Sunday, March 6, 2011

Republicans and Democrats battle over spending cuts

The situation is metaphorically equivalent to the following:

An unemployed husband, whose gambling debts have bankrupted the family, comes home and, after beating his wife and kids a bit, informs them that the family financial predicament is all their fault. He points to wasteful purchases like shoes for the daughter, a repair to the refrigerator, and a medical bill for the son as examples of the wife's bad fiscal management and the kid's institutionalized dependency.

He then tells them that they will have to cut back or risk losing all they have. He makes a list of things that they can no longer afford, including any new clothing for the kids (who, in any case, have been getting most of their clothes at the local thrift shop), his wife's accounting course (which was going to get her into a higher-paying position at work), groceries, the car, and the dog.

Then he goes off to the casino with his gambling buddies.

The husband is right -- thanks to his profligacy, they are going to lose everything and he's right that they must cut back. Unfortunately, it's hard to chose the high moral ground on cutbacks when you caused the crisis that makes them necessary and when you refuse to cut back on those very activities.

Just in case this has been TOO metaphorical for some readers, the unemployed husband represents the tax-cutting Republicans, whose desire to cut taxes further and further have starved the economy of money and whose insistence on maintaning a perpetual war machine as well as letting Wall Street and large corporations run amuck has sucked up whatever money was left after the tax cuts.

The wife represents the rest of us -- the working poor and middle class -- who try and try to make a living, but can't becaue the destruction of the economy has left us with no money for food, shelter, medicine, you name it. The children represent us, too, and all those who depend on us.

The Rethuglican solution is to do more of what they have already done and to blame the results on the rest of us. The fact they can get away with this sleight of hand may be attributed to the compliancy of the media and decades of grooming of the public for just such an outcome.

The only solution is to roll out the guillotine.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Pale Imitation

My title comes from Eleanor Holmes Norton, DC's Democratic delegate to Congress and refers to Glenn Beck's Restoring Honor rally. Whether she meant the double entendre I don't know, but, given the overwhelming whiteness of the participants at Beck's PR stunt rally, Norton's words certainly made me laugh out loud when I read them.

Everything about the Beck rally is an imitation, a rip-off of better people's ideas and better people's dreams used only as a backdrop for the real agenda, which is to advance an unholy alliance between a twisted version of Christianity and a twisted vision of what America could be if only those pesky "libruls" could all be taken out and shot -- all powered by lots of money, gotten via the mechanism of the always-holy free market and Beck's convenient position with a major TV/radio network

The organizers claimed that the rally is apolitical. But, when interviewed about the upcoming rally 2 days before, Beck said "This is a moment, quite honestly, that I think we reclaim the civil rights movement." Hmmm, that's not political? And whom does he think they are reclaiming it from? He's probably hoping to capitalize on the fact that the Republican party was the party of Lincoln. Unfortunately, Beck -- who is no Lincoln -- will need to ignore a lot of his own behavior to make any claim to the civil rights movement.

For example, his war of vitriol against Barak Obama certainly seems to be motivated by more than idealogical differences. I submit that Beck and other white people of his persuasion are terrified that the country is going to become majority non-white (it is) and that they will lose the collective power that they have held for centuries.

But Beck and his buddies really needn't worry -- power and money will trump race every time. Our country is already run by oligarchs, thanks in equal parts to a national belief that taxing the rich is bad, that allowing corporations to donate to political campaigns is good, that spending on wars is good but spending on the domestic economy is a waste, that regulating so-called "free" markets is a communist plot, while allowing unfettered cowboy capitalism benefits everyone, despite ample proof to the contrary. Not to mention that allowing the rich to bribe members of Congress is the grease that's needed to keep government running smoothly.

And people like Beck want to keep it this way. The "progressives" that he claims are out "to destroy America as it was originally conceived" are his enemies, because they are the people who are trying to break the stranglehold of the oligarchy, which, among other things, would entail breaking up large media conglomerates and thereby diluting the political power of networks like FOX.

One of the things that Beck doesn't get (or doesn't want to admit) is that MLK's dreams went far beyond simple race equality and embraced the ideas of social and economic justice for all. His ideas would be anathema to Beck's beliefs in the rights of the "free" market. Can one imagine Martin Luther King as a huckster for Gold?

Beck is no MLK (any more than he is a Lincoln) and, frankly, isn't fit to clean MLK's shoes, though, if we were still living in the America that Beck and his fellow travelers really want, MLK might be cleaning Beck's.

Of course, all this is beside the point -- as HL Mencken said, "no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public." -- and Beck, Palin, and their propaganda consultants know it. That's why their invocation of religion reached such a level of intensity in this rally: history shows that big-tent religion pays handsomely, both in influence and in Mammon, the Gods I think that Beck and Palin both really worship.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Endangering our troops

The intervals between iterations of this fatuous phrase in the press are getting shorter and shorter, thanks to the recent WikiLeaks release of documents concerning the Afghan war. The idea, apparently, is that, when someone tries to break the cycle of imperialist adventurism by telling even a fraction of the truth about what's actually going on, they are "endangering our troops."

By definition, the original decision to start two wars after 9/11 -- which have so far killed more than 5,000 Americans and countless people in at least 3 Middle East countries (Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan) -- did NOT endanger our troops. This, despite the fact that the wars were unjustified, ineptly planned, under staffed, and totally mis-managed by the Bush administration. And despite the fact that the last several months -- since the Obama surge -- have seen the highest number of troop casualties, with still no apparent epiphany about freedom and democracy from either the Afghans or the Pakistanis.

Now, thanks to WikiLeaks, everyone, from the President to the press are expending more hot air on whether Julian Assange of WikiLeaks is endangering the troops than on the sordid reality of what he has uncovered about America's perpetual war in Afghanistan.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

And another great thing.......

There's another great thing about the recent Supreme Court decision(s) on gun rights: until now, our inner city neighborhoods have been shooting themselves to death in an annoyingly slow war of attrition. By arming absolutely everybody (as the Court's decisions will allow) we can elevate this tedious process to the status of a full-blown war (as in Mexico) and really accomplish some serious killing.

I thank the Supremes for affirming this enhanced access to weapons so that the fun isn't limited just to drug dealers, mercenaries, the police, and the military. Now, we can all join in!

But seriously, folks, I recognize that the God-given right to own high-tech weaponry is written clearly into our Constitution. The second amendment says, A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. For some reason, though, Constitutional scholars have argued about the exact meaning since the amendment was passed, with the word "militia" muddying up the debate by suggesting that the amendment doesn't refer to individual, private gun ownership, but rather to some sort of right to organize into...well.. militias.

And you might think that strict constructionists would have a hard time stretching the word "arms" to include automatic weapons (which hadn't been invented yet), but you'd be mistaken.

Apparently the second amendment gives us the right to own virtually anything that can be used to kill someone else. And, upon reflection, I think this is a good thing, because the avoidance of tyranny -- which gun rights advocates usually quote as a reason for the amendment -- is pretty much impossible using plain old muskets and flintlocks in this day and age when the government (the tyranny we're supposed to be fighting) has tanks, tear gas, tasers, and automatic weapons. Not to mention that they are tapping your phone and email and know what you are planning months before you do. So, being able to own an Uzzi -- and knowing that your neighbor (who disagrees 100% with your politics) has one, too -- definitely helps to level the playing field.

Monday, June 28, 2010

This just in: Sarah Palin is the Devil!

Folks, this is amazing -- it is almost as if an invisible hand were guiding my thoughts: Today I had a sudden, inexplicable urge to look into the numerological possibilities in the name Sarah Palin and look what I found out:

1. SARAH PALIN has the same number of letters as ANTICHRIST. Wow! Check it out!

2. Both SARAH and PALIN have the same number of letters as SATAN. This is really scary!!!!!

3. Every letter in her first name is the beginning of a word for the Devil. 'S' is for snake or serpent, or Satan, 'A' is for Asmodius*, the King of demons. 'R' is for Rahab*, female sea-monster or a dragon of the waters. 'H' is for harlot, which is just another word for whore, which obviously refers to the whore of Babylon, which is one of the names for, you guessed it, the Devil.

4. And, in Greek, 'palin'* means again as in "I'll be back again!"

Now I'll admit that I've never been religious before, but this is really spooky!! Please send a link to this page to everyone you know, especially the Christians, and let's hope it's not too late to save the world from this Devil in lipstick and off-the-rack clothing.

* Thanks to Joseph H. Morgan for scholarly additions from Greek and Hebrew texts

Supreme Court rules that gun rights apply locally

Who says the Supreme Court is filled with right-wing ideologues? They've just issued a ruling which trumps states' rights in favor of federal authority. I love this because it means we'll be able to count on the court -- when states start to fight the federal government over the national healthcare system -- to side with the federal government.

After all, we're talking a court that wants our government's policies to be vetted against a strict reading of the founding documents and what could be more basic and more founding than the Declaration of Independance, which claims as our inalienable rights, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? And what is more necessary to sustain "life" than healthcare for all? QED.

I'm so relieved!!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

G20 pledges to slash debt in 3 years

Yes, folks, believe it or not, according to a just-filed ABC (that's Australian Broadcasting Corporation)story, the G20 (that's the people who actually work for the people who actually run the world) has resolved for the G20 nations to cut their budget deficits in half in 3 years. The report also says that "The leaders want to tackle deficits without stunting growth, while also clamping down on risky bank behaviour without choking off lending."

Yeah, and I want to make a billion dollars without leaving my home or getting up before noon each day. (Guess I should have been an investment banker.)

In one of those lovely coincidences that makes reading the news such fun, I also just read that the CIA has signed a $100 million contract with Xe Services to provide security services in Afghanistan. As you may recall, Xe Services is the new name for Blackwater, the mercenaries -- er paramiliary professionals -- who, no doubt among other things, were involved in a firefight in Iraq that ended up with 17 dead civilians. But, what the heck, that's collateral damage: if you can't stand the heat, get out of the war zone. I guess that changing their name worked - we the taxpayer have hired them again.

Meanwhile, back at the G20 -- and at plenty of other meetings leading up to the G20 pronouncement on deficits -- the main theme has been on how profligate governments have been in providing their citizens luxury services like healthcare, retirement pensions, and so on, big social "giveaways," which, if governments weren't saddled with providing, would free up that much more money to feed the endless-war machine and to provide much-deserved taxcuts for the rich.