Jan 2, 2014

These guys sure ain't the Globetrotters

My Congresswoman from the 5th Congressional District, Cathy McMorris Rogers,  plays ball for a self-styled Washington all-star team that seems to have no understanding of the rules and philosophy of the civic game of governance. These particular all-stars are a collection of self-labeled  konservatives who still struggle with stick shifts and complicated words containing more than five letters.

These guys are hoping we won't have noticed just how "all-star" they are before the upcoming mid-term elections. They seem to want us to stagger forward handicapped by a flat tire at the highest level of our leadership vehicle.

We are getting no right-direction signals from any of these leaders. They have no skill up to the task of leading or even managing difficulties. Despite the lop-sided political advantage of our most recent national election and the temerity and caution of the opposition party, these supposedly wise republican leaders and strategists are demonstrating an incredible lack of skill at managing the affairs of state.

They have demonstrated a willful inability to manage or even subdue the most significant problems which routinely crop up in the normal course of political business in this country.

And as James T. Kirk goaded Khan, "You (guys) just ... keep ... missing ... the target."

If there is such as thing as a "normal situation" in this country I could say that "normally" when one party emerges victorious in an election, those who voted for the other party can take comfort in the general high quality, integrity and bi-partisan value of governing wisdom of those who did win.

These guys make it look like this country elected the Washington Generals instead of the Harlem Globetrotters. They can't dribble, can't shoot and certainly can't play team-oriented ball.

They're constantly out of bounds, palming the ball, committing foolish and egregious personal fouls and falling further and further behind on the scoreboard.

They try to play on only one end of the court where the bleachers are full of fanatics who want to change the way the game is played, who can play and what the public address system is allowed to broadcast.

If you look down their bench, you don't see anyone riding the pines capable of substituting for the fumblers on the floor and then doing any better.

You do see some of those benchwarmers nursing dreams of future stardom by focusing on the bleachers when they should be focusing on the game itself.

You see flashes in the pan for whom the team's financial backers have big plans and lots of money but also a limited self-serving priority of filling more bleachers rather than championship rings.

Not the players ...
Not the coaches ...
Not the owners ...

... none of them show skill, wisdom or even a concern that the team remain viable, competitive and effective.

We're not witnessing the creation of any kind of winning tradition here in the spirit of the Heat,  Yankees, or Patriots.

We're looking at having to endure years of the 1960's Mets when Casey Stengal asked "Can't anyone here play this game?"

Where Weenies fear to tread ...

Something else  to make old white men angry... 

Want to understand organized puppeteering otherwise known as correlated "talking points" and another unimportant theme from the  Silly Section? 


10. Yoga For Children :On January 3,  Fox & Friendsasked whether young children participating in yoga is leading to the "wussification of America."
9.Fines For Poor Sportsmanship: Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade wondered if this represented "wussification" or "good sportsmanship."
8. A Police Officer Who Was Suspended For Cursing: Fox contributor Arthur Aidala said this is the "wussification of America, literally,"
7. Paid Internships: Morris asked if interns deserve money for their work, or if this demonstrates an "entitlement generation" and the "wussification of America."
6. The Possible Redskins Name Change: On the November 1 edition of Fox News'  The O'Reilly Factor, guest host Eric Bolling was incredulous that the NFL's Washington Redskins considered changing their team name to something less racially offensive, characterizing the proposed change as the continued "wussification of America."
5. Common Core Math Strategies: On August 19,  Fox & Friends guest host Anna Kooiman wondered if new Common Core math standards' emphasis on the learning process actually represented "the continuation of the wussification of America."
4. Helmets For Youth Soccer League: Kilmeade asked if this meant "we [have] become a bunch of wussies in this country" because "we're not open to the good old head injury like we used to."
3. Human Resources:  Winget criticized America from being a "huge nation of weenies," 
2. Co-Ed Sports Teams: Bolling labeled the idea of co-ed sports teams the "wussification of American men,"
1. Firing Abusive Coaches: On April 3, Fox News' Eric Bolling described the firing of Rutgers University basketball coach Mike Rice, who was captured in a video beingphysically and verbally abusive to players and spouting homophobic slurs, as the "wimpifying" and "wussificating" of America and part of a trend in "basically making men Chihuahuas." 



Dec 11, 2013

I know what I'm doing! St. Ayn will help me ... of course you do ... of course she will

Ayn Rand-loving CEO destroys his empire 
"Crazy Eddie has been one of America’s most vocal advocates of discredited free-market economics, so obsessed with Ayn Rand he could rattle off memorized passages of her novels." 

How many times over recent months have I encountered worshippers of Ayn Rand?

Rand was not intellectually or academically qualified in any sense other than story-telling to espouse any grand theory of Kapitalism as a religion.

"His fairy godmother was Ayn Rand, the dashing diva of free-market ideology whose quirky economic notions would transform him into a glamorous business hero ... 
... Lampert is now known as one of the worst CEOs in America — the man who flushed Sears down the toilet with his demented management style and harebrained approach to retail.
Sears stock is tanking.
His hedge fun is down 40 percent, and the business press has turned from praising Lampert’s genius to watching gleefully as his ship sinks. Investors are running from “Crazy Eddie” like the plague. 
That’s what happens when Ayn Rand is the basis for your business plan."









Nov 27, 2013

How's The Government Gonna Pay Fer All That Coverage?


In recent months I've repeatedly heard a litany of scripted lamenting from self-styled Konservative or genuine Conservative Americans all concerned about the mechanics and costs of the Affordable Care Act.  True to the partisan Republican/Konservative rhetoric that seems to script so many anti-liberal persons and perspectives, the question arose multiple times.

"How the heck are we ever gonna pay fer that?"

Fact is that the ACA is well-planned whether the new government website runs like a Dodge or a Toyota or not. The funding is there despite what Faux News and Konservative Koncerned have to say about it. But my task is not to defend the party of the President. They can do that for themselves quite nicely.

No, my task is the hunting and smacking of GORKs ... King Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli went after Orcs to make Middle Earth a safer place to live.  Well,  I quite enjoy hunting dumb but dangerous animals, Grand Old Party Konservatives.

"How are we going to pay for the GOP Medicare D boondoogle."

I was asking that question some seven years ago when an earlier crop of fiscally and civically irresponsible GORKs passed the "new" Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit. That was at a time when the know-it-alls and their lobbyist coaches controlled the House and the Senate and were abetted by a president who appeared to possess the economic depth and understanding of ... well ... Orcs.

Next time the money-wasters pretend to shed alligator tears over all the aspects of the American budget that they have yet to get to the lobby trough, remember ... they're only GORKs and you can't trust GORK wisdom that doesn't exist.

Here's something I wrote that was published in its entirety in the local papers back then about the Medicare legislation Bush, Hastert and Frist blessed us with ...


Thinking that congress had your best interests in mind when they legislated the new Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit?
Think again.
To understand why your new Med D prescription benefit is so complicated, confusing and expensive for your budget, you must understand one thing about the economic theory of the elected Republican majority at the national level.
"What's good for corporate capitalism is good for the country."
They really believe that.
They really believe that economically and socially the wisest plan is for  "pseudo conservative" legislation to force all of us to get out of the way while tax cuts to the rich and loopholes to business make our lives better.
Right ...
Medicare D is modelled on one of our classic corporate capitalist national failures: our commercial health insurance system. That's the vaunted one that under the most powerful economic force in the world has left us in 37th place globally in terms of effective and quality national health care.
That's the vaunted one that any system modeled after Britain or Canda or any other country where EVERYONE is covered would never exceed the vauntedness of corporate America's capitalist dream.
Here's how they did it ... and you must remember the power of lobbying in this country and how senators and congress persons can't decide how to vote until a corporate capitalist prompts their wisdom with cash.
These wise lawmakers chose some 260 private insurers (corporations who supported this scheme with lobby money given primarily to - you guessed it - Republican lawmakers. Republicans, you surely remember, are the majority in congress and therefore have the power to turn the scheme into law). Now then, these wise partisan lawmakers have forced you to choose one of those elite insurers.
Who are these chosen 260?
Why they're private pharmacy benefit insurers, HMO's, pharmacy organizations like Walgreen's, Long's and Wal Mart.
You surely didn't think they are social-minded or populist organizations like the Grange did you?
Naw ... these aren't social minded do-gooders. They're the profit-minded self-interested.
Our economically "wise" lawmakers have now made it legal for our government to send YOUR medicare money - I mean it, the actual money that would be used as your individual medicare benefit - to the corporation you have to pick  from among the 260.
It's an automatic revenue the corporation will spend advertising or marketing costs for in order to out-muscle the competition which will then be passed on to you as part of the additional premiums you'll pay out of pocket for your medicines.
This is a free-market system run amok.
In some areas seniors have 40-50 choices of plans. The plans have confusing choices of options, many of which involve differing monthly premiums (ranging from $0 to $60).
There are combinations of deductibles.
There are combinations of co-insurance (your percentage/their percentage of the medicine's price).
There are options to try cheaper generic drugs.
There are "tiers" (levels of priority and/or allowability) based on copays, generics, preferred brands, non-preferred brands, specialty drugs ...
and whether you buy from an "in-network" pharmacy with discounts or "out-of-network" pharmacy with no discounts.
There is no standardized nomenclature (no set of names, concepts, options and plan definitions that are standard among all of the 260 chosen corporate medical monopolists.)
One uses the phrase "co-pay";
another calls it "deductible".
What if we folks have questions?
Well,  we can go on line to a web site with a complicated web answer-giver. If you're one of the 75% of seniors who have never gone on line - well, chin up! A whole new cyber adventure is out there just waiting for you to invest in another corporate hog-trough sector by buying a computer and joining the internet surfer society.
What's going to happen with this pick-your-pocket-because-you're-over-a-barrell scheme?
Remember, the Republicans got this doofus plan passed with a projected price tag of $400 billion - a little less than the current sub-total for war spending in Iraq and Afghanistan by the way.
But wait!
We then learned that the Bush Administration told Medicare officials - in the tradition of Bill O'Reilly - to SHUT UP. They were told to keep the real cost which is in excess of $550 billion a secret.
What about the sacred chosen 260?
All vendors are not expected to remain "competitive." That means that not all vendors are expected to survive in the free-market system.
No, the biggest sharks with the biggest teeth and the biggest lobby dollars will win the survival of the health insurance fittest. We'll  see the 260 reduced to perhaps 10 survivors; mega-innsurers who will slug it out for all the leavings of those other 250 who just couldn't make it.
And instead of free-market capitalism we'll have closed-market monopoly based on sending Medicare tax dollars to friends of the Republicans.
Who might that be?
Well, United Health Group is spending 75 million on marketing and operations for this new Republican give away.
Aetna= $50 million
Cigna: $40 million
Humana (a midwest regional insurer)= $80 million.
Pfizer's in there too. You know Pfizer ... Bob Dole sold his Viagra perspective for Pfizer.
But those investments are chump change compared to what happens when all the Medicare clients sign on to automatic directed payments to the chosen hog-trough recipient.
This is the Republican American Way of course and whatever premium you pay to your chosen insurer will include recovery of that marketing money.
Then there's this: You'll hear words of wisdom from the Medicare RX Education Network and may receive mailings in envelopes bearing a return address of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
You are forgiven if you mistakenly assume these are official government communications to you.
They are not.
They have been allowed by Republican free-marketer politicans to use the government's official logos.
And if you run into something called "Medicare Today," you'll be seeing a creation of the Healthcare Leadership Council.
Who's that you ask?
Well, a group of hospitals, drug companies, medical equipment makers and academic medicate centers joined up some 300 members. They then raised millions of dollars for "outreach" to get seniors to sign up and authorize one of them to receive government Medicare dollars earmarked in your name.
The 37th best medical care system in the world is 37th because that system functions in the tradition of Exxon-Mobil's double-digit billions of dollars quarterly profits.
However, the 37th best medical care system is #1 in what is the truest priority: Turning billion-dollar profits while at the same time failing to adequately treat and protect all of its citizens.
That's the linkage between corporate lobbyists and corrupt politicians. That linkage and system is more and more revealing itself as foundational to the failed economic politics of contemporary corporate conservative Republicanism.
© Arthur Ruger 2006
*Reference: The Nation, January 30, 2005 - KILLING MEDICARE by Trudy Lieberman who writes about healthcare for The Nation.

Nov 19, 2013

TIME LAPSE MAP OF EVERY NUCLEAR EXPLOSION EVER ON EARTH



Insanity ... after all that show of force, we don't seem to have anything of social redeeming value to show for our bomb-making skills.

Watch the whole thing. Don't click it out as repetitious. That would be an act of moral cowardice.

Realize that we Americans and our competitors with our boy toys just couldn't bring ourselves to not light one more ... over and over again ...

Then explain to yourself how and why we think we are the greatest country on Earth because we have the ability to do what with our firecrackers?

And of course some will say there was scientific testing going on. Of course there was.

A consequence of scientific testing reminds us that our own contemorary political and moral American heroes authorized the use of depleted uranium in Iraq to make our bombs and bullets tougher penetrators. Those heroes remain strangely silent about the horrible and enormously large spate of birth defects in the same specific combat zones.

I was asked, "Saving thousands of Japanese and American lives wasn't socially redeeming?"

The comparative ... whose "thousands of lives" are we valuing the most at the expense of the lives of others?

Wouldn't it be fair to ask residents and relatives of residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to see if their unwilling sacrifice redeemed the social good everywhere else?

We could subjectively declare - if we assumed and were insistent that we possessed the higher wisdom and the will and means to impose it - that that the social good of saving all those lives is greater than the loss of life in those two cities.

I find it extremely difficult to rationalize a form of murder as a necessary social good in which the protection of one side's soldiers and citizens at the terrible cost to anyone else is paramount. Such in fact constitutes a social evil.

The precedent established by Mr. Truman and the American government is with us today. Wise or not, we are required to acknowledge that we were the first to use those atomic weapons of mass destruction and we did so in anger and with extreme prejudice ...

We are not noble because we did that and today's reaped whirlwind of atomic terror began with that self-serving "noble" decision that many among us today rationalize.

I believe that when we make that sort of self-serving rationalization, we authorize ourselves to do it again to someone else ... and tell ourselves how much better it is to do it first before it is done to us.

After all, we are, as Geoffrey Perret wrote, A Country Made by War.


Nov 10, 2013

On gun-toting straight-shooting Konstitutionalists

the valiant men of Open Carry Texas

"A group calling itself “Open Carry Texas” showed up today fully armed with semi-automatic pistols, rifles, and other firearms.  They wanted to present a strong and intimidating front against a group they believe,  wants to limit their liberty.   Theses brave men stood shoulder-to-shoulder, weapons poised for immediate response to any hostile move from their sworn enemies.
Who were these sworn enemies, gathered to deserve this flashy show of weaponry and might?  
It was four mothers."



Right ...

Got me to thinking. It seems that the slogan driving these folks with the big iron(s) on their hips is …
“If you block me from using my First Amendment Right I will exercise my Second Amendment Right and use my weapon on you!”
… or something like that.

As to who the traitorous un-American “YOU” bent on destroying our liberties is …  and the reasoning behind the extreme step of using a weapon against another citizen, well that’s up for interpretation.

Apparently whoever it is seems to be the evil spawn of the 1930’s and 1940’s Germanic and Italian terrorists who have somehow re-incarnated into the 21st century.

But that’s confusing because aren’t them guys the historic heroic idols of extreme right wing American pseudo-patriotism?

The “H” guy? Or better even, the Mussolini guy who was not ashamed of government corporatism while lying to and bleeding the common citizens in order to keep the rich in power?

I believe it is called “carrying” ... and is part of making what is considered a patriotic statement having to do with defending our liberties whenever and wherever those freedoms appear to be under attack.

So then, what does “under attack” mean?

What is in the mind of someone who feels the need to publicly flaunt  personal ownership of a weapon because something frightens him that  is not frightening most people who are otherwise civically engaged and active.

Is there a difference?

Well, although we all have that right some of us use common sense that dictates that one need not  “carry” unless a defense of rights is under literal and immediate physical attack, war or invasion of our country.

Otherwise, “carrying” is just another word for “packing” (as in heat) which declares
‘I’m a macho guy who could accidentally shoot a kid, a little old lady or her pet if I was of a mind to. ‘
A veteran myself, I know lots of other veterans in my community who HAVE used a weapon in defense of our country.  We are genuine – the real thing - and would not hesitate to leave our homes, leave the churches before the sermon ends, leave the tavern with the last beer unfinished, drop what we’re doing, jump in our trucks, get our weapons and make haste to the scene of threat or action.

We'd do it in a moment’s notice cause we know where our weapons are – kept safe under lock and key until needed.

And for most of those I know it would not be any different if those attacking were government agents or military troops sent to forcibly take our weapons away,  put us in some kind of internment camp, force us to pay our taxes or execute us for fornication.

But  that is not what is happening.

Nothing even close to that is happening although in recent years I would not have put such a possibility beyond the reach of the those who advocated (Dick Cheney) an imperial presidency plan.

That was real.
That was political.
That was an extreme Republican Conservative move that was also endorsed by pretend broadcast patriot blowhards like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

Glen Beck would have endorsed it on whatever network dumb enough to hire him back then so long as  he could see through his country-lovin snake oil tears.

So who is packing … er, I mean “carrying?”

All I can venture is a perceptual speculation based on behavior, verbiage and posturing.

Most carriers appear to be dying to be seen  publicly wearing.

Most carriers appear to be hoping someone will challenge them so they can then draw.

Most carriers act like they will be disappointed if they don’t get to publicly use the weapon so as to be seen as heroic.

It seems to me that would-be Second Amendment heroes won’t hesitate to manufacture (imagine) enemies to the homeland in order to sustain a macho sense that hearkens back to every Wayne or Eastwood movie where the good guy gets to shoot somebody.

Or they are willing to suspend judgment and critical thinking by falling for any broadcast lie hook, line and sinker.

Consequently, when you see a carrier "packing" in public with a cold hard stare hidden by movie-hero sunglasses you can read in that stone cold facial expression and posturing this message:
“Please!
Before it’s too late and I can no longer be and feel heroic!
Please …. somebody make my day!”
Flash your weapons guys, get out those comic books and to hell with anyone else in the crowd, their children or their grandchildren.

And just like the Hannity acolyte in Tennessee who gunned down several human beings in a church because they were Hannity-defined  “liberals” …

Just like that … someone’s child will be gunned down and it won’t matter which Wayne or Eastwood character did the shooting.

It won’t matter whether he believes that Beck, Limbaugh or Fox News said it would be acceptable

… there will not be anything heroic about the perpetrator.

… only  a stick horse, plastic chaps and cheap sunglasses trying to cover cowardice, a junior high maturity and a lack of the greatest civic attribute a citizen can offer the country:

Common Sense ... One of the Founding Fathers beloved of Kindergarten Konservatives and gun-toting Constituionalists, Thomas Paine,  said give me liberty or give me death.

Paine did not everybody needs to "carry" so those gun-toters who are irresponsible can be gunned down regardless of collateral damage.

And woe unto those too afraid to speak up or disagree with the heat packers.

Nov 8, 2013

Union not putting words in their mouths ... lets GOP speak for themselves.

Latinos and other immigrants control the long-term fate of the Republican Party
One ad shared with POLITICO shows Texas Rep. Lamar Smith calling the popular DREAM Act “a nightmare for the American people” and quotes Georgia Rep. Paul Broun saying undocumented immigrants are “criminals and they need to be treated as such.”
Iowa Rep. Steve King makes an appearance in one clip, referring to illegal immigrants “hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”
And in multiple commercials, the AFL-CIO highlights Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks’s statement that he would do “anything short of shooting” undocumented workers in order to crack down in illegal immigration.
Immigration as a serious concern impacting millions of innocent American citizens.

This is primarily a propaganda effort akin to the Gingrich imagery prior to welfare reform in the 1990's that fed off citizen's imagination of welfare queens, lazy single mothers and deadbeat dads lurking on welfare rolls all over the country.

It was in fact a republican attempt to capitalize on the knee-jerk reaction back then when someone ahead of them in the check-out line started waving food assistance coupons (the easily discernible funny looking money) at the cashier.

No lie was bigger than the myth of massive welfare fraud that needed to be cleaned up. The reality was something more manageable: a reformation of a government system of handouts that enabled apathy and discouraged initiative on the part of welfare recipients.

The welfare budget impact on national GNP and federal budget has always been essentially less than the a small percentage of actual spending on military hardware and the more than 700 American military installations worldwide that politicians are extremely loathe to try and  justify.

But, needing fodder on which to tread with their upwardly mobile inflammatory jack boots, grandstanding pork-barrel politicians taught us all to belittle and disrespect the poor single welfare mothers (or less frequently, fathers.)

We were told to be indignant. The stampede was set off. ("of course MY child could never be one of those welfare addicts. How could that child ever humiliate ME? Of course I'm for Welfare Reform!)

For immigrants today we are left with the bad seed of an idea that because of the flow of illegal immigrants into this country, we are on the verge of economic and political collapse because we don't have a Berlin wall on our borders keeping the pestilence out.

For every Berlin wall-advocate I'd like to see an acknowledgement not of the criminality of businesses that hire illegals, but the political criminality of demonizing workers with families who pay taxes off their fake SS cards (thereby possibly benefiting some unaware American citizen who is getting credit for those tax payments.) At the same time these "outraged" alien fighters include in their spending priorities that tax revenue (much of which will never leak back to the workers in the form of refunds since there is reluctance to file a return.)

So we see flamboyant clowns masquerading as patriots advocating building a wall to keep the revenue source out ... they're fools and want us to join them in the fools club.

If one's political thinking never evolves to the kind of depth and complexity that the issue merits, one remains a political partisan making a fragile no-substance mountain out of a molehill of a problem.

The recent Latino protests in reality could have been proclaimed as a protest against political exaggeration and insult to an American electorate.

From my own career experience in the state public assistance office I spent more time dealing with lazy native-born gringo/jingo Americans that whine about not being able to find a job because the Mexicans took them all.

You know, them there lazy citiznes act like certain political role models who claim one false thing to pursue another more dreadful false thing ... personal access to government money 

As a gringo myself who pays attention to demographics and the Hispanic culture in which I have family, part of me looks forward to the day when Hispanics outnumber jingoes - er, gringos.

Why?

Because for Hispanics, Asians and other American sub-cultures in which which more and more citizens are being born, there remains ample substance of CULTURE and a consistent value system that reflects cultural mores of behavior, responsibility and respect (especially respect for parents and senior citizens.)

Such is exemplary of a social value system that has been been rapidly fading for years from the consumption-prioritized American populace that stops, looks and listens every time a nursing home advertises how easy it would be to buy your way out of taking care of your elders.
Another example of grandstand jingoism disgracing a nation is the notion that those who come here must speak English or die. In my experience, I've seen impending deaths of elderly immigrants and the children of immigrants averted only because they sought and found someone who could speak their language and listen to them talk about their child's or parent's health problem before it was too late.

There is nothing dumber than the statement that "My immigrant ancestors had to learn English and these are no better." No they didn't. The majority of the earliest never did. But they worked hard and they paid taxes - neither of which require the ability to speak English. And I don't think they expected the sort of jingoistic nonsense dribbling out the mouths of the noisiest of their descendants.
We don't have a mountain of a problem with immigration in this country. We have a mountain of a problem from the sons and daughters - both elected and unelected - who are descendants from immigrants.

And as AFL-CIO strategist Tom Snyder declared:

“This is just a beginning. This is a down payment. The Republican Party may control the immediate fate of immigration reform, but Latinos and other immigrants control the long-term fate of the Republican Party.”