Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Opinion Press



I heard an opinion on the radio the other day that made me want to reconsider this blog. When I started it I thought maybe I’d get arguments, differing opinions, discussion or maybe even agreement.

Politics puts me into a rage or, at best, total despair. We live in a world where something as obvious as healthcare needing to be fixed has been totally politicized. It’s obvious that the people making money on this ridiculous system have orchestrated its persistence. We’re all left thinking it’s beyond fixing. These people are just too powerful.

What I heard on the radio was a new slant on blaming the media. It’s the opinion media. It’s Rush, Glenn Beck, and people like me with blogs. This stuff is just polarizing. Everyone has to join a camp and nothing can get done.

Anyone besides me want to slap Lieberman? How’s that for being rational. I just can’t do it. Maybe we should all just shut up!

The radio show was talking about a fact check site I hadn’t heard of. It’s Politifact and they’re more fun than fact check. They’re doing “Lie of the Year” awards. Sarah Palin’s Death Panels made #1.

Check it out.

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hope


I was very young when I learned religion was a tool used to organize and manipulate people. I also noticed thinking was portrayed in popular culture as the pastime of social misfits.

The image of television’s A Team comes to mind. There were three heroes; the swashbuckling leading man, the brutish, mohawked, bling clad black giant, and the little broken glasses wearing, pocket pencil protected, skinny little guy with bad hair (the nerd). He was the smart one that always got them out of trouble. He was also the comic relief.

I realize these were icons of the disco, cocaine sniffing, Me generation. That whole trip did eventually go out of fashion, but these characters are still used to play on the instincts of a gullible American consumer public.

The bad guys have gotten much more sophisticated and the numbers of people who find it too taxing to think have grown exponentially.

History is rewritten every time someone uses it to sell a point of view and our press won’t call them on it. I wonder if maybe they’re so entrenched in it they’ve become accomplices.

People are proud to admit they have a point of view even when they won’t do any background research. I am personally embarrassed when I’m not well informed about an important issue.

I was pointing out, what seem to be, irrational elements of Christianity to a friend of mine. She angrily snapped back, “Why do you think they call it faith?” There will be no discussion of time honored beliefs.

I’ve been criticized for my lack of values. Providing shelter and stability for my family and me should be the only important pursuits in life. Everything else is selfish.

Life really is short. It sounds petty, but we should follow our dreams (....long as you don’t hurt me or some other innocent person). We have to push past survival and make something of our little bit of time.

Just when I'm in totally despairing the hopelessness of the human cause, I take a look around me. Most people are just noise but there have been incredible achievements.

Just a tiny fraction of the population has surrounded us with incredible technology, art, philosophy and compassion. It’s here for all of us.

Don’t let the fear mongers scare you with words like SOCIALISM. The National Socialist Party were not socialists! The Union of Soviet Socialist Republic were not a real republic. True democracy would be mob rule and every culture that called themselves a democracy had a ruling elite, usually with slaves.

I’m rambling as usual and I might seem to be contradicting myself but we need to take back the word social. We are a week species and we never would have survived our early years if we didn’t band together to defend ourselves and to hunt. We are like dogs in that respect. We need each other but we have to think for ourselves.

We have to foster a society where thinking is hip.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Reason


Democrats have been a big disappointment to me lately. We have a chance to fix a lot of problems but we’re blowing it.

So many of our “representatives” have their hands in the pockets of big money. It amazes me that the right has been able to put the socialism spin on anything for “the people”. I can’t understand why the Fascism that’s being pushed isn’t exposed.

The Blue Dogs are killing anything constructive. The weak and even bad policies they are compromising with are just going to allow the right to say, “see, told you it wouldn’t work.”

I don’t really have to be specific, it’s in almost every issue. I think we got more done when the right was in power. Even though we have to suffer through unprovoked wars, the mentally ill put out in the streets, greed run rampant, a destroyed economy, and a scorched earth. It’s easy to point out evil when your nose is shoved in it.

It’s hard to be rational. Why is reason so elusive?

The left has to learn how advertising works. We have to accept that people’s opinions have to be manipulated if we want a better world. I’m joking of course. These people obviously don’t want a better world.

I know I’m ranting. I was at a great party last night. I do my best not to bring up religion or politics but everyone insisted. No two people thought anyone else had a clue what political reality was. Somehow we were all rational and enjoyed each other’s company.

I guess it can be done.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Feet To The Fire!


It’s hard not to be disappointed with the American Press. They’re supposed to hold people in power’s feet to the fire. They’ve gotten as lame as the Democrats.

Every time I hear someone state how successful Bush’s “Surge” was and I don’t hear the reporters calling them on it makes me want to scream.

The objectives were to leave breathing room for the Iraqis to figure out how the three sides could share power, share the oil, and live in peace. None of these things have happened and the Shia, who are the majority, seem to have no intention of sharing anything with the Kurds and Sunnis.

Violence slowed with the Sunni awakening. We were paying them to stop fighting us. It seemed to be working but the minute we handed that situation over to the Shia, they stopped paying, wouldn’t put them in positions of power and violence is on the rise.

Republicans come up with distractions like the Acorn scandal. It’s really sad because Acorn has done a lot of good, but there are going to be problems when you’re dealing with the poor and the ignorant. Real people are messy and there was definitely stupidity there.

If you want real scandal you can sink your teeth into look at Blackwater. Infinitely more corrupt. Check out Naomi Klein’s book The Shock Doctrine.

The press is our only hope against an irrational world but most of them seem too cowardly to call out the spin doctors. And you know how I feel about the reliability of public opinion.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

One More Hurdle


The health care debate has passed one more hurdle. It got past the blue dogs in the Senate. The rest of the civilized world is scratching their heads wondering why the largest economy in the world doesn’t have single payer-not for profit heath care.

The employer based system we have started during World War II. The government was trying to keep inflation in check and put caps on workers’ salaries. Employers got creative and found other incentives.

Now we expect them to provide our health care. This is an enormous burden for them and is one of the main reasons companies move to other countries.

It’s also why I have to turn jobs I really want down. I’ve been offered good salaried jobs by UPS and Fed Ex but they only hire part time to avoid paying benefits. I can’t feed my family on the income from a part time job.

Okay, we’re so entrenched in a corrupt medical industrial complex that the compromise “Public Option” was introduced. We all need to be covered for a rational system to work and obviously some of us won’t be able to afford it so there you go.

The public option has not only gotten so watered down it won’t work, but it will probably drive the cost up. Allowing states to “opt out” defeats the whole purpose. And I know the red neck state I live in won’t participate.

If this stupid version of health care reform passes it will hurt all of us and the obstructionists will say, “See, told ya so!”

The blue dogs have a chance to really affect positive change in the American quality of life. The fear campaign leveled by the right has gotten to their constituents and the American attention span has never been strong. Politicians care more about being reelected than making a difference.

We are all subjects of a corporate oligarchy and I’m growing too tired to fight back.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Marching For The Lord


I drove by Planned Parenthood the other day. The usual group of protesters were marching with their “Pray To End Abortions” signs and bloody fetus photos. I am often compelled to ask them if they teach contraception. If they don’t, they’re part of the reason abortions happen.

I’m compelled but I don’t. These people scare me. Remember the good Reverend Donald Spitz commenting on my vegetarian post? He was appalled that I would consider abortion clinic bombers anywhere near as evil as The PETA twits that throw paint on fur coats. He asked me to bow and pray with him to ask the Lord’s forgiveness.

My friend ‘Drea had her car keyed. Someone ran a long scratch down the length of her car because she had a bumper sticker that read “It’s a Choice, Not a Child.”

Pro Choice advocates don’t act this way. Rational people don’t act this way!

If your dogma doesn’t allow you to consider the termination of life before consciousness or the ability to experience pain just remember, it’s none of your Damn business!

No one wants abortions to happen. Let’s get real about education and maybe we can actually bring the numbers down.

If you want to end abortions, you should support Planned Parenthood.

http://www.religioustolerance.org/abo_viol.htm

Sunday, November 1, 2009

More on Health



Republicans' fix for our broken healthcare system seems to boil down to tort reform and allowing us to shop for insurance across state lines.

I agree we need a system that ignores state boundaries but if you if you apply that to our current system you get young people trying to get away from a pool of folks that include the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions. This of course would lead to higher costs in those areas.

As for tort reform, it’s in place in Missouri already. It has lowered insurance costs for doctors by a third. It hasn’t had any effect on our premiums at all. If you’re permanently crippled by medical negligence you’re only allowed $300,000 in this state.

Malpractice suits only add 1 ½ percent to the cost of insurance in the most inflated studies.

It reminds me of climate change deniers that claim global warming is controversial because 1 ½ percent of people watching it aren’t convinced. Most of these “experts” aren’t even saying it’s not happening, they’re saying they’re just not convinced.

Recent polls show Americans are beginning to believe human influenced climate change may not be real. It’s pathetic and we should all be ashamed of ourselves for letting this happen.

As far as health care costs go, we need to put doctors on salary, have “not for profit health insurance (like the rest of the civilized world), drug companies have to stop creating new drugs just to take the place of the old ones whose patents have expired, and focus on preventative health care. You know, like educating people about nutrition and stopping the subsidies of crap crops like corn.

We need to feed cows grass. They would die from malnutrition if they weren’t fed vitamin suppliments. Corn is only good for Fritos and popcorn. It’s a stupid source for bio fuel that leaves as big a carbon footprint as oil and the politicians all know it.

I’m on a rant now. I hate the Democrats as much as the Republicans. They’re cowards with their hands in the pockets of big money. The republicans, at least, aren’t cowards. They unashamedly lie and steal.

Ads

I just noticed a petition to stop government run healthcare in the ad to the left. I do not endorse these ads. I wish I had some control over their content. Public opinion is being manipulated by big money and most people are sheep as far as I'm concerned. Sometimes I think we deserve the corporate rule we live under.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

What We're Facing


Last week my kids and I went to a visitation at a funeral home in Florissant. My ex father in law’s best friend, Art, had just died. Art had been fighting cancer for 2 years. He helped us a lot when we were fixing up our first house. There were a lot of people there and we didn’t know anyone.

My old in laws, Bud and Judy, arrived. Naturally we hung with them. Bud told me that one of Art’s kids was just in from the military and had broken his foot. He said the kid tried to get treated at Scott Air Force Base’s hospital. They denied treatment because he had already bought some kind of commercial insurance. Bud told me he almost wasn’t treated because of government red tape. “If Obama gets his way that’s the way health care will be for all of us,” he said.

I told him the Health Bill had gotten so corrupted, it’s all over anyway. “What we really need is a single payer system,” I said.

“Yeah then it would be as bad as Canada,” he said.

I told him my Canadian friends were appalled about the misinformation being spread about their system. They thought our system was totally barbaric.

Bud closed me off immediately. I could see he had nothing to say to me anymore.

The disinformation campaign of the people making all the money from our ridiculous health system has done its job. Normally sweet people like Bud will never be shaken from their convictions about evil, bloated, incompetent big government.

The democrats, wanting a filibuster proof majority, supported blue dog democrats from conservative states. We would have done better with the centrist republicans that were already there. They were way more open to compromise and bipartisan politics.

It’s healthy to be skeptical about government but you have to watch out for big business too. They’re the real power in our society. Unfortunately people like to follow and are easily mislead.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

3 Reprints for "Blog Action Day"

I think people that are skeptical about human impact on our environment should try skydiving. I used to jump in Sparta in Southern Illinois. It was close to the Baldwin coal fired electric plant. There was a brown line in the atmosphere you passed through on the way to altitude. I always felt better about breathing when we flew above it.

As you looked out over God’s country you couldn’t help but notice the quilt of man made terrain as for as the eye could see. There wasn’t an inch of property that wasn’t totally shaped by people.

When you think about space being only 62 miles up you get a sense of how thin our bubble of atmosphere is.

Of course the real problem is our population explosion. I know I sound like a broken record, but the planet’s population has tripled in my lifetime. Our planet can’t handle this kind of exponential growth.

There are consequences from our actions. Why do people deny it?

Sharon commented on my last post that you didn’t have to be a skydiver to see the effect humans have on our environment. She then asked, “Did you start recycling?”

While there is hypocrisy on my part, the point of my post was not “Let’s recycle.”

Let me explain my point to you and the other two of you who read my posts.

I have a lot of conservative and even a few liberal friends who refuse to believe we can have any effect on our environment whatsoever. Most are convinced there’s a political agenda when anyone points out anything negative we do to this planet.

From the perspective of skydiving our effect is incredibly obvious. Every square inch of the world will soon be covered with an ugly shag carpet. We all live together in a small room without windows and everyone’s smoking.

My personal frustration is the denial. Maybe you’re frustrated with my lack of participation in the solution. My kids are showing me the way and we recycle in the county when I’m there. We don’t really have it set up in the city but there’s really no excuse for me not to. I do recycle cans but that’s totally motivated by greed.

In case anyone doesn’t know, aluminum isn’t worth anything right now.

While I’m at it I may as well get this off my chest. I know some friends will get pissed. I recently started to recycle. The reason I do is to show solidarity with the cause. The carbon that’s released in the processing plants, not to mention getting recyclables trucked to them is practically a wash. You can’t even argue that we’re saving finite resources with some things. Glass is sand.

I worry that there might be a placebo effect. People might think they’re making a difference.

We’re at a crisis point with our environment no matter what corporate interests are telling us.

The things that are killing us are exponential population growth, subsidized corn, corn fed cows, nitrogen fertilizers, coal fired energy plants, and the killing off of bio-diversity.

If we all became vegetarians we’d reverse global warming. I know this will never happen but we have to at least stop feeding cattle corn. I’m not going into details. It’s easy to do the research.

We’re living in a world where everyone screams, “We must end our dependence on foreign oil!” Then when gas prices go back down temporarily everyone buys trucks again. Public perception has always baffled me. Why is it SUVs are an embarrassment to me and not to others?

It’s like bling and other shows of ostentation. It all gives me a sense of hopelessness.

I know these 3 reprints aren't specifically about climate change. I just want to point out the human impact on our environment.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Peace


I drove around all day Friday listening to the radio. People were calling in the talk shows to voice how sickened they were about Obama’s Nobel Peace prize.

The prize was Europe’s reaction to our emergence from the eight years of bull headed unilateralism of the previous administration.

It’s sad that so many people not only don’t know about our image around the world but don’t care. Good Christians who believe if you don’t live inside our borders you can go to Hell.

Maybe Obama didn’t deserve the prize but he didn’t ask for it either. Not to mention, more than anyone else on the planet, he’s in a position to make world peace a reality.

I personally think he’s too pragmatic to make a difference. I suspect he has a little hawk in him too which makes me nervous. Maybe it’s the only way, I don’t know.

We live in a world where 98.5 percent of experts believe people have a negative effect on our environment. We give equal time to the 1.5 percent that don’t. It’s become a controversial issue.

There are folks that are angry with the Nobel people for trying to influence events. They’re appalled that Oslo has a political agenda.

They do-------- Peace!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Concern for My Health


I haven’t been posting here lately for a reason. When I think about politics I descend into despair or rage. It ruins my whole day.

I thought Obama dropped the ball when he stepped back from the health care issue and let the corporations take control of it.

It occurred to me that it seemed like a no-brainer to him. Everyone wants affordable coverage that can’t be denied because of pre existing conditions. We obviously have to stop the practice of canceling coverage when something catastrophic happens to anyone.

The excuse that we can’t afford it is wrong. We are paying twice the amount of countries with the best coverage and everyone knows it.

Anyone who says their coverage is fine hasn’t had to use it.

Republicans are throwing red herrings like tort reform and illegal alien coverage.

When Confederate flag waving, Joe Wilson yelled, “You lie,” at Obama after he said illegals wouldn’t be covered, it was pointed out that Obama was telling the truth with the wording of every version of the bill.

The Republican response was enforcement wasn’t strong enough. In the more than 500 amendments to the health care bill Republicans wanted denial to all aliens, even legal, at least for a period of time.

Okay, the only reason illegal aliens have to be treated in emergency rooms now is the fact that hospitals can’t turn anyone away. If an illegal alien’s kid is hit by a car would you rather he was turned away because he wasn’t legal? What kind of monsters think this way?

The fact is most illegal aliens wouldn’t run the risk of being caught. They’re not going to burden our health care system.

Legal aliens are mostly young, healthy, working people that would add to the insurance pool in a positive way anyway.

As for tort reform they put a $250,000 cap on settlements in Texas. It hasn’t affected insurance rates at all.

Imagine a situation when a person needs a leg amputated and they take off the wrong one. This kind of negligence does happen and people’s lives are ruined. Believe it or not some of these cases are legitimate.

We need to spend the effort making sure these things don’t happen. Not killing the legal consequences. It’s only 2 to 3% of insurance costs anyway.

The insurance machine knows just how to stroke our fears and racism. They’ve twisted our healthy inclination to believe in conspiracies against us.

I will probably only post here every now and then because it affects my blood pressure and I’m not insured!

The bird outside the window is the Medical Industrial Complex.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

We Need a Voice

My girlfriend Valerie had to represent both of us last Wednesday at the Healthcare Candlelight Vigil at Tower Grove Park. She took this photo. Note the high percentage of elderly folks.

I believe the fight for universal healthcare is the single most important civil rights issue we face. It has become the line in the sand between reason and the redneck mob.

While the mob exercises its first amendment rights by denying them to others and making a mockery of peaceful assembly, the rest of us need to be heard.

The mob practices brown shirt tactics at Town Hall meetings while ironically calling Obama the next Hitler. They need a history lesson.

These people are being played like a fine violin. They’re calling reason conspiracy.

In 1948 the American Medical Association hired an ad agency that came up with the phrase “Socialized Medicine.” This worked like a charm considering our cold war paranoia. These people don’t know what socialism is. I spoke with a Tea Party conservative who was trying to teach me the Nazis were socialist because the word socialist was in the acronym NAZI.

In 1914 they called universal healthcare a plot of the German emperor.

The news this week is Obama talking to school kids about the importance of education. Parents are outraged that Obama is trying to indoctrinate their children with his socialist views. These are the same people who want prayer in schools. Go figure!

I doubt they realize the words “Under God” was added to the pledge of allegiance in the 50s during the Red scare.

Secret Service agent Ronald Kessler’s new book “In the President’s Secret Service” details a 400 % increase of death threats to the president. He says almost all are racially motivated.

I’ve always been afraid for Obama. I relaxed a little after the election but the mob is beginning to look dangerous.

The redneck with a gun strapped to his leg at the Obama healthcare rally had just come from a church service. I heard a recording of the sermon. The preacher was praying for Obama’s death.

We need a voice of reason that’s just as passionate as the redneck mob. It looks like it’s not going to be the Democrats.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Kiss and Tell


I wasn’t a big Clinton supporter. He was better than the alternative but he was a corporate puppet like most politicians. I think he helped us get into our current situation. In my opinion Reagan started all of this with his deregulation policies. Republicans will insist there was a lot of oversight during his administration but he made sure regulators were too weak to catch, let alone do anything about abuses.

My skin crawls when I hear people talking about what a great president he was.

I remember Ted Kennedy getting together with Danforth (a Republican) to reverse Reagan’s anti compassion policies. I’m not going into detail but it’s easy to research. The real reason for this entry is hypocrisy.

Obama is inconvenienced with talk of accountability in the previous administration. I’m not looking for revenge. The abuses have to be exposed and there has to be accountability if were ever to stop them from happening again.

There are still people who think Clinton should have been kicked out for lying to Congress about his sexual indiscretions.

I believe these are the same people who want to keep big government out of their Medicare.

I don’t care how high the court is. If they pry into my sex life I’m going to lie.

I like the way Gore Vidal put it, “a southern gentleman never tells.”

Sunday, August 16, 2009

White Power


The partisan divide has been set in stone in this country. It will kill us. The Republican idea of winning the health care debate is to retain the status quo. Nothing will change. They’re spreading lies about death panels, outlawing private insurance, and covering illegal aliens. Warning us that deficit spending will bankrupt the country. If health care is left the way it is it will definitely bankrupt the country.
When I hear Tea Party conservatives yell, “Give me back my country!” what they’re really saying is, “I know white folks won’t be the majority by 2050.” “We have a black president now.” “We’ve lost control!”
The national nightmare of the last administration isn’t over yet. Obama won because even the bigots couldn’t deny the damage from the Bush administration. It’s amazing how short the public’s attention span is. When gas hit $4.00 a gallon, car dealers could only sell fuel efficient cars. The minute prices went down pick up trucks led sales again. What’s that about? Prices will go back up you idiots.
Hey, I never said I was non-partisan. Let’s divide the country so we don’t even have to look at each other.

Friday, August 7, 2009

To Whom It May Concern


If you don’t think Jesus was a war mongering, greedy, intolerant, xenophobe stop calling yourselves Christians.

Why is the messenger the message?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Birthers


I suppose this week my blogs will focus on racism.

The 14 amendment states, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."

Even the conservative National Review says, "Much foolishness has become attached to the question of President Obama’s place of birth, and a few misguided souls among the Right have indulged it."

Dr. Chiyome Fukino, director of the Hawaii Department of Health has released her second statement (the first was made last November) saying that state records show Obama was indeed born in the U.S.A. This one states unequivocally that he is "a natural-born American citizen."

Birthers insist a birth certificate hasn’t been produced. It has! Nothing can appease these idiots. This is the same stubborn hate focusing that denies the Holocaust, the moon landings, global warming, and evolution. If people would stop trying to reinforce their fear and loathing we might actually get something done.

Hey we’ve got health care, the economy, our environment, education and 2 wars to worry about.

I know no one reads this blog but if you’re a birther and think you have a legitimate argument please---- bring it on!!!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

An Afterthought

And yes, I'd rather have a government bureaucratic boob in charge of my health care than an insurance company with a vested interest in not extending coverage to me and my family.

Asleep on the Job


Well it looks like health care is too important to figure out before congress goes on vacation.

I found this chart of health care systems in industrial countries.

http://www.codebluenow.org/vital-signs/Health%20System%20Comparison%20Charts%205.30.2008.pdf

Whenever you hear someone use the word socialism you are being manipulated. Someone is trying to scare you with images of Stalin’s oppressive authoritarian rule.

Socialism is alive and well in the world today and it doesn’t mean communism.

In the United States we live in a roughly 30% tax bracket. The Scandinavian countries live in the 50% tax bracket. They are the real socialists.

This level of taxation might sound scary but they have totally universal health care and everyone’s college is paid for. Imagine what universal education would do for our economy.

We end up paying twice what the most expensive single payer country does anyway.

For details check out my health care article in Associated Content.

For me the most important part of this is something I heard on NPR the other day. Quality of life is tremendously improved without the stress of the financial burden of health care and education.

If I get sick I just suffer through it. I can’t afford health care. If can’t afford to send my kids to college are they doomed to live like I do, trying to survive week to week?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Trust


It occurred to me that the there really is a danger of society crumbling. We’ve become so polarized that the illusion that holds us all together is evaporating.

The illusion is trust. We have to be willing to trust strangers. We have to will it.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Checking Facts


A Roanoke, Va. TV station refused to run an attack ad directed at Democratic Rep. Tom Perriello. The ad blasts Perriello's vote in favor of the climate change bill.
The National Republican Congressional Committee claims energy costs could go up nearly $1,800 a year per household. This number came from an estimate from the conservative Heritage Foundation. It had been proven to be false but the statistics were used anyway. The Congressional Budget Office puts the increase at closer to $175 per annum by 2020. Kinda reminds me of Bush's yellowcake speach.
Southern Regional Press Secretary, Jessica Santillo states "The NRCC has a track record of running ads so deceptive and misleading that local TV stations refuse to air them or have to remove from the airwaves,” “Clearly, Washington Republicans realize that the truth is not on their side so they resort to deceptive and false attack ads. Virginians deserve to hear the facts about how this bill will reduce our dependence on foreign oil, not be subject to scare tactics.”
Are we entering a new era of fact checking? I'm encouraged by the fact that more and more of these lies are being exposed.We are fed false facts from both sides and the public generally doesn’t go to the trouble to check them out. It seems like more and more political statements have been followed by a fact check afterwards. Maybe the truth will pevail in spite of our apathy.
The internet has the ability to feed us even more lies because a lot of opinions aren't well researched. The truth is in there too. We need to sift through it all. We have to be willing to look a little deeper even when the facts don’t say what we want them to. I am constantly humbled by my ignorance but I really don’t think it’s impossible to discern the truth.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Posturing


McCain, Rush, and other conservatives have been ranting about Obama’s weak stance when he wouldn’t speak up about the elections in Iran. I’m sure they’re mature enough to know that posturing is not only childish but also dangerous when it comes to Iran.

There are people in Iran that would love to use the U.S. as a scapegoat and Obama knows it.

The trouble is the conservatives know it too. They can only be pandering to an ignorant base. It seems popular support is still more important than justice. I have at times thought McCain was an honest man. It’s obvious he is just after power.

There are a lot of Iranians that are convinced that we provided Saddam with the gas he used against them in the Iran/Iraq war.

Grow up guys!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

I Stand Corrected


As Dominic commented in my last post, “These people are not sheep!”

The Iranians have endured water canons, tear gas and bullets. They’re still demonstrating in the streets in spite of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s threats.

Their ability to mobilize quickly has been credited entirely to Twitter. I have a new and profound respect for it now.

When I posted last week I didn’t realize the landslide was declared just hours after the vote. There were millions of voters and no computers. Votes were counted by hand!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Ahmadinejad


The posturing, homophobe, holocaust denier won by a landslide in Iran. It’s easy to sit here in the comfort of my apartment in the good old USA and say it was all fixed. The problem with that is the clerics that run everything in Iran have been embarrassed with Ahmadinejad’s antics for years. They say the elections were the cleanest they’ve been in 30 years.

No, I think the trouble is Iranian voters are sheep just like most voters around the world. (What I wouldn’t do for a benevolent dictatorship!)

They appear to have a culture that says compassion and willingness to talk through problems is a sign of weakness. They want someone with the balls to stand up to the west. Given the terrible things we’ve done over the years, it’s hard to blame them.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Social Evolution


I had to make my rounds with a trainee a few weeks ago. He immediately went into Republican-speak stating that FDR’s policies didn’t get us out of the depression, the war did. I told him he had better expect a passionate response if he kept it up.

 I told him we had 8% growth every year of FDR’s administration. We were so far in the hole that it took the massive spending of the war to pull us out. And that absolutely nothing was happening under Hoover.

I also told him I was no fan of FDR’s because of Eleanor’s futile attempts to improve his race policies.

He said, "I know what to do to make you like me, just agree with everything you say.” I told him about friends of mine that were part of the Tea Party protests. He was surprised.

We started talking about health care reform and he dragged out the old Socialism chestnut. “We have to keep government out of our business,” he said.

We are government. Are we afraid of ourselves?

We are a weak species and can not survive without each other. Just like dogs.

A huge spike in the evolution of our intelligence occurred during the middle of our stone age that coincides with our socialization. The thinking is that it took a lot of us to retain and expand on technological innovations where before new ideas just fizzled out.

I told my new friend the other side of the Socialism coin was Fascism. He decided I needed an education about Socialism. “Do you know what Nazi stands for, the National Socialist Party,” he said.

Right about here my mind drifted back to the futility of politics. The Nazis were throwing Socialists into concentration camps. Stalin and Hitler, while both enthuiastic, were hardly in agreement about an ideal society.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Recycling

While I’m at it I may as well get this off my chest. I know some friends will get pissed. I recently started to recycle. The reason I do is to show solidarity with the cause. The carbon that’s released in the processing plants, not to mention getting recyclables trucked to them is practically a wash. You can’t even argue that we’re saving finite resources with some things. Glass is sand.

I worry that there might be a placebo effect. People might think they’re making a difference.

We’re at a crisis point with our environment no matter what corporate interests are telling us.

The things that are killing us are exponential population growth, subsidized corn, corn fed cows, nitrogen fertilizers, coal fired energy plants, and the killing off of bio-diversity.

If we all became vegetarians we’d reverse global warming. I know this will never happen but we have to at least stop feeding cattle corn. I’m not going into details. It’s easy to do the research.

We’re living in a world where everyone screams, “We must end our dependence on foreign oil!” Then when gas prices go back down temporarily everyone buys trucks again. Public perception has always baffled me. Why is it SUVs are an embarrassment to me and not to others?

It’s like bling and other shows of ostentation. It all gives me a sense of hopelessness.

Venting


When I started this blog I thought it would be an opportunity to vent. I thought I would feel better after each post.

I don’t enjoy reading angry rants and I know my posts are very subjective. No one really knows everything about anything. You end up getting mad at the author.

The more I think about the subjects I write about, the angrier I get. I might have to stop before I get an aneurism.

In spit of revelations that information from prisoners was derived before water boarding Dick Cheney still insists torture works. Saying it has always made it so with him. I’m surprised he stopped saying Saddam was responsible for 9/11.

When Bush won by his 51% mandate he said he had political capital he intended to spend. The only capital he had was the world’s outrage and sympathy after 9/11. He squandered that immediately.

I’m still hearing the world is a better place without Saddam. At that time he was politically castrated and contained. Inspections were working and Hans Blix was begging for us to continue.

Photos of the “indiscressions” at Guantanamo Bay are still used for recruiting posters by Al Qaeda.

The democrats in congress should be ashamed of themselves for pandering to ignorance and fear mongering the republicans use to polarize the voting public.

The world needs to know we were wrong and we can change. The symbolism is important.

Several states have offered to take the prisoners because of the boost to their local economies. They already have the infrastructure in place. Their representatives scream, “Not in my backyard.”

They’re trying to say these prisoners pose a threat. First they might influence fellow prisoners. Second they might escape and commit acts of terror. By this logic we should only incarcerate nice, safe folks. Model prisoners we can be proud of.

I’m an old lefty from way back. Our liberal representatives are an embarrassment.

While we’re on the subject, if Nancy Pelosi knew about torture she should be held accountable too. If we believe in justice everyone should be held accountable. It’s not a distraction from more important issues or revenge, it’s necessary.

Let’s vote all the bums out!!!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Fat, Sugar and Salt


Former commissioner of the FDA, David Kessler has been all over the radio this week. He just published “The End of Overeating” and has confirmed a lot of my own suspicions.

Fat, sugar, and salt will always leave you wanting more. It’s not possible to be satisfied with these foods even if you’re about to explode.

I hear people like Rush Limbaugh, and others, talk about food Nazis. “Big government should keep their noses out of my food habits!”

We’re at an unfair disadvantage. ADM and others have the manipulation of our addictions down to a science. Worst of all we’re subsidizing them. The argument I keep hearing is “it’s what the people want.”

Well I want drugs but I can’t have them! They’d take my kids away.

We are actually hard wired neurologically to want fat, sugar and salt. From infancy these foods equal good in our brains.

Kessler has been studying this for years. He came to the conclusion that because we’re actually hard wired with these addictions we always will be. The only thing we can do is hard wire ourselves with a different message that’s stronger. He points to the great strides we’ve made in the public perception of cigarettes. Smoking used to equal cool and was a friend. Now it equals the enemy.

It’s takes a lot of work to change. I remember when I finally stopped smoking. I actually trained myself to enjoy my desperate longing for them. I became a masochist. I still believe most of my addiction was physical. The urge to breast feed. Chemical withdrawal always seems to pass pretty quickly for me.

Is diabetes 2 is just a euphemism for obesity?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

To My Non-Skydiving Friends update


Sharon commented on my last post that you didn’t have to be a skydiver to see the effect humans have on our environment. She then asked, “Did you start recycling?”

While there is hypocrisy on my part, the point of my post was not “Let’s recycle.”

Let me explain my point to you and the other two of you who read my posts.

I have a lot of conservative and even a few liberal friends who refuse to believe we can have any effect on our environment whatsoever. Most are convinced there’s a political agenda when anyone points out anything negative we do to this planet.

From the perspective of skydiving our effect is incredibly obvious. Every square inch of the world will soon be covered with an ugly shag carpet. We all live together in a small room without windows and everyone’s smoking.

My personal frustration is the denial. Maybe you’re frustrated with my lack of participation in the solution. My kids are showing me the way and we recycle in the county when I’m there. We don’t really have it set up in the city but there’s really no excuse for me not to. I do recycle cans but that’s totally motivated by greed.

In case anyone doesn’t know, aluminum isn’t worth anything right now.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A Letter to my Non-Skydiving Friends



I think people that are skeptical about human impact on our environment should try skydiving. I used to jump in Sparta in Southern Illinois. It was close to the Baldwin coal fired electric plant. There was a brown line in the atmosphere you passed through on the way to altitude. I always felt better about breathing when we flew above it.

As you looked out over God’s country you couldn’t help but notice the quilt of man made terrain as for as the eye could see. There wasn’t an inch of property that wasn’t totally shaped by people.

When you think about space being only 62 miles up you get a sense of how thin our bubble of atmosphere is.

Of course the real problem is our population explosion. I know I sound like a broken record, but the planet’s population has tripled in my lifetime. Our planet can’t handle this kind of exponential growth.

There are consequences from our actions. Why do people deny it?

Photo is the ascent to our first Missouri POPs (Parachutists over Phorty) formation record in 2004. We beat it a year later. I’m hidden in the back on the left. Pic stolen from Goon Squad celebrity and Master of Ceremonies Calvin “Calmodee” Britt.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Don't Pick Your Nose




I suspect 90% of colds and flu are caused by sticking your finger in your nose. My nose runs all the time. I involuntarily wipe the back of my hand across my nose a lot.

It does seem like we’re overreacting to the H1N1 A outbreak. If you consider 36,000 people die every year from the usual strains of flu and only 150 have died from this one. All but one occurred in Mexico. It turns out most of these were symptomatic pneumonia deaths and could have been the second wave of their regular flu cycle.

The authorities are afraid of this one because it’s entirely new and they’re not sure how it will mutate.

For evolution skeptics you might consider viral mutation as part of the mountain of evidence. (Had to get that in)

I’m not sure why it’s called swine flu. It has an Asian pig, an American pig, an avian and a human gene.

Egypt is slaughtering its entire pig population (250,000). Egypt pays non Muslim Christians to use pigs for garbage disposal. The country already has sanitation problems. Without the pigs it’s really going to be a mess. Apparently Muslims can’t even touch the filthy beasts. I’m ignorant about this. If anyone knows about this rule could you explain it to me? I’m hopelessly perplexed by religious practices.

This flu is being spread by humans, not pigs!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The High Road


Even as an atheist I believe in the Golden Rule “Do unto others” or in my language practice empathy. This should be national policy.

Sen. Edward Kennedy (D- Mass.) told colleagues during a debate on military commission legislation. “We punished people with 15 years of hard labor when water boarding was used against Americans in WWII.

The case of Abu Zubaydah is used as an example of why enhanced interrogation techniques are necessary. Former CIA director Michael Hayden said on Fox News: "The critical information we got from Abu Zubaydah came after we began the EITs [enhanced interrogation techniques]."

One of Zubaydah's FBI interrogators, Ali Soufan, remembers it differently. Soufan wrote in The New York Timesthat Zubaydah talked without being coerced.

Two high-ranking former FBI sources say that intelligence breakthroughs came before Zubaydah was subjected to harsh techniques, not after. Rohan Gunaratna, has similar recollections. He is an al-Qaida expert who has worked with U.S. government agencies on terrorism issues.

"Gen. Hayden is dead wrong" about harsh techniques getting information from Zubaydah, he says. "I have tremendous respect for Gen. Hayden, but he is wrong in this case."

Another pro torture claim: That harsh interrogation tactics led to the arrest of American Jose Padilla. Gunaratna was the government's expert in the Padilla case. He said they got the key lead on Padilla from Zubaydah without using torture.

The fact that the CIA water boarded Khalid Sheik Mohammed 183 times and he never lead them to Osama bin Laden says it all.

The ticking bomb scenario is pointless when it’s been determined for years that a person being tortured will tell you what you want to hear, not necessarily the facts.

America has to lead by example or stop pretending we’re on any moral high ground.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Cuba


The 5th Summit of the Americas opened on the same day as the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. Was that on purpose?

Obama has eased some of the restrictions placed on Cuba. But after saying his administration would “engage with the Cuban government on a wide range of issues — from drugs, migration, and economic issues, to human rights, free speech, and democratic reform,” he stopped short of saying he would normalize relations. 

According to John McCain, “The U.S. should continue to pressure the Cuban regime to release all political prisoners unconditionally and to hold free and fair elections with international supervision. Unless these conditions are met, lifting the economic embargo would only serve to strengthen the Castro dictatorship and delay Cuba’s inevitable transition to democracy.” I think that would have happened by now if it wasn’t for the embargo.

What makes Cuba different from China, another communist regime with human rights issues?

Money does. China is a huge trading partner.

Cuban exiles have lobbied with the power of cash and votes. But that’s the old guard. Younger Cubans are beginning to see things through eyes not blurred by the rage of a desire for revenge. They wouldn’t go back if they could.

The Castro government has been able to blame the U.S. embargo on all of its problems angering its citizens and rallying them around Castro. Was Batista better?

We need to have a uniform system of justice if we expect any kind of respect from the rest of the world.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

New Coke Update


I was listening to NPR yesterday when I was surprised to hear a story about Passover Cokes. These are Kosher and made with real cane sugar. My buddy Tony turned me on to them. It’s the only time I’ll drink them anymore.

I did an Associated Content story about the “New Coke Conspiracy”. If you haven’t already read it check it out. http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/465387/the_new_coke_conspiracy.html?cat=35

 The radio show mentioned real sugar Cokes were favored by Coke drinkers over the corn syrup version. Coca-Cola swore there was no difference. Of course they do. They get corn syrup for free! We subsidize corn in this country. I think corporations like ADM are as big and evil as the oil companies. Except for Fritos there is absolutely nothing redeeming about corn.

Cows that are fed corn have to have vitamin supplements or they will die. People that eat cows are only getting a fraction of the nutrition they would from cows that graze. They use feed corn to make ethanol which leaves a carbon footprint equal to petroleum. If they allowed cows to graze they wouldn’t produce the nitrogen for fertilizer that runs off into our rivers. This is what’s causing the dead zone in the Mississippi Delta the size of New Jersey.

I read somewhere years ago (although I can’t substantiate this) when some American Indian tribes changed from hunter-gatherers to corn harvesters they disappeared.

Anyway New Coke is only a symptom of a much darker conspiracy. Federally funded empty calories.

As for me I love the burn of a real Coke!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Sheep Alert


I’ve decided to give up the subtle innuendo with the sheep pictures. I’m going to come right out and call it Sheep Alert when I see examples of the manipulation of simple minded voters. We should know better and be ashamed of ourselves when we fall for this crap.

Last week, the Missouri House approved HB 1831 on a 113-33 third reading vote and sent the measure to the Senate for its consideration. The bill was to make forced abortions illegal.

No one is lurking on dark street corners ready to pounce on pregnant women and force them to have an abortion.

I have actually lost close friends over this issue. My view is there is no black and white about abortion. There are shades of gray. The first trimester of pregnancy the fetus has no sense of pain of self awareness. The more viable the fetus becomes, the more aware. What a woman decides about her body is none of my damn business.

I drive by Planned Parenthood on Forest Park Ave. every day. There are protesters with signs. There’s always someone down on their knees praying for the unborn. I think it’s great that people who care about anything are out there making their beliefs known. I feel sorry for them though.

Their idea of a human soul is completely misguided and shouldn’t be imposed on the rest of us. Those of us that believe in reason are going to have to have the courage to speak up. We are living in a superstitious society. The convictions of these folks get us into wars. The suffering we impose on each other usually has some kind of moral conviction at its base.

When my son was 4 we were at a church event at my wife’s parish. A woman was trying to raise money for a protest group to go down to Florida. I told her I believed it was a woman’s right to choose what she does with her body. She looked at my son and said, “It’s a good thing for you, your dad didn’t have you aborted.”

When a personality has developed it’s hard to imagine a state of consciousness that came before. By this logic the loss of every egg and sperm is a tragedy.

Planned Parenthood wants to educate everyone about contraception. They want pregnancy to be on purpose. They don’t advocate abortion. No one does.

Last week the Pope said contraception exacerbates the problem of unwanted pregnancy. He believes condoms promote teen sex. We have to wake up. 

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Capitalism


I know my posts have been more partisan and less fun to read. I’ve been pointing out the right’s use of the word Socialism a lot. I have to admit it’s my angry gut reaction to what I perceive as fear mongering. Like my friend Tony says, “nobody reads these anyway!”

When the republicans warn of big government and Socialism what they’re trying to scare us with is Stalinism. I doubt the youngsters that vote today have any idea what that is. If they had any sense of history would George 2 have been voted in twice?

The republicans have been bashing Roosevelt about his economic recovery programs. They say the populist reaction was for us to become a socialist state. Popular involvement in government is not Stalinism. It’s the opposite. I contend that the public were not launching an idealistic response to economic disaster. They were getting involved. It was Democracy in action.

I also contend the world's most efficient kind of Capitalism today is practiced in China.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Profiling


A report issued by the Missouri Information Analysis Center linking people with ideologies based on “Christian” views that oppose illegal immigration, abortion and federal taxes to militia groups has angered conservatives across the country.

The report was intended to help state troopers identify militia extremists. It also warned to watch for 3rd party political candidate bumper stickers.

Police were instructed to look for Americans who were concerned about unemployment, taxes, illegal immigration, gangs, border security, abortion, high costs of living, gun restrictions, FEMA, the IRS, The Federal Reserve and the North American Union/SPP/North American Community. Domestic terrorists might like gun shows, short wave radios, combat movies, movies with white male heroes, Tom Clancey Novels, and Presidential Candidates Ron Paul, Bob Barr, and Chuck Baldwin!

Chief James Keathley of the Missouri State Patrol issued a statement that the release of the report prompted him to "take a hard look" at the procedures through which the report was released by the MIAC.

"For that reason, I have ordered the MIAC to permanently cease distribution of the militia report. Further, I am creating a new process for oversight of reports drafted by the MIAC that will require leaders of the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Department of Public Safety to review the content of these reports before they are shared with law enforcement. My office will also undertake a review of the origin of the report by MIAC," he ordered.

I know I’m being snarky but I hope they find their sources were entirely credible. When you take the current conservative philosophy to its conclusion you end up with this kind of extremism. What these xenophobes want is religious, social, corporate and military tyranny with no taxes.

You have to admit this whole brouhaha is pretty funny.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Winners and Losers


I was flipping through the radio dial a couple of weeks ago when I had to stop at Rush Limbaugh. He was calling our economic crisis Obama’s Recession. As if Obama was responsible for this mess.

It occurred to me that folks that take Rush seriously would certainly never be happy if everyone had economic security, adequate healthcare, and education. I’m sure this would be perceived as Socialism.

With this view there’s no way we can all be winners. Being a winner is defined by the losers. My group is worthy because yours is not. This applies to almost all social groups; Socio-economic, genetic, and especially religious.

If you’re a little more sensitive you might look at this as the haves vs. the have nots.

I’m not sure why Socialism became so frightening when clearly Fascism is the most obvious alternative. This idea should be even more frightening.

The conservatives are great at striking fear with certain words, even changing their meaning. Look at the word liberal.

 

From Merriam-Webster:

fas·cism 

Pronunciation:

\ˈfa-ˌshi-zəm also ˈfa-ˌsi-\

Function:

noun

Etymology:

Italian fascismo, from fascio bundle, fasces, group, from Latin fascisbundle & fasces fasces

Date:

1921

1often capitalized : a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition

2: a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control

 

The social, fiscal and military conservatism they preach is exactly the “Big Government” they rail against.


Photo courtesy http://free-stock-photos.com/

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Music and the Money Demographic

I've published a piece for Helium about music and the money demographic. Unfortunately it took a long time before I realized I had to give it one of their titles. I'm exhausted so I'm leaving you with only this link today.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Amnesia


When Bush first pushed for war as a reaction to the attacks of 9-11 I lived in Florissant, MO. I was totally distraught at the public enthusiasm for it.

Bush kept saying war was a last resort. People that were old enough to remember Vietnam knew it wasn’t true. In spite of the fact that we keep hearing boomers are aging and we’re the majority demographic I knew these slightly younger folks were our national conscience.

 Let’s not kid ourselves that it was about a terror threat. Bush was taking advantage of our collective outrage to push for a totally unrelated war.

We really need to expose the crimes of his administration. Unfortunately accountability looks like partisan retribution so we have to let it go. It’s doomed to happen again!

I have mixed feelings about our collective amnesia. On the one hand war, instead of diplomacy, seems to be our answer to every dispute. On the other hand a younger public will vote in a black president without a thought to how extraordinary this is.

Younger voters aren’t carrying the same mental baggage. It appears reason might finally set in. But you know war will always come back.

I’ve been listening to Republican strategists all week on the radio. They’ve been reacting to Rush Limbaugh’s rants and Obama’s huge stimulus. It still sounds like a bunch of aging white men to me and this demographic is growing smaller.

They kept using the word socialism like it will stir fear in our souls. The younger demographic doesn’t share their fear. Big government is the other catch phrase. I think people realize government means us. Of course we have to pay attention to our actions but big government is reality.

It’s really just a matter of what kind of big government you want. If we had the collective memory we should, we’d see their alternative to socialism is fascism defined by corporate control, a huge military, religious paranoia, and xenophobia.

What defines the Republican Party? Fiscal conservatism, social morality, military strength. Nice, simple qualities that are easy to manipulate a group with.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Rock 'N' Roll


My ex just bought tickets for Coldplay at the Riverport amphitheater. She’s taking our kids for their birthdays. A $20.00 handling fee plus mandatory paid parking were added to the already ridiculous charges. The handling fee is for each ticket! The folks that always hated rock and roll have subverted it from within. Live Nation/Ticket Masters are the enemy.

Valerie and I went there to see Radiohead. It was terrible. It was like being in the temple of moneychangers. I wanted to throw them all out and it’s not just my Jesus complex.

I know with the free exchange of digital music live shows are the only way bands can make money but this is ridiculous. It’s become totally corrupt.

You pay $8.00 for a beer and rent chairs for lawn seating. You used to bring coolers and whatever else you wanted to places like the Mississippi River Festival at SIUE. There was a strong sense of underground community. This community would change the world.

My first concert was Joan Baez at the River Festival. Everyone was great. I must have been 11. I kept wondering what that strange smell was. I probably got a contact high.

But the man wanted control. I think control really is the issue. “Just imagine if sex and drugs got so out of hand that society collapsed. We’d be living in caves. We’ll have to put a lid on this and squeeze every dime out of it while we’re at it.”

I guess the kids grew up and became the establishment. It must be the path of least resistance.

This is our fault. My kids both have every kind of guitar and amp imaginable. We used to just fantasize about them. I think the strenuous pursuit of your dreams is very important and I feel guilty that my kids will never know that hunger.

Kim and I took the kids to the Point birthday party at the Family Arena in St. Charles. I couldn’t believe the flag waving gratuitous tributes to our troops from every band. Buck Cherry even performed To Drunk to F#ck by the Dead Kennedys. Is Jello Biafra hip to this? What a bunch of republicans! Where’s the outrage? What are we teaching our kids? Rock ‘N’ Roll has turned into a cartoon.

There are venues for oldsters like us. Smaller acts at local clubs and places like The Pageant. Open drug use is a thing of the past except you can still catch a whiff at the teen events. I wish I could see Radiohead at a smaller venue. I wish the big acts would boycott places like Ticket Master. I wish there was reason.

Pic is The Mississippi River Festival. It seems like I saw a hundred acts there.