Thursday, August 29, 2013

Me and Kati (3)

Well, Kati, I told you not to walk on the fresh paint, I even yelled and waved my arms like a crazy man. As usual you paid no attention. Now there are little brown paw prints in places where there are not supposed to be any little brown paw prints. Why can’t President Obama be more like you and just ignore the neocons and hawks urging him to attack Syria? Maybe he will but I think it’s doubtful. Just think of it Kati, we’re probably going to bomb somewhere in Syria, kill a bunch of innocent people, including children, in order to prevent President Assad from killing innocent people. See, Kati, that’s the way humans think (or refuse to think, as the case may be). I know, you’re not interested as you have your own innocent victims in mind. I am not blaming you for the two dead bats on the porch, one of the “boys” must have done it.  You would have almost certainly brought them inside. At least you kill from instinct, a far cry from the absolutely murderous behavior of we creatures who are supposed to know better but just go on killing each other year after year, sometimes for no other reason that to “save face.” Nothing can be gained by bombing Syria, nothing at all.

Our hypocrisy and deceit are so blatant I sometimes wonder why lightning bolts from the Great Mystery don’t just strike us all dead and leave the rest of the animal kingdom in peace. Assad knows we furnished chemical weapons to Iraq and stood by while they used them on the Iranians. And he also knows you, Obama, said previously it was time for him to go. Now, however, if we attack, it is supposedly not for the purpose of removing him. Obviously I don’t know President Assad, but I bet he is not at all stupid.

And Kati, first of all we don’t really know if Assad actually used the chemicals, in spite of our insistence he “must have,” and in spite of our attempts to go ahead with an attack even before we know the facts. At least Obama is smart enough to not get sucked into another Iraq misadventure (utter disaster, that is). We have people in positions of power who seem to constantly lust after blood and insist on going to war immediately no matter what the facts may be (McCain and Graham come easily to mind). “Shoot first and ask questions later,” a philosophy we seem to have inherited from the days of the “wild west,” when “the good guys with guns” always won out over “the bad guys with guns.” There’s nothing like idiocy when it comes to foreign policy, as well as the NRA.  

And so, Kati, that is why I have turned off the news. Everyone is waiting breathlessly for the attack on Syria that is maybe, possibly, sooner or later, certainly, perhaps, perhaps not, inevitably but maybe not, going to happen. Far be it for the media to actually wait for something to happen when they can waste hours in sheer speculation, while enlarging their platform and time for advertising. There’s real money in balderdash.

I have my martini. You, Kati, are sound asleep on my lap, innocent of any wrongdoing. We are listening to the peaceful and soothing sounds of Slack Key guitar, pretending we are elsewhere, a respite from difficult times in an increasingly unpleasant world. I love you Kati, and I have no problem forgiving you for everything you do, after all, you’re “just a cat” and you do what cats do. Why is it not the same for humans? After 80 plus years of experiencing and watching human behavior, most of my adult years actually studying that very subject, observing the unending violence, the wars, the killing, the abuses, the humiliations, tortures, rapes, thefts, hypocrisy, hates and prejudices, lies and distortions, and the same behaviors over and over again, I absolutely cannot bring myself to say simply, “that’s what humans do.”  Yes, there are rare moments of altruism, humanitarianism, kindness, and good will, but they certainly do not define human history, or even the contemporary scene. Not a single Republican attended the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s marvelous, monumental, and influential speech, Black President be damned.   

“Huamani’s skepticism was substantial. He knew that men are a joke of the gods, sent to mortify the animals.”
Abel Posse, in The Dogs of Paradise  

Monday, August 26, 2013

Me and Kati (2)

Well, Kati, I didn’t appreciate the blood and guts you left on the carpet in my study this morning. I know it was you because you uncharacteristically did not appear this morning for breakfast (having apparently filled your belly with some critter).  From the remains it appears to have been a pretty good sized feast, I guess not another squirrel because you usually leave the tail, perhaps just a large mouse. Anyway, at these times I think you are disgusting, but then I remember you are a cat, not a politician. Blood, by the way, is impossible to clean up completely so it will remain as a symbol of your success as a carnivore.

It seems, Kati, that we are about to once again engage in violence in the Middle East, this time in Syria. The claim is that Syria has used chemical weapons against their own people, killing women and children, and this is a crime so heinous that it must be punished. They say there is evidence that President Assad did this, and perhaps there is, but I remain skeptical as I don’t think he is stupid and if he did use such weapons it would have been almost unbelievably stupid. Anyway, of course we don’t know, probably never will know, and don’t have anything to do with it in any case (a majority of the American people are against any involvement in Syria, but who cares what they think about it). Never mind that a few years back we furnished chemical weapons to Iraq, they used them against Iran, and we did not condemn it. And never mind that we have used illegal weapons, including drones, that kill innocent people virtually every day. And never mind that some of our weapons poison the areas in which they are used so that babies are born deformed. We, Kati, are “good,” and they are “bad.” It is really very simple.

The real problem with Syria, I think, is that Syria is an ally of Iran, and Iran, at the moment, is evil personified, at least in the eyes of Benjamin Netanyahu. Iran, according to “Bibi,” (who controls our policy in the Middle East) has been within a few months of building a nuclear bomb ever since (I think) 1972. Iran claims they are not doing any such thing, there is no evidence they are, but the paranoia of Israel is so profound as to render them incapable of anything even close to reality, No, Kati, that is not true, they know perfectly well Iran is not a threat to them, or us, or anyone else, except that they might gain too much influence in the region thus challenging our hegemony in the area. Of course the so-called “peace process” currently being staged between Israel and the Palestinians will go nowhere, it never does, never will, never can, as long as Israel has anything to do with it. If there is ever to be a solution to the problem it will have to come when the International community imposes one against the Israeli intransigence and backs it up with international force. Similarly, there can never be a solution to the problem as long as the U.S. is involved as the U.S. is not a disinterested third party, favoring Israel so blatantly as to render the situation hopeless.

The Republican Party, quoting Shakespeare, is at the moment “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” They speak of impeaching Obama, although never specifying the grounds for such an action, they talk of killing Obamacare, an impossibility, they threaten to shut down the government (again) which would probably destroy whatever is left of their Party, they let their foremost nitwits blather on about such nonsense that even you Kati, would laugh out loud (if you could laugh). As they are completely devoid of any useful  ideas they continue their irrational (basically racially motivated) attacks on Obama and their policy of non-cooperation. If you wish to understand the demise of the Republican Party, along with the increasing demise of the U.S. as a nation, start with St. Ronnie and consider the behavior of Republicans since that time. Under the tutelage of Karl Rove, the unmitigated evil and stupidity of Bush/Cheney, and now the incredibly damaging behavior of the Tea Party and the gigantic international corporations, is it any wonder we have become not only an international pariah but also a failing state? Not to worry, the Banks and others are doing very well Indeed.

Come, Kati, let’s go to bed and reflect happily on the fact that we don’t have much longer to put up with the (in)human condition.

   “But collective thinking is usually short-lived. We're fickle, stupid beings with poor memories and a great gift for self-destruction.” 

 Suzanne Collins

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Me and Kati

Of course I know that should be “Kati and I,” but now that I have slowly been deprived of my previous “middle class” status I think “me and Kati” is a more appropriate language. Since my lovely wife died, terribly and unjustly prematurely, and since virtually all of my previous friends have also died, my closest companion has been, and is, Kati. It is true that I have a few good friends but I see them only sporadically. Kati is with me 24 hours a day. Well, almost 24 hours a day, she does take some time out to wander around outside capturing and killing as is her wont. She is, after all, a cat, and as such she can be loving and fun when she is not being the carnivore she is. One thing about her, she doesn’t discriminate, she kills anything that moves (if it is small enough): birds, mice, bats, lizards, snakes, and squirrels. I hate that side of her but she is fundamentally a cat, and that is what cats do. I had to stop feeding the birds long ago as feeding them was really just feeding the cats. Anyway, Kati is in most respects a wonderful companion.

I talk, she listens, and she never interrupts or asks embarrassing questions. She just sits there attentively and cocks her beautiful little gray head to one side or the other and seems to be considering whatever it is I am complaining about at the moment. I think she may be a kind of philosopher cat as she sometimes will sit quietly for long periods of time as if lost in thought. I wonder what it is she thinks about, and what it is she thinks about what she thinks about. I confide in her, knowing she will not breech a confidence or give me away no matter what. She is loyal, although why I am not certain, probably because I feed her so well. Anyway, she knows I detest Republicans, or at least I believe she understands that much. I tell her, “Kati, you won’t believe what that moron, Louie Gohmert, said today,” or Inhofe said, or Palin said, or Santorum said, and on ad infinitum. She jumps up on my lap and purrs contentedly as she doesn’t have to deal with any other moron but me.

Sometimes I try to explain to her the evils of unregulated capitalism and why it is her food suddenly costs so much, and I rant about how disgusting it is we have to shop at Walmart (as where we live there is virtually nowhere else to buy anything you need anymore). Of course we also have Home Depot and Big R, but they are much the same when it comes to big box stores. We used to have at least three or four truly fine small hardware stores but they all went out of business (of course). I have to explain to her why I must drive thirty miles and back just to find most of the necessities of life, like dishware, sheets, pillow cases, stuff like that. I’d like to take her with me but she doesn’t like riding in the car, and I know she would hate Walmart, the gigantic warehouse full of poor customers like me, even poorer clerks, and all of us ,“losers.”

 Kati loves me, at least I believe she does. She sleeps with me almost every night and greets me warmly every morning. I think she has some kind of internal clock that wakes her at the same time I wake as whether she is still on the bed or not she shows up precisely on time every morning. And she knows the routine, I get up, visit the bathroom (she respects my privacy there and waits patiently outside the door), she watches intently as I dress and put on my shoes, follows me dutifully into the study where I turn on the computer, and then hurdles up the stairs in front of me for her breakfast. I wonder what will happen to her when I am gone. Kati has a beautiful face and is a very attractive cat, especially given the fact she is all gray. She is so gray that sometimes when she comes to the door at night I cannot see her because she blends in so perfectly with the night. If I don’t see her she announces her arrival with a few well placed scratches on the side of the glass door. In the sunlight outside she is a gorgeous kind of blue. She “helps” me in the garden so enthusiastically it usually takes twice as long to accomplish anything. In the house she follows me, constantly underfoot, knowing I will make any ridiculous move so as not to step on her. I know that someday I will trip and fall. When she wants attention she will hold up her right paw as if she wants to shake hands, but I have been unable to teach her to actually shake hands (she is a cat, after all, and very independent when it comes to such things). I have two other cats, both fixed males, both larger than Kati, but both unable to bully her. She fears nothing as near as I can tell. I love her. Actually, I inherited these animals from my wife, my conscience will not allow me to dispose of them, not that I would ever give up my love/irritation with Kati.

 Katie, my elegant cat
I love you
sitting regally there
on your throne
of warm laundry


Thursday, August 22, 2013

The University

I want to discuss something called a “university” and contrast whatever that is with other institutions, whatever they are. This is a virtually impossible task as it seems that what nowadays constitutes a university seems to include more than it should (I think). Let me begin with a definition of a university from my online dictionary:
“an institution of higher learning providing facilities for teaching and research and authorized to grant academic degrees…” So far so good, but the definition goes on to read: “specifically : one made up of an undergraduate division which confers bachelor's degrees and a graduate division which comprises a graduate school and professional schools each of which may confer master's degrees and doctorates.”
I immediately see a problem here with trying to reconcile the term “academic” with “professional schools.” To me, professional schools are not what I would consider academic institutions but, rather professional schools that train one in a specific profession such as medicine, nursing, business, engineering, architecture, and what-have-you, in short they are basically “trade schools,” lacking in what might be considered academics. You may, even probably, not agree. Looking into the definition of academic is little help:
: a member of an institution of learning
: a person who is academic in background, outlook, or methods
plural : academic subjects academics

To me a university is an institution devoted to learning, basically “for its own sake,” with the understanding of complete “academic freedom,” and dedicated to promoting what we understand as “critical thinking.” Professional schools, in my experience and understanding,  do not share these basic goals. Historically universities did not include professional schools.
It is true, of course, that the earliest universities included medicine in their curricula, but that was when learning about medicine was a quest for knowledge in its own right, not a preparation for a professional career as a doctor. I doubt there was such a thing as a business school, a nursing school, and such. Law maybe, but for the study of law in general was part of philosophy and not a profession as such.

What I find of the most interest in the current interest in education, especially so-called “higher education,” is that it is completely considered to be for the purpose of finding a job and realizing a return on the money spent for it. Love of learning, academics, humanism, creativity, critical thinking, even academic freedom appear to have little to do with it. Now we find discussions of which profession will bring the greatest return for the loans required for the degree, the cost of colleges in general, is getting a degree worth it, and so on. President Obama’s recent speech on this issue is part of this basic cost-effective notion of education. Does it cost too much, is it worth it, can we bring the costs down, etc. Universities should exist for the sake of learning, with complete academic feedom, with an emphasis on creative thinking, include the arts and humanities as well as sciences and technology. They should be free for those who are interested, motivated, and qualified to pursue higher education for its own sake. If most others wish to pursue a career in medicine, nursing, law, business, etc., for the sake of getting a job, let them attend the appropriate professional school and pay what the traffic will bear. Professional schools, when included in universities, siphon off most of the money from the arts and humanities, and even from basic scientific research, converting our universities into trade schools with little or no interest in academics, academic freedom, or creative thinking. This is especially true as they are increasingly funded by businesses that want to realize profits, Pharmaceuticals are particularly terrible in this respect when they fund research devoted to finding what it is they want to find. Professorships are being more and more funded by people like the Koch brothers and other wealthy interests who can control what it is professors are allowed to research and so on. The intrusion of business interests into universities has made a mockery of the very idea of a university, as Margeret Halsey so insightly warned us about so long ago, The Pseudo-Ethic: A Speculation on American Politics and Morals (1963).

“Teach the ignorant as much as you can; society is culpable in not providing a free education for all and it must answer for the night which it produces. If the soul is left in darkness sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but he who causes the darkness.” 
Victor Hugo

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sleaze and More

The levels of sleaze, greed, hypocrisy, ignorance, stupidity, bribery, dishonesty, corruption, exploitation, and inequality have now reached such unprecedented heights in the U.S. I have virtually lost all hope for our future. You might say I have at last pretty much “given up.” I don’t like to admit that and even now I cling to some tiny ray of hope, but it is all fading fast. I think it fair to say the U.S. is completely messed up from top to bottom: domestic and foreign policy, and everything in-between. The one small ray of hope is that somehow most of the morons in the House of Representatives might be voted out of office in 2014. Don’t bet on it. If they are not, and if Hillary does become Madam President, there will be another four or more years of hate, inactivity, partisanship, lies, smears, rumors, and whatever else the small minds of Republicans can dream up. I doubt the country can survive any more years of deliberate government sabotage.
Ennui is not a strong enough term to describe my present state of mind regarding the state of the state. There is no doubt that President Obama has made some serious mistakes, particularly in foreign policy. But how could he not, given that our foreign policy in the Middle East is drafted and commanded by Israel for their own misperceived welfare, and Congress delights in throwing money and support to them no matter how horrific racist, and criminal their policies and behavior. Bibi continues his campaign of lies and slander against Iran while Congress just accepts whatever outrageous claims he makes. Their and our hypocrisy has been exposed for the sham it is, “democracy” means to both of us merely what it is we want to happen and has nothing to do with reality.
On the domestic front Republicans have carried out their single-minded attempt to make Obama a failed President by opposing him at every turn, blocking any of his attempts to create jobs, improve health care, wages, and whatever. I can see it all now, Obama will be blamed for everything that has gone wrong, that will prove to them their self-fulfilling prophecy that a Black man just wasn’t up to the job, even though they themselves engineered his failures, and they will continue to sing the praises of Saint Ronnie, arguably the worst President ever.
Meanwhile the country that used to be at least “sort of” Democratic, continues its relentless effort to become a true Fascist nation (fascism being the merger of government and corporations as Mussolini defined it for us). The evidence for this is widespread, what with the militarization of our police, the incessant spying on everyone, the complete disregard of the public by Congress (on gun control, wars, jobs, infrastructure, etc.). Basically, our country is now controlled by a few billionaires and a few gigantic corporations that bribe Congress and others in government to do their bidding.
In my 80 plus years of life I have never seen corruption, exploitation, and inequality this bad. I guess it is a result of “cognitive capitalism” (a weird term I came across the other day) that is apparently going to eventually privatize our schools as well as our prisons and I guess most everything else. Remarkable, I never knew the goal of education was to make a profit, nor did I know that was the goal of a prison system. Virtually unbelievably in the last few days of discussions we have been hearing about overcrowded prisons, changing laws, and so on, no one even mentioned the problem of privatized prisons. It seems obvious that if prisons are to make a profit they need as many inmates as possible, and they need to treat them as cheaply as possible, and make sure they have an endless supply of them. Immigration lends itself nicely to such a system, as does poverty, poor education, and unfair laws. Is it really any surprise that we have far more people incarcerated than anywhere else on earth?
    If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.

Lao Tzu 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Stuff and Nonsense

Senator John McCain, never one to pass up an opportunity to begin hostilities with anyone, thinks President Obama does not appreciate who Vladimir Putin is:

“He's an old KGB colonel that has no illusions about our relationship, does not care about a relationship with the United States, continues to oppress his people, continues to oppress the media and continues to act in an autocratic and unhelpful fashion."

While I am not an expert on Russia, or on Putin, I am pretty sure there is barely a grain of truth anywhere in McCain’s claim. First, Putin is not “old,” he probably was a KGB colonel (or more), but to say he does not care about a relationship with the United States is nonsense to the nth degree. And while there may be some who believe he oppresses his people, most of them do not as he is quite popular at home, how much he oppresses the media I do not know, probably not much more than we do at the moment (think Manning, Snowdon, and others), and his autocratic behavior probably goes with his office, and he has, in fact, been quite helpful to the United States. McCain speaks with the same dim-witted “my country right or wrong” jingoism that he always does. Putin made it clear from the beginning he did not want the Snowdon affair to importantly affect Russian/U.S. relations. He probably had little choice in the matter, given how the U.S. has treated Manning, given that Russia has never extradited anyone, and obviously not believing the U.S. is prepared to not torture or execute Snowdon if given the opportunity. It would be wonderful if we had any leaders who were not so blinded by their belief in “American exceptionalism,” and truly stupid ethnocentrism, they might understand, even dimly, that other countries have national interests that do not reflect what it is we want them to have. Happily this seems to be changing, as reflected in Putin’s one year asylum, the Latin American rebellion, the Egyptian situation, the Iranian situation, and the Middle East in general. We are seriously “losing face” all over the world, and rightly so. The “Ugly American” is finally coming home to roost.

I am beginning to wonder if words, especially in the hands of Republicans, have any meaning. Indeed, I am beginning to wonder if Republicans even pay any attention at all to the meaning of words. When you hear the word “socialism” mentioned in the same sentence with President Obama you know immediately they have no understanding of the meaning of the word. Obama is so far from being a socialist the claim is basically idiotic, but Republicans insist on the connection anyway. I don’t know if they are really that stupid or if this is just another senseless attack on Obama just for their obsession with attacking him on everything.

President Obama in some ways is a master of understatement. For example, when discussing the possibility Republicans might shut down the government to stop Obamacare (to keep 30 million Americans from having health care) he said it was a “bad idea.” A bad idea!! It is an idea so outrageously, stupidly, obscenely, disgustingly, delusionally, harmfully, and without merit, as to be dismissed as no more valuable than a damp cigarette butt in the gutter of downtown Detroit. He also said they were “wrong.” Is there any way of saying something is more than wrong? Can you say something is a thousand times wrong? Does that have any meaning? Obama is right, Republicans are so obsessed with preventing 30 million Americans from having health care they will do anything to stop Obamacare, and with no pretense of replacing it with anything else other than sickness and death.    

I suppose it would be ridiculous to say it is “refreshing” to see that Republican racism has come completely “out of the closet.” For a brief time after Obama’s election some of them at least pretended they were not racists (although we knew they were), but now they no longer even pretend otherwise. Their attacks are vicious, public, and more and more common. It is as if they know Obama can never be President again so they can slime and denigrate him at will, pretend he had never happened, and go on trying to name every place on earth after Saint Ronnie, the worst President ever (but White). Having blocked his every attempt to improve things, especially jobs and the Middle Class, they will now claim he failed because he was Black (and Blacks, of course, are by nature inferior). Personally, I believe their unwarranted attacks on Obama are driven by their own intense feelings (and reality) of their own inferiority.
Alfred Adler

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Beneath Contempt and with Little Hope

Republicans have now reached depths of depravity so profound as to have virtually abandoned politics entirely in favor of the purely despicable. One of their Superpacs has produced a video game so disgusting as to be truly beneath contempt. There is a cartoon figure of Hillary being slapped repeatedly by a large cartoon hand, her eyes rolling around stupidly, the object being, I suppose, to encourage people to slap Hillary’s face, ridicule and humiliate her in the most offensive way possible. In addition to being juvenile (even infantile) in the extreme, and obscenely disrespectful to an exceptional woman who has given most of her life to successful public service, it is a terribly bad omen for the future of our once wonderful country.

First, it is an obvious example of the bloodbath to come in the next Presidential election. It reflects (in spades) what we already know; Republicans will stop at nothing to trash Hillary in every despicable way possible. What they have done to her in the past will appear insignificant in their new desperate attempt at keeping her from the Presidency. This will become even worse as they have themselves nothing whatsoever to offer the electorate except their usual hypocritical mantra, “smaller government, fewer taxes.” Extreme “roviation” will be the main order of their day.

I am assuming, of course, that Hillary will indeed run for President. This seems to me as inevitable as the sunrise. She has no doubt wanted to see a female President probably most of her life and is now herself uniquely qualified to become the first woman President of the United States. I seriously doubt she is going to let this opportunity pass her by. She is experienced enough, and tough enough, to withstand the blizzard of invective, lies, slanders, and disgusting comments she knows will come her way. I suspect she will win the Presidency for a number of reasons: (1) she is unbelievably popular, (2) she is unusually well qualified, (3) the demographics will be on her side (women, Blacks, Hispanics, etc.),  (4) she has, and will be able to raise as much money as she needs, (5) she will benefit from the exceptional Obama organization, as well as from her previous mistakes, and (6) the country, I am pretty sure, is now ready, perhaps even eager, for a woman President (it is pretty obvious the “old boys” have failed miserably.

 But assuming she does run, and assuming she is elected, we will probably be facing the same Republican strategy of destruction we have been experiencing during the Obama Presidency. That is, Republicans hate Hillary as much as they hate Obama. If they decide they will not cooperate with her, as they have deliberately not cooperated with Obama, we will be faced with another four to eight years of the same stalemate and chaos we have now, another few years of non-government with nothing accomplished, no forward progress, no jobs, more poverty, gun violence and crumbling infrastructure. Republicans will have succeeded in shutting down government through their inactivity if not their outright rebellion. The consequences of this are so potentially devastating we cannot allow it to happen.

Unfortunately, the only way we will have to stop this potential disaster is through the ballot box. That cannot be assured as Republican Governors are using every means they have to stop people from voting at all, mainly Hispanics, Blacks, young people, and others. What Republicans have chosen to do during the Obama years is to prevent government from functioning by refusing to collaborate in governing. In my opinion this is unprecedented and near treasonous. As the perpetrators of this attempt to “shut down the government” cannot be arrested and jailed for “crimes against the state,” as they might or would have been (and probably should have been) by now in many other countries our only means of defense is to vote them out of office. I fear that if Democrats cannot keep the Senate and take back the House we may literally be doomed. Given the absolutely shameful behavior of Republicans during and since the Clinton administration I cannot understand how anyone could possibly vote for them, but I am apparently not surrounded by the same aura of insanity, ignorance, and greed that seems to have enveloped them.

“A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.” 
Edward R. Murrow

Monday, August 05, 2013


Reince Priebus, Chairman of the Republican Party, has warned both CBS and CNN that if they go ahead with showing films about Hillary Clinton they will not be allowed to show Republican debates on the coming elections. Wow! Really? What a great potential loss that would be for we political junkies. Just think of it, we might not get to see the real Republican hotshots spouting their utter nonsense in prime time. And what a show it promises to be, what with the likes of Paul, Santorum, King, Cruz, Ryan, Rubio, Perry, and perhaps even Trump and Palin potentially offering  themselves for our consideration. We probably won’t get to see much of New Jersey Fats as he apparently rates only number eight on their scale of potential egomaniacal idiots with nothing to say other than to “diss” Obama and Obamacare. If ever there was a political party completely bankrupt of everything except lots of money I cannot think when it might have been. This pathetic demand is just another indication of the desperation the Republicans seem to be experiencing. Somehow they can’t seem to understand they have alienated virtually everyone but White male conservatives, have offered absolutely nothing in the way of ideas to improve things, have blocked every effort by the Obama administration to improve things, and cling to the idea they have something to offer voters other than “hate Obama.” If reason has anything to do with it they should lose both the House and Senate in 2014, but of course reason has nothing much to do with American elections. Maybe they can find a candidate voters would like to have a cup of coffee or a beer with. Personally, I think they should run either Bachmann or Louie Gomert, the true icons of the party. Better yet, why don’t they draft Rush Limbaugh, the true leader of their Party. His ratings have been crashing of late, he may be looking for a new gig, and he certainly doesn’t need the money. That’s it, Limbaugh and Gomert, what could possibly go wrong? Better yet, why not Palin/Bachmann vs Clinton/Warren?  It’s going to be so exciting I can hardly wait.

I confess I have a rapidly accelerating loss of interest in what I guess is going on at the moment when it comes to what I guess is going on. I have to guess as it is obviously the case by now that the great unwashed public, like me, are never really given any real news, are lied to incessantly, are at the mercy of our corporate masters and the obscenely wealthy who now control all branches of government including the (supposedly nonpartisan) Supreme Court. So what’s new, the rich get richer, our foreign policy “sucks,” our institutions and infrastructure deteriorate, our “empire” is crumbling, our elected officials don’t care about us, and more importantly, Annie Fanny had a “wardrobe malfunction” and Betsy Boobs had a “nip slip.” Now that’s exciting!

But just to prove that I am not completely without interest (as yet), let me predict: that (barring some unusual act of God or Nature),Tiger Woods will win the PGA, Mitch (Jiminy Cricket look alike) McConnell will lose his next election, Hillary Clinton will break the iron curtain and become the next President of the United States, Obamacare will thrive only to eventually become a genuine single payer system, and any surviving Republicans will be touting “smaller government and lower taxes,” while still pimping for their corporate masters.  I would like to think that Democrats will become Social Democrats but that may be too far-fetched.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Goodbye to All That

By “All that” I mean the “American Empire.” It is becoming increasingly clear that the United States has managed to slide quite a long way down on the scale of “greatest nations on earth,” “superpowers,” “shining lights on the hills,” “Exceptionalism,” “International esteem,” and certainly “Moral example.” We are, I think, well on the way to ex superpower.

The latest example of our rapidly diminishing stature in world affairs and morality has to be the case of Edward Snowdon,  just given asylum in Russia against our wishes, threats, and pleas. The White House and members of Congress are outraged that Russia did not do our bidding and return Snowdon to face American “justice.” But what, pray tell, after our treatment of Bradley Manning, would anyone expect them to do? They (rightly) ignored our (dishonest) promise that if he were returned he would not be tortured or killed. They know our definition of torture is anything we wish it to be, that we have been routinely doing it all over the world, that we certainly did it to Manning, and that we, in fact, ignore international law anytime we please, especially when it comes to the perennial Israeli war crimes and thefts of Palestinian land and water. I can’t see that Russia had any other choice but to give Snowdon asylum, and making it for one year is probably the best they could do until they see what the future may bring.

It is not only the Russian snub, by any means, that is a measure of our diminishing stature in the world. We are now completely persona non grata in Latin America. Having finally thrown off the yoke of American oppression and exploitation, Latin American countries have been thumbing their noses at us fairly regularly of late. Our latest ham-handed demand that our European allies not allow Bolivian flights over their territory (another blatant violation of international law) seems to have reinforced the view that we are the premier international bully. We don’t seem to be doing too well in the Mideast either, having demanded Assad step down only to be ignored, both sides of the Egyptian turmoil seem to hate us, and, of course, everyone knows we are not an honest broker when it comes to the Israeli/Palestinian problem. In short, we don’t seem to be scoring any points anywhere in foreign relations.

Of course there is also the fact that we have obviously fallen far short of our previous positions on almost everything: education, health care, infrastructure, even government. I have no doubt that other countries are watching with glee our abject failure to govern ourselves, the spectacle of watching ignorant officials attacking abortion, evolution, global warming, women’ health, health care, unions, minimum wages, and etc. Where we once were number one at many things we are number one at nothing now, other than idiocy, chaos, and poverty. I have little doubt that they regard American news broadcasts in the same category as Disney cartoons, and rightly so.

 Much of this mishmash of problems obviously has to do with the absence of some overriding authority with the power to act quickly and decisively when confronted with serious problems that threaten the nation. In our so-called “democracy” nothing can be done except to wait for the next election cycle and hope for the best. The current Tea Party control of the Republican Party is a good case in point. There seems to be little doubt they desire to bring down the Obama administration, especially Obamacare, and apparently are willing to shut down the government if need be. But the Obama administration is the government, and it cannot function with one party simply refusing to cooperate in any way. Thus there is a fatal flaw in our form of government,  it is far too slow to deal adequately with problems that need immediate attention. I assume this stems from the fact that the founding fathers never imagined there could be a situation when one party in a two party system would simply refuse to govern, when the national interest would be abandoned in favor of the selfish interests of a few. A genuine revolution has always been thought unthinkable in the United States. It may becoming at least thinkable now that the extremes of wealth have become so obscene.

 We have two American flags always: one for the rich and one for the poor. When the rich fly it means that things are under control; when the poor fly it means danger, revolution, anarchy.