I’m Sick of It

Every once in awhile I just get sick of American politics and “culture”.  Which is why I haven’t posted recently. This is a very negative post. If you are in a good mood, don’t read it.  If you have a firearm, unload it immediately and lock it away. For your own safety.

Mitch McConnell running for senator in Kentucky. A state that has embraced the ACA but calls it Kynect. Very successful. People LOVE it. Poor people finally get health care. So McConnell is running against Obamacare. He is running for one reason, according to him. To make sure that the president of the United States will not be able to govern for the next two years. McConnell has no positive programs. No desire to make life better for people. In fact, he wants to eliminate the very program that has been successful in Kentucky. Take away health care from his own constituents. His ONLY goal? Make Obama fail. And you know what ? The idiots will probably vote him back into office. Makes me sick.

Iraq is a total mess. The “Mission Accomplished”  has succeeded if the mission was to destabilize an entire region. If the”mission” was to unleash the most backward, radical, 13th century-minded fundamentalist force. If the “mission” was to enslave women under the guise of religion. If the “mission” was the genocide of Yazidis.  Now, the same folks who created this mess by supporting the occupation have no answers.  Except war.  What William Fulbright (in the Vietnam Era) called the “arrogance of power”. If only we stay longer. If only we use more weapons. If only…if only…if only. Already over half a million innocent civilians dead. They are now “free”from the tyranny of breathing. And the biggest hawks, of course, are those who would never leave the safety of their gated communities or  allow their children to ever be at risk. Remember, Dick Cheney had better things to do during the Vietnam War era. Makes me sick.

Many GOP-lead state governments are still trying to stop gay marriage. Why ? What is the point? Why does it matter to anyone else if two consenting adults want the economic benefits of marriage? Are there no real problems in these states? Is there full employment ? Does everyone have access to quality health care and quality education? Are these governments just controlled by folks who are inherently nasty and vindictive and narrow minded? These same state “leaders” are the ones who constantly moan about waste and government interference. Hello? Wasting tax dollars on court cases so your government can interfere with the lives of married folks. Makes me sick.

The Ferguson protests or the Ferguson riots. Take your pick. Happens all the time. People have legitimate complaints. Have legitimate reasons to protest. And then a few idiots , usually thuggish young men, turn to violence. Take it as an opportunity to loot and vandalize. So, the legitimate protest gets swept away by coverage of the violent few. Plays right into the hands of the racists. Of course, without the violence the protesters receive no news coverage at all. Protesting isn’t news. But violence works every time. Makes me sick.

Kim Kardashian.  I don’t know who she is. I could not pick her out of a line up. But every time I open my computer she seems to be there. Stories about her. What she eats. What she wears. What she doesn’t wear. Her baby. Who is she? Has she cured cancer ? Has she won a Nobel prize in literature? Is she involved in settling the Palestine-Israel conflict? Has she been working with orphans in Zambia? I suspect she is a media creation whose main claim to fame is being a media creation. I could be wrong. Nevertheless. The coverage of non-important people makes me sick.

OK . I’m done. Next time I promise a more uplifting post. Like….the REAL  truth about Santa Claus and his “elves.”

 

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Filed under ACA, Elections, healthcare, homosexual, Neoconservative, Obamacare, Politics, Religion, Republicans, Society, Taxes

The Liberals Are Coming! The Liberals Are Coming!

A Poem. With apologies to…well…everyone.

 

The Liberals Are Coming

 

Listen My children and who shall hear

The whining and crying of those who fear

Who dread the idea of rights for gays

And dream of a past of more bigoted days.

 

“The liberals are coming” is what they say

“The liberals are coming to take rights away”

“Gay liberals are coming to marry our sons”

“The liberals are coming to confiscate guns”

 

They ride through the internet,  fearful and mad

And watch Fox and Friends (which really is sad)

They worry that folks colored black, brown and red

Might all vote for Dems, a day they all dread.

 

Lockstep behind pundits their minds go a sail-in

Listening to Rush, Ann Coulter and Palin

Worshiping at the great temple of Cruz

Fearful of Muslims, agnostics and Jews

 

They see immigrants taking all jobs that are fun

Like picking tomatoes in the hot summer sun

And cutting up chickens and waiting at tables

(For non-union wages) and cleaning out stables.

 

But that half-breed from Kenya is the one they hate most

A communist-socialist they’d like to roast

That Marxist purveyor of health care for all

By tearing him down, they think themselves tall.

 

So afraid of the thought that workers have rights

If they could they would make every issue a fight

Compromise is a blasphemy they can’t conceive

For God speaks to them (or so they believe)

 

One wonders what happens to warp little brains

And cause them to focus on hatred and pain

See commies and Marxists behind every tree

And liberals plotting to “get stuff for free” ?

 

Well, the liberals aren’t coming,  so nothing to fear

The liberals aren’t coming, we’re already here

Over 200 years now and still doing fine

Slowly making life better,  one law at a time

 

Some “liberal” ideas that have taken hold?

Everyone voting. No slaves being sold.

Cleaning the water. Cleaning the air.

Minimum wages. Trials that are fair.

 

Medicare. Head Start. The old EPA.

(Well,  that one was Nixon’s…a “liberal” today)

Women have rights to their own personhood.

Social Security. See, it’s all good.

 

Let Fox-nurtured phobics keep crying in pain

With arguments silly and dumb and inane

And when they keep screaming and howling “Impeach!”

Remind them it was “liberals” who gave them free speech.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under ACA, Conservatives, Education, Elections, Environment, healthcare, homosexual, Immigration, Neoconservative, Republicans, Supreme Court

American Schools Part 2: The Great Privatization Scheme

$650,000,000.  Each year. That is what the US spends on public education. A big pile of pennies. A massive gold egg.

As  certain elements of our political system continue to degrade teaching and public education they are keeping one eye firmly focused on this treasure trove of tax dollars. Your dollars. My dollars. Dollars that are going to educate the next generation of citizens.

On one hand they attack teachers and unions and emphasize testing rather than learning. On the other hand they can’t keep their eyes off that big mountain of gold. Ripe for plucking. Privatization.

If you don’t keep the figure of $650,000,000 in mind you will  not get it. Just as the private prison industry has been taking over the housing of criminals, we see a movement in politics to turn over education, and tax dollars, to private companies. What Mitt Romney would call a “transfer of wealth”.

Now, you might think that is a good thing. Public schools can do better. Add to that the ingrained myth that private industry is somehow more efficient that public institutions. And there is no doubt plenty of waste , corruption and failure in some public schools.  So, it may be tempting to turn over the education of kids from highly trained professionals  to for profit companies.

Except it doesn’t work. Well, it depends. If your goal is to simply shift wealth from regulated, licensed, dedicated institutions to unregulated ,  short-term profit scam artists  it does work. If your goal is to  improve schools,  it doesn’t. Of course, the same politicians who are constantly trying to degrade public education, de-fund it and de-unionize  it are the ones who want to turn it over to the private entities. Starve the schools then complain about them.

I took my car to my “government-regulated” mechanic last week and told him to rebuild the engine using only a screwdriver. He said couldn’t do it.  He said he needed better tools to do the job correctly. I told him he was a failure. So, I need to get a new mechanic. I found a guy who said he could do it. He is a “privatized” mechanic. He doesn’t need to follow any stupid government regulations. And he is cheap. Left my car with him last week. I am sure it will be fine. Can’t wait to get it back.

Not a single long-term study has shown any significant increase in student performance in these privately run “schools”. A good example is the Wisconsin “Rocketship” fiasco.  Cut teaching staff. Put kids in front of computers. Emphasize only test scores. And even then test scores did not improve. But “Rocketship”profits did…from $ 2 million to $16 million. Without results. (http://truth-out.org/news/item/23319-scathing-report-finds-rocketship-school-privatization-hurt-poor-kids)

$650,000,000. Each year. Every year. Waiting to be transferred from the taxpayer to the private companies. Like pirates scanning the horizon searching for the Spanish treasure fleet.  The Jolly Roger of the privateers is being raised all over America. And the bullion is your tax dollars.

It’s coming. Every time you hear a politician degrade teaching and schools on one hand you can be sure he is taking something else from the privatization movement with the other hand.

The formula is here: Underfund education. Blame the teachers. Turn it over to privateers.

$650,000,000 each year is too hard to resist.

 

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American Schools, Part 1: The Great Leap Forward

After Mao Tse-tung (or Mao Zedong) the communist dictator took control of China he decided to develop industrial production as quickly as possible. His goal was to catch up with the nation of Great Britain, a hated imperial power, in the production of food and iron and steel. He did this by instituting a series of 5 year plans…the most important  called the “Great Leap Forward”. China was going to “leap” over a century of industrial and agricultural production in a few short years.

To do this,  the Mao bureaucracy assigned production goals of food stuffs and raw iron to  every commune. The commune  leader was responsible for meeting those goals. One of the ways to meet the production of iron ore was a multitude of “backyard” furnaces. Small furnaces in which the communes throughout China purified iron ore, pots, pans and scrap metal  for pig  iron, later to be used in the production of steel. The peasants and communes “enthusiastically” responded. (The toll in human life to these policies is well documented elsewhere).

Now, if a commune failed to meet it’s yearly quota the leader of the commune was demoted and a new bureaucrat took his place. If the commune did meet the quota the government often increased the quota slightly more the next year. After a couple years of this system the Chinese communes were producing massive amounts of pig iron. The Great Leap Forward was a great success. Or was it?

As it turned out the production of food and iron was pretty much a fantasy of the bureaucracy. In order to keep your job you had to turn in production totals. People lied. All the production was on paper, not in reality. After all, the government gave them no help and had production goals that were unreachable. In reality. And the iron that was produced was of such low quality that it was virtually useless.  But on paper all was well. After three years the Great Leap abruptly ended. A massive failure.

Which brings us to the current Great Leap Forward in American public education. We have heard ,  well,  forever, that US schools are “failing”.  Despite the fact that the US has one of the best educated work forces in the world. Just look at test scores. Look at those failure rates. Bring up those test scores. Demolish those failure rates.

Once, teachers were expected to teach youngsters. How to read, write, think, express and do all those other things educated folks are supposed to do. Teaching is hard work. Learning is harder work. It isn’t easy getting 14 year old boy to study . Video games, sports, the internet are all much more interesting than Pythagorean’s theorum. Or the causes of WW1. Or Darwin’s theory. Learning is an active process, after all. And if a youngster does not put in the time he will not get the reward. Should he?

Except. Those test scores. Those failure rates. If the test scores are low we have to blame someone. If the failure rates are high we have to find a scapegoat.  And the principals and superintendents and media and politicians and parents know exactly who is to  blame. The teachers. The unionized, lazy teachers. The overpaid peons. The peasants. The commune workers struggling to make pig iron in those backyard furnaces. Without much help.

So, what do we do? Have a Great Leap Forward. Just like Chairman Mao. Tell the peasants to “produce ” more with less. Just give us those “test results”. And raise those “passing rates”. And we will be happy. Lower the passing requirements. Make the tests easier. Produce test grading systems that boggle the mind (Like 40 out of 50 correct equals a 95). Do whatever it takes. Or heads roll. Superintendents get replaced. Principals get fired. But those damned teachers have tenure. Not what do we do?

Massive dishonesty. If  a student fails it is the teacher’s fault. Or the school’s fault. Or the parents’ fault. Never the student’s responsibility. The numbers look bad. Fix them. Some teachers and administrators cheat. Better to produce good test scores than lose your job. Keeps the community happy. No teacher is ever criticized for having too many passing grades. Drill, baby, drill. Forget about learning. Forget about the process of discovery. Focus only on the test. And then wonder why real students get bored. Doesn’t matter. It is all about the test scores. The production quotas. The pig iron. Forget quality, just produce the pig iron.

And when the Great Leap Forward (No Child Left Behind; Race to the Top) fails miserably, we know what has to be done. Blame the peasants. Blame the teachers. Privatization.

Next essay: The Great Privatization Scheme.

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Obama Captures Devil…The GOP Responds

Over the past few years the Obama Administration has successfully brought to justice the man responsible for 9/11.  Al-Qaeda members and leaders have been killed in drone strikes or captured. And recently one of the “masterminds” of the attack on the Benghazi ambassador was captured and is incarcerated.

But yesterday, the CIA announced it finally has gotten the big one. Under authorization given them by Executive Order 666 the US has taken into custody the Devil himself.

Known throughout the ages as various names,  this evil monster is finally behind bars in an US federal prison.

At his press conference President Obama spoke these words:” The international nightmare is over. Mission Accomplished. After centuries of war, hatred, greed, oppression and violence the world has now been freed from this most evil entity. Known throughout the ages as The Devil, Lucifer,  Beelzebub, The Evil One and various other names, it is now in US custody. The nightmare is over. Evil is gone from the world.

I want to thank the brave members of the NSA, FBI, CIA and Google maps . Their fine work and steadfast determination has  lead to the incarceration of this epitome of evil. Never more will he sow his seeds of hate throughout the world. Mankind is safe forever.”

Around the world the response was one of joy.  The Pope thanked the USA for ridding the world of evil. AIDS disappeared in Africa. All terrorists throughout the Middle East destroyed their weapons and vowed never to hurt anyone again. The Koch Brothers went into hiding. North Korea opened its borders. Putin went to church.

The response from the leadership of the GOP was fast and furious.

Ted Cruz: “How much did this cost the taxpayer? How many millions were wasted on tracking down Beelzebub while hard-working billionaires picked up the tab? Just another example of Obama’s irresponsibility. No taxes for me. Time to shut down the government again.”

John McCain: “As I said years ago, we need to go to war with anyone or anything. At anytime. For any reason. This is another example of Obama’s inability to go  to war over anything. A weak president . What time is it? Where are my pills? And another thing. We need to go to war to show our enemies that we are strong? What time is it ? Where are my glasses?”

Mitt Romney:” As I said all along, the Devil is bad. That is why we need a president who wears magic underwear. Only I can stop the Devil. Obama is clueless. Clinton is clueless…what…they captured the Devil ? That’s not what I saw in the polls…Is it election night yet.”

Sarah Palin: (shrieking)” Of course the Kenyan captured the devil. They were friends. Squawk. Squawk. I knew it. I said it all along. Proof that Obama is a communist. Who else can see Russia ? Can you see Russia? I can see Russia. Squawk. Squawk…Look at ME. At ME. Now.  I am fading fast…”

Mitch McConnell: “A total failure. A total disaster. Another example of how Obamacare has led us to ruin.  What now? Under Obamacare the Devil will get FREE health care for life. And a nice cushy prison cell all to himself. Just another example of Obama’s failure. We will make him fail.”

George W Bush: “No shit ? Gol darn it. Sonnova monkey’s uncle. Whooda thought ?  Mission accomplished. Wanna see my pictures ?
Gotta good one here of me painting a picture of me while I am painting a picture of me. Purty clever. Heh. Heh.”

Rob Rubio: “It’s about time. Should have been done years ago. This president is a failure. His policy is a failure. Anyone can catch the Devil. I could catch the Devil . I could catch TWO devils. I could catch two Devils, one Beelzebub and three illegals. Vote for Me. “

Rick Santorum:” Thank almighty God . Only God can catch the Devil. If Obama spent less time aborting babies and more time catching the Devil we would be the Land of the Free. Send money.  Now. Please. Hurry.”

Newt Gingrich: “Thank God almighty. We are a nation , under God. The greatest nation on earth. Under the sun. Obama is killing our nation. Send money now to stop Obamacare.”

Cliven Bundy: “Just another communist government overreach.  Taking a man out of his own home. Satan has rights. Unconstitutional. Only the county sheriff has the right to do that. I do not recognize the federal government. I do not recognize the USA or it’s authority. Get off my federal land. God bless the flag. God bless the USA.”

John Boehner: “This could be grounds for impeachment. Congress was not told in advance that the Evil One would be arrested.  We should have been notified that the purveyor of all of mankind’s pain for the last 6000 years was about to be taken into custody. At least 30 days notice. I am ordering articles of impeachment to be written as we speak. We will be organizing a special committee under the direction of Congressman Issa. Anyone see a bottle of Quick Tan around here?”

Meanwhile, the lawyer for Satan has asked the Supreme Court to overturn the Evil One’s arrest on the grounds that the NSA illegally collected information about his cell phone use. The lawyer also demanded that the arrest warrant be ruled illegal on the grounds of patient-doctor confidentiality. It seems as though the NSA and CIA received a tip  from a surgeon who was doing a heart transplant on Beelzebub. He realized that old Satan had no  heart to begin with, just an empty cavity. Justice Scalia has agreed to hear the case. Justice Thomas woke up briefly, concurred, then resumed his siesta.

Finally, Satan’s daughter has made her first public statement on the issue. She claims her father has diplomatic immunity as a life long member of the delegation from Hell that was legally elected a few years ago.  Her written statement follows.

“My father is a good man. He got me a good job. While he may have made a few teensy-weensy mistakes, when this is over he will be greeted in the streets of Montana as a liberator. Give the Devil his due.”(signed) Liz Cheney.

 

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Filed under Benghazi, Conservatives, crime, Foreign policy, Immigration, Neoconservative, neoconservatives, Obamacare, Politics, Religion, Republicans, Supreme Court, Taxes

From Hero to Traitor…A How To guide

Some people are heroes. Some people are traitors. And in the fantasy world of the right wing “media” there is no middle ground.  You, too, can become a hero…or a traitor. It is all about timing. Three easy steps.

Step One. Becoming a hero.

Volunteer to go to war. Does not matter which war. Does not matter if the cause is just. Or if there is any cause at all. War, in and of itself, is a hero maker. If you join you become a hero.

Nothing the TV “news” likes better than a good old fashioned war. Reporters make careers. Officers make careers. Soldiers …well, they try to survive. Bad guys are killed. Everyone is happy.

As a volunteer soldier your congressman may have his picture taken with you. You will be honored for your courage and bravery and patriotism. You will be in the campaign ads. Next to the flag. Papa is proud. Mama is worried proud. And you will be a great hero.

Until you come home. Then, well, you are on your own. Papa is still proud. Mama is relieved. Your congressman doesn’t recognize you. Now you need help. Of course, you can always join again.

Step 2 . Becoming a superhero.

Get captured. Does not matter how. Wander off of base. Go AWOL. Get trapped by the enemy. There are a thousand strategies you can use. But get captured and your hero status will rise exponentially.

Look at John McCain. From a playboy, flyboy , wise guy pilot to hero status just by being captured. So what if he gave military information to the enemy (His words in a 1973 US news and World Report first person account). I don’t blame him. Who wants to be tortured ?

So, a hero captured and held as a POW is a double hero. Congress demands that the president bring you home. At any cost. We don’t leave our men behind…blah…blah…blah. A weak president leaves troops behind. A cowardly president. Do anything …but bring them home. We will swap enemy prisoners to get our boys back.

Like 1973. When John McCain and other US POWs were swapped for Vietnamese POWs. Vietnamese POWs who would undoubtedly return to battle to kill other Americans. But that was okay. John was okay with that. A risk worth taking. We got our boys back. Heroes all. Especially John.

Step 3. Becoming a traitor.

The hard part. How do you change from being a superhero POW  into a traitor. It is all about timing. Ask Bowe Bergdahl.

Let’s say Barack Obama is president and he manages to negotiate your release. Well. Bad news for Bowe. You may have been a hero when you risked your life in Afghanistan. You may have been a super hero when you were taken prisoner and endured 5 years of captivity at the hands of the Taliban. Endured isolation. Endured torture. Endured.

Instead of coming home to bands and parades and embraces, you will come home to anger and nastiness and cowardly accusations. Instead of inspirational stories about enduring captivity, the armchair generals of Fox will label you a collaborator. The same folks who praised Cliven Bundy will vilify the POW. But don’t take it personally. It really is NOT about you.

It is all about that other guy. The wrong guy was responsible for your release.  Poor Bowe. Should have been born 40 years sooner. Then maybe someday he could have been a hero. And a US Senator.

 

 

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Soccer, The All-American Game

The upcoming soccer World Cup in Brazil got me to thinking. Always a mistake. There is no sport that more fully embraces American values than soccer. What the rest of the world calls football. It is strange that the “typical” American sports fan rejects this sport. Usually for two reasons.

First, it is low scoring. Can’t deny that. Second, it is low scoring. Can’t deny that, either.

Yet, if an unbiased anthropologist from Mars visited Earth she would come to the conclusion that soccer is an all-American sport. If she had studied the  values that “real” Americans articulate regularly.  Sports like baseball and American football, on the other hand, would be seen as throwbacks to the pre-democratic days of authoritarian rule. Likened to a Dickensian vision of America.

Some examples.

American value:  Freedom and individualism. There is no sport in which an individual is expected to act on his own more than soccer.  Every soccer player constantly adjusts during the match. Sometimes playing offense, switching back to defense, then offense again…oops, back to defense. Constantly. For 90 plus minutes. While you have a formation , that formation is in constant flux. Fluidity. Personal freedom abounds. Thinking is essential. Making the right decision on your own. What is more American that that?

Compare with baseball. Every pitch is dictated by a catcher or manager. Every at bat is proscribed by the coaches. Take a pitch. Bunt. Swing away. Hit and run. For the pitcher. Throw a curve ball. A slider. An intentional walk. The manager decides each minute detail. Signals are given to the players to tell them exactly what to do. Authoritarian to the extreme. Make no decisions on your own.

Or football. Every play is called by the coach. Every defense is called by the coach. Even when the quarterback calls an “audible” it is still a play that was practiced and practiced before the game. A play determined by the coach. And after each play we stop. Get a new play from the coach. Then play on. Authoritarianism run amok. Do not deviate.

In the two most popular American sports thinking is discouraged. The manager or coach has the brains. The players have the brawn. Cogs in the system. Don’t deviate. Do your job. The boss knows best. Do as you are told. We don’t pay you to think.  Freedom ? Not if you want to play.

American value: Fair play. While every sport has its poor sportsmanship issues, there is a custom in soccer that emphasizes fair play. It has to do with injury. A  casual observer might conclude that in American football the attempt to injure an opponent is, in fact, an essential  part of the game! During a play if a player gets injured he is run over and ignored. The cornerback pulls a muscle and writhes in pain on the ground. That is an opportunity to score a touchdown.  The game goes on. We will pick him up later. Same in baseball. Two fielders collide  and knock each other out. That is an opportunity to score a run. It is considered a lucky break. Fair play?

But not in soccer. If an opponent is hurt (really hurt, not diving) the opposing team will intentionally kick the ball out of play. They stop the match even though they have the advantage. And when play continues, the other team will kick the ball back to them. Sportsmanship. This occurs even in championship games. With millions of dollars at stake. In fact, if a team breaks this unwritten rule they will be roundly booed by their own fans. Fair play.

American value: Hard work. Let’s look at soccer. 90 plus  minutes of running, jumping, kicking, jogging. Almost continuous action. Players do take breaks within the game, but only for a few seconds when the ball is not near them. No time outs. No rest periods. One 15 minute half-time. No substitutions. You play offense . You play defense. You play the entire match. Three substitutions. Period. Eight players on each team play the entire match.

Let’s look at baseball. YAWN. Each player stands at his position when on defense. He waits. And waits. And waits. Maybe the ball will come to him, but probably not. The catcher and pitcher do most of the work. And the pitcher seldom plays all nine innings. Too tiring ! Then after standing around for three outs the team jogs to the dugout and…sits. And waits. And waits. For one turn at bat. Usually 4 times a game. And if  you do get on base you may get a chance to run or jog 360 feet ! Hard work ? Hardly work.

Now football is a bit more brutal.  After all, you are trying to decapitate your opponent. (The death penalty…that IS an American value). But each player only plays about one-third of the time or less. That amounts to about  20 minutes of real activity. Twenty minutes of hard work.  Oops. I forgot. Most of those 20 minutes are taken up in the huddle. Where you are being told what to do. The actual physical activity for the average player is about 10 minutes a game. Hard work ?

So, why do Americans hate soccer? It seems to encompass the American values of hard work, fair play, individualism and freedom. Must be something else. Maybe it is because soccer is a “communist” sport played in “socialist” leagues?

After all, an American value is capitalism. The best get ahead. The losers fall behind. Life is tough that way. Except in professional sports. In the rest of the world if a pro soccer team does not do well they get “relegated” That means kicked out of the league and another team takes their place.  Raw capitalism. Succeed or die !

But look at US pro sports. Even the worst teams get to stay in the league year after year. No  matter how incompetent. No matter how lowly. There is no real incentive to do better. There is always next year. Meet the Chicago Cubs. 100 years of futility. And still in the major leagues. The US pro sports system is actually socialistic to the extreme! Maybe communistic. No one gets demoted. In soccer, on the other hand, succeed or be gone!

So, why then is this” beautiful game” which exemplifies all of the best American “values” castigated in the USA? Baseball is supremely authoritarian. Football is minimally active for the individual player.  Neither punishes the least successful teams.

An anthropologist from Mars would say this: Don’t always listen to what folks CLAIM about their values, look at what they actually admire . Study how their sports reflect society. Authoritarian or democratic?  Take advantage of an injury or fair play? Talk about hard work or actually work hard? Success based on performance or guaranteed by a rigged system? Take orders or engage in free thinking?

Soccer: the all-American sport. Now…if they would only score more goals………

 

 

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The Worst Communist Ever

Karl Marx had been caught in a time warp. You know, the ones we see on old Star Trek episodes. He was “beamed” into the 21st century.  I heard he was recuperating at a local hospital . I managed to get in and find his room. As I walked in I noticed he was grinning with delight and nodding his head in agreement to some TV show.

Me: Hello,  Karl. What do you think of the 21st century?

Marx: Excellent (laughing). Finally. Finally the worker’s paradise has arrived ! The capitalist behemoth of the USA has a real communist leader. At last.

Me: Karl, why do you say that ?

Marx: Look. Look. At this Fox News . I have been watching for two days. This President Barack Obama is a communist. Thank god…oops..there is no god…thank the proletariat for electing this communist ! Workers of the world unite!

Me: Well,  Karl, I wouldn’t get too excited.

Marx: Capitalist stooge! Look at this Obama and what he has done for communism. No  more wars of imperial domination ! He is afraid to use military force. No more using the proletariat for capitalist wars!

Me: Well. He did bring most of the troops back  from Iraq. But,  he also sent even more to Afghanistan. And the US does have military bases in about 100 countries around the world.

Marx: Oh…well..but now all the “means of the production” are in the hands of the people. The workers control the banks. The bankers no longer gouge the proletariat.

Me: Uh…well,  Karl. Not exactly. There was a depression caused by the financial  sector. True.  So, Obama and Congress did give billions of tax dollars to save the economy.

Marx: Yes.  A classic “redistribution of wealth ” from the bankers to the workers! Communism triumphs. As I predicted.

Me:  Actually,  Karl. It was a “redistribution of wealth”, but it went the other way. The tax dollars from the workers went to bail out the bankers who then took that money and loaned it back to the workers at a profit. Banking profits at an all time high. Wages very low.

Marx:  OK.  But now the people  own the factories,  not the bourgeoisie. I saw on Fox News that the government bought the auto industry. For the people !

Me: Yeah…about that one Karl. The US taxpayers DID bail out the auto industry. But then Obama gave it back to the private sector. Another “redistribution of wealth” thing. From the proletariat to the capitalists.

Marx (getting a little glum): At least in the area of health care the people are now in power. Since this communist Obamacare, like they call it on Fox News,  is now the law. Everyone gets free health care. And the proletariat  government controls hospitals, doctors and all medical facilities. All are equal at least in that regard. All paid for with higher taxes on the wealthy.

Me:  Sorry, Karl. But while  the ACA did bring more of the …uh…proletariat into  the health care system, millions are still not covered. And the government does not control health care. Another “redistribution of wealth”…from the working taxpayer to the health  insurance companies.

Marx: …So…there has been no people’s revolution? No equality ? This Obama has not taken money from the wealthy and given it to the worker? “To each according to his needs” ? But Fox News says that Obama is taxing the rich out of existence. Power to the people !

Me:  Actually Karl,  the income disparity between the workers and the elites is greater than ever.  About one-third of the major corporations pay no tax at all. But the workers still have taxes deducted automatically from their checks. And the part about “according to their needs” ?  Well,  you know, maybe the Koch Brothers just NEED more than a single mother working at Wendy’s ? Maybe?

Marx: So, this Fox News tells me Obama is a communist. Yet he redistributes wealth the wrong way. Are there other TV channels I can watch to get a more accurate picture?

Me: If you want a more accurate picture of politics than offered on Fox News,  I suggest you start with the Cartoon Channel.

Marx:  Hmmm…The wealthy are wealthier than ever. Obama bails out bankers. Gives the car factories to the capitalists. Sends billions of tax dollars to health insurance companies.  Continue wars of imperialistic aggression ….One last thing. Can you get me back into the time warp.  I want out of here.  This President Obama…The Worst Communist Ever !

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Filed under ACA, Economy, Foreign policy, healthcare, Obamacare, Politics, Society, Taxes

Solar Panel Redux

May, 2014 news item: The installation of solar panels on the White House roof is complete. They will not generate much electricity but they serve as a symbol that it is time for the US to move toward non-fossil fuels. Time to look to the future and break our dependence on oil.  Barack Obama is also trying to get $2 billion for this new  technology. Perhaps sometime in the future we will look back on this as the beginning of the end of the stranglehold of fossil fuels as an energy source.

1979 news item: Jimmy Carter has installed solar panels on the White House. They do not generate a lot of electricity but are a symbol of what America can do in the future. If we have the will. In the midst of the Arab oil crisis this is a start to free us from dependence on fossil fuels. No need to invade the Middle East. Carter’s extensive energy plan calls for wise investment in solar technology.  All he needs is a willing Congress.

Carter states….” ….a generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken, or it can be a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people; harnessing the power of the Sun to enrich our lives as we move away from our crippling dependence on foreign oil.”

1981 news item:  The adventure ends. In one of his first acts a president, Ronald Reagan commands that the solar panels be removed from the White House.  As a symbol that America will remain addicted to fossil fuels. Any hopes that America may become free of dependence on the fossil fuel industry is dashed. The panels are sent to Maine’s Unity College where they provide free electricity for heating water.

35 years of lost research and development. 35 years of increased dependence on oil. 35 years of backward thinking.  Thank you Ronnie, your legacy lives on and on …at the gas pump. Next time you fill er up, think of Ronnie.

 

 

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Filed under Environment, Republicans, Society

Benghazi: The Final Emails Exposed !

This is a top-secret memo so PLEASE do not share this with anyone. I was able to obtain it from my sources in Infowars and the World Net Daily. Highly respected and almost as accurate as Fox News.  Believe me folks, this is going to blow Obama and Clinton out of the water !  The Benghazi emails they do not want you to read !

I know. I know. You are all sick of Benghazi hearings. But we have only had 7 committees so far and have still not learned what we WANTED to learn. We have had  bipartisan committees with testimony from experts. From folks in the know.  And all that we know is the following. The Obama administration screwed up. The Department of Defense did  not talk to the Department of State who did  not talk to the CIA who did not talk to the FBI who did not talk to the Libyan Embassy who did not talk to anyone. And we know now that Libya was dangerous! Who would have thought?

While all the committees are pretty much in agreement that the US government SHOULD have done a better job of anticipating the attacks, so far no one has been able to link  these “acts of terror” ( as Obama called them) to the White House. No matter how many times we tried we could not find that “smoking gun” that would show us how Barack and Hillary planned and executed these “acts of terror” (as Obama called them).  Until NOW.

I was able to obtain this top-secret email exchange. While I cannot reveal my sources, take my word for it. It is accurate and blows this Benghazi thing right out of the water. It will blow the Obama administration right out of the water. And it blows Hillary and her chances for the presidency right out of the water. Did I mention how it blows stuff out of …uh…the water ?

The actual UNREDACTED email transcript.

Fr: Hillary To : Barack  Re: Benghazi planned attack

Barry. Your planned attack on the ambassador in Benghazi as gone like clockwork. Your orders for all US military to “stand down” and do nothing to protect US citizens was a stroke of genius. Good work , comrade.

Fr: Barack To: Hillary Re: Benghazi

Thanks,  sister in arms.  It wasn’t easy. But  with all my fellow communists running the CIA and FBI it looks like we are on our way to victory. Killing these four people for no apparent reason is the great diversion we needed. My ties to the Muslim Brotherhood remain a secret. Allah be praised.

Fr: Hillary to : Barack  Re: Benghazi

Hey,  bro. Notice how all those committees whitewashed your orders to kill the Ambassador. Even Issa fell in line. Enlisting him as part of the “I Hate America” campaign was pure genius. Issa…isn’t that a Muslim name? Death to all infidels!

Fr: Barack To: Hillary Re: Issa and Benghazi

Maybe. But he is secretly in charge of the Jewish conspiracy to take over Des Moines. Issa has been my best friend in Congress. No one suspects his connection. Fools. Do they think I was able to torch that compound in Benghazi by myself? I needed an experienced arsonist to pull it off.  By the way,congrats on the Foster murder. Props.

Fr: Hillary To: Barack  Re: Foster.

That is old news, comrade. My greatest moment has been getting Bill to take the fall for my lesbian affair with Monica. Hope that never leaks out ! The important thing is to keep our eyes on the prize. Now that we have disarmed America and taken over all health care we can go on to phase three of our top-secret ” Hate America Plan.”  Let everyone vote. The final step in our communist takeover !

Fr: Barack To: Hillary Re: Delete this

Signing off, fellow traveller. Make sure you delete all these emails. If they were to fall in the wrong hands  (like Fox News or World Net Daily or Infowars)  they would blow this administration right out of the water. Our plans to take away freedom would be exposed. My safe deposit box with my Kenyan birth certificate might be exposed! So, be careful, my little communist sweetie pie. Black power !

Fr: Hillary To : Barack Re: Delete emails.

No worries,  Barry, my communist henchman. I will delete this so no one learns of our secret plot to” Hate America” and kill Americans . Deleting now. What does this button do ?

CC: Michelle Bachmann…ooops…

 

 

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It’s Not Funny Anymore

Barack Obama was born in Kenya. His birth certificate says Hawaii. Two newspapers in Hawaii announced his birth at the time. But, according to the birther movement, he was born in Kenya. Thereby making him an illegal president. A few conspiracy nuts at work ? Pretty funny stuff. We laughed.

Barack Obama is a radical Muslim who went to a madrassa as a child. A school where he learned to hate America and worship the Koran. Fox News carried the story. Over and over. And he did go to school. And the school had a lot of kids from Muslim families. But it was a public school. And in a Muslim country, believe it or not, most students come from Muslim families. Laughable. Silly. Debunked. Pretty funny stuff. We laughed.

Barack Obama is a radical black Christian who hates the white race. Wants to kill whitey. Plays the hate game. He did, after all, attend a church run by the firebrand black preacher, the Reverend Wright. And the good reverend is known for his hyperbole and angry  sermons. So, if Obama sat in a church and listened to sermons by this guy, he must be a white-hating racist. Except Obama left that church. He denounced the ideas of Reverend Wright. Publicly. And since Obama’s  mother and grandparents who raised him were white it is pretty hard to imagine that he hates “white people”. Silly. Right wing conspirators at work. Funny stuff. Silly. We laughed.

John McCain, in a frenzy of panic and disregard for all reason, manages to choose as his running mate one of the most unqualified people on the planet. Not just the US. The entire planet. And Sarah Palin becomes the darling of the emerging far, far, far right. When she can’t name a newspaper or magazine she reads her defenders blame it on Katie Couric. Couric “set her up” with a surprise “gotcha” question. Who could be expected to know the answer? It was a clever trap. And this same VP candidate then pronounces that her foreign policy credentials include the fact that Alaska is adjacent to Russia. (To be fair to Sarah she never said she could see Russia from her porch).She declares that  global warming was a fraud. 99% of the scientists are wrong! Drill, Baby, Drill.  She thought she had the intelligence, thoughtfulness and gravitas to be the most powerful person on Earth. She was to be a heartbeat away from the Oval Office. Absurd.  Unqualified. Ridiculous. What was McCain thinking? Pretty funny. We laughed.

And then there were the “make him fail” pronouncements from elected members of the Congress.. And a Congressman screaming “you lie” at the State of the Union message. Over the top. Wanting to make the POTUS fail ? The man just elected by the majority of Americans? Rudely interrupting a constitutionally mandated speech by the POTUS. Shouting out like a heckler at a baseball game.  Childish. Vindictive. Certainly this kind of vitriol would be rejected by the voters. They had gone too far. They will self-destruct. Pretty funny? We laughed.

And here is where the “liberals” have problems. The smug liberals. The elitist liberals. The “know-it-all” liberals . The “we are superior intellect” liberals.The “I am smart and they are stupid” liberals.  Like me. We just did not believe that so many people would tolerate this nonsense. How could folks fall for these frauds. In our cocoon of certainty, sanity and logic we assumed that just about everybody else would think, consider and then  laugh at these guys. They would see these shenanigans as silly and obnoxious and anti-American. And potentially dangerous. And punish the right-wing radicals  at the ballot box. They had gone way too far. We laughed.

Boy were we wrong.

The extremists gained popularity. We could not believe it. They won key seats in Congress and took back the House of Representatives. Astounding. And the nonsense continued. Intensified. Remember the “death panels” Where are they ? Remember Obama “taking away your guns”? Mine is still in the closet. Remember the “redistribution of wealth”? Today the top 1% of Americans still possess 40 % of the wealth.  Remember the “failure of Obamacare” and how businesses were going to close and unemployment soar? Unemployment is down to almost 6 %.

And then, in a temper tantrum befitting a three-year old,  the right-wing of Ted Cruz shut down the government, costing billions. Fiscal conservatives ? Now, seeing that Obamacare has become a reality and that people actually like it, they have a new shout.  Benghazi.  Benghazi.  Benghazi.  A “do nothing” GOP with a two-pronged  plan:  Shout loudly and do nothing for the American people.

We laughed at the birthers. We laughed at Sarah Palin. We laughed at the death panels and the ACA freak out. We laughed at the gun nuts. We laughed at the global warming deniers. But now they have power and influence beyond their numbers and seem to have a stranglehold on the democratic process.

Time to stop laughing. It’s Not Funny Anymore.

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Filed under ACA, Conservatives, Economy, Elections, Environment, healthcare, jobs, Neoconservative, neoconservatives, Obamacare, Politics, Republicans

End Obamacare NOW

It is time to end Obamacare.  The people have spoken.  We have seen poll after poll tell us that.  Obamacare is not what people want.  Obamacare must go!

Poll after poll (and politician after politician) tells us what people DO want.

First. They want to be sure that they can get some type of basic health care plan for themselves and their loved ones. Something affordable. With help for low income folks. One of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act. The ACA.

End Obamacare. Support the ACA.

Second. People want to be able to keep their sons and daughters on their insurance policies . In this tough economy many young people cannot find good jobs . To be able to stay insured on their parents’ policy makes good sense. People want it. Another provision of the ACA.

End Obamacare. Support the ACA.

Third. Basic services. People want basic health services like check ups and contraceptives and preventative medical care. It is cost effective. It is very cheap when compared to the consequences of NOT having these services. Another provision of the ACA.

End Obamacare. Support the ACA.

Fourth . End of life counseling. Very popular. People want to know their options when and if they become incapable of making end of life decisions. Nothing we like to think about but it can have a great impact on families, financially and emotionally. Luckily, the ACA provides for  the end of life counselling. No more Obamacare “death panels”.

End Obamacare. Support the ACA.

Fifth. Guaranteed coverage. People want a policy that guarantees they cannot be rejected or eliminated because of pre-existing or acquired health conditions. One of the main reasons people do  not change jobs. They want  to keep health benefits. The ACA guarantees coverage. Even if you start to get expensive.

End Obamacare. Support the ACA.

Sixth and seventh and so on…Limits to insurance company profits. No longer limits to payouts if you get really sick. Increased help for the working poor by enrolling them in Medicaid. Closing the prescription donut hole. And more…..

People HATE Obamacare. But they LOVE the provisions of the ACA. So join in. Call your congressman (If he is like mine he will never call back). Write your senator.  Email the White House. Together we can end Obamacare and implement the ACA.  Something all Americans can agree on!

 

 

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Filed under ACA, Economy, healthcare, neoconservatives, Obamacare, Society

Here’s an Idea…Let Citizens Vote !

There have been a slew of voter suppression laws in many GOP held states since the last election.  While on the surface many of these laws seem to be innocuous enough, the devil is always in the details.  Behind this attempt at disenfranchisement is the myth that millions of illegals are somehow managing to vote, and they all vote Democratic. Oh well. Sigh.

The reforms sound reasonable enough. Take Kansas, for example. The new law (in force since 2013) says that in order to vote you must have proof of citizenship.  A photo ID.  But that does cost money. And the list of acceptable documents needed to obtain the proper ID all cost money. The state website says that you can apply for a FREE birth certificate…uh…except it costs $15 to apply for the FREE birth certificate.  Tantamount to a poll tax.  If you want to vote, you pay. And lost in the details (remember  that is where the “devil” resides) is an interesting clause.

In Kansas folks who have voted in the past do NOT need new ID. Nor do they need to prove  US citizenship !  What ? Yes. The Kansas law seems to apply ONLY to new voters. Those registered before January 1, 2013 do not have to comply. But…if there has been wide scale voter fraud in Kansas (the purpose for the law) doesn’t that mean that voters “in the past” have been illegal ? Let the ILLEGAL voters continue to vote ?  Defies logic. But it makes sense if your goal is to suppress a certain segment of the population from voting. Young voters.  New voters. Poor voters.  Groups which tend to lean Democratic. Reminiscent of the very effective “grandfather clause” of the old south.

Other states, like Ohio, have changed their voting laws to make it more difficult for working people to vote. Actually, Ohio has pretty good laws. They allow early voting.  And voting on weekends right before the election. Very popular. Especially with working folks. And voting in the evenings the weeks before the election. This allows working folks a chance to get to the polls. Well, it did. But they discovered that African-American voters (largely Democratic) voted early and on Sunday. And since the working poor had jobs, the evening voting was attractive to them. Not good for the GOP.  This year the Ohio GOP government changed those voting times. Too many working people being able to make it to the polls has never been good for the GOP.

And Florida has made registering new voters much more difficult by ,for the first time, establishing very strict time restrictions on the process.
Just three examples, there are more.

All the while, these GOP controlled state governments insist that they want citizens to have the right to vote.  They WANT citizens to vote. They want all citizens to be part of the process.

OK. Let’s call their bluff. Let’s see if the GOP would join us in the following solutions.

First. Every person should be given a free national ID voter/citizenship card at the age of 18. Can’t do it? Of course we can.  Every male in the US is obligated to register for Selective Service upon reaching the age of 18.  Each one is sent proof of registration. They are put in the system. They are identified. A similar system could be used to register every male and female as voters. You get a card. Like a Social Security card. It proves you have the right to vote. You present the card at your polling place. Only citizens get these cards. End of problem.

Second. Mandate that any other forms of ID required to vote must be free. No application fees. Free. If any state requires ID beyond the Voter registration card the state must provide those forms of ID  for nothing.

Third. Voter week. Every state will open voting for one full week , ending on Tuesday, election day. And each state will provide polls to be open until 9 PM each day of the voting week. This will make it easier for citizens to vote. Make it easier for the working class to vote. Something the GOP SAYS it wants to do.

Fourth. Any illegal immigrant attempting to vote will face immediate deportation.

Fifth. The voter tax rebate. Every citizen who votes in the national election will be given a tax rebate of $100. Just send it in with your next year’s tax return. A reward for good citizenship.

I am sure there are other, better ideas for encouraging voting. Maybe a national voter registration week ? Or making Election Day itself a national holiday?

If the GOP is serious about citizens voting there are plenty of ways to encourage that. Of course, if EVERYBODY votes, the GOP has real political problems. And they know it.

So, despite the posturing about “citizens” and “waving the flag” and “honoring America”,  don’t expect any action soon from the GOP.  Do expect voter suppression laws to continue to become more focused and more restrictive. Otherwise it would look too much like they were encouraging democracy. And we all know where that will lead.

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Filed under Elections, Politics, Republicans

Women and Children First

What has happened to our cowboys?

News item summary: A “rancher” named Bundy has been grazing his cattle for free on federal land for 20 years. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has taken him to court a number of times trying to collect. The fees,  by the way are incredibly cheap. The BLM charges $1.35 per animal per month. Try to feed a cow for that. (Private businesses charge $10-28 per month for the same grazing rights) But this cheat refuses to pay. And when, after 20 years and court cases the BLM finally did come to take his cattle, he called on his cowboy friends relatives to take up arms. And the BLM backed down. For now.

I am not even going to bother with whether or not this guy is legally entitled to use land that does not belong to him. The courts are clear. He doesn’t. And his claim that he does not recognize the “authority of the US government” may give him a leg to stand on in an insanity plea. But not good for much else. I prefer to focus on another aspect of the case. Cowboys and how they have changed.

Those who support Bundy with their guns and philosophy present themselves as heroes. Tough talking hombres. A couple cowpokes I saw on camera said they were ready to “give their lives”. Give their lives so a guy who Romney would describe as “wanting something for nothing” could continue to mooch off the government. OK.  I guess that is worth dying for.

Or, well, maybe not give MY life, exactly, but somebody’s.

As the story unfolded a former Arizona sheriff, Richard Mack , talked to Fox News (sic) about the strategy he intended to use. I am NOT making this up. Mack said that if things heated up the Bundy faction intended to put women in front of the men. Unarmed women. To be used as shields. To take fire from the federal “rogue agents”. To be casualties. This would prove just how evil the federal government was.  Can’t argue with that “reasoning”.  The cowboys would hide behind a human shield. What has happened to our cowboys?

Maybe it is time to remake some of those old westerns I watched as a kid. Try this:  “Shootout at the Nevada Chicken Ranch”, starring John Wayne and Clint Eastwood.

John Wayne: Well,pardner, I see the evil Land Management Goons are coming to try to take away our grazin rights. Gonna meet em at 12 noon at the Nutcase Corral for the big shootout.”

Clint Eastwood: (spits) There’s 10 of them and only 2 of us. But I’m a willin’ to die so Uncle Buck can continue to graze his 7 herd of longhorns for free.  How about you?

JW:Hmmmm…. I know a better way out of this mess. How many womenfolk do you have?

CE: Well, there’s my wife, Lilly Sue and daughter, Rosey Sue and the baby. Aunt Gertrude and my niece Mandy Sue.  That’s it.

JW: Well, lemmee see. I have my sister Honey Sue and she has 4 little uns, Sue Sue, Gunna Sue, Wanna Sue and Lets Sue. There is my Aunt Nelly and Aunt Kate. Oh…don’t forget Granny Grumplin. If we can git her started in her walker she’ll be fine. Hardly ever falls over. We can prop her up if needs be.

CE: Well,what’s yer plan?

JW: Here it is,  pardner. We’ll git all those womenfolk down there and stand them up between us and the feds. Then, when the shootin starts we’ll have good cover. Reminds me, how about the Pork Belly twins? Seen them around?

CE: I…I…don’t know, pardner. That jest don’t seem right. To use the womenfolk like that. It ain’t manly. It ain’t the cowboy way. It’s kind of cowardly, ain’t it?

JW: Aw, go on pardner.Times are changin.  This is a deadly situation. And you know what they always say. If there’s trouble it’s always “women and children first”.

Cowboys just ain’t what they used to be.

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I LOVE the IRS

It is April 16. Tax day has come and gone. I can finally admit it. I am a Revenuephiliac. I love the IRS.

I fear this admission will rain down anger upon my being. I will be hated more than Gandhi at an NRA meeting. Vilified more than Al Sharpton at a gathering of the White Aryan Nation. Be more harshly treated than Sarah Palin at a MENSA Convention.

But I confess. I love the IRS. Very Un-American, I know. But that’s the way I am. And here’s why.

The IRS is under attack. And has been for many years. The money budgeted for enforcement has been declining. Since 2002 the IRS budget has actually declined by 17%. Fewer agents means that the chances of getting audited are less than 1% for most folks, about 20% for millionaires and less than 1% for businesses. Some politicians, like Ted Cruz, have publicly stated they want to do away with the IRS completely. So, as a champion of the underdog, I take up the banner of our tax police. Seriously. They have a banner.

As the financial support for the IRS has waned on the one hand, fraud and corruption have skyrocketed on the other. Who could of guessed ? Fewer cops, fewer arrests. The Center For Tax Justice estimates that for every dollar spent on funding the IRS the US brings in $10 dollars in revenue that would otherwise be lost. WHAT ? A federal agency that makes money ? Others estimate that with long term modernization the actual investment return is closer to $200 for each dollar spent today.  There are BILLIONS of tax dollars going uncollected each year. Over $280,000,000,000 in overdue taxes will never be collected according to an IRS study from just a few years ago. And it is getting worse.

It has been a longstanding tradition to hate taxes. It is as American as racism or homophobia, to be sure. The nation was founded by tax dodgers. The Boston Tea Party was not a protest against free speech…it was a tax protest. And probably justified. Why pay taxes to those guys across the ocean? The Whiskey Rebellion? Same thing. Except this time it was why pay taxes at all. So, we have a solid history of being tax avoiders and tax cheats. All the more reason for the IRS.

After all, the IRS is nothing more than the domestic equivalent of our military or police force. And who can hate the troops? Or the police? They uphold the law, go after lawbreakers and make sure everyone plays by the same rules.  They support the democratic process and the rule of law.  They help collect the funds necessary to keep the nation moving ahead. They are the cop on the beat. The Marine standing guard over the flag.

Of course some taxes are pre-collected. The tax on the McDonald’s counter worker and the non-unionized VW assembly line worker. The cop. The teacher. The engineer. Anyone who works for a living. These shmucks can’t cheat on their taxes, and probably wouldn’t anyway.

Who could be against the IRS ? Tax cheats? Crooks? Organized crime? Money launderers for drug cartels?

Who benefits from a weak police force ? The honest citizen or the criminal?

So, join me in this IRS lovefest. Write your congressman. Ask for more money and better enforcement of our tax laws. What better investment is there? A $10-200 return for every dollar spent. In the end, if ALL taxes are collected, won’t you and I pay less? Won’t the honest citizen get a break?

Revenuephiliacs Unite! You have nothing to lose but your friends! And you might save a few bucks as well.

 

 

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Empty Tin Cans

I confess that I spent much of my early life in the basement classrooms run by Catholic nuns. 60 kids in a class. One nun. Order was maintained by a combination of physical and mental coercion that would leave Dick Cheney screaming for the ACLU to intervene. Made the CIA look like a marshmallow convention. Nevertheless, order WAS maintained.

One of the nuns, Sister Crossmetwiceandyourdead, was especially adept at the verbal barb. And when the third grade boys in the back of the room (never me, of course) were getting rambunctious she would utter one of her favorite jibes: Empty Tin Cans Make the Most Noise.

Which brings me to the Tea Party Republicans. 

We have witnessed, over the last 4 years, a regular, strident, loud and nasty noise from these folks. Unrelenting. Untrue, yes. But the noise is still the noise.

And just like the noise from the ill mannered third graders interfered with any orderly, sensible discussion in class, so the noise from these third party Tea Party supporters is meant to do the same for sensible, honest, political debate.

After all, it is not the “noise” of folks trying to bring about some positive change or supporting making things better. It is not the positive noise of cheering on your team at the ballpark. It is the boos and catcalls and whistles of the few post-adolescent boys in the bleachers who have had too much to drink. It is noise without purpose except to confuse and irritate. Signifying nothing. Just loud. 

BENGHAZI. BENGHAZI. BENGHAZI. They chant this mantra as though it has some deep, philosophical  or factual underpinnings. So, the GOP Congress investigates Benghazi. A tragedy. They collect evidence. Indict no one. But the noise continues.As though a tragedy is reason enough to make noise. BENGHAZI.

OBAMA HATES AMERICA. OBAMA IS A MUSLIM. OBAMA IS A SOCIALIST. The noise. The labels. No evidence. No basis in fact. But,  just as my little classmates enjoyed doing anything but the hard work of school, (after all they WERE 3rd grade boys) so these adult Tea PArty chanters enjoy the sound of their own chanting. Easier than facing facts. Easier than doing the work. OBAMA IS EVIL.

OBAMACARE IS BAD. OBAMACARE IS BAD. The empty tin cans. They bang. They clang. They deafen meaningful discussion. They evade specifics. Always. Evade specifics. It’s just ..bang…clang…bad….bang..clang…OBAMACARE IS BAD.

OBAMA WANTS YOUR GUNS. OBAMA WANTS YOUR GUNS. And yet. No guns are taken away. Nor bullets. I just double checked my closet. Gun still there. Bullets still there. The tin cans clang. Deafening. Drowning out sensible debate while 35,000 Americans die each year. The empty tin cans even drown out the sounds of children screaming in Sandy Hook Elementary. OBAMA WANTS YOUR GUNS.

After a few years the empty tin cans in my school moved on. They grew up. They did what they needed to do, even if they didn’t like it. Maybe they realized that their senseless noise wasn’t amusing anymore. Maybe they wanted to participate in positive ways. Maybe they just got tired of their own banging and clanging. I know the rest of us did. Or maybe they deafened themselves. 

So, Sister Crossmetwiceandyourdead, I guess you were right. The empty tin can noisemakers were very loud and very forceful. But, in the end, their noise dissipated. They grew up.  Let’s hope the current Empty Tin Cans are able to do the same.

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Congressman Reed’s Misinformantion

I  receive “communications” from my representative in Congress, Mr. Reed (R-NY) , fairly regularly. Which is good. I  like to see what he is up to.  One of his jobs as a Congressman is to keep folks “informed”. I guess. Which is why I always look for information in his literature.  And looking for information in his mailings is like a Where’s Waldo problem.
Two Examples:
Example 1: A postcard he sent telling me he opposes Obamcare’s cuts to senior citizens, specifically cuts to Medicare. This sounds pretty awful, especially since I am soon to be joining the Medicare system. I certainly don’t want the government cutting MY BENEFIT!. I mean, we have to cut somewhere, but not ME!
The postcard had a pretty specific figure of $300 billion dollars. A very big cut to my benefits. Obama wants to cut MY BENEFITS  by $300,000,000,000. Not anything to sneeze at.
So I called Mr Reed’s office and talked to a very nice lady. I asked her what programs were being cut by Obamacare. $300 billion is a lot of programs that old folks are going to lose. She was pleasant enough and tried to answer, but couldn’t.  She explained that they had no SPECIFIC information on that topic. Took my name and phone number so the Congressman could get back to me with an answer. . Two weeks ago. Never heard from them since.
Example 2: An email arrived telling me how Mr. Reed was opposing Obamacare because of the new “full-time” work provision. According to the email, people who work 30 hours a week are now considered full time. And this is a travesty. An outrage.
It will hurt working families. They will make less money. So, Mr. Reed is sponsoring a bill to make the 40 hour work week the law of the land.
I called Mr Reed’s office. I talked to a very nice young man. Again, he was pleasant but could not answer some of my questions. Does Obamacare mean that people can work ONLY 30 hours ? Can’t they work more if they and their employer want them to? Wasn’t this “30 hour” provision put in so companies could not make someone work, say, 39 hours and then claim they were part-time, hence not covered by the law? What is the real problem here?
Once again, these basic, common sense questions could not be answered. I almost felt sorry for these staff members who are forced to try to explain these silly bits of misinformation put out by the Congressman.
Conclusion: It is one thing to be against the ACA for legitimate reasons.  And back  it up with evidence. It is quite another to spread misinformation and partial, selective  information to try to undermine the law. People deserve ACCURATE information. If Mr Reed opposes the ACA, as he does, then why stoop to a low level of shenanigans? He should be ashamed of these types of mailings. I am sure there are real weaknesses in the law, but when Congressmen spread misinformation about it, it leads one to question ANYTHING they say in their literature.

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Corporate Rights #3: The Hobby Lobby Fact Sidestep

A third aspect of the Hobby Lobby case bears mention. This is covered quite extensively in a March 21, 2014 article from Mother Jones (Are You there God? It’s Me, Hobby Lobby by Stephanie Mencimer). The article points out a couple of problems with the Green family claims. I call them Fact Sidesteps. (Picture a Vaudevillian with a cane shuffling off stage right)

Fact Sidestep 1. Hobby LObby claims as fact that it has longstanding, strong religious objections to covering IUDs and Plan B contraceptives. But, in fact,  Hobby Lobby HAD been covering these two contraceptives BEFORE the ACA was passed and implemented. The questions becomes: How sincere are the religious beliefs of this corporation/family? Did they have a new revelation from god AFTER the ACA was approved? Nice little shuffle.

Fact Sidestep 2: Hobby Lobby wants to deny covering these contraceptives as part of an overall health plan for their employees because they oppose these contraceptives. Yet, their own pension fund is INVESTED in these contraceptive manufacturers. Their argument could well be that since the pensions funds are part of a group, they had no choice but to invest in them as part of a group investment. So, they MAKE money off these companies (against their own religious beliefs) but refuse to SPEND money to cover these contraceptives. Interesting shuffle.

Fact Sidestep 3: Some commenters  (on Yahoo) have insisted that Hobby Lobby has no choice but to invest in these companies because they are part of a set groups of investments. Yet, at least since 1994 there have been specific funds for “anti-contraceptive” fundamentalist Christians to invest in. Evidently, the Greens did  not find those funds as profitable. Keep a shufflin’ right off stage.

All in all,  this corporate sidestep should be seen for what it is. Using a religious argument to attack the ACA…and save a few bucks . If “sincerely-held” beliefs require “actions”, the Green family/corporation fails the religious test. But, the Roberts court has not been one to let a little shuffling get in the way of the majority decisions.

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Corporate Rights #2: The Hobby Lobby Religion

Central to the Hobby Lobby case before the Supreme Court is whether a corporation can exercise the right to religious freedom. And thereby excuse itself from laws it finds religiously offensive.

We have a long history of allowing religious institutions and sometime even individuals exemptions from the law. Or parts of the law. For example, the Affordable Care Act exempts religious employers from paying for health insurance costs related to some areas of contraception and abortion. The principle, not really tested yet in court in the case of the ACA, being that legitimate religious beliefs trump this part of the law. While I personally do not agree that any institution or individual is above the law, the Congress disagrees. Perhaps the lobbying power and financial clout of non-tax paying religious organizations may be part of the reason for this exemption. At any rate, it is there. It exists. It is legal.

But other times the courts have ruled that certain practices of religious groups are not above the law. Polygamy, for example, was considered essential for the leaders of the Church of Latter Day saints. But the government ruled otherwise. Even though it was, at the time, a central doctrine of the faith. The Mormons believed in it. The US government said “No”.

And no one would argue that child marriage, slavery, human sacrifice  or actions which obviously harm individuals should be protected, no matter how sincere the beliefs of the religious group that holds them. So, the courts have ruled that religious freedom has  limits, as does  any right.

Individuals who may object to joining the military can apply for conscientious objector status, which precludes them from taking part in combat. But even in this case, it does  not exempt them from military service. They are given other jobs to do. So,  in that sense, they are not exempt.

What about Hobby Lobby? It is not a religion. It is not a church. It is a junk store. It does business in the United States as a multi-million (perhaps billion dollar) corporate entity. Not a mom and pop operation. Not your local Jewish deli. It is a corporate chain, like a MacDonalds or a Dollar Store. What is it’s claim to a religious exemption?

The family that owns Hobby Lobby has sincere religious beliefs. As do the owners of thousands of businesses. And the CEO  of Exxon  or GE or Boeing.  But Hobby Lobby is claiming that the beliefs of a few people, because they are owners of a business enterprise,  somehow allow them to impose their terms on a secular labor contract. While the law says that any business must provide certain things…overtime pay, safe working conditions, minimum wages and now minimum health care benefits, Hobby Lobby is claiming that it does  not have to  abide by those laws. While it uses a religious argument, the actual substance of the case is about money. After all, no one is forcing the Green family to pay for anything out of their own pockets. They have the legal protections of a corporation, but do not want to fulfill the responsibilities of a corporation under the ACA.

The workers earn benefits. Can a corporation limit or reduce or deny benefits based on some new and radical idea of “corporate religion”? If so,  any reasonable person can follow the thread and see where it leads. Any corporate lawyer worth his salary will be codifying “religious beliefs” for Wendy’s and GM before the ink dries on a favorable court decision.

Of course a corporation cannot claim religious freedom to avoid labor laws. A corporation is an artificial , man-made legal construct.  Can anyone claim with a straight face that the original intent of the Bill of Rights was to shield business entities from the powers given Congress in Article 1 ?

Perhaps. After all, some members of this court have already turned the Constitution and themselves  into a logical pretzel with the Bush v Gore decision and the Citizens United decision. While both were obviously politically motivated the majority managed to mangle the interpretation to mean “whatever I say it means”.

So, while an honest interpretation of the law (which already exempts religious groups) and the Constitution would seem to indicate a 9-0 decision against Hobby Lobby, there is no telling how far some members will go in their homage to corporate power. We shall see. Just as Citizens United has turned our elections into a livestock auction,  (“twenty dollar, eighty dollar, five thousand dollar, two million dollar…SOLD, to the two brothers in the back of the room slinking in the corner”) this court decision could eviscerate any worker protection and undercut Article 1 of the Constitution. Believe it.

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Corporate Rights#1:The Sexual Deviants at Hobby Lobby

Quick background. The company  called Hobby Lobby,  owned by a family called the Greens,  does not want to pay for part of the health care for some of it’s workers. This is basic preventative health care covered , by law,  under the ACA. They don’t like some of the forms of birth control, which they claim are abortions. While the medical and scientific evidence refutes that claim, that is not the point.

The point is that the Greens want to exempt themselves from the law based on their personal  religious beliefs . This raises a number of issues, only one of which I will touch on today. There are other issues to be examined at a later date. But today the issue is the Green support for “sexual  deviance”.

Are the owners of Hobby Lobby trying to force deviant sexual practices on their employees? And should a company be able to encourage their employees to engage in sexually deviant behavior, directly or indirectly?

Let me explain.  The Greens oppose the idea of abortion. They also oppose having to pay for any contraceptive that they consider to be abortion inducing .  They reserve the right to define the drug and then refuse to  pay insurance costs associated with their findings. It should be noted that at least some of the contraceptives they find to be abortion inducing are not . But the court did  not delve into the scientific validity of their claims, only their genuinely held beliefs. So be it.  Some folks believe that dinosaurs walked with man. So be it.

So,  what the Greens are saying is that if their employees participate in sexual activity that could lead to pregnancy, the Greens oppose providing the means to  prevent or abort that pregnancy. Keep following this. So, if an employee of Hobby Lobby and her husband have sexual relations in which the husband carefully (or not so carefully) inserts his penis into the employee’s vagina, then the Greens get upset. They will not pay for certain contraceptives that might lead to the sexual act NOT producing a bouncing bundle of joy. So, the Greens are telling their employees that every personal sex act between a husband and wife is now the business of the Green family, because they employ one of the parties at their store. OK.

Oddly, however, the Greens are actually using an economic incentive to encourage couples to engage in non-copulatory sexual behavior. Oral sex will not lead to pregnancy. The Greens are encouraging it. Anal sex will not lead to pregnancy. The Greens are saying  to their employees. Go For It. Homosexual activity will not result  in pregnancy. To the  Greens,  that is A-OKAY in their book. I must suppose that bestiality must be number one in the “Hobby Lobby Guide to Employee Sex Practices”. After all,  the ACA does not cover vet bills.

So, we must ask ourselves. Are the Greens,  under the guise of  religious “freedom” actually encouraging their employees to engage in all kinds of sexual activity. Do they get a vicarious thrill from the thought of their workers going home and engaging in a variety of sexual practices, many of which were illegal only a few decades ago ? Does it excite their corporate religious fervor ? We cannot know and I am only asking. I am not sure where this will lead, but I suspect in the end it will unravel as a communist plot to ensure deviant sexual practices are mandated in America. Obama’s fault. I can feel it coming.

Next up, another essay on the corporate rights.

 

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Thank You , Georgia,I’m Sorry

Having returned from a short trip to the south, including a visit to Savannah,  Georgia, I have to thank these southerners for their hospitality. We had a nice time in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. So, thanks. But today I saw a news article that causes me to thank Georgia politicians even more and tell the people of Georgia that I am sorry.

It seems as though Georgia’s legislature has decided to pass two laws regarding access to health care in the state. While I thank them for one of these laws, I am not sure about the second one.

First, a law which refuses to accept billions of federal  dollars to fund Medicaid for Georgia’s poor, especially the working poor. While the feds are giving states 100% of the costs of Medicaid this year and 90 % in the future, the politicians of Georgia have generously decided not to accept that windfall. And I thank them. Why ?

Well,  since the people of Georgia are paying taxes into the Medicare/Medicaid system they are helping support people in other states, like New York,  and getting nothing in return. This means that over the long haul more money will be available for participating states, at the expense of Georgia’s citizens. Thank you, once again. Very generous of you.

A second law is a bit more curious. Georgia, after all, prides itself on embracing  those freedoms we all hold so dear. Free  press. Freedom of religion. Free speech. Freedom of association. Which makes the next law a bit curious. This law prevents Georgia citizens from helping other Georgia citizens. It prevents them from helping others enroll in the ACA.

In other words, if a Georgia citizen FREELY desires to enroll in the ACA it is illegal for others to assist him or her.It is illegal for others to try to make that enrollment process easier. To give them needed assistance. It is the ultimate “anti-Samaritan” law. Seems kind of odd in a state where the word “freedom” is thrown around like a frisbee on a college campus. And belief in god is spouted even more often. But, so be it.

What are the ramifications of these laws ? Well, for one, the people of Georgia will miss out on billions of federal dollars in aid. The estimated 70,000 plus jobs based on the increase in health care availability (most in the private sector ) will not be created. Those Georgians without health insurance will continue to either get sick and not go to school or work, hurting the economy, or seek treatment at Emergency Rooms in hospitals. The most expensive treatment. Costing Georgia’s citizens even more money with increased health insurance premiums.

And , quite likely, the better health care professionals will seek employment in states with a more supportive attitude towards the medical needs of people.

All of this because a handful of elected officials hate Mr Obama. There is an old saying which applies: Cutting off your nose to spite your face.

So,  thank you Georgia for your hospitality and for helping pay for my state’s Medicaid coverage. And, I am sorry Georgians.  Sorry that you have to live in a state run by people with such hatred towards Mr Obama that they will allow you and your children to suffer. It is quite a dichotomy. Such nice folks. Such nasty politicians.

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Frack You

I saw a news story today about a very wealthy man. A mean REAL rich. He made over 40 million dollars last year. He must be working his butt off. I am presuming he takes no vacations, so that comes out to $770,000 per week. $154,000 each DAY. Let’s say this guy works 10 hours a day. That’s $15,400 an HOUR.  Just give this some perspective. A minimum wage worker (at $ 7.25 per hour) would gross $15, 080 per YEAR. $15,400 per hour vs. $15,080 per year. That is one hard working dude.

His job ? CEO of Exxon Mobil, the number one fracking company in the world. For those asleep during the Bush years. First, you were lucky. Next, during the Bush years the Cheney-Bush administration convinced Congress, in 2005,  to EXEMPT fracking from the Safe Drinking Water Act . That’s right. If they want to frack your drinking water, there is nothing the EPA can do about it.  (Although recently the EPA did find a loophole that will enable them to have some control over the issue).

Which brings us to lawsuits. Citizens groups are suing all over the country to try to limit or end this very questionable practice. Why ? In some cases their water spigots emit methane instead of water. Fracking is loud and detrimental to property values. Their kids have gotten sick. An odd phenomenon recently has been increased earthquake activity near fracking sites. Hmmmm…Take something out the ground and it moves ? Who would have thought? Usually these citizens groups are overwhelmed by corporate legal teams and simply can’t afford the legal expenses. So, they give up.

But not in Texas. One wealthy area is fighting against fracking. It is destroying their multi-millon dollar estates. It threatens to disrupt their bucolic existence. It is loud. And the water towers associated with it are ugly.  They want it stopped. And they have the money to fight it out in court.

Which brings us full circle. You see, the $ 40,000,000 a year hard worker I was talking about lives in that area. He and his wife have a homestead and an 83 acre ranch. They don’t like the water towers. They don’t like the possibility of noise and disruption and escaping methane gas. And who is this wealthy guy ? In case you forgot.  The CEO of ExxonMobil, the biggest fracking company on earth.

The very same  CEO who has consistently defended fracking as safe, quiet and wholesome, when done next to YOUR house . When the methane leaks in YOUR neighborhood. When the property values plummet on YOUR street. For this CEO I have two words. Frack you.

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I Don’t Understand

What is the point of the latest Arizona state government attempt  to discriminate against homosexual Americans? Why are they taking the time and the energy to draft a bill for the sole purpose of stopping some of the citizens of their state from receiving services ? Hopefully Governor Brewer will veto this piece of nonsense. But even if she does, one has to wonder what these people are thinking .

While most of us are very tolerant of others there are a few people in power who seem intent on demonstrating hatred and bigotry. How do these folks get elected? Are the majority of citizens in Arizona so disturbed ? Is it something in the water ? A lack of education? Inbreeding? Is there a “bigotry” gene or is it learned behavior?

When a small group of people in leadership positions are so openly hateful it is no longer a local issue. It should be of concern to all of us. Other states have passed anti-homosexual laws already. This kind of sickness CAN spread. Like the swine flu. Or a plague. And for normal people this way of thinking and hating is difficult to understand.

The issue is not religious beliefs, as the sponsors would try to say. Like a used car dealer spray painting  over a rust bucket of an automobile, these “lawmakers” try to hide the corrosion of their bigotry under a fresh coat of paint. Freedom of religion. Nonsense.

Freedom of religion does not extend to taking ACTIONS against our neighbors. You are free to believe what you want, but you are not free to  act on those beliefs to the detriment of others. The Bible says you can beat your wife. The US government says you can’t. The attempt to cloak bigotry in the mantle of freedom of religion is both cynical and absurd.

When you decide to open a business you accept the fact that ALL citizens have the right to use that business. When you accept a job at a hospital or police force you understand that you are required to serve all the people. You benefit from the legal system and taxes paid by ALL citizens. You accept the rules of living in a democracy.

We are not a religious state. If you want to live under Shari’a Law there are plenty of Islamic possibilities. If you so hate homosexuals there are over 30 nations in Africa with anti-gay laws that will welcome you. And Comrade Putin has his arms open wide, waiting for your entrance into that glorious nation. You’ll love it there.

But in the USA? No. We don’t do that here. I would say that the Arizona legislators who thought this up and voted for it should be ashamed of themselves. But the act itself demonstrates they have no shame. So, it is up to the voters of Arizona. What kind of people are you, anyway? What kind of US citizen supports a law designed only to dehumanize others?

I don’t understand the bigotry. And  I hope I never do.

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Neocon Papers 5:Toxic Deregulation

West Virginia. North Carolina. Texas. Deregulation.

If there is anything close to a mantra for the neoconservatives it is the idea of “deregulation”.

The argument for deregulation goes something like this. The government, most especially the federal government, over regulates our lives. Not our lives,  really. It over regulates big business. And because the government over regulates big business that does a number of things. First, it drives big business into massive debt. Second, it depresses the economy because it reduces employment. Third, it makes the cost of doing business more expensive, thereby passing on the cost of goods and services to the consumer. So, if government would stop regulating business all three of those areas would be improved. More businesses. More jobs. More profits. Sounds logical.

Except. We have tried it. It failed. The philosophy attributed to Reagan,  called Reaganomics was an attempt to limit regulations so businesses could thrive.  That philosophy has been the mainstay of Republican “thinking” and to a great extent has been embraced by many Dems as well. Since the 1980s we have seen the federal government loosen rules on lumbering, mining, oil drilling and gas drilling. We have seen the EPA gutted and reduced to a weak organization unable to enforce the laws. The same EPA created by Richard Nixon and the GOP in the knowledge that unfettered business has made a cesspool of much of America.

But big business pushed  back. And won. And as the GOP took state houses they have consistently sought to turn back or ignore reasonable environmental safeguards. Those in favor of safeguarding the air and water were labeled as “tree huggers” and “eco-terrorists” or “communists” who opposed “free enterprise”. Job killers. Of course, the near depression of 2007-2009 demonstrated that Reaganonomics was a colossal failure. Where is that booming,  deregulated economy we we promised?

So, today we can see just a few of the results of that GOP success. Texas. A deregulator’s dream state. Fracking goes on unregulated (except by a weak state agency). People in parts of Texas are exposed not only to water pollution but air pollution as massive quantities of methane emerge from the ground. Studies show methane contamination in Weatherford , Texas. No one knows the long term effects of this so the Texas response has been to do nothing to protect the citizens. And the EPA has had the same response. We’ll have to wait and see. But keep fracking. Deregualtion.

In West Virginia this year we saw the pollution of the largest city’s water supply (Charleston). An uninspected tank leaked toxic materials into the river. Then, in a display of incompetence that rivaled the Keystone Kops we had the governor telling folks to drink the water. Others in the department of health saying don’t drink the water. The company (Freedom Industries) admitting, after about a week, that SECOND toxic chemical had been emitted. The government of West Virginia telling folks finally. …(Well, it’s your call. Drink the water or don’t…unless your pregnant…then you shouldn’t…..) Schools closed , then reopened because tests showed the water was safe. Then closed again because these chemicals showed up  again.  Deregulation.

Another GOP state. North Carolina. This story keeps getting better and better. When Duke Energy (company with close ties to the governor) was sued by consumer groups for  dumping COAL ASH in rivers the state stepped in and took over the lawsuit. It then guaranteed that Duke Energy could not be sued by any public entity, only the state. But…but…but…What about the EPA? Evidently the EPA rules allow STATES to determine the validity of lawsuits and remove the original litigants. That’s right. The GOP “deregulators” will determine how to enforce the EPA rules. The fact that the new governor worked for Duke Energy for over 20 years and has at least $10,000 worth of stock (that is the maximum he is required to report) had nothing to do with the decision. So, Duke Energy can dump coal ash into the water supply. Pay a small fine. (But they “promised” to clean up the mess. They “promised”) And  continue to do business. Deregulation.

It is no  accident that these are GOP lead states. Business can be  good if you can dump your waste into the public water ways. Or pollute the air. And pay no meaningful fines. Good for business. Creates jobs. No downside.

Of course someone will have to pay. Pay for the massive coal sludge clean ups of North Carolina’s waterways. Pay for the clean up of the river continuing to flow into the Charleston water supply. Possibly even install new water pipes. And pay the medical costs in the future for damaged children and adults in Texas,  North Carolina and West Virginia. Because these are real disasters. Man made. Someone will be shelling out billions of dollars over the next 20 years for these and countless other disasters. It won’t be “Freedom Industries”. It won’t be” Duke Energy”. It won’t be the natural gas industry in Texas.  It won’t be the “deregulators”. Can you guess who ?

The neocon mantra continues: Deregulation. Deregulation. Deregulation. Let the next generation pay for it.

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The Most Holy Church of the Republican Party

What has happened to the Republican Party, affectionately known as the GOP (Grand Old Party)? Is it even a political party, any more, or a religion?

A political  party usually has a set of policy goals, or ideals, it wishes to achieve. Maybe lowering taxes, improving the environment, going to war (or more rarely, going to peace), providing jobs, etc. These policies attract voters. Or repel them. But in any case, the goal of a political party is to get something done.

Through out our history politicians have known that they cannot achieve everything they aspire to. Doesn’t stop them from aspiring, but it leads them to the common sense notion of “compromise”. The idea that my group cannot get our way all the time because there are other groups that think differently. Other groups that want other things. Other groups that have other ideas. Good politicians, at the national and international level, have always sought to find some reasonable common ground. They can do that because party principles are just that. Ideals. Goals. Hopes for what the future will look like.

Religions are quite different. Religious leaders have a direct pipeline to the will of god. Be it Jesus. Or Buddha. Or Allah. Or Jehovah.  The list of gods is endless. Because they have the actual word of god there can be no compromise. Religious tenets are not ideals or goals…they are inflexible laws. Written in stone. Commandments. So religions, by their very nature, cannot accept the idea of compromise. How can you compromise with the will of god?

So the GOP problem. In the 1970s and 1980s the GOP made a conscious effort to attract religious leaders into the party apparatus. Not just as individual citizens who may have similar beliefs,  but as organizations sanctioned by the will of god. We see the slow development of a political party into a religious organization. And once you invite your unemployed uncle in for a weekend it is sometimes very difficult to throw him out. That is the problem the GOP faces today. They did bring the problem in themselves, but it is now a problem for all reasonable folks.

The Tea Party wing of the GOP is, in effect, a religious organization. More accurately called the “Tea Religion”. And the god to which they bow is the sacred cow of cash. And the sacred mantra  they chant is the mantra of “No Taxes”. Not as a tactic or a point of debate. Not as an idea to be discussed, thought about, considered and acted on. No. That is what a political party would do. The mantra is sacred. It cannot be discussed. Deviation from the religious doctrine is heresy.

We have seen this over and over as solid, old fashioned fiscal conservatives are challenged within the GOP primaries by younger religious ideologues. There can be no deviation from the doctrine. There is no room to compromise or even discuss the issue. You are either 100% in favor of the religion or you are a heretic. No compromise. No middle ground. And we know what happens to heretics.

We have always had minor political parties to the far right and far left. The Know Nothings, the Green Party, the Liberal Party, the Bull Moose and the Libertarians come to mind. But those organizations act like political parties, not religions. The Tea Religion is different. Not in that it has a narrow ideology, but in its power within the GOP. So the GOP will need to decide.

Will the GOP turn out the Tea Religion and return to a more traditional path? Will it split into two groups, the religious ideologues and the pragmatic conservatives? Or will the conservatives give up and allow the ideologues to take over, maybe dropping out and becoming independents?

Time will tell. But I suspect that the Tea Religion will not go away. We have always had their ilk in our midst. But I also suspect that they will continue to be marginalized. Most Americans do not want religious fundamentalists, even those whose god is “Cash”, to control our society. They understand that compromise is the only way to govern effectively.

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