May 28, 2010

Obama Has Jumped The Oily Shark

Karl Rove recently published an article claiming that the Gulf Oil Blow Out is Obama's Katrina. Through inaction and foot dragging, Obama made Rove correct. It didn't have to be.

Obama likes to think of himself as a master of politics, but he must have learned his moves from the WWII French. He surrenders practically as the battles are joined. He has never stood firm for any position he presented verbally. Instead we discover that behind the scenes he has done much to reverse that which he publicly proposes.

But to get back to Rove's assertion, the first clue that Obama had lost control of the message was the actions of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. In an attempt to do something for his state, he was proposing actions that should have already been underway under Federal guidance, and made Obama look more the fool and poltroon than anything else Obama has done (and that is already a lot).

Just to be fair, Jindal also made the Republican governors of Mississippi and Alabama look bad. Of all the affected Gulf states, only Florida's politicians have begun to act -however misguidedly- to defend their state from BP's mess. But I digress.

The real message beginning to emerge is that Obama has lost the little people. MSNBC is reporting that, for the first time since Bill Clinton left office after he disappointed the American people, small donors are giving more to the Republican Party than to the Democrats.

This indicates to me that the GOP can now claim justification for their obstructionist tactics, and they can be expected to continue to use these tactics if they ever lose control of the government again (Fat Chance!). Stalling until the other side screws up big time will guarantee the desired results.

This is not a good development for the nation. We have been started down the path to corporate dominance of the national affairs with the installation of George W Bush by the activist conservatives on the Supreme Court. We were continued down that path by Obama, both actively behind the scenes and through his incompetence in public. The people have had enough, and are seeking change from the only other (to their small minds, anyway) option.

The Democrats are finished, and Obama can take the credit for blowing the best opportunity to turn the nation onto a course which would have led to the future. Now, despite all of his protestations to the contrary, we are only going to look back instead of looking forward. The troglodytes of the Republican Party will insist.

May 14, 2010

Spill, Baby, Spill

I've tried to refrain from talking about the BP / Transocean / Halliburton oil spill in the Gulf until I understood it well enough to comment on it. I'm still no expert on industrial engineering and oil drilling, but I think I've finally gotten a handle on the amazing screw up that continues unabated. What I find shocking is that we're now getting reports that the spill could be ten times bigger than we thought.

I can only begin to imagine the damage this spill is going to have over the long term.  I'm sure the fishermen on the coast would be more than happy to tell us how this is destroying their lives.  I'm sure we'll even see more signs of it soon, and not just tar balls either.  

What really amazes me, although it doesn't surprise me, is that Republicans have blocked an effort to change the law to increase BP's liability for clean up and environmental damages.  After all, that would be bad for BP and that makes it bad for their graft revenue. 

The more I hear about this, the more I believe criminal charges need to be filed.  I just don't know against whom they should be filed.  There are memos and letters going back over a year discussing how dangerous the situation was.  There are reports that hours before the explosion there was notification of system failure.  Make no mistake, those men that died on that rig didn't need to.  They died because BP, Transocean, and Halliburton are greedy, evil corporations that don't give a flying crap about the lives of the people who actually do the real work.  MMS, and their criminally cozy relationship, with the oil industry needs to see some people go to jail too. 

Yeah, off-shore drilling.  What a great idea.  How much more proof do people need to know that it is time to end our addiction to oil?  It's time for an energy revolution, and that means stopping those bastards in Washington from lining their pockets with blood money.

April 28, 2010

More evidence of teabagger hypocracy and racism

The University of Washington has published a poll that clearly shows that 2/3 of teabaggers support racial and religious profiling and other violations of civil rights, such as governmental wiretaps. The veneer of taxes and big government is rubbing off and the racism under the hood is beginning to shine through so clearly it's blinding.

Click here for the study.

April 27, 2010

Teabaggers, the jig is up.

There is no longer any room for the teabaggers to hide from what they are.  David Duke, former Klan leader and first rate jack ass, has posted a video on YouTube in support of the teabaggers.  What's more, he's up to his old tricks again, claiming that the only reason they are being portrayed as racist is because the Jews run Hollywood.  That's right, he said it again.  Let me provide you with a few quotations from he latest screed of idiocy.

Duke: Tea Party people are called racist because the vast majority wants to stop the massive non-European immigration that will turn America into a crumbling tower of Babel. Most Tea Partiers believe that we in America have the right to preserve our heritage, language, and culture, just as every nation has that human right. The vast majority of Tea Party activists oppose affirmative action and diversity, which are nothing more than programs of racist discrimination against white people.

You see, for Duke and people like him, preserving America is about being white.  People of color are a threat.  They are dangerous and they will kill you and take your stuff.  Don't mind the fact that all of this garbage isn't even good for fertilizer.  According to Duke, being a teabagger is all about making white people the only people in America.

Duke: The Tea Party movement is made up of American people who have watched in silent anger while the nation of our forefathers has been destroyed.

You know, by letting other people come to America and bring their weird, foreign ways and languages.  But the worst sin of all was those darn race traitors electing a black man president.  That, right there, was the death knell for men like Duke and the predominantly white, militant, and racist teabaggers.  Oh, so you still think that being a teabagger is about being white and scared?  Tell me, where are the non-whites?  Why is it that the people at your tea parties look like Alice and not Nelson Mandela?  The insane majority of teabaggers, well over 90%, are white.  This is something that Duke even admitted during is idiotic blathering.  He even went so far as to advise teabaggers to drop the fake multiracial, multicultural façade and be proud it is a white people thing.

The jig is up.  When the likes of David Duke are cheering you on, endorsing you, and telling the world at large that you are just a bunch of angry white people, it's time to rethink what you're doing.  The only agenda you are serving is one of hatred and racism.  It's time to stop acting like a bunch of petulant children and start acting like adults.

Here is Duke's video, watch at your own risk.

And that isn't even the worst of it.  You should look at the gems for comments.  Here are three, from the first page of comments on YouTube.

• The supporters of the Tea Party already are White and that is why the Judeo-Media calls them racist
• If the Tea Party is hijacked by Jews and Zionist Christians, (just like the Democrats and the Republicans were hijacked), it will become utterly useless. Keep the Tea Party for the Founders and it will continue to be effective. 
• Whites must come to stark realization that if we let ourselves become a minority, small one at that, we are going to get a lot worse than even Obama!  We must defend OUR heritage just as Forefathers did!

If you want to claim that this is all about sovereign rights and the Constitution, where the hell were these "patriots" when Bush was trampling on our civil liberties with warrantless wiretaps?  Where were they when Bush intimately tied federal money to religious charities?  Where were the armed mobs holding up signs with racist epithets for 8 years as the Right Wing moved this country closer to a fascist police state than we've ever been.  Where are the teabaggers protesting the new law in Arizona that is clearly an attempt to marginalize all people of color and make them prove they are legal residents or citizens?  They aren't there because being a teabagger is about being a racist pig.  It's got a veneer of being about civil rights, but they only popped up after a black man became president.  The rhetoric is eerily similar to the filth that spewed from the mouths of men like Duke and Timothy McVey.  The vast majority are white, angry, and conservative.  Why is that?  The one thing that is good about Duke's video is that it lays to rest the idea that teabagging is about anything other than white people being scared and angry.

March 28, 2010

My Name Is Called Disturbance

I've lately been reading a lot of commentary regarding the increasingly violent advocacy emanating from the people who still think Ozzie and Harriet represent the political and social norms of the United States. These are the people who now want to take William F. Buckley's philosophy of "standing athwart history yelling STOP!" and put it into practice through street violence in a misguided attempt to save the nation by destroying it.

From somewhere a memory stirred, inspired by the topic, and after reviewing it, I remembered exactly what it was. 1968. Vietnam. Civil rights. Economic disparity. And a great deal of unfocused outrage that would lead to the Weathermen. The Left seemed to be on the move, and the Rolling Stones captured the mood in their "Street Fighting Man":

Ev'rywhere I hear the sound of marching, charging feet, boy
'Cause summer's here and the time is right for fighting in the street, boy
. . .
Hey! Think the time is right for a palace revolution
'Cause where I live the game they play is compromise solution
. . .
Hey! Said my name is called disturbance
I'll shout and scream, I'll kill the king, I'll rail at all his servants

This mood was -in 1968- more propaganda than actuality despite the rise of the Weathermen, whose entire output of "revolution" is far exceeded by just one day's IED activity in Baghdad. But the threat was enough to motivate certain blocs of the Democratic Party base to shift allegiances and put Richard Nixon in power. These fearful actions seemed justified with the outrages committed by the Manson tribe, which itself helped to still the waters when upper-middle-class college students were gunned down by Nixon's "tin soldiers" at Kent State and Jackson State colleges. No one wanted to be the next one to die over a war lie. Everyone wanted to get back to where we once belonged, only that time had passed, never to return.

But the streets were again quiet, and society had allowed the violent suppression of protest to achieve this Potemkin Peace to become the norm. A state of calm seemed to return to the land, and we could again feel secure enough to dream big - even if the dream itself was a falsehood intended to cover a multitude of sins committed in the name of The Dream.

But like all pipe dreams, reality will intrude into the fantasy once the effects wear off. It always takes more substance to reach that same plateau in nirvana, and the cost of the trip soon becomes excessive. Those ensnared in the fantasy have trouble adapting to that revitalized reality, even fighting against their best interest to return to that relatively numb condition which is self-interpreted as idyllic.

It is thus with the Tea Baggers and their ilk. They want to return to a time when "people knew their place", when they knew that theirs was at the top of the heap. They see all the gains made by minorities as having been taken away from them and want to reverse those changes. The elections of 2006 and 2008 took away their governmental majority, leaving them impatient and worried that something might happen to change their perceptions of power and status before it could be regained. Not willing to wait to use the political process in that effort, they have adopted the tactics of the 1960's and are issuing calls for "a palace revolution". The call is answered with "the sound of marching, charging feet" as those who want the world BACK the way they thought it was (and they want it that way NOW) "shout and scream 'I'll kill the king'" and "rail at all his servants" who attempt to explain why those demands cannot or should not be met.

But to achieve power, the "game is called disturbance". Stage a raucous protest to stop the proper counting of ballots so that a partisan judiciary can decide who "really" won for the voters. Be obstructive in the passage of legislation and then scream that you weren't allowed to participate. Then attempt to make sure that no implementation of any change can happen. That attempt uses the implied threat of violence to turn the electorate once again as it did in 1968. Only like in 1968, the turn realized was not the turn intended.

The focus on the street violence of 1968 was intended to remove Lyndon Johnson's clique from power, not to facilitate the installation of Richard Nixon. It was a calamitous miscalculation. The threatened violence from the Tea Baggers (aided and abetted by the forces of social control in ways that the '60s radicals could only dream about) is intended only to remove Barack Obama and his clique from power, not to facilitate the rise of a fascist corporate state. It will prove to be a calamitous miscalculation if these people succeed.

Those out in the streets shouting about how Obama is a fascist/communist/socialist/Muslim extremist wouldn't know a real extremist if they met one in the mirror. They don't know for whom their efforts will directly benefit, choosing to believe the lies that they are the patriots saving their country from radicalism by being radicals. Should those who will benefit from the theocratic destruction of the expressions of popular democracy achieve their desired corporatist goals, these Tea Bagger fools don't think for one minute that the snake they ride will turn on them. They don't know about how Hitler turned on the Brown Shirts who made it possible for him to rise to power. The don't know how Lenin and Mao both purged the ranks of those deemed untrustworthy to the revolution once their usefulness had expired. It can't happen here! We're Americans!

It was so then, and so will be again if the Tea Bagger path is followed to its logical conclusion. No corporatist power elite is going to reward those who fought their fight by allowing them to realize any benefit from the effort. The Tea Baggers will be disarmed and put into the same place where everyone else landed. They won't have any of the rights they now think they are defending, as everyone of these is anathema to proper business management. Only then will they see the light, and their power will have been dissipated in creating their own prisons. They will be out of options.

Many current commentators express the opinion that the excesses of the Tea Baggers will work against them in the long run. I wish I could agree. While the historical norm is for radicalism to quickly die out, or to get so extreme that it loses popular support, sometimes that doesn't happen before the entire social norm is overthrown. The ensuing anarchy always produces totalitarianism. As there is evidence that big money is behind these "populist" protests and actions, one can only assume that anarchy is the strategy and totalitarianism the goal. And the more the Tea Baggers are whipped up to bring on socio-political Armageddon in America, the more likely that elitist totalitarianism is the outcome of the effort - no matter the alleged renunciation of the means of achieving that goal.

It CAN happen here, especially because we're Americans.

March 8, 2010

Well, I'll Be A Wealthy Monkey's Uncle!

I think I have just discovered why it is that Republicans tend to prefer religious beliefs over evolution (or science in general for that matter - unless it involves killing or destroying). It would have to do with the fact that Republicans are not evolved themselves. Let's examine the data.

I had this flash of insight while reading about a study of bonobos and sharing published in Current Biology. Researchers discovered that bonobos will voluntarily share food -even surmounting difficulties to do so- rather than eat alone.

This was considered a human trait until someone noticed that when Republicans invite people to dinner, it's so that the guest can pay for it. The guest is usually quite willing to do so (if already wealthy), for then the Republican will return the favor in the form of some very generous government contract.

There is some evidence that Democrats share this trait as well, but maybe in smaller numbers due to it being a recessive gene. For instance, California Senator Dianne Feinstein was a reliable liberal vote up until her husband was awarded a Pentagon contract worth as much as $3.1 billion of YOUR MONEY even if the resulting heat caused her to resign her committee seat. There are other and far more lucrative allegations of mutual grooming-style economic corruption, but I'm already far afield from my simian premise.

Despite the evidence of voluntary sharing in bonobos, this trait of currying future favor might also be shared by them if a research question regarding the motive for sharing is borne out by further study. Male chimpanzees are known through study to give "gifts" of food to female chimps in trade for precedence when the female goes fertile (they would also throw in a movie after dinner if they cared about such things!). So if the suspicion about bonobos' motivations for sharing are determined to be a valid assessment, it would mean that bonobos -our nearest great ape relative after the chimpanzee- are no more evolved than are Republicans. This would not be a good sign, inferring that maybe humanity is not as evolved as we like to believe we are.

It would explain a lot!

March 7, 2010

A Proposal In Order To Save The Union

If there is one thing that the Left and Right agree on, it’s that government is broken.  The details of why are vastly different, but at least they agree that it needs to be fixed.  What follows are just some of the major changes to government that I would make in an attempt to set right the huge mess we have today.  What you won’t see is a partisan redesign that strongly favors any political party.  I am not a member of any such organization, and I don’t believe there is one that represents my interests.  What you will find is a common theme, one directed by the very principle that our Constitution is built upon, a government for the people, by the people.
Abolition of all political parties.
Political parties have demonstrated consistently that they do not represent the American people.  They represent their own interests, predominantly the accumulation of power and wealth.  The do not govern with the interest of the people in mind, only their own self-serving agenda.  These are the very reasons George Washington himself advised against the rise of political parties at the outset.  His wisdom was ignored, but it’s never to late to take heed and reverse course.  The loss of political parties also means that an elected official must represent the people that elected them, not a powerful special interest group for elitist control.
Public funding for elections.
I know, I know, that’s a very high cost that has to be made up in some way.  While there are details to work out, such as how to pay for it and how much everyone should get, the benefits outweigh the cost.  You see, I’m not talking about additional funding for campaigns.  I’m talking about strictly limiting funding for campaigns to only public funds.  Candidates can not use their own personal wealth.  They can not receive political donations from PACs or corporations.  They can’t be bought by sweetheart deals from powers beyond.  By eliminating the use of private wealth we also severely limit a wealthy elite from seizing control because everyone has the same amount of cash.  A more level field has never existed.
Term limits for Congress.
I propose that term limits for the House be set to a maximum of four three-year terms and the Senate be limited to two six-year terms.  Both Houses would potentially have longer service than any single president and could govern during three different presidencies.  This gives the legislative body more consistency than any administration, but the nature of term limits prevents career politicians from becoming so entrenched that graft and corruption are practically a given.  Also, extending the length of a term in the House by a year slows down the immediate drive to begin campaigning on the first day of the job.  
Elected officials can not accept gifts from lobbyists.
This doesn’t mean that lobbyists are to be banned, only that special interest organizations cannot be permitted to unduly influence the course of legislation by bribing politicians with “gifts” or sending them on trips or other such nonsense.  Additionally, lobbyists can’t be permitted to take them out for dinner or some other private meeting.  When a lobbyist meets with an elected official, it must be in that official’s government office and during normal business hours.  A public log of who they met with must all be kept and published so we, the people, can track who is trying to persuade our representatives.  
Reverse Citizens United decision.
Corporations are not people, pure and simple.  The idea of corporate personhood is preposterous and dangerous.  Unfettered spending sprees by corporations, even indirectly, in support of one politician or another still permits undue influence.  While I do believe organizations, including PACs, businesses, and unions, have a right to publish a statement of support or opposition to a candidate for office, the idea that they can spend as much money as they want in order to produce propaganda to sway the electorate is a terrifying proposal.  We have already limited campaign funding, and now we must limit indirect support.  Organizations are not people and therefore are not subject to the full application or support of the 1st Amendment.  In order to maintain a government by and for the people, actual flesh and blood people need to be the deciding force, not businesses or other organizations.
There are other changes I would propose, but these tend towards operational details like reminding the Senate that their job is to represent their home state and its interests at the federal level while the House is to represent the people of a specific area in that state.  As you can see, these are not small changes.  They are big, big overhauls but I believe they would be the foundation upon which our government would be returned to us, the American people, and taken away from powerful, elite groups that care not one damn bit about what is good for us.  We are the majority,  we are the masses, and this is our country.  It belongs to us and I want it back!

Raising Arizona Cain

I often worry about people I know from Arizona. There seems in them to be a combination of extreme arrogance that would make a Texan jealous and a level of stupidity that would make the most ignorant Appalachian appear to be Einstein.

The New York Times offers an amazing assessment of what it takes to get an Arizonan riled. Using the tax payers' property as a cash cow doesn't faze them one little bit, nor does the arrival of those damn liberals from Jon Stewart's Daily Show to make fun of the situation.

No, it takes something far more important to get Arizonans upset. It takes not having any public outhouses on the Interstates anymore. That just chaps their hides!

NYT also reports that Arizona has the largest budget shortfall of any state when measured as a percentage of the total state budget. They don't cite a link or source to support this statement, but the state Department of Transportation allegedly has a $100 million dollar shortfall and had to take action. There was no reserve.

It seems that the Arizona Legislature was under a great deal of pressure to pass a budget which dealt with the state's $3 billion deficit and not include any additional taxes. They slashed aid for various needy children programs to facilitate this effort. Needy children don't vote, so who cares, right? So if they were willing to throw kids under the bus, you know they mean business! So sorry Arizona travelers! There just wasn't any money to keep these public conveniences available. We're only doing what California, Colorado, Georgia, Vermont and Virginia have done!

"Why don’t they charge a quarter or something?" whines one woman interviewed by the Times. “There was one rest stop between here (Pine, AZ) and Phoenix, and we really needed it.” But another woman reveals what is truly important to your typical Arizonan: “I honestly think they are setting us up because they want to do a tax increase, I think by shutting down things people want, they will give us one.”

Is it not ever thus? You get in financial trouble, and you are on your own. But when the big guys need assistance, they put you on the spot to bail them out with your tax money. But our second distaff dissenter ignores the forest for the trees. The government might well shut down valued assets like public highway convenience stops, but they cannot "give" the tax payers an increase unless the tax payers do nothing to stop them.

Here in California, anti-taxers are on the spot whenever a Sacramento politician even hints at a new tax. In fact, they are almost as fast as when the California Legislature in thinking about cutting a valued public service - like road maintenance. This state lives, thrives, or dies on its highways. Nothing infuriates a Californian more than to not be able to get their motor runnin' and head out on the highway lookin' for adventure,

Yet they aren't about to willingly pay for these highways to hell-raising. They blame the high costs of road maintenance on Cal-Trans workers for being so greedy by not working for Wal-Mart wages. I would love to see how many Californians would work on third shift with no fixed schedule, and have to work in foul weather conditions, amid dangerous and callous drivers who think it a game to see how close they can come to hitting a road worker while driving 80 miles an hour, and only accept whatever it is that Wal-Mart actually pays (It works out to less than minimum wage, I assure you!).

But California has a much larger population to distribute the road load. When the California cut our budget for roadside rest stops, no one really raised an eyebrow, because there are lots of gas stations and fast food restaurants into which a little rest must fall. Not so in Arizona. One can drive for hours and not see much except the sand and bushes along the side of the roads. It isn't too much different from when the stage coaches used to cross the desert; not an air conditioned 7-11 or a Circle K in sight for miles and miles and miles and miles and miles!

So the plight of our deprived Arizonans raises the much bigger issue of what we do about the economic reasons we are all about to have to make adjustments, not only in our standard of living, but in our standards generally. Closing the rest stops only means that we go back to squatting behind a bush and hope that there is no rattlesnake taking a nap in it.

Arizonans should be paying attention to what is happening in Colorado Springs. Up there, they have essentially eliminated ALL civic services because the people don't want to pay for them anymore. I haven't researched it in detail yet, but I suspect that the people there don't feel they use little things like street lights very much and don't want to have to pay for them. Public Safety? They think their Glock will protect them just fine, thank you very much, so who needs police or fire when the pioneers had neither?

All of these situations point out a sad truth about life in America today. There never was a free lunch, and it's now time to go over the list of where the money goes. Many things is going to have to come to an end and that is going to be that. You can't have it all. Only the people have yet to catch up with that reality. They still want the world and they want it now! Free! At No Cost!

I just wish there was enough wisdom in the people to do more than complain after the fact. This reckoning has been a long coming time, and people chose to believe economic fairy tales instead. Had earlier action been taken, these closings -and many other painful losses- could have been avoided if wisdom and foresight were common attributes. But venality and selfishness are the norm today. We can no longer pay to play, so we can just go shit on the roadsides.

February 24, 2010

You Want Obama?

Read this and go after him.

According to The New York Times:

"Several hospital lobbyists involved in the White House deals said it was understood as a condition of their support that the final legislation would not include a government-run health plan paying-Medicare rates...or controlled by the secretary of health and human services. 'We have an agreement with the White House that I'm very confident will be seen all the way through conference', one of the industry lobbyists, Chip Kahn, director of the Federation of American Hospitals, told a Capitol Hill newsletter...Industry lobbyists say they are not worried [about a public option.] 'We trust the White House,' Mr. Kahn said."

I don't care if you are a Democrat, Republican, or an Independent. It doesn't matter if you are for or against a public option, or whether you care about health care reform or not. Maybe it's the lousy condition of the roads you care about, or the fact that your utility bills are shooting through the roof (have you forgotten Enron already?). What ever it is, some corporation is angling to make a big buck off of you. They are looking for the law to give them the power to take you to the cleaners. They go to the White House which is open for business (but not for you!) and is making deals with private entities long before the Congress even gets to pretend to deliberate on a bill as if they are making law. They are only going to rubber-stamp the decision made through the Oval Office. That's what they get paid handsomely to do. It has been this way for many years, and involves both parties. Where in this process is there any input from YOU, the voting taxpaying citizen of this nation?

Come November, if you vote for an incumbent, then you are voting to allow this sort of shady back room dealing to continue to erode your quality of life. Have you not lost enough already? Who is to say that this collusion between the public and private sectors won't be extended to limiting more of your freedoms and curtailing your liberty?

Many of you are gun owners. You fear that your guns will be confiscated. What if some corporation decides that you are a threat to them, or maybe decides that they can make big bucks if they convince the government that they can protect you better - For LESS! - than government entities like the police or the military can - as long as you are disarmed? How long do you think it would be before they come for your Glock? How are you going to fight them? And I don't mean with your little 9mm, either. I mean politically.

The Supreme Court just took all limits off corporate political contributions under a tortured definition of free speech, yet can you match the money it takes to turn your Congressperson dishonest if the corporation buys the necessary votes to take your guns away? Most of you don't make enough to have a very good life now, assuming that you are still employed! You know what talks and what walks, and if the last several elections have not yet convinced you that you are not important to the larger scheme of things, then you haven't been paying attention.

Maybe you were too busy trying to prove Obama was not a citizen, or that he was some kind of terrorist plant, or a Muslim. But while you were so distracted, he was at the center of a tug-of-war over which group of corrupt politicians was going to sell you out. He can do nothing without both groups agreeing on how they will divide the swag, nor can they do anything without him. Replace him with Sarah Palin, and what is really going to change besides the face speaking the lies? The purchasers of the law still win no matter which corrupt organization holds the reins. They just shift the money to one group when the other group pisses them off.

It's going on right now with the Wall Street banks now that they got almost $24 trillion of YOUR MONEY. Now that they are back in the plush, they are currently reported to have ceased donating to the Democrats and have shifted their support to the to the Republicans in order to keep what they were given, and using the money given to them from YOUR taxes which was intended to bail them out from their lousy gambling to do so. But you can be sure that YOU will be the loser.

The only way to fix this is to return control of the government to those who are supposed to be the government. That is you and I, the voters. This won't happen as long as a rich private entity representing some business, or industry, or some very wealthy individual can buy the law for their benefit under the mistaken legal notion that money speaks louder than the voice of the electorate. The Supreme Court Citizens United decision must be reversed, or else everything you hold dear about this nation will be taken away from you and sold to the highest bidder - and with your tax money loaned to them to do so. They can't be trusted to repay that loan, leaving you to have to pay the bill with your reduced quality of life one more time.

Are you going to let them?

Stronger together, but working individually.

I'll put this question to you in hopes of inspiration. What do we do about it?  In a nation that has always celebrated rugged individualism, how do we get people to realize that the Founding Fathers unified behind the thought that we all hang together or we all hang alone? To talk of the strength of the community acting together for mutual benefit is to surely raise the hackles of "every red-blooded true American" against the resurgent rise of "Communism, Marxism, Socialism, Maoism" and any other "-ism" that the Corporate Fascists can find in a dictionary. There isn't even a single unified front from the Left. We are a scattered gaggle, bereft of direction, vocation, and leadership. Progressives are left (if you'll excuse the pun) out in the cold for daring to be egalitarian in our goals, as "Liberals," so often in favor corporations and free trade as dearly as the wingnuts to the Right, hurl insults at us ala Rahm. Most of us would rather talk the talk than actually do something. I, myself, can be dreadfully guilty of this crime; held immobile by frustration and impotent rage. How, then, do we get people to listen to us when the facts bore the shit out of people and they'd rather drink a beer with a corporate fascist than listen to the rallying cries and wake up calls declaring our perilous situation? I'm at a loss, and I'm hoping you have some ideas. I'm just plain out of them.

February 7, 2010

It's Enough To Make You Sick!

There's a good reason why there's been such a large gap in my postings this last couple of weeks, and I've got the Doctor's note to prove it!

Simultaneously, I developed a couple of unrelated medical conditions that required immediate attention. I was in my doctor's office a total of four times across two weeks, saw a specialist once, was in various labs for testing five times, and spent a morning in the ER. I also have a total of seven medications that were prescribed to me as I got to experience "the best medical care in the world" that the Republicans fight mightily to defend against reality and reform.

They should have to endure my travails. Then we'll see if they still believe that Americans have "the best medical care in the world".

As the first condition erupted, and I had to get in to see my doctor without waiting the six weeks it now takes to get an appointment, I ended up seeing the Nurse Practitioner. She prescribed some medication (which did nothing but make money for Amneal Pharmaceuticals) and sent me on my way.

That night, the second condition erupted, and I was back to see the N.P. again. This time, Amneal again benefited, only they had to share the wealth with the Watson and Glenmark companies. But wait! That's Not ALL! I was sent out for an MRI which was to be processed immediately, and the results provided to my doctor by the end of that day.

That didn't happen. The MRI lab was backed up because the scanner was acting up and not taking good images. Then, the radiologist who was supposed to read the images and write the report didn't do so for several days, leaving me hanging without any real relief from the pain I was experiencing. For this my insurance paid him a princely sum, I'm sure.

The next day, I had pain so bad that I had to go to the ER. They wanted to access the MRI files and could not (which is how I found out that they weren't processed yet). Their MRI "ran slow" and was always backed up with immediate needs being plugged in between the scheduled scannings, so they opted for a CT scan. They drew blood for lab tests to check my blood sugar and maybe a few other things, but they didn't tell my everything. I guess that one of these things was to see if there was any good reason I couldn't tolerate the contrast dye necessary for the CT scan. Unfortunately for me, they couldn't do that until my doctor said that the contrast dye wouldn't cause me to go into diabetic shock. So I had to wait, holding my cranium in an improvised vise made from my hands to quell the pain. I was also to go have an X-ray taken to back up the CT.

Finally, everything they wanted to do had been done, and they handed me a prescription for yet another pain killer (which made Squib some money this time), and sent me on my way. I was under orders to see my doctor as soon as possible, which was two days hence due to the weekend.

Back to see himself this time. He goes over all the reports from the scans and the lab work and what not, and hands me yet another prescription for yet another pain killer -which made Watson a little richer- and a referral to a specialist for my first condition.

The specialist checks me out, and hands me yet another prescription to replace an earlier one, which brought Eli Lilly onto the gravy train. He also orders more lab work (not yet completed, so it doesn't get included in my out-of-pocket tally below) and a follow-up visit.

I had a follow-up scheduled with my primary doctor to see how I was tolerating all the drug changes, and he told me that one of my sudden conditions was being caused by arthritis, and that there isn't much they can do for me (meaning that my insurance company isn't likely to be willing to pay for it).

At this point, out of my own pocket, I've spent over $400 in copays and deductibles, an amount that roughly matches my payroll deduction for the coverage in the first place. My insurance company had to have paid about ten times that amount, and I am no closer to having either condition successfully treated.

So much for "the best medical care in the world" !

January 30, 2010

Obama In The Year Two

This was an important week for Barack Obama, one which defines where he goes from here. There is a contrast in this week's presidential activities which point out the choices.

First and most infamously, the State of the Union Address. As defined in Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution, "{The President} shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient."

Obama failed to meet the Constitutional mandate as to the State of the Union to be presented to the Congress, instead presenting topics that dealt with the political differences between the parties and his version of where the blame lies.

As my partner pointed out in his last post, People often vote against their best interests and linked to an article which asks the question ignored mightily by the American Corporate Media: WHY?

It has been my contention that the difference lies in how the voters are approached, and some of this comes from personal empirical research. You can approach people prepared with facts and figures, and as you present your case you can watch them fall asleep. Think Al Gore.

Or, you can have some clown mount the rostrum and tell lots of frat party stories and everyone thinks he's a great guy and votes for him. Think Dubya.

To simplify this further, a candidate's message can resonate with the voters in one of two ways: You can appeal to logic, or you can appeal to emotion. Gore appealed to logic. Dubya to emotion.

The linked article comes to a conclusion that I consider close enough to my own thoughts so as to justify them (I'll crank my head back to its normal hat size later). The article quotes psychologist Drew Westen, author of The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation, as finding that "There is nothing voters hate more than having things explained to them as though they were idiots." This approach is too direct, too one way, and doesn't engage the minds of the voters.

Many candidates have won office through tales of their deeds, usually militaristic adventures heroically told. Through the retelling of such tales, a persona is generated in the minds of the voters which, if they create a favorable opinion, results in electoral victory. But not all successful story subjects were military men, nor did they allow others to completely create the persona to be sold and retold to the voting public.

One such was Abe Lincoln. He was very good at creating allegories and story metaphors for discussing the issues of his day, and through their use led the voters to think about these issues before they made their decision on the ballot.

Today's parties generally differ in their attempts at this effort. The Republicans learned immediately after Gerald Ford lost to Jimmy Carter that running on one's record doesn't work against an unknown when that record is a poor one. So by the time that Ronald Reagan ran just four years later, the image machine was stoked and at full steam. Having Reagan draw upon his associations in Hollywood's star-making machinery didn't hurt any.

As notes Thomas Frank, the author of the best-selling book What's The Matter with Kansas, "The Republicans have learned how to stoke up resentment against the patronizing liberal elite, all those do-gooders who assume they know what poor people ought to be thinking. Right-wing politics has become a vehicle for channeling this popular anger against intellectual snobs. The result is that many of America's poorest citizens have a deep emotional attachment to a party that serves the interests of its richest."

The Democrats, however, didn't learn this lesson. They continued to attempt to use facts and figures to win over the voters while Ronnie would tell stories designed to inflame voter passions, such as the Cadillac Driving Welfare Queens. The nature of the story is intended to take advantage of prejudice, and promote through subtle means the party agenda (which would be available off-podium should someone want to peruse it). You know who won.

Barack Obama learned this lesson, somewhat, which was a factor in his victory. It also is a factor in the feelings of many independents and progressives that he failed them with his relative inactivity during his first year in office. The people of Virginia and New Jersey reflected this loss of faith through rejecting Democratic candidates for governor over a couple of guys who knew how to tell the sort of tale that the voters are conditioned to expect. This strategy worked once again in Massachusetts, where Scott Brown could drive his pickup truck around Massachusetts and earn believability with his tales. It worked so well that Coakley may well have lost even if she ran her campaign at least as well as Brown did his.

Based on post-election behaviors, this last loss finally got the message through to the Oval Office that they were in trouble. The first line of defense was to send out the spinmeisters to attempt to limit the damage, but the masterstroke was for Obama to make like Daniel and enter the Liars Den, otherwise known as the GOP issues retreat.

Due to illness, I wasn't following the news coverage as closely as I might have otherwise, but I suspect that it tended to lean in the direction of this confrontation copying a WWE cage match, but I suspect that it is going to prove to be more like a like-named episode of Outer Limits, in which an unexpected result occurs from the practice.

But it really is too soon to tell which, if either, outcome results from this meeting. Generally, the media - including the GOP-friendly New York Daily News - claim that Obama scored a knockout. Something significant did result, for the New York Daily News quoted Conservative Georgia Rep. Tom Price, head of the Republican Study Committee, who praised Obama "for his political skill" and for admitting that he broke an oath promising to negotiate all of health reform on C-SPAN. But since today's Republicans cannot lose graciously, Price launched his parting shots, calling the admission his "only moment of humility" and complained that Obama failed to answer the majority of the questions.

Only in his mind perhaps.

I haven't read through the entire transcript yet. It is so full of political boilerplate on both sides that it takes a while to find the real questions and answers. But I intend to do this and see just how well Obama really did. What I write next will determine how I treat him in my posts.

Right now, he can only go up.

Voting against our own interest and popular rage

I was looking through several different websites today and I came across an article from the BBC that talks about why President Obama and the Democrats had such a miserable time selling health care insurance reform to Americans who are most in need of it.  There are a couple of points in here that I think are slightly off, but over all it was a really good and eye opening article.  I strongly encourage you to read it.

Why do people often vote against their own interests?

I have to digest this information for a bit, but I can see how the comments in it could influence my own rhetoric in how I talk to people, what I write, and generally argue for improving the lives of the American people.  Once we understand why those who should be on our side are not, I think we can better construct our arguments to influence them.  The facts may be on our side, but there is an old joke that applies as well.  Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.  This is wise political advice and something to consider when trying to get our message across.

January 25, 2010

Obama The Franco-Italian Warrior

One thing that never fails to swell the nationalist conservative breast is the victorious performance of the domestic military. Having a swelled breast enables one to hold one's head higher and one's back straighter, both physical displays of dominance and power.

In November of 2008, a lot of people who had nothing to boast about suddenly felt that they had a champion to lead them to the victory which enables pride and respect. With hopes raised, they looked forward to the day their leader would take up the reins and lead the charge to glory.

The day the president would take up the reins arrived. The day Obama led the charge to glory did not.

Instead, Barack Obama knelt in supplication before the conservative powers-that-be, fervently asking for a bit of help - not too much! - in doing a couple of things that might benefit the American people as the fee for rescuing the Wall Street gamblers while providing Corporate America with a mandatory program of generating profit through the liberal application of national legal power.

Now, having squandered his majority through his silly sitzkrieg, now he claims he's going to fight for us? Now he thinks he would rather fight than switch?

We are fools if we believe this. It's happened before, so if we know our history, we won't.

During WWII, after the commencement of hostilities initiated through the false flag operation of Germany pretending to repulse a Polish invasion of the German town of Gleiwitz, a large force of French and British troops greatly outnumbered the token force of German troops holding the western border of Germany. Yet despite this power, the French and British armies did almost nothing to ease the desperate burden of their entreated Polish allies, not even when the Russians (at that time a German ally) stabbed the Poles in the back by invading from the other direction, launching their attack when it became clear that the French and British would do nothing to aid Poland.

The Poles were led to believe by the French high command that the western attack was causing Germany to pull troops from Poland to oppose the new assault, but in reality, the French high command ordered that no meaningful contact with German forces be sought. Then, as the Poles were going down to defeat, the French troops were withdrawn and returned to their starting positions, where they remained until the following bloody spring.

It's my opinion that the French and British at that time had no stomach for war, at least not with the horrible memories of the slaughter of the previous war still haunting their dreams. Rather than return to that nightmare, they hoped that if Hitler took Poland without their opposition, then he would be satisfied and leave them alone. Why they would think so, when allowing Hitler to take Austria and Czechoslovakia didn't slake his thirst for Poland, is beyond me.

It was this aversion to waging war that caught the French short when Hitler turned his attention to the west after splitting Poland with Stalin. After watching the Wehrmacht take Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands (while absorbing Denmark with only the threat of invasion), the French next became the target, facing battle-hardened veterans with an army that spent its time playing at war. It only took 12 days for the German Army to conquer the French along just one front. The much weaker and less well-equipped Polish army lasted 36 days while fighting on two. The legacy of this poor performance on the part of the French Army remains alive today in the American Republican insult of "surrender monkey".

On the other side of the war, the Italian Army was never developed to become the powerful force that their numbers would lead one to believe that they should have been. Every time Mussolini launched attacks (usually against advice from the German high command and the wishes of Hitler), German forces were needed to rescue the Italian Army. Often, these German forces were not spared easily from the planned war effort, yet it was seen as necessary by the German high command lest an Italian defeat stiffen the resolve of those intended to become the serfs of the Third Reich, costing more young Aryans their blissful and prosperous futures as colonial plantation owners.

It was not until American forces entered the war in North Africa that the weakness of the Italian Army began to tell. Shorted economically by Mussolini's foolish fiscal policies and depleted by Italian donations to the Republican Army of Spain during the Spanish Civil War, the Italian Army held its own against the British Army, which shared similar deficiencies in their preparedness for similar reasons. But as American weapons and planes were supplied to the British forces, the Italians were out-gunned and on the run.

The German forces sent to bolster the Italian effort -the fabled Afrika Corps- were weakened by an extended and indefensible supply line, and could only do so much to help. Losses were not replaced easily, while American factories were pumping out the weapons and the means of transportation around the clock from locations largely safe from Axis attack. Through such ample military means, the British hammer drove the Axis forces back against the American anvil, culminating in the surrender of hundreds of thousands of Axis troops, many Italian.

Despite earning the respect of their opposition for their fighting prowess, the Italians were propagandized as being poor soldiers due to a small British army defeating a much larger Italian force early in the North African Campaign. Because Italian forces had few victories after this incident, the reputation stuck. The legacy of that lies in the joke about an Italian Army rifle being for sale. It's declared to be in great condition having only been dropped once (in surrender).

I told you those stories to explain why Obama is the Franco-Italian warrior. Despite having great power and ability, he surrendered practically from the moment he began. He was clearly poorly equipped and unprepared to serve as president, so rather than fight to do what he could, he gave in so as to not ruffle his own feathers. There is no fight in him, which means he's been a mistake considering the current times. In fact, tonight on MSNBC, he was quoted as being OK with being a "good" one term president rather than a poor two-termer. I suggest that the only person he's fooling with this platitude is himself, for his performance is so poor that he isn't going to come close to being good president even if he left office immediately after tomorrow's State of the Union Address.

His immediate surrender prior to the fight means that the Democrats will have to find a way to someday overcome their new reputation as being inept, incompetent, and easy. It could take generations -assuming that the Supreme Court ruling on corporate campaign contributions doesn't kill the Republic first- for the Democrats to return to some measure of respect. And without respect, who is going to vote for them?

I just hope that the Republicans turn their attention to conquering the world quickly before they can complete the collapse of this nation. It will prove that despite the advance of technology and the passage of time, the Hitlerian strategy seeking total global dominance will once again fall short of achieving that unrealistic goal.

January 24, 2010

The Stake of the Union

Coming up this week will be President Obama's first year anniversary State of the Union speech. There has been a great deal of discussion in the media as to what Obama will discuss. But I suggest that the defeat of Martha Coakley in Massachusetts has thrown a monkey wrench into Obama's planned talk.

Tied together with the Supreme Court Citizens United ruling (which provided the means by which Corporate America will drown out the voice of the people), Obama has to scramble to save the Democratic party program. That program, created by Bill Clinton and the Democratic Leadership Council prior to Clinton's election in 1992, sought to make the Democratic Party be so corporate-friendly that the Republicans wouldn't be able to regain their prior dominance. The victory of Scott Brown put an end to the necessary control of the Congress meant to facilitate that lackey-hood just as it was finally geared up to do something. In this case, the Hare beat the Tortoise.

Now, the Democrats cannot provide the least benefit to the Main Street voters, which is intended to provide political cover to the Democrats as they serve their Wall Street masters. That least benefit was intended to be the justification for the claim that the Democrats are standing up against Wall Street for Main Street. The only problem is, we don't believe them already. There is plenty of reason not to.

Case in point: Susie Madrak of Crooks and Liars has put together a list of articles indicating that the Democrats are about to excise adults from the ban against using pre-existing conditions as a reason to refuse medical care. The selling point? Children will still be exempt from pre-existing refusals even though their parents are to be on their own. Somehow, they think that this will make the deal that provides passage of the Senate health insurance mandate bill.

Speaking as a parent, that's so nice - for my kids. What about me? I AM THE VOTER! What makes you think that covering my kids will be enough for me to fall for your BS and vote for any of you this fall? I guarantee you Democrats, it won't. Not by a long shot. I only promise that I won't vote for any Republicans either.

Some suggest that Obama will raise the unemployment issue during the SOTU speech. I say that all we will get out of him then will be lip service. For as I write this post, Wal-Mart is laying off over 11,000 low-wage workers. I can see them now, fighting against these ex-associates receiving unemployment - and getting an exemption from the law to allow this shoved through the Congress with the expenditure of about the same amount of money to buy votes that would have been enough to cover the unemployment expenses in the first place. Let them eat cake, Waltons? Or would you prefer to serve meadow muffins? Fresh and hot from your dainty derrières?

The same goes for the foreclosure fiasco. China is buying up everything in sight, so why mess with success? The banks are making a killing offloading foreclosed commercial properties to the Chinese, who are desperate to offload dollars for something of tangible worth before there is no value to the US Dollar. Why not make hay while the Bernanke sun shines rather than help those who are going to be stuck with the bill anyway?

Too late, the mainstream media is taking up the examination of Obama's shortcomings. This should have begun just about a year ago, but the non-"conservative" portion of the media was too busy protecting Obama from legitimate criticism along with the other crap being hurled by the ton from the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly. And what good did it do us?

No good at all. Obama is going to do what he wants no matter what we say. The fact that Obama is threatening retaliation if the renomination of Ben Bernanke is blocked speaks volumes. Tied to the SCOTUS ruling and Coakley's loss, Obama might as well be standing in front of the New York Stock Exchange and shouting that it will continue to be business as usual no matter what he says to the voters. The Democratic Party goal must be achieved through whatever means possible. If that requires asking America's corporate class to demand that the people support the postponement of the November elections (due to an arranged terrorist act of some variety?) in order to prevent the GOP from taking power, then why not? "If you can't beat them, be them," Rahm always says.

And they will. They have little reason not to. Not now. For as blogger Richard Power observes: the weeks, months and years ahead, there will likely be no difference [between the parties] at all -- because of Citizens United...

At least not until one corporate-backed party gets so dominant that they can declare the other competitive corporate-backed party to be illegal. When they decide that there is no reason for a Congress or a Supreme Court anymore, and that the President can rule by decree as he sees fit, it will thus be necessary for you to decide now what you are willing to allow - and what you are willing to do to defend your position. Will you knuckle under for personal security, or will you stand for national principle?

Time is rapidly running out. You need to decide before a decision is thrust upon you by circumstance.

So listen carefully to the State of the Union speech. Just don't believe everything you hear him say - at least not as he intends you to believe it.

January 21, 2010

American Democracy: Bought and Sold

The Supreme Court of the United States acted as expected.  Early today they freed corporations from restrictions limiting the amount of money they can spend to buy politicians.  This ruling wasn't unexpected, but that doesn't mean it isn't outrageous or damning.  You see, the sheer volume of money businesses have to "lobby" our elected officials far exceeds our own.  It was already bad enough.  Just look at Joe "I'm in bed with the insurance companies" Lieberman.  There is always John "I don't know anything about computers but I'm going to sell out the internet" McCain.  These men don't care what the people want.  They do what their corporate masters tell them to do.

Honestly, I'm far to angry over this to even try and be witty or funny.  I'm nearly at a loss for words.  I thought we weathered the storm of the Bush administration, even if we were hurting pretty badly.  Then, in a matter of three days we see the voters of Massachusetts reject a Democrat and the loss of the voice of the people.  It's said that terrible things happen in threes.  I'm mortified at the idea of what will come next.  After all, the third thing is always the worst.

Forgive the fact that this looks like melodrama or hyperbole.  This isn't.  You have just witnessed the death of democracy in America.  When you are old and grey, you can tell your grandkids you were there the day they were sold back into servitude to the elitist bastards who want to worshipped as gods among men.

January 19, 2010

We Tried To Tell You, Barry!

Now that Martha Coakley has croaked the Obama's administration's ambitions, you are going to see the GOP crow triumphant, the Tea Baggers encouraged to run amok, an increased amount of activity as dissatisfied voters band together to seek options other than these two, and a business community that has no need to fear real regulation any longer.

In other words, Obamastein's Monster is on the loose.

There are many potential outcomes of this night's conclusion of the Obama Era. Some might well have proved beneficial for the nation if there were respect and civility in our politics. But I doubt that will be the result. The Tea Baggers are on the move, and taking over the GOP and warping it to reflect their views will prove to be ridiculously simple. Then it really gets ugly.

Once accomplished, they will run Sarah Palin, maybe teamed up with Michele Bachmann, as the faces of their party. But the likes of Dick Armey (who gives the name "dick" an odious connotation) and Newt Gingrich (who never failed to chase and catch a mass movement leadership position from well behind the crowd's starting position) will be the ones actually running things. The membership will be the ones tasked with recruiting and/or "stressing" the opposition's members.

And that will prove only to be the beginning of the end of this nation as we've known it.

Heck of a job, Barry. Just stick to your game plan of ignoring the past and looking only forward. It's not a bad strategy now that you blew your chances, for as the late, great Satchel Paige once declared, "don't look back—something might be gaining on you."

It will smell like strong tea.

January 18, 2010

On The Edge Of Grateness

The election in Massachusetts to select Ted Kennedy's replacement is generating a great deal of discussion. The portents are that Obama is about to take a serious hit to his power, squandered in an attempt to run the nation that he wished he had and not the nation that is.

The people of Massachusetts are now just as likely to select Scott Brown as Martha Coakley, yet the cognitive dissonance that the Obama Era may be at an end generates some interesting observations. One such is that of William Rivers Pitt, who in a recent op-ed written for Truthout opined that "The calamities of Republican rule are still too fresh in mind for people to turn on a dime and embrace their madness again."

Au contraire, mon frère! That condition ended four years ago, not last week! The Democrats were given majority power as of November 2006, and then had it strengthened in 2008. People have since been waiting with decreasing patience for Obama to deliver on promises made overtly or implied during the campaign, and the Republicans eagerly remind them of every one of these every chance they get.

Just what has Obama given the people of America using this record political firepower? He's given them a rescued banking system which continues to abuse them with high loan interest and low numbers of loan approvals. He's given them oppressive credit card rules and no relief from foreclosure. He's seeking to impose an expensive and mandatory medical insurance while jobs continue to be lost. And so very much more that isn't seen as being beneficial on Main Street.

So tell me again - why should the people stand with Obama?

Smarter politicians than Obama see the reality writing on the wall: they are going to be blamed for Obama's failures this fall. There is no one else available to feel the wrath of the people over these issues except those of the party which Obama leads.

One of the most vulnerable House Democrats, Rep. Vic Snyder (D-Ark.), decided that he needed to spend more time with his family rather than run for re-election. Despite representing "the most Democratic-friendly district in Arkansas", Snyder apparently had no money to run a tough re-election campaign, and a SurveyUSA poll showed him trailing 17 percent behind his Republican challenger. Supporting Obama's agenda hurt him with the hometown voters. A majority of his constituents clearly disapproved of this.

Snyder just needed to sellout to those who have the money, as apparently Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski has. Sen. Murkowski is clearly in the pocket of Southern Co. ($38,000), Duke Energy ($22,550), CSX, Progress Energy, and other top utility and energy companies. The total of their generosity in donations since 2004 equals more than $124,500. In return, she did the bidding of these "customers" by introducing an amendment to the Clean Air Act as part of an energy industry campaign to limit the scope of greenhouse gas regulations. Such yeo(wo)manly service saved these companies millions, showing that she was an excellent investment.

There is clearly money in pay-to-play. There is nothing to match it coming from We, the People. We're far too poor. We work for a living, and we know that doesn't pay very well.

One thing that the ridiculous health care "reform" effort has exposed is just how much money is transferred between "our" elected representatives and the private commercial sector. It is seen by these firms as insurance against higher expenses imposed by law. Corporations will gladly contribute money for the right to craft a pending bill in ways that benefit the donor.

One such example is the "Safeway Amendment" which allows insurance premiums to be higher for employees who fail certain physical fitness tests. The current Senate bill also allows for this provision as of the bill's passage. What a coincidence! The American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society say this amendment breaks Obama's promise that people's health status would not affect the cost of their insurance premiums, but there isn't much hope that this provision will disappear from the final bill. It is supported both by Democrats and Republicans, and is one of the items that bought-and-paid-for President Obama himself desires to see in the final bill.

But the final bill's passage is anything but a sure thing. The race to fill Ted Kennedy's seat in Massachusetts is giving the Republicans the opportunity they have sought since the beginning of Obama's term. That is to eliminate the possibility that they just might lose a major power-play cloture vote. They have largely been successful in peeling off Blue Dog votes when the issue is important enough, but this isn't always the case. For as the final Senate bill vote demonstrated Christmas Eve, even the Blue Dogs will heel when their leashes are tugged hard enough by the Oval Office. They just don't feel the pull very often, or very quickly.

In an interview with Paul G. Kirk Jr. -the 123rd person in the history of the Senate to serve six months or less- Kirk revealed that he was the 60th vote nine times to break Republican filibusters, including 4 regarding the Senate health care bill, out of 97 total votes he cast. That means that roughly ten percent of the time spent in the Senate was used putting down obstructive Republican recalcitrance. If Brown wins, that will come to a screaming halt.

That is what made the race between Democratic State Attorney General Martha Coakley and Republican State Senator Scott Brown such an important effort for the GOP. Winning that seat would eliminate the 60 vote filibuster-killer advantage of the Democrats, which would then force Majority Leader Harry Reid to resort to Senate rule trickery (as the Republicans often did during their tenure as the majority party under Dubya in order to eliminate Democratic party interference with their bills) and provide yet another free weapon for the Republicans to use in the fall campaign to retake the House. Maybe even the Senate, although that's a long shot according to experts. Obama will then be reduced to pursuing the "bipartisanship" he insisted upon from the beginning.

In order to enhance their prospects, the Republicans appear to be returning to their tried-and-true methods of winning: cheating. Daily Kos has posted an alert naming Erick Erickson of the RedState blog as the organizer of an attempt to tie up Coakley's phone bank. You can check this out for yourself at these links and decide if the charge is valid.

In addition to grass roots pranks, the Fat Wallets of Wall Street -freshly engorged with "record profits"- are opening to disgorge mass quantities of cash intended to aid Scott Brown's effort. Think Progress reports that Wall Street front groups FreedomWorks and Club for Growth are actively aiding Brown, whom they charge is "teaming up with Wall Street bankers to kill financial reform and preserve a system of Bush-era unfettered capitalism."

And then there is the use of Diebold machines to tally the ballots.

It's likely that these tactics will work, for this mostly white state is, in the words of New York Times columnist Charles Blow, bubbling with discontent regarding Obama.

Blow reports that after one year, Obama has the lowest approval rating in the 30 years among whites, differing from the other president of this period by 10 to 36 percent (New York Times and CBS News polls). To add insult to injury, a Quinnipiac University poll found that most whites think that Obama has been a worse president than George W. Bush. "Whites are now fuming at him," says Blow.

In the comment section to the William Rivers Pitt post, here are some examples of the anger people express:

Sat, 01/16/2010 - 04:17 — Anonymous (not verified)

The hoi polloi are energized. They know that Obama's so-called health "insurance" reform is not going to help them at all. The people are smart enough to realize that Obama and the Democrats (and, yes, I WAS a Democrat!), have sucked up to the corporatists, just the like Cheney/Bush regime. Face it. If Brown wins, it'll be a referendum on Obama and the Democratic Congress. Sad, but true. So, MA voters may well put Brown into the Senate. Well, we'll live through it. Maybe it'll be a wake-up call for the Dems and Obama who lift their proverbial middle finger at us.

Sat, 01/16/2010 - 15:00 — Anonymous (not verified)

A lot of the anger out there results from the Dems calling a subsidy to the insurance industry a health care reform measure. Most Obama voters took him at face value when he he argued for progress and change. These same people now have little left but 'faint hope'.

And the counter fire from the Democratic Party battery? Visits from Bill Clinton and Barack Obama in support of a candidate who isn't helping herself any. As if!

Too late, Democratic party officials are realizing their errors could very well hurt their prospects. And yet, Brown has been tossing them softballs to hit out of the park if the Democrats had bothered to pick up a bat!

Jonathan Chait of The New Republic looks at the consequences of Obama's failures and declares, "you did nothing on the issue that consumed most of your time" and implies that Democrats "wait for your November beating as a failed Congress running with a failed president."

Was this worth pursuing "bipartisanship", Barry? Heck of a job!

Win or lose, Obama now owns the health care bill. He would have been better served to have gotten involved a whole lot sooner than he did. Now, there really is no good alternative -especially if Coakley loses Tuesday- except to dump the health insurance reform bill.

BuzzFlash columnist Steven Jonas, MD, is especially scathing in his advocacy regarding dumping the Senate bill, saying "There are many reasons to hope that the current health care deform monstrosity doesn't get through Congress just so that Obama/Emmanuel can say that they have produced 'something.'"

Obama needs to cut his losses on health insurance reform, for the time has come to deal with other issues before the looming consequences are irreversible.

But in the fall, other problems lurk to plague Obama:

  • The Financial Times -a conservative business newspaper- supports Obama's effort to "tax the banks to cover the cost they have imposed on society" in bailing them out of their foolishness. He should have started with this position, not come to it too late to have any advantage.

  • There is restoring the balance between the economy and the consumers who see inflation rising as their wages fall.

  • There is the massive unemployment which plagues one of his most staunch blocs of support - minorities: 17.2% for African Americans and 13.9 for Latinos. Both groups overwhelmingly supported him in 2008.

The last problem Obama faces this fall is from his own camp. Can he afford for Harold Ford to slide in to New York from Tennessee and become the next Joe Lieberman? Ford will likely prove to be another reliably corporatist vote.

Obama will then at that point have nothing left but surrender to the inevitable: do the best he can in the last couple of years, then stand aside so that someone else can run. He will be as finished as LBJ after the Tet Offensive revealed to the American people that they were betrayed by liars - and for the same reason.

January 16, 2010

The Approaching Storm

As of the moment I write this, my Southern California home region is awaiting a week-long dousing by Mother Nature. To put it into some kind of a perspective for those of you who have never experienced the Pineapple Express, a one-hit-wonder named Hammond Albert wrote a song entitled IT NEVER RAINS IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, later covered by Barry Manilow if you're into his music.

Contained in the chorus are the following lines:

It never rains in California

But girl, don't they warn ya

It pours man it pours.

He isn't kidding. It can and does happen. It's about to happen.

We are told by the Weather Service that we can expect up to 8 inches of rain in Downtown Los Angeles and a foot or more in the mountains over the next seven days. What this will produce is a lot of entertainment for the disaster ghouls who are getting a little bored with the Haitian Earthquake. You will get to see more Hollywood lib'ruls lose their multimillion-dollar Malibu mansions as the ground beneath them collapses from the water. You might even get to see some serious flooding inland, which tends not to happen very often. This storm is likely to affect as many conservative Orange County Republicans who live out the same foolish residential fantasies as their much-maligned political rivals up the coast.

The Populist Manifesto is a political commentary website. I don't provide this report about the coming weather unless there is a connection. The connection is: this nation is facing away from the approach of metaphorical storms which will cause as much havoc (allowing for variances equaling orders of magnitude) as either the Haitian Earthquake or The Great Southern California Flush.

The United States is so deep in debt that there is a realistic expectation that it can never be fully repaid. But the biggest single expenditure of the government -the military budget- isn't about to be touched, for it is needed to conquer the rest of the world and put it all under our national control for the benefit of the owners of the government - the private commercial sector. Everything else is subject to curtailment or elimination in order to facilitate this insane goal. You ARE expendable in this effort.

But while the American armor appears to be strong and shiny on the outside, the inner portion suffers from malevolent neglect. Our industrial base -vital to any nation at war- has been shipped across indefensible oceans, something that isn't a good idea as our military planners should have learned from our success against Japan in WWII. Despite the much-vaunted abilities of the US Navy, they were seriously surprised by an undetected Chinese sub surfacing about one mile away from a US carrier -a guaranteed kill, according to experts- during the conduct of an anti-submarine exercise which should have detected it. This incident tells us two things: We cannot protect our lines of supply. We cannot protect our means to wage war.

Another vital item necessary to conduct global war is money. This nation is broke. The entire economic output of the US -estimated as of the end of the third quarter of 2009 at $14,242.1 billion- wouldn't completely cover the amount of money that has been promised to back up the Wall Street banks which put the world's economy on the skids. The Federal Reserve admits to some $2 trillion being supplied to the banks by the taxpayers, but we don't really know because they won't reveal the true numbers. MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan claimed on his 1/15/10 episode that the amount promised to the banks to be closer to $24 trillion.

That would put the GDP at only about 60% of the amount promised to the banks. Or, every dollar generated by the US economy for almost TWO years is now seen by the Wall Street banks as promised to them. Who cares if you eat! There are executive bonuses to be paid lest we lose their talents to competitors! You ARE expendable in this effort!

It isn't that simple, however, for we officially already owe over $12 trillion to various nations and private entities for our governmental and private sector debt. Of this, about $3 trillion is owed by the government. Of this, about 24% is owed to China, and another 20% is owed to Japan. Both nations are in the middle of adjusting their banking policies, and are expected to tighten their lending standards. Chinese banks have already been ordered to increase their reserves, which means they have fewer funds available to buy little things like US Treasury Bills. Japan is worrying about slipping back into the recession they endured for over 15 years due to their fiscal imprudence - a path the US seems intent on following. They aren't going to have much to invest in US debt.

We won't go into the amount of debt that is held by other economic rivals. I think the point of how vulnerable the US economy is to foreign action to be clear.

Just like our ocean supply lines being indefensible, what are we to do if our international enablers creditors stop funding our wars of conquest due to domestic necessity if not political disapproval? We could print money like it is going out of style, but that didn't work for Weimar Germany nor for Zimbabwe. Eventually, Israeli Arms, Beretta, and the National Armory of Taiwan will hesitate to accept greenbacks for cases of full metal jackets, and domestic sources already struggle to catch up to the relatively small emergency orders placed by the Pentagon. How does one wage war with unloaded weapons?

There is an important lesson that the most ardent American GI Joe wannabee needs to understand: John Wayne is dead. We no longer have the means to wage war with impunity. That ability has been sold out to the lowest bidder to ensure the maximum profit by those who need defending the most - the corporate sector. Those foreign banks who now control the purse strings will at some point become less willing to tolerate our excesses, and could very well cut off their contribution to our ongoing blood lust. It may well prove to be in the interests of their own survival to do so.

That is when the storm hits, for Our American Way of Life will be threatened. We Americans would rather fight than switch - no matter how good for us switching would be. We just won't have much to fight with, and a lot to fight against. We can't go on pissing on the world and expect them to do our bidding when it's becoming clear to them that we have had our day as King of the Hill. They are all getting ready for the time when we get challenged for the lead. Are we?

If one were a student of Sun-Tzu, one would realize just how foolish our warrior leaders are. But who is the bigger fool? The one who makes foolish war plans ensuring defeat, or the fool who follows him blindly?

I guess we get to provide the answer to that with our future. You ARE expendable in that effort.

January 15, 2010

A couple of things.

First, I'd like to welcome Realist as a new contributor to this blog.  I'm thrilled to have him here.  When I started this project I was hoping to get others involved as well.  The idea is to get people thinking and talking.  The goal is to wake people up!  I firmly believe that he will help in that goal.  I've read some of his writings from other places and I am pleased that he wants to use this venue as another means of getting people thinking and acting.  Plus, with a second writer, I expect that there will be more activity here.

And on that note we arrive to my second point on the agenda.  You may have noticed that a pretty good deal of time has gone by without any activity at all.  I'd like to blame it on a hectic life and too much work. While that is a factor, the major issue is a great deal more embarrassing.  I locked myself out of the house.  You see, for a while there I couldn't remember the log in info.  As you might have guessed, I've fixed that. As such, there will be much more coming your way from me.  Think of it as value added.  Now you get articles from a couple of contributors for the same low price of free!

See you soon.


January 14, 2010

Greetings, Earthlings!

Allow me to introduce myself. I blog as Realist on, usually but not exclusively under the Politics section. I also occasionally write reviews of music and books there. But enough about that. You can look me up there when you decide to know more.

Why am I now writing on The Populist Manifesto? America as we all know it is in great danger. We all tend to agree on this. Where we differ is in the nature of the danger, what it means, and -most importantly- what to do about it.

Those who consider themselves conservatives feel that their traditional values are under assault. They aren't wrong in this belief. But because they aren't wrong, they have gone immediately into attack mode and are not interested in the subtle nuances of why their values are under assault, or by whom or what. They don't care about nuance. They want things the way they have always been and that is that. Either you stand with them against change, or you are the enemy. There is no in-between.

For those of us who consider ourselves anything OTHER than conservative, our values have been under assault for decades. We who believe in fairness and equality have had to watch powerless as privilege and social class connections dominate. We who believe in equality have watched as the defenders of privilege and connection coalesced into a quasi-white-power collection of "traditional" elitists. We who believe in the dignity of labor have endured repeated assaults both on our rights as labor and our economic opportunities, continuously pushed both by our employers and their elected lackeys into "voluntarily" surrendering our rights in order to remain employed. Yet we had too long trusted that this was still the America where differences in opinion and action were respected by those who disagree. We allowed ourselves to be made into lesser beings with diminished rights and power.

There is no need to recite the numerous instances which demonstrate that our particular traditional America is now merely a historical artifact. It is sufficient to note that the effects of this do not just affect the US. They also affect the world.

Because we have been eating ourselves and our nation from the inside, consuming our future in the contest for control, we have allowed our status as a world leader to deteriorate to the point that many nations are now vying to be our replacement. China is the dominant player in this game, but the others (with whom China is attempting for form more formal alliances) include Russia and India. China is the one rival which deserves much more attention from Americans, but our media doesn't present the issues in a sports-like format that would keep our attention long enough to learn something. That, however, isn't going to stop me from trying. China will be a regular topic here.

Domestic politics is going to also be a frequent subject. I do not belong to either the Democratic Party or the Republican Party, for they are but two-faces of the American Corporatist Power Party, owned and operated by interchangeable and shifting rival factions of the American commercial interests. With the "debate" over the abomination that is presented to us as "health insurance reform", we all can see just how much control over events the corporations wield. They don't even bother to hide it anymore. They know they have the power and that there isn't much We, the People can do about it.

Where this is going to lead and what it will likely mean are going to be the themes of my posts here. I hope that you find them worthy of reading, commenting upon, and referring to others as you deem suitable.