Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Buying the GOP

So Michelle Bachman says now that she was, “just joking” when she commented that God had decided that she needed to send a message to the heathens, and so she ordered both an earthquake and hurricane.  Did seem a bit like “overkill”. I mean she could have done one or the other, but both?? But it’s good to know that God is still ok, or so Michelle now tells us. What a kidder, huh??  I Mean, she talks to her almightiness every day, so one could assume that Michelle would know whether the Godster was making angry noises at us Dems and libs.  Why is it, that I get this uneasy feeling whenever Michelle laughs—she’s so . . . creepy.  But I suppose all batshit crazy folks are like that, huh?? Maybe she was off her meds when she made the joke. I always wonder whether Michelle and Glenn Beck are on the same meds.

But my really big wonderment is how much the Koch’s and their allies-in-crime had to pay when they bought the Republican Party, or possibly what the rent is, if all they did was to rent the party for a decade or so.  And how was the sale advertised. I mean, I never saw it in TV, or the radio (of course, they were unlikely to advertise it on PBS or NPR, huh? I guess the Faux News Network carried the ads. I envision an ad something like that below, with a banner –ALL SALES FINAL! Maybe it was put up for auction on E-Bay.  Who knows, but I’ll bet those wily Koch Brothers brought home the bacon, so to speak.  It does seem clear, doesn’t it??

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Political and Religious Terrorism

When Rick Perry sponsored his great prayer-in and asked the “Dominionistas” to basically help him to organize and run the affair, many wondered about him and what such an event signified for his campaign.  Who are these people  who assisted in this event? According to various sources, Dominion Theology is a grouping of theological systems with the common belief that the law of God - as codified in the Bible - should exclusively govern society, to the exclusion of secular law, a view also known as theonomy. As of 2010 the most prominent modern formulation of Dominion Theology is Christian Reconstructionism, founded by R. J. Rushdoony in the 1970s. Reconstructionists themselves use the word dominionism to refer to their belief that Christians alone should control civil government, conducting it according to Biblical law

In the early 1990s sociologist Sara Diamond and journalist Frederick Clarkson defined dominionism as a movement that, while including Dominion Theology and Reconstructionism as subsets, is much broader in scope, extending to much of the Christian Right. In his 1992 study of Dominion Theology and its influence on the Christian Right, Bruce Barron writes, “In the context of American evangelical efforts to penetrate and transform public life, the distinguishing mark of a dominionist is a commitment to defining and carrying out an approach to building society that is self-consciously defined as exclusively Christian, and dependent specifically on the work of Christians, rather than based on a broader consensus.”
Dominionists assert a Christian duty to take "control of a sinful secular society."The following characteristics are shared by all forms of dominionism:
1. Dominionists celebrate Christian nationalism, in that they believe that the United States once was, and should once again be, a Christian nation. In this way, they deny the Enlightenment roots of American democracy.
 2. Dominionists promote religious supremacy, insofar as they generally do not respect the equality of other religions, or even other versions of Christianity.
 3. Dominionists endorse theocratic visions, insofar as they believe that the Ten Commandments, or "biblical law," should be the foundation of American law, and that the U.S. Constitution should be seen as a vehicle for implementing Biblical principles.
Some, hopefully not all, view this religious movement as a mandate to assert control of what they view as the seven main elements of authority in the United States – (1) Business; (2) Government; (3) Media; (4) Arts and Entertainment; (5) Education; (6) Family; and (7) Religion.  They speak of creating “martyrs” among the youth, a term some, me included, associate with Islamic Mideast terrorists with dynamite strapped to their middle.
It seems increasingly clear that this group(s) seeks to dominate the United States, and then the world, just prior to their destruction—the End Times.  
At what stage, I wonder, do these people make it onto the FBI’s terrorist watch list? They seem to me to be advocating the violent overthrow of the United States, in that they disagree and wish to change our basic Constitution, in fact our entire way of life. They promote intolerance of other religions, and other cultural values. Of course, they hate and wish to destroy Gays and eliminate abortion.
And now we have at least one (Rick Perry) and perhaps others (Bachman and Palin), potential candidates to become President, who not only associate with these potential terrorists (could we not say they are “palling around with terrorists”?) but actively promote their values. We already know that Perry has advocated breaking up the United States (seceding is a form, surely, of breaking up the US).
Since this group of potential religious terrorists seems to have now joined forces with the mainstream of the Republican party, I am left wondering how we should now label this Grand Old Party?  Have republicans now become party to a terrorist organization, seeking to overthrow the nation?
So, I ask again, when will the FBI begin labeling as potential terrorists the Domionistas, and everyone who associates with them, including those republican candidates for president who seem to openly espouse their views? Perhaps Mr. Perry should be on a "No-Fly" list?
Or perhaps such a drastic action could be avoided, if the  few remaining rational republicans ever decide to reclaim control of their party from the crazies who seem now so firmly in control.
Oh, and one more thing. People this extreme clearly need to be taken seriously. We trivialize this group at our peril.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Market Woes and Other Jokes

Tumbling, tumbling, tumbling, down, down, down. Even Borowitz is making fun out of the present mess. He reports, in a recent article:
“In what stock market analysts are pointing to as a rare bright spot in an otherwise gloomy period for Wall Street, manufacturers of downward arrows posted record profits this week.
While makers of cars, computers, farm equipment and practically everything else saw their fortunes plunge this week, producers of downward arrows notched double-digit gains, inspiring investors to snap up their shares like never before.
Companies like National Plunging Arrow Corp and Consolidated Downward Pointy Lines saw their shares rocket as investors rushed to participate in the suddenly red-hot red-arrow sector.” (BorowitzReport.com, Aug. 19, 2011).
The big question in my mind these days is whether I should join in this amusing game and continue making fun of our bankers and investment brokers, or to run screaming around the room, shouting that the sky really is falling this time.  After all, I was born during the first great depression, brought to you by the same folks who have manufactured our current financial disaster. My grandparents went broke during that period, and we survived partly by skipping from one apartment to another, just ahead of the rent collectors.  So, while it’s amusing to make fun of the current group of thieves who are in charge of the world’s money, it does give me pause. We are, after all on a serious retirement budget. We are no longer adding to our asset pool, and, given the mess made by our bankers of the real estate market, our main asset, our home, is likely as not worth less than what we paid for it 15 years ago. So, how funny is that?
And all I hear coming from the current crop of fools masquerading as presidential candidates on the right is, Cut Government Budgets, Give us More Tax Cuts. One doesn’t really need a PhD in economics to discern that more government spending, especially in infrastructure (currently falling apart in the USofA) and energy might well reap both current and future benefits to the nation’s economy.  Yes, more spending would add to our deficit woes, but increased taxes, especially on the upper income groups (see Warren Buffet) will reduce those deficits. Our current deficits spring from the Bush tax cuts, his unnecessary war in Iraq, and the massive illegal and certainly corrupt practices of the nation’s bankers.  Reversing the tax cuts, and moving our tax rates to what they were, say, 15 years ago), and getting out of both Iraq and Afghanistan will go a long way to reverse our economic decline.  To those who argue that we cannot just up and leave Iraq and Afghanistan, I would say, why yes we can.  Both countries will of course go on killing one another, just not us. They will emerge, eventually, as Islamic dictatorships, probably on the model of Iran.  And then they will continue to operate as 12th century oligarchies, with warlords, or Ayatollahs running them.  Like the Brits and the Russians before us, we are incapable of preventing such an eventual outcome, regardless of how long we remain.
We need to leave, now. And we need to pass substantial tax increases, so we can invest substantial sums in employment-based research and infrastructure development. We need to put the people back to work, and stop coddling the Murdoch’s and the Koch’s of this land. They are poisoning our nation. So stop catering to them . . .Now!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

By By Bankers

With the BofA stock price tumbling to the point where it will soon be worth bupkus, it leaves me wondering about the future of Charlotte. Charlotte is nothing if not the home of big banking.  So what does Charlotte become if Moynihan and company dribble off into the miasma. Where do dead banks go, I wonder? Is there some bank hell where the old banks and their accompanying bankers live on, mumbling about their lost opportunities??

I don’t see Charlotte becoming another silicon valley. That needs people with energy and imagination . . . oh and some serious smarts, characteristics not normally associated with banking.  Manufacturing??? Hmmm, what would we manufacture? I suppose we could build a paper reprocessing plant to convert all those old bank deposit slips into, say toilet paper.
How about call centers??? With all the unemployed banking people wandering the streets of Charlotte, maybe we could bring back some of that business we shipped off to Bangalore. Ex-bankers would be great at telling callers to “please remain on the line, your call is very important to us, so kindly listen to our Muzak while we attend to real business.”
But then I thought out of the box. I thought about Italy and all its attendant debt problems, and then it came to me. The Mafia.
Yeah, that’s it. What a great fit. We could contact some folks in Sicily, ask them if they would be interested in setting up business in Charlotte. They could move into the same offices vacated by Mr. Moynihan & Co. I mean, the Bank of America building has got to be better than what they have in Sicily, especially with those nasty IMF folks breathing down everyone’s throat.  
And the mafiosas’ wouldn’t even have to be retrained.  They’re already in the two main businesses run by the BofA—loan sharking and gambling. So, they could just move right in and take over the Countrywide crap that’s choking the country. And, you know, it might be refreshing to have the customers able to deal with real professionals when they default on their home mortgages, and someone is needed to kneecap them. I mean BofA guys were such amateurs at the game . . .
Always thinking . . .
And on another exoplanet, it is rumored that Governor Rick Perry  has declared that all income taxes are patently illegal and unconstitutional, and that, when he is elected President, he will finance all federal government operations by holding bake sales. He’s hoping that Michelle Bachman and Sarah Palin will serve as co-chairs of his bake sale committee, them being, you know, persons of the female persuasion.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Adam & Eve and Other Fairy Tales

It’s hard to imagine how things could possibly go more astray in this nation than it has already. Recently, we learned that the religious right wing, aka Christian Taliban, have been arguing about Adam and Eve, and whether the geologic evidence, coupled with genetic evidence, would support or deny the Adam and Eve Fairy tale.  Really, folks, you’re discussing this fairy tale, as though it has a reality base???
Can we next discuss the alternate universe in which Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny are real?
We could discuss, for example:
1.       Does Santa pay his elves union wages, and does he supply benefits, including especially health care? Elves, it turns out, have special medical needs associated with traveling in an oxygen-deprived environment for such long time period, and then having to waiting around on freezing roof tops while the old jolly guy jumps down chimneys and does his thing.

2.     How big is the tooth fairy, and how does she know enough about international exchange rates to keep track of her payment schedules? Does she maybe have financial advisory fairies?

3.       Does the Easter Bunny dress up before visiting the homes of little boys and girls and hiding jelly beans all over the place?  Wouldn’t want to think of our precious little ones awakening and seeing a naked bunny running around their house. And, also, does the bunny now buy her jelly beans from China like everyone else?
We have never to my best understanding had a serious debate among the fairy scholars of our land of these issues.  I’m sure they are discussed in closed quarters within such eminent academic establishments as Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, but it would be good for the main ranks of the fairy believer population to see serious people engaged in these serious intellectual pursuits.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Lessons from the Appalachian Regional Commission

A long, long time ago, I worked on a consulting project, creating an evaluation system for an organization called the Appalachian Regional Commission. The Commission had been formed when Bobby Kennedy visited the region and discovered abject poverty, a demonstrably ineffective transportation network, poor health care, and low economic activity. Mainly, the region covered the South, although its reach extended from rural New York down to Mississippi.  Its geographic coverage was mainly a matter of politics.  The Commission was a Federal-State compact aimed at social and economic development throughout this region. Highway construction, health care and other social and economic activities characterized the work of the Commission.

In looking at the Commission, I was impressed that states could actually work together on common problems, and that federal assistance (read money) could be put to work in an attempt to uplift a whole region.  States had a role, but only when working together.
I now look back at that period with some wonderment that a thing such as a regional pseudo-government could actually function effectively.  With the recent S&P downgrading of America, falling on the heels of the worst political act in modern times, makes me wonder about America as a single entity.
I have thought for some time now that all of our “too big to fail” banking institutions should be immediately dismantled and broken up, perhaps down to the state level, i.e., no bank should be permitted to operate beyond its state borders and no bank should be allowed to gamble with the public’s money (I.e., investment management).
But then I thought about America, and whether it needs restructuring of the same kind. The level of hate spewing back and forth in the country makes me think of what the nation must have been like during, say 1860, or 1861.  The radical right really appear to hate anyone not associated with their party. Some hate all non-Christian Taliban. Some hate Blacks and Latinos. Most on the right hate anyone identified as a Liberal or Progressive, or simply as a democrat.  They all appear to hate that “uppity Black man in the White House”.  I note that their extreme concern for deficits and the national debt only dates to 2008, with the election of a Black man to lead the nation.  The really radical fiscal irresponsibility that characterized the period 2000 through 2008, when our economy collapsed, seems to have been missed entirely by our Astroturf Teabaggers.  And they wonder why people think they are racist.  But the republican party appears to have cleverly scooped up all these hate groups and made them the core of the party. Apparently all non-radical republicans have gone into hiding.  It’s interesting that people of the ilk of George Will never seem to comment on this radical group, yet he continues to hammer away at profligate Liberals and their irresponsible president.  He and his colleagues remind me of the Catholic Church’s inability to comment on their priests who rape little boys, or the Mullahs of the Islamic world who seem incapable of commenting adversely on the terrorists among them who blow up innocents in marketplaces. That republicans are now defined as radical cannot come as a surprise, given the absence of public debate within the party.
So, perhaps it is time to revisit our nation, much as Yugoslavia had finally to deal with its own divided country, or as the Brits had to deal with a divided Indian subcontinent.  Perhaps we are no longer one Nation, under God, or not.  Which brings me back to the Regional Commissions of old. Maybe we need to subdivide ourselves into people who hate one another a little less.  It is already clear that two of the contenders for the republican leadership have mentioned secession of their respective states. Maybe they are right. Maybe we should have a Northeast Region, a Northwest (or West) Region, a Southeast region, a Middle Region, a Southwest region, and a Northern Tier Region.  Perhaps the Rockies might forge a coherent Region.  We would, of course, have to divide the national debt, the National Treasury (empty at the moment), the Military, and a few other trinkets currently belonging to the entity formerly known as America.
Perhaps some of the regions could join other entities (say the Northeast might ask Canada if they would be interested, and I am sure that the Southwest region would be comfortable joining Mexico). Alaska and Hawaii are a bit of a problem, but perhaps we could sell Alaska back to Russia, or to Canada. Maybe Hawaii could just stay Hawaii, and bring back the king.
Just a thought.
And on another exoplanet, the Governor of Texas has declared that the Empire State building is obviously a huge phallic symbol, and is therefore anti-Christian and should be torn down immediately (or sold to the French who like that kind of thing).

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Sacrificing for the Common Good

Well, I guess the battle royal is now over for the moment. The Democrats gave the Republicans their balls, and the Republicans agreed to keep them indefinitely.  I think that’s called political compromise.

So now comes the hard part—the common folk will be asked to do their part for the common good—that’s defined as the Murdoch’s and the Koch’s don’t have to pay their taxes, and nobody gets to see what they might be doing to pollute our environment—that common good.
But what will our elected leaders ask of the common folk (defined as the 90% who own 10% of the Nation’s wealth, i.e. the serfs)?
Well, the old folks (me) may be asked to give up part or all of our Medicare-driven health care.  Maybe we’ll be asked to pay more, or maybe we’ll all just have to wing it. Our conservative brethren (those who read and believe George Will) think that we Liberals have gotten too uppity and are spending too much of the Government’s money on silly things, like open-heart surgery, cancer prevention and/or treatment, etc. So, we may just have to do more with less.  And clearly, we the people can’t really afford Social Security, so the old folks just coming on-stream may have to rely on their own savings (oh, I forgot, the Boomers mostly don’t have any savings . . . rum go, huh?).
We know now that all those Liberal-inspired regulatory programs such as FDA, EPA, FAA, et al, will just have to be curtailed (read,  Eliminated). They all are jobs killers, as we are told.  So, if your air gets a bit funky, or the salmonella on your food products gets a bit too much for you, you may just have to cut back on food. Mostly, we’re all getting too fat anyway, right? And if you can’t breathe, well just stay indoors. Should our bridges start collapsing and our roadways get a bit bumpy, we may have to use detours more than we might like, but it’s all in a good cause.
Now, the Tea Party folks will also be expected to sacrifice, along with everyone else. Since we really have no money, we will have to begin seriously reducing our military. So that will probably mean that we won’t be able to move around the world shooting at brown people, and we know what that means to the teabaggers. We know how they love guns n’stuff, especially if they’re pointed elsewhere. I mean, Sarah has provided the example for all teabaggers. Sarah has never met an endangered species she didn’t lust to shoot, especially if she can do it from an airplane. So, this business of reducing our military and maybe eliminating our wars will be hard for the teabaggers, but everyone has to sacrifice.
And our President also is expected to sacrifice.  He will be asked to give up on his mindless quest for a second term in office. I mean, Mitch and John (Orangeman) Boehner have devoted themselves to eliminating his chances, and we can’t ask them to give up on that. But, you know, he’s had a good run. The fact that his presidency was totally screwed from the beginning by Shrub’s fiscal mess, and by teabagger racism is just one of those things we all have to accept in this best of all possible countries.
And on another exoplanet, the Faux News Network announced that it was nominating Rupert the Magnificent to be President. He wasn’t native born, but then we all know that Obama wasn’t either, right??