Monday, October 27, 2008

Phun Presidential Phacts: not-so-trivial trivia

Here's a little brain-teaser the answer to which will make any Liberal or Progressive suffer gastro-intestinitis and probably make many Libertarians and old-school Conservatives blanch.

On Hardball - in case you missed it - Chris Matthews brought forth this little bar-bet fodder:

"When was the last time the Republican party won the White House without Nixon or a Bush on the ticket?"

For the answer go to:

Get your Pepto ready...

Is there anyone in this country that hasn't yet gotten the idea that the USA is very flawed as an example of a truly Democratic Republic? This nation is governed by the business elite through their appointed lackeys - and Bush I & II and Nixon are only three on a long list of Oval Office stooges.

Should Obama win (knock wood), he will be castigated by the Righteous Right for simply out-spending poor Sen McCain in a further attempt to undermine the legitimacy of his presidency.

(They will of course fail to mention that Bush II set the bar that Obama bested because that would negate their point and rob Bill-O and Rash Limberger of an opportunity to riff and rant)

The Right will be (gulp) right. It takes a bloody fortune to gain occupancy of the White House. Is another metric necessary to convince Americans that we are governed by the elite? You have got to be super rich or make lots of back-room deals with those who have the money to burn because they have even vaster amounts to make should their candidate win.

Is it any wonder that social programs get such short shrift?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

How IS the Weather underground, anyway?

I just watched the documentary 'The Weather Underground' - good stuff. That time was part of my political awakening - anti-Nixon/anti-war leaflet passing, anti-war rallies, the 'good old days' of political activism.

I distinctly remember attending a rally in Lincoln Park in Chicago when I was bewildered and taken aback by the change in temperment of the whole 'Movement' (as it was called then) when the 'peace sign' turned into the Power to the People salute.

What disturbed me then and still disturbs me today is that the sign of peace was replaced by the clenched fist and a call for violent action.

Back to our story...

The Weathermen split from the already radicalized Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) to be even more radical and preach the violent over-throw of the US government. They started vandalizing and aggressively challenging and provoking violent police reaction, the Days of Rage and other bad moves.

Amateur, wanna-be revolutionaries going up against the police and the National Guard in a head-to-billy-club match-up? What were they thinking...?

What I distinctly remember is that later, it was revealed that FBI agents had infiltrated the SDS and the Weather faction and had actually promoted and instigated the radical change from peaceful to violent action. The FBI went so far as to supply explosives and other stuff from the revolutionary starter-set. (This is well-documented, so before I get challenged on this, I ask that you do your own research. Thanks)

No excuses for the actions of the Weathermen but when Palin and McCain start bringing up domestic terrorist-has-beens, someone in the media and the public should make comment that the FBI (and probably the CIA) were actively working with the Bill Ayers and company as co-conspirators and terrorists during the Weather faction's most violent days.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hope is a man called 'Ralph'

If Obama can avoid the stumble at the finish-line - a Dem tradition - he should name Ralph Nader to his Cabinet.
For an entertaining and informative video, go to

Ralph gabs with the folks at Google. Level-headed, clear-eyed observations of the American political scene.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Free Trade? Tell me another one...

It's not just an oxymoron and chimeric fiction; it's a criminal economic policy.

Ask the indigenous peoples of Colombia who, with sticks, stones and slingshots, are currently battling the military and para-military forces there in a valiant effort to wrest control of their lands from multi-national corporations. Ask the Bolivians who fought Bechtel and won the clear and simple human right to drink freely from their own water supply without paying an international conglomerate for it. Ask the millions of people who have been forced to work for pennies a day in the prison-like industrial compounds found in nearly every Third World country.

Now, the Free Trade pigeons have come home to roost in the USA with the continuing loss of jobs and the egregious 'bail-out' of the investment banking giants to the tune of whatever astronomic dollar amount Secretary Paulson can rattle off the top his head.

'Free Trade' is only free if you totally disregard what it costs those who are enslaved by it.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Phony Debates and Rightful Entitlements

God, I hate these phony ‘debates’. I detest mentally and typographically bracketing the term with inverted commas. These are NOT debates. These are loosely structured opportunities for political stumping in a disingenuous setting meant to elicit intellectual formality and in the case of the ‘town-hall’ format a hint of democratic involvement by the people. Calling these sound-bite cavalcades ‘debates’ is like calling an under-done pork chop a pig; a lifeless, half-baked slice of the real thing served up for consumption.

The one point that seemed to hover like shrouded doom over the sound-stage of the most recent exchange of talking points was the matter of ‘entitlements’ and social programs. We all know (or should know by now) with rueful certainty that whenever politicians start to sound off about tax cuts and spending cuts, they mean one thing – social programs and ‘entitlements’ are going to get the ax. The programs might not be eliminated altogether; that would be political suicide. All that needs to be done is to severely limit the amount of funding to the programs and they become moribund. (The vaunted ‘No Child Left Behind’ programs springs to mind along with George Carlin’s bit where he states “No child left behind; it used to be the ‘Head-start Program’. Looks like we’re losing ground.” Or words to that effect – my apologies to George. RIP)

On the other hand – the dirty one - Pentagon ‘defense’ contracts to GE, Lockheed and the others scarffing the slop at the trough needn’t worry about the volume of swill flowing from the public coffers. They’ll most assuredly get theirs for keeping our nation safe for pork-barrels, boondoggles and ear-marks and save from peaceful initiative and diplomatic negotiation.

Of course, as private citizens, we know we’re going to get ours, too – right in the neck. Moreover, we know that whoever gets picked in November for on-the-job training in the Oval Office will choose to look beyond the pitiable effects of program cuts on individuals losing health benefits or income assistance and will focus, instead on reports on voter demographics for guidance on which programs get the short end.

This is maddening. Big John Madden-type maddening because it’s so ‘boom-bam; run the ball up the middle’ simple. That such simplicity, such obvious, self-evident nodules of truth must be pointed out, declared and clarified to an educated, adult public sets my head to shaking and my mind to boogling.

There is a perfectly good reason the term 'entitlements' is used when discussing Medi-care, Medicaid, Social Security and the other pitiful scraps that Washington deems to toss our way.

Need I say it? I guess I do - They are called 'entitlements' because we, the people who are taxed and who then provide them to ourselves for our own benefit, are ENTITLED to them.

Furthermore, not only are we entitled to the sorry dog-ends we currently snatch and scurry back to our stool in the corner with but much, much more. Consider this: a tenth of the current bail-out/sellout package would pay for universal health care for every American. Why aren't we getting it?

That is not a rhetorical question. We deserve an answer that satisfies us.

The USA is the only modern industrial nation that does NOT have universal health care. All the other industrial nations, including the Republic of China on Taiwan, have manageable, affordable health care for every citizen. Many countries, like Taiwan, even include resident aliens in the health care programs.

Where is the political will of the people, the working men and women of America? We should all be demanding that our money – OUR MONEY – be used to provide free universal health care for each and every man, woman and child. We should demand that the USA should take its place amongst the other industrialized nations, France, Germany, Canada, Great Britain by legislating and funding a universal health care system that benefits all Americans.

Speaking of which, McCain and other Republicrats like to boast about the American worker being the most industrious, hardest-working, workers in the world. Politicians like to polish the apple when talking to the cogs in the wheels of industry. (That's the way politicians operate; they butter you up before they stick you in the roaster.)

Do you ever wonder why the Western Europeans don’t much bother to match that boast about 'hard-working Americans'? It's simple. Western Europeans have, on average, 4 weeks of paid vacation annually. They also get sick days, maternity days for both parents, personal days, public and religious holidays OFF - mostly with pay. Yet, despite the fact that European workers may not match American workers in productivity or the number of hours clocked each week, Europeans have universal health care, tuition-free university education, free trade-schooling and a list of public entitlements that goes on and on. Now, Europe is no utopia, but the E.U. is seriously kicking America’s butt economically. (There’s no reason to think that the recent on-going serial catastrophes on Wall Street will change that, either.) Whatever social entitlement programs are prevalent in Europe and Asia, they have not disabled their economies. No question.

We're sold the tale that America is the richest, most powerful, most productive, most enterprising nation on earth. Yet Americans don't provide themselves universal health care or publically funded tertiary education programs. For years, as shown time and again in reputable polls, the majority of Americans want universal health care as well as other social entitlement programs yet the representatives chosen to service the will of the people choose to serve the insurance industry, the pharmaceutical companies and the other profit-driven health-care corporations. This is an unacceptable disconnect of public need, public will and public policy.

What gives?

Not the trickle-down Reaganite policies that have destroyed the social services programs that had been put into place by the New Deal and LBJ's Great Society, programs that assisted many citizens who needed and were entitled to assistance, that's for certain. Those ‘Chicago-boy’, neo-liberal economic theories championed by Milton Freidman have failed - quite often miserably.

Here is the lesson learned about ‘Trickle-down Economic’: The rapacious, anti-social greed of the super-rich allows only the slimmest stream of offal to trickle down to those at the very nadir of the withered teat of neo-liberal economic policies.

As woefully evidenced in Latin America, Africa and Indonesia, the policies of ‘Freidmanites’ more often than not send infant mortality rates higher, life expectancy lower and the majority of the population into horrifically abject levels of poverty and destitution while aggrandizing the ruling oligarchy and enriching the corporate elite.

With the on-going collapse of the investment banking system of high-stakes, high-risk gambling with massive, crushing debt, we are witnessing the neo-liberal policies which the IMF, the World Bank and the US State Department, in collusion with multi-national corporations, have ruthlessly forced upon the Third World with dire consequences come home to roost.

The Chicago Boys of Pinoche’s Chile have invaded the Beltway, folks. They have begun to demand that the American people give up the few still existing social programs that haven’t already been ransacked or discarded by Reagan, Clinton and the Bush Dynasty. McCain and Obama are both talking about cutting taxes and eliminating programs. As stated before, social entitlement programs are always at the top of the neo-con and neo-liberal hit-lists.

How has it come to this?: that the only time the Congress and the White House will support socialist economic policies is to benefit the largest of corporate entities? The American people have been bamboozled and betrayed by their representatives and agents in government service.

Our voices must be raised in unison to demand to know why we are draining the life’s blood from the American work-force and pumping billions into failed banking enterprises brought low by rampant, insatiable greed. We must demand that our government of the people, by the people and for the people steward, safe-guard and protect the health of the American people. We must demand that we get what is rightfully coming to us as citizens of a modern democratic republic – social entitlements.

Let’s see how deftly Obama and McCain can ‘sound-bite’ their way out of that demand in a one-minute rebuttal.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Happy 7th Anni-war-sary!?

Break out the Champagne (or sparkling wine) to celebrate the capture of bin Laden, the dissolution of alQaeda and the defeat of the Taliban!


Sorry, not this year.

Not next year, either.

Or in any year after that according to NATO and British generals in Afghanistan and the British diplomatic corp.

So, maybe at this '7th-Year-Stretch' we should ask the question again: 'What is the American mission in Afghanistan?'

Revenge? Retribution? Justice? Freedom & Democracy?

Or is it a never-ending gravy-train for arms dealers and a never-ending murderous nightmare for the Afghan people?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Keating 5: McCain's Part in Financial Crisis

McCain's 'maverick' stance includes unlawful acts, harmful to the public he has sworn oaths to serve.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Middle-class is NOT Monolithic

One term that was used repeatedly during and after the VP coffee klatch was ‘middle-class’.

The middle-class of America is not monolithic. By the accepted definition, the middle-class encompasses the largest segment of the American public. It is a vague demographic of financial solvency that is without doubt the most diverse of the three vaguely defined economic classes.

Name the demographic; base your assessment of the middle-class on age, race, religion, profession, level of education, number of children, property ownership, political and social activism, level of credit card debt or the preference in household pets and you'll realize that the term 'middle-class' encompasses such a wide range of disparate groups of citizens that the term is nearly meaningless. One might as well simply say 'folks' or 'people'.

'Middle-class' lacks specificity. It is a vapid, empty term used by pundits and politicians as an expedient for prattling on while saying nothing substantive.

Speaking of which...

When are any of these candidates actually going to say anything of real substance about the issues?

Perhaps when the mean temperature of the mythical nether-regions falls below zero degrees Celsius for a protracted period.