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Random Writings

Here’s an article I wrote about George Soros and American politics. I reprint it below the fold.
Come to think of it, probably should link to my piece about whether artist vouchers would work . This was responding to Dean Baker’s fascinating proposal to give allow people to donate to artists using vouchers.

I wrote a short piece on an obituary guestbook about a family friend:

Jim Nelson was a fine man who will be remembered by friends for a long time. He brought joy in many people’s lives, especially people in my family. I didn’t know him that well, but let me say it was always a joyful event to have him visit the family when we were young. I still remember the time that he challenged our family’s children against his family’s children in a swimming race. How delighted my siblings were to have beaten the Nelsons at swimming! And how fun Mr. Nelson made it for all of us!

A few months ago, I went to a butterfly museum where live butterflies flutter all over the place, and you just sit around watching, hoping that one lands on your head or body. Many Butterflies live for only 2 weeks. That is their destiny. For humans that seems like no time at all. They leave this world quickly, but the humans keep memories of their beautiful colors and flights for longer than any one butterfly can imagine.

Mr. Nelson, the taste of your delicious gumbo will stay with me forever. I imagine heaven as a place with Mr. Nelson’s gumbo permanently on the menu.

(really a good idea to have online obituary guestbook. One of those obvious ideas that the Net now makes possible).

Soros, Open Societies and Bush

In a remarkable piece of news, billionaire George Soros announced plans to match 50 cents to the dollar every donation made to defeat George W. Bush. (Disclosure: I worked for the Soros Foundation as an educator in Ukraine in 1997-8 and applied for several grants from his foundation for several schools). That a man devoted so singlemindedly to overcoming political hegemony is now throwing money into a domestic election is a sign of how high the 2004 election stakes really are.

According to the article,

Soros believes a “supremacist ideology” guides this White House. He hears echoes in its rhetoric of his childhood in occupied Hungary. “When I hear Bush say, ‘You’re either with us or against us,’ it reminds me of the Germans.� It conjures up memories, he said, of Nazi slogans on the walls, Der Feind Hort mit (“The enemy is listening”): “My experiences under Nazi and Soviet rule have sensitized me,”  he said in a soft Hungarian accent.

Soros is a man obsessed with Karl Popper and financing causes he believes in. He is not a household name in US, but in Eastern Europe, he is well known for funding publishing houses, media centers, schools, several distinguished universities and many projects that cultivate openness and freedom of expression. In Albania, where I worked as a Peace Corps volunteer, his funding created debating societies and cultural exchanges and assistance for scholars wanting to study abroad. Although Soros later scaled back his funding for Russia and Eastern Europe in favor of more “entrepreneurial initiatives,” there was a time in the late 1990’s when Soros was providing more foreign aid to Russia than any of the wealthiest European countries.

Soros’s intervention in domestic politics is a sign (for me at least) that the elite class in USA is really fed up with Bush’s inconsistencies (“16 words”) , blind jingoism (“mission accomplished”), unilateralism (Kyoto, ABM, etc) , political cowardice (steel tariffs), polarizing rhetoric (“axis of evil”) and politicization of official functions (EPA reports on NY Air).

Right now, Bush’s formidable war chest seemed a sign that the Republicans were ready to launch a massive media/propaganda campaign like nothing we’d ever seen before. Soros’s entry into the election at least levels the playing field somewhat. Unfortunately, mass media today can be bought and pressured (CBS cancelling the Reagan docudrama) and even middle-of-the-road media like CNN end up providing nonstop uncritical platforms for senior Bush officials to speak.

I hope these donations make a difference. But can our national political process function without continuous infusions of capital?
Articles by George Soros:

Towards an Open Society

Posted by rjnagle at November 11, 2003 01:26 PM

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