year 2000 B.C., the visitor would have noticed that centralized government, writing and metal tools were already widespread in Eurasia but hadn’t yet appeared in the New World, sub-Saharan Africa or Australia. That long head start would have let the visitor predict correctly that today, most of the world’s richest and most powerful countries would be Eurasian countries (and their overseas settlements in North America, Australia and New Zealand).

The reason is the historical effect of geography: 13,000 years ago, all peoples everywhere were hunter-gatherers living in sparse populations without centralized government, armies, writing or metal tools. These four roots of power arose as consequences of the development of agriculture, which generated human population explosions and accumulations of food surpluses capable of feeding full-time leaders, soldiers, scribes and inventors. But agriculture could originate only in those few regions endowed with many wild plant and animal species suitable for domestication, like wild wheat, rice, pigs and cattle.

In short, geographic explanations and cultural-institutional explanations aren’t independent of each other. Of course, not all agricultural regions developed honest centralized government, but no nonagricultural region ever developed any centralized government, whether honest or dishonest. That’s why institutions promoting wealth today arose first in Eurasia, the area with the oldest and most productive agriculture.

What does this mean for Americans? Can we assume that the United States, blessed with temperate location and seacoasts and navigable rivers, will remain rich forever, while tropical or landlocked countries are doomed to eternal poverty?

Of course not. Some tropical and subtropical countries have become richer despite geographic limitations. They’ve invested in public health to overcome their disease burdens (Botswana and the Philippines). They’ve invested in crops adapted to the tropics (Brazil and Malaysia). They’ve focused their economies on sectors other than agriculture (Singapore and Taiwan).

Conversely, geographic advantages don’t guarantee permanent success, as the growing difficulties in Europe and America show. We Americans fail to provide superior education and economic incentives to much of our population. India, China and other countries that have not been world leaders are investing heavily in education, technology and infrastructure. They’re offering economic opportunities to more and more of their citizens. That’s part of the reason jobs are moving overseas. Our geography won’t keep us rich and powerful if we can’t get a good education, can’t afford health care and can’t count on our hard work’s being rewarded by good jobs and rising incomes.

Mitt Romney may become our next president. Will he continue to espouse one-factor explanations for multicausal problems, and fail to understand history and the modern world? If so, he will preside over a declining nation squandering its advantages of location and history.

Jared Diamond, a professor of geography at the University of California, Los Angeles, is the author of the forthcoming book “The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn From Traditional Societies?”


Gloria. Circa 1955.

Gloria. Circa 2012.

Other than working for the American Red Cross in Korea for two years, Gloria Garvey has lived in Hawai`i since 1971. Her opinion and other writing has appeared in: The American Philatelist. Honolulu Weekly, The Honolulu Advertiser, The Honolulu Star Bulletin, The Star Advertiser, Hawai`i Reporter, Pacific Business News, Island Scene, The Design Management Journal.

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