Happy Birthday Aaron
Happy Halloween Everyone
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:
So my 74th birthday came and went. My daughter sent me a number of interesting books with which to pass my time, including Neal Stephenson’s latest.
My sister held a small birthday party for me at her house in Berkeley. She gave me a wonderful present, a portrait of me painted with colored paper. Here is a photo of it.
She also cooked up some of my favorite things from my mother’s recipes including her version of cheese cake. My mother, although she was a great cook actually hated to cook, especially to bake. As a result she concentrated on reducing her recipes to the simplest ingredients necessary to appeal to the tastes of her family. Her cheese cake recipe added the step of beating the eggs to a froth producing a cheese cake as light as sponge cake but with all the flavor of something from Lindy’s.
My ex-daughter-in-law Ann told us that my grandson Aaron apparently has become quite the story-teller. At my granddaughter Athena’s 16th birthday party held at the Art complex at Hunters Point, the teenagers left the party to go to another room in the complex to spend most of the evening listening to Aaron tell ghost stories in honor of the season.
After the party I returned to El Dorado Hills and resumed my life as nanny. I spend most of the day while Triple H is in school reading the wonderful books my daughter sent to me.
It appears as though I may not return to Thailand at the end of November. Originally my daughter scheduled a conference for Bangkok in December. I had hoped to be there with her. The last time she and I traveled around that country was about twenty years ago. The conference has tentatively been moved to January.
Fall finally has begun here at the edge of the great Sacramento Valley. The mid-day temperature has dropped out of the 90’s and into the low 80’s and the morning temperatures are quite chilly. The trees for the past two weeks have begun their change to mostly red and brown. The brilliant yellows that have been so common in the area in past years have not yet appeared.
Speaking of the Sacramento Valley, there are places a few blocks from the house where on a clear day one can look across to valley and see the towers of downtown Sacramento on the horizon about 35 miles away.
I still have not resumed a consistent exercise program and have gained more weight than I would like. I blame my lethargy on my happy pills. While they certainly keep the screaming avatars of depression and despair from tearing through my consciousness, the rest of my body seems not to have benefited yet. Today however, I plan a long walk along the trails that snake out from the local park into what passes for wilderness among the subdivisions. Good for me.
B. ENTER THE DRAGON:
Eddie Mars: Your story didn’t sound quite right.
Philip Marlowe: Oh, that’s too bad. You got a better one?
Eddie Mars: Maybe I can find one.
While waiting to Mavis to change I received a call from the grieving widow Madame Riley.
“Did you forget about me?” She said. “We were going to talk about finding out how Clarence died.”
“No I didn’t,” I lied. “I have been clearing up a few things first,” I lied some more.
“When will you be free to talk about it?”
“How about this evening, say about 8PM at La Taverna in Belden Alley? Do you know where it is?”
She did and after passing a few more pleasantries she hung up. I had forgotten all about my discussion with her yesterday. “Well another day another thousand dollars,” I thought. I felt confident I could put together a report that would give her and her attorneys a fighting chance with the insurance company.
“Who was that” asked Mavis as she finished dressing? She looked like she was prepared for a two-week camping trip into the Sierras. She wore brown hiking boots, dun-colored cargo pants a checkered long sleeve shirt and a well-worn brown leather jacket.
“Just some business,” I replied.
We left and got in to the car. I put Mavis in the back seat this time. As I got into the passenger seat I asked Joe Vu, “do you have your gun with you? We may need it.”
“You never need a gun,” he responded. “But sometimes it can be useful.”
“Asshole,” I thought.
We traveled down the peninsula passing over Skyline Ridge to Half Moon Bay, then down PCH to the turn off to Pescadero. Pescadero was a tiny town nestled in a valley about a mile or two from the coast. It was noted for antique shops, pottery studios and a popular restaurant specializing in a cuisine focused of the many ways artichokes can be incorporated into a meal.
We passed into the low hills beyond the town and through several rural roads until as directed by Mavis we turned into a dirt driveway that seemed, given the mail boxes impaled near the turnoff, to service four properties that were hidden somewhere over a small rise. As we topped the rise we ran into a cop car blocking the road. Yellow crime scene tape connected several trees around a small clapboard house with peeling white paint and a tiny porch. Other official vehicles including an ambulance were scattered under the trees that surrounded the cottage.
“Oh shit,” I said as a group of uniformed individuals paused in their discussions and looked our way. A woman in a brown sheriff’s uniform broke away from the group and began walking in our direction. She had dark curly red hair, broad masculine shoulders and walked with the slightly waddling gait of a weight lifter.
I heard Mavis behind me say, “oh my God. Something’s happened to Mark.”
“Listen,” I said to the others in the car, “I’ll do the talking and try to find out what happened.” At first I though I’d lie and tell them that we were just taking a drive, but immediately thought better of it. If they found out later we were lying we’d come under scrutiny and scrutiny was something I hated.
As the woman came closer something about her struck me as familiar. I rolled down the window as she approached. “What’s up officer?” I said as she got within conversation range.
Excerpt from Harvard Business Review article entitled “Why Do So Many Men become Incompetent Leaders.”
“In my view, the main reason for the uneven management sex ratio is our inability to discern between confidence and competence. That is, because we (people in general) commonly misinterpret displays of confidence as a sign of competence, we are fooled into believing that men are better leaders than women. In other words, when it comes to leadership, the only advantage that men have over women (e.g., from Argentina to Norway and the USA to Japan) is the fact that manifestations of hubris — often masked as charisma or charm — are commonly mistaken for leadership potential, and that these occur much more frequently in men than in women.”
C. A Blast From The Past: Populism and Fred Harris
On April 24, 2010 I published the following as my first post in the liberal blog Daily Kos. I thought now, over three years later, it would be interesting to look at it again and see how it stands up to the test of time.
“For those not as old as me and for those who may have forgotten or missed it completely, Fred Harris briefly ran for President of the United States during the primaries of 1972 and 1976. In 1976, Jim Hightower was his national campaign manager and I was a volunteer on the California campaign tasked with preparing a handbook for his efforts in the California primary. The handbook was a collection of selections from the writings and speeches of Fred Harris arranged by topic so that campaign workers could respond to inquires about the candidate in his own words.
After rereading the contents of that long ago document from a now forgotten campaign, I realized how much of what Fred had to say remained relevant now despite the subsequent destruction of the historical American political consensus by the Californian and Texan presidential administrations. So I thought I would begin my diaries by examining some of the issues we face today in the light of what Fred Harris had to say about them 34 years ago.
But first a little about Fred Harris. Fred had been an US Senator from Oklahoma when that state still had a strong progressive populist tradition. Although he started out as a classic liberal, he eventually classified himself, and was in turn identified by the media, as a populist.
Populism deserves a diary of its own. It is a word often used in political discourse, but lacking a clear referent, is more a space filler than informative. For the purpose of this diary I believe it is probably sufficient to view Populism as a response by the populace of that time to specific perceived threats to their liberty and economic well-being. Beyond dealing with those threats populism has little more to say.
What differentiates populism from the more ideological based political philosophies such as liberal, conservative, progressive, reactionary and libertarian is just that, ideology. Populism usually focuses on the current threats and has no ideology beyond dealing with them. It freely borrows responses to those threats from the proscriptions suggested by the more ideological political movements without acknowledgment of their philosophical underpinnings.
There are I believe at least two main types of Populist that I shall call Liberal/Progressive Populists and Conservative/ Libertarian Populists. Liberal/Progressive Populists tend to see the immediate threats to be from government as well as other large organizations, usually corporations or financial institutions. They often believe that government shorn of its threatening aspects can and should control the ravenous appetites of the other institutions.The Conservative/Libertarian Populist sees the current threat emanating primarily from government alone and may be relieved by the elimination of those specific governmental activities they object to. Fred clearly was the former and not the latter.
Let’s turn then to what Fred had to say in 1976 regarding an issue recently front and center of the political debate, health care.
“If you step north of the Canadian border, you have free medical care. No deductibles or co-insurance, no limits on hospital stays or how many times you see your doctor. When that system went into effect twelve years ago, there were those who said the hospitals would be hopelessly overcrowded. Not so, as people are getting preventive care, and as they’re entitled to care without having to be sick enough to go to the hospital.
If you step back across that boundary to the south, you find in this country – the richest country in the world – the best medical care in the world for rich people, and awfully sorry medical care for a lot of people. We rank seventeenth among nations in infant mortality, which is a euphemism that means ‘Your baby’s dead. We don’t have to put up with that.
We ought to have a universal health care system, paid for out of the federal treasury, rather than an insurance system that might be regressive. There should be much more emphasis on group medical practice and preventive care. And a great more emphasis on paramedical personnel.”(Fred Harris Campaign Handbook)
‘It’s like déjà vu all over again.'(citation unnecessary). It has been 34 years since Fred’s proposal and although we have gotten a pretty good start on health insurance reform we are still awaiting health care reform.
Fred goes on to address the baleful influence of doctor dominated institutions on attempts to make fairer and more effective the delivery of health care in the United States. In 1976, doctors or doctor dominated institutions, for good or ill, controlled health care. It was those institutions such as the AMA that successfully resisted health care reform at the time.
In 1976, the Reagan and Bush fire sale of American institutions to Wall Street, insurance companies, energy corporations and the defense industries had not yet begun but once started, it effectively wrested the United States health care system from the hands of doctors and other medical delivery personnel and placed it in the willing hands of accountants, investment advisors and bankers.
It is interesting to note that Obama’s strategy of allying with the doctor and medical community was probably a major factor in achieving the level of reform obtained by the passage of the recent health reform legislation.”