Call me an American Dissident. I believe in democracy and government of, FOR, and BY the PEOPLE. I do NOT believe in the plutocratic corpocracy this country is today, wherein government is made and administered of the wealthy, by the wealthy, and for the wealthy. I believe in wealth which is HONESTLY attained through hard work and merit. I do NOT believe in wealth attained by means of deceit, exploitation, or leverage. There is enough for all in this world. Greed is the major cause of poverty, and both are totally unnecessary.
"Any level of government will work better than 'enterprise.' All we have to do is get Republicans out of it." - Old Scout of Scouts' Honor -
I warned you about this guy some months back. He is Tim Pawlenty, current Minnesota Governor, who mistakenly believes he has what it takes to be President. Media pundits are hinting at a run by him for the GOP nomination, and they are also incorrectly touting him as a moderate Republican. Consider this your second warning about him. He is now galavanting all across the country making speeches and appearing in support of conservative Republican candidates everywhere in a Nixonesque attempt to build party support for his own 2012 presidential candidacy. In the process, he has abandoned his responsibilites as Chief Executive of his own state in the best Sarah Palin tradition, the only difference being he has not officially resigned his post.
The man is not to be trusted. He is a conservative Republican wolf in moderate Republican sheep's clothing.
No, he doesn't use inflammatory rhetoric, refer to President Obama as a socialist, or brandish posters with swastikas. His tone and demeanor are far more sedate and civil than that. But he is a bedrock social conservative in the best Bush/Cheney/Palin tradition. He is one of your typical "tax-cuts-for-the-rich-and-big-business-will-solve-everything" Republicans who opposes social spending and who doesn't care at all about ur ubderstand the struggles of the poor, working, and middle classes in this country. His supply-side brand of economics was rejected nationally by voters in 2008 and should be rejected again three years from now.
But who is Tim Pawlenty, what is his vision, and what has he done to deserve the presidency? There is nothing remarkable, original, or inspiring about him. He is, lock, stock, and barrel, your typical Republican. Son of a milk truck driver, Pawlenty grew up in suburban St. Paul. He earned a law degree and entered public office first as an appointee to a city planning commission and later as a city council member and state representative. He, like all his GOP cohorts, despises taxes and pledged no new income taxes during his terms as Governor. But just like most modern Republicans, he then engaged in doublespeak, as when he raised the tax on cigarettes but called it a "health impact fee." Other "fees" he raised (or caused to raise) were property taxes and state college tuitions. He has relied heavily on budget-cutting over the years. Columnist Robert Novak once correctly pegged him as Minnesota's most conservative Governor since the 1920s. His budget cuts to higher education have resulted in double digit increases in tuition paid by individual students for several years running. Other non-education "fees" rose well over $300 million during his tenure. Hos major budget cutting occurred in the areas of transportation, social services, and welfare. He used or threatened vetoes in 2005, 2007, and 2008 on highway expansion, maintenance, and infrastructure repair, good little belt-tightening Republican boy he was. After the collapse of the I-35 Mississippi River bridge on August 1, 2008 due to inadequate inspection, he ihdicated he might rethink his position on an increase in the gas tax to fund more road and bridge repair. But what did he do? Why, he vetoed that, too! The state's Department of Management and Budget estimates that, due to declining revenues caused by high unemployment (and his failure to have had enough tax revenue due to steady refusal to raise such revenue), his successor will have to deal with a massive $4.4 BILLION shortfall in the state budget beginning July, 2011. Rather than levy a temporary tax or staying at home to help devise an alternate funding mechanism, Pawlenty has decided instead to call it quits to run for President. Now THAT'S responsible leadership you can believe in!
Tim Pawlenty is not the great red hope the GOP might think may help them turn blue Minnesota red in 2012. He eked out narrow election victories in his races for Governor. Both times he was in three-candidate races, and both times his vote total was below 50% (at 44.4% and 46.7% respectively). A just-released Minneapolis Star Tribune "Minnesota Poll" has indicated very soft support for his presidential run. When asked "Would you like to see Tim Pawlenty run for President in 2012, or not?", only 30% of state respondents said yes. 55% said no. Among Independents, the total was only 34% yes and 51% no. (Of course, among Republicans, the figure was 75% yes, but let's face it: they are so blindly faithful, a huge majority of them would vote for Daffy Duck if he were the designated Republican candidate). When asked if Pawlenty did indeed get the GOP nomination, only 25% of state respondents said there was a "good chance" they would vote for him, with only 25% saying "some chance." A sizable 43% said there was "no chance" Pawlenty would get their vote. His job approval rating currently stands at 49%, with his disapproval rating at 38%. These are hardly rousing numbers of support. They are as lackluster as he is and as mediocre as his performance has been.
So don't be fooled by Tim Pawlenty's "new face" or seemingly moderate tone, national Republicans and Independents. We Minnesotans have had paw-lenty of Mr. Pawlenty, and with good reason. This guy is a total dud, with nothing new or of substance to offer this country. He is Mr. "Same old, same old", and a waste of our time. His is not fresh new leadership but warmed-over Reaganomics. Look elsewhere if you must have an alternative to President Obama.
I will return to commentary on current events soon, but in the meantime, here are some more eternal truths to ponder...
"...in 1851 [the] New York Herald Tribune...employed, as its London correspondent, an obscure journalist by the name of Karl Marx. We are told that foreign correspondent Marx, stone cold broke, and with a family ill and undernourished, constantly appealed...for an increase in his salary...but when all his financial appeals were refused, Marx looked around for some other means of livelihood and fame...devoting his talents full time to the cause that would bequeath to the world the seeds of Leninism, Stalinism, and revolution, and the Cold War. If only his capitalistic New York newspaper had treated him more kindly...history might have been different." - John F. Kennedy -
"...intellectual and emotional inertia traps people in antiquated ways of thinking even though circumstances radically change." - Matt Miller, in The Tyranny of Dead Ideas -
"Advancement - improvement in condition - is the order of things in a society of equals." - Abraham Lincoln -
"Those who expect moments of change to be comfortable and free of conflict have not learned their history." - Joan Wallach Scott -
"Where some people are very wealthy and others have nothing, the result will either be extreme democracy or absolute oligarchy, or despotism will come from either of these excesses." - Aristotle -
"The role of the journalist in America is to harass money and power to no end, every day, day after day on behalf of the American taxpayer." - Dylan Ratigan, MSNBC -
"An oligarchy of private capital cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society because under existing conditions, private capitalists control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information." - Albert Einstein -
"When you're finished changing, you're finished." - Benjamin Franklin -
"First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win." - Mahatma Gandhi -
"Poverty and War have no excuse." - Vanna Bonta -
"If we define an American fascist as one who in case of conflict puts money and power ahead of human beings, then there are undoubtedly several million fascists in the United States." - Henry A. Wallace -
"Although it is true that about only 20 percent of American workers are in unions, that 20 percent sets the standards across the board in salaries, benefits and working conditions. If you are making a decent salary in a non-union company, you owe that to the unions. One thing that corporations do not do is give out money out of the kindness of their hearts." - Molly Ivins -
"The dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweigh the dangers which are cited to satisfy it...even today, there is little value in ensuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it." (Take THAT, Dick Cheney)! - John F. Kennedy -
"The way to change...is to let go of fear." - Roseanne Cash -
"In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, as 'right to work.' It includes no 'right' and no 'works.' Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining...we demand this fraud be stopped." - The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. -
"If hard work were such a wonderful thing, surely the rich would have kept it all to themselves." - Lane Kirkland -
"The blind spots bred by complacency or arrogance or certitude of habit fill the obituaries of civilizations that didn't make it, businesses that didn't make it, even marriages that didn't make it." - Matt Miller -
"Change happens on the inside first. Then you realize you're not the only one who needs it. The you DO SOMETHING. Then it becomes 'social change.'" - Kimberly Bock -
"There is no America without labor, and to fleece one is to fleece the other." - Abraham Lincoln -
"The good we ensure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life." - Jane Addams -
"...idiots are always in favor of inequality of income (their only chance of eminence), and the really great in favor of equality." - George Bernard Shaw -
"The GOP only cares about costs when a government program is not lining the pockets of their corporate supporters." - SJ of Random Thoughts, New York City -
"There are some oligarchs who make me want to bite them just as one crunches into a carrot or a radish." - Evita Peron -
"A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining, but wants it back the minute it begins to rain." - Mark Twain -
"If the Lored can see His way to bless the Republican Party the way it's been carrying on, then the rest of us ought to get it without even asking." - Will Rogers (courtesy Burr Deming of Fair and Unbalanced) -
"Not being beautiful was the blessing. Not being beautiful forced me to develop my inner resources. The pretty girl has a handicap to overcome." - Golda Meir -
"Madness is hardness of spirit, when one seeks profit from all sources." - Aristotle -
"In today's world, it is no longer unimaginable that business can compete - and even thrive - in an environmentally-friendly manner." - Olympia Snowe -
""Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed." - Mahatma Gandhi -
"Tax the very wealthy to make everyone healthy!" _ Vigilante, Sozadee, CA -
"As a rule, large capitalists are Republicans and small capitalists are Democrats, but workingmen remember that they are all politically supporting their class interests, and this is always and everywhere the capitalist class." - Eugene V. Debs -
"Come, come, my conservative friend, wipe off your spectacles and see the world is moving." - Elizabeth Cady Stanton -
"I don't like to get the news, because there has never been an era when so many things are going so right for so many of the wrong persons." - Ogden Nash -
"You can imprison a man, but not an idea. You can exile a man, but not an idea. You can kill a man, but not an idea." - Benazir Bhutto -
"The oppressed never free themselves--they do not have the necessary strengths." - Claire Booth Luce -
"There is not a man of us who at times does not need a helping hand to be stretched out to him, and then shame upon him who will not stretch out the helping hand to his brother." - Theodore Roosevelt -
"The Democrats and the Republicans are equally corrupt - it's only the amount where the Republicans excel." - Will Rogers -
"Eminence demands that man is the only animal which devours its own kind, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." - Thomas Jefferson -
"Republicans sleep in twin beds - some even in separate rooms. That is why there are more Democrats." - Will Stanton -
"What is conservatism? Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried?" - Abraham Lincoln -
"The GOP only cares about costs when a government program is not lining the pockets of their corporate supporters." - SJ of Random Thoughts, New York City -
"Tax the very wealthy to make everyone healthy!" - Vigilante, Sozadee, CA -
Left click on diagram below to make it larger. As you can plainly see, the percentage of our Gross Domestic Product we Americans pay to maintain our private, for profit "health care" system is 16%, far in excess of what all the nations below us on the chart pay with their supposedly more expensive "socialized medicine" systems. This is an outrage, considering that 15-30% of what we pay goes directly to health insurance and pharmaceutical company CEO salaries and perks, as well as for their advertising and administrative costs (including paying lobbyists ), and that our system does not provide the best across the board health care in the world for us. By contrast, our government-run VA, Medicare, and Medicaid systems' administrative costs add only a mere 4% to the cost of providing health care, and none of that lines anyone's pockets as huge salaries or excessively high profit. We are clearly getting ripped off by the current private, FOR PROFIT system, and this system MUST change!
According to a study prepared by Robert B. Helms, Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, in 1940 America, only 9% of the population had insurance coverage for medical expenses. After World War II, the rise of employer-paid or employer/employee-funded insurance benefit programs saw this figure jump to 62.2%, with an additional 6.8% carrying individually purchased coverage, and 17.5% receiving or co-covered with coverage through public programs. In 2006, a total of 18% had no coverage at all (roughly 1 in every 5.6 of us).
1 in every 6.5 of us now has no health care coverage at all. The number of uninsured is rising every day, yet so are CEO salaries, premium rates, co-pays, and deductibles, well above the rate of inflation. This is unjustifiable, indefensible, and MUST change as well!
In 1940, health insurance premiums took only 0.4% of disposable income. By 1970, this figure had risen to 2.91%. It is far higher today, now exceeding 10% for many of us.
According to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, health insurance premium costs have increased 97% since 2000, FAR ABOVE THE RATE OF INFLATION. In that same period, the level of worker contributions toward health insurance policy costs skyrocketed 107%, while their wage levels remained relatively flat. Many American small businesses have now found it increasinglydifficult or impossible to provide health care for their employees. Health care provider greed and inefficiency is eating up small business profit and workers' paychecks, This is unsustainable. A June 5, 2009 Science Daily report states that, in 2007 (prior to the current economic downturn), 60% of all bankruptcies in the U.S. had their origins in medically-related causes. One illness-related bankruptcy was occurring on an average of every 90 seconds! That number has surely risen since then, and this situation must come to a screeching halt! Yet health insurance and pharmaceutical executives keep raising their prices and continue to stuff their already overflowing wallets with cash, completely unchallenged.
The fact of the matter is this: private health insurance and private care providers have become too expensive to justify their existence any longer. People in "socialized medicine" countries are NOT dropping dead on their streets in droves due to poor quality or outright lack of medical care. Nor are our shores being flooded with millions of desperate Europeans or Asians clinging to driftwood or life rafts in a do-or-die effort to obtain health care here. Their own systems are providing well for them, at a cheaper individual cost than ours, and the cost burden on their businesses and individual finances is far less than what we are experiencing with our greed-ridden, for-profit private system.
The long-awaited Health Care Reform bill just completed by Max Baucus's Senate Finance Committee is a pathetic effort and an insulting waste of time. It is designed for the benefit of the insurance industry, not for the needy uninsured or the average citizen. Rather than guarantee quality health care at an affordable rate to all and provide downward pressure on existing health insurance costs and CEO salaries, it merely floods the insurance industry with millions of mandated new customers, and provides no industry regulation or competition of any kind. It amounts to an added tax on already-overburdened middle class America. This version of a health care reform bill is a loser through and through, and a step in the wrong direction. IT MUST NOT PASS!
We MUST put an end to profiteering off human illness by adopting a non-profit, utility-type health care system! It is the only sane, economical, and moral path to follow! --------------- --------------- Dawn Smith, an aspiring playwright out of Atlanta, GA, was diagnosed with a rare but treatable brain tumor 4 years ago.
Her doctors are ready to treat the tumor, but her insurance company, CIGNA, refuses to pay. The only hospitals qualified to treat her rare condition are "out of network." (CIGNA'S CEO, EDWARD HANAWAY, HAS BEEN PAID $120.51 MILLION OVER THE PAST 5 YEARS AND HAS STOCK OPTIONS TOTALING NEARLY $29 MILLION). Ms. Smith just received CIGNA's last letter.
Dawn Smith will now die because of CIGNA's network limitations (which are in place solely to boost their profit). Please join me and sign a petition to CIGNA's CEO by going to the site below, and SPREAD THE WORD! Thank you. Your action could very well save her life.
"The GOP only cares about costs when a government program is not lining the pockets of their corporate supporters." - SJ of Random Thoughts, New York City -
"Tax the very wealthy to make everyone healthy!" - Vigilante, Sozadee, CA -
This past week (actually, this past year or so) has provided new all-time lows in American political discourse. When President Obama addressed a joint session of Congress to explain his health care reform plan, especially when he mentioned how his plan would not be available to illegal aliens, he was met with a disgraceful, uncivil, and unprecedented catcall of "you lie!" from Representative Joe Wilson (R- SC). The undeniable fact of the matter, of course, was that the President was speaking the truth, while his Republican counterpart was lying. Those two words in and of themselves epitomized an indisputable truth:
Conservative Republicans lie. Constantly.
Over the past year, we have seen one lie after another spout forth from conservative Republican politicians, pundits, and supporters alike. At the time the President announced his Stimulus Plan to restore the economy that the previous conservative Republican Congresses and President had all but destroyed through 8 years of deregulation, exporting American jobs, and giving huge unneeded tax cuts to billionaires,while running a massively expensive two-front war on credit, Republican Minority Leader John Boehner held a press conference waving copies of a supposed Republican alternative plan which would allegedly cost far less money. That was a lie. The puny, phony, 19 page booklet he held contained the same old tired Republican tax cuts for the rich and free trade recommendations they had been peddling for years, and had absolutely NOTHING new in it and NO cost figures to back it up! Even earlier, when that vile and shrill (but shallow and dense) Sarah Palin was stumping for the presidential election, she made crazy, wild claims about Barack Obama "palling around with domestic terrorists" and having "a socialist agenda." But her latest one, how Obama's health care plan would put disabled or elderly citizens before "death panels" who would condemn them to death to save money, is a real doozy. Those, too, were lies. Obama, many years before, had attended several community education meetings where former Weather Underground activist Bill Ayers was also in attendance. This hardly constitutes "palling around with." Obama has not instituted full state control of American industry and put all American workers on the government payroll, either, so his agenda has hardly been any more "socialist" than FDR's launching of the New Deal or LBJ's creation of Medicare or the War on Poverty were. And nowhere in any public option health care plan are there any "death panels" whatsoever! Malcontent and tax-cheat "Joe the Plumber" misrepresented himself to then-candidate Obama by saying he was a plumber who wanted to buy his boss's business but that Obama's proposed tax plan would prevent him from doing so. John McCain even held this charlatan up as a great American hero. But those, too, were lies. n For "Joe";s name was actually Samuel; he was not employed or licensed as a plumber at the time,; there was no "boss" for him to buy a business from (nor did he have the funds to do so); and people who have IRS tax liens against them, as he had at the time, are hardly "American heroes." Fox "News" commentator Glenn Beck has recently come under much well-deserved attack for saying President Obama was a "racist" who "hates white culture." How patently absurd, considering the President's beloved late mother was white and upon her death the young Barack was raised by her white grandparents! That was another conservative Republican lie. Last Thursday, Fox "News" personality Sean Hannity told yet another whopper on his show, not even an hour after the President had completed his address to Congress. Hannity accused the President of saying that "insurance executives are bad people", when, in fact, the President had said "they are NOT bad people." That Hannity statement was also a lie. A delinerate one.
Fox "News", in general, lies nearly around the clock every single day to slant its news reporting in favor of conservative Republican themes and politicians. Rush Limbaugh is a pathological liar on his radio show every time he's on the air. Even the recent "teabagger" protests, Town Hall disruptions, and Saturday's taxpayer march on the Capitol were lies. Why? Because they were NOT spomtaneous acts of protest by concerned, real grassroots citizens. They were media events planned and executed by Fox "News", Freedom Works, and other far-right lobbying groups opposed to health care reform. The participants, many of them out-of-the-area conservative activists, health insurance employees, and even local Republican Party operatives, were driven in to these events,, often handed scripts on what to say or shout in advance, and many held signs calling the President a "fascist" or a "communist" (see above). These events were staged to create the untrue impression that the majority of Americans oppose health care reform and government involvement in it. They, too, were all lies.
I could go on and on and on and on with other examples of conservative Republican lying over the past 10 years (and even further back). Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush lied us into a bankrupting and unnecessary war in Iraq. They continue to lie to this very day about its legalities and necessity. And conservative Republicans everywhere back them up in lock step...
So now we get a mouthy, pipsqueak conservative Republican Representative Joe Wilson disrepectfully shouting out "you lie!" to a truthful President, and, one day later, House Minority Wimp (I mean, Whip) Eric Cantor and lying loudmouth Rush Limbaugh are making public statements backing Wilson up. President Obama has said he will now begin calling out conservative Republican, special interest lies as they occur. I applaud him for that. SJ of the blog Random Thoughts encourages us to contact the FCC with complaints about specific lies by conservative Republican TV and radio pundits. I join him in this effort and encourage you readers to follow our example. For I hate to break it to all of you conservative Republicans, but the sad truth of the matter is this: YOU lie!!!
"TAX THE VERY WEALTHY TO MAKE EVERYONE HEALTHY!" - VIGILANTE, SOZADEE, CA -
L to R: Upton Sinclair, Michael Moore, Ida Tarbell, Jacob Riis
In 1906, Upton Sinclair wrote his famous expose of the meatpacking industry in Chicago, The Jungle. In this book, he described in gory detail the hideous working conditions found in that industry (horrid worker living conditions, terribly long hours, ridiculously low pay) as well as a myriad of unsanitary practices and foreign objects (fingers and rat droppings) which were going into the nation's meat supply.
The public was rightfully outraged, and the resultant scandal caught the attention of then-President Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt, a sensible and conscientious Republican, pushed for the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act. It was a regulatory action which established much needed and long overdue government standards of safety which food producers and processors had to meet. Then, like now, conservatives and business leaders of the day howled their displeasure, but the public at large strongly supported such action, and the action stood. Meanwhile, in that same time period, Ida Tarbell wrote several books detailing dubious business practices by the Standard Oil Company of America. Photographer/journalist Jacob Riis focused on the terrible living conditions, slums, and tenements in New York city. It was the age of the muckrakers; journalists who exposed the evils and seamier side of American life and business, and it helped usher in the Progressive era of American politics. An outraged, morally offended public demanded and got necessary change in the form of increased government regulation over business and reforms in business and government itself. The people of that age saw wrongs which they tried to correct for the benefit of those to follow.
During the Great Depression, caused by greedy, laissez-faire free market economics of its day, the largely unemployed, poor, and suffering masses demanded and got even more necessary change: government regulation over the stock market, banking and business, as well as the legalization of labor unions, and the establishment of welfare, unemployment compensation, and Social Security. Again, conservatives howled and moaned at the changes enacted. But most of that generation realized the gluttonous mistakes of its preceding years and supported the beneficial enactments. That generation, too, saw wrongs they tried to correct so as to pass on a better world. They were responsibly looking toward the future.
"The greatest generation", to its credit, fought and won wars against oppressive true fascist and also communist regimes. They also set up needed and beneficial programs such as Medicare and OSHA, as well as passing long overdue Civil Rights legislation and embarking on a noble War on Poverty, in a common sense and unselfish effort to be fairer and better people's lives throughout the country. Again, conservatives and free market types howled and screamed at the change, but an overwhelming majority of the population strongly supported these actions. They even forged an unprecedented alliance between government, business, and labor to construct a national interstate highway system and even sent humans to the moon. Both endeavors contributed a great deal toward unparalleled prosperity and technological advancement. Along the way, though, this generation made a mistake or two. It set up a rigid and unworkable social code and its government engaged itself in an imperialistic disaster in Vietnam. But its motives were basically forward-looking and good.
Today, I am ashamed to say, this current, ruling "baby-boomer" generation, of which I am a member, is not quite measuring up to its predecessors. We have become complacent, self-absorbed, and ignorant in large measure when compared with those who came before us. Many of us started out well, by questioning and opposing the materialism of our culture, rejecting its rigid social code, and protesting against an unjust Vietnam War. But a good number of us became yuppies, more concerned with our own status and material acquisitions than with the well being of our society as a whole. We have lost our bearings, having been swept away in a sea of materialistic luxury items like cars, electronics, fine dining, sports and entertainment, and endless immersion in mindless TV sitcoms and adventure shows, all of which are fantasy and not real. Many of us walk away from hard challenges and abandon that which we don't find entertaining or fun. Unlike our predecessors, who properly reacted in horror and responded correctly to the revelations of muckrakers Sinclair, Tarbell, and Riis, we react in a far more benign way to modern-day muckrakers like Michael Moore. His last effort, Sicko, should have been received and acted upon in the very same manner as had been the works of previous muckrakers. Instead, though, our current mainstream media treats him as a sort of quirky fringe element rather than the bearer of an awful and relevant truth. Huge numbers of us, especially today's far right conservatives, view him as an extremist to be ignored or ridiculed at all costs, when he should actually be regarded as an American hero. 1 in every 6.5 of us today either cannot afford, or are denied, vital health insurance. People are concerned about this, but not concerned enough to take firm measures about it (and far too few are even willing to do that). In fact, large numbers of us scream and cry against a government-run system (which all other civilized countries have and adopted many years ago), and many of us lie to, and try to scare our elderly parents away from, support for such a system. Rather than endorsing government efforts to provide everybody universal, low cost medical care, many of us instead worry about what the government may take away from us to provide such a system. We worship individual , private profit and place it far ahead of the common good. Rather than investing in important infrastructure projects as our parents' generation did, we instead invest in wars for profit and squander, and put billions and billions of dollars into huge tax cuts for our very wealthiest few and their corporations. We pollute the planet at a murderous rate, and we always take the easy way out, as when we demand more drilling for oil in ever-vanishing, pristine wildlife areas rather than aggressively pushing for cleaner, alternate energy forms. We have produced dishonest and bigoted media liars like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, and millions follow them religiously. Speaking of religion, many of our churches speak out strongly in support of the unborn but are strangely silent on quality of life issues like poverty and exploitation which affect the already living. We have little we can call entirely our own to be proud of, and very, very much we should be ashamed of (but many are not). We have failed in our major responsibility to pass on a much better world to future generations because we have been obsessed with ourselves.
I indict this baby-boomer generation on charges of irresponsibility, gluttony, insensitivity, greed, murder, self-indulgence, and short-sightedness. Conviction will be certain, as the incriminating evidence is all around us. Verdict: guilty as charged!
I apologize to succeeding generations for our failure to give you a country and world which is far better than the one which was handed to us. I apologize for the drop in your standard of living which we have frittered away on needless wars and tax cuts for the wealthy. I hope you will forgive us for our numerous thoughtless and selfish indulgences. I hope you will realize that not all of us have subscribed to the rampant conservative "me first" madness which has dominated much of our adult life and which will adversely affect you in years to come. People like Burr Deming at Fair and Unbalanced, Manigesto Joe at Manifesto Joe's Texas Blues, Marc McDonald at Beggars Can Be Choosers, Gwendolyn Barry at A New Global Myth, Vigilante at Sozadee, CA, MyCue23 and SJ at Random Thoughts, Nancy Hanks at The Hankster, Tim Fleming at Left of the Looking Glass, as well as Senators Russ Feingold, Barbara Boxer, Sherrod Brown, Bernie Sanders, and Representatives Dennis Kucinich, Anthony Wiener, and many, many other bloggers and government officials have all had their minds and hearts in the proper place and have had their sights set on a fairer and better future for you. But regrettably, their numbers have been much fewer than in previous generations.
But most of all, future generations, I hope and pray you will not fall prey to the shortsighted and materialistic temptations that have apparently overcome much of my generation, and that you will be able to build the far more equitable world we failed to build ourselves.
"AAARRRGGGHHH! I'M A CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICAN, AND I HATE ALL DEMOCRATS, PROGRESSIVES, LIBERALS, AND ESPECIALLY OBAMA!"
Ahoy, mateys! If you thought the only pirates left in the world today were those harassing ships off the coast of Somalia, you're dead wrong. There are a whole boatload of them operating alongside and within today's pathetic, far-right, conservative Republican Party.
You know the type. They noisily force their way on board the ships of progressive legislation and good governance, and then they hijack the truth, carving it up and turning it into distorted lies to suit their own purpose. You've seen them in action numerous times: Pirate Queen Sarah Palin spitting out lies about how President Obama's national health care reform agenda would create "death panels"; Cap'n Rush Limbaugh and his bumbling parrot, First Mate Glenn Beck, spewing venomous lies about President Obama being a fascist racist and his health care plan being "socialized medicine"; and other ships' mates like Senator Charles Grassley and health insurance lobbyists making irresponsibly false, rabblerousing statements about how a public option for health care would "pull the plug on grandma." Yet other reckless sword swingers like Mitch McConnell, Eric Cantor, Jon Kyl, and John Boehner have put their "NO!" Oars into the water in an effort to stall the vessels of progressive legislation and good governance altogether, so as to drive them into a Sargasso Sea of big money dominance, where allied corporate, special interest pirates can sink the vessels completely. Yeah, these conservative Republican pirates are all baddies, but they're not the worst of the lot. The worst pirates are those shadowy, far-right front groups which are set up and funded by secretive ultra-conservative multimillionaires and who create misleading ad campaigns to confuse and scare the public into rejecting the progressive agenda completely.
I saw a print media ad a couple of days ago from one of these sinister pirate groups called "U.S. Citizens Association." This is another in a long list of far-right front organizations set up by lobbyists, corporations, and wealthy ultra-conservatives to look as though it is composed of average, everyday Americans who oppose progressive legislation, and somehow sprung up out of nowhere to voice their concerns. Nothing could be further from the truth. The persons behind this group are deceitful liars. It turns out that their predecessor organization was called "Better Government Association." This was a direct name rip-off of the Chicago-based Better Government Association, Inc., a reputable nonpartisan watchdog group which has been targeting government corruption since 1923. This REAL Better Government Association filed suit in Federal Court against these rip-offs and the Courts sided with the authentic, original group, forcing these new conservative phonies to adopt their name change. The new "U.S. Citizens Association" which resulted is now actively engaged in fundraising, as was evidenced in the ad I saw. It purports to be a nonpartisan group of regular citizens, but a visit to its website reveals no information about its financial backers, officers, or founders, and it obviously has enough money to publish ads in suburban newspapers all over the country and defend itself in court. No loose-knit group of average citizens could possibly be THAT well funded---smells VERY fishy to me!
The ad in question is titled "Barack Obama and the Democrats did not inherit the bad economy; they caused it and made it worse." (Of course, only uniformed idiots would buy this junk. After all, the economy tanked in December, 2007, 13 months BEFORE Obama took office, and, as a result of his stimulus effort begun this spring, unemployment is now starting to ease its rate of climb, housing starts and home sales are up, and the stock market is rising). The subheading goes on to say "They now want to bankrupt the nation with socialized medicine and socialized energy taxes." As if that weren't enough, these charlatans then have another subheading stating, "This will greatly increase your income taxes, property taxes, utility bills and you will be denied health care." (Obvious bull, because the President has constantly pledged to NOT raise taxes on those earning less than $250,000 per year, and the aim of his health care plan is to ensure that EVERYONE has access to affordable, quality health care. The only ones denying anyone health care are these conservative Republican pirates and their bankrollers, the health insurance industry)! Then, as if in a wanted poster, they picture Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Janet Reno, Franklin Raines, Chris Dodd, Barney Frank, and Barack Obama under a headline reading "These are the leading culprits who actually caused the subprime mortgage collapse which then caused the worldwide deep recession." The ad, which is formatted to look like a legitimate news article, is a twisted lie from start to finish.
No mention at all is made of the huge role played over the past 11 years by former Texas Senator Phil Gramm and other congressional ReRepublicans to greatly reduce regulations on banks and energy speculators, and how this set the stage for years of sloppy lending practices and $4 per gallon gasoline. (Conservative Republicans were in total control of Congress and the White House for the overwhelming majority of that time. If they were such great gatekeepers of the economy, how then did this irresponsible economic tampering come about, and how, then, are Democrats responsible)? No mention at all is made of Republican-instigated efforts to enact unrestricted free trade deals that have caused millions of jobs to go overseas, depressing wage scales and job levels here at home. (They reveled in the booty they got for keeping the minimum wage frozen for ten full years, too)! Not a word is uttered, either, about how Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush all but destroyed labor unions in this country, and how that has further depressed wages here and lowered our standard of living. And no mention is made at all about how gigantic tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, initiated and passed by conservative Republicans, has all but bankrupted our government. Nor is mention made that it was the Bush, and not the Obama White House, which overspent wildly in Iraq on a war that did not need to be fought, or that it was Bush, and not Obama, who instigated the first gigantic corporate bailouts. Instead, all these dishonest pirates do is blame Democrats and "liberal socialists." Their selective and jaded memory is disgusting.
The body of their ad contains one crazy far-right allegation after another: that Obama and the Democrats are on the verge of changing the U.S. from a capitalist country to a socialist one "more like Cuba and North Korea"; "during the past 8 years, the Democratic party political action group ACORN pressured banks to give mortgages to people who could not afford them"; under a public option health care plan "senior citizens especially will be denied healthcare, including those on Medicare"; "the United Kingdom and Canada, both of which have socialized medicine, are overwhelmed with cases of people dying waiting for treatment"; "the Obamas throw lavish parties on a regular basis at the White House for their socialist friends", "in capitalist countries only 10% of the people temporarily live in poverty. In socialist countries, 99% of the people live in poverty permanently."
None of these allegations are footnoted or referenced with verifiable fact, and ALL of them are patently absurd.
I don't see Obama shutting down newspapers and TV networks or setting up camps for political prisoners, or redistributing land and putting everyone in the country on a government payroll like what has occurred in Cuba or North Korea, do you? Of course not. ACORN, a group devoted to registering poor and minority citizens to vote, has no influence whatsoever over banks and is NOT an organ of the Democratic Party; senior citizens will NOT lose medical coverage under a public option; Canadians, Britons, Danes, Swedes, Dutchmen, the French, Australians, and New Zealanders are NOT dropping dead on the streets of their cities due to delayed medical care under their "socialized medicine" systems; the Obamas' parties are no more lavish than were the Bushes' (either of them), the Clintons', the Reagans', the Fords', the Johnsons', or any other of their predecessurs' parties; the U.S. Census official poverty rate was 12.5% in 2007 and rose to 12.7% in 2008, so that esposes another of this ad's blatant lies. And many of those people in that unfortunate category are NOT there "temporarily" but permanently. And I'd love the U.S. Citizens Association to tell the citizens of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, or France that 99% of them live in poverty. The USCA would be laughed at hysterically and met with deserved catcalls, for none of those countries has income extremes or abject poverty levels anywhere remotely approaching ours, and the USCA would certainly consider them to be socialist economies. The U.S. Citizens Association, like nearly all of its far-right counterparts, is simply long on allegation, innuendo, and hyperbole, but fatally short on fact. They are full of excrement.
You won't ever see the full truth presented in any of these far-right, conservative Republican pirate ads. These thieves repeatedly steal from all of us, blatantly siphoning money from the poor and middle class, and then funneling it up to the very wealthy in a sordid form of reverse income redistribution. They scream "class warfare" when the government lowers taxes on the middle class and poor but raises them even slightly on the piggish ultra-rich. Then they lie about, and blame somebody else, for the vast income shift from bottom to top that has occurred in this country for the past 30 years. Liars like this U.S. Citizens Association ought to be made to walk the plank at knifepoint for the myths they've perpetrated and the people they've scared and brainwashed. So be sure to warn all your friends and fellow seafarers to watch out for this filthy little deceitful bunch of scalawags. Meanwhile, I again call out to everybody everywhere from my perch in this crow's nest...