Tuesday, November 30, 2010

No Bread? Let Them Eat...Nothing

It appears that unemployment benefits are going to run out for some two million Americans within about a month, courtesy of Republicans. This is in addition to the so-called 99’ers previously shut out. Republicans say we just can’t afford these unemployment benefits, a claim that might have some credibility were it not for the fact that at the same time they want to extend tax cuts for the filthy rich at a cost of 700 billion dollars. I would think that in any sane society this would be regarded for what it is, hypocritical greed peppered with an unconscionable lack of empathy. Alas, American society at the moment cannot be characterized as sane. The idea that American multi-millionaires and billionaires either need or deserve further tax breaks is an idea so basically insane it should not even be discussed.

But not only is it apparently being discussed, there is some reason to believe that President Obama and the Democrats are actually willing to compromise in some way. This is even more insane. I confess I cannot understand what any of these people are thinking. On the Republican side, what do they think they will accomplish by refusing to extend benefits? Certainly they can’t reasonably expect these people, thrown to the wolves, to vote Republican? I detect in this a belief that voters are increasingly just not going to matter, that elections will be under control as they seem to have increasingly been in the past few years. Aside from their votes, what do Republicans think is going to happen to all these people, unemployed, with little or no food, no benefits, no homes, no hope for the future? Is the U.S. going to revert back to a kind of feudalism, with a few Lords on top with all the wealth and the overwhelming mass of humanity reduced to serfdom? It does seem we are on our way to that previous condition. Republicans seem to be doing everything they can to bring about such a society.

What about the Democrats? And what about Obama? Are they truly so spineless as to defer to Republican wishes even before they have to do so? Why should they compromise on tax cuts for the wealth when they have the American public on their side and could simply force the issue? Obama in particular seems unable to grasp the basic fact that Republicans are not going to compromise with him on anything. Obama is not going to be allowed to have any success if Republicans can keep it from happening. President Obama has always seemed to me to be an unusually intelligent and thoughtful person, why cannot he understand this basic fact? Is it perhaps that he really isn’t up to the job? I totally reject the view that his behavior has anything to do with his race, but it may well have to do with his personality and his desire to always compromise if possible. On the other hand, it may be that he is basically just another politician that will tend to go with the power, and we all know where the power resides these days.

Fortunately, much of it doesn’t seem to be connected very closely to John McCain. DADT is well on the way to being history, but of course not if McCain could have his way. His way seems to be pretty simple, if Obama wants it, McCain doesn’t want it. He was in favor of abolishing DADT, now he’s against doing away with it, he said he would wait for the military to take a position and agree to that, they have now spoken, but he still hasn’t given up in his opposition. He wanted a study, it’s now complete, but now he wants another study of the study. I personally believe McCain has become increasingly senile in the past couple of years, but if that is not the case, his positions can only be seen as denying Obama any success at all. This is not very patriotic, but, then, neither was his witless choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate. I think it is sad but true that McCain, once regarded as a kind of super patriot, has such little respect for his country he is willing to risk it for his own petty goals.

Someone just asked me what he might invest in for the future, like, say, 20 years from now. The only thing that sprang readily to mind was Funeral Homes. I guess I had better give more thought to this question. I know that many people are terribly concerned about the birthrates that seem to be dropping badly over most of the world, some of them so low as to make recovery virtually impossible. Obviously this is a problem, but I think the basic problem is more interesting, why are birthrates declining so precipitously? Feminism, birth control, and working mothers might be part of the problem in the U.S., but can that be true in much of the rest of the world? I wonder.


The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

Robert Frost

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Ultimate Absurdity

Ghana has decided to
enforce its ban on the
selling of used underwear.

I don’t usually comment on these tidbits but if people in Ghana are too poor to afford new underwear what’s with the countries that sell their used underwear? Are they so poor they have to sell their used underwear or so rich they sell it for even more profit?

Anyway, I think we have now reached the absolutely, positively, disgustingly, disturbingly, unbelievably, fantastically, ridiculously, lowest, and stupidly absurd point in American government ever. We are actually debating (or at least considering) continuing tax breaks for the obscenely wealthy 2% of the American public. On the one hand is a proposal to extend unemployment benefits for some two million Americans who are out of work, a plan that is known to be the best way to help stimulate the economy. Republicans are opposed to this unless it is “paid for” (presumably by cuts elsewhere in the budget. On the other hand is a proposal to continue tax breaks for the richest 2% of the population, all multi-millionaires or billionaires, tax breaks t that are known to be the least productive way to stimulate the economy, but would not have to be paid for. In the first case the ext ended unemployment benefits would cost a few hundred million dollars and would return more than the cost, in the second case it would cost some 700 billion dollars to be added to the deficit and would return little or nothing. What is absurd about this is that it is even being discussed or debated, and worse than that, it seems Democrats are willing to consider some form of compromise! These tax cuts for the wealthy (and others) were regarded as so questionable or desirable the only way they passed In the first place is with the understanding they would expire in ten years. Ten years is up. Let them expire. They never should have been allowed to begin with. Tax cuts for the middle class might well be a good idea to help stimulate the economy, tax breaks for the filthy rich are absurd. No compromise! None! Let Republicans try to defend their unconscionable greed.

Wikileaks. Of course I don’t know what all is involved in these leaks. Perhaps they are as threatening and awful as some would have us believe. But what I have seen about it so far doesn’t seem to amount to much. That is, is anyone surprised that our Secretary of State would seek information about other leaders? Is anyone surprised that the Arabs and Israel would like to see Iran neutralized? Is it really a big deal that Khadafi travels with a “voluptuous blond Ukrainian? The only thing I have seen so far that surprised me in the least is that China is apparently not so keen on North Korea and might not object to a unified Korean state. But even that is probably just one person’s report. These are apparently personal e-mails from diplomats around the world, and no doubt some of them might be embarrassing, but so far they seem to me to be pretty benign.

I thought I had seen somewhere there were supposedly enough votes to repeal DADT, but maybe not. What an example of complete and total waste of time. There seems to be little doubt that DADT is going to be repealed, that a majority of the public is in favor of repealing it, the military (except for the Marines) is in favor, Obama is in favor, Gates is in favor, and on and on, but it is still being opposed by none other than John McCain and his trusty sidekick Lindsey Graham (who may be himself a closet Gay). McCain is apparently still sore about having lost to Obama, has changed his position on this issue, and who has now likened Sarah Palin to Ronald Reagan! I think McCain has become increasingly senile over the past few years, why anyone still listens to him (or Gingrich) I do not understand. I guess one of the beauties of free speech is that no matter how stupid or hypocritical or dishonest or deceitful or “beyond the pale” you are, the MSM will give you an audience.

I see now that at least one spokesperson for the Tea Party thinks we should only allow people to vote who own property. Now there’s an idea whose time has come!

It is wise to remember that you are one of those who can be fooled some of the time.
Laurence J. Peter

Bedbugs can live for a year without feeding.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Visitor - movie

I virtually never watch movies, mostly because so many of them are so terrible. But because my wife previews movies to see if she can use them in various courses she teaches, I happened to see this one. I must say it has helped to restore my faith in the potential of movies. I am surprised such a movie was even made these days. But finsihed in 2007, directed by Thomas McCarthy, no one is raped, stabbed, shot, beaten, tortured, blown up, drowned, poisoned, or kidnapped. There is no violence and no sex. So, you might wonder, what else is there these days?

In this case there is a basically simple story made a bit complicated by the disparate characters, a widowed and bored Professor of Economics (Richard Jenkins), a Syrian musician (Haas Sleiman), his mother (Hiam Abbass), and his young Senegalese wife (Danai Gurira), who creates and sells jewelry in various open markets. The Professor, who has maintained an apartment in New York for many years but has not used it for a long time, returns there to find, much to his surprise, a young couple living (squatting) there. After some initial confusion he befriends them and becomes involved in their lives.

The Professor, whose wife was apparently a fine pianist, has tried to learn to play the piano, has gone through several teachers, but has no talent for it. It turns out, however, that he not only is attracted to African drums (the Djembe), but does have a talent for playing them. His Syrian visitor begins to teach him and he is an eager student. Unfortunately, an incident in the subway results in the arrest of his visitor who is jailed in Queens. Although the Professor attempts to help him, it turns out he is an illegal alien and nothing much can be done for him. While he is imprisoned the Professor is trying to help him, the mother shows up and in spite of his pleas for her to return to Michigan she refuses and is also befriended by the Professor who becomes attracted to her. The young man is deported and in a highly emotional scene the mother confesses she had thrown away a letter she should not have and thus insured his deportation. She vows to go to Syria to be with her son even though it means she can never return to the U.S. or the Professor. You are left to imagine whatever you wish about their future.

What makes this such a wonderful film is not the story or the ending, but the casting and the performances of the actors. Richard Jenkins is superb as the Professor, beginning to find life again with the drums and his commitment to the others (he was nominated for an Oscar). Haas Sleiman is exceptional as the drummer, enthusiastic and eager to teach the Professor how to drum. Danai Gurira, a young Black actress out of NYU, is convincing as the loving but frightened and concerned wife, and Hiam Abbass, an experienced and very sucessful actress is superb as the mother. How this cast comes together and presents a convincing and emotionally powerful performance is almost magical. It is above all a story of human relationships, of love and commitment, and how quickly such relationships can form and grow in intensity. It demonstrates what a good director, a decent script, and a wonderful cast can do even without tons of gunpowder, sleaze, and sex. Although movies are not my genre of either expertise or choice I would highly recommend this one to all.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Obama and Race

Bubblehead: I hadn’t considered shutting down the sun. What a great idea, the perfect solution for global warming.

I first brought up the problem of paradigm shifts in a blog of August 29, 2008 when I suggested that if Obama (a black man) was elected President of the U.S. it would be a fifth great blow to the ego of Western-Europeans because of their fundamental beliefs about white superiority. I wrote about it again when the paradigm actually shattered on November 5, 2008. I wrote about it once again on June 11, 2009, and finally again on August 12, 2009, suggesting the election of a black man would be far more difficult, important, and problematical than most would realize because it struck so deeply at the dominant paradigm Western-Europeans held for so many years. I mention it here now because I think I underestimated the problems it would bring and because I think it may help to explain the strange situation Obama faces at the moment, namely that he is under attack from both sides of the political spectrum and nothing he does seems to please anyone.

First, I cannot understand the unbelievable resistance to anything Obama has attempted to do. At first, when Republicans announced they would be the party of “no,” I assumed this was merely because Republicans did not like Obama’s agenda, but now, when they have turned against proposals they themselves originated, obviously just because Obama now wants them, it became obvious to me there is more to this than I suspected. I also find it difficult to understand the hysterical fit they seem to be throwing over “Obamacare” and socialism. Obama is so far from being a socialist this constant accusation is laughable. And as far as health care is concerned the same people that want to repeal it happily accept Medicare. Furthermore Obamacare has left intact the worst feature of American health care, the absurd control of it by private insurance companies, a result its critics should love. Then there is the refrain on the part of many, perhaps best expressed by Rand Paul and other Tea Party members, “We want to take our country back.” It is not clear at all to me what this can mean. If they mean to take it back from the corporations that now control it (a noble aspiration) they should certainly not be upset with Obama who is more or less attempting to do the same thing. If they mean to take it back from those who damaged it so badly they, again, should not be critical of Obama who is literally being forced to attempt to do just that. A white man has just been arrested for threatening to kill Obama, “for what he has done to our country.” He has done nothing to our country except try to save it in spite of being opposed at every turn by the same people who are accusing him of not doing anything. Much of this kind of criticism seems to cling to the notion that he is leading us down the road to socialism, an absolutely thoughtless criticism when you consider the already socialist aspects of our culture (post office, public schools, Medicare, agricultural subsidies, etc.). Now Republicans are even trying to sabotage the new START treaty, an unprecedented development, again seemingly for no purpose other than to oppose Obama. While we cannot overlook the obvious and blatant racism involved by some of the Tea Party crowd and others, much of which is no longer even being denied, this anti-Obama sentiment (even hatred) seems to me to be a much more fundamental form of racism, one that touches on the very psyche of Western-Europeans. Obama cannot be allowed to succeed in any way because every success would be a threat to their most fundamental beliefs about racial differences and competence. Blacks are just not believed to be as intelligent or competent as Whites, a belief that runs through all of American culture and has been seen at all levels of our society. For years black athletes were not allowed to compete with whites because it was (falsely) believed they were not as good. When the color line was finally broken by Jackie Robinson, blacks were not believed competent to manage clubs, there was great resistance to black quarterbacks for years, and black coaches are a recent development. Of course blacks have been discriminated against for years, are believed to not perform as well as whites on I.Q. tests and other academic endeavors. The history of discrimination against Black people is well known. It has not disappeared entirely even now, and however unconscious even in those who protest they are not racists, it still exists. I believe if you probe deeply into the minds of Western-European White people you will find, however deeply embedded, and however much denied, a fundamental belief in white superiority, not only over blacks but also over Latinos, Asians, and others. In a sense this is understandable I think, as ethnocentrism seems to be characteristic of our species. Most individuals believe their way of life, as well as their ethnic makeup is better than others.

This same insidious belief exists on the “left” and among “Progressives” as well as on the “right,”, although it is expressing itself differently. Obama is criticized for being too much like Bush and continuing Bush policies. He is condemned for not doing enough to bring about the changes he promised, for not closing Guantanamo, doing away with DADT, stopping the “wars,” supporting the banks and Wall Street, caving in too easily to Republicans, refusing to stand up for his beliefs, and in general not providing the leadership he should. Some of these criticisms may well be valid, but it seems to me they do not fairly understand what Obama has had to face in the form of Republican opposition or just how difficult it is to change Washington and Congress. Actually Obama has accomplished a great deal in the way of passed legislation, far more than can be mentioned here, far more than most Presidents have managed in their first two years, and mostly positive for the well-being of the nation. Here the insidious and fundamental belief about blacks has begun to surface as “maybe Obama is just not up to the job, maybe someone should run against him.” Soros verbalized this quite clearly when he recently said just that, and that “if he can’t do the job we’ll have to look elsewhere.” You might argue this is not because of racism but do you think the same things would be said if a White President was in the same position? I doubt it. I don’t know if anyone will challenge Obama in 2012, nor do I know who the Republicans will pick as their candidate, but you can be certain that whoever they pick will immediately become (however unstated) “The Great White Hope.” Republicans have already begun to pick their champion, Progressives may decide (badly) they have to do the same thing. Obama is in an impossible situation. On the one hand Republicans cannot let him succeed without having to abandon their cherished belief in their superiority, on the other hand Progressives are demanding he accomplish the impossible and do it immediately, and if he can’t he isn’t up to the job. I will not be around to see it, but I would not be surprised to see history report that Obama would have been a truly great President if only he hadn’t been Black.

Incidentally, the great white hope will almost certainly not be female, as the basic paradigm, still apparently resistant to significant change, relegates women to the same basic inadequacies as non-whites and children, and they, too, are still fighting for a place at the top. It is interesting to note that younger people, having been more exposed to integration and racial mixing than older Americans, seem not to have internalized the basic paradigm of white superiority to the same degree, and were much more supportive of Obama than older people. Their failure to support Obama and Democrats in the recent election probably stems more from their disappointment in general with what has been accomplished than from a belief in racial inferiority, and perhaps their disappointment at learning their elders tend to have “feet of clay” and suffer from spinelessness.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wasting Time

Tomorrow will be the annual pre-genocide feast otherwise known as Thanksgiving. You know, the time the Indians (naively) helped the Whites get through the first difficult years of life in the “New World.” I know, I know, some will accuse me of being a “guilty white liberal,” and while I am more than liberal and certainly all white I feel no guilt about this. Why should I? I wasn’t even born and had nothing whatsoever to do with it. Of course I do feel guilty about the fact that in the 21st century there are people, especially children, going hungry and without homes in this “greatest nation on earth,” but that is for another time.

It seems to me we are just wasting time. Can there be any doubt that DADT is going to be repealed, if not in the next month, certainly in the near future, so why the stalling and fussing around about something that is widely known to be inevitable?

And why all the continuing argument about extending the tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires? This is an idea so fundamentally ridiculous it needs no further discussion. There is no valid reason whatsoever to give tax breaks to the upper 2% of our population, especially when we would have to go a further 700 billion dollars in debt to do so. This is not worthy of any further attention and if Democrats go along with it they will surely be finished as a serious political force. Any further discussion of this is a waste of time.

Then there is the START treaty that virtually everyone in the world wants ratified, and soon, except a few Republicans who have no truly sensible opposition other than their continued desire to force Obama to fail completely at everything (he’s black, you know). It seems to me this will inevitably have to be ratified and any further obstruction is just a waste of time. The current and serious problems facing our country at the moment, both domestic and international, are far too important to be held up by further Republican stalling, obfuscation, and unfounded objections designed for purely political reasons.

Now, with apologies to Bill Maher, and because I feel cranky and out-of-sorts, I would like to make a plea for “Old Rules” rather than his recurring take on “New Rules.” First, golf balls should be white. Until not long ago they were always white, not orange or pink or lavender, just white. That is as it should be. Second, food should be either, baked, roasted, or braised, not “Broasted.” The word “read” should be kept a verb, not made into a noun (the word “fuck,” likewise). Marshmallows should be kept far away from sweet potatoes and hot chocolate, hominy grits and okra should be kept in the South. Famous books should not be abridged, Valentine’s Day should be eliminated entirely, and Christmas should be restricted at least to only the month of December. Fine books should not be shelved unless the cellophane covers have been removed, ordinary tools and objects such as padlocks, hinges, screws and nails, should not be encased in hard to penetrate plastic coverings, beer should only come in bottles (or buckets), and the color pink should be abolished. “Man” should not be used as a term of address, the description “cute” should be restricted to only refer to baby animals, the word “potty” should be allowed only to very small children. Songs like “Tie a Yellow Ribbon..” and “You Light Up My Life,” should not be allowed more than once a year. Television commercials should not be allowed to run for more than, say, one month at the very most, and pharmaceutical ads should not be allowed at all. Diamonds should be marketed simply as “pretty rocks of little value,” genetically modified foods should not be permitted, bovine growth formulas should be eliminated, and nuclear energy should be abolished entirely. I could continue but enough is often more than enough. Suspend all thought and have a happy holiday.


“The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.”

Anatole France

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Wanna Buy a Rat?

One thousand rats
up for adoption
in California.

If I were not so old I would definitely go back to school and study economics and business. There are obviously mysterious things about the dismal science and business I do not understand. I was never very good at basic arithmetic, and anything beyond that is a complete mystery to me. Similarly, I know next to nothing about business. Even so, I do not hesitate to comment on these apparently strange and mysterious fields.

You must have seen today that Businesses (Corporations) in the last quarter (the 3rd quarter of this business year) made more profit than at any time in the 60 year history of keeping records of such things, profits in the one trillion six hundred plus billion dollar range. Not bad, huh? Interestingly enough, however, they are still complaining that President Obama is “the most anti-business President” ever. In fact business has thrived ever since Obama has been in office. And, of course, he has supported the banks, the auto industry, and business in general ever since he was elected, to the point that he has been, and continues to be, harshly criticized by his own Democratic “base.” But never mind this hypocritical ingratitude, there is a more important issue here (I think).

At the very moment that business has turned in record profits, and Wall Street has been rising for some time now, we still have the problem of unemployment. People are asking why, if business is so good, are there no jobs, and no jobs being created? My apparently simple-minded understanding of this leads me to believe the answer to that question is really quite simple, the success of business and employment are diametrically opposed to each other. If business is enjoying record profits they must be doing the right thing, that is, employing the requisite number of employees they need. If they were to employ more workers than they need it would cut down on their profits, so, being sensible businesspersons, they don’t do that. Businesses also succeed by keeping the cost of employment down. That is, the less they have to pay workers the more profit they can expect. Thus our international corporations that can find cheaper labor elsewhere (overseas) naturally go there, it’s just good business. Many of the jobs that were formerly held by Americans are now held by foreign workers, and, in many cases, because of our shameful neglect of education, foreign workers are also more highly qualified for those jobs. So, my simple-minded analysis of this issue tells me that you cannot have monumental business success and profits while at the same time employing surplus labor.

In the current human situation there are obviously more workers available than there are jobs for them. There are different solutions to this problem. In many countries you can find these surplus people neglected and living in shacks, going hungry and barely staying alive, on the outskirts of the large urban areas. In a few countries there are maintained certain basic levels of existence for everyone, provided by their governments, variously described as welfare systems or more often than not, socialism. Here in the U.S. socialism has come to have such a negative connotation it seems not to be a solution considered, and welfare is considered even more undesirable. In a few countries the problem is partly alleviated by cutting down the hours individuals have to work, insisting they take longer vacations, giving more time off for new parents, and so on.

Here in the U.S. we have not yet truly come to grips with the problem of unemployment, welfare, socialism, or other solutions. The Democrats for the most part tend to favor unemployment benefits, employment for all, even if it has to be artificially provided by government, and perhaps shorter work weeks, longer vacations and other means. Republicans, on the other hand, are staunchly opposed to welfare, government jobs, shorter work weeks, or anything that would help alleviate the problem. Being primitive social Darwinists they cling to the belief that surplus populations exist because workers are lazy, don’t really want to work if they can get welfare, should not be entitled to unemployment benefits beyond a minimal amount, and, I guess, should just starve and eventually disappear. Similarly, they don’t believe people should have health care if they can’t afford it, older people should provide for their own retirements and medical care, and in general should not expect any better. Some people, like me, think of Republicans pejoratively as “rats,” and know they can easily be “bought” by those very businesses they routinely help to make their obscene profits. It’s the American way.

Economics is extremely useful as a form of employment for economists.
John Kenneth Galbraith

The reticulated python can reach a length of 30 feet.

Monday, November 22, 2010

On Treason and Pack Rats

Florida woman shoots and
kills neighbor’s pet cat,
“to protect her pit bull.”

Definition of treason
1: the betrayal of a TRUST : TREACHERY

2: the offense of attempting by overt acts to overthrow the GOVERNMENT of the state to which the offender owes allegiance or to kill or personally injure the sovereign or the sovereign's family.

It seems to me the Republican resistance (opposition) to the START treaty President Obama has worked out with Russia truly exposes their blatant attempt to prevent Obama from having any successes at all, no matter what. It appears that virtually the entire world wants this treaty to be signed. Our Secretary of Defense wants it, our Secretary of State wants it, our past Secretaries of State want it, the military wants it, all our allies want it, so what’s the problem for Republicans? The basic problem is, as near as I can tell, they don’t want it because Obama wants it. I cannot see any valid reason why there should be a problem with Republican opposition except their stated aim to bring down Obama. They are apparently willing to do this even risking national security, as well as our continuing cooperative relations with Russia. Of course they say they want assurance that funding will be available for upgrading our nuclear arsenal, but is there any conceivable reason to suppose that will not be available? Can they seriously believe Obama would work to get a new START treaty but otherwise neglect our nuclear arms? This is a ridiculous assumption, just a transparent excuse. Consider the above definition of treason, “the offense of attempting by overt acts to over throw the Government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance…” Am I just plain stupid or is that not precisely what the Republicans have been doing for the past two years and are now attempting to do by their refusal to go along with a treaty that has virtually unanimous support within the U.S. and all around the world? Did they not say from the beginning of the Obama administration they would refuse to cooperate and just say “no,” which they have repeatedly done? Did Mitch McConnell not say their number one priority is to insure Obama will be a one term President? Have I been living on some other planet for the past two years? If this is not treason it is dangerously close to it. It is not just politics as usual. Never in the past has one party simply refused to cooperate entirely, even when it comes to the serious problems that face a nation or in national defense matters. All of our recent Presidents have made treaties with Russia about nuclear matters and every one of them has been ratified, usually with almost unanimous consent. I can’t believe the Republicans will not eventually have to agree to this one, but, then, how many loonies does it take to dance on the head of a pin?

But on to other important matters. I have mentioned previously, probably two or three years ago, the phenomenal growth of the storage industry (or business or whatever you want to call it). That is, if you drive around the country you cannot help but see storage units virtually everywhere, in small towns, cities, even what might be considered bergs, and sometimes even just wide spots in the road. On a recent trip I have noted with interest that, if anything, this rather strange (to me, at least) business has continued and seems to be even growing faster than ever. We are apparently becoming a nation of Pack Rats, perhaps hoarders might be a better description. Given the fact that most Americans already inhabit far more spacious housing that most of the rest of the world, why on earth do we need so much storage space? At first I thought this might just be something that happened around trailer parks where people do live in more confined spaces. But my observations indicate that although there are often storage units near such parks, there are far more of them elsewhere. Then I thought maybe this space was being constructed at such a rate to serve the needs of apartment dwellers, but unless apartment dwellers are commuting rather long distances to view their “loot” or whatever you want to call it, that explanation, too, does not seem to be valid. I confess I have not examined any of these space rentals, but the few I have happened to see open seem to be full of used appliances, furniture, cartons of various kinds, old lamps, rugs, bedding, and so forth. I don’t assume this is new stuff awaiting the day they move into even grander quarters, and if they don’t need it otherwise, why keep it hoarded away in a rented space? I just don’t get it. I realize there may be real reasons someone may need storage. College students sometimes store their stuff for the summer until they return to classes. And of course there are some spaces for storing recreational vehicles in the winter, and so on. I suppose some businesses might need additional storage for old records and stuff. But this does not account for the literally acres and acres of storage units you can see everywhere. I know this might not strike most people as being very important. Perhaps it is not. But I see it as symptomatic of our consumer driven culture with its shop til’ you drop ethos and the apparent belief that he who has the most toys wins. People are apparently buying far more stuff than they could possibly need. This in turn must have consequences for the environment and natural resources that we have used so scandalously for so long. Personally, I believe there is something intrinsically wrong with a culture that needs so much storage space.

Thank God men cannot as yet fly and lay waste the sky as well as the earth!
Henry David Thoreau

Some species of tapeworm can grow to over 100 feet.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Making Our Democracy Work - book

Making Our Democracy Work A Judge’s View, Stephen Breyer, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2010.

This is a thoughtful, well-reasoned, well-written, insightful, and highly educational book, what one would expect from a seasoned Supreme Court Justice.

As the title suggests, this is primarily a book about American democracy and how it works, or at least how it ought to work. Breyer’s more immediate focus is on the role of the Supreme Court in making things work. He points out that of the three branches of government the Judicial Branch is the weakest, because it has no police force or military force to enforce its decisions. Thus the continued acceptance of the judgments of the Court have to rely on an understanding of how it works, how it is integrated into the larger democratic process, and how it can maintain authority even in cases of unpopular decisions. The Court in previous times, especially in the early years of our nation, did not always possess the authority it has now. Breyer discusses how this increased authority has been achieved. He begins by using four of the most famous decisions: Marbury v. Madison, which first established the Court’s authority, the Cherokee Nation v. Georgia that, although a terrible decision, did established the principle that like cases need to be treated alike, and that the Court did have the power to strike down state laws that are inconsistent with the Constitution, the Dred Scott decision, arguably the worst decision ever made, and finally the Brown v. Board of Education case that did away with the argument for separate but equal facilities and led President Eisenhower to call out troops to enforce this truly unpopular decision. In these four interesting and important cases Breyer reviews the arguments and the logic involved, why they resulted as they did, and the consequences for the nation that ensued.

Breyer makes clear the Court does not operate in a vacuum, but must cooperate with and at times defer to lower courts, Congress, the Executive, and at times even to other Governmental agencies, especially in cases where those entities have more information and expertise in the matter at hand. He goes on to contrast three possible approaches to reach decisions, originalism, political, and pragmatic approaches, and the limitations and benefits of these different approaches (he clearly believes a pragmatic approach is the only sensible way to interpret the Constitution). There is an enlightening discussion of the role of Congress in enacting statutes and the Court’s role in interpreting them, followed by a lengthy discussion of the role of the Executive Branch and the agencies that represent it . Of course there are also some illuminating comments on Federal v. States Rights and the concept of subsidiarity (this insists that governmental power to deal with a particular kind of problem should rest in the hands of the smallest unit of government capable of dealing with it). Breyer discusses at some length the necessity for establishing precedent and the powerful reasons for following precedent, the doctrine of stare decisis, and why it is so rare, difficult and undesirable to change precedents.

There is also an extended discussion of the role of the Court in protecting individual liberties and how in virtually all such cases the Court has to act in concert with some other governmental institution. Breyer cites cases involving such things as free speech, unreasonable search and seizure, the right to bear arms, and others as well. He points out that values are often involved in such decisions, that is, questions of purposes and consequences that are involved in gerrymandering, race, gun rights and so on. Proportionality is also a subject that gets some attention, that is, what happens when a statute restricts one constitutionally protected interest in order to further some other important interest. His discussion of proportionality uses the Second Amendment as an example. Questions of Presidential Authority, National Security and Accountability are discussed in some detail, mostly using examples from the Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Truman administrations. These cases represent the more general question of the extent of Presidential power, especially in the case of Guantanamo.

This is a truly fine and informative book that probably should be read by everyone, especially in light of the conclusions. Breyer makes clear what has always been the basic necessity for democratic success, an educated public:

“Our democratic Constitution assumes a public that participates in the government that it creates. It also assumes a public that understands how government works. Without this public understanding, the judiciary cannot independently enforce our Constition’s liberty-protecting limits.”

“…The Constitution’s efforts to create democratic political institutions means little unless the public participates in American political life. Similarly, the Constitution’s efforts to assure a workable constitutional democracy mean little if the public freely ignores interpretations of the Constitution that it dislikes.”

It has taken a long time for the public to place complete trust and confidence in decision of the Supreme Court. This confidence has been shaken in recent years, particularly when the Court unconstitutionally installed Bush as President in the year 2000, and again, more recently, when they awarded personhood to corporations. Even so, these unpopular decisions were generally accepted by the public, although the latter one will be taken up by Congress and perhaps overridden, the proper recourse for such a case.

I must say, however, the future for our democracy does not look healthy. If support for our democratic system depends upon an educated and knowledgeable public it is not encouraging to note, as Breyer points out, that only in twenty-nine states are courses in civics or government required. There are fewer and fewer town meetings. Those who actually vote are not always even half of the electorate. Only one- third of Americans can name the three branches of government, whereas two-thirds can name a television judge on American Idol. Three-quarters of our population does not understand the difference between a judge and a legislator, and few can describe the historical purpose of the Declaration of Independence. Whereas an informed populace is an absolute requirement for an ongoing functional democracy, that is not at all desirable for those in power who are intent on preserving their positions of power and who thus prefer ignorance to knowledge. Our educational system and the value that should be placed on it have been allowed to seriously deteriorate for a long time. This is not cause for optimism.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Fear and Greed

Some say that a majority of Americans are willing to submit to body scanning and intrusive pat-downs because of the fear they have of being bombed while in an airplane. Indeed, it is widely believed that Americans, at the moment, are willing to put up with invasions of privacy, doing away with habeas corpus, the patriot act, even the imprisonment and torture of people because of their fear of terrorism. I guess the beauty of fear is that it is so irrational and easy to induce that powers that wish to produce it can easily do so. It seems to me the idea that Americans are so fearful is because we are constantly being told we need to be fearful, by the talking heads, newspapers, magazines, radio, and so on. Fear is extremely useful to those in power.

In the case of air travel is there any truly rational basis for fear. I don’t know how one would find the proper statistics about such matters but it would seem to me that your chances of being on a flight with a terrorist bomber is probably less than your chances of being struck by lightning. While it is true there have been a few cases of airlines being bombed, when considered in relation to the number of flights per year this percentage must be very slight. Does it really make sense that millions, probably even billions of passengers have had to take off their shoes because there once was one case of a terrorist trying to have a bomb in his shoe, or another case of a terrorist with some kind of bomb in his underwear. Is the threat so great that now everyone who wishes to fly has to submit to body cavity searches or nude scanners? Is it really necessary to conduct investigations of this invasive kind on little old ladies, and even small children? Is it really necessary to ban knitting needles and all liquids in excess of 3 ounces? I think this is absurd. And I also think that Osama bin Laden and his friends must be enjoying this to the utmost. They must think it is absolutely hilarious when they realize they have caused billions to remove their shoes because of one failed shoe bomber, and even more hilarious now that everyone has to be subjected to humiliating super-invasive searches. Interestingly enough, Israel, which has the greatest safety record of all, doesn’t find it necessary to conduct these searches.

Many of the things we fear seem to be completely irrational when looked at objectively. For example, when Pearl Harbor was bombed there was a fear that the Japanese might attack the West Coast of the U.S., as well as the fear that the entire Japanese population of that coast might be spies or subversives. Of course we know now that the fear of the Japanese that saw so many of them incarcerated was completely without foundation, but what of the fear of a Japanese invasion? Did anyone really consider the absolute logistical impossibility that would have been required to undertake such a mission? Does anyone believe, even now, that some other country might cross the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans and attempt to invade the continental U.S.? This would be madness even if it were logistically possible. And what about the fear that led to the claim that “we’re fighting them there so we won’t have to fight them here.” Is there any reason to believe that a country with virtually no navy or air force is about to follow our troops home and attack us here? How many terrorist attacks, besides the two trade center ones, have occurred? We have been told, especially by the Bush/Cheney administration that they had prevented many such attacks but these claims seem to have been greatly exaggerated and in some cases simply nonsensical.

What is it about fear that can make people believe in utterly far-fetched claims? There are people here where I live who really seemed to believe that Obama was going to stop them from fishing! This seems to have stemmed from some talk of regulating commercial fishermen to protect the supply of certain fish, a discussion that was somehow converted into Obama stopping sports fishermen from fishing, a belief so irrational as to make you wonder about the thought processes of some of our citizens. And of course there is the continuing fear, without any foundation, that Obama is going to take away their guns. I guess this fear comes from discussions in some of our highly urbanized, truly high-crime areas there may be attempts to regulate firearms. Even if this were to happen it would never apply to rural areas like this one where virtually everyone hunts, owns and uses firearms. It is as if people just want to believe and fear certain things no matter how irrational they may be. Perhaps this explains the strange, seemingly perverse, fascination people have with the overwhelming number of violent and/or horror films. Is there just some basic thrill in being afraid?

I confess to being brave enough to say I do not fear terrorists. Easy for me to say as I live in a semi-remote small town that even in my wildest imagination could not be a target. I guess if I lived near a nuclear plant or a key military base or in some of our larger cities I might be fearful, but I suspect that even those fears would be largely if not almost entirely without foundation. In a nation of millions and millions, with hundreds of thousands of sites that could be targets, and protected by highly skilled police and other law enforcement organizations like the FBI, CIA, and who knows how many more, it is of course possible there could occur some terrorist acts, but from the standpoint of an ordinary citizen they are probably in much more danger from automobile traffic, contaminated food, or other such common threats than attacks by terrorists. FDR was right, “all we have to fear is fear itself.”

Fear is not easy to define. We know it is an emotion that is found even in infants of just a few months, and we know it is related to anxiety, apprehension, worry, expectation, the unknown, and other such things. In the face of our current fear of flying there is probably only one thing that will overcome it --- greed. You can be pretty sure that if large numbers of people stop flying the fear will strangely begin to dissipate along with the overly invasive scans and searches. Of course fear will still be involved in some sense, the fear of not making enough profit, but profit will eventually win.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The "No-Brainer"

After beating and robbing clerk
In convenience store, he
attempts to escape on lawnmower.

Bubblehead: I said Glenn Beck had a High School diploma, was an ex-alcoholic and drug abuser, and converted to the Mormon Church. I fail to see how any of these experiences qualify him to make grandiose pronouncements on political matters or foreign policy (or most anything else, for that matter). Beck is the biggest phony ever to get his own show and the world would be far better off without him.

It appears that President Obama may well win in his attempt to get DADT abolished. That should give him at least one more victory for which he will probably get little credit. And he is finally going to force the Republicans to vote on keeping tax cuts for the middle class while doing away with them for the obscenely wealthy. This strikes me as a true “no-brainer” that should have been forced a long time ago. There is no way Obama can lose, even if he loses the vote he will have exposed the Republicans for the greedy unconscionable monsters they are, as they have just voted not to extend unemployment benefits for some two million Americans. This should not surprise anyone, Republicans have always voted in favor of wealth and management and never for the working person.

Now let’s encourage Republicans to do what they want so badly to do, repeal health care, privatize Social Security and Medicare, do away with the Departments of Energy and Education, cut taxes, attack Iran, shut down the government, support Israeli genocide, endless wars, and what-have-you, and see how well they fare in 2012. And please let them pick Sarah Palin as their Presidential candidate in 2012, even though the very thought of her as President makes me sick to my stomach. I thought we had reached rock bottom when Bush was elected but Palin will easily surpass him in incompetence and stupidity. Actually, I don’t think she will run. It will cost her too much money, she has a long way to go before she can exhaust all the sucker money out there. I don’t think her racist attack on Michelle Obama will help her much, but it is interesting to observe that Republicans no longer even try to cover up their blatant racism, sexism (they have also just voted to deny equal pay for women), and single-minded focus on more, more, more for the haves and less, less, less for the have-nots. I cannot understand how they have managed to get away with their outrageous program for so long but somehow they have. It is rather like a larger, broader, version of “keeping them barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.”

Well, the snow this year held off until fairly late, but yesterday and last night and today it came on with some significance. I woke up to about three inches of new, wet snow this morning and had to rescue the snow shovel from its retirement in the garage. The only positive thing I could see was that the snow was perfect for making snowmen (and women?) and there were children out here and there doing just that. The deer have taken to resting under the towering ponderosa pines in our back yard, no more than fifty feet from the house, the firewood is neatly stacked away, there is no greater pleasure than sitting by the fire with a good book, I am ready for a new season of reading and reflection. I have what appears to be an interesting book by Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer that I am eager to read. Life is good, provided you don’t think about it for a few minutes at a time, don’t watch or listen to the news, avoid newspapers, and don’t try to converse with anyone unless you know them well.

His lack of education is more than compensated for by his keenly developed moral bankruptcy.
Woody Allen

The Osprey is unusual in that is a single species that occurs virtually worldwide.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fox "News" and MSNBC

I have just seen Senator Rockefeller saying that he believes both Fox and MSNBC should be banned (or eliminated or however you want to put it). Apparently he thinks that Fox News represents an entirely right-wing perspective whereas MSNBC is essentially the same except from a liberal point of view. I have also encountered several people recently who seem to think the same thing. That is, Fox is right-wing, MSNBC is left-wing and they are basically equivalent. I think this is an entirely false comparison. it is true that Fox is right-wing, and also true that MSNBC tends to be liberal, the comparison has to end right there.

Fox (News?) claims to be “Fair and Balanced,” but everyone by now with a brain larger than that of an ant knows perfectly well that is far from true. Not only is Fox not fair and balanced, it is also, admittedly by now, known to be simply a part of the Republican Party, its spokesperson, so to speak. This is not merely my opinion but is widely recognized as so. And while MSNBC is liberal it is not directly connected to the Democratic Party and, indeed, is not entirely uncritical of that organization. Most of what is reported on MSNBC is factual, they go to great lengths to establish the facts, even asking others to verify if what they say is factual. Fox, on the other hand, is almost completely non-factual, claiming whatever they say is fair and balanced when it represents nothing but their biased opinions about matters. Are we, for example, expected to believe, as Glenn Beck has now said on the air, that the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans organization is a communist organization? There is no basis in fact whatsoever for such a ridiculous claim. Similarly, are we to believe Beck when he says Soros is the leader of a communistic attempted takeover of the U.S.? This is utter nonsense, said on the air by an exceptionally silly man who is paid huge sums for saying such stupid and nonsensical things. Anyone who believes Glenn Beck can be compared to Rachel Maddow in terms of honest y and factual reporting is clearly blinded by something. It is true that those on MSNBC are partisans, most often obviously so, but they are completely upfront and obvious about it, and they don’t just make up lies in place of the facts. It literally pains me when I find people trying to equate the two networks as if they were equal in their reportage and analysis. They are not, not even close. Fox is a disgrace, MSNBC is not. Fox is not news but incessant subtle and not so subtle propaganda, MSNBC tries to tell the truth, however unpleasant it may be. Glenn Beck has no qualifications whatsoever for commenting on politics, a High School graduate with a history of alcohol and drug abuse, a Mormon convert, who admits he has little or no interest in politics, per se, he has managed to parlay his weird brand of utter bullshit into a multimillion dollar enterprise. Comparing Beck to Maddow is like comparing Palin to Obama, a comparison the American public seems to think it somehow meaningful even though, objectively, it is absurd. I do not watch Fox, but I do see excerpts from it occasionally, I find it totally beyond my comprehension how anyone could possibly take this buffoon seriously, but apparently they do. I find it incomprehensible that anyone could believe Sarah Palin is Presidential material, a belief so ridiculous as to make me question the sanity of many of my countrymen. Whenever I start wondering about all this I recall one of my friends who points out that if the average IQ is 100, and if “intelligence” is distributed on a bell curve, half of the population has an IQ below 100. I think of this, but it doesn’t make me feel better.

I have been trying for days to imagine anything worse than American television programming. So far I have failed. Someone once said it was a wasteland. I believe that is too generous. It is true there may be occasional programs that are worthwhile, National Geographic, History and such, but taken in the aggregate, contemporary American television has fallen so low as to be worse than worse.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Fair Game

Wisconsin man so upset
by Bristol Palin’s dancing
he destroys TV with shotgun.

The motion picture, Fair Game, about the Valerie Plame affair, has now been released. I have not seen it. I may never see it because it may never come to our part-time little theatre. If and when it does come I probably won’t see it anyway. I don’t have to see it as I already know what it is supposed to be about. And I also know that whatever is ought to be about is not what it will be about. I saw somewhere on the internet the other day that the Washington Post and the New York Times reported Fair Game was wonderfully “entertaining.” Knowing who Valerie Plame and her husband Joe Wilson were, and what happened to them, I thought the description “entertaining,” to be at least a curious one. So I looked up reviews and comments about the movie on Google (this is entertaining in its own right).

As you might suspect, some people really liked the movie and some not so much. Everyone seemed to agree that the main actors, Sean Penn and Naomi Watts, were pretty terrific, some predicting Oscars for one or the other of them. Some thought the Director, Doug Limon, should not have been trusted with such a film, although it was not clear to me just why they thought so. Some seemed to think the movie was fine until towards the end when Penn became “too political.” Still others seemed to be put off because it became too “sanctimonious” (having not actually seen it I have no idea what this refers to). In any case I get the impression that one’s political leanings have something to do with their appreciation of this film.

What I think is so fascinating about this film is that it is apparently very non-political about what was a purely political act. In fact, what happened to Valerie Plame was an act of treason on the part of Bush/Cheney and others. Outing a secret CIA agent is treasonous in the extreme. Nowhere can I find any mention of this, either in the film itself or in the many reviews I have seen. The Director seems to have concentrated mainly on the characters involved, and on their marital relationship as it had to do with this incident. The movie was meant to be entertaining, and even though it was based on a true story that was not what I would consider entertaining at all, was forced into that mode. Many of the reviews focused almost exclusively on the talent of the actors who, it is said, turned in marvelous performances. Others were struck by the success of the couple to manage their marital affairs in the face of such stress. Still others see Fair Game as basically another spy story, based upon fact but mainly just a basic spy story nonetheless.

In other words it seems that everyone concerned, the director, the actors, the critics, everyone, manages to see this as just another movie, entertaining and well acted, a fine character study, everything but what the story really was. In only one review did I find any mention of what may have happened to any of the other agents that might have been exposed by the outing of Valerie Plame. As far as I know the names Bush and Cheney are never mentioned, the treason is never mentioned, it is basically a kind of spy story/love story that is entertaining.

Is this not vintage Hollywood (maybe not just Hollywood anymore, but the “industry,” the “business)? I mean, they seem to be unable to make a move about anything that does not have to have a love story of some kind. Don’t we know from For Whom the Bell Tolls that the Spanish Civil War was primarily a love story between Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman? I’m sure this love interest kind of stuff began long before For Whom the Bell Tolls. Many, many of our war movies feature love stories. They can manage to make something like Pearl Harbor into a love story. The Russian Revolution was also mostly about a love story, according to Dr. Zhivago. I think that if you get your view of history (or reality) from movies you might well think the Second World War was mostly an affair of linked love stories. Although I haven’t seen one yet, I have no doubt that someday we’ll see a story of, “ The Holocaust, a Love Story.” It would seem to me that if you want to make a motion picture based upon a treasonous war crime you ought to be obliged to at least mention it. But the movie industry, like all businesses, is out to make a profit, and the profit is in entertainment, not in the facts of life. Unfortunately this same motivation has spread to our MSM, now into “infotainment” rather than news. This has not been healthy for our country as we have failed to insist on a relationship between free speech and responsibility, emphasizing only the former.

No one can deny that much of our modern advertising is essentially dishonest; and it can be maintained that to lie freely and all the time for private profit is not to abuse the right of free speech, whether it is a violation of the law or not. But again the practical question is, how much lying for private profit is to be permitted by law?
Carl L. Becker

The pygmy rabbit is one of only two species of rabbit to dig its own burrows.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Just Say "No"

Drug-crazed Bulgarian slices
his penis, cuts off his father’s ear,
gets naked and crashes stolen car.

I would like to see a new party of no, a Democratic one. It would be new in the sense that it would be the Democratic Party saying no instead of Republicans (for a change), and more importantly, new because up until now the Democrats seem to have been unable to ever say no to Republican demands, no matter how foolish. Perhaps the best example might be the stimulus bill where Democrats allowed Republicans to add some 300 billion or so in the form of tax breaks, thus reducing the stimulus to relative impotence. There are other examples as well but generally speaking I think it is pretty obvious the Democrats have “caved” time and time again. They may be about to do it again and allow the tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires to continue. I hope not but it doesn’t look good at the moment. They are thinking of a compromise, a term that has a unique meaning for Republicans, “Do as we say.”

I think it would be great if now that Republicans have control of the House, and seem to believe that gives them control of everything, and now that they have emphasized no compromise, the Democrats would at last just say no … to everything Republicans claim they want. If they want to extend the tax cuts for the filthy rich, Democrats should just say no and stick with it. Let the Republicans have to make a case for why the wealthy should continue to benefit to the tune of 700 billion in borrowed money. These tax cuts for the wealthy are simply ridiculous, they are not at all necessary, will do little or nothing to help the economy, we definitely cannot afford them, and, in fact, are unconscionable at a time of grave national emergency. If they want to eliminate the Departments of Energy and Education say no. If Republicans want to end unemployment insurance for millions of Americans, Democrats should just say no. Let them explain to the electorate why they wish to assign millions of our fellow citizens to unnecessary hardships that will also impact negatively on the economy. If they want to repeal the health care bill, Democrats should again just say no. Let Republicans explain to the millions that are expecting health care now, it is going to be taken away before it even gets started. And let them explain why people with existing conditions should continue to be denied coverage by greedy and vicious Insurance companies. When they attempt to privatize Social Security, say no, let them make a case for it, and ditto for Medicare. If they want to postpone DADT say no, let them stew in their own juices. Similarly, if they want to do away with abortions even in cases of rape and incest let them explain it to everyone. This strategy of just saying no to everything seems to have worked for Republicans. I think it will work even better for Democrats. It will not take long for even an electorate as misinformed and dimwitted as ours to soon see what they have voted for and 2012 will come before you know it. Democrats should just say no, no, no, no, no to everything, no compromising at all, and wait for the enormous crash that will soon materialize and hopefully marginalize the party of greed and usury, torture and profiteering, for a long time to come. I do not like to wish trouble for our country but I believe it will take an extraordinary powerful shock to bring us to our senses.

I would like to think that Democrats could employ this strategy to do something about our obscenely bloated military budget and maybe even get us out of Iraq and Afghanistan, but as Democrats are every bit as idiotic as Republicans when it comes to the military/industrial/political complex, that cannot reasonably be expected, at least not yet, but it might happen when we ultimately have to default on our national debt.

We owe a deep debt of gratitude to Adam, the first great benefactor of the human race: he brought death into the world. 
Mark Twain

A cross between a female lion and a male leopard is a leopon (or a lipard if sexes reversed).

Saturday, November 13, 2010

American Ignorance

In 1898 Andrew Dickson White published his fine book, A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom. One might have thought that by now, the 21st century, the issues would have been pretty much settled in favor of science. They pretty much have been all around the literate world, except apparently for large numbers of American citizens who still cling to religious beliefs so primitive and magical they would be laughable if not so potentially harmful and thus important. A situation has arisen where this continuing “war” between science and theology might well have absolutely devastating effects upon the future of the earth itself.

Representative John Shimkus, Republican of Illinois, who has been a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce since 1997, has made a plea to his colleagues to make him chairman of that committee. He would then become the highest-ranking official in the House in charge of environmental and energy policy. Why is this of particular interest? He denies climate change because of his religious beliefs. He is on record as having said nothing bad can happen to the Earth unless it is preordained by God.

In an exchange during a subcommittee hearing on such matters, as reported by the Toronto Star, quoting God’s promise to Noah, he offered,

"Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though all inclinations of his heart are evil from childhood and never again will I destroy all living creatures as I have done.

"As long as the earth endures, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, will never cease."

Then Shimkus apparently added:

"The Earth will end only when God declares it's time to be over. Man will not destroy this Earth. This Earth will not be destroyed by a Flood," Shimkus asserted. "I do believe that God's word is infallible, unchanging, perfect."

Shimkus has at least two rivals for this chairmanship, one is not considered a serious challenger and the other is known as a “radical environmentalist.” Given the new membership in the House, which consists of a large number of Tea Party and other questionable characters it is not far-fetched to think Shimkus might actually succeed. Now, I don’t know about how others might think about this, but I think it is well past time for the U.S. to grow up and recognize that a matter as important as global warming should not be left in the hands of religious fundamentalists. I think it is amazing (to me, at least) that someone with such dogmatic religious beliefs could ever have been elected to the House in the first place, but Shimkus is not the only one. We should have to confront this problem immediately. It is no longer a “war” between science and theology, it has become a war between science and idiocy, and as such is not a war we can afford to lose as the stakes are far too high for fantasy and fairy tales. I’m not sorry to say it, people who believe in the literal truth of the bible and/or its infallibility are simply too ignorant to be allowed positions of power and authority, particularly when the survival of the planet or the species itself is at issue. Unfortunately, there is no higher authority to prevent this from happening other than the voting public that seems to prefer ignorance to knowledge, the mediocre to the more gifted, in short, people like themselves they can have a beer with (Budweiser, no doubt).

We have grown into a nation of complacent morons and have not kept up with the knowledge and skills required to compete with the rest of the industrial world. We are the only Western nation that still has such a large number of religious “true believers.” President Obama’s recent excursions into Asia and Europe have made it clear the “American Century” is over and our decline is sensed by all except, perhaps, by many here who seem to believe happy days will come again, that history always repeats itself, that it just takes time to recover, all we need is a change in policy, and so on, all little more than fantasies offering false hope and insisting nothing has changed, we’re still the superpower, the global policeman, the shining beacon on the hill, and blah, blah, anything to escape reality. For example, as someone pointed out recently, there are no jobs as successful businesses have the requisite number of employees and they do not create jobs for the sake of creating jobs. The government cannot create jobs because that would be socialism and here in the U.S. death is more desirable than socialism. Further, in an economic system in which labor is regarded merely as a commodity, and that commodity can be found much cheaper elsewhere, it will continue to be sought elsewhere.

I hate being a pessimist, a doomsayer, a bearer of bad tidings, I need someone to convince me I am wrong about all this. I would like to believe the past few decades have merely been a nightmare and we will wake up to a bright future, but try as I might I can’t.

Friday, November 12, 2010


Well, I’m back after another three days of no television, no internet, no stress, just the sound of the waves, a view of the distant horizon, and fresh seafood in abundance. I recommend two or three days like this for everyone, especially when your frustration approaches the absolute boiling point as mine has done long ago.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending upon one’s point of view) I watched the Rachel Maddow show just now when we returned home. I was not surprised to learn that Mitch McConnell was a hypocritical, dishonest, disgusting creep. I mean, after all, he is a Republican. It appears that at the very moment he was publicly castigating Democrats for wanting to withdraw from Iraq he was privately advising Dubya to do precisely that. No doubt he felt his motives were far superior to those of the Democrats. They wanted withdrawal for security and fiscal reasons, McConnell wanted them for purely political reasons (to help Republicans in the 2006 elections). Aside from the fact that this demonstrates McConnell’s belief that the Republican Party is more important that national security, and that he could care less about the fate of our troops, it also raises an interesting dilemma for him. The claim that McConnell actually did make this request of Bush is apparently found in Bush’s just published Memoir. For McConnell to deny it would be for him to say Bush is a liar. As Bush is a liar, indeed, virtually a pathological one (along with Cheney), and as this is well known, it should be easy for McConnell to say so. But he is hardly in a position to say that his eight-year leader, whom he consistently supported, is a liar. Republican hypocrisy might be amusing if it were not so ubiquitous and constant, remember Gingrich on Clinton when he was at the same moment engaged in precisely the same illicit behavior, remember the Republican Governors who were publicly opposed to the stimulus while at the same time holding out their hands for the money? Remember McCain who carries hypocrisy to levels never before achieved. Lying and hypocrisy for Republicans is completely normal behavior. Scratch a Republican and you will inevitably find a hypocritical liar, anyway, enough of that.

Were you surprised to learn that George W. Bush almost certainly executed an innocent man? It has now been shown that in at least one case he did, a case that hinged upon a single hair, a hair that the defendant wanted subjected to DNA analysis, a request refused by Bush, that has now proven the man innocent. But this is, in my opinion, just one relatively mild injustice compared to what else he apparently condoned. As far as I know he executed 152 people while he was Governor. I gather he spent no more than about 15 minutes reviewing any of these cases, simply following whatever recommendations he was given. There is no doubt that some of these cases were complex, could easily have required much more serious reviews, but did not receive them. Also, as near as I can tell, he only once commuted a death sentence to life in prison, and only then because the case became so public he could not do otherwise. It is also known that he once mocked a woman given a death sentence who begged him for a pardon. There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that Bush may well have executed many innocent people without even a second thought, just as he killed hundreds of thousands in Iraq apparently without a second thought. He now boasts openly of his war crimes and goes completely free of investigation or accountability.

I have never forgiven Obama and Holder for not investigating Bush/Cheney and their obvious war crimes. I have also not forgiven Obama for his absurd and unnecessary “war” in Afghanistan. I am also not pleased with his wishy-washy behavior vis-à-vis Israel and Netanyahu. Even so, I keep thinking of what any alternative might be, and I cannot think of any that would be better. However, if he now “caves” on continuing tax cuts for the obscenely wealthy, as some are suggesting he might, that will be the final straw for me, the end point of any further excuses or political maneuvering. To continue the Bush tax cuts for the top 2% is an absurdity so gross, so unnecessary, so stupid, so ridiculous, so unjustified, so cowardly and hypocritical, I would not be able to accept it for any reason whatsoever. Not that I have much support to offer anyone anyway, after the eight years of Bush/Cheney and their destruction of our economy (and everyone’s life savings, homes, jobs, and even unemployment benefits). So let’s all cheer the new Republican leadership in the House and hope they can return us to the glory years of Bush/Cheney. We clearly deserve it.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


Perhaps I am just too old. Maybe I am just too stupid. I guess I haven’t been paying close enough attention, watching enough news, reading enough, talking to enough people, I don’t know what the problem is, but I am completely bewildered by what seems to be going on. I understand that Republicans won 60 seats in the House, enough to wrest control of that body from the Democrats. It was a foregone conclusion they would win seats, but I was surprised they won so many, especially with such a collection of strange candidates. But I was (am) bewildered by what I am hearing now. Republicans want to undo what they call Obamacare. Okay, I can understand that much, even though it seems ridiculous to me why anyone would be so against health care. And they want to preserve the absurd tax cuts for people and corporations that are already so rich they sweat money out of all pores. Republicans always want that, I understand they do, although I continue to think it is somewhat to the right of obscenely greedy. I also understand they would like to defeat Obama in 2012, it is always the goal of the opposition to defeat those in power and win elections.

What I am at a loss to understand is why they want to shut down the government. I guess they believe this will harm Obama and work on their behalf, but when they tried it before it seriously backfired. It seems a strange thing to try to do, aside from the fact that it strikes me as near treasonous. But what is worse, and what truly bewilders me, is all the talk about investigations and using their subpoena powers. I guess Issa has said he wants 7 investigations a week for 40 weeks. Pardon me, what is it he thinks he is going to investigate? What illegalities, moral or ethical failures does he have in mind? Has Obama been charged with anything? Don’t you need to have some kind of charges before launching all these investigations? I don’t get it. He’s not a citizen, wasn’t born in the U.S.? This has already been shown to be completely groundless. He’s a Muslim? He’s not, but what if he was, it’s not against the law to be a Muslim. He’s a socialist? Again, it’s not against the law to be a socialist, or a communist, or even a fascist as far as I know. Has Obama been accused of stealing? Not that I know of. Perhaps adultery? Not a matter for impeachment. Oh, by the way, some are calling for his impeachment, on what grounds I have no idea. I tell you I am truly bewildered by all this stuff. I guess they wouldn’t dare accuse him of war crimes. That might actually make people recall the true war crimes of Bush/Cheney. Frankly, I have no idea what the hell these newly empowered Republicans think they are doing, except, of course, for their obsessive concern with causing President Obama to fail. But that is like wanting our country to fail. Would any decent patriotic American want out country to fail? Would anyone be so concerned with gaining power they would willingly sacrifice the nation? Apparently the current Republican Party is willing to do just that, and more. At the very moment it is being claimed that voters have sent a message they want some cooperation on the important matters facing us, Mitch O’Connell has announced the sole goal of his Republican Party is to bring down Obama. How’s that for cooperation? I confess all this sounds like madness to me.

As this has me completely bewildered, as I cannot understand it at any level other than a kind of quasi-treason, I am going on another three day retreat to contemplate the situation. I will not blog again before Saturday, the 13th. In the meanwhile I suggest everyone think deeply on this matter and I would hope better minds than mine might explain it in some other terms. You might also reflect on the fact that Obama has consistently refused to investigate the Bush/Cheney administration that is already known to have been criminal, I guess Republicans have never heard of returning favors, hypocrisy, fair-play, or even common decency. Try to be of good cheer.

Jack be nimble,
Jack be quick,
Jack was neither,
and burnt his ?

Monday, November 08, 2010

Yes! Right! No Compromise!

Although I doubt President Obama and the Democrats are up to it, now is the time to say, as the Republicans are saying, NO compromise. If ever there was a time for the Democrats to call some bluffs this is it. If the Republicans insist tax cuts should be extended for the upper 2% of the population, those with more money than they could possibly ever use, tax extensions that would plunge our nation 700 billion dollars further in debt, let them go ahead and sit on that demand. There is absolutely no justification for such an absurd policy, none (except their fairy tales about it helping the economy), and there is no doubt this is an issue Democrats would win by a landslide. Similarly, if Republicans are serious about trying to repeal the recent health care legislation, let them try it. Let’s have a vote on it. If they want to tell 30 million people who did not have health insurance and now have it they should not have it, let ‘em. If they want to tell people with existing conditions they cannot have health care insurance now, let ‘em do it. If Republicans want to shut down the government, as they are threatening to do, let ‘em try it, we know how successful they were last time they tried such a ridiculous thing. If they want to continue to filibuster every proposal the Democrats want to pass, let ‘em do it. If they want to continue to obstruct every attempt Obama makes to do something to improve things for the middle class, let ‘em. I have no doubt that on almost all of these issues the Democrats would win easily. So far Obama and the Democrats have been unwilling to stand up for their beliefs. Obama in particular seems to be oblivious to the fact that Republicans hate him, want to destroy him and his Presidency, and are never going to compromise on anything that will make him successful. I know of no explanation for this, unless he truly does believe Republicans, like Democrats, Independents, and others, have the best interest of our nation and citizens at heart. He apparently cannot bring himself to believe they can possibly be so selfish, so greedy, so lustful for power, so uninterested in our nation and its people, so disgustingly willing to put party before national interest, that they would refuse to compromise or do what is right and proper. While such noble beliefs about others might get him some points in heaven, here on earth they are going to get him nothing but contempt and a one-term Presidency. As the song goes, you have to know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em. This is definetly the time for Democrats to hold ‘em.

What is it about President Obama that makes him apparently unwilling to fight for the very things he claims to believe in. He says he wants DADT abolished but does virtually nothing to bring this about, in spite of the fact that a majority of public opinion wants it abolished, senior military officers want it abolished, Secretary Gates wants it abolished, most of our military personnel could care less, but Obama does nothing other than merely repeat he wants it abolished. He said he wanted a single-payer health care system but refused to fight for it. He said he would close Guantanamo but hasn’t done so. He claims to support Gay rights but does nothing. He seems to be all sound and no fury, to lack, as we say, “fire in the belly.” I think he is blind to the fact that while there OUGHT to be bipartisanship in government, in fact, certainly at the moment, there is not.

George W. Bush’s Memoir, or whatever it is supposed to be, is to be released tomorrow. I gather he has already been on some talk shows promoting it although I have not personally seen any. I must confess I would never buy such a work, nor will I ever read it. As far as I am concerned, “Dubya” has never told the truth about anything, so why would his book be any different? The one thing he is apparently telling the truth about, indeed, even boasting about, is ordering torture. Torture is a war crime. There is no doubt about this. Attacking another country pre-emptively, that is not a threat to you, is the most basic of war crimes. Bush/Cheney promoted both of these things, among others, and are guilty as it is possible to be of war crimes, yet they openly boast about it and the Obama administration does nothing whatsoever except protect them. I firmly believe that both Obama and Holder are themselves guilty of war crimes, or at least of aiding and abetting them. I am certain the rest of the world has nothing but contempt for our hypocrisy on this front but, of course, being dependent upon the U.S. for one thing or another, cannot really make much of an issue of it. For me, this is a national disgrace, a shameful history that should not be allowed to be re-written. Nor should Bush/Cheney be allowed to be seen historically as anything other than what they were, war criminals, plain and simple.

There was an old woman
who lived in a shoe,
she had no children,
she knew what to do.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Cultural Revolution

I’m pretty certain that most Americans will find what I am about to propose unpalatable in the extreme, but things have grown so bad I no longer care, and as nothing I am about to suggest will ever happen anyway, the only purpose being served here is to make me feel I have spoken my mind about a matter of great, perhaps vital, importance.

If ever there was a nation in need of a drastic cultural revolution it has to be the United States of America. Somehow over the years our culture has degenerated to such an extent that our future depends upon massive cultural change. I am not suggesting anything like the terribly forced destructive Cultural Revolution that occurred in China between approximately 1966 to 1976 that resulted in mass persecutions, the destruction of antiquities, forced re-education, and the social disruption that wrought. I confess I have not thought this through very well as yet, but I suggest there is a gentler, more responsible and probably much more productive means of bringing about such a cultural revolution.

Why would we need such a drastic revolution and what might it involve? Let us begin with a warning that in the not too distant future some 42% of the population will be obese. Even if this were not to become true we already know that huge numbers of our young people are ineligible for military service because of their weight or other health problems. I should think most everyone should find this unacceptable. Also consider that our young people are falling farther and farther behind every year in science, math, engineering, and other such vital pursuits. This also includes what might be considered “softer” studies such as geography, history, social studies and even the humanities. Education, if it is valued at all, is valued only in so far as it helps to find a job. Huge numbers of citizens do not vote, and, indeed, many have no idea there are three branches of government, what the Constitution is about, who previous Presidents were or what they accomplished, what a democracy is supposed to be, who their representatives are, or even what government is supposed to do, and so on. Many more apparently do not believe in evolution, think the bible is literally true, deny global warming, and tend to believe that “he who has the most toys wins.” Most Americans have little or no knowledge of other cultures, other religions, other ways of life, they tend not to speak or understand foreign languages and believe, in general, unquestionably, that the U.S. is in fact the greatest force for good in the world and never does wrong. They have no knowledge or understanding of foreign policy, little or no knowledge of how other people live, and do not understand that our priviledged position in the world is the result of the massive exploitation of other countries for centuries. If they are aware that with 4% or so of the earth’s population we consume 25% of its resources this has no immediate meaning for them, and they most probably believe in large numbers that global warming is still a controversial subject. I know that at least some of our people recognize these problems and our ignorance and are attempting to change the ostentatious and unhealthy ways we live, but I suspect the majority are both unaware and unconcerned that our culture is rapidly disintegrating. I also believe they are mostly unaware that our economic and political systems are diametrically opposed to the interests and well-being of the general populace.

If the above description is roughly true, and I believe it is, should we do anything about it, and if so, what? The answer for me is clearly “yes,” we must do something about it, but we need to avoid a bloody, destructive, and terrible revolution as occurred in China. I suggest something that has often been talked about but never accomplished, a massive change in our educational system and an accompanying period of national service for all young people. We should insist that everyone should complete at least 12 years of basic schooling, including courses in history, social problems, government and politics, and the basics of math and science. Upon graduation there would be a mandatory two year period of national service, the first year devoted to the responsibilities and obligations of citizenship, but also more intensive studies of their individual choices, be it mathematics, physics, science, economics, history, geography, communication, business, or even the military. The second year would involve actual community service and experience in whatever fields they choose, health care, agriculture, environment, architecture, science, teaching, energy, construction, military service, or whatever their fields of interest indicate and where they might want to spend their subsequent careers. I would further insist that no one be allowed to vote or seek public office until they have completed their service. Obviously there would be the potential danger here of indoctrinating everyone with some “official” point of view, but that could be avoided with a strong tenure system that encouraged and insisted upon free speech, as well as a carefully protected completely non-discriminatory hiring policy.

Impractical, yes, impossible, no, although there would, of course, be a great deal of resistance at first. Some would argue it would be an infringement of privacy and civil rights, others that it would be too expensive, still others that it probably wouldn’t work or would just be an excuse for political indoctrination, and so on. The greatest resistance would come from the corporate and wealthy interests that prefer to keep us ignorant, inactive, and not voting at all, those who do not want truth to prevail or to give up their obscene wealth and their means of acquiring it.

Yes, this is a drastic proposal, and alarmist, it is meant to be, we are at this very moment wallowing dangerously near the shoals of disaster, lulled onward by the honeyed voices of a capitalistic culture that benefits only the very few and attempts to enslave all the rest.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Confused (and not amused)

Yes, Democrats lost big time in the election, but Republicans only gained control of the House of Representatives, not the Senate or the White House. There still are three equal branches of government, aren’t there? McConnell and Boehner seem to think Republicans are now in charge of everything. “We’re going to do away with Obamacre,” We’re going to shrink government and return fiscal responsibility,” “We’re going to extend the Bush tax cuts for everyone,” and so on. It is far more likely the case they will not be able to do any of these things (unless, of course, Obama keeps caving in on everything and helps them). Probably the only vow they will keep is McConnell’s plan to destroy Obama and make him a one-term President.

If it weren’t so serious it might, in fact, be amusing. Here is Mitch McConnell claiming to speak for “the American People,” when he has no more right to do so than the King of Saudi Arabia. Boehner, too, speaks for “the American People.” Where did these two get the idea they could speak for the American people? McConnell says, apparently in all seriousness, “the American People have sent a message to the Democrats that they should work with us.” I don’t believe that was the message at all. The message was to all politicians, quit your bipartisan bickering and actually do something.” As far as McConnell’s claim, “Democrats should work with us” goes, it seems to me quite the opposite message was implied. The Democrats have not been the party of “no,” have not held up everything for purely partisan reasons, and have reached out repeatedly to Republicans who have consistently refused to compromise or do anything at all other than obstruct, obstruct, obstruct. The message logically (not that logic has anything to do with our politics) ought to be for Republicans to stop what they are doing and cooperate with Democrats. But McConnell has stated and repeated emphatically the major goal will be the single-minded attempt to bring about failure for Obama and the Democrats. How’s that for cooperation, for promise of better days to come?

With people like Rand Paul now in office, Boehner as leader of the House, and Mitch McConnell in charge I would not be surprised to learn in a fairly short time that we will look back fondly for the relative calm of gridlock. Being spared the horrors of Angle and O’Donnell will not be enough to keep the rest of the loonies from causing chaos, even anarchy might be more desirable if they start issuing subpoenas and investigating Obama’s dog for un-American activities. Some are even speaking of impeachment, a truly ironic twist as Obama refused to even consider any accountability for the previous administration and the admitted war criminals in our midst. Republicans may well throw down a smoke screen of investigations for imaginary wrongdoings, thus allowing the banks, insurance, energy, and pharmaceutical corporations to continue looting the citizenry.

Obama (and the U.S. itself) is caught up in the most profound and dangerous “Catch-22” imaginable. We are in big trouble, with massive national debt, crippling unemployment, bankruptcies, foreclosures, runaway health care costs, failing infrastructure, deteriorating educational opportunities, global warming, all problems of immense, even life-threatening importance, and we can’t do anything about it. There is no doubt that greedy free-market capitalism, privatization, de-regulation, globalization, and militarism are at the heart of our problems. But in order to solve the problems created by this dysfunctional system it is necessary to control aspects of them, to regulate, monitor, and correct the abuses, but any attempt to regulate anything brings about the immediate and insane charge of socialism, or even a more basic fear of government of any kind. In the contemporary culture of the United States nothing is to be allowed to interfere with the naked pursuit of profit, not fair play, not reason, not common sense, certainly not human welfare, and, most unfortunate and dangerous of all, not even the threat of national, even global destruction. No human society can exist for long without controls of some kind, our controls come from the cultures we create for ourselves, they are not instinctive, they can fail.

Not speaking for the American people, but only for myself, we are a species of greedy, short-sighted morons, unwilling and apparently unable to manage our own affairs, determined to ruin things for all.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Stumble, Fumble, Mumble, and Fall

Drunken 47 year-old Maryland
man in diaper, arrested for shouting
obscenities and asking for candy.

Stumble, fumble, mumble, and fall, is that not a perfect chronology of the Obama administration? They certainly stumbled coming out of the election of Barack Obama, certainly when it came to the situation in Afghanistan. They could have used the election to get us out of that absolutely ridiculous and useless “war,” but instead they apparently let the Generals and the military convince us to continue a totally lost cause (the military exists only as long as there is a “war” somewhere or other). Also, in my opinion at least, they stumbled when it came to not investigating the Bush/Cheney administration war crimes. When Bush/Cheney actually admitted their war crimes, and when both U.S. and International law specifies such crimes must be investigated, they failed to do what was required. Obama and Holder took the position that we should “let bygones be bygones.” That is, don’t look back, only forward. In the eyes of the international community this made us look like the greatest hypocrites in the world, rightly so. Of course when Pelosi took impeachment “off the table,” the die was already cast as far as accountability was concerned. Does no one find it ironic that Obama refused to investigate the obvious and serious crimes of the Bush/Cheney band of criminals, whereas now the Republicans are talking of subpoenas and investigations of the Obama administration (for what I cannot even imagine)? I think they also stumbled when they failed to appoint new people to important positions such as Secretary of Defense and those in charge of financial matters.

When it comes to fumbling the record is even worse. They totally fumbled the stimulus bill when they caved in to Republicans on including 300 billion in tax breaks that reduced the stimulus so drastically it just did not do the job it was intended to do. They also completely fumbled the health care bill when they capitulated to the pharmaceutical industry and didn’t even try for a single payer system (that they claimed they favored and would have been immeasurably superior to what they produced). And of course they have fumbled Guantanamo and DADT. More importantly, they have fumbled the issue of peace in the Middle East as there is no way they can now be seen as a disinterested, fair-minded peacemaker, having supported Israeli genocide and war crimes without fail and given in to Netanyahu without even blushing. In every case when they could have taken some decisive action they caved in to the Republican minority or the corporate interests. I think it is not completely unfair to say that Obama has fumbled away virtually every opportunity to improve the lives of the Middle Class because of his apparent (totally unrewarded) obsession with bipartisanship. Even now he is about to fumble away the issue of tax cuts for the filthy rich, an issue so obviously a winner for Democrats as to be obvious even to the more demented (but apparently not for Obama).

When it comes to mumbling, never has there been an administration more inept. Although the Democrats, in spite of the never-ending opposition of Republicans, have managed to accomplish a great deal, the stimulus bill, health care, tax breaks for the middle class, student loans, banking and credit card regulations, and others, a record far better than almost any previous administration, it appears that most voters remain totally uninformed of these accomplishments. While I admire modesty, modesty has no place in American politics.

Of course the inevitable result of all this stumbling, fumbling, and mumbling has been the fall from grace we have just witnessed. It was probably deserved, however, it should not be forgotten than much of the failure of the Obama administration can be traced specifically to the Republican scorched earth policy of just say “no” to everything. It takes an unprecedented amount of “gall” to block every positive thing proposed by one administration and then criticize that administration for failing to do enough of anything. If we do not realize by now that Republicans have no shame (I personally doubt they even have any sense of shame), and will do everything and anything to regain power, even at the risk of seriously damaging our country, we are not likely to achieve much going forward. President Obama seems to be an incredibly slow learner. Republicans are not going to cooperate with him, period. Their stated goal is to embarrass him and bring him down, make him a one-term President. If he gives in to their demands for further tax breaks for the richest 2% of the population we will know that responsible government for the people, by the people, is over, the Corporate/Republican Fascists have won.

Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.
Benito Mussolini

Some mango trees still fruit after 300 years.