Tom's Thoughts

Location: Granite Falls, North Carolina, United States

I'm an ordained United Methodist minister no longer pastoring churches, a former media producer with skills ten years out of date, a writer trying to sell my first novel, and a sales associate keeping body and soul together working for the People's Republic of Corporate America. I'm married to the most wonderful woman in the world, who was my best friend for 17 years before we married.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Random Thoughts

After investing in a new hard drive in March or so, my DVD-ROM drive went out. My computer didn't know it had one, and when I took it to the shop, it wouldn't even boot up with the drive attached. I bought a new one and when I got it home it couldn't find the boot-up record on the hard drive. So I broke down and bought a new one. I also joined the 21st. Century and got high-speed internet. Love it.

Now, to the less pleasant stuff. I notice the Republicans (including a rebuttal to my latest letter to the Hickory Daily Liar) are falling back on the old "You're another" defense. They scream about Gary Stubbs and Bill Clinton, both of whom got caught doing with people over the age of legal consent what goes on in corporate offices all over America all the time. They can't understand how these two got to keep their jobs when Ken Foley had to resign from Congress.

Well, Gary Stubbs was reelected by his constituents just like Cass Ballenger was reelected by the voters of this district in spite of his repeated votes in Congress against the interests of the working people here. And the Republican Congress was not able to make the case that two consenting adults doing what goes on in Corporate America (and in some Republican Congressional offices, I'd bet) was criminal enough to warrant reversing an election.

Meanwhile the Republican leadership did something the Democratic leadership never did: circle the wagons to protect a child molester.

I am appalled at the ignorance that can't see that distinction. Or is it the cynicism and manipulation of the sheeple that tries to equate them?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

More on the People's Republic of Corporate America

I wonder how many people on the boards of directors of major corporations actually know jack sh-- about the business they are in. How many members of the board of directors of any retail giant have ever stood on a sales floor, looked a customer in the eye, and tried to justify policies that make absolutely no sense whatsoever?

How many members of the boards of directors of the home improvement giants have ever hammered a nail?

How many members of the boards of directors of the major oil companies have ever actually been to an oil well?

How many members of the boards of directors of manufacturing companies have ever actually worked on an assembly line?

How many steel executives have ever worked in a steel mill?

And on and on it goes.

They don't know anything about their businesses on the business end, and yet they refuse to listen to those who do.

And these are the bozos that are getting the tax cuts?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Back to Health Insurance

Massachusetts has passed a law mandating universal health insurance. Unfortunately, poor people are required to pay for their own. Reduced rates, sure, but they have to pay all the same.

I have to pay for health insurance provided through our employers. Diane gets the insurance and I pay her back. With all that, I'll still have to pay a couple of thousand dollars out of pocket for the dental work I still need.

I was going to have to pay $250 for the two extractions of broken-off tooth roots I had done today, but because of the insurance I had to pay only $110. Better but still not good for my budget.

The $2500 I'll have to pay for my bridges in January will have to come out of my pension. So I'll have that much less earning interest toward my retirement in a few years.

I'm discouraged.

Friday, October 06, 2006

On the People's Republic of Corporate America

The publisher of the L.A. Tribune drew a line in the sand. He refused to fire more reporters in order to improve his NEWSpaper's bottom line as the Board of Directors ordered him to.

He was fired for his efforts to preserve the nature of the news business.

I heard on the radio this morning some of the names of the Board of Directors that fired him. Not a single one of them as any newspaper experience whatsoever. They know the generic term, "business."

It strikes me that this is what is wrong with the People's Republic of Corporate America in general: People run it who know what they teach in business school but are totally clueless about what the actual business they run is all about. What does Bob Nardelli know about home improvement? What does the CEO of Sears/Kfart know about retail? What does the CEO of Daimler/Chrysler know about automobile building? I don't need to go on, do I?

Thus we have corporations trying to increase sales by throwing thousands of customers out of work. We have CEO's driving the companies bankrupt while walking away with millions while the next company offers huge bonuses for him to come run their company.

No wonder it is the small businesses (ignored by Republican and Democrat alike) who are creating all the new jobs outside government these days.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

On Congressional Scandal

Bob Somerby at The Daily Howler ( makes a point today. If the Democrats had been prepared this would have been a Katrina moment.

His point, with which I agree, is that the Democrats should have been pounding Congress over its lack of oversight: oversight of the Administration before the Iraq war, oversight of the conduct of the war itself, oversight of Constitutional rights, and now it shows it can't even oversee one of its own, a sexual predator in its midst.

But no. Now, the corporate media screams about a sex scandal while the outrage that should arise from Bob Woodward's book is buried under the Foley scandal.

Sex trumps everything else.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

On Sniveling Cowards

I will reserve comment on the congressional page scandal for now. I won't jump in and pile on until I know more about what Hastert, Boehner, etc. new and when they knew it.

Then I may jump in with both feet.

But today, I want to ask, what are conservatives so scared of?

In my student internship in New Mexico, the senior pastor and my intern supervisor talked to me about one of our church members who was extremely conservative in the right-wing sense of the word. "He's a very fearful man," my supervisor said.

Those words come back to me now as I look at the right side of the current political divide. And I want to know, what are the Republicans so afraid of?

When I was standing in line to vote in 2004 the man in front of me remarked, "I'm more afraid of the liberals than I am of the terrorists." I didn't say anything at the time, partly because I didn't want to get into electioneering at the polls, which is illegal, and partly because I tend to be a bit slow on the uptake. I don't come up with counter-arguments easily off the top of my head.

But as I am able to ponder I remember the things I wish I had said. I wish I had said, "And I am more afraid of people who use words like 'liberal' as a short-cut past the thought process." Probably would have gone straight over his head.

But back to the point. I notice a river of fear (not a string, not a stream but a river) running through the letters to the editor and op ed pieces that defend the Bush Administration's illegal activities. "They attacked us on 9/11!" they proclaim, as though that gave any justification for abandoning what we stand for as Americans. They invoke the images of bodies falling from the World Trade Center buildings. They warn of terrorist plots. "Civil liberties won't do you any good if you're dead," which is one of the stupidest remarks I've ever heard. Our ancestors died to preserve those very liberties, and I'll be damned if a cowardly bunch of fear-mongers is going to take them away from me.

They invoke fear of terrorists, they are afraid of liberals, they are afraid to let their political opponents speak freely without being attacked for it. Are their own ideas so thoroughly impoverished that they have to resort to silencing their opponents in order to feel secure?

How pathetic.