Monday, September 2, 2013

Heartless, uninformed conservatives, please read this:

"The Eight Most Dumped-On Americans" by Paul Buchheit.

Maybe after reading the information in the article you will develop some empathy, compassion, and civic responsibility.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Armed intervention in Syria by the U.S. is an appallingly stupid idea.

I oppose any U.S. military intervention in Syria.

Yes, some people were killed with chemical weapons, but are their deaths any more important than the 100,000+ that proceeded them?

A bullet in the guts, or Sarin nerve gas, does it matter?

It matters to propagandists who want to push the country into another war in the Middle East. It gives them an emotional button to push that the American public in its infinite amnesia and gullibility will surely respond to.

And remember, we don't even know for sure who used the chemical weapons! Could have been rebel forces, for all we know. Our ignorance of the facts never stopped us before, and it won't stop the U.S. this time either.

I predict that hawks from both wings of the corporate party (Republicans and Democrats) will easily involve us in this war. After all, the Golan Heights used to belong to Syria before the Six Day War. It is so easy to use the "we must protect Israel at any cost" argument in Congress. Our spineless corporate lackeys in Congress will do as they are told and we will be at war again. Our spineless President will go along. Expect the usual Obama speechifying.

The potential for disaster is great, with few benefits for anyone except weapons manufacturers. Yep, there will be lots of bombs and bullets sold.

We just went through this same scenario with Iraq. Doesn't anyone remember?

Now the Neo-Cons have their excuse, they will probably find a way to drag poor hapless Iran into the business as well as they have been dreaming of doing.

More civilians in Syria will die than ever before. U.S. money and lives will be prodigiously wasted. Very soon we will all rue this stupid involvement.

Hey Chuck Hagel, remember what your predecessor said?
“Any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should 'have his head examined,' as General [Douglas] MacArthur so delicately put it.”
Please understand, I just want to be on record publicly as being completely opposed to the stupid idea of attacking the Assad regime in Syria. I will tell you "I told you so" when this idiocy blows up in everyone's face.

General Dynamics's vote counts. Lockheed's vote counts. I am an American Citizen and a veteran, but my vote doesn't count.

What happened to the United States of America? When will the American people stand up and stop their insane government? Democracy and Empire are incompatible. We must stop our aggressions. As MLK said, "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today" is the United States Government. It's as true today as when he said it at the Riverside Church on April 4, 1967.

I am against the violence we do, and I don't give a goddamn what excuse the media tries to feed me to justify it. Violence begets violence. It has ever been so.

If America wants to do something to help Syria, why the hell don't we really do something that would be a sincere effort, like sending medical teams to help the wounded. Or maybe America could open its borders to the persons displaced by the Syrian conflict. Helping wounded, hungry, homeless people would be a fine thing to do, but it makes no money for our big corporate pigs who want to chow down on those tasty military appropriations in the military-industrial-congressional trough.

We won't help the victims, but we will help to increase the violence, and let me say it again: I oppose any U.S. military intervention in Syria.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I hope cooler heads prevail, for once.

Everybody should (please!) just shut up about the Boston Marathon Bombing until something concrete is known.  Stupid speculation about who did the bombing and why is going to hurt innocent people.

And no, Obama and Congress, this is not a reason to further restrict civil liberties in the United States, although that may be your immediate spastic reaction.  But the government has quite enough power already.  Let's not have another reprise of the awful Patriot Act that gutted Americans' freedoms.

Let's not go of half-cocked against anyone.  The results of doing so are never pretty and almost inevitably bring damage to ourselves. Witness the Iraq War, which was a spastic reaction an an international scale.

One lesson we could take from this bombing is a lesson about empathy.  People all over the world suffer from bombing incidents.  On Monday Democracy Now! reported "Dozens Dead in Wave of Bombings Across Iraq," and "Somalia: At Least 30 Killed in Militant Attacks."  One reads these types of reports everyday on that news site, although one rarely hears much about bombings in the rest of the world on most other outlets.  We must think about the dead and wounded, mostly innocents, in other countries.  They hurt too.  They mourn their dead and injured with a grief as deep as anything an American feels  They are human beings just like us.

Along those lines, it's time to stop U.S. sponsored attacks everywhere in the world, even if we are striking against terrorists, because when we drop a drone bomb or missile on someone in a foreign country that is not officially at war with the United States, we ourselves are the terrorists.  It's time to resort to legal means of response to illegal acts against Americans.  Yes, that's an old-fashioned idea.  But it used to work pretty well, and it will work in the present case.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Taxmageddon is upon us! It's the Fiscal Cliff!

Seems too late to stop us from going over the fiscal cliff. Good, say I.

The fiscal cliff, or better, the fiscal bluff (don't know who coined that, but it is much better than the idea of a sudden drop off that ‘fiscal cliff’ brings to mind, and it also calls up the idea of a poker bluff, which I like) is more likely because because negotiations to avoid going over the bluff or cliff or whatever have broken down due to John Boehner's House having gone home.

Both sides, of course, wanted very badly to screw the common man in favor of their rich campaign donors and the various lobbying interests, especially President Obama with his bunk about a "Grand Bargain." As part of this vaunted grand bargain our taxes would supposedly be maintained at the present level for rates lower than $250K and would go back to Clinton era levels on those earning more than that amount. However, there was much uncertainty. Obama expressed himself willing to cut Social Security through the chained CPI scheme (it is a CUT) and to move the level of increase in tax rates to $400K. Then Nancy Pelosi made similar noises, after having said Social Security was off the table—these people are absolutely shameless. Who knows what else Obama would betray in order to get his cherished deal donethe sky is probably the limit, given Obama's history, but it looks like we may have been saved again as we were saved in 2010 by the very hard right's unwillingness (thanks Tea Party whack jobs) to go along with any kind of raising of taxes on their cherished rich.

So, John Boehner responded to the President's offers by proposing his now famous Plan B, in which he insisted that tax rates increase at a threshold of $1M. This was unacceptable to his radical hothead hard right extremists and they voted against it in the House, defeating the idea. Since Boehner was publicly embarrassed by his own display of incompetence as a speaker (I guess he can't count votes too good, the dummy) the House Republicans have decided to take their ball and go home.


Fine. The package of Bush Tax cuts will sunset tonight at midnight (December 31, 2012). Tax rates will go back to the Clinton era levels, with the highest marginal income tax rate being 39.6 percent. The highest marginal income tax right now is 35 percent, so this metric will change by 4.6 percent.

Other things in the Bush Tax cut package will go away tonight too, such as Bush's changes favoring wealthy people through the estate tax and by lowering capital gains tax rates.

Estate taxes are good because they prevent the development of a wealthy aristocracy of inherited wealth here in what is ostensibly a nation based on merit and personal initiative; the estate tax will go back to the Clinton era levels of taxation.

The capital gains tax rate will rise from 15% back to the Clinton era level of 20%. How can this be bad? Come on, why should money made through investing capital be taxed at a lower rate than money earned through the honest work performed by working people? There's no moral justification for the existence of the privileged tax rates our government extends to the earners of capital gains. Low capital gains taxation is favoritism by the government of one class of citizen, the wealthy, over all the other citizens who don't have enough money to earn any kind of capital gains breaks. Those kinds of breaks should be done away with entirely, but I'll take the 5% raise in rates for now.

Taxes are at their lowest level in more than 60 years, and the economy seems about to tank (that's the subject for many a 2013 post, I'll bet). Lowering taxes on corporations and rich people never increases investment in the productive sector, no matter what FOX/CBS/CNN/NBC/MSNBC and all the other lying media says. Trickle down is bunk. I'll be glad to pay my extra share of taxes starting tomorrow. I fail to see what there is to be worried about just because the Bush Tax laws sunset.

Trickle down does not work (read the report for yourself). Rich people and corporations do not create jobs. DEMAND creates jobs. Washington knows this, but Washington counts on the fact that most Americans do not understand this basic fact in order to continue enriching the rich oligarchs and their parasites in the political, media, and corporate elites.

The deal they have set up about cuts to defense on one hand and cuts to social programs on the other will now play out. They are caught a trap of their own devising. The screams will soon begin. But remember, Washington D.C. politicians set this disaster up, and they can defuse the bomb. Else they'll be hoist, as will we all, on their own petard. They had all better start thinking about the common good, or we'll soon be in the middle of a politically caused great depression.

The screaming will resound from all quarters, and we haven't even considered the phony Debt Ceiling Crisis the Republicans will soon take up anew.

Paul Krugman had this to say about that phony Debt Ceiling Crisis today:
It sure looks as if we’re going over the fiscal cliff, but that may be the least of our problems. The debt ceiling is a much bigger and more dangerous issue, and it looks very much as if Republicans are set to destroy the full faith and credit of the United States if they can’t get their way.
The key thing to remember — and what the GOP hopes you won’t understand — is that raising the debt ceiling only empowers the president to spend money that he’s authorized to spend by Congressional legislation; nothing more. Conversely, a party that refuses to raise the debt limit is saying that it’s prepared to inflict vast damage on America in order to achieve things that it couldn't achieve through actual legislation — in effect, that it’s prepared to use vandalism to subvert the constitutional process.
Emphasis added above is mine.

And so it goes . . . bienvenido a 2013, 2012 fue p├ęsimo.

Monday, December 24, 2012

What makes me so damn mad about Democrats . . .

These people leave me beside myself with anger because they are such liars about their desire to help the citizens of the United States. If they are sincere, they have a damn funny way of showing it.  Just the other day Barack Obama made noises, after having solemnly promised through his surrogate Joe Biden not to touch Social Security, about how he is OK with cutting Social Security (see, that is exactly what this chained CPI indexing scheme he was talking about will do, it's a CUT), and then we saw Nancy Pelosi follow along with him, after she herself had come out against monkeying with Social Security.

They have sold out, but as usual. they've sold us out to a lesser degree than the Republicans.

Democrats have the advantage right now in their dealings with the Republicans about the so-called Fiscal Cliff.  Now we all, as followers of the news, should understand that the fiscal cliff is a fiscal bluff, a manufactured crisis that is to be used to screw the average man out of even more money in favor of the oligarchs.  I don't want to get into that here, it's already been discussed to death about how this is strategy right out of the pages of Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine.

On to my point about what makes me so damn mad about Democrats, it's really simple, when the Democrats have the advantage, they NEVER press it.

Look here, if the question is Medicare, for example, the Republicans' position is clear, they want to eliminate or at least cut Medicare, but knowing they can't get anyone to go along with outright elimination or even an honestly named cut, they push for things like raising the eligibility age.  The Democrats on the other side of the bargaining table hem and haw and say they might be amenable to raising the age eligibility.  Understand, the Democrats have the advantage.  Here's what makes me go nuts:  You NEVER NEVER, NOT EVER hear a Democrat say the obvious thing, which is "No, I don't think so, but here's my counter-offer, let's LOWER the eligibility age to 50 years old!"  You just never will hear this at all, not ever, not even one damn time.

It makes me nuts!  If you or I were playing poker with these weak, weak, cowardly Democrats (Barack Obama, I am talking right to you) either of us would clean their pockets out in short order.

Look here Obama, Biden, Pelosi, and Reid, when the Republicans ask for cuts to social security, you say "NO, what we Democrats want is a RAISE to benefits and PERMANENT solvency to the Social Security program, and we are going to get it by REMOVING THE CAP completely to the maximum taxable earnings amount.  We want ALL taxpayers of ALL income levels to contribute into Social Security, and we are not taking no for an answer! And furthermore, don't ever bring up Social Security in the context of balancing the budget!  You KNOW it has absolutely nothing to do with budget deficits, so shut up about it for once and for all."

That is how you let Republicans know where you stand.  You don't chicken out and throw the negotiations to the enemy at the first sign of resistance, like dear leader Obama does at the beginning of every deal with Boehner and McConnell.

Do Democrats think Americans are stupid?  I've  been around a long time.  I've seen real negotiators, guys like LBJ and Nikita Khrushchev.  I know the difference.  Obama, you are no LBJ.

I am disgusted with Democratic weakness and with lesser-of-the-two-evils politics.  I am sick of being played for a chump.

Update:  This is excellent, especially the laws posted at the beginning of the post: Are you enjoying the “good cop, bad cop,” kabuki theater of the absurd?

Update II: A Brief History of Conservatism.  The deficit BS examined by Driftglass.  The comments are as good as the post.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The World Ends Today . . .

. . . According to the lunatic fringe and to their accomplices and abettors in our media.

BS is rampant in our world, and it may spell real doom if people continue to believe in stupidities like the Mayan Prophesy of the End of the World, or the second coming of Christ and the Resurrection.

People had better start understanding that we are biological machines, life forms living through lucky chance in a backwater of a vast universe which cares not about any of us individually nor all of us collectively.

We are alive for a short span of time, and we had better make the best of it while it lasts. Appreciate what you really are and what your fellow humans really are.  Realize you have one life to live, and after you die there will be nothing remaining of you except the memory of you in the brains of your fellow humans.

The ephemeral nature of our existence is what gives it value.  Because we won't be here one day soon, we should understand better the value of each of our living, dwindling moments.  If one really understands this idea many good things can come of it.

If one understands that each life is unique and unrepeatable and of short duration, one must see that taking a life is a crime against the victim of unimaginably evil proportions.  Everything that the victim has, was, or is, wiped out in a flash of the deepest immorality, an immorality that can be clearly understood not through the supposed wishes of some fictional god but by the clear intelligence of the human conscience, a conscience developed through millions of years of Darwinian evolution. Our human conscience reveals the evil done and we recoil from it because through the human value of empathy we apply the losses suffered by the victim of the crime to our own selves. We then understand down to the marrow of our bones the magnitude of depravity that is required in order to kill a fellow human being.

The idea can be applied further, to theft, for is not a theft a killing of a portion of the other's invested time?  That time is lost, and the value cannot be used for furtherance of any of the victim's goals.

The principle applies to violations and injuries of all kinds such as rape, maiming, enslavement, and all the lesser crimes.

These thoughts came to humans in the prehistory of our development, and the golden rule came out of these moral constructions.  The golden rule springs from understanding the inevitability of death and from our power of empathy.  The morality that is ascribed to religions comes from our prehistoric development of golden rule thinking.  Religion got its morality from humankind, not from any supposed god or other imaginary super being.  Even the gods, all of them, sprang from the human brain.

You don't need a Bible, or a Koran, or a Talmud or any other dusty old tome.  Dylan said you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows, and you certainly don't need a preacher, priest, rabbi, or imam to know what's right and what's wrong. Use your brain, that's what you have it for.  Stop believing in magical thinking and wishing for what ain't so to be true.   All gods are fictionsif you claim otherwise, prove your case.  Accept your human nature and accept the physical realities of the universe.

Don't allow yourself to be fooled by charlatans who want to use your own ignorance against you. Develop your bullshit detector, and think for yourself.

There is great beauty and solace to be found in reality.  Our world is a beautiful place, let us cherish and protect every aspect of it.  Let us cherish and protect the humans and other animals.  Let us cherish and protect all living beings and the all elements of our natural world: our air, water and soil.

Let us put stupidity and ignorance behind us and let us advance from the infancy of our present state of development as a species to a state of maturity from which we can be proper stewards of our world and no longer be the implements of its despoilment and eventual destruction.

Everything about morality comes from two factors.  Those factors are the realization of our own impermanence and from empathy  Think about it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

How they cover up the crimes . . . and what to do about GUNS.

How they cover up the crimes:

HSBC commits its horrendous worldwide crimes, but then as if by magic, a terrible thing happens in America totally unrelated to the HSBC mess.  Since this new thing is so horrific and riveting (Terror Porn, as David Feldman so aptly described it), all eyes are drawn to the spectacle.  The media, almost as if complicit in HSBC's desire for everyone's eyes to look elsewhere, directs all attention at the new story and the American Public drops its attention from the HSBC crime story and moves on, completely forgetting about HSBC.

Twenty small children and six teachers murdered is a tragedy of national importance, but don't let the media do to the HSBC story what it always does to stories about crime and corruption among our elites.  Don't let your attention be diverted.  Keep your eye on the ball while you follow both stories.

We have to stop allowing elites to escape the consequences of their crimes.

Politicians, Bankers and white collar types who commit crimes are CRIMINALS.  They must not be allowed to escape retribution.

If we allow two scales of law, one for everyday people and one for the special elites, the American idea and all the fine things it brings with it will die as dead as any of those poor little children gunned down by that maniac in Connecticut.

What to do about GUNS:

As for guns, well, I have made my opinion clear in previous posts, but let me restate it here.

  • Guns must be totally regulated.
  • Guns sales must be done only by licensed and inspected firearms dealers, dealers subject to Federal, State, and Local inspection and sanction.  Random inspections will be done, apart from the initial inspections needed to establish a business.
  • You must have a licence in order to possess a gun.
  • You must pass Federal, State, and Local competency examinations to ensure your mental and physical ability to safely operate a weapon (that's right THREE levels of checks and if you fail one, NO LICENCE and NO WEAPON.
  • You have to be thoroughly trained in gun use and safety before you get a licence. You have to pass a thorough course and be tested on your knowledge just like getting a licence to drive.
  • You can't carry the gun in certain places.
  • The gun itself has to be inspected, and it must conform to many regulations pertaining to its safety and use.
  • Guns of all types should be limited to 6 rounds.  No semi-automatic weapons should be allowed--that means each round must be enabled by physical action.  This means you have to cock the damn thing to prepare each round.  No machine-enabled firing allowed, period.
  • All existing semi-automatic weapons in the hands of the public must be turned in or confiscated where necessary.  If a semi-automatic weapon is used in a crime, the crime should automatically be raised to a Federal crime, with severe penalties for even the first infraction.

That ought to do to start.

You may get the idea I don't like guns.  You'd be right.  And by the way, I am not some ignorant liberal who knows nothing about weapons.  I spent 28 years in the military and I have fired all the weapons we had in the Coast Guard, from a .45 caliber pistol up to a 5"/38 cannon.

Guns are useful for only one thing, and that's killing.  I have had a bellyfull of violence and it's time it stopped.

Use your brain, America.  This ain't a wild west romance, this is real life and your very existence, or the existence of someone you love is ON THE LINE.

NRA, we are coming for you bastards.

Good Ideas Seen About What to Do:
. . .  I like the idea of a ban on assault weapons (seems like a slam dunk) combined with mandatory liability insurance for all remaining legal guns. Let the insurance companies (who will have to pay steep claims if someone gets hurt or killed) determine who it wants to insure.  by paulpsd7, FRIDAY, DEC 21, 2012 11:30 AM CST on Salon.

. . . " Why doesn't the US Attorney General just get it over with and declare the NRA a terrorist hate group? They certainly have no solutions to the problem other than to make more money for the gun manufacturers and incite even more violence." . . . IconDaemon, FRIDAY, DEC 21, 2012 11:36 AM CST, also on Salon.

I propose that (along with assault weapon ban) guns be licensed with each gun requiring liability insurance. The NRA could handle the insurance but be responsible for the payout if an person kills with an uninsured gun. Give them an incentive to be responsible.  by sister h, FRIDAY, DEC 21, 2012 11:17 AM CST, Salon