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.