Wednesday, October 10, 2007

In Mississippi, Democrat Runs in G.O.P. Lane

The New York Times
October 10, 2007
In Mississippi, Democrat Runs in G.O.P. Lane
By ADAM NOSSITER

STARKVILLE, Miss., Oct. 5 — The candidate is running to serve his Creator. He is running to restore prayer in schools, bring Jesus into public discourse, force the “money changers” from the state capitol, and move his extensive gun collection into the governor’s mansion.

It is not extraordinary in the local context, except that John Arthur Eaves Jr., the man saying these things, is the Democratic candidate for governor of Mississippi. And the politician he is trying to unseat with these shots from the right is a Republican star, Gov. Haley Barbour.

And indeed Mr. Barbour looks ever more irritated by this upstart challenger’s talk of God-and-guns and banning abortion — a mirror-image strategy some call logical in this toughest of regions for Democrats.

The Mississippi governor, riding high on an image of competence after Hurricane Katrina, is unlikely to be toppled in the election, on Nov. 6, say analysts and even friends of Mr. Eaves, a born-again, largely self-financed trial lawyer wealthy from asbestos litigation and other cases who won the Democratic primary in August.

But the hybrid campaign — equal parts born-again Christian fervor and attacks on the “big tobacco companies, big oil companies, big insurance” that Mr. Eaves says are behind the campaign of Mr. Barbour, a former lobbyist — illustrates the steep challenges faced by Democrats in a region that has remained stubbornly loyal to Republicans, even as they lose ground everywhere else.

“Your only chance of winning is throwing a Hail Mary pass,” said Hob Bryan, a Democratic state senator. “Haley’s suddenly got to start talking to the Christians, and they were just supposed to vote for you anyway, because God says you can’t vote for a Democrat.”

The challenge for Democrats in Mississippi is to build on a base of perhaps 40 percent of the vote, made up of blacks and yellow-dog Democrat voters; it is a difficult though not insurmountable hurdle. With Mr. Barbour, the former Republican National Committee chairman, as an overwhelming favorite, Mr. Eaves has chosen to force a classic Republican gambit back on Republicans themselves.

Democrats in the South “always have to clear this cultural hurdle first,” said Thomas F. Schaller, associate professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and an expert on Southern politics. “This is, generally speaking, the way you have to do it in the South.”

Already, this most unorthodox of Democratic campaigns — a strange contortion of swings from the far right, aimed from the left — is attracting attention, some grass-roots support in a Deep South state with a history of hardshell populism, and enough last-minute scorn from Mr. Barbour that Eaves workers are gleeful merely at having forced the powerful incumbent on the attack.

On Main Street in the small towns, some nod appreciatively as Mr. Eaves evokes a “new day in Mississippi, where our children go to school with voluntary, student-led school prayers.”

As he intones in one television commercial, “We have a responsibility to provide a moral framework for our kids.”

Mr. Barbour, who will be 60 years old on Oct. 22, has clearly been annoyed to be the subject of such criticism from a Democrat. “My opponent loves to quote the Bible,” Mr. Barbour said sarcastically at a debate here last week — an unusual line of attack in a state with more churches per capita, by some counts, than any other. “I’ll spare you the sanctimony,” the governor said at another point, swatting down yet more inspiration from Scripture.

“This campaign should be on public policy,” the exasperated governor continued, at the debate at Mississippi State University here. “That’s what I want to focus on, making life better for Mississippians,” he insisted, after an evening of holy writ from Mr. Eaves.

The Eaves campaign, with its heavy emphasis on prayer and faith, says it is gaining with evangelicals and born-again Christians in Mississippi, a voting bloc making up perhaps half of the electorate here. And evangelicals are paying attention.

Observing from his headquarters in Tupelo, Miss., the Rev. Donald Wildmon, executive director of the American Family Association, a conservative Christian advocacy group, confesses to being flummoxed: “Here you have a Democrat, most of the time who are liberals, talking about issues you would expect coming from a conservative Republican. How’s that going to play out? I think it’s going to be interesting.”

Others — Mr. Barbour’s campaign staff members, along with some preachers — are skeptical, and national Democrats are nowhere to be seen around this race. Indeed, Mr. Eaves said some told him they were staying away because he is strongly anti-abortion. He even rebuked the Democratic National Committee for leaving Jesus out of an Easter statement.

Mr. Eaves, soft-spoken, smooth-faced and well-known in Mississippi even at 41 thanks to billboards, television advertisements and a few high-profile cases, does not see his venture as a hybrid.

“I’m a Democrat because Democrats invest in people; I’m a Democrat because I’m a Christian,” he said in a recent interview, after shaking hands at a diner in the courthouse town of Kosciusko. “Jesus came to help the people. He healed the sick, and he tried to help the poor. The Democrats’ core fiber is to help people. That was Jesus’ mission.”

The campaign has been replete with suggestions that Mr. Barbour has maintained a financial connection to his old lobbying firm in Washington. Mr. Barbour says his assets are held in a blind trust, the details of which he refuses to disclose, though one of his former partners has said the governor receives a fixed retirement “payment” from the firm.

“Governor, just come clean, tell us where your treasure is,” Mr. Eaves intoned in a preachery sing-song at last week’s debate.

On the stump, he makes far more headway with his message about prayer. Worship in school is clearly on the voters’ minds, at least as much as new jobs Mr. Barbour boasts of bringing with some splashy industrial catches.

As Mr. Eaves strode into the Choctaw County courthouse recently, in the tiny town of Ackerman, he was asked: “How do you put school prayer back in schools?” The question came unprompted from Dee Ann Williams in the county extension office. “Here’s how you do it,” Mr. Eaves answered readily. “Voluntary, student-led. We’re setting aside the time.”

Afterward, Ms. Williams said she was well satisfied with the answer.

At Pap’s Place, a diner on Main Street in Ackerman, the Bible was open under the Elvis albums and the Ten Commandments were on an engraved plaque in the window.

“John Arthur sounds pretty good. He’s going to cut the sales tax and put prayer back in schools,” said Charles Salley, behind the cash register, as Mr. Eaves’s bus pulled out of town.

“Put the Good Lord back in everything. That’s a priority,” Mr. Salley said.
clipped from www.nytimes.com

In Mississippi, Democrat Runs in G.O.P. Lane

Published: October 10, 2007

STARKVILLE, Miss., Oct. 5 — The candidate is running to serve his Creator. He is running to restore prayer in schools, bring Jesus into public discourse, force the “money changers” from the state capitol, and move his extensive gun collection into the governor’s mansion.

It is not extraordinary in the local context, except that John Arthur Eaves Jr., the man saying these things, is the Democratic candidate for governor of Mississippi. And the politician he is trying to unseat with these shots from the right is a Republican star, Gov. Haley Barbour.

And indeed Mr. Barbour looks ever more irritated by this upstart challenger’s talk of God-and-guns and banning abortion — a mirror-image strategy some call logical in this toughest of regions for Democrats.

just supposed to vote for you anyway, because God says you can’t vote for a Democrat.”
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Friday, October 05, 2007

Conservatives Are Such Jokers

Here's the full article:
----------------------------------------
The New York Times
October 5, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
Conservatives Are Such Jokers
By PAUL KRUGMAN

In 1960, John F. Kennedy, who had been shocked by the hunger he saw in West Virginia, made the fight against hunger a theme of his presidential campaign. After his election he created the modern food stamp program, which today helps millions of Americans get enough to eat.

But Ronald Reagan thought the issue of hunger in the world’s richest nation was nothing but a big joke. Here’s what Reagan said in his famous 1964 speech “A Time for Choosing,” which made him a national political figure: “We were told four years ago that 17 million people went to bed hungry each night. Well, that was probably true. They were all on a diet.”

Today’s leading conservatives are Reagan’s heirs. If you’re poor, if you don’t have health insurance, if you’re sick — well, they don’t think it’s a serious issue. In fact, they think it’s funny.

On Wednesday, President Bush vetoed legislation that would have expanded S-chip, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, providing health insurance to an estimated 3.8 million children who would otherwise lack coverage.

In anticipation of the veto, William Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard, had this to say: “First of all, whenever I hear anything described as a heartless assault on our children, I tend to think it’s a good idea. I’m happy that the president’s willing to do something bad for the kids.” Heh-heh-heh.

Most conservatives are more careful than Mr. Kristol. They try to preserve the appearance that they really do care about those less fortunate than themselves. But the truth is that they aren’t bothered by the fact that almost nine million children in America lack health insurance. They don’t think it’s a problem.

“I mean, people have access to health care in America,” said Mr. Bush in July. “After all, you just go to an emergency room.”

And on the day of the veto, Mr. Bush dismissed the whole issue of uninsured children as a media myth. Referring to Medicaid spending — which fails to reach many children — he declared that “when they say, well, poor children aren’t being covered in America, if that’s what you’re hearing on your TV screens, I’m telling you there’s $35.5 billion worth of reasons not to believe that.”

It’s not just the poor who find their travails belittled and mocked. The sick receive the same treatment.

Before the last election, the actor Michael J. Fox, who suffers from Parkinson’s and has become an advocate for stem cell research that might lead to a cure, made an ad in support of Claire McCaskill, the Democratic candidate for Senator in Missouri. It was an effective ad, in part because Mr. Fox’s affliction was obvious.

And Rush Limbaugh — displaying the same style he exhibited in his recent claim that members of the military who oppose the Iraq war are “phony soldiers” and his later comparison of a wounded vet who criticized him for that remark to a suicide bomber — immediately accused Mr. Fox of faking it. “In this commercial, he is exaggerating the effects of the disease. He is moving all around and shaking. And it’s purely an act.” Heh-heh-heh.

Of course, minimizing and mocking the suffering of others is a natural strategy for political figures who advocate lower taxes on the rich and less help for the poor and unlucky. But I believe that the lack of empathy shown by Mr. Limbaugh, Mr. Kristol, and, yes, Mr. Bush is genuine, not feigned.

Mark Crispin Miller, the author of “The Bush Dyslexicon,” once made a striking observation: all of the famous Bush malapropisms — “I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family,” and so on — have involved occasions when Mr. Bush was trying to sound caring and compassionate.

By contrast, Mr. Bush is articulate and even grammatical when he talks about punishing people; that’s when he’s speaking from the heart. The only animation Mr. Bush showed during the flooding of New Orleans was when he declared “zero tolerance of people breaking the law,” even those breaking into abandoned stores in search of the food and water they weren’t getting from his administration.

What’s happening, presumably, is that modern movement conservatism attracts a certain personality type. If you identify with the downtrodden, even a little, you don’t belong. If you think ridicule is an appropriate response to other peoples’ woes, you fit right in.

And Republican disillusionment with Mr. Bush does not appear to signal any change in that regard. On the contrary, the leading candidates for the Republican nomination have gone out of their way to condemn “socialism,” which is G.O.P.-speak for any attempt to help the less fortunate.

So once again, if you’re poor or you’re sick or you don’t have health insurance, remember this: these people think your problems are funny.
clipped from www.nytimes.com

Conservatives Are Such Jokers
By PAUL KRUGMAN
In 1960, John F. Kennedy, who had been shocked by the hunger he saw in West Virginia, made the fight against hunger a theme of his presidential campaign. After his election he created the modern food stamp program, which today helps millions of Americans get enough to eat.
But Ronald Reagan thought the issue of hunger in the world’s richest nation was nothing but a big joke. Here’s what Reagan said in his famous 1964 speech “A Time for Choosing,” which made him a national political figure: “We were told four years ago that 17 million people went to bed hungry each night. Well, that was probably true. They were all on a diet.”
Today’s leading conservatives are Reagan’s heirs. If you’re poor, if you don’t have health insurance, if you’re sick — well, they don’t think it’s a serious issue. In fact, they think it’s funny.
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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Our Schools Must Do Better

The New York Times
October 2, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
Our Schools Must Do Better
By BOB HERBERT

Boston

I asked a high school kid walking along Commonwealth Avenue if he knew who the vice president of the United States was.

He thought for a moment and then said, “No.”

I told him to take a guess.

He thought for another moment, looked at me skeptically, and finally gave up. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I don’t know.”

The latest federal test results showed some improvement in public school math and reading scores, but there is no reason to celebrate these minuscule gains. We need so much more. A four-year college degree is now all but mandatory for building and sustaining a middle-class standard of living in the U.S.

Over the next 20 or 30 years, when today’s children are raising children of their own in an ever more technologically advanced and globalized society, the educational requirements will only grow more rigorous and unforgiving.

A one- or two-point gain in fourth grade test scores here or there is not meaningful in the face of that overarching 21st-century challenge.

What’s needed is a wholesale transformation of the public school system from the broken-down postwar model of the past 50 or 60 years. The U.S. has not yet faced up to the fact that it needs a school system capable of fulfilling the educational needs of children growing up in an era that will be at least as different from the 20th century as the 20th was from the 19th.

“We’re not good at thinking about magnitudes,” said Thomas Kane, a professor of education and economics at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. “We’ve got a bunch of little things that we think are moving in the right direction, but we haven’t stepped back and thought, ‘O.K., how big an improvement are we really talking about?’ ” Professor Kane and I were discussing what he believes are the two areas that have the greatest potential for radically improving the way children are taught in the U.S. Both are being neglected by the education establishment.

The first is teacher quality, a topic that gets talked about incessantly. It has been known for decades that some teachers have huge positive effects on student achievement, and that others do poorly. The positive effect of the highest performing teachers on underachieving students is startling.

What is counterintuitive, but well documented, is that paper qualifications, such as teacher certification, have very little to do with whatever it is that makes good teachers effective.

“Regrettably,” said Professor Kane, who has studied this issue extensively, “we’ve never taken that research fact seriously in our teacher policy. We’ve done just the opposite.”

Concerned about raising the quality of teachers, states and local school districts have consistently focused on the credentials, rather than the demonstrated effectiveness — or ineffectiveness — of teachers in the classroom.

New forms of identifying good teachers and weeding out poor ones — by carefully assessing their on-the-job performance — have to be established before any transformation of American schools can occur.

This can be done without turning the traditional system of teacher tenure on its head. Studies have clearly shown that the good teachers and the not-so-good ones can usually be identified, if they are carefully observed in their first two or three years on the job — in other words, before tenure is granted.

Developing such a system would be difficult. But it’s both doable and essential. Getting serious about teacher quality as opposed to harping on tiny variations in test scores would be like moving from a jalopy to a jet.

The second area to be mined for potentially transformative effects is the wide and varied field of alternative school models. We should be rigorously studying those schools that appear to be having the biggest positive effects on student achievement. Are the effects real? If so, what accounts for them?

The Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP), to cite one example, is a charter school network that has consistently gotten extraordinary academic results from low-income students. It has worked in cities big and small, and in rural areas. Like other successful models, it has adopted a longer school day and places great demands on its teachers and students.

Said Professor Kane: “These alternative models that involve the longer school day and a much more dramatic intervention for kids are promising. If that’s what it takes, then we need to know that, and sooner rather than later.”

If American kids — all American kids, not just the children of the elite — are to have a fair chance at a rewarding life over the next several decades, we’ve got to give them a school system adequate to the times. They need something better than a post-World War II system in a post-9/11 world.
clipped from www.nytimes.com

Our Schools Must Do Better

Published: October 2, 2007

Over the next 20 or 30 years, when today’s children are raising children of their own in an ever more technologically advanced and globalized society, the educational requirements will only grow more rigorous and unforgiving.

A one- or two-point gain in fourth grade test scores here or there is not meaningful in the face of that overarching 21st-century challenge.

What’s needed is a wholesale transformation of the public school system from the broken-down postwar model of the past 50 or 60 years. The U.S. has not yet faced up to the fact that it needs a school system capable of fulfilling the educational needs of children growing up in an era that will be at least as different from the 20th century as the 20th was from the 19th.

teacher certification, have very little to do with whatever it is that makes good teachers effective.
The Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP),
It has worked in cities big and small, and in rural
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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Ayn Rand’s Literature of Capitalism

The New York Times
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September 15, 2007

Ayn Rand’s Literature of Capitalism

One of the most influential business books ever written is a 1,200-page novel published 50 years ago, on Oct. 12, 1957. It is still drawing readers; it ranks 388th on Amazon.com’s best-seller list. (“Winning,” by John F. Welch Jr., at a breezy 384 pages, is No. 1,431.)

The book is “Atlas Shrugged,” Ayn Rand’s glorification of the right of individuals to live entirely for their own interest.

For years, Rand’s message was attacked by intellectuals whom her circle labeled “do-gooders,” who argued that individuals should also work in the service of others. Her book was dismissed as an homage to greed. Gore Vidal described its philosophy as “nearly perfect in its immorality.”

But the book attracted a coterie of fans, some of them top corporate executives, who dared not speak of its impact except in private. When they read the book, often as college students, they now say, it gave form and substance to their inchoate thoughts, showing there is no conflict between private ambition and public benefit.

“I know from talking to a lot of Fortune 500 C.E.O.’s that ‘Atlas Shrugged’ has had a significant effect on their business decisions, even if they don’t agree with all of Ayn Rand’s ideas,” said John A. Allison, the chief executive of BB&T, one of the largest banks in the United States.

“It offers something other books don’t: the principles that apply to business and to life in general. I would call it complete,” he said.

One of Rand’s most famous devotees is Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, whose memoir, “The Age of Turbulence,” will be officially released Monday.

Mr. Greenspan met Rand when he was 25 and working as an economic forecaster. She was already renowned as the author of “The Fountainhead,” a novel about an architect true to his principles. Mr. Greenspan had married a member of Rand’s inner circle, known as the Collective, that met every Saturday night in her New York apartment. Rand did not pay much attention to Mr. Greenspan until he began praising drafts of “Atlas,” which she read aloud to her disciples, according to Jeff Britting, the archivist of Ayn Rand’s papers. He was attracted, Mr. Britting said, to “her moral defense of capitalism.”

Rand’s free-market philosophy was hard won. She was born in 1905 in Russia. Her life changed overnight when the Bolsheviks broke into her father’s pharmacy and declared his livelihood the property of the state. She fled the Soviet Union in 1926 and arrived later that year in Hollywood, where she peered through a gate at the set where the director Cecil B. DeMille was filming a silent movie, “King of Kings.”

He offered her a ride to the set, then a job as an extra on the film and later a position as a junior screenwriter. She sold several screenplays and intermittently wrote novels that were commercial failures, until 1943, when fans of “The Fountainhead” began a word-of-mouth campaign that helped sales immensely.

Shortly after “Atlas Shrugged” was published in 1957, Mr. Greenspan wrote a letter to The New York Times to counter a critic’s comment that “the book was written out of hate.” Mr. Greenspan wrote: “ ‘Atlas Shrugged’ is a celebration of life and happiness. Justice is unrelenting. Creative individuals and undeviating purpose and rationality achieve joy and fulfillment. Parasites who persistently avoid either purpose or reason perish as they should.”

Rand’s magazine, The Objectivist, later published several essays by Mr. Greenspan, including one on the gold standard in 1966.

Rand called “Atlas” a mystery, “not about the murder of man’s body, but about the murder — and rebirth — of man’s spirit.” It begins in a time of recession. To save the economy, the hero, John Galt, calls for a strike against government interference. Factories, farms and shops shut down. Riots break out as food becomes scarce.

Rand said she “set out to show how desperately the world needs prime movers and how viciously it treats them” and to portray “what happens to a world without them.”

The book was released to terrible reviews. Critics faulted its length, its philosophy and its literary ambitions. Both conservatives and liberals were unstinting in disparaging the book; the right saw promotion of godlessness, and the left saw a message of “greed is good.” Rand is said to have cried every day as the reviews came out.

Rand had a reputation for living for her own interest. She is said to have seduced her most serious reader, Nathaniel Branden, when he was 24 or 25 and she was at least 50. Each was married to someone else. In fact, Mr. Britting confirmed, they called their spouses to a meeting at which the pair announced their intention to make the mentor-protégé relationship a sexual one.

“She wasn’t a nice person, ” said Darla Moore, vice president of the private investment firm Rainwater Inc. “But what a gift she’s given us.”

Ms. Moore, a benefactor of the University of South Carolina, spoke of her debt to Rand in 1998, when the business school at the university was named in Ms. Moore’s honor. “As a woman and a Southerner,” she said, “I thrived on Rand’s message that only quality work counted, not who you are.”

Rand’s idea of “the virtue of selfishness,” Ms. Moore said, “is a harsh phrase for the Buddhist idea that you have to take care of yourself.”

Some business leaders might be unsettled by the idea that the only thing members of the leadership class have in common is their success. James M. Kilts, who led turnarounds at Gillette, Nabisco and Kraft, said he encountered “Atlas” at “a time in college life when everybody was a nihilist, anti-establishment, and a collectivist.” He found her writing reassuring because it made success seem rational.

“Rand believed that there is right and wrong,” he said, “that excellence should be your goal.”

John P. Stack is one business executive who has taken Rand’s ideas to heart. He was chief executive of Springfield Remanufacturing Company, a retooler of tractor engines in Springfield, Mo., when its parent company, International Harvester, divested itself of the firm in the recession of 1982, the year Rand died.

Having lost his sole customer in a struggling Rust Belt city, Mr. Stack says, he took action like a hero out of “Atlas.” He created an “open book” company in which employees were transparently working in their own interest.

Mr. Stack says that he assigned every job a bottom line value and that every salary, including his own, was posted on a company ticker daily. Workplaces, he said, are notoriously undemocratic, emotionally charged and political.

Mr. Stack says his free market replaced all that with rational behavior. A machinist knew exactly what his working hour contributed to the bottom line, and therefore the cost of slacking off. This, Mr. Stack said, was a manifestation of the philosophy of objectivism in “Atlas”: people guided by reason and self-interest.

“There is something in your inner self that Rand draws out,” Mr. Stack said. “You want to be a hero, you want to be right, but by the same token you have to question yourself, though you must not listen to interference thrown at you by the distracters. The lawyers told me not to open the books and share equity.” He said he defied them. “ ‘Atlas’ helped me pursue this idiot dream that became SRC.”

Mr. Stack said he was 19 and working in a factory when a manager gave him a copy of the book. “It’s the best business book I ever read,” he said. “I didn’t do well in school because I was a big dreamer. To get something that tells you to take your dreams seriously, that’s an eye opener.”

Mr. Stack said he gave a copy to his son, Tim Stack, 25, who was so inspired that he went to work for a railroad, just like the novel’s heroine, Dagny Taggart.

Every year, 400,000 copies of Rand’s novels are offered free to Advanced Placement high school programs. They are paid for by the Ayn Rand Institute, whose director, Yaron Brook, said the mission was “to keep Rand alive.”

Last year, bookstores sold 150,000 copies of the book. It continues to hold appeal, even to a younger generation. Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, who was born in 1958, and John P. Mackey, the chief executive of Whole Foods, who was 3 when the book was published, have said they consider Rand crucial to their success.

The book’s hero, John Galt, also continues to live on. The subcontractor hired to demolish the former Deutsche Bank building, which was damaged when the World Trade Center towers fell, was the John Galt Corporation. It was removed from the job last month after a fire at the building killed two firefighters.

In Chicago, there is John Galt Solutions, a producer of software for supply chain companies like Tastykake. The founder and chief executive of the company, Annemarie Omrod, said she considered the character an inspiration.

“We were reading the book,” she said, when she and Kai Trepte were thinking of starting the company. “For us, the book symbolized the importance of growing yourself and bettering yourself without hindering other people. John Galt took all the great minds and started a new society.

“Some of our customers don’t know the name, though after they meet us, they want to read the book,” she went on. “Our sales reps have a problem, however. New clients usually ask: ‘Hey, where is John Galt? How come I’m not important enough to rate a visit from John Galt?’ ”








Ayn Rand’s Literature of Capitalism
One of the most influential business books ever written is a 1,200-page novel published 50 years ago, on Oct. 12, 1957. It is still drawing readers; it ranks 388th on Amazon.com’s best-seller list. (“Winning,” by John F. Welch Jr., at a breezy 384 pages, is No. 1,431.)
The book is “Atlas Shrugged,” Ayn Rand’s glorification of the right of individuals to live entirely for their own interest.
For years, Rand’s message was attacked by intellectuals whom her circle labeled “do-gooders,” who argued that individuals should also work in the service of others. Her book was dismissed as an homage to greed. Gore Vidal described its philosophy as “nearly perfect in its immorality.”
One of Rand’s most famous devotees is Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, whose memoir, “The Age of Turbulence,” will be officially released Monday.
Mr. Greenspan met Rand when he was 25 and working as an economic forecaster.
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Fed’s Ex-Chief Attacks Bush on Fiscal Role

The New York Times
September 15, 2007
Fed’s Ex-Chief Attacks Bush on Fiscal Role
By EDMUND L. ANDREWS and DAVID E. SANGER

WASHINGTON, Sept. 14 — Alan Greenspan, who was chairman of the Federal Reserve for nearly two decades, in a long-awaited memoir, is harshly critical of President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and the Republican-controlled Congress, as abandoning their party’s principles on spending and deficits.

In the 500-page book, “The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World,” Mr. Greenspan describes the Bush administration as so captive to its own political operation that it paid little attention to fiscal discipline, and he described Mr. Bush’s first two Treasury secretaries, Paul H. O’Neill and John W. Snow, as essentially powerless.

Mr. Bush, he writes, was never willing to contain spending or veto bills that drove the country into deeper and deeper deficits, as Congress abandoned rules that required that the cost of tax cuts be offset by savings elsewhere. “The Republicans in Congress lost their way,” writes Mr. Greenspan, a self-described “libertarian Republican.”

“They swapped principle for power. They ended up with neither. They deserved to lose” in the 2006 election, when they lost control of the House and Senate.

As officials leave the Bush administration, there is no shortage of criticism of this White House: Disenchanted hawks are writing that Mr. Bush has abandoned the certainties of the first term and taken too soft a line on North Korea and Iran; from the other side of the spectrum, former officials are telling tales about how the administration bent rules on torture or domestic spying.

But Mr. Greenspan, now 81, is in a different class, by dint of his fame, his economic authority and his service across party lines. His critiques are likely to have more resonance among Mr. Bush’s base.

His book was provided to The New York Times by his publisher, Penguin Press, under an agreement that nothing would be reported until its publication date, on Monday. But The Wall Street Journal, saying it had purchased a copy from a retailer, published excerpts on its Web site on Friday night, freeing other news organizations to do the same.

Much of the book concerns Mr. Greenspan’s reflections on markets, globalization and the media’s fascination with the thickness of his briefcase on the way to meetings of the Federal Open Market Committee, which sets interest rates.

He praises President Bush for letting the Fed stay independent of political pressure, saying he was scrupulous in not trying to interfere with monetary policy — which he contrasts sharply with the pressure exerted by his father, George H. W. Bush, in the early 1990s. For years, the first President Bush has blamed Mr. Greenspan for contributing to his defeat in 1992 by failing to prevent a recession by cutting interest rates.

Of the presidents he worked with, Mr. Greenspan reserves his highest praise for Bill Clinton, whom he described in his book as a sponge for economic data who maintained “a consistent, disciplined focus on long-term economic growth.”

It was a presidency marred by the Monica Lewinsky scandal, he writes, but he fondly describes his alliance with two of Mr. Clinton’s Treasury secretaries, Robert E. Rubin and Lawrence H. Summers, in battling financial crises in Latin America and then Asia.

By contrast, Mr. Greenspan paints a picture of Mr. Bush as a man driven more by ideology and the desire to fulfill campaign promises made in 2000, incurious about the effects of his economic policy, and an administration incapable of executing policy.

The White House is clearly not eager to get into a public argument with Mr. Greenspan, whom President Bush reappointed to a fifth term in May 2004. But they pushed back at Mr. Greenspan’s central themes.

“The Republican leadership in the House and Senate kept to our top number,” Tony Fratto, a White House spokesman, said. Veto threats worked, he said, to keep spending within caps set by the White House. “We’re not going to apologize for standing up the Department of Homeland Security and fighting terror.”

Mr. Greenspan described his own emotional journey in dealing with Mr. Bush, from an initial elation about the return of his old friends from the Ford White House — including Mr. Cheney and Donald H. Rumsfeld, secretary of defense — to astonishment and then disappointment at how much they had changed.

“I indulged in a bit of fantasy, envisioning this as the government that might have existed had Gerald Ford garnered the extra 1 percent of the vote he’d needed to edge past Jimmy Carter,” Mr. Greenspan writes in his memoir. “I thought we had a golden opportunity to advance the ideals of effective, fiscally conservative government and free markets.”

Instead, Mr. Greenspan continued, “I was soon to see my old friends veer off in unexpected directions.” He expected Mr. Bush to veto spending bills, he writes, but was told that the president believed he could control J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois, the Republican speaker of the House, better by signing them.

“My friend,” he writes of Mr. O’Neill, “soon found himself to be the odd man out; much to my disappointment, economic policymaking in the Bush administration remained firmly in the hands of the White House staff.”

He was clearly referring to the political team led by Karl Rove at the White House. Mr. Rove was a neighbor of Mr. Greenspan in a leafy enclave near the Potomac River, but the two men almost never had a conversation.

In responding to Mr. Greenspan, Mr. Fratto of the White House disputed the accusation that Mr. O’Neill’s economic arguments were ignored. “Just because you don’t carry the day doesn’t mean your views weren’t considered,” Mr. Fratto said.

Though Mr. Greenspan does not admit he made a mistake, he shows remorse about how Republicans jumped on his endorsement of the 2001 tax cuts to push through unconditional cuts without any safeguards against surprises. He recounts how Mr. Rubin and Senator Kent Conrad, Democrat of North Dakota, begged him to hold off on an endorsement because of how it would be perceived.

“It turned out that Conrad and Rubin were right,” he acknowledges glumly. He says Republican leaders in Congress made a grievous error in spending whatever it took to ensure a permanent Republican majority.

Mr. Greenspan has critics as well, and they are likely to weigh in as soon as the book is published. Though he publicly disagreed with Mr. Bush’s supply-side approach to tax cuts, urging Congress to offset the cost with savings elsewhere, he refrained from public criticism that could have shifted the debate. His willingness to criticize now, 18 months after leaving office, may open him to the accusation of failing to speak out when it could have affected policy.

Today, Mr. Greenspan is indignant and chagrined about his role in the Bush tax cuts. “I’d have given the same testimony if Al Gore had been president,” he writes, complaining that his words had been distorted by supporters and opponents of the cuts.

Mr. Greenspan, of course, had been the ultimate Washington insider for years, and knew full well that politicians cited his words selectively to suit their agendas. He was also legendary for ducking delicate issues by, as he once said, “mumbling with great incoherence.”

Mr. Greenspan’s memoir describes at some length the monetary policies that many economists say fostered the extraordinary economic boom of the 1990s. In what is widely regarded as a brilliant insight, Mr. Greenspan became convinced the United States could grow faster than generally thought because productivity was climbing much faster than the official statistics implied.

Mr. Greenspan writes briefly about what may become a more troubling legacy, the housing bubble, and now the bust, that was fueled by low interest rates and risky mortgages in the last six years.

Some economists argue that Mr. Greenspan deserves considerable blame, because the Fed slashed interest rates to rock-bottom lows and kept them there for three years after the stock market collapse and the recession in 2001.

The Fed was “a prime culprit in creating the crisis,” wrote Steve Forbes, publisher of Forbes magazine, in a just-published commentary. But other economists, including critics of Mr. Greenspan, say the housing bubble resulted from much broader forces, including a dramatic drop of interest rates around the world and an explosion of mortgages that required no money down, no income verification and deceptively low initial teaser rates.

Mr. Greenspan generically defends the Fed’s action, writing: “I believed then, as now, that the benefits of broadened home ownership are worth the risk. Protection of property rights, so critical to a market economy, requires a critical mass of owners to sustain political support.”

The book appears in stores on Monday, the day before the Fed is expected to lower interest rates in an effort to prevent the collapsing housing market from taking the rest of the economy down with it.
clipped from www.nytimes.com

Fed’s Ex-Chief Attacks Bush on Fiscal Role
WASHINGTON, Sept. 14 — Alan Greenspan, who was chairman of the Federal Reserve for nearly two decades, in a long-awaited memoir, is harshly critical of President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and the Republican-controlled Congress, as abandoning their party’s principles on spending and deficits.
Mr. Greenspan describes the Bush administration as so captive to its own political operation that it paid little attention to fiscal discipline, and he described Mr. Bush’s first two Treasury secretaries, Paul H. O’Neill and John W. Snow, as essentially powerless.
“They swapped principle for power. They ended up with neither. They deserved to lose” in the 2006 election, when they lost control of the House and Senate.
Of the presidents he worked with, Mr. Greenspan reserves his highest praise for Bill Clinton, whom he described in his book as a sponge for economic data who maintained “a consistent, disciplined focus on long-term economic growth.”
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Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Note That Makes Us Weep

The New York Times
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September 9, 2007
High C

The Note That Makes Us Weep

A PUBLICIST long ago gave Luciano Pavarotti the sobriquet King of the High C’s, for his remarkable ability to hit and sing the heck out of one of the highest notes of the tenor voice. The tag followed Mr. Pavarotti, who died last week, into most of his obituaries.

His voice, especially earlier in his career, was remarkable across its range. But that little note, an octave above middle C on the piano, played a role in projecting Mr. Pavarotti’s fame around the world. That is no surprise. The tenor high C has a long and noble tradition, and a healthy dose of mystique.

“It’s the absolute summit of technique,” said Craig Rutenberg, the Metropolitan Opera’s director of musical administration — in effect, its chief vocal coach. “More than anywhere else in your voice, you have to know what you’re doing. To me it signals a self-confidence in the singer that lets him communicate to us that he knows what he’s doing and he has something very important to express with that note.”

Tenor high C’s are scattered throughout the opera literature. Sometimes tenors transpose the aria down slightly or drop an octave, other times they fake it and edge into falsetto voice, where it is easier to sing. Just as often, they hit it, and hold it, and that moment is one of the most exciting in an opera house. It is moments like those when opera, in addition to the aesthetic joys and emotional satisfactions, can seem like a spectator sport or a circus high-wire act. They’re times when opera audiences cheer or jeer.

But the high C has a more visceral, spine-tingling lure.

“The reason it’s so exciting to people is, it’s based on the human cry,” said Maitland Peters, chairman of the voice department at the Manhattan School of Music. “It’s instinctual. It’s like a baby. You’re pulled into it.” When a tenor sings a ringing high C, it seems, “there’s nothing in his way,” Mr. Peters said.

The pitch, in itself, has a satisfying quality. The key of C major, after all, is a stable, cheerful, happy key, the one with no sharps or flats.

Fascination may also derive from the fact that high tenor notes are somewhat freakish. Women have high voices, and men have low voices. For a male to sing that high with such power somehow seems unnatural.

With one important exception: through the 18th century, the most celebrated singers were castrati, boys altered before puberty who grew into men with powerful high voices. Un-altered tenors rarely got higher than an A without singing falsetto. Many of their roles were decidedly unheroic, like the slightly wimpy Don Ottavio in Mozart’s “Don Giovanni.” But the style was one of grace and agility.

Then, with the rise of Romanticism and a taste for bolder singing — and perhaps a distaste for gelding — the modern tenor voice was born. The first notable tenor to hit a modern high C was the Frenchman Gilbert-Louis Duprez. He sang the note not with a falsetto but with a chest voice, at the first performance of Rossini’s “Guillaume Tell,” in 1831. Rossini was not pleased. The sound, he said, was like “the squawk of a capon with its throat cut.”

But there was no turning back, especially with the heroic tenor voices demanded by Wagnerian opera.

In the mid-20th century, Alfredo Kraus, Franco Corelli and Jussi Bjoerling had great high C’s. Curiously, Enrico Caruso, arguably the greatest opera celebrity, had a weak one and had to work hard to develop his top. Plácido Domingo, who extended his voice up from the baritone range and who is widely admired for his musicianship and artistry, is also not known for pinging high C’s. An unkind joke among singers has him dubbed “Mingo.” “Where’s the ‘Do?’ ” someone is asked. “He doesn’t have one,” goes the answer, “do” being the singing syllable for C.

Mr. Pavarotti won his place in the pantheon of high C’s with a run of Donizetti’s “Fille du Régiment” in the 1972-1973 season at the Met. The aria “Pour mon âme” calls for nine of them in a row, and Mr. Pavarotti tossed them off brilliantly. In 1995, it was a different story. Singing the same aria, he transposed the notes down, missed the first and eventually left the stage for his understudy to take over.

Being able to hit the note consistently, in the context of a moving line and with a ringing, beautiful sound, requires talent, but also technique.

Mr. Peters, of the Manhattan School, said the chest voice, the strongest source of sound, and the head voice, where the sound vibrates in the head’s cavities, must be perfectly balanced. The base of the tongue, the jaw, the larynx must all lie in just the right position, unrestricted by tension.

Mr. Pavarotti once described the feeling this way: “Excited and happy, but with a strong undercurrent of fear. The moment I actually hit the note, I almost lose consciousness. A physical, animal sensation seizes me. Then I regain control.”

The tenor Juan Diego Flórez, also acclaimed for his top, will sing “Fille” at the Met in April. He said in an interview on Thursday that he imagines a keyboard in his head, and reaches for the note there.

“You think very high,” he said. “You give a lot of space in your throat.” Mr. Flórez said that as he is heading for the high C’s in “Fille,” he feels the adrenaline flow. “It has to sound very spontaneous and happy,” he said. “You have to hit them without effort. But that’s the acting. You’re concentrating on making those notes sound great.”

When he feels them vibrating correctly in his head, the pleasure is deep. “The public can feel that,” he said.

Sometimes, a pleasure it ain’t. Adolphe Nourrit was the reigning tenor in Paris until Duprez came along with that new-fangled C. Nourrit struggled to keep up with his younger rival, but could not muster the note. That fact, it was said, helped lead him to suicide.

Quite possibly a case of death on the high C’s.

clipped from www.nytimes.com

The Note That Makes Us Weep


THE THRILLS, THE CHILLS, THE HIGH C Pavarotti knew his way to the note.

Published: September 9, 2007

A PUBLICIST long ago gave Luciano Pavarotti the sobriquet King of the High C’s, for his remarkable ability to hit and sing the heck out of one of the highest notes of the tenor voice. The tag followed Mr. Pavarotti, who died last week, into most of his obituaries.

His voice, especially earlier in his career, was remarkable across its range. But that little note, an octave above middle C on the piano, played a role in projecting Mr. Pavarotti’s fame around the world. That is no surprise. The tenor high C has a long and noble tradition, and a healthy dose of mystique.

Mr. Pavarotti once described the feeling this way: “Excited and happy, but with a strong undercurrent of fear. The moment I actually hit the note, I almost lose consciousness. A physical, animal sensation seizes me. Then I regain control.”

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Anxious About Tomorrow

Full post from NYTimes.
The New York Times
September 1, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

Anxious About Tomorrow
By BOB HERBERT

You know you’ve stepped into a different universe when you hear a major American labor leader saying matter-of-factly that employer-based health insurance and employer-based pensions are relics of a bygone industrial economy.

Andrew Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, which has 1.9 million members and is the fastest-growing union in the country, is not your ordinary union leader. With Labor Day approaching, he was reflecting on some of the challenges facing workers in a post-20th-century globalized economy.

“I just don’t think that as a country we’ve conceptualized that this is not our father’s or our grandfather’s economy,” Mr. Stern said in an interview. “We’re going through profound change and we have no plan.”

The feeling that seems to override all others for workers is anxiety. American families, already saddled with enormous debt, are trying to make it in an environment in which employment is becoming increasingly contingent and subject to worldwide competition. Health insurance, unaffordable for millions, is a huge problem. And guaranteed pensions are going the way of typewriter ribbons and carbon paper.

“We’re ending defined benefit pensions in front of our eyes,” said Mr. Stern. “I’d say today’s retirement plan for young workers is: ‘I’m going to work until I die.’ ”

The result of all of this — along with such problems as the mortgage and housing crisis, and a domestic economy that is doing nothing to improve living standards for ordinary Americans — is fear.

“Workers are incredibly, legitimately scared that the American dream, particularly the belief that their kids will do better, is ending,” said Mr. Stern. He is trying to get across the idea that in a period of such profound change, the old templates, the traditional ideas and policies of even the most progressive thinkers and officeholders, will not be sufficient to meet the new challenges.

“We can’t be the only country on earth that asks our employers to put the price of health care on its products when a lot of our competitors don’t,” he said. “And job security? Even if you want to stay with your employer, as in the old economic model, we’re seeing in many industries that your employer is not going to be around to stay with you.”

A comprehensive new approach is needed, but what should that approach be? Franklin Roosevelt always hoped to inject a measure of economic security into the lives of ordinary Americans. But the New Deal was seven decades ago. Workers are insecure now for a host of different reasons and Mr. Stern wants the labor movement to be part of a vast cooperative effort to develop the solutions appropriate to today’s environment.

He told me, “I’d like to say to the Democrats that we are as far today from the New Deal as the New Deal was from the Civil War.”

He wants more people to pay attention to the big issues that affect not just union workers but all working families: How do you bring health care to all? What do you do about retirement security? How will the jobs of the 21st century be created?

And what about schools, energy, global warming, the environment?

Mr. Stern tends to see the nation as a team and wants the team to pull together to develop a creative vision of what the U.S. should be about in the 21st century. A cornerstone of that vision, he said, should be adherence to the “primary value” of rewarding work.

“We’re a team in the 21st-century period of rapid change and competition,” he said. “And right now, we don’t have leadership, and we don’t have a plan. At the same time, a group of people are enriching themselves far beyond anything that’s reasonable.”

What he would like to see, he said, is a large group of thoughtful people from various walks of American life — business, labor, government, academia and so forth — convened to begin the serious work of cooperatively developing a real-world vision of a society that is fairer, healthier, better educated, better prepared to compete globally, and more economically secure.

“I think you’re already seeing the beginnings of odd formations of people who appreciate, issue by issue, that we have to do something different here,” he said.

The kind of effort Mr. Stern would like to see would logically be initiated at the highest levels of government, preferably the White House. But if that’s not in the cards, someone else should take up the challenge. And there should be a sense of urgency about it.

The fears of America’s workers are well founded. “There’s something wrong with the system right now,” said Mr. Stern, “and we can’t just say, ‘Well, it’s all going to work out.’ It’s not.”
clipped from select.nytimes.com

Anxious About Tomorrow

Published: September 1, 2007
employer-based health insurance and employer-based pensions are relics of a bygone industrial economy.
Andrew Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union,
“We’re going through profound change and we have no plan.”
American families, already saddled with enormous debt, are trying to make it in an environment in which employment is becoming increasingly contingent and subject to worldwide competition.
today’s retirement plan for young workers is: ‘I’m going to work until I die.’ ”
The result of all of this — along with such problems as the mortgage and housing crisis, and a domestic economy that is doing nothing to improve living standards for ordinary Americans — is fear.
Mr. Stern tends to see the nation as a team and wants the team to pull together to develop a creative vision of what the U.S. should be about in the 21st century.
“There’s something wrong with the system right now,”
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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Goodbye Karl Rove....Good-Riddence

NYtimes editorial in full:

The New York Times
August 14, 2007
Op-Ed Contributor
Building a Coalition, Forgetting to Rule
By DAVID FRUM

AS a political strategist, Karl Rove offered a brilliant answer to the wrong question.

The question he answered so successfully was a political one: How could Republicans win elections after Bill Clinton steered the Democrats to the center?

The question he unfortunately ignored was a policy question: What does the nation need — and how can conservatives achieve it?

Mr. Rove answered his chosen question by courting carefully selected constituencies with poll-tested promises: tax cuts for traditional conservatives; the No Child Left Behind law for suburban moderates; prescription drugs for anxious seniors; open immigration for Hispanics; faith-based programs for evangelicals and Catholics.

These programs often contradicted each other. How do you cut taxes and also create a big new prescription drug benefit? If the schools are failing to educate the nation’s poor, how does it make sense to expand that population by opening the door to even more low-wage immigration?

Instead of seeking solutions to national problems, “compassionate conservatism” started with slogans and went searching for problems to justify them. To what problem, exactly, was the faith-based initiative a solution?

This was a politics of party-building and coalition-assembly. It was a politics that aimed at winning elections. It was a politics that treated the problems of governance as secondary. But of course governance is what incumbents get judged on — and since 2004, the negative verdict on President Bush’s governance has created a lethal political environment for Republican candidates.

Inspiring rhetoric and solemn promises can do only so much for an incumbent administration. Can it win wars? Can it respond to natural disasters? Can it safeguard the nation’s borders? Can it fill positions of responsibility with worthy appointees? If it cannot do those things, not even the most sophisticated get-out-the-vote operation can save it.

This is not to say Karl Rove’s detractors have him pegged. For instance, they often accuse him of practicing “wedge politics” and fomenting “polarization.” They never seem to understand that polarization and wedge politics are very different things, indeed direct opposites.

Wedge politics unites a large constituency on one side, while splitting the coalition on the other side. In the 1970s, crime was a wedge issue: pushing white urban Democrats away from their black and liberal New Deal allies. In this strict sense, the only wedge issue Mr. Rove deployed was immigration, and he deployed it against his own side, dividing business donors from the conservative voting base.

Polarization, however, is Karl Rove’s specialty. He united his own base on one side — and united his opponents on the other. Al Gore and John Kerry each won 48 percent, the best back-to-back performance by a losing party since the 19th century. Play-to-the-base politics can be a smart strategy — so long as your base is larger than your opponents’.

But it has been apparent for many years that the Democratic base is growing faster than the Republican base. The numbers of the unmarried and the non-churchgoing are growing faster than the numbers of married and church-going Americans. The nonwhite and immigrant population is growing at a faster rate than that of white native-borns. The Democrats are the party of the top and bottom of American society; the Republicans do best in the great American middle, which is losing ground.

Mr. Rove often reminded me of a miner extracting the last nuggets from an exhausted seam. His attempts to prospect a new motherlode have led the Republican party into the immigration debacle.

In my brief service as a speechwriter inside the Bush administration, I often wondered why it was that skeptical experts on issues like immigration could never get even a hearing for their point of view. We took the self-evident brilliance of our plans so much for granted that we would not even meet, for example, with conservative academics who had the facts and figures to demonstrate the illusion of Rovian hopes for a breakthrough among Hispanic voters. We were so mesmerized by the specious analogies between 1996 and 1896 that we forgot that analogies are literary devices, not evidence.

In 2006, Republicans and conservatives paid the price for this we-know-best attitude. I fear that we will pay an even higher price in 2008.

Building coalitions is essential to political success. But it is not the same thing as political success. The point of politics is to elect governments, and political organizations are ultimately judged by the quality of government they deliver. Paradoxically, the antigovernment conservatives of the 1980s took the problems of government far more seriously than the pro-government conservatives of the 2000s.

The outlook is not, however, entirely bleak for Republicans. I notice that much of the Democratic party, and especially its activist netroots, has decided that the way to beat Rove Republicanism is by emulating it. They are practicing the politics of polarization; they are elevating “framing” above policy; they have decided that winning the next election by any means is all that matters — and never mind what happens on the day after that.

If they follow this path, they should not be surprised when they discover that it leads to the same destination.

David Frum, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, is the author of the forthcoming “Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again.”

clipped from www.nytimes.com

Building a Coalition, Forgetting to Rule

AS a political strategist, Karl Rove offered a brilliant answer to the wrong question.


The question he answered so successfully was a political one: How could Republicans win elections after Bill Clinton steered the Democrats to the center?

The question he unfortunately ignored was a policy question: What does the nation need — and how can conservatives achieve it?

Mr. Rove answered his chosen question by courting carefully selected constituencies with poll-tested promises: tax cuts for traditional conservatives; the No Child Left Behind law for suburban moderates; prescription drugs for anxious seniors; open immigration for Hispanics; faith-based programs for evangelicals and Catholics.
This was a politics of party-building and coalition-assembly. It was a politics that aimed at winning elections. It was a politics that treated the problems of governance as secondary.
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Native of the Philadelphia "Kensington and Alleganey" northeast area. I spent 4 years in the Air Force (Titan-II missles in Tuscon Arizona). I Am currently retired, and among other adventures I spent 28 years working for AT&T in Telecommunications. I've lived in Florida for 33 years....20 years in Hollywood Fla., and 13 years North Florida. I've been married 42 years, and am a proud father of three adult offspring. All of them contributing to society in a very useful and creative manner.