“Obama’s Birth Certificate”
Posted in General Topics, National Issues July 30th, 2009 by admin

Any reasonably sane person will admit this ‘birther’ movement is comprised entirely of nut jobs. I understand in any number of circumstances, calling activists ‘nut jobs’ does quite a bit to damage the activist voice, from either side of the isle, in a country dominated by a sensationalist new media which picks and chooses its message.

Still, it seems everyone but the very, very far right group of insane people can agree that this claim that Obama wasn’t born in Hawaii is distracting responsible people, as well as the news media, from more important issues… like health care reform!

Admittedly, I haven’t paid real close attention to the ‘birther’ news cycle simply because its a stupid argument to make. Its been proven. Its been proven more than once. And don’t even get me started on self-proclaimed ‘Mr. Independent.’ Lou Dobbs is a right-wing groupie posing as a responsible journalist. You think I’m wrong? Hell, even FOX’s Bill O’Reilly lends no credence to the ‘birther’s’ claims.

Here’s a pretty entertaining mash-up, of sorts, from Media Matters:

Here’s a hilarious comic by Matt Wuerker sent to me as my daily cartoon from the Center for American Progress. Its just priceless:


There’s a small part of me that just feels sorry for these ‘birther’ people who can’t seem to find a better outlet for the frustration. Or for their insanity.

Only Single-Payer Can Save Us
Posted in General Topics, Health Care June 20th, 2009 by admin

Here’s some statistics for you to chew on:

  • Currently, health care costs account for approximately 20 percent of our GDP. It is estimated that by 2025 that number will increase to 25 percent. By 2040, it will be 34 percent.
  • By 2040, the number of uninsured will jump from 42 million today to 76 million.
  • From 1996 to 2006, the cost of health care in this country has doubled.
  • Today there are more than 1,300 insurance companies operating in the US.
  • A recent study found that insured families are paying a “hidden tax of more than $1,000″ a year to help cover the cost of treating the uninsured.

These are stark figures and they only begin to paint a picture of just how much trouble we’re in with our current health care system.

Among the industrialized world, patients in the US pay more for their health care than any other. Among the industrialized world, the US is home to more uninsured than any other. And, according to studies conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Commonwealth Fund, not only do we pay more for health care than any other first world country, but that high cost doesn’t necessarily translate to better care. (more…)

congress: no friend to blue-collar workers
Posted in General Topics December 4th, 2008 by admin

so i’ve become a big fan of podcasts. i know they’ve been around a while, but i’m just now getting on the bandwagon, so to speak. i listen (or try to) everyday to a handful of various news podcasts, including the bbc, democracy now, the economist, and the rachel maddow show. its this last one that has, over the last week or so, repeatedly covered or commented on the auto industry bailout… or lack thereof.

admittedly, i was against the bailout of the mortgage industry, big banks, and wall street. there is no doubt in my mind that they, with the help of lax regulation and oversight, have put us in this mess. it was their blind gluttony at the expense of everyone else that has pretty much tanked the US and world economy. (more…)

On Marriage for Same-Sex Couples
Posted in General Topics August 5th, 2008 by admin

(written for a talk on 8/6/08 to the Interfaith Alliance)

Alan asked that I join him today in talking to you on the topic of marriage for same-sex couples and I thank you for having me.

To start, I’ll share with you a bit of information that caught Alan by surprise and may surprise you as well; I’m not a member of the GLBT community. I am a heterosexual, single man. What’s more, there is no one in my family, as far as I know, who is a member of the GLBT community.

A few months back I, along with a few other members from the FEC (Family Equality Coalition), met with Senator Hooser to discuss legislation relating to the issue of marriage for same-sex couples. To open the meeting, each member introduced him or herself and gave a brief statement as to why they felt strongly about the issue. When my turn came, I told the Senator that the issue didn’t affect me directly, but I was interested in the the issue as a matter of social justice. (more…)

in finding the democratic candidate…
Posted in General Topics April 8th, 2008 by admin

let me start by first saying that i don’t currently support, nor subscribe to, either of the remaining democratic presidential campaigns.  the candidate i supported was forced to drop out prior to super tuesday and since then i’ve been a man without a candidate.  however, given the groundswell of support from progressives countrywide, i do tend to lean ever so slightly toward senator obama.

given that, i still have problems with both candidates and their apparent attitude of ‘do what it takes to win’ whether it might actually be right or fair.  there is no doubt that campaign politics are not for the faint of heart.

i read this morning an opinion article from salon titled, why hillary clinton should be winning.  if you’ve never visited salon before, let me tell you my impression is they are a open-minded, fair, and progressive news source.

the author raises a question which, having not asked it myself, i thought was interesting.  why don’t the democratic primaries function under the principle of ‘winner take all’ as do the general elections?  the author lays out his case that, if the democratic primaries functioned more like the general election, it would be hillary, not obama, that would be winning.  and not just winning; she’d have a commanding lead and would likely and easily clinch the nomination months prior to the national convention in august. (more…)

closed primaries in hawaii
Posted in General Topics December 15th, 2007 by admin

see my post on this issue here.

the myth of american conservatism
Posted in General Topics, Media June 15th, 2007 by admin

i imagine most of you are aware of the media matters for america organizational website, but if you’re not you should check it out because they do a good job shining the spotlight on major new media when they aren’t walking the straight and narrow, so to speak.

with all the sites i try to visit everyday, i admit i don’t go to this site very often, but i was browsing yesterday and came across a report that was put together by media matters regarding the progressive majority and the myth that america is by and large a conservative nation.

personally, i’ve felt this way for a while, though clearly didn’t have this kind of data to back up my ‘hunch’. a similar (maybe in a more playful way) approach to this subject is taken up by Thomas Frank in his book What’s the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America. of course, it’s a great book that i recommend (if you ask nicely, i may let you borrow mine).

anyway, the report, titled The Progressive Majority: Why a Conservative American Is a Myth, is quite insightful (or at least i think so) and is full of statistics gathered over years by nonpartisan sources. while i’ve still got a bit to get through, i thought i’d share.

while, as they say, the devil is in the details, and while this report doesn’t (at least not yet) go into details regarding issues, the numbers don’t lie. the majority of the people in this country are at least progressive leaning, even if they wouldn’t use the term ‘progressive.’ i think this report is just what progressive need to direct the conversation away from the conservative talking heads and even mainstream news media. i think this is a report everyone should read, especially those who don’t already call themselves progressives (i call myself a liberal, but mostly to annoy people).

how can we begin framing the national debate in terms of what this report presents? i’ve already started thinking about….

post-election overhaul
Posted in General Topics, War November 9th, 2006 by admin

so, in case you haven’t noticed, i have done a less than stellar job with this site this far.  i admit to being busy with the mid-term election activity here in hawaii and haven’t given this site the attention i think it deserves.  and now i’m acknowledging that fact.

as such, i’m going to give proper notice that the people’s dialectic will undergo an overhaul to improve the look of the site, as well as its content.  please be patient… and in the meantime, please check out regardingfrost and the pdh-blog.


Changing the World….
Posted in General Topics, War August 22nd, 2006 by admin

Here in America, the media bombards the public with all sorts of entertainment, advertisements, and information. If I were to ask someone to describe what they consider to be news, I would suspect a natural response to be “current events” or “world events” or “local events.” Some might include sports and weather in defining ‘news’, but would anyone offer as their first response, “celebrity adoptions, marriages, diets of the stars, or celebrity culture”? I suppose it’s possible, but I certainly don’t know anyone who would.

Yet, occasionally when I sit and watch the news, whether it is CNN or the local ten o’clock news, they all seem to have a greater proportion of their broadcast dedicated to entertainment news than to world news. That’s right. According to the news, the lives of celebrities have reached the same level of importance as world events.

I am often awestruck, while standing in line at supermarkets, by the sheer number of pop magazines: Star, People… I don’t even know the names of the rest. Amongst all those pop magazines and tabloids I rarely see more than one or two news magazines: no Time, no Newsweek, no The Economist or others of the genre. How is it possible that more people in this country vote for the next big star on American Idol than for the President of the United States? How have we come to care so little about all the things that happen to the people in this world, both good and bad? How have we, as a society, become so uninterested in our own lives and our world? Entertainment news and sensationalism has captured the hearts, minds and ever-deteriorating attention span of the American public.

Well, actually, the answer to these questions is simple, though understandably hard to swallow. We have been trained to care more about Tom Cruise and Britney Spears than about populations devastated by hunger and war. We have been conditioned to be more interested in reality television and celebrity gossip than about our own lives and the future of our children. News has been condensed into small, quick, and ready to swallow sounds bites. We have come to trust CNN to define what is important. If it’s not covered by CNN, it can’t possibly be of much consequence.

Our current government, with the help of the news networks and media conglomerates in this country, has become skilled at keeping us both frightened and distracted. Threats to our safety and our freedom abound, so they tell us just before giving us the skinny on the newest celebrity gossip or exciting us with a preview of the hottest new blockbuster. Important topics like homelessness or our children’s education have been relegated to sound bites or the news ticker.

Walter Lippman, who was an adviser to President Woodrow Wilson, called this kind of distraction and filtering of information “manufacturing consent”. Lippman believed democracies, such as ours, should be led by a specialized class which was capable of processing and understanding the complex world while the large majority of the population, “the bewildered herd,” needed to be kept frightened and distracted so as to keep them passive. Failing at this task meant members of the herd may start to think for themselves. It happened during the 1930s and again during the 1960s and the specialized class called this uprising of the herd a “crisis of democracy”.

Sadly, we have again been lulled into complacency and lost the ability to think rationally for ourselves. It seems to me, though, there is a solution. There is a way forward. Certainly, one can look at the world around us and feel discouraged. Certainly, one can say to themselves, “I’m just one person, what can I do?” These are honest and relevant feelings, but we need not let them dictate our actions—or encourage our complacency. As much as our society has the seemingly endless capacity for war and violence, it also has an equal capacity for understanding and compassion. We need only decide to make an effort.

The best and easiest way to start is by questioning the world with which we are presented. One must not automatically accept as fact that which is presented on the news or in the paper. One must question. One must investigate. One must look for different perspectives; study both sides and alternative versions of what is presented as truth. CNN and FOX News do not have a monopoly on fact and truth. To some extent, we all have an instinct for truth, even if it’s a tool most have allowed to grow frail. I am no exception. I have only this year started exercising my skepticism.

If our leaders tell us we have a new enemy that hates us and wants to destroy our way of life, don’t readily believe the propaganda. Question their story and their motives. If our leaders tell us they have a plan to improve the education system or the economy, insist on learning the details. Question the plan and who might benefit. Treat their statements with skepticism and look for deviating commentary and dissenting opinions.

The next thing to do will, admittedly, take a bit more determination and will power; turn off the television. Redirect your interest away from celebrity culture. Ignore the sitcoms and reality shows. Some will argue these shows are entertaining and they are right. These shows are meant for nothing more than to entertain and distract you from the world and the reality that is taking place whether you choose to pay attention, or not.

This is not an easy pattern to change. We’ve been trained. Television is a nasty habit and America is hooked. I am no exception. I watch far less television than I once did and when I do watch I do it with more skepticism. I am repeatedly stunned by the way in which the media entertains us and by the merchandise corporations try to sell us. Some are really cool, but do I need any of them?

It is important to start a dialog. It is important to attempt to wake people up to their lives and the lives of those around them and across the globe. That is the first step toward improving the lives of people all around the world. Change isn’t easy and often isn’t accomplished without a fight. It is the bewildered herd to begin thinking, questioning, organizing, and halting the manufacture of consent.

Hello world!
Posted in General Topics, War July 7th, 2006 by admin

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