<!-- Begin meta tags generated by ORblogs --> </meta name="keywords" content="progressive, liberal, politics, government, edit, language, grammar, accuracy, honesty, clarity, world, news, media" /> </> <!-- End meta tags generated by ORblogs -->> Editor at Large: March 2005

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Some people still love America

In response to our entry of March 28, "We're Number...uh..." an anonymous reader wrote:

"Good grief! Do you mean to tell me that you can't find at least ONE positive thing to say about the land of my birth, America? Let me tell you something...we may not be perfect, but this is STILL the greatest nation in the world and we still have it better off than a great many people. I think YOUR problem is that you have fallen into the trap of negativity and have not learned to count your blessings!!!

"Besides, as a lone parent I don't appreciate the slam on us. Just because you're married doesn't mean you are a better parent!"

We may, indeed, have fallen into the "trap of negativity" - especially since Bush was installed - but we can still find positive things to say about America. For example, some parts of South America are absolutely gorgeous and the northern part of North America (Canada) is relatively liberal. But you probably meant the U.S., in which case we can only say that, well, we still live here.

As to the "slam" on single parents: We assume you're referring to the statements "One-third of all U.S. children are born out of wedlock" and "One-half of all U.S. children will live in a one-parent house (CNN, Dec. 10, 2004)," which are not, in our opinion, slamming single parents but are questioning why there are so many children of unwed and single parents in this country. Perhaps we need to take a hard look at the political, economic, and social conditions that are contributing to such a trend?

Monday, March 28, 2005

We're Number...uh...

One? Not any more. According to the following list comparing the U.S.'s current rankings with those of the rest of the world, we're number one in nothing but weaponry, consumer spending, debt, and delusion. (Excerpted from "No 1? America by the numbers," by Michael Ventura.)

The United States is 49th in the world in literacy (the New York Times, Dec. 12, 2004).

The United States ranked 28th out of 40 countries in mathematical literacy (NYT, Dec. 12, 2004).

Twenty percent of Americans think the sun orbits the earth. Seventeen percent believe the earth revolves around the sun once a day (The Week, Jan. 7, 2005).

"The International Adult Literacy Survey...found that Americans with less than nine years of education 'score worse than virtually all of the other countries'" (The European Dream: How Europe's Vision of the Future Is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream, p. 78).

Our workers are so ignorant and lack so many basic skills that American businesses spend $30 billion a year on remedial training (NYT, Dec. 12, 2004).

"The European Union leads the U.S. in...the number of science and engineering graduates; public research and development (R&D) expenditures; and new capital raised" (The European Dream, p. 70).

"Europe surpassed the United States in the mid-1990s as the largest producer of scientific literature" (The European Dream, p. 70).

Nevertheless, Congress cut funds to the National Science Foundation. The agency will issue 1,000 fewer research grants this year (NYT, Dec. 21, 2004).

Foreign applications to U.S. grad schools declined 28 percent last year. Foreign student enrollment on all levels fell for the first time in three decades, but increased greatly in Europe and China. Last year Chinese grad-school graduates in the U.S. dropped 56 percent, Indians 51 percent, South Koreans 28 percent (NYT, Dec. 21, 2004).

The World Health Organization "ranked the countries of the world in terms of overall health performance, and the U.S. [was]...37th." In the fairness of health care, we're 54th. "The irony is that the United States spends more per capita for health care than any other nation in the world" (The European Dream, pp. 79-80).

"The U.S. and South Africa are the only two developed countries in the world that do not provide health care for all their citizens" (The European Dream, p. 80).

Lack of health insurance coverage causes 18,000 unnecessary American deaths a year (that's six times the number of people killed on 9/11) (NYT, Jan. 12, 2005).

"U.S. childhood poverty now ranks 22nd, or second to last, among the developed nations. Only Mexico scores lower" (The European Dream, p. 81). Been to Mexico lately? Does it look "developed" to you? Yet it's the only "developed" country to score lower in childhood poverty.

Twelve million American families--more than 10 percent of all U.S. households--"continue to struggle, and not always successfully, to feed themselves." Families that "had members who actually went hungry at some point last year" numbered 3.9 million (NYT, Nov. 22, 2004).

The United States is 41st in the world in infant mortality. Cuba scores higher (NYT, Jan. 12, 2005).

Women are 70 percent more likely to die in childbirth in America than in Europe (NYT, Jan. 12, 2005).

The leading cause of death of pregnant women in this country is murder (CNN, Dec. 14, 2004).

"Of the 20 most developed countries in the world, the U.S. was dead last in the growth rate of total compensation to its workforce in the 1980s.... In the 1990s, the U.S. average compensation growth rate grew only slightly, at an annual rate of about 0.1 percent" (The European Dream, p. 39). Yet Americans work longer hours per year than any other industrialized country, and get less vacation time.

"Sixty-one of the 140 biggest companies on the Global Fortune 500 rankings are European, while only 50 are U.S. companies" (The European Dream, p.66). "In a recent survey of the world's 50 best companies, conducted by Global Finance, all but one were European" (The European Dream, p. 69).

"Fourteen of the 20 largest commercial banks in the world today are European.... In the chemical industry, the European company BASF is the world's leader, and three of the top six players are European. In engineering and construction, three of the top five companies are European.... The two others are Japanese. Not a single American engineering and construction company is included among the world's top nine competitors. In food and consumer products, Nestle and Unilever, two European giants, rank first and second, respectively, in the world. In the food and drugstore retail trade, two European companies...are first and second, and European companies make up five of the top ten. Only four U.S. companies are on the list" (The European Dream, p. 68).

The United States has lost 1.3 million jobs to China in the last decade (CNN, Jan. 12, 2005).

U.S. employers eliminated 1 million jobs in 2004 (The Week, Jan. 14, 2005).

Three million six hundred thousand Americans ran out of unemployment insurance last year; 1.8 million--one in five--unemployed workers are jobless for more than six months (NYT, Jan. 9, 2005).

Japan, China, Taiwan, and South Korea hold 40 percent of our government debt. (That's why we talk nice to them.) "By helping keep mortgage rates from rising, China has come to play an enormous and little-noticed role in sustaining the American housing boom" (NYT, Dec. 4, 2004).

Sometime in the next 10 years Brazil will probably pass the U.S. as the world's largest agricultural producer. Brazil is now the world's largest exporter of chickens, orange juice, sugar, coffee, and tobacco. Last year, Brazil passed the U.S. as the world's largest beef producer. As a result, while we bear record trade deficits, Brazil boasts a $30 billion trade surplus (NYT, Dec.
12, 2004).

As of last June, the U.S. imported more food than it exported (NYT, Dec. 12, 2004).

Bush: 62,027,582 votes. Kerry: 59,026,003 votes. Number of eligible voters who didn't show up: 79,279,000 (NYT, Dec. 26, 2004). That's more than a third. If more than a third of Iraqis don't show for their election, no country in the world will think that election legitimate.

One-third of all U.S. children are born out of wedlock. One-half of all U.S. children will live in a one-parent house (CNN, Dec. 10, 2004).

"Americans are now spending more money on gambling than on movies, videos, DVDs, music, and books combined" (The European Dream, p. 28).

"Nearly one out of four Americans [believe] that using violence to get what they want is acceptable" (The European Dream, p. 32).

Forty-three percent of Americans think torture is sometimes justified, according to a PEW Poll (Associated Press, Aug. 19, 2004).

"Nearly 900,000 children were abused or neglected in 2002, the last year for which such data are available" (USA Today, Dec. 21, 2004).

"The International Association of Chiefs of Police said that cuts by the [Bush] administration in federal aid to local police agencies have left the nation more vulnerable than ever" (USA Today, Nov. 17, 2004).

No. 1? In most important categories we're not even in the Top 10 anymore. Not even close. The USA is No. 1 in nothing but weaponry, consumer spending, debt, and delusion.

Third World, here we come!

The headline of an article in yesterday's Washington Post says it all: "Business Sees Gain In GOP Takeover."

And if business is seeing a gain, that means the rest of us are seeing a loss.

Among the Post's sobering revelations:

"Fortune 500 companies that invested millions of dollars in electing Republicans are emerging as the earliest beneficiaries of a government controlled by President Bush and the largest GOP House and Senate majority in a half century.

"MBNA Corp., the credit card behemoth and fifth-largest contributor to Bush's two presidential campaigns, is among those on the verge of prevailing in an eight-year fight to curtail personal bankruptcies. Exxon Mobil Corp. and others are close to winning the right to drill for oil in Alaska's wildlife refuge, which they have tried to pass for better than a decade. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., another big contributor to Bush and the GOP, and other big companies recently won long-sought protections from class-action lawsuits."

What those corporations apparently fail to realize is that, if we're all working for them at minimum wage, we won't be able to buy their products. And if they force us to pay off the debts we incurred because they don't pay us enough to live, we won't be able to buy their products. And if they continue wrecking the environment, our health will suffer and we won't be able to buy their products.

And if we can't buy their products, business will go out of business.

Now that's a silver lining...


Friday, March 25, 2005

Bush: Loud on Schiavo, silent on Native American shootings

President Bush cut his vacation short to rush back to D.C. to sign a bill to keep Terry Schiavo alive, but so far he has said absolutely nothing in response to the second-worst school shooting in U.S. history. Could it be because the shooter and his victims - nine dead, seven wounded - were Native Americans?

Clyde Bellencourt, a Chippewa Indian who is the founder and national director of the American Indian Movement, said, "From all over the world we are getting letters of condolence, the Red Cross has come, but the so-called Great White Father in Washington hasn't said or done a thing. When people's children are murdered and others are in the hospital hanging on to life, he should be the first one to offer his condolences. . . . If this was a white community, I don't think he'd have any problem doing that."

The extent of the White House's response to the tragedy has been this 13-word statement from spokesman Scott McClellan: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who were killed."

We find it interesting that people who are too concerned about looking "good" - i.e., Bush and Republicans in general - usually end up doing bad.


Wednesday, March 23, 2005

From the mouth of a Republican

In response to the vote by Congress to allow federal courts to decide the fate of Terri Schiavo, the severely brain-damaged Florida woman who was recently taken off life support, Representative Christopher Shays (R-Connecticut) said:

"My party is demonstrating that they are for states' rights unless they don't like what states are doing. This couldn't be a more classic case of a state responsibility. This Republican Party of Lincoln has become a party of theocracy. There are going to be repercussions from this vote. There are a number of people who feel that the government is getting involved in their personal lives in a way that scares them."

We are among those people. And it's about time a Republican noticed what's happening here.


Laughing and crying simultaneously


From today's Washington Post:

"Swiss biotech firm Syngenta AG said yesterday that over a four-year period it inadvertently sold U.S. farmers an unapproved strain of genetically modified corn seed that may have also entered the food supply and international export channels.

"Syngenta, as well as three federal regulatory agencies investigating the sales, cautioned that the mistake posed no health risks because the unapproved strain is virtually identical, genetically, to an approved strain of corn seed that the company markets.

"The firm said the amount of unapproved corn planted from 2001 until it discovered and reported the mistake to regulators last December was 'very little,' amounting to 37,000 acres out of the 320 million acres planted during that period across the United States.

"...industry observers said Syngenta's problems would likely stoke long-simmering concerns over the biotech industry's ability to control the technology."

Inability to "control the technology" has always been the problem, hasn't it? Didn't any of these bioengineers watch "Jurassic Park"?


Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Why is Bush still president?

According to a new poll by Newsweek, Bush's numbers are down on just about every issue. His approval ratings are negative on the federal budget deficit (29 percent approve, 60 percent disapprove), health care (34 percent to 56 percent), the economy (42 percent to 51 percent), the situation in Iraq (41 percent versus 54 percent), and the environment (41 percent approve, 45 percent disapprove).

Please tell us again: How was it that Bush got elected? And why is it that he's still president?


Thursday, March 17, 2005

Quote of the day

"Elsewhere, moments after President Bush nominated him to head up the World Bank, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz accused the International Monetary Fund of possessing weapons of mass destruction and said he would lead a coalition of other banks to invade it."


Monday, March 14, 2005

We report, you decide

A study conducted by the Project for Excellence in Journalism found that - surprise! - Fox "News" is mostly opinion.

For example, they found that in covering the Iraq war last year, 73 percent of the stories on Fox News included the opinions of the anchors and journalists reporting them. By contrast, 29 percent of the war reports on MSNBC and 2 percent of those on CNN included the journalists' own views.

Fox News's response to the study? "I encourage the anchors to be themselves," said Fox's executive daytime producer, Jerry Burke. "I'm certainly not going to step in and censor an anchor on any issue. . . . You don't want to look at a cookie-cutter, force-feeding of the same items hour after hour. I think that's part of the success of the channel, not treating our anchors like drones. They're, number one, Americans, and number two, human beings, as well as journalists."

So in other words, Fox News freely admits that journalism comes in dead last in its heirarchy of priorities - while being an American is first.

Doesn't that give you a warm, fuzzy feeling...to go along with your warm, fuzzy brain?


Thursday, March 10, 2005

The religious right makes a left turn

How's this for ironic? A group of evangelical leaders is flexing its political muscle to fight global warming. Members of the group, which includes church leaders, scientists, writers, and heads of international aid agencies, say that global warming is an urgent threat, a cause of poverty, and a Christian issue because the Bible mandates stewardship of God's creation.

The Rev. Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, a group of 51 church denominations, said he had become passionate about global warming because of his experience scuba diving and observing the effects of rising ocean temperatures and pollution on coral reefs. Recently the association adopted a platform called "For the Health of the Nation: An Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility," which included a plank on "creation care." The statement reads in part, "Because clean air, pure water and adequate resources are crucial to public health and civic order, government has an obligation to protect its citizens from the effects of environmental degradation."

Hear, hear, but we wonder if this means the religious right will stop emitting so much hot air over gay marriage...


Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Find the boo boo

See if you can spot the typo in this headline from today's Corvallis Gazette-Times:

"OSU revisits consentual relationship policies"

The typo is completely understandable, of course, since it involves changing a "t" to an "s" when going from the root noun to the adjective. Also, there may be something Freudian going on with the headline writer: he/she may be afraid of the word "sensual."


Thursday, March 03, 2005

Understating the obvious

Two headlines in today's NY Times are contenders for Understatement of the Year:

"New Poll Finds Bush Priorities Are Out of Step With Americans"

"Greenspan Says Federal Budget Deficits Are 'Unsustainable'"

It's comforting to know that someone is paying attention out there.


Does it even matter...

...that 1,500 U.S. soldiers have now been killed in Iraq?

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Bush steps up efforts to unite church and state

It just keeps getting scarier and scarier. Speaking at a White House conference on faith-based and community initiatives yesterday, Bush renewed his commitment to promoting taxpayer-funded social welfare through religious groups. He highlighted legislation, heading to the House floor today, that would allow religious charities that receive federal funds to hire and fire employees based on their religious beliefs. Bush warned that if Congress does not follow his lead, he will try to circumvent lawmakers by using executive powers.

What would Jesus do? Probably weep.