Remember that old "Star Trek" episode about the planet about to be burnt to toast by its dying sun? Our lads hustle thence to save the population, only to find that all have already saved themselves by going back in time to a place of their choosing. (All save one.)
Suppose that were your option today. Where would you go, what and who would you take with you, and how would you prepare? Why there and then?
It's an interesting proposition, isn't it?
At the metaphoric level, it makes me think of survivalists. At the level of imagination, it fascinates me. My first thought is Knossos, Crete, in its prime (of course). After all, they had flush toilets.
Friday, April 6, 2012
Remember that old "Star Trek" episode about the planet about to be burnt to toast by its dying sun? Our lads hustle thence to save the population, only to find that all have already saved themselves by going back in time to a place of their choosing. (All save one.)
Laff of the day Texts from Hillary . . . .
Labels: Hillary Clinton
Thursday, April 5, 2012
Denying your constitutional right to a trial by jury. (Check your credit card or Internet contract for the "arbitration only" clause where you waive your right to trial by INDEPENDENT JURORS IN THE FULL LIGHT OF DAY and agree to a binding deal by your corporation's favorite arbiter in a private backroom settlement. Guess who benefits. That would be NOT YOU.
Packing your courts. See the Oliver Diaz story about Rove/Bush's campaign to remove honest judges from the federal bench and replace them with bought boys and girls.
Intimidating honest judges with false and expensive indictments. See the Oliver Diaz story, and look into all the ways the Republicans are stacking the courts and intimidating honest judges.
Rescinding your right to fair compensation for damages. The fact is that in TX and other states where "tort reform" has been imposed, legal costs and medical insurance costs have escalated. The truth is that there is no widespread, epidemic of frivolous lawsuits and out-of-control damages, but rather that "tort reform" is just another astro-turf campaign to roll back basic, and sacred, constitutional safeguards. Corporations cannot fairly judge, nor can legislators, what you should receive if a doctor's negligence renders your child helpless for life. Only a jury of your peers can make that call. Tort "reform" removes that jury, replacing it with arbitration, and limits damages, replacing them with arbitrary and minimal caps regardless of the real-world costs to you. Who wins? Big insurance and big corporations. Who's screwed? American citizens.
What did George Carlin say? Something like, "The only freedom we have left is whether to choose paper or plastic."
It's getting there. I'm making a list.
Just yesterday, kids at a California university were pepper-sprayed for protesting tuition hikes. Hell, they can't even protest, let along take over the administration building! That's how much has changed since the early '70s. The mere thought of publicly speaking out gets you a face full of pepper spray.
And don't think for a minute it can't get worse than that. Have you followed the Occupy Movement lately? That whishing sound you hear is your First Amendment rights flushing down the toilet. Do you care? I do.
Watched a documentary last night called "Hot Coffee." Remember the famous McDonald's lawsuit? Yeah, it's about that (and more). You think you know what happened. But watch the documentary--because, well, you don't.
So it's about tort reform -- more accurately, tort deform -- how corporate advertising tilts the political climate to the far Right, against the people's own best interests. In this case, the myth of overzealous lawsuits and exhorbitant jury damages awards is used successfully to remove yet another constitutional protection: the right to a jury's determination of proper compensatory damages when doctors, corporations, and others screw or injure us. In this case, the truth of the McDonald's suit was buried in a blizzard of misinformation, and used to persuade us to undo our own constitutional rights. Seems we'll believe any crap we're told if it makes someone appear to be "getting over" at our expense. Like we believe the McDonald's suit was frivolous--until we learn the truth of it.
That's not all. It's also about court packing, the second way Karl Rove and George W. Bush moved America closer to fascism, intentionally, deliberately, and dishonestly. With the help of that parliament of whores called the US Chamber of Commerce (the largest corporate lobbyist in the USA), corporate America wages war on honest federal judges to replace them with bought boys and girls who'll rule against the people in cases of criminal or even tort suits. This they do by side-stepping limits on direct campaign contributions to judges' re-election campaigns and using both donations aggregated by the "independent" Chamber, and (when that fails) specious criminal investigations of any judges who survive their election shenanigans. See Oliver Diaz for a case in point.
There's more. See "Hot Coffee" on HBO "on demand." It's worth your freedom.
Nothing like a year's vacation to make you miss blogging.
Hope you missed me! I missed you!
In that time, I've solidified the first-ever nonprofit, statewide Doberman Pinscher rescue in Arizona, which I founded from thin air in January 2009. Now, today, it is strong, vibrant, and able to blossom under the transition to a new Executive Director, which frees me to get back to writing and to polymer clay art making. More about that later.
Stay tuned. The dissolution of our constitutional democracy to a bona fide fascist pluto-oligarchy should give us all plenty to talk about. And if that fails, there's always this crop of Republican whores running for President, right? What else? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what else you'd like to chew on and who else I should add to my Pico's Wee-Wee List!
Labels: American fascism
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Long time, no talkee.
Sorry. I've been rescuing Dobermans and working to improve as a artist in polymer clay. If anyone wants to see my work, I can post an image or two, but that's another world, really.
So much of note I've ignored here, or missed. Maybe others can do it, but I can't stay fixated on, mired day in and day out in, politics. If I try, I lose perspective. And yet, of course, I can't be unaware, any more than I can unsee a brutal car accident I've just driven past. The thing is, though, there's no driving past, or out of, one's historical time and place. I merely avert my eyes for a moment, aware of the obscenity of privilege.
So the Republicans in Wisconsin have offered us a moment of particular import tonight. In one fell swoop, they've stripped the public sector of the right to pursue collective bargaining, and said outright that the purpose is to try to de-fund the Wisconsin Democratic Party and thus weaken the Obama campaign in 2012.
If I've got this right, Republicans -- not just in Wisconsin -- are actively creating a one-party state (nation) and a disarmed middle and working class. I believe this is called fascism.
I'm reminded of Martin Niemoller's famous confession.
Do we need an engraved announcement?
Monday, September 6, 2010
Christopher Hitchens can be infuriating, wrong, and disgusting. And he can be brilliant Welcome to the upper echelons of humanity.
Here, find brilliance. Find one tough-minded enough to slog through the gelatin that so often passes for liberal thought and persevere all the way to progressive insight. Here find one who is willing enough to stand for what he believes to risk being infuriating, wrong, and disgusting. Would that we all were.
A recent blizzard of liberal columns has framed the debate over American Islam as if it were no more than the most recent stage in the glorious history of our religious tolerance. This phrasing of the question has the (presumably intentional) effect of marginalizing doubts and of lumping any doubters with the anti-Catholic Know-Nothings, the anti-Semites, and other bigots and shellbacks. So I pause to take part in a thought experiment, and to ask myself: Am I in favor of the untrammeled "free exercise of religion"?
No, I am not. . . .
The taming and domestication of religion is one of the unceasing chores of civilization. Those who pretend that we can skip this stage in the present case are deluding themselves and asking for trouble not just in the future but in the immediate present.
Let humble me merely pick up where he left off.
The Constitution and Bill of Rights are meant to address perennial problems: the rights of the individual versus the rights of the community; the roles and powers of the state versus the liberties and authorities of the people; the power of religion versus the power of the state; the meaning of liberty; the point of organized civil authority, and so on.
Hitchens here does a great service by pointing out that the courts have never granted American citizens an unrestricted right to exercise religion however we see fit, and by contextualizing the forthcoming decisions about Islam on our continenent in this way.
However, I stipulate that an even greater threat to our Constitution and Bill of Rights than Islam is extreme, fundamentalist Christianism. I have written a good deal about this. I will write more shortly. In the meantime, pay attention to the storms of religious fervor being gathered during this election season. PS: It's not about GLBT. It's about control of the government. Get it?
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Sure, Mehlman deserves our understanding. And I think we understand him very well.
Ken Mehlman, former chair of the Republican National Committee, wasn't averse to screwing gay men and lesbians when he was making a (big) buck doing so.
He chaired the RNC under George W. Bush, and raised the funds that enabled Bush and Rove to pump toxic waste on the nation about what it means to be homosexual, and enabled numerous Republicans to be elected to office nationwide, and install dozens of anti-gay constitutional amendments. Mehlman was chief rainmaker for the Party of Hate, the party that drags out gays or immigrants or Muslims at election time, stokes the worst fears of the most insecure Americans, and makes second-class citizens of gay folk.
Today he says that he wasn't at a place then where he could come out. I admit, the irony makes me smile. I'm told that he means he hadn't come to terms with, or entirely recognized, or fully understood his homosexuality then. I bet he understood it enough to get laid, though. I bet there wasnt the first glimmer of a doubt in his mind, then. And that's where the rubber meets the road.
Mehlman got it prety well when it suited his personal agenda. He didn't get it at all when it suited yours and mine.
There's no honor in coming out now. He missed the honor barge when he chose to defame us and harm us publicly while languishing privately in the arms of his gay lovers.
Honor is having the guts to reconcile your inside with your outside even when it's not really all that profitable, or safe, or convenient for you. I don't think Ken Mehlman knows much about that. And I'm betting his priorities will remain what they've always been: Ken, Ken, and Ken.
If he turns out to be as brilliant a civil rights activist for us as he was our tormenter, maybe one day I can swallow hard and congratulate him. That won't happen as long as he remains a Republican, and I'm not expecting him to take up our cause now. I just don't think he'll be bothered to put down his cocktail long enough to do anything useful.
Besides, wouldn't it have been a lot easier to have come out then, or at least resigned, than to actively build the wall of bias he'll now face with the rest of us?
Better late than never? I don't know. I guess it depends.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
I''ve listened to the yammering on CNN tonight following BP's announcement that the "Top Kill" method of sealing the oil geyser in the Gulf of Mexico has failed. I really don't think anyone up the food chain has the foggiest idea of the depth of rage that's simmering in the hearts of sentient Americans about this cataclysm.
If the stone in my heart is any indication, we are cold with rage.
That this happened anywhere, ever.
That deep-sea drilling was ever undertaken in the absense of redundant safeguards and rapid, effective fixes.
That our government issued permits on the word of multinational corporations.
That our Congress and our Presidents, past and current, have more allegiance to Big Oil than to the land, the sea, the wildlife, the people, and our economy.
That our coastlines are not sacred ground.
That our coastlines are not protected as if they are critical to national security.
That nearly six weeks have passed without perceptible efforts to protect the wetlands and the coastline.
That there have not been fleets of tankers out there sucking up this muck for nearly six weeks.
That our Navy, Coast Guard, and National Guard are not deployed en force from the Keys to the Chandeleurs, protecting and cleaning up this toxic waste.
That, incomprehensibly, our Congress in its wisdom enacted LIABILITY LIMITS to protect Big Oil!
That BP is more concerned with its stock price than with fixing this.
That our President hasn't had the wit, apparently, to triage, assigning stopping the geyser to BP; cleanup to US and state goverments; and environmental assessments to qualified scientists.
That BP can prohibit anybody from our beaches and seas.
That our media really couldn't be bothered to cover this until five weeks into the catastrophe.
I can't read the future, but I have the worst feeling about this. I want to wipe the smug faces of every oilman on the planet, and every member of our "oversight" agencies, and our Congress, in the gunk of this cataclysm.
I want everyone to remember that Cheney let the oil industry write our energy policy and staff our supervisory and oversight authorities.
I want to nationalize the fortunes of the Bushes and the Cheneys and the Carlyle Group, and I want to nationalize BP -- all of it -- and use these resources to fund safe alternatives and o restore the Gulf to wholeness.
I want these people to hang by the neck until they are dead. Some things I can forgive, but this? It's not forgiveable, and if it were, it's not the place of this generation to presume to forgive it.
Not one more well. Not now. Not ever.
Friday, May 7, 2010
Dear Senator Kyl and Senator McCain:
Please explain to me why the United States Congress, under both parties, has refused to protect our nation's coastline aggressively, and to treat our coastline, wildlife, habitat, marshes, sea food, related industries, coastal economies, and seas as critical to national security.
Please explain to me why the United States Congress, under both parties, limits the liability of corporations involved in the despoilation of our land, sea, and air to any arbitrary sum, and why such corporations should not be liable for the full extent of costs associated with restoring our land, sea, and air to their pre-catastrophe condition.
Finally, having failed in these most fundamental responsibilities, please explain why should you not be impeached and imprisoned.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
What government wouldn't do everything in its power to protect its coastlines?
Sunday, May 2, 2010
I'm not a petroleum engineer, a geologist, a climatologist, or an economist, so take this for what it's worth.
This isn't a "spill." Spills are finite. This is a geyser of oil flowing at 5,000 barrels a day. It is already larger than the country of Jamaica. It isn't capped and the latest predictions are that capping it may take months.
The Gulf is in a box canyon formed by Florida, the southern central border of the US, and Mexico and Central America. Maybe some of the oil can dissipate out to sea, but most of it will come ashore. As it accumulates, it will affect not only the environment but also fisheries, canneries, and the entire Gulf seafood industry, tourism, land values, commercial shipping, and exports and imports dependent on every Gulf port, and everything else in a giant swath from the Yucutan to the Keys.
This, in turn, is bound to affect the stock market and the GDP. I don't pretend to know how it all works, but I'm thinking that whatever perils we faced as a nation before this catastrophe are about to be dwarfed unless this oil can be contained and sucked back up again. I'm thinking that we have no idea what the repercussions will be or how far out and up and down the food chain they will extend. I'm thinking that our national security, our retirement investments, and the daily cost of living all will be adversely affected. We just don't know by how much, or for how long, or whether these losses can ever be recaptured.
Call me Cassandra, I don't mind. But meanwhile, start thinking about how to protect your job and your savings. I don't see this ending well.
Will this latest corporate nuclear attack get Americans off our fat asses and into the streets? Who knows. But it seems to me we have a lot to protest, starting with the arrogance and indifference of BP, the probable incompetence of Halliburton, the indifference and complicity of several Congresses unwilling to regulate business even for the sake of national welfare, and other villains not as yet known.
I don't know where we go from here. My heart and prayers are with the Gulf and its people. God knows, they've had more than anybody ought to have to deal with. Can we put our military to good use, for a change? Can our businesses put profit in perspective, now, and devote as much energy to sustaining the commonwealth as to increasing their bottom lines? Will people get it that oil ain't the way, that offshore drilling embodies unacceptable risk, that once the ocean life and the fragile marshland ecosystems are gone, they're GONE?
Will anything change?
Thursday, April 29, 2010
There’s only one way an American can repay the debt for our Constitution and Bill of Rights—among the world’s greatest guarantees of dignity, liberty, and equality—and that’s to pay it forward. When we fail to do that, when we deliberately jettison somebody else’s rights and dignity, we spit in the face of God.
SB 1070, the harsh new “Papers Please” law that Arizona’s GOP government just enacted, requires Arizona police to demand the papers of anyone they “reasonably suspect” is in the country illegally. It also says that any person can sue the authorities if they don’t do just that.
Ironically, SB 1070 does nothing to stop illegal border crossing. Nor is it actually aimed at “illegal immigration” generically. It isn’t aimed at Canadians or Europeans or Icelanders or Polynesians. In Arizona, illegal immigration is a south of the border thing, meaning that this law’s effective impact is exclusively directed at Latinos, Mestizos, and Hispanics.
Unlike a border control station, SB 1070 just doesn’t treat all people equally. Blue eyed, fair skinned “illegals” have no worries. The chances they’ll be carded are zero. That makes this law unconstitutional.
Effective impact means how this law will operate in real life, so let’s get honest. There’s no way to tell by looking who’s here illegally. Given this new mandate and our proximity to Mexico, that’s going to pose a big problem for our police, because here in Arizona, 10% of the population is Native American, and 30% of the population is Latino, Mestizo, or Hispanic.
Of that combined 40%, hundreds of thousands of Arizona residents belong to families who have inhabited this land long before any Anglo ever did, which should make the prospect of carding any one of them cause repeated reflexive vomiting. And then there’s our indigenous American population. Thousands and thousands of them are in fact physically indistinguishable from a Mestizo or an indigenous Mexican, Honduran, Guatemalan, or Ecuadorian, and all of them are in fact citizens of the 21 other sovereign nations in Arizona that we call tribes.
Because this law requires our police to detain anyone they merely suspect might be here illegally; and because it targets Latinos, Mestizos, Hispanics, and Native Americans exclusively, it combines everyone in these groups—US citizens, tribe members, legal residents, illegal residents alike—into one giant suspect class based on nothing but racial characteristics such as skin and eye color, facial structure, and body type.
In other words, unless our governor in her vast wisdom produces other criteria for identifying a suspected illegal immigrant, it seems inescapable that SB 1070 will force Arizona's jurisdictions to engage in illegal racial profiling—there being no alternative—or be sued. That’s called legitimized race discrimination.
So, thanks to SB 1070, now all Arizona residents whose skin or eye color, facial structure, or body type may provide “reasonable suspicion” of illegal residency must now carry papers in case they are stopped--on mere suspicion and without warrant. My citizen friend Antonio, who looks like a Mayan prince, could be detained when he walks his dog. My citizen friend Roberto, a former Senate chief of staff, could also be detained, as could any Hispanic, Latino, Mestizo, or indigenous US soldier. As could their families. As could physicians, and educators, and hard-working roofers, construction guys, gardeners, nannies, chefs, inventors, investors, citrus pickers, miners, architects, waiters, and artists, all because the police can’t tell by looking and our GOP government doesn’t really give a good goddamn about the US Constitution and Bill of Rights.
This makes me almost indescribably angry. But it gets worse.
Added to the powers to arrest, detain, and deport without warrant, giving police the power to demand proof of citizenship on the basis of mere suspicion and without warrant is as fundamental to the police state as a network of secret prisons. In fact, it is the ground-level, on-the-street hypodermic syringe that every single one of them must have in order to inject into their people the pervasive terror that keeps them in power. Get it?
What you get when you add race discrimination to police state powers is called Apartheid. It is no less Apartheid in Phoenix than it was in Johannesburg. It is no less ugly, no less an affront to human decency, and no less a threat to the entire citizenry here in the US of A than it was in South Africa, because once this kind of thing is permitted to take root, it will only grow.
For this (I would think obvious) reason, our brilliant Constitution limits police powers, reserves border control to the federal government, protects us from unreasonable search and seizure, and prohibits indefinite detention without specific cause and due process. We undermine and debase those protections at everyone’s peril, because the generation that will sells its country’s freedoms at any price is also least equipped to buy them back again.
The bottom line here is that, as history repeatedly affirms, if given enough popular fear and outrage, lawmakers everywhere can and will justify anything, no matter how heinous or obscene. In my view, that simple truth puts the participation of Tom Tanton’s Immigration Reform Law Institute in writing SB 1070 into what I hope is horrifying focus. Please: Follow that link.
A lawyer for the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI)--the group that helped write Arizona's law--boasted about being "approached by lawmakers from four other states who have asked for advice on how they can do the same thing. IRLI is the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Immigration Reform (FAIR), an extreme anti-immigrant group that has recently been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. 'In a nutshell, the IRLI has been behind most, if not every, local legislative immigration crackdown over the past few years. . . .'[The Progress Report, April 29, 2010] Please: Follow that link, too.
In other words, entities that the very estimable Southern Poverty Law Center calls “hate groups,” entities that, with the help of Fox News and Lou Dobbs and Glen Beck and Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh other loud-mouthed Far Right propagandists, have been spewing virulent lies for years about the extent and consequences of illegal Hispanic, Latino, Mestizo, and indigenous immigration are now drafting Arizona state law.
If that doesn't frighten you and make you hopping mad, either you’re not breathing or you’re stupider than a can of sand, and you sure as hell aren’t an American patriot.
I'm scared and I'm furious. I’m also frightened and sickened by the enormous erosion in the last 30 years of Americans’ common understanding of ourselves as a people and of what we stand for as a nation. More and more of us—mostly good people, many well educated—are entirely ready to jettison somebody else’s constitutional protections in less time than it takes to strike a match, and then have a party to brag about it.
We’ve already seen Americans lie down and take it as GOP lawmakers happily cut out some of our constitutional right of privacy and some of our habeas corpus protection in the wake of 9-11. We’ve also mostly kept our mouths shut as state after state has made a lower caste of gays and lesbians. And now the Arizona GOP, unwilling to name, much less target, the real causes of illegal immigration, drug smuggling, and human trafficking, has made itself a racist police state the likes of which the USA hasn’t seen since Jim Crow.
Horribly, mystifyingly, no body of fact, no argument however elegant, no appeal to reason or Christ or common decency--no force in the known universe can make these people see that it actually isn’t white skin, flag waving, Bible thumping, and prayer in public schools that makes a person an American.
What makes us real Americans is standing up to fascism whenever, wherever, and however it arrives. It doesn’t make a bit of difference whether fascism gets here on the tip of a missile, carrying a cross and draped in the flag, or on the pen of a fundamentalist, white supremacist lawmaker, because once we let it in the door, it’s hell to get it out again. As we know.
From its predictable and profound negative economic, tourist, and international repercussions, to the human fodder this law throws to Arizona’s obscene for-profit prisons, to the hoped-for decimation of Hispanic votes in November, to the legislature’s usurpation of exclusively federal powers to regulate immigration, this law is a travesty.
But note well: This isn’t Arizona’s first modern venture into Apartheid.
In recent years, anyway, the first was Arizona’s segregation of GLBT people into a second class for which marriage and its enormous social and economic benefits are simply not accessible.
So it’s natural, now that we have yet another instance when an Arizona Republican government has intentionally created a lower-caste citizenry, that sentient beings might wonder what the third, fourth, and fifth instances will be. I’m deadly serious. These Christianist, Far Right extremists have a rather developed taste for limiting other people’s freedoms. As they’ve got Tom Tanton and Fox News to give them political cover, and an unusually high number of really whipped-up bone-stupid voters, and don’t hold themselves even the teensiest bit accountable to the Constitution and Bill of Rights, what’s to stop them?
People will always find reasons, but both the truth of history and the founding of our own country surely shout that nothing ever justifies spitting on the principles that make us uniquely American and for which many generations of our families and neighbors—yes, even “anchor babies,” “coloreds,” “Indians,” and “queers”—have died.
As pundit Michael Gerson put it in yesterday's Washington Post, the only truly American answer to “May I see your papers, please?” is “Go to hell! I’ll see you in court.”
Soon as that's past our lips we'd best deal quickly with the REAL causes of illegal immigration, starting with multinationals' pillaging of the nations south of the border, the American agribusiness, meatpacking, construction, and entertainment business demand for cheap (and even slave) labor, and shoe-shined Wall Street coke dealers.
Monday, April 26, 2010
Do you have any idea how embarrassing it was to be in Europe when Gov. Jan Brewer signed this monstrous new anti-brown-people immigration bill? To have to admit that I live in this place?
We just got home a few hours ago. I need time to read the measure and the commentary, and then I will post about how it feels to live in Johannesburg, Arizona, USA.
Friday, February 12, 2010
This week's 9-11 lie from George W.'s former speech writer Marc Thiessen is just the latest case. For close to eight full decades, the Right has steadily poured a deathly poison into Americans' eyes and ears. The result is that today we're sickened almost to the killing point.
There's a word for this. It's treachery. That's what a lie is, and take note: Treachery stems from the same root as treason. It means--please take these synonyms slowly, mull them over one by one--betrayal of trust, faith, or allegiance; perfidy, disloyalty, and treason.
Propaganda--let's be frank--lying in politics--is nothing new. What is new is today's lethality, systemization, ubiquity, and respectability. They aren't playing for partisan gain. They're playing for keeps.
And what is new is the credulity, ignorance, and apathy of the American public. Face it. We're a lot less educated and a lot more easily stampeded now than we once were. One such malady would be bad enough, but afflicted with all three? Baby, we just don't stand a chance.
For malicious lethality, I give you "baby killers," "the homosexual agenda," the hyped-up hoardes of "criminal, leprous immigrants," the "death panels." In fact, I give you the far Right's vicious Balkanization of all the American people into just so many expendable parts.
Journalist and blogger David Neiwert has aptly named this phenom "eliminationism." Unarguably, its inevitable consequences are the murders of Dr. Tiller, Matthew Shepard, Stephen T. Johns and thousands of nameless GLBT people, African Americans, immigrants, and desperate poor whose assassinations didn't make the national headlines. Not to mention the chance for millions of uninsured Americans to see a doctor, get a prescription, or have a life-saving surgery. Or prosecution of the Robber Barons of Wall Street. Or indictment of the last Administration for war crimes and theft on a galactic scale.
For systemization and ubiquity, I give you hidden corporate funding and uber-wealthy patrons. I give you Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, the Trinity Broadcasting Network, Clear Channel, and the rest of talk radio, all full- or part-time propaganda arms of the Republican Party, all heirs of the John Birch Society, the Ku Klux Klan, and HUAC.
Add to far Right media the thousands of ultra-conservative nonprofits deputized (and given tax breaks) to incite us to lethal rage by telling lie after lie after lie. Citizens United, for instance. Focus on the Family. Eagle Forum. The 700 Club, and the numerous (tax-exempt) national curriculum coordinators for far Right, Christianist, activist home schooling. Front groups like The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition.
It's not just the far Right media impact or its voter recruitment, registration, and "education" consequences. It's also taxpayer subsidized direct mail avalanches of lies, distortions, and invective unleashed deliberatly for decades to whip up the base (and steal its money).
To these, add the astroturf websites and organizations, the tweets, and even the bumper stickers. Then from the total, subtract competing organizations as media consolidation, deregulation, and the Second Great Depression purge the airwaves and the presses of counterpoint, of fact.
Critical to understanding all this is grasping that there are thousands of heavily funded far Right organizations. If the far Right was once a "fringe," today it is pretty much the center of our culture. Its devotees occupy every sector of government, church, and culture, and just recently occupied even the White House.
Most of these organizations have innocuous or even positive names designed to confer credibility and respectability on ideas that nauseate and repel people of integrity. Americans for Truth, for instance, all about the "homosexual agenda." And FAIR, which the Southern Poverty Law Center long ago unmasked as one of at least ten manufactured virulent propaganda tools created by veteran racist Tom Tanton.
Such groups exist specifically to flood the media, to bury the gullible millions in "talking points" intended to whip up moral outrage, pit the well-off against the desperate, spur voter backlash and ultra-right lawmaking, and meanwhile to distract us all from the orchestrated Republican hosing of the American middle class.
This isn't made up. It's real. You know it to be true if you drew breath at all in the last 10 years.
Daily Media Matters e-alerts attempt to correct the rain of lies, but its circulation pales by contract to Rupert Murdock's reach.
For respectability, I give you United States senators, judges, sherrifs, Members of Congress, state legislators and governors, bishops, clergymen, physicians, heads and staffs of federal departments and agencies, professors, teachers, high school principals, librarians, and pharmacists.
It gets worse. The states are bristling with armed militias and so-called "patriot groups" poised to slaughter anyone they perceive as "not us." It will take only a spark. To provide it, talk show hosts incite murder every day. Murder, rebellion, whatever it takes.
Even so, and fully aware of what's at stake, "respectable" pundits and news anchors let the lies pass. Those who don't actually amplify the treasonous far Right Jihad on America (e.g., Lou Dobbs) either don't bother to get the facts themselves or are silent, baldly complict (e.g., Wolf Blitzer, Andrea Mitchell). Their jobs depend on their playing ball. After all, their corporate masters are heavily invested in a fascist America, because corporatism is a main tenet of fascism.
For eighty years or more, the American people have been systematically goaded by ever more concentrated poisoned prods into a brimming rage--over largely invented actions, omissions, and words attributed to this pro-Constitution, egalitarian Democratic President or that Democratic Justice or just to Lib'ruls in general.
But somehow, nobody's talking about how the heat is mostly over made-up, imaginary affronts to imaginary values (family values), imaginary traditions (the, um, unconstitutional "Judeo-Christian" nation), imaginary heroes (Ronald Reagan,fiscal conservative. George W. Bush, fighter pilot).
The War on Christmas? The "illegal takeover"? "Welfare Cadillacs"? The "Myth" of Global Warming? Liberals Appease the Enemy? See Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, and before them, see Paul Harvey, Joe McCarthy, and that high-toned FDR assassination cabal.
If you want to know what's wrong with America, or why the two parties can't cooperate, start right there.
The Left may not be spotless, but there's NO comparison, either quantitatively or qualitatively, between the Left and Right when it comes to corrupting the American cerebellum. In fact, one of the magic carpets under which this all hides is the lie of equivalence: "They all do it." Well, no. Doubt it? Go on: Name one Left counterpart action, organization, or person for every indictment in this rant. You can't. There is no counterpart to Fox. No counterpart to Limbaugh, or Lou Dobbs, or Pat Robertson.. Sen. Coburn. Sen. Santorum. Alan Keyes. None. Nada.
Again, there's a word for this.
This poison--certainly known in advance to be toxic waste--is both source and foundation of the unprecedented paralysis in Washington, DC that already threatens our capacity as a nation to respond to huge and growing national security, fiscal, environmental, and infrastructural threats.
The same polluted swill is also both source and foundation of the "Birthers," the Tea Partiers, the milititant Christianists, the Sarah Palin groupies, the wanna-be Joe the Plumbers (another hoax). This is the amniotic cesspool in which the whole dim-witted, fact-phobic, fear-drunk, anti-poor, anti-immigrant, anti-woman, anti-pigment, anti-sex, anti-environment, anti-gay, anti-labor, anti-humanist, anti-Constitution American Right has been steeped for 80 years.
Why's nobody talking about how all this is mostly over made-up stuff?
It would be funny except that America held such sacred promise.
It would be funny except that my dad lost his eye defending that promise.
It would be funny except that millions of people have already died, and millions more will follow, because those who perpetrate these hoaxes are who profit most. profits of perpetual war and the swindles of Wall Street. I give you Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, the Neo-Cons all, and Paulson and Greenspan and Rice and pharma lobbyists and Dobbs-Limbaugh lapdogs.
For sure, the redneck hard-hats and the truck drivers who make up their conservative base won't profit. They're every bit as expendable as you or me: Remember W's repeal of the Davis-Bacon Act for Gulf Coast states right after Katrina? Remember what you learned from The Shock Doctrine? Remember for-profit, paid-per-capita prisons stuffed to the rafters through hard-Right propaganda and the not-coincidental suddenly intense war on Mexican immigrants? Remember "privatization," the plan that replaces public control of our infrastructure, water, utilities, hospitals, highways, and energy, and replaces them with with private ownership of water, utilities, the military, energy, hospitals, etc. Can you say ENRON? HCA? Blackwater/Xe? Hello?
So it turns out that the garbage we've been forcefed all these years isn't just false. It's also a boondoggle. Turns out that all this Rightwing raving isn't about (the bogus) "homosexual agenda" or the (made-up) illegal takeover, or the "emasculation" of the 'Merkun male at all.
It's about corporatism and privatization. It's about perpetual war for perpetual profit, and a "free market" stripped of regulation and stripped down for plunder. I give you Halliburton, KBR, Xe, Pepsico, Monsanto, the Carlyle Group, and the Wall Street con men. Even our far Right state legislatures, like Arizona's, and avowed racist lawmakers like Russell Pearce are penny-ante demagogues, pawns in a way bigger chess match and too stupid to know it.
There's a word for this. It's called treason. Yet the Legislative and Executive branches are either immobilized or co-conspirators, and our highest Court--that tool of the Right responsible for empowering W and Dick and legitimizing their Reign of Plunder--just took it over the top. When the US Supreme Court ruled recently that restricting corporate funding of political candidates is unconstitutional, they unleashed a corporatist muck tsunami that very well may choke us all to death.
For 30 pieces of silver, a platform, and a megaphone, men and women like Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia, John Roberts, Sarah Palin, John McCain, Jon Kyl, Mitch McConnell, Rush Limbaugh, John Boehner, Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Michelle Malkin, Tom Tancredo, Karl Rove, and a host of lesser infidels have sold their mortal souls.
They've sold ours, too, and any hope our children ever had for the American Dream.
There's a word for this. It's treason.
If you secretly want to know what a far-Right Republican regime looks like, visit Arizona.
From my favorite AZ blogger about a pending AZ House bill: "HB 2650 would increase the waiting time for a divorce by 4 months, to give couples a chance to reconcile their differences."
Like they hadn't thought about that already? This is like handing your mom a cork after she's poured the champagne down the drain.
HB 2650 was written by the Center for Arizona Policy. This is the same outfit that used the proposition option to ban gay marriage in AZ. I just can't wait to find out how good, white, upscale, Republican, straight Arizonans will feel about having their good, white, upscale, Republican, straight private lives managed by the gov'mint. But wait. I forgot. Those people never get divorced, do they?
And then there's AZ state Sen. Frank Antenori's inspiration, SB 2770. That's Antenori there in the photo, proving still yet again that pictures DO speak louder than words. Antenori wants to set up a 1-800 number so you can report anybody you see using food stamps to buy smokes or booze or a cell phone. FANtastic!
Any day now, watch for a bill from the Center for Arizona Policy that will set up a call line so you can report single people who buy condoms. I'm so LOVIN' this.
Honey, if you think it's right to ban a poor man from using food stamps to buy booze or cigarettes, can you spell DEMAGOGUERY? This is where fascism meets Mao Tse Tung.
Sure. Nobody, including moi, likes to see waste of federal or state aid, or a display of really bad judgment. But like many another morally superior Republican, Antenori makes his laws out of 3 parts ignorance, 2 parts hypocrisy, and 1 part frustration.
Think about it. It's a curiously anti-market approach for a Republican. The bill requires the state to interefere in personal choice. It interferes in free market transactions, and it punishes poor people for believing all they need for the Good Life is a six-pack and a Camel cigarette.
It's not just stupid. It's brutal. It's demagoguery that pits folks lucky enough not to have bought an overpriced house right before Bush's market collapse against those who weren't so lucky. Or well connnected. Or educated.
But I guess it's better we should criminalize poor people than go after the bankers and insurors who've brought us the Second Great Depression, the Iraq Occupation, Blackwater and Halliburton frauds on the Treasury, and no health care. It's the Republican way.
Monday, November 23, 2009
My family and yours are struggling.
We and/or our neighbors are in peril of losing our jobs.
We and/or our neighbors have already lost billions in retirement investments and home equity.
The suicides piling up, the homeless shelters our better towns try to provide, the overwhelmed emergency rooms, even the animal rescues we struggle to keep open as foreclosures and job losses and preventable burst levees and toxic drywall wipe away what remains of our already fragile security and self esteem . . .
These tragedies exist, in significant part, because Wall Street excutives take billion-dollar bonuses from tax dollars poured on their heads with no thought of conditions or consequences for malfeasance.
Because CEOs depress wages so that they can reap 450 x the line worker's annual pay.
Because the Army Corps of Engineers can't be bothered to build canals and levees adequate to protect the citizens of major US cities.
Because our bankers--let's stop saying "banks" as if brick buildings are behaving badly--are hiking interest rates and late fees, and hawking fraudulent products under militantly harmful terms.
Because our investment advisors blithly give false and fraudulent advice.
Because our corporate board members vote to ship our jobs over there.
Because our corporate executives, managers, and supervisors decide in cold daylight first to import, then to wholesale, and then to retail, and finally to install poison dry wall.
Because US corporate executives feed our troops spoiled food and murder them in electrified shower stalls built with criminal indifferene and negligence.
Because our corporate executives and managers and supervisors choose to sell us beef and chicken and peppers and tomatoes toxic with e-coli; or poisoned dog food, and leaded toys from China, and cribs so dangerous that they must be recalled.
Because while our local, state, and federal governments either actively encourage corporate and government corrupion or nothing about it.
And because we put up with it.
Anyone who knows any history knows that the playing field was never level. Do the names Al Smith, Mother Jones, Joe Hill, Clara Limlich, and the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory mean anything to you? (And don't think the horrors ended in the 1930s.) If you don't have a clue, you'd best study up on the reasons why unions formed in the United States of America, and what they achieved for American workers, and what we've lost since Reagan broke the unions' backs in the Air Traffic Controllers' strike. Wages, benefits, overtime . . . these pale by contrast to the exploitation by US corporations of women and children in Third World countries so that you get the great privilege of buying trendy sneakers for prices inflated beyond your dreams, so that corporate executives can maintain their multimillion-dollar lives.
If you do investigate US labor history, you'll quickly discover that there's a story beyond union officers' corruption. You'll quickly not only that when it comes to management and labor, there's always been an uneven playing field in the USA, and not since the Robber Barons has it been the ski slope it is becoming today.
Now is the season when we are being pressured to buy buy buy. We hear it incessantly from the ads and the news, and we hear it incessantly on the money channels. It's up to us, they say, to save the economy. It's up to the American consumer to keep on mindlessly consuming, overdrawing credit cards, stacking up rafts of made-in-China shit, and taking it in every orifice with interest hikes, late fee hikes, and cheap, shoddy, dangerous, overpriced crap.
So what say? Let's make our own holiday gifts. Or even better, instead of buying more shit at extortionist prices, let's give each other contributions to worthy nonprofits. I'll buy a $50 gift to your designated nonprofit, in your honor, for your holiday gift, and you do the same for me.
In other words, let's take back control of this F'd-up situation.
Let's all call in fed up.
If we're going down, let's take them with us.
Friday, October 30, 2009
If you're like me, you sorta do and you sorta don't understand why Wall Street and significant parts of corporate America are implicated in the destruction of the American middle class. You sorta get what all these high-level finance shell games have to do with unemployment, home foreclosures, closed schools and hospitals, but you couldn't really point to anything to explain it. Well, rejoice. Voila la explanation.
This should clarify a few things, and scare the hell out of you.
(Shortly after reading it, I sent $25 to Alternet for its fall fundraising campaign. Reason why? I don't recall seeing this story in the NY Times or the WS Journal or the Washington Post. And it occurs to me--again--that our ignorance is corporate America's bliss. I beg you to go and do likewise or better.)
It starts here, with cheap money (Greenspan's trademark low-interest policies):
In 2006, Pilgrim's Pride, then the second-largest chicken processor in the world, made a huge gamble that will seem familiar to anyone who's been following the financial crash: the company borrowed hundreds of millions of dollars, leveraging itself well beyond its means, in order to acquire a rival company and become the nation's No. 1 chicken processor, slaughtering 45 million chickens per week.But don't stop there. This is just the beginning.
That might have given the executives a nice, big hard-on, but it also meant they would have to come up with more money to pay for all that debt. So the company did do what every post-Reagan company has done and gotten away with: it made the workforce pay for the executives' bonuses.
That meant squeezing lower-middle-class workers for more work for less pay, or in Pilgrim's case, more work for no pay: In August 2007, the U.S. Department of Labor filed a lawsuit against Pilgrim's Pride accusing it of grossly undercompensating its employees. That same year, 10,000 Pilgrim's Pride employees launched a class-action lawsuit demanding compensation for their work.
The damage extended well beyond Pilgrim's Pride's plants. With bankruptcy came huge unpaid local tax bills, leading to further layoffs and reduced services for the already-beleaguered locals
The tale told here is straight out of The Shock Doctrine: political corruption, deregulation, leveraged debt, corporate bankruptcy, foreign ownership, and plant closings, all driven by insane greed--enable corporate and finance elites and a few billionaire families to plunder ordinary people to the point of destitution.
Only, guess what. The buzzard has come home to roost. This is in America, not Chile, or Venezuela, or the Pacific Rim.
This is a blow-by-blow script for how Pilgrim's Pride and Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase and Gold Kist and Merrill Lynch others executed a scorched earth profiteering scheme that has made Armageddon of two Alabama counties (see also AR and LA), and made billionaires of Bo Pilgrim and others like him.
Read it for your own survival. It's a true story about the rape of America, and it's coming to a town near you.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Ya, so I'm a little late with this, but surely there's somebody besides me who missed this latest GOP marvel.Check out TYT for some background.
So let me get this right. The party of law 'n order is for law 'n order except when they interfere with bidness.
That about it?
Why does ANYBODY sane vote Republican? Oh. Wait....
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
From Salon's War Room today:
Republican congressman: Obama "enemy of humanity"
"Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., has always been a little skeptical of President Obama. Skeptical enough, in fact, that he flirted with the Birther movement for a while, and even considered filing a lawsuit before the election in order to seek proof that the then-senator was eligible, under the Constitution's guidelines, to be president. He's moved past that -- mostly -- but he hasn't exactly embraced Obama, either.
"This past weekend, Franks spoke at the How to Take Back America Conference, an event co-chaired by Phyllis Schlafly and Janet Porter, a World Net Daily columnist who's apparently yet to meet a conspiracy theory about Obama that was too extreme for her taste. (You're probably going to Hell if you voted for him, by the way. But since he may be a Soviet mole, you probably deserve that eternal damnation.)
"So Franks had to work hard in order to live up to his host's example. But he managed to get there, saying:
Obama's first act as president of any consequence, in the middle of a financial meltdown, was to send taxpayers' money overseas to pay for the killing of unborn children in other countries .... [T]here's almost nothing that you should be surprised at after that. We shouldn't be shocked that he does all these other insane things. A president that has lost his way that badly, that has no ability to see the image of God in these little fellow human beings, if he can't do that right, then he has no place in any station of government and we need to realize that he is an enemy of humanity.
See the video via Right Wing Watch."