Sunday Roast: Giving the unemployed the finger

In the face of empirical evidence that unemployment benefits help boost the economy, Congress went ahead and let the benefit expire for 1.3 million people — with another round of cuts coming right up.

Yes, I said “people.”  Not slackers, takers, losers, or lazy fucks, as Republicans and Tea Party morons like call the long term unemployed.

Officially, there are three people applying for every job in this country, but with so many people off the official unemployment roles (like me) — because their benefits ran out long ago, they’re so discouraged and depressed they don’t even look for work anymore, or they’re elderly or disabled — the actual number of people applying for each job is probably eight to ten.  Far too many of those jobs have absolutely no benefits, and don’t pay enough to keep a roof over your head AND keep the lights and heat on AND eat halfway decently.  Pick one!

But listen to the GOP/Tea Party, and you’ll hear patronizing statements that unemployment benefits make people lazy, shiftless slobs, who will feed off the government teat forever — this from career politicians who feed off the government teat.  Apparently, the best way to get people off unemployment is to just let the funds run dry, and accuse hard-working Americans of being lazy, blood-sucking shits, rather than actually passing a jobs bill (hey, the President has one!) or a sufficient stimulus bill.  Oh yes, they’ll extend unemployment benefits, but children, veterans, the elderly, and the hungry are damn well going to pay for it — unlike in the Bush years, where nothing was paid for EVER, and the GOP were happy as clams.

And gee whiz, where did all this unemployment come from anyway?  Let’s all ignore the FACT that George W. Bush crashed the economy in 2008, and had been hemorrhaging jobs out of this country long before the crash.  No no no, all this unemployment is because of President Obama’s socialist, fascist, Marxist, commie, pinko, nazi policies — again, flying in the face of actual evidence to the contrary — not because of constant Republican obstruction and blatant refusal to do the work they were sent to Washington DC to do.

Do you know how long they’ll keep doing this to the people of this country?  Yes, the people — do you actually think YOU are immune to GOP policies?  They’ll keep doing it as long as the people stay silent; as long as the people stay out of the voting booth; and as long as they can keep the people fighting among ourselves over things like the “War on Christmas,” so-called religious persecution, taxes (except the taxes of the top 1% aka the “job creators”), and other social issues that are only the business of those actually involved.

Pay no attention to the 97 days the millionaires in the House of Representatives will work this year — naming post offices, repealing Obamacare again, and railing against dirty, dirty women who want unfettered access to birth control, because they just don’t want to push out an unwanted baby every year — or their rapist’s baby EVER.  No, of course, lazy blood-sucking GOP/Tea Partiers aren’t the problem — it’s the unemployed.

Right.

This is our daily open thread — Discuss whatever.

To Rule versus Govern

To rule or to govern.

Govern

1. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) (also intr) to direct and control the actions, affairs, policies, functions, etc., of (a political unit, organization, nation, etc.); rule

Rule

1. Governing power or its possession or use; authority.

George Washington’s Farewell Address, speaking on political parties (from wiki.answers.com)

“They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation, the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels, and modified by mutual interests.”

Since the political shift of 1994, with Newt Gingrich and his Contract for America, bitpartisanship has become a dirty word in the conservative vernacular.

This disdain for anything that smacks of compromise intensified exponentially with the advent of the Tea Party and their candidate’s successes in the 2010 elections.

What we have now is an attempt by the Tea Party Republican ‘faction’ to rule as a minority. They have little interest in governing, if the difference between ruling and governing implies a requirement for political compromise.

This is exactly what our first President warned us of. He foresaw those ‘small and artful’ politicians with their ‘ill-concerted and incongruous projects’ trying to force their vision of our country instead of attempting any ‘common counsel’ or ‘mutual interest’.

So what to do in counterbalance to this force dedicated to foisting its policies and dictates on the American people?

My answer would be to do whatever it takes to remove them from their temporary seat of power. I would remove them as a statement that our founding fathers fully intended, by virtue of the checks and balances they carefully crafted into our governmental system, to forge a system based on compromise.

Every major crises with the exception of the Civil War has been resolved by the two major parties, regardless of the rancor of the debate, crafting a give and take answer that at least temporarily put the issues to rest.

We can’t afford to lose sight of the precedent and traditions that have served us so well since our founding some 220 plus years ago. We must send the Tea Party packing.

Sunday Roast: Dark Road to the White House

The New York Times, by Charles M. Blow

Shady money, voter suppression, shifting positions, murky details and widespread apathy.

If there is a road map for a Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan win in November, that’s it. Distasteful all.

Thank goodness Romney/Ryan (R/R) has all that money backing them up, huh?  Otherwise the voter suppression and murky details might cause them a problem.  Oh wait, R/R are counting on the listed items to get them elected in November.  It’s all good.

Charles M. Blow, beside being a gorgeous man, is absolutely brilliant.  In his article, he talks about the various lies, equivocations, flip flops, secrecy, and abject hypocrisy of the Romney/ Ryan ticket.

America, this is the Republican ticket. Although most smart political observers currently have Romney losing the Electoral College, Romney, following this repulsive road map, is virtually tied with Obama in national polls of likely voters.

“Virtually tied” with President Obama in the polls.  Un-friggin-believable.  Why is R/R in a virtual tie with Obama/Biden?

Apathy.

Yep, you read that correctly.  Voter apathy is a HUGE problem in this country — even now, with so much as stake.

As USA Today reported, the 90 million people who are unlikely to vote in November prefer Obama over Romney by 2 to 1, and “they could turn a too-close-to-call race into a landslide for President Obama — but by definition they probably won’t.”

I want to know who these people are.  I want to know what — exactly — is going on in their pathetically tiny pea brains.  I want an explanation as to WHY they just can’t be arsed to get themselves into a voting booth.  I want them to tell me, and then I want to put a big red “D” for DODDERING DUNDERHEADED DUMBASS in the middle of their foreheads, as a sign to the rest of us that these people are dangerous to the well-being of this country and her people.  I want to know all of these things, and then I want them to shut the fuck up, because not being involved enough with the country that made it possible to have such fascinating lives that they can’t exercise their civic duty by getting into a voting booth is something that pisses me off.

It pisses me off so much that I’m going to call them what they are:  FREE-LOADERS.  They live in this country, enjoy our freedoms, our clean air and water, and take advantage of the commons we all contribute to via our time, effort, and tax dollars, but they just don’t care enough to bother finding out about the people they’re voting for, or about how it all happens until they wake up and realize something has, or is about to, affect them and families in some manner.  This is how teabaggers are born.

If this underhanded dirty dealing by the Republican ticket doesn’t jolt some of these unlikely voters into likely ones, I don’t know what will.

Nor I, Charles, nor I.

Read Charles Blow’s whole article here.

This is our daily open thread — Do you know any of these people?

 

Civilization in an Eggshell

Guest blog by Hoodathunk

Yesterday we had a brunchfast that relied pretty heavily on the magical chicken egg.   Poached eggs for the wee’uns, Crab Benedict for the more discerning palette and eggnog; so I probably shouldn’t be surprised that I awoke at 4 am thinking about the dream I had about eggs.  Odd things my subconscious plays with in dreamland.

Consider your basic egg.  Nicely packaged, a comfortable incubator (at least for the mom) bringing forth a new generation of bird that can produce more eggs, be edible in its adult form, or provide hours of entertainment and appreciation with their songs or beauty.  All in all, the egg is a wondrous thing.  But I had never looked at it as an expression of society in an eggshell.

Man learned early on that the insides of your basic egg were both edible and nutritious in its natural state.  Then, when Ug learned about fire, it was discovered eggs could be cooked.  I suspect one was accidentally dropped on a hot rock and sunny side up was born.  Since then, eggs have become something of a staple in most societies.  And, as societies become more civilized, so does their treatment of the egg.  No more of this lop off the egg and slurp it down, no that will make you sick; the cholesterol, also a bad thing.

This is where civilized society comes in.  How many have gone to fry up an egg and tossed it because the yolk got broken in the process?  Or boiled and decorated eggs at Easter and ended up tossing some when they got too old?  Eggs are pretty cheap so it isn’t a really big deal — unless you happen to be starving.  But we have, for the most part, gone beyond that point.  We take eggs for granted because there are literally millions, if not billions, of chickens out there just a clucking and a dumping.  We just go merrily along quiche-ing, custard-ing, caking, dressing up our lives with the hard work of hens because it isn’t like they mind being kept in cramped, unsanitary quarters, living on chicken feed so we can use the efforts of their labor to pamper ourselves.

This is juxtaposed to a memory from my childhood.  We would go to the grandparents’ farm on weekends and help out.  This was done so we could get a few good meals while providing my Mom’s parents with much needed assistance in running the farm.  One of my jobs was tending the chicken coop.  I had to collect the eggs, then feed the feathered beasts, and then clean the nests.  I was not allowed to carry the basket of eggs to the house because dropping an egg was something of a minor catastrophe.  The dog liked it but it meant a smaller helping of scrambled eggs for me.  Each and every one of those ovoids were important, just as the chickens themselves were.  Not exactly life or death but they could spell the difference between going to bed with a full tummy or a growling one.

What our civilized society is doing, both on the microcosm and macrocosm level, is that we aren’t taking care of the chickens.  We are gobbling up the eggs, while wasting a great many of them, thinking there will always be more.  We are distancing ourselves from the very things that have brought us to this point.  Our greed blinds us to the workings of nature because we think it will always be there, and if we have this magical paper in our pockets, everything will be fine.

Work in a chicken coop?  Ewwwww, gross!

Only one provable lie?

Media Matters for America

The media says, ‘Breitbart lies, Breitbart lies.’ Give me one example of a provable lie,” Breitbart said on stage at the Weiner presser. “One, journalist, one, put your reputation on the line here, one provable lie.”

How about a whole list of provable lies, you scum?

BIG FAT LIE:

Breitbart coordinated release of conservative activists’ undercover ACORN videos. On September 10, 2009, conservative activist and videographer James O’Keefe posted an entry to BigGovernment.com in which he revealed that he and fellow activist Hannah Giles had posed as a pimp and prostitute at a Baltimore ACORN Housing office and secretly filmed their meetings with ACORN staffers. As O’Keefe wrote, their intention was to take “advantage of ACORN’s regard for thug criminality by posing the most ridiculous criminal scenario we could think of and seeing if they would comply — which they did without hesitation,” the “scenario” being the “trafficking of young helpless girls and tax evasion.”

Except they didn’t.  Upon viewing the un-edited videos, it was revealed that the ACORN workers did nothing wrong or illegal.  As it turns out, O’Keefe, Giles, and Breitbart are the liars in the ACORN case.

That’s one.

BIG FAT LIE:

Breitbart eagerly embraced and promoted [Jim] Hoft’s false attacks on [Kevin] Jennings.  Writing for the website Gateway Pundit, Jim Hoft has authored a series of factually dubious attacks on Department of Education staffer Kevin Jennings and the organization Jennings founded and previously led, the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). Hoft’s Jennings posts — which he has labeled “Fistgate,” even though many of those allegations have little or nothing to do with the sexual practice of fisting – often draw upon the work of MassResistance, a Massachusetts based anti-gay organization that has been labeled a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

When you lie down with dogs…expect to get up with provable lies.

That’s two. Continue reading

The Watering Hole: July 16 – Has the oil spill been stopped?

Picture source:Yahoo

BP has announced yesterday that the oil spill from the Deepwater Horizon well has been stopped for the first time since the accident.

Video feeds from the floor of the Gulf of Mexico continue to show no leaking oil

Oil firm BP is awaiting test results from the blown-out well in the Gulf of Mexico, a day after staunching the flow of oil for the first time since April.

The firm is checking how much pressure the well can withstand while the valves on its new capping device are closed. (read more)

This is, of course, good news. But there is scepticism, too:

We will need to wait another 24 hours or so – and engineers will have to continue monitoring sonar and visual images (both help determine if any oil is leaking from the seafloor), and seismic data (to determine if there are any new leaks below the seafloor) – before engineers can determine how stable the well is. (read full story)

Admiral Allan says (via The Oildrum):

“We’re encouraged by this development, but this isn’t over. Over the next several hours we will continue to collect data and work with the federal science team to analyze this information and perform additional seismic mapping runs in the hopes of gaining a better understanding on the condition of the well bore and options for temporary shut in of the well during a hurricane. It remains likely that we will return to the containment process using this new stacking cap connected to the risers to attempt to collect up to 80,000 barrels of oil per day until the relief well is completed.” (read post)

The video from the oil well shows no obvious spill right now. Yesterday, however, I thought I saw something spilling in the background. My eyesight sucks so don’t take my word for it. If, God forbid, I really saw it, it would mean the entire well is compromised and this would be disastrous.

The relief wells  are generally seen as the sure-fire solution to the oil spill. If, that is, those wells are up to standard.

HOUSTON, July 13 (Reuters) – U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a memorandum that problems were identified “in recent weeks” with blowout preventers on BP Plc’s (BP.L: Quote) (BP.N: Quote) relief wells, which are seen as the only proven way to kill the Gulf of Mexico oil leak.

In a 29-page memo to Michael Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) dated Monday, Salazar said “performance problems” with the blowout preventers were found when new testing requirements were imposed after the April 20 blowout that preceded the gushing leak. (read full story)

I am not surprised at all. Not at BP’s producing yet another blunder, neither, I must say, at the watchfulness of your government, who found out before yet another blowout preventer failed. There are many voices out there, who claim the government’s response was inadequate. I beg to differ. The Obama administration made sure there were live cams down there, so the claims “only” 1’000 barrels/day flowed from the well were quickly and obviously debunked. The Obama administration insisted on two relief wells being drilled, so there was a second shot, if the first failed to hit target. The Obama administration has delayed the testing of the new cap, because increasing the pressure was a dangerous proposition and needed to be done in the best possible way, not hurriedly. I still believe this is not over yet and I still believe this catastrophe is mostly unmanageable by us humans who caused it. But everybody who thinks the government should do more ought to sit back, think and go back in time only three years. And then honestly assess, what the Bush administration would have done.

Never mind my lengthy post, this is still our open thread so feel free to comment on this or on anything else  on your mind.

The Watering Hole: June 8 – Incumbent (tea)bagging

Here is a new Gallup poll, which supports what I thought for a while now. People are fed up with Washington’s elites. Incumbent Congressmen and -women are having a harder time to retain their seats as ever. Republican voters are obviously more fired up than Democrats, but Democratic members of Congress need to watch out, too.

Source: Gallup

Electing Barack Obama as President, was surely a first and very powerful sign of this sentiment of discontent. People are still fed-up with the ways of Washington, the lobbying and the arrogant sense of entitlement of the political class. This is not different over here in Europe, where outsiders from the left and right increasingly gain votes.

This should tell your President it is time to take off the kid gloves. He has the right concepts, but he condones the wheeling and dealing still and never got rid of that idea of bi-partisanship. After all, it takes two to tango and the Republicans are not dancing. This weakens his Presidency as much as his consideration for the Blue Dog Democrats who’d just need a good and healthy kick in the butt. The numbers above indicate that the tea party movement has already gone a long way to voice the outrage at politicians on their side, satisfying their voters there is an alternative, while Democrats are still more wary. In the end those who will have made their positions unmistakably clear will be favoured. It is not a matter of telling people how stupid, racist and nasty teabaggers are, this ultimately puts one in a defending position. While obsessing about the other’s behaviour one misses to point out what positives are on offer as an alternative. Leaving the stage to an opponent is not a good idea at all. The media are reporting on the tea party movement extensively, because those are voicing their opinions shrilly enough to make a good story. No need to stoop to this level but a strong message reasoned loud and clear should be heard, too. And it is needed to rally the voters. If voters are not convinced by the party of their choice they tend to stay away from the polls which is nearly as devastating as if they were voting for the opponent.

And for Barack Obama that means confronting the old-school politicians in his own party as well as in the other. I perfectly understand that cleaning up the Bush spill is overwhelmingly hard, even more so when you are dealing with obstructionism from both sides in Congress and from special interests, too. But can someone please shake your President a bit, he needs to wake up and fight now.

This is our open thread. If I can speak my mind you can, too.

Op-Ed: The financial crisis is far from over. Why? Because it’s a crisis of the financial system.

Greece bankrupt. Portugal, Spain, Italy, Ireland still on the brink and the financial system is only functioning with government bailouts. And this is the good news, we’re told. It could be worse, we’re told. We could strangle the financial industry with regulation and kill our economies in the process, we’re told.

Here’s the really bad news:

The finance industry has effectively positioned itself outside of  and independent from democracy itself. How else can they effect those bailouts and still avoid all effective regulation?

We, the people, don’t approve. They, our governments, don’t give a shit.

The banks, huge and bloated have reached a reputed importance for our economic system (read: capitalism) that would topple the whole economy if they themselves would fall. So they say.

Our politicians obey them and never ask questions.

Investment banks and rating agencies are playing with economies like cats with half-dead mice. To eventually kill or let go.

Complicit politicians are legally protected by immunity laws.

Small and medium enterprises are strangled by arbitrary lending and held at arm’s length, when job-creating investments need to be financed.

Government-owned banks look the other way and declare private lending isn’t their job.

Consumers are befuddled by easy credits to buy stuff from China (or elsewhere) which they didn’t, don’t and won’t ever need. We are made believe, that we are actually hurting the economy if we are saving.

Government-owned banks are then taking the credit default swaps and pay for them, so the private lenders won’t carry a risk and banks can reap some more.

I’m sure every one of you can think of more points.

Our governments are broken. My vote will never be for anybody again, but for those who are actively working for strict regulation of the financial industry. Or any industry. Lest they bankrupt us all – more than they already have.

I’m afraid I won’t get to vote much.

America Will Triumph

I wanted to share this article from Frank Schaeffer.

Frank Schaeffer is a New York Times best selling author.

Obama Will Triumph — So Will America
By Frank Schaeffer

Before he’d served even one year President Obama lost the support of the easily distracted left and engendered the white hot rage of the hate-filled right. But some of us, from all walks of life and ideological backgrounds — including this white, straight, 57-year-old, former religious right wing agitator, now progressive writer and (given my background as the son of a famous (evangelical leader) this unlikely Obama supporter — are sticking with our President. Why?– because he is succeeding.

We faithful Obama supporters still trust our initial impression of him as a great, good and uniquely qualified man to lead us. Obama’s steady supporters will be proved right. Obama’s critics will be remembered as easily panicked and prematurely discouraged at best and shriveled hate mongers at worst.

The Context of the Obama Presidency

Not since the days of the rise of fascism in Europe , the Second World War and the Depression has any president faced more adversity. Not since the Civil War has any president led a more bitterly divided country. Not since the introduction of racial integration has any president faced a more consistently short-sighted and willfully ignorant opposition – from both the right and left. As the President’s poll numbers have fallen so has his support from some on the left that were hailing him as a Messiah not long ago; all those lefty websites and commentators that were falling all over themselves on behalf of our first black president during the 2008 election. The left’s lack of faith has become a self-fulfilling “prophecy”– snipe at the President and then watch the poll numbers fall and then pretend you didn’t have anything to do with it!

Here is what Obama faced when he took office–none of which was his fault:

  • An ideologically divided country to the point that America was really two countries
  • Two wars; one that was mishandled from the start, the other that was unnecessary and immoral
  • The worst economic crisis since the depression
  • America ‘s standing in the world at the lowest point in history
  • A country that had been misled into accepting the use of torture of prisoners of war
  • A health care system in free fall
  • An educational system in free fall
  • A global environmental crisis of history-altering proportions (about which the Bush administration and the Republicans had done nothing)
  • An impasse between culture warriors from the right and left
  • A huge financial deficit inherited from the terminally irresponsible Bush administration.

And those were only some of the problems sitting on the President’s desk!

“Help” from the Right? Continue reading

Early Patriot Plan

Glenn Beck has been bragging that he has “A Plan” for 2010 and the next 100 years. His plan is for the “Refounding” (Beck’s words not mine) of policies and principles and he envisions a “battlefield”.

The Tea Party influenced by Glenn Beck wants to take our government back to the good old days of 1776. This is the time of the original Patriots that Glenn Beck and the Tea Party members emulate. Their goal is to kick out the bums, create their own brand of government and to reduce the deficit. They speak about minimizing government by dismantling all “socialist” services provided by the government. This would include the elimination of Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, public roads and public water and sewer, just to name a few. You can read the Tea Party Pledge here with the translation of this pledge here.

What the members of the Tea Party don’t want to admit is that Glenn Beck’s real “Plan” is to line his pockets with their money by staging conventions with seminars throughout 2010, none of which will be free, and by selling his new book, “The Plan”. Yes, the “Plan” is for Glenn Beck to buy fancier cars and move into bigger houses all paid for by his followers at their expense.

There can be another “Plan” which would reduce the deficit without removing the taxpayer funded services. This “Plan” would be closer to how our government operated at the time following the “Revolution” and would include:

  • Members of Congress, the Supreme Court Justices, and the President’s Cabinet paying for:
    • their own transportation to their districts,
    • the cost of attendance at events, meetings, conferences etc…,
    • their own lodging,
    • their own stamps and any other form of communication costs.

Since these benefits were not available at the birth of our nation, this other “Plan” includes reductions in these benefits by:

  • Privatizing taxpayer paid government pensions,
  • Requiring members of Congress, the Supreme Court Justices and the President’s Cabinet to pay for their own health insurance.
  • Requiring members of Congress, the Supreme Court Justices, and the President’s Cabinet be paid the minimum wage. The House in particular spends much of its time passing silly resolutions and not doing the people’s work so they certainly don’t deserve to make more money than someone working at a fast food chain.

Oddly, I have not heard any member in Congress mention the above “Plan” as a means of deficit reduction. The Republicans have included dismantling Social Security and Medicare in their deficit reduction plan and there is no mention of dismantling their taxpayer paid benefits. If the Republicans and other members of Congress are serious about decreasing the deficit by reducing entitlements, let them start by eliminating their taxpayer paid benefits first before dismantling the social safety nets paid for by taxes that benefit Americans.

The 12:50 at Kempton

We’ve lately been having a discussion in this country about freedom, and an old friend from “across the pond” had a few thoughts on the matter.

I exercised some freedom today.

At about midday, I took one of the PA’s from my office to the bookies as she wanted to lay a bet on the Football (yeah yeah, soccer) and had never been in a betting shop before.  Learning how to place a bet is almost a rite of passage

in the UK.  Bookies are very intimidating if you don’t have a clue how it all works and, apart from Grand National day, no-one is there to help.  You either know it or you don’t.  Hence I went along to explain the magic of accumulators and doubles from three.  Whilst in there, I had a little punt on a horse race and ended up losing a fiver – such is life.

I’m no expert on the US but friends who have spent time across the pond suggest that laying a bet in most states of the US is slightly more complex than popping across the road.  Conversely, I expect a visitor to the UK from the US would find it very odd that the only way to get a gun in the UK is either jump through hoops with the Government to (maybe) get a shotgun license or else head off to the black market.

Ah freedom and your different flavours.  As a result, it always worries me when you hear someone banging on about protecting your freedom as no-one can define what freedom means universally .  I’m glad I’ve got the freedom to waste my hard earned money on a broken down nag in the 12.50 at Kempton.  I don’t have the freedom to own a gun but, to be honest, I don’t want to.

I’m glad I’ve got the freedom to choose to get private healthcare if I want to pay for it.  Christ, I work for a company that provides private healthcare insurance.  But I’m also glad that, whenever I need it, I have whatever healthcare I need free at the point of delivery.  Yeah, no-one makes any money out of the NHS, which I suppose means the private sectors freedom to profit is reduced, but it gives the population of the UK the freedom not to worry about how much it will cost to fall ill.

Whenever you hear someone saying they are protecting freedom I feel it’s appropriate to put your hand up and politely ask whose freedom they are protecting.

~Wootsie

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Right of Passage

Have you ever wondered exactly what is up with “birthers,” “deathers,” and “tenther” types?

Our bloggy friend, Medjhiesco (aka Hoodathunk), whose blog is called Story Time, has ranted on the very possible source of the above-mentioned loons folks…

Yes, the wrong spelling but with malice aforethought.  While there are many rites of passage in many societies, all designed to signal the passage from childhood to adulthood, most are symbolic gestures to remind the participant it is time to put away the toys and move on to become a responsible, productive member of society.  This generally includes such things as

accepting responsibilities, performing actions that are not just for personal gratification and realizing the individual is not the center of the universe.  But there is more to it.  It is one of trick questions that inevitably bite one in the keister.  One has the right of passage, you can grow up and stop being a self-centered, spoiled child except with that right also comes the duty of growing up.

This is where the US is having some serious difficulties.  Most of the rest of the industrialized world has realized that cooperation and respect for others is the only way people can live together and flourish as a society.  And it is working pretty well for them.  Sadly, the US is still held in the thrall of a group of dangerous children.  Children, in that they retain the juvenile idea that the world revolves around them and that they have every right to having their every wish granted and immediately.  They have their little clique, their in crowd, and the rest of society exists just to serve their pleasure.  Our society has been slowly permeated with their beliefs, twisting the basic generosity of spirit and humanitarian ideals our country was founded on and which had served us very well for two hundred years until the idea of individual rights has become the mantra of the greedy and the frightened.

This isn’t surprising.  Children live with many more fears than adults because they lack the experience that enables them to deal with scary things.  The deregulated capitalistic types live in constant terror.  The idea that the accrual of money and power saves them only demonstrates their fear.  It is obsessive/compulsive behavior; something most would call a mental illness.  Since they can buy approval, they have foisted it off on the American public as a good thing, a goal to reach.  They don’t understand the adult concepts of compassion and responsibility to anything beyond their own self so they push their propaganda that these things are weakness.  They are like the Lost Boys and Peter Pan, caught in their fantasy only they have found they can pass their fears and childishness to others.

It is time for America to grow up.  It is time for us to realize this isn’t a kid game.  Just as the young couple who, in their youthful passion, make a new life, we are at a crossroads.  We can stay irresponsible children, ignore the magnitude of what we face and abandon our responsibility for our actions or we can stand up and do the right thing.  For too long the ‘love child’ has suffered because the parents were too frightened to do what was needed.  It is time to put down the Ipods and jet skis, time to quit hiding behind the juvenile idea that a society can exist without the participation of every member who is capable.  And that it is up to those who can to help those who can’t find some way to add what they can.

There is no mention in the Constitution of the Right of Passage because it didn’t have to be there.  That one is too basic and one that is too personal.  Society either grows or it stagnates and dies.  We get to choose.

Sunday Op-Ed roundup

Keith Olbermann’s Special Comment regarding Quitter Palin and her dangerously irresponsible “death panels.”

The only ‘death panels,’ Ms. Palin, are the figurative ones you have inspired with such irresponsible, dangerous, facile, vile, hate speech. The death of common sense. The death of logic.The death, perhaps, of Democracy, at the hands of mob rule.

William Rivers Pitt, Howl

If you’ve ever wondered what lurks at the very bottom of the American political barrel, look no further than the scenes that have been playing out in health care town hall forums across the nation over the last couple of weeks.

Cenk Uygur asks, Is Obama Just Another Politician?

I understand the value of compromise, diplomacy, bipartisanship, etc. But if you compromise on everything, then what do you have left? It’s a balancing act, of course. You have to know when to compromise and when to stand firm. So, that gets us to the question of the day? The central question of the Obama presidency.

Ray McGovern, Pundits Try to Help Cheney Avoid Jail

The stenographers of the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM) are missing the most obvious explanation for former Vice President Dick Cheney’s widely reported “disappointment” with former President George W. Bush on the issue of pardons — self-interest.

Eugene Robinson, How Bad Things Might Have Been

Yes, until recently we had an administration that didn’t believe in niceties such as due process and rule of law. Our nation asserted the right not just to detain suspects indefinitely, but also to abuse them, to torture them, to make them “disappear” like victims of some banana-republic junta.

Conservative

Conservatives. What are you gonna do? You can’t reason with them, and you can’t take away their guns and shoot them with them. Not that I would want to. Shoot them with them. But you can’t reason with them. They just don’t operate from the same set of facts that we do. We liberals tend to believe that something is true because it can be proven to be true. But listening to today’s conservatives (of all stripes), it’s as if they believe something is true because enough people believe it to be true, regardless of whether or not it actually is true. And it is from this point of view that they debate things. Not from facts, but from beliefs. And it simply does not matter to them if whatever they believe is not actually true, as long as it supports the rest of their argument, they believe that their argument has merit. I admit that you can sometimes give them credit for following a proper chain of logic based on the propositions they put forth, but even then they sometimes veer from the strict discipline of logic and try to use their conclusion as their proof. But since their propositions are often wrong from the start, it makes no difference how reasonable they sound, they’re still wrong! (Or, if they’re right, it’s for the wrong reasons.) And so I wrote this song to them. I hope you like it.

Conservative
Original words and music “Conquistador” by Procol Harum, 1967
Additional lyrics by Wayne A. Schneider, 2009

Conservative, your argument’s in need of scrutiny
And with some devil’s talking points you speak of certainty
I see your litmus paper test
Has long since come to mean
Continue reading

NOT Like a Good Neighbor…

On July 16th, 2009, Professor Henry Gates was arrested for “disorderly conduct” on his property in front of his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. While others focus on the uproar that has ensued since President Obama, in his recent press conference on healthcare, made his unfortunate comments on this episode, my questions revolve around what started it in the first place: the call to the police that a suspected crime was taking place.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr

Henry Louis Gates, Jr (Rick Friedman/Black Star)

So, let’s start there: A female neighbor called the police to report a suspected break-in. According to the police report, the woman stated that “she saw a man wedging his shoulder into the front door as to pry the door open.”

According to the Boston Globe, Gates, returning from a trip to China, was driven to his home in the middle of the day. He had luggage with him. His door wouldn’t open, so he set down his luggage and asked for the driver’s help. The driver, also black, lends his assistance, but the door still will not budge. According to Gates’ lawyer, Charles Ogletree, Gates then went around to the back door, got in with his key and Continue reading

And that’s not the way it is

CommonDreams, by Frank Rich

Who exactly was the competition in the race to be the most trusted man in America? Lyndon Johnson? Richard Nixon?

Not to take anything away from Walter Cronkite, but he beat out Henry Kissinger by only four percentage points when a 1974 Roper poll asked Americans whom they most respected. The

successive blows of Vietnam and Watergate during the Cronkite ’60s and ’70s shattered the nation’s faith in most of its institutions, public and private, and toppled many of the men who led them. Such was the dearth of trustworthy figures who survived that an unindicted official in a disgraced White House could make the cut.

In death, “the most trusted man in America” has been embalmed in that most comforting of American sweeteners – nostalgia – to the point where his finest, and most discomforting, achievements are being sanitized or forgotten. We’ve heard much sentimental rumination on the bygone heyday of the “mainstream media,” on the cultural fractionalization inflicted by the Internet, and on the lack of any man who could replicate the undisputed moral authority of Uncle Walter. (Women still need not apply, apparently.) But the reason to celebrate Cronkite has little to do with any of this and least of all to do with his avuncular television persona.

What matters about Cronkite is that he knew when to stop being reassuring Uncle Walter and to challenge those who betrayed his audience’s trust. He had the guts to confront not only those in power but his own bosses. Given the American press’s catastrophe of our own day – its failure to unmask and often even to question the White House propaganda campaign that plunged us into Iraq – these attributes are as timely as ever.

That’s why the past week’s debate about whether there could ever again be a father-figure anchor with Cronkite’s everyman looks and sonorous delivery is an escapist parlor game. What matters is content, not style. The real question is this: How many of those with similarly exalted perches in the news media today – and those perches, however diminished, still do exist in the multichannel digital age – will speak truth to power when the country is on the line? This journalistic responsibility cannot be outsourced to Comedy Central and Jon Stewart.

Moving as it may be to repeatedly watch Cronkite’s famous on-camera reactions to J.F.K.’s death and the astronauts’ moon landing, those replays aren’t the story. It’s a given that an anchor might mist up during a national tragedy and cheer a national triumph. The real test is how a journalist responds when people in high places are doing low deeds out of camera view and getting away with it. Vietnam and Watergate, not Kennedy and Neil Armstrong, are what made Cronkite Cronkite.

Read the rest of this awesome article here.

Entropy

 

 

This post is by guest blogger, Medjhiesco, and is also posted on his blog Story Time.  Enjoy!

 

 Entropy: The process of degradation of a system into decay. Or maybe the Newtonian Laws about inertia.

For centuries we have believed these things only apply in the physical sciences. I’m wondering if there isn’t an application in the economic world. As in the bigger something gets (more inertia) the more difficult it is to change direction. Or that everything answers to entropy.

 

Call it the Jabba da Hutt school of economics. Slowly built, using intimidation and manipulation through fear of reprisal until an entity gains a modicum of control. As the control increases, the morbid obesity of the controlling entity does as well. Fear plays a major part in the building phase but as the controlling entity gains weight the ability to respond diminishes. Take the US car companies as an example. They slowly built themselves into a juggernaut, burying rivals (like Tucker and Rambler) until they controlled the market. Or the banks in NY, slowly building to such a size they were ‘too big to fail’.

 

I submit, they are too big to survive. They, both the banks and the car companies, are outsized, incapable of generating what they need to survive. They are depending on the fear tactic that they are too big, too important to be allowed to die when the truth is they have out lived their value. Let GM and Chrysler die off, abandon their US operations and leave them open to someone who has not become so bloated they will listen to the needs of the market rather than dictating them. Both are looking to retain life by importing vehicles made off shore that they have been selling to the rest of the world. Both will die off in the US for their blindness.

 

Entropy. The process of degradation of a system into decay. Welcome to the US. The only problem is that the people who have not been part of this gluttony just don’t want to accept it. Let the big dogs fail, die off. May the American public discover they can throw the chain around Jabba’s throat. They aren’t too big to fail, they are over ripe.

 

Read more of Med’s writing at Story Time.

 

Look here for the image source.

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Times are Tough

Opinion piece by Cats

The job situation is becoming worse. Each day, news outlets are reporting another Corporate lay off effecting thousands of people’s lives. When I drive around my neighborhood, I see more and more “For Sale” signs in front of houses.  I even saw one house that had a “For Sale” sign and a “For Rent” sign in front of it. Either option was acceptable to the homeowner.  Now that’s desperation.

President Obama created a stimulus plan that would help put Americans back to work. He presented this plan to the House of Representatives hoping that Congress would write a job stimulus bill. After a few days of discussion, the House passed a bill which removed some of the spending and added more tax cuts.

The House stimulus bill is now with that elite group, the Senators, and the so called “Moderates” or “Centrists” have brutally chopped away at the “spending” and added more tax cuts. For 8 years, the Republican mantra has been tax cuts and more tax cuts. Since our economy is taking a nose dive over a cliff (h/t Daily Kos), it is obvious that these tax cuts didn’t save us. So what do the Republicans want more of in this stimulus bill? You guessed it, more tax cuts. They want to continue doing the same thing over and over again even though it never worked in the past. There is a word for this behavior. It is called insanity.

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Continue reading

Re-Thinking Capitalism

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As one of the nation’s premier non-economists, I have some thoughts I’d like to share about how to fix the economy to the betterment of the many over the enrichment of the few. We’ve all heard the expression, “The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.” Most of us believe it to be true (because it is), but the naysayers are almost always from the elite class of people who have quite a lot of money. More than they need, if you want to be perfectly honest. And to me, therein lies the heart of the debate: Should Capitalism be about getting what you need, or getting what you want?

The people who study this stuff refer to it as Wealth Condensation, but I’m a non-economist, so I’m simply going to refer to it as a “flaw” in the system. In a nutshell, the way things are set up right now, wealth flows through the system into the hands of an elite few – the Super Rich. I’m talking about the people with, like, a hundred million dollars or more. They’re out there, and they have a lot of the money. Continue reading

Best Rant of the Day

TheraP at TPM brings up not just a good point but a brilliant rant.  I’m only ashamed that I hadn’t thought of this sooner.  Good job, TheraP!

I denounce and reject being called a “fundamental”

How did this happen?  Yesterday I was a person. But today, according to the mcSham twins I am a merely a “fundamental.”  To them, you’re nothing but a fundamental too!

How do you feel about tha
t?  How would every “fundamental” you meet feel about that?  Frankly, I’d like a poll asking people whether they like the names these slandering liars are calling us!

I personally am offended to be called a fundamental
.  Mind you,  I was appalled and outraged when they foisted the Trophy Fundamental on me.  But  now they’ve poked me in the eye again, trying to change the word “person,” a perfectly good and acceptable word into the weird term “fundamental.”  All because mcShame flip-flipped on his view on the economy! Do they think we were too stupid to notice the flip-flop?  And the total stretching of the Truth by changing the meaning of “fundamental” into ME!!!

Well, I’m telling you, I don’t like being treated this way.  I’m a woman and besides it being sexist to call a woman a “fundamental,” I also have a sneaking suspicion there is more afoot here than just a flip-flop and redefining the meaning of a “Person.”

Here’s my concern.  This Trophy Fundamental (I’m calling her that because she’s participated in this “verbiage” switch – as she termed it, so it can’t be sexist for her!) is a “fundamentalist” as well.  So… could this religious hypocrite, a liar of the first order, actually have a hidden agenda?  Is she hoping that we’ll all get so used to being called a “Fundamental” instead of a Person, that they can then just stretch the Truth even more… till they’re calling us a “fundamentalist” too?

Well, I’m not taking this any longer!  I propose a huge campaign to take back to the real meaning of “fundamental” and to reject this inhumane calling of me and you – a “fundamental.”

If we don’t put a stop to this now, the word “humanity” will be redefined too:  Fundamenty is what they’ll say.  Next it will be “God created fundaments.”  And they’ll try to tell us to “Love your fundamentals as you love yourself.”

Sarah, you mendacious liar, you, where in the bible does it call a Person a “fundamental”?

If the mcPain twins, partners and Soul Mates in Lying, want to call themselves “fundamentals,” that’s ok with me.

But you’re not gonna call me a Fundamental and get away with it!

How do YOU feel about being a Fundamental?

So I Told the Senator, Thanks, But No Thanks, on That Vice Presidential Pick from Nowhere

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Below is an actual message I sent to Senator John McCain, via his contact form. Aren’t the Internets fun?

Dear Senator McCain,

Thanks, but no thanks, on that Vice Presidential Pick from Nowhere. I keep asking myself if you could have picked a worse running mate if you had chosen from among the Republicans you beat to win the nomination. And while I would not have wanted any of them to become president any more than I want you to, Continue reading

Litmus Test

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Evangelical Republicans are proud of the fact that they give their prospective candidates a litmus test – do you, or do you not, support the overturning of Roe v. Wade? Nothing else seems to matter to them but this one issue of personal privacy that should be between a woman and any Gods in which she believes, and not the government (of any state, either.)

So, why don’t we come up with our own litmus tests? We don’t have to limit it to one issue. Candidates for president should declare their feelings about the following:

Continue reading

Sure She’s Beautiful, But Can She Handle a Man-Sized Safe?

Well, the world was introduced to Gov Sarah Palin of Alaska, and by conservative opinionheads’ accounts, she’s a disastrous pick eminently qualified to be Vice President. But is she really?

We’ve all heard about her “executive experience”, but does she know how to be Dick Cheney? You see, Still-President George W. Bush signed an Executive Order which granted the Vice President extraordinary (and I use that word literally) executive powers within the government. Powers that go way beyond merely breaking tie votes in the Senate, or presiding over it for the first day until he turns the duties of President of the Senate over to the Senate Majority Leader for the next two years. Dick Cheney had the authority to sit in on any meeting, within any executive department, and speak for the president and decide policy. And he didn’t even have to tell the president what he just did in his name. (At least, that’s the way it appears from the things Bush says.)

We know that Sarah Palin is athletic, and enjoys jogging (even when six months pregnant!). We know she has stamina because at seven-months pregnant with a special needs baby-to-be, while at an Energy Conference in Texas, she was able to ignore the fact that her water broke, and stood up and gave a half-hour speech before leaving immediately for the nearest delivery room specializing in neo-natal care. Okay, I made that last part up. She didn’t leave immediately for the nearest delivery room specializing in neo-natal care, she got on a plane and flew for about eight or ten hours back to Alaska. The rest was true. And we know that she has strong family values, because as soon as she landed in Alaska, she got into a car and drove for forty-five minutes until she found one of the two finest neo-natal care centers in the region to deliver her baby. Okay, I made that last part up. Actually, she drove for forty-five minutes past the two finest neo-natal care centers in the region to give birth in a small medical center (not equipped to handle premature babies – did I mention that the baby was two months premature?) in her home town of Wasilla, AK (Population: 9,000 people, 4,000 moose), where she was once mayor. She managed to win a tough election on a shoestring budget against a well-funded moose to become Governor of Alaska. Okay, I made that last one up. She once shot a moose as Governor of Alaska.

So she seems to be everything today’s American Republican would want in a go-to Senate Tie Breaker, but does she know how to keep a secret? Does she know how to gather the most insider of corporate people and let them decide official government policy in the areas in which they make their money (energy, oil, etc.), without letting anyone know who was in on any of the meetings? Does she know how to authoritatively say, “Go fuck yourself,” to the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman? Does she know how to invent a totally bogus security classification that she could stamp on all the documents that she doesn’t want the public to see (such as who attended those energy meetings)? Does she have the strength to handle a man-sized safe in which to store those secret documents (documents that should never have been locked up, and rightfully should have been sent to the proper archivists)? That’s the question(s) Americans should be asking themselves.

A noun, a verb and…

Rudy Guiliani – a noun, a verb and 9/11

John McCain – a noun, a verb and POW

John McCain’s over use of his POW status is becoming insulting to every other person that has ever been captured or tortured or restrained against their will… this includes other POWs, victims of kidnapping and I will go as far as to include victims of rape. It’s like he is the “only” person to have suffered some horrible fate and nobody else has ever suffered as much as him. Hum…

John McCain is starting to sound like a “whiner”, someone that wants us all to vote for him because he “suffered” so much for his country. If that’s the logic that the McCain campaign wants us to follow, then Max Cleland should still be a Senator from Georgia serving in the US Congress and the House Republicans should be praising John Murtha instead of attacking him.

Wesley Clark was correct when he stated that John McCain’s military experience isn’t something that would make him qualified to be president.

You see, it’s okay for Republicans to attack and lie about Democrats that have lost arms and legs fighting for this country and continue fighting for veterans. When it comes to the Democrats, they better not attack a Republican POW who may possibly be suffering from PTSD as evidenced by his anger issues, poor memory and confusion because that would be “unpatriotic”.

As a Patriot, I know that this is just more Republican hypocrisy.

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Hello from Europe – The Candidate causes quite a stir

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Hello Everybody. We have two news items over here today. One is “The Arrest” and the second is unsurprisingly “The Candidate”. Radovan Karadzic‘s arrest has caused quite a stir in Europe, he was on the run for nigh on 13 years after all. He is one of the great war criminals of the end of the 20th century and will now, I hope, get his trial and his just sentence.

The other topic is, of course, Barack Obama who will soon be visiting Europe and is eagerly anticipated by those politicians who count on a little bit of popularity rubbing off on them, because they need it. But alas, neither Sarkozy, who is far from popular at home right now, nor Gordon Brown, who would shake hands with just about anybody if he had a chance to bask a little in the glow of his guest’s aura, will get the lion’s share of Obama’s attention. The highly respected and very popular German chancellor Angela Merkel and her foreign secretary Steinmeier, he himself very popular, too, are on Obama’s shortlist, never mind she resisted his plans to speak from the Brandenburg Gate. Brown and Sarkozy are far from pleased says Der Spiegel:

One-on-one meetings for Obama have now been confirmed with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. But so far he is only including time in his stops in Paris and London for French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. A decision still hasn’t been made on whether the Democratic candidate will meet with the foreign ministers of those countries. (read more)

But then Germans are the ultimate Obamamaniacs, not the only ones, but securely in the candidate’s pocket. Some 70% would vote for him, if they were qualified for voting in the US presidential election.

Obama is the hope of a Western world filled with concerns. A recession looms as does high inflation sparked by exploding demand for commodities and natural resources. Furthermore, no one has yet come up with a convincing response to global warming. No one knows how to bring peace to the Middle East, Afghanistan or Iraq. And no one has a promising strategy for dealing with Islamist terrorism.(read more)

Barack Obama is very popular in Britain, too, of course. The Guardian is covering a lot of reporting and commenting on Obama’s behalf. Michael Tomasky, feels that Maliki’s support of Obama’s withdrawal plan is the single big story of this year’s Presidential campaign.

Boy would I have liked to have been tapping the phone lines between Washington and Baghdad on Saturday afternoon.

I would love to know exactly what people in the Bush White House were saying to one another, and more importantly what they were saying to Baghdad, after Der Spiegel published its now-famous interview with the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, in which he in essence endorsed Barack Obama’s withdrawal timetable. Bush officials acknowledged on Sunday that they did indeed call the Maliki government for, ah, clarification. I bet they did. (read more)

But, apart from Obama’s obvious political prowess, there is another truth. Almost everybody sees a different Barack Obama, according to one’s own beliefs. My personal view of Obama? He is a highly energetic, intelligent and competent person, who is more pragmatic than dogmatic and quite conservative in his personal beliefs and ethics. He is an excellent manager and able to think through complex issues to the end, so he comes across as far sighted, while he is only very thorough in his thought processes.

“This is not Barack Obama, she hasn’t understood a single thing he said, or hasn’t been listening properly.” Is that your reaction to my view of the candidate ? Ok, read this:

These contradictions are arguably true of all politicians, but they seem truer of Obama than most. He must be the only “radical Islamist” whose biggest scandal to date has arisen from membership of the Trinity United Church of Christ. Depending on what Kool-Aid you have been drinking, when it comes to Obama your glass is either half full, half empty or overflowing, or you’ve smashed it lest anybody else imbibes its poison.

This is a blessing and a curse for Barack Obama. It offers the screen where you can project all your hopes and expectations and see them displayed for you, which will help getting him elected. But, obviously, it carries the seed of disappointment. The Times enters this inevitable and in my opinion vitally important sobering up process into the larger context of Anti Americanism:

It amuses me that some of those who criticise the present US Administration for its Manichaeism – its division of the world into good and evil – themselves allocate all past badness to Bush and all prospective goodness to Obama. As the ever-improving myth has it, on the morning of September 12, 2001, George W. and America enjoyed the sympathy of the world. This comradeship was destroyed, in a uniquely cavalier (or should we say cowboyish) fashion, through the belligerence, the carelessness, the ideological fixity and the rapacity of that amorphous and useful category of American flawed thinker, the neoconservative. They just threw it away. (read more)

There were several instances, where I seriously doubted that the Democrats were planning on winning the coming elections at all. I called it “The Cliff Barnes Syndrome” of the Democrats in discussions with friends. But The Economist sees it differently:

For the base, the “enthusiasm gap” may genuinely be about the personal appeal of Barack Obama or specific qualms regarding John McCain. But among the writers and the think-tank wonks, there seems to be a widespread sense that the Republican Party, and perhaps the conservative movement more generally, is due for an overhaul. And many of the folks who’d like to do the overhauling seem to think that the shock therapy of a clear defeat, and the space for introspection and reinvention that a few years out of power would provide, are needed to make it happen.

This would explain, to me at least, why they are going on with John McCain, despite all his shortcomings. I am still afraid, however, that they may spring a different candidate on you at the convention where McCain will step back for health reasons. But that is neither here nor there and only my personal nightmare.

You all have a good, healthy and successful day!