Sunday, September 26, 2010

Republicans: The Fool’s Gold of Politics

I keep wondering just how low the republican party can fall and still retain its now nominal designation as a political entity. Fool’s Gold springs to mind whenever a Republican operative takes the stage to promise something to his nominal constituency. They have taken on all the characteristics of the old Medicine Men, or snake oil salesmen of old.  All they need is a covered wagon and a bedraggled horse to pull them around.
One would imagine that, having been thrown out of office, really summarily dismissed by the American people after eight years of disastrous maladministration that has left the nation and the world fairly reeling with ”shock und awe” at the sheer immensity of their ill deeds and their effects, the Republican party might have begun thinking again. The 2008 election might have served a normal party as a kind of electroshock therapy, bringing them to their senses.
But no, they have instead spent the past two years avoiding governance—that’s the true effect of their “Just Say No” approach to the problems facing the nation—problems created by them.
And now, they have produced their “Pledge to America”, another form of their earlier “Contract On America” dreamed up by their old style hit man, Newt Gingrich. The Pledge is breathtaking for its utter inanity.  It promises things they cannot possibly deliver, at least within this universe—perhaps in some alternative universe.  The Pledge is all Fool’s Gold, all the time.  From reducing the deficit
to “reforming” health care, they seem to have no clue to just how vacuous their promises appear. Most thinking middle schoolers could take it apart for its foolishness.
And then there are the candidates nominated by Rupert Murdoch’s Tea Party.  An ex-witch who doesn’t  even understand the concept of evolution? Really guys, an ex-witch? That’s all you got?
Maybe this is the last joke of the Baby Boomers ?? When do you suppose, they will pop out from behind the curtain and say, “heh heh, heh, just kidding.”

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Party of Dr. No

So, Dr. No has finally released its legislative agenda, just in time for the elections. They are trying, they say, to demonstrate that they can do more than say No. With their agenda, they take on more the character of Dr. No, that legendary film character who sought to disrupt the world for his own purposes.

So, what is on their agenda?

1. Deny health care to 50 million people, probably more since, with a 10% unemployment rate there are doubtless millions more who now have no health care, but who might have under the Obama plan. That will cease under the Party of Dr. No.

2. And speaking of health care, it seems clear that the conservatives, joined at the hip by the Lipton Tea Party of Rupert Murdoch and Glenn Beck, will go even beyond the Obama health care and move on shortly thereafter to Medicare. Teabaggers may not want the Government messing with their Medicare, but they won’t have to worry any longer—the conservatives want to kill it too.

3. Vastly increase the National Debt. Beginning immediately, the Party of Dr. No will keep intact the Bush giveaway of billions to the wealthiest members of our nation, thereby adding close to a trillion dollars to our national debt. Conservatives do so hate paying bills. Talk about generational theft. These guys are past masters at generational thievery.

4. Eliminate Social Security. Now this scheme is pure Dr. No kind of genius. Only a true evil genius would dream up “Privatizing Social Security.” By “privatizing”, they mean that they would give control of the Social Security Trust Fund to the same bankers who led Lehman Brothers into a garbage can, and the other financial whiz kids who caused the meltdown of the global financial system.

5. Replace Nancy Pelosi with John Boehner as Speaker. Boehner, as we know, was one of the author’s of the Newt’s Contract On America, and would begin serving immediately as the top conservative hit man for anything the NRA, the health insurance industry and the extractive energy industry would like to see enacted. Like the National Debt, he thinks Global Warming will go away if we only stop talking about it.

Where’s James Bond when we need him?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Daily Read

So, Ahmedinjhad has arrived in the Big Apple. Haven’t New Yorkers had enough trauma lately? Hell, he’s almost as annoying as Newt Gingrich. And just when they thought they were done with the “Ground Zero (aka Burlington Coat factory) debate”. We can only hope that Ahmawhat’shisname isn’t so intent on convincing the world that he’s really an ok Joe, that he doesn’t turn his mind to the Mosque thingie, as in maybe donating some of the proceeds from his illegal drug sales to help finance the mosque. Oops, I forgot, that would be our man in Kabul, Mr. President Karzai.

But, like our Kenyan Islamic President doesn’t have enough to worry about. I wonder, does he have to provide Secret Service protection to Ahmedinejhad. And, if so, do these guys have to promise to leap in front of assassin’s bullets to protect and preserve this guy? Can’t you just imagine the detail selection process?

“Ok, so we’re drawing straws. The short straw gets to jump in front of bullets aimed at Achamadinajihad’s . The long straw gets to jump in front of Tea Party members trying to throw wet tea bags at President Obama. Man, those dudes seriously need to get a life.”

But I understand that the real agenda being discussed in New York is this issue of the big plan to eliminate poverty in the third world. I wonder whether that includes Alabama and Mississippi.? It would really be great if they could assure that the kids in Somalia get adequate health care, you know before the Al Qaida dudes “recruit” them into the people’s armies of wherever. Wouldn’t want them to lack their shots before blowing themselves up in marketplaces, now would we?

And elsewhere, I just perused an article in The Atlantic about Boomers. It’s all about the “self-absorbed, self-indulgent generation” born between 1946 and 1964. One of the author’s assertions is that the Boomers should,” Instead of arguing about whose fault our current fiscal mess is and who should pay for it, Boomers as an age cohort should just grab the check and say, ‘this one’s on us.’” Yeah, and maybe they can get Gordon Gecko to make that pronouncement. Hahahahahaha.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Insecurity of Great Wealth

Americans are becoming increasingly anxious about the state of the American economy, especially among wealthier Americans. I guess it’s understandable, when you think that their big tax break created by the George W, aka The Big Dummy. Remember him? He decided that budget surpluses, created by Clinton tax policies, was a bad idea. So, instead of using the surpluses to pay down the National Debt, he decided instead to return to standard conservative economic policies, like “charge and spend.” Apparently conservatives only talk negatively about deficits when a Democrat is in the White House.

So, with Obama promising to end the tax breaks for the wealthier part of our nation, the wealthies are showing concern. But then I began thinking. Who actually creates jobs in the American economy? And why would these wealthy people be so concerned? Well, jobs are created generally by people investing in new companies and even in new industries. And who does that . . . the Government? Hmm . . . no, not really. I know, I know, the Government creates some jobs by spending money, as they did with the stimulus, and by doing things like the Census. Now, I think Obama is missing something like putting big money on the stump to create a new industry in , let’s call it “new energy.” Give out large grants to people and companies to create new economically viable energy sources. But, I know what would happen. The Tea Party (aka republicans) would immediately start shouting, “get the government out of our energy businesses.”

So, then I ask myself, if not Government, who should be making the investments to create new jobs, to replace the jobs lost by republican economic policies, and the policies of our CEOs who stressed low cost by outsourcing all of our jobs to China? Who? Well, wouldn’t that be the wealthy financial investment managers, the ones who are now lobbying so hard to avoid paying any taxes? Yeah, that’s the group. But then why are they feeling insecure . . . because they know that they have no plans to invest in new industries? And they know also, that they don’t want Obama making such investments? Yeah, that’s the group. The bankers and the financial investment managers who caused the current crisis of confidence. And I guess they’re worried because they realize what assholes they are and how unlikely they are to begin making any investments that are actually productive. They are so used to making monumentally stupid investments, like real estate scams, that they apparently have forgotten how to do anything useful.

Ok, now I get it.

And just so you don’t think the world is entirely bleak, I read about the Belgians who have begun to demand that they and their families be “debaptized”, i.e., officially removed from the rolls of the Catholic Church. Apparently Belgians are not amused by the Catholic Church hierarchy’s habit of abusing children placed in their care. Wow, what a concept.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Gingrich Crazy

Mr. Gingrich, the former republican recently was heard to mumble, "What if [Obama] is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together [his actions]?" Gingrich asks. "That is the most accurate, predictive model for his behavior."

"This is a person who is fundamentally out of touch with how the world works, who happened to have played a wonderful con, as a result of which he is now president," Gingrich tells us.

"I think he worked very hard at being a person who is normal, reasonable, moderate, bipartisan, transparent, accommodating -- none of which was true," Gingrich continues. "In the Alinksy tradition, he was being the person he needed to be in order to achieve the position he needed to achieve . . . He was authentically dishonest."


Using the Gingrich (Dinesh DaSouza) way of characterizing our President, perhaps we might begin describing Mr. Gingrich in similar terms, to wit:

Mr. Gingrich’s views of any African American can best be understood by assuming that he believes himself to be an unreconstructed southern plantation owner of the pre-Civil war genre.

Now that is but one of several ways to characterize Mr. Gingrich. Another possibility is to view Mr. Gingrich as an alien life form from the planet Saturn, whose people colonized Saturn 60,000 years ago, and now plan on taking control of the third planet from the sun. As a representative of the Saturnian general military pre-invasion force, he has been charged with determining whether the earth's population has finally succumbed to terminal craziness, at which point they would be open to being taken over by an alien culture.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Economics: The Dismal Science

I was listening to an NPR program the other day and they were interviewing a man who had just written a book on what he called “the upside to irrationality.” Odd, I thought. Well, maybe not, if you’re an economist. I have always had a rather dim view of economists, and the field of economics. I think of economics as a kind of dumb science, by which I mean, not really a science at all. Economics seems to be an adjunct to mathematics, or maybe statistics, in which some math is applied to last year’s economic performance in an attempt to explain it. Kind of like a weatherman trying to explain last year’s weather.

But I digress.

This fellow, an economist from a prominent university, was explaining his view that the term “rational” means a strictly cost-benefit calculation related to achieving something one wants. In his view, including other factors, like potentially unpleasant side-effects that might affect other people, would be “irrational.” This rather odd definition of the term “rational” derives from, apparently, the field of micro-economics, in which they adopt strict cost-benefit modeling approaches that ignore what they refer to as “externalities.” So, if I want to produce power, I would calculate the varying ways of producing that power and arrive at the least expensive way, regardless of the effects that method might have of, say polluting the environment. To include such “irrationalities” would be, in his view “irrational” (see BP Oil).

Now, to be fair, the man wasn’t really arguing that we should all operate in this strictly “rational” manner, ignoring the effects on our fellow man of our actions. But, the longer he spoke, the more I realized that he was in fact describing much of American business, especially big business (or “bidness”, depending on how close to Texas you live).

Now, if we examine the term “rational” as just a word, it seems to mean, “sensible”, or “agreeable to reason”, or even, “sound judgment”, or “good sense.” See, it has nothing to do with the economist’s sense of the word.

Now, what does this have to do with anything? Well, it occurs to me that American business people have been and perhaps still are being trained in schools of business, or economics, to explicitly ignore the ethical dimension of business decision-making. It seems almost as though “business ethics” is another of those infamous oxymorons, like military intelligence. Maybe, if economists would refrain from corrupting the English language with perverse definitions that lead directly to ethically corrupt decisions and decision theories, the world might be a better, safer place in which the rest of us might live. It might also prevent idiocies like the Great Depression of the 1930s, and the Great Depression II of the 2010’s.

Just a thought.

And on yet another planet, the Tea Partiers, after yelling that our President ought be impeached, are arguing that they have figured out the way to achieve Great Depression III—just elect them and they will assure its happening.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Games (Old) People Play

I think we (my wife and I) do a pretty good job at pretending this aging stuff is happening to other people, but not, heaven forfend, to us. We live each day as fully as possible; we eat healthily, we exercise, and we admire one another, especially when compared with our “seniors”—“he’s actually younger than we are, but he really looks much older.”

But the other day, we encountered one of those arresting moments that cause the curtain to be parted on our game. We received our notices that our drivers’ licenses needed to be renewed (every five years, like clockwork). So we got hold of the signs cheat sheet, so we wouldn’t fail to recognize what a stop sign looks like, when the word “Stop” is removed (why do they think you should be able to recognize a warning sign when it has no words on it?) We did our homework diligently and then came our appointed day. We drove over to the Drivers’ License Bureau. What happens, I wondered, when people fail the test and they have to drive home with, essentially no license? Do they tow your car and make you get a taxi???

So, we went in. I took the test, missed one blank sign (a left leaning triangle thingie), took two eye tests, and managed to pass the one with my glasses (my ophthalmologist told me that he didn’t care whether I wore glasses for driving, since my eyesight seems to be about the same, with or without my glasses. Apparently, the license bureau doesn’t agree (maybe I could get them to speak with my eye doc). But, at least I passed. Then I sat with my wife awaiting the picture guy. He joked that he would give me a great picture, retouched to make me look younger, instead of like the usual Alcatraz felon (oops, another aging sign--Alcatraz hasn't been a federal prison for decades).

So, after having both passed our renewal exams, we left the building to drive home legally. Our license is good for another five years—that would be December 17th, 2015. And then it hit me. On December 17th, 2015, I will be 81. That’s eighty one for god’s sake. I’ll be an octogenarian—80ish, as in 81. Holy mackerel. How did that happen? I know, they say that 60 is the new 40 . . . yeah, yeah. So, what’s 81 . . . the new 79???



Wonder whether the Beckhole and Sarah Barbie will still be around then?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Faces of Evil

How is one to come to grips with a theoretically Christian outreach program that is willing to endanger our troops in order to bring attention to itself? I have coined a term for this and used it in prior postings—the Christian Taliban. Look closely at the faux Christian leader below, for he represents one of several Faces of Evil present in America today. That he is an anti-American goes without saying. His Koran burning accomplishes no useful purpose, except perhaps to give him some publicity for his pathetic pseudo-church. That he is willing to take such a step when faced with the almost certain knowledge that somewhere, perhaps in Afghanistan, some of our troops might die as a direct result of his actions, places him squarely in the role of Anti-American Christian Taliban. We know what evil looks like.

And elsewhere, on yet another planet, John Boehner is promising the American people that, if we give him control of the Congress in November, he will do all in his power to return us to the dark days of the Shrub administration—remember that bunch? The ones who gave us an unnecessary war, the worst economy since the 1930s and the largest budget deficits in the nation’s history? I guess, if you liked George W. Bush and Dickie Bird Cheney, you’re going to love John Boehner and his crowd.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Granfaloon Called Life

Yesterday, I was driving along in our downtown area, and I noticed a car ahead with a sign, more than a bumper sticker, plastered on its trunk. The sign, in big bold letters said, “Death is coming. Where will you be going?” The sign summarized for me one of several fundamental reasons organized religion makes me alternately laugh or cry—it’s focus on death and the aftermath. It seems as though organized religion keeps telling its body faithful to hold on, death is coming, and then everything will be just grand. Apparently, being dead is way better than living. Life is simply a necessary step to achieving death and its aftermath—Maybe life is just one Granfalloon, whereas we treat it as a karass.

I keep wondering. If life is really so shitty, and death so wonderful, how come the body faithful don’t just all up and off themselves (some do, of course-see Iraq)? Oh, but then I keep reminding myself. The lords and masters of the real granfaloons—the high priests—frown on offing yourself; mainly I think, because it would cause them to become suddenly unemployed, and without a fawning public.

One would think that this far into the 21st century for heaven’s sake, mankind would have come up with something preferable to “life’s a bitch and then you die” as its mantra. But the power trip experienced by priests everywhere keeps the game going, I guess. It surely is the explanation for the Beckhole’s constant search for religious infamy on TV. I mean, in any rational universe, he would be pond scum. But here, we treat him as though he has something to say . . . oh and we pay him obscene amounts of money to con us.

It’s enough to discourage anyone.

And meanwhile, on still another planet, Sarah Barbie is still wriggling to free herself from her own verbal gaffes.