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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