Friday, December 10, 2010

investing in the future

The new Freakanomics book is a great read so far. One interesting connection made is the unintended consequence of the feminist movement on education. Once upon a time the only options for ambitious smart women were nursing and teaching. So those two professions got the cream of the crop. Now that smart ambitious women can compete in higher paying fields, teaching and nursing are left with less qualified applicants. And that has hurt our education. Matt Miller explains why the tax cuts were a terrible compromise, and how much better that money would be used if it went to increase teacher pay. Studies show that teacher quality is the single most important factor in student performance. But why would highly qualified and brilliant women or men put up with the stress of teaching for a wage which will not support a middle-class lifestyle? The average beginning teacher salary in North Carolina is 31,000$ which means that beginning teachers in many places earn less than that.  Instead of putting our resources into recruiting and paying the brightest students into the teaching profession, we are giving tax cuts to megamillionaires. No wonder our education system is becoming third-rate in the world.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

There's a reason for that.

 Daniel Sarewitz cites a poll done in 2009 showing that only 6% of scientists identify themselves as Republican. Daniel sees this as an imbalance to be compared to the relative lack of women, Latinos, and African-Americans in scientific fields. This is interesting because he seems to imply that Republicans are under-represented because they are discriminated against. But there is no political discrimination in science. Scientists are judged on their data, their publications, and the quality of their investigations, and none of those involve disclosing political affiliation. He mentions briefly the possibility that Republican thinking is incompatible with scientific thinking, but dismisses it without further justification. 
But really, that is the best explanation. Republicans hate science because the truth doesn't fit their paradigm. Scientists are not Republicans because science is aboutfacts, evidence,  and analytic thought. Republicans are about manipulating behavior with emotion. The corporate puppet masters have armies of advertising geniuses creating images and generating mob appeal.  No wonder scientists don't identify with Republicans, and Republicans hate science. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

How does religiosity affect society?

Sam Harris in his new book The Moral Landscape makes the interesting observation that the most religious societies score worse on every measure of societal well-being (health, education, for example) than do more secular societies. Why might this be? Is it a true correlation or just a coincidence?

Could it be that societies operating on a basis of reason and rationality produce more benefits than societies that operate according to dictates of the supernatural belief?
Let's look at one example - In the late 1600's just as the modern scientific method was taking shape - Queen Anne of England had about 18 pregnancies producing many children born alive. Queen Anne was at the top of the social system with access to the best her nation could offer.  Not one of her children survived to adulthood.
 I am lower middle class. When my children were born in the latter half of the 20th century, I had life insurance salesmen trying to sell me policies on their lives.  Thanks to the advance of science, my children all survived to adulthood.
I'll take reason and rational thinking, thanks.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Don't ask, Don't tell. Why ask?

The report from the pentagon on how repeal of DADT would affect the troops is all very well and good but - completely unnecessary. We don't do surveys on whether it is good for society to allow people equal civil rights. Their rights already exist - the only thing society can do is take them away. Serving one's country is a civil right, like voting and education. It is criminal and unjust that up until now, gays and lesbians have not been able to serve openly in the military.
We don't ask troops if they feel comfortable serving with blacks, or females, or latinos. They serve with whom they are told to serve and they get each other's back when they need to.
This is an issue that affects our country's security and the whole purpose of defending it. Veterans themselves support eliminating discrimination against gays and lesbians. But even if they didn't, it wouldn't matter. Discrimination is wrong - no matter what your religion, or your granny, or your prejudice says.  

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sarah Palin - Going Rouge

I picked this up at the library thinking it was the book - supposedly written by Sarah P. entitled Going Rogue.. Instead this is a collection of articles written by various analysts and commentators interspersed with some of the more "creative" comments by Mrs. Palin herself. Two main impressions come through. First the breathtaking hypocrisy of the lady. An article by Elstun Lauesen points out that despite Sarah's disdain for all things socialist, she sent out welfare checks of 1,200 dollars to every citizen of Alaska, from the collective energy wealth of the state. I'm sure that was a popular move - giving away free government money to people who didn't work for it. It seems to me that it would make more sense to invest that money in infrastructure or education or technology that would pay off to future generations, but we all know that conservatives don't believe in investing in such things.
The second main impression is that she is - although charismatic and photogenic - a very poor thinker. Her logic and rhetoric are beyond stupid and well into the land of incomprehensible. We get a vague impression of what she is trying to communicate, but careful analysis of her speeches and statements mostly reveal vacuity behind the verbiage.
Comparing her speechifying with that of any past president presents a shocking contrast. The notion that someone so shallow and dense could become the leader of the most nation on the planet is nightmarish. We already tried  folksy, common, and ordinary when we allowed the Supreme Court to install President Bush the second on the throne. It didn't work then either.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Corruption of the Supreme Court

Justice Samuel Alito is highly active in the upper levels of the Republican Party echelon. He has been faithful in attendance at fundraisers and planning council sessions with the agenda of establishing a permanent Republican majority. We know the Supreme Court stopped the vote count in 2000 and seated their candidate as president after a disputed election.The state where the votes were most disputed was the state where their candidate's brother was  governor. This alone should have mandated an especially careful count to avoid even the appearance of bias. The Supreme Court is not supposed to promote a political agenda. We know that Clarance Thomas's wife is highly active in promoting the political agenda of the right-wing republicans via her "Tea Party" group. 
I'm afraid the Supreme Court has been corrupted. These people are on the court for life. The only option is to make sure we have progressive presidents with backbone to nominate the next 3 justices to provide balance against the hard-right corporate agenda that now dominates. Fat Chance. We're screwed.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Three predictions for the next two years

1. The gap between the very rich and Americans will increase. (The very rich are a country unto themselves - not the USA but the United Corporate Entities).

2. Impeachment proceedings against President Obama will commence - will tie up Congress for months to years- and will cost millions and millions of dollars without any clear aims or objectives other than preventing any reform or progress occurring during his administration.

3. More war, more military spending, and more Patriot Act type legislation.

God, I hope I'm wrong.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Republicans kill jobs

A tunnel project in New Jersey, rail projects in Ohio and Wisconsin,  clean energy projects in Maine, and a federal project designed to get people back to work -TANF- are all victims of Republican rage against President Obama and Americans who voted for him. The stated agenda of the Republican party is to make sure that President Obama's administration is as big a failure as President Bush's was. They are killing jobs all over the country in order to destroy him. The rest of us, the American people, are collateral damage.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Go Nancy!

I'm so glad Nancy Pelosi is running for minority leader. The venom and hatred directed toward her is phenomenal, almost unbelievable. Why? Because she is a powerful woman? I don't remember hearing anything like this kind of vicious anger directed at Tom Delay who was one of the most corrupt and unscrupulous Speakers of the House in my memory. They didn't call him "The Hammer" for nothing! This is a phenomenon I have noticed before on the local stage and the national level. Powerful women seem to be very threatening to a certain type of person.
I'm glad she is not letting the haters wear her down. She has been very effective and is one of the most reliable progressive leaders we have. She's not perfect by any means, but she is a heck of a lot more trustworthy than most.

Republicans hate science

Science took a hit for 8 long years. After the 2008 election literate thinking people started breathing a bit easier, as science was once again respected and actual scientists were involved in policy that relates to science. Now this. Just what we didn't need.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Party of fiscal conservatism?

Thanks to Dailykos for this image.

Regulations Help Business

Oddly enough, businesses benefit more from a strict regulatory environment than consumers do. Businesses face an evolutionary dilemma. Lack of regulations allow companies to cut corners and costs and to cheat a little bit here and there. This drives up short-term profits and gives a business an advantage against its competitors. But as consumers lose trust in the marketplace, they stop buying - except for the bare necessities.  This may actually be healthier in the long run for consumers, but it is devastating to the economy. Take  mad-cow disease for example. Lack of regulation allowed the beef industry to use recycled beef products including material from the brains and spinal cords of sick animals, in their feed.  There was little or no enforcement of regulations prohibiting diseased beef from the market place.This lowered feed costs and allowed greater profit. But when consumers began to get sick from the disease, they stopped buying beef. The market for American beef dropped overseas and at home and everyone in the industry suffered losses.
It probably helped the average American consumer because they ate less beef which was good for them, in the long run. Of course the people who died of mad cow disease paid the cost for all of us. A dog eat dog economic environment ends up producing a lot of dead dogs.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

One more prediction

I guarantee you there will be an impeachment. I don't know what it will be about yet. But it will be as long and expensive and as useless as Bill Clinton's almost sex scandal. 
So-called "Zippergate" cost over 6 million dollars for Ken Starr's expenses alone. How can we calculate the cost of all the man-hours involved in those dirty old men listening ( open-mouthed, saliva leaking from the corners) to young Monica recount every sordid detail in front of them all gathered together. How can we calculate the cost of Clinton's being distracted from dealing with Al Qaeda when they were preparing for the "Big One". 

I don't know what they will find or invent to persecute President Obama for. But it will be something - guaranteed. 

The bloodbath

For two more years the red tide will work to cement in place their goal of a permanent Republican majority. The work has been proceeding since Reagan's tenure as they stacked the Supreme Court, dismantled protections for fair access to power, consolidated their hold on media, and gave away billions in tax cuts and outright gifts to the right-wing billionaires. Notice that there was one category of Americans who got richer while 99.9% of us bled out. The wealthiest of the rich - if they can't buy  political office outright, can certainly buy politicians who repay the favor by dispersing tax cuts and TARP funds (Bush administration) and favorable" business" environment, meaning no regulations or oversight at all.
I predict that the next two years will see a double dip into recession or outright depression, more war escalation, and loss of more protections against insurance companies, crooked financial companies, and tainted consumer goods. Taxes for the rich will go down even more. The estate tax will be eliminated. Consequently public services will decline, and the middle class will end up paying more for less in all essential areas, such as housing, food, transportation, and education.
Brilliant strategy because everyone will blame President Obama.  Like a drunk passenger who grabs the wheel while you are driving, and runs the car into a tree - and then says "I told you that you would wreck!".

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Stewart tops Beck!!!!

Hooray for sanity and moderation!! And a good sense of humor. All liberal values, of course. The Stewart rally was estimated at over 200,000 - more than double the attendance at Beck's grandiose speech on MLK day  from the steps of the Lincoln memorial.
The signs were great and the mood was reasonable and calm. Calm reasonable analysis is definitely the best way to solve problems and live in peace. The problem is, we humans have evolved to be motivated by emotions rather than reason. Advertisers know how to trigger our deep emotional responses. They use images rather than ideas, soundbites rather than analysis. Our ability to reason and analyse is a recent overlay of the emotional reaction centers of the brain. Emotional reactions trigger fast decisive action while analysis tends to make us more cautious. Emotional reactions are more useful to advertisers and politicians who wish to manipulate our behavior.
The lesson? Be ware of messages that make us feel scared, or angry. It's probably designed to elicit actions that benefit someone else at our expense.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

Have you heard of Donald Henderson? How about Donald Trump?

Two white males named Donald, more or less the same generation. Everyone has heard of the second man. He is famous for being rich, tacky, and not very admirable in any way.
What do you know about Donald Henderson? Did you know he has saved millions of lives? No, he doesn't bomb or picket abortion clinics. His work saved real breathing human beings with names and lovers and children, and dreams for the future. He battled the most devastating scourge of humanity, placing himself at constant risk, in dangerous parts of the planet. He didn't do this alone. Unlike Mr. Trump, he worked with many other people, for small pay, no fame, and few comforts, to save humans from a foe that literally flays people alive.
Have you ever heard of smallpox?
There's a book out called "The Demon in the Freezer" by Richard Preston.  It's worth reading.
It might make you think about the kind of people we celebrate in this country, and why.

One trillion dollars and counting...

That is how much the (official appropriations) wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost us - on the books - so far. That doesn't take into account the medical costs, the loss of labor, the financial toll paid by families, and the opportunity costs.  Suppose we had invested one tenth of that amount in 1975 -when the OPEC oil countries began to exert their power and control the flow of oil. Suppose 100 billion dollars had been set aside for conversion to a sustainable economy based on renewable non-polluting resources.
Conservatives will say "it can't be done." That's what they always say. And then progressive leaders go ahead and get it done. Too bad we didn't have progressive leaders in the 80's when we could have avoided all this oil-fueled warfare.
I hope for our children's sake, we get some real progressive leaders soon.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The fastest and cheapest way to save the planet

Every expert (no - not you Dick Cheney) tells us that energy conservation is the fastest and cheapest way to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels. Yet energy efficiency research garners a tiny fraction of the budget for our energy policy. Nuclear energy, requiring massive investment, and posing many dangers receives over half the energy budget. Why is that?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What happened to all that enlightenment?

The 1700's saw the birth of the United States of America. It was the age of enlightenment, the age of reason. People were religious, some of them, and others were not so much (Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson for example). But all agreed that the US should NOT be a theocracy, that religion should be separated from government by a "wall of separation." (Thomas Jefferson's words).
Now this yahoo, this tea-party fringe nut Ken Buck from Colorado comes right out in public and says that he wants the government to be a religious government - or religion to be a part of government or something. What the heck does that mean?  Whose religion does he choose for us? We could have a Mormon president some day. Is Ken Buck OK with Morman law for us all? I'm not!! I don't care what they believe as long as it isn't in the laws which govern my life. Why do these people want to undo all the progress human civilization has made in the past thousand years? Why?Why? It really wasn't better when   you had to attend  church or be fined, or when no one could get a divorce, or people were being burned at the stake because they were Catholic, or Protestant, or heretic in another way.  It's really better now.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Big Government jackboots or We the People?

The right-wing likes to portray the US government as comprising jack-booted thugs coming to "help" and make a mess of everything.
But as Abraham Lincoln reminded us, American government was unique when it was created and defined by the Constitution. It is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. A list of accomplishments credited to the US government, paid for by US taxpayers includes winning WWI and WWII, developing nuclear energy from theory to bomb, creating the interstate highway system that allowed for unprecedented business growth and opportunity, putting the first human on the moon, eradicating smallpox, and decoding the human genome.
It's downright unpatriotic to be scornful of what Americans working together for the general welfare can do. How many people really want to keep an extra 50$ a month in taxes, but have to go out and work  on maintaining the road in front of their house when potholes develop? Do you really want to keep an extra hundred dollars a month and watch your elderly relatives eat catfood, or have to come live with you to survive?
What would life be like today without satellites, the internet, and all the amazing technology derived from government funded research?
The right-wingers are very very good at directing the dialog using images and clever soundbites to get in power. It's all bologna - meaningless words that are meant to trigger emotional responses, and kill critical thinking.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Separation of Church and State?

Thomas Jefferson is one of those founding fathers who make conservatives profoundly uneasy. He was adamantly opposed to religious bigotry and outspoken in  support of the wall of separation between church and state. He had three accomplishments engraved on his epitaph. It reads as follows"Here was buried Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of American Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and father of the University of Virginia."  
The Statute for Religious  Freedom is summed up in the words "...  but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of Religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities."
 No wonder the Texas conservatives who brought us George W. Bush want to write him out of our history.

The Tea Party and Social Darwinism

Tea Party philosophy seems to be that people  are unsuccessful because they are lazy, unfit, and contribute nothing to society. Therefore society owes them nothing and if they die, tough luck. This is social darwinism. It has nothing to do with the theory of evolution. Yet, how many "Teapartiers" will acknowledge that they believe in social darwinism? I bet most of them would call themselves Christians and claim to follow the teachings of Christ - who advocated socialism in its purest form.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Immigrant culture vs American culture

Research from the Centers for Disease Control indicate that people in the US with a Latino background live longer than any other ethnic group, despite having lower levels of education and income, and relatively high levels of diabetes and obesity. Why?
A couple of hypotheses come to mind. It may be that just the healthiest subset of Latinos tend to migrate away from home in search of opportunity. It may be that Latinos with a history of unregulated food and drink, poor public health care systems, and poor sanitation, have stronger immune systems - the survivors at least. There is some evidence that our overly sanitized and sterile environment may not be the best environment for our immune systems which have evolved to deal with higher levels of  germs and parasites.
My guess is that Latino culture in general is a much healthier way to live. Latinos tend to have a lifestyle that resembles pre-WWII life in the US. They eat more meals together at home with the whole family. The main meal in Mexico is what we would call lunch, and people take off from work to go home and eat together. The food is fresh from the market, fruits and vegetables all year round. And people live together, many generations in one house because most people are too poor to move out and live separately. Their year is punctuated by many festivals and excuses for big parties. They value family, while modern American culture values things.
I despise American culture as represented by television. TV commercials take up nearly half of broadcast time and many programs are thinly disguised advertisements. Think Glen Beck preaching economic doom and shilling for sleazy gold purveyors. I hate commercials where things are worshiped like precious treasures while family members are ignored.
The best thing about the current Latino immigration may be the culture they bring with them. Let's hope they don't become contaminated with our shallow brand of consumerism instead.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Daffy Duck gets it!

We always had our secret suspicions that the right-wing nuts are really cartoon characters. Really, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh and now Beck? They are caricatures of themselves. And now Glen Beck has found his true calling.....

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Elephant in the corner

I just watched Meet the Press - or as much of it as I could stand. All the talk is about the size of government, and how tax cuts will create jobs (wait, haven't they tried that already? 10 years ago?) and how the deficit is so dangerous. NOT ONE single person even made a mention of the cost of two wars. Or did they? Did I miss it while trying not to puke with anger?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The perfect hypocrite- Ken Cuccinelli

Running on the Republican party platform of small government, fewer intrusive regulations, and strict constitutional interpretations, he also believes that abortion clinics should have more regulations, that the government should spend hundreds of thousands of dollars overseeing science and prosecuting scientists whose work is threatening to business, and  that the constitutional mandate to promote the general welfare means nothing.
How is it that someone who professes to believe in individual freedoms, can support laws such as the infamous Arizona immigration laws requiring every person to have proof of citizenship on them at all times? How can someone believing in small government say that personal sexual preferences should be monitored and regulated by the government? How can he justify forcing women to endure unwanted pregnancies? And does he really believe that elected politicians are best qualified to evaluate scientific research? The clear pattern is that government regulations and control of private lives are fine and even desirable as long as they support the "conservative" agenda. Doesn't he know that the founders were political liberals?
What a bloody hypocrite. If the second amendment means that no local government anywhere can regulate guns in any manner (despite the clear mandate for regulation in the introductory clause) then surely the preamble of the constitution means that the federal government CAN in fact collect taxes to promote the general welfare.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Ayn Rand capitalism in action

A man in Tennessee watched his house burn to the ground and his pets die while firefighters stood by refusing to act. Why? He hadn't paid his 75$ 'subscription fee'.
This is Ayn Rand capitalism exemplified. No body owes you nothin'. You can sink or swim, pay to play, it's all about the cash in hand.  This is the world the tea-party wants to create.
Back when the Mafia was doing such things, we called it extortion and said it was bad.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Collective intelligence

Collective intelligence, group think, cooperative learning - what ever you call it really does work. If we put our resources, and our brains together to solve problems, we all live better.
Unfortunately, under conditions of war and crisis, there are always a few people who can become fabulously well off in comparison to the rest of us. And studies show that we humans would rather be better off than our neighbors, even if it means doing less well in the long run. When those people get in positions of power, we end up with war and crises. (Yes Dick Cheney, this means you.)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Is it conservative to wait and see?

Conservatives are famous for disliking change. The slogan sent round on fb and twitter and other such progressive media went something along the lines of " you keep the change, I'll keep my guns". So why are they so comfortable with global climate change?  Is it because these ideas arise from science? Science has a well-known liberal bias. It's all about learning new things, and different ways of thinking.
That must scare them even more than the prospect of destroying civilization with our unsustainable use of rapidly depleting fossil fuels.
How weird.

There but for the grace of God....

One important difference between  conservatives and liberals is the recognition (or lack thereof) of randomness.
Conservatives have a need to feel in control, and therefore they believe that everything good that happens to them is a result of their actions, their virtue, and strength of character. They also believe that bad things happen to other people because those other people are lazy, shiftless, and choose their misfortune.
Liberals tend to have the attitude that bad things happen to anyone and we all may suffer from events beyond our control. So liberals are OK with the idea of helping others, and sharing the fruits of their own good fortune.
The evidence is strong that randomness plays a huge factor in our lives. None of us can control the kind of home into which we are born, the kind of parents we have, or the genetics we inherited.
Sure some people, by virtue of random good luck, can overcome difficulties to become enormously successful. But for every Oprah, there are millions of people who are just as hard-working as she who didn't get the lucky breaks she did.
This article about why Neanderthals went extinct illustrates this idea.  We like to believe that modern humans outcompeted Neanderthal humans because we are naturally smarter and better suited to survive. Well, maybe so, but pure luck also played a huge role. It always does. Even Bill Gates acknowledges that he was fortunate in having rare access to computer technology when he was a young kid. The amazing success of Microsoft was due to his hard work, his intelligence, and quite a few lucky breaks.
We need to recognize that luck and randomness affect all of us. But one thing that can improve the odds for all of us is working together. Yes it means some people  have to give up a part of the vast fortunes they might earn or inherit. But ultimately, the progressive motto " A rising tide floats all boats" is true. When more people have the opportunity to develop their gifts and talents, we all benefit.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Government programs can be great or awful. Just like private programs.

The mantra from the right-wing is that government is always bad. Ronald Reagan was famous for saying that quote about the scariest words - I'm from the government and I'm here to help you.
That's a funny line. But it don't mean squat! Just because it's funny doesn't mean it's true!
When catastrophes hit people really do want the government to help. But no one wants to pay for it. And especially no one wants to pay if someone else is likely to benefit.
But government programs, if run by competent honest hard-working men and women are far far more efficient and effective than a for-profit program. And it turns out that President Obama's stimulus program is an example.

Who's that funny man behind the curtain?

I wonder if teapartiers ever ask themselves why powerful interests like these are bankrolling the "movement".  Do they think Fox "News" is really just reporting the news in a fair and balanced way? Doesn't it occur to the average Joe the Plumber type that he really isn't going to benefit from laws that allow him to keep an extra 2,000 dollars in taxes, yet take away his safety net in case he gets sick, old, injured, or can't find work? Would those people support the teaparty movement if they knew it was just another name for social Darwinism?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Scapegoats and red herrings

When times get hard we humans look for someone to blame. The natural tendency is to blame someone less powerful than you, some one you can hurt without consequences to yourself. The classic story is when little Johnny gets hit by his father, he goes and hits his little brother. He knows that he can't hurt his father who caused his frustration and pain, so he makes himself feel better by becoming like his oppressor.
Americans are hurting economically, we are struggling, and we see our country failing, declining. We don't dare confront those who are responsible for its decline. We are afraid to turn off the television, afraid to examine what's happening, afraid to confront the corporations that run our government.
We are told by Fox news and by every teaparty demagogue to blame the foreigners, the brown people, the ones who are different from us. It's all their fault. If they would just go away,  (who cares what happens to them or their children), we would be happy again.
How convenient for the corporate masters. We completely overlook the fact that they, the richest of the rich are siphoning off the vast majority of all the wealth we produce. They tell us to blame the poorest of the poor, the voiceless, the powerless. We can vent our frustrations on the workers who clean our toilets, and build our houses and grow our food and pay for our safety net. That makes us feel better and doesn't threaten the fat and comfortable class that is the only group to prosper during the past decade.

What's the difference between an entitlement and a paid for benefit?

Social Security is one of the most successful programs in human history. It has accomplished the goal of providing for Seniors, disabled people, and widows and orphans, to give them a chance at a decent life.
We pay for it. Our parents paid for it. Many people pay into it all of their working lives and die without collecting a penny from it. It's called insurance. That's the way insurance works. It's better than for-profit insurance because none of the money goes to line the pockets of rich corrupt CEO's who then use their profits to buy politicians. It's also more secure than private insurance because it is backed by the full faith and guarantee of the United States of America. j
Unless the Republicans get back in power. Then it magically turns into an " entitlement". Evidently an entitlement is some sort of giveaway that we can't really afford.
Republicans are promising that we who are depending on Social Security now will still be OK but our children and grandchildren will have to fend for themselves, because this country can't afford to promise them a basic safety net.
But if our children and grandchildren aren't paying into S.S., where will the money for our benefits come from?
I guess deficits are OK if Republicans create them.

The Bush years - Now the sequel?

Oh God. From the same crew that brought us two wars, a decaying infrastructure, a near disastrous global economic crisis, and the destruction of the American dream, we now have this project.
Haven't you all done enough? Will you not be satisfied until we are a completely failed state?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Congress deserves respect (hahahahaha)

Evidently Republicans and even some Democrats think Steven Colbert's testimony before congress was some kind of sacrilege - desecration of  hallowed ground or something. He testified before a body including Joe Wilson who shouted "you lie" while the president of the United States was speaking to that august body. Also present were Michelle Bachman who doesn't believe in evolution,  thinks the (constitutionally mandated) census is a socialist plot, and Virginia Foxx who is noted for crazy talk such as announcing that Barack Obama wants to put your grandparents to death.
I think its entirely appropriate for a comedian to testify in front of these clowns.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What can tax cuts do for the economy?

When middle class people get tax breaks, they spend the money buying food, cars, houses. When the super-rich  get tax breaks, they buy politicians.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Who will draw the bigger crowd?

With all the hype and free advertising that Glen Beck had, his crowd numbers for his infamous MLK day rally were most likely significantly less than 100,000.
Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert are having a rally and  over 100,000 people have signed up to be there on October 30th
They are comedians! Of course Glen Beck is a comedian too, but it's kind of a secret.... from his followers at least.
I can't wait to see what happens.

Who likes dead babies?

What kind of a lowlife evil monster could vote against a bill that protects newborns? Well, Virginia Foxx and 63 of the craziest Republicans, evidently.

Arming the Saudis -

This is a big mistake I fear. But they have us by the short hairs. If we didn't need their oil we could let that whole region rot in their own fundamentalism and ignorance.
But at least we are getting some of our own oil  money back from this sale.

The inmates may soon be running the institution.

Bill Maher is a scream. But this lady will make us all scream if she gets a chance to actually exercise power. Have the people in Delaware been taken over by pod people?

Republicans are brilliant at getting things NOT done.

Republicans in congress have done it again. When it comes to limiting human rights they are peerless. Because they couldn't call all the shots on this bill they decided to hold hostage all the men and women who are shedding blood in defense of freedom. But evidently the freedom to love whom we choose is not defensible according to Republicans.

Financial advice

Theres an old story about Rockefeller in 1929, who was getting his shoes shined on the street. When the shoeshine boy advised him to buy certain stocks, Rockefeller called his broker and told him "SELL". His thinking was that when everyone is getting on board to buy stocks, the bubble is about to burst. Of course he was correct and the market crashed shortly thereafter. According to this article, we should be buying stocks now. But the best time would have been right after Obama's inauguration because since he has been in office the market has experienced a 2,700 point Obama Rally.
Why haven't we heard more about this? We sure as heck heard plenty about the "Obama Crash" from right-wingnuts in the first 2 months after he took office.

Lies, damned lies, and Republicans.

They just keep pumping this garbage out and hope that we are too lazy to examine it.

Friday, September 24, 2010

An American Hero

Steven Colbert is the bravest man in journalism. I couldn't believe my ears and eyes when I saw what he did to the most powerful man in the world at the 2006 White House Correspondent's  dinner. He was absolutely brilliant and skewered President Bush to his face! I admired him for going to Iraq to entertain the troops in 2009 when it wasn't exactly a walk on the beach or picnic in the park. And now he is giving Congress hell in his inimitable way. GO STEVEN!

Thursday, September 23, 2010


The time for solar energy is now! No more waffling, no more stalling, no more BS!. Yeah we know the oil companies would rather spend billions drilling in dangerous locations like thousands of feet under under parts of the ocean that produce our food. Yeah we know that sunlight can't be metered and charged for. Tough cookies for all you oil billionaires. You have had it pretty sweet for the past 50 years or more. Your time is over, so take your stinking yachts and get the hell out of our way.

Tea Party for billionaires

Why are these two billionaires funding the so-called "tea party" movement? Can it be they really want to bring accountability back to government? Do they really want to return power to the people?  Do you believe in the Easter Bunny too?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hell freezes wait, that can't be right.

Even the hard-right wing publication the National Post is beginning to understand the dangers of climate change deniers. In this article Jonathan Kay points out that  defending anti-science destroys the credibility of the entire conservative movement. Of course you could also say that Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman, Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, and all the other looney tunes characters have somewhat to do with that too.

Who deserves the credit?

We heard such an uproar from the pundits about the oil well being Obama's "Katrina" - despite the fact that there was no similarity between the two disasters aside from location. It was evidently Obama's fault that the well blew, his fault that the industry was corrupt, and his fault that the industry - with all the equipment and expertise - couldn't shut the damn thing up.
Well now the well is officially dead and where are the congratulations?
Since Obama got all the blame, doesn't he deserve at least part of the credit? He didn't put a lame incompetent crony in charge ('member Brownie?). No he called in all the smartest brains we have, put them to work, and solved the frigging problem in pretty much jig time. And he got BP to pony up and kiss a** pretty quick too.
Of course there was that idiot who apologized to BP (!!!!). Wasn't his name Joe Barton? A Republican too. Surprise, surprise.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Theopolitical Right

OK, this is a good post. But I am totally going to appropriate his phrase the theopolitical right. It's perfect!

Death and Taxes

Taxes, in feudal times, were a way to redistribute wealth from the poor to the rich. The lords and ladies in their magnificent castles lived off the sweat and blood of the peasants who worked their fields and fought their wars.
Death taxes meant that a peasant who died, represented a loss to the lord. The surviving families had to pay a cow or a pig  (heriot) in order to recompense the lord for his loss. (sounds like some things never change)

This is different from an estate tax. Ever since the beginning of our constitutionally designed government, an estate tax has been a way of redistributing wealth from those who have profited the most from our society, to those who  are struggling. A constitutionally ordained Robin Hood tax, if you will. The estate tax was a part of our political history from before the creation of our constitution, its most eminent proponent being Thomas Paine who argued persuasively for it in his pamphlet  Agrarian Justice.
There are two main camps in the estate tax controversy now. The party opposed comprises heirs to large fortunes which they did not create, and are opposed to sharing.
The party in support comprises  many mega wealthy individuals who actually created their own wealth, and understand that they owe a debt to the society that allowed them a chance to succeed.

The really sad thing is to see so many of us peasants supporting the right of the super-rich to keep their unearned money. We are still dying in their wars, working in their factories for less and less pay, cleaning their houses, and trying to survive in a crumbling society that cannot provide our children with a decent education, or adequate nutrition, or basic health care.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Tudor age

The TV series about the Tudors, who ruled England during the 16th century is remarkably accurate in many details. Not all of them, but close enough. I was inspired by the mini-series to read the book by the same name The Tudors; the complete story of England's most notorious dynasty written by G.J. Meyers.
It's an amazingly gripping history, with an analysis of the Protestant reformation and all the politics involved in the religious upheavals. One of the amazing parallels between the Tudor age and our own is the use and common acceptance of torture, as an acceptable and even necessary evil. Another parallel is the rise in dreadful poverty, partly as a result of the dissolution of the monasteries, partly as a result of a change in perception. The old order had an ethic that poor people are beloved of God, and it was the duty of every Christian to give to the poor and take care of the needy. During the Tudor age, the idea developed that poor people are unworthy and being poor was evidence of personal failure or character deficiency. It sounds like the meme spread by Ayn Rand, and nurtured Fox 'news' propagandists and their wealthy owners. In the Tudor age this led to economic misery and disfunction. Sound familiar?
This report from the Joint Economic Committee of Congress shows that the top 10% of Americans brought in nearly half of all the income earned in 2008. And their taxes went down. Remember what happened after that? When Richard Burr made a frantic call to his wife, telling her to pull all their money from the ATM before the system collapsed? This whole Tea Party BS is destroying us all. And the pathetic pawns in their stupid costumes are too blind to see how they are being manipulated.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Let's throw more people into desperate poverty!

John Boehner - the brilliant orange hope of the Republican party wants to raise the age at which we can start to draw on the Social Security insurance into which we have paid our entire working lives. Boehner, also noted for his hard-partying lifestyle  thinks we can pay for Afghanistan by denying old people benefits until they are 70? Hasn't he heard there is a recession on? I know so many people who have begun reluctantly drawing reduced benefits because they can't find a job! Old people are NOT WANTED in the workforce! Whenever someone retires and starts drawing the Social Security money (which he or she has earned btw) a job opens up for a younger person, who likely is trying to support a growing family.
Boehner is a jerk. I think it's time for him to get a job - maybe fast-food or something. He needs an education in reality.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Newt Gingrich - authentically insane

We know Newt Gingrich as the infamous author of the gopac memo entitled "Language: a key mechanism of control." We know Newt loves to use emotionally charged language to engage the blind reaction centers of the brain, and shut off the rational analytic sections that actually allow us to think and reason.
We know that Newt wants to control us and manipulate us into electing the permanent Republican majority that is the wet dream of every Republican billionaire since Reagan left office.
But his latest attempts to create memes are so screwy that even the mindless zombies parroting Fox "news" talking points will have difficulty repeating them with a straight face. Obama has a "Kenyan" anti-colonial world view? Really? What the hell is that? Will any of the mindless masses bother to ask? Is there something great about having a colonial world view? Is that what underlies all the deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan? Is Newt admitting that the reason our children, and theirs are dying by the thousands, is so the US can subjugate those countries and take their resources?
Maybe he has totally gone over the edge and is just raving, spewing random nonsense. Or maybe he figures that's what is required in order to  succeed  in today's Republican party.

What profit a man who gains the world if he loses his soul?

Some things are not suited to capitalism and the profit incentive. Health care is one of these things. The profit motive causes many expensive, unnecessary, and often dangerous treatments to be chosen over care that might be simpler and more effective. This New York Times editorial explains part of the reason that health care costs are driving this country into bankruptcy.  What is really needed is extensive science-based research into the most effective treatments. Patient education - such as the type of end-of-life counseling that was shot down by the "death panel' demagogues- is also very important.
The current health care industry is set up to make patients feel intimidated and terrified enough to submit humbly to all the painful and expensive procedures that pay physicians and hospitals most handsomely. Granted, many of those procedures are prescribed to avert potential lawsuits. The malpractice industry is another industry that profits from the current system that pits patient well-being against making money.
It's too darn bad that President Obama did not defend single-payer as the best option for health care reform. I am convinced that health care falls clearly under the constitutional mandate to "provide for the general welfare."

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The good old days when coathangers were all you needed.

All the evidence shows that limiting access to safe legal abortions does not reduce the incidence of abortions. It only increases death and injury to desperate women who must resort to back alley abortions, or self-induced "remedies". Free and open access to safe effective birth control, social support systems, and extensive education efforts are the way to reduce abortion. But there will always be some people who need  safe legal access, whether for health reasons, or other personal reasons. Wealthy upper-class  women have always been able to get decent care. It's the poor who suffer, as always.

How ironic that the same people who oppose reproductive freedom on the grounds that it destroys life, are the same people who pride themselves on supporting war.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


The Iranian woman who was recently flogged 99 times is still sentenced to die by stoning.  What a savage barbaric country. That's what you get when you allow religion to interfere with government.

We must be willing to change.

Atul Gawande is one of the best writers in the medical field. He has written 3 books so far and published articles such as this one in the New Yorker magazine. His second book, entitled  Better  is an analysis of how excellence is achieved in medical practice, and conversely what interferes with highest quality practice. One thought that comes to mind when I read this book is how obscene our culture is, that we reward vicious clowns and buffoons such as Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck with boundless wealth and attention. Yet how many people have ever heard the name of Pankaj Bhatnagar, who is engaged in the exhausting and endless war to eliminate polio from the planet?
In a nutshell here is Gawande's prescription for excellence.
1. Ask unscripted questions. (hear that Fox "news"? )
2. Don't complain.
3 Count something. (in other words generate actual data)
4. Write something. Share your information, your ideas. This is what makes science such a powerful force for improving human lives.
5. Change. Be willing to give up your biases, alter your behavior. Don't be afraid to experiment.
It's a very good book. He is an excellent writer and thinker. I recommend it.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Meet your real rulers

Imagine one hundred people and one hundred dollars. Every year one of those people gets 27 dollars to spend. The other 99 people must divide 73 dollars among them to live on. That is roughly the picture of the overall distribution of income in 2007 as shown in the report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. I suspect the divide has grown even wider in the past 3 years. This concentration of wealth and power in a few families presents the greatest danger that our democracy has faced since the great depression.
That one percent, or more realistically, the one tenth of a percent who have seen their wealth grow at an astronomical rate in the past decade, are the real government of our country. We never elected them, we never see what they are doing, but they are controlling our lives behind the scenes. Thomas Paine told us that wealth is often the presumptive evidence of dishonesty.
It's time to redistribute that wealth. There is nothing wrong with taxing the people who have benefited the most from living in America.

What can a country do with 3 trillion dollars?

We have spent over 3 trillion dollars on the war in Iraq so far.

We have spent over 3 trillion dollars to invade and occupy a country on the other side of the planet in order to gain control of its oilfields. The human cost to us has been over 4 thousand dead, over 30,000 severely injured and countless family tragedies. The human cost to the Iraqi's has been estimated at anywhere from 95,000 dead to over half a billion dead.
If we were to invest 3 trillion dollars in research and development of alternate, sustainable, and clean energy sources.....
Can you imagine?
No more worries about global climate change.
No more worries about mining accidents or oil well blowouts.
No more worries about our ancient energy grid collapsing or being attacked by terrorists.
All of the countries who are powerful players on the world stage just because they have oil (Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Russia, etc) would lose their influence over our government.
Iran would have no justifiable reason to develop nuclear power because our solar technology would make nuclear power obsolete.
We would lead the world in clean energy and become unbelievably wealthy by exporting our technology to the rest of the world.
No more deaths from war over oil.
Wow. Just imagine it.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Which do we like more, feeding people or killing them?

You might think that we put our money where our values lie. In that case we seem to like killing people more than feeding them. According to this Washington Post article we have invested over 3 trillion dollars in showing off George W. Bush's manhood to the rest of the world. The bulk of the money was spent in Iraq which of course had not threatened us in any way. Mr. Bush's explanation (besides the utterly bogus WMD theme) was that " he tried to kill my daddy" . 
The social security deficit is projected to be 41 billion dollars this year. According to my calculations ( check me on this if you like) we could run this deficit for over 73 years before we approach the cost of the Iraq war. 
It seems that Americans are OK with preserving the wealth of the very rich, OK with spending unimaginable fortunes on war, but not OK with caring for the elderly and sick. 
What does that say about us? Are we really that mean, or are we just hypnotized by the flow of propaganda emanating from the cleavage baring bleached blonde Fox news pundits? 

Reagan proved deficits don't matter.

So the big hoorah about the national debt is trending toward taking the food out of old people's mouths. Because after all Social Security is "a cow with 310 million tits". Never mind that it is the most successful insurance program in our history and we and our parents, and our grandparents have paid in to it for our entire lives. Now that financial solvency seems to matter (Dick Cheney and Reagan  nothwithstanding) we must throw the old and weak among us to the wolves. Where was Alan Simpson when Bush was starting two wars and cutting taxes? Does he remember per chance, that it was the previous administration that pushed this rock off the mountain? It was President Bush who took over an economy running well into the black for the first time in who knows how long, and kicked off the policies that may yet lead us into the great economic collapse of the 21st century. The freaks in the current Republican party are just dying to name this the Obama recession. And if people don't turn off their televisions and start using their brains again, it just might work. George Orwell was more prescient than he knew perhaps.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Those dern "socialists"

Theirs is  a small country, a tiny homogeneous population, and a commitment to social justice.  Their  North Sea oil wealth  is used to support their social programs, making tiny, cold, Norway at the very top of the list of countries in terms of health, education, and welfare. They do  have a strong capitalist ethic but realize that human capital is the best investment. Being a tiny island nation, they are truly conservative with their resources. And they are leaders in the development of alternative sustainable energy. Yay Norway!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

What will it take to get us off fossil fuels?

There are so many reasons to kick our addiction to fossil fuels that it's hard to figure out why we Americans are so lackadaisical about solving the problem. Peak oil will bring about a profound change in the way we live. By many accounts we have crossed the line already. The fact that we are fighting wars, and drilling in extreme and dangerous environments supports that contention. Will we allow our civilization to be destroyed by greedy oil barons? I'm afraid it's entirely too possible.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Stem cell research blocked again?

A stem cell is not an embryo and an embryo is not a person. Instead of protecting the rights of microscopic cells, why don't we guarantee that every child who breaths air, and has a brain which can think and feel, and a stomach to fill, has access to the health care, education, and resources needed to grow a strong healthy adult?
 Let's get our priorities straight!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Republicans are the terrorists!

Could it be? Let's follow the chain of evidence.
  Fox news is funded by Saudi backers.  The wealthy Saudi prince Alalweed bin Talal pretty much owns Fox media corp. The 9/11 hijackers were Saudi and Al Qaeda itself is a branch of the Saudi state religion.  Fox news tirelessly shills for the Republican party ( I don't need to put a citation here, do I?, you know it's true). Ergo the Republican party is supported by the Saudis, who attacked us. Doesn't that make the Republican party the party that supports terrorism and is trying to destroy the American way of life?
How is it that all the accusations of "un-American" and treason seems to come from the hard-line right wing when they are the ones who can be most closely tied to terrorists? It's all straight out of the book "1984" if you ask me. White is black, right is left, and bad is good. 2 plus 2 equals 4 if you say it loudly and often. That's the job of Fox "news". To say it loudly and often. Poor zombie Americans. We are bespelled by the channel with the blond bimbo "pundits" the glitzy sets, and the Muslim masters.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tribal Animals

The bumper stickers we plaster on our cars are tribal insignia. Have you ever seen a bumper sticker promoting a political candidate whom you abhor and felt a reasonless rage build up inside of you? I have. I feel an instinctive rush of enmity toward those people while knowing that they probably are decent humans in spite of their obvious ignorance. We all need to belong somewhere. Our churches are one kind of tribal affiliation. For some fundamentalist groups, it is the only tribe they claim. Any other group membership would be treason for them. For teenagers, it may be the goth look that they cultivate, in order to proclaim their membership in the disaffected youth tribe. Tribalism was adaptive for early humans. It became maladaptive when some groups learned to work together to achieve common goals. A focused united nation can almost always overcome a cluster of tribes if  they really try. Think of the Roman empire, the Norman conquest, or the Spanish conquest of Latin America. The danger in the US now is that some people ( you know who you are) are stirring up tribal passions, destroying us as a united people. They are creating scapegoats on whom to place all the blame for everything wrong in the world today.  They are doing this in order to grab the reins of power, certainly.  Homosexuals are not such great scapegoats any more because too many of us cherish the gay members of our family and friends. They belong to our tribe. But persons of a different color still work as scapegoats in the minds of the ones who play the game of divide and conquer. It's not so acceptable to use African-Americans as scapegoats now, but it seems to be just dandy to use Latin appearing people. Or people who are Muslim.
It's too bad. I hate to see our once great melting pot country turned into a petty tribal conglomerate of warring groups.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Religious freedom in America

It appears that the Republican party believes that religious worship should be controlled by the government. For some reason, certain people don't have the right to build a place of worship on their own private property, and the government gets to decide who those people are. What an odd platform for the Republicans to be supporting.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

When was Social Security invented?

How many people know that Social Security was invented by that oft-quoted founding father Thomas Paine? Yep, the very same Thomas Paine who is used by the Teapartiers to justify their conservative small government rhetoric. In fact Thomas Paine strongly supported socialistic ideals. Specifically in his pamphlet Agrarian Justice he advocated giving every citizen a significant sum of money as soon as they reach the age of 21. This is to compensate them for the loss of their natural heritage, taken by capitalist society. He also advocated that every person reaching the age of 50 should receive an annual pension. How is this to be paid? Guess who also invented the estate tax?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The biggest danger to democracy

It's the rapidly increasing disparity between the wealthy and the rest of us. The problem comes about when one class of people have so much disposable money they can afford to use it to purchase government. When they do this, they create  policies that allow them to  keep getting richer and richer, while neglecting policy that promotes the general welfare. It's a positive feedback death spiral.  The best government that money can buy is crap. We have seen this process really get rolling ever since Ronald Reagan  acted as president. By now, we may have passed the tipping point.  Money controls Washington with such a fierce grip, that we may be doomed to devolve into  a corrupt unstable state. Eventually the leaders will, using the excuse of security, overthrow all pretense of democratic ideals. We have certainly seen the first steps toward this in the Patriot Act.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The love of money is the root of all evil. (Timothy 6:10)

It's way too easy to get discouraged by the way things are headed, but I am going to make more of an effort to keep up these posts. It's a way of doing something, better than nothing. 

So it's impossible to escape the current Republican meme that money is good, keeping money is the only thing that matters, and "sharing the wealth" is such a terrible idea. I am fascinated that the same tribe propagating this message purports to believe in the teachings of Jesus, who was a socialist if ever there was one. The sermon on the mount specifically exhorts us to avoid storing up treasures on Earth, and to give our coats to anyone who needs them. Jesus told his followers that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter Heaven. The only record of Jesus speaking about taxes is when he said one should render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. In other words, pay your taxes! After Jesus' death his followers lived a purely socialist lifestyle where "No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had." (Acts 4:32)

So how can the Republicans reconcile the pure greed espoused by their platform with the teachings of the man they claim to follow? 

This same tribe also loves to point to the founding fathers to justify their militant libertarianism and conservatism. I'll post more on that absurdity in the next day or so.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Now what are we going to do about it?

OK, so it's important to verify information that appears incredibly obvious. Science can take nothing at face value, which is what makes science a unique discipline. So it's important to verify that the Gulf oil spill is creating vast underwater plumes of toxic waste that are destroying the Gulf ecosystem.
The really important thing to focus on is how can we make sure this never happens again? Obama's response to halt all deepwater drilling was the responsible thing to do. It's hard to imagine that ANYONE can justify the clear and present risk of a second disaster of this magnitude occurring. We humans need to realize how much civilization is teetering on the brink of extinction here. We are monkeying with the base of the food chain in the oceans. Our reliance on fossil fuels has so many negatives that only bull-headed denialists can continue to justify it.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Shades of 1984

Endless war means we will never get out of this vicious cycle of debt and hatred. It's just as General Butler told us all those years ago, but we have forgotten. Truly the plutocrats are in control for the forseeable future. We are so screwed.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


Michael Steele was supposed to be the token Negro in the Republican party. He was the "proof" that Republicans can include people who aren't old and white. He was the window dressing, the cover model who smiles for the camera but doesn't make waves. The party didn't get what it bargained for. He has the disconcerting habit of saying what he really thinks too often. Sure, he's a clown. But then again, so are all the various wing-nuts who seem to be representing what was once the party of Lincoln. There is Boehner, who wears his orange face in a perpetual scowl, and evidently spends most of his time in bars. Michelle Bachmann who generates lists of insane quotes that provide endless amusement but also real fear at the thought that this person was actually chosen to be a leader.  Of course Sarah Palin needs no further introduction. And we all know the true leader of the party is Mr. Limbaugh, the much married and divorced draft-dodger, the addict, the sybarite who has been compared to Saddam Hussein in his love of luxury.
Michael Steele comes off as positively sane compared to the other prominent right-wingers. But he just doesn't toe the party line enough. He insists on having independent thoughts, and that is what makes him unforgivable.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Gosh, another surprise.

So the great Bush recession - the one that nearly turned into a catastrophic depression- was only an economic downturn for some of us. Turns out the richest are still getting richer. What a surprise. It's trickle down economics all the way.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Why are we not surprised?

Of course there are resources to steal in Afghanistan. It was obvious. Every was is about stealing resources when you get down to it.  But now we know exactly what kind.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Drill Baby, Spill?

It was almost 30 years ago that Ronald Reagan was elected POTUS, and thus was birthed the United Corporate States of America. In 1986 he took the highly symbolic step of removing the solar panels from the White House roof.  His presidency solidified the supremacy of the oil powers, and set us firmly on the path toward 9/11, and the wars Afghanistan, and Iraq. The massive environment disaster in the gulf coast is the outward manifestation of the blackness that has shadowed us ever since.
Long live The Corporation!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

They can't adjust their "schema".

The book I discussed in an earlier post - Deep Survival- is an analysis of how we form mental models or maps of our environment. These mental models are known as  schemas - and our schema determines how we respond to events. The definition of a conservative is one who is uncomfortable with change, unable to modify his/her schema. We certainly saw that last night when the Republicans, again acting like a nest of robot ants, voted in a solid block to obstruct reform of our financial system. Their pattern of sticking solidly together and blocking any victories for Democrats has worked very well to keep them in power in the past. But it has nearly destroyed our country in the process. No Republican so far has had the guts to defy the herd leaders, and work for the good of the country. Too bad. This particular schema will either destroy the Republican party, or the American culture. I hope it's not our culture that goes down in flames.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Drill nowhere - build solar collectors instead

Among the many many compelling reasons we MUST  break our addiction to fossil fuels, is the inescapable fact that offshore rigs and coal mines are highly vulnerable to the kind of disasters we have seen this month. When people talk about developing our own resources, they don't seem to be aware that "our own" resources will be sold on the open market, and may very well go to benefit the Chinese, rather than Americans. The so-called conservatives have not said anything about nationalizing our oil or coal reserves, so far as I can tell. So we pay the costs in lives, and the environmental costs of cleaning up or living with the pollution.  Tax payers subsidize the oil companies and coal companies; the irreplaceable resources go to the highest bidders; the energy companies get richer and richer, and the SOB's don't even bother to throw us the loose change from their pockets for a tip.

OK Tea baggers - This ought to get you riled up good.

How about this new bill that gives the police the power to take you to jail if you are not dressed "appropriately"? According to this Arizona bill - SB1070 - any police officer can arrest anyone at anytime without a warrant if that officer thinks you might be in the country illegally. Representative Bilbray says that police can tell if someone is illegal by the way they dress.  It is now a crime to be poor or to have a different taste in clothes in Arizona.  This bill also  makes it illegal for you to stop your car and pick up someone on the street to work for you. Talk about yer big government nanny state. I can't wait to hear the uproar from the libertarian tea party side about how this law infringes our civil liberties. 

Friday, April 23, 2010

Climate change that threatens civilization isn't enough to worry you?

So we are going to run out of oil anyway. What kind of idiot will dispute that non-renewable resources are in fact limited? I did hear some fruitcake claim that there is an oil machine under the Earth surface magically pumping out fresh oil from..... some magic cook pot? It wasn't clear from his discourse.
So are we determined to destroy the environment before civilization crashes from energy starvation? Or maybe we could start RIGHT NOW to seriously make alternate renewables our FIRST priority.
Hey, a blade of grass can do it. Why can't we?

Oligarchy, I knew it.

Well, the evidence is just piling up. We voted Obama in so he could disarm the titans and now we are waiting to see if he can pull it off. 90%  tax rate on those SOB's should do it. It worked great for Eisenhower.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Our mental maps of reality

I have been reading two books by Laurence Gonzales. He wrote the books Deep Survival and Everyday Survival. The underlying question he asks is  why can some people survive devastating disasters while others fold and die under relatively benign circumstances.His idea is that, we don't experience reality directly. We get sensory information coming in from our surroundings and from this the brain constructs a mental image or map of what is going on around us. When we fail to alter our mental map, when we fail to pay close attention to the changes in incoming information, we get in trouble. If you think about it, we often see what we expect to see, rather than what is actually around us. Check out this website and see how aware you are.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The slimy Newt is back!

Back in the mid 90's when Newt was full speed on course to take over the country and create his permanent ruling class, he wrote a famous (infamous) memo detailing how his operatives should use propaganda to manipulate the mindless masses. It appears he is back in the game. His latest slogan is the Secular Socialist Machine, designed to generate fear and loathing toward the Radical Left. Ooooooh..... watch out for the boogy men - those radical leftists! Repeat the slogan, and don't think about whether  it means anything. It's a slogan. An advertising jingle.  Secular Socialist Machine. It really has a ring to it, no? Almost hypnotizing......

When the rich get too rich...

I remember vividly the scene in Pearl Buck's book The Good Earth. The desperate poor are struggling to survive in the city, where enormous wealth co-exists with starving multitudes. An elderly woman counsels the others, saying to wait. She has seen this before. When the rich get too rich, there will come a way. Soon thereafter happens the revolution and the uprising she had predicted.
The economic disparities we see in the US now are dangerous to stability and to democracy. The founding fathers well knew how hereditary ruling classes become corrupt and incompetent. Thomas Pain wrote his pamphlet  Agrarian Justice and proposed the inheritance tax as a way to compensate the working class for their labors, and to equalize the distribution of wealth.
This current situation threatens us all.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Is anyone surprised?

The Bush administration knew that many of the detainees who were (still are?) being held at Guantanamo prison camp were innocent of any offense. These people were tortured no doubt? Because the Bush administration needed some evidence to justify their imprisonment? Where were all of those staunch supporters of the constitution when this horror was going on? Where was the outcry? Now the tea partiers are whining about paying taxes, and government takeover of health care (but keep your government hands off my medicare!). Random imprisonment and torture is not so bad, I guess.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The man has class.

Anna Post, who is the great-great granddaughter of Emily Post, the icon of manners and taste, gives our current president high marks for good manners. How nice that the person who represents the United States of America is someone we can take pride in. For a change.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Surprise, anyone surprised?

ExxonMobil (XOM) holds billions of dollars invested in overseas tax shelters. This is the company that earned record  profits year after year after year during the Bush administration. And they begrudge us a few crumbs from their table.
Shame on them and shame on us for not fighting our addiction to  their drug. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

This kind of answers the question

We see all these sex abuse scandals that are  going on, and evidently have gone on for centuries or more. We see the absurdity of a group of old white men with no families or (acknowledged) children telling millions of people how to conduct their sex lives and reproduction. Even as far back as Martin Luther, the corruption and decay of the institution was clear, clear enough to inspire the Protestant revolution. Yet still the Catholic church commands enough power to remain a state unto itself, immune from normal laws and expectations, and unquestioned as to its value in our world. ( Well, I question it, but evidently no one else does. Why is the Pope such a good man, anyway? What has he ever done to improve life for humans on Earth?)

So this lady has a kind of answer to that puzzle, anyway.

Monday, April 5, 2010

God is clearly on the Democrat's side

From Fox "News" comes this headline

McCain Aide: Palin Thought Candidacy Was 'God's Plan'

So why did God hate McCain so much? 

Deliver us from evil

I watched this documentary last night. It was made in 2006, but the topic is even more in the news now. It's an exposé of the Catholic church as an empire of corrupt evil old men, who either  condone or directly participate in the almost ritual abuse of power. The  structure of the church discourages the normal healthy attachments that keep humans sane. The concept of celibacy, as unnatural as it is, serves to concentrate wealth within the empire. These are strange old creepy men, dressed up in gilded bejeweled robes, chanting and performing strange rituals. Why do people keep giving them money, and the power they seem to command?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter - a pagan celebration

Rabbits and eggs are the classic emblems of sex and fertility. Even the word "Easter" comes from the same root as oestrus, meaning frenzied passion. It coincides with the arrival of springtime,  mating season, flowers, and other sexy things.

Gotta love it.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

How are they going to try and spin this?

So a graph of the latest figures for jobs creation is dubbed the bikini graph.  The last year that the government was in the inept hands of the neocons, Bush, Cheney, et al, America was falling off a cliff as far in terms of jobs losses. Within weeks of Obama taking office and beginning to govern,  the terrible momentum is arrested and within months, the turnaround begins.

War is a Racket- always has been and still is

All the so-called conservatives  are screaming, throwing bricks, and peeing in their pants about the cost of the health care bill. Why are they so quiet about the 16 billion plus dollars going down the toilet every month to send our children halfway across the planet in order to kill people they don't know?
Maybe because someone is making some big money off these wars? Major General Smedley Butler was one of only 19 people to win the congressional medal of honor - twice.  He told us over 76 years ago that war is waged by the poor for the benefit of the rich. When will we stop being suckered by the cynical crooks who play on fear and patriotism to feather their nests? War is a Racket. Read it. It's as true now as it was then.

8 million dollars is not enough!

WellPoint hikes CEO's pay package -

They have stopped even trying to hide their rapaciousness. They are not even pretending to be anything besides corporate pirates, going to any lengths to steal as much as they can before the house of cards falls in on them.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Any of this make to the Fox "news" channel?

This record of accomplishments is pretty breathtaking in fact. I am in awe of this man's ability. How is it no one remembers that in November 2008, before the election, Richard Burr was telling his wife to pull out all their money before the banks went under. The Dow Jones was under 7000 when Bush left office. They tried to call it the Obama recession. Why doesn't he get credit for the recovery now?


Obamanation -

Granted, a good catchy slogan is memorable, but that doesn't make it reasonable or even coherent. The sign holder probably did not vote for President Obama, but an undeniable majority of Americans did. Get over it. We put up with Bush who did not win the first election, and may have stolen the second election. Give President Obama a chance before you disenfranchise the will of the majority.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Blind fear

The right wing corporate party knows how to create and capitalize on fear. They learned how to do it from their extensive research into effective advertising. If you can use images,  keywords, and insecurities to make a person feel frightened and inadequate, you can manipulate that person's behavior. You can make that person spend hard-earned money on useless crap. Or you can make that person go out in the street and spit on anyone identified (by you, of course) as a scapegoat. You can even make that person behave in ways that are self-destructive and irrational. You can cause an otherwise intelligent person to voluntarily inhale toxic gases and ignore the physical nausea until an addiction is created. Or you can persuade a person that the system which in fact is oppressing them is good, while the systems that are saving them are evil.
All you need is a synchronized system of spreading the lies. Can you say "Foxx fair and balanced" ?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Who is inciting whom?

Senator Orin Hatch said, "It's going to be an outright war, and it should be...". Rep. Paul Brown said, " They're trying to take over...".  Senator Tom Coburn told us we were all going to die as a result of the Democrat's health insurance reform. Virginia Foxx claimed that health insurance reform is more dangerous to Americans than terrorism. And Rush Limbaugh told his followers that "We need to take them out.."
So what is Eric Cantor complaining for? He thinks the Democrats are causing the problems by talking about the right-wing lunatic fringe hate speech? 
To him and to Ann Coulter who is currently  whining about being "discriminated against" by Canadian students, I say " What goes around, comes around." As the Bible says, take the log out of your own eye before you complain about the speck in your neighbor's eye.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Patriots all

True Americans want what's best for the country. True patriots don't ask for glory,or fame, or to profit from doing what's right. So look at the whiny fussbudget jerks in the party of hypocrisy who are telling America, " we didn't get our way so we will make sure everyone suffers." 
Real patriotic and noble......not.

Health care or warfare?

Wow, the health care bill was signed into law today. Obama put more energy and thought into fighting  for this bill than Bush put into the war in Iraq. Bush barely even pretended to care about Afghanistan, of course. Where were all those "fiscal conservatives" when this country  was starting two wars, and cutting taxes at the same time? How come they didn't care about the deficit then?
Thank you Mr. President for giving us some protections against predatory insurance companies. You didn't go nearly far enough, but it's a start. Maybe next we can start a public co-op and tell the insurance companies to go jump in a (deep, black) lake. With rocks in their pants.

Monday, March 22, 2010

We the people...

of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America.

How is it that we can all agree on provide for the common defense , while having conniptions about  promote the general welfare?  Seeing as justice, liberty, unity, domestic affairs, and defense are covered in separate clauses, what can promote the general welfare possibly mean? Perhaps, health and education? What else could it possibly mean? Section 8 of article 1 even specifies that congress has the power to lay and collect taxes to promote the general welfare. Gosh, who watching Fox 'news' would ever guess the founders were commie socialists? A more perfect union? Holy Cow!, what could be more commie than that?
What with all the hoorah and spitting about the health care bill, we hardly even noticed that there is a provision to place education loans directly under government supervision. This of course cuts out the middle men, the banks, that have been taking their cut and making sure no student can graduate without a crushing debt that will keep him/her so busy working that thinking or doing anything about injustice isn't possible. It's all a plot, obviously. Educated people with freedom and time to notice things are clearly a threat to plutocracy. How much longer will the plutocrats let this commie socialist nonsense continue? 

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Civilization, emotions, and progress

This is the kind of response we see when civilization takes a leap forward. We saw it when women were fighting for the right to vote, and were threatened with death and rape. We saw it when children going to school in Little Rock were threatened and spit on by a vicious angry mob. Now we see it in in the ignorant, frightened mobs who are brainwashed by their corporate owners, to love their servitude. Sometimes people are so afraid of change, they would prefer to wallow in their familiar poverty than take a chance that life might be better. Those people today are called "conservatives."

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Health insurer Humana Inc. paid CEO Michael B. McCallister 26 percent more last year than in 2008, largely because of a $1.8 million performance-related bonus.
Wow!. They are playing the end game now. Just how much can they haul off the sinking ship before it goes under? They are so bold they are not even trying to hide their thefts.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

YES! This is exactly what the US of A needs to do. We need to work together, the way we did in WW2. Our resources were focused on getting the job done, and the Manhattan project was an intense dedicated commitment to a possibility, a hope, a chance that we could use the secret of the atom to end the war. Unfortunately it ended up as a bomb, but we now have power plants and medical technology that uses the science that came out of Oak Ridge. We can do it again. We can learn how to do what every blade of grass can do. We can use the free, eternal and beneficent rays of the sun to power our lives. The faster the world leaves the oil economy behind, the better off we all will be.
So how about this school in Mississippi? A woman who self-identifies as a lesbian, wanted to escort another young lady to the senior prom. The school board learned that discriminating against her would be illegal, so they cancelled the whole prom. How wise, how just, how compassionate......NOT. Who would have been hurt had they just let her be who she is, and celebrate her accomplishment like her classmates. What's the point of forcing people to lie and hide their true selves? So what if she's gay? Who does it hurt?