S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Where is peace of mind when the world is upside down?

"What if the bailout plan doesn't work?" Yesterday's Senate Banking Committee hearing, chaired by Senator Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut) prompted that scary (9/23) headline. To quote:

Lawmakers raised doubts Monday about what would be the largest government bailout in American history, but a bigger, more terrifying question lurked right under the surface: What if it doesn’t work?

Failure, says one insider, is not an option.

“The alternative is complete financial Armageddon and a great depression,” said a former Federal Reserve official. “Where do they go after this? Well, the U.S. government could nationalize the banking system outright.”

The story carries the seeds of our deep disquiet within words such as, "largest government bailout," "terrifying question lurked," "failure . . . is not an option," and "complete financial Armageddon . . . great depression." We need more information, because, as the old saying goes, information is power. I found a website that can help a great deal with reliable organized information. ProPublica offers "Tracking the Market Crisis," explaining,

Facing a deluge of media coverage on the current market meltdown, we decided to wade through it all so you don’t have to. Check out the essential reading we gathered on the topic. The articles, graphs and broadcasts listed on our scandal page were chosen because each describes a particular feature of the crisis – the origins, the major developments, the implications – in a clear and thorough way.

We are Seniors living on a fixed income and we worry that our retirement savings will not be there to carry us through for as long as we need it. We wonder what our next president can do to help. "Messaging the Meltdown for Seniors" is an article by J.P. Green in The Democratic Strategist (9/19/08). To quote the opening and closing presidential campaign thoughts:

The meltdown of top financial institutions has left millions of American workers in doubt about the security of their retirement assets, and it's a particularly urgent concern for those nearing retirement age. The crisis presents an opportunity for the Obama campaign to make significant inroads into a major demographic group that has trended toward McCain thus far and who are now feeling the big hurt --- seniors.

. . . When we say "It's the economy, stupid," we're basically talking about four key concerns -- jobs, pay, retirement and health security, and now we can add housing -- all of which have been put at risk for millions by GOP-driven deregulation and the current meltdown. Democrats have been given a timely opportunity to demonstrate leadership and the superiority of their track record and policies as champions of genuine economic security. Making the most of it with seniors will serve us well.

Too much information and too many choices -- is often the way young people at the other end of the adult age spectrum feel. But they, too must have deep disquiet about a faltering economy and a looming election where so much is at stake, and about which both young and old have a great deal of anxiety. For anyone writing to engage Millenials to read the news can be a tricky business reports the Media Management Center (9/10/08), "New Report and Webinar.*" To quote:

The report, (pdf 49 p.) titled "From 'Too Much' to 'Just Right': Engaging Millennials in Election News on the Web," is based on a qualitative, in-depth study of a diverse group of 89 Chicago-area adults between the ages of 17 and 22, a demographic frequently referred to as millennials. MMC researchers found that young people often click away from election news online because they feel the sites bombard them

. . . To serve and attract this important group, news organizations need to develop online election resources that are specifically designed to minimize this "too much" sensation," said Michael P. Smith, executive director of the Media Management Center, noting that MMC provides many concrete suggestions in the report for how to deal with the problem.

Are we actually safe in our own homes? After years of fear mongering and mismanagement from the current administration, it is very hard to maintain equilibrium and peace of mind. For example, "Are the fire hydrants in your neighborhood turned on?*" was a local story by CHRIS HAWES / WFAA-TV, August 27, 2008. The piece is about how fire hydrants were turned off, ostensibly to increase security. There was only one problem, they were never turned back on and people died as a result. Just what are we to do in such a climate?

Get out and doing something -- By ourselves we cannot control the national economy, nor can we make the elections come out the way we feel they must. But each of us in our own ways can make small differences that might aggregate into big success. Activism will actually lower your level of anxiety about things over which you have no control.



Here is an example of what I am talking about -- Charles Chamberlain, at Democracy for America, reported on the success of one of the organization's recent activist efforts. To quote:

I wanted to let you know that our Million Doors for Peace campaign was a huge success this weekend. With over 20 organizations joining together for this single day of concrete action, Democracy for America members led the way in this historic mobilization to end the war.

I went out on Saturday with Matt and Bryan from DFA's training department and spoke to newly registered and infrequent voters. People want this war to end. They want our brave men and women out of Iraq and back here at home. Every voter I met regardless of their political party signed our petition demanding Congress set a specific date within a year.

Will the truth set you free? My activism is my blogging. I look as hard as I can for what is true about the situations that disturb my peace of mind, and then write about them. Glenn Greenwald's post on blogging with accuracy raised some interesting challenges for those of us who are serious about writing with accuracy and excellence. His Sept. 15 story, "Time's Karen Tumulty: Unlike reporters, bloggers don't have to use proof,*" makes a strong point. Getting the facts right is the goal of good bloggers as well as good reporters. To quote:

I think Tumulty is, in general, a decent and well-intentioned reporter -- particularly when one considers where she's employed -- but these sorts of sloppy, "reporter"-glorifying, "blogger"-disparaging comparisons ("we're required to use facts and evidence and they're not") are without any basis in reality. They're actually the opposite of reality, because bloggers who repeatedly assert false claims will (in general) lose their credibility and readership, whereas -- as has been repeatedly demonstrated (she need only look around her own office to see it) -- Tumulty's journalistic colleagues lose nothing by doing the same thing.

When the world is upside down it takes actual thought and effort to relax and "cool out," as Donya Currie of the Tallahassee Democrat wrote many years ago. The piece from which I draw concludes with a little section telling how to regain your peace most anywhere you are. All these ideas will reduce stress. To quote: Take a deep breath . . . Take a personal inventory . . . Laugh . . . Take a warm bath or shower . . . Keep something comforting around you . . . Have and end of the day plan.

Hat Tip Key: Regular contributors of links to leads are "betmo*" and Jon#.

View my current slide show about the Bush years -- "Millennium" -- at the bottom of this column.

(Cross-posted at The Reaction.)

My “creativity and dreaming” post today is at Making Good Mondays.

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