The Watering Hole, 1/18/2017

As soon as Hillary Clinton cinched the Democratic Party’s nomination her supporters began deriding Sander’s supporters in earnest, in an effort to shame or fear-monger them into voting for The Chosen One. As a Sanders supporter, their efforts further turned this author off from Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party.

In two days, Donald Trump will become the President of the United States. Ever since the election, those on the left have called Trump voters all kinds of names, all of which were anything but kind. This divisive name-calling is counterproductive. It only serves to drive Trump supporters further away, as the natural tendency when one is attacked is to become defensive.

To change the course of this Nation, it will be necessary for the common man on the left and on the right to work together, to join forces against the ruling oligarchy. Up until now, the oligarchy has been content to control our government from behind the scenes. But with Trump, and his likely choices to fill his Cabinet, they are up front, running the show from the highest seat of power.

So, how do we, the people, bridge the divisive gap between the left and the right? It must start with overtures from the left. It must start with recognizing that not everyone who voted for Trump is racist. Not everyone who voted for Trump hates women. Like Sanders supporters, many, many Trump supporters voted for change. Trump was going to drain the swamp, and drain the swamp he will. He’s going to Make America Great Again by putting the interests of the 1% above all else. The common man and woman who voted for Trump will soon be left out in the cold.

As they see their health insurance disappear, or skyrocket out of reach, as States budgets buckle under the crushing weight of an unfunded mandate to provide health care for those who no longer have coverage while the taxes on the 1% are cut and cut again; as they realize that Right to Work laws mean the end of unions, union wages and benefits; and when it dawns on them that Trump is not bringing their factory jobs back, many, many Trump supporters will feel they’ve been conned. The last thing they’ll want to hear is an “I told you so” from the left.

Trump supporters will need to hear facts, objectively stated. They’ll need to hear solutions, short of taking up arms. They’ll need to know that those on the left will have their back and will stand with them, side by side, through the long, arduous task of wresting control of our government from the moneyed elite sitting on both sides of the aisle.

Trump supporters have been conditioned to see liberals as the enemy. Liberals have been trained to see conservatives as the enemy. Both views have been fostered by the ruling class so that liberals and conservatives alike do not see them as the enemy.

We need to mend fences where we can. The first side to stop using hate speech will ultimately control the dialogue.

OPEN THREAD – OPEN THE DIALOGUE

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, January 4, 2017. The United States of America is a Christian Nation.

The United States of America is a Christian Nation.

But how did we get this way, and what does it mean to be Christian anyway?

The following is this author’s impressions of the evolution of Christianity, based on an admittedly unscholarly understanding of the history of the religion.

Christ wasn’t very popular when he died. Sure, of the prophets of his time, he’d been gaining in popularity, culminating in his arrival at the seat of his religion, Jerusalem. But within a week he’d upset the status quo, turning over the tables of the profit-center of the priesthood. The reaction from the authorities was swift and the son of a carpenter was executed.

But there was something about what he said, or what others said he said, that would not die. He said love one another, even love your enemies. Give away your possessions so that you are not controlled by them. Care for the poor, the sick, the imprisoned, the foreigner.

This message grew as little communes formed across the Roman Empire. And it challenged the power of the State. Governments, by far and large, stay in power by controlling the governed. And one of the best ways of controlling the governed is to keep them divided amongst themselves. Sew distrust, hate, fear and scapegoating and you keep the populace’s attention focused on each other, while those at the top of the economic structure continue to hoard more and more of the country’s resources.

But a religion that espouses loving and accepting is antithetical to a government that rules through divisiveness. A religion that teaches its followers to share all they have with each other (the essence of communism) threatens a hierarchy dependent on concentrating wealth into the hands of the few.

But contemporary Christianity, at least that espoused by a vocal and politically powerful ‘evangelical’ sect, now teaches division amongst the masses and not only condones, but praises the concentration of wealth into the hands of the few. How did that happen?

Well, several hundred years ago, the Roman Empire made Christianity the State Religion. Perhaps it was a matter of ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’. But it became ‘us against them’. Christians versus Muslims. Christians versus Jews. If you were Christian, you belonged to a group that was saved by God. If you weren’t a Christian, you were influenced by Satan. Christians versus non-Christians.

And Satan, being the devil, was to be hated, as were his followers, i.e. all non-Christians. Thus the religion of love became one of hate. Evangelical Christianity has little to do with the teachings of the son of a carpenter. It has everything to do with forgiving their own while condemning all others. And, in this sense, the United States of America is a Christian Nation. We have elected a President who calls everyone that does not support him his enemies and brands them as losers. He is embraced by Evangelical Christians who forgive him his sins and cheer his calls for violence against those who do not support him.

The son of a carpenter would tell us to repay hate with love, to love Trump and his supporters, to love the enemy, no matter what. But, then again, sometimes it is necessary to overturn the tables of the money changers and drive them out with a whip.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole; Thursday September 22 2016; “The Answer, My Friend, is Blowin’ In The Wind”

A few weeks short of twelve years ago and in the aftermath of the 2004 re-election of George W. Bush, I was a participant in an online chat group, one that was mostly anti-Bush, anti-conservative, and anti-Neocon. The handwriting on the wall back then might as well have been written in day-glow paint, describing the national traumas which we all knew were on their way and in search of a place to roost. In any case, one of the members of the group suggested that it could be an interesting exercise to see what ‘Liberals’ see in terms of lifestyle, of likes, dislikes, etc., and why, and how close to 180 degrees from Conservative any or all of them might fall.

I accepted the challenge, and posted the following essay.

******

November 22, 2004
Self Description:

Progressive moderate leftist independent with certain anti-capitalist leanings (some might call them ‘socialist’ but that wouldn’t necessarily be correct), spiritual AND a-religious, generally harmless, totally heterosexual but sympathetic to good and decent folks no matter their orientation — also no matter skin color, status, net worth, national origin, creed, gender, IQ, et al. etc., but with STRONG dislike/distaste for shallowness, no matter the wrapping.

What I love: my children, my beautiful lady, the memory of my parents, the Earth on which I live. Continue reading

TWH:06/15/16: The American Dream

Once upon a time, a man could be self-sufficient and raise a family with a 40 acre farm and a mule.

Once upon a time,  the North American continent seemingly had unlimited land for farming, raising families, and freedom from oppression by Lords, Kings, and Government-imposed Religions.

And a new nation was born, crafted and created by a select few white men, who desired to create a Utopia – – a country where the populace controlled the government, instead of the other way around. To be certain, they crafted certain provisions to protect the interests of the wealthy  against a populist uprising – the electoral college and setting it up so that States Legislatures elected Senators.

There has always been a tension between those with money and those who would regulate commerce. Unregulated capitalism led to cyclical booms and busts, culminating in the Great Depression. This, in turn, led to regulating capitalism, which led to sustained growth and the emergence of a middle class.

By the 1950s a man could earn enough to support a family, buy a house and a car and enjoy a reasonably comfortable standard of living working a reasonable secure job. The American Dream was finally realized. For some. For the American Dream was not for people of color and women were lower class citizens, in the workforce especially, as they were expected to stay home and have babies.

Then came the 60s, and someone of color dared to  have a dream – – to dream that a person of color could share in the American Dream. There were assassinations and civil unrest. A social safety net was created and the Welfare State was born. Although born of good intentions, it had its flaws. Chief among which was the fact that, once on Welfare, accepting an entry level job meant a decrease in income. As a result, families became stuck on Welfare for multiple generations.

Along comes resentment, as people on Welfare were painted as lazy – leeches living off the labors of the working class. Welfare families were depicted as families of color, and racial prejudices were once again exploited.

And somewhere along the way, the American Dream became the American Nightmare. We voted for Presidents, Senators and Republicans who would lower our taxes, eliminate the social safety net and force people to go to work. But these elected representatives also began chipping away at the foundations of the economic policies that led to the rise of the middle class.

Those foundations are largely gone now. Free trade agreements put a quick end to American manufacturing. The corporations are still in business, but the manufacturing jobs have been relocated to countries with lower wages, fewer regulations. Government controls on the financial sector have been removed, leading to the Great Recession of 2008. The disparity of wealth between the haves and have-nots is approaching levels not seen since the Middle Ages. The haves have rigged the system and control the message, thereby controlling the group-think of the populace.

George Orwell’s 1984 has become a blueprint instead of a warning.

The American Dream is gone. The standard of living for all except the top 10% is in decline. It now takes 2 wage earners to support a middle-class lifestyle, a lifestyle that comes to a quick end should one of the two develop a serious illness or injury.

This current election cycle paints the reality of where we are in stark contrast. A populist candidate on the Right, campaigning on racial intolerance, violence and hatred is the presumptive Republican nominee. A populist candidate on the Left, campaigning on social justice and democratic socialism has been stymied at every turn by the mainstream media and the political machinations of the hierarchy of the Democratic Party.

Is this where we’re heading?

 

OPEN THREAD

 

 

TWH, 5/18/16: The Argument for Revolution

A revolution in the United States is inevitable. Why? Because we make our own reality, and our reality is controlled by those who indoctrinate us to believe whatever the ruling class wants us to believe. Science? Facts? We distort both to conform to our indoctrinated reality. And, perhaps more crucially, the more educated we are, the more we distort reality to conform to our beliefs!
First, these studies:

Motivated Numeracy and Enlightened Self-Government
Abstract:
Why does public conflict over societal risks persist in the face of compelling and widely accessible scientific evidence? We conducted an experiment to probe two alternative answers: the “Science Comprehension Thesis” (SCT), which identifies defects in the public’s knowledge and reasoning capacities as the source of such controversies; and the “Identity-protective Cognition Thesis” (ICT), which treats cultural conflict as disabling the faculties that members of the public use to make sense of decision relevant science. In our experiment, we presented subjects with a difficult problem that turned on their ability to draw valid causal inferences from empirical data. As expected, subjects highest in Numeracy—a measure of the ability and disposition to make use of quantitative information—did substantially better than less numerate ones when the data were presented as results from a study of a new skin-rash treatment. Also as expected, subjects’ responses became politically polarized—and even less accurate—when the same data were presented as results from the study of a gun-control ban. But contrary to the prediction of SCT, such polarization did not abate among subjects highest in Numeracy; instead, it increased. This outcome supported ICT, which predicted that more Numerate subjects would use their quantitative reasoning capacity selectively to conform their interpretation of the data to the result most consistent with their political outlooks. We discuss the theoretical and practical significance of these findings.

Kahan, Dan M. and Peters, Ellen and Dawson, Erica Cantrell and Slovic, Paul, Motivated Numeracy and Enlightened Self-Government (September 3, 2013). Yale Law School, Public Law Working Paper No. 307. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2319992 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2319992

Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens
[T]he preferences of economic elites (as measured by our proxy, the preferences of “affluent” citizens) have far more independent impact upon policy change than the preferences of average citizens do. To be sure, this does not mean that ordinary citizens always lose out; they fairly often get the policies they favor, but only because those policies happen also to be preferred by the economically-elite citizens who wield the actual influence.
(Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page; American Political Science Association 2014.)

So, we live in an oligarchy. The oligarchy influences public opinion so that we favor what they want.
We are given choices in elections – choices between social ‘liberals’ and social ‘conservatives’. But never a choice for someone who would challenge the Oligarchy.
As this article is being written, Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee. Hillary is the presumptive nominee. Sanders has not given up, and may yet garner more pledged delegates than Hillary, but even if he does, it appears that superdelegates will hand the nomination to Hillary – already she has appointed about 70 of the 75 committee members and chairs for the upcoming Democratic National Committee.
Both Trump and Hillary will advance the fortunes of the Oligarchy. Sanders will not. We will likely be faced with the choice between a Fascist and an Oligarchist. Sanders’ supporters will be left out in the cold.

But how did we get here? Indoctrination.
Decades of “christian” private schools and homeschooling have indoctrinated a substantial portion of the populace to believe the very messages Trump espouses. Textbooks published by the Bob Jones University Press puts the imprimatur of God giving His Blessings on social and economic policies that benefit the very rich. Thus indoctrinated, these students become incapable of recognizing facts, of recognizing any reality, that conflicts with their indoctrination. Trump has tapped into these voters. They will not be dissuaded by any argument, any fact, any reasoning. And they are ready to take up arms if they do not get their way.
But what about the majority of us that were educated in public schools? You mean, public schools, that for decades have had their textbooks vetted by the Texas Board of Education? We’ve been indoctrinated too. Indoctrinated into a white-washed version of history.
Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.

Both private school and public school students don’t know history. But there is one major difference. Public schools teach history – names, dates, places. But they don’t teach the lessons of history. They don’t teach the ‘why did this happen’ and they don’t teach the moral lessons that we can draw from history. Private schools do, but their ‘moral’ lessons all point towards acquiescence to the policies that favor the ruling class.
The nation is primed for a charismatic leader, be it a Hitler or a Ghandi. Trump, by all measures, is another Hitler. Sanders is the closest thing to another Ghandi. Hillary is, neither. She is the face of the Oligarchy – the face of Big Brother. The Oligarchy won’t let Sanders have a chance – they are content with either Trump or Hillary.
But given a choice between Trump and Hillary, the inevitable outcome is revolution.

OPEN THREAD

THE WATERING HOLE

The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The judges, both of the supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behaviour, and shall, at stated times, receive for their services, a compensation, which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office. (United States Constitution (1787) Article 3, Section 1.)

The Constitution does not state the number of Justices on the Supreme Court. If Congress wanted to, it could let Scalia’s seat remain vacant indefinitely.

We have entered an era of brazen partisanship on the part of the extreme right-wing, funded and fueled by an oligarchy who have openly declared class warfare on everyone else. The oligarchy controls so much wealth they write the laws that in turn increase their holdings.

Favorable rulings by the Supreme Court allowed them to further tighten their grasp of our government. And, over the years, Republicans have slowly but steadily moved the federal court system to the right, to supporting corporations over people, the rich and powerful over everyone else. Case in point: class action lawsuits are becoming a thing of the past. Odds are, if you have any credit card or cell phone, you have a contract waiving your right to class action lawsuits, and waiving your right to go to court.

That’s right. In far too many instances, you cannot go to court to take on a multinational corporation. Your legal rights have been privatized – you must go to arbitration, an alternative system of justice where the arbitrator’s power may be virtually unlimited – the power to ignore the law, and to ignore the facts. And it’s damn-near impossible to get a court to overturn an arbitrator’s decision. Oh, and you have to pay for the arbitrator. The privatizing of justice, in the civil arena.

In the criminal arena, we already know that we have privatized prisons. The only legal form of slavery in the world.

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. (United States Constitution, XIII Amendment, Section 1.)

Private, for profit prisons, where someone could be locked up for life under a “three-strikes” law.

Justice Scalia is dead, but his legacy in the form of decisions he authored, majorities he joined, lives on.

Republicans, within hours of his passing announced that they will not ratify anyone President Obama nominates. That is their right under the Constitution.

The only non-violent recourse We, the People have is to vote Republicans out of power, at every level of government. If we’re to lazy to mobilize and do just that, we get the government we deserve.

OPEN THREAD

[the opinions stated are those of the author and not necessarily that of The Zoo)

 

 

 

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, September 30, 2015: We Hold These Truths to be Self Evident

Rights. What rights do we, as citizens of the United States have? Not a whole lot.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”–(Declaration of Independence)

The Constitution itself does not confer any rights. Any Constitutional rights are implied. They don’t get spelled out until you get to the amendments:

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Ok. So there’s the right to peaceably to assemble. That’s why we have “free Speech Zones” far away from anywhere the President may actually be appearing.

Amendment II
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

And the right to bear arms. But not military grade hardware. So if you’re actually going to fight it out with the United States Military forces in a firefight…good luck. One drone and you’re toast.

Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures…

Can you say “Homeland Security”?

Amendment VI
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed,…and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Unless, of course, you are accused of being a terrorist.

Amendment VII
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved…

Do you even know the difference between a suit at common law and a suit in equity? Bottom line, in the former, you can have a jury, in the latter, a judge decides your fate.

Amendment XV
Section 1.
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Finally, the Constitution mentions the right to vote. Up to now, it’s been an implied right. And, to the extent it is a right, this amendment allows men to vote, even if they were once slaves. The right to vote still doesn’t extend to women, however.

Amendment XIX
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

Four amendments later and the implied right to vote finally extends to women.

Amendment XXVI
The right of citizens of the United States, who are 18 years of age or older, to vote, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of age.

In reaction to the Vietnam war, where we were drafting 18 year-olds to die ‘for their country’ the inherent unfairness of sending young men (women weren’t drafted into military service) to fight and die, without their having a voice in politics gave rise to the 26th amendment.

What’s missing here?
The right to drinkable water.
The right to breathable air.
The right to food.
The right to an education.
The right to health.

In short, a whole lot of rights guaranteed (or at least promised) to people living on other industrialized nations are not guaranteed rights in the United States of America.

Here in the U.S. of A. we have the right to life – and some people would take this to mean the right to life of a fertilized egg as being more important than that of a living, breathing human being (the impregnated female).

We have the right to liberty – if your rich. The poor can get incarcerated for petty, non-violent crimes. The rich can rob and kill without fear of incarceration.

And we have the right to the pursuit of happiness. As long as your happiness doesn’t challenge the status quo.

Water rights, on the other hand, are bought and sold. And food? Ask Monsanto.

There’s no right to clothing, but you will get arrested if you do without.

And there’s no right to shelter. And, again, you can get arrested for being homeless.

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that Nature’s God abhors imbalance; and that chief among the imbalances in Nature is the disparity in wealth between the haves and the have-nots.

Balance will be restored. The only questions are how, and at what cost.

OPEN THREAD.

The Watering Hole, Tuesday September 1, 2015

Away from food politics and environment for a moment, here is an essay on the presence of guns in the US with respect to other countries and the comparative murder and suicide rates. Surprised to actually find this at a CNN site.

Amerikans love their guns to death.

Papa bear, momma bear, and baby bear.

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, 3/4/15: War of Words

Yesterday saw Boehner playing presidential vis-a-vis Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress, at Boehner’s invitation. You see, the Constitution, ya know, that document that conservatives love to waive around when it comes to original intent and proving we’re a Christian Nation, says that the President has the power to make treaties, not the Speaker of the House.

The Executive Branch, not Congress, takes the lead on foreign relations. Netanyahu just gave the Jewish stamp of approval to Congress going behind the President’s back. The phrase “be careful of what you wish for” comes to mind.

For Article Two of the Constitution also gives the President the power to convene both Houses of Congress, or either of them. It’s high time the President exercised his power to keep Congress in session until they pass legislation to help we, the people, instead of catering to the wishes of the 1%. It’s time for Congress to give up its spring breaks, holidays, vacations and campaign season until we have full employment, tuition-free college, universal health care, equal pay for women, marriage equality, etc., etc., etc.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, December 3, 2014: Success Strategies

The human brain is a remarkably lazy organ. It is designed to accomplish a task with the least amount of effort possible. It starts out programed with but one success strategy: to cry.

When a baby is hungry, or wet, or poopy, or gassy, the baby cries. Eventually the parents figure out what is bothering the baby; they feed it or change it or burp it, and the baby stops crying. The success strategy worked.

Some people never learn a different success strategy. You know who they are, whether at school, at work, at church or any social gathering. They cry and fuss and throw a tempertantrum until they get what they want.

Most learn a different success strategy: appeasement (aka brown-nosing). Others learn to get what they want by attacking others; bullies fall into this category, as to gossips and back-biters.

When someone’s success strategy no longer works, all hell breaks loose for awhile, as their brain tries time and time again to succeed with what has always worked in the past – then tries all kinds of different strategies until something finally results in the individual getting what he or she wants. A new success strategy is then adopted.

Recognizing people’s success strategies is important, if you want to be able to direct their thinking and actions.

Something to think about. Because, like it or not, each one of us can be controlled, directed and manipulated by someone who knows how this works, unless you know how this game is being played.

OPEN THREAD

The economic impact of ending unemployment benefits

I just read where one community will have 2,000 people lose their long-term unemployment benefits.

Assume, for the sake of argument, that these were minimum wage workers, working between 30 and 35 hours per week. The have been getting about $100 per week in unemployment benefits. Now, nothing.

That means they have, as a group, been spending about $200,000 per week in the local economy. Now, nothing.

Over the course of a year, $10,000,000 won’t be spent in local stores. But business owners won’t see a similar cut in their taxes. They’ll have to cut costs some other way, and the usual way is to reduce their workforce. This, in an area with a nearly 14% unemployment rate as it is.

And remember, unemployment benefits those who lost their job through no fault of their own. While those who just lost their benefits may have to pack up and leave, going whereever they can find work, the small businesses left behind will have to make do with $10,000,000 less this coming year.

Thanks, Congress.

Start the Revolution Without Me, Or, A Civil War by Any Other Name….

Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA):

“I will remind you that this group of renegades that decided that they wanted to break from the crown in 1776 did great damage to the economy of the colonies. They created the greatest nation and the best form of government, but they did damage to the economy in the short run.”

So, now we have a Southern State Representative comparing the actions of the Tea Party with those of the leaders of the Revolutionary War.

Is this their “exit strategy”? First, destroy the economy of the United States, then break off and form their own government?

It seems no one in the Tea Party movement really looks down the road and asks themselves, “What if?” What if they succeed?

What if they create a Theocratic Confederacy of Southern and farm belt states?

What if they prevent women and the working poor from getting affordable health care?

What if these States have to live within their means, and can no longer receive more from Washingon than they pay in taxes?

What if these States had to pay for their own military?

Having destroyed the U.S. and Global Economy, how will they convince other nations to trade with them?

The Tea Party does not have any answers to these questions, primarily because they don’t ask these questions. To them, it’s all about getting their way, whatever it is at the moment, without compromise. To them, compromise means the other side must realize the Tea Party way is the Right way. They are like spoiled children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder, ADHD and bipolar disorder all wrapped into one big God-fearing hate-filled package.

And this past weekend, Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz rallied outside the Whitehouse with a Confederate Flag, protesting the government shutdown by taking down the barricade around the WWII monument. Start the revolution without me.

In a Nutshell: THE END OF DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA

This is the best explanation of where we are, and why there’s no realistic hope of things getting better:

How do House Republicans end up convincing themselves of unrealistic plans, particularly when they’ve seen them fail before, and when respected voices in the Republican and even conservative establishment are warning against them?

RC: When you get the members off the talking points you come to a simple conclusion: They don’t face consequences for taking these hardline positions. When you hear members talk candidly about their biggest victory, it wasn’t winning the House in 2010. It was winning the state legislatures in 2010 because they were able to redraw their districts so they had many more conservative voters. The members get heat from the press but they don’t get heat from back home.

It will take years before new districts are drawn. By then, it will be too late.

A lady asked Dr. Franklin “Well Doctor what have we got a republic or a monarchy.”
“A republic” replied the Doctor “if you can keep it.”

Class warfare came to a head a hundred years ago when the labor movement spawned the advent of Unions. Workers joined in solidarity to help each other against the capitalists, the ruling class of their day.

Their gains have been slowly but surely chipped away. The ruling class has been working n the halls of power for decades. They took Lincoln to heart – they didn’t try to fool all the people all the time, just enough of the people at election time. They succeeded.

When a republic is no longer represented by the majority, but by the wealthy few, it ceases to be a republic and is instead an oligarchy. This is where we are now. And the oligarchs will not give up their power willingly.

The Best Government Money Can Buy

I recall a time in the not-to-distant past when anyone who dared vote against the President was a traitor.

The more interesting question is, can a group of persons, elected on the promise to destroy the federal government, who then act on their campaign promise, be traitors? I don’t think so. I think that’s part of representative democracy & the right to change our government – even write a totally new Constitution, if we so choose.

Remember, these tea-party representatives would get nowhere if not for the support of some 200 other Republicans in the House.

These Republicans are quite willing and able to destroy the country to get their way – They’ve been using the budget and debt ceiling limits to their “advantage” for years now, passing authorizations only enough to keep the government and the economy limping along for a few weeks at a time.

Matters have now come to a head. If any Republican breaks ranks. s/he will be branded a loser & will be “primaried” by a tea party candidate. The divide will get worse before it gets better.

Now, some 8 million mothers and babies have lost minimal nutrition support. Millions of fathers are directly feeling the results of the government “slimdown” as Fox puts it. Odds are good that some of these millions are avid gun owners.

Nearly 1 million government and private workers are on an unpaid vacation. Odds are good that most live paycheck to paycheck. They are directly impacted by this “slimdown” (and yes, I use that term precicely because its use is like fingernails on a chalkboard). Their creditors will be impacted soon, as they won’t be paying their credit cards, rent, home and/or car payments.

Point being, an extended “slimdown” will lead to gun violence and people getting killed. This is on top of the looming global market crash. Michelle Bachmann cheered the shutdown, and she was joined by the rank and file tea party members.

But it’s all Obama’s fault. He won’t negotiate with them. But what’s there to negotiate? They haven’t come up with a better health care solution. Negotiations with the Tea Party means give them everything they want, when they want it, or they will shut the government down.

It used to be majority rule, so long as it does not trample the rights of the minority. But now the minority is an intransient sect, hell-bent on imposing their will, and religious beliefs, on the majority.

We have the best government money can buy. And now, it appears, no government is the best government for the aristocracy.

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, July 17, 2013: GET A JOB!

I once ate at a McDonalds where the placemat doubled as a job application. I kid you not. Made me wonder about the food I was putting into my face – that it had been prepared by someone eminantly qualified for the job because he could connect the dots on Ronald McDonald’s nose. (ok, so the job application was a bit more complicated than that, but you get the point.)

Well, it seems the job creators running the clown outfit really do care about their rank and file line workers. So much so that they produced a booklet “Practical Money Skills Budget Journal.”

Page 4 has a sample budget

Let's start with getting 2 jobs, ok?

Let’s start with getting 2 jobs, ok?

This budget assumes you have 2 jobs. So, let’s do the math. To get a net of $2060 per month you have to gross more than that because of things like social security, and other taxes. But, for the sake of argument, let’s assume you work in a State that has no other taxes, and you don’t have to pay any income tax, just the 6.2% Social Security tax. So, you’re going to have to gross about $2,200 per month.

Two jobs. Minimum wage. $7.25 per hour. You’ll only have to work 303 hours per month. No problem. You’ve got 30 days to work all that in, so that’s just….hmmm 303 hours divided by 30 days….10.1 hours a day, every day of the month.

But wait! You’re working in a fast-food establishment – so the most you can count on from the Clown is a 30 hour work week. So, just put that together with your other minimum wage job and you’ve got a …. 60 hour work week….Still need 10.7 hours more. No problem! Just get another job!

Ok, so we’ve figured out the first couple of lines – we’ve all got three part-time jobs paying minimum wage and putting in 10 hour days, seven days a week. We can now afford to rent a $600/month abode. With the average rent running a bit over $1,000 a month, we’ll have to settle for something a little below average.

And we can budget $150 per month for a new car! We’re quite the shopper, and we got a 5 year car loan at zero interest, meaning we can buy any car we want, up to $9,000! Ok, so that’s somewhat less than the $31,000 average price of a new car these days. In fact, that won’t even get you the cheapest new car, coming in at a bit over $12,000. So, we’re going to have to make payments on a used car, and hope to heck it doesn’t need any repairs, ‘cuz that’s not in the budget. For that matter, neither is gas.

But the clown’s budget does have us saving a whopping $100 a month. And we get $25.00 per day for food, gas and entertainment. As long as we never get sick, never miss a 10-hour shift, never have a major repair on our car, etc. We even have $100 a month to buy appliances, furniture etc. What a great budget!

NOT!

The only thing the Clown’s budget truly shows is the fallacy of working hard and living the American Dream.

It used to be that part of the American Dream was class mobility – the ability to move up the socio-economic ladder – to be better off than your parents were. We still have class mobility, but now it is in the opposite direction. Many of us are not better off than our parents. Our children most likely won’t be better off than us. And our grandchildren and/or great-grandchildren will face struggles not seen since the industrial revolution.

OPEN THREAD TIME
BUT FIRST, DID YOU NOTICE IN THE BUDGET THAT HISPANICS SPEND LESS ON HEATING THAN ANGLOS?

Bonus: This is a MUST WATCH!</p>

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, 4/3/13: It’s about Time.

Time.

In the grand scheme of things, intelligent life is but a recent blip on the evolutionary scale of life of this lump of dirt we call home.

Up till now, life played out in peaceful coexistence with Mother Nature. But manunkind does not seek to coexist with Nature, he seeks to dominate her.

Up till now, no creature on earth has been able to shape the weather and alter the climate. Species that existed for millions of years were unable to do what manunkind has done in a mere century. We have dominated Nature. We have burned fuels at an unprecidented rate, taking carbon from the ground and polluting the air in such quantities as to make measurable impacts on our climate. And we ignore all science, nay, we virtually criminalize all science, that stands in the way of profits.

We, of all creatures, are terrified of death, of our own extinction. We have seen the fossil records and know that we, too, may disappear from the face of the earth…go the way of the dinosaurs. And so we fight death at every turn. We create religions that promise life after death. But, even more dangerous, we heap untold riches and wealth on the very few, so that they may survive the inevitable apocolypse.

B.F. Skinner once did an experiment. He put rats in a cage. He gave them plenty of food and water. But the cage was overcrowded. Eventually, even though they had enough to survive, the rats turned on each other…killed each other.

As this author reads about the senseless mass murders, and the clamour by some for the proliferation of even more weapons, and more powerful weapons, in the name of self-defense, this author is reminded of rats in a cage.

Back in the 60’s and 70’s, there used to be talk of zero population growth. No more. Now, it’s all about zero sex education, zero abortions…more rats in the cage.

Manunkind has dominated Nature. For now. But Nature always seeks balance. And, in the long run, Nature will win.

Time.

It’s on Nature’s side. Your’s, too, once you realize…there is no cage.

OPEN THREAD. YOUR TIME NOW.

A Rose by Any Other Name

would still smell…
 
SpiritKat
Guest Post by SpiritKat
 
I was driving to church this past Sunday morning, and as I often do, turned on the radio to a talk show. It was in the middle of a program, and, unfortunately, I reached my destination before the program’s close, so I didn’t catch what program it was or who the speaker was. I didn’t recognize the speaker’s voice, but his message centered around the recent school shootings. It became very clear to me when this speaker began telling how all of the shooters in these recent incidents were either Democrats, or children of Democrats and “Liberals”, that he was indulging in the worst kind of hate speech. But does this person realize he has just put a target on the back of the people he is maligning? In his rant, he asked where the Republicans and Tea party activists were in this, and I couldn’t help but shout at the radio, “They’re right there coming out of your mouth you idiot!”
 
I find it very disturbing when people in such public forums use it for hate speeches. Yes, I certainly understand that they have the right to free speech, and I respect that right, but there is a particularly sinister insidiousness to it when a speaker does so in way that incites others into hatefulness. In my opinion, it is this inciting of hatred that is at the root of a great deal of the violence we’re seeing, including the recent school shootings. This broadcast was solely a pathetic effort to place blame on a particular group of people, and incite people to hate them–and that is just plain wrong. It actually says far more about what kind of person the hate speech broadcaster is than it does anyone else.
 
During the time I was listening, this radio speaker did not give any facts to support his contention that all these shooters were connected to Democrats, but it matters little, for the fact is, no matter what party, all party members are NOT alike. Granted, Republicans appear to have done their best to “purify” party leadership (kind of reminds one of Hitler’s purification efforts doesn’t it?), but while they’ve done a fair job duping the masses, they haven’t gotten to everyone.
 
Not all Republicans are conservatives, for example. I happen to have a Republican friend who is an intelligent, reasonable person; what some might call “old school Republican (those folks back before the party became corrupted by the pseudo religious right), or what might today be called moderates.
 
So, too, all Democrats are not liberals, or even progressives. In fact, not all who are registered as Democrats are even Democrats. Joe Lieberman is a good example of that kind pseudo Democrat. I, myself, am registered as a Democrat, but I absolutely am NOT a Democrat. I am very liberal when it comes to women’s rights, but on many other issues I am very much a moderate, and on a few, even somewhat conservative. But with all the attempts by the ultra conservatives to disenfranchise voters, I simply decided not to bother with changing it.
 
It takes all kinds to make a society, and it is from that societal “melting pot” that political parties are formed. Every party contains extremes on both ends of the spectrum, along with a wide range of diversity in between. So, even if this radio speaker were correct about the shooters’ political connections, it doesn’t mean a hill of beans, as my mama used to say, because those who in some way carry the label of Democrat are as diverse as the population stuck on this wobbling globe.
 
I leave you with this thought: perhaps the hate mongers would be wise to reconsider their hate messages. After all, you know what they say about shooting the messenger…
 
 

Dear Mike Huckabee,

You were quoted as saying, “We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we’ve systematically removed God from our schools.”

I would like to offer the following suggestion and ask for your endorsement:

Let us all agree to post The Lord’s Prayer in each and every public school classroom and office. And, along with that, let us remove all restrictions on gun ownership.

Would you agree that God will then prevent all shootings in all public schools? If not, why not?

You see, I’m still having problems with the notion that God is so vindictive as to allow the murder of 22 little children because of something done by grown-ups a couple of hundred years ago – you know, the separation of church and state thing. A fair reading of your statement is that because we took God out of the classroom, God is seeking His vengance by allowing the mass murder of little children.

Frankly, I am getting a little weary of a God who wipes out entire communities with storms because some folks accept gay marriage as just another expression of God’s love. And I am absolutely appalled at a God who sends a guy to a school house armed to the teeth to kill little kids just because His Word isn’t in the curriculum.

So, Mr. Huckabee, what do you say? Will God prevent mass murders if we adopt Christianity as the official religion of the United States of America? If we become a Christian Nation, can we then get rid of all restrictions on gun ownership and allow people to buy whatever armament they can afford?

And will you, Mr. Huckabee, visit each and every grieving parent, look them in the eye, and tell them that God allowed their little girl or boy to be murdered because public schools don’t teach His Holy Word?

Somehow, I doubt it.

Breaking Gnus: Employers may deny coverage based on religious beliefs.

Judge Reggie B. Walton said the Obama administration’s contraceptive coverage mandate puts companies that companies such as Illinois-based Tyndale House Publishers in an “untenable position” — either violate their beliefs, or face major penalties for failing to comply.

Tyndale House Publishers is a for-profit corporation, owned by a non-profit charitable foundation created later.

From what I’ve read, and I haven’t found the original ruling, the judge’s ruling, if allowed to stand, would mean that virtually any employer may deny coverage for any medical treatment, so long as that denial is based on their beliefs. Beliefs. Corporate beliefs. For-profit Corporate beliefs.

We must, absolutly must, break away from the notion that employment and health care co-joined at the hip. Health care should not be left to the whims of the “job creators.” It should be a Universal Right.

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, 11/14/12: A postlude on the election

Today’s Open Thread is brought to you by our guest blogger, SpiritKat.

When Enough Is Enough

It’s time for Republicans to face the fact that the majority of American people just don’t want what they’ve been trying so hard to sell. Can you imagine what the voting numbers would have been in the recent Presidential election if the Republicans had not tried so hard to cheat and rig the election in their favor? Yet, despite all their disreputable attempts to steal the election for themselves, the American people rejected them.

In spite of the fact that the Republicans tried to give the election to Romney by disenfranchising voters with their unnecessary voter ID laws, or maybe even because of this very action, the number of people who made sure they got out and voted was still enough to defeat the Republican Presidential candidate. Then they attempted to cheat their way into the Presidential office when their rich corporate employers tried to extort votes for Romney through threats of job loss to their employees. Yet in spite of this there were still enough votes to reelect Obama.

Through Citizens United, with our own Republican stacked Supreme Court’s help, the Republicans thought they had the perfect solution for rigging the election, but they underestimated the American people, who clearly said a resounding NO on November 6, leaving the Republicans to swallow their own crud when they found that even they with all their wealth could not buy this election after all. That is, perhaps, one of the greatest things to come out of this election. Yes, money may talk, but clearly it doesn’t always talk loud enough, and certainly not enough to sway the voters in this election.

Then there was, of course, the embarrassment of their Presidential candidate, himself, who was so blindly egotistical that even Joe Scarborough dropped his face in his palms. Throughout the campaign, the stances of the Republican candidate changed practically every time he spoke. Mr. “Etch-a-sketch” gave us nothing concrete, just the “same old, same old” tired plan that got our country into this mess in the first place, and to make matters worse, he riddled the rhetoric with lie after lie after lie. “How can such a man be trusted with the welfare of our country?” we asked. By the close of the campaign, it was made even more clear when Romney made his comment about “not caring about the poor”, and even worse later on with his “it’s not my job” to care about the “freeloading” 47% comment behind closed doors with his rich cronies. Ah, at last we saw clearly his true colors.

It was my own great hope that the American people would finally wake from their apathy and beaurocratic induced stupor to take a stand against its tyranny in this election. Thankfully, enough of them did just that. It is also my hope that the Republicans, themselves, will have an epiphany and realize that we, the people, won’t accept what they keep peddling so hard. Perhaps, in light of this loss, they will begin to understand that the American people need, and won’t accept anything less than, honest industry, fruitful employment, personal freedoms, healthcare, a stable economy, and genuine concern for our welfare. We need these things far more than we’ll ever need the unconstitutionally forced religious beliefs of others, or a make-believe “Leave It To Beaver” society. Today, I feel that my faith has been restored, for though they tried, even a Diebold couldn’t win enough votes for the Republicans this time.

THE OPEN THREAD OF THE DAY IS NOW OPEN FOR COMMENTS

The Sour Grapes of Wrath

If you can’t beat them, QUIT!

That’s what some folks want to do. Secede. Leave the United States. Form their own country.

They’ve started their own petitions.

This author signed the petition for each State that was part of the Confederacy.

Peaceful secession won’t happen. Well, maybe, if every United States Citizen in each State renounces his/her citizenship, it might. (yeah, right) That’s because we all hold dual citizenship. We are citizens of the United States of America first and foremost, and citizens of a particular State secondarily. In fact, I’m not sure each of the separate 50 States has a clause in their State Constitutions defining State citizenship.

Be that as it may, for a State to leave the United States, is to deprive United States Citizens their rights as a U.S. Citizen. Thousands upon thousands of Americans killed each other, with the ultimate outcome saying a State cannot leave the Union.

But I think it would be interesting if more people signed a petition for a particular State than the total population of that State. It would send some sort of message, don’t you think?

Karl Rove: Obama’s Victory was Because of an Act of God

This time, the October surprise was not a dirty trick but an act of God.” – Karl Rove.

Assuming, for the sake of argument, that this is true, it has dramatic implications for Obama’s Second Term.

Evangelicals must believe that God wants Obama to continue to be President. It is therefore their duty (Romans something or other) to do Obama’s bidding, because He is in power by God’s Will and therefore acting according to God’s Divine Design.

It will be interesting to see how the collission between indoctrinated faith and racism will play out. My guess? Rove – Bus – under.

The Death of a Nation (a retrospective on the W. Bush era, Part 5: ENVIRONMENTAL)

Environmental destruction certainly isn’t anything new; it’s been going on, thanks to the human presence, for centuries millennia at least. Nonetheless, it really picked up speed during the first years following the W. Bush presidential (s)election of December, 2000, during which time he carried forth and invariably served “the dream” of Republicans everywhere, i.e. their unending pursuit of biosphere destruction and collapse — courtesy mainly of inborn stupidity, but always in consort with that eternal greed-based quest for evermore profit and power.

There seems little doubt that the policies of W. Bush greatly accelerated the rush toward the environmental ‘tipping point’, i.e. that moment when human-caused (global) environmental changes become permanent, when the biosphere modifies sufficiently to insist the extinction of species after species after species simply because the planet’s physiography has gradually deteriorated in ways unfriendly to the vast majority of existing life forms.

Following is a (March, 2005) review of various elements implicit in the Bush environmental travesty. Embedded may well be found an occasional ‘editorial’ comment, one which may be (properly) interpreted as being somewhat biased toward the views of the writer, an obviously passionate environmentalist-tree-hugger. Me.

Sadly, the issues which drive environmental destruction are not dead; they are, in fact, as alive today as ever, and will become exceedingly moreso should the Romney-Ryan ticket prevail on November 6, 2012.

(Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4)

**********

   Environmental:

“. . . with the coming of civilization the grasses and the wild flowers perish, the forest falls, and its place is taken by brambles, the mountains are blasted in the search for minerals, the plains are broken by the plow and the soil is gradually washed into the rivers.  Last of all, when the forests have gone the rains cease falling, the streams dry up, the ground parches and yields no life, and the artificial desert — the desert made by the tramp of human feet — begins to show itself. Yes; everyone must have cast a backward glance and seen Nature’s beauties beaten to ashes under the successive marches of civilization . . .” (John C. Van Dyke, ca. 1900)

It’s a non-arguable fact of life, so to speak, that the earth’s environment, especially the biosphere, the earth-atmosphere interface in which life exists, is critical to … well, it’s critical to the existence of life.  That is, of course, unless one happens to be a Bush Republican, at which point the biosphere becomes little more than just another big word, one that sounds like something a tree-hugger might speak in the same breath as ‘ecology’ or ‘endangered species’;  tree-huggers: you know, those weirdos that think trees and owls and undeveloped land are worth more than the money they can bring in.

I would only wish that last statement be hyperbole and not an understated fact.

There’s but one way to say it charitably:  George W. Bush is the most environmentally destructive president this nation has ever had, bar none.  To read of his actions, or even to watch him attempt to circuitously lie his way out of the environmental atrocities which he’s heaped up around himself and across the nation is to realize that here must surely stand a man devoid of character, devoid of soul.  How else, after all, to explain such solicitous contempt for one’s only home?  It’s sometimes difficult to imagine the origins of those who are so callous; it’s difficult to ponder how it is that anyone can devolve sufficiently to exist as if a completely vacant lot, a slab of such emptiness, a shallowness so deep that nothing – not even the barest weed of life can manage to wend its way to the surface. Continue reading

The Death of a Nation (a retrospective on the W. Bush era, Part 2)

Below is Part 2 in a series of essays which seem to have become, in retrospect, history-based observations of the consequences  actual and potential  of the first administration of POTUS George W. Bush, all penned early in his second term, i.e. by the end of April, 2005.  Read Part 1 here.

Listening to Mitt Romney speak to today’s world doesn’t exactly serve as a confidence-builder that anything has really changed (or ever will, for that matter) for the better.

********

The Death of a Nation

“If ever we put any other value above liberty, and above principle, we shall lose both.” –Dwight D. Eisenhower (1960)

Imagine a modern society which is ignorant of history, of the arts, of literature, poetry, and drama.  Imagine a society that doesn’t care about its ignorance because it’s been taught, instead, that all there is of value in this life can be measured in dollars and cents and the goods which can be purchased therewith.  Imagine a society which believes wealth refers only to the accumulation of money and/or assets which carry a price tag.  Imagine a society which collectively is not well-informed enough to locate any particular nation on a globe, but which cheers when its leaders order invasions and occupations, a society which yawns at revelations that its leaders have ordered both torture and mass murder as a matter of policy.  Imagine a society once seen by its fellows around the world as a grand and glowing bastion of liberty and justice for everyone, no matter the accident of their birth, but now – suddenly – become feared, mistrusted, and even loathed; a society now emerged and perceived as untrustworthy and a danger to all of civilization, and in fact to Gaia, the very soul of Earth herself. Imagine a society – a nation –  so rife with political and corporate corruption that lies are now spoken as if truths, that what was once good is now bad, where right is wrong and wrong is right, where dreams are now become nightmares.

If imagination fails, simply stand forth and take a close look at the United States of America, circa 2005 A.D.: Land of the Free and Home of the Brave now become Land of the Tyrant and Home of the Scoundrel.

Much has happened on the American political scene in the last five years, and even to the unpracticed eye, none of it looks good.  Genuine truths, facts, lies, observations, trends, and tendencies have joined forces in a disturbing suggestion: that we may currently be witnessing the unveiling of events which one day will come together and define Constitutional America’s demise. Continue reading

Open Letter to the 53%

Dear 53%,

Congratulations. You are the rugged, self-made enterpreneurs who made it to where you are without accepting any goverment handouts. You built everything yourself. You pay taxes that support the 47% do-nothings, and have yet to receive anything from the government.

Or do you?

What if we privatize the national highway system? That way, your taxes wouldn’t go to build and maintain roads you don’t use. Of course, you would have to pay tolls for every road you do use, whether you’re personally driving on them, or the goods you buy are trucked on them.

Next, we can eliminate the Small Business Association. Privatize all small business loans, and, at the same time, let’s eliminate those pesky regulations against monopolies. How many businesses shut down in your town when WalMart moved in?

Eliminating food stamps is a must. That saves $30 billion of your tax dollars. Of course, that means 1 in 7 households must either cut back on what they eat, or cut back on what the spend on other things, to the tune of $30 billion. So, about $30 billion what was getting spent on non-food items will now go to agri-business, instead of your business. Oh, and speaking of agri-business, can we also get rid of their subsidies? Yes, milk, meat and grains will cost more, but you don’t want to benefit, even indirectly, from government handouts, do you?

And speaking of government subsidies, let’s eliminate them across the board. Pay more at the pump? Who cares? Shut down research and development by the drug companies? So what? It is more important that you, the 53% remain untainted by any help from the government.

So, congratulations, 53%. You built it all by yourselves. You never received any help from the government at all. That’s why you can be swayed to support Romney – you want to make sure that those behind you won’t receive the same kind of help you didn’t get.

Sincerely,

One of the 47%.

(The views expressed in this letter are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Zoo.)