Monday, May 10, 2004

An Introduction

An Explanatory Note

The title of this blog refers to St. Ignatius of Loyola, Spanish founder of the world- wide Jesuits. Having been educated by Jesuits in one's formative years strongly lends one to subscribe and follow the same moral precepts and ideas that not only characterize Jesuit education, but which each Jesuit lives by.


First and foremost, why would anybody read and/or participate in this weblog? People usually read books and articles written by persons who are already famous or noted for their personalities, stations in life, accomplishments, positions, etc.; and events or issues that they undertake to articulate and reduce to print become events and issues that are invested with the same degree of admiration, importance and celebrity status assigned to their persons. Thus, books and articles that they write become worthy of reading essentially because things they write about also become newsworthy.

But what about the ordinary typical person writing about his ordinary typical experiences in life? One normally does not see such materials out there for the general public to choose from.

And so, why not?

Shouldn't the ordinary typical person be interested enough to read and learn about what other ordinary typical people experience in life, the things and values they consider important to them?

I am convinced that the teeming number of people out there living through their typical workaday lives are also sufficiently concerned and interested about other people sharing similar lives.

The weblog will be an attempt to do just that, compile random life experiences and thoughts, and share them with kindred souls.

It is a personal belief that each man is born into this world with a uniquely personal purpose to fulfill. Thus, it is expected of him to conscientiously gear his serious efforts toward the direction and attainment of that singularly personal purpose. This he does to gain proper and deferential approbation both before the eyes of God and of humanity.

Most of men's lives are essentially quiet and simple workaday lives, that at times border on boredom and monotony. Like the breathtaking silence of dawn, most men's lives are serene and contemplative - prone to meeting quietly the multitudinous concerns that beset them daily. Patiently, gradually, and unobtrusively, they try to get things done, unmindful of how others may view them.

However, there are those of us, or maybe most of us, who devoutly wish that some day, like the brilliant but fleeting spectacle of a heavenly comet, we could shine in solitary grandeur and be in the glaring spotlight of the world for all to see and witness.

Shouldn't we all then aspire for that chance on the spotlight?


  1. Tonette:

    I have to say that your present purpose for working abroad rather than in the home country clearly stems from an altruistic sense about your unique role with regard to the country that is now beset with many crucial problems.

    I, of course, not only respect the decision of Mr. Gutierrez to return home with haste after his studies, but also am actually gladdened to hear of a well-educated Filipino who sees "going home" as the easiest decision to make.

    However, I do have a couple of issues to raise regarding what he had written.

    First, the obvious snipe on the "host" country as reflected in his following statements:

    "Neither do I believe that the United States is such a wonderful place to live and raise a family in. This is a country that spends billions on law enforcement and "homeland security," but where almost no one feels safe in their own home. This is a nation with the best medical facilities in the world, but where without health insurance you cannot even get a splinter removed. This is the land of the free, at least until the government starts suspecting you are a terrorist."

    I find quite gratuitous and unnecessary. There is no need to depict another country in a bad light, simply because one wants to impliedly build a good case for preferring one's own country. In the first place, do the facts really bear out that the US is worse off than the Philippines with regard to the issues he raised?

    Secondly, Mr. Gutierrez is here in the US as a guest, enjoying a scholarship that is fully funded by the US government and which scholarship is such a distinct honor and privilege that very few and select people both here and abroad are able to participate in and enjoy.

    Given the above, I would suggest that one should feel obligated by discretion and gratitude to be a more gracious guest to the host.

    And beyond that, having accepted and enjoyed this very rare privilege, one would instead have wanted to find out from Mr. Gutierrez how he would have advanced the noble purposes of the scholarship as reflected in the following statements:

    Senator Fulbright viewed the proposed program as a much-needed vehicle for promoting "mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries of the world." His vision was approved by Congress and the program signed into law by President Truman in 1946.


  2. Here’s an interesting exchange between exalted columnist C. de Quiros and a Mr. Simpao from San Francisco. Mr. Simpao’s riposte appears in the latest PDI on-line edition.

    Way back in April, I, too, read Mr. Gutierrez’ letter in another forum and my reply is also attached below.

    Please feel free to make your own comments.


    Mr. Quiros:
    IBARRA Gutierrez has written a very inspiring piece that surprisingly hasn't yet found its way in print. So I have the honor of doing it for him.

    Gutierrez says he's finishing his master's degree in New York, where he's lived the past year, and is all set to come home soon. Not just to revisit for a while but to reoccupy his teaching post in the University of the Philippines (UP). This has raised no small amount of eyebrows from Filipinos and Americans alike. He is graduating this May, and it's all his friends can do to understand why on earth he doesn't just stay put and get a job there. But Gutierrez hasn't just defied convention in not opting to remain in New York, he has defied reason in having no reluctance to go back to Manila. I reproduce his piece in its near entirety, it's worth every column inch of it:

    "It is this lack of regret, no, this utter joy, at leaving the supposed center of the universe for a backwater Third World country that has baffled so many of the people I have met here. Many of them -- a few Americans but mostly Filipinos (or former Filipinos) -- seemed to assume that since I was fortunate enough to make it to the States, I would want to stay here permanently. So many times in the past months, I have found myself in the awkward position of having to actually justify why I intended to go back to the Philippines as soon as my studies concluded. I just found it inordinately difficult to come up with reasons for wanting to go home, when this was a decision that seemed so fundamental, so natural, so obvious, that I never really thought I would ever have to defend it before anyone, least of all other Filipinos.

    "But explain it I had to do, over and over-to relatives, to friends, to classmates and acquaintances. 'I just feel that I would be happier, and be more useful, working back home,' I would say, somewhat apologetically, as if by expressing a desire to stay in the Philippines I was somehow giving offense in some peculiar way. This rather weak response would usually be met with tolerant, half-embarrassed smiles and comments on how much of a sacrifice I was making. What I have never figured out is whether they thought I was a hero or a fool for choosing to make that 'sacrifice.'

    "Personally, I do not think of myself as either. What is more, I do not even believe that I am making a sacrifice at all.

    "By choosing to go home, what am I giving up, really? It is not as if by working in Manila I am choosing a life of starvation, deprivation, and abject poverty as compared to the life of wealth and comfort I will supposedly have working in the United States. Certainly on my modest salary from UP -- where I work as a member of the junior faculty -- I will never grow rich, and (thanks to John Osmeña), I will probably never be able to rise above the poverty line by any appreciable margin either. But, with a little extra effort, I will be able to maintain an acceptable level of dignity for myself and my family. Is giving up what amounts to a few extra perks then such a noteworthy sacrifice?

    "Unlike so many of our OFWs who are forced to go overseas to work for a few years as manual laborers and domestic helpers, my situation, like the situation of so many other university-educated, middle-class Filipinos, does not involve a choice between starvation and survival. Rather, it involves the less spectacular and more prosaic choice of renting a two-bedroom apartment in Quezon City or owning a sprawling house in a New Jersey suburb; of commuting on a UP-Pantranco jeepney or driving the latest model SUV; of making do with a Third World salary or insisting on being paid in the Almighty Dollar.

    "Neither do I believe that the United States is such a wonderful place to live and raise a family in. This is a country that spends billions on law enforcement and "homeland security," but where almost no one feels safe in their own home. This is a nation with the best medical facilities in the world, but where without health insurance you cannot even get a splinter removed. This is the land of the free, at least until the government starts suspecting you are a terrorist.

    "And among the Filipinos I have met in the United States, one thing has been nearly as consistent as the surprise that has met my intention to go home. That is if they could keep their higher salaries, if subways could be built in Manila, if the PNP [Philippine National Police] could become less corrupt, if FPJ [Fernando Poe Jr.] could be stopped from becoming president, then they would want to live in the Philippines.

    "I am glad that I do not have to worry about having any of these conditions met. This May, no matter what happens, I will be flying home.

    "And it will be the easiest 'sacrifice' I ever had to make."

    It's a beautiful piece, and a particularly timely one. Notwithstanding the elections, pieces like this will always be timely anytime. But it is particularly welcome these days in the light of Elmer Jacinto almost becoming the rallying cry of the frustrated youth in this benighted country. Jacinto is the young man from the southern province of Basilan (he's in his late 20s but anyone who is not 40 is young to me now) who topped the medical board exams but is going to work in New York as a caregiver. That too he says -- like Gutierrez -- without reluctance, without regret, and probably with much thankfulness, if not joy. I did say I did not blame Jacinto for choosing a life of exile abroad after the life of exile he's lived within in his own country, courtesy of presidents like Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who have made Basilan synonymous with terrorism. But I did not say he is worth emulating.

    As Gutierrez shows, there is another choice, one some others have taken. It requires neither heroism nor sacrifice, though it helps to have idealism and loftiness of mind. But for the most part, it requires only seeing the things that really matter in life.

    Free health care for
    the poor in the US

    IBARRA Gutierrez, whose letter was the main subject of Conrado de Quiros' column in the April 21 issue of the Inquirer, must have been so engrossed with his master's degree studies that he failed to reckon with how the United States takes care of the well-being of the poor.

    Thus, Gutierrez wrote columnist De Quiros: "This is a nation with the best medical facilities in the world but where without health insurance you can not even get a splinter removed."

    Fat words for a talented student who is itching to fly back home to Manila this May to get back lecturing at the University of the Philippines, instead of opting to stay in New York to find a high-paying job.

    And that to De Quiros is sacrifice worthy of a few hosannas. What are the entitlements in the visa of Gutierrez by the way?

    I don't know much how the state of New York deals with the health problems of the poor. But being a rich and populous state, New York's health programs should be similar to California's.

    Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, if Gutierrez happened not to have health insurance and wanted to have his splinter removed gratis, he could have gone to hospitals run by the counties of San Francisco or Alameda (in Oakland).

    Illegals and TNTs (tago ng tago) can go to free health clinics run by La Raza in Oakland, a Latino non-profit organization, without having to fear if any immigration agent is around.

    Health insurance is required by California law, depending on a person's or a family's income. Those gainfully employed share in the payments of the insurance with their employers. They have their choice of doctors or health providers (private hospitals). The insurance may cover the entire family.

    For the unemployed and the destitute (income below the poverty level), the place to run to would be San Francisco General Hospital or Highland Hospital in Oakland.

    I might add that low-income families with so many number of children are given rental subsidies by the state of California. And then there is the so-called food stamps (given free) which could buy basic and essential items, such as rice, bread, milk and meat.

    Unlike in some countries in Europe where there are free health care plans for their citizens, US states have different laws. The poor are not totally neglected though.
    ---BEN S. SIMPAO, San Francisco Bay Area, USA (via e-mail)

  3. It is now less than 50 days to the US elections, so here is a little dose of partisan politics to hopefully assist in crystallizing earnestly undecided minds on who should get the vote.

    This latest article by Richard Reeves shared with us by JoeMac is one of regular articles that he shares with us, highlighting his own beliefs and loyalties, which are predominantly liberal. And there is nothing wrong with that but for the sake of fairness and balance, the other side(s) ought to also be expressed and subjected to scrutiny.

    Mr. Reeves is a noted columnist and author of published books and writes from predominantly liberal perspectives. His renown carries weight in what he writes. However, lest we all get too intimidated and too in awe with ideas that he espouses, please be assured that there are people out there who are just as noted and renowned who espouse ideas opposing Reeves’ ideas.

    Let me then attempt to challenge the “what-if” scenario that he has painted with my own “what-are” musings.

    First, what I find in his premises is a prevailing thread dealing with and anchored on evil as it appears in the world.

    What seems quite evident as gleaned from my readings in the thinking of all sides is their unanimous acknowledgement and acceptance of evil in the world, whether it is believed as a real destructive force or simply a benign disorder, which is capable of being set aside and appeased. I believe most Americans believe that there is real evil and evildoers in the world. Evil would be defined as immorality, iniquity, or simply the absence of good. Whatever it is, it is an issue of morality.

    It appears to me that the two sides contend with evils in two very divergent ways. The present conservative wants to face evil head on and focus its resources to eliminate or curb it. However, there may be disagreements on which evils to contend with first. There is then a question of priorities, with all sides actively participating in impassioned discussion of these disagreements.

    The present liberal seems ambivalent on what to do with it, though most of them acknowledge its existence. And Mr. Reeves’ what-ifs would appear to validate the belief that yes. there is evil, but as long as it can be kept at arm’s length, it should be left alone. And we should essentially mind our own business.

    But is this belief tenable given new world realities? America’s history itself is replete with dramatic instances where the country actively sought after evil to destroy it, whether it was an imminent threat to it or not. The two big wars were wars against evils, which were not initially adjudged as imminent threats to America. Even the Korean War and the Vietnam War were against evil as the primary mission statement. Remember in both instances the evil perceived and intended for confrontation was Communism. Admittedly, politics and social unrest may have played big parts in Vietnam to muddy and make confusing what the paramount reason for being there was.

    But the greater issue is whether evil can be appeased and contained at a safe distance. We have found with deadly consequences that this war on terror is truly global. Which means that it can and does happen in our own backyards. It respects no boundaries.

    Further to how the liberal side defines and contends with evil in other critical and lingering issues confronting the general population, a plausible conclusion one can reach is that its primary response to moral evil is essentially that of moral indifference. Thus, it is quite passionate about and partial to abortion rights, same sex marriages, overall gay issues, and one could argue that even its almost desperate opposition to capital punishment for any and all evildoers may stem from this moral indifference.

    On this score then, one is invited to choose which side one wants to be associated with.

    To be continued.

    By Richard Reeves
    WASHINGTON -- I have thought for a long time that communism would have collapsed in the 1970s rather than at the end of the 1980s if the United States had not chosen to go to war in Vietnam. We squandered years of moral, political, financial and military capital in jungles and rice paddies we could not name, much less "conquer" or "liberate."

    Because of that, a couple of sentences in the current issue of The Atlantic Monthly seem etched in stone more than slapped on paper. James Fallows, the magazine's national editor, in an article titled "Bush's Lost Year," writes of spending the past two years with military, intelligence and diplomatic personnel at the "working level of America's anti-terrorism efforts." Most are Republicans, he says; many supported the decision to invade Iraq (news - web sites) in March 2003.

    Next he writes:
    "I have sat through arguments among soldiers and scholars about whether the invasion of Iraq should be considered the worst strategic error in American history -- or only the worst since Vietnam. Many say things in Iraq will eventually look much better than they do now. But about the conduct and effect of the war in Iraq one view prevails: It has increased the threats America faces, and has reduced the military, financial and diplomatic tools with which we can respond."

    Among the many people quoted in the Atlantic is Jeffrey Record, a professor of strategy at the Army War College, who summed up a good deal of the thinking in Washington now: "Are we better off in basic security than before we invaded Iraq? The answer is no. An unnecessary war has consumed American Army and other ground resources, to the point where we have nothing left in the cupboard for another contingency -- for instance, should the North Koreans decide that with the Americans completely absorbed in Iraq, now is the time to do something

    So, what would be different or what would life be like if we had not made the choice to invade Iraq? Here are some answers:
    · The life of Iraqis would be what it was before we came. The tyranny of Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) would continue, but it would be contained without threat to us. Evil, yes. But there is evil everywhere, beginning these days in western Sudan.

    · We would be safer. There is danger everywhere in this age of terror, but our resources are bogged down in one place -- and could be there for many years. An example: Those surveillance satellites that once were pointed at the Soviet Union and then at Osama bin Laden (news - web sites) and al-Qaida have been pointed at Iraq for almost three years.

    · Afghanistan (news - web sites) would be in better shape. And Osama and al-Qaida might be gone or rendered less effective. We cut and ran to Iraq, without accomplishing that vital mission, leaving the country that sheltered Osama to be fought over, again, by warlords of the drug trade and the crazily puritanical Taliban.

    · The United States would still be admired in most places and a feared superpower everywhere -- perhaps even liked a bit. Iraq, like Vietnam, has revealed the limits of our power, allowing enemies everywhere to mock us.

    · We would be engaged in trying to contain the greater dangers in our adversaries North Korea (news - web sites) and Iran -- and the dangers in the lands of our allies, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. But, again, we choose to look away from the reality and threat in those places.

    · We would be buying the weapons of mass destruction of the old Soviet Union. But now there is no money for that -- or for the problems of education and health care at home. There is only money for war and security.

    · We would be playing a useful role in trying, as always, to find a way to peace between Israel and the Arabs. Instead, our Arabic speakers and other intellectual assets are tied down trying to find out what is happening in the cities and regions of Iraq again under the control of fundamentalist zealots and thugs trying to kill our young men and women.

    · Lawrence Lindsey might still be President Bush (news - web sites)'s chief economic adviser. But he was fired for truth-telling, for saying our costs in Iraq would be between $100 billion and $200 billion. All that, I think, must have been way back in the president's mind when he branded his war a "catastrophic success." It is, without doubt, a successful catastrophe.

  4. We are all “peers” in this forum, simply pursuing our passions for testing how our ideas fare in the crucible of a public setting and hopefully, in the process further our education not only with the “truth” of the issues out there, but also in the “nuances” that may be acquired only if we spend yeoman efforts to understand them.

    Your comments on Greenspan are not only well taken but I concur with the assessment. This time the very complicated interplay of so many novel issues in both the economy and the tumultuous political life of the nation, may well be beyond what a single person can cope with and resolve, regardless of his years of accumulated knowledge, experience, and wisdom. This chairman has already served with 3 presidents and has presided over the stock market “crash” of 1987and similar economic rumblings in the interim.

    But absent a better alternative, either available or volunteered, I still say that conventional wisdom dictates that we continue to go to the resource that has carried us through very many crises.

    And it goes without saying that whatever happens in these United States will through the ripple effect have repercussions all the way to the remotest corner of this shrinking globe. I just wish the other countries could look at this lumbering, very diverse and presently agonizing behemoth with a more impartial and more considerate demeanor, rather than forever delving rhetorically on what this country is not doing right and impliedly taunting that they could do better.

    Regarding the Cheney statements, JoeMac knows that as much as possible I do not belabor myself much with political rhetoric, because they not only not advance any commendable ends, but also because they serve only to highlight the unsavory environment that has characterized the current political life. For anyway, the entire political air is already tainted by most active participants from all sides.

    But this one time I took notice and tried to learn more about this particular incident. The statements at issue are the following from Cheney:
    "It's absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on November 2nd, that we make the right choice, because if we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we'll get hit again." “That we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States, and that we'll fall back into the pre-9/11 mind-set, if you will, that in fact these terrorist attacks are just criminal acts and that we're not really at war."

    I honestly cannot fault him for claiming and expressing that his team can do better than a team that on record promises to treat terrorist attacks as criminal justice issues and thus will necessarily be reactive rather than proactive. I’ll leave it at that and let each one decide.

  5. It is barely 49 days before the November election.
    And for my family, and me the die is cast after thoroughly going through most critical issues and listening and weighing all sides.

    President Bush is obviously not the best choice for a presidential candidate during these most difficult times (who is!), but the alternative from my own personal judgment would not be a better choice, either. Kerry either does not stand for anything much in most things or in other things he is no different from Bush.

    Let me explain. Kerry cannot point to anything he has done in the past that will give some assurances that he can do the job, except for his stint in Vietnam which has now blown up in his face because of the Swift Boat controversy which has caused him to now start flailing away at anything, at any straw, to strike back and now we find him engaging in gutter politics. And if one mentions Iraq, remember Kerry has categorically stated in more than one occasion that given what he knows today, he would still have gone to war with Iraq. Sounds like Bush, right?

    First, about polls, JoeMac is right, Ed, polls are polls. And most especially apropos here in the USA because of the Electoral College. Most polls are nationwide and do not reflect choices based on individual states. Remember Gore won the popular votes, but lost in the electoral votes. One needs 270 electoral votes to win the election. Thus, to win Bush has to focus on the battleground states.

    Populous states like California and New York, where large immigrant groups congregate, are Democratic bastions and account for huge electoral votes. These two states alone account for almost 100 electoral votes.

    US Presidential elections are ironic to a degree because Democrats lean heavily on immigrants and minorities for winning elections but yet the country is still largely white, about 70%, who one can safely deduce would vote for the party that shares its own interests, or so it is claimed. The problem, of course, is that only 50% of voters go to the polls during presidential elections.

    Definitely then whoever wins this November, it will not be because the majority of voters chose him.
    Now to the issues, those that JoeMac enumerated.

    The War in Iraq
    Not many Americans will dispute any and all wars against terrorism. That is a given. To make Iraq a political issue against Bush, his detractors then are separating Iraq from this all-inclusive war on terror. It cannot be done with Afghanistan. But do the facts, as we know them today support this delineation?

    Consider some of the undisputed facts. Saddam was paying $25,000 to the families of every suicide bomber in Israel and other places. Hamas, Hezbollah, and other terrorist groups not only found at times safe haven in Iraq but may also had training camps there. Infamous Abu Nidal was a pampered guest of Saddam until he committed “suicide” with two bullet holes in his head. Al- Zarqawi and other Al Qaeda operatives had visits to Iraq prior to the war. The former even went to a hospital there to have a leg wound caused by fighting in Afghanistan treated. There was a third terrorist in the Oklahoma bombing who was not American. He was an unrecognized Iraq military officer, which even the FBI could not trace but will not discount

    And needless to state there are more facts to tie Iraq to terrorism. Iraq lies in the middle of that viperous hotbed called the Middle East and was ruled by a brutal dictator who was not averse to executing his own people. Include in that his owned and proved claim that he tried to assassinate an American president. Thus, it would indeed be a long stretch to antiseptically separate Iraq from those who abet, harbor, and finance worldwide terrorists, which also include such countries as Iran and Syria, etc.

    What about the WMD issue in Iraq? Admittedly, they have not been found and what were found were 12 labs designed to produce chemical and biological weapons. Bush acted on intelligence that in hindsight was faulty and flawed. Bush was thus wrong about this, but so was most of the rest of the known world. Wrong only up to the present time, since who knows they might be in Syria, buried in some isolated valley. But three commercial airliners caused more than 3000 deaths. An easily acquired dirty suitcase bomb could wipe out countless city blocks. So what are these?

    And no question about it that the typical Iraqis on the streets, the ones displayed prominently in our media, are quite an ungrateful lot. So is the typical Arab denizen in the Arab Street. I have no definite answer for this, though I harbor some notions why.

    The Economy and the Economics of War
    We always talk in large numbers when we are talking US economy and war. No report that I know has yet come out with how many billions of dollars was lost as a direct result of 9/11, and billions more lost indirectly. This much we know, that 3 months after 9/11, the economy lost one million jobs. The tech bust caused the markets to lose as much as three trillion dollars in value. The two current wars are very costly and have already resulted in federal deficits of over 500 billion dollars.

    Now, how many more billions can it afford to lose if the terrorists are allowed to come in to US shores and wreak more havoc, if this country does not continue to expend efforts that have been proved as the only effective means to curb, moderate, and isolate terrorists which is through preemptive actions against any and all who harbor, abet, and finance them? The US economy is very resilient and is rebounding as we speak. But at what point does its elasticity reach its breaking point?

    And in my estimation based on the circumstances, Bush has done his level best to prod the economy back to health, with his tax cuts. What could Kerry possibly do? He is on record as saying that he will eliminate some tax cuts and provide for more entitlements in the areas of health care. That means more taxes, which is in keeping with traditional Democratic policies.

  6. You comments are and will always be well taken, all in the spirit of hearty and lively debate; and educational, too. But I do want to elevate and limit discussions on issues rather than on persons or personalities which usually involve imputing motives, attitudes, or mental reservations that are normally outside the realm of discernible and provable facts. Issues, however, are couched in discernible and provable statements, which make for dispassionate discussions.

    For the next weeks up to election time, I have tasked myself as part of my civic duties to take on issues involving and relating to the candidates; to defend where defensible and tenable, and to denounce where found to be so. Based, of course, on my humble understanding of the issues on the table, as best as my humble logical mind can discern and unravel. No claim for gospel truth being postulated here. Just humble understanding of the facts as read and reported.

    First, let’s go to the Swift Boats Veterans controversy, the first salvo of which was the publication of their book, Unfit for Command, which by the way has become NYT’s Number One bestseller. I admit that I have not read the book, though I have read enough commentaries and analyses from all sides to have some grasp of the issues involved. Still, I find myself inhibited from making comments regarding the veracity of their statements and whether the RNC is foursquare behind this movement.

    This much is on public record, principal author John O’Neill’s battles with Kerry date back to 1971 and has been in the limelight, off and on, over all these years. The public then should be fully conversant on the issues that both sides have brought to bear on each other. At this point, the complete truth may never be known, unless somebody confesses. But the fact that the issues have taken on legs to sustain themselves and stand on all these years must show that the truth is probably lurking somewhere in between what both have professed.

    The talk on dirty politics has always been part of the US political landscape, though one could argue that it is more so and more intense today than yesteryears. All sides are arguably tainted, though the people on the highest echelons may not necessarily be directly and personally complicit.

    After all, the 527 organizations had their most auspicious start with MoveOn.Org, which is definitely left leaning and very extreme. So I suppose all is fair in love and war, and politics. Whining has no place in this land of political mudslinging contest.

    On the astronomical costs, both financial and in American lives, for waging wars, there will be no denying that they are both ONE CENT too much and ONE HUMAN LIFE too many. – only on one condition, if we start to live in a perfect world of peace, harmony and charity. Unfortunately, in the reality that we have been thrust into, look anywhere, search high and low, rifle through all history books, and the one undeniable conclusion one can glean from them is that these are almost part and parcel of human living, both in families and societies at large. Lives lost in conflicts are as common and commonplace as births, weddings, or what have you. And with regard to wasted resources, both financial and otherwise, if they had all been spent for worthy and commendable purposes, there would be no hungry and destitute person in the world today. Everybody to the last man would be well provided to care for himself and his progeny.

    But we have to wake up to realities, go and plan from there and not from some idealized perception of the world. This is now a very fearsome and fearful world that we live in, even the daily headlines tell us so.

  7. I wouldn't portray either as a "lesser evil". I would suggest that all the presidential candidates, yes, including Ralph Nader, intend to assume power so they can do good for the country, good as they perceive it. I have live long enough in this country to be able to see that there are enough good people out there, from all sides of the political spectrum, that will not allow just anybody to become a presidential candidate.

    But the way I see it, there are no sufficient reasons to vote "for" Kerry, rather a good number of his votes come election time will be votes "against" Bush. I personally do not see that as a positive tact to take in voting. Thus, based on what he has shown the last four years, I will be casting my vote for George W. Bush and I am exhorting kindred souls to do the same. With him at least, I get what he tells me he is going to give, not fulsome rhetoric intended simply and solely to convince me to vote for him.

    Hopefully, the poll results especially in the background states will continue to tilt in favor of the incumbent until November 2nd.

  8. There will always be at least two sides to crucial issues that warrant dissection and discussion, especially those that do not lend themselves easily to being measured, quartered, and analyzed, such as economic plans and policies (like tax cuts), culled from an inexact science like Economics. And statements both pro and con can be advanced and even postulated as gospel truth, but if no hard and fast evidence can be presented, then they are simply just that, uncorroborated statements.

    However, in choosing sides is it too much to ask to be on the side of one who might know more of what he speaks? In this instance, the choice would be its own Fed Chairman, Alan Greenspan, who has been for the tax cuts, both their initial implementation and proposed renewals.

    The claim that the Stock Market daily averages track the economy may not be disingenuous, but at the very least, it is incorrect. One has to learn and appreciate the clear distinction between the equities markets and the economy. True, the financial markets will and do respond to movements in the economy, but these are two distinct things that do not necessarily move in lockstep or in the same directions. The markets provide the mechanism for investors to buy and sell claims against the future earnings of companies and thus reflect the valuation that the investors collectively assign to these companies. The overall economy can be measured by the different indices on employment, production, and sales, etc. which provide reflections or snapshots of economic activities.

    Thus, the economy as reflected by these indices may not be very great, but it is not too bad either. To illustrate, the unemployment figure has gone down to 5.4% and may not be too far from what Keynesian advocates theorize as full employment level for the US.

    With regard to the markets, to compare the NASDAQ then and now in such a context, is to totally ignore, either conveniently or unconsciously, the onset and devastating effects of the tech bust which saw that market lose as much as 3 trillion dollars in value. Add to that the looming recession that greeted the start of the new administration. Is it fair then to blame a sitting administration for the tech bust?

    Thus, while the stock market may have either a static or downward trajectory as panic responses to certain events, it does not necessarily reflect substantially the prospects of the overall economy.

    Here are links which graph summary performances of the Dow and the NASDAQ from late 1999 up to today:^INDU&chartdate=7^COMPX&chartdate=7
    Both should unmistakably show over the long haul more than an “iota” of recovery.

    Indeed, one could be said to be living in a different world if one cannot discern and appreciate the implications and repercussions of the events of 9/11. These are now very difficult times. We live in a world that is now both fearsome and fearful.

  9. Anonymous11:53 AM

    Here's wishing you the best of the new year. May the spirit of St. Ignatius enlighten and motivate all of us for the coming year, which at the onset promises to be another one of great uncertainities, world-wide travails, and unprecedented anxieties.

    We need more men and women for others.


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