Been a While

Since I posted here so I thought I would ay least throw out a few random thoughts so this site does not develop rigor mortis.

As for politics, America has only one party, the establishment, with left and right wings loosely called democrats and republicans (no capitalization is intended, not worthy of it). Tea Party activists do the bidding of the republican establishment, and progressives carry water for the democratic establishment.

Sheldon Adelson, who supplied Newt Gingrich’s entire bankroll, now is putting all his money and power behind getting government on our backs, controlling the internet by banning things like online poker. Next will be angry birds?

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Published in: on February 13, 2014 at 10:09 am  Leave a Comment  

Whistleblowers Can Be An Antidote to Fascism

More than a decade after the twin towers were attacked by foreign forces, the USA becomes more and more willing to curtail our bill of rights. While the initial reaction by the Bush regime was obviously excessive: waterboarding, warrantless wiretaps and other surveillance, the end of habeas corpus, and general forfeiture of our privacy rights, we all hoped that sanity would eventually, if gradually, return.

The election of a Democrat as president did little to change this picture. We may have stopped waterboarding, but there would be no way of being sure, given the lack of transparency. Otherwise the tendency to fascistic methods of top down control by the elite has remained – and in many cases it has grown; this was even more troubling to those few of us who still care about the principles that made the USA a beacon for freedom and human rights.

If you doubt this trend, just look at the 112th congress. Infamous for having a “do nothing” approach in which far less was accomplished and fewer bills passed than any other congress, this congress was nevertheless very productive in curtailing the rights of Americans. Bill after bill passed to end these rights, with large bipartisan support, and many of these bills would not have been thinkable, even under Chaney and the specter of the 911 attack.

Is there any way out of this gradual slide to a state in which individual rights are rare? We, of course, would need a more thoughtful media. This is unlikely to happen with the mainstream media who long ago lost its soul, its curiosity, and its forebrain. The best we can hope for there is a vibrant web and blog universe, although I think it is still an imperative to crack open the cable providers, forcing them to provide dozens of smaller less commercial cable channels with divergent voices.

For me, however, the most pressing need is to make it not only possible for whistleblowers to reveal the excesses, but to insure that they are protected afterwards. There has been a little progress with this project in some spheres, but there is no protection whatsoever for whistleblowers who work for the parts of out government most likely to be abused. Nada. No whistleblowers there. We need to put pressure on our legislators to balance the erosion of our rights by encouraging a voice for those working in the muck who discover the dirty laundry, and would like to air it. Sunshine is still a good antisceptic.

General Hospitable- Soap Opera Surges

I am rather amused that everyone seems so obsessed about who General Petraeus is sleeping with or sharing his smiley faces by email.  This whole affair is more like a soap opera than a real issue, worthy of public debate. It is a reality show run amuck. I think they could have a Bachelor Pad type set up on a middle east base, with the top brass and their wives/girlfriends, complete with candid footage shot by drone.  American viewers could vote them off one at a time, until the last general and his partner get to be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

I for one am pleased that the real surge included women in a support role, but I think we would be better off if we put the women in charge of the military ansd politcal choices, especially when it comes to conflict. Men can be so alpha, and the last thing the military needs is a few alpha men trying to “one up” each other. This is, I think, the best argument I have heard in a long time, for cutting military spending.

I really thought the days of J. Edgar Hoover were over, when  the FBI had dossiers on all the politicians and could use them as they please, to end or build someone’s careers. This was the slippery slope we started back down when we made getting a warrant unncessary during the Bush and Cheney era. Everybody said, “hey, don’t worry, it will only be used against terrorists.” 

I did not  really expect to see Petraeus and Ossama Bin Laden given the same protections (none) and now we know that the agencies with access to emails and other personal communications will use them to curry favor, and to tarnish rivals.

If they can snoop and blackmail when it comes to flirtations, custody battles, and affairs, who really believes that it won’t also be done for financial and/or political gain? I want my constitution back, especially my rights to privacy.

Mitt as Bishop Counsults LDS Living Prophet About his Run

The Mormon church believes that they have, at the head of their church, a living prophet at all times, and the current one is Gordon B. Hinckley. Romney not only knows Mr. Hinckley, but met with him prior to his run for President, to get his guidance.

A candidate’s religion should not be an issue if he runs for office, unless he get’s guidance from a living prophet, or is a leader in the church hierarchy. Mitt Romney’s family have always been prominent in the Mormon church hierarchy, and Mitt Romney was for several years first the equivalent of a Bishop and later, from 1986 to 1994, an Arch-Bishop “Stake President” in the mormon church. In the latter position he oversaw several congregations in the Boston area.

In his “duties” in the church he would do things like personally invite Lani Gerson to her excommunication trial from the church. Women claim that he was insensitive in his counsel. But this is the same Mormon church that spent a huge amount of money and prestige opposing equal rights for women, not in the 1800’s but in the 1970’s and early 80’s. Latter Day Church member Evelyn Harville told the Phoenix that he declined to speak up against domestic abuse, and Romney counseled her to not abort a foetus when her health was at stake.

Romney also did “missionary” work in France attempting to convert the wine-drinking French to his alcohol unfriendly religion. While many Mormons do this missionary work in third world countries, this privileged member of the Church of Latter Day Saints, Romney, like most missionaries in the Mormon church, spent 30 months avoiding the draft in the late 60’s at the height of the Vietnam War.

If a Bishop in any other church ran for President, we would be asking how his beliefs will impact his decisions, and more importantly what conflicts of interest there will be, should he become president. Hey I don’t even know whether they will be able to serve wine at state dinners, when the French President visits to talk about the economy. Why won’t he answer questions at a town hall about his mormonism?

Published in: on September 2, 2012 at 9:43 am  Leave a Comment  
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Newt Gingrich and John Edwards at the Top?

Rumor has it that if Newt Gingrich doesn’t win the 2012 nomination, he will be running as a third Party candidate, in a party tentatively labeled as the Party Party.

He plans to ask John Edwards to be his running mate, because John is the only politician who can make Newts affair look normal (both cheated often on their spouses while they were dying of cancer, but Gingrich can argue that at least he was willing to get a divorce).

Their motto would be “A line of credit at Tiffany’s for your mistress!” Newt plans to accept Romney’s 10K bet, as he hopes to take his campaign staff along on his next Greek Island cruise. He and Edwards also plan to co-author a book entitled “The Two America’s: Those Who Commit and Those Who Won’t.” A second book Cheating for Dummies, is being co-authored with Sarah Palin.

Newt, ever the idea man, seems to have no idea how sleezy he seems.

Debt Default in America- A Financial Bonanza for Eric Cantor

Politicians are playing chicken with America’s reputation, and if they convince the world that the US is not credit worthy — by deliberately defaulting on our obligations — they will profit while the rest of us suffer. Eric Cantor has a personal profit motive, as well as a reprehensible political agenda.

Recently the Republican leadership walked out of the bipartisan debt talks chaired by Vice President Biden. Eric Cantor, GOP whip said he would not participate if the Republicans were required to bring to the table any discussion of revenues. And yesterday we heard from Republican House Speaker Boehner that the projected default date is not, in his view, a fixed date, but is an arbitrary date put forth by the Secretary of the Treasury.

If the August deadline comes and goes without progress, Mr. Cantor stands to make money while our economy tanks. In his own investments, the Majority Whip apparently has holdings in a fund that “shorts” the U.S. bond market. Mr. Cantor knows that if we welch on our debt this summer — for the first time in US History — the bond market will go off a cliff.

If that happens our economy – and the world’s as well – is likely to be devastated. But Mr. Cantor’s investments will make him a nice sum of money, in a manner more akin to being a vulture than a deal maker. This is a serious conflict of interest, and makes him uniquely unqualified to negotiate our country’s economic future.

But both Mr. Cantor and Speaker Boehner, appear to be following the lead of Mitch McConnell, leader of the Republicans in the Senate, who said his primary goal for this legislative term was to make Mr. Obama a one term president. Whatever happend to thier promise to create jobs? There must be more to governing than scoring points and padding your wallet.

The Republicans and Democrats are both to blame for much of the stalemate, with both sides dug in to their rhetorical excesses. But if the economy tanks, and goes into a double dip recession, the Republican party knows that their efforts will be rewarded at the ballot box, as the incumbents will get the blame, as is always the case.

Politically and financially, the Republicans stand to gain from trashing the economy. Let’s hope that enough of them can put their country and constituents above their own personal and political gain, and instead do the right thing. Surely there are some patriots still in both parties, it is time for them to step up.

Published in: on June 29, 2011 at 10:34 am  Leave a Comment  
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Arab Spring and the End of the War On Terror

In much of the middle east, a new wave of freedom is sweeping the area and bringing with it a new sense of power to the people. This is very good news, to the extent it continues, for those of us who would like to see terror become irrelevant.

Terror is a strategy or tool, not an ideology, although some ideologies embrace it. It is accepted and needed by the masses when the average person feels helpless, powerless, and is compelled to be submissive. Where otherwise strong men are marginalized and made to feel weak, they turn to guerilla tactics. Always have, always will.

It is no coincidence that, until now, terrorism has found fertile ground in the Middle East. After Israel won a couple wars and occupied the West Bank, the Arab world had little recent events to take pride in — and within their own countries — they had no power or influence. Whether their tyrants were secular or religious, Sunni or Shiite, the average man (or woman) had no say in issues that mattered in their lives.

If you wanted to make an impact, or be a local hero, there often were no obvious places to sign up, other than various terrorist groups.

So now we know that, with the assistance of social media, especially Facebook and twitter, it is possible for everyman to have an impact. I look forward to the time when terrorism is an anachronism, and we learn once again that the pen is mightier than the sword.

Or should I say the mouse is mightier than the IED or maybe the cell phone is mightier than the
terror cell.

Deficit Reduction: Comparing Democrats and Republicans

Democrats and Republicans have very different approaches to deficit reduction, but neither are really up to a serious muster. Neither for example go anywhere near as close to a balanced budget as Clinton did, and both take more from the poor and middle class than is warranted.

Before I go any further, I want to refer you to a straightforward comparison of the two approaches to deficit reduction by Reuters. It is much easier on both plans than I would be if I were doing that analysis.

First, the overall savings need to be much bigger than the 4 trillion target. Lets go for 5 trillion instead. Now let’s do defense. Ryan cuts nothing. Obama cuts 600 billion, without getting out of Afghanistan.  However, if we took our troops home next year, we would save, at the current rate of 119 billion a year about 1.2 trillion over the next 10 years. If we add that to Obama’s version it is now 5.2 Billion, but I would take another 800 billion out of defense (again spread over 10 years, that’s more like removing a toe nail than using a scalpel. We are already at 6 billion, see how easy it would be?

But wait! I said that I don’t agree with either side cutting so much from the middle class and poor, so lets surgically remove those savings. What would I replace them with? If we closed the loopholes to big oil that would be 4 billion a year, or 40 billion over 10, but I would double that to 80 billion, by actually taxing them to the amount we currently subsidize them.

Let’s see what else could we do?  How about a requirement for drug companies to bid against one another, rather than their current sweetheart deal? The current system is price-fixing, the opposite of free enterprise, and it was brought to us by George W, and held over by the compromiser in chief Obama.

With that change alone I would think we would make Medicare close to solvent, and we could still afford to have teachers, firefighters and policemen. We just would have to give up huge windfalls for the drug companies….

Am I done? No. I would create a new level of taxes for anyone making over 2 million a year. Their top rate could be 39%, and there is no doubt they could pay it and still amas huge sums at the expense of the rest of us, because they would still own the US congress, lock, stock and barrel.

Published in: on April 29, 2011 at 2:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Update on the Japan Reactor at Fukushima

Yesterday, in my discussion of the nuclear reactor disaster I was skeptical that the powers that be in Japan were candid as they seemed to be following their established pattern of minimizing the seriousness of the problem in their nuclear reactors. At that time, they were talking about minor problems in 2 of the reactors.

Now they are pulling the last of the workers on site out, because it is getting so bad, in three recators that were active and in the 4th where rods were in storage. The 50 remaining workers are unable to continue to work in a sustained way, and are being evacuated, at least temporarily. Should they it turn out that they are not being replaced, we are talking about a disaster that will rival Chernobyl. Even if they are only out for a short time that means very high levels of radiation.

I guess the poor souls who lived nearby and believed the PR (and stayed in their homes) will eventually be told they should leave too. Many of the Japanese were already evacuating, but now most of them will likely have to do so in the midst of some serious contamination.

I want to hear from my country (USA) what dangers may be possible for Hawaii, the west coast, and for that matter, all the rest of the world, if this becomes a level 7 meltdown. Where can I get good information on what — besides iodine — I should have handy? I suspect that staying indoors and sealing things up tightly will not be adequate, because if it gets as far as Hawaii, it will be a sustained and pervasive exposure.

I guess at this point it is time for some prayer, what else is there, certainly not nuclear science. Pray that not too many people will develop cancer. 70% of the number one reactor is reportedly damaged. They are not sure where the water level is. The fuel is crumpled and capable of melting nearly 100 tons of uranium fuel.

In the MSNBC Ed show, they announced for the first time that Japan was taking out the last of the workers, the 50 that were remaining, and these were the last workers trying to avoid a meltdown. Without them, the best we can hope for is that the reactors will not meltdown completely. The amount of nuclear material possibly at risk in this facility exceeds that of Chernobyl, and now the last best defense (the 50 workers) is gone. They say they are pulling them temporarily, but we shall see how many go back, and how many go to sick bay. If there is a total meltdown, as now seems likely, it would be at least a level 6 emergency and may well be a level 7.