Monday, December 20, 2010

No Patient Left Behind

Clear Skies, Healthy Forests, No Child Left Behind, Health Care Accountability - gosh, our ruling class gives us so many wonderful things!

I started working as a nurse in 1979. At the time, it was a fairly good job. The pay was about equal with other blue collar jobs, like factory work and construction.

Then the attack on unions started, and out-sourcing blue-collar jobs began. In the meantime, medical care became big business.

So, now we have nursing paying more than other blue collar jobs, what there are left of them.

What is to be done?

For a few years now, there has been a concerted effort to get more young people educated as nurses. Articles in the corporate media, "news reports" on TV, advertisements everywhere, even Jon Stewart had a segment on the "need for nurses".

And, as we've been flooded with eager new nurses, ready to work for almost half our pay, we older nurses have been increasingly threatened with being fired. My old supervisor told me that she was under a lot of pressure from her immediate boss to get rid of her experienced nurses and hire new grads. She was resistant, arguing that an ER should be run by people who know what they're doing, but they made her life so miserable that she quit.

Now we are told that the new "health care" Act calls for cuts in Medicare to hospitals which don't perform up to standards.

Well, who could be against that? It's like children not learning in school. Surely we want good health care, just like we want our children educated.

How's that No Child Left Behind thing working out for you? Is all our children learning now? (As Bush would say).

That's what is coming with hospital care. They are going to base Medicare pay, on which most hospitals depend, on core measures.

Some of them are worthwhile, like making sure that heart attack victims get aspirin promptly, and making sure that people with pneumonia get antibiotics.

But there also is a Press Ganey part. There is a corporation that mails out cards to patients and asks them to rate their care on a 1-5 scale. Then they grade the hospitals on a curve, based on the responses.

So, just like schools are continually expected to improve their scores ( a mathematical impossibility), hospitals which fall below others will have their funds cut off.

And hospitals can turn around and blame their nursing staff for the problem, laying off whomever they choose. (Hmmm, I wonder who that will be?)

More and more hospitals will close, lowering the cost of medical care, since more and more people will go without.

And nursing wages will be forced down to every other blue collar worker's wages, just a couple of decades after the rest.





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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Conversation with a Non-Racist

I walked into the utility room and four of my co-workers, ER techs, were there.

Two were doubled over with laughter, one was sputtering, and the other had a pained, but game, smile on her face.

What was so funny? The one co-worker had walked into the room and announced loudly - "I'm tired of being the nigger around here". Which the two convulsed in laughter found wildly inappropriate, since the fourth co-worker was in the room, and she is African-American.

I expressed mild disapproval, and "D", the first one, explained, in her defense, "I didn't mean "nigger" in a bad way. I didn't mean Black! I meant that I'm treated like a pack mule around here".

My Black co-worker kept smiling, but it looked more strained. Luckily, her shift was over, and she got to go home.

Later, D came out to explain herself further to me. She again said that she didn't mean "nigger" in a bad way, not as a term for Blacks.

I said that she actually used it in a revealing way, that she was acknowledging that Black co-workers were treated with disrespect and asked to do a lot of work.

"No!" she said. "I've heard all that 'victim' stuff. I don't believe in that. That's bullshit."

I again pointed out that the way she used the term had justified the "victim" label.

She became agitated and told me to look up "nigger" in the dictionary. I would find that the dictionary definition of "nigger" is "low-life", not black person.

I refused. We don't have a dictionary in the ER, but I actually am quite sure that if the word is in the dictionary, it won't be defined as "low-life".

(Another of my co-workers, in 2008, informed me that Obama and Clinton, then running against each other in the primaries, had both voted in the Senate to make English a second language in the USA. I challenged that statement, and she told me she read it in the Congressional Record, and I should look it up. I didn't do it. Sometimes you just don't have to).

But here's the kicker. After we discussed it a little more, "D" said "I'm not racist. My best friend in high school was black. And I didn't like it when people insulted her. We're all just people".









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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Taxing my Patience

The farce being played out by Obama and his Merry Band of Cowardly Quislings, in which they pretend to be helplessly tied down by the Republicans, Present and Future, is too much for me to take.

How can people swallow this bullshit? Isn't it getting to be a bit much?

In order to give a pittance to SOME of the millions of unemployed Americans, they must fork over $700 billion to the very rich? No other choice? The Big Bad Republicans who are coming in January made them do it?

And Obama plays his stance as a populist standing for the little guy? This is why people call him a Republican in Democratic clothes - because he's shameless!

Let me go all Warren Buffet on these fools.

Tax me. Go ahead. Take my $300 a year, if it means restoring the Clinton era tax system.

Or, better yet, bring back the Eisenhower tax rates, when the top rate was 90% and corporations paid 49% of the taxes.

Or. Let's get real. People only care about high taxes because they are told that taxes are the reason that their incomes are dropping.

They can't do anything about their wages, or risk losing their jobs to China, or one of the unemployed. Every year insurance costs go up, but the choice is pay it, or lose it, so a lot of people pay it.

They still believe that they live in a democracy, so they feel that the only way to increase their income is by lowering taxes.

We are lied to without shame. Obama, who appointed a commission to "reduce the deficit" which conflated Social Security and the Federal Budget, then turned around the very next week and shamelessly added $700 billion to the Federal Deficit by making a deal with the ruling class to extend the tax cuts.

AND - they are selling it as a way to improve the economy!! The economy which has had said tax cuts for the last 10 years and has deteriorated to Great Depression depths!

Social Security is not part of the Federal Budget. You can look at your own paycheck, if you still have one, and see this.

There is Federal income tax withheld and there is FICA withheld.

The Federal tax is nominally "progressive" and the rich are supposed to pay more.

The Social Security tax is a flat tax, paid only by the poor, and their employers. Anyone making more then $106,800 doesn't pay ANY Social Security tax on the excess income. And on my paycheck, it's almost as much as the Federal tax, already.

So, here's an easy fix. Raise the damn federal withholding tax, as scheduled.

But make the SS tax cover everyone! As a flat tax, the way the right wingers want.

And stop taxing more than is paid out, as they've been doing since Ronald Reagan cut the income tax and raised the SS tax, using the excess to cover his expenses. They have been using money collected for Social Security not just to pay to the elderly and disabled, but to prop up the Federal budget, promising that the money would be repaid later.

Except that now that we're getting close to having to pay it back, they don't want to do it. So they lie and say that the money owed is not owed. So quit collecting it and loaning it! If a deadbeat announces that they aren't going to pay you back, why would you keep loaning them money?

If the Social Security tax were levied onto everyone, and it was only used to pay for current expenses, then we could LOWER the tax rate and still cover everyone, thereby increasing take home pay for workers, which is all we care about anyway!!

Simple solution, but the ruling class will not even let it be discussed.



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Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Vietnamese War Against Trivia

Last night I participated in a trivia contest, the proceeds going to the local homeless shelter and food bank.

The announcer's first announcement was that last Thursday was Veteran's (really Armistice, but I'm sure that's a piece of trivia he didn't know) Day. He asked all the veterans to raise their hands so that we may honor their sacrifice, since they fought so that we could be here tonight.

Really? We had a Vietnam vet at our table, long an anti-war activist, and editor of the local Peace newsletter. What a surprise it was to him to find out the REAL reason the US invaded, bombed, napalmed, and Agent Oranged that small country, killing 3,000,000, poisoning millions more, (including babies still born with horrible birth defects ), torturing and herding into concentration camps civilians, did I leave anything out?

Those damn "gooks" were trying to prevent us from playing trivia!

And no doubt the terrorists have the same goal!

The lionization of veterans is more meaningless ritual, like voting, but the purpose of the mandatory genuflection is the legitimization of war and military participation. Even anti-war people feel pressure to bow and "support our troops".

Bullshit.

They don't support the Viet Vets Against War, and they don't support the Iraq Vets Against War. Look at what happens when our heroes speak out or demonstrate against war.

All of a sudden, they're no longer heroes.

I'm pretty picky too. I only support veterans that have repented and now are against war. Like Smedley Butler and the Iraq veterans against war.

The smug, self-righteous veterans who feel no sorrow or shame for what they've done most certainly do not deserve any honor or respect.


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Friday, November 5, 2010

Tribal Passions

So an atheist anarchist walks into a bar in Texas. No, really, I did.

It was a piano bar and a fun time, packed with drunken people singing with and swaying along to the music of beloved pop songs.

The piano players (2 of them) tried to stir us up even more by talking about football teams. Please! I am way too intellectually advanced to care which pack of overdressed mesomorphs trample the other to victory.

Then they tried to wave the militaristic Fort Hood flag. Please! As a kind and loving citizen of the planet Earth, I am opposed to the US plan for military domination of other peoples.

Then they divided the bar into two halves, and announced a singing contest - judged solely by volume.

There I was - singing as loudly as I could so that my side could beat those dirty bastards on the other side of the bar!

How fricking easy it is to manipulate we humans by emotion and tribalism.

I was the same way during the election.

Intellectually, I know that the system is rigged, the media biased, the voting machines preset.

But I still got all caught up in the excitement of my Green tribe going against those bastard Demopublicans!
And I'm still mad that they used the system to stomp us down. I am bitter that my fellow citizens, here in my homeland of Dumbfuckistan, are unable to see through the lies and hype that we are constantly fed. I feel that we will never overcome the ability of the ruling class to play us for fools with their advanced and efficient propaganda machine.

We are like the dissident yeast in the vat of tasty sugary barley and hops, saying "Hey, slow down the party! We're going to eat and reproduce ourselves into poisoning our environment!"

How's that working out for us?







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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Meaningless Rituals

Happy Samhain!

There was a time that I felt a certain sanguinity about pagan customs that we follow today. I felt as if The Man couldn't totally stomp us out, that we would prevail, if only through stubbornness.

I was amazed when a Nigerian co-worker said something and then "knocked on wood". Wow. An ancient custom which survived the annihilation of it's original followers, transplanted to another whole people. Cool?

Not so much.

Two of my co-workers claim Trail of Tears ancestry. Why the hell would the Trail of Tears even go through Southern Illinois? Hello - people from the Deep South, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana, going to Oklahoma, for some reason strolling through Southern Illinois? But it's true - they did go here, herded on the death trail by pre-Blackwater mercenaries.

Here's the way one of my co-workers describes her great-great-grandmother - she was a toddler whose mother died on the Trail of Tears and "they" left her by her mother's body, where she was found crying by a Christian minister and his wife, who adopted and raised her. She was Indian, but became Christian and spoke English, and married a white man, so she was OK.

Who was this "they" that abandoned the toddler? My co-worker blames the other Indians, but people being herded by mercenaries are not exactly free to follow their traditional practices. Her emphasis on her ancestor speaking English and being Christian show the shame that many Native people have been taught since the genocide. Those who assimilated frequently show shame for their ancestry.

So what about me? I know that my Dad was born in Northern England. I know that many of England's invaders came from the mainland, invading the South, pushing the original inhabitants to the North.

Who am I descended from? I don't even know. Am I a descendant of the Druids, pushed to the North, and forced into Christianity? Or a descendant of the invaders, whether Norse, or Saxon, or Franco, or Roman, or whatever?

Here we are, on Halloween, still acting out the old customs, long after the original practitioners were murdered and tortured into submission. Dressing up in scary costumes, lighting fires, going door to door, all meaningless rituals, still being played out, but without purpose.

And three days from now, we do it again, on "Election Day".

Candidates give speeches, news reporters remark upon them, people go to the polls and make a mark for who they choose to represent them.

But it's all meaningless ritual. Speeches are now soundbites, reporting is superficial, and voting machines make the marks totally divorced from tallies. No more ballot box stuffing, it's as easy as pushing a button and getting the result preordained!

But we all pretend that our rituals have meaning, especially the voting one.

Celebrities encourage us, statesmen exhort us, TV pushes voting continually.

Tellingly, they never tell us who to vote for. THEY DON'T CARE!

It's the turnout that legitimizes their system. That's all they care about, here and abroad, if you notice the "news" coverage of other elections. A big turnout, a purple-fingered groundswell, that 's what they like. That's why the 2004 election, with people waiting 9 hours to vote for Kerry, was considered a "triumph of democracy", even though the person they stood in line to vote for had the election stolen from him. Not that he fought at all, of course, conceding before the votes were even counted.

But even that no longer matters. They no longer announce exit poll results. They can simply declare that x amount of people voted, and they voted in a particular way.

Who's going to know any different?

Billions of dollars are being spent for these elections. Why? All they have to do is announce the pre-determined results.

But where does that money go? To the corporate media.

Election ads are really media buy-off ads.

Elections are to the media as Christmas is to retail stores. They need that money. And the money buys their submission.

We are participating in something as meaningless to us as knocking on wood is to a Nigerian. As meaningless as a child dressed as a ghost. But much more harmful.

American adults who go to the polls and press a touch screen button for a pre-screened, corporate-approved candidate have as much relation to true democracy, in which people participate in the decisions that affect their lives, as American children, dressed in Disney-trademark costumes created by child labor in some third world country, going door to door to get factory wrapped candy, have to their pagan ancestors honoring the end of summer and those who had passed to the other world.












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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Farce We Call Elections

There are many different opinions on what to do about our oligarchy.

It is very clear that the biannual farce that we are all urged to participate in is meaningless, rigged, and, since the imposition of the voting machines, totally unreliable. Who knows how many really vote, or who they vote for?

However, we have the forms of democracy, even though they are hollow.

Greens choose to use those forms, as if they meant something, to present our ideas to the citizenry.

This apparently is a threat to our ruling overlords, because they exclude Greens from forums in which they could actually present their program to citizens.

Last night, Laura Wells, the Green Party candidate for governor of California, was arrested for trying to use her ticket to get into the debate from which she was excluded!

And Huffington Post has an article on the exclusion of Rich Whitney from the debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters.

Here's my comment on the article, discussing the LWV betraying their stated principles by agreeing to the banning of the Green Party candidate-

30 years of right wing propaganda has an effect.
The League of Women Voters, supposedly a non-partisan group, now offends democratic principles by banning Rich Whitney from the debates.
Have they no shame?
They need to change their platform to match their actions. No more bragging about their non-partisan stance. How about this?-
"The League of Women Voters stands with the corporate media to make sure that American voters only hear from the two corporate parties. We have no interest in educating the American voter. We will use the respect we have earned over the decades to fool the voters into thinking that we have an interest in free and fair elections, while, behind the scenes, we scheme with corporate media to ban and exclude those candidates that threaten the oligarchy".
I think that this statement of "principle" is more accurate than the current, outdated one they profess.



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Monday, October 4, 2010

Jobs and Justice March

On Saturday, tens of thousands of people showed up in Washington, DC to "demand" jobs.

Yeah. How's that working out for you?

Actually, it turned out to be a get-out-the-vote for the Democrats. Republicans were scorned for their repressive values, their I've-got-mine-screw-you economic principles and their constant conjuring of fear, nameless, faceless terror, orange alert Muslims are coming fear!!!

Look out! It's Sarah Palin! Run for your life! And vote Democrat!

But even the job demanding is a ridiculous exercise.

We workers have no standing to demand jobs. We are pathetic beggars, kneeling before our masters and petitioning for a means to live. They can afford to sneer at our pleas, because as long as we limit ourselves to believing that we must sell our labor power to get money to buy us things, we will NEVER be a threat enough to them that they would supply us with such means.

There are 300 million people in this country, and almost 7 billion people on this planet.

It is absurd to believe that we need that much 40 hour/week labor. We need less labor all the time. (Although when the oil runs out that will change.)

But there has been a surplus of labor in class-divided society for centuries, even before capitalism. We are told that part of the reason for the Crusades was to get rid of some surplus people. The Black Death, which killed off 1/3 of Europe, was a boon to workers, driving up the price of labor, until we reproduced enough to drive down our wages again.

The Americas, Australia and South Africa used to provide a place for surplus European labor to immigrate.

We now have a super abundance, more than we need, all produced with very little labor.

The only way to have everyone employed is for everyone to work fewer hours. When I bring this up to people, they invariably say "But I couldn't afford to work less hours!"

Well, no, not on the wages we are getting now! Obviously, if everyone worked fewer hours, and we produced enough for everyone, then the proceeds of your labor would be worth more than it is now.

In other words, we all pitch in to produce enough for everyone, and then everyone has enough.

The people who suck the profits from the proceeds now would no longer be allowed to do that. Yes, the masters who sneer now while they lay off people for profit would be demoted.

They would have to work like everyone else, and be entitled to a modest, decent standard of living, like the rest of us.

Because if you restrict yourself to calling for "jobs", you get the military-industrial complex, the prison-industrial complex, Homeland Security, Big Box stores, McMansions covering farmland, endless road-building, and the rest of the environment-destroying economy that we live under.




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Friday, September 24, 2010

Ahmadinejad and 9-11

US media is reporting that Iranian President Ahmadinejad told the UN General Assembly that many in the Arabian world believe that the Bush administration was behind the 9-11 attacks, and that the US delegation walked out when he said that.

My first reaction was that it isn't only Arabs that don't believe the official story, and for the US media to report it that way was totally bogus. And for them to report that "Americans are outraged" is reminiscent of their constant reporting that "we all loved Reagan", which never fails to send me into sputtering outrage.

And more recently, that "Americans were outraged" when Hugo Chavez smelled sulfur after Bush exited the podium. And ain't I an American? My friends and I laughed and agreed with Hugo.

And when they announced that "Americans were outraged" that the Iraqi threw a shoe at Bush. Really? Then why did Americans mail a million shoes to the White House?

But it gets worse. I was just listening to Thom Hartman's show. Thom toed the official line, calling Ahmadinejad "crazy" and expressing outrage that he would say such a thing, although he did point out that many Arabs DID believe that the neo-cons engineered 9-11 to manufacture consent for an attack on the oil and mineral rich countries of Iraq and Afghanistan. Yes, Thom. Again. Not just Arabs believe that!

But a caller from New York said that she had been at the UN and the speech was being reported WRONG by US corporate media.

Why does this shock me? Do I still have some semblance of belief in journalists? Why would I? I guess I do though.

She said that Ahmadinejad actually ran through the three main beliefs about 9-11. The "incompetent American/crafty Arab" scenario that is the official US story, the "let it happen", and the "made it happen" stories, and that he didn't say which one he personally believed in.

Her theory was that the false story was part of the propaganda for war against Iran that the US is clearly pushing. Conspiracy theory? I think not!

She wanted people to get the truth out there, and I am doing my part.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

Voting Is Not Enough

Americans are assured that their civic duty consists of voting every four years. Super Americans vote every two years.

Some Americans have noticed that voting doesn't seem to make a difference. They have become radicalized, American version.

These are the Americans who scream "Voting isn't enough. We need to get into the streets!"

Then they apply for a permit, assemble on a weekend and walk along the approved streets holding signs.

Or they write letters to their congressmen, or sign online petitions, or boycott certain corporate products.

Many of these Americans are for peace, against environmental destruction, for government working for the good of the citizens.

So what happens when some citizens realize that the corporate-bought parties, the Democrats and Republicans, will NEVER go against their bosses, no matter how many people sign petitions? When these people organize themselves into a non-corporate party, and jump through the corporate parties's hoops, and run candidates for public office? Candidates that have other jobs, along with family responsibilities, and are trying to run for office in their "spare time"?

They are sneered at by the bystanders as "non-viable".

Apparently, some of the politically aware Americans, who actually pay attention to what is going on, and are alarmed enough to resist it, still are unable to bring themselves to vote for a Green, instead of a Dem or Repub.

They prefer to support the candidate who can win, (because that candidate has been bought by corporate money), and then beseech them not to do the job they were paid to do, which is to further enrich their bosses.

This is like standing outside of a prison with signs demanding that the prison guards release the prisoners. They aren't going to do that, they're paid to keep them in. So why would you write letters, or march in the streets to ask corporate paid politicians to legislate for the people, instead of their bosses?

I think that this is insane. But that is why I'm a Green.



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Friday, September 3, 2010

How Long?

Bush announced the end to "major combat operations" on May 1, 2003.

Obama announced the end of "our combat mission" on Aug. 31, 2010, seven years later.

Will the next president announce the end of "major occupation" in seven years, when US forces drop another 25,000 or so?

I was at work during the speech, and the only people who were watching Obama lie in real time were an African-American couple. Everyone else had something else on TV.

Just hearing snippets of the New Liar-in-Chief made me ill.

I didn't hear a word about the million dead Iraqis, the four million Iraqis in exile, the widows and orphans now left alone in a destroyed society, without clean water, subsidized food, electricity or sewage systems. The babies being born with horrendous birth defects, and the children dying of leukemia from the bombs that our heroes dropped on them.

The president slobbered all over the heroes, as a matter of fact, lauding their "service" to their country, totally disregarding the fact that more of them have come home and killed themselves than have died in Iraq.
Too bad for the kids who believed the bullshit until they were sent over to destroy a country and its people for the good of the US ruling class.

Then got home and found themselves in a slowly collapsing country and people.

Caused by the very same ruling class. What a coincidence.

Too bad that they didn't stay alive, join IVAW and fight for freedom and justice right here in the Homeland!



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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Borrowing to Prosperity

Obama sternly rebuked the Republicans for holding up his "Jobs" Bill. According to Obama, this bill will loan money and give tax breaks to small businesses, which will then magically create enough jobs for the 14.6 million people who are officially unemployed.

Are there really people out there just itching to start new businesses so they can get tax breaks? Who yearn to go into deeper debt to start a business which will probably go bankrupt within a few years?

Americans are more in debt than their government. To pretend that offering more credit is the way to economic health is astonishingly irresponsible.

Especially because while small businesses are encouraged to borrow, large corporations are subsidized by tax money. They get grants, not loans. They get land giveaways, infrastructure building, tax holidays and other "incentives", which workers and small businessmen pay for. They get welfare mothers forced to work for them for minimum wage.

We need to quit talking about stimulating the economy, saving the economy, or helping the economy.

The economy, which now seems to be a code word for the FIRE section of the economy, the part that lends money, is not working for actual people..

The government should help people, not the "economy".

Screw the banks. Let them fail.

The government has the power to issue money. The Constitution gives them to power to mint coins, i.e., money. The Powers That Be twist this into saying that the mints make coins, and the Federal Reserve prints the paper money. This is absurd. Clearly, minting coins means issuing money.

The US government has the power to mint coins, i.e. money.

Let the US government print money and pay people to do useful work, like teaching, firefighting, planting trees, refurbishing housing, laying lightrail track, building solar panels and windmills, taking care of children, providing clean water, and other socially necessary things.

The workers can then take that money and spend it on what they see fit, keeping farmers in business, local businesses going, etc.

Bring home all the troops and stop spending so much money on killing, corporate welfare, agribusiness welfare, Homeland Security, prisons, and other oppressive functions.

There. Take care of the people and the "economy" takes care of itself.


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Monday, August 9, 2010

Interesting Juxtaposition

My co-worker's husband had a kidney stone, and he cried and whined and writhed. When a kind woman tried to empathize with him by saying that she had heard that kidney stones were as painful as childbirth, he reacted with outrage. "No woman has EVER felt the kind of pain that I am feeling!"

While Americans are busily venting their outrage that some Muslims want to build a community center right next (kind of) to Holy Ground, the site of the WTC buildings blown away nearly 9 years ago, some Muslims in Afghanistan killed 9 Christians from a missionary group.

Hmmm. Let's see.

There was a tragic loss of life in the WTC buildings. Imagine the horror of choosing to jump from the window, rather than be burned alive. We don't have to imagine the horror, actually, it has been pumped into us for nine years now. TV shows, movies, books, politician speeches, we still get daily doses of The Day That Changed Everything.

Three weeks after The Day That Changed Everything, the US invaded Afghanistan, and has been occupying it ever since, killing civilians daily. How many? We don't know. We don't bother to count. We don't care. But for them, everyday since Oct. 2001 has been a Day That Changes Everything.

While each person killed in the WTC got a picture and a bio for us to memorialize them, the deaths of the people of Afghanistan are part of a daily synopsis of deaths, sometimes one, sometimes 130. Whatever. We know that some of them were brides, on their way to their weddings, some were children, executed after US troops kicked down their doors, but their names and faces are unknown to us.

We do know that Bush called the attack on Afghanistan a Crusade, and that some of the generals make explicit references to killing Muslims, and that most of the Americans attacking Afghanistan and Iraq are Christians, and that most of the people attacked are Muslims.

So while it is the very height of insensitivity for Muslims to build a community center in downtown New York City, it is heart warming and beautiful to have Christian missionaries working in Afghanistan.

Right? Cause there's no pain like our pain.





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Accountability

In May, Obama announced that he and Gen. McCrystal were accountable for Afghan civilian deaths. Wow, what a man, standing up and taking responsibility for the devastation his policies are causing to innocent civilians being attacked by heavily armed and armored young Americans.

So why is Bradley Manning in prison? Why is Julian Assange being attacked and hunted?
Why are the two of them being accused of causing civilian deaths?

Where is the accountability? When two men with no blood on their hands are being verbally assassinated, and physically imprisoned, what kind of bizarre twisting of reality are we being subjected to?

The Red Queen rules our country and Humpty Dumpty our media. War criminals go free, while information givers are hunted and jailed. Words mean what the ruling class chooses them to mean, no more and no less.





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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Depleted Uranium

Although the supreme war crime of illegal invasion encompasses all other war crimes, there are multiple other war crimes committed in the years afterwards.

The US attacked Fallujah twice in 2004, targeting the hospital the second time, because they didn't want the bad publicity they got when wounded civilians in the hospital were shown on TV.

They used illegal weapons, and weapons that should be illegal, such as depleted uranium weapons.

Now, again, there is proof that the suffering of the Fallujans continues although they are not being bombed at this time.

I mentioned on my radio show last year that we Southern Illinoisians are partially responsible for the increased birth defects, leukemia and other cancers in Iraq, since we have a depleted uranium weapons manufacturing company right here, in a wildlife refuge, employing lots of people. (Jobs, jobs, jobs! No morals allowed.)

One of my listeners told me an interesting story. She works as a driver for people wanting to go to the St. Louis airport, a two hour drive.

She had a Canadian professor in the front seat, and two teachers for military brats on a base in Texas in the back seat.

She brought up the fact that we make depleted uranium weapons to the professor.

The women in the back seat went nuts! They started screaming at her and the professor. The US wouldn't use those such things, and anyway, it was OK, and just SHUT UP! SHUT UP!

She said that the professor, (luckily), knew about the weapons and calmly tried to explain it to the teachers. They put their hands over their ears and refused to listen!

Yeah, but they heard!

I was pretty pleased that two women, deliberately and proudly ignorant, were exposed to the truth, as unwilling as they were to hear it.



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Sunday, July 25, 2010

"I Don't Care About the Facts"

"I will never apologize for the United States of America. I don't care about the facts".
George H. W. Bush, speaking about the US shooting down of a civilian Iranian airline in 1988, which killed 290 people, including 66 children.

We are now in a mini-media uproar about the Scottish pardoning of Megrahi, the Libyan convicted of the Lockerbie bombing of Pan Am 103. Great indignation flows from the talking heads! 270 people died!
And the man convicted was pardoned!

The man responsible for the shooting down of the Iranian airline, Captain William Rogers, was not convicted or imprisoned. He was given a medal.

The US in 1988 was backing Iraq in its (US sponsored) war against Iran.

Saddam Hussein, our man in Iraq, had attacked Iran in 1980, after the 1979 Iranian revolution had deposed the US man in Iran, the Shah. The US supported Iraq, but also sold arms to Iran, because the Reagan White House was also attacking Nicaragua illegally and needed the money. By the way, Israel was the country who actually delivered the arms. The illegal guns-for-drugs operation was run out of the White House basement by Oliver North, now a well-paid right wing talking head, and "investigated" by a committee headed by Lee Hamilton, who later "investigated" 9-11.

In 1988, the US started militarily attacking Iranian targets, and this culminated in the shooting down of the civilian airline, killing everyone on board.

Immediately after the war crime, the US put out a cover story, claiming that the civilian airliner was not on its flight path, that it was descending towards the US warship, and that it didn't respond to signals.

These claims were all lies, but the truth came out in dribbles, buried in the back pages, and then put back down the memory hole for the propaganda parts.

The United States has never apologized for or admitted wrong doing for shooting down the airliner. No one was ever prosecuted or punished for it. Vice-President George H. W. Bush said repeatedly that he didn't care about the facts, he wouldn't apologize for America.

Six months later, Pan Am 103 was shot down over Scotland.

At first, the US blamed Iran-backed Palestinians for the crime, but, in the meantime, Saddam Hussein had fallen out of favor. He seemed to think that the US owed him for the attack on Iran. When he told the American ambassador that Kuwait was slant-drilling Iraqi oil, and he was planning on attacking them,
she said "We have no position on your border dispute with Kuwait".

He was punk'd!

The US organized international backing for their attack on Iraq, and part of the deal with Iran was blaming two Libyans for the bombing of Pan Am 103, instead of the Palestinians. Libya wasn't cooperating with the US.

But they did hand the two over in 1999, and after a "trial", one was convicted. Abdelbasit Ali al-Megrahi.

But on appeal, a Scottish court found that he had suffered a "miscarriage of justice", and the defense was planning on showing that the US had lied about evidence and bribed witnessses to get the conviction. Pan Am hired investigators to help them prove that they weren't liable and they found some interesting facts. Maybe the Palestinian terrorists planned to blow up that plane, but their efforts were facilitated by the very same drugs for guns terrorists that were working with Oliver North!

(And who was on that plane, although others were warned against boarding? A team of DIA investigators looking into the drug-running of Oliver North and his terrorist buddies.)

So, suddenly, Megrahi was released on "compassionate" grounds.

Now we have the villain of the day, BP, being accused of interfering with the justice system. Well, we can't have that!!

What I'm curious to see is if they use their original story in the propaganda attack on Iran.

It wouldn't be unprecedented.

The gas attack on the Kurds was said to be done by the Iranians, back in 1988, when the US backed Saddam.

Then, in 2002, it became Saddam's attack! (Is this getting confusing?)

Would they have the nerve to use this issue to heap anger onto BP, and then change the story to whip up hysteria against Iran?

I wouldn't put it past them!

Remember that within 6 months after the US attack on Iraq in 2003, the story was that Saddam had refused weapons inspections.

And, within 2 days, Georgia's attack on South Ossetia became a Russian attack on Georgia.

We'll see. After all, they just don't care about the facts!





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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Protecting Americans, the Class Difference

The news just announced that Congress passed a bill to protect Americans from predatory lenders. Well, good for Congress! That's the kind of protection Americans need. I'm sure we'll see an end now to usurious interest rates, payday lenders, unasked-for credit offers, outrageous bank fees, etc.

But it got me thinking about "protecting" Americans, because that seems to be the phrase de rigueur for any number of Congressional actions.

Regular Americans, and by that I mean the 99% of us on the bottom, not the Sarah Palin "white" version, want to be protected from the excesses of capitalism, even if 98% of us couldn't identify capitalism as the problem.

Adulterated food, unsafe water and dangerous workplaces were among the first dangers to be identified. Ralph Nader identified cars with windshields that acted like guillotines when unseatbelted people flew into them as a problem, followed by cars that exploded when rearended (the number one version of the millions of car crashes a year).
Polluted air, mercury contaminated water, unsafe chemical additives in food, as well as bacterial contamination. You get the picture. There are plenty of dangers that Americans need to be protected against.

Now we are in danger of losing our jobs, our houses, and our healthcare.

But what does the ruling class identify as dangerous to Americans?

Bolsheviks! Are they in your washroom? The ruling class was in an uproar over Bolsheviks for a while.

Russian Communists! After WWll, in which the USSR lost 20,000,000 people and most of its infrastructure, we were told that their greatest ambition was to come across the ocean and attack us!

The Nicaraguans were only a couple of days drive from Brownsville, Texas, remember? So we had to attack them, as well as Cuba and Grenada, both islands from which armies were unable to drive, if Grenada had had an army.

The Vietnamese were a threat to our freedoms! And Iraqis (and now Iranians) were working on getting a nuclear bomb someday, and then working on a way to launch it towards us someday after that!

The US military has attacked people all over the world to "protect our freedoms".

After our freedoms were attacked by Congress and the Presidents under the Patriot Act, the Homeland Security Act, the Military Commissions Act, the FISA Act, the Homegrown Terrorist Act, and all the rest of the sorry bunch, they dropped the "protect our freedoms", and now just "protect Americans".

Notice that? It's the one very small concession to reality. Our freedoms, having been attacked and destroyed at home, can't really be protected overseas, can they?

So the rhetoric changed. No longer having freedoms, our very persons must be protected.

From random individuals, though, not from systemic class based violations of our ecosystems and economy.






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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Plague of Locusts

"We have nothing to fear but fear itself"

This snippet is occasionally recalled, but not the rest of FDR's exhortation -
" So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory."

This was from his first inauguration speech, in March, 1933, when millions were unemployed and hungry.

Now, of course, our rulers prefer us to be in a state of nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror, exactly because it paralyzes us, and makes us more malleable to their schemes. Instead of FDR, we have Hitler, invoking the homeland and terrorizing us into submission to an overwhelming police state.

Back in FDR's day, communists and socialists were on street corners and soapboxes, asking why the ruling class was allowed to shut down productive machinery, when people were willing to work, and goods were needed. Why was food being buried or destroyed, when people were hungry?What kind of crazy system would allow such waste?

So FDR addressed this in his speech-

"In such a spirit on my part and on yours we face our common difficulties. They concern, thank God, only material things. Values have shrunken to fantastic levels; taxes have risen; our ability to pay has fallen; government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income; the means of exchange are frozen in the currents of trade; the withered leaves of industrial enterprise lie on every side; farmers find no markets for their produce; the savings of many years in thousands of families are gone.

More important, a host of unemployed citizens face the grim problem of existence, and an equally great number toil with little return. Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment."

And then he acknowledged the obvious, that which no President today would ever say-

"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."

Ooh, did he say that? Snap!

He acknowledges that Nature and workers create wealth, not the "rulers of the exchange of mankind's goods".

Yet today we are told that the rulers create the wealth! And that we must grovel before them, and beg them for "jobs", no matter how destructive those jobs may be to Nature, or our fellow human beings.

FDR rejected the rulers calls for more money, for more credit, in 1932-

"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 know only the rules of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish.

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."

"Faced by failure of credit they have proposed only the lending of more money". Sound familiar? This would be the Bush/Obama/Geitner plan for prosperity - borrow more money to "get the economy growing again".

Growing? There are limits to the bounty that Nature can provide, and there are 4,000,000,000 more people on the planet than there were in 1933. Unlimited growth on a small planet is clearly impossible to rational people. Like the unlimited growth of cancer, unrestrained growth will kill its host, our Mother Earth.

What is FDR talking about, there are values more noble than mere monetary profit? What kind of commie hippie was he? No wonder the Right hates him so-

"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 moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits. These dark days 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."

Now he's talking about "work", instead of "jobs", implying that WHAT a person does is as important as just getting a paycheck.

"Recognition of the falsity of material wealth as the standard of success goes hand in hand with the abandonment of the false belief that public office and high political position are to be valued only by the standards of pride of place and personal profit; and there must be an end to a conduct in banking and in business which too often has given to a sacred trust the likeness of callous and selfish wrongdoing. Small wonder that confidence languishes, for it thrives only on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection, on unselfish performance; without them it cannot live."

Now he's saying that the rich, as well as the poor, must have ethics! Can you imagine a President today saying such outlandish things?

"Our greatest primary task is to put people to work. This is no unsolvable problem if we face it wisely and courageously. It can be accomplished in part by direct recruiting by the Government itself, treating the task as we would treat the emergency of a war, but at the same time, through this employment, accomplishing greatly needed projects to stimulate and reorganize the use of our natural resources."

Again, he refers to "work", instead of "jobs". What is the difference?

"Work" implies that something of value will be done, that something of value will be created.

"Jobs" simply implies people will do anything for money, whether it be blowing up mountains for coal, or blowing up buildings and people in other countries, or building the bombs to drop on those buildings and people, or locking people in cages and guarding them, or building a vast repressive "Homeland Security" apparatus, and giving people badges, so that they can badger everyone else, or any of the other "jobs" that people now fight to get.

Again-

"Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. "

What needed to be done? The Dust Bowl, caused by plowing up prairies, was fought by sending men to plant trees. Millions of people were given electricity by the REA. The National Parks were improved. My Dad was in the CCC, and fought forest fires with a gunny sack. I grew up crossing a bridge everyday in LA, built by the WPA. Here in southern Illinois, the Shawnee National Forest was expanded and a beautiful lodge was built, which still stands.

Writers, photographers and artists were paid to produce plays, photos and art! The last remaining slaves were interviewed for posterity.

And for the victims of capitalism, unemployment insurance, workman's comp, and Social Security, all under attack now, instead of being strengthened.

And what about now? What do we need, besides help for the victims?

We need trees planted, to capture carbon and water, and to stop erosion of topsoil. We need art and plays. We need new sources of electricity. We need our houses retrofitted to save energy. We need our children to be educated. We need public transportation. We need safe and healthy food.

We need to put our money and our people to work providing for our needs!

Why are we spending on war, oppression, road widening and bank bailouts? Only a people reduced to begging for jobs, instead of demanding work for our common good, would assent to such a travesty.


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Friday, July 16, 2010

It's Too Damn Hot!

Here's the dilemma. It's really, really hot here, but I know that using electricity to cool my house contributes to further global warming, so I don't. My electricity comes from burning coal, with it's mercury pollution, carbon dioxide production and acid rain problems, not to mention the destruction that mining it causes. It seems wrong to me to waste it. And it aggravates me to know that I'm one of the few that doesn't.

Since voting in elections is widely known to be ineffective, we are now told by the propaganda organs to vote with our dollars.

Great idea. If I had enough dollars, I would buy solar panels and supply my own electricity. I would put in geo-thermal, and use the earth to cool my house.

That would be the major flaw to voting with your dollars. Very few of us have any.

But you know who does? Major corporations. So here's a grievance that I have.

My city, like most others, gives my tax money to giant corporations so that they will come to my town and bestow jobs upon us. We beseech them like primitives sacrificing animals or virgins for crops. We sacrifice land, money and infrastructure.

I went to Lowe's the other day. They have probably over 2 acres of parking lot. Why? There are never that many people at Lowe's.

Anyway, I like to park in the shade, so that my car will be cool, since I usually have my dog, and my car air conditioning doesn't work very well.

In those 2+ acres, they have about 12 spindly saplings, not capable of throwing shade.

Why can't they have parking sheds, with the roofs covered with solar panels? Sacramento, California, has the fairgrounds with such parking lots.

The solar panels could be used to shade the cars, and provide electricity for the building's air conditioning, instead of burning coal.

Instead, Lowe's was busily re-blacktopping the parking lot! Causing it to retain that much more heat! Why would you paint two acres black at the beginning of summer?

This is insane.

And if we lived in a sane society, it would be easy to implement sane solutions. But we don't.



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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Musical Chairs vs Coliseum

In the old days, we played a game called Musical Chairs. There was one fewer chair than children, the music would play as we circled the chairs, and when it stopped, we fought over the chairs, and one kid was the loser. Then they took away another chair and it started again.

This was preparation for life under capitalism, where the jobs are always fewer than the available workers, but the music keeps playing and people leave jobs and people get jobs, so it appears that there is always a chair, or job, open.

No one plays those games anymore, so instead we have "American Idol" and "Survivor" TV shows, where cruelty reigns when throwing people out.

Because you can almost always find a "Help Wanted " sign somewhere, people with jobs are told that people without jobs are "lazy". They are told that they are working hard to support those lazy people, and that if it weren't for them, we would all be rich.

Remarkably, propaganda trumps actual life experience for many. We now have 8 million fewer jobs than we did in 2007. That means that there are 8 million Americans who became very lazy in the last three years. There are 6 Americans looking for work for every job that opens.

So, although people repeat the mantra "You can always work at McDonald's", there are at least 6 people for every hamburger flipping job that opens up.

Really, though, this is unrealistic. Some of the jobs that open up are for engineers, or nuclear physicists, or cement pourers. Anyone without those skills must compete for the limited amount of unskilled labor jobs.

I am a nurse. I became a nurse decades ago, when the wages were comparable to many other jobs.

In the meantime, luckily for me, my wages went up, while, unluckily for them, millions of other people's wages went down. So suddenly, comparatively, my job looks like a good one to have. The medical-industrial complex became very profitable, and some of those profits trickled onto me and my co-workers. But now, those profits are cutting into other corporations' profits, and they are screaming about it. Hence, "health care reform", which turned into insurance company profit enhancement without actually cutting health care costs. Something else must be done.

The ruling class, like the dinosaurs in the old horror movies, having devoured the first victims, slowly swings its giant head around, and its beady eyes fix upon me, hiding in the corner. Yes, that's the ticket, cut nursing salaries, that'll solve the problem!

You can't open a magazine, log onto a website, listen to TV, without hearing the news "Be a nurse! There's a shortage, and they make great money! Unemployed? Go to school. Be a nurse."

My previous boss told me that she had continuous pressure put on her to get rid of us experienced, better paid nurses and hire new grads, who make just a little more than half as much as we do. Upstairs, on Med Surg, they have continuous turnover, as new grads come in, work a year, get experience, and then head out to greener pastures, out of fly-over country, where nurses make more money than even the most experienced here. Then the hospital hires the new crop.

My boss resisted this, pointing out that it is better for the patients to have experienced nurses. She's not my boss any more.

I went to a class in marketing today. Apparently, part of the new health insurance company enrichment bill is a No Child Left Behind-like impossible goal.

Starting in 2014, the Federal government, sugar daddy to the health industry, will start grading hospitals on a percentile basis, based not on patient outcomes, like trauma or surgery or pneumonia, etc., but on patient opinion questionnaires.

The bottom few won't be paid, thus throwing them out of business, and resetting the stack with fewer hospitals, which will be paid on a opinion-based percentile basis, closing a few more hospitals, and resetting the stack with fewer hospitals, etc., etc., etc.

What????? The logical end to this is two hospitals open in the US, one of which will fall below the other, leaving only one.

The speaker today accepted all this, telling us that we were in a competition with the hospitals down the street and across the country and that we had to learn to please our customers, so as to get better ratings. Their loss is our gain.

He used the old - two men in the woods who see a bear, and one laces up his shoes, and the other one says "Don't be silly. You can't outrun a bear" and the other one says "I don't have to outrun the bear. I just have to out run you"- joke, but he was serious!

But this isn't outrunning a bear. This is being thrown into an arena and having the lions pick one off at a time. You're not outrunning the lions, you're just postponing your inevitable death.

I question the premise. Why would the Federal Government want to foster competition to close hospitals?

The emphasis used to be on quality improvement, as in improving patient outcomes, with increased survival rates, fewer nosocomial infections, and the such. Patient satisfaction, while important, is not the same as patient survival.

I can't imagine that closing hospitals, throwing more people into the remaining ones, is going to improve patient satisfaction at all!

People mostly are dissatisfied with waiting for hours! We need more clinics and doctors and nurses, not less.
But basic medical care is not profitable, so won't be pursued.















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Monday, July 12, 2010

Who's to Blame?

The distraction is now complete.

The coverage of the on-going disaster in the Gulf of Mexico has faded, and the scapegoats settled upon.

BP for the left and Obama for the right. Let the finger-pointing continue!

As I pointed out before, some things can't be undone, once started.

Therefore, don't start them! Just Say No.

Screaming about the lack of remedies while the oil spews into the Gulf is like driving your car off a cliff, stomping on the brakes, and then blaming the car manufacturer for your inability to stop the car.

Who do I sue? These brakes are faulty!

There must be money passed out to make everything all right again!



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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Science and Belief

Gaileo claimed that the Earth was not the center of the universe, that it wasn't even the center of our solar system. Earth was just a planet, circling the sun.

Well. All hell broke loose with that claim. Galileo had to recant, because he challenged the powers that were.

Newton, on the other hand, supposedly was sitting under an apple tree, saw an apple fall, and developed the theory of gravity.

There was no conflict with the ruling class with that claim, so Newton got knighted.

But suppose the apple hadn't fallen, but the apple tree had exploded, shooting tiny pieces of apple hundreds of yards onto neighboring apple trees, and then collapsed into a pile of twigs?

And the King immediately claimed that Robin Hood had shot an arrow into it, causing the collapse, so there was a full -out attack on Robin Hood and his Merry Men, and Englishmen were whipped into a state of fear that Robin Hood would shoot an arrow at them, with the ensuing anger being deftly used to get rid of the common law, the Magma Carta, and to increase the king's men.

But a few people pointed out that apple trees had never before collapsed from arrows being shot into them, so Newton was appointed the task of explaining why it happened this time.

It took him a couple of years, because this was not an easy task!

Finally, he explained that the arrow had knocked off all the bark on the tree, and everyone knows that trees can't live without bark, so of course twigs started to fall, and then the twigs fell onto the branches, knocking them down, and the branches knocked the trunk down.

It's called gravity!

He still would have been knighted, because his theory would have suited the ruling class.

And the bits of apples found hundreds of yards away on the other apple trees?

His theory didn't address that, did it?

How many people would believe such a story?

Hmmmm.


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Monday, June 28, 2010

City Government-As Annoying as the Rest

I believe that we, the people, should organize and make life better for all, I really do. And I believe that government should be that voice and power, really!

But, jeez, these people in no way represent me, or my fellow Americans. They seem to exist only to funnel money to construction companies and agents of repression.

Thus, my letter to the editor-

To the Editor,

Apparently our city government is incapable of determining cause and effect and foreseeing the consequences of their actions. But shouldn't the Carbondale Times make the obvious connections?

One week you report on the city's budget crisis, said to be caused by police and fire pensions. The mayor wanted to sell our public water system, supposedly to pay for the pensions.

The very next week, you report that the mayor gleefully hired five more policemen, because the Federal Government gave him money for five years! And after five years? While people who bought houses with five year adjustable mortgages are excoriated for their lack of fiscal responsibility, you report on the new hires without mention of salary and pension payments due in the future. So individual home owners must think of their fiscal future, but not the city government?

One week you report on the city cutting funds for at-risk children, quoting a volunteer plaintively asking "What is to become of these children?"

The next week you report that the city is building a giant new police station in the very center of town. Even more ironically, where a school used to be, now razed and moved out of town.

I guess that answers the question of the city's plans for at-risk children, doesn't it?

Is that really the welcome we want to give to the people arriving in Carbondale by train? A giant police station right by the train station?

People used to talk about our children being our future. I don't hear that anymore.

I guess no one wants to point out that our children's future involves paying off the debt we incurred building prisons and police stations. That is, when they're not actually inside, doing time.

Some future!

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Dogs and People

It's summertime and my dogs have fleas. They seem pretty miserable. Who would want hundreds of creatures crawling around on them?

So, I give them baths. They hate baths. But I believe that, as much as they hate baths, they should realize that the flea-free bliss they enjoy after the bath should make them learn that baths are to be tolerated.

This doesn't happen. They never make the connection.

My route to work involves 2 traffic signals. My Green ideas, coupled with the habits derived from driving a car with no first gear, makes me save gas by timing my approach to the signals so that I cruise up to them as the light turns green.

This drives some people insane. Why am I going so slow? They get right on my tail, then speed up, and speed past me, only to get to the red light and stop.

Then I cruise past them on the green light, imagining that they are feeling pretty, pretty stupid, as they watch me pass.

Nope. Like my dogs, they never make the connection, flooring their gas pedals to zoom past me, so they can wait at the next red light.







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Sunday, June 13, 2010

If a Peasant Dies in a Forest, And TV Doesn't Cover It,Does It Make a Sound?

Yesterday I finished a book called "Xamon Song", by Adam Stone. It's about a teenaged American boy who joins the military and is sent off to "defend his country", and how he learns that he's really there to protect a logging company, and the paramilitaries they have hired to kill the indigenous people who live in the forest.

By coincidence, later on I watched Arundhati Roy speak about the indigenous tribal people of India, being wiped out for the profits of multi-national corporations. The interviewer scolded her for supporting the armed resistors, pointing out that India is the country of Ghandi.

She replied that Ghandian resistance requires an audience, but tribal people are being massacred without an audience.

That is an incredible insight.

While world-wide attention is being paid to the Israeli oppression of the Palestinians, NO attention is being paid to the wiping out of the last hunter-gatherers on our planet, unless someone famous calls attention to it, as when James Cameron, the producer of Avatar, got involved with a Brazilian tribe trying to stop a dam from wiping out their homelands.

What about the people of the Congo? The people of Indonesia?

Avatar was a great movie, and at the time, I connected it to the American genocide of the Indians of our continent.

But the genocide continues to this day! Capitalism, having looted the riches of its own countries, is moving on to the last unspoiled forests and oceans of the rest of the world.

And tribes are being wiped out, without the rest of us even knowing that it is happening.





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Monday, May 31, 2010

Good Guys vs Bad Guys

Americans are accustomed to having complex realities framed in a cowboy movie fashion, so that they can easily be swallowed without thinking.

Whenever the US military kills someone, be it bombings, drone assassinations, or old-fashioned kick-down-door-and-kill-everyone-inside, the victims are always the "bad guys". Because, of course, we all know that the US is the "good guy".

We also have things personalized for us. Financial speculation isn't systemic to capitalism, it's that evil Bernie Madoff. Energy speculation? Kenny Lay. War profiteering? Dick Cheney.

This simplistic way of looking at problems is in full view in the ongoing disaster of the oil gusher in the Gulf.

The right blames Obama, although the really far out ones blame North Korea, or environmentalists. The left blames BP, or if they're really radical, Halliburton.

The posturing continues. Bobby Jindal holds press conferences and demands that the government DO something. Obama announces sternly that BP will be "held accountable". (Just like he's "held accountable for the civilian deaths in Afghanistan? I bet BP executives are shaking in their boots!)

I will quote right wingers when they're correct, and my co-worker told me something his Green Beret Vietnam veteran Dad told him when he bought a motorcycle.

"Some mistakes can't be fixed".

Damn straight! This unshakable belief held by the right and the left that SOMETHING could fix this mess is another typically American axiom.

If we can send a man to the moon, we can certainly.....fix this gusher, cure cancer, provide free energy, etc., (or my personal favorite "why can't we send all of them?").

I used to work in a rehab hospital, full of car crash survivors who were now paralyzed. The paraplegics would sit around all day and discuss when science would find a cure for their paralysis. The quadriplegics couldn't discuss anything, being unable to speak because of their endotracheal tubes. That was many years ago, and there is still no cure.

Some things can't be fixed.

This is why we had a moratorium on off-shore drilling. George H. W. Bush, who was also a veteran with a bad experience, one that couldn't be fixed, signed an executive order banning off-shore drilling, which was allowed to lapse by the Democratic Congress in 2008. It was recognized that an oil spill would be an unfixable disaster, and the only way to avoid it would be not to do it in the first place.

Now we watch the posturing, the finger pointing and the fervent beliefs that the gusher can be stopped, the environment can be "made right", and that someone will pay.

No. The gusher will stop when the pressure eases. The environment is damaged, and cannot be made right. The only ones to pay will be the wildlife that pays with their lives for the spoiled demand by the American people that their "lifestyle", as they like to call the car centered, cheap agribusiness-supplied fast food consumption, air-conditioned, plastic-wrapped way of living that has evolved over the last 60 years, continue unchanged.

But if you point out that our infrastructure must be changed, people scream "Impossible".

Yes, the same folks who are quite sure that a oil geyser a mile undersea can be stopped are equally sure that the American "lifestyle" is written in stone. Never mind that each zoning decision, each marketing decision, each federal pork decision has gone to make the mess we're in, and each COULD BE UNDONE!

People like lights at night, that is true. And the whales were about hunted to extinction before we switched to electricity. Do you hear anyone screaming today that they prefer whale oil to coal? No. As long as the lights come on, people are satisfied.


Do we really need every cheese slice wrapped in plastic? Do we really need every piece of trash we toss to be wrapped in plastic? Do we really need to continue "stimulating the economy" by widening roads and building McMansions?

Just like "good guys vs bad guys", the "economy vs the environment" is a false dichotomy.

The environment is real. It is the natural wealth that we evolved to live in. We breathe air, we drink water, we eat food. The capitalist economy that produces what we call wealth by turning the natural wealth of our Earth into consumable, disposable products for sell is man made, and can be changed.

Nay. It must be changed, or we will find out the hard way that some things, like destroying our ecosystem, can't be fixed.







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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Spy vs Not Spy

Iran tried an American citizen for espionage and was subjected to great pressure to let her go. There were impassioned denials from the West, impassioned demands for her release and impassioned denunciations of Iran's cruelty and lack of fair trial standards. (omigod, how embarrassing, for the US to accuse Iran of lack of fair trials!). Eventually, they did let her go. I am not privy to the deal that was made for that outcome.

Now, Iran is holding three hippy kids in prison and accusing them of being spies. The silence from the "world community" (the US and its minions), is interesting.

Note to Iran. The US doesn't really care about these kids. You have no leverage with them. And this lack of concern kind of shows that they're not really spies.

However, I'm betting that Roxanne Saberi really was a spy!

Another note to Iran. Whoever had their camera trained onto Neda Agha-Soltan, (a beautiful Iranian girl, who was on a side street near the June demonstrations last year), at the exact minute that a sniper shot her in the head, and immediately managed to get the footage of her death publicized around the world?

I'm guessing "spy".



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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Progressive ADHD

When Sarah Palin led the mentally challenged in chanting "Drill, baby, drill"!, progressives were all over it, pointing out that off-shore drilling was a danger to the ocean environment and our coasts.

But now that the worst has happened, and an undersea oil gusher spews toxic oil unchecked, progressives have changed their tunes.

All of a sudden, they are talking about BP, and how criminal it is, and how this whole thing could have been prevented by the proper gadget which was left off the destroyed rig.

Yes, progressives like Thom Hartman and Amy Goodman are pretty much implying that off-shore drilling can be perfectly safe, if the right gadgets are installed.

WTF?

This is the time to be talking about getting off of our addiction to oil! Not how to properly build an oil rig.

Clearly, we are pathetically continuing our addiction long past the intervention stage. We are like nicotine addicts, who smoked the carton, and are now rooting through ashtrays looking for butts.

Peak oil, global warming, ocean acidification and oil gushers, wars for oil, what will it take for politicians to stop spending the Treasury on oil based infrastructure?

We need to rebuild our infrastructure to discourage car and air travel. Quit subsidizing the addicted. Why should the rest of us pay for wars, highways, airline bailouts and urban sprawl? Let the cost of oil rise to its true value, and stop the tax handouts.

But Obama's "stimulus" plan mostly involves widening roads!!

What is wrong with these people? Are they homicidal and suicidal?

It is definitely time for some interventions.

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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Goons Killing Dogs

One of the stories that Dhar Jhamail told in his book, "Beyond the Green Zone" that affected me deeply was about US soldiers breaking into an Iraqi family's house, and when their dog did its job and barked at them, they shot it. The mother of the house was furious, and screamed at them, so they shot her, also.

I could relate to that woman. I love my dogs, and if armed goons shot one of them, I would not be able to accept it passively.

Here is a video of cops in Missouri, breaking down a family's door, and shooting their dogs.

The crime? Possession of marijuana. And after what looks to be 10 heavily armed men shoot their way through the house, they arrest the parents of the 7 year old, (who was present while they broke in, threw his dad on the floor, and killed his dogs), with the charge "child endangerment".

Why shoot the dogs? They were trying to protect their property from armed invaders. Clearly, in American terms, that made them bad guys. And terrorists, yeah, that's it. Maybe even, gasp, al Quaida! Wave the flag, folks. The heroes took out terrorist al-Quaida dogs!


Allowing the police to profit from stealing people's property is a recipe for oppression, and yet it goes on daily, unreported by the corporate media, who prefer to dwell on non-events like the Times Square non-explosion.


And setting up a paramilitary force in every town to enforce laws, especially laws against non-violent offenses, gives us proof that we live in a police state. Just because they haven't knocked your door down and shot your dog yet, doesn't prove that you are free.

Most Germans had absolutely no problems with the SS, either.


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Friday, May 14, 2010

In The News


"Controlled burn" of oil in the Gulf of Mexico.
times_square_car_bomb.jpg
Car that didn't explode in Times Square.

Questions-

Which perpetrator caused more harm?

Which perpetrator will be prosecuted?

Which is more likely to happen? Ordinary Americans will now be watched more, inspected more and hassled more by the security state in the name of fighting "terrorism",
OR is it more likely that BP and Halliburton will lose their corporate charters and be fined and prosecuted for the massive destruction that they have caused?
Hmmmm.
We live in a country in which we are routinely solemnly promised by our President -Bush or Obama, Republican or Democrat, white or black - that their job is to protect us. From terrorists.
Not from bankers, or oil companies, agribusiness or for-profit health care. Nope. From terrorists and that is all.
And the way they "protect" us is by accusing every single one of us of being terrorists. That's right. Show your papers. Take off your shoes. Pee in this cup. Pay for guards and police and cameras and ID chips, while oil pours into the Gulf and bridges collapse and people are thrown out of their houses.
Is something wrong with this picture?


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