Monday, February 27, 2006

The horse race has begun

It boggles the mind to contemplate, but the 2008 presidential race has officially begun. Well, at least that’s what this morning’s clip on MSNBC informed me. Not surprisingly, the media has already begun running its polls and is already handicapping the race and anointing front-runners. None of this bodes well for anyone remotely concerned about representative government, of, by, and for, the people.

The Field

Just like in 2004, and 2000, and before that, 1996, and before that, 1992…(get the point?), the participants are merely figureheads for those pulling the strings behind the scenes. The talking heads and political pundits will all make sure that we are all given several reasons why we must participate in this exercise in futility. There will be a semblance of intrigue and the show that all is being run legitimately. In the end, the average citizen will once again be the biggest loser.

Here is the up-to-the moment cast of characters that will be revving up their own version of the political dog and pony show. They’ll begin criss-crossing the country and stopping off in places like Iowa and New Hampshire. A few will become buzzworthy and possibly even become the early “upstart” and possible “spoiler."


John McCain
Rudolph Guiliani
Rick Santorum
Mitt Romney
Bill Frist


Hillary Clinton
John Kerry
Al Gore
John Edwards
Joe Biden
Evan Bayh
Tom Vilsack
Barack Obama

Knighting the front-runners

The pre-emptive front-runners appear to be Hillary Clinton and John McCain. Senator Clinton, has been seen of late, talking tough on foreign policy and doing her damndest to appear presidential, despite the fact that no woman has ever been elected president and despite the fact that this is the 21st century, I wouldn’t wager any money you wouldn’t want to lose on the fairer sex, at least for president. Of course, the Republicans have been yammering about a run by Condelezza Rice, also.

Then, there is John McCain. Everyone’s favorite maverick, despite the fact that he’s never done anything to warrant that label. Even so, pundits and pollsters are already getting hard-ons about McCain’s ability reach the voters who are neither Republican, nor Democrat, but known merely as Independents.

Since it doesn’t matter that McCain isn’t really a maverick, or the anti-candidate, just that the perception is of such things, McCain will be given a free pass to wear the “outsider” mantle for most of the next two years.

The Rest of Us

While it’s probably a bit early for most Americans to give two shits about the 2008 presidential race, there are a couple of things worth taking away from this. First, any real hope for change in the way business is conducted in the corridors of power, is merely fantasy. The U.S., for all of its posturing and lip service paid to the “D-word,” is actually a fascist oligarchy and voting merely gives some legitimacy to the sham foisted upon us every four years.

In defining fascism, Noam Chomsky accurately describes our present system that we are told is democracy. As he writes, “That's what a fascist system traditionally was. It can vary in the way it works, but the ideal state that it aims at is absolutist -- top-down control with the public essentially following orders. Fascism is a term from the political domain, so it doesn't apply strictly to corporations, but if you look at them, power goes strictly top-down, from the board of directors to managers to lower managers and ultimately to the people on the shop floor, typists, etc. There's no flow of power or planning from the bottomup. Ultimate power resides in the hands of investors, owners, banks, etc.

People can disrupt, make suggestions, but the same is true of a slave society. People who aren't owners and investors have nothing much to say about it. They can choose to rent their labor to the corporation, or to purchase the commodities or services that it produces, or to find a place in the chain of command, but that's it. That's the totality of their control over the corporation." (Secrets, Lies, and Democracy by Noam Chomsky; Odonian Press, 1994)

For the first time in my life, I’m not going to take part this time. I’m not going to get all caught up in an exercise that disenfranchises the wishes of the majority of the U.S. citizenry. If voting really mattered, then I’m sure that someone would pass a law making it illegal.

When you look at the field being offered at this early stage, there isn’t one person in the lot who could make a difference. Any truly “maverick” or independent candidate would end up eventually excluded from the debates that are orchestrated to give the appearance that real issues are being debated.

Without there being any hope for a truly independent, third party, one that represented the agenda for working-class Americans, the election of 2008 will once more represent politics as usual here in Oceania, I mean, the United States of America.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

The solution in Iraq--get out!!

The age-old schism between Sunnis and the Shia majority in Iraq has suddenly found the catalyst needed to cause it to flareup--U.S. occupation of Iraq. Over the past week, tensions have erupted and led to outbreaks of violence and a ramping-up of sectarian concerns.

Raed Jarrar, who blogs at Raed in the Middle, has an excellent post on the looming civil war in Iraq. As he writes at his blog, "the current sectarian tension was handled very efficiently by the Iraqi religious and social leaders working with their elected national government, and that the occupation troops and authorities didn't take any part in "protecting Iraqis from each other", which is the bush administration's number one excuse for keeping the troops in Iraq."

We need to stop vacillating on this issue. We need to bring our troops home now! If we don't we'll be responsible for even greater chaos in a country that we've done nothing but FTU in, from the beginning.

Fake it til' you make it

Once more, music has been a way for me to crawl out from under the "darkness" of winter that I so often feel, this time of the year. Despite a period when reality has whomped me upside my head, I sense a fertile creative period might be lurking around the corner.

I've spent some productive time hammering out some ideas that I hope will be the foundation for my own contribution to Pine Trees, Potato Fields and Lobster Traps, RiverVision's upcoming anthology of Maine non-fiction.

My soundtrack for my Saturday night writing exercise into the wee hours, was Barsuk (Bar-Sook, with the emphasis on the second syllable) Radio. My favorite tracks were Rocky Votolato's "Portland Is Leaving" and Nada Surf's "Always Love".

I even found time to pull out my guitar case, dust it off, and lovingly coax a few tentative chords from my trusty old Yamaha acoustic.

slow demands come around squeeze the air and keep the rest out it helps to write it down even when you then cross it out

but always love hate will get you every time always love even when you want to fight

(Nada Surf "Always Love")

Friday, February 24, 2006

Gimme indie rock

At least gimme' some music that's more original than the usual offerings circulating the commercial dial.

My winter doldrums have been chronicled and I'll not comment any more about them other than to say, I've been seriously lacking in the music department of late and I aim to remedy that immediately. It amazes me how quickly one's mood can improve by cutting of the the flow of cathode rays from the idiot box, and mixing in some music and some good reading material, or any reading material, for that matter.

It occurred to me, yesterday, how little music I've been listening to. One of my favorite times to spin some tunes has always been dinner time. Last night, up to my elbows in pasta and mixing salad greens, I dug out my copy of For A While, It Was Funny, from indie rock gods, the Karl Hendricks Trio. Hot Damn! I forgot how good wallowing in one's misery felt. This '96 release, on Merge, had been sitting, sadly forgotten, gathering dust on my CD shelves. I dug it out and cranked up the volume and my funk immediately dissipated!

Hell, I feel my productivity level just ramped up several notches with that one spin of a disc. Speaking of discs, check out Mark Schwaber's new CD, The Killing Card on the best little indie label there is, Pigeon Records. Schwaber has four songs up on MySpace for a preview. I've met Schwaber through my buddy, Jose Ayerve, of Spouse, as Mark plays bass for the band. An obviously talented songwriter in his own right, the new disc also showcases his guitar playing and skills at songcrafting.

Just like the book world, where many fine local, independent releases get ignored and bypassed by the latest formulaic offerings from the major publishing houses, indie rock, also, suffers from a similar climate. I recognize that Maine is part of a very fertile New England music scene, often obscured by the semi-talented poseurs pushed on us by major publications like Spin, Rolling Stone and others, bankrolled by the smoke and mirrors of unlimited marketing rolling down from deep-pocketed major labels.

In addition to Schwaber's new release, longtime Portland musician, Doug Cowan, has a new release out with the amazing Bullyclub. If you like well-written, intelligent songs, infused with a pop sensibility, with a bit of guitar crunch thrown in, then you can't go wrong with the Pigeon catalog and acts like Spouse, Bullyclub and Mark Schwaber.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Corporatizing another asset

There has been no shortage of commentary about the Bush administration's decision to turn over port security to a corporation, based in the Arab world. There has been a great deal of blather about the security risks this poses, and critics of the plan have been just as boisterous on the right, as on the left.

With any issue, I always find that what is being talked about away from the din and cacophony is worth paying attention to. John Nichols' blog at The Nation is a case in point. Rather than focusing merely on the security issues, Nichols looks at the issue of turning another one of our national assets over to a corporation and the consequences associated with this. As Nichols notes, the privitization angle has been sadly lacking in any of the MSM's coverage of this news story.

As Nichols writes, "The private firms that control so many of the nation's ports have not begun to set up a solid system for waterfront security in the more than four years since the September 11, 2001 attacks. And shifting control of the ports of New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia -- along with control over the movement of military equipment on behalf of the U.S. Army through the ports at Beaumont and Corpus Christi -- from a British firm, Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co., to Dubai Ports World, is not going to improve the situation."

I would have to agree with his points concerning this transfer of control of a vital aspect of our national infrastructure. There is more to this story than we are getting and Nichols gives us a solid starting for a deeper look into the matter.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Underwhelming the competition

While the Winter Olympics struggle to outperform reality TV and second-rate dramas like "Grey’s Anatomy," for ratings, some of us who are watching, are not terribly impressed with what we've seen, thus far.

My bone to pick isn’t necessarily with the athletic performances of most of the world's athletes, or the world class competition they provide for appreciative viewers. My issues are with both the way that NBC chooses to focus on select events, aiming for their highest possible primetime audience, and the underwhelming performance of the over hyped and cocky American athletes.

As for ratings, the 2006 Olympics in Turin, are the lowest rated winter games since 1988. Not that I really care whether General Electric and NBC take a financial bath. In a worst case scenario, I can always watch Canadian television, even if I can’t understand a word the French-speaking announcers utter.

Both the American and Canadian hockey teams have performed poorly, with the U.S. losing consecutive games to Sweden and Slovakia, and the progenitors of hockey, the Canadians, losing to Finland and world hockey power, Switzerland. While the U.S. has struggled often in international ice hockey competition, there have been moments of glory, none as unforgettable as 1980’s miracle on ice. Unfortunately, with the need to introduce professional players into the mix, beginning in 1998, the results have been underwhelming. Even on the women’s side, the highly-touted U.S. women’s team, expected to play for the gold medal, lost to an unheralded Swedish women’s team on Friday, in a shootout. The U.S. and Canada were thought to be the elite women’s teams in the women’s hockey pool, but Sweden, which almost didn’t send a team, rode the heroic goaltending of 19-year-old Kim Martin, to stun the U.S. women, who now play a consolation match with hopes of at least coming home with a bronze medal.

I watched most of the women’s U.S./Sweden match on Friday, before a power outage robbed me of the opportunity to see the overtime period and shootout, ultimately capture by the Swedes. I was able to see the ending, yesterday, as CNBC rebroadcast the game.

Clearly, the U.S. team was superior in talent, but time-after-time, they were unable to capitalize on scoring opportunities. At one point, they had a two person advantage, due to penalties, and had difficultly getting shots on net. Not to take anything away from the sensational play of Martin, and the gritty leadership of veteran forward, Maria Rooth, but like their male counterparts, the women’s team underperformed when it counted and winning a bronze isn’t even a sure thing for them, at this point.

It’s not hard to understand why much of the world resents the U.S., particularly when we arrive with our red, white, and blue cockiness and swagger and then get dominated by the likes of tiny Norway in many events, or, our ski team, with all its bravado and boasting, gets out medaled by a sister and brother team from Croatia.

Thus far, Janica and Ivica Kostelic have two medals, to team U.S.A.’s one, in Alpine skiing. Janica, who won a gold in Salt Lake City, in 2002, is coming off major knee surgery. Both she and her brother, Ivica, have had to struggle to compete at this level. Coming from a war-torn country, their father, Ante, often had to “hawk” skis and other prizes they had won from sponsors, just to put gas in their car, as they traveled around Europe to competitions.

While I’m obviously critical of much of the hype surrounding the U.S. team, there are a few athletes that march to their own drummer and transcend all the hype of the U.S. media/marketing machine.

One of these athletes is Shani Davis, the African-American speed skater who won gold in the 1,000-meter race on Saturday. Davis, who grew up on the South Side of Chicago, not exactly the hotbed of American speedskating, had been criticized by flag-waving, loudmouth, Chad Hedrick, of Texas, because Davis chose not to skate for the U.S. team in the relay event, focusing on his individual race instead. Davis finished with the gold and Hedrick, finished out of the medals, ending up a distant sixth.

I found it interesting how NBC chose to hype Hedrick, the stereotypical, white superstar, while totally ignoring Davis, until he won the gold. There has been very little on Davis, even after his gold medal in the 1,000. He still has an opportunity on Tuesday to race in the 1,500-meter race and could very well medal in that, also.

Maine's own, Seth Westcott, about as down-to-earth a person as you'll find on this international stage, wowed the world with his gold medal performance in the newest event, snowboarding's boarder cross.

Today, Bode Miller, who has been a major disappointment, thus far, races in the men’s Super-G, which NBC will broadcast this evening. While I’ve defended Miller and the criticized those who took issue with his 60 Minutes interview, I’m afraid Bode has gotten caught up in his own celebrity and has forgotten why many are interested in him in the first place. People are willing to overlooking loudmouth boors, if they can do something no one else can do—in Miller’s case, ski. If you are having problems making it down the mountain, then you end up being seen as an overbearing ass, instead of a world-class athlete. The former seems to be something that this year’s team has in abundance.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Freeing up the dial

Community radio's beacon of the coast-WERU
Land yachts make great receptors for free-form radio-I’ve always been fond of radio with an eclectic bent. Growing up in the 1970s allowed me to experience FM radio that was truly free-form. Those of us who were privileged to listen to WBLM at that time know exactly what I’m talking about. Eclecticism and variety was the modus operandi for radio during this period, and it wasn’t limited to Maine, or even New England. This was the period before corporations sunk their claws into the fabric of broadcasting and being a DJ actually required some creativity and knowledge of music. It was an age when there truly were radio “personalities” in the truest sense of the word.

Of course, running up and down the radio dial today is an exercise in torture, with pre-programmed formats and playlists that leave little room for variance. The only redeeming aspects of radio in these parts are the community radio stations and a few low-power FM outlets (like Rockland's WRFR-LP).

A community radio beacon down the coast, is WERU, with studios located in East Orland. Whenever I’m within reach of their tower, I’m always envious of the listeners who can pull their signals in on a regular basis. I am aware that they simulcast on the web, but for me, radio is a habit that has always seemed most enjoyable and best listened to, while driving in a car, down some deserted stretch or road, with just you and the music keeping company.

On my way home, on Tuesday afternoon, I stopped by the WERU studios and taped a seven minute segment for their Voices program that will air at a later date. Radio host, Denis Howard, had received a plug about my book, When Towns Had Teams, from a listener, and had contacted me, offering me the opportunity to record a spot if I ever got down his way. This trip allowed me to mix some business with book promotion and we recorded a lively spot that should give the book a bit of a bump. It is welcomed, especially since a good deal of the subject matter (particularly chapter 6) transpires nearby. Furthermore, this area doesn’t have some of the media outlets and weekly publications that I’ve put to good use to market my book in southern Maine.

I have made a point to listen more regularly via the web, but it sure was good to pull in some unique and varied programming over my car radio for parts of two days, in my travels. With WERU holding freeform’s torch aloft in this area of the state, coupled with community stalwart, WMPG, in greater-Portland, Maine has two great community-based occupiers of the state’s radio dial.

Down the coast of Maine

(Top to bottom)
Photo 1: Getting my bearings

Photo 2: The blueberry barrens outside Machias.

Photo 3: The Road to Nowhere (aka, Lubec).

Photo 4: Helen's: Home of Maine's best blueberry pie.

Maine seems like a large state, especially when you travel east and west. In reality, however, Maine’s land mass is 39th in size, compared to the other 49 states. This fact alone makes me appreciate the sheer size of the rest of the country.

Downeastern Maine has its own folklore and the deeper you drive “down” the coast, the more parochial and distinct the area becomes, particularly compared to trendy Portland, the state’s hub. Washington County, Maine’s easternmost county, has the dubious honor of being the poorest of the state’s 16 regions, or counties.

Tucked away from the rest of Maine, the state’s most geographically isolated area is also known for its distinctive culture, traditional industries such as fishing and logging, as well as blueberry barrens—it also has the state’s highest unemployment rate, which in 2002, was touching 9 percent, double the state average.

While the natural beauty of the region is breathtaking, most of the inhabitants are too busy scratching out a living to pay particular attention.

As I began my 56 mile trek towards Machias, on barren stretches of U.S. Route 1, which leaves Ellsworth, the summer’s tourist mecca, for the deeper regions and points eastward, I passed the entrance to Acadia National Park, New England’s only representative of the nation’s system of parks. As a native Mainer, I’ve only been up Cadillac Mountain once in my life. I rarely venture near Ellsworth, or other so-called tourist attractions in the summer. Partly due to my distaste of crowds, but also, the summer is usually taken up with other pursuits. Even picturesque Bar Harbor, a magnet for the summer hordes from away, is a place I’ve only been to a handful of times, most often, in the fall, or dead of winter, when the tourists have scurried back to their places of origin and commerce.

Many Maine writers have attempted to capture this part of the state. None comes closer, in my opinion, in capturing the quirks, culture and unique way of life of the region, than the late Ruth Moore. Born in 1903, Moore wrote about the people and places that even today, still evokes some sense of distinction, in a culture increasingly homogenized and processed. While Moore is often characterized as a regional writer—a label she came to detest—her writing captures the geographical place of her birth and life, as well as any writer before her, or since.

As often happens with writers, Moore’s reviewers often missed her social critique and commentary on Downeast life that characterized her works. Like Sarah Orne Jewett before her, Moore’s characters and places in her books, stood as testaments to a rural way of life, straining to maintain a foothold, in the face of encroaching industrialization.

On my return journey from Machias, I stopped in Ellsworth, Tuesday afternoon, and found the town library. Between appointments, I spent about 30 minutes reading some correspondence, in the form of letters, that have been gathered from Moore’s life. High Clouds Soaring, Storm Clouds Driven Low: The Letters of Ruth Moore (Blackberry Press, 1993) contains over 500 pages of correspondence that Moore had with writers, editors, and other local figures throughout her life. Edited by a fine local writer in his own right, Sanford Phippen, a regionalist and a contemporary of other writers, like Carolyn Chute.

My trip was long and the initial driving tricky, from the aftermath of Sunday’s northeaster, but it was worthwhile on several fronts. It provided some needed income from my contract marketing work that I do for Maine’s premiere help wanted website. The trip also afforded me a chance to visit an area of my home state that I don’t see often enough; plus, I dropped off some books, and taped a segment for a vibrant community radio station, WERU, in East Orland. And maybe the best part, I got to partake of Helen’s Blueberry Pie in Machias, Monday night. If you are ever in this part of the state, drive through town and look for Helen’s Restaurant on the right. With down home cooking, fresh seafood and unbelievable reasonable prices, it’s better than most of the upscale and overly-hyped places of southern Maine.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Back from the far-flung reaches

I'm just back from the far eastern reaches of downeast Maine, namely Machias. Spending hours alone in the car, driving deserted stretches of windswept Route 1 does funny things to your psyche. Past blueberry fields, lobster boats blocked up in yards and ramshackle houses, reminded me that I was no longer in the gilded environs of southern Maine, namely Portland proper. Per usual, my thoughts ran to issues that I know just enough about to be dangerous.

I have some photos that I want to post and also, I hope I can craft some cogent commentary and gather my thoughts enough for an enlightened post. Unfortunately, I'm scurrying to catch my tail today, so blogging must wait.

Here, at least, is a link to a topic I encountered in my travels. The bureaucrats in Augusta, mostly from the more affluent communities, are carping about waste in education, so they are pushing hard for the closing or consolidation of rural schools. Per usual, Working Waterfront has some good Maine-based reporting on an issue that could be devastating for many places that have only the local school holding their communities together.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The personal economics of writing

The posts have been sparse this week. I’m not real happy about this development, but I’ve been pulled in multiple directions and the one thing I could let go of, without dropping all the other balls I have in the air, has been the blog.

I’m in a difficult patch. With the Christmas book shipping flurry past, things have come to a clanging halt. I’ve reached an impasse, with both RiverVision Press, as well as my finances. Sadly, I’m not one of those lucky souls that can piece together a living solely on the basis of their writing. I’m not sure many in Maine can, and do. There are enormously talented writers like Stephen King, who is adored by the masses, as well as others, like Tess Gerritsen, who regularly make the best-seller lists. Obviously, their talent and ability to write fiction that is coveted by millions, allows them to live comfortably as full-time writers. I’m somewhat envious of that, but I don’t begrudge them their place at the front of Maine's writing roll call. While they are gifted and the market has rewarded them richly for their skills, I also recognize that being dependent solely on writing for their livelihood, probably brings with it own anxiety and stress, as well .

Then, there are folks like me, who write, but choose arcane subject matter and the history of small town Maine to prattle on about. While I’m pleased that I’m halfway through my small press run of 2,000 books, selling books in small numbers is not a money-making proposition. By the time the printing, shipping and small amount of marketing of a book is done, there isn’t much left over, if anything at all.

The winter doldrums of early February, and a review of my bank account, made me realize that I need to ramp up the money-making apparatus a notch. Putting my writing and some of my anticipated projects on the back burner, I’ve cobble together some of my skills—mostly marketing and sales, coupled with my writing and editorial experience—and have been involved in a special project for a local newspaper. With my other part-time marketing gig, I’m now spending much of my waking hours given solely to the task of making money. Obviously, most other people are forced to do the same, so who the hell am I to think I’m any different. For the time being, RiverVision Press has been relegated to my evenings, weekends and any other time I can focus on my various projects I hope to launch via Maine's unique (and underfunded) press.
In some ways, this is probably good. I think it was former Black Flag front man, Chuck Dukowski, who said that he’d rather work a day job the rest of his life, than be dependent on his music to make a living. I think I recall Ian Mackaye, of Fugazi, saying something similar, intimating that the act of commerce compromises art, for art’s sake. I don’t know if I can agree wholeheartedly. I wouldn’t turn down the opportunity to publish books full-time, if I knew I could live a couple of steps removed from homelessness. I'm also not comfortable expecting my wife to graciously shoulder so much of the financial burden.

I guess what I’m trying to say is this—I’m financially strapped and have taken a course of action to alleviate some of the problems associated with that predicament. I’m not looking for sympathy; I’m merely recognizing that I just don’t seem to have the talent or connections to rely on my writing to make enough money to keep a roof over my head. This isn’t an admission of failure, but more, recognition of the reality of my situation. Like any proactive person, I’ve taken steps to right the ship.

Hopefully, I still have time and energy, as well as something to say that’s worth blogging about.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Grandpa Munster has left the room

In what's shaping up as a busy week for me, I won't have much time to be posting on either blog. I did want to put this up, however. Democracy Now had a great segment on Al Lewis, the actor who played Grandpa on the 1960s Hollywood sitcom, The Munsters. He passed away, Friday, February 5, 2006, at the age of 95 years old.

While mainstream accounts emphasized his work on the popular sitcom, to the exclusion of all else, several alternative accounts of Lewis revealed him to be something much more than a mere actor, playing a bit part.

Like many men of his generation, Lewis was shaped by a hardscrabble life, which included experiencing the depression firsthand. Unlike many of us, who grew up during the post-war period of affluence, he didn't live life with our expectation of everything being handed to us on a silver platter. He took life by the horns and squeezed the most out of each and every day.

The 1997 interview conducted by the editors of New York's Anarchist publication, The Shadow, originally ran in Alternative Press Review, back in 1998. It is a great read and captures the essence of the man foreever known to many as "Grandpa Munster."

One of my favorite parts of the interview is when Lewis chastises today's self-styled activists for their lack of perspective and understanding of the class war.

I think Lewis' offers a perspective that isn't offered much anymore, the perspective of a man who lived life to the fullest, on his terms, not the terms dictated by polite society. He offers a portrait of a generation that sadly, is just about gone. If our nation had any greatness, it was because of the men (and women) of Lewis' generation.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

My hope for America

Rather than a blow-by-blow of the President Bush’s speech, I wanted to focus on one word and attribute that he uttered several times. This is my concise contribution at recapping the SOTU, for those of you who skipped it.

While painful, I hung in to the bitter end. Towards the end of his oratory, he apparently decided to offer the citizenry some hope, because up to this point in the speech, I hadn't found anything that I was hitching my wagon to. Beginning the sectionwith this; “In recent years, America has become a more hopeful nation.” After this, he indicated where American's hopes should reside.

“A hopeful society depends on courts that deliver equal justice under the law.”
--With a court stacked with right-wing ideologues and lackeys to carry the water of a conservative agenda and under gird the final corporate takeover, I’m not hopeful about our future in the area of justice.

“A hopeful society has institutions of science and medicine that do not cut ethical corners, and that recognize the matchless value of every life.”
--An obvious ode to his pro-life base, uttered in code, but obvious in its intent. For those like the late Christopher Reeves, and others suffering permanent debilitating injuries, stem cell research offers hope of a possible cure and an opportunity of living a life of fullness. This president insists on removing that hope.

“A hopeful society expects elected officials to uphold the public trust.”
--And since this president heads an administration riddled with cronyism the likes of which America hasn’t seen for decades, we aren’t hopeful that the president will do anything meaningful to instill some hope for those of us who think our elected officials should obey the laws and honor the constitution like the rest of us are required to.

“A hopeful society gives special attention to children who lack direction and love.”
--Actually, under funding programs that level the playing field for all children might give us the optimism that you insist we ought to have. Not enacting the disastrous, No Child Left Behind that leaves schools and programs grossly short of funds and forced to implement rigid pedagogy that robs children of the joys that creative instruction can bring.

“A hopeful society comes to the aid of fellow citizens in times of suffering and emergency -- and stays at it until they're back on their feet.”
--Actually, Mr. President, your administration’s and handling of disaster relief in the aftermath of Katrina, made me hope to God that I never face a disaster of those proportions. For nights on end, I saw witnessed the poorest citizens dying in the streets of one of our largest cities, while you lauded one of your political cronies, Michael Brown, who was under qualified and incapable of running FEMA.

Mr. President, your speech, full of lies, propaganda and once again, pandering to fear and offering nothing but empty rhetoric, left me and many other Americans with only one hope. That we the people will wake up, band together and run your ass, along with your administration's, out of the people’s house. That’s the glimmer of hope I’m clinging to, the morning after your speech.