Friday Night Music – Free

At the last minute, I got assigned the task to put up a “Music Night” post so here it goes.

As I was searching for songs from my favorite singer/songwriter, I happened upon these two which reference motorcycles.  There is a certain feeling of freedom one gets when riding on a motorcycle.

You choose your topic and go for it.  Tonight, it’s a “free for all”.

Watering Hole: Monday, April 2, 2012 – What’s That Phrase?

Lately, I’ve been hearing a phrase uttered by every Republican that has access to a microphone and the media.  It must be the phrase of the week or the month.  The teabaggers kept shouting this phrase as they protested in front of the Supreme Court this week.  They, along with Senator Pat “Wall Street” “Club for Growth” Toomey were protesting to “protect our freedoms”.  Others were there to support health care for all Americans.  There is no correlation between the two arguments and this is why there is no room for dialogue.

Some key Republican phrases:

  • “Protecting our freedoms” – this is one that is currently popular and is a catch all phrase.  The Republicans are pushing this one even though they wrote, championed, and signed the Patriot Act.
  • “I never supported [fill in the blank]”- this is known as the flip-flopper.  It doesn’t matter that the contradiction is recorded.  They will still deny, deny, and deny.
  • “I misspoke” – this one is used to cover up the lies.  Republicans NEVER accept responsibility.
  • “Job creators” – this one is used as an excuse to tax the 99% while giving tax breaks to the 1%.
  • “I don’t recall” – this one was used to cover up the crimes.

Sounds like all the Republicans are reading from the same notebook.  They are so very boring and predictable.  I don’t understand why the Democrats can’t beat their dupas.

This is our Open Thread.  Add more, if you please. 

Watering Hole – Monday, August 1, 2011 – Philadelphia Freedom

Today is our 30 year wedding anniversary and we will be spending the day in Philadelphia doing the “freedom tour”.

For most of my life, I have lived in the southeastern part of Pennsylvania.  During all these years, I have never seen the Liberty Bell.  With the looming shutdown of our government due to its inability to pay the bills or the closing of government buildings due to the cuts, cuts and more cuts, now could be my last chance to get to Independence square and see some of the artifacts that are part of our nation’s beginning.  It’s anybody’s guess as to what will happen if the US defaults on its debt.  One thing for sure is that government employees would be laid off, seniors would not receive their Social Security checks, veterans would not receive their benefits, and nursing homes could close which would create more job losses.  Basically, more people will be out of work and there will be less money to spend and BUSINESSES WILL SUFFER.  Default is NOT an option.  Our bills must be paid.

This is our open thread.  I won’t be around today as I will be searching for freedom. You will need to Speak Up and do all the chatting.

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The Next Progressive Era

Gar Alperovitz claims that the bombing of Hiroshima was a matter of economics and that the underlying purpose was how to run a global economy that favored American goals while preventing another economic depression.
Alperovitz is Lionel R. Bauman Professor of Political Economy at the University of Maryland. He is one of the founding principals of The Democracy Collaborative. Previously, he was a fellow at King’s College at Cambridge University, a founding fellow of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution and a guest professor at Notre Dame University. He has also served as a legislative director in the US House of Representatives and the US Senate, and as a special assistant at the Department of State.
In an interview with Keane Bhatt at Truthout, Alperovitz states that he believes in “planned trade” where restrictions are placed on imports  so that the US can rebuild its manufacturing base.  He also believes that local non-profit “land trusts” will be a model for achieving “meaningful democracy”.

A land trust is simply a nonprofit corporation or a government agency that owns land, so that when development occurs, the profits of that development accrue to the owner, which in this case is public or nonprofit. And that’s very important in the context of gentrification, because if there’s a housing boom and the prices go up, poor people are kicked out because the prices are too high. So, if the land trust owns the land under the housing, it can stabilize housing costs. They already do this in many parts of the country because they are nonprofit corporations committed to low- and moderate-income housing.

Another example: when a city builds a subway system, land prices go up and the land becomes very valuable around every exit, because it’s a high-traffic area and commercial development is possible. So, who should own that land? If the city gives it away or sells it, then profits are made by the real estate developers. Many, many cities don’t do that now. They own the land and lease it so that they can make the profits from that implicit form of land trust, and pour it back, usually, into support for the mass transit system. That’s conventional now. What’s interesting about these various forms of democratizing ownership is that they’ve spread around the country in the last decade and a half and their numbers have gone from just a handful to hundreds. They answer a problem nothing else can. So, land trust development is an interesting example of what happens when there’s great pain. Traditional answers don’t work, and democratizing ownership in one or another way very often becomes a pattern.

You can read the entire interview here.  It is well worth the time.

Gar Alperovitz’s views offers hope and in this time of uncertainty, we need positive ideas and not more negative, fear-provoking disinformation from both our government and the media.

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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Internet Censorship Coming to Australia

Australia plans to join China in implementing mandatory internet censorship.  The Australian government will not allow internet users to opt out of the national filter, something originally provided in the initial proposal.

Originally outlined as a way to combat child pornography and adult content, this censorship proposal is reported to possibly include sites containing information on euthanasia and anorexia.

Mr Conroy said trials were yet to be carried out, but “we are talking about mandatory blocking, where possible, of illegal material.”

Many groups have come out against the proposal saying it would “unfairly restrict Australians’ access to the web, slow internet speeds and raise the price of internet access.”

EFA board member Colin Jacobs said it would have little effect on illegal internet content, including child pornography, as it would not cover file-sharing networks.

“If the Government would actually come out and say we’re only targeting child pornography it would be a different debate,” he said.

Not everyone is against this proposal.  The Australian Christian Lobby welcomed it saying, “The need to prevent access to illegal hard-core material and child pornography must be placed above the industry’s desire for unfettered access.”

I have read unsubstantiated stories about Rogers (AT&T) and Telus (both in Canada) looking into blocking the internet, but the original story I read is no longer available (and since it contained no links to any sources) and upon further reading, it appears that what Rogers is trying to do is charge extra for long streams of data which tie up the networks. Capitalism being what it is, I cannot complain about that.  Hopefully, there is enough competition in Canada to allow customers to shop elsewhere should they not want to pay for these extra services.

That said, it  is too reminiscent of rumblings here in the US that providers were going to allow their business customers to pay additional revenue so that their sites load faster, which could lead to limited competition if consumers get tired of one site taking forever to load (remember those “World Wide Wait” commercials?)  Each tiny step taken to place limitations on a free internet is a step in the wrong direction.

And should a western country implement any type of censorship, one must ask oneself, how long before it arrives here?

Read up on Net Neutrality and take action.  Do not allow this to ever come to pass, for what you are reading right now, may become nonexistent in the future.

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Just a crack


This is just a little tidbit, a “thinking out loud” open thread.

Today, I was looking at the picture of the Liberty Bell, a symbol of American freedom that is sheltered at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. The crack in the bell made me start to think about the crack in our current national government of laws. What happened to all those freedoms, the ones that the colonial militias risked their lives for? The Liberty Bell has a huge crack in it, not unlike the major crack that currently exists in our Constitution. Oh, the Founding Fathers must be rolling over in their graves. If they were alive today, they would be leading another revolt. Would you pick your musket and join them?

Just saying…