Sunday, December 27, 2009

Survival of the Fittest

ER nursing, like policing, exposes you to the worst of humanity. It doesn't take long to become jaded. It's actually a struggle to hold on to liberal ideals.

For instance, my feminism tells me that domestic violence is a horrible manifestation of patriarchal society, with defenseless women being preyed upon by their overbearing husbands.

My ER experience tells me that a lot of domestic violence is two drunks getting into a fight, with the weakest one getting hurt the most.

And that soon, they will be calling out to one another in slurred voices, "I looooove you". "I looove you, too."

It's hard to hold on to your ideals in this situation.

But there is one conclusion that every new employee draws that I vehemently argue with.

It never fails that after they have been working in the ER for a while, they announce that they have a new theory. What might that be?

Well, it's that we are messing with Mother Nature. People used to die if they were stupid, but now we save them and they reproduce, and there will be none but stupid people in the future.

For one, this is not a new theory. It's called eugenics, and it was invented right along with Darwin, although not by him.

Hitler gave it a bad name, but every new generation invents it. (See "Idiocracy" for a very funny example.) And I remember a comedian, talking about the people in San Francisco who heard that a tsunami was predicted and went down to the beach to watch. He called it "Nature's way of weeding out the stupid".

Actually, smart people were not the ones who survived in the past. We are the descendants of a very long line of people who survived disease. Some of each of our ancestors were the only ones out of multiple children in a family who survived to adulthood.

To this day, disease kills millions of people each year, far more than die in stupid accidents. And smart people, of course, can make careless mistakes that lead to death.

Disease actually kills more people than war. This is why the US war machine spends so much money on biological warfare. They even tried, in the late 1960s, to engineer a disease that would attack a person's immune system, so that any disease would kill them, stating that it would be perfected in 5 to 10 years. But of course, no such disease showed up, did it?

And, as a heretic, I feel solidarity with all the heretics burned at the stake in medieval Europe. To me, this was the ruling class weeding out the intelligent, leaving only those who were willing to either believe, or to submit to fear and pretend to believe, to reproduce.

Galileo was a famous victim of the Church, but there were countless (because not counted, like victims of the US today) others who died for being intelligent or rebellious.



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Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Obama Doctrine

Liberals screamed in scorn when George W. Bush announced the "War on Terrorism".

They pointed out that terrorism is a tactic, not a country with an army that the US could go to war with.

But when Obama announces that we will fight evil(!) the silence is deafening.

Evil? Really? It's not even a tactic. It's a judgement. And we're now at war with it?

My judgement is that the country that spends the most on WMDs, that attacks other countries at will, that pollutes the Earth with depleted uranium and perchlorate and TCE, that maims and murders children and calls them collateral damage, that sends drones to assassinate people who have no means of self defense, that locks up millions of its own citizens and laughs about the rape that ensues in the cages:

If anyone should be judged "evil", that would be the best candidate.


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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Amazing Speech by War Veteran

This veteran testified at the Winter Soldier hearings. I was quite impressed with him.


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Monday, December 21, 2009

Foreshadowing

Liberal Democrats who are paying attention are shocked and horrified by the actual existing Obama, as compared to the really great imaginary Obama. How could he have turned out so bad, when they hoped and believed that he would be so good?

He gives such exciting speeches. How could his actual performance be so flaccid?

I can't really criticize liberals who are now paying attention. They're better than the ones who are still dreamy-eyed reality deniers, wanting to give him more time, another chance.

Awake liberals are upset that Obama promised health care reform and is giving us insurance company forced tributes. He talked a tough talk about the need for single payer, or at least a public option, but it turns out that he was two-timing us with the insurance and drug companies all along.

He orates that "No one is above the law", but refuses to prosecute previous puppets of the ruling class who broke multiple US and international laws. Words clearly mean nothing to Obama but a pacifying mantra to recite to the clueless. And there are those, probably a majority, who listen to the words and don't pay attention to deeds.

He had the nerve to go onto 60 minutes and say "I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat cats on Wall Street".

Really? This is the man who suspended his campaign to run back to Washington and vote for the bailout? The one who has continued pumping trillions into the financial system? He actually goes onto TV and has the nerve to say he didn't plan to do what he's been doing for a year? He clearly believes that he can get away with bald faced lies, like Bush.

Oh, wait. He can. And did.

He appeared to acknowledge the importance of not destroying our ecosystem, but there was a secret plan to turn Copenhagen into Seattle, the Sequel, all along. Clearly, if you plan to turn the very air we breathe into chips in a gambling casino, you're not serious about climate change.

These betrayals were foreshadowed in the primaries, when his anti-NAFTA rhetroic to desperate unemployed MidWesterners were shown to be for their ears only. That should have been a big red flag.

He also lied about transparency in government, stopping the occupation of Iraq, and stopping torture as an American policy.

Of course, he was upfront about some things. He promised to increase the occupation of Afghanistan, attack Pakistan, and threaten Iran. These promises he has kept.

Sometimes you still hear liberals say that we have to stay with the Democrats for the sake of the Supreme Court. You know, to protect the right of abortion. The one that the Democrats just attacked more effectively than Republicans ever did. This argument should be getting old and unusable. To drag it out again, when the Dems are in control of the Congress and White House and could actually legislate good policy, instead of having the Supreme Court command it, shows pitiful desperation. They should be embarrassed to use that line.

I hope that those who swear to never vote Democrat again will remember this in 2012, when the Republicans will produce some totally repulsive candidate that will make decent people shudder. That's what they do! That's how they get you, again, Charley Brown! Don't fall for it.




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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Modest Prediction

It is a national scandal that well over two million Americans are in prison, with millions more in jails and on parole. Progressives have long decried the prison-industrial complex and demanded that it be reformed.

I predict that at some point the question will be taken up by Congress. Hearings will be held on the prison industry. Of course, the hearings will be open to the industry. How can you have hearings without the people who know about the problem? Prisoners won't be heard from, of course. They're locked in cages far from Congress.

I predict that prison reform advocates will only be heard shouting demands and slogans as they are dragged from the hearings and thrown into jail themselves. (Ironically).

The focus of the hearings will turn from reform to discussing ways to increase the prison population in order to create jobs. Prison guards will testify that the jobs pay well. Senators and congressmen will tell their constituents that the way to prosperity will be to have a prison in every town.

The final bill will propose that 3/4 of all American citizens should be put into prison, with the other 1/4 guarding them.

Liberals will scream!! No, we demand that only 1/2 of Americans be put into prison.

Congress will argue for weeks. The Democrats will offer amendments with different percentages, each time giving way more and more.

Eventually, it will come down to the wire. A few really radical people will argue that no bill would be better than the one that puts 3/4 of all Americans in prison. The rest of the "liberals" will argue that any bill is better than no bill and we really need prison reform now! Let's go with the actually existing bill and not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. We can tweek it later.

Over the top? I don't think so.

We are watching two precursors now.

If a country decides that their health care system is inadequate, they need to decide what should be done. Obama states that we can't throw our system away, we should build on it. OK. We have public health centers. We have a program that trains doctors in return for them serving underserved communities. Let's expand it. Let's have our health centers do more than vaccinations and STD care. Let's train more doctors to work in primary care in the centers.

At the very least, we could expand Medicare to cover everyone.

But no, we're going to expand the other system. The one in which people pay health insurance companies to pay their doctors. The one in which 30% of all the money they pay goes to processing claims, denying care and paying inflated salaries to executives. That system.

For the first time, every American will be forced to pay tribute to private corporations - a major change from any previous law.

And we get "liberals" telling us to support this insurance company giveaway because it's better than nothing! Just force by law subsidies to private insurance corporations and we'll tweek it later.

And the destruction of our planet by fossil fuel burning is being addressed this week by a United Nations conference in Copenhagen. National representatives of 182 countries showed up hoping for a cooperative agreement to face a global problem.

Instead, they are being faced with a demand that the UN structure be bypassed, that national sovereignty be overturned, that corporate dominance over the planet be finalized in political as well as economic treaties.

And what do liberals say? Gee, isn't any agreement better than nothing? Can't we just start with a WTO arranged corporate giveaway of our atmosphere and tweek it later?

This is American politics played out to its most ridiculous ends. Meekly accustomed to voting for one of two corporate sponsored candidates, unable to imagine any better world, Americans take the "lesser of two evils" mantra to heart, no matter where it takes them.

While we in the US may be screwed by the health care industry, others in the world are not so blind. I am hopeful that the developing countries will stand firm and reject what the rich countries are offering them, even when the superstar politicians fly in for their cameos on Friday.



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Monday, December 14, 2009

Taxing Sin


Our state government wants to finance its operation by taxing smokers, drinkers and gamblers. But not all of them, of course.

If you want to puff on a cigarette that weighs a few grams and puts out a couple of minutes of pollution, you will pay multiple taxes. And stand outside in the cold, to boot.

If you want to dump tons of mercury, sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the air 24 hours a day, no problem. You might even get tax writeoffs. And overweight trucks just got a present from Governor Quinn, a raise in the speed limit! Whoohoo! Now they can kill more people directly by crushing them to death, as well as through diesel fumes.

If you want to drink alcohol and get polluted, you're going to pay heavy taxes. If you want to use community water, and dump it all polluted into the river, go right ahead. Well, EPA may give you a slap on the wrist, if someone complains, and they follow up and they find you guilty. But don't worry, you can appeal.

If you want to play the lotto, so our kids will win too!, you're going to pay. If you plan to finance your retirement with your winnings, you will be ridiculed.

If you want to gamble with other people's money, including other people's retirement funds, go right ahead. No taxes on Wall Street gambling, except for capital gains, which are half of taxes on money earned by actual labor.

The poor, who have lost earned income in the last 30 years, because wages have fallen (in real buying power), while the rich have gotten a much higher proportion of the increase in productivity, are being taxed at a higher rate than the rich. This is fundamentally wrong.

And our vices are being taxed at a higher rate than theirs.

We might like to smoke, drink and gamble, but they are destroying the planet, mining, overfishing, clearcutting, burning and blowing up vast portions of the Earth's mantle. Our ecosystem.

Which sin is worse?





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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Free Lunch

A few weeks ago, I trashed the mayor on my radio show, after he proposed balancing the city budget for one year by selling the water and sewer systems to a private corporation.

My friend and original IT guy, Dave, will say or do anything for a laugh. So he invited me to come as his guest to the lunch hour State of The City address, to which he was invited as the mayor's IT guy. Boy, did we laugh when I accepted!

Boy, did he squirm when, for once, I remembered the date. But, manfully, he kept his promise, although he was pretty full of etiquette tips!

His plan was to hide in the back of the room so the mayor wouldn't see us. But we were caught on admission and escorted to the very front table as guests of honor. Now Dave was really not laughing.

The mayor began by lecturing us on fiscal responsibility. We shouldn't expect to get things without paying for them. We have debts to pay and we need money to pay for them.

I saw a great T-shirt in an Austin bookstore, "I don't have ADHD. It's just that.......oh, look! A bunny rabbit!"

This is Brad Cole. "We have no money to pay the police pensions. Oh, look! A grant to pay for more police for three years! Oh, boy! Let's hire three more police."

Gosh, mayor. What happens after three years? Do we fire the police? Or do we pay their salaries for the next 17 years and then their pensions until they die?

If it's so irresponsible for people to get a house mortgage that they can afford for five years, but can't afford when it resets, why is it responsible to hire 3 cops because the Federal Government gives you a three year grant?

How dare Brad Cole lecture us on fiscal responsibility while bragging in the same speech about- new roads, new police, the new SIU Saluki arena that the city is helping to pay for, the giant new police station they plan on building. (On the downtown site where they tore the old middle school down, so that they could move it outside of town and pay for busing kids from now on. Cause the Federal government gave them a grant.)

And then he bragged about the "cleanup" after the May 8th hurricane. When everybody, from the tattooed toothless tree worker I wrote about, to the most rabid right winger, to the Shawnee Green Party, clearly saw that the downed trees could be a literal windfall to the city, the mayor bragged about how many cubic tons they burned!! I believe he said it was 3 football fields worth. What a waste. And then he talked about how we had to pay for all that overtime. Really? I think they should take it out of the city manager's pay, since he gave the order to burn potential revenue. How much money went up in smoke?

The mayor likes to collect titles and awards, so he listed a few. I noticed he left out the Mother Earth News "Best Small Town You've Never Heard Of" mention last month. Guess he didn't think it would impress the Chamber of Commerce crowd.

One he did mention was the Mayor's Agreement on Climate Change. He's quite proud of that one. I think the time that really severed any hope of cordial relations between he and I was when he gave a talk about his accomplishment of signing the statement and I questioned his commitment to sustainability by pointing out that he has razed the downtown and funded sprawl along the Rt. 13 corridors. He said "I don't know what you're talking about".

Really?

I remember a Chilean immigrant asking me if the plan was to build airplane runways through the center of town. She noticed the vast wasteland but the mayor doesn't?

He did mention downtown this time though. He said he wanted private developers to come up with a plan for it. He didn't think the city should be involved in the downtown area, except to approve plans for private development.

Except for the giant police station, of course. Nothing says "welcome" to people getting off the train like a fortress of oppression next to the train stop!

Anyway, thanks for the lunch, Dave, and I hope I didn't get you fired.



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Monday, December 7, 2009

Now I'm Heating with Gas

As a Green, I try to live lightly on the earth. So, as winter approaches, I tried to postpone the use of fossil fuels to heat my house. I wear multiple layers of clothes, cook things that require boiling and baking (although that uses fossil fuels), and various other things.

The other night, I gave up. It was frigging cold, so I flipped a switch and the gas central heating came on. Within 15 minutes, the house was comfortably warm enough.

I started rhapsodizing about the wonderfully easy life I live. I don't have to chop or haul wood for heating or cooking, I turn knobs. I don't have to walk 3 miles with a bucket to haul water, I turn on a faucet. I have plenty to eat without sowing or reaping. Someone else does that for me, and, conveniently packages it for me. I can wear 3 or 4 layers of clothes without growing, spinning or sewing. Someone else does it for me.

All my needs are provided for me by others. Pretty sweet.

Then today, Amy Goodman on Democracy Now had a story about the US government Export-Import Bank giving $3 billion dollars to Exxon to finance a project to extract New Guinea's natural gas.

That can't go well for the natives. It never does. And New Guinea is home to some of the last hunter gatherer tribes on our planet.

How many houses could have been supplied with geothermal for that $3 billion that US taxpayers are giving to Exxon? Why does Exxon, the most profitable company in the US, need funding from us?

This is one more travesty to add to the list.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

What Is Wealth?

It is becoming increasingly clear to more people that money has become detached from any intrinsic value. It's no longer based on gold or silver, cattle or salt or beads. It isn't even something that you can put into your pocket anymore. It's simply numbers in a computer.

And yet the world economy depends on these artificial numbers. If the computer screen shows you have enough, you can buy a private jet to fly to France for dinner. You can own seven houses, and pay for workers to maintain them while you're not there.

Food flows across the planet, steel is made and turned into cars, oil is pumped and burned, clothing in sewn in one place and worn in another, plastic gewgaws galore are passed around and sold.

But without the correct numbers, you're thrown out on the street, reduced to foraging through dumpsters for dinner, and begging from strangers for your beer.

Some urge a return to the gold standard, but this didn't work out so well for our ancestors. (Unless your ancestors were bankers, of course.)

The ingenuity of humans has led us to a place where we can all live in well fed comfort. And yet, only 2 billion of us do. Two billion live in utter starving misery with the rest in between. And now, more and more of us are sliding into poverty everyday. Why? Why is is that the lack of money, which has become more and more ephemeral, still has the power to destroy lives?

As Franklin Delano Roosevelt pointed out in 1933;

And yet our distress comes from no failure of substance. We are stricken by no plague of locusts. Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for. Nature still offers her bounty and human efforts have multiplied it. Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply. Primarily this is because the rulers of the exchange of mankind's goods have failed, through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence, have admitted their failure, and abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men.

True they have tried, but their efforts have been cast in the pattern of an outworn tradition. Faced by failure of credit they have proposed only the lending of more money. Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored confidence. They only know the rules of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish.

Yes, the money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.

Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. The joy and the moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits. These dark days, my friends, will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men.

These are fine words, but FDR didn't really live up to them. The money for the New Deal was borrowed from the Federal Reserve and social values were not universally applied.

But we don't even get lip service today. Our money changers were not driven from the temple, their tearful exhortations were heeded, and trillions provided for their continuance and profit. Their vision of bonus checks became reality, while the people perish.

At least FDR put people to work doing useful things, like building bridges and parks, planting trees, interviewing former slaves, painting murals, writing plays, and other things that would never be considered today.

We have three wars going on, with young people spread out on 700 bases around the world, millions in prison, and still the unemployment rises.

Wealth used to be recognized as the product of labor. Adam Smith pointed out that things that are of value don't cost anything unless there is human labor involved.

The value of any commodity, ... to the person who possesses it, and who means not to use or consume it himself, but to exchange it for other commodities, is equal to the quantity of labour which it enables him to purchase or command. Labour, therefore, is the real measure of the exchangeable value of all commodities (Wealth of Nations Book 1, chapter V;

Interestingly, Adam Smith and others recognized the value of that which has no price, like water, air and common land.

The word VALUE, it is to be observed, has two different meanings, and sometimes expresses the utility of some particular object, and sometimes the power of purchasing other goods which the possession of that object conveys. The one may be called 'value in use ;' the other, 'value in exchange.' The things which have the greatest value in use have frequently little or no value in exchange; and on the contrary, those which have the greatest value in exchange have frequently little or no value in use. Nothing is more useful than water: but it will purchase scarce any thing; scarce any thing can be had in exchange for it. A diamond, on the contrary, has scarce any value in use; but a very great quantity of other goods may frequently be had in exchange for it. (Wealth of Nations Book 1, chapter IV)

(Of course, now Betchel and Nestle have managed to turn water into a profit making commodity, another sign of how far we've fallen from common sense.)

Marx pointed out that nature is as important as human labor in providing wealth.

"Labor is not the source of all wealth. Nature is just as much a source of use values (and it is surely of such that material wealth consists!) as labor which is itself only the manifestation of a force of nature, human labor power."

America, which started the 19th century with immense forests and fertile plains, plentiful water and bountiful wildlife, ended the 20th with remnants of all those things. Forests stripped, waters dammed and polluted, a massive dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, mass extinctions of some species and near extinctions of others, poisoned air and atmosphere pumped full of carbon dioxide and rising. Our natural wealth has been strip mined!

Our human resources are mostly underused or misused, by contrast. As I pointed out earlier, millions are in the military, trying to take resources from people in other lands. Millions are locked up with millions employed in getting them and keeping them in prison. Millions work in the FIRE industries, spending their days leeching wealth from the very few left who actually produce anything of value. Millions are unemployed.

We must revalue our wealth. Each person's labor time should be equal to anyone else's, and other species must have equal worth to ours.

That sounds to radical to 21st century Americans, convinced as they are that some are WAY more equal than others, and that other species can be eliminated if profitable. If you don't go to college, you don't deserve to make a decent living, in the new American thinking. And the longer you go, the more money you may make.

There is no reason to value some labor so much more than others.

After our hurricane, I was so glad to see the tree workers, and the electrical workers, and the roofers. They moved the trees, turned on our electricity and repaired the roofs. They did productive work.

But when they fell off a roof and broke their legs, or cut themselves with a chainsaw, they were glad that I was there to help reset their bones, or sew up their wounds. The doctors, nurses, techs and others are also doing productive work. But why should the labor of sewing skin be worth so much more than that of sewing cloth? Why should resetting a bone be worth so much more than clearing a road? The skill of splinting is no more exacting than that of reconnecting a high voltage wire.

And, of course, those who do very little productive work, make the most. CEOs and the financial leeches making the million dollar bonuses, have helped no one.

And at the very top, where Paris Hilton lives, there is no productive work done. Those who own and do no labor, make much more wealth than those who are productive members of society.

Since we are capable of producing enough for all, we should do so. And all should contribute to the production, unless unable.

Everyone's time is valuable and all productive labor should be measured in time.

If we pay people to go to college and learn to be doctors, lawyers or engineers, they won't feel that they are owed more for the rest of their lives for the time they put in as young adults. That way, people can choose professions to which they have a calling, and not for the prospect of making more money than others.

The only way to make more than other people should be by putting in more hours than other people. Those that wish to do that are welcome to it. Personally, I'll put in enough time to pay the rent and buy food. Kind of like I do now.







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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The United States of Amnesia

Americans have no sense of history, but we mark anniversaries anyway.

Last week, it was ten years since the Glass-Steagall Act was abolished. This anniversary, coming as it does as capitalism collapses, made a handy whipping boy, complete with villains, conveniently comprised of both flavors of the corporate parties. Democrats could point at Gramm and other Republicans in the Senate, Republicans at Clinton for signing it.

All agreed, however, that the Glass-Steagall Act had made capitalism work beautifully, and if we only re-passed it, all would be well again.

Talking head amnesia prevented them from remembering that they have spent months comparing this depression with the one in 1981, back when the Act was in effect.

And there is total amnesia concerning the saving and loans speculation in the 80s, complete with bank failures.

Far right commentators, however, go farther back in blame. Capitalism, they claim, worked well for all, back in the gold standard days. They blame all dysfunction on the Federal Reserve Act of 1913.

Did capitalism work without problems before 1913 or 1999? Even with google, it's hard to research this. Google "depressions, crashes, recessions" and you get the Big One, the 1930s, that was traumatic enough that very few Americans who lived through it have forgotten.

You have to google "panic" to get the 19th century depressions, which came in 1819, 1837, 1857, 1873, and 1893, and then 1907, long before the Federal Reserve or Glass-Steagall.

Here's the thing. You really can't understand how capitalism works unless you listen to
Karl Marx. This is why the ruling class has trained Americans to respond like Pavlov's dogs to any mention of the man.

Try it on yourself. I say "Marx". You say, "Failed!! Dictator!!! Millions killed!!!"

Really, however, Marx was a philosopher, writer and believer in the ability of humans to band together and make a better world. What people did with his writings after his death is not really his responsibility.

Here's Marx on the ability of the Glass-Steagall Act to regulate financial firms such as Goldman Sachs who were able to make billions on credit derivative speculation: (quoted in the Monthly Review),

"If...new accumulation meets with difficulties in its employment, through a lack of spheres for investment, i.e., due to a surplus in the branches of production and an over-supply of loan capital, this plethora of loanable money-capital merely shows the limitations of capitalist production. The subsequent credit swindle proves that no real obstacle stands in the way of the employment of this surplus-capital."

Although it is difficult to read 19th prose, I think that his point is much more believable than the colloquial speaking talking heads desperately trying to convince us that all is well.

Capitalists will only operate when there is a profit to be made, and it is impossible to continue to expand in a closed system. Therefore it has to collapse every few decades. (Just like cancer stops when it kills its host).

Capitalists are not here to "give us jobs". We are here to make money for them, and when there is no money to be made in productive enterprises, they will turn to speculation until the bubble bursts. There is no law that will stop them.

People have starved before in the midst of plenty. As a matter of fact, people are starving now while others burn food in their cars.

Either we choose to use our wisdom and our capabilities to provide a modest standard of living for all, or we choose to let billions die to keep some wealthy.

Seems like an easy choice to me, but I'm not in control.








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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Happy Veteran's Day!

Time for the annual genuflecting to our brave soldier heroes, the waving of flags, the ritual parading of veterans bragging about how they fought for our freedoms. Really? I didn't see any troops attacking Congress when they voted for the Patriot Act and abolished the Bill of Rights. What freedoms did they protect?

Read the Bill of Rights and tell me which rights the military has protected.

And now for another view-



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Monday, November 9, 2009

Unitarians and Mass Murderers


Unitarians and other empathetic bleeding heart liberals take a lot of abuse from the belligerent chest thumpers and wedding party bombers on the right.

We are accused of being cowards, unlike the brave heroes sucking up billions of tax dollars to protect us, in the military, the police state and Homeland Security.

Is it immodest to point out that in every mass killing (in the US, that is) so far, only the Unitarians rushed the shooter and subdued him? Without hurting him while doing so? The cowardly, unarmed Unitarians risked their own lives to stop the killing and save others.

The cop heroes usually cordon off the killing site and wait for the killers to go ahead and finish and then kill themselves, and then the cop heroes go in. I'm not sure what the soldier heroes did, but the (accused) killer ended up with bullets in him, so they didn't subdue him unarmed.

I'm just saying.




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Friday, November 6, 2009

Tragedy in Texas

A soldier flips out and uses his weapon to indiscrimately kill a bunch of people.

What makes this news? Big news? Front page, top of the broadcast, day after day news?

The fact that it happened in Texas, not Iraq or Afghanistan.

And the fact that the victims were US soldiers and not sleeping mothers and children.

Too bad that no one else will point this out.


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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Doh!! Fooled Again

In yesterday's election, voters that voted Democrat last time voted Republican this time, in New Jersey and Virginia.

Ellen DeGeneres did a great bit where she wondered if goldfish ever get bored. She wanders back and forth across the stage as if it were a fishbowl, saying "I guess I'll go over here now. I guess I'll go over here now".

Who are these voters who never get bored with the duopoly of the corporate parties? Why do they fall for the "choice" again and again, like a baby playing peek-a-boo, endlessly believing that they are voting for something different? "I guess I'll vote for team A this time. I guess I'll vote for team B this time."

Half of the people in this country refuse to play this game. Most refuse on principled grounds, realizing that it doesn't make any difference who you vote for, and resisting the browbeating, the guilt tripping, the lecturing, the pleading, the preaching, the endless celebrities trotted out to insist that voting is important.

They tell us that we can't complain if we don't vote. Well. That's certainly the epitome of democracy! Vote, so you have the right to complain when they screw you over.

Then they tell you that you deserve the government you get. Well, that's infuriating! Not only do you have to deal with the betrayals, but then you're told that you asked for it. It's now not PC to announce that a woman deserves to be raped because of her dress or because she went to a bar, but voters are told that they deserve their government because they voted! That ain't right.

And my favorite, when people who actually vote complain about their choices, when they realize that both of the corporate vetted puppets are objectionable, when they want something that neither of the puppets are even bothering to promise, like peace, or liberty, or fair taxation, and you suggest that perhaps they should vote for the Green Party candidate, they laugh.

"I don't want to waste my vote", they say.





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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Media says "Jump" Americans say "How High?"

It takes a few months to get the American people worked up enough to attack people they've never heard of before they're told that the New Improved Hitler has appeared in that country, wherever it may be. This is the task of the corporate media and their efficiency at focusing bloodlust to the approved target has been remarked on before.

My last post drew a comment from someone who has been turned against his fellow Americans by the media. It took a long time to work up this division, and, actually, it's only working on the young, not so much Baby Boomers and their parents, who mostly cling to the idea that they shouldn't be allowed to starve in their old age, as people did before Social Security.

Of course, it is ironic that people who are willing to kill millions of non-Americans to "save" American lives are usually the same ones who aren't really that fond of actual Americans. Actual Americans include non white people, poor people, old people, children on food stamps, liberals, and tree huggers. Except for those who are unborn, most killer Americans would be happy to see these Americans dead, or at least disappeared.

But I digress. What I meant to marvel at is the ability of corporate media to manipulate the public on a more basic level.

When the media hype about swine flu reached its peak, life in the ER was miserable. We were completely swamped. Everyone who coughed or sneezed ran in to be saved.

My coworker said that CNN had announced that "People are dying!! Get to the ER immediately or you will die!!"

Apparently, my ER was not the only one swamped. The word went out.

So my local TV station then said "Only go to the ER if your child looks blue or gray".

OK, that was too much of a turn around. But it started to make a dent in the flow.

All of a sudden, it stopped.

A patient who came in for a twisted ankle explained why. She said "I was afraid to come to the ER, because the TV said that I could get swine flu here, but I was afraid my ankle was broke".

The tsunami of coughers, followed by the dearth of patients, was an astounding demonstration of the power of the media on the day to day personal behavior of the well trained American public.



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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Terrorist=Someone with a Bomb, but no Air Force

Many years ago, I lived near Moffett Air Force Base, and for two years, attended the Blue Angels show on 4th of July.

In some sort of dissociative state, I watched the precision flying with enjoyment, as if it were synchronized swimming or something innocuous like that.

Then I invited my Dad to go. He refused, pointing out that the purpose of those planes was to terrorize people and to drop bombs on them. Plus, it was a giant waste of energy.

I didn't go again.

But one year, as I was getting my mail, with my back to the base, a Blue Angel bomber flew very low over my head. I didn't hear it until it was over me, it was flying so fast.

Now I know what my Dad meant by terror! My heart was pounding, and I went inside and called the base to complain. Some sort of community soother calmed me down and promised that it wouldn't happen again. He told me that it was the last year the Blue Angels would fly there.

Lucky me, to be an American, and to be able to complain.

When the US attacked Iraq with their "shock and awe", which is very clearly an euphemism for raining terror on people, 24 hours a day, for days on end, how many people cared about the human beings on the receiving end?

I heard testimony about a woman whose two teenaged daughters couldn't take it. They were crying and screaming, so her husband and she and the kids got into the car to get out of Baghdad. They came to a roadblock of American soldiers.

As it happened, her husband had gone to college in the US., and spoke English very well. He got out of the car to explain to the soldiers that his daughters were terrified, and needed to leave the targeted area.

The soldiers killed him. Then they killed her kids.

I think about that man often. He came to America and met the tolerant, educated, friendly sort of Americans. Did he ever run into the nasty, ignorant, violent kind before that day? (At least, in person. Obviously, he had been a victim from the air). What did he think as he died?

Howard Zinn, like my Dad, was in WWll and came out with a hatred of war. I paraphrased his observation on terrorists for the title of this post. It says a lot about Americans that they think that someone with explosives around his waist is a despicable terrorist, but dropping bombs on people 24 hours a day is something to be proud of.




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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Baby Boomers-We Will Get Screwed Again

Many, many years ago, so many babies were produced for a couple of decades that they got their own name - Baby Boomers.

The Baby Boomer mass of people created their own economic conditions, like rain forests creating their own weather. From coonskin caps to hula hoops to rock and roll records, money was made from catering to boomer whims.

And the millions of boomers provided cannon fodder for the Vietnam War, while the ones left behind got drugs funneled to them to keep them subdued, and to keep the CIA well-funded beyond their official allotment.

In the 80s, Alan Greenspan announced to us boomers that there were too many to continue to fund Social Security on its pay-as-you-go system. We needed to pre-pay our retirement, creating a trust fund of trillions to pay for us, and only us.

So ever since then, boomers and all others working since, have paid extra for this temporary trust fund, so as not to burden our children. And now, of course, we're told that they spent it and we shouldn't be so greedy as to expect them to provide for our retirement. Think of the children!

And here we go again. The health care bill that is supposed to "reform" the insurance companies and stop them from discriminating against people has a loophole.

Older people can be charged more! And by older people, I don't mean over 65. They are covered by Medicare.

No. The people younger than 65, that is, the Baby Boomers, can be charged more than everyone else for their forced health insurance tributes!

As screwed as we have been, from Vietnam to extra SS payments to now being forced to pay extra into the insurance coffers, I have to wonder what they have planned next?

Are they hoping we die before we get old? Or are they going to make sure we do?



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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Markets for Opium

When the US invaded Afghanistan, the head of my ER, an Air Force brat who then used the military to become a doctor, announced that we were switching from Demerol to Morphine as our main pain killer.

This was a big switch. We give morphine all day and all night long, so it adds up.

I was always suspicious of that guy anyway. He was a right wing Christian, homeschooling, gun hoarding type, with, as I said, ties to the military.

I thought it was just us, but I've heard that the switch was nation-wide. I find that very suspicious. The US invades a poppy growing country, and suddenly only morphine is suitable to relieve pain.

But lately, we've been giving a lot of Dilaudid. On a hunch, I looked it up, and sure enough, Dilaudid is a morphine derivative, but six times stronger.

Are the CIA sharecroppers growing too many poppies for the ordinary markets to absorb?

By the way, I went to a forum sometime about 2003 where the local district attorney was speaking, and he mentioned that for some reason, they were arresting way more heroin users than before. Well, duh!



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Friday, October 16, 2009

A Vietnam Vet Speaks and Boy, Is He Confused

So yesterday, I run into a man wearing a baseball cap saying "Viet Vet".

See, I don't think that's anything to brag about. What are they trying to say? "I killed peasants who were trying to improve their lives and I'm damn proud of it"? But that doesn't fit on a cap?

So this guy starts telling me how his wife went without medical care for two years, until they got poor enough to get public aid, and how she's ashamed of her medical card, but he thinks that he deserves it, since he paid taxes for years and all.

So I say that in other countries, people just get health care as a right. No shame, just medical treatment. And he says, oh yeah, that's how it should be.

So I say, but the US spends too much on war, so they tell us we can't afford health care.

OK, now he's torn. So he says, well, I'm glad there's no draft, because my son doesn't have to go into the military like I did. I was forced.

So I push a little, and point out that the US is waging two wars and is trying for more and we can't afford it.

This confuses him. He wants health care, but he's all about US dominance. So he says that the US should just go in and kill everyone, and then it would be over and we wouldn't have to pay anymore money.

So I say that that is uncivilized.

So he says, "I don't mean we should nuke them", in an aggrieved, misunderstood voice. How could I possibly have thought he meant nuke them when he just meant kill them all with conventional weapons? Jeeeez.

So I say we should mind our own business and not try to dominate the world.

Well, he didn't think we should dominate the world, but the world needed to do what we want, or we should kill them.

Then his wife put a stop to our conversation.

So. He's for universal health care, and against the draft, but he's for US imperial domination and mass murder of resisting dominees.

Does that make him a Democrat or a Republican?



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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Big Brother Makes Sure You Deserve Health Care

Yesterday, I noticed the ER Business Office had added cameras that literally looked like eyes, on eyestalks, at each desk. I asked what was up with that?

Well, it turns out that the hospital is concerned that some unworthy people might be getting treatment that they don't deserve. Some people who are ill, and don't have money or insurance, are borrowing other people's Medicaid cards and seeing doctors when they can't afford it! This, of course, must stop. Only people with money or insurance are allowed to see doctors in this country. The Congress and the President say so. And the hospital is spending more money to survey all its patients, to catch the few undeserving sick.

Congress is dealing with people's lack of money to buy insurance by passing a law to make it illegal. As someone pointed out, maybe they should deal with the homeless people living under bridges by passing a law that they must buy houses.

When my sister was in New Zealand, she needed to go to an ER for stitches. They treated her without retina scans, or ID, or billing info. They just took care of her. An alien!! For free!

This is absolutely unheard of in America. The right wing accuses the Congress of possibly allowing non-Americans to buy health insurance and the "liberals" respond by denying it heartily. No one in America defends the right to health care for all.

No one in America defines "health care" as access to doctors and nurses. "Health Care' is defined as insurance buying, although everyone knows that insurance companies deny claims, demand large deductibles and co-payments, and find pre-existing conditions at will.

I think that the next time there is a typhoon in the Phillipines, or a hurricane in Pakistan, and the rest of the world is sending doctors and supplies, the US should send insurance agents.

If it's good enough for us, it's good enough for them.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Not Clear On the Concept

Saturday, I spent time petitioning at the Illinois State Fair in DuQuoin. The Green Party space was off (way off) the main path. We were near the track where the Motocross and Demolition Derby were held. So we tried to get those on their way to watch vehicles crash to sign the petition.

A surprising number of people claimed that they were registered to vote. Is this possible? Do people so incredibly uninterested in politics actually register to vote? Why bother?

It really didn't matter whether they signed or not. Almost all offered their opinion of the US morass in this way "This country is going socialist".

How is giving public money to capitalists - socialist? This is a clear contradiction. Socialism wants to overthrow capitalism and replace it with a worker owned and run society. I am unable to comprehend how giving billions of dollars to capitalists could possibly be socialist. Somehow, the American people have been convinced that the ownership of the country's wealth by a very small minority is "socialist".

Local schools didn't show Obama's speech because it was, you guessed it, "socialist".

Let's see. He informs the children that it is their responsibility to educate themselves. He informs them that if they fail to work hard and study and go to college, they won't get a job. He informs them that they need to be smart and educated so that the US can prevail over all other countries in the world.

Sounds pretty capitalistic to me! You're on your own, kid. If you fail, you deserve to sleep in the streets. We will use your brainpower and your labor to take over the world, but all you get out of it is a job.

I can't see how Obama could have made it any plainer to kids that they live in a dog eat dog capitalist society, and it is their problem if they can't make it to the top. (Of course, if they understand math, they will know that, by definition, if there is to be a top 1%, there has to be a bottom 99%).

I tip my hat once more to the amazing propaganda masters of the media. They are outstanding in their field!



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Monday, September 7, 2009

Living Outside the Green Zone

Iraqis who live in the Real World try to carry on their everyday lives without knowing if they will survive ordinary ADLs (activities of daily living). Will they be blown away on a trip to the market?

Americans who created the Iraqis living hell live safely in the Green Zone, complete with Subways and Burger Kings.

How about the good ol' USA? Sunnis and Shiites have nothing on us, divided between black and white, native born and immigrant, employed at this time and unemployed. We've had death squads, but we called them the KKK and the Pinkertons, so we don't acknowledge their functions, which were to keep the oppressed in their place.

Friday night my small town had five gunshot wound victims! As the economic victims of the US economy mount, the small time criminals increase. The first guy was robbed of all his money, but shot anyway. This is a breakdown in a transaction. Traditionally, it's been "your money or your life". These small time criminals tried to take both!

The large criminals are breaking the rules. Banks fail and get bailed out instead of filing for bankruptcy. Cheney authorizes torture and goes on national TV to justify it, instead of going to prison for breaking international and national laws. The US invades multiple countries in violation of international law and rakes in the booty, instead of facing World Court prosecution.

So is it any wonder that small time criminals break the rules? Your money and then your life. You don't like it, tough. If Cheney can shoot someone in the face, why can't everyone else?

But the rich who created this living hell for us, live their lives safely in gated communtities, with security guards and armored limousines. They won't be partaking of the blood letting in the streets of America, just like they don't partake of the bloodletting in Iraq or Afhanistan.

Their posh lifestyles and lavish parties will continue, while the dispossessed fight it out on the streets and in the prisons.

It's no fun living outside the Green Zone! Although here, the Subways and Burger Kings are on the outside.

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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Saving Afghan Women

While Obama did bring up in a speech last week, the prospect of dragging Osama out of the dialysis-enabled cave in Afghanistan where he has been living for the last eight years, the main justifications for increasing the attack on Afghanistan have moved beyond that implausible scenario and on to the new one - "saving Afghan women".

This is something that sends me to sputtering rage in record speed. The US, which destroyed the hopes and lives of the progressive people of Afghanistan; by destroying their revolutionary government, bent on improving the lives of all its people, including women; by funding fringe groups of reactionary mullahs in the wilds of Afghanistan, now uses the resulting misery of the women to justify more death and destruction to their country.

Last Friday, we showed the movie, "Afghan Women, A History of Struggle", which gave a succinct and graphic history of the sordid history of American intervention in the hopes and dreams of the Afghan people. It showed scenes from the 70s -the streets of Kabul filled with cheering people waving red flags, women, bareheaded, arguing politics with their male comrades, women teaching other women and children. Then it showed the mullahs, sullen and bearded, soon to be showered with money and arms by the US and the Saudis. It showed Brzezinski and Carter, who started the flow, which increased to a flood with Reagan. It showed the Soviet invasion, the civil war and the fall of the Afghan government in 1992 and the coming of the Northern Alliance, which the women state was the beginning of their loss of rights, not when the Taliban took over in 1996. The Taliban only worsened the women's position. Then the invasion of the US, in 2001. Paper changes were made, but, as we know, women's lives in Afghanistan continue to be horrible.
So here's my point. How can you possibly look at 3o years of intervention on the side of the religious fundamentalists, and 8 years of literal occupation of the country, with women much worse off today than they were in the 70s, and use their oppression as an excuse for more intervention? Is this not illogical on its face?

So, of course I, with my continuing deluded belief in the 18th century ideals of Enlightenment, was sure that if people could see the history for themselves, they would realize that the US was cynically exploiting the conditions that they had helped create in order to further their imperial goals. Surely, anyone who saw the movie would be enlightened and would oppose US military escalation.

I hung flyers and passed out leaflets, and publicized the movie as much as I could. Ironically, one event I attended was a history of the American suffragettes in their own words. Starting in 1776, with Abigail Adams entreating her husband to "remember the ladies", to 1848 and the Seneca Falls Declaration, to the words of the women imprisoned, beaten and forcefed for demonstrating for the right to vote, and talking about the importance of the right to birth control and the right to equal employment,the event was a powerful reminder that American women weren't given the rights that we have by a benevolent government, or by the corporations that run our country. We didn't wear the veil (except for Catholics), but we did wear corsets, and dresses and we weren't allowed to work freely, and if we did, our wages belonged to our husbands, as did our children. It took a couple of hundred years to win women's rights in the US, and I could argue that it wasn't until the corporations realized that they could get two workers in a family for the price of 1.57 that "women's liberation" began to be publicized and heavily promoted.

In any case, people should realize that a woman in a patriarchal society is not better off when her man is killed or imprisoned. Do Americans really believe that killing an Afghan women's husband frees her? Does she then throw off her burka and get a job?

With all my publicity, 2 new women showed up, and one promptly left when she realized there was no air conditioning. We showed the movie. It was very moving.

Then I asked for comments and the new woman asked what I thought should be done, and I said, the US should leave Afghanistan to the Afghans, and she said that "we" had a responibility to "help". She parroted the "Pottery Barn" slogan, we broke it and we should fix it. I pointed out that she was assuming that the role of the US Army is to help and that is not true. It is the armed repressive enforcer of the ruling class. It kills people to make the country safe for profits or pipelines, as Major General Smedley Butler pointed out years ago.

There were other people attending who also firmly believed that the US military could be used as a force for good, and pointing out facts and history did not dissuade them from their beliefs.

I can't tell you how depressing it is to know that this self-selected group of people interested enough to come out to a documentary on a Friday night is still so brainwashed that they believe in American benevolence, even after a long movie documenting the opposite.

Sometimes, I lose hope.

OK. I found another resource debunking the "we have to save the women by destroying them" propaganda.




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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Corporate Killing - Murder or Sacrifice?

The Christian Taliban in America longs for an official theocracy, based on fundamentalist Christianity, complete with stonings for adulterers and heretics. More inclusive theocrats talk of our "Judeo-Christian heritage". They are partially stymied by the Constitution, that "god damn piece of paper", but not much, since their followers are largely illiterate, reading only the Bible.

Actually, the American religion is not monotheistic. We, like the ancient Greeks and Mayans, worship many gods. What's more, we eagerly sacrifice children to them. Not in open volcanoes. That's barbaric. With lead and mercury, cluster bombs and land mines, sulfur dioxide, herbicides and pesticides, and plain old crushing of small bodies with automobiles.

I went to an EPA meeting to oppose Peabody Coal from opening a new coal fired power plant in Illinois. A health official from Maine was there to plead for the children of Maine, downwind from the proposed plant. I stood up and talked about watching children gasping for breath from the horrible disease of asthma. The assembled unemployed coal miners listened impassively. It was pretty clear that the children of Maine didn't stand a chance next to their own children's need for an income. They were to be sacrificed to the great god Peabody, who wanted to open the plant without pollution decreasers, since pollution decreasers are also profit decreasers.

Americans worship the corporate gods, for we believe that they bring money and goods. We don't sacrifice for rain or good harvests. We sacrifice for "jobs". Wave a corporate promise of opening a factory or big box store in front of city leaders and watch the offerings begin. Tax breaks, free land, citizen monies for utilities and roads leading to said holy sites.

How do a people become so brainwashed? We used to understand that all value came from labor working on the fruits of the earth. We used to understand that the capitalists siphoned wealth from labor, and that there was a class struggle to stop them from taking too much. Now we believe that they provide jobs and we give them communal riches in order that they will allow some money to trickle down upon a few.

It is very clear in the US that killing for money is sanctified. Occasionally you see a headline "Man killed for $3.00". This is understood to be not enough money for murder. It is never stated how much is enough, however. Clearly, the profits of Union Carbide were worth more than the approximately (because not important enough to count) 10,000 Indian lives at Bhopal.

Killing 10,000 Indians or 1,000,000 Iraqis is not even called "murder". So what do you call it? I call it corporate sacrifice.

In 1982, (2 years before Bhopal), seven Americans were killed by a horrible fiend who poisoned some bottles of Tylenol. He was villified in a media firestorm. What kind of horrible less than human would deliberately kill random people? This was incomprehensible! To put out a product that would kill certain people unlucky enough buy it was evil beyond belief.

The same year, it was proposed that there be a warning label on aspirin warning parents that giving children aspirin for fever could lead to Reyes Syndrome. The drug companies were incensed. This could lead to a fall in profits. The Reagan administration put a stop on the proposal.

It is estimated that 1,470 children died in the four years between 1982 and 1986, when the warning label finally was placed on the bottles.

Were those children murdered or sacrificed? If the seven Tylenol victims were murdered, why weren't the one thousand, four hundred and seventy aspirin victims?

My Dad bought a Pinto in the 70s. He drove it for years. No one ever rearended him and he is still alive. He didn't buy any Tylenol either. But the man who poisoned the Tylenol and killed seven people is still considered a monster, while the man who commissioned the Pinto and decided that it was cheaper to pay for the dead victims than to fix the gas tanks is lionized as an American hero. Yes, Lee Iococca, President of Ford Motor Company, who chose to kill hundreds of people for profit, is a hero. Even more ironically, he's a hero because he managed to get the US government to bail out Chrysler! Yes, Americans not only sacrificed tax money to the corporate gods for jobs, they deify the head priest who obtained the blood money!


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Friday, August 28, 2009

Good News!

I'm happy to report that everything is going to be fine. I was deeply in debt with no hope for recovery, thinking seriously about bankruptcy, but the green shoots are sprouting now!

And the solution was so simple! I got a new credit card and paid off all my debts with it. The interest rate is high, but that's OK.

I forecast that I will get a new, higher paying job, and I'll be able to pay my debts. It's important to visualize my goal because we all know that the economy runs on optimism. When people quit believing, the economy collapses. So I have hope and faith and belief. I also forecast that I will hold a yard sale every Saturday and get extra money to help with my expenses, cause, gosh darn it, I'm worth it!

This Saturday I plan to sell an old kitchen chair that I don't use anymore, because it's falling apart and the seat is ripped. I forecast that I will get $500 for it, because that's what I need to pay this week's bills.

Then next Saturday I will sell my broken down lawnmower for $1000, because property taxes are coming due. I'll have to sell something else to make up the difference. Perhaps I'll sell my old shoes. I forecast that that will pay my taxes.

The greatest thing is that I don't have to pay off all of the credit card. There's a clause in it that holds my children responsible! And any future grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I forecast that they will be very wealthy, so it shouldn't be a problem for them to pay off my debts.

It sure is a relief to know that my finances are under control. I was starting to think that I was going to have to live within my means!



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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Played 4 Suckas

You have to admire the ability of the ruling class to manipulate public opinion. I know many people who think of themselves as liberal, and they are indignant about the right wing protestors who are disrupting health insurance meetings and demonstating against "socialism".

This has caused many good hearted people to support the Congresspeople who are pushing the health insurance bill, under the belief that if crazy right wing screamers are against it, it must be a good bill.

Suckas! You are being played.

The bill is a bad bill. It is forced insurance company payments, by penalty of law, with tax money going to poor people to be funneled to insurance companies. How is this progressive? It's not. So instead of having a debate on the bill, liberals are being suckered into blind support by the massive corporate coverage of frothing haters, some even armed, which really pisses off people who remember liberals thrown into jail for wearing T-shirts.

Do not be distracted! Nick Skala, a young, articulate spokesperson for single payer, was not. Asked to speak in support of the so-called "public option" to the Progressive Caucus of the Congress, he stuck to his guns. See his interview about what happened on afterdowningstreet.org.

Nick Skala came to Carbondale to give a presentation 2 years ago, and we used his presentation in June again at a health care meeting.

Nick was found dead this weekend of unknown causes at age 27. This is a terrible loss for our side.

In honor of his memory, do not fall for the corporate manipulation of your emotions. The health care bill is a sham and a massive corporate giveaway. It should be opposed.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Chutzpah

The classic definition of chutzpah is the man who kills both of his parents and then asks for mercy because he is an orphan.

But how about a country which blocks intervention to stop a massacre and then uses the ensuing slaughter as an excuse to invade other countries? And then tries to overthrow established international law in order to continue expanding its empire, under the guise of humanitarian intervention?

The United States, like all other countries, dresses its aggression in pretty words and excuses. They used to "defend democracy", but that was beginning to lose its luster, as the blatancy of US support for brutal dictatorships and overthrow of elected governments gave the lie to its occasional professed concern for democracy.

So now we have concern for human rights and ethnic minorities. This should be laughed off, as the US has the greatest income disparity of all industrialized countries, more prisoners than any other country and the descendants of our original people who live on reservations in South Dakota have a life expectancy of 58 years, while many African Americans, descendants of slaves, live in slums in conditions of extreme poverty.

A country which holds prisoners for years without charge and openly tortures can choose to invade other countries to uphold human rights?

It's absurd. But Americans are raised from birth with the belief that we are the best country on Earth, and ingest the idea of American exceptionalism with our mother's milk, or the BGH laced formula our babysitters feed us with our BPA lined bottles. As we celebrate the anniversaries of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, note that the majority of Americans have no moral qualms to this day about the morality of incinerating hundreds of thousands of civilians.

Europe used to have brutal wars because of moral concerns, mostly about those who weren't the right Christians, or who weren't Christian at all, so could be burned, flayed, hung or butchered with God's approval. The Treaty of Westphalia of 1648 put an end to that, at least in Europe, and established the concept of national sovereignty.

The United Nations was founded to uphold national sovereignty, as well as human rights. World War 11 showed what could happen when a powerful country used human rights (Germans living in other countries who were supposedly oppressed) as an excuse to invade other countries. The United States believes that the UN should rubberstamp and provide a figleaf for US invasions, and when the UN refused to do so in Yugoslavia and Iraq, the US came up with the idea of "responsiblity to protect". (Translation: "Protect" those who live in countries with assets the US covets.)

The absurdity of bombing people into democracy is widely recognized, so now we are told that women are treated horribly in Afghanistan, so we must kill them in order to free them. I guess that's why the US has bombed so many wedding parties, because women have no rights in marriage in Afghanistan. At least, now they don't. They did in 1978, until the US spent billions to overthrow the progressive government and replace it with religious fundamentalists.

A country whose leaders hold hands with the religious fundamentalists of Saudi Arabia, (a country in which women can't vote or drive and which holds Friday beheading rituals), has absolutely no standing to decide whether other countries are worthy enough to escape bombing and invasion.

The US is taking us back to the Dark Ages, when torture and moral-based slaughters were accepted as God's will.

Stand up for the reforms of 1648!!


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Friday, August 7, 2009

Pretending

Single payer health care is off the table. Mandatory insurance company tributes are on the table.

So now the progressive media is urging us to support "health care reform" which is an absolutely outrageous form of debt bondage to the FIRE industry, apparently just because it is labeled a reform. They are distracting us with a so-called "public option" and asserting that this is an improvement.

No. It's not. It's a massive step toward futher peonage. There has never, in my knowledge, been a law that forced every American to pay private corporations tribute. All progressives should be up in arms about the enriching of the insurance companies, as well as the finance corporations.

Why do progressives fall for this? It's almost as if they think we're as dumb as Fox News viewers.

It reminds me of the elections. We know that the voting machines put in after the Help America Vote Act are compromised. We know that the Diebold owner promised Ohio to Bush. We know that Mike Connell, the man who stole the 2004 election, died in a plane crash before he could testify about it.

But progressives pretend that voting is important and spend multiple hours trying to get out the vote.

And the 2008 election was hailed as a great victory for the people. There were great celebrations, and great things were expected from the new Democratic majority. A President, 60 Senators, and a majority in the House. How's that working out for us?

Single payer is off the table. The occupations continue, 3,000,000 Pakistanis have been driven from their homes, Guantanamo prisoners are more abused, 2,300,000 Americans are in prison,the spying and secrecy continues, Goldman Sachs made record profits, and the stimulus created jobs are mostly building more roads so that the government subsized cars can continue to pollute the atmosphere. What a victory for peace and justice!


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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Affordable Health Care-Supply and Demand

Interesting that the right wing, which screams about letting the free market rule, and the left wing, which is willing to learn from other countries (why do they hate America?), both neglect to point out one obvious problem in American health care.
The AMA keeps the supply of doctors low, so that their pay will be high. This is a restriction of the free market, right wingers! If Cuba can have a doctor for every neighborhood, why can't we, left wingers?

I mentioned this to my co-worker the other day. He is a Syrian who went to medical school in France and then moved here for the high pay. He pointed out that the US imports 1/3 of its doctors, using other country's resources for their education and then enticing them here with high salaries, although his education didn't cost anywhere near what American medical schools cost. (The American doctors I work with frequently joined the military to save themselves from $300,000+ tuition costs). He said that they are tested more extensively than US doctors, at their own expense. And on Monday, his day off, he got 4 calls from physician recruiters.

We don't have enough doctors. The ones we have are putting in 12 to 16 hour shifts. In a country of 300 million people, you can't tell me that we don't have enough intelligent people to train as doctors.

Or dentists. Do you know how many people come to the ER for dental problems? We don't do dentristy, but people with rotting teeth are in misery.

Not many dentists take Medicaid, and uninsured people are just screwed.

Many Americans have bad teeth, especially meth addicts. Their teeth just rot out of their heads. And they have no money. Dentists seem to be pretty cold blooded. If you don't have cash, forget it.

Let's have enough doctors and dentists that there is an ample supply, and they see people for reasonable fees. It's only right.


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Monday, July 27, 2009

The Albanian Financial Crisis of the 90s

I found an IMF scolding and lecture about the Albanian financial crisis post "freedom". It's pretty funny.

The IMF blames the bubble on the backward Albanian people, who were financially naive enough to believe that they could invest in something and get more money back! Those dumb Albanians. I wonder if they were stupid enough to believe that they could retire on their profits!

Then the IMF lectures about the importance of strong financial regulation with powers to shut down improper speculation.

And the Albanians, being the backward people they are, actually got mad when the scheme was revealed to be a fraud, and they realized that their investments were no good. They rioted! The proper thing to do, of course, is to give the 40lK (whoops, pyramid scheme) more money so that it overcomes your losses and looks as if you are in the black. And plan to work for the rest of your life. At least, that's what the financial advisors who give yearly talks to we employees tell us.




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Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Police Acted Stupidly Arresting Someone

"The police acted stupidly arresting someone when there was already proof that they were in their own home".

The Great Republican Noise Machine is making a lot of noise about this statement. And the dumbass Great American Public is bleating agreement as instructed. I've got to say that this seemed like a reasonable statement to me. I've heard worse from a President.

Let's see. What happens when a President says something outrageous.

"Go shopping, go to Disney World.."

"Let's put it this way. They're no longer a problem to the US."

"Heckuva job, Brownie!"

"There are some who feel that if they attack us, we may leave prematurely.... My answer is -
bring 'em on!"

"Our enemies never stop thinking of ways to hurt our country and neither do we".

"Those weapons of mass destruction got to be here somewhere".

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Deserving Rich

The argument among we peasants over increasing taxes on the rich is pretty fascinating. No one wants to give up services (at least the ones they personally benefit from), but very few seem to want to pay for them. Even more interesting, they don't want the rich to pay their share, let alone more on the excess that they collect. They don't believe in "income redistribution", although the last 30 years have seen a massive redistribution from the poor to the rich. Workers feel that you can't get blood from a turnip. That's right, you can't. But you can get blood from a leech! Especially from those who have engorged themselves for thirty years.

Ordinary people believe that people who work hard, or invent something popular, have a right to their millions. And they believe that people with millions must have worked hard or invented something useful. This is the flaw in the logic.

If inventing something popular makes you a millionaire, the inventor of TV and his family must be wealthy beyond belief, right? Wrong. How about air conditioning, which changed the demographics of the US? Wrong. If working hard makes you rich, underground coal miners and roofers should be millionaires. Wrong again.

Who is rich? Goldman Sachs executives, corporate raiders, the Walton family. People who rip off others, either at the workplace or in banking. When they show the "retention" bonuses that the elite get, then people get mad. When they hear about the obscenely rich Waltons screwing WalMart workers of their overtime, then they get mad. Show people the actual rich, and they realize that they don't deserve such wealth. But their imaginary rich are getting their just rewards.

There is great scorn placed upon the poor who blow their money on cigarettes, or junk food. Everyone has an opinion on how the undeserving poor should spend their money. People have no problem with taxes on "sins" like cigarettes, and some states seem to think that they can balance their budget on the backs of smokers alone.

But let some rich guy buy a company, lay off its workers, strip its pension funds and move the whole thing to China, and it's considered his right. Not only his he not taxed, our taxes go to help him do it.

Rich people are too irresponsible to be allowed to keep all their money. They just gamble it away on Wall Street. There isn't a cent of tax charged on their gambling. And worse, they want us to cover their debts!!

For their own good, we need to return to the high tax rates of the 50s. There is no reason to tempt them with such ridiculous amounts of money. They've proven that they can't be trusted with it.


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Thursday, July 16, 2009

US Assassins

There's a lot of discussion of what on earth the disclosure of Cheney's death squads means.

Mainstream media discusses it as presented - bizarre though that may be. Alternative media points out that we all knew it was happening - Bush bragged about it in the 2003 State of the Union address. Jeremy Scahill points out that Clinton did it too, although he seems to focus on the Middle East.

One of my co-workers was a Marine sniper in the 90s. I'm not sure of the exact dates, but he was involved in the first Gulf War, because he defended the Highway of Death by saying that the US soldiers were simply trying to prevent the Iraqis from stealing vehicles that they could then use later!!

Anyway, he told me once that he killed people in Iraq AND Columbia. When I said that he was killing the good guys in Columbia, he told me "They're all bad guys."

So I allowed that they may have been true, and then he said, "But I did wonder sometimes why they picked this one to kill and not that one."

So, just so you know, it isn't just the CIA and it wasn't just during the Bush years and it isn't just countries that we are at war with.

And, personally, I believe that the hit squads operate in the US. For instance, when Paul Wellstone was killed, I was quite sure that they blew up his plane, or something, and the same guy told me that it was quite easy to sabotage a plane without explosives. Unfortunately, I can't remember how he said it was done. And although he is a right wing Republican, he agreed that Paul Wellstone was assassinated.



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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Downsizing

I watched a chirpily happy "newstory" the other day. A family that had been living large, with SUVs, a McMansion, multiple flat screen TVs, and other amenities, had their income cut. The story was about "learning what's important", and showed them selling the cars, growing a garden, and eating at home, instead of in fancy restaurants. Guess what? It wasn't that bad. They kind of liked spending more time with their family. (And they weren't even fired politicians.)

So here's the thing. My country and state and city have been living large, with lots of wars and roadbuilding, corn-stuffed cows and chickens, prisons and fancy prison-like schools, complete with guards. But now, our income has been cut. Or rather, it was cut years ago, but they kept borrowing for all the amenities, even adding Homeland Security and bank bailouts in this century. Man, that's expensive!

I'm ready to cut back. I want to put the Pentagon on a budget! Stop the wars. Stop the incessant road-building. Without the wars, we can't afford oil or cars anyway. Let the kids go to school in the old open schools. Legalize pot, for Pete's sake. (And everyone else's). That should make the prisons cheaper to run. Let them grow gardens. Some of them do anyway. Quit paying the corporate farmers to grow too much corn. Let's have some land reform in the USA.
Let the banks fail. Then the small banks and credit unions who didn't participate in the orgy can take care of our banking needs. Back off on Homeland Security and the spying and paper-checking that goes with it.

Let's cut back and spend more time with our families! Isn't that what's really important? (Cut to the violins and soft focus picture montage here).

Or at least, let's quit destroying other people's families, killing their children, burning their houses and making their lives miserable. It's too expensive. We really can't afford it anymore.





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