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Endgame: What the Corporatists Really Want To Do

Diposkan oleh irfan on Saturday, April 30, 2011

Endgame: What the Corporatists Really Want To Do

In every town, you see these now. Once a thriving epicenter for commerce and labor to co-exist and thrive. America the manufacturing powerhouse that took the ingenuity of the Industrial Revolution and turned it into an economic bonanza. From the 1930s to the 1970s, the sweat, blood and muscle of the American worker represented the kind of society other countries dreamed of. Balanced with high taxes on the rich and corporations paying their fair share, society was a place of relatively low unemployment. It was a place with a middle class that could more than keep up with the cost of living and inflation. It was where the much ballyhooed 'American Dream' was born. Born of the ability to find a job, go to work, get a good education for your children, own a home and a car. Sure there were incredibly inequities towards racial minorities and women but in general terms, the way the middle class was build and sustained itself, off of in house labor, laws to protect the Unions and workers and taxes that made the top tier pay their fair share, society worked pretty darn well.

Since that point though, something happened. A loud cry from the nation's wealthiest of them all came about as their new poster boy, Actor Ronald Reagan, was ushered into office. Using his tremendous acting skills he tricked many of the same baby boomers that had been out protesting Vietnam and speaking of peace and love while smoking weed at Woodstock, to put down their signs and joints and start caring about themselves. Their strategy was to divide America into different groups. The haves, who knew better than you and owned the companies you needed in order to be employed at all... and the have-nots, those poor people who went on welfare and stole your hard earned tax money with no actual will to go to work for themselves. They attacked Unions as threats to companies' ability to hire. Made them villains for demanding such incredible things as health care benefits or higher pay. Used the potential for strikes as a way to prove that they didn't care whether you had a job or not. Used Union dues as a way to pretend you were being taxed for their political agenda.

When Reagan went after the Air Traffic Controllers he did so to make a point. Unions had no place in this new Right Wing America. Corporate donors didn't want it and their political appointees would work on their behalf.

From that point forward the American experience has worsened dramatically. The American Dream became more a dream than a reality, so distant a dream in fact that it was like the one where you're sleeping with a supermodel who in real life doesn't know your name and would likely send security guards to rough you up if you got too close.

The Wal-Marts and powerhouse corporations took advantage. Wal-Mart stopped buying USA only products and started to push their suppliers to have costs for their products so low that in order to be featured in the store it was a pre-requisite to move manufacturing overseas. Pennies for the worker makes for cheaper product.

They continued to lower corporate tax rates, taking them all the way down from the one time 90% rate to a much lower 34% under George W. Bush. It was pretty amazing that when Democrats discussed returning the rates to the 39% they were prior to Bush that the Republican party, bought wholesale by their corporate masters and the media which was owned almost entirely by corporate entities whined like this was the beginning of socialism. Of course there were a lot of Americans with zero grasp of History to know what the hell socialism was or the prosperity we as a nation have had with strong unions and with higher corporate tax rates.

All of this made no sense anyway since Republicans (and many corporate Democrats who might have been Republicans in the past but thanks to Reagan shifting the entire political spectrum, real moderates no longer existed) used their powers to give tax break and loopholes galore to companies. To the point where GE and many other corporations don't even have to pay a dime to the IRS on their billions of dollars in earnings.

The tax burden has been consistently shifted in a way where the poor and middle class are expected to shoulder a heavier burden than the top 1% than own practically everything in the country. It's been said far and wide with complete merit this year that 400 people own more wealth than the bottom 150,000,000 combined. That's a staggering statistic.

You'd think, hey they convinced Americans and even Democrats like Clinton and Obama to fall for the trickle down economic nonsense, they used work training tapes and propaganda in the media to make union membership practically non-existent. They stalled forever on raising minimum wages while inflation priced people out of society and were gleefully overjoyed when those people, out of money no matter how hard they worked had to turn to credit debt to make ends meet. But that was never enough. Nothing is never enough. Greed is a disease. It needs to be cut out like cancer. Forcibly and physically. It exists to devour all in its path and continues to grow no matter what may temporarily hinder it.

Even with all of that they wanted more. They pushed for free trade agreements and then got Government officials to approve of and give tax breaks for outsourcing, sending your jobs overseas to pay workers pennies... not just for Wal-Mart but for every industry. Now you were expendable. The Manufacturing industry is on very weak if not last legs in this country. The places where you would normally see textile plants, automotive plants, paper mills, etc... they're filled with unemployed workers and abandoned empty building space that the cities can't fill with new owners or new hope.

Free Trade Agreements were just the start. They spent the 1990s lobbying to get media consolidation so they could snap up every TV and Radio Station as well as every newspaper in every town. They now controlled the message. They owned what you heard and what perspectives you were going to be informed from. Everything you would learn from here on out was told with spin. Your kids also would fall prey to this as they bought up the textbook manufacturers and pushed their corporate backed candidates in races for school boards where textbooks were approved. They now could rewrite American History in classes. Whitewash any negativity associated with our past. A deluded American public is defiant and much more apt to defend the dysfunctional societal setup here than ever demand change. So The Revolutionary War was a war based on high taxes from the Government (corporations pet cause) and not because people were mighty upset about the tax breaks being given to the East India Tea Company nor actual representation in Congress. The Civil War was about States Rights, not slavery. Hell slavery wasn't so bad, cheap labor never is, according to our new history professors.

They got Congress to enact laws protecting loan schemes and hedgefund managers who made money off of you losing yours and set you up to fail. Then when they drove everyone into an abyss where the lack of jobs added to the impossible payment conditions of the loans meant everyone had to lose their homes to foreclosure, they went to the Government and put their hands out to take your taxpayer dollars again with little to no oversight on how to spend it... took those billions and turned them into hefty corporate bonuses. A reward for ripping you off.

They even made sure they were well compensated in other situations as well.

Want to start some wars? Great! Our corporations will be there to provide minimal services with zero accountability, just use money laundering, er, war appropriation bills to transfer those trillions of dollars into our bank accounts.

Oil spills? Sure we'll clean it up but expect us to bill you for our mess. Oh and we want further tax cuts and more drilling permits, since you know, we've shown such massive responsibility with the ones we're operating currently.

Health Care Crisis? Sure we drove rates on insurance premiums through the roof so badly that you needed a massive "reform" but give us 40 million mandated new customers and no controls on future premium prices. Sounds like a win to us.. oh but we're still going to demand its repeal because we still aren't cool with paying out any actual claims let alone for those sick pre-existing people.

It would be laughable if it wasn't so horrific.

Americans are unemployed at incredibly high rates. If you look up any job site you'll notice most the jobs pay very low wages and have little to no benefits. The corporate elite have already won, haven't they? What's possibly left for them to pillage?

If this were a war, our city would be destroyed from firebombing raids, the last remaining structures still ablaze, a few survivors covered in soot roam the area listlessly unaware of what to do next. There is a class war in America but it's been waged by the ultra rich and it represents the conflict in Israel. The Israelis have missiles and planes and nukes and the Palestinians have rocks, sticks and the occasional suicide bomber. Not a fair fight and we've been annihilated in similar fashion.

What else could they want? They have everything already.

My ex-boss once said this about one of my accounts: "I never want you to be happy. If you make $1 million tomorrow in sales on that account, work for $1.5 million the next day and $2 million the day after that. Being happy means you're complacent and have given up trying in my opinion." Now he said this when at that point the account had never broke $55k in a single day. It let me know how vast his greed was and greed is an animal that never stops eating because it's never not hungry.

To me when is enough, enough? If I own at a company that isn't #1 in the world but is in the top ten, makes really good money to support me and my family and my workers. It shows some growth but doesn't always light the world on fire. Isn't it good enough to be comfortable? Do I have to keep that company growing bigger and bigger, taking on debt and risk to my own personal finances as well as the job security of my workforce? For whom am I doing this for? I imagine if you get into the stock market game you've already declared: "I am never going to be happy! I want to own it all and be a billionaire!" Giving away that sort of autonomy with your company means you don't mind having the influx of cash nor the masters whom you now must answer to. Myself, I see things differently.

You have to understand where these people are coming from. Their intense need for power and control allows them to take risks and have their companies obtain cash for the purpose of expansion and growth. They're cool with having to meet huge goals for their financial benefactors because they too want that growth. It increases their own pocketbook size. Step by step they use this as their ladder to power. They become more and more rich and they use that financial status to gain access to the politicians whom might have never given them a listen before. You realize really quickly that these people aren't there for their constituents, they're there for you. You can offer them a nice above the board $5k donation for their primary and general campaigns and another $25k, $50k, hell even $100k for some outside group that will advertise on their behalf.

Now the world is your oyster. Having zoning issues? Not anymore! Worried about getting a tax break for something? Have no fear! Want to gut the rights of labor so that you can make America a place of low cost slave labor like China or India and line your pockets with the profits reaped from not paying regular wages? Well now, we can do that...

And that my friends, is endgame.

That's what they want.

They want it all. The only way to get it all is to decimate the American workforce and their rights to the point of making us like China. They need no environmental regulations, no safety regulations, elimination of paying social security taxes or paying into Medical Benefits... and then they need to gut minimum wage.. to say, "stay competitive in the marketplace with other major industrialized countries"... since China and India are definitely industrialized at this point.

They go after Public Service Unions partially to break the last bastion of Democratic Party Support after their bought and paid for US Supreme Court gave them the Citizen United Ruling and allowed them to advertise with unlimited dollars to buy any election they wanted, this just whittles down their opposition quite a bit. Also though they did it because with those unions out of the way their Republican friends can bring in corporate low paid workers from private firms to do these jobs. The CEOs will negotiate a hefty fee for this out of your tax dollar but don't expect that to be reflected in these workers' pay or benefits.

Also by taking out teachers, they can work to force kids into corporately funded private schools which will double as a propaganda factory, telling children only what they want them to know and making them feel it's okay to be trained to work at their slave labor camp like jobs.

Going after schools and teachers is the last real hurdle to the total revising of the American Education System in a way that will lead kids to accept and understand the importance of corporate overlords and why critical thinking is dangerous.

They want it all and they have a few well outlined goals to take it.

Once they achieve endgame, that is the systematic destruction of the middle class and the regulations which protect them in the workforce, they can begin to institute their dream scenario. Jobs might return to America but it won't resemble previous American Industrialism.

For some companies overseas, they already see America the way we see China and India. Honda and Toyota and many of the German Auto Manufacturers have invested huge in building auto plants in Mississippi and Tennessee and Ohio. Why here? Non-union states run by Republicans that gave them sweetheart tax breaks. They can pay their workers rather low wages compared to the going rate of their profession and not have to deal with any of the usual "headaches" that having a strong financially balanced society might have. Being a good corporate citizen with a conscience costs money after all.

Look at what IKEA has done. In Sweden their workers would make $19 an hour and get 5 weeks paid vacation. Sweden's economy thrives, unemployment levels are reasonable and they have a government run health care system. Things are good for the Swedes. You'd think IKEA would say, "we've done very well here, let's continue to have great jobs in these conditions". But greed doesn't allow them to think that way. They want to make more money than they know what to do with.

So they come to a downtrodden town like Danville, VA. This town has been run ragged by other manufacturers bolting from their city for similar outsourcing reasoning. Greed killed them. Yet it seems by some sheer magic, they would be spared from the same fate as many dead towns now face, when IKEA came to open a plant. And then they did. Low wages near the minimum wage, only 12 days of vacation, most of which were dates picked by the company not by you, a horrible morale and just not a good environment.

They are but another symptom of what America is becoming. The endgame is near. Corporate lackeys like Scott Walker and the like, they are willing to fight this war (even stealing elections to make sure of it) this time whereas their predecessors may have balked in the face of overwhelming anger. The John Kasich's, Rick Scott's, Rick Snyder's, Mitch Daniels... they all feel emboldened to finally drive the final nails in the coffin of union existence on state levels. The Paul Ryans and Eric Cantors feel emboldened to make the attempts to go after Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid in Washington. This is it, they've wanted it all for years and now they're finally going after it.

We wander down a completely uncharted path. They've never been this close before. Not even in 1927 or during the Great Depression. It's up to us to fight them off.

Court battles, mass protests, civil disobedience, general strikes, the greatest get out the vote effort ever... The term "keep your powder dry" has never been so appropriate.

Are you ready to fight for the soul of America?

I am.


Egypt - A glimpse into what could happen here...

First Tunisia, then Egypt... it's been a crazy couple of days in the Middle East. That's not to say things aren't generally crazy but these are two places in which dictators have kept things relatively quiet for a very long time.

The Egypt situation really has similarities to what could happen here if Americans finally got sick and tired of their pro-corporate government screwing with them and decided to force change via revolution. Now that's not me being extreme in the least. After all similar financial settings sent our friends in Greece to the brink and their people rose up against austerity measures.

There are two major takeaways that I get from these protests in Egypt.

1. It proves that American meddling in the Middle East is creating waves of future enemies... those enemies are the regular citizens of the region who see us as a force of evil there, keeping the dictators who are oppressing them in place just so we keep a foothold in the area to keep the oil pumping along. The Egyptian people believe us to be the problem and US Vice President Joe Biden only proves their point by stating he doesn't believe Mubarak to be a dictator at all. Why not? We prop up the brutal Saudi royal family, give weapons to an increasingly violent right wing Israeli government, keep our military in Afghanistan to prop up a puppet government who scammed their own elections George W. Bush style.

Ultimately it won't matter when our military leaves, the US Government has already created the anger and uproar to potentially drive a new wave of anti-American terrorists into the next few decades.

2. Here's the bigger one. Mubarak used the internet killswitch to try to quell protests. He figured he could shut down communications and prevent people from organizing so he had all the normal internet pathways shut down and then shortly after they shut down cell phone internet access as well.

Obviously all this did was further enrage the protesters and made the mess worse (coupled of course with the idiotic use of force by Egyptian police and of course arresting protesters left and right).

So why does this matter? How could it possibly affect us here?

Well that's not as hard to piece together as one might think. First the conditions are right for anger. We just had a midterm wave election built off of it. Americans are truly upset that jobs are disappearing, their wages are dropping, their mortgages were a sham and they are being foreclosed on. The anger is legitimate and deserved when you track how the very people who perpetrated this mess onto them and the economy got all of the bailouts with hundreds of billions of their tax dollars.

Now to be honest, the right wingers used it as a con game. They turned what should be legitimate anger at that situation into a way to bring in more corporatist Congresspeople who are extremists and the only thing they truly have in common with the angry citizenry is they wanted to get Democrats out of power. That was it. Michelle Bachmann and the tea party officials are even more pro corporate scam artist than the right-leaning Democrats they replaced.

Ultimately though that anger still exists and that could boil over if the unemployment rate stays near 10%. Plus Obama's State of the Union did no favors to anyone but the very ultra rich as he offered them corporate tax rate reductions and practically every incentive to keep outsourcing jobs with more free trade agreements.

That's not enough though. See, in modern day America nothing really mobilizes people to a great extent. When Bush was about to start an illegal war and tens of millions of people marched all over the nation and in Europe combined on Valentine's Day 2003, the media mocked them. They never bothered to cover it. This uprising would have to be huge for the corporate elite to worry.

In this version of America, where we are so used to technology that we have become complacent and lazy, it would take a miracle to get us off the couch for anything. Economic collapse itself is probably not enough. Not when you have Fox News and other cable news outlets telling you daily that this is all okay as long as the rich have all of your money.

The brainwashing here is rather effective. Unlike Pravda where it was obvious that they were state run television, these channels offer slightly counter views and convince the viewers that they are making up their own minds and that this is being broadcast as completely free speech rather than political talking points being regurgitated from the top down in Government by hired stooge pundits.

So what the hell would get people up and off their seats? I mean they can't even break 60% turnout on election day when they might have a chance to do something about the mess they are angry about.

I've always said just one thing would do it. Take away people's internet and/or television. It's their main form of entertainment and socializing these days. Face to face chats are second or third in line to facebooking, twittering, emailing, texting, etc.

So what Mubarak did in Egypt would probably be enough to spur all those people that think of themselves as politically agnostic and get their asses out to say something. It would create a groundswell and maybe even unify the right and the left. It would be the moment in which pitchforks and torches (figuratively) would be acceptable again and people would want to storm their government.

Now we have had our every phone call recorded for quite some time and had the government decide to attempt to record our every browsing move on the web. That never seemed to be enough, so why would this? Because while we SHOULD be outraged over those breaches of privacy and the obvious dismemberment of the Searches and Seizures element of the Constitution, we still have the internet and the phone. Yes, they are tapping our every move but we still have it.

Now imagine a day where your President said he was going to shut down your every internet communication to stop you from dissenting against the Government's plans.

Seems unlikely that would ever happen here right? Could it even happen here?


As it turns out the US Senate has been working on giving the President this power for quite some time (dating back to mid-2009). A Senate Panel approved a 4-month shut down that would not be able to be reviewed by the courts (the only place an ISP could appeal their shutdown to would be the head of the Department of Homeland Security) back in June of 2010.

That moved it into the full bill which stalled due to partisan bickering pre-midterm elections.

Well guess what came back this week in of course timely fashion considering what their buddy Mubarak did?

You guessed it, the Senate is renewing the push to get the bill passed so the President could obtain the kill switch powers. How nice of them.

So they are setting the stage for everything that is happening in the Middle East to happen here. Americans may be lazier and not as used to fighting for what we want these days (it's been a very, very long time since the Revolutionary and Civil Wars), but I'll say this: Any President that dares to flip that switch should forget about re-election or what polls say or any of that nonsense. They should be looking for protection because I honestly think, that's the one singular thing that would get Americans angry enough to storm Washington D.C.

I'm not advocating anything at all but rather making an observation about how the American people would react to that. I'd imagine Egypt would look like a Rolling Stones concert in comparison.


A quick note about the shooting of Rep. Giffords

I am 33 years old. I don't know what this is like. A politically charged assassination attempt on a current elected official in my home country. None of my generation of American Youth has ever gone through this. Yes, Reagan was shot but that still is before many young people can remember and John Hinckley was just crazy, not politically motivated.

What happened yesterday, I've only read about it in books. The 1960s in particular seems like such a crazy time period. I close my eyes and remember what I have seen in old video clips and from old newscasts. I remember what I read about. Something seems eerily similar.

A group of people fighting for their civil rights and another group of people steadfastly holding out against them for fear that the America they grew up and in always known was changing rapidly. It was a time period where a young charismatic President was in office. He was a Catholic which at the time was a pretty scary thing for so many Americans. Not unlike that of a purported Muslim being in office (even if he's not).

Talks of peace when there was clearly still lingering war going on with the Communists scared the Right Wing at a time when the beginning of social change at home was already driving them into a frenzied fear. After two World Wars and Korea, war was all these people knew. Now we were talking about pulling our boys out of Vietnam, not invading Cuba and god forbid brokering a deal with the Russians?

I imagine the culmination of all of this combined with the fear that blacks were going to run rampant and take over was scaring the right wing white male into a frenzy. The difference is there weren't as many television outlets then and they still bought into the concept of legitimate news. Not completely unbiased mind you because Edward R. Murrow sort of broke that barrier. Rather it was fact driven using serious sources and strong journalistic practices and because of this it wasn't working off of talking points or purposely catering to a specific ideology.

Back then, instead of having Fox News peddle their causes to a much larger, easier to lead audience they used back room techniques. They joined the John Birch Society (somewhat representative of the tea party today) and used such groups to help spread their propaganda.

I look at America today and I see similar shades of a totally unbalanced, scary time period.

People can look back now and see the 60s with hindsight. We made progress and broke through on Civil Rights. Woodstock occurred. The Vietnam War resistance began and eventually helped end the war, even if it was many years later. All of that required struggle and even the sacrifice of blood and lives of leaders.

I can't imagine watching the television on November 22nd, 1963 and seeing Walter Cronkite read off a bulletin that my President had been shot and murdered. Or to hear the same about his brother Robert or Martin Luther King, Jr. in such a short timeframe.

I imagine that the person that I am now would have felt hopeless that America could and would never change or be allowed to change. Of course the case can be made that certain elements of the Government were behind each killing and of course one can clearly look at the elements of Government that would have been involved in pulling such a trigger and would see such right leaning elements as those John Birchers I mentioned before. To them and to the unelected and fearful, any progress at all was a threat to a group of people who had irrationally built up fear inside of them to believe that if they did not arm themselves and fight back.

So they did.

Imagine the feeling of those people that lived through that. Every day wandering around a world of political hopelessness and helplessness where you know you don't count in America. Your voices will be silenced.

Yet knowing this, they fought on and protested more. They stopped a damn war.

The dates may have changed but is anything really that different? We have our insidious fascist groups thinking they are arguing for political power but using fear to whip up the troops. They are preying on a group of people afraid of Blacks, Muslims, Mexicans and now Gays from taking over their world. They fear the President who looks different than them. They fear the changes to the Government in the form of Health Care regardless of what it might offer them in terms of positives.

The bullhorn is louder now. Fox News, Conservative Radio, the corporately owned Mainstream Media... they shout from the rooftops and are much more effective than the old backdoor whisper campaigns. The genius of this is they don't need insiders in the Government to do their dirty work. They can call for the armed uprisings against politicians all they want and wait for their sheep to do their dirty work and they can scream first amendment all day long. They know they can call the person a fringe nut and absolve themselves of their responsibility. They know nobody has the guts to call them out for what they've done. They'll never face charges, never be publicly shamed. And when tomorrow comes and they hit the airwaves, they'll move their target and start anew. They succeeded in taking out their enemy without having to lift a finger. It's all so perfect now.

I don't want to live in the 1960s. That time period is one of lost innocence. One where all the history books about how good America was started to show how inaccurate they were. Any real historian would laugh at the irony that we taught our kids how great our country was, by lying to them.

What we knew about America had been tied together with pretty wrapping paper and a shiny red bow. The bow was perfectly proportioned and you almost wondered how it got that way without a machine. Human hands can mold things into wondrous shapes if they are diligent at changing the form to fit their needs after all.

When we started unwrapping America: The Gift we start to see things we don't want to see. A murderous enterprise engaging in exactly what President Eisenhower warned us about. War for Profit. Killing to enrich military and corporate contractors.

Was there ever a legitimate target? Not so much. A vague threat of potential communism in Vietnam. A weak and moronic enemy in Iraq. A pretty pathetic government in Afghanistan and a leader of a terrorist group we never fully intended to capture (See: Nov. 2001 -Troops stand down in Tora Bora and Bin Laden escapes).

Lies. All of it.

Their job. To keep you scared.

We need war or they'll get us. Now let us loot your tax dollars and social security funds so we can redistribute money to our connected wealthy friends.

We need tax cuts or else more of you will lose their jobs or they won't create new ones. And these rich people need zero estate taxes or their heirs can't employ you either. Don't worry though, we'll make sure when our rich friends get that money that there is no regulation forcing reinvestment. Oh and you better believe we're not going to stand for closing any foreign loopholes that prevent our friends from paying the little bit of tax money they still might owe.

They kept people scared in the 1960s about everything and ultimately it was about money. They needed endless war. They're better at the game now and a tad bit hungrier. War is not the only way they figured out that loots the American Treasury. It's still the best way but not the only way.

So to keep you distracted they make you look at the changes in your life.

High Unemployment? It's not the corporate greed downsizing or outsourcing your jobs away, it's Mexicans taking your job.

Gay Rights? A new group of people that want to ruin YOUR marriage.

Welfare and Unemployment Benefits? Robbing from the hard working middle class and giving to the lazy poor people that want to leech off of the sweat and effort you put in every day. Oh and hey, they're almost always lazy drug addicted minorities that would rather collect welfare than work.

An attack 10 years ago? That could happen to anyone at any time, regardless of what we're doing to them overseas. So give up your constitutional rights about unreasonable search and seizure and we'll tap and record your every phone call and internet movement without a warrant. Oh and hey, those evil Muslims hate you and your religion and will force you to wear a burqa.

Christmas? Atheists and other non-religious people HATE your holiday and want to destroy it and while they're at it they want to eliminate the Baby Jesus from every being a part of anyone's life.

Sound familiar?

Whip up this internal terror in people and they'll do whatever you want. Including murder Democrats on your behalf.

So when you tell people that you constantly at rallies whip into a frenzy with eliminationist rhetoric that they need to reload and put target crosshairs on a Representative's district basically sicking the dogs on them, you're calling for a hit on that person. (Below: the images Palin tried to scrub from her website immediately after the attack)

Everyone called out this nonsense when she did it originally. The View denounced it back in March of 2010. Yet here we are.

My heart and thoughts go out to Rep. Giffords and to the families of each and every family member that either lost a loved one in that attack yesterday or had a friend or family member be senselessly wounded in it.

Regardless of what the media chooses to do with this info now, it's clear that the blood is on Sarah Palin's hands for this. Just as it should have been on Bill O'Reilly's hands when Dr. Tiller was murdered after he labeled the man, "Tiller the Killer" and aired the man's address.

But let's not kid ourselves here. These people know what they're doing and what results their actions are creating. They need to be held publicly responsible for what they have done and be shamed from the spotlight for good.

I don't want to experience the 1960s. Yet, yesterday sure felt like a small bitter taste of it.


The Chill of the Winter Morning

Imagine this. It's the cold of December. Winter has hit. Blustery winds outside of 15-20 mph. Temperatures in the teens but made worse by wind chills in the low single digits (or worse). A good amount of snow outside and definitely more on the way. Just going outside to start your car means breathing in the chill and watching the steam of your warm breath fog up the windshield from the inside. Your fingertips redden quickly and sting from the touch of the freezing cold steering wheel.

Ah yes, it's the dead of winter already. The holidays are over and clearly this is time for these temperatures and the snow to become less and less enjoyable.

Now add this to your imaginary stroll through the winter wonderland in your mind. Instead of just starting the car, you're going inside of it - to live there.

It's happening more and more these days and the worst part is there appears to be no end in sight.

Someone close to me had a predicament come up where they were put in a situation by an unsavory family member who decided to kick them out of their place to live right after Christmas had passed just based on a mood swing. This left these people in a bit of a predicament. Being homeless in the winter, when the conditions aremore dangerous than at any point of the year, should invoke a perking up of the consciences in all of us to try to prevent such things. As I have mentioned here before, part of our social structure as children at least in the stories we are read, the movies we watch, who we are as people should be encased in empathy for others.

In America it seems, most of our concerns are for ourselves. The Tea Partiers and Anti-tax crew rode into Washington thanks to a wave of electoral anger from the public in general on the very promise to cut social services that helped the people most in need.

It seems the "welfare queen" narratives of Ronald Reagan have taken shape and thus the poor are vilified for supposedly stealing the money of the hard workers in the middle class. Reality shows thatcorporate welfare is where there money is really being stolen but hey never let facts get in the way of a good rant against the downtrodden who can do nothing to combat you on it.

In conversations I have had with conservatives personally I have found very much of the same mindset that Fox News host Bill O'Reilly employed during Christmas week (and was promptly crushed in rebuttal by Stephen Colbert on). O'Reilly tried to use the infamous (and found nowhere in the bible) quote about God not helping someone that doesn't help themselves. That is self-justification to hoard your money and not give to others. In fact, Jesus... you know the guy they built the entire CHRISTIAN religion around, had other ideas about holding on to your precious belongings:
Mark 10:21
Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

Here's a few more for good measure:http://encouragingbiblequotes.com/versesmercya.html

To conservatives/right wingers it's not their problem. They have no obligation to help the poor or to help people in need. They can if they choose to but ultimately it is these people's belief that many of these people (if not all in their minds) "did it to themselves". The conversations I have personally had have been shocking and eye opening. They make blanketed claims of all homeless and exceptionally poor people being "too lazy to work" or "alcoholics" or "drug addicts". So this is their lot in life. Their penance in a world filled with punishments from their angry God.

To them they have been trained that being taxed is stealing from them. Liberals and most Democrats believe that it is a good thing to be taxed more to pay for public services and to provide a social safety net in case of worst case scenarios.

The rich approach every tax increase, no matter how minuscule, as if they were Mr. Potter - the warped frustrated old man in "It's a Wonderful Life" who basically stole an $8,000 deposit from the Bailey Savings & Loan to try to railroad them and their poor customers out of business for his own personal gain. Our government as it turns out,sided with Mr. Potter back then and would do the same now. They called such themes in a movie, "advancing communism" and "attacking capitalism". Our government has not changed one bit since then.

It's protect the rich and the bankers at all costs these days as well. When TARP and the bailouts came about they were put in place to prop up the banks, not help the people they scammed out of their houses with shady mortgages. Those CEOs who had helped run their companies and the American economy into the ground got bigger bonuses than ever... some even got bonuses just for procuring the TARP funds.

And of course to shore up unemployment extensions for 2 million of the 6 million people that need them, for a whopping 13 weeks, they gave the rich another $700-800 billion in extended tax breaks as well. President Obama, always looking out for the little guy (with as little of a fight as he can muster).

Still getting the tax breaks that have crippled America and helped foster the environment of greed that has collapsed the economy, outsourced millions of jobs (and entire industries) overseas should have been enough to quiet this group of thieves down. Unfortunately it's not. They're now passing around the 'Social Security is broke' meme to eliminate that "entitlement" which is just another way of saying, "Rich people have no problem with their retirements and don't want to contribute to society anymore".

This mentality is prevalent amongst that community of people and their brainwashed political allies on the lower income half of the scale.

The conservatives will pass around the information they find in a few various articles that they, not liberals, are more charitable to dispute my commentary here. ABC News had an interesting little article on this some time back in which they try to dispel myths but sort of avoid the obvious overarching themes to how these "myths" came into existence. A couple assertions they make (with my observations in parenthesis):

-Rich people give more in overall dollars than the poor but the poor give more in total percentage of income. (Well no kidding since the poor have far less to work with in total and anything they give to causes, bills, etc is going to have a greater impact on their total working capital.)

-People going to church give far more than those who don't and not just to their own church. (The reason is that churches are collecting for their church every single week - be that for food pantry/shelter services or just to use to advertise the church or whatever that may be for, as it seems this is not quantifiable in these reports as to where the donations are going to, so their parishioners are a bit more trained to give for the good of their church. Also they give to other churches - mostly other Christian churches - because many churches have networks in which their faith is practiced regionally in different locations with the same basic tenets of their faith. I doubt very seriously these Christian people are donating to Muslim, Jewish or other faiths' charities for the most part and a lot of times if they donate to non-affiliated Christian charities they do so just seeing the "Christian" label and with a large amount of ignorance as to what that sect stands for.)

There is apparently more overall giving to charity from conservatives than from liberals but we also must take a look into the pervasive mindset that makes that so. A larger portion of liberals are poorer than conservatives are, thus as noted above the dollar amounts will be disproportionate in favor of conservatives. Also, and this is based solely on my personal observations, conservatives will give more to charities to assuage their pesky consciences (for those who have such a thing) because they hope that in doing so it will be enough to allow others to perceive them as good people. Rarely do they research or care about whether a charity is actually doling that money out to the people they profess to help. They just do it hoping for the best and washing their hands of it.

While they give money to charity there are also other nefarious reasons for such that are discounted. Such as: tax benefits. Rich people receive hefty tax breaks for being charitable. Many times the only reason they are being charitable at all is to be compensated for it. Also never figured into this is how much this same cast of characters have spent lobbying Congress or local state governments to do away with social safety net programs. If a person gives $100,000 to charity, if they get a tax benefit for it and spent say $1-2 million lobbying against Unemployment Benefits, against Social Security Benefits, against financial regulation to keep people in their homes and prevent shady mortgages and did all of this while their donation went to say, Sean Hannity's charity - one of the most corrupt out there, should we applaud them for being so "charitable"? Can we figure out a net negative charity figure for them?

On the flip side, while liberals aren't as charitable dollar for dollar, they're usually the ones that attempt to go to Washington to help others. We have ridiculous amounts of money going into tax coffers every year and while tax breaks (especially for the poor and middle class) are valid, the ones for the richest of the rich are overly excessive. Also if we cut off a large majority of our military expenditures, stopped handing out corporate welfare and used the government regulatory commissions in a way where they were law enforcement and not racquetball buddies with the companies they oversee, there would be ample money left for the most generous of charitable expenses: Single Payer Health Care for All, Better Social Security Benefits, Expanded Section 8 Housing and more funding for homeless shelters/food pantries across the country, improved public education with repaired inner city schools and better teachers/class sizes, fully paid college education grants.

All of that is not only doable, but easily so if we stopped giving corporations the money to buy a big shiny knife to stab us in the back with.

So back to the topic at hand, these people that were close to me called around to find a place to stay. I don't live in the same state as them and am not an option for them to get to. They called the local shelter and found out there is a lengthy waiting list to get in. It seems they are full and there is nowhere for most of these people to go. In the dead of winter.

Now if this were an isolated problem I would chalk it up to them being in a smaller community (around 100,000 people) but it's not. In fact it's an epidemic and has been for a couple of years.

Providence, RI: R.I.’s homeless shelters overrun as weather, recession take toll
Dover, DE: No room at the inn this year: Area shelters are full up during the holidays

Omaha, NE: No Room At Homeless Shelters - Micah House, Open Door Mission report higher numbers

Lakeland, FL: Homeless Shelters Maxed

Minneapolis, MN: Homeless in Minneapolis

There are way more articles out there. Some are just byproducts of the people that tough it out normally coming in for the abnormally harsh weather condition days but ultimately that doesn't change much. These people are all still homeless.

Not everyone that is homeless is there because of drugs or alcohol yet the implication is there and made by right wing blowhards that this is their plight.

Nobody wants to talk about the real reasons for most of these situations. The greed of the wealthy. To make more money they step on more people. Massive sectors of the manufacturing industry were shipped to China and Taiwan and anywhere they could send the jobs for exceptionally cheap labor. If they couldn't send the jobs elsewhere because of the required geography for the job, they recruited illegal immigrants (ironically while attending Republican events and angrily yelling against those immigrant workers "taking our jobs"). They then took all the service industry jobs they can like call centers and such and sent those to India. No need for American workers making the American money they need us to spend right?

You can't talk about it because it shines the spotlight on who they are. When the real light shines down the roaches start running. In their protected little circles they can be hateful and spiteful of the poor. They can be bigots and make condescending jokes about those that they rip off and squash. When it's out in the open, they look like assholes and thus they try to turn their anger on you for shining such a light rather than discuss why they feel the way they do at all.

The income gap between the rich and the poor has been growing for a decade. Right now it's wider than it was during the Great Depression (strange how the media doesn't want to mention exactly WHY we had a Great Depression considering the direction we've been taken in the past 30 years).

According to the census:

The income gap between the richest and poorest Americans grew last year to its widest amount on record as young adults and children in particular struggled to stay afloat in the recession.

The top-earning 20 percent of Americans — those making more than $100,000 each year — received 49.4 percent of all income generated in the U.S., compared with the 3.4 percent earned by those below the poverty line, according to newly released census figures. That ratio of 14.5-to-1 was an increase from 13.6 in 2008 and nearly double a low of 7.69 in 1968.

A different measure, the international Gini index, found U.S. income inequality at its highest level since the Census Bureau began tracking household income in 1967. The U.S. also has the greatest disparity among Western industrialized nations.

At the top, the wealthiest 5 percent of Americans, who earn more than $180,000, added slightly to their annual incomes last year, census data show. Families at the $50,000 median level slipped lower.

Add on top of that the indisputable fact that the poverty number is the highest it has been since 1994 AND that the total number of people in poverty is the highest it has been in 51 years and we're talking about a tidal wave of people requiring the social safety net Republicans and corporate Democrats want to gouge.

So when homeless shelters are out of room at a time when people can easily freeze to death what are they to do? The lack of temporary shelters means gathering together, starting a fire and wait for it,drinking alcohol to increase body heat. Hmm, maybe they're not all listless drunks after all. I suppose if you had to choose between some completely disconnected fool labeling you an alcoholic or staying alive because that same person voted for someone who cut off funding to your shelter or center while propping up the company that laid you off and the company that screwed you with a bad mortgage it would be an easy choice wouldn't it?

What's worse is, it's not just shelters that are strained. It's foodpantries across the country that are running out of food. It's low income housing in various communities.

Charities, the ones that operate on the level (and try to usecharitynavigator.org to help decipher how much of your money is actually going to program expenses so you get the best bang for your buck) are important pieces in helping to strengthen a community and providing a helping hand for those in need. However charity is not enough. We need to be a better society and we need our government policies to reflect this.

If you consider yourself a Christian I ask you this: What would Jesus do? According to scripture, not according to the way ideologues in your church or others might manipulate his words. Would Jesus allow his fellow man to die freezing in the cold? Would he allow people to go hungry and starve to death? Would he ask people to stay sick and not provide them with the health care they need? Especially ask yourself this: Would he do it for a couple extra tax dollars back on his paycheck to use for material things like extra DVDs, a TV set, a snuggie?

Outside of Christians I ask the same of you? Is this the type of society you want to partake in? One where the filthy rich on the top of the ladder control all the wealth and you fear for your job every day because to make that much more money, shipping your life away is but a minor inconvenience to them?

What makes you so different than those who are on the streets right now? Most of them were laid off from their jobs and were hard workers just like you are. Very few of them are the lazy stereotype that Reagan and his Neo-Conservatives wanted you to hate and demonize. Most caught a bad break. 20+ years at a manufacturing plant, laid off... weakened unions thanks to years of Republican demonization prevented a very strong severance package from being negotiated on your behalf. Trying to find work is rough especially when other CEOs for other plants in the area did the same exact thing. Move the jobs to China or Mexico to increase their bottom line and fatten their wallet with huge bonuses. You're nothing but a pawn in their game.

The months out of work eat up your savings. No college for your kids. No money for the bills or the mortgage. No place to work soon means no money and no place to live. Just like that you have slipped from one station in life to another. Middle Class Blue Collar worker, The Pride of America, to homeless bum who probably deserves it and isprobably a junkie.

Sure, they could have gone back to school. Amassed a ton of school loans they couldn't pay off. Retrain themselves for a new workforce. Of course then when they finally get out of school they'll notice the stark reality that what they went for has now also been outsourced. Computer related jobs? Hope you can relocate to India pal. The piece of paper you thrust yourself into debt for is now but a window dressing to the failure your life appears to be. College Grads with Masters degrees are flipping burgers at Fast Food joints or checking people out at the local big box retailer. They're young and still struggling. Who wants to hire a 40 year old who worked in a now obsolete field in the American workplace and then went to school to train for another obsolete field in the American workplace?

This is not an exaggeration. This is the current landscape. The American experience.

The people I know personally and mentioned above, they're working on various options and may not end up on the street at all. However we know what they're facing if it happens to get that bad.

We need our policies, our politics to be one where we're not just looking out for ourselves right now. Our tax dollars need to be directed in ways that prevent companies from shipping jobs overseas in such a laissez-faire manner. One that protects our money by closing corporate loopholes and regulates companies the way they are supposed to be. One that doesn't waste incredible amounts of money on military boondoggles. One that then redirects that money towards the welfare of the people to give the American people the bailout they deserve.

Protecting Americans from the greediest among us and providing us with the help that charities can't possibly try to provide at every turn.

Aside from politics, find your local shelter or pantry. Donate money or time if you can and try to help. It's rewarding in ways that cannot even be described. I brought my 11 year old son with me to help with last year's Salvation Army Thanksgiving Dinner and honestly I think it helped shape him as a person and probably helped in attempting to make his a better citizen and greater part of society in the future. All of us need to have such an experience. These are our fellow men, women and children. We all live a shared life experience here on this planet and we should do whatever it takes to make that experience one where we look out for one another as well as ourselves.

In Washington with our policies and in our neighborhoods with our deeds, we can prevent more people from having to venture out into the winter cold for good. We can help people from having to worry if every morning they inhale the cold breeze under a blanket, will be their last.

The question is: Who's side are you on? George Bailey or Mr. Potter?


Mid-Term Aftermath: Democrats did it to themselves.

I imagine humans are hypocrites by nature. It’s pretty hard, even for the purists out there to avoid it. After all, the mind is full of changing opinions based on changing events and that ever so crazy concept of nuance. The more information we absorb can tend to alter our original views and eliminate that initial visceral emotional reaction many of us (myself included) tend to have about things.

Still this past Tuesday was definitely the height of such hypocrisy. What makes it different than the reasonable scenario above is that the people behind the hypocrisy don’t use facts at all to change their opinions. They use zero logical reasoning oncesoever. In fact, facts contrary to their own opinions, only strengthen their resolve to push back and defend their ignorance. So with that line of thinking, Americans went to the polls in rather large numbers are voted in Republicans and Tea Party candidates. Their rationale? The economy is not recovering fast enough and Washington spends too much.

What a blanket term that is. Washington is “spending too much”.

Of course when you break it down program by program, that vast majority of people that disagree with the overall blanket term of spending, start showing that they don’t really want to cut spending.

They approve of Medicare and Social Security and they definitely approve the war formerly known as the ‘war on terror’, despite its open ended commitment and no definite resolution in sight.

What’s amazing is that around half approve of or want expansion of the health care bill which is extremely incredible after most of these Republicans and a non-stop media and corporate ad blitz campaigned against it for almost two years.

They hated TARP and didn't know what the hell to think about the Stimulus but didn’t seem to care that many Republican candidates like Ron Johnson from Wisconsin, actually took some related money from bailout receipients… while they were campaigning against it.

They also probably didn’t realize that TARP isn’t going to ultimately end up costing us much as most of it has been paid back or that the Stimulus actually helped to prevent us from going into another Great Depression. Same with the Auto Industry Bailout that saved that industry and has pretty much paid itself back already.

The voters that came out decided that even though Republicans and their policies drove us into the ditch, they were going to get another chance to do so. They ignored that Republicans spent like maniacs the last time in office. They ignored the facts that tax cuts for the rich not only did not create jobs here but only created jobs overseas (hey those used to be your jobs!).

They overlooked some serious bouts of the crazy. Christine O’Donnell’s witchcraft and Sharron Angle’s Republicans should arm themselves if they lose these elections rhetoric lost. But Wisconsin alone elected a Senator that lobbied on behalf of Child Sex Predators, a Governor that never graduated college, a Lt. Governor who touts herself as another Sarah Palin and railed against Government Healthcare when she beat her cancer(she campaigned openly as a cancer survivor) only due to her Husband’s Government Healthcare plan, and almost elected an alleged rapist to Secretary of State. Not to mention the Jan Brewers or Rand Pauls or many other whackjobs that got elected.

Yeah, the sanity went out the window because it appeared all that mattered was if these candidates were willing to rail against Obama and the Government.

Now I am not an Obama apologist. He did a lot to bring this voter collapse onto himself and it wasn’t all racism (though much of it was) where a double standard was applied to him and not to his predecessor. He was cast as an outsider. A muslim. A socialist. Trying to take the American capitalist system down. Fox News and Right Wing pundits/hosts everywhere beat this drum every second after November 2008’s result and it worked. The American people are easily suckered into such emotionally charged diatribes no matter how false they are.

What can be learned from Tuesday’s results is this: Blue Dogs/Centrists/DLCers who more closely resembled Republicans and voted against any true progressive policies lost almost 50% of their seats. Progressives/Liberals lost less than 5%. Why is that?
People want a choice. They always have. They want strong backbones, articulating different positions.

Republicans, for whatever they were otherwise, were strong. They held the line and obstructed every bill or appointment for 2 years straight and were rewarded for their do-nothingness. For no other reason than they appeared stronger. Obama came to them and attempted to compromise before bills were even set forth. He dismissed the Left at every turn, refused liberal ideas like Single Payer to even get a seat at the table for consideration. He started negotiations on the Right and only got pulled further and further over so whatever he did pass was a watered down corporate giveaway, which is exactly what Republicans wanted their friends to have. And Republicans by saying no, even if they were happy internally with what their buddies reaped financially, paid no political price for it.

I’ve said it a million times. You don’t go to a car lot attempting to negotiate by offering to pay the sticker price up front. That’s idiotic. You start off low and negotiate to a middle somewhere. Obama started at the sticker price on health care. HMOs and Pharmaceuticals had to make minor concessions but got 40 million new mandated paid customers in the process with no price controls.

Similarly weak bills saved the Credit Card Industry and Banking Industry from the sort of reforms with teeth needed to reign in what was crushing us. We did not return the Glass-Stegall regulations to end a lot of the scheming against the American Economy done by big banks. We didn’t do much of all to end any of that.
Did Republicans go along with any of that? Not really.

Also when Democrats had 58-59 seats to work with in the Senate (depending on which way the wind was blowing for Lieberman) they claimed inability to pass anything because Republicans would threaten to filibuster. Strangely enough Republicans were at 51 for much of the decade and got all of their items through. Democrats never had the spine to call them out on it and force them to filibuster. They never did what Republicans did and use procedural moves (especially budgetary reconciliation) to force qualifying items through. On appointments, Obama only used recess appointments sparingly despite Bush brazenly using them in previous years and Republicans stalling practically every appointment brought forth.

Democrats, despite being bitch slapped at every turn, acted like a prostitute that was overly loyal to their pimp and crawled right back to try to get in their good graces.

The ‘American people’ is an electorate filled with emotion and not so many facts. They had no interest in why we got to where we are they just wanted to blame Obama for it all. He didn’t come out and fight either. He waited until the last two weeks, when most of these races were already lost, to bother to campaign.

By then he had allowed the right wing media to define him for two straight years and the only prolonged, coordinated media attacks he ever bothered to make, were against the Left. He alienated the very base that elected him and attacked them at will but allowed almost unchallenged attacks to continue on the Right.

Democrats continued to kiss the same corporate rings in Congress that Republicans did only without the guarantee of protections like their counterparts received come election time. Without that corporate money trough and without your most fervent, ardent base supporters whom you’ve now alienated, good luck winning the race against a non-stop media war.

Tuesday proved that a Democratic party more interested in working for corporate masters like their Republican counterparts do not provide a viable alternative to voters.

Republicans are a one note deal. They get elected every time with the same exact line of policies: More tax cuts for the rich, no regulations to prevent companies from stealing from you, more war, if possible (already calling to attack Iran again) and giant cuts to the social safety net. Again... more war, less social safety nets is their big deal.

When they say we want to cut Government Spending, the biggest whiners about it like Rand Paul and Jim DeMint have nada in terms of actual plans as far as programs go. However if the past is prologue as it so often is, we know right where they’ll go for. They came up with an incredibly galling line saying people should be means tested for Unemployment, as if poor people who paid Unemployment Insurance don’t deserve it. Everyone paid for it, it’s their money. Yet Republicans want to steal from that pot of money. They want to privatize social security and have for years and they already stole $2.5 trillion from that pot of money which we have to pay out now. After they raid these funds they then make sure to whine about Social Security not being solvent. You know, because the funds they stole aren’t there.

They make similar arguments about Government not working and then get into office and prove it immediately.

No such cuts are asked of the Pentagon. $2.3 trillion went missingthere under Bush as if it was change that fell into a couch cushion. Nobody called for a cut to Pentagon spending. In fact they tripled the Pentagon’s spending using 9/11 as their primary reason. More money to the non-accountable.

The GOP will tout their plans to cut spending but all they have is their attempt to repeal the Health Care Reform bill. Aside from that and possibly cuts to welfare, unemployment funding and maybe education. The real cuts to be made are really the bloated military/defense budget.

Anyway, whether Obama will win or lose 2012 will be determined in how he responds to Republicans. He can come out and be willing to compromise, AGAIN, like he signaled he was willing to do immediately after the mid-term results. And he will be rightfully be painted as a coward and not a fighter. Democrats will continue to look milquetoast and even a pseudo Republican strongman like dumbass Sarah Palin will win the Presidency. Or he can fight back and Democrats can turn the ‘Party of No’ into something that works for them. Reject all Republican ideas out of hand and never allow them to pass the Senate.

Pass Tax Cuts for the Middle Class only. Make huge budget cuts to the Pentagon to drop it back to 1/3rd of what it is today. Hell, I would not give the Pentagon a dime until I took the $2.3 trillion they “lost” and applied it to the $2.5 trillion we stole from Social Security to pay that back. That would force the Pentagon to look a little harder for that money and push them to be accountable for their actions with OUR money. If people want to be outraged, there’s where they should have redirected their anger.

I’d end the Afghanistan fiasco immediately, which costs American taxpayers $190 million a day to NOT catch Osama Bin Laden. Sounds worth it for one guy.

I’d create tax incentives for businesses that create new jobs here and bonuses that kick in after keeping a specific number of them here for 10 years or more. Make it a ladder structure to reward good behavior. Penalize those that take all their business to India and China with higher tax rates. Sorry but American jobs have been hemorrhaged for decades now. We don’t manufacture a damn thing anymore and we’re killing ourselves.

Regardless what Republicans and the ultra rich want you to believe, it’s the poor and the middle class that drive the economy. When they have jobs, they spend. They have to because it’s much harder to save for them. When they spend it creates demand for supply and demand for supply creates more jobs… manufacturing, shipping, retail/sales. More people now working means more spending and thus the cycle continues. And who makes out the best? Corporations. Because a humming economy like that means they are selling more products and increasing their bottom line.

But hey, trickle down seems so much better doesn’t it? The fantasy of the American Dream as we pray for crumbs to fall off a table.

Democrats, specifically those who were thumped on Tuesday, never cared to articulate that line of thinking because they too were in the pockets of the elite. They didn’t fight for you anymore and couldn’t strongly suggest that they were. And they got shellacked. Why vote for the imposter when you can get genuine crazy?

2012 will be more of the same unless Obama retrains himself to be a fighter and Democrats stiffen their message to be the working people’s party again. And if he’s unwilling to be that guy, primary him and let’s end this centrist disaster once and for all.


"Us versus Them" - Why the Qur'an Burning is So Wrong.

When a right wing whackjob led by sensationalistic sources like Fox News or Rush Limbaugh or the like get drawn into the whole "Muslims are evil! Obama is a muslim!" propaganda it barely draws my attention.

It seems like every single day the media is giving that Michelle Bachmann/Sarah Palin batshit crazy 30% that supported Bush and Cheney no matter what they did more and more airtime. They absolutely love following these people because they're unstable and angry and fear makes for some compelling television. Which is fine if you're programming a horror movie or suspense thriller show for your TV audience but when you pretend to be journalists, well you owe the audience some facts and serious balance.

Instead we get bombarded with daily severe imbalance. Imbalance in coverage and chemical imbalance from their lunatic guests. Since Obama's election they have made sure to claim illegitimacy at every turn with that foolish birth certificate nonsense and portraying him as a Muslim who attended a Madrassa. It's rather insane but realize they tried to illegitimize Bill Clinton at every turn as well. This is the typical GOP playbook. Smear, demean, inspire fear into your base and be stubborn 2 year old children with temper tantrums and say NO to anything the Democrats offer up.

The worst part is that the crazy 30% is winning in some polls (likely push polls but whatever) and poised for a Washington re-take. Why? Don't people remember that these are the people that messed it all up to begin with? It was their tax cuts and deregulation that ran us into the ground and we want more of this?

Well Obama and a complicit Democratic Congress seemed to suffer from a sort of Stockholm Syndrome from being rolled over by Bush for 8 years... maybe it even dates back to Reagan's rule. They have no spine, don't fight for the poor or middle class even remotely as hard as they fight for their corporate buddies and well they've alienated their base to the point that they are likely responding to these polls in ways that doesn't count them as potential Democratic voters. Likely to stay home, the very base that got Obama elected and that Rahm Emanuel and Robert Gibbs have taken glee in demeaning are now being told to shut up and get out and vote or else! Or else more of the Bush years!

Yeah that should get them out and working. Thanks for all the back stabbing but if we want all the policies Republicans want (yeah they're voting No because it wins them political points as the opposition party but behind the scenes they absolutely love all the money going to their rich friends), we'll vote for them directly.

Anyway the point I am making is this... Liberal/Progressive voter apathy will have more of a direct correlation to November's Mid-term results than any pretend surge in Republican support or pretend impact of a fringe right wing nutjob group like the Tea Party.

So with that in mind we must remember that Republicans (and their phony separatist group) know one trick to turn out voters: FEAR!!!!

In 2004 they used gays as their target. As it turns out Gays just aren't the bogeymen they used to be. Muslims however, well it was Muslims involved in 9/11, the Republicans' favorite holiday, so why not bring them up and scare people some more about them? After all, there's one in the White House right?

They target a "Mosque" being constructed "2 Blocks" from Ground Zero. Except it's not a Mosque, it's basically the Muslim version of a YMCA. It's not 2 blocks away either. It's actually a bit further than that. There's already a Mosque closer than that which has existed since 1970 since before the World Trade Center ever existed. But hey, who needs facts. Besides Keith Olbermann covered this in a much better way than I ever could.

So in all of this fake outrage, the right wing lie pushers... Fox News, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, etc, kept the narrative about this Mosque out there until it drove people to a fever pitch. Winning an election has always meant more than the effect on human lives to the right wingers.

Things start to happen. Muslim cab drivers get stabbedMosques get desecrated with urine. And of course other mosques face opposition outside of the magical hallowed ground of Ground Zero and are met with Arson. Oh and let's not forget how those protests on Ground Zero against that "Mosque" went.

When you start the ball rolling down that steep of a hill, it's often difficult to stop it. Of course, they don't care about the repercussions of their actions as long as they find a way to win in November.

So now that the whackos are out in full force, the reverends of tiny fringe churches come out and have a National Burn the Qur'an Day to try to create more xenophobia against Muslims and worse to enrage an entire population of over 1 Billion people who follow the Qur'an with the same devotion as Christians do with their Bibles. How do you think a Bible burning that had national media coverage on it would go on our shores?

Christians tend to believe they're the most persecuted people in the world anyway, I assume that would just reinforce their rather ludicrous world view.

Now the Qur'an burning appears to be off, temporarily at least because Terry Jones the really crazy and inconsiderate Pastor of this Church tried to come up with some fake story about if he stopped the burning the NYC "Mosque" would be moved.

And hey, even if he doesn't, the world's craziest reverend, Fred Phelps of the "God HATES Fags" Westboro Baptist Church has said he will step in to make sure it goes down anyway. Aww, don't you love when crazies get together and make friends?

Of course the real story here is that, oh yeah, the same people that stoked this paranoia and fear, also chose to send our troops over there to work with Muslims... in THEIR countries... in a war. They are skeptical enough over our mission but they truly have a right to be.

American politicians are making reckless statements about Islam to make this worse and they see this all over our media as a mainstream story. It appears as if America is taking a side against them. The side of Christianity versus Islam.

Well after all, John McCain ran for President in the last cycle purposely excluding all other religions by spouting that 'America is a Christian nation' nonsense.

But we have troops over there in harms way. You'd think they'd be smarter about this. We don't want to appear to be fighting a new crusade with Muslims in their own nations do we? We remember how that last one went. There is no end to such a fight.

Or do we?

There's been a never ending trickle of stories, mostly buried in the papers over the past few years that makes it seem as if the Pentagon does indeed want to make sure we're sending a Christian Army out there to Muslim lands.

For instance, check these stories out:

-US Military Weapons inscribed with Christian Scriptures

-Soldiers punished for not attending Christian Concert

-Iraq: Marines try to convert Muslims

Not to mention the many things Mikey Weinstein has been fighting against in terms of Christianity's grip on the Military.

So what are they seeing over there? They see us pulling this stuff at every turn and of course they are more and more unwilling to work with our troops and unwilling to find peace with us. They don't see us as honest brokers.

They see things like Mass Baptisms in the Military as proof and validation of their fears.

Ultimately what all of this should be is a major eye opener. To anyone with any sort of honesty, we have to start to address this head on. Are we in fact a tolerant melting pot or is intolerance, much like that showed towards Gays and Mexican Immigrants in recent years or Blacks and Women before that or even intolerance towards different European immigrants... is that the real fabric of our nation?

Are we made up of so much fear and angst that our only reaction to anything is the most irrational response possible? Is it worth more soldiers dying so that we can scream incoherently against people that don't share your religious beliefs? Should we then go after Jews and Buddhists next?

If we are a country of a single religion what do we do about the large population of people who disagree with your beliefs?

And when it comes to that... are even other Christian sects safe from your paranoia?

What Would Jesus Do?

MONDAY, MAY 31, 2010

What happened to us once we grew up?

As I look around on a regular basis I generally find contempt for much of the world around me. It's not because I choose to be a particularly unhappy person or that I just want to be angry but rather it's because I look at a lot of things through the basic moral lenses I was issued as a child and wonder, where did we go wrong?

I honestly have had so many things just since the start of the Obama Administration bother me that I could be on here every day and it would definitely feel that this blog could become a regular soliloquy where I just rant to myself for the need to get it off my chest. Many of the topics would probably be incredibly justifiable as well.

Between the bank bailouts and the basic middle finger to LGBT groups (aside from this token Don't Ask, Don't Tell thing which is honestly the least that Obama could do) to the Arizona Legalized Racism Law to this total fucking mess known as the BP disaster, I could be here all day, every day complaining forever.

Usually, I use my Facebook to post links these days and complain about what punches into my soul. It's a much shorter version of this blog and to be honest, to write here I feel I want well thought out observations with source references on most days to make sure I am reaching the right notes. On FB, I can use all emotion (although I almost always source my work with links there as well) which is so much easier to do. Hell it's what conservatives live on. Facts require a lot of work and effort sometimes. Not to mention facts contradict their every single myopic belief.

But with all of these problems there is an overarching theme I believe. What were we taught as children about right and wrong?

We were taught to share. We were taught to be nice to others and to accept them if they were different. We were taught to not lie or cheat or steal. We were taught hurting people or threatening them was wrong. We were taught that everything good comes from hard work and perseverance. You were taught to respect your elders.

What the hell happened to us?

Could you imagine if we applied those principles to society today? You know what you would have? Socialism. Or at least a peaceful society that cares for those around us.

I think of this often when a new Robin Hood movie comes out or A Christmas Carol comes out. Teabaggers should rail against both of them.

"Robin Hood steals from the rich to give to the poor. That's WEALTH REDISTRIBUTION! The Poor are too LAZY to work!"

"Scrooge worked hard for his money. Being forced to give it away is SOCIALISM. If poor people want a handout they should go to work for it!"

What in the hell?

The reason those two stories are so beloved is because they are two of the greatest stories in which the plight of the poor is championed and where giving them a leg up is shown in a positive light. It's pure fantasy but we teach children with these stories and Oliver Twist and the sort that caring for those less fortunate is not shameful but rather a rewarding virtue and something that shapes your character here and in the afterlife, should there exist one.

Jesus Christ himself championed such beliefs. I suppose he too would be a pariah with this gang of unruly Capitalists that make up a large majority of our population.

Going back to what we taught our kids. Imagine how the issues of today relates to the lessons of our youth...

We were taught to share. 
To put this in context a little bit, imagine that you had four Kindergarten classrooms of 25 kids each and 1 kid took 90% of the toys from ALL of the classes for themselves and basically told the rest of you to make due with what was left over. That you weren't good enough to play with these toys and that kid rigged the system so that every day when they got into class they had access to get to the toys and any more toys that they wanted out of that box before you even got into the classroom. Pretty unfair right?

Well congratulations because in America, that's what we see on an everyday basis. The top 1% control our entire economic wealth and the rest of the World's right along with it and they use every cheating advantage they can to make sure that the American Dream stays just that. A never ending dream from which you will never awake.

We were taught to be nice to others and to accept them if they were different.

This one was a big deal. First, your parents didn't want you getting into fights at school because many times your mouth would try to cash checks your ass couldn't cash. But also they wanted you to make as many friends as possible. You see making friends makes school and life way less stressful and a lot more fun. You don't have to be best friends with everyone in your class but if you at least try to get along with them and understand their differences, it makes the time when you have to stand in line by each other on the playground for any length of time far less awkward. Have to sit on the school bus for a long field trip ride? Well guess what, we can talk and get along!

But today and obviously as we used to do in the past we have not always followed the same guidance we shared with our children. As adults we have tended to move to locations to shelter ourselves from different people. Despite the racial desegregation that helps to alter the demographics of the classroom and provides diversity, as adults we re-segregate ourselves into communities where we shelter ourselves from the every day realities of those different than us. In cities you will find African-American neighborhoods, Asian neighborhoods, Latino neighborhoods and in many suburbs or rural areas that's where you find most white people living. It's this distance from one another that tends to make us not understand each other fully.

Inside the urban areas where most minorities live though there is a far greater understanding of each others' daily struggles and needs. They tend to see the same economic struggle because they share the same job market. They see the difficulty in their schools because they share the same school districts. White people in surburbia and rural areas don't see the same things. They forget that their grandparents and maybe even parents populated those places in the city a generation before and they too may have had an impact on the deterioration of the community. We all do our share at some point or another.

Yet from their safe distance many people tend to point fingers at one another. To hate another race of people. After the Civil War most had hoped that things would be settled once and for all on this issue. Another 100 years later and we were still working to pass a Civil Rights Act. Now we've decided to use an economic downturn and massive job losses as a reason to pass xenophobic laws that legalize racial profiling against Hispanics in Arizona and have tried to roadblock Homosexuals in every attempt to have the same legal rights as their heterosexual brethren.

In the annals of history the side that has discriminated has always come off looking as the most evil assholes of all time. Aside from White Supremicists, nobody has a very fond memory of the Strom Thurmonds or George Wallaces of the world. And the right wingers that constantly work against the equal rights and basic fairness of others, 20-30-50 years from now... will be in the same conversation as those well noted racists or hate mongers.

I'll come back to the main solution for the Arizona problem in a second.

We were taught to not lie or cheat or steal. 

Basic rules to follow right? Except that our President got busted 7 years ago lying to our faces on national television to twist our arms into letting him play war for fun and there was no consequences. This after he and his brother and their henchwoman Katherine Harris cheated and stole the election down in Florida in 2000 and then were able to repeat the feat in 2004 with Kenneth Blackwell in Ohio.

I suppose the basic rules of conduct go out the window when the leader of your country broke every one of them while in power. However we know this isn't the case for low level thieves. Police investigate the small guys and they go into jail.

The problem is that it's not proportionate in how these crimes are addressed. There are probably a million political operatives and elected officials breaking the law every day in terms of how they fatten their wallets while in power and what laws they can break to continue to seize the levers of power from the American people in favor of their corporate benefactors. However we know damn well they are not ever going to see a criminal charge for a single one of those offenses.

Instead they get off Scot free while the guy that robs a liquor store gets 15 years in prison.

"Well the liquor store guy used a gun! His was putting lives in danger and there was force involved!"

Sure. Except that when you're raiding the treasury for your rich pals to get government bailouts or contracts at the expense of the social safety net (Unemployment Insurance, etc) then you really are putting lives in danger. People losing their homes and living on the streets because a company was told by our government that outsourcing is a good thing and so they laid you off, all the while you had been duped by a junk mortgage with an ever raising interest rate that you now all of a sudden couldn't afford and the only net you had was unemployment while you struggle to find work during a supposed economic recovery that is not creating many real jobs... well you just put these people in serious danger. Sure they could hope to find a place to live in a shelter.. if the shelters in their areas have room for them.. many do not.

I'd argue that in most cases the guy robbing the liquor store is at the end of his rope and doing it out of necessity. While Congress and CEOs are doing this with already overloaded and incredibly fat wallets. That to me, makes their act even more callous.

We were taught hurting people or threatening them was wrong.

Or so I thought. My son's elementary schools constantly teach about the negative effect of bullying. As adults we seem to forget that the bullying in real life has a different name. These are the people that abuse - emotionally and physically - people around them. Have you ever seen an abused spouse? Many times they allow themselves to be trapped into the routine. They have legitimate fear of leaving the situation because it could get worse if they try to go. They hold on to whatever few good times they had even when there are almost none currently nor have there been in a very long time because holding onto hope is less scary than running away and starting over... or trying to get away and being abused further if they can't leave.

I think of this pattern and see America. We remember our country's heartwarming tales. The absolute courage of the Colonists that risked their lives against a military empire just to fight for the very concept of freedom. The stories of the Underground Railroad. The Martin Luther King Jr. Civil Rights marches. So many of the moments we canonize as this concept of America revolve around the indelible mark the founding fathers had on us when it came to what the term 'freedom' means as a nation.

And then 9/11 comes along and we toss all of that aside for safety and protection from an enemy that does not have the ability to strike at will and planned the 9/11 major attack for years and years before finally getting lucky enough to pull it off. And this isn't even counting the fact that if Bush had cared at all to read his August 6th, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing and act upon it, we likely wouldn't have had an attack at all.

A big event happens and we, the emotionally abused victims, lied to and cheated on over other military issues in the past (Vietnam specifically), clung to our abuser even though we should have known that he was completely untrustworthy. The abuser took more liberty to take our liberties. Illegally wiretapping ALL of us (not some of us or even just suspected victims). Eliminating Habeas Corpus. Detaining American Citizens as well as regular muslim men with no association with al-Qaeda together in a place where they had no right to have a fair trial, make a really proper defense in their case or worse yet, they can be held indefinitely without even being charged with anything. It's a crime to humanity and it would make our forefathers vomit violently in their graves.

This was, of course, proceeded by the Patriot Act which helped strip our rights as Americans away.

But this is just the freedom and civil liberty thing. If you really want to see how we act like abused spouses, take a look at how moronically we cling to capitalism even when we have proof that the concept of profit over all (the very basis of capitalistic thought) means purposely destroying moral boundaries and wrecking the lives of millions. Congress plays along. They deregulate everything to help grease the skids. They pass laws making it easier for these companies to create junk products to sell people and eventually collapse the system under. They do this neatly while basically being on the payroll for these people come election time.

They have Americans so brainwashed into believing that despite the meltdowns that cost you your car, house, job and possibly family... that any other economic system, namely socialism, is Nazi Germany or Communist Russia.

Even though they totally distort the values of another economic system because they want to confuse you with examples of evil violent authoritarian governments, they do it because they know you're still confused into buying into the "American Dream".

We were taught that everything good comes from hard work and perseverance. 

Ahh and here's where that American Dream comes in. It's the core basis of Reaganomics isn't it? Work incredibly hard and great things will happen to you! You may never be rich but if you go to work every day you might own a house and a car and make a decent wage and live comfortably for the rest of your life.

Of course that sort of has been the mirage the rich have been using since the beginning of time right? Spruced up just enough to keep modern and relevant to your current belief system.

Reaganomics believed that if you target everything for the rich, most notably major tax cuts, that they will take that money, reinvest some of it into their business and the crumbs that fall off their lavish dinner table might just reach you in terms of potential new jobs...

Except that the top-down economic philosophy is just a consistent failure. What we've learned is those rich guys up top they pocket that tax cut. If they hire anyone at all it's overseas for pennies on the dollar thanks to outsourcing. And in fact this new found money might allow them to expand operations in China or India or whatever and that tends to mean more factory closings state-side. The companies then report record financial numbers. The assholes that could afford large amounts of stock love this. It's an economic upturn for them. For the average guy who was working hard and living for the American Dream, they just had the dream turn into a Freddy Krueger style nightmare and they're sort of hoping they lose in the dream just so they don't have to wake up to the hell that awaits them financially.

Corporations have unprecedented access these days to Congress. It's so blatant that even the Democrats, once considered the party of the people while Republicans held the banner of the Corporate Elite above their heads proudly, turned into the same greedy, CEO-beholden group of politicians as their opposition. Corporatists like the DLC got one of their biggest players in Rahm Emanuel helping to control Obama's agenda and from there it's been a windfall for them.

The Banks and specifically Goldman Sachs got bailed out to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars. HMOs and Pharmaceuticals got everything they could have wished for in a Health Care bill that forces every American to buy coverage from them and provides no price controls to prevent them from continuing to scalp consumers. And BP, when they, Transocean and Halliburton (of course) create possibly the largest environmental disaster ever does anyone force them out or do something to penalize them? Not a chance.

Oh and hey getting back to that Arizona thing like I promised... while crazed xenophobic people look at illegal immigrants as the reason they are losing jobs, I think it's time to point the finger at the people that are keeping Americans out of work. It's clearly corporations that are hiring illegal immigrants and specifically recruiting them to come here. The penalties they pay (if any regulatory agency even does anything at all about it) is usually less than the actual immigrant themselves faces. It all adds up to a cost effective solution to avoid paying the American worker even the minimum wage they deserve.

Let's not kid ourselves people. Most of these jobs are farming jobs or jobs that require the person to be on-site in the specific geographic region in which they are hired. If they could outsource this they would but they cannot due to the necessity of the job being done where the immigrants are hired.

They recruit these people for the same reason they outsource. Because they could care less about America, the community or people around them and because their CEOs want to make ungodly profits. And hey, you people can be angry and forcibly toss as many of these workers out of the country as you want, they're not getting penalized so they'll just find more. So much for your brilliant strategy now suckers...

Create a forceful regulatory agency that regularly goes through the books of these companies and double checks social security number duplication to sort out fraud and penalize these companies at $1,000,000 per offense, per worker.

Stop the recruitment and watch the immigration numbers fall sharply.

You were taught to respect your elders. 

Sometimes as a kid I hated this. Parents... Grandparents... man they can be assholes. However you still had to respect them because, well, it was the rule.

I don't necessarily think you have to listen to them as if they're always right. I mean being generations older usually puts you on the wrong side of a lot of issues that have long been settled amongst younger people (racism, homophobia, etc). However it is good to at least respect our elders enough to take care of them when they get older. Such respect is hard to find when Congress aims specifically to make cuts to Medicare or wants to turn Social Security into a similar stock boondoggle that 401Ks have proven to be (biggest ponzi scheme ever?).

I think the belief in Washington is that, "well the elderly never really know what's going on anyway, let's buy off AARP and we can confuse them into whatever we want to do."

They certainly did this with the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug plan. Guys like Rep. Tom Petri who has over a $1 million in Walgreens stock were able to sponsor and pass a law that made most seniors pay even more for their prescription drug plans and prevented Medicare from doing what the VA does and group negotiate for lower drug prices. What a pile of shit.

Every time we turn around corporations are eliminating pensions leaving seniors with no retirement money and then you get Bush, the Republicans and now even Obama saying they want to "fix Social Security" which only means, "privatize it and make it a giveaway to Wall Street"... you know the guys that fuck everything up for a profit.

There is no respect for elders or for that matter other people anymore.

When I see America, I see a country that is at each others' throats. Blaming one another for the problems we see today. Victims in a misinformation campaign that has managed to create an illusion that there is no class war by the rich onto the poor and middle class but rather it's just the lazy, uninitiated poor that want to take the last of what the ever shrinking middle class has left.

That's just not true.

But you know, if we even remotely followed the rules and tenets of our childhood lessons, we might start to see the forest for the trees. We'd begin to understand that America as currently constructed is a failed state in which unless real change occurs, (not the false hope campaign sloganeering of a corporate protectionist) the concept in which our forefathers most notably Jefferson envisioned for us, will die a cruel humiliating death.

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