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Friday, January 29, 2010

SEND CONGRESS YOUR INVOICE TODAY!












As I watched last Wednesday's State of the Union address by President Obama, I was struck by the body language of the Republican congressional delegation. It is said that actions speak louder than words, and the actions of these conservative Republicans, though they were perfectly silent, roared louder than an auditorium full of shouting, fanatical Tea Party members.

There sat stuffy Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, looking bored and completely out of it. I also saw a stern-faced Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, a sullen-looking Senator John McCain of Arizona, and a pensive Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia. All appeared restless and unhappy to be there. They remained silently and listlessly seated whenever Democrats rose to cheer and applaud the President's words, and most of these Republicans applauded only once, and then very timidly, tepidly, and briefly when tax cuts for small business were mentioned. And these same Republicans - all of whom opposed even the President's Economic Stimulus Plan of early last year, which provided work for some of our unemployed and prevented our sinking into another Great Depression - sat as lifeless as wax figures from Madame Tussaud's when the President mentioned taxing the biggest Wall Street banks which caused the downturn to begin with. When the President suggested taking that money to give to smaller commercial banks for purposes of lending to small businesseses for further job creation, there were only cold, emotionless stares from the Republicans. But the behavior and facial expression which summed up the current conservative Republican attitude best was that of Representative John Boehner of Ohio. His steady, sneering, and hateful glare toward the President spoke volumes.

These Republicans behave like rotten, spoiled little children who haven't gotten their way and will not cooperate with anyone in the least as a result.

It has become obvious that they are united in a policy of total opposition to everything - ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING - this President or his party proposes. They are convinced that stalling his agenda, and making both he and the entire federal government ineffectual, will cause his defeat in 2012 and will result in their regaining total control of the White House and Congress, just like they had under the first six years of George W. Bush's regime. That's all they care about. Achieving political advantage and regaining total control.

The Republicans don't care about the unemployed. They don't care about ever-rising health insurance and pharmaceutical costs, or that 1 in every 6.5 citizens has no health care coverage. They don't care about the poor. They don't care about the struggles of the shrinking middle class; that the rich are getting richer and are leaving everyone else far behind. They don't care that the tax system they put into place has the middle class subsidizing both the poor AND the rich. All the Republicans care about is their return to total power. What a thoroughly disgusting, myopic, and self-centered party.

It got me to thinking: these congressional conservative Republicans are wasting our time AND money. We pay each of our Representatives and Senators a hefty $174,000 per year, plus they have the best health care and retirement benefits in the entire world! But are we getting our money's worth from these Republicans? Have YOU ever been paid $174,000 per year for doing nothing but sitting, pouting, complaining, and producing nothing of value for YOUR institution? I didn't think so. Why should THEY enjoy such cushy treatment?

Consider this: Republicans never submitted a real economic stimulus plan of their own. They never submitted a health care reform package of their own. They never submitted an infrastructure-renewal plan of their own, either. What are they good for, anyway? All they keep repeating, like a mantra, is "lower corporate taxes, keep the Bush tax cuts [for the wealthy] in place, and regulate business less. "But those are the policies which caused our terrible recession! Face it, folks: the Republicans have nothing to offer this country, and they, the supposed fiscally-responsible party, are WASTING OUR TIME AND MONEY!


I think it is time that WE, their EMPLOYERS, start holding congressional Republicans and blue-dog Democrats accountable. I propose that each and every one of us taxpayers INVOICE UNPRODUCTIVE AND OBSTRUCTIONIST CONGRESSPERSONS! That's right: send your least-liked Representative and/or Senator a BILL for the money of yours they have wasted! Hit them with an "OBSTRUCTION FEE" if applicable; a "SPECIAL INTEREST FEE" for voting for the best interests of lobbyists or concentrated capital instead of voting for YOUR best interests; a "MISINFORMATION FEE" for lying to the media, and for lying about and distorting the positions or bills sponsored by progressives; a "BROKEN PROMISES FEE" for lying to the voters, saying they'll vote one way and then actually doing the opposite; and a "GRANDSTANDING FEE" for making dramatic and exaggerated statements like "death panels" or "throwing grandma under the bus" for the sole purpose of getting media attention and photo opportunities. JUST MAKE CERTAIN THE INVOICE'S TOTAL IS EXACTLY $174,000 TO MATCH THEIR SALARY, AND BE SURE TO NOTE THAT THEY SHOULD MAKE THEIR CHECK PAYABLE TO YOU, THE TAXPAYER WHOSE MONEY THEY HAVE WASTED!

I'm serious about this, folks: invoice templates can be downloaded for free. I encourage all of you to send a bill to every waste-of-time-and-money Congressperson who needs one. Doing so will definitely get their attention; at the very least, you'll feel a lot better after you've sent it.

SEND CONGRESS YOUR INVOICE TODAY!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A RETREAT FROM HAPPINESS

I had originally intended this post to be made last week, but the utterly ridiculous and unconstitutional Supreme Court decision lifting all restrictions on corporate campaign contributions derailed my initial plan. IMPEACH JOHN ROBERTS!

Here, now, retitled and rewritten, is the post I had earlier intended to make...



It states in our Declaration of Independence "...that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness..."

It would appear that we in the United State have viewed that statement as pertaining only to us, or to those living within our borders. For, ever since our independence, we have taken it upon ourselves to meddle in and dominate the affairs of nearly every other nation in our hemisphere. Haiti is but one example, as I will outline below.

Haiti, a former French colony for slaves, won its independence from France in 1804. Undoubtedly fearful of a nearby nation made up of freed blacks and wishing to protect its own slave-driven economy in the American South, the U.S. and a number of other countries immediately began a boycott of Haiti. Naturally, this crippled the Haitian economy and helped cause unrest. Former abusive white French slaveowners were understandably killed or exiled, a number of whom migrated to New Orleans. Years of instability followed. In 1825, France's King Charles X displatched a fleet to reconquer the island. Hasty negotiations between Haiti and France produced a treaty whereby France recognized Haiti's independence in exchange for a payment of 150 million francs as reparation for lost slave profits. While this figure was reduced to 90 million francs thirteen years later, it was still a huge and unjust burden on the tiny Haitian economy. Beginning in 1843, a long succession of coups and instability plagued the country. Its weakened state made it fall prey to economic exploitation from businessmen of many countries. On a number of occasions, various French, German, British, and U.S. forces have laid claim to large sums of money in the National Bank of Haiti. U.S. Marines occupied the country from 1915-1934, taking over Haiti's banks and forcibly repealed a Haitian law which had made foreign ownership of Haitian land illegal. (Curiously enough, little mention of this is made in U.S. history texts). Instability and periods of outright oppression continued long after the Marines pulled out. From 1957-1986, the country was ruled by the father-son "Papa Doc" and then "Baby Doc" Duvalier regime. A revolt against corruption and neglect broke out in 1986, creating further instability and resulting in Baby Doc's exile to France.

In 1990, former priest Jean-Bertrand Aristede won election as Haiti's President with two-thirds of the vote, under a new constitution. But his use of paramilitary forces caused him to quickly lose favor and be forced into exile. The military began de facto rule of the country. In 1994, the U.S. sent a team to negotiate the departure of the military to pave the way for democratic elections. U.S. forces entered the country peacefully under the Operation Uphold Democracy campaign, which proved to be a good move. Aristede returned then to resume his term in office, and relenquished it in 1996, as he would have originally. He ran for and again won re-election in 2000, although this election was boycotted by his opposition and so only about 10% of eligible voters took part. More instability followed. In 2004, Aristede and his wife were spirited away in the middle of the night, allegedly by the CIA and anti-Aristede forces, and put on a one-way flight to the Central African Republic. Charges of embezzlement, drug trafficking, and corruption were raised against him, but who knows what the actual truth is? One thing remains certain: repeated European and American interference in Haiti's economic and internal affairs for more than 200 years has not helped the country. Instead, it has ensured its instability.

As I began looking into historical U.S.-Haiti relations, I was astounded to see the huge amount of interference we have had with not only Haiti's, but ALL of Latin America's affairs over the past 100+ years. Just look at this ridiculously long list (and it's only a PARTIAL):

1900 - U.S. troops occupy Puerto Rico.
1903 - U.S. intervened in Panama's struggle with Colombia so as to be able to build the Panama Canal.
1906 - U.S. invades Cuba to supress revolutionary activity.
1910 - U.S. invades Nicaragua during her civil war.
1912 - U.S. mercenaries illegally invade Honduras to prevent the Honduran government from acquiring a U.S.-owned railroad.
1912-1920 - U.S. troops reoccupy Nicaragua to maintain American control.
1915-1934 - U.S. troops occupy Haiti.
1930 - U.S. troops enter Guatemala to protect our interests there.
1934 - U.S. troops prevent a trade union strike in El Salvador. U.S. warships stand offshore during a peasant revolution.
1947 - U.S. troops invade Paraguay to defeat a liberation movement.
1950 - U.S. intervenes to supress an independent movement.
1954 - CIA organizes a military coup against a popularly-elected leftist government in Guatemala which threatened to nationalize the U.S.-owned conglomerate American Fruit Company.
1961 - CIA plans, funds, and carries out Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.
1965 - U.S. lands 20,000 troops in Dominican Republic to quell a leftist uprising.
1973 - Nixon administration and CIA engineer military coup against popularly-elected Marxist government in Chile, culminating in murder of Chilean President Salvador Allende and installation of brutally repressive right wing Pinochet dictatorship.
1970s - CIA supports bloody Somoza dictatorship over rising popularity of the Sandinistas, and undermines Sandanista government once in power.
1982-1986 - U.S. mercenaries support brutally oppressive right-wing dictatorship in El Salvador civil war.
1999-present - U.S. undermines UN and uses the WTO to bully poorer countries into restructuring their economies to benefit huge multinational corporations. Hugo Chavez is elected President of Venezuela, proclaims friendship with Cuba, and begins a broad, leftist reform campaign.
2002 - Hugo Chavez is briefly overthrown in a coup d'etat he alleges occurred as a result of U.S. backing. He regains power after a few months. Who knows if what he alleges is true?


Today, once again, U.S. troops have been dispatched to Haiti, ostensibly to preserve order and provide relief assistence in the wake of Haiti's recent devastating earthquake. This may actually be the case, and, naturally, we hope so. But given our sordid record of frequent political and military intervention throughout Latin America since our own beginning, we cannot say for sure. And, in light of our checkered past regarding our southern neighbors, how can Fidel Castro OR Hugo Chavez be rightfully castigated for having referred to us as their big devil to the north? For, as we have been busy with our own pursuit of happiness, have we not often simultaneously been responsible for a retreat FROM happiness among our southern neighbors?

COMING SOON: AN INSIDER'S VIEW OF CUBA!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

POOP!!!




My cursed, snakebitten Minnesota Vikings did it again tonight. They lost a very close NFC Championship game in overtime to the victorious New Orleans Saints, and so now, for the fifth consecutive time since 1977, they have lost the one game which would have propelled them to the Super Bowl. I am heartsick, as I'm sure Max's Dad is too, over at his website. The Saints will now deservedly go on to this year's Super Bowl, for the first time in their history, where they will face the formidable Indianapolis Colts to determine this year's overall NFL Champion.

Clearly today, the better teams won. The Saints, led by their no. 1 offense, quarterback Drew Brees, and and a great defense, prevailed over my Vikings, who uncharacteristically had 6 fumbles and 5 turnovers. Still, my Vikes rolled up over 400 yards of offense today, but their turnovers killed them and caused them to lose in overtime. It is heartbreaking to see their season (and, quite possibly, Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre's carrer). Favre, coming back from offseason surgery and semi-retirement last August, had arguably the best year of his long and distinguished 19 year carreer this season at age 40. It would have been wonderful for him to go out on top winning the Super Bowl one more time and leading the Vikings to their very first Super Boel championship, but it just wasn't to be.

I am very happy for the Saints, and for their fans and city, which has suffered such horrible devastation in recent years. This trip to the Super Bowl will provide them all with a wonderful feeling of accomplishment and a great deal of well-deserved pride. Hats off to them all!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

HELLO CSA, R.I.P. USA



"I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country."
- PRESIDENT THOMAS JEFFERSON our 3rd President and FOUNDING FATHER OF THIS COUNTRY -










"Although they make enormous contributions to our society, corporations are NOT actually members of it. They cannot vote or run for office. Because they may be registered and controlled by nonresidents, their interests may conflict in fundamental respects with the interests of eligible voters."
- SUPREME COURT JUSTICE JOHN PAUL STEVENS, speaking in a dissent, 1/21/10 -





Yesterday marked the worst decision in the history of our Supreme Court, and effected a corporate coup-de-etat of our government. In a hasty, poorly researched, and very poorly reasoned decision, the Roberts Court ceded, by a 5-4 vote, all de facto control of this government of, by, and for its people to the moneyed corporate aristocracy Thomas Jefferson warned us of two centuries ago. Voting with the majority were conservative Justices Anthony Kennedy and Antonin Scalia (dumped on us by Ronald Reagan), Clarence Thomas (dumped on us by George H.W. Bush), and John Roberts and Samuel Alito (dumped on us by George W. Bush). Enemies of the people all, they granted corporations the right to contribute, without any restriction whatsoever, to the political candidate of their choice in any election. Even a child can understand how this ruling will give unprecedented power and ability to buy the favor of any congressperson or President in the future to those with the most money. You can be certain that corporations will use this newly granted power to flex their muscles this fall. They will do so in a way that will make what they did to sabotage health care reform these past six months look like they were only fooling around. Average, ordinary, individual working Americans and the poor will be completely unable to effectively elect candidates to best serve their needs and interests, as their candidates will invariably be underfunded and buried in relation to those funded by big money. Liberals and progressives will become oddities of the past. We are now entering a political dark ages of unchallenged conservative plutocracy.

This ruling is an abomination and will radically transform the way this country is governed in a terrible manner. Several weeks back, I painted a horror story set in 2017 whereby plutocratic conservative Republicans had regained total control of government and were enslaving the rest of us for the benefit of the elite, wealthy few. The implications of yesterday's hideously flawed Supreme Court ruling are far more terrifying than was my little story. They have legally instituted a plutocracy to replace our democracy.

So now it's "Hello CSA (Corporate States of America), R.I.P. USA (United States of America)". Say goodbye to the country you grew up in, everybody, and savor the memories. This will be a diabolical new phase in our history, and our lives will never be the same. Keep your eyes and ears open, folks. Regrettably, now, in our lifetime, we may have to all go underground to protect ourselves from the invariable corporate excesses this horrible decision will create!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME?


I have long held three beliefs:

1). Nobody likes a crying rich man. (We all know the type: a person with high income who complains about taxes and spending for the poor, and then freezes his or her workers' wages or sends their jobs overseas once he gets his or her tax cut; i.e. a free market or free trade conservative Republican).
2. Nobody likes an aloof, arrogant, out-of-touch, elitist, limousine liberal. (We all know this type, too: one who believes in big government and programs for the poor [but would never be caught dead actually associating with workers or the poor], has plenty of money his or herself, and isn't the least bit hesitant about spending your tax dollars even as he or she takes advantage of a number of loopholes you don't have).
3. That candidate who most often and most enthusiastically works the crowds will be the winning candidate in an election. (Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama, and now Scott Brown fit this mold. Thomas Dewey, Walter Mondale, John McCain, and now Martha Coakley did not).


Tonight, far right, free trader, teabagger conservative Republican Scott Brown achieved the unthinkable: he soundly defeated his Democratic challenger Martha Coakley in the Massachusetts U.S. Senate special election to fill Teddy Kennedy's old Senate seat. The national repercussions of this (which I will get into momentarily) are huge. But three important reasons for Brown's success stand above all others. One, Coakley was a very lazy, ineffective, distant, and lackadaisical campaigner. There was little fire, desire, passion, or inspiration in her campaign speeches. She appeared comatose, and comastose drips don't win elections. Two, she simply did not get out to press the flesh as she should have. In contrast, Brown campaigned actively and was in all the right places at all the right times. Three, Coakley was ill-prepared and made serious gaffes on gut-level local topics. In an interview, she referred to former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, a Boston icon, as "a Yankee fan." THE Curt Schilling, who in 2004 helped the Sox defeat their hated Yankee rivals in the American League Championship Series, and then guided them to their first World Series championship in 86 years, pitching selflessly and courageously on a very injured, torn, bleeding ankle. Instead of door-knocking over the holidays, Coakley went on vacation. Now, if you're serious about an important political race, you save your vacation time until AFTER the election, not during the campaign. This she did not do. Perceived as aloof and out-of-touch by many voters, they vented their displeasure with her by voting against her. She and she alone BLEW it!


This has already caused unnecessary and unwise disputes and finger-pointing among Democrats. The White House is blaming Coakley and the Democratic Party for this defeat. The Party is blaming the White House and Coakley. But this blame game is pointless and counterproductive. For there is plenty of blame to go around. Coakley obviously ran a very poor campaign and thought she could coast into office in this normally heavily and reliably Democratic state. But the national Party also coasted and took this race for granted, too, not putting enough strategic and tactical expertise behind their candidate. And the White House also played it too safe, with the popular President not even bothering to go to bat for Coakley until the last moment.

Aside from Coakley's below-average campaign performance, both she and the Party failed to properly define her and her opponent. In recent years, Democratic strategists have failed miserably in this regard, whereas Republicans have excelled, even to the point of telling bald-faced, outright lies about themselves and their opponents. This campaign was no exception. While successfully painting Coakley as an aloof and out of touch candidate much like those in Washington, they successfully sold the lie of Brown as a populist, man-of-the-people type. This, of course, is blatant baloney, as Brown opposes much-needed government regulation of Wall Street and health care reform providing universal coverage, two things the vast majority of average, everyday working Americans would benefit from greatly (and wealthy special interests vehemently oppose).

It will now be extremely difficult for Democrats or the President to pass health care legislation the conventional way. Brown's election will now further embolden the wacko teabaggers and congressional Republicans, who will try to spin his election to mean a thorough repudiation of the President's agenda and a national rejection of the Democrats' "socialist" initiatives. Both of these assertions will undoubtedly be jumped on and advanced by Rush Limbaugh, Fox "News", and the Republican Party. They will also both be lies, but that won't stop them. For they have all institutionalized the lie as a political and campaign tool countless times over the past 16 years. If you thought the Republicans were obstructionist and uncooperative this past year, they'll REALLY be that way now! The net result of all this will not only be a stalling of the President's agenda, but it will also bring about a softening of his party's positions on issues. For the Democrats have never mastered Muhammad Ali's "rope-a-dope" strategy whereby one allows his opponent to dish out all kinds of blows but then finally comes roaring back with a savage and effectively victorious counterattack. No, the Democrats get pummeled and then they go cower in the corner until the next election bell sounds, when they find they are defeated by the judge's (electorate's) tally. If they're lucky, they end up with a split decision and hang onto numerical advantage. If they're unlucky, they are knocked out of office. But running campaigns like this current one will never allow them the pleasure of a knockout victory!

I painted a fearsome look at a possible near-future in my January 12, 2010 post "A Warning: How Did This Horror Story Happen?" Now I ask you: IS THIS THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME? The Republicans have successfully lied and convinced the voters that maybe Obama and the Democrats are spending too much money and are allowing too much government control to intrude into their lives and business in general. The TRUE story, of course, is that the President and Congress want to provide good and necessary change for the country, limiting the control banks, corporations, and plutocrats are exerting over us all, using the government to achieve these goals for the benefit of the overwhelming majority of the country who AREN'T wealthy or well-connected. But as long as we, the progressives, the liberals, and the true Democrats sit on our asses and don't loudly and forcefully stand up to these plutocratic conservative Republican and teabagger lies, we will see more defeats like tonight in Massachusetts. We will see a return to government totally for the rich and a Bush/Cheney style militaristic and aggressive foreign policy. But if we actively campaign for progressive candidates this fall, and, along the way, flood our newspapers and magazines with letters to the editor, and our social networking, with facts and info debunking and disproving Republican lies, this November's midterm election will not be a disaster like tonight's Massachusetts one was. And we must also hold our Democrats' feet under the fire and convince them to work on our behalf rather than soft pedalling and going Republican Lite.Our success or failure depends totally on US, so get with the program, people. Dig in your heels and FIGHT THESE REPUBLICAN LIES!


UP NEXT: "THE U.S. AND HAITI'S LONG, UNEVEN RELATIONSHIP"

Sunday, January 17, 2010

HAITI: THE GOOD AND BAD OF IT























I have been heartsick over the horrifying misery and suffering I have seen on the news these past few days about the disastrous earthquake in Haiti. From stories of rising death counts, to husbands losing wives and children when just at the brink of rescuing them, to an 11 year old girl being pulled from the rubble with a crushed leg only to die the very next day - it has been a very sad and wrenching week.


I have never been so proud of our country or a President as I was to see the immediate responses to aid the needs of this impoverished, devastated Haitian nation. President Obama immediately called upon his two previous predecessors to help raise relief aid, both of them having been superb fundraisers. Major League Baseball stepped up to deliver $1 million in aid. The National Football League and many other groups publicized the need for emergency donations repeatedly on its own NFL Network and also numerous times during heavily-watched playoff games. Hollywood celebrities opened their wallets. And hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens started donating personally to the relief cause through churches and charitable organizations. All of this was done quickly and continues. THAT is what a civilized nation is supposed to do, and I am happy to say we rose to the challenge at hand.

But, as always, cynically dark forces of the far right muddied up the picture. Rush Limbaugh, vile, racist puke that he is, questioned the President's motive in responding so quickly to this disaster. He accused the President of trying to appeal to black voters by responding quickly. He also questioned whether donations for aid sent through the White House would actually go to disaster relief, suggesting that Obama might pocket some of the money for political campaigning. This conscientious scumbag never once on his radio show advocated any of his listeners making ANY donations to ANY charity for relief, nor is there any evidence HE has donated even a penny to relieve the misery of suffering Haitians, even though he himself is a multimillionaire...

And then, of course, the far right, insane "Reverend" Pat Robertson broadcast that the Haitian earthquake was God's punishment on the Haitian people for their supposedly javing made a pact with the devil 200 years ago enlisting his help in gaining freedom from France. What absolute idiocy! And how hypocritical, too---he makes this claim even as his website provides a link for sending donations for Haitian relief in! Well, that's better than Limbaugh's been doing, I guess, which has been nothing. But not much better...

That other darling of the far right, Sarah Palin, has been strangely silent on the Haiti disaster. There has been no report of her raising money to aid the stricken people, nor has she herself contributed any money that we know of, nor has she made appeals for her followers to donate. Surely we would have expected much more leadership from one who believes she is a leader qualified to be President, and who professes to have both strong family and Christian values! (I never knew Jesus was so arbitrary about these matters of helping those in dire need). Perhaps she has been confused about it all. I can just hear her backstage at Fox "News", asking bewilderedly: "What's Haiti? WHERE'S Haiti? Why don't they have any money, and why can't they take care of their own problems themselves?" But more likely, Sarah Palin has been far too busy making money for HERSELF and advancing HER TV career to have had time to even think of the needs of a devastated people outside our borders!



As I mentioned earlier, I am very satisfied that most of the country has responded so well and quickly to this tragic situation in Haiti. We have averaged well over $2 million per day in small contributions, these coming from a population beset with high unemployment, high pharmaceutical and health care costs, frozen and/or declining wages, and eroded buying power. It is a testament to our compassion and generosity as well as our sense of responsibility and obligation. If you yourself have not yet contributed to Haiti relief, won't you join others and please do so today? The Red Cross can accept your donation online at http://american.redcross.org/HaitiRelief (my apologies for this not properly hyperlinking). Or, you may also contribute through World Vision International at http://www.worldvision.org/, Catholic Relief Services at http://crs.org/, or NICEF at http://www.unicefusa.org/. There are many, many others as well.

It appears that the good in this disaster (if there is such a thing) has been the rekindling of American benevolence and sense of duty, as well as a new and heightened awareness of Haiti, its current situation, and its needs going forward among the world community. This is truly a nation which has been needlessly neglected for far too long. The bad, of course, has manifested itself in the words and behavior of far right ideologues like Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson, as well as the ignorance and inaction of Sarah Palin and many of those corporatist plutocrats in the upper 1% of the income scale. If each and every corporate executive drawing an eight figure income in the banking, insurance, and pharmaceutical industries were to climb down from their pedestals and donate $5 million apiece, relief and rebuilding of a collapsed Haiti would proceed at a very rapid rate. Instead, many of those upper elite prefer to remain blissfully ignorant, sitting on their money in their counting houses, counting it over and over again as people starve and wail in distress.

That, my friends, is the good and bad of the unfortunate Haiti situation, as I see it from here.

COMING SOON: "THE U.S. AND HAITI'S LONG, UNEVEN RELATIONSHIP"

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A WARNING: HOW DID THIS HORROR STORY HAPPEN?

Inspired in part by a post I saw a while back on Beach Bum's The Life and Times of a Carolina Parrothead blog.



Tuesday, May 2, 2017
It's miserable outside today, with heavy rains and thunder. It seems like it's been gray, cold, and rainy for most of the past 6 1/2 years, ever since conservative Republicans roared back into power by retaking Congress in that fateful election of November 2, 2010. It was the most stunning political upset in our entire history, and I still can't believe it happened! As we all know, they completely destroyed any possibility former President Obama may have had of enacting anything on his agenda, and defeated him overwhelmingly in a record landslide on a dirty campaign of lies, innuendo, and misinformation two years later. They even reversed and repealed his health care reform legislation by a huge majority! UNBELIEVABLE!

I think I'll be moving again soon. I've never been paranoid in the past, and I don't think I'm being that way now, but I just don't feel safe here anymore. Yesterday was a terrible day. Congress passed the "Free Enterprise, Free Choice Act of 2017", effectively making labor unions illegal. ILLEGAL! After the price and wage riots in March, I figured there would be some sort of crackdown, but I never imagined THIS! I've lost track of my old leftist blogger friends like SJ, MyCue23, Burr, Vigilante, Manifesto Joe, Suzan, Max's Dad, Oso, mud_rake, MadMike, Holte Ender, Stella by Starlight, Marc McDonald, Truth101, TomCat, Beach Bum, Punky Penny, and all the rest. I hope they're FREE, ok, and SAFE, at least, because I know they're not happy. Maybe they've all gone underground, as I plan to do. I got a smuggled letter last Friday from Gwendolyn Barry, who used to write A New Global Myth before Senator Liz Cheney's restrictive "Patriot Information Act" was passed on November 9, right after the "re-election", which has led to the arrest of many bloggers, leftists, and union union officials on charges of being security threats. GWENDOLYN'S not happy! She mentioned she had been relocated to some type of work detention camp, and she HATES it! I guess being made to help manufacture bombsight materiel for the military isn't her cup of tea. I'D hate doing that, too, so I'm going to hit the road, blend in anonymously somewhere, and become an American Dissident/Fugitive until either this corrupt regime is removed from power (which seems all but impossible now), or I get caught and thrown into a camp like Gwendolyn was. Sadly, I suspect many of my other old pals have suffered her same fate. It didn't take long for these kinds of roundups to begin. For this isn't the "land of the free" anymore. It's become the land of the conservative, militaristic, and wealthy so far as government policy is concerned. I never in my wildest dreams thought I'd see a situation like this occur!

When the President (whose name I STILL can't bear to even write or say to this very day) took (STOLE) office on January 20, 2013, I, like most of the rest of the country, was in absolute shock. Shock that someone SO stupid, SO shallow, SO dishonest, SO self-centered, SO unqualified, SO narrow-minded, SO in love with money, fame, and the military/industrial complex, and SO vile could have been sold to voters and could have ever attained the office. We on the left all thought, after the disastrous presidency of George W. Bush, that the ultra-conservative Republican Party was dead and set to disappear altogether. Boy, were WE ever wrong! They came roaring back with that infamous "teabagger" movement they so skillfully manufactured in the summer of 2009, and they haven't looked back ever since! They began feeding the public a non-stop stream of steady lies and distortion, so much and so often, that voters have now come to accept most of their phony claims as accurate fact. Secretary of Public Information Glenn Beck has seen to that, as the newly-created (2014) Department of Public Information (I call it the "Apartment of Public DISinformation") headed by he and Deputy Secretary Rush Limbaugh, is further cementing this fearmongering spin. It has even started a subtle rewriting-of-history campaign to feed the public lies about the past. Secretary of Education Karl Rove has begun implementing this disinformation throughout our public elementary and secondary schools. The Kennedy half dollar has been replaced by the new Reagan piece, and I hear the old FDR dime is up next for a revision. The White House stopped giving all press briefings two years ago, and has now resorted to using staged "interviews" with only one network - Fox "News" and only John King or Dana Bash from CNN. ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, and the almost defunct PBS have all been shut out of the direct info pool. Yes, these dreadful, corporatist, plutocratic, ultra-conservative Republicans have become awfully bold and brazen of late, especially since the President was just "re-elected" by such a wide margin last year and they were able to slightly increase their already large congressional margins...

I don't think it's any accident that this hideous "Free Enterprise, Free Choice Act of 2017" was passed and immediately signed into law on May 1; "May Day", the traditional day dedicated to workers worldwide among Socialists (and the old Communists). With a 313-125 conservative Republican majority in the House, a 73-27 conservative Republican majority in the Senate, and a 7-2 conservative majority on the Supreme Court, these ultra-conservative Republicans have gotten awfully arrogant these days. Led by Vice President Michele Bachmann, I'm sure they were smacking their lips with absolute glee at the thought of squashing working people's only means of leverage once and for all by outlawing unions! Rumor has it, since she was successful in a push for "abstinance only" sex "education" in the schools and the complete banning of ALL abortions nationwide, teen pregnancies are skyrocketing, as are deaths from back-alley abortions. Of course, you'll never hear this from a White House or Department of Public Information press release. Pundits are already speculating that Bachmann has a lock on the 2020 Republican presidential nomination and will almost certainly win the 2020 election. God! Vice President BACHMANN? And maybe PRESIDENT BACHMANN? How did this nightmare HAPPEN? How in the hell did this extreme, wacko, delusional woman ever even get elected to the HOUSE, let alone become VICE PRESIDENT and probably now will even become PRESIDENT in three years?



Since the National Guard has undertaken training of militia groups in the countryside to crack heads on the poor and leftists in the inner cities and urban areas, it has freed their regular contingents to continue our three year-old war in Pakistan and Iran, and our sixteen-year old war in Afghanistan. To think we were once on the verge of pulling our troops OUT of Afghanistan! After DICK Cheney (before his fatal heart attack in 2013) and other far-right neocons engineered the phony terrorist incidents in the summer of 2012 (which scared the living hell out of the public and helped knock Obama out of office), the military/industrial complex has had a field day. Defense Secretary Jeb Bush, in his brother's best tradition, has dished out non-bid military contracts like appetizers at a cocktail party. As such, an end to this militaristic gluttony is nowhere in sight. Thanks to their having underwritten our exponentially expanding national debt for much of the past thirty five years, China has now finally built up a military roughly equal to our own in nearly every category except numbers, of course, where they outnumber us 20 to 1. Naturally, the military/industrial complex doesn't mind, because they have been profiting handsomely all the while. And you'll never hear reports of this nature on Fox "News" or coming out of the Department of Public Information! Big business is happy, too. Ever since gigantic new tax cuts for business and sweeping deregulation changes became effective in 2013, and now that nearly all of us working Americans are working 60+ hour weeks and are being paid what would have been considered a mere 20% above minimum wage only ten years ago, and with labor unions now outlawed, corporate executives are in ecstasy. I'll give these Republicans credit for one thing, though: they succeeded in getting the unemployment rate down to a scant 3.1%, and that's what's enabled them to get by with this economic murder. For it's come at a terrible price. Now we all have jobs, but UNDERemployment stands at a staggering 47%, so we have jobs, but no money. The last time I had a good steak dinner was at Christmas; my shoes and pants have holes in them; and going out to eat in a fancy restaurant or taking a nice long European vacation are luxuries that have disappeared into the lost decades of a distant past. As we might have expected, once the President issued an executive order ending all affirmative action, unemployment among blacks and Hispanics has shot up dramatically, to 31,7% and 24.5% respectively. A lot of us are now too tired and old to raise much hell about all this anymore. But not me, and that's why I'm hitting the road and going on the run...

Who would have ever thought wages would dip this far? Who would have ever thought unemployment benefits, overtime pay, and welfare would have all been done away with, as they were in 2015? Who would have ever thought that every major bridge in every major city would have dozens of homeless people "living" under it as we now have today? Who would have EVER thought the Republicans would successfully privatize Social Security as they also did in 2015, leading to a gigantic leap in the number of those over 70 becoming destitute almost overnight?

I keep thinking, over and over: HOW IN THE WORLD DID THIS HORROR STORY HAPPEN? I mean, IF ONLY WE ON THE LEFT HAD ACTUALLY VOTED AND HAD NOT STAYED HOME IN THE 2010 AND 2012 ELECTIONS! IF ONLY WE HAD FURIOUSLY FOUGHT TO EXPOSE EVERY SINGLE TEABAGGER/CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICAN LIE WHEN WE HAD THE CHANCE! IF ONLY WE HAD ARGUED MORE FORCEFULLY TO CONVINCE INDEPENDENTS AND THE APOLITICAL THAT THE CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICAN AGENDA WOULD BE CUTTING EVERYONE'S THROATS! IF ONLY WE HAD PUSHED PRESIDENT OBAMA FURTHER LEFTWARD INSTEAD OF ABANDONING HIM ALTOGETHER! Surely, had we been more proactive, things would have turned out far better and much differently than they are today. And I wouldn't be going on the run...

Monday, January 4, 2010

PARROTS FOR THE PLUTOCRACY

"I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country."
- Thomas Jefferson, Founding Father and former President -



"We are not a democracy. It's a terrible misunderstanding and a slander to the idea of a democracy to call us that. We are a PLUTOCRACY: a government by the wealthy."
-Ramsay Clark, former Attorney General under President Lyndon B. Johnson -


I'm not a hard guy to get along with. Yes, I bash conservatives and Republicans pretty harshly here at times in this blog, but by and large, I'm quite easygoing and good-natured. Good-hearted, too. Generally, I also have a fair amount of patience with most things. But two things really try that patience: mechanical objects that don't work properly, and electronics with intermittent short curcuits that are tough to pin down. Those types of things have been known to make me erupt and use language which would cause even Rush Limbaugh to blush. But the third thing which really makes my part-Irish blood boil is plutocrats, and those who stupidly aid and abet them. The latter, of course, are economic and social conservatives, and are usually (but not always) Republicans. And oh yes---ignorant, ill-informed people, and certain media talking heads also fall into that category of plutocrat-enablers, too .

I am not against wealth. I have the highest regard and admiration for those who go from rags to riches, and who do so honestly, without exploiting others in the process. But unfortunately, that is not how many at the very top of the income scale came to be perched there, or maintain their presence there. What I AM against is the way the wealthy (the plutocracy) have set things up so as to ensure they nearly always come out on top, most often at the expense of those far beneath them on the income scale, and how they have repeatedly used their wealth to effectively buy out our government for their own benefit. Thankfully, it is not impossible to become wealthy in this country. That is one of the wonderful things about the United States. But the wealthy have rigged the system heavily in their favor.


A number of people support conservatives and Republicans on the issue of taxes, and mistakenly believe that the GOP is more adept at running our economy. They believe that Republicans will hold the line on government spending and will cut their taxes; effectively being the best possible stewards of the economy. This is naivete at its worst. During George W. Bush's administration, he and his rubber-stamp conservative Republican Congress increased spending at a gigantic rate, far more than had ever been previously done. For the first time in our entire history, these Republicans went to war while simultaneously cutting corporate and ultra-wealthy individuals' taxes. Everybody else got very little or nothing at all in real tax relief. The GOP even accelerated a plan to privatize a large segment of our military by offering select companies non-bid military supply contracts. Middle class and poor taxpayers footed the tax bill for nearly all of this, and will be doing so for many years to come unless the plutocracy is finally taxed much more heavily. The misconception that Republicans are somehow better for business is disproved by a Ned Davis Research study. The study shows that, since 1901, Standard and Poor's 500 stock index has risen on average 7.2% per year under Democratic administrations, but only 3.2% under Republican administrations. According to International Strategy and Investment, in more recnt years (1944-mid-2008), the S & P was up on average 10.7% per year under the Democrats, but only 8% per year under the Republicans. The conservatives and Republicans also pressed for and got a large amount of deregulation in the banking and mortgage industries. The net result? A ballooning of our trade and government deficits which are being underwritten by China and other countries. That's right, folks: tax breaks for the rich and a war in Iraq that didn't need to be fought have put us into huge debt with China and other potentially hostile countries. Another result? Reckless market speculation that caused the government to have to bail out those careless Wall Street bankers who caused their own failures in the first place! Again, middle class and poor taxpayers footed nearly all the tax bill. Deregulation and irresponsible market speculation also caused rampant gasoline and energy price rises in 2008 and the near-collapse of our mortgage and banking industries. Record post-World War II unemployment, too, and a massive shift of good-paying American jobs to cheap foreign labor markets overseas. And who benefitted from all this? Did your paychecks and buying power rise dramatically as a result of these actions? Absolutely not. The only real beneficiaries of these policies were wealthy bank and corporate CEOs, their boards, their mainly wealthy stockholders, and our vast and growing military/industrial complex. In other words, the only real benificiaries were plutocrats. Does this sound like good stewardship of the economy to you? Would you call this "government of, by, and for the people"? I certainly wouldn't! Remember, folks, the best friends of this plutocracy are conservative REPUBLICANS and compliant conservative Democrats. Best remember this as you head to the polls next November!

Some people support conservatives and Republicans under the misguided notion that the country is safer and less likely to suffer attack from outside under Republican rule. These folks are simply listening to all the Republican bluster and talking points. They are ignoring several important facts. One, 9/11 occurred under REPUBLICAN watch, not Democratic. On August 6, 2001, while on one of his many vacations in Crawford, TX, President Bush was briefed that an attack by Osama Bin Laden on our soil was in the works. This warning was not acted upon, and 5 weeks later came the 9/11 attacks. Two, the Republicans dropped the ball by not finishing the job in Afghanistan in the fall of 2002. Bin Laden was able to escape into the mountains of Pakistan and remains free to this day. Three, the Republicans, led by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, began a very prolonged and costly war in Iraq which did NOT need to be fought. In the process, they unnecessarily ran our deficit sky high and also infringed on our constitutional rights by suspending the writ of habeas corpus. Four, they violated international law and the Geneva Convention through the use of rendition and prisoner torture, acts which may have dire effects on the well-being of future captured American soldiers. These errant actions, strongly supported by Republicans, weakened, rather than strengthened, our country's security and standing in the world. Voting for conservatives and Republicans in 2010 and 2012 will be voting for more of these same costly and wasteful kinds of mistakes. Their support of the military/industrial complex jeopardizes our national as well as economic security. Is THIS what you consider to be a competent, safe, and practical way to handle our national security? Hardly.

Finally, some people support conservatives and Republicans on grounds that they view them to be a more morally sound and pro-religious party than any other. Some are even foolish enough to assert that God Himself is on the side of the Republican Party. The Republicans make all kinds of noise about being pro-life and anti-abortion, and say they promote strong "family values," but in practice these claims prove to be fraudulent, too. For during the Bush administration, when they had solid conservative majorities in both houses of Congress and a de facto conservative majority on the Supreme Court, they made NO effort to eradicate abortion. Instead, they USED it as a political tool to steal Catholic votes away from Democrats. They have also routinely opposed practical contraception methods which would drastically reduce the numbers of unweed teens becoming pregnant and then opting for abortion. Beyond that, look at the numbers of prominent Republicans who have admitted to, or were alleged to have had, illicit sexual affairs over the past three or four years alone: Sen. David Vitter (LA), Sen. John Ensign (NV), former Sen. Larry Craig (ID), former Rep. Mark Foley (FL), and Gov. Mark Sanford (SC). Not a very clean slate for the supposed party of morality and religious purity. So when it comes to moral values, just as in the areas of the economy and national defense, the conservative Republicans love to talk the talk, but often fail to walk the walk. Don't buy their nonsense this November.

Ramsay Clark hit the nail on the head. This is indeed a plutocracy rather than a democracy. Ever wonder why Wall Street got bailed out by taxpayers and not Main Street? Or why legislation beneficial to average, everyday citizens rarely gets passed anymore? Corporate lobbyists write much of the legislation for individual congresspersons. Ever wonder why the public seems so ill-informed at times? Or why our news is shallow, repetitive, and not very broad? Why we only seem to get PART of the story so often? Six major corporations own nearly all of our news media, and present and reinforce their corporate values and bias constantly. Ever wonder why banks lavish perks and freebies on large depositors, and why they penalize accounts with small balances each month? It's brcause banks favor the wealthy and discriminate against everyone else. Ever wonder why YOUR wages remain frozen or are reduced, while corporate CEOs receive huge annual bonuses and golden parachutes even if their companies perform poorly? It's plutocracy in action, folks. The deck in this country is stacked against the poor and working American because our government and business are run for and by the wealthy for the benefit of the rich. Everyone else is a mere accessory.

Remember when voting this fall, everybody: the overwhelming majority of conservatives and Republicans are PLUTOCRATS. They do not understand, care about, or even look after, your best interests. They aim for power so they can continue serving the wants of the few; the wealthy; and corporate America. THEIR friends are on Wall Street, not Main Street. Watch out for those non-wealthy types like Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Tim Pawlenty, and some of the Fox "News" and CNN talking heads and pundits, who consciously or unconsciously do the plutocrats' bidding by issuing false or shoddily researched public statements on their behalf. These people are PARROTS FOR THE PLUTOCRACY, and are not to be listened to, trusted, or followed! Instead, let us campaign for and elect true public servants who care about and really understand the needs of average people! This year, let's nominate and elect more Bernie Sanderses, Dennis Kuciniches, Russ Feingolds, Ron Wydens, and Barbara Boxers to Congress, and dump plutocrats and enablers like Michele Bachmann, Virginia Foxx, and John Ensign! Let's dump plutocrats, their parrots, and their enablers once and for all!


BELOW: Your typical corporatist, conservative Republican we need to divest ourselves of.

"AWWWKKK! MORE FOR THE RICH! MORE FOR THE RICH! AWWWKKK!"

"AWWWKKK! POLLY WANT A TAX CUT! POLLY WANT A WAR! AWWWKKK!"

Friday, January 1, 2010

WORDS OF TRUTH FOR THE NEW YEAR

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYBODY! 2009 was a year of lies. Conservative far-right Republicans unleashed a volley of whoppers against economic stimulus and health care reform, and especially against the President. This now being a mid-term election year, I expect more of the same from them throughout 2010. But we as progressives must all make a dedicated effort to answer each and every upcoming Republican lie with a LOUD rebuttal. They cannot be allowed to get away with a systematic outpouring of distortion as they did in 2002 and 2004, and tried to do again in 2006 and 2008. Let's dedicate ourselves to making this a year of TRUTH, instead. Let's continue presenting fact and reason as we do. Let's do it boldly, frequently, and relentlessly.

I plan this year to complete my "progressive manifesto" and to periodically feature other series, one of which soon upcoming will deal with the negative aspects corporatism has had on farming in this, the breadbasket of the world. I will continue to expose the greed and moral failings of this corporate state we are now trapped within, and I will be featuring MANY posts on solid reasons why people must NOT vote this November for corporatist, conservative Republicans and Democrats alike. I will also highlight individual bought-out congresspersons and challengers, detail who's buying their influence, and explain why they should be defeated.

I thought I'd start you off this year, the YEAR of truth, on the proper footing with some WORDS of truth. Enjoy, and try not to chuckle too hard at some of these...




"A gathering of Democrats is more sweaty, disorderly, offhand, and rowdy than a gathering of Republicans. It is also likely to be more cheerful, imaginative, tolerant of dissent, and skillful at the art of give-and-take. A gathering of Republicans is more reasonable, sober, purposeful, and businesslike than a gathering of Democrats. It is also likely to be more self-righteous, cut-and-dried, and just plain BORING."
- Clinton Rossiter -


"Conservatism is the policy of make no change and consult your grandmother when in doubt."
- Woodrow Wilson -



"Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a Republican. But I repeat myself."
-Harry S Truman -


"A conservative is a man who believes that nothing should be done for the first time."
- Alfred E. Wiggam -


"Instead of creating new jobs, Republicans give tax cuts to companies that send jobs ovrseas."
- Joe Baca -



"Latins for Republicans - it's like roaches for Raid."
- John Leguizano -




"Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear."
- William E. Gladstone -


"I'm a leftist. That's where the righteous ought to be."
- M.M. Coady -




"Mankind will never see an end of trouble until lovers of wisdom hold political power, or holders of power become lovers of wisdom."
- Plato -




"He's not a Republican. He's a Republican't!"
- Unknown -

"Every Republican in office is one Republican too many."
- TomCat of Politics Plus -


"Conservatives and Republicans are cowards. They constantly seek to protect themselves from the poor, the weak, the sick, and the meek."
- Jack Jodell -


THE BEST THIS YEAR IS YET TO COME!