Friday, September 30, 2011

A Civil Libertarian's Dilemma: I admit it I am torn. In the sleepy little town of Ashland right in my backyard they picked up a young man who was planning a MAJOR terrorist attack on either our capitol, the Pentagon and who knows what else.Some say the FBI entrapped him. I am a civil libertarian advocate and sometimes angry at our government for flouting this in its amorphous never-ending expensive in blood and treasure war against terrorism. BUT when the terrorist threat is in your back yard and one sees people around you and your own being having to encounter that threat which could take so many innocent lives or worse, my civil libertarian ideological commitment begins to wane. I know one thing: OUR COUNTRY MUST SURVIVE this onslaught.

If the US changed its foreign policy 180 degrees overnight -- which, in part, I want it to do -- and if it withdrew every boot from Arab soil would the attacks against this country and the west or the threat of those attacks diminish? My suspicion is NO they would not because it has gone significantly beyond that.

I wallow in a pool of ideological doubt. I do NOT know the right approach. I know two things, however, and that is the US must survive to remain culturally as it has been and I want western civilization to thrive. I do not want the west to wage war against Islam nor I do not want Islam to wage a war against the west. How one protects oneself by keeping our civil liberties in tact according those same rights to those who would not accord them to us and to those here who, indeed, want to eradicate us I do not know.

Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote "Anyone who will trade freedom for security deserves neither" may not have relevance now. Those in the 18th century fought war man to man with weapons which could kill a few but could not eradicate entire species or demolish nations. That is not the case now. If we are facing an existential threat then a line for me is drawn. If we are in that kind of war – a war to save our very existence – then I am willing to sacrifice some of that which is the essence of who we always have been to protect other things we traditionally are.

We live in a different age. We live in a nuclear age and all those who spout philosophically ideological niceties, I think, in the comfort of their living rooms playing video games do not realize the stakes are that high and we cannot afford to fail -- not even once!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Boston Red Sox and Me: I'm SICK. I'm just crying. Seriously I am crying for a team which puts nothing in my bank account. But as George Carlin would say “There’s a reason; there’s a reason for this. There’s a reason …”

The Red Sox break our heart this time almost worse than Buckner’s boot of the 1986 series. The Red Sox are part of my psyche since I was 3 years old and could remember wanting to play hardball and be a baseball player because of them. They said to that little girl I couldn't cuz I was a girl, so I said I want to be a rabbi instead -- it is 1953 -- nope they said a girl can't BE a rabbi so this little girl had to be satisfied watching from the bleachers and figuratively sitting behind a prayer wall reserved for women among the orthodox to separate them from the men. The two stories have no relation except my heart was and is broken. It has had to, many times, adjust to an alien reality. The Red Sox, my beloved Red Sox, lost what was one out away from a come back reminiscent of the 2004 Series win.

I wore a Red Sox uniform to sleep when I was a kid. My loved-to-the core Boston Red Sox yesterday fractured my heart again. I LOVE this city and this state SO much I would not care if it seceded from a union in a country that does not work for me and does not work for many others anymore. The country has lost the American Dream because of other’s greed and a bought off Congress. It is perhaps gone for the rest of my lifetime; a country where so many lost homes, their life savings, their 401K’s, their health insurance, and their health. Now they are within reach of putting a Party into office that they do not understand is not about them and WORSE is responsible for the mess in the first place.

Have I known disappointments in life? YOU BETCHA. But our president says “Stop whining, stop crynin, stop complainin, stop grumbin.” Those words fall into a trash bin of history as our president, now a multi millionaire, will draw a hefty salary with benefits for the rest of his life even if he loses 2012. He says those audibly stupid words which fall on deaf ears because many others to whom he says those empty words STILL, after nearly four years of his leadership, cannot afford their next meal, have no roof over their head and cannot prevent their tears from falling into a Salvation Army food bank dish.

So I am sad on many levels. I never became a rabbi and I never got to play hardball. Now, yet again, my heart is down to my toes as my Red Sox fail us one more time, my country sinks to the bottom, evil on Wall Street does NOT get punished but rewarded and we elect a president I thought was going to be my FDR idol but is FAR from it.

I prayed this AM. I rarely pray and do so not because it's Rosh Hashanah, one of the Jewish high holy days although it is. I prayed because I am SO sad. Life's dreams get shattered and you don't know why except maybe god -- if there is one – had other plans. I just wish His plans included me once in awhile! Please God can't you choose me to be on the lucky team just ONCE -- only once? Lucky are they who strike life's lottery. I didn't and the clock is running out on my game. I ask God: if not now when? Yes, I am cryin; yes, I am whinin; yes, I am grumblin and, Mr. President, there are darn good reasons why I am! Happy New Year to my Jewish brethren – Happy New Year indeed!

Monday, September 26, 2011

TAKE DOWN THE SHADOW CAMPAIGN: I just sent the following email to five progressives in the mainstream media: Rachel Maddow, Keith Olberman, Dylan Ratigan, Larry O'Donnel and Ed Schultz.

Here is what I asked of them:

As you probably know so well if you looked at Huffington Post today there is a big headline on the "Shadow Campaign."

The floodgates have been opened wide. Millions upon millions and perhaps even over a billion bucks will be placed in GOP coffers in the race for the presidency and a Congressional takeover because of the poisonous rancid SCOTUS decision of Citizens United. I am physically incapable of beginning a movement but I believe any one of you with high profiles could do it. Call it: TAKE DOWN THE SHADOW CAMPAIGN of obscene amounts of corporate cash paid into Pacs MOST of them Republican forcing the people to go up against a Goliath.

I want you to be the Davids and through your efforts expose these utter swine for what they are -- blood sucking buyers of government the rest of us cannot afford and ruining our country in the process. You have the agility, the stamina and the money to begin this campaign. Like John Stewart organized thousands of those in the middle who hated dysfunctional government and loathe a Congressional infighting beholden to
MASSIVE money I want YOU to begin a HUGE movement as well.

We all know that Barack Obama MUST retain the presidency. He has done much good with so much opposition trying to take him down while being handed a plate of scorpions from his White House predecessor. Now if elected to a second term Barack Obama can and, I believe will, do even better IF he gets a Congress who is not so murderous to his presidency. We must do this if for no other reason than to fill possibly THREE Supreme Court seats. Filling even TWO seats would be a defeat for these unscrupulous usurpers of unlimited money soaked power which the majority of we the people cannot hope to fight to OVERTURN the malevolent Citizen's United decision.

Please help TAKE DOWN THE SHADOW CAMPAIGN by exposing its underbelly to the light. It is through light-giving transparency that only the media can bestow can we HOPE to return our country to those who would REALLY fix it and not simply gather buckets of cash for their own Republican campaign coffers and subvert the electoral process as well.

I am looking to you to do what I cannot. I watch all of you every night of my life. You have become my ONLY hope! TAKE DOWN THE SHADOW CAMPAIGN. If you have not read the post on Huffington about it, I attach it below.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
Bing or Bling: You can read the link below about the "Goggle-Microsoft antitrust war for the web" and decide for yourself. The name of the game is power ball in Washington when Citizens United was the abominable pro corporate decision de jour handed down by the illustrious right wingnut political SCOTUS jurists Scalia, Thomas, Kennedy, Alito, and Roberts. It extended big time the stranglehold corporate America already has on ALL of our lives. They do so now EVEN more by Google buying, through massive contributions, into the Republican wingnut camp. Now these corporate swine are extending their poison to what you read on the web. The RepubilcRAT extremist party has managed to get even formerly progressive Google into their rightwing extremist boat.

It might seem that this does not mean much as the moneyball game, we know, is played out ALL OVER Washington by both parties. It nonetheless is important, I believe, VERY important. I am switching my search engine to Bing. Bing is very good and until I read otherwise I humbly suggest you do the same if you truly do want fairly distributed information available to all on the web. If there is, I admit, a progressive slant to a company I will use that company. I suggest you do the same unless you want to be bought by entities that do NOT -- DO NOT -- have most of your interests at heart unless you have a membership in the top 2% which holds 98% of the wealth strata. I suspect most of you do not.

If you are concerned that the information you receive from the HUGELY influential Internet will be unfairly tainted by right wing extremist conservative sites because Google will give them positional preference or even omit progressive ones than switch to Bing. How could it hurt? Every little bit the little guy can do to help erase BIG MONEY'S rancid influence on all of our lives is a good thing. At least one must try!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/25/google-antitrust-microsoft-war_n_976804.html

Sunday, September 25, 2011

My Jewish Heart: I am a secular Jew. Still, I will never turn my back on the Jewish people and on the State of Israel. I am left of center in my politics and on the question of Israel I stand firm in my belief that being supportive of the Jewish state is a humanitarian act. I want the Palestinian people to acknowledge the State of Israel as a Jewish state so peace can ensue. It is my hope that some day this will occur and result in the two states living side by side not in a state of perpetual war.

The State of Israel came into being in 1948 given to the Jewish people by the victorious Allies of World War II and sanctioned by the UN after the greatest disaster ever to befall humanity happened to them. Israel exists because the Holocaust happened. The Allied victors of that era literally did not know what to do about their Jewish population who suffered this catastrophe. Some did not want the Jewish refugee (millions) on their shores. But, I believe, the Allies, too, by humanitarian gesture and to assuage collective guilt for two millenia of antisemitism, strove to satisfy a life-long yearning of an ancient people, who had no home, to finally have one rooted in their history.

The horror of the six million must be remembered for eternity; the brutality of the camps, death in the fires of Nazi barbarity is NEVER far from my mind. I think about it every day; every day when it is boiling hot and every day it is freezing cold my people experienced what few others in history could barely even contemplate as 2/3rds of the Jews of Europe -- men, woman and one million children were exterminated. I will never abandon that thought, I will never abandon the Jewish state and I will never abandon my people.

Al Jolson, one of the first very famous early 20th century American showmen, the son of lines of rabbis and cantors but who chose a secular life despite what his parents wished, sings the gorgeous plaintive Kol Nidre ("All Vows") on the holiest day of the year Yom Kippur. We beg God on that day for the forgiveness of sin, erasing vows and inscribing us in the book of life. The Days of Awe begin with Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year and end with Yom Kippur the day of Atonement.) Al Jolson gave up his occupational heritage but his Jewishness remained in his DNA.

A secular Jew or any person can appreciate this plaintive, sad, cantorial chant (linked below) as we, mere mortals, TRY to DO better, try to BE better human beings, nullify all vows made the year before and begin anew. Listen, love and enjoy this rendition and try to ingest into your heart its sound even if you cannot understand the words. The prayer to me means to be humble and appreciative in the sight of something greater even if we cannot define its nature. The Jewish people KNOW the world can turn its back on us in an instant. Our Holocaust must never be forgotten from generation to generation; when we have turned to dust let those who follow us always remember! It is written on my very Jewish heart.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmJPVO_Qkvo

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Waterloo: I just read my idol Paul Krugman's "Social Contract" article in the NYT (link below.) I have one thing to say: it is brilliant as usual. How come the president did not choose Dr. Krugman, Professor Warren and people like they for his cabinet when he could have gotten them confirmed holding the two Democratic majorities in Congress in 2008? That was one of the president's big mistakes! I railed against Geithner, et al for years. People like Dr. Krugman would NOT be, as Ron Suskind states in his new book "Confidence Men," foot draggers failing to implement the president's policy so their Wall Street buddies would not suffer. Nor would the administration have gotten misogynists like Summers.

The president is seen as weak, inexperienced and unknowing about the den of the carnivorous who occupy seats of power in Washington. This will be his biggest obstacle to a 2012 win. The big head scratcher was the president's utter failure to step up to the plate in the summer of 2010 which saw vicious, false insanity operating the Town Halls on health care thanks to the Koch Brothersesque entities and those like them pulling the puppet master right wing strings. He failed to see the tornado on the electoral horizon. These corporately controlled mouthpieces for the uber rich duped the very people who would benefit by what an Obama presidency could have been. Obamacare (as they insultingly call it will benefit them.) The overturning of the House in 2010 may, indeed, be the president's Waterloo. If he is going to change he better do so and fast.


http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/23/opinion/krugman-the-social-contract.html

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

DO ASK DO TELL: If anyone told me 20 years ago that the military would actually reverse its heinous DADT policy against homosexuals which prevented them from serving in the military of a country they love, I would have thought they were daft. This ugly policy, sealed into incrementally horrid law since Truman, has been reversed in a hard slog by groups who were not only brave but among the most fervent patriots arguing for the essence of this nation. Our Declaration of Independence espouses a fundamental belief that all men can pursue their happiness as long as that happiness is not illegal. Clearly, one's sexual identity hurts no one and is important mainly to those who feel it. Forcing human beings into a prison where they cannot even TALK about their feelings is theater of the absurd at best.

Those who were the biggest adversaries against the repeal are coincidentally the most hateful, mean and bigoted human beings who find a home in the Republican Party which opens its religious extremist arms to them. The reversal of DADT will not affect most in the electorate. What it does show, in crystal clear fashion, is how the two parties differ. It offers the electorate a choice. It shows why those of us who care about preserving equality, preserving civil liberties, preserving a country's humanity will chose the Democratic Party when voting for elected officials.

DADT was morally reprehensible and went against the prevailing scientific, psychiatric and psychological expertise determined over decades that human sexuality is one of variation. Moreover, DADT made our country's military less proficient because it terminated thousands who possessed the highest intellect and special skills necessary in the fight against enemies who would to do harm to the nation. It made us more vulnerable not less, less understanding not more, and less democratic, a value for which we supposedly fight. How prudent and savvy is that?

Now it can be said DO ASK AND DO TELL. When the clock struck 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, September 20, 2011 that is EXACTLY what everyone, to whom repeal of DADT meant something, did!

Kudos, America. You just won one for the essence of who we should be and hopefully, more so now, are!

Monday, September 19, 2011

HANDS OFF SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE: In response to the NYT article entitled "Obama Vows to Veto if Deficit Plan has no tax increases": It's about time the president stood his ground. Mr. President, DO NOT WAVER.

I just came back from the doctor for a routine exam. That office was FILLED with elderly as well as many from the "boomer" generation. I could only imagine what would happen and what will CERTAINLY happen if the Republicans cut Medicare and Social Security. My imagination as well as yours I know can soar to Olympian Heights at the dastardly thought.

Few of those in that office I am sure were billionaires but many if not most were those of us who fit into that great middle class from whom these uncaring, insensitive, greediest of creatures – mostly Republicans – want to cut benefits and what so they can set up an investment scheme for their Wall Street cronies? Oh sure we KNOW how well Wall Street works for all of us and how we can count on it for our retirement -- Funny how that part of our “retirement’ was CUT RIGHT IN HALF for most of us who worked ourselves to death to save for it.

Once those Congressmen (and women) decide to pay for THEIR own health insurance instead of living off taxpayer benefits then maybe we can have a conversation. But they will not. OF COURSE not it might affect THEM.

For those of you who are entertaining the thought of voting Republican remember this that whatever criticism one may have of Democrats this president WILL NOT eliminate Social Security and Medicare. We ALL need to say HANDS OFF MEDICARE and HANDS OFF SOCIAL SECURITY. If the Republicans must why don't they take it from those who make one million or more per year? Let them not get it or be able to opt OUT! Think of all the savings.

Otherwise, get your GREEDY, nasty mainly Republican hands OFF my Social Security and OFF my Medicare. While you're at it save Medicaid, too, for the least of these our brethren -- the poor. Christians should know VERY WELL where that phrase comes from. They should act on their professed religious belief. If you want SOMETHING you can rely on when you cannot work any more vote to re-elect this president. He is your best shot to keep what has worked so well!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Sun Sets in the West: A relative of mine sent me an editorial by the great opinion writer for the NYTimes, Maureen Dowd. The article she wrote entitled “Egg Head and Blockheads” (link below) hit the essence of the American know-nothing mentality on the head. The stupidity of the right wingnut voting public runs deep into their creationist DNA and is welcomed.

She wondered why so many candidates appear to be so stupid and why that has become such a laudatory quality so much so that it is required in the GOP to get one the presidential nomination and, indeed, vital to be elected to the presidency.

The general description of a large part the American electorate – especially certain Republican Party candidates such as Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann -- as staggeringly dumb and worse actually proud of that adjectival description is heartbreaking. Instead of running away from dumb and dumber they gravitate towards it and Rick Perry is proud of all the “D and Fs” he racked up in his educational experience even boasting about getting a “C” in gym!!

Dowd satirizes this as only she can and tells of her crush on William F. Buckley, Jr., the famous American conservative of the preceding era. Whether one agreed with Buckley, or not, ONE could NOT deny his fundamental brilliance and intellectual depth. He had a penchant for the exquisite expressiveness of the English language.

But it is when she characterized Buckley as possessing a “sesquipedalian facility” that she captured my heart. I admit that I had to look that word up. The NYT defines it as “given to or characterized by the use of long words.” What a FABULOUS arrow I can now put in my quiver of verbiage. I LOVE Maureen Dowd’s writing and that is exactly why.

The woman's knowledge knows no boundaries as she weaves into her narratives quotes from Shakespeare to Zang Grey. She is EXACTLY correct in her description of a large part of American cerebral ineptitude. I truly believe an IGNORANT and stupid electorate does, indeed, elect know-nothing leaders. If one were running for dog catcher that would be quite fine but running for and achieving the presidency while proud of being stupid gets people killed. I loved William F. Buckley for the very same reason that Maureen Dowd does. One needed a dictionary when one listened to him speak. Good, I grabbed one.

As another relative of mine said “We are suckers for smart.” I agree. There is NOTHING I value more than intellect and nothing I would loathe more than my epitaph to be that I was not too bright! Shame on this country. It is slowly going down the intellectual sewer and proud of the fact that it is doing so. Evolution, though, will run its course.

The ability and willingness for man to use his rational brain, which distinguishes him from other mammals, gives him the competitive advantage. In 100 years I bet the reality of superior intellect and scientific veracity will have won the day but it will be China rising as the sun sets on the old, intellectually, rationally and scientifically inferior American empire.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/18/opinion/sunday/dowd-egghead-and-blockheads.html?emc=eta1

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Bleeding Heart: It is hard to imagine, staggering really, that the choice for president comes down to a party half of whom would think it simply AOK if someone through no fault of his own cannot afford to pay a hospital bill to let him just simply die; or a party many of whom cheer -- actually cheer -- at the state executed death of a man no matter if that man is innocent. It is chilling that a governor is proud that he spent not one day, not one hour, not one minute wondering if the man whose death warrant he signed is truly guilty but would protect a fetus at all costs even if it costs the life of the mother.

Is this the kind of country I grew up in? What has happened to the heart of a nation who would value deregulated capitalism run amok rather than provide health care as a RIGHT?

It makes me ashamed. I am thankful that there is part of the voting populous who is just as numerous IF NOT MORE, just as committed to its humanitarian principle, just as vociferous as the other side is committed to its inhuman policy.

We know that the party of so called \"conservatives\" bears NO resemblance to Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, or Dwight Eisenhower -- all presidents who knew that in the final analysis when people's lives and civil rights are at stake and free enterprise does nothing to protect them then the people who are suffering look to government for help.

We have had these battles since our country's founding. But I do not think in other eras or in other times that the rhetoric coming from the Republican party was so hateful, so vitriolic, so mean, and so racist that its main object, irrespective of whether the country survives, is that it take down the first black president even IF his policies could save the nation, put a roof over someone's head, put clothes on someone's back and return the sick back to the health that is NOT a privilege but a right.

Shame on this country if it elects, yet again, another Know Nothing Republican who sows evil into the nation's sinew, makes people suffer in dumb anguish and will send this country over another cliff existentially perhaps for the very last time!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Nialls Ferguson--Food for Thought: Never let it be said that I am a wild eyed liberal stuck in my own ideological cement. That could not be farther from the truth. I am CONSTANTLY changing. As a matter of fact I change my ideological bent too much. My one (only one)frailty is that I cannot take a permanent stand on much of anything. I have drifted to the left and even the right (I forget when that was) and everywhere in between. Now I seem to have taken a home, at least for now, on the left side of the political spectrum.

HOWEVER, the link below is to a lecture given by a noted intellectual, historian and economist, Harvard professor and probably a million other intellectually impressive titles, Niall Ferguson. I first listened to him when I saw him on CSPAN in 2004 giving a lecture about his book entitled "Empire: The Rise and Demise of that British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power." His new book can be found on Amazon entitled: "Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire." You may think by the title of his last book he is a Howard Zinn type socialist. He is I can assure you NO such thing.

I put this link below from FORA.tv of his lecture in Sydney at a CIS forum. CIS, the "Center for Independent Studies" bills itself as "the leading independent public policy 'think tank' within Australasia. The CIS is actively engaged in supporting a free enterprise economy and a free society under limited government where individuals can prosper and fully develop their talents. With critical recommendations to public policy and by encouraging debate amongst leading academics, politicians, journalists and the general public, the CIS aims to make sure good ideas are heard and seriously considered."

So with that in mind even though on policy I probably disagree with his anti-Krugman opposition, he is, no one can doubt, a brilliant scholar. Will he change my mind? Who knows? It's always open!

http://fora.tv/2010/07/28/Niall_Ferguson_Empires_on_the_Edge_of_Chaos

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Elizabeth Warren -- Once in a Lifetime: She is a giant among economic academics, she is a gift to the middle class and to our country, she is legions better than Scott Brown could ever be. I cannot think of one person whom the great Ted Kennedy would have loved to fill his seat more than Elizabeth Warren.

Beyond that she has the brilliance and understanding of the economic system and is EXACTLY what our nation needs at this perilous time. Please if you can, whatever you can, think of making a donation to her important campaign. Her opponent Scott Brown has amassed MILLIONS from the banksters of Wall Street for a darn good reason he saves the banksters BILLIONS at the expense of the taxpayer. Wall Street big banks are his biggest contributor!

A person like Elizabeth Warren comes around once in a lifetime. She will give this campaign and the middle class her all. Please consider giving to her to win this important senate seat! I link her site below.

http://www.elizabethwarren.com/
Quick symbolism of the upset Republican victory of Anthony Weiner's NY Dem seat: I would not take Republican the upset of Weiner's Dem. seat in NY that meaningfully. Republicans have lost elections like the Weiner one too and have lost in heavily entrenched Republican districts which had NEVER gone blue but did -- even national ones of Senate seats and House seats too.

Dems also defeated Tea Baggers in the Wisconsin state recall although Obama did NOT take advantage of reinvigorating the unions base with tepid endorsement of what happened there and elsewhere for workers.

Other Republican governors may lose like Scott in Florida, Walker, Snyder in Michigan and LePage in Maine too and a few others because of their bad politics eliminating teachers, police, firemen by the carload. Teachers are ACTUALLY leaving and going to (are you kidding me?) the MIDDLE EAST like to Abu Daibi where they get everything, good salary, medical costs, and all kinds of benefits! Is that possible? An election of Perry will exacerbate that big time and NOT help it.

This was a unique election in NY and I think it really was about incumbency AND it was about a sex scandal so bad that it could unseat a Democrat in a heavily Democratic somewhat conservative district. If this is portents of things to come and Obama loses too there is the race factor to consider. It woke up a sleeping giant and hugely motivates whites while Obama's vote and most importantly his HUGE base are DEMOTIVATED.

This Great Depression II (as I call it) is due to MUCH more than a cyclical turn. It is the primary factor of dissatisfaction. It was and is due to SYSTEMIC changes in the distribution of wealth because of a NASTY, horrible, unbelievably allowable BUT corrupt Wall Street driven economic policy, lack of regulation, S&P fraudulent rating of stocks worth junk AND a housing market that collapsed due to the bundling of bad mortgages sold as triple A stock that many do not understand and worse than awful unequal trade policy. It still goes on.

It is and will be a corrupted harnessing of money by especially Republican politicians from the Supreme Ct. "Citizens United" decision treating corporations as people and Republicans, if elected, will NEVER fix any of it because Republicans made and love these policies. Republicans are NOT about the middle class. They are about the rich and have helped create the bad policy of our Great Depression II. Electing them will worsen the situation for most of us as did Harding, Coolidge and Hoover leading to the Democrat FDR's smashing wins! Those awful precipitating factors of the economic cesspool we are in will continue IF we continue to elect the Republican Party that does NOT care about the middle and working classes which ARE, in fact, most of us!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

An Insult from the grave: I am very dismayed at the release by Caroline Kennedy the tape recordings of her mother Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis which were less and complimentary about the great Dr. Martin Luther King. As a matter of fact I found them utterly insulting. Yes, I can appreciate no one is alive of power from that era and I can appreciate it as part of our history BUT I still think it would have been more prudent to have eliminated those thoughts about Dr. King from Mrs. Kennedy Onassis's rendition and sell a book and DVD to make money!

Truly, if what she said referred to Dr. King's personal life, the former late first lady had a NERVE to indict this towering figure. She should NOT have criticized the speck in someone else's eye when she had or CERTAINLY her husband (whom I supported decades ago) had a log in his own. How DARE she and how DARE Caroline or ANYONE besmirch in ANY way a leader like Martin Luther King whose statue we just venerated.

I can assure you I will make my thoughts known to both the publishers of her book AND to Caroline Kennedy herself. As a caveat I am a white Jewish woman who LOVED Dr. Martin Luther King. No matter what his personal life entailed
we as civil libertarians and humanists can only stand in the shadow of this man who was a giant among us.

I thank God for Dr. King every day of my life. He was a gift taken from us far too soon. Shame on the late Mrs. Kennedy for impugning his GREAT legacy!
Extremism in the face of liberty: That 1964 phrase said by Barry Goldwater at the Republican convention of that era: “… Extremism in the face of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue” sunk his presidential prospect. It means, now, no job, no health care, no home and no one to help. I am not surprised at the extremist right wing oligarchical lean of the Republican Party -- so extreme that one might fall over if one is a part of it.

The religiously and economically corporate lobbyist corrupted nature of this party has been brewing since Pat Robinson ran for president and maybe even before then. Now the ugly decision of a right wing majority Supreme Court of "Citizen's United" put the lid on the coffin. I was worried then in the Pat Robertson days to the bemusement of some of my friends and I am worried now. I do not think my friends are laughing today.

I hope fervently that there are more in this country who are pro academics, intellectually astute, well read, and questioning so that in the long run someone as vile as most candidates in the Republican Party are they will not fare well in a general election.

The anti-intellectual crank thread, though, is an unfortunate mutation of the American DNA. Like cancer one can override their genetic proclivity to it by perfecting good behavior to avert it.

The Democratic Party is not absolutely antiseptic clean BUT it is leap years better than anything the Republican Party has to offer. THINK, America. If you were laid off from a heretofore decent job, you could not afford health insurance, your mortgage or even the necessities of life would you want to sink and probably die on your own OR, in the alternative, would you want the nation to act and help those who cannot help themselves? Think of the prospect that you will surely die if the nation does not offer the necessary life jackets. If it were YOU how would YOU feel with no job, no health care, no family to take care of you, a home repossessed and you are utterly alone? You think it cannot happen to you? You are wrong it can and it is happening to millions because of the malevolent and mendacious actions of a corrupted Wall Street run wild. That is what happens when regulations are lifted from corporate greed run amok. Many are now jobless, homeless and in debt they cannot hope to repay.

Go ahead, America, put your wages in the care of Wall Street and risk something will be there when you reach retirement, your body no longer works to earn enough to feed you and your stock market investment is tanking. See how good it will be with no money as the Wall Street shell game swallows it all and there is no Social Security which for 70 years has worked for this nation to ensure its elderly.

Extremism in the face of liberty is, well, EXTREMISM. Wakeup, America, to these Republican charlatan snake oil salesmen wolves in sheep's clothing. Your life may depend upon it that you do!

Monday, September 12, 2011

What a World--Thoughts on 911: Like so many others, I spent most of Sunday viewing countless documentaries and news programs of 9/11 re-living that antithetical crystal clear day to its malevolence which became seared into memory for our eternity and passed on to each generation which follows so they know the face of evil and what evil men can do. It was almost too much to take. Yet, I believe, as I do about the Nazi Holocaust that these man-made cruelties of inconceivable violence and proportion should never be forgotten lest the memory of those who so innocently perished at the hands of its despotic evil never receive the justice only our collective memory can now bestow. I watched as much as possible during an entire day the retelling of 911 from different perspectives as I try to see every documentary available about the Holocaust. It is the least I can do being one of the privileged never to have experienced what I easily could have.

The two unfathomable tragedies of 911 and the Holocaust of Europe’s Jews are never far from a synaptic connection in my brain. Every day I breathe I remember. Every sunny day, every freezing cold day, every blistering hot day I remember my people from the very young to the very old, both men and women alike suffering what no one ever should or even could imagine. Likewise, every day I ride a train, drive where I choose, walk where I want and enter any building I feel secure in the fact that the nation is doing the best it can to technologically protect knowing full well life offers no ultimate absolute security.

The 9/11 memorial day was a day of unity as it quite rightly should be. September 12th, can, however, speak truth power does not want to hear. We can still indict those who in glowing hypocrisy were, through their dereliction of duty and negligence most responsible, besides the terrorists themselves, for the fulfilling of this monstrous act. The government says one thing on 9/11 but on 9/12 reality must be acknowledged by us to those who have had dominion OVER us. Some government high officialdom takes honor and credit where no honor and credit should be bestowed.

Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City and 2008 Republican candidate for president, by walking as fast as a freight train and giving a great photo op on that perilous day seemed to take full credit for protecting his city and was omnipresen­t, saying so and crowing that he was fully committed to the protection of the 911 responders. If you listened to him you might believe he, like Superman, singularly rescued the city.

The reality and truth, as I see it, were quite different. Giuliani besides the Bush administration was responsibl­e for many egregious wrongs and for a sad tug of war between the first responders and others who worked tirelessly on "the pile" and those in the local, state and federal government that try to keep them from receiving the health and mental health care they so desperately need. Many are ill and more are becoming ill slowly every day ultimately dying from breathing at Ground Zero the toxic brew of the most carcinogenic chemicals known to man without the government -- federal, state or local -- providing them necessary protection. They are still fighting for what should be rightfully theirs – medical treatment and a chance to live out their natural life.

Giuliani in concert with the Bush administra­tion's EPA official Christine Todd Whitman utterly FAILED to tell the truth about the toxicity of the air at Ground Zero directly after the attack and long into the clean up of it. Breathing the toxic brew by the 9/11 responders without proper protective gear and communicative equipment was tantamount to manslaughter by those whose duty it was to purchase those protections. Worse the powers that be under Mayor Giuliani located the emergency department of the twin towers right IN the World Trade Center itself which had suffered its first terrorist attack in 1993. Did he not once think those buildings might be struck again?

Bush's failure to heed his PDB (presidential daily briefing) warning which said “Bin Laden Determined to Attack inside the United States” just weeks before the September 11 attacks is perhaps the single most egregious and unconscionable Bush negligence which led up to the attack. Bush listened to the briefing. The Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, author and documentarian Ron Suskind says, “then told the CIA briefer”: ‘All right. You've covered your ass, now.’ Bush then went on a fishing vacation in Texas.

George Bush is given the honor to speak at the 10th remembranc­e of 9/11. WHAT did that man and his administra­tion do that was so magnanimou­s – fail to heed warnings, not provide body armor for our troops, invade a nation which did nothing to us so that he could preemptively perpetrate an illegal and immoral war which killed thousands of our troops, hundreds of thousands Iraqis, destabilized a region, displaced millions, tortured, implemented rendition, lied about causalities and failed to get the real perpetrator, bin Laden when he could have? This man who was AWOL in his own time is NO hero in ours.

Bush and many others from his administra­tion I have always believed should be prosecuted for treason and war crimes. Ins­tead, he gets the distinguished honor to preside at the sanctity of 9/11 memorials and be gushed over by Bill Clinton, Joe Biden and a lame-stream media when effective action by him was lost after the first moments of the 9/11 attack. Where is the justice in that? As the wicked witch says in the “Wizard of Oz” at the end when she is melting away: “What a world, what a world.” What a world, indeed!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

911 Keeping it Simple: We remember, we never forget, we learn and I hope we cling to the thread of unity in our nation which promises so much!

Friday, September 09, 2011

BEST EDITORIAL EVER!!!

Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult
Saturday 3 September 2011
by: Mike Lofgren, Truthout | News Analysis

(Photo: Carolyn Tiry / Flickr)

Barbara Stanwyck: "We're both rotten!"

Fred MacMurray: "Yeah - only you're a little more rotten." -"Double Indemnity" (1944)

Those lines of dialogue from a classic film noir sum up the state of the two political parties in contemporary America. Both parties are rotten - how could they not be, given the complete infestation of the political system by corporate money on a scale that now requires a presidential candidate to raise upwards of a billion dollars to be competitive in the general election? Both parties are captives to corporate loot. The main reason the Democrats' health care bill will be a budget buster once it fully phases in is the Democrats' rank capitulation to corporate interests - no single-payer system, in order to mollify the insurers; and no negotiation of drug prices, a craven surrender to Big Pharma.

But both parties are not rotten in quite the same way. The Democrats have their share of machine politicians, careerists, corporate bagmen, egomaniacs and kooks. Nothing, however, quite matches the modern GOP.

To those millions of Americans who have finally begun paying attention to politics and watched with exasperation the tragicomedy of the debt ceiling extension, it may have come as a shock that the Republican Party is so full of lunatics. To be sure, the party, like any political party on earth, has always had its share of crackpots, like Robert K. Dornan or William E. Dannemeyer. But the crackpot outliers of two decades ago have become the vital center today: Steve King, Michele Bachman (now a leading presidential candidate as well), Paul Broun, Patrick McHenry, Virginia Foxx, Louie Gohmert, Allen West. The Congressional directory now reads like a casebook of lunacy.

It was this cast of characters and the pernicious ideas they represent that impelled me to end a nearly 30-year career as a professional staff member on Capitol Hill. A couple of months ago, I retired; but I could see as early as last November that the Republican Party would use the debt limit vote, an otherwise routine legislative procedure that has been used 87 times since the end of World War II, in order to concoct an entirely artificial fiscal crisis. Then, they would use that fiscal crisis to get what they wanted, by literally holding the US and global economies as hostages.

The debt ceiling extension is not the only example of this sort of political terrorism. Republicans were willing to lay off 4,000 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) employees, 70,000 private construction workers and let FAA safety inspectors work without pay, in fact, forcing them to pay for their own work-related travel - how prudent is that? - in order to strong arm some union-busting provisions into the FAA reauthorization.

Everyone knows that in a hostage situation, the reckless and amoral actor has the negotiating upper hand over the cautious and responsible actor because the latter is actually concerned about the life of the hostage, while the former does not care. This fact, which ought to be obvious, has nevertheless caused confusion among the professional pundit class, which is mostly still stuck in the Bob Dole era in terms of its orientation. For instance, Ezra Klein wrote of his puzzlement over the fact that while House Republicans essentially won the debt ceiling fight, enough of them were sufficiently dissatisfied that they might still scuttle the deal. Of course they might - the attitude of many freshman Republicans to national default was "bring it on!"

It should have been evident to clear-eyed observers that the Republican Party is becoming less and less like a traditional political party in a representative democracy and becoming more like an apocalyptic cult, or one of the intensely ideological authoritarian parties of 20th century Europe. This trend has several implications, none of them pleasant.

In his "Manual of Parliamentary Practice," Thomas Jefferson wrote that it is less important that every rule and custom of a legislature be absolutely justifiable in a theoretical sense, than that they should be generally acknowledged and honored by all parties. These include unwritten rules, customs and courtesies that lubricate the legislative machinery and keep governance a relatively civilized procedure. The US Senate has more complex procedural rules than any other legislative body in the world; many of these rules are contradictory, and on any given day, the Senate parliamentarian may issue a ruling that contradicts earlier rulings on analogous cases.

The only thing that can keep the Senate functioning is collegiality and good faith. During periods of political consensus, for instance, the World War II and early post-war eras, the Senate was a "high functioning" institution: filibusters were rare and the body was legislatively productive. Now, one can no more picture the current Senate producing the original Medicare Act than the old Supreme Soviet having legislated the Bill of Rights.

Far from being a rarity, virtually every bill, every nominee for Senate confirmation and every routine procedural motion is now subject to a Republican filibuster. Under the circumstances, it is no wonder that Washington is gridlocked: legislating has now become war minus the shooting, something one could have observed 80 years ago in the Reichstag of the Weimar Republic. As Hannah Arendt observed, a disciplined minority of totalitarians can use the instruments of democratic government to undermine democracy itself.

John P. Judis sums up the modern GOP this way:

"Over the last four decades, the Republican Party has transformed from a loyal opposition into an insurrectionary party that flouts the law when it is in the majority and threatens disorder when it is the minority. It is the party of Watergate and Iran-Contra, but also of the government shutdown in 1995 and the impeachment trial of 1999. If there is an earlier American precedent for today's Republican Party, it is the antebellum Southern Democrats of John Calhoun who threatened to nullify, or disregard, federal legislation they objected to and who later led the fight to secede from the union over slavery."

A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress's generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner.

A deeply cynical tactic, to be sure, but a psychologically insightful one that plays on the weaknesses both of the voting public and the news media. There are tens of millions of low-information voters who hardly know which party controls which branch of government, let alone which party is pursuing a particular legislative tactic. These voters' confusion over who did what allows them to form the conclusion that "they are all crooks," and that "government is no good," further leading them to think, "a plague on both your houses" and "the parties are like two kids in a school yard." This ill-informed public cynicism, in its turn, further intensifies the long-term decline in public trust in government that has been taking place since the early 1960s - a distrust that has been stoked by Republican rhetoric at every turn ("Government is the problem," declared Ronald Reagan in 1980).

The media are also complicit in this phenomenon. Ever since the bifurcation of electronic media into a more or less respectable "hard news" segment and a rabidly ideological talk radio and cable TV political propaganda arm, the "respectable" media have been terrified of any criticism for perceived bias. Hence, they hew to the practice of false evenhandedness. Paul Krugman has skewered this tactic as being the "centrist cop-out." "I joked long ago," he says, "that if one party declared that the earth was flat, the headlines would read 'Views Differ on Shape of Planet.'"

Inside-the-Beltway wise guy Chris Cillizza merely proves Krugman right in his Washington Post analysis of "winners and losers" in the debt ceiling impasse. He wrote that the institution of Congress was a big loser in the fracas, which is, of course, correct, but then he opined: "Lawmakers - bless their hearts - seem entirely unaware of just how bad they looked during this fight and will almost certainly spend the next few weeks (or months) congratulating themselves on their tremendous magnanimity." Note how the pundit's ironic deprecation falls like the rain on the just and unjust alike, on those who precipitated the needless crisis and those who despaired of it. He seems oblivious that one side - or a sizable faction of one side - has deliberately attempted to damage the reputation of Congress to achieve its political objectives.

This constant drizzle of "there the two parties go again!" stories out of the news bureaus, combined with the hazy confusion of low-information voters, means that the long-term Republican strategy of undermining confidence in our democratic institutions has reaped electoral dividends. The United States has nearly the lowest voter participation among Western democracies; this, again, is a consequence of the decline of trust in government institutions - if government is a racket and both parties are the same, why vote? And if the uninvolved middle declines to vote, it increases the electoral clout of a minority that is constantly being whipped into a lather by three hours daily of Rush Limbaugh or Fox News. There were only 44 million Republican voters in the 2010 mid-term elections, but they effectively canceled the political results of the election of President Obama by 69 million voters.

This tactic of inducing public distrust of government is not only cynical, it is schizophrenic. For people who profess to revere the Constitution, it is strange that they so caustically denigrate the very federal government that is the material expression of the principles embodied in that document. This is not to say that there is not some theoretical limit to the size or intrusiveness of government; I would be the first to say there are such limits, both fiscal and Constitutional. But most Republican officeholders seem strangely uninterested in the effective repeal of Fourth Amendment protections by the Patriot Act, the weakening of habeas corpus and self-incrimination protections in the public hysteria following 9/11 or the unpalatable fact that the United States has the largest incarcerated population of any country on earth. If anything, they would probably opt for more incarcerated persons, as imprisonment is a profit center for the prison privatization industry, which is itself a growth center for political contributions to these same politicians.[1] Instead, they prefer to rail against those government programs that actually help people. And when a program is too popular to attack directly, like Medicare or Social Security, they prefer to undermine it by feigning an agonized concern about the deficit. That concern, as we shall see, is largely fictitious.

Undermining Americans' belief in their own institutions of self-government remains a prime GOP electoral strategy. But if this technique falls short of producing Karl Rove's dream of 30 years of unchallengeable one-party rule (as all such techniques always fall short of achieving the angry and embittered true believer's New Jerusalem), there are other even less savory techniques upon which to fall back. Ever since Republicans captured the majority in a number of state legislatures last November, they have systematically attempted to make it more difficult to vote: by onerous voter ID requirements (in Wisconsin, Republicans have legislated photo IDs while simultaneously shutting Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offices in Democratic constituencies while at the same time lengthening the hours of operation of DMV offices in GOP constituencies); by narrowing registration periods; and by residency requirements that may disenfranchise university students.

This legislative assault is moving in a diametrically opposed direction to 200 years of American history, when the arrow of progress pointed toward more political participation by more citizens. Republicans are among the most shrill in self-righteously lecturing other countries about the wonders of democracy; exporting democracy (albeit at the barrel of a gun) to the Middle East was a signature policy of the Bush administration. But domestically, they don't want those people voting.

You can probably guess who those people are. Above all, anyone not likely to vote Republican. As Sarah Palin would imply, the people who are not Real Americans. Racial minorities. Immigrants. Muslims. Gays. Intellectuals. Basically, anyone who doesn't look, think, or talk like the GOP base. This must account, at least to some degree, for their extraordinarily vitriolic hatred of President Obama. I have joked in the past that the main administration policy that Republicans object to is Obama's policy of being black.[2] Among the GOP base, there is constant harping about somebody else, some "other," who is deliberately, assiduously and with malice aforethought subverting the Good, the True and the Beautiful: Subversives. Commies. Socialists. Ragheads. Secular humanists. Blacks. Fags. Feminazis. The list may change with the political needs of the moment, but they always seem to need a scapegoat to hate and fear.

It is not clear to me how many GOP officeholders believe this reactionary and paranoid claptrap. I would bet that most do not. But they cynically feed the worst instincts of their fearful and angry low-information political base with a nod and a wink. During the disgraceful circus of the "birther" issue, Republican politicians subtly stoked the fires of paranoia by being suggestively equivocal - "I take the president at his word" - while never unambiguously slapping down the myth. John Huntsman was the first major GOP figure forthrightly to refute the birther calumny - albeit after release of the birth certificate.

I do not mean to place too much emphasis on racial animus in the GOP. While it surely exists, it is also a fact that Republicans think that no Democratic president could conceivably be legitimate. Republicans also regarded Bill Clinton as somehow, in some manner, twice fraudulently elected (well do I remember the elaborate conspiracy theories that Republicans traded among themselves). Had it been Hillary Clinton, rather than Barack Obama, who had been elected in 2008, I am certain we would now be hearing, in lieu of the birther myths, conspiracy theories about Vince Foster's alleged murder.

The reader may think that I am attributing Svengali-like powers to GOP operatives able to manipulate a zombie base to do their bidding. It is more complicated than that. Historical circumstances produced the raw material: the deindustrialization and financialization of America since about 1970 has spawned an increasingly downscale white middle class - without job security (or even without jobs), with pensions and health benefits evaporating and with their principal asset deflating in the collapse of the housing bubble. Their fears are not imaginary; their standard of living is shrinking.

What do the Democrats offer these people? Essentially nothing. Democratic Leadership Council-style "centrist" Democrats were among the biggest promoters of disastrous trade deals in the 1990s that outsourced jobs abroad: NAFTA, World Trade Organization, permanent most-favored-nation status for China. At the same time, the identity politics/lifestyle wing of the Democratic Party was seen as a too illegal immigrant-friendly by downscaled and outsourced whites.[3]

While Democrats temporized, or even dismissed the fears of the white working class as racist or nativist, Republicans went to work. To be sure, the business wing of the Republican Party consists of the most energetic outsourcers, wage cutters and hirers of sub-minimum wage immigrant labor to be found anywhere on the globe. But the faux-populist wing of the party, knowing the mental compartmentalization that occurs in most low-information voters, played on the fears of that same white working class to focus their anger on scapegoats that do no damage to corporations' bottom lines: instead of raising the minimum wage, let's build a wall on the Southern border (then hire a defense contractor to incompetently manage it). Instead of predatory bankers, it's evil Muslims. Or evil gays. Or evil abortionists.

How do they manage to do this? Because Democrats ceded the field. Above all, they do not understand language. Their initiatives are posed in impenetrable policy-speak: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The what? - can anyone even remember it? No wonder the pejorative "Obamacare" won out. Contrast that with the Republicans' Patriot Act. You're a patriot, aren't you? Does anyone at the GED level have a clue what a Stimulus Bill is supposed to be? Why didn't the White House call it the Jobs Bill and keep pounding on that theme?

You know that Social Security and Medicare are in jeopardy when even Democrats refer to them as entitlements. "Entitlement" has a negative sound in colloquial English: somebody who is "entitled" selfishly claims something he doesn't really deserve. Why not call them "earned benefits," which is what they are because we all contribute payroll taxes to fund them? That would never occur to the Democrats. Republicans don't make that mistake; they are relentlessly on message: it is never the "estate tax," it is the "death tax." Heaven forbid that the Walton family should give up one penny of its $86-billion fortune. All of that lucre is necessary to ensure that unions be kept out of Wal-Mart, that women employees not be promoted and that politicians be kept on a short leash.

It was not always thus. It would have been hard to find an uneducated farmer during the depression of the 1890s who did not have a very accurate idea about exactly which economic interests were shafting him. An unemployed worker in a breadline in 1932 would have felt little gratitude to the Rockefellers or the Mellons. But that is not the case in the present economic crisis. After a riot of unbridled greed such as the world has not seen since the conquistadors' looting expeditions and after an unprecedented broad and rapid transfer of wealth upward by Wall Street and its corporate satellites, where is the popular anger directed, at least as depicted in the media? At "Washington spending" - which has increased primarily to provide unemployment compensation, food stamps and Medicaid to those economically damaged by the previous decade's corporate saturnalia. Or the popular rage is harmlessly diverted against pseudo-issues: death panels, birtherism, gay marriage, abortion, and so on, none of which stands to dent the corporate bottom line in the slightest.

Thus far, I have concentrated on Republican tactics, rather than Republican beliefs, but the tactics themselves are important indicators of an absolutist, authoritarian mindset that is increasingly hostile to the democratic values of reason, compromise and conciliation. Rather, this mindset seeks polarizing division (Karl Rove has been very explicit that this is his principal campaign strategy), conflict and the crushing of opposition.

As for what they really believe, the Republican Party of 2011 believes in three principal tenets I have laid out below. The rest of their platform one may safely dismiss as window dressing:

1. The GOP cares solely and exclusively about its rich contributors. The party has built a whole catechism on the protection and further enrichment of America's plutocracy. Their caterwauling about deficit and debt is so much eyewash to con the public. Whatever else President Obama has accomplished (and many of his purported accomplishments are highly suspect), his $4-trillion deficit reduction package did perform the useful service of smoking out Republican hypocrisy. The GOP refused, because it could not abide so much as a one-tenth of one percent increase on the tax rates of the Walton family or the Koch brothers, much less a repeal of the carried interest rule that permits billionaire hedge fund managers to pay income tax at a lower effective rate than cops or nurses. Republicans finally settled on a deal that had far less deficit reduction - and even less spending reduction! - than Obama's offer, because of their iron resolution to protect at all costs our society's overclass.

Republicans have attempted to camouflage their amorous solicitude for billionaires with a fog of misleading rhetoric. John Boehner is fond of saying, "we won't raise anyone's taxes," as if the take-home pay of an Olive Garden waitress were inextricably bound up with whether Warren Buffett pays his capital gains as ordinary income or at a lower rate. Another chestnut is that millionaires and billionaires are "job creators." US corporations have just had their most profitable quarters in history; Apple, for one, is sitting on $76 billion in cash, more than the GDP of most countries. So, where are the jobs?

Another smokescreen is the "small business" meme, since standing up for Mom's and Pop's corner store is politically more attractive than to be seen shilling for a megacorporation. Raising taxes on the wealthy will kill small business' ability to hire; that is the GOP dirge every time Bernie Sanders or some Democrat offers an amendment to increase taxes on incomes above $1 million. But the number of small businesses that have a net annual income over a million dollars is de minimis, if not by definition impossible (as they would no longer be small businesses). And as data from the Center for Economic and Policy Research have shown, small businesses account for only 7.2 percent of total US employment, a significantly smaller share of total employment than in most Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.

Likewise, Republicans have assiduously spread the myth that Americans are conspicuously overtaxed. But compared to other OECD countries, the effective rates of US taxation are among the lowest. In particular, they point to the top corporate income rate of 35 percent as being confiscatory Bolshevism. But again, the effective rate is much lower. Did GE pay 35 percent on 2010 profits of $14 billion? No, it paid zero.

When pressed, Republicans make up misleading statistics to "prove" that the America's fiscal burden is being borne by the rich and the rest of us are just freeloaders who don't appreciate that fact. "Half of Americans don't pay taxes" is a perennial meme. But what they leave out is that that statement refers to federal income taxes. There are millions of people who don't pay income taxes, but do contribute payroll taxes - among the most regressive forms of taxation. But according to GOP fiscal theology, payroll taxes don't count. Somehow, they have convinced themselves that since payroll taxes go into trust funds, they're not real taxes. Likewise, state and local sales taxes apparently don't count, although their effect on a poor person buying necessities like foodstuffs is far more regressive than on a millionaire.

All of these half truths and outright lies have seeped into popular culture via the corporate-owned business press. Just listen to CNBC for a few hours and you will hear most of them in one form or another. More important politically, Republicans' myths about taxation have been internalized by millions of economically downscale "values voters," who may have been attracted to the GOP for other reasons (which I will explain later), but who now accept this misinformation as dogma.

And when misinformation isn't enough to sustain popular support for the GOP's agenda, concealment is needed. One fairly innocuous provision in the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill requires public companies to make a more transparent disclosure of CEO compensation, including bonuses. Note that it would not limit the compensation, only require full disclosure. Republicans are hell-bent on repealing this provision. Of course; it would not serve Wall Street interests if the public took an unhealthy interest in the disparity of their own incomes as against that of a bank CEO. As Spencer Bachus, the Republican chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, says, "In Washington, the view is that the banks are to be regulated and my view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks."

2. They worship at the altar of Mars. While the me-too Democrats have set a horrible example of keeping up with the Joneses with respect to waging wars, they can never match GOP stalwarts such as John McCain or Lindsey Graham in their sheer, libidinous enthusiasm for invading other countries. McCain wanted to mix it up with Russia - a nuclear-armed state - during the latter's conflict with Georgia in 2008 (remember? - "we are all Georgians now," a slogan that did not, fortunately, catch on), while Graham has been persistently agitating for attacks on Iran and intervention in Syria. And these are not fringe elements of the party; they are the leading "defense experts," who always get tapped for the Sunday talk shows. About a month before Republicans began holding a gun to the head of the credit markets to get trillions of dollars of cuts, these same Republicans passed a defense appropriations bill that increased spending by $17 billion over the prior year's defense appropriation. To borrow Chris Hedges' formulation, war is the force that gives meaning to their lives.

A cynic might conclude that this militaristic enthusiasm is no more complicated than the fact that Pentagon contractors spread a lot of bribery money around Capitol Hill. That is true, but there is more to it than that. It is not necessarily even the fact that members of Congress feel they are protecting constituents' jobs. The wildly uneven concentration of defense contracts and military bases nationally means that some areas, like Washington, DC, and San Diego, are heavily dependent on Department of Defense (DOD) spending. But there are many more areas of the country whose net balance is negative: the citizenry pays more in taxes to support the Pentagon than it receives back in local contracts.

And the economic justification for Pentagon spending is even more fallacious when one considers that the $700 billion annual DOD budget creates comparatively few jobs. The days of Rosie the Riveter are long gone; most weapons projects now require very little touch labor. Instead, a disproportionate share is siphoned off into high-cost research and development (from which the civilian economy benefits little); exorbitant management expenditures, overhead and out-and-out padding; and, of course, the money that flows back into the coffers of political campaigns. A million dollars appropriated for highway construction would create two to three times as many jobs as a million dollars appropriated for Pentagon weapons procurement, so the jobs argument is ultimately specious.

Take away the cash nexus and there still remains a psychological predisposition toward war and militarism on the part of the GOP. This undoubtedly arises from a neurotic need to demonstrate toughness and dovetails perfectly with the belligerent tough-guy pose one constantly hears on right-wing talk radio. Militarism springs from the same psychological deficit that requires an endless series of enemies, both foreign and domestic.

The results of the last decade of unbridled militarism and the Democrats' cowardly refusal to reverse it[4], have been disastrous both strategically and fiscally. It has made the United States less prosperous, less secure and less free. Unfortunately, the militarism and the promiscuous intervention it gives rise to are only likely to abate when the Treasury is exhausted, just as it happened to the Dutch Republic and the British Empire.

3. Give me that old time religion. Pandering to fundamentalism is a full-time vocation in the GOP. Beginning in the 1970s, religious cranks ceased simply to be a minor public nuisance in this country and grew into the major element of the Republican rank and file. Pat Robertson's strong showing in the 1988 Iowa Caucus signaled the gradual merger of politics and religion in the party. The results are all around us: if the American people poll more like Iranians or Nigerians than Europeans or Canadians on questions of evolution versus creationism, scriptural inerrancy, the existence of angels and demons, and so forth, that result is due to the rise of the religious right, its insertion into the public sphere by the Republican Party and the consequent normalizing of formerly reactionary or quaint beliefs. Also around us is a prevailing anti-intellectualism and hostility to science; it is this group that defines "low-information voter" - or, perhaps, "misinformation voter."

The Constitution to the contrary notwithstanding, there is now a de facto religious test for the presidency: major candidates are encouraged (or coerced) to "share their feelings" about their "faith" in a revelatory speech; or, some televangelist like Rick Warren dragoons the candidates (as he did with Obama and McCain in 2008) to debate the finer points of Christology, with Warren himself, of course, as the arbiter. Politicized religion is also the sheet anchor of the culture wars. But how did the whole toxic stew of GOP beliefs - economic royalism, militarism and culture wars cum fundamentalism - come completely to displace an erstwhile civilized Eisenhower Republicanism?

It is my view that the rise of politicized religious fundamentalism (which is a subset of the decline of rational problem solving in America) may have been the key ingredient of the takeover of the Republican Party. For politicized religion provides a substrate of beliefs that rationalizes - at least in the minds of followers - all three of the GOP's main tenets.

Televangelists have long espoused the health-and-wealth/name-it-and-claim it gospel. If you are wealthy, it is a sign of God's favor. If not, too bad! But don't forget to tithe in any case. This rationale may explain why some economically downscale whites defend the prerogatives of billionaires.

The GOP's fascination with war is also connected with the fundamentalist mindset. The Old Testament abounds in tales of slaughter - God ordering the killing of the Midianite male infants and enslavement of the balance of the population, the divinely-inspired genocide of the Canaanites, the slaying of various miscreants with the jawbone of an ass - and since American religious fundamentalist seem to prefer the Old Testament to the New (particularly that portion of the New Testament known as the Sermon on the Mount), it is but a short step to approving war as a divinely inspired mission. This sort of thinking has led, inexorably, to such phenomena as Jerry Falwell once writing that God is Pro-War.

It is the apocalyptic frame of reference of fundamentalists, their belief in an imminent Armageddon, that psychologically conditions them to steer this country into conflict, not only on foreign fields (some evangelicals thought Saddam was the Antichrist and therefore a suitable target for cruise missiles), but also in the realm of domestic political controversy. It is hardly surprising that the most adamant proponent of the view that there was no debt ceiling problem was Michele Bachmann, the darling of the fundamentalist right. What does it matter, anyway, if the country defaults? - we shall presently abide in the bosom of the Lord.

Some liberal writers have opined that the different socio-economic perspectives separating the "business" wing of the GOP and the religious right make it an unstable coalition that could crack. I am not so sure. There is no fundamental disagreement on which direction the two factions want to take the country, merely how far in that direction they want to take it. The plutocrats would drag us back to the Gilded Age, the theocrats to the Salem witch trials. In any case, those consummate plutocrats, the Koch brothers, are pumping large sums of money into Michele Bachman's presidential campaign, so one ought not make too much of a potential plutocrat-theocrat split.

Thus, the modern GOP; it hardly seems conceivable that a Republican could have written the following:

"Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid." (That was President Eisenhower, writing to his brother Edgar in 1954.)

It is this broad and ever-widening gulf between the traditional Republicanism of an Eisenhower and the quasi-totalitarian cult of a Michele Bachmann that impelled my departure from Capitol Hill. It is not in my pragmatic nature to make a heroic gesture of self-immolation, or to make lurid revelations of personal martyrdom in the manner of David Brock. And I will leave a more detailed dissection of failed Republican economic policies to my fellow apostate Bruce Bartlett.

I left because I was appalled at the headlong rush of Republicans, like Gadarene swine, to embrace policies that are deeply damaging to this country's future; and contemptuous of the feckless, craven incompetence of Democrats in their half-hearted attempts to stop them. And, in truth, I left as an act of rational self-interest. Having gutted private-sector pensions and health benefits as a result of their embrace of outsourcing, union busting and "shareholder value," the GOP now thinks it is only fair that public-sector workers give up their pensions and benefits, too. Hence the intensification of the GOP's decades-long campaign of scorn against government workers. Under the circumstances, it is simply safer to be a current retiree rather than a prospective one.

If you think Paul Ryan and his Ayn Rand-worshipping colleagues aren't after your Social Security and Medicare, I am here to disabuse you of your naiveté.[5] They will move heaven and earth to force through tax cuts that will so starve the government of revenue that they will be "forced" to make "hard choices" - and that doesn't mean repealing those very same tax cuts, it means cutting the benefits for which you worked.

During the week that this piece was written, the debt ceiling fiasco reached its conclusion. The economy was already weak, but the GOP's disgraceful game of chicken roiled the markets even further. Foreigners could hardly believe it: Americans' own crazy political actions were destabilizing the safe-haven status of the dollar. Accordingly, during that same week, over one trillion dollars worth of assets evaporated on financial markets. Russia and China have stepped up their advocating that the dollar be replaced as the global reserve currency - a move as consequential and disastrous for US interests as any that can be imagined.

If Republicans have perfected a new form of politics that is successful electorally at the same time that it unleashes major policy disasters, it means twilight both for the democratic process and America's status as the world's leading power.

Footnotes:

[1] I am not exaggerating for effect. A law passed in 2010 by the Arizona legislature mandating arrest and incarceration of suspected illegal aliens was actually drafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative business front group that drafts "model" legislation on behalf of its corporate sponsors. The draft legislation in question was written for the private prison lobby, which sensed a growth opportunity in imprisoning more people.

[2] I am not a supporter of Obama and object to a number of his foreign and domestic policies. But when he took office amid the greatest financial collapse in 80 years, I wanted him to succeed, so that the country I served did not fail. But already in 2009, Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, declared that his greatest legislative priority was - jobs for Americans? Rescuing the financial system? Solving the housing collapse? - no, none of those things. His top priority was to ensure that Obama should be a one-term president. Evidently Senator McConnell hates Obama more than he loves his country. Note that the mainstream media have lately been hailing McConnell as "the adult in the room," presumably because he is less visibly unstable than the Tea Party freshmen

[3] This is not a venue for immigrant bashing. It remains a fact that outsourcing jobs overseas, while insourcing sub-minimum wage immigrant labor, will exert downward pressure on US wages. The consequence will be popular anger, and failure to address that anger will result in a downward wage spiral and a breech of the social compact, not to mention a rise in nativism and other reactionary impulses. It does no good to claim that these economic consequences are an inevitable result of globalization; Germany has somehow managed to maintain a high-wage economy and a vigorous industrial base.

[4] The cowardice is not merely political. During the past ten years, I have observed that Democrats are actually growing afraid of Republicans. In a quirky and flawed, but insightful, little book, "Democracy and Populism: Fear and Hatred," John Lukacs concludes that the left fears, the right hates.

[5] The GOP cult of Ayn Rand is both revealing and mystifying. On the one hand, Rand's tough guy, every-man-for-himself posturing is a natural fit because it puts a philosophical gloss on the latent sociopathy so prevalent among the hard right. On the other, Rand exclaimed at every opportunity that she was a militant atheist who felt nothing but contempt for Christianity. Apparently, the ignorance of most fundamentalist "values voters" means that GOP candidates who enthuse over Rand at the same time they thump their Bibles never have to explain this stark contradiction. And I imagine a Democratic officeholder would have a harder time explaining why he named his offspring "Marx" than a GOP incumbent would in rationalizing naming his kid "Rand."

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Perry Como: Ah for the days of Perry Como's 1950's yesteryear when blacks were relegated to separate bathrooms and really separate everything; for a time when women were relegated to cleaning dishes and going to a barbecue like June Cleaver, of Leave it to Beaver fame, with white gloves on while her husband dressed in casual attire.

Oh for those great days when homosexuals too often committed suicide or were faced with the humiliation and physical assault of never-ending bullying. This is the America in which Rick Perry would feel oh so comfortable. Rick Perry is a science denying idiot but this idiot has the horrifying chance of walking with cowboy boots and spurs into the oval office. He makes George Bush look liberal! He makes me want to throw up.

In my opinion Perry (HOPEFULLY) is unelectable in the general. He lied on numerous occasions last evening most especially about his delusion of what a Ponzi scheme truly is. Someone needs to coach him. The ONLY candidates who looked semi presidential were Romney and Huntsman although I believe any Republican would be a disaster. It is too bad Huntsman has no chance unless as a running mate with Romney. In the extremist Republican radical Party that may not fly. I could see a Romney/Huntsman ticket. Being a Democrat, of course, I would love to see a Perry/Bachmann ticket but in reality a Romney/Huntsman ticket would give the president a run for his money.

A word to the wise: Mr. President, I would QUICKLY return to your base and make us happy -- pronto, now, post haste, immediately and with all deliberate speed! Give your base something about which to cheer. I, a Democrat's Democrat, surely am hoping in their infinite wisdom (do they have any?) the Republican base chooses Perry but a Romney/Huntsman ticket would give our Democratic Party a case of agida.

The president has been for many in his base an ineffective, tepid, compromising with those-who-hate-him president. It was foolhardy at best. While he had the chance holding both the House and the Senate he did NOT focus on jobs and know how to lead. His most egregious mistake was not appealing vociferously to the Democratic base as Republicans do to theirs. Is there time to rectify this most appalling error? Perhaps, but now is not soon enough!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

IOU NOTHING--A hot headed response to Jeff Jacoby: Yes, hell hath no fury than a woman who knows the truth. I was admittedly brutal to the "conservative" often know nothing but articulate Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe columnist. I stated in virulent form a response to his opinion today about his so called scheme of Social Security. (link below.)

Jeff, I MUST respond to your LOATHSOME -- dare I in nonkosher style say -- tripe article today, September 7, 2011 "IOU'S can't save Social Security" op ed opinion. As usual you do NOT tell the entire truth. In Gorian phraseology money previous generations paid into Social Security SHOULD have been in a LOCKED BOX!! Democrat Clinton not only balanced the budget in his tenure but ensured that our national debt in ten years could be eradicated. Then the holocaust of George W. Rancid Bush saw to it that NOT ONLY would he give his top 2% uber rich sloths a tax cut probably now forever but also saw fit to conduct TWO unpaid wars (one waged by treasonous lies) and embarked on a national security state heretofore unknown in this nation. Beyond that he gave his big pharma cronies a gift of Medicare Part D and beyond that his other cronies reaped the big contracts of eternal war.

ALL of these things cost humongous BUCKS. So he borrowed or should I say STOLE it from Social Security and replaced it with worthless IOU's which would never be paid back and also borrowed big time from China.

This EGREGIOUS situation for those of my generation who not only suffer what your disgusting Wall Street illegal bankster THIEVES did to our middle class 401K savings and working class ruined pension funds but also raided the one thing that older middle class and working class people could count on to get by and that is Social Security.

It does NOT matter how Social Security was designed but what DOES matter is how the rich thieves and your pathetic Republican despots raided what was and could continue to be a program that saves lives. I don't blame your grandmother for loving FDR. I do too because he began the program that helped your grandmother and me, a disabled person, instead of being on the street, have Social Security to at least save us from an early grave.

I realize with what YOUR party and its putrid uber UNCARING rich have done is make ready my grave. Without Social Security my final resting place at Sharon Memorial Park with open arms will await sooner than I thought.

YOU ARE DESPICABLE, as you often are, for not telling the WHOLE truth. Social Security has been a lifesaving social safety net without which millions would
have had to rely on the real schemers. Given the economy today who of us would just love to entrust all we worked so diligently and hard
for to the banksters of Wall Street? My guess is few if any except of course those who inhabit the wealthy top 2%!

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2011/09/07/ious_cant_save_social_security/
9/11 revisited -- The National Insecurity Security State--Too Much At Stake: I understand Glenn Greenwald's thoughts in his speech before the Massachusetts ACLU, adore what he says and how he says it (Link below.) BUT as maturity dictates I also realize or at least ask the question WHAT nation or empire in history has NOT acted shamefully, has not plundered its conquest or in the case of democracies abridged its own civil libertarian essence. The nature of man is what I believe some on the left do not get.

I am NOT for one minute excusing the US for its often times heinous hypocritical behavior and have written much about it BUT I also think we are NOT unique to the human condition. It is a Darwinian condition and if you think humanitarian ideologies will remain just that humanitarian, I think you are mistaken. We see it morph everywhere ALL the time. Orwell, in his brilliant work "Animal Farm" which I urge everyone to read who has not read this masterpiece, knew that revolutions while sometimes ideologically pure and idealistic often create the same monsters they chose to overthrow.

The issue that is most egregious about US foreign and domestic policy is its often hypocritical claims that it does things in the name of democracy and freedom but these rationales for US behavior have little truth. Power has utterly hoodwinked those who think they are enlisting for a glorious cause and those in the American public who are not savvy enough to hold government and power accountable for its actions when it does egregious things in our name. Still, I cannot think of a nation on planet earth that has not at one time or another acted severely because they THINK is in its own interests, for power, wealth or for perceived national security.

The issue now too is the media and how much it will expose odious behavior and how much nation states can get away with without being unveiled worldwide by one media or another. Or to the contrary how much is the media of the so called democracies complicit to the dastardly actions of its governments and in the severe curtailment of precious civil libertarian democratic uniqueness?

Other issues, for me, enter the mix. It is NOT just how hypocritical US policy was when in 1899 it invaded the Philippines. We now have within the reality of human contemporary conflict and subversive attempts nuclear scenarios we never had before. ALL are existentially odious and we must not fail at suppressing these things, as some on the right I surprisingly believe correctly state, even once. The fact that American foreign policy sometimes sows its own demise is something we must take into consideration but the reality is there are those who want to destroy us in a nanosecond by the most heinous means known to man. It cannot be denied. All it takes is ONE fanatic to be successful once.

In response to 9/11 has the US overstepped its civil libertarian boundaries by building our now gargantuan invasive national security state? I cannot answer that with 100% accuracy. Sometimes, there is no luxury for analysis. I rather enjoy breathing and seeing yet another sunrise if nature dictates I do. However nasty our nation's international behavior and sometimes national behavior is there is, I believe, another side to this culture worth saving and which is, indeed, unique among nations. No other nation has the size, the numbers, and the technological sophistication that we do. To protect ALL of us and at the same time to get this massive giant's foreign policy correct is NO easy task. The time grows short and there is too much at stake!

If you have not read Glenn Greenwald's address to the ACLU I urge you to do so (link below.) It is important if you care about you, your family and the direction of your country in our world. You can either read it or listen to the audio as well as the questions the audience asked of him below it. I also urge you to also watch PBS's "Frontline" which presents a brief analysis of the post 9/11 National Security State entitled "Top Secret America".


http://www.mediaroots.org/glenn-greenwalds-bill-of-rights-aclu-speech.php
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/topsecretamerica/

Thursday, September 01, 2011

In Our Name: The story speaks for itself. See link below. I am sickened just sickened. I hand my feelings over to the next generation. Youth has dedication, strength and hope. I have little. Do I believe this? Of course I do. It is just an awful thing and it serves NO ONE most especially American interests at all.

Now we know how it can happen. It can and it does even here and in our name. It goes beyond politics. It speaks to the nature of man. We the peaceful few MUST still tell our view and hope somewhere someone smart will listen and change course.

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/08/31/122789/wikileaks-iraqi-children-in-us.html#ixzz1WhcRyYGe