Changing of the Guard

January 29, 2013

Fox News has announced that the contract for Sarah Palin as a “contributor” to their dendrites will not be renewed. Along with the dismissal of Carl Rove this might represent a changing of the guard at the extremist cable network. Oh, there’s plenty of sub-cortical nuts and blonde-haired bobble-heads left to assure a continuing reign of fear-mongering and misinformation, but the release of two of the G.O.P. standard bearers might indicate less of a change in the networks philosophy than one in the G.O.P.

 Rove may have been released because he poured a lot of the Kool-Aide about Obama losing big – or at least wasted too much of the money of the real corporate sponsors of the G.O.P. to be overlooked. However, Sarah “Barracuda” Palin represents a more nuanced firing. Always well known for her flamboyant, if not vacuous, commentary, she was a spokesperson for the Republican base: a Cougar whose appeal to old, angry white men was more than enough to forgive her many mistakes and misstatements. I suppose she should be sent off with a grudging admiration for stretching her 15 minutes of fame to a half hour and a hearty goodbye.

So with the image of the G.O.P. clearly in transition from the image of old, angry white guys (watch out Hannity and O-Reilly), who will be the next “bella figura” on the Fox Network? My money is on a token Hispanic woman or two, and possibly a young gay male to compliment Ryan and Rubio as the new face of the G.O.P.

Like that will really help. 

You Know You Are Conservative If…

January 28, 2013

The G.O.P. National Committee met in North Carolina this week to lick their wounds and to figure out how to recruit “women, young people and Hispanics” (the press notice was remarkable in its not mentioning African-Americans), while adhering to their “core conservative principles”.  As we all realize this is a center-liberal Country, with liberal policies on social issues (such as the right to abortion, immigration and gay marriage) and social programs very popular among the majority of Americans, but especially among women, the young and among minorities. If the G.O.P. wants to remain faithful to their  conservative core their best option may be one suggested by Stephen Colbert – to find a way to “genetically enable Hispanic women to give birth to old white men”.

In case you were wondering what it means to be “conservative” here is a short quiz, based on the Tea Party admission forms:

1.            Do you ignore and totally mistrust science and scientific research?

2.            Do you believe that evolution is an idea spawned from the depths of Hell?

3.            Do you believe that Government is far too intrusive in our personal lives, but that Government should  force women seeking abortions for medical reasons to have an ultrasound probe into their vagina and have people imprisoned if they practice certain forms of sex acts (even consensually)?

4.            Do you believe that Government policies should be in conformity with Christian religious principles (except Catholicism)?

5.            Do you believe that we should defend Israel no matter what their government does because God is going to come and take us all away when the Temple is rebuilt in Jerusalem?

6.            Do you believe that you have an unlimited right to any weapon to shoot government agents when they come to take those weapons away?

7.            Do you believe that all abortions should be illegal because women have a natural ability to not become pregnant if raped?

8.            Do you believe that President Obama is: a Marxist, a Socialist, a Fascist, a Muslim and a foreign agent?

9.            Do you believe that Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid should be eliminated?

10.          Do you believe that the government should not provide any disaster relief for any State outside of the South? 

Answering “yes” to 3 or more of these questions means that you are a genuine Conservative, and functioning sub-cortically. 

Inauguration 1965 (2013)

January 25, 2013

“A nation that spends more money on military defense than on social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.”                         Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


I have to say that while watching the inauguration of President Obama for his second term, I had some mixed feelings. Of course, his election probably saved the Country a lot of grief, but isn’t it a sad commentary that simply preventing the Republicans from totally destroying the economy and the social safety net is the best we can do? President Obama said all of the right things regarding focus on social programs and saving the middle-class, and ending the war(s). I hope that his failures in his first term in these regards were a function of a slow learning curve, but recent revelations suggest differently.

For example, when considering the “surge” in Afghanistan a few years back Obama was told by Leon Pinetta  “you can’t go against the Generals.” The Commander in Chief was told her can’t tell the generals what to do! The last President who tried to rein in the power of the Pentagon was Kennedy. He was assassinated two months after signing a Presidential Directive to withdraw forces from Viet Nam. Full one-third of our spending is on Defense (more proportionally than during the Viet Nam War), while poverty levels are nearly at the same levels (after decades of reductions).

I remembered the words of Dr. King in an era where were fighting an interminable war on behalf of a corrupt government because the Generals felt it was necessary, and I wondered if indeed we had become a nation spiritually dead – killed by the cancer of a military-industrial complex. 

Military (Gun) Madness

January 24, 2013

Back in the day… there was a popular song by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young called “Military Madness” which captured the popular sentiment of the day. It had a refrain of “Military madness is killing the country. Solitary sadness creeps over me.”  Nothing seems to have changed, except maybe for the worse.

Consider the fact that we have been at war continuously for nearly 12 years. It is the longest period of war in our country’s history. It has robbed us of our wealth, not to mention the most precious loss of the heroes who serve in the military. The continuous warfare has exhausted and demoralized our troops and bankrupted the Country. Military suicides are at an all time high, and the loss is exponentially higher when you consider the families that have been broken as the result of endless deployments, deaths and PTSD.

When “Military Madness” was first released it reflected the sadness over a war to protect a corrupt government and against the popular will of the population. It was a nonessential war which accomplished nothing except the deaths of millions of Asians and over 50,000 Americans. The wealth of our country was diverted from necessary social programs to arms merchants and the military industrial complex. Literally, money was diverted from education, health and anti-poverty programs to endlessly rain down bombs on people – to no apparent success or purpose other than to kill them. Here we are in 2013, doing the exact same thing…

It occurred to me that the madness is not just in our foreign policy – the carnage isn’t just directed to other peoples in other nations. Mass killings are being perpetrated in our own country and our society seems just as unwilling or unable to stop it as any war elsewhere. Nothing significant will be done to curb gun violence in our own schools and streets because the same people who have owned and directed our foreign policy since WWII now own our government, at least the Congress.

It’s sad.  

NRA Membership Up, Intelligence Down

January 22, 2013

The vast majority of what the NRA does as an organization is laudable. Training people on the safe use of guns is one example. However, there can be little doubt that it’s leadership has steered the organization toward lunacy, and in so doing has become a destructive force in our society. Many prominent NRA members have denounced their membership even as the NRA has announced a sharp increase in membership recently (i.e. since the Newtown massacre).

Everyone, except the majority of their membership, recognize that the policy positions of the NRA are determined more by corporate profits of gun manufacturers than reflects the beliefs of their own membership or what would be good for the country. For example, most NRA members support background checks for ALL gun sales and improvements of gun ownership data files. The NRA leadership have rejected even these essentially cosmetic gun control measures. I have a simple solution for their ridiculous proposal to turn schools into armed camps. How about this: put a well trained and vetted armed guard in every school and on every school bus. Pay for it by imposing a 100% tax on all gun owners, gun and ammunition purchases. What do you think the NRA leadership would say to that? The over-under on their rejecting the proposal would be 1 second and 2 seconds, because the NRA is owned by the gun manufacturers.

Even more destructive has been the hatred and fear-mongering sponsored by the NRA. Remember all the rumors before President Obama was elected the first time about his plans to “confiscate every privately held gun” or “restrict the purchase of ammunition”? They were lies then and being resurrected again. Fear is their tool to enslave our society in a cycle of increasing gun violence. Why otherwise intelligent people continue to be a member of an organization increasingly seen as the lunatic fringe is a mystery to me, or maybe I am making an assumption about the quality of the remaining membership?   

Gun Nuts and AIG

January 18, 2013

I think the Tea Party has finally found the intellectual and inspirational successor to lead them after Dick Armey absconded with some of their corporate sponsored loot: radio talk show personality Alex Jones. Anyone watching Piers Morgan (you have better things to do with your time), or have seen the YouTube videos of the interview of Mr. Jones will probably react with a mixture of amusement and revulsion.

However, I saw all of the prerequisites of a Tea Party leader: paranoid delusions, extreme agitation, a breathtakingly ignorant understanding of history and unfocused hatred rooted in fear. At one point he voiced the belief that guns were necessary to fight the government (our government) seeking to take the guns away. I guess since the government possesses nuclear weapons, he would advocate the right of every American to own their own nuclear weapon to defend against the Government.

The bottom line to the resistance to attempts to minimize gun violence is the same paranoid delusions voiced by Mr. Jones, although they are rarely as honest as Mr. Jones. It is an irrational and illogical belief system (and they have the guns). This is one of the more convincing arguments in favor of gun control: gun nuts. You know who I mean… the same guys who claimed that Obama would take away all private guns during his first campaign. I guess that delusion has been resurrected, even though Obama has actually made it easier to purchase and carry guns!

On the other hand, the decision of AIG to sue us (i.e. the taxpayers) for bailing them out of bankruptcy could be enough to motivate a little violence of its own. It turns out that they feel that we taxpayers didn’t pay them enough to purchase the shares we did (we owned 80% of their stock at one point) to help prevent those shares from becoming totally worthless. It simply confirms our suspicion that many bankers possess greed unbounded by any sense of conscience. I would LOVE to be on that jury and send them a message they will remember…  

It’s So Cold In the “D”

January 7, 2013

A few years back a You-Tube video made by some kids in Detroit went viral. “It’s So Cold in the D” was the object of derision because it was so poorly written and sung by a group of poor black kids, and because it offered a glimpse of a culture very foreign to most white Americans. (It even had a moment on the infamous “Beavis and Butthead” cartoon). On the surface, it seemed to confirm many stereotypes of urban, black youths. I couldn’t help but see past those stereotypes and listen to what they were saying. The message was sublime and profound at the same time.

The song laments the violence that is an everyday aspect of life in Detroit. Last year, Detroit set a record on the number of homicides – more than 1 homicide everyday was committed in Detroit. Add on countless incidents of less deadly violence, and one can only wonder how any family could survive in Detroit. I am not bashing Detroit, there are many families surviving and many good aspects of living in Detroit. However, what these children were singing about was as much a plea as it was a statement. It is so cold in the “D”, and the question is spot on “what are we going to do?”