Columnists

The Public Eye: Job Wars: Republicans Strike Back

By Bob Burnett
Monday September 19, 2011 - 09:14:00 AM

One week after President Obama addressed a joint session of Congress and proposed the American Jobs Act, House Speaker John Boehner responded for the Republicans. Not with a plan to address the US jobs’ crisis, but with conservative talking points that indicate how difficult it will be to pass meaningful legislation.

The Problem: The two Parties disagree on the origin of the crisis. In his September 8th address Obama indicated the crisis resulted from erosion of America’s social compact: “[belief] in a country where everyone gets a fair shake and does their fair share -- where if you stepped up, did your job, and were loyal to your company, that loyalty would be rewarded with a decent salary and good benefits.”

In contrast, in his September 15th response Speaker Boehner blamed the Federal government, “there’s a fundamental misunderstanding of the economy that leads to a lot of bad decisions in Washington, D.C.” “Private-sector job creators of all sizes have been… slammed by uncertainty from the constant threat of new taxes, out-of-control spending, and unnecessary regulation.” “Job creators in America are essentially on strike.”

Neither side admitted the real problem, the American economy is broken. A healthy economy depends upon steady consumption by working Americans. But starting with Ronald Reagan, Republican ideologues have assumed that rich folks buying yachts and vacation homes would catalyze the consumer economy. This didn’t happened. In 2011 average Americans aren’t consuming because they either don’t have the money or are saving it because they are fearful. Republican dogma fractured the US economy and caused massive unemployment. -more-


Senior Power… Where's the Lavender Soap?

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Monday September 19, 2011 - 08:56:00 AM

Nearly two-thirds of Americans age 70+ have hearing loss. According to a study led by Johns Hopkins and National Institute on Aging researchers, persons of the black race seem to have a protective effect against this loss. And older or male subjects were more likely to have hearing loss or more severe hearing loss than younger or female subjects. It is believed to be the first nationally representative survey of older adults on this often ignored and under-reported condition. Past studies have strongly linked hearing loss to such other health problems as cognitive decline, dementia, and poorer physical function. . Relatively little is known about risk factors that drive hearing loss. [Feb. 28, 2011 Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences] -more-


On Mental Illness: Permission to Be Happy

By Jack Bragen
Saturday September 17, 2011 - 10:01:00 AM

The truism: “life is what happens while you’re waiting,” is very applicable to people who are struggling to recover from mental illness. Frequently, people are unhappy because they believe they should not be happy. A lot of people believe that before they can be happy they need to fix their perceived adverse life circumstances. This is not always true. This partial erroneous belief is present in the minds of people at large and not just those who have a mental illness. Abe Lincoln said: “Most people are about as happy as they make up their mind to be.” -more-


Dispatches From the Edge: Of Kabul & Tet & Generals

By Conn Hallinan
Friday September 16, 2011 - 10:12:00 AM

“Now we can see [success in Vietnam] clearly, like the light at the end of a tunnel” -more-


The Public Eye: Will Obama Control the Jobs Message?

By Bob Burnett
Monday September 12, 2011 - 11:08:00 AM

Watching President Obama’s speech to a joint session of Congress, Americans were reminded of his oratorical prowess. That’s never been his problem. In the two years 230 days plus of his Presidency Obama has given many powerful speeches but not followed up – lost control of the message. On September 8th he laid out a strong jobs plan; now he has to push it through Congress. -more-


Dispatches From The Edge: The New Scramble for Africa

By Conn Hallinan
Wednesday September 14, 2011 - 08:54:00 AM

Is current U.S. foreign policy in Africa following a blueprint drawn up almost eight years ago by the rightwing Heritage Foundation, one of the most conservative think tanks in the world? While it seems odd that a Democratic administration would have anything in common with the extremists at Heritage, the convergence in policy and practice between the two is disturbing. -more-


Eclectic Rant: Corporate Personhood

By Ralph E. Stone
Monday September 12, 2011 - 11:32:00 AM

Last year, the Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission invalidated the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, a federal law which prohibits corporations and unions from using their general treasury funds to make independent expenditures for speech that is an “electioneering communication” or for speech that expressly advocates the election or defeat of a candidate. (2 U.S.C. §441b). -more-


Senior Power … ’goin to the dogs

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Monday September 12, 2011 - 11:36:00 AM

Animals affect human emotions and physiology. Studies have shown that owning and handling animals benefit health significantly. The relevance of pets in the lives of senior citizens is no longer big news. Everyone knows that pets may help elderly owners live longer, more enjoyable lives. It has been demonstrated that independently-living seniors who have pets tend to be more active, cope better with stress, and have better overall health. (May 1999 Journal of the American Geriatrics Society) Another study showed that elderly pet owners had significantly lower blood pressure than their contemporaries without pets. -more-


Wild Neighbors: The Hummingbird Dive Chirp Revisited

By Joe Eaton
Wednesday September 14, 2011 - 10:03:00 AM
Male Allen's hummingbird: a one-man band.

Three years ago, UC Berkeley students Chris Clark and Teresa Feo cracked the mystery of the dive chirp of the Anna’s hummingbird. The noise, produced at the nadir of a courting male’s vertical plummet, was thought by some ornithologists—included the late Luis Baptista of the California Academy of Sciences—to be vocal in origin, in part because its frequency was similar to that of the bird’s call. -more-


On Mental Illness: Episodes of Fear and Anger

By Jack Bragen
Monday September 12, 2011 - 11:28:00 AM

I periodically have phases of a lot of anger. During those times, I am not very pleasant to be around; I raise my voice, behave stubbornly or walk out of a room to the bafflement of whoever is with me; usually my wife. There is never an excuse for physical violence, and I don’t do that. However, my mere anger, expressed in facial expressions and tone of voice, apparently is enough scariness to be unpleasant to others. -more-