Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Supremes Strike Again

The “Ministerial Exemption”

The Supremes have done it again. Churches no longer have to obey secular laws regarding discrimination against the handicapped. It may still turn out that their ruling has a limited effect, i.e., that churches should have the freedom to choose their own ministers and that is all.  But it is by no means clear that they have not opened the door to a gradual change under which churches are allowed to adopt their own legal system, avoiding secular laws. It may seem absurd to extrapolate this ruling to mean that, sometime in the not too distant future, Islamic mosques will be able to institute their own Sharia laws to overwhelm secular laws in many areas. Or, to take a more current example, that Mormon men may once again be able to practice polygamy openly.  Or that the Catholic Church will be able to ban family planning.

Yes, it is a stretch.

But who in their right mind would ever have even considered as a remote possibility that the Supremes would have given us corporate-people (pseudo-people)? That decision surely is the most absurd and destructive decision ever rendered by our high court. It has already transformed our electoral process, turning “free speech” into a bad joke. Speech is no longer free, it is rather open mainly to the “pseudo-people”, since they have all the money.

It is hard to imagine that our highest court has turned into this enemy of our Constitutional safeguards against the imposition of religious bigotry. But it seemed equally hard to imagine that the Court would  pollute the main democratic process by which we elect our leaders.  

So thanks Supremes. You now pose an even greater danger to our democracy than Newt Gingrich . . . and that says a lot.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Our Ship of Fools

It is getting more difficult to even comment on this increasingly bizarre election season. We have Obama attempting to make a case for the Nation’s betterment, while the royal, loyal opposition continues to make its case that he must be stopped at any cost, really without regard to whatever it is he is saying or proposing.

The republican party apparently has taken leave of its senses, and seems no longer an American political party.  I am uncertain who they represent, but it certainly is not the American people. Perhaps they now belong—are owned by—that collection of global financiers who fancy themselves Lords of the Universe. They succeeded in bringing the universe to its economic knees, but continue themselves to bring in the big bucks. Romney thinks it’s just fine that he paid less (percentage-wise) in taxes than most blue collar workers. He says, correctly that he should not be expected to pay more in taxes than the law requires. But then, of course, he and his fellow rich people lobby ferociously to block any and all attempts to correct the tax code so as to require him to pay what many would describe as his “fair share”.  No, he isn’t about to let that happen. And he wonders why people find him a tad . . . “out of touch with reality.”
And speaking of out of touch with reality, we also have the delusional sociopath, Newt Gingrich. He thinks nobody should care that, although he preaches family values, he thinks he shouldn’t actually have to live them.  And because he is a pathological liar, no one will ever be able to understand when he is lying and when he speaks the truth. Remember that true sociopaths are so good at lying that they are even able to fool lie detector machines.  And the Newt is very skilled. He seems even better at the lying game than Shrub.  He was forced to resign for unethical behavior the last time he held public office and he seems to have continued on his unethical path ever since. He may be the true danger to our American system, perhaps the most dangerous candidate we have ever seen.
Ron Paul wants to return to the gold standard, and Rick Santorum thinks it’s just dandy that women should not have full control of their bodies, even if raped. He thinks it’s unfortunate, but, hey, treat it all as one of life’s grand adventures.
Yeah, what a great panel to oppose everything our president wants to do to right this ship of fools called America.  They yell about his regulations, when in fact we need serious regulatory reform—meaning that we have an entire financial system that is seriously unregulated. The practitioners are now most closely akin to mafia online gamblers, who are willing to risk the entire global financial system if they can make a few more bucks at it. And they don’t mind risking the entire global climate system as long as they can make a few more bucks.  The problem is that it is by no means clear that, even if Obama is re-elected he will be able to reverse the damage already done to the world through these fools. I keep wondering, is this what is being taught in the Stanford and Harvard schools of business these days???

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The SC Clown Show

It is now Saturday afternoon and the great South Carolina game show called Clowns, Clowns, Clowns, is almost over. I look forward with great interest to see whether the mostly Christian Taliban voting bloc will display its utter cynicism, by voting for Mr. Gingrich, our friendly neighborhood delusional sociopath. Here is a man who changes his religion as often as his wives—presumably when he tires of one or another and looks outward to the multitude of potential wives and religions he has not yet trashed.  I published some time ago a listing of the characteristics of sociopaths. Let’s see, they included:

• Glibness and Superficial Charm 
• Manipulative and Conning  -- They never recognize the rights of others and see their self-serving behaviors as permissible. They appear to be charming, yet are covertly hostile and domineering, seeing their victim as merely an instrument to be used.  
• Grandiose Sense of Self -- Feels entitled to certain things as "their right." 
• Pathological Lying --Has no problem lying coolly and easily and it is almost impossible for them to be truthful on a consistent basis. Can create, and get caught up in, a complex belief about their own powers and abilities. Extremely convincing and even able to pass lie detector tests. 
• Lack of Remorse, Shame or Guilt -- A deep seated rage, which is split off and repressed, is at their core. Does not see others around them as people, but only as targets and opportunities. 
• Shallow Emotions -- When they show what seems to be warmth, joy, love and compassion it is more feigned than experienced and serves an ulterior motive. Outraged by insignificant matters, yet remaining unmoved and cold by what would upset a normal person.
• Need for Stimulation -- Verbal outbursts are common.  
• Poor Behavioral Controls/Impulsive Nature 
• Irresponsibility/Unreliability -- Not concerned about wrecking others' lives and dreams. 
• Contemptuous of those who seek to understand them 
• Does not perceive that anything is wrong with them 
• Authoritarian 
• Paranoid 
• Incapable of real human attachment to another 
• Unable to feel remorse or guilt
• Extreme narcissism and grandiose
• May state readily that their goal is to rule the world 

  Any of those seem familiar???

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Silly Season

Ahh, the grand irony of the republican primaries keeps on rolling. Texas Christian Taliban bypassing their man, voting instead for that great model of rectitude Rick Santorum. The man reeks of psudo-morality and follows the word of the Nazi Pope and his cardinals who seem not to mind child-rape by their priestly order. Apparently that great horde of boy-raping priests are all victims of Liberals. Yeah, the Liberals made them do it. Great defense, that! And just imagine. He's apparently against sex, even between consenting married adults--at least that's how I interpret his demand that everyone cease and desist using any contraceptives for any reason. What a great platform demand that would make, huh?
And Mr. Huntsman, the sole reasonable man in the hunt for power, is now endorsing the other Mormon. He once thought Mr. Romney a man of questionable principles. Now, evidently, Mr. Romney has recovered all his principles and is the man of the hour.
And lest we forget that delusional sociopath, the Newt, he imagines himself the eventual winner, regardless of the will of the voters.  He never actually wins anything, but he takes great pride in his ability to sting his other republican opponents with his drivelocity. One reader of a column in Salon, or The Beast comments that the Newt was America’s Churchill and oh how we needed him. Newt may not be Churchill, but he brings to mind an old Churchillian comment about America—“America will always manage to do the right thing, after having exhausted all other possibilities.” That may be an excellent description of the Newt. The main question is, could the world survive the Newt, as he tries all other possibilities?? Talk about Risky Business.
And what can one say about Ron Paul—he’s so . . . consistent . . .ly wrong.
And just think . . . we have another ten months of this stuff . . .

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Money Game

For a long time, I have been wondering why none of the intelligent republicans have been willing to speak out publically about the clown show sometimes called the republican presidential primaries. And why none of them were willing to speak out during the obviously disastrous final days of the Shrub administration.  I understood why some of them, idiots like Krauthammer, failed to speak—they are captive to their own ideology and so, dare not criticize a fellow republican.
Then as I was reading something by George Will, it suddenly hit me. George “disclosed”, at the end of one of his right wing hit pieces, that his wife is a consultant-adviser to the Ric Perry campaign.  So, it finally hit me—Duh, you idiot. It’s all about the money. Many years ago, George Will used to write speeches for Ronald Reagan and then go on TV as a political “analyst” to describe how brilliant Reagan was and how great were his speeches.  I thought at the time that was a bit tacky, but never went the extra step and decided that George Will was simply a right wing hit man who was for sale to the highest bidder and republicans tend to have more money than democrats, so he always sells to the republicans.  So, of course people like Will cannot, speak out against the parade of clowns and misfits. There’s too much money at stake.
And apparently, and sadly, there really isn’t anything else going on in our political system. It’s always only about money and power—and power only because it begets more money and eliminates the threats to ongoing money accumulation.  The concept of America and what that used to mean has now disappeared from our current political landscape. America is apparently nothing more than a honey tree, and the guy who ends up with more money wins. Nothing else is at stake—the “Give me your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to be free”, is basically just a joke at this stage.
In the old days, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, some people (not many even then) used to care about things like educating our people, establishing fair rules of the game, protecting the environment. Now, it seems nobody cares about anything, except money. Our banks have basically turned into an organized crime ring, and evidently that’s ok with us. When was the last time you saw one of the banker CEOs go to prison for financial malfeasance? Nah, when they screw up and lose a bunch of our money, we just give them more—so they shouldn’t fail, don’t you know.  It occurs to me that the mafia could really take lessons from our financial institutions. There’s way more money and way less risk than screwing around with drugs.
So apparently, morality has disappeared from the political scene. When pols talk of “faith and family values” we know they are lying, just to get our attention and our votes. All they really care about is remaining in power, so that they can feed and be fed by the monied interests—our corporate CEOs—you know, the 1% set.
That explains much. Like why the republicans seem to act in ways that seem designed to destroy the middle class. I kept thinking . . . the middle class is what made America great, and public education is what created the middle class. Why would they want to destroy those institutions? Well, part of the answer lies in the nature of an educated middle class—they tend to be troublesome to the 1%, the Koch brothers and all the CEOs who want to be able to do anything they want , including destroy our environment completely.  An educated class of people will argue with the CEOs and question their motives, so getting rid of that class seems important to the Koch’s (and their appointed representatives, like Romney, Perry, et al). So, first you hack away at the public education system, then you ship all the middle class jobs to China.  And bingo, the middle class begins to disappear.  The 1% set is apparently too stupid to remember that old rascal Henry Ford, who thought that paying people a decent wage was good for him, because he would then have customers for his cars. The 1% set no longer cares about that, especially since they don’t produce anything for sale any longer. So, none of that stuff matters.
I’m not sure where this realization that nothing matters any longer except money takes me. For one thing, I suppose I can now really just assume that whenever republicans open their mouths, they are lying. And that whatever it is they are saying, I should assume it has something to do with money and the accumulation thereof.  Mainly, they are talking because they want to regain power, and they want power so they can continue on their path towards more money.
One question remains at this stage, i.e., where in all this money swamp are the Democrats and Obama? So far, it would appear that precious little separates the two parties. I do trust Obama more for reasons unclear, except that he had a different background, and seems less to be grounded in money.  But we need to see some change in the way our president approaches the world and us—ordinary citizens.  We need to see our president embrace the kind of strategy we thought we were buying into when we elected him. We need to follow a course such as the one below.
In economic matters, extremes do not work. Under Bush, we shifted dangerously in the direction of a fascist state—that is, a state in which private owners of businesses dictate government policies. The inevitable result is Enron, et al, as well as the collapsed financial system. We have been drifting in that direction for quite some time now, even under Clinton. Everyone has been so concerned with government regulation they failed to notice that unregulated business is as dangerous as unchecked government. One gives you fascism; the other socialism. Private business interests must always be checked to assure that the public is protected. So too must government overseers. Balance in everything is the answer. But balance requires mental agility. The public has little patience—they want the world to operate on autopilot. They need to be convinced that a world in which competing interests are balanced is both an efficient world, and a world that is worthy.  

We need to pay for what we need or want. The Republican Party has been, almost as a matter of policy, fiscally irresponsible. They practice “charge and spend” politics. We will now have to pay for their profligacy. The public—the thinking public—needs to understand that we cannot continue on the course they continue to follow. Mainly the rest of the world will not allow us to continue on this course. They will simply stop buying our debt and then it will end, badly. Taxes are the way we pay for our policies. Taxes are neither good nor bad, in the abstract. They represent the price of operating our country, or, perhaps, the glue of a civilized society. 

Organized religion has become dysfunctional. For reasons I cannot comprehend, religious leaders have lost their way on matters of intellectual thought. Science is now being posed as some alternative to faith—as though people of faith ought to be opposed to rational thought. There is no conflict and there never was. The public must be convinced that leaders who find conflict are charlatans interested only in enhancing their personal power. If God gave us this magnificent universe, God also gave us brains to ponder its majesty. Those who wish to stop science are trying to return us to the dark ages, where they ruled through fear. We dare not return there, but the republicans and their coterie of 12th century leaders, opened the door to religious extremism, with all its fearful consequences.  

Terrorism continues to grow, and we currently have no effective way to check its growth. It is now clear that policies under Bush were a growth medium. We are breeding terrorists, and every time we kill innocents, ten terrorists take their place against us.  So generally, military solutions do not work well to end such desperate tactics as terrorism. We need different strategies.   

We must pursue policies that are aimed at preserving the Earth. We need to conserve. We need to pursue alternative energy policies. We need to use economic forces to create a demand for energy-efficiency and energy independence. Under republicans we are driven to pursue policies promoting wasteful energy consumption, mainly because republicans are paid by the extractive industries. We need to tax wasteful energy consumption, so as to encourage wiser use of Earth’s limited resources. 

We must pursue a policy of economic independence for all our citizens. During my career, I worked for seven organizations over a 45 year career. For 20 of those years, I worked for several large and small companies that contributed nothing beyond Social Security for my retirement. Republicans keep up their efforts to threaten that reserve. If indeed we wish to get rid of Social Security, we do not need to “privatize” it. We need to pass legislation that forces every economic entity in the country to pay into a portable retirement system. TIAA-CREF comes to mind—the system used by most universities and non-profits. If the private sector would begin to live up to its responsibilities by a mandatory contribution system, we would not need Social Security. Take the system used by universities and non-profits and replicate it throughout the whole of the private sector. Do not allow companies to wriggle out by use of part-time workers. If they employ part-time workers, they still pay full retirement benefits. 

Similarly, we must pass a system of health care reform.  Obama’s program only takes us part of the way towards such a goal.  We need to continue to argue that, while republicans do not appear to believe that all Americans should have access to health care, democrats do. We need a single payer system. We need to stand up for what is right here – 40 to 50 million people who have no health care is not right.  

Republicans, with their “no-Child-Left Behind” Act, were attempting to scuttle public education. We need to begin working with the states to remedy the currently deplorable state of public education. In our area of North Carolina, they seem comfortable with a drop out rate of 35%. Think of that. We can do better. Indeed, we are losing ground to the rest of the world,

and we are at risk of becoming a country of stupid people. Mainly, because of the current emphasis on testing, and teaching to the test, the entire system has begun to be based on lies. We simply make up results that keep us out of trouble, whether the kids are learning or not. That latter point seem irrelevant—child learning no longer seems to be the point of public education. Similarly, we need to stop blaming teachers for all the problems in our current system. Parents are as responsible as the teachers.   

We must examine carefully the structure of government. The creation of the Department of Homeland Security was an absurd idea—a solution in search of a problem. Think of it. The CIA and the FBI wouldn’t communicate and were demonstrably inept, so we forced the Coast Guard, FEMA, and the rest to become one entity. An idea only a truly stupid person could embrace. Structure is not the answer when the problem is an absence of thoughtful consideration of available evidence. It is possible that Mr. Bush could have, indeed should have anticipated 911. We still need to hold our public agencies accountable for their failures, especially but not exclusively the security agencies.  New structures might be required, but Homeland Security and the Patriot Act are not answers to any problem we currently have.  

President Obama, you still seem not to recognize that your republican colleagues continue to focus on zero-sum games. Apparently they do not understand the concept of win-win. They do not care about the effects of their actions, or inaction on the future of America, nor do they care about ordinary Americans per se. They care only about money and about ways to acquire money. That they are owned 100% by their corporate owners seems not to trouble them. So you must act accordingly. Do what you think is right, rather than what you think they will approve.  Stop catering to their whims and their empty promises. Declare that game over.  

We need to begin again, with a grand strategy that includes openness, an embrace of democracy through peaceful means, and an impassioned defense of rational policies that seek to better this once-proud nation and indeed the entire world. It is well to remember that societies will be judged ultimately by their treatment of those less fortunates who cannot care for themselves. We stand for that principle against the forces of darkness unleashed and embraced by the republicans.   

If in the end their money wins out, at least let it be known that you tried to oppose their dark instincts.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

OK, so New York strikes back on New Year's Eve. What'd ya think Oz, that we can't outdo that pathetic fireworks display?? Well, of course we can. Here, take this Oz . . .

So, can you top this, Oz???
Ha  . . . I thought not . . .

Oh . . . sorry folks . . . I just made that up . . .

But, hey, all in the spirit of good fun . . .
So, Happy New Year all. See you later alligator . . .

2012 . . . it's going to be a truly funny year . . . what will all the clowns in Iowa and all.