Friday, May 31, 2013

Where are the Adults?

Remember when we were kids and about to do something really stupid or worse, something you really, really, wanted to do in the worst way, but adults, your father or mother or other adults, would say “no.” It was so frustrating, even mean, but you would later realize they were right and eventually even thank them for saving you from yourself.
Where are the adults now that we need them more than ever? Where is someone, anyone, who can just say “no” when some of our so-called “leaders,” usually Republicans, propose truly idiotic schemes, ideas that are so obviously awful they are not really even worthy of consideration? For example, Republicans are proposing to double the interest on student loans. Students are already in debt for their schooling past the trillion dollar mark, a fact that is already having an adverse effect on our economy. This is so obvious there are some who are seriously proposing these debts be forgiven, or at least reduced. Ignore for the moment the fact that making students go into debt for their education is an idiotic practice in the first place, doubling their interest for loans under the existing circumstances is so truly stupid it deserves a resounding “no” with no further discussion. Alas, there seems to be no one with sufficient authority to do this, so we will waste time having to consider just another ridiculous Republican proposal we should have been spared.
Similarly, when roughly half the population is living on or near the poverty line, there is too much unemployment, and the economy is suffering, Republicans seem determined to cut food stamps at a time when the economy is stymied from not enough spending. It has been shown that for every one dollar spent on food stamps we put $1.70 into the economy, so from an economic standpoint it makes no sense to reduce food stamps when they are so vitally needed by so many. So if you are hungry and out of work, “Eat a Republican,” as they have no problem trying to cannibalize you.
Doubling student interest on loans and cutting food stamps are only two of the many stupid Republican ideas. They seem to have no idea that most of what they propose or oppose is potentially harmful to thousands of their fellow citizens. Either they fail to make a connection between slave wages and hardship, or between lack of health care and misery, or between food stamps and starvation, or they do understand the connection but just don’t care about poverty and suffering. It’s as if they deliberately want people to be miserable, unhealthy, or dead.
Why should we not have universal health care (a single payer system would be far less expensive and much more efficient that what we have now), why should we not have a decent minimum wage, why should we not help those less fortunate, why should the wealthy and corporations benefit from welfare paid for by the working class, why should there be such an obscene disparity between the rich and poor, why should we not have first-class superstructure, jobs, and etc., why, why, why? The only answer I can imagine is that they just plain don’t give a damn for anyone but themselves, they are greedy, selfish, thoughtless, short-sighted, lacking in empathy, and morally bankrupt. Unfortunately they also lack adult supervision.
Now you might think at least a modicum of supervision could be offered by Democrats, but they are too wishy-washy to act as adults, and have chosen mostly to just stand idly by while Republicans obstruct any and all efforts to improve things.

Obstruction, like procrastination, is a thief of time, but much more disruptive and destructive.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I Fear I've "Had It"

If you follow this blog at all you will know that it has increasingly been occurring less often than before. I’m sure the quality has been decreasing as well. Frankly, I think this is because I’ve finally “had it.”
The government of the United States for all intents and purposes has simply ceased to function. There are three main reasons for this: (l) the take-over of the world by a few huge international companies that simply ignore national interests in favor of their short-term profits, (2) the coming into prominence in the U.S. of what is best described as the “Tea Party,” a group of mostly know-nothings that do not believe in government at all, and (3) the irrational racial hatred of our first Black President. As a result of these three developments our government has become completely dysfunctional, virtually nothing is being accomplished, and what now passes for domestic and foreign policy has nothing to do with the well-being of the citizenry or the nation. In short, what used to be, according to Lincoln, “Government of the people, by the people, and for the people,” has now become government of the greedy, by the greedy, and for the greedy.
The greedy have managed to bring us to this through bribery and their ability to control all elements of our supposedly “democratic” two party system. The result of this, as you are doubtless aware, means we have slave wages, few unions, outrageously expensive health care, lousy education, decaying infrastructure, private prisons, and a population increasingly living in poverty. All of this while living in “the greatest country on earth.” If this continues, and the powers that be have their way, it will not be long before they will privatize water and air. The disparity between the “haves” and the “have-nots” has never been greater, with a few families possessing more wealth between them than 90% or more of the rest of us.
I simply cannot continue just writing about the idiocy of our current government as I am so disgusted with what is going on I have basically just lost interest in it. People manage to get elected that have no business in government, no interest in governing, and barely enough intelligence to dress themselves, and they represent constituents who are just as stupid and ill-informed as they are. The fact that we have people in our Congress who do not believe in evolution, are often religious nut-cases, do not even believe in science, and seem to worship the worst hate-mongers in radio and television, does not augur well for our future. In fact, our present situation, when it comes to global warming, failing infrastructure, coming generations so deeply in debt they are virtual slaves to their interest payments, foreign policy based on the colonialism of the past and delusions of empire we can no longer afford, a failure of leadership at all levels of government, a media controlled by a mere handful of corporations that only tell us what they think we should know, a false sense of entitlement and exceptionalism, and other myths of greatness, we should not have much longer to survive at all, let alone thrive.
I hate to admit it, but at long last I think unless something extremely unexpected and dramatic happens soon we may well be doomed. There seem to be little hints of rebellion here and there, a teacher strike, a sit-in, a demonstration, an occasional bright spot, but nothing serious enough as yet to make a difference. I try desperately to avoid hopelessness but it is becoming more and more difficult.

Saturday, May 25, 2013


“Well,” followed by an exclamation mark could be a sign of exasperation, perhaps even a question or the suggestion of punishment to follow, or who knows what all. But “well,” followed by a few dots can be a sign or sigh of relief, the last gasp of an oppressed creature, or perhaps a sign of surrender. For me, at the moment I guess it is a sigh of relief. I have just survived ten consecutive days of house guests, including my mother-in-law! I love them all dearly but survival is not guaranteed. But of course my mother-in-law had to come to meet and adore her first great-grandson, recently produced by her first grandson, and, of course, to instruct me on various aspects of life. She is actually pretty easy to get along with and I truly enjoy her, but as mother-in-laws are wont to do she cannot help but make suggestions as to how I should behave, who I should invite to dinner, what color I should paint a room, and etc. I can politely ignore her suggestions as I am older than she is, but it is a challenge.

And of course I love and adore my only son, my daughter-in-law, and my only grandson. But after ten days of cartoons in the morning (he’s only seven months old but he watches them), and a variety of programs on TV that I heretofore did not even know existed (and now wonder why they do), I am somewhat worn down and desperately in need of peace and quiet.

I’m afraid that during the week I endured still another unpleasant earmark on my journey to the west. I have already mentioned how I have progressed from “Mr.” to “Grandpa”, to “Pops,” to “Old Mr. ______,” and then, after my wife died six months ago, to “Poor Old Mr._____.” I have also mentioned developing the “Octogenarian shuffle.” I assumed things could not get much worse until the ultimate end. I was wrong. I have a pool table in a building about sixty feet from my house. Every Wednesday evening some friends come to play pool. I guess my shuffling around the pool table was so pathetic I actually had someone ask me if I needed help to get home! I am happy to say that as yet I do not need such help, but it was a bit of an eye-opener to learn that I have become so obviously handicapped as to be offered help just getting around. Now I worry about what might come next. Bette Davis reportedly said “Growing old isn’t for sissies.” She was right, it isn’t.

I am happy to report that during the past ten days I have lost virtually all contact with politics. I have only the vaguest idea as to what has been going on for the past few days. I do know, however, that it is just as absurd and ridiculous as usual, what with Republicans trying to create scandals like castles in the air, some of them, like Inhofe and Gohmert, making fools of themselves as usual, and nothing of any use being accomplished because of their treacherous hatred of President Obama. Not watching the news is actually quite refreshing. I think I shall continue not watching it, or at least not as much as I once did.

In my dotage I have been reviewing my life a bit. I have come to the conclusion that my life has basically been a series of humiliations, one after another. This is, I believe, the result of having been born to older and somewhat unusual parents who, although they loved me, were not as “hip” as the younger parents of my friends, attending a most inadequate High School from which a majority of students dropped out to go to work in the mines, and education, as such, was not a value in our community, and thus there was no peer pressure to do well in school (and, indeed, some pressure not to do well), and having no religious training whatsoever, little or no guidance from anyone, and so on. Don’t misunderstand, I am not  complaining, I know you must play the cards you are dealt, I am merely trying to understand why I was so gauche, made so many stupid mistakes, and had so many embarrassing moments. I am certainly not one who would say, “If I had it to do over again I would do the same things,” because I wouldn’t. I do wish I had been dealt better cards, but I wasn’t, and I begrudge no one for the bad hand. One regret is that I could not have been a father before having to be a son, I could have been such a better son.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Stupid, Suicidal, and Shameful

Student loan debt now exceeds one trillion dollars. Whoever thought up the idea of making students borrow money in order to go to college should probably be drawn and quartered. It is without doubt the single most suicidal, stupid, and shameful practice ever developed by a nation, especially a nation that boasts of being the richest, most innovative, and successful in history.
From the standpoint of national success it is entirely stupid. Some nations offer free education to their young people as it is clearly in the best interest of their nation to do so. Do the “powers that be,” and we know mostly who they are, truly believe our nation does not need the best educated young people we can possibly have? Why should education be made so difficult as to prevent many students from attending at all, thus sacrificing hundreds of thousands of good minds to the scrap heap? And why should many others have to give up prematurely because they cannot afford to continue?
If a nation does not provide education for its young people, the future generations who will be in charge and have to govern, provide for, and protect us, it is a basically suicidal gesture as eventually and inevitably it will be doomed to fail. We can already see signs of our failure as other nations are getting ahead of us, especially in science and technology, and even in the basic skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Where we used to pride ourselves on being the best we are falling more and more behind. There is no doubt our much neglected, underfunded, and outrageously expensive educational system has much to do with this.
More importantly, what we are doing is shameful. In effect we have made our young people into the functional equivalent of slaves, slaves to loans they should not have had to borrow and slaves to the interest system involved. High interest rates (even not so high ones) are just another way of controlling people and their behavior. The only difference between graduating and then having to pay off loans at interest, and slavery, is that the owners cannot beat and rape you at will. Apparently the U.S. will receive an estimated 51 billion dollars from our student slaves, most of whom cannot even find decent jobs and have to live in poverty rather than being productive members of our society. This is shameful beyond belief.
How could a nation be so stupid as to allow this to happen? Well, the powers that be, obviously decided they could turn a tidy profit by forcing students to borrow money. It was an untapped resource for the greedy, profit-grasping, short-sighted, immoral, and shameless capitalists that are in charge of things. A university or college degree should be free to those who desire one and are capable of achieving it. At the very least it should be inexpensive enough that it would not leave them heavily in debt, probably preventing them from moving on with their lives, if not ruining their futures entirely.
As it has now become apparent this student loan situation is so bad it is adversely affecting our economy, and there are hints of change to help correct this tragic mistake, but don’t bet the loaners are not going to fight tooth and nail to keep their tainted profits. It’s the American way!
If they truly want to help the nation, the economy, and even their remote chances of going to heaven, they should simply and immediately forgive all student loans and flagellate themselves for the most boneheaded idea of all time. I’m pretty sure those who hold the loans can easily afford it as they continue to reap much more than they ever sow and their millions and billions increase more rapidly than they can stash them overseas.

If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Insanity Writ Large

I know you have all heard Einstein’s famous definition of insanity, “doing the same thing over and over and expecting to get a different result,” or something like that. What, then, are we to make of the 37 (count ‘em) times the House of Representatives has voted to repeal Obamacare. Doesn’t this probably set a record for insanity? Not that much of anything Republicans try to do these days shouldn’t be considered insanity.
But with Bachmann, Gohmert, Inhofe, and a few others crazy all the time, and the rest of the Republican base crazy most of the time, and the few remaining more traditional Republicans crazy once in a while, what else might one expect? The only thing you might say in their favor is that they make President Obama look really good in comparison. When you throw in a few Republican talk show people like Limbaugh, Hannity, Malkin, and a few others, they make Obama look like the greatest thing since the invention of fire, warts and all.
Remember, Inhofe famously announced that “Much of the debate over global warming is predicated on fear, rather than science.

Gohmert recently asserted that terrorist are being trained to “act Hispanic” in order to carry out their plots.
Bachmann has announced that “Everyone wants to see Obama impeached,” and assured her Tea Party followers that, “This is bigger than Watergate,” referring to the IRS non-scandal Republicans are desperate to turn into one.
Representative Kevin Cramer tells us that gun violence is occurring because of Roe vs Wade.
The American Family Association has said that AARP is “a fringe organization that promotes homosexuality.”
Speaker Boehner has assured us that “Each and every day, Israel's very existence is at stake.
With clever Republicans like these around it is not fear itself we have to fear but more of the same, and there is plenty more of the same coming day by day.

I guess Rubio’s quote,  “Every nation on the Earth that embraces market economics and the free enterprise system is pulling millions of its people out of poverty. The free enterprise system creates prosperity, not denies it,” is my favorite because it reminds me of the joys of capitalism.

I can’t help but think of Walmart as a great example. Walmart has 2 million employees almost all working for less than living wages, without health insurance, prevented from unionizing, and, in fact, subsidized by our tax dollars. The vast majority of their products come from China where those who make them also exist on very low wages and work mostly in “sweatshops.” One of the providers in Bangladesh had a building collapse killing more than 1000 employees who were working for exceedingly low wages under terrible conditions. Walmart is resisting any change in the law to increase employee safety. Thus Walmart customers, mostly relatively poor themselves, are provided with not very good products at low prices, products made to become obsolete or inoperable fairly soon so they will have to be replaced.

The heirs to Walmart’s success (four or five people, I believe) have between them more wealth than 40% of the U.S. population. So, you see how it is that free market economy, just as Rubio has assured us, “is pulling millions out of poverty.” It certainly “creates prosperity,” especially for a remarkably small number of the obscenely wealthy and corporate CEO’s.

Monday, May 13, 2013

When is a Scandal?

When is a scandal a scandal? When is a scandal not a scandal? Curiously enough it would seem the answer to both of these questions is when Republicans define a scandal. At the moment Benghazi is a scandal for Republicans even though it is not actually a scandal. Somehow it has become common to define scandals as something done by Democrats, and especially anything done by President Obama. What happened in Benghazi is little different than what happened several times during the Bush/Cheney administration. It is only defined a scandal now because Republicans want us to believe it is. They obviously want it to be a scandal to discredit Obama, and more importantly, to discredit Hillary Clinton who may run for President in 2016. It is a scandal that is not a scandal.
Similarly, the accusation that the IRS targeted Tea Party and other Right-leaning groups for investigation, is another scandal that is not actually a scandal. There is no doubt the IRS concentrated on such groups, they have admitted to doing so. But the assumption that this was political, and the further assumption that the White House was involved, is speculation gone wild. Obviously Tea Party and other Right Wing groups would have been prime subjects for investigation. First, they were new, and they were claiming to be non-political, a questionable claim at best. And while I do not know for certain, I suspect there were many more of them than left wing ones. They would have been prime targets for investigation, especially when the definition of such groups is itself questionable (if not ridiculous). It may well prove to be true that more right-wing claims were investigated than left-wing ones, but given the rapid rise of the Tea Party and their fellow travelers this would only be expected.
Of course the truth doesn’t matter here anyway, as anything Obama and the Democrats do is regarded as scandalous by Republicans. Remember it was scandalous the Obama children were attending private schools (unlike the children of all previous President’s children?) It was scandalous they were afforded more protection that other children (a claim so idiotic it could only have been made by Republicans). It was scandalous for President Obama to go on vacation when there were national interests at the time (Bush, of course, never vacationed when there were national interests at the moment). It is scandalous that Obama plays golf when he should be in the office (Bush would never have done such a thing). It is scandalous in Republican-land that Obama is President, being a Kenyan, Muslim, socialist, communist, fascist. It is scandalous that Michelle Obama bobbed her hair, or danced, or supported her husband. Now some nitwit Republican had the audacity (and excruciatingly bad taste) to question whether the Obama’s oldest child (15) was on birth control pills. You can bet if she was that would be a scandal, and if she is not, that, too, would be a scandal. For Republicans the fact that the Obamas breath air, drink water, and eat is scandalous.
There are things about the Obama administration that might well be seen as scandalous. Drone warfare, for example, the continuing pointless “war” in Afghanistan, the secrecy, the civil rights violations, the overwhelming “hawkishness,” and so on. Republicans don’t say much about these things as they are mostly in favor of them. What is truly scandalous is the behavior of Republicans, their refusal to compromise, their refusal to cooperate with Obama on anything, and their basic refusal to even attempt to “govern.” And even more scandalous is their disgusting hypocrisy and dishonesty. Having refused to make any effort to create jobs, and having blocked every attempt by Obama to do so, they now try to blame him for the failure to create jobs. They have done considerable damage to our country due to their irrational, racial, and obsessive hatred of Obama, and that is the real scandal of our time. You might say, taking something completely out of context, “They do not go gently into that good night, but rage, rage, against the dying of (their) light.” They should be mostly gone by 2014, if not, our country is in far worse shape than even I can envision.

I must say our behavior towards Iran remains just as scandalous as ever:  
 “Erin Pelton, spokesperson for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, said in a statement that a country "in flagrant violation" of U.N. Security Council and International Atomic Energy Agency obligations stemming from its suspect nuclear program should be barred from any formal or ceremonial positions in U.N. bodies.”
Really? As far as I know they are not, and have never been “in flagrant violation,” and their “suspect nuclear program” is just that, suspect. But never mind common sense and reality, when Israeli paranoia and U.S. hegemony are involved.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Men "With a Name"

In the cultures in the New Guinea Highlands with which I am familiar there were no “Chiefs,” no hereditary leaders, no Kings, Queens, Princes, or Princesses, no formally elected leaders, and certainly no Dictators. Leaders, such as they were, were sometimes referred to as “Big Men,” or, more precisely, “Men with a name.”
To become recognized as a man with a name you had to demonstrate superior abilities with respect to leadership. Above all, you had to have the ability to organize people around common goals, to get them to cooperate in carrying out important ritual and political goals that benefitted the group. The most important ritual events had to do with the exchange of pork between groups, usually related to past help in clan and tribal fights, and sometimes help with food when times were tough. These ritual exchanges involved truly large-scale gifts of pork that had to be organized and coordinated with many others. Men who were successful at this, who knew the proper rituals, and who could organize others to cooperate, would become well-known as men with a name. A man would have to convince others to raise and donate pigs to these events, the pork would then be distributed among the guests, speeches were made, and social and political ties between groups would be celebrated. It was through such activities, when successful, that men’s names became known to others both far and wide. It is important to note that the “Big Men,” themselves did not profit in any material way from their ability to organize and conclude these important ritual acts. The large numbers of pigs did not become their personal property, they did not send them off to the Cayman Islands to produce even more pigs for themselves. They profited, so to speak, by accumulating fame, the fame that came by becoming known as Men with a Name, which was a result of their names being prominently displayed and noted through the  successful collection, organization, and distribution of pigs on behalf of their clan or tribe. Most men did not attain such renown although they could still be respected as helpful citizens through their cooperation, men who were too lazy or inept to contribute were known as “Rubbish men.” Men with a name did not possess more in the way of material possessions although they often had multiple wives. Multiple wives meant more gardens could be planted and more pigs raised and contributed to the exchanges, but it did not mean more personal wealth in any significant sense. There were no “classes” or “castes,” everyone lived on basically the same level.
Among the tribes of the Northwest Coast of America there were acknowledged heredity leaders who were well known and respected. These leaders were expected to “Potlatch,” that is, to accumulate blankets and other items of wealth in order to give them to other groups, to outdo others, so to speak. These Chiefs would organize their followers, organize the Potlatches, and, if successful, add to the prestige of themselves and their clans. But here, again, they did not personally benefit materially from these activities, they did not make a “profit,” and they did not live life styles markedly or importantly different from anyone else. They did not send their blankets or “Coppers” off to the Cayman Islands or Switzerland to breed and make more blankets and Coppers for their personal use. Their reward, as in the case of New Guinea Big Men, was renown, respect, admiration for their ability to succeed in their affairs and cultures, and to help their groups likewise succeed and be respected.
Even among the most so-called “primitive groups” on earth there were no class or caste distinctions. A man was respected for his ability to hunt and provide game, and to protect his small group from dangers. When a hunter was successful he did not keep his game to himself or his family, he shared it with others in the group. He could become famous as a hunter, perhaps as a healer or shaman, but he did not gain materially from his activities, he did not become wealthy. He did not hoard his game away in freezers and keep it all for himself. If he had tried to do so he would have been mercilessly critized, even hounded out of the group, perhaps in drastic circumstances even killed.
In virtually all aboriginal groups, communities, and societies, as far as I know, at least up to the present time, there has been an ethic of sharing. No individual, whether the dominant male, Big Man, or Chief was allowed to accumulate excessive wealth for his own personal benefit, at least not in any major way. He might have had more eagle feathers, bird-of-paradise plumes, or cedar boxes than others, but never in excess. There were no multi-millionaires and billionaires, never any obscenely wealthy and greedy, nor would such individuals have been allowed. Naked greed seems to be characteristic only of “advanced” societies in which sharing, described mindlessly as socialism, is considered somehow “dirty” and unworthy. I guess there are individuals now who will not be content until they literally possess all the wealth and material goods that exist in the “modern” world. The elite stash their wealth all around the world where it can breed and grow, the middle class (slowly disappearing) just rent more storage units for their accumulated Chinese junk. It’s the American Way!
Charles Horton Cooley

Thursday, May 09, 2013

The Politics of Hate

Where would you find, in the Constitution or in most any philosophy of government, any provision for hate.  It seems to me that in its very nature democracy does not include such a provision. In our own democratic two-party system the losing party is not supposed to hate the winning party or the winning President. The minority party is supposed to graciously accept defeat,” pull up its socks,” and try to collaborate in running the country. This has always happened in the past. Never before in our history, as far as I know, has one party claimed their foremost priority was to destroy the sitting President. And although one party may have not agreed with the policies of the party in power they apparently did not actually hate the President himself. Republicans hated F.D.R’s Social Security proposal and perhaps other of his proposals, but they did not hate him, at least not with the intensity with which they seem to hate President Obama. Similarly they may have hated President Johnson’s “Civil Rights,” but they did not hate him personally. They did not, as far as I know, hate Harry Truman, John Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, or even, I might suggest, Bill Clinton, although they actively resisted much of their legislation. Their hatred of President Obama has become so obvious, and so intense, as to be recognized as unprecedented, and it has seriously affected the well-being of our nation. When they refuse to cooperate on bills that they themselves originated, because Obama now embraces them, you know you are dealing with something strange.
This is both easy and difficult to understand. Trying to be as objective as I can, I cannot see what Obama has done as President that would lead anyone to hate him as they do. That is, he has not attempted anything entirely new or shocking, seems to be pretty much of a conservative “Progressive,” if that makes any sense. He has managed to pass at least some important legislation such as “Obamacare” that Conservatives keep insisting is “socialized medicine,” only proving they have no understanding of what they are talking about. He managed to get rid of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” but that is hardly worthy of hatred, and his support of women’s rights likewise is not worthy of hate. The things Progressive might dislike are the very things you would think Republicans would approve of, the “war” in Afghanistan, all-out support for Israel, and his ridding the world of Osama bin Laden, and his hawkishness in general. As he has proposed and done nothing as President that can reasonably be seen as unprecedented or hateful, the reasons for their hatred must lie elsewhere. I’m pretty sure I know where. I wrote in November of 2008:

 “Might I have the temerity to suggest that if Barack Obama becomes President of the United States this will constitute a fifth great blow to the egos of white Europeans. This is so because it will not only shatter the long-standing belief in white superiority, but will also involve a change in the basic paradigm that has guided European thought for the past few centuries. That is, the notion of a ‘Great Chain of Being,’ in which all creatures are ranked in a hierarchy with White Western-Europeans at the very top of the chain.”

  Barack Obama has already made an important challenge to this basic paradigm, and if he succeeds in becoming President it will have far-reaching consequences that might not be completely apparent at first but will over time result in a new paradigm. Then in June of 2009:

 “The basic paradigm that has informed Western-European thought for the past 600 or more years, that provided the excuse for the unbelievable savagery of colonialism, with its underpinnings of Christian theology, cultural evolution (social Darwinism), the belief in the Great Chain of Being, and its prevailing myth of white superiority: this underlying paradigm that has been slowly eroding for the past few years, was finally shattered once and for all last night with the election of a black man to the Presidency of the United States. However unwittingly, a majority of voters in the United States managed to overcome their lingering racial prejudice.”

Then again on Ausgust of 2009:

“The election of Barack Obama carries with it a much more profound message than mere racism, and the success of Sonia Sotomayor reinforces it. While even those currently overwhelmed with their hard to understand rage may not be able to explain it, what is happening is the most important change to occur in hundreds of years. We are witnessing a basic paradigm change. The traditional underlying paradigm of Western-European thought, certainly from the 15th century until the present, has always included the belief that there has been a kind of evolution (or change), both physical and cultural, that resulted in a great Chain of Being with white people (especially men) at the very apex of this creation. You did not have to actually even believe in the process of evolution itself to know that this was supposedly true.”

Thus it is that Barack Hussein Obama has become an object of hatred for many. It is not merely because he is Black (actually only half Black), it is because he is not only Black, but has risen to the very epitome of power and accomplishment that has challenged the long-prevailing belief in White Superiority. You may recall how difficult it was for people to accept the fact the sun did not revolve around the earth, the fact that humans were merely highly evolved animals, that many of their acts had unconscious motives, that morals were perhaps relative to culture and context. We can see the same difficulty now when many simply cannot accept the fact that Black people are as intelligent and competent as Whites and we have a Black man as President.
You can see this same insidious notion being resurrected at the moment when one of our elected officials proposed a bill suggesting that Hispanic immigrants only be allowed to work as maids or gardeners. Even worse is the idea now being touted by another that Hispanics have lower IQ’s than Whites and their children will also and therefore immigration should have to consider that (dismal) fact. The proponent of this absurd idea happens to be a Harvard PhD who was awarded his degree on the basis of his dissertation on this very subject. Harvard, the “ass b’long” wealthy White culture where they still apparently believe the absolutely ridiculous idea that human intelligence can be reduced to a single numerical score. Whoopee! White supremacy won’t give up without a last ditch stand. Just like Galileo, Darwin, and Freud were eventually successful, so will racial and ethnic equality eventually win out. It is possible to oppose Obama’s agenda without hating him, but it is difficult when he makes a mockery of what you hold dear.

 In our civilization, and under our republican form of government, intelligence is so highly honored that it is rewarded by exemption from the cares of office.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

The War on Women

Although they keep trying to deny it, it is undeniable that Republicans have been engaged in recent years in a “war on women.” They are against women’s choice in the matter of their own bodies, against abortion, against contraception,  against Planned Parenthood, against child care, against just about everything that women might both want and need. Interestingly enough, we might actually view this as more of a minor skirmish in the primeval and perennial genuine war on women that seems to have raged since the very beginning of recorded time (and no doubt even before then). One only has to consider the history of women’s rights in the Western World, and the position of women in most other societies, to realize we have been, figuratively speaking, at war with them in one way or another for a very long time.
You have all no doubt seen cartoons depicting a cave man with a club on his shoulder dragging a woman by her hair into his cave. Such cartoons can be very funny, but are also apparently not terribly incorrect. How, for example, are such cartoons so different from the recent Cleveland situation in which three brothers apparently kidnapped and kept three women in an apparently abandoned house for ten years? Granted this is not a common occurrence but it is certainly not without precedent and we know of several similar cases.
More importantly, consider the breaking scandal in the military where rape and sexual assaults have reached epidemic proportions. Even the Air Force Lieutenant Colonel put in charge of dealing with the problem of military sexual assaults has been, himself, arrested for sexual assault, and the incidence of such assaults in the military has increased by a substantial percent in recent years. While it is true that males are also subject to sexual assaults it is also true that it is by far a much more important problem of heterosexuals (curiously enough, although I am not certain, this may not be true in the Catholic Church scandals). In any case it seems to have something to do with situations in which males control the positions of power. But where in history or ethnography have males not been in control.
This raises, to me, some interesting questions. First, rape and assault are by no means restricted to the military. Domestic assaults are so common in the United States that communities have had to create safe homes for battered spouses and children.  A high percentage of deaths by firearms have to do with husbands shooting and killing their wives. Spousal and child abuse are relatively commonplace in our culture. Such violence seems to be related, at least in part, to hard times. The worse things get economically the more such abuse increases, or so I have been told.
Historically, of course, women were always treated as inferior to men. Remember they were not even allowed to vote until 1920, they were basically wards of their husbands even after that, and even now this still continues in certain respects. Attitudes toward women have not been what might be regarded as “healthy” in many respects, they were regarded as childlike, irrational, overly emotional, small-brained, and so on:

“In the most intelligent races, as among the Parisians, there are a large number of women whose brains are closer in size to those of gorillas than to the most developed male brains. This inferiority is so obvious that no one can contest it for a moment; only its degree is worth discussion. All psychologists who have studied the intelligence of women, as well as poets and novelists, recognize today that they represent the most inferior forms of human evolution and that they are closer to children and savages than to an adult, civilized man. They excel in fickleness, inconstancy, absence of thought and logic, and incapacity to reason. Without doubt there exist some distinguished women, very superior to the average man, but they are as exceptional  as the birth of any monstrosity, as, for example, a gorilla with two heads, consequently we may neglect them entirely.” (Gustave LeBon, quoted in Gould 1978:46).

We may have come a long way since LeBon and other scientists of the day described women in such unflattering terms. But what do you do with some of our more current male observations on women:
“Turn ‘em upside down, they all look alike.” “Old enough to bleed, old enough to butcher.” “Throw a flag over their head and do it for Old Glory,” and other such flattering attitudes that seem to still prevail in some circles.

The war on women far transcends Republican attempts to control their bodies (and minds). Why do men have such attitudes toward women? Although this is far too complicated a matter to discuss in an inconsequential blog like this, I believe it has to do basically with men’s fear of women, of women’s sexuality, and of their power, the power to come between even fathers and sons, and to potentially control men of all kinds. Read W. Somerset Maugham's powerful short story, “Rain,” for an example.
Lynn Lavner


Monday, May 06, 2013

Liberal Pipe Dreams

Liberals, being Liberals, seem to be unable to understand that other people are not really like them. This seems to be true even of semi, or quasi, or part time, or even pretend Liberals, like President Obama for example. Obama may in fact be the worst when it comes to this handicap. He keeps insisting there is only one America, that he will achieve bipartisan support, at least on important matters that have to do with the good of the nation. He keeps insisting there are no Democrats or Republicans, no Blacks and Whites, no divisions at all, we are basically just one people with the best interest of the nation at heart. Other Liberals, I believe, tend to share this optimistic view of the American people. They are apparently constitutionally unable to believe otherwise in spite of the evidence this is manifestly untrue.
Republicans are opposed to any taxes on the filthy rich and the huge corporations that now control he world, they are opposed to labor unions, unemployment insurance, food stamps, Planned Parenthood, child care, public education,  Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, minimum wage laws, and virtually anything that would benefit the “lower classes,” the working poor, common laborers, and even government itself. This obviously poses a grave problem for Liberals who strive endlessly to achieve programs that would improve the common good. Why they keep trying in the face of such total opposition I do not know. I guess it is what they feel they must do, it is part of governing, it is what they presumably exist for. And because it is what they exist for they cannot understand why others do not feel the same way. They think, for example, that if they keep bringing up sensible gun regulations, eventually the Republican opposition will see the truth and join them, if they try to create jobs Republicans will likewise see the need and join them, if they keep trying to fund Planned Parenthood, Republicans will see the light and eventually join them, if they strive for universal health care, they will eventually succeed in overcoming Republican opposition because, of course, all Americans should wish for such things, because, after all, we are all one people, we all want the same things, and so on.
It should be apparent by now that this Liberal dream of looking out for the people is based on truly false assumptions, namely the assumption that we are all one in wanting to improve the lot of ordinary citizens, in governing, in making a world in which there is equal opportunity for all, in which there is a thriving Middle Class, in which our children are cared for, education is important, the elderly are cared for, and so on and on. What they fail to understand is that Republicans DO NOT GIVE A DAMN ABOUT THESE GOALS, and in fact are willing to go to any lengths to prevent them.
Have you ever seen any Republican plans for taking care of children or the elderly? Have you ever seen any Republican plans for universal health care? Have you ever seen any Republican plan for putting the Middle Class back to work, raising wages, unemployment  insurance, food stamps, child care? Do they ever promote anything other than smaller government and fewer taxes? Of course not, and why not? The answer is simple enough, THEY DO NOT  CARE ABOUT  SUCH THINGS. They do not care if children and old people suffer, if people die because they lack health care, if people go hungry and live in poverty. If you can’t  afford health insurance, tough. If you can’t afford child care, tough, if you need an abortion, tough, just suffer and die, proletariat scum. They have theirs, and they will never cease trying to suck whatever remaining blood you have to be theirs as well. If they can they will eventually privatize everything: the land, the water, energy, food, health care, Social Security, even sex and the air we breathe. One of our wealthy CEO’s said just the other day we have no right to water! They have become so powerful and so brazen they no longer even pretend to be interested in public welfare, the public be damned, profit is the only important goal. We are a culture, I fear, gone mad with greed and power, in which the concept of community has disappeared entirely, to be replaced with the most primitive principles of dog-eat-dog mentality and the survival of the wealthiest. Such a culture cannot survive for long and I believe we are seeing at the moment the beginnings of the end.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Oh, Yeah, Please Do...

Run, that is. I have reached the point where I no longer know whether to describe something as the heighths of folly or the depths of folly. Take the recent articles, for example, that suggest that Ted Cruz may run for President or that Sarah Palin may run for the Senate. I would suggest that both of these “claims,” if they can even be called that, have more to do with the “news” businesss than they have to do with either Cruz or Palin. These “speculations,” rumors, or outright lies apparently give the people in the “media” something to write about other than the important things they should be writing about, lies about Iran, for example, or the continuing outrages perpetrated by the Israelis, or the facts of the Syrian situation, or the situation in Iraq or Afghanistan, both better left unsaid, stuff like that.
Neither Cruz nor Palin are going to run. I do not believe either of them have any intention of running. Indeed, the very idea they might run is basically ridiculous. It is pretty clear that neither one of them has any ambition to actually “govern.” They are both egomaniacal exhibitionists that seek the spotlight at every opportunity, that’s it. Palin, the greatest charlatan of all, has already demonstrated her disinterest in governing by serving only half her term as Alaska Governor. She is not going to give up being a “celebrity,” and the easy money it has made for her, for anything as onerous as having to actually do something. And she must know she is very ill-equipped to compete with others when it comes to serious issues of policy. It’s easy to just bitch and complain about President Obama and others, not so easy to offer serious advice about something better to do. I guess her Tea Party supporters have not yet figured out she is basically just a fraud, a know-nothing spokesperson for lines fed to her by others, a performer. With her shrill fishwives voice and mackerel brain she would become a laughingstock in the Senate. Let her stick to the NRA holding her moose and wolf killing rifle in her “cold, dead, hands” like that other moron of the NRA, what’s-his-name, oh yeah, the make-believe Moses, Charleston Heston.
As far as Ted Cruz goes, and that is not , I think, very far, he will turn out  to be another “flash-in-the-pan,” a loudmouth jerk doing his best imitation of Joe McCarthy, and we know how far that eventually got Joe. Cruz not only sounds like McCarthy, he even looks like him, or at least he does to me. In the four short months he has been in the Senate he has not only made himself unpopular with Democrats but even with his own party. And of course four months in the Senate is plenty of experience to become President (unfortunately, this is probably true, as there seem to be no prerequisites whatsoever for that  office, neither brains, experience, talent, language skills, morals, ethics, or compassion seem to matter, although congeniality measured by his/her beer-drinking companionship is important).
I wonder, if apart from the publicity they get from our (pretend) news companies, if either Palin or Cruz really have the support of many citizens. Palin obviously has at least some support, at least in places like Northern Idaho, where you sometimes see a bumper sticker that simply proclaims “Sarah,” an apparent euphemism for “I am an idiot.” Of course Cruz, being from Texas, cannot be considered seriously by anyone outside of that bizarre state, except maybe also in Oklahoma. Texas has a history of electing only the best in the lower percentiles, think George W. Bush, Rick Perry, and above all, the fabulous Louie Gohmert. I keep wishing that Texas, Oklahoma, and some other southern states really would secede. I bet we could soon buy them back for pennies on the dollar, if anyone was foolish enough to do so.
Anyway, as our MSM have long since abandoned any pretense of being seriously about the “News,” I suppose Cruz and Palin gives them at least something to occupy their time. It appears this may be replaced now, at least for a time, by the crucifixion of Hillary Clinton in the flames of Benghazi (she may run for President in 2016, striking fear and terror into Republicans everywhere, hence the “Benghazi defense”) . Stay tuned for what will no doubt be the dirtiest, filthiest, most disgusting and degrading Presidential campaign ever, “Roviation” at its worst. Being a Clinton, a woman, and a (sort of) Liberal, she may encourage women to vote and mass her troops for the “war on women,” a fate for Republicans worse than death. Wheee!


Friday, May 03, 2013

The Klan Rides Again

In a recent poll it seems that 44% of Republicans and 29% of all people polled believe an armed revolution may be necessary in the future to, I guess, “restore our liberties.” I do not know precisely what “liberties” these revolutionaries have in mind but I’m pretty sure they have to do with maintaining “White superiority.” Consider, for example:
Since President Obama, our first Black President, was elected, there has been an almost unbelievable increase in what are generally considered “militia” organizations. There were, I gather from the internet, 149 militia groups in 2008, and now there are at least 1200. I have no first-hand knowledge of any of these groups but I am confident they are most probably all White.
It seems the number of gun owners in our population is actually decreasing while at the same time the sale of guns is increasing. This means, of course, that fewer people are buying and stockpiling guns. I’m pretty confident the vast majority of these gun buyers are White.
It has been suggested by some, probably correctly, that the revolution these people have in mind has more to do with their concern to maintain their traditional view of our society as dominated by Whites than anything else. This is also seen as a fearful response to the changing demographics of our nation that will make Whites a minority.  You might consider this an effort to maintain the status quo in the face of change. It is also a typical development when the nation is undergoing a period of hardship and unrest. The Klan arose and grew under such conditions and has re-emerged, or at least attempted to, on more than one such occasion. While it is true that not all these current militias represent the Klan, they are certainly Klan-like in their beliefs, revolutionaries of the “Right,” so to speak.
Interestingly enough, at least to me, may be considered revolutionaries of the “Left,” who want to change the status quo, not to protect their liberties, but to gain them, those who are outraged at the obscene and glaring inequities in our society. When the pay of CEO’s is somewhere around 1700 times that of ordinary workers, and a few individuals between them have more wealth than 40% of the rest of the country, and billionaires are being created faster than worker’s wages are increasing, this may well lead to a revolution, a classic Marxian revolt of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie. You know, “arise, you have nothing to lose but your chains,” and etc.
As far as I know there is no well-organized movement on the Left, at least not one as easily identifiable as the militias, but there are growing signs of unrest and revolution, striking workers at Walmart, striking teachers in Chicago, an increase in union activities, and so on.
We have tended to believe for a very long time that a revolution could not occur in our (pretend) democracy. That may well be changing now that our government has ceased to act on behalf of the people, preferring instead to act for the interests of the corporations and the wealthy. Now it appears there are two potential revolutionary movements that are probably diametrically opposed to each other in almost every way, one favoring the status quo, the other challenging it, one favoring White supremacy, the other promoting diversity, one demanding justice, one defending injustice. Both of these potentially revolutionary movements are dissatisfied with our present government but for completely different reasons. Could they ever join forces? I do not see how. It is a most curious situation. Perhaps instead of a revolution we will merely have another Civil War. In any case, do not look for any “Joy in Mudville” anytime soon.

“If you make peaceful revolution impossible you make violent revolution inevitable”
John F. Kennedy